The Alternative Yet Ultimate Baby's Christmas Gift Guide

So here I am on black Friday eve, stumbling over what to put in the Christmas list for my second born 1-year old. He's got all the plastic tat Early learning centre could vomit, already handed down to him from his brother, so what do I get him for Christmas?


An example of what an ELC binge can look like. It ain't pretty folks.


The options were to guilt buy from Amazon's 'suggestions' or just get him nothing as he probably won't notice what's going on anyway. Until, I had a present-epiphany....

Stop the press, hold the phone, pass the baby - here's  the have the ultimate Christmas gift list (of stuff that you already have). Yes that's right, look no further, for your budget buys, as you don't actually have to budget or buy anything, and you certainly don't need to trample on peoples club card fisted hands to get to these bargains this black Friday.

You, my lucky friend, have already got this shit lying around the house/thrown down the loo/stuffed under the sofa.

The Alternative Baby's Christmas Gift Guide:


**Please note, some of these things are actually more than a tiny bit dangerous for kinder  and shouldn't actually be given as gifts, but children do seem to be naturally drawn to them. Once again, do not give them as gifts, no matter how much those puppy dog baby eyes tell you too.

  1. Packet of Wipes
Nothing better than a packet of 'infinity moist towels': These in a child's eyes are the equivalent of Mary Poppins carpet bag - they just keep on coming. Unless it's mum's last pack and you've had shit-ter-geddon, then you're hunting for Han Solo wipe in the tatooine desert. They also double as teething rags that give you lightly fragranced Vitamin E breath. And they are great for whacking with a cute little chubby fist. I mean, everyone's a winner with this gift aren't they?

Wipes of innocence

Doctors: The (Dis)Respected Profession #SaveOurNHS #JuniorContracts





Since becoming a doctor, I have been made to feel ashamed of my profession.

Simply answering the question on meeting new people; "And what do you do for a living?" Leaves me clammy handed and dry mouthed. Usually my response is a sigh, followed by hesitantly saying;

"I'm a doctor.'


Then I await one of these responses:


"<silence and awkward shuffle>"

"Oh, so you must be really clever?"

"I've forgot my purse, can you buy the next round?"

"Oh Right.....I just have to go speak to..."

"Well, <guffaw> I've got this rash"

"Oh wow, you said your husband's a doctor"

"You look too young to be a doctor"

"You can afford this, you must earn loads"

"But you don't actually have to go into the hospital to be on-call? You just do it from home, right?"


Whilst I don't mind looking at the rash in question, there's nothing like the tumble weed that flows through room when I'm asked my occupation. The ultimate conversation stopper (apart from saying you are the current health secretary in an NHS hospital staff room).

The silence that assumes you're a snob. That your parents are well off and got you this gig. That of course you always know best. That you think you're better than everyone. That you are now difficult to talk to. That you earn loads, in fact, overpaid. That you are lazy, off most weekends, clocking up your golf hours. Thanks for the last one Jeremy Hunt.

And it's normally based on assumptions that have been fed by the media and now even politicians about doctors.

And you know what, I understand where these come from. Historically doctors were made out to be pompous gits. The (mainly male) doctors chased nurses into linen closets (Carry On films), spent their long lunches on the golf courses avoiding home visits (BBC's doctors) and went home to their fat cat mansions with their massive £100K+ pay packet (Daily Mail: Britain's largest fictitious book on public sector workers). Not to mention the blood boiling scenes in Holby City where the doctors egos are so large they can in fact run not one department single handedly but the entire hospital, including such feats performing as C-section surgery, then resuscitating the baby afterwards and of course finishing their shift at a normal working hour in time to the local for a bevvy.

I can only guess that certain politicians frequent watching these programmes and then rest their arguments on this.


Blog a Job (Part 1)

Not blow job.

I know on first glance it looks like that but its definitely BLOG a Job. Apologies if you've entered this site with an alter motive and a wayward google search.

So I was nominated a couple of months ago by wordsmith and tapestry smith, Alice at Nipper and Tike, if you follow that link, you will find her. I can honestly say, "I was well up for it init." This is like getting little nosey into someones employment history and to compare who really has had the shittest job.

A big reason why I like this task and immediately agreed to do it (though put it off for a couple of months) is that as a doctor, there is an expectation, like alot of careers, to just stay in the same career for ever.
I remember I viewed my school teachers when I was a kid, that they didn't really exist out of school. Similarly I get the feeling, most people just expect their doctor to just be a doctor and only a doctor, almost not seeing that they are a person with a family life and other interests outside if it. But there is a wealth of creativity in doctors. I've know GPs who are lead singers in indie bands on the side and hospital docs who work with puppets as a second job (yes, that's you Dr Ranj). I've known web designers that have gone into medicine and, conversely doctors who have changed career to photographers and food hygiene inspectors.



Here are my two having a go at the family business


For me lowlights are highlights, basically if I can make a joke out of it or send myself up, it's a highlight. Anything for a laugh - so here is my tongue in cheek online CV (well half of it).

I like to think I've cornered the market in shit first world jobs. I've had part time jobs since it was probably illegal and I think my starting way was around £3/hr, which is likely unheared of now:

First job: 

'Doing menial tasks for my parents for child slave labour wage'

I'm sure you have partaken in this right of passage as a child and if you have, it's certainly something you should pass onto your children. I used to get 50p for cleaning the car from my mum. My dad was a lot more shrewd in business and drove a hard bargain (ha ha- drove, what a pun!) and made me do inside and out for 50p - Honestly, an ingenious way to get your car cleaned on the cheap.

Other tasks included 20p for sweeping the drive (stones from one side to another - a pretty fruitless task), and cleaning blood off the walls...so maybe I should explain we didn't live in an abattoir or a dungeon, but we had an over excitable golden lab that used to whip her tail across the highly floral 90s wall paper, flicking blood from the whipping of her own tail on the wall. So, yes, cleaning the blood of walls can be a job for your children.

Our lab was like this one, but with more blood

I actually quite enjoyed those jobs. We lived in the sticks and only had 4 channels on TV - I hope that explains the actual enjoyment I had for those tasks.

Baby Sitting:

'Looking after someone else children you hardly know, whilst eating the food in their fridge'

Every teenage girls right of passage was to baby sit, least it was in the nineties ands noughties. I used to baby sit my sister's cast-offs (whenever she was busy, I was second in command for the job). On the whole it was a great job - you got to eat their posh yogurts from the fridge and do your homework whilst watching Blind date, until you meet a demon child...


She was like this, only with less remorse and 7 years old

...I only had one encounter with a child that embodies the title of 'little madam.' She was like butter wouldn't melt when her parents left, only to turn like the spinning of that little girls head in The Exorcist. Except she didn't spew green vomit, only high pitched screams akin to Verruca Salt in an "I want it know' moment.

At 10 pm she demanded to get her rabbit out of the hutch in the pitch black, only for it to escape and we (well, I) completed a Benny Hill sketch running around after it. That felt with she then wanted to watch a two hour film before bed which 'her mum always let her.' When I said no, she actually said "I'll scream until you let me", followed by another benny Hill sketch into chasing her around with the phone whilst she threatened to call her mum to tell on me.
Whilst my ears were ringing from her high pitched tones, I had an epiphany. This kid was so badly behaved, why was i trying to install some discipline?

So she rang her mum, and told her everything was fine (all with an evil glint in her eye to me) and then I let her watch her age inappropriate film. Hey, it's not my funeral and I certainly wasn't going to volunteer babysit her again - by this stage I could care less what her mum would think at the end of the night. This kid must of gone through babysitters like my kids eat jelly tots - no wonder her mum skipped off happily for a night out, without having to cleanse her daughter in holy water again for the evening.
And if you're wondering, by the time mum and dad were home, she was asleep. To her parents i had done a pretty standard job of baby sitting her. And no, I did no return for round two.


Indian Restaurant Waitress

"Gaining an encyclopaedic knowledge of birianyi whilst scoffing Bombay Mix....and working like  dog"

Looking back on this, I possibly was working outside the law for my age (15 years old, when I started there), working never ending shifts from 5.30pm until when the kitchen was cleaned, often gone 1.30am. But we did get a free chicken tikka and naan on break time, so every cloud and all that.

I think I literally ate my own weight in Bombay mix in between waiting tables, but luckily in those days was blessed with a very fast metabolism. I could tell any curry on sight back then, which is obviously a highly sought after skill....er....but I wasn't a very good actually waitress. I don't think that  I got that you had to give good service as part of being a waitress, I just wanted to get the job done i.e. no good at the whole smile and chat thing. I mean I was good at getting food to the table and a dab hand at stacking the dishwater but I didn't factor in the tip factor AKA chat factor.

Private Waitress


"Not as kinky as it sounds but did involve a repetitive strain injury of the wrist"

Almost exactly what I looked like, except I had much less poise and no dangly catheter bag

Basically a big house down the road wanted some waitresses for their garden party (to you know, look good in front of their hoity-toity mates I presume), so us local pheasants went to assist. It was all a bit Thomas Hardy (apart from the manor house was a pretty ugly 80's build, fully retaining all its 80s 'character'), we brought food out in out volovants in our quant pinnies (yet more 80s fodder), in the blissful english sunshine and then scrubbed the plates like skivvies in the back. 

The next day, the lack of dishwasher was evident from my sore, aching, creaking wrist. A trip to the GP confirmed the diagnosis - repetitive strain injury secondary to extreme washing up. I suppose I could of sued for industrial injury but instead I used it to my advantage and got off PE for a week.



Safeway Cafe Waitress

"Free Dishwasher facials and a yearning to get to work on the tills"

It's as this point I realised how many part time jobs I had as a teen.

Safeway opened up in the neighbourhood and I was desperate to get out of waitressing. I looked at those till girls with awe...they looked cool and classy, beeping shit through the till, free from sweat with a delicate poise passing that tin of beans through the scanner. Unfortunately, with my skill set, I was placed in waitressing/cafe skivvy.

I honed my skills in microwaving at 1000W, facial steam cleaning with the industrial dishwasher and cleaning up sticky toddler spills...so basically this job set me up for motherhood.

Safeway cafes main aim seemed to be to humiliate its employees by dressing them in the worst uniforms possible. They brought out a new uniform one time and the trousers were akin to what MC Hammer would of been delighted with. One month we had to do 'Italian month' which involved an Italian themed tabard and boater hat complete with hairnet. I'm convinced this outfit scuppered my chances with one of the hot shelf stackers....either that or my nervous inability to communicate beyond a giggle whenever he was near.

That was me, minus trombone


Care Assistant

Now, I actually loved this job. My employers cared about the residents, the carers had enough time for the residents, and I got to work with and make friends.

This is going to sound soppy and out of character for me, but it was a privilege to be caring for these residents. I remember, chatting away with an old ex school mistress with alzheimer's, who I'm sure was formidable in her day, as she busied around her room. I'd try to convince her to put on her nightie; she would oblige only if we rambled about the children she taught and looked through her photos. 



There was one lady, who I'll always remember. She had parkinson's and the warmest personality. Gradually she lost the ability to talk and was frozen unto her own body, but never let it outwardly get her down. The night before she died, we sat in her room whilst I handed her chocolates her daughter had bought her, whilst we read through some cards from her family. I had no idea she would die that night but I think she knew she would. She seemed to be in a time of peace and happiness before she passed away - possibly the best state to be in. If you can have a 'good death', then this was one of them.
Lovely fulfilling job, that one. 


(Illegal) Weigh-bridge Operator and Grain Laboratory Technician


In the summer before I went to uni to study medicine, I needed to get some cash together to go to Belize with my then boyfriend (much later ex-boyfriend). What better way, than to get exploited by a student holiday job?

Living in Suffolk at the time, there was a large company that processed grain, rape seed etc and used us cheap sixth form/uni students to save away in the lab. For £3.36/hr we tested if the flour made was the right consistency and counted out how much 'admix' (crap other than seed) was in each batch of crop from the farmers. Riveting stuff.

As I lived near to a more local branch I was placed there on my own with two burly men who ran the weigh bridge to weigh the lorry's loads and worked the machinery to put the grain in the right silo. This is all bit layman terms.

I think this tractor makes it look sexier than it was

I basically fannied about in the little lab, making flour and counting out crap from rape seed in a petri dish. Though I did get upgraded to illegal weigh bridge operator. Illegal because you had to have a licence to press the button to weight the lorry, which I didn't possess. Though I was an excellent illegal button presser.
After a few weeks, I got a lab buddy, a girl who was in the year above me at school. We had a great laugh - she fancied one of the burly guys and we listened to top tunes on local radio. In the end it was worth the measly minimum wage, if not just for the company.

Agency Care Assistant


"Shits 'n' giggles: Social service poo catcher"

Whilst at uni, I took weekend jobs around East Anglia's care homes. My husband nick names me the poo catcher after an incident where a resident was hosted up from the commode only to quickly open their bowels. For some reason, my hand shot out and I caught the poo. At the time it seemed like the sensible thing to do and of course it demonstrates my dedication to the job and cat like reflexes in stool grabbing. But it was pointless as I could of just let it drop into the commode beneath.
See, some jobs are for the shits and giggles, literally.

Once again though, a skill that sets you up for motherhood.

This jobs helped in these kind of 'mum' tasks

Primark Sales Assistant


"Part time Pant folder"



Now this was probably 10 years ago or so, so maybe a lot has changed since then, but if I had to say what was my worst job, it would be this one. Praise be due to to the Primark employee who's main job is tidying and folding after the onslaught of bargain shoppers, under the overbearing eye of management.

I was assigned to the knicker section, where I spent most of the day tidying pants and refolding up nighties. Just so you know, every time you unfold and scatter a nightie over the display at Primark, some one has to today that up, repeatedly. It was a weekend exercise in futility.
Though I did learn how to fold a T-shirt properly there (and there was ample opportunity to practice). Thats about the sum of the positives.



To be continued.....

That sums up part 1 of my blog a job (online nosey CV) with my pre-medicine jobs, of which there have been a-plenty. Stay tuned for part 2 which will be a potted history with funny tales of my house jobs and into working mother-dom.

I will ask a few blogging peeps to pass this forward (and you know have a little see what has moulded their careers) later in the week and add them on the bottom. I actually want to chose most of the people that Alice from Nipper & Tyke tagged! But of course this is an inclusive party, so everyone is invited to write their own.

I'd love to hear anyones worst jobs and best jobs - please comment below or come hither to Facebook or somethin'. Or better still write one on your blog.

Now get back to work!

Computer Says No: When Your Children Destroy Something Expensive



Today marks the death of a dear friend: My laptop.


Last Friday, all was well in the Doctomum household. Well, all was on a par with normal for in my household - the usual, no-one wants to get dressed, and there are milky honey nut loops scattered around the furnishings.


I could hear a scrambling sound in the lounge. In all honesty I knew baby Bobcat was making his way into his beloved corner, which housed a nest of tables and a bookshelf (ok, and maybe a pile of DVDs and essentials magazines that I really must scrapbook the recipes from). And at the bottom of that bookshelf lay my laptop.

I was making my breakfast, I was famished, I just needed 30 more seconds, maybe a minute to spread on some butter onto some hot toast (you parents out there will know the luxury of eating hot buttered toast. Nothing comes hot anymore or in complete pieces after you've had children - the little blighters have an uncanny knack to need something desperately when you are eating or just feel complused to chomp on what you're having).

I heard, "mummy, he won't get off...my water, my water, nooooooo, NOOOOOOOO!"

No, I was going to finish buttering. Sometimes you just need to let them sort it out for themselves....

"Thump!" Resounded from the lounge.

Sigh. Buttering dreams vanished, I poked my head round the doorway.

Sat squarely on my laptop with a upturned cup of water balanced on his head was Bobcat. Strands of his newly cut hair stuck to his face and he looked more like Jim Carey from Dumb and Dumber than before but now with a touch of Tommy Cooper.

I raised him up, in his soggy grow, to see his 8kg of chunky baby behind had been planted squarely on my laptop in a puddle of southern water's finest.

My other son, still had his arm flung out over the sofa from where he had flung his brother over, after he had dared to touch his precious tap water.

"Mummy, I didn't do it, my arm did it, tell my arms off." The naughty one declared.

"Your arms are very naughty...and the owner of those arms is very very naughty!" I resigned, through gritted teeth.

Then came synchronised wails of two children as they both realised they'd ballsed up - one a soggy balls up, the other the one that actually ballsed up.

Luckily for me, the laptop was shut and only really had a pool of water on top. 

Heck, that laptops had worse happen to it, I thought. I've knocked it off things, I've spilt wine on it, and it's got at least half a bag of kettle chips crammed down the keyboard nooks... Pah, this is nothing.

Casually I wiped down the top, tossed the computer (gently) on the dining table and we went out for the morning.

Come sacred naptime when we returned, I cracked open that baby.
Hot tea in hand, ready to get to business.... Hmmmm, what should I get up to? Finally Google calendar our lives? Get on with a quick blog article (that is never quick)? Shop for tops as all of mine have weird kid orange stains or random holes in?

Oh, it's having difficulty turning on.
Press the on button again.
Press it again.
Press it for a bit longer this time.
Try plugging it in.
Try opening and shutting it
Look for a magic reset button.
Realise it doesn't have one.
It won't turn on.
Assume panic stations!

Google what to do whilst giving the computer a little whack, sometimes a little whack just whacks it back to life.

Nothing happens.

Google laptop repair man. Found one.

So I give hailed laptop man (my saviour) a ring:

"So what's the problem love?" He says. 

*Blushes* "Oh... it's just...well...one of my children pushed the other over and he spilled a bit of water on it...but it was closed...but he landed on the laptop too, and he weighs about 8kg... y'know I've done worse before, but it just won't turn on...I've tried plugging it in and er...whacking it a bit."

Best not tell him, that I'm stills but miffed about that hot buttered toast or lack thereof, particularly as I now gaze at my cold stagnant tea from sacred naptime, left redundant after my crazed laptop resuscitation antics.

He sniggers, "I'll be round in an hour."


An hour later, he strapped my laptop into his case. 
"Don't worry love, I'll only charge you £10 if I can't fix it. Should be able to get the data off anyway."

Ah, so really it was win win, if he couldn't fix it, it would only be £10 and we could save the 5000+ cute baby pics I had on there and comedy toddler video clips. Oh there was all those work documents and power points too, suppose they would come in handy.


At this point, I am going to partially address the guilt in the back of my mind for not backing this up. There addressed it, now covering it back up with jest. 

So, my laptop was whisked away for a  weekend away with a new man. Surely she would return a new woman full of oomph and turned on by this new guy caressing her gigabytes and manhandling her harddrive?


Monday comes with a missed call.
The message left came with some solom news, which left me feeling surprisingly saddened. "I'm afraid it's not good news...." My saviour said.
Oh my god, she's gone.


"The motherboard's completely gone, I haven't seen one like this for a while, and the harddrive just keeps clicking, they call it the click of death." He said, as he delivered the blow. He appears to think I know what a motherboard is and how it differs from the harddrive (cue frantic googling of 'what is the difference between a motherboard and the hard drive?').

"Can I drop it back off this afternoon?" He says.

"Sure." I said surprisingly cheerily, like I was in a medical drama where they just give you a fatal diagnosis but you're holding it together for the kids.


"But, you can get the files off right?" I said hopefully.

"Well, about that click of death..."

It seems the click of death is when your computer says no. No, to more snacks rammed into the keys. No, to lighting up your face again on an evening. No, to you, no more of your rule, you clumsy oaf, off to better places now. But, yes to a big bill for data recovery (most likely).

So the lesson of this tale?

- Kid break shit. Yep. I mean I broke my fair share as a child. I once jumped through an expensive pool cover as I wanted to walk like Jesus across it, so I suppose that's karma (For clarification, Jesus walking across water, not across a swimming pool cover, I don't think Jesus was ever quite in that position. Not even in the New Testiment).

- The hot buttered toast was not worth it (and I didn't get to savour it anyway).

- Back up your files, though that wouldn't of saved my computer, at least I would of had those squidgy widgey cutesy wootsey pics on hand (and I literally just transferred all my iPhone pics to my computer...talk about Sod's law).

- But, this has given me the opportunity to write a very pure blog article. No fanciness. No spangly pics. Just the raw honesty of someone who's just lost their beloved (crappy) laptop and who's husband won't let her touch his expensive gaming laptop (from his memories of some teeny tiny episode of when I left wet nail varnish on the keys of his many years ago. I though it brightened up his lacklustre keys, but not everyone is a fashonista like myself).


I could blame my children, but it's what they do eh, f**k s**t up. Then look damn cute with water cup bowler hats on after.

After a sorrowful Facebook status update about the demise of my little techno beast, a friend replied with:

"This is a memorable event!...
Live the moment! This rarely happens again!"

Which I suppose is true, like when you drop your phone in the kids bath, when you flush you bleep down the loo (only kidding, this brings secret joy to most doctors. The little bleeping git has gone...at least until I go to switch board for another and her billed for sacrificing the original)...Yes, being a little less in touch and less available does give you a new lease of life, a new bit of old school techno-free freedom.

Well I may just go write a letter....or go on the aye-pad (the toddler pronunciation for iPad)...


Peace out, until I get a new lappy-ma-top.
Unless you wanna give me a free one? Promise I won't #bloggerblackmail you...pretty please with RAM on top?

******

Alright dudes, show me some sympathy...or tell me what your kids have done that's worse - both will make me feel better.

PS. Apologies for typos and bad spacing etc as I'm diddly doing this all on my phone. And also advance soz's for being slow to reply to any comments, due to techno-idiot issues.


The Nanny Chronicles Part 4: Costa Wars and The Visit to ThreeSupermarkets

So, there we were, strangers. Two of us to begin with, now three, awkwardly sitting round the table in the garden centre. All not quite sure how we got to this. Collectively, we avoided eye contact and frantically, we each social media'd the shit of of the situation (with a total of three different types of technology out), in a group effort not to actually confront the physical  human in front of us but you know, tell all our friends we felt #awkward.
Artist's (highly polished) impression of my coffee shop outing/war

This was my first day flying solo without the two kidlets whilst the nanny did a full day's trial in soul charge. My first day as a lady of leisure, almost nearing the final hour and I appeared to ended up awkwardly table sharing.
Had the world changed since I had been on maternity leave?
Was it the new social norm to ask if you 'could just perch here' next to a stranger then invite your partner to sit down too and wait until it just got too weird?

I mean, I know I was sitting in the nice 'leather' chairs, I had almost finished my coffee and 1,000 calories of overpriced cake, but it was 3pm on a Monday, the place had around 100 free seats. And, dammit, I was without my children and was LIVING IT UP, I was here to stay... At least until I finished browsing my Dunelm catalog and finished tweeting about it
Then I was left with even more social nicety questions; should I thank them and say good bye? (a bit like when you say sorry to the person who trod on your foot) or do I say something passive aggressive?
I settled for shuffling off for the Garden centre gift section, being hotly converted by people turning over figurines to gasp at the extortionate price. 

One hour left, and I wasn't in the slightest bit concerned about the kids. The were getting unbridled play with an enthusiastic youngling, different to mummy who is always play distracted by the rest of life; swearing under her breath at interupting PPI calls and meticulously planning what to pull out of the freezer next for dinner and the like.

The day had been pretty eventful. I had rekindled the freedom memories of what it was like not to have children. I had been to Lidl on my own and spent double the amount I normally do as there was no paddywinge-fest half way through. I had even leisurely browsed the weird shit they thrown in those baskets in the middle. I had packed my bags without my slinged baby trying to leap out onto the coveryor belt and I didn't have to have to discuss why the pound coin wouldn't come out of the trolley lock with the three year old.
I then visited a further 2 supermarkets that day - one to get the bits I couldn't get at the discount supermarket (obvs) and then the other for leisure (yes, leisure, a leisurely stroll through the clothes section, followed by a browse of the wine section without anyone declaring, "have you found your big drink for tonight yet, mummy?").
I had the pleasure of driving straight past the child and family spaces and the freedom to park where the heck I liked with no risk of any of my tribe accidentally defacing the car next door. But I still had a quick check that the child and family spaces were correctly filled - solidarity to my mum sisters and all that.

I had also fitted in at least seven other of my 'to do list' tasks and all because I could. Today I could 'pop' wherever I wanted. There was no restriction on how many stops I could do in car and risking breaking up the babies nap time. I had waited in line actually patiently, almost enjoying the time to think, at the post office. Am I just getting weird here?
Of course it helps that this was a nanny trial day and I wasn't actually back at work yet, otherwise I would of been chomping at the bit to get that post office queue going.
Oooh queue, don't mind if I do

I had a seriously good time, doing run of the mill stuff. Because I could. There was time to take in the mundane scenery and no distractions. This is how people live without children - how novel!

I know I could of planned a spa day (that may be on the cards), got my hair done, visited the dentist (both of which I also wanted to do, my dentist is quite the fox), but it was nice to not be kid policed and to be at that stage when it's the right time to go back to work. The right time being that the baby is at that whingey, pick me up, put me down, want to sleep, can't sleep, wants toys but doesn't know how to play with them stage. I used to think the 0-6 month stage was boring, but the 6-12 months is becoming quite tedious...dare I say bring on the 1 year plus stage and all the paddies is provides?

Whether or not I'll be saying this in a few weeks after I start back, may be another matter. I'll be going back to  job where every shift is twelve hours plus and their is little time to pee let alone talk to another adult about non work things but at least I won't be unwitting referee to the daily murderous intents of one three year old to one 9 month old.
"Just another day mum, trying to bury my brother alive under some pillows"
When I did return home, I could hear the 9 month old babbling away, the 3 year old playing trains. The older one quickly spotted me, running up, grabbing my leg, declaring, "I love you mummy, can we have a cuddle and kiss?" The younger one, slow off the mark, crawled in for his piece of the action. Uuuummm, delicious cuddles all round.
It's was certainly nice to be appreciated. Pretty much the only job where you never get appraised is that of a Mum. You critically appraise yourself, and fear that others do to, but no -one says. "well done for getting that load of washing done today mum, when I was being a bit of a shit all day and tried to bury my brother alive under four sofa pillows. You deserve a payrise - here have a bottle of wine on me as a thank you, oooh and I'll take myself to bed early tonight."
The nanny explained their day; going to the park and playing round the house. She told of how Bobcat wanted to do everything that Firstborn did and wanted a go on the wobbly bridge. She explained how when Bobcat swiped away Firstborn's meticulously laid out train set, they pretended Bobcat was a naughty dragon taking the trains to his lair. Strange how different your kids are with other people isn't it?
Bobcat normally clings to me like a limpet at the park and Firstborn remains unconvinced whatever I measure I use to get him to understand that his brother find it difficult to play the same way as he does.
Having someone else look after your children, be it your family or a child care provider can really balance your kids and bring out the best (and unseen) bits. I'll remind myself of this when I get the children in childcare guilt later on. Of course it definitely helps that the nanny is literally there to just take care of and play with the kids, and not have to do all the other gubbins involved with being at the at home parent.
I suppose I did miss the kids a bit when I was unwittingly taking part in Costa Wars, as normally I take my very visible force field of two children surrounded by a floor covered in mixed veg and cake crumbs, fending off one from licking the cutlery from someone else's plate and the other deeply questioning the man on the next table like mushrooms. But for now, bring on childfree Mondays!

* This is the forth part in The Nanny Chronicles series: One woman's return back to work, hiring her maaary paarrpins and footing the extortionate childcare bill...I'm sure it will be a best seller, er....*
Hi-ho hi-ho, it's back to work I go (just need to sort out this dodgy blusher first)
*****
Are you returning to work soon? Not sure whether is the right choice? Feeling a little anxious about leaving the kids with someone else?
Well, you can tell me all about it below or on my Facebook page and we can journey back into the workplace together - drinking hot tea and having the occasional solo wee. Maybe even sit on the 'naice chairs' in costa every now and then.


Modern Dad Pages




The Twinkle Diaries

Slings of Beauty: Connecta Baby Carrier Review


I've talked about slings before, when I first started this blog in relation to some tongue in cheek postnatal fashion tips in 'Bringing out your Lando'. For me, wearing a sling made me look (and feel) like a middle aged man, complete with tash, wide stance and a beige ensemble of fabric trailing from my waist. But in saying that was a necessary evil.
 
Yep, I had pretty much resigned myself to my beige fate: Not only would I be feeling like a postnatal frump but I would be trapped in the modern day equivalent an oversized greying nursing bra worn on the outside of my clothes in the form of a baby sling.
 
UNTIL, I found Connecta at a baby fair.
 
TOTAL SLINGS OF BEAUTY!
 
My mouth was agog with they array of designs for every person and every occasion. my eyes drank in their beauty and I thought about them for days, pawing over the designs - and then I got the chance to review one.
 
The next dilemma was choosing which fabric design. I went for the 'Vivid Meadow' design, a fantastic summer stand out print but also with a black background to move into winter too (but I fear now I have become an addict that may need a different patterned winter version - like the Harris Tweed or the Liberty Prints - drool!).

Vivid Meadow in all its sling beauty
 
See, even the baby's love the designs
 
So many patterns. I urge you to go the their website...though you'll need your wallet handy as you will want one, or two, or maybe three just to be on the safe side (y'know, one for summer, one for winter and one for special occasions?). I think you may even be able to tempt Dad's as there is literally something for everyone - buses, owls, floral, wildlife, DNA.... Here are some of my favourites:

Liberty Mauverina (Picture Credit: Connecta)
 
Shipshape (Picture Credit: Connecta)

Harris Tweed Charcoal (Picture credit: Connecta)
 

So what's down low on these beauties?


I've put this baby through its paces with my, er, baby for the past month and I'm pleased to say, beauty is not just skin deep, it's Connecta carrier deep.
 

Let the games begin...<cut to daily grind montage>

Now I have a very active three year old now and I can't be doing with a heavy double buggy to lug around, or even a single buggy which First Born, despite his 3 years, feels the competitive need to jump on board as soon as I put baby Bobcat near it. So a sling has been nigh essential.

  • Firstly, it is comfortable, surprisingly so for me after I had got so used to my old structured baby carrier. The straps are padded and if you wear it cross backed the weight is spread even more evenly. No more slouching with your papoose baby - wear that cling-on with pride!
  • Secondly, it's really, really easy to put on. Just click, smooth, click, click, tighten and you're away. It really is that easy. Far easier than my tie up material sling, of trailing bits and slinging lengths over my shoulders.
  • Thirdly, with my second child, I've tried not to take so much 'thing-a-me-doodles' with me and am aiming for even a normal hand bag. Yes a normal bag! And you know, it's even possible with this sling, as you can literally just sling the sling into a bag. This carrier is always with me either in the car or my bag, so you can even be spontaneous. I know, complete game changer.
  • Fourthly, it is wonderful to have your baby held so closely and securely to you. You don't need to be an attachment parenter to see the benefits, particularly if you are on your second. Gone are the days when baby wearing was just for 'hippies'. It's just so convenient and in my poorly constructed scientific trial consisting of my own two children, there was significantly less crying with the second baby worn child that the first sporadically worn child. And anything that can lead to a more settled child is the parents friend.
 Much easier on sand than a buggy
 
 We've had some great sling bonding chats together
 
 
  • These carriers last. The standard size will do you until toddler. Then they even have more Conecta's in toddler size and preschool, which is ideal if you're packing light for a holiday or a festival and you know that those little legs are going to get tired but don't fancy lugging that buggy. And think, more room in the case for toys and loo roll that way.
  • Fifthly, don't worry, this is the last point - this carrier has been great comfort and source of entertainment to my son. It is the ULTIMATE comfort teether! There's a little collection of Connecta teething babies out there, 'Gummers anonymous', chewing away on the strong fabric rim in bliss. On a practical note, it also washes well for all those vommy gummy babies (of which I have).
Hungry gumming baby carrier eyes
  • No hang on, one more thing, as Colombo would say - the hood - what a great idea! Slip it over when they are having a nap (it also helps support their head and neck in that floppy sleepy state), when the sun is shining or when you are caught in a drizzle. Fab idea!
 
The only thing I would love to see on the Connecta slings, is perhaps a carry pouch sewn into the sling so you can just fold it all up into itself - then my life would be complete.
 

The Summary

These slings are where functionality meets loveliness. A carrier that can go with your outfit, not just over it.
I would highly recommend these if you want something that is not only comfortable for you and your baby but also ticks your long forgotten fashion mogul boxes. Everyone deserve to feel great after they have popped another human or been a slave to the night feed - Connecta brings a little somethin' something just for you.

Top Connecta Tips:

  • Please go and visit their store or like me visit them at a baby show. They were very very helpful and lovely at the fair I attended, but ultimately they are experts in how to get the most out of the sling and be comfortable in it. Sling videos are great on how to put them on, but nothing beats a personal fitting. Most people wouldn't buy a buggy without trying it out and seeing how all the bells and whistles work, so do the same with a sling. It's well worth it to get the comfort factor and be able to perfect the smooth art of wearing the sling on your back (which you can also do with Connecta).
  • Or go and see a sling consultant. My local was fantastic at top tipping and lends out Connectas so you can try before you buy and helped me do this 'leg roll' thing which I don't think I can explain here but it helps get your child sitting more ergonomically and distributes their weight more comfortably on you.
  • To show off the beautiful fabric, clip the hood up but fully extend the hood straps so you can see the outer fabric.
  • Connecta's slings are in high demand, due to the sheer gorgeousness of them and they literally fly of their shelves in Godalming, Surrey (and virtually on-line shelves also). Keep an eye of their Facebook page for when each fabric becomes available or sign up to their email list.
 

Disclosure: I was given a sling to review but all the views are my own. Connecta's are awesome!

http://www.doctomum.co.uk/p/sussex-familes-love.html
 
This review is part of the #SussexFamilesLove section, a selection of handpicked products that families love and that celebrate Sussex and the surrounding areas. If you have a great Sussex, Surrey or Kent product drop me an email to see if we can work together.


The Twinkle Diaries

The World Would Be a Better Place Without...Soft Play

So I have started a new series without even finishes the other series' (seri, pleural?), thus keeping up to my serially distractible nature (oooh a pun, so early on, get me).

I know it's hardly world peace, which obviously would have a more far reaching impact than performing a mass cull on all soft play hell holes. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who's sat at those sticky tables, watery tea in hand with overpriced soggy sandwich in the other thinking, has my life come to this?
One eye on my phone desperate for a catch up on normal life that isn't in this primary coloured foam rimmed sensory overload, the other eye checking there isn't a toddler face off on the slide (why must one always insist on going backwards up the slide? That one normally being mine),

Now let me cast my mind back on my soft play story to illustrate the horrors of the world contained in soft play...
 
 Enter at your peril
 

 
 

Chapter 1: Baby Steps


I remember the first time I went to soft play; it was like the first time getting into a club after getting your first (genuine) over eighteen's ID; only much less booze but still containing lots of underage yobs and more than it's far share of bum cleavage (from all those mum's hoking kids out of that cushion lair in their skinnies).

There we were, a little antenatal group on maternity leave, excited to see this new multi-coloured world and stupid enough to bring a bunch of four month olds - the most completely age and development inappropriate group of younglings to bring to soft play. They gummed the unsanitary fittings and lay like discarded soggy chips at the seaside waiting targets for dive bombing toddler seagulls. We dipped them in the ball pool taking cute pictures of spherically engulfed babies to post on Facebook. Little did we know then that we had unwittingly entered them into the pit of viral despair and four children with rota virus quickly ensued, i.e. the most explosive diarrhoea known to man (this was pre rotavirus vaccination 'the old days' y'unno).

The Poem With a Crappy End (Weaning the Dustbin Baby)

***Prelude***

 
 
 

The second son is not like the first,
He has this tremendous refuse thirst.
No bin appears to go unturned,
As he thrusts them upon his nose.
 
 
It's not just bins either,
With strange foods he's an eager beaver.
Here is the tale of his tastes,
Which he devours with such haste....
 
 

***The Poem With a Crappy End***

 
Peas you quaff at and eject their rind,
Satsuma's you scoff and leave not even the pith behind.
You're a funny old soul when it comes to food,
And it seems not even the usual will do.
 
 
Yesterday, I found you with bright pink drool.
Was it the cherry jam on toast consumed?
Nay, it was the fuschia chalk your brother left about,
You'd gobbled it up, not wanting to be left out.
 
 
And what other delicacies do you like to nosh on?
Maybe I should turn to where the cat food has gone?
I give you credit, you have refined the pincer grip a treat,
Demolishing a king size pack of Dreamies is no mean feat.
 
 
 
 
You appetite not quenched, what else is to spare?
I see you've found the wipes that clean your derriere.
You mouth glistens clean, your breath with fragrant odour,
You scamper off behind the door, wrapped up in a tissue toga.
 
 
For what is here my sweet, is the most delicious of all;
The contents of  bin, for which you graciously bow and fall.
Every item lightly dusted with a long haired cat's down,
Now this adorns your upper lip in a moustached frown.
 
 
Rolling in the contact lens carcasses, you are filled with glee,
You have sourced used ear buds and snotty tissues for the bargain price of FREE!
Your palate now needs a cleanse, you search amongst some wires,
Of course live electrical plugs, what else could set your taste buds on fire?* 
 
 
Safely you are bundled downstairs where you spot my open handbag.
Old lip-gloss gummed, keys chewed and tossed aside, nothing makes you gag,
You reach inside my purse to find a crumbled returns receipt - Bon appetite!
Down the hatch, no more exchange for Mum's purchase regrets, she's now up s**t creek!
 
 
 
 
Now there seems a funny smell, coming from behind,
Could it be inside your nappy, there is now a poo to find.
A multi-coloured turd, full of wondrous things,
And eating all that chalk before, really did cut down on your wind.
 
 
Take a picture for Daddy and send it on Whatsap...
Is this what the government want to snoop on - a picture of our darling's crap?
 
 
 
 Looking for frozen 'normal' food
 
 
 
*****
 
So, there's my 10 months old weaning diary. Please do not do as I say (or as he eats) - he's a little guy with 'special' tastes.
 
 
*NB: The electrical plugs weren't actually live, that was just for dramatic purposes but all other consumed goods where Bobcat's own choosing's. And obvs, don't let your children eat live wires, amongst other things mentioned.
 
 
Who else has a weaning baby dustbin with the cravings of a pregnant lady?
Modern Dad Pages

The Twinkle Diaries

The Parent's Essential Holiday Packing List

It's that time of year again!
 
No, not Christmas.


It's time to pack your case for your holibobs - summer holidays are here!
 
Now, there isn't an inch of the blogosphere, magazine space, or newspaper articles that aren't telling you the essentials to pack on holiday; the essentials for baby, the must have holiday items for trendy young things, which fake tan is best...but what about us parents? What must we remember?
 
Yes, you need ALL these bags
 
 
Now with two kids under my belt (or under my sling), I can safely say I have only just mastered the art of parental packing.


First holiday abroad with just one stick on baby

I can pack for kids easily. With the precious firstborn we used to pack EVERYTHING.
You know the drill; a selection of noisy plastic stuff (toys), the massive baby bath, four baby outfit changes a day, nappies in three different types just in case they er, grow, get torrential diarrhoea or there are no shops outside of the UK that stocks nappies.

But now with two, we have got  it down. By got it down, I mean I still have ANSA-panties (Abroad Nappy Supply Anxiety) with a case lined with suspect nappy packages.
 
Think back to those days, pre-children...Do you remember, going shopping for outfits for summer holidays? clearing out boots summer 3 for 2 on suntan lotion, insect repellent and Imodium? (the last one is probably just for my sensitive holiday tum).
Packing your case, neatly, outfits for the beach, for evenings out, for sightseeing, even for the on-site gym? Even though you knew that was probably never going to happen.


Look at those smug child-free gits
 
Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, maybe it's your wobbly bit worries, maybe you haven't got the time or inclination to care anymore, but inside your case now looks decidedly different.
 
But anyway, I digress, onto how to fill you OWN case with must-have (and must not forget) items.
 
  1. A COMPLETE Outfit

It's easy to pack an outfit, but is it easy to pack a COMPLETE outfit? This is a rhetorical question.
I have gone on holiday with only one sandal, a going out strapless top (but no strapless bra, I know it's shocking, but it was my ONLY nice going out top and hence rendered completely useless by lack of strapless boulder holder) and many other incomplete fashion faux pas.
 
 
An artists representation of breasts post breast feeding (only less firm in real life)

Its Looking at Me: A Tale of Willies.

 

 
 
"Mummy, it's looking at me." My son says, staring down at his groin, his feet dangling over the edge of the toilet.
 
"I suppose you're right, it is looking at you," I reply, distracted by trying to accost the baby from ferreting in the bin for more used ear buds to gorge on.
 
"Now, he's looking at you!" He exclains.
 
I face up to see someone pointing their appendage at me. Luckily, this dingly-dangly has just been to the watering hole, else I wouldn't be quite so calm.
 
 
Ever since starting potty training, my eldest, has been fascinated with his willy. Compared to his friends, he has come to it quite late.
As a baby on the changing mat, he didn't seem to grapple with it, pulling it into contorted shape that would of made a grown man's eyes water.
He was never a 'puller' or a 'twanger'.
He always been very keen on wearing trousers, unlike my sister as a child as my mum tells me,  "she always ran around in the nuddie."
In fact, my son is so keen on covering up, even in this heat wave he demands trousers on and if I give him shorts, he runs around trying to pull them down over his knees like in some Ministry of silly walks sketch.
 
But now that has all changed. It's all about the willy. His willy. And of course the odd remark about Daddy's one and the absence of Mummy's one. Though the willy curiosity has spread further:
 
"Mummy, does Suki (the cat) have a willy?"
 
"Mummy, where's Nanny's willy?"
 
"Mummy, Daddy's has a big willy and I have a little willy... why?"

Sussex Families Love...Magnus & Mouse Nursery Bedding (Review)

Oh my, I'm going to have an affair....with the lustable Nursery bedding from Magnus & Mouse.

50 shades of grey these sheets ain't...more like 50 shades of organic baby bedding heaven!


 
Beautifully packaged, and drool-worthy fitted cot bed sheet in 'Cloudy Day' design
 
  
Nothing Cuter Than These Chubby Fingers On This Gorgeous Soft Organic Bedding.
 
 
AND if you want to see these sheets 'in action' spot them in this weekly Vlog by The Giggles Family. Also soon to be featured in their monthly product roundup vlog.


I'll just leave you with all of that for a moment...

...Right now that love mopped up that drool and contained your nursery lust, I'll tell you a bit about this delectable bedding from Magnus and Mouse.
 

I first spotted there designs when I went to the Uflourish Pregnancy and Family Fair and I just could not stop thinking about them. Lucky for me (and little Bobcat) we got to try the cot bed fitted sheet my favourite design 'Cloudy Day.' And they are from Sussex, so what a perfect way to start my 'Sussex Families Love...' reviews.

Look, even Bobcat loves Them!
 
 
Let's face it, baby sheets are pretty dull normally, mainly coming in white, sometimes fitted, sometimes terry.
 
This is where the owners of Magnus and Mouse came up with their concept to put gender neutral gorgeous prints onto their 100% organic bedding.
 
 
With guidelines that we all know about to help keep baby safe in a cot (bumpers, loose bedding and toys discouraged) a cot can be a pretty bland place. But do not despair Magnus & Mouse are here!
Look at the perdy designs...


Delectable Array of designs : Pineapples, Kite tails, Lions, Elephants & Clouds...
(Picture credit: Magnus & Mouse)

We love these because:

  • The SOFTEST of SOFTEST 100% organic baby bedding - what more could you want for your delicate babies skin?
 
  • When it washes, it gets even softer...and we all know we all need some motivation to do that mountain of washing that comes with kids! AND they wash well (and I should know as I have a very vomity baby so his sheets get washed a lot!)
 
  •  They come in matching blankets and baby bundles - perfect gift (particularly surprise gender babies) and also keepsake. I wish I knew about them before I had Bobcat as I would of got the matching blanket too. 
 
  • Serious nursery eye candy for parents and with gender neutral designs - I loved the cloudy days design and was so pleased that it looked great in a boys cot (boys cute stuff is sadly lacking on the market - thank you Magnus and Mouse for providing something for da boys!)
 
  • Simply, yet beautifully packaged
 
  • They are stocked variety of sizes. We have an Ikea cot bed size, which this sheet had a generous fit on (but then Ikea cots mattresses come up a little smaller than the standard) so will also fit those deeper mattresses and toddler beds.
 
  • You can match it in with your sleep sack. I really wanted to get a picture of my son in his hot air balloon & aeroplane sleep sack  on the cloudy day sheet but it would of been a #parentingfail to wake him up whilst taking a picture!
 
  • A local business run by two mums with passion and style with an easy to use website to order from.
 
  • Reasonably priced gorgeousness at £28 for a blanket and prices from £22 for a fitted sheet (even more reasonable if you use the discount code below....!)
 
  • Fantastic easy, safe way to dress up the cot. These were perfect for me as I have moved a lot for work into different rented houses the past few years, they are a great way of putting your own mark on the nursery without committing to redecoration too.
 
Here's a Little Treat for you...
 
  • And the best reason of all is that they have given us a discount code to get 10% off your order with them - just use the code: Newbaby10 at Magnus & Mouse
 

Thank you and Goodnight
 
Magnus & Mouse gave us the Cloudy Day cot Bed fitted sheet for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

******

Let it be known, we LOVE Sussex and all its loveliness! If you have a product or day out you would like us to try or see if we can help promote, please contact us to see if we can help. Anything for my Sussex peeps! *Tries to fangle some kind of Sussex gang sign but just looks a bit 'mum' doing it*


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