Thursday, 31 March 2016

Dear Kids, From Your Selfish Working Mother

As a working mother, obviously I am selfish. I'm also doing (another) degree.

Double selfish.

Obviously I could never give my kids the time of day that they need. I'm all me me me. Evil, in fact.

So, for my children I have created a post to show them my utter selfishness, evidence of their childhoods as children of a selfish working parent.

Sorry kids x

1.) Christmas Ginger House Making

What we did: Spent around an hour making a ginger construction decorated with icing and Smarties.

Real Motive: I wanted to stuff all of the ginger in my fat selfish face when you weren't looking.

Unlucky, kids

 2) A Holiday in the Lake District

What We Did: Three day break in a lodge in the sunshine, feeding badgers and trip-trapping and swinging in children'a play areas.

Real Motive: Wanted to fob you off for three days on the trip-trap bridge. Spent valuable time watching my favourite animal; the badger.

Sorry kids, you lose.
 3) Dress-up

What We Did: I spent quite a bit of time on outfit-picking, creating witch make-up so you can go out trick or treating.

Real Motive: I love the freezing cold weather me. Love sending my kids to knock on stranger's doors to beg for sweets while standing at the foot of their garden freezing my tits off.

Total winner.

4) Peppa-Pig Visiting

What We Did: I took you to visit Peppa Pig, like a meet and greet situation.

Real Motive: I wanted to take a photo just as you cuddled Peppa, so that it would look like you were being eaten.

Yes. Selfish sweet victory is all mine.

 5) Coronation Street Set 

What We Did: You love Coronation Street. I took you to the studio.

Real Motive: I never watch TV because I spend my evenings reading for my degree, so I wanted to just pretend to be normal for one day.

YES. I am totally normal. And ALL of the selfish.
 6) CBeebies Festival

What We Did: I took you to Geronimo festival to see all of the CBeebies characters perform on stage.

Real Motive: I have a thing for Justin who plays Mr Tumble. Total hotty.

Failed. Didn't cop off with Mr. Tumble. Oh well, 'A' for selfish effort.
 7) Build-a-Bear Workshop

What We Did: I took you to Build-A-Bear Workshop to make you very own teddy bear.

Real Motive: I wanted to buy everything I own except in miniature, it's a weird obsession of mine. Little outfit, little hat, little skates.... mini is the way forward.

Hooray for SMALL selfish acts.
 8) LegoLand

What We Did: We spent three hours walking around Lego-Land checking out all the buildings and playing in kids play areas, which, incidentally, were very loud and busy.

Real Motive: I have a fetish for standing on Lego with bear feet. It hurts a bit, but you know... it's a good kind of pain.

Selfish Weird Lego Fetishes FTW

 9) Father Christmas-ing

What We Did: Oh the annual Father Christmas visit in the grotto.

Real Motive: Father Christmas. What hotty. Also, I wanted to steal your chocolates when you weren't looking,

Christmas winning.

10) Daily Cuddles

What We Do: Always cuddling. Sometimes two of us, sometimes five of us and everything in between.

Real Motive: I'm a cold-blooded kind of person, it's always good to have another human body there to warm up against.

*does evil witch laugh*

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

I'm Missing the #ProudMummy Gene

I'm lacking the #proudmummy gene.

I have three girls, Emily, who is 12, Alice who is 4 and Rosie who is 3. I love them all very much and I would do anything for them - but one thing I am not is constantly proud of them. I don't really have #proudmummy moments. I think maybe I am a realist and can be quite cynical - but I just don't go all in for feeling "proud" just because they turned three or stopped peeing in their own pants.

Sounds harsh, maybe? I'm a very busy person. I work part time, I am doing a Masters and looking at starting a PhD next year. I have a lot on. I have a lot to be proud of MYSELF for. Oh yes, all these dirty words coming from a mother, Me, Me, Me, like a frying pan clanging in your face. The truth is, my children are completely separate little beings to me. I love being with them, I love watching them grow and change before my very eyes, I love being their mother - but being a mother is only part of who I am.

My children have to fit in with my life. There we go again, Me, Me, Me. Selfish. When we say we are proud of our children, are we proud of what they are achieving or proud of what we have achieved by bringing them up? Both? I'm happy to be their mother, but they have got to live their lives independently of me - they have their own set of inner workings, their own friends, their own interests. I do not live my life through them. Of course, I am proud when they learn new words, new skills and pass tests, but day-to-day? Nah. They're just getting on with their lives.

I remember when being handed Emily's school SATs results in a crisp white envelope, her name neatly typed in black. I held the envelope in my hands. The sun was shining, as it had been a week earlier when I had collected the module results on my undergrad work. I paused. How excited am I about opening Emily's SATs results? More excited than opening my own last week? I bit my lip and thought about it.

Definitely more excited by my own achievements.

Guilt. Real guilt. I opened the envelope and smiled as I saw she had top marks in all subjects. Brilliant. I was happy. I treated her to a cream cake, some popcorn and fizzy drinks and told her how proud I was. I was proud, I also bought Champagne to celebrate my results. I don't think she was very proud of me when I collected my degree, first class (in case I didn't mention that.) In fact, I think she was rather bored by the whole thing.

And that's fine.

That doesn't cloud how I am proud of my kids when they achieve. The way I view it is, a family is a team. They have their own lives to pursue, and I have mine. I am allowed to have a life and I am allowed to pursue my own goals and not feel guilty about saving some of my "proud moments" just for myself. When these kids have flown the nest I will have my own selfish little life to get on with, and I'll be proud of what I did for myself.

I might be lacking the #proudmummy gene, maybe I'm not wired that way. Maybe I am too busy and actually a bit selfish.

I'm glad I am. I couldn't be any other way.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Liverpool: #EvolvingCities

We have lived here together in Liverpool for about seven years now. My husband is a proper Scouser and I moved to live here to be with him. I do love Liverpool. I love the history, the culture, the architecture. You can often find me sat in Abercromby Square by the university (usually with a huge bag of books!)

We were delighted to be asked by Travelodge to visit Liverpool city centre as a family. I loved this Liverpool #EvolvingCities page that they created - a quick slide over the screen shows some of Liverpool's main sites now and back in the day.  It's amazing to see how things have changed.

We often visit Liverpool, but I find that when we do we tend to be shopping and it can get quite hectic. Sometimes it is great to just explore the city for what it is, without the shopping and commercial rush. 

We planned to visit the Albert Dock, walk along by the water and maybe bob in and out of some of the museums and stop for dinner somewhere.

It was such a lovely sunny day. We did pop in to the Liverpool Museum, which is home to some wonderful Liverpool-inspired exhibitions. With the kids, we tend to do museums quite quickly - especially at weekends or they can get quite restless, and as the sun was shining we decided to make the most of it with a lovely walk.

The girls really love seeing new places, and we try to explain a bit about the history, a little about what their surroundings are - I like the girls to have new experiences and engage with us as we walk and talk.

We absolutely love this new Beatles statue on the Pier Head and couldn't wait to get some lovely photographs of the kids.
After our lovely walk and visit to the museum we went out for dinner and grabbed a couple of ice creams on our walk back to the car. We love this city. It has such a rich history, so much to see and do with great places to eat and relax. We are very much looking forward to the arrival of summer and I think a ferry trip will be on the cards!

We were asked to write this post for Travelodge as part of their #EvolvingCities campaign.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Teen-Approved Wallpaper

Children can be difficult enough to understand without the teen hormones getting in the way. As kids become teens there’s a real urgency for them to find their independence, to start figuring out who they are and discovering their own style. This is when their room becomes so important for them. It’s a place for them to get away, to calm down, to study and to hang out with friends. It’s a pretty important room!

So though all the arguments, tantrums and hormone induced attitudes, let the decorating of your teen’s room be a chance to bond with each other and enjoy a great moment together. Below are my favourite choices from Dulux Decorator Centre and designer Graham Brown.

We start off subtle with an elegant wallpaper option, perfect for a chic and dreamy teen room. This Graham Brown paper doesn’t shout and it isn’t garish. It won’t overpower a room, which is perfect for a potentially cluttered teen room, or a smaller room.

Part of Graham Brown’s children’s range at Dulux Decorator Centre, this paper could brighten up any room in your house. It’s bright and breezy and generally creates a positive atmosphere. That’s a big deal for a simple wallpaper. But just imagine what effect this elegant and happy wallpaper could have on your teen’s bad moods and even the stress of exams, tests and homework.

Chic and ultra-stylish, bring the streets of New York right into your teen’s bedroom with this wallpaper. The monochrome print decorating one wall, paired with monochrome accessories and just a splash of colour could transform your teen’s room into a stylish New York city pad.

Give your teen’s room a vintage look that will never go out of fashion. This iconic comic strip featuring Mickey Mouse is a timeless classic that could give your teen’s room a stylish feel while still remaining youthful. The muted, natural tones also mean that this wallpaper fromDulux Decorator Centre could sit with ease among old childhood toys and new trends alike.

This fabulous wallpaper comes from the new range from graffiti artist Kev Munday available at Dulux Decorator Centre. As part of the ‘New Wave’ design talent initiative, this wallpaper represents being creative, exploring your own skills and discovering yourself. What better backdrop for your teen’s bedroom than this jazzy, artistic wallpaper.

What teens really want to put on their walls is pictures of people they love. This could be their favourite celeb, a musical hero, pictures of friends, beloved moments and even pictures of family (they do love you really).  So what better wallpaper than one made up of these things and help your teen express themselves it their own room and really make it individual to them. This playful wallpaper features an array of frames just waiting to be filled with great memories, without the hassle of nailing frames into the wall and creating pesky holes

I know what you’re thinking, wallpaper is notoriously hard to work with. However, Graham Brown wallpaper is of the highest quality making it easy to apply and looks fantastic for years to come. Instantly create style and excitement in your teen’s room. With Dulux Decorator Centre’s vast range of wallpapers there’ll be something you both love so you can avoid any arguments.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Recurring Dream

I sat at my desk at work. Newly wed. I'd moved 40 miles away to make a home and a life with the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

I sighed, flicking my pen against the desk.

I worked in the office at the school where my husband was a teacher. Good school. Good job, really. There was just something missing. Something not quite hitting the mark with me. I remembered in school I was always called "swot" and when I got my GCSE results, the embarrassing photo in the local paper of all us "high achievers" from a normal school, normal area. We were going to do great things.

But life gets in the way of these great things. You make decisions, you change, you grow. Time flies. And before you know it, you're not that person anymore.

I'd been to uni as a teen, did a few months and left, for a myriad of silly reasons, mainly due to me not being ready, since then I'd had a recurring dream. At least twice a month for years. I would walk down the dingy university hallway to the tutor's room, hand in my assignment. The tutor would tell me how I had just got the essay in on time. Everything was OK, and I could finish my degree.

I'd wake up full of regret and dismay.

So one day, as I sat looking at the computer screen, the Open University home page was looking back at me. The blue glare of the screen, smiling graduates. I sigh again, Six modules. Six years. One degree. I knew if I went back to education it would be through the OU. Emily was five when we married, I had to work so the OU was a great place to start.

I looked at the screen again. Six, Years.

A flood of panic hits me.

I don't have time. Six years is forever. What if I hate it? What if I can't do it? Who am I anyway and what is the point?

I push these fears away and apply online. BA Honours in History. The modules look amazing. I think I might cancel when it comes to it anyway. Too much work.

Before I know it, I've applied to pay monthly. It's all so easy.

Over the next few days I remember the dream. The dream that haunted me. I think long and hard. I find myself antcipating that email that allowed me on the course. The email that told me I could pay monthly. The email that would put a stop to the recurring dream.

I got the email.

I never looked back.

I worked for those six years and I loved it all. We had two more children over this time. Life does not get in the way, does it?

I don't know if I mentioned, but I GOT A FIRST CLASS DEGREE.

OK, I may have mentioned it once or twice....But you know what.... the recurring dream stopped. I am now no longer haunted and I am back to being that person who can achieve great things if I want to. The whole world is there for me, as it will be for my children, and anyone else who wants to do what they want, chase their dreams.

Or just banish the haunting recurring ones.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

This Teen Thing

So we've been to the hairdressers today with the eldest. No big deal. It's just the hairdresser, right?

Except when the hairdresser then passes your daughter to her beautician mate who then proceeds to apply hot wax to her eyebrows, stick paper to it and then RIPS IT OFF AT FULL PELT.

OK so I am exaggerating slightly. Em asked if she could get them done, and I consented. But still, I feel like one of those crazy pageant mothers, dressing their daughter up like a doll and parading them.

I know it's not like that but it's all so weird, and I feel so very out of touch, I don't even get my own eyebrows waxed and I'm 33. She tells me now and again... "You don't understand people of my generation..." I look at her, gob wide open. What on earth...?

She constantly has her phone in her hand and sometimes I just can't reach her. She over-uses words like "Swaggy" and always wants to talk to me about Youtubers. I do listen and I try to be the best mother I can but honestly this is very hard. I feel like the stalk should have brought down a handbook the minute she turned 12, you know.

She likes to refer to me as her "bish" - I'm not too sure how I feel about this. The bin is always full in her bedroom, wrappers and crisp packets. She falls asleep on the couch, sleeps with her headphones in and generally will not lift a finger around the house. She shouts at us, snaps at us until we reach the end of our tether.

I know that this is all normal, but it can be so completely and utterly disruptive.

Then other times she is funny. She does funny dances. Weird accents. She has bundles of energy, she is loving towards the kids and tells me that I am "Swaggy AF."

I know this is a confusing and difficult time for her. I totally get it. But it is a confusing and difficult time for us as parents also. We have no idea what we are doing. We are going through this very strange time together. As her moods swing, so do ours. Our evenings are sometimes upside down as we try to get to grips with what he said/she said/they did argument we have.

But, like any phase with our children - we're just going to get through it together.

And besides, as well as being SWAG AF, BUSY AF, I am also PATIENT AF. I'm going to start selling range of T-shirts,  And Onesies.

What do you reckon???

Monday, 14 March 2016

Our Wedding

Last night I found myself looking over our wedding photos. As you know, we keep the top tier of our wedding cake on top of our fridge. We've been married nearly 6 years now so it has a lovely layer of dust on it...

Anyway, I digress.

Our wedding was lovely. Warren had proposed to me after about a year/18 months of us being together. We just knew, you know. I suppose the proposal is another blog post...

So, once he asked me to marry him I knew that I wanted to get married within the year. That was my only stipulation really. I just didn't want to be saving money up and booking a wedding years in advance - the most important thing about getting married to me was that we had our friends and family there to celebrate our love together and have a good time, everything else did not matter to us whatsoever.

I suppose you could say that we did have a shoe-string budget between us. We did save some money up, and both sets of parents helped. I think we were the most laid-back couple ever. Everything was literally "whatever." Warren wanted a blue tie for himself and all the men, but that was it. Everything else was just ad-libbed as we went along. I picked a lovely dress - everything was fairly fuss-free.

I had my hair done at the hairdressers but it was quite breezy and the curls easily fell out. It didn't matter. I didn't have a make-up person - I just wanted to be myself when I walked down the aisle.

This was our cake on the day. I had the topper made especially as a surprise.

I just wanted to marry Warren. I don't think I concerned myself with much else, and neither did he. We just wanted to have a big celebration and have everyone have a good time.

We got married in the church where Warren's Mum and Dad were also married. It was perfect.

Some of the photos are really lovely, but my God, I hated having the pictures done. The photographer put us in all weird poses and we were both uncomfortable.

I made the flowers myself, and we made the invitations and wedding favours too. It wasn't so much as a money-saving exercise as just wanting to have a real input ourselves to make it more personal.

Of all the photos, the ones where we are just getting on with it taken on iPhones are the best.
We had our reception in the club close by to the church. We had buffet food and wine on the tables. Everyone had a great time, and we couldn't have wished for a better day.

We have said that we will renew our vows at 10 years, possibly abroad on a beach or something like that. Just with the kids there, again - totally fuss-free and laid back. 

Six years on, here we are with two extra kids. I probably love him more now than I did then.


Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Smashed Cup

I opened the cupboard the other day, one of the cups that had been balancing precariously on top of the others came crashing out, landing on the worktop, breaking in two.

I sighed. It was Alice's Charlie and Lola cup. Fine bone China. Smashed. Useless.

It upset a little bit. You see that cup was not only Alice's cup, it had previously been Emily's and there was a bit of history there. I sat back and remembered the day I bought it...

I was miles away from home in Milton Keynes. I had been away for four weeks training with work, home at weekends. Emily was four, and my parents had agreed to have her while I completed my training. It was a pretty big deal. I was a lone parent, had just bought my own house and I wanted to progress with my career in industry. I was tenacious, fighting for promotion so that me and Em could have a better life.

It was all about money, of course - but it always is - when you've got none.

But this was a big deal. I would be doubling my wages with this promotion, they gave me a phone, a car...

But still I was miles from home and I missed my baby girl. It was Friday and I was due to drive home that afternoon. Home for good. To my new job, to our new life. I had passed all my finance exams and was ready to start my new job.

I had an hour to kill and I was tired and emotional. Excited. Self-important. Sad. The River is Wild by The Killers blasted out of the speakers in WHSmith as I wandered around, pretty aimlessly.

Run for the hills before they burn
Listen to the sound of the world
Watch it turn

I look at the books, magazines. The Killers blaring. It's too loud.

Or should I just get along with myself
I never did get along with anybody else
I've been trying hard to know what's right

Tears spring to my eyes because I don't know what I'm doing and I don't know where I'm going, and whether any of this is for the best. I'm alone in Milton Keynes training for this job, I miss my girl, I miss my home. I'm alone. I'm always alone. And without Emily I'm nothing.

Then I spot on the shelf a Charlie & Lola cup. Emily loved Charlie and Lola. It says, in childish handwriting "I am not sleepy and I will not go to bed."


I pull myself together and reach for the cup. It is £8. There is a gift bag. It is £4. I buy both because as right or as wrong as this career move may be, I have the money to pay for anything we want.


I put the cup in the bin, but not before taking a photo.

Sometimes we make big decisions in our lives. As a lone parent, mine were perhaps harder to make. At least they seemed that way to me at the time.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Review: Vileda Hot Spray Mop

As a busy household, we are always on the look-out for cleaning products and devices that are efficient, easy use to use and most of all: TIME SAVING. We are so busy that we need cleaning to be quick, but we also want a good job doing. I was really chuffed to be sent the Vileda Steam Mop to try out. I usually just use an old-fashioned mop and bucket on our laminate floors. There is nothing wrong with old school mopping, it's just so time-consuming filling the bucket, wringing out, etc. The hot spray mop looked like a great alternative for us.

The mop comes packaged with each section separate. It was very easy to assemble. It has a swivel head to attach and a pad that is fixed with Velcro - easy to attach and remove. The mop is cordless and very easy to use. I filled the water tank with cold water and plugged the mop in to charge. A green light flashes when the mop is ready to use, it is ready in 90 seconds and the water is heated to 100 degrees. I then unplugged the mop and was ready to go.

The swivel head makes this very simple to use, and the trigger releases the hot water on to the top of the micro fibre pad. The mop is lightweight, simple to use and is definitely much quicker than a mop. I loved the fact that once I have finished I can literally just rip the pad off the Velcro strip and chuck it in the washing machine, no worries, and it is ready to use again. It is lightweight, so I can easily take it upstairs to steam the bedroom floors too - always handy when you have three messy kids!

Overall, I really like this mop. It really does make cleaning easier and quicker.

The Vileda Hot Spray Mop is priced at £59.99.

Disclosure: I was sent this mop free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are my own.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Student Discount on Printing

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I have real issues with technology. Anything that has a wire or a plug - I might as well not bother. It literally will break as soon as I look at it. Laptops, Kindles, phones - everything that can be broken will get broken!

This is why I don't ever do any printing for myself. I don't do too much printing really, just the odd journal article to read on the bus, and my essays when I have finished them. I am really looking forward to next year when I print off my final dissertation and have it bound. I have never actually written a dissertation - with the Open University it was coursework or examinations, so it will be great to be able to have my work bound - something to be proud of!

There are some of reprographic places that offer a discount for student printing. Printing can be quite expensive so any discount that I can get will be great.

If you are a student then signing up to Hobs Reprographics on Facebook gives you 40% off - definitely worth doing!

One thing we are looking forward to printing-wise is updating our canvas of the kids on the wall. We had canvases made a couple of years ago - they are beautiful, we love them. However, I think it is time that we updated - the kids are much bigger now and we would just like a new one. The old ones will be re-distributed around the house of course! I'll be visiting Hobs Reprographics Liverpool to get our canvas - I can't wait.

Now all I have to do is get the three kids to sit still for long enough to have their picture taken!!

The below picture was the last time we were all photographed together, and we already have this one in a frame. Maybe we could attempt this again?

Disqus for Wife, Mum, Student Bum