Yesterday we went to Bee’s graduation. 

Here we are see: 

Bee's graduation

(Bee has a mini can of gin and tonic, which she made me stop and buy her on the way.)

I’m not going to lie to you, as ceremonies go, it was pretty boring. I love Bee and everything, but I wasn’t that fussed about the 469 other people who took turns to go up onto the stage and be given a fake scroll. I amused myself through Applied Sciences by sending Bee sneaky messages under the programme. Her phone was in my bag, but I thought she might like to read them afterwards.

It was worth it, as apparently they were the best bit.

Although the ceremony was fairly dull, I wanted to write this post for two reasons. Partly, Bee has been on at me lately to write something about her.

‘What do you want me to write?’ I asked her.

‘I don’t know, anecdotes or cute stories or something.’

Also though, I wanted Bee (and everyone else) to know that even though I could probably have got by without the whole ‘and now the prize for outstanding achievement in applied baking technologies’ thing, that it doesn’t actually matter. I don’t need a ceremony to remind me how clever she is you see, or to make me feel proud, because I already am. I’ve always been proud.

I was proud when she said she wanted to go to university in London. I was proud when she went, and didn’t run home again even though she was lonely and it was a bit scary and she gets anxious about stuff. I’m proud that she stayed there for three years, working hard, managing panic attacks on her own, and getting on with things. I’m proud that she came home in the holidays to work nearby for extra money and experience. I’m proud that she supported herself working weekends in a call centre. I’m proud that she started her own blog and writes really funny, thoughtful posts.

And I’m proud that she was drinking a gin and tonic before 11am.

Good work Bee.

What TV shows did you like to watch as a child? I guess it depends on your age, but given that Sesame Street began life in the US way back in 1969, chances are you’ll have watched it at some point in your life. In fact, a 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three years old. (That’s fun fact number one for you right there.)

Strangely, Sesame Street wasn’t quite so quick to catch on the UK. The BBC hated it, and refused to show it, and ITV showed it reluctantly, but in a limited way. It wasn’t until the 1980s that it established itself properly on Channel 4, where it stayed until 2001.

I got to watch Sesame Street twice over then – once in the 1980s when I was little, and then again in the late 1990s when Bee was small. (It does feel a bit weird that I was watching kids’ TV only a decade apart from my own daughter!)

I seem to remember it being on over lunchtime when Bee was small – a 12-1pm slot maybe? We didn’t have the vast array of choice that we have now, and no Sky or cable TV, let alone the internet. When a show came along then that Bee enjoyed, (and that I did too), we seized upon it as a beacon of light relief in what could otherwise be a very long day. (Life with a toddler can be pretty dull when you are 19 and have zero money.)

Sesame Street was that beacon.

Sesame Street View Post

Bee was round for tea the other night. Belle was cooking and we were watching Dirty Dancing because apparently neither of my children have ever seen it. (Which officially makes me a bad parent.)

‘Mummy’s smiling a lot,’ said Belle, from her position in the kitchen chopping onions, ‘it looks weird.’ (Our downstairs room is one biggish space that’s half a kitchen and half where we watch TV.)

‘Yeah, why are you smiling?’ asked Bee.

‘It’s a good film!’ I said.

‘Yeah but not that good,’ said Bee, ‘not as good as Wikipedia said it was going to be.’ (I don’t understand why she can’t just watch a film and wait nicely to see for herself what happens at the end.)

‘Well I like life,’ I said, cheerily.

Bee looked doubtful.

‘No one likes life,’ she said, ‘they do it, but no one actively enjoys it.’

‘Well I do,’ I said, smiling. ‘I like waking up and getting up and doing things like going to work and getting coffee.’

‘PAH!’ said Bee, looking really sceptical by this point, ‘NO ONE likes getting up!’

‘I do,’ I said.

Because actually I do, most of the time. I mean sure, there are days when I’d rather not straight away, but that’s more because I’m enjoying so much the feeling of being in bed, not because I particularly have anything against life outside of bed. I’m just generally quite cheerful. (Which is why I find it so hard when I do have periods of feeling sad or anxious.)

Most of the time I just bumble along, looking forward to lunch, buying props for photos, not thinking too much about anything serious.

It’s nice!

slummy single mummy View Post

Halloween DisneyLife

Belle, now 14, has always been massively in to Halloween. I think it’s something to do with the creativity of it. She really likes dressing up (remember last year she won that competition by dressing as a cereal killer?) and she loves doing make-up. I mean she really loves it. She has a massive make-up collection and she is the appointed make-up artist for this year’s school scary tours. (It’s a bit like a school show, but you walk around the school in small guided groups and spooky stuff happens to you. Kind of like a ghost train but you don’t get to sit down.)

She’s ace at it too. 

She did my Halloween make-up last year, and every time I look at the photo I forget that I have my eyes shut. Seriously, I just typed that, so I should know, but I still looked and saw big open eyes:

Halloween DisneyLife

One of her other very favourite things is watching TV, and so, today, I bring you…

Six spooky Halloween things to watch on the DisneyLife app!

See how smoothly I did that?

In case you’ve forgotten, we’re DisneyLife ambassadors, and we’re excellent ones at that. We all genuinely love Disney and apps. So it’s a no-brainer. Duh! The DisneyLife app has absolutely masses of content – it’s the best of Disney all in one place, and it’s only £9.99 a month. Even better, you can try it for free, so if you want to give it a go over half-term, then just sign up now

Where was I? Oh yes, spooky shows on DisneyLife. Presumably you’ve just gone and signed up for the free trial (such is my power and influence). Excellent. Now you’re all set to check out our top six Halloween picks. I picked out the films and Bee, who is now 21 but still a massive Disney fan, picked out a couple of Halloween-themed episodes from her favourite Disney TV shows. (The app is multi-generational you guys!)

Wizards of Waverly Place – Season 3 episode 2

“The Wizards of Waverly Place Halloween episode is great because they have to design a haunted house,” says Bee, “so it gets you in the Halloween mood. It’s really funny, as well as there being a couple of jumpy parts to try and scare you. If you like ghosts and trick-or-treating, then definitely watch this episode for tips on how to get enough sweets to last you a whole year!”

Hocus Pocus

A classic Disney Halloween film if ever there was one. Belle has never seen this so it will definitely be on our half-term playlist. It stars the likes of Bette Midler and Sarah-Jessica Parker. It has to be said, the make-up and wardrobe is slightly less subtle than in Sex and the City.

Hocus Pocus DisneyLife app

Toy Story of Terror

Toy Story has to be one of my favourite ever film series. I went to see Toy Story 3 three times at the cinema and I cried every single time. The characters feel like they are an actual part of my life. Honestly. I don’t know what it is about Toy Story, but there is a real connection there. 

Toy Story of Terror is a short film, exclusive to DisneyLife. I’d tell you what happens, but you already signed up remember? So you can watch it and see for yourself.

Frankenweenie

Nobody does creepy quite like Tim Burton. Expect some classic Tim Burton animation in this spooky tale about a boy who brings his dog back to life. Hilarity ensues, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Also on the DisneyLife app you’ll find a short behind the scenes film about the making of Frankenweenie. 

JONAS – Season 1 episode 17

“In the Jonas Halloween episode,” says Bee, “as well as loads of cheesy Halloween jokes and funny moments, the handheld camera shots make it really spooky and the plot twist at the end is totally worth watching the whole episode for. This episode is one of the best in the series and even though it’s quite light-hearted, there are a few jumpy moments, so it’s perfect to watch on Halloween night.”

And finally…

Mom’s Got A Date With A Vampire

I’ve been on my fair share of bad dates. Like that guy who twiddled the hair on his mole – remember him? He would make a pretty good Halloween short film. As far as I know, though, I’ve never been on a date with an actual vampire. Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire is a film about two kids, desperate to get their mum out of the house, but it turns out they’re not the only one dying to get her on a date…

(See what I did there?)

Definitely worth a half-term watch.

What are your family’s favourite Halloween TV shows or films?

Halloween films DisneyLife app

Skeleton image –Burhan Bunardi Xie/shutterstock. I am a DisneyLife Brand Ambassador and this post was created in partnership with DisneyLife who have provided me with a free 12 month DisneyLife membership.

You know sometimes you have one of those days, or an outing of some kind, and at the end you sort of sigh to yourself, and think ‘well that was lovely’?

Nothing hugely adventurous happened, you didn’t spend loads of money, but you did something that was just nice, that left you feeling all warm and content with life.

That happened to us a few weeks ago.

Belle and I went to Stourhead, a National Trust place about an hour away from us, and met up with a friend and her nine month old twin girls. (#Rinstwins if you want to check them out on Instagram – how awesome to be called Rin and have twins?! They are made for social media.)

The sky was a bright blue, the forecast promised sunshine all day long, and we had nothing to do and nowhere to be. (Apart from sat down at regular intervals for the twins to snack, which suited me just fine.) We hadn’t got quite as far as packing a picnic, because I love the treat of eating out in a cafe, but I had packed us a little rucksack of essentials – water bottles, mini-cheddars, suntan lotion, and Kleenex pocket packs. It’s weird, but although I was always the parent who forgot wipes, I’ve turned into the woman who always has tissues. There is something very comforting and satisfying about carrying tissues, and that feeling of needing one, and then actually having one – it’s ace.

autumn picnic Stourhead View Post

Word up yo!

(That’s me being down with the kids to prove that I’m not a grandparent yet.)

I’ve got a little story to tell you about chips, but first…

This Sunday is Grandparents’ Day, and environmental charity Hubbub and Unilever are seizing the opportunity to highlight the importance of cooking with grandparents as a way to spend time together, pass on valuable skills and reduce food waste. They’ve set up an online resource to help you #CookSomethingGrand, offering tips and a whole load of great recipes.

To demonstrate the issue, Hubbub and Unilever conducted a survey of 1,000 UK parents. The results showed that eight out of 10 parents wish they had more time to teach their children to cook and over half expressed a concern that their children won’t have the skills needed to cook a meal for themselves when they grow up. Cooking skills are essential if we want to use up leftovers, maximise the value from our food and tackle the 7 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year.

Just to frighten you, by the age of 11:
– 44% of children have never boiled an egg
– 28% have never peeled a potato
– 28% have never mashed potatoes
– 23% have never chopped vegetables with a knife

68% of parents also said they’d like their children to spend more time cooking with their grandparents, hence the link to Grandparents’ Day. Take a look at the video that Hubbub and Unilever have put together if you need a bit of inspiration.

 

My story about chips

I have very fond memories of cooking with my Gran. We didn’t make cakes though, or scones, or anything traditionally grandparenty like that. The only things I ever remember making with my Gran were crinkle cut chips.

My Gran made an awful lot of crinkle cut chips.

crinkle cut chips Grandparents' Day View Post