My hands have a funny smell this afternoon. I’ve washed them, but it won’t go away. It’s a sort of bitter but slightly meaty smell. I wonder if it could be the three day old chilli I reheated at lunchtime, oozing out of my fingertips.

I can’t stop thinking about the smell and even though I’m at work, in an office full of people, I can’t resist the urge to keep sniffing my fingers, just to check if it’s still there. I appreciate that office based finger sniffing is not really OK, and so try to disguise it by scratching my nose at the same time.

I email my boyfriend at work to check that this is the kind of thing that other people do and not just me, because sometimes I tell him things that I think are quite normal, and he tells me I am a freak.

“My hands have got a funny smell on them that won’t come off,” I write, “and I keep doing that thing where you can’t help but pretend to scratch your nose and sniff them all the time. (That is a thing isn’t it?)”

His reply is not reassuring.

“You’re weird.”

I feel suddenly very aware of the other people in the office. I decide to keep my hands on the keyboard.

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Do you believe in God? Or angels? Or technology? Or yourself?

According to a recent survey, around 17% of the UK population have no doubt about God’s existence. Another 18% are sure the whole idea is nonsense. That leaves an awful lot of people in the middle, the people who think perhaps there is something, that we can’t just be doing all this alone, unsupervised by something or someone bigger and more powerful, but unable to put their fingers on exactly what that might be. View Post

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…is a lot of people. That’s more than the number of biscuits I’ve eaten in my lifetime, which is fair few by anyone’s standards.

According to the United Nations, 31 October – which is one week today – will be the day when the global population hits seven billion, for the first time ever. Sounds a lot doesn’t it? But when you think that their predictions go even further, and that by 2050 we could be looking at 10 billion+, well, suddenly seven billion seems a bit paltry, positively roomy.

I wonder what the world will be like in 2050?

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Working in the nursery industry, I come across a whole range of apparently ‘must have’ baby products. Some are genuinely useful, others I think we could probably do without.

There are some though that are just downright stupid.

I wanted to share with you this compilation from Baby Gizmo of some of the most ridiculous baby products ever.

Like the Daddy Saddle. Really? This is a baby product? Sounds a bit kinky to me.

This is the list – see what you think: http://www.babygizmo.com/news/ridiculousbabyproducts2011.php

What’s your favourite?

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There are some household chores, like making sure all my books lie flush to the edge of the shelves, that I really don’t mind doing. There are others, including anything that involves getting my hands wet, that I just can’t bear. One of these is making packed lunches.

I know it’s ridiculous, because it only takes a few minutes, but there’s something about knowing I’m going to be putting half of it in the bin in six hours time that makes the whole experience rather futile and depressing.

What’s the point in carefully chopping carrot sticks or crafting individuals cous cous filled pitta parcels when you know you’ll end up scraping most of it off the inside of the lunchbox lid at the end of the day? View Post

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This week has been back to school week. Like most years, it has rather snuck up on me, and I haven’t been terribly well prepared. Belle had been back for several days for instance before I got round to buying her a lunch box. Whoops. One thing at least I did remember this time was the in service training days, which makes a nice change.

At her new school in Bristol, Belle doesn’t have to wear a school uniform. I can’t decide whether, for a slightly ‘relaxed’ parent such as myself, this is a Good Thing or not.

On the plus side, it means you never have that Sunday night panic where you remember you have to wash the school uniform, and then turn the heating on, even though it’s technically still summer, so you can hang it on the radiators to get in dry in time.

It also means your child doesn’t have the humiliation of having to wear cheap, unbranded versions of things, because you refuse to pay £12 for a PE t-shirt, just because it has a logo on it.

On the downside, it does mean that Belle’s school friends are being exposed to the full force of her rather ‘flamboyant’ dress sense. Yesterday she wore black leggings, a pink floral skirt, a blue t-shirt with flowers on and a grey and black spotty cardigan. Bee does not approve. “You can’t let her go to school like that,” she chastises me, rolling her eyes in despair. I on the other hand, am more inclined to let her express herself through her clothes. It’s what I’ve always done. But then Bee quite often does the same eye rolling at the outfits I choose to leave the house in.

It’s what on the inside that counts though right?

Last year I was helped out on the uniform front by Tesco, who kindly solved all my worries by sending me one of their uniform packs. This year, due to the lack of uniform, I had to decline. “Well we don’t want you to miss out,” Tesco told me, “how about we send you a nice school coat and shoes instead? And maybe some vouchers?” Jolly decent of them I thought.

The coat is rather stylish, and Belle looks very fetching in it. Plus with the buttons done right up it disguises the flower/polka dot combo nicely.

As I mentioned, Tesco have given me a £15 online voucher to do with as I please. I have decided to use it as a straightforward bribe, to ‘encourage’ you to comment. What are your thoughts on uniforms? Good or bad? Pain in the arse, or a useful way to protect children from an inherent lack of style?

I’ll give you plenty of time – partly so you can give some thought to what is clearly a hugely important and contentious issue, but mainly because I’m way next week at Kind und Jugend, (about which I am getting quite excited).

A winner will be chosen at random once I’m back, and then you’ll have fifteen whole pounds to go crazy with. Every little helps…

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They say every child is different, and how right they are.

First time around, I was blessed with what, on reflection, I appreciate was something of a miracle baby. At six weeks old, Bee was sleeping 12 hours through the night. Throughout her early years she could be left with anybody, was happy to go anywhere in the car, would eat most things, and was generally a pretty chilled out child. It was all down to me of course. Me and my ‘relaxed parenting style’.

Oh, how we laugh. View Post

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Last night Bee and I went for dinner at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Bee does love a good chain.

The restaurant was entirely glass fronted, so we chose a table in the window, where, once we had run out of things to say to each other, we could amuse ourselves watching people loitering about outside, trying to decide whether to go for a burger or Yo Sushi.

About three minutes later, we were watching a woman on her own, who was spending an unreasonable amount of time looking at the menu outside. “Maybe she’s meeting someone,” I suggested.

“Nah,” countered Bee, “because then she wouldn’t be looking at the menu would she?”

“She might,” I said, “if she was just trying to make herself look busy.”

Bee didn’t look convinced. “To be honest,” she said, “she does look like the kind of person who’d go to a burger restaurant on her own.” View Post

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I had a text conversation with Bee last week that almost brought a little tear to my eye.

She was staying with my mum back in Bridgwater at the time, and appeared to have had a moment of dawning realisation.

“Just walking along the street I’ve seen like 10 people, I feel so isolated like when people end up in a sinister town in a horror film. Even the water tastes distustinger than I remember.”

“Lol,” I replied, (I AM a cool mum), “is this Bridgwater? I told you all along it was shite :)”

“Yeah it is,” she replied, “I realise that now. I heard the advert for Gloucester Road gear boxes and I want to go home :( xx”

She wanted to come home! It was a very lovely moment. That feeling, finally, of my decision to uproot us being validated, reassurance that despite months of complaining, of emotional blackmail, Bee had finally seen the light.

Wanting to strike while the iron was hot, I decided to follow it up with a Folk House brochure. “Is there anything in here you fancy doing?” I asked, quite aware of Bee’s usual hatred for any sort of organised activity. “I thought I might do a hula hooping course, or there’s a Saturday workshop for making your own knickers out of vintage silk scarves?”*

I was expecting a look of disgust, or at best the funny face Bee does when I suggest silly things – a raised eyebrow and half smile, as if to say ‘really? And you are considered a grown up?’

But no.

Instead Bee took the brochure from me, and browsed with something akin to genuine interest. “I quite fancy doing beginners guitar,” she said casually.

I forced a similarly casual air, not wanting my excitement to put her off. “Sure,” I said, “that sounds like a good idea.”

Organised activities! Bee wants to do organised activities!

*takes deep breath*

Of course, the whole ‘living somewhere where stuff actually happens’ plan has the drawback of being quite expensive, but it’s a small price to pay. (Not literally). Yes I am having to work a lot, but everything seems to be working out ok, and I haven’t had to resort yet to cash for gold.

Besides, once we’ve finished at the Folk House we’ll be able to make our fortune with our guitar and hula hoop routine.

*These are both actual things you can do there.

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This weekend I went for a rummage in the 20p bin at the Amnesty bookshop, and came across a collection of poems from a writer called Grace Nichols, called Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman. How could I not buy it?

My favourite so far is called Grease – poetry for women who can think of better things to do than clean kitchens.

 

Grease

Grease steals in like a lover
over the body of my oven.
Grease kisses the knobs
of my stove.
Grease plays with the small
hands of my spoons.
Grease caresses the skin
of my table-cloth,
Grease reassures me that life
is naturally sticky.

Grease is obviously having an affair with me.

 

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New research published this week by the University of Bristol, claims that within families, teen pregnancy tends to be contagious.

What an odd term to choose.

Contagious. Makes it sound like a nasty disease doesn’t it? Not, in my humble ‘I-was-a-teenage-mum-and-I-don’t-live-off-benefits’ opinion, a terribly positive start to the piece.

The study found that having an elder sister go through a teen pregnancy increases the chance of a teenage pregnancy in younger siblings – known as a ‘peer effect’. This peer effect is apparently a powerful force, doubling the likelihood of a younger sister becoming pregnant as a teenager, from one in five to two in five. View Post

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This morning a Boden catalogue arrived in the post.

Before I knew what was happening, I was idly flicking through it.

‘That dress is nice,’ I thought to myself, stopping on a page with a wholesome looking woman happily riding an old fashioned bike along a cobble street, ‘and looks like really good quality.’

I didn’t ask for the Boden catalogue, I don’t know how they found me, but this is clearly the beginning of the end. How long now before I’m wearing Hunter wellies for the school run and hankering after a Cath Kidston tea towel set? View Post

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