30 December 2009

Baby Baby Review of the Year

It's that time of year again. The five days between Christmas and New Year, Twixtmas as it is now known.

It's the time of year we reflect on the previous 12 months. I don't know about you but hasn't 2009 flown by? I know, we say it every year!

Thanks to the lovely Sam from Mum's The Boss who has tagged me with the High-5 Meme.

The rules are to thank the person who tagged you, list your top 5 highlights from 2009 and then tag 5 more bloggers to do the same.

Off we go...

1 - Getting Online
2009 was the year I joined the modern world. I joined Twitter in February and have made some wonderful friends, some of whom I now know in real life. I totally 'got' Twitter straight away, I still don't really 'get' Facebook in the same way. Joining Twitter was key to me finding the Preston Writing Network (now The Lancashire Writing Hub), The Continental pub and arts space and starting Baby Baby.

2 - Starting to Write
In January I wrote and recorded a song called 'Meteoric' (with Andy's help on the recording side, oh and he played all the instruments for me, but I wrote the words and the melody)! This was the first song I had written since I left school. I wrote another four songs this year, two are duets with Andy. This was a great way for us to spend time together.
In May I started this blog. I re-discovered a love of writing that I hadn't known since school. I've enjoyed being part of the blogging community and again have made many friends.
In July I had a go at creative writing. I started with a 1600 word short story, written in just 2 hours. I joined a local creative writing group and have now written many pieces, including some creative non-fiction. I've had one story published online, I got totally over-excited when I got the email telling me I was successful!
In November I started a creative writing course that I loved.
Last week I started writing my novel. I'm still in shock that I had an idea for a book and started writing!

3 - Performing Live
Andy and I are now regulars at open mic music nights in Preston (baby sitters permitting). Andy almost always writes new material for each gig. Together we have performed my songs, duets and one cover. People clapped, I shook, but the buzz from singing live stayed with me for days! I'm tremendously proud of the way Andy had developed as a live performer this year.
I also read a short story at a live literature night. Again, this was nerve-wracking but exciting too, especially when several people came up to me afterwards with positive feedback and encouragement.

4 - The Breast Cancer Care Fashion Show
My best friend Amanda, a breast cancer survivor, was one of the catwalk models at the 2009 Breast Cancer Care Fashion Show. Amanda looked gorgeous. I cried buckets. We got dressed up, got drunk, spotted celebs and all for a great cause.

5 - Going to Number 10 Downing Street
This was another night to remember. My Twitter friend, Sarah Brown, invited me to a party at her house. This was not just any old house party. It was The Downing Tweet Christmas Party in support of a Million Mums. I got dressed up, got drunk (again), chatted to celebs and all for another great cause. This really was the opportunity of a lifetime, and all because of Twitter!

That's my top five highlights of 2009. Obviously being a wife and mother has been amazing all year and raising two small boys has been hard work all year too, but I wouldn't swap my life for anyone's.

There was one low point in 2009, losing our lovely old cat in July.

Otherwise this has been an amazing year for me.

I'm going to tag the following fabulous five:

Apologies if you have already been tagged! I look forward to reading your High-5's.


Wordless Wednesday - Stylish AND Comfortable!


29 December 2009

The Noughties

So the noughties are nearly at an end. It's time to reflect on a decade.

As you can see from the graph (once an accountant, always an accountant!) the noughties have been a decade of change for me.

It's interesting to me that now I've plotted love and career it would seem that they are mutually exclusive! I hadn't noticed that before.

In 2000 I turned 30, travelled to Australia and New Zealand (for my very late gap year) and got a tattoo.

When I got back I had an average boyfriend and a horrible job and then no job at all. In 2003 I finally got a lovely job.

In 2005 I went out with an awful man, but my career really took off. I was instrumental in the sale of my company, it was an exciting time.

In 2006 I met Andy and my career suddenly became less important, especially when I became pregnant. I now have no paid career, but a wonderful husband and two amazing children.

If you had asked me in 2000 where I wanted to be in 2009 I don't think I would have dared hope for what I have now.

So what about the next decade?

What will it be called? I've heard people say 'tenties', but I prefer 'teenies'. I suppose time will tell.

For me, I hope to enjoy being a wife and a mum and raise happy and healthy boys. All the rest is gravy!


28 December 2009

Stir Crazy

I've been practically housebound for over a week.

We've been snowed in or iced in for eight long days.

I hadn't realised how much I need to be outdoors. I usually take the boys out for a walk most week days. We need that fresh air, we need activity. Even if all we do is walk to the local shop for a loaf of bread I feel better for it. The boys get a change of scenery and they may even get to woof at a passing dog or point at a bus.

This week has been different. Apart from a treacherous drive to the in-laws on Christmas Day, I haven't left the house. I was going stir crazy being stuck indoors.

On Boxing Day the snow had started to thaw, but before it had chance to melt away night fell and it froze. As I've explained before, we live at the end of a lane, at the end of a cul-de-sac, at the end of an estate, ON A HILL! Andy popped out yesterday and the paths and roads may as well have been a skating rink. He's pretty steady on his feet, but couldn't keep upright.

Yes, snow is pretty. I get a whoosh of excitement whenever I open the curtains in the morning and see that it has snowed. Snow is fun - until you need to drive anywhere.

Andy made this sinister looking snowman:

Also, Presley played in the snow for the first time:

He loved it, but came in screaming when his hands went numb! Poor little fella. I had to cuddle him until he had warmed up. It didn't stop him going out the next day though.

Poor Cash had to stay indoors as he doesn't have a snow suit and stills crawls quite a bit. I stood at the window with him watching his Dad have a rather one-sided snowball fight with his big brother!

I satisfied some of my need for connection with the outside world by shopping online yesterday. I trawled the sales at John Lewis, Debenhams and M&S. I managed to find a few bargains!

Today I had decided enough was enough. I was going to go out!

There is more snow forecast for tomorrow, so I had to take my chances today. Luckily the ice was patchy enough for the car to get a grip on the road.

I went to the Next sale and bought the boys two bags full of clothes and bits and pieces for £30.

Then I had lunch out. Sainsbury's Cafe, ham, egg and chips. I know. LIVING THE DREAM!!!

I jostled with everyone else who had decided to go shopping today. I was disappointed with the sale items, but you can't argue with £5 for a tin of Roses. It would have been rude to walk past the display and not re-stock our chocolate stash.

I then had the pleasure of sliding home and putting the shopping away.

I do feel better for going out, even if it was just food shopping!


26 December 2009

Christmas Day and the Best Present Ever!

After being pretty much snowed-in since Sunday we braved the elements to drive to Andy's parents' house for Christmas Day.

I really dislike driving in snow and ice. I'm terrified of having an accident. We live at the end of a lane, at the end of a cul-de-sac, at the end of an estate, ON A HILL, so it took a while before we reached the salted main roads. It was a similar story the other end at the in-laws. I was so relieved to finally get up their steep drive and into the house!

Huge thanks to Andy for spending most of the day going to and from the car with highchairs, travel cots, presents to give out and presents to take home!

I come from a small family where each present is opened in turn and recorded for the purpose of thank you cards. Andy's family is considerably larger. I love the happy hubbub, but I still can't get used to the frantic ripping of wrapping paper and the chaos of 12 adults and 7 children exchanging presents at the same time!

Presley soon got the hang of it.

So did Cash.

I struggled to keep track of who gave what to whom and I'm going to have to ring Andy's eldest sister to ask her what she bought Cash. I'm not even sure he opened it, we certainly didn't bring it home with us!

What we did bring home, and I'm amazed Andy got it in the car, was the best present ever.

Andy's brother is an upholsterer and he made the boys their very own child-sized two-seater sofa. We had no idea he was doing this and only saw its full glory when the boys unwrapped it (yes, it took a LOT of wrapping paper)!

Here it is:

The photograph doesn't do it justice, it is amazing and beautifully made. Zebra print doesn't exactly match the rest of our furnishings, but it certainly does stand out!

The boys love it and so do we.

Thanks Uncle P!


Andy's Mum catered brilliantly, there were 15 of us for lunch! Cash had his first taste of turkey, but Presley pushed his plate away without trying any. I think eating his own body weight in yoghurt coated blueberries had taken the edge off his appetite!

After lunch Cash had a nap and the rest of us sat and chatted. The little ones played on the new mini-sofa. There was a great deal of laughter and a few of us managed to force down a chocolate or two.

We left before it got dark. There was slightly less snow and ice on the journey home, but I was still shaking when we got in.

After tea we watched The Gruffalo (with the boys, sitting on their new sofa).

Once they had gone to bed Andy and I ate cheese and biscuits, watched Dr Who and Strictly Come Dancing, made a couple of phone-calls and went to bed early.

Christmas Day when you have children is pretty exhausting, especially when you've been up since 6.30, but I wouldn't change it for the world!


18 December 2009

Last Post (Before Christmas)!

Baby Baby is having a mini-break. Unfortunately not in a spa hotel.


Andy has finished work now for the year, so we'll be spending some quality time together as a family in the run up to the Big Day. I expect some of that quality time will be spent scoffing in front of the television, but hey, it's Christmas!

I'm running the Sainsbury's gauntlet tomorrow. I know, it's not going to be pleasant! I need one more edible present and then we've finished our Christmas shopping.

I'm hoping we don't get any more snow. Yesterday's light dusting was enough for me. I hate driving in snow and ice.


In case you haven't sent your Christmas cards yet, why not send an e-card?

I had an email telling me all about this free service:

Tesco Greener Living have recently launched a Christmas eCard on their site which benefits everyone.

  • First of all, for every card you send, Tesco donate 5p to the Woodland Trust with the aim of raising £5,000 which will plant around 300 trees
  • In these frugal times, using this site can save you money as you don’t have to buy cards and stamps (although you may well have already done your Christmas card list).
  • As a parent, I know that spare time is a luxury so with the eCards, you can save time as you can do it from your desk (I find typing so much quicker than writing, plus my writing is a mess).
  • Importantly, you don’t need to rely on Royal Mail and with there being ten days before Christmas, time is of the essence.
  • The only cost to you is a few clicks of the mouse and taps on the keyboard – nothing else – even your email address isn’t used or more importantly stored.
  • Finally, you are able to do that little bit extra for the environment as you won’t be using card and envelopes so not wasting paper.
Sounds good to me!

So please click on this link for my Christmas card to you my lovely readers and you can click here to send your own.

Happy Holidays to you and your families x


17 December 2009

Finally Feeling Festive

I finally made the effort to decorate the house and I'm pretty pleased with it.

We only have a small tree on the mantel piece - out of reach of Presley and Cash! The first thing the boys say each morning is 'lights' and the fairy lights are switched on.

They were both a lot better yesterday so we took them to the Playgroup Christmas party. They saw Father Christmas for the first time and there were no tears. Presley even went up on his own (to get his present)!

I've written and posted my cards and have just about finished my Christmas shopping. Just the wrapping to do now.

Fancy a nosy at my decorations? Here they are:

Presley made the angel at Playgroup!

I've made up a slogan:

Be very nosy at Violet Posy!

Loads of bloggers have added their Christmas decoration photographs to the Violet Posy Christmas Decoration Tour 2009. Take a look!


16 December 2009

Sprout Aid

Love them or loathe them, sprouts are as Christmassy as paper chains and twenty year old tinsel.

One man, 'lucky' Dave is holding a sponsored sprout eat.

Why is he doing this? It's for charity of course.

He is raising money for the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood who are raising awareness for the Million Mums campaign. If you haven't signed up for Million Mums yet please do. It's free, takes next to no time to do, and it's not just for mums - anyone who cares about maternal health can sign up.

To sponsor Dave please visit his website Kamarama. He's also giving a burp by burp account on Twitter.

Apologies for the MASSIVE sprout photo. I mean I like sprouts, but this is ridiculous!!


15 December 2009

The Misery of Being 15 Months Old and Poorly

My poor miserable baby.

Cash isn't well. He's got a cough, a cold, a very sore throat and chapped lips. He's also teething - molars.

Any one of these things is enough to start him crying, but all of them together is utter misery.

It seems like every time he swallows it hurts. He cries. Crying hurts. He cries some more. You wipe his nose and accidentally brush his sore lips and he cries, this makes his throat hurt. He cries again, only louder. You get the picture.

His cry is hoarse. When he talks it's like he's phoning in sick and putting on his ill voice. You know the one I mean? It's the voice you use when you're a bit ill and fancy the day off sick, so you phone your boss and put on your ill voice. After managing malingerers for many years I can spot an ill voice from a mile off. You're not fooling anyone by the way.

We're using Dentinox, Calpol, Karvol and Vaseline to help Cash, but he's still miserable. The slightest thing sets him off. My head is ringing from the crying.

I feel so sorry for him. I've been up the last two nights with him as he's struggling to sleep. He's tired, but just as he's dropping off he swallows and we get another cycle of crying. My arms ache from rocking him. Fortunately his temperature is normal, so we can hopefully avoid the GP's surgery.

Presley just has a cough and a cold. He seems to be coping fine with it. Every five minutes he comes over and asks for a tissue.

Andy has a cold too, he's suffering with it. I'll say no more on the subject of man flu as he reads my blog.

I suppose I'll be next.

At least we'll get it out of the way before Christmas!


14 December 2009


There are a few things I'd like to share with you.

Firstly, my terrific Twitter mate Stevyn Colgan has a blog post that sums up how most bloggers feel about working for nothing. I laughed, a lot!


Secondly, the Best of the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival is up at Muddling Along Mummy. The lovely MAM kindly included one of my posts and there are plenty more posts to read and new blogs to discover.


There is an amazing Mega Mother and Baby Giveaway at My Funny Bunny. Check out the prizes - wow!


There is also a competition over at the Huggies Blog: Enjoy The Ride. I've been trying to fathom the clues today. It's a treasure hunt around parenting websites and blogs. The top prize is a trip to EuroDisney, but there are loads of smaller prizes too. I don't mind admitting that I'm hooked and looking forward to tomorrow's clue!


Finally, did I tell you that I went to a party at 10 Downing Street earlier this month? I think I may have mentioned it! There is now a video of the night, made by my new friend Gretel Truong for The White House Correspondent website - and I'm on the video!


Review: Leapfrog My Pal Scout

Christmas came early to the Baby Baby household this week.

The lovely people at Leapfrog asked if 15-month-old Cash would like to review a new cuddly green puppy named Scout. I accepted on his behalf, what a kind Mummy!

I've always regarded Leapfrog as a company dedicated to making educational toys. My Pal Scout is no exception. This cuddly doggy teaches:
- First words
- Daily routines
- Early number sense
- Feelings and emotions
- Animals

You will need an internet connection to personalise My Pal Scout. So there is a bit of setting up to do. I would recommend doing this while your child is asleep, otherwise they may become impatient and possibly a little upset at seeing their new toy wired up to Mummy's laptop!

We found the program easy to install and navigate. We customised My Pal Scout to include Cash's name, his favourite animal (squirrel), his favourite colour (he hasn't expressed a preference, so we chose green) and his favourite food. I'd love to say this was aubergine or avocado, but no, it's biscuits. We were also able to add up to five lullabies and five daytime tunes.

My Pal Scout is a lovely soft toy. You press his paws to choose either daytime songs, lullabies or chat. Most of the daytime songs include Cash's name and the chat is mostly geared around our customisation. An example is 'Hello Cash, can you guess what animal I'm pretending to be? Moo, moo..... that's right, I was pretending to be a cow'. He's not too noisy either, which is a criticism I usually have about electronic toys.

Cash is besotted. He has worked out how to press Scout's paws. Each time a song finishes he says 'more, more' and squeezes his paws. Scout is perfect cuddling size and it suitable for ages 6-36 months.

Two year old Presley loves Scout too and spent a good half an hour playing with him (when Cash was distracted). When Scout said he liked biscuits, Presley brought him a toy biscuit box and held it to Scout's mouth.

My Pal Scout is very reasonably priced at £20 and would make a great Christmas present.

My Pal Scout is still in stock at Boots and Early Learning Centre. You may also be able to find other stockists via the Leapfrog website.


13 December 2009

Fire Safety Advice

In my last post, Safe as Houses, I wrote about my home security fears.

In the comments, the lovely Liz from Living With Kids mentioned fire safety. I had forgotten to mention in my post my escape plans in the event of a fire, but I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about them.

When we moved into this house I arranged a visit from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LF&RS). A dashing fireman came round and did a FREE fire safety inspection.

This is what the LF&RS provides:
  • We will provide and install FREE 10-year smoke alarms where necessary.
  • Give life saving advice in the event of a fire in your home.
  • How to make a fire escape plan for you and your family.
  • Practical advice on identifying fire hazards in the home.
What a fantastic service! I would hope that this is available around the UK and elsewhere.

I thought it would be useful to pass on some tips that we were given, there are more in the booklet we were given, but these are the ones I can remember off the top of my head.
  • Check your smoke alarm weekly.
  • Don't leave washing machines or tumble dryer running when you go out, they are the cause of a great many house fires.
  • Keep internal doors closed at night and when you are out.
  • Keep lighters and matches hidden/locked away.
  • Be careful where you place candles and make sure they are extinguished before you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Only tackle a fire if you are certain you know what you are doing. It's better to phone 999 than risk hurting yourself or making the fire worse.
  • Know your exit routes.
  • Keep exit routes clear.
  • Keep keys by doors and windows so that you can find them in the dark/in smoke.
  • When heading for the door keep low.
  • A damp towel will provide some relief from smoke inhalation.
  • Do not take a detour to save things - things can be replaced - get you and your children out and stay out.
Clearly these are mostly common sense, but we all need reminding from time to time!

If you have any more please add them in the comments so we can all share.


11 December 2009

Safe as Houses?

I have a few 'worst fears'. One of them is being attacked in my own home. This fear has intensified since I had children.

If someone broke in during the night and I was alone what would I do? Which child would I grab first? Where could we hide? What if the one of the boys cried?

Yep, unfortunately I don't tend to daydream about fluffy kittens and hot sandy beaches. My day dreams are usually tortured. I annoy myself with it.

When I watched the first episode of 'Survivors', the series where 99% of the population is wiped out by a virus and all infrastructure vanishes, I spent most of the night wide awake. I planned what I would need to loot from the shops to ensure my boys could survive (water, batteries, long-life milk, tinned food, tin openers, first aid supplies, the entire Milton range, petrol in cans, gas stoves, candles, matches, clothes, blankets, biscuits). The last item was for me - it would be a stressful time!

Now I've written this down I feel like a bit of an idiot.

That said, I still worry about nightmare scenarios. Andy has only stayed away overnight once this year. This week he went to London for his work Christmas party. I had the responsibility of looking after my children on my own.

I'm happy with my own company, I'm never bored (for a start my Google Reader is never empty!), but I hate being in the house on my own. Andy also works from home so there is usually someone here. So it was really quiet here on Tuesday/Wednesday.

My mind wandered to what I would do if one of the boys had an accident and we had to go to hospital. Luckily when Presley bashed his face on the sideboard and later kicked Cash in the head there was no harm done.

I take my hat off to single parents, what a responsibility you have.

I didn't sleep well on Tuesday night, more terrible thoughts of violent masked men, but otherwise we had a quiet night.

I had been thinking to myself that I'd been worrying over nothing, that crimes like these are the stuff of movies, but then I heard what happened to our friend S on Tuesday night.

Two masked men broke into her flat, while she was alone in her bed, and beat her up. They had been (unreliably) informed that there were drugs in her flat. Once they realised their mistake they apologised and left.

S found their apology rather surreal. She had to go to A&E. She has a black eye and bruising. She is now terrified of sleeping in her flat alone - and who can blame her?

What an awful thing to happen. Shocking.

We've since had our burglar alarm serviced and we're much more security minded. The best we can do is not make it easy for criminals to break in. We don't keep valuables on display. Our ladders are safely locked in the garage, along with our car. Our car keys are out of sight overnight, as is my handbag. We don't deal with cold callers on the doorstep. We're a member of Neighbourhood Watch.

Sorry neighbours, but I'd rather the criminals took one look at our little fortress and went next door.

As they say on Crimewatch: Don't have nightmares.


9 December 2009

Do they know it's Christmas?


I'm not feeling very Christmassy.

Perhaps I should get the decorations down from the loft, write my Christmas cards and do my Christmas shopping.

I should do something Christmassy, but I've gone off chocolate and I hate sherry!

We've decided not to put up our Christmas tree this year. Presley and Cash are only just two and one. For a start they're too young to know what Christmas is. Also I can't face the inevitable decoration tugging/eating/hiding that's bound to take place on an hourly basis.

We decided to go to town and decorate the mantel piece, but it's already got a few randomly placed Christmas cards on it so I've lost enthusiasm for the idea.

I took the boys to their first Christmas party today. Thank you Lancashire County Council Libraries and Information Service for opening our small local library especially for the Bounce and Rhyme group today. We sang our usual songs and a few Christmas songs too, but a quick rendition of Jingle Bells does not a Christmassy Sandy make!

The librarians had arranged party games and food. All the children were given a teddy bear, Presley handed them out to all the babies, he was so sweet and gentle with them - why can't he always be like that with his brother?! Presley also won a badge for being second best at 'musical bumps'. He was winning 'pin the nose on the reindeer', but was pipped at the post by an older boy. His first taste of how life isn't fair!

All the children were given a book as a Christmas present too. What a lovely thing for the library to do. Presley knew that he had been given a present and asked if he could unwrap it. I had to say yes as we've no tree to put it under. Perhaps he does get Christmas after all.

Right, that's enough bah humbug from me. Where's my Christmas CD? It's at times like this I need Boney M to put me on the right path.

Ho ho ho & that!


Wordless Wednesday - Winter is here


8 December 2009

Beep Beep!

Do you know what gets my goat?

Bad driving, that's what.

I get so disillusioned with the human race when I'm driving.

I try to drive carefully and follow the highway code and speed limits. I got caught speeding once. It was 1994 and I was driving down a steep hill. I was doing 43mph in a 30 limit. Hardly Stirling Moss, but the £60 fine and the 3 points on my license were enough to make me pay attention to the speed limit ever since.

Most of the time I've got my precious boys in the car, so any downright dangerous driving frightens me.

I'm a confident driver. I passed my test, first time, at the age of 17. I've pretty much had a car ever since. I've driven abroad and am as comfortable in big cities as I am on motorways. I have driven all around London, so I've learned to drive defensively.

Even in sunny Lancashire we have our fair share of idiots who, in my opinion, shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of a wheelbarrow, let alone a car or van. I must shake my head at other drivers every time I go out.

Are people rude and obnoxious before they get behind the wheel? Or do they transform when they put on their metal cloak?

I'm so sick of drivers jostling for position, cutting me up and pushing in. This behaviour wouldn't be tolerated in the supermarket queue, so why does it happen on the roads?

The lack of courtesy to pedestrians, cyclists and other road users astounds me. People don't indicate. They don't move over in narrow roads or where there are parked cars. They can't wait for a second at changing traffic lights without honking their horns.

Get out of my way. Beep beep. I'm more important than you. BEEP BEEP!

This post was written as part of the Sleep is for the weak writing workshop.

This week I chose writing prompt 5 - Have a good rant. Go on! You know you want to...

Thanks for that, I feel better now :-)


7 December 2009

Are we friends?

Look at these smiling faces. This is a photograph from the recent British Mummy Bloggers meet up at London Zoo.

I would have said that these were my friends. We have been reading each other's blogs for a while. We've left comments and built up an online relationship. I met and chatted to almost all of the thirty bloggers who attended. There was a friendly, excited atmosphere. I had a fabulous time.

Then I read Circle of Trust by the fabulous Josie at Sleep is for the weak. I also read the fifty comments - that took a while! I was going to comment myself, but my comment turned into this post.

Josie poses the question should we trust our online friends?

I initially thought, when I read Josie's post, that perhaps I am naive and far too trusting. I take everyone at face value. It hadn't crossed my mind that any of my online friends may not be who they claim to be.

I have loved making new friends on Twitter and via blogging, I hope these friendships are 'real'. I have found it so easy to make new friends this way, much easier than at Playgroup.

In my experience the people I have chosen to meet in real life have been just as wonderful as their online persona, especially the fabulous Kim.

I've been to two BMB meet-ups now, at London Zoo and at MOSI, and out of the forty or so people that I have met I would say only one was different to her online persona (she was so much nicer in real life)! I also met Josie at MOSI and I can tell you that she is as genuine and lovely offline as she is online.

Did I mention that I went to Downing Street last week? Just in case you were locked in a wardrobe or something, here is my post. This was another example of the power of social media. I met a few people there that I had only spoken to previously online. They're great people.

I guess you have to exercise the same judgement that you would in real life.

Having said all of the above, I have had one bad experience. I have hinted at it here and here. I met my ex online and he turned out to be a big fat hairy liar. Lying was one of his more likeable personality traits.

Amazing really that I tried internet dating again. The second time I tried it I met Andy, my husband. I will have to write about our eight hour first date at some point! Absolute proof that not everyone you meet online is a weirdo!

So, are we friends?

Photo credit: A Modern Mother


6 December 2009

The Downing Tweet Christmas Party

Yes, that really is me standing outside Number 10 Downing Street!

I had the absolute honour of being invited by Sarah Brown (yes, that Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister's wife) to the Downing Tweet Christmas Party in aid of the Million Mums campaign.

I'm not entirely sure why Sarah invited me, although we have been following each other on Twitter since we both joined up around the same time earlier this year. Can I let you into a little secret? When Sarah followed me and told me about her Million Mums campaign *whispers* I didn't realise who she was. I didn't realise she was that Sarah Brown. Of course I soon worked it out. Ahem.

When the invitation arrived my boys, Presley and Cash, learned a new phase: "NO WAY" we all shouted for at least ten minutes!

Fast forward ten days and I have bought or arranged: train tickets, a hotel reservation, Baby Baby business cards, a dress, underwear, jewellery, make-up, a hair appointment and a sparkly new bag.

On the day all my travel arrangements fell into place. I even had time to have a quick drink with some fellow party goers before hailing a taxi and having the sheer delight of being able to say to the driver 'Downing Street please'.

Is this picture (courtesy of Mums The Boss) are: me, Sam from @MumsTheBoss, @ConfidentLadies, @nurseju_, @cocabeenslinky, @only1lucylocket and Helen from @MumsTheBoss

My excitement grew as we cleared security and approached probably the most famous address in the country. The Downing Street sign had been changed to Downing Tweet for the night. We then walked through the famous black front door.

Number 10 is ENORMOUS inside. It is a beautiful house. We climbed the stairs and looked in awe at the photographs of former Prime Ministers. At this point I got completely over-excited and had to calm down!

We entered the rooms the party was being held in and made our way to the bar (of course). The wonderful thing about this party was that there was no VIP section, we had all been invited as individuals and it was clear that everyone was delighted to be there. For most of us it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I chatted to so many amazing people. Some were existing Twitter friends, like @HelpSaveBees, others are Twitter friends now. I met many people from the White Ribbon Alliance and other charities. I met Downing Street advisers and events staff. I met journalists. I met some wonderful people. I also met a few people you may have heard of.

I bumped into Beverley Knight, who is beautiful and as friendly in real life as she is on Twitter. She was getting ready to sing and was worried the 200 guests wouldn't be able to hear her without a microphone.

Sam and Helen, from Mum's The Boss, and I got our temporary 'mum' tattoos. We got them on our arms. I notice that Caitlin Moran had one on her chest area! Krishnan Guru-Murthy had one on his face. Despite several washes my tattoo is still there in all its glory. I hope he managed to get his off before he next reads the news!

Here I am with the lovely Sam from Mum's The Boss. This is one of the official photographs from Sarah Brown's Flickr account.

I met the fabulous Gigi from MumsRock. She introduced me to former colleague Richard Bacon. I then met the very sweet Emma Freud and Kirstie Allsopp. Kirstie was lovely to talk to, so down to earth and sooo pretty. She introduced me to the very funny India Knight. We then were lucky enough to stand in the front row for Beverley Knight's knockout performance. No microphone, just an AMAZING voice.

@Beverleyknight was spectacular last night at #downingtweet  on Twitpic

Then came the highlight of a truly magical evening. Sam, Helen and I were lucky enough to be introduced to The Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

When Gigi later asked me what we talked about I couldn't remember - much to her amusement. I think a combination of the excitement and too much fizzy wine turned the whole experience into a bit of a blur. Sam and Helen reminded me that in our brief conversation he asked where we had travelled from and whether we were enjoying ourselves! Edit: I've also been reminded that we told him we'd arranged to stay in the same hotel via Twitter.

We then met the lady herself, Sarah Brown. She knew who I was! Thank you again for the invite @Sarahbrown10.

Here is Sarah's own account of the night.

There was just time for a good look round at the White Room and the glorious Dining Room before a quick trip to the ladies. Well it would have been rude not to!

Other famous guests, that I didn't speak to, were Claudia Winkleman, Peter Serafinowicz, Brian Friedman and Dr Christian Jessen. I'm gutted I missed Claudia, but all in all I did pretty well on the celeb-meeting front!

Sam, Helen and I eventually headed back to our hotel, took off our shoes, had a nightcap and went on Twitter!


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3 December 2009

Not a lot of people know that...

I'm honoured. Huge, enormous, massive thanks for this award goes to:

If you haven't read their blogs yet, I can highly recommend them.

The rules, and these have been applied rather loosely I have to say, are:
  • Thank the blogger who gave you the award
  • List 10 things about you that your readers may not know
  • Pass the award on

I like the twist that the very clever Angela has added and I will follow her lead and tell you 10 things about me, but one will be a lie!!

  1. My left eye has been twitching since I was ill last week. That's seven days now. I'm bored of it.
  2. I could live on carrots and red pepper humous.
  3. I have gone off chocolate.
  4. I'm a bit scared of horses. I think Jerry Seinfeld was spot on when he described them as 'glassy-eyed, jittery beasts'.
  5. I think I'm a rubbish mum most of the time.
  6. I collect Russian dolls.
  7. I can recite the alphabet as fast backwards as I can forwards.
  8. I once went out with a man old enough to be my father.
  9. I never eat the biscuit base on a cheesecake.
  10. I love the smell of fireworks.

See if you can guess which is the lie.

I'm going to pass this award on to... anyone that fancies it. I know, what a complete cop out. I'm sorry *gets out violin* but time is not on my side at the moment.


    Thanks to Rebel Mother at Another Day in the Madhouse, one of my favourite bloggers, for this lovely award x


    Check It Out!

    I've got so much to tell you...

    I'll start with the promised update on the
    Auction for the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund.

    The organisers have been unable to set up a raffle in the time available,
    instead all donated items have been added to the auction.
    The auction closes at 6pm on Sunday 6th December,
    so there's plenty of time to make a bid and grab a bargain!


    The lovely Pippa from A Mother's Ramblings is hosting, and
    a fine job she's done too. Huge thanks to her for including one of
    my posts even though I missed the deadline!


    I have been writing a series of Blogger Basics lessons over at
    New Mummy's Tips. The latest lesson is adding video.

    There is also a comprehensive FREE blogging E-course generously written by
    Erica at LittleMummy. It's not too late to make a start.
    On this course you will find out everything you need to know about blogging.
    It is suitable for complete beginners, old hands may also learn a thing or two.


    Have you done all your Christmas shopping yet?

    The Great Toy Guide team have been busy reviewing 100 toys under £10.

    Presley personally tested the brilliant My First Lacing Tools and the Bambini beads

    There is also an amazing competition. Check out the prizes:

    What are you still doing here?! :-)


    2 December 2009

    A letter to my 16-year-old self

    Dear Sandy,

    This is a difficult letter to write because I know you so well. You think you know it all and you may not like what I want to tell you.

    You are worth so much more than you think.

    You are intelligent, caring and loyal, but you are too trusting. Not everyone is as open and honest as you are. People can be manipulative, jealous, thoughtless, heartless and cruel.

    Stay away from toxic friends. You know who they are really. They have been dragging you down to their level since you met them at Middle School. You got stuck with them and they are not nice girls. They lie, steal and do not value your friendship.

    You will finally cut all ties with them when you are 30, but that means 21 years of bullying, abuse and tears. I wish you had the strength of character to ditch them at age 16, but you are easily led.

    You always refer to yourself as lazy, but you are not. You are ambitious, but something holds you back. You will eventually become successful in your career, but you could have achieved more earlier. You must enjoy your work, if you do not it is time to move on.

    Men. What can I tell you about men? A lot of them really are only after one thing. You are incapable of having 'no strings' relationships. You care too much about the men you let into your heart and your bedroom. If you meet someone in the pub, when you and they are drunk, this is not going to be the start of a healthy relationship.

    If you are seeing a man who becomes aggressive for no reason on an early date, do not move in with him and then stay with him for months because you think you'll never find someone else. You may be big, but you must never be so desperate for love that you ignore your instincts and allow someone to bully you and turn you into a quivering wreck. When someone tells you that you are a crazy bitch you should leave them, not believe them.

    Luckily you will know when you find true love and you will hang on to it and cherish it.

    Finally, if you can, try to stay away from the biscuits!

    I love you.

    This post was inspired by one of the writing prompts at the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop.

    This week I loved all of the writing prompts, for me they're the best selection yet.

    I chose prompt no.1 Write a letter to your 16-year-old self.

    If I had the time I would have loved to write a post for each prompt. In fact, I may just do that anyway, just not today!

    If you haven't been over to the writing workshop I can highly recommend it.


    1 December 2009

    Fundraising Auction for Cumbria Flood Victims

    Have you ever tried to imagine what it must be like to watch, helplessly, as your house floods? You may not even be able to see the water seeping in. At night there would be no power, no light. What if you were away from home and unable to move your photograph albums from floor level?

    What would it be like when you eventually returned to your house after evacuation? What would your home smell like? What if you had small children, a baby? What would you do? Where would you stay?

    The floods in Cumbria last month have left 900 families homeless. Among them are young families, the elderly, those with disabilities. There is a way we can help them.

    The amazing Kat from Housewife Confidential has set up an online charity auction in aid of the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund.

    The auction is being hosted by the fabulous Natalie at Bambino Goodies.

    Both Kat and Natalie have young families, but have been so generous with their time and effort to put this auction together.

    Many bloggers have donated auction lots, or used their contacts to ask for help. There are too many to mention here.

    You can read all about the stunning auction lots

    or go straight to the bidding page.

    The auction closes at 6pm on Sunday 6th December.

    There will also be an online raffle launched later in the week, so if none of the auction lots appeal - or are out of your price range - don't panic. You can still make a donation and make a difference.

    Watch this space!

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