The Big 30: a brain dump and the beginnings of a list

So I turned 30. 

Growing up and watching other people turn 30 it always seems to be met with dread.  I was rather indifferent to the whole affair until quite recently.  It was a bit late in the day to start thinking about a 30 before 30 list so instead I’ve opted for something a little more long term.

30 things, big and small, I’d like to accomplish in the next 30 years.

Sounds a bit ridiculous really when I think about it.  Is 30 things enough to motivate someone through 30 years of their life?  That’s one achievement a year, seems doable?  I’m not sure I can limit myself to that though, there’s a lot of stuff I want to do.

30 years feels simultaneously like FOREVER and a teeny drop in the bucket.  So much can happen in 30 years.  For example I’ve gone from a squalling infant to a woman grown with a husband, 2 children, a house in the country, a degree and a career.  That’s a fair amount of stuff to have done! In some ways I feel like this is the beginning.  

I’ve spent so long waiting for the next step, graduate, get married, get a house, have kids.  I’m starting my 30’s with a blank canvas, there are none of the standard big life moments ahead. That’s immensely liberating!  My 30’s will be just that, mine! 

It’s nice to think about the future though, it’s nice to plan, to have a vague idea of the path you think (hope?) your life will take. 

It’s nice to be able to reflect back at the end of it too, think about the person you were then and who you are now.  How did you get there?  What twists and turns did your life take?

It’s important to reflect regularly, revisit these lists and go for the “quick wins” (bullshit bingo anyone?) if motivation is running low.  It’ll also give me something to write about when inspiration is running similarly low.

G and I always said we’d go to a local restaurant for dinner one day.  It’s not a posh restaurant by any means but it was something we wanted to do.  We waited too long, it’s now under new management with a different name.  It made me think twice about postponing something you could be doing now and the reasons you’re postponing it.  We were just lazy in this instance I guess.

It’s weird to think about what the world will be like in 30 years.  The technology we have now will likely be redundant, replaced by goodness only knows what.  Who’d have imagined back in the day that popping a video in the player would be replaced by touching a screen?! 

Mindblowing.

I could be a granny in 30 years…

Ooft.

And so, in no particular order, and because I couldn’t stick to just 30, a bunch things to help me guide the next 30 years of my life… and beyond:

  1. Learn to bake
  2. Install my dream kitchen &  bathroom
  3. Address the dungeon* situation
  4. Have a successful marriage
  5. Be able to buy nice things without wondering if I’d be better getting the cheaper alternative from IKEA / Primark
  6. Sell a painting I’ve done
  7. Master photography and organise our ever growing collection of photographs
  8. Have a job which makes people say “wow” instead of looking at me blankly
  9. Take 1 family portrait every year (hopefully twice, once in summer and again in winter)
  10. Catalogue how the garden changes over time
  11. Paint the “Wendy house”
  12. Teach my kids to ride their bikes / swim
  13. Read Roald Dahl box set with the kids
  14. Replace cheap horrid clothes with quality, timeless pieces
  15. Become a proper part of our local community
  16. Support my kids through uni
  17. Go to San Diego Comicon.  Ideally in costume.  Ideally before my children will be mortified by the sheer notion.
  18. Have more kids
  19. Install some really funky house modifications.  Hideaway beds, stairway drawers, you know the type.
  20. Learn an instrument
  21. Turn a hobby into a source of income
  22. Start some new family traditions
  23. Create a new photo album, every year, on my birthday
  24. Visit New York, Sydney, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Disney Land, Canada, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Kathmandu, Great Wall of China, Santa in Lapland, see the Great Migration in the Serengeti, Antarctica to see the Penguins
  25. Spend New Year in a different country every year (not different from any other year, just different from the previous one)
  26. Paint a portrait
  27. Build a treehouse in the garden for the kids
  28. Keep improving my photography
  29. Grow veg in the garden
  30. Own the car I want not the car I can afford
  31. Inspire my daughters
  32. Be more confident and secure in myself
  33. Make tablet as good as Granny
  34. Challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone
  35. Learn to sew
  36. Meet Felicia Day and/or Neil Patrick Harris. Kit Harrington would be a bonus (and, as my lovely niece informed me, at 27 he’s *not* too young for me). 

A lot of these items are big, and vague, and hard to quantify.  I wonder if my idea of having a successful career will be the same at 60 as it is now.

Do any of you have an overarching life list?  Big goals?  Themes?  I’d love to know.  Mostly so I can pinch some of your ideas and pass them off as my own.  I’m greedy like that.

*it’s not really a dungeon but it’s an easier way of describing something which is part cellar, part basement, part house of horrors and happens to be part of our house.  Currently there’s just a door in the hallway that never gets opened.  I want a utility room dammit!!

Stop with the guilt already!!

I’m over on Any Other Woman today ranting about social media, parenthood and the guilt that comes from working / not working / not keeping the house clean / spending time cleaning / generally living.

Sometimes, as parents, we can’t win. It’s time to stop pleasing everyone and do what works for you. And it’s time the world let you get on with doing that instead of pressuring you into trying to be all the things to all the people.

It also seems the internet can’t make up its damn mind because no sooner was my post published on AOW than I stumbled across this beaut of an article*.

*sarcasm. ALL the sarcasm.

 

Review: Plum Mighty 4 Snack Pouches

As H&C get older and more active it becomes more and more difficult to get food down their throats when we’re out and about, especially if there are no high chairs to hand to physically restrain them.  There have been ham sandwiches smeared up walls, incredibly well fed dogs and adults running around chasing toddlers with loaded spoons.  I’m sure these all sound familiar and you’ll be pleased to know there is a solution – pouches!

With most meal pouches, as soon as tots become old enough to hold them and feed themselves they’re supposed to move on to the next stage.  The problem being that the next stage isn’t quite so convenient and definitely requires attention from both adults and toddlers to be eaten, not to mention a highchair and a spoon.  That’s a little too much of an event for us so, when we’re on the move and since that’s the only time H&C really get pouches, we’ve stuck to the stage 2 and even stage 1 fruit pouches.

Until the lovelies at Plum sent us some Mighty 4 pouches to review anyway.

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Mighty 4 pouches are aimed specifically at tots aged 1-3 so they’re PERFECT for my independent little ladies and since they come in a range of 3 different yogurty flavours they’re yummy enough to hold their attention right until the very last drop and beyond.  H can often be seen running around still desperately trying to sook out the dregs of a pouch long after it’s been finished.

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The flavours are a bit… on the inventive side but the Peas seem to love them so someone in the Plum kitchen definitely knows what they’re doing!!  There’s a strawberry, kale & amaranth one, a sweet potato, blueberry & millet one and a purple carrot, blackberry & quinoa one.  All of them are mixed with greek style yoghurt and because they’re Plum you can be certain that all the ingredients, in whatever seemingly bizarre combination, will be 100% organic.  And, of course, each pouch counts as 1 of your active toddlers 5 a day.

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I know, these aren’t Mighty 4 pouches but they are Plum at least and I just LOVE this photo so I thought I’d pop it in instead of the beach one that I tried and failed to get!

For anyone wondering (because I certainly was!) amaranth is a grain which is rich in calcium, magnesium and iron which are all important to little growing bones and active brains.

*Plum very kindly sent us some Mighty 4 for the purposes of this review however all thoughts and opinions are our own*

Husband Logic; Hiccups

H&C have been rather unwell this past week.  Just as H seems to be recovering C was up at 2am with a fever.  We brought her through beside us while her medicine kicked in and tried to stay awake while she pointed at everything in the room.  “Ook” she says pointing to the lamp.  “Ook” she says pointing to the dog.  “Ook” she says pointing to the remote control for the lights (yes, we’re that lazy and yes, we still have a nightly argument about who’s turn it is to turn off the lights).

After about 20 minutes she seemed bright enough to go back to bed and, right enough, she settled back in quite the thing.

20 minutes was also enough time for my body to register that I was awake but hadn’t eaten anything yet and so began the hungry hiccups.  We said our goodnights, turned off the light and I lay in the dark hiccuping.  Barely aware that I was doing so and drifting happily off to sleep when… BOOGIDYBOO!

Yup.  In the dark.  At 2am my husband cured my hiccups, and also my need for sleep, by giving me the biggest fright of my life.  He then proceeded to sulk because I didn’t thank him.  I sulked because he didn’t apologise.  I guess I should be thankful really because it gave me another 20 minutes of ploughing through Game of Thrones before my heart rate settled again and I was able to go back to sleep.

No wonder I’m using matches to keep my eyes open today.  Gah.

90!

A lot of things have happened in the last 90 years.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say life has changed immeasurably.  Which makes it all the more amazing when there’s a big birthday like that in the family.

Last month the Peas Great Nana turned 90.  90!

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Just to put that into context, since she arrived on this planet we have landed on the moon, been through 2 world wars, invented television, women gained the right to vote, driving tests were established, the first atomic bomb was detonated, Einstein & Marie Curie died, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson & Nelson Mandella all lived and died, there have been countless technological and medical advances including contact lenses, floppy discs, CDs, MP3s, THE INTERNET, Dolly the Sheep, the discovery of penicillin, and the Mars landing.

Phew.  When you put it all together like that it blows my mind a little.  OK, a lot.  Confession time: I did NOT know that Einstein had died in the last century, I thought he was WAY older than that.  It made me wonder, what events will happen in my lifetime that will blow the mind of future generations when they realise I lived through?  Scottish Independence?  Possibly.

So, anyway, to celebrate Nana’s birthday the whole family got together for a surprise party.  She has 3 children, 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren who all clearly adore her.  When I was pregnant with the Peas she told me I had to give her at least 1 girl as all her great grandchildren were boys… I gave her two and she was over the moon (not that I really had anything to do with their gender selection).

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It was actually the first time I had met a lot of G’s family so it was good to finally put faces to the names I’d been hearing for years and a lovely opportunity for H&C to meet their extended family.  Also a good opportunity for us to get a cheeky wee family portrait!  Always a fun task with 2 wrigglers who aren’t in the least bit interested in the camera but are VERY interested in all the streamers / sweeties / party poppers lying on the dancefloor.

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The following day was GLORIOUS, a stark contrast to the biblical rain we encountered on the journey down, so we messed about in Grandad’s garden smelling (read: trying to eat) the flowers and enjoying the grass on our bare feet for a while before heading to the beach.

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Because it had been a late night for H&C at the party the night before our normal routine was a bit (a HUGE bit) thrown so we played it by ear and let the girls sleep when they were tired.  C crashed out on my knee watching Peppa Pig in the morning which is likely to happen if you wake up at 5am!  H fought it for a while longer but eventually gave in and had a good hour long nap mid morning before we headed to Grandad’s.  C was a grumpy chops pretty much all day until she fell asleep in Granny’s arms (under protest) and she slept for a good 2 hours which meant that I was sat in the car with her while everyone else played on the beach.  Not that I minded, the 5am start had taken it’s toll on me too and I had a 5 hour drive ahead of me!

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[there are more beach pictures which, for some reason, haven't uploaded... I'll fix that tomorrow morning while nursing a hangover]

The journey home was uneventful, thankfully.  H slept pretty much the whole way which made me a bit concerned about how they would sleep when we got home but I needn’t have worried.  We arrived home about 9pm, all went straight to bed and none of us woke until 9:30 the following morning… BOY did we need that sleep.

A lovely weekend to celebrate the birthday of an amazing woman.  Happy Birthday Nana!  xx

Yes, they’re twins. No, they’re not identical. Yes, they can be hard work. But not always.

An open letter to the lovely, inquisitive, people who stop me to talk about the Peas EVERYWHERE WE GO.  You are lovely for taking an interest and I do love that so many people want to chat but please stop for a minute and think before you inadvertently offend ANOTHER parent of multiples.

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Yes, they’re twins.

Please stop telling me they’re hard work.  Or that I have my hands full.  Or that they’re double trouble.  I don’t care if your postman, sister or boss has twins or even you have twins yourself.  If you have twins yourself it’s an even more stupid thing to say because you know how bloody annoying it is to hear.

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No, they’re not a boy and a girl, they’re dressed head to toe in pink and they’re in a pink buggy.  You do the maths.

Please stop saying it’s a shame we didn’t get one of each.  You’re talking about my daughters here.  Living, breathing, cheeky monsters who I wouldn’t change for the world.  It’s thoughtless and careless and causes more hurt than you realise.

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Yes, twins run in my family… not that it’s any of your business.

Please stop asking if they were natural.  They are natural, see above point regarding the living & breathing little monkeys sitting in front of you.  Who cares how they got here, they’re here and they’re brilliant.  If they’d been born a year apart you wouldn’t be asking that question…

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I manage to do it because I have to.  As much as I love the compliment, I’m not Supermum.  ALL mum’s are super.  And dad’s for that matter.

Twins are exhausting, elating, damn hard work and absolute joy all rolled into one.  The good times get you through the rough times, the same as they do for every family.  Each family has it different, each family has its challenges and the things they find easier than others.  And I’m not just talking about twin families, I’m talking about ALL families.

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Yes, sometimes I get overwhelmed by needing to be all things at all times and sometimes I get it a bit wrong.

Please don’t stare at me with your judging eyes as I try to appease a screaming toddler in my arms while trying to push the other in the buggy and get to the checkout only to realise I’ve forgotten my debit card once it’s all been rung up.

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Yes, sometimes the smallest act of kindness from a stranger can turn my day around.

Please do offer to give me a hand when you see me fighting to keep a door open while I wrestle my double buggy through.  Or distract them in the queue while I’m paying and they’re getting restless.  Or politely remove the item that they’re trying to steal from their sticky little fingers.  Or just smile and let me know that society hasn’t turned its back on me for daring to leave the house with toddlers.

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Yes, they fight, they’re toddlers and they abide by the toddler rules of possession.

Please do ask about how else they interact with one another.  It’s truly amazing and I’d happily chew your ear off for hours about it.  They hold hands in the buggy sometimes.  They blow raspberries at one another and dissolve into fits of giggles.

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No, they’re not similar.  True to their genetics, they’re no more similar than any other 2 siblings despite sharing a birthday.

Please ask about their different personalities.  They’re like chalk and cheese but just as cheeky as each other.  H loves animals and gives hugs with every ounce of her being.  C loves a selfie and squeals with excitement that will make your heart burst.  They both refuse to get out of the bath.  H walked at 11 months, C at 14.  C sat up at 7 months, H at 9.  They do things in their own sweet time.  Nature v nurture can bite me.

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Yes, I know.

Please do tell me that they’re brilliant / funny / gorgeous and that we’re incredibly lucky / fortunate / blessed.  They are, we are and I’ll never, ever tire of hearing it.

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No, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’ll admit I do have moments where I envy parents who only have 1 baby.  I’d be in more photographs with them, I’d be able to take more photographs OF them, I could have used the sling more, I could be out in the garden more, I’d be able to pop in for a pint of milk and it would take less than 30 minutes… but then I look at those little faces and immediately regret all of those thoughts because we’re just so amazingly lucky to have them in our lives.

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And to the person who told me it would be their worst nightmare to find out they were having twins… you’re missing out love.

Review: L’orèal Paris Casting Crème Gloss

My hair hasn’t been its natural colour since I was about 13.  No joke.  I couldn’t even tell you what my natural shade is.  From what I remember it’s a dull, kind of muddy shade of brown.  I’ve probably tried every brand of hair colour going at one time or another.  I’ve been blonde, I’ve been (and always seem to go back to) ginger, I’ve been black, and I’ve even been pink.  I miss my pink hair but that’s another story for another day.

Despite what you might think, my hair is in bloody good condition considering it’s been dyed every few months for the best part of 20 years (eek!).  Hair dyes are getting better and better all the time and usually give your hair a bit of nourishment at the same time (unless you’re straight up bleaching your hair, expect straw in that case).

So given my lifelong relationship with hair dye I jumped at the chance of trying L’orèal Paris Casting Crème Gloss.  I was quite disappointed in the range of shades, if I’m honest, because I’m leaning towards proper gingery shades right now.  I picked out the most gingery looking one I could find, Chilli Chocolate, and eagerly awaited its arrival.  My hair needed done anyway as I had a wedding to go to so timing was rather fortuitous.

Here are some incredibly unflattering “before” photos to show you what my hair looked like before I started.

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IMG_0457The dye goes on wet hair, something I’m never keen on as I find it harder to ensure you cover all of your hair and, especially with longer hair, there is a tendency for the hair to tangle when it’s wet but hasn’t been conditioned.  That being said, there was more than enough in the bottle to cover all of my hair (I usually buy 2 packs as I have fairly long hair) and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the dye was to apply.  The gloves provided are obviously meant for someone with much smaller hands than mine though, I found them quite hard to get on which, in turn, made the application a bit more tricky as I didn’t have full range of movement in my fingers.

The instructions, however, were not so simple.  Lots of text made it quite difficult to track down the instructions for the specific stage of application that you’re at, even the time that the dye was to be left on for was hidden away.  I think this had a lot to do with the instructions being in multiple languages.

The dye has a pleasant smell, it’s not chemically and doesn’t go for your eyes, and there were no drips while the colour was developing which was handy because I was giving H&C their dinner and didn’t fancy dying either of them in the process!!

A lot of dyes these days give you enough conditioner for a few applications however there was only enough for the one application with Loreal Casting Crème Gloss and the bottle is an awkward shape so doesn’t stand up by itself and can be a slippery little bugger to get it all out.  I prefer the toothpaste style tubes that other brands give however that’s a personal preference because I’m a skinflint and like to make sure I’ve got every. Last. drop.

The colour washed out well, didn’t leave any residue on my towel (always a bonus) and was remarkably close to the colour on the box.  My hair felt lovely and soft after and had a gorgeous shine to it for the wedding.  I especially love how all the different tones show up when I wear curls.

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Although it’s a bit darker than I would usually go I’m loving the colour and 3 weeks down the line it hasn’t faded at all.  My hair is still shiny, still silky smooth and still getting me loads of compliments!

* I’m a BzzAgent and was sent this pack of L’orèal Paris Casting Crème Gloss free of charge to try however this was not dependant on a favourable review and all words and opinions are my own *