I told a lie and I rather loved it.#AllAboutYou

I told a lie today. A perfect, wonderful selfish lie and I carried it with me all day, tucked in my conscience. I’m not good at lying, I find it draining and difficult and develop an irrational fear that somewhere, at some time I’ll pay. But today was different.
I told a lie and it gave me back a little piece of the old me. The pre-child me and I’m not certain I wouldn’t do it again. It wasn’t huge or difficult and it weaved it’s way into conversation with shocking ease. It all started when I knew I had to go to the doctor’s today but I told everyone my appointment was a whole two hours before it was. It meant there was no point coming home before my hair cut. A whole two hours with no where to be.

So my lie and I bought coffee and wandered through cobbled streets that hate buggies. Peered into shops that remain closed to toddlers and I spent half an hour browsing old books. Books that tiny hands would smear with banana. I stood in an antique shop looking at myself in the misty glass of an 19th century mirror. The mist blurred my edges and for a moment made me feel 18 again. It was a little rebellion against responsibility, against always being reliable, dependable and mummy.

I’m a creative soul, it’s words and books and solitary thought that recharges my batteries. It all sounds a bit wanky in the light of day – but apart from Pirates Love Underpants and the like I don’t get to enjoy those things as much now. Sometimes it’s bloody hard to be yourself when some of you is stuck in another world waiting. So just heading out to find that other bit occasionally, meeting up and making your peace – well that’s just common sense right?

I love my boys unconditionally and my time with them is fantastic and joyous and something of which I’m never bored. But occasionally the other me needs some time, so today I did just that.

I told a lie which bought me a little time. It was the lie that made it special. If people had known I was wandering round recharging my batteries no one would have minded. But it wouldn’t have been the same. The frisson of excitement as I left the house was completely over the top, in fact it was a bit pathetic really.

But sitting here tonight I feel better, sunnier, a little less like someone else and a little more like me. I don’t feel any guilt, just a bit clearer. I enjoyed reading Pirates Love Underpants three times tonight and I reckon I can thank my little lie for that. It wasn’t white, or necessary or even particularly interesting. But it’s mine and I think I might love it just a little.

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HealGel Eye – holding back the years!

heal_gel_eye When I was sent some HealGel Eye cream to review, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The evening before I had scraped around the bottom of my eye cream jar hoping for just enough to stave off the wrinkled for another day – yeah right. I’ve used eye creams for a few years so I was keen to try this one – it looks great. Chic, expensive and with that slightly comforting medical appeal about the packaging. Here’s the magic bit: “HealGel Eye contains Arnica and Madecassoside which are suspended in liposomes with powerful peptides and biodynes to initiate a uniquely soothing and collagen boosting process. Sluggish micro-circulation is stimulated and irritation is soothed. In addition, HealGel Eye contains a duel action hyaluronic acid complex that locks moisture deeper into the skin and firms the eye contours.” If that’s left you a little bamboozled – heere’s what I thought:  I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and it’s really lovely. It feels light and easily absorbed and makes my delicate ey areas feel soft. The bottle says it will lift, brighten and revive and I’d say it has done all that. One thing it has helped far more than I thought it would is with my under eye shadows – my eyes are brighter and far less purple – which is always a good thing! Sometimes eye creams can feel too greasy or even make my eye sting but this did neither. It’s in a handy pump action bottle and one pump is easily enough for both eyes. At £32 for 15mls it’s certainly not cheap but it is effective and one of the nicest eye products I’ve used in a long time. If you want to try Heal Gel Eye or any of their other products hop over to the Heal Gel website. I wasn’t paid for this review but I was sent the product to review.

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Office politics – when women get personal

I work in an office with a lot of childless women – childless through choice.

There are no yearnings, bewildered missed moments and achings to be mothers. Nope, they don’t want them and can’t really see the appeal. Absolutely their choice but there’s an undercurrent. A  wave of dismissive banter that’s creeping in and rocking my boat a little more than I’d like.

Yesterday in the office I was talking about leaving Arthur with my mum Saturday night for the first time in months and months and how I was looking forward to it. One of the staunchly childless women said: “Can you even remember what it was like before he came along? I can’t imagine not having time to myself.” Another added: “But then I can’t imagine wanting to wipe bums and play with lego all day either.” They laughed. A wittering sort of smug, we’re only joking kind of laugh. To be fair most people are fantastic, supportive, interested in him and absolutely get it. But the ones that don’t, the ones that can’t see beyond their coupled existence, seem to think it’s fine to pass judgement – as long as you’re laughing.

I was surprised how upset I felt. I don’t care if they don’t want children, it’s none of my business but I would never turn round and say: “My god, I can’t believe you don’t want children. What’s wrong with you?”

It would be insulting and imply I knew best and, I don’t. Well not all the time. Yet their seemingly harmless banter  felt like it was a direct attack on me as a mother, my choices, my role and inevitably my ability to do my job. Now granted, there are moments I arrive with breakfast on my shirt or hair a little crispy to the touch. But I’ve never missed a deadline, never created something that didn’t get praised. Never walked around with my top on back to front…nope sorry, I have done that one.

I never want to be an evangelical mother who exhaults the virtues of motherhood at all turns and poo poos other choices – we all walk our own path. But bloody hell I’m not going to stand for that again. I’m good at my job, I’ve made it through five restructures still standing because of it.  I’m a good mum and I guess their comments hurt because that’s who I am. My job is just what I do sometimes.

So next time they decide to comment, hilariously on my boy and me, here’s my – equally hilarious – response:

“But I love playing lego, bringing up a new generation, wiping bottoms, creating a well-rounded interesting and interested person, baking buns and helping a little boy develop into a kind, intelligent and good man.  The kind that will be running the country and possibly your care home once you’re in it.  It puts writing some crap about finance into perspective doesn’t it.”

I do hope they find it as funny as I do.

Pancake Day – flipping marvellous!

It’s Pancake Day soon – flipping marvellous! Excuse the terrible pun but I love a pancake or two and it seems Arthur is also heading that way.

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I love anything with a theme and if I can add some food and the odd drink or two to the mix then I’m a happy bunny. I like to make it special and it doesn’t ahve to cost alot. Just putting food on pretty plates – I found this lovely optical illusions tray to serve my pre-pancake nibbles from.  I know Shrove Tuesday is traditionally about making the most of leftovers and in essence being frugal but I see it as another chance to get people I love together and spend time with them – pancakes are an added bonus!

We’ve already decided we’re having a special pancake tea which will include savoury and sweet flavours and a bit of a party atmosphere – well any excuse. Last year my mum and dad joined us and we started with chicken curry pancakes followed by Nutella and banana – both were big hits but I’m pushing the boat out this year.

So far on my pancake party menu we have: pancake2
Chicken curry
Apple and cider chicken
Ratatouille and goat’s cheese

Then on to pudding:
Classic Nutella and bananas
Roasted apple and cinnamon
Straight no messing lemon and sugar

I’ve been trawling the internet for inspiration and found some fanstastic ones to tempt the tastebuds.

There will be my mum, dad, my friends and their children and a whole lot of frying pans involved. I always have to borrow plates and glasses but I make a point of serving drinks in nice ones - I love these Forever Bubbling champagne flutes. It adds the the party feeling- even if it is just orange squash! I can’t wait. This year I might even add some more flavours to the mix – you can never have too many pancakes!

The Mummy Tag – Meme

Posted on February 13, 2014 by Jaime Oliver
Recently I was tagged in a bloggers meme by the lovely Jaime Oliver over at The Oliver’s Madhouse. I love finding out a little more about you lot behind the blogs, what makes you tick and what makes you smile – so here’s my two penneth.

1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum, or a Working Mum?
I work three days a week as a comms consultant for a large financial institution. It has its moments most of them being at the end of the month when I check my bank. Or when I have a a fun campaign to get my teeth into. Mainly it allows me to spend the rest of the week with my boy Arthur – he’s three next month.
I love blogging, quite simply because I love writing, it gives me another outlet for my witterings. It’s the diary you actually want everyone to read.

2. Would you have it any other way?
Hmm, that’s a difficult one. Three days is a nice balance for me but if I won the lottery I’m not sure I’d still be doing what I do. If I got made redundant tomorrow there are things I would miss hugely, like just being known for work I do, the stuff I write at work and the campaigns I get out on time. But I certainly wouldn’t miss leaving my boy two days a week, I say two because he spends Mondays with his daddy so I don’t count that! I like aspects of work but only if I was pushed would I really find out how much or little – if that makes sense.
3. Do you co-sleep?
No, it was never something I did but I’m all for it if it works for you. Luckily Arthur was a good sleeper but whatever gets you through I say.

4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?
I wholeheartedly agree with Jamie – baby wipes! They are magical marvels that remove all stains from all things.

5. How many kids do you plan on having?
I’d like one more – prefer an even number and I have a little brother I adore so I’d like Arthur to have someone he feels like that about too.

6. Date night? How many nights per month?
What night? Afraid we’re rubbish at that and need to sort it out. We often spends nights in together watching tv but rarely go out. To be fair we’re both slightly unsociable buggers!

7. Your child’s favourite show?
Thomas The Tank Engine and Fireman Sam, although the recent discovery of the Cars films and Toy Story means poor Thomas and Sam are on the verge of being chucked.

8. Name one thing you bought before you had your baby and never ended up using?
A bottle warmer, firstly because I breast fed and secondly because if he did have expressed milk it was far too much hassle to take it out with me.

9. Your child’s favourite food?
Chicken curry and rice – very mild curry with lots of creamy sauce. Sausage and mash is also a favourite. All chocolate is high on the list along with punnets of blueberries and endless supplies of banannas. Oh and currently he can’t get enough sticks of red pepper. He’s a boy who loves to eat.

10. How many cars does your family have?Just the one but as I walk to work we can’t justify the expense of another. I live in a city so everything is near by and walkable. Plus my mum lives five minutes away too.

11. Weight gain before pregnancy, during and after and now?
Oh god, I lost two and a half stone before I got pregnant, put on two while pregnant and have continued to see the scales go up since! I need to get it in order, particularly if I want another baby. I love food, really love it and it’s an ongoing battle.

12. Dream holiday with your kids?
I’d love to round everyone up into a winniebagoe and head out onto Route 66 for an adventure.

13. Dream holiday without your kids?
Vietnam and Cambodia and a nice city trip to Rome – I know that’s two but child-free holidays are not going to happen for a long time so I can dream!

14. How has your life changed since your baby has been born?
I’m no longer the centre of my world and it’s the first time I know, without doubt, I’d give my life for someone else’s. I no longer think in the singular and I know the thought of him being hurt by anyone would be more painful than anything. Someone said to me when you have children: ” A piece of your heart is set free to roam about without you.” That sums it up for me. That and the realisation you no longer think anything of wiping someone’s bottom!

15. Finish the sentence: ‘It makes my heart melt to see ‘Arthur sleeping and left over crumble in the fridge.’

16. Where do you shop for your kids?
Often online at Zuilly and also Gap and John Lewis but I alo love H&M for bargains.

17. Favourite makeup and skincare products?
Chanel mascara and Touche Eclat – they are the indulgences I won’t give up.

18. Huggies or Pampers?
To be fair I never used either – I was converted to Aldi nappies and stuck with them, cheap and good quality and never leaked – what more do you want.

19. Have you always wanted kids?
I’m not sure, during my twenties I didn’t give it much thought but I guess I never envisaged life without them either.

20. Best part about being a mum?
Someone calling: ” mummy!” even if it is from the loo. Someone who continues your family thread and when they smile, look like a grandparent or an uncle. Having someone who loves you so unconditionally and who you love unconditionally too. Being able to go to adventure parks and other child-focussed places without getting strange looks!

I am now tagging:
Colette Burgess and Kerrie McGiveron

Our Little Adventures with Barny

When we received our yummy Barny snacks we decided to celebrate by going on a bird hunt- like a bear hunt only up in the air! There’s a wonderful nature reserve not far from us so we set off with our picnic and our mini binoculars to find some feathered friends.

Arthur loves being outside exploring and finding new things and I love the fact that everything is a new adventure, a wonderment and in that moment, quite simply, the best thing he’s seen. Seeing the world through a toddler’s eyes is the best way to rediscover nature and that’s exactly what we did.

Of course we stopped for a picnic and to enjoy our Barny snacks- Arthur loves biting the heads of first and I love the fact they have no nasty additives or preservatives in them either. We had the apple one on our adventure and they were declared “yummy” by the chief tester.
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We spent ages in the hide spotting geese on the water, sparrow hawks in the sky and quite a few pigeons- there are always pigeons! Arthur loved using his little binocular daddy gave him and couldn’t quite believe he could see so much by peering through. We were quite the twitchers!

Next we took a wander through the woodlands and saw the most beautiful snowdrops sitting prettily beneath the trees. They always make me feel happy, as if Spring, is sending word that it won’t be long. Arthur insisted on stroking them and it dawned on me he’d never seen them before so we all bent down and looked at these tiny little wonders.

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We had a wonderful day full of new experiences and I came away feeling invigorated and happy. It was windy and chilly but it didn’t matter as we’d discovered a whole new world on our doorstep.

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘Winter Little Adventures Challenge’ sponsored by Barny, individually wrapped bear-shaped sponges with a hidden filling. Find out more about Barny here”.

Peppa Pig Weebles review

We were lucky enough to be asked to review one of the new Peppa Pig Weeble toys – oh yes weebles still wobble and they still don’t fall down.
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There are several different versions and we were sent the wobbly car complete with Peppa Pig character. Arthur loves watching Peppa Pig so I was intrigued to see what he thought of the toys. He loved it! The little car was easy to use with little hands and quite robust, especially when it was made to ‘race’ his tractor and dumper truck.
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In a sea of post-Christmas toys with flashing lights, noises and countless buttons it was quite nice to have a simple toy which didn’t take a degree in physics to get it to work. Arthur thought the wobbly character was hilarious! I don’t think he’d seen anything like it before and he spent ages just trying to push it over. I’m pleased to say it didn’t fall down once!
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All in all this was a lovely little toy,and at £14.99 it’s not a bad price –  great for young toddlers, bright, colourful and easy to use.

Smoking in the car with children – should we legislate parenting?

So smoking in the car with children – it’s a no brainer right? Clearly we can’t have it, it’s not acceptable and anyone who does it should be subject to the criminal law.

Part of me can’t even believe there’s a debate about this subject. But the other part of me, the part that sits back and takes a moment, thinks that maybe those in disagreement have a point. It’s another debate which highlights how important it is that legislation is not born out of emotion.

Smoking in a car with children is hideous and those with an ounce of common sense know this. There is, however, an argument that when the state interferes to this extent we are taking parenting out of the realms of the home and handing squarely back to those in Whitehall. The idea of a Nanny State is nothing new it’s a concept bandied about for years but debates like this bring it to the forefront.

Most parents don’t smoke in the car but most is not all. Those children who fall outside this need protecting and yes, perhaps the parents need shaming into it. Now that using a mobile phone in the car is illegal I feel myself staring in outrage at fellow drivers who flout this – but do they really care?

Would those parents who feel smoking in the car is ok really care if they may, on the off chance, get stopped by the police. Sadly I don’t think so. Legislation does not a good parent make. Education is far more powerful and wide reaching without taking the emphasis away from the parents and handing it to Dave and his pals.

If I saw a mum or dad smoking in the car with their children it would make me feel hideously upset, it would hit at the heart of what we do as parents – to protect. But that, in a nutshell is an emotional response, my reaction is not the marker for legality. Are we going make it illegal to feed your children junk food? How about not holding hands when near a busy road?

I think, on balance, making it illegal is a good thing but I also think it’s a tightrope that’s getting ever so slightly more precarious the further we walk.  Education, education, education – to spout a somewhat forgotten political mantra – has to have many more far-reaching benefits than making parents criminals who will further resent the state and any intervention.

To those stupid parent I say: “Don’t smoke when your children are in the car – it’s crazy.” But I don’t suppose they will give a flying fuck. If you do this to your children it’s probably not the only area of parenting you’re struggling with and that’s the issue. Legislation puts a sticky plaster over this but education will help us address the why.

Our wonderful weekend box

Arthur and I were lucky enough to try one of these weekend boxes and I have to say- we thought it was great!
BOX1

It comes in a lovely colourful box which is already enticing to little hands and imaginations and what’s inside doesn’t let down either.
We had huge fun making sand pictures and while they might not have looked exactly as I intended we loved it. Arthur chose his colours and tried very hard to get them in the right place but in the end we just had some marvellous multi-coloured fun.

The box really does have everything, even down to little packets of glue. This is a massive thumbs up from me- I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down to do some crafts only to forget we have no glue, string, glitter etc.
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I loved the bird feeder made with lollipop sticks and I think this was Arthur’s favourite part. It came with a big bag of bird seed and for three days he dutifully filled it up and watched the little birds have their lunch. For tea that night we made the potato boats which were very easy and very effective.
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All in all the box was a brilliant addition to a rainy weekend, full of great stuff and every little detail was thought through. You get stickers to add to your cards once you’ve done an activity and Arthur has put these in his bedroom – he loves a sticker!

We’ve yet to make the 3d glasses but the forecast is looking grim this weekend so they might be on the list!

We're going on an adventure