Tuesday, 31 December 2013

No resolutions - in 2014 I have plans...

I've decided that I'm not making resolutions. It's always the same thing anyway, lose weight, win the lottery, get a real job, etc. so this year I've decided that it's far more productive to make plans rather than resolutions. There's a built in failure with resolutions that I am just not going to entertain any more. So, this time I'm being pro-active and setting myself goals with proper time stamps on them. I've made a decent start on the nuts and bolts ones:

Grapefruit, porridge and a cup of tea
- eating smaller portions and making healthier choices (except for today at lunch). This includes making sure I get myself something to eat as well as getting food for the boy and Hubbie. I may even get to drink a cup of tea or a piece of toast before it goes cold !! If this one lasts once Hubbie is back at work and the boy is at nursery I will have cracked it ! 

- trying to get to bed earlier every night so that I'm not permanently tired and grumpy. It is entirely my fault that I sit up with the macbook on my lap late at night rather than snuggling under my gorgeous duvet with Hubbie. I'm making an effort to get this one right.  

- making a choice to dress in my nice clothes rather than just wearing 'staying home' clothes all the time. It's fine to wear sweat pants for a trip to the swimming pool, but to still be wearing them to go to the shops is not ok (any more). 

manicured nails - putting on a least eye liner and lippie to leave the house. I'm an Avon lady so I own more make up than the beauty counters at Selfridges. What's the point in having that much make up and never wearing it ? 

Then we have the stuff that's in the diary that will help me meet some of those other 'goals' (repeat after me - goals not resolutions):

January: There is a part time job and a training scheme that I am going to apply for that both represent things I am interested in doing and that I think I can do.
This is instead of 'get a well paid job.' I can also use the make up and nice clothes ones for this.

February: Team Honk Blogger relay from Lands End to John O'Groats. I'm part of the London leg and there is talk of four person cycles being an integral part of our section of the challenge. My dodgy knees will have to be up for this one as I am not going to wimp out and be the one that carries the water bottles !! Bring on the t-shirts ladies (and Spencer), I'm ready !!
This is to replace the usual, 'lose weight' as the other bloggers include very glamorous ones who I refuse to look lardy next to !

May: I did the full Moonwalk five years ago and I've signed up to do the half Moonwalk with my lovely friend Soraya this Summer. We're going to have such a laugh, not least as we can talk constantly for hours so the time will just fly by ! From memory it's pretty tough going, but I loved training for it and it got me very fit indeed doing all the walking.
This one is instead of the generic, 'get fit.'

June: We've bought tickets to a festival that the Pixies are headlining in London. It's a grown up day out and while I don't think seeing an act outdoors is the best way to do it, this is to get over my aversion to festivals. I'm sure it won't be all mud and botulism burgers really.
This one is to replace the 'do things with Hubbie.'

me and hubbie doing a selfie August: Last Summer me and Hubbie went to the Edge of the Sea two day festival in Brighton and loved it. Our boy stayed with Grandma and Grandpa (aka Grumps) and he loved that too. This time we're going to book a nice hotel and make a weekend of it instead of constantly ringing to check if he's eaten and if he's missing us.
This one is in place of, 'give the boy some independence.'

In September our boy will turn 4 and in October we'll celebrate 8 years of marriage. By that time I hope to have made great progress with my goals for the year. I hope in my round up of 2014 I'll be saying, "I love it when a plan comes together" while chomping on a pretend cigar rather than, "I ain't getting on no plane sucker" while sipping a glass of milk that's been spiked with knock out drops.

Whatever you are doing to see in the New Year I hope you have a wonderful time.

See you on the other side :o)

Sunrise

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Do you remember when … ?

It's that time of year when all the programmes are a look back at the last year so I thought in the spirit of that I'd post a few random thoughts about what I can remember of the last 12 months. It's not in any order particularly and I may well leave out something pretty momentous purely as I've forgotten. So here is my year in headlines:

The Write Stuff: In terms of my blogger life I attended two conferences that taught me an amazing amount and where I met some lovely fellow bloggers who I have learned so much from. Special mention goes to Jennifer Jain who has given me some really great advice and help - you are a lovely lady :o)

Music is the food of love: The radio show I do with Hubbie has been great fun to work on and we're thinking of new themes all the time. It's great being able to share an interest that we have and to have something to show for it in the form of podcasts. We really do have great fun and hope to do more shows this year and grow the audience for both His & Hers and my show Are We Nearly There Yet ?

David Bowie
It's never too late: At the beginning of this year David Bowie created a media 'event' when he released a new single on the internet - followed by an album - without any fanfare or publicity. Most of the surprise was because it was assumed he'd semi -retired from music. I absolutely adore Bowie and thought it was a beautiful single. Just goes to show it's never too late to surprise people.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside: Closer to home this was the first summer that we have attended the Edge of the Sea two day festival in Brighton and left our son with his grandparents for the weekend. It took me a full day to get used to being without him, but I think I could cope with doing it again this year. I hope so as me and Hubbie have plans to go to more gigs in 2014 and even to take the little man to some family friendly festivals.

Thank you for the days: We took the plunge and decided our boy was ready for days out at theme parks this summer too. He loved Paultons Park - the home of Peppa Pig World - so much that we took him twice. Chessington was also a lovely day out that we were lucky to be invited to try as a family. I think Legoland might be on the cards next summer. 

Eye eye: In hypochondria corner I found my eyes going funny and thought I might be developing diabetes - I know, it's almost comical isn't it ? Finally I went to get my eyes tested and discovered I need varifocals. Hubbie stifled his hilarity and helpfully suggested we look at the Stannah range. Yes I did give him a hard - if myopic - stare. 

Don't believe the hype: Having avoided it for a long time I finally played Candy Crush and did indeed find it to be mildly addictive. I also tried to watch Breaking Bad and just couldn't get into it. I will try again, but if it hasn't gripped me so far it's not looking good. I became hooked on Mad Men and watched a whole series in two weeks on the train journey to work. After again trying to avoid it I gave in and watched one episode of Game of Thrones and that was it, I had to watch them all. My friend who is always ahead on telly trends was delighted as she can now talk to me about it and when I watch an episode I invariably send her a text message declaring, "That Joffrey needs a good kicking."

Game of Thrones

You're a big boy now: This was the year that not only did we manage to get the boy out of nappies, but also graduated from a cot to a big boy bed. I recall everyone telling me that the time passes really quickly when your children are young and it is so true. It seems only days ago that he was a newborn baby sleeping next to me and I carefully took away his blanket to find he was asleep on his front with his limbs all tucked under his body like a cat. It made me smile even in my new parent insomniac state.

Goodbye and farewell: Our lovely neighbour passed away after being ill for a few months. He'd been like another grandparent to our boy and as he grew weaker through illness our boy learned to be gentle and kind with this man who loved seeing our boy grow from a baby to a toddler. It was very sad even though it wasn't entirely unexpected.

In the public eye there were the deaths of two high profile political figures - Thatcher and Mandela. One who I despised with my very being and the other who had a bar at my uni named after him - which I know is hardly unique. I think it's enough to say I didn't know either of them, but the two events were big enough to warrant a mention here. 

Stop me if you've heard this one before: And in the dying embers of the year another singer whose name begins with B released an album online to the apparent surprise of everyone. Beyonce caused a stir with this supposed 'never before' phenomenon (oh how forgetful the media are) and the album has been a massive success.

So, it's now almost the end of 2013 and I've decided to start my resolutions early to give myself a fighting chance, but that's a whole other post for the start of 2014.

Friday, 27 December 2013

My 12 faves of Christmas :o)

So that's Christmas for another year then. This was the first one that my boy really could participate in and it was delightful. I'm not usually all that good with the festive season, but this year I had plenty of time to plan and get ready so by the time we got to the actual celebrations I wasn't nearly as stressed as usual.

Now I'm ready for a holiday and the lovely folks at Center Parcs are offering a prize that I think my very active boy would love. I agree wholeheartedly with their Winter Wonderland expert Nick Oot when he suggests keeping active and spending time outdoors. Winter walks and spending time outside help keep me sane and me and Hubbie went on a horse and carriage ride on our honeymoon in New York and haven't been on once since so we wouldn't mind giving that a go if we won :o)

Anyway, as we've all made it out the other side of Christmas - and more to the point have climbed out from under the mountain of presents that the boy received - here are my 12 favourite things about Christmas:
International Space Station
  • Thanks to the International Space Station being visible in the sky on Christmas Eve our boy was able to witness 'Santa's sleigh' going past and his reaction was absolutely magical as he squealed with delight and clapped his hands over his wide open mouth. 
  • This is the first year our boy has been genuinely excited about Father Christmas as he is old enough now to understand. My parents never let us believe in him as they didn't want to give credit for all their hard work to some fat bearded white bloke when it was a fat bearded indian bloke and his wife who had earned the money. 
  • The diversity of Santas this year has been inspiring. We've seen young and old ones, all ethnicities and last weekend we had breakfast with a female Santa. The boy wasn't at all fazed by all this variety and took it all in his stride. 
  • In our house it is traditional that Hubbie cooks the Christmas dinner. He really enjoys doing it and I like not having to do it. Me and the boy lay the table and choose the decorations and crackers while he toils in the kitchen. Long may it continue ! 
  • Hubbie hates sprouts, but he always cooks them as it's traditional. This year - after much cajoling - my boy tried one and declared it to be, "yummy." Hubbie was horrified and dismayed at this act of betrayal. I said if he truly did like them he'd have eaten more than the obligatory one. 
  • The boy has been occupied by watching the Cbeebies Christmas Carol this week. He's really enjoyed it and I'm chuffed as it was based on a proper story that eventually he'll hopefully read too. 
  • It seems that our boy is forming stronger bonds of affection with us. I know he loves us, but this year he actually missed us when he stayed with my parents for Christmas Eve. We returned on Christmas morning to pick him up and he was emotional when he saw us both. It broke my heart a little, but I also felt a bit glad. 
    Kew Bridge
  • Staying in a hotel near Kew Bridge on Christmas Eve meant me and Hubbie were able to do something we haven't done since our boy was born - not that, don't be filthy ! We went for a run on Christmas morning along Kew Bridge and the Thames Path on what was a gorgeous, crisp and sunny morning
  • Driving back from the in-laws today our boy was heckling us from the back of the car singing Christmas songs. It was even more hilarious as when I went to his nursery last week to watch the performance of the same songs he sat there staring at the others while dressed as a golden star. 
  • We kept ourselves amused in the traffic jam by creating sentences from car number plates. eg. E5P GYH becomes Easy Pickle, Grab Your Hat ! Oh well I guess you had to be there.  
  • I got a soup maker and an ice cream maker for Christmas - hurrah ! It's homemade soup and sorbets all the way for us now (well until I get bored of liquid food that is !)
And my favourite thing of all about Christmas is:
  • Time off at home with the family. Whether it's the grandparents, aunties and uncles spoiling the boy or just us three at home. I love that our boy gets to come and lie in bed with us and watch telly or to have breakfast at a leisurely pace or that we can take him to the park to ride his scooter.  That Hubbie doesn't have to wake up before everyone is awake to get ready for work. That we get to have days together rather than hours. Yep that's the best thing about Christmas for me. 
Christmas decorations

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 December challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Elvedon Forest.

Monday, 23 December 2013

'tis the season to take the kids out

I know it's just about to be Christmas and you have plans up the yin yang with family, friends and assorted hangers on who you met on holiday and now have to send cards to. However, school holidays being as they are there will be a period between bank holidays and the children going back when they will be at home with you while you try and find another use for leftover turkey and keep telling yourself that you'll diet tomorrow - after all the chocolates are finished.

On my radio show the most popular topic is days out with kids and I am a keen advocate of cheap or free things to do as a family. Being one of 4 siblings we knew every place that you could go to for nothing and living in London made it even easier as we had all the parks, museums and various city farms to visit too.

Winter is no less fruitful for days out so here is my seasonal round up of my top things to do with kids (mostly in London - sorry, it's where I live so I know it best !)

my boy enjoying a winter wonderland scene
Christmas lights: 

As kids we always went into central London to see the Christmas lights and my Dad would drive the car while we peered out of the windows and went 'Ooh' and 'Aah' at the amazing illuminations. In those heady pre-congestion charge days he also used to stop outside Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nicks, Dickens and Jones and Hamleys so we could get out and look at the Christmas window displays. I still love the windows and hope to take my son when he's old enough to enjoy them. We also go and see the local houses that have decorated their front gardens and windows with themed lights and inflatable snowmen and santas. My son loves it and it's all free !  Some of them do collect donations for children's charities - which has to be worth it to justify the electricity bill :)

Meet Father Christmas:

Kiddicare father christmas grotto
Now I know that grottos aren't strictly free, but I have found some really reasonable activities for kids. Kiddicare are doing a workshop with Santa's elves where you sing songs, make reindeer food and meet the big man and he gives the children a present. Our closest store did all this for £3 and I'm pretty sure the gift is worth more than that ! We both enjoyed this one very much and will definitely be doing it again if they do it next year.

Another one that was local to us was by the Beefeater that does a 'breakfast with Father Christmas' where adults pay for breakfast, kids eat free and Father Christmas goes around the tables to say hello to the children and they all get a small something (a pencil or bag of sweets). We've never been to this venue before so it was a nice treat to have a big Sunday brunch and our boy loved the breakfast buffet almost as much as meeting FC !! I think next year we will invite grandparents too as they might like it. 

Real reindeer: 

Where we live there are quite a few garden centres and some of them have real reindeer - and in one case Canadian huskies - visiting for the Christmas season. I took my boy to see some early in December and he was a little baffled - none of the reindeer had a red nose for a start. Visiting is free and I always check that they are animal welfare friendly before taking my boy as it's important to me. 

Woodland walk: 

walking in the woods with my boy
On a rare sunny day last week I took the boy on a walk in our neighbourhood where we have woodlands and some great walking routes. He really loved it and I'm keen to do this with him more often as it's something we've not done much of in the past, but as he's older now and can walk further without getting tired it's great fun. While doing this one you can also look for ...

Pine cones, acorns, holly & berries:

Every year Hubbie prepares Christmas dinner and we go into the garden to pick holly and berries for a table centrepiece. We are lucky that we have it in our garden, but there is plenty of holly growing on bushes along the path that runs past our house. It is a bit tricky so you might need to take scissors and wear gloves, but it's lovely to have holly, acorns and pine cones that you have picked up yourself as decorations in the house. My rule is nothing muddy though - if it's not dry we don't pick it up !

If you want to hear more seasonal ideas for days out here are the links to my shows:

Are We Nearly There Yet ? Winter Wonderland

Are We Nearly There Yet ? Winter Fun

I'll be back with another post about fun winter things to do with kids the other side of Christmas :o) 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Festive Five Father Christmases

It's only four sleeps until Christmas and to celebrate I'm sharing my top five Santa pics from the last few weeks.

We're having breakfast with Father Christmas tomorrow morning before he gets all busy with the present giving. I don't about the boy, but I'm very excited !!

So, in no particular order:







Traditional Father Christmas in a lovely grotto at Birdworld in Hampshire














Kardy Laguda - not quite the Santa you would expect after a one hour workout at the Kardy Christmas Dance Party

















Trainer wearing Father Christmas (who my boy pointed out looked a lot like Coach John)
















Santa Baby - my personal favourite


















A very impressive Father Christmas complete with Elves !

Thursday, 19 December 2013

In a week it'll all be over...


This year I feel like I've actually got the hang of this Christmas lark. 

The presents are all wrapped and under the tree - apart from the boy's pressies of course. Father Christmas is bringing those over on Xmas Eve as arranged.  

my boy as SantaI've bought my veggie main for the big day just in case Hubbie can't find the nut loaf he got a few years ago that was fab and has never been seen again.

Cards have all been posted - yes even overseas ones - I know, get me !!

Now we are into full kid mode starting with Christmas songs and mince pies at nursery today. There was stage fright and tantrums (from adults and tots) and when they all came out in their little costumes we all went "AAAWWWWW" - not a dry eye in the house ! My boy looked at me, spotted grandparents in the audience and said (loudly), "Mummy, where's Grandma ?" I smiled and hid behind my iPad videoing his refusal to sing along. Ironic considering he's serenaded me on the car every day so far with songs about snowmen and Santa's seasonal mishaps.

Tomorrow he has a Christmas party with sports, party games, food and a special appearance from Father Christmas himself - whether or not he will be in football kit is as yet unconfirmed. 

On Friday we'll be singing with elves, preparing reindeer food and meeting Santa before going to another party at nursery. 

On Sunday we're having breakfast with Father Christmas. I'm not sure what he's having, but I'm looking forward to eating breakfast out - a luxury normally reserved for holidays only !!

My dad and my boy Finally I have a Christmas Eve bag ready for his overnight stay with my parents. The red bag (naturally) contains festive new pyjamas, lovely Xmas books, a soft toy and I'm sure a few festive treats will find their way in too. My Dad's birthday is on Christmas Eve so it's a double celebration and my boy will get to spend it with his beloved Nani-mummy (my Mum) and Nanaji (my Dad). We get to spend it in a hotel *beams widely.*

If all of this seems a bit over the top I should explain. Last year my boy didn't see Father Christmas at all. He was supposed to at the nursery Christmas party, but on the day they had a power cut so the party was cancelled. I tried - in vain - to get him into one of the myriad grottos within the M25, but it was too late and they were all booked up. I'm pretty sure I was more gutted than he was !!


So this year I've ensured he's got multiple opportunities to meet the big man. He's going to feel like a member of the family by next week. 

Of course the boy isn't too worried because he knows his Nanaji is the real one :o) 

Post Christmas flop out


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Of mice & men (& cats)

Christmas presents in a pile I was sorting out the Christmas presents that I've bought so far into piles on the floor of the front room yesterday. I do this every year so I can see if everyone has roughly the same number - important when
you have siblings - and I always have far too many for Hubbie and the boy and a much smaller pile for my Dad. He has fewer despite having a birthday on Christmas Eve and it's because he has no hobbies or interests and is not the most gracious at receiving presents. I always buy him something, but long gone are the days when I tried to get things he'd like and now I make sure it's something he can use. As a family we used to always play safe and give him Baileys or whiskey and lots of chocolate, but a few years ago he was told he was diabetic so the 'safe' presents became anything but. It does lead to some genuinely unimaginative present choices like gloves on his birthday and a matching scarf on Christmas Day - which of course he says he doesn't need.

Anyway, the present sorting, then wrapping and transporting to give to various family and friends is an annual event so our cat has witnessed it for a few years now. That is the only way I can explain what happened this morning. Before I tell you the story you need to know some pertinent facts:

1. I am short-sighted, not badly, but enough for things to appear blurry if I'm not wearing glasses

2. From the beginning I believed Neo - the cat - was a buddhist with 'love all living things' attitude to life

3. There are a lot of leaves in our garden and when Neo comes inside the house he often has them stuck in his tail

white cat and computer mouseSo this morning I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea and getting some breakfast when I heard the cat flap clatter shut and heard Neo announce his arrival. I glanced over at him and said, "Morning Neo, been bringing in leaves again have we ? Ooh that's a big one isn't it ?" As I went to leave the kitchen the 'leaf' scurried past my foot. My screams alerted Hubbie (eventually) and he came down to deal with the matter still wet from the shower and holding his towel round him in one hand and - after some coaxing - the mouse in another. Then I remembered how he used to hide Neo's kills from me so that I would not be disabused of my insane belief in the cat's non-existent buddhism. They were in it together. Neo bringing in gifts and Hubbie taking them outside again.

So the cat is channeling his inner feline Santa and Hubbie is enacting a literal interpretation of Mice and Men.

Ho Ho Ho.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Black Thoughts and Blue Skies.

www.robot-hugs.com
Today this cartoon appeared on my timeline and I felt so moved by it that I shared it. It's taken from a website called www.robot-hugs.com which you should check out - it really is quite lovely.

I was moved by this because the sentiment in it is so important for those who don't live with depression to understand. It's not always possible for someone with depression to express what is wrong or what they need. I remember my housemates in a shared house at Uni asking me why I was the way I was and being so confused and tearful I just didn't know what to say. It didn't matter how much Rachel harangued me to explain I just didn't know. I still don't really.

Just as one of my other Uni housemates used to play Pink Floyd and lock herself away sometimes and be really excited and happy at other times and we just accepted that was who she was. When she was sad we would be around, but not in her face and when she was manic we'd be carried along by her enthusiasm and rapid fire chat and laughter. I've since found out she has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and this was what we were witnessing, but without any knowledge of it. I like to think we were not a hindrance to her and that she knew it was a safe space to be herself in.

Fuck this shit. I'm going to Narnia
It's not always possible to know what you need to make you feel better. Equally it isn't always easy to know what to offer to do. When my closest friend almost died (actually she technically did die and came back) I went to see her in hospital and I asked what she needed. She said she had everything - her ipad, fruit, etc. I thought for a minute then said, "do you want me to wash your hair ?" She looked so relieved and said, "Yes ! That's just what I need." I'd taken a guess because I remembered being in hospital with my newborn son and just wanting clean hair. It made such a difference.

Sometimes is isn't much, but it's just something. When my first marriage broke up and I moved back to my parents' home I was in a daze. It was a miserable time and I didn't know what I was going to do. My sister was living at home and she came to the room where I was going to sleep and said, "shall I sit with you until you fall asleep ?" I had no idea what I needed or wanted, but at that moment I knew that I didn't want to be by myself. My sister brought in a chair and sat next to my bed in silence. She stayed there in the dark until I nodded off. It was the single most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me.

This is a difficult time of year for so many people. The weight of expectation is so high and we are all supposed to be having a wonderful time. If you aren't full of festive cheer it can be impossible to be around people who are. It's ok to feel sad, or angry, or fed up, or nothing.

If you are around someone who is depressed bear in mind that you may not be able to do anything. Just being there might also be just enough.

blue sky





www.mind.org.uk

www.sane.org.uk

Saturday, 7 December 2013

P…p…p…pick up a penguin - for Christmas

Christmas decorations and a cat

It's a bit of a challenge describing my perfect Christmas as I struggle to remember any that we had before our boy came along. It wasn't like we didn't do anything, but I just can't recall specifics. There was food, there were gifts, there was drinking and often a lot of travelling between families. Seasonal car hire was a feature as was the frantic working out how to operate the fog lights after dark when we were on the M3.

There are some things that make Christmas feel quite special for me and they're not exactly original or exciting, but I will share.


Christmas decorations:  

I remember wandering around the brand new Westfield branch of M&S with my friend Natasha and buying glass tree decorations for the tree. I still have them, but they are packed away safely out of reach of toddler hands and there are ornaments made of wood, felt and even metal on the tree now. This year we have chocolate decorations for the first time - just for the boy. Last year nursery also sent home some of his handiwork - which made me suspicious as he never does any crafting all year so how he was inspired to make a fairy and a tree all at once was beyond me. Anyway, they are the best decorations on my tree. And they're not breakable.

Homemade fairy tree with stuck on stars

Costumes for the boy:

Ok he may well hold this against me when he's an adult, but for now the boy is my dressing up dolly and I love it.


The first year he was baby Santa
Santa baby


Then he was an elf
Elf

Then he was a reindeer
reindeer with wooden spoon

This year I have bought a penguin outfit - he wanted the Gruffalo one, but it's not strictly Christmassy and it comes with a big furry head that will never get worn. Nope, trust me, penguin is the way to go.


Christmas dinner tableChristmas Dinner: 

We always go to my parents on Christmas Eve as it's my Dad's birthday. It means we are off the hook on Christmas Day if we choose to do something else. Hubbie likes to make Christmas dinner - and I'm no idiot, I don't argue - so I get to spend time arranging the table.

I pick out the crackers, choose the tablecloth, napkins and then me and the boy muck about while Hubbie toils away in the kitchen. It's proper relaxing and I don't even have to help with peeling or prepare any veggies. Result !!


rabbit and dog under mistletoeMistletoe: 

I like traditions so every year I buy mistletoe and last year we taught our boy that you kiss under it. He looked up at it and walked away. After that he kept giving it a wide berth and ran off when aunties came to visit just in case.

I was told years ago that it's good luck to keep mistletoe in your house all year round which is the excuse I'm using for it still being up from last year.


toddler in the snow Snow: 

Of course there is always speculation about whether or not it will be a white Christmas and when it does snow it is great fun as we live on a hill which is perfect for sledging on. I have already bought a sledge just in case.

It's not the same as the kind of snow you get on a skiing holiday, but if it does come down this year I may borrow some skis and pretend I'm in the Alps. I'll also overcharge myself for a hot chocolate and wait in line for ages to get back up the hill again.


My perfect Christmas: 

yoga shack in KeralaNow it's time for some proper honesty. For all that I love the homely nature of Christmas and the food and the costumes and the fairy lights, I'd rather be on holiday.

I'd love to wake up in Kerala where I can practise yoga first thing in the morning and do nothing all day other than read a book by the pool. That would be my perfect Christmas.

For now, anywhere I can be with Hubbie and my boy will be just perfect.

”Merry Christmas! This post is my entry into the Tots100/Argos 12 Days of Christmas competition.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Juice Bar: 80 recipes to boost health

fruit and vegetables laid out beautifully
If you're anything like me and love gadgets I'm sure you will - at some point - have either owned or coveted a juicer. Gone are the days when a citrus press was all you needed or a blender at most. Now we have sophisticated machines for home use that can reproduce the kind of fab juices you get in fancy noodle bars. I received a juicer for Christmas a few years back and to my shame it has been horrifically underused. Partly because I find it a faff to clean just to make some plain old orange juice and I'm not confident to step outside the safe and tried and trusted single flavours that I know.
tomato juice recipe
The lovely folks at Parragon sent me this book that might inspire me to use this poor unloved machine a bit more as it contains great recipes for juices and some that would help me finish off the leftovers of both fruit and veg that inevitably inhabit our fridge from time to time.

The photos are beautiful and give you an idea of how to mix different combinations of ingredients to create delicious flavours - rather than the weird looking sludge that I end up with when I get all 'experimental.' I can see the tummy treat coming in handy during this season of overindulgence and there are some delicious drinks that would be great as non-alcoholic alternatives for Christmas parties too.
vegetable tunny treat recipe
For anyone planning a New Year health kick there are lots of cleansing juices and healthy ones that will help keep you on track with your good intentions. From antioxidant boosters to energy drinks there is a wide range to try. If you have little ones who aren't great at eating fruit or veg this might be a good way to sneak some vitamins into their diet without them knowing about it too !

The Juice Bar: 80 recipes to boost health




If you've asked Santa for a juicer you might do well to also ask for this book as well. It would make the perfect accompaniment (and it's easier to wrap than a juicer !)

You can buy The Juice Bar here - Happy Juicing !




Disclosure: I was sent this book to write an honest review as a Parragon Book Buddy. 


Monday, 2 December 2013

Rebranding Mummy

Lined up family wellies
I've given notice for my (unpaid) role as PR for Hubbie. Since our boy was born I have been cheerleader in chief for Team Daddy and now - after three years - I've decided to reconfigure the use of my resources. I'm now working on Project: Rebrand Mummy.

A family friend told me (before we were parents) how frustrating it was that her children clearly preferred Daddy to her, despite her doing the day to day caring and 'dirty work' of parenting. Now don't get me wrong her hubbie is a hands on dad, but she's a hands on Mum and didn't feel she got any credit for it. She put it down to all the work she did as Mummy telling the kids how much Daddy loved them and how he was thinking of them even while he was at work all day. I now know what she was talking about. 

I'm now doing the every day stuff of parenting a toddler and remind him how much Daddy loves him and how much Daddy looks forward to bedtime stories and bathtime when he comes home from a long day at work. All of which is true of course. However, I have written myself out of the fun stuff by letting Daddy have the intimacy of bath and bedtime stories. I get the moody, not eating breakfast, don't want to go to nursery, not putting my shoes on today, standing on the front step refusing to get into the car bit of the day instead. I also get the post nursery tired and grumpy, not eating that, want to watch telly, no I'm not going to take off my shoes bit.

No. 1 Dad card made by my boy
Then at the weekend they go to football together and I am told that "Daddy is my best friend." Yesterday we took the boy to meet Santa and I said afterwards, "Go and give Daddy a big hug and say thanks for driving us to see Santa and Percy Penguin." which he dutifully did. I waited patiently for Hubbie to say, "and give Mummy a big hug and say thank you (for booking it, paying for it, packing a lunch for us to eat and programming the sat nav with the postcode so we could find it)." Nothing. We all got in the car, I passed him an apple and he said thanks.

No one is working for Team Mummy. There's no-one selling the benefits of 24 hour hands-on bespoke parenting by a trusted professional. It's not being advertised that Mummy wants to be the fun one sometimes. 

That is now going to change. I've decided that the job of selling brand Daddy is done and now I'm taking on Brand Mummy. This is going to make the Olympics look like a school sports day. It's going to have impact in more territories than a zombie attack in a bad movie. In short, this will be the biggest thing to happen in Mummydom since satchels made a comeback. 

I did some blue sky thinking and here are my initial ideas:

  • When he says he doesn't want porridge for breakfast I'm I'm going to be relaxed about it, or make toast. 
  • I'm going to be less, "Put your socks on," and more, "Hey buddy, let's go outside and do fun stuff. Who needs socks anyway ?"
  • If he trots off to the really big slide in the park, "that Daddy always lets me go on." I'm going to smile and say (through gritted teeth) "that's a great idea !"
  • On his refusal to wear a safety helmet when riding his scooter I'll say, "Really ? Are you serious ? Put it on !" - What ? I said I'm going to be fun Mummy not A&E Mummy !
Now you may feel similarly aggrieved at the lack of appreciation of your role in your household so take a marker pen and instead of Brand Mummy replace with your chosen epithet. Whether you are one of two Daddys, two Mummys, a parent going it alone, a carer, a grandparent or any other type of 'parent figure.'  Let's rebrand the unpopular/unappreciated one.

Come on - we can do this ! 

Who's with me ? 
lost bear at tram stop









Sunday, 1 December 2013