Mellow Mummy: June 2010 : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 29 June 2010

The Gallery - Serenity

A Mellow Puma (not my Puma, I might add)

I am in a happy place.

Satiated. Stretched out in the comforting warmth of an English summer. The sun gently caresses my face and soothes my satisfied belly.

This bed of cool, bouncy grass creeps up around me as if I had been lying here peacefully since Spring. Alone with my thoughts, I drift aimlessly through a field of wonderful daydreams. A giggling child, a gently rocking swing, the murmur of a passing bumble bee. Where am I?

Oh yes, I'm here, relaxed and mellow. Listening to the distant rumble of traffic and watching the slow progression of a plane at 34,000 feet sharing my vast blue sky.

This is serenity.

Now, I wonder whether it's dinner time yet?

This post was written for this week's writing workshop and photo gallery with the theme 'Emotions' - Serenity is a state of being devoid of stress and emotion.

Monday 28 June 2010

Travel With A 1-Year-Old : Be Airport Savvy

Airports. Ug. I found them stressful enough before I became a parent, but now... OMG! I've travelled abroad twice now with Lara so I have some tips and rants to share...

The first tip I have is to make sure you know what your plan of attack will be if you are bottle-feeding your baby.

The first time I took Lara on a plane, she was 3 months old. At the time, I had just started combination feeding and as we were going to warmer climes, I also needed to offer cooled boiled water. I did my research in terms of what I would/wouldn't be allowed to take through security in terms of formula and water and found that although the rules are clear (you can take what you need for your child during the flight but you may be asked to sample it), that in reality, it is very much up to the individual member of staff you meet at the security desk and that the rules and approaches differ greatly between airports.

We were told that at Gatwick you could buy cartons of ready-made formula from branches of Boots in the departure lounge. They only had SMA available so if you are after a specific brand, I'd recommend giving the branch a call beforehand as I believe they are happy to get different brands in on request but it does all seem like a bit of a faff. At Heathrow, I've found that the Boots branches stock a much wider range of brands and types of formula.

That first trip, I chose to take powdered formula and bottles of cooled boiled water through UK security. We were asked to taste the water but, more stressful than that, Lara was subjected to a detailed search! After queueing over 40 long, hot minutes for an X-Ray, we were stopped as I passed through the scanner and they member of security staff insisted on running the metal detector over her causing to scream even louder than she already was.

A random photo of a sleepy Lara

This time around, UK security was a lot less stressful now that I don't have to deal with cooled boiled water and sterilised bottles. We were however asked to taste the sachet of emergency fruit puree that we took for Lara, even though it was well within the guidelines for the maximum volume of liquid allowed. This is particularly annoying given that it then had to be used within 24 hours when I had been hoping not to have to use it as all. I'm pretty certain they only did it because they didn't recognise what it was.

My second tip is to make sure you take plenty of supplies of all the essentials such as nappies, wipes, cream and snacks.

On my recent trip to the states we took just enough disposable nappies and infant formula to last the trip. On our last day I had 6 nappies and 3 sets of powder left for the journey, which should have been plenty. As we entered the airport we discovered that our flight was delayed by 15 hours – argh. In Newark airport there is simply NOWHERE that you can buy any of the above baby essentials... NOWHERE. As the day wore on we were getting low on nappies, so low that I begged the airline for some but they bring them in from the UK and had already run out on our plane. Argh. We finally made it home with a single nappy to spare – that was close!

My final tip is to pay attention to what the airline want you to do with your buggy! Not every airline or airport is the same. Some places like you to take the buggy all the way up to the aeroplane door, others require that you leave it at the departure lounge or gate. Some places will send your pushchairs through on the conveyor belt to baggage reclaim, others will plonk them at random places in the airport. It is best to find out from the staff on your plane exactly what will happen to your pushchair otherwise you may find yourself hanging around like a lemon, as we did, waiting for a pushchair you should have picked up miles away.

Sunday 27 June 2010

The Sunday Review - The Wean Machine

Images courtesy of Cheeky Rascals

I recently met a fascinating and inspiring local business woman – Tilly Beazeley, inventor of the Wean Machine. Tilly is a bubbly soul who is passionate about feeding our children healthy, REAL food.

If you've read my post about Baby-Led Weaning, you'll know that I take a pragmatic approach to feeding my daughter Рfor us, the first stages of weaning were not all about finger-foods but about home-made pur̩es getting lumpier and more adventurous every day.

It's a shame that I didn't discover the Wean Machine until after Lara had started feeding herself – it would have been absolutely perfect for us to make lumpy, textured baby foods to challenge Lara's taste-buds, teeth and jaws during those early days of weaning. The Wean Machine is a plastic gadget (BPA-Free, Phthalate-Free and PVC-Free, naturally!) designed to help you turn real food into baby food anywhere and everywhere you go. It is incredibly easy to use – just insert the food, give it a squeeze and hey presto, baby food!

As a travel gadget, the Wean Machine is pretty nifty. I was (and still am) often tempted to take pre-packaged food out with us when away from home for meal-times because it avoids the mess of spoons and bowls having to be brought home in the changing bag. The Wean Machine is self-contained, the food gets squeezed into its own integral 'bowl' and the spoon that accompanies it stashes tidily away inside the lid during travel. As a plastic tool, it is dishwasher safe too, so very easy to clean.

Images courtesy of Cheeky Rascals

The Wean Machine is pretty sturdy – you can squish all sorts of cooked foods in it, and a few softer, raw ones too. It encourages you to offer your child real food. When you're at home, at friends or at a restaurant, if you're careful with the choices you make, there is no need to buy different food for your baby, you can use the Wean Machine to squish some of your own. Right from the very beginning, Lara has (where appropriate) eaten the same meals as us; I don't want her to grow up thinking that there's a difference between 'children's food' and 'grown-up's food' and the earlier I can get that message across to her, the better. I spent many an evening zuzzing samples of our dinner with a hand-blender, and I know plenty of people who invested in mini food-processors to get them through the first stages of weaning but an electronic blade, however efficient it may seem, breaks down many of the chemicals in food, and can cause them to change state (such as potato which goes incredibly stodgy).

The Wean Machine has had a lot of thought put into it. The gadget is often accompanied by a picture board-book called “What Am I Eating?” which has some suggestions for recipes and large, bright, bold pictures of foods for your baby to identify. It may be awfully middle-class of me, but, as a foodie, I'd much rather that Lara learned to say 'Butternut Squash' before she learned to say 'Crocodile'.

You can find the Wean Machine at Kiddicare and Mothercare and some specialist baby outlets for around £19.99 (similar to the cost of a mini-food processor which you can't take out and about with you!).

Saturday 26 June 2010

Cybermummy Meet & Greet

I hope I'm not too late to introduce myself (care of MummyShoes). So here, for all of my readers who will be at Cybermummy this weekend, are my vital statistics.

Name:Emma Button
Blog:Mellow Mummy
Twitter ID:@JumblyMummy
Hair:Scraggly long brown hair with blonde highlights
Likes:Cooking, eating, wine, biscuits, F1, cuddly bears, smellies, pampering, holidays, photography

See you at Cybermummy!

Friday 25 June 2010

Crawling Back Into My All-Male World

Back in January when I wrote my 'Working Mum Resolutions', I promised myself that I wouldn't crawl back into my all-male world. I'm struggling to keep that promise even though I thought I'd done enough to ensure I made time for mummies!

I work in a department where 95% of the staff are male, possibly more. They're a great group of blokes (and because most of them are daddies, many of them are Mellow Mummy readers); I even socialise with some of them. I like living in an all-male world and have always been more comfortable in male company than female so I wouldn't change it for the world.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I crave a little bit of female company... even if it is just so that I can talk about mummy-related things without people switching off.

When I started maternity leave, and after Lara was born, I made a number of mummy friends. NCT ladies, neighbours, sister-in-laws and mums from swimming classes, music classes and baby clinic. It felt good to have a different type of person to talk to, to spend time with, to enjoy a coffee with. I made the most of my maternity leave with walks in the park, car-shares to exciting places and shared an occasional email rant.

At 7 months, I went back to work a lot earlier than most of the other mummies I knew. I reserved my one day off a week for doing fun things with Lara and quite often this involved visiting the other mums and their babies. I thought I was doing a really good job of keeping in touch.

Then, about 2 months ago, other people started returning to work and now the opportunities for female company are few and far between. None of the other mums from our swimming class renewed for this term (which means Lara is swimming with 18-24 month olds which is actually quite cool). I do still get the chance to go for an occasional evening meal and I have a couple of NCT meet ups planned; but in general, I've gone back to my pre-baby friends and colleagues. It seems a shame to have reverted back to exactly how things were before.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The inter-web! Next month I will be meeting up with lots of my online bloggy friends at the Cybermummy conference. The idea of a whole day with 100 or so other women (and a handful of men) is actually slightly terrifying to me! And then, in September I will be meeting some more of them at the MADs award ceremony. Currently, the only females I regularly keep in contact with are family and the amazing group of online mummies to be found on twitter, in the blogsphere and on forums. I'm sure they'll turn out to be a great group of mummies but I could do with some real female friends too, not just virtual ones!

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Desert Island Discs - A Meme

Carol from New Mummy has tagged me in the Desert Island Question meme.

I have to answer the following three questions:-
You are being sent to a Desert Island & can take:
One person (living/dead/known to you/famous etc)
One piece of music
One book or item of reading

I have put a lot of thought into this. It's blimming difficult.
Person - Lara of course. Other than Mr B. who is wonderful, I think I'd get easily bored of anyone else. Lara could grow old with me on a remote island and look after me as I age! She's entertaining, resourceful and is going to grow up to be a clever sausage.

Music – Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. I listened to this at University when I was in halls of residence. I would play it on repeat all night to drown out the noise of unpleasant roomies and general student drunkeness! It is incredibly peaceful and has so many levels – you discover a new sound every time you listen to it. I could never tire of Tubular Bells.

Book – The Complete Works Of Shakespeare. Well, it would certainly pass the time. There is stuff in there to make you laugh, to make you cry and to remind you of the vulnerability of humanity. I have a copy that Mr. B. gave me a few years ago. I started at page 1. I don't think I got very far. Must try harder.

I'm tagging:-

20 Something Mum
Me, The Man & Baby

Monday 21 June 2010

12 Months Of Motherhood

Lara is One. It's hard to believe. The last 12 months have flown by.

In twelve short months I have learned a lot. I feel like I've changed – Lara has brought out the mellow, calm, less-stressed side of me (she seems to have had the opposite effect on Mr. B. though).

From the very beginning, I have learned to resign myself to what life has to offer you. Not in the negative 'ho, hum, I guess I'll just have to deal with it' way... but in a 'there's no point fighting this, so how can I turn it into a positive thing?' way. Whether it's a birth plan that doesn't quite work out, or a wrecked body that takes months to heal, as long as you keep on living your life and doing what feels right, at the time, for you, then things will work out just fine.

In my pre-mummy life I would always have stressed about turning up on time and about having everything I need ready for me at all times. Mr. B. thought it was funny! These days I am much more relaxed about things. I very soon learned that after you take into account feeding times, nappy changes, packing a changing bag (and re-packing it once the baby has unpacked it for you), putting the buggy in the car and strapping a wiggly child into a car-seat... getting anywhere on time is an impossibility. As long as we try our best, no-one is going to mind if we're a little late.

I have learned to make time for others. Becoming a mummy is a big shock in terms of finding time for yourself. The constancy of motherhood means that you must always be looking out for your little one, and concentrate less on yourself (without totally losing your me-time: it's a tricky, but important balance). I think this has helped me to focus less on myself and more on those around me – I genuinely feel that my relationships with friends and family have improved because of this.

I have learned that babies do things their way and at their pace. To start with I was governed by the 'little red book' and engrossed with stories from friends and families about growth charts and development trackers. After just a few months it was obvious to me that Lara was unique. All babies are so let's just stop comparing them to one another.

I have learned that it IS possible to work and bring up a child without feeling guilt. I feel a great sense of pride when I see my little girl getting on so well with other people's children and mimicking the older children's actions. I feel like I have offered her a lot of opportunities that she would not have had if she had just me to spend her days with.

I have learned to breast feed, to bottle feed, to spoon feed and to let Lara go with the flow (baby-led feeding). I have learned to change a nappy, bathe a baby, give a baby medicine (urgh). All important skills I had no need for until 12 months ago.

I'm sure there are lots of other things I have learned but I'm POSITIVE that I will keep on learning this parenting malarkey as Lara gets older.

Sunday 20 June 2010

The Sunday Review – Brother Max Home & Travel Weaning Bowl

I'm a great fan of Brother Max products. We have been using the Combi-Bib since Lara first started weaning and their set of Bath Toys is one of the best baby products we own (I'd recommend them to any parent of a baby or toddler – they're fab).

I recently tried their feeding / weaning bowls and have not been disappointed. Brother Max products always represent great quality; their feeding bowls are made from shiny, sturdy red plastic – it is BPA-free and so it is a safe for your baby; it is easy to clean and it looks great.

Image courtesy of Brother Max

The travel weaning bowl is a bright red bowl with an in-built portioner that allows you to separate out two different foods in the same bowl. The bowl is a good size – when I first started weaning Lara, I found that many of the bowls and portioners I tried were simply too small to cope with her enormous appetite!

Brother Max products are designed by parents for parents. The bowl is shaped so that it fits comfortably in one hand – it has a thumb hole for you to grasp it with, and a gentle bump in its shape to rest in your palm. The bowl comes with a suction pad so that you can stick it to a high-chair or table when your child is ready to take over and start feeding themselves.

The Brother Max travel weaning bowl comes with an extremely secure lid that fits over the portioner and ensures that the food in each side does not mix. The lid fits so firmly that I have no concerns about just plonking the bowl into Lara's bag when I take her out to the childminder in the morning. The lid has a lift-up flap where you can store the two weaning spoons that come with it.
The weaning spoons are heat-sensitive and change colour when the food inside is too hot. I find the spoons a little too heat sensitive for Lara these days, and certainly too small for her – they have always felt a little too small for my long, gangly fingers to control properly but they are compact, and great for taking out and about.

I have found the Brother Max travel weaning bowl to be compact, useful and incredibly easy to clean by hand, and in the dishwasher. The bowl is microwave-safe which is great for when I send Lara to the childminder with a hot meal for her lunch.

Brother Max also sell a set of 3 bowls designed to cater for your baby's three meals a day. The bowls are the same as the one that is used in the travel weaning set but without the in-built food portioner (which you can use in these bowls if you wish). You can also buy the heat-sensitive spoons separately.

The Brother Max travel weaning bowl and spoons are definitely coming with us on holiday.

Friday 18 June 2010

A Year In Pictures

Lara will soon be 1. Wow, what a year. I thought I'd celebrate with a series of images that capture her wonderfulness over the past 12 months.













Wednesday 16 June 2010

Gifts For A Newborn

I told you that Lara is no longer the baby of the family. A new baby in the clan means that I need to come up with a present idea for a newborn. Having become a mum myself, I realise now how little thought I put in to these things before and this being a second child for the Auntie and Uncle involved, I want to buy them something really useful or totally and utterly fabulous.

Some of the gifts Lara received from her Aunts and Uncles were clothes we grew to love, others were things we could never have lived without – take for example the loopy links... they gave us six months of peace and quiet. I need your help with this one – below are my ideas so far, do you have anything else you'd like to add?

A Groovy Baby-Gro or Romper
I've had my eye on these ones from Oh Baby London for a while.

Image courtesy of Oh Baby London

And I recently saw this fab Dr. Suess one from Fabric Flavours - they both make me wish Lara was still in rompers. I've kept lots of Lara's gender-neutral basics so I know that if I had another baby I'd just want a few special pieces of slightly-out-of-the-ordinary newborn baby gear.

Image courtesy of Need to Know PR

Taggy Blanket
We received one of these a little late. Lara loved it for a while but she quickly developed an interest in toys that require a little more involvement – noisy toys, toys that open and close etc. I wish Lara had a taggy blanket at birth. Ours is a Raggy Tag that came from Little Stuff. It's pricey, but makes a lovely gift.

Amber Necklace
After my teething trials, I now swear by Lara's amber necklace. I wish I had known about it when the first few teeth arrived. In a little presentation box, I think an amber necklace would make a lovely gift.

Baby CD
Lara was given a copy of Baby Mozart by her favourite Auntie and Uncle. I can clearly remember a night, not long after she was born, when Lara simply wouldn't go back to sleep after her 3am feed. She was screaming and fidgety. I remember we introduced a dummy that night (hmmm) and I can see a vision of her now, lying in her vibrating seat, dummy-in-mouth, listening to Mozart. Finally, the combination sent her off to sleep. Baby Mozart is still a way that we soothe Lara. Our new lullaby CD is also a winner. I'd recommend them for any new Mum. If you're on the lookout for something a little out of the ordinary then I'd wholly recommend the Rockabye baby CD's – lullaby renditions of Queen, Nirvana, U2, Bob Marley, Metallica, Radiohead, The Beatles and lots more – very entertaining!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Mummy's First Birthday Cake

At the weekend we held Lara's very first birthday party! Lara, as always, consumed huuuuuge quantities of food.

The true Mummy inside me knew I had to at least attempt a birthday cake, despite very little experience in the whole baking domain. There were tears, I admit; but the end product turned out pretty well in the end. Can you guess who it is?

Monday 14 June 2010

This Time Last Year...

...I was known as Emma, not as Mummy.

… I was overdue. I had a belly like a space-hopper and I felt too huge to move.

… I had been on maternity leave for a fortnight. The novelty had already worn off. I was bored of 'Bargain Hunt'.

… I had entered almost every single competition on the entire internet! I had been through all of the competitions on Loquax for Health & beauty products, Parenting products and Kids prizes and had started entering for CDs, DVDs and gadgets. (I would reap the rewards a couple of months down the line when the prizes started coming in!)

… I was baking hot and struggling to keep cool. The heatwave was at its peak and I had no skirts or dresses I could fit over the bump. In the end I had to go and buy a couple of skirts with elasticated waists which seemed such a shame when I knew I just had a few days left before the baby would arrive.

… I had never read a blog post, let alone written one myself!

… I had feet like a clown. The only relief I got was when I had a pedicure. My salon uses a lovely mint foot scrub by Bio Sculpture so I sent Mr B on a search around the whole of the south of England to see if he could find me some. We now have a cupboard full of imitations which never quite lived up to the real thing.

… I didn't quite know what I had let myself in for!

Sunday 13 June 2010

Fathers Day Number Two - Reflections and XBox Games

Next weekend will be fathers day. It will be Mr B.'s second father's day as a daddy. Last year father's day came and went and he barely noticed it happen. This year I'd love to help him make more of it but sadly we are going to be in the USA, probably recovering from an enormous post-wedding hangover.

Last father's day, Lara was just a few days old. Surprisingly, she did manage to nip out and buy him a card. Funnily enough, I think at that point, Lara's Dad was most able to appreciate the magic of fatherhood. After the first couple of days, the enormity of parenthood had sunk in. There was a schedule of sorts (we knew to sleep whenever we could) and lots of the firsts had been done – first feed, first bath, first XBox game. Now, it was time to get down to the business of parenthood.

For my husband, looking at that photo makes him go all wibbly. It is only when you look back on the photos that you realise quite how small and delicate your child was. I'm sure that it helps you to appreciate how vulnerable they were when they were tiny, and how much of an achievement it is to have brought them this far, however many years you have been celebrating father's day.

I'm glad he goes wibbly. I'm glad he reflects on the last year with as much fondness as me. I hope that as Lara grows older, she'll have more special daddy moments such as the one above and that she'll appreciate the things he shares with her in the same way that I do my own father (see potatoes and gratitude !).

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Baby Of The Family No-Longer

It is the end of an era. Lara is now no-longer the youngest grandchild in Mr B's family. Lara's new baby cousin has arrived, bringing Lara's cousin count to 7.

I have mixed emotions about this. Firstly, it is an undeniable sign that my little baby is growing up. She is no longer the little baby. She's just a baby, perhaps even a toddler (she's not quite toddling, but you get the idea).

Next, it means that she will no longer be the centre of attention when we get together with the family. Most of me thinks this is a good thing – it takes some of the pressure off me to tell exciting stories about Lara's latest tricks, and to dress her up in cute clothes and generally impress people. It is about time for Lara to learn that she isn't the centre of everyone's world. I suspect, given that she spends plenty time around other children with the childminders, that this will be an easy lesson to learn but I'm glad that it's happening now rather than if or when we decide to have more children ourselves.

Finally, it means that there will be a little one about and this spells trouble. Broodiness. I'm not entirely sure how my brain and body will respond... we shall see! All I know is that before Lara came along I was really uncomfortable around other people's babies and never wanted to hold them but that this time around I know what I'm doing and will feel more confident. I will probably be wanting a snuggle.

Monday 7 June 2010

The NCT First Birthday Party

This weekend the Mellow family went for a picnic in the sunshine with all of the other families from our NCT classes. I even baked a cake – behold my first ever attempt at icing!

Looking at the other babies, it is hard to believe that this time last year, many of the little munchkins didn't even exist, and those who did were really very tiny indeed! Mind you, looking at the other mummies and daddies, it is hard to believe that in the space of just one year we have all been transformed from nervous, tired wrecks into confident, happy families who have become pros at this parenting lark.

I've blogged before about how I feel the NCT taught me some great lessons in preparation for the birth, but that the most valuable thing I have taken from them is a group of like-minded local mummies who experience the same highs and lows of parenting at approximately the same time as me.

Our 'Year One' NCT picnic was a chance for all of us to get together and compare stories from the past few months, to share tips, concerns and experiences. It was truly fabulous to see all of the babies devouring finger foods of all types and to watch them scrambling over the picnic mats and getting in to all sorts of (messy) trouble.

It makes me all the more happy to know that one of my best friends is starting on his NCT journey this week and that for each NCT class that takes place, there is the potential for another group of happy, healthy babies and for the formation of life-long friendships.

Travel With a 1-Year-Old: Choosing the Right Accommodation

I don't pretend to be an expert on this topic. It's not like we've been jet-setting all over the place with Lara over the last year. It's just that we have had the confidence to travel, both at home and abroad, and there are a few lessons we have learned along the way that I thought I would share with you.

  1. Stick to Something Familiar
    Everyone's choice of holiday destination and accommodation is different. Just because somewhere is billed as 'family-friendly' doesn't mean it is the right place for you now just because you have a child in tow. Don't change the way you do things just because there are more of you now then there used to be. Being inside your own comfort zone will mean that the break is a lot less stressful. Our first holiday abroad was to a villa we had been to before. We knew the location, knew the facilities and the only thing that was different was the existence of Lara.

  1. Think about the Sleeping Arrangements
    If you are choosing a hotel or a cottage or a villa or bed & breakfast, the thought processes are the same. Where will your child sleep? Some hotels are happy to provide cots, but will they be of sufficient quality for your liking? If the accommodation provider won't supply a cot, will there be room for you to take your own? Will there be somewhere quiet, away from everyone else that your baby can sleep? For us, we need to consider whether there are soft floors on which to rest our travel cot.

  2. Think about the Eating Arrangements
    If you are staying in a hotel, it is worth checking that they are happy for children to dine in the restaurant (although, I'd suggest finding a different hotel if they object!). If you are self-catering, then is there a high-chair you can use, or will you need to provide your own? Are there eating establishments nearby that will accommodate your family?

  3. Location, Location, Location
    Only you can judge whether the location you have chosen provides all the entertainment and facilities you and your family need or expect; so here are just a few pointers. Are there local shops where you can buy baby supplies? What hours do they open? If you want a quiet night's sleep, are there any local places that will put a spanner in the works e.g. nightclubs/bars?

  4. Washing / Sterilising / Preparation Facilties
    Will you have access to a microwave? Or to a plug socket if you need to sterilise equipment? Or will you need to sterilise in cold water? Is there somewhere clean and convenient where you can prepare or perform feeds? Is there somewhere that you can wash baby's feeding equipment? Or all of those dirty clothes?

  • Other Considerations
    • What are the bath facilities like? Will you be able to bathe your baby easily?

    • How far is your room from the dining room, pool, car-park etc? We once stayed in a hotel where we had to traipse up several flights of stairs with Lara in the infant carrier to get to our room. Ug.

    • Are there babysitting facilities?

  • If you have other tips, please add them here.

    Sunday 6 June 2010

    The Sunday Review – [A'kin] Pure Rose Hydrating Facial Mist

    A facial mist is such a summery thing. Light, refreshing and relaxing.

    I have been using the [A'kin] Pure Rose Hydrating Facial Mist for a few weeks. It is like summer in a bottle. The lingering scent of roses it leaves reminds me of warm summer afternoons in the front garden of my childhood home.

    I use my [A'kin] Facial Mist at work to refresh my tired face and eyes and get me through the day – it's moisturising qualities are a great way of combating the drying effects of the air-conditioning in my office.

    I use it on hot spring days to cool my face and body down.

    Image courtesy of

    I'm planning on taking it in my hand-luggage to New York later this month (in a sealed plastic bag of course) so that I can keep myself cool and well-moisturised during the flight. I'm also hoping for great weather while we're there so a summery spritz of this should help to cool me down.

    My one gripe with this product is that it claims to be anti-ageing. It achieves this through use of hyaluronic acid which is widely recognised as a great natural anti-ageing ingredient in small levels but I know some people feel strongly about it's use so I think it is a shame to have it hidden in the list of ingredients among some harmless, beautiful plant extracts such as dog rose, aloe barbadensis and Austrailian bush flowers.

    [A'kin] products are high in natural ingredients and use organic ingredients where possible. You can find them in the UK at

    Friday 4 June 2010

    Bruised Knuckles - An Explanation

    Argh, now I'm angry. The house move can't come soon enough. I've blogged about my neighbours before but this time they've really really pushed me over the edge.

    I have bruised knuckles. They hurt. Don't worry, I didn't punch anyone but I did bang EXTREMELY hard on someone's front door. Probably too hard.

    Yesterday morning I was putting out the picnic rug so that Lara and I could do some drawing in the garden. As I stood up a full-sized leather football flew straight past my nose, knocked over one of my prized Bay trees and broke a flower pot. I was seething.

    Within seconds, the little tike/brat/oik came and asked for the ball back and, having put up with this for several years and remained calm, understanding and tolerant.... I totally unleashed my wrath on him. I threw the bl**dy ball back and told him that if it ever happened again the ball was not going back.

    His solution (as recommended by his dad)??? To go and get another ball that they didn't mind losing.

    So, half an hour later Lara and I are minding our own business in the sunshine.

    I can hear the boys playing outside on the (public) footpath but I'm determined not to let their games prevent us from using our own back garden. Then, predicatably, the ball comes whizzing over the fence and hits Lara plum on the noggin. She seemed a little fazed but not upset; obviously I was now livid. I grabbed Lara and stormed round to their house with steam coming out of my ears.

    I knocked with as an aggressive a knock as I could muster (now I'm regretting it as the bruises are coming up a lovely blue colour). The miserable man made the usual apologies and swore at his kids a bit and then they went in, leaving me in peace. Unfortunately, the peace never lasts and today they will be out there again, making the same racket and playing with the same balls. Quite why they can't play in their own garden, or at a public park, I don't know.


    Thursday 3 June 2010

    Keeping It Clean

    Whose idea was it to sell the house once we had a baby in tow? Bah.

    The house has been on the market for three weeks and I'm exhausted by the daily struggle to keep the place clean. Every evening we have to pack all of Lara's toys away and every morning after breakfast we have to eliminate all signs of the pile of food that Lara has thrown from her high-chair and make sure that the house is spotless.

    We have strategically placed rugs over the grubbiest parts of the carpet; it shouldn't be too much of struggle to keep the rest of the place clean, should it? Well, Lara has other ideas. There are biscuit crumbs secreted in places where biscuit crumbs don't belong, and small, sticky bits of fruit-chew encrusted into the carpet (in places where the strategic rugs can't reach!).

    One morning we removed the fire-guard to impress a potential buyer who would be visiting later on... in the few brief seconds when I was putting on my shoes, little Miss Lara had started re-arranging the pieces of coal in our fireplace. Arrgh.

    Tuesday 1 June 2010

    Still Life - A Gallery Of Stuff Wot I Like

    This week's gallery theme is Still Life. This presents me with some difficulties - I'm not enormously good at taking pictures of things... more places. When I do take pictures of 'stuff' they are usually random things, or pictures from a slightly different point of view.

    My first picture is a collection of shells. It is such an unusual picture for me to take. It so isn't me. But it brings me back great memories of collecting them on honeymoon in Mozambique while my husband slept peacefully in his hammock.

    My second picture is a plant - this picture is much more me! I love the nobblyness of this plant which is found growing on the cliff-faces around the southern coast of cornwall. This picture was taken at Lizard point. The picture makes me think of fingers and makes me want to squish them.

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