Thursday, 28 April 2011

Guest blog - how Emma became The Real Supermum

When I started this blog it was really just a platform for me to be able to do two of my favorite things; talk about my family, and Have An Opinion on Everything. 

I didn't realise that being a "Mummy Blogger" was about to open me up to so many new friendships, so much support and advice, or so many laughs.

In my new Mummy Blogger life I've happened across a lot of people who've made a real difference in the lives of other women and other Mothers - Emma Richards is most definitely one of those women. Known to most as The Real Supermum Emma works day after day to help, support and advise other Mums, opening the way for them to find further help and support and to escape from and heal from abusive situations, to find help for depression, simply to find someone to talk to about a bad day. Emma provides love, friendship and laughter at the times they are most needed and she gives of herself and her time freely. Not just Supermum, just super. 

Below, in her own words, is Emma's story.

I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to guest blog. Let me begin by introducing myself. I am Emma, known to many as The Real Supermum. I am mum to 6 children. Kody is the baby of the family and has just turned 1, Kaiden 2, Kia 3 at the end of May and then Cameron 7 years, Casey 8 years and Nakita who is 12. I live with my partner Matt, the man who rescued me and my soul mate, we are due to get married on the 11th June. I met Matt 4 years ago online, it was during the time I was leaving a severe 11 years domestic marriage behind. Six months after being free from that relationship, we got together. Matt took on my three children as his own and although it took a long time, he restored my faith in men again. Not all are bad.

I ran my own online business for years, I also owned a real brick and mortar shop, selling ladies fashion and children’s clothing. I have also helped others set up in business online, working was my passion. In November 2010, after a long battle of fighting with my inner demons I was diagnosed with Bipolar. I also suffer from Post Traumatic stress and have a sleep and eating disorder. I am a very strong minded person and am very aware of the self help I need to in force to keep my progress on target. Of course some days, the illness wins. The hardest part of my illness and diagnosis is that at this present time I am no longer allowed to work.

I became very depressed and felt so alone when I was diagnosed and without my work to keep me busy, I sank into a very deep black hole. I was on Facebook one evening, almost a year ago and was saddened to see that despite the large amount of friends on my list, not one ever bothered to say as much as hello. I joined a mums group, but found it horrific, very judgemental and the whole page was filled with vulgar and abusive language, not exactly what a frightened new mum wants to read, when asking for help. It was then Matt told me to make my own mums group. I did.

I now spend all my free time helping other mums and mums to be. I set up my Facebook mums, I offer a safe place to talk about any worries these mums may have. They can ask questions and remain anonymous by inboxing me - I then set it as a status. I have mums for the 1st time going to speak with the GP about their depression, I have helped mums leave domestic violence relationships, I even talk on the phone to some who are ready to end their own lives. Mums who self harm or addicted to drugs or alcohol email me rather than taking them, I write letters to councils and housing associations, I help write finance statements to debt collectors. I pretty much do everything imaginable.

The mums find some release from knowing that SOMEONE is there for them. I devote my free time to helping as many other mums as I possibly can. It is difficult as my own health is not great,but somehow the group and the blog I now have also help me. The thank you emails received, to say without me they would be lost is heart-breaking. Where are the real Health professionals, while these mums suffer in silence? It is a scary thought as I am just me, an ordinary mum, I am not an expert yet seem to be the first person mums think of coming too. Many fear the judgement or being let down again by the professionals, they have lost all respect for them. I am just a 
mum with 6 young children with a passion to help others feel they are not alone, like I felt for so many years.
The blog I now have is very new, I have only been blogging a little over 2 months. It is more of a place for me to let off steam. On the Facebook group I can not lose my cool, I have to always be in control. I feel I cant moan and rant, too many depend on me. They come to the group for help, not to listen to me moan about life. So that is what the blog is for. A open and honest insight into parenting, the good, the bad and the ugly. All of the mums follow the blog, they love sending me their own stories to add. Some for the first time can talk about being abused as children for 
instance, admit they have a drug or alcohol problem. I have no idea how it happened but my little mums group is a lifeline to many, including me.

To be honest, I am not sure I could go back to working 12 hour days, when would I ever get the time to work, with all the other things going on in my life right now?

If you want to speak to Supermum Emma yourself, or just want to read her blog, have a few laughs and get to know some more Mummies you can follow her on Twitter, you can follow her excellent blog at Therealsupermumblog or you can join her facebook group; the group is private so to join send a message either to me or directly to Emma and you'll be sent an invite - it's a wonderful, busy group full of very supportive women and you'll be welcomed with open arms! 

What a load of rubbish!

We try really hard to recycle in our little flat - we've been making a conscious effort despite various complications to do so since we moved to Dorset; our first home we'd put our little green box out weekly, only for the collection truck to refuse to empty it (with no explination) week after week - so we took the contents to the dump ourselves and sorted them there. When we moved they took and sorted our recycling box but only gave us one small green box and if we put out more than that they wouldn't take it - said they didn't have room and we should put it in our wheely bin once the box was full; sort of defeats the purpose doesn't it?! 
Anyway - they only take the wheely bin every two weeks and if I put all the things that should be recycled in that it'd be over flowing and THEN what? 


It's not a look I'm a fan of I have to say - but it's what you see a lot because people get annoyed with ridiculous recycling plans! If the complaint isn't that councils aren't providing ENOUGH recycling services it's that they're providing too many and people are having to find spaces outside their house for huge collections of wheely bins 

When you've a small home it's hard enough finding the space INSIDE to sort all your recycling - we currently have three stacking boxes filled with plastic bottles, cans, newspapers and magazines and junk mail etc. and they take up a lot of space - I'd like something like this   but even though it looks super I know that the amount of things we have to recycle (not "have to" in a negative way but things that we have that can, and should, be recycled in daily life) it would be full to the brim fifteen minutes after I'd emptied it!

Because we sort and recycle so carefully it drives me a bit mad that now we've moved again it appears that there's no collection from our new home - or rather that there are no bins provided in which to do so; my new neighbour said that we're just to put the bin bags on the street on a Tuesday morning for collection. Great - but what about the recycling? I asked her - blank expression - it had never occurred to her to do so. 

So we're where we were two years ago - taking it to the dump ourselves.

I quite enjoy a good trip to the dump I have to admit - the local one is such a regular haunt that they guys there know us quite well. They gather the best things that have been dumped stupidly - ie things that are in good condition, still working, still useful to people but which were dumped by people who couldn't be bothered to arrange something better (say it with me people - FREECYCLE) and we've had some super things 'rescued' - including our dining table and chairs, two coffee tables, a fridge and the world's comfiest armchair that, after a scrub, lives in Roman's bedroom for nighttime cuddles and stories. 

The first week we lived down here Alex rescued a windsurfing board; it was huge - and broken; it had no sail, the fin on the bottom was broken and it didn't fit into our house - so lived on the pavement at the front (which our neighbours were lovely about!) - the guy at the dump had seen me saying "No darling" to Alex and had laughed when he returned later without me to collect it; he lived nearby so saw it on the pavement every day - so teased us every time we were at the dump. 
When we moved house and took a van load of the things we'd somehow managed to hoarde in the year there he questioned where the board was - we knew we couldn't use it but there was no way it was going back to the dump - we insisted we'd find a use for it and stashed it on our new driveway. We attempted to balance it on a stack of bricks to make a bench, but it wobbled and I fell off - and we had no tools that could drill right through to secure it. 

When we moved again we finally admitted defeat - two years after trying to justify having it at all - and took it back to the dump since our new first floor flat has no 'useless windsurfing board' storage spots. It arrived in our second van load of "things to be dumped" and the guys at the dump laughed and exchanged some money - they'd had bets going the whole time on how long it'd take us to take the flipping thing back! 

The guys at the dump do a great job - they sort through everyone's filth and rescue all kinds of things from landfill and help you to sort the things you arrive with (either they rush over to be helpful or they swoop in like vultures to see if you've anything they want - either way my recycling gets sorted without me having to lift anything heavy so it's win win!) and I'm a big fan of the whole process - I just wish that there was some easier way of sorting recycling at home that meant people did it as instinctively as they throw things into their wheely bins. 

Two friends of mine have posted about their recycling and dump-going adventures recently - check their super blogs out too. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Guest blog - Kathryn's adventures in Step-Mothering.

Around the time that I was having our first son, Roman, my friend Kathryn (of began a relationship with James, who had two young sons. Having never spent much time with small children Kathryn wasn't sure how the relationship was going to go (with the children - she was fairly confident about her relationship prospects with James - as long as those small people could be conquered) and each time we spoke she was full of wonder and surprise at how different her new life was compared to what she'd expected. It's been a fun journey to follow as a friend - and a lot more fun for Kathryn, as well as hectic and emotional - this is her story of becoming a family. 

Creating a stepfamily

I thought I went into being a stepmother with my eyes wide open. I like to pretend otherwise but I am a needy narcissistic person and realised that dating a man with kids was going to have a profound effect on what I could reasonably expect as a partner. It was easy to imagine myself in love with my partner on our sporadic passionate dates but moving to live in his home town to eventually meet his sons with the view to becoming a family was going to truly test the generous nature I aspired to possessing. I looked deep and decided he was worth it. I packed my bags and moved to his home town and over the course of a year slowly entered the lives of him and two small boys. We moved in together and now two years down the line have bought a house and are planning our wedding.

But I got it entirely wrong in terms of what I thought I was getting into. What has surprised me was how easily our little unit of four has developed. A large aspect of how my fiancé defines himself is through is role as a father. On those early dates I was only seeing a part of him and seeing the whole of him made me love him more. 
I was also taken aback by how much his sons look like him. Obviously I find my fiancé attractive so when I looked into the same blue eyes in a miniature face I was predisposed to find appeal in those children. They’re lovely kids and I quickly fell in love with them as well. It was all actually rather easy.

What I completely failed to anticipate was the immense complication of the wider family. I had been looking at building a life around a unit of four but there were grandparents and aunts and great-grandparents. These were people with legitimate demands on my time as co-warden of their beloved little relatives on alternate weekends. I was happy to spend my time with my fiancés kids but I hadn’t thought about how often his family might want to see them. I consider my family to be close but I only see them every two to three months. I felt suffocated under the blanket of demands coming from my future in-laws. We found a compromise and my fiancé and I host a big family lunch once a month. I keep one weekend for the four of us because after all, we are the crucial unit that needs building. I know they want more but I don’t feel I have it to give.

It might have been simple enough had the family ended there but there’s also my own family to consider. Distance means we have never been the sort to see each other weekly but we’re still close. If I was taking on a man with kids then so were they. My mum met the boys first and I was immediately struck by the need for my lot to have appropriate names and titles. The boys call me Kay. I didn’t want them to call me Kathryn as adults do but I didn’t want any name relating to mother (because I’m not, they have a mother). My fiancé only calls me Kay in the way I call him Daddy, it is my title. The boys know my name is Kathryn but I’m their Kay. I love it, who else has a Kay? I’m special (ah, I knew the needy narcissist was still there somewhere!).

Fortunately the boys’ paternal grandmother goes by Granny and their maternal
grandmother goes by Grandma. I called my own maternal grandmother Nana and had always imagined that if I had a child, it would call my mother Nana. So the name was going free. I posed the idea to my fiancé and he thought it was great. Ok, so step-grandmother was Nana. The rest slotted into place, my brother is Uncle Danny and so forth. Easy, I thought.

Our wedding is booked for December and we wanted to make sure the families at least knew each other before then. I’m keen for the boys to see their family evolve rather than be foisted upon them. I suggested to my fiancé that we hosted Easter and bring everyone together then. I was happy to cook the mountain of food this would require and felt it would be the perfect way to christen our new home. My side arrived first as they were staying for the weekend and as the holiday unfolded I started to see problem areas. My fiancé picked up the boys on Easter Sunday and they were soon chattering away with Nana and their aunt and uncle. What would my fiancé’s family think of the titles (had I remembered to tell them?) but more than that, what of my mother kissing the youngest better when he hurt himself, what of my brother’s teaching them football with the casual intimacy of a man who taught them
croquet the previous summer? Would they be jealous? Would they be hurt?

Given my refusal to spend both weekends in each month we have the boys with his family, wouldn’t this appear that I was superimposing my family over my fiancés? Where were the lines and what was I allowed to cross? I had felt confident in standing my ground on the unit of four having time to be a unit of four but suddenly I started to wonder whether I was really justified in demanding this.

The jury is still out. Easter is barely over and I haven’t really spoken to anyone since. On the surface everyone seemed to have a great day so hopefully this family we’re building will be happy. But I have to laugh at the girl that thought dating a man with kids would be about adapting her life for children, she had no idea what building a stepfamily was about!

If you want to read more from Kathryn - which I highly recommend, she's very interesting and smarter than the average bear - check her blog out at The Thursay Column 

Dressing your Mummy body.

Before I had children I was pretty body confident - I had the same issues most people with reasonably good bodies have, ie "I'm fat (only I know I'm not)" and "My bum's too big (look at my bum)" etc. I knew what suited me and how to dress my body and was lucky that the body I was dressing was a size 8-10, 5'8" and hourglass shaped. Even on a really bad day where I genuinely felt like a trog I could find something in my wardrobe that meant I could look at myself and think "Ah, that's better, lumps hidden, bumps enhanced, off I go". 

Now it's a very different story. Where before I had a waist I now just have a massive flabby belly that hangs oh-so-attractively down over my c-section scar and boobs that sit somewhere inches below where they used to be (and are in my mind). If I don't look in a mirror I still leave the house feeling ok in what I'm wearing. If, however, I see myself - well - ugh. 

Two incidents recently made me particularly aware of how little I like my new shape. One was clothes shopping. I don't fit into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes (I live in hope - it's only been ten weeks after all - but still) and not only do I hate my maternity wear it's all winter stuff and I don't want to continue wearing it now I'm not pregnant so even if it WERE summer stuff I'd hate it! I decided I was going to get myself a nice maxi dress - everything and everyone says how flattering they are, along with empire line tops and dresses - so I went into town and tried a LOT of things on. A lot. A stupid amount. Empire line tops? Are you kidding me? They look like maternity wear and sit in a way that makes me look heavily pregnant - I know my tummy is podgy but it doesn't look like a pregnant belly in NORMAL clothes - empire line is out. 

I tried on SO many maxi dresses. Most are strapless and have that elastic top that is meant to hold up on your boobs. Issues with this are: strapless means I can't wear a bra - and I'm nursing - I NEED a bra. For nursing, for holding breast pads and for keeping my boobs above knee height - they don't half get in the way when you're climbing the stairs otherwise. Also it's horribly unflattering - even if they came with "hidden support" that just means "squishing your boobs into your pits" and gives you what I like to call "sausage boob" - not attractive on anyone. 
Added to that SO many of them do the same thing as empire line tops and make you look pregnant even when you aren't. 

Just after I'd tried on a hundred and seventy three dresses in a small, hot box with a curtain that didn't quite cover me from all angles (stupid changing rooms, designed for self loathing) Alex called me to see if I wanted to see his family that weekend. No Alex, I don't want to see your family. I don't want people seeing ME. I don't want to be here, I don't want to have to get out of my PJs or leave the flat EVER AGAIN because I am so thoroughly revolting. So rather than arranging to meet his family, or buying a dress, I cried, headed home and ate chocolate. 

The second incident came after Alex had calmed me down and sent me shopping again a second day (ugh). I had finally found a dress I felt slightly less revolting in - falling back on that time old favourite of low cut, thus showing a terrifying expanse of clevage which distracts people from your vast stomach. I felt quite good about the dress, everyone complimented me, it was all going well - until I went to the loo. Loo lighting is never very flattering, and full length mirrors are probably best avoided for all but supermodels and teenagers, who all look amazing what ever they wear. Add to this the fact that the full wall, spotlit mirror was on the wall opposite the toilet. Not only did I have to see myself head to toe, lumps and jiggles and all, I had to look myself in the eye whilst I peed. I just couldn't look away. How is ANYONE meant to feel good about how they look in that situation? Who on earth would design a bathroom where there's a wall of mirror opposite the loo? Seriously?! 

I know that your body changes when you've had children, and I know my new shape is something I'll come to terms with in time. I also know that 90% of the women I see who've had children have a bit of a belly, because women are meant to - particularly those who've already bred - it's just a part of the process, to a greater or lesser extent. I know that when I see those women I'm not revolted or horrified - I don't think anything at all if I'm honest, and it's horribly big headed to think that every stranger in the street is noticing what I look like, because to them I'm just another stranger. 

It's just that child rearing changes you SO much - and it's hard to look in the mirror and just not recognise the wreck looking back at you.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

We did baking!

These pics are from a couple of weeks ago now - but since I had no internet access I had to wait to post this blog! 
I love baking - I don't know that I'm exactly brilliant at it but most things I make turn out edible and I enjoy doing it and - much to my delight, Roman now enjoys helping me. As long as it's quick, and he gets to eat bits as we go. 

This particular time we'd popped to Asda for our lunch, having run out of actual food, and in the reduced bit of the fruit and veg aisle we happened across three punnets of blueberries reduced to 49p each. Well, it would have been rude to leave them there! So they came home with us to make some muffins. 

Always keen to help out, Roman sampled some of the blueberries whilst I got the other ingredients ready...

Hmm - they SEEM ok Mummy, I'll just try one more, to make sure...

Roman - I think they're ok, we need to save some for the muffins, ok? 

"One more for Roro!"

Eventually we managed to do the actual baking, with very little mess and it held Roman's attention until everything was mixed, at which point he realised he wasn't going to get anything to eat for a while and wandered off to hit cars together in the lounge. He did, however, come back to sample these!

There were far more than six - that's just my prettiest baking tray! 

They went VERY nicely with some coffee and some even survived to be eaten the next day!

If you've been baking and need something to wash it down with check out the giveaway here - yummy delicious fruity fizz! 

Rubicon givaway!

You may or may not have seen me raving about it over on my twitter account (follow me here if you aren't already!) but I'm currently BIG into Rubicon drinks - it's a little fruity, syrupy can of joy; 

To celebrate my blog's growth and my super hoard of followers on Twitter I'm giving away some Rubicon cans - just the one each, I'm poor so don't be greedy! My initial thoughts were "Don't be silly Elizabeth, you can't post a can of pop" but then I thought actually I probably can, as long as it's wrapped up properly! (Fingers crossed this doesn't all end terribly badly - it's a distinct possibility!)

I have six cans to give away to six lovely readers - to be in with a chance of winning comment below, including your twitter ID, then follow me on twitter using the link above - simple as that! 

I'm not employed by Rubicon or anything - I just think they make the tastiest pop so I'm sharing the love! 

*limited to mainland UK only I'm afraid!*
*Entries close Tuesday May 3rd 2011*

Monday, 25 April 2011

Walking the trike.

For his first Christmas Biggun was given a wooden trike - a gorgeous, colourful and very exciting item that came with a trailer. We thought he'd be much too small for it - but the day he got it he climbed straight on and triked around the living room (he could only just crawl and certainly couldn't walk - but trike, oh yes!) 

(excuse the mess - but it WAS Christmas day!) 

This trike is still a firm favorite - but Roman has recently fully grasped the utter joy that is running and exploring. We recently moved to a new home and no longer have a garden or any outside space of our own - but this is ok because we live RIGHT next to a glorious walk with parks and a beach along it's length (for locals I am, of course, referring to the Rodwell Trail - what a wonder it is indeed) and after a couple of hours of Roman driving me faintly crazy whilst I got us all up, fed, dressed and ready for our day we decided a trundle along the trail with Roman on his trusty trike was in order. He got a big bike for Christmas - one with a handle - but foolishly I thought the trike would be an easier option for the trip. Hahaha - silly Momma!

It all started out so well - look at him in his lovely hat being all spring sunshiney trike ridey - lovely! Hold on though...that so quickly became this...

Roman, what about your trike sweetheart? "Runnin Mummy!"

Oh. I see. Sigh.

Roman - come back! 

Then he found a toy car under the pushchair and progress became suddenly very slow indeed!

And then we went for a little 'offroading' 

Maybe the cream outfit was a mistake? Maybe? Yup...ankle deep in mud - "Mummy! Oh no! I's stuck!" - and indeed he was!

so into the pushchair he went, and poor me had to carry the trike home! 

"Dirty Mummy"

Yes Roman - very!

Book input!

Hello lovely readers of my blog - this is a cry for help and input.

I'm currently working on a real-life-cook book and menu planner and would love to know what recipes and menu ideas get you through a tough spot; what do you make when you haven't made it to the shop and the cupboards are bare, what do you make when something crops up that means you're home late and the kids are famished? What do you shove in the oven when you decide that actually you can't be bothered to cook? What do you make when you have an entire day to do nothing but cook? Do you have any favorite recipes that you cook in bulk to freeze portions for later? 

Comment below or send me an e-mail on to tell me your favorite meals as a family - budget or indulgence - and tell me when, how and why this recipe has become special to you - you never know, you might be included in a real life book!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Silent Sunday - as if!

I'm cheating today so won't be adding it to the linky as I'd only be taken off - but I can't just add the one pic, there are too many lovely ones from today!