Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Me and Mine May

This month has been a busy month with 2 bank holidays, my birthday and some lovely sunny weather. I usually try and take a family group picture at the end of the month, but I realised with a week to go it wasn't going to happen because M was going to be at her Dad's for the long weekend. Fortunately we had taken some other shots earlier in the month, but we also had a bit of a play on snapchat. I like the combination of photographs and they sum up the month pretty well for me even if most of the pictures are on my iphone and not the best quality.

At the beginning of the month we visited my Grandmother so she could meet Little. It was too far to drive to go earlier so I hadn't seen her for 4 months. I took my DSLR and tripod, but managed to leave my memory card at home so I had to use the selfie mode on my phone.

We took Little swimming for the first time and before we went in the pool I got G to take a picture to record the occasion. I am more or less make up free and not looking my best, but I'm glad we got a picture.


Mid month there was some lovely weather so we spent most of the weekend in the garden. I tried to get a family photograph, but as normal someone wouldn't play ball. This photograph was after we had come back from swimming.
The most important day of the month was obviously my birthday. I had a really lovely day and my sister took this picture of me and M before she helped me blow out the candles.
The last weekend we had M we woke up early on Saturday and G suggested we went to Macdonald's for breakfast. M insisted on bringing a doll, but it turned out to be really useful to support Little in the highchair. This meant Little got to eat her doll while we all enjoyed our food.


These are some of the pictures from M, Little and I playing on snapchat. I only use snapchat for the filters and I think they are great fun. M and I laughed loads, but I'm not sure Little was impressed.








The Me and Mine Project
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Sunday, 29 May 2016

#MySundayPhoto Pia pia piano

One of the baby classes with go to is called Music for Baby. It's a lovely small and friendly class with a range of activities and instruments each week. it is led by Emma who Little finds absolutely fascinating to watch. This week we got to play with mini piano's and glockenspiels. As normal Little tried to eat both, but I did manage to capture her playing a few notes.

The mini piano's were great and I was slightly jealous of the photo opportunity it gave for the Mum's whose children could sit independently. I was supporting Little so I could only take a quick snap on my phone, but I think this picture is rather cute.




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Saturday, 28 May 2016

My Baby at 4 months

So Little is now 4 months old. Time is moving so quickly. Every day she is showing more personality. Little is communicating more and starting to be on the move.
4 month old baby girl in vintage mothercare littlebird
Little at 4 months old

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Friday, 27 May 2016

Toilets and Relationships

This morning I left the shower running to warm up and when I came back to the bathroom I could hear a tinkling noise which wasn't the shower. Looking around I was faced with the back of my partner. Yes that's right, he was having a wee. In relationships we all have boundaries we aren't prepared to cross and for me the major one is:

"No going to the toilet in the presence of the other person!!!!".

We've come a long way in the relationship. When we first got together I made G play loud music or put headphones on before I would empty my bladder in the same house. Now I can go to the toilet if he is in the next room, well depending what I need to do.
It's not a voluntary control thing, my bladder muscles just wouldn't relax enough to let me go. I'm also not comfortable going in a toilet cubicle when someone I know is also in the toilet and mixed gender toilets? Does the establishment want me to get a bladder infection? The technical name is "paruresis" and it's also known as having a shy bladder. According to this article it affects around 4 million people in the UK. Some people have it so badly they can't 'go' in public, but back to the sharing a bathroom in a relationship: it's not just the shy bladder thing, I also think it's gross.

It's funny because G has seen me have a baby, he was even down the business end at some points. So let's face it there is little mystery left, but there are some lines I do not want to cross. To be fair these rules apply if you want to be friends with me as well. Please don't go to the toilet in front of me. Oh and please don't talk to me about poo. 

It's not like I get to go to the toilet in peace most days: I have 2 children. On an average day I get to change around 6 nappies and wipe the bum of at least 2 people. I have also been known to proactively ask what the contents of my daughter's nappy was like when someone else changed it: did it leak? What colour was it? Consistency? When it comes to baby poo I can sit around and discuss it in a coffee shop over chocolate cake, but adults ... *runs to the toilet to gag*.

I'm trying to think of what other boundaries I have in a relationship. I'm struggling to think of any. I'm pretty happy to share most things, with anyone. In fact I am happy to over share. So it's probably just waste products which are in the no go zone.

Last year around my birthday we went to a hotel which had beautiful wisteria growing all over the front. Plus it had a peacock. It was really lovely except the ensuite bathroom had no door!!! Who wants to go away for a romantic weekend and hear their partner poop? That isn't sexy. You might be unsurprised that I made G go to the toilet in the bar.
A place this pretty should have more doors
We are now back to making sure the door is closed when someone is going to the loo, because sometimes it's good to shut your partner out. 
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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

I'm going to #BML16 !

My name... Kate
My blog... Counting to Ten (you might have noticed you are on it). 
Find me on social media at... EssexKate. I'm frequently on Instagram and Twitter and a few other places too. The links are all on the right if you are reading this post on a computer.
How I look... Blonde hair (it will probably be tied back due to the early start), hazel eyes, glasses, about 5ft 4. Of course you wont notice any of this at Britmums because I'm bringing my super cute baby: Little. She will be 5 months old and strapped to me in some sort of carrier.
Blonde lady in a Mama top carrying a baby
Say "Hi" to me and Little
Is this my first blogging event...? No, I've been to Britmums Live a few years ago when I blogged at The Secret Life of Kate.
I will be wearing…baby vomit, a  bit of dribble and a top which helps me get my boobs out easily (what do you mean it's not that sort of event?)
What I hope to gain from #BML16... I would love to meet up with new bloggers and see in person some of the people I only know online.
My tips for a great conference... it depends what you want out of it. The break out sessions last time were great, but I got just as much from chatting to people. Choose carefully about how you spend your time as it's only a day now it's going to fly by.
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Sunday, 22 May 2016

A rainbow #MySundayPhoto

It was my birthday this week and I got cake! I also got presents .Birthday's rock. Not 'rock' as in what younguns do, but in a lovely 'I went to a baby sensory class, had a long lunch with friends (with a glass of prosecco) and spent time with family' way. Not that I'm old, but my days of being up all night without the company of one or more small children are behind me.

I took this photo on my birthday as I appreciated all the colourful envelopes I got sent. Disappointingly after opening them I got some more including orange and red ones. Dear friends and family, if you are going to send me fab envelopes next year please could you send them a little earlier, like before I take a picture?






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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Presents for a First Father's Day



In an ideal world everyone would know how great they are. We should show people how much we love them every day, but in reality that doesn't happen. When you have a new baby it can be particularly hard to make time for your partner and thank them for being a brilliant parent. Father's Day is a great opportunity to show them how much you appreciate them.

The first Father's Day is extra special so I've been looking for some extra special gifts. G is brilliant with my older daughter M, but it was only in January this year he properly became a Daddy. I am so grateful to him for all the help, love and care he has given to me and to Little and I want to make sure he feels it on his first Father's Day. Of course there is the risk that he's going to read this post (Hi G, Love you), but I've pulled together some great ideas and I wanted to share them with anyone looking for inspiration.

Collection of ideas for First Father's Day Presents


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Monday, 16 May 2016

Depression And Me

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week.  My earliest memory of being depressed is from when I was in primary school. I remember standing outside the school gates and just feeling totally empty, feeling nothing, not feeling. I must have been about ten years old. That means that I have had depression on and off for over twenty years.

I am lucky. While my depression visits many times a year I am fortunate that it is rarely more than mild depression. There are many days I have had to battle to get out of bed, days at work when I haven’t wanted to speak to anyone, countless days I have gone to bed early because dreaming is better than being awake. But still it’s mild depression because I have been able to get out of bed, I know others aren't so lucky.

A white tulip on a black background

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Saturday, 14 May 2016

Where is my village?

Last Sunday I walked out of the house. I just grabbed my shoes and phone and left. No keys, no wallet, no children and none of the accompanying baggage. I just needed to get away. I gave no explanation, I just went. My partner was home so it’s not as if I was abandoning the children, but as I walked around the block enjoying the peace I still felt guilt about leaving them.

It had been a tough night. Little had decided to feed more than normal and I had to get up several times with M. I was really tired. From the moment I got up M was demanding attention (how unreasonable!), I couldn’t find the swimming nappies and when looking for them the contents of a cupboard fell on me.  My other half came upstairs to help, but I was struggling so I told (shouted at) him to go away. 5 seconds later I turned round and noticed the bag of washing which needed taking downstairs. I called for help, but my OH couldn’t hear me. I got in more of a state as I struggled down the stairs with the washing and snapped at my partner for not coming to help. Understandably he snapped back (he’d got shouted at when he came to help and then when he didn’t). 

So that was when I walked out.

I put my phone on do not disturb and walked. I was worried about what would happen when I got back home. Would the children have had meltdowns in my absence? Would my partner shout at me? I had to fight the urge to turn my phone back on as I had a fear that something might have happened to my daughters and no one would be able to contact me. I was going to be gone 15 minutes max, but I just couldn’t relax completely and let go, even though that was the main reason I had left.

So I got home and rang the doorbell. My 4 year old daughter opened the door and gave me a hug. Everything had been fine while I was gone (I assume, I didn’t ask). My partner gave me a hug and life continued as normal. Or nearly normal. For the next hour my oldest daughter was incredibly well behaved. She even put away her jigsaw when she finished playing with it without being asked.

Being a mother is relentless. When they are small and dependent on someone for all their care you don’t really get a break. When you are exclusively breastfeeding that baby the dependency is pretty much on you. I’m on call 24/7. At any point in the day one or both children can demand my attention.

I don’t plan to make a habit on walking out on my family, but it was a warning sign that I need some time out. Everyone needs a break. I’m so glad I have an understanding and supportive partner, but he works long hours so weekdays most of the childcare is on me.
Bluebell woods with message "It's ok to take a break and have some time for you"
I’ve been taking it easy the last week. I’ve been going to bed some nights when M has finally been asleep (given one night that was about 9pm it’s not like I’ve had much of an early night).  I’ve been going to baby groups and meeting up with friends and I’ve been working on a few future blog posts, but without feeling the pressure to publish any. Next week I’m going to try and take Little to the creche at the gym so I can go swimming. 

I have recently started parenting classes. One of the themes people talk about is the pressure from the relentlessness of parenting. To be a happy parent you need to have a “village” around you. That might be family, friends or even paid help. Whatever your village is made up of you need to have people you can call on to help you, to give you a break, to listen to you complain and to make you stronger. Even the most amazing children can drain you when you feel alone. I’m going to spend time building my village and planning some time to ensure I don’t lose me.
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Sunday, 8 May 2016

#MySundayPhoto Mirror Mirror on the Wall

This week my mum stayed a couple of nights as part of a brief tour of family before going back to France where she lives. On Thursday we went out to the Olympic Park where M played in the fountains for ages and ate ice cream. We also popped into Westfield to have lunch and to get M another night dress from Cath Kidston. To get to Cath Kidston we had to go pass the Disney store and there wasn't really an option not to go in. 

This picture was taken in the Disney Store where they have a magical mirror. Oh a tip if you are ever at the shopping centre at opening time with kids (I've only managed this on a Sunday) the Disney Store do a magic opening ceremony with a big key, music and lights. I love being a "guest" at this store (they don't call you a mere customer). Even better we had a £20 voucher from providing some video footage of M watch a Disney film (easy money) and 10% off as part of our DisneyLife membership so with M's choice of purchases I only had to spend £2.41 actual money.

4 year old girl looking in a magic mirror in the Disney Store Westfield Stratford





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Saturday, 7 May 2016

My Birthday Wish List

It’s my birthday in 10 days and I keep on being asked what I want. I’m incredibly lucky that there isn’t really much I want, not things which can easily be gift wrapped for my birthday anyway. I’ve thought long and hard and come up with 10 things I would love for my birthday if money was unlimited and reality flexible.

A child free night away in a hotel
With a 3 month old who is exclusively breastfed I don’t really get alone time. It’s that weird combination of wanting a break and not wanting to be away from my dependent baby. It would be lovely to spend a relaxing afternoon, possibly with a champagne afternoon tea, followed by a night in a big bed in a posh hotel where I knew I wasn’t going to get woken up. 
Some yummy mummy clothes
Most days I wear my maternity jeans and a nursing top. I worked out a few weeks post birth that clothes wise I can wear my size 12 maternity jeans which are too big for me or my size 14 normal jeans which are too tight. Guess which ones make me feel more attractive? I would love it if someone could select and deliver to me a range of stylish clothes that fit and flatter me.

A new Camera
I love my Canon 700D and I probably have all the lenses I need right now (although there are a few over £1k I wouldn’t mind playing with). Having said that I would rather like to get the Canon 100D as well. This is the smallest and lightest Canon DSLR. With one of my smallest lenses it would take up so little space in my bag I could take it out all the time. 
Of course I would also love an upgrade to my 700D e.g. to the more expensive 7D or a full frame one.
Studio kit
Light is probably the most important ingredient when you are taking a good photograph. You could take a picture of a safety pin and with the right lighting it would look great. I have a LED light which I use for indoor pictures, but I would like at least one other light so I can use shadows better. Improved lighting also means I would have more options around aperture and shutter speeds.
I would also like a nice white backdrop which doesn't require me moving the sofa to use the wall!

A printer
Staying on the photography theme it would be great to have a wireless printer with a stack of photo quality paper and a never ending supply of ink. This would mean I could print out some of my hundreds of thousands of photographs instead of keeping them all digital.

Family photo
Now that we are a family of 4 I would like some shots of us together. I take a picture each month and while they are a lovely record of us I haven't yet been able to get a good capture of us all looking at the camera and smiling. Using a tripod and remote control means I have less control over the timing of the snap and I miss good moments. A professional photographer who has photoshop stands a better chance of a wall worthy end result.
A clean car
My car rarely gets cleaned and is complete mess, I have to be careful which of my friends I offer lifts to. There is a really highly recommended local guy who comes to your house and cleans your car inside and out, but I need to empty it first so I can sort the crisp packets from the kinder toys, tiaras (yes multiple), prized nursery artwork and very important sticks and stones collected on our travels. Unfortunately I never seem to have time to do the clearing out.

A weekend in Barcelona
I went to Barcelona years ago and it was a city that I love and want to go back to. Great weather, food and atmosphere, with beach and city plus all the Gaudi art nouveau. I would love to spend a warm weekend chilling in this fabulous city, but 2 young children would make it a very different type of holiday to the one I'm thinking of. 

A new kitchen
We've been in our new house for 4 months and are working through the urgent stuff. The kitchen is functional and fine, but could do with replacing at some point. This means it wont be done for at least a year or two, but I like a pretty kitchen and it having a makeover is definitely on my ultimate birthday wish list.

More time with my partner
My partner is funny, kind, generous and wonderful in many ways. I love the days we have together. I also love the (rare) nights when the children are asleep and I’m not exhausted so we can spend some quality time together talking. I also love it when we go away together so we get longer than just the weekend. Unfortunately as my partner is a contractor he isn’t paid when he’s not working. This means going on holiday not only has the expense of the holiday, but the loss of income too. Any time I want us to go away somewhere I really have to weigh up if it’s worth it and if we can afford it. I feel guilty asking him to spend more time with me. The most perfect birthday present would be not to worry about money and just to be able to be with him.

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Thursday, 5 May 2016

Cool about school?

I thought I was OK about M starting school in September. Being a September baby most of the children she has been "friends" with since birth started school last year. I felt then it was too early for her to go to school, but this year I've been fine about it, she's ready. She hasn't been very happy at nursery this year because she has outgrown it. She needs more stimulation, more of a challenge. The emotional support the nursery staff provide is great for her, but in relation to everything else she is ready for school.

Selecting the school choices at Christmas I was fine.

For the first few months of this year when people asked if I was nervous about which school she would get into I was all "nope, it's fine, nothing I can do until they come out".

Last month when the results came out and M got into our first choice school I was all "Yay, great, but it's ages away".

Then last week I received a letter from the school inviting us to an information evening and an induction morning for M. Next month!!! M has to spend a morning at school next month! That's too early. She's not ready for school. I'm not ready to have a child who is at school. Stop time, stop.

I have to get real don't I? Over the next couple of months I have to buy uniform, school shoes, work out before and after school care, and come to terms with the idea that my eldest daughter is about to start school very soon.

Starting school is a milestone every parent goes through (unless they choose to home school) and in theory it shouldn't be any different to nursery. M has been going to nursery full time since she turned one, three and a half years ago. She will actually spend less hours at school each week than she does at nursery, but for some reason it just feels so much bigger. For one she has to wear a uniform. She also has to go to school, we won't be having the discussion each morning about whether or not she can stay at home, well we might, but the answer will always be "no" unless she's ill. This also means I have to wake her up in the morning if she is sleeping late because I'll be in trouble if we are late. It's going to be a nightmare. Added to that the comfort of having nursery all day every week day will be gone, school days are much shorter and then there's all the holidays and inset days. Ok now I'm getting myself more stressed, how will we manage when I'm back at work?

I might alter her birth certificate so she can stay in nursery a bit longer.
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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Princess Twilight Sparkle DVD Review

I remember playing with My Little Pony toys when I was little and it's one of the many toys which has recently had a revival. M fell in love with My Little Pony through the TV programmes and is now a fan of all the merchandise, so of course when we were offered the chance to review the latest release on DVD I had to say "yes". I was hoping I would be able to get M to do a video review, but as you can see from the video below she'll not make a blogger just yet. It would mean staying still for one thing and she isn't that good at staying still, but she did manage it through every episode of Princess Twilight Sparkle.
4 year old girl watching DVD intently
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Sunday, 1 May 2016

#MySundayPhoto - First Hair cut

M's hair has frequently been compared to Rapunzel's. This is because at 4 years 7 months she hasn't had a haircut, or at least she hadn't until yesterday. Finally a few weeks ago she agreed that she would get her haircut. I'm not sure we would have been successful if it wasn't for our local kid's hairdressers (Little Fidgets). What the hairdressers lack in talent the salon makes up for in novelty. Children get to sit in a car or on a bike and watch tv, better still they have a huge bucket of sweets they can help themselves to post cut. The trim lasted all of 5 minutes and we avoided having a blow-dry as M is scared of the noise, but success: M's hair is now slightly neater.

As they started to cut M's hair the lady asked me "do you want to keep some hair?", to which M replied in a worried voice "don't take too much off!". I think she was worried she was going to come out bald.
4 year old girl sitting in a car getting her haircut and watching Peppa Pig



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