30 days later – Nablopomo, the verdict.

Dear Reader

I agreed to nablopomo (a blog post a day in November) on a complete whim.

Here’s what I learnt from some of my better posts:

  • Quality Time – It’s about writing about your own life, but making it relevant to others.
  • Vintage Fisher Price Camper – I think my photography has improved this month.
  • Little Legacy – I keep thinking I am nearing the end of this project, then new people join me on the journey, cheering me on my voyage through bereavement and offering beautifully written tales of inspiring people.
  • Making people ‘feel’ can be more about senses than emotions. Psychosomatic nits anyone?
  • I realised I love documenting the ‘little bits’ of our lives, nablopomo made me put them up when I might not have got round to it normally.  My 5yo daughter was caught singing I wanna be a Billionaire, my son rocked Pyjama chic.

Here’s the good bits:

  • Having to post everyday helped me feel more relaxed about my posts, sometimes not having the time to agonise over them is a good thing.
  • I believe ‘just writing’ is the best way to get the creative juices going, drive in the dark and see where it takes you.  Much of the time I don’t pursue lots of ideas because I’m not posting daily.  I got to try out more ideas.
  • I got more of a feel of what my blog is about, and what kind of posts work for me and my readers, although I think you are a very varied bunch.
  • I reconnected with some good friends I started this blogging journey with.  I also spent more time visiting some blogs I had lost track of and met lots of new ones.
  • I became much more aware of the kind of content I want to read, I think this will shape the content I produce.  See I’m using the word content?  Perhaps it was timely for me, but I was ready to move out a little bit from the personal, to debate some bigger issues.
  • I received some offers of cash, some lovely review products and other brand related opportunities.  Whether this was coincidence or down to posting more making me more visible I don’t know, but it was nice to know my hard work was being rewarded.
  • I fulfilled my dream to say ‘Here’s one I made earlier’ Blue Peter style in this vlog.  A friend lent me Adobe Premier, I loved getting my hands on some decent editing software again.

The bad bits:

  • I didn’t have as much time to read other blogs, or reply to comments.  December will therefore be share the comment love month, as well as be a bit more sociable on Twitter month.
  • I think I probably annoyed some of my email subscribers, but saying that some were amazingly supportive.
  • I may be a little more paranoid than usual about my blogging.
  • Week 4 felt a bit lonely, perhaps everyone felt a bit saturated by my efforts by then.
  • Some posts could have benefited from a bit more time to marinade.  On the flipside I think I might be better now at weeding out seeds of ideas that were never going to bear fruit in the long run.

Overall, I think it’s been a positive experience, sometimes you don’t see the full benefits of something until you have had time to step back, I think I will definitely spot more as I carry on the blogging journey.

I am also just proud of myself for sticking to my goal.  And I am so very grateful for all the comments and your patience with blog post bombardment and my written experiments.

Thank you


GCSE General Certificate in Small Person Education

Candidates should attempt to answer all questions.

Whilst answering you must be multitasking, e.g. taking a phone call, driving in rush hour.

Answer immediately, in full sentences, without reference materials, in language appropriate to a small person.  Reveal your working where appropriate.

1.  Will Father Christmas die?  If yes, how will I get my presents.  If no, why?
2.  Are aliens real?
3.  Why don’t we fall off the world?
4.  Why don’t we feel the world turning?
5.  What’s out there, outside the world?
6.  How was the world made?
7.  Why has that woman only got one leg?
8.  How do traffic lights work?
9.  What’s heaven?
10. Why do farmer’s kill sheep?
11. Why do grown ups stay up?
12. Why can’t I have some wine?
13. How does the tooth fairy know to come to my house?
14. Why is the sky red sometimes?
15. How far is it to the moon?
16. Why do we celebrate Christmas?
17. What is a church for?
18.  Who’s Jesus
19.  What’s god?
20.  Mummy what’s a can of worms?

Pick a question and give it your best shot, you’ll be doing me, and lots of other parents a big favour.

Life’s smelling of roses

It was a wet afternoon driving the kids between school and swimming, my daughter suddenly started singing Billionarie by Travie McCoy.  The lyrics sound hilarious in a 5yo’s mouth, take it from me.  She said she was learning it at school, I presume in the playground and not in the classroom.  I don’t know what she was singing for the first line, but fortunately it sounded nothing like the original:

I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad
buy all of the things I never had
uh, I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine
smiling next to Oprah and the Queen

Anyway, the conversation quickly turned to what we would do if we really were billionaires.  I think it’s always good to have this conversation, just in case. We have the anti consumerism talk right after this indulgence, of course.

So, after I giving away a huge lump to charity,  I would buy a house in the country, I would have fresh flowers delivered daily.  Roses probably, hopelessly romantic flowers.   I would have Gok Wan organise my capsule wardrobe.  I would have a chef cook us really nutritious family meals, a housekeeper to take control of the chaos, and a personal trainer to motivate me to exercise when it’s cold and misty.  

I would write my blog and my children’s book and spend quality time with my kids. For me money is about buying me more time, not stuff.  

My daughter said she would buy a train.  I tried to prod her some more, convinced she wasn’t really giving it enough thought – she was playing with a toy one in the back of the car at the time – but she was adamant.  It would be life size, it would take her wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted.  See for a 5 yo who has more time to do what she wants, perhaps it is about being in control of your world, going where you want to go, about not being ferried about by your mum on a wet afternoon?

What would you do if you were a billionaire?  Or better still what would you not do any more?

Mr G is 3

I love that one day you’re a pirate and the next you’re a rock star.
I love that you really believe the other pirates may come and steal the treasure you buried in the sandpit.
I love that some days you wake up and believe you are a puppy.
I love that you think you are a knight and I am your horse.
I love your 7am daring sea rescues, saving your sister from the sharks on the stairs.
I love hiding under a blanket with you, from monsters, on a wet weekday afternoon.
I love that if I say ‘You’re gorgeous’ you say ‘No Mummy, I G!’
I love that you’re spirited, rebellious, determined.
I love that you say bumpits for crumpets.

Happy 3rd Birthday Mr G!

To do lists

I write lots of lists, but one of them sent me over the edge last night. Can you guess which one?

I have a house list which goes something like this:
fix washing machine
do washing
tidy up
food shop
repeat lots
Find rattle bought for cousin’s new baby and post (bribe 2yo to tell me where he hid it)
Post overdue thank yous for 5yo’s birthday presents before they send birthday cards to the 2yo.

2yo’s birthday party list
cake making, party bag filling and pirate game inventing etc.

Blogging list
Actually I stuck to this list last night and I didn’t get sucked into random acts of internet time wastage.  I found loads of lovely blogs to comment on, in the Britmums nablopomo group.

The school list
Fill cup with sweets for Christmas Fayre
Take in a bottle and put child in own clothes on Friday in aid of Christmas Fayre
Take in soft toys and games for Christmas Fayre
Furnish the tombola for the Christmas Fayre
Make child do colouring competition for the Christmas Fayre
Sell raffle tickets for Christmas Fayre (Dad?)
Perhaps if you could spare an hour or two volunteer to help at Christmas Fayre.
Attend said Christmas Fayre
Enthuse tired and grumpy reception age daughter about reading (top priority)

I can actually cope with a washing machine repair, having to bribe the 2 yo and plan his party, but the list that sent me over the edge yesterday was the school one.  A book bag full of requests.  Much as I love the sense of community the PTA provide, I can’t sustain the pace.  Although, after working through the entire pile of requests, I found the paper that said I didn’t have to do all of the above.

Christmas list will be following shortly.  I have been a very good girl.

Any tips for a parent new to the joys of school age children?  Any list management tips?

NaBloPoMo 2011
There is a sponsored link within this post.

Would you have cosmetic surgery?

Would you have cosmetic surgery? I’ve been thinking about my attitude to cosmetic surgery.  If someone asked me if I would consider it, I have always said a categoric no, I’m too squeamish and my feeling has always been that interfering with nature is wrong.

But since then I’ve had two c sections and some dental work.  All highly necessary medical procedures with nothing to do with vanity.  But the labours and their resulting emergency c sections made me realise my squeam threshold is higher than I thought.  Then the pain free dental work I had, to fix a tooth that cracked and died, made me realise that modern dentistry is truly amazing.

It was the dentistry that really got me thinking.  A year ago I went to see an orthodontist to see about having invisible braces.  As an 11 year old I made a flippant decision not to have braces which I have regretted at various points in my life.  It’s mainly my left incisor that’s wonky.  Everyone tells me it’s part of my character.  Some days I feel that, others I absolutely hate it.  Especially when it’s captured on photos at a bad angle.

The orthodontist’s verdict was that I would have to have full on proper braces, for two years.  I’m still debating it, but the cost and the hassle is putting me off.

Back to the dentists.  The dentist warned me he might have to replace my cracked tooth if the crack was extensive.  The irony is, it was the perfectly straight equivalent of my wonky tooth that cracked, my second left incisor, as opposed to second right.  Had it been my wonky tooth that died, would I have told him to just whip it out and stick a straight one in?  Would I have felt I had lost a part of me?  I’m not sure.  In this instance he saved the tooth, but it left me thinking.  I’m sure people in the media glare do this all the time for vanity.

Media representations are half the problem here, we are drowning in airbrushed and cosmetically enhanced versions of beauty.  Growing older makes me wonder – it’s 7 years since those wedding pictures were taken – will I be tempted to have procedures for vanity’s sake?  Currently the answer is no, but I said no to braces at 11.  How will I feel in another 7 years, 14 years, 21 years?  I hope I will just feel more comfortable in my own skin.

Vanity seems a misleading term though, I know many people who have had cosmetic procedures would argue vanity is the wrong word.  Sometimes fixing something is about more than just your mirror image.  Some people opt to have surgery due to an illness such as breast cancer. In this sort of situation, cosmetic surgery may be helpful at restoring confidence and normality to their lives.

So that’s where my head’s at.  Wondering over a wonky tooth.  Would you have cosmetic surgery? Or have you been tempted to fix what nature gave you, or what it takes away?

Photo credits – Martin O’Neal

NaBloPoMo 2011

Zug the Bug Little Legacy 20

The start of this week was plagued by strange vortexes, I think triggered by having a virus, the cold weather and my big black duffel coat coming out of hibernation.  I was continually taken back to the bitterly cold walk to and from the hospital to see my Mum back in January, with my brother and Dad.

Another vortex opened, taking me back to talking on my mobile phone outside the hospice, and watching my breath form clouds of steam.  Somehow when I put on mascara, I am often whisked into another vortex which finds me sitting on a particular bench outside the hospital, probably then I was trying not to smudge it.

I took Mr G to the park, thinking it would do us good to be outside, no matter how cold. We spent a happy ten minutes burying ‘treasure’ in the sandpit. Then a little girl and her Gran sat down next to us. I’m still not great at these situations, these little reminders of what’s missing still catch me off guard. Fortunately Mr G dragged me off to find more treasure.

Later that evening I found a little legacy on my daughter’s newly tidied bookshelf.  The perfect antidote to the day’s vortexes:

My Mum found it in Oxfam a couple of years ago.  It’s been one of my daughter L’s favourite books.  Now she’s in reception class and learning to read.  Her teacher has asked us to focus on sounding the first letter of each word.  Many days L is just too tired and doesn’t want to.  But finding Zug the Bug again enthused her.  This set of books make that fun, each page the first letter of the word changes, zug, bug, lug, slug, mug. 

Loss leaves gaping holes, but then little legacies come and fill them. mum would be a much more patient at teaching L to read and G to find treasure, but she did an amazing job of preparing me to do it. She left little hints and tips absolutely everywhere.  I’m reminded again of the words of Kahlil Gibran:

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

I wish I had paid more attention the very last time mum came to visit, she made a huge fuss out of reading both children stories, I would love to know which books she read them that night.  We kept poking our head upstairs wondering if she had finished, but no. She got cross with me and my husband for rushing through stories without talking about them, as parents sometimes do after a long day.  

Now when I read stories at the end of the day I often feel emotional, a powerful feeling that it’s just me, my child and a book at the end of a day filled with distractions.  But it’s a magical time and one I cherish.

With both children sleeping soundly that night, I crept upstairs to my desk in the attic.  My subconscious must have been playing games that day because it took me to Why Mummy Why’s post in which she explains the joy and pain of a long forgotten book so beautifully and humorously.

Little legacy is a remembrance project , a positive and creative space, to celebrate small things handed down by predecessors.  Feel free to link up a little legacy you’ve been thinking about this week, or to leave one in the comments.  Here’s the code and here’s more on Little Legacy


Creative Toddler Taming for the Honest Mum

Honest Mum is having a blog carnival to celebrate both her own birthday, and her blog’s birthday.  If you haven’t met this amazing lady who makes films for a living and who’s family run the yummiest Greek restaurant, then head on over to Honest Mum.

Knowing Vicki is a creative sort, with a gorgeous toddler, I wrote A Creative’s Guide to Toddler Taming.  I have consolidated my best, most imaginative, tried and tested tantrum taming tips into 8 steps.  And there’s not a naughty step in sight.

NaBloPoMo 2011

Who said romance was dead?

My next Kodak Big App wall art project…
Forget the kids, who said romance is dead?
This one’s for my husband.

Don’t forget the Twitter party Wednesday 23rd Nov 1-2pm, get some great printer Christmas gift ideas and, if you tweet #printerprojects, with a tip, craft, idea or example of a Kodak Big App picture, you’ll be entered to win:

  • a 7.1 Hero All-in-One printer with 4 packs of A4 photo paper and 5 cartridges each of black and colour in
  • 1 x M5370 Digital Camera
Terms and conditions apply, see here for more information. This is a sponsored post in association with Britmums and Kodak.
NaBloPoMo 2011

Searching for Blue Skies

I’ve had the feeling for a while now.  Something’s wrong.  I’m looking for something and I don’t know what.  There’s a cog missing. The finely tuned engine that is the Alexander Residence (the real one, not the virtual one) needs a service.

I realised what I am missing is our caravan.  We have been far too busy, new schools, new jobs, we’ve let Autumn slip by without a weekend away, and half term too.  Much as I love getting away to the seaside in the Summer, I also love escaping up in the colder months, with the heaters on the caravan is so cosy.  There is nothing that beats the sound of rain on the roof when you’re snuggled up in bed.

I worked out we have spent the equivalent of 2 out of the last 14 months in our touring caravan.  It has made such a difference to our family life.  It brings us all back together when we are out of synch.  It gives me and Mr A a chance to catch up over a bottle of wine, without the lure of the laptop or television.

It gives us chance to explore the country, see nature from our window and spend time together as a family.

So far Winter has been kind, so I’m wondering if we can squeeze in a weekend away before the madness of December.

What do you do to keep your family in synch?

Sponsored post for Caravan Club insurance, a product we currently use.

Iconic pieces of modern art get hat tagged

It’s getting chilly, our house is old and draughty, especially for our resident naturists.  I had no idea we had so many naked bodies lounging in the house until Innocent drinks challenged me to play hat tag.

Klimt’s kiss gets cosier
Klimt’s not so chilly nude
Matisse’s Blue Nude is not so blue anymore

Get a hat from an innocent smoothie, take a snap, upload it to Innocent’s facebook gallery and 10p gets donated to Age UK. Oh and there are prizes to be won. Plus every vote gets 5p donated to Age UK.

Innocent sent me some hats and a cool box of smoothies, although by the time I picked them up from the post office they weren’t so smooth sadly, damn.

Box worlds

I’ve been thinking about boxes again lots this week.

I wrote a guest post about turning boxes into new worlds for Claire at Life, Ninja Killer Cat and everything else.  It’s a great way of making new toys for next to nothing and promoting literacy.  They can be robots, or cars…

We made the Dinoland above complete with dinosaur eggs.   My son took it to nursery for Show and Tell. I’m upping the Show and Tell stakes currently because it seems to be the only way to get him to skip into nursery, rather than clinging to my leg or trying to hide up my skirt.  Now nursery are going to make some too.

And B.D. (Before Dinoland)  the box was a robot, before that it had nappies in, and I blogged about how it saved a life for Unicef.

I am writing a story for a Save the Children book of bedtime stories.  It’s a project started by Natalyia of Green Kiddie.  Boxes have crept in to that one too.  There’s a fab line up of bloggers and their children contributing art and stories, and it will be around to buy for Christmas.  The twitter hashtag is #stcbook.  I hope you will consider buying one or two.

Any great ideas for boxes? Have a lovely weekend.

It’s day 19 of Nablopomo, a post a day for November.