Friday, 29 May 2015

Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)

As is every other night in our household.  Apparently.

And what's worse is that since half term started the arguments between my children have been more and more frequent.  It's like they have totally forgotten how to get on with one another for any length of time at all.

It drives me bonkers.  

Not because my children row with each other, but more because whatever they argue about is really really trivial stuff.  You'd think by the ferocity of their arguments that they were the latest competitors in the Hunger Games or something but the subject of each dispute is usually something laughable rather than life threatening.

So here to illustrate, is a selection of the most ridiculous quarrels we've had over the past week.

Back seat of DHs car

The twins row over who sits where in the back seat of DHs car.  You may be thinking that it is some flashy big modern car with loads of cool gadgets inside it but it is not.  It is a small silver hatchback and the most luxurious thing about it is that the front seats have headrests.  

So why are they both so keen to be the one who gets to choose where to sit?

Because there is a small lift up section in the plastic moulding of the car's interior.  I'm guessing that it's some kind of cup holder and rubbish receptacle combo (there's another cup holder in the floor just behind the handbrake that they haven't yet spotted - yes, it really is that much of a no frills car).

There is nothing inside it but for some reason they like it.

The rows that result from one child getting there before the other have been known to last for hours - there have even some times been complete refusals to get out of the car and go to school when the fallout has been particularly bad.

He/She is in my room

This is not even a room sharing argument (that's a whole different thing, believe me). No, this stems from the fact that nobody, not even me, can walk past, or even rest a hand on the doorframe of the teen's room without being yelled at.  Put a foot inside the door and the yelling increases as he protects his den as if he were a grizzly bear. 

I have pointed out that walking past and touching the door frame doesn't actually constitute being in the room but this has fallen on deaf ears.  Presumably they are deaf because of all the shouting he does.  

What is he doing in there anyway?  You know what?  I don't even want to know.  

He/She moved my Lego

Because its sacred/fragile/littered all over the floor, whatever.  To me it just looks like bits of Lego but to nine year old DS2 it is precious and cannot be moved, even if the mover of said lego just wants to walk from one side of the room to the other. 

Instead we are expected to participate in a version of carpet parkour which is not easy when you have an armful of clean school uniform to deposit in the wardrobe at the end of the room.  

He is nearly ten so entering the realms of the preteen, maybe once he hits the teenage years he'll shout at me to get out of the room like his brother does and so I'll be spared running the Lego paved gauntlet.

He/She is looking at me

How this is even featuring as a row I'll never know.  It's a wonder any of the older three children can prize themselves away from tablets, phones and consoles for long enough to a) look at another person and b) tell whether another person is looking at them, and yet they can, and it's a crime.  It hasn't yet escalated to hand to hand combat to settle this particular dispute which is a blessing at least.

He/She is racing me and it isn't a race

Am I the only person who can't walk to the car with more than one child without them racing/not racing each other and then one having a melt down when they didn't win/didn't want to win?  One child even walloped another because of winning the non-race once.  It was a real WTF moment in my parenting career. I have no answers for this one.  Not one.


All of it.

Not a day has gone by without a major fight occurring because someone has blown up someone else's world, destroyed the thing they were building, turned their pig into pork chops, or lost their horse.  Tears and tantrums last all day because of this.

And the most ridiculous part is...


And then the next minute everything calms down as quickly as it started and they are the best of friends again (until someone looks at someone else wrong or kicks their Lego across the room).

But me?  What about me?

My blood pressure is sky high, I've started drinking wine again and I'm wondering what it is that I was so looking forward to about the start of the holidays. (Oh yes, spending time with my lovely, happy children)

On Monday morning they are all out of here.  Back to District 12 school. Normality.

Until *whispers* the six week summer holiday *screams inwardly*

When I will consider taking up yoga but will probably turn to wine again.

Yes, wine is the answer.  

Happy end of half term everyone - may the rosè be ever in your favour ;)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Sweet Memories with Swizzles Squashies

When I was growing up my parents ran a shop in a small village.  The shop sold everything you could think of but the one thing I really remember about it was the counter and all the sweets.  Actually, just imagine being nine years old and your parents buying a real live shop with sweets and a pricing gun (to use this alone was THE DREAM!).  It was fabulous.

A vast section of the counter was given over to every type of sweet and chocolate bar you could imagine, stretching back in tiers so high that you couldn't even reach the biggest bars of chocolate at the back.  The shelves behind the counter in the window were filled with rows of large jars full of loose sweets like Lemon Sherbets, Cola Cubes and Everton Mints, and a set of scales to weigh them out with.

Perhaps my favourite though were the drums of penny sweets, which were lined up on the counter top waiting for children to come in from the village school two doors away and buy them at home time.  You could say that sweets formed a large part of my childhood and I am still partial to a Fruit Salad chew or a packet of Love Hearts here and there.

A few weeks ago while I was at BlogOnMOSI I got chatting to the people at the Swizzles Matlow stand, no doubt enticed by the marvellous display of confectionery they had there too (which was a bit like the Mothership calling me).  They had all my favourites including the humble drumstick and the double lolly (a couple of these came home in my handbag) and some new things that I hadn't seen before - sweets have certainly moved on recently and I went away having found a new favourite in the form of Drumstick flavoured Squashies!

Yes, you read that right.  A sweet that is flavoured like a drumstick lolly and is soft and chewy and really rather moreish.

It is a good job that they come in such generous sized bags.  They are perfect for stuffing in your face before anyone else does sharing *ahem*.

I am sharing here, honest.

Needless to say that the samples I brought back with me didn't last very long and so I was really chuffed when Swizzles Matlow sent us a few more to try.

Squashies don't just come in classic Drumstick lolly flavour but also in new Drumstick Bubblegum or Sour Cherry and Apple flavour.  Both of these were a real hit with my brood.

I'll be honest.  The Love Hearts Squashies may have* been eaten
before I could take a picture of them.  Oops.  *were

Other flavours include Refreshers (remember them?), Love Hearts (they are really yummy too and are like a fruity alternative to the more traditional version), and Double Lolly flavour.  We all had our favourites after trying them all.  I really like that Swizzles has revived these traditional sweets and made them into something new and exciting for another generation of children (and grown-ups!) to enjoy.

See, I told you I was sharing.

As well as producing all these amazing new sweets, Swizzles Matlow currently have a campaign running called Sweet Memories. To take part they are asking fans to either go to their website: and share their sweet related memory (via either a picture or 500 words) or simply share them on social media with the hashtag #sweetmemories.

Here is my Sweet Memories picture from my BlogOn haul:

Although my real Sweet Memory will always be my Mum and Dad's shop.

You can follow Swizzles Matlow on Facebook and Twitter to join in the fun there, and of course you can always just go and buy a packet of Squashies and create some Sweet Memories of your own at home too!

Disclaimer:  We were sent a selection of Swizzles Matlow Squashies for the purpose of this post.  All words and opinions are our own.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

50 Things that make me happy

I've been tagged by Tor over at Tea Cup Toria to share "50 Things that make me Happy".  Usually I am so disorganised that when I'm asked to do something like this I forget, so it is quite remarkable that this has even made it onto a blog post at all.

Are there 50 things that make me happy?  I don't know but I thought I'd give it a go anyway.  Some of these make me happier than others, some of them are just a bit silly, and so here they are in no particular order.
  1. Breton Stripes
  2. Gin and Tonic - a given 
  3. New handbags
  4. Judge Rinder - Everything stops at 2.00 pm every day for this.  Rob Rinder is just brilliant!
  5. When someone compliments me on this blog (rare tbh)
  6. Not doing the school run - bliss!
  7. Bloggy friends - they know who they are :)
  8. Lip balm
  9. A new notebook - all those possibilities!
  10. DS3's laughter - he has the most infectious laugh ever
  11. Crisp Autumn mornings
  12. Writing it all down - better than therapy
  13. Sneaky Weatherspoons breakfasts without the kids
  14. Coffee and walnut cake
  15. Prosecco 
  16. My car passing it's MOT
  17. My favourite mug - its this one:
  18. The feeling I get when I finish a run
  19. Listening to music 
  20. The magnolia in my garden
  21. Getting parcels in the post 
  22. When the kids don't have nits - Ha!
  23. Rightmove - I'm nosey and this is just one giant enabler for that, plus the tagline is Find your happy...
  24. Clothes that still fit
  25. My husband's sense of humour 
  26. Bunches of flowers
  27. Silence - its golden
  28. Funny blog posts - written by so many talented people who make me smile
  29. Hot cups of tea
  30. An empty washing basket 
  31. My "House" box set - I cried when it finished but now I can watch it again whenever I like
  32. Earl Grey Tea
  33. New Socks and tights
  34. A clean house
  35. Bubble baths
  36. Dim Sum
  37. Good hair days
  38. Sunday lunch 
  39. Scented candles 
  40. Homes Under the Hammer - like Rightmove but on the telly
  41. Toast and Marmalade
  42. Old friends
  43. My family
  44. Christmas
  45. People who say "Register Office" - it is not "Registry Office"*
  46. People who pronounce Patent correctly - Pat-ent not pay-tent* (can you tell I'm getting a bit bored of this list business now?)
  47. Having a meal cooked for me
  48. Handmade cards from my children - just hold the glitter!
  49. Coffee
  50. Sleep
So there you go!  There are probably a lot more than 50 things that do actually make me happy come to think of it.  Anyway,  I'm going to tag some other blogging folk in so that I can check out if their lists are as barmy as mine.  Emma-Lou, Look at you, The Uncheshire Wife your turn!

*  Yes really.  If people get these right it does make me happy but that's years of being married to a pedant lawyer for you ;)

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Big Chunder House

This week has been different from usual.

On Monday morning children went to school as usual.  DH went to work as usual and I sweated my way around the neighbourhood in the name of fitness and then collapsed in front of daytime TV for the rest of the day did the housework as usual.

Then, on Monday evening, just as we were getting the twins ready for bed, I heard those three and a half little words that every parent loves to hear.

"Mummy, I feel si..."

And so, dutifully one of us cleared up the sick while the other got the children into the bath one by one and then into pyjamas (Let's just clarify that it was ME who cleared up the chunks, while DH did the other stuff, which means that I now have maximum parental points for the week).

We then prayed that nobody was sick for the rest of the evening, which they weren't (thank god).  One episode of vomgate is quite enough thank you very much.

But, the following morning the realisation of what was to come, confirmed by a stern email from the school, suddenly dawned upon me.  The twins would not be allowed back into school for a full 48 hours.

Thank you to whoever thought up that rule.

They were of course feeling a lot better and were practically bouncing off the walls at the thought of two whole days at home with no school.

I, on the other hand, was not so overjoyed.  Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my children, but since they started school in September I have become quite used to my own space too.

It felt a little like I had been imprisoned.  An enforced period of time in my own house with no sensible conversation for much of it.  Rather like being a contestant on Big Brother, only without Emma Willis wearing an almost entirely see through skirt and unsuitable shoes (much to my husband's disappointment).

And it went something like this:

*adopts Geordie accent*

"Welcome to the Big Chunder House...

Day 1 in the Big Chunder House.  Sounding Like My Mother is feeling optimistic.  She has provided the twins with a Playdoh Sweet Shoppe Bakery and herself with coffee, lots and lots of coffee..."

This should keep them occupied for a while I think.  It will be just like when they were toddlers - they could be doing this all day.  20 minutes later...

"Mum we're boooooored"

The kitchen looked like a bomb site and there were gobbets of luminous pink and yellow dough everywhere (and green, we don't even own green).  Seriously what exactly had they been doing with it?

I'll clean it up later I think, they may even go back to it. Besides, I'm still only on my third cup of coffee.

"10.25 am, Sounding Like My Mother is feeling caffeinated and is trying to get the twins to move from the sofa where they are watching cartoons."

"So, who'd like to do a nice drawing?" I say brightly.  Silence follows and slowly they look at me as if I've grown two heads.  "Can't we go on Minecraft?" they whine.  "No.  You are ill." I argue back.  The TV watching continues with added tantrums.

"11.30 am, Sounding Like My Mother is feeling fed up."

Turns out there are only so many episodes of My Little Pony that you can watch without wanting to stick your head in an oven from the sheer monotony of it all.

"Is it lunch yet?" DS3 asks.  Repeatedly for ten minutes straight.  "OK, have some lunch..." I sigh.  If it is lunchtime then half the day is already over.  A quarter of the way through our confinement.

We eat lunch and I give into them playing Minecraft - ONLY if there is no arguing and ONLY for half an hour.

"1.30 pm, Sounding Like My Mother is feeling stressed and is trying to get the twins to stop playing Minecraft, unsuccessfully."

Ok so the half hour has turned into an hour and then a bit more. More tantrums as I suggest that it might be a good idea to give the XBox a rest before either it blows up or I do.  Sulking resumes in front of the TV - how can it still be My Little Ponies?  I thought that only CBeebies was on a loop. I miss CBeebies...

Right, time for me to do something for myself.  Not housework.  That can wait.  Why not spend all this time at home sorting out all my social media profiles? After all, I've been putting it off for ages.

There was a reason for that.  I am crap at all social media stuff.

"2.45 pm, Sounding Like My Mother is feeling shouty and murderous as she tries to work Facebook while high on the fumes from the playdoh which is still all over the kitchen table."

Now I know why it is called the antisocial network.

"4.45 pm, Sounding Like My Mother is feeling absentminded."

Is that really the time?  I chuck some frozen pizza into the oven while still swearing under my breath at the computer.  Facebook, Twitter, G+ (although really, why bother?) done.

Feed children.  One twin only wants toast.  I give in.  Life is too short and I'm reminded of the previous evening and vomgate - if there is a second round then toast might be easier to scrape up from the carpet.  Always looking on the bright side, that's me.

"6.15 pm, Sounding Like My Mother is feeling relieved."

Twins are in bed with extra towels spread over the beds and floor in case of round two and the other children are all in their rooms "doing homework", or so they say.

I collapse in a heap on the sofa.  Day one is over.  Only one more day to go.  Unless I catch it too.  I decide to self medicate with a large gin and tonic.  Will that kill off a virus?  I read somewhere that gin is cleansing and can be used as part of a detox.  Something to do with the botanicals I think.  Yes, that's it.  Better have a second one then.

"Day 2 in the Big Chunder House and Sounding Like My Mother is feeling browbeaten as she realises that not only are the twins still not allowed back to school but that her husband is also feeling more than a little unwell."

The other three children are mercifully still alright and go off to school.  I decide that staying as far away from everyone is a good plan too and go out for a run.  

I have escaped!  Like Jack Dee did in Celeb BB a few years back, only I didn't have to climb any fencing or negotiate with the security guards.

Sadly I realise that I cannot stay away for too long.  For one thing I need a shower.  I must return.

"11.00 am, Sounding Like My Mother is feeling desperate as the requests for more Minecraft and other things to dooooo overwhelm her"

I try to placate DD2 with a suggestion that she plays on Club Penguin for a bit.  This doesn't work as she points out that it will be boring when everyone else is at school.  Why is nobody else off school?  I must have the most sickly children ever, FFS.

The day continues with some horrific looking drawings in addition to more playdoh - I'm getting quite used to the fumes now. But my god, the mess...

What is that?  A balloon whisk or a hand?

"5.00 pm and Sounding Like My Mother is feeling triumphant."

Nobody is feeling ill.  Nobody is being ill.  Thoughts and conversations turn to tomorrow's eviction.  Back to school, back to real life.

Rather like the persistence of Alison Hammond's TV career since BB3, DD2 is adamant that she never wants to go back to school. Ever. (Please, God, No!)

"Day 3 in the Big Chunder House and Sounding Like My Mother is feeling ecstatic.  The twins' uniform is on, the school bags are packed and she is the last person to be evicted from the Big Chunder House."

The Winner.

Until next time...

Monday, 11 May 2015

Twin Shock

Absolutely nothing can prepare you for the news that you are having twins.  Nothing.

It was, in fact, six years ago almost to the very day that I found out that I was expecting my pair.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My fourth pregnancy was something of a surprise.  But when I'd eventually got my head around the initial shock, I was surprisingly OK with it all.  Four children. We already had three and it was only one more.  One tiny little baby.  The older three would all be at school by that point so it would just be me and the baby.  I could do that.

I was so confident that DH and I decided that I would go to the 12 week scan alone - I mean, once you've seen one baby on a screen you've seen them all right?


The Sonographer didn't even get a chance to announce "you're having twins!".  As soon as the picture appeared on the screen I knew what I was dealing with.

"NO!"  I shouted.  "It can't be!"  It felt like I'd been kicked in the chest.

But there they were.  Two tiny perfect babies wriggling around on the screen side by side.

To some people this would have been a joyous moment but not for me.  I was wracked with guilt.  We had only just got used to the idea of one more baby and somehow I had managed to conceive two.  It was all my fault.

I can laugh about it now but on hearing that I already had three children the Sonographer chirped "oh, that happened to my sister in law too.  She's got her head around it all now.  They've just turned ten."

Brilliant.  Everyone's a comedian.

That's the strange thing though.  Before I had twins everybody I spoke to knew someone else who had gone through the same - the butcher, my mother's doctor, another poster on Mumsnet (yep, I asked advice on there too) for example.  And yet, I have never really found things as terrible as each one of these people have suggested.

Sure, sometimes having twins has been physically, emotionally and financially hard.  That goes without saying, but it has not been unsurmountable.

My husband took the news better than I thought he would.  I on the other hand could not stop crying. I cried for hours.  In a way I felt like I had been wrongly chosen for this new job - mother of twins.  I cried about big things like money, space, all the usual stuff and then got strangely hysterical at the thought of having to potty train two more children - which in my heightened emotional state seemed more important that all the rest of the things put together.

But, six years on and we're surviving.  Just.  (Potty training was a lot easier than I thought it would be.)

When I was pregnant with the twins I read a book written by a twin mother that talked about "Twin Shock", the almost permanent state of shock that you feel when you are having twins.  I'm sure that twin shock does exist.  I'm sure that I've been through it.  I'm just not sure that it should exist, that's all.

I do think that most of the shock is down to other people's reactions.  If they aren't implying that your life is practically over, they are busy pointing out the obvious (like you won't have already thought about money, space, potty training...). Said in a slightly jokey fashion but always with an undertone that says "you poor cow, you are going to need so much help".

Twins are different from a singleton but they are not a freak show.  A twin pregnancy should be met with the same amount of enthusiasm as a singleton one.  In my case it rarely was.

I was so glad in many ways when we ditched our double buggy and my twins could walk (apart from the fact that it took us bloody hours to actually get anywhere).  It at least meant that people didn't see them as twins (and stop me to tell me how brave I am - I am not brave, just fertile) when we were out and about anymore.  It just looks now like we have two children - well, five in total, but we almost never take them out all together.

And to me, that's what they are.  Two of our brood of five.  Individuals.  It just so happens that they share a birthday and are the same age.

Sure, they have their funny little ways which one might assume are a twin thing, like when they answer me in unison (still freaks me out) or when they face the same way in bed (they share a room).  I have no idea if they would do that still if there was an age gap between them.   Maybe they would.

As for twin shock - I don't have that.  I have no idea when it left because I didn't notice.

Perhaps I never really had it in the first place.  Instead, maybe it just took me a while to become "Twin Proud".

Friday, 8 May 2015

A new member of the family...

Before anyone asks, no, this is not some kind of stealth pregnancy announcement.  If my husband is reading this at work - it's OK, you can relax.  Rather more, it is the realisation that we have recently welcomed a new member of the family - I hadn't even noticed.

He (or she because I'm not sure which) has an unusual sort of name, although it is one that rolls off the tongue all too easily - Not Me.

Even though I have never seen Not Me I know that he or she has been living with us for some time.

Here is the evidence:

A few weeks ago I went into the downstairs loo (or cloakroom if your name is Bellway Homes, although we don't actually own any cloaks, none of the kids got into Hogwarts last year).  There was a telltale warm yellow puddle on the floor right in front of the toilet - marvellous.  "Who used the bathroom last?"  I shouted.  "Not Me!" came three replies.  What's with him?  He might have at least cleared it up...

This probably occurred because Not Me gets very thirsty.  More and more frequently I'm finding that there is no milk left for me to put in my tea.  "Who drank all the milk?".  "Not Me!" says the teen (the teen sees Not Me in the Kitchen a lot to be honest).

Not Me is not very environmentally friendly either.  He wastes energy like there is no tomorrow (clearly missed my husband's lecture on the subject).  He doesn't pay any of the direct debits and therefore doesn't care.  "Who left the light on in your bedroom?"... "Not Me!".

Other things that Not Me does include:

Leaving bags and shoes at the bottom of the stairs (despite them belonging to other people)
Crashing around upstairs so that the ceiling shakes when I am downstairs
Eating handfuls of breakfast cereal straight out of the box (characterised by the large amounts spilled all over the bottom of the kitchen cupboards) so there is none left for breakfast
Leaving taps on in the bathroom (at least he washes his hands I suppose)
Getting streaks of blue hand wash all over my white towels
Leaving muddy footprints on the stair carpet and in the hallway
Leaving wet towels on the floor after a bath (he does this a lot.  It is really bloody annoying)
Getting toothpaste all over the sink and sometimes the floor (once, it was the walls)
Using up all the toilet paper in the bathrooms and not replacing it - it isn't that hard a job FFS!

Who did this? Oh, wait...

You get the idea, the list goes on and on.  He is a greedy, incontinent and wasteful pain in the arse. I wish he didn't live with us.

Only, the last few days I haven't seen or heard much about Not Me.  Maybe he has left after all?

Instead we have a new visitor - Don't Know...

...who loses things a lot.

Have you ever had any similar visitors?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Dear Kate, some notes on the future.

Your Royal Highness, or can I call you Kate?

Did you know that we are practically twins?  OK so I know I'm a bored, fat, 40 year old housewife with five children and you are a beautiful Duchess who lives in a palace and definitely has better hair than me (so I am probably the DeVito to your Schwarzenegger in that respect), but we do have something in common.

You see, once I also had just two children, a boy and a girl, born 22 months apart, just like your good self. Congratulations, by the way.  Incidentally I notice how great you looked when you came out of hospital at the weekend.  I just want to say, don't listen to the haters.  I left hospital with a full face of make-up too and nice hair (my hair was better then TBH) and I even mopped the whole of the downstairs of my house two days after the birth while wearing actual clothes! (not pyjamas)  I then spent the next 8 months sobbing and hating myself, so do look after yourself and don't rush things...

Anyway, I suspect you think I'm now going to give you some advice about having two under two?  Well I'm not, and in all honesty its a piece of piss really very straightforward.  I know.  I have done it twice.  Besides, you've already had plenty of advice on that score, which is good.  Although I suspect that anything that relates to buying a double buggy might be a bit redundant, and even if you do have one I would imagine that you'd get a footman to shove it round the palace grounds while you put your feet up for a bit.  Or, does your mum, Carole, do it?  We all know how Grandmas like to push the pram.

No, instead I thought I'd write down a few home truths about what the future might hold for you now that you have a boy and a girl with a two year age gap.

So, what is parenting going to be like when little George and Charlotte are say 14 and 12 years old respectively?  (Like my boy and girl are now, in fact) Well, here are a few handy hints on what to expect.

1.  You might want to consider making sure that their bedrooms are at the opposite ends of the palace.  Why?  Well in our house the 14 and 12 year olds bedrooms are right next to one another.  This means that when they argue (I'm sorry, they are going to argue I'm afraid - they will claim to hate each other) and the doors slam, then the plaster on the wall between the two rooms cracks.  It's a bit irritating when your husband (or royal decorator) has recently painted the hall and stairs back to perfection.  In addition to that, the smell of both Lynx and Impulse mingling together on the landing outside is enough to have anyone reaching for breathing apparatus.  The bonus to this situation is that there simply won't be enough air for any more arguing when this happens.

I would also add, that with a 27 foot hallway between them, the argument of "Oh My God!  She's in my room again!" (which always kicks off the minute you go downstairs for a G&T after having seen with your own eyes that nobody is near anybody else's room) kind of falls flat.  Nobody can run that fast.

2.  Get two of everything.  I mean everything.  Yes, probably Charlotte won't even want an Xbox but that won't stop her telling you that it isn't fair that she doesn't have one in her bedroom when George does.  Just cut out all the debate and get her one anyway.  She will still find something that isn't fair but it won't be that.

3.  Make sure that the royal photographer is shit hot at Photoshop.  And I mean really really good.  Your two children will never ever want to appear in a photograph together once they hit adolescence.  Ever.  They hate each other remember?  And, even if by some miracle you do manage to get them in the same shot, by handcuffing them together perhaps?  They will never smile.  Photoshop is your friend here.

4.  Buy them both an iPhone 17 (or whatever it is by then).  Honestly, if I could afford it I would too, and you can so just do it.  This ensures you will never hear the immortal line, "But all my friends have iPhones and I'm the only one with a crappy HTC - I hate my phone, it's crap" 58 times a day. From both of them. Yes, really.  Seriously, save yourself the earache.

5.  I doubt that you'll ever send George and Charlotte to the same school, but if you do decide to buck the royal trend and send them to the local comp, be warned that regardless of the fact that they leave the school at the same time every day, from the same exit and come back to the same front door, they will never walk home together.  There will in fact be a 10 second delay between the first child arriving home and the second one.  I know this because I have counted.

6.  Finally, the most important one.  If you want them to agree on anything?  Always have more followers than they do on social media (won't be a problem for you I'm sure).  They hate that.  Probably way more than they hate each other.

So Kate, people might tell you that the baby and toddler years are hard but they are a walk in the park compared to the teenage years, believe me.

In fact, if I could give you one piece of advice it would be to cherish these early years.  Because, I really, really miss them...

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The ten stages of going to a blogging conference...

(Or, why I went to BlogOnMOSI 2015 at the weekend.)

1.  Should I go?

Will I know anyone there?  What if people don't talk to me?  What if no one likes me?  Loads of self doubt.

You spend 80% of your life talking to other bloggers from behind a screen and the rest of the time posting terrible selfies and pictures of your own feet on Instagram.  It's about time people saw your face, yes, your actual face.  You may even make a few friends out of this.

Plus, because of the above you need conversation.  Proper conversation, about anything that doesn't involve your children, or standing at the school gate talking about the sodding sunflower growing competition or the new school playground.

Go you idiot, you may even enjoy yourself!  You did last year.

2.  Ticket Sale Angst

Ooh the tickets are finally on sale.  How much are they?  Can I afford it?  What about the train fare?

So you are looking at the Eventbrite page and pondering clicking the buy button.  At this point someone will need new school shoes (actually that's a frigging life certainty) and you think, "no I won't go this year.  There are more important things to spend the money on.  It's very selfish of me to consider spending money on my hobby".  (Actually, what you really think is FFS, why can't I spend some money on me for a change?). And, you went last year - it won't be any different.

The tickets then sell out.  You still really really wanted to go.  FML.

3.  Pester Power 

Your head is nagging you, your social media buddies are nagging you.  You are in a secret Facebook group of people who are all going and that is bastard well nagging you.

You add yourself to the waitlist and pray that someone drops out.

4.  The Golden Ticket

Just when you've completely forgotten about going, you get an email - you made it off the waitlist, hooray!

You hurriedly press buy and then complete the checkout process with PayPal.  Only you can't because PayPal says there's a problem with your account. Arrrrgggghhhhhhh.  Whyyyyyy?  Just give me the ticket will you?

Finally the gods are smiling, and using a different email address your ticket order goes through!

You feel like Charlie Bucket.

5.  Smugness

I have a ticket, do you have a ticket?  Oh, you don't?  You must get yourself on the waitlist, it's going to be a great event!

6.  The Build Up

All the important questions.  Which sessions will I attend?  What are my dietary requirements? What are the train times?  

And most importantly.  What shall I wear?

Change your mind about 18 times on all of the above.  Remind your husband of the date 18 times also.

Then.  Realise that you are really quite nervous and excited about the whole thing.

7.  The BIG Day

It's here!  Finally.

You wake up dead early because you had to set your alarm so you don't oversleep and miss your train.  Then you get ready in the dark because everyone else in the house is still asleep.  

At the station you do a quick station shoe selfie (obligatory) and after the train journey during which you check the event hashtag 167 times, you find your bearings, and arrive.

Sit in waiting room, check hashtag
 and selfie your shoes and handbag

8.  The Event (Part One)

Everyone waits politely in the queue until one person eventually breaks the ice and starts a conversation.  It dawns on you that you know everyone standing around you, not by their names, only their Twitter handle and their pictures on Instagram.

You go in, still chatting and drink coffee, lots of coffee.  You start to feel human again.

After spotting a few bloggers that you actually know and who remember you, you find yourselves a table and wait for the start.

Welcome, then keynote (an amazing blogger - you'll never be as good as her in a million years).  Lots of good tips.  Brilliant tips.  People tweeting and listening at the same time.

Twitter sub-conversations break out between friends.  People still hungover from the pre-event drinks do the night before, which sounds like it was awesome.  Why didn't you go to the drinks do?  There was gin!

A session on Vlogging.  Talented speakers.  One has amazing hair.  You will never be as good as her or have amazing hair like her either.  Am I learning or am I tweeting?  You have no idea but it is great.

A break then a session on photography.  Gorgeous photographs are shown but you will never be very good at that either.


Delicious but you scarcely notice it touching your lips.  A simple case of refuelling.

9.  The Event (Part Two)

You choose the beginners blogging session. 18 months in and you are still not advanced, you never will be.  You are hopeless.  But.  You do know what a follow link is.

After that it's cake and wine time.  They really know how to throw a blogging conference Up North.

Prosecco flows (a lot) and everyone chats.  You forget the time (and the hashtag).  You miss the final session (lifestyle blogging - nope, crap at that too).  You don't care because you realise that none of this is why you blog at all.

Before you can say it someone else says it better:

Meeting friends...

Making new friends...

Fun! (probably also using our voices a bit loudly here too)

It doesn't matter whether you are good at all the technical stuff.  Just as long as you are good at being YOU.

10.  Post conference comedown 

The following day you are still on a high.  You Instagram the contents of the goody bags (plural) and distribute them among your children while tweeting everyone you met the day before.

Then your phone goes quiet: 

You realise how much you have enjoyed yourself and also how much you have learnt.  You can't wait for next year.

When do the tickets go on sale?

Photographs posted by kind permission of Messed Up Mum, Hijacked by Twins, It's just me and my life, and Wife, Mum, Student Bum (in order of appearance but not awesomeness).
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