Friday, 18 April 2014

Delayed Empty Nest Syndrome

DS#1's first Christmas
I'm smiling and nodding like a madwoman. I'm using my best "enthusiastic" voice to make supportive happy comments. Inside my heart is breaking as it sinks in that yes, my baby, my firstborn, my eldest son is flying the nest.

He actually moved out more than year ago but just a hop down the road, not quite a stone's throw but not far off it.

 I'd drive past his flat at night on the way to or from friends, or doing the whole "mum's taxi" thing and see his bedroom light glowing. My mummy heart would soften knowing my child was inside, warm, safe. The drive-by equivalent of tucking him in I suppose.

Then a few months ago he moved a short way further - literally streets away from his first flat but a few hundred miles away emotionally. He's hardly ever there you see, and his room is at the back so I can't tell whether he's in or out. He keeps in touch - thank goodness for mobile phones - and visits sometimes, but I share his heart with another woman now so his time is divided.

Age 17 with me.
Quite rightly he wants to be with his girlfriend whenever he can. She's known on my blog as FDIL-future daughter in law. They are not actually even engaged but very happy together with lots of long term plans for their shared future. Luckily we get on incredibly well and she accepts the cheeky title with grace and laughter.

But this relationship inevitably has led to this moment. She lives hundreds of miles away. They spend hours each week on trains and motorways to grab precious time together. They have tried long distance love and although it is working they really want more.

Happy with the very lovely FDIL
So plans are afoot. There is talk of transfers and landlords and stuff. Sooner rather than later. This year for sure if all goes to plan.

I'm really happy for them, delighted even. It's all you want isn't it for your children to be happy? But I'm sad too there will be no more spur of the moment visits, no popping in to see him for a quick chat at work, no more reports from friends - "I saw your son today, he seemed happy/stressed/tired."

It's not helped that DS#2 is planning his new life at uni which (exam results willing) starts this year. I understand it's time for them to go  and believe me it's actually nice to have older children. No more 2am feeds, nappies, weaning, potty training....

 I know there will still be five children here even when the older two have left. I'll still have more children than most in fact but the hard fact of two of my children leaving gives me a glimpse of life in the not too distant future when our home is, well, an empty nest.
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Thursday, 17 April 2014

#loudnproud -Hands Free Parenting

My youngest child is five years old and I'll hold my hands up and admit - I treat him like a baby. Spoiled, indulged and allowed to get away with things I never would have tolerated in his siblings. But he's my baby.....

Grumpy Aged 2

But this last few months I've been letting go and treating him more like the schoolboy he is. And it became apparent to me this Easter holiday that he has given up the last ties to babyhood really well.

dummy,  buggy,  drinking cup

- On a recent visit to Birdworld I took none of the above! To be fair I haven't taken the pushchair anywhere for a while which feels really weird after 19 years of having one in front of me to hang bags and picnics off! Of course I have replaced it with my immensely stylish shopper trolley but still, I confess I do miss having a pram or stroller of some sort.

 But Grumpy jumped and skipped and ran without a single moan about being tired and no-one had to give him a piggy back even though it was a long and tiring day.

Grown-up Grumpy at Birdworld

He didn't once ask for his me-me (dummy/soother) even though he knows I always try to keep an emergency one in my bag. I know- I'm an unfit mother. He never has it at school but I occasionally spot him catching a quick dummy-fix in the daytime if he's at home.  He did ask for it in the car on the way home from Birdworld but he was so tired I let him have it. Again, I know - unfit mother!

A helping hand from FDIL
I am very glad to have abandoned the so-called no-spill toddler bottle/cup thingys. He just had a drink with lunch like everyone else and I didn't need to take snacks either - I've found he started to eat his main meals much better once I dropped the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.

So I'm not sure this post is to congratulate him or me. I'm a bit sad my baby days are over but very happy to be able to just walk out of the door with my handbag without checking the contents of a giant "baby bag" for enough supplies for a Polar expedition.

Until I get grandchildren.......

3 Children and It
linked to  Loud N Proud
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gran - look away now! - Durex Real Feel Review

Warning! explicit post mentioning jiggly-jiggly adult activities, lady garden yuckiness and other cringy stuff of a personal nature.

If you are related to me you might want to skip this blog post. Yes Gran, Mum and any of my children who have stumbled upon this post - you'll probably want to give this one a miss as it's a little bit personal!

You see today I am reviewing condoms. Not just any condoms but the new RealFeel condoms from Durex- made from a technologically advanced non-latex material, transparent, lubricated, clinically proven and teat ended.
 Apparently designed to be easy on (they were) and comfortable to wear (no complaints from DH) and as a bonus, nicer smelling than other condoms.

As I explain in the video I have a good reason to be using this form of contraception. I am a couple of years into the menopause, have not had a period for months (sorry if that's TMI but I did warn you!)  but since I'm "only" 44 and still at risk of a rogue egg sneaking through until I've had a whole year or longer without a period I have been advised by my GP to use condoms as our form of contraception just to be extra sure we don't end up with a "menopause baby."

Anyway *looks round to make sure her relatives have left the room* here's my video review of the product - don't panic -there's no nakedness, no demo vegetables and nothing too explicit. Just an honest account of why I would use them and what I thought of them. I'll give you a clue - my DH has the biggest smile EVER right now!

Mobile users might have to click the link here.

I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside -Simply Coastal Holiday Cottages.

The weather has been amazing and although I'm enjoying woodland walks, playground visits and lounging in the garden with friends I always get a hankering to be by the seaside the minute I feel the sun on my face.

I'm heading off to Cyprus in a few weeks so I'm not too glum but there's something a bit special about the British coastline so I'm hoping to fit in a seaside trip here in the UK this year too!

I thought I would share some of the photographs taken on the beach which is a stones throw from holiday cottages offered by Simply Coastal at Bacton on the Norfolk Coast. When I first saw them I thought they represented the true spirit of a British seaside break!
Norfolk beachfront cottages

Being soaked with seaspray, paddling and wave jumping, digging holes and building sandcastles, hunting for crabs and starfish when the tide goes out and watching your children just run and skip and jump and dance on the beach with the sheer joy of fresh air and open spaces - all making memories for life.

seaside cottages Norfolk

Simply Coastal have two individually styled single story two-bedroom properties, "Driftwood" and "Summer Breeze" each sleeping 4 people with one double and two single beds -ideal if you want to holiday with friends or family but want your own space to retreat to at the end of the day. Each property has a private ground floor balcony with table and chairs for al fresco feasts, bathroom and kitchen so you can prepare your picnic for a day on the beach - or just pop in there to find plates to eat your tasty chip-shop supper off! sea view cottage
view from the Simply Coastal properties
Situated on a peaceful 13-acre park with plenty of green space for children to run about on and just 200 metres walk from an unspoilt, uncrowded sandy beach. The village of Bacton is a short walk away with a chip shop, pub and a shop selling all your essentials including buckets and spades or you can drive 10 minutes to the town of North Waslham or take a 30 minute scenic coastal drive along to the world-famous harbour town of Cromer.  For even more classic British seaside fun just head to nearby Great Yarmouth!

If you are quick and book before the end of April for 2014 you will benefit from this amazing offer:

Book before 30th April and get 50% discount on a 2nd week, taken anytime in 2014


Book one week and get 2nd week half price in Simply Coastal's scenic cottages on the Norfolk Coast. 

Take advantage of this offer and enjoy either a two week holiday or take one week and return for a 2nd week later this year. Alternatively, book with friends or family to receive the reduced price offer. Each cottage accommodates up to four people.

Small Print:
1. Bookings (with deposit) for both weeks to be received and confirmed at the same time on or before 30th April 2014.
2. Holidays to be taken before 31th Dec 2014
3. Both weeks must be taken to receive discount (if one week is cancelled 2nd week will be charged at full price)
4. Bookings subject to availability
5. Normal Terms and Conditions apply (available on request or booking)

Check out the Simply Coastal Facebook page for more pictures and details about the cottages and to make an enquiry or book. Hurry and make the most of that fantastic offer!

cromer crab

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Views and opinions remain honest and my own.

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Monday, 14 April 2014

That's not a picnic - this is a picnic!

I don't like sandwiches. No, that's not strictly true. I only like sandwiches if they are freshly made, in front of me, preferably by me. Yeah I know it's a bit weird.

I would have to be starving to buy and eat one of those sandwiches in a cardboard triangle- I mean, properly on the point of diabetic coma and desperate.  I'm not particularly fond of sandwiches even if I have made them if they have been wrapped and transported. This can make picnics awkward.

Over the years I have perfected picnics madmumof7-style and so when planning a day out  last week with FDIL (future daughter in law) her lovely mum and 6 of my 7 children, to save money (and for fun) we agreed on a picnic.

family picnic
picnic time!
A couple of days before I was ridiculously excited to find a large wicker picnic basket complete with plastic plates and cutlery for just £4 in my local charity shop. Obviously this needed to be combined with my less vintage-esque insulated picnic rucksack which also comes stocked with cutlery and plates etc as I've yet to find a picnic basket with enough plates etc for our large family!

Added to this was my trusty shopping trolley loaded with blankets bin bags and a large box of food I couldn't fit into the two picnic carriers!

Each family has its idea of what makes a picnic and it turned out that FDIL had bought along her favourite the makings of "picnic sandwiches" - bread and butter and crisps.

I was a bit embarrassed then to unload our bags. We had egg mayo sarnies- smelly but essential on a madmumof7 picnic as it's the one filling everyone eats! There was a jar of jam, butter and a tiger loaf, hummus, cucumber, grapes, those crisps in tubes, kettle chips, four types of dip, little cooked sausages, pink lemonade in a gorgeous bottle with one of those Grolsh-style caps, cartons of milkshake , pain chocolate, Penguin biscuits and orange Club biscuits and cupcakes made the day before by my eldest daughter.

post-picnic icecream-thanks W!
The menu will vary depending on what is on special offer in the supermarket when I'm shopping for the picnic. Sometimes there will be hard boiled eggs, ham, chicken drumsticks, pizza, pitta and tzaziki.... We have been known to take along a teapot and flask of hot water too!

Also in the bag usually will be bin bags, handwipes, joss sticks and a lighter (in fly/wasp season you poke the joss sticks into the ground and they will generally keep you fairly flying bug free!) and sting relief spray for nettle incidents or for the rare occasion a wasp braves the joss smoke and gets into a fight with one of the picnickers.

Unfortunately all of this preparedness means my picnics weigh a ton and generally have to be left in the car until required - luckily I have lots of helpers to carry the bags when we need them - and of course now my amazing shopper on wheels helps transport the food!

So that was our first picnic of the year - and if the weather forecast is right we will be enjoying lots more. So do you have any top tips for successful picnics, or any family traditions or favourite picnic food - I'd love to know - share in the comments below!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Family life at its best.

It's been a lovely week - the weather has varied between OK and downright gorgeous, the children have been able to get outside and as a result the Easter Break so far has been really quite nice.

The scooters and bikes have been de-cobwebbed, the trampoline survived the winter storms and the rusting springs have been properly loosened up by excited bouncing children and on the nicest day last week I soaked up some properly warm sun at my little cafe-style seating area with some Buena Vista Social Club,playing a cafetiere of good Costa Rican coffee and a bacon sarni -thick smoked bacon plonked on soft cheap and nasty white bread and smothered in tomato ketchup of course as a good bacon sandwich should be.

The children and their friends hurtled round our cul-de-sac while I chatted to my friend and passing neighbours. Breakfast was followed by lunch with another neighbour, sitting in her garden while the children continued to get lots of fresh air. It was gorgeous.

Next day I loaded 6 of my 7 children and a substantial picnic into our people carrier and heading south we met up with FDIL and her mum at Birdworld. Yep - there's a lot of birds there! And a selection of cute farm animals which tolerate being loved by sticky small people.

Grumpy for once was all smiles - he was fascinated by the bird which said "Hello" back at him and was brave enough to stroke the goats. Every new discovery was met by a chorus of "Mum, can we have a rabbit/guinea pig/goat/penguin?"  from my happy brood. Errm, No.

Back home and a quick car change and we headed off for some child-free time at a friend's cottage in the Cotswolds. A lovely meal, chat, maybe some wine.....

Next morning we headed off for my favourite pastime - a trawl round the local charity shops and antique centres. Yes,  my name is madmumof7 and I'm middle aged. I go round antique centres looking at the tat and reminisce about when I or my household owned and used the items now being sold as "vintage."

I came home with a boot full of bargains - "Pineapple" shorts for my teen girl, a new book for  DS#3 featuring his namesake,  a Mr Potato Head kit for Grumpy who loves them but frequently loses the bits. I have no idea where the bits go but we regularly replace them in charity shops!

I got a new shirt for DH and finally, my best purchases - a vintage-style (probably not old) blue and white French-style bread bin and  finally, after months of searching the perfect (for me) kitchen scales with brass bell weights.

And after some serious elbow grease!
While we were out we had a surprise text from friends inviting us round for supper (more wine!) and then on Sunday a Palm Sunday Service which if I'm honest I wasn't looking forward to but ended up enjoying immensely. It was moving, dramatic, thought-provoking and frankly a bit smelly when one of our real donkeys disgraced himself on the ancient tiles! Resulting in a call for the churchwarden (my DH) to add manure-clearing to his in-service duties - funny!

Proudly I managed to produce a Sunday roast for 6 using only my tiny top-oven (repair-man due tomorrow for my broken fan oven!) whilst completely re-arranging our kitchen to properly display my new purchases. The youngest 2 children played with some bargain Play-Doh (BOGOF in Tesco at the moment!) and it was lovely to hear them chatting while they played.

Finally rounding off a gorgeous few days we decided to choose a fim we all would enjoy - Octopussy won the vote so as is my custom with Bond films I dozed through most of it waking up bewildered and confused near the end as I had no idea who the goodys and baddys were!

It has been a fabulous weekend full of magic moments. Family life at its best!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

#silentsunday 13/4/14

child playing in a pew