The Music Inside My Head

Do you want to know what I've been humming along to recently?  
Welcome to the music inside my head..


The Role Of The Modern Grandparent

grandchildren, typecast, young grandparent,
I know I'm not quite the norm when it comes to being a grandparent (stop sniggering at the back, you know what I mean) but when I read research highlighted by The Telegraph it appears that children cared for by their grandparents whilst the parents go out to work are better developed both in social and emotional aspects.

To me, this is only representative of traditional families where, maybe, the grandparents are old enough to have retired and are in fairly good health.  It doesn't take into consideration that there are many families at the extreme of this research, i.e. living longer gives us more reason to start our families later.  But also very much not when your family includes a non-traditional 'Granny at 36'.  

I never wanted history to repeat itself with my daughter also becoming a teenage parent, for both selfish and unselfish reasons.  I wanted a gap where my husband and I could have a break from little people running around and revel in the fact that we didn't have to organise enough equipment for an expedition to the South Pole when we were actually only going out for the day in the car.  But also, I wanted my daughter to have A Life; one where she could have a few wild years, find a career that she loved and go and do all the things that I would have wanted to do instead of sitting at home surrounded by bottles, nappies, boring routines and a list of "What If's".

Life never really turns out the way you expect it to.  So you deal with it.

But what about helping out?  I'm not yet 40 years old and there is pressure on me to lead the way and provide a stable background for my family.  Even Netmums has a whole article on how grandparents play an important role in the family, citing the need to set good examples, providing support and dealing with generational issues.

It wasn't that long since I was still dealing with night terrors, midnight wees and a child who didn't sleep more than two hours at a time so the thought of babysitting the grandchildren overnight again still fills me with terror after the one and only time we did it.  But still there's guilt because I don't offer to look after them enough.  And sometimes, it's only appropriate to take one of them which makes me feel like I'm favouring one over the other - even though I'm not. 

I asked a few friends what they thought about the role of grandparents in their children's lives and there was a mixed bag of responses.  Many said that they wouldn't expect their parents to take over the childcare during work hours but it seemed that most would love some help if it was available.  Michelle mentioned that she relied on the fact that her mother-in-law picked up the children from school one day a week so that she could work certain hours and Emma had noticed that friend's children were picked up one day a week from school to lower childcare costs. Emily admits that she is jealous of the input that she sees given by other grandparents as sometimes it feels traditional for grandparents to be involved.

Age (the upper end of the scale, rather than people in my situation) was an issue with the belief that elderly parents weren't able to cope or the simple fact that 'time served' adults should be allowed to kick back a bit.  Sophie says her parents are amazing but wishes they would take time to reward themselves for all the hard work they have done in the past and go off around the world.

Do we stick to our own family traditions?  I never spent regular weekends at my grandparent's houses but I do remember sleeping over on rare occasions when my sister and I were older.  We did live close by though and saw both sets of grandparents almost on a weekly basis.  Of the friends I questioned, Janet said that she wanted to be available to help but lived 300 miles away.  She quit her job, moved nearby and now picks up her granddaughter a couple of times a week and looks after her for 2-3 hours each time.  She doesn't think she could do it on a 'full time basis' though.

Maybe that's the key?  Let our children, as parents, do the hard work and then offer a treat for all concerned when the little darlings are past the bed wetting stage, open to reason, will actually sleep through the night and maybe even make you a brew in bed in the morning?

What do you think?  What happens in your family?


Blognonymous : Trapped

This post was submitted to me within the ethos of Blognonymous. The author said to me that she felt a bit better after writing it all out, which does go some way to prove that writing is cathartic, but she is in such a difficult situation that she definitely needs some words of comfort or someone who has experienced the same.    

If you would like to offer any kind of support in the comments but prefer to remain anonymous yourself then there is a "guest comment" facility - sign out of Disqus (if you have used it before), write your comment, click "Post as..." and you will see "guest" appear as an option.

If you would like to contact the Blognonymous team please click on the image to above for more details.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating, I potter along day to day and then it hits me again, I feel a panic and I can’t find a solution so I cry, I look around at the things to be done, cleaning, washing and tidying and I just cannot motivate myself to do them, I feel like there is no point. I try to pull myself together and stop being silly – there are people worse off than me, I am very lucky really and should be grateful for what I have but this makes me feel guilty for feeling this way and I’m back to square one again.

I love my blog and it’s usually great for not only sharing the good stuff but also getting the random things in my head out and I often find it therapeutic to write, but I went public a long time ago with it and my friends, family and neighbours read it. (I think!)  Anyone who reads my blog I’m sure will figure out that I’m writing this but I don’t mind my ‘online friends’ reading it, its too much for my own space.

A couple of years ago I moved to sunnier shores with my hubby and baby, it was not necessarily a clever thing to do but we did it anyway. It’s not been easy but it’s mostly been fun and I couldn't really imagine it any other way. Like many people both here and at ‘home’ we've struggled financially but we survived and then last year my husband suddenly lost his job.

Due to paying his social insurance payments he was entitled to unemployment benefit for 6 months, which is paid in random amounts at unknown times. We've been on the job hunt now for 7 months with no success at all. We are months behind on the mortgage and are basically relying now on my lovely parents for shopping and petrol. I feel terrible that we are costing them so much money, money we have no way of paying back for the foreseeable future.

In December, in an amazing spot of ridiculous timing we discovered I’m expecting our second baby. In a way this pleases me as it’s become my focus and something to look forward to but it adds a whole new world of problems. We live in a small 1 bedroom apartment and it’s already tight for space among other things – although I may have said for years I have ‘nothing’ to wear, it’s a lot more accurate these days – I have boobs that have doubled in size and not a single piece of underwear that fits!

Throughout the winter I feel like I’m living Groundhog day, it’s been the coldest winter for 50 years and these homes are not built for the cold. With no money we’ve had no where to go and my toddler and I are crawling the walls with boredom. Even now it starts to warm up the sunshine doesn’t feel me with its usual optimism. I feel like I can’t remember the last time I felt truly happy about anything for more than a fleeting second.

Increasingly I wonder if we did the right thing by moving abroad, I can’t help but think how much easier it would be with help, - child benefit etc paid regularly, looking for work in an English speaking job market but in many ways I do not think we’d be better off. I just feel a bit trapped without the money for a plane ticket for a trip back home.

Many years ago I fell into this same pit of despair I find myself in now, and I frequently arrived at a friend’s house for endless cups of tea and sympathy. That same friend now has a small baby and is 3000 miles away, this is not a conversation that works over the phone. I have friends here but it’s not the same, we all have children which make the ‘heart to heart chats’ of the old days impossible and they don’t’ really ‘know’ me.  Instead I carry on while everyone assumes me to be ok.

I’m finding toddler hood more than challenging and it fills me with dread to think how I’m going to deal with two children, not helped by everyone’s comments of ‘You think it’s difficult now! Just wait until you have 2!’

I want to snap out of it, get on with things and power through. I want to get back to the old me and although I know it’s not at the other end of a plane trip I feel like I’m trapped. I feel so ungrateful as I have a husband who is a great Dad, a gorgeous son and another on the way and I know these years go by so fast, I feel like they are passing me by right now.

Listography : Top 5 Beauty Products

This week, Kate wants us to share our beauty secrets.  I don't spend a lot of money on make-up and beauty and it shows but I've fallen in love with Natio products since winning a box full of them over on In The Powder Room last year.  I also had a gift voucher to spend ON ME FOR A CHANGE at Debenhams so I've bought some new bits and pieces from their range [insert lots of hearts here].  So here is what I am using and loving at the moment (all images stolen borrowed from Debenhams)

Natio Ageless Rehydrating TonerNatio Ageless Cleansing Milk
Natio Ageless Rehydrating Toner and Gentle Cleansing Milk
This leaves my skin feeling really fresh and now that I'm getting close to the big "Four Oh" I know I need to start taking a bit more care of my skin instead of relying on my pillow to remove my make-up at night. 

Natio Tinted Moisturiser
Natio Tinted Moisturiser in Natural
A new discovery.  Where has tinted moisturiser been all my life?

Natio Mineral Pressed Powder Bronzer
Natio Mineral Pressed Powder Bronzer
I've always been a bit of a cheek-pincher thanks to my usual 'Morticia' look and I think the recent sunshine has encouraged me to dig this out again.  I need a bit of help in the 'sunkissed' department when I'm cooped up in an office all day, every day.

Natio Sparkle Dust Eyeshadow
Natio Sparkle Dust Eyeshadow
This adds a touch of colour to my eyes but without going overboard.  It does tend to go everywhere so the dinky little caps for each individual pot of powder is a genius idea.

Natio Lip Butter
In "Laugh".  Just yum.

What are your favourite beauty products or is there a tip that you want to share?  
I need all the help I can get!


Pick Me, Pick Me!!

I don't blog to win awards but the recognition of nomination from my peers really validates the amount of time and effort I put into the content here.  Can I count on your vote for a couple of awards?  I'll make it really easy for you to click through and tell you what to do.

First of all I have been nominated for THREE awards in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards (BiBs) organised by BritMums.  Change, Inspire and Outstanding.  I'm pretty pleased with that as it encompasses what I try to achieve with this blog.  You can see the shortlist here and then vote for me (and other pretty amazing bloggers) by clicking on any of the BiBs images below.

Change Shortlist    Inspire Shortlist     Outstanding Shortlist

Next the MADs nominations have opened - I was a finalist in the Most Innovative category last year and would love to receive enough nominates to become a finalist again this year.  There are loads of categories available (click the link to have a read through first) and I'll leave it up to you to decide which you think I deserve.   You can vote for me (and other pretty amazing bloggers) by clicking the MADs image below

MAD Blog Awards 2012

For both sets of nominations you can only vote once so if you're voting for others you'll have to do it at the same time.  Also, you can click through to nominate at any time from the badges in the sidebar in the "What Else?" section.


Give Up Clothes For Good

An email from Sally arrived last week with the subject header "Give Up Clothes For Good".  I thought she'd finally flipped and was asking me to run away with her to a nudist colony.  You'll be pleased to hear that I presumed wrong.

What she was actually telling me about was the collaboration between Cancer Research UK and TKMaxx and the Give Up Clothes For Good campaign happening in April.  The money from these donations goes directly towards research aimed at treating and preventing childhood cancer which is why you need to donate in this way for this campaign.

I don't really own any expensive items of clothing but the two items I am going to take to TKMaxx are:

My beautiful Anna Scholz dress that was given to me by Simply Be for the MAD Blog Awards 2011.  I received LOADS of compliments about this dress and loved wearing it but it really is a "one moment in time" dress for me.  It has given me confidence to experiment with colour and style though.

An electric blue mac that I bought from Asda a couple of years ago.  I bought two, in fact - this one and a black one.  They are a real classic cut and the black one is my summer coat for work but I have no idea what was going on inside my head when I picked the blue one.  I'm so not an electric blue person at all!  It has never been worn and still has the tags on.

I hope the people that end up buying these items of clothes enjoy them.  What are you going to donate?

Dog Talk

We had the new dog cage delivered today (bargain - £35 on ebay - free delivery) but it's FECKING HUUUGGGEEE.  I'm thinking of moving in myself.

Yoshi has been for a wander round in it, dragged his toys and blanket in and out, pissed in it twice, had his tea in there and keeps having a little snooze in it.

But in the picture, he looks a bit bewildered by it all.  He probably thinks it's a luxury apartment after the small cage he was in until last night.

Anyway, how do you think the dog repaid this random act of kindness?  By throwing himself into the canal on his walk and almost dragging me in with him!  Oh yes, indeedy.

He is snoozing now - probably dreaming of a cheeky little duck giving him the bird.

Cancer - Your Story: A Supernova Soul

Editors Note:  This is Phil's story.  You may know him as @extremeironing or @theredrocket.  Phil has chosen to share his story in this way to raise awareness and (hopefully) donations for the hospice that helped his Mum during the last month of her life.  There are more details at the end of the post but, for now, over to Phil.  Thanks for reading.
Picture Credit | Flickr
To share your story in this way click on the image for more details.


I look at my watch.  It is 5.37pm on 7th May 2011 and my mum has stopped breathing.  My own breath skips a beat too.  Is this it; is this the moment?

Then she breathes again.  A short, gasping breath.  She's not finished yet.

Her breaths have become more irregular in the past 20 minutes or so and it feels like a turning point.  For the first time in the past week there's only one member of the family sat next to her in St Michael's Hospice (excluding the 'night shift' that my Dad has sat in vigil next to her ever night).  I desperately don't want to be on my own with her at the last.  Not for fear - the fear was that she'd be alone altogether at the end - but I know that she'd have wanted more of the family around her.

I call a nurse.  "Do you think it's time for me to call the family?" I ask.

The nurse looks at her for a moment, listens to my mum's faltering breath, then nods.

My dad's walking the dog - the only piece of normality in our strange new family routine - so I ring my brother Martin and give him the situation.  He's on his way.  I talk to my mum, not knowing if she can hear, pleading with her to hang on until they arrive.  Her breath starts and stops.  I hope that Martin, Dad, my Auntie and Jo make the two mile journey before she leaves this world.

I think back to the past couple of weeks and months.  After getting a 'clear' from her cancer in January, she was ill with pleurisy and not well at all.  I'd seen her a few times, including the Hastings Half Marathon, where she'd cooked me a celebratory Sunday roast dinner - the last meal she was to make for me.

In April things were getting worse and she was struggling to walk.  A trip to her GP very quickly turned into a trip to the hospital - she'd lost the ability to walk - and the diagnosis is that she had secondary cancer of the spine.  Now, despite a fleeting hope that she might live a little longer still, she is in St Michael's Hospice, receiving the very best - truly compassionate - care.

When she arrived a week or so ago (I've lost track of time), she was in good humour, joking with the staff and even watched the royal wedding with joy and fascination, a strange distraction from her arrival to the the place where she would die.

Then, day by day, the medical staff gradually increase her medication to offset the pain and she gradually withdraws, spending less and less time with us, until she is finally in a comfortable coma.

In pairs Dad, Martin, Jo and my aunt arrive and my mum is still hanging on.  My older brother is in Kent, an hour and a half away.  A short call and he's on his way too, but not with an expectation for her to still be with us when he arrives.

At 7pm he walks through the door.  My mum slips in and out of breathing.  Not long now.  The nurses and carers check up on us every now and again and offer us tea.  We are still playing her favourite classical music CDs in the background, as we have done for the past few days (in a lucid moment, earlier in the week, she woke when a particular favourite was playing, perhaps Nigel Kennedy, smiled and simply said, "the beautiful music").

My brother's fiance, Laura, is on her way from London on the trip.  It must be a lonely and angst-ridden journey.  My mum still breathes.  We sit in silence as light gradually turns to dusk, without us really noticing.

Laura walks into the room at 9.30pm.  Does Mum know we're here?  Can she hear our occasional words of comfort that we are with her?

The gaps between her breaths become longer.  She stops breathing for 20 seconds.  This is it.

Then she breathes again! She's not ready to leave us yet.  With gallows humour, we joke that Mum would do anything for a family get-together.

It is dark now; but I realise I'm not sure I remember the point that day turned to night.

At twelve minutes past ten, Brenda breathes her last.  Her passing is strangely beautiful and Brenda's soul explodes like a supernova filling us with her love.

* * * 

On the 25th March, I will be marking my mum's passing and raising funds for St Michael's Hospice by running the Hastings Half Marathon.  Only I'll be doing it with a twist, by extreme ironing the hilly course.  I invented extreme ironing many years ago, but 'retired', having enjoyed a series of silly ironing stunts.  But as a self-confessed ironing obsessive, the challenge seems a fitting tribute to my mum.

Those days I spent in St Michael's Hospice highlighted how important it is for someone with a terminal illness to die with dignity and, if possible, with their family around them.  Hospitals do fantastic jobs, but they're not geared up for this kind of care.  And hospices like St Michael's are highly dependent on people's generosity to keep going.  In fact government and NHS funding only covers a third of St Michael's costs, so sponsorship events like the Hastings Half really are essential.

So, please, head on over to our website (enjoy the videos and pictures of us ironing!) and make a donation - it really will help make a difference.

Thank you
Phil Szomszor aka 'Steam'


Happy Mother's Day [Infographic]

We all know what I think about Mother's Day and I've written before how life is hard without Mum here to run things by.  It doesn't matter who the matriarchal figure in our life is but what is important is that we ensure that we value the work that the mum-figure in our life does for us.  I've been taking part in a debate about how we reward our Mums over on Parentdish.  You've still got time to vote in that debate (as long as you're voting for my viewpoint) which includes the chance to win a trip to a spa!!  Click the banner image to find out more. have pulled together this infographic which (according to survey results) puts a monetary figure on the work of a mum.  I'd say we're worth much more than this... priceless, in fact.

This infographic is featured content and was supplied by
For more details please see my disclosure policy

Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

My name is Jake O'Hara and I am [13 Ed: you're 12 until the end of May] 12 years old.  I went to see Journey 2: The Mysterious Island in 3D at our local cinema with my friend who is also called Jake.  My mum has typed up this review because she said I had to write it out like homework [Ed: I really did.  See the picture at the end].  She might have added some notes but they are probably not funny [Ed: I'm hilarious, deal with it] and she has added all the links and pictures.

This film is about Sean (played Josh Hutcherson) and Hank (played by Dwayne Johnson) going on a hunt to find Sean's grandfather, Alexander (played by Michael Caine) who is supposedly lost on a mysterious island. Sean knows his grandfather has found the mysterious island because he sends a letter to a radio station saying, "I have found the mysterious island."

Sean copies the letter and tries figgering [Ed: I liked this spelling of "figuring" so I left it in] out what it is but it's all in morris code [Ed: I think he means "morse code"].  He can't read it so that is when Hank gets involved and ends up going on this journey with him.  Sean has three books in his attic and each one has part of the map on it.  He uses his computer to fix the map together but there is a bit missing.

They follow the map and go to Peru to get a boat or plane to the querdinations [Ed: coordinates] but no-one would take them there because the querdinations were to the deadliest part of the sea.  One guy named Gabato (played by Luis Guzm├ín) took them to the destination because he needed the money for his daughter for college (she is Kailani and played by Vanessa Hudgens).  They both end up going with the group as is what happens in films.

To get to find Sean's grandfather they have to travel through a whirlwind in the sea and they all end up under the water on a mysterious island.  Then Sean wakes up and realises he is on the island that his grandfather is on and ends up finding him.  His grandfather says that the island is not going to go under water for 15 years but he was wrong.  He had a matter of days to get back above the see before they got flooded.

They get back on land again and they are still alive.  It becomes Sean's birthday and his grandfather wanted to give him his present in person so they go to the moon.

I thought the film was very good because it had comedy, action and adventure.  I think there will be another film that show the Journey to the moon.  Mum says she is going to show you the picture of all my writing now [Ed: see image to the right].  Thank you to Warner Brothers for giving me the tickets for me and my friend to go and see this film.  They also sent me a load of DVD's at half term which I have taken to my niece's house as they are Loony Tunes cartoon ones.  I will ask her if she enjoyed them when I see her but I know she loved the colouring book that we were sent.  My mum has told me to say that she has had some great DVD's from Warner Brothers too.  Some were for Valentines Day and came with a box full of little hearts which fell all over the place and she made them into a photo project and she got some after the Oscars were on telly too.

[Ed:  pictures below of all the goodies that Warner Bros. have sent us recently and my here's the link to my "Jar of Hearts" photo project.  Thanks Jake - you're not a bad lad really...]


[Infographic] #DoSomethingYummy Recap

(opens in new window)

 Thank you to everyone who joined in with the
 #dosomethingyummy writing prompts and linked up.

"Do Something Yummy" week runs from 10th-18th March 2012


Grandchildren, Allotment, Shit Happens, Rants

Nothing funny/unusual/dangerous/exciting/interesting (delete as appropriate) is happening so there's not much blog fodder about at the moment.  There's plenty going on with the "Usual Subjects" [sic]:  Grandchildren, Allotment, Shit Happens, Rants... so here's a quick run-down.

We went down to the allotment and took the puppy down for the first time at the weekend.  I also picked up Amie-Leigh and took her for the first time.  Yes, on a number of occasions I did think I was mad too.

There's not a lot going at the allotment at the moment - lots of building fences and sheds but not a lot of planting preparation.  It's a bit cold at the moment so we haven't put the new planting beds in yet. Oh, and we lost the greenhouse in the bad winds earlier in the year.  Still there was a great stage shed base for Amie to jump around on, some chickens to discover and lots of muddy puddles for her to jump in.  Yes, her mummy loved me when I took her home.  They joys of grandparenting... get them hyped up and filthy and then take them home.

The dog loves it up there.  Since the weekend he's been twice this week with Kev.  He sits on the front seat of Kev's gypsy Transit van, strapped in with his new seatbelt, leaning up against the window, casting a doggie eye over the world as they drive on by.  By the time the summer arrives, I fully expect him to know how to wind the window down, prop a paw on the door and have that 'cruising' stance.  I might even buy him some sunglasses...

I started this post on Tuesday.  I was already having a *head desk* week.  Lots of eye-rolling, unfinished homework battles ("Yes, mum, it's got to be in tomorrow.  Yes, mum, I've had it since last Wednesday.  Yes, mum, I needed to collect four leaflets to write about.  Yes, mum, I know it's nearly 9 o'clock.  Yes, mum, I'm writing now.  What does this word mean, mum?"), mental arguments with myself about all sorts of stuff, a sheaf of papers that needed sorting and a look around my spare room study that has become a dumping ground for all sorts of crap over the past few weeks.  Oh, and a deadline that should have been met at the end of half term.

Then, to top it all the (landline) phone rang in the evening.  It was a marketing company.  They got stopped in their tracks with the usual, "I don't subscribe to marketing conversations.  Please can you remove my details from your database with immediate effect.  I am registered with the TPS", which usually stops them in their tracks and they promptly finish their spiel.  This time it was different.  The guy on the other end of the phone told me that the Open University had provided them with my details.  Full name (Sunday name), landline telephone number and all the rest of it.

Yeah.  Gobsmacked.
So I had a bit of a rant on Twitter with a few 'fucks' thrown in for good measure.
I copied the rant to Facebook just so everyone knew how I felt.

My colleague asked if I'd ring the Open University from work so she could listen in with a brew as part of her morning entertainment.  She loves it when I get a bit irate and high-pitched on the phone.

I phoned the OU and asked to speak to the person who is in charge of either Data Protection or the person responsible for selling details to external marketing organisations.  They were adamant that they don't share student details with anyone other than an organisation who handles calls to promote OU-related events and further studies.  But how did the marketing company know my little-used real name along with my very-rarely given out landline number?  I mean, it's too much of a coincidence for someone to acquire my landline number, ask to speak to me and suggest that they have got my number from the OU, isn't it?  The Open University are "looking into it" apparently.

Anyway, I went out with the dog for a walk along the canal tonight in the dark to clear my head.  It was one of those moonlit nights that made me wish I had taken my proper camera.  Sod's law, eh?

moonlight shadowmoonlight shadow

Considering I didn't have anything to say I've waffled on a fair amount, haven't I?

PS.  I'm on the Britmums Blog this week with my "Blog Talk Round Up" - a few of my favourite geeky blogging links from around t'internet.  Enjoy.

Blognonymous : Flailing Like An Upturned Beetle

This post was submitted to me within the ethos of Blognonymous. Some of you may know who the blogger is when you read through but when family and friends read your blog you sometimes need somewhere just to let it all out - and that's what Blognonymous is here for.    

If you would like to offer any kind of support in the comments but prefer to remain anonymous yourself then there is a "guest comment" facility - sign out of Disqus (if you have used it before), write your comment, click "Post as..." and you will see "guest" appear as an option.

If you would like to contact the Blognonymous team please click on the image to above for more details.

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Some of you will know who I am and I'm fine with that, I just can't have this on my own blog at the moment, too many people in real life read ...

Before the Awful Terrible I was the most laid back person, I lived in a world where nothing could ever get to me. The Husband used to joke that I lived in a bubble and he was right.  After losing my mother at 9 I decided that nothing could be worse than that. I didn't let things get to me and I tried to see the good in everything. If in doubt ... laugh.

Then something did happen.  It's four years since the Awful Terrible when I learned that the world can be a dark place, and people aren't always what they seem.  I waded in, took on more than I could handle, in an effort to protect people, and sank into the quicksand head first. The bubble well and truly burst and I struggled.

It took two long years to get back to a place where I was comfortable. I realised that I couldn't rewind life, I couldn't save everyone from The Awful Terrible and I had two small, loud people who needed me.

It still rumbles on, quietly, underfoot, the Awful Terrible. The situation will never go away. Every so often it tries to pull someone under and I feel like I have to hold onto them and stop them from being smothered by it. This causes stress, stress that I can no longer cope with. It whips the rug from under my feet and leaves me flailing like an upturned beetle waiting for some kind person to come and flip me back over.

I recognise the signs, creeping up on me, again; problems with my memory, a panicky feeling for no apparent reason, no longer feeling happy when I know I should, feeling like I'm stood outside looking in, so many thoughts in my head that I can't just grasp hold of one.

I'm good at dishing out advice, telling people what they should do in hard situations.  What I would tell myself, today, is to concentrate on the important things, the small stuff can wait and go and see the Doctor.
It sounds so bloody simple. I know my limits, I know when enough is enough, I need to step back and take my own advice.

Just for the record ... I am not suicidal, thinking about harming myself, weeping for no reason or thinking about running away with the circus ... althought the latter is tempting.

Listography : 5 photos that sum up my week

This week's Listography is photo-based and I'm getting a bit more experimental with my camera work.  These snapshots were all taken on my phone though and sort of sum up each and every week.  

Visit Kate's blog to see more Listography entries.

The drive to and from work...

My trusty Filofax and Kindle...

A spot of baking using mum's old scales and mixing bowl...

Scanning the skies for a decent sunset...

Wine o'Clock!

Maternity dresses to suit your bump

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Image courtesy of Vertbaudet
There comes a particular point during pregnancy when your usual wardrobe is just not fit for purpose anymore. This point usually occurs sometime early in the second trimester. All of a sudden skirts won't zip up properly, jeans seem to have shrunk excessively around the waist, and you can't get your sequinned sheath dress past your burgeoning bump.

What is a girl to do? She is to go out immediately and buy some maternity dresses!

During pregnancy, I found myself choosing maternity dresses out of the wardrobe far more often than any other type of maternity wear. For comfort and practicality, dresses are hard to beat. Especially if your pregnancy is during the hot summer months, a cotton dress that doesn't restrict your body is the ideal piece of clothing. Practical too for other more delicate reasons. With pregnancy comes the desire to visit the toilet more frequently. Suffice it to say, dresses are far easier to negotiate in a hurry than maternity jeans.

Recently the fashion world has seen a resurgence of the Maxi style dress. Everywhere you look in key designer collections on the catwalk and on the high street, Maxi dresses are being snapped up by the fashion conscious.

What perfect timing! The Maxi style is perhaps one of the best maternity dresses of all time. Choose a dress that has enough upper support and that draws in comfortably below your bust. By definition Maxi dresses have volume and length in abundance, just ideal for dressing the pregnant form. Many maternity dress designers try and extend the shelf-life of their clothes, and this is definitely one style that lends itself to continued wear post-pregnancy.

Image courtesy of Vertbaudet
Vertbaudet sell a sophisticated yet playful maxi style maternity dress in a soft floral blue print. Feminine and flattering, it is so nice that you will definitely find excuses to wear it after your pregnancy. Check out Vertbaudet for other styles of maternity dresses. This French retailer which sells in the UK has cornered the market in good value, stylish maternity clothes, baby and children's wear. Choose from maternity dresses in tunic and shift styles, sun dresses and smart and casual options for most situations. At Vertbaudet, look for interesting maternity designs incorporating pleats, extra panels and wrap around features that mean your beautiful pregnant body is flattered and comfortable at the same time.

Many maternity dresses are manufactured from that old pregnancy favourite, Jersey cotton. Scoring top marks for comfort and stretchiness, you will find it difficult to put together a maternity wardrobe that doesn't contain any of this wonder-fabric. It is so important to feel good about yourself when you are pregnant and simple things such as choosing the right dress in the right soft fabric can make such a difference.

The Vertbaudet collection of maternity dresses features examples in solid colours in flattering shades such as black, grey, green, purple and blue. There are some pretty floral print dresses, and stripes get a look in too, fabrics are predominantly cool and comfortable cotton voile and soft Jersey. For a cool, comfortable and stylish pregnancy, the maternity dress really is the one to wear.

Freedom : #gettogether with Oxfam

This morning, I heard my alarm sound from my mobile phone.  I leaned out from under my thick, king-sized duvet and switched it off.  I swung my legs out of the bed and pushed my (not really all that cold) feet into a warm pair of slippers.  I washed with clean, warm water, I brushed my teeth with clean, cold water.  I woke my son and pressed for him to get a move on so we could have breakfast - a choice of foods from the cupboard and that all-important first cup of tea of the day.  

We left the house and climbed into my car.  I drove him to his school which is in the process of being rebuilt and becoming a brand new high-tech super-school and I continued my journey on a smooth, flat road all the way to my office.  

And here I am now, sat at a desk surrounded by all sorts of modern technology and I hold a senior(-ish) position within the company.  I am lucky enough to be able to pursue my career choice and earn enough money  so that we can manage with one income (for a variety of reasons).  

Tonight, I will go home, order take-away for tea, power up my laptop, converse with a number friends online using social media whilst drinking a bottle of wine.  

That's my Friday right there.  My choice, my life, my freedom.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, Friday 8th March 2012 is International Women's Day and Oxfam are encouraging people to "get together" to raise money to assist women around the world to be empowered and to equip them with the resources to work their way out of poverty.  There's stacks of information on the Oxfam website but fellow blogger, Claire - from The Lazy Girl Blog - is asking women to write about the freedom that they enjoy.  Do you appreciate it?  Do you really know what "freedom" is?  If you write a post about "Freedom" then use the linky on Claire's blog to share your post and to find others on the same subject.

Also, tonight (Friday) I shall be dedicating the #FridayTwiz to the #gettogether campaign using some questions that Claire has provided with a theme of "Women Rock".  Come on over and join in.

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