Saying Goodbye To Nursery

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I’m sitting on my my sofa, working on the laptop as the evening sun streams into the living room window. Along the hall, in the kitchen, I can hear my four-year-old and Mr P. They’re making thank you cards to give to her nursery key worker and the rest of the team, tomorrow.

She’s starting primary school next week. Next week! How did that happen? I’m fairly sure it was just the other day, she was two and toddling along pushing a doll’s buggy that was nearly as big as her. A year ago, I wrote a post about not feeling ready to have a child start school. I’m over that. The four-year-old is totally ready, and therefore so am I. She is counting down the days to starting and thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be an ounce of nerves.

But what has surprised me is that it’s not the new beginnings that have shaken me, it’s the goodbyes.

I can hear her asking Mr P to write the sentence on some scrap paper, so that she can copy the letters and write the message on the card herself. “Thank you for looking after me” she is saying.

She’s been at that nursery since she was nine months old.

The nursery which saved my sanity by allowing me to pop her in for one day a week at that age, two months ahead of her official starting date.

The nursery which didn’t mind when I called up during her settling in sessions, to check how she was, while I sat in a cafe feeling physically sick that my baby was being looked after by “strangers”.

The nursery that changed her nappy hundreds of times, gave her milk, gave her cuddles.

The nursery which could get her to nap every afternoon long after she’d stopped napping at home (how did they do it? Apparently they have some back rubbing technique that sends them all off….)

The nursery which could get her to eat all sorts for lunch, like chicken korma and jambalaya, when all she’d eat at home was rice cakes and sausages.

The nursery where she’s learned to share – toys, books, even friends.

The nursery where she’s not just learned phonics and how to count to 110 but also the words to One Direction songs. Valuable, I’m sure you’ll agree.

The nursery which hasn’t just looked after her, as she has written in the card, but which has helped to shape her into the bright, happy school starter that she is.

I feel sad to be saying goodbye to her nursery. I’ve read countless articles and blog posts about coping with your child starting school, but what about coping with the goodbyes?

Our Living Room Makeover

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When we moved into our house six years ago, feature walls were all the rage. We were so excited to choose some wallpaper for a few of the rooms and put our own stamp on our new house. In the living room, we went with a dark red wallpaper with large flowers on it (you can see a glimpse of it behind me in this video if you’re interested) and for a while, I loved it. But after a few years, I realised that the red wall, teamed with the black velvet sofa we have, made the room feel very small and dark. Sadly, as beautiful as our Victorian terrace house is, it’s not blessed with much natural light in the living room. In fact, there were days during my maternity leave where I could have sworn the walls were literally closing in on me.

Needless to say, I’ve been desperate to do a living room makeover for a while now – I just wanted to paint the whole room white and the introduce some bright colours with accessories and knick-knacks.

So when Homebase asked me to have a mini spending spree in our local store, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The first thing we bought? White paint. A huge tin of the stuff. Mr P set to work one morning and by tea time, our living room already looked a gazillion times better. In fact, it looked 20% bigger, thanks to the light bouncing off our new white walls. It made me giddy with joy!

Next, we bought a new coffee table. Our old one was too big for the room and we’d had it for 11 years, so I didn’t feel too bad sticking it on Gumtree and seeing it head to a grateful new home. Our new coffee table is small and a real bargain at £23.99!

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We’ve been after a tripod lamp ever since we stayed at the Polurrian Bay Hotel last year and fell in love with the uber expensive ones they have. This tripod base was £90 and is a Habitat base, bought at Homebase (I think Homebase selling Habitat products is one of the most exciting things ever).

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Lastly, we picked up a retro tray and a couple of bright cushions from Habitat in Homebase too – their pelican print and yellow flower print – to add a splash of colour.

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I’m totally in love with our new living room, and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks shopping for more colourful accessories to finish it off. Watch the video at the end, where I’ve done a proper room tour and say where we picked everything up!…

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Why Do Women Play The Jealousy Card?

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I was recently out with friends, having dinner, and while the conversation was travelling at a hundred miles an hour, darting from one topic to another, as it does when you’re one bottle of wine down with another on its way, it eventually turned to my friend’s work colleague.

“I don’t think she likes me,” said my friend.

“Why?” I asked.

“She’s always just a bit funny with me, and she never backs me up if my boss is giving me a hard time,” said my friend. “It’s like she wants me to do badly, so that she looks better.”

“She’s probably just jealous,” said our other friend. “After all, that big project you’re all working on was your idea. And you’re more senior than her. She probably hates that.”

It made me think. I hear women saying this kind of thing a lot. That another woman must be jealous of you. It’s usually said in a supportive way, when you’re feeling down and a friend wants to lift your spirits. But are we, as a result, selling ourselves short?

There’s a chance my friend’s colleague is jealous of her. Of course there is. It’s not uncommon within the workplace for envy to rear its ugly green head, and some might argue that in small doses, it can spur you on to achieve more. But there could be a bazillion (totally is a real number) other reasons too. Why do we assume jealousy is part of it?

It’s almost like we’re so keen to elevate our friend and squash the person they’ve disagreed with, we’ll say anything. But it is possible for women to just think differently about something. Envy might not play a part in it.

It’s so rare to ever hear men talk like this. Men can often have a disagreement about something and see it for what it is. Two people not seeing eye to eye. Why do women often attach an emotion to the situation?

And while I don’t think that emotion is always a bad thing (I think a good cry in the loos at work can often be the best way to deal with something, or someone, awful) it’s good to see something for what it is, and not belittle it by dismissing it as jealousy.

I’m sure that there are women who say it about me too. Last year, I had a disagreement with someone and I’m fairly sure her friends will have told her that I was jealous of her, and that I was trying to knock her down a peg or two. But I wasn’t. We just see the world very differently. And I think that’s OK – we can’t all see eye to eye, all the time. Providing we can disagree in a mature, balanced way, it’s no bad thing. Having someone challenge how we see the world is good for us all.

So whether we’re in the office or at the school gate, in the pub or chatting online, is this show of support we offer friends actually achieving the opposite? Are we contributing to the stereotype that women are over-emotional and bitchy? What do you think about this?

Image: DTTSP

Have You Heard Of The Kid Who?

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No, it’s not the start of a riddle, but The Kid Who is a fab independent online shop which sells all manner of amazing things. It’s the kind of site that I discover on Instagram and then lose a whole evening to browsing their store, dreaming of which things I could buy.

I’m thrilled to be working with them, over the next few months, picking out my favourite things and telling you about them. (Sidenote: Sometimes I think this whole blogging thing is too good to be true. I mean, how awesome to be allowed to select gorgeous things from a gorgeous site and then write about them?)

So what did I choose to show you…?

Well, before we get to that bit, let’s just pause for a moment and appreciate the cuteness that is the packaging that The Kid Who products arrive in…

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How cool? Striped paper bags, tissue paper and string, lovely little stickers that have nice messages. It almost seemed a shame to open them. But I did, and inside there was…

An OMM Design Mix and Match game – this Swedish designed game looks like it’s straight out of the 1970s and reminds me of the kind of game I played as a child. You place all the cards face down, scattered on the table and each player takes turns to select a card until you manage to create three whole people. The four-year-old has loved playing this, and has also made up at least two variations on the rules too.

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Melvin the Luckiest Monkey In The World by Claudia Bolt – they have a fab selection of books on The Kid Who, and something drew me to this one. It’s got great illustrations and tells a lovely tale that teaches children about looking on the bright side of life. This has already become a regular in our bedtime story telling sessions.

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These OMM Design Studio Matryoshka Nesting Animals – designed by Ingela Arrhenius and part of the Studio Matryoshka collection from OMM Design, these nesting animals are sweeter than sweet. Piggy goes inside Monkey, Monkey goes inside Sea Lion, Sea Lion goes inside Polar Bear, Polar Bear goes inside Fox, and Fox goes inside Owl. Made from plastic, they’re small (Owl is 12cm tall) and tough so little kids can play without any worry of breaking them.

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A Design Letters melamine cup and a You’re So Cool letterpress greetings card – I’ve loved the Design Letters range for ages and couldn’t decide whether to get myself an A cup or get some for the four-year-old’s crayons to be stored in. I might still get her some (perhaps spelling out the word C O L O U R) but I treated myself to an A cup, this time. I also picked up a letterpress greetings card which I might send to a friend, or just frame and pop up near my desk, to remind myself how awesome I am!

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So what do you think of my picks? And what are you doing, still reading this blog post, when you could be over on The Kid Who, shopping?!

• Big thanks to The Kid Who for asking me to work with them and for allowing me to select these fab products in exchange for this post!

 

Because I’m Happy #4

My series of posts on things that make me happy continues with this super summery post (as I type, it’s tipping it down with rain and I’m actually contemplating putting a blanket around my shoulders, like an actual nan). The last few weeks have been a whirl of family fun – we’re trying to make the most of the time we have before the four-year-old goes to school in September. The brilliant thing about working freelance is that I can down tools and head off for a day of fun with the family, and then catch up on work in the evening. It’s great! Here’s what we’ve been up to…

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Going up in the sky on the Emirates Air Line – Last week we were invited on the cable cars at North Greenwich. They’ve been there a while and it’s been on our to do list for ages. It was so much fun! We parked at the O2 (check there isn’t a huge event on before you go, as parking can be tricky on those days) and hopped on for the 20 minute round trip. You can get off at the other side of the Thames, and there are some restaurants and bars, and even a little beach there. But we stayed on, partly because we were really hungry and once we got off, the plan was to head to the Byron in the O2 for lunch! If you’ve already been on the Emirates Air Line, there’s a competition running at the moment to win a pair of Canon Powershot N2 cameras and four return tickets on the Emirates Air Line cable car – just email them a pic you’ve taken in the air. I’ve entered with the above snap of the four-year-old.

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A cinema trip – we went as a family to see Inside Out. Have you seen it yet? If not, go! It’s SO GOOD. I have to admit, having watched the trailer, I was bit ‘meh’ about seeing it, but Mr P was keen. Before we left for the cinema, the four-year-old had a little strop and told us she wanted to stay at home to play instead. We pretty much forced her out the door, with her saying “I’m going to close my eyes and put my hands over my ears, in the cinema!” (Don’t you love the drama of a four-year-old!) Fast forward to an hour or so later, and she was absolutely transfixed by the film.

It was a screening put on by Subway, so beforehand, there was facepainting and sandwiches in the cinema foyer. As soon as we arrived, the four-year-old was suddenly into the spirit of the event, getting the character Joy painted on her arm and asking the balloon modelling man for a Joy balloon. But even still, we didn’t realise how much she would LOVE the film. In fact, we all did. It’s a beautiful story and like all Pixar movies, told so well. The short before the main film – Lava – is fab too.

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H&M kidswear cuteness – we picked up this gorgeous outfit for the four-year-old in H&M Brent Cross. Watermelon shorts! We literally had to peel these shorts off her after around three days of continuous wear, so we could wash them. We went to Brent Cross for a blogger event which was so much fun. The four-year-old met actual Peppa Pig and after a bit of shopping (thanks Brent Cross for the voucher!) we went to John Lewis for lunch and a chat with other bloggers (hi Tinuke from Circus Mum and Anna from In The Playroom!) While we chatted, the four-year-old was kept busy with a bumper pack of puzzles and colouring goodies from John Lewis. The perfect day out for everyone, no!?…

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