Sunday, 5 June 2011

Happy half term

Well that was quite a week.

Half term can either be a welcome break from the too-ing and fro-ing of school runs and work and generally being a hamster on a wheel, or it can set your nerves jangling.

What if you haven't got enough planned?

What if you have too much planned?

What if it rains all week?

I've learned that you can't live by the 'what if?' rule of thumb if children are around. You just have to go with the flow a bit.

Anyway, I can honestly say we had a cracking holiday filled with good old fashioned lolling about, picnics in parks, mixed with a bit of culture.

Highlights included:

Going to the rather marvellous V&A museum where they have a fantastic programme for children. And it doesn't have to cost the Earth.

With activities ranging from free to £3, there's enough to suit all of those on a tight budget.

We made mini portraits, which meant the children, aided with the help of V&A Photographer in Residence, Bttina von Zwehl made their own lockets. They dressed up in period clothes and then took their own portraits on the digital camera.

After the workshop, we took a stroll around the rest of the museum, trying on theatre costumes, gazing at all the beautiful artefacts on show with the highlight being a replica of Kylie Minogue's dressing room.

A diet of art, sandwiches and ice lollies made for a surprisingly stress-free adventure into town.

Later in the week we kept up the culture with a trip to Hampton Court.

The lovely people at Fairy sent us there for a fun day.

And what fun we had.

Junior Saunders hosted the day and his chirpy style of presented kept the troops well and truly happy.

Face painting and balloon modelling were done by the rather marvellous Bubble Pops - who have entertained the great and the good and are just crying out for their own TV show.

Then it was down to the competitions. The children did an egg and spoon race. The Peaceful One won and Minxy came third.

After the festivities, it was off to have a look around ol' Henry VIII's palace and gardens.

Having grown up in the area I've been tons of times, but it still never stops being amazing.

Fairy are encouraging little legs to get moving and if you click over onto their Facebook page - there are tons of activites for you and your chiddlers to enjoy. And you can rest assured that the grass stains obtained from all that running about will come out easily with Fairy! Go check it out.

Finally, we topped off the week with a spot of strawberry picking. Or should that be strawberry eating, as we munched our way (and filled up a couple of punnets) around Garsons Farm.

There's nothing more satisfying that picking fruit. In the sunshine.

Ok, so The Goddess was a wee bit fiddly, gobbling mud as well as strawberries, but all in all, it was the perfect end to a perfect week.

Never thought I'd hear myself say that.

Motherhood really is full of surprises.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


So, another year older and possibly another year wiser.

All I know is that having a birthday is the perfect opportunity for thinking about life in general.

Who knew that turning 36 would be such a milestone? I just thought it was one of those 'nothing special' birthdays sandwiched between 35 and 40. But no, I am beginning to wonder if I'm starting to get that dreaded affliction of oldladyitis.

The symptoms were hard to spot at first, but now I'm wondering if they've actually been brewing for some time.

I realised something was amiss when on holiday last month in France I became obsessed with jugs. Porcelain, enamel, handcrafted, it didn't matter what they were made from, I just had to have them. And so I scoured the markets, collecting this item which had previously brought no joy into my life, like a mad woman.

'What are you going to do with them?' said, The Boy.

'No idea, they just look nice.' I replied.

I've also started to get into gardening. Anybody who knows me, will know that as much as I like plants, it is possibly the worst gift you could buy me, as I will guarantee its life will be over within a week. Trust me, I can even kill a cactus.

Now when I mean 'get into gardening', I actually mean it. I've been looking at blogs, gardening websites, and like everything. My neighbour who is a whizz at all things green, has even taken pity on me and is giving me a hands-on horticultural session every weekend to sort out our garden.

My latest project actually suggests I might already be in the advanced stages of oldladyitis, because I've started up a book club. With my brain barely managing to digest anything more taxing than Heat magazine, I figured this is one sure way to limber up the ol' grey matter again. And it's a chance to have to catch up with those who just about get a 'Hello. How are you?' as I bundle three kids into the car on a daily basis.

So I'm jug collecting, gardening, starting a reading group, so far so dull. Then I remember I own a bread making machine, and I also love crafts. OMG - it's practically game over.

All this, is seriously denting the 'What do you mean I'm not 28?' stance I've been rocking the past few years. I might as well live in Wisteria Lane because I'm fast becoming a desperate housewife.

And After seeing the Tracey Emin exhibition today, I now want to gem up on how to appliqué.

Can you ever thwart the symptoms which take you from one foot in the rave to one foot in middle age?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Jean Genie

It's taken over six years, but I've finally done it.

With a wiggle and a squeeze, a huff and a puff, I managed to get into my pre-children jeans.

Woo hoo!

For those blessed with good genes and a fast metabolism rate (p.s. I hate you), this might have been a doddle. But having three kids in six years has taken its toll on my waistline, which has been up and down more times than a tarts knickers.

Last year with my family completed, I made it my goal to get into a pair of my favourite jeans that hadn't seen the outside world since I stopped wearing them whilst being six months pregnant with Minxy.

It's a wonder that they're still in fashion considering Natasha Beddingfield was number one at the time. Luckily, you can't go wrong with straight-legged dark denim.

I read somewhere that if you want to achieve your diet goal, put a picture of yourself looking fabulous on the fridge to ward away temptation. Hanging my jeans on the front of my wardrobe was the visual equivalent.

Having kick started my goal by joining Weight Watchers, I initially dropped a decent amount of baby weight. Then I signed up to do a 10k charity run to keep the momentum going.

Running regularly kept muffin top at bay, plus I joined a local group of mums who ran around the area twice a week. Before long, I was really getting into this exercising lark, and I signed up to do The MoonWalk with bunch of friends. We're going to walk a half marathon around the streets of London this May. At Night. In our bras. Yes, we are crazy, but it's all in the name of raising money for breast cancer causes.

Anyway, all this running about has led to busting those baby pounds once and for all. Well, nearly.

Plus, there's nothing like catching the vomit bug from your children, followed by excruciating toothache to decrease your food intake.

I still have a little way to go mind. When I tried on the jeans, I did that sucking in your tummy-whilst-bent-double thing in order to get the button to meet the button hole.

And I actually couldn't walk that comfortably. Um, or sit down. But you know what? I blinking did it, and in a few months I'll hopefully be slinking around in them properly.

The old me is just a matter of months away....

Saturday, 5 February 2011

You've been framed

Woah, doesn't time just fly by?

For the past month, I've been working on a project for the house.

I have a big blank wall that has been waiting to be filled with pictures.

For years.

You know what it's like, you have a gazillion digital pictures on your computer and keep meaning to print them out and frame them.

But you never do.

Before you know it, another year has passed. A thousand pictures later, you're back to square one looking at them, but not doing anything with them.

Then there is that fear lurking in the back of your mind. What if one day your computer just died?

All those memories were gone. In an instant.


We've done the sensible thing and invested in some whizzy bang back up thingy, but what if that went kaput?

Double wah!

This year I decided enough is enough.

So the conclusion is: Must. Print. Them. Out.

It was actually the fabulous people at Photobox who got me motivated.

After submitting a picture of the children taken from a recent photoshoot, they sent me a complimentary canvas. It was beautiful. Thanks guys.

The quality was fantastic and I would highly recommend them, plus starting at a affordable £22.99 for a canvas print (excluding postage) you could treat yourself or loved ones without breaking the bank.

Receiving the picture made me think 'cripes, the kids will be at uni before I get this wall completed.'

Now, anyone who knows me, knows I'm a little bit artsy and a little bit crafty. And as we're still in the midst of an economic crisis, I'm trying to think up fabulous ideas on a limited budget.

Along with lovely shiny frames I already have, I've been buying up old frames and giving them a new lease of life.

It's dead simple and the result looks marvellous.

All I've done is repainted the frame using a tester pot and covered the mount with some cool wrapping paper.

These were originally gold with a white mount. Now they are a lot more interesting to look at.

Easy peasy.

You can do it too. All you need to do is buy some frames - pick up good quality (but affordable) ones from car boot sales, charity shops, gumtree, freecycle, and eBay.

Take out the picture and you're ready to go.

Everyone has tester pots lying around. So make use of them.

Nice wrapping paper doesn't have to cost the earth. Places like Paperchase, Scribbler, and independent shops all do nice individual sheets of paper. Or just trot to the supermarket and pick some up from there.

You could even use fabric or wallpaper samples for a contrast.

The plan is to continue to 'upcycle' some more frames, print out our pictures, and finally mount them all at the same time.

It's going to take a while, but I'll show you the results when I've finished.

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?