Wednesday, 29 December 2010

One is fun

The Goddess is a year old today.

Crikey. Where has time gone?

The past year has been pretty bonkers. Running around after three wee ones is no walk in the park and now I'm back at work, there's barely time to do anything.

Including blogging!

One thing that is for sure is The Goddess has greatly enriched all our lives. Her little face is enough to snap anyone out of a bad mood, and her character is becoming more apparent.

I'm betting she's going to be charming, with a good deal of fiesty mixed in for good measure.

Here's to more fun and frolics with the baby.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work I go.


It's been almost a year and the moment has finally arrived.

I'm back in the office tomorrow.

Time has just whooshed by.

When The Goddess arrived last December, I thought I would have plenty of time to chill out with the children, see more of my friends and generally breathe out a bit more.

Instead, it's been really hectic, hard work and despite some lows it's mainly been good.

So what joys will returning to work bring?

Talking to adults without being interrupted.

Using my remaining functioning brain cells.

Wearing clothes that won't be stained.

No more anoraks.

Being plain old Sharon and not so-and-so's mum.

The cosy routine of office life.

That means cake when it's someone's birthday, cake when it's not. Daft jokes with your mates, diet food (you're always on a diet when you work in an office) and discussions that genuinely involves deep thought, such as the merits of jeggings versus harem pants.

What will I miss about being at home?

Snuggles, cuddles and kisses at random times of the day.

Watching the children grow and change and really feeling involved in their lives.

Cbeebies. How else do you think I got the housework done?

Seeing my friends.

Obviously, there's a whole lot more but you get the gist. Any parent who works is generally between a rock and a hard place.

Yes, you get the luxury of going to the loo all by yourself, but you can also be missing out on seeing your child's first steps, or an assembly, or parents evening.

Affording childcare, and the logistics alone are enough to make you want to cry on a daily basis.

You need to help bring home the bacon and have a sense of freedom, but at what cost?

And I haven't even started on the guilt aspect.

But I'm being positive and seeing it as the next chapter in this funny old thing called life.

Gotta run now. Nails to paint and bags to organise. In that order.

Wish me luck.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Play hate confession

Don't get me wrong, I love my friends children.

But there is nothing like having a chum over for tea to create mayhem.

It started the moment we got out of the school gates.

'But I want to sit right at the back of the car,' moaned The Peaceful One.

'Well, I promised the girls that they could sit there today.' I explained.

Cue ear-piercing scream and a very red-faced child with angry tears streaming down his face, throwing himself around the car.

Then The Goddess woke up from her nap and cried so hard that her car seat started rocking.

Minxy and her pal then proceeded to poke fun at The Peaceful One for the duration of the very brief, yet stressful journey home.

In my head, I was thinking 'Here we go again.'

I was always under the impression that having a friend round was supposed to be fun.

The big deal for the guest is always to play in the other person's bedroom, eat food you don't have at home and leave having had a great time.

The reality is sometimes different.

In my experience, the guest is usually well-mannered, eats everything you give to them without complaint, and is generally easy street.

Whereas my kids have forgotten how to share, eat nicely and at some point there are tears.

Minxy often forgets she has a brother and ditches him like a hot potato. With that there is much door slamming and hastily made notes saying 'No boys a loud' (I ignore the spelling as she is only six), which is pretty tricky as they share a room.

He then comes protesting that he's being left out, I then try the 'let's include and not exclude' approach. That works for about five minutes until somebody comes running to me because they're upset.

It's pretty exhausting to be honest, but who am I to deny my children a social life?

I'm more than happy to do an activity with the guest (park, baking, making) but I like the fact that children can have a moment to themselves without the ever present adult watching over them.

To be fair, Minxy and her pal decided to try and write a story together, which was lovely, but we had a right ol' hoo ha along the way.

I'm going to try and have double play dates in the future, just to ease the 'integration issues', but I'm guessing I've got years of this to come.

What do you do to make play dates go smoothly?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Running for my life


Should I or shouldn't I?

What if I don't make it round?

What if I need the loo?

What if I twist my ankle and have to hobble to the finish line?

These were just some of the thoughts that were going through my head as I'm contemplated whether I should take part in the local 10k run that was for Cancer Research.

Clearly it was a no-brainer, but since I had slacked off the training during the summer holidays, the distance suddenly became a big deal.

The last run I had done was a week earlier and even then I was a struggling to motivate myself.

My legs were moving but I had chocolate on the brain.

It's not fun running on your tod, in the evening. Fact.

Anyway, the long and the short of it was that I did the race. Well, it was for charidee mate.

It was rainy, muddy, windy and cold - but I got myself together and one step at a time I ran for my life and made it round that wretched course (it was actually a lovely scenic course but not in those conditions).

It took little over an hour.

And I didn't walk.

And I felt amazing afterwards.

All the money goes to Cancer Research and I felt so marvellous that I got through it alive and well, I promptly signed up to The Moon Walk, which is wear you walk through the streets of London in your bra. At night.

Sounds highly dodgy, but don't worry it's in the name of breast cancer and as I'm doing it with a group of pals we should be laughing our way through it.

Who knew fundraising could be so much fun?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

I need a HERO



Everybody loves LEGO.

And it's very popular in our house.

Luckily we've just been kindly given some LEGO Hero Factory goodies.

Now this is really great stuff for your kids to get their teeth into.

The Peaceful One is almost four, but with a helping hand he had no problem fiddling away and completed his Breeze figure in a matter of time.

Breeze is green and mean. Then came the accompanying noises. 'Raaaah'

Then the 'Look what it can do mummy.' 'It can fly' Cue said Breeze was launched across the room.

'Mind the baby.' I cried.

Seems like Breeze is pretty keen too.

I'd say that was a success.

Next up was Meltdown.

No, that's the name of the other LEGO Hero Factory figure, silly.

Wow! I never realised you could personify a meltdown.

This time more work was needed for the building. In stepped The Boy. The Boy can make and fix pretty much anything. I on the other hand can not.

I still struggle with the figure of eight train track that we've had for years, but The Boy got stuck in and enthusiastically channelled his eight year old self.

Again, as if by magic a super hero style figure had been created and The Peaceful One and The Boy steamed around the house making funny noises and jumping on the sofa with their figures.

It was quite a sight to behold.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A MAD night had by all.



It's literally been quite a mad week.

Sleep has been rare as The Goddess has been poorly, but fun was still had.

I was a finalist for Best New Blog at the MAD awards which celebrated mum and dad bloggers.

It was the first award ceremony of its kind and it was a real laugh.

I travelled down to Bognor Regis (last visited when I was kid) with Heather Young from Young & Younger blog.

The super mum of twins was a fab companion and luckily far from boring. We did have a giggle.

Butlins sponsored the event, so off to the coast we went.

Well hasn't Butlins changed? The fusty image has been ditched and it has gone all modern. Or should that be all disco.

Disco lift anyone? Spotlights dazzled and Abba played as we went up and down.

There was a disco shower in the spa and disco lights in my room.

Woah, that's a lot of 70s going on.

Anyway, besides the lights and music there was the awards ceremony itself. I didn't win, but I didn't expect to. The winner of my category went to Slummy Single Mummy and well deserved too.

It was great to finally meet all those people who up until now have been virtual in my world, but ply a load of bloggers with some booze and way hey, the night was a success.

Luckily my bedroom partner, the lovely Snaffles Mummy didn't have to put up with any of my drunken antics because I ducked out of the karaoke and took advantage of a night without being woken by small people, and we chatted away with a cup of hot choc. Rock'n'roll folks, rock'n'roll.

Big thanks to Sally Whittle for organising the beast of the event. Here's too every success for the next awards.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Rosh Hashanah



Tonight marks the start of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish new year.

Every year we try to celebrate some of the Jewish festivals as a nod to The Boy's heritage.

The Boy is a secular Jew, but we figure that it's only fair that the kids have an idea of their background and what goes with it.

I'm mean, come on, Christian, Jewish, black, white - there's a lot going on here and we don't want them to feel lost in what amounts to be a rich heritage.

Of course, I focused on the on food and sweet things seems to be the order of the day (as a symbol of a sweet year head).

So it was chopped apples and honey for breakfast, and in the afternoon The Peaceful One and I made a delicious honey cake.

The Boy made yummy latkes, gefilte fish eaten with challah bread for supper.

As the years go by, I hope the children will be confident in who they are and where they belong.

Until they have a better understanding, we'll be literally given them a taste of where they come from.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

6 x 6 = 15

Six years.

Six whole years I've been meeting up regularly with my NCT friends.

That is a lot of tea and biscuits.

Doesn't sound that long, but they really have been a lifeline.

I say 'NCT friends' purely to distinguish how we met, but actually I need to stop saying that because now we're just a great bunch of mates.

There have been good times, sad times, and thankfully laughs aplenty.

Who would have thought that six couples sat in a room, filled with expectation, hope and a healthy dose of fear (regarding childbirth) would still be hanging out through thick and thin?

We've been lucky as our group has stayed together. No one has moved away, no one has fallen out, and only one person works full time and she's a teacher so we still see her in the holidays.

We're all from completely different backgrounds, but inspite of the fact that we met through our children, we just get on fabulously. End of story.

And my how we've grown. In a relatively short amount of time, we've produced fifteen children between us, with the newest arrivals being twins.

Wowzers!

Might not be great for the world population, but when we all met up over the weekend (to celebrate our kids being six years old), it really was ace to see a group of one time nervous first-time parents, all relaxed, chasing after the chiddlers and reflecting on our friendships.

All credit to the National Childbirth Trust as I have another group of lovely pals who I met through having my second child.

I didn't sign up again when expecting The Goddess, not only would I not have time to see a third group, but I almost don't want to jinx it - you can have too much of a good thing.

Do you still see your antenatal friends?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Back to School



So that was it.

Just shy of six weeks holiday, done and dusted.

I admit, at first I was dreading it.

Alone with three kids with just my imagination to fill the gaps between meals.

But as I got my head around the fact that we didn't have to rush anywhere, we got into the flow of things and had the summer has been lovely.

There have been moments I literally wanted to bottle. Den-building for hours, laughing at films, dancing competitions, day trips out. Simple and fun things that stick in your mind forever.

Asking Minxy what she enjoyed doing, she said: "Picking flowers from her bedroom window at grandma's house."

Ah, the joys of being six years old.

A long holiday to France helped massively, and with our batteries recharged, it was finally time to embark on The School Run.

I had almost forgotten how to get up and out the house before 11am, let alone be eating breakfast by 7am. Urgh!

A shiny new lunch box, new uniform and the anticipation surrounding Minxy's new teacher were enough to get us to the school gates alone.

This year there were no tears, just a buzz in the playground as friends reunited, parents lamented the end of the summer and a crisp freshness in the air signalled that autumn was just around the corner.

More than that, I surprised myself with how well I managed (shock, horror, mother looks after her own children) especially as this could be my first and last summer holiday I spend with them before I return to work.

What have been your best memories of the holidays?

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Retail Therapy

There's nothing like hitting your local shopping centre with your children for a spot of retail therapy.

No, there's actually nothing like it.

I need real therapy after that experience.

I went out with the purpose of buying some goodies for the kids with some vouchers I found in the cupboard.

I came back with a headache and possibly a stress-induced ulcer.

Some chocolate buttons would set the tone, we would stay for a maximum of an hour and then we would meet The Boy for lunch.

What could possibly go wrong?

For starters, The Goddess was rudely awoken from her nap by the older two squabbling over whose turn it was to turn off the inside car light (switched on because we went inside an underground car park of course).

Off to Waterstones we went to buy an audio book. It should've been so easy. I knew the one we wanted, but despite instructions not run off, I found myself chasing The Peaceful One around the shop.

Ironically, I finally caught up with him down the child psychology aisle.

After that I reduced the number shops I had planned to visit, headed to one more store and then got the heck out of there.

At times the sibling rivalry is intense.

In that short amount of time, we had 'But she pressed the lift button before me.'

'I'll put the ticket it, you put the money in and I'll collect the change.'

'No, I want to put the ticket in.'

'It's not fair, It's my turn go into the car first.'

It's exhausting being caught in the 'he said, she said' crossfire. I'm trying my best to encourage them to work it between themselves but it's early days.

Meeting The Boy was a welcome break, or an extra pair of hands at least. Lunch was a tasty but rushed sandwich as we passed The Goddess back and forth between us.

Then it was back to mayhem as I attempted to buy an item for myself. En route home I stopped by a local sports shop. I just needed a pair of running trousers. I've entered a 10k run and need to look the part - raggedy tracky bottoms just aren't going to cut it.

So as I tried on a pair of shiny running leggings (looking like Sandy from Grease only with sausages for legs), whilst the baby cried and the others ran under the clothing rails, I remember why I barely venture to the real shops and do nearly everything online.

Retail therapy now has a whole new meaning to me.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Happy holidays?


So the holidays have officially begun.

And honestly it got off to a damp squib.

Minxy got up at an eye-crunching 5am and refused to go back to sleep, waking up the whole house and generally creating an atmosphere of grumpiness.

Nevermind, I thought cheerfully, it's only day one of the holidays - there's plenty of fun ahead.

Actually, I thought bloody hell if this is the start of things to come, I'm going to be counting down the days when they go back to school.

Off we went to intensive swimming classes. At 8.45am. Goodness knows what possessed me to book lessons that early, but it felt like a good idea at the time.

It seems like the whole planet have children who are swimming like Michael Phelps. I do not. Due to my own rubbishness, mine sink like stones and wail if a mere droplet of water touches their precious faces.

I actually love swimming, so seeing The Peaceful One cry for the entire lesson and Minxy cowering as she was 'helped' into jumping off the side was quite a painful experience. Major motherhood FAIL. Private lessons are now at the top of the list.

With the class over, it was off to meet friends at the adventure playground. This one has a No Adults policy (except the helpers) and it's great to let the children enjoy themselves without the ever watchful eyes of their parents.

Thing is, it's for over fives, so The Peaceful One looked longingly at the others having a gay old time. Then started crying. Again. Poor sausage. He was clearly having a bad Monday.

I'm guessing half of childhood is spent wishing you were older, wanting to be five, ten, sixteen. Then you hit 30 and you start wanting to go into reverse.

Age can really come into its own when you are trying to address the needs of all your children, and it's highlighted further doing a simple activity like going to a play park.

Next year, The Goddess will be toddling about, so maybe it will be time to start splitting up the brood and finding more age appropriate activities.

Until then we'll be ploughing through all the local delights that are on offer.

How are your summer holidays panning out so far - glad of the lack of routine and relaxed, or hitting the wine before bedtime?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Moving on up


Moving house is one always cited as being one of the biggest stresses you will undertake.

Yet, two friends and their families have done just that to massively improve their lives.

One good pal has left the big schmoke for a quieter more affordable part of the country, which also happens to have good schools, great facilities and all round pleasant surroundings.

The other family are about to leap into the great unknown as a job opportunity is taking them Down Under.

Our friend Laura who I believe was literally born wearing high heels, said about her Aussie adventure: "The heels at sea for the next 3 months. Fare thee well, trusty heels. I shall miss you and your agonising beauty."

Good to see her priorities in place. But those heels will still be strutting their stuff in their new home. Sydney is the destination, so beach and city living combined. Can't go wrong I say. But it's definitely not for everyone.

At the leaving BBQ of the soon-to-be ex pats, I got chatting to one lady who had just spent 12 years living in Australia, only to be pining the whole time for the UK.

She told me that a three month trip to Oz turned into over a decade, two children later, the novelty had worn off and she just wanted to be back with friends and family.

Just goes to show that home really is where the heart is.

I'm addicted to property sites and love to have a nose at what I can get for my money in some far-flung corner of Britain, and what I would love, but could never afford.

Currently my heart is near my own family. The children have cousins who live locally, and one set of grandparents are only up the road. We see everyone regularly and it wouldn't be fair to deny them the chance to have these relationships whilst we live so close.

We've moved a fair few times in and around the same area, and I definitely think we have a few more moves in us.

But who knows what the future holds?

What part of the world does your heart lie?

Friday, 23 July 2010

School's out for summer


So many thoughts, so little time.

It's been a while since I put my fingers to the keyboard.

Why?

A combination of being busy, being too tired, and having a six month old baby who doesn't understand the concept of sleeping in the evening, have thwarted my blogging efforts.

Still, I'm here now.

It was a big day today as school's out for summer.

And what an emotional day the end of term turned out to be.

Tears from parents, teachers and children alike.

For the children leaving for secondary school it was an end of an era, for us at the relative start of the school years we could see what we had to ahead of us. And it wasn't pretty.

Most of the mums blubbed their way through leavers church service and it really made me realise how quickly your children grow up.

Minxy came home sad that she wouldn't have the same teacher next year.

A friend lamented: "I feel like whacking on Mamma Mia, putting on Slipping Through My Fingers' and really wallowing in it."

So bring on the holidays. No more crazy mornings, no more ferrying back and forth, no more homework. It's all about freedom and going with the flow.

Or is it?

With six weeks to fill (actually eight for The Peaceful One who starts nursery in the autumn), you need to get your wits about you to keep the troops entertained.

Luckily a visit to grandma's will break it up, and I'm hoping that the weather will stay dry so we can maximise the park action.

The main thing is I'm going to try and enjoy every moment as I know how fast their childhood is whizzing by.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The figure we all want


Who doesn't love Lego?

It is just brilliant and so versatile.

The iconic bricks even made their way into Ladies' Day at Ascot.

So imagine how chuffed I was when I was sent a little parcel from the nice people at Lego HQ.

Inside were three shiny packets of their new product - little minifigures.

Doesn't sound very exciting?

Well, as there are 16 to collect it's going to be war in the playgrounds of the UK! And that's just amongst the parents.

Minifigures have been around for over thirty years, but they've not been available to buy individually and that's what all the fuss is about.

We've got a deep sea diver, a nurse and a ninja but you'll find anything from a demolition dummy to a zombie.

At a treat-sized price of under £2, you can give buy them at your fave high street stores, including Tesco, Argos Tesco, WH Smiths, and John Lewis.

So why not give the Gogo's a break and spend your cash on these instead.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Three to the Five

I don't really feel any different.

The same gang of wrinkles are still there and have yet to be joined by more friends.

The eyes are still fairly bright.

My mind is in working order, even if it's sometimes a little fuzzy.

Body is floppy but on the road to firm.

It's my birthday today, and all in all being exactly mid-thirty is pretty good.

I've managed to work, travel, have kids, have fun. I've got great family and friends and my life is definitely rich.

Can't say more than that.

I'm off to eat low-fat cake in the glorious sunshine.

Friday, 21 May 2010

You love 'em but...

Wah!

These past few weeks have been relentless. Which is partly why I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front.

Moody kids, other half working all hours, sleep is hit and miss and the feeling that sometimes you just want to jump off the hamster wheel. For good!

I have no idea where I would escape to, and what with all this ash cloud business I'd have to forget Barbados and make do with Bognor instead.

God only knows how much I love my children, but that doesn't mean I always like them.

Be honest with yourself, have you ever looked at your little treasures and wondered how the heck they came from you?

How at times they can be so bonkers, so tricky, so unpredictable and also so funny you start wondering if they are just aliens posing in your childrens clothes.

Minxy is doing a great job at pushing my buttons at the moment, and at the end of a day (which could've started as early at 5am), I'm frankly not in the mood to be messed with.

But when you're that frazzled and you're faced with the usual sticking points of the day like mealtimes, bath or bedtime, it's hard not to get just a wee bit worked up.

Smacking is a complete no-no and shouting is the new smacking, so what's a parent to do to reign in the situation?

I once went on a course to learn How To Be A Positive Parent. It was great, but the details are a bit fuzzy now. So I've delved back into my notes and my new tactic of staying firm yet calm is finally starting to work.

And while all around me others are losing their heads. I am not. Well not visibly anyway. Obviously, inside I'm screaming into an imaginary pillow.

Yesterday morning was a case in point. The Boy had been struggling to get the The Peaceful One dressed, so after what had seemed like an eternity he said: 'You don't want to get dressed then you're going out in your pyjamas then.'

And that was that.

The Peaceful One spent the entire day (which included the school run, going to the supermarket, and visiting two different parks) in his jim jams.

At one point he said: 'I don't want to be in my pyjamas' but once he realised he I wasn't going to change him, he just got on with it.

Rats.

This plan may have backfired. I now have visions of him permanently dressed in flannel.

One thing I've learnt is from that exercise is that I would have given my eye teeth to spend the day in my jimmies.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Book review

I've just read Lisa Jewell's new novel After The Party. It's the long-awaited follow up to smash hit Ralph's Party and sees the main characters Jem and Ralph on a totally different journey.

Since the pair hooked up over 10 years ago, they've settled down into suburbia and have had two children.

But all is not well.

It's more Smarties than parties and the novelty of family life has worn thin. The book begins with the couple having separated, but can they work out their differences or have they bought a one-way ticket to splitsville for good?

It's an emotional read and there are many elements to the story which I'm sure most parents can relate to. The humdrum aspect of every day life, the 'Whose turn is it to load the dishwasher? argument', the trying to reignite your old identity whilst adjusting to your new one.

Jewell writes with such honesty, she really captures the fine minutiae of relationships. It's as if she's sneaked a peek into your sitting room and recorded those conversations you've had with your other half.

If I'm frank, it's not the cheeriest of books, but it is still worth casting your eye over this summer.

Fans of Lisa Jewell's work should check out her Facebook fan page and for more details about the book visit the official After The Party website.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Every little helps

So I stood on the scales.

And the woman said casually: 'You've lost two and a half pounds.'

'Ooh' I said.

My first week of Weight Watchers was a success.

So do points mean prizes?

I'm not sure but I had a rice cake with peanut butter to celebrate (two points for your information).

Another reason to be cheerful this week was the fact I've made the finals of the MAD awards. The MADs celebrate the best Mum and Dad blogs. I'm up for Best New MAD Blog, which really made my day.

So if you're feeling generous dear reader, click yourself over to here and lend your support, today after all is a very important day for voting.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

I'm finally losing it.


That's it.

I've had enough.

I'm losing it.

Not my mind (that went awol yonks ago) but the pounds.

Yes, I have signed up to a weight loss programme.

Eww, even saying it out loud makes it sound all American and cheesy. Not too much cheese mind, that's fattening.

I've never done a proper plan before, I always thought all that weighing yourself in front of people would be embarrassing more than motivating.

I had visions of a Little Britain style Marjorie Dawes leader shouting 'Come on fatty, time to ditch the baby blubber'.

But I've had enough of wearing clothes I don't like just because of excess squishy bits.

The Goddess may only be four months, and I didn't put on tons of weight with her, it's just the accumulative effect of three kids in a relatively short space of time has racked up.

So starting as I meant to go on I went for a quick power walk with a pal, and strode into the local community centre for the big weigh in.

My friend was nervous because she had lapsed a few weeks and I was nervous because, well, I didn't really know what to expect.

As I stepped onto the scales and looked at my weight in black and white, I felt a bit odd. Or sick to be precise. Crikey! I have got a bit more to lose than I realised. Ok, a LOT more. Hmm possibly, a whole Cheryl Cole.

Somebody pass me a biscuit quick!

As I don't own scales, the weekly weigh in is going to become a big deal every week.

Another friend who is also trying to make herself smaller gave me some very useful advice.

1. Go to the meeting. Every week. Even when you think you've put on.

2. Pasta - don't eat it the day before you weigh in. It is a BEAST of heaviness.

3. Don't wear jeans for weigh in - they're 3lbs of depression.

4. Don't have anything in the house that's not part of the plan.

5. Make a shopping list each week and STICK TO IT.

One, two and five are straight forward. Number three will be easy as I haven't worn jeans since I had Minxy. Number four will be hard because the kids like biscuits.

And so do I. Oh.

I was lamenting about my task to a school mum who diplomatically said: 'But your face is very slim.'

Sadly, I can't wear skinny jeans on my face.

Hmmm, this is going to be a real challenge and I'm totally up for it.

Goodbye maternity clothes and hello hot mama.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

After the party

I'm currently reading Lisa Jewell's latest book After the Party, which is about how a couple's love for each other hits the skids once the kids come along.

Bottles of Bollinger are replaced by bottles of milk, it's more smarties than parties, that type of thing.

As nights out are such a rare occurance, it made me think about what I really missed about my pre-kid life.

Wandering around the shops today, I realised that in my former life this would have been something to relish.

Instead, I do most of my shopping online and when I do hit the real shops, it's a bit of let down as I'm always in a rush. I can scan the clothing rails in a shop at an alarming rate.

Going out was always a big deal, I was hardly ever at home before I had children. Now I'm grateful just to go to local pub, let alone Soho. And when I do venture into town, the logistics are such that I'm exhausted before I've even got on the tube.

Travelling was high on the agenda too, road trips across America, houseboats in India, partying in Thailand.

Now the thought of going to those places fills me with dread. And flying with three under six is just a no no on so many levels for me at the moment. I like to keep all the tantrums contained in the car, but once they're all of an age where it gets a little easier we'll definitely fly again.

But it's not all bad, life is definitely more enriched and the things I put great importance on well, aren't important anymore. But wouldn't it be nice at times to transport yourself back to the glory days

What do you miss most about your life before children?

Monday, 12 April 2010

Not seen and not heard.

We've got a few friends getting married this year.

Marvellous.

I love weddings.

But if there is one thing that definitely divides people, it's whether to have children at the event or not.

I used to get offended when we were invited as a couple without the kids. What? They don't want all of us there. Why not?

I thought it spoke volumes about the bride and grooms attitude to children in general. But with the cost of the average British wedding over £20,000 it's understandable that every person costs, however small they are.

There's the other thing that people always worry that children will be too noisy during the ceremony, but most parents would take out a crying infant. Nobody wants to ruin the big day.

However, if you're dealing with a bridezilla, there could be trouble in store.

So what really is the problem? Is it the case that children are seemingly so unruly today that parents can't control them? Or as a society we are becoming less tolerant of kids?

Coming from a large West Indian family, not having children at a wedding is practically a cultural no no. Ditto The Boy who is Jewish. Frankly, it's unheard of and a bit alien.

Kids were part of our wedding even before we had our own, and we gave parents the option to leave their darlings at home if they so chose. We certainly didn't have NO KIDS printed in bold on the invite.

I do believe there is a element of your roots involved. I think our continental cousins are much more relaxed about this sort of thing. Ever seen an Italian or Greek wedding without children?

There is the argument that you get the chance to let your hair down without the little ones, but sorting out babysitting can be real headache especially if the wedding is far away and you need to stay overnight.

On one hand, we've taken the children and have spent half the time running after them outside of the venue (missing the ceremony), stiffling cries, carrying a suitcase load of snacks and toys, and changing bums in child unfriendly venues. Not relaxing.

Then there have been the times where we're dancing with the children, laughing and watching Minxy's face as she admires the bride in pure wonder.

The weddings we've been to without children (or very few at least) we're lovely. And quiet!

You also get those who didn't want kids at their wedding, but then once they have their own family they get upset when their offspring isn't invited to other people's ceremonies. Can't have it both ways.

I'm all for a bit of noise (not screaming during speeches mind) and kids are part of the celebrations. Besides a bad drunk is way worse than a crying child in my books. Horrible behaviour can come from adults too.

One thing's for sure, it can definitely be deal-breaker amongst friends. My sister told me about two mates who fell out over the bringing of children to a wedding. Five years on they still don't speak now. Ouch.

As it stands, we can't make all of the weddings because some are abroad, so enjoy the peace friends!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Baby love


The Goddess is just over three months now and is a total doll.

She's rolling over, trying to sit up (yes, straining to sit upright out of her bouncer chair) and she's now in the next age range of clothes.

I am absolutely gutted.

She's definitely the final chapter of our family, and when I was pregnant I kept saying to people that although I was really excited about another child, I equally couldn't wait to shift all the gear that comes with a new arrival.

I kept thinking, one day there will be no more plastic toys, no more battery operated items, no more baby gyms, no more high chairs, buggies, cots, the list went on.

So why as I put on her new clothes aged 3-6 months was I lamenting the fact that she was growing so fast?

In a weird way I was sad. Nobody will ever be 0-3 months in this household. She barely even wore some of the items. Obviously I'll be keeping the good stuff for memories, but I didn't expect to feel like this.

Sometimes in the thick of motherhood you forget that it can whizz by in a whirly fog of sleepless nights and grunt work.

I'm treasuring The Goddess because she is the last, but I can certainly see how other women go on to have more and more children almost in an attempt to keep recapturing that lovely, warm glow that is a newborn.

It's like you want to bottle that moment in time, but it's so fleeting, that you need to do it again.

There are no plans for a fourth child. We're spent. In every way. I'm from one of six siblings and as much as I love coming from a big family (and admire and respect my parents), I want to enjoy the children I have.

But do you ever really stop feeling broody?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The bombshell


Most of the time you're bobbing along, happy in the little bubble that you call your life.

Then along comes a bombshell that snaps you out of your dream-like state and literally rocks your world.

My beautiful niece has been diagnosed with leukaemia.

She is four years old.

When I received the news in a text message, I gasped so loudly Minxy asked me what was the matter.

I muttered 'nothing' as I put on a brave face and served up tea, but she knew from my eyes that something was desperately wrong.

It's funny the things that race through your mind when you hear bad news. My initial thoughts were to find out more information, then how would I tell the children, what could I do to help on a practical level, then after that it was all a bit of a blur as I tried to get my head around the situation.

The last time I saw her was just before I had The Goddess. She's a gorgeous, clever and funny girl with deep brown eyes and smile that you know gets her away with murder.

Half of our Easter Sunday was spent visiting her at The Royal Marsden hospital, which specialises in the treatment of cancer.

Chemotherapy has already begun, and the poor poppet has already undergone a wrath of invasive tests. She looked glassy-eyed, but we saw a few smiles and we explained to the children that she was in special hospital that was trying to make her better.

I wasn't going to blog about this, but family members urged me that I should and that people should know the symptoms of the type of leukemia my neice has, which is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Individually the signs and symptoms could be something your child has from time to time, but put together and it could be altogether more serious.

Signs and symptoms seen most often in childhood acute lyphoblastic leukaemia

Anaemia causing:
Fatigue and limited capacity for exercise
Breathlessness

Low platelet counts, causing:
Brusing within the skin
Bleeding from mouth or nose and blood in the stools or vomit

Low numbers of normal white cells, high numbers of abnormal cells and high metabolic rate, causing:
Persistent infections
Fever

As it stands she has a 80 per cent chance of survival and the cancer hasn't spread to her brain which is really positive news, but every day takes the family into the unknown. Which frankly is a scary place.

The past 10 days has certainly put my life into perspective. The tiredness, the tears and the tantrums pale into insignificance when those your love are seriously ill.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

It's war!


What a week it's been for us mothers. We're being judged from all corners.

It began with the French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter telling us that having babies has oppressed women. In an interview with the Times she said: "The baby has become a tyrant despite himself,".

According to Badinter the pressure to breastfeed, make your own baby food and use washable nappies has disempowered women.

In her new book Le Conflit, La Femme et La Mère (The Conflict, The Woman and The Mother), She sees these as chains around your neck and reckons if we ditched the boob for the bottle, feed your dearest with jars and just used disposables, we'd be a lot more liberated.

She goes onto say that as women we're torn because we're the L'Oreal generation ('Because we're worth it) and then have to ditch all that 'me, me, me' and give ourselves over to the baby, therefore losing our identities.

Her views are pretty radical, but she does touch on some real issues. I've done all the things she says oppresses us, but you have to find a balance and do what is best for you and your family.

Can't breastfeed and have really really tried (I mean past the cracked nipple stage)? Then give your baby formula.

Diligently made every meal from Annabel Karmel's recipe book, only for baby to spit it out time after time? Then jars have their place. You know they cost more in the long term, but if it saves you endless feeding battles and wastage, then they're Ok.

Washable nappies take time and effort. I know, I tried them. To be fair, it wasn't that hard. But I was so exhausted and fed up with the daily grind of baby, I just couldn't hack it.

But does this make me a loser? I don't know, but what I do know is most mums are out there trying to do their best for their kids. And that seems to be the problem.

Journalist Lucy Cavendish reckons it's war out there when it comes to the mummy stakes. It seems that the knives are out and us women are our own worse enemy.

She says constant competition is partly to blame. There's also the stay-at-home mums vs working mums, older vs younger mums, childfree women vs mothers. It's tough times. Are you prepared for battle?

I've been both a working mum and stay-at-home mum (currently on maternity leave) and both are hard for different reasons, but I think the whole argument (a very Western and middle class one) is futile. There's no point in berating each other. I know that, and you know that, so why is this debate still raging?

The landscape of motherhood has changed completely over the decades - a whole industry has been created for You and Your Child. And looking at the books I have purchased over the years, I've definitely bought into it. Instinct. Where's that then? Oh, there's probably a book about the subject.

Modern parenting has become a total minefield, but putting on your war paint and armour and fighting other women isn't going to help change things. A whole change in societal attitudes is needed but I can't see that happening any time soon.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

H is for homework

Most parents with school aged children have encountered the following three people.

Chip
Biff
Kipper

Argh! I haven't met a more annoying set of characters in my life. Yet, they've been in our lives for two years now.

They come from the Oxford Reading Tree, and the books they feature in are supposed to be a passport to helping your child to read.

It's just a shame the stories are so unimaginative. And random.

I'm tired of reading them, goodness knows how Minxy feels.

Here's why they get my goat.

- The absurd rhythmn of the stories.

- The way they end abruptly with no proper conclusion.

- The creepy neighbour who is always looking over the fence, it's less Where's Wally? and more Where's the Weirdo?

- They are boring. End of um, story, so to speak.

Please tell me the books get better. Please.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Outside my door


London really can be a great place for kids.

And doing this week's gallery challenge for Tara at Sticky fingers made me realise how lucky I am to live in a great part of the capital.

The marvellous Kew Gardens is only a hop, skip and a jump away and we go there frequently.

It's one of those places that really makes you feel alive, and with so much to see and do there, you're never bored.

One of the best things about it is the go-slow pace. Toddling about looking at all the flowers, the leaves, and just about every stone makes you wish you could live your're life at that rate all the time.

Kew Gardens holds a special place in my heart and the news that part of it may have to close is a worry.

If you ever get the chance to visit, you must.

Happiness


Holly at It's a mummy's life recently wrote a post about happiness and it got me thinking.

We're all so busy rushing around that you barely get time to reflect on your life and think about what really makes makes you happy.

So here in no particular order is what definitely makes my heart smile.

A crazy busy house with friends, kids, and lots of laughter.

Making and creating. Be it food, crafts or stuff with the kids.

A bar of almond Green & Blacks chocolate bar, accompanied by a magazine and a cup of herbal tea. Yes, it really does make me happy.

Waking up and thanking God that I'm here to look forward to another day.

Being grateful for having such a wonderful family, I mean my parents and siblings, not just my brood.

Watching the children grow day by day.

Retail therapy.

Beaten up old cars, that are crying out for a new lease of life.

Bad 'Knock, knock' jokes.

My fabulous friends.

It's not a huge list by all accounts, but it's the little things that mean the most.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Me


So I decided to join in with The Gallery, the ace idea created by Sticky Fingers.

You take a photo relating to the weekly topic and then you blog about it.

This week the theme was 'Me'.

Instead of taking a picture of myself, I felt that I'm currently defined by what is in my handbag.

I bought my bag on my honeymoon in Italy. We were in Florence and I purchased it along with two other lovely leather bags at a market. I haggled it down to a reasonable price and my tan friend has been at my side at various intervals ever since.

It's really battered now, and the inside zip has recently gone, and a pen leaked leaving a black stain at the back, but whilst I'm off work, it's my bag du jour and I still love it.

As you can see, it's rather Tardis-like and can hold a whacking great load of must-have things.

These are:

Pink diary, untouched, because I keep everything in my head. Fool!
Two plasters, one kiddie one, the other is plain.
Giant purse that holds one percent cash, ninety nine percent crap,
iPhone,
Glasses case,
The glasses from Mr Potato Head,
Pocket tissues for a snotty nose (mine, not theirs, that's what sleeves are for right?),
Lip gloss,
Vaseline,
White chocolate buttons,
Satsuma (to ofset the chocolate natch),
A marshmallow from Monday,
Mismatching hair clips,
Oyster card,
Three pens,
A button that fell off my coat last week,
A letter.

That's it.

Yup, that's me right there, ready for any eventuality.

Tantrum? Whip out the buttons. Feeling virtuous - eat the satsuma. Looking ropey - slick on some lip gloss. Minxy's hair dramas - pin back with the clips, pens for jotting, plasters for grazes and the phone for pretty much everything else.

The days of keys, purse, mobile are a distant memory. But one day, just one day...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Broken Britain


Gah!

Never mind the nation going to pot, I feel like the everything is falling apart at home.

I don't know if there's some kind of Feng Shui style message going on but things just keep breaking.

Minxy's scooter decided to fail on the way to school, The Peaceful One (who breaks everything anyway) has broken his ride-on car, the side of his bed, the canon on his tank. The list goes on.

Every time I go to get a toy, the batteries have gone, or a crucial part is missing, only last week a gorgeous puzzle was spoiled by the fact one of the pieces broke.

On an domestic level, light bulbs pop at the most inconvenient moment, The Boy recently fixed the dishwasher, the tumble drier is about to go to dump, we've just replaced the toaster and kettle and the computer has been on the blink. Argh!

There's an endless mend list, but at least I'm grateful that as a family we're all in working order.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Pets corner


They say never work with children or animals, but a lot of parents out there don't work with them they have both!

In the spirit of fun I've decided to start a Pets Corner, where you dear reader can send in your photos of your furry (or not so) friends.

I'll link to your blog so people can find out more about the owner, but feel free to add one line about your beloved.

It could be anything, what they mean to you, their personality, or just where you live.

At the end of the week, there will be winner. You won't actually receive anything other than the prestige of being Pet of the Week. Wow!

The more random, funny, cuter the picture the better. In this post is a portrait of Luci and Andy's dog Louis Vitton and Grandad's cat J.J is in the spot where Pets Corner will feature.

Please send your pictures and your blog address to petscorner2010 @ googlemail.com

Competition is stiff so may the paws be with you!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Party politics


So the General Election is looming.

And the three main political parties are trying their best to persuade us to vote for them.

I don't know about you but I smell a rat amongst all of them, and sorry but The Guardian's piece on 'the new look Tories' did nothing to change that.

Right now the politics that I deal with are on a more local level. They involve the invites to birthday parties.

On the whole Minxy gets an invite, we check the calendar, she either goes or doesn't go.

Occasionally, there's the 'So and so had a party and I wasn't invited' drama. It's a tough life lesson to explain to a five year old that you're not always included in somebody else's fun.

It seems that kids parties are just not parties any more, they're events.

Whatever happened to the time honoured tradition of going around someone's house for jelly and ice cream, pass the parcel, and leaving with a slice of cake and a sugary smile?

Now it's all entertainers, fancy restaurants (well Pizza Express), party bags filled with plastic tat, and expectations higher than reasonable.

By the time Minxy's birthday rolls around, she's seen every type of party going and the pressure is on to deliver.

This year we've had requests for Build A Bear, cinema and pizza night, a swimming pool party, and a sleepover. I'm not hearing jelly and ice cream amongst that list.

Her Godmother who is a super mum to four children, has an excellent view of parties. She says:

No parents
No siblings
Out with cucumber and carrot batons and in with party rings and chocolate fingers.
Produce sweets if anyone starts crying or having a tantrum.
Keep a bag of cheap pressies to dip into if things start to get boring.

Pretty sensible rules I think you'll find.

I'll be following them closely if I can get away with a home party this year.

What are your views on kids party?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Blog off haters!

There's a big old hoo-ha about mummy bloggers at the moment.

Well, there is over the pond.

Our US counterparts are still reeling from the New York Times article about mums who blog and how it's now a major industry and not just a bit of fun.

There's been a few insecurities in Blighty with people worried about the number of comments their blogs are getting, the quality of their posts, and even questioning why they started blogging at all.

I actually started a blog five years ago charting the perils of being a first time mum, it was a bit of a laugh and gave me some much-needed creativity away from Minxy. I gave it up after a few months when life got too hectic and baby number two came along.

Now I've dipped my toe back into the water and woah how the landscape has changed.

Blogging conferences, advertising, reviews, competitions, people getting book deals from their blogs, and the power of social media has meant that everybody has upped their game.

You're not allowed to ramble on about your cruddy day with the baby, you've got to be witty, insightful, thought-provoking.

And you have to have a niche. You're a mum to sextuplets, living in outer Mongolia, running an online business.

Or do you?

Gosh, what a pressure.

I say 'boo' to the haters out there. What's wrong with reaching out to a virtual community of like-minded parents? Or making a living out of it if you can?

Goodness knows raising a family can be a hard slog and it's refreshing to ride the rollercoaster with other people.

So don't feel down hearted if you're having a bad blogging day, week, month it happens to us all.

Just be safe in the knowledge that you are not alone.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Column inches


Squish, squish, wobble, wobble, squeeze, stuff, oooh.

That's the sound of me trying to get into my old clothes.

Ok, so The Goddess is not quite three months old yet, but you know, there's no getting away from the past five years of childbearing.

Boing!

That's me literally bouncing around.

Now that we live in the age were celebrity mums are either back in their size zeros within a matter of weeks of giving birth, or taking the slow and steady approach like Charlotte Church or Claire Richards from Steps, it's hard not to put yourself on a timescale.

'Nine months to put on so nine months to take off' I hear you cry, and yes I'm not ready to ditch the chocolate just yet (didn't manage to give it up for Lent this year ), I just want to get back to some kind of normal.

We all know that motherhood comes with a few war wounds, but now that our family is completed, I actually feel like it's time to get back into jeans once and for all.

Not just jeans, but a whole new wardrobe please.

With the weather having picked up, it's out with the layers and big coats, and in with partial flesh-baring. Yikes! I'm talking arms and ankles and God forbid, legs.

A friend recently came over for lunch and she looked amazing. She has a toddler and was slinking around in jeans and a t-shirt. What was her secret?

'Slimming World,' she raved.

'Really?'

She's the second person I know who has done SW and she also looks fab. Plus, she has four children, two of which are baby twins.

I've never done the diet club thing, I don't even own scales.

Would I have the guts to wibble in public? I'm not so sure.

Let me just think about over a wee slice of cake and I'll get back to you...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Green guilt


How green are you?

Come on, ask yourself.

I try my best, but I've already cluttered up the planet by having all these kids.

We recycle our papers, plastic and garden waste. I'd love to recycle myself and come back as some kind of domestic goddess.

I'm happy to buy things second hand and fully utilise charity shops, eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle.

Upcycling isn't a new class at the gym, it's the buzz word for tarting up old furniture or giving a household object a new lease of life. I'm all for that and it appeals to my crafty leanings.

However, I'm not ready to knit my own knickers just yet.

Composting isn't my strength, but we try. Sadly I don't have green fingers and kill plants just by looking at them.

In fact, the cress that The Peaceful One brought home from his pre-school last week has copped it on the window sill. If you can't grow cress, frankly, there's no hope is there?

I buy organic, but I don't buy everything organic. Sorry, but the point of organic ketchup is what exactly?

Anyway, I'm yet to be totally convinced by the organic argument, but in an effort to avoid being shot by the green mafia, I buy what we can afford.

The nappies we use aren't biodegradable. We used to buy Nature's Boy and Girl for Minxy, but by the time the others came along, we'd just get any brand going.

I actually did try washable nappies. It wasn't hard, I was just lazy and you need to be fully committed to the cause. So the beautiful bundle of fluffy pants went back on eBay from whence they came.

We're getting better at walking. I really love walking, just don't do it enough and find myself in the car zooming about way too much. When the weather gets better, I'll be taking advantage of my feet (now that I can finally see them) to get from A to B.

Living more sustainably is definitely appealing if not needed to safeguard the planet.

In an alternative life (no pun intended) I'd be in my Haf haus, living the good life.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothers Day - How was it for you?


Ah Mothering Sunday.

Doncha just heart it?

A lie-in, croissants in bed, home made cards, chocolates, and dinner out in a restaurant.

An absolutely dream day on paper.

The reality...

Well, I'm not going to dwell on that. Let's just say we survived and we'll keep it a little more low key next year (read 'skip the meal out bit').

The pressure to Have A Good Time is immense, but to be honest, it's just another day (the washing doesn't wash itself, neither does the house tidy itself up) but the focus gives you the chance to reflect on this whole motherhood lark.

All I know is that I'm truly blessed to have my three chiddlers. They might keep me well and truly on my toes, but when I think about how lucky we are to even have children, it puts it into perspective.

My own mother is an inspiration to me, and having come from a family of six siblings, I have so much respect for her. How the Dickens did she (and my father) do it?

This is what the fountain of knowledge that is called Wikipedia says about the word 'Mother'.

" A mother is a biological and/or social female parent of an offspring.[1] Because of the complexity and differences of a mothers' social, cultural, and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to define a mother to suit a universally accepted definition."

Ain't that the truth?

Saturday, 13 March 2010

At your service


I run the best hotel in the world.

The food is plentiful and I cater for the fussiest of eaters.

The beds are always made.

Entertainment is laid on 24/7.

The service is top notch.

You get a designated driver who will take you far and wide.

Your every whim and desire is attended to.

There's only one slight problem.

The guests!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A tidy house is a tidy mind right?


Being off on maternity leave has been a revelation in so many ways.

I've learnt so much about myself and not all of it good.

I'm no longer so weedy since I became a fully paid up member of The School Run Club.

When I was working, I used to drop off the kids to their various places (one to school, the other at our childminder), run back to the car and drive like a loon to the office. It didn't matter what the weather was like because I'd be heading to my warm and dry desk.

Now that we're having what seems like the longest winter in the history of the weather, finding a parking space, having change to get a ticket, dealing with the cold/wind/rain, cheering up The Peaceful One who is normally in a foul mood at this time of the day, and trying to keep The Goddess asleep has become a mammoth task.

Everyday brings a new challenge but patience, treats, and the gritting of teeth gets me through it.

Another thing I've learnt is staying at home means constant mess. I'm not massively tidy, but since being home, our house looks like it's been burgled on a permanent basis.

I can't bear it. In fact I've started to develop slight OCD tendancies.

'Um, can you not mix the colours of the Play Doh please.'

'So you've finished with the puzzle, can you pack it away before you get out your cars.'


Clatter, crash! That's the sound of the entire box of lego being tipped on the floor. Ok, keep calm, deep breaths. The children are only actually playing with their toys. But OMG half of it is under the sofa.

Snip, snip, snip. 'I'm just making cards for all my friends mummy.' So why is most of the art cupboard on the floor?

Frankly, glitter is the devil's dust.

Grr!

Naked Barbie's, marbles, dolls clothes, teeny tiny little shoes for Polly Pocket, Transformers parts, Play Mobile bits, endless unidentified arts and crafts projects, balloons from party bags, twigs, Hama beads, the list goes on.

I'm living in a trashed nursery.

And don't get me started on the laundry.

I want clarity and I want it now!

Why can't my house be like the ones you see in Living Etc or The White Company?

Clean lines, storage for everything and not a sticky fingerprint in sight.

Because it wouldn't be much fun that's why.

Oh.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Stars in my eyes


I'm a Gemini.

I know what you're thinking, and no I'm not two-faced thank you very much.

I'm double the fun, or at least that's how I like to think I am.

Does my star sign make a difference to how I raise my brood? I'd like to say 'no' but have a sneaking suspicion it creeps in at every turn.

Decisions are not my strong point. The simplest thing can turn into a drama in my mind.

Shopping is a 'mare. 'Shall I get a Twix or a KitKat?' 'Twix, KitKat, Twix, KitKat, argh!'

Apparently I make for a 'lively, adaptable, sensible and positive parent who is able to present your children with a constant stream of new ideas and experiences.'

That's true. It's a never ending round of activities in our house as I can't bear the boredom.

'Ok, children we're going to do painting, then baking, followed by junk modelling.'

It's either that or: "We're going to the park. No grandma's. Hold on, let me see if anyone else is around, that's it we're staying in."

The Boy puts up with a LOT to say the least, and frankly I blame everything on my star sign. He said I should illustrate this post with a crazy lady, I plumped for elephants instead.

He's an Aries and he definitely adds fire to my air.

Although I read horoscopes with a healthy pinch of salt, there could be some truth in the character traits.

My mummy mates who are Capricorns are organised within an inch of their lives, the Librans are free-spirited and go with the flow, the Aquarians are practical, and the Sagittarians are adventurous.

Regarding Gemini's, I also read that 'constant childish chatter and repetitive noise can irritate you, and you will need frequent breaks, especially if you are stuck at home.'

Hmm, bit late for that then.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

'Retro'spective


Cooking the same old fare week after week gets a bit boring, so I've decided to go back.

Way back. And introduce the kids to some trashy gems of my childhood.

Growing up, it was Caribbean food mixed with the fish fingers with mash, sausage with mash, and mash with mash for when friends came for tea.

But there are some foods that take me back my youth in a blink of an eye. And Angel Delight is one of them. Ditto Artic Roll.

Let's not think about their nutritional value (zilch) and more the sheer fun. Chocolately badness whipped up in an instant - yes please. Ice cream in a sponge cake - woo!

It also adds some interest into the hell that is period post-school to bedtime. 'Hey kids, check this out.' stops the 'But, mum he called me poo head' arguments in an instant.

There are some retro 'classics' that I won't be introducing to the kids.

The Boy told me he loved eating Smash as a kid (bleurgh) and I vaguely remember he went through a Pop Tart phase when we first met (cardboard with molten lava style jam inside).

Best leave those two behind.

Which foods have you introduced to your kids which are good yet oh-so-bad?

Monday, 8 March 2010

City limits


A trip out of London to see family saw us admiring some nice green views.

Over the years, dear friends have left the big schmoke for a quieter life, more house for less money, and just simply because they had had enough.

It got me and The Boy talking about whether we could really live outside of the M25.

Now I love the countryside. Rolling hills, fresh air, the wildlife, the relaxed way of life. What's not to like?

Grandma lives here in the French countryside and when we visit we love the fact you barely see another person for weeks.

But, could I live away from the city for real?

I'd like to think I could, but whether I want to right now is different.

There's nothing wrong with raising a family in the city. People always worry about the crime, the schools and the lack of open space, but I argue that kids can have just a good a childhood here as those raised elsewhere.

And when they're older it makes no difference. Besides, teenagers get bored regardless of where they live.

I'm in the suburbs anyway, hardly Soho.

The case for London life:

There's tons to do for families.

It's multi-cultured and there's a diverse range of people.

You're only a tube ride away from adventure.

The shops are open most of the time.

The case against:

The cost. Everything is so darn expensive.

Er, that's it.

Ok, so I'm biased. I was born and raised here, so I don't know much else.

I love the coast too, so if I had to leave the capital, I'd head to the sea in a shot.

Where do you live and do you think children have a better life outside of the city?

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Party pooper


Having The Goddess has meant practically striking a line through all social engagements for a very long time.

Too tired, colic, nothing to wear (besides the fact nothing fits), and just the sheer logistics, has scuppered any chance of a night out for the foreseeable future.

Or at least it feels that way.

I wouldn't be so worried but typically 2010 is turning out to be THE year for all those around me.

I'm missing big birthday parties, where people are celebrating ages which end in 0.

Weddings that span from London to Connecticut to Italy.

An evening over at a friend's house seems like an impossibility.

In short it's very frustrating. It wasn't that long ago that I was out on the tiles, partying 'til dawn.

Now even the cat doesn't even want to hang out with me.

Still, perhaps I shouldn't complain at it's nice to be invited.

Don't worry friends, I'll be back on the scene roughly 2013.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Round and around we go



You've got to be honest.

Sometimes, you get to the weekend and you're all out of puff.

Life can be one long roundabout and now again you just want to jump off.

Everybody likes to give you their tuppence worth about the joys of parenting:

"Enjoy these years, they go so quickly."

"It's tough now, but it's just a phase."

"You'll look back and wonder where time went."

What nobody says is how boring it can be. Come on, be truthful. It can be just a wee bit, um, dull.

The same faces and places, the 'What shall we have for tea?', the 'Will I ever stop feeling tired?', the routine schmoutine.

I sometimes go into autopilot forgetting to revel in the moment, and remember that this is their childhood we're living.

The act of getting up, doing the school run, doing the shopping, picking the kids up, having tea, doing bath and bedtime, can be more enduring than enjoying.

Now again, my mind wanders into fast forward mode, when I assume things will be 'exciting' but the reality is that you have to make it happen.

So right now imagination is the key, I'm trying to make life a little bit more interesting for all involved.

It's less Cbeebies (eek) and more papier mache, more baking (if all else fails make a cake) and less, well less of the mundane.

Here's to more fun times ahead.

For them and for me.

Friday, 5 March 2010

The one where I do as I do, not as I say.


I've only been blogging for a few weeks, but I jumped at the chance to get involved in Guest Post Day, a gem of an idea from Erica, the woman behind Little Mummy.

So today, you'll be reading a new shiny post from Laura from Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy?

She's a veteran blogger, but I think you'll agree that we can all relate to the joy that is demanding children.

If you want to find out what I wrote (or rather made) for Laura, head over to her site for some stitching without the bitching.

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When I pick the children up it's always the same.

They come out of school, across the playground, and pile anything they are carrying onto me so that they can go on the school's adventure playground before going back to the car.


I am Sherpa-Woman; ladened with a packed lunch bag, a cardigan, a bag of wellies, a book bag and a cereal box model or two, gloves and scarves.


Yesterday was different though, I didn't even get a "Hello Mummy, please can you hold this?".


On the way to the car the 4 year old whined that he was tired and couldn't possibly walk the last 5 metres.

The 5 year old complained that I was walking too fast. In less than 3 minutes my heart rate went up.


As we got in the car all I heard was ... open the car, where is my bag?, pass me my juice, I'm sitting in that seat, don't touch my packed lunch bag, that's my book.


As I listened my blood boiled.


I turned round and using my best Supernanny firm voice with a hint of 'wild thunder eye' told them that I was going to speak, WITHOUT INTERRUPTION.


I told them that they had to speak to each other and me with more respect. I told them that I'm sure they didn't speak to their teacher or childminder like that.


I turned back, took a deep breath and started the car. I looked in the mirror and could see that the 5 year old was thinking.


5 year old - Mummy, at school I am very polite. I always say please and thank you, so when I see you after school I don't have any manners left.


The 3 year old whose grommets have fallen out leaving him partially deaf simply nodded in agreement.


Me - I want a change in behaviour tomorrow after school tomorrow, OK?


5 year old - Mummy, but you didn't say please.


I think I need Supernanny to give me a good talking to.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Read all about it


To celebrate World Book Day Minxy decided to dress up as Cinderella.

No surprise there as the world she inhabits is one full of princesses, fairies, weddings and anything that where everyone lives happily ever after.

And why not? If you can't have a rosy view of the world when you're five, when can you?

I love reading books. Don't do enough of it, but still love it. I remember reading in my bedroom, long after 'lights out' and squinting in the dim light as my mind was led on an adventure.

Currently, my own reading ranges wildy from the practical (How To Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons
) to the inspirational (The Audacity of Hope), to the downright random (Lillian Too's Little Book of Feng Shui).

Pah! I couldn't even tell you who is top of the bestsellers list, but I'm sure it's none of the above.

Sadly, reading leisurely for pleasure means harking back to the days B.C (Before Children).

Although World Book Day might be a bit gimmicky (wouldn't it be great if adults dressed up too?), it reminds us all how important it is to escape from the daily grind and disappear into a good book.

What will you be reading today?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Cuckoo la la


Found the marbles.

Honestly, I thought I had lost them.

Then I realised they were on the book shelf all along. Phew!

Seriously though, my brain has never quite been the same since the chiddlers came along and I now do the oddest things.

For example:

I actually laugh at Cbeebies show Gigglebiz.

Ditto Peppa Pig.

I've found myself admiring the interiors in TV show Grandpa In My Pocket.

My memory just isn't the same.

My memory just isn't the same, or have I said that already?

Going to Ikea is almost a family day out.

I've started to unashamedly watch The Wright Stuff on Five.

I'm one of the few people who actually likes Angelina Jolie.

What I want to know is will I ever be the same again? Can my tastes ever revert back to normal?

What kind of stuff do you do that you didn't do before?

Is there hope?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Head, shoulders, knees and toes


Everybody talks about the pain of childbirth, but nobody tells you about the aches and pains you endure afterwards.

My neck is stiff.

My back has more knots than Minxy's hair.

My shoulders are up to my ears.

It's not a good look.

The Goddess is only a wee thing (not sure exact amount because I'm done with the weekly weigh-in palava), but when she's lounging on one shoulder, whilst I wipe another child's bum and answer the phone, my spine is paying for it big time.

I think it actually resembles the letter 'Q'.

Which is why I'm going to enlist the help of my sister to put me on the straight and narrow.

She's recently qualified as an osteopath and I could with her fingers working her magic.

There's always scepticism surrounding osteopathy, but from my experience, it's definitely worked for me.

And to be honest having somebody manipulate my muscles is an offer I just can't turn down.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Men at work



Three words.

Just three words can send your heart racing and your head spinning.

No not those ones.

I meant 'working late tonight.'

When I hear those words my shoulders sink and I generally do a big sigh.

Then I dust myself down and throw myself headlong into the tea, bath, bed routine and hope that I come out the other side in one piece.

Obviously, I have the utmost respect for single parents who have no choice but to get on with it night after night.

But sometimes it's nice to have a helping hand with the homework ('just one more spelling darling'), the meal time ('just one more mouthful please'), the bath ('just five more minutes and then out'), and bedtime ('just one more page').

With The Boy working late on a regular basis, getting three to bed is quite a challenge, but I'm trying my best to nail it.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Blonde ambition



Minxy is having a blonde moment.

She's obsessed with all things straight and golden.

Her own tresses are about as far from that as you can get. And there's the rub.

I remember in my own youth wrapping a towel round my head and pretending I had long swishy hair instead of tight afro curls.

No matter how many positive role models I was surrounded by, the lure of the Western idea of beauty was too strong. Luckily, I found the inner confidence to embrace my roots and accept how my hair looked.

And I know that Minxy will too.

I've experimented with every look going, afro, relaxed, weaves, plaits, twists. I've been short, long, every colour going and yes I've been blonde. Well, they were extensions, but you get the gist.

My hair style changes every few months and that's the beauty of afro hair. It's versatile.

Barbie and Hannah Montana heavily influence Minxy. She is mesmerised by them and their hair, and she's even wanted to be some of her friends just because they are blonde.

We've got a great book called I Love My Hair which empowers black children to literally love their hair.

I'm not blondist, some of my best friends are blonde, I just want to make sure that my daughters learn to love their heritage and how it defines their beauty.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Run for your life



Woke up and thought ' that's it, I'm doing it.'

So I did.

It was 7am and I put on my running gear and dusted down my trainers.

Right, time to stretch out. My body creaked. My mind said: 'Come on girl, you can do it.'

Ok, touch my toes now I can finally see them again. Ooh, they're further than I thought. My back clicked and my hamstrings felt tight.

I waved to the kids who were chuckling at the window, and off I went.

Put one foot in front of the other. That's it, easy does it. Pace yourself or you'll get stitch. I can feel everything wobbling. Eugh. My legs felt like concrete. Maybe if I speed up I won't notice it. Oh no, I'm out of breath. Argh! I'm getting stitch. Focus. FOCUS.

The last time I ran was April last year, but that seemed like ages ago. I've always enjoyed exercise, but finding time has been my enemy. I've decided I'll just have to squeeze it in the weekend.

The good thing about running at the crack of dawn is nobody can see you puffing and plodding up the road. You also get the chance to clear your mind.

Three miles later, I arrive back home.

A heap, but a happy one.