Another year older, another year wiser?

#Blogtober18: All About Me – A Year On


No dear reader, it isn’t my birthday quite yet, but rather the start of another #Blogtober18 – a blogging challenge of a post per day for 31 days either following prompts or choosing your own theme.

In last year’s opening post – On (not) keeping it simple – I wrote about the pitfalls of trying to stuff too much into life.  Clearly, as I start another #Blogtober 12 months on, I haven’t learnt my lesson but the pre-mum me wrote a lot and the current me misses that so I welcome any helpful nudge to remind me to fit a bit more of Karen as well as mum in my life.

I think the bit where I might be a bit wiser though is that I’m slightly more realistic about not completing it – after all I’ve still got June’s #30DaysWild posts to finish…

Last year I had a really good reason to truncate my efforts as Faith’s heart surgery was unexpectedly and suddenly brought forward – Putting the heart into Halloween.

This year I am praying not only that I won’t have such a justification but also to accept that I don’t need one anyway – surely a husband, three kids aged 6, 3 and 1 and two jobs is enough in itself to make anything else come at least seventh on the list?  Simply doing the admin required by school and nursery seems to be a full time occupation and then there’s the large amount of time I seem to dedicate to picking things up off the floor…

Photo: Merika Green

Last year I did manage to fit in a day’s papermaking course and a half-day lino printing Christmas card workshop, both of which I really enjoyed.  The return of #Blogtober reminded me of this and I have now booked myself into an evening’s beginners pyrography event to restart my aim to regularly try out a new craft.  Once or twice a year might not be frequent but it’s regular right?

Do you manage to fit in some “All About Me” time?  How?  And what do you choose to do with it when you can?  Let us know in the comments below…


Seven things I hate about school

#Blogtober17 – Day Five: Education

Before I start on this rant I want to make it clear that I’m obviously grateful for the universal public education offered in this country and that when I was originally bemoaning not getting the school of our choice for our eldest seeing Malala joining Twitter put my complaints in perspective somewhat.

But that doesn’t mean that I have to like all of it.

  1. The illusion of choice
    The majority of people were given a place for their child at their first choice of school.  We were in the minority.  This did not bode well for me accepting let alone embracing that it was already time to lose my first born to the school gates.
  2. The effect on siblings and the family unit
    Full family time was already at a premium due to working hours but now it is almost restricted to the weekend.  Holidays and days out are crammed into the same time and space everyone else needs to cram them into as we all roughly share the same term times.  Siblings are separated for hours each day, younger siblings get dragged along on the school run for no benefit of their own, loose their playmate(s) for most of the week and the freedom the eldest child may have been lucky enough to have known for the first four or five years of their lives is truncated for the younger siblings.  We thought Willow would miss Luke a lot now he is in his reception year but Luke too has also asked when Willow will be starting his school.
  3. Uniform
    I like a team strip but I’m really not a fan of uniform for uniform’s sake.  He has plenty of clothes that fit him already, why are we wasting money and the earth’s resources (the fashion industry is a huge polluter) buying him more in order to deny him the opportunity to be an individual and the opportunity to wear any bright colours or fun designs?
  4. The school run
    All the schools in our area are over subscribed so we knew early on that I would have to start driving frequently and regularly which, considering up until August I barely drove at all as I’m quite scared of the concept, is a very big deal for me.  It creates such a busy time on the roads and siblings get to waste double the amount of time in the car due to the return trip.  Anyone recommend some interesting CDs to listen to?  And my sense of urgency for getting to the school gate on time is rarely reflected in the time it takes the minis to get in and out of the car.
  5. Time
    The school gets the best of my son’s time.  We get the rush at the start of the day, the tired at the end and we’re always watching the clock in between to make sure we march to the sound of the school bell.  They get to see him learn, his wow moments are now shared with his teacher’s and not me and I lose opportunities to learn along with him.
  6. Influence
    Peer pressure and other adult influences will start to make a bigger impression on my child’s outlook.  We’ve already had gender limitations alluded to which I did my best to quash immediately but such labelling can be insidious.  It doesn’t help that he is among the many children who subscribe to the “what happens at school stays at school” line of thinking offering up exceedingly little information as to how his day has unfolded or even just whether he’s eaten or not.
  7. Homework 
    I was one of “those” children who actually asked for homework when I was in primary school even though we weren’t regularly set it then in the way children are now.  As a parent however, I’m not sure I approve of having too much set (if any) for such young pupils.  They already over tired from the school week, have such reduced family time at home or for truly free play, why rob them of more?

I know the answer to some of my genuine concerns rather than just grumpy grumbles would be to home educate which I have considered but, for now at least, he is apparently enjoying school whilst he’s there and his younger siblings can enjoy more of my less divided attention too.

All of this, of course, I do my best not to voice around him and I’m well aware that, after experiencing our first half term, I may well be writing a seven things I love about school instead…


A month to be aware of

#Blogtober17 – Day Four: Date

October 2017 is a very significant month which has lots of claims to fame.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Stoptober and Black History Month, it contains The Big Draw, World Space Week, Wool Week, National Knitting Week, British Egg Week, National Curry Week, Chocolate Week, Baby Loss Awareness Week, International Day of the Girl Child and International Babywearing Week, Apple Day, International Sloth Day and Halloween, to name but a few.

And not forgetting, most importantly, Daddy and Mummy Malpi’s birthdays and anniversary.

But, notwithstanding the significant number associated with my impending age celebration date, October 2017 is also important to us as it is Down Syndrome Awareness Month in the US.

In the UK Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week is held in March, encompassing the date of the 21st of the 3rd month as people with Down’s Syndrome (or Trisomy 21) have three copies of chromosome 21 but why wouldn’t we want to join in with our international community and dedicate a whole month to raising awareness, to “celebrate people with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments”?

Faith may have only been born just under nine months ago but she’s already achieved so much.  She’s been able to breastfeed which we were told was unlikely, she has the most adorable chuckle, she attracts compliments wherever we go and has been signed up by specialist talent agency Zebedee Management, gives great cuddles, blows a fabulous raspberry, has lovely babble-y chats and she’s getting more and more mobile as she’s so determined to start exploring the world just like her big brother and sister.

And she’s certainly won the hearts of mummy, daddy, big brother and big sister.

I don’t want to consider what a world without my Faith would be like and I give thanks that, for the most part, we live in a country where people are kind and think that helping others should be the willing default option.  When you give love you receive it in return and, if our as yet short introduction to the Down’s Syndrome community is representative, there’s a lot of love to go round.

October has always been my favourite month with birthdays, Halloween and an anniversary to celebrate and now it has a special relevance for my miniest mini too.


Planes, pains and automobiles

#Blogtober17 – Day Three: Car

Today’s #Blogtober17 prompt “car” reminded me of a recent fun family day out despite not all going entirely to plan…

With the weather forecast against us and a desire to find some new indoor attractions to keep the mini ones busy (that didn’t involve soft play yet again) we’d headed into south Lincolnshire on a Sunday in September.

Having consulted the Lincolnshire Heritage Open Days schedule we’d discovered that Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum was hosting a pioneering female aviators exhibition – High Flying Women (this has now been replaced by Airships Over Lincolnshire… Lighter Than Air) and, never having visited before, we put the code in the sat-nav to find out more.

I hadn’t expected it to be a huge museum but also hadn’t expected it to be quite as tiny as it is either – but it definitely punches above its weight.

The minis were as warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by the friendly and knowledgeable volunteer curator as my husband and I were and, clipboards in hand ready for collecting answers in the temporary exhibition section, we entered the room of exhibits to see what was on display.

At any age hands-on learning is much more fun than passive experiences but especially so for children and Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre more than meets this challenge.  A flight simulator, an aircraft recognition game, a chance to try and drop a supply package on target, dressing up opportunities and a navigation challenge mean that you’ll be spending a lot longer in the centre than you may have first thought on entering.


Clutching their lollipops won for completing the worksheet accompanying the exhibition (despite being pre-literate Willow takes these types of things very seriously), we headed out into the courtyard that’s home to a Jet Provost which Luke and Willow enjoyed running around pretending to be airplanes themselves.

When they’d come back down to land it was then time for the automobiles section of the day and when things started to go slightly awry.

Next on the itinerary was to stop for lunch at V-ATE, a “pit stop dining experience” in Boston – sadly it seemed to have been next on everyone else’s itinerary too and we arrived to be told there was an hour-and-a-half wait to be seated which we didn’t think the minis would endure.  The restaurant has only recently opened, the photos of its extensively themed interior have heralded much hype and, according to those I know who’ve managed to get a table so far, the hype is justifiable both for the food as well as overall experience. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to try again another time, perhaps not on a Sunday lunchtime.

Fortunately our next planned stop – The Bubblecar Museum – advertised having a cafe as well as being “the UK’s most unusual motor museum” so we headed straight there instead.

Despite being far from a petrolhead and actually a very reluctant driver at best, the Bubblecar Museum is somewhere I’ve long wanted to visit.  I’m a big fan of 1950s style and the microcars are, quite frankly, just cute.  As Luke’s toy cars are everything to him at the moment I thought it would appeal to him too.

Our welcome didn’t quite have the warmth of the earlier one however as the curators seemed quite suspicious if not disapproving of the mini ones’ exuberance.  With the dire warnings of potential dangers of their static car, motorcycle and moped displays ringing in our ears (not to mention the chance of fingers being trapped in the entrance door) we still managed to enjoy the displays in the micromusem, circling both floors several times talking about the different colours of the vehicles and pointing out items in the cabinets.  With no interactive elements to their collection (you can pay extra for a ride in a Bubblecar) we didn’t spend quite as long here though.  Luke did make sure he left the gift shop clutching a new toy car for his collection however.

The day did also serve to fuel my enthusiasm for finding more small and quirky museums to visit however as I find the passion behind such specific collections particularly engaging.  And seeing as I’ve just found out through Twitter that there’s a Lincolnshire Chair Museum perhaps we have our next destination!

If you know of any interesting little museums then let me know in the comments below.


The privilege of baby cuddles

#Blogtober17 – Day Two: Babies

At one of the minis many weekend daytime soirees another mum who had stolen Faith for a cuddle spoke of the privilege of holding a baby.

Obviously as the mum of the baby she was holding at the time I was definitely in agreement but she’s right in general too, isn’t she?

The newborn stage is so fleeting and so precious.  A small bundle of newness that knows little of the darker side of life and that simply wants to absorb and radiate love.  You are cradling a whole life in your hands, embracing an innocence that the future’s potential is stored within.

And for many people there are only a short few years in your life where you have regular opportunity to hold someone at such a special time.

I wish we had been told how meaningful it is when we were younger instead of how having children when young might ruin your life.  I wish that being a mother and looking after the potential of the future was held in much more esteem than it currently seems to be in our society because being blessed by my minis has made my life.

And when, as a teen and university student you are given dire warnings about ensuring against unwanted pregnancy, it might be pertinent to mention that it can actually be difficult to get pregnant too, especially as you grow older.

We’re educated towards being able to take a place in the world of work (which is obviously quite useful) but we seem to forget that there are more important roles to prepare ourselves for too.

So, whenever I’m having a long day, I’ll try to remind myself that the years are short and feel privileged to have full arms and to be able to hold on to those hours and my babies for a little bit longer.


On (not) keeping it simple

#Blogtober17 – Day One: All About Me

One of the best pieces of advice that I was given in Faith’s early days when requesting words of wisdom from those who’d had more experience of coping with three young children was to “keep it simple”.

The mum’s words seemed entirely sensible, aspirational and even potentially achievable.

In that moment though, I seemed to forget that this is one of the things we seem to find impossible to do.

Some of the things our days fill up with are often unavoidable – medical appointments for example.  And September has brought the start of school and, with it, thanks to the lack of spaces in any school within vague walking distance of us, the school run involving an hour’s round trip twice a day.

But we’re also a family that like to get out and about and experience life outside our front door – leaving the chaotic mess and things in need of repair behind us for at least a few hours even if just to be even more annoyed by them on return.

And I appear to be a girl who just can’t say no.  We are blessed to have many family and friends from across our different walks of life and, between all our works, children’s appointments and other commitments, it can be hard to come up with times we can actually see each other which means we usually try and accept any opportunity going, filling up our days attempting to defeat the forces of traffic, recalcitrant mini ones and time itself to fit as much as possible in one day.

If my son seems to want “to do everything now, all at the same time” then perhaps we only have our own example setting to blame.

Which led to today’s attempt to not only take some photos for a future blog post with the help of some friends and to visit some relatives but also to attend not one, not two but three parties.

Ambitious, brave or (most probably) just plain stupid, you may have guessed that we didn’t quite make it.

Despite rain causing problems at photo time, the (somewhat late) realisation of how far away the first party was (despite the lovely host having warned us) causing a truncated early visit to family that resulted in returning later in the day, an incidence of baby sick, the fact I seemed to think teleportation is factual rather than fictional leading to missing one party altogether adding a good dollop of guilt to my stress levels, the frustrations of rural roads and the ups and downs of over-tired and over-excited sugar-fuelled mini ones, we actually had a really enjoyable day – but perhaps it’s definitely time to learn to slow down a little bit.

As the (equally lovely) third party host said about their own logistical concerns – “you can’t time travel”.

And, if we bemoan the speed of time we witness in our children growing up too fast, perhaps we shouldn’t help it by keeping our foot on the accelerator too.

But have I really learnt my lesson?  Given that this is my first post in the blogging challenge #Blogtober17 (run by which aims to follow prompts to post once a day throughout October, probably not.  But, even if I don’t quite make it, hopefully I’ll have some fun along the way.

So now you know (if you didn’t before) that one of the things I find difficult in life is to “keep it simple” as much as I would like to.  That’s not exactly “all about me”, today’s #Blogtober17 post prompt, but it probably does inform a lot of other aspects of my life.

If you do have any tips on how to keep it simple, please leave them in the comments below!