mummy and a mind

The musings of a mummy trying to make the most of her mind

Mummy and a mind – Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal – Cherry Blossom Baby

Renewal – the Cherry Tree that blossomed every year outside our old flat was always a sign of renewal for me. The end of winter and the renewal of life and nature. For this picture my daughter played in the blossom. Unfortunately just after we moved out they chopped down the tree and now every time I walk passed I think about how pretty it used to look outside our window, whatever the season.

My cherry blossom baby – mummy and a mind

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Big – Petra

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big - Petra

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big – Petra – Al Khazneh or The Treasury at Petra

Al Khazneh or The Treasury at Petra – is astoundingly beautiful. It is the first thing you see on any information about Petra, and as you walk through the narrow, winding passage that provides the only entry and exit to Petra, you are not prepared for this, your first site as you turn the final corner.

The Treasury is huge. (In the picture if you look at the people at the bottom you can just about get a sense of just how large it is). The longer you look the more detail you see. How on earth did they make it?



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Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette – Hot Air Balloon

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette - Hot Air Balloon

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette – Hot Air Balloon

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette – Hot Air Balloon

A hot air balloon floats over the site of the old Coking plant near Wingerworth, Chesterfield. This is believed to be one of the most polluted sites in Europe, but is in the process of being decontaminated and regenerated.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign - Olive Tree

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign – Olive Tree

for·eign  [fawr-in, for-]


1. of, pertaining to, or derived from another country or nation; not native: foreign cars.
2. of or pertaining to contact or dealings with other countries; connected with foreign affairs.
3. external to one’s own country or nation: a foreign country.
4. carried on abroad, or with other countries: foreign trade.
5. belonging to or coming from another district, province, etc.

My photograph shows an Olive Tree, in the gardens of the The Movenpick Resort & Spa at the Dead Sea in Jordan.

Although to most British people an olive tree is foreign, this particular tree is foreign to Jordan. It is a 2000 year old tree from Beth Lehem in the West Bank that has been moved to this resort. So although Olive trees are found commonly all over Jordan, this particular one is foreign.
Personally I find the idea of a 2000 year old tree absolutely astounding. Just imagine all the things that this tree has seen. Incredible.

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The neverending washing mountain

I hate the neverending washing mountain! Or rather, I hate that it is neverending.

Of all the chores that I have to do, the one that seems to take up the most time, but also to be neverending and never get done, is washing. I include in washing, sorting, washing, drying and the dreaded ironing (well I say ironing but at the moment it doesn’t really get done but more on that later).

There are four of us in my house. Two adults, a toddler and a baby. How on earth can such a small amount of people make such a huge amount of washing? And when did I get enough red stuff to fill a whole wash by itself, daily?!

Every morning when I get up one of the first things I do is sort the washing. I gather up all the separate piles from the house (husband’s pile, my pile, nursery pile, baby pile, sheets, towels, kitchen pile (teatowels, oven gloves). Then I sort the big pile into little piles, the notorious red pile (which actually is very pink, despite the fact that I swore when I had a daughter I would not dress her in pink all the time!), a white pile, a dark pile, which when it gets too big evolves into a black pile, blue and green pile, and a denim pile. All the while my lovely daughter is trying to help but for every one item I put into a pile, she moves two into the wrong pile, and my delightful son just takes great pleasure in snatching piece after piece from the piles and throwing them randomly around the room.

If I ever manage to get a complete pile I quickly try to grab it. If I am not quick enough daughter decides that it will be fun to throw herself on the pile, and stay there! So when I manage to manover the clothes out of her way and into my harms I make an dash for the kitchen. Except on the way I drop something, usually a sock or a bib (we have these in every pile). When I bend over to pick up said item, one or both children, think it is a game and either snatches up the item or pulls at the pile, causing an avalanche of washing to land on their heads, causing tears. After a bit of consoling I try again, grab all the stuff and maybe this time get to the kitchen, stuff all the washing in the machine (and sometimes daughter even picks up strays and puts them in). I put the powder in the drawer, while attempting to hold back my baby boy who is desperately fighting to get at the cupboard of chemicals. Nearly there, just the conditioner, which always manages to leak on the floor, shut the drawer and press on. Quickly press the buttons, beeep, ERR 1, you what? On and off and start again. This time it works. Right everyone out the kitchen, into the lounge, on the way trip over something, oh no that should have been in the wash (this typically happens with a red wash when it is something that can’t go into another wash).

So assuming the washing gets done now we have to dry it.

Now I live in England, in Greater Manchester, one of the rainiest parts of England. (A story I was told at uni was that the people that bought the Granada television franchise did so because the area it covers was one of the rainiest, so they thought that the people would spend more time indoors and watch more television). If I am lucky to get the washing hung on the line, it rains, or it is windy and it all blows of the line, of course landing in a muddy patch. My favourite one is the ‘Shall I get the washing in when I see clouds?’ question. It always seems to be if I think, ‘No, they’ll blow over’ I turn around and it is chucking it down. Or if I sprint outside get all the washing in, the sun comes out again. At the moment, although it is only October, it’s cold. Sunday was beautifully sunny so I put the washing out first thing in the morning. By the time the sun set and I had got it in… it was still wet! Now I would put it all on the radiators but it just makes the house feel so moist I hate it. And, if I do put it on the radiators it is a prime target for baby boy and his favourite thing to do, clear the decks, washing everywhere!

I was going to mention ironing, but really, with a toddler and a baby, no chance. Ironing is a late night affair, done as required.

So from first thing in the morning, till last thing at night, I am surrounded by washing. And when I wake up tomorrow, I have to start all over again.

Being a mummy and a mind, why can’t I think of a better solution?

The neverending washing mountain

The neverending washing mountain!

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Mummy and a mind REVIEW – Jellytots & Dollymixtures

Now part of being a mummy and a mind, is needing a grown up treat every so often, and as much I love cupcakes baked by my daughter, watching Cupcake Wars on tv has led me to a craving for a posh cupcake. A friend recommended Jellytots and Dollymixtures, a cupcake specialist with stores in Sale and Bolton, but who are also stocked in Selfridges Manchester and Selfridges Trafford Centre.

So I preordered a small selection (I just sent through an e-mail with my requirements) and popped off to Sale on the tram to collect them.

Amongst my selection I had a red velvet cupcake, a chocolate cupcake, an oreo cupcake, a rocky road cupcake and a cherry bakewell cupcake.

Jellytots & Dollymixtures cupcakes

Jellytots & Dollymixtures cupcakes – Yum yum

The shop has Signature Flavours: Vanilla Iced, Chocolate, Red Velvet, Lemon, Carrot. (available Monday to Saturday) as well as Daily Specials :

Monday – After Ate
Tuesday – Coffee
Wednesday – Choc n Cheese
Thursday – Coconutty
Friday – Nanarama

Though if you go to their Facebook page you can get daily information.

All of the cupcakes were very yummy. The box felt heavy for just 6 cupcakes but the cupcakes themselves tasted substantial rather than heavy. Each cake is individually hand iced and decorated and I was impressed as they all  looked lovely.

Husband had the chocolate one. Now this is a man who can demolish a betty crocker devil’s food cake smothered in Nutella. “It’s nice,” he said. A man of few words my husband! Although I got out of him that he liked the texture and that it wasn’t too sweet.

My favourite was the cherry bakewell. It was delicious. Just the right touch of sweetness and almond with a big, fat cherry on top.

All in all I was very impressed. Now I just need an excuse to go and get some more!

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Why is childcare such a struggle?

Now I know that this is a minefield, that I am likely to provoke annoyance, understanding,  and a million other contradicting responses depending on who reads this, but part of my struggle with being both a mummy and a mind is struggling with childcare, every aspect of it.

Now I work, only part time, but it is enough to require me to use childcare for my 2 children. I am absolutely spoilt in the fact that my mum looked after my daughter when I first went back to work, and now looks after my son (my daugher goes to nursery now). What irritates me, on my mum’s behalf as well as mine, is that she does so out of the goodness of her own heart, and at the expense of a job. Luckily for me she can do so, but I know alot of other people are not in the same position.

Here is the annoying part. If my mum was to register herself as a childminder (which she has got the qualifications to do), she could look after a baby and get paid, with the baby’s parent getting help from the government in the form of tax credits. But if she looks after my child, because they are related, I could not get any help with paying her.

So if I put my daughter in nursery, the government helps me pay.

If I leave my daughter with a childminder, the government helps me pay.

If I put my daughter in preschool, the government helps me pay.

But if I leave my daughter with her grandma, the government will not help me pay, at all.

The Conservative government say about family:

We believe that strong and stable families are the bedrock of a strong and stable society

And in fact, so do I. Which is why, when I came back to work when my baby was 10 months old, I didn’t really want to have to leave her (and then him) in nursery. My mum had offered, and I felt so much better, about leaving them with her. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people that put their children in nursery at all, it just wasn’t something I was keen on when they were younger, and having a different option really helped. I just think that it is unfair for the government to financially penalize me for choosing a member of my family to look after my child. In fact as it stands, financially I am better off coming to work and putting my child in nursery, than coming to work and leaving my child with my mum, or not working at all.

I understand that some people take advantage of certain benefits, and we are in a recession and people are trying to cut benefit payouts, but in reality I think the government could do worse than encouraging grandmothers to look after their grandchildren while their mothers return to work. In a time when unemployment is rife, it would provide a source of jobs for older people, who might find it harder otherwise to get work. As well as that some women are more comfortable returning to work if they can leave their children with their own mother, rather than a stranger. Grandmothers also offer a bit more flexibility, no strict opening and closing hours, no refusing childcare if your baby is sick, and they can look after your child in your home. All round I just find it easier and more comfortable as an option.

In reality though I really just wish I could stay at home and look after my children myself. It hurts me to leave them. I feel like I am the best person to be raising them and it irks me that by coming to work I can get money to pay someone to look after them, but if I stay at home I wouldn’t get help financially to look after them. So society is saying that the thing to do is go out to work, put your kids in nursery and let someone else bring them up. But what is wrong with me wanting to stay at home and bring them up myself? Why if someone asks “what do you do?” and you say “I’m a mummy.” Do they then ask, “No, but what do you do?” As if raising your children is not good enough as a job. If you asked someone what they did and they said nursery worker, you wouldn’t say, “No but what do you actually do” as if working with kids all day was not a job. Well hey, guess what, I bring up two kids, and I look after the house, I study and I work part time. What do I do?

I’m a mummy, and a mind.

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Mummy and a Mind – Must Focus

I think  my blog posts up to now show something about my personality, (apart from my mummy mind!) that seems to explain a lot about my life, my inability to focus on any one thing. I am one of those people that like to know a little bit about everything (well to be honest, a lot about everything!), but I do not have a great deal of patience with sticking to one subject.

This explains a lot of things in my life, from the different sports I did as a child, to the subjects I chose at A-Level, to the jobs I have done, and up to now, my inability to choose a ‘career’.

I always wanted to be one of those people that was really good at something. Someone that found a vocation when I was in my teenage years and followed it through at university then went into a job where I excelled and became hugely successful. Instead I chose unwisely at A-Level, got distracted because I wasn’t interested, went to university on a course I got through clearing (so had no real idea about), and ended up in a job, that miraculously I’m quite good at, but that has very little career progression. Now I am a mother, my priorities have shifted hugely, but coming back after maternity leave, has hammered home to me, that I really need to be happy in my job, to be happy at home, and therefore I really need to FOCUS.

I think everyone knows that most women who work, and are mothers, have an endless struggle with the balance of their lives. I am one of those women that work, not by choice, but because the money I earn adds a lot to our household. I know some other mothers who don’t work at all, because they don’t need to, those who don’t work at all, because they don’t want to, those who work part time but wish they were full time, those who work part time but wish they didn’t work at all, who work full time but wish they were part time, or full time who wish they didn’t have to work, those who work for the money, those who work for little or no money (because childcare costs are so high), those that live on benefits, those that refuse to claim benefits, and on and on. There are so many different types of mothers out there so none of this is meant to offend, this is just how I feel. (I will hopefully go into more detail about working mothers and how I feel at a later date).

I work two days a week, 8:30 – 6, the rest of the time I am a stay at home mother. I love being a mother. The time I spend on maternity leave is so special to me, and so important, and it is a huge wrench to leave my children and come back to work, but I do work. The problem I have now is that I am not happy in my job so I am desperate to think of a new job that I could do that would make me happy, make me enough money to leave my current job, and be something that my children will be proud of.

Now this is the point where my focus is lacking. Thinking of something I can commit to and focus on. I think of my hobbies and could I make money? Things I would like to do, things I think I am good at, and just random things, but I have yet to find something to commit to.

These are just a few things I have thought of:

Jewellery making – I like to think of myself as creative, and used to make earrings and necklaces, always for gifts never to sell. This idea moved on to importing jewellery from Jordan to sell here, as you can get some beautiful hand crafted pieces at very reasonable prices. But all the pieces I have bought in Jordan I want to keep for myself!

Sewing – I often see things like bibs, hair bands, t-shirts, bags, that I think would be very easy to make, with the key to them being nice being in the fabric used. The distraction here, investing in a sewing machine!

Proofreading/translation – as I am a proofreader by trade (currently), and am blessed with a bi-lingual husband, together we have looked into offering translating and proofreading services to foreign students and business people in the UK. As to why we have got no further with this, I am not sure. I think we got distracted by having children, but realistically this is probably the best route to go. Perhaps I will think harder about how to start this.

Cake-making/decorating – I absolutely love cake decorating. I have been doing it since I was a young girl and love the creativity involved. I am not any where near professional as at the moment I just don’t get much chance to practice (as it is currently relegated to birthday cakes, 2 or 3 a year), but this is the one where I would be in heaven if I could do it as a job. I am hoping now I know a few more mummies I might get a bit more chance to practice, and as they say, practice makes perfect! This might be my part time/on the side job, just to do until I get sorted.

This is the Hello Kitty cake I made for my daughter’s latest birthday – mummy and a mind

Baby / wedding related job – I think babies and weddings are lovely and would just love to be able to do a job related to either. That is about as far as I have got!

I love things like this wedding website, with all the beautiful photographs and ideas. Well really I just love reading about other people’s weddings!

And I love companies like this:

A mummy who wanted more reasonably priced gorgeous things for her children so set about starting her own business. Brilliant.

Florist – As with cake decorating I love flower arranging, again practice is a bit of a problem!

Writer – I would love to, and really hope to, write a novel one day. But I really want it to be perfect so am trying to think of what to write about properly before I start. As well as having the time to commit to doing it properly.

Well as you can see, this is not even an exhaustive list but it is an exhausting one. I have so many little ideas, I just want to be able to do everything. But I really need to sort out exactly what I want to do with my life. FOCUS!

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Mummy and a mind REVIEW – Lush launches ‘FUN’

As a mummy (and a mind) of 2 young children I am always on the lookout for new ways to keep them entertained, so when I was given a pack of Lush’s new FUN to try I couldn’t wait to get it home for them to play with.

As with many Lush products, you smell FUN before you see it. We had the green one, which has a strong citrusylemon and lime scent that escapes through the see-through biodegradable wrapper. Combine the smell with the bright green colour and I wasn’t surprised when my baby boy’s first reaction was to grab a piece and try to eat it!

My 3 year old daughter, with a much more sensible head on her shoulders, decided to make a cat with hers (after telling her brother “It’s not a sweetie, you’re supposed to do making with it”). The texture of FUN is a bit crumbly initially but with a little bit of work, kneading and squashing, it moulds together and becomes more like playdough.

When I told her she could take it in the bath with her to make bubbles she was very impressed (bubbles are a favourite at the moment) so we broke off a small piece and crumbled it under the running water. For a 3 year old, the most important thing with a bath product is just how many bubbles it makes. Happily FUN came up trumps so both kids were dropped in and a proper bubble bath ensued.

After a splashing session we used another bit of FUN to wash with, as a straight replacement for soap, and then another bit for hair washing. It lathered up nicely and rinsed out easily. Once all the bubbles had disappeared we saw that the water had changed to a lovely bluey-green colour.

In the end we were left with 2 lovely smelling, clean children with soft and fluffy hair, begging mummy for some more FUN to play with.

We only used a little chunk for bubbles, washing two children and hair, so were left with plenty for future use. At £5 a pack (with 10p from each sale going to children affected by the Fukushima disaster), FUN would make an entertaining, as well as useful, present for children (although I’m sure Mum will be ‘borrowing’ some too), and with 5 different colours available you will be spoilt for choice.


This review also appears on

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Ali Lissencephely

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