I am SICK of overprotective snotty mothers!

My second child is naughty.

There I said it.

Lets make no bones about it.

I have two sons aged 5 and 2. The first was always a 'busy' child who didn't sit still for a second, he still likes to explore and question...pretty much everything. However he also would fall asleep standing up, is extremely relaxed in nature and kind. He was the child that always seemed to get hit, bit, scratched, you name it he's had the red mark. I was often told its because he is tall for his age and kids will see it as a threat. Discovering Toddlers are more like animals than human beings I could well believe that maybe his height was going to stir the adrenalin in rug rats. I rarely got involved in soft play scuffles or play group brawls though believing its the law of the jungle and they will sort it out themselves; hopefully becoming more normal pre schoolers after 3. I often told Archie to "just brush the crumbs off" i.e. get on with it, similarly he hardly ever seemed to flinch, even when once coming back to our table bleeding with a profusely apologetic mother of a son with over zealous teeth. "It's fine" "They are just kids" "Don't be silly" were my catchphrases and I meant them. Why should an already frazzled mother feel even worse when her child does something out of her control or something the child hasn't become mature enough to learn not to do?! It would be similar to bollocking someone when their dog pee's on a lamppost.

I'm glad I had this experience because my second child is the 'Attacker'. He's not much of a biter but he loves hitting, pushing over...like making sure they come off their feet and occasionally a bit of hair pulling. I'm not proud of it. Even in a "boys will be boys" type way Dad's seem to favour, I am embarrassed and wish to god he.would.just.stop. I have tried every punishment under the sun, our "Naughty Step" is almost bald but still it continues. He will also normally go straight over with his white blond curls, baby blue eyes and say "Sowwwweeee" and then give them a big a kiss. This however does not seem enough repentance for a 2 yr old child in the eyes of some mothers who on most occasions their child hasn't even reacted or cried from the shove but they are acting like a chunk of flesh missing from their cherub. This feeling of over reaction has been building for some weeks and has become even more noticeable now his brother has started school and we are back to doing younger activity's with other under 3's. Now not as distracted by having two children, I'm noticing all the disgusting looks I'm getting when my child isn't acting like a doll.

A few weeks back at a soft play he was running around with friends and knocked over a little girl who was about 7, it was a total accident the child didn't even cry so I just let it be. 10 minutes later I hear someone shouting "Is that YOUR son?! He's just smacked my daughter!" Granted I didn't see it but as I said she is nearly double his size and not upset except for the fact that her parents are going mental at me. The soft play went silent and everyone was looking at me. I couldn't believe his reaction, I did apologise and made Oscar do so immediately too but this was obliviously not enough because the cringe worthy rant continued until I snapped (more out of embarrassment that this couple was causing) and said "He has said sorry, he is only 2 what should I do whip him?" The next week we went to the beach and Oscar was actually on best behaviour even asked to pose for some photographs to be featured in a magazine. A little boy turns up with his Mum and a bag of toys, Oscar and his best bud are sharing their diggers etc but when Oscar picks up one of the other toys...from a  happy meal the mother takes it off Oscar like it's a family heirloom. Oscar being Oscar preservers and continues to try and play with the toys when other children might have been deterred. This must have irked the mother with an obsession for these plastic pieces of tat and she actually takes one off Oscar and says "Dont touch *xyzs* toys" I couldn't believe it and neither could Oscar because he promptly shoved the little boy when he tried to take his (Oscars) spade off him....Lovely.Not. Last week we went to another soft play and Oscar gets into clash over a motorbike, he hit the little boy and left a tiny mark. I hear the child cry and go over at once, as this was not OK. As I am walking over, the boys mother is going quicker than Usain Bolt to whisk her son into her arms. I explain to Oscar that was naughty and in the time it has taken to do that the Grandmother has joined the full body examination at my side despite that the child isn't even crying any more. Oscar doesn't want to say sorry (obviously) so I do, explain he has a big brother so is often too rough and say "You will now go on the naughty spot". Then the mother and Grandmother pipe in, "You shouldn't have done that, scratching is awful" "That is really bad" on and on and I had already started to walk away with Oscar as if they are going to lecture my 2yr old who doesn't have a worldly possession you could take from him and it matter; so how is this speech going to help?!

It finally came to a head yesterday when we went to a music class that both boys have enjoyed since they were baby's, its a great class with live music, we haven't been for a while but sitting mostly still for nearly an hour now watching someone play the guitar is too much for Oscar. He was over excited from the beginning and started shoving kids in the circle everyone sits in, then he turns the circle into a race track zooming around knocking over some smaller ones. There were some others, not surprisingly also boys who too went on a mission to look at the toilet, tried to escape out the front door and set off the fire extinguisher instead of singing 'Row your Boat' but Oscar was the leader. I can see all the glaring looks of snotty mothers, as if they are watching a grown man flash their child not just a 2yr old over excitedly stroke their hair. They were all watching with fingers ready as if to grab their child out of this monsters way, tutting like their child would NEVER put a foot wrong....how would they know when they can barley walk? As we all dance about in a circle holding hands with each other Oscar grabs onto one of the mothers jumpers and she instantly peels off his hand and snarls "Get off my jumper". There wasn't one kind word or sympathetic look to be seen and I just had to get out of there not even half way through. I have never felt so judged or rejected in my whole life and this is 5yrs and 2 children into being a mother. One of the class teachers must have noticed me leave and came out to the car park to check I was OK... I actually started to cry! I cried. She gave me a hug and said it wasn't even that bad but I was so mortified, frustrated and upset. I wont ever return. 

Please don't think for one second that I think it is OK for my child or any child to hurt another one. I can totally understand why some mothers/parents would be upset and are watchful of their children BUT if I am obviously doing all I can to prevent this why do you want to make me feel bad? If my child is still being even 10% as wild when he is 4 I will be taking even more serious action and I will also have some way of actually punishing him because he will care for more than the next nano second and just getting his own way 24/7. He's 2....he is 2. Has your child never done anything wrong? Have they never made you feel like you wish the ground would swallow you up? No. I honestly wish the most toe curling tantrum in.public on you then. I hope your child sinks its teeth into mine one day and maybe then you will see what its like for you and your innocent child to feel like garbage for...nothing really. Only I wont make you feel bad, I will be the one in the supermarket when I see you with tears in your eyes giving you a pat saying "Been there many times, your'e doing great" or when you're beetroot head to toe, sweating in soft play, I will explain that my child once did a poop right there! This whole over protective malarkey is ridiculous, you're the reason children's scooters now say "This product moves when used" and Playdoh have been forced to have the new phrase "Fun to play with but NOT TO EAT" incase they get sued. Just let kids be kids and us all stick together not make the day even worse. Oh and I did I mention I was reeeealy sorry?

Ash xox


Lego Cake. #Tutorial #Legomovie #Recipe

I'm sorry that there are not a lot of pictures and therefore a more detailed account of exactly how I made this cake but it was a bit manic on the day including our downstairs bathroom being ripped out and then the husband disappearing to play rugby so I forgot to take pictures! Anyway I will do my best, use some of my other blog's from the archive to save me repeating myself and show you as much as I can on how to make this cake. 


To go back to work after a baby or not?

In the past few months it seem's A LOT of people have been asking my opinion on whether or not to go back to work after having a baby, so I thought I would put my thoughts on the matter here as I have done it both ways. I'm not going to do the pros and cons of both, you can decide those. The most important thing to remember though is there is no right and no wrong in this situation, its what works for you and your baby. I can assure you that you cant win there is guilt and stress with both but as soon as you accept that, it all gets easier.

I am currently an "Accidental Stay at home mother" no really. I know I am lucky and some people think they would love to be in my position, I'm not complaining but I didn't exactly choose to be. One day when I was 25 the husband said "I really want a baby" I said "No lets wait a few years" and he said "No it could take a long time and I want a baby while I'm young" and I thought "Hmmm your right it could take a long time".... I was pregnant 3 weeks later. So along came Archie, and from being certain I would return to my job, I instantly didn't want to go back to work and instead spend all my time nurturing my little bundle...hormones are mental.seriously. The months progressed though, he started to get teeth, cry for irrational reasons and the final nail in the coffin ...he started to walk. Although I was beginning to feel a bit of cabin fever and knew our home would irrevocable be a pig sty now, I still thought it would be nice to give my full attention to looking after Archie, despite having a job I loved and one willing to accommodate part time hours. I chewed the decision over and over for months, we could afford for me not to work but at what sacrifice to our lifestyle and Archie? 

I'm not going back to work...are you insane?

Here are just a few things that went through my mind.

  • Now half of my wages would be on childcare...who knew it was SO expensive?!
  • Can we afford for me not to work and still do swimming lessons etc with Archie?
  • Did I have a baby for someone else to raise him?
  • Am I selfish to want to work?
  • Could I just give up my career just like that?
  • What if Archie HATES nursery?
  • What if I cant get another job after a break?
  • Who will cook the tea and do the housework when I'm at work?
  • What if Archie is ill and cant go to nursery?

I know some are crazy but they are all relevant and I'm sorry to be sexist but how many Dads are out there worrying about the 'Work/Life Balance'?....0%...Well until there is no food shopping done.   However I didn't need to drive myself a bit insane as fate intervened, sadly the husband became seriously ill for 6 weeks (thankfully 100% recovered) but he doesn't get sick pay, so now it was financially necessary for me to work to get us back on our feet. I had in the back of my mind that, if I didn't go back to work I would never know what it was like but if I did go back and didn't like it or Archie was suffering then I could always leave after a few months and truly know what was on both sides of the fence. I know that isn't exactly an employers dream but I truly think our economy wont thrive again until it is made more affordable, flexible and easier for parents to work. Before kids I begrudged our tax going on things like nursery for other people's children but now I've experienced how important it is. Baby's are only little for a few years, supporting them and their parents is an investment to our country and work force. Anyway enough of the heavy. After a year off Monday night dread came back no bother at all, I honestly was thinking this was wrong "I'm only going back until I can leave" but despite not looking forward to my first day back, unlike some people I didn't feel terrible for putting Archie into nursery. He had to go while I worked so what was the point of feeling guilty? On the first day he did bawl his head off but again there was nothing I could do, so I left him having a cuddle with the his lovely nursery nurse and I actually drove to work feeling literally like a monkey had crawled off my back. I did call mid morning to have it confirmed that as soon as the door had clicked shut behind me he was fine. Apart from the odd date night this was the first proper time I had spent without Archie in a year, not to mention I had just had a pretty intense few weeks with the Alpha Male being in hospital and it felt nice to be me again for a bit; I cant tell you what rolling the windows down and blasting your favourite tunes (not Disney) on the way to work can do for the soul.

Um on second thoughts....

The whole day I had this feeling I had forgotten something but I think it was my guilt. I had several cups of tea throughout the day and drank them while they were still hot, I caught up on some adult gossip, finishing all of my sentences and actually listening to my friends responses, it was like a little fog cleared in my brain and I was able to concentrate on a task until it was totally finished, if anything I was more efficient at work. Peopled called me Ashlie not "Archies Mam" not to mention I had a blissful 30 mins at lunch taking the time to pick something I actually wanted to eat and enjoying it without being interrupted or having to clean and sweep the floor afterwards, now I could see why my friends had said they come to work for a break. I knew I had made the right decision and this was perfect for us all. I worked 3 days which was nice to have something for me, earn a bit of extra money for our household and Archie was having a whale of a time mixing with other babies and doing tonnes of 'messy play' that my OCD didn't really permit often. It also meant I had two extra days to devote to Archie taking him swimming etc and to catch up on house work so we all had clean clothes and food in, then the weekend to enjoy as a family. I'm not saying it went smoothly all of the time there may have been a few times when me and the husband had both worked a full day, then had the predictable 'Who has it harder, who's done more' argument over putting Archie to bed and cooking tea. Also by far the worst part is that children from aged 1-3 yrs get every little bug, cold and virus going and even if they are now fine, if they have a temperature, have vomited or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hrs they are not allowed into nursery. So you are raring to have a day at work and have to make the horrible phone call to your boss, that you cant come in...again... because your'e fine but your child is not. On the whole though it was definitely right for us.  

Then Oscar came along. I worked until 5 weeks before my due date and had every intention of returning to work again in a years time. However the wheels were starting to wobble when I realised on my part time wage, with two children in Day Care plus Archie doing practically an extra year being an early September baby, (I know I don't have to even explain that to the parents out there reading this) so I would be better on benefits?! I honestly would just break-even on the packed lunch and petrol needed to get to work. Now I know friends who have done this for a year or so to keep their jobs once over the hump and the child has started pre school but again fate would play another hand to us. Firstly just 3 months before I was supposed to return to work my department was made redundant, there was talk of another job but it was full time and now I was quickly realised that having one child is like having a dog but having two is like going from having a dog to running a Zoo, so I needed less hours not more for the time being; in a way I was relieved but also sad....hormones man. Secondly the husband got offered a really good promotion which would involve relocating to Texas for 6 mths and a lot more off shore work for him which meant I couldn't work as had no childcare for the boys, but as a family we decided to go for it; you only live once. This is now over a year later, we moved to Texas, had a ball and moved back and that is how I became an accidental SAHM. Some days I love it when I'm teaching the boys new things, we can do what we like or if they are ill, I can take care of them and I don't have to make that horrible phone call to the boss but if I'm honest I do crave my 'Work/Life' Balance back. We are in the house a lot more now so it does seem like an endless cycle of housework and I have only not gone completely brain dead from I believe starting this blog. 

The game changer.

I guess for some the grass will always look greener and I can see how frustrating it would be to want to be a SAHM but you cant financially manage it. The only thing I would say is think carefully about your decision, contrary to popular belief I'm NEVER shoe shopping and eating chocolates here, looking after children (even yours) 24/7 is not for the faint hearted, you literally never get a break, which even from the hardest professions out there you get the chance to walk away for the night. I am speaking from my own experience where all of our relatives work full time so we don't have any help or someone even to call in on for a cuppa/ 20min rest and the husband has worked away for 5 mths solid this year so it can be tough; I don't care what anyone says or try's to guilt me with it is healthy for both of you to have some time away from your children. If you have ever done a solo food shop and it feels like a holiday you know what I mean. 

Times have changed so much too, but they haven't really caught up with society's views, woman are pressured to work and pressured not to work but still expected to have a clean home and tea on the table. Back in the day obviously women never worked and their job was to look after the family but back then most people lived with relatives or other women were at hand to help each other out, the husbands Nanna told me their Grandparents lived with them so there was a lot more help/support on tap. She also told me kids could play happily with other kids in the street for hours of entertainment, so you had a chance to get the evening meal made. Now people live (sometimes 100s of) miles away from family, there are so many cars on the roads too and frankly freaks out there its just not safe to let younger children just disappear to play out. Every once in a while the husband will make the fatal decision of asking me "What I've done all day?" if we are knee deep in Legos, dirty washing and its Cornflakes for supper...often. I always answer the same way "You know when the boys go to daycare its really nice of them to do all the washing, tidy the house and make the tea isn't it?....oh wait no they have looked after the children all day and SO have I"....he soon gets the message. Maybe I will work again soon maybe I wont but that's the biggest thing I've learnt with kids, is you fly by the seat of your pants.

Like any job its sometimes the best thing ever...sometimes not.

6 questions that might help you make the decision.

1. What do you want to do? I was going to put this last but to be honest its the most important because you should settle in your heart what YOU want then go from there trying to make it happen. If money had nothing to do with it what would be your choice, be totally honest. At the end of the day its you that has to do this not your spouse not anyone else, feeling stressed to death trying to get both of you suited a booted, out the door and then dropping a crying baby off, all before 8 am. If you cant have your choice that's hard but at least you tried.

2. What are your options? Know your rights here on the CAB Website. 
At your job could you maybe go part time or 80% or flexible hours so you can finish earlier? Would you be able to take a career break or are they looking for voluntary redundancy....ideal opportunity for some breathing space and a change get your ducks in a row before making a decision.

3. Can you afford it? REALLY do your sums. Do you know the average nursery for one full time child is the best part of £1000 per month...dont worry everyone knows its expensive but NO one knows exactly just how eye watering it is until the baby is already here. What does that leave of your monthly wage? If you give up work you not only will loose your salary but you will need to factor in the extra food and clothes for children and some hidden costs, like baby groups, music classes, swimming lessons etc all the things you are now guilted into, to 'stimulate' your child so you cant be blamed if they become a murderer see more here Are my kids spoilt...enough? . They only seem a few pounds here or there but once you add them up £££. I worked out all the little groups and stuff we did =  £50 a week = £200 a month have you got that on top?

4. Now can you actually afford it? If you absolutely can not pay your usual bills stop here the decision is made. If you however could cut back, are you willing to have just one car, not have holidays, cut your bills back, could a relative help even just one day with childcare maybe you could afford to go part time?

5. How will it effect you and your family? Are you willing to become a full-time, nanny, chef, chauffeur, house keeper and yet not contribute to the household income? I can promise you despite doing this really hard job 24/7 there is no pay and there will come a day when your spouse will say "No we cant have that" about something they don't deem worthy like.... a new pram that's 10x lighter than your current one that's also covered in beans and you cant really say back "Its my money I'm having it". On the other hand also consider how you will feel putting your child into daycare. Once I made the decision I tried not to feel guilty as there was no point and his nursery is fantastic but one day a lady popped into work with her baby and I had to walk away, it was like a punch in the stomach, that I was cheating on Archie if I held this baby when he was in ABANDONED in nursery....I've told you hormones man.

6. Are you willing for your career to suffer or loose your current job permanently? Its a tough one and some professions this wont apply, you could dip in and out but for others sadly not. Also as I said before children grow quick will be off to school and its more of a long term picture. I know a lot of ladies getting 'Mummy Tracked' or having to take jobs on a few years later that they don't enjoy because "It fits around the kids".  

Some very heavy, un-puréed food for thought there but this is a big decision, I have to be honest, I hope it has helped even just a little with the decision and you make the right one for you and your baby. As always may the odds be ever in your favour, because at times its really like the hunger games but with toddlers, right?

Ashlie xox


Best Chocolate Cake Ever! #Tutorial #Recipe

I've finally managed to blog my recipe.

This is the best chocolate cake you will EVER eat...sorry its just a fact. I'm not a fan of dark chocolate, for one its not sweet enough for me but the high cocoa content actually gives me a headache so I'm *cough* a cheap girl when it comes to chocolate. That being said I also cant stand a chocolate cake that's too sickly sweet, there is a popular store bought frosting that seems to be layered onto most chocolate cakes and its just not enjoyable to eat. So I made it my mission to make a "perfect" chocolate cake and I haven't met anyone who doesn't love it so here it goes. 


Are you alive?

I have just returned from a verrry last minute but very nice holiday. Every year my family makes the great journey to Cornwall from all corners of where we individually live, I often grumble as it is 8 hrs minimum for us but my Uncle trumps me by far coming all the way from Tanzania. However this year we were sadly not going to make the trip as we are having our extension built but to cut a long story short my lovely little Granny hasn't been feeling too well and I thought I should go down and see her, if she can make it at 82, then so can I! So a quick discussion with if the hubster about could they cope without me for 5 nights which he leapt for joy at...they are not trying to hurt my feelings but they are always grateful for 'Boy Time'. In this house it basically means I'm not trying to make them ALL eat something non beige, have a bath and randomly checking us them for lumps. So leaving 3 very happy boys at home in building chaos (heaven for them) within 24 hrs I was on a 9 hr train journey Penzance bound. At first I wasn't feeling that happy about it as I hate being rushed, I am fantastic 'faffer' and only had a few hours to list make and pack but once I was settled in my first class empty carriage, only ticket I could get at short notice (oh.dear.me how awful) and then the silence settled in. Not a sticky person in sight just several fresh magazines and a cuppa.....I could get used to this!

Apparently people like to plug in straighteners....

Meanwhile in Daddy Daycare, within 15mins of dropping me off at the train station I had a text from the husband to say the boys had their first McDonalds of the week...nothing against the Golden Archs but the boys rarely have them, I also got a photo showing that Daddy had immediately given them £10 each from their piggy banks to go wild in 'Smyths' toy store...when for 4 and 2 £10 is like being millionaires, no wonder they love 'Boy Time' so much. Thank fully the train journey went smoothly, its years since I've been on one and I forgot the mix of 'characters' you get. I am always amazed at just how selfish some people can be though, and I was quickly inventing a 'Morons Only' carriage in my head when on the 'Quiet Carriage' a couple were facetiming their whole family? I also discovered when I changed at Exeter that 'Trainspotting' is a real thing, nothing to do with Heroin, but people actual go and stand on a platform and tick off the trains they have seen. I was amazed/ open mouthed when I was approached by one asking for "any old train tickets"...do they know about Sky TV I wonder?! Anywhoo I arrived in Penzance in one piece with the mother bear waiting for me and perfect timing as there was a champagne reception for my cousins engagement.

Only took 15mins.

At this point the boys were probably on their 4th McDonalds in 24hrs but I didn't care as exactly 483 miles I was in literal HEAVEN. The hotel I was staying at was out of this world, called Mount Haven Hotel every member of staff was immediately like a friend, a fluffy robe waiting on my bed, a view of St Michael's Mount and little treats on tap. It was so nice to see Granny and all my cousins there were 52 of us on holiday so constantly someone to natter with, which is just as well because let me inform you that the entire county of Cornwall has NO signal. Now I don't want to go on about it but how are people in this day and age supposed to live like this?! Out of 52 of us only 3 phones worked in the area we were staying....I call the husband when I'm lost in the Supermarket for gods sake, this is also neglecting my total addiction to social media. It wasn't until a week later when I was driving through a patch of signal (about a nano second wide) and a message came though from the brother "Are you alive?"...I think this sums me up and why I literally had a huff on about every other hour that my phone was now just an ornament.

Spoilt Rotten. 

Just a spot of dinner....

Not a bad view from my room...

After two days of not a care in the world (well apart from no wifi) I really started to miss the boys, I'm not joking the silence became almost deafening and I had read 5 magazines and a book cover to cover. Also the family were pestering me to see the boys so I put it to the husband to come down afterall, and despite the 10hr drive ahead I think malnourishment was setting in and they were here the next day; so the whole gang was together and my cousin asked Archie to be a page boy next which he said no to but I'm sure he will warm to the idea! It took about 10 minutes to thoroughly regret my decision and mild home sickness when it was now like having two chimpanzees in my plush hotel room ha ha. It was worth it though, to have a week of beach fun and see all the family. We continued our annual tradition of going to The Meadery which is basically a pirate themed restaurant in... Penzance (naturally) and serves the greasiest grub known to man kind. Oscar was tucked up in bed at his great aunts house but Archie was allowed to make his first great pilgrimage however had to sit with us; adults and kids normally divide. It was quite funny though because it looked like me and the husband were on a #datenight if we only looked to the left, if we looked to the right...not so much.

Woke up to this.

Why did I ask them to come down?

 Beach Fun.

Grubbing as always.

Everyone loves burying Oscar.

Date Night....


We decided to break up the journey home, by having a day at Legoland which was SO awful I'm not even going to mention it and stay a few nights at Granny's house in Surrey; which was thankfully not awful but really lovely. I spent a lot of my childhood visiting Granny and Grandpa so it was nice to show the boys around especially the amazing gardens...ideal for 2 chimpanzees to go wild. The best thing though is all the fresh produce, it is clearly the pride and joy of the house but with not as many staying this Summer a lot was going to waste so Granny insisted we help our selves. Well you don't have to tell us twice and the day we left we had a lovely couple of hours picking all sorts, Oscar it has to be said ATE more than picked, he was covered in blackberry juice and I even caught him eating a raw potato. Still its been nicked named "The Great Harvest" and we have eaten so well, I've been cooking like mad this week and will try and post some of the recipes when I get a minute. I'm totally now encouraged to try and grow some stuff of our own next year, it all tasted so good. Anyway ripped from the warm cocoon of warm nights, lazy mornings and straight back into reality, first day of school, routines, chill in the air...goodbye summer you were awesome.

Best thing about Legoland.  

Back to nature.

Running wild.

Eating more than picking.

No pants, happy as a pig in the proverbial 

Plum and Stem Ginger Crumble.

Apple Pie.

Choritzo stuffed marrow.

White chocolate and rasper berry scones.

Rhubarb and Coconut cake.

Hope you have all had a fantastic Summer! 

Ash xox