It’s another Blogiversary!

Today celebrates my 6th year of my Insanely Normal blog.

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It’s been fun, although a little slack, and I know that I have said it time and time again, but that can now change…  I have a lot more time to be able to publish, and I have all sorts of ideas!

So, without further ado, let’s revisit my top three posts…

At number 3…

This post has somewhat amused me since I published it in 2014.  It was a review (a negative one at that!  And badly wrote, haha) about a local franchised café.  I can remember visiting the place – it was bloody awful, and I imagine nothing has changed, because I’m still receiving messages agreeing with my post!  You can read about the Pound Café in Huyton here.

At number 2…

2015 seems to have been the year that brought in most of my subscribers (hello stalkers!), and top of the shot (again), was my Christmas Ham post!  My second most popular post in 2015 was for my slow cooker sausage casserole…  With just under 10,000 reads throughout the year, it definitely got the attention it deserved, ha ha.  You can try the slow cooker sausage casserole recipe here.

Drum roll please, because at number 1…

Every Christmas, I make a ham.  It’s by far the best thing I have ever made, and you all seem to agree, as the amount of views that post has received is amazing!  I first published the post in 2012, and it seems to be a recipe that is used right throughout the year, as it’s always my most read…  My “best” stats for this recipe was on 1 December, 2016, when I had a little over 4,000 views – just on that day!  You can read my Christmas Ham here.


So, it seems that my stalkers like recipes and negative reviews!  Ha ha.  Yes, those were my top three posts in the past six years, and other posts in my top ten include more recipes, a holiday post, and how parenthood drives me crazy.

So, here’s to more exciting times – more recipes, more random stuff, and I may even through in a mini-comp somewhere…

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First day of school

Today is Gning’s first day of “real” school.

Today he starts the Reception class.

He’s been in the nursery in the school for the past fifteen months or so, but this is different.  It means he’s growing up, and I don’t know if I’m quite ready for it yet.  He’s still my baby.  Yes, I have Donut, who is my baby (age 1), but Gning…  He’s my miracle baby, and he always will be.

Here’s a poem I found online…

Dear Teacher

I know you’re rather busy
First day back, there’s just no time
A whole new class of little ones
And this one here is mine

I’m sure you have things covered
And have done this lots before
But my boy is very little
He is still only four

In his uniform this morning
He looked so tall and steady
But now beside your great big school
I’m not quite sure he’s ready

Do you help them eat their lunch?
Are you quick to soothe their fears?
And if he falls and hurts his knee
Will someone dry his tears?

And what if no-one plays with him?
What if someone’s mean?
What if two kids have a fight
And he’s caught in between?

You’re right, I have to leave now
It’s time for him to go
I’m sure he’ll learn so much from you
Things that I don’t know

Yes, I’m sure they settle quickly
That he’s fine now without me
I know he has to go to school
It’s just so fast, you see

It seems like just a blink ago
I first held him in my arms
It’s been my job to love, to teach
To keep him safe from harm

So, when I wave goodbye in a moment
And he turns to walk inside
Forgive me if I crumple
Into tears of loss and pride

I know as I give him one more kiss
And watch him walk away
That he’ll never again be wholly mine
As he was before today.

From a scared parent…
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And here’s the reply I found…

Dear Parent,

I understand that you are scared
to wave your child goodbye
and leave him in a teacher’s hands
don’t worry if you cry!

I’m used to weeping parents
It’s hard to leave I know.
But it’s time to share him (just a bit)
To help him learn and grow.

Let me reassure you
That I’ll give your child my best
I’ll wipe his tears, soothe his fears
And change his dirty vest!

If your darling child is full of cold
I’ll blow their nose all day
Just like you, I’ll care for them
In a special way.

I’ll treat him like I would my own
I’ll catch him from a fall and
If there is ANY problem
I’ll be sure to tell you all.

It’s true he’ll grow to love us
They’ll talk of school a lot
It doesn’t mean they hate you
And that you should lose the plot!

I’ll tell you a secret..
That when your child is here
They talk to me as much of you
Of this please have no fear.

You’ll always be their mother
Whilst teachers come and go
To them you are their number one
This I truly know.

Soon you’ll see some changes
In your little girl or boy
They’ll become more independent
And to see this, it’s a joy!

I’ll teach them all I have to give
To share, climb and to write
But to you they safely will return
To tuck them in at night.

With love from a teacher…

Dear soon-to-be Mum of two

Dear soon-to-be Mummy of two,

I don’t know you. But I feel like I do.

I used to be you.

And I was terrified.

I thought of you today. I don’t know your name, and I don’t know what you look like. But I still thought of you. I wondered if you were holding your breath as you waited for the home pregnancy test to deliver your fate, not sure if you should be thrilled or petrified. I wondered if you are finding it hard to chase after your toddler because you are so exhausted from the constant morning all-the-time sickness. I wondered if you were crying over your child’s bed tonight, trying to figure out why you ever thought it would be a good idea to “try again”. I wondered if you looked down at your swollen belly with guilt, thinking, “How could I POSSIBLY love you as much as I love my firstborn?” I wondered if you looked at your firstborn with guilt, thinking, “How could I have done this to you?”

I thought of you … because I WAS you.

And I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that it’s going to be OK.

Because it is.

I wish I could tell you that from the moment your second child enters your life, you will feel strong and confident, and that that feeling will never go away… But I can’t.

I also wish I could tell you it was going to be easy…  But I can’t.

Because it isn’t.

Tough times are ahead of you. You’ll have moments when you’re trying to feed a hungry baby and cajole a grumpy toddler onto the potty seat and you’ll wish you had three extra hands, a second brain (or even just a single not-so-sleep-deprived one), and a carton of ice cream that no one expects you to share. You’ll likely leave at least one restaurant in tears, vowing that you’ll never again take your children out in public. You’re going to spend a lot of time breaking up arguments (and/or perfecting the art of tuning them out). You’ll wonder if you’re going to be able to sleep again, or shower in peace again, or carry on a thoughtful conversation again. For a while, you’re going to be wiped out.

I can’t tell you it’s going to be easy.

But I can tell you this:

I can tell you that one day your younger child will be trying to tell you a story but will leave out a crucial detail. And that, confused, you’ll turn to your older child, who will be able to effortlessly bring you up to speed. And then your world will stop spinning in one breathless moment as you realize that those two…  They complete each other.

I can tell you what I wish I could tell myself. That breathless moment? It will come. And it will make it all worth it.

That’s what you need to know, Mummy. Today, you worry about what your pregnancy is taking away from your precious only child. You worry because you’re too sick to cook wholesome dinners. You worry because you’re too tired to go to the park. You worry because trips to the library are being replaced with Netflix binge sessions as you collapse, exhausted, on the couch. You worry and you worry and you worry, because that’s what we do as parents. We worry.

But today, worry a little less.

This season of life…  It’s just a season. And everything that you’re “taking away” from your child will be returned tenfold. One day you’ll wake up and find your kids playing together. You’ll walk into the room and they won’t even notice you’re there because they’re too busy having fun together. They’ll be giggling and building and discussing and making memories.

That won’t be every moment of the day. It probably won’t even be most moments of the day.

But these moments will come. And they will make it all worth it.

So hang in there, Mummy. Be brave. Worry a little less.

Because life is about to get so much better.

I need to tell you something… You smell.

New mummies, don’t get mad at me, but I’m about to say some things that might be a little hard to hear. Just listen. I’m coming from a place of no judgment. I’m coming from a place of love. I’m saying these things because you need to hear them and because I care about you and because your friends can’t tell you because you’re a crazy person right now…  Believe me.  I know all of this, because I’ve been there.  Twice.

5 Things New Mummies Need to Hear:

1. You need to put the Internet away for a at least the first month. Your baby doesn’t have that rare illness that you’re reading about. You don’t need to read that story about the mum dropping her baby, or forgetting it somewhere, or a random cat breaking into the house and eating the infant. You don’t need to ask Facebook what formula, or nappies, or sleep training method is right. People have been having babies for a *couple* of years without the Internet, and it seemed to work out just fine. Phone a friend.  Phone your mum.  Because, generally speaking, people on the Internet are arseholes.

2. No, we won’t vote for your baby. Your baby is absolutely the most precious little thing on the planet. We get it, but no one is going to vote for them for the cutest baby contest – even if it does mean you could win a all expenses paid trip around the world for two. Send the link to your parents and if they can figure out how to actually vote, you’re set, because they were the only people who were going to vote anyway. You’ve just saved yourself a tiny little shred of embarrassment. You’re welcome.

3. Sweetie, you stink.  I’m sorry, but if you think that you stink, it’s more than likely because you do.  It’s true.  I’m going to blame it on the hormones, or maybe it’s stress sweat, or maybe it’s because you haven’t showered in days, but you smell a little ripe.  Take a few minutes for yourself and go take a shower.  Please.

4. If you’re feeling crazy, it’s because you are. You’re supposed to be a little crazy right now. You’re probably a little nervous, excited, scared, and exhausted, and you have hormones bouncing around like ping-pong balls. It’s ok.  Honestly.  Just focus on that little model baby of yours and cry in the privacy of your own shower.

5. You’re doing great and you WILL feel normal again one day…  Not today, but one day.  I still quite often look at people whilst I’m out and about, and thinking “LOOK AT THEM! Walking around all normal! Will I ever walk around like a normal person with normal thoughts? Will I ever enjoy a glass of wine again? (Not that I drink anyway, but…)  Will I ever sleep, like REALLY sleep, and not just sort of drift?” It all happens. You sleep. You drink. You walk. You find a new normal-ish…  Just not today, but it will happen. I promise.

Oh this comfy bed…

My little man is 21 months old.  Since he was born, he has probably slept in his own bed, right through the night, for about 6 months in total.  That means my husband and I have had the pleasure of a third person in bed with us for roughly 15 months.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cuddling up to my precious bundle of joy, but there are some nights when all I want to do is sleep, without being pushed out of the bed…

Thus I have come to the conclusion that he doesn’t like his cot.

The cot in question is 32 and a half years old.  How do I know?  My dad built it for me.

It is made out of beautiful oak, and has been wood-stained mahogany.  When my dad found out he was going to be a grandad, one of the first things he did was to get my old cot and crib out of the attic to refurbish them.  My son was in my rocking crib for about 5 months, until he outgrew it.  He never had any problem in sleeping in there.  When we moved him in to his cot (in his own room), he slept right the way through for a while…  Then the wake-ups started.

Now I just think he likes the comfort of the “big bed”.  He often takes himself to bed (alone), and he will tuck himself in too.  Fancy that.  A 21 month old in a king-size bed.  Sometimes he shouts at my husband and I if we disturb him…  So there’s my predicament.

What is the right age to move your baby to a bed?  A real bed.  As in, with no “sides” to keep him ‘locked in’.

I’ve been looking at toddler beds recently, and they say “suitable for 18 months to 4 years old”.  Sounds good, and the prices are affordable too.  I could buy a wonderful ‘car’ or ‘boat’ frame for around £90 ($140-ish US), but then there’s another £200 ($300-ish US) on top of that for a mattress…  What an extortionate price for something that my little man will outgrow before his 4th birthday…

So, let’s forget about the interim bed and move him straight to a “real” bed.  In the attic, at my parents house, my old single bed is wrapped up in poly-wrap; as well as my (exceedingly!) comfortable mattress.  The whole thing is in excellent condition.  But do I just jump straight to this for him?  There’s the safety aspect that I would have to consider; for example, (again) my son is 21 months old.  Will he fall out of the bed, because it is too high?  I’d like to place a very large bet on “yes”.  So if I chose that path, I would have to purchase side rails for him.  I’ve just priced these, and for a “folding bed rail – in blue”, I’m looking at £25 ($40-ish US).  Would I need just one, for the top end; or would I need two to completely secure him, hence bringing us back to the same problem of the cot..?

I’m at a whim.  I’ll keep you all updated, because I can’t see him still having his cot by the end of summer.

Introductions are long overdue

I think it’s about time that I introduced myself and my wonderful little family.

My name is Barbara.  I work as a Civil Servant, three days a week, and I also teach martial arts and self-defence in my own Kung Fu school.  I have lots of hobbies and interests.  So many, in fact, that when I reel them off to someone, they normally get fed up of listening ha ha.

I enjoy martial arts, dancing, travelling, camping, swimming, scuba diving, playing the bagpipes, reading, writing, playing on the xbox, crafting (jewellery and accessory making, cross-stitching), watching TV and films, listening to music (most genres), singing (even though I’m tone deaf – my little man appreciates it though ha ha) and, unbelievably, studying!  As I am not a student, I study off my own whim.  I enjoy improving my knowledge on Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, various places and the history of Scotland, and fitness techniques to assist in my martial arts school.  Some may say that I have a couple of unhealthy obsessions.  Thus being of Scotland and Ancient Egypt.  Quite a weird combination there, huh?  Oh!  I’m also an avid map reader.  I can look at a map for hours…  And yes, I am a woman…  And yes, I can read maps!  Wow!

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My husbands’ name is Michael.  We first met in primary school, at the age of 5 or 6.  All throughout our school life, we went to the same schools.  In some respects, we were even in the same classes, but we never spoke.  We ran in different circles, so why would we?  It wasn’t until 2005 when he messaged me on Friends Reunited, enquiring about the Kung Fu classes I held.  On 31 october 2009, we married.  The ceremony and dinner was an Autumn theme, and the party in the evening was Halloween themed.  Everyone was in fancy dress!

Michael works as a self-employed photographer.  He photographs anything from sitting portraits to full day weddings.  He has a rather extensive list of hobbies too…  Martial arts, photography, gaming, programming (on the PC for Android apps), travelling and camping. He also shares the unhealthy obsession of Scotland that I hold.

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On 12 September, 2011, a bouncing baby boy came into our lives.  William was a huge baby.  He was 10lb 8oz born!  My little squished face beauty.  After 30 and a half hours labour, my consultant decided that it was just too dangerous to continue, and I was rushed for an emergency section.  I was high as a kite due to all the gas & air I had been supping for 25 hours, and I really didn’t know what was going on.  I can, however, remember as clear as a bell when the surgeon held him up over the curtain, ‘congratulations, you’ve had a toddler – he’s come out wearing his school uniform and briefcase in hand…’  I took one look, burst into tears saying, “he’s not mine…  He’s Chinese…”  Bless.  William was huge!  He was bruised, swollen, and had a touch of jaundice.  Luckily, the jaundice cleared within 4 days.

My little man is 19 months old in two weeks.  I can’t believe where the time has gone.  Sometimes when I look at him, I still can’t believe that he’s here, and that he’s mine.  But on the other hand, I can’t remember what it was like before he came along.  I feel so blessed.

I would start listing his hobbies…  But being the age that he is, his list is not as extensive as mine or Michaels’.  Currently, William enjoys watching cbeebies (especially In the Night Garden), ‘splash splash’ time (baths), going out with his nanna and grandad, and general play.  He’s starting to grow out of the snuggling phase, but it’s still wonderful when he climbs up on your knee to give you kisses and cuddles.

This was taken when William was only 3 hours old…  Look at the face!  You can tell that I’m as high as the sky in the background 🙂

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And this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago.  Oh, how the time has gone…

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Am I eating chicken or tuna?

I am sitting in my recliner chair, feet up, laptop on my knee, watching my 18 month old with a fork and spoon.  On his plate is a portion of boiled white fish (cod) and a small amount of tomato sauce.

He’s tried so many times before to feed himself, yet every time he stabbed the food, or carefully placed it on the spoon (with his hand), it’d slip off or break in two.  None of it ever made it to his mouth.

Now I see my beautiful little man successfully stabbing, or shoveling  a small piece of fish and it’s making its’ way to his lips.  His mouth opens…  It’s made it.  He’s managed to eat half of the portion before my husband takes over to assist him.  It seems that the little man has worn himself out by feeding himself.  I am so proud.

We have a long way to go before he can manage feeding himself other variants of food, such as spaghetti, but we’re certainly not that far away.  Who knows; but when we go out for my hubby’s  birthday on the 23rd, he may be able to manage to eat his dinner with something other than his hands.