27 November 2009

Sick Note

Dear Readers,

Sandy would like to apologise for the lack of blog activity recently.

The Winter vomiting bug arrived at the Calico household on Sunday. The washing machine is straining under the weight of bedding, sleeping bags, clothes and teddies that have had to be washed repeatedly.

First Presley had it, poor little thing. Every time he vomited he screamed. He was terrified. I wasn't sure what to do so I asked for advice on Twitter. Approximately forty people gave me the same advice, offer sips of water every five minutes to keep him hydrated. I was so grateful! He was ill again on Tuesday too, but just once.

Then Andy went down with it on Tuesday night.

Cash had it on Wednesday. It's horrible seeing your babies in distress. He couldn't keep water down in the end, so I phoned NHS Direct. They called back straight away and were very helpful. Thankfully he kept drinking and eventually stopped being sick. He was completely back to normal the next day.

I was wondering whether I had escaped the bug, but it got me yesterday. I was very ill last night. I hardly slept. The expression sick as a dog comes to mind! I have pin-prick bruises all over my face - nice!

I feel slightly more human after a shower and a slice of dry toast. Hopefully that is it for us now.

Fingers crossed I'll be well enough to go to the British Mummy Bloggers meet up at London Zoo on Sunday.

Normal service should be resumed at Baby Baby next week!

Sandy x


25 November 2009

Take My Hand

When I was asked if I was interested in promoting the Women's Aid charity single on Baby Baby I didn't have to think twice.

I was in an abusive relationship once. I won't write about it as I try not to think about that awful time. The only thing I will say is when you realise you're being abused verbally, emotionally or physically GET OUT STRAIGHT AWAY. Don't hope that things will improve. They won't. Don't worry about what other people will think of you. Let them say I told you so. It doesn't matter. The people that care for you will breathe a sigh of relief and help you pack.

I was lucky, I was able to get out. Some women are not so lucky.


Women’s Aid release charity single Take My Hand

On Wednesday 25th November 2009, national charity Women’s Aid is celebrating 35 years of working to end violence against women and children by releasing their first charity single, ‘Take My Hand’. The song has been written especially for the charity to help them raise vital funds to support abused women and children. The single, which is being released to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, is sung by 13 year old classical singer Olivia Aaron, with Natasha Benjamin, a real-life survivor of domestic violence. The song is based on the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8, ‘Sonata Pathétique’ and its lyrics are an expression of the emotions experienced by children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid Chief Executive, Nicola Harwin CBE, said:

Take My Hand has been written especially for Women’s Aid and reflects the words of families that have survived abuse. The song reflects hope for a future free from violence and we hope it will reach out to those affected by domestic violence as well as the wider public. We want to raise awareness of the support available and raise vital funds so that we can continue to provide these services.”

Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women at some point in their lifetime and recent statistics from the Women’s Aid Annual Survey show that last year an estimated 18,000 women and 20,000 children lived in refuge accommodation in Women’s Aid’s national network of services.

The launch of Take My Hand on the 25th November marks the beginning of Women’s Aid’s activities to mark the ’16 days of Action’, where the charity will ask the public to help them take action against violence against women and children.

For more information on the ‘16 Days of Action’, go to www.womensaid.org.uk.

To buy Take My Hand for 79p, please go to www.womensaid.org.uk/takemyhand or straight to itunes.

Natasha's story:

‘I was only with my boyfriend for three weeks when he started to become verbally aggressive. The first time he got aggressive I thought I must have said something that upset him and he went mad. He started throwing things at the walls, even a wine glass that had red wine in it. As I left the room he continued to throw things after me and a glass plate just missed my face. The first time I did try to get help I was told to leave him, but it was not that easy. When it happened again I told no one, firstly from sheer embarrassment, and later from fear.

One night I woke up with his foot on my face and my boyfriend saying he was going to stamp on me. I had to sleep in contact lenses as it was a common occurrence for him to wake me up with demands or threats. I was so afraid of not being able to see when the assaults took place as I might not be able to get away.

I experienced a severe form of domestic violence that also included a range of abuse, from controlling where I was and what I did, to pulling my hair, to eventually strangulation. My daughter witnessed the abuse and we were both very frightened of what would happen. I was only with him for six months where he nearly killed me.

I stayed in a Women's Aid refuge which provided us with safety and which gave us the support we needed to rebuild our lives. I am singing on 'Take My Hand' to not only raise vital funds for Women's Aid but also to provide a message of hope to women and children currently living with violence in the home - thanks to support services provided by Women's Aid there is hope for a safe future free from fear.’

Thank you for reading.


24 November 2009

What Do Your Shoes Say About You?

These shoes say:
Seen better days
A bit scruffy
Could make more of an effort
Well loved

Well, I guess that's my psyche profile right there!

This post was written as part of the Sleep is for the Week Writing Workshop.

This week I chose prompt number 3. Find a picture of a shoe that best sums up your personality.Tell me why.


23 November 2009

Review: Superlambanana

If you live outside of the North West of England you may not recognise this little fella.

It's a Superlambanana!

Let me fill you in on its background...

The original Superlambanana was created in 1998 by Taro Chiezo for ArtTranspennine98, inspired by the legend of the Lambas and symbolising the past and the future of the city.

The Superlambanana is now an iconic symbol of the City of Liverpool after its use during 2008 when Liverpool was European City of Culture. As an art installation 'life size' Superlambananas were everywhere, in all colours, dotted around the city. They were a regular item on the BBC's regional news programme North West Tonight.

We moved to he North West in December 2007 and it took us a while to work out what all the fuss was about. I think they're gorgeous.

Now they're brought out a Love Me, Hug Me Superlambanana soft toy, the Scouse alternative to the teddy bear.

The soft toy is exceptionally well made, as it should be for £19.99. Presley and Cash both love it and play with it every day. It stands on its own and the snout has held up well to regular biting - do your children bite the snouts of soft toy animals, or is it just my two?

Whether you want one as a souvenir or just as a cute soft toy, the Love Me, Hug Me Superlambanana gets the Baby Baby thumbs up, as you can see!

You can buy your Love Me, Hug Me Superlambanana from various stores around Liverpool and The Wirral and online at www.superlambanana.eu

Thank you to Laura Finn from Think Publicity for sending us our very own Superlambanana to review, and Natalie Stewart for the initial contact.


22 November 2009

I'm Cybermum (Apparently)!

I was intrigued by an email I received yesterday from The Independent newspaper. They were looking for opinion from representatives of key female voting groups. They had already defined the groups they were interested in hearing from.

Apparently I'm Cybermum!

Liz at Violet Posy is Worcester Woman
Claire at 20 Something Mum is Pebbledash Woman
Karen at The Rubbish Diet is Let-Down Lady

You can read the full article online here.

We're on a double page spread in the paper today, pages 16 and 17.

We were all interviewed by telephone and we all said a great deal about the political issues that are important to us. This was edited down to a few soundbites and the rest of the page was taken up by huge photographs!

It could be worse I suppose, I think we all came across pretty well.

I gave them insightful political commentary and of course they print my 'Cameron is smarmy' comment.

Ah well, I guess this is my fifteen minutes of fame!

Thanks to Karen for the photo of the Sindy (that's what us media types call the Independent on Sunday)!


20 November 2009

Shall We Have Another Baby?

I'm broody.

I saw a tiny baby at the library this morning, I just wanted to scoop him up, cradle him in my arms and gently rock him. I wanted to nuzzle his soft head and inhale his baby aroma. I wanted to take him home!

Before I had children I didn't pay much attention to them. If a colleague came into the office on maternity leave I would coo politely, but make my excuses when I was offered a hold. Until I had Presley I'd never really held a baby (well, only if a parent placed their offspring into my arms and then took it away again when it cried)!

Now I only have to look at my Anne Geddes calendar and I sigh with longing. Not a day goes by when I don't think about being pregnant again. The delightful fluttering of the first kicks, the awe you feel when you realise there's a little person in your belly, the sheer effort of giving birth, the miracle of life.

I know, pregnancy is not all flouncing around in meadows in floaty maternity dresses, making daisy chains and reading name books... but the wind, spots, stretchmarks, indigestion, cramp, nausea, gestational diabetes, worry, sleeplessness and tiredness of pregnancy are a small price to pay for the end result, a gorgeous new child.

We always said we would have three children, if we were able. That's why we had our first two so close together, so we could squeeze another in before I get too old.

I'll be *whispers* forty in February. The risks of pregnancy increase with age. We have two beautiful healthy boys, perhaps we should quit while we're ahead.

If we do stop at two children I wonder if I will always feel this longing? The desire to have another baby is so strong, it's almost a physical yearning.

In practical terms the move from two to three children would mean changing our car and losing our spare bedroom. It would also be pretty tiring. I'll admit I'm exhausted running around after Presley and Cash. Pregnancy and a new baby would make this even harder. I've only got two hands and two knees. If I became pregnant now I would have three under three, for a little while at least. How would I cope?

I know I have infinite love to give a new baby, but my time is limited. I feel like I'm already struggling to give Presley and Cash enough individual attention, so how will us having another baby affect them?

Perhaps I should just concentrate on the children I have and enjoy them.

Perhaps I should fold up all the tiny baby clothes and take them to the charity shop.

No, not just yet.


19 November 2009


I'll admit here and now that I don't watch the X-Factor, but when the brilliant Brit in Bosnia asked me if I would promote the X-Factor charity single on Baby Baby I didn't think twice.

There is a very good reason for this. My brother spent a great deal of time at GOSH, pretty much from birth, until he was sixteen. I haven't written about him before because it is difficult. Losing a sibling is one of the worst things that can happen to you. When your brother dies and you are 27 and he is 25 you lose a part of you, a part of your family history. You lose a friend.

GOSH looked after Peter so well. He was terribly ill with a rare lung condition. Several times my parents were told that he would not survive the night, but he did. Thanks to his amazing spirit and thanks to the caring and highly skilled doctors and nurses that looked after him.

I'm sorry, I can't write any more.

Here is all the information you need to support the GOSH/X-Factor charity single:

You may be aware that the X Factor has released a charity single and Sony are going to donate all profits to Great Ormond St. hospital. The single was released earlier this week and they are really hoping that it will hit the No. 1 spot at the weekend. Not only do they need the money but they are hoping that the publicity that a No. 1 single will have will highlight Great Ormond St and their need to continue raising money.

All 12 of this year’s X Factor finalists have released a fantastic cover of Michael Jackson’s You Are Not Alone in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Their website is
http://www.gosh.org/x-factor/the-charity-single/ and there is a little video that goes with it that was shown on last weeks show http://www.gosh.org/x-factor/the-charity-single/the-story-so-far/oscar/.

Thousands of children just like Oscar, who really is an inspiration to us all, need the help of the amazing staff at GOSH and this single will help sick children from across the UK to get better.

Some of the patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital appear in the official music video launched with the single on Sunday night http://xfactor.itv.com/2009/videos/player/item_200784.htm and if you watch this then I am sure you won’t fail to want to support them.

They are asking for everyone’s support in helping this single make the number one spot this weekend. Sony are donating all profits from the sale of the single and a number of retailers are also very kindly donating all their profits from the sale of the single (find out which ones by clicking here http://www.gosh.org/x-factor/the-charity-single/buy/ ). Please ask everyone you know to buy/download this single now – it doesn’t cost much but every single bought will make an incredible difference to the sickest children in the UK right now.

Thank you.


18 November 2009

Rules for a Perfect Family Christmas

When John Lewis asked me to write my 'rules' for a perfect family Christmas I was delighted.

I love John Lewis, it's my favourite shop (and I'm not just saying that because they're sending me a voucher)!

For all of my adult life I have shopped at John Lewis. I used to go to the Milton Keynes store for my Christmas shopping. When I worked near the Welwyn Garden City store I would go there in my lunch hour. The only item on our wedding list was John Lewis vouchers. For the record we mainly bought white goods. I bought all my baby things from the Kingston store when we lived in Surrey. Now we have moved to Preston and I've started the big countdown. John Lewis Preston opens in 2012! Until then I shop online, a lot. It's free delivery on everything too.

So, the rules...


The children must stay in their bedrooms until Mummy and Daddy get the video camera running downstairs to record the wide-eyed Santa sack reaction.

There will be at least one potato in each child's Santa sack. Each potato represents a toy that Santa took out of their sack when they were naughty.

Each child must share their chocolate with Mummy and Daddy.

The Christmas Meal

We will all remember our table manners as we enjoy a long, leisurely lunch.

We will eat a roast dinner, with all the trimmings. There must be a sprout on every plate for decoration. Mummy will eat the seventeen remaining sprouts. Yum.

Mummy and Daddy will drink champagne and eat Rennies for the rest of the day.

The In-Laws

We will all go to the In-Laws for Boxing Day. Mummy and Daddy can relax and eat an enormous meal that they didn't have to cook, The children can eat as much chocolate as they like and play with Grandma and Grandad.


We will slouch on the couch, still wearing our paper hats, and watch a family film. The film will have been highlighted in our copy of the Christmas Radio Times.


Mummy will decorate the tree with a lifetime of Christmases. Each decoration tells a story. There is the koala fairy from Australia, the wooden kiwi from New Zealand, the candy canes that she bought from Poundstretcher twenty years ago that the cats used to hide down the back of the sofa. There is the enamelled penguin and the gold dragonfly that we bought for Presley's first Christmas and the knitted owl and charity teddy we bought for Cash's first Christmas.

I love Christmas!

This is a sponsored post.


Wordless Wednesday - Children In Need

Baby Baby supports BBC Children in Need.

This year's appeal is on BBC1 on Friday 20th November.


17 November 2009

A Tour of the Breastfeeding Unit

When I was 36 weeks pregnant with my second child we were booked on a tour of the maternity unit at our local hospital. I wasn't sure it was worth going as I'd imagined all hospitals were the same clinical, impersonal, yet dirty places.

As we had recently moved to the area we decided to go on the tour, just to get our bearings.

There was plenty of car-parking and reasonably priced too! There were bays near the entrance for mums in labour. After a short walk we entered the maternity unit. It was light and airy. It didn't smell like a hospital. It was clean without smelling of disinfectant.

We were greeted by a cheery midwife named Sue . She welcomed us all (there were five couples on the tour) and told us to ask as many questions as we liked.

We saw the wards first. They were bright and spotlessly clean. Midwives chatted with new mums and cooed over newborn babies.

We heard a loud moan and saw a woman in labour being pushed by in a wheelchair. 'She's on her way to the delivery suite', said Sue, 'that's where we're going next'.

The delivery suite was a picture of calm efficiency. There were many delivery rooms. Each room had a large birthing pool, mats on the floor, bean bags and birthing balls. Sue showed us how to dim the lights. She also mentioned that all essential medical equipment was at hand, but not in full view. The room was cosy and private.

'Follow me', said Sue, 'we're very proud of the next unit'. We approached a new wing called The Breastfeeding Unit. It was next to the maternity ward. I hadn't seen one of these before.

In The Breastfeeding Unit were several large rooms. In each room were a few breastfeeding chairs and stools. There were pillows of all shapes and sizes. There was also a bed.

Sue explained to us that new mothers could come here, away from the ward, and learn to breastfeed. There were five full time, fully trained, breastfeeding specialists working on the unit. Sue had arranged for us to see a breastfeeding specialist in action. She was helping a new mum to feed her newborn son. The new mum was happy for us to watch.

The breastfeeding specialist, Kath, explained that the most important part of learning to breastfeed was for the mother and baby to feel relaxed and comfortable. Kath helped the new mum get comfortable. She laid a pillow on her lap and handed her the baby. We could see the baby was hungry so Kath explained exactly how to attach the baby to the breast. This took a few attempts, but each time Kath patiently advised the new mum what she should do next. Once the baby was feeding well, Kath passed the new mum a glass of water.

This was a revelation to me. Kath didn't grab the new mum's breast or force open the baby's mouth and shove the two together (as had been my experience of being 'taught' how to breastfeed).

Kath said that the mums could spend as long as they liked in the unit. It was manned around the clock and a breastfeeding specialist was always available to help, with every feed if necessary.

'What happens when you go home?', I asked. Sue took over again and led us to another part of the unit. 'Here's the day clinic', she said, 'you can come back - every day if you need to - for as long as you like. You never have to wait long, there are always plenty of staff.'.

'We're so proud of our breastfeeding rates, they're more than double the national average'. Sue was beaming. I started to cry, for joy. This time I would get the help I needed.


So, where is this wonderful hospital?

I'm sorry to disappoint you. It doesn't exist. I made it up.

But wouldn't it be BRILLIANT?!

This post was written for the Sleep is for the weak writing workshop #5.

The prompt I chose was 3. What would you like to see in your ideal hospital?


16 November 2009

NSPCC - Letter From Santa

When the NSPCC asked if I would mention their Christmas fundraising campaign 'Letter from Santa', I was delighted to help out.

Please see the press release below. For a suggested donation of £5 to the NSPCC your child can get a personalised letter from Santa. How brilliant is that?


Santa Claus is coming to town! But before he does, he has a personalised letter for every child excitedly waiting for his annual visit.

The NSPCC’s Letter from Santa fundraising initiative gives parents, grandparents and anyone else the chance to nominate someone special to receive a magical letter from Santa for a suggested donation of £5. The letter is personalised with the child’s name and age and is sure to confirm that Santa will be making his usual stop in the child’s home town to wish everyone a merry Christmas. The letter is written in a hand script font and is beautifully illustrated on quality colourful paper. The envelope shows that it’s been safely delivered through ‘express Rudolph Mail’.

Fundraiser Binita Patel said: “Letter from Santa is a brilliant way to put an extra twinkle into Christmas this year and make a child feel extra special. The appeal also helps us to raise money to support children who are perhaps not as fortunate.

“It is important to remember that Christmas is not a time of celebration for every child. Over the 12 days of festive cheer last year, ChildLine – a service provided by the NSPCC - counselled over 3,500 children who were in danger or distress and had nowhere else to turn. By supporting this appeal you will be helping to provide support, advice and protection for these children who are in desperate need of help.”

Also on offer is a Baby’s First Christmas letter from Santa, which is the perfect keepsake for newborns celebrating their first festive season.

To order a letter from Santa for a child you know, visit http://www.nspccwishes.org.uk/ or call 0845 839 9304. Alternatively look out for a Letter from Santa order postcard in your local Debenhams, SPAR, Thorntons or Bhs store.


13 November 2009

The Secrets of My Blogging Success!

Tomorrow is my six month 'blogoversary'. My first post was only written on 14th May this year so I was shocked and delighted to find Baby Baby at number 5 in the Top 100 UK Parent blogs today. To paraphrase Norman Cook 'You've come a long way Baby Baby'!

A few people have asked me how this has happened so I thought I would share my secrets. Well, they're not secrets at all, but this is my blogging experience. (There is also an excellent post you can read over at Angels and Urchins that covers even more about how to start a blog).

I started on Twitter in February this year. One of my Twitter friends @Caroljs had started a blog New Mummy. I thought it was a lovely way for her to record her life as a new mother. This was the first blog I ever read. Thank you Carol x

In May I attended a session run by the Preston Writing Network, it was a Preston bloggers meetup. A journalism lecturer explained the technical 'how to' and I was able to chat with Ed from Preston Blog and the fabulous Jenn Ashworth about starting a blog. Before this I really didn't understand what a blogging was all about.

The best piece of advice I was given on that night was to become part of the blogging community.

In her wonderful explanation of the Top100 this month Sally writes:
"The blogs that really score highly in the index are those that are lively, thriving, interactive blogs written by bloggers who have thrown themselves headlong into the Mummy blogging community and feel passionately about what they do."
If you would like to know more about how the Top100 is put together, you can read all about it here.

When I started Baby Baby I set about finding the community. To do this I looked at Carol's blog and went through her Blog Roll (list of blogs she reads). I followed the blogs I liked and again looked through their blog rolls. I started leaving comments on other bloggers' posts. People were polite enough to visit my blog and either leave a comment or follow me back (or both).

I quickly realised that the mummy blogging community is a friendly and supportive place. It's a wonderful way to get advice, have a laugh or share someone's pain. I have cried with laughter. I have also sobbed my heart out reading some posts. If you're feeling down virtual hugs are a pretty good substitute for the real thing. People care.

I joined British Mummy Bloggers. It's a great forum. Here you will find plenty of blogs to read. Over time I have become involved in discussions and even started a couple.

Since joining BMB I have met some bloggers in real life. I email others and friendships are developing. I had no idea that this would happen.

I submit posts for carnivals. I occasionally write guest posts for other blogs. If someone has written a blog post that inspires me to write my own take on the subject I always credit them by linking back to their blogs.

I try to make my posts easy to read, although I sometimes struggle with Blogger - like today I can not get the font right over the whole post! I also try to keep my posts fairly short (she says, having written loads today)!

If I like a post I have read I will tweet about it, other bloggers do the same. The community is more supportive than competitive on Twitter.

So what do I write about? I started the blog thinking I would have a niche. I thought having two babies born within a year of each other would make an interesting read, but I haven't really written much about that.

I write about what's going on in our lives. I write about what I see on the news. I post photographs that I hope amuse you. In terms of Google searches (SEO), my most popular post has been Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers. I've been looking back over my blog posts and think the content is pretty varied, there are even a few recipes. I hope you find my blog entertaining.

You should write about what you know, what interests you, what excites you, what you feel passionate about. I could write about my children all day and I love reading about yours.

I take part in the weekly writing workshop at Sleep is for the weak. (I don't like to single anyone out because I have many favourite blogs, but I think this is one of the best blogs out there).

Before Baby Baby I hadn't written anything (non-work related) in the twenty years since I left school. The more I write, the more I enjoy it. I hope I'm getting better at it. I hope I'm finding my voice.

I haven't written quite so many blog posts in the last couple of weeks as I've been inspired to try my hand at creative writing. I started a creative writing course two weeks ago and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I've also joined a local creative writing group.

I'm not going to neglect Baby Baby or my Google Reader, but there are only so many hours in the day. I'm still reading all of your posts, and commenting when I have the time. I am so grateful to my lovely readers for all their support.

There are other ways to raise your blogging profile that I'm aware of, but haven't tried yet, such as hosting a carnival or using McLinky, or creating a meme. Some people's blogs look so stylish, mine definitely isn't, sometimes a makeover or sleek design can create a good impression.

Above all, write for YOU and enjoy the experience. Don't try too hard or worry about the Top100. Another paraphrase for you, from Field of Dreams this time, 'If you write it, they will come'.

I hope you've found this interesting. Happy Blogging!

If you would like me to explain more about any of the points raised above, please contact me via the comments box or by email to sandycalico at ymail dot com.


12 November 2009

Where Do Chips Come From?

1 in 10 children aged 7 - 11 think chickens lay potatoes! *
1 in 5 have no idea that potatoes are grown in the ground *
1 in 5 didn't realise that chips are made from the humble spud *

Wow. I suppose I'm lucky. When I was growing up we ate fresh food and my Grandad had an enormous vegetable patch. I remember driving home most Sundays holding a massive cabbage or cauliflower.

I've continued to cook from scratch all my life and luckily Andy is the same. Of course we occasionally eat processed food and have the odd takeaway, but for us there's nothing like a plate that has fresh vegetables on it.

I want my children to understand food provenance. I always show them what I'm cooking and name every piece of food on their plates, especially the vegetables. The meat side of food production may be tricky, after all who wants to eat Buttercup Cow or Lavender Lamb?!

Presley and Cash have been in our greenhouse and they know we had tomatoes, peppers and chillies there in the Summer. Andy's father also grows fruit and vegetables. As a treat Presley is allowed to eat tomatoes straight from the plant. I can always tell he has been in Grandad's greenhouse as he has a trail of pink juice down his chin and on his T-shirt. He also likes to bring his Grandma potatoes from the sack in the garage.

The lovely Kim Hong from Fleishman Hillard sent the boys some little gardening sets and a packet of potato seeds. Thank you Kim, we'll plant them next year - when it's a bit warmer! She also sent some information on "The Potato Story" that I would like to share with you.

This is the final week that the McCain educational bus is touring schools. This unbranded, purpose-built double-decker bus has to date reached 17,400 primary school children in a national roadshow. The aim is to educate children about where their food comes from and how to make healthy food choices. On the bus the children learn how potatoes are grown and harvested as well as the different methods to prepare them to eat. The journey from field to fork is demonstrated as an interactive learning experience.

If your child missed the bus, you can check out the fantastic accompanying website here.

You can see some photos on their flickr stream here.

So, what are my boys having for tea? Fish fingers, peas, sweetcorn and oven chips. Ahem. The oven chips are home made using real potatoes, thank you very much!

* McCain "Food for Thought" surveyed 1500 children aged between 7 and 11 in February 2009.


11 November 2009

Wordless Wednesday - ASBO Baby!


10 November 2009

Innocence Lost

Last night on Twitter I saw a few people taking about 'shag bands'. I had to Google them.

If you don't know what they are, there's an excellent article today in The Times.

On the face it it they're nothing more than plastic bangles, a fashion item, but when you know the meanings of the bands they become something else. They become a vile, repulsive symbol of the sexualisation of our children.

There are companies targeting children with these bands. They may say they're aimed at older teenagers, but they are sold to younger teenagers. Children as young as 8 are copying the playground craze.

I wouldn't want my hypothetical 8 year old daughter knowing about blow jobs and glow in the dark sex toys. Until last night I didn't know about glow in the dark sex toys. Each to their own, I suppose.

I get increasingly upset when I see young girls dressed up for parties in 'sexy' tops that show their bellies and mini skirts. They look tarty and swivel their hips, gyrating to misogynistic dance tracks.

Advertising, magazines and television (particularly MTV) are taking away our children's innocence. Girls are bombarded by airbrushed size zero models with fake breasts. This is not how most women look. This is not healthy.

The cult of celebrity is also damaging how youngsters view the world. There seem to be many children that believe just being on television is a worthy ambition. They want to be famous - no talent required. Even worse, they want to be married to someone famous. Being a footballer's wife should not be an acceptable career choice.

I know we no longer live in the 1970's - my age of innocence - but I'd like my children to be children for as long as possible. Sex and relationships and 'shag bands' can wait.

On days like this I'm glad I have sons and not daughters.

Image Credit: Timesonline


8 November 2009

Lest We Forget

It was strange this morning, in the supermarket.

I knew Booths were observing the two minute silence at 11am for Remembrance Sunday. I didn't have my watch on, but had arrived shortly before 11am.

I was waiting for the tannoy announcement, but there wasn't one. It didn't take me long to realise that everyone else was standing still, respectfully silent. I stopped rummaging about in the fresh chickens and joined them.

I thought, as I always do, of my late grandfather. He was born on what was to become Armistice Day, 11th November. Luckily he was too young to fight in the First World War and too old to fight in the Second World War.

My thoughts turned to those serving today, in conflicts around the world. Some people may not agree with the reasons for going to war, but these men and women are putting their lives at risk every single day in the hope of peace.

Then, my eyes stinging with tears, I thought of their mothers.

Millions of mothers (and fathers) throughout history have sent their children away to war, not knowing if they will see them again. Waiting each day for a letter or a dreaded telegram.

I am grateful for the sacrifices made by previous generations. I hope and pray that I never have to wave my sons off to war.

Lest we forget.


Review: simplehuman

Can you guess what this is?

It's a sensor soap pump. It was kindly sent to me to review by simplehuman.

I have to admit I hadn't heard of simplehuman before, but I'm impressed by the stylish product selection. Their ranges include fingerprint free bins, recycling solutions, soap dispensers and various other well-designed kitchen and bathroom items. Their products have been featured in many newspapers and magazines. They have also had products in Lost, Heroes, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.

So, the sensor soap pump. It is the snazziest item in my kitchen by far. I have the brushed nickel finish, the one in the photograph is the black version. Prices range from £35 to £40.

I liked that it was easy to set up. You just fill it with liquid soap, turn it on and away you go.

It works perfectly. All you do is put your hand under the dispenser and soap comes out. It always dispenses the right amount of soap too.

Did I mention it looks snazzy? It is clearly very high quality, beautifully finished and well-designed.

The only downside is that we don't have sensor taps so you still have to touch the taps with dirty hands. Oh well, maybe one day we'll have a new kitchen to go with it!


6 November 2009

A Minute for Madeleine

I can't think of a better subject for my 100th post.

Please watch this video. I have and I'm crying. I can not imagine what Madeleine's parents are going through. How to they get up in the morning?

Please take a minute for Madeleine. Let's hope we can make a difference.


5 November 2009

Toy Story

This is my life now. Well, not really, this is a pile of toys and books. This is a fairly tidy bit of our lounge.

It is symbolic of how my life has changed forever. Every night I pick my way through the toys on the lounge floor and I feel happy. Two small children live here now.

Most of the time it looks like a mini tornado has ripped through the house, leaving upturned cars and cows in its path.

Burglars beware! If we don't put everything away in the toy box (ahem, most nights), the house is reminiscent of that scene in the film Home Alone. You know, the one where Kevin leaves all of his toys out for the hapless burglars to stand on, slip on or fall on.

I don't know why I don't wear shoes in the house, it would save me from injury and save the toys from going to the toy hospital. We tell the boys it's a toy hospital, but really it's a heap on the kitchen worktop of things Mummy has trodden on and broken. Also there are the well loved books that need a bit of TLC - and sellotape.

We do rotate toys and only leave out a few at a time, this doesn't stop the boys getting everything out of the toy box every day.

I've just had a scary thought.

It will soon be Christmas.



Speaking of toys and Christmas - do you see what I did there? Seamless - the Great Toy Guide has your ultimate guide to reusable advent calendars here. We drew the short straw at Baby Baby and got an embroidered bag for life to review. Have a look and see what we thought of it here.


4 November 2009

The Next Face of Next?

This is a sponsored post.

The Next Generation Children’s Competition 2009 launched today on the Nextonline Facebook page. They are looking for pint-sized models who could be the new face of Next.

If you have a child who will be aged between 4 and 7 on 31st December 2009, that would like to take part, simply head on over to the Facebook page. All entry information is there.

The prizes are as follows:
  • The chance to star in a photo shoot for Next Directory
  • A childrenswear shoot for Red Magazine
  • Representation by the renowned Urban Angels Modelling Agency
  • A shopping spree at Next

Alongside the Children's Competition, Next are inviting children aged 0-16 to draw a picture showing “their wish” and upload a photo of the picture to the Make a Wish event on their Facebook page. A panel of judges at Next will choose the top fifty designs and the entrants responsible for the top designs will then be asked to submit their original drawings and join in all the fun of the competition final at Woburn Abbey on 21st December, when an overall winner will be selected. This design will be manufactured by Next, with sales benefiting the Make-a-wish Foundation.

Best of luck if your children enter either competition.


Wordless Wednesday - Row Row Row Your Boat...


2 November 2009

Child Development is NOT a Competition

Overheard in the Co-op:

Granny 1 "Our Hannah does all the animal noises, she's only just one."

Granny 2 "She's not walking yet though is she? Our Sophie has been running around since she was 9 months."

Granny 1 "She's nearly there. Our Sharon won't toilet train our Harry. He's two now."

Granny 2 "I know. They don't bother these days. They're so lazy."

I didn't need to hear the rest of the conversation but I knew it would include the words 'in our day'. I pushed my boys to the tills and left them to their gossiping.

I appreciate it is only natural to compare your children to their peers. As a parent you like to know if your child is in the right ball pond. You want them to develop within the normal range. Incidentally, I dislike the word 'normal', but couldn't think of a better choice of word!

What isn't helpful is when other people compare your children, especially within ear shot. My boys are constantly compared with their cousins. Part of it is bragging and pride. I'm delighted when my boys reach a milestone or achieve a first, but I know it's only really of interest to us. I wouldn't, for example, tell the parents of a child that doesn't yet speak that my child had a vocabulary of 1000 words at eighteen months. I wouldn't ask them if they spoke to the child or read books to them. If they asked me for my advice I would gently reassure them that there was nothing to worry about.

Children develop at different rates. There are some exceptions, but generally they all walk and they all talk before they go to school. Some clatter about from an early age, others are cautious. Some are outgoing and some need reassurance. They all have their own little developing personalities. Leave them to it, I say.

I dread to think what it will be like when they go to school, a whole new ball game I expect.

I do apologise, this is turning into a rant!

Please don't get me started on parents that think their way is the only way. If I hear one more time, from a certain person, how easy they found X I'll scream!!!

Can you tell I didn't get enough sleep last night? ;-)

This post was written as part of the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop. This week I chose prompt number 1: Write about an over-heard conversation.

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