Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

January 31, 2011

Sleep? What's that?

I've just had two of the worst night's sleep in ages - up and down all night with my little boy who has a bad cough. The zombie-like state I woke up in this morning brought me right back to those endless, sleep-deprived nights as a new mum. I don't think there is anything harder about being a new parent than the shock of no sleep. We rock, soothe, pace the floorboards, sing, cry, sleep on the landing: anything. Just. Please. Let. My. Child. Sleep.

Just like thousands of other parents, Wendy Dean (pictured below) struggled to cope with her new baby who refused to sleep - and continued to refuse to sleep. When a second baby came along 20 months later, followed by twins a couple of years after that Wendy, as you can imagine, felt just a little bit knackered! Feeling that she wasn't getting the help she needed to encourage her son into a healthier pattern of sleep, she did her research, read all the books on the subject and finally found a way that worked for her and her son. She went on to write and publish her findings in 'The Baby Sleep System'.

Wendy has since joined the Pampers Village Parenting Panel as their sleep expert. The Panel consists of a range of experts to offer help and advice in many aspects of parenting. Wendy has worked with Pampers to develop four age-specific routines for encouraging good sleep habits. These four routines are for ages 0-3 months, 4-6 months, 7-12 months and 12+ months.

Speaking to Wendy recently she explained that in the majority of cases, sleep problems arise as a result of the baby being unable to soothe itself to sleep. She therefore focuses on what it is that the parents do to help their baby sleep and what they do when the baby wakes; if so, how can patterns and routines be changed?

Her Sleep System isn't just a book; parents can also use the online forums attached to the book to discuss specific problems with online experts about their individual circumstances. As Wendy says, "Every baby is different, so no sleep solution can be a 'one-size-fits-all'. Don’t be swayed by what’s going on with friends and their little ones. While it can be comforting to share and hear about others’ experiences, it can be daunting too. Many parents suffering from sleep deprivation are so exhausted that they feel very down and very isolated; they think they are they only ones in this situation and that they must be a bad parent. By providing an interactive forum online, they can get the support, encouragement and individual advice for their specific circumstances."

As more and more parents actively engage in online communities for help, support, advice and friendship, interactive forums which provide access to experts, such as the Pampers Parenting Village Panel and Wendy's Baby Sleep System, are excellent resources to have at your, very-weary, fingertips.

For more information on Wendy Dean's 'Baby Sleep System', visit

To read Wendy's top sleep tips, visit or the Pampers Village Parenting Panel.

In the meantime, I'm going to prop my eyes open with matchsticks, drink lots of coffee, splash cold water on my face and cling on until bedtime. Tonight's another night. Right?!


January 27, 2011

Help Save the Tiger with the World Wildlife Fund

This is a sponsored post on behalf of WWF.

2011 is the 50th anniversary of the World Wildlife Fund being created. This is an amazing, amazing organisation doing fantastic work to help preserve wild animals and their environments.

My children are fascinated by the natural world; they love any nature programmes on TV (the Blue Planet DVDs which were given away in The Sunday Times last year now get played more often than Fireman Sam, Thomas or Scooby Doo) and one of their favourite books is a huge encyclopedia of animals. It really, really saddens me to think that some animals and species which we talk about in this book and take for granted, may be gone from our world within our their lifetime.

One of WWFs main campaigns of the past few months has been a drive to increase wild tiger numbers. There are, unbelievably, now less than 3,200 tigers in the wild; a number which WWF hopes to double by 2022, the Chinese Year of the Tiger. In November 2010, the Tiger Conservation Forum was held in St Petersburg, Russia, to help raise global awareness of falling wild tiger numbers. You can read more about the outcome of the Forum here.

So, what can we do to help?

Well, one way is by giving a gift from the WWF range, such as the 'Help Save Wild Tigers' box, pictured above. Costing £19.99, the box contains a supersoft plush toy, fact booklet and One Planet booklet. Each box also has a specific website address where you can find out more information on a discounted animal adoption offer. There are 12 different animal boxes in the range; including those pictured below, polar bears, elephants, rhinos and a ridiculously cute turtle. I think these would bring a smile to any child's (or adults!) face and you know you are supporting an extremely worthy cause at the same time.

For details on all the 'Help Save Wild Animals' gift boxes, and other gift ideas, visit the WWF shop.

Thank you.


January 25, 2011

Dear so and so....oh yes, it's football related!

Dear Andy Gray,

Well, well, well, well, isn't this a fine mess you've got yourself into? What a big, brave, hilarious fellow you are with your witty, insightful - nay, hilarious - banter with your best buddy Richard.

How shocking it must have been for you to learn that a woman, an actual FEMALE would dare to wear some shorts and an 'officials' jersey and presume to know the off-side rule!! The mind boggles. No wonder you felt the need to undermine her professional ability and assess her looks.

But you obviously misunderstood the while thing, because quite clearly, she wasn't an actual match official at all, but just an innocent, local radio competition winner having a nice day out. She must have been because, as we all know, football isn't a game for women to be involved in, let alone officiate over. And as for the off-side rule - wow, this is just way too complex for women to even begin to fathom. I mean, how on earth could we be expected to understand something as tricky as that? Blimey, we only just figured out how to parallel park and change a lightbulb - give us a break.

As for the woman at the centre of all this, clearly, Ms Massey - the assistant referee - should have been at home painting her toenails or ironing some shirts or baking a cake or having a baby because, as we all know, that's all women are good for. Right?

I hope you are ashamed of your infantile comments - although I very much doubt it. You are probably sitting in a pub with your P45 and several of your mates having a good guffaw about the whole, silly incident while deciding whether the woman pouring your pint is decent looking or not.

Yours in absolute disbelief.

p.s. were you aware that it is actually the year 2011? No. Thought not.


January 24, 2011

No Tiger Mothers here; just pride

The five year old recently started dance lessons. He likes to 'bust a move' at home every now and again and we'd talked about starting dance lessons for a while. He'd always preferred to carry on with his football, but after watching the Diversity show on TV over Christmas, he seemed to find a new found respect for those talented young chaps and spent the next week going around with his baseball cap on backwards.

We have been to the class twice now. Twenty minutes into the first class he turned to me and gave me the biggest grin and a thumbs up. He couldn't wait to go again.

Last week was the second class and there was a much smaller group: only himself and three girls. He got stuck into the routine straight away - so far, so good. Then the teacher asked each child to do the routine on their own while the others watched. Gulp! My heart was in my mouth as he walked into the middle of the dance floor; wondering whether he would do it or get stage fright or just feel uncomfortable in front of the girls.

Not a bit of it! To my absolute delight, he stood there and danced his little socks off.

I was SO proud of him. What a long, long way we had come from a year ago when he started football lessons and spent the entire time clinging to my legs.

There has been a lot of coverage recently about Chinese Parenting and Tiger Mothers, following the article by Amy Chau in the Wall Street Journal. Anyone who knows me will confirm that I am definitely not a Tiger Mother (more like a tiger cub, if truth be known) and would be the last to push my children into anything they clearly didn't want to do. That said, if ever there was a case for encouraging your children to explore different experiences and sticking with something, even if it is tough at first, then seeing my little guy busting his moves last Monday is it.

He'll probably go off dancing completely by this time next year, but I'll wear my 'Mummy' badge with pride for as long as it lasts.


January 19, 2011

Sweet memories

I am obsessed with sweets at the moment; can't stop thinking about them, wrote a short story about them, felt the urge to blog about them, felt a bigger urge to eat a load of them...

But we're not talking about just any old sweets here. Not rubbish sweets like the free lollies the hairdresser gives to the boys or those awful things that come in tins with Ben 10 and Tinkerbell on the front at Christmas time.

I'm talking proper sweets. The sweets of my childhood. The sweets which still make me smile: midget gems, sherbet pips, pear drops, rhubarb and custard, floral gums...the things you bought a quarter of from the local shop and savoured every one until they started to stick to the bag they came in. I have vivid memories of the jars being lifted off the shelf and the contents being poured into a shiny metal dish on an old weighing scales.

Then there were the penny chews: fruit salad, mojos, blackjacks and drumstick lollies, sherbet fountains and sugar mice. Just fantastic, exciting sweets displayed in their proper boxes and wrapped up for you in a small, white paper bag.
I remember the whole concept of 'pick n mix' coming to the local Woolworths and it was all the rage - imagine, being able to just help yourself - to sweets! I look at those same pick n mix stalls now; plonked in the middle of the local shopping centre and at the entrance to the cinema and it seems such a rubbish way to get sweets. No magic. No atmosphere. No anticipation really. Just plastic boxes and cellophane bags and rubbish sweets to choose from.

Bring back the Willy Wonka style, 'olde fashioned sweete shoppe' I say, where 10p (or 10cent in my case) can get you a bag full of goodies and a smile from the nice lady/man who served you.

Who is with me??

Thank you to for the lovely images. Check their site out - it is sweetie heaven!


January 16, 2011

Hello. Have you met my imaginary friend?

Any 'Charlie and Lola' fans out there will know that the picture above is of Lola and her imaginary friend 'Soren Lorensen'. We love Charlie & Lola and we especially love Soren Lorensen; a brilliant creation who always appears in black and white, and occasionally is just a faint silvery outline, barely visible on the page.

I didn't have an imaginary friend as a child, so I am quite intrigued by my 3 year old's friendship with someone/something who he calls 'Baa' (I'm guessing that is how the name is spelt, but having never met the fellow/lady/creature, I could be mistaken).

'Baa' turned up about a year ago and has been mentioned quite regularly ever since, especially at bedtime when we are often reminded to, "say goodnight to Baa." Thankfully, my son and Baa's friendship hasn't yet resulted in us needing to set an extra place at the dinner table or invest in an extra car seat. In fact, details of Baa are sketchy and seem to change quite often. We haven't yet established whether Baa is male or female, but we think we're pretty certain that he/she lives in England.

More recently, another 'friend', who currently goes by the name of 'John Steven' has cropped up in conversation. I'm not sure whether he's a passing guest or will become a regular visitor. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure whether Baa and John Steven have been properly introduced to each other. The mind boggles.

Anyway, if anyone out there knows of a person who goes by the name of Baa, please let me know. I'd very much like to meet him.

Do your children have imaginary friends and what do you think of it if they do?


January 11, 2011

I have never.....

On The Graham Norton Show last weekend (yes, my weekends are THAT exciting), there was some discussion about a show which one of his guests, Marcus Brigstocke, is hosting where celebs confess to things they have never done.

This caught my interest, especially as I have a BIG birthday looming this year, and I thought it was a good time to think of some things I have never done, and aim to rectify some, or all, of them during 2011. Now, of course it would be silly of me to list things like 'I have never landed on the moon' or 'I have never had legs like Elle McPherson' because, let's face it, those things are NEVER going to happen to me.

So, being very realistic, here is my 'I have never' list . I wonder how many I can convert to an 'I have' list before the year is out.

1. I have never watched 'It's A Wonderful Life' in full, despite owning a copy of it. I have also never seen 'Fatal Attraction', any of 'The Godfather' trilogy, 'Dr Zhivago', 'Schindler's List', or either of the 'Sex and the City' movies.
2. I have never read (among others) 'Little Women', 'The Catcher in the Rye', 'Huckleberry Finn', 'The Great Gatsby' or 'Frankenstein',
3. I have never been to New York, Budapest, Glasgow, Stockholm, Sligo or Wolverhampton (surely there's a chance I'll make it to one of these places in the next 12 months!).
4. I have never eaten a 'Fillet-o-Fish', a McFlurry, a king sized Mars Bar or a Hershey's Bar.
5. I have never seen an episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' or any of the CSI's.
6. I have never worn false eyelashes.
7. I have never been up for sunrise at a summer or winter solstice.
8. I have never done a parachute jump or a skydive (not sure I want to do either actually).
9. I have never had a book published (this is my year, this is my year, this is my year.....)
10. I have never made soda bread or pizza dough (hangs head in domestic shame).
11. I have never worn Chanel No. 5.
12. I have never been arrested (and am perfectly happy to leave it that way).
13. I have never drunk a vodka martini - shaken, or stirred.
14. I have never been in a limo.

So, that's the list so far, although I already get the feeling that I'll want to keep adding to it in a 'My Name is Earl' kinda way.

So, what have you never done and is 2011 the year to do it?


January 9, 2011

The Great Indoors

It was 6pm on a wild, wet and windy evening. Two small boys bravely battled their way up the steep incline (stairs) to their selected campsite (the attic) with only a few carefully selected teddies and a Winnie-the-Pooh and a cow torch to light their way.

Up ahead (in the attic) their mother (me) struggled to get their small, tent (normally used on the beach to prevent UVA light) to stay upright. The ground was too solid (wooden and indoors) to hammer in the pegs, so she frantically searched the immediate vicinity (the rest of the attic) for alternative means to secure the guide ropes. Finally, she located four securing devices (a rocking horse, a shelving unit, a chair and an amp) and the campsite (tent in attic) was ready for its intrepid adventurers.

The boys snuggled down onto their make-shift beds (pillows) and eagerly tucked into their supplies of cheese and ham sandwiches (and some grapes which were not eaten). Slightly weakened by their exhertions in climbing (the stairs) to their camp (attic), they were delighted to find a (left over from Christmas dinner) After Eight mint at the bottom of their tuck box (small plastic bowl).

As the wind continued to howl and the rain lashed the night sky (attic windows), they listened to stories of another brave adventurer (a 'Where's Wally' book from Santa) and studied his ancient texts, trying to locate him among confusing scenes of terrible battles and shipwrecks.

Showing signs of being ready for sleep (it was 8pm), their mother kissed the small boys goodnight and retreated to base camp (the sofa). But the boys were restless and the bigger boy trekked back down the steep incline (stairs) several times to inform base camp that the smallest boy wouldn't stop talking and was stopping him from getting to sleep.

After several return journeys to and from the higher camp (the attic) the mother suggested that the smallest boy might be better off in his own bed. He thought this was a great idea; as did the bigger boy who grabbed his teddies and ran gleefully into the comfort of his own bed.

It was 9pm. Camping had lasted for three entire hours, which - everyone agreed - was quite enough adventure for one night.

Who needs the Great Outdoors when the Great Indoors has so much excitement to offer?

If you liked this post, you might also like this post, in which the kitchen became a fancy French restaurant for a night (or something like that).


January 5, 2011

Disney's TANGLED - family tickets to be won

To celebrate the release of new Disney movie, TANGLED, JOHNSON’S® Baby No More Tangles® range and Disney are hosting exclusive premiere TANGLED screenings in Dublin, Cork, Limerick & Galway on Sunday 16th January 2011. To be in with a chance to win a family ticket to one of these screenings, and be one of the first to see this fantastic movie, simply leave a comment below with your email or Twitter address, and mention which screening venue you would prefer. Winners will be selected at random and notified on Wednesday 12th January.

Featuring unexpected heroes, calculating villains, laughter, action and hair - lots of hair - Disney's TANGLED is a comedy adventure for the whole family. When the kingdom's most infamous - and charismatic - outlaw, Flynn Rider takes refuge in a secret tower hidden deep in the forest, he's taken captive by Rapunzel, a striking and spirited teen blessed with 70 feet of enchanted, golden blonde hair. Having been looking for an escape route from the tower where she's been grounded her whole life, Rapunzel makes a pact with the handsome thief and the improbable duo soon find themselves tangled up in a spectacular action-packed escapade, complete with a super-sleuth horse, a chameleon side-kick and a rowdy gang of pub thugs.

The makers of JOHNSON’S® Baby understand that your child doesn’t need to have long hair like Rapunzel to experience knots and tangles. And because it's uncomfortable for your child, combing tangled hair can be really hard for you. That's why Johnson’s® Baby developed its NO MORE TANGLES® range for the special needs of young hair. Help unlock tangles with NO MORE TANGLES® Shampoo and help tame even the hardest knots and make it go even more smoothly by using NO MORE TANGLES® Spray.
TANGLED hits cinemas January 28th 2011 in Disney Digital 3D and 2D. JOHNSON’S® Baby NO MORE TANGLES® range is available now.


Guilty Pleasures for 2011

Well hello there and a very Happy New Year to everyone. What a very odd, snow-crisis-infested and running-water-less Christmas that one turned out to be. It was, of course, all fabulous anyway but now, alas, the tree must be dragged kicking and screaming out into the front garden where it will doubtless remain until the summer solstice.

It looks like there are some great things predicted for bloggers in 2011 - you can read all about them at the excellent British Mummy Bloggers blog and if you're looking for some new blogs to check out in 2011 - or just want to remind yourself of some old favourites - have a look through the Top 50 parent blogs of 2010 as selected by the excellent parenting site Ready For Ten. Hot Cross Mum is featured on this list which is a very lovely way to kick of a new blogging year.

If you haven't already voted in the Brilliance in Blogging awards, please do consider chucking a vote my way for the Funniest Post of 2010 (someone else's words - not mine!). Details of how to vote can be found here and voting closes this Friday, 7th Jan.

In the meantime, thank you very much to Scribbling Mum for passing a Guilty Pleasures task onto me. All I have to do is confess to my guiltiest of pleasures, so here they are.

1. One Direction (see above) - they may be Simon Cowell's most terrible pop creation, but I suspect I may end up quite liking them in a 'mother-of-a-five-year-old' kind of way.

2. Professor Brian Cox (see below). He may be a science geek, but there is something about this man and his ability to demonstrate how the solar system works with just a salt and pepper pot and a grapefruit which makes him compelling viewing. Phwoar.

3. Pringles - I know I should probably start taking something more sophisticated to dinner parties but you really can't beat them, can you?

4. My Snuggie - this is one of those blankets with sleeves which means you can still eat Pringles while watching Professor Brian Cox: a combination which may end up in divorce, but at least I'll be cosy and warm.

5. My fake Uggs - I know they smell like a barn after getting damp in the snow but they are the comfiest things ever made for chilly feet and the only way to cross the ice-sheet which is my kitchen floor.

I would now like to invite the following bloggers to share their deepest, darkest guilty pleasures with us:

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