Work and the fickle art of redundancy

Aside

There are times in life when you should never let the moment pass. When that moment captured gives you clarity, breathing space and a sense of what it’s really all about.

Last night I didn’t sleep.Worried about our restructure at work. Would I have a job? I felt annoyed and angry. This morning I got up, got Arthur and I dressed and made my way to nursery and work. Still angry and anxious, planning my redundancy and feeling like this was possibly the worst day of the year so far.

I hadn’t noticed Arthur was particularly quiet until we got to nursery. I picked him up out of the pushchair – he grabbed my hand and, for the first time, said: “Mummy love” and kissed my nose. He knew I was feeling down and that was his way of letting me know. It made me cry and I walked to the office.

Here I am. I don’t care half as much if I have a job or not. I really don’t mind if I have to change offices – I’m  not bothered. I’m just counting the hours until I can pick him up from nursery and say thank you. I wanted to write this down because things and moments get lost and along with them persective. Sometimes we all need a moment - and mine was a kiss on the nose.

Lollibop, lathered up and all things beige

It’s been a funny week. I went from writing a proposal for the communication of a large regulatory change campaign to bopping along as two hot sweaty men in Waybuloo costumes performed yoga inspired dance moves on stage. I’m not sure if the latter was a figment of my over-worked imagination – staring at powerpoint can do that to a girl.

I jest – this was no stress-induced halucination. The yoga girating men in giant costumes were all part of the fantastic Lollibop festival. Held in Regent’s Park, the festival is especially designed for small people and I have to say it was absolutely amazing. I went along with my sister-in-law Ruth, niece Florence and baby nephew Jimmy, oh and of course my lovely Arthur. It was spread across the Friday, Saturday and Sunday and we rocked up on the Friday.

The sun was shining and from the beginning the whole festival had a fab atmosphere. We first stopped of at the Rescue Remedy stall and had a cheeky shoulder and back massage while the kids were looked after by registered childminders. We felt it was important we were relaxed and able to enjoy the day – ahem. With a spring in our step we hit the entertainment with Mister Maker, The Gruffalo and Waybuloo all on stage in some brilliant productions – I was particularly impressed with The Gruffalo show. There was also baby sensory areas with massage, live music with lots of small people bopping along with Cbeebies characters, baby discos, loads of lovely stalls and plenty to fill the day.

Arthur was subdued when Waybuloo took to the stage

There was also loads of stuff for older children and I can honestly say I enjoyed myself as much as Arthur and the gang of smallies – I am aware it’s not a word but it sounds cute. There were  proper breast and bottle feeding tents and a huge, well equipped baby changing tent which even provided nappies – a really welcome addition to any event. We got there about ten and basically had to be kicked out at 6pm. 

 

 

 

Now Lollibop might not officially be a short-cut or a time-saver but sometimes it’s just about earning a few  brownie  points and knowing I can dine out on that for a few weeks to come. Arthur ate his body weight in sweets  and icecream and enjoyed a well balanced picnic tea with his cousin consisting of a wide range of beige food. After they’d screammed and run the e numbers and sugar out of their system it was time for us to go home and for me to put my mucky little boy in the bath before force-feeding him some fruit.

Asda’s ‘Little Angels’Dry and Sensitive Bath and Body Wash and Shampoo were just what I needed for a quick but proper bath. Now if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know I’m not keen on having my boy over-perfumed and these fragrance free products were fab. I also like getting him in the shower – but sometimes only a bath will do. The bath and body wash produced loads of lovely bubbles and left Arthur’s skin feeling really soft. In fact, he’s had a patch of dry skin on his tummy and after a few baths this has actually disappeared.It’s paraben free, really gentle and because it does two jobs in one it means one less product to worry about – I just washed him with the bubbles.

The shampoo lathered up well and left his hair really soft. I also found I needed hardly any so it’s really good value for money. The Little Angels range has become one of my favourite because, although really well-priced, it doesn’t compromise on caring for delicate skin – all in all really great products.

Top tips

I do try to make food so Arthur always has something good in the freezer. But I’ve just been to M&S and they have their children’s meals at two for £3. A real bargain and full of good stuff so I’ve stocked up so we have plenty of nice stuff for tea!

I’ve bought Arthur a sandpit – watch this space for tales of temporary blindness, sand poos and tips on how to get sand back in the pit.

 

Rants, raspberries and ride-ons

Aside

Someone once told me that you’re only as happy as your least happy child. All I can say is I must have been extremely unhappy earlier this week.

Arthur had the kind of meltdown that could bring a country to its knees, scare off threats of nuclear war, and basically left me rocking to and fro on the sofa unable to remember my name. It started when I refused to let him ‘hold’ my phone. Now he had been ‘holding’ the phone for a long time, bashing it on the coffee table, twice calling random people in my contacts and licking the delicate, moisture sensitive screen.

I removed it and tried to tempt him with a delicious bowl of raspberries and strawberries – normally a winner. He took exception to this poor imitation of a phone and threw the whole lot on the floor before running to the glass back doors and bashing his head repeatedly on the door. Followed up screaming at a pitch only dogs can hear and pulling anything he could get his angry little hands on from the kitchen work top.

All in all a pleasant Monday afternoon which ended with three strawberries and a raspberries trodden into the carpet by his violently aggrieved little feet. My heart sinks when I try to clean carpets – let’s face it usually you’re left with one of those not quite there but still there stains. This time I tried Vax Carpet Stain and Spot remover. It’s a spray which, unlike many of the others I’ve tried, doesn’t require seven different clothes, six weeks to dry and the perspiration of an Eygyptian nun to work.

It was so simple, just remove any excess stuff, spray and wipe the stain towards the middle. It really works! Not only was it straightforward but also had a nice citrus smell and dried really quickly, I was genuinely impressed by how quickly the stains were removed. I really liked the fact you could easily direct the spray and that it didn’t leave any horrible stickiness.  I actually used it again last night on a coffee stain and it was as good. It is definitley going to be a staple in my cupboard for a real timesaving way to get rid of nasty spills and stains.

Spurred on by my rasberry triumph, Arthur’s dad decided to use the Vax carpet cleaner and go the whole hog on the landing carpet. Again it worked a treat, was easy to add to the Vax machine and just left the carpet looking fresh, clean and even got rid of an unidentified stain we’ve walked past for several months.

We’ve been making the most of the sun this week and Arthur’s been attempting to ride his new Mookie Scuttlebug scooter. It’s a fab little thing that definitely makes my life easier as it folds up neatly and stores in a small place. I can take it out and about and it’s not much hassle to carry around when his three minute concentration span expires and he has to get off or life as he know’s it will end – you know the sort of thing I mean!

It feels sturdy and well made so I know he feels quite safe on it and generally it’s a great thing to have. Sometimes he gets it out and rides it up and down the kithen and then I just pop it back behind the fridge where it lives. I also think it’s great for younger children as it’s quite small with plenty of width to the seat so balance is not an issue. He loves it and, for under £30, I would really recommend it.

Top tips

When I’m getting ready for work in the morning my bathroom routine consists of fending off a small person while cleaning my teeth and attempting to apply at least some mascara and camoflage to my undereye bags. I have about ten minutes before he’s trying to empty the bin or put his hand in the loo. So I’ve bought a spare wicker basket that looks very much like the ones we already have in the bathroom and filled in with empty bottles of shower gel, old flannels and the odd empty loo roll. It means he’ll sit down and play with, what he thinks are prohibited objects, and I get an extra five minutes to create something that doesn’t frighten small children (other than my own of course).

Straws – if I need five minutes to myself I give Arthur a drink with a straw. It’s so simple! He thinks it’s amazing and very grown up and he will sit quietly on a chair and work his way through the whole drink. He will not be disturbed and doesn’t move til the whole lot has gone,

This weekend we’re off to Lollibop with my sister-in-law, niece Florence and delicious new addition to the clan, baby Jimmy. Arthur is a little in awe of his big cousin and last time we went up to see her, he was overwhelmed and laughed at her every word. Very sweet!

Tent pegs and tantrums

So the camping got off to a great start when the heavens opened and my poor poor man had to battle against gale force winds to get the tent up. While sitting in the car I did consider opening the window and suggesting we turn round and drive home. At this point he was waving a pole at me and gesturing something. No I thought, he was looking forward to this so I closed the window and listened to a rather interesting documentary on Radio four – Arthur was asleep.

We made it through the first night and in some kind of gigantic climate overhaul the sun appeared and decided to stay until we went. Living in a small room made of string, plastic and some very flimsy metal poles means I have had time to come up with several camping tips. Firstly I bought five pairs of really cheap tracksuits bottoms for Arthur rather than pack loads of his normal clothes. It was a stroke of genius! Just go to one of the well known cheap shops, I paid £3 a pair, and buy buy buy! As it had been wet he was muddy and disgusting most of the time but he loved it and I didn’t want to waste loads of time trying to clean him up. When we got home I didn’t bother washing some of them as they were past saving but man of the house has cut them up to use as cloths, (not sure what he wants the cloths for but he’s always keen on having a stash so it works for me).

You know all those little testers and freebees you get when pregnant, the random single nappy in the Pampers pack to the very small sachets of cream and wash. Ridiculous aren’t they? No! Keep them somewhere safe because they will come into their own when camping. I dug out a small bottle of baby wash and slipped it into my washbag and that, along with his toothbrush, was all Arthur needed. Just a shame his dad didn’t realise when he whisked him off for a shower on day two.

“What did you use to wash him?” I asked knowing full well the wash was still in my bag. Completely deadpan he said: ” Someone had left a bottle of Linx so I gave him a once over with that.” Laying next to my gorgeous little boy all night, as he filled the tent with the scent of ‘chav on a night out’ – was slightly unsettling, sorry but the Linx Effect really doesn’t work on a 17 month boy.

On a serious note Arthur really did have a lovely time and his second shower on day three meant his was back to normal and my urge to buy him a tracksuit and vest had completely gone. We went on some lovely walks and I would recommend the MacPacVamoose baby carrier.. It saves so much time as there’s no putting a pushchair together and taking it apart over rough terrain. It meant we could put everything in the detatchable rucksack and Arthur really loved being on daddy’s back and getting the best view in the house. It also comes with a sun shade and full rain cover as well as a neck cushion. Arthur otften falls asleep in the pack and slipping the cushion in means he’s snug and comfortable. Apparently it’s really comfortable to carry and we managed at least three hours before stopping, A brilliant timsaver that everyone loves.

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I will end on a high with a story I suspect I will be telling my grandchildren, We decided to take a trip to Bakewell, a very pretty little town in the Peak District. It was a beautiful day and we decided to stop somewhere for breakfast, So many places to chose and we took a while, walking past all the lovely cafes and restaurants looking for a nice place for a full English. After much marching we settled on a little place in the corner and took our seats.

As I ordered coffee and turned the menu I remarked on how quiet it was here – then I saw it in big letters. “Austrian themed sausage cafe’. Oh yes, out of all the cafes in this small town, we had settled on this one. Now I have nothing against Austria but when you really fancy bacon and eggs, a giant Bratwerst sausage presented naked on a plate is not what you want.

Top tips:

This might seem obvious to you but it really wasn’t to me. I spent months shoving small pots of food for Arthur in the freezer, stuff I’d lovingly cooked and then couldn’t fit anywhere. Enter the humble sandwich bag. Just portion up and squish together in the freezer, just as easy and takes up far less room.

I’m always paranoid about ageing hands – I blame my mum going on about sun spots. So when the sun shines I smother Arthur with factor 50 and rub the remainder over my hands. Easy and I know my hands with remain youthful – even if the rest of me withers!

Next time I’ll be talking about some fab new products I’ve found to get those pesky stains off the carpet – something that I regularly battle now Arthur enjoys throwing food as much as eating!

Bags, baths and buffing – shortcuts to a shiny life

I remember reading all the pregnancy and baby books and seeing the joyous occasion that is bath time. Bubbles, toys, infant giggles and time spent gazing at their perfect little faces splashing happily. Fast forward a year and I’m going to be honest – bath time is a big ole faff. If I have time I love it and I know Arthur does but I needed a way to wash him quickly without running a bath, coaxing him in and spending half an hour sitting at the side of the bath slightly damp and compiling a list of stuff to do.

Originals Strawberry and Vanilla shower gel is my ultimate toddler washing time saving tip. If Arthur could tell you what his favourite food was it was be strawberries. He would kick Winnie the cuddly Pooh Bear to the curb for a bowl of these fruity jewels. So image his glee when mummy introduced actually washing in them! I know it’s not strictly baby wash but it’s all natural and means I can take him in the shower with me easily (in fact if I don’t he’s often banging on the door to come in). Not only does it smell delicious but it produces a lovely soft lather which feels gorgeous on your skin.  Arthur’s strawberry high lasts right through drying time until he realises he hasn’t actually eaten one!

Like many new mums I spent months lugging around a bag the size of a small country. Shovelling more and more nappies, bibs and other random household items in until one day I came home and thought we’d been burgled – nope I just emptied the bag and found most of our valuables. So I decided to downsize and up style and started using a Babymel bag.

It’s lovely to have a bag that still holds everything I need but doesn’t look like I’m about to leave on a round the world tour. It’s a sleek design which  is still really practical with wipe clean surfaces inside and out and lots of little pockets for nappies etc. It also has a small but perfectly formed changing mat. I’ve also been known to use it as a handbag, granted this was because I picked up the wrong bag but I never could have done this with my last one . It appeals to my internal lazy girl, when I can’t be bothered to swap my stuff over from nappy to grown-up bag, I simply don’t and wander happily around with my new changing/handbag.Perfect!

When it comes to being a domestic goddess I’m afraid I struggle with the virtues involved in maintaining true deity status. So, my own take is to add a little domestic devilry. Am I the only one who gets a kick out of a little cheating? I hope not! I love feeding my family and cooking something that feels homely and wholesome but frankly spending hours cooking when I get in every night is not going to happen – but no one needs to know do they. Sainsbury’s ‘Just Cook’ range is perfect for earning brownie points while shaving hours of the whole culinary carnival. During the week I cooked (I use the term loosey) their sweet potato and rosemary chicken quarter. It was just so easy, you bung it in a hot oven! I served it with some steamed veg and sat back in the warm glow of domestic bliss. It was tasty, relatively healthy, quick and felt like a proper mean and at just £4 a real bargain.There were proper chunks of veg and the rosemary just made it feel a bit special.  Sainsburys have about 16 ‘Just Cook’ meals so I will definitley be buying them again,

Top tips: A simple one – always save your plastic carrier bags. But don’t just shove them in a cupboard, I use mine as nappy sacks. Granted they might not have the sweet smell of actual nappy sacks but  let’s face it, when filled with a particulary pungent offering, can you really smell the delicate talc aroma? I don’t think so! I always have loads of bags, they are then reused and it might not save loads of money but very penny counts!

Often I’ll be walking to work, look down at my shoes, and realise they look as if I’ve been sanding them down ready for a repaint. Now I know they can’t work miracles but I wipe over with a couple of baby wipes and they look more shiny, scuffs become muted and they look lovely and clean. So I always keep a small pack in my handbag and have a quick wipe before important meetings of if they’re looking a little dull.

I’m off camping this weekend so watch this space for tales of shower block shennanigans and how to get a toddler to sleep in a tent. Joy.