In Lieu Of A Big Long Blog Post

Because – who knew? – commuting into the big city five days a week is kicking my arse in twelve different ways. Getting in at 7.30pm means that all my (limited) remaining creative juices are being sent in the way of my evening freelance work and I’m literally so tired that when I sit down to blog the words just don’t come.

I have a million and one thoughts on the world of work from the eyes of a single mother which I’m sure I will regale you with very soon (try to contain your excitement, OK?), but for now here’s what I’ve been up to, told through the medium of Instagram filters, starting with last weekend…

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My current favourite late-night destination: Duck & Waffle. Food, views and a Portugese white to die for. There is seriously nothing better than a midnight dinner date up here taking in the glittering lights of London below. I like to order the Duck and Waffle, obvs. 

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…late nights followed by new favourite hangover cure, a (not too) spicy Bloody Mary. Sipped at Broadway Market before a sunny stroll along Regent’s Canal. Pretty blissful, right? 

10369324_1414091762206189_1633602909_n 10387857_847019188660419_371299732_nYet MORE socialising. First it was my lovely cousin’s birthday party in Camden then on to a fancy dinner and tequila with these two lovely ladies: Hannah from Mum’s Days and our friend Alex. We danced our socks off at The Kensington Roof Gardens and it was awesome. 

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Sunday rooftop times with Jamie, McNulty and the boys. Coppa Bar & BBQ is a fab sunny day destination just on London Fields; we whiled away a good few hours here. 

10401640_323510991137253_1283417362_n 10358208_675898035815850_280049950_n 10369498_250131868509683_1821598017_nOh, did you know? I’m a commuter now #zzzzzz. Had some painful moments leaving Hux at his new nursery last week “MUMMY! NOOOO! GO BACK IN CAR”… weep. He’ll settle in soon enough but it makes me feel sad that he misses his mama so much. 

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 Burger date! Current favourite London burger joints: Byron (Brick Lane… the MK restaurant just isn’t as good) and Meat Mission. MM’s monkey fingers are INCREDIBLE. Still want to try Patty & Bun. 

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It’s beautiful Bryony‘s birthday today and to celebrate Steph came to stay! We had a boozy blast on Saturday night and I woke up the next morning snuggled up to Steph in my bed. Her husband’s a lucky man, I’ll tell you that.  

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Most importantly – getting in some quality time with these two. I have missed them like you wouldn’t believe and seeing their faces when I come home from a busy day is the biggest treat. I’m working hard to make our evenings together count and it’s going to kill me when they’re with their Dad all next weekend. The transition has been tough for them – Hux with his new nursery and Elfie asking where mummy is and why does she have to go to London all day? – but we’re getting there. 

So, tell me: what have I missed?

 

How To Share Photos Of Your Children: Lifecake At Easter

I don’t know if I’m alone in this but there have been times when I have felt guilt, actual proper guilt, for inundating my friends on Facebook with photos of my darling little cherubs. Because to me, everything they do is delightful. Every drawing they scribble, every face they pull. Every time they fall asleep (in their dinner or in their bed) or master how to correctly eat a piece of toast. To a parent these things are insanely awesome milestones that need to be celebrated and shared with 403 of our closest friends, right?

But there’s only so much our friends can take, and to be honest the more I read about privacy and ownership over our photographs once they’re released into the world wide web the more uneasy I get. I don’t want pictures of my children getting in to the wrong hands, I want to know that I’m the one with control over whose eyes gets to see them. Yes I use photos of them on my blog but no-where near as many as I used to, and the ones I use have been carefully chosen.

Lifecake timeline

Enter my new favourite people: Lifecake! You may have seen me Tweeting and Facebooking on their behalf and I’ve been delighted to have been a part of their team the last few months. Theirs is a service I feel extremely passionate about: allowing parents to share photographs of their children with only those they invite securely and easily with a couple of clicks of a smartphone or laptop. Your child’s moments are formed into a timeline which becomes their own special record of their journey through life and I can attest to the fact that it’s a total joy to look back on.

Lifecake is perfect for new parents who are struggling under the weight of newly captured images and videos (I’ve got that tshirt) with little time to spend hours sending umpteen updates to family. It’s fully grandparent-tested and approved (sooo simple to use!) and is the perfect solution to keeping up to date with a child’s progress in a private space. You can add as many children as you need, tagging them in each photo, and can use their photos together or separately. It’s a fabulous way for parents to keep up to date with their children when they spend time with childminders but my favourite way of using the service is to snap and store Elfie’s artwork – no more guilt over slyly popping the 87th picture of an octopus in the recycling.

You can also use their simple software to create beautiful photobooks from your timeline!

Lifecake is free to install and add up to around 500 photos. After that point customers can upgrade to VIP account level, which gives them up to 100GB storage space, enough for 50,000 photos, for £2 month. There are IOS and Android apps as well as a handy desktop uploader so you can add photographs from all of your devices.

There’s been loads of exciting things going on at casa del Lifecake recently; to celebrate Mothers Day we encouraged our Instagram and Twitter followers to take a #melfie, or a self-portrait of them with their kids. It was wonderful to see so many mums step outside of their comfort zone and you can see the beautiful winner of the #melfie competition here.

This Easter we’re running a scavenger hunt. Over the next five days we’ll be posting clues over on Instagram and Twitter; if you respond to these with your entries and tag them @lifecake then our favourite 10 will win VIP accounts (which includes 100GB of storage). Plus it’s a great way to make sure you snap the best of your Easter this year. Here’s a heads up for today’s clue:

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Here are my entries, though one is from last year so I’m slightly cheating!

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How much has this child grown in one year??! It’s insane.

In addition, Lifecake have kindly given me a VIP account and photobook to give away to one of my lovely readers. All you have to do is fill out the handy rafflecopter widget below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!

A Bit About Elfie

Poor Elfie’s had a rough time of it lately. A tummy bug hit on Tuesday (following her telling me she was feeling “sad, mummy” all day Monday) so she spent the whole day on the sofa after being sick in my lap. And now she’s suffering with a cold, meaning she’s one of those kids with a really snotty nose. I have to say, wet sneezes all over my iPad have not been a highlight of the week.

Oh, germy winter, you’re a cruel beast.

She’s a total trooper though and is still doing jigsaws like nobody’s business, demanding her favourite pork products (Ham! Sausages!), scribbling her ‘name’ in all my xmas cards and calling people on my phone without my knowledge. Just with a bit more of an attitude.

I totally melted today when I caught her playing hide and seek with her brother, the baby who at 7 months old is not able to hide or to seek. He was eating avocado in his high chair, she’d cover her eyes and count to three before magically ‘finding’ bubby, in the exact same place as where she left him. An amazing game that entertained her for about fifteen minutes.

 

 

Even with the vomit in my lap, this kid makes life so much sweeter. Look at that face.

This post was brought to you by GoldenBingo.co.uk.

9 Months Of A Bump

When I reviewed my 9 months of being pregnant with Elfie I commented how amazing the body’s capacity to forget is. You look at photos of your pregnant bump and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside despite nine months of hell and illness. Don’t be fooled by my smiles, they’re just for the camera.

Weirdly enough I didn’t feel that pregnant but looking back on it now I definitely looked pregnant. Very pregnant. I kind of miss it (SEE??! 9 months of hell and my brain is tricking me into missing it) but having Huxley on the outside is wonderful. It’s so strange to look at the 6 and 8 week photos and imagine him as a teeny tiny foetus inside me. So much has happened in that period of time; we’ve moved house twice, I’ve worked on lots of lovely projects, stopped working because I was too knackered, experienced a Christmas and only hair my hair cut once (oops).

Pregnancy: it’s 40 long weeks of a beautiful, vommy, exhausting, wonderous experience.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Model Family

 

A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law, who works for one of BT’s creative agencies, was looking for a family with young children who had BT products in their homes to take part in a photo shoot. We got roped in as we are both a family with such products and if anyone says the words ‘photo shoot’ to me I start practicing my smize and Oscar acceptance speech. Will agreed to it begrudgingly because he is a wonderful husband who loves me very much.

The whole experience reminded me how tedious and loooong these things can be (the briefs the cameraman had to work with were crazily precise) but Elfie was an absolute gem throughout and we now have some lovely photos of the three of us. I was more than a bit embarrassed at the dustbunnies that were revealed with all the furniture moving though.

 

And hey, if you’re lucky enough to receive a copy of BT’s annual report you may just see the Harolds on the cover. Smizing away.

 

 

20 Weeks Pregnant

 

So here I am on New Year’s Eve. 20 weeks pregnant.  A time when it has become neccassary once again to put makeup on before leaving the house – thank goodness, for the sake of my face and the outside world. I’ve felt human for about 4 weeks now,  long enough that I have almost forgotten the hell of the first trimester,  only re-surfacing when a well-meaning acquaintance asks how my pregnancy has been going (“WELL… there’s a story. Do you know how it feels to be hit by a bus?” etc etc).

On New Year’s Eve itself we went for dinner at my parent’s house with my mother in law and depressingly they all went to bed at 12.15am drunk and I drove Will and I the 300m home, exhausted. My dad cooked up a feast of lamb and pomegranate cous cous and churros, the non-pregnant people in my family had fun and games with dessert wine and the highlight of my evening was discovering how much better the BBC coverage of the London fireworks was than ITV’s.  A far cry from last year’s party debauchery at Pizza East with 23 Australians. Good times.

We were in bed by 12.30am which I think even beats my last pregnant New Year’s Eve experience (Nobu- nightclub- midnight kiss- taxi- 12.45am bed).

As a punishment for not having a hangover my body greeted 2012 with a vile cold. I have termed it ‘manflu’ as it is not real flu but man I am suffering. I can’t breathe through my nose, I have that chapped bit of skin on my top lip that appears when you’ve chafed your face with a whole roll of loo paper and I simultaneously need to sleep but can’t sleep. It’s horrible. I’m sure it’s just a normal cold but with the joy of dodgy pregnancy sinuses I am a monster. A wailing, tired, snot-covered monster.

Christmas was difficult as I count two of my favourite festive activities as drinking wine and eating Stilton, neither of which you are supposed to do a a pregnant person. I embraced the French way and sampled the wine with a couple of mouthfuls of cheese but still had to send myself to bed at 9.45 on Christmas eve. Sneaking a nap with Elfie on the day itself was necessary and I learned that the Radio 4 women’s hour podcast is a very soothing way to fall asleep when your relatives are lucky enough to be downstairs getting rowdy on Bailey’s and Cranium.

(A shot that pretty much represents my daily life: That’s Not My Snowman/Reindeer/Teddy, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Mr Men and Bouncy Tiggers)

I can’t remember how much Elfie moved in utero, and at what times, but new baby seems to be a real wriggler. I first felt the baby move about 4 weeks ago whilst driving and Will first felt him the week after that. He is a right kicker, mostly during the evenings. I’ve started getting those weird internal kicks, too, which I used to find hilarious. The ones when the baby either kicks down into the cervix or towards your spine and it just feels like nothing else you’ve ever felt before. Luckily I have grown up enough to not obsessively Google ‘internal injuries from baby kicks’ (or I may have Googled that once, at 2am).

I still don’t feel that I look hugely pregnant which is why I’ve taken to belting a lot of my outfits and my size 10 maternity jeans have become slightly baggy. Whether this is because of my small appetite or the fact they are of dubious Topshop quality, I do not know. I started the pregnancy after losing Elfie’s baby weight at 9 stone 3lbs, dropped a fair amount during the first trimester (I was 8 stone 7 at my week 12 scan) and have now nudged up again to 9 stone 5. I know there is no typical weight gain during pregnancy – I put on nearly 3 stone with Elfie, the last stone being in the final 4 weeks – but I’m confident my diet is as healthy as it possibly could be.

The leaky boobs are back and I’m sure they’ll hang around until needed again, but aside from that and my painful sinuses I’m not noticing any more unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. This is the golden stage of pregnancy – the awful first trimester is over, I can still fit into my clothes, it’s relatively easy to jog or climb stairs and the birth is but a glimmer of reality far in the future. Bring on 30 weeks – that’s when shit gets real.

Week 16
Week 14
Week 12
Week 6/8