My Grandad; still dancing

Last night my Grandad came to see me and it was wonderful.  We laughed, we talked, we held hands and he was truly with me.  I woke with a smile today, feeling like his arms were around me.

It is nearly a year since we said ‘Goodbye’ and the last thing that I did with my wonderful Grandad was dance.  After a perfect yet upsetting week of preparing to say goodbye we visited Grandad for what was to be our final time.  His two girls.  Kelly and I; the apples of his eye.  We played Frank Sinatra and despite his pain, lack of energy and lull of sleep –  he danced. He shrugged his shoulders and swaggered in his true John style.  After a day of little response and the impending signals that he would soon be leaving us, he waved for Kelly and I to stand up.  He took our hands and we danced.  He twirled us, he laughed; we laughed. He danced.  The soft, dulcet tones of Frank washed over us.  In that moment he was very much alive; his eyes glimmered and the memories of our times together made us all happy.  Despite having cried every day for a week, that day I left a little more content, yet with the lurching feeling that that was our very last dance. And it was.

Grandad died the next day.  Saturday 25th March 2017.  I can hardly believe that it has been a year and I still cannot truly believed that he has gone.

I can remember friends losing grandparents when I was at school.  I can remember crying even thinking about losing any of mine.  And there I was age 37 with all four grandparents. So lucky.  Everyone loves their grandparents.  As children they spoil you rotten, but the thing that I am most grateful for is that I have got to know them as an adult.  My Grandad loved me as much as I loved him.  Over the years we spent many special times together, just the two of us.  He regularly would visit me at home, usually rocking up at some unearthly hour on a Saturday laughing that I was still in bed. No matter how many times I told him, he never fully grasped that I didn’t get up early at weekends! He was the same with Mum and Kelly.  If we didn’t answer our phones he would panic and go into meltdown, ringing around the family.  To be met by the same response, “Grandad it’s 10am… she’s probably in bed!”  God I wish he would ring me up and wake me up again! (Although these days 7am is a lie in !)  We had days out together, walks in the park, trips to the pub and the infamous picnic on top of a tree when we were kids.  We loved spending time with him as kids, but as an adult I enjoyed it even more.  We talked for hours and I knew lots about him and his life and he knew lots about me.  When I used to perform in a singing act, he would come to every gig,  He was our regular little ‘groupie’ and I can remember the pride on his face every time he came.  He loved whenever we went to the Black Swan with him for Karaoke and I will never forget him singing at my 30th and bringing the house down at the end of my wedding.

Emilie loved him too. The day that I told him I was pregnant, he was so happy and when he found out she was a girl he cried with happiness.  I am so happy that she knew him, even if it was for a short time.  He would arrive at my house in Wallasey after taking three buses to come and visit me and the baby.  He bought her several outfits and they were always age 2 and they looked gigantic.  She has only just fit into some of them now! He would also always arrive with a pie and an egg custard… every time without fail.  The day that Grandma and Grandad both met Emilie for the first time will be forever edged in my memory.  The simultaneous joy and tears and seeing them hold their great granddaughter was so special.

That last week leading up to his death was both heartbreaking and wonderful in equal measure.  As a family we spent hours together, rallying and being strong for each other.  I was helping to chaperone at the school play when I got the dreaded call.  The call to say that we needed to get to the hospital ASAP.  I abandoned everything and raced back to Warrington.  Grandad was unresponsive and had been for much of the day.  As the first relatives to arrive, Kelly and I were taken into the dreaded ‘side room’.  You see it on TV and there we were in the little room being told that there was no longer anything that they could do for Grandad and that they were going to stop treatment. How could it be true?  Grandad had been such a fighter.  Fighting for 12 years he had battled prostrate cancer, but he had been deteriorating now for a long time and the truth was hard to face.  We were going to lose him.  I was going to lose him.

We didn’t think he would make it through the night.  We all sat with him until the very early hours.  I was convinced I would never hear him laugh again and that I would not be able to truly say goodbye.  Mum and Uncle Steve stayed with him over night and amazingly he made it through the night.  Kelly and I took over the next morning and he was still unresponsive.  We sat by his bed and chatted and somehow he came back to us.  He woke, he smiled and he knew we were there.  That day the mircle i’d prayed for came true.  I got to talk and laugh and sing with him again.  We played Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to him and he sung and swayed along to the music.  He told us he loved us and we knew he knew he’d be leaving us.  Grandad has been a karaoke king for years, famous for crooning in his local pub, it was only fitting that he should sing in his final days.  The nurses on the ward regularly had a sing song with him and so those last few days were days of joyful sadness.

I have never watched someone die and so it was such a blind journey.  Never knowing what to expect. Hoping for the best, but expecting the expected.  Willing him to stay whilst willing him to go. Desperately wanting him to fight, yet hating seeing the pain and discomfort that the fight was giving him.  He rallied for us and I am convinced that had we not been there, he would have died on the Monday.  Instead we gained five extra days with him.  In that time we ate jelly and ice cream, sang more songs, chatted and laughed and enjoyed the time together.  Somehow being locked in that little bubble was an escape from reality and we were all there together as a family and all we had to think about was our love for Grandad.

One night we were almost evicted for causing a disturbance on the ward.  Grandad was becoming a little agitated and was imagining things.  As we sat adorning his bedside he was convinced that we were in some sort of army truck that had crashed and we needed to evacuate.  We all became embroiled in the drama, acting out his instructions to abandon the vehicle! The next day, again becoming more agitated, Grandad had to be restrained by a male nurse.  We were called in very early.  Grandad was pumped up and very pleased with himself as he told us that he had been fighting.  He gleefully told us that he had fought them off with his bare feet and his eyes lit up as he chuckled to himself saying, “One thing is for sure; it’s bound to be in the papers… as I was fighting in the nude!” and the nurse confirmed he was!  With us there, he soon calmed down and he then slept happily knowing that he still ‘had it’.

Later that day, still revelling from his ‘fight’ Grandad almost seemed to fully come back to us.  The previous few days he had been very weak, yet here he was regaling us with stories.  We listened to him for hours.  Mum, Kelly, Adam and myself as he reminisced about his whole life.  We all held hands and walked down Memory Lane together as we each recounted our special memories with Grandad.  He could remember everything we had done together and I will cherish that day for the rest of my life.  He took us through his childhood and youth, through the dance halls of courtship to our days out as Grandkids.  Mum and him talked for hours about their pets, houses, holidays and their family with Grandma and Steve.

Sadly, the next day he was much more agitated needing more sedation and so he slowly began to slip away from us again.  Yet in true Grandad style he saved time for one last dance with his special girls.  My Grandad was renowned for his dancing and everywhere he went he always had a good looking lady ready to dance with him and so it was only fitting that we had one last dance before we said the last goodbye.

I am sure that he is still dancing.


Terrorising Toddlers

So it has happened. I’ve said it… ‘Give me the newborn days back…’ Toddlerdom just isn’t for me. In Dragon’s Den style if this is what I’ve got to look forward to for the foreseeable then, ‘I’m out.’

New born was HARD. VERY VERY HARD. Reflux, PND and a non sleeping baby made it unbearable at times. But looking back how easy it seems. 

The hardest thing about motherhood is the unknown and blind-living that you go through. If you could somehow know what to expect and how long it was likely to last; we could no doubt cope with each horrendous (I mean endearing) stage a little more easily. 

I remember reading a post on Facebook about which stage is harder Toddler v Newborn. At the time I was a sleep deprived, walking dead lookalike and couldn’t imagine that motherhood could possibly get anymore challenging. Seething at people dismissing Newborn as ‘easy’ and ‘wishing their toddler was a baby’ again, I actually felt close to violence and metaphorically wanted to hurt these people who were dismissive of what I was finding horrifically hard. 

And now I am one of them. 

I have uttered the cliches. ‘I miss the days when she was still.’ When she would lie in my arms for hours and sleep.When she needed me for everything. 

Now I have a demanding, headstrong, intelligent and wilful toddler on my hands. She knows her own mind and she knows how to tell me! She has been talking since she was about 15 months and now at 20 months she is pretty fluent and very able to string little sentences together to make herself very clear. Every day she seems to wake up with more vocabulary pouring out of her and her understanding astounds me. Of course she is a big fan of ‘No’ and now likes to use that with gusto.  

She astounds me every day with her rhymes, singing and requests. But sometimes I wonder if it is a blessing or a curse. Today she demanded I get her milk that she’d left upstairs. ‘Mummy milk upstairs.’ Wow. She remembered where she’d left if and was able to tell me! 

She entertains me in equal measure to annoying me and I love our time together. ‘Hiya Mummy’ and planting a kiss on my lips makes all the horrors disappear. But my God if this is the way it’s going I’m going to need some serious wine! 

A friend on Facebook said today… ‘after the terrible twos comes the Threenager stage… brace yourself!’

God help us! 

How to be Single…

Recently I watched ‘How to be single’ and it really struck a chord. It was hilarious and fun but although about the search for the one; ultimately it was about finding yourself. (With side kick  Rebel Wilson to add hilarity).

This got me thinking about my life and my many single years. Throughout the 21 years of my adult life (gulp) I seem to have lived my life in seven-year stages.

Some may call it the seven-year itch.

Now at the age of 37 I am still to beat my longest relationship record of funnily enough… seven years. 

Seven Year Itch

At 17 (exactly 20 years ago today – 11th January 1997 – yikes!) I met my first ‘serious’ boyfriend who I was with for seven great years.  We grew up together.  He was my first love and a great love that will never leave my heart.

We had fun –  we went on holidays, experienced loads of festivals and gigs notably Ocean Colour Scene.  I was at University but I was happily coupled up. After Uni I got a job, we bought a house, got engaged and was ready to get married and thought I was happy settle down.  

Urgh no I don’t think so! I always had a ‘Sliding Doors’ view of my future. (Never had the guts to get the Gwyneth haircut)  One half of me wanted the marriage and the family and the other half wanted the career, the travel, the fun of being single and independent.  Not to sleep around but to be independent and to as cliché as it sounds to ‘be me’.  I only knew the version of me that was L & D and I needed to be L.

I was definitely old before my time and had missed out on the crazy 20s. So my seven-year itch took me off to Majorca and then Australia and this then became my seven years single.

Seven Years Single

Ages 24-30 were the ‘Hey day’ of my partying, travelling and dating aka the ‘Sex and the City’ days.  Or more realistically the ‘Occasional Sex in the Town’ days, with a one-bed flat in Bewsey (not quite Manhattan )and there was no sign of Mr Big more Mr Dickhead (and there were plenty of them!)

Those years were the best in so many ways.  Filled with, fun, friends and frivolity but also so lonely.  I spent six Christmases single. Went to umpteen weddings, christenings and 30ths alone.  All of my school and university friends were ‘settling’ down yet I had slid right down my single snake and was back very much at square one.

The 17-year-old version of me had never worried about meeting ‘the one’.  I wasn’t desperate to get married, I wanted to go to university, to work in Television… to write… to act…  Those years that I was safely in a relationship blinded me to the possible difficulty of the search for my Mr Right.  It had happened all so innocently in a pub in town.  It started with a kiss, getting stuck on the Velcro of his Helly Hanson coat… swapping of numbers, a ride in his mates car and that was it we were ‘together’.

I used to skive off Sixth Form to sneak to his and meet him on his lunch break.  I was young, naïve, excited and falling in love.  I had always been very shy around boys, had little confidence in myself and although I had already had a few boyfriends and in fact ‘done the deed’ I was only at the very beginning of my sexual discovery.  Seven years later and I still had a lot to discover (but I couldn’t imagine at the time!)

In those single seven years I was searching, yearning and fixated on finding the one.  Yes I had some of the best experiences – working as a holiday rep – backpacking Australia – Festivals – Girls’ Holidays and a crazy amount of nights out with no concerns of lack of sleep!  I found a new group of single BFFs and loved my independent self.  I would have occasional ‘Oh my god I live on my own’ moments (usually when in the shower) and in true Bridget Jones style I would fantasise about how long it would take someone to find my dead body eaten by Alsatians (I didn’t even have a dog) and I sat at home many, many times and cried as it felt like everyone else in the world was loved apart from me.

The Big Five

For years I fixated on achieving the ‘Big Five.’ I would often talk about achieving them all – but sadly more often than not was missing one or two. There were five things that I wanted in life.  Family/Friends, Home, Job, Health and Relationship.  In those seven years I never quite achieved the Big Five all at the same time.

  1. Family and friends – CHECK

I am very lucky to have such a support network. A great family and friends from all corners of my life. School, University and Work (One good thing came from Air miles!)  When I became single and returned from my travels I was somewhat left behind.  All of my coupled mates were still doing couplie things and I often wasn’t included.  I’m sure there was no malice but suddenly I didn’t have a place in that group.  So I forged a new path and this path took me to find my life long best friends.  My friends Post-break up have remained with me and will do for life.  As cliché and cheesy as it sounds they have been there through thick and thin and to blatantly steal a line from SATC they are my true soul mates.  Man or no man, with these girls by my side I am always truly loved.

2. Home – CHECK

I had a lovely home.  I had a mortgage and a trendy modern apartment. It was mine and I loved it.  Friends came and stayed, many a drunken night with the didgeridoo, musical sticks and occasional naked dancing were on the cards.  It was where I spent time with my good friends the Gilmore Girls, Carrie and the SATC gang and the Desperate Housewives.  These TV programmes got me through some significant life moments and I honestly couldn’t have coped alone without them.  SATC was my therapy, Gilmore Girls helped my loneliness and DP (Desperate Housewives) was my escapism.  Not forgetting of course continual re-runs of Friends!

3. Job – CHECK

Job wise I was on the up and up. In those seven years I went from working in a call centre to working abroad to training to be a teacher.  I retrained whilst paying a solo mortgage and it’s the best thing I ever did!  I was promoted in my second year of teaching and paved a very successful career.  So there is a massive tick next to the job box! I had never wanted a baby young and always wanted to ‘do well’ in my career and I can safely say that I have done this!

So I was happy at work, socially and in a lovely home… but there were two major ticks missing off my checklist.

4. Health – UNCHECK

At the age of 23 I slipped a disc in my lower back.  Although I recovered after about 6 months, this was the beginning of eight years of back problems. From 2002 – 2010 I was plagued with chronic pain.  I slipped the disc countless times – every which way possible – had months off sick and treatments that involved key hole surgery, an invasive epidural and ultimately major surgery to replace two discs in my spine.

It’s to safe to say that my bad back defined my life.  People still ask me how my back is, as it was the epitome of who I was for those years.  After the first slip it came back with a vengeance in 2006 and those subsequent four years were the worst.

At times it felt that I would never break the shackles of the pain that gripped me 24 hours a day.

Pain. It’s a bastard.  It’s also invisible and it is so hard to live an invisible illness.

Screaming with agony on the commute to work, spraying deep heat continually, blowing up heat packs in the microwave as I couldn’t get them hot enough to take the pain away.

Waking paralysed with pain on a daily basis.  Having to wake 2 hours before I was due to get up to take pain killers that allowed me to live some sort of a life.

The time I took off sick caused so much additional pain.  The stress and worry of work, the paranoia and guilt from being off.  The denial until I was at the point where I couldn’t stand up to the acceptance that I had to give in and rest.

The days where I couldn’t bend down to put clothes in the washing machine.  The times that I couldn’t get off the sofa and used the didgeridoo as a waking stick.  The morning I was paralysed with pain and couldn’t move and had to take painkillers with cold tea.  The times I cried with pain, frustration and despair.

These are the invisible moments.

I lived an invisible existence.  Everyone knew I was in pain, but no-one knew. No-one knew until someone did and then he took advantage of my vulnerability.  But that’s another story!

5. Relationship – UNCHECK/CHECK/UNCHECK/CHECK/UNCHECK…. Argghhh I give up!

I don’t need to spell this one out.  This is the one of the Big Five that I was looking for and failing to find for those seven years.  In a nut shell … Seven years Single = Six Single Christmases. 15 months in several failed relationships. Two broken hearts. Bunk-ups at Festivals (complete with Wellies still on) Holiday flings, Fag machine snogs and Rotters.  That pretty much sums up those seven years.

Looking back, there is somewhat of a correlation of Bad back flare ups with Relationships… perhaps being single was in fact better for me. I don’t think that it is any coincidence that my major flare up in 2006 and another in 2009 were around the time that I entered a relationship! A bit of back pain wasn’t going to stop me enjoying myself, but perhaps if I’d stayed celibate I’d have been better off!

So I ended my Seven-Years-Single with a lot of lessons learned, a heart that had loved and lost, a mind that had been expanded and a soul that knew I was going to be ok.

Life kickstarts at 30

At 30 I met the one – or in fact the lastest ‘the one’ in a long line of ‘the ones’!  But this was the one that I was to marry!  My back was at its worst. I was on the rebound from my last failed relationship and I was taking a ridiculous amount of drugs.  My heart was laid bare yet again ready to love.  But this time it was tricked, manipulated and this took me on to the journey that made me who I am today.

In the last seven years having been married, divorced; I finally stopped looking for ‘the one’  I accepted that I didn’t need ‘The Big Five’ to be happy.  I was happy with myself.  To again quote SATC “The greatest relationship of all is the one you have with yourself, and if you find someone to love the you that you love… well that’s just fabulous.”

And here I am.  Happy and healthy in a four year relationship with a baby and a step son, working part time and I couldn’t be happier.  Emilie has made my life complete.  A line that keeps running round my head at the moment is Robbie’s new song “about his children… “I started to question the angels, and the answer they gave was you.”

So there we have it… the Big Five pieces have all worked themselves out.  I suppose that they were always there, I just hadn’t had time to put the jigsaw together fully.


Let it go… we’ve been Frozened 

My 16 month old has been FROZENED against my will! 

She loves singing and we have had Disney Junior on none stop since she could sit up but I have avoided Frozen. For a reason.  

The Frozen mania seems to be a subliminal brainwashing. We went to Disneyland Paris when Emilie was 9 weeks old and the Frozen hysteria was insane. 

At that time Emilie was less than impressed and spent her day vomiting and sleeping. Her piece de resistance was her double whammy poo and spew whilst we were wedged in the crowd waiting for the Disney parade!

About a month ago she saw a Frozen poster and went crazy. How? What? Why? 

So one day, I was all Peppa Pigged out and so I decided to pop the film on. She was like a moth to the flame. Dancing and humming to the tune. Already drawn into the mystique and magic of Anna and Elsa. There was no going back. But how? Is there some truth in the subliminal brainwashing that I’ve heard parents talk about??

A few days later I dropped her off at nursery to be greeted by ‘Let it Go’ being blasted and everyone singing along. ”Oh yeah we listen to it every day!” I was told… much to my dismay. 

So that explains it. 

The next day I put it on again and she was singing ‘Let it go’ at the top of her voice. 16 Months old and singing ‘Let it go!’ Yes it is cute. And she hasn’t stopped since!

I have been a Disney fan all my life and so I’m not sure why I was avoiding Frozen. Partly I didn’t want to be sucked into the commercial mania but I’ve seen it first hand now and will have to just ‘let it go’. She officially loves it. 

Yesterday we took her to see Frozen Disney on Ice. She loved it. (So did I). Yes it was commercial and a money making extravaganza (£8 for a helium balloon… we didn’t buy one) but it was one of the highlights of my motherhood journey so far. 

She is 17 months now and the pure joy and excitement on her face when she saw Mickey and Minnie was almost as exhilarating as the first moment she was placed in my arms. I cried seeing her so happy. 

She loved Olaf and laughed every time he was on and she was literally star struck in a trance when Elsa was singing ‘Let it go’. She blasted out one line in unison but then sat transfixed. 

It is so easy to moan about motherhood. The sleepless nights, the sickness, the whinging and crying. But all of that paled into insignificance when I saw the look of amazement and pure joy on her face. 

She looked beautiful in her little Anna dress and I was so excited to dress her up. Amongst a sea of Elsas she stood out as easily the youngest Anna. (My mum bought her the dress from Florida this year!) She twirled and spun and laughed and was just so happy. 

It was also a special moment to experience this with my mum too. Emilie loves Nannie and for the three of us to be together it was really special. Often mum has Emilie on her own and it is actually rare that the three of us are together so it was just perfect. 

We enjoyed overpriced popcorn and hotdogs… danced along to the snowman dance. Waved to all of our own childhood favourites and for that few hours I believed they were real too!

Roll on Disneyworld!!!! 

10 ways you know you’ve been on a Mummy night out…

1) You have nothing to wear…

…and I mean NOTHING. Not like the old days when nothing meant you refused to wear the three dresses, tops and skirts in your wardrobe as you’d been seen out in them once already (god forbid twice) and with the Facebook revolution a different group of friends could no longer warrant the same outfit. 

No I mean NOTHING. That is nothing that  doesn’t have a chalky, milky sludge on the shoulder or a patch of snot on the sleeve. 

Your choice basically consists of a bobbly pair of leggings crusted with last week’s yoghurt and a non descript baggy dress (which never had any shape) or your jeans- urm jeggings and a top. 

When you finally treat yourself to a new outfit.  Be warned… avoid all contact with small snot festering – vomit blasting children and check shoes for rogue stickers!

2) You accidentally turn into a Pumpkin at midnight…

Ok you’ve not been out for a while and the build up has been months… yet you still only end up with about 45 mins without baby to get ready. 

As it’s a big occasion you bring out the fake tan to really make an effort. It’s an hour before you’re due to go out and you slap on the tan… the last night you went out was… urm June (weeps) and in your planning you’ve forgotten that the tan is gradual building. Meaning that you will look like David Dickinson by 10pm and never mind meeting Prince Charming… you’ll be the Pumpkin by midnight!

3) You pull on your Bridgets

No Mum’s night out will be complete without a pair of good olde Bridget Knickers. Even if you spend the night pulling them out of your arse and rolling them up and down over various tyres!

Nice treat for your other half when he finds them on the bathroom floor though!

4) One Mum always drives…

…if you are lucky enough to get a lift then jump at the chance. 

That is of course unless said Mum has forgotten to remove the car seat. Cue the smallest Mum being bullied into sitting on top of the ISOFIX base. (Ouch)

Make sure you shout ‘Shot Gun!’ And buckle up!

5) There is plenty of ‘Mum dancing’

Yes there will be dancing round handbags. There will be walking to the dance floor dancing and there will be the good olde side to side Mum dance. 

But after a few too many proseccos don’t be surprised to witness a collection of Jives, Electric Slides and Vogue! 

6) You are definitely off the pull

It’s been a long time since you’ve been out looking this good and so it’s hard to remember what a harmless flirt feels like. You are quite excited at the thought…

That is until you realise that you are surrounded by women of a certain age on works dos with the token male. The only hunk being the DJ who you excitedly remember from Hollyoaks – although he appears to have spent his 15 minutes of fame fortune on steroids and vest tops!

7) There is a selection of Big coats & Umbrellas

Back in the day you would have gone out wearing next to nothing in all weathers. Now the thought of stepping out of the house without your big coat is preposterous. 

It says a lot when your other half and the taxi driver both find the big coat laughable, despite its obvious practical usage!

And of course don’t forget your brolly! In all my years of going out this has to be the most useful brolly I’ve had and one I will definitely not lose… Ladies I give you the Umbrella Hip Flask. 

8) You play Mummy Olympics for at least part of the night…

I thought a group of teachers together on a night out is bad… turns out Mums are worse. 

The uncontrollable need to talk about all things baby takes over and before you know it you are (yet again) comparing notes and sharing horror and praise stories alike. 

We received Awards for:

Most Talkative Baby and Worst Sleeper!

9) It takes double the time to recover… and some… 

At the time staying out til 1am seems wild and radical. You are proud of your achievement yet acutely aware that you will majorly regret it!

Back in your youth 1am was depressingly early and yet here you are Living la Vida Loca eating cheese on toast and watching Emmerdale with a cup of decaf tea (couldn’t possibly have caffeine that time) and stumbling into bed at 2am and feeling very smug about it. 

Of course your champion Sleep Thief has a treat in store for you the next day consisting of a horrific day and night of teething, whinging and vomit. Oh joy.

10) You wonder if it was worth it…

You had a great time and have loved reading the ‘You look fab’ comments on Facebook. But as you sit and sob in Toby Carvery due to your sleep deprived/two day hungover state you can’t help but wonder if it was worth it. 

Ah well, don’t worry it’s bound to be another six months until you go out again… plenty of time to forget. And she’ll be sleeping by then! Won’t she?

Just try to sort your fake tan out next time!

Cheers to all the mums out there and not forgetting the dads picking up the early shift!

Blogfest, Boots and Body Image. 


On Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 and for once it wasn’t because of the baby! I was up bright and early to travel to London for Blogfest16. 

For me, comfortable trumps trend and so I pulled on my trusty jeans, new stripy jumper (so en trend The Unmumsy Mum was wearing stripes don’t you know!) and slipped my foot into my knee high boot. My shiny ‘kinky’ PVC boots. I pulled up the zipper and the boot slipped nicely into place. Wait a minute. The boot fit? Yes. In true Cinderella style the zip happily travelled to its destination and fit like a glove.  

These are the boots that I bought two years ago and have never been able to fit my healthy calves into. And now they fit! 

I have been on the Slimming World Food Optimising Plan for two months and suddenly I am starting to feel the difference. I have lost 1 1/2 stone and I am feeling good. 

I’ve not been properly on a diet for five years. I’ve had a few fad weeks here and there on various milkshake diets but I haven’t committed to a full change of lifestyle for a long time. 

My weight has yo-yoed for years. In the last five years it has steadily increased and since having the baby (despite losing weight when pregnant) I had reached my all time highest weight and dress size. But I didn’t care. I was happy within myself and let’s face it I was trying to survive motherhood and the reflux demon and so Kit-Kats became a staple and the ultimate low was pizza for breakfast – not left over – I actually cooked a pizza at 7am. Bad times. 

For years I was the fat friend. My friends never called me this, but the feeling was palpable. I was always aware on holidays and nights out that I was the fat one. Lads always chatted up my mates and I would never have true confidence to set my sights on someone and say, ‘He’s mine.’ I laughed and smiled and had fun. But I always felt it. Yes I had my fair share of flings, snogs, one night stands and boyfriends yet I never felt that I was good enough because of my size. The compliments get forgotten but the negatives live on. 

I was single on and off for seven years. And always ended up single at Christmas. Seven single Christmases. Decorating the tree alone. Watching ‘The Holiday’ and fantasising about a wild romance. I always had amazing friends and family but my body image always had a shadow over me and I think was a massive part of why I was single for so long. 

In 2008 I lost weight. I felt amazing. I was a trim size 14. No size 0 but I was VERY happy in that body. My body image changed. I was more confident. 

I don’t think it’s fair to say that you have to be slim to be confident; I know people who are tiny and have rock bottom self confidence and negative body images. But for me losing the weight changed my mindset. Along with a change in hair colour I set out to find out if indeed Red heads have more fun. 

That year I met someone and fell in love. A whirlwind. Excitement, fun, love and a new relationship. It was just what I needed. I was slim, happy and in love. 

Fast forward six months and I had put most of the weight back on. He spent most of his time in the pub and so I’d joined a world of weekend binges on pints, rugby and takeaways. I thought I was happy. Looking back I wasn’t. I was yearning for it to be right. I wanted to meet the one and I made the great mistake of spending way too much time with him and in order to do that sacrificing time with my friends. 

That year I was turning 30. Perhaps a midlife crisis. I went to NYC with three friends and we basically played out ‘Sex and the City’ for the week. Whilst I was there I bought an amazing new dress. But I needed to lose weight for my party. I crash dieted for three weeks and lost 10lb. I fit into the dress and felt fabulous. 

 He didn’t compliment me once. 

I looked amazing but I let his lack of a compliment affect my confidence. 

A few months later the weight was back on. We were sat in a pub half cut and ready for takeaway, taxi and home. I can’t say that I can fully remember the conversation but somehow we ended up rowing in the stupid, drunken way that you do. He looked at me with disgust and called me, ‘A fat bitch.’  

My Achilles heel being used against me by the one I claimed to love. 

He called me fat several times. Would allude to my weight and mention it more than he should. Eventually I took control of my life and my own self worth and ended the relationship.

Now at the age of 37 I have a different view. Almost to the extreme. For years I wanted to be slim to meet someone. But then I met someone who loved me for me; who loved my body. I became complacent. I was so happy with my body image and felt empowered, yet there was still part of me that wanted to change it.   

This year we went on a family holiday with a large group. There were lots of girls who were very slim and all much slimmer than me. I didn’t lose a pound in the lead up to the holiday. The baby was 8 months old and I was carrying a paunch but I wore a bikini and I was happy. To begin with a felt a little self conscious but soon I didn’t care. 

So why now? Why lose weight now? Because now is the right time for me. I am not doing it for anyone else. It’s not for a holiday or a partner or to go on the pull it is for me. To try and improve the longevity of my life with my little girl, to ease the aches and pains in my knees and ankles and let’s face it a night away from tea time and bed time once a week is well worth a fiver!

So in response to the Be Real Body Image campaign I say be who you are for you. Be happy in your own skin and if you are not, then only consult yourself in that decision; doing it for other people won’t make you happy and more than likely won’t last!

On Saturday at Blogfest, I met loads of fabulous and inspiring women of all shapes and sizes. The overriding theme of the day for me was confidence and the power that blogging can give to you. 

Meeting the lovely people from Dove and looking at myself in the long mirror made me realise just how happy I am in my own skin now.  I have a baby, I’m approaching 40 and I still want to lose more weight, but I am strong, confident and I like who I see in the mirror.

 So I said cheers to that with lots of free cocktails and prosecco and somehow still lost 3lb that week!

“I created this post as a competition entry in support of Dove and the Be Real Body Image Pledge.”

Packing Traumas aka Getting ready to give birth!

Anyone that knows me well will know that I get very stressed out when it comes to packing to go on holiday! No matter how excited I am or how much I want to go, the thought of packing almost makes me want to cancel! This has been a long standing joke with a close friend of mine.  I wrote this letter for her a few months ago via the blog  This is my take on how waiting for the birth of your baby is only as bad as packing a suitcase…. hmmmm

Dear Mum-to-be

You are going through the biggest packing trauma of your life. I know you put a lot of thought into booking the holiday… the holiday of a lifetime.  You have been so excited, but now with the departure date looming there’s part of you that just doesn’t want to go.

It’s a holiday you’ve always wanted to go on and you’re going with your Mr Perfect, but even so it just all seems too much.

The preparation.  Getting everything together, shopping, washing, ironing and the dreaded packing.  Yes we know they have shops there but there is part of you that feels that you have to pack every last thing just in case. How would you survive without deodorant, a sun hat and God forbid tea bags?

Then there’s the flight to worry about. Your first ever flight. Off into the unknown with no way of knowing what it will be like.

You’ve never liked the thought of flying but you somehow convinced yourself it would be fine. But now here you are… About to step foot onto a flight for the very first time and you have no idea if you will make it off alive. There could be turbulence, sickness, claustrophobia and the worst… The plane could go down… and it’s all out of your control. Yes, you are a control freak and for the duration of that flight the control has gone. You just have to trust the pilot and the crew and hold your husband’s hand and know that eventually you will land safely and step off into the sunshine.

That’s what will keep you going. The thought of the sunshine.

That’s why you’ve put yourself through months of stressing and sleepless nights. That’s why you will endure a god awful uncomfortable flight with crap food and no sky TV. That’s why you’ll get your head down and just get your sorting and packing done. Who cares if it’s not ironed? Who cares if you forget your toothbrush… Shops do exist in this unknown territory. (But I know you can’t allow yourself to be like this!)

I also know that you feel like once you get there you will never be able to return home. You feel like you are saying goodbye to your life forever. Your whole life is in a suitcase and you will never come back. But you will. And after this adventure you will return with much more than you left with.  This time you will bring the sunshine home with you and your lives (although not always a holiday) will be filled with excitement and new adventures everyday.

So try not to stress too much about packing. Think of the sunshine at the end of the flight and that will get you through the pain. And don’t forget… They serve alcohol on the flight so have plenty… You’re gonna need it!!

Happy holidays. I can’t wait to see you when you get back and hear all about it and I know you will bring back the best souvenir ever!


Much love

Another Mum who is enjoying the sunshine but missing the peace and quiet!

Back to work with a cough, sick and a sprain 

ready for nursery

So we have nearly survived our first half term at school and nursery (yes it is nearly the holidays again!) After the fun and madness of the summer with a walking-strike, attention seeking baby, I was more than happy to get back to work.  I was looking forward to getting into some sort of routine, but oh god did I underestimate how difficult that would be.  We have been thwarted by illness, accidents and of course vomit! Here is a run down of our last six weeks.

Toddling to the Doctors

Emilie was on walk-strike for seven weeks so now that she can finally walk it is a relief – but we have now moved onto the ‘Toddler days’ and a whole load of other parental tests!

In the last six weeks we have been to the Doctors at least ten times, along side a trip to A&E via Ambulance and another referral to physio! Daddy also didn’t want to miss out and threw himself out of his truck leading to another trip to A&E.

Going to the Doctors with a now walking Toddler is a test of anyone’s patience.  Emilie loves running around the waiting room and saying ‘Hiya’ to every other patient and raiding the leaflets so that she can read her ‘bocks’.  We are practically on first name terms with the pharmacy staff and we have our own seat in the waiting room!  She can no longer be left in her pram as she arches her back shouting ‘wokwok’ and cannot stand to be strapped in as she gets ‘duck’.  So far we haven’t had any melt downs but I definitely know we have been there too often when she pointed to the Doctor’s stethoscope then opened her mouth saying ‘Aargh’ without the doctor even checking her!

Walking Disaster

Anyone who knows me know that I should be wrapped in bubble wrap and that I can trip over nothing.  In the last two years I have had three referrals to physio, one being for whiplash caused by falling over my own feet.  The other being for a knee injury from falling over carrying the baby last year and yet again I have been referred for spraining my ankle walking out of the front door! Week 2 back at school and down I went like a sack of spuds.  Hobbling to work was not easy especially with a weighty toddler in tow!

Vomit Comet and the cough of death

Within two days of being at Nursery Emilie was ill with her first sicky bug.  We spent our first ‘days off’ together with her burning up, vomiting and clinging to me like a baby chimp.  This blog is evidence that I have mopped up a lot of sick but in that 24 hour period I literally couldn’t remember when I had seen so much sick.  I couldn’t move her without her retching.  The poor little mite had nothing left!

Less than a week later and the cough of death took over! Both of us were wracked with the cough and of course Emilie + cough = a whole load more sick. And yes I did see even more sick than I had seen the week earlier!

Itchy and Scratchy

My poor little mite’s croup and cough eventually turned into an ear infection and we were finally prescribed the magic ‘Banana Medicine’  the medicine from childhood that cures all! She loved it and would follow me round carrying the bottle chanting, ‘more, more, more’.  Fast forward 5 days and the infection was under control, my smiling baby was back complete with a rash from head to toe! Turns out she is allergic to Penicillin… back we went for our Thursday trip to the Doctors!

A week later and it was me covered in the itchiest of itchy rashes and yet another toddler tirade around the waiting room.  A 30 minute wait for the Doctor to tell me that she didn’t know what it was  and to tell me to take anti-histamines (which I was already taking aarrrgghh).  Thankfully she did give me a lovely lotion which has stopped me wanting to scratch my flesh off.  But I am still itching from head to toe and as we speak I am typing with one arms down my leggings!

I do feel slightly bad that I allowed my daughter to overhear a live sex show.  As Daddy was scratching my back I was enjoying it rather too much… that brush really hit the spot! In telling my friend and laughing that it sounded like a live sex show, Emilie pipes up from the back of the car, ‘Aaah aah aah’ OMG my one year old is making sex noises!

Mum Guilt v Work Guilt

In the last six weeks I have enjoyed being back at work so much.  I have loved having time to myself, to use my brain, to interact with the kids and to have a laugh and a chat with my colleagues.  Time off from being Mum… it is fabulous!  I also love my days off with Emilie – cuddles in bed, giggles and fun. Days out with friends, playdates, trips to the zoo and even the poorly cuddles.

What has been hard has been the guilt.  The guilt when leaving her hysterical at nursery, guilt when picking her up late as I had to stay at a meeting and Emilie has been crying since 4pm when all the other mums started to arrive.  The guilt of not seeing her at all on a Wednesday as I stay at work late, then go to Slimming World. (down 11 lb so far woop woop).

Then there is the Work guilt.  After teaching for ten years – nine of them as a Middle leader – I have only ever been a teacher with no other personal responsibilities.  I always put heart and soul into my job and that part of me hasn’t gone away.  I have always wanted to strive and work as hard as possible.  Leaving work early when I’d rather stay and get my work done has made me feel very torn.  But in all honesty, I am more than happy to be back in the rank of ‘teacher’.  No extra school responsibility, no extra meetings and no needing to prove myself other than in the classroom.

The ultimate battle of work guilt v mum guilt was when Emilie was ill.  I had to take the day off to look after her as she was too poorly to go to nursery.  I felt so guilty about work at first but then my mum instinct took over.  And then in the middle of mountains of sick and 40 degree temperatures and three days of no sleep OFSTED come knocking.  I had to choose and thankfully Daddy could take the day off as my work guilt was winning.  I somehow survived the day on no sleep and when I got home to my poorly baby I realised that she was no worse off without me.  Daddy was more than capable to sooth and look after her and so for once I pushed the mum guilt to one side and enjoyed being part of the team as we took on the dread OFSTED.

Part-time = perfect time

For the last six weeks despite the illness, accidents and this god forsaking rash, being a part time working Mum suits me perfectly.  I have time to teach which is what I love.  And I have four wonderful days being a Mummy.  What has slipped has been my blog.  I have no where near as much free time and now have the joyous never ending piles of marking and so I will have to strive even harder to spin all of the plates of my life.

Happy Blogiversary to me

This time last year I bravely published my first ever Blog post ‘Hitting the Bottle’.  At the time I was just about surviving in a smog of sick and milk.  I was finding being a new mummy  exhilarating and exhausting, delightful and depressing in equal measure.

Having not written for over 12 years I had finally plucked up the courage to write.  And how glad I am that I did.

As you will know I am a 35 year old English teacher and new Mum to Emilie Rose born in June 2015 and step-mum to Connor who is 7. After many years of singledom, failed relationships and masses of fun with friends in between I have found my little family with Dan and couldn’t be happier. But after all those years of pleasing myself, striving for work promotions – working hard and playing hard – suddenly the reality of motherhood is somewhat of a shock to the system. This is the blog of how I move from career headed to mother headed and all the fun along the way.

The Blog has taken me on a journey and although not exactly what I originally had in mind I have found that the blog has healed me in many ways.  It helped me to deal with the anxieties and questions linked with being a new mum, made me be honest with myself about what Iwas finding  difficult and much to my surprise created some very postive reactions from readers.  To receive such positive feedback on my writing was so uplifting. 

Being told that my writing is funny, hilarious, emotional and takes other people on a journey is more than I could have hoped for.  I haven’t hit the big time, gone viral or joined the ‘Super-blog-mum’ ranks, but what I write is primarily for me and so if my writing touches even one other person then that is successful.

This year I have:

Spewzilla    vlog


All of this is alongside bringing up my baby, returning to teaching and surviving on broken sleep as the baby still doesn’t sleep through!

Needless to say, I am pretty pleased with myself.  I still have lots more ideas and inspiration, unfortunatley the older the baby gets, the more limited my time becomes.  Long gone are the days when she would sleep in the bouncer and I could indulge in my blog.  But thankfully gone are the countless sick stories as the Reflux has cleared.  (Although we did have 12 hour sickness bug this weekend so we’ve not hung up our muslins just yet!)

Today I attended a literary festival #Gladfest16 at Gladstone’s Library.  It was a truly inspiring day.  It took me back to my University days, listening to lectures on Dystopian/Apocolyptic fiction and Flash Fiction.  Hearing authors talk about their latest novels gave me the buzz and even stronger desire to fulfill my life long ambition to write a novel.  

But what to write? 

That is the question.  Do I continue my journey through ‘The Little Book of Sick’ or do I return to my first love of fiction?

So here I am.  A mother, teacher and writer.  Thank goodness I found my words and thank goodness I had to guts to write them.

Happy Blogiversary to me.



Is she sleeping through yet…? Are you having another…?

This blog was originally written for my regular spot as a member of the Blog Squad for Check out the website.


13 months in and I can count on one hand the amount of times she has slept through the night.

I wrongly assumed that she’d be sleeping by now.  My Mum and mum-in-law assured me that we were sleeping through by six weeks and so I was convinced that my baby would be the same… sadly not.  Of all the things that I have had to adapt and deal with the hardest thing has had to be the lack of sleep.  I remember when she was five and a half weeks old and saying to my other half, “Everyone said she’d be sleeping through by about six week…”  Well here we are over a year in and she still wakes at least twice a night.

 The Night time cuddle

I secretly like getting up with her.  Now she is so big and crawling and on the go non-stop that I never get her still.  She doesn’t snuggle and lie in my arms any more. She is ready to worm her way off at any opportunity.  But at night she is all mine.  She wakes; I scoop her up and kiss her head.  She has some of her bottle and then we have our little routine.  She turns and snuggles into my chest, we have a little cuddle and then she goes back down to sleep.  When she was tiny I used to cradle her in my arms, then I could balance her on one arm, soon she was propping up on me and now she turns, straddles me and rests her head in my chest.  It is our special time and I love it.  I kiss her head, tell her I love her and she murmurs off to sleep.  I only hold her for a few minutes, but no matter how tired I am I have that special minute with her, as one of these days she will sleep through and I may not get my special moment again.

But surely she will sleep through soon… won’t she?

The Night Vom

Since the Reflux moved on and we started to live normal sick-free life the day to day has become so much easier.  No more endless changes of clothes and the washing pile has reduced substantially.  However every now and again night time stealth voms still takes me by surprise.  Twice in the last few weeks I have been attacked by a vom attack in the middle of the night.  Both times during the heatwave so sleeping au natural… hmm lovely.

Thirsty, hungry or habit?

Every night when she wakes she wants her bottle.  No matter how much she eats and drinks in the day I cannot get her off her night-time bottles.  What am I doing wrong? Everyone seems to have words of wisdom but I don’t seem to be getting anywhere.  Water is shoved out of my hand… I can’t just ease her off with a dummy and so the quickest and easiest option is to give her a quick bottle and then she goes straight back down to sleep.  If I was breastfeeding it wouldn’t be seen as unusual so why do I feel like a failure?

She just loves her bottle.  That’s the main thing.  She enjoys her bottles and soon slips back off to sleep.  Surely if she is happy and content then giving her a bottle in the night can’t be doing her any harm.  Of course I’d love to get a straight 10 hours (who am I kidding, I’d settle for 8) but she goes down to sleep easily and wakes up at a reasonable hour most days.  I don’t think I could hack 5am starts so for now a few night time get up and a sleep in til 7/8 ish and I am functioning fine.

God help me when I go back to work though!

If you have any tips or advice on how to get her to start sleeping through I’d love to hear them.