Highly Recommended : October 2011

Welcome to my occasional series of recommendations.  Here are my star items for October 2011 from the gifts and samples I have been sent this month.  I will be either recommending the product or the service.  This month I have some special offer codes for you and TWO giveaways for you to enter.

Conversations with my Grandchildren - Part 1

I had the BEST conversation  with my granddaughter.  She will be three years old in December.

Amie: Nana, I going big school in January coz I'm a big girl.
Me: Yes, you're a very big girl, love.  It'll be very exciting.
Amie:  Yes, I going big school and it might be raining.

And in other news, Megan (almost 20 months old) shouts "NANA" (pronounced "nan-er" at the top of her voice constantly whenever she's near me.  On Thursday, she was started shouting "GRANDAD" whenever he wasn't in the room.  RESULT!

Christmas Hampers

Featured Guest Post
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Often, parents find themselves looking for new levels of convenience during the holiday season. After all, this is obviously a busy time of year, and the added pressure of making it a special time for your children adds quite a bit of time, effort and work. Therefore, it is always a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for quicker and more effective ways to decorate, shop, etc. One thing to keep in mind specifically, if you have never done this before, is to take a look at Christmas hampers from Marks & Spencer. These gifts are available to order online, and you can have them sent directly to the gift recipient. Furthermore, they come with assortments, rather than individual items, meaning that they can appeal to entire families or groups. Here are some brief descriptions of a few of the nicest Christmas hampers available at this specific store.

Telly Addict

It was only last week when Alex pointed out to me that he had got hooked on X-Factor thanks to my tweets and then wanted tips on how to watch TV and tweet effectively (prime position in the lounge, laptop on knee, Tweetdeck on full screen, peer over the top of the laptop - just in case you're interested) I realised that I do actually watch a lot of telly - and tweet about it too.  But who doesn't these days?  Even those who don't use Twitter comment on Facebook about what they're watching.

But seriously - I started counting up and realised that I watch a LOT of crap.  Or is it just that a lot of crap is being made now and is spoon-fed to me during my prime TV watching hours?  The TV seems to be on all the time at our house, even as background noise.  We have access to god only knows how many channels thanks to our satellite subscription and there's always some schmaltzy Disney/Nickelodeon guff or music video blaring out when I'm not watching my reality/home improvement/cooking/singing/fashion shite.  I mean, I'm the sort of person who starts practicing her 'smize' the second the theme tune to America's Next Top Model starts, much in the same way most women clench their fanny muscles as soon as the hear the words 'pelvic floor'

The book review that isn't really a book review

I used to devour a fair few books a week and was a regular at the local library (by the way, does anyone remember the mobile library that used to call round?  I've just had a major flashback to the one that called to the end of my Nana's road in St Annes. Aaahh nostalgia.) but there are less and less books coming into the house now mainly because I spend far too much time online.  I've got a pile of books on my table that I keep meaning to read but if I could... just... put... down... the... laptop... BUT NO!! The pull of my internet life is too strong.  How sad is that?

Listography : Top 5 Keyword Searches

This week Listography is back over at KateTakes5's blog and she wants to know about the top 5 keyword searches on our blogs.  My top five are really boring.  Honestly, you don't want to know what they are.  You'll say, "Really, Nickie?  That's yawnsome!"

So here are some of the more interesting ones:

Live Blog : #princesbrekkie Radio Day




#PrincesBrekkie Radio Day

Today I am sat in a recording studio in Manchester with Amy from "And One More..." waiting to be patched in to a number of radio stations around the UK to talk about healthy breakfasts, trying to ease the stress at breakfast time and what it's like being a busy mum.  We are here on behalf of Princes, in conjuction with their campaign to get tinned fruit incorporated into breakfast as a quick and easy alternative along with it being one of that all important 5-a-day.  Stay tuned as you can follow the #princesbrekkie twitter stream here too.

Don't forget to enter my competition to 
which closes tonight at 23:59
(Monday 17th October)

Bump!

I am setting up for a launch meeting at work (it's OK, I don't work for NASA but we're very excited about some Big Lottery funding we have recently been awarded) and my phone rings.

"Hello, it's Jake's school.  He's had a bit of an accident..."

I squeak, "Oh god, no!  What's happened?" Everyone turns to look at me, their panic-stricken faces mirroring mine.  Every single scenario runs through my head in about two seconds flat.

The Breakfast Club

Back in January I was a guest at the Kellogg's factory in Manchester and I learnt about the Government initiative "Breakfast For Life" which centered around ALL school-aged children having access to a breakfast to give them the best start to the day.  Missing breakfast is directly proportionate to poor concentration in class and obesity and illness later in life.  In the information that Kellogg's gave me I found the most surprising and disturbing statistics were:



  • 1.7 million children age 0-5 will skip breakfast
  • 1.4 million children age 6-10 will skip breakfast
  • 2.3 million children age 11-16 will skip breakfast

added to that is this 

  • 97% of teachers said that better concentration was a key perceived benefit of eating breakfast
  • 84% of teachers said those students that eat breakfast are better behaved
  • 79% said there is a clear link between breakfast and academic achievement

Listography : Your 5 Worst Dates

I love random email conversations as they turn into you suggesting a theme for Listography which you then find yourself hosting.  Yes, ME... the one with the allergy to linkys *cough*  So HELLO to my fellow Listographers!!

Anyway, when Kate (from KateTakes5) dropped "... a bit like my Debs when I ended up going with an asshole, but that's another story" into an email conversation I pushed for her to tell all via a Listography then maybe the shame would be diluted.  Instead she offered me the hosting rights so you can head on over there and see if she's actually shared it when you've finished here.

So, considering I met my husband not long after my 18th birthday, my own "worst dates" are pretty thin on the ground but there were a few.  Now, before you read any of these remember I was young, innocent and impressionable...

Keith Chegwin blocked me on Twitter

WAH-HEY!

No, seriously.  *sad face*  He was one of my 1970's hero.  I yearned for the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop roadshow to rock up near to where I lived so that I could swap some of my old Mandy annuals for the board game Go For Broke.  I applied to go on Cheggers Plays Pop but never heard back.  I even bought the record "I Wanna Be A Winner" by Brown Sauce...

MAD Blog Awards : The Main Event

Where to start?  I think it's very obvious by now that I didn't win my category - "Most Innovative" - at the Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2011 (aka The MADs) but, you know what, it doesn't matter.  I would have been proud for any one of them to win and we all really did deserve it.  But MASSIVE congratulations to Ruth - Geekmummy - who won, played our video at the ceremony as part of the (pre-planned joint) acceptance speech and started an impromptu dance-off between us all from that category.