Did you register for olympic tickets? More to the point, did you get any??

I didn’t on either count, and on reflection feel like a bit of a spoil sport. Having the olympics just an hour or two up the road is a once in a lifetime opportunity after all, perhaps I should have been a bit more enthusiastic?

The trouble is, when I picture myself going to watch the olympics, the scene I imagine incorporates rather too much queuing, traffic and general complaining from the children for my liking, and all to get a not terribly good view of someone competing in a sport I’m not that interested in. You can see why I’ve opted instead for being an armchair olympic spectator. All I have to do is walk downstairs, and there is no queue at all normally for tea and snacks in my kitchen.

The olympics are famous for including a rather questionable selection of ‘sports’ over the years, so in lieu of getting real life olympic tickets, I thought I’d come up with a few olympic events that I think really would be worth queuing for:

Celebrity competitive cupcake eating – we’re massive fans in our house of Man Vs Food, and I think competitive eating would translate into an awesome olympic event. If you make it celebrity only you could even turn it into a profit-making occasion, and try to claw back some of the billions of pounds we’re spending on the whole extravaganza. I’m thinking an auction – highest bidder gets to be an official Olympic Fondant Wiper. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would pay for the privilege of strategically wiping cupcake icing from Colin Firth’s cheek between mouthfuls.

"competitive cupcake eating"

One your marks…

‘Supermarket scuffle’ – Have you ever seen anyone kicking off in a supermarket? Two frazzled mums arguing over the last reduced pack of chicken chunks maybe? It’s compelling stuff. Come on, don’t pretend like you’re above all that, and would ignore the whole thing and head for the organic chick pea aisle. You know we all love a public argument. Loser gets pelted with stale rolls.

"bread rolls"

Roll up roll up…

 

Teeth cleaning contest – This is just a personal thing that I thought might help with the little issue I have getting Belle to clean her teeth. I was thinking if it was actually an olympic sport, something where there was a medal at stake, she might be more inclined to put in the training. And if she could sell tickets, even better. She does love putting on a show.

A girl can dream right?

Cupcake photo credit – snowy******* and bread roll photo credit – minato

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Well firstly, did you enter? If not, then I very much doubt you’ve won.

If you did enter my competition though to win a beautiful charm bracelet from Merci Maman gifts, then now is the time to take a seat and have a cup of sweet tea to hand, just in case.

Just to remind you, here’s what you could win:

"personalised charm bracelet

You don’t have to have my kids’ names on yours. You can if you like, but it would be weird.

OK then, the winner is…

*dramatic Britain’s Got Talent style pause and close up of Ant and Dec looking nervous*

…Claire Butler! Well done Claire!

Don’t worry though if you didn’t win. As a consolation prize Merci Maman gifts have set up a special 10% discount code so that everyone who entered can get some money off their own bracelet. To get your discount, just shop on the Merci Maman website and use the promotional code ‘mummyblogger’ before 22nd May 2012.

Thanks for taking part!

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There has been a lot of talk this week about the cover of Time Magazine showing a mum breastfeeding her three year old son.

"Are you Mom enough?"

Are you Mom enough?

 

What exactly is the question here?

Are you Mom enough to continue to provide your child with vital nutrients just because they can walk unadided now?

Are you Mom enough to offer your child a source of comfort and security?

Are you Mom enough to want to protect your child from infections and allergies?

Well yes I am. Thank you very much.

I breastfed Belle until she was two and a half years old. I’d do the same again, for longer if I felt like it. I’m not ashamed of it because IT IS NORMAL.

"Are you Mom enough?"

Belle gets experimental on her first birthday. This perhaps is not so normal. Swallowing upside down isn’t easy.

 

So here’s what I think – breastfeeding a three year old is normal and something to be proud of. There is no evidence at all that breastfeeding an older child does them any harm, physically or emotionally. In fact the opposite is true.

Discuss.

Go on, I dare you.

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Today the finalists for the Loved By Parents awards were announced, and I’m very excited indeed to be a finalist in the ‘Blogger of the Year’ category. Now I’m not one for awards normally – I get all the self-worth I need from a strong sense of inner confidence and…

Hahahahaha! Who am I kidding?

That’s rubbish.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am totally praise driven, and that a lovely shiny award is just about as good as it gets for me. It explains why I had no friends at school, but I can’t help it, I like people to say ‘Oooh well done Jo, that’s right, aren’t you clever?’

I don’t even care if they don’t mean it, I just find it comforting to hear.

So…

Best you vote for me in the Loved By Parents special award for Blogger of the Year, or else I will cry myself to sleep every night, convinced that no one loves me and that I’m worth nothing.

No pressure.

That’s right, off you go…

"Loved by parents awards"

Pretty please with a cherry on top

P.S. If you’re wondering how to use your other votes, can I suggest The Day That in the creative ‘best innovative gift’ category, and a few votes for Cuddledry in the bath section? Just if you fancy it. It’s not that I work for them and want them to say ‘Oooh Jo, aren’t you clever?’ or anything.*

*Not strictly true.

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It’s a title I never thought I’d write, but lately I’ve started enjoying gardening more and more.

It could just be age, or perhaps it’s that I live in a house at the moment with a garden that actually feels worth looking after, but whatever the case I wanted to embrace it, and think about what it is I love about gardening.

It’s just outdoor tidying up. I may loathe the type of housework that involves getting your hands wet, but tidying up I can do. Clean a sink? No thank you. Arrange books and magazine neatly in piles? Why yes, I’ll take that on.

Gardening is really just like this. You don’t have to wash the plants, or get anti-bacterial spray anywhere, you just need to tidy up the weeds and make sure the garden is arranged neatly. Last weekend I took it one step further and had a go at creating a straight edge along part of the lawn. It really is very satisfying to look at from the landing window.

"lawn edging"

I admire my nicely trimmed lawn

You can make things grow. Actual Things. As if by magic. It’s very inspiring. Indoors, I am slowly filling the house with spider plants, transplanting dozens of spider babies, and marvelling daily at the fact that they don’t die. Outdoors in the garden I’ve even attempted a bit of grow your own. This year I am growing some salad leaves, (pause for gasps of admiration), and we have a small apple tree from where Belle planted a pip when she was about two years old. I was so surprised when that grew. I thought it was a myth.

"grow you own salad"

Grow your own salad

The colours. Need I say more?

"gardening"

Something purple we have in our garden

The smells. When I first came to look at our house, I knew it was too big and too expensive, but whenever I rounded the corner of the patio, underneath the honeysuckle clad pergola, I positively swooned. It’s such a naturally pure and beautiful thing. When I stand and smell a plant I love I am transported for just a split second out of myself, the smell fills my head.

"my garden"

My favourite spot under the pergola

Watching my boyfriend cut the grass. Yes I know this isn’t technically gardening, in the sense that I am normally just sat on the step drinking a cup of tea, but hearing and smelling the grass being cut is really the essence of gardening isn’t it?

Besides, it’s not just about that. Watching him with the lawnmower makes me come over all funny. Contented I think is the word. It conjures up a lovely feeling of security, like I’m being taken care of, and almost makes me want to have a baby bump to stroke, except without having the baby at the end.

So there you go, that’s the five things I love most about gardening. Are you a gardener? What do you love about being in the garden?

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I have to say straight up that I don’t have the answer to this, I was sort of hoping you might provide it. I just wanted to have a moan.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about the sheer relentlessness and futility of parenting. It came about from a discussion about teeth cleaning. I was complaining that I couldn’t get Belle to clean her teeth properly, and confessed that I had got to the point where in all honesty, I just don’t care any more.

I have been nagging one child or another to clean their teeth/tidy their room/wash their hands/turn lights off for SIXTEEN YEARS now and I am bored of it. I am absolutely sick of it. I never want to do it again.

"How to get children to clean their teeth"

*face palm*

“Pop and clean your teeth before you go then,” I’ll say to Belle before she leaves for school.

“ARRRGGGHHH!” she’ll wail back at me, stomping off to the bathroom. “I’ll just be LATE then shall I? Is THAT what you want?”

*forced deep breath on my part*

“I’ve done them,” she says, reappearing ten seconds later.

No! No you haven’t! You clearly haven’t!

Why don’t they just listen??

Why, when I have told them 27,394 times, do they still just ‘forget’ to do such simple things or think I’m so stupid I have no concept of the passing of time?

It makes me want to punch myself in the face out of pure frustration.

I know that if I were a Proper Parent I would willingly nag for as long as it took, caring only for their dental health, but sod that, they’re not my teeth are they? Both of my children are old enough now to understand why they need to clean their teeth, and what will happen if they don’t, so why should I waste the precious handfuls of sanity and patience I have on reminding them to do the same thing every single bloody day?

What I don’t understand either, is that the lengths she goes to to convince me she really has cleaned them – like switching the toothbrush on so I hear the buzz, running it under the water in case I check to see if it’s wet – are surely just as much effort as cleaning the damn things in the first place.

*takes long, soothing breath*

OK, I think I feel better now.

Is this just me being selfish and impatient? Should I be ashamed of myself for wishing that Belle would need a filling, just to prove my point, or is this just a natural symptom of 16 years of parenting?

Photo credit – Flag75*

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There are plenty of things in life that I am good at. I can read and write, score the odd goal at netball, hold down a job and fold an excellent origami prawn.

There are other things that I’ve just had to accept that I can’t do. Roast beef is one of them. Style hair is another. When I was asked then to review a pair of the new limited edition peacock ghd hair straighteners, it was not without a sense of impending doom that I accepted.

This is my hair normally. You can see that I could use a little help in the volume department.

"peacock ghds - before"

Me before I look like Anne Hathaway

First things first, I got out my new peacock ghds, which come in a rather gorgeous box and satin bag, and are embellished with lovely peacock designs. I have a bit of a penchant for peacocks, which was what swung me to say yes to the review in the first place. Here they are:

"peacock ghds"

My very pretty peacock styling tools

Then I had a look on YouTube and found this video to show me how to look like Anne Hathaway from the comfort of my own home. Looks so simple doesn’t it?

Then I set to work.

Twenty minutes later, feeling rather flushed from the close proximity to such efficient ceramic plates, I didn’t really feel I had quite captured the catwalk look.

“How’s the hair going?” asked Belle, bounding into my bedroom and stopping dead when she saw me. “Oh, I see, not so good is it?”

“No, not really,” I said.

“It does look better from the front than the back though,” she added trying to be comforting. “Would you like me to get a mirror so you can see?”

“No!” I shouted. “I mean no thank you,” I said more quietly. “I think just the front view is enough.”

The trouble was that the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got. I just can’t explain it. I’m not stupid, and the ghds are fine – they are beautiful, they heat up in seconds, they’re easy to use – hair just always goes wrong when I touch it.

Here is my finished style:

"peacock ghds - after"

Still not looking at all like Anne Hathaway

You see?

*sighs and resigns self to a lifetime of sloppy buns*

I was sent these to review by Regis Salons.

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Today I accidentally created a science experiement. It cuaght me unawares, but I have recreated it for you here, so you can be impressed.

Sometimes when I make coffee I like to heat up an inch of milk first, and then add the coffee and hot water. Today I thought I’d go nuts* and make my own mocha, by heating up a bit of chocolate milk instead.

My ingredients were Kenco Millicano instant coffee sachets and Kara dairy free chocolate coconut milk:

"Kenco Millicano"

My lab kit

Here’s what happened next…

Once it (and I) had calmed down and I’d given the sides a bit of a wipe, I topped it up with boling water and it was very tasty.

*I’m mad I am! *jazz hands*

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I have to make a confession. This isn’t really a very good A to Z. There isn’t even an A for starters, and there aren’t many of the other letters either, although I have two for C. Please do not use this post to help you find your way around Bristol. You will get lost.

So now you’re thinking aren’t you, what even is the point of this post? It’s a good question.

There isn’t one really, other than I found a street name that I thought was funny, and it made me wonder what other unusual street names there might be in the city. I had a look in a real A to Z of Bristol, and found a few more, and here they are.

Do let me know if you have any interesting street names of your own.

First off…

"Battenburg Road"

What no cake?

I got there, and guess what? No cake. Shocking.

And this one…

"Cheese Lane"

Just around the corner from Cracker Alley

No cheese either, surprise surprise. I’d learnt my lesson from Battenburg Road though, so I wasn’t so disappointed this time. Cheese Lane actually has some significance for me, as it was where I parked my car when I went for the job interview for my first proper job out of University. There’s a fascinating fact for you.

You next one is just childish…

"Cock Road"

*snigger*

I felt pretty silly getting out of the car to take the photo. I tried to look casual and slightly scathing at the same time, trying to create the impression to passers-by that perhaps I was taking the picture for a friend, against my will.

To balance that one, how about this for a street name…

"Happy Lane"

*stops sniggering*

That’s just nice isn’t it? If you had to choose a street to live in, Happy Lane sounds pretty promising.

And finally, at least I got one thing right…

"Zed Alley"

The end

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Welcome to a week in tweets, my regular weekly round-up of the week in 140 characters or less. I say regular – regular apart from last week, when I forgot.

I’ve tweeted over the last few weeks as Belle, as Bee, and as Nancy Drew, girl detective, so I thought it was about time I stopped hiding behind other people and wrote about my own week for a change. This week I’m feeling bad about the amount of biscuits I’ve eaten and television I’ve watched, so I thought I’d do a bit of a confessional.

As always, it’s more of a retrospective than an absolute accurate-to-the-day factual record, so if you’d like to have a go yourself this week, and add your post to my linky, do feel free to exercise a bit of artistic licence.

Monday – Went to book group. Took wine and haribo as a gift. Couldn’t resist second slice of cake and glass of wine. #reallyshouldn’thavedonethat

Tuesday – Went to @theSteadyTable. Gave out free books to passers-by. Flirted with young boys in an effort to get them to read blog. #reallyshouldn’thavedonethat

Wednesday – My birthday! Got a lot of books and jam. Lay in bed reading when should have been working. #reallyshouldn’thavedonethat

Thursday – Got asked for ID to buy wine in Sainsbury’s. Pointed out I am now 34. Went home with lemonade. Wished I’d taken ID #reallyshouldhavedonethat

"champagne corks!Friday – Tried to make my own jaffa cakes. Yelled at over-eager daughter for not spooning mixture accurately. #reallyshouldn’thavedonethat

Saturday – Went to local wholefood shop. Spent too much money on halva, dried figs and milk made of coconuts. #reallyshouldn’thavedonethat

Sunday – Took ungrateful children to indoor shopping centre in the rain. Tried to buy their co-operation in John Lewis creperie. #reallyshouldn’thavedonethat

I’d really love for you to write your very own week in tweets and add your post to my linky. You can even copy my little badge if you like. I really spoil you.

Click here to enter your link and view the other entries.

Photo credit Krikit

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Last week I turned 34. I may still get asked for ID to buy a bottle of wine*, but I am noticing a certain general achiness creeping up on me. Basically I am getting old.

If you are someone who has always been sporty, you are not likely to let wear and tear in your joints get the better of you.  If however, you are someone like me, who has, until my recent discovery of netball, been more of a ‘glass of wine up to mouth’ type of exerciser, then you might be a bit more wary of where to start.

Fear not. Light sporting activities such as the following, carried out regularly, can help keep joints healthy and mobile. If you have any aches or pains, try out CBD products to help relieve pain. You could also consider CBD oil for weight loss if extra weight holds you back when it comes to sport.

Swimming

Movements that can be painful if done out of water can seem a lot easier when swimming. The resistance of the water ensures evenness of movement, and it’s a great way to relax the joints, loosen muscles and to avoid stress overload. Physical activity in the water helps to strengthen the heart, improve circulatory and respiratory functions, stimulate metabolism and relax the muscles.

"swimming"

Going for a casual stress-free swim

Dancing

A personal favourite, dancing is not only fun, it also keeps you fit and is good for your health.  Movement and pressure on joints is controlled by the tempo, length of the steps and positions of the body.  Due to the low risk of injury, dancing is recommended even for people with arthritis in the knee, and really old people like me.

Walking and hiking

Walking keeps you fit. Fact. Nordic walking, which uses sticks, (to help you walk, not to knock slow people out of the way with), is a great way to relieve the pressure on the knee joints, and both walking and hiking are knee-friendly alternatives to jogging. Due to the fact that one leg is always on the ground, this means there is no shock impact to the joints and spine. Make sure you have all the correct gear too, to minimise risk. Check out Onlysportsgear.com if you need some inspiration.

Cycling

When cycling, your body weight rests on the saddle, (poor saddle), taking the pressure off the knee joints. Make sure you pedal round and evenly with not too much resistance. If pain occurs it means that you have overworked your knee and that the step resistance is too high. The best form of training is on an exercise bike because then you can adjust step resistance, height of the seat and handlebars according to your needs.

Whether cycling is performance-based or simply for pleasure, there is scarcely another sport that keeps the knee mobile and stress free. The seat height should be adjusted so that your leg is almost fully extended when the pedal is at its lowest point.

Pain relief

If you do find yourself suffering from any joint pain, Arnica is a great remedy, and will be familiar to many people as a treatment for bruises.  Pain relief in stiff muscles and joints can be soothed using a herbal remedy made from fresharnicaflowers in an easy-to apply gel form – ideal for muscle aches and pains, stiffness and after sporting injuries.

Of course, not all pain comes directly from working out. If your pain is the result of an accident that wasn’t your fault, it provides you with a few different options from which to choose. For example, in situations where a sports injury has caused you a great deal of pain, a personal injury lawyer might have the ability to get you some sort of settlement, in addition to rehabilitation support. Many lawyers will take your case on a no win, no fee basis, so you will not have to pay for these services unless you are awarded some compensation.

For more information about Arnica visit the www.avogel.co.uk/herbal-remedies/arnica-gel-atrogel/

*This actually happened to me yesterday. It was annoying but cool at the same time.

Photo credit – notsogoodphotography

 

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For the last few weeks I have been attempting to change my attitude towards food, and given that I just lay on the kitchen floor and ate a Hobnob Medley bar without really thinking about it, now would seem like a good time to try and focus my thinking.

It started a few weeks ago with a call to Paul Levrant, a resident expert at Greatvine, who uses behavioural and hypnotherapeutic methods to help people lose weight for good. Greatvine had arranged for me to speak to Paul to test out their one-to-one phone advice service.

I was a bit nervous before the call, as I’m not really a phone person. I find it quite hard sometimes to know what to talk about, and was worried that once I’d got past ‘but I just can’t not put another biscuit in my mouth’ that I would run out of things to say. Fortunately Paul was very chatty and easy to talk to, and the time whizzed by without too many awkward pauses at my end.

I’d be the first to admit that I have what I suspect is an unhealthy relationship with food. I think about eating a lot. Really quite a lot. And if I’m not thinking about it, it’s probably because I’m distracted eating a Jaffa Cake. I try not to think about it, I try to eat less, but it’s a compulsion. I’ve tried to be objective, to think carefully about how food tastes and feels in my mouth as I eat it, to work out exactly what makes it so addictive, but nothing has helped.

Paul’s approach is slightly different to your typical ‘diet’. In fact, one of the first things he tells me is that I need to ‘surround myself with snacks’.

This is my kind of dieting.

I describe to Paul the picture I am imagining – me leaning back in a big leather swivel chair, smiling to myself, with towers of biscuits piled up around me, like a pirate admiring his mountains of gold. Apparently that is not quite the sort of snack Paul had in mind.

The theory though is something I can relate to. Paul explains that basically we are primitive beings, and that our first instinct is a survival one. Our body doesn’t know that we have a fridge full of pate, it only knows that when you diet, it panics, imagining you as a hunter, unsure of where the next handful of berries or mouthful of boar will come from. Basically, when you don’t eat regularly – around every two-three hours – your bodies worries.

Bless it.

I asked if this would explain my anxiety around buffets, and the urge I feel to eat everything within sight all the time and apparently yes, it does. Turns out I’m not greedy, I just have strong survival instincts.

By surrounding yourself with snacks, you are reassuring your body that you care about it, that you are providing for it, and that it needn’t worry on the boar and berry front, as snacks will always come. If you do this all the time, the idea is that your body relaxes, safe in the knowledge that food will always be around, and subsequently the urge to overeat reduces.

This really resonated with me, and I have made a concerted effort since the call to eat more often. It sounds like a perverse way to lose weight, but it makes sense to me, and I definitely feel like I’m thinking less about food, knowing there is a snack just around the corner.

Paul was full of loads of other great tips and analogies, but if I told you them all I’d be doing him out of a job wouldn’t I?

For more information about Paul, visit his page on the Greatvine website.

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