Bostik Blogger Autumn Craft.

Autumn has tumbled upon us in a rush and far from mellow mists and fruitfulness, it has mostly brought bugs and snuffles and a general sense of “gaaaaaaah, bring back summer!”

This did mean that I had the company of various of my children for the last two weeks which has many positives and some negatives in the form of getting work done. Or blogging. And my house looks awful. This may or may not be their fault.

However, the Autumn Craft Box arrived at a perfect time for Josie, who was feeling sorry for herself with a burst eardrum and she had a lot of fun making this ‘mixed craft media’ picture.

Josie's autumn tree picture

She had a lot of fun with this and the Bostik Glue Pen and the Sticky Dots combined perfectly to make it easy for her to stick felt, tissue, foam sheets and the gorgeous autumnal leaves together with no mess at all.

Upside of a poorly Josie is time for autumn crafting.

There are lots more Autumn Crafts on this site and also on Simple Crafts and naturally I have a Pinterest board as well.

Follow Merrily Me’s board Autumn Crafts. on Pinterest.

Dear Milano Leotards.

To whom it may concern,

I wish to complain about the unexpected removal of money from my account this weekend, 5 1/2 months after you should have done. I understand your bank caused you difficulties and you had to process these very late and I also do understand that problems like this can occur.

What I do not understand, given that as an online retailer for 13 years I have a pretty good grip of how an ecommerce retailer system works, is why you didn’t make a decision to collate the email addresses of people who had purchased during the affected time and email out a warning that some of us might be affected by an up and coming debit. This would have given people such as myself, who had not realised the money had not been debited, a chance to ensure the money was safely in the account and that it wouldn’t cause issues with other payments. I understand that the bank couldn’t release individual data, but you would have been able to do that. If a small business like my own, run by 3 people and processing £?00,000 of sales a year can manage it, I’m sure you would have had the manpower and technical competence to do so.

The debit of £46 has caused me considerable inconvenience. I appreciate it was money I had authorised you to take but I don’t keep a close watch on my account, particularly at that time of year when I buy gifts for 3 birthdays and I hadn’t been aware of your error. Since I know perfectly well you can take the money for up to 6 years, I would have called you to let you know of the issue if I had spotted it, since I am scrupulously honest.

Far greater than the inconvenience caused – which means that a child has not been able to go on a trip this week as that £50 has long since been inadvertently spent again – has been the behaviour of your staff.

Twitter told me the sales staff had tried to email me but my account was bouncing which was a) entirely at odds with all the mail perfectly happily arriving through the day and b) did not correspond with the fact that when I went to your site and asked for a password reset, your site was able to immediately send a mail through to me.

I called your sales staff to express the difficulties this unexpected debit had caused me and explained that I had been genuinely unaware that your system failure had not debited my account at the time. She told me I should have had the “common decency” to check my purchase had completed and let you know I hadn’t been charged.

I think you should have had the common decency to more proactively warn customers. You could have caused my mortgage to bounce or a number of other significant issues.

Your sales staff lady was unspeakably rude, including laughing at me when I was outraged by her words and I’ve since been ignored on Twitter. I have therefore lodged this experience with Trading Standards. You may not have broken any laws, but you’ve fallen well and truly short of good service.

I hope to hear from you with an apology, not least because my 3 gymnasts will be very sorry never to receive another Milano leotard as a birthday gift as it stands
.

Best wishes,
Merry Raymond

Merry’s Perfect Prairie Muffin Moment.

I win, I win! I baked something and it isn't a disaster!

A couple of weeks ago I got totally and utterly sick of packed lunches, specifically the fact that the girls have ended up hurriedly making sandwiches and grabbing a snack bar, snack bars that are expensive and neither healthy or particularly satisfying. I decided i would try baking, something I absolutely never do, and see if that improved things. Once the children recovered from the shock and inspected me carefully for implants, they risked tasting my wares – and it was pronounced a success.

First of all I canvased for help, and got some great recipes from Snafflesmummy, but then decided I was going to have to go even simpler first. I tried out this Apple and Sultana Muffin recipe, which has been a ‘go back to’ one since – they are lovely and really don’t feel unhealthy to eat.

I win, I win! I baked something and it isn't a disaster!

Hurrah. I didn’t have so much success with the flapjack, which fell apart too much despite several attempts, so I’m still on the look out for a better version of that.

But the girls liked my baking, they’ve asked for me to do them again and it has been so much cheaper that snack bars. I do rant and rail about the whole school ‘healthy eating’ policy – Josie is stick thin, does 16 hours of gym a week and needs calories but is bound by the same break time rules as an obese child. At least this way I feel like I’m doing something good for her, which can’t be questioned, makes them feel a bit more mothered and is cheaper too. No one can complain about a home cooked, butter free muffin but I can make sure it is big and has plenty of good calories.

So a couple of weeks into the experiment and I got brave – my very own ‘see what happens’ recipe. And here it is. Worked perfectly, so I hope it does again!

Banana & Sultana Muffins.

5 small squashy bananas, mashed

1 cup of sultanas

1 cup of brown sugar

3 tbsps of sunflower oil

3 tbsps milk

1/2 of cup brown flour

2 cups of self raising flour

1 egg

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup of porridge oats

Chuck it in a bowl and mix briskly. divide into 12-15 muffin cases and bake at 190C for about 25 minutes.

****

I did a recipe. I don’t know what to tell you. It makes a cake-y but also quite banana bread-y, heavy but nice muffin. I might try adding some baking powder and see if that lifts it (who knows, I’m not exactly a baker!) but I’d make them again to turn out the same anyway because they were yummy.

I’d really love you to leave links to healthy, fast, easy baking for using for breaks and packed lunches as I’ve got the bug for baking all of a sudden!

 

 

Our 5th Remembering. #WaveOfLight

Remembering Freddie on our 5th Infant Loss Awareness Day without him.

I can wish for the days when being part of the Wave of Light hurt so badly I wanted to collapse inward under the weight of my own dying star.

I ache for the pain.

I remember that this day pulled me low and broke me all over again.

It no longer does.

I regret that.

For Freddie and all the babies who should be and are not.

Life goes on.

Except for those for whom it does not.

Except for the piece of me that got lost way back there with him.

With Freddie, more than 4 and a half years ago.

Long enough that only a very few people mentioned his name.

He’s drifted, found a mist, scattered and fled from the minds of most.

Even sometimes of mine.

Remembering Freddie on our 5th Infant Loss Awareness Day without him.

But not from my heart. Never from there.

There is a bitterness creeping in me that he is forgotten now; perhaps it is because I know people mirror my own onwards face.

It’s so hard to live if you look backwards, so hard to live if you let yourself acknowledge that you want to turn round. It is all smoke and mirrors, all a game I play. Forwards. Keep walking forwards.

And so I rage quietly – and with guilt of knowing I have only myself to blame. I held him to my heart and kept him to myself – and so he sat by the roadside quietly while other memories marched on. Left in the grass, in the sun I hope. Just a whisper of a baby no one knew.

***

This year, again, I remember. I always will.

I remember Freddie.

I remember a twin.

I remember Evie Rose.

I remember Benjamin.

I remember Joel.

I remember Toby and Estella.

I remember Sophia and Thomas.

I remember Matthew.

I remember Lily.

I remember the lost potential children of friends & family who I love.

I remember Florence Violet.

I remember Emma Faith.

I remember Daniel.

I remember Minnie.

I remember Thomas.

I remember Jack.

And I remember all the babies of people who have kept me sane this last 4 years, 6 months and 2 days on my blog, on their blogs, and at Glow. A list I will inevitably keep adding to for days as I get to yet another blog I read and realise the enormity of loss that silently surrounds us. (Forgive me if I have not yet added your child, please remind me, my memory & rss feed are equally inadequate prompts.)

I remember Iris.

I remember Lucia.

I remember Georgina.

I remember Charlotte.

I remember Alex.

I remember Reid.

I remember Hope.

I remember Haloumi.

I remember Gabriel.

I remember Micah.

I remember Cullen.

I remember Otis.

I remember Foster.

I remember Liam.

I remember Laura.

I remember Joseph.

I remember Snowflake.

I remember Margot.

I remember Catriona.

I remember Isabelle.

I remember Rhianna Lily.

I remember Daisy.

I remember Poppy.

I remember Matilda Mae.

I remember Hugo.

I remember all the babies of the men and women on Glow who have stood beside me this year.

I am thinking of the babies who belong to women who have told me their stories this year in person, to comfort me and abide with me, but who have not always told me their names.

I am thinking of babies held in hearts and kept private to their families.

I am thinking of the mothers for whom hope was gone almost before it had taken root.

I am thinking of the babies who were longed for and never came.

I am thinking of the mothers for whom pregnancy became surgery & medical procedures.

I am thinking of the women who made the decision to say goodbye for a greater good, while it tore their hearts out and broke their souls.

I am thinking of the mothers who discovered horror on a day that should have meant a whether pink or blue nursery needed preparing.

I am thinking of the mothers who felt stillness where a moment before there had been back flips.

I am thinking of the mothers who prepared or laboured to deliver a baby knowing they would never hear a cry.

I am thinking of the mothers who unexpectedly heard the loudest silence in the world.

I am thinking of the parents who hovered over a neonatal crib, hoping for a miracle, learning medical terms they never wanted to know.

I am thinking of the parents who chose the moment of their child’s last breath and held them as they died.

I am thinking of the parents who didn’t get there in time to do that.

And of all those who fall into the myriad of cracks between, each a chasm as deep and dark as any other.

And for the fathers, the siblings, the aunts and uncles and grandparents for whom life is never quite the same again.

***

Every year another name. So many, many, many more names.

International Baby Loss Day. October 15th.

 

On Beauty: The Dove Legacy Campaign. #FeelBeautifulFor

Frances

Her life – and motherhood for me – began with beauty.

“She has a little problem with her mouth,” they said – and handed me my firstborn with a blanket across her face. Within hours, almost before I had had time to meet her, my room was filled with pictures of other babies, other children and how surgery had fixed them to look better, repair the imperfection, alter the way they looked.

I had filled my life so full of the worries about my face, my hair, my too fat tummy and breasts that didn’t point the way I wished they did. I had judged myself all by my looks and the derision of others who judged me because of them. I had seen myself passed over for promotion because I didn’t look good in a bank uniform and belittled because short and fat must imply slow and stupid.

And suddenly I had to mother a girl for whom life was, from the instant she arrived, all about how she would be changed to make her beautiful.

The tiger mother roared. Not loudly, not at first, but she woke and cleared her throat and vowed to make her life something that would not be ruled by what people thought of her face.

But there is no doubt that if your life is all about hospital appointments to change your lip, or change your teeth or change your nose or change your speech, the idea that beauty, looks and how other people perceive you will matter. If a stray word from a gym coach about your weight takes hold, if a cruel comment about how your hair looks sneaks in under your guard, if the tooth made wonky by your cleft palate shows up in photos when you smile – all those things affect a growing teenager. In a house of four girls it is impossible for comparisons not to happen over height or size or hair or looks.

What I tried to do was make them not have to fight the battles I had fought, against weight and low self esteem and lack of confidence in myself as a being with worthwhile qualities. What I didn’t know, was that using myself as a standard against which to judge themselves as better was offering them the opportunity to hunt for their own imperfections in the mirror.

It’s an easy mistake to make.

I’ve tried to give all of them, but perhaps particularly Fran, other things to focus on that were not about face or even fat, certainly not about fitting in and being the same. I tried to make sure they had the opportunity to develop talents and skills and have bodies that were under their control, powerful, fit and strong.

But body image and the world around us are powerful influences – I sometimes forgot those because our early home educating life made us more able to control the impact of such negativity – and I forgot that focusing on my own tummy roll and the face I wish was prettier would make them think critically of their own bodies. I remembered to model speaking kindly to others, but I forgot about speaking kindly of ourselves.

I know I’ve had an impact on such things but I hope that by focusing on individuality and skill and hard work, I’ve shaped them to think about more than looks. So I interviewed Fran, who started off as a baby who was all about her looks and grew into so much more, a girl who has precious little idea how much of a role model she is for her sisters and the young gymnasts and dancers she interacts with and I was quite proud of what she had to say.

Dove made a film asking daughters and mothers about their body and what they thought of them. The impact of parental body image on a child is clear; the children echoed their mother in many of their feelings about their own body image.

Leading psychotherapist and Chair of the Dove Self-Esteem Project Advisory Board, Susie Orbach said:

“The role models in girls’ lives are often unaware of how much young girls watch and mimic them.  A girl grows up absorbing the behaviours and attitudes of their family members, especially her mother’s, and making them her own. These behaviours and attitudes form the foundation of who they are and how they feel about themselves.

“So, how we talk about ourselves, how we eat, how comfortable or uncomfortable we are in our own bodies, is the medium in which a daughter’s own body sense and body confidence grows or wilts. How well a young girl or young woman deals with the onslaught of media and commercial forces on body preoccupations is affected by what they pick up at home. Mothers are so important in providing a safe base.”

Perhaps it is too late to entirely alter things now, but I can try to take something from this;

“Whether she is a mother, aunt, coach, teacher, or sister, every woman has the opportunity to make a difference to a girl’s self-esteem,” said Lucy Attley, Dove UK Brand Director.  “By talking about our bodies in a positive way, we can help the next generation of girls grow up to be happy and content, free from the pressure of beauty stereotypes and the burden of self-doubt.”

Dove have created a set of self esteem tools as part of the #feelbeautifulfor campaign in the hope that the next generation will grow up feeling differently about their body.

I think seeing what pressures a young teen has to deal with has made me re-evaluate my own face and body. I’m a little more accepting of my looks (if struggling to come to terms with the reality of age!) and more comfortable with the achievements my body has to its name – 6 children, running for half an hour at a time, overcoming massive life hurdles, getting slimmer to be fitter, not more beautiful. If hope that as the girls grow up now, it is those things they will focus on remembering about me and aim for themselves.

Disclosure: This post is in association with Dove.