Saturday, 25 September 2010

The One with the Online Conference

Motherhood has brought about a whole new set of events in my life. 

Blogging being one of them and with blogging has come my association with British Mummy Bloggers (known furthermore as BMB - even though I blog I'm not the worlds most natural typist!)

So with an eye to increase my "traffic" (get me with the jargon), improve my content and make a bit of cash from this writing lark, I put my name down for an online conference, arranged through BMB, with a media company called Glam all about advertising on your blog.

Advised to log on 10 to 15 minutes before the conference started I duly clicked the link on the e-mail and from then on I was transported to a world I had no comprehension of before.

Various screens flickered in front of me. I clicked where I needed to click. Agreed where I needed to agree. Then I was taken to the screens of the presentation.

There was a small box showing volume and microphone and I remembered the e-mail said to un-click mute before the session started.

Now call me naïve but I thought that was so we could hear the presentation. I also thought it would be a recorded voice track to go along with the slides.

But I was wrong!

It was live. Completely live. All singing, all dancing live. I could hear Clare from Glam and all the other attendees and they could hear me. I just had to talk at the screen.

You may be reading this thinking “Duh woman I use this kind of technology everyday in my glamorous world” but this bit of kit was a revelation to me.

Of course being heard had its pitfalls!

For a start I was chomping through a huge portion of leftover spinach and ricotta cannelloni, which didn’t go unnoticed.

Then the boy woke up and wanted his lunch, so as proceedings got underway I was feeding him chicken and sweet potato gratin (if it’s got a cheese sauce on it, it’s a gratin).

Then Oscar rose from his slumber and miaowed constantly at me until I managed to secure his silence with a dish of milk!

The boy, now fed and watered wanted to play, so was pacified with a bright plastic toy and then the quietening miracle that is fromage frais!

Still through all this, I managed to make notes, follow what was going on, ask questions and generally get enthused about the whole project. And importantly it made me feel human again and not just Mum. This was proper grown up stuff. We learnt about Leaderboards, MPU’s and Skyscrapers. We talked about niche content, budgets and the difference between a PR agency and an Advertising agency. For a whole hour I didn’t think about nappies, baby food, formula or the best highchairs to buy!

Whether anyone noticed the pestering cat, slurping baby, Italian food munching chaos that is lunchtime in my house I don’t know. Maybe they were too polite to say?

Or maybe, just maybe, I can now do all these things whilst also maintaining a reasonable air of professionalism?

It seems motherhood has brought about a whole new set of skills with it too!

Monday, 20 September 2010

The One with the Home Cooking - part 2

I love to cook. My ample figure is testimony to that!

I love everything about cooking. From reading recipe books and food magazines, to the sourcing and buying of ingredients, to the preparing, chopping, stirring, mixing, cooking and finally eating of the fruits of my labours.

I love to cook for people. Nothing, to me, shows more you care about someone than to take the time and trouble to cook them a meal. Or a cake. Or a batch of biscuits. Or scones.So it won't surprise you to learn that in previous years I have made edible gifts for Christmas.

Tomorrow is the first official day of Autumn and with it's "mists and mellow fruitfulness" (that's your actual poetry you know - I believe it's Keats) comes the glut of tomatoes, apples, plums and squashes that cry out for chutney and pickle making. September usually heralds the start of my Christmas present  surge culminating in a mad rush of shortbread, biscotti and savoury nibbles a few days before Christmas Eve. Tuck in there somewhere a bottle or two of home made limoncello liqueur (shaken, not stirred, every time you walk past) and you pretty much have my Christmas all wrapped up (pun intended).

Only this year I have the boy!

And by the boy, this time, I mean hubby!

I have been told in no uncertain terms that while the lad is little I will be too tired and too stressed to start feeding the five thousand and to make the festive season as simple as possible. That means no home made gifts!

So strongly does he feel about this, my normally mild mannered husband has threatened divorce if I so much as pick up my preserving pan!

So the jars are gathering dust on top of my kitchen cupboards, the cellophane gift bags have been put away and the labels and twine stay in the drawer. No apricot and cranberry chutney on Boxing day, no rum truffles after Christmas lunch, no home made mincemeat for my mince pies (without the candid peel - it's evil stuff) and no tin of rustic (and by rustic I mean misshapen) cinnamon and ginger biscuits for guests!

So it's going to be a Boots 3 for 2 Christmas in this household. Speed, convenience and value for money!

Only that's not the spirit of Christmas. the spirit of Christmas is my limoncello!

Im having withdrawal symptoms already!

Friday, 17 September 2010

The One with the Home Cooking

Carrot stains!

So does sweet potato!

So does butternut squash!

In fact my life is pretty much orange now. And by life I mean my floor, my walls, the boys highchair, clothes, bibs, bowls and spoons! Oh and his face and hair too.

Babies have a remarkable aim when it comes to flicking. I thought I'd got all the stray bits of parsnip and apple the other day only to find a huge splodge on the back of the boys head about an hour after lunch! Dislodging dried parsnip from baby fine hair without inducing tears is a skill I never thought I'd acquire. 

If you want to ruin a top get a baby to spit carrot back at you. It's up there with turmeric for sheer staining staying power. My hubby says broccoli is evil but to my mind it's carrot who is the vegetable genius behind it all. Carrot is Goldfinger to broccoli's Scaramanga! I expect you to die Mr. Bond. Dyed orange! 

I've been trying to be a model mummy and give him all my home cooking. I love cooking so all the peeling, chopping and pureeing hasn't been a hardship, honest. I have neat little freezer bags, carefully labelled and chock full of individual mashed and mushed vegetables to mix, match and defrost as required. They've been going down reasonably well too which makes it all worth while. Although in the last couple of days I can see boredom setting in. I've had this combination before Mummy, next! And certain veg like swede has been greeted with a pulled "face".

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not some kind of Annabel Karmel saint. When we're out and about the boy will have ready made meals. So with this in mind and an all day event coming up soon I thought I'd test out a jar for tea last night. Not as good as mummy makes surely?

He wolfed down the whole lot! Not a "face" or a grimace in sight.

The Delia in me was deflated I can tell you.

Maybe I've been approaching this all wrong? It's not carrot that wants to take over the world. 

It's Heinz!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The One with the Tail of Oscar

Three years ago today we took Oscar in for the first time! In lieu of any other date to go by we count 14th September as his birthday so give or take Oscar is 13 today!

The tail (pun intended) of how he came to us is the stuff of legends!

Oscar turned up one day and started sleeping outside our house on an old bookcase that was waiting to go to the dump (it's like Steptoes yard my back garden!). We assumed that he belonged to a family who moved into the area but due to the hot weather was kipping alfresco.

Meanwhile, our neighbour was feeding him (well he was nipping in through her cat flap and nicking her cats food) but she had no idea where he was sleeping.

This went on for two weeks until one day hubby was working from home and realised that Oscar (or Chatty as we had named him due to the constant miaowing) wasn't going "home" or anywhere for food and seemed increasing desperate to come into our house. By chance we spoke to the neighbour and realising he was a stray took him in.

One tin of tuna later and he and we were in love.

We took him to the vets and discovered he was a neutered male, possibly about 8 years old, covered in fleas and most importantly he had a chip with his name and owners details enclosed.

We called them and discovered he'd travelled about 3/4 mile and had been "on the road" for 6 weeks.

The original owners had split up and with Mrs moving out of the family home with the kids, Mr had struggled to look after Oscar due to travel for work and stays in hospital so with a spirit of adventure and a red and white knotted hankie over his shoulder (not really but indulge the panto story teller in me) Oscar set off and found himself at ours.

Mr offered to come and get him even though he'd given him up as a "goner", we said that was his call but we had grown very fond of Osc. Mr said he had been struggling to take care of him so us having him could make sense but would like to come and see him so 30 mins later he arrived for a cuppa bringing feeding bowls and tins of food with him.

We found out that Oscar had a mate called Chelsea who had died earlier that year and coupled with this and the other changes at home and Mr not being around much he'd stopped coming into the house and only showed up for meals then disappeared altogether. They had got him from a rescue centre 7 years ago and guessed he was about 3 years old then, making him 10.

Happy that Oscar was being well loved and cared for with us he wished him well in his new life and said he was ours with his blessing.

The extraordinary way Oscar arrived in our lives is typical of this extraordinary cat!

He truly is a one off and we wouldn't be without him. He's brought us love and giggles and endless black fluff everyday now for three years and we love him with all our hearts.

Given how he arrived I'm thankful each day that he doesn't just take off like he did from his last home but I think he's come to us for a bit of comfort in his old age. He certainly has his paws under the table!

13 is a good age for a cat but there's life in the old moggy yet and given we are his third owners I'm hoping there's at least 6 more lives in him.....

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The One with the Words

The boy has found his voice in the last week or so. Gurgles and coos have turned to sounds and chatter. It's amazing and another clue to his personality.

Now given he's our son he was never going to follow a conventional path but I guess I thought his first word would be Dadda, Mumma or Bubba. Something fairly standard. No!

It was Barbara!

Now it could be we've been watching too much of "The Good Life" on UK Gold or it could be I've shown him too many Carry On films (although Ms Windsor was only in 9 of them - good thing to know for pub quizzes that). He certainly hasn't got his fixation for Babs from watching Eastenders thank goodness - especially now as Peggy (get outta my pub) Mitchell has just gone up in flames!

No, the Barbara love stems from a toy sheep sent too him from good friends in America. A soft, white toy sheep all the way from California. A Hollywood Lamb if you like. We named her Barbara ( Baa- bara - get it?) and the lad fell instantly in love with her. His face lights up when he sees her. I now daren't leave the house without her.

It's all about the Barbara!

His second attempt at a word was Dadda...

I'd assume I'm coming in a poor third after Dad and a stuffed cuddly lamb but there's Oscar the cat and whole shelf of other teddies to come before me.

Mumma, Mumma..... repeat after me darling. You know you want too......

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The One with the Sweet Potato

I've given up on breakfast.

Lunch has been going well but the boy doesn't seem too keen on porridge, so we have decided to introduce tea next instead.

This has proved a hit!

5pm was always an odd time. Too early for a bath, too late for a walk. So now we have butternut squash and fromage frais to occupy us.

He's lapping it up and the result is we have dropped a bottle of milk today and bedtime and come forward a full 20 mins.

This all seems to good to be true.

I'm worried! I'm sure the boy will wake up in the night and think "Hang on! I'm 7oz down here! Where's me milk?"

Only time and pear puree will tell.......

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The One with What to Wear?

I've just finished writing the wording for the Naming Day ceremony on Saturday, 130 sausage rolls are made and safely stored in the freezer and two cakes that improve with a day or two in the tin are baked and getting sticky. The sandwiches are ordered, the bar is booked and the Prosecco on ice (ever since I found out my great great grandparents on my Father's side were Italian I've gone all Sophia Loren on everyone)

I have a final shopping list to get but all in all it's pretty much done.

Just one small problem that I hadn't even considered before now!

What am I going to wear?

I have an outfit for the boy and I've told everyone it's causal and not too dressy as I want people to be comfortable but as the mother of the boy I suppose I should float around looking fabulous!

I'm just not in a very fabulous place body wise at the moment. I'm having one of those "It's a pity Millets in the town closed otherwise I'd buy a tent to wear." days.

The "Next" delivery lady has just dropped off a parcel and I'm almost too scared to open it. It contains a pair of back up trousers (accidents happen when you're 6 months old) for the boy, a new winter coat for him I couldn't resist oh and a top for me.

This is the trouble, once you become a mum you stop looking at clothes for yourself and go instantly to the baby section. It's partly guilt about spending money on anything other than your child, partly what's the point in buying new stuff it only gets covered in unmentionable substances anyway and partly nothing fits your post natal body.

Don't get me wrong I've shifted my baby weight. It's the extra weight I was carrying before I got pregnant I need to work on now. Also my whole body shape has changed.

I used to hold a lot of weight on my stomach, now the tummy isn't too bad but the flab has all travelled kind of up to produce a set of spare tyres even The Stig would have trouble wearing out on the track!

It doesn't spell effortless glamour I can assure you.

So I'm off to open the parcel before nap time ends and see what it has in store for me.

If it the top is ok I have some perennial black trousers for it to go with. Oh and some tummy control pants.

Although magic knickers may not be enough. On these tyres I may need a full MOT.....