Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Adult only flights? I'm all for it!

I'm a few days late with this post, although according to a Reuters article published just a few hours ago, the popularity of 'adult only flights' is on the up.

It may come as a surprise, but I am all for this.

It's a tricky issue – I've been on both sides of the coin. Having once been a childless traveler myself, I can completely understand that a screaming/moaning/chair-kicking menace is the average flyer's worst nightmare.

However, on our return flight from Portugal last year I suffered life on the other side of the fence. Following severe delays to our flight and ill-preparation on my behalf in the way of drinks and in-flight snacks, I was met with a writhing and screeching delight of a child.

Contrary to many miserable-faced and loudly voiced opinions, I was not pinching my child for the pure satisfaction of letting him disturb our lovely experience of sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours.

(Another mother with a child in equal mid-tantrum mode told me an awe-inspiring story; a woman, as her child was screeching for dear life in her arms, was kindly asked by her fellow passenger to "control her child" (I presume by all extent that the mother until this point was provoking her daughter/son to ensure maximum "uncontrollable" behaviour) – her reaction to which was to hand her scoundrel of an offspring over to the stranger with the words: "you give it a go.")

Having experienced both dilemmas, I can assure you that flying childless was much more pleasurable than traveling with my pride and joy. And it is with this first-hand research that I have come to the conclusion that I would greatly enjoy enforcement of child-free flights, with just a few provisos....

  1. There is an alternative 'Kids flight' – I'm thinking childcare-trained, perhaps magician air stewards, in-flight ball ponds, non-stop CBBC and CBeebies channels – all of which you could pick your child up from at your destination point.
  2. I like this idea of a double-decker 'parents and kids upstairs, childless miseries downstairs' approach, but do I get a cheaper flight for being in the clamour of the cattle cabin?
  3. We put the kids in the cargo hold like we do beloved pets crossing the borders. Can we organise some kind of six-month quarantine too?
As a parent talking to the so-called "75% of business class passengers" who are "bothered by children", I don't like having a kid screaming in my ear and kicking me anymore than you do. I particularly don't like it when a person with my very own DNA is making such a racket in an enclosed environment and, even worse, strapped like a limpet to my lap (but by the way you giving me the death stare is making it 100% more bearable).

I will ask you this though: if we do start to omit children from your flight, what are you going to do about Mr "I've just landed so I had better let everyone in my phone's address book know immediately and preferably at the TOP OF MY VOICE because clearly texting just doesn't do the trick" and Mr "I got upgraded from economy and I am just ECSTATIC about it – wow, do I really get a napkin and proper Champagne? This is well nice."?

What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Beware of the Baby

Height: about 1ft 9in
Eyes: blue (and menacing)
Age: 1

Do not approach this child. 
He will attack for no apparent reason. 

Ok, so maybe the 'Wanted' poster is a bit much. But there is no denying that I am definitely getting bullied by a 1 year-old. 

Little O may well come across all sweet and innocent, but do not judge a book by its cover; this child throws a mighty punch. So much so that I am now an injured victim of his tirade of violence (I have a minor – but no less visible – scratch to the head). 

What makes his outbursts worse is the manner in which they unfold. Usually they are proceeded by a cuddle or a very dribbly kiss – a regular occurrence that I once loved and now dread. At other times, I may be enjoying a relaxing moment on the sofa when *BANG!* I'm hit in the head with a shoe/toy car/any other weapon he can get his podgy little hands on.

I am told this is yet another 'phase'. But I think this may well be my least favourite phase yet – even worse than the screaming like a girl in public phase (when he was according to the health visitor "finding his voice") and I disliked that phase immensely.  

I've tried telling off (he smiles and hits me again). I've tried sitting him by himself and walking away from him (he couldn't care less). I've even searched on the internet for solutions and tried the suggested technique of holding his hands to his chest for 45 seconds à la Supernanny's 'time out' method. Nothing seems to be working with this menace!

Mums of the blogging world – what are your suggestions to curb my son's mummy-beating ways?!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Spoilt little brat.

We all love our own child but hate everyone else's, right?

Ok, well maybe there's some exceptions. My friends' children obviously don't count. And I definitely have a sweet spot for all the random little girls that always seem to want to kiss Little O even though they don't know him (what tarts!). I can even put up with the snotty nosed little tykes that are clearly old enough to read but seem to disregard the age limit at Adventure Kingdom and would rather spend their time throwing plastic balls at me in the ball pond than play in their own designated area.

But there is one child that I cannot stand, and that is the spoilt kind.

Sure, Little O may have received more toys than he could shake a stick at last Christmas, but I'm talking about the MEGA spoilt kind. A child of which description I had the unfortunate opportunity of running into yesterday.

Walking from Knightsbridge to Victoria, I had to walk via Motcomb Street in Belgravia, and as I had time to spare, I decided to stop off at possibly the poshest Starbucks ever. Settling down at a window seat with my latte I saw him approach from a way off. I went through the mental checklist...
  • Private school beret – check.
  • Nanny in tow – check.
  • Immediately apparent air of arrogance – check.

The first words I heard him utter were (I kid you not): "I'll have a cappuccino."

That told me everything I needed to know; I had here a prime example of a Class A little (cover your ears kids) sh*t. I would guess he was around the age of 7.

He went on to get out his iPhone and broadcast to the rest of the coffee shop how "simply dreadful" his maths lesson had been that day and how Rory had told a joke that was "absolutely marvelous".

To be fair, I was much more on his turf than mine. But the whole episode made me extremely grateful at how modest our little life is and how grounded my lovely little boy is.

At least there's not too much chance Little O will end up looking like this (unlike the Starbucks kid)...


Monday, 17 January 2011

Stepping out with my baby

As Little O has now progressed to the toddling phase (albeit with hands), it was time to take that fateful step (excuse the pun) to the experts in children's feet – Clarks.

Now, I am a lover of the stacked heel. So not since 1987 have I stepped foot (there I go again....) in Clarks. It's really not that I dislike the shop or anything...it's just that I don't have any orthopedic problems that require me to wear rubber soles. (I really am joking – my mum will murder me for saying that. And if you work for Clarks, please do read on, it is going to get nice I promise...)

Giving my preconceptions of the brand, I was a lot more keen to go to Russell & Bromley's children's store but against my better judgment (and because it was Granddad's treat) we headed to Clarks.

Let's just say they did not fail to turn me around.

Little O was firstly diagnosed by the wonderfully helpful sales assistant as a 'cruiser' and then had his feet professionally measured to be a 4G. One slight let down was that for his cruiser status, there were only four shoe options available in the store but this was all made up for by the extra services they offered with his first set of shoebies. Firstly, Little O had his picture proudly taken wearing his new kicks, which was then mounted onto a memento card and given to me along with a lovely height chart.

All in all, bravo to Clarks for turning my previously negative preconceptions into positives – they did a smashing job in making a landmark moment truly memorable today and Little O has been determined not to take off his new footwear all day. He's especially taken with the velcro fastenings...

Our souvenir snapshot

Got a tale to tell about yours or your little one's first shoe fitting? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

No work and no play makes mummy a very cranky girl

People who give your child a toy that makes a noise for Christmas/birthday/"just because" should be immediately shot.

'Harsh', you say?

Well - in my defense - there are several reasons for my less than upbeat tone...
  1. I am currently workless and, as a result, frantically looking for a job. 
  2. We have a house full of illness.
  3. T got me a coffee machine for Christmas and as a result I'm either buzzing on caffeine or I've got a headache.
But enough of my sympathy rant - back to those wretched talking and singing toys.

As I sit here daily, trying to put into words to potential employers why I am so absolutely amazing and downright perfect for their job, I am continuously interrupted mid-flow by an annoyingly perky American woman singing 'Hickory Dickory Dock', or YoJoJo letting us know how much he loves playing his pipling pipes, or a frog in a train calling us all to climb aboard and get counting.

Sure, these toys are fine the first time, especially when I see how much joy Little O gets from dancing to a jauntily tuned drum. And even the second, third – hell, even the tenth time I can still be dancing along with him. But after five days of sitting and listening to the incessant tunes of Fisher Price's finest orchestras, I am close to absolutely losing the plot.

I learned the hard way that switching them off will not help, it only aids to the volume as Little O dramatically sobs and flails about because he clearly can't play with these toys unless they can sing back at him.

My one and only hope is the glorious moment when the batteries finally cease to work.

Is it bad that I was genuinely happy about this?


...and after.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Working from home: the positives and perils

Had you asked me a couple of years ago if I'd like to work from home, my answer would have undoubtedly been along the lines of "when do I start?". And five months ago, as I began my life as a working-stay-at-home mum, I maintained this rosy outlook.

However, as I sat at my teeny Ikea desk today and saw my darling 11-month old son pelting my very brand new scanner with a plastic (yet no less hefty) toy mallet, my outlook on working from home hit an all-time low.

My pros and cons for any new mothers considering this as an option are as follows...

1. You can work in your pyjamas.
2. You get to spend all day, every day with your wonderful, amazing child.
3. You don't have any ultra-expensive childcare costs.
4. You can get up when you start work (please note, this does not apply to those with children).

1. Whilst juggling your normal job, you must also uphold your full-time jobs of mummy, chef, playmate, etc.
2. Your partner will expect to return to a house that doesn't resemble a bomb site.
3. Your offspring is now your colleague. The latest office gossip is that he ate a FULL pack of biscuits when you left them on the side (momentarily forgetting that he's a biscuit fiend and he will hunt them down at every opportunity and eat the lot of them – true story).
4. Said offspring does not understand that mummy is at work. You are for playing with and solving problems. Nothing else.

All of the above said, I'm very lucky to be in a job that allows me to spend every day with my highly entertaining child, which very much outweighs the sometimes worringly loud negatives.

Plus, the new guy at work is pretty cute. Check him out...

Just putting together an email...

...and send.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Happy Snaps

After a valiant start at keeping up my blogging, I've had a poor couple of weeks mainly due to a particularly hideous illness that managed to spread through our entire household and then was passed round a second time just for good measure. I'm now pleased to report that I am once again back to my normal self and ready to get back to this blogging malarkey. 'Hurrah!' I hear you cry!

There are three things in my life that I so wish I was good at but, alas, am terrible. These are:
1. Singing (in my head I sound like Alicia Keys - apparently I'm the only one that hears it like that)
2. Cooking (truly inedible nearly every time)
3. Photography

Despite my lack of ability at all of the above, I still retain a keen interest in all of them (if watching X Factor every week counts as a 'keen interest' in singing?!). So, when I noticed that National Geographic were holding their annual photography contest, I couldn't help but take a flick through the entries. Needless to say, I did not enter.

What's most interesting about these photos is often the story behind them. Here's a few of my favourites. Take a look at all of this year's entries here.

'Fishing' by Stan Bourman.
'My Friend the Giraffe' by Ashleigh Haworth. Taken in Glen Rose, Texas.
'Ballerinas, Berlin' by Maria Helena Buckley. A cast of ballerinas prepare to take to the stage.
'Supercell Thunderstorm' by Sean Heavey. A supercell thunderstorm works its way across a Montana prairie at sunset.
'Unsafe Journey' by Amy Helene Johansson. A woman finds a quiet spot on a packed train from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to return to her hometown to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.

'Simple Joy' by Brian Yen. Taken in the slums of Bacoload, Philipines.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Death by eyeliner

We've been up north (Yorkshire to be precise) to T's family home for the week and as we're not likely to see them all again before Christmas, yesterday we had a big family get-together with a difference in the shape of a murder mystery party!

I've always wanted to go to one and for those of you who are tempted to hold one yourself – do it! It was the funniest evening I've had in a long while and if you're getting together a new group of people it would be an amazing ice-breaker.

Our version of the 'Casino Killings' was brilliantly cast – with T playing a Mexican casino owner (complete with eyeliner-drawn-on moustache and sideburns), T's mum playing a male croupier (also sporting a drawn-on moustache and goatee) and T's older sister laying the deceased man's wife whilst I played his mistress.

Here's us all in our costumes...

T got into character with the help of his mum's chihuahua
Lots of laughs all evening long!

Monday, 25 October 2010

15 minutes of freedom

My saviours

I'm not the first parent to make this confession and I certainly won't be the last: I LOVE CBEEBIES!

More specifically than that, I love CBeebies at 7.25am on weekdays. As at this point every day, a miraculous thing happens; my lovely but all-consuming, clingy son becomes engrossed in the CBeebies birthday song, followed by the whole of the Tweenies for 15 whole minutes leaving me to luxuriate in a bit of 'me' time (that is, laundry, washing-up and cleaning duties).

Back in the pre-baby days, 15 minutes would have been the time I would take to put on my make-up, or perhaps make a sandwich or even had a casual flick through Facebook. Nowadays however, 15 minutes has turned into my chance to get EVERYTHING done.

It is my daily mission impossible until the end credits of the Tweenies goes off...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Quiet please!

I wish my local library was like the Hogwarts library.

I'm not expecting flying books or cloak-clad wizard librarians (although that would be pretty amazing), I just love that old book smell and the possibility of finding a relic of a book in some dark and dingy corner that hasn't been rented out since 1906.

Instead what I'm met with when I visit the local council library is row-upon-row of polythene-sheathed Jackie Collins and Mills & Boon novels and a group of retired individuals each wearing the same baffled expression at trying to operate Windows 97 (to be honest, I'd be pretty confused too).

That said, the children's area is incredible and every Thursday morning us local mums fill the already cramped library with our all-terrain prams and double buggies in aid of Baby Bounce.

There is nothing I love more than having a good sing. My downfall is that although in my head I sound like Mariah Carey, to all third parties I am completely tone-deaf. So when I found out about Baby Bounce when Little O was around 3 months old, I was there like a whippet.

This free weekly (term-time only) event involves parents and a library representative singing nursery rhymes and kids' classics complete with complementary hand actions.  I say that we sing the songs 'to' the children as I am yet to hear a child sing at Baby Bounce. Most of them just stare at us wildly gesticulating towards them with looks of bewilderment.

Ah well, anything to belt out a classic in public. Even if it is 'Dingle Dangle Scarecrow'.

Here's one of my favourites:

Sing a Song of Sixpence (with a twist)

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of cheese
Five-and-twenty monkeys swinging from the trees
Throwing down bananas, landing on your head
Call up the monkey police and send them off to bed!