Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A mum's view on a Super Car

Young Master T is nearing 18 next month and in honour of this prestigious birthday and the fact that my Dad spoils him rotten, he has been given his own car.  Note my dad spoils him, not me; I'm groaning under the insurance bill for a 17 year old and the cost of driving lessons, test and extra petrol as now he wants me to ride shot gun everywhere he goes...... I don't understand it, his feet worked fine until last week!

Anyway, the car is a trusty little Peugeot 206, it's about 8 years old and apparently really well maintained (I'm trusting my brother on that and a stack of service slips that came with it).  New car hadn't even arrived before the questions started.  "Can I add alloy wheels?", "Can I get bucket sports seats?", "what about a new subwoofer and sound system?".  By the time the car made it to our driveway, unscathed, he'd completely reinvented the wheel in his own mind and was imagining a car that wasn't going to look out of place at Silverstone on F1 day.

The supercar of his dreams, had low wide tyres, apparently great for road handling in the dry on fast roads.  He's obviously forgotten that he lives in England, where dry roads only happen twice a year.  Skirts and a new low bumper system were also high up on the list, which would be great if we didn't have six speed bumps in the road that leads to our house.  Bucket sports seats with harnesses -  apparently he was thinking of me then and how much safer I'd feel if he had more than just a seat belt holding him in if he rolled the car!!!!  I'd feel safer, if he decided to put of learning to drive until he was 45.  He also wanted tinted glass, a new gear stick shaped like a woman's body and a sound system that on it's lowest setting would make the ground shake.

Suffice to say said car is still in exactly the same condition as when it arrived with absolutely no modifications, but it did get me thinking about the changes I'd like to make:

1.  Instead of just a driver and passenger airbag, I'd like the air bag to inflate around the entire body of the car; safely cocooning all occupents in a kind of giant Zorb ball at the slightest hint of bodily damage.
2.  I'd like parking sensors built in around the entire circumfrance of the car.  Which would not only beep if he got close to hitting something, but switch off the engine if he ignored the warning signs.
3.  I'd go one farther with the parking sensors and have the car designed so that it could scan the surrounding area and park itself.
4. In my dream car world, the car would have a breath sensor inbuilt and if any alcohol was found in the driver the immobiliser would kick in.
5.  I'd like a speed limiter, not one that stops the car going over 70, but one that scans the road signs and limits the car to the actual speed of any given road.
6.  I'd love it to GPS back to me at home command the exact location of the car at any given time.  Especially useful on days when you just know he's not keen on going to college and the beach is calling him.
7. My best one would be that it ran on some kind of new fuel that doesn't cost me half the gross national debt each week to finance.
8.  and finally I think I'd like it to be self cleaning as although at the moment, it's being cleaned all the time, I'm not exactly looking forward to my water bill.

I doubt I could get all of these, but with a £1,000 I could insist on the harness seat belts, the parking sensors, a great sat nav, a wonderful alarm system for the car and a hands free phone system, which could make me a slightly happier and less worried M.  And this would hopefully leave some money over for the change in insurance costs from modifying the car to include these lovely little gadgets.  The alloy wheels, tinted windows and new completely sexist gear knob can stay sitting pretty on the shop shelf for some other young lad.   Not quite a bond car, but definately a super little car for a young lad starting out.

I started this blog post after reading about a great little competition idea over on Temp Cover.com  http://blog.tempcover.com/news/competition-time.  They provided us with fantasically helpful cover when we bought the car as my dad bought it in Bristol and we live in Devon, so he needed to be able to drive it just for two days.  They also provide cover for learner drivers and young drivers, which is not easy to find.

Photo: Help me

Monday, 29 April 2013

Oh they grow up too fast!

My daughter is growing up. The time has come for her to say goodbye to the fairy and unicorn mural that has adorned her room for years, to give up the fairy lights strung over her bed of twinkly little flowers and to say goodbye to the toybox full of teddy bears and dolls.... or so she says. Me, I'm loathe for her to leave that last remnant of being a little girl and accept that now she has just reached double figures she needs a more grown up bedroom. The pestering started after christmas that she no longer wanted a bunk bed, or childish wall designs.  That although she still liked pink or purple she wanted a more grown up hue to the colour not the candy pink of babydom.

She's been scanning the internet for inspiration, looking at paint brochures and designing her new room with a vengeance this week though when I mentioned that Little Greene paints were running a competition to win the very paint she wants for her new grown up (but not too grown up) room. Copious amounts of drawings have been done from every possible angle, decisions of national importance have taken less time but finally we have a design that she loves and wants. It's plain and simple and timeless and something that I actually can see working in her room, so I think she may have won the battle, now we just have to see if she can win the paint!

Her idea is simple, paint the walls a colour which won't date, she has her eye on Ashes of Roses in the Little Greene range; this was as close as her colouring pencils would get to it but it is a really beautiful colour.  Then with posters and artwork accessorise the walls.  The posters will be in pre-designed places (apparently) so as to not damage the lovely paintwork and will feature whoever is the love of the moment.  Currently it's Justin Bieber but that can (hopefully) change. 

She'd like a big TV on the wall to save on space and storage under her bed - for toys, so perhaps my little girl is still in there somewhere!

I'd like to add that if I needed any final proof that she is growing up we had the following:
a) Mum I don't want you to help me
b) No I don't want glitter, a glue stick or scrunched up tissue paper any more
c) Why oh why don't you have a cad programme on the computer so I can get the dimensions right?!
d) No you cannot see it til it's finished
e) When can we go and buy the paint, isn't it pay day this weekend?
f) I can do the washing up if it helps as I really want this bedroom design done, please....(whilst batting eyelashes at dad)

She also wanted an inspirational message on the wall like thisimages of justin bieber never say wall quote art sticker kids bedroom wallpaper
painted on using the Purpleheart paint available in the range.  She  obviously thinks her mum is a miracle worker/artiste extraordinaire.  I can see me taking a long time over that bit.

I have to say that it's not a fantasy room or a novelty room, it's the room she really wants, that she has thought about carefully and given a great amount of thought and time to.  As she's a severe asthmatic, I have to give really careful thought to anything we do in her bedroom and I guess she's got it right this time... perhaps my little girl is growing up faster than I thought. 

“This is my entry into Little Greene’s child safe paint competition. Find out more at: http://www.littlegreene.com/blog/news/child-safe-paint/”

Monday, 22 April 2013

An ode to a bathroom

My bathroom is a little bit jaded,
and the colour scheme is really faded
Not alot goes with putrid pink
and I'm really struggling with a half size sink!
The builder squeezed a bidet in the space
he must have thought that they were ace!

Me, I'd rather have a shower
with lots and lots and lots of power
instead I've got a half assed drip
that would cause the hulk his shirt to rip
A leaking bath and a wobbly shower curtain
it's not a show room thats for certain
I'd really love something sparkly and white
that always looked clean and bright
would be really rather neat.
I'd have the bathroom of my dreams
instead of one that just provokes screams
I don't want gold taps, a jacuzzi bath or steam room
I just want somewhere that isn't all gloom
somewhere peaceful and quiet and mine
a sanctuary away from grime.
Somewhere I can shut the door and just be me
and ignore the shouts of "whats for tea!"
Perhaps Tots100 will hear my pleading
you can see where this is leading
Bathstop321 please help me out
to get a bathroom with lovely clean grout
A haven, a sanctum, a place of my own
I'd kill for a bathroom that's a horror free zone!

Alpha L Shape Shower Bath Bathroom Suite

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Bucket List

On my 21st I made a bucket list of things to do before I hit 40.  Amazingly, despite at the time some of them seeming really far fetched, I accomplished most of them... ok I didn't meet an alien or learn to play the harpischord, but I got to kiss a hollywood film star...
  Christopher Lambert & Adrian Paul.  Yes I know there could be only one highlander, but I happened upon two of them!
I also got to swim with this dolphin...
and had my two beautiful children.
So how do I top that...
I could wish to adjust Joan Collin's wig, but I've done that too, I could desire to sit in the captains chair of the USS Enterprise, but I've done that now or to wander the streets of Venice on a sunny day.. but as you've probably guessed, I've been there and done that.
So for my new updated bucket list of things to accomplish before I die:
1.  I'd like to feed flamingos.  They are so pretty, and we've all heard about them getting their colour from the shrimp they eat, so I'd like to feed them different colour food.  If I put purple food colouring in the shrimp could I turn the flamingo's purple??
2. I want to spend the night in Dracula's castle in Transylvania.  Romania is such a beautiful country and I'm a huge fan of all things vampire.  I'd love to spend a few days wandering around Bucharest, which is still on my wish list before heading into the mountains and preparing to be scared. 
3. I'd like to be brave enough before I shuffle off this mortal coil to tell people what I really think of them.  Most of my friends are a very small circle who I love, admire and trust.  I also have a large group of acquaintances, whether that be through work, social clubs or just because they appeared on my facebook timeline.  Some of these are truly wonderful people, who I am glad to know, but like everyone there are a few, just a few, who drive me insane, annoy me with their habits or generally I just don't like. I'd love to have the strength of my convictions to just tell them that they grate on me, that I don't care what they ate for dinner, what colour their neighbours cat is or that they found the latest episode of neighbours really exciting.  I'm so caught up in being nice and squashing down my inner beast that I smile politely, while listening to their inane drivel or reading their umpteenth post about nothing that interests me.  So I'm guessing like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz my last bucket list wish would be to brave enough to do it!
Something tells me that I may die with only having done two of these..........
I've written this blog post after reading this one from Life of a Digital Girl, where Legal & General are asking for the top three things in your bucket list.  It was really difficult sticking to just the top three as I thought about it there were so many things I've not accomplished yet.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Spring Bedroom Makeover Challenge

I like many people am a great lover of sleep, it certainly tops my wish list of things to do on most days and I can never get enough of it.  I admit it, I am an addict.  I can sleep anywhere, which is a good thing as my actual bedroom is not exactly what most people would call condusive to a good nights sleep.  I often wonder if my constant desire to sleep is simply because I don't actually get a good enough night in my bed.  I'm not one of those people who need 8 hours, much as I'd like them, but running a home, a job, looking after horses, a dog, two children and a husband means that sleep is something I dream of rather than get.  I try to ensure that I wind down before bed and spend time trying to forget about work, the things that need doing tomorrow and what I haven't acomplished today, which helps me fall asleep quite quickly each night... either that or I'm so tired, I'm out like a light. 

The price of being a mum, is that the children take priority, so it's decorating their bedrooms and making sure they have nice things that takes first place in my home and my own room comes so far down the list it doesn't even get onto the page.

I'd love a beautiful calm oasis of peace and tranquility, unfortunately, in my world the closest I get to that is in my dreams or if I manage to nip off to a hotel for a weekend.  My bedroom is the dumping ground for a haven of mismatched pieces of furniture that were far to good to throw away, the washing basket lives overflowing in a corner and the dog bed is the nearest thing I've got to a lovely soft rug underneath my feet when I stand up in the morning.  My bedroom is a choatic mix of different styles, colours and clutter. 

I sometimes lie there imagining how it would look repainted and with matching furniture, with a bed that doesn't necessitate ten minutes of severe back stretching each morning to get me walking again and curtains that actually were thick enough to keep out the light, instead of just about protecting my modesty from the nosy guy across the road.

If I could have any bedroom, it would have to be based around this wonderful painting.

I'd have a lovely sea grass carpet, which is incredibly hard wearing, to match the back ground of the painting and then add china blue curtains and bedding, with crisp white sheets and white furniture and I'd have this painting hung above the bed to remind me even in the depths of winter that summer does always return.
Bedding like this is timeless and doesn't fall in or out of fashion.  I think it always looks fresh and light.

You need a large mirror to check your outfit in the morning.  Something like this would look stunning in my new room.
I always longed to have a couch at the bottom of my bed.  Somewhere to chill and relax reading my book.  Not somewhere else to pile up clothes or give the dog a new place to sleep.

A lovely large wardrobe to store all the clutter and clothes.  I would then have no excuse for clothes on the floor, other than I am a bit lazy.
And there you have it, my idea of a dream bedroom to help me drift off to the land of dreams myself.  The only thing that is missing is the most important bit, my ideal bed.    I must admit you can't beat a good mattress.  My current bed is a silentnight bed, but it's well past it's use by date now although testament to the rule that you need to spend a decent amount on a mattress if you want it to last.  It was very expensive when I bought it and gave me many years of loyal uninterrupted sleep.  So the piece de resistance in my boudoir would have to be this simply beautiful bed from Silentnight.  It comes in a Kingfisher blue finish which would set off my room beautifully and has silk and wool fillings for the ultimate in comfort. 
I'd love to have a bedroom like this, it wouldn't be just a spring makeover but a whole life changing makeover. 
I've been encouraged to think about this bedroom makeover by Silentnight for their spring bedroom makeover challenge.  It's really inspired me to think that for once I may have to consider putting myself first.  Now just to persuade the other half that we need to do this.....
‘This blog post is part of the Silentnight Spring Bedroom Makeover Challenge
Silentnight Spring Bedroom Makeover Challenge

Thursday, 11 April 2013

If Only I'd Known...

Scouring the net for a friend who is about to have her first baby I came across this lovely new app from Aptaclub, all about preparing for the birth, which gives you loads of support from that final third trimester, hints and tips, questions and advice and lots of little handy things such as a contraction timer and birth announcer.

They are also asking bloggers to impart their own words of wisdom about those little (or big) things that you just don't realise until after.  Gems of information that people who are all too willing to tell you everything seem to forget to mention.  Things such as do invest in heamorroid cream before you give birth; you will need it.  Crying uncontrollably is not just for your baby, you too will cry without any reason and nothing will console you.  Don't expect to ever be able to look at your breasts in quite the same way again.  Babies get thrush in their mouths if you breast feed whilst on antibiotics, it isn't your fault... are just a few of the smaller ones I remember thinking "why didn't anyone tell me this?"

The one thing I wish someone had told me though is that if you have a c-section you have not failed to do it properly!

I had a lovely first pregnancy, right up until waking one night with that awful need to go to the loo NOW that I still remember and encounter (I really should have done more pelvic floor excercises - thats another  one) and I fell down the stairs.  Upstairs bedroom, downstairs loo is not a good idea whilst pregnant.  Cue one trip to A&E, and one plastered broken leg for six weeks of my pregnancy. Balancing on crutches is not easy with a normal center of gravity but with a huge beached whale belly, it's nigh on impossible, so I over did it.  Jumping and hopping around, trying desperately to fulfill my nesting  urges, I simply overstressed my body too badly, sent my blood pressure through the roof and was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.

Being admitted to hospital whilst feeling fine is not easy.  I understood that I needed to be there, but I still resented it dreadfully.  I didn't feel ill, I wasn't having headaches, I wasn't swelling up or seeing flashing lights, I just had slightly raised blood pressure.  I begged the nurses, I begged the doctors, all I wanted was to go home and come back in all flustered and panicing a few weeks later in the middle of the night, having scared my husband half to death when he woke up in a swimming pool, like normal people.  I coudn't understand why they were treating this so seriously.  I wasn't really ill, after all if I hadn't broken my leg and over done it, I'd be fine, right?  I'd rest, I overcome the urge to paint the nursery and dust everywhere including the attic, which just before I'd been admitted had been on my list of things to do.  I'd be a good girl, if they would just let me go home and get on with being pregnant properly.

Once the cast came off though, my blood pressure didn't go down, the protein in my urine, which I'd brushed off as unimportant, didn't go away and without the cast, I could see that actually perhaps my ankles were slightly larger than when I'd last really looked at them.  Allowed to go out for a walk one day, I also realised that my shoes had shrunk from not being worn for a few weeks.  So hospital became my home for a 8 weeks.  I watched all the other mums come and go, while I stayed and stayed.  I had injections to promote my babies lungs, just in case, I had ultrasounds to check him out, just in case and one morning I got told, we can't wait any longer, how quickly can your husband get here, baby has to come now.  Still in a state of denial that I was ill, I then got offended that I wasn't being allowed to go to term, or be induced so I could have my "birth plan" birth.  I wanted a natural birth.  Admittedly, I was always too scared to go without pain relief, but I wanted my baby to be born the right way, with lots of grunting, swearing and pushing; not by being whipped into a sterile operating theatre and having him cut out of me.

And this is the crux of my story, I felt I'd had the best bit taken away from me.  It was like someone else unwrapping my christmas present, or telling me the ending of a particularly good film moments before I saw it myself.  They had taken my ending away from me.  I felt like I'd failed.  After all, I'd obviously not been a very good pregnant and now I was being told that I couldn't even deliver him myself, but that I needed a surgeon to do it for me.  I was angry, bitter and distraught. 

I was angry about the C-Section for years, it wasn't something I felt I would ever get over.  I remember still it clouding my enjoyment of my baby for the first few days, until I got out of the hospital and away from these people who had made me fail.  I blamed them, I blamed my husband for not installing an upstairs loo in our house, I blamed everyone including myself and in my darkest moments I blamed the baby for not liking it in my womb.

It took me five years before I felt ready to try for another baby.  This time I was determined to do it right and have my natural birth.  It took some arguing as the automatic response was, no we will just C-Section again, but I stuck to my guns and made them promise that as long as I didn't get ill again then I could have my "normal" labour.  I made it to term and baby still didn't want to arrive, and at 41 weeks my blood pressure went sky high again.  The doctors admitted me to have another C-Section and I screamed and cried and begged and pleaded, and a really nice doctor said ok, they'd try an induction but that I had to be ready for a C-Section in an emergency.  My waters were broken and lo and behold it worked, I went into labour all on my own.  Finally, I was getting to experience what every other woman did, contractions!  OMG, why was I doing this? They really hurt.  Inductions are like accelerating 0-60 in five minutes.  Within two hours I was 8 centimetres dilated and in the delivery room experiencing pain like never before.  I was quite glad of the epidural at that point. Then nothing, three hours, 8 centimetres, 4 hours, 8 centimetres, and so on until 9 hours later the midwife said I could try to push.  OMG, why was I doing? It really hurt.  14 long hours later, after a ventouse and forceps, I finally had my "natural birth".  I was a wreck, I spent hours being stitched up afterwards and weeks healing.  I couldn't walk properly, my stitches came undone and I had to be stitched again. My healing time wasn't hours, it was weeks.  I endured so much pain and although my daughter was wonderful, her birth was definately not the beautiful life affirming experience I'd felt I needed to be a proper mother.

Looking back then, to my first birth I realised in that moment and in the weeks after, that it wasn't the how a baby is born that is important, it is that they are born.  That they come out after your body has nurtured them, healthy and ready to live their lives is what is important.  That being a mother, is how you look after them for the rest of their days, not how you delivered the baby.  I'd wasted so much time, resenting my lack of control in my first delivery, yet, my second delivery, the one I'd yearned for, was far more traumatic and my recovery so much worse.  If I ever had another baby I can assure you that I'd be asking for a C-Section at my first antenatal appointment.

So,my if only I'd known is that I should have looked at having my baby by C-Section after being so dreadfully ill as succeeding, or even having a C-Section at all was succeeding, I really would have enjoyed having him so much more.  I also should add that it wasn't until my second child, that one of the midwifes told me that although I always thought I was fine in my first pregnancy, my notes said that my levels were so bad when they took me to the operating theatre that morning that they didn't think either I or the baby were going to survive.  If only I'd known....

This post is Echoes From My Web's entry into the Aptaclub ‘If Only I’d Known…’ competition”

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Cleaning - My way

My family live in a home not a show house, so I'm not a habitual cleaner.  I had a mother in law who was so fastidious about cleaning that her routine included a weekly dusting of all the light bulbs in the house, (not easy considering she was 4ft6") and daily cleaning of everything including the fridge and vaccuming the garage.  This was also the woman who called social services on me when I brought her first grandson home from hospital to my home, instead of handing him over to her to care for because I had a cat!  Obviously, that meant that I was going to let my baby son sleep in the litter tray and the cat to share his baby bottles of milk.  Suffice to say, I took a view that as long as everything is clean then I'd rather the children felt free to relax and not live in some ideal home version of a show house.

Cleaning is time-consuming, and I've got so many more things I'd rather do than clean up after everyone else, or make sure that there is no dust under the beds.  I work, my husband works and I have teenage children.  My number one rule is therefore, that everyone in the house is responsible for looking after their own space.   If they don't, then they live with it.  If their clothes don't make it to the washing basket, then they don't have clean things to wear.  I only invade (and it does happen with 17 year old) when I find myself running out of forks and plates.  They also know better than to let me tidy their space as it normally involves black bin liners and trips to the tip!

With cleaning being low down on my list of priorities, I have developed a whole raft of time saving techniques over the years and they aren't all throw it in a black bag and be done with it.

1.  Always clean up as you go.  When you are stood at the cooker making the evening meal, use that time to wipe down the surfaces where you prepared the food, throw out the veg choppings and clean the pans as you finish with them.  That way when you've finished eating and you're full and feeling lazy, all that is left is to wash a couple of plates and some cutlery and it's done. There is nothing more soul destroying than trying to relax knowing the washing up is waiting for you.  Failing that invest in a dishwasher.

2. Every time you boil the kettle for a cup of tea, pour any excess boiled water down the sink.  It's not a waste as otherwise it would have just gone cold in the kettle but it will stop your sink ever blocking up and I never have a dirty sink.  I also never get any limescale build up in my kettle because it doesn't stand with water inside it.

3.  Insist on a no shoes in the house rule.  It's amazing how much longer your carpets last and also how much less vaccuming you need to do.  It also means that I can spot which kids have put holes in their socks instantly and throw them away rather than hearing the lament after I've gone to the hassle of washing them whilst not loosing one to the sock fairy and pairing them up again.

4. Don't sweat the small stuff.  Who really cares if in the middle of winter your windows haven't been washed.   It's freezing outside, the rain and snow will only make them dirty again in a few days anyway and no one will actually notice.  It's also amazing how great you feel in the spring, when you do give them a quick spritz with some vinegar, water and newspaper how much it freshens up the room.  Who really cares if you've moved all the furniture out and cleaned behind it, who really cares if you could eat off the floor, because no matter how tidy your house, I can guarantee no one actually would ever seriously consider it.

5. Take time to enjoy your life.  If it's a choice between going and and having some fun with your children or washing the car; if you really must wash the car, then make it a game with you and the kids.  Throw soapy water at each other, chuck sponges at the car and see if they slide down, run round like loons with the hose pipe.  The car will still get cleaned, or alternatively, on your way to the beach take the car through a car wash.

6.  Invest in good quality devices to do the jobs for you.  We are so lucky to live in age where we have gadgets for this and gadgets for that.  We don't need to hand wash clothes, heat irons in the fire, get down on our hands and knees to scrub the door step or get out a broom to clean the carpets.  I'm all for timesaving efficiency.  With this in mind we get to the reason behind this post and that is that Morphy Richards have this wonderful new 9 in 1 steam cleaner

which I really really need in my life.  This is such a clever piece of kit, that I could actually find myself having clean windows all year round, and sparkling floors without smelly socks on display. I may even find myself vaccuming more than once a week because they also have a rather nifty new vaccum cleaner too.  Clean and sparkly house with time left over for living... my idea of an ideal world.