Posted in advice, Children, memories, parenting

What not to expect after you’ve been expecting….

When you are pregnant (especially the first time) you are hungry for information – well, you’re generally hungry full stop to be honest; you have a desire to find out everything that will, can or might happen. You absorb facts like a proverbial sponge. You tell anyone who will listen what size fruit your unborn child most closely resembles and you spend so long researching labour that you could probably deliver the next royal baby singlehandedly.

And that’s great.

Really. It is. Forewarned is forearmed as they say. Although in all honesty that babies coming out the same way whether you’ve subscribed to every email ‘bump update’ system the world wide web has to offer or have stuck your fingers in your ears and tried hard to ignore anything that mentioned the words ‘mucus’ ‘blood or ‘pain’.

But. No matter how many books you read. How many statistics you memorise. How many times you rewrite your birth plan (just don’t do what I did and suddenly remember it’s in the glove box of the car during hour 51 of labour; do you wonder she wasn’t happy to come out – she was waiting for ‘the plan’ to materialise.) there is one thing you are not fully prepared for or even particularly aware of.


Guilt? I hear you say, what is there to feel guilty about?

In a word. Everything.

It starts from the very second that you hold that precious bundle in your arms.  It creeps in uninvited (not dissimilar to the Bounty people on post-delivery wards) and before you know it it’s part of your new life.

Ironically, the more research you did before parenthood the more guilt you are likely to suffer:

Firstly everyone wants to know how the birth went and is ready to share their wonderful tales of birthing in a hypnotic trance with the scents of lavender and patchouli floating through the air. You recall random flashbacks of mooing, calling the poor doctor some obscenities that had never before even been imagined, and demanding every drug under the sun. Bam – Guilt.

You’ve read every piece of evidence under the sun that states ‘breast is best’ but either your baby or your breast or the combination of the two didn’t get that memo and it doesn’t work. Bam – Guilt.

You know that disposable nappies are to the earth what kryptonite is to Superman. But…well….you know…..laundry. Bam – Guilt.

You know that the socialisation aspect of baby groups is important for your small person’s development but you would rather stick nappy pins in your eyes than attend one. Bam – Guilt.

Mrs Busybody down the road soothes her baby to sleep with the melodic souns of Baby Bach. You’ve been humming ‘Dude looks like a lady’ for 15 hours straight and not one ounce of sleep has drifted your way. Bam – Guilt.

Your housework becomes a long forgotten memory, in fact you’re tempted to open bets about whether the pile of washing up will topple before the pile of laundry.  Bam – Guilt.

Fast forward a few months and you hit weaning.

Good old Mrs Busybody is preparing nutritious, organic, locally sourced produce which is lovingly devoured without an iota of mess. Meanwhile…you ran out of ideas after offering carrot puree so carried on and now the baby has a such a tinge of orange you could hire her out as a colour chart to a tanning booth. Bam – Guilt.

And then.

Then we reach the pinnacle of parenting guilt. When should I return to work?

Bam Bam Bam Guilt Overload.

Should I pay for childcare so I can get back into a career? Should I exclusively stay at home and raise my children? Should I work full time/part time/at home/outside the home/days/nights/shifts? Should I use a nursery/a childminder/grandparents?

The choices and decisions are exponential and. unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ option. Everyone has different needs and different values; both their own and the ones they wish to instil into their children. Basically, it break down to this; some people fit their children into their lives, and some fit their lives around their children. Neither one is right. Neither one is wrong. Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses, each has it’s pros and cons.

Sometimes that decision is made for you. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to return to work, bills have to paid, mouths have to be fed and if that’s what needs to happen then so be it.

Sometimes, however, it comes down to personal choice.

  • I can return to work, use childcare, have more money to spend and set a good work ethic example to my child.
  • I can stay at home, have more time to spend with my child, muddle through financially and set an example of life balance to my child.

People are different and thus make different decisions, that is not what causes guilt. Guilt generally has an outside influence, be that a perception of a person looking in or even a perceived perception whether justified or not (post natal paranoia is a bitch). Guilt breeds from what other people say and do; opinions they give, comments they make.

But the crux of the issue is this.

It doesn’t make one blind bit of difference what anyone else thinks.

Because, it’s your life. You only get one chance at it and you have to live it in a way that makes you happy.  Raise your children how you wish (within reason obviously), live as modestly or outlandishly as you wish (and your finances allow), be Mary Poppins or Miss Trunchball, Earth Mother or Mother Superior, do school runs or home educate (and kudos to those that do).

If it works for you and those closely involved then it’s the right thing to do.

To your child you are the most important thing in the world (cupboard love mainly but hey). They will admire what ever choice you make and adapt to whichever scenario you choose – fickle little creatures as they are.

Leave the guilt in the glove box with the birthing plan (but not ‘The Red Book’, please don’t mislay ‘The Red Book’, I’m fairly sure everytime a red book goes missing a health visitor’s head implodes), and live your life without giving a flying monkey’s trapeze what anyone else thinks.

Welcome to my world

Posted in Children, Christmas, memories, parenting

Oh go then, it is Christmas…

Hello lovely people.

How are we all doing?

Who’s still in the ‘time twixt Christmas and New Year’ haze?

Let’s check:

🔶 Do you know what day it is? (Erm, well Christmas was on a Tuesday and that was a few days ago-ish, so it’s definitely…….a day ending with y.)

🔶 When is your next bin collection? (Hmm, normal day is Tuesday….. we worked out a minute ago that Christmas was Tuesday so no noisy bin folk… so probably…..hang on what day is it today anyway… I don’t know where the dangly bit of card with the Very Important Reorganised Dates on is. Let’s just keep on an eye on next door, they’ll know…)

🔶What did you have for breakfast today? (Was it standard, run of the mill, everyday, socially acceptable breakfast fare? Or…..not? For example; yesterday I enjoyed Baileys Roulade for breakfast and I’m not even sorry.)

🔶Have you answered any questions with the words “oh go on then, it is Christmas”? (Shall we open another packet of Brie?/ Can we stay in pyjamas all day?/ Drink?/Another drink?)

🔶Are you regularly refereeing Selection Box Ownership battles? (That’s my Fudge bar, he’s had two Crunchies now, she’s eaten my Oreo bar – er nope she hasn’t, it underwent quality control -)

🔶Are you still discovering gourmet worthy ways of serving cold turkey? (We’ve had ‘cold meats and cheeses’, turkey soup, turkey carbonara, Christmas dinner pasta bake, turkey rolls…..)

I think we can safely say that we are all suffering from ‘holiday season hangover’.

So. Christmas at The Circus was fairly standard. We recently got a new oven so it didn’t take 27.6 hours to cook the turkey (and for anyone who remembers the soap opera worthy goings on of last year, you’ll be pleased to know that no wildlife pretested the poultry this time)

Noodle decided to be my sous chef for the Christmas cooking, especially with the very important pigs in blankets. However, he discovered upon opening the bacon that it had been packaged in Suffolk so therefore must be posh. So it transpired that our meaty side dish was to become ‘porkers in ponchos’.

Pickle had the double delight again of her Christmas Day birthday. She was over the moon to receive the only two things that she craved in life; a violin and a microphone.

It sounded so idyllic, ah she wants a violin, how sweet, we shall of course purchase one with haste. Oh how wrong we were.

The Noise. I cannot begin to describe the sound that a five year old can make with a violin.

But this is me so I will, of course, try: imagine a hybrid animal somewhere between a mouse and a hyena (I’ll give you a minute). Then imagine that this creature is forced to walk barefoot on Lego whilst simultaneously having its teeth pulled out with pinking shears. Then. And only then. Will you be any where close to the melodic harmonies that are produced. You live and learn.

All due respect to CircusHusband who remembered my desire for a pyrography kit, and further respect for an afternoon of lone parenting while I sat with three of my fingers submerged in cold water after my first go. In case anyone has ever wondered; human fingers are not designed to withstand the heat required to burn wood (who says these blog posts aren’t educational?!)

The finished article.

So, all in all. Not a bad Christmas period I suppose. I have to be honest, I struggle with Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the lead up; the music, the lights, the present buying. It’s just the day itself, it always feels a touch anticlimactic, and rushed and chaotic (yes I know, I have control issues which don’t help). But we made it through, and Boxing Day was much easier to digest (it may or may not have had something to do with the discovery of chocolate orange Baileys) so all was well.

The 28th of December is the anniversary of losing my Mum which, even after many years, always clouds my Christmas somewhat. This year we spent it quietly at home and played some of her favourite songs on the Echo (we now have three in the house, if you have never used them as walkie talkies then you haven’t lived). It wasn’t sad, but acts as a reminder to tell people you love them while you can, and to show appreciation to those in your life who deserve it. Everyday is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.

A few more limbo days now until we hit the excitement of New Year. What will 2019 bring? In The Circus we are hoping for health and happiness; for CircusHusband’s new career path to continue expanding, for my writing to hit the wider audience (I know, god help everyone), and for lots of laughs.

I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas in whichever way you choose to spend it.

Welcome to my world.


Posted in Children

‘Life’ by Noodle.

I haven’t posted any of Noodle’s slightly eccentric comments recently (mainly because the boy is considerably cleverer than I am and I’m not always sure when he’s having me on and when he’s actually teaching me something – yes I have googled to check on more than occasion 😳😳)

But I wanted to share with you some gems from this week.

🔸He would like to start writing a diary because then when he becomes famous someone will put his diary in a museum and he likes the sound of that.

🔸He has acquired some binoculars and is spending his time stargazing, he is hoping to discover a new constellation but has his heart set on finding a comet so it can be named after him.

🔸He would quite like to buy a telescope to use alongside so he can search for one of the many overlooked dwarf planets that he can claim as his own and petition to have be given ‘planet status’. This will obviously be named after his also.

🔸He has developed an absolute love of history and has taken great delight in explaining to the younger Monkeys all about beheading, decapitation and, his most favourite term, execution.

🔸He has been introduced to Red Dwarf and is now an encyclopaedia of retro tv quotes and takes great satisfaction from informing people that are a Smeg Head or, more frequently, a total Gimboid.

So all in all a very educational week in The Circus but I think that my favourite so far is his attempt to explain the relationship between mass and speed to Pickle.

“Right. Imagine Mummy was driving in our car by herself, it would be quite light (No not like the sun you Gimboid, light in weight) and it could go quite fast. But. If a fat old tramp (no I’m not being rude you Smeg Head, I’m not calling anyone fat, I’m just describing a situation) wandered up and got in the car then it would be heavier and couldn’t go as fast. Because the heavier things move slower and lighter things can move faster”

I am, obviously, impressed with his knowledge of scientific concepts. I am, however, slightly concerned that he thinks that if a ‘fat tramp’ wandered into our car I would carry on driving.

I have to hold my hands up and admit I tuned out during my lesson about the finer points of the Magna Carta 🙈😳

Every days a school day. Thank goodness Pickle keeps me grounded with her beautiful yet worryingly farfetched tales of her riding on the backs of baby Flamingos and telling school that I let her burn herself on hot popcorn 🙄🙄

Posted in Children

10 signs that you’re a fully-fledged adult.

Here we go, my (in no particular order) list of signs that you’re all grown up.


1.A heatwave is announced and instead of organising a trip to a beer garden you work out exactly how many loads of laundry you could get dry in one day (if you use the fast wash cycle, turn the extra rinse off and squish multiple loads on the whirlygig.)

2.You always know exactly where the nearest toilet is and can direct people to places via cinemas/coffee shops/petrol stations that will let you use their toilets without making a purchase i.e. establishments that built their facilities in such a place as to allow you to avoid walking past the counter.

3.Your handbag is actually a fully loaded supplies pack. Gone are the days of a tiny clutch bag containing one lipstick, a phone and a twenty pound note.

Now it’s:

  • 3 nappies of varying sizes (babies have sudden growth spurts at the most inconvenient moments),
  • 2 packets of wipes,
  • 2 boxes of plasters (one with a generic child friendly design and one plain, normal person version),
  • 4 mini boxes of raisins (why is it that the gold plated travel sized shrivelled up grape wannabes always go sticky and globule-like quicker than the bog standard big bags?),
  • A hairbrush. Yes I know you probably always carried a hairbrush but probably not a Minnie Mouse one because it’s the only one that has the magical ‘no ouchies’ formula.
  • Sippy cups. Some full. Some empty. Some fresh and some that now sound solid when shook yet you’re fairly sure once held milk.
  • Calpol (I tend to carry the sachets as I like the excitement of whether or not they’ll explode in your bag, however I generally forget a spoon and people tend to look at you oddly when you instruct your small child to ‘just drink your medicine from the packet…it’ll be fine’),
  • Tissues. I bet you feel really organised when you are able to produce a tissue at any point and for any occassion. Let me tell you a secret. It’s not that you’ve always got a sensible supply of tissues…’s that your small person or persons are using them for their intended purpose (and multiple other purposes!) and returning them to your bag.
  • Small toys. You know; matchbox cars, Happyland people, mini books, the whistle you swiped off that over-priced comic before you handed it over, 3 Barbie heads (I’m willing to admit that this one may only apply to me personally), Grandma’s missing car keys, those tiny pencils that liberate themselves from Argos or Ikea or the bank.

4. You develop your own units of measuring time. “How long can I play X-Box?” “Until     I’ve finished this coffee.” “How long does it take to empty and reload the dishwasher?” “1.5 episodes of Paw Patrol.” “How far is it to town?” “6 twelve verse versions of The Wheels on The Bus”.  Time actually loses all meaning full stop, you start using prompts around you to determine the time; Popmaster is now starting = just past toddler naptime. Increased levels of whinging to be heard = probably meal time. Heavy rain storm after hours of sunshine = definitely time for school run.

5. You sway. It’s actually ridiculous but completely true. Standing in a checkout queue all by yourself – you sway and gently push the trolley back and forth in a soothing motion. Holding your new puppy at the vets – you sway and people look at you oddly like you’re the mad lady who thinks her pets are her babies (despite you also dragging along four small children, one of whom singlehandedly empties the entire water dispenser with immense pride)

6. You find yourself using bizarre references during conversations. For example; someone is expressing concern about how minority groups can be isolated and ostracized and you begin a monologue regarding your concerns about the Wattingers in ‘In The Night Garden’ and how they are obviously not considered as upper class as their neighbours the Pontipines. Or you are part of a chat about gender stereotyping and you make the very valid point that noone is quite sure whether Tinky-Winky is a miss or a mister but noone minds him carrying a handbag around.

7. You utter phrases that you swore you would never stoop to:

  • “Because I said so, that’s why”
  • “It’s like blackpool illuminations in here”
  • “If the wind changes your face will stay like that”
  • “You’ll get square eyes”
  • “Don’t make me count to 3” (mainly because you don’t even have a clue what’s going to happen once you get past 1……2……2 and a half…..2 and 3 quarters……I’m still counting…..)
  • “I don’t care who started it….I’m finishing it”

8. You know the absolute best places for hiding nice chocolate from unappreciative palettes; inside a bag of frozen peas, behind the hoover, inside a packet of toilet roll (no-one will ever find it there because no one ever bothers to change an empty bloody roll).

9. You’ve developed your very own coded way of speaking to allow you to have conversations that may be not appropriate for little ears. For example trying to discuss an outing within earshot of small people “shall we go the P.A.R.K. and take a P.I.C.N.I.C?” Unfortunately CircusHusband is not the best at this skill.
It would be more like “lets D.R.I.V.E. to the beach and B.U.Y. ice…… I mean I.C.E.C.R.E.E.M.S” to which a Monkey would reply “you mean A Daddy, icecream is EA not EE”

10. You get very excited about peculiar things. These include, but are not limited to: The price of heating oil (ooh shall we order it at this price or give it a few days and see if it drops??) Paint colours (hmm should we have ‘muted hessian’ or ‘barely-there beige’) Tupperware (I’m actually concerned that I have an addicition. I get very animated if I discover an as before never noticed variety) Energy ratings (ahh now see, this oven may be £400 more expensive but it’s rated A for energy usage so would save us money in the long run).

So there we have it. I could have probably come up with a few more but I am worried about my use of screen time and the electric bill that I am currently racking up and whether or not Ryder and the pups saved the sea turtles and whether tomorrow will bring oil prices of 45.7p per litre or the unthinkable 45.9p per litre……’s hard work being grown up.

Welcome to my world

Posted in Children, parenting, Random musings, Uncategorized

An Ode To Summer…….ish.

The holidays are on us, they landed with a bump,

They came in like a wrecking ball, complete with twerking rump.

A rundown of our summer, lightened with a rhyme,

I’d try a sonnet or haiku, but simply don’t have time.

All The Monkeys are off school, yes all four, all day long,

Four small children, in one house, whatever could go wrong?

Let’s start off with the mornings, no need to rush to wake,

Yet still we’re up before the birds, but why for pity’s sake?

Mealtimes can be relaxed, time to eat and chat,

But really, what was I thinking? Where’s the fun in that?

We have to argue over plates, who gets the sacred green,

Wombat tends to win that one….he has the loudest scream.

No need for boring uniforms, wear the clothes you choose,

It’s not my fault that you can’t find, your socks, your skirt, your shoes.

Do you want to play outside? yes you can use the pool.

Did you get in, in all your clothes? You soppy, soggy fool.

No I can’t heat up the water, I can’t control the sun,

Yes the grass had turned it green, isn’t science fun?

No you can’t watch television, not because I’m mean,

But mostly cos you can’t agree, what should come on the screen.

The list of things that we can’t watch, is as varied as can be,

Things that scare the middle two, or bore the brains off me.

Videos of Minecraft crap, are banned if I’m about,

The people and their creepy voices, make me start to shout.

So far we are two weeks in, and we’ve learnt quite a bunch,

Like just how many snacks are needed twixt breakfast time and lunch.

It’s makes me wonder how the hell they last the whole school day,

Twenty minutes without food and it’s like they’ll fade away.

Thank god we have a super fridge, that magically refills,

It’s funded by the mystic elves who pay all of the bills.

It’s also these almighty elves who plant the money trees,

So I can grant all whims and wishes, with monetary ease.

We’ve learnt The Monkeys can get on, they can be nice and kind,

Just not when in each other’s reach, or at the same time mind.

I’m being pessimistic. It’s really not all bad.

At least there is some sunshine and laughter to be had.

Froo’s developed sarcasm, she’s witty, there’s no doubt,

Sometimes when she opens up her mouth, I hear myself come out.

The little two spend hours outside, rolling in the mud.

“Pickle, what’s that in your ear?” “Grandma said it’s crud”.

Then of course we have the pets, a veritable zoo.

Four hens, a pup, a hamster and Noodle’s ant farm too.

The hamster is a new addition, Jeffrey is his name,

If he squeaks his wheel one more time, I swear I’ll go insane.

It all adds up to chaos. Noise and one big mess,

Baking, cooking, painting. glueing and endless games of chess.

You have to choose to laugh or cry, or opt to loudly sing.

But one fact is for certain. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Posted in baking, night out, mums, back to school, Children, parenting

And today we baked…..

Today I decided on word association activities.

It was baking (hot) so we baked.

Tenuous possibly but it gives me leeway, imagine a day with lots of whines……

So, anyway, baking and making it was and surprisingly I had a full quota of willing helpers.

The first was easy. Bread. Focaccia bread.

This was a very simple recipe; self raising flour, oil, warm water, herbs and salt. No need to prove.

45 minutes in the oven and it was done

It might not win any prizes (or a Hollywood handshake) but wow did it taste good!

So, what do you need with fresh bread on the hottest day in the history of the world ever……drum roll please……..

Soup. (Yes The Monkeys are decidedly odd)

So we dug out my faithful multi cooker and homemade tomato and vegetable soup did appear.

You can buy really expensive multi cookers but mine is a £20 Wilko’s jobby which does me just fine

The soup was a hit. So much so, that the vat of soup I intended to portion and freeze (yes I’m scared too, the heat must be affecting my domesticity, don’t be alarmed this heat has to give way soon and normal service will be resumed) actually only did one lunch time with a bit spare.

Finally. It was decided we needed pudding so we put our heads together and an invention was born.

I present to you…..

Nutella (other brands of chocolate spread are available, most notably Aldi’s Nutoka which if you remove the label bears a striking resemblance to the market leader, and apparently passes the taste test of continually ravenous Monkeys…..) and candied mixed peel bread and butter pudding.

For administrative purposes I was forced to test the results (the proof of the pudding is in the eating after all) and I can quite honestly say that if you looked up ‘divine’ in a thesaurus there would be a picture of this dessert. I am known for my modesty so that should give you an indication into the deliciousness of this creation.

To summarise; my kitchen looks like a bomb site, my dishwasher is going on strike for being forced to work beyond normal conditions, there’s no ingredients left for anything else but it was great fun and that’s all that really matters (oh and they inadvertently ate shed loads of vegetables which was probably counteracted by the second course but that’s the way the pudding crumbles).

Welcome to my world


Posted in Children, parenting

Raise Vegan – My Thoughts.

This week I received an email offering me a digital copy of a parenting magazine (I’m assuming they’ve read my blog and decided I need all the help I can get) and a request for me to share my opinions once I had read it.

Now, when I had spare time and spare money (the good ole days) I loved an afternoon spent with a cuppa and a magazine so I jumped at the chance. I had no further information so was eager to see what might appear in my inbox.

When I heard the ping of my inbox and saw the title I was intrigued yet doubtful.

Veganism is something I am aware of but do not know the finer points of shall we say and I wasn’t sure how relevant the publication was going to be to me and The Monkeys.



I have now read this magazine (digitally which is bizarre beyond words) from cover to cover and there are several articles that I plan to go back and explore in more depth.

From the offset this is a very appealing magazine to read, I love the colour schemes that run throughout all 64 (yes sixty four!) pages and the boxed images with are consistently placed make it easy to focus and follow. The fonts used in the subtitles and overlaying the images are both quirky yet readable which is a tough combination to achieve.

There are so many different and varied articles in this publication that it’s difficult to know where to begin: despite being aimed at vegan families there is a lot of information and advice which would benefit all families and I really appreciated the parenting styles that were outlined from the various contributors.

One part I particularly enjoyed was reading about Andrea Hannemann aka ‘EarthyAndy’. I learnt all about her family and their principles. As I read, this part especially resonated with me greatly:

“…we live in a world of choice. everyone is making choices that define them every single day. If someone is judging your choices, that’s on them!”

That’s is a quote I will remember and recite to myself.

About halfway through the magazine is a section entitled ‘Summer Reading’ with the category being ‘accidentally vegan books’. We are not a vegan family but that doesn’t mean I don’t want The Monkeys to grow up appreciating the natural world around us and these book recommendations are perfect examples of this and will definitely be on our summer reading list.

There are some wonderful articles regarding preterm labour, the benefits of probiotics, nutrition in pregnancy and many more and all of these are informative to each and every parent.

I found ‘Essential Nutrients for Growing Vegan Kids’ very interesting, everybody worries about whether their child is getting the right vitamins and nutrition in their diet regardless of their chosen way of living so details like these can be very helpful.

I was impressed with the style of the writing in Raise Vegan, I felt that I was being informed but not preached to. An article called “12 calm down techniques for the highly spirited child” really stood out. It outlines techniques, which were clear and easy to understand, but it also used some phrasing which I found very refreshing when speaking about ‘highly spirited’ children.

Phrases like:

  • Highly spirited children make their way through the world with great enthusiasm, curiosity and excitement.
  • The qualities are positive and beneficial.
  • Make it clear that these are not activities they have to do because they have been bad or done something undesirable.

It encourages you to accept “quirky qualities” and be proud to explain these qualities to others and why they are “fantastically special”.

“They learn from us and the example we set, and we have a lot to learn from them as well”

I am a lover of a good cookery book

So was pleased to see some delicious looking recipes. It was enlightening to discover ways to make family favourite recipes using purely plant based ingredients and there are a couple of recipes that I will trying out on CircusHusband and The Monkeys.

I am not planning to become vegan but I thoroughly enjoyed reading Raise Vegan. This is an open and honest review and those who know me away from the other side of a screen will tell you that if I don’t like something I will say and not beat around the bush!

I found the health implications of a vegan lifestyle very educational and there are certainly elements of it that I would like to reproduce. As I mentioned before, I love the parenting styles. I am a fan of attachment parenting (breastfeeding where possible/baby wearing/positive reinforcement) and those practices shone through whilst reading. I discovered health advice that I will be heeding and books I will be sharing with my Monkeys.

I think the major learning curve from this opportunity is that just because you may not share the same beliefs as someone else it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something you can learn from them. Parenting is parenting is parenting, we all want to do it to the best of our ability and that means educating ourselves and opening our minds to different approaches to allow us to develop our very own parenting style that works with our very unique and individual little people.

Thank you the editor of Raise Vegan for the opportunity to share my thoughts about her publication with you and for more information please visit

Welcome to my world


*all photo credits for this post (bar my cookery book shelf) belong to Raise Vegan.

Posted in Children, medical, parenting

Sanity Savers.

After over ten years of parenting (I just had to double check that those figures added up) I have amassed a collection of tricks of the trade. Little things that help life continue smoothly.

Sanity savers if you will.

These are in no particular order; they vary from the weird to the wonderfulish, and none of them come with a money back guarantee (somewhat like the Monkeys really!)

Calpol Syringes {other brands of infant medication are available}. These little hollow tubes may seem basic and suitable for only one purpose. They are anything but:

  • You can use them to insert lemon juice into a freshly baked lemon drizzle cake without damaging the surface.
  • You can use them to transfer unsolidified jelly mix from mixing receptacle to miniature jelly moulds.
  • You can use them to apply drops of olive/coconut oil into ears to aid earache.
  • They are great for filling with watered down poster paint to do splatter painting.
  • You can use them to suck air out of freezer bags to save space in the freezer (more room for you lemon drizzle cake and jelly gummy bears)
  • And if you’ve got any left over after that you can use them to administer medicine.

Baby Vests have envelope necks for a reason. The reason being that they allow the vest to be pulled down the body and off the legs following a poonami rather than upwards and over the head which inevitably precedes the infamous Google Search: how to remove poo from baby’s eyebrows.

Weighted baby toys. Babies always manage to accumulate a plethora of soft toys and cuddly accoutrements. You will send most of you time moving them from place to another, especially now that SIDS guidelines recommend that nothing is placed in the cot with the baby. But. They do have an important use:

  1. Firstly weigh your dominant hand on the bathroom scales applying a small amount of pressure (bear with me).
  2. Source a selection of toys.
  3. Weigh aforementioned toys until you discover one with the same weight as your hand.
  4. This will now play the part of ‘spare hand’. It’s role will become abundantly clear when you’ve been crouched on the floor with your hand on baby’s back for eleventy-two hours and you really need to scratch your nose/have a wee/headbutt the wall/whisper voodoo curses into peacefully sleeping husband’s ear. The stealth switcheroo of hand to perfectly weighted toy should buy you at least a few precious seconds.

Paper cupcake cases. Yes they’re great for baking cakes in but they also have a entire plethora of sideline jobs.

They are brilliant for keeping bugs and other hitchhikers out of drinks.


Obviously I would strongly suggest using eco friendly straws rather than plastic but unfortunately this was all I could currently find. This is also handy for parties as themed cupcake cases placed over plain paper cups works out much cheaper than themes cups!

Sick of lolly drips all over tshirts?


Poke the lolly stick through the case and voila a ready made drip catcher. (Yes I then had to eat the lolly, I hope you all appreciate the sacrifice that was involved).

They are the perfect size for taking on picnics; I use them for ketchup, hummus, grated cheese………the list is endless and it means there’s less heavy tubs to cart around in the picnic bag.

Medical Stuff. Children fall down. A lot. It’s like evolutionary skills don’t kick in until at least 14. This means that you need an entire pharmacy of products ready and waiting (readers of our facebook page will remember the fun that was ‘plastergate’.) So here are some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up that may just make the healing process a little easier.

  • Conventional ice packs can be way too cold, way to big and way too inflexible to hold on a squirmy child. If you fill a strong freezer bag (I like the industrial strength ones from Ikea) with giant marshmallows and pop them in the freezer, it becomes a soft, moldable, child-friendly icepack.
  • Similarly I also use the tube yoghurts, we don’t have them in The Circus as actual yoghurts very often as they’re ridiculously high in sugar BUT I do like to have some in the freezer. Those little tubes are an absolute brainwave. If you pack them in between your wrapped sandwiches they slowly defrost while keeping the sandwiches cool. If a child is suffering with a sore throat and doesn’t want to eat, then these frozen beauties will soothe a throat and also provide more sustenance than a typical ice lolly. And along the same lines, one held behind the ear will provide relief from earache.
  • Plasters are an absolute necessity. Even if there’s no blood sometimes just covering up the ‘wound’ can stop it hurting. They are also useful for splinters. I don’t know about other children but The Monkeys seem to sense when I’m approaching with tweezers and adopt either of the fight or flight options. However, if you add a tiny drop of water to some baking soda to make a paste and apply it to the splinter then cover with a plaster, it will draw the splinter out by itself. Plus, if you keep some under the buggy/in the car/in your school run bag then when you get to the school gate, and realise a child is adorned in ‘temporary’ tattoos you can cover them up with plasters and introduce a storyline about bugbites/cat scratches/acupuncture scars.
  • Hayfever is a massive issue in The Circus; especially with myself, Froo and Wombat all being asthmatic. We have tried and tested so many remedies I’m surprised there’s any histamine left anywhere. But the single best tip I was given is Vaseline, if you apply it round the nostrils and along the eye bone (carefully!!) it helps prevent the pollen entering the body in the first place and of course it’s non medicated which was a big relief for me.
  • Chicken Pox is one of the major childhood illnesses and it can be a testing time for all involved. Some children wander merrily through life as normal all be it with a few spots while other are really very poorly. The most important thing to remember is that you must never ever give Ibuprofen during chicken pox as it can cause serious skin infections. Calpol can be given for a temperature and calamine lotion has always been the go to, although personally I found the calamine lotion was difficult to apply and crusted over the spots making the hot and uncomfortable.


The best thing I discovered was oat baths and now whenever someone says their child is suffering with the dreaded pox this is what I recommend.

Take a muslin cloth (or the leg of a pair of tight works too) and fill it with a mixture of porridge oats and bicarbonate of soda. Tie at the top like a parcel and hang over the bath taps while you run the bath so the water runs through it. It provides a cloudy but very soothing bath to aid irritation and itching, you can then use the muslin package as a bath sponge. This worked so well when Froo and Noodle had pox (exactly 14 days apart and Noddle was only 16 weeks old) that we spent a lot of time hanging out in the bathroom. I have no idea what I’ll do when Pickle and Wombat get it as we no longer have the luxury of a bathtub!


  • Now The Big One: cheaper generic medication is (90% of them time) exactly the same as the brand name products.

£5 big name hayfever tablets have the same active ingredient (either Loratodine or    Cetrizine) as the 89p version from supermarkets. If you compare the boxes, they quite often have exactly the same manufacturing code. The same goes for medicine; Calpol and ‘infant paracetamol suspension’ are one and the same, except with one you are not paying for a pretty box and a wall known name.

Welcome to my world



Posted in Children, parenting, Product Testing

Our Very First Product Review – Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag.

There was major excitement in The Circus last week as we were offered the opportunity to provide a product review on a toy.

And not just any toy.

No. Only a toy that Froo (10) has been coveted for around 18 months.

So here goes:

This is the ‘Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag’. It is merchandise to tie in with Project Mc2 programme which airs on Netflix.

The display of this toy in it’s packaging is very appealing. It is beautifully designed and fits in well with the theme. If you are unfamiliar with Project Mc2, it is based around a group of school girls who use their love of science to get through life and solve problems.

As you can see from our video, the packaging was quite tricky to get into. Lots of fiddly ties and clips and twisty things.

But eventually…

The thing I liked at this point is that all the parts go neatly in the box and it closes securely, very important in The Circus.

You can see Froo’s demonstrations of some of the gadgets in our video, but the main thing we tried out was the finger printing kit which was the main appeal it held for Froo.

There are clear instructions, both, on paperwork in the packaging and in the book you receive with the kit which also has various experiments in it.

Froo already owns the Adrienne doll from the series so this is a lovely addition to her (ever growing) collection.

Here’s our fingerprinting guide:

This was good fun to do and I love the ‘spy compact’ that doubles up as a magnifying glass! We had some trouble getting the fingerprints to attach to the suspects sheets so perhaps some trial and error is required there with regards to how much powder to use.

Now to the scary bit.

A couple of disclaimers before we unleash ourselves onto the unsuspecting world

  1. This is our very first attempt at filming.
  2. It’s the very first time that I have ventured into video editing.
  3. I forgot just how noisy fans are when caught on film.

So, with all that clarified, here goes nothing….


Turns out being forced to watch unboxing videos on YouTube by Pickle has paid off as my normally shy and reluctant Monkey came into her own.


So, there we have it. I have to say I was unsure about this toy and had resisted pressure to buy it as we have quite a lot of Project Mc2 merchandise

and I always feel it’s very expensive for what you actually get.


Froo was over the moon with it and I do love the fact that’s it science themed toys aimed at girls (yes toys are toys for girls or boys but this is a big step forward). We had a lot of fun playing and reviewing which was really nice as thinking about I probably wouldn’t have been that involved with it had I bought it for her myself.

Yes it’s expensive at £39.99 rrp.

Yes it’s probably a five minute wonder.

Yes there will be fingerprint dust everywhere.

But it’s actually very cleverly made and great fun to use.

The Circus gives the ProjectMc2 Ultimate Spy Bag a big thumbs up and a score of 9.5/10 from Froo and 7/10 from myself.

Welcome to my world


Posted in Children

For The Dads by Name and The Dads by Nature.


Today is for the daddies, of every size and shape,

Lanky like a beanpole, or hairy like an ape.

The daddies who are present, the daddies who are not,

The dads we fondly treasure and never are forgot.

The dads of tiny babies, the dads of full grown men,

The dads who’d walk through fire to see their kids again.

The stepdads and the stand-ins, the ones that break the mould,

The in-laws and the out-laws, the young ones and the old.

The hands-on dads, the laid back dads, the dads who do their share,

The working dads, the stay home dads, the daddies with no hair.

Today is for the daddies who do the job of two,

Twice the work and twice the worry, but twice the cuddles too.

It’s also for the mummies going it alone,

Who plough on through and carry on, without a gripe or moan.

It’s for the ‘will be’ daddies, just waiting for their turn,

It’s for the dad’s who’ve loved and lost and heavy hearts that yearn.

It’s for the dads we cannot see through tragedy or choice,

It’s for the ones with words of love, they’re not allowed to voice.

This day helps us remember that ‘dad’ is just a name,

It’s not a brand tag that you wear, or use for Facebook fame.

A dad is one who’s always there and doesn’t come and go,

It’s not about the blood you share, but just the love you show.