Wednesday, 30 December 2015

It's all been a bit of a blur...

At the beginning of 2015 I knew a couple of things:

1. I was signed up to do a 6 hour danceathon for Comic Relief with my Team Honk chums and
2. There was a possibility that we would have a new child joining our family. 

Yep we danced for 6 hours !! 

I was a bit blasé about taking part in the Danceathon at Wembley Arena, but as the date drew closer I started to realise that I couldn't take a lot with me so I would have to think about how much to carry. There were all sorts of transport issues so I had to work out a route which would enable me to get there - and home again - without too much hassle. In the end it was an amazing - and tiring - day. I learned lots of dance moves, kept going for the whole event, we raised a massive amount of money for charity and the entire audience (on TV too) saw Mummy Barrow's bum. 

On a more sober note the reality of adoption really hit home in the Spring. We talked to Big Boy about how he felt and prepared ourselves for the matching panel. It was nerve wracking and frightening, but we did the best we could. Thankfully we found out almost immediately that we had been matched and could proceed to meeting him a week later.

The world changed completely on the 2nd April when Baby Boy came to live with us.

It also opened the door to an old friend. I found myself enveloped by overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and the inability to cope with 2 boys fighting for my attention and sibling rivalry on a level that even as one of four I had never experienced. It took months before I said out loud that I might have post-adoption depression. Hardly surprising as I'd had post-natal depression, but I wasn't even aware of the phenomenon applying to adoption too. I'm still working through it, but at least it now has a name.

I did a skydive - on board a cruise ship ! 

Not long after he came to us we were invited by Royal Caribbean to take part in an inaugural cruise on the Anthem of the Seas. It worked out that me and Big Boy went on the cruise and Baby Boy and Hubbie went to stay with Grandma so we had some special one to one time with a boy each. I've never been on a cruise before so it was really exciting and me and Big Boy did some exciting things like going for a sky dive on the deck and I also learned trapeze. It was terrifying - you could hear the clanking of the scaffolding as I climbed up to the bar because I was shaking so much, but I'm so glad I finally did it. Big Boy loved the kids club so much that I barely saw him, but I did enjoy a lovely hot stone massage, went to watch a show and even managed to have some quiet time with champagne on the balcony. I hope we can all go next time - I'm sure Hubbie and Baby Boy would have a great time too.

Following a car accident in the Summer we missed a great friend's wedding and I have been having physiotherapy to help mend a bad knee and shoulder injury. I still don't know how I finished the Shine walk - even though it was the half and not the full marathon - but I'm glad that I did. After the danceathon and the walk I think I'll take a year off from fundraising events next year. Remind me of that won't you ?

Baby Boy loves the beach

We took the boys on holiday to Cornwall and stayed at our favourite family friendly location - Coombe Mill. Baby Boy went to the beach for the first time and met lots of different animals. He seems to have the family love of trains and animals, we just need to work on his tractor driving skills.

Big Boy turned five and his best present was a brand new cousin. He completely loves the baby and is already planning what role the new boy will have in the little 'boy gang' that he has planned consisting of his brother and cousin. This also fills in the gap left by the arrival of a baby brother who wasn't actually a baby. Most important of course is that fact that I am finally an auntie ! I love that little dude so much.

It was a big month in December as it was the first time Baby Boy has celebrated his birthday and Christmas with us. I was so keen to get it just right for all of us as these will be his memories. 

There has been so much going on that I made two big decisions in the later months.

  • I was thinking about it for a while, but in the end the decision was really simple. I went to see a nice man called Alan and showed him a photo then he went ahead and cut my hair short. I love it. 
My snazzy shorter hair
  • After more than 15 years I've decided to give up being an Avon lady. It's been fun, but I want to simplify my life and give myself more time. In the process of decluttering the house I have realised just how much make up, skincare and general stuff I have in my possession, so even if I didn't buy any for a year I wouldn't run out of anything.
At the end of last year we had just returned from a fab Christmas at Coombe Mill and were looking ahead to some massive family changes. As this one comes to a close we're all exhausted. So much has happened and there is so much more to come.

Baby Boy starts pre-school in January, Hubbie has a new found interest in cycling and Big Boy is training to be a Jedi.

I love these boys

And me ? Well I have no plans so far. I'm taking 2016 as it comes. I think it will be just fine.






Sunday, 27 December 2015

What on earth did I do with my time before I had kids ?

You know all that planning and prep you do for Christmas - the tree, the presents, the food and even getting the house ready for potential guests ? I've always found it a bit much, but now I have kids I wonder why I ever found it all so overwhelming before.

Before we had kids:

  • I'd put up and decorate the tree and select beautiful decorations made of glass to sparkle in the light.
  • We would have baubles and lights and window decals and all sorts of festive fun. 
  • There would be drinks with friends, work and various Christmas parties and meals to attend. I'd have a dress for each event and decide what to wear weeks before going. 
  • Food shopping would commence at least a month before and I'd have a plan of what to do and where to be for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and all of the New Year bit. 
  • Presents would be indulgent and fun and as impractical as you like. I'd take plenty of time to enjoy them and read the books and listen to the CDs or wear the perfume I was given. 
  • By the end of it all I was exhausted and would plan to go away the following year to keep things simple 

Now we have kids:

  • The tree has a few incarnations - the first is the one where the kids throw everything at it and then I redo it with fewer decorations and no lights at all. Glass ornaments ? Don't make me laugh. 
  • A week after putting the tree up I have to take all the chocolate decorations off as I keep finding the empty wrappers under Big Boy's pillow. 
  • I forget to even take the baubles and decals out of the box until after Christmas.
  • There is no work party and there are no after work drinks - when the mums from school go out for a 'do' I put on whatever is clean and nearest the bed when I'm leaving the house. 
  • Food is bought in stages with plenty of options to allow for the carnivore Baby Boy and the suddenly fussy eater Big Boy - he eats a Christmas dinner at school, but refuses everything on his plate at home and wants the same 'baby plate' that his brother has. 
  • I barely notice my own presents as I try to keep track of who gave what to the kids. The ensuing wrapping paper mountain reveals they have far too much. At least a week later I haven't opened most of mine. A year later I find the voucher for a meal for two that my sister got for us - it expired 6 months previously. 
This is a silly amount of presents 

I haven't even mentioned that Baby Boy vomited on me 3 times when we went to visit my parents or that I was up all night when Big Boy had a suspected ear infection while we were staying with the in-laws.

I've already suggested a few options to Hubbie for next year - just to give me hope:

1. We go away somewhere hot and forget Christmas completely. We enjoy a lovely holiday instead - the kids have enough of everything already.

2. I take Big Boy with me to volunteer on Christmas Day and we ask everyone to limit the presents to one each for all of us.

3. We leave Big Boy with my parents, Baby Boy with Hubbie's parents and we go to the Caribbean for a grown up holiday.

I'm not even kidding.

Debbie says no to Christmas



Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas eve traditions and dodgy nails.

Christmas Eve and all is well. We have a few traditions that Baby Boy is experiencing for the first time. Last night we took the boys and our lovely neighbour (and spare Grannie) Jill to see the lights. There is a cul de sac near where we live and the houses have the most amazing Christmas lights every year. I always take a few sneaky trips with the kids in the run up to Christmas and then we make a family visit to donate to the charities that houses are collecting for. Baby Boy loved it so much.


Christmas Eve is always spent with my family as it's my Dad's birthday. Last year we were lucky enough to spend Christmas at Coombe Mill and we really missed seeing him for his special day (we did enjoy the party hosted by Fiona, Farmer Nick and the children though). Today we went to see the family and I spent a lot of it cuddling my gorgeous 3 month old baby nephew. I remember when Big Boy was that age at his first Christmas and it was just magical.

As well as being a family day I like to remember how lucky we are to have people who care for us and enough food for everyone. We donate all year and I like to ensure that we all remember that not everyone has a great time at Christmas.  We made a drop of food, teabags, snacks, hats, gloves and socks to a charity that provides support to homeless people all year round, but especially in the colder months. I hope that they are able to make it a bit better for anyone sleeping rough. It's also worth mentioning that Sikh temples are open all year round for anyone who needs hot meal. There is no qualifying criteria and it is not shameful to ask.

Once we were home everyone got out the Christmas stockings for the morning. My family never really did them as we didn't get the point, but Hubbie is a big fan so we do them. Baby Boy has one to mark his first Christmas with us.


As well as the stockings we also do a Christmas Eve box of treats for the night before Christmas. Baby Boy loved his Penguin design and Big Boy couldn't wait to open his.


There are always new pyjamas and some new toys.This year I also added some glow sticks, Christmas socks and a bow tie each as a quirky addition. It turns out that Big Boy loved the bow tie the most. Who knew ? 


Of course the most important job to do tonight was the get a snack plate ready for Santa Claus and Rudolph. The boys put one carrot each on the tray and Big Boy insisted that we put 3 mince pies out. A little while later he reminded me that we needed to also put a bowl of milk out for Rudolph too so that was a close shave !


All that is left now is to try and get a few hours sleep before they both wake up over excited and keen to tear into everything. To say we have an embarrassment of riches would be an understatement, so I suspect it may take some time to get through all of this lot. I hope the boys appreciate how very lucky we all are. 


One final note - more to myself that anyone else - it's not a great idea to try and be creative with nail colours after a large glass of wine ! 


We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !! 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The best things in life are these...

I've mentioned before that I don't do well with Christmas. Like a lot of people I get very stressed out and find that I just can't cope with the expectations of how good it should be. I have also had to accept in recent years that I really detest wrapping presents. I've found that watching Netflix while wrapping offers a great distraction and I can get lots done in record time.

The main pressure is to make sure it's perfect for the boys and I really want it to be special for Baby Boy as it's his first with us. Every now and then I will spot something that makes me smile and stops it all getting too much. I'm sharing some of these in the hope they will make you smile too.

Photo cards: 

My absolute favourite card this year is one with a photo of my gorgeous baby nephew on the front - I love it.

A close second is this one featuring a lovely police dog in the snow. It was given to us to say thanks for donating to a Christmas toy appeal. I especially like the spot of snow on the dog's nose.


Festive food: 

Ok, so food and Christmas are pretty much entwined. I don't do the cooking on Christmas Day so I don't worry about it at all - thankfully. Last weekend we visited the in-laws and I bought the most amazing dessert I've had in a long time. It's Ben and Jerry's peanut butter cup ice cream and if you like peanut butter I urge you to try it. I had to leave the rest of the tub in Mother-in-law's freezer so that I didn't finish it all !

Then on the way home we were behind this lorry - it made my day :)



Grotto: 

I've always taken Big Boy to see Father Christmas - if you are a regular you will recall the year of 5 Santas I'm sure.  This year I have two boys to take and one who is not entirely keen on the big man so it's been a little challenging to get a smiley photo of them. Instead I have this one of them admiring the snow scene (ok, cotton wool) before going in to meet Santa. It's a start isn't it ?


The first Noel:

I went to try 'Clubbercise' last week (don't ask !) and on they way home I saw this. I like the subtlety with which it reminds us of the nativity.


This one - however - is even better. Enjoy.


Merry almost Christmas. 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

We went to watch a panto.. Oh no you didn't... Oh yes we did

I've always been a big fan of traditions associated with national holidays. When my sisters were little I used to take them to see a Christmas show every year whether it was a movie or a pantomime. It has been a bit hit and miss with triumphs like Elf and then Jingle All the Way (not so much). I took them and my mum to watch a pantomime called Christmas Cat and the Pudding Pirates when I was at uni then for a few years we used to frequent the Albany Theatre in Deptford for the Bubble Theatre pantomime as I had an (unrequited) crush on the dame. I know it's truly sad.

Aladdin (Luke Roberts) and Princess Jasmine (Jen Pringle)

Anyway, the point of this background is that I am now introducing this tradition to Big Boy and last year he went to watch his first panto with the school and I was so proud as I sat next to him and he followed the story and songs. This year he's been to two shows and I was delighted to be able to take him to watch Aladdin at the Churchill Theatre Bromley as it really is a proper family show. It's set in Old Peking near Or Ping Ton (think about it) and has an impressive range of actors in a show that is packed with songs and laughs. For a start Widow Twankey is played by Bobby Crush - he of the piano and sparkling smile - and Princess Jasmine is Jen Pringle of Milkshake fame. Parents will remember the former and pre-schoolers the latter. If you're a fan of Eastenders you will be delighted to see Scott Maslin as the evil Abanazer - he loves the boos he gets from the audience and makes a fabulous baddie. He really does steal the show, but Luke Roberts is brilliant as Aladdin and does have a pretty great number of his own with Jess Robinson who plays the genie of the ring.

Scott Maslin is a snarling Abanazer 

It is a well known story with some recognisable current songs and silly jokes that will appeal to adults as well as the silliness that makes the children howl with laughter. The formula of a great panto is pretty much infallible. There is comedy, traditional songs, plenty of jokes and slapstick routines that make everyone laugh so much. In this production there is a flying carpet sequence that has to be seen to be believed and the night we went there were so many children laughing out loud it was lovely to hear. We took one of Big Boy's school friends with us and they both had a great time - including meeting Wishee Washee (Mark James) after the show for a photo. It is a pretty long show at 2 and a half hours, but the boys did really well and the pace of the show kept them entertained. I'm sure the half time ice cream helped too.

Widow Twankey(Bobby Crush) takes no nonsense from Aladdin (Luke Roberts) 

Aladdin is on at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley until 3rd January and there are two shows daily. If you are taking small children be aware that there is a £5 charge for a booster seat to use in the theatre.

To book you can go here: book tickets

I interviewed some of the cast for my radio show which you can hear on the podcast.

PC Pong (Charlie Guest) with Widow Twankey, Princess Jasmine, Aladdin and Ababnazer

Disclosure: We were invited to attend the press evening of Aladdin. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

All I want for Christmas is what I already have - thank you :)

A year ago we had no idea that Baby Boy would be coming to live with us. We were planning our first Christmas away and getting ready for an exciting week in Cornwall staying at Coombe Mill.

Then while were were on holiday we received an email with a profile and a photo and the question - would we consider this little boy ? I showed the photo to Big Boy and he said, "Is that me as a baby ?" I said. "No, it's a little boy who we're thinking about having to come live with us. How would it be if he was your baby brother ?" Big Boy looked at me and smiled. "Yes, I'd like that."

I found Wally

A lot happened in between - which I will tell you another time, I promise - and now we are here. We're a family of four (ok, Neo - five) and this Christmas he's here with us. It's the most amazing gift of all and I cannot believe it's only been a year since this all began for real.

So, when anyone asks me what I want for Christmas I can honestly say, "nothing."

Oh we're such fun

I have a wonderful husband, a lovely home, a fluffy cat, a new iPhone (ok, not strictly nothing then).

I told you he's fluffy !

Most importantly of all I have two sons I love and adore. They are safe, healthy and happy.

My boys 

Ok, I'd like to be slimmer, to not have dodgy knees and a gammy shoulder. I'd love to be able to live on chips, chocolate, champagne and strawberries.

For now I'm thankful for what I do have. I had no idea this time last year that it would be so much.

Love...

Saturday, 12 December 2015

By air, by sea and by magic - a family day out on the South Bank.

With Christmas coming up we have yet another school holiday to fill. Once the presents are opened and the turkey sandwiches are all done we still have over a week to occupy the children and I have a few ideas that you might consider. 

A few weeks ago we decided to have a special family day out for Hubbie's birthday and we chose to spend it on the South Bank in London. My favourite London spot is the London Eye and since I found out you can get married on board I have been trying to convince Hubbie to renew our wedding vows so we can hire a pod for a celebration event. 



The boys have never been on the London Eye before so we had no idea how they would take to it. We  had fast track tickets which meant we didn't have to queue in the rain and it was relatively quick to board. We folded our buggy to take with us on the pod and it wasn't too busy so the boys got to see plenty out of the windows. There are touch screens you can use to help identify the landmarks outside  and during the flight you can have a photo taken to buy at the end. 


I've been on the London Eye many times - including on my 30th birthday as a treat with friends - and have always really loved it. When me and Hubbie were still dating we took a flight and a boat ride on the Thames included in the ticket. It's a great date idea and some offers also include a meal with the boat trip. At this time of year there is also an ice skating rink located next to the London Eye which you can add to your visit. 

It's great to share that experience with my children and to see the delight on their faces when they spot things they like. In Big Boy's case it was Big Ben and in Baby Boy's case it was the ducks on the Thames - I think they were ducks, he made a quacking sound anyway. After the flight we went to the 4D experience which is also included in the ticket price. It's a nice touch and is suitable for all ages. 


After a stop for lunch we went to the London Sealife Aquarium which I've heard great things about, but never actually visited. As it was a rainy day we expected it to be very busy inside, but the site is really spacious and even with the buggy we were able to get around pretty easily. The boys loved spotting seahorses and starfish, but didn't want to touch them. 


The really large tank was were Big Boy spent the longest time and we sat and talked about sharks and where they live in the wild. I explained that before I was Mummy I went scuba diving and saw them in the sea. He was fascinated by all of the large mammals and Baby Boy squealed when he saw the turtles climbing out of the tank. I was delighted that they were so interested as I love marine life and hope to take them diving when they are older. 



The newest tourist attraction on the South Bank is Shrek's Adventure featuring characters from the movies. Donkey is there to greet you as you arrive and you have an allocated time for your visit so it's wise to arrive a little early in preparation. There is a 4D bus ride early on in the adventure and Big Boy found this a little scary, so he's probably a little young for it. The characters who you meet as you go around really like to involve visitors - especially children - in the adventure and it's nicely done. 

Our mini tour ended at the Poison Apple pub with a special guest appearance - I won't spoil it by telling you who it was. The recommended age for children to visit this attraction is 6 years onwards and I think that is pretty accurate. My boy recognised the characters from Dreamworks such as Kung Fu Panda and the Penguins of Madagascar and loves Puss in Boots. During the Christmas holidays there are specific festive events taking place that you can pre-book. 


You can book tickets for all of these attractions online and there are discounts if you visit more than one of them. Find out more about an attraction pass here. Alternatively you can use a Merlin Pass

Disclosure: We were given complimentary tickets for the London Eye, the Aquarium and were invited to visit Shrek's Adventure. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Yes my cat has an advent calendar - what of it ?

At the moment every single day is a futile attempt to complete my to do list. Instead I just add the unfinished items to the one I write the next day. I mention this by way of apology for the infrequent posts at the moment. However, I don't want you to think I've forgotten you so here is a smattering of my thoughts over the last few days.

As it's Baby Boy's first Christmas with us I went a little overboard making sure both boys (and Hubbie) had plenty of advent calendars to enjoy. Hubbie even bought one for the cat - it is possible we've gone too far !


We always have the first daffodils in our front garden, but this was something of a shock to me. We have our first daffodil already in early December !!


I am now an aunty and it is possible I may have gone a little overboard on baby gifts for Christmas. This is only a small sample of what I've got for him. I'm not even sorry.


Before you judge I think I should mention that our cat loves us and we love him. He's so patient with us that when we decided to play Cataroo (like Buckaroo, but with a cat) he just went along with it.


I was popping some mince pies, teabags and a few chocolate treats into the food bank donation point at Waitrose this morning (everyone deserves a treat) when I spotted these tins already in there. I'm still baffled.


I promise to do better and will keep putting, 'write blog post' to the top of my list every day :)


Saturday, 5 December 2015

We've made a list and we've checked it twice...

When I married Hubbie I found that our families have quite different approaches to Christmas. Of course mine don't even have to celebrate it, but we always have and it was only in recent years and toward the end of her life that I discovered that my beloved grandmother loved Christmas cake and would devour 'plum cake' as it's called in India. Hubbie's late grandmother made something called 'white Christmas pudding' which I had never heard of. A few years ago Mother in law decided to give it a go as a nostalgia thing and to introduce me to the delights of childhood Christmas meals in the family. It looked promising enough and was scattered with crumbled mint aero on top, but I have to say it was terrible !

The main difference between our families is the attitude to presents. Mine cannot wait to tear into gifts and my Mum instigated a rule when my sisters were young that we had to eat breakfast before we could open gifts. The first year I stayed with the in-laws for Christmas I sat politely through breakfast and waited. They opened stocking presents and then went on with preparing Christmas dinner. As the day went on I became more and more impatient. We ate the meal, lit the pudding and even had after dinner mints, but still no pressies. Finally around teatime Father-in-law selected presents from under the tree, put them into separate piles for everyone and we all sat politely waiting. My lot are like wild animals in comparison and a badly scrawled name tag has been known to throw off the whole present opening madness.

Growing up we never asked for presents and knew that we couldn't request anything as it was unlikely we'd get a say in what we received. We didn't write letters to Father Christmas as my parents just didn't want to give an credit to a fat white bloke for presents that they had paid for. Hubbie's family ask for a list of preferred presents and you can guarantee that you will get what you ask for as Mother-in-law does not want to risk buying a gift that is not wanted. I like the approach, even if it does do away with surprise and spontaneity. The only issue I have with this is that I struggle to think of things to ask for as I am so lucky to have such lovely things already. I do think of things for the boys though and this year it's been a bumper year of choosing for two of them. I got Big Boy to write his letter to Father Christmas last week and they will both be going to see him before the day itself so they can assure him they've been good.

I thought I'd give him a head start though by sharing the main things we have on our wish lists:

Big Boy: Anything Lego really - I've bought him a big Lego head storage box and of course I've been collecting the free packs with newspapers all year so he's getting those as stocking fillers. Last year we discovered that Wilko do their own version that is compatible with the brand name bricks. Blox come in great sets and we have the fire station, the police station and an emergency services kit so far. As a special treat we're giving him some Blox figures as he's such a fan of the characters.

Baby Boy: As he has had his eye on Big Boy's Microscooter for so long he is getting a very special big present. I asked for some advice on a starter scooter suitable for a 2 year old and the lovely folks at Microscooter suggested that this mini 2 go micro scooter  would suit him. I cannot wait to see his face when he opens it. I'll be posting pics and a proper review later.

Hubbie: Well as you know he does read this so it's pretty unsafe to even suggest what I might buy for him. We do share our Amazon wishlists with each other so that we can choose specific gifts and his nearly always has band t-shirts and lots of Fall related merchandise on it. He has been talking about getting into cycling more so I know he'd love anything to do with that and have been keeping my eye out for cycling jerseys and useful things like bike lights. I can't say any more - you understand I'm sure.

Me: Well as I said I struggle to think of anything that I actually need so one year I asked for consumables like nice wine and chocolates. Last year I got some fab vouchers for Fat Face which I spent on a lovely new coat in their sale. I know I'll always find something I want to wear from Fat face and also lovely bags.

If I'm being honest the one thing I really want this year for Christmas isn't on any lists and I can't even tell you about it until after the event. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

From trolley warfare to hero worship - all in a day's shopping trip.

Yesterday a trip to the supermarket gave me pause for thought and gratitude. I decided to go straight after school pick up and took the boys with me to buy a present for a party Big Boy is invited to and to choose a birthday cake for Baby Boy. When we arrived Big Boy asked if I could get a double seat so he could sit next to his brother. I asked him to promise not to pick a fight and he did. I wasn't sure he'd fit, but he's so skinny they sat side by side and I crossed my fingers for an uneventful shop.

It was the usual patter as I wheeled them round.

- No I can't get you toys, we're getting a present for your friend today
- Get back inside the trolley please
- Stop getting on your brother's nerves
- We don't need any more decorations thank you
- Why are you making that face at your brother ?
- I'm not buying any chocolates
- Yes, we have some at home already
- If you hit him, he'll hit you back
- We don't need a Haribo cake, honestly
- Do that again and you're getting out and walking
- I'm serious

Once I'd finished the shopping I took them for a Happy Meal and while I was queuing up to order the food Big Boy picked balloons for himself and his brother. As they ate their fries I looked at them both. I mean really looked at them. As one dipped fries into ketchup so did the other. They picked up their drinks like synchronised swimmers and both smacked their lips and went, "ahh!" Baby Boy worships his Big Brother. He copies everything he does and sees him as a hero. Big Boy is proud of his Baby Brother and loves being looked up to. He demonstrates how to give the cat biscuits and helps take his brother's shoes off. Baby Boy always makes sure Big Boy has a gingerbread man or piece of chocolate first before he takes one for himself.

When the day to day stuff of parenting involves orienteering for socks and looking forward to nap time so I can stop hearing my own voice it's hard to recognise the positives. Yesterday I was able to take the time to remember how much has happened in the last year:

Big Boy has started school.
Both boys have gained a brother
Baby Boy now has a cat, lots of grandparents, aunties and uncles
Both boys have recently welcomed a brand new cousin.
Me and Hubbie have the family we always wished for.
The children we were told we'd never have.
We're looking forward to celebrating Baby Boy's birthday
and to our first Christmas as a family of 4.

When I stop to think about it - which I confess I don't do often - I cannot help but wonder how did we all get so lucky ?



Monday, 30 November 2015

World AIDS Day 2015



Friday, 27 November 2015

Giving thanks on Black Friday

So yesterday was Thanksgiving, but as I'm not American I don't feel the need to mark this day with pumpkin pie, turkey or general gluttony. Equally the phenomenon of Black Friday appears to have been adopted over here, but if I didn't need it already I'm certainly not going to risk a stampede to buy  a larger TV. Anyway, I still think it's a good practice to give thanks and I have plenty to be thankful for so here is my rundown of just the last week.

There are so many people I want to thank, so here's the thanks:

Titia - thank you for taking Big Boy to school this week when Baby Boy was ill and I was feeling pretty rotten too. You're a lovely Mum friend.

My sister - Thank you for driving over an hour to come and take care of the boys so that me and Hubbie could go out for the evening to watch Stewart Lee and Bridget Christie.

Soraya - thank you for the reassuring and supportive chat on the way to work. Despite getting disconnected repeatedly you made the time to keep calling me back and I felt so much better for it.

Neo - thank you for snuggling up to me on the sofa and letting me hold your warm paws. It's comforting when my boys won't let me hold their hands.

Hubbie - thank you for getting us tickets to go to some great gigs next year. It's the most fun going out with you.  

And then there are the things that I give thanks for, so here's the giving:

  • I give thanks that I have my health and am able to give blood so I do. When I received a thank you email for giving blood this week I was so surprised as I honestly wasn't expecting it. 
  • I give thanks that my children have shelter and warm clothes so I donated to Unicef so that Syrian children can have warm clothes too. 
  • I give thanks that I have a home and a bed to sleep in so I gave to Crisis to enable people in need to eat a hot meal and have some basic care needs met. 
  • I give thanks that we have food to eat so I gave to the food bank donation point in Waitrose. 
  • I give thanks that my children are loved and cared for so I donated shoe boxes to Romanian orphans containing gloves, hats, soft toys and sweets. 
  • I give thanks we can keep and feed our pet so I donated dog food and treats to a shelter for abandoned dogs.
We are very fortunate and have so much to be thankful for.

I hope I never forget that.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Me and my new best mate Sandi

I've got so much to say about the Mumsnet Blogest where spent all of Saturday, but I'm far too exhausted to do it justice right now. I'll tell you more later in the week when I've caught my breath.

For now here is my highlight of the day - there were a few options so it was hard to choose to be honest.

Lovely, lovely Sandi Toksvig

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

How am I supposed to live without Woolworths ?

It's taken a few years, but I have finally had to accept that Woolworths is gone. I know I am possibly the last person on Earth to accept this, but I only just managed to get used to HMV being gone then they reopened in Croydon and I thought I was imagining it. I spent many hours (and pounds) in HMV over the years, but Woolworths holds a special place in my heart.

I always bought Easter eggs from Woolies and took my youngest sister with me. She had to promise not to look inside the bag and find out which one she was getting. It was a tradition.  

It was where Dylon dyes came from during my dressmaking stage in the 80's - in fact I didn't even know what I'd need them for, but I'd buy an amazing peacock blue and decide what to dye later. 

Pretty much all the household items I had in my first flat were from Woolies - my laundry basket, hanging rack for socks, dish drainer and bathroom bin. As these items fell apart one by one I had to work out where to find replacements for them. Ikea doesn't have the same homely feel really. 

I remember going to Woolworths to buy Chad Valley toys, Ladybird clothes for children. Selection boxes for Christmas. Multipacks of Christmas cards. Tinsel, baubles, card holders and random things for celebrations you didn't know you needed. 

When I ran out of teaspoons once I just went into Woolies in Croydon (the largest store) and bought a pack of 8 of them. They always had whatever I needed from interfacing to fix hems to needle and thread for repairs. I also bought dressmakers chalk and buttons. 

I really don't want to have to find a haberdashers whenever I need a small item like that as the only one I know is in John Lewis on Oxford Street and that's a long way to travel for some bias binding or a thimble.

So why am I feeling the loss of Woolworths so keenly right now - you may well ask.


Well, my oven gloves have gone. The years of cake baking and biscuit making have taken their toll. Just as I prepare for my big Christmas bake session I've had to admit that I burn myself when I use them to take things out of the oven. These well used and loved oven gloves were from Woolies and I look at them forlornly wishing I didn't have to plod around the internet to find new ones.

Oh why oh why did you have to go Woolworths ? Even your online presence can't replace these - or anything else I used to rely on you for. It's taken a few years, but I'm now living in a home where there are pretty much no remaining memories of you Woolies. I will always remember you. Fondly.

I'm off to trawl the internet for double oven gloves. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Snap, bang, wallop what a picture.

I've not shared a week of photos for a while and it's been so hectic lately I knew I'd have some fun ones to show you.

It's been my ambition to read Harry Potter to Big Boy since we took him to The Warner Bros Studio Tour. Then when I was waiting to meet a friend at Waterloo Station I spotted this beauty in the window of Foyles Bookshop. I'm putting it on his Christmas list and hoping we can start reading it before too long.


Neo has been sleeping on Big Boy's bed for a while now and he is so settled when he's there that we thought we'd have a bit of fun with him. While he snoozed away we carefully placed (very light) toys on him to see what would wake him or make him go all 'Buckaroo.'


Both the boys are obsessed with anything to do with the fire service so I wasn't at all surprised to find them playing while dressed like this.


Now this week wasn't just about everyone else and I went to a book reading by Robert Newman in London. It was pretty low key and there was wine so I had a bit of a natter with him afterwards.


It's not often me and Hubbie get to have a night out together so when we were invited to the opening of a club we decided to go. It wasn't a late one, but it was nice to have an excuse to dress up and have some grown up time. 


Then - of course - it's back to normal. And yay to that.