WARNING: This post in very uncool. If you are likely to be offended by the pleading of an angst ridden blogger, please look away now.

The world of mummy and daddy blogging has been buzzing this week following the launch of the new MAD blogging awards, aimed at celebrating the best UK parent blogs. There are several different categories and in most cases the winners are chosen by the public vote – the more nominations therefore the better.

Now there have been some people claiming that they don’t mind whether or not they get nominated, that perhaps having awards at all flies in the face of the ‘spirit of blogging’, but I must admit I’m not convinced . Maybe it isn’t the cool thing to admit, but I do care. I care if people like my blog. I’ve only been blogging a few months, but already I feel part of an amazing community, and other people’s opinions matter to me. Every positive comment I get makes me smile, I obsessively check my stats, and I am hugely grateful for every person that reads my outpourings.

There. I said it.

Maybe there are people who genuinely don’t care if one or one hundred people read their posts, but if I didn’t care I would just scribble my thoughts in a notebook and hide them under my mattress, like I do with my more private ramblings. (Note to Bee – don’t actually go and look under my mattress, it is a metaphorical mattress). I blog because I want other people to read what I have to say. I want to make people laugh, I want to strike a chord, touch a nerve, make people think. I want people to LIKE ME damn it.

So, with my fragile ego in mind, if you enjoy my blog then please nominate me! It will make me happy.  Thank you.

*picks self up off knees and looks sheepish*

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It starts innocently enough. A thought pops into my head as a clean my teeth. “Oooh, I must make those dental check up appointments!”

This thought occurs to me every time I brush my teeth, but unfortunately my dental hygiene regime does not coincide with the dentist’s opening hours, so we are now two months behind. So this morning I decide to act on my thoughts, and set myself a reminder on my Blackberry. And so it begins…

I open the calendar and see all the other things that need doing tomorrow. I feel my pulse quicken ever so slightly. I hastily exit the calendar, and see I have had one text messages and 27 emails overnight. How has this happened? My pulse quickens a fraction more and I feel a funny tingling in my shoulders. I stretch them back, trying to nip the panic in the bud, but it spreads up the back of my neck and I feel my brain start to buzz.

I read the text message, but before I can reply my overactive brain has switched to the emails. Most of them aren’t important. I don’t think so anyway, but maybe I should check just in case, just in case today is the day I miss something crucial.

Lots of them are work related. It’s Sunday, but I know if I don’t look at them now it just means more to do on Monday, so I really should read and reply to some of them. My shoulders are creeping up towards my ears now. I’m replying to emails, when really I should be relaxing and reading the paper I bought yesterday. Why can’t I even manage to read a paper on the right day?

I wish I’d never cleaned my teeth. Maybe if I had just stayed in bed with the duvet up over my head I could have kept my mind blissfully blank.

The emails begin a torrent of other intrusive thoughts. I feel like a tower of glasses where you pour champagne in at the top and before you know it you have a waterfall of disconnected plans and tasks and Jobs That Must Be Done. And of course you never end up doing any of them, because you don’t know where to start, and if you tug too hard on the wrong bit the whole lot will come crashing down. And then where will you be? Just sat in a soggy pile of broken thoughts, dreams and to do lists.

I am standing in the middle of my bedroom, Blackberry in hand, eyes darting, fingers twitching. I begin to reply to the text message, but am distracted by the dirty clothes all over the floor. I must get some washing on, or we won’t have clean school uniforms tomorrow. Oh God, I should go to Sainsbury’s today too, or Belle will end up with one of the eccentric lunches I make when I have forgotten to buy real food – left over naan bread, some old ritz crackers, a pot of past-their-best raisins as a nod to her five a day.

I put on some washing, but standing in the kitchen I see dishes that need doing and a floor that needs sweeping. There are crumbs everywhere. I feel hungry. Maybe I should make breakfast. Where even are my children? I really must find them, unplug them, and spend some quality time with them. As soon as I’ve washed up. I stand at the sink and look out into the garden at pots of dead plants. I really should clear that up. But first I must write a blog post. And I must start researching the features I have waiting for me. If I don’t go on twitter I’m bound to miss out on something.

The red light flashes on my phone. I think I’ll just go back to bed.

Photo credit: Still Thinking

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Yesterday afternoon was one of those lovely afternoons where you get engrossed in an activity and look up to find it has got dark.

Belle was at her Dad’s, and Bee came home from school to find me having a little lie down in bed, as you do, in preparation for having to stay up past 10pm later that evening. She came and sat in bed with me and decided she wanted to get herself some moo cards and stickers. If you haven’t come across these before you should really have a look – they are mini business cards you can personalise with up to 100 of your own photos on the back, so every card has a unique design.

Anyway, I digress.

I had recently uploaded all the old photos from our wind up, clockwork computer, onto an external hard drive, so we wouldn’t have to wait three days for every new picture to load, whilst listening to the tower whirr and grind like an old fashioned windmill. Blimey, am I really talking about hard drives? Gosh, this is a terribly dull post. Basically, the point is that we ended up spending a lovely two and a half hours looking through all our old photos and gasping over how tanned and plump and glossy we all looked. Look at these chubby cheeks:

I love this one too at the donkey sanctuary. Belle has such a serious expression on her face, as though she is presenting a Open University programme on donkeys:

Now last year, as part of a competition with my pregnant sister whereby I had to weigh less than she did at nine months pregnant (she is very thin, honest), I lost about 20lbs. At the time I was thrilled, but looking back I’m not so sure it has done me any favours. I certainly don’t generally feel happier because of it. Looking back I can’t help but feel that actually I looked pretty good with a bit of extra weight. Sort of fuller and rounder, and younger too. I don’t know. Like this one of me and Bee at a festival in summer 2008. Look at that cleavage!

I look at the three of us now, and I worry that we have lost our shine. We all look a bit pasty and tired. Our skin doesn’t glow like it did. I know it’s winter, and I’m sure we’ll all look much better in a few months time, but I do wonder if we should more often look back through at pictures of ourselves and pay more attention to our exteriors, as a way of looking at our interiors. It was obvious from the photos over the years when we were going through happy periods, like here:

You can also see when times were perhaps tougher. Yet it is so easy to ignore these obvious outward signs, albeit unintentionally. I’m not saying we’re having an awful time or anything, but I think it would be fair to say the last six to twelve months have been hard work, with lots of changes, and that this is starting to show.

So my plan for the next six months is to feed us up, get us out in the sunshine and shake off the cobwebs. By the end of the summer I want us all to have shiny coats, waggy tails and wet noses. Hoorah! Now where did I put that Dairy Milk

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Personally, I try to watch as little kids TV as possible. For me, the likes of CBBC is basically free childcare – why would I stick the kids in front of a cartoon, thus freeing up valuable time for messing around on the internet working, only then to sit and watch it with them?? It just doesn’t make sense.

Some of my friends though see a dual purpose for kids TV, namely the selection of attractive young presenters and the double entendres. OK, so sometimes this makes it worthwhile, but sometimes it is a bit much. There were far to many anal probe gags for my liking in Planet 51 for instance.

What I’ve never quite understood though is crushes on cartoons, Jessica Rabbit style. I know a lot of people secretly quite fancy a roll in the mud with Daddy Pig – like this mummy at Notes from Inside My Head – but I confess I’ve always felt slightly weird fantasising about a cartoon pig. Call me narrow-minded, old-fashioned, what you will – it just seems wrong.

So when the lovely people at Peppa Pig offered me a copy of the new DVD to watch, I thought the time had come to educate myself, and see if I could be charmed by Daddy Pig’s rugged good looks and assertive manner.

So what did the family make of ‘Peppa Pig – the Fire Engine and Other Stories’? Well, we loved it! Even my mum enjoyed it, but then she does have rather a fondness for kids TV. I actually bought her a Peppa Pig annual for Christmas, but that’s another story. Bee was a little disturbed by the idea of a pet ladybird that barked, but then she is 14 and rather pedantic. “Ladybirds just wouldn’t bark!” she protested. I tried to point out that as a rule pigs don’t talk and put out BBQ fires, but she wasn’t convinced.

I have to confess I didn’t feel any chemistry for Daddy Pig, although I did notice that Mummy Pig quite often comes over all coy and giggly in his presence, and generally looks quite pleased with herself, so he must be doing something right. Aside from that though, it was great fun. Forget blogging and wasting time on twitter, I think I might start watching kids TV in the daytime…

Peppa Pig – The Fire Engine and Other Stories is out on 29 March

Photo credit: Sarah and Mike ..probably

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I’ve started playing this game with Belle, as we walk to school, where we imagine and describe our perfect days. It began one morning as a distraction from one of her ‘tummy aches’ – the kind that come on mysteriously at about 8am on weekday mornings. Sometimes, like this morning, I am given a theme – ‘your perfect day at Centreparcs Mummy’ – other mornings my imagination is allowed to run wild.

The trouble is, I’m not sure my imagination IS actually very wild at all. Theme or no theme, I find the game quite tricky. I can’t decide whether I am terribly dull, or just very easy to please – I am the type of person who derives hours of fun from alphabetising my books, or from shredding old credit card bills.

Most of my imaginary perfect days start with me waking up to sunshine, often with some kind of warm, tropical breeze blowing gently through some open patio doors. This morning, I included waking up to find Colin Firth next to me in bed. Belle looked slightly shocked. “I hope you’re wearing something!” she said.

“Oh yes”, I reassured her, “I’ll have my best pyjamas on.”

“And what about Colin?”

“Of course, he’ll definitely have pyjamas on too. He’s really only there to bring me coffee and smoked salmon bagels.”

Belle looked relieved.

Belle’s perfect days are fairly predictable, and revolve mainly around watching a bit of TV and having pizza for tea, but I find mine harder to imagine. Maybe it’s because the whole of my adult life has been spent as a parent, but the littlest things for me are often the ones I enjoy most. Coffee and the papers in bed, nice things to eat, or just half an hour on my own in the sunshine. It honestly is the simple things in live that give me pleasure.

So I need some inspiration – what would be your perfect day? Is it something terribly glamorous and exciting, or is it something as simple as going to the toilet without interruptions from an insistent toddler? Being a parent definitely makes you appreciate the little joys…

Photo credit Robert Otani

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