Thursday, 27 October 2011

Reflecting on my Groove (and How to Eat an Elephant)

This post is part of the weekly blog hop ‘Grooving Mums’ at Kate on Thin Ice. The blog hop has been running 5 weeks now, and this week Kate’s challenge was to reflect on the progress we have made to date. You can read more about the blog hop here.

So, time to reflect on how I’m doing.

My Blog
The thing that has made the biggest change to my life in the past couple of months has been my blog. It’s about 2 months old now. Before I started it, I felt stuck in a rut.  I felt mentally unstimulated. I felt like I needed something ‘different’ to think about. My blog has helped reinvigorate and inspire me, and given me an outlet ‘just for me’.  The grooving mum’s blog hop has been great too, because as a newbie, it’s given me an outlet to meet some great other mums, and made me realise that I’m not alone, there are many other mums out there, all trying to find their own particular groove too. Reading other people’s stories and seeing what they are up to has been inspirational. It’s encouraging me to have a go and try some new things too.

Making ‘Me Time’
I’ve been doing quite well at taking some time out for myself, ie, my day out recently.  It’s hard not to feel guilty or selfish when I do it, but gradually I’m realising, I need a proper break too, and in that time, focussing on things that interest me, feeds my mind and makes me happier. Little treats like taking some time to buy some new underwear or have a haircut have also helped. They may only be small but they still make a difference.

I’ve also tried to nurture my body a bit more in the last month. So, recently I’ve had TWO WHOLE WEEKS without a sip of wine (a rarity indeed) and switched from a regular sized Latte to a small.  Small changes, but actually, they’ve made a difference.  I swear my trousers feel looser!

Recently, I started thinking about the behaviours I used to value and (try and demonstrate at work) and why just because I’m at home now, I don’t seem to value those as much.  I’ve realised, I do still value such things, but along the way I stopped doing them.  At work I was incredibly organised, but at home, I’d become incredibly unorganised in some areas.  Food shopping was one; I was going to the shops every single day to buy food for dinner that night.   Expensive and time consuming. But, in recent weeks I’ve got my act together, I’ve made a meal planner, with a list of 20 meals we eat regularly, and once a week, I’ve chosen the meals, driven to the supermarket, bought ALL the ingredients for the next week and stuck to the plan.  Since I’ve been doing just this simple thing, things feel less of a hassle, and I actually feel strangely satisfied by the simple act of implementing this new process - I’m getting my old organised groove back!  The planning ahead has also encouraged me to open a couple of recipe books and do some proper home cooking again, which has been great. 

There are a couple of elephants that affect my groove.  The first is my longing for another child. I know I am lucky to have one, so I’m not going to bang on about it. But, suffice to say, I’m constantly chasing the cycles of the moon, and I have good months and bad months. On a bad month, sometimes I do fall off the ‘groovy train’ and temporarily into the pit of misery. Most of the time, I’m pretty good at picking myself up. Cake helps.

The other elephant is my SAH mum-ness. Largely because of elephant no 1, I sometimes feel stuck in limbo-land.   I constantly put off making decisions about other areas of my life, like whether to try and find a part-time job, or volunteer because I constantly think and hope that I’ll be pregnant that month. It ends up being a paralysing situation as inevitably a month comes and goes, and then the whole cycle of waiting/wishing/putting off decision-making begins again.  I know I need to get past this, but I find it very difficult, so this affects my groove too.  I guess I’ll eventually work out what is right for me and I’ll get there in my own time. 

Writing about elephants reminds me of when I was a young graduate, and first started work. I had a meeting with my boss to talk about a big project.  He asked me the classic business management question  ’How do you eat an Elephant?” (The 21 year old me was a little dumbfounded.) The answer was, “one bite at a time”.  I guess that sums up pretty much what I’m doing now.  Just taking it all one bite at a time. 

Disclaimer.  Obviously I would never really eat an elephant. I love them far too much to ever be able to do that. 


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Horrors of Halloween

Usually, I get most excited about Halloween.  I love the theatrics of it, the glimmering pumpkins, the ghoulish outfits, the sense of anticipation.  I’m a big kid at heart, I love dressing up.  I love seeing little children dressed up, and decorating my front window with skeletons and other spooky paraphernalia to hopefully enthral them when they visit.  I feel a little rush of joy, a euphoria, when the door bell rings and I open it to see a little crowd of witches, ghouls and beasts standing on my doorstep uttering in unison; ‘Trick or Treat’.

That is, until last year.  Something changed last year. Firstly we got a lot more visitors, (I’m sure the local kids were tweeting each other the locations of the good stuff–‘Quick! Chocolate eyeballs at 66 Skeleton drive..’)  And secondly, some of them rather put this old witch’s nose out of joint. So this year, I’m not quite so keen, in fact, I feel so ‘bah humbug!’ about it, I might just not bother at all.

Last year. 

Imagine the scene. It was early evening, two delicately carved, lit pumpkins flickered either side of the front gate, like signposts to welcome would-be visitors. Little Pip was dressed in a spider outfit (looking adorably cute.)  By the front door, a little felt pumpkin bucket, full of treats.  


There were lots of callers in straight succession. Cute little kids; a little boy with an axe coming out of his head – he pressed a button next to it, with grave solemnity, and a trickle of blood ran down his face.  It really was ingenious.  Little Pip was enthralled by the excitement of it all.  He had no idea what he was giving out (ie, chocolate) but seemed to think holding out the orange pumpkin bucket to the children on the doorstep was rather fun, and the children were very sweet with him too.  There were lots of rather nice Plumpton mummies, standing back beyond the gate calling out the usual pleasantries, “Make sure you say ‘Thank you’ etc etc.  All very nice, very West London, thank you very much.

A little later. DING DONG, DING DONG.  A chaos of slightly older children, maybe aged 9 or 10.  A large, spectacled boy pushed to the front, and grabbed lots of goodies from our bucket, and then turned around, shouting very loudly, in a most pompous manner, to the rest of the group:

“Warning! SERIOUSLY low supplies of confectionary”. I was appalled at his ungrateful attitude and rude behaviour. Where was this boy’s mother? He needed a good ‘telling off.’ (To put it politely.)

Another child looked disparagingly at my Cadbury’s mini confectionary offerings and said:

"Do you have any Chocolate Eyeballs?” 

“ Err…no sorry,” I said, “I did have some, but they’re all gone.” (To which, I felt like adding; ‘Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to fill a whole bucket with chocolate eyeballs at this time of year?)

The next child stared into the bucket, and said;  

“ Do you have anything that isn’t chocolate? I’m gluten free”. 

A banana from the kitchen clearly wasn’t what he had in mind. My sensory powers told me he was probably thinking more along the lines of Haribo.  Only in Plumpton, land of the rice cake and sugar-free biscuit would a child turn up at the door and state their dietary requirements whilst they trick or treat.

I shut the door.  By this point, my confidence in my Halloween offerings shattered by a group of critical 9 year olds.   I looked into my pumpkin bucket. Not much left.  Maybe this flash flood of tricksters really was the result of a tweet fest. Then I had a brainwave.   I remembered my stash of mini-Cadburys crème eggs at the back of the pantry. (A ridiculously large amount, gifted by a friend who had visited Cadbury world in Birmingham).

I filled the bucket with the eggs to the top.  I was most pleased with myself. A way to get rid of the eggs – at last.


Another coven of witches.  And a smart-alec wizard.  As I proffered my basket, he shot a withering look my way and stated;

“Interesting….Easter Eggs… at Halloween. I’ve never seen THAT before”
“No easter eggs for you then, you sarky little blighter,” I felt like saying, as I gritted my teeth.  The rest of the children didn’t seem to mind though. They took their eggs willingly and made their cursory thank you’s.  By this point, the novelty of Halloween was wearing thin. It was also starting to bug me slightly that they weren’t even doing anything for the treats.  No joke, or singing of a song, not even a token ‘Woooooo’ from the ghost or a cackle from the witch. In fact, some of them hadn’t even bothered to dress up. They just stood there, uttering ‘Trick or Treat’ in a dull, monotone fashion, whilst they clutched their already huge swag of sweets, and expected more, as if it were their god-given right.

Then they started to criticise my pumpkin.  (Yes, it’s mouth was a little wonky due to a slip of the knife, but really, there is no need to compare out loud, just how much better your pumpkin is, not in earshot of someone who has just given you sweets.


A couple of revellers looked scathingly into my sparse, pumpkin basket.  A couple of lonely mini crème eggs, rolled around at the bottom.  All that remained after a night of chocolate looting and masked insults to my fragile ego.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “ This is all I have left.”
“Have you got any MONEY?” They said.

“Can you see a sign saying BANK?” I asked.

And with that, the final splinter that broke my broomstick handle, I walked outside, collected my two, very nicely carved pumpkins, bought them inside, closed the door, and turned off the lights.

Halloween was officially OVER.

I am still undecided whether I will actively participate in this year’s festivities, (especially as Little Pip is still pretty much oblivious to the existence of Halloween). However, if I do, obviously I’ll be remembering the following: Easter Eggs are not cool, gluten free offerings are required, and on no account, at all, on the 31st October should there ever be ‘seriously low supplies of confectionary’.  Oh yes, and I’ll also be sure to leave my purse by the door, as if I do run low on sweet supplies, not to worry, they’ll take cash instead.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The A-Z of Me

I was tagged for this meme last week by the lovely Glasgow Mummy.  I think the title says it all. So, without further ado, here are a few choice facts about me, ranging from A to Z.

ANORAK…Do you have a sad side?
Not really.  I have a fixation with ensuring Tea is always made with freshly boiled water.  And a strange obsession with clichés.  I love a good cliché.

BODY…What physical attribute would you most like to change?  
Overall, I ‘m pretty happy with what I’ve got.  If I were being fussy, I’d say I don’t really like the profile of my nose. But, I think a smaller one would look silly on my face.  I occasionally lament the small size of my chest.  It would be nice to not look like a boy when naked, but even that doesn’t bother me enough to do anything about it.

CELEBRITY…Which one would you most like to date and why?  
Rupert Penry - Jones is rather lovely.  I think he has an elegant mix of intelligence and good looks.  I thought he was fabulous in Spooks.

DEBUT …Tell us about your first ever blog post. What made you start blogging? 
My first ever blog post was in August 2011. It was called ‘Plumpton on Thames – Why this mother loves her little part of London’.  I started blogging because I felt that I needed an outlet for me.  Being a SAHM has been harder than I thought. I missed the mental stimulation of work or studying and I wanted to use my brain again.  It sounds ridiculous to say I have found staying at home stressful, but in it’s own way, it has been.  I’ve only been going a few months, but blogging has literally been like therapy for me.  I feel happier. 

ERROR …What’s been your biggest regret?  

To quote the wonderful Frank Sinatra; “Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”   Enough said.

FUNNY – who’s making you laugh?
My son.  A two year old’s perspective on life is fascinating, and hilarious!
I also love a good bit of slapstick. In the summer I went to see ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ starring James Corden at the National Theatre. I literally cried with laughter. (It’s on now at the Adelphi if you want to see it.) 

GRAND…If we gave you one right now what would you spend it on?  

My secret lust-after item is a MacBook Air. (Mainly for it’s lightweight portability), but actually, given the cost of forthcoming renovations at Faulty Towers, a grand would probably come in very handy to put towards buying new doors, windows or tiles for the roof.  

HOLIDAY… What’s your favourite destination?
For a week of luxury, good food, constant sunshine and clear blue seas, I’d head to the Banyan Tree in the Maldives.  Simply stunning.

IRRITATE… What’s your most annoying habit?

Taking an absolute age to get ready for bed. It drives my husband insane.

JOKER…What’s your favourite joke {the one that makes you laugh everytime you hear it}? 
There’s an ‘in’ joke between the husband and I about who gets the most sleep. (It’s not even a joke as such) but every time he mentions it, I start to laugh because he knows just touching on the topic makes me mad. (He claims I get MUCH more sleep than him - complete nonsense!)

KENNEL… Do you have any pets?  

No.  I think the animal hair would drive me mad.

LOVE…Are you single, married, engaged, living with a long term partner?  

I am a Mrs, not a Miss.

MEAL… Whats your ultimate starter, main and dessert? 

An authentic French onion soup with a big cheesy crouton is a favourite starter – as long as it’s the real deal.  For a main course, I love a good piece of beef fillet, well cooked, with a flavoursome jus and some concoction featuring potato to accompany. (Give me my carbs!)   My all time favourite dessert is my Mum’s homemade Gooseberry Frangipane, served with lashings of crème fraiche. It’s heaven on a plate.

NOW…If you could be anywhere right now where would you be and who with? 

With my 2 boys. (The big one and the little one), sitting in the artisan bakery around the corner with some great coffee, a babyccino and lots of cake.

OFF DUTY…What do you do in your spare time?  
Blog/Read Blogs/Write/Daydream.
Go for coffee. I am rather partial to a well made, creamy Latte.
Play online Scrabble.
I’m partial to a bit of shopping.
Talk to my mum on the phone…it’s good to talk.
Once a month I try to get out with a girlfriend for dinner or lunch – child free!

PROUD MOMENTS …What are you most proud of?  
My boy.
My pre-baby career.
My ability to draw on my grit when times are tough and carry on.

QUEASY …What turns your stomach? 
The sight of anything bloody or scabby. I could never have been a Doctor or a Nurse.

RELAX…How do you relax?  

I find a well cooked meal and a nice glass of Pinot Noir does the trick.

SONG…What’s your favourite song of all time?  
‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra is one of my favourites.  It always makes me smile. I’ve spent quite abit of time there, and the song always evokes some great memories.
TIME …If you could go back in time and relive it again, when would you choose?
A wonderful date with my husband.  It was December, we went Christmas shopping, and then had afternoon tea at The Dorchester.  It was a fantastic day. The snow started falling, and we saw a ‘just married’ couple being photographed on the steps as we left.  It was so romantic. We got married a couple of years later. That day was the inspiration for us choosing to have a Christmas wedding.

UNKNOWN…Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows?  

I can’t. I have to keep something for myself…
VOCAL…. Who is your favourite artist?  

I rather like Michael Buble. Big Band is so cheery.

WORK….. What is your dream job, and are you doing it now?  

I’ve been giving this one a lot of thought recently.  I’d love to own a children’s bookshop with a facility to act out and bring to life a ‘story of the week’.  

XRAY…Any broken bones?

No. I’ve always been very careful.

YIKES…What’s been your most embarrassing moment?
Being constipated on a trek in Peru. Altitude affects people in different ways! The whole camp cheered when I finally emerged out of the toilet tent on day 6 having done my business. Most embarrassing.

ZOO…. If you were an animal, which one would you be?

I wouldn’t want to be an animal in a Zoo. I’d like to be a Condor flying free. Condors mate for life, they both look after their babies, and they don’t eat other animals. They fly very gracefully for such big birds. I saw a Condor when I was in the Andes and thought it was fantastic.

I am going to break the rules and not tag anyone else for this meme. I think I may have used up all my tagging points recently! However, if you'd like to take part, please consider this an invitation.  What are you waiting for? A is for Action! 

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Imagination of Little Pip and The Week of Bad Dreams


…Daddy is stuck in the clouds. How are we going to get him down?’
…We need to move all the big rocks in case they fall on us. Quick!’
…The big fish swallowed me in his belly. How am I going to get out?’
…Our car is stuck and I can see a gorilla/giraffe/dinosaur. It’s coming to eat me.’
…I am a dragon and I breathe fire’. It’s VERY HOT. Look, you’re on fire!’
…You need to dig a big, big hole in the ground so I can get in.  I am a wiggly worm’
…I can see the Monster.  It’s coming to get me.’

‘Mummy, I don’t like bad dreams’.

Something has happened to Little Pip.  Someone has entered the fuse box in his head, and flicked the switch labelled ‘Imagination’ to ON.  Each day we have great surging volts of imagination fuelling our play.  It’s a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs.  He adventures from being a captain to a spider, from a dragon to an elf. Next time I turn around, he’s a hopping bunny.   No scenario seems impossible for his small mind to create. There is the car with the wheels that have come off , leaving him stranded whilst child eating giraffes approach.  There is the pirate treasure buried in the garden, protected by fierce, defensive slugs.  There is the river we must cross without our lost boat.  And finally, the frequent moment where he adopts the persona of a dinosaur and roars very, very loudly after telling me to 'clap my ears'.  Some of his mental adventures are endearingly sweet.  Some are not so, they are darker.  He recently started to use the word ‘MONSTER’. I don’t even know where he learnt about monsters.  But he doesn’t like them. Wherever he learnt about them, he also learnt, that monsters aren’t good. They’re the bad guys.  'Monster' usually comes to visit Little Pip around teatime, when it’s getting dark, and as far as I can tell, seems to be something to do with the light reflected in the kitchen windows.  Usually the net result of ‘Monster’ visiting is either eating tea on mummy’s lap or just crying and refusing to eat any at all.

I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a connection between this upsurge in creative play and the hideously bad, sleepless nights we have all experienced recently.  Last week, most nights we were woken in the middle of the night with hysterical screaming.  When I went to his room he was hopping round, mad as Rumplestiltskin.  I could not reason with him, I could not placate him; nothing would work, except waiting for him to cry it out (and then getting into bed with him until he went back to sleep.)   He was just beside himself.  Then, each night, I found as bedtime approached, his face would look sorrowful, and as I pulled back the covers for him to climb into bed, he would say; ‘ I don’t like bad dreams, Mummy.’  

It is so hard to know what to do for the best.  His vocabulary is good for his age, but his comprehension is still catching up, and that’s tough.   In the middle of the night, he can’t disassociate himself from the dream. He can’t understand in that moment that it isn’t real.  I tried to teach him a little hex, (that word makes me sound like a witch but I can’t think of any other way to put it). I showed him how to put his fingers to his temples, and told him if he did that, it would go away.  Now I catch him at bedtime, talking to himself.  He does the little action and I can hear him saying happily; ‘I just do this if I have a bad dream, and then it goes away’. But in the middle of the night, it’s no good. He’s forgotten. He is past the point of reason.

So this week, I’ve been sitting here questioning myself, my parenting.  Is this just a completely natural stage or have I exposed him to things that are fuelling this?

Ever since he was very young, I’ve read stories to him. Our house is like a little library.  I love reading with him, the way he cuddles up, makes his funny observations and shows such interest in a story.   Most of the books we read are about animals, because that’s what he loves, but they don’t contain anything sinister, or that I’d consider worrying for a small child.   Likewise with TV, I am careful to only let him watch age appropriate programmes. Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse and Ben and Holly’s little Kingdom are his favourites.  And (moments of desperation aside), I have a no TV in the day rule, which most of the time I am quite good at enforcing.  So, he is definitely not an overexposed toddler TV addict.  However, it doesn’t seem to matter, he still seems to take the content he sees and twist it round. Which I’m sure is why last week he had been swallowed by a fish. Because this is what happened to the elf submarine, (as in..Ben and Holly ). It was eaten by big bad Barry, (a fish) and the only way for it to get out again was for the elves to make big bad Barry laugh.  So there was I, trying to replicate a similar scenario, so our imaginary big bad Barry would laugh and let Little Pip out of its tummy. 

On the one hand, I love the fact that he has such a vivid imagination. Yet, on the other,  I don’t want him to exhaust himself needlessly by scaring himself, either in day ie, 'Monster teatime' or at nightime. And to be honest, the sleepless nights are driving me slightly crazy too.  We’re all getting tired and a bit cranky through lack of sleep now.  My gut instinct tells me it's just a stage. To nurture the fun stuff, and try and delicately manoeuvre him away from the darker scenarios.   I don't really know what else I can do.

Looking on the bright side, there have also been some classic moments.  Such as this one yesterday, on the potty:

“ Mummy, I have just squeezed a lemon out of my botty”
“Quick! We’ve got to get out of’s coming to get us!”.

Lemon scented deposits in the potty.  That’s one imaginary scenario I would be happy with in real life.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Getting My Groove Back : A Day To Myself

This week has been a little bit slower on grooving progress.   The start of the week was met with some disappointment, which meant I fell off the happy wagon slightly.  However, I had a word with myself, consigned my self-pity to the bin, got up, dusted myself down, and resolved to march on.  In light of aforementioned happy wagon fall, I did something I rarely do.  I had a day to myself.  Frankly, I just thought, ‘Bugger It’.  This is a 'Me Time EMERGENCY.’  So, with the little man safely being looked after, I took myself off into the big smoke for the day.  Such a world of possibilities, what would I do with myself for a day?

About 10 years ago, one of my favourite places in the world to spend a morning was Alfie’s Antique Market in Marylebone.  Four fantastical floors of retro, antiques and curiosities.  I used to waste hours in there.  It’s the sort of place I love.  I just lose myself, pouring over old things, wondering who owned them, what they were used for and how some things, so fine, so rare, ended up there - without an owner.

Yesterday, I took myself back to Alfies.  What a fabulous morning I had.  It was early morning and not too busy when I got there, I got talking to a couple of the dealers who were more than happy to chat away.  I ran my fingers over gorgeous vintage clothes and shoes, in ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’, and gazed for too long at vintage advertising posters in ‘Dodo.’  In the pricier areas, I marvelled at the extortionate cost of some ridiculously impractical retro furniture (clearly being mused over by some interior designers with bigger budgets than I will ever have). And in a bric a brac room, I found an intriguing bunch of old letters. I took myself up to the top floor café, and sat on the roof terrace with a Latte, looking over London as it thawed in the warm sunshine. Later, I spent a long time rummaging through boxes of old Victorian photographs, vintage menus, and various other social history paraphernalia, just because I could.  Indulgent, thoroughly indulgent. I awoke from my daze like state when the owner of the café came down from the floor above to tell me that I had absconded without paying for the coffee. Oops. (Clearly it is not safe for me to be out on my own.)

Having whiled away half the day, I made my way down to Marylebone High Street, and indulged myself again at Daunt’s Books.  A fabulous book shop. Another trance inducing place. Bookshops mesmerise me, especially this one.  I love looking at the titles, the covers, reading the synopsis on the back. They had some fabulous editions of old favourites, all bound in beautiful papers.  They looked stunning on the shelves. They were calling to me, 'Buy me, Buy me!'  Instead, I added a book to my Christmas list.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  It looked like my kind of read.

My sojourn was coming to an end as I reached Oxford Street, supposedly to get the bus home. But I found that visions of a woman with a sharply cut orange bob commanded me, yes, commanded me…to visit House of Fraser.  Mary Portas, Queen of Shops was calling, ‘Come, enter my stylish shop…my aurora dress could change your life.’ And so, hypnotic like, I obeyed.  I love Mary Portas. I always watch her on the TV.  I think she’s cool and stylish, I think she’s funny.  She’s a woman that’s got her groove.  A woman with va-va voom.  (Once I considered copying her hairstyle, but was dissuaded by the look of disdain on my husband’s face. It seems that he is not as much of a Mary fan as I.)  Anyway, off I went, to pay homage to Mary in her new retail mecca.  The place was heaving.  Lots of 40 + women, buying up everything in sight.  Clearly Mary is doing something right.  Mary’s items were lovely but I found myself resisting. Maybe it’s because I’m not quite at her ‘women over 40 demographic yet.  Luckily for House of Fraser, Mary’s calling me was to their benefit as I did end up buying a rather lovely silk flowery shirt.  I think this will look rather fab with last weeks new boots purchase and some skinny jeans.  Here they both are:

Boots: Pied a Terre. Shirt: Gerard Darel

I ended my day with some acupuncture.  I am a big believer in acupuncture.    It can assist with many things.   Mostly I have it to assist in my ongoing quest to try to conceive another baby - studies have shown acupuncture can help with fertility.   It’s all about ensuring a good flow of energy around your body.   I also find it helps me sleep better.  Last night I had the best nights sleep I've had in ages.

Did I feel guilty and indulgent yesterday?  Yes, I did - a bit. Was it worth it? Yes, it was. I felt better.  I got out of the goldfish bowl of everyday life; I did something different, something stimulating. It was wonderful.  I feel much more like the old 'me' today. 

A Note On Pants

Last week Kate set the challenge of stretching ourselves (beyond the knicker elastic) to overhaul our underwear drawer.  A very good challenge.  When it comes to knickers, I’m a Marks & Spencer kind of girl.  A good M&S briefs multipack is my failsafe choice.   (And here is a thrifty tip… black underwear usually lasts longer than white, because it doesn’t discolour or go grey!  Plus, black also has the advantage of making one’s bottom look slightly smaller.)  Anyway, here’s my effort.  Most pleased with the new undies. 

M&S Lace Briefs 5 pack. Modelled by Teddington.
(And before anyone says…how small is your bottom?? There is a freezer clip pulling them together at the back so that they fit him.  And yes, his hat is supposed to be like that, he is covering his eyes in shame.)
What have you done to get your groove back this week? Check out the other entries at Kate on Thin Ice.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Getting My Groove Back

Each week there is a blog hop at Kate on Thin Ice.   This is an inspiring blog hop for mums who want to either rediscover some of their old groove, or even maybe find a new one.  You can read more about it here:

So, what have I done to get my groove back this week?

1. Dressing down (a few sizes!)

This week I set myself the challenge of buying a new swimsuit.  Every Monday I take Little Pip for a swimming lesson. For the past year, I have been wearing a maternity swimsuit. There’s no good reason for this, I have just been lazy and for the sake of half an hour a week, I forgave myself this style sin, due to the fact I was immersed in water, and people really couldn’t see much of me!  This week I decided, enough was enough. It’s nearly two and a half years since I was pregnant.  Time to give up the baggy old bather, garner a little self respect, and suit up into something more respectable, especially as I do actually think *I have a figure to be reasonably proud of. * (Regular readers: that’s the PR piece from last weeks challenge!) So, I set off this week to find a swimsuit. It wasn’t as easy as I thought, but a prolonged session struggling with Lycra in a changing room proved fruitful, and next Monday I think my self-esteem will definitely receive a boost as I enter the pool in my new streamlined cossie.

2. Being neighbourly.

We moved to ‘Faulty Towers’ 10 months ago now, and whilst we have met a few of the neighbours, mostly they keep themselves to themselves. There is one other family on our street with young children.  They have a boy the same age as Pip.  I have seen the mother on numerous occasions on the road, over the 10 months we’ve lived here, and we've both uttered countless times, ‘Oh, you must come over for a cup of tea.’ But I felt it had got to the point that it was just small talk, after such a long time.  So, this week, I saw said mum, and I suddenly found myself, saying, ‘You must come over, THIS week.’ and seeking to determine a firm date. So, last Thursday she came for tea.

Since we moved to Faulty Towers (a complete, dilapidated old dump), I have felt reluctant to have visitors.  It’s cold, it’s dark, the heating doesn’t work, the wallpaper is hideous.  Right now, it’s not a home for entertaining, and obviously friends who know me well, know I wouldn’t have papered a whole room in bright red wallpaper with vomit coloured flowers, but new visitor’s don’t – so it makes me feel self conscious.

The night before the ‘tea date’ I wished I hadn’t invited her. (Actually, I blamed my participation in this blog hop as the reason why I had invited her!).  I started to zoom round tidying up, and cleaning. In the end, my husband firmly told me I should stop, uttering the rather stinging phrase…‘You can’t polish a turd’. A damning indictment of our abode, but slightly true. And he was right, the peeling wallpaper and moth-eaten carpets weren’t going to go away by my tidying incessantly.

As is usually the case with these things, I shouldn’t have worried.  The other mother turned out to be very friendly. She insisted politely that her house was in a much worse state than mine (I think she was being nice), and she gave me some helpful tips on trying to hurdle some of the issues I am having with the council planning permission team.  I was really pleased I had made the effort to get to know her better.  It is nice to know your neighbours, to have someone to say a cheery hello to, to moan about the weather with, to have someone to share a cup of tea with; someone who (almost) shares the same little piece of the world as you.

3. A day out with a friend.

On Wednesday I went shopping with a friend.  She was on a mission to complete her ‘back to work’ wardrobe. It was great fun, watching her try lots and lots of smart, gorgeous clothes on, and having a good catch up over coffee.  She is very funny and cheerful, and that’s contagious. I felt exhausted after a week of very little sleep, but she really buoyed me up. So much so, I even treated myself to some lovely new brown knee high boots. I think they will go very well with my autumn wardrobe of muted colours.

4. A haircut

Inspired by Rambling Pages last post, I booked a trip to the hairdressers.  The last time I had my haircut was July, so I figured it was time to take the barnet into the hairdressers for a tidy up and reshape.  It’s amazing what a good blow dry can do, my hair feels silky smooth. I don’t know why I didn’t go earlier, because it looks SO much better.

You can find the linky for the blog hop at the top of this page . There are some great  and inspiring stories, and some very supportive, friendly bloggers taking part. Do go and take a look, and if you’re looking for weight loss inspiration, pop over and read about how Glasgow Mummy did it!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Versatile Blogger - Seven things you didn't know about me....

A little while ago, the very lovely Rollercoaster Mum tagged me for the ‘Versatile Blogger’ award.  Shamefully, I am long overdue in thanking her for the honour and passing on the baton to other worthy recipients.   So, a little belatedly, a very big ’Thank You’ to Rollercoaster Mum, plus, some obligatory gushing; ‘Who me? An award! Ooooh how super!’

The Versatile Blogger award has some rules.  These are:

1)   Thank the person who tagged you 
2)   Share seven things about yourself
3)   Pass the award on to fifteen newly discovered blogs.

So, here are seven fascinating (or not so fascinating) facts about me:

1) I never wear black.  I stopped wearing it 10 years ago, when I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror during a work conference, and suddenly realised I looked like Dracula's daughter.  I vowed from then on never to wear black again and to live my life wearing colour.

2) One of my favourite songs is Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. I love the words, the sentiment, the emotion in it.

3) I have a medieval middle name which no-one can pronounce correctly. (Thanks Dad.)

4) I LOVE cake.  Fruit based cakes are my favourite, especially those with apples in them.

5) I’ve had long hair all my life.  On a good hair day I’m channeling Jennifer Anniston, on a bad day - Janis Joplin.

6) I’m a big cammomile tea drinker. It counteracts caffine and wine beautifully. In fact, it’s my secret to not getting a hangover.  I always, always have a cup of camomile before bed.

7) I am secretly addicted to watching the BAFTA award winning…. ‘The Only Way is Essex’.  (We all have our vices…and this is mine!)

Now the hard part. I’m not passing the baton on to fifteen new bloggers however, I hope those listed below will be up for the challenge if they haven’t already taken part.  They all have super blogs, so please do take a look.

Friday, 7 October 2011

My Pet Peeve....

I’ve just discovered the brilliant Brit Mums Blog Prompts, which inspired me to write this.  The personal prompt this week is about ‘Pet Peeves.’  This is mine!

You. Yes, YOU; on the train to Waterloo,
I know EXACTLY what you’re about to do.
There you go, opening up your brown paper bag,
Ooooh, now I’m feeling slightly mad.
Unwrapping paper, you lift the burger to your chin,
Oh, whoops! Watch out!  There’s a falling gherkin.
Won’t that be nice for someone later on,
They’ll find themselves sat on it after you’ve gone.

You. Yes, YOU; the girl with curly hair,
Munching through your cake with a vacant stare.
Look. Look. LOOK. At the crumbs everywhere,
I’m getting rather irritated that you don’t seem to care.
Oh, that’s considerate, brushing down your dress,
I’m sure the next passenger will enjoy sitting in your mess.

You. Yes, YOU;  the schoolboy with the pack of Quavers.
Have some consideration for your Tube neighbours.
Here we go, through the tunnel in a rush,
Your left over packet soaring upwards in a gush.
Now look what’s happened to the girl with Afro hair,
It's filled with Quaver dust, like sawdust sprinkled there.
Then, a hostile look at ME and an irritated pout,
‘Did you leave that there?’ she starts to shout.

I’m just shrinking backwards, further into my seat,
Wishing there was somewhere else, that I could retreat.
I look at my deli bag, it’s contents still within,
When I think about my sandwich, saliva runs down my chin.
But I won’t open up my bag, I won’t take a bite,
Even though I’m feeling weak, and rosemary bread is what I’d like.

For goodness sake, people of London Town,
Put your food away, I don’t want to watch you noshing down.
Eat your kebab on the street, or your chips in the shop,
But don’t bring it with you. Stop. Stop. STOP.
It’s not good manners, in fact, I think it’s really rather rude,
Ladies and Gentlemen, PLEASE. NO EATING ON THE TUBE.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Gallery -Autumn Orange

The theme for the Gallery this week is: Colour.  If I had to sum up the colour in this picture I'd call it 'Autumn Orange.'

This picture was taken at Kew Gardens.  Just me, my camera, the leaves and the trees. 

Pop over to The Gallery and take a look at this weeks other entries.


Getting my Groove Back

This post is part of the ‘Getting your Groove back’ blog hop at Kate on Thin Ice.  
How quickly a year can pass. This time a year ago, I was a ‘fresher’ starting a 4 year vocational degree course. Bye Bye corporate life, hello pathway to a new fulfilling career. At least, that was the master plan. I’d decided to completely change track, retraining for a new career that would eventually allow me to be self employed and fit perfectly around family life.  Fourteen months after my son had been born I felt ready for the challenge.  Three weeks into the course, which was fascinating, intellectually stimulating and filled with bright, curious souls, the private college running it went into liquidation.  The university validating the course accepted no responsibility, and I was left out of pocket; a years tuition fees disappearing into the ether after only three weeks teaching.  The disappointment was immense. I felt like I’d been through so much to get to that point, (finding the fees, sorting out the childcare), and suddenly it was gone.  Starting again somewhere else was not possible, due to many factors, (location, commute time, cost.) After a lot of soul searching, I decided that my only option was to place my dream on the backburner, to be returned to at a later date.

In the time that has passed since then, I have reflected often on the fact that I miss the thinking challenges that work used to provide.   I miss the process of thinking through a problem or project, thinking about the different approaches, selecting and applying one. I miss the pride I felt in delivering a great piece of work, and feeling like I made a difference.  If my course had carried on, I am sure it would have fulfilled some or all of these needs.  Motherhood itself is a challenge (more than I ever gave my own mother credit for) but for me, the challenges it presents, are different to the thinking challenge that work, or even my course, used to provide.  I have come to the conclusion I need mental stimulation much more than I thought.   Having something outside of motherhood to occupy my mind (an ‘out’ space in my head, where I can go, which isn’t about the day to day of being a mum) helps me keep upbeat, it keeps me sparky, it helps maintain my sense of self.  All round, it just makes me happier.

I spent a lot of time thinking this week about what I can do to get back in my thinking groove. These are the things I plan to focus on:

1. My Blog : It does hearten me to think in one way I’ve already started on my ‘feed the mind’ journey.  I started my blog in August (probably a subconscious recognition I was struggling with the points above) and I have found that the separate thinking space it provides has been really beneficial.  I’m a complete novice, still finding my voice, still grappling with some of the technology, but I have found that there is lots of food for thought in this new world, subjects and people to inspire me.

2. Inspired by some of the comments from previous weeks, this week I contacted our local higher education college, to see if there are any courses available which would interest me.  There are some, starting in January; one which may help in developing more foundation knowledge for my original course, which would be useful for when I eventually have the time and money to return to it.

3. Indulging my passions: I love history. I studied it at Uni first time around. I find it so interesting.  Just before my son was born I had started researching my family tree, but didn’t get to finishing it.  I’m going to dust it down, and pick up where I left off. 

So, that’s what I’m really going to try and focus on, ways that I can feed the mind.  My own bit of mental football ‘keepy uppy.’

Each week Kate sets some question or tasks. One of the questions this week is about breakfast, with a challenge to maybe try something new.

My favourite breakfasts are always out of the house.  Sitting in one of my favourite local places, with the best latte in the world.  Strong, coffee mixed with milk so thick and creamy, that I use a long handled spoon and allow myself, kiddy like, to just keep spooning foamy coffee flavoured milk into my mouth. It’s rich and indulgent.   Accompanied by a sausage sandwich with tomato sauce, the sausages being butterflied, and cooked both sides, so the inside of the sausage is all crispy.  The bun is toasted.  Often I add more lashings of Tommy K.  Delicious.  But, NOT good for the waistline.    The reality is this is a rare treat. Most mornings at home, I grab a cup of tea, and eat 2 pieces of toast with marmalade whilst on the go trying to sort everything else out.  My rules for my son are very different. Porridge and fruit. I’m a big believer in the slow releasing energy that oats provide.  This week I’m going to practice what I preach, forgo the toast, and have one day where I sit down and eat a bowl of porridge with him.