Friday, 27 April 2012


The day had not started well. The clouds had seen fit to pee all over us from the moment we set foot outside our front door to the second we arrived at DD's first ever ballet class. We were soaked by the time we walked through the door and I was not in the best of moods.

But then my face lit up.

The dance studio was full of pretty little girls in leotards, tutus and ballet slippers, a sea of pale pink cuteness all tied up with bows and ribbons. There were even a couple of boys in black ballet shoes and very handsome they looked too. They were quiet and serene and all under four years old. I was full of hope. My little girl's first ballet lesson. This was going to be a beautiful experience that I would treasure forever. I almost shed a tear.

Then I glanced at DD. Her face took in the wide hall with huge mirrors running down each side and her expression said "whhheeeeeeee!"

I bit my lip and quaked in my soggy socks.

We started off sitting in a circle on the floor and the teacher asked us to point our toes and flex our toes, point and flex. This requires sitting still. DD took in what she was being asked to do, looked at the other children, took a moment to consider things and decided that wasn't the best game in town. Instead she stood up, ran over to the bar and swung on it. Throughout the class I vainly attempted to tempt, cajole and finally manhandle DD into a still standing position, to listen to what the lovely teacher was saying, point her toes, bend her knees and basically behave like a little lady rather than a hooligan.

Instead she chose to bounce around the room like Tigger on crack, yelling and shrieking while oogling herself in the mirror.

Mmmmm... not quite the picture I had in mind.

By the end of the 30 minute class we were both very frustrated and cross with each other.

The frankly lovely and very patient teacher suggested that perhaps DD would be better off in the lower age class? I agreed and promised to be back next week, lying through my clenched teeth, before scampering out into the waiting rainstorm. Our first and last toddler ballet class was over.

But not quite.

DD didn't leave without a parting shot at the whole phenomenon that is ballet. As we were putting on our welly boots I asked her quietly, "Well, did you like ballet then?" and she replied, at the top of her voice so that each and every person this side of the M25 could hear, "No Mummy. And I didn't do as I was told because I didn't want to do what the teacher told me to do."

Voltaire said that 'dancing is an art because it is subject to rules'. And as far as DD is concerned, rules are meant to be broken.

As we drove home, steam from our clothes misting up the windscreen, I knew we'd be hanging up our ballet slippers for a while. I just don't have a ballet toddler. I don't have a toddler that I can mould and shape into what I want her to be. And I shouldn't even try. I have an independent minded, energetic, tree-climbing and self-confident daughter who knows her own mind.

And that's exactly the way it should be.

Image credit: Microsoft Office

Thursday, 26 April 2012

She ran down the list, checking off each item and looking around to review her progress. The azure seas teemed with fish. The fertile land was bursting with new life. The stars shone brightly at night and the sun brought forth each new day. Two beautiful people walked hand in hand along the beach. (She was particularly pleased with how they'd turned out.) Chewing the top of her pen she reached the bottom of the list. Tick, tick, tick.
"I'm exhausted. Close the door behind you," she said and sank into a plump of white leather cushions to finally rest.

The prompt for this week's 100 word challenge over at Julia's Place is in bold. Why not pop over and enjoy the other entries?

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Our story... for my daughter

When DD was born I kept a journal of her first weeks in a small notebook. It was a scrappy little thing, but it was a home for my thoughts and a record of what we were doing and feeling as our lives changed so completely and we welcomed our new family into being. I love reading back over my quickly jotted notes, remembering those early days, our hopes, our fears, the complete lack of sleep! Over time I've moved these thoughts to my personal journal, mixing them in with my own life journey. 

This weekend I was browsing one of my fav local shops and found this little beauty *points up*. Not so much a home for my thoughts as a palace. And more, importantly, a palace to share. It occurred to me when I saw this that my record keeping is great for me, but I can't exactly give it to DD when she's older. I love the tales my Mother tells me about our family history and my time as a child. For me, memories are the most precious when they are shared with the ones we love.

Our Story – for my daughter caught my eye because it is beautiful. A hard back journal, case bound with a ribbon marker, it's 160 colour pages (140gsm, nice and thick) are illustrated with pretty designs but free of the annoying obligatory questions that these types of journals usually have. It starts in our first year together and works through until DD is eighteen. And with only a few pages for each year it's not a chore to complete. There are spaces for photos or drawings but no flap for mementos at the back - that would be a great addition. But I'm being picky there if I'm honest. It wasn't cheap at £19.99 but for me, it's worth it.

What I like most about this journal is that the prompts are general and you can make of them what you like. DD's growth, development and personality, precious family memories or just my own thoughts and feelings about our time together will all fit in with them. This journal is not prescriptive. It's an open page waiting for me to fill it with our amazing journey together.

And on her eighteenth birthday I will give it to DD. My gift to her - a record of my love.

By the way, this is NOT a sponsored review. I bought this journal with OH's hard earned cash and love it so much I want to share it with all of you. There is a boy version too - Our Story for my Son and a pregnancy and first year journal - Bump to Birthday.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Inspired by...

Silent Sunday

Friday, 20 April 2012

Who me?


Oh me oh my! Somehow I've managed to be this week's  Shocked doesn't do it justice and I'm blushing from my need-highlighting-roots to my need-a-pedicure toes but I'm also reet proud of myself truth be told. Thanks Brit Mums!

You Are What You Eat winners

The three winners of a copy of 'You Are What You Eat' by Serge Bloch

SAHM Loving It
Michelle Davis


Please send me your address details and your books will be popped in the post pronto.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

I'm empty

I'm afraid this is going to be one of THOSE posts.

You know the type, all moany and self-conscious, pouting and pouring it's heart out to anyone who'll listen and nursing a pint for a good hour. You see my groove's gone missing. Somewhere between the Easter Holidays, DD starting nursery again in the afternoons, her MUCH earlier wake-up calls due to the dawn chorus performing outside her window and me taking on a new web co-ordinator role for our local playgroup, I think. I last saw it before the holidays and we were firm friends, but it seems to have sloped off somewhere while I wasn't looking. I've just been too busy.

Just sitting here and scribbling away on the sofa in that golden period between DD going to bed and OH coming home starving for his dinner I can savour the quiet and just let my head empty out on the page. But the trouble with emptying this particular black hole onto the page is that I often don't like what I find these days.

It's not that there's a barbarian army using my brain as a trojan horse or a three headed monster ready to gobble up the universe while it sits on a turtles back. No, it's that there's LESS in there than I'd hoped. It's quiet. Eerily so. Even the tumble weed is wearing slippers and my usually nagging inner voice is having a break and scoffing a Kitkat. There's nothing there to rattle my creative cage, get my juices flowing, bring be back to the page.

I'm empty.

I wonder how long it will take to fill me back up again?

Image: ponsuwan /

George goes for it

"Oh hell," said George, "Why not? I'm in"
And offered his cup to the flagon
"It's bound to just a large rodent or dog
'cause there's no such thing as a dragon."

All dolled up was he the next day
All shiny brass, red, white and blue
Full of bluster was he 'till the smoke and the flame
Then decided he needed the loo.

But George was brave, despite all this
And from somewhere deep down within
He mustered up all of his courage and yelled
"Red Bull give me wings!"

George and the dragon fought long and hard
(They both went without any dinner)
But in the end, if truth be told, and it must
There could only be just the one winner.

So it was on that day that George prevailed
And smote that dragon so sweetly
And the monster gasped with it's last dying breath
"I thought it was to be, but it was not to be."

To celebrate that 23 April is both St George's Day and the date of Shakespeare's birth and death, this  week's prompt over at the 100 word challenge is to write a sonnet with a minimum of 14 lines. Read more entries over at Julia's Place.

Julia's Place - the 100 word challenge

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Inspired by...

Silent Sunday

See more Silent Sundays at Love All Blogs

Friday, 13 April 2012

You Are What You Eat

Some of you will know that from time to time I run the  here (erm... yep the club doors for April haven't opened yet...) which all stemmed from the seemingly never-sending saga of DD's fussy eating habits. So when the new paperback edition of Serge Bloch's illustrated children's book  popped through the letter box I was ready to be amused.

Playing on grown-up idioms like 'eat my words' and the images they could create in the minds of children, You Are What You Eat features a toddler with tunnel vision when it comes to his diet. I empathise. Or rather DD would. 

The book is charmingly illustrated with a clever combination of line drawings and photographs by Serge Bloch who won a gold medal at the Society of Illustrators and created art for numerous adult and children’s books. (He also illustrates for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and Newsweek. I'm a bit in awe.) It's aimed at children aimed four and up but, and I speak from experience here, their parents will probably steal it for a chuckle from time to time too.

Thankfully (spoiler alert!) everything turns out all right in the end and the little boy realises that when it comes to food, variety is the spice of life. Now if he could just come over here and teach that to my daughter, I'd be forever grateful.

I know I won't be alone in loving this book. So I'm delighted to be able to give away a copy to three of you lovely lot. All you need to do is leave me a comment below with the food that always tempts your little one to eat (yep, I'm looking for new ideas people). 

The all important small print: I was sent a copy of You Are What You Eat by Serge Bloch (published by Sterling, ISBN: 9781402797606, Price £5.99) to review and offered three copies to give away. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, one entry per household, and will be open until 6am (ish) on Friday 20th April 2012. There is no cash alternative. The three winners will be chosen at random via The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen, again at random. You don't have to subscribe to Bod for tea or like my or follow me on as part of your entry. (But I wouldn't complain if you did!)

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Gina Ford's Toddler

Throughout my pregnancy with DD I assumed I'd be an Earth Mother; all cheesecloth and demand feeding. I faithfully read from cover to cover and dreamed of life without a routine, going with the flow, letting DD lead the way. I also assumed the birth would be natural and she'd go to term, so shows how much I knew. Life just ain't like that for us. And I was also kidding myself if I thought that a type-A, serial list-making, certifiable control freak manager would become a hippy-mummy over night.

But it DID come as a surprise when I realised this week while idly flicking through Gina Ford's that DD is, in fact, a Gina Ford toddler.

Now when DD was born routine was pretty much our life. As she was premature and only four pounds this necessitated 2-hourly feeds round the clock and she pretty much refused a bottle from the get-go. The bags under my eyes weren't suitcases, they were skips. At one point I even started hallucinating. (I thought I saw my bed with me sleeping in it.) There was no question of trying to get her onto the 7-7 routine that Ms Ford raves about and in any case I'd been completely turned off her theories in my going-to-be-an-earth-mother stage.

But yesterday while I perused the routines for a 33 month old, I realised that DD is textbook. Up between 6.45am and 7am, in bed by 6.45pm to 7pm. Lunch between 12.30 and 1pm, tea at 5pm, upstairs for her bath by 5.45pm. Like I said, textbook.

How did we do this? Beats me. But it rocks.

Image: Stuart Miles /

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Inspired by...

Silent Sunday

See more Silent Sunday snaps at Love All Blogs

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Monday, 1940s style

Today I'm handing Bod for tea over to a very special lady who has allowed me to re-print this article she wrote back in 1974 about my Great-Grandmother. The prompt was 'Monday' and the author was, well it was my Mother. Enjoy.

Image credit
The thoughts that come into my mind at the mention of Monday are: washday, cold meat for lunch and 'drip-dries' hanging in the bathroom. It's not my favourite day of the week, especially first thing in the morning when the family have departed, leaving behind a clutter of belongings to wade through with maybe a hasty call from the stairs "Will you give my brown trousers a quick rinse through, Mum?". That makes six pairs of trousers to wash this week, I mutter to myself. Then I face the pile of clothes waiting in the laundry bag and pull the twin-tub up to the sink.

Now if it was my lot to do the weekly wash as my Grandmother used to back in the 1940s, I would have something to complain about. She never seemed to mind Monday mornings. At five o'clock without fail, she could be heard hurrying down the stone steps leading from her kitchen into the yard below. In the yard was the wash-house; a basement room, leading to a small garden. The wash-house contained a large stone copper with a space underneath for a fire. This was always filled with kindling the night before.

Grannie's first task was to fill the copper with cold water from the tap at the deep stone sink. Then she lit the fire before lifting a large tin bath from the wall and filling it with a solution of 'blue' to make the white's sparkle. Another bath was set aside for starch. As she waited for the water in the copper to boil there were various other tasks to be carried out: the laundry needed to be sorted into whites and coloureds, the washing line wiped clean and the clothes prop fetched from Grandad's shed. Some mornings she had to knock the snow from her shoes as she came back into the wash-house.

When she was satisfied that the water was hot enough she added soda and soap-powder and swirled the mixture around with a copper stick. The white clothes were added and left to boil for a while and she got started on the coloured clothes with a frenzy of rubbing and scrubbing in the sink, her brown arms covered in soap suds up to her elbows. When these were washed, rinsed and starched to her satisfaction she repeated the whole process with the now boiled-within-an-inch-of-their-lives whites. These were carefully lifted out of the copper with wash tongs and woe-betide anyone who was in the way. After they were rinsed in the blue and starch solutions my part in the proceedings began.
Image credit_

Grannie pushed a large mangle with wooden rollers into the garden and adjusted the screw at the top. My task was to feed each piece of clothing through the rollers while Grannie turned the heavy metal wheel. The speed that the rollers spun allowed no time for dawdling and added spice to the operation. In no time at all a large basked had been filled with the now flattened clothes.

Now came the highlight of the morning, weather permitting. The snow white sheets were pegged to the line and hoisted into position with the prop. The wind would catch them and send them billowing high above Grandad's tomato plants and chrysanthemums. Grannie would stand for a few moments watching them blow then showing her approval with a snort, hurry back to tidy the wash-house.

It did not seem to matter to her that smoke from the nearby railway would soon cover the sheets with black specks of soot. Her washing was still the whitest in that poor street and looking back it was probably the only thing she could take pride in. Maybe Monday mornings were a kind of therapy in the never ending struggle to make ends meet.

I sometimes wonder if some of Grannie's 'Monday Morning Therapy' sessions would help the gadget-surrounded housewife of today appreciate the ease of her life compared with Grannie's time. Although I must admit not until my twin-tub is pushed back into it's own little alcove and my own washing is done.
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