#ParentsAtWork: Ana – from Japanese Lecturer to Digital Mum

Name: Ana*
Age: 31
Family life: Wife to Nic* and mother to two year old son, Michael*
Work life: Junior Lecturer turned Freelance Social Media Manager and business owner

Before she was a mum, Ana* was a Junior Lecturer in Japanese, Romanian and English at two Universities. She also tutored privately, was a freelance translator and co-founded a business start-up. She enjoyed a flexible, diverse but extremely busy work life.

In February 2013, Ana and her husband, Nic*, moved from Romania to the UK. They had always loved to travel so when Nic was offered a transfer, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

Visa restrictions meant immigrants required sponsorship to work. So Ana planned to take a short career break while they got settled then start job hunting that Summer. They would save for a year or two then travel the world for a year before starting their family.

That was the plan…

Just months after moving to London, Ana and Nic fell pregnant unexpectedly.

“It’s difficult enough to retrain at 30 and take your career in a whole new direction. Throw into the mix being pregnant and the fact I would need time off shortly after starting a new role to have her child… My options were increasingly limited.”

To put it bluntly, no one wants to hire the pregnant chick.

As her first year in the UK progressed, Ana was increasingly bored. She read books and she cooked a lot, but she missed the stimulation. Without the obvious ‘water-cooler-chat’ opportunities at work, Ana found it difficult to meet people. She was yet to make any friends in the UK and being pregnant only sharpened the loneliness.
In March 2014, one year after they had moved to the UK, Michael* was born. When Nic returned to work after paternity leave and Ana emerged from those first few foggy weeks of motherhood, she knew she had to break the isolation.

She met Sylvia* an NCT coffee morning. They hit it off right away. (And a year later would start a business together.) And gradually, through various baby classes and walks in the park, Ana found her tribe.

But Ana was unable to ‘switch off’ completely during her career break / unofficial maternity leave. She wrote a children’s book about accepting each other’s differences and started working with Phundee.com to raise the money to publish it. Her aim is to provide the book for free to children’s centres and libraries across the UK.

But around Michael’s first birthday (March, 2015) Ana’s mind turned to her career once again. As some of her friends returned to work, it felt strange she didn’t have a job to return to. But the questions from a year before still lingered – what would she do?

The first step to Ana’s new career came from Sylvia. She was launching a Food Assembly franchise and needed a partner. Ana started a Facebook page and began to grow their following.

Shortly after, Ana started volunteering at her local NCT branch, managing their Facebook and Twitter accounts. She fit the work into evenings and naptimes, working from her phone, her laptop – whatever she had to hand.

In the May, she read about Digital Mums; a unique six-month training course for parents to become social media managers, offering flexible hours and on-the-job training. Digital Mums said the course required just ten hours a week. That seemed manageable. (NB: this is the advanced course, there’s a 12-week course for social media novices as well.)

Ana thrived on the challenge and loved being busy again, “but it was full on and I never expected it to be so hard looking after Michael full time and trying to stay on top of the workload”.

Ana’s mum would fly over once a month from Romania to help with Michael to give Ana a few hours here or there to get her coursework done. Nic was also incredibly supportive and helping out wherever he could, lending emotional as well as practical support.

“I wanted to quit twice. I felt completely overwhelmed. Being a mum had already taken over my life and the course stole the very few hours I had left each day for myself. I couldn’t just relax and watch a movie after Michael had gone to bed or hang out with Nic. Every spare minute went towards the course or running the Food Assembly.”

As parents themselves, Digital Mums HQ were very understanding. Each intake is divided into groups of five, providing a support network of classmates all in the same boat. “Everyone was feeling the pressure and Kathryn [one of the founders] and my course tutor were very encouraging saying, “just keep going day by day, you can do it”.

Now she’s graduated the support continues with a LinkedIn Alumni group, Alumni Twitter chats, career support and more. And Ana is, quite rightly, immensely proud of what she’s achieved.

While Digital Mums opened numerous doors for Ana, she was frustrated by the industry and employers’ expectations. Part-time hours are hard to come by and many don’t offer fair rates of pay.

“Employers who don’t have children, often don’t sympathise with the demands parents face. In one interview, advertised as ‘flexible hours’ I was told that by asking for part-time hours I was asking for ‘too much’.”

Ana even applied for some internships requiring ‘extensive experience’, but was shocked to find only her travel expenses would be covered.

Four months after graduating, however, Ana now manages the social media profiles for a family-focussed online start-up and Michael has settled into his new nursery two days a week.

But it seems some habits die-hard and just as before, Ana’s work life is once again diverse, busy and far from 9-5.

She now manages the Food Assembly branch single-handedly (Sylvia took a step back after returning to work in late 2015). In November, she was made NCT Tower Hamlets Chair, and is working on a business analysis project with a local economic trust. She’s also hosted social media training workshops for fellow Phundee artists.

Oh, and crowdfunding for her book will start shortly.

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For more information about some of the businesses and opportunities mentioned in this interview, follow the links below;

Digital Mums – providing online training and flexible jobs for mums
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn

Phundee.com – providing social crowdfunding for aspiring artists in the UK.
Facebook, Twitter

Love Them The Same
Facebook, Twitter (Phundee page coming soon)

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ANY NAME OR BUSINESS MARKED WITH A * HAS BEEN CHANGED FOR PRIVACY REASONS.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR PARENTS AT WORK STORY, PLEASE CONTACT FINDING OUR FEET’S OWNER AND EDITOR AMIE CAITLIN VIA THE FINDING OUR FEET FACEBOOK PAGE, TWITTER OR EMAIL.
ALL INTERVIEWS ARE ANONYMOUS FOR BOTH YOU AND EMPLOYERS OR COMPANIES MENTIONED DURING THE INTERVIEW (UNLESS YOU STATE OTHERWISE). THE AIM OF THE GAME IS NOT TO NAME AND SHAME BUT TO RAISE AWARENESS OF THE ISSUES AND TRY TO CHANGE PERCEPTION OF PARENTS AS SECOND-CLASS WORKING CITIZENS.

“Hello Sunshine!”

While everyone else rejoices about the increased evening beer garden time, parents nationwide curl into a ball in the corner of their child’s bedroom an rock slowly back and forth as little Clive, Mildrid and Mabel run around the landing screaming, “it’s still sunnyyyyyy!”.

It can only mean one thing. The clocks went forward this week. And the little sleeping star that appears on Little Miss’ clock at bedtime isn’t fooling her one bit…

  

Conversations with Little Miss {The Wonderful Ordinary 17}

Last Sunday, we saw my Dad and H (Dampa [Grandpa] and Nana).

They gave Little Miss a little lactose free Easter treat. (Being lactose intolerant, she’s never tried chocolate before. But she knew it was something she should like. So she persevered through a single, tiny dark chocolate bunny but winced at its bitterness with every bite and lick. #MiddleClassToddlerProblems, am I right?) 

They also gave her a little card…

Mama: Do you like your chick?
LM: No.
Mama: Oh… You don’t like your chick?
LM: It’s rabbit.
Mama: No, the chick is wearing rabbit ears… Like a hat…
LM: No. Rabbit.
Mama: Ok… Do you like your rabbit?
LM: Yes. My chick.

Sometimes, I just can’t help but think she’s f*cking with me.

Happy Easter!

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts. 

Awards Season is here again…

Last year, I was shortlisted in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards’ 2015 Family Category (under my old identity, Bump, Baby & Me). I was in a reception area waiting for an interview when my phone buzzed a little more persistently than usual – people kindly congratulating me on being shortlisted. I was so overcome with shock/excitment/joy/[enter extreme emotion here] I yelped and teared up. The receptionist actually came over to check I was ok. (Probably not the best first impression!)

I was utterly flabbergasted. I’d been blogging just two weeks too long to enter the ‘Fresh Voice’ category and so had thrown my hat into the ring with the big boys in the Family Category, never expecting I actually stand a chance.

Of course, I didn’t make it to the finals – my blog was extremely unpolished, tiny and relatively unknown in comparison to the others running. I was a bit of an underdog really. But to be shortlisted alone was a massive achievement for me and gave me confidence in my blogging ability.

Since then, I’ve taken a three month sabbatical from blogging last summer and come back with a new lease of life and a more focussed idea of what I want from my blog and what I want it to be about. I rebranded and relaunched last September and haven’t looked back since.

I hope you’ll agree that the quality of my content has improved with this renewed focus and our photography is going from strength to strength. The Other Half has even been persuaded to get a bit more involved since we became Finding Our Feet, showcasing more of his beautiful photography and writing a guest post to mark Little Miss’ second birthday (and *spoiler alert* look out for his homemade pizza recipe coming soon!).

Well, it’s that time of year again. And so, as much as I dislike this aspect of the awards, here I am asking for your nomination once again.

I’m still rather an underdog when it comes to these awards. My readership is still relatively small in the grand scheme of things and my social following is small but perfectly formed. I still get a bit giddy when someone comments on a blog post or likes a photo on my Instagram feed.

I am, however, extremely proud of Finding Our Feet. (Shamefully) I put almost as much sweat, tears and effort into writing and maintaining this little site as I do raising Little Miss! (The laundry and cleaning often the last on my to do list, much to the OH’s dismay!)

The aim of this here blog is to celebrate family life as our 21st century family muddles our way through – you can read more about who we are, Finding Our Feet’s origins and aim here. Whether that’s sharing the our triumphant moments, the reality of parenthood or simply sharing our little cherished moments.

So, ladies and gents, friends, family, fellow bloggers and total strangers who read my blog; if you enjoy my writing please take just a minute of your time to nominate Finding Our Feet in the following categories in either the BiBs and/or the MADs. Keep in mind you can only fill in the form onceSo make sure you get the details right (please!).

#BiBs2016 Family Category [click here to nominate or click here on a mobile or tablet]
Nominations close April 13th at midnight GMT.

The information you need is:

Blog Name: Finding Our Feet

Blog URL: http://www.findingourfeet.co.uk

Blogger’s Twitter ID: @findingourfeet

Blogger’s email: amiecaitlin@icloud.com

Why do you feel this blogger deserves to win? [insert your own answer]

URL of your favourite post on the blog [choose your favourite]

#MADs2016 Preschoolers Category [click here to nominate]
Nominations close April 8th at 5:30pm GMT.

All you need is my URL: http://findingourfeet.co.uk

Not convinced?
There’s a ‘Best of‘ section or you can view my various writing projects and ongoing photography projects via the navigation bar above. But a few key posts that may be of interest include:

Eskimo Kisses (those little cherished moments)

Speed-Mumming (the realities of parenthood)

“Weyees!!” (family photography / cherished moments)

Poo in the Bath. Again. (the realities of parenthood)

Twirling in Posh Frocks (family photography)

The Unemployed Mum (personal writing and sharing my story)

Silhouette Portrait Project 4.0 (family photography)

I’m also extremely proud of my #ParentsAtWork series which recently launched (the first interview will be live on April 1st).

You can find more of Finding Our Feet on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Pinterest. I also write for MeetOtherMums.com, was recently wrote for Mumsnet and I am acting editor of Tower Hamlets NCT Magazine.

And finally; I am a regular panelist on new parenting podcast, Meet The Parents Podcast. We are also entering the awards, so when you fill in the form, if you’ve had a listen and like what you hear, please consider Meet the Parents Podcast for Fresh Voice (BiBs) and Best New Blog (MADs).

Thank you so, so much if you take the time to fill in the form. And even if you don’t, but you read the blog, I’m still extremely grateful. To know that my writing is of interest to you or my photography brings a smile to your face is a wonderful and humbling feeling. Thank you.

NB: the nominations and awards are now closed. Thank you if you nominated me and very best of luck to all the finalists!

photo of toddler flower girl dress fitting at Nicki Macfarlane

Twirling in posh frocks

My dad is getting remarried in June to H, his partner (are they too old to be boyfriend and girlfriend at 48 and 51? – yes, we’re rather a young family, I know) of ten years.

Truthfully, I’d given up on the idea he was ever going to ask her (I think she had too!) but last year, on a beach under the stars in the Caribean celebrating his 50th, he finally produced a ring and popped the question.

Fast forward to 2016 and it’s all system-are-go to get this wedding off the ground. As ever, they’re a little last minute. But knowing my Dad’s luck and H’s project management skills, it’ll all go off without so much as a breath of a hiccup – despite them living between Britain and Azerbaijan for the past year and organising a wedding in Rome. They do so enjoy the simple life…

Little Miss and a family friend’s daughter – we’ll call her Bubble (age eight) as thanks to adorable toddler pronunciation, this is what Little Miss called her – have been selected for the all important job of flower girls.

SONY DSCWe were summoned to Nicki Macfarlane’s little Chelsea shop on a chilly Saturday in early March. H, not surprisingly, was running late, leaving the girls with their noses pressed up against the glass ooh-ing and ah-ing over the beautiful dresses through the window.

They really are fairytale dresses with billowing skirts, sash bows and chiffon frills. Even Little Miss recognised them as “Princess dress!” and one frothy the blue number as “Elsa dress!” (so help me God!).

Once the bride-to-be arrived, we were let through the doors and led downstairs to the fitting area. It was quite a fast paced fitting and it was straight on with the dresses. Little Miss’ eyes lit up and she instantly started twirling in delight. And she pretty much didn’t stop until the fitting was over an hour later. She was utterly enchanted.

Bubble was slightly more reserved in her admiration, but was all smiles as she tried on different dresses in different sizes and shades of pink. She too couldn’t help but give us a little twirl.

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Little Miss was just as taken with Bubble as she was with the dresses. When Bubble stood still to be measured, so did Little Miss. When Bubble hugged her Mama, I got a hug too. And when Bubble tried on shoes, Little Miss’ eyes darted around looking for her pair.

Bubble was very clear from the off: she was having shoes with a heal. H persuaded her stilettos might not be quite the look we were going for and instead placated her with a very low block heal.

Meanwhile, Little Miss took rather a liking to a gold sparkly pair, which weren’t entirely in keeping with H’s minimalist taste… We managed to persuade Little Miss the cream satin with a hint of sparkle on the buckle was a better look.

Of course, after the initial fuss to get her to try the cream rather than the gold, she then cried when she had to take them off. It seems she’s a girl after my own heart!

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To top it all off, there was also a ride on the rocking zebra to finish. (A snip at only £5,100 if you’re so inclined…)

All in all, it was a brilliant morning. The girls in the shop were lovely and extremely patient with Little Miss in particular who can be somewhat of a law unto herself, it has to be said – especially where clothes are concerned! (See my post about our Little Fashionista for further proof.)

Nana H was keen on a flowery wreath for the girls’ heads. Bubble looked lovely. Little Miss just looked unimpressed and whipped it off in a nano second. I suggested maybe a small flowery hair clip would work better for a toddler who will no doubt be tearing round and have grass stains all over her beautiful frock by the end of the ceremony.

Let’s just hope Little Miss doesn’t take after me in her execution of bridesmaid duties and tear the bride’s dress as they walk up the aisle… but that’s a whole different story for another time…

Keep an eye on our Instagram and the blog come June for more photos of the girls in their beautiful dresses, no doubt twirling in the Roman sun.

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See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.

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FINDING OUR FEET IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH OR SPONSORED BY NICKI MACFARLANE. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN. 170x30bwi
photo of whitstable beach huts

Whitstable: family friendly foodie heaven

In the bottom right hand corner of the UK is the beautiful little town of Whitstable;  nestled on the Kent coast, waves lapping its shores and more oysters than you can shake a stick at (if that is indeed what you wish to do with oysters – but I’d recommend just eating them).

Unlike most sensible folk, we decided to explore Whitstable in the depths of windy, rainy, rather chilly November. The perfect time to visit any seaside town…

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Initiation complete: freezing on the beach with fish & chips.

It was to be Little Miss’ (then 20 months old) first time ever seeing a beach. We were incredibly excited to introduce her to the game Tidal Chicken (a staple from my childhood when visiting the Grandparents way up north in Sunderland), chish ‘n’ fips on a bench freezing to death by the sea (again, my bonkers Scouse mother to thank for that lovely tradition) and in my Other Half’s case, playing board games by cozy fires in pubs while the parents sip pints and the kids sip something suitably non-alcoholic. (Not going to lie, his childhood traditions seemed significantly less harsh than mine!)

Whitstable did not disappoint. We had a brilliant time and Little Miss fell in love with “the bitch” (rather unfortunate toddler pronunciation) at first sight.

Getting There:

A stone’s throw from London (only an hour via a direct train – HS1 from St Pancras or Stratford Int’l) or an hour’s drive from the M25 make it within easy reach of most South East families for a cheeky weekend away.

If you’re coming from further afield or wanted to stay for longer, Whitstable is also perfectly placed for exploring more of the Kent coast and countryside, only a 20 minute drive from historic Canterbury and the picturesque Kent Downs to name but a few.

Accommodation:

A popular holiday spot, there’s BnBs, hotels and holiday rentals by the bucket load in and around Whitstable but we opted for our first ever Airbnb experience. Safe to say we are now complete Airbnb converts and have already used it again since.

It was a ten minute walk to our cottage, the Belmont Retreat, from the station and a further ten minute walk from the cottage to the centre of town.

It was a warm and beautifully refurbished two-bedroom annex that had once upon a time been the kitchen and maid’s quarters to the large house. image 6-6There were bunk beds in bedroom 2 (with space for a travel cot though we had to take our own) decked out with everything you need for a self-catering weekend away, including carrot cake, eggs, bread and milk in the fridge on arrival. Our hosts kindly provided a highchair even though it wasn’t listed on the property details and there was wifi available too.

The cottage looks out onto a lovely garden (complete with sullen tabby cat, much to Little Miss’ joy as she sat watching him each morning from the window) but guests do not have access.

Our hosts were brilliant; so friendly and welcoming; they had thought of everything.

Where to eat:SONY DSC

Whitstable is renowned for it’s seafood and is a place of real foodie pilgrimage (ie, the Other Half’s heaven).

The famous haunt is Wheeler’s Oyster Bar, but unfortunately, they don’t have highchairs. We considered trying to time a visit with naptime, but booking is essential here at weekends and we thought it would be just our luck that Little Miss would refuse a nap and have a full on meltdown. So sadly, we gave Wheeler’s a miss.

However, top of our list, taking into consideration the food, price and how they were with families, were the following:

Samphire (££)
Incredibly friendly staff, delicious food (different lunch and evening meal menus) and perfect with toddlers and kids. They had highchairs, colouring pages and chalk boards and although they didn’t have a children’s menu, they were helpful in finding a solution for Little Miss, even finding out ingredients for us (she has allergies) without so much of a sigh. Highly recommended, especially for brunch.

Windy Corner Stores (£)
Brilliant in every way. Great coffee, endless options for breakfast and brunch, including a children’s menu with everything from jam on toast to homemade hummus with homemade bread. There’s also a toy box for them to raid and keep them amused and highchairs.

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Whitstable Oyster Company (££-£££)
If you’re looking for somewhere with white table clothes for a slightly more up market lunch, this is the one for you. Still incredibly family friendly with toys for kids, highchairs and patient, friendly staff; the food is delicious, fresh and worth every penny.

The Smack Inn (£)
This small, cosy pub (originally two fishing cottages in the 1800s) is slightly off the beaten track between the seafront and the high street. If you’re visiting during the Spring and Summer months, there’s a large beer garden out back, otherwise it’s a lovely, cosy bolt hole with a burning log fire, board games, cards, a toy box for younger ones to tip out onto the floor and local ales in which to hide from the 20mph winds and rain. The owners are lovely and welcoming, as is their chocolate Cocker Spaniel. Live music on Sundays.

The Forge (£-££)
The best fish and chips in Whitstable by far. Outdoor seating only, just off the seafront promenade – so wrap up warm if you’re there in the Winter but still definitely worth a visit. Highchairs are available and a variety of fish from battered cod and scampi to oysters. (Bacon butties are also available if you’ve got some fussy non-fish eaters in your tribe.) The Forge is open all day and also offers a take away service.

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Things to do:

SONY DSCWhitstable Castle
About a ten to fifteen minute walk north-east from the centre of Whitstable, the castle is a must. With beautiful gardens (with cement paths, great for kids with scooters) and an awesome pirate ship playground, it’s sure to be a winner. Complete with small café on site as well.

Tankerton Beach
Only a few minutes’ walk from the castle down a gentle sloping path, you’ll find the long stretch that is Tankerton Beach with brightly coloured beach huts, a small café, toilets & baby changing facilities.

Antique and Trinket Stores
As with mostly quaint little towns in Britain, there’s plenty of small gift shops, antique stores and children’s books and toys shops. You could easily while away an afternoon (children allowing) meandering up and down the streets, popping in and out of all the little shops.

We found there was plenty to do in Whitstable to fill the weekend. And let’s face it, with littles in tow, generally everything takes twice as long anyway and it’s best to plan half as much as you usually would. But just in case you are proud parents to the world’s best-behaved kids and you find yourselves twiddling your thumbs after a day, Canterbury, Herne Bay and Isle of Sheppey including the Elmley National Nature Reserve are near by.

Top Tips:

  1. If you have kids in a buggy, don’t forget your rain cover. It’s incredibly windy in Whitstable and even if it’s sunny, the rain cover helps shield little ones from the gusts – especially during blessed naptime.
  2. Bring a bike lock for the buggy so you can lock it up on the promenade while you toddle down to the tide. This is less about people stealing your buggy (we felt very safe in Whitstable) and more about the wind blowing it away!
  3. There’s a great sense of community amongst the locals, so don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything going on that weekend. For example, we ended up joining the locals on the beach for a Bonfire Night celebration rather than trekking to the big pubic bonfire about a fifteen, twenty minute drive away.

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

Find our reviews and recommendations for Whitstable with kids and other locations on Foursquare

Originally published on Mini Travellers

photo of toddler on her second birthday with donut and candles

The big ‘2’

So, Monday was the big ‘2’. We actually did a joint Mothers’ Day and Second Birthday celebration on Sunday so we weren’t rushing before work on Monday, could play with Little Miss with her new toys and enjoy the day together.

We had planned a birthday party for Little Miss, but long story short, we had to cancel it…

Instead, Little Miss is having rather an extended birthday celebration;  we saw my Dad and H on Saturday for a Flower Girl dress fitting (full post with adorable photos to follow asap – in the meantime, check out our Instagram) and birthday lunch; my mum on Sunday and we’re seeing my in-laws this coming weekend. Not to mention Odd Parents visiting the weekend after!

imageAfter the impromptu cafe in the park the other week and Little Miss’ recent love of money, we thought she’d like her own little cafe. But not only does our little house not have space for a toddler sized cafe, we couldn’t really justify nearly £200 on said toy. Instead, we opted for a Great Little Trading Co. tea trolley and coffee machine and my Dad and H got her felt food and a till to complete the set.

We set it all up on Saturday night for her to wake up to on Sunday morning. Complete with giant balloon. We’d been explaining in the lead up to the weekend that it was her birthday, that she would be turning two, etc, but I’m not 100% sure she really grasped the concept. But that didn’t stop her enjoying opening all the presents, blowing out the candles and singing “birthday birthday happy” to herself all day!

Usually, I pride myself on the birthday cakes I make loved ones each year. But as last week was my first week back at work, I forlornly accepted this might be pushing my ability and sanity this year so planned to buy something instead. However, Little Miss is lactose intolerant, making store bought cakes not quite so straight forward.

It turns out, that while our local Tesco Metro has a great gluten and wheat free from section, it’s rather lacking in dairy free. Cue panic!

So, we had homemade pancakes for breakfast on the Sunday (with candles, of course) and ended up with apple sauce donuts for tea after nursery on the Monday (again, with candles, of course), which according to the packet were diary free. Little Miss didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she seemed positively ecstatic that this sugary feast was actually for her and demolished the lot, licking her fingers gleefully!SONY DSC

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.

 

Silhouette Portrait 4.0:

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The Other Half continues to amaze me every time we shoot our annual Silhouette Portrait Project photos. I love these photos so much, I can’t thank him enough for capturing them so beautifully each year.

It’s rather convenient that Little Miss’ birthday falls so close to Mother’s Day this year, as it meant I could share these incredibly special photos on Mothers’ Day, which just seemed incredibly fitting.

This post is part of the Black & White Photography Project linky run by PODcast.

photo of toddler running a coffee shop pretend play

Guest Post: Daddy’s proudest moment of year 2

The Other Half usually shies away from the limelight on the blog, but he’s come out of hiding for his annual guest post to celebrate Little Miss’ birthday…

At the age of about twelve, fed up with the exorbitant prices of the school tuck shop, I decided to get into the Sugar Racket and start my own unofficial tuck shop.

– You might be thinking, but what does this have to do with Little Miss? We’ll get to that –

So I  got started:

  • I conducted market research (asking school mates what their favourite sugary snacks were)
  • Found a supplier (negotiated the use of cash & carry card from a family friend)
  • Defined my offer (planned the product list)
  • Set out my point of difference (calculated my retail price – deciding to take a margin hit so as to undercut the official shop)
  • Built my inventory (stocked up)
  • Found premises (rented two lockers next to each other in the common room)
  • Promoted my business (gave out free samples and even did a bit of viral marketing, using the internal school email system to promote my new business)

The shop was a big success. Business was good. And, more importantly, I made a lot of money – bringing home roughly £150 profit per week. I even took on staff who ran the shop for a nominal fee (it’s amazing what kids will do for a couple of free laces), which was useful when I was otherwise pre-occupied with work… or detention.

For one glorious week, the two Aussie exchange students who ran the then official shop went back home for a holiday and I was the only tuck shop in town. I had a monopoly… and I could charge what I wanted…

But as quickly as it had started, however, it all came tumbling down one lunch time.

On the Wednesday of that week – and with the boys of our school all feeling like addicts going into withdrawal – our common room was overrun with hordes of jittery Year 8s looking for a quick sugary fix. As I stood taking orders from the baying crowd and barking orders at my staff it suddenly went quiet.

The crowd parted and there stood my House Master. My days of being a Sugar Kingpin were over.

I managed to get a reduced detention sentence by offering to donate a portion of my turnover to the school charity and that was it, I was out of the Sugar Racket for good.

Anyway, all this leads me to say that one of my proudest moments of the last year came last weekend. We were in the park when Little Miss asked for Amie’s coffee cup. She ran into the jungle gym and popped up at the little window (which looks like a coffee shop counter) and without skipping a beat asked, “coffee?”. What made this moment even better was LM’s apparent penchant for business at not-quite-two.

So below I give you Little Miss’ Guide to Business:

1. Procure used coffee cup
2. Set up make-shift coffee shop in local playground
3. Entice punters (parents) by sweetly offering ‘coffee’ (which you know them to be dependent on)
4. Demand loose change as payment
5. Wait until imaginary coffee is imbibed, then reacquire coffee cup
6. Repeat steps 3-5 until until one parent has run out of money
7. Repeat whole process on other parent
8. When both parents are destitute – and need coins for parking – make them your slaves.

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See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.