Monday, 4 June 2012

How to neglect your blog.

I have been bad. This cherished blog has lain neglected for now over a month. In fact social media at large has lain neglected for over a month. I dare say, who missed it? But my Big Brother has complained, a lot. Who knows what he has been reading on the bog all this time?!

At first it was very painful, I would start an entry and save for later, I would sneak a look at Twitter whilst cooking dinner or whilst running the bath for the Toddler. A few weeks in and the pain subsided, I stopped pining and got caught up in other things. Apparently I am fickle. Who knew?

I felt it necessary to explain my absence before picking up thread again, thus also hoping to get my blogging mojo back, as it were.

So, a few tips on how to neglect your blog:

1. Have your child turn 3 years old and throw a birthday party, insisting you bake the cake (even though you are no Delia or any other capable baking/cooking type person).

2. Decide to make party favours and decorations yourself. Spend a fortune trying a few ideas, then order everything off a party website anyway.

3. During this time make sure your parents, who live abroad, come and visit you. Make sure your dad has only a week to stay due to work commitments.

4. Send your other half away on a 3-week Motorbike trip in unchartered territory and all support and maintenance done himself.

5. Let your mom stay with you for a month, allow her to do all the cooking, cleaning, childcare duties and watch yourself become lazy and totally incapable.

6. Whilst watching your mom do all the work, start sleeping in later in the mornings and enjoying mid-afternoon naps.

7. Due to your mom doing all the work you re-discover your love of books.

8. Make sure you are a bit obsessive, especially about books, and completely shut out the world whilst you catch up on your reading list.

And lastly, read the "Shades of Grey" trilogy. One after the other. Very sordid, a laughable writing style, but oh so addictive. You will thank me I assure you.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Twin Tuesday: Tales from the Car

I have dubbed Tuesday "Twin Tuesday" as it is the day that I pick up M's pal for playgroup and drop off afterwards (at his house, just to clarify). Today they both sampled a new class called "Little Performers" in the morning too, so an extra pick up/drop off session (M and I got lunch in-between so we scored on this one). Nickname of "Twin Tuesday" because these two little bosom buddies weirdly look very similar, identical height and both slightly bonkers. Herein are the tales from the journey today.

En route to the class this morning, Toddler Boy starts singing.

Toddler Girl: "stop singing".

Toddler Boy: "I want to sing".

Me: "M let Toddler Boy sing, in fact let's all sing". Tries desperately to identify song to encourage sing-along.

Toddler Girl: (slightly raised voice) "stop singing!".

Toddler Boy still singing.

Toddler Girl (very raised voice) "stop singing!".

Toddler Boy (screaming) "I want to sing!".

Toddler Girl starts crying.

Toddler Boy keeps singing.

I turn up the radio.

Arrive at venue. Minor altercation with Toddler Girl whilst she insists on an umbrella and refuses to carry her bag. Diva. Toddler Boy stares at her, can almost hear him thinking "geezo chick, lighten up and let's get moving!". Thankfully a new and very awesome place then renders them both silent and I can lead them wide-eyed and open-mouthed to their class.

Then, a trip to the toilet whereby Toddler Girl tries to get in their first and in mid-flow of the sentence explaining why she must go first, Toddler boy yanks down his trousers and hops on the toilet. Hmmm Toddler Girl, actions speak louder than words my dear, but you will learn. I giggle which possible helps avert Toddler Girl's tears.

After class, same bag/brella saga from Toddler Girl. Sigh. Other people's kids are sometimes way better than your own.

Both fall asleep on journey back to Toddler Boy's house. Exhausting class obviously. Don't think the "Sleepytime classics" CD I put on for them had anything to do with the snooze really... (okay, maybe a bit, this CD is amazing, a must buy really!). Both wake slightly grumpy, but managed some lunch, then back in the car to playgroup. Toddler Girl clingy, Toddler Boy won't wear his jacket.

Arrive at playgroup. Toddler Girl still won't carry her rucksack, then asks for it as we are crossing the road. Toddler Boy asks for his jacket at the same time. I hear my own slightly high-pitched voice saying: "we're in the middle of the road, please walk and then we can figure this out once safe and sound on the other side". Toddler Girl asks what "sound" means and Toddler Boy asks me where I got my ring from. I start to giggle hysterically.

En route home from playgroup, they are both high as kites and playing a game whereby Toddler Girl's soft toy cat is being used as a ball. Mucho giggles from Toddler Girl as Toddler Boy flings cat around the backseat. I imagine this is how 3 year olds flirt. Toddler Girl then asks to hold Toddler Boy's hand, he obliges and I think how sweet, until I remember Toddler Boy is in a booster seat and when I glance in the rearview mirror, he is half lying across the back seats to reach Toddler Girl's hand. This is clearly not safe and I wildly start reaching behind me and try to convince Toddler Boy to sit up and Toddler Girl to let his (now) arm go! A short result for me and still more giggles from the back seat.

Arriving at Toddler Boy's house, they throw a casual "see you tomorrow" at each other and I get a cuddle from Toddler Boy. Bliss. They really are a beloved pair these two.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Life after a SAHM?

So, we got THE letter today. The one that tells you which of your two choices for a school's nursery your child has got into. The one that also tells you which days and times they have been allocated. This is quite significant in our household because firstly, it means our baby girl is growing up way too fast and is now old enough for school's nursery and secondly it means there is a possibility that some of my time will be freed up and I can contemplate stepping back into the working world.

M is currently in a local playgroup (sadly shutting at the end of this term), as of this week she now goes 4 times a week, from the new school year she will attend 5 days a week, 2.5 hours a day. I'm thinking with the aid of a childminder (yet to be found), some clever logistics (yet to be discussed) and a bit of give from Himindoors' work (yet to be seen) I could possibly go back to part time work.

The possibility of going back to work doesn't scare me half as much as the realisation that my little baby is going to be 3 years old next week and will be in a big school's nursery at the end of summer! But that mushy, sobbing, clingy mommy post will have to wait for another day as tonight it is all about the "mommy returning to work" discussion in our house.

First a bit of history: I never actually thought I would be a SAHM. I was always very ambitious and, before and during pregnancy, I crowed to anyone who would listen about how I would definitely be a working mom. No aprons and homemaking for me, I was going to mother in stiletto's! Somewhat hypocritical and from my current SAHM status I can admit that a) I was wrong and judgemental and b) I have worn mostly converse and pumps since pregnancy and beyond.

How did I get here then?

From a Marketing job in an oil company, I took a year's maternity leave. I didn't return to that job as they needed full time, I could only give part time. I then took a part time post in a Marketing Communications Agency. This worked swimmingly for a good 6 months, with a combination of nursery and a daddy who worked in his own consultancy business from home... until said daddy took a full time role in a big company and all the childcare arrangements had to shift. Part time wages, childcare costs and a few other factors led to (drum roll) SAHM. I kept a hand in my CV with occasional freelance work until October last year and then took to Twitter and more recently blogging to keep abreast of market trends, company's news and an attempt to keep my skills (and brain) fresh.

At first I flitted between loving my decision to missing an office, to loving the time with my girl to thinking I was drowning in ballet and crafts. In all honestly mostly loving it, I have really cherished the time with M and am proud at how my hard work to keep us busy and stimulated has really paid off (i.e. a year on and I haven't found myself rocking in a corner once!). However, I always envisioned that I would go back to work, either when she starts school nursery or when she starts school. Some small part of me has always clung on to that ambitious woman in the stiletto's (not least because she was a lot thinner than the woman I am today!). This is the current discussion and really there are more questions than answers.

For instance, does being a SAHM affect your CV? Does it affect how potential employers view you or your experience? Do you abandon your old career path? Can your old career path be resurrected? Do you apply for jobs on a level that you were on before stopping work or do you put yourself back at market entry level? Do you beg and explain that although you are 1 (2 or 3) years out of the game you are still capable, hard working, enthusiastic and have that thing were you do way more than you should in a job and work after hours just because you have "a good idea"? Phew.

And then, do you get a childminder then a job or a job then a child minder? Which is it, dear readers, chicken or egg?!

Am exhausted just thinking about it, so think I'll just have a small vino before bed and put my head in the sand a bit longer. It is almost summer holidays after all...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

There's a Pirate in our house!

First Easter Holiday activity for M and I was a cinema outing with some of her mini-pals to see "Pirates, An Adventure with Scientists". M is almost 3 years old and has been to the cinema quite a few times, she really enjoys it and it is always a great "rainy" day activity for us. Possibly the popcorn is the most alluring factor for her at the moment, but she does sit and often laughs out loud at the film (she gets that from me) and on occasion has been known to dance in the aisles (me again I'm afraid). Whilst waiting for the Muppets Movie the new Pirates film was advertised and I never heard the end of it until I was able to confirm the play date to her.

From the makers of Wallace & Gromit and with Hugh Grant voicing the main man Pirate Captain, I can't deny that I was looking forward to seeing this too. And it didn't disappoint! Overall a clever, amusing and highly entertaining film. One of those gems that give enough children's comic to keep them sitting still and a healthy dollop of thinly-veiled adult content to keep the parents amused. I did laugh out loud. A lot. Possibly the only one at times, but nothing new there.

One of my favourite things about this film was one of the characters, Cutlass Liz. She was one of the rival Pirate Captain's and sashayed her way onto the screen all buxom bosoms and very-rounded hips. Voiced by Salma Hayek, Kitty Softpaws of recent Puss in Boots fame, Cutlass Liz was a proper badass. When presenting her Pirate Loot, she handed over a massive diamond, I think the irony of this was completely lost on the Toddler, but only further illustrated that this woman was proper "doing it for herself"! Sista.

I thought Cutlass Liz was pretty cool when she swung into the movie (really those hips do nothing more than swing!) but was impressed when M turned to me and said "she looks like me mommy!". Now the Toddler is all blue eyes, curly blonde hair, long legs and "toddler shaped", so actually nothing of the Barbados-origin, big-breasted, hip swinging type that Cutlass Liz represented. Plus she doesn't drink rum or spit through her teeth. But, I couldn't help but admire her thought process. My little one was obviously as appreciative of this character as I was, and really I was impressed with her body image.

Now if I can bottle some of that positive body image and hang onto the good bits, wielding out the crop tops, shirt tied under the breasts, rum drinking and spitting I think we're onto a winner for a sound 14-year old... or maybe she just really wants to be a Girl Pirate!?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Without "obvious" pain, can I still comment?

Yesterday Twitter alerted me to a feature in the Guardian that really caught my attention. It was written by a writer I really admire (not in a stalker-type-admire-way I haste to add), Bibi Lynch, and came with a warning that mother's may well be offended. I was quite nervous before reading the piece as a)I am a mother and b) I really enjoy reading Ms Lynch's work (not a stalker I assure you) and didn't want her to offend me.

Safe to say, I was not offended in the slightest! Hooray, I can carry on being a non-stalker-type fan and go about my business for the day. Except I couldn't, because I felt great pain on behalf of Ms Lynch and the feature, as well as the subsequent backlash, has haunted me all weekend. This leads me to here, my blog.

I have been waiting for a chance to write a response to the feature since yesterday morning. Having now got my chance I started doing some research on the feedback regarding the article. Holy cr*p people, cut the woman some slack, she can't have children! Imagine that? Can you, as a Mother, imagine that? I can't. Also, to the women reviewers who don't have children, cut the mother's some slack! We all moan, moaning is a very personal thing and we can only do it with what we know best. Ourselves. And our lot in life.

Plenty of people have taken to the 'net to provide sympathy, give moral support, express outrage and hurl abuse towards Lynch and the feature. Having trolled through a large chunk of them, I started to wonder what I could contribute? I have a child, so will never truly know the depths of her pain. I have a standard issue child*, so cannot fully know the pains of raising one with difficulties or any other defects. Plus, I didn't suffer from anything other than a scratch across the belly, sore breasts and severe tiredness after giving birth, so am out of that camp too.

So, what am I doing here then and why was I not offended? I am possibly a prime candidate to be offended:- we have a mom and dad in our family. A loud, yet adorable toddler. Dad works. Mom stays at home with said toddler. We do "family stuff", I do non-mom fun stuff, we go on family holidays and sometimes dad cooks. Bonus. I wasn't offended because the article calls for us mom's to count our blessings. And I do. Every night and throughout the day, particularly for my little girl and my family. Also, whilst reading the piece, I didn't see it as being about me for one minute. I didn't feel the need to defend my grumblings as all I could see was the pain at not being able to have children.

As to what I am doing here, commenting on the feature, I wanted to say this: firstly, the feature was published in a newspaper. Newspapers need readers and internet hits. Headlines sell papers and draw traffic to a website. It needs to be hard hitting and get a response - good or bad. Secondly, the feature was a very honest, emotional and personal piece based on one aspect of one woman's journey. Read between the lines, this lady is in pain. Following Ms Lynch on Twitter and reading any of her work from her Grazia columns, you will quickly see that she doesn't throw things at mothers in the street, she doesn't avoid children in public places and in fact knows people with children!

Lastly, she is a writer. A review of her work is one thing, a point of view from either side is another thing, but abuse is a whole other game and really, no one should be playing on that team.

*although my baby girl is standard issue, I obviously think she is perfect and the best in every possible way! Being her mother and all.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Shopping Revolt.

Feeling Spring in the air and willing to spend the last of the month's budget on myself rather than food I head for the shops whilst M is at play school. I only have two hours, 'tis a marathon shopping session. I visit six different outlets intent on spoiling myself and return, with my handbag between my legs, wielding one item. A t-shirt. For my daughter. Granted it is pretty cute (River Island new girls range from age 3 years), none the less, it won't fit me and is yet another item of clothing for the toddler.

I tried, I really did - six shops in two hours including some changing rooms sessions and a few shoes here and there, is no small feat. So, why just one measly t-shirt then?

To set the scene, here'e roughly what I look like: I am 5'10. Granted taller than average, but my no means a 6-footer. I do not have swishy hair, I do have sizeable hips, my thighs rub together, my breasts hang by my knees when unsupported, my waist is kind of there but right underneath it is a belly reminiscent of being pregnant and enjoying that fish supper a little too much, my arms wave alongside with my hands and I pack a serious amount of junk in my trunk. Don't misunderstand, I am not down on this, I have body dysmorphia in reverse and like to channel Marilyn Monroe when looking in the mirror. My chant goes a little bit like this: "Loving your work girlfriend, looking pretty fine out there, work it, work it..." (yes, I refer to myself as "girlfriend" when looking in the mirror and apparently the voice in my head sounds like a 18-year Gok Wan). In short, a few inches taller than average, but generally just a normal woman, looking for normal clothes...

Firstly, two of my favourite go-to-shops for the tall range no longer stock them. Only available online. Apparently I am just on the wrong side of normal in the leg department and am not worthy of trying things on in-store. However, the petite department is alive and kicking. Complete with inspirational slogan "petite: the perfect proportion". Really?! I would wager a pair of shoes that a lot of petite women bemoan their fate as much as everyone else.

Secondly, jeans. Mostly available in skinny, super-skinny and jeggings. Or bootcut, that sit on your hips and push up your belly rendering even your spanx useless. Or chinos, that have that bulky gathered bit at the front that makes me think I should have a penis to really do them justice. And mostly available in pastel colours, the type that show up all your bumps and grinds, the very ones that make you run for the "in black only please" department.

Then the tops, tunics?! Not being pregnant anymore there is really nothing more to say on this subject. I wore them to death and cannot face them again. As for the "long at the back short at the front" variety of jumper, cutting a straight line right across my thighs is never going to do it for Marilyn. Floaty chiffon types? I am not in a movie singing my way across a field of flowers and don't want to dress like I am either. Pastel colours? Makes me look unwell. An array of stripes in all directions? Makes me look like a barbers pole. Little animals all over? Makes me look like a zoo-keeper. I don't want Rihanna on my t-shirt and I don't want to tie my shirt under my boobs either.

I am doomed. Forever destined to single, bold colours, basic tee's and hanging on to my last two pairs of jeans till the bitter, ripped end.

This leave bags, shoes and scarves... oh, and the children's department!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Busting some Mommy Myths!

A few things in the media of late have really got my back up. Okay, most things in the media really get my back up, but generally I just slate the human race and carry on with the washing. However, when I read things that I have personal experience of and that directly contradict the feature's fluffy or opioionated approach I suddenly develop an attitude. A big one.

I carry around the realities of a) having had a caesarian birth and b) having had to combination feed/primarily bottle feed my daughter. So, what's the problem you say? Nothing I like to think, as far as I can tell I have a healthy, happy and above-average-in-height toddler. Really, at first glance, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be able to tell she was a section baby nor that she got most of her milk from a bottle, but maybe that is just because I'm her mom and in reality she has a sign on her back saying otherwise? A little defensive you might be thinking? Er, yes.

Firstly the Caesarian. I overheard a woman say the other day "you have to beg to give natural birth now days!". Hhhmmmm, correct me if I'm wrong but all I wanted when pregnant was to give birth to a healthy baby. Didn't think I was being naive, thought that would just be common sense? If anyone wants to know, I had a section birth because The Toddler was breech. The Little Mite planted her bottom in my right hip and didn't actually shift for the entire pregnancy. Each midwife appointment was a little stressful as they struggled to find the heartbeat at first, looking in the wrong place of course, then you had the added pleasure of not being able to walk properly due to concentrated pressure on the hips and having to wear a bandage-type thing over your hips and pelvis to keep everything in place. When other expectant mothers felt their babies move constantly all I got was a back arch when said baby would flex her neck and you could feel her head under my right boob. Literally rub her skull through my skin.

They don't like to tell you you're breech until about 35 weeks in. Then they give you the facts... If baby doesn't turn, you don't get to give "natural" birth. They can turn baby, by applying force to your belly and manipulating the baby to be "head down". Statistically this apparently works for 3 out of 10 women, 30% success rate. The rest of them go one of two ways, either have to have an emergency c-section there and then as mother or baby goes into distress mode; or baby returns to their chosen natural position of "head up". Armed with this knowledge we chose planned section. 30% is not exactly a success rate in my mind.

Skipping the birthing story for now (beautiful, surreal, happy day, etc,etc) I'll move on to feeding the now-born baby. My feeding approach was pretty simple, I would like to try breastfeeding... and take it from there. Suck-it-and-see, if you'll excuse the pun. Baby latched on straight away and I was complimented on my "technique". Ha! Get me, "got this one cracked" I thought! Oh, the irony isn't lost on with me with that pun either, trust me.

The first and second night passed with regular, but uneventful feeds. But by the third night Baby was feeding every 30 minutes, like clockwork. By then I was signing my own feeding charts and my 3-day old baby was in bed with me! A big taboo for babies, particularly when you're still in the hospital and being monitored by professionals armed with their lists of right and wrong's. But by this stage the staff must have grown weary of me buzzing them every 30 minutes to bring the baby to me for a feed (remember c-section, can't actually get out the bed on your own yet and so a nurse has to bring the baby to you for a feed), one nurse did half-heartedly go into the "sleeping with your baby" speech, but didn't even finish her own sentence. By the next morning, I was feeling a little worse for wear, feeding every 30 minutes, sleeping for 30, then feeding again was not the way to spend a night... I welcomed my mother and Fiancé with tears and a sleeping baby. Touché.

When we got home, things didn't really improve in the feeding department. Baby grew, considerably and slept in between feeds, but actual feeds were lasting 2-3 hours. Alternating breasts, feeding for literally hours. Why, you ask? Well, Baby was crying, hungry crying, a lot. This wasn't without its pitfalls for me. I spent those first few weeks walking about the house looking like a tribal woman. Topless all the time, trying the age old method of "drying out" the skin to toughen it up and heal the cracked and broken surface. No creams, lotions or caps could help a breast from a 3-hour feeding session that's for sure. What about the leaking you might ask? That might have been the first clue really, as I didn't. Not once.

Eventually I tried expressing, but only got 5ml after 20 minutes pumping. Still, we did photograph Baby's first "express" feed in keeping with capturing all those first moments. After 3 weeks of this and one particularly bad Sunday when I had fed the darling for 4 straight hours and still she was doing the "hungry cry", we called the emergency mid-wife number. The mid-wife listened to our tale and said only one thing: "get some formula". "I can't" I cried, "I am breastfeeding! I've read the pamphlets, I've heard the lectures you can't do both, you can't change the plan. Can you?"

Yes, yes you can dear readers! The Fiancé was despatched to 24 hour Tesco immediately, returned with formula and we all slept for 10 straight hours. The End.

Ok, not quite but it did change our lives, for a bit anyway. From that day on, Baby was combination fed. She would have breast milk from the first morning feed and throughout the day, then a formula bottle before bed and for the night feed as well. This was short-lived too. Just before 2 months old, I had to start dropping more breast feeds for a bottle, as the "hungry cry" was starting again, eventually I was only down to one breast feed first thing in the morning and Baby had to have the bottle immediately afterwards to actually get her breakfast. The reality of the situation was this: my milk just dried up. Stop coming in, disappeared. By the time Baby was three-months old I dropped the breastfeeding act completely, there was absolutely nothing there to give, my breasts hung by my knees and the tribal woman was closing up shop.

So, what's the moral of the story? Figure things out for yourself and listen to your body! Yes, read up on everything, yes, listen to the professionals, but firstly, listen to your body and your gut instinct.

The only real truth in parenting is nobody is right and nobody is perfect. We are all different.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Do you want to speak to the boss?

Try as we like to think we have this parenting thing under control, there is always one statement that comes to mind: "Do you want to speak to the woman who thinks she's in charge (Me) or the woman who actually is (The Daughter)? I quite like this image taken on a recent family outing to a local farm, Daughter wasn't actually in a strop, this was a normal conversation, this is just her natural pose. Actions speak louder than words and all that.

Take this morning, Princess came through for a cuddle when she woke up, bringing fluffy toy of the moment with her. Daddy was just about out the door for an early meeting. He came to say goodbye to us. Apparently he didn't do it right and Princess demanded a kiss on the lips not the forehead, he laughed whilst she puckered up and waited. Having got that off of him, she demanded Mommy gets the same. Really?! I am not a "on the lips before I brush my teeth or have a wee" kind of girl. Doesn't matter, I got it anyway. Princess then demanded a "big cuddle" and finally waved Daddy off with a "have a nice day, see you later".

Then it was my turn. "Mommy come on, get up, open your eyes, turn your head over, rub your eyes and stretch like this" (demonstration from Princess as to how I should be stretching), then a good morning smooch from Princess and her fluffy kitten toy. The duvet was then flung off and after noticing my PJ top wasn't quite making it over my belly I got this: "Moooommmm that is disgusting, no one wants to see that!". Thanks honey, just when I thought the new exercise regime was starting to pay off, Daughter puts me right. May as well give up and go back to a glass a night, no?

All this before 8am.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Dear Generation Standstill... get moving!

A recent Grazia (05th March) featured an article "We're best friends, talented... and jobless", profiling four girls who had gone to university together and now find themselves as one of the "1.04 million jobless 16 to 24-year-olds in Britain". These four girls, having worked and played hard together through university, are now a statistic of the "one in four graduates are out of work" variety.

Whilst I can appreciate a country recovering from a recession, economic downturn, crippling student debt and a very overpriced housing market are all big obstacles for today's youth trying to move from semi-adult to adult-adult; I didn't actually have much sympathy for these four girls. They spoke of a lack of social life (try having a baby), not being able to shop (try running a family budget), they spoke about not being able to date (I would suggest you are dating the wrong kind of man if you being unemployed, but looking to be, is an issue), they mentioned jobs such as temping and babysitting as being beneath their university-educated selves (I immediately thought they are obviously not proper starving nor suffering if this is the case!).

One girl had studied a Modern History degree and wanted to work in Advertising. Er, why Modern History to then work in Advertising? What about a Commercial Business qualification or a course that offered an internship or mentoring programme? I don't for a minute suggest that if you choice a course relevant to a specific job you will automatically get employed, but if the market is so darn tough then really you should be giving yourself as much chance as possible.

To the girl who has to temp to earn some cash, forget temping in a restaurant and get yourself into a recruitment agency. Forget the cocktails in London town, put your hard earned cash under the mattress and work harder on your plan to move into something permanent. Face each new temp job like it could be the one that opens doors for you to something else. Network. A lot.

Another of the girls has moved back in with her parents, she feels it is tough but knows she is lucky to have that option. Her mother sent her an article about passion in your job being overrated and that you should just take a job. This suggests to me that her mom is trying to help her get out the house and into a job... You might want to get a job you love, but if there are limited-to-no opportunities for this "dream job" at the moment, then can you not be working in an environment that will give you access to these opportunities? Working in a gallery coffee shop? Attending local events, submitting articles to a relevant magazine or newspaper?

I kind of get the feeling these girls are pouring over the job section waiting for something to come up that fits their profile. Are they not getting feedback from the potential employers after an interview? Where are the gaps in their CVs, how can they fix these? Are they not asking these questions? Lack of experience is a difficult hurdle, but what about a free internship? What about local networking communities, online forums? Moving countries? Starting their own business? Anything!

Apologies girls, am sure if you ever read this you will take it very personally, however you did put yourself and your stories in a magazine. A celebrity of any kind always get two kinds of feedback, think Rihanna and Chris Brown or Madonna and her single mum woes. Pretty sure you will also rant about "who the hell am I" with my opinions, but believe it or not I was also a semi-adult once. And, I too had a dream.

But, here's the thing... we all have to start somewhere! From where I'm sitting none of you seem to be starving, homeless, terminally ill or severely disabled. Generation Standstill? Why? Get a move on, you all come across as nice, bright, educated and decent girls so make a change. Make some decisions, get your mojo back and get out there.

P.S Am actually a nice person really, just got a little "bee/bonnet" like with this feature. I worked in some pretty interesting and completely non-relevant jobs in my time and managed to build a fairly successful career along the way. Of course, I then jacked it in to be a stay-at-home-mother, but that story is for another day and another post.
P.P.S Obviously this post doesn't account for every single reason semi-adults are unemployed in today's climate, but is relevant to the four girls featured in the magazine.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Good Taste, Nature vs Nurture?

If my daughter's taste in footwear is anything to go be then the answer is definitely: Nurture!

The Toddler has had these for a while, but has never shown much interest in them, favouring instead, pink converse, Peppa Pig wellies or bling crocs (yes, bling crocs!). However, after a recent step-up in her efforts to imitate Puss in Boots and his Flamenco dancing, she has re-discovered the joys of the "clip clop shoe".

These lime green beauties are suddenly constantly in my line of sight. And bar from the obvious tripping hazard, the look of them is starting to cause me great worry. Forget five-a-day, fresh air and daily exercise, working lime green "clip clop shoes" out of my daughter's wardrobe is very high on the priority list!

As a bit (large bit) of a shoe girl myself, I can't help but look at these pieces of plastic lush and pray that The Toddler's taste in shoes improves with age. Improves a lot with age!

P.S It does occur to me that after publishing this The Toddler will probably take a very keen interest in my shoe cupboard and I will be posting about how I have discovered I am not ready to share my shoes with my 2-year old... laws of physics and all that.
P.P.S Toddler has just walked past me and upon seeing the image of her dress-up shoes, said to me "oh wow mommy, they're my favourite!". Damn.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Frightful, fearless and just plain fabulous, it's Oscars 2012 time!

I tweeted this morning about asking The Toddler to please nap soon so that I could view the Oscars 2012 dresses online. Having perused Twitter over my bowl of Cheerio's I was desperate to get an eyeful of the frocks. For those people who did their work in an office today I bet you all got to view the frocks before I did! After toddlers ballet lesson, lunchtime, washing, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, cleaning up, getting organised for bedtime and a gym session I finally got to sit down and go online. Was it worth the wait? You betcha! Nice work ladies, but to some of you... sack the stylist and better luck next year!

Below is my personal review of the frightful, fearless and just plain fabulous frocks from Oscars 2012.

Coming in at number 1 is undoubtedly Gwyneth Paltrow in that Tom Ford wonder, complete with her own superhero Cape. Whilst the cape is always a little hit-and-miss Gwyneth cut a beautiful silouette and she looked truly fabulous. That woman very rarely puts a fashion foot wrong and this time round was no exception. In my next life I want Gwennie's wardrobe, body and bank balance. You can keep the blonde hair and husband though. Oh, and the macrobiotic lifestyle choices.

Next up for me was Milla Jovovich in her embellished one-shoulder wonder. Am a big Milla fan, every since the Supermodels of the 90's and her time in the Fifth Element film! She looked effortlessly gorgeous.

Ironically I am not a fan of white/cream/ivory/anything that resembles a wedding dress on the red carpet, but stand out gowns for me this year were all worthy of an aisle. An aisle in a castle mind you, like Madonna's once-upon-a-time fairytale wedding.

Further bride-like nods of approval from me went to Kristen Wiig (looked so normal-women beautiful, very understated and uber-cute) and Cameron Diaz in her strapless nude creation. Nice job Cammy, loving the new hair and really appreciated how your arms looked less like a wrestler and more like the hot chick we all know you are.

Off the bridal theme, Emma Stone's frock was fearless. Red dress, red hair should't have worked, but it did. Take note ladies, don't be afraid! The high-necked bow detailing could have gone either way as well, but again, she just landed up looking fabulous. Miss Stone has made it to my "please can I look like this one day" list.

The not-so-fabulous-but-doesn't-really-matter-because-she-is-amazing award goes to Meryl Streep. Way too much gold foiling for one woman. However the style was very flattering and Meryl was so good in "The Devil Wears Prada" that I couldn't possible slate her.

However, I can slate Natalie Portman, Sandra Bullock and J-Lo. All of these women should have known better. Natalie Portman is a beyond beautiful woman, but that polka dot creation was more Minnie Mouse does Couture than Oscars Couture. Now that I think about it, she did give birth last year. Maybe this is the equivalent to me trading my heels for converse trainers? Although I thought her son would have been too young for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Miss Bullock's dress had potential, but was far too stiff for her persona, plus that embroidered bit around her waist looked like fingers trying to gauge her out. Very distracting. Now J-Lo is a very foxy lady, her behind is well-worth whatever amount it is insured for, but that dress did her no justice! Way too many candy stripes for that level of curve and way too little support for, well, that level of curve. Think her new young man, Casper, is leading her astray.

Lastly, mention must go to Angelina Jolie. Whilst the black velvet Versace number was fabulous in itself, her bed hair was very sexy and Brad Pitt was her date, that right leg was very disturbing. It is far too skinny and had to be shoved out at an unnatural angle to really get the full effect of that slit, this move made her look like she was perhaps hiding a few of her kids under the skirt to smuggle them into the ceremony. All this done through a very big, red-lipped smile. A smug smile of course, she is probably thinking "say what you like, I'm the one holding his hand!"

So, a round up of the memorable frocks for me, good or bad, same time next year? Until then, normal child-rearing activities will commence.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

My name is Suz and I'm a Mommy Bore*

*Bore not Whore!

I read a recent article stating that the worst kind of tweets or Facebook posts are from Mommy Bores. You know the ones who post online about every leaf the Toddler gives them as a present (mine does this, I mainly bin them when she's not looking), or the ones who post pictures online of every outfit (I do this, but mainly because the Toddler is pretty cute and has a fierce wardrobe that I am secretly very envious of) or the ones who think it's cute that their kiddie woke them up at 2am clutching their favourite story wanting you to read it to them (mine does this, I refuse and send her back to bed, it wasn't cute).

I felt a little defensive after reading that article.

You must be wondering why I confess to being a Mommy Bore  and feeling defensive towards my status if I display such mixed opinions of the kind of parent who does these posts (i.e. paragraph 1)... to be honest I fall on either side of the divide, I have in turn laughed at Mommy Bore Posts, cringed at such posts for just being totally ridiculous or really enjoyed seeing/reading them. I feel like I can be hypocritical on this subject matter because I abide my by own set of strict online rules:-

  1. Facebook is very private and reserved for family and close friends. Frequent posts include pictures of the Toddler, (edited) holiday snaps and a few drunken posts about the woes of have too many vino's the night before the Toddler's 9am ballet lesson. 
  2. Twitter is open to the general public and reserved for mainly adult (not the porn variety) tweets. I like to think of Twitter as my space for my own views and my account doesn't include any pictures of the wee one.
  3. The Blog is a little bit of both, hence "Pieces of Suz", without naming names or including personal pictures and encompassing all aspects of me (not to be confused with that multi-personality syndrome).

The thing to remember here people is that a) you can delete friends from your Facebook account; b) you can choose to protect your tweets and accept followers "by invitation only" and c) you can choose to have a private blog. In other words you can use what you want to see and read. You know, as in you have the control!

Also, there are some small, but significant differences between a Mommy Bore and a Smug Mommy! The Mommy Bore thinks her kids rock, however is a total realist and knows that although she loves them to bits they are flawed and can sometimes be a tad annoying. She loves them anyway. The Mommy Bore generally posts the good, bad and downright ugly aspects of parenting and can laugh at herself and her delightfully flawed family. She crushes on the characters in the Disney movies and sniggers at euphemisms involving "Woody" from Toy Story.  On the other hand the Smug Mommy doesn't believe a M&S meal counts as homemade, she keeps every leaf her kiddies gives her as a gift and doesn't bin the pictures from nursery with just one tiny dot on them.

I like to think I avoid Smug Mommy territory by warning my followers before doing anything smug, as in *warning smug mommy post to follow*, thereby giving them the chance to switch off and avoid any forthcoming messages. Am nothing but selfless, I know.

In saying all this I have noticed that anyone who claims to despise the Mommy Bores does not in fact have any children and in turn is equally irritating for their "up all night awesome party" posts, followed closely by "slept all day due to hangover from awesome party" posts. I found these posts annoying because I am a little jealous that I am not at said awesome party or sleeping for most of a day. See, am just jealous hence hating on your "awesome party" posts... Think about that Mommy Bore Haters!

Monday, 20 February 2012

What's in a name?

The Toddler’s new venture into a fully comprehensive world is asking me what the names of every animal and creature we see is. This may sound easy (think cow, sheep, dog, etc) and very reasonable considering she is coming up to 3 years old but our little Smart Cookie is not actually concerned with the scientific name of the animal, as in what kind is it mommy? But what is it’s actual name!

Picture the scene: We are driving, I am in uber-mommy mode and pointing out our surroundings as we pass “look at that brown cow, look at that black sheep” and so on. With each of those, she wants a name, a proper name! Everytime I am stumped. I can’t think beyond Sam, John or Adam (I don’t actually know a Sam, John or Adam!). I have used these variations so many times she doesn’t believe me anymore and now responds with “no mommy, what’s its name!”. I feel pressure. A lot.

I then start keeping quiet on car journeys. I am thinking of names before we see anything, just in case. I have added Jess to my repertoire. And Amy (drawing on a family name). I try to avoid names of friends or known-family, of course these are always the ones that fly through your head. “Look Princess there goes your Uncle the sheep!”

More recently, I have abandoned the ” I Spy” game and we sing in the car instead. She has just about cracked “Moves Like Jaggar” and Emeli Sande’s “Next To You”.

Apparently an education comes in all shapes and forms.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Make mine a side of Skinny, please?

I joined a gym. Not any old gym, but a tiny one. For Women Only. The concept is simple and in theory should be very effective. I am trying not to get my hopes up and keep telling myself to be realistic. However, I have caught myself daydreaming about my soon-to-be-revealed Cindy Crawford-esque body. I know Cindy Crawford is very old skool, the Supers circa 1990, but Miranda Kerr and her multimillion-pound-Victoria-Secret-Bra-finale-walk-6-weeks-after-giving-birth is hugely out of my reach!

In my head I am a few weeks into my new regime and find myself waving with my hand and not my wings, my muffin top is reserved for the (non fat) blueberry variety on my plate alongside a skinny, soya, no-caffeine latte and I get out of bed in the morning using my newly formed 6-pack…

…back in the real world I have to actually go to the gym (at least) 3 times a week, have to give up crisps, cheese, chocolate and CUT DOWN on the wine. I mostly feel this can all happen. I am determined. I am ready. I am enthusiastic. And I spent a large part of this weekend eating out the snack cupboard to allow for no temptation next week. See, already I am making huge personal sacrifices for my size 12-goal!?

After my first training session on Saturday morning, I am still raring to go, but do have one small sort-of-complaint. The staff. Not that they are not very helpful, friendly and encouraging, but that they are not uber-hot. I prefer my gym-staff to look way hotter than I do *think I do*. I want to see swishy hair, buns of steel and legs that make Heidi Klum look dumpy. I want to think “phwoar!” whilst pounding the step machine. Or maybe a better word is “motivated”?

On the other hand, maybe the fact that this gym is already unconventional in every other way, this is the last stereotype to go? With that in mind, I may even get good results this time… Watch this space.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Sharing is Caring.

Having had this blog account for a few months I must confess that I hadn't shared the URL link. With anyone. Not even my (mostly) anonymous Twitter followers. Why you ask? Firstly, I was embarrassed by the lack of content. Secondly, I am still sussing out this blogging game. Finally, I am still sussing out the blogging content - nobody wants to be a “blogging-no-mates”.

More recently, I told my Mom and The Fiancé I had a blog, separately. They both responded with “but what will you talk about, besides your Daughter”?! I can’t lie, I didn’t take it well, from either source. I like to think of myself as an (as yet) unopened atom bomb of useful information and brimming with wit and intelligence. Ahem. After I got off my soapbox and the room emptied of the notorious pink elephant left behind from a well-meaning, yet ill-timed comment, I had a little think about what they had both said.

I also did some google homework and found plenty of successful, funny, insightful and useful bloggers - blogging about their kids and pretty much everyday activities of having said kids. Great, I will join them I thought.

So I pressed the “share” button. Then sent the link to my Big Brother. He was very enthusiastic and told me I was going to be the next BIG internet sensation. I am pretty sure he wasn’t referring to my *growing* bottom and hopefully nothing to do with the notoriously large "adult" internet business either.

This is for all those people out there who will benefit from these ramblings. Someone will I’m sure of it.

GSOH need only apply.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Social Media is your eye to the world!

Welcome to The Blog. I am told Social Media is a Stay-At-Home-Mommy’s salvation. Being a SAHM I can’t disagree. Never mind the daily complexities of counting my toddler’s five-a-day, without Twitter, a good blog or Facebook I wouldn’t know a thing about the outside world and wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation with anyone other than my daughter.

Much to The Fiancé’s surprise I heard about the quakes in New Zealand from Facebook and the quakes in Turkey from Twitter. All this before he had even woken up and heard the hourly BBC update. One point to me.

In an attempt to broaden my horizons, I follow a range of news worthy sites on my current Social Network of choice, Twitter. Of course, it is debatable how “news worthy” Celebuzz really is, but that is a matter of personal opinion.

In lieu of being a SAHM and still harping over taking over the world, editing the September issue of Vogue and finally maybe being a little cool, blogging is the latest addition to my expanding “eye on the world”. Of course, I hope to add to that with an (too) honest account of motherhood and the modern woman. Yes I know, in light of our current economic climate and various examples of biblical prophecies coming true throughout the world, this is what everyone really wants to know about…