Father's Day Thoughts

So it's 6:30am on what is, for me, one of the worst days of the year.

Father's Day.

A day when everything seems to shout at me that I don't have a Dad. That he's died. That it still hurts.

The run up to the day is painful, the advertising especially:

"tell your Dad you love him"

"treat your Dad this Father's Day"

"Only three days to go"

Inspiring more than girls

Back in January, Lily came home from school upset and declared that she no longer wanted to go to football training on Saturdays because some kids in the playground had told her that football was 'just for boys'.

But after sticking with it and joining a local SSE Wildcats Centre, her determination to keep going paid off and she won a competition to be a mascot for the Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley.

It was one of those incredible days and one that she says she'll remember forever. Let's face it, walking out with the Man City and England Captain in front of 43,000 fans at the home of British football is going to take some beating!

The Guardian published this photo essay about the thousands of girls hopefully inspired by the match and for me, I've found myself overwhelmed by the event and the excitement surrounding women's football in the run up to the World cup in France this Summer.

My not-so-wicked Stepmother

In the steady diet of Disney films, fairy tales and fantasy stories that I devoured whilst growing up, Stepmothers always seem to get a bad rep. And let's face it, they deserve to, right? A feminist would probably argue that this is a hidden misogyny, to always portray women as jealous and spiteful, that a second wife must always have an ulterior motive, that they can't possibly be as sweet and loving as a man's first choice of wife.

The concept is so maligned. Unlike a Stepfather, so often seen as 'stepping up' and so praised and admired, a Stepmother is automatically assumed to be somehow wicked.

My Stepmother was not.

I still remember my very first glimpse of Jackie, the woman that would become my Stepmother and, in time, my friend. She was visiting a mate of my Dad. We were just leaving and my Daddy leaned down conspiratorially and whispered "see that lady, do you think she's pretty? I'd like her to be my girlfriend". My sister and I giggled. Not really able to understand the intricacies of adult dating. Especially after a divorce.

And she was very pretty. I remember thinking she was quite glamorous and rather fun when we went on days out together. A day trip to the London Trocadero. Or maybe a theme park.

Quick and Easy Greek-inspired Lamb

I often find meal-planning quite stressful. I like cooking and I like shopping so you'd think it'd be easy. But by the time you've added in everyone's likes and dislikes, attempted to cater for a healthy and balanced diet and planned something that can be cooked easily whilst also overseeing homework, play and housework it can become a tough job.

I'm lucky that the children aren't too fussy when it comes to food (I'm the fussiest person in our home, oops). I made the decision early on not to stress to much about it and to regularly introduce the kids to new things. It was great when they were at nursery as they were always trying different things and Matt and I like food from different cuisines and cultures so they don't get too stuck into a menu of chicken nuggets and chips.
In order to make it easier on myself, I find it useful to have a few fail-safe options every week and then I try and mix it up with different flavours every now and then. We'll have a range of beef or lamb dishes, some chicken, fish, vegetarian meals and a small amount of pork or processed meats like sausages or bacon.

Party Planning - Dino Party

It has taken me a couple of days to recover from Ollie's 4th Birthday celebrations. This was his first 'proper' party and I wanted it to be great (obviously).
I started planning for his Dino themed event before Christmas but it was only in January that things really got going. You'd think that this would've left me plenty of time, but I really like to have months of pondering and perfecting a party so doing it all in under 9 weeks was a bit more of a challenge - for my mind and my bank balance!