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.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Mobile and hands free

Way hey! Today was all about freedom. And I had a tantilising taste.

I had a lunch date with my work friends. Going to lunch without children is a Big Deal. Going anywhere without children is a big deal.

For a start you can talk without without being interrupted, and go to the loo on your own. You can even walk. Really quickly. It's quite a revelation.

The only thing you can't quite do is relax. I mean really relax, like you used to pre-children.

You still eat a little bit too quickly and have your mobile clamped to the table. I was going to wear sparkly shoes but the trainers won the day, just in case I literally had to run back to the car to get the kids.

A friend was leaving work to travel for a year. Freedom and adventures await her in a myriad of countries. I was just happy to travel a mile up the road, let alone actually board a plane and fly off to a far and distant land.

For a moment I was my old perky self talking about everyday stuff and laughing out loud.

I felt part of the world again today and it was good.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

But why?

And breathe.

Raising The Peaceful One is like having a dog.

Not that I've ever owned one as I'm a cat person. But in the sense that dogs need plenty of fresh air and need to run and run. It's pretty exhausting stuff.

I can't imagine what is going through his mind right now, but I wouldn't like to be inside it.

My guess is it's something like this.


And on it goes, question after question after question. All day long (sung to the tune of The Wheels On The Bus).

If I don't answer correctly and flippantly say 'because it just is' or 'I don't know darling' or 'Why do you think it is?' all hell breaks loose because Mummy Must Know.

I end up making up the most ridiculous answers in the hope that I can bore him into submission. 'The reason is because blah de blah blah blah de blah.' It never actually works, as whatever I say always ends with a 'but why?'

The threes are a testing age. Terrible twos are nothing compared to the threes. With more vocabulary to use, life becomes a verbal stand off.

For example:

The Peaceful One: "Can I have some sweeties?"
Me: "It's too early for sweets."
TPO: "But why?"
Me: "Because it's the morning."
TPO: "But why can't I have sweeties."
Me: "I've just told you. It's too early."
TPO: "I want sweeties." Stamps feet.

In a bid to distract him from the topic I say:

"We're going to the supermarket and then meeting friends at playgroup."
TPO: "Which playgroup?"
Me: "A new one up the road."
TPO: "Who are we meeting?"
Me: "Luke and Sophie.
TPO: "But why?"
Me: "Because they're our friends."
TPP: "Who are?"

At this point I'm ready to stick forks in my eyes.

I have a question myself. Is it the weekend yet?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

When bad clothes happen to good people

I'm still working out how I went from trench coat to tracksuit bottoms in a blink of an eye.

Frankly, it's a travesty.

I used to wear real clothes, you know skirts, dresses and accessories. Now I grab what's clean and what fits. A fact which is hard to come to terms with.

Being off work means a nice wardrobe seems like a long distant memory. I can't wear maternity clothes as they're baggy and saggy, and I can't wear normal clothes because I'm baggy and saggy. What's a girl to do?

The weather doesn't help matters. Wind, rain, sleet, how do you dress for this climate without looking like you're about to go trekking?

I swore I would never be one of those mums who wore a anorak on the school run (just like my kids would never have snotty noses, yeah right), and now I'm exactly that. Help! Call the fashion police.

What am I supposed to wear anyway? I'm not ready to wear head-to-toe Boden. I feel like I need to own a Volvo XC90 to qualify for that one, but I'd scare women and small children (that's everyone then) if I rocked up at the school gates in jeggings.

At least I can wear trackie bums and nobody gives a fig, imagine being a mum at the school Elle Macpherson's children go to - what a pressure.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Insatiable 'app'etite

I have to confess to being a bit of a saddo, but I heart my iPhone. There, said it. It's pure love. Never have I been so absorbed by a piece of technology.

Having only bought a mobile since the arrival of Minxy, I now have a 400 texts-a month habit, and honestly believe I couldn't go a day without my phone.

Plus with the arrival of the iPhone, it's only fed my phone addiction further. I bought one last year and ever since then, I've not looked back.

It's not just the matter of needing it in case there's an emergency. I use it to read the news, check my email, take photos and video, do the online shop, and sometimes I even use it to phone people. Imagine.

My sense of direction is awful. I once got lost running in a local park, and ended surrounded by deer in the dark. I'm the same with trying to find the car in multi-storey car park. So I was chuffed to find that you can get an app called G Park that finds the location of your car. Brilliant. No need to work out where it could be.

Then there's the Ocado app where you can do all your shopping at the click of a button. Brilliant. No need to negotiate the shopping aisles with moaning children.

Download Shazam and you can find out what that song you were humming in the car is called. Brilliant. Now I don't need to wait 'til I hear it again to catch the name.

Organise your life with the app called Things. Brilliant. Now I know what I should be doing every day.

Want to find out what's going on in the world? No problem, watch BBC news. Brilliant. I never had time to read the paper anyway.

And what's the latest on Cheryl Cole? Ooh I'll just find out on Sky Showbiz.

Ok, so there's a running theme here about not needing to use your noodle, but with the two remaining brain cells that work, there is no choice for me but to rely on mod cons.

If only somebody could create an app that got the kids dressed, made breakfast, and tidied the house. Now that would be true 'app'iness.


Money. Can't live without it, could do with lots more of it. But even lots more of it wouldn't necessarily make you happier. Oh alright, maybe temporarily.

With a mid-sized family it's something that is never far from my mind. New shoes, coats, bags and that's just me.

Who hasn't thought about what they would do if a lottery win came their way? I'd know what I'd do in a shot. Buy a new house, share it with family and good friends, give some to charity, and then do something random like open a tea shop that sold cute gifts by day, and was a bar by night. What would you do?

A new report by LV reckons the average cost of raising a child to the age of 21 costs over £200,000. Wowzer! That's a pretty eye-watering amount. Now, my maths has never been good, but times that by three and that's . . . a figure I don't want to think about.

According to the data, we'll spend £11,000 on babysitting alone. Surely that can't be right. Most parents I know barely go out. Either you don't have the energy, don't get invited (you fall off the social radar with friends without kids) or by the time you do organise a babysitter, get your outfit and get excited, somebody falls ill and the whole night is scuppered.

Childcare tops the biggest expense with us Brits spending over £54,000. I've spent a small fortune on childcare over the past five years, but a friend recently pointed out in the days pre-kids that I wouldn't have saved that money either.

Too true.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Monday blues

When the week begins with a messy house, rubbish weather, and news I should care about but don't (Gordon Brown reportedly has a bad temper shocker), it's time to get online and look at things I don't really need.

In another life I was an online shopping editor and I still enjoy finding the best the net has to offer. When the skies are grey, I head to great site Rockett St George. It's not pretty to look at but it sells some lovely things.

Then I swoon over Princess Pashley bikes which look lovely in blue.

A quick click session at Office Shoes to look at all the impractical shoes that I know longer wear.

And then it's off to John Lewis in search of a toaster. Can somebody tell me why it costs £175 for a machine that browns bread? The world has gone mad.

The start of the week does have one plus point, however bad your Monday is, there's always a reason to be Gleeful.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Three in the bed and the mum and dad said...

Cripes, we need a bigger bed.

With all the shenanigans that go on at night, a supersized bed which comfortably houses everyone might just be the answer.

Then again, as lovely as it is to have a child snuggling up to you in the wee small hours, the reality is somewhat different.

The Boy and I have slept many a time in the shape of the letter 'h', with us balancing on the on the sides of the bed, whilst one of the children sleeps horizontally in the middle. I knew all those years of doing yoga would come in handy for something.

Sleep is something that has alluded us for so many years, I've forgotten what getting a good night is like. I dream about sleeping. Musical beds is one of our favourite games. Who knows whose bed everyone will be in by the morning? What fun.

Obviously as parents, we're not alone. I mean, come on, if somebody told you that by starting a family you'd be giving up lie-ins for about 10 years, nobody would have children.

A recent survey carried out by Newsround showed that over half of the 1000 chidren who took part in the research said they weren't getting enough sleep.

We've only really cracked it with The Peaceful One and even he has his moments (usually when you've got home late from a rare night out). It's early days for The Goddess, but Minxy might as well be called The One Who Never Sleeps, such is her apparent dislike of the activity. Even the professionals haven't managed to solve our sleep problems, so I bumble through life with gritty eyes and a foggy mind, and just keep reminding myself that this is 'just a phase'. A very long phase.

Sleep tight.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Party feet

Ahhh, the weekend. Wait a minute, it's really pretty much the same as the week only with The Boy around.

Minxy is rehearsing for a show, so it's jazz hands at the ready and up and out of the house (with the baby in tow) for 8.30am. Urgh!

She's been dancing for a few months and really enjoys it. But it was a case of third time lucky as we had tried other classes.

First there was toddler ballet, which was really a group of two year olds with all the grace of a herd of elephants jumping about.

Next was contemporary dance, which was a group of three year olds with all the grace of a herd of elephants actually pretending to be herds of elephants, with the odd African drum thrown in for good measure. We gave up on that when Minxy got fed up of being an animal week after week and just wanted to wear a tutu and prance around.

Now every Saturday morning Minxy pliƩ's, tap dances and sings, and I along with the other parents sit in a hot and stuffy corridor snatching a bit of 'adult time' as we chat, read the papers or have a cuppa. Pretty blissful.

The bliss was short-lived today as we had to attend my niece's 3rd birthday party in Cambridge. All lovely in theory, but when it takes you longer to get out of the house than the journey itself you have to psyche yourself up.

As it happens we had a great time, but as I tucked into another piece of some scrummy millionaires shortbread, it crossed my mind that I should sort my mummy tummy at some point.

At some point, not now, although we did pass a sign on the way home for Six Bottom Mile , which I read briefly as Six Mile Bottom. I took it as a sign, and as apparently your not supposed to eat for two during pregnancy, it figures you shouldn't really after.

How terribly dull.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Sweet success

I survived half term, and to be honest it wasn't too bad.

Today was really nice, no tantrums, no rushing, and nothing really planned.

Highlights included the appearance of uncle Tom who entertained the children and making homemade lemonade.

Food is a big deal in our house. What are we eating when? And where are we eating it? What are we having for tea at so and so's house? Plus, with constant cries of 'I'm hungry' and 'I'm still hungry' it means keeping the cupboards well stocked on a regular basis.

So I was interested to read that MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace said the weekly shop was marking the 'death knell of decent cooking.'

He said: "How does anybody on a Saturday morning know what they want for dinner on a Thursday evening?"

Um, because they meal plan is the answer. Now, I'm not quite on the path of 'Monday night means sausage and mash' but you've got to have some idea of what you are making across the week otherwise you're doomed.

Online shopping is my saviour (along with a couple of trips to the actual shops), and although it might lack imagination you can still pick up some little gems, like this beautifully packaged sugar from Barbados.

My parents are Bajan, and I've been on numerous occasions (pre kids) so any chance I get to support the country I'm there. And one day the children will get to visit. Until then, I can only give them a taste of this small but stunning island.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Glass half full. Of wine.

Apparently happy people are less likely to have heart disease, according to an American study.

Now, I try to be upbeat about life but you can't keep all of the people happy all of the time. Especially when the requests come thick and fast, 'Mum, watch me,''Can I have a drink?', 'Mum, can you put the computer on?' 'I want to watch a film' and it goes on and on. It's only 8.30am.

Today we made monsters, then rice crispy cakes and escaped the rain to see friends. It was a case of safety in numbers, but the reality was breaking up squabbling siblings who threatened to poke pencils in faces, called each other 'poo head' and fought over scooters.

Roll on wine o'clock.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Pizza the action

We've reached the half way point now and we're not doing too badly. Lunch was homemade pizza at a friends house, and the afternoon was pals over for macaroni cheese with lashings of tantrums. Oh.

Life was never going to be a walk in the park having three children, but you don't really know how it is going to work out until you are in the thick of it.

Three is either a crowd or the magic number, it depends on what mood everyone is in.

Right now, we're going through a major period of adjustment and it's being manifested in a variety of ways. Minxy is the protective sister who is also simultaneously asserting herself, and The Peaceful One is the confused brother. There's a new chick on the block and she's stealing his thunder.

Then again, the sibling rivalry can be exhausting. It ranges from the understandable 'He's got more chocolate than me,' to the totally illogical 'She switched on the light before me.' OK then.

I do let them try and settle their own battles, but it usually ends in tears. So far, not mine.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

It's raining, it's pouring.

There's nothing like constant rain to ahem, dampen your plans. As The Boy dashed off to work leaving me contemplating a very long day, I realised how teachers felt when it's wet play. Quick, start improvising some fun!

To be fair, Minxy was off to see The Princess And The Frog, so I was only really dealing with The Peaceful One. Sadly there was no time to discuss the merits of the Disney's first black princess, as I hurried her out of the door to go with a friend.

You're left with little options on a day like today. Either stay in and slowly go mad, or do a myriad of activities which take 10 minutes to set up and five seconds to get bored with. Or go out with the view that you're going to get cold and wet. So we opted for the latter.

And so did everybody else, as the play centre we regularly go to was packed to the rafters with an hour long wait for the next session. Drats! We ended up at another soft play place instead.

Whoever came up with the phrase 'soft play' must have been a joker. There was nothing 'soft' about the play I witnessed. I watched my son repeatedly punch one of the garish padded figures, and launch plastic balls at full pelt in my direction. Perhaps it's his reaction to his new status as the middle child. Still, better out than in as they say.

We celebrated Shrove Tuesday with a dear friend of ours. There's nothing like a tasty pancake to make you generally feel better about life. It really is the little things.

Managed to claw back an evening, which was spent watching The Brits. Verdict - Peter Kay. Not funny. Loved Lady Gaga's bonkers outfit, wearing a bright orange wig wasn't really going to stop the camera's from spotting Lily Allen and what the dickens was going on with Mel B's hair? And I didn't envy Cheryl Cole having to 'perform', whilst the tabloids speculated about her marriage. Never has 'Fight For This Love' had such meaning.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Ha-pee holidays

I never intended it for it to happen. And it's not something
I'm proud of, but when nature calls what are you supposed to do?

I was feeding the baby. In the car. Like you do. When I heard the phrase which is often uttered when you're in the most awkward of places. The Peaceful One said: 'I need a wee.'

Minxy was in an art class that was being held in a church which had been converted into an arts centre. So, I took him to find a loo inside. That was the intention anyway, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. So up the side of the church he went. God's house literally peed upon. Oh dear. I did say to aim for the plants.

Anyway, after two hours of arting about, what did Minxy make? A shield out of cardboard. Man alive, we could've made that at home for a fraction of the cost. But she was happy and I'm guessing happiness costs.

One thing I have discovered is half term isn't cheap. Nevermind jetting off for a week in the sun, or hitting the slopes, the day-to-day costs can certainly rack up. I'm sure I could manage with a cool £56million lottery win.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

You've got the love

There was no breakfast in bed in our house today. Mainly because we had run out of eggs. And there were no cards. Well, not until Minxy quickly made some for everyone.

I'm not cynical about St.Valentines Day, I just didn't get the chance to buy anything. And neither did The Boy. It was a simple case of love rich, time poor. But as we looked at each other bleary-eyed at 6.30am, facing another hectic day ahead, we knew we didn't need hearts and romance. We needed dutch courage!

There's nothing like a trip to the Science Museum in half term to set your nerves jangling. Not that I actually went mind, The Boy took the older ones. And I'm sure I noticed just a few extra grey hairs upon his return.

My own hair could be turning grey by the end of the week (not that I'll really notice as it's buried deep in extensions). Half term is a beast which is a stranger to me. But I've heard of women needing to book a holiday afterwards just to recover.

I've generally worked across the holidays, but now I'm about to really have my work cut out as I become an all singing, all dancing, entertainment machine.

There will be art classes, cinema, lunches with friends and er, that's it. Oh crikey, that only takes me to Wednesday.

I'm hoping I can survive with my sanity intact.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Are you sitting comfortably?

I only wish I was. As I type my first post, I have my gorgeous six week old daughter laying across my lap.

Why? Because the poor mite is suffering from the hell that is colic and this is the only position that she finds comfortable.

For the past few hours, I've swished her and swayed her, swaddled her and shooshed her, and now I'm sat in a shattered heap, lamenting another lost evening and wondering how on earth I'll get through The Night Shift.

She's my third child and for the sake of this blog, we'll call her The Goddess. And despite the lack of sleep and all the madness that goes with this parenting malarky, she's a very welcome addition to our family.

The Goddess, joins her brother, The Peaceful One (he's anything but) and her elder sister Minxy, her dad The Boy and our cat Batty (believe me she is).

In this dual-heritage, London-based home, life is far from dull.