25 April 2012

Blog Camp

I made it to Blog Camp last Saturday in a haze of painkillers.

Did I learn anything? Well, my notes include the phrases quirky cats and social signals, so on first glance the answer appears to be no.

Luckily plenty of other bloggers have written about what was discussed at each workshop - all the links are on the Tots100 blog.

I went to the first Blog Camp in London last year. The theme was how to become a more professional blogger. There were sessions on building your brand, SEO and design. I came away feeling pleased I finally understood SEO, but have I done anything with that knowledge? No. I decided I was happy pootling along with Baby Baby. I kept it ticking over, but it wasn't really going anywhere. That was fine, my free time is limited.

I initially got a ticket to Blog Camp Birmingham so I could catch up with my friends. There are too many to name here (and to be honest I can't be bothered to add in all the links). If we chatted or hugged or smiled at each other thinking I'm sure I know that face, then insert your name here - you know who you are. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal and there were plenty of coffee breaks.

What I have taken away this time is a renewed enthusiasm for blogging. I am inspired, not only by the sessions (although they were excellent for the most part), but by the discussions in between.

I have already tried snarking and found that I love it. I hammered away at my keyboard earlier this week ranting about The Voice. I expect I'll do it again. After all, The Apprentice is on tonight... As a snark target I do think it's too easy though. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel. I'm certainly going to get off the fence and not be afraid to voice my opinions. 

I have so many ideas buzzing around (in the gaps in my brain that the co-codamol can't reach). I don't have time to implement all of them now, but they'll keep. 

The best bit? Blog Camp was free and you had to look very hard to see a sponsor...


22 April 2012

So The Voice isn't that different after all

I loved The Voice when it first started.

At last, I thought, blind auditions. The judges can't see the acts, so image doesn't play a part. That's refreshing, I thought.

The Voice made me laugh about ten times in each episode when they call the judges the BIGGEST NAMES IN POP. Yes, Tom Jones is a legend. Yes, one-hit-wonder Jessie J is big right now. There's wacky will-i-am. He's cute and funny AND talented and my new favourite person off the telly. Then there's Danny O'Donoghue from The Script. I still have no idea who he is. Can someone please explain what he does apart from ask the others 'are you going?'?

That aside, I was perfectly happy to spend my Saturday evening watching something not made by Simon 'Shagger' Cowell.

The main reason I hate the X-Factor and Britain's Got Talent is the whole SuBo thing. Susan Boyle shuffles on to the stage. She looks a bit funny, a few sandwiches short of a picnic. The judges snigger behind their hands. The audience openly laugh. Then she starts singing. Her voice is incredible, clear, strong and stunning. Aha, everyone says, don't judge a book by its cover. She is talented. Everyone cheers. Hurrah.

BUT what if she couldn't sing? The audience would have thrown their metaphorical tomatoes at her. How dare she get on their stage? Daft cow. The message from these shows is that unless you have a 'talent' you're worthless. I don't know SuBo, but I'd imagine she has plenty of wonderful qualities. If she couldn't sing she'd still have those qualities, but she'd have been humiliated on national television.

People do argue that X-Factor and BGT aren't modern day freak shows. The people auditioning know the score and if they're deluded enough to put themselves on the goggle-box then they deserve everything they get. I don't agree. I don't like the mocking cruelty. I particularly dislike the way the rejects are paraded for our entertainment during the final.

Anyway, back to The Voice. This weekend has seen THE BATTLE. They've even made the perspex stage into a boxing ring. Yawn. We're told that each judge needs to see their acts perform two at a time. They sing  the same Aretha Franklin songs we've heard a gazillion times before. The artists try to out-shout, sorry, out-sing each other so the judges can decide who they take through to the live shows. After the shout-off the judges pretend to be making the most difficult decision of their lives.

I just don't buy it.

When I saw the pairings last night I correctly predicted NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN who would go through before they'd opened their massive gobs.

You see, now it's not just about the voice, it's about image and back-story. Of course Amy Winehouse's mate goes through. Of course Jaz goes through, even with bronchitis and a chest infection, because he made will-i-am squeeze out a tear last week singing 'Ordinary People'. Of course Bo, the posh bird with the annoyingly affected voice, goes through. She'll sell a few papers because her sister once played hockey with a Middleton. So far, so predictable.

I hope the live shows are entertaining and that the contestants go on a journey, but, sadly, we've seen it all before.

What do you think?

More importantly, who is Danny O'Donoghue?


Image credit

17 April 2012

Yakety Yak...

..oh my back.


You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. This is especially true of backs. The niggle became an ache. The ache became pretty uncomfortable and now I am in agony whenever I try to move.

I saw an osteopath today. He mentioned something about discs 3 and 4, and maybe 5. I had some treatment today and I'm going back on Thursday.

I am feeling extremely sorry for myself. Presley and Cash are being super helpful, but I hate having to tell them that I can't pick them up.

Please send painkillers, get well soon vibes and maybe some gin.

I'm also going to try The Moiderer's pain cure MP3, free to download if you sponsor her for the London Marathon on Sunday. There is also an iPod to be won for guessing her time. Good luck, Dawn!


Pampers Little Athlete

PR: Would you like to meet Paula Radcliffe?
Me: Yes.

If only all blogger outreach campaigns were as amazing as this.

Pampers have launched some limited edition Team GB Active-Fit nappies ready for the London 2012 Olympic Games. In a way I'm disappointed that my toilet-trained boys won't be wearing these. Look, they've got a union flag on and everything:

Pampers also have a Youtube channel full of cute videos of Paula and her son, Raphael, celebrating the unique play of our children:

Pampers Facebook page has a fab competition running (click on the Little Athletes tab). By sharing your top playtime tips and pictures you could win some fab goodies. Paula will be picking the winners. Good luck!

It was a privilege to chat with Paula about her children, her life, her health and her career. She was open and friendly. If winning the Olympic gold in the women's marathon could be brought about by sheer determination and good wishes then world record holder Paula would have it in the bag. I'll be cheering for her for all I'm worth.

Not only did I meet my sporting hero at a jolly event in London, I was also able to ask Pampers Village Parenting Panel child development expert, Dr Maggie Redshaw, a few questions too. We talked about physical play and of the importance of running around, both structured (football, etc.) and free-range.

Disclosure: huge thanks to P&G, Pampers and Fleishman Hillard for paying my travel expenses into London and for the goodie bags for the boys. We can't wait to hang up our bunting!


12 April 2012

I Just Want You to be Happy, Mummy

I was a new mother. It was all I had ever wanted. I had a tiny baby in my arms. I was trying to feed him, but he wasn't latching on properly. I was hot and tired and stressed and worried. He looked at me, his dark eyes trying to focus on his mummy. I realised my face showed all too clearly how I felt. I wasn't smiling at my darling baby. As I forced my face into a grin, tears made their way out.

I've now been a mother for fours years and seven months. My children are amazing, they bring me joy and still I forget to smile at them. 

I am tired and stressed and worried. My old back injury has flared up and I am in pain. My movements are limited. I can't pick up my boys. If I get down on the floor to play with them I struggle to get back up. I am worried about my mum's test results. I am worried about my friend who has cancer. I am worried that I have upset another friend. I am worried that whatever I say will make things worse. I just want to make things better. I never seem to have enough time to get done all that I want to do. I am easily distracted by the internet and can lose hours making sure I'm not missing anything. I'm not, but that doesn't ever stop me idly flicking between Twitter, Facebook and all my email accounts and Google Reader. My laptop is on it's last legs so I can't watch video or look at images. Even Pinterest makes my laptop to overheat and switch itself off.

Being a parent far exceeds any expectations I had about having children when I was pregnant for the first time. 


There had to be a but. 

My goodness, it is hard work sometimes... most of the time.  My children are so full of energy I can't keep up. I know they need to run around outside, but just getting them dressed, getting their teeth clean, getting their shoes and coats on sometimes takes hours. They ignore me. They don't listen to me. They fight. They crayon on walls, chairs and computer screens. Okay, they did this once and I don't think they'll do it again, but still...

This gets me down. I shout at them, my dear sweet boys. I feel completely inadequate. I feel like everyone else is a better parent. 

When your four year old says 'I just want you to be happy, Mummy' and you realise you haven't been smiling at that beautiful face, that's when you fix a grin and resolve to be a better mother. Then you turn away and cry.



Review: Mini Micro Scooters

We were sent two Mini Micro Scooters to review.

When they arrived my children were the most excited I think I've ever seen them outside of Christmas. You see their best friends have these scooters and we have always been rather envious. Not any more. As soon as they were assembled (one piece to slide in, very simple) Presley and Cash wanted to go out on their new scooters. There was a brief delay because they wanted to add the stickers that came with the scooters and I wanted to read the safety guide - all common sense stuff, as you would expect.

They have been on scooters at toddler groups and at nursery, but only on basic models. Micro Scooters are the pinnacle of scootering! As they whizzed around the garden my boys soon got the hang of the the back foot brake and they also started to intuitively steer by moving their weight from side to side instead of turning the handles.

I love the design of the Mini Micro. It is clearly a quality product, safe and sturdy. This gives me a great deal of confidence. The colours are fantastic too. There are the usual blue, green and pink, plus neon brights - inspired by highlighter pens! Also check out the limited edition Union Jack scooters.

My favourite thing about Mini Micro Scooters is how confident my children are on them. I hate to label them as reserved, but they are not the type of children to charge head-long into anything. It takes them a while to build up their confidence on a climbing frame, for instance. So to see them on the scooters is a delight for me. 

This is Presley zooming along the side of the house, getting ready to break before he hits the gate. He looks coordinated and completely in control of his scooter.

We'll only need a few practise sessions in the park before we tackle the nursery run. This will speed up daily dawdle no end. I am seriously tempted to get the adult version so that I can keep up!


The original, award-winning Mini Micro Scooter T-Bar Blue is £49.95.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin