Posts filed under ‘home life’

getting haircuts for long haired boys [in pictures]

haircut with safety goggles 1
When Euan had his first haircut it felt like a monumentous moment, one we’d managed to put off until he was nearly 3! He had gorgeous springy curls that thickened up and dropped over time with his second and third haircuts. When he had his hair cut for starting school it was the shortest he’s ever had his hair cut.  Since then a handful of trims have kept it out of his eyes while he enjoys growing it longer. His best friend at school has long straight hair where Euan’s hair tends to bush out sideways. I felt it was really important for him to have a say in how he wears his hair and despite other people’s comments that it was messy and a bit crazy I was pleased he remained unaffected in his wish to keep his hair long.  ‘‘It’s my style to be a bit crazy, I like it”.

We have a terrific hairdresser Nicci who comes to the house now and cuts all of our hair.  Euan was assured that the trim would simply thin out the bushy sides, snip the fridge from catching his eyelids and not loose any of the length. Not a single person has commented on Es hair looking any different (it is definitely less big!) so that’s a sure sign of a job well done and a boy respectfully listened to.  Nicci was rather amazing really as she didn’t bat an eyelid when Euan insisted on wearing his science experiment goggles. You’d have thought it was something she hears every day when she smiled and said ”now that’s a good idea, I should get some of those”.

E a few days after haircut_BW -
Luca had a trim too and was only persuaded to sit still with the enticement of a sweet he doesn’t normally have. Nicci managed to tidy up his hair in the time it takes a toddler to eat a Maoam stripe (which is about 90 seconds in case you wondered!).
toddler haircut on mum's lap_black and white


May 19, 2018 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

To practice any art .. is a way to make your soul grow

‘To practice any art, no matter how well or badly,
is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

30-7-15 - E drawing in the kitchen 1 4B
Collage - drawing in the kitchen
30-7-15 - E drawing in the kitchen 5 4B
30-7-15 - E drawing in the kitchen 6 4B
”It’s not only children who grow.  Parents do too.
As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives,
they are watching us to see what we do with ours.
I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun.
All I can do is reach for it, myself”.

– Joyce Maynard

I first published this post in 2015 when Euan was a 3 year old artist.  He’s now 6 years old and he’s done much soul growing since then.  I love his drawings and the confidence with which he thanks people when they commend his artwork – ”thank you, I’m an artist” he replies with a hesitantly proud smile.

6 year old artist -

After such a long wait to have Euan I never dreamed he’d have a sibling to share his love of drawing with.  At nearly 2 Luca is already picking up pens and pencils and having a scribble.  He hasn’t quite grasped the ‘‘only on paper” message yet though so his freedom to create is being supervised at the moment!

25-3-18 - brothers drawing in the back yard -

I enjoyed a bit of creativity myself turning E’s picture into a quote card – simply upload your photo to Big Huge Labs, click on Motivator and add your quote.
Motivator - to practice any art -


April 16, 2018 at 8:40 am 3 comments

Introducing Mummy by 6 year old Euan

A few years ago I shared a list of questions I asked 3 year old Euan and had wondered whether it might become an annual reflection as his vocabulary and understanding of people and place changed with his age. We didn’t ever review it so this morning on Mother’s Day Euan gifted me 10 minutes of special time* and I chose to re-interview him as a 6 year old. It was interesting to see how some answers remained the same and some changed having understood the question differently.
I don’t think any answer will ever beat ”I have hugs in my brain” for how Euan knows I love him but I appreciate the little insights into our relationship that such questioning provides.

1. What is something Mummy always says to you? I love you

2. What makes Mummy happy? Hugs

3. What makes Mummy sad? I can’t think of anything

4. How does Mummy make you laugh? Pillow fights

5. What was Mummy like as a child? Kind

6. How old is Mummy? 43

7. How tall is Mummy? pretty tall

8. What is Mummy’s favourite thing to do? have special time with me

9. What does Mummy do when you’re not here? play with Luca

10. If Mummy becomes famous what will it be for? being the best Mum

11. What is Mummy really good at? driving the car

12. What is Mummy not very good at? playing piano

13. What is Mummy’s job? I don’t know, don’t you stay with Luca?

14. What is Mummy’s favourite food? Egg and parnsips and smoked salmon

15. What makes you proud of Mummy? being the best Mum

16. If Mummy was a cartoon character who would she be? Peter Rabbit (you like radishes too)

17. What do you and Mummy do together? have special time, make lego, read books

18. How are you and Mummy the same? we’ve both got kind hearts

19. How are you and Mummy different? You’ve got blue eyes and I’ve got brown eyes

20. How do you know Mummy loves you? I was your baby one time and you named me Euan and it was a nice name. You also hug and kiss me a lot.

21. What does Mummy like best about Daddy? He’s really really really really really really good at playing piano

22. Where is Mummy’s favourite place to go? Kingsholm Park

23. What did Mummy do before you were born? I don’t know, I didn’t know you then. I think you wished for a baby

And how did our answers compare to each others and to last time? I’m touched by the ‘best Mum’ nods and that sharing kind hearts was his first thought (a more tangible ”we have bones” was 3 year old Euan’s response). I was pleasantly surprised he couldn’t name something that makes me sad in view of my last blog post and relieved my driving is good having crashed the car with E last summer. It just shows that the effects of trauma can be short lived when expressed fully in the moment and smothered with love after. And funniest of all, his answers for the things I’m not so good at are the things his Dad excels at. So all in all I think we’re doing ok with this parenting thing!

* In case you were wondering about the references to ‘special time’ it’s a parenting tool recommended by Hand in Hand parenting where your child is in charge of how you spend your time together. To read more about the benefits of setting aside just 10 minutes in your day to re-connect with your child see this link to archived articles on the Hand in Hand website.

Footnote: I’ve written this post on Mother’s Day 2018 feeling so grateful for my children but feeling fully aware how hard this day is for others. I wrote a blog post last year that you might like if you know someone who struggles on this day and would appreciate knowing they are not forgotten as the world celebrates Mothers. Much love x

March 11, 2018 at 11:24 am 3 comments

goodbye baby, hello allotment grower

2-6-13 - buttercups 2_for banner
It’s been 5 years since I updated my blog header so you’d be forgiven for thinking the baby in the field of sunny yellow rape seed flowers is Luca rather than Euan. Now that E is a boy with an allotment patch it’s time to update the header to reflect his lovely involvement in the plot.

I created this new header last year but hadn’t been able to upload it without it cropping and distorting.  I’d been trying to puzzle out how to do that when it slowly dawned on me that I should be thinking about refreshing the whole design. This new header doesn’t really reflect where I’m at with writing these days as gardening and cooking are no longer the mainstay of my content and I have two boys not one to share stories about.

I chose the Blix theme when I first logged into WordPress nearly 10 years ago and I’ve been fearful about making changes in case I preferred it the way it was or all the formatting looked wrong.  More recently though I’ve really been questioning whether to keep blogging and having decided to keep writing I need to let go of my fears and take up the challenge of learning to do things differently.  The lovely Happiness Engineers at WordPress assure me I won’t lose any information and with a job title like that you’re gonna trust them aren’t you.  I’ve been reading up on how to make improvements to my blog and it turns out I’ve been making a rookie error all these years by just using nice pictures of the boys in my header. It’s funny how you don’t see what’s right in front of you until you start looking with fresh eyes so despite my hits counter being over 400k visitors to my blog would would be hard pushed to work out where they have arrived. G laughed when I told him about my blog name being missing from my header and I knew why immediately – introverts don’t tend to want to draw attention to themselves and what may have been a shy, albeit conscious decision 10 years ago, is now a bit of a daft oversight!  Woops! Thank goodness for other bloggers who write helpful PDFs about how to navigate all this stuff, I’m off to do a spot of reading and find some dutch courage to put myself out there a bit more …


March 5, 2018 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

easy peasy lemon cake

This is the easiest cake in the world to make and while I’ve blogged about it as a bundt ring cake here and a birthday cake here a few people have asked for details so I’m happy to re-share. I promise you’ll never need another cake recipe again. The 4 egg quantity shown below will make an 8 inch sponge sandwich or you could half the quantity if you want to just enjoy cake for one day and not 3! I used an 8 inch square sandwich tin with a 2 egg batter, cut the cake in half and stuck it together with butter frosting. It made about 6 chunky slices.

You will need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 250g each of unsalted butter, sugar and self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp good quality lemon curd

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs and gradually mix in the flour. Add the spoonfuls of lemon curd. Spoon into 2 cake tins (or one if halving the recipe). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree C for approx 25-40 mins depending on how deep your cake tin is. I mostly guess the time but you’ll know it’s ready when a fork poked into the cake comes out clean. Turn your cake out onto a wire rack and while it cools mix up some butter spread and icing sugar for the filling. Mixing in some lemon juice or a teaspoon of lemon curd will make it lovely and zesty. Drizzle a little lemon icing on top and enjoy with your favourite cup of tea.
If you need to cater for a gluten free friend have no fear I have that covered too in my blog post making gluten free lemon cake
22-8-10 - lemon drizzle cake_slice 4B

February 17, 2018 at 7:00 am 2 comments

a Dr Seuss birthday party

Our big boy turned 6 in January! I can hardly believe it really as it still only seems like a blink away that he finally made his wonderful entry into the world. We wanted to give E a party to celebrate this milestone birthday (each year feels epic but this one was accompanied by losing a his first baby tooth and gaining 3 molars!). He chose Dr Seuss as a theme following on from the standard set by his 3rd birthday and we returned to the same venue, our local community cafe Roots to celebrate our fab boy with family and friends. What a wonderful time we all had thanks to Steph and Tom from Limitless Kids coming to do some party games and E’s buddies embracing the request to dress up. Even making the party food was fun as G and I made our best efforts at Seussian names for the nibbles.

February 8, 2018 at 10:38 pm 1 comment

2017 in pictures

I’d completely forgotten about this new year tradition until I saw Julie’s 2017 highlights post at Little Cotton Rabbits. I’ve been inspired by her lovely tradition of looking back over the year since 2011 and am grateful for the nudge to do so again for 2017. I feel so old saying it but… each year seems to fly past quicker than last. It’s so nice to flick back through my photos and reflect on the many lovely occasions we’ve had with our boys, most just pausing for a minute in ordinary every day moments. I still find it amazing that we get a second run at this parenting malarkey with Luca after the struggles we went through to have Euan. Hoo-bloomin-ray I say for another year watching these two grow into such beautiful, sweet natured human beings.
2017 in pictures collage
L to R Jan to Dec: E’s 5th birthday, my 42nd birthday, E winning ‘best costume’ for his BFG outfit on World Book Day, L’s first birthday, E climbing a tree with cousin Zac at a family wedding, annual holiday to the Isle of Wight, back on the allotment with E and Dave, visiting cousins Kim and Tom in Germany, weekend in Somerset with cousin Kian, attending the wedding of a dear friend, my photograph being chosen by photographer Rankin to feature in ”This is Britain” photobook, Euan building his first snowman.

As I find the passing of time measured by E’s hair so interesting indulge me for a moment if you will as I re-share the collages for 2016 and 2015 too!
Collage - 2015 in pictures 4B
Previous years in pictures: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

January 4, 2018 at 9:29 am 1 comment

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About Nip it in the bud

Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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When your hungry toddlers go too food request is "me want cake Mum" it's good to have a savoury muffin recipe to hand. 2 minutes to whip up and 15 mins to bake. Remains to be seen whether he'll be fooled! Recipe on the blog by searching feta muffin #nipitinthebudblog #sugarfreemuffins #babyfriendly
Grief is rough at the best of times but seeing your child struggle through the pain of loss is a real knife to the heart. A friend has lent us some books to read with E and "The Sad Book" by @michaelrosenyes is going to be the key to papering over some of the cracks in our hearts I think and easing his anxiety about dying.
Beautiful wood block print from our dear friend @elluminations of our boys on a beach in the Isle of Wight at the start of the school holidays. We returned to find my Mum's health deteriorating and she died 3 weeks later. Our world has been turned upside down but when I look at this picture I can feel the peace, hear the lap of the waves and smile at the tenderness of the moment - two #bestfriendbrothers absorbed in their own present moment. Thank you El, this means so much to me (for commission's of your own photos or El's artwork as wood blocks visit her Etsy shop)
E's had a hard time the last few weeks following an incident that triggered a really big stress response for his 6 year old bereaved mind. Today we've made a worry box to help him with his anxiety symptoms and have found the advice on the @youngmindsuk website invaluable. We all need to talk about mental health more especially as it's too easy for grown ups to dismiss a child's misbehaviour without looking for the feelings underlying it. #breakingthestigma #worldmentalhealthday2018
We've had a hard few weeks and this really sums up how asking for help is the light in the dark but not always easy to do. It's #worldmentalhealthday2018 and never has it been more important to make sure our kids know asking for help is a sign of strength and courage not weakness or failure
How to get your kids to eat your home made casserole? Cover it with their favourite #cullyandsullyuk chicken soup. Winner!
I learnt a new word today and if there was an emoji for it then it would be this! PIZZLED, when your pissed off and puzzled all at the same time. Thank you #rubywaxfrazzled for the language education and Euan for the always hilarious faces (he was 4 years old and eating lunch out with his new 2 month old baby brother so his face could be saying all sorts of things!) #gloucesterlife #nipitinthebudblog
I don't suppose many people recall the exact date they found out they were pregnant or have a photo to mark their total delight. 15/8/15 we found out our second miracle Luca was on his way. We'd become second time parents in our 40s and 22 years after we started dating. Our boys were so worth the painful years of waiting. (And our picture to mark the occasion is thanks to Mum and Dad babysitting Euan so we could go to a friend's wedding evening do.)
After school chills @gloucestercathedral @gloscathedral
Best friend brothers. Our #siblingsproject post for this month (link in bio) #nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife
It's so hard to grieve the loss of your Mum when just looking in the mirror each morning reminds you of what you're missing. Dad always said "thankfully you get your looks from your Mum" with a cheeky twinkle in his eye.

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