The Smell of freebiedom

Most of us love a good freebie, whether it be samples or free prize draws with the chance of winning something nice.  I’m always on the look out and enter everything that isn’t too time consuming.  I’ve had a few minor wins, books, dvds, toys, baby equipment and some kitchen stuff.  My biggest win has been a £200 gift card, that I’m going to use towards my Christmas shopping.

It can be disheartening sometimes, I enter what seems like thousands of competitions and get nothing, but every so often I get a little burst of prizes and that keeps me going.  The free samples are another story though, some of them really are pretty pointless, you take the time and effort to fill out the questionnaire and the freebie they offer you is normally something in doll’s house size.  However, I still fill them out and sometimes it too is worthwhile.  I’ve had free samples of tea which turned out to be a whole box, full size bars of chocolate (always a good thing) I got 2 full size tubes of Johnson’s Nappy cream and full size shampoo – not too shabby for just filling out a form.

The latest sample offer I saw was for perfume, normally I don’t both with these as you tend to get one of those tiny matchstick bottles with about 3 droplets of scent in them, however, this offer was very glammed up and led me to believe that the sample was for a full 25ml small bottle.  The site described different smells and you clicked the ones you liked, eventually it deduced from my answers which of the perfumes would be “my smell”.

So I thought why not?  I filled out my details and pressed send, then promptly forgot about it.  Today when the postman came, I was confronted by what is possibly the funniest and most pointless free sample I’ve ever had in my life.  Sent airmail all the way from Hong Kong, I received a postcard with a tear off strip, inside which was a tiny piece of scented wet wipe fabric!

Seriously they sent this all the way from Hong Kong, if I’d known the sample was coming that distance, I wouldn’t have bothered sending for it and I certainly would never have sent for a smelly postcard.  There’s my carbon footprint trashed for a piece of wet wipe!

There are no words!

Beauty Enigma

What on earth is BB cream and why is there a sudden explosion of advertising and “celebs” endorsing it all over my television.  Even after googling it, I’m really none the wiser.  Actresses etc claiming that they have known the secret for years and have been using it for years – of course you have.  They parade around screen looking flawless, totally made up by a professional make up artist and enhanced to the enth degree by clever lighting and camera trickery.  Right at the bottom of the screen in miniscule print there will be some lame disclaimer about how the actress is wearing a combination of products – No, really, honestly, I thought she naturally looked like that.  I thought she woke in the morning, stepped out of bed without a hair out-of-place and looked amazing, I never realised it took an entire team of people and a bucket of industrial strength polyfilla to make her look like that.

These companies really get on my nerves, pedalling their wares by making us “ordinary” women feel inadequate, or feel as though we can’t just be natural.  Is it any wonder that young girls feel pressurised into wearing make up, fake tan and hair extensions before they even reach their late teens.

We now have a world of BB creams, Body Butters, Lash extending mascaras, lip plumping stain (stain, is that not something you spray paint your fence with).  A million and one magazine articles about your beauty regime.  Regime – I’m lucky to get 2 minutes to slap on some moisturiser, never mind have the time to exfoliate, cleanse, tone, moisturise,BB Cream, anti fatigue spray, Eye serum, colour correct, then clabber ( good Irish term, meaning to plaster, slather, spread) with foundation, loose powder, bronzer, eyeliner, mascara – the white stuff first, then the colour, brush eye lashes, curl eye lashes, lip liner, then plump and stain, wax, shave or epilate, exfoliate again, fake tan, cheese grate the feet, add heel repair cream, paint toe nails, paint finger nails, unwrap hair from heat conditioning treatment, add some serum – or “product” as hairdressers call everything in a bottle or spray can nowadays, dry hair, add anti frizz stuff, straighten my already straight hair, add more product, then step elegantly into a fine mist of perfume and we’re done!  Phew, if I had the time in a day to even do a third of that stuff, I’d have either chained my children up to a radiator (off of course) or hired them out to sweep chimneys.

I know I’m 40, but I don’t think I look that bad for my age.  So what is wrong with just washing my face and hair, adding some moisturiser and drying my hair with a normal hairdryer. Why is it that everywhere I turn something tells me I should have a Regime.  History would dictate that Regimes are generally not very nice things to be a part of and they normally end up eventually being crushed by outside forces.  So which force is going to crush the BB Regime, the next miracle lotion or potion no doubt!

Let the Games Begin

I just had to do a post about The London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, because in all honesty, I was seriously impressed.  I also have to eat humble pie, because I didn’t believe for a second that they could put on the spectacular show that they did.  I was convinced we would produce some tacky, awful cockney wideboy type show (no offence to the cockneys), but I had visions of some “Del Boy” naff performance.

Over the course of my Olympic watching years Beijing was the opening ceremony that I enjoyed the most, to me it was by far the most entertaining, the most artistic and the most memorable.  Well London has, in my opinion equalled that.  They were both very different types of ceremonies and were both artistically and musically very different, but I love them both for their differences.

Danny Boyle really did us Brits proud, his trip through our history was beautiful, moving and funny.  From Nimrod to Firestarter the music was fantastic, it took me on a journey through my entire life.  All those eras of big hair and RaRa skirts, leg warmers and shell suits, he transported me through my whole life and I loved it.

I thought the Queen and Daniel Craig was a phenomenal touch and secretly believe it really was her on that parachute!  I want to meet that swooning, fainting Corgi and shake its paw.  Mr Bean, not normally a character that appeals to me, was brilliant and made me chuckle.

The Children and staff from Great Ormond Street Hospital were just sensational and I was thrilled to see them as part of the show.  Even though a few ignorant commentators criticised the fact the children didn’t look very sick – WHAT!  Clearly they know nothing about GOSH or the unfortunate, very poorly children that they try desperately to save.  What did they want to see, children linked up to IV’s and ventilators!

I loved J K Rowling reading from Peter Pan, I loved Mary Poppins flying in.  I guess, I loved it all.  Well…….maybe I could have skipped Macca and Hey Jude, it was slightly predictable.  We seem to wheel him and that song out for everything.  Don’t get me wrong Paul McCartney is a musical genius and a legend and I love the song Hey Jude, it’s just been kind of “done to death”  That song ends up at almost every event we have now.  Maybe that’s why Danny Boyle did it though, maybe he thought that the predictable ending has now become the British tradition.

I was also a bit sad to read some journalist comments about it being a socialist lefty show because it highlighted and featured the NHS so heavily.  I personally think it was brilliant and well deserved and I am not a lefty!  All too often we spend our time criticising the NHS, heck even people from other countries who have never set foot inside an NHS hospital or been treated on the NHS have criticised it.

Personally I am very grateful to live in a country where healthcare is free for everyone.  I feel privileged to know that if myself or any of my family get sick then we can and will be treated without having to find thousands of pounds or have expensive insurance.  I am thrilled that we have a free immunisation programme for our children.  My experiences of the NHS have all been positive and good.  In fact, I believe my consultant saved both my life and the life of our eldest daughter, his quick action and positive decision making is why I am still here today and why I am finally a mother.  I know they are not perfect and that they make mistakes, sometimes huge very costly ones.  However, even people who have paid thousands in private hospitals have fallen foul to mistakes.  To err is human after all and those errors can and do happen regardless as to whether or not you paid for your treatment.  So give the NHS a break, believe it or not, we are very fortunate to have it.  So for me personally, I got a bit of a buzz out of seeing the tribute to them.

I cried bucket loads at Mohammad Ali, he is just so frail now and it was both wonderful and heartbreaking to see him.  I was also deeply moved by the memorial wall and thought it was a magnificent idea.

I loved how children almost dominated the show, they played such an integral part in the whole thing, from the choirs around the country – I of course was thrilled to see The Giants Causeway in my wee beloved country, to the dancers and drummers.  The real touch of brilliance though was in getting the young athletes of the future to light the cauldron, that for me was pure genius and completely spectacular.

There are loads more things I could mention, loads more things I totally loved, but I’m sure if you watched it you know them all anyway and will have your own favourites.  I am really looking forward to the games and I’m hoping that Team GB can pick up a good few medals.  However, the thing I love the most about the Olympics is that even if our competitor isn’t winning and the leader is heading towards an Olympic or World record, we get excited for them and spur them on regardless of what nation they are representing.  For me The Olympics really are an occasion where the world comes together, yes we want our own country to win, but we can still celebrate and congratulate the country who does.

Happy medal counting everyone

Inappropriate Bear Behaviour

Another glorious summer day, so we decided to go to the zoo.  It was my first attempt to go there without another “responsible” adult.  Daddy was working, but I decided to bite the bullet and try going it alone.

I packed us a picnic, took loads of nappies, sun cream and changes of clothes and off we went.  My only faux pas, was not taking extra batteries for my camera and of course it ran out of steam before we were finished!

Being such a good day the zoo was pretty crowded, but we just took our time and managed to avoid most of the big crowds.

We had loads of fun in the children’s petting zoo.  The Lemurs roam free and tend to come right onto your shoulders if you get close enough.  The girls were delighted by them and our baby squealed with delight when they jumped and swung on their ropes.

Our zoo is a conservation zoo, which means they run a breed and release programme.  They breed ferocious animals and then release them into the local community as a means of crime prevention.  I am joking of course, but maybe……  They actually run a really successful programme and most of the species there are in danger of extinction.  They have had lots of success in releasing animals back into the wild.

The zoo is pretty much entirely uphill and it gets quite steep in places, so I had brought the double pushchair, just in case our toddler couldn’t make it the whole way.  Amazingly though she did and was much more capable of the climb up the hills than I was.  At times I thought I might need an extra lung!

We made it right to the top though and right to the last exhibit.  The very cute Sun Bear.  There are 4 of them in a really big enclosure.  As we approached the viewing gallery, there were quite a few people around and the adults were laughing and moving their children away.  I looked in to see what was happening and there right up beside the viewing screen was a male sun bear.  Sitting on his bum with his legs spread, just watching the crowd.  On closer inspection, I saw what everybody was laughing at.  As unconcerned as you like, he was sitting there masturbating!  I kid you not.  Now I have never seen a bear masturbate, but that is definitely what he was doing and he was loving the fact that he had an audience!  He then decided that he wasn’t close enough to his viewers, so he got up and moved even closer, sat down and started again.  People were laughing with sheer disbelief and amusement at this “performing” bear.  Thankfully the screen was too high for my toddler to see over.  Because, I was too hot and exhausted to even think of an answer for her, when she would have asked the inevitable question about what he was doing!

I managed to divert her away to the cafe and I chuckled into my coffee.  We then headed for the sea-lion enclosure – a much safer option.

So I have now added masturbating bear to my list of bizarre things that I have encountered!

I had a line from Simon and Garfunkel in my head for the rest of the day.  “Something tells me it’s all happening at the zoo.”  Today it certainly was.

The very well behaved sea lions

Raspberry Monsters

As parents we love our children unconditionally and the love is always there.  Most of the time I don’t even have to think about it, I just know it exists, if you know what I mean.  But there are days when I could just burst with love.  Days when the extent of my love for my girls washes over me like a tidal wave.  I feel almost overwhelmed by it.  Today was one of those days.

From the moment our baby squeaked in her cot and then stood up and babbled at me, that was it, I was a softee pushover, I just bubbled with deep profound love.  Our toddler got up shouting mummy come and get me, I’m all waked up and my day was just complete.

I know that sounds incredibly mushy and possibly a bit vomit inducing, but it’s the truth, don’t you ever get days like that?  Days when you really do just boil over with love, the frustrations, the housework, the laundry, even the naughtiness and destructiveness, the fighting and tantrums don’t bother you at all.  All of it just pales into insignificance, because love steps in and makes you close your eyes to all the minor irritations.

We spent the entire day with a messy house, full of silliness and laughter and it was brilliant.  I managed to do a load of laundry and cook dinner, but outside of that we just played all day.  The weather was gorgeous, so we rolled around the garden, picked flowers and built sand castles.  We had lunch on a picnic blanket and we all ended up covered in juice and food as baby sister crawled through it all-devouring or squashing everything in sight, but it was pure, innocent fun and we all loved it.  Today, for me, was what being a mummy is truly about.  It’s about carefree happy love, it’s about being able to forget the stresses of life, forgetting about having a tidy house – just in case someone calls.  It’s all about being able to enjoy every single moment of that day with my children.  An entire day spent indulging my daughters with my complete time and attention, has been an awesome day.

After lunch we took baskets into our little orchard to see if we had any ripe Raspberries or Blackcurrants.  It’s been an atrocious summer so far and I wasn’t expecting much of a crop this year.  However, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of ripe bursting fruit.  We set to work picking the red ones, well in fairness the baby just watched from a blanket and was frankly more interested in what the chickens were doing.

We were busy working away picking and I could hear our toddler talking to herself saying twist and pull as she picked the berries.  A few weeks ago she had watched Special Agent Oso and he was helping a little girl pick strawberries and they were saying twist and pull to get the fruit off.  I chuckled listening to our daughter repeat this phrase over and over as she picked.  I was also a bit impressed that at 27 months old, she had remembered this and was applying the twist and pull theory to her fruit picking.

She ended up with quite a full basket of berries, which she and her little sister then decided to devour.  They were on those berries like a swat team and I just let them.  They were wolfing them down.  I dread to think what the nappies will be like later, but I reckoned fresh homegrown, totally organic raspberries are a much better binge option than chocolate buttons or jelly tots!

So that is how daddy found us when he got home from work, covered in squashed raspberries with red stained hands and clothes.  So he joined us and together the 4 of us had dinner outside and got even messier, then to end the day perfectly as I got them ready for the bath our wee baby girl took her first completely solo steps.  She let go of the chair and took 3 steps towards me.  So I guess that makes me a mother of 2 toddlers now!

Lets eat them all quickly!

When one hand just isn’t enough

And Relax………..

It happened, our baby girl is now officially christened.  Everything turned out perfectly.  The weather stayed dry and quite warm, warm enough that we stayed outside almost all day.  Her actual baptism was very intimate and perfectly lovely.  The marquee was a huge success and the food was brilliant.

When I went to collect it, I was seriously impressed by the freshness and quality of what Sainsburys had produced.  Almost every thing was eaten, so there was very little wastage.  It was all so simple in disposable serving platters, so there was no real washing up to do.  That meant we could all just relax and enjoy the day, instead of worrying about clearing things away and trying to wash dishes.

I’m still completely shattered though, all the running about over the past 3 days trying to pull this all together at the last-minute has worn me out.  That and the combination of my medication not working as well as it used to have left me longing for a big comfy feather pillow and about 12 hours of nothingness!

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves though and our daughters had an absolute ball.  They were so well-behaved and had so much fun entertaining the masses.  Neither of the two of them stopped moving all day, so by 7pm last night they both just zonked out until about 9 this morning.

I’m really pleased with our decision to have her christened at home, it really did make the day more personal and special than a regular church christening would have been.  My sister decided that after the “sensible” photographs were taken, we had to have some fun ones and she had bought a load of false moustaches and glasses for everybody to put on.  Even the minister got into te spirit of things and donned a Groucho Marx disguise!

A major success all round and I am pleased to report that Daisy the chicken came home.  After being a dirty stop out and hiding who knows where.  I went to let the other 2 out on Sunday morning and there was Miss Daisy standing by the coop clucking to get in!

I would totally recommend having a home christening.  My only suggestion would be give yourself more time than I did to organise it!

The Rev in his Groucho Marx Disguise!