29 August 2009

Birthday Boys

It's a big weekend in the Calico household. Not only is it August Bank Holiday Weekend and threatening rain, but it is also the most expensive weekend of the year for me so far.

Cash is one today, Andy is forty on Monday and Presley is two on Tuesday.

We've allocated three separate spaces for birthday cards and Andy's Mother has made cakes.

Andy and I travelled down to London on Thursday for a night out with friends. This was the first time I had spent a night away from Cash and only the second time I had been apart from Presley. The first time was a year ago when I was in hospital giving birth to Cash. I cried when I kissed them goodbye. I knew they would be fine with their grandparents, but it was still difficult to leave them.

There was a moment on the train when I felt like the old me. I was reading a book and listening to my MP3 player, looking forward to my first glass of wine. Then I felt guilty. It felt wrong to be child-free because I am a mother now. I wondered whether it was to soon to phone home, just to make sure the boys were okay. I stopped myself and resolved to relax and enjoy myself.

We arrived in sunny London. We had a lovely meal with our hosts Paul and Dez and then ventured into town. We had a few drinks and some good conversation with friends in a pub in Soho. At 11pm we made our way to Karaoke Box. This was quite appropriate as Paul and Dez had just returned from their honeymoon in Japan. I love Karaoke Box. Apparently I sound like Debbie Harry. Who knew?! Andy dedicated a couple of Elvis songs to me. Ah (wipes tear away). We ended with a jolly (okay, pi**ed up) version of Bohemian Rhapsody, followed by the definitive Virginia Plain.

The next morning we woke at 7.30. It was difficult getting back to sleep, even though this was our only opportunity for a lie in EVER (well, in the last year anyway)! I had a headache and a sore throat, but it was worth it.

Having a day away from my everyday life gave me a chance to reflect. I took out some photos of my boys. They are the most beautiful, amazing creatures. My goodness, they're ours. Andy and I made these two new people. I couldn't wait to get home.


Warning, the next part of this post is sentimental.


You'll be forty very soon. They say life begins at forty. For me though, life began on 18th March 2006. This was the day we met. I'm not sure about love at first sight, but love certainly followed fairly quickly. I wrote a bit about it here.

With you I can be myself.

I'm comfortable, but I don't want to take you for granted. When I apologised to you for putting on weight, you immediately replied with 'I love you unconditionally'. I am so lucky to have met you.

You are a wonderful husband and an amazing father. I love you.


My first born. My special boy.

You melt my heart when you smile. You break my heart when you cry.

I remember when we brought you home from the hospital. I stood with you in my arms and wondered what do I do now? I sat down and looked at you and felt a thunderbolt. I had never felt such over-whelming love before.

I feel such pride watching you grow in confidence. You love life and you love to laugh.

You are my sunshine.


Before you were born I was worried I wouldn't have enough love for a second baby. I needn't have worried. I didn't get the thunderbolt with you, it was more a gradual realisation that I had fallen head-over-heels in love with you.

You are always ready to smile and what a giggler! I see you grow and change every day.

You have taught me that I can relax and still be a good mother.

You are my little poppet.


So, what are we doing today?

Andy has taught Presley and Cash to say 'Ding Dong' in the style of Leslie Phillips. I'm not sure I should be encouraging this, but if you can't beat them, join them! Well, hello....


26 August 2009

Wordless Wednesday - A Bit of Light Relief!

I see faces...


23 August 2009

Supermarket Grass

As I drove into Sainsbury's car park on Saturday, I saw that it was busy.

I turned towards the parent and child spaces. A large black Saab flew into the space I had my eye on.

As I looked for another space I watched the Saab. Three strapping lads got out and sauntered towards the store. There were no children in the car. This bothers me. Selfish bleeps, I thought.

I found a space, further away from the entrance than I would have liked. I fumed as I put my boys in a trolley. As I stomped towards the shop I saw a sign stating that improper use of the parent and child spaces could result in a £50 fine.

A £50 fine. Hmmm.

I turned round, wrote down the Saab's registration number, then marched to Customer Services.

I gave the details to the delighted woman on the counter. I'm guessing she was a parent too!

Action stations.

I was shaking as I moved away. I zoomed round the fruit and veg and hid behind the bananas.

The tannoy bing-bonged, 'Would the owner of black Saab... please contact customer services.

I hope they did get fined. Lazy, inconsiderate so and so's!


While I was typing this post I flicked onto Twitter and saw that the lovely Lorraine at Ramblings of a Mum on the Run had just posted a very similar rant. You can read it here.


21 August 2009

Rice Cake Heartbreak

See full size image

The boys were eating rice cakes on the walk home from the library this morning.

Then catastrophe! Presley dropped one of his rice cakes. As it rolled away from the pushchair he squeaked in horror. I told him it didn't matter because we had plenty more.

He squeaked and pointed behind him all the way home. When we got in, he ran to the front door. He's a man of few words, but I knew he wanted to go back out and look for the rice cake.

I then made a big mistake.

I told him not to worry, the squirrels would eat it.

Oh dear. He started to cry. Huge tears rolled down his cheeks and plopped on to his T-shirt. I tried to offer him another, clean, rice cake but he was too upset to answer. He merely pushed it away.

There was only one thing for it. Daddy to the rescue.

"Daddy, please can you go outside and find Presley's rice cake", I said (as I covertly handed Andy a rice cake). Out he went, down the drive.

Andy returned a few seconds later triumphant, rice cake in hand.

"Thank you Daddy".



19 August 2009

What a Difference Nine Months Makes

My Mum and I took the boys to a soft play centre today. I was slightly apprehensive after last time...

Nine months ago Andy and I took the boys to a birthday party at a soft play centre. Cash was only ten weeks old and got cuddled a lot, he took it all in and watched the other children.

Presley was fourteen months old. He was still quite a shy baby, nervous of strangers and unusual situations.

We sat him in the ball pond. He clearly felt uneasy. He found a red ball and held it for comfort. He held onto this ball the whole time we were there. Unfortunately some older boys jumped in the ball pond and frightened him. We lifted him out, crying his eyes out, with his comfort ball.

We tried him on other toys but he wasn't enjoying himself. He just wanted to crawl around, with his red ball.

Andy and I felt so sorry for him. We are both naturally shy people and to see him on the sidelines, not daring to join in, really upset us.

Roll forward nine months...

Today demonstrated to me how far he has come. His socialisation and confidence have improved no end. He's still quiet, but he's a different boy to last time.

With Cash happily crawling about the baby area I sat and watched Presley learn how to climb up a bumpy ramp and then whizz down the slide. His hair was flying out behind him and his grin stretched from ear to ear. He ran round to the ramp and did it again and again and again. When other toddlers joined him he was courteous, moving to the far slide when necessary.

After a good half an hour of slide action Mum and I wanted a coffee (and a cake of course) so we put the boys in some highchairs for a break. Presley wanted to carry on playing but it was so hot in there that I wanted him to have a drink and a snack. He was red in the face. I've never seen him so active.

Once we released him he decided to up his game and investigate the climbing frames in the big children's area. I was trying to get Cash to sleep so I missed Presley's debut slide down the large covered helter skelter. When I found out what he had done I couldn't believe it. My little boy, the daredevil!

Mum took over Cash buggy-wheeling duty and I followed Presley. Up the huge ramp he went, with me lumbering behind him. I wondered if there was an adult weight limit. Eek! It was okay, I didn't break the scaffolding. He proceeded to investigate the whole place. Some bigger boys knocked him down. He got up again, he was fine. When he wanted to get down he chose to slide down the ramp. I tried to encourage him to climb down safely, but I ended up half carrying him while making my way down gingerly.

If you had asked me this morning whether Presley would have dared go in the big children's area, I would have said 'no'. If you had asked me would I be clambering about with him, I would have said 'no way'. But we both did it.

I was so proud of him. He had a wonderful time and didn't want to leave. We're definitely going back. Mum can look after Cash as he zooms around frenetically playing with all the baby toys. Andy can clamber round with Presley. Me? I'll be following them with the video camera, zooming in on my confident, happy little boy's beautiful flushed face. Then I'll have a coffee and a cake.


17 August 2009

Change Your Nappy and Other Modern Classics

Image courtesy of Babyworld

One of our favourite songs at Sing and Sign is 'Change Your Nappy', sung to the tune of Frere Jacques.

These are the official words:

Change your nappy, change your nappy,
carefully, carefully,
throw it in the dustbin, throw it in the dustbin,
now you're clean, nice and clean.

I'm amazed I can remember the official words after Andy made up his own:

Change your nappy, change your nappy,
cos it stinks, cos it stinks,
lob it in the landfill, lob it in the landfill,
for a thousand years, a thousand years.

I prefer this version!

Andy makes up songs for most baby-related activities. The boys love them and so do I.

There is the classic foot washing song:
Feet feet, nice and neat, keep them clean so they smell sweet.

The dressing song:
Dancing babygro, dancing on your nose, dancing on your toes, dancing babygro.

The bath time song:
Washing the baby's bits and pieces, washing the baby's balls,
washing in all those awkward creases, washing the baby's smalls.

And who could forget his mathematician's reworking of Five Little Ducks:
n little ducks went swimming one day, over the hill and far away,
Mummy duck said "quack quack quack quack", n-1 little ducks came back.

All together now...


16 August 2009

Blogging With Integrity

Susanna, the founder of British Mummy Bloggers, has created a code of ethics for BMB members. You can read her post here.

I am happy to display the badge and subscribe to this code:

"The “British Mummy Bloggers Do It with Integrity” badge stands for blogging with principle. By displaying the badge you agree that you will:
  • Make transparent any relationships with products or companies;
  • Clearly label advertising, advertorials and/or sponsored posts;
  • Always write truthfully about a product or company;
  • Observe intellectual property rights."

It's common sense really.

I haven't written a review yet on my blog. The only time I have raved about a product is in my post Designer Dishwasher. I showed photographs of the apron I had bought and mentioned the designer who made it for me. I also stated that she was a friend of mine. You can't get much more transparent than that.

So who is the code aimed at? I read a lot of blogs and some feature reviews. I don't recall a review that was masquerading as something else. I like reading reviews, but I haven't read one that made me want to buy the product. We're all intelligent enough to make up our own minds. In fact, most of the reviews I have read are honest, they contain positives and negatives.

I find it amusing that companies want to send me free stuff. I had no idea mummy bloggers were so influential! I am currently reading a book that I will review. I also have the Carex 'press' pack(!), a brief review will follow when I get a minute. As far as I'm concerned it's all writing practice, but I am discerning as to what I accept. I certainly don't feel like a patsy, selling my blogging soul for a few quids worth of booty.


Now is probably a good time to mention that I write reviews for the Great Toy Guide. This is a separate activity from my blog, although if it wasn't for blogging, and BMB, I would not have been in a position to participate. So far I have reviewed a couple of toys that we already owned. I have now received a couple of new toys to review. We get to keep them, and that's lovely.

I think the Great Toy Guide is a fantastic website and is a resource that we can all use. Honest toy reviews, written by parents for parents. Have a look if you like :-)


Finally, huge thanks to a lovely new blogger, Whistlejacket for passing on the Meme award to me. Please visit her blog Babyrambles and say hello.


13 August 2009

Bad Hair Day?

Bad hair day? No, BAD HAIR LIFE is more like it!

I've never been happy with my hair. I'm not really that vain. I'm overweight. I only wear make-up when I go out (so not very often). I think I would feel so much better about myself if I had nice hair. It doesn't have to be any particular style, certainly nothing trendy. I like to wash and go.

The problem is I have frizzy hair. It's wavy so of course I want straight hair. Anything but frizzy would do!

I've always had stupid hair. Here is my hair history:

The 70's
Brown and straight. I wanted curly and spent many nights sleeping face down in my mother's curlers.

The 80's
Every colour under the sun. I liked it blonde, pink and red. The black goth look was a disaster. I'd left some blonde at the sides and the fringe. My hair looked like a great big bird poo. I liked my hair spiky - top tip: sugar water will stick your hair up, but it will also sticky your hair up. Yuk. I shaved the sides once. This didn't go down well with my parents or the school!

The 90's
Perms. perms and yet more more perms. I wanted silky corkscrew curls, I got Maid Marion, from Robin of Sherwood, frizz. Mostly brown, started going grey. One poor copy of Demi Moore in Ghost, leading to years of growing it. Then cut into a short crop and bleached for travelling (I had a late gap year)! I quite liked this, apart from the one time I went out and forgot the frizz buster balm. I ended up looking like Gloria Hunniford.

The 00's - 2000-2006
One long round of having a 'style', usually layers, followed by growing it out into a long one-length bob. Highlights. Always asking for a natural look to cover the grey, ending up with alternate blonde, red and brown stripes (with the grey still visible). I think I must speak a different language to hairdressers.

Before I had Presley I had a very short cut - doesn't everyone when they have a baby? It was pretty awful.

Growing it. Blonde highlights.

Dyed brown. Still growing it, not intentionally, just never got round to making an appointment.

Very long, no style whatsoever. Horrified by new under-fringe. Is it me or does everyone get strange new hair growth after they've had a baby? That is of course after loads of it has fallen out in the first few months after the birth. Made an appointment for a haircut.

Told the hairdresser that I hate my hair, she could do what she liked with it. I trust her, she was the one who cut the style that is on my profile photo.

You want to see what she did, don't you?

Be kind, I'm not wearing make up!

I love it!

The small print!
I read a blog recently where someone had posted their hair history in photos. It must have taken them all day to put together. I would have loved to have done that, but haven't the time. I wanted to credit them for inspiring this post, but I can't remember who it was and I'm sorry about that. If the blogger who wrote that post reads this, please leave me a comment and a link to the post so that I can credit you. Thanks :-)

The inspiration for this post was from That Girl at 40 Not Out. Thanks to the lovely Emily at Maternal Tales for remembering x


11 August 2009

...And Relax!

We all need a bit of ‘me’ time. We all love being pampered, don’t we?

Before I got married and had children, when I was young, free and footloose I would regularly treat myself to a facial or a pedicure. I’m not sure that I enjoyed it, but it was something that my friends did. Like coveting expensive shoes, matching accessories to outfits and buying too many handbags. Like going for coffee and cake and moaning about rubbish boyfriends and putting on weight.

Before I got married and had children I would be plucked, rubbed, buffed and polished to within an inch of my life. I must have told my husband about this. For Christmas he gave me a voucher for a ‘Pamper Experience’. Initially I was delighted. It will be a break from the children, it will be relaxing. Yes, exactly what I need.

I had my first child in September 2007, I had my second child 363 days later. The phrase ‘you’ve got your hands full’ was written for me. Two babies is hard work. I don’t get much time for myself.

I found the voucher in a pile of stuff in April. I finally got round to making a booking in July. Oh, they’ve closed the Preston premises, can you come to Lytham? Oh, okay.

On the day it was a rush to get the boys up, fed, washed and dressed and over to Grandma and Grandad’s. I didn’t know where the beauticians was in Lytham, thank goodness for SatNav! I arrived with seconds to spare. At least I had seen the sea, always a pleasure.

I took a deep breath and went in.

I was dreading my pamper experience. I’d had two children in quick succession. I’m lucky if I leave the house in clean clothes. My beauty regime consists of washing my hair when it gets really greasy. I’ve put on weight. I still wear maternity clothes. In the car I’d been tortured by imagined scenes of laughing size zero pretty young things, making puke faces. Hahaha you get to massage the whale.

Vicky took all my details and let me to the treatment room. Not a smirk. So far so good. She instructed me to strip to the waist and lay face down on the bed with a towel over me. She left the room. I checked for possible CCTV, I couldn’t see any cameras, they could be behind the mirrors. Oh dear. I’m here now. I swiftly followed her instructions.

My first treatment was a back massage. This should have relaxed me. But all I could think was how disgusted she must be at having to stroke my love handles. I know she’s getting paid, but there must be times when she hates her job. Or perhaps it’s more satisfying for her to squeeze flabby flesh than to be careful not to break someone’s ribs if she applies too much pressure? I didn’t ask. I worried that she could smell the garlic I’d had for dinner the night before. I thought of the boys. What age-inappropriate toys would they be playing with? Would they be out in the sun without hats and factor 50?

I wasn’t relaxing. Argh!

Next I had to perform a turning over manoevre that would have frightened small children, had there been any in the room, and had Vicky not been holding up a mercifully large towel magician’s assistant style.

It was time for a re-polish. She asked me if I usually painted my toenails. I replied no, not since I’d had children. Oh dear she was going near my feet! How long were my toenails? How much hard skin was there on my feet? Were they even clean? They couldn’t have been too whiffy as she applied a good six coats of polish in the colour shell. For those unfamiliar with the colour shell, it is pink.

I laid back and listened to the musak blaring out of the CD player. It was a bit loud and a bit odd. I would have expected floaty zen waves, I would have settled for pan pipes. What I was subjected to was incidental film score. I could see Audrey Hepburn in sunglasses and a headscarf driving an open-top sports car around the hill roads in Monaco. I could see an old man walking slowly through the drizzle to leave a single red rose on his late wife’s grave. I could see new life in the Spring, ferns unfurling, melting snow. I could feel I was starting to relax. At last!

Mmm, now a facial. Vicky had a magnificent, confident touch. She cleansed, toned, exfoliated, massaged, moisturised and balmed me. She wrapped my face in hot towels and gently wiped it with cotton wool. I could feel my skin breathing in the lavender (as was I) and de-stressing (as was I). I drifted off while she massaged my neck and shoulders. Bliss.

That was it, my pamper experience had come to an end. I slowly came to and very slowly sat up and admired my pretty toes. I drank a large glass of water. I dressed, forgetting about all those cameras.

I didn’t buy any products, neither did I book any further appointments, but I politely took all the leaflets. I was sent on my way with a list of instructions for the rest of the day:

  • Don’t drive – I’ve got to drive forty miles to pick up the boys and get us home.
  • Don’t drink alcohol - some chance!
  • Don’t exercise – okay running around after a toddler and a baby isn’t exactly an Olympic sport, but it’s not sedate either.
  • Do rest – see above!
  • Do drink plenty of water – at last one I can follow.

And relax? That night I slept like an exhausted new mother, does that count?


7 August 2009

Tara Tara Tara

The fabulous Tara from Sticky Fingers decided to 'thank' everyone that had given her a blog award by giving them the The Blame Tara Meme to complete. I like a good meme. She is going to see how far it will spread throughout the blogging world and beyond. I have also been tagged by the lovely Clare at Clareybabbling. Be sure to pay them a visit!

The rules, such as they are, quite frankly you make it up as you go along:
Thank Tara - check
Complete the meme - see below
Pass on to some other brilliant blogs - see even further below

OK off we go!

1. Who is the hottest movie star?

I have had crushes on movie stars (and the like) since I was a little girl. Here they are in chronological (you will be able to guess my age from this) order:
Lee Majors
John Travolta
Adam Ant
John Taylor
Tom Cruise
Kevin Costner
Keanu Reeves
Nuno Bettencourt
Robert Downey Jr
John Cusack
David Tennant

2. Apart from your house and your car, what's the most expensive item you've ever bought?

My engagement ring. This is a long story that I will save for its very own blog post. Suffice to say it was also the most expensive item my husband has ever bought too!

3. What's your most treasured memory?

The day I met Andy was pretty special, as was our wedding. I wouldn't say that I treasure the memories of the births of my children, but I can certainly remember the second I fell head over heels in love with them.

4. What was the best gift you ever received as a child?

This answer is inspired by/copied from the wonderful Gaelikaa, in her answer to question 4 she said Enid Blyton books. I think this is the same for me. I have always loved reading and devoured all of Enid's books. I particularly liked the Mallory Towers books, the Castle of Adventure series and The Secret Island series. I was over the moon to complete my Famous Five collection too. A few years ago I re-read all of the Mallory Towers and St Clares books. Still great reads!

5. What's the biggest mistake you've made?

Have you got all day? The general theme of all my mistakes has been poor choice of friends. I guess in the past I must have been too trusting, naive and easily led. I think that's all behind me now. You lot are lovely people, aren't you?

6. 4 words to describe yourself.

I am a chocoholic!

7. What was your highlight or lowlight of 2008?

My highlight is definitely having Presley, the lowlight would probably be the way I was treated by the hopsital when I was pregnant and the trauma of the birth itself. All worth it though :-)

8. Favourite film?

This is a difficult question. Off the top of my head: Moulin Rouge.

9. Tell me one thing I don't know about you.

I HATE moths. Oh, you mean a proper secret?

10. If you were a comic book/strip or cartoon character, who would you be?


I enjoyed doing that.

I hope the following splendid bloggers will also take up the challenge!

Of course, lovely reader, if you would like to take up the challenge and I haven't tagged you, please feel free to join in and you can blame Tara too.

Bonus points are available for identifying the image above!!


4 August 2009

Presley in Shoplifting Shocker!

Yes, it's true. My son is a shoplifter! Oh the shame...

We went to our local hardware shop today to buy a feather duster. I mentioned in my last post that my Mum is coming to stay. Well, she doesn't like spiders, so I thought it was about time I tackled the cobwebs!

I love my local hardware shop. The staff are so knowledgeable and helpful. They sell everything. If I go in with a vague description of what I need they always sell me the correct item. I'm always tempted to ask if they have fork handles, but I'm guessing they've heard that one before.

I'd parked the boys as far away from the shelves as possible, this is tricky with a tandem pushchair in a tiny shop! The shop keeper had sold me a blue feather duster and he had even put a carrier bag over the end to stop it getting wet in the summer rain. Don't worry, I will re-use the carrier bag!!

Off we went on our merry way. We hadn't gone far when I heard a strange banging noise from the front of the pushchair. I went to investigate and found Presley cuddling his bounty: a massive wooden coffee canister. He was banging the lid on the canister, as they do. I told him he mustn't take things from shops and turned the pushchair around.

The shop keeper was standing in the doorway waiting. Luckily he had a big grin on his face. He said he had noticed it was missing. I prised it away from Presley and gave it back with my apologies.

Off we went again. After a short walk I thought I'd better check on Presley. I was about to give him another speech about how shop lifting was naughty behaviour, but he looked up at me and beamed. He looked so pleased with himself that I beamed back.

Get something useful next time Dodger!


2 August 2009

High Chair High Jinks!

We've had a busy weekend. We took the boys to see their Grandma and Grandad yesterday.

Presley loves it there. He is the fifth grandchild (Cash is the eighth), so there are plenty of exciting new toys to play with. He spent most of the day pushing a bus around and around and around. His Grandad also took him round the garden. Presley had his Thomas The Tank Engine Wellies on but that didn't stop him getting soaked. We had to dry his trousers on the oven door!

I usually give Cash some food before we have our lunch, then leave him strapped in his car seat playing with some toys while we eat. Yesterday I thought I'd try something new and have both the boys sitting at the table. Andy's parents have a plastic booster seat and we took our portable booster seat. We've used both seats before without incident.

Today there were incidents.

Firstly Cash must have pushed against the table with his feet. The chair started to fall backwards. Luckily I had peripheral vision and lightning fast reactions. I caught his arm and stopped him falling. I moved the chair and wrapped my foot around the leg!

A few minutes later I watched in horror as Presley fell ..... in ..... slow ..... motion. He must have been leaning over sideways and the chair fell away from the table and landed on its side. Luckily Presley was still strapped into the booster seat, hanging upside down. He started to cry. He wasn't hurt, it was just the shock of it. His Grandma lifted the chair up as I lifted him up. His Grandma wrapped her foot around his chair leg!

My nerves must be bad. I didn't stop shaking for five minutes, I thought I was going to be ill. I know neither of them was hurt, but it didn't stop me thinking what if?

After lunch I took Cash for a walk to get him to sleep. I'd been out for half an hour. He was too busy watching the world go by to go to sleep. I wheeled him back and left the pushchair outside the back door. Cash then went to sleep, he must have been bored looking at the wheelie bins!

Andy and his Dad were in the garden so I went inside to read the paper. Luxury! A little while later I realised everyone was inside the house and the back door was shut. I ran to check on Cash. Of course he was still there and still fast asleep. I panicked, again thinking what if?

Perhaps I need to chill out.


Today was busy too. I spent most of the day cleaning, dusting, vacuuming and tidying. My Mum arrives on Wednesday and is staying for a month. I don't want her to think we live in a s***hole!!! I may have to cut down on my social media addiction while she is here, although I'm sure I'll be able to write the odd post!


In other news....

I'm a winner! I won Leslieanne's July giveaway at Kooky Boutique. She's having another competition this month. If you'd like to enter here's the link.

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