Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Just say yes

Squidge playing with Playdoh

Have you ever seen the film Yes Man? It’s great, Jim Carrey is a man stuck in the same old routine, never wanting to go out or do anything, instead he favours staying in where it’s familiar.  Then he went to a seminar that was all about saying yes to every opportunity – the message being, you’ll be surprised at what great things happen when you say yes.

Well, ok it’s not quite the same with a toddler, but we have learned and are continuing to learn to say yes as a kneejerk reaction instead of no.  Just this last weekend, we’d planned to go out to the shops after lunch.  We were sat at the dinner table and Squidge picked up his Playdoh, he wanted to play. We said ‘No we can’t do that, we’re going out now’ but he really wanted to play with the Playdoh, so we changed our mind and said ‘yeah sure, why not’.  What harm does it do going out half an hour later?  None whatsoever.

The lesson? We don’t want Squidges childhood memories to be marred and dictated by the things we had on our to-do list that day. So what if we alter our plans so he can have some fun, that’s what childhood is about!  If there’s anything the last 19 months or so have taught us, it’s that childhood is fleeting and far too short, a bit like life. Tidying can wait and so can chores, having fun and spending precious time with your children is so much more important.  

I want Squidge to grow up having memories of us embracing life and not being house-bound, about us saying yes to opportunities, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. 

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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Silent Sunday #1

Squidge just a couple weeks old
Squidge was just a couple weeks old, look at his fluffy hair!

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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Praise not punishment

Squidge looking deep in thought in Hay on Wye

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we parent Squidge.  It’s funny really, you have this idea of what kind of parent you’re going to be, I had visions of fretting over every tiny bump and not letting him touch anything.  But in reality we’re way more laid back than I thought we’d be. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t let him get in dangerous situations, and he’s always supervised.

Back about 6+ months ago, we realised we were saying ‘no!’ a lot to Squidge, and telling him off. After thinking about it, we realised this wasn’t how we saw ourselves guiding him, we always said ‘praise not punishment’, and it’s silly really, he always loved being praised, so that’s what we started doing.  If he stood by the TV and didn’t touch it we’d say ‘Good boy for not touching the TV’, we’d find any little thing we could to say ‘Good boy’ or ‘Well done’ about and he loved it, he’d clap with glee that he’d done something good.

We saw instant results, we were hardly ever saying ‘no’ or telling him off, he did good things because he wanted the praise.  Well, 6 months on and we’re still doing the same and it still works well.  Don’t get me wrong, if he goes to do something really bad like stick his fingers between the door and the door frame, we’ll tell him no and explain why.  Sometimes he’ll have a proper toddler meltdown because we’re not letting him hurt himself (lol), but that’s ok, he needs to learn that in life you don’t always get your own way.

There’ll always be boundaries they test ‘Can I climb the stairs this time?’ or ‘Maybe I can touch the TV?’ but the message should be the same – explaining why they can’t do that.  And if something is a persistent issue, maybe trying taking the temptation away – if they want to climb the stairs all the time, put a stairgate across it.  If they want to touch the TV all the time, fit it to the wall out of reach. 

But remember to praise as much as you can, they respond so well to hearing they’ve been good :) Well, Squidge does, obviously not all children are the same, but positive affirmation has to win over being told off, no one likes that :)

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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Why Pixie does?

The Kent family

Nearly 4.5 years ago, I joined the blogging world with the creation of Makeup-Pixi3.  As a beauty addict, it was my place to share my hauls and loves of all things beauty, but specifically makeup. I had time to put on makeup every day before work, crafting a full face of flawless makeup, and not much in the way of bags under my eyes to cover.

Fast forward 3+ years and my life changed (for the better), I had a little boy called Squidge (well, he's Squidge online, I like to try and keep his actual name secret).  No longer do I have time to craft an immaculate face of makeup each morning, in fact it's a miracle these days if I manage to drag myself out of bed before the final alarm goes off that says 'Leave the house now!' (not even joking).

My life has changed so much over the last couple of years that I almost can't relate to what it was like before. I seem to have transferred most of my passion for makeup to crochet, and most of my time is spent with my little boy.

Makeup-Pixi3 just didn't seem to fit me any more. It was a blog about makeup, but I didn't really blog about makeup any more, so the name didn't fit. I thought about changing the name and URL, but that just felt like I was sticking a plaster over it.  So with about a year's thought and pondering, I decided it was time to walk away from Makeup-Pixi3 and create a blog that fitted our lives as we are now, and for the future.

I wanted a name that wasn't prescriptive - that's the problem with Makeup-Pixi3 and Mummy-Pixie - they're both a bit 'Ronseal' ("It does what it says on the tin") and didn't feel open enough to other ventures.  So with a lot of thought, I came up with Pixie does.  It's an evolution of Makeup/Mummy-Pixi3 in keeping the pixie part (the pixie thing originated from my old Xbox gamertag from 10 years ago, which I still have going).  Posts will be themed, like 'Pixie does crochet' or 'Pixie does parenting' or 'Pixie does cooking' etc, becoming a true lifestyle blog with a heavy parenting focus.

It was such a massive decision to move away from Makeup-Pixi3, not just because of the thousands of hours I'd put into it, and lets face it, thousands of pounds (hello advertising, makeup purchases etc), but it's taken me years to build up a following on there too, 4511 at last count.  But lets face it, numbers don't really mean anything.

Eventually I'll have all my old posts from Makeup-Pixi3 and Mummy-pixie migrated over here, so I'll still have the archive, but the sites will eventually redirect to this blog, but not for a few months.

So there you have it, a really long-winded description of why I decided to start fresh, and how the name came about :)  If you've followed me here from Makeup-Pixi3, thank you - I really really appreciate the support <3
Follow me on Bloglovin | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

8 ways to grow your Pinterest following

8 ways to grow your Pinterest following

A long time ago, a good blogger friend gave me some great advise on how to grow your Pinterest following.  While mine has grown slower than others, it’s still pretty decent, so I thought I’d share with you the passed down tips and tricks for growing your following on Pinterest.

I’ve had a Pinterest account since it started up years ago, when you had to get an invite to join.  I didn’t really do much with it until about a year ago.  I just cooed over the many amazing gorgeous pins and that was it.  Well, when I started doing what I listed below, my followers climbed from maybe 100, up to now over 15,000.  At the moment, following the tips below, I’m gaining nearly 100 followers a day.

Why grow your following?

The way I see it, there’s 3 good reasons to grow your traffic on Pinterest (in no particular order):
1.  As your following grows, brands could contact you for partnerships
2.  Once you have quite a lot of followers, it could send traffic to your blog (if you pin blog images)
3.  It’s really satisfying :)

How to do it

Little and often
Possibly one of the most important tips is to pin little and often.  Literally, 4-5 pins several times a day is all it takes, so just 2 mins of pinning here and there.

Check the ‘popular’ pins to see what’s trending
Personally, I like to pin a couple pins from the popular list, and check the popular pinterest boards to see if there’s opportunities to create a board on something popular, especially if I keep seeing it crop up.

Don’t over-pin from your blog
If you publish a blog post, I wouldn’t pin more than 1 image from each post.  Try to think like a fellow pinner, and think what image is ‘Pinterest-worthy’ and pin that one. If you create recipes, you can even add code to your post so that Pinterest pulls through the method and ingredients into the text of the pin.

Pin seasonal things ahead of time
So pin Christmas stuff in Oct/Nov – that way people have time to start thinking about all the lovely crafts they can make ready for Christmas, or food or drink etc.

Good board descriptions
Making sure you have a good board description is important too as it’s something Google looks for when looking for relevant boards.  Think of it like a meta description – a short sentence talking about what fellow pinners can expect to see on that board.

Follow some ‘big pinners’
It’s always good to surround yourself by people more successful than you (same goes for real life), if you follow a couple of super-pinners (people with around a million followers) you’ll see trends as they happen.

Refresh your board cover images
Much like changing your profile pic, don't forget to refresh the images you have on your Pinterest boards to keep it looking well loved.

Mix up your boards
Much like refreshing the cover image on your boards, also move the boards around. Put the ones at the top that are your most popular, or that you want to give more focus to.

It’s also worth bearing in mind, this doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a while to gain momentum and for Pinterest to see that your pins are proving to be popular – the more popular they are, the more people will see them :)
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The emotions of moving home

Squidge giving Upsy Daisy a kiss

If you saw my post from the other day you'll know we're going through the process of moving house at the moment.

On Sunday, I was sat on the sofa with Squidge cuddled up to me, we were watching some Studio Ghibli, and I started thinking about this house, the one we've been living in for the last 11 years, and just how much I'll miss it, and that's when I started crying and found it hard to stop.

To most people, this is just a starter home, somewhere to begin climbing the ladder. But to me, this has been our home and a big part of our lives for 11 years.  That's the longest I've ever lived anywhere. In that time, we've mourned (1 parent, 1 brother, 3 grandparents, 2 aunties and 1 uncle), we got engaged on the decking, we got married, we've had a baby and become a family of 3, we've thrown a gazillion parties and nursed a gazillion hangovers. And when we move, we're leaving all that behind.

This house will always be the last place I ever saw my brother. Where he turned up by shouting through the letterbox, scaring the life out of my hubby. The house where my mum saw me settle down before she passed away, and the house we brought our little baby home to.

I'm really looking forward to the new chapter of our lives, and we'll make plenty of great new memories there too, but emotionally, I'm finding it really hard to let go of this house, because of so many strong emotional ties to it. 

Have you ever found it really hard to move home?
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Monday, 23 May 2016

Toddler diaries | Our current routine

Happy Squidge with an orange sippy cup

Back when I used to write Mummy-Pixi3 I'd write posts about our routine, and it's been ages since I've written a post like that, so thought I'd update it now he's 19 months old and share what our current routine is like, both when we're working and at weekends.

Working days

I work Monday-Thursday, both the hubby and I get in early, me for 7:30 and hubby for 8am, so our day starts off pretty early.

6:30 am - First alarm goes off - recently, Squidge will also shout about now to get out of his cot
7:00 am - Leave the house (I'd be kidding if I said we didn't snooze the alarms several times between these two times)
7:15 am - Drop Squidge off at his Grandparents for the day
7:35 am - Get dropped at work - we aim for 7:30, but 7:35 seems to be more typical at the moment
4:05 pm - Leave work, get the bus to Squidge's grandparents
5:30 pm - Get home after hubby picking us up from his parents
6:30 pm - Dinner all around the table
7:00 pm - Squidge goes to bed. He has an 8oz bottle of warm milk, cuddles and then sleep, he takes about an hour to go to sleep, sometimes less

Fridays & weekends

Friday's can be slightly different as it's just Squidge and I, whereas we have hubby home for the weekends too, so we'll often try and take Squidge somewhere like a National Trust place or the beach.

7:30 am - We get up about now, Squidge usually sleeps in a bit later on a Friday as hubby's alarm goes off a little later as he can drive straight to work from home (no dropping us off)
8:00 am - Breakfast - this is usually a scrambled egg for Squidge, and porridge for me (which we share)
8:30 am - 10:30 am - Play time! Often we'll have a play date with a local mummy who lives just a couple streets away. We'll play with stickers and maybe watch one of Squidge's favourite films (My Neighbour Totoro etc)
10:30 am - Snack time! Quick snack like weak squash and some cheese crackers, or a piece of fruit
11:00 am - Nap time. He often fights this, but after maybe 15 mins he'll crash and sleep for about 1-2 hrs
1:30 pm - Lunch - we'll have something like pesto pasta and some poached fish, or grilled chicken
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm - Play time! We'll most likely play with Playdoh, his toys, and if the weather is ok, we'll go and play in the garden.
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm - Dinner time! This is a slightly smaller meal as he tends to eat more at lunch, so maybe some sausage, fruit and a bit of bread, maybe more fish (he loves fish!)
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm - Play time! Again, we might watch a film or some of a film, or Postman Pat :)
6:30 pm - Dinner time for all of us, Squidge doesn't usually eat much this feed which is fine, it's more about us all eating dinner together
7:00 pm - Bed time, 8oz of milk, cuddles and sleep :) 

You'll notice bath time is missing, this is because we only bath Squidge once a week which is on a Sunday. We find that his baby eczema breaks out if we bath him more often than that, so we have to be really careful and save those extra occasions for when he's really mucky or has been sick etc.

So that's our rough routine at the moment, lots and lots of play :) Weekends also have trips to the shops (Saturday morning) to do the weekly food shop (farm shop for the meat, and usually Sainsburys for the other bits and bobs).

What's your routine like?
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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Moving houses...

Our old home
Our house is the one right in the middle

Oh my gosh, moving houses is so stressful.  I don't just mean packing up our stuff an moving, but selling our current house and buying another one, which is also in a chain.

We've had such a nightmare with the house we're buying. We've been dealing with some difficult people and to be fair, if we didn't love the house as much as we do, we'd have walked away a long time ago.  But we do love the house, and we're so excited about moving in, I just wish we were there already.

Our current home is a 2-bed terraced new build in a really nice area. Because it's nice (low-crime etc) everything is cheap, like the car insurance, home insurance etc.  But the house we're moving to is a much nicer house (3-bed Victorian house) but the area isn't quite as nice, so car insurance is triple the cost and I don't even want to know how much the home insurance is going to be!

It's taken 3 months to get to the point where we can exchange contracts and to be fair, we've been ready to move in to the next house for about 6 weeks. But in that time we've been constantly waiting for this and that.  However, tomorrow we're due to exchange contracts, and move into the new place on Friday (27th May).  If I remember, I'll try and run around the house and take photo's of the rooms before we've filled them with a gazillion boxes and do a blog post on each room's transformation - both empty, then with our current stuff, and then how we change them to be.

I'm so happy to be able to bring you on the journey with us, I just wish I'd blogged about the process sooner!
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