Put the phone down and look up.

I’m setting myself a challenge. To put the smart phone down and look up more. Live in the moment if you will. It sounds crazy that I even have to set myself this challenge, but what with my blog, the Facebook groups I run, my love of scrolling through Instagram and my self-diagnosed addiction to all things social, I need to nip it in the bud and focus on what is important.

 
My daughter.

 
A poll was recently taken by Digital Awareness UK of 2,000 11-18 year olds and, amongst many other upsetting stats, it showed that:

 

“36% of pupils asked their parents to put down their phone… [of these pupils]…46% said their parents took no notice while 44% felt upset and ignored.”

 
I don’t want to be in that 46%.

 
Everyone says it all goes so fast and I’m now worried that I’ll miss the bits I am lucky enough to be around for, when not at work and when she’s not at her dads, because either she or I or both of us have our noses buried in a tablet or a phone.

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It’s unnecessary. It’s antisocial and it’s not how I want to parent.

 
Mum guilt is a bitch and there’s so many things I feel guilty about but can’t change. This, however, I can.

 
So, from school pick up to bedtime, my phone is going away. The tablet is only being used for half an hours entertainment if needs be whilst I get dinner ready (my tv is currently kaput) and my thrilling social life (ha ha) will just have to wait.

 
Who else fancies joining me? Let me know in the comments so we can be strong together!

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I’m sorry I’m the mum you hate. 

I’ve recently realised that I’m one of those mum’s. 

I sewed buttons and cuffs on one of Charlotte’s dresses and hunted down gold balloons so she could be Veruca Salt for Reading Week’s fancy dress day.  

Veruca Salt with Golden Egg and Golden Ticket of course.

I sent my daughter to school on Red Nose Day with her face painted. 

Just a quick face paint job before school.

And I have just spent the last weekend
and a couple of evenings
cultivating a floral masterpiece that is Charlotte’s Easter bonnet. 

She has had a hand in all these ideas, and is particularly fussy about what chicks and rabbits go where but, I realise, I’ve put too much effort in. 

Maybe the most over the top Easter Bonnet ever made?

This is not because I have oodles of spare time after I’ve been to the gym and had a manicure(I wish)

This is not because I want my daughter to win the
Easter bonnet competition I promise.

It’s because I actually love doing these things and there’s pretty much no other time I get to do this stuff! 

As a single parent who has 6/7 evenings stuck at home whilst Charlotte sleeps, it’s sometimes a choice between being creative and making something that Charlotte will be proud of or watch yet another box set on Netflix (If you haven’t watched Frankie and Grace yet, get on it)…or even more dangerous upload a dating app and chat to a variety of men who will all, I can guarantee, turn out to be knobheads at one point or another. 

Unfortunately my job doesn’t give me much room for manoeuvre when it comes to creativity either, unless I manage to sneak through a document typed in Calibri rather than Arial up the sign off chain. 

So, rather than pop to the supermarket to buy something ready done or not do something at all, I look like the ‘pain in the arse mum’ who has spent ages helping and curating something, has spent £100s on craft paraphernalia (I didn’t, I somehow already had everything in stock) and may even have her own glue gun (I do).

And for this, I’m sorry.

If it helps you to forgive me at all, I have not once baked cakes for the cake sale and Charlotte’s decided she now hates the Easter bonnet. Naturally.

Road Trip to the National Space Centre


Charlotte and I had a well deserved day out yesterday.

We had nothing planned for the weekend and, because Charlotte’s theme at school is Space and because we’ve watched, what seems like 101 experiments with Tim Peake and Chris Hadfield on YouTube over the past couple of weeks, I’d decided we’d have an educational jaunt to the National Space Centre which is, handily, less than an hour away from us. Despite this, I’m pretty sure the last time I went was when I was doing ‘Space’ in school and we got to go on a field trip so it’s been a while!

To be honest it was surprising we actually made it there at all. I’d threatened to not go so many times during the multiple tantrums this week. If she didn’t get her shoes on, if she didn’t stop pulling the dogs collar or if she didn’t stop singing ‘oh my gosh, look at her butt’ on the walk home from school over and over again.  

Because of this, and the hilarious notion that I might, one day follow through with my threats, I didn’t book online. 


Tip No 1. Book online. 

The tickets are no cheaper granted, but the queues are definitely smaller!

At £14 for an adult and £11 for children 5-16 (under 5s go free) it’s cheaper than a theme park and way more interesting with loads to do and see. I thought it was good value anyway but you can also turn your day pass into an annual pass for £0 extra! Bargain! 

Tip no 2: Check the website to see what’s on before you go.

The centre have lots of special events on over weekends and holidays which is great but if you add the word ‘Lego’ to any event I think you are guaranteed to triple your normal visitor rate which is what had happened this weekend. 

There were a few interactive bits within the Lego area but there were also lots of amazing, intricate models with signs saying ‘Do Not Touch’ which is just calling out for a toddler to grab half of a Death Star or something don’t you think? 

The centre also have evening talks and film nights I found out whilst standing in the queue for tickets. I’m quite excited by the idea of Starship Troopers in the planetarium. The most cheesy space film ever and a very guilty pleasure of mine and my brother’s. 

Tip no 3: Take your own lunch if going at peak times.

Unfortunately, due to the Lego invasion, the small cafe was having trouble keeping up and sandwiches were being made in the back no quicker than they were disappearing off the shelves. However, after the queuing we asked whether they did any gluten free options (I did have some snacks just in case) and we were told they could make it fresh and we could have any of the non-gluten fillings. One fresh ham sandwich scoffed so quickly I had to ask what bread they used as Charlotte never eats sandwiches! 

So, after our first trip and after my mind was completely blown learning about just how many stars are in the Milky Way (approximately 200 billion) and just how ridiculously huge the known universe is in the amazing planetarium, we came home knackered but very happy and we will definitely be back soon. 

Ps. The National Space Centre has not paid me to review our day, we just had a good time! 

 

Sayonara 2016, welcome 2017.


Happy new year everyone. I hope you had a good one last night, whatever that may mean. 

Despite being childfree, I spent the evening at my best friends house and drank absolutely nothing. I got back home just as Big Ben chimed on the car radio so went inside, put my pyjamas on and went to bed.

But all of it was exactly how I wanted to ‘celebrate’ at that moment. This week, let alone this year, has been emotionally draining for so many reasons so being with my best mate and having an ‘early’ night was perfect for me this year. 

Way better than strappy high heels!

Like everyone else, 2016 has been pretty shitty.

Personally I’ve been in pain for 6 months or so with gallbladder trouble, I’ve been messed around by more men than I can count, work has been awful and has not got better.

I also went on a stressful holiday to Lanzarote which was the least relaxing holiday ever. My flat sale fell through three goddamn times.

Charlotte was diagnosed with coeliac disease in April which created so much overwhelm for me I went into a bit of a decline and along with all the rest of the world’s goings on it could seem like a bad year but… 

On the plus side, I went on an amazing holiday to Portugal with my friends, I was also lucky enough to go to France with friends in October who also had had a new baby early in the year. 

I had my gallbladder removed fairly swiftly (for the NHS) and I’m on the mend, I’ve also lost a few lbs because I can’t eat very much! I’ve also worked out how to make my hair look awesome (post to come on this shortly!). I had a perfect week with Charlotte before she started school. Charlotte actually started school and is thriving, which is a joy to watch and we’ve just about got the hang of her diet with support from school and all of our friends and family who have been on a steep learning curve like me. 

Oh and the two big ones, of course, I got divorced and I have a boyfriend. The latter has not been without its stresses (the former hasn’t either)  because he’s also had a really difficult past few months but hopefully this is something we can both work through. I’ve had a lovely weekend away with him which was perfectly timed when we both needed to escape from norm. 

My own #bestnineof2016

So, looking forward, I’m optimistic that there will be lots of positives in 2017 and I will be able to cope with the negatives whenever they arise. I am starting a bullet journal (for the third time), and have just started the KonMari method of decluttering to organise myself better and life *is* going to be easier this year. 

Last year my main goal was to say ‘no’ more and I think I’ve done well but still need to work on this…along with my 10 other new goals for this year! 

What are your goals this year? Let me know in the comments and here’s to a fantastic, fulfilling 2017! 

I get by with a little help from my friends. 

Sometimes when I’m sat alone on a Saturday night I do question whether I have very many friends. Sad and depressing I know, but being a one parent family can sometimes be a quiet and lonely life. The evenings especially so, as you know that that’s when everyone else is having their family time, or couples time, or some lucky buggers are even free to go out in the evening without having to book a babysitter weeks in advance and you’re stuck at home with a sleeping child upstairs.

However, my perspective changed dramatically this weekend, after Charlotte was admitted to hospital and we had to stay in overnight. I now realise more than ever before that I do have many, many friends.

Poorly girl.
With these friends we may not be able to meet up very often, we may have known each other for ever, we may not have actually known each other that long, we may have met because of babies or toddlers, or work or where we live, we may have met through the powers of Facebook, we may not exactly even remember when or how we came to know each other but, that night I had so many offers of genuine help that I could feel this amazing support system around me and, oh my goodness, did I need it right then.

Those who didn’t live close were messaging straight away, checking on me and Charlotte and giving me strength to cope with the situation. Those who were close were offering practical help like phone chargers (life lesson no 1: never go to out of hours with 9% battery), dog walking, popping to the shops for food and drink or a toothbrush or just desperately needed moral support. 

They all had their own stuff going on that evening and they were willing to stop that stuff, even briefly, and help me and that made me feel very honoured.

Luckily we came out of hospital the next day and, despite more tests that still need to be done, lots of things returned quickly to normal. But those 12 hours of hell really made me appreciate those around me and realise that I am really lucky and that I do have my so called ‘village’. 

So, in this season of gratitude, good will and thanksgiving (a bit late I know), I want to thank all my friends, from the bottom of my heart. Because without them I wouldn’t have made it through half the challenges I’ve faced and I’m sure they’ll help me through the next lot too. 

The gall of it…

Two days ago I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed. It was planned as I’ve been having issues
with it for a few months but up until the very last minute I didn’t think about the fact that I was about to go into hospital to actually have an organ removed, and when I did I started crying. I realised that I had organised for my daughter to be looked after for the first few days but I hadn’t actually thought to make sure that I would be looked after. 

My mum was dropping me off at hospital and would then pick me up after all was done but it dawned on me that I’d be waking up in the recovery room on my own because, stupidly, I didn’t think I’d need anyone there.  My boyfriend would have been there if he could but has been working away and is poorly himself, my mum and dad reacted like it was just another normal day and nothing out of the ordinary was happening, my best friend is out of the country feeling very helpless as she couldn’t be there but it was my own fault.  I’d pretended that I’d be ok, I’d pretended that I can cope with being on my own all the time but as you’re walking towards the anaesthetists room in a backless gown, compression socks and slippers you kind of wish that someone else would be walking with you. 

Nothing sexier than compression socks

I did wake up on my own, in a lot of pain and, after crying because I couldn’t breath without it hurting, the nurse asked if anyone was with me I just started crying all over again.  She then asked if anyone was coming to see me and I had to say that I didn’t know and cried a bit more. I was all alone at one of the most vulnerable times and I’d let that happen. 

I had to stay in over night as me and morphine do not get on well and my blood pressure dropped quite drastically.  I did get a visit from the boyfriend who looked almost as broken and tired as me but it was a lonely few hours waking up expecting to have slept for hours however looking at the clock and realising it was only 45 mins. 

I am now at my parents house because, as Mum had to help me get my shoes on when picking me up, I think they realised I’d probably not survive on my own straight away and they have been looking after me ever since. 

It has taught me something though, that I really should put myself first more often. Or at least a close second after Charlotte because there are times when you just can’t do everything yourself and sometimes you need to accept that and just ask for help.

I have a confession…

I have a confession and those of you who follow me on Instagram may have twigged by now…

Nope, I haven’t had a mental breakdown…well not quite anyway!

 

Nope, I’m not pregnant (thank goodness)

 

Nope, I’ve not killed someone at work and writing this from a prison cell (that’s probably the most likely of these three options)

 

But yep, this serial failed dater actually has a lovely, legitimate boyfriend. Sound the fanfair!!


My first sneaky photo of us.
My first sneaky photo of us.
To those of you who have never read my blog before this might not seem like a fanfair type event.  Everyone has relationships don’t they?  But after three long years of being single and dating a myriad of idiots, knobheads, commitment phobes and emotionally unavailable men I finally seem to have found a good one.  The coveted needle in the haystack.

 

It was a marvel that I ever met this guy in the first place though as I cancelled all my dating apps (yes, again) and declared that I would be single for a year without looking for ‘the one’ (yes, again) after I got screwed over by a deceivingly ‘nice’ guy (yes, again).

 

There was, luckily, one guy who slipped through the net though and despite all my new promises to myself we kept chatting and eventually managed to meet up and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

Now we have been dating for three whole months and I think I’m getting the hang of how to have a boyfriend at 32 and when there’s children involved. Yet another learning curve to make my way up but I’m enjoying it so far.

 

I was even brave enough to ask for our first 'couple' selfie.
I was even brave enough to ask for our first ‘couple’ selfie.

The cost of coeliac disease

There were lots of things I was completely ignorant to when it came to coeliac disease. My best friend has been diagnosed with it for about 10 years now but I still had no idea about the cross-contamination side of things until Charlotte was diagnosed.

Did you know that even a crumb of normal bread can actually harm someone with coeliac disease? This isn’t just an intolerance where you might get a bit bloated, gluten actually kills part of a sufferers intestines so that it can no longer absorb vital nutrients. 

Because of this it is suggested that you should change a number of things which you may never be able to say is completely gluten free. So the literal cost of coeliac disease for us so far is…

1 toaster £25

3 baking trays £7.50

3 chopping boards £5

2 non-stick frying pans £25

4 plastic spatulas £8

3 mixing bowls £14

Officially I shouldn’t use a dishwasher which has previously washed glutenend items but unfortunately my budget doesn’t stretch to a brand new dishwasher quite yet, although I am thinking its a very good excuse to bring my ‘new kitchen’ project forward a bit!

Carefully chosen gluten free picnic courteousy of M&S

This doesn’t even take into account the fact that gluten free products are SO much more expensive to buy that the gluten filled alternatives. Bread which tastes similar to normal bread can have a mark up of at least £2 more than your average white sliced loaf. 

Luckily, in most of the UK, diagnosed sufferers can get some items on prescription, however, this is a minefield and we’re currently trying out every option available to find out what is edible and what is definitely not! 

There is talk of the prescriptions being scrapped, especially adult ones and if they’re not scrapping them, they’re making the list of things you can have shorter by the day. Thankfully Warwickshire seems to be holding on to most items for now but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. 

Obviously the biggest cost is Charlotte’s health and this is the reason I am happy to pay for all these items…now just to work on friends, family, restaurants and schools to make sure they’re as precious about her health as I am. 

Healthy kid!

Fun Friday – review of Finding Dory

It does feel a little bit like the summer holidays over here even though Charlotte will still be going to nursery for four more weeks. We have fun things planned for our Friday’s off (Fun Friday’s if you will), we have all our weekends together booked up with people to see and places to go and a few days spare to still enjoy the sun which will hopefully decide to stick around a bit longer. (It is however raining as I write this!)

 

For our first Fun Friday of then summer we decided to go and see Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory movie.  It was released today so the cinema was busy but we went to the early showing so still had enough room to move (well I could have if Charlotte hadn’t insisted on sitting on my lap throughout). Click here for the link to the trailer.

 

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I was was looking forward to a light, hilarious caper with a small amount of mild peril as per the previous film Finding Nemo, which I may or may not have owned before Charlotte was even a twinkle in the postmans eye (not really if my ex reads my blog!).  We’ve recently seen The Secret Life of Pets and before that Zootropolis which we both loved.

 

But…

 

…oh how wrong I was though. For a U rating this had some really adult themes and I’m actually quite shocked.  I’ve always loved Disney/Pixar collaborations for the great mix of children’s humour with a smattering of ‘over the kids heads’ jokes for the poor parents having to watch yet another U or PG rated film, but this was severely lacking in the humour.  Yes, there was some funny seals for about four minutes. There was a crazy bird. An octopus gets splatted a couple of times but the rest just felt a bit angsty.

 

I won’t spoil the story for you in case you decide to see it but the vague gist is that Dory is on a quest to find her long lost parents. Cue flashbacks of cute baby Dory with parents, flashbacks of baby Dory trying to make friends but failing. Cue tears from me (although I cry at everything nowadays) and a very confused, emotional four year old.

 

I have to say I was quite disappointed with the film after waiting so long for the sequel to one of my most favourite kid’s films. So maybe save the £20 for another film or something else that won’t leave you having to console your child and secretly having to find the tissues too.  We went to our free art gallery after the film which Charlotte seemed much more enthralled about.

 

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Charlottes drawing the ‘lady with boobies’ (not its official title) at the Royal Pump Rooms Art Gallery in Leamington Spa

 

 

Living for the weekend – mum style.

This morning I have, so far, done two loads of washing and hung them out, cleaned my bathroom, unblocked a u-pipe (or whatever it’s called), been adorned with stickers, watched crap kids programmes and had the obligatory morning argument with Charlotte. 

Despite all this I really do live for my weekends at the moment and this one is no different. 

I’ve had a pretty rubbish week. A scan which showed I have gallstones (even though that wasn’t actually what they were looking for), a hot and sweaty trip down to London, a horrendous pain in my abdomen that has lasted three days and counting, which apparently has something to do with the aforementioned gallstones. Work is just awful at the moment. We’ve had tantrums every evening either due to over tiredness or the heat and I’ve also been messed around by yet another sociopath. So yeah, it’s been emotional. 

So I’m hoping this weekend is better. 

Whether I have Charlotte or whether it’s one of my child free weekends I’m determined to make the most of them so after a bit more tidying up we’re off out to find a gluten free and now low fat/no fat lunch and then heading to a street party in the heart of Warwick. Then dinner with a friend. 

I will not let one shit week crush me but if next week could be better, that’d be great! 

Also I’m starting Blurt Foundation’s #365daysofselfcare challenge as I know I’m rubbish at looking after myself and it’s becoming apparent I need to for my health and sanity! Come and join in with me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.