Monthly Archives: October 2014

31st October 2014

Oh Sod Off Victoria’s Secret

20140918-cp-bra-bbv-header-1-v2This advert by Victoria’s Secret is stupid.

It’s the word PERFECT that makes me want to throw my coffee across the room in a fit of anger. The word is tricky anyway, because what is perfect for me, might not be perfect for you. And when we start to consider what is perfect for everyone else too, our minds get blown.

So is there really such a thing as a ‘perfect body’? No Victoria’s Secret, there is not. But all I can say, is that this is perfect for me…

The body that grew a human, right from a sperm and an egg that met up and said ‘hey, fancy making a human together?‘ The tummy that grew, slowly at first as I tried desperately to see a bump and photograph it in the mirror when it wasn’t really there, and then quicker as the weeks went on, stretching my skin so tight that I spent hours stroking oil over the skin. The muscle aches, the back pain, the heartburn, the desperate need for a wee (especially when there were no toilets nearby). The body that gave birth, pushing an actual real human being out of a hole that really shouldn’t fit an actual real human being. The body that healed quickly so I could scoop my toddler up after a few nights away, but told a story of pregnancy for many months afterwards. And the body that allowed me to feed my baby so he grew the huge squidgy thighs he now possesses.

This body is not like those bodies in the Victoria Secret advert. Not like it at all. The tummy is too rounded from growing my babies, the skin is too white as I have no time to fake tan or sit by the pool, and the width – well let’s just say one of their thighs is akin to one of my ankles. So does that mean it isn’t perfect? Balls to that. When I look at my boys, I realise that it did something so very perfectly.

So sod off Victoria’s Secret. This is ‘perfect’ to me.

But it’s about more than just hurting my feelings, isn’t it. It’s about the girls that will grow up thinking that is what they should aspire to be like, the boys that will see the advert with the word PERFECT scrawled across it and think that is what their girlfriends and wives should look like. It’s about the ladies that have fought diseases and have bodies that tell the tale. It’s about the ladies that never stood from birth, the ladies with disabilities, the ladies who never were going to fit into the supermodel mould and have worked much harder in their lives than a supermodel on a treadmill and low-calorie diet.

And it’s about the reality. That there are 3.5 billion women walking this earth and only a few of them supermodels.  In the USA, where Victoria’s Secret hails from, the average female dress size is 18 – and in the UK, the average size is 16. Healthy eating and healthy lifestyles are so important – but teaching young people to have healthy relationships with their size and shape is even more important. We need ‘perfection’ to be about happiness, good careers, and family – not about having a thigh gap.

And yes, I know what the advertising department of Victoria’s Secret will say to defend themselves – they will say that the message they wanted to convey it is their underwear that is perfect; that this new range of bras are the tool to get the bodies like those in the advert. But that is not what a 16-year girl would see when she saw that billboard. And they know that, don’t they?

So on that note, I’m off to burn a few bras (Victoria’s Secret, natch).



27th October 2014

Witch’s Cauldron Exploding Colour Experiment

Here’s a spooky activity to try with your kids – and all you need is a cauldron of milk (saucepan or bowl will do), a few different food colourings, and washing up liquid!

Here’s my first video on Mumofboys.co.uk to show you how to do it…

And here’s Stanley enjoying a mini version when he woke up from his nap.. He was fascinated to put it mildly!

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Let me know if you try it!



25th October 2014

The Dark Meanings of Nursery Rhymes

We listen to nursery rhymes quite a lot in our house, mainly because it’s one of the few things that can immediately halt a toddler tantrum or silence a grumbling baby. But over the years (bored out of my brain, it seems), I have started to listen to the lyrics and imagine the darker meanings. And after doing some digging, I’ve realised it’s true – I really am singing along to songs about terminal illnesses, executions, and men slipping into comas and dying. So I thought you may like to be enlightened too, so here goes…

jack-and-jill

1 – Jack and Jill

There are several theories about where this charming rhyme comes from, which tells the tale of Jack and Jill falling down a hill and having to wrap their heads with vinegar and brown paper (which was used in the olden days to draw out bruises). My favourite, however, is that it alludes to Louis XVI of France, who was deposed and beheaded in 1793 (losing his crown) and his Queen Marie Antoinette (who came tumbling after).

Ring-a-ring o' Roses love to sing2 – Ring a Ring o’ Roses

I remember singing this as a child in the playground, swinging round my friends in a circle – but little did I know that the song is widely believed to be about the Great Plague of 1665. The sneezing, the falling down, the rosy rash, and the posies of herbs that were used to ward off the plague – it all makes sense now. The end of the rhyme  “Atishoo atishoo we all fall down” is particularly lovely, given that sneezing and coughing were the final symptoms of the fatal condition.

 

244703 – Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

It’s not about gardens after all… Shock! The most popular theory is that the rhyme is about Queen Mary I of England (Bloody Mary). A fierce believer in Catholicism, her reign was marked by the execution of hundreds of Protestants. (Silver bells and cockle shells are torture devices, by the way, not features of a garden).

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4 – Three Blind Mice

Always imagined three blind mice running across the counter top? Yep, me too. But this is another charming reference to Bloody Mary, with the trio believed to be a group of Protestant bishops called Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Radley, and The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. The three men unsuccessfully conspired to overthrow the queen and were burned at the stake for their heresy. Delightful!

here-we-go-round-the-mulberry-bush3 – Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

Oh how lovely! Children dancing around a mulberry bush! What a picture of innocence! Wrong. This nursery rhyme is widely believed to be about the centuries old tradition of female prisoners being exercised around a mulberry bush.

 

 

itsrainingitssnoring6 – It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

My son has just started singing this one and we merrily sing the lyrics in the car when it starts spitting. But this medieval nursery rhyme, written at a time when it rained non-stop, is believed to be a medical warning about slipping, banging your head, and not ever waking up again. Which I’ll remember next time we’re in the car.

men-in-a-tub7 – Rub a Dub Dub

Sing this one to your kids in the bath? Yep, me too. The oldest known version of this rhyme, however, goes ‘rub a dub dub, three maids in a tub’ and alludes to the fact that peep shows were a common practice at fairs in the 14th century – and our friends, the butcher, the baker, and the candle-stick maker had gone along to get a naughty peak. Nice.

oranges and lemons8 – Oranges and Lemons

Doesn’t this rhyme start off nicely, with the bells of St. Clement’s and St Martin’s ringing out over London? But just like all our other favourite odes, it descends into a darker meaning as the lyrics continue: “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, Here comes a chopper to chop off your head. Chip chop chip chop. The last man’s dead!” It turns out that this lovely rhyme is all about the days of public executions, when the condemned were led along the street to the accompaniment of the tolling of bells.

Sweet dreams all!



24th October 2014

Current Favourites

Want to know what I’ve been loving recently? I’m kicking off a monthly post where I share my favourites – so here goes…

Favourites 620

1 – Blog

I have been reading Natasha’s blog The Milk Stand for a while now. The blog is addictive, mixing posts about everyday life with toddler Max with shopping inspiration, recipes, and reviews. She’s ridiculously cool and stylish (I want her home and wardrobe), but so genuine and honest in her musings. She also has a YouTube channel, which I dip into when I have time too. If you like Mum of Boys, you will like The Milk Stand, so make sure you check it out!

2 – Shop

Next has just launched its festive collections and I would like to buy the whole lot for my boys, especially this cool Fairisle Pattern Jumper, Navy Gilet, and Quilted Joggers – but as we are in Dubai in the sunshine, this cool T-Shirt will be added to my online basket. Definitely worth an online browse if you need new autumn/winter clothes for your boys.

3 – Book

I have fallen head over heels in love with Julia Donaldson’s Night Monkey, Day Monkey
book. The story is the perfect way to help active little boys wind down before bedtime, with beautiful words and even more beautiful illustrations. My sister bought this book for Wilfred, but Stanley is completely obsessed with it and asks for it every bedtime – that is fine by me, as it’s a real joy to read.

4 – Film

On the subject of Julia Donaldson – and very apt too, with Halloween around the corner – we have been watching the short animated film Room On The Broom quite a lot recently. There are some things that Stanley likes to watch on the television that really grate my nerves, but this is not one of them and I am always happy to put it on when the boys fancy a bit of screen time. It is quite literally a work of art, with beautiful animation and soothing music. You can buy it as a DVD at Amazon.co.uk or on iTunes to play on the iPad.

5 – UK Discovery

Toddler boys in leggings? Oh yes, it is very cool and very cute – and I will be buying my boys these adorable creations from brand tobias and the bear to wear with their T-shirts and Toms shoes. I’ve just discovered the brand and can’t wait to see the boys rocking them – but first, I have to decide between Ned The Elephant, Brown Bear Brown Bear, or Storm Boy (£15 each).

6 – Dubai Discovery

My friend Simone and I took our boys and husbands to Ripe Market this morning, in its new location of Zabeel Park. I didn’t think I could like the market any more than when it was based in Safa Park before the summer, but seriously, it’s even better. It’s closer to the car park, located on paths shaded by palm trees, with even more stalls. For kids, there’s a great play park alongside, animals to pet and ponies to ride from Tamini Stables, sand art to get creative, and pancakes that look like Mickey Mouse. And for adults, there is amazing coffee from Raw, endless food stalls to enjoy, and beautiful gift, clothing, and craft stalls to browse and buy. It’s on every Friday morning between 9am and 2pm – and believe me, it’s the perfect start to the weekend.

7 – On my wish list

I know I’m in Dubai, but I still want this cosy Grey Blanket from Not on the Highstreet and I think it’ll end up on my Christmas list to throw over the sofa. The weather in Dubai is starting to cool now and I’d love a pair of jeweled sandals to wear with summer dresses, like these Light Pink Gem Stone Sandals from River Island (we still want to wear pretty shoes as mums of boys, right?) And finally, I am desperate to get out on a date night with the husband to watch Gone Girl – hopefully we will manage it this week. Has anyone seen it yet?

8 – Dreaming of…

I’ve been researching a blog post about perfect holidays for families this week (to be revealed soon!) and the Sani Resort in Greece is somewhere a lot of you recommended. We can’t get there from Dubai as there are no direct flights – but if you are based in the UK and are looking for a family-friendly resort, this should seriously be top of your wish list. The resort is exceptionally kid-friendly, making it possible for adults to enjoy the holiday as much as their little companions. We will definitely get there one day…



22nd October 2014

Healthier Halloween Treats

Halloween is just a few weeks away – and if you are planning a party for your kids, you are probably thinking about the spread. So I thought I’d inspire you with a few healthier treat ideas, all with a spooky theme to impress and tempt party goers.

So here’s the best 16 I could find…

HEALTHIER HALLOWEENLet me know if you try any! I will definitely be trying the octopus pepper dip, ghost pizza, and grape snakes. So simple and effective!



21st October 2014

Some Advice For Pregnant Mums With Toddlers

IMG_3855So it’s been announced that K-Middy is due in April, giving her roughly a 21-month gap between babies. Been there, done that, got the puree-covered T-shirt. So here’s some advice for you Princess Kate – and anyone else that is currently pregnant with a toddler running around the house…

1. Introduce yourself to Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly, and Fireman Sam. They will be your babysitters for the first trimester while you swig Ginger Tea and take up residency in the bathroom.

2. On the rare occasions you do get out (and this will happen with more regularity as the nausea passes and your bump gets bigger), you will need some kind of child restraint system. Buggy / inescapable reins / those toddler backpacks with leads; you get the picture.

3. When you reach the third trimester, make sure there are four walls around you at all times. It pays to always remember this: your toddler can move a lot faster than you can.

4. If your child still naps, consider sleeping during these times. That guaranteed stretch of silence will soon be the stuff of dreams. “Silence?!” I hear you chortle, “I have a toddler!” But believe me, you will only notice the value of that silence when there is suddenly a newborn screaming through it.

5. Prepare your toddler for their sibling by pretending you are glued to the sofa when they ask you to play, grabbing their toys every time they pick one up, and dividing every snack into two and only handing them half.

6. Consider investing in some kind of child haulage system to lower the toddler into his cot when your bump is too big. Otherwise, get him used to the sudden adrenaline rush of falling from a height onto the mattress early on in your pregnancy (this will also be useful when you have a newborn in one arm and a toddler in the other).

7. Train your toddler to fetch things for you. Useful items include baby wipes, nappies, toys, and remote controls. This is also a very useful tool when you are too pregnant to get off the sofa (in this instance, add chocolate to aforementioned list).

8. As you near the end of your pregnancy, bring birthing ball down from the loft. Immediately regret your decision as toddler rolls it around house, knocking down everything in its path. Put birthing ball back in the loft.

9. If anyone happens to offer babysitting in the latter few months, immediately thank them, pull out your diary, and book them in. Early mornings will be especially useful; give them a spare key and give them directions to the nursery.

10. By all means allow your toddler to bond with their sibling by stroking your bump, saying their name, and holding up the teeny tiny clothing. But do not be alarmed when they continue stroking your bump after the baby has arrived, missing the point entirely.



20th October 2014

Possibly The Best App Of All Time – ArtKive App

I recently wrote a post about displaying kids artwork here – and whilst they are good ideas, I have found something even better… And seriously, I think this is my favourite App of all time.

ArtKive is an app that allows you to photograph your child’s artwork, upload it into albums, label it with their age or school year, and keep it filed away forever. There is also the option to create photo books of the artwork, so you can document it in physical form too.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 13.10.11

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love creating art with Stanley – and I love receiving it home from nursery. But with the rate he creates it, I could never possibly display it all. I find it impossible to throw it away though – screwing up something your child has created and throwing it in the bin just feels wrong. But now I can do it without a heavy heart, as I know they are safe forever in the virtual world.

view2-f6df3330ff8f5d3282f2d961f8f1702aSo here’s how it works:

1. Log into the app (you’ll be given an option to set up a username and password the first time you log in).

2. Photograph the artwork or upload from your camera roll.

3. Tag the photo with child’s name, age, date and title (you can create profiles for each of your children).

4. Share with family and friends by clicking the ‘share’ button – or create into books or prints

I think it’s ingenious!

OK, so now the bad news. This app costs £2.99, but do you know what, some apps are worth the money. And for the same price as a takeaway coffee, I think it’s well worth the spend.

I’ve been busy uploading Stanley’s artwork since I downloaded last night. And it’s the first time I’ve looked at the piles on the shelf in his nursery for a long time, so that’s got to be a good thing. And since then, I’ve logged in several times to look at it. So in reality, I’m enjoying his artwork a lot more than when it was on a shelf.

photo 3photo 1-2

You can find it at the App Store to buy and download here. Happy archiving!



19th October 2014

10 Things You Swore You’d Never Do As A Parent

photo 21 – Sugar. When you first bring a child into the world, you vow that sugar will not touch their lips until they go to university. Then their first birthday arrives and you let them destroy a cupcake. And the rest, as they say, is history.

2. The Living Room.I will absolutely not, under any circumstances, allow brightly coloured plastic toys take over my living room. It will remain an ADULT SPACE,” you said, stroking your pregnant bump. Fast forward a few years and you can hardly see the carpet.

3. iPads and iPhones. You saw parents in cafes reach into their bags and pull out iPads and iPhones to entertain their kids, while they tucked into their Full English Breakfast in peace. ‘Lazy parenting’, you thought. ‘I’ll involve my children in mealtimes when I am a parent.” Until that is, you have a couple of these small, noisy, fidgeting humans under your care and you fancy a Full English Breakfast in peace.

4. Nursery Rhymes. “I will not be that Mum that plays nursery rhymes in the car,” you told yourself. And then you gave birth to a child that prefers the sound of his own screaming to your carefully curated playlist. He liked Old Macdonald though – so you pressed ‘play’ so regularly that you still catch yourself singing the lyrics in the shower.

photo 1-25. Soft Play. Who would want to go into those horrendous, sweaty, noisy places by choice? Not you! Until you had a toddler and realised they could fall flat on their face and bounce straight back up. So you took up unlimited  entry membership.

6. Bribery. Before you had kids, you imagined your offspring would be delightful, polite, obliging little folk. It became obvious that wasn’t the case the first time they refused to get back into their buggy and you reached into your bag for a box of raisins. By the time you got to potty training, bribery was second nature.

7. Saying No to Invitations. As a pregnant lady, you were convinced that your social life would carry on where you left it – after all, you’d just take the child along too! No biggie! Until that is, the baby arrived and you realised drinks parties and evening meals weren’t quite as fun when you had to change pooey nappies between the martinis.

IMG_02748. Flights. As a childless traveller, you watched parents with babies board the plane and held your breath until they walked past your seat. And as you witnessed their fruitless attempts to get their babies to sleep / stop screaming, you swore you’d never put fellow travellers through the ordeal in the future. Until that future arrived and you realised you still quite liked holidays.

9. Snot. Wipe another human being’s snot off their face with your bare hands? The thought would’ve made you heave in your pre-child days. Now it happens daily and your clothes reveal the evidence.

10. Oven Food. Before the kids came along, you had visions of yourself in the kitchen, creating home cooked meals from scratch, dressed in a floral pinny, with a smile on your face as your little darlings played nicely on their own. And then you become a mother, realised that you have about 3 minutes every night to knock up dinner (usually with a child attached to your leg) – and in a weak moment in the supermarket, picked up a packet of fish fingers. After that, life was never the same again.



18th October 2014

The best bags for mums – and the best accessories to go in them

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I decided I didn’t need a nappy bag. ‘I’m not giving up my collection of designer handbags“, I mulled. “Why do I need separate compartments and a washable interior?” My friend, who was already a mummy, snapped back: “Would you put poo-stained clothes in your designer handbag?” I recoiled. Of course I wouldn’t. And with that, I purchased my first changing bag and have rarely used anything else since.

As a child gets bigger, of course, you don’t necessarily need the compartments or the washable interior – but you do need space, whether it’s for spare clothes during potty training, snacks for hungry toddlers, or activities for keeping them entertained during boring moments.

If I was shopping for a new bag, I would definitely take my pick from the 10 below. And within it, I would stock up on the useful 12 accessories below that (keep scrolling!). Happy bag shopping – and have a lovely weekend!

bags collage

1. Poppy Navy Changing Bag, £89, Storksak at John Lewis (click here to buy)

2. Chevron Changing Bag, £61, Skip Hop at John Lewis (click here to buy)

3. Star Print Rucksack, £22, Next (click here to buy)

4. Coral Changing Bag, £70, Storksak (click here to buy)

5. Dome Rucksack, £35, Accessorize (click here to buy)

6. Sophia Leather Bag, £189, BabyBeau at John Lewis (click here to buy)

7. Navy Mirano Changing Bag, £99, Paca Pod (click here to buy)

8. Navy Spot Satchel £35, Babymel at Mamas and Papas (click here to buy)

9. Leather Satchel, £74.95, GAP (click here to buy)

10. London Buses Changing Bag, £95, Cath Kidston (click here to buy)

Acceessories

1. Travel Bottle Warmer, £8.40, Tommee Tippee at Boots (click here to buy)

2. Mini Portable Soother Steriliser, £5, Milton at Boots (click here to buy)

3. Bugs Snack Pots, £9, Jo Jo Maman Bebe (click here to buy)

4. Sheep Changing Mat, £19.99, Zara Home (click here to buy)

5. Hand Gel, £1.45, Cussons at Boots (click here to buy)

6. My Buggy Buddy Pram Clip, £4.79, Amazon.co.uk (click here to buy)

7. Printed Nappy and Wipes Holder, £12, Not on the Highstreet (click here to buy)

8. Wet and Dry Bag, £13, Jo Jo Maman Bebe (click here to buy)

9. Disposable Bibs, £5.49, Tommee Tippee at Amazon.co.uk (click here to buy)

10. Ladybird Food Flask, £15, Jo Jo Maman Bebe (click here to buy)

11. Pack Away Pocket Highchair, £14, Jo Jo Maman Bebe (click here to buy)

12. Baby Formula Mixer, £19.99, Amazon.co.uk (click here to buy)



16th October 2014

Get Creative and Win Prizes with Autumn Publishing!

Transformers LogoI love a good craft project, but I sometimes struggle to find inspiration when Stanley decides he wants to get cutting and sticking. So when the nice people at Autumn Publishing told me about their new creative competition, I thought you’d like to hear about it.

Titan’s official Transformers: Age of Extinction Comic Issue #4 is on shelves this morning (16th October). Costing £3.99, the comic has lots to keep Transformers fans busy – but my favourite bit is that the company is challenging little readers to create their very own creative Rescue Bot figurine using the template provided in the magazine.

Transformers Comic

After cutting, modelling, sticking, and decorating the Roll and Rescue Figurine, you will need to take a picture and upload to Autumn Publishing’s Facebook and Twitter pages – and the top 20 winning designs will win a full set of Rescue Bots books!

Some inspiration!

Some inspiration!

Let me know if you give it a go – I’d love to see your creations!

The Transformers: Age of Extinction Comic costs £3.99, and comes free with one of two collectable mini Transformers. Find it at supermarkets and newsagents across the UK from 16th October.

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Thank you to Autumn Publishing for this sponsored post