Monday, 31 January 2011

I ♥ Me Monday - I'm wonderful...really?

Oh lord. This week's I ♥ Me Monday from Notes to self plus two requires us to celebrate something wonderful about ourselves. Hmmm... something wonderful. I'm not good at 'bigging myself up' in the street vernacular (god how old am I? Too old to be writing that). I'd rather write about what I'm rubbish at, what bugs me about myself, what makes me (and hopefully everyone else) laugh about myself.

But, that's not in the spirit of I ♥ Me Monday, so after racking my brain, I've settled on this. I am wonderful at... being me. Being me is my forte. I've trained for 38 years to be this good at it and I think you'll agree it's paid off. Nobody does it quite like me actually, I am truly spectacular at it. Unless of course Rory Bremnar decides he's going to start working on a new series - 'Being a Blogger'. Which is unlikely I think.

And so there you have it, something wonderful about me. Sorry, short post this one. And no, it doesn't quite answer the question *blushes*. Still, you've got plenty of time to read the other far more wonderful and relevant answers at I ♥ Me Monday.

Dear So and So...


Was pursuing the fab blog that is  and came across this great idea, originally from a new find for me . So a huge shout out to both of them and here's my own Dear So and So's...

Dear Shops

Why do you keep making things that I want to buy? Please stop being quite so productive for a little while so my poor credit card can stop smoking. It's looking really rather poorly.

Yours skintly,
Marketing victim

Dear Cancer

Na na na na na *blows raspberry*. You've touched the lives of two of the people I love most in this world, but they BEAT YOU! So just give it  a rest for a while eh? There must be something more interesting you can be doing with your time.

Raspberry blower

Dear hospital staff

Is there any particular reason why you feel the need to skirt around the issue of a diagnosis for two weeks before finally sending someone home non the wiser about why they were there in the first place?


Dear stomach

I know that you carried a baby, and I do thank you lots for that, really I do, but can I just mention that was 18 months ago? So could you just go back to where you were before DD arrived? Thanks ever so.

Struggling to get into jeans, again

Dear blogosphere

Thank you for letting me into your world where I can write and vent and have lovely followers who write even lovelier comments.

mummy x

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday Sayings

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." 
Dr Seuss 

Photo credit: Old letters by Simon Howden at

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Slip-sliding out of a demographic

One of the lovely benefits of visiting friends and family is that there are babysitters around almost 24/7. With this in mind I bought a copy of a glossy women's magazine the other day (comes in large and handbag sizes and rhymes with tinker-bell, in case you were wondering). When I finally had a half-hour or so to myself I snuggled down on the sofa, anticipating a good non-mummy read. 

Front cover was promising, next five pages or so were adverts. 
And so were the next five. I chewed my lip. Where's the mag bit? 
Ahhh...there's a fashion article. Hang on...Hee! Hee! What on earth is she wearing? Surely they're not serious?
Does her mother know she's out in that?!
Ooo, that's quite nice. much I wonder...(scans down to small print). How much?! Must be a misprint. Surely?
An article about a model and socialite. She looks about thirteen and a half. I don't get past the first paragraph.
There must be something relevant to me in here somewhere...
Recipes? Shopping? A fashion spread with adults modelling real clothes perhaps?
Flick. Flick. Flick.
Back cover.
Perhaps not then.

There's something quite depressing about realising you've slipped out of a demographic. Bring on the Saga catalogues.

Photo credit: Magazines by Pixomar at

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Reasons to be cheerful: 1, 2, 3

Quite a lot to be cheerful about this week, so thanks again to Michelle at  for this regular shout out to all things happy and sparkly.

1. On the road with OH and DD, suitcases bulging, visiting family and friends. Our love of travelling is matched only by our love of catching up with this wonderful bunch.
2. Ordered a new pair of glasses today (Daisy by Ghost) as DD killed my current ones, bless her, and low and behold I got another pair for free. I do love a good bogof.
3. Hosting my very first blog hop this week! . If you've got 5 mins, why not pop over and share your can't-live-without products?

Go on, join this lovely lot who are cheerful too. You know you want to...

Guest post - Is teaching a profession in crisis?

Guest post from Tall Sis today, ex-teacher and all round fabulous person. I was chatting to her the other day about an interesting post from the lovely ghostwritermummy; Michael Gove stands up for teachers at last, and there was such an outpouring of comment and opinion that I asked her to write it all down. And so she did.

I seethe with anger about the mess the education system has been allowed to get into, successive governments have mucked about gradually eroding the quality of education provided with the result that we have now a totally disjointed 'system' which lets down everyone. 
Children not being cuddled is in a microcosm, an example of the changes in attitude within education which has been encouraged to treat children as units rather than individuals. A situation where each child is regarded in terms of cost, statistical relevance, and their potential to generate income does not foster an environment in which that child will be nurtured. Health and safety is used as an excuse to not get involved. Economics used as a reason for not allowing things to happen unless they are productive and cost effective. What happens in the classroom has become less what is good for the child and more what is good for the school. 
Within this artificial ethos surrounded by mountains of paper describing a policy and a plan on every moment of the day, teachers are battling to achieve results which will mean that the school will get a respectable score on the yearly tables. They are constantly under pressure to ensure observations are recorded and tabulated, that their lessons are planned and filed. Not to mention all the new government initiatives they have to read and take on board, the displays and records of children work that have to be annotated and the meetings for each part of the curriculum that have to be attended.  
It is therefore understandable that within this maelstrom, a child who is unhappy can easily be overlooked. 
In my opinion Teaching has been a profession which has been in crisis for some time. The urge for academic rigour has been concentrated on to the exclusion sometimes of the need for a vocation. Many people who would have made excellent, nurturing early year teaching assistants or indeed teachers have been excluded through their lack of academic qualifications.The attitude that 'those who can't teach' accompanied by the lure of secure employment, final salary pension and long holidays has resulted in a lot of people entering the profession who really have no business being there. It is still really difficult to sack a teacher, so someone who really doesn't have the aptitude but is capable of completing all the paperwork, pull out the stops when being observed and can push information into their pupils sufficiently to pass relevant tests, can have a long career. But do we want this? Surely we want the best to be teaching. It seems to me that many of the best teachers do not survive in the current environment. Many of them leave the profession early, go to the private sector, or suffer ill health brought on by stress. Others become supply teachers to keep on teaching without the piles of admin but the children suffer from lack of continuity. 
It needs sorting out. If Michael Gove is the man for the job, he needs to tackle the causes as well as the symptoms. 
Do you agree? Is teaching a profession in crisis?

Photo credit: Teacher concept by jscreationzs at

Joy and wonder in DD land

One of the truly exquisite things about motherhood is seeing the wonder in your child's eyes when they experience something for the first time.

We're visiting relatives and friends at the moment and as many of them have cats, dogs, horses and such like, DD has had her first introduction to the wonderful world of 'pets'. We don't have any pets at the moment. We took her to the Zoo in Melbourne this year on our Australian adventure but due to some mix ups with the tram timetable (as in I didn't look at one), we arrived just as she needed a nap and she slept right through the whole thing, only waking up when we got to the elephants. Not the easiest of animals to play with when you're 15 months old (although I'm sure she would have given it a good go, given half the chance).

Anyway, the rellies we're staying with at the moment have a cat. Admittedly she's a bit of a cranky cat, doesn't like being stroked and has been known to bite toes, so I was a little concerned about how she'd react to DD stumbling about the place. I needn't have worried, within one day DD had learned two new words - 'Pusssssy!' and 'Tiddles!' (yes, always said with the exclamation mark) and now follows poor kitty around the house shouting and pointing at her with such a look of joy and wonder that it melts my heart. Lesson one, pets teach vocabulary.

Yesterday, as I was hanging up some washing on the airer, DD wandered off into one of the bedrooms where Tiddles was taking a nap. I found her mixing up some imaginary 'juuuuuce' with her bucket and spade and trying to feed it to her new found friend. Lesson two, pets teach empathy.

Tiddles on the other hand is non-plussed about the whole affair, and as long as DD doesn't get too close, she retires to her bed most days clearly hoping she'll wake up from this bad dream where she's stalked by a little person who doesn't even offer treats. DD is confused about these disappearances. Teddy, Bunny and Jellycat all stay put. Why doesn't Tiddles? When is she coming back? Lesson three, pets teach patience.

Looking at the world through DD's eyes is a privilege and an education. Through her joy and wonder I'm rediscovering my own. And that, for me, is the biggest lesson of all.

Photo credit: Sniff Sniff by Carlos Porto at

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Top 5 Mummy Buys

When DD was little (well, littler) I would buy anything faintly baby related if I thought it would make my life easier. I was a marketeers dream, and IKEA liked me quite a lot too as I had to buy more storage to shove all the new useless gubbins into. Now that DD is a princely (or is that princessly?) 18 months old, and I have (almost) recovered from the madness that is NewMummyhood, I feel I can share my absolute favourite, cannot-do-without-on-a-daily-basis Mummy/toddler items. However, there is still a little bit of me that thinks there are bound to be more must-have products out there, so I've added a Linky thingy for all you lovely lot to share yours too. So here's my top 5 faves, in no particular order. (Note: this is NOT a sponsored post. I've added in the links in case you'd like to find out more about my fav Mummy products. Just thought I'd point that out.)

1. The Ergo baby carrier - my absolute favourite carrier/sling. So comfy, even now DD's 10kg or so, it's suitable from birth and has a small snap-on bag that's big enough for a phone, keys etc. I used to breastfeed DD in it when she was younger and she sleeps pretty well in it too thanks to a hood that pulls up over her head to support it. Absolutely essential for travelling. Mine's an Original in Camel. 

2. Skip Hop changing mat - if we're going out, this goes with us. Wipe clean baby mat with space for 3 nappies, baby wipes and cream, and a padded bit for little one's head. All parcels up and hooks onto pram. Brilliant.

3. Ikea Antilop high chair - we've got two high chairs. A pretty, comfy one with lots of nooks and crannies that food can get trapped in and this one which you can practically hose down in the shower should the need arise. Guess which one gets used and which is gathering dust?

4. Maclaren XT pushchair - there are far more fashionable pushchairs out there, but this one is basic, light, easy to fold up and comfy to push. Job done.

5. Sudocrem - these little pots of white goo have magical powers and soothe everything from nappy rash to cuts and bruises. And they seem to last forever!

Right over to you - I've got my finger poised over the 'add to basket' button in anticipation...

Photo credit: Shopping cart on hand by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at

Wednesday Wordle - President Obama's Inauguration Speech

This week's Wednesday Wordle is brought to you by President Obama's inauguration speech. Interesting which words come up most frequently isn't it? (Click on the image to view in larger size.)

Transcript courtesy of BBC News.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

5 things I wish I could do

When I started thinking about this week's Listography '5 things I wish I could do' from the lovely I read through a few some other people's lists and realised that all the things I wished I could do were the things they wished they could do too. Either there's some weird cosmic alignment going on or the personality type of a blogger includes wannabe writer, language speaker and musical instrument player. So as all these wants have already been thrown out there into the blogosphere to ruminate, I've decided my list is going to be a little less 'what I know I could do if I really put my mind to it and pulled my finger out' and more 'if my best mate was Harry Potter I'd ask him to magic me up these things'.

I wish I had eyes in the back of my head so that I could keep tabs on DD when she is in full flow, running about the house and getting into everything. Who knew a clothes hanger could be a deadly weapon?
I wish I could speak 'babyeze' so that I could understand what DD means everyday when she jabs her finger and says 'duddyda' so vehemently rather than running through every possible option for fifteen minutes while she gets more and more wound up.
I wish I could be in more than one place at a time so that I could meet all of DD's, OH's and my needs properly without compromising on any of them.
I wish I could be less negative and more positive. Yes I know that, technically, I could magic this one up myself, but it would be much easier and quicker if someone else could do it for me. And this is my list, so there.
And finally, if you would be so kind Harry, I wish I could conceive naturally. Thanks muchly.

Photo credit: Magic Hat and Wand by Renjith Krishnan at

Monday, 24 January 2011

I ♥ Me Monday - parenting behaviour that makes me cry

What Mummy/Parenting behaviour ignores “you”, making you want to laugh, scream or cry?

When I followed OH halfway across the world I gave up my career and devoted my time to conceiving, birthing and then looking after DD.  I know that not everyone is as lucky as me, to be able to stay at home and watch their beautiful daughter grow and change every day. The reality of life is that people have to work, either for the money or their own sanity. And I take my hat off to working Mums everywhere. I really do. But the one parenting behaviour that makes me cry is the expat Mums who hand off their children to an 'ayi' (a local maid/housekeeper) and spend their days going shopping or getting a manicure or having coffee with their friends.  
Now I should point out here that I have a lot of lovely expat friends who have an ayi, and use them for regular baby-sitting as well as household chores. This is not the behaviour I'm talking about. Everyone needs a break, otherwise they'd go stark raving bonkers (ahhh, that explains a It's where the ayi becomes a stand-in parent that I think a line has been crossed. Not only do I think these Mums are missing out on the most precious years of their child's life, time that they cannot get back, but because in my experience, most ayis are just not trained to be a child's primary carer. They don't teach them ABC or devise interesting craft activities so they can throw paint around, they don't cook with them or read them the same story 50 times a day. Often they congregate together with their charges at a local play centre or the lobby of an expat compound and just leave them to get on with it. Over time these poor toddlers either get the glassy-eyed look of someone who doesn't bother to interact any more because they know they won't get a response, or become tearaways creating mayhem or worse still, start calling their ayi 'Mummy'. And I fear that in 'x' years time when the family returns to their home country, sans ayi, the real trouble will begin, as Mum realises that she really doesn't know her child as well as the ayi had come to.
I often wonder whether there is a more deep-rooted reason for this parenting delegation. Was motherhood more of a shock than these women expected it to be? I would love to know them well enough to be able to say to them 'welcome to the club'. It's almost always a shock! You just get on with it, get through it and eventually you love (almost) every minute of it. 
I think it's important for me to state again that this is a behaviour that makes me sad, rather than angry. After all, everyone has to make their own choices about how they raise their children and frankly, it's none of my business. I'm sure that some children have wonderful ayis who give them the love and attention that they deserve. I just hope that in the less fortunate families, this choice isn't one that they come to regret.

What parenting behaviour makes you laugh, scream or cry? Pop over to Notes to self plus two to read this week's other I  ♥ Me Monday posts.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday Sayings

"She was reflecting back on a truth she had learned over the years: that people heard what they wanted to hear, saw what they wanted, believed what they wanted." 
from 'The Bodies Left Behind' by Jeffery Deaver

Photo credit: Old letters by Simon Howden at

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Happiness is a used sketchbook

I love my sketchbook. It's a black Moleskeine and it is a thing of beauty. Not because I think that my abilities as an artist are any better than those of a monkey who just managed to pick up a pencil instead of a banana, but because it holds pure creative expression that I do not edit. When I write and then read back what I have written I usually (always) want to change it. But my sketchbook doesn't hold just my pitiful attempts at scribbling, it holds things I want to stick in it, moments in time that I've captured with a colour or a smell, pleasing shapes or just doddles. I don't have the time to potter about in my sketchbook that I once did, but I want to recapture some of that childish messiness. So I shall be spending some time this week on three of my favourite sketchy blogs:

 - Andrea's blog is gorgeous. As are her drawings. I never fail to be inspired to get out my B2 pencil whenever I browse through her posts.

Urban sketchers - 100 artists, designers, painters, web developers and others around the world posting sketches of where they are right now.

Keri Smith - Keri publishes books that aim to get our artistic juices flowing by throwing our inner critic out the window. Her illustrations a fab too. Fun site to just play on as there is a virtual doodle pad.

And did you know that 11 Feb is National Doodle Day? Neither did I until the lovely Slummy Single Mummy pointed it out. National Doodle Day is about having fun while raising funds to help people whose lives are affected by epilepsy. I shall be checking out what my doodles mean and voting on my favourite celebrity doodles too. Now, I wonder what Cherie Blair's doodle says about her...

Photo credit: Moleskeine

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful; 1, 2, 3

Another week draws to a close and despite DD being up most of the night with the beginnings of a cold (aren't the beginning days always the worst? I think you just get used to the dripping after that) I'm actually very cheerful today. Here's why...

  1. My suitcase is sitting open ready to have all manner of DD's things (and a very tiny pile of mine) thrown into it. We're off to visit relatives and friends for three whole weeks and it's going to be GREAT. (Just on the flight missus!)
  2. I am no long a , having signed up and actually managing to Tweet a few times. Had my first real-time conversation with the lovely today. Look at me, the geek.
  3. Piers Morgan's interview with Oprah Winfrey this week on CNN. Great tv. He's not Larry King, but he's not half bad.
Thanks to the lovely Michelle at for reminding us to be thankful every Friday! Why not join in our little blog hop party and tell us why you're cheerful too?

So I said I wouldn't but...

In a previous post I said that I wasn't going to make any resolutions this year. But following a rather frank discussion with OH *ahem*, I've changed my mind. This year I'm going to try to stop being so governed by rules.

You see, I'm a rule-maker. Consistent with my control-freak, A type personality I've been living my life by a series of rules since DD was born eighteen months ago.
'She must have her milk every three hours!'
'She needs to be bathed by 7pm and in bed by 7.30pm!'
'She mustn't watch any more than 30 minutes of television a day!'
OH tells me, quite rightly, that it's exhausting (hence frank discussion).
The trouble is, I'm a sucker for a schedule. Show me some loose guidelines and l'll show you the colour-coded, fully indexed spreadsheet I've turned them into.

'But why?' OH laments. 'What difference does it make if she misses a nap for one day?'
'Because the books says she needs to have one!' I wail back.

The books. The bloody books (excuse my French). They're a menace. Before DD arrived I consulted them almost daily, soaking up information like a sponge. But then she decided to meet the world a month early and everything I thought I'd filled my Mummy knowledge bucket with trickled away through the holes in what I realised was actually a sieve. I can count on one hand the times I've turned to a book in the last six months. What I've learnt is that my own experience and the advice of trusted Mummy friends and relatives who've 'been there and done that' is a zillion times more reassuring that the printed page. If we ever have a second one I'm sure I won't pick up a book once.

And so I'm resolving to be more flexible in 2011, more go-with-the-flow, more chilled out man. OH says he'll believe it when he sees it. I don't blame him for being unconvinced; I do have a bit of a history of 'fresh starts', but this time I'm thinking positively that flexibility is the new rule. Wish me luck.

Cartoon credit
Thank you to Cathy Thorne at Everyday people cartoons  who has agreed to let me republish her fabulous cartoons.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

In which I receive an award and reveal all

"I'd like to thank my parents, my husband and everyone who knows me. And to my lovely daughter DD, who's watching this from home, I love you!" Oh, it's not that kind of award. Ooo, it's a meme! My first. You always remember your first. But that's for another post. Perhaps. (Errr...perhaps not.) Lots of lovely bloggy friends including , Hello It's Gemma, , and  have tagged me for a Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you all! Now I apparently have to reveal 7 things about myself that my readers won't know. So hold onto your hats, here we go...
  1. I can (almost) ski. I prefer a nice blue run to a black if at all possible. Thank you.
  2. I can wiggle my ears. Yes, really.
  3. I was once on the front page of the Daily Telegraph wearing a pair of diamond encrusted glasses worth thousands of pounds. (Good one that.)
  4. I'm not in England while I'm writing this...
  5. I've completed Na No Wri Mo once. No, you can't read it. It sucks.
  6. I own a motorbike (RVF400 if you're interested).
  7. DD was conceived using the medical equivalent of a turkey baster. Science is 'mazing eh?
Ok, that's me. Hope you don't love me any less. Now I'm told I have to pass on the meme shaped batten so here goes...*reaches out arm*

Second Time Mummy

All about Us and such

Geeky Mummy

A Modern Mother

Random Ramblings Of a Stay At Home Mum

Mother Porridge

Wednesday Wordle

Radio 4 homepage 19 Jan 2011
I love Radio 4. It's like a warm, comfy blanket on a cold Winter's day. Enjoy this week's Wordle. If you click on it it'll open up bigger in a new window.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Golden Globes Stolen

Well another Golden Globes extravaganza is over and once again Ricky Gervais has stolen the limelight from the Hollywood elite with his unique  hosting of the awards. Apparently his jokes, mostly at the expense of the great and good that grace the silver screen, haven't gone down so well this year.

"Are we at war with England? If not, then why have we been subjected to two years of Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globe Awards, witnessing a growing hostility between the British comedian and a resentful audience of celebs?" So said the Washington Post.

Ok, his jokes were controversial. He poked fun at everyone from Hugh Heffner to Johnny Depp (err.. hang on a minute, there's a line to be drawn here methinks). But what did they expect? He's not exactly unknown in U.S.. He hosted the same show last year! What did they think he'd do - tone it down a bit? Heck no. But Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hanks and even the Chairman of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who stage the event, took the opportunity to give Mr Gervais some stick back. Good for them. And good for Mr Gervais. It was GREAT television. If you can't take the heat, remove yourself from the vicinity of the oven (or in this case, from the spotlight that is celebrity).

Oh, and just as an aside, I never realised Christian Bale was such a cockney sparrow...

Did you know?
...The actual Golden Globe award came about in 1946, when association president Marina Cisternas came up with the idea of using a statuette of a "golden globe" with a filmstrip circling it.
#..."One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is the only film to win the Globe in all five major categories (Best Motion Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay)
...Most individual Globes: seven went to Meryl Streep, followed by six to Jack Nicholson, five each to Francis Ford Coppola, Shirley MacLaine, Rosalind Russell, and Oliver Stone.
...Most individual nominations: Meryl Streep 25, Jack Lemmon 22.

If you missed the ceremony, here's the winners of the main awards:
Best film drama - The Social Network (the story of Facebook)
Best film comedy/musical - The Kids Are All Right
Best animated film - Toy Story 3
Best actress drama - Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Best actress comedy/musical - Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right)
Best actor drama - Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
Best actor comedy/musical - Paul Giamatti (Barney's Version)
Best supporting actress - Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Best supporting actor - Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Cecil B Demile Award - Robert De Niro

You can find about more about the winners and see some great photos of the event at the Golden Globes official site.

Photo credit, trivia facts and awards details courtesy of

Monday, 17 January 2011

I ♥ Me Monday - What I'd like for 2011, pretty please

For this week's I  Me Monday, the lovely Notes to self, plus two has asked is to think about what we'd like for 2011. So, aside from winning the lottery, world peace and Johnny Depp dropping in for coffee (preferably in his Captain Jack Sparrow costume), I would like:

... OH and I to be blessed with a little sister or brother for DD. It took us four years and lots of jiggery pokery to conceive our gorgeous little girl, I just hope it doesn't take that long again.
... DD to start eating something other than Cheerios, crackers and 'juuuuuice' (arrgghh!).
... to get the hang of Twitter and find out what on earth a hash tag is (I'm assuming it's not something you smoke)
... to stop hating my hair and start loving it for all it's crazy curliness. Think Chrystal Tips and Alistair (the girl, not the dog), and Professor Trelawny from Harry Potter, only shorter (the hair, not me, I'm an average 5 foot 4 or so). Mmmm hard one this.
... to be less defined by my own preconceived 'rules' and more 'go with the flow' (of which more in a later post)

And of course I want good health and all happiness for my nearest and dearest. What about you? Pop over to  Me Monday and read what others are wishing for...

Well I've finally done it. It's taken me a long time, a lot longer than most other people by the looks of things, but I thought it's about time I should, so I have. Yes, I'm now on .

, the patron saint of new bloggers, posted an excellent this week and was kind enough to include the two-penneth that I chucked in - "Jump in with both feet and just go for it!". Of course this was in relation to posting, but hey I wondered, why doesn't it apply to Tweeting too?

And so I decided I should take my own advice and do exactly that. No idea what I'm doing, but there we are. It's a revelation to me that people have time to read others blogs, write their own, Tweet about stuff and raise a toddler. And I thought I could multi-task when I was working full time. Ha!

Big, big thanks to the lovely peeps that are already following me, just a little concerned that unlike L'Oreal, I'm not worth it yet. But your faith in me is muchly appreciated!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sunday Sayings

 'The instant she saw the letter she squinted her eyes and bent her lips in a tough tiny smile that advanced her age immeasurably. "Darling," she instructed me, "would you reach in the drawer there and give me my purse. A girl doesn't read this sort of thing without her lipstick."'
from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' by Truman Capote

Photo credit: Old letters by Simon Howden at

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Thank you Stroller Traffic, you made my day

I love it when something I read makes me throw my head back and laugh.
A newsletter popped into my email inbox yesterday - Stroller Traffic. It's a free weekly email from the U.S. with advice and product news from Mom's in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.  Beautifully done and fun to read. But this article in particular caught my eye and I just had to share it. Hope they don't mind.

Suddenly, Knee Pads On Crawlers Doesn’t Seem So Overprotective.

Suddenly, Knee Pads On Crawlers Doesn’t Seem So Overprotective.We don’t know whether to laugh or cry. (Or buy it.) One Step Ahead has come out with a baby helmet to protect wobbly crawlers and cruisers. It has a breathable lining and is made of shock-absorbent foam that conforms to the shape of your kid’s head. Why babyproof the house, when you can babyproof the baby? $39.95 at

Friday, 14 January 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful; 1, 2, 3

Thanks again to the lovely Michelle at  for this great Friday series. I do have a tendency to dwell on the negative sometimes (not so much glass half full as 'where's my bl***dy' glass!') so it's refreshing to be able to post about something positive and uplifting. 
Here's my 3 reasons to be cheerful today:
  1. DD seems to finally be over her sickness and back to her normal self. It was lovely having her dozing on me while I watched films, but I much prefer having her running around making mayhem. I know, I can't believe it either.
  2. One of the lovely staff at my local Starbucks, Jane, remembered DD by name and made such a fuss of her while I grabbed a coffee-to-go after playgroup. Great customer service never goes out of fashion and always makes me smile.
  3. Oh, and it was my birthday yesterday. I'm another year older... and I don't care!
Edit: I have to add a 4th reason, sorry, but just read that the rather lovely Daniel Craig is going to play Bond again. Now THAT, dear readers, is a reason to be most cheerful indeed.

      Thursday, 13 January 2011

      The top five places I've visited (so far)

      Travel is apparently in my blood. My great, great, great grandmother was a gypsy it's said, with a painted wagon and everything. Perhaps that explains the thrill I get at visiting new places and rediscovering old ones. For a while, when DD was younger, I fell out of love with the open road, it was all just too stressful trying to get our plans to fit her routine. But now I realise that it should work precisely the other way around. Little ones are infinitely adaptable, so from now on her routine, such as it is, will fit around our travel plans.

      OH and I were discussing recently where we should go on holiday this year and reminiscing about some of our previous trips. So I'm delighted that has given us a great subject for this week's listography - the top five places we've visited. Here, in no particular order, are mine:

      The Gullfoss Waterfalls, South Iceland

      1. Iceland (the country, not the shop)
      In the dim and distant past, when working as a PR, I was lucky enough to travel with a group of journalists to this unusual and beautiful country. Reykjavik at that time was home to a new club part-owned by Damon Albarn and Sting was apparently in a private room in our restaurant one night. It was a real party town. They call it the 'Land of the Midnight Sun' because during the summer months the sun doesn't set and you need blackout curtains to sleep. Although it's name suggests a desolate and snowy place it's actually very green and picturesque with glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes and gorgeous rolling hills. I went on a snowmobile for the first time here and also tasted the strongest alcohol I have ever had. Icelandic Schnapps or Brennivín (or sometimes svarti dauði meaning Black Death!) is over 37% proof. Yes you read that right. It was important not to breathe out near any naked flames...

      Yosemite Falls and lush green meadows

      2.Yosemite National Park
      My husband and I visited Yosemite on our first American holiday together. It was one of the first wilderness parks in the U.S. and we were both struck by it's awesome beauty. The only thing stopping me going back again is a sign we read on the way back down one of the trails which read something along the lines of 'Beware there are coyotes and bears here that eat people'. Well, perhaps it wasn't worded quite like that, but just the mention of coyotes and bears in the same sentence is enough.
      Photo credit: National Park Service

      Sydney Opera House

      3. Sydney, Australia
      We had our first family holiday to Australia this year, a three week road trip from Sydney to Melbourne, stopping at various places along the way. Australia ROCKS! We loved the whole holiday, from the stylish cities to the laid back Aussies we met along the way. Sydney was a jewel in this holiday crown and I fell in love with the place.

      Kurumba, Maldives - North Male Atol

      4. Kurumba Maldives
      Ahhhh.... Kurumba. If I could only go on one beach holiday ever again it would be here. The gentle breeze whispering through the lush coconut palms, the waves lapping at the white sandy beach, the warm sun baking your limbs, your flippers drying after a snorkel in the house reef, the ice in your cocktail slowly melting and your favourite book lying by your side... Kurumba is paradise on earth.
      Photo credit: Kurumba

      5.Barcelona, Spain
      Whenever I visit this passionate city I always feel more artistic, vibrant and alive. There is a frisson about the place that gets under your skin. Eating a meal in Placa Reial with the 'beautiful people' or sitting in a cafe on Las Ramblas, vino tinto in hand with the street theatre performing around you and the smell of tapas in the air is pure indulgence. I love it.
      Photo credit: Barcelona Tourisme

        Fancy a different virtual holiday? Pop over to and read some more top five places...

        Wednesday, 12 January 2011

        On having a sick child

        My beautiful DD - just a few weeks old

        DD is still poorly. I posted yesterday in how she'd been sick the night before and I'd mistakenly thought she was just waking up for a grumble. Poor little thing was not her self all day yesterday, picking at the odd Cheerio and drinking some juice, and she slept in until 9.30am this morning which is practically unheard of. She woke with a cry rather than her usual chitter-chatter with Bunny, Jellycat and Milly Molly Mandy doll and was clearly unhappy about being awake at all. But thirst had gotten the better of her and she gulped down milk like it was whisky in the Prohibition. I know, I should have stopped her. Milk is not the best thing for a sick toddler, and just to prove me right it came straight back up again not long after. And so she spent this morning in her PJs, sprawled floppily on my tummy and chest in the living room, snoozing while I watched an appropriately sentimental film about families. At one point she woke up and weakly said 'buuuunndy' and 'juuuuce'. My heart fell apart.

        She is so clearly a toddler now; walking, starting to talk, knowing her own mind, not wanting cuddles, refusing anything that isn't precisely what she wants at that moment and demanding exactly what is, role-playing with her toys the games that we play together at playgroup, that I almost forget sometimes just how totally fragile she really is. Looking at her pale, beautiful little face gently twitching in her sleep and feeling her warm body nestled into mine, she was the tiny baby again that I held in my arms eighteen months ago.

        Did my Mother hold me like this when I was sick? Did she stop whatever she was doing to snuggle me up in her warmth and safety so that I could drift in and out of sleep? Did she wipe the sick from my face and her clothes and nurse me back to health? Yes she did.

        And I realised that it's at moments like this, when a child is sick and needs you most, that you will always be their Mummy. Putting your life on hold for their emergencies, their illnesses, their *gulp* hangovers (I know it will happen one day). And you know what? That's just fine with me.

        Wednesday Wordle

        This Wordle is brought to you by 'Sympathy for the devil' by The Rolling Stone© ABKCO MUSIC INC.

        Lyrics credit:

        Tuesday, 11 January 2011

        A scientist has found that people who surf the web, watch TV or play computer games for more than four hours a day are twice as likely to have major cardiac problems than those who don't. Eek! There's nothing I like more than settling down with a warm laptop while DD naps and again at the end of the day, bobbing around the blogosphere for an hour or two. Even exercising regularly won't save me (not that I do much regular exercise unless you can count pushing DD to the shops or picking her up and putting her down a hundred times a day) as people who do are just as likely to keel over apparently.

        The study was done by Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis of University College London's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. "Our analysis suggests that two or more hours of screen time each day may place someone at greater risk for a cardiac event" he is quoted as saying in The Telegraph.

        If you want to read more about the study, pop over to Scared the daylights out of me, I can tell you. I'm off to run a few laps around the living room...

        Photo credit: Heart care by Renjith Krishnan at

        Guilty your honour, I am a bad, bad Mummy

        I feel awful. I am a bad Mummy and I will burn in hell. There I was, blogging away yesterday on my  post and popping around the blogosphere to read the other lovely Mummy posts while DD was asleep, when I heard a cry from the nursery. 'She'll stop in a minute' I thought, and carried on, one ear open and waiting for the wails to stop. Now in my defence DD is a good sleeper at night, she'll usually snooze for twelve hours or so and when she does cry out occasionally she'll usually pop right back to sleep if I leave her alone.

        So that's exactly what I did. And that's exactly what she did.

        A half-hour later or so, I uncoiled myself from the laptop, had a bit of a stretch and popped my head around DD's door before I retired to bed, just to satisfy myself that all was well in baby dreamland. But *gulps* all was not well. There was a particularly sour odour coming from the direction of the cot. I tiptoed over and, using the light from my mobile phone (feel quite good about that bit of inventiveness actually, but I digress), I peered in. At one end of the cot was DD, tucked into the foetal position and cuddling her Jellycat. At the other end was a pile of vomit.

        Clearly the wailing had been a cry for help as in "help Mummy, I've been sick!" rather than the usual "help Mummy, I've woken up and I can't get back to sleep...yawn...zzzzzz".

        At this point the weight of guilt on my shoulders was making it a struggle to stay standing but now I had another dilemma. DD was fast asleep and breathing normally (yes I checked). Should I wake her up, clear up the sick and spend the rest of the night trying to get her back to sleep until I eventually crawl into bed with her in tow as dawn breaks? Or should I leave her sleeping peacefully next to her pile of sick and spend the rest of the night not sleeping because I feel so guilty about it?

        Well dear readers, here is what I did. I left her. She slept soundlessly until 6.45am. I didn't sleep much at all. She's still not quite herself yet today but seems none the worse for sharing her bed with the contents of her stomach. And me? Well I've paid my penance by spending the whole morning running loads of washing, scrubbing her favourite bunny who copped it big style (I swear his expression is a little more glassy than normal) and trying to get the smell out of her mattress. Sentence cut short for time served perhaps?

        Photo credit: Jail by Arvind Balaraman at

        I've taken a pledge for the Bag lady... pass it on!

        Thanks to Susanna at A Modern Mother, I've taken a pledge to help the environment. Why not take a pledge yourself (add link) and pass it on around the blogosphere?

        Monday, 10 January 2011

        I ♥ Me Monday - What have I realised about myself through blogging?

        Notes to self plus two had a great idea. To pose a weekly question that gets all us bloggers who just happen to be Mummys thinking about the real 'us' inside all that Mummyness. As she says on her blog;
        "somewhere in all blogs is the desire to be oneself, to keep hold of the “me” amongst all the other roles we play..."
        And so to this week's question. What have I realised about myself through blogging? Well, it's been less than a month since I started BFT so I'll have to come back to you with a longer list once I've been out here in the blogosphere for a bit longer, but there are some things I've noticed so far...

        I L♥VE to write. About anything. And I don't like rushing my writing. At all. But when I do rush it,  somehow it comes out better than when I have more time. Go figure?

        I also L♥VE DD, madly, but I miss my own company *clenches teeth and tries not to feel guilty for typing that*. Blogging for an hour or so while she naps (and I should be doing something more productive like preparing dinner or dusting) gives me back a little bit of space to just say 'hello me, nice to see you again, what you been up to?'

        I L♥VE that I'm using my brain again in new ways. Well, actually, old ways I suppose. The real 'new' ways are all about Lego assembling, working out how to stop DD from dipping her favourite bunny into her poo while I change her nappy with one hand and sew a button back on OH's shirt with the other, and inventing new ways to persuade DD to eat solid foods again (fussy phase anyone?).

        I L♥VE connecting with new, like-minded people, even just in the virtual world. It's like chicken soup for  my soul and gives me such a lift to be part of something creative again, something that's bigger than me but part of me at the same time. And by and large Mummy bloggers are a fairly fabulous bunch. It's a total pleasure to pop by and have a virtual cuppa with one of you while I peruse your latest posts. Because while I have lots of Mummy friends in the 'real' world, I am, by definition, a Mummy first when I am with them, precisely because DD is with me. But out here in the blogosphere I am a blogger first, and I, and thousands of others, just happen to be a Mummy too.

        It's all too easy to become defined by the label 'Mummy' and then to live by that definition. I've realised through starting my blogging adventures that the only definition I need to live by is 'ME'. And what's not to L♥VE about that?

        Sunday, 9 January 2011

        Listography - My Top 5 Famous Dinner Party Guests

        Fab idea from Kate at . What's not to like about a list? Shame I can't set to and tick anything off this one...

        Difficult this, so many to choose from. I know I'll think of another person I want to add as soon as this is posted but anyhoo, here's my top 5 dinner party guests, in no particular order -
        1. Bear Grylls - with all the stuff he's been through, I'll bet he's full of interesting stories. Also thought I'd better include him just in case we get stuck in a lift that's about to drop or lost on the way back from the kitchen.
        2. Billy Connelly - one of the funniest people on the planet in my humble opinion.
        3. Helen Mirren - as a homage to Kate's own list, this is my 'touch of class' guest.
        4. Michael Palin - because I want to hear him describe everywhere he's been in his own fantastic way
        5. Dawn French - read her autobio last year (buy it, shut yourself in a cupboard and read it now) and I just think she's quite fabulous
        And Bod - of course, but only while we all mingle over drinks and canapes otherwise DD wouldn't eat her dinner afterwards.

        Not impressed with my choices? Pop by and take a look at the other dinner party guestlists.
          Photo credit: Elegant table by Pixomar at

          Sunday Sayings

          Old Letters And Quill

          "Although I can accept talking scarecrows, lions and great wizards of emerald cities, I find it hard to believe there is no paperwork involved when your house lands on a witch !"
          Comedian David James

          Photo credit: Old letters by Simon Howden at

          Saturday, 8 January 2011

          It's all change at Starbucks

          Why do people always have to mess with what works? Coca Cola tried to change the formulation of Coke back in 1985 and even Gap Inc almost changed their brand image, both of which resulted in a backlash from angry customers. Now it's Starbucks turn to tinker with their trademark, launching a new logo which is apparently part of it's 40th anniversary celebrations and which, the company says, will allow them to diversify into other product areas. I'm a little peved myself as I'm partial to a tall vanilla latte when DD and I are out and about and seeing that green and white sign tells me I'm bound for a nice, mild cup of coffee and a comfy sit down on a nice leather sofa (if I manage to grab it before someone else does - I find parking the Maclaren in front of it works). Changing a good thing isn't always a good thing to do.

          And I'm not the only one who's concerned. Brand gurus are mystified. Other customers are mystified, and annoyed. Within hours of the announcement a Facebook page was set up for angry customers to vent their rage. Changing your logo can cause more than customer annoyance, it can cause confusion, and that's one thing that companies and their shareholders really don't want. Because confusion can lead to the erosion of their brand equity and open the door for counterfeiters who're probably rubbing their hands with glee as we speak, whipping up batches of products all with the new logo. Let's hope that, like Coca Cola and Gap Inc, Starbucks changes it's mind - and soon.

          Photo credit: Coffee Top View on Grass by Keattikorn at

          Friday, 7 January 2011

          Reasons To Be Cheerful; 1, 2, 3

          Thanks to Michelle at for starting this great Friday series. Here's my 3 reasons to be cheerful today:

          1. DD said her first proper little sentence today - 'up and down'. I nearly fell over with pride.
          2. I read an article in the paper the other day that the science campaign group, Sense about Science, has debunked some of the crazy celebrity-endorsed diet and exercise tips - hurrah. It's about time someone did.
          3. It's Friday! And I have a whole two days together with DD and OH before he jets off on a week long business trip. Wheee!

          I was full of good intentions to post my views on some of the interesting news stories yesterday, such as the potential demise of the good 'ol British pint as new legislation has been adopted to add a Australian measure called a 'schooner' (about 3/4 of a pint), or that the Arch Bishop of Cantebury, Rowan Williams, is going to marry Prince William and Kate Middleton when they do the deed at Westminster Abbey in April. But then while I was having a cup of tea and perusing , I came across this blog owner Michelle's disclosure policy. Blogging is such a relatively new form of creative expression there are few rules around what you should or should do in your blog, but this struck me as such a massive step forward for those of us that want to blog with integrity. So I spent my blogging time yesterday creating my own . I recommend anyone with a blog to do the same.

          Wednesday, 5 January 2011

          Too hot, too cold or just right?

          Tongue Dance

          I stick out my tongue. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner I’m seeing today; Dr. Yanting Chen, studies the top and then asks me to put the tip of my tongue behind my top front teeth so she can see the underside. She says the shape is fine; not too thick, not too thin. But there is a crack on the surface of my tongue which shows that in the past few years I was too tired for a long period of time. The coating is healthy but a small concern is the purple colour in the middle of my tongue, this points to blood and energy stagnation in my body.  Dr. Chen says my cold side is fine, with no signs of dampness. My tongue has a red tip, rather than pink, which could mean that my body is from the hot style. To confirm, she needs to take my pulse and places three fingers on my wrist. TCM theory outlines three pulses. In my case my heart pulse is strong and a little quicker than the other two which is unusual she says, but it confirms the diagnosis. My body belongs to the hot or Yang style.

          So what is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
          Acupuncture is the practice that most often comes to mind when people think of Chinese medicine. But the Alternative Medicine Foundation of Maryland notes that TCM represents a much broader system of medicine that includes herbs, massage, diet, and exercise therapy. According to healthcare provider Parkway Health, TCM is based on the idea that our health is subject to the balance of opposing forces, such as heat and cold, which show themselves in the body as too much or too little activity in particular organs. An imbalance between any of these forces can block the flow of energy or Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) that travels through the body along a system of channels or meridians and gives us the ability to move, think, feel, and work.

          TCM doctors like Dr. Chen are trained to view the body, mind, and spirit as one system. With a masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Shanghai University she worked for over eight years in the U.S. before returning to her home town of Shanghai.  She believes that the theories that form the foundations of Western and Traditional Chinese medicines are totally different - while Western medicine concentrates on a patient's symptoms and curing malaise while TCM reviews the whole body, aiming to understand why the symptom arose and which organs are the root causes for them. The body must be in balance to perform at its best.

          “We think every organ and joint is important,” she says. 'No matter use herbs, acupuncture... all use those methods to improve your whole body then later on your own body works by itself', she continues and uses hypertension to illustrate this point, explaining to me that while Western Medicine will often prescribe drugs that the patient will continue to take for a long period of time to ease their symptoms, a TCM doctor will aim to remove the root cause.  

          What happens in an initial consultation?
          Usually when a patient first visits Dr. Chen, as I did, she will study the colour and shape of their face, body and tongue and feel their pulse. She will spend time talking about their symptoms, lifestyle and medical background and ask about bowel movements, appetite and how well they are sleeping. After an initial consultation and diagnosis, a patient will typically visit Dr. Chen for treatment eight to ten times, either once or twice a week.  After this they may come once a month or once every two months.

          TCM therapies
          Dr. Chen explained to me that one or more of these therapies may be used in TCM treatment:

          Herbal therapy - often used in combination with one or more other treatments, herbal therapy is usually taken as a tea or as pills. Contrary to popular belief, 95 percent of medicinal therapy is plant based and animal products are only used in special circumstances.  
          Acupuncture - uses the placement of needles along the meridian lines, according to which organ is diagnosed to be the root cause of the patient's symptoms.  
          Tui Na - a Chinese style massage similar to acupressure that focuses on specific points of the body.
          Ear acupressure - using the same theory as reflexology, a seed stuck on a cotton background is pressed onto parts of the ear.
          Scrubbing therapy (or Gua Sha) is performed along the meridians of the body. The doctor will look for purple or red 'knots' which indicate where heat or cold is gathered. They will then treat this area with cupping or moxibustion.  Dr Chen describes these knots as blockages that need to be removed for your blood and qi energy to flow properly, a bit like a traffic jam on a motorway.
          Cupping - a vacuum is created underneath a glass or plastic cup which is placed onto the skin at points determined by the Scrubbing therapy. The cup is left for 10-15 minutes.
          Moxibustion - using heat and herbs this treatment heats the meridians to make them and their associated organs stronger. 

          (Note: this article was originally published in Spirit, the magazine of the American Women's Club of Shanghai.)
          Photo credit: Tongue dance by Mario Ruzveltas from Free Digital
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