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April, 2013

  1. The next great impressionist

    April 30, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    I’m an alright parent. I try to do one activity a day with/for Little L. I don’t always succeed. We watch a lot of telly. God bless Cbeebies.

    Very, very occasionally I do something that’s not half bad. That happened this week. And I’m so damned chuffed, I’m sharing it with you on here because it’s a brilliant idea and it’s what we’re doing from now on.

    With three birthdays this weekend, we’d already got the presents sorted but not the wrapping paper. Thanks to funny tummies, we skipped on swimming and spent the morning snuggling up under a blanket instead. By lunch, I was feeling like a guilty lazy mum so thought I’d be brave and set up some painting. But what? Then it hit me;

    We’d make our own wrapping paper. We had everything we needed – paints, bib, huge roll of paper from Ikea. So this is how it went down;

    Having set stuff up in the kitchen, I drew three themed pictures; butterflies, jungle and under the sea. These matched the presents.

    2013 04 26 paint 1

    Because I’m lazy, I can’t be doing with paint pallets. Instead, I splurged the paint directly on to the picture tactically. That way Little L could schmoosh it around as she wished.

    2013 04 26 paint 5

    When I say schmoosh, I mean it literally. Having been taught to do so at nursery, Little L automatically started painting and using her hands. It’s all good – I still didn’t have to clean paint pallets so I was happy.

    2013 04 26 paint 7

    And so, to the finished article. Cheap (free!), entertained Little L, and end-of-painting-time-tantrums were avoided by the golden phrase ‘this is the last one now, okay?’

    2013 04 26 paint 8

    I was really rather impressed at what happened next. I put the rag on the table to clean it and Little L took over to do it herself. A child who paints then cleans up after herself. I know, I have no idea either. Blooming well done Busy Bees nursery for training her up, that’s all I say.

    2013 04 26 paint 11

    And that’s your lot. 15 minutes worth of me being impressed at what a mess it wasn’t. Time where Little L was impressively focused. A result that meant funkily wrapped presents. So if you invite Little L to a party, expect a one-of-a-kind wrapping on the gift.

  2. Life advice #14: Clarity, not clutter

    April 27, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    14. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

    Clutter. It’s a family’s best friend. In our house, we do as best we can to make sure we don’t end up with stuff we don’t need. I’m notorious for selling things or Gumtreeing things away once we’re done with them. Bigger things. But clutter – it’s all the little things, isn’t it? Things that we don’t really have a place for, so they become the things that live everywhere.

    Take our mantlepiece for example. We have (left to right) a wooden tortoise brought home from Uganda by our nephew; an empty photo frame box from Boston; our wedding cake toppers; a pack of chalk; one of Little L’s birthday cards (from last month); a ‘congrats’ card for getting Pyjama Drama up and running; a clock; some empty Mario themed sweet tins; an oversize wedding invitation (my fault); drinks holder circles of wood (I can’t remember what they are called right now, okay?); a smelly thingy; the pairs to the tortoise and photo frame box.


    The only thing stopping this from being The Generation Game is a cuddly toy. We don’t need it all. It can all go, or go elsewhere. But it’s still there. And this is just a very small snapshot of our house. And every time I look at it I think ‘ugh, we don’t have a pretty mantlepiece like everyone else. I should really do something about that.’ But I don’t, because we have a child and I just don’t get round to it.

    I need to declutter. I need to hit Ebay with the four boxes of clothes under the bed. I need to sort Little L’s toys. I need to decide what I’m doing with the front garden (whole world of clutter hiding behind the fence). I need that clarity, that space.

    I will post a picture of the mantlepiece again this time next week. Together, we’ll either mock me or celebrate the clarity.

  3. WordPress Goddess Alert

    April 23, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    I drew the star with my eyes closed. Can you tell?If you are a WordPress blogger (and to be honest, even if you are not) I must draw your attention to Jane&Philbert.

    You may have noticed that is looking pretty damned spiffing of late and this is down to two people: Alex Hansford, my husband, for helping me get it to a point where I actually know what it is and what I want to do with it, and secondly, Gemma of Jane&Philbert. She is an absolute fruit loop. But she is brilliant. I’m currently on day 3 of her Pimp Your Website course and it’s brilliant. And funny. And silly. And it has outtakes. And she swears. Really big swears.

    I’m so impressed by her advice and help that I’ve even posted midweek. I mean… wow.

    So yeah – look up the page peeps and get your blog pimped!


  4. Life advice #13: Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

    April 20, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    13. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

    On Wednesday, I was a hero, a careless mother and a solution all in the space of half an hour.

    Little L had a tear in her eye as she cuddled her carer at the nursery when I picked her up. She’d become upset when they came in from playing in the garden. And along I came, the hero to rescue her from a world of … well, actually nursery is really lovely, so I’m not sure what had been upsetting her, but there  I was, and she ran to me for a cuddle. The hero!

    We arrived home and the tantrum began. From getting out of the car, to the door, to the living room, it was a wall of dribbly, flailing noise. For 10 minutes, it was this*:

    Banshee in training

    I tried talking to her. I asked her what was wrong. She flailed. She hit out. She would not be reasoned with. (And in fairness, you know, she is only two.) I could have put her on the Naughty Step – no point, it’d just rile her. I could have forced her to have a cuddle – no point, it’d just enrage her further and I’d get hit. So I walked away. Okay, I walked away and took a photo. The careless mother!

    But I took a deep breath. I calmed down. She took a deep breath too, a massive yawn, which doubled as obtaining a gulp of air strong enough to power a sonic boom of a scream. But this moment of calm gave me just two seconds to realise she was tired.

    So a story it was. (“Zoo Poo”, in case you’re interested). By the end, she was hu-hu-hu-huuuuuuuming away as little ones do after a tantrum. Time for a cuddle and a ‘how are you’. A solution!

    I need to take more breaths. Are you getting enough air?


    *And yes, that is a Knightmare shield and helmet in the background. What of it?

  5. Life advice #12: Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

    April 13, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    me12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

    I would not say I have ever been a jealous person. Comparative, yes, jealous, no.

    Facebook and Twitter et al have become an online way to celebrate positivity. This is essentially a great thing. The only downside to this is the risk that others look on and feel defeated at the poster’s achievements. That the onlooker feels like they are operating at a level below their peers. I also think this is is probably why my blog is very honest, possibly to a fault. This blog is a demonstration that even though a lot of my life is brilliant, there are down bits.

    For example: Friend A who is stunningly beautiful, has stunningly beautiful children and even looks stunningly beautiful and raises money for charity in doing an activity that would make anyone else look ridiculous.

    I cannot operate at that level.

    Friend B who is completely unique, has a fiercely intelligent, imaginative child, is incredibly skilled and whose family lives an almost surreal life, making the most of any community event or experience that comes their way.

    I cannot operate at that level.

    I look at these women and feel like I’m not providing an exciting enough life for my family. I feel ugly. I feel unproductive. I feel less worthy. And all of these feelings are wrong. These women lead different lives to mine. They have different families, different pasts and different futures.

    I am naturally comparative, I don’t think I can avoid that. But what I can do is start reminding myself of the things that are good, and that there isn’t a need to become someone else. After all, if I become someone else, I don’t get to be me, and being me is pretty fun after all.

    Mummy Kindness says all the the above in a far more eloquent way. I absolutely love her blog post. You can see it here.

  6. Pyjama Drama Is A Go

    April 12, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    UntitledI’m 6 weeks into my new job. In case you’ve completely missed it this far on the blog, I’m the manager for Pyjama Drama in Milton Keynes, having had a chance encounter with an advert seeking franchisees. The resulting trip to Wales gave me a glimpse into one of the most wonderful activities for children I have ever seen, so good in fact that I quit my job to bring the idea to my home town.

    I’m 6 weeks into starting a new business. I have an office area upstairs, I have a gosh-darned-fabulous Pyjamobile, I have a parachute in case I fall out of a plane (or maybe it’s for games, I don’t quite recall) and I have more time to spend with Little L.

    I’m 6 weeks into a world of delightful admin. I’m not kidding you – I love admin. Freakin’ love it. If I can colour code a spreadsheet, I’m full of glee. And now I have a whole wealth of admin that’s mine, all mine.

    I’m 6 weeks into self employment, and self-earned income. I’ve only run two sessions so far, so you can probably guess where that leaves me at the moment.

    I’m 6 weeks into my new way of life and, while I do look back (of course I look back, it’s been brilliant), I can’t help but look forward to everything that’s happening.

    I’m 6 weeks in.