29 September 2010

Handbags and Guitars

My husband and I are a bit like ships that pass in the night at the moment. 

In spite of this, we are quite old-fashioned and still rather romantic. We write each other little love notes.

Here is an example:

Some background may help to decipher this love letter. Earlier this year I bought a Radley handbag. It is roomy and practical, but it's not my dream handbag. When I came home with it, Andy asked how much it was and promptly bought a guitar of the same value. 

Then when I came back from Bicester Village with a few little bits and pieces *ahem*, Andy bought another guitar.

You see where I'm going with this? I get a handbag, Andy gets a guitar. Or vice versa. So when my new John Lewis catalogue arrived and I saw the Mulberry Alexa in GRAPE, well, I wrote the note.

Andy's response to my love note? He said '£695! How do they make a profit?'. Then his eyes showed guitar signs and he mumbled something about a Fender Stratocaster costing around that much. 

Of course Andy doesn't really need a new guitar and I don't really need a new handbag (oh yeah, and we haven't yet won the lottery), but my goodness, isn't it a gorgeous bag?!



At the Beach

We love bargains here at Baby Baby and they do say the best things in life are free...
One of our favourite free activities is spending time at the beach. We're very lucky to live just half an hour away from a beautiful sandy beach.  We go to St Anne's beach on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. It is charming and old-fashioned, the complete opposite of it's noisy neighbour (the one with the tower).
We take a picnic blanket, sun cream, water and buckets and spades. The boys love to run on the sand. If the tide is out it takes forever to get to the sea. Then we find somewhere to sit - there is always plenty of space - and we dig holes and make sand castles.
The boys haven't quite got the hang of this yet and we all get frustrated when a bucket full of sand is tipped over from a great height. When it does work, it is wonderful to see the joy on their little faces. I'm sure in a couple of years they will get the hang of it and we can look forward to castles and moats. Until then we will enjoy the simples pleasures of sitting on a beach without a care in the world and endure sand getting everywhere.
As if free entertainment wasn't enough, how about free food?

Pizza Hut  have been running an excellent offer this summer that allows kids under 12 to eat for free.
The Kids Eat Free offer has been extended to 9th January 2011.
Find more details about the offer at http://bit.ly/a1DhgJ

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23 September 2010

Delusions of Adequacy

As a perfectionist it is difficult to have delusions of adequacy. I aspire to have delusions of adequacy.

There is a running theme in my writing and that is whether I'm a good enough mother. I know that by caring enough about my children to question my parenting clearly demonstrates that I'm not a terrible mother.


I can't shake this nagging feeling that everyone else is better at it than me.

I want to relax and let go of my control freak tendencies, but they've been with me for years. They helped me in my accounting career, but they're no use to me now I'm a stay at home mum. Young children are unpredictable. In fact the only thing that you can be sure of is that they are their own people. They aren't compliant robots. Their personalities are bursting to get out and develop along side speech and motor skills. 

My job is to provide a safe and loving environment where they can bloom. Am I doing this when I'm rolling my eyes and screaming with exasperation when Cash tips over his drink deliberately again? Does it matter if I have to change his clothes again? I know it doesn't, but at the time it's infuriating.

I try to chose my battles. There are some issues where I will not compromise and my word is law. If we're in the front garden and they step one milimetre beyond the missing gate we immediately go back inside. If they throw a toy it gets taken away. Mostly I try to let them do their own thing. They are 'good' children. They are polite, caring and so so sweet, but of course, they have their moments.

This week I gave them some chalks for their blackboard. Presley, 3, accidentally broke a few. Cash, 2, systematically broke each one he picked up. I told him that if he continued I would stop him. He continued. My normally easy-going little boy was being naughty. I wasn't sure what to do. I picked him up and sat him on my lap and explained that what he had done was wrong, we had to look after our things. He cried and said he wanted to play with the chalks. I cobbled together some brand new discipline technique (partly inspired by Supernanny) and told him he had to sit on my knee for two minutes, say sorry and then he could carry on playing.

We don't have a naughty step, we haven't needed one (although when we had a playpen it was called 'the pen' at times). I thought the two minutes would be up and that would be that. Oh no. Cash totally surprised me by stubbornly refusing to say sorry. FOR 75 MINUTES. 

You know when you start something and it seems like a good idea, then you realise it was a hopeless idea, but can't back down? That's where I was this week. Presley was apologising on his brother's behalf, bless him. I ended the stand-off, or should I say sit-off, by putting Cash in his booster seat to eat the tea I hadn't yet made. The boys had a hastily thrown together cold salad instead of the planned hot meal.

So you see, I feel like a failure, a ridiculous failure. Nowhere near adequate.

Who knew that looking after children was so difficult sometimes? I didn't, but of course I wouldn't change them for the world. Especially not when they play at going shopping wearing hats and Mummy's shoes.



22 September 2010

Wordless Wednesday: My Autumn Garden


20 September 2010

Ewan McGregor has a message for you

Please take two minutes to watch Ewan McGregor appeal for the victims of the Pakistan flood on behalf of UNICEF.

Thank you.


17 September 2010

I Want My Mummy

"I WANT MY MUMMY. I WANT MY MUMMY", screamed the little boy.

His outstretched arms desperately trying to reach his mother.  His mother was walking away, pushing her younger son in a buggy. The other woman, in the blue apron, gripped the frantic little boy tightly to her hip. His face red and wet, he tried again.


The mother swallowed hard and walked out of the door.  Once outside, out of sight of both of her children, she sobbed silently. The mother felt her heart ripping into pieces. She knew she had made the right decision, for the right reasons, but this was almost unbearable.

Eventually the screaming stopped. The mother wiped her eyes with her fingers and took her youngest son home.


If you hadn't guessed, this was me this week leaving three year old Presley at nursery for the first time. And the second time.

He had a great time, once he had stopped crying. As I collected him each day he told me what he had played with, what he had for his snack, that he saw a dog. He knows that on Wednesdays and Thursdays now he goes to nursery. He is happy to go - in theory - he just hates it when I have to leave.

I knew it would be distressing for both of us to make the move towards his independence. He had previously only been left with his grandparents for short periods. Nursery is a big step. 

The other woman was one of the nursery teachers, she also runs the toddler group that we go to. Presley knows and likes her. She is kind, patient and wonderful with children. If she hadn't been there at nursery I wouldn't have left my boy with them if he didn't want to be there. I certainly wouldn't have handed him over as I did. She rang me both days to tell me how quickly he had settled and that he was playing happily.

It's still one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I hope he settles quickly next week.

Oh and little two year old Cash, well, he had the house and the toys to himself for two mornings this week. He didn't know what to do with himself. We both idly played with Presely's toys, waiting until midday when we could go and collect him.



16 September 2010

The Magical New Disney Store at Milton Keynes

Wow, just wow!

I was invited to take a sneak peak at the revamped Disney Store in Milton Keynes. Luckily Milton Keynes is sort of on the way home from Bognor Regis to Preston, so I was able to attend.

The store opened its doors yesterday. If you are anywhere near Milton Keynes, or even if you aren't, the new Disney Store is a must see. Disney have created a magical experience in their store with a high-tech makeover - the first of its kind in England.

I was a little cynical before I arrived (after all it's a shop, they want you to buy stuff), but after about thirty seconds in the store I was a little girl again. At one point I even clapped my hands in excitement.

The store has an opening ceremony where one lucky child gets to unlock the shop with a giant key. Once inside moving images are projected onto trees. Try to spot the Mickey Mouse sillouhettes. A sparkly path takes you through the store.

On your way you can enter a fairy princess castle. Wave a wand and the mirror magically comes alive.

Summon Tinkerbell by clapping, she will appear on the skyline.

One surprise was the events space that will host daily activities including an imagination parade, learning Hannah Montana dances, quizzes and animation classes. This Disney Store Theatre takes up a fairly large chunk of retail space, but totally enhances the store experience. Children can chose from over fifty cartoons to watch. If it's a special occasion, such a your birthday, you can pose for a photograph next to your name on the giant screen, accompanied by special music and fireworks.

At the end of the day there is a closing ceremony to complete the experience.

As you can tell, I was blown away.

The official opening of the Milton Keynes Disney Store takes place on 25th September. Join Paige O'Hara, the voice of Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Mickey and Minnie, Belle and the Beast and other favourite characters throughout the day.

Other news hot off the press is that there will be a new Disney Store opening at 350 Oxford Street, London in spring 2011.

You can keep up to date with Disney Store on Facebook and Twitter.

Huge thanks to Jonathan and Amy from Disney Stores and Emily from Taste PR for our exclusive guided tour, goody bag and vouchers.

I bought a Woody costume for each of the boys. Cute or what?!


15 September 2010

Fifty Go MAD in Bognor

I attended the first ever MAD blog awards on Monday. It is now Wednesday and I'm still nursing a hangover!

Let me set the scene for you. There were about fifty bloggers (plus judges and sponsors), most of them without children, on a night out away from home. There was wine on the table. On my table I was the only one drinking white wine. It would, of course, have been churlish not to drink it all.

I had a ball. I love the fact that you can meet someone for the first time (in real life) and yet you know all about them through blogging. So you act like you've been friends for years and you end up at a disco in a Butlins bowling alley at 1am dancing the Macarena.

My highlights would have to include:

Spending the best part of two days in a car with Lindy from Squidgyboo. Seriously, if you're going to spend hours and hours in a confined space with someone, you need to get on with them. And, boy, did we get on. I don't think there was more than 30 seconds silence at any point on our road trip.

Meeting beautiful baby soa from Making it up and her mum too of course.

Collecting the Best Baby Blog Award on behalf of Babyrambles. I still have her award. I may post it to her. Possibly.

Cheering the winner of my category, Most Inspirational Blog, Strange & Beautiful. Rachel is really lovely and a thoroughly deserving winner. Well, I cheered until I realised I hadn't won and I had to text my husband, my mum and my best friend to tell them I was a loser!

Seeing Tim from Bringing Up Charlie totally overwhelmed to win Best Blog Writer and Blogger of the Year. Well done, Tim.

Spending time with lovely old friends and making new ones.

Sharing another bottle of wine with New Mummy, when really we should have moved on to water - or gone to bed.

I could go on, my apologies if I've missed you out of my round-up. I have a headache!

Oh and finally being able to say I have been to Butlins!

Huge congratulations to all the winners and runners up and massive thanks to the organiser extraordinaire, Sally, and all of the sponsors. There will be video and photographic evidence of the ceremony and more on The MADs website soon.

Now, where did I put the Nurofen?


8 September 2010

We Were On A Break!

We were on a break, a blogging break.

My Mum was here for her annual visit and I didn't want to spend all of it behind a laptop, although when she wanted to read her book...

So what happened while we were (mostly) offline?

We had some birthdays. Cash was two, then Andy was, erm, 29 again and then Presley was three. They still haven't opened all their presents! 

Presley took his first photographs, I think Andy helped a little setting this one up.

We walked on the beach in some beautiful September sunshine.

We made sandcastles.

We sat in holes.

We went to Ikea. It was a rather successful trip. We got there as it opened, bought everything on our list, ate meatballs and left the tea-lights alone. We bought the boys one of these gorgeous quilts each, the photograph really doesn't do it justice.

We said goodbye to baby curls as Cash had his first haircut. 

We got new jobs. We're Toys R Us Toyologists. Toys R Us have recruited forty families from around the UK, known for their online presence, to review toys. This lot was in the first box. We won't keep all of the toys. We'll be holding Toyologist tea parties where toys will be put through their paces in toddler groups, hospitals and children's homes. Reviews to follow...

... Speaking of reviews.

Drumroll please.

I've started a new blog.


From now on I'll be posting all reviews on a dedicated reviews blog called...

(Another drumroll)


I think we're almost up to date now. 

Mum left yesterday and gets home tomorrow! She lives a long way away and is having a stopover in Singapore to break up the journey.

We've all had colds and one or other of the boys has vomited every day and night since Sunday - yes, another bug. I spent most of the day today on the sofa with two poorly boys, covered in towels (just in case). I'm tired.

Presley missed his first day at nursery today too.

Hey ho. I'm off to apologise yet again to the washing machine.


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