Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

So 2013 is almost over and it is time for a summary post. 2013 was the year The Grumpy Egyptian and I decided enough was enough and made the difficult decision of the Mini Grumpy Egyptian and I to return to the UK without him. It wasn't an easy choice to make, but we made it for our daughter because being selfish was not an option now we have her. We miss him horribly, but know 2014 is the year our little family will be reunited and we can get on building our future.

2013 was the year we stayed in a dodgy roadside motel in Oman that looked as though it came out of a horror film, got turned away from the Dubai/Oman border TWICE and ended up eating burgers for 3 meals in a row as it was all we could find. We went shopping to buy what we thought were essentials for Bump as she was known then, but later discovered you don't really need 400 babygrows. I continued to suffer awful morning sickness and that combined with 5am wake up calls due to building works alongside our apartment, led to me crying in our landlord's office and swiftly moving to a better place 200m along from our old flat. I struggled to keep up with work as was heavily pregnant and very tired. Bump gave us a scare and got me admitted to hospital before jumping into our lives with an emergency c-sect a couple of days later.

We had a visit from my mum who arrived laden with infacol and oreo cookie brownies when the Mini Grumpy Egyptian was 3 weeks old. She keeps telling me about things I said or that we did, but I have very little memory of those early days as it all seemed to go in an exhaustive blur. We celebrated the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's first Christmas and she was thoroughly spoilt as princesses should be.

Resolution wise, 2014 will be the year I get my fitness on track and lose some weight. I have always put this as a resolution, but this year I am going to really get stuck in as I don't want to be that chubby parent at the school gates! It will also be the year I find the time to sit down and start writing the two books I have had in my mind for the past couple of years. One is a children's book and both are inspired by my time in the Middle East.

So here is to 2014. I hope you all manage to achieve everything you want to this year and don't be too hard on yourself if you don't. Here is to the next big adventure for my little family of three xx

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, I hope you are having a fantastic day. If things have gone to plan, I will have ploughed my way through at least one box of chocolates by now, the Mini Grumpy Egyptian will be in a ball pit playing with wrapping paper and dinner will be on the go.

I'm sure there will be a tear in my eye as we open presents because The Grumpy Egyptian won't be with us, but I will be taking lots of photos and videos for him. Much love to anyone else facing Christmas without a loved one.

Merry Christmas from The Egyptian Mummy and family x

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

First Christmas: Baby Gifts

Let's start this post with a little confession. I initially planned to keep things low key, cheap and cheerful for the Mini Grumpy Egyptian because at 7 months old she doesn't really know what's going on. I decided on a couple of books, teething toys and some new clothes. Well that was until I started hitting the shops!

Now all wrapped up and ready for Santa to pop under the tree is a ball pit, numerous books, clothes, 3+ teething toys, The Hungry Caterpillar money box, some baby cookies for her stocking and a couple of wooden/rocking toys. And that's just what I can remember off the top of my head! I know the family will be spoiling her rotten too, but I just couldn't resist!

I'm hoping a stairgate will appear from family members and I've tried to choose things that are functional rather than frivolous, but it is so hard given all the amazing stuff available. Though in my defence the ball pit was £4 in Tesco and the Mamas & Papas rocking cow was just £6 at a merely new sale and looks brand new!

What did you get for your little one's first Christmas? What will they be finding under the tree this year? Any cheesy outfits making their way onto your children? The Mini Grumpy Egyptian has been rocking the Christmas Tree tights shown above plus a sparkly tutu, Christmas pudding jumper and full-on Christmas dress for a couple of weeks now!


Monday, 16 December 2013

Shopping Local: Part One

Bunting by Noah's Ark & Crafts
One of the things I missed while living abroad was the ability to buy good quality, local items. Products would either falsely claim to be local, be of poor quality or really expensive. While things did begin to pick up a year or so before I left, I still loved the farmer's market, craft fairs and art shows that fill up Sundays in Winchester, Hampshire. As it is Christmas, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favourite local companies (plus a few from nearby counties) with you as you get a couple of last minute present ideas. Here's part one of my best picks.

Pitfield Winchester
This is a pop-up shop/cafe that needs to stay up! Located in The Brooks Centre, Winchester, this collaboration between a group of friends (a designer + the couple behind The Chesil Rectory), combines some of my favourite things - funky products for your home and cake by Little Bee Bakery! They really channel local products in the cafe and include a Hampshire Larder where you can buy locally made food items such as chocolate from the New Forest and tomato ketchup from the Isle of Wight.

Noah's Ark and Crafts
It is no secret that I love reading and since the birth of the Mini Grumpy Egyptian, I want to surround us with fantastic children's books. Not content with just having the books themselves, I came across this clever lady on Etsy who makes bunting out of the books themselves. Priced at just £8.50, which I think is a bargain, this beautiful paper bunting comes in a variety of themes including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Cat in The Hat, Guess How Much I Love You and The Gruffalo. It looks beautiful in real life and I can't wait to see the Oh The Places You'll Go bunting.

Hawthorn Leaf Necklace by Glover & Smith

Glover & Smith
Located in Wiltshire, I best know this company for their gorgeous nature-inspired jewellery that is made from lead free pewter and silver. I'm hoping a couple of items from their The Forest Floor collection end up under my tree! They can also be found at Winchester Christmas Market until December 22.

TRex necklace by DesignosaurYEAH
Josephine Chisholm - Artist
I LOVE this artist's work. While living in Oman, my family would buy her Winchester-themed Christmas cards for me and my parents bought my husband and I one of her paintings a couple of years ago. She doesn't just paint Winchester though and her new collection includes some designs inspired by her travels.

Ok so I might be pushing the local angle with this one as these guys are in Brighton, but I had to share this company with you that make dinosaur inspired jewellery from plexiglass and wood. I saw their designs at another pop-up shop in Winchester and am REALLY hoping Santa drops a T-Rex design in my stocking. These won't be for everyone, but I think they are pretty great!

What do you think of my top picks? Do you make an effort to find out interesting local designers and products? Will I be bumping into you in our matching dinosaur necklaces any time soon?

The Egyptian Mummy x

Note: I did not receive any payment or products in return for writing about these companies, I just like what they are doing and wanted to share it with you

Monday, 9 December 2013

Ten things I want to teach my daughter

I love Pinterest (search for Emma Abdulaal and seen as you're there why not follow) and while browsing earlier came across a board entitled "100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter". It got me thinking about all the things that I hope to teach the Mini Grumpy Egyptian in order to best prepare her for the big bad world. Here is my list of the Top Ten things I hope to teach my daughter.

  1. Don't try to be like everyone else. That would make for a boring life. It's much more fun to make your own way. Van Gogh said it best, "Normality is a paved road. It's comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it."
  2. No man is worth your tears and the one that is, won't make you cry. Or at least that is how the saying goes. I've always believed something slightly different in that love can be intense and intensity can make you cry. Don't be ashamed to cry. It doesn't mean you are weak.
  3. Never stop jumping in puddles, kicking fallen leaves, feeding the ducks, dipping your feet in the river, listening to music and walking barefoot on warm grass. A life without these things is a sad one.
  4. If things ever start to feel too much, never feel ashamed to ask for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of in admitting you can't do it alone.
  5. Fall in love with books and don't get stuck on one particular genre. Get acquainted with your local library and try new authors.
  6. "Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively" - Dalai Lama. Very true!
  7. What other people call impossible, you should call something that hasn't been done yet.
  8. Education can save you from almost any situation. Whether education for you is going to university or digging a well in Africa. Never stop learning or think you know enough.
  9. Every woman needs a chocolate drawer. Whether it's at work, at home, in the car or under the floorboards.
  10. When you're confused and nothing makes sense, there is one person whose wisdom is always right (aside from your mother!). "Today me will live in the moment. Unless it's unpleasant in which case me will eat a cookie." - The Cookie Monster

What do you think of my list? What would you include on yours?

Saturday, 7 December 2013

First Christmas: New Family Traditions

 Some rights reserved by ThomasSoerenes

I love Christmas and all the trimmings that go along with it. The food, the music, the TV Christmas specials, the students singing carols on the High Street, the tackier the better decorations, the ability to spend time with those you love and even the increasing waistband and permission to eat chocolate at 8am. This year we will be celebrating the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's first Christmas, but while I am excited to see her face when she sees her new toys, it is also going to be a bit sad because The Grumpy Egyptian won't be here with us. The ever-changing goalposts of the UK spouse visa has meant we won't get him here with us in time for turkey and carols. So it is up to me to make sure the family traditions we want to start are done well.

When The Grumpy Egyptian and I got our first tree together a number of years back, we decided to buy a new decoration every year - something we have decided to continue with the mini one. We also want to try and have one decoration a year added to our collection that has been made by the mini one (+ any future kids!). This year we are going to either make a small Christmas wreath using her fingerprints or some hanging footprints. I think these could be lovely to look back at one day. The odd Christmas tree card made using her footprints might also be cute.

Secondly, when it comes to presents I am a big fan of quality over quantity and would rather buy her things that have meaning/will last than a load of big plastic things she will get bored of quickly. We have decided that every year we will buy at least one lovely book for the mini one and write a little note inside of it. This present will come from Mummy and Daddy rather than Santa.

Next comes pyjamas. I adore a nice pair of pjs so will buy a new pair for the mini one, the big grumpy one and myself every Christmas. We haven't decided whether these should be dolled out on Christmas Eve to be worn that night or saved until Christmas Day.

I'm hoping that Christmas Day will (from next year) start with the 3 of us opening stockings in bed, followed by getting dressed and going downstairs to open the presents under the tree. Then breakfast while the grumpy one puts together (and swears a lot about) whatever new toy Santa delivered. My folks would then come round for Christmas lunch, more presents for the mini one and we all pass out in a food coma in front of the TV or argue over a board game - Monopoly is a dirty word in our house! Boxing Day would be round the parents so I hope they are prepared :p

Last year, while pregnant, I had awful flu on Christmas Day and ended up in hospital on Boxing Day so we didn't really get to have a proper Christmas Day. We'd planned to have a nice photo in front of our tree and eat Christmas dinner on the terrace (it was 23c that day if I remember right), but I felt so crappy that after struggling through making dinner, stretched out on the sofa and just slept. This year I want to take a snap of the mini one and I in front of the tree and either hold a photo of hubby or have him on video chat next to us. 

I am sad that this is our first Christmas as a family and we aren't together, but I know this distance between us won't be forever. And next year we can be arguing over where to put the decorations (don't tempt me!) and what embarrassing outfit I can dress the mini one in. What traditions do you have in your family? Are you celebrating your little one's first Christmas?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Top Ten Children's Books

I love reading. I cannot stress enough how important it is for children to not just read and be read to, but to enjoy it as well. When I've heard friends remark that their children don't like books, I can't help but feel that perhaps they just haven't found books that they like. When I was little, my mum used to take me to the library at the weekends and I would roam around the children's section, finding things that for one reason or another appealed to me. The end result is that a couple of decades later and prior to the birth of the Mini Grumpy Egyptian, I was thinking about the books from my childhood that I wanted to share with her.

Already the Mini One has a large collection of books and I try to sit down with her at least a couple of times a week to read with her. The aim is that we will start to introduce sitting down for a story as a part of her bedtime routine in the next couple of months.

With Christmas fast approaching (how did THAT happen by the way?) I thought it might be nice to share my top ten favourite children's books.

(Images: From top to bottom)

The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Can't You Sleep Little Bear? by Martin Waddell
The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch by Ronda and David Armitage
Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr Seuss
On The Way Home by Jill Murphy
The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr
We're Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy

What's your favourite children's books? Are their stories from your childhood that you hope to share with your children one day?