"Describe yourself in one word" said Tara this week.........
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
"Describe yourself in one word" said Tara this week.........
Friday, 6 September 2013
- Because I value my career, I loved my job and I wanted to be the best I could be
- Because having children made it impossible to live up to my own expectations of what I could achieve in work
- Because I was failing. My career was on hold. Being a mother was holding me back
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
One year I bought my husband an electronic dartboard. It added up the scores as you threw. He was confused, I was hormonal (I'd recently had a baby). I thought he could put it in the shed and play happily against himself to hide away from the screaming and tantrums (and that was just me).
Anyway I took it back.
Two years ago I bought him a big fat pair of wireless headphones. He was confused again (this time I was 37 weeks pregnant with a second child). He smiled, we put them on the 2 year old and watched him play along with Family Fortunes, laughed a bit, then forgot about them.
The wireless headphones have made a comeback and they are my new favourite thing. Our living space is open plan, we have one big room in which the whole family does everything. Playing, cooking, eating, working, watching TV. To watch something you have to compete with a whole host of other noises. So I generally don't bother.
But now I can watch the news, sound off/headphones on, whilst cooking dinner (the cooker hood made too much noise before). The other half can watch TV while I listen to the radio. The headphones can babysit the 5 year old while I make work calls and use the PC.
And the reach is good. I can wander into the next room, do as much multi-tasking as I like and I can still hear what's going on.
But I can't hear anything else. No fighting, no calling for 'MUMMY', no 'that's my bike', no 'is the kettle on?'. Nothing. I live in blissful ignorance. Happy in my headphones.
Wireless headphones. They are bloody wonderful.
I have no idea what make or model they are, I panic bought them in Lidl along with some funny red things in a jar. This is not a sponsored post.
Friday, 30 August 2013
It's hard to choose a favourite Heaney poem, but when I read Death of a Naturalist as a teenager I never forgot this one. It's a great collection, go out and buy it.
Mid-term Break by Seamus Heaney
I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.
In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.
The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand
And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand
In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.
Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,
Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
A four foot box, a foot for every year.
Taken from Death of a Naturalist buy it here
Link to Obituary on BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13930435
Wednesday, 7 August 2013
I've got a son and a daughter. In my ideal world they'd indulge in non gender-specific play and my daughter would be as happy playing Star Wars as my son would be dressing up.
Life doesn't always work out that way. Here, dear reader, is my reality.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words........... :-)
This post is part of The Gallery, a weekly photo link up on the Sticky Fingers Blog.
Thursday, 1 August 2013
It's 20 years since I read Beloved. I remember loving it then and that it made a huge impression on me. But what I remember are the sights, sounds and smells. Where it was set more than what it was about.
A couple of weeks ago I saw it again. It hit me hard, the memory of the book and I remembered feeling drained once I'd read it.
So I picked it up and started again. Twenty years on, knowing more about the world and less of a romantic. Less time to spare but not in a rush to finish.
It's the story of slavery and the experience of slaves. How impossible is to ever be free of it. How one mother kills her child rather than let it lead the life she lived and how that ghost - and many others - come back to haunt her.
It's a story full of pain and it's so much worse now I'm a mother, an aunt, a godmother. I'm hearing, feeling and responding to a completely different story than the one I read before. A story about the desire and drive to protect your children from pain, whatever the cost. 20 years ago I just read it. This week I feel I've lived and breathed every word.
It's stunningly beautiful and just brilliantly written and it carries you along at a sing-song pace - but makes your heart ache. It's packed with detail and full of character. It's a heart-breaking story that you hope ends in peace. Quiet, restful, let-out-a-huge-sigh peace. But when you finish it's impossible to get out of your head.
So I'm going to continue this theme and go and find more books that made an impression on me 20 or 30 years ago and see how I like them now. Next stop is a book my Grandad gave me as a teenager, To Sir with Love. If you do the same, let me know.
Beloved by Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Friday, 19 July 2013
Parent pressure has reared its ugly head for me this week, as we all counted down to the last day of term.
Thank you gifts for the teacher.
Throughout this week I've been hearing snippets of conversations about goodies being bought and handmade gifts being prepared. I've asked my own friends what they're doing and quietly taken in their replies.
So by Thursday evening I was feeling in a bit of a panic. As I looked down at the cards my son had written for his teacher and teaching assistants, I started to wonder if it was enough.
Not because I didn't think a card was enough, but because for a fleeting moment I was worried about turning up at school without the required gift bag.
Required by whom? Not the teacher I'm sure. Gifts aren't like dinner money, they won't be chasing me for payment. Yet many parents buy presents simply because 'everyone else does it'.
The only pressure I was feeling was, indirectly, from other parents and the stories I'd been hearing about the preparations for this big day. It still wasn't enough to do more than the cards but it had made me stop and think.
So I put it out on Facebook (as you do) and asked why the big gifts for teacher obsession?
I got a big range of responses. Different people do different things for all sorts of different reasons. And they probably don't care or notice what I'm doing. Absolutely no one is judging.
So as we come to the end of our first school year, what have I learned as a parent?
I've learned that we put the pressure on ourselves. The best thing you can do is have the courage of your own convictions and the confidence to do what feels right for you.
If that means buying every member of staff a lottery ticket, then that's great. If it means a simple thank you and a smile by the school gate, that's perfect too.
Don't do things because everyone else does, do it because you want to, and then try not to worry about it. Second guessing just takes too much time and energy ( I should know!)
Phew. I hope the second year is easier.
Thursday, 18 July 2013
The thing I like about the wonderfully unpredictable Great British weather is the huge range of wardrobe options you need to survive a year here.
It's hard to plan what to wear too far in advance and every day is a new and exciting challenge. Cotton dress and flip flops in the morning and a quick change into thick cords and wellies by the afternoon. Never a dull wardrobe moment. (I have a jacket for every occasion)
But this heatwave thing that we've got going on, is not only boring (oh look it's sunny again) but it gives me wardrobe issues of a whole different kind. How to deal with gentle perspiration in a ladylike manner.
Footwear - have I painted my toenails and will these shoes still fit in an hour when my feet swell and elephantitis sets in?
Tops - can I risk sleeveless and the big bingo-wing reveal? Too low cut and you'll see my tanline, might even risk showing the beads of sweat disappearing down my cleavage.
Middle - this is the biggest issue for me. There's a huge risk of sweat lines and the material getting folded into your baby layers when you sit down. I reject so many clothes on this basis. (I did consider losing weight but fortunately I've noticed that slim people sweat too)
Skirts and dresses - they let the air circulate and are generally much cooler to wear, but you've got to consider all of the above, with the added joy of some hot thigh rubbing. Lovely.
And the best materials for the summer - linen and cotton - usually need ironing. Plus I'm absolutely sure that body hair grows twice as fast and suncream gives me greasy spots.
So God, please send me some gentle rain, a breeze and maybe some hail for a day or two.
I want a day off shaving and a bit of a challenge when I get dressed. Just give the sun back in time for the weekend :)
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Sun is good and bad for my photographs. Good when it has that ethereal effect or it's doing the light streaming through trees thing. But bad when it's too hot and it involves me.
Let me demonstrate.....
Monday, 3 June 2013
I promised myself I wouldn't brainwash my children the way my Dad brainwashed us. It was all Man Utd and the Beatles. If we weren't watching football we were singing along to his guitar.
I want my children to make their own choices about football teams and music. I want them to support the local team through highs and lows. Rugby even (!).
To be fair to my Dad, United were in the old second division when I was born and we used to sit in crowds of twenty-odd thousand. They were our nearest major team. Ish.
But still, I want my kids to find their own way. Find their own sport. Support the underdog.
Yet last weekend I found myself here, with my big sister (also brainwashed from a young age), my son and her two boys.
History repeating itself.
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
DO PEOPLE CONSUME TOO MUCH COFFEE? Asked the BBC this week.
'Does UleyGirl consume too much coffee?' replied my coffee-fuelled paranoia. It felt like the whole of Twitter and Facebook was asking me the same question. I think I need to defend myself.
I talk about coffee a lot but that doesn’t mean I’m addicted (I talk about exercise and sex too – see what I mean?)
Sometimes I can’t face coffee so don't drink it. I never get headaches, experience withdrawal symptoms or throw small animals from upstairs windows. Because I’m not addicted. (Or if I am, I'm not admitting it yet)
I may be happier after a coffee, talk a bit more and occasionally burst into song, but that’s no bad thing is it?
I like sharing it, making it for others, smelling it, savouring it.
But I'm not a coffee snob. I know what I like. I don't like tons of hot milk and I don’t like instant. I used to drink plenty of it but stopped really tasting anything. That's the problem with even the best instant coffee, it doesn't compete on taste and it lacks impact.
So instead of drinking ten cups of instant a day, I drink on average one large cup of filtered coffee or espresso (double – with hot water) per day. Sometimes two, three at the very very most. I can’t drink more than that.
I care about coffee and I really enjoy it, therefore I want to drink a cup roasted, blended and prepared by someone who feels the same way. Which is why I spend most of my time in Nom Nom Cupcakery (serving deep and delicious Rave signature blend) and Prema Café (nutty and smooth just like the owners).
So there. My coffee story. *blows raspberry and puts the coffee on*
(and I can think of lots of people who agree)
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
That my husband was wearing a banana t-shirt (imagine that being the first thing you saw on exiting from the gift shop??)
I remember that on the morning after his birth I was late transferring back to Stroud Maternity because I wanted to watch the FA Cup final (Portsmouth 1-0 Cardiff).
I remember that I finally left the 'Stroud Hotel' because United were playing Chelsea in the European Cup Final and I wanted to watch it at home.
I also remember my milk coming in during the first half (feel free to look away now). I felt a mixture of pain and panic, trying to force a tiny baby to drink to relieve the pain, but with breasts rapidly expanding like Violet, the one ton blueberry from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
|Ever had the feeling you're about to explode??|
He returned and United won on penalties.
I was elated and the boobs thankfully, deflated.
There you go, my birth memories. All based around football (and I don't even follow it anymore).
Friday, 3 May 2013
"So I'll be recommending the collagen based moisturiser for you today Madam"
It's the kind of sentence I usually overhear an assistant saying to the grandmother in front of me, whilst I'm waiting to pay for my roll-on Ibiza-grade body glitter for my latest big night out.
But not today. I ask her to repeat it, just in case the woman on the next counter is a voice throwing champion. Damn, she was definitely talking to me. I need plumping up.
I can chart my age through my moisturiser.
Teens: Nail polish remover strength for super oily acne prone skin. Finished with a lypsyl, applied nervously every two minutes, as a substitute for smoking.
20s: Dry cheeks, oily t-zone combination moisturiser for skin prone to 'outbreaks'. The spots settle but too much drinking and sunshine leaves it suffering major dehydration whilst my hormones play havoc with my chin, nose and forehead.
Early 30s: Skin smoothing, moisturising, glide on creams in luxury packaging that make me feel a million dollars. Reach temporary state of skin bliss. Start trying expensive French sounding brands just for fun.
Have two children.
Late 30s: Hold on for dear life to normal/dry moisture products, whilst experimenting with (see picture) eye gel, eye balm, eye cream, eye bag cover-up, God make them disappear please creams.
This week: Stupidly ask for advice when choosing new product. She'll be recommending the collagen based day moisturiser then. It's for 'anti-ageing and plumping up fine lines in your skin'. That'll be £48.
Shoot me now.
Wednesday, 1 May 2013
Need to entertain a toddler or keep your young ones occupied after school?
Then why not visit a polling station!
You can make an afternoon of it, take a picnic, call in at the park on the way.
You can teach your children all about elections, politicians (the good bit) and the fun things they have to look forward to once they turn 18 (even better if you pass a pub on the way).
They'll get a lovely walk, to laugh at some very funny faces (the candidates) and they might even get to dodge a few tellers.
All in all it's a great day out.
If you live in England or Wales you may have local elections on 2nd May. You've got the right to vote, use it and show your kids how important it is too.
Find out here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22019280
Saturday, 27 April 2013
Gender imbalance in the home, in the workplace, in life, largely focuses on how to make things better for women. Lately I've been thinking about childcare and how important it is for children to be cared for by both.
Early years education is dominated by women for many reasons I don't need to go into here - negatively perceived ones such as pay, hours, status. But also for positive reasons like experience, expertise, empathy (and our ability to multi-task!)
But we're not going to change stereotypes or teach children to view men and women equally unless we do something about the care they receive in those very early years.
That means changing the way we behave at home (if we can) and encouraging more men to follow a career in child care.
Sexism isn't exclusively part of the male psyche (oh how we all love to blame them). A quick poll of some of my mum friends reveals a suspicion of men who work in childcare. What are they doing that job for? They must be weird/sexually motivated? Couldn't they get a proper job?
This reaction offends me in oh so many ways.
It is a decent job and one of the most important anyone can do, a child's life is shaped in those first five years. It's well paid in the right setting, with excellent training and opportunities to study and progress. Looking after children is fun and rewarding so why shouldn't men enjoy it? Guess what - men like kids too!
We also know that children without fathers benefit from having strong male role models in their life.
My children have been cared for by men and women in daycare and I'm hugely grateful for that.
So let's encourage more men into childcare, reduce the ridiculous stigma attached to doing a 'female' job and start giving all those who work with children the respect they deserve.
They taught me, my husband and my children everything we know.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
I loved her even more when she shacked up with Hutchence.
Anyway, in her honour, a very short Kylie video playlist and one video dedicated to my girls x (page too slow loading if I embed them all).
Kick your shoes off, lose your inhibitions and dance.
1) Love at first sight (see video below)
2) In your eyes http://youtu.be/OjETibEMbJY
3) Breathe http://youtu.be/wMiW7FxBa88
4) Slow (favourite video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omrp4QR_Rpo
5) Better the devil you know http://youtu.be/10P_ybz5YTI
Friday, 12 April 2013
Your closest friends (and your PR) should know all there is to know about you. As one of my best friends used to say, "On a need-to-know basis, I just need to know."
No secrets, no pretence, no brave fronts. There are some people you should bare all to, otherwise how can they truly act as your friend?
They're also the ones you relax the most with. By relax I mean lose all sense of responsibility, drink too much and do things you normally wouldn't.
Yes those friends.
You'll be stuck with them forever, and a birthday card I got this week reminded me of why.
Touche LW x
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
I could dedicate a whole blog to Gloucestershire walks (is anyone doing that?) but for this post I'll concentrate on walking with kids. It's the thing we do most because it's the easiest, they just run free in a safe environment and get to make their own fun.
Here are my top 4 places to walk with kids - within spitting distance of my house in the South Cotswolds.
If you go on them I expect you to return wet or muddy, or both. Otherwise, what was the point?
A council run picnic site on the Cotswold escarpment with views across the River Severn to Wales and the Forest of Dean.
Windy, exposed and spacious, with gliders taking off above you and paragliders jumping for their lives as you walk. Kids can run about, fly a kite, play football or rugby, or just enjoy the open space and explore the woods. And you know when the ice cream van is there 'cos he puts a sign on the road.
This National Trust park has 3 set trails through woodland and the shortest one (about a mile) is great for kids.
With a zip wire, rope swings, see-saws and plenty of places to climb, if you take a picnic to keep their energy up, you can easily spend three hours here.
It's good for parents too, although you shouldn't go on the zip wire in a summer dress.
Not as glamourous as its Forest of Dean equivalent but loads of fun all the same.
It's a woodland walk which is good enough for kids, but with interesting sculptures to spot as you go - in the trees and on the ground. Most of the trail is suitable for pushchairs and it's located on Stinchcombe Hill which is also a great place to walk - with views across seven counties on a good day.
£4-£8 for adults. Under 5s free. Annual Membership around £30.
The stunning National Arboretum near Tetbury is split into two parts (the old and new) with a restaurant, cafe and play area. The old arboretum is flat with tracks suitable for pushchairs (and wheelchairs) and lots of places to explore for kids.
Great in hot sunshine because there's plenty of shade but also great in the rain because there's lots of shelter. Full of muddy puddles and although bikes aren't allowed - little ones with stabilisers are. One of my favourite places to be, all year round. Annual membership is brilliant value.
This was posted as part of The Gallery on the Sticky Fingers Blog. Click here to view more posts.
Monday, 25 March 2013
This is now and here she lies
|'Help me' blocks by Imogen Harvey-Lewis|
Saturday, 23 March 2013
This time last year my son had chicken pox and I had a couple of enforced days off work.
Here are the pictures.
What a difference a year makes *reaches for the cake, grabs a beer*.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013
There are times when your kids make you laugh out loud. These two pictures are from the last few days.
1) My two year old in what she calls her wet suit, on a slide (Sunday)
2) And one I found this morning as I switched on my laptop to start work. (I wasn't going to bother with this blog post until I saw this). The four year old's idea of a joke - my new desktop image.
(Red is also the colour of the Chancellor's Budget Box (well, Gladstone's) but let's not talk about that)
This is in response to Red on the Gallery, click the icon to see posts from others.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
|Looking down from Frocester Hill across the Severn Vale, Gloucestershire|
|North Morte Farm Campsite. Devon.|
|Coffee at Nom Nom Cupcakery, Nailsworth|
Friday, 8 March 2013
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Was I ill? Stressed? Everything alright at home? Unhappy? Leaving? Pregnant?
|Dirty Dancing classic lines|
Friday, 22 February 2013
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
- 7.30am - small amount of porridge made with water : 150 calories.
- Usual coffees (without milk), water and mint teas all day as and when I liked
- 7.30pm – bowl of soup worth only 240 calories.
Monday, 11 February 2013
|Skinny jeans + 41 weeks pregnant = not a good look|