Friday, 3 December 2010

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

In preparation for the British Mummy Bloggers Christmas Party next week, we've all been asked to write a blog about our Christmas memories. I must admit, I'm finding this one a little difficult. Trawling through my memories I find that many years seem to have disappeared completely, and those that are left behind are at best melancholy, if not altogether traumatic. Christmas should be a time of joy, though, so I want to write about something positive.

So I won't tell you about the Christmas we spent in a women's shelter, sharing a bunk-bed filled dorm with a brave but frail young woman called Lucy, who had been repeatedly gang raped by her boyfriend and his friends. Or about her three year old son whose behaviour frightened me, whose eyes were like those of a panicked horse, and whose tiny chubby arms were covered in cigarette burn marks. I won't write about how much pain it causes me to think about that now that I have a three year old of my own. Or about the anger I feel towards Lucy, even now, knowing she went back to her boyfriend again.

I won't tell you about the excitement of finding out that my mum had saved up for the first Christmas presents we had had in years, because I don't want to write about the crashing shock and pain of seeing the wrapping paper strewn around the room, and all our presents gone, stolen and pawned.

Or about the Christmas I spent at Shawbridge Boys Farm, a youth detention centre in Quebec, visiting someone very special to me. Or about wandering outside in the snow with a lost boy whose family hadn't bothered to visit.

Those memories, and many more like them, are all too painful to reflect upon, now that I have children of my own.

But the surprising thing is that there was a truly wonderful memory tucked up in there too.

It's of a warm, happy house in a tiny town in Ontario, up near Muskoka. Snow coming down thick and fast, the driveway painstakingly shoveled clean by my husband moments before the snowplow turned up - he was so proud of his work, we didn't have the heart to tell him. My little brother is outside smoking, watching the snow, his fingers curled against the cold. My sister in law is chasing my adorable little baby nephew around, as he in turn chases a giant turnip that has rolled across the floor. My mum and my aunt are side by side on the piano bench, both tone deaf but cheerfully trying their best to make music. My aunt, a moroccan jew with an infectious laugh, is happily pounding out (wrong) notes in a bizarre adaptation of traditional Christmas carols. My big brother and I playing Crokinole with such fervour my fingers are bruised and sore, and my uncle acting as commentator while he opens another beer.

It sounds so mundane, so simple. But for me, with a lifetime of trauma behind me, I think perhaps I've always longed for the mundane. For the simple pleasure of being together as a family, smiling, laughing, and at ease.

That's what I want my children to have, every Christmas.

Friday, 19 November 2010

We're Cot Jumping for Children in Need!

The kids have gone all out and done some superb BBC-themed cot jumping to raise money for Children in Need. Please watch the video, share it, tweet it, Like it, etc, and above all please give generously!



Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Will you be at CyberMummy 2011?

I was really keen to go to the first ever CyberMummy conference this year, so just imagine how gutted I was when I realised I would be in a plane over the Atlantic at the time. It sounds like next year the event will be bigger and better than ever... so I am booking those tickets before I get roped into any family commitments abroad!

Mummyshoes has invited us all to a Meet and Greet to get to know each other before the big day, so here's my entry:

Name: Janis Curry

Blogs: MumVersusKids and ReallyKidFriendly.com

Twitter ID: @mumversuskids  and @KidFriendly_UK

Height: about 5ft 6

Hair: Enormous

Eyes: Blue and slightly buggy.

Likes:  Dermot O'Leary, the cBeebies Happy Birthday song, smashing magazine, pretty much everything at NotOnTheHighStree.com, enormous computer monitors, those sticky wok-fried edamame beans from Giraffe, campfires, mountains, mexican beer, guitars, sushi and cosy knitted slippers. Gosh that all makes me sound a bit unusual.

Dislikes: Worms and anything recently visited by a worm.

Please also read Seven Things You Never Knew About Me!

Click here to book tickets if you haven't already!

Monday, 25 October 2010

The coolest thank you note ever

A couple weeks ago I was offered the chance to come along to the Paul Frank Bicycle Film Festival at the Barbican, complete with a family screening of ET and some amazing art workshops with Paul Frank. You can imagine how gutted I was to find it was the same day as a big family gathering I'd been looking forward to for months.

I was fascinated by the very idea of the BFF, so decided to send along my friend Dino, who just so happens to love Paul Frank, good films, bikes, and good films about bikes. This thank you note from his kids made up for me missing a fantastic event:


The empty guitar-pick-shaped space did indeed contain a Paul Frank guitar pick, featuring Julius wearing some sunglasses. It's gone straight into service (read this if you're wondering why) so I haven't scanned it! For added super-loveliness, the kids also drew this lovely picture / mathematical equation of me, my husband, and our children.



If this made you smile, please give it some love below!!
xx

PS - If you want to read Dino's review of the Paul Frank Bicycle Film Festival, click here!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Language lessons from a three year old

Last weekend, we were getting ready to go see our friends up near Oxford, and my husband was telling the kids all about what we would be doing there, and about who we were going to see. M's little friend Patrick, sweetly referred to as Patrick-ino, is half italian and half scottish, so the conversation went a little like this:

M:  And Patrick-ino's mummy is Italian, isn't she? And that means she's from Italy.
Danger Boy (in the background):  Paaaaatch-INO.... Paaaaatch-INO.... Paaaatch-ICK-INO
Daddy:   That's right, so when we say "Hello" to her, we need to say "Bonjourno". Can you say "Bonjourno?"

Silence. A curious and confused stare. We speak a bit of a jumble of French and English at home, with a little bit of Franglais and some made-up words thrown in, and at 3.5 years old, M already has an ear for language. She just plucks new words out of the air and somehow knows how to pronounce them properly (except the word "necessity") and how to use them correctly in context. So I was surprised at the silence.

Until she finally opened her mouth and said,

Daddy, it's not "Bonjourno". It's "BUON-GIORno".

I've since found out that at nursery she teaches her friend T how to say things in French, and T teaches her italian. Isn't that the most incredible thing ever? Two preschoolers hanging out in the Home Corner, teaching each other their minority language? I love it.

Suddenly curious about the italian language, M has been asking loads of funny questions, like "How do you sing in Italian?" (I responded with an italian version of Zoom, Zoom, Zoom: Zuma Zuma Zuma, andiamo alla luna), and "How do you laugh in Italian?".

And this morning, we had this little gem:

M: "Mummy, there's a special way of speaking italian when you're busy eating breakfast".
Me: "Erm..OK, let's hear it."
M: "Mmmm-MMMM-mm.  See, that's how you say Buon-gior-no when you have weetabix in your mouth"

I'm smiling just writing it. To think, I'm in for a lifetime of such moments.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The secret to a happier me: Playing Music

I've recently rediscovered music - creating it, listening to it, savouring it, experiencing it. Strangely enough, I didn't know I had given it up until one day I went to Jeremy Mendonca's slightly free-form and energetic toddler music class. Jeremy biked across the field, standing on the pedals like a big kid, guitar strapped to his back. He burst into the room with such energy, and rather than yet another saccharine rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, got us singing "I'm a Believer" - the Shrek version, and "Ring of Fire", and then the kids ran around with shakers accompanying the mums and dads on "Twist and Shout".

I sang like I'd been locked in a closet for 4 years - singing out loud, I mean really loud, was so incredibly liberating. Liberating from what? Well, something funny happened to me when I had the kids. Parenting (or good parenting) doesn't come naturally, and as a result I have sometimes felt like I'm acting a role rather than actually experiencing life, or experiencing it with the intensity that I'm used to. Partly that means that superb but loud Bad Brains album gathers dust, and rather than singing at the top of my lungs to Janis Joplin, I've been sweetly singing Sleeping Bunnies. Besides giving up my name, my job, my sleep, sponteneity, privacy... I could go on and on! So I felt liberated from the label of being Someone's Mum and felt a little bit more in touch with Me. Needless to say, I've made a point of attending every "Music with Jeremy" session I possibly can!

Anyhow, as some of you will know, Jeremy plays proper music by night, a fun sort of Americana / Bluegrass style. He was playing at a local bar and asked me to come along, so I invited a group of friends, including the fabulous Hilary Kelsh. Watching Jeremy play, Hilary and I both had revelations - separately, and secretly - "I can do that!"*. To make a very very long story short... we confessed our love of music to each other, and well, we made it happen.

Here's the first song in a series of videos from our first ever live show. This song is called Reason, written in August by Hilary Kelsh, and performed at the "Live@25" gig with the help of a few stiff Whisky Macs. I love the part about being "in mourning for myself - not sure who I ought to be".



Please give it a thumbs up and add your comments to YouTube, and if you have time check out some of our other songs on the Hilary Kelsh channel. If you only have time for one more, listen to Shame:



* As it turns out, Hilary can definitely do it!! and I am a bit rubbish and a bundle of nerves, but happy nonetheless. 

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Bear and Sesames of Life

On the way home from Tumbletots this morning I finally managed to coax my two into the buggy so they would stop wandering all over the place and dangerously near the busy road. I instantly regretted it, realising that with them each weighing about 40 or 45 pounds, plus the weight of my buggy, and everyone's extra coats and drinks and boxes of raisins and my groceries... and some random xylophone that M insisted on bringing with us... pushing the buggy for 1.3 miles through Muswell Hill was going to be very hard work indeed.

I huffed and puffed and cursed them under my breath for silly things like having short little legs and not being old enough to drive themselves home (they're only 2 and 3.5, but hey).

And then I heard this:

"Look for the Bare Nam Sessories, they're simply bare nam sessories, forget about your worries and your stripes... it's just the bare nam sessories..."

They were holding hands and swaying left and right in the buggy, and singing with gusto, M wearing a pink t-shirt with her brand new fleece Peppa Pig hat, scarf and mitts, and Danger Boy covered head to toe in stickers (the boy loves his stickers). By the time they got to the verse I was grinning from ear to ear, as was every passerby on the high street.

Funnier still was M correcting Danger Boy:

DB: "The Bear and Sesame, it's simply Bear and Sesame..."
M: "It's not Sesame!!! It's Sessories!!!"

Funny how such a simple little thing can affect your day. My children's slightly mad interpretation of our favourite Jungle Book song made 32 strangers smile, and here's hoping it made you smile too!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Learning Negotiation Skills from a Three Year Old

This morning Danger Boy came down for breakfast wearing his big sister M's silver hairclips in his hair. With his wispy blond hair the effect was something akin to a fluffy chick wearing big shiny staples. Totally ridiculous and unbearably cute at the same time.

Now, as any of you with girls will know, hairclip appropriation is a serious offense, and provides ample justification for all manner of tantrums, strops, tears, and of course the hairclips are normally removed by force along with the clipped hair.

As DB came face to face with M, I saw her face change. Her eyes widened in horror when she say the clips. I waited for the inevitable fall-out. Then a strange thing happened: she visibly gathered herself together and they had a ...wait for it... conversation about it:

M:   "What are those shiny things in your hair?"
DB: "My hair Plips"
M:  "Hair Clips. Kah. Kah. Clips."
DB:  "Yep. My hair Plips."
M:  "Are you sure they're yours?"
DB: "Mine, Hair Plips"
M:  "Because I don't think they're actually yours. Where did you get them from?"
DB: "From up my hair"
M: "Before they were in your hair where were they? Were they in my room?"
DB: "No, my room."
M: "Are you sure? Because they look like the ones in my room."
DB: "no."
M:  {sighs}... "Maybe you can wear them for now. Just for this morning. But next time please ask me before you just take them out of my room."

I think perhaps three year old M has something she could teach me about negotiation, patience, and parenting in general!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

20% Off Sale at White Stuff - Today only

Just got this in my inbox and thought I would share!! Yes, I admit, most of my post-baby clothes are White Stuff... but they are so lovely and flattering, I just can't help it. Thank goodness for the occasional sale. Until midnight tonight they are offering 20% off when you enter "TEABAG" at the checkout on WhiteStuff.com - enjoy!

Monday, 20 September 2010

You heard it here first! (Weird singing by 3 yr old M)

Just looking back through my old boos and had a little chuckle listening to M's weird made up song:

Listen!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Danger Boy sings Happy Birthday on AudioBoo.fm

This is a cute little audioboo of Danger Boy singing the Happy Birthday song from CBeebies.

Listen!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Que sera sera... What will Danger Boy be when he grows up?

Ever wondered what your child will grow up to be? When I look at little Danger Boy I often wonder what he will look like, how he will sound, how he will enjoy spending his time. My friends and I piece together all of his funny little ways, his personality, and the things he just loves to do, and make guesses as to the shape of his future self.
  1. Danger Boy sure does love his money. Every morning he sneaks around our bedroom looking for loose change on the side tables, and then heads for the silver beer stein where we store our unrolled coins, and lifts a few of the "good" ones (how does he know which ones are worth more, I wonder??). Now we've put it out of his reach, he stands beside the bed peering at me from about an inch away from my face saying, "Wake up mummy, give me money. Give me money. Give me money." It reminds me of that kid in Better off Dead who's trying to shake the family down for his $2. Yesterday he was looking all cheery, walking around going "Daddy gave me two money!!", clutching a 50p coin and a 2p. He was a very happy boy.

  2. The boy can run. He never crawled, never cruised. He bum-shuffled until he was about a year (alas, the fate of the second child is to never have precise records of these milestones), then just got up and started running. He will not walk anywhere - even coming home from nursery, he will either sit in the buggy, or he runs all the way home (it's about 1/3 of a mile).  Like a miniature Forrest Gump.

  3. He is ever so slightly too comfortable with jewellery and head wear. He's like some sort of little necklace magnet - he walks past and next thing you know he is draped in dozens of the things. And the hairbands, oh the hairbands. His favourite one is a shiny red one with a big red satin bow. He wears it sitting in his highchair eating lunch, at the playground, and pretty much everywhere else. I had to draw the line when he tried to wear it in the bath. If (heaven forbid) he ever forgets to bring a hairband, hairclip, hat, or some other nonsense, he absolutely must wear a hood.
So this is the sort of thing we're working with, and we really are stumped about his potential future self. Now, I know what you're thinking... but who ever heard of a marathon running pirate?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Why I can't write.

I've had so many ups and downs this month, and such intense experiences that you would think I'd feel compelled to log in and tell everyone. Bizarrely the exact opposite has happened. The bigger the event, the more intense the feelings, and the more I do, the less I feel inclined to write.

Is this a well known form of writers block? Or am I worried that writing about something exhilarating reduces it to the mundane?

I'm dying to tell you about my trip back home and the joy I felt sitting around a fire talking nonsense with my family. And about giggling and doing handstands underwater with a good friend's daughter. And my son's first hair cut. And his first day moving from the creche to the main nursery. And the frustrations and loneliness of trying to start up a business without the full support of people around me. And my visit to the Oracle to talk about growing up and what it means to be me. I want to tell you all about the feeling of flying through the air over a high jump at my audition. And about the way my guitar resonated after I played the last chord on my first ever live performance last weekend.

But I can't. Not yet.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Danger Boy's death defying leap from his cot

The moment we have always been dreading has arrived. Danger Boy has been pretty unhappy with the whole cot situation for some time now. For a few weeks he's been really distressed at bedtime and shouting "No baby bed! No baby cot!", hiding in his sister's bed, in our bed, wherever he can. Then I caught him with one little toe hooked over the top, straining and trying to hoist himself out. Then a few days ago he tried a new tactic - he jumped up and down wildly and tried to pole vault over the top, minus the pole. He got stuck halfway and teetered on the bar before falling back down again.  So we knew it was coming...

But tonight when I heard the THUMP, and the inevitable scream, my heart went in my throat. He did it. He escaped. He jumped and jumped and jumped and lauched himself out of his cot, head first.

He's not like his big sister. He will no doubt tear all over the house at bedtime, or appear in our doorway in the middle of the night. I have no idea what to do or where to start. We can't possibly maintain status quo or the poor little guy will really hurt himself.

Any advice would be most welcome!!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Is my mother dumber than a hamster?

OK, I admit, I'm no genius. Just ask my "I do killer Sudoku in my head, and then write it all out in pen." brother (what a show off!). Analytical and rational? Yes, to a fault. Clever? Yes, I'd like to think so. Do I remember a single thing I have ever learned? Absolutely not.

At some point in my life, I figure I must have learned how leaves and why change colour - I did a Biochemistry degree after all. During the 30 or so years I've had building work going on around me and the 10 or so years actually taking part, I must have absorbed a tiny bit of information about plumbing. Yes, I am one of those people who can read a John Grisham book 8 times and be surprised by the ending every time, but life, you would think, should have prepared me for being able to answer a 3 year old's questions.

This week alone she tripped me up with
  • "How does milk get inside boobies?" I made up some random thing about eating lots of good food and converting it to energy to fuel a special machine inside them to make lots of milk. I got a frown in return, and then "But daddies have lots of energy and they don't have milk. And you got lots of energies and your boobies don't have any milk...? But you use to have milk when I was a baby...?"  Errr.
  • "How does the water get into the toilet?" Aha - from the cistern! "But how does the cistern work?" I haven't a clue.
  • "How did you make the bricks to build the house?" Ask your father.
I've managed to give a somewhat decent reply exactly once, only to have it turned into a question I couldn't answer:

Madeleine:  Mummy, look! Those leaves are green now, and they used to be red! (I hadn't noticed) Why are they green?

Me: Because now they have lots of chlorophyll in them to capture the sunshine and turn it into special food for the plant to make it grow. (really, chlorophyll. She's 3 for crying out loud. It's a wonder I didn't get into ATP and the wonders of phosphofructokinase)

Madeleine: But then how did it grow when it was red?

Madeleine's an incredibly bright little girl, and her curiosity about the world around her is just amazing... and here she is thinking that her mum will have all the answers. Instead she gets a good mix of slightly made up facts, or long periods of silence and a frown, or "ask daddy". Am I actually dumber than a hamster?

Monday, 19 July 2010

What not to do on holiday in Nova Scotia with toddlers

  1. Never point out the dangers of a jellyfish washed up on the beach. The only possible outcome is two 40 pound children clinging to your legs like little koala bears refusing to walk on the sand, followed by days of back pain for Mummy and Daddy.
  2. Never assume the travel cot is still big enough for your toddler. Poor Elliot spent his first night sleeping with his head and feet pressing against either end of the travel cot, and the following night shouting "no baby bed! no baby cot!" and trying to climb out.
  3. Never shuffle along in the grass in tevas during wasp season. I've discovered that having a wasp trapped under my toes inside sports sandals is really not a good thing, and neither was the kids overhearing my cursing from the nearby playground. 
If you can manage to avoid these 3 things, and the hundreds of horseflies, and a trip to the only walk-in medical clinic in town for treatment of infected bites from the horrendous aforementioned creatures on your 3 year old's eye, then I guarantee you'll love Nova Scotia. I'll write again soon with some recommendations on wonderfully child friendly places to visit, including a stunning beach with the warmest waters north of the Carolinas, a museum dedicated to a giantess, and a superb outdoor pool and splash park.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Please help the Joseph Salmon Trust

I wanted to tell you a little about Joseph Salmon, but with two beautiful healthy little children at home, I simply can't write the words. So I am pasting some bits and pieces from other sites in hopes that you will be compelled to give generously to the Joseph Salmon Trust, a charity providing financial support for those who have lost a child.

Joseph was a happy, healthy three year old who loved life. He enjoyed playing with his toy trains, his cars and his pretend kitchen. He had a busy social life, with lots of friends from nursery, friends who lived nearby and his little sister.


He enjoyed cooking with his mummy,going on trains and buses with his daddy, and playing outside with anyone who would join in.


Joseph had a passion for books and had just started to ‘read’ them to his younger sister. It felt like his life was just beginning.


This all changed on 1st April 2005, when Joseph died. Joseph did not suffer, he simply fell into a deeper sleep from which he never awoke.


The Joseph Salmon Trust has been set up in his name.

from http://www.thejosephsalmontrust.org.uk/

Later this month, 60 people from all over the world are coming together to walk the 84 mile length of the Hadrian’s Wall Footpath to raise money for the Joseph Salmon Trust. So far they've raised £15,575 - as walker Dan Hughes says, "that £15,575 is made up of £5, £10, and £20 pound notes. Every penny counts and every time a donation comes in the total creeps ever higher."

Please give whatever you can.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

How do I get my little boy NOT to dart across the road??

I have a big problem. Well, a short cute little problem, really. His name is Elliot, and he is what is commonly known as a Rampaging Toddler. He doesn't walk - he either hops or runs, and when he runs, well... Do you remember that episode of Friends where Rachel and Phoebe go running? He runs like a much shorter and slightly loopier version of Phoebe, arms flailing everywhere, grinning like a maniac. Yesterday he spilled something on his top, so they sent him home from Nursery wearing the only thing they could find - a skin tight pink short sleeve vest with a rabbit on the front and big handwritten N U R S E R Y on the back. I couldn't help thinking he had specifically requested that top to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the Crazy Running Boy effect.

Anyhow...

Crazy Running Boy firmly refuses to listen when I tell him to stop or slow down, and he is such a slippery little sucker that I can't hold on to his hand without hurting him. After a year of being completely still or just bum-shuffling, he is so incredibly excited about the fact he can now run and jump and join his big sister in the excitement of inspecting each and every leaf and ant on the way home. The only trouble is that we have to walk along a main road, and cross several streets to get home, and he just will not listen. He darts out toward the curb suddenly, or runs off diagonally when we are crossing the road.


I've been so terrified at his complete lack of sense that I've resorted to strapping him into the buggy. He turns himself inside out and backwards trying to get out, and then scowls at me the rest of the way. I feel terrible. I feel like I'm depriving him of a really nice little adventure... but honestly, it's not worth the risk.


I never had this with Madeleine. Is it a boy thing? What do you do to instill some traffic sense into your toddlers?

And when he shouts "Stop! Look! Listen! Think!" (from Madeleine's road safety sticker book) over his shoulder at me as he runs headlong into traffic, is he really just doing it to see the look on my face? 

Monday, 14 June 2010

Are my kids mixed race?

I haven't written a blog in a while - I've been suffering from some sort of "I have so much to say that I can't figure out where to start" writers block. Recent blog posts by Sian and Yan To about racial 'jokes' their 6 year old daughter has been subjected to have shocked me out of it. 

I'm angry at what happened but not at all surprised. The issue of race has been a big feature in my life, albeit in a very strange way. My mother is "Canadian" (a mixture of English/Irish/Acadian), and my dad is from Goa. I turned out with relatively pale skin, brown curly hair and blue eyes - in other words I don't look like an ethnic minority. When I was younger, people picked up not on my appearance but my Dad's. I was subjected to awful racial slurs and "jokes" by so-called friends and even close family. My first memories of being called a "Pakki" and a "Coon" were when I was about 4 or 5.

Throughout school and even after University, I must have subconsciously defined myself as a minority, or at least as a misfit. I had the occasional "white" friend, but somehow always ended up with a group of friends that looked like an ad from The United Colours of Benetton. Because of how I had been treated, and how I expected to be treated, I felt I had more in common with the kids who had recently arrived from Nigeria, Trinidad, Cameroon, India, Vietnam, and everywhere else, than the kids who were born in my town and had spent their lives on the same streets. Bear in mind I grew up in Canada, a country thought of by many as being PC and inclusive, and of making a concerted effort to atone for its (many sordid) racial sins. You wouldn't imagine that in such an environment one child would call another a Pakki, or that an adult could tell a 5 year old child she has "Coon hair". You wouldn't imagine that a teacher could tell a pupil that her father's native tongue was "made up and isn't really a proper language". But it happened.

Somewhere down the line, my ethnicity became something to be proud of. Just as quickly, it was completely turned on its head. When people realised that my father was Indian, they would look at me in disbelief and say "obviously he's not a real Indian". Ummm.. OK. So when I was a child I was too Indian, and now I am just not Indian enough.

My husband is "white British", and our children are fair-skinned, fair haired little cuties. Their blood is a mixture of English, Irish, French Acadien, Indian, Portuguese, and probably quite a few other things thrown in for good measure. My Acadian ancestors were persecuted by my husband's British ancestors, so the idea of them being defined as British makes me feel a little queasy.

I have to admit I am at a bit of a loss in terms of how I help them define themselves. Are they mixed-race? Or mixed-heritage? Or are they British after all?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Daddy has a list too, but his is rubbish and should be ignored

Dear children:

I am not at all pleased with the wailing and screaming competition you enjoy having at bedtime when Daddy is out climbing. For you, I have sacrificed my body, my career and my sanity. I have baked stuff (okay, it was once, and it did involve a little bit of help from Betty Crocker). I have begun to come to terms with appearing in public on a regular basis with snot and/or porridge smeared across my thigh.

Daddy has a list too, but his is rubbish and should be ignored. Just because that one time we left you nappy free for too long and some pee shot across the room and hit Daddy in the mouth does not mean that he deserves nicer behaviour at bathtime.

Thank you.

Mummy

P.S. 5:30 a.m. doesn't count as official "morning time". Please bear that in mind for tomorrow.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Review of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

A few weeks back I was invited to a super sneaky sneak preview of Prince of Persia : The Sands of Time at the London Headquarters of Disney. They tortured me by treating me to a once in a lifetime experience in their screening room and then swearing me to secrecy until after the premiere, so I have been bursting with excitement and frustration ever since. I should warn you, I'm not a film critic or a particularly good writer, just a Prince of Persia enthusiast!! Anyhow here goes...


Synopsis:

The makers of Pirates of the Caribbean, Walt Disney Pictures and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, join forces with award-winning director Mike Newell (Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire) for the blockbuster movie event of the summer, PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME – an epic action-packed adventure set across the mystical lands of Persia. A rogue prince reluctantly joins forces with a mysterious princess and together they race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time – a gift from the gods that can turn back time and allow its possessor to rule the world.  Source: Disney Pictures


Review of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time:
Prince of Persia strikes the perfect balance between action, adventure, humour and romance, and is reminiscent of the much loved classic adventure movies we grew up with, like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Romancing the Stone. The film is set amid rolling sand dunes and the combination of impressive cinematography and the sweeping orchestral music had me completely hooked from the first minute of the film.

I can't say that I was overly impressed with the "mysterious princess" (Gemma Arterton) - there was something about her that seemed a bit wooden and out of place, though perhaps that was intentional given her situation. I was similarly a little disappointed with Sir Ben Kingsley's character - he is a superb actor, but the script doesn't give him much room and as a result his character was somewhat lacking in intensity. Good, yes, but I was hoping for a powerful character along the lines of Saruman from The Lord of the Rings.


Jake Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, makes the film his own. Much like our swashbuckling hero Indiana Jones or even Captain Jack Sparrow, his character will win over any audience with its charm, cheekiness and dry humour. It's safe to say his incredibly sexy unkempt look certainly doesn't hurt. He was a perfect choice for the role of Dastan, and I think we'll be seeing him cast as the lead in many more of these fun adventure and action movies.

The film is packed with exhilarating and beautifully choreographed action sequences. Fans of the Prince of Persia game will appreciate the fluidity of some of Jake Gyllenhaal's moves - the style and tone are true to the game, but executed in a much more subtle way than most game-inspired films.

I won't give any more away... All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and am really looking forward to its official release in UK cinemas so I can see it again!

Dying to see it? Please comment below & tweet to your heart's content...

Monday, 10 May 2010

Religious Education: Fail

We were walking through an unfamiliar neighbourhood the other day, and Madeleine spotted a church. Now, before I continue, I have a confession to make: I'm not a regular churchgoer. I have deep-seated Catholic guilt built in and readily available, and the idea of our kids not being baptised (yet) fills me with anxiety (purgatory doesn't sound all that great, really), but no, churches don't really feature too much in our everyday lives. I didn't think much of my failure to educate Madeleine in terms of religion until this incident...

Anyhow, we're walking past a church, and Madeleine decides this is a great time to elucidate all those bits of Christianity for herself that I never quite got around to explaining to her properly:

Madeleine:  Look, mummy, that's a church! That's like St James! (where we went for Christmas mass)

Me: Yes, that's right.

Madeleine:  That's where Jesus was living at Christmastime. But he doesn't really live in the church does he, mummy?

Me:  errr...no.

Madeleine: Because he lives with his Daddy!

Me: Yes, that's about right.

Madeleine: And his Daddy is called Adboral (Admiral) Nelson!  And he lives at London!

Elliot: Yeah!

Me: Oh dear.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Last Minute Offer for May Half Term Holidays

I'm bursting with excitement about my visit to Disney last week... okay, it was Hammersmith (London) and not Florida, but hey, small steps, right? Anyhow I am anxiously awaiting permission to tell you all about the ultra secret sneak preview of... I can't even tell you then name yet! Well, you'll have to wait, but just know that some time soon they will be releasing a high energy beautifully choreographed adventure film that left me smiling like a lunatic on the tube on the way home. Anyhow, while we await permission to tell you all about the film, I thought I'd give you a heads up on some excellent last minute offers and Kids Eat Free deals they have for their May Half Term break, Summer holidays and beyond.


Last Minute offer 25%+ off your Disney World room for travel this Spring
(perfect for a sunny May Half Term break)

Arrival Period: 1st May – 30 June 2010 

Book before 31 May 2010 and travel between 1 May and 30 June 2010 and enjoy discounts up to 25% on your room. Terms & Conditions apply. 
Click for more details >>

Escape the weirdly wintery English weather, enjoy a fabulous family holiday, and save money too - who could ask for anything more? And no, the photo below was most definitely not taken in Hammersmith. 




Other current offers:

Dine for Free - Saving of £1035!

Arrival Period: 5th July – 18th November 2010
Book 5 or more nights in a Disney Hotel (Moderate or Deluxe) including ticket before 2nd August and and you’ll enjoy FREE Disney dining for the duration of your stay.
Free dining includes up to 100 eateries across the Resorts and all 6 Parks at Walt Disney World, meaning there is something for every occasion. From fine dining to meals with Mickey and from indulgent delicacies to healthy choices. The Free Dine offer makes dining at Disney hassle free and saves you money too. This offer is combinable with the 10% discount web weekend offers. Terms & Conditions apply.
Click for more details >>


Save up to 60% when you book Staybridge Suites (Non-Disney Hotel)
Arrival Period: Stays between 18 April – 11 June, 21 August - 1 October and 31 October – 22 December 2010.
On select travel dates you enjoy savings up to 60% in this all-suite hotel centrally located near the magic of Walt Disney World Resort. Features 1 and 2 bedroom air conditioned suites with fully equipped kitchens and separate living room and provides comfort and convenience for everyone in the family. Located in Lake Buena Vista just 1.5 miles from Walt Disney World Resort. This offer is combinable with the Kids Eat Free offer. Terms & Conditions apply.
Click for more details >>


Kids Eat Free when you book at stay at a Non Disney hotel

Arrival Period: 23 February – 4 July 2010
Book by 31st May 2010 and get a free Kids Eat Free Card for every child if you stay in one of our Good Neighbour Hotels (non-Disney). Valid in over 130 restaurants in the Orlando area. For every adult meal purchased at one of the participating restaurants a child can eat for free! This offer is combinable with the 60% off Staybridge Suites offer. Terms & Conditions apply.
Click for more details >

Disclosure:
Clicking on the affiliate links above helps me ensure Really Kid Friendly remains a free resource for parents with unbiased, honest opinions about great places to go with babies and children. I have affiliate links for a wide range of businesses brands and only promote those which I'd be happy to recommend to other parents.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Sale on stylish maternity clothes

20% off at Isabella Oliver until midnight tonight-

Isabella Oliver, well known for their stylish range of maternity clothes, has just won a distinguished award from Her Majesty The Queen. A Queen's Award is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a UK company, and it is a fantastic recognition of their hard work.

To celebrate winning the UK’s most prestigious award for business performance, Isabella Oliver is throwing a one day sale party. Treat yourselves to 20% off Isabella Oliver until Midnight tonight (Wednesday 21st April) - just enter QUEEN at the checkout.

Disclosure:
Maternity Banner - Free Delivery - 250x250 Clicking on the affiliate links above helps me ensure Really Kid Friendly remains a free resource for parents with unbiased, honest opinions about great places to go with babies and children. I have affiliate links for a wide range of maternity and family brands and only promote those which I'd be happy to recommend to other parents.


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The perfect song to have stuck in your head on a sunny day

It's a beautiful sunny day here in London - perfect for doodling around the park with this little song stuck in your head....


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Seven things you never knew about me

The lovely Tiddlyompompom (great name!) has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award 2010, and with it a challenge to tell you 7 things you didn't know about me. Eek. Here goes...

  1. I'm not entirely convinced about my married name (sorry hubby), even having lived with it for 5 years. My maiden name (Pereira) was exotic and musical, a sort of melt-in-your-mouth surname. My married name (Curry) just makes me think of after-pints emergency food or electronics superstores. I never really minded constantly having to spell my name to everyone - it made me feel special. More special than saying "er...like the food".
  2. I hate it when people fold the tops of cereal boxes inwards. Ugh. It's making me cringe just writing this!
  3. When the post arrives it piles up until my OH makes me open it (whatever would I do without him!!?? besides having a better name, that is...), and then I tear everything open and look inside. No, the contents never quite make it out of the envelope. It is a wonder I am able to exist in the real world, with bills and stuff.
  4. My house is filled with cryptic notes to myself (cryptic even to me) written on anything that can be written on. Favourite materials include torn-open envelopes (see above), around the borders of an article inside a magazine, along the tops of newspapers, etc. I use every bit of the paper possible, with no regard to orientation, placement or priority. My notes include random unrecognised phone numbers with no name anywhere in sight. I keep them because I am bonkers just in case.
  5. I once had an undercut. And little mini dreads. With silver foil on the end. Yes, recently.
  6. When I play guitar I can't quite get the bar chords to stop buzzing so I cheat and only play the top 5 strings in hopes that Hilary won't notice. Maybe I should practice that before we start recording...
  7. I have a deep rooted fear of worms and all things wiggly. No it's not irrational, and if you're easily grossed out, then stop reading. When I was about 14 my friend Jen and I camped out in her back garden in Winnipeg. It rained a little, and when we woke up the tent was pitch black, but light was streaming in through the door. Weird, I thought. I got out and looked and screamed like I have never screamed before (my heart is pounding as I write). There on top of our tent were thousands of bright green canker worms, rained down from the big tree we were under. Big fat ones, little skinny ones.. you name it, they were all there in some sort of disgusting writhing green shiny wormfest. We aren't talking about a few worms. We are talking about wall-to-wall sunlight-blocking wormage. It gets worse. We had to remove and dispose of each and every one before we were allowed to fold up Jen's dad's tent (we used inside-out tape on a roll, in case you're wondering). I have more worm-based horror stories, but that's enough for today. 

I'd also like to nominate the 7 fantastic blogs below for the Kreativ Blogger Award 2010 ...


If you're listed above, please accept your nomination for the award by:
  • copying the award image to your blog
  • linking back to my blog as a little thank you for nominating you
  • blogging about seven things we don’t know about you
  • tagging seven more people, linking to their blogs (don't forget to tell them they've been nominated & what to do to accept their nomination!)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Bilingualism Fail #1: Stumped by a two year old

I've been trying to speak to Madeleine in French at home, and I have to admit it was going incredibly well until she turned two. Suddenly instead of being content with French action songs and basic vocabulary, she was soaking up information like a sponge and asking questions about everything in sight... and I didn't know the answers.

I can still remember the first time she really stumped me (pardon the pun):

M: What's that?
Me: C'est un arbre (it's a tree)
M: No, but what tree is it?
Me: C'est un arbre très spécial avec un tronc argenté (it's a very special tree with a silvery trunk)
M: But what it's name?
Me: Ummmmmm... c'est un "silvère - burche"

You can see where this is going. It may eventually have occurred to me to say "bouleau", but never in a million years would it have occurred to me to say "bouleau verruqueux" (yes, I looked it up, so I am a good mother after all), and not only because it sounds like a tree with warts.

Perhaps Club Petit Pierrot will save us from a lifetime of Franglais. Madeleine got her first report card today, and apparently she understands very well and knows the words (I wonder who she learned them from!!), but usually answers back in English. She is also "a lively child and finds it hard to stay focused"... hmmm...must be from my OH's side of the family.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Today is my birthday and it's 3!

I was going to do a Wordless Wednesday, but I couldn't resist a few words on this one. Three years ago (minus a day), this is the view I had looking down:


Today is Madeleine's 3rd birthday. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Madeleine, and "A Very Merry Un-Birthday" to Elliot, and we're all very very excited.

Madeleine has asked if she can please have a Baby Sister because "I don't even have any, and I only have a baby brother and sometimes he is naughty, really, and he keeps bundling me. And he's a bit of a bitey boy isn't he?"

Madeleine is chattier than ever on the subject of her birthday - here is a random snippet from this morning:  "Yesterday was the last day of being 2, and today is my birthday and it's 3 (sree), and Elliot's 1, but it's not his birthday. And I am very bigger and I can put on my socks and a lovely dress all by myself and .. look, Daddy buyed me a t-shirt and it's Ernie and a rubber ducky from my TV!!"

Happy birthday little curly-locks! xxx

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

M's random musings on the Dangers of Walking Home

That plant is very prickly and poky [walking past a holly bush] and if you touch it, it will hurt you. And it will poke a hole into your finger, or poke a hole in your hand. Or if you put it on your eye it will poke a hole inside your eye and then you can't see anything and you will have a poorly eye and you might need some special medicine drops to go inside your eyes. And if I close my eyes I can't see anything. But if I can't see anything I might fall down and I might step in doggy poo and a car might bonk me on the head. Mr Bump has a "yuge" plaster because he always falls down and is bonked on the head and apples fall on him. That's funny, isn't it mummy?

Sunday, 14 February 2010

I can’t believe he’s proposing while I’m wearing his dad’s enormous fleece socks over my jeans


Claire’s Valentines Day carnival made me think of this life-changing event from January 2004:

My boyfriend (G) and I were up in Yorkshire over the Christmas holidays, staying in a cozy little cottage. That morning I lay there, tucked under 3 blankets on one of those funny beds that fold out of the wall, groggily coming to after sleeping off a fair amount of whiskey-and-ginger-ale and a week’s worth of celebrations up in Newcastle.

All I could imagine doing was spending the whole day in that bed, springs digging into my side, G poking at the fire with a stick as men do, and maybe stretching so far as to read the Craven Herald. Instead, G insisted that it was the perfect day for a hike. Hmmm… freezing cold, sleeting, and foggy in the middle of North Yorkshire, yes, what a beautiful day for a hike. I scowled at him, hoping this would bring him to his senses. He pestered me until I finally relented and we set off on our hike up to Simon’s Seat, the highest peak in the area. After about 4 hours of me grumpily trudging uphill wearing every item of clothing I own in hopes of keeping out the damp Yorkshire cold, muttering curses under my breath, we finally reached the peak. I looked around and could see…

… nothing. Absolutely nothing. We were smack in the middle of thick cloud, and instead of seeing the whole of Yorkshire, I could see about 5 feet in front of me, consisting of wet gray rocks, slush, and …. G on one (now soggy) knee in the slush in front of me, holding my knitted red mittened hands in his.

There is no way to describe that feeling, knowing what’s coming, wondering whether it's real or an elaborate wind-up, being ever so slightly petrified and unbelievably excited all at once. I thought I was going to burst. A million things when through my head, most of them being completely inane, like “I can’t believe he’s proposing while I’m wearing his dad’s enormous fleece socks over my jeans”, and “gosh, if I’d said no, how would we have gotten back down off this peak?”. But mostly I was thinking, "a grumpy, frizzy-haired and famously unfashionable Canadian girl dressed for the cold is not a pretty sight, and this guy is looking at me like I'm the most beautiful girl in the world. This is real."
Of course, I said yes.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Elliot will always be my (rascally) little baby, even when he's 45

I can already see a huge distinction between my kids' personalities, even at 17 mo and 34 mo. Madeleine is the most cheerful little bug you could ever imagine - she literally springs out of bed singing and chattering. I can barely even speak until 11 am, so I think she must get it from my dad, who likes to chat about his love of sorting mangoes (for proper ripening) at 5 a.m. Anyhow... she's also very precise and methodical, reads and paints with intense concentration that you rarely see on a (nearly) 3 year old, and loves being a "grown up big girl". It doesn't take much imagination to work out that by the time she hits school age she could very easily be a curly version of Summer from School of Rock. She's very much a First Child.


Elliot on the other hand is, well, ... like the tazmanian devil or Roger Rabbit in an incredibly delicious little wrapper. On speed. He has never been seen in one place longer than 10 seconds, and runs everywhere at lightning speed. He refuses to climb down the stairs backwards, but instead launches himself forwards off the top step and hopes for the best. If he wants something, he doesn't bother asking, he just climbs up and gets it. If he is hungry, he pours all the Shreddies out onto the floor and just stuffs a handful into his mouth and speeds away giggling and crunching. In short, he's a mischievious little rascal but too quick to catch and reprimand. But even if he slowed down long enough for me to tell him off, who could possibly stay angry at my baby boy's sweet little face? He knows, and he milks it. He'll be that kid in school who saunters in 5 minutes after the bell, and smiles sweetly at the teacher while he makes up an excuse for not having done his homework, and be forgiven all his sins (there will be many - that I can guarantee!) for his adorable little grin. He'll be the classic Baby of the Family.

It's strange to think that neither of them will ever have the same experience I had growing up as a middle child (my legs are firmly crossed). I think having less attention when I was growing up made me more outgoing, more frank, more energetic, more expansive in my gestures - I needed to have a big personality to be noticed at all. When it suited me, though, I could tone it right down and just sail along in my older brother's slipstream - people automatically pinned his personality and abilities on me, so I really lucked out at school having all my sins forgiven because people assumed I was as smart and diligent as my big brother.


Being the baby of the family and then suddenly having it ripped away is something that both the older child and middle child experience, and actually I think it affects your whole perspective on life, your ability to deal with emotional trauma, and your expectations of others around you. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I have this sense that the Baby of the Family will always have an extra special place in his mum's eyes - whether it's shrugging off his rascally behaviour or turning up with tupperwares full of food when he moves into his own place.

All I know is that my delectable little Elliot will always be my baby.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Madeleine's Daddy is Up to the Sky

Madeleine: Mummy?
Me: Yes...?
Madeleine: You love Daddy because you're not very big.
Me: Errr...what?
Madeleine: You love Daddy because he can reach all the things, and you can't reach them. Because he's big and big. And he's up to the sky. And you only have small legs, but Daddy has big furry ones so he can reach everything.

Friday, 29 January 2010

I'm a little bit big and a little bit small

Madeleine is in a really funny 'changeling' phase at the moment. At times she is such a grown up little girl, with a fierce independence and the insight and cleverness of someone who has been here before.

Tonight, though, she decided that she wanted to be a baby again. We brought her friend C home from nursery, and stopped in to see his baby sister V. She must have noticed what a fuss we were making of adorable little V, and so when we got home, Madeleine says
"Mummy I'm not a big girl anymore today. I don't want to play with my big friends because I'm only a baby now. And now I don't know how to say any words, I only say Ga ga ga ga. Okay?". 
Errr.... OK. So I played along for 5 minutes, and thought it would all go back to normal but suddenly she's demanding to wear a nappy, she won't go in her bed because it hasn't got enough bars on it, and she wants lullabies instead of her bedtime stories. ARGH!!!!!  So, 45 minutes later there I was, still trying to be firm but fair, but absolutely NOT giving in, and giving myself some sort of ulcer in the process. Just as I thought I might actually throttle her, she says,
"Actually mummy I'm not really a baby, am I? My birthday is at March and it will be 3. And 3 is big like the big childrens at nursery. I think maybe I'm a little bit big and a little bit small."
And then she zoomed off and placed the last of her pull-up pants (untouched in 4 months) on the stairs for me to take to Baby V, and snuggled down into her Big Girl Bed. 

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Cry Translator

I've just read about the most incredible development - an iPhone app that translates your baby's cries (unsurprisingly it's called the Cry Translator). It claims to recognise the broad meaning of a baby's cry within seconds, letting you know whether your little one is hungry, sleepy, annoyed, stressed or bored.

There was an interesting quote in The Telegraph -
Parenting experts said they feared the technology on the Apple phone could discourage mothers from relying on their instinct and experience.
Siobhan Freegard, of the website Netmums.com, told The Sun: "Learning to interpret cries is part of the bonding process and forms the foundation for good communication."

I absolutely agree with Siobhan Freegard about the importance of learning to interpret your baby's cries, but I'd love the know the original context of her statement. It feels quite negative in this context, but as a stand-alone comment it could equally be in praise of the new product. Siobhan? Care to comment?

In any case, here is my view - not as a "parenting expert", but as a mum with two toddlers and friend to dozens of other mums.

When my little ones entered my world, I didn't instantly understand what they were trying to communicate. Like many mums I know, I tried to follow my instinct but rarely felt I was getting it right.

The first few nights, every time Madeleine cried my maternal instincts and my body told me that I absolutely must feed her (and when I did she stopped crying), but experienced parents and midwives told me that I was absolutely wrong and that she most definitely should not be fed again. I'm not alone in being given "professional" advice that conflicted with what I felt was right, and being made to doubt my own judgement at such a crucial stage. Perhaps because I doubted my judgement, or perhaps because I just didn't have an innate ability to understand my baby's cries, for the first couple of months I felt a little panicky and flustered every time she cried, and found myself floundering around trying everything I could think of. Nappy? No. Burp? No. Lights too bright? No. Hungry? ...


We had a major breakthrough when my friend S handed me her dog-eared copy of The Baby Whisperer. Tracy Hogg has a brilliant crib sheet for deciphering a baby's cries, encouraging mums to stop fussing around trying everything they can think of and instead just observe their baby for a few seconds. Following her crib sheet, I started to listen properly to Madeleine's cries, look at the shape of her tongue (e.g. curled when hungry), and suddenly it all became clear. Almost overnight I was able to very quickly work out whether she was hungry, overstimulated, tired, bored, etc, and as a result there were far fewer tears in our house - from both of us!!


The crib sheet in the Baby Whisperer was put together based on a lifetime of experience with lots of different babies. I don't know what the Baby Whisperer's success rate is, but I know it worked for me and my life was miles better for it.

When the Cry Translator iPhone app was tested, a staggering 96% of the babies stopped crying when their carers followed the translation and suggestions given by the app. Mind you, it was in a controlled environment, but that is still a remarkable success rate.

Personally I think this little app, though pricey, has the potential to transform those first few weeks for any new mum, and even for experienced mums with a new baby and different cry - in the same way that The Baby Whisperer transformed my life. In a way it's just a portable high-tech version of Tracy Hogg's advice, and gives new parents another tool to help them understand their new baby, enjoy more tear-free time with their new little family. After a few days following Tracy Hogg's advice, my interpretations of Madeleine's cries started to get quicker and more accurate. Her crib sheet soon became positive reinforcement for me as a parent - I would think "ah, she must be hungry", then quickly check the list and find that my guess also matched what Tracy suggested, feed her, and feel pretty fantastic about myself and my ability to finally get what my little girl was telling me. After a couple of weeks I felt completely in tune with her. 

My gut feeling is that this new iPhone application may well help new mums and dads build their self-confidence as parents, and trust their instincts just as The Baby Whisperer did for me, and that can only be a good thing.


I'd love to know what other mums and the parenting experts think - just leave your comments below, and please forward this onto your friends.

Just a word about the comments - if you're going to slate it please consider the feelings of mums and dads who may be struggling with a crying baby. Some of the comments on the Sun's article were quite insulting and made me feel a bit, well, sad.


I look forward to reading your comments!

PS - Click here to download the Cry Translator from iTunes (UK) - If you do decide to try it out, please come back to this blog and let me know how you got on!!

P.P.S. - If you've come across this blog because you're looking for support or advice, some good sources outside of your friends and family are big parenting communities like Netmums , and your midwife or health visitor. If you need immediate advice or support, I would recommend calling the Cry-Sis helpline, 08451 228 669. 

My blog will also be available on the AppStoreHQ. If you've also blogged about it (pro or con!) add their widget to your blog by clicking here.
Best iPhone apps at AppStoreHQ

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Competition: Ghost of Café Visits Yet To Come

Just before we were due to have our first children, another NCT mum and I waddled up to the woods for a bit of fresh air. We found some seats at the cafe and were about to tuck into some delicious smoked mackerel pate when suddenly the atmosphere and the volume changed as kids began streaming in. As the clock crept closer to noon, more and more mums appeared, each with what looked like 50 kg of paraphernalia, each being tugged at by grubby little hands demanding ice cream and pom bears.

It suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t just going to have a baby to dress up in adorable clothes and cuddle. I would actually need to leave the house every now and then, work out how to feed the baby while out and about, carry around a hundred changes of clothes and baby paraphernalia everywhere I went, and know where to find the closest changing table. Worse, one day my baby would turn into a frighteningly loud toddler and would tug at me demanding pom bears.

One day I would need to know what a pom bear was.

Confronting my “Ghost of Café Visits Yet To Come” is what eventually led me to start up my  website, ReallyKidFriendly.com. It's quickly becoming a valuable resource for mums and dads so they know exactly what to expect when they head out the door. No, nothing about pom bears, but we do tell you about changing tables, bottle warming, crayons and the sorts of things that can make your outings a little less stressful and much more enjoyable.

New Mums and Parents-to-be:

Are you worried about what you'll do with your days? Do you find toddlers a bit scary (I do, and I've got two of them!!)? Wondering where to meet other new mums & dads in your neighbourhood? Starting to get a little nervous about the idea of breastfeeding in public? I’d love to know what types of places you’d like to know more about so I can keep improving the website. Please add your comments below!

I’m running a little “mum-to-be” / "dad-to-be" prize draw as a thank you - prizes include some fantastic Being Dad DVDs, all-natural mummy & baby pampering kits from the Boo Boo Shop, and a home visit from a lovely massage therapist who specialises in pregnancy massage.