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A family trip to…the London passport office

As if paying twenty quid for free European Health Insurance Cards wasn’t bad enough, a problem with BB’s passport application has meant withdrawing the application, losing the fee, and an impromptu trip to the London passport office to pay twice as much for the same thing. At rush hour. It was the only way to get her passport processed in time for our holiday, and is not a trip I recommend. After traipsing up to London and making it to the office on time, BB decided to unleash a poonami just as we were called up to the counter. A real gooey, leaky stinker. There was nothing I could do about it; we couldn’t miss the appointment. […]

By |June 28th, 2013|Family life, Travel|0 Comments

EHIC cards: don’t get ripped off like me

I am livid. Absolutely seeeeething. We’re off on our hols next week so I duly sent off for our ‘free’ European Health Insurance Cards lest anything untoward should happen. Of course this was just one of many jobs I had to do that day, and I was supervising BB’s tea while trying to make her a doctor’s appointment over the phone at the same time. Which is why, when it came to the end of the online form and asked me for £19.99 for the privilege, I didn’t bat an eyelid. I thought perhaps because it was our first application, or because we’re a family, there’s a charge. Wrong. They are 100%, totally free. Unless you unwittingly stumble upon an NHS lookalike website and are stupid – and distracted – enough to be conned into handing over your hard earned cash. Like me. […]

By |June 27th, 2013|Family life, Travel|0 Comments

All because the baby loves…scampi

I have finally found a cooked fish BB will eat: scampi. With the exception of smoked salmon (she has expensive tastes, like her mother) the little monkey has previously refused to touch any fish. You name it, I’ve tried it: fish pie, fish fillets, fish fingers, salmon fingers, tuna – I really was starting to believe that perhaps she really doesn’t like fish. But rummaging around in the freezer facing the daily ‘what shall we have for tea’ conundrum my eyes fell on a bag of scampi languishing at the back of the freezer drawer. Like marmite, it’s the sort of thing you either love or hate. I picked out four pieces to give it a go. She LOVED it (pictured). […]

By |June 21st, 2013|Family life, Food, Weaning|0 Comments

My nerves are fraying like the hole in our sheet

Why is it that everything breaks at once? First the toaster blew up (it really did: there were flames and everything), then the kettle went. A few days later Misery Guts managed to raze the tip off our most useful kitchen knife (it clearly wasn’t designed for opening oysters – pictured). Then when I was making up our bed at the weekend I realised the white brushed cotton sheet that was part of a wedding present isn’t really white or brushed anymore, and has a hole. A fraying hole. I don’t mind so much about the toaster and the kettle – they were 12 years old – but almost three years into our marriage I’m not so happy about the knife and the bedding. Surely these things should last longer than that? They might be residing in a drawer in their caravan, but my parents still have knives they were given as a wedding present 37 years ago, and I’m fairly certain bedding still exists too. […]

By |June 19th, 2013|Family life|3 Comments

Who needs a mummy anyway?

Owing to an increased workload BB has spent her first full day at nursery. Sending her there for an entire day is something I had thus far managed to avoid thanks to a combination of both grannies and a series of morning sessions instead. But last week there was no getting away from it: we were parted for eight hours. Twice. It’s not that separation anxiety was the reason for half day sessions only, it was more a case of bedroom anxiety. With BB still in need of a nap in the afternoon, the idea of her ‘key worker’ putting her down in one of a line of cots as other tots wail and whimper themselves to sleep fills me with a dread I would rather avoid. Even if it means starting my work when Misery Guts arrives home from his and finishing at silly o’clock, or working at the weekend instead. […]

By |June 17th, 2013|Family life, Work life|0 Comments

If mums went on strike…

Our binmen have gone on strike. It’s only day two and the wheelie bins are already overflowing, and it’s only a matter of time before detritus starts spilling out too. I suppose the binmen (sorry, waste management and disposal technicians – I know, me too), who are facing a pay cut, have no choice but to down tools; theirs is the sort of job that no-one notices gets done until it doesn’t. Like coastguards who drive up and down seafronts every morning checking the life rings haven’t been carted off by someone who’s had one too many. Or mums who wipe drips of food from the kickboards under the kitchen cupboards and clean out the toilet brush holder. […]

By |June 12th, 2013|Family life, News, Work life|0 Comments

A penny for your thoughts…

If I had a penny for every time I’ve wondered what BB is thinking, I’d be able to buy a new pair of Jimmy Choos by now. And maybe even a matching bag. Here she is (pictured) in the paddling pool at granny and grandpa’s house this weekend, the master of all she surveys. What on earth was she thinking? Is it even possible to ‘think’ when one hasn’t mastered a language yet? And was she in fact feeling, rather than conducting an internal monologue about the sights and smells around her? I’d love to know. Apparently a child has around 100 billion brain cells at birth, and around 50 trillion synaps connecting those cells. By eight months this has increased to 1,000 trillion synaps, but by the age of 20 the number of synaps has decreased to 500 trillion. So you could say she’s in her prime. Unlike me, and probably you, which is alarming stuff. […]

By |June 10th, 2013|Family life, Health|0 Comments

Want to cut down on housework? Move somewhere hot

I’ve cracked it. I’ve worked out how to halve the amount of laundry there is to do, slash the number of times a high chair needs to be cleaned and I’ve ruled out the need to put away toys altogether. It’s simple: move somewhere hot. This week, as we have basked in temperatures of 20 degrees plus, BB and I have been outside for the majority of the day every day. As a result she has worn just one item of clothing a day, dramatically reducing the number of times the washing machine needs to go on; eaten her lunch outside every day, meaning the high chair hasn’t been out in the day at all; and her toys have remained untouched, neatly stacked where I left them on Sunday night. […]

By |June 7th, 2013|Family life, Travel|0 Comments

Mums-to-be: a bunch of reckless, risk taking half-wits

It’s official: all mums-to-be should hermetically seal themselves in a sterile bubble for the entire duration of their pregnancy. According to advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists today, pregnant women should avoid eating or drinking anything from cans or plastic containers, minimise their use of cosmetics and moisturiser and not buy any new furniture to avoid exposure to certain chemicals. It’s a wonder the human race has survived at all. The paper stupidly suggests women take a ‘safety first’ approach – implying mums-to-be are all a bunch of reckless, risk taking half-wits. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so ludicrous. […]

By |June 5th, 2013|Beauty, Family life, Health, News|2 Comments

The key to domestic bliss? Someone please enlighten me….

Another weekend, another round of household chores to be done. And another round of ‘words’ between Misery Guts and myself. We have been living together for 10 years – married for almost three – yet for a reason that remains a mystery we are incapable of carrying out the household chores without falling out at some point along the way. I accept that when two people with different standards of cleanliness live under one roof a degree of compromise is needed: I need to compromise down and accept that it’s ok for the bathroom taps not to be sparkling all of the time, and he needs to compromise up and accept that it’s not ok for the bedding to remain unchanged for weeks on end. I also accept that as I’m at home more often than he is, I’m likely to carry out more of these tasks. But what I don’t accept is that when two people contribute equally to the running of a household in financial terms, one should contribute more to the running of that household in chore terms. […]

By |June 3rd, 2013|Family life, Work life|3 Comments

Go Myleene, that’s what I say

Poor Myleene Klass. As if your husband walking out on you after 6 months of marriage wasn’t bad enough, the singer cum TV presenter cum model is now being accused of attention seeking by revealing she encouraged family and friends to taste her breast milk. Whether she was courting attention or not – isn’t that the job of a sleb? – I don’t see why she’s come under such fire. How is drinking milk produced from a fellow human’s nipple any ‘weirder’ than drinking milk produced from a cow’s udder? At least it’s from the same species. And I don’t buy the public ‘outcry’ either. I think there’s a lot of ye doth protest too much going on. According to a study published in the Sunday Times in 2005, researchers found that one third of fathers had tasted their other half’s breast milk, and it was ‘fairly common’ for the dads to drink it not just once, but often. […]

By |May 31st, 2013|Breast feeding, Family life, Health|0 Comments

Potty training: It’s time to get the job done

With two little words we have reached a milestone: poo poo. That’s what BB started telling me a week or so ago after doing a you-know-what in her nappy. Now she has started warning me before doing a you-know-what, which means there’s no getting away from it any longer: it’s time for potty training to commence. This is a daunting prospect, especially given that her godmother started potty training her daughter, who is exactly the same age as BB, at seven months. That’s right, seven months. Now 21 months old, she is basically dry in the day and only wears nappies at night and on car journeys. “I wouldn’t want to wear pants 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so why would a baby?” BB’s godmother told me. Quite. Her approach was quite simple – she learnt to read her baby’s cues (i.e. how she reacted when she needed to go to the loo) and responded to them by putting her on the potty. When she actually went, there was praise galore. When she didn’t, or ‘went’ somewhere else, it was no big deal. […]

By |May 29th, 2013|Family life, Potty training|2 Comments

Parents of the land rejoice: Peter Rabbit is going to save your life

There is much excitement in the crummy mummy household ahead of the start of a whole series of Peter Rabbit on CBeebies. Not from BB, but from Misery Guts and I. With the exception of Postman Pat, I believe this will be the first genuinely new series to be aired on the channel since BB was born in August 2011. Almost two whole years ago. I realise these are times of austerity, the licence fee doesn’t stretch as far as it did and children love repetition, but two years watching the same programmes over and over again? Even BBC2 in the daytime isn’t quite that bad. Further research (by me) has revealed Peter Rabbit & Co aren’t the only newbies BBC bosses are drafting in to keep us sane. Would you believe it Topsy and Tim are soon to grace us with their presence too. I think there’s much to be said about looking to the past to shape the future. The one I’d really like to see is The Village With Three Corners. […]

By |May 27th, 2013|Books, Family life|4 Comments

Blogging: The story I never knew I’d written

Are ‘sharents’ – parents who blog, tweet and post pictures about all aspects of their children’s lives – doing their children harm by crossing the boundaries between public and private life? That was the loaded question posed in the family section of last Saturday’s Guardian, and it’s an interesting one. When I started blogging five months ago I didn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, and the concept of uploading photographs online on a weekly basis was a new concept to me. Now I can’t begin to count the number of pictures of BB that must be floating in around cyberspace. And therein lies an important point: I have never once used her real name – she has intentionally always been referred to as BB – and having googled her name on its own and alongside both mine and Misery Guts’, I am pleased to see that aged 21 months she has no digital footprint at all. […]

By |May 24th, 2013|Breast feeding, Family life|0 Comments

M&S: Am I alone in thinking…?

So Marks and Spencer is in trouble. Again. The chain has reported a big fall in profits and the blame has been laid squarely at the changing room doors: sales of general merchandise, including clothes, are down 4.1% – that’s hundreds of millions of pounds to you and me. This surprises me. Since becoming a mum I have bought more clothes from M&S than I’ve ever bought in my entire life. Underwear used to be the only St Michael garments you’d find in my drawers – now I own coats, jeans, tops, jumpers, vests, bags, even shoes. I first ‘discovered’ M&S in 2011 while en route to the baby section for newborn essentials and was pleasantly surprised by their offering. Yet an industry ‘expert’ described their SS13 clothing ranges as ‘frumpy and shapeless’ on BBC Breakfast this morning. Oh dear. I fear this reflects worse on me than it does on them. […]

By |May 21st, 2013|Beauty, Family life, Fashion, News|0 Comments