Monday, 29 March 2010

You are my sunshine

I am just a little bit excited - cos I've won an award! Now, don't get your knickers in a twist, it's not one of the MADs. No, the lovely Amy from Cooking, Cakes & Children has bestowed upon me a Sunshine Award and I'm genuinely chuffed to bits, as I only started this blog at the start of the month after a lot of umming and ahhhing about whether or not I should.

I have been writing Mum's The Blog for almost a year now (and never won a single award, I might add!), but more and more often I was finding myself itching to write about things that didn't really 'fit' a business mum blog. So I took the plunge, created myself an alter ego on Twitter and just started writing for fun. It's been brilliant as I have a completely different audience and feel I can be much more myself. I'm even doing a bit of creative writing for the first time in ages. So the fact that someone likes reading it enough to pass on a few rays of sunshine, makes me a very happy bunny indeed!

And so I am now passing this award onto 5 other bloggers who all, in their own way, bring a bit of sunshine into the lives of their readers. They all have sunny dispositions and I enjoy their blogs and their tweets in equal measure.

So, slap on some suncream ladies, cos these rays are coming your way:

Dotty @
Linda & Lyn @
Sam @
Peggy @
Jay @

Sunday, 28 March 2010

My secret tactic

It's weird but most mums I speak to find other mums difficult to get on with in the real world. Online it seems easier somehow - like-minded people seem to gravitate naturally towards each other - but day to day it often seems as though you can't find a kindred spirit locally for love nor money.

Mother & toddler groups are much bemoaned. "The other mums are cliquey and unfriendly", "I don't fit in", "I feel on the outside looking in" - I've heard people say it and I've sure as hell felt it. After banging my head against a brick wall for a couple of years I gave up on them. My kids didn't even enjoy them, so really, what was the point?

Now, though, my eldest is at school, so instead I have the school playground to contend with. And, as of today, birthday parties. And trust me, if you didn't enjoy the toddler groups, then you won't find these any better.

But I have a tactic. I didn't realise I was doing it until today, but looking back I've actually been doing it unconsciously for some time.

I latch on to the dads.

More often than not I chat to the dads on the school run rather than the mums. I've always tended to work in male evironments, and had males friends, so maybe that's why I find mums en masse difficult. However I am more interested in meeting and talking to people with whom I have things in common, other than just stretchmarks and episiotomy scars - and generally that comes down to sense of humour.

At the aforementioned party today, I recognised a few mums from the playground, but none that I chat to normally. As luck would have it I ended up sharing a table with the only lone dad in the room (who, fortunately for me was also rather pleasing on the eye, in a pierced, tattooed Eddie Izzard type way!). And we ended up having a real laugh, mainly at the expense of the DJ/entertainer!

So, my advice to you, if the mummy mafia makes you miserable - befriend a dad!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Forty Not Out

This post is part of the Writing Workshop over at Sleep is For the Weak. This week I have chosen prompt 4. Describe a ‘letting go’ that made you happy, rather than sad. What have you been ready to say goodbye to? What new future have you been ready to embrace?

I didn't cope very well with turning 30. At 29, 30 seemed a bit grown-up and middle-aged. And as I still had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life and where I was heading, 30 felt a bit old to be so clueless.

When I hit 39 I started to brace myself for another wave of panic. But it didn't come. Strangely I felt quite excited about leaving my thirties behind. I think your 30s are typically quite a difficult decade - they are a time of big decisions, marriage, babies, mortgages, career choices. It's the decade when you make your bed -and are then forced to lie in it.

My thirties were not easy. I met my partner when I was 29 and by the time I hit 30 we were already trying for a baby. But nothing happened. For months. So we went for tests (which anyone who has been for tests will know is not much fun), to be told eventually there was nothing wrong.

Then I fell pregnant. We were deliriously happy and told anyone who would listen our happy news. We'd waited so long. Then, at 8 weeks, I miscarried, alone at home. I howled, like an animal, when it was over.

I fell pregnant again - and miscarried. And again - and miscarried. My life became defined by hospital appointments, blood tests, scans and procedures. I was referred to a hospital in London and, quite unexpectedly, they found a reason for the miscarriages. A reason for which there was a treatment - daily injections of anti-coagulants for the whole pregnancy and for six weeks after. So we went away and tried to get pregnant again. And every time I wondered if I could put my body, and my emotions, through the heartache again.

I went straight to the hospital as soon as I fell pregnant for the fourth time and was shown how to inject myself in the thigh. For the first couple of weeks I cried every time I injected myself - it didn't seem fair that there was no joy in being pregnant, just scans, blood tests, needles & anxiety. But the treatment worked and 9 months later my miracle girl was born.

I knew if I wanted more children I would have to go through the same treatment again. I wanted to get it all over and done with, so by the time she was 10 months old I was pregnant, and injecting myself, again.

Having 2 babies in 19 months was hard but it was for a good reason. Having taken 6 years to become a mum, I was much older than I had planned to be. The first half of my thirties had been a medical and emotional battleground. The second half had passed me by in a fog of nappies, breastpads and germaloids. But suddenly there I was, teetering on the brink of 40, and I could see a life for me winking at me in the distance.

I'm looking forward to really enjoying the two little girls I went through so much to have. By the end of my forties they will be 14 and 12, the thought of which fills me with excitement and terror. But I am so looking forward to getting to know the girls and the young women they will become.

So, saying goodbye to my thirties was no sweet sorrow. It was a decade of laying the foundations for a fabulous forties!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Me - After & Before

This post is my contribution to this weeks Gallery. Each week Tara over at Sticky Fingers publishes a prompt, an idea or a notion and the idea is then that you go out and take a photograph using that prompt. And this week the theme is 'Me'.

I thought long and hard about this one. Me as a baby, me now, something abstract that sums me up? I was gong to take a photo of my tatoo - a very personal part of me that very few people have seen - but this proved a bit too tricky, bearing in mind whereabouts it is! So in the end I decided I'd do a 'Before & After' Me - the 2 sides of Sam, the seen and the mostly unseen.

The first photo is one of my favourites from the last 6 months. It was taken just before Christmas at Downing Street, and was the culmination of 10 days of intensive shopping, pampering and preening.

Rewind 2 hours and the second photo is of me in the hotel beforehand, fresh out of the shower, having a quick glass of dutch courage before the big event.

All I can say is, thank GOD for spray tans, contact lenses, makeup, GHD hair straighners and my M&S thigh length waist cincher!

Monday, 22 March 2010

What's Your Taboo?

I never cease to be amazed at the raw honesty and the intimate subjects people write about in their blogs.

During my 9 months in the blogosphere I have read some incredibly personal and heartfelt posts about postnatal depression, eating disorders, mental illness and even attempted suicide.

Conversely I have also read some of the funniest, laugh-out-loud posts about ladies private parts, vibrators, and spontaneous sex in the kitchen!

Yet, in contrast there are many bloggers who write under a pseudonym or who adopt false names or nicknames for their children. In some areas there is complete freedom of expression, in others there is caution and restraint.

Which got me wondering - what are my blogging taboos? It's easy to get carried away, when you feel you are amongst a community of supportive friends, to spill your guts, only to regret it later. And the more I thought about it, I realised my benchmark for the appropriateness of a subject is:

a) would I mind if my mum read it and/or

b) would I want the other mums at the school to read it?

I'm happy to use my children's names and publish their photos on my blog. I have written about giving birth and my increasing weight. I have admitted my depression and, just recently, opened up about the friend I cannot forgive. But that has only scratched the surface of who I am.

Like many people, I have a deep desire to be understood and accepted for who I am, warts and all. But would I tell you everything there is to know? I know I wouldn't - and I couldn't.

Maybe I'm a coward. I know that the more personal the writing, the greater is its power to move and to help others who may be suffering in silence. But in the same way I wouldn't bear my private parts on national TV, I'm not sure I could completely bear my soul on my blog. I'd be too worried you wouldn't like me or would judge me if I did.

Do you have a blogging taboo? Are there subjects you would never write about? Or are you happy to bear your soul to the blogging community?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

4 for the price of 1

This week I received my first Secret Post Club parcel and it contained not one, but four individually wrapped and labelled gifts. My presents came from the lovely Chloe from I am Radford and she had obviously spent a lot of care choosing my gifts.

Having just celebrated a big birthday (containing a 4 and a 0) the keyring with 'Spring Chicken' on it made me chuckle (but only after I had checked it didn't say NO on the other side!!).

And as a permanently knackered mummy I will particularly appreciate the bottle of relaxing Lavendar Bubble Bath - if I can only manage an uninterupted soak in the bath sometime!

But my favourite gift was a felt, heart book mark. I had mentioned on my list of 'Likes' that I enjoy reading, so Chloe chose me something pretty to mark my page.

And last but not least there was a little package containing 2 sets of hair clips for my 2 little girls. How thoughtful was that?!

And how could she possibly have known that the girls are both badly in need of a haircut - so those hairclips will be a godsend until we manage to get to the hairdressers!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Bye Bye Baby

On Sunday I wrote a post about when my youngest daughter was born 3 years ago on Mothers Day. Well today it's her actual birthday. My baby girl is 3.

Already in the last few months I have sold my double buggy and given away my travel cot. I have packed up the clothes she has outgrown, and this time they are going to the charity shop instead of being tucked away in a cupboard, waiting to be handed down.

But in no way does this make me sad. Quite the opposite in fact. I am loving the new found freedom that comes with having two little girls, rather than a baby and a toddler.

We no longer need all the 'equipment' that comes with babies - the highchairs, booster seats, straps, gates, cots etc. I love being able to throw on our our coats and leave the house, unemcumbered by large bags full of baby-related paraphenalia.

I love that she is confident and articulate, and can make herself understood, meaning there are less and less public displays of anger and frustration.

I love her appreciation of a good old-fashioned fry-up. That she can help herself to a drink from the fridge. That she can brush her own teeth. That she wakes up happy and smiling rather than with a piercing cry.

I love it when she chooses to climb up on my lap for a cuddle. That she wants to hold my hand.

I will always cherish the time when I first held her in my arms. But I know I will love her more and more as the years go by. And however complex, confusing and challenging she becomes, she'll always be my baby.

Colour - The More the Merrier

I can't tell you how exciting it is having my own blog now, as opposed to my business blog, because now it means I can take part in all the fun stuff, like memes, writing workshops and now The Gallery. Each week Tara over at Sticky Fingers publishes a prompt, an idea or a notion and the idea is then that you go out and take a photograph using that prompt. And this week the theme is 'Colour'.

Colour is very important to me. Over the past 12 months I have gone through something of a colour metamorphosis, from monochrome caterpillar to luminous butterly! I have turned my back on a wardrobe of dull clothes and replaced it with bright, cheerful hues - pink, turquoise, green, red, purple - the more the merrier.

Not only that, I have also discovered beads! Gone are the days when I would wear a delicate chain or subtle pendant. Now I covet beads - the bigger and brighter the better. So for my contribution to this weeks gallery here are some of my spangly baubles, that rescue even the dullest outfit from the brink of boredom, and never fail to cheer me up.

To find out more about The Gallery take a peek over at Sticky Fingers to find out what it’s all about.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Unforgiven

This is my first attempt at one of Josie's Writing Workshops over at Sleep is for the Weak. For this post I have chosen the prompt "Tell me about someone from you past who you lost touch with and who you often think about. Perhaps imagine meeting them again. What would you say? What unresolved issues would you love to bury?"

There was a time when the white rage that I felt towards you was all consuming. When you first betrayed me. Before that there was a longer time when we were best friends.

We were 9 when we met, remaining friends right through school. At 18 we packed our bags and left home for the same university. When we arrived, the campus seemed so huge I thought I’d never see you again. Little did I know we would spend every day together, sharing the same house for two years.


We shared excitement, fun, gossip, unrequited love, broken hearts, the death of friends. We shared the success of our degrees and our coming of age. And all that time you were the golden star I longed to be.

And so we returned home. Jobs, relationships, illness, life got in the way. You married, then divorced. I had broken relationships, lost babies. But the nights out and the dancing held us together like glue.

Until the night you met him.

Of all the men in all the world, why him? You could have had anyone, but instead you decided to gatecrash my life, hijack my family, and cross a line that no friend should.

And now, when we meet at weddings and funerals, we act like strangers, masking our discomfort with politeness and pleasantries.

The white rage has gone.

All that’s left is a hole.

Monday, 15 March 2010

They Know Me So Well

I was a very lucky girl yesterday, and was given a lovely new cookery book for Mothers Day. To be specific, it was another Cupcake cookery book - but this one takes cupcake baking and decorating to a whole new level!

Let's get something abundantly clear - I love cookery books. I would say I get almost as much pleasure from poring over recipes as I do from eating the end result. And now not a Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary or Mothers Day goes by without me aquiring another book to add to my collection. My kitchen shelves are groaning under the weight, as are we, as we steadily pile on the pounds because of all the cakes I'm baking!

My latest project is working my way through the cookery section of my local library. On Saturday I borrowed Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food and The Hummingbird Bakery Book. So all in all, there's going to be some serious baking going on around here!

What I need now though, is to slow up on the books, and gear up on my baking equipment. Maybe a nice professional icing set for my Anniversary next month? Now would that be too much to ask for?

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The Best Mothers Day Present Ever

3 years ago on Mothers Day I gave birth to my youngest daughter Molly. She was 12 days overdue so I had an appointment at the hospital to have my membranes swept. First thing that morning my other half gave me two cards - one from my 19 month old daughter and another from my 'bump'. The card said "Dear Mummy, looking forward to meeting you soon".

Having had a 36 hour labour with my first baby I was expecting a long arduous labour again. So, after being swept at 11am and monitored for an hour, I was duly sent home to sit it out and wait. By 1pm - and half way through a fry up - I had to keep stopping eating to pace up and down the room as my contractions had started in earnest.

I'll have a bath I thought. But as soon as I'd run the water I was starting to panic about how quickly the pains were increasing. We called my mum to come and babysit and rang the hospital. Just stay at home as long as you can, they replied. By 3pm I was desperate to get to hospital and feeling scared by the speed at which things were progressing.

I hobbled from the car park to the delivery suite and was ushered into a room by a lovely young midwife called Louise. A quick hop onto the bed and I was told I was 8cm dilated and the baby would be here very soon. I couldn't quite comprehend what was happening. Last time I gave birth I was in the delivery suite for 27 hours, had an epidural, a failed ventouse then a forceps delivery, followed by botched stitches. I couldn't possibly be having this baby right here, right now.

Time for a quick shot of pethidine, a swig of lucozade and it was all systems go. Having had an epidural before I had never felt the sensation to push before, and it took me completely by surprise. In disbelief I pushed my baby girl into the world just before 5pm, still incredulous that I had managed to do it naturally and so quickly.

Having not known whether we were expecting a boy or a girl we decided on the name Molly while the midwife was stitching me up. It's funny the conversations you have under the most undignified of situations, but I felt a real affinity with the midwife, and was so grateful for the way she had been encouraging, supportive but very 'hands off'. So much so that we decided Molly's second name would be Louise, after the wonderful lady that helped her into the world.

We were home again by 10pm - it took longer to wait for all our paperwork to be signed than it did for me to give birth - and the look on my mum's face as we walked back through the door on the same day was an absolute picture. And the best thing of all was we were all home and in our own beds when our elder daughter woke the next morning, so the sisters could be introduced to each other properly.

And so Mothers Day will always hold any extra special place in my heart. It was just the perfect day to meet my little girl. And so thoughtful of her to send a card ahead of her saying hello!

How Happy Do You Weigh?

I heard someone say recently that "it's not what you weigh, it's how the weight makes you feel". Having just turned forty I am currently the heaviest I have ever been. Strangely though I probably feel more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.

When I think back to my teens I was just a skinny beanpole with no confidence and few social skills. I had no idea how to dress to suit my lanky frame and I felt tall and self-conscious next to my more compact friends.

In my twenties I got ill and my weight plummeted. In any photos taken of me then, when I was at my thinnest, I look frail and haunted. I spent a decade not liking myself very much and not valuing myself very highly. Then, as I approached 30, I met 'the man', my life was on a more even keel and the weight started to creep on.

And now I am 40. I have 2 beautiful girls, and the stretchmarks and war wounds to prove it. Two years of breastfeeding have taken there toll on my boobs, my tummy wobbles, my lap is built for comfort and my frame is built for squishy cuddles. And yet I like myself more than I have ever done.

They say that youth is wasted on the young, and looking back I can see what a fabulous figure I had, but that alone could never made me happy. One of the greatest consolations of getting older (and heavier) has been the freedom to be myself, just how I want to be. With no pressure to follow fashion or my peers.

Maybe I was always meant to be a bit chunky? And maybe all the happiness in my life weighs more than the sadness, anxiety and self-consciousness that came before.

How happy do you weigh? How has your weight fluctuated between the good and the bad times?

In the beginning there was cake

So, this is the first post on my shiny new blog. I have a blank blog and a blank screen. Nothing has gone before. No style, no themes, no expectations or preconceived ideas. I can be anyone I like.

I hope I'll be myself, only slightly funnier and a little more glamorous. I plan to write about my past, my present and my future, my children - oh, and cake. Lots of cake. And chocolate. Oh, and wine. I might even post some of my poems. And along the way I'll try and make sense of this crazy world we live in and the magic and mayhem of being a mum.