All About Belonging with Picking Up Toys

All about belonging is a blogger guest series – you guessed it – all about belonging. I have invited other bloggers to share their stories, thoughts, opinions, and ideas to do with the theme belonging here on Kate Lili Blog. I hope this guest series showcases the variety of views on belonging, and the many ways having or not having felt a sense of belonging has affected people’s individual life experience. Each new guest post will go out on Wednesdays at 6pm so stay tuned.
I’m chuffed to welcome Julie to my blog to share her thoughts on belonging. Julie is mum to 3 children, one teenager, one 9 year old and one 6 year old so she has a breadth of experience. Oh and she also works full time while blogging too. So an all round super star in my book! Julie is one of the few people I’d count as a blogger friend so I’m really pleased to share her guest post about belonging.

Julie – Picking Up Toys

Have you always felt that you belonged? Always just slotted in somewhere and bumped along nicely or do you always end up feeling like the piece of a jigsaw that got kicked under a table by mistake? You were important for a while but quickly forgotten and moved on from. If you’d just been found and the dust blown off you might have slotted in and made a huge difference.

Work Friends

When I was younger I always felt I belonged. I was shy and quiet but never really had any trouble making or keeping friends, in the street, at school or even Brownies. I kept the same group of friends throughout my school years but once school ended those friendships sadly drifted apart. People moved away, moved on and remember those years with fondness.
I started working and forged new friendships easily, I worked in a bar where everyone grouped together, went around to each other’s houses and there was always someone to have a night out with, I even shared a house with my best mate. We had our struggles but mostly we loved it. I met people from all sorts of backgrounds and liked lots of different things about them. We all had different music tastes, different views on life and different families but we just accepted everyone for who they were.
Then I moved onto a call centre where again I had an abundance of friends / colleagues and people I could share a cigarette and a gossip with. Those friendships were just as easy to fall into. Sat next to the same group of people it was normal to spark up a conversation over a love of cake or a mutual eye roll over a particularly tricky customer. Nights out were often planned for all to get involved and the friendships at work spilled into ‘real life’.

Lost Confidence

Fast forward 10 years and I’m in a completely different situation altogether. I don’t really feel like I belong at all. At home, of course I belong, to my kids, my partner and immediate family I’m hugely important but outside of that I don’t have a huge circle of friends. Actually I don’t even have what you’d call a small circle of friends. As most of the friends I’ve had in the past have come from work I really struggle with being only 1 of 2 people that work where I do.
The longer it’s gone on the more I now struggle to make friends, I’ve completely lost my confidence.  I can’t just walk up to strangers and start chatting it makes me really nervous and like I’ll say the wrong thing so I tend to be the one that everyone talks ‘around’. Whenever I go to work meetings and see people I more or less see only once a year, we do the cursory “hi, how are you?” and that’s about it. Maybe they think I’m arrogant and up myself? Maybe they just think I’m rude but rarely will anybody make an attempt to coax me over to their ‘clique’. I’m often the one pretending to look for something in the bottom of my handbag because I have no clue what else to do with myself.

Adult Friendships

I don’t know where to begin to change it though. How do you start to belong again? Where do you search for an elusive group to belong to, that accept you for who you are? It’s so much more difficult as an adult to try and make friends. You can’t just admire someone’s hula hoop and ask if you can play, that would just be too weird, so how do you do it? I am the first to encourage my children to get involved and talk to other kids, to make friends but how hypocritical am I being when I can barely do it myself?
I wouldn’t say I’m particularly unhappy but I would love to have a group of people I can belong to and call good friends. One day I’m sure it will happen again. Even if it’s just Doris, Lizzie, Pat and I giggling like idiots in the old folks home.

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You can read more on Julie’s blog called Picking Up Toys. I love this recent one I Survived Parenting A Teenage Boy

Pin it for later:

belonging pin

Comfortably Married Isn’t Always Boring

Something really sad just happened. Sad as in the middle-aged way of saying something is ‘not cool’. I had waited for Rich to get home from work to go and fill up the car and go through the car wash (baby doesn’t like the car wash). When he got home we were deciding who should mow the lawn. I said ‘I’ll be all hot and sticky for my date with the car wash’ ‘Your date with Carlos?’ Rich replied ‘I wish!’ I said and we both laughed. The sad bit is, we both laughed.

From sharing a joke about casual infidelity to conversations about mowing the lawn, we couldn’t get any more comfortably married. He does the bins, I do my daughter’s hair for school. We are the average stereotypical married couple, and there’s no escaping it.

The Romance is Dead

What does that mean? Basically when you’ve been married for 10 years, you kind of get used to each other. If that sounds really boring, it’s because it is, for the majority of the time. The romance is officially dead. The Valentine’s day candle lit dinners and public declarations of love are at least. But I never counted that as romance anyway. It’s easy to adorn someone new with praise and admiration. If Rich confessed his undying love for me on Facebook I’d comment asking why he didn’t say it to my face.


The thing about long time stereotypical marriage, is that although it can be boring, when it rocks it rocks big time. Nothing comes close to the feeling of someone knowing you so well. Someone who loves you enough to take care of things when you’re sick or who gets as excited as you about your personal goals. It’s the in jokes shared between just us two, the history, the shared stories, the knowing each other inside and out and the anticipation of the years ahead to continue getting to know each other. I would never trade all that for the initial lust of the beginning.

Beware of the Receptionists

I don’t really bang on about how great marriage is because I know people don’t want to hear it. It’s not cool or ‘in’ and people assume I’m promoting one way of life over another. That’s not what I’m saying here at all. Also, I feel like it could be thrown in my face at any minute. What if when the kids leave home we don’t have anything to talk about? Or he decides his receptionist is sexy and I end up on the singles market aged 50? I can’t say that’s never going to happen but I can enjoy the now. The the security of the banal texts saying ‘please put my wash on spin’ and sending photo messages of our kids being cute together because he’s the only other person in the world who cares about them as much as me. Close friends know it’s not always perfect, and it’s highly probably there will be more to face in the future. But I feel like God is saying to me ‘ENJOY’! Enjoy where you are, right now. Enjoy the familiarity, the security, the shared dark humour. Enjoy it for what it is today, not for what might be tomorrow.


There’s a bit about being comfortably married in ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ which I chose as a reading for our wedding. I had read this book not long before we got married and was quite taken with it. The extract is a part of the book where Pelagia’s father is talking to her about love. These are her father’s words of wisdom to her on the subject.

‘Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.  And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and, when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.’

Louis de Bernieres

If you liked this one, you’ll love this one about our kind-of-awkward date night.

Date Night


All About Weaning

*I received products to review for this post*

Weaning both my babies was not a task I relished. While it is an exciting milestone I found it quite a difficult period of transition. Some mums absolutely love when their baby starts solid food, other mums like me approach it with trepidation. Whichever camp you fall into it’s national weaning week here in the U.K. (7th-13th May) so let’s talk all about weaning.

With my first baby I went straight for baby led weaning. I got the book and read it and re-read it in preparation. It seemed like an easy option to me and felt like quite a natural way to do things. I thought it would be a good way for her to be able to follow her own preferences by just grabbing what got her attention. In reality it just so happened my first baby had a slight problem swallowing things. I distinctly remember her silently choking on a spear of asparagus and it shooting out from the back of her throat. A very scary moment. We started on the day she turned 6 months old and to be honest she wasn’t interested at all but I had been anxious about starting weaning and so persevered. I started her on butternut squash purée and then let her grab the odd thing off my plate too. After the asparagus incident I began to batch cook purée and freeze it in ice cube trays but she just wasn’t interested in eating any of it. When I switched to jars of baby food she was quite happy. And so that’s what we did but to be honest I felt like such a bad mum at the time.

By the time my second baby got to the age to begin weaning he had been through such a lot (NICU baby, silent reflux) that I couldn’t have cared less what other people thought of my choices when it came to weaning! I don’t think it even crossed my mind. I knew he was getting all he needed through my breast-milk and food was just exploratory.


Happy with his plum


Not so happy with blood orange


Not sure – looks like curried chicken?


In a nutshell, I was a lot more confident second time around, however, now we were dealing with a dairy allergy. His doctor had actually advised early weaning which I didn’t feel too comfortable about. I had read a little bit about how the lining of the gut develops on my first baby and I wasn’t sure about introducing food early. He had come through a lot and surprised me so many times that I decided to follow his lead on it. So, a little under 6 months old (I think he was 18 weeks old) the first food he ate was a plum. I was eating one and he looked interested so I gave it to him and he loved it! As I mentioned earlier, I was not thinking about other people’s ideas on how to care for my baby this time around.

Thankfully unlike my first, he had absolutely no trouble swallowing at all and whereas she would gag and almost choke at nearly every meal right up until about one I can’t recall one instance of my son choking on his food. Which was a relief. So with him I did a mixture of baby led weaning and shop bought pouches and home cooked purees. I just didn’t pressure myself so much about it. In fact, during weaning I once forgot to offer him any food at all for a day and a half when we had family visiting! Haha, you’re getting all my secrets in this post! It was a busy weekend and I just forgot. He wolfed a pouch when I remembered – and he was still breastfed so he was getting what he needed.

I thought weaning only described getting baby transitioned onto solid foods but actually weaning is a long process. Once they’re happily eating food it’s all about introducing new flavours and textures. I personally found the Cow and Gate website really good. It just lays all the info out in a really easy to understand way.

My baby is two now so I always make sure there is a snack in my nappy bag wherever we go. Anything quick and in a bright packet is enough to keep him ticking over until our next meal. He currently loves Organix goodies bars. He had one on the plane on the way back from Spain and he really enjoyed it. They’re like oat bars and they come in different flavours including chocolate and raisin if you have a little chocolate fiend like I have. I love the Organix stuff because they have a ‘no junk promise’ so I don’t even have to think about it, I know they are full of great organic ingredients that are going to benefit him.

Organix peapuffs

Organix kindly sent me some samples of their pea puffs which are recommended for 6 months+ to try and some cheese baby biscuits for 10months+. He is also living for the Organix carrot stix which are 12 months+. They are messy but he loves them! The carrot stix and pea puffs are both dairy free too which is great news for us dairy free mammas.