29 Jun 2013

My beauty saviours - what's working right now

I used to have good skin with only the occasional outbreaks and through pregnancy I bloomed. After Bubba arrived my nice skin left! A combination of lack of sleep and hormones racing around saw my skin turn into a worst case teenager would be proud type skin. I could audition for a clearasil advert (not that anyone in those adverts have spots in the first place!)

I was nervous I'd have a massive breakout for my conference which wouldn't have helped my confidence but in the end it was a mild on the chin outbreak (those I can handle and cover better than my cheek outbreaks). Adult Acne is something that really dents your ability to interact and I used to hate some baby groups for fear everyone was starring at my spots! I've tried the pill to control it but they sent my crazy hormones into overdrive and I wasn't happy with how they made me feel mentally. So I kept the bad skin.

I've tried all sorts of cosmetics and skin care and they would work for a while and then my problems would revert back to before. Lately I've found a group of products that seem to be working for me.

I've liked Liz Earle products for about 10 years now, using the Cleanse and Polish daily. I often get drawn to new products for a few months but always end up going back. I like how it makes my skin feel. You use a hot cloth to remove it and this also feels fairly luxurious on my skin.

Superskin concentrate has been my real saviour. I never used to like it, in fact I thought it was overrated and made for old ladies. Guess what, I'm now that old lady! I love the stuff, every morning and evening I roll it on to my problem areas and it has changed my skin in recent months. It can come across as greasy so you have to use it sparingly and I admit it might not be for everyone but its helping to repair my damaged skin (got this from Liz Earle online - or from John Lewis).

Water - my new bobble bottle. This is so great, I've always known I needed to drink more but this acts as a visual reminder and I do drink loads, plus the water is filtered as you drink it - which helps my skin. I take it everywhere (and filters last about 3 months at a time).

La Roche Effaclar Duo - designed to minimise pores and calm the skin I've found if I put this on after the concentrate it leaves my face feeling soft and clean. I like the scent of the lotion and it isn't heavy at all. It may seem a little pricy but for me it's worth the money (got this from Boots)

La Roche Lotion Apaisante - this toner is billed as 'physiological soothing toner'. It does soothe my skin, some toners leave my skin feeling tight but this glides on and I feel fresh afterwards. It removes any residue of dirt on my skin and doesn't feel like I've used anything harsh.

27 Jun 2013

Erm...when did she become a toddleteen???

So I was always prepared for the nappy changing, resigned myself to the sleepless nights, heard best practice for weaning and potty training (the latter we've yet to put into practice). The 'terrible twos' is never going to be something you can side step but the toddleteen, where did she come from?

My beautiful, sweet and loving daughter (prone to a few minor and I mean minor diva moments (lucky so far although will probably have to eat my words)) morphed into a slouchy, eye rolling, death stare...wannabe teenager! Or toddleteen as I'm now labelling her.

I can ask her to do something and I get a huge, epic type sigh before she gives me the death stare. If you haven't got kids or are yet to witness the death stare, all I can say is that the first one you see will leave you with chills down your spine. Your head will snap back and your brain will shout loudly in your ear "she didn't just...not it's not possible, surely I didn't see...did she just? Nah you are imagining it...oh yes she did!" before you meekly slink out of her line of gaze. Its terrifying that a two year old can have that much disdain for the woman who birthed her and then spent the best part of two years answering to her every whim!

The death stare then changes to a blank expression and the word 'No' trickles from those perfect little lips. Arms cross and there.is.no.going.back! This child will literally not be moved. No amount of cajoling, bribery and tomfoolery will reverse the death stare.

SHE LOUNGES...sorry that has to be in shouty caps purely for its unbelievability! She will semi throw herself onto furniture (not to be confused with a tantrum which is done with intent) this is more a propping up the bar type lounge. Anywhere, everywhere and as casual as you like.

She calls me 'silly mummy' and I don't think anyone has taught her to say that (well at least I hope they haven't). She just decided to label me as the village idiot of our family for no other reason than I'm obviously inferior in intelligence to her (or that's how it feels most days when she out foxes me even before 8am in the morning). This also goes alongside laughing at me - not because I've done something funny but because she thinks I'm simply funny stupid!

I get a condescending pat on the arm/back/head from her (see above).

She tries to steal my shoes - although if she was a real teenager then she probably wouldn't be seen in any of my so out of date fashion clothes so perhaps I'm still safe at the moment.

For anyone yet to get to this point, it's not all bad because I still see glimpses of the little girl I once knew (admittedly these are getting few and far between but they are still there) and even better, I get the opportunity to look forward to the strong minded, witty and utterly brilliant (no bias here folks!!!) young woman that I'll get the pleasure of knowing. If she loves me as much as I love my mum then we'll get through it and come out the other end as friends and family.

oh...and she thinks she can drive...


24 Jun 2013

Britmums should be called Brilliant Mums...

I've just returned from Britmums Live and I laughed, cried and met some great people. There were lots of inspiring people and stories and I came away with a sense of belonging and a certainty that 'hope floats' to the top despite setbacks individuals face. I won't detail what I did and what I thought of the sessions because we all got different things from it and if you weren't there (well you should have been because it was brilliant). Below is a list of the things I shouldn't have worried about (and some of the things I really should have thought about before I went).

I shouldn't have worried...

About what to wear
There were so many people with so many styles from smart to very casual. I wore skinny jeans both days and didn't feel out of place (I also wore flat shoes). I really shouldn't have even given it much thought.

Will people ignore me as I'm on my own
No they didn't, these are all women (and men) doing the same thing I am and it didn't matter that I was on my own. People were friendly and I met some lovely ladies (and gents) over the two days.

That I wasn't in a clique
In fact it helped that I didn't really know anyone (other than a few interactions over on instagram etc). I got to speak to a vast array of people and I know if I'd had a wing man then I wouldn't have been so brave or glad that someone took the time to speak to me. Others might have preferred being in a group (and it's certainly not a bad thing) but I know for me it would have been my crutch and I'd not of branched out but next year, who knows!

Talking myself down
A few times on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, I heard myself saying to people that 'my blog was only small, didn't have a massive readership' whilst shrugging (as if I needed to apologise for being there). But I really shouldn't have done this, I am proud of my space and lots of the bigger bloggers started out as littler bloggers like me and even if they didn't who cares. I had every right to be there, I love this little corner on the internet and I'm doing my thang in the best way I possibly can. I shouldn't (and won't) diss myself like that again

Things I clearly should have thought about...

Taking a hair brush
Yes lovely people at Britmums Live, you had the pleasure of talking to me or standing behind me in a room and seeing my unbrushed hair. I forgot my brush and yet no one noticed or commented on my bad hair day (it wasn't that bad and you wouldn't have noticed or you might have and thought 'my gawd what has she done!')

Leaving instructions for daddy
To be fair he did a great job (and I'm not being condescending because he is fab anyway and is very hands on) but perhaps I should have written down things to remember to bring home from nursery or what food to feed Bubba (a cardigan is now missing in action and she wouldn't eat the rice on Friday night!)

My Clean eating would go out the window
I sort of thought about this, on the way there I got some apples and carried some almonds in my bag, but the gorgeous cakes and food available left me unable to resist. I also had a nervously eaten Greggs sausage roll on Friday morning because I was in a rush and forgot breakfast (well that's my excuse). Now I'm back on the wagon so lets hope I eat clean from here on in.

The heels wouldn't be needed but a warmer cardigan might have been
Some of the break out rooms were boiling hot and others were freezing cold and going between the two was a bit of a shock to the system sometimes. I only had a skinny jumper on and wished I'd left the heels at home (they really didn't see the light of day) and packed a few more layers.

Not being so smug about a potential great nights sleep
I was so happy thinking I'd have a great nights sleep, star fished across the bed, alone and wouldn't have to get up and watch spiderman on tv in the morning at some ungodly hour. As it turned out, I had a rubbish nights sleep because of cramp, sleeping in a strange and large bed and there were fireworks going off directly across the road from my room (very pretty but not conducive to sleep). I woke earlier than I do at home and because I was pining for Bubba, I watched spiderman on my own!

I'd be like a packhorse carrying the goody bag, my own bag, things I'd bought and my notes home
I think it was this little fella's fault (but don't you like the makeover hubby gave him today...made his unruly large teeth smaller, it's all about customisation).


23 Jun 2013

One Night

I sometimes mentally sigh when hubby phones or texts to say he won't make Bubba's bedtime (again). I wonder how and why he didn't move heaven and earth to make sure he saw his baby one more time before her wonderful slumber took over. I know deep down that he doesn't do it on purpose and work takes over and of course he would love to see her before bed (although not always possible).

Those arms that grasp tightly, the soft warm body slowly relaxing, I would give anything for that right now but usually (instead of thinking how lucky I am) I get grumpy to be doing it alone (again).

As I stand on a busy train, after narrowly missing the direct train by a minute, I feel utterly crushed. There is a trickle of sweat running down the small of my back, my legs are shaking from the effort I put in to trying to get there on time. I'm barely holding back the tears and my lip wobbles, I know I'm lucky that I get to witness bedtime every other night but I feel so unlucky tonight.

It doesn't help that hubby told me that Bubba cried for "mummy" for 20 minutes last night before finally going to bed. My mummy guilt is in overdrive. There is a little girl in a pram with her daddy on the train (about the same age as Bubba) she is singing "I can like a bear, I can like a bear..." over and over and over. That's the sort of thing my baby does, oh how I miss her.
  I'll have to console myself with going in and stroking her soft curly hair as she sleeps, breathing in her sweet soft scent and listening to her stuffy breath and snores. It's only one night and tomorrow is a new day. It's just one night.

** This was written last night on the way home from Britmums Live, I got home 20 minutes after bedtime and semi woke up my baby for a cuddle. It was the best ever cuddle. I then left the room and cried buckets...it was an emotional weekend which was finished nicely by cuddles with my girl.


19 Jun 2013

Easy Meal - homemade popcorn

Well I guess this is more of a snack than a meal. Whatever it is, the words quick and delicious come to mind.
I've always been a fan of popcorn and got rather addicted to the sweet and salty variety. Since I've started to try and eat clean and lean to get my weight back under control I realised that I'd have to find other ways of indulging my passion. Lean and clean is mostly about eating foods in their natural states without all the additives and empty calories added by manufacturers.

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I've never made my own popcorn. I'm talking in a pan with popping corn (rather than microwave). Seriously it couldn't be easier, add your popping corn (got mine from the supermarket for 58p) to a pan with a little bit of oil, put a (preferably clear) lid so you can watch it and then wait for the popping to begin. 

We've tried a few varieties and we like this spicy version below but you can add any spices or weird combinations you like or just leave it plain or drizzled with melted butter (the non diet way).

Spicy popcorn
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1 tablespoon salt (but I often use a lot less)
 Mix well together and then sprinkle over popcorn once it's popped.


17 Jun 2013

Doing Business

Although I've wanted them for a while, I've resisted getting business cards made for the blog. I wasn't sure if I was out of my depth and who I'd hand them out to (other than family). 

Seeing as I'm off to Britmums Live this week, I thought I'd get some done. I'm still not really convinced I'll end up giving any out but I know if I didn't have them I would probably decided I had needed them! As luck has it, my brother has his own digital printing business so he made some up for me (thanks bro). He also did my wedding stationary and some of my friends. 

I've kept it simple, I didn't want my picture (or bubba's) on it because it might date the cards and quite frankly I will probably have all 499 (gave the first card to my mum) hanging around for the foreseeable future.

As yet I'm not really very good at self promotion (*waves at all 6 readers of the blog). I swing wildly between feeling silly for writing this blog because its not earth shattering reading, to feeling like this will be a great thing for Bubba to look at when she's older and an investment for her future. That's assuming she will want to read it and not feel hugely embarrassed by my outpourings and pictures of her. I sometimes get caught up in the "I haven't got many readers compared to [insert most other bloggers]" but then I didn't do it to get famous so I reign myself back in and remember I do it because I enjoy it. Stats are wonderful, it's nice to see that people are enjoying what I write but really I do it for me.

So although most business cards should (according to various google searches) stand out from the crowd and be a personal reflection of the card giver, I'm coming to terms with the fact I'm quite happy not to stand out too much. You'll usually find me towards the back of a crowd, not to say I don't have my moments when I want to stand out. But I want to stand out in a subtle 'don't look at me as I'm shy' type way. So if you are at Britmums and you don't see me, look towards the back of the room, bet you I'm there holding one of my little cards.

15 Jun 2013

I am...

I am the eyes that see you
When you are doing something new

The arms that hold you as you cry
And promise not to let go until you need me to

I am the ears that hear you
Those first words of love for me I'll never forget

The encouragement you need when you look at me
unsure of what is before you

I am the person behind you
Smiling and offering support

The heart that loves you
And always will

I am your mother


13 Jun 2013

Techno Baby

This is my girl, she loves to have a go on my phone and can operate You Tube like a pro. She watches clips of Toy Story, The Gruffalo and bizarely likes watching those kinder egg type things being opened (usually they have toy story characters, hello kitty and the like in them). I used to worry that she was using the phone too much and was able to work it better than I can but I realise it's just technology and the world growing up. I can keep her from things like the TV because I watch it and the same for using apps (usually they are matching the shapes or spot the difference games), I probably use my phone too much but so do a lot of people.

It keeps her quiet and amused at trigger times, when we are in a restaurant and she has already eaten and is restless and tired, the colouring books and stickers aren't working their magic, I usually offer her my phone. Or if I need to keep and eye on her whilst I dry my hair (as the picture above).

She doesn't stay on the phone long, I monitor her the whole time - I wouldn't allow her to be on the internet without me knowing exactly what she is doing. I think it's a great extra learning tool and is the gameboy of our generation.

If I was ever unsure that it's power is a good one then the following exchange between my mum and Bubba the other day should reassure me. Bubba was showing my mum one of the matching shape games whilst we were out and about (I was just trying to finish my nearly cold cup of tea).

mum: "so what do you have to do?"
Bubba: "match dis!" - showing my mum the screen
mum: "Oh look that one is a moon"
Bubba: "nanna it's a crescent" whilst giving my mum a withering look

She has only picked that word up from the app because I would automatically call it a moon shape rather than crescent. See it teaches her something.

How often do you allow your little ones to use computers or phones to play games?

10 Jun 2013

Hunting the Gruffalo

We went deep into the dark wood in hunt of the Gruffalo

One sunny Sunday we headed to Thorndon Country Park in Essex to hunt for the Gruffalo and his friends. It's a lovely huge park and wooded area that makes you feel happy to be alive, you can run, walk or skip your way around, it doesn't matter.

We got to the park around 10.30am and parked easily in one of the two large carparks and paid our £2.50 parking fee. Then off we went with our picnic into the woods, I'd read online that you could pick up a Gruffalo map in the gift shop for 50p. It's a great map that shows you where each character from the Gruffalo is situated, the characters are set far enough apart that you aren't swamped with people but at the same time they aren't too far apart that Bubba lost interest or got achy legs.

The carved characters are amazing and even as an adult its a great thrill when you see them through the woods and we all had our pictures taken at each one. Half way through the hunt we stopped at the picnic area and ate our sandwiches and then on we went. It was a great morning out for us and the weather was on our side which made it even more magical as the sun shone through the trees.

My only advice would be to get there early because as we left (around 1.30pm) they had shut the park to more visitors because the carparks were over flowing but again it was a bank holiday weekend so I'm not sure if it gets that busy usually. It should because I would highly recommend going if your little ones love the Gruffalo or you enjoy a walk in the woods.


4 Jun 2013

She cried because...

Below are some of the reasons she's cried today...

I wouldn't let her play with my phone (she had been on it earlier).

She didn't want to wear pretty sandals out. Instead she left the house in pink wellies

I sat next to her chair (I was actually bending down to pick up books she dropped).

I wouldn't move to the sofa she wanted us to sit on (its exactly the same as one I was sitting on).

I looked at her.

I didn't come when she shouted for me (I was getting her dinner out of the oven)

I was letting Dylan dry in the sun after she'd dunked him in the paddling pool

She wasn't allowed to drive the car!

Her dummy went missing - it was on the chair beside her!

I made her wear her hat in the sun.

We've had one of 'those' days today. Stupidly I asked her earlier "do you like mummy", she turned and looked at me with disdain and said "no" then walked away to play. Well that told me. It's difficult when all I'm doing is trying to help her.


1 Jun 2013

Farm life - mudchute farm

A few weeks back we decided to go to a farm and after hearing great things about it, we decided to head to Mudchute Farm in East London. We live over in SE London so for us it was a train to Lewisham and then the DLR to Crossharbour (it's a short walk from the station).

Driving the DLR
Upon arriving we walked through the parkland with the docklands skyline behind us and arrived at the penned areas. The farm itself isn't massive but considering its situated in the heart of Isle of Dogs, it's big enough. The biggest bonus is that it is free, so makes a great day out for families where budget is an issue.

The animals are all accessible and it's got a mixture of pigs, goats, horses, sheep and Llama to see. We walked around for a while and the sky's threatened to open so we headed to the onsite cafe, Mudchute Kitchen, and got ourselves a big breakfast. The food was lovely and it gave us a chance to sit in the warm for a while. There are also areas to sit outside with a picnic but it really wasn't the weather for it when we visited.

There are stables on site too and you can watch people getting their horses ready to go out hacking in the surrounding area.

Imagine my surprise when Bubba decided that she wanted to keep visiting some animals near pets corner and even give them a cuddle. Yes that's right, the bit she most loved about the visit was the penguin bins and requested that her photo be taken with them.

I would definitely recommend going to Mudchute Farm, Hubby and I enjoyed being out in the fresh air and introducing Bubba to the animals (including the penguin bins!). It's very well set up and run and there are plenty of things to see and do.

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