30 April 2010

New Shoes

This is a sponsored post.

It will soon be time for Presley and Cash to get some new shoes. Buying shoes for children isn't quite as exciting as buying shoes for us mummies, but it's still shoe shopping! I love the tiny boxes their shoes come in too.

The main concern we all have with buying children's shoes is making sure they fit properly. In the past I've tended to get my boys' feet measured in a shoe shop and then bought shoes from the same shop, but not any more. We buy so much online these days that it makes sense to buy shoes online too.

The clever people at Start-rite have devised a way to foot measure at home. Their excellent YouTube channel gives fitting advice and this, how to use the shoe gauge.

Once you have your shoe gauge you can check your children's feet without dragging them to the shoe shop. You can then choose from the massive range of shoes at Start-rite.

I've got my eye on these for Presley:

He has narrow feet and these are adjustable so I have no concerns about ordering them online.

They're only £19 too, bargain!

If you get the slightest hint that their feet have grown all you have to do is get out your shoe gauge and start measuring. It's such a simple idea!

I love these too:

Shh, don't tell anyone but they're only £16 in the sale and I want a pair for Cash!

See, it's still shopping :-)

28 April 2010

I Know why Babies Cost So Much

I know why babies cost so much. I do. I've worked out exactly why each child costs you £100,000 by the time they reach sweet sixteen.*

Glider chairs.

Yes, glider chairs and matching glider stools.


This item of 'nursery furniture' is listed in all the baby books as a baby essential.

Before Children I'd never heard of a glider chair. When I was pregnant with Presley I dutifully wrote one on my list of things we need for the baby.

It must be a symptom of 'baby brain'. I didn't question the price or the practicalities of glider chairs and matching glider stools. I really thought they were an essential purchase.

So we ordered the best chair and stool we could afford. They arrived. Andy unpacked them and put them together. Woo. We had our glider items. 

We were renting a flat at the time and planning to move when the bump-that-became-Presley was a few months old. We didn't have a nursery - couldn't have a nursery - so our glider items sat in the middle of the lounge. In front of the tumble dryer and fridge-freezer, but that's another story.

I stopped sharing the sofa with my husband and started sitting, regally, on my new throne (when I wasn't bouncing on my birthing ball, you know, the big blue thing that stays in the car when you go into hospital in agony labour). The chair wasn't that comfortable so I propped myself up with a v-pillow and a normal pillow, just to correct my posture. I didn't slouch throughout the entire pregnancy lest my baby go back-to-back. It worked.

Once Presley arrived I persevered with my glider items. I struggled to breastfeed in the chair because the arms were in the way.

On the plus side, the pocket was handy for keeping my lip balm and nail file in.

On balance though I would have to say that glider items are a total waste of money.

All you need for a baby is love, a pair of strong arms, nappies, cotton wool, vests and babygros and muslin squares - plenty of muslin squares. Forget the explore garden gym, forget the all singing, all dancing, all swinging chair, forget the baby bath, the top and tail bowls and the drop-side cot - seriously you'll never drop the side. The only time the side dropped on Presley's cot was the time it fell on my foot. Bloody thing.

Hands up, who else has a glider chair gathering dust and clothes?

What else did you buy for your babies that was a complete waste of money? 

*I have no idea what it actually costs to bring up a child, but £100,000 is a figure that sounds plausible.

This post has been written for the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop. This week I chose prompt no.3 What gadget, object or invention do you find completely useless and impractical and think the world could do without.

27 April 2010

The Gallery: Portrait

The theme for the Sticky Fingers Gallery this week is portrait. I have taken a self-portrait. 

I am concerned that I've been showing a little too much of myself here on Baby Baby. I have described how I feel about the lives and deaths of my father and my brother. By writing about these deeply personal and private emotions I have exposed a large part of my heart and soul. 

I wonder whether this is a Good Thing. I feel slightly uncomfortable. Stripped bare.

There are bloggers, wonderful bloggers, that share much more with their readers and others, equally as wonderful, that share very little. Each of us has a line. Some days I wish I had the confidence to move my line forwards. Other days, like today, I'm quite happy to hide part of myself. 

Behind my hands.

Where do you draw the line?



26 April 2010


I have been tagged by three lovely bloggers, Chic Mama, Tiddlyompompom and Beth at My Good Life, with the Happy 101 meme.

After my last post I definitely wanted to write about something positive and upbeat. I love to be happy and to laugh so this seemed a perfect way to count my blessings.

The rules:
List ten things that make you happy, then pass the award on to ten other bloggers.

Ten things that make me happy:

1) Nap time - although Presley has pretty much dropped his daytime nap, there are still days - like today - when I get some 'me' time. I take it when I can these days!

2) Friends - there is nothing like spending time with a good friend, someone who knows you inside out and never judges you. You can see each other every day and never run out of things to say or you can see each other once a year and simply pick up where you left off. A good friend will be honest with you but will always consider your feelings. 

3) Shopping - Before Children I went shopping a lot. I bought clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, make-up etc. Nowadays I buy children's clothes and shoes and rarely anything for myself. On Saturday I went to the Trafford Centre with my best friend. We spent the day shopping, just the two of us. Heaven!

4) My new maxi dress - I normally live in jeans and linen trousers, but this caught my eye in Debenhams on Saturday: 

It makes me happy because it's colourful, it fits, it didn't break the bank and I found a cardigan to go with it.

5) Christopher Guest films - Spinal Tap (obviously), Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind are all hilarious and make me laugh out loud every time I see them.

6) Eating - I'll never be skinny, I like food too much. After working my way through the menu of our favourite Indian takeaway I finally found my favourite curry, a chicken tikka Afghani special. This made me happy.

7) Kisses and cuddles - especially from Andy, Presley and Cash. 'Nuff said.

8) Writing - more than twenty years after leaving school I've picked up a pen again and started writing. I'm enjoying it. Who knows, I may even be quite good at it? I always maintained I wasn't creative, I'm revising my opinion right about now!

9) Blogging - or more specifically, bloggers. I love the fact that I've found a group of online friends, some of whom have become real life friends, that are easy to get on with. We have so much in common. Although blogging is 'only' a hobby I get so much out of it. I'm over-excited about going to Cybermummy and am looking forward to putting even more faces to headers!

10) Booths' Tea Room - for those not familiar with Booths, it is a wonderful local supermarket. Our nearest Booths has a tea room. I take the boys once a week or once a fortnight. I like the fact that they give you a number to put on your table when you order, they then bring your food and drinks over to your table. This is perfect if you have two toddlers with you. Other tea rooms please take note, it is impossible to carry a tray of hot drinks and push a pushchair at the same time. The boys and I share four slices doorsteps of toast and butter (79p). They have the middle and I have the crusts. I have three cups of tea from a proper teapot (99p) and then pour the remaining milk into my cup so the boys can have a 'milky tea'. How civilised!

So there we go, ten things that make me happy.

I'm going to tag:
Muddling Along Mummy
Yummy Mummy No1
Christine at Thinly Spread
Susie at New Day New Lesson (just to see if she can think of even more happy things)!

If you would also like to have a go at this one, please let me know and I'll add you to the list.

22 April 2010

I Want to Believe

When did you leave us?

Was it sometime in the night when you were struggling to breathe? Was it when the kindly GP gave you something to make you more comfortable? Were you unconscious? Did you hear Dad phone me and say ‘You’d better get over here, Sandra, he’s not going to survive’? How did that make you feel? Did you hear us telling you ‘we’re here’? Did you hear us telling how well you were doing, trying to keep our voices steady and bright? Could you feel our tears splashing on your hands as we held them in ours?

I didn’t say goodbye.

We’d exchanged our usual farewells the night before.We didn’t know this would be the last time we spoke to each other. I suspect this wouldn’t have made any difference to what was said. You said ‘thanks for coming’. No matter how much you tried you couldn’t make it sound sincere, although it was. It was the same when you received gifts. You always said ‘thanks’ but it was a family joke that we said you didn’t mean it, that you never liked anything you were given and would rather have had the money. You liked the football slippers I gave you though, I’m sure you did.

So I’d said ‘thanks for being such a hospital’, our Two Ronnies-style take on the word hospitable. We both said ‘see you later’.

What happens when you die?

Your neck pulsed.

And then it didn’t.

Did your spirit float up at that moment and look down on us? Dad looking at the clock, recording the time of death, tutting and saying ‘what a waste’. Mum wailing. Me sitting, still holding your dead hand. We made you more comfortable by laying you on the sofa. We covered you with a sheet, not over your face though. You looked asleep. I combed your hair. We had a cup of tea.

I tried to find you.

I desperately wanted to know you were okay. I wanted you to haunt me. I didn’t want you to leave me. I saw spiritualists, mediums and clairvoyants. All came highly recommended. You didn’t appear to any of them, although they said you did (after I had mentioned you). In my head I knew they were charlatans, taking money from the bereaved, exploiting my grief to buy more candles and angel figurines. In my heart I kept an open mind. I wanted to believe in ghosts. I wanted to hear that one word that would prove you were there.

I wanted to hear you call me by my nickname, the one you had used since we were children. The one that no one else knew about. The one you used when you wanted me to get you something or when you were beating me at Yahtzee. I still can’t play Yahtzee without crying.

Each time I tried to find you you seemed further and further away. All the time I was searching I was curling further and further into myself. I was shutting down emotionally.

I cried silently each night, feeling trapped. Not wanting to rob Mum and Dad of their last surviving child, but so much wanting to be with you. To look after you as I had always done. No one was looking after me.

One afternoon I sat at my desk, taking the first bite of an enormous cream cake. This would stuff down my feelings for a few minutes. My secretary came in. She was a friend, although I had pushed her away with the others over the past year.

She said, kindly and gently, that the cream cake wasn’t going to help. She took it out of my hand and replaced it with the Yellow Pages. It was bookmarked with a pink post-it note. I opened it to find the page for bereavement councellors. I nodded thanks, wiped my fingers and dialed.

Several months later and many stones lighter I was still grieving, but I had started to say goodbye to you. I stopped looking for your ghost and kept you in my heart instead.

Photo credit

This post was written as part of the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. This week I was able to incorporate all of the writing prompts, these being:

1. Write about a nickname you have been given in your life, either an endearing one or perhaps a hurtful one that cut deep. How did that nickname come about? Who gave it to you? What feelings and memories does it conjure up?
2. Tell me about a time when you had a moment of realisation and knew that something HAD to change. Did you act on it straight away? Or did it take time?
3. Have you ever had a paranormal experience? Or has someone you know? How did you interpret what you experienced? If it was someone close to you, did you believe them?
4. Share some memories of a sibling or siblings. How does your relationship with them now differ from when you were kids? For those of you who have perhaps lost a sibling, what do you remember most vividly about them? What things or places remind you of them most?
5. Tell us about a random act of kindness, either one you performed or one you received.


21 April 2010

And the Winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a Save the Lullaby CD.

Here are the results from the Preston jury Random.org:

1 Slim Lens

2 Jumbly Mummy

3 Incey Wincey Mummy

4 Babies Who Brunch

5 Sophia

6 Miss Leslieanne

7 Foodie Mummy

8 Irish Mammy

9 Muddling Along Mummy

10 Tiddlyonpompom

11 Alice

12 Lauren Robson

13 Young Mummy

14 SusanKMann

15 MamaTalk

Congratulations to Jumbly Mummy from Mellow Mummy! Please email me your address and I'll post you your CD. sandycalico at ymail dot com.


The Gallery: Pride

I struggled with the seven deadly sins theme for the Sticky Fingers gallery this week.

Unfortunately I didn't have time to think about, or take a photograph of, all seven deadly sins.

One 'sin' that I've been thinking about a lot is pride. Is it really sinful to be proud? The British don't like to brag about their successes (clearly this is a sweeping generalisation). 

You see, something wonderful has happened and I want to take pride in it, but I'm worried that it will look like I'm bragging or being big-headed about it. Is anyone else interested? Does anyone else care? It's important to me though and I am proud, so I will share.

Earlier this year I received an email. This email was sent to anyone that had read at Word Soup, either as an invited performer or at one of the open mic slots. Word Soup is Preston's live literature night. I have been in the audience for almost all of the monthly performances and thoroughly enjoyed them. I even plucked up the courage to read in an open mic slot a couple of months ago. I read a 93 word piece of flash fiction in one breath. As I walked off stage I felt rather unwell!

We were asked to submit a piece of writing to be read at the first anniversary of Word Soup. This piece would also be included in a 'best of' book. I submitted the piece I wrote about my Dad, 'My Old Man'.

To my utter amazement and delight my piece was chosen. Last night I was on the bill for Word Soup. Here I am on the poster. Yes, I know it's not strictly a photograph, but it is a picture of sorts.

Initially I felt like a fraud, a chancer. I felt like I shouldn't be up there. People were going to pay to hear me (and others) speak. Holy Moly. 

After some soul-searching I decided that I had every right to be there. I had been invited. I rehearsed my reading so that I wouldn't cry as I read it. I practised reading slowly and breathing.

It paid off. I read last night, on a stage, into a microphone. People laughed in the appropriate places. At the end they applauded and wiped away tears. I was lucky to have Andy and my lovely writing group and writing course friends there to support me.

I was asked if I would like to read at another literature event. Next month the book will be launched - how exciting! 

I'm under no illusions that I am now a writer, or that I am special.


Yes, I am proud.



19 April 2010

Is this the end of the world as we know it?

I've seen the future...

...and its trousers are on upside down.

The world is revolving and I'm having trouble hanging on.

This is why:


I suppose I should count myself lucky that he has had an afternoon nap almost every day for two years and seven months.

But no more.

Can you tell, I'm almost in tears here?

I need to make some adjustments, not just in my daily routine, but also in my head.

I have to kiss goodbye to my me time. My ninety minutes of peace each afternoon. Bye bye blogging, ta ta Twitter, farewell Facebook and see you later secret chocolate scoffing.

No naps for Mummy either - not that I've ever had an afternoon nap, but now that option has been taken away I really want one. Ditto doing any housework in those ninety minutes!

I'm trying to look on the bright side. I can now have one-on-one time with Presley. We can do all of the things that are a bit advanced for Cash, such as painting, glueing, baking and counting coins - yes, Presley loves to play with money. He'll sit at the spare desk in Andy's office, move the mouse and tap away at the keyboard. He thinks he's working and asks for money so that he can buy bread and milk.

I knew the two boys having their afternoon naps together, at the same time, every day wouldn't last forever, but I hadn't realised how much I needed that daily break until it was gone.

My inbox is filling up with emails and my Google Reader is piling up with posts. I feel out of touch and out of the loop already. I'll still sneak online occasionally throughout the day and try to catch up in the evening.

It's not really the end of the world, but it's the end of a phase in Presley's life. My little boy is growing up.

15 April 2010

Save The Lullaby and a Giveaway

Do you know all of the words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Rock a Bye Baby? Or are you more likely to sing Lady Gaga or the theme from Friends to your little ones? Do you sing to your children at all?

I love singing anyway and have always found that I can calm (or distract) a complaining, grumpy or crying toddler by singing. We've had some strange looks in the supermarket! Music is important to me, although we rarely listen to it during the daytime. I find it competes with my noisy boys and loses. We sing together most days, mostly nursery rhymes, with the odd random tune thrown in - whatever is running around my mind that day.

I was delighted to hear that Sophie Barker (from the wonderful Zero 7) and producer KK (Eno, Dido, Bjork) have put together a campaign to save the lullaby. They have produced a delightful CD of 18 night-time songs.

Here is the track listing:
1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
2. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
3. Ride a Cock Horse
4. Lavender’s Blue
5. Frere Jacques
6. There was a Crooked Man
7. Sing a Song of Sixpence
8. Little Bo Peep
9. Baa Baa Black Sheep
10. Little Miss Muffet
11. Brahms Lullaby
12. Oranges And Lemons
13. Hush Little Baby
14. Rock a Bye Baby
15. Dream a Little Dream
16. The Owl and the Pussycat
17. Row Your Boat
18. Silent Night

I was sent a review copy of the CD. The second my CD player whirred into action the boys ran over. We settled on the sofa, snuggled together and listened to the beautiful, calming songs. They relaxed instantly. The CD is lovely and soothing. It gets the Baby Baby two thumbs up rating (I'll make a Baby Baby two thumbs up badge one day)!

If you're interested in the campaign to save the lullaby you can join the Facebook Group or buy the CD.

I was sent an extra CD to give away to one lucky Baby Baby reader. To enter the random draw, that will take place on Wednesday 21st April, please leave a 'pick me' comment on this post by midnight on Tuesday 20th April.

This draw is open to all.


14 April 2010

The Eight Hour First Date

Do you recognise this man?

Apparently it's Elvis. It's a Madame Tussauds waxwork. I find waxworks creepy. I don't know how the subject came up, but Andy and I discussed waxworks when we were internet flirting. He had been to the Country and Western Waxworks Museum and had sent me photographs. I had to guess who the waxworks were supposed to be. Their Elvis looked like Alan Partridge.

Andy and I had arranged our first date. We were going to Madame Tussauds. It seemed like a good idea at the time. As I stood on a packed train, trying to hold my breath for the entire journey to avoid breathing in the beer fumes of the men on their way to Highbury, I got a text.

Andy: "I'm leaning nonchalantly outside the Upper Crust". I smiled. The first of many that day. He was waiting at the station, he hadn't stood me up.

We had been chatting online and on the telephone for a little while before we arranged to meet. We knew we shared a sense of humour, but we didn't know that we would feel instantly comfortable in each other's company. After a short tube ride we were already friends.

There was an enormous queue for the freaky waxworks so we decided to grab a coffee instead. We then walked along random streets. We paused to browse in the memorabilia shop Elvisly Yours. If you believed in fate you would have taken this as a pretty huge sign that we were meant to be together. The first question Andy asked me online was 'Have you ever been to Graceland?'.

It was a beautiful Spring day. We walked around Regent's Park for most of the afternoon. We talked, non-stop. We told jokes, we discussed our families, we told each other some secrets, we discussed how ducks could hear as they appeared to have no ears. We had tea with lemon and lavender cake in the tearoom. We discussed my Eurovision Song Contest home scoring system. We photographed the crocuses. We smiled and we laughed.

As we walked around the lake Andy briefly and gently touched the small of my back. I went weak at the knees. I'd heard this expression before but had never experienced the sensation. Something was happening.

We sat in a hut and had our first kiss. It was soft and surprising. It made us grin. We walked away. My arm around Andy's waist and his around my shoulders. Did we look like lovers? We felt like we had a secret.

The temperature had cooled, we looked for a restaurant. We found a Pizza Express. We ordered the same pizza (another sign?), but different juices (maybe not). Still talking, talking, talking.

Eventually, reluctantly, we headed back to King's Cross. There was a train waiting for me. We kissed, like teenagers. I don't remember making any arrangements to call or meet again. By this point it went without saying. As my train pulled away from the station, eight hours after I arrived in London, I was beaming.

Photo credit

This post was written for the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. This week I chose prompt no.5 Recount the story of a meeting or a parting.


13 April 2010

The Gallery: Joy

My mum had all but given up hope of becoming a grandmother.

I am her last surviving child and at the age of 36 I was single. Then I met Andy. 

This photograph was taken when my mum first saw her grandson, Presley. I love the way you can see she is beaming, without even seeing her face. She desperately wants to touch the sleeping baby, but doesn't want to wake him, so she gently places her hand on his blanket. It is a tender moment that made me cry with joy.

This photograph was posted as part of the Sticky Fingers Gallery. This week's prompt is joy.


12 April 2010


I look at my two perfect boys. I can't believe they're mine. I mean, where did they come from? How did we create these two amazing, adorable little people?

Before I had children I could take them or leave them. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Now, of course I do.

Over the last few months Andy and I have been asking ourselves the question shall we have another baby?

I love tiny babies. My friend Amy is due to have her fifth baby next month, he's due on the same day as my sister in law's first baby. I'm sure I'll feel spectacularly broody when they arrive. There's no doubt that I'll cry when I hold those tiny snuffling bundles. I know I won't want to hand them back.

As lovely as new babies are, it's another child I want. In fact, I'd like more children. I'd quite like twins. Age just isn't on my side. You know how you set your own rules in life, such as always taking off your makeup, no matter how drunk tired you are? Well, one of my life rules was to not have a baby in my forties. Rules are made to be broken, they say, but maybe not in this case. I'm forty now and I don't want to push my luck.

So, is that it? Are we done?

It saddens me to say that yes, I think we are done. We'll stick with this winning hand, with our two darling sons.

I took Presley and Cash to visit Sally and Flea today. We walked to the park for a picnic. I left Cash in the buggy while we ate. Presley stuffed his face with sandwiches, pombears, grapes, yoghurt, Oreos and a smoothie. Anyone would have thought he hadn't eaten for a week! Cash was more restrained, but he had already hoovered up his own body weight in raisins at Sally's house (huge apologies for the mess on the rug).

Once we had finished eating I let the boys loose to run around. The park was gated and toddler-friendly, but I still needed eyes in the back of my head - and Sally's help - to keep up with Presley and Cash. Having two toddlers is hard work when I'm in the comfort of my own home, where I know they can't go anywhere. Out in public it was pretty tricky.

As I strapped Cash back in the buggy and fastened Presley's LittleLife backpack so that we could walk safely back to the car, it dawned on me that I wouldn't be able to cope with a baby as well. I'd struggle to leave the house.

I've got two hands, two arms, two knees and two children. I'm done.

9 April 2010

Girls Jewellery Competition

This is a sponsored post.

When I was asked if I would like to write about Molly Brown London girls jewellery my initial reaction was a sad 'but I've got boys'. Then I remembered our four nieces and my three God-daughters and had a look at this childrens jewellery site.

I've always loved jewellery. I remember fondly every piece of jewellery I was given as a girl. I had three amethysts (my birth stone) in silver ball cages on silver chains. I'm not sure why I had three of them, perhaps they were on special offer at Argos. I had silver crosses given to me the two times I was a bridesmaid. One of my most treasured possessions was a gold-plated heart necklace that my parents bought me on a day trip to Great Yarmouth. With hindsight it was quite a medallion, but I loved it. I still have it and am rather embarrassed about the 'engraving' on the back. "I love John Taylor IDST" would date the necklace to 1981. *whispers* it's still true!

I was always obsessed with charm bracelets, but never had one. I guess it's never too late to start one...

Molly Brown designer girls jewellery is perfect if you are looking for a special gift for a little girl (or even a big girl). I've got my eye on this three jelly bean necklace. You can even choose your combination of jelly beans:

I also love these new arrivals, Tinkerbelle necklaces and charms. Perfect as a Christening or Bridesmaid gift:

And finally, to satisfy the child in me, here is a Molly Brown charm bracelet:

Isn't it gorgeous? Here are a few more charms to go on it:

Molly Brown London are running a competition, in conjunction with the Good Web Guide, with a fantastic prize of a £250 to spend at Molly Brown London.

To enter click here. The closing date is 15th April. Good luck!

8 April 2010

25% Off at Nuby

The lovely people at Nuby asked me if I would like to review their products as part of the launch of their new UK online store. I'd heard of Nuby (there were previously co-branded with Tommee Tippee), but didn't know much about them. I do now and I can share it with you. Oh yes!

Nûby™ one of the world's leading baby and infant feeding brands owned by Luv n Care USA, is set to launch into the UK market.

The Nûby™ brand has been established in the UK for the last 8 years and has seen significant growth and success in cups, teethers and soothers. The new Nûby™ Natural Touch™ range was launched early 2009 and introduces an award winning innovative Silicone Bottle and Breast size teat to the UK, offering consumers a unique newborn BPA FREE feeding range. More innovative and exciting products are planned for launch in 2010 to build on the Nûby™ & Natural Touch brand success... so watch this space!

We strive for excellence in every product we make

At Nûby™ we strive towards making the lives of parents and children easy, simple and fun. The highest quality standards, global trends and continual product development help us bring parents everything they need for their baby’s development.
Our products are inspired by nature and offer the best, safest and most simple choices for you and your baby.

So that's the blurb, what about the products?

I chose these bowls to review:

They are a perfect size for a toddler. One side is higher than the other so they can hold the bowl with one hand and shovel food in with the other. They have a grippy bottom, so they're non-slip. The boys love them, although I can't vouch for them loving the contents (unless they are eating baked beans - always a winner). Best of all they go in the dishwasher! The bowls are £3.99 each, I think this is great value.

Nuby also sell breast pumps, bottles, dummies, teethers, cups and tablewear. You can buy online at www.Nuby-UK.com or from various stockists, including Boots, Mothercare, Tesco and Amazon.

If you would like to buy any of their products I have a 25% off voucher for you, lovely Baby Baby readers:


The Random Photograph Meme

I have been tagged by The Moiderer and Nickie from Typecast for the random photograph meme. Admittedly they tagged me ages ago, but better late than never!

Here are the rules:

1. open your first photo folder in your computer library.
2. scroll to the 10th photo
3. post the photo and the story behind it
4. tag 5 or more people to continue the thread

Here is my photograph:

This was taken in Spring or early Summer 2006 at Wrest Park in Silsoe, Bedfordshire.

Andy and I had not been together for long. I was living in Bedfordshire and he was in South London. From the day we met we spent every weekend together, usually alternating between our two locations. This was obviously a weekend in Bedfordshire. We liked to walk, arm in arm, and talk and take photographs.

I remember this day well, or did looking at all of my photographs from that day jog my memory? There was an impressive lake, a folly to explore and plenty of newly hatched chicks to look at - from a distance. We saw a swan carrying four cygnets on its back, so cute. I also remember it was warm and sunny and we had an ice-cream before we went home.

Happy days.

I'm going to break the rules, as usual. As I took so long to do this meme I won't tag anyone. If you would like to join in please let me know and I'll add you in.

The lovely Em tagged herself, you can see her gorgeous cat on her blog Diary of a Young Mum


7 April 2010

Competition, Cuddles and Rock and Roll

The MADs 2010 are blogging awards, celebrating the UK's best mummy and daddy blogs. MAD stands for Mummy And Daddy (in case you were wondering)! Since their launch last week there have been over 1,000 nominations! Wow.

There are awards for the following:
MAD Blogger of the Year
Most Innovative MAD Blog
Best MAD Family Fun Blog
Funniest MAD Blog
Best-Looking MAD Blog
Best MAD Baby Blogger
Best New MAD Blog
Most Inspirational MAD Blog
Best MAD Blog Photography
Best MAD Blog Writer

The five blogs with the most nominations in each category will go forward to the public vote. The MAD Blogger of the Year will be decided by a panel of judges.

When I first heard about the awards, and the prizes on offer, I thought 'that's great'. There are awards in all areas, why not blogging?

On the launch day, however, I felt uneasy. What if Baby Baby wasn't nominated? This was short-lived. Thankfully a couple of friends let me know that they had nominated me. Phew!

I haven't nominated yet as there are a few categories where I can not decide which blog to vote for. You can only nominate one blog in each category.

I've been delighted to see loads of my favourite bloggers being nominated, including many new blogs. The current list of nominees can be found on Who's The Mummy?.

Through Twitter and Facebook I have seen how happy people are to see their blogs nominated - I know I am. I've also been pleased to see congratulations flying about.

There are some bloggers who have openly criticised the awards, saying that they don't like competition. I can understand this. I know how I felt before I found out that I had been nominated. There can only be a few winners, this makes the rest of us losers. Or does it? 

Competition is part of life. Competition is apparently being removed from the curriculum in schools. When my boys are at school maybe I'll agree with this, but right now I can't see how it prepares them for real life. Surely children need to understand that they can't win at everything. They should be encouraged to excel where they can or improve where they can't - and to know the difference between the two.

I write a public blog. I am excited when I see that I have a new reader or when someone leaves a comment. I am honestly happy that some people like Baby Baby enough to nominate it/me. I'd love to win an award. There I've said it. There's nothing wrong with that, is there? I don't expect to make it to the public vote, but that's okay. Really. I am happy to be taking part. I certainly haven't got it in me to launch a Vote Baby Baby campaign. Imagine begging for nominations and not getting them. Oh the shame!

For more thoughts on competition please read these excellent posts from Baking Mad MamaSleep is for the Weak, Hot Cross Mum, Babyrambles and Battling On.

If you haven't nominated yet, but would like to do so, click here. Nominations close on 25th April.

For more examples of blogs to nominate check out the best of the British Mummy Bloggers carnival at The Mad House.


I was delighted to be asked to contribute a guest post for the new Cuddledry blog (remember them from Dragons Den?). Funnily enough the post I wrote is about child development NOT being a competition - a pet subject of mine. The editor of the blog, Jo, who also writes the excellent Slummy Single Mummy blog, gave my post the title 'Being a Parent - Some Words of Wisdom'. It amused me to be called wise!


Finally... I've finally added a new song to my Myspace. It's called 'I Want More' and it's a rock number! It's about people with no talent who think they deserve to be famous - another example of the anti-competitive trend? I hope you like it.


6 April 2010

The Gallery: How Not To Decorate

The photographic prompt for this week at the Sticky Fingers Gallery is ugly.

My first thought was to photograph my feet, but Tara specified a no feet clause on Twitter!

I had to think again. It didn't take me long to think of something ugly to photograph, all I had to do was to look around me.

You know how they tell you, on property programmes like Location Location Location, to look beyond the decor when you're buying a house? Yep, well, we did that. I've written about it before.

Unfortunately we moved in with a three month old baby and had another baby less than nine months later. Neither of us are what you would call keen DIYers, so basically, we haven't decorated. At all. Not even one room.

We're planning to put the house on the market soon. I hope any potential buyers will look beyond the decor.

Here it is, in all its hideous glory.

Disclaimer 1: if you have any of the following wallpaper, carpet, paint, coving, shelves, bathroom fittings or tiles, I'm sorry. They're just not to my taste!

Disclaimer 2: they may look like spiders' webs, but... oh who am I kidding. I spend all my spare time blogging, I dislike housework and I like spiders!


5 April 2010


The lovely Liz at Living With Kids has tagged me with her Infinite Playlist Meme.

The rules are to choose five songs that you can listen to over and over again.

Despite ten hours in the car this week (i.e. plenty of thinking time), I struggled to narrow my favourite songs into a top five. There are so many great tunes to choose from. I've done it though. These are my favourites as of today. Ask me again tomorrow and it could all change!

There is a theme to my infinite playlist. All of these songs can be sung along to at the top of your voice, especially in the car.

Here they are:

The Smiths - There is a Light That Never Goes Out
The Jam - The Bitterest Pill
Queen - Don't Stop Me Know
The Flaming Lips - Race for the Prize
Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman - Come What May (from Moulin Rouge)

What's on your infinite playlist?

I'm tagging the following five bloggers:

Sally at Who's The Mummy?
Carly at Wives and Daughters
Beth at My Good Life
Heather at Notes From Lapland
Nickie at Typecast

Photo credit

3 April 2010

Review: Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester

We were lucky enough to be given review tickets for the hottest new family attraction in Manchester, the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (LDC).

The LDC opened on 22nd March 2010 and judging by the queues it is staggeringly popular already. It's located in Barton Square at the Trafford Centre in Manchester.

We liked

The location. Ladies, it's at the North West shopping mecca that is the Trafford Centre!

The free parking.

Andy and I loved MINILAND where Northern landmarks had been recreated from LEGO. We could appreciate the skill involved. We wondered how much a professional LEGO builder was paid! The boys were fascinated by this area too, but were disappointed that they weren't allowed to touch any of the models.

The children loved the many areas where they could get their hands on some LEGO.

Here are Presley and Cash at the Earthquake Zone. The idea is you make a LEGO building and test it on the earthquake simulator.

We didn't like

The crowds and the queues. The LDC is a victim of its own success. We had trouble negotiating the main area with a double buggy. We couldn't even get to the DUPLO area. We also left the shop without buying the boys any new LEGO because the queue was too long.

The lack of signs. It wasn't made clear, for instance, that we could go straight into the main section. We queued for ages for the Kingdom Quest ride - that we had no intention of going on!

The map. I would have preferred a proper map, instead we were given a cartoon that was not representative of the LDC either in scale or layout.

There was little supervision of the activities. At the LEGO Racers Build and Test area wheels were in short supply.

Here is Presley holding on to a precious wheel!

I'm sure a lot of these issues are just teething problems that will be ironed out the longer the LDC is opened.


All the children we saw were clearly having a wonderful time. We overheard one little boy say to his mum that he was loving it.

Presley and Cash had a great time, even though a lot of the activities were for older children. We will go back, but only once the fuss has died down - if it ever does!

Facts and Figures

The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre,
Barton Square,
The Trafford Centre,
Manchester M17 8AS

Tickets are available on the door, but be prepared for queues:
Adults - £11.85
Children - £ 9.80
Age 2 and under - FREE

There are many other ticket options. You can book online and save 15%. This is recommended and the only way to guarantee entry, especially over the Easter holidays.

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