30 March 2011

Mother's Day Came Early

This morning Presley was at pre-school and Cash was playing quietly with his brother's toys. I was trying to notify service providers of our impending house move. I found myself getting increasingly frustrated by automated telephone systems. I either didn't have the correct account number or I couldn't find the correct telephone number to call in the first place or after ten minutes on hold the line went dead. I had to hang up time after time, tears of frustration gathering in my eyes. How hard should it be to inform a business of your change of address? Oh and don't even get me started on the telephone provider! By pick-up time I had successfully ticked off just four from my list of twelve.

Moving house is a difficult and stressful time.

I'm upset for Presley having to leave his pre-school. It is so well run, the staff are mature and dedicated and clearly love the children. Today they made a variety of sweets and the baskets to put them in. Blabla (Presley's attempt at saying Barbara) asked him why he loved his mummy, to write on the gift tag. You can see from the photograph above what his response was. His proud, excited face when I walked in, the lovely gift and the beautiful words made me cry.

The sweets were edible too!

This afternoon I read a lovely post by Kelly, who had her last day at work today before going on her second maternity leave. Her last line stopped me in my tracks. I sat up in my seat and read it a few times. She asked

What do you do when your dreams actually come true?

My immediate response was to berate myself for having so little patience with the boys at the moment, for spending time away from them sorting out the house move (and checking my email, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, something I said I wouldn't do during the day *hangs head in shame*). I despaired at the fact that all I ever wanted was a family and I wasn't making the most of it. I never thought it would happen, especially as when I turned thirty six I was single. So to have a wonderful husband and two amazing children really is a dream come true for me.

Thank you Kelly for reminding me of what I have and thank you too Presley for telling me what is important in your life.

This afternoon I stepped away from the laptop, left my phone in my bag and read them stories and gave them cuddles. Bliss.


22 March 2011


"Will we take our guitars to the new house, Mummy?" asks Presley. The answer is a resounding YES.

We exchanged contracts on the sale of our house today.

At last!

I thought I'd feel relieved and I do, but I also feel nervous, sad and excited too.

We move to Milton Keynes in two weeks.

We've already packed the children:

We've got a lot to do now it's all official, but I'm sure it will all come together in the end.

We're only renting in MK, so if we find a house to buy there this summer we could be moving again in six months. Holy moly.

That's a lot of packing and unpacking and forgetting where things are. Perhaps we should get the children to arrange the furniture for us?

I expect Baby Baby may be even quieter than normal over the next few weeks. Wish us luck!

In other news...



16 March 2011

The Gallery: Trees

Like Tara, who runs The Gallery, I love trees.

When I get near to a big living trunk I want to give it a hug. Then I get right up close and see bugs and fungus and change my mind. So I step back and take a photograph.

Here are some recent ones and some from the archive.

Enjoy, tree lovers...

Oh yeah and I like the moon too!


14 March 2011

Everything in Moderation

My children, looking a little like pigs at a trough, 'we're eating our dinner, mummy'.

My boys eat fairly well, but not as well as I would like. As with most aspects of parenting I'd give myself a could do better in the food department.

I recently attended two blogger events that made me think more about nutrition and the psychology of food. I hope both companies are happy with me discussing them together in one post, as they had a similar message. They also both gave me the opportunity to catch up with some blogging friends and give my children a day out.

The first event was at Kellogg's HQ in Manchester. They called the event 'Snap, Crackle and Blog' and they looked after us parenting bloggers and our children very well. We were given a goody bag, lunch and as many cereal bars as we could eat. My sons took advantage of this!

We even got a visit from some poor juniors dressed up in animal suits.

The other event was put on by Nutella. Again they provided excellent entertainment for the children. The venue was Stockley Farm in Cheshire. Presley and Cash LOVED the farm. 

There was so much to see and do, including real tractor rides, animals galore and an adventure playground. They even had the owl from The Gruffalo!

Again we were given a goody bag and had some bread and Nutella delivered to our homes.

At both events we had access to food psychologists and nutritionists who gave sensible unbiased advice about feeding your family. Eating together as a family is important, as is offering a variety of foods. I already knew this, but it was reassuring to have it confirmed.

Here we are cooking with celebrity chef, Alan Coxon (not pictured), at Nutella. 

I remember watching a television documentary called 'My Child Won't Eat'. As a parent I could see how the small concessions you make to keep the peace at the dinner table could lead to some extreme behaviour. One girl would only eat Wotsits and chocolate. Clearly this is not a healthy diet, but the doctor who was interviewed said that the most important thing is getting calories into a growing child.

This stuck with me.

The most important thing is to get calories into a growing child.

This was backed up by the shocking revelation by Kellogg's that millions of children regularly go to school without breakfast. When you weigh it up surely a bowl of Coco Pops with milk is better than going to school hungry?  If a scrape of Nutella on a piece of wholemeal toast is the only way your child will eat bread, then surely it is part of a healthy meal and a sensible choice.

I'm not spouting any of this because I was told it by Kellogg's and Nutella. I'm saying that everything in moderation is a sensible approach to eating. 

Andy and I offer our children a variety of foods and they choose whether or not to eat them. We try not to make a fuss at mealtimes. We encourage them to eat, we don't force them. We ask them to at least try everything on their plate. Foods are neither good nor bad. Some days Presley and Cash eat fruit until their chins are dripping with juice. Other days all they want is garlic bread and chocolate buttons. I don't mind so long at they are eating regularly and over a week they have a little bit of everything in moderation. I'm not saying that we get it right all the time, but we care and we try. 

There are children who are malnourished because their parents feed them according to their view of what is healthy - for an adult. These growing, developing children are given sugar-free, fat-free, 'health' food, but they're not getting enough calories.

This has turned into a rant. It wasn't meant to be. I guess I'm on the defensive because there are some who think that chocolate coated cereals and chocolate hazelnut spreads are evil, whereas I don't. 

When Presley was about two years old he refused to drink milk. He also decided he didn't like cheese so I was limited to giving him yoghurts for his daily dairy intake. One day I offered him some Coco Pops and showed him the magic of the milk turning chocolatey. He ate them and drank the 'chocolate milk'. Since then I have gradually reduced the amount of Coco Pops in his cereal bowl and topped it up with other (non-chocolate coated) cereals. Now he has plain whole milk on his cereal. Occasionally he asks for Coco Pops for breakfast, but mostly he doesn't.

Everything in moderation.

Oh and I always wanted my face on a Cornflakes packet!

You'd think I'd look happier about it!



10 March 2011

Best Royal Wedding Souvenir Ever!

Yes, folks, it's the Happyland Royal Wedding Set. £15 from the Early Learning Centre.


*gets out credit card*

This is not a sponsored post, I'm just spreading the joy in the build up to the Big Day!

9 March 2011


I've been in limbo for some time, longer than this tree that has rested over the winter and is now ready to spring into life.

We moved from Surrey to Lancashire three-ish years ago, when Presley was a baby, to be near Andy's family. I had Cash very soon after so didn't get out much. I had moved away from my NCT group and was lonely.

We decided 17 long months ago to move back down South, for Andy's work mainly. At that time I agreed before he'd finished the sentence 'shall we move back...?'.

We de-cluttered ready to put our house on the market last summer. All the stuff that makes a house a home was boxed up and hidden in the garage. All the books and the ornaments and most of the photographs were put away. It was only temporary after all.

Since then I've been putting down roots - I had to - and made some friends through blogging, writing groups and courses and through toddler groups and Playgroup. All this time I've had at the back of my mind that we're not staying and that has made me a little sad.

My first thought when we finally accepted an offer on our house earlier this year was I don't want to leave. I will miss my new friends and it will be difficult to take Presley away from the Playgroup he loves. The boys won't see their grandparents as much. My in-laws won't see their grandchildren as much. That's hard.

We've just about decided where we think we want to live 'down South', where we want the boys to go to school. The more I google this area the more excited I get about moving. There will be more opportunities for us as a family and our 'old' friends are there too. I hope it is the right move for us.

In terms of timing, I'd like to move now or not at all. I want to be established in an area so that (with any luck) we can use our new local knowledge to choose a school for the boys. I hope we make the right choice and never have to move again, especially once the boys are settled at school.

So now I want to move, but we are still in limbo.

We're waiting for all the legal queries to be resolved so that we can exchange contracts. Once we've done that we can go and look at houses to rent. Oh yeah and our buyers need to move in at the beginning of April because they are coming out of a rental property. So we need to find somewhere suitable to live that is available now and go through the rental process quickly. We need to pack and arrange the move in the next month, with two small children.

As if that wasn't enough pressure, my mum and step-father arrive from Christchurch next month. They are flying into Heathrow airport, so I hope we've moved South by then. They'll be living with us until they find somewhere for themselves. They'll be happier living in a country that doesn't really get earthquakes. It's a massive upheaval for them and they will be leaving everything behind. In the meantime they are staying with relatives.

We are all in limbo, waiting, waiting, waiting.


8 March 2011

Are you excited yet?

The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are fast approaching.

What do you mean you're not excited yet? The Olympic Games are being held in the UK NEXT YEAR. I'm so excited I could burst.

The Cultural Olympiad is on now, but not a lot of people know that, and will culminate in a the largest cultural festival in the world before the Games.

Ticket applications commence on 15th March 2011, but you can register your interest in advance.

The full Olympic Schedule and ticket pricing information has been released. I'm going to have to think carefully about which events to apply for, but at the very least I want to be in the stadium for the althletics - preferably the 100m finals. Can you imagine how exciting it would be to watch Usain Bolt win gold, maybe with a World Record? How about supporting our cyclists or swimmers? What about the highly entertaining Greco-Roman Wrestling?

I can hear you questioning my enthusiasm, after all I'm not exactly sporty. Well, I've always watched the Olympics on television, but you have to go back 11 years to understand why I am particularly excited about the Olympics coming to the UK.

In 2000 I was living and working in Sydney, Australia. 

Gratuitous shot of the view from my office window:

The Olympics were due to start in September that year. Sydneysiders were decidedly cool about the whole thing. It was going to be a massive inconvenience, the city would fill up with bloody tourists and the buses and trains would be packed.

Then the Olympic flame arrived in the city. Pat Rafter and Olivia Newton-John stood at the steps of the Sydney Opera House with the iconic flame, this was the start of the excitement. As I left work that night to walk to Wynyard Station there were a lot of people on George Street. I soon saw why. Dawn Fraser jogged past with the flame on it's way to Olympic Park. The buzz on the streets was electric. 

All of a sudden six televisions were set up on our floor at work, we all worked three day weeks (12 hours a day) so that we could maximise our viewing time. We loved the clean streets and the 24 hour public transport. 

We took advantage of the free concerts in the city. I saw Neil Finn at the Domain and Bob Downe in Martin Place:

There were six large screens set up around the city to watch the action live. I soon learnt the words to Advance Australia Fair as Australia won gold after gold in the swimming.

Best of all I went to the Stadium to watch the athletics. Being a bloody tourist I'd bought my front row seat weeks in advance. My friends in the UK texted me each time they saw me on television. Here I am with my Union Jack and my Aussie flag too:

Here is Colin Jackson warming up for the 110m hurdles. After I took this I shouted Go Colin and he gave me the thumbs up in return:

The atmosphere in the stadium was incredible. We sat in the sunshine and took it all in, in between joining in with the Mexican Waves. I met many people in the two weeks of the Games in Sydney. Everyone was there to have a good time. I hope London 2012 will capture some of that excitement and international friendship.

Come on, are you even a little bit excited?

This is NOT a sponsored post (ha! I wish), I just wanted to share a little of my enthusiasm for the wonderful event that is the Olympic Games.



7 March 2011

Thank you LEGO Duplo

I've got a lot of reason be grateful to LEGO Duplo.

Firstly we are LEGO Duplo experts. This means the boys will be testing Duplo - it's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. They will also be having LEGO themed birthday parties. On top of that LEGO Duplo are sponsoring me to go to Cybermummy. They have bought my ticket and will be covering my travel and hotel costs.  

Secondly, if I want to boys to tidy up their toys I offer them the tub of Duplo as a reward. This always works.

Finally, they love playing with their Duplo. We were sent the Fishing Trip Set. This wasn't a huge hit as we're not a fishing family, but it is still played with. The boys mostly put the bear in the boat!

We were also sent the garbage truck and this is very popular. My boys like nothing more than 'something to brum', 'it's got a man in it' and 'you can put things in the back'. This ticks all the boxes. Luckily they were also given the ambulance for Christmas so they both have a similar toy. They both play imaginatively for long periods with their Duplo.

Here they have made a park with a swing and a slide. They're even playing together quite nicely. So thank you LEGO Duplo!

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