31 May 2010

The Gallery: Still Life

The theme for the Sticky Fingers Gallery this week is still life

When I'm wondering what I'm going to photograph for The Gallery I try to look for the quirky or to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. This week's theme allowed me to play with my camera and be a little creative.

This is another 'can you guess what it is yet?' series of photographs.

I'll call it 'Finding Yourself'!

So did I find myself in the bottom of a bottle?

No, I drank three bottles, did a big wee and went to bed a bit tipsy!


28 May 2010

Guest Post Day - Welcome NurtureStore

Hello everyone. I’m Cathy and I write over at NurtureStore, bringing you lots of cheap and easy ideas you can do at home to have fun with your kids and help them learn lots of important early learning skills at the same time.

In Sandy’s ‘Good Enough’ post I sensed a slight reluctance on her part to get the glue and glitter out and do some craft with Presley and Cash as she says she’s ‘not good with mess’. I thought I might use this as the inspiration for this guest post and bring you...

 A Reluctant Parent’s Guide to Kids’ Craft

Firstly, I want to tell you why craft is so good for your children.

Craft activities such as drawing, painting and model making offer children so many opportunities to develop important skills. If you’re making a model you’re working on maths concepts such as size, scale, shape, volume and dimensions. Working out how to get your egg box dragon’s eyes to stay on exercises problem-solving skills. Using scissors and peeling off stickers work on fine-motor skills, building dexterity and strength in fingers which one day will be expected to hold a pencil and produce neat writing. Craft play is important for even very young children as it introduces lots of sensory experiences as they use different materials.  And crafting gives children a chance to be creative and use their imagination. Transforming a cardboard box into a castle offers up a world of new play. Most importantly craft is fun and your child will feel such a sense of pride and achievement when they’ve created something of their own.

Craft is also good for parents. If it’s raining, if your child is tired or grouchy, craft can be therapeutic. Play dough or painting can calm frazzled children and occupy them for a good while. Crafting is also gentle on the purse and environmentally-friendly. Grab a big box and start filling it with all the items that you’d usually throw away, such as cereal boxes, string, old wrapping paper and bottle tops. You’ll soon have a well- stocked craft box ready to spark your children’s imagination, all for free.

And my top tips for stress-free and (almost) mess-free craft:

1.    Cover up: Protect the floor, table, your child and yourself using table cloths, newspapers and aprons. That way you can relax and allow a bit of mess.

2.    Supervise mindfully: Young children do need constant supervision when using materials such as paint and scissors but try to let them create using their own ideas, supporting them with tasks they find difficult.

3.    Choose your materials carefully: Having a recycled making box is great because it costs nothing, so you don’t have to be precious about how the kids use what’s in there. You can completely avoid paint and (heaven forbid!) glitter if you want to; wax crayons, pencils, play dough and stickers are all good, almost-mess-free options. Glue sticks and sticky tape in a sturdy dispenser are cleaner alternatives to runny glue and a spatula.

4.    Make something your kids love: Got a train fanatic? Make them their own tank engine. Got a princess? How about a beautiful crown? And for the very young, just let them have fun exploring the materials on offer.

5.    Extend the play: adding a few props to what you make can transform your child’s play. Four paper circles on a tissue box create a car. Add in their favourite teddy and they can spend the morning going on a journey together.

6.    Have a go! This is the most important rule of all. You don’t have to be a great artist - channel your inner Blue Peter and give it a try. You never know, you might love it.

And if you do, then I hope you’ll pop over to NurtureStore for ideas on what you can make next.


Thank you so much, Cathy. I know this post was written for me and I have been inspired now. I'm off to rummage through the recycling to find items for my making box!

I'm guest posting at NurtureStore today, writing about nurturing a love of books. I've even written my first children's story in honour of the occasion, now if I could just find an illustrator...

Thank you too to Erica at Littlemummy.com for organising Guest Post Day.


There are also a couple of blogging carnivals to tell you about.  

Firstly the lovely Rosie Scribble hosts the BMB carnival. Thank you for including my post, Rosie. I know how much work goes into each carnival.

Finally the wonderful Karin at Cafebebe hosts the MADs carnival. Here you'll find posts by most of The MADs finalists (including NurtureStore, Littlemummy.com, Cafebebe and Baby Baby). If you haven't voted yet, head on over for some inspiration. Even if you have voted there are some wonderful 'best of' posts that you may have missed first time round.


26 May 2010


I lost my temper today, all day.

I used to be a pretty mellow person. I've never been volatile. When others flew off the handle at work, I was always the one calming the situation. I would tell them that it's not worth getting angry.

Recently I've felt a rage building up. I don't know if it's hormonal or caused by lack of sleep, but I find myself getting annoyed quite easily.

I try so hard not to lose my temper with Presley and Cash, but sometimes they drive me to distraction. I had no idea children could behave like, well, children. They go on and on and on and on. They ask for the same thing over and over again. Every time I go into the kitchen to cook their tea, Cash follows me, raises his arms and barks 'up' at me. I explain that mummy needs two hands to poach an egg/butter a slice of bread/peel an orange/whatever but this goes in one ear and out the other. 'Up up up UP'.

I sometimes shout at my boys and I ashamed about this. I'm supposed to be the adult in the relationship. They seem to ignore it anyway.

Today though, I have been incandescent with rage practically the entire day. This has nothing to do with the boys and I've tried to keep it from them. 

We're trying to get our house on the market. Our estate agent sent through the brochure for us to proof read today, two days late. I found 31 errors. Some were pretty fundamental. They had ignored our main selling points in favour of saying that we had a 'Conservatory and Modern Fitted Kitchen'. This is incorrect. Our kitchen is the original one from when the house was built in the early 1980s and sadly there is no conservatory. 

I replied with all the changes that were required. I asked for the next proof to be double checked before it was sent to me and advised them that we were thinking about changing agents.

I received a brief email from the manager with no apology, followed by a brochure still listing 'Conservatory and Modern Fitted Kitchen' as a main selling point.


I'm furious.

Needless to say I will be terminating their contract in the morning. 

I haven't stopped shaking my head in annoyance and disappointment this evening.

I think I'm pretty justified in losing my temper - just this once.

This post was written for the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. This week I chose prompt no.2 Lost.


24 May 2010

The Gallery: Friendship

The theme for the Sticky Fingers Gallery this week is friendship.

I initially thought that I would take a photograph of my boys playing together because I hope they will be wonderful friends as well as brothers - especially as they are so close together in age. Unfortunately the tops of their heads is not really an interesting photograph and I don't like to show their faces online. 

This led me to think about my friends. I don't have a large circle of friends, so there are no happy photographs of me on drunken nights out with the girls. I do however have a handful of close friends. 

There is a recent photograph of me with my best friend, but I look awful in it. It was taken at the end of the Breast Cancer Care Fashion Show. Amanda was one of the models. She looked fabulous, hair and make-up professionally done. I, on the other hand, had been crying for the last hour and had no make-up left on. The less said about my home hairdressing attempt the better!

But, because she looks so amazing and I still cry when I remember how proud I was of her on that night, here it is:

This friendship is so important to me that I'll publish a photograph of me after I've been crying - a lot!

We've both been through a great deal since we met (at work, 15 years ago), but we've always been there for each other. I love you Amanda, my sister from another mother x


19 May 2010


"Put your bags down" said Jackie. 

I put my bags down against the youth club wall like this was a reasonable everyday request. It wasn't. I quickly realised that I was surrounded by a large group of girls from the year above me.

Jackie punched me in the face. It didn't hurt as much as you would expect. 

My arms were still at my sides as Jackie punched me again. This time I could feel a sharp stinging in my cheek.

I was having a fight. How was this possible? I'd always avoided confrontation and had only ever hit my brother (like you do and even then I wasn't allowed to hit him hard because he was ill).

Jackie grabbed my hair and pulled my face down towards her raised knee.

Oh God. Don't cry, Sandra, don't cry.

I had to fight back otherwise I was going to get beaten up. I pulled away and lost a handful of hair. I tried to hit Jackie, but she seemed too far away. I tried to grab her hair and put her face on my knee but it felt like I was underwater. I was hurting now. My head hurt.

I could smell cheap hairspray and cigarettes covered up with Impulse body spray.

I looked up at one point to see Mrs Butcher driving the school mini-bus with her netball team in the back. Our eyes met. Mine pleading with hers. She drove off.

I was going to be late home.

"FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT" rang in my ears. It felt like the whole school was watching. No one helped me. No one tried to stop us tearing at each other like angry cats.

Satisfied she had taught me a lesson, Jackie shoved me away from her. Her gang greeted her with congratulatory back slaps and well done Jackies. Someone lit a cigarette for the victor. She took it, half grinning, half wincing. They walked away.

I brushed myself down, watching clumps of my hair carried by the breeze. I picked my bags up and walked home alone.


That was 26 years ago. It turns out that I had snogged Jackie's boyfriend, Steve, one afternoon in a small town churchyard. I didn't know he was Jackie's boyfriend, but apparently that was my crime. I was 14 years old, naive, cheeky and invincible. I was wearing my 'Frankie says RELAX don't do it' t-shirt. When my friends and I walked past him and his mates, he said "Steve says relax, do it".  I never saw him again, but ended up with two black eyes for a quick kiss.

My Mum said I was bullied because I was pretty and clever. Sometimes it can be any excuse, the way you dress or speak for instance. The school, unhelpfully, said I shouldn't walk around on my own. These bullies made my life a misery until they left the following year. This was the first of many incidents, although I was too scared to fight back after that. The worst incident resulted in a suspected fractured skull and rather a lot of blood down the back of my coat.

I still look over my shoulder in that small town.

This is a pretty extreme example of bullying and it scares me that one day my boys may be picked on. My experience hasn't made me any tougher. I've had low self-esteem ever since. I really don't know how to protect them.

This post was written for the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. This week I chose prompt no.4 Have you ever felt bullied? At school? At work? In your personal life? How did you deal with that? Tell us your story.


18 May 2010

Can You Guess What it is Yet?

Can you guess what this is?

No, it's not that.

Go on, have another guess.

No. What ever you guessed, it's probably incorrect.

Here's a close-up:

Presley, two and a half, was extremely proud of his handiwork.

I think his meatball and chip constructions should win the Turner Prize.

There's more than one of them, you know.

Here's his little production line:

Okay, okay, I'll put you out of your misery.

It's an ice-cream cone.

Yep, you heard.

According to Presley he was making ice-cream cones.

I still think it looks like a cock and balls, but what do I know?!


17 May 2010

The Gallery: Self-Portrait

It's time for the Sticky Fingers Gallery. The theme this week is self-portrait.

I was particularly moved by Tara's explanation as to why she chose this theme:

The theme is actually inspired by Laura at Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy who wrote something that really touched me a few weeks ago and I want to 'celebrate' it through The Gallery.

On tenterhooks yet?

She wrote about photographs of her mum, who died when Laura was just 9.
For someone who has been voted in the Funnest Blog category of The MADS, she sure made me catch my breath with that post!
She wrote: "Luckily I have photos, quite a few in fact. I don’t just look at the photos, I pore over them I wonder what she was thinking, doing, wearing … just any glimpse of anything that makes me feel a bit closer to her.
Now that I am a mother they mean even more to me . . . "

And then on the same post, Mrs W commented: "This is the post that every one of us who has spent years avoiding having our photo taken should read. I’m striving to redress that little phobia – we all should."

Well, I'm going someway to help redress that balance today.
Imagine in years to come, your children looking back over photographs of their childhood. Are you in it? Are you always behind the camera?
Our photographs are the story of our lives, and even if you aren't a parent you need to be in it.
I know many many people hate pictures of themselves - myself included - so if you don't want to post one to your blog just think about what I've said and start making that change.

I am always behind the camera. ALWAYS. I think there are only a handful of photographs of me with my children. In most of them I'm leaning out of shot. Where you can see me I hate to look at my face. It's too big and my skin is not good. Most of the time I'm having a bad hair day. None of these photographs have made it into the family albums.


My boys love their mummy. I'm sure they only see the Mummy they love and none of the imperfections that I see. From now on I will smile proudly in all photographs and even put some of them in the family album. After all I was there.

Thank you Tara and Laura and MrsW for making me realise how shallow and selfish I was being.


I hope you will forgive me for using a photograph that was taken by a professional photographer earlier this week and published in the Lancashire Evening Post today. It's better than any self-portrait I could have taken with the camera at arm's length!

This is me and I hope my boys are proud of their Mummy.

Photo credit

14 May 2010

Happy Birthday Dear Baby Baby...

Baby Baby is one today!

Where has the last year gone? It has certainly been a busy and eventful year.

I want to start this post by saying a huge thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to anyone who has read, followed, commented on or linked to my blog. It is because of your support that Baby Baby does so well in the Tots100 index of UK parent bloggers.

I have made many wonderful online friends through blogging, far too many to mention by name. I have even met bloggers in real life through British Mummy Bloggers events (and I can confirm that they each only have the one head!) and I'm looking forward to meeting many more soon at Cybermummy.

I have started writing for pleasure, both on and off the blog. Thank you Jenn, Josie and Tim for encouraging and inspiring me.


I have enjoyed the odd freebie, none more exciting than the edible ones:

Not only are Chippidydoodaas are the best named snack in the world ever, they are also made from baked pitta bread and are DELICIOUS!

Thank you too to The Gourmet Chocolate Pizza Company for sending me this box of gorgeousness in readiness for the World Cup:

I think there will be a few of us World Cup Widows about in a month's time, so what better way to cheer ourselves up than by ordering chocolate online!


The cherry on my blogging cake has been The MAD blog awards, sponsored by Butlins. I was happy enough just to be nominated, but was over the moon to hear that Baby Baby is a finalist in the Most Inspirational Blog category, sponsored by Plum Baby. I don't expect to win, after all I'm up against some wonderful blogs:

If you haven't voted yet, there is still time. The are 50 finalists, so plenty of wonderful blogs to explore before you vote.


Above all I blog because I enjoy it. I have limited time to spend on myself, but one year on I'm still as enthusiastic about blogging as when I started. Who knows what will happen in the next year?

Now, who wants a slice of birthday cake?


13 May 2010

Review: Oh Baby London

It's official, I love Oh Baby London. Their tag line is 'clothes for lucky children' and that is spot on.

Their ranges include iconic playsuits, witty tops, supercool bottoms, rock and roll nappy pants and gorgeous newborn gifts,

Oh Baby London asked me to review some of their clothes. I chose a t-shirt each for Presley and Cash and they arrived in a cool tin lunchbox (only £4.50).

Presley looks amazing in this black tie t-shirt (£18).

Cash looks cool in this Mexican Rock t-shirt (£18).

Here is the back. We LOVE it:

To keep your designer t-shirts looking good you need to wash them at 30 degrees and do not tumble dry. I can live with that!

Oh Baby London is the place to go for fabulous funky fashion and gets the Baby Baby two thumbs up (yeah, yeah, I'm no nearer getting a badge made)! 


12 May 2010

It Wasn't Me!

Now, I don't usually post press releases...


..well, theft is theft!

500 LEGO car wheels disappeared
23 pieces from the Selfridges Bullring gone
One entire Blackpool tram snaffled
Since opening almost two months ago, the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre at the Trafford Centre in Manchester has lost almost 3000 significant pieces of LEGO.

This is not counting the thousands of standard bricks that have been lost or taken home by mistake.

Keen to reclaim these essential pieces, the attraction has launched an amnesty scheme to appeal to the people of Manchester to check their pockets for any items that may have mistakenly made their way back to visitor’s homes following an afternoon at the Centre.

The MINIFIGURES that have gone missing from MINILAND include a specially created Stig lookalike and a Wayne Rooney.

It is mainly MINILAND that has suffered with an entire tram from Blackpool going missing, but there have also been over 500 wheels replaced in the Build and Test area since the attraction opened.

Neil Crittenden, General Manager of LEGOLAND Discovery Centre said:

“We’ve enjoyed an incredibly successful launch period, and have to date welcomed thousands of keen LEGO fans!  However, it seems some of our visitors have enjoyed their visit so much that they have chosen to take a piece of the attraction home – perhaps to continue practicing their building skills. 

“Our Master Model Builder Alex has been constantly replenishing the attraction with MINIFIGURES, bricks and wheels to ensure guests have plenty to play with, but is wasn’t until this weekend’s audit that we realised the full extent of the missing stock.  We purposely wanted to ensure visitors could get as close as possible to the features of the Centre, but are now having to draw up plans to protect the buildings following guests getting a little too hands-on with the exhibits.  We’re now appealing for the safe return of our missing items, rewarding those honest Mancunians with a voucher for discounted entry”.

The LEGO amnesty box, which will of course be made of LEGO, will be placed in the attraction’s shop so that items can discreetly be posted back and re-homed back in the Centre.

Tickets for the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre cost from £9.30 when booked online at www.LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentre.co.uk.

The Centre is open from 10am seven days a week. Closing times vary from 5pm – see website for details.

Who on earth would steal LEGO bricks? Are we a nation of kleptomaniacs? What is wrong with people?

Go on, take it back you horrible lot!



11 May 2010

True Happiness

What brings you true happiness?

For me, it is this:

My little boys, Presley and Cash.

If you, like me, are lucky enough to have children you will know true happiness. Maybe not all the time. Lord knows there have been days recently when I've counted down the minutes until bedtime. Twice last week I despaired at my parenting abilities and sat and cried.


But there are moments when I look at my sons, my beautiful boys and marvel at them. As Henri wrote this week in the excellent From Marketing to Milk "You’re given the power of magic. To create a person.". It is magic, it is a miracle that Andy and I created these two amazing children.

They are part of us. I gave birth to them. I pushed these babies out of my tired, pain-wracked body. 

They look a bit like us. This amuses me, it's also a bit weird!

I am astounded by their development. They really are like sponges at the moment. Learning and processing information. They have little discussions, they talk to each other. Andy and I sit and listen with massive grins on our faces.

They didn't now what clouds were, so they guessed. Presley said they were 'lambs in the sky' and Cash said 'snowman'.

When I hold them in my arms, when I am close enough to smell their little breaths, I never want to let them go.

This post was writing as part of the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. This week I chose prompt no.1 Write about a place, a time, a moment, that taught you something about true happiness.


I am over the moon that Baby Baby is a finalist in The MAD (Mummy And Daddy) blog awards in the category Most Inspirational Blog. If you would like to vote click on The Mads and check out some amazing blogs.



10 May 2010

RBC Race for the Kids

I am delighted to be able to tell you about an event that takes place next month in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. My late brother spent a great deal of time in this wonderful place and it remains one of my favourite charities.

Here are the details:

This summer get the whole family in shape on Sunday 6 June 2010 and join hundreds of runners of all ages and celebrity supporters taking part in the RBC Race for the Kids in Battersea Park to raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

The Charity, together with new sponsor Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) - the largest bank in Canada and the 13th largest bank in the world, with a significant presence in London - is asking supporters to take part in the 5km fun run and help make a difference to the thousands of children who are treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital every year. All the money raised from the RBC Race for the Kids will help to fund the essential redevelopment of the Hospital.

Roving entertainers, prize-giving, face-painting, goodie bags and plenty of refreshments for participants are some of the activities planned to keep runners and supporters on their toes on the day.

West End star Jodie Prenger who is supporting the event says, “The RBC Race for the Kids is going to be a fantastic day out! It’s only 5km - you’ll get fit and, more importantly, you’ll be helping thousands of very sick young patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital."

The RBC Race for the Kids takes place at 10am on Sunday 6 June in Battersea Park and is designed for every ability and age, providing fun and fitness for all.

To sign up please visit www.raceforthekids.co.uk.



9 May 2010

The Gallery: Men!

The theme for the Sticky Fingers Gallery this week is men.

Are you all tutting and rolling your eyes?!

This photograph may or may not have been staged. My husband wouldn't dare dream of leaving his pants and socks on the floor.



8 May 2010

Good Enough

Is good enough, well, good enough?

In another life I was a perfectionist. In my career I set myself high standards. I met deadlines. I had a clean house and a tidy garden. I was in control.

Then I had children.

When you have children you can't be a perfectionist. They are actually quite selfish and demanding - who knew?! You are no longer in control of when you eat or sleep. Every time you think you've got a routine they change on you. The old switcheroo.

My house gets cleaned when I notice that it needs doing instead of every day or week. Is this good enough?

My husband is no longer the total focus of my life. Sometimes he isn't even second in my affections, especially in the evenings when I'm on my laptop. This isn't good enough.

I'm rubbish at keeping in touch with my friends, it can take me months to reply to emails. Again, not good enough.

Now to the big question. Am I a good enough mother?

I love my children more than life. I would do anything for them. Am I a natural mother? Am I maternal? I'd like to think so, but I constantly feel that I could do better.

Take food for example. Presley and Cash eat pretty well, but I often hide vegetables in sauces. Even so they don't always have their five-a-day. Sometimes I forget to offer them a drink. Presley won't drink milk from a cup so I give him Coco Pops and he swigs chocolate milk from the cereal bowl. Is this good enough? I think I could do better.

They watch some television. Not much, but more than I would like. I use CBeebies as a babysitter so I can cook their dinner while I drink a hot cup of tea in peace.

I do some cooking and craft activities with the boys, but nowhere near as much as I could. I'm not good with mess and am glad there is a craft table at playgroup. I do spend quite a bit of time just watching them play with their toys. I think it is important that they can amuse themselves and they are playing together more and more, but should I be doing more with them?

I don't take both of them to the park on my own as they both run in different directions, usually towards swinging swings. I feel like I'm letting them down because they were born so close together. I use the age gap as an excuse to stay at home sometimes.

Is this good enough? Am I a good enough mother? Andy thinks so. As far as we can tell, Presley and Cash think so. They are lovely little boys. They are happy, clean and healthy.

Why then am I so hard on myself?

I never think I am good enough, but every day I try to do better. Tomorrow is another day. Perhaps tomorrow I will think I'm good enough.


This post was written for the BMB carnival that is being held on Tuesday at A Place of My Own. All entries must have a song title as the post title. My title is 'Good Enough' by Dodgy.


3 May 2010

Blankety Blank

Are you familiar with the gameshow Blankety Blank? Basically contestants and celebrities had to fill in the blanks - with hilarious consequences. For example, blank house could be White house, Wendy house or Bobmonk house. I know, not particularly hilarious - but you get the idea?

I don't like to swear online, so you'll need to play Blankety Blank along with me here.

I'm blank furious. I'm blank livid. Today some blankety blank in a BMW honked his blank horn at my two year old son. What a blankety blank.

We were crossing the road about twenty metres from a fairly busy junction. I was pushing Cash in the buggy and Presley was walking, holding his Dad's hand. We always follow the Green Cross Code. We only cross the road when we can't see or hear a single car.

We were over half way across the road when a blank in a BMW flew around the corner.

Did I mention that Presley is only two, with little two year old legs?

So the blank BMW driver, instead of just easing off the accelerator slightly for a couple of seconds to let us get on the path safely the blankety blanking blankety blank sped up, did an exaggerated swerve and honked his blank horn.

He honked his blank horn at my baby.

What did he hope to achieve? We weren't in the wrong. We were crossing a residential road as fast as we could. Luckily Andy and Presley kept walking when he honked his horn. No one fell over.

Does the blank also honk his horn at people in wheelchairs, horses, cyclists? Yes, probably, because he is a blankety blank and a blank.


I was speechless and then a bit shocked. I thought I was going to cry. What a blank thing to do.

Okay, enough of the blanks now.

And relax.

2 May 2010

The Gallery: Blackpool Tower

The theme this week for the Sticky Fingers Gallery is let's all share a secret. Let's all paint a picture of the world we live in: The hidden bits, the bits you feel are special and people should know about. The bits people wouldn't necessarily see.

I knew exactly what I wanted to photograph. It is the view from my in-laws' front window. On a clear day you can see Blackpool Tower, twenty miles away.

I liked the idea of calling this photograph Blackpool Tower. Whenever I look out of this window I check if the Tower is visible. There are no kiss-me-quick hats or beeping amusement arcades, no hen parties or chips on the pavement. What you do see is some stunning Lancashire countryside.

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