Dear Arthur…

I’ve been in a reflective mood this week. The devastating tragedy of the Boston Marathon and death of eight-year-old Martin Richard led to a collective intake of parental breath across the world. We all have the instinct to hold our babies, big and small, close.

I was also inspired by the ‘ten things I would tell my daughter’ letter trending on Twitter last week. I started to think of all the things I wanted to tell my boy, those little moments of insight. If I had to tell him everything I wanted him to know, everything I wish I’d known – what would those things be.

So here’s my (completely non-exhaustive) list of things I want my boy to know:

Arthur and me by the river

Me, my boy and ever-present Winnie in The Lakes

Arthur dancing at festival

Always dance Arthur – you’ve got moves!

Dear Arthur,

  • Make sure you can laugh at yourself but never laugh at others unless they’re in on the joke  – it’s cruel and that’s not my boy.
  • Dance if you want to, me and daddy love to dance, stupidly, so if you feel it please do it. It’s good for the soul.
  • Read books – lots of them and when you have time please read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, it will show you the brilliance of the human condition and the dangers of a closed mind.
  • Remember when you were tiny I held your hand to make you feel safe. Do the same for someone else sometime.
  • Life is short – make sure it’s sweet.
  • Look after your teeth – you’ll regret it if not.
  • I don’t care what you are, whether you work in a supermarket or perform
    Arthur in his hat and pyjamas

    Rocking the work hat/pyjama combination

    open heart surgery on a daily basis. Just be happy doing it. I know far too many miserable people who are ‘successful’ in the eyes of society.

  • Have strength and confidence in you and your abilities – please don’t waste years wondering  if you’re good enough. I’m telling you now that you are.
  • Know that love makes the world go round but the reality is money helps oil the wheels. Doesn’t matter how much you earn but save a little and plan for the future – it lurks around every corner.
  • Strength isn’t just physical.
  • Treat women well, we are all mothers of sons.
  • If you feel bad, angry, low, try not to reflect it in the way you treat others – people can tell and it comes across as insecurity.
  • Be kind – it’s simple but effective.
  • Always know I’ve got your back. Whatever happens, whenever we fall out and during all those times you want to scream at me to keep my nose out, remember that what I say comes from love.
  • What I feel for you is overwhelming so cut me some slack – it can be a bit much some times.
  • Know that when you were born you changed me forever such was your impact. Don’t waste that – do something amazing.

Have my blessing to be the man you want to be not the one you think you should be. Just remember all of the above and you’ll be fine my boy. xx

Wednesday Words

 

Aldi supermarket convert

Aldi logo

At the weekend I went to a press/blogger event hosted by the supermarket Aldi. I want to be honest here and say I have never really shopped there, I may have popped in for the odd thing but I never considered it for a full shop.

I’m really pleased to say this event sowed the seed of my transformation into an Aldi convert! They are working hard to compete with other major supermarkets and I was really impressed with the number of lines they have  -I never knew they had an organic range or that they sold really good quality baby food. They are fast becoming a real alternative rather than somewhere to pop in for a few things.

What I really loved was hearing about their honesty and how the customer really is at the heart of all they do. We were told how Aldi had ’no frills’ so they could pass on savings to their customers and that this was a major consideration for them as a business. At a time when all our finances are being squeezed to the max this is refreshing and reassuring when you have children to consider. On another note I had no idea they have an organic range too – I learnt a lot.

We also heard from the buyer of the baby ranges – who also happens to be a mother of two small children. It was clear she put the emphasis on quality and her and her team were taking the time to get things right. They were keen to hear our feedback and find out what we wanted from a baby and toddler range. There’s an integrity surrounding the brand that I’d never really thought about before.

We were able to take some products home and I’ve put many of them to the test already.

So what did we think…

Wet wipes – let me say right now these are the best wipes I have ever used. Simple. They are strong, have the proper packaging that doesn’t leave you trying for hours to get one wipe out, a real bugbear of mine!  They have a gentle smell and are neither too wet or too dry. Perfect and for 79p for 80 it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t buy them. I’m definitely swapping over. It’s not just me that thinks it either – they’ve won loads of awards including: the Loved By Parents ‘Best Wipes’, Mother & Baby’s ‘Best Wipes’.

Nappies – Arthur’s been trying out the Aldi Mamia Easy Pants size 5 – considering we went out for lunch and then played outside all afternoon, they lasted amazingly. He might be only two but I did ask them if they were comfortable and he said: ” my bottom feels bootiful mummy’ – a glowing endorsement indeed! The Easy Pants cost just £2.99 for 20 – the Mamia new born ones start at just £1.69 for 24. That’s real value for money.

Aldi Mamia nappies

Great quality – great bargain

Washing tablets and softener- I have a neighbour, Sheila, who at 78, travels across the city to our Aldi to pick up this washing powder. She’s a hardcore washer from an age when sheets sparkled on lines many times a week and she washes everything all the time!

Could she be right? Well I’m two washes in using the Almat non-bio washing tablets and softener and I can see where she’s coming from. Just a great wash, lovely smell and even the pen on Arthur’s jumper came off. everything was beautiful and soft when it dried and I’m so pleased with the outcome. I used a capful of softener so it’s on par when it comes to how long it will last.

Lacura range of face care - this morning I used the Lacura caffeine eye roll-one which is supposed to deliver a hit of moisturiser and ‘pep’ you up a bit for the day.

The Lacura Intensive serum is also pretty amazing for £3.49 – I use it under my moisturiser and it made my skin feel fab.

Lacura face serum

In fact I sound like a broke record but I can genuinely say all of the products have performed brilliantly and saved pounds from my normal shop. I’d just like to see a few more stores appearing so it makes shopping at an Aldi store more of a possibility as that’s the only thing stopping me now. I’ll be road testing some more Aldi products over the next few weeks and bringing you my thoughts. For now though, I would highly recommend a visit.

Super Six

Every fortnight, six different fresh fruit and vegetables are heavily discounted, often to prices as low as 49p or 69p. This means you can get your fruit and veg without breaking the bank.

Coming soon….The Aldi Baby Event

The Aldi Baby Event starts on 30th May. Things like their nappies which start at just £1.69 for a pack of 24 new born ones remain the same price no matter what. Aldi want you to know that if something costs X amount one week then it will still cost X amount next week too – it’s all about the honesty I mentioned earlier. But during the event there will be special purchases that are not normally on offer, such as baby blankets, swim nappies and lots more - take a look, you’ll be impressed.

Bugaboo meets Andy Warhol

On Friday the boy and I were lucky enough to be invited to a ‘do’ to celebrate the fantastic new collaboration between Bugaboo and the Andy Warhol Foundation in New York City.

I love my Bugaboo, a love affair that started when my sister-in-law Ruth (Rocknrollerbaby) took me to the baby show when pregnant and showed me the magic that is the Bugaboo Cameleon. I seriously can’t fault it – well apart from the basket, we need a bit more room to get to it please Bugaboo! Ruth mentioned in her blog how any negative comments about the Bugaboo feels like an insult to your family member and I kind of know what she means.

Arthur and I in th eBugaboo photo booth

Me and Arthur in the photo booth

 

So we rocked up to the European Arts Gallery in West London and had a brilliant time. The new designs are just wonderful and a real dose of Spring through the less than Spring-like weather. I absolutely love the Cars collections. It’s innovative, forward thinking and just so darn cool! I would love to be pushing Arthur around in the Cars collection. The Flowers collection is a real breath of fresh air too. Let’s face it who wouldn’t want a piece of cutting-edge Warhol, think Campbell’s soup cans, Marilyn and now Bugaboo. Iconic
Bugaboo Flowers collectionBugaboo Cars collection

Arthur and his cousins had a great time colouring in some Warhol-inspired wallpaper and Ruth and I enjoyed a little bit of celeb-spotting. My claim to fame is that Peaches Geldof said she wanted Astala to have hair like Arthur – I’m nothing if not a trend-setter! Denise Van Outen and some other famous faces also came along and I think that’s testament to the brand – it’s cool, stylish and generally aspirational. But the buggies are also practical and I really believe once you’ve gone Bugaboo you won’t go back!

I have not been paid for this review.

Spring Cleaning my wardrobe

It’s that time of year when I’ve opened my wardrobe and I have nothing to wear – let me qualify that – I have nothing I want to wear.

It’s time for a spring clean and a chance to update my look and through out those dodgy pieces lurking in the back of my wardrobe – mostly elasticated trousers I wore when pregnant and always think look comfy. I can confirm they are very comfortable – they just look hideous.

I really want a Spring wardrobe that reflects me, some pretty dresses but a bit of a hard edge too. I always have this image in my head but never seem to be able to find the pieces to match my ambition!

Until now. I’ve found Todd Lynn and fallen a little bit in love. Its pricey stuff but even a couple of his pieces will take me through Spring and I can mix and match with my current stuff and some cheaper bits too. My signature look will be rock ‘n’ roll allure by Todd Lynn. His stuff is edgy but timeless and for me solves the dilemma – I’m happy to spend if it’s going to be something I will wear over and over again. Something with class and attitude.

Here are my favourite pieces for a wardrobe Spring clean:

It's beautiful and timeless

It’s beautiful and timeless

SCARF £290 – a great way to brighten up your outfit

Give yourself an edge - perfect!

Give yourself an edge – perfect!

The Lullaby Trust

Jennie, who writes the Edspire blog has asked the blogging community to write something to promote the new name of the FSID charity who have today become known as The Lullaby Trust.

Jennie and her family sadly lost their beautiful daughter, Matilda Mae a few weeks ago and she’s bravely been sharing her journey through her blog. Jennie has been working closely with The Lullaby Trust and now, with this new name change, we’re coming together to help build recognition for the charity. The Lullaby Trust supports families like hers as well as doing everything they can to fund research in the hope that this can be prevented from happening to other families in the future.They have chosen their new name because they hope it will be more approachable for families going through the unthinkable.

I can’t think of any words more beautiful than those Jennie has already written but here’s my support:

“If it weren’t for music, I would think that love is mortal.” ― Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War.
Forever Tilda
Sleep softly little baby and remember we are here
You’ll never wake to sorrow only joyous memories
We’ll only hold you closely and never fear your tears
Sleep softly little baby be sure your work is done
Our world forever changed with warmth from you little one
Sleep softly little baby and know our tears will fall in heaven where you’ll catch them in your arms and hold them closely forever.
xx

Hypothetical diets and a small persons obsession with cake

So this week I’m starting my assault on my meagre and somewhat embarrassing fitness levels.
I’ve been on a diet hypothetically for quite some time and I’ve been thinking about it really well. I’ve planned meals that haven’t quite happened and gazed at aisles of fruit and veg on my journey to the baguettes. Yes, in theory, I’ve got this diet thing down – I think you get the point.

So, next to tackle my lack of movement. Step one involved removing the bum-shaped crater in my sofa. Done. Step two was buying some lovely new workout gear and trainers – also done. Step three – move, very fast. This one’s taken a lot more hypothesizing but tonight I’m actually putting it into practise and I’m going to Zumba.

fat3  fat4

“Zumba, zumba”, I’ve heard it whispered through the ladies loos at work, seen frighteningly pink posters promising ‘the ride of your life’ and even sheepishly stood at the back of a class once. But the instructor was a chap who insisted on kicking a make-believe football every time we finished a move. Most off-putting and clearly I couldn’t go back again.

Tonight is different and I promise I will go and go again and again until this wobbly body resembles something like the pre-baby bod I once knew. In all seriousness I do feel like I don’t know my body anymore. Like it’s slipping further and further away from me and if I don’t grasp it back now it may never happen.

I want to understand what it can do, remember it could run and dance and not lose, completely the me that did dance and move and go to the gym.
So I’ll let you know how I get on and I will be putting theory into practise with my diet too. Any tips gratefully received!

Me and the boy
Arthur has a burgeoning obsession with making cakes, every time I pick him up from nursery and ask what he’s done he says: ‘Mix cakes’ which I know he hasn’t, having chatted to the girls about his day. We get home and he immediately wants to have some cake and has even resorted to imaginary play where he takes his little trolley and buys treats, most of which are, you guessed it – ‘cake’.

We made cakes at the weekend so I’ve been fuelling this obsession – in fact I’m sure I’m pretty much to blame for this obsession. Perhaps I can use this power to my advantage and cultivate an obsession for clean bedrooms, teeth-cleaning, getting dressed. Hmmm – who am I kidding.

Easter Shenanigans

It was very hard getting up and back into the swing of work this morning – we over slept and I think it was partly due to the fact I was refusing to believe the Easter weekend was finally over.

Why is it when you’re staring at a long weekend from the right end it feels like a huge expanse of time with days sprawling out in front of you. You plan activities, time with family, visits to the coast and crazy plans to cook up 15 different dishes you’ve never had time to attempt before (perhaps that’s just me). Once it’s started you’re so busy doing stuff that you suddenly look up and it’s over.

On Friday Arthur and I did made some dubious looking hand puppets, I’ve never been great with arts and crafts and I fear the little man has inherited my ‘crap at art’ gene. We both spent a lot of time looking at each other confused and a little bemused about what it was we’d actually created.
Jonathan looked at the mutant rabbit for a while and said: “Oh it’s a fun Easter thing!” Yes people we had created an ‘Easter thing’. To be fair it’s probably the best description and far less insulting to the endless stream of beautiful bunnies and chicks our friends have created. But we didn’t care!

art1

Next up was cake and bird’s nest baking – much better! I make a mean cake and this was a chocolate and banana creation topped with mini eggs and surrounded by Shredded Wheat nests. I do wonder, however, who these people are, the ones who have serene and wonderful baking experiences with their children where they work as a team and giggle and laugh while a touch of flour adorns their noses.
Ours was a battle of wits, would I be able to reach the spatula before he’d consumed the
full bowl of raw egg and margarine – he won. Next he had a small melt down when I refused to let him eat all the melted chocolate. Mind you it did take every ounce of willpower I had too so fair play – he’s only two! Giving him his own bowl with a small amount of ingredients was my next master plan. It worked for about two minutes until he tipped it on the work surface. I stopped to clear it up only for him to whip my bowl away and snuffle half the mixture – he’s a cunning fox my boy.

Eventually we emerged triumphant and glowing (though that may have been the egg yolk drying in our hair).

Arthur’s always so keen to see his cousins Florence and Jimmy so an Easter egg hunt at my mum and dad’s on Saturday was perfect. My dad had created a treasure hunt style event with clues and special Easter bags – it really was lovely. I get such a kick out of seeing them all together and even little Jimmy was able to join in a bit – he’s walking now so will soon be right in there. I love my dad – I know that’s a pretty standard statement but I really do. I never say it but he’s just amazing and no one can ever make me feel better than him. I love watching him with his grandchildren – he’s the rock in our family.
Mum – you rock too, more than you know, but it’s dad’s turn this week!

Arthur and Florence hunting for eggs

Arthur and Florence hunting for eggs

easter3 

Arthur is just starting to play with other children rather than that thing they do of playing side by side. It’s lovely to see and I can’t wait to watch this new skill grow.

On Sunday we all trundled over to my uncle in Suffolk – another great day catching up and increasing my warm family glow. Sunday really made me realise how important these days are. Moments when all the generations sit together, memories shared and created in the same moment. We realised it would have been my Grandpop Seppy’s 100th birthday this year. Arthur will never know him or my amazing Grandma who broke new ground and made decisions for her family for which I’ll be eternally grateful – maybe I’ll tell her story on here soon. Days like Sunday keep them alive and will mean Arthur knows the family I know and love and the stories that frame our world.

On Monday me, the boy and Jonathan heading off to the coast and it was utterly beautiful. Just simple and easy and Arthur loved it splashing in the tidal puddles and falling over in the sand. We had proper fish and chips and soaked up the last of the Bank Holiday loveliness.

My boy at the beach

My boy at the beach

beach1

So it’s Wednesday now and I’m still a little sad but I’ve refilled the bank of fun and memory building for a while. Lots of people played a role in our wonderful weekend, mums, dads, grannies, nannas, grandpas, papas, cousins, brother – I could go on. This weekend reminded me that bringing up a family is so much more than just the people you live with. It’s the people who weave through our memories, cook our favourite meal because they’ve known you since you were born; tell stories, love you and your children unquestioningly. Thank you to everyone – it really was special.

Almost worth having another baby……
I’m really excited because Bugaboo’s latest collaboration is with the iconic creature of contemporary cool – Andy Warhol.
Who hasn’t seen the epic Marilyn images? His work continues to be influential so sits perfectly with Bugaboos passion for innovation and style.
In May 2013 Bugaboo and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts launch the Warhol-inspired pushchair accessories. The collaboration celebrates the artist’s love for children’s inquisitive and creative minds and his ability to create timeless work that transcends any age or time period.
The Flowers series
Warhol explored his fascination with the fragility and beauty of flowers. Showcasing an eclectic mix of bright red and charcoal black, the selected print is both sophisticated and fun. The Flowers print is used on the sun canopy and tailored fabric set for the Bugaboo Bee, Bugaboo Cameleon3, and the Bugaboo Donkey. In addition, Bugaboo introduces a striking Flowers parasol, including Warhol’s famous print in light blue and green.

flowers1

The Cars Collection
The chosen print origins from 1962 and represents a sense of movement tying in effortlessly with Bugaboo’s go-and- explore-in-style vision. The Cars Collection integrates a playful, bold and graphical print in black and off-white and is featured on the sun canopies and tailored fabric sets for the Bugaboo Bee, Bugaboo Cameleon3, and the Bugaboo Donkey.

cars1
As I said…almost worth having a baby for! www.bugaboo.com