Friday, 30 October 2009

Angelina Ballerina and the NEXT springtime show…

It is only right to start this post by thanking everyone for all their kind words and support about my little kitty, who died yesterday. It has been quite an emotional few days for me and for the children.

I blogged last week about FunnyGirl making it to the final round of judging in the Angelina Ballerina Children’s Award and today was her big day.
We set off for London bright and early and arrived right on time at 10am. All of the other girls were there when we arrived and I don’t know about FunnyGirl but I was terrified. They were all visibly older and preened within an inch of their lives in huge tutu’s that wouldn’t have looked out of place on girls twice their size.

Being the youngest FunnyGirl was up first. Her dance is not classical ballet like all of the other girls and I was so happy that her inner self is not wobbled in the slightest by her being the odd one out.

She did look nervous before she went in but when she came back out having danced she was beaming from ear to ear.

All of the other parents seemed to know each other and I felt as if I had stepped into some weird competitive playground game – it wasn’t nice.
Now I was a dancer myself. When I left school I went on to further full time training. I was selected for the National Youth Dance Company with was a real achievement but I don’t have FunnyGirl’s natural gift. I had to work hard at what comes naturally to her.

I dug deep for courage and asked how the parents all knew each other and was really shocked by the reply.
All of their children were ‘JA’s’ they proudly told me.

Now I know what a ‘JA’ is – but only because I was one myself. A ‘JA’ is a Junior Associate member of the Royal Ballet. They go to classes run by the Royal Ballet School at satellite centres across the UK.

So not only was FunnyGirl the youngest – but she was the only child who was not part of the ‘JA’ program.

She did her best – and that is all I wanted. We came a way with a fab goodie bag and now have to wait until mid December to find out who is the winner.
From Angelina we moved on to the NEXT Spring 2010 press launch. They are pretty hot on the social media front. They have a huge Facebook group and a Twitter group that is growing day by day.
We were asked along as they are launching a children’s modelling competition in a couple of weeks – but we also got a sneak preview of the SS 2010 collection.

In all honesty I haven’t been a huge fan of NEXT since the little ones came along. When I had No1 son 18 years ago – I bought all of his clothes from there and he did a few modelling jobs for them too.

I personally have never bought a single item of womenswear from there EVER but in the last year I have bought a few bits for the girls.

The beautiful red checked dresses that they are wearing in the Valentines Party shoot in Annabel Karmel’s new Princess Cookbook are from NEXT and were so popular with everyone that saw them.
And on seeing this new collection I feel that I may be a convert.
There are obvious influences from Balmain (yes my original v expensive jeans are replicated here for mums and daughters alike), Comme de Garcon, YSL, Burberry Prorsum and Sonia Rykiel. But you know what – it doesn’t really matter.
NEXT’s quality is way above that of its high street contemporaries Zara, Oasis, Warehouse and H&M.
This new collection has a real feel of fashion and modernity about it and I will definitely be getting a few bits for the girls and Sonny.
They are launching a children’s modelling competition next week through their facebook group but I will do a dedicated post about that next week.

A big thank you to Hit Entertainment and Next for the hospitality – and to the fab magician!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Travel Trauma Part 3 (being blonde was not an issue)

I am beginning to wonder if my travel problems will ever come to an end.....
On Wednesday evening I had a call from my brother. He had just returned from visiting our parents in Cornwall and he suggested that I should go down and see them, like ASAP.

Our mum has been ill for at least 20 years. She has emphysema due to a non tipped Player no 7 habit teamed with the fact that she worked as a machinist at the Chad Valley soft toy factory for ten years. Her lungs are pretty much dead. She spent year after year inhaling fluff off the teddy bears that are now collectors items on top of the self inflicted smoking damage.

To her merit she did give up smoking when I was pregnant with No 1 son (who will be 19 at Christmas), but only after the doctor warned her that she would be dead within two years if she didn't. That all seems a long time ago now though and since then we have thought that we were going to loose her each and every year as the winter chills set in, her problems made worse by the super bugs that seem to be her best friend.

Then earlier this year we found out that she had breast cancer

Due to the state of her lungs, surgery is not an option and so she went onto yet more medication to try to shrink the lump.

This year the winter bugs hit her in June and she spent the whole summer in hospital whilst her grandchildren came and went as they do each year. They moved to cornwall nine years ago for the sea air and every summer since their place has been a hot bed of family visits.
Mum and dad love having the kids around and I do often wonder if they did the right thing by leaving us behind and moving on but they have made a happy new life for themselves in a beautiful part of the world.

Her summer spell in hospital has not been good for her state of mind - but then who would enjoy being stuck in what is officially the worst hospital in the UK whilst the sun is shining and the birds are singing?
So when I had the call from my brother last week I felt terribly guilty for not being in touch as much as I should and also a little worried that I wouldn't ever see her again.

As it was our half term I decided to take the children down to see her. FunnyGirl had a dance festival the following day but we could leave after that and be there for bed time.
FunnyGirl was amazing as usual, in fact all of the kids in the Junior group were amazing. 
Their first performance together and after just six rehearsals they took the Silver Medal. Another proud parenting moment.
She is bottom right, seated in the picture and at least 4 years younger than everyone else in the group.

Off we went in my little Mini, packed to the rim and bursting with lots of stuff that we didn't really need - but I am not used to being the long distance driver. Yan always drives and I always tweet and sleep and by the time we hit the torrential rain in Bristol I was wiped out. And I knew that I had at least two hours work to do before I went to bed.

After a family discussion it was decided that we would stop at the next services, sleep in a hotel and set of first thing in the morning.
The excitement of my children knew no bounds..... 
A Travelodge...... what joy of joys?!
Now, we have stayed in some pretty swanky 5* hotels in Thailand, so I have to ask - Why, oh why, oh why did they find that manky Travelodge (without even a bar of skin striping soap) so exciting?
They all went straight off to sleep and I got on with the editorial that I had to write. I must add at this point that I HATE the fact that hotels rip you off with their internet access fees. £10 for 1 hour!
Thankfully I had my dongle, but it really gets to me that they charge for wireless access. Just put the price of the room up and be done with it.

So the rest of the outward journey was un-eventful. The kids had a great time. Dad says that our visit really cheered mum up. We had fish and chips and crabbed of the harbour in Mevagissy (an essential in any seaside visit for us!).

Friday was home time. I wanted to leave early ish as I was going to see Morrissey in Birmingham that night. Was I excited? had I been waiting since the gig was cancelled in May? Yes, Yes.
Well we didn't leave early - mainly due to fact that the girls spent far too long on the jewellery stall at the antique fair that we visited but hey ho.
So we left Cornwall at 11.20am. Journey time home on a good day is four hours, leaving me plenty of time to get showered and changed and off to the gig.
3pm - not even reached Bristol. Stuck on the M5, road works and accidents have us at a standstill.

4pm - still not reached Bristol.
5pm - I am resigned to the fact that I am NOT going to get to the Morrissey gig. Gutted.....
5.30pm - The traffic starts to move and FunnyGirl needs a wee. Not funny........
6pm - I come off the M5 at Evesham due to sign saying more congestion on M5 due to another accident. Problem.... everyone else decided to do the same thing. Now this road is at standstill.
6.30pm - Loosing the will to live we decide to sing Morrissey songs until we get home.
6.35pm - Battery on iPhone dies.
6.40pm - Battery on ModelGirls iPod dies
6.45pm - Battery on FunnyGirls iPod dies...
6.50pm - Reach the junction for the M6 - accident and delay warnings......
Perleeeeze - I just want to get home!
We go another way..... we arrive home at 7.45pm. Journey time 8 hours and 25 minutes - an actual record!!!
I really am going to give up travelling now. I hate it.
Tomorrow.... my poor cat:(

Monday, 19 October 2009

FunnyGirl Makes it to the finals!!!

I had been having a pretty bad day in all honesty. Then this afternoon I had a call from the people at Angelina Ballerina.
We went to see the stage show earlier in the year and when we were there we picked up some information on the Angelina Ballerina Children's Award that is being run in conjunction with the National Dance Awards.
I sent off a tape of FunnyGirl ages ago and didn't think anything further. Then today I got the call to say that she had made it to the final shortlist of 25 young dancers and she will be given her chance to audition along with the other 24 finalists for the panel of famous judges in London!

I am so amazed - in all honesty, I think that she has that special something, and she has certainly inherited my dancers feet but I am so proud of her.

So on Monday, we will be bunking off school and heading off to the English National Ballet for FunnyGirl to perform.
Luckily she has been practicing really hard for her second dance festival on Saturday - so her piece is in tip top form.
I will be sure to keep you all posted.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Wow, what a week...

It has been a pretty crazy week for everyone involved in my industry. It began with the annual Baby Products Association trade show from Sunday to Tuesday, the Prima Baby Magazine Award winners lunch was Wednesday and the biggest consumer show of the year, the Earls Court Baby Show, Friday till Sunday. Any single one of those events would quite frankly have been enough but to have them all in one week was a bit too much.
On the up side there have been some fab things happen this week too.
1. My hubby sold the first piece from his collection – a truly stunning jacket (that I had my eye on!). I am so proud of him and all that he has achieved and learnt over the past year.

2. My Twitter sister @OMGpregnant had a text book birth on Monday afternoon welcoming her little Bean into the world – the tip side of that amazing event was that I wouldn’t get to spend the day with her at The Baby Show on Friday as planned.

3. I met my client Lynda from easidream for the first time. Now I do feel that we are old friends as we have become quite close over the last few weeks as we have been working furiously to plan for her official launch, which took place yesterday at the show and we nailed a full page edit in Sunday Times Style mag (that appeared last Sunday).

4. I met my other new client Robynne, who is a truly amazing lady. She nearly reduced the consumer editor from the leading baby magazine and I to tears as she told us the very sad story of how she adopted her first daughter.

5. ModelGirl and I spent the day with my other Twitter sister @soph4soph and her baba the totally cute little Soph. The up side of The Baby Show is that I can spend the day with my pals and still work. We had a lovely day, marred only by the fact that we were missing @omgpregnant. The girls looked stunning in their identical Sophie4Sophie dresses. They bonded and had a lovely time playing and looking gorgeous! We all had Tellytubbie headbands and covered ourselves in I Love Stokke® badges. Pizza for lunch and a couple of odd Twitter experiences as people came up to us as asked “Are you MummyTips and soph4soph?”
I guess that Nat with the famous yellow Xplory® and me with my bleach blonde hair trailing around after two beautiful girls makes us easy to spot!

6. I got to spend a day with the fabulous TotallySonny! That might not sound like much but when you have four children it isn’t very easy to get regular one on one time. I do spend much more time with my girls and in all honesty I can’t remember the last time that it was just the two of us. We had a lovely day – OK so it was back to The Baby Show again but today we were on a mission. With my work hat on I was meeting with the actress Sarah Parish and her actor hubby James Murray. So what you may say… but for Sonny, this is his idea of heaven. Sarah Parish was the Empress Racnoss in Dr Who and James was Steven in Primeval. His two favourite TV shows in the world!
So we met them and they were lovely to Sonny. James bought him a hot dog and they signed a few bits for him. But the icing on the cake for my fella was James telling him that he loves the name Sonny and that it is top of their possible boys name list. Sonny duly handed over one of his badges and we had a whizz around the show with them.

There were some great products at the show. I had a sweatshirt printed for Sonny from - they are the best personalised T shirt company that I’ve seen. T-shirts in bright colours in sizes from baby up to ten years and of course all of the fabulousness from my clients Annabel Karmel, easidream, Arm's Reach co-Sleeper, Stokke, TotsBots and Zoobie.
But biy am I happy to be at home today. Totally worn out and looking forward to X Factor!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Love Is... #1... a boy and his Cuski...

Welcome to my new 'Love is....' feature.
Inspired by the early 80's newspaper cartoon strips and in conjunction with a really sweet father son exchange, I quite suddenly realised that this would make such a beautiful ongoing feature.
Love Is... #1... a boy and his Cuski...
After a tough day, a daddy filling his son's bed with the one thing that he knows makes him feel happy, safe and secure..... His Cuski!

Please do think about your own 'Love Is...' I want to hear from you and will post the best few submissions each week. There will also be a a downloadable badge from tomorrow - so get you thinking caps on and your cameras at the ready as we will secure a lovely prize for the most original / entertaining 'Love Is...' entry of the month.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A late addition to the Wordless Wednesday Pot

Subtitled. A bloggers injury! 
Mauled by a Ben 10 Stretchy figure and all in the name of his TotallySonny, TotallyChristmas guide......
Does this show complete and utter dedication to this young boys blogging vocation? Could he really actually turn out to be THE next Nigel Marvin? Or has he been the victim of a serious mauling courtesy of another family member????
If you want to know more visit the little guys blog... You got to love him.....!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

I seriously need to moan...

OK, so this isn't like a one time thing that i have to get of my chest. There are a few things and if I don't get them out soon - I think that I am seriously going to go pop.

Firstly. This morning I was a victim of theft. I had my iPhone with me on our regular sunday morning trip to the car boot sale.
We stopped for chips for the kids - as we do every week and I took out my iPhone to take a pic of ModelGirl who was looking super fly in her recent oversize sunglasses and crochet beanie.

I put my phone back into the outer pocket of my Prada shopper and thought no more.

Speed forward about an hour and we were back at our car. Everyone unloaded their purchases into the car and I fished in my bag for my phone. (It's my traditional Sunday morning thing to Tweet what I have picked up at the car boot). But my phone wasn't there.
Hubby called it - straight to answer phone.

It was around then that we realised that it had possibly been lifted. We sent a text asking for the person to come back to us on this number, but nothing.

I gave it five mins and then tried to call again. This time it was picked up by the father of the 'boy' who had 'found' it on a stall at the car boot. I asked if we could meet so that i could get it back - he said yes, told me where he was (the local traveller's site) and said that I would have to pay.

1. My phone had been in my bag the whole time (apart from the afore mentioned pic opp).
2. If his son had found it when and where he said he did then he must have been Billy the Whizz to get back to the traveller's site before we had even left the car boot.

I chose to call the police. I know that I won't get my phone back but under no circumstances did I think that going to their site to get it back was the right thing to do.

On the down side. My phone was not locked and I had not set up the ability to remote wipe it. FYI, I this will be the first thing I will do when my new phone arrives.

Today has been very stressful to say the least.

So.... By the time I came off the phone to O2 / apple / police / insurance - it was like 2.10pm. FunnyGirl's pals were arriving at 3pm. I had not started to cook. The house was a TIP, blah, blah, blah.

The kids arrived. They ran around like utter nutters for about an hour. Unfortunately we have the kind of house that makes kids do that. I think that it is perhaps something to do with the floors and the rooms and most of them being empty. But still, I was having a bad day and I did scream at them at every available occasion.

They finally calmed down as the food was ready.

I'd had all these grand ideas to reproduce Annabel Karmel's Princess Cookbook and the whole world had fallen down around me.

I did manage the following.

12 Annable Karmel mini Muffin Pizzas.
16 hot dogs
20 mini baked potatoes

accompanied by

A huge selection of the Cadbury' Christmas collection cakes and bars (thanks a million to their press office)
and THE cake.

So OK - I nearly forgot the cake - but its been a long day,

Before you ask... that large glass of red belongs to me - not ModelGirl and the glass of fizz is one of the other mums out of shot! But at least FunnyGirl is still smiling....

All in all - I found this home party experience totally and utterly hideous. FunnyGirl had just 5 friends, but each of them has a sibling. On the positive side, each of the said siblings is either a friend of Sonny's or Biba's which should in itself lend to a happy and harmonious gathering.

Big problems of the day.
1. I did not make the jelly.
2. I started cooking too late.
3. There were no leeks is Sainsbury's yesterday and that = no dumplings.
4. I had my bloody phone stolen by some scumbag.
5. I nearly forgot about the cake.
6. I did not have enough hot dog buns.
7. I am not very social at the moment.
8. I seem to have smashed all of my wine glasses (apart from the one I claim above.)
9. I want to curl up on the sofa with FunnyGirl.
10. I know that it is going to take me at least a month to tidy up once everyone has gone.

Tomorrow, the year 4 Roman project and why I think us parents should stand up for ourselves.


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