Tag Archives: children

Can You Say That Again…?

My house is all about decibels. Friday night kitchen dance-offs give Alexa a headache from K Pop overload and Lee Butler’s 051 mixtapes…..

My three are early risers and so the racket begins from around 6am with renditions of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ as my alarm wakes the street. Cue jumping on the bed (them not me) and scootering around the kitchen when the washing machine hits full spin and Channel 5’s Milkshake presenters cry ‘Stomp and roar like a dinosaur’ for the 15th time that morning.

After hair dyers, tumble dryers, Radio City and Beats have been turned off and put away, the morning traffic, school kids, mobile phone alerts, blaring horns and schools bells replace the din.

 

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Day-rider toting, bus wanker complete with Kanye morning playlist turned up on Beats.

 

On the way to work the buses are packed with fellow commuters chatting too loudly on phones or to each other about how late/tired/overworked they are. Other people’s headphones vibrate with every genre, prompting me to turn mine up, much to the annoyance of the lady who sits next to me on the 10a from Knotty Ash. She’s not a fan of early morning Kanye.

At work the banter (I love that word, sorry not sorry) ranges from quiet words and carefully orchestrated meetings, taking turns to speak and listen in turn….to mad office sing alongs, multiple takes during filming and raucous laughter on location with clients. The thoughts, conversations and ideas running through my mind to their own beat.

Afternoon school run is again chaotic. Singing, chatting, talking about our day, what’s for dinner, homework and bedtime negotiations ensue. Dinner time at the table always, ALWAYS involves a spilled drink, which is swiftly followed by shouts of blame, rolling eyes and tired smiles.

Bedtime is a softer kind of noise, and man, I make those stories last as long as possible, knowing that when I’ve finished the 4th rendition of Oh No George….it all stops. At 8pm the only sound is the TV, or if I chance throwing the Dyson around.

The silence is deafening and it reeks of loneliness. You’d think that after a busy day with three kids, work and a 5km commute on busy roads, I’d be glad to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet? Sometimes I do, but it doesn’t last. The bird song and the far away sonic booms make me crave someone to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet with.

Alexa…….play…..anything

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Close All Browser Windows?

It’s 08:21 and so far this morning……..

I have stripped beds, put laundry on, made breakfast for the kids, washed up last night’s dishes, emptied the household bins, tripped out the front door in my pjays and ugg boots with said bin bags, re-wound my toddlers first yo-yo 3,985 times, checked to see what’s in for dinner, stuck the heating on, put cartoons on, organised colouring in, finally nipped for a wee and boiled the kettle……..twice.

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Whatever

I was supposed to be writing a minute by minute account of what my day is really like. It’s Thursday morning, the kids are off on half term break and I necked two Kopparberg and two glasses of wine while watching Sleepless in Seattle last night, so I’m less than fresh.

 

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Where Mummy’s go for a bit of peace

 

I’m taking the kids into the city today to do some cultural shiz, art gallery, museum, central library etc. They’re so desperate for a Gumball and Darwin figure from McDonalds that they’re willing to appease me through a couple of stories and ten minutes admiring my favourite Impressionist painting of all time. It’s the little pleasures that matter on days when you’ve got 469 mental browser windows open and battling with being all things to all people.

 

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I wont look better than this today

 

A friend suggested writing a blow by blow diary of a ‘normal day’ to see if I can take a different view on how I manage my time and commitments. It’s a great idea in essence but because I suck as time management I’ve not been able to fit it into my day – hmmm.

So here I am, typing with one hand, the other is holding Miraculous Ladybug as she kicks Spiderman’s arse, I’m being forced to watch Power Rangers and I’ve still got a 500 word article due before I bath the kids, wash breakfast dishes, grab a shower, iron, pack a day bag and head out the door for some R&R.

What’s your day looking like?

x

 

 

 

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6 Months and Counting

I bloody love a countdown, about as much as I love a challenge and 2016 will test me to the absolute limit.

September is a busy month for me with three little dudes starting new schools, seeing friends after the summer break, birthdays and re-settling into nursery routines. So in my infinite wisdom I thought, why not make that entire schedule more pressured by adding a whole new dimension.

September 11th welcomes the Tough Mudder challenge to the north west. A half-marathon distance littered with obstacles to test even the fittest of participants including ice, fire and gulp….electricity…not to mention all the mud.

This morning I have happily paid the grand total of £90 to take part in this frankly terrifying challenge, and that’s exactly what I love about it. Its a challenge, not a race. Its about camaraderie, team work and sheer determination.

It’s also about commitment. I’ve now committed to six months of serious hard graft to build physical and mental strength as I have none, zilch. (I had to mop my kitchen floor yesterday to stop me and the kids eating any more snacks before dinner) see….none!

So that’s me done, signed on the dotted line. I’m feeling positive, apprehensive but positive. I can train, I can conquer my fears and I can do this. There’s only one question left to answer now.

Who’s with me?

For more info and to hold my hand through this terrifying experience, check out Tough Mudder here. …please….anyone!?

 

 

 

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Community Spirit

Early Sunday morning was more eerie than the zombie apocalypse of Friday night for me as I walked quickly down a deserted Allerton Road towards the 156 RLC Regiment head quarters. Comforted only by the Costa hot chocolate warming my hands, I wondered what I’d let myself in for when I agreed to report on a community fun day in partnership with the Mather Avenue Tesco superstore……which had completely vanished in the dense fog.

For those who don’t know the area, Allerton is a beautiful suburb of Liverpool that is surrounded by lush green parks and boasts a thriving high street with national chain stores and independent businesses alike. There is a proud community feel to the area, with a busy library, well maintained green spaces and flower boxes dotted around the busy coffee shops. The small cluster of wine bars and pubs create enough bustle for a decent night out without causing havoc to the quiet residential areas. In short, Allerton rocks!

Luckily I made it, unscathed to Tesco car park and was greeted warmly by the 156 Reserves field kitchen who were cooking up a breakfast storm following an in-store trolley dash that Dale Winton would’ve been proud of!

Bacon butty in hand I met Tesco Community Engagement Officer and Wonder Woman Sam Campbell who, alongside 156 Regiment had come up with the idea of running an event to reach out to the wider community, shoppers and also other business owners to say thank you for their on-going custom and support. 156 Regiment have a 100 year history in the north west and are fiercely proud of their local connections. Many of the current reserves live and work in the area and enjoyed the opportunity to chat to the public about their roles supporting the regular Army.

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Kids at the event had a ball, donkey rides (I took about 50 photo’s of the adorable Paddy and Guinness …..I’d really like a donkey for Christmas now…hint hint) plus paint-balling, bouncy castles, penalty shoot out and larking about in military vehicles all washed down with slushies, candy floss and cake! That’s how to end the half-term holidays.

No community event would be complete without a visit from a high-profile guest. Liverpool Lord Mayor Tony Concepcion and his wife and Mayoress, Ann arrived to show their support for building strong community links that benefit the city as a whole and happily had a go at paintball before judging the bake-off competition.

I managed to wolf down just the one plate of award winning Army field kitchen chicken curry and rice (but only because I was supposed to be working) to ward off the cold, before saying goodbye to the donkeys and heading home to write up my notes and add all the pics to the gallery, here.

There’s something undeniably heart-warming about spending time with people who genuinely care about and make an effort for others. It’s contagious….and the Allerton community are dedicated to keeping that spirit alive.

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Twas the Week Before Halloween

Struggling to sit at my laptop long enough to type about Halloween as I already want to go mad and decorate the house…..and there’s still a WHOLE WEEK to go!

For the first time in forever (yep I just belted that out in the silence of my kitchen in my best Idina Menzel voice) I am going to be child free on Halloween…..and to celebrate this rare and momentous occasion I am attending some seriously awesome Halloween festivities!

First off I’m not completely shirking my parental responsibility, seeing as its half term I’ve booked some spooky treats for my little people too. We’re off to the Little School of Horrors, Gostins Building Liverpool on Tuesday with the eldest dude to partake in some special effects make-up work shops aimed at 8-11 year olds. Staff at the school have worked on shows such as Dr Who, Sherlock and Monroe, so I’m expecting my girl will have a blast. I’ll stick the pictures up afterwards and if you want to book on too you can find out more about their half-term sessions here.  HORN OF THE DEAD
As the Little School of Horrors sessions are aimed at older kids, I had to even it out and accommodate my little ones too. So, Wednesday and Thursday is drop-in-tastic at Make Time Studio West Derby with a whole host of ghoulish craft treats to create. Kate who runs the studio is just brilliant with younger kids too, getting everyone involved so we’re super excited to bring home some hand made trick or treat bags and masks. Sessions are from 11-4 and £5 per head. Find out more here.

Hopefully the kids will be worn out by Thursday afternoon…as on Friday things take a seriously creepy turn. If you’re at a loose end, over the age of 6……and fancy being in a Zombie movie…..head on over to 92 Degrees Coffee (on the corner of Hope Street & Hardman Street) and prepare to be part of a Zombie Flash Mob with Liverpool based company, Purple Revolver. The Horn of The Dead event aims to gather 100 real-life biters to be filmed on Hope Street for Bay TV, and with SFX make up legend Shaune Harrison overseeing the make-overs….you just know its going to be hellish! Having worked on Avengers, Harry Potter and Star Wars, Shaune and his team are going to transform Hope Street into a living nightmare. If you’d like to get involved tickets are £5 and proceeds go to The Alder Hey Charity. Timings and stuff here. pARTY dELIGHTS dAY OF THE DEAD THEME

Finally, on to the main event. Making the most of child-free-ness was always going to involve alcohol however because I’m on parr with Monica from Friends when it comes to party planning I’ve spent an age trawling websites to source the best quality decorations. This year me and Caz have opted for a The Day of The Dead theme with Mexican sugar skulls and flowers. Luckily for us, North West based, online party supplier, Party Delights have a HUGE amount of affordable Day of The Dead items, from table wear to full adult costumes and photo booth backdrops (some items are as little as 89p….I may have a gone a bit overboard) I managed to order everything we needed in one fell swoop and delivery was ridiculously quick. The only issue is not being able to break open the packaging and get the party going! I’ll post some pics of our goodies during the week because there’s no way I’m not opening that box until Saturday!

Keep it creepy!

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Eat Sleep WAHHHH Repeat

This weekend I suffered the ultimate shame. I had to listen to a stranger apologise for MY behaviour. I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life. This is how it came about.

I started the NCTJ course in early September and since then my feet have barely touched the ground! I’m on the go from 5am until 8pm most days, furiously scribbling shorthand exercises all over the Metro paper en route to college and consuming every possible headline on Twitter. Lessons involve British history, political debate, discussing media law cases and commentating on football matches, plus learning hieroglyphics……no wait sorry…I mean shorthand (which after four weeks I’m finally beginning to get my head around).

It’s hard work and I’m not ashamed to say some days I feel like I’m struggling to keep up. I come tearing out of college after hours of lessons to collect my three kids from nursery and school to go straight home and start dinner, feed them, clear up, tell them to quit bickering and pulling hair, start the bath and bedtime routine, throw the hoover around, while soaking up the tidal wave in the bathroom and wiping sticky finger marks off the TV and then pack bags for the following day and set out clean uniforms. Once they’re all in bed after four requests for a drink, a wee and yet another raucous rendition of Room on The Broom I can finally sit down to look over the days notes and try to retain least a little bit of the information I’ve learned. Sound familiar? It’s all go……well until it all stopped, on Saturday.

I was taken to The Royal Liverpool Hospital by paramedics Eddie and Rich, who after learning that I’m a trainee journalist, went on to tell me just how deeply the NHS cuts were being felt by staff and patients. It’s a sorry tale, and one I intend on writing up in detail in the coming weeks. (See Eddie, told you I’d give you a mention)

The medical staff in A&E worked out I was suffering from some kind of virus and left me with a dainty little cardboard pot in a busy triage while they prepped my paperwork. It was at this exact point that I lost control of my faculties. Feeling a wave of heat rising rapidly from my feet I tried in vain to get my Superdry hoody off over my head……only to faint forwards out of the chair and vomit all over the shoes of two ladies sat to my left. The last thing I remember is a nurse running towards me saying ‘Oh dear, I’m so sorry about that’

I came around a minute of so later laying on a bed feeling utterly horrendous and being glared at by two angry-looking ladies wiping their shoes with paper towels. Not my finest hour. It turns out I have a stomach ulcer and coughing up blood all weekend is a symptom of doing something wrong! I’d run myself into the ground, my diet was pretty disgusting and trying to be the best at everything clearly wasn’t working out.

Armed with a medicine haul Walter White would be proud of, I’m now back at home resting up. I’ve come up with a better strategy to still be awesome at everything but also to take better care of myself too. And the silver lining….easy weight loss!

Thank you so very much to everyone who looked after me. Paramedics Eddie and Rich, A&E staff Laura, Kayleigh and Rob and especially to the lovely catering lady who said she’s save me chicken curry and rice in case I got my appetite back. Legends!

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Educating Caroline

The beauty of having a blog is being able to write and share the things I’m passionate about and topping that list is family. Earlier this week my extended family got together at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to celebrate my younger sister Caroline and her graduation from John Moore’s University….with an impressive 2:1 in Psychology. Although she switched degree from Journalism after year one, I’ve no doubt Caroline will utilise her junior hack skills and psychometric testing methods to become the North West’s answer to April O’Neill (She watched a lot of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Diagnosis Murder as a kid)

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          Congratulations Caroline!!

I wish I’d known what I wanted to do from a young age, I’m envious of those who transition from school or university on a career path they are dedicated to and focused on. It’s taken me turning 32 to really knuckle down and decide what I want to do and more importantly what I can do with my future. Ultimately I want my kids to grow up seeing me work hard to meet my goals and for them to be proud of me. The greatest gift my Mum has given me is my work ethic, she too is a grafter and I want my kids to have that attitude towards getting what they want through hard work and effort.

Caroline, the youngest of three is the only one to complete a degree, as my older brother and I left education at HND level to pursue very different paths in the Civil Service and overseas. Typically we’ve come full circle and found the only way to truly get the work/life balance right is through ongoing learning and development and not by chasing the elusive 6 figure salary. The cost of education is soaring, and bursaries and grants are almost none existent for our age bracket making it practically impossible to take a career break to retrain. With yet more changes to the welfare system scheduled for the next academic year, the time to learn is now.

After much soul-searching, a number of Open University short courses and hundreds of emails to The City of Liverpool College, I am officially a proper, 100% student again in September as I embark on the NCTJ accreditation course and the first step to becoming a fully fledged Journalist. I’ve not been this excited since my friend Graeme told me Tom Hardy was in Size? on Bold Street! I’m already learning Teeline Shorthand and trying to get my head around McNae’s Law in Journalism tome….and despite it being challenging, it’s the most fun I’ve had in ages. AND…..the icing on the cake? Caroline and I are classmates……cue ‘You can’t sit with us’ meme’s a plenty on our Facebook accounts.

I’m ridiculously proud to say my brother is also returning to college in September to show the world what a truly gifted artist he is…no really we’re not just being supportive in that way families do….if he was crap we’d have told him by now! His earlier work in super car design,  still life and wicked comic illustrations are effortless and we’re all sick and tired of harping on about how he should do something with his talent. Finally, after 14 years in London, the daily slog of the civil service has ground him down to appreciate his natural flair and he’s raring to go. Watch this space for updates on his work…also if you want a 9ft tall My Little Pony/Marvel mural painting on your bedroom wall….he’s your guy!

So here’s to Caroline, so proud of you and love you very much. You’ve inspired me and Andy to try again x

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Full Circle Fashion

In just a matter of hours I’m going to my first ever red carpet, fashion event. As a little (and not so little) girl I often dreamed of what it would be like to don a beautiful gown, slip on some Louboutins and generally look a million dollars smiling and waving to the crowds. It doesn’t help my shredded nerves at all that Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz are reportedly attending! Eeeek.

My first taste of high-end fashion was when The Clothes Show came to BBC One, Caryn Franklin (Oh her silver streak!!) and Jeff Banks became my style mentors each Sunday evening and having to wait a whole WEEK for the next episode was complete torture! I spent my early years in Barnard Castle (in the glorious North of course) where I regularly visited The Bowes Museum with my mum and older brother. Even as a youngster I was fascinated at the old-fashioned clothes and toys on display, I’m still awestruck 25 years later at founder of the museum, Josephine Bowes’ pink taffeta ball gown which stands proudly along side regular exhibits from some of the worlds most famous designers. My love of fashion was born in those four walls.

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Style is Eternal, hugging your brother outside the museum is most definitely not!

I moved away to the big city (Liverpool) and studied Fashion and Textiles design at St Helen’s College with the most awesome bunch of friends and tutors a frustrated artist can ever hope to meet. From recycled fashion shows (I strutted down a catwalk dressed in shredded bed-sheets and a corset at one point) to cheering on fellow class mate, Kirsty Doyle in her Project Catwalk triumph I had endless fun learning pattern cutting, history of art, screen-printing and photography (to name a few components of the course) and learned how to charity shop like a pro. Life skills! Since my colourful college days I’ve worked in retail, merchandising, media and PR. I’ve had three beautiful children and chased off two husbands…..I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve moved house, dyed my hair and cleared out my wardrobe….things and people have come and gone. But Barnard Castle still feels like home and fashion is still very much my first love.

As a trainee fashion journalist I’m back in Barnard Castle for a few days as somehow I’ve been invited to the VIP launch of Yves Saint Laurent, Style is Eternal, the first exhibition in the UK to present a comprehensive display of the French fashion designer’s work and life…..at The Bowes Museum. I was tempted to write a piece on how much of a privilege it is for a museum in the North to host such a high profile event…….and while it is a major event I think it belongs at The Bowes, where Style is Eternal.

I’ve laid out my gown and carefully chosen my accessories ….no Louboutin’s for me just yet but I’d like to think Josephine would approve.

The exhibition runs from July 11th to October 25th so you too can fall in love with fashion. Tickets available here.

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Best Foot Forward

Over the last year I have suffered a brutal break up, I’ve kept a dignified silence on my social media accounts and even attempted reconciliation..but here’s the truth…I’ve broken up with shoes. I mean obviously I still wear them. I’m all for starting new trends but going barefoot in a big sprawling city is unlikely to catch on.

In my late teens I was swept off my feet. Finally freed from the school regulation low heel brogues and ballet flats, I fell in love with brands like Dune, Jones The Boot-maker and Ravel. l owned 130 pairs of shoes by my 17th birthday…..a constant source of drama between emerging fashionista and my practical shoe wearing, shift-working mum. Being taller than your average 17-year-old sixth-former (5ft 10′) I instantly loved wearing heels to further enhance my height and my passion for Mary-Jane’s showed no signs of slowing as I transitioned into my twenties and the world of office wear. I’d look down on those wearing kitten heels to work, thinking i was superior for being able to wear heels for the 9-5 day. I felt unstoppable.

The relationship grew intense with purchases of high-end, iconic footwear to mark the biggest events of my twenties. Dolce & Gabbana neon strappy heels, Vivienne Westwood pirate boots and a pair of the most stunning gold Gina courts among a sea of weekly high street purchases from River Island, Topshop and New Look…..I bought a designer pair for each of my children coming into the world (a Hallmark card clearly wouldn’t do)  I routinely take them from their dust covers now and admire them. (The shoes, not my kids)

So what changed, where did it all go wrong? In a nutshell I stopped making an effort for my shoes…and myself. I let myself get out of shape and stopped dressing up as much. I found solace in Nike and Converse, addicted to the comfort and less likely to break an ankle benefits of wearing flat shoes again. I also have a double Phil & Teds buggy to contend with on a daily basis and the 4 mile nursery/school round trip would take me twice as long in a pair of KG platforms. I felt resentful. Heels are a nuisance in my busy world of being a mum and championship multi-tasker. Elated to read about celebs breaking with tradition and rules at Cannes and rocking metallic, jeweled flats on the red carpet, I was convinced that it’s perfectly fine to live in flat shoes…

But oh the glamour of a svelte black platform court with a seductive red sole and those beautifully cursive letter spelling out Christian Louboutin…Carrie Bradshaw’s midnight blue jewel encrusted Manolo’s…..even Cinderella had it nailed back in 1950…… Oh heels I miss you!

Now that I’ve succumbed to practicality I realise just how much joy I gained from wearing impractical shoes. My confidence soared, my legs looked great and I felt young.

I’ve vowed to change, I’m only 32, we can get back to the good old times, I’m sure. By way of counselling I’ve booked myself and my favourite D&G neon’s into The V&A Shoes: Pleasure & Pain exhibition to rediscover my passion……and possibly my youth.

Wish me luck

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