Friday, 29 April 2011

An unexpected blog post about THAT wedding.

Image from BBC News
I've surprised myself today by really enjoying the TV coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. If I'm honest I've been claiming detached interest based on my daughters' desire to watch it and the fact that it was going to be a moment in history, but in fact they didn't show any real interest in it at all. Tall Daughter even left the room to take a shower halfway through the ceremony!

I've spend most of the morning explaining royal protocol to my girlies (who knew I was such an expert?) and telling them who's who. And this is the sort of occasion when Twitter really come into its own with the stream of witty and interesting comments and I love it. But mainly I've been enjoying the spectacle and pageantry that Britain does so well, and getting choked up when Kate was walking down the aisle with her dad.

I'm not a royalist, far from it, but William and Kate do appear to be deeply in love and I wish them a long and happy marriage. It's almost made me believe once again in true love.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Things I have said to my daughters this week

No, I don't know where your PE shorts/French book/phone/hairbrush/shoes are.

You have to eat some breakfast. A doughnut isn't a healthy option is it? Not even with a glass of orange juice.

I'm leaving in 5 minutes. I'm not waiting for you. I'm going. This is me going out to the car. Oh, for goodness sake get in the car!

Can I have the laptop I have some work to do. What do you mean blogging/Facebook/Twitter isn't work?

Love you, have a great day!

Hi, sweetie, how was your day? Really, that bad?

Can someone set the table please? Is anyone listening to me? Anyone?

How are we supposed to eat without cutlery?

Why aren't you eating your dinner? You liked it last time I cooked it. Yes, it's the same meal. No, you're not allergic to chicken/broccoli/cabbage.

Whose turn is it to unload the dishwasher? Anybody?

Pick up that wet towel off the floor. Who put the wet towel on the banister? Why is there a wet towel on the sofa? STOP LEAVING WET TOWELS ON MY BED!

No, I don't know why your Dad would say that. I don't know why anyone would say it.

Why is there straw in my bedroom? You know the guinea pigs are not allowed on the sofa/bed/table.

Yes, she's a cute guinea pig. No, we can't get any more.

No, I don't think you have swine flu/pneumonia/leprosy. I'm sure you'll be ok to go to school tomorrow.

You have to be in by 9pm. I don't care what your friends are allowed to do. I'm sure their parents are cool too. Yes, I'm evil but I can live with it.

Have you done your homework? Why have you left it so late to do it? No, I'm not going to write a note for your teacher to say that you had an important family occasion and couldn't do it. Yes, I'm a horrible mum.

The lovely Susie from New Day, New Lesson reminded me of this fantastic Mum Song, which will have you laughing in recognition.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Clues that my children are not babies anymore...

...the playhouse at the bottom of the garden has fallen into disrepair and is no longer filled with happy, giggly girls playing house,
...the garden swings were dismantled a couple of years ago,
...there's a bag of bath toys at the back of the airing cupboard that haven't been played with for a long, long time.
...CBeebies is a thing of the distant past and we don't do bedtime stories anymore
...I no longer choose their clothes (because I have no idea about fashion)
...I have to hide my razors and shaving foam from teenage thieves daughters
....boys have started to appear on the radar
...sometimes, at the weekends, the Teenager goes to bed later than me.
...the Teenager takes the same size shoe as me, baby girl is going to be at secondary school in September.
 ..I now know that the well-worn cliche about children growing up too fast is true.

Is it just me who dreads their children growing up?

Monday, 11 April 2011

I'm going to Cybermummy thanks to Kellogg's!

I'm absolutely delighted to announce that Kellogg's is my fabulous sponsor for the Cybermummy 2011 conference. I've been bursting to tell you for weeks now but I've been sworn to secrecy while some finer details were finalised.

Not so long ago I was lucky enough to be invited to Kellogg's in Manchester to take part in their very enjoyable Snap, Crackle and Blog event. We had a fun and informative day learning about the importance of a good breakfast, making our own cereal and designing our own cereal boxes.  And if that wasn't enough I cornered one of the lovely Kellogg's people and asked about sponsorship! I got a tad overexcited when he made a verbal agreement to sponsor me, and I vaguely remember some squealing, a bit of air punching and finally bear-hugging the poor man who then quickly backed off and kept me at arm's length for the rest of the day. (Sorry Paul!)

We learned the shocking fact that 1 in 6 children go to school
 without having breakfast

Anyway, I'm pleased to say that didn't put them off and here they are, my sponsors! I couldn't have found a more perfect sponsor than Kellogg's to be honest, as I am The Cereal Queen.  I buy boxes and boxes of cereal to give my girls a good choice of breakfast in the mornings because I'm with Kellogg's on this one, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And, since childhood, my breakfast of choice has always been a bowl of cereal.  I like to think that all those years of the calcium enriched cereal and milk has given me good strong bones and I was cheered to read about a recent study by King's College in London that found that women who regularly have cereal with milk for breakfast are 36% less likely to experience osteoporosis.

Kellogg's is also generously sponsoring 3 other bloggers to go to Cybermummy which is absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to find out who they are! There's also a new website from Kellogg's called What's on for Mum where you'll find competitions, news and nutritional information galore. Go on, take a look!

In the meantime, I've already bought my ticket for Cybermummy, booked my hotel room and am now in a total panic about what to wear! See you there!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Introducing notSupermum Reviews

I'd been blogging for a couple of years before I was asked to review a product. To be fair I used to think there was a catch, y'know, like you had to sell your soul to the devil or something in return for free goodies from PR agencies. But so far, so good.

The fact is....I like doing reviews. There. I've said it.

Sometimes it's felt like a dirty little secret of mine, the fact I like doing them, because I've read quite a bit over the last couple of years about how some bloggers don't like to do them or read them. And that's fine, I completely understand that but from my point of view it's an added bonus to be offered products, services and the occasional trip in return for a few words on my blog. And to be blunt, as a single parent sometimes those extra things make a big difference to us.

In the early days I did accept some goods that I wouldn't now, but at the time I was so flattered to be asked to review anything that I pretty much accepted whatever was going.  Nowadays though, I'm more choosy about what I blog about which is just as well because there's a lot more on offer. And because I don't want to flood my everyday blog with reviews I've started a parallel blog, notSupermum Reviews,  and most of my reviews will be on there from now on.

And talking of parallel things, if you pop over now I've got two copies Coraline up for grabs - the film is about a girl who goes through a door to a parallel universe, you just have to answer a simple question to be in with a chance to win. Go on, have a go - you know you want to.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Competition: Win a Birds Of Prey masterclass at Camelot Theme Park

I've been contacted by Camelot Theme Park in Chorley, Lancashire, who want to offer one lucky child the chance to win a sneak preview of their new birds of prey attraction. Ten children from across the region will spend an exclusive hour on the first day of the 2011 season, 9th April (that's this Saturday folks!) learning about these impressive animals and I've got one masterclass place to giveaway today.  Not only that, the child and their family will then be able to spend the rest of the day at Camelot.

The ‘Can you handle it’ masterclass is suitable for children aged from 5 to 15 and offers the opportunity to get close to owls, eagles, kestrels and hawks. The lucky winner will receive expert training on how to handle the feathered friends and basic flying tuition.

I also have five runners up prizes of Camelot family theme park tickets worth £70 each to be used at any time during the season running from April to September – so what are you waiting for! To be in with a chance of winning simply leave a comment below with the answer to this question: 

According to legend which King lived at Camelot? (easy, peasy lemon squeezy!)

You need to get your answer in for the masterclass ticket by 11am on Thursday 7th April (that's tomorrow) when the winner's name will be chosen at random. Winners of the family passes will be chosen on Sunday 10th April.   Please state which prize you would like to win. Good luck!

Update: The winner of the Birds of Prey Masterclass was drawn today 7th April and is OneHealthyMomma. The draw for the remaining 5 family passes is still open until Sunday so still time to enter!

Update: The winners of the family passes are Dan Hughes, Prolly7, Debrasemple, LSmith, Wendy Stanger. Please let me have your addresses and Camelot will send the passes out to you.

Camelot’s season runs from April 9 until September 4, 2011. For all opening dates and times please visit or call 0871 663 6400.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Q & A

The completely fabulous Mrs Lister has tasked me with answering the questions from the Q & A in the weekend Guardian Magazine, so here goes.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Is it bad that I can't think of a specific person? I admire lots of different people, mostly woman who manage to pack so much into their lives or cope fabulously well at being single parents, although I also admire some of my friends who are married and are still happily together after 10, 15, 20+ years.

When were you happiest
On my wedding day.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
A couple of years ago I tripped on the pavement outside my house and was propelled onto the (busy) road. Within seconds I was surrounded by a large crowd of onlookers, motorists who'd stopped to help (I was lucky not to be run over) and neighbours who had spied me lying there, unable to move. Embarrassing and painful.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
A painting, and no I'm not going to say how much it cost!

What is your most treasured possession?
A letter written by my brother shortly before he died.

Where would you like to live?
By the sea....the lure of the sea is very strong.

What’s your favourite smell?
It's either vanilla, or the smell of a freshly bathed baby.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Hattie Jacques. Yeah, ok I know she's dead but nobody's really going to make a film about me are they?

What is your favourite book?
The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton. I have very happy memories of reading a chapter a night to my girls when they were small, and they would get so excited about the next installment.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I'm extremely impatient. Extremely.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
It would have to be Wonder Woman, I fancy wearing those big knickers and the tiara.

What is your earliest memory?
Sitting on the white, wooden gate in the front garden waiting for my brothers to come home from school. I must have been about 3.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I love watching The Real Housewives of New York and Atlanta. Fabulously voyeuristic stuff.

What do you owe your parents?
A lot. Especially my Mum.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Can't think of anyone to be honest, although that doesn't mean there aren't lots of people waiting for an apology....

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My two beautiful daughters.

What does love feel like?
Warm and fuzzy.

What was the best kiss of your life?
Bloody hell, I can't remember one. How sad is that?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Am I talking to myself?" or "Oh for goodness sake!"

What is the worst job you’ve done?
I used to be an au-pair in Germany and the woman I worked for treated me like a slave.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Nowt. Not even the bad stuff.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Once, in 1997 I was so ill I thought I was going to die. Fortunately it was just the hangover from hell (don't snigger) really I was so bad I couldn't even lift my head off the pillow. I've haven't been that drunk since.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My girls. No question.

When did you last cry, and why?
On Mother's Day when I read the messages in the cards my girlies had made for me.

How do you relax?
A glass of wine, a packet of crisps and a good film. I'm low maintenance, me.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

Oooh, and I get to tag some more people:
Rosie Scribble
Kat at 3 Bedroom Bungalow
Kelly at Writings and Ramblings
Chris at Thinly Spread
Nickie from Typecast

Monday, 4 April 2011

Why do some families fare better at marriage than others?

Not so long ago I went to my Auntie Lizzy's funeral. She was an amazing woman - always a real live wire and a funny woman, but the most incredible thing about her was that she had 16 children. Yep, 16..count 'em. Whereas I come from a relatively small family of just 6 children. You see, we're all part of a big Liverpool/Irish catholic family and that sort of thing wasn't that unusual a few years ago.

When we were little and went to their house it was always packed to the gunnels with people and that was just the family! Nobody had their own room, they all shared everything, and they had relatively little but they all seemed happy enough.

Anyway, back to the funeral so to speak. It was the first time in years that I'd seen all 16 of my cousins together and after spending the afternoon chatting with them I realised something unusual.  All 16 of my cousins, ranging in age from 42 to 64 were married and most had been so since their early 20s.  They had in fact all been married for somewhere between 21 and 42 years. There wasn't a single divorce or separation between them. Pretty unusual huh?

In contrast, in my family of six children, 3 have never married and the other 3 (me included) have been married once and later divorced.  Why is that? My own parents were very happily married for 53 years so we had good marriage role models, but none of us have managed it. I'm perplexed I really am.

It got me to wondering why this would be, and I thought about religion because there is one significant difference to the way our two families were raised. Auntie Lizzy and her husband, my Uncle Christy were very strict Catholics and raised their children as such. My parents were lapsed Catholics and although we went to church when we were smaller that was about it.  Can that be the difference? Or am I missing something?

Whatever reason it is, I'm fascinated by this. I'd be interested to know what you think the answer could be.