The Library

  Today I had cause to go to our local library for the first time in about 2 years and it was lovely.

At first I thought it was lovely because I was alone, sans children, for only the second time in 4 months. The first time being when I went for a CT scan, an altogether less pleasant experience. But it wasn’t the lack of children that made it lovely (although that probably helped). 

Then I thought it was because of the peace and quiet. No screaming toddler having a paddy because I won’t let him eat 6 thousand starbursts in a row; no hysterical baby full of trapped wind; no demanding husband wanting to know where his shoes are. But it wasn’t that either. 

It wasn’t until I was leaving that I realised that it was the mixture of people in that place, all engrossed in their own individual activities, that had made the atmosphere so lovely. 

In the corner was an older gentleman, around mid-70’s, using one of the fairly ancient PC’s to look for package holidays. He was meticulously scribbling down the details of each one that fit his criteria and beaming as he did it. (I don’t think he knew he could print the pages for the bargain price of 5p per sheet.) Next to me was a scruffy, hippy type bloke, about 25. He was designing a poster for some sort of Christmas event and kept popping up to the counter to ask the opinions of the Middle-aged librarians, who were loving the attention and trying to out-flirt each other with him. 

Dotted about the library were all kinds of people choosing books, reading newspapers, writing, researching, immersing themselves in whatever it was they were doing. 

As I left it made me sad that my local library most likely won’t be around when my children are old enough to enjoy it. And not only that; the motley crew who were in there today won’t have that sanctuary to go to anymore. I found it almost comical that the elderly man was searching for package holidays in a library, but what if that was his only access to the internet? And what if the Scruffy Hippy relies on that place to design his flyers?

When cuts are made it’s always the most vulnerable in society that suffer but I have to be honest, the library is under-used. It was around midday and there was a maximum of 8 people in there, including me. The sweet little children’s section was totally empty. It’s no surprise that it’ll probably face the chop soon.

  

My 2 year old is already a member of the library, although he’s too boisterous to show much interest in books so far. But regardless, I’m going to start taking him to the library at least once a week to encourage him to see reading as something fun to do. It’s not much but it’s the only thing I can do right now to increase the footfall at the library and maybe help it hang around for a bit longer. 

Lately I read more blogs than books and that has to change too. As convenient as a Kindle is, I still love the feel and smell of a proper book; its high time I got stuck back into some good novels. Any recommendations?

Side Note: when I got home the husband hadn’t been able to find his shoes, the baby was hysterically crying and full of wind and the 2 year old had demolished six thousand Starburst. At least. 

I Miss Being Vain!

 
My children are everything and I love the bones of them. I wouldn’t swap them for the world but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss certain things from my pre-mum days. And one of those things is being vain.

   
I miss looking like this. I miss spending 4 hours getting ready for a night out. Or even just a day out. Or actually, even just going to work. I’ve never been what would be described as conventionally beautiful but I’ve always taken care over my appearance. Despite always having been on the heavier side (ok yeah, I mean fat), I care what I look like and love applying make up.

In my pre-children days I would spend 50 minutes in the shower, exfoliating and conditioning to my heart’s content. No rush, I could stay in that bathroom as long as I liked. Then I’d saunter into my bedroom, put some tunes on and spend hours on my make up, literally hours. 

First I always tweezed my eyebrows and examined my pores in a magnifying mirror for about 20 minutes. Then I’d prime my face with a moisturiser, eye cream and pore minimiser. Next I’d apply concealer and 3 different foundations followed by setting powder. I’ve always enhanced my eyebrows (even before it was fashionable. I am a victim of the 90’s over plucking phenomena) so I’d spend at least 15 minutes on them. Then the eyes; at least 5 eye-shadows, liquid eye-liner, khol eye-liner and individual false lashes. Then highlighter and bronzer. I’d sculpt my face and keep on sculpting until I was happy with it. Last was always the lips. For some reason I never spent much time on them, usually just a couple of lip glosses would do. 

Then onto my hair. Products galore at my disposal, ghd’s and curling wands at the ready, I’d make sure there wasn’t a hair out of place. 

 

The pre-children me. Although I’ll concede the eyebrows are a bit dodgy here.
 
These days I’m lucky if I manage a 10 minute shower in peace. Half the time I rush out of the house with 50% wet hair (the other 50% being dry but frizzy). I slap foundation on whilst feeding the baby and hope for the best. I still insist on sorting my eyebrows out (I really can’t go around with sparse eyebrows can I?) but I’m altogether a much less appealing sight than I was before. 

I live in denial. Each day I go out looking a mess I vow that it’s the last day it will happen. ‘I’ll get my act together tomorrow and be glam again’ I tell myself. It doesn’t happen. But it will one day. Probably sometime in 2030.

We All Live In Paris

 It feels right to write about what has happened in Paris. To let it go by without acknowledging it here seems false because it’s consuming my thoughts right now. 

I’ve been thinking about the people that were killed in cold blood. Thinking about the fear they must’ve felt in that second when they realised what was happening. Wondering what they thought about. For some of them it would’ve been their children and that really breaks my heart.

Their families have also been on my mind; mothers, fathers, daughters and sons grieving their most cherished loved ones being murdered. Brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles and cousins; angry at the absolute senselessness of it all.  

Then I think of the psychopaths that did it. What were they thinking? How could they go through with it? How could they have been brainwashed to the point of committing cold blooded murder, killing themselves in the process?

We’ve all been posting pictures of the Eiffel Tower and hashtagging ‘Pray for Paris’ because we feel for the victims and the city. But also, we feel for ourselves. It’s human nature. Once we’ve digested tragedies such as these we naturally start to think about how it affects us; how it affects our children. 

For me I’m doubly scared. First, I’m scared that these lunatics will carry out another attack and one of my loved ones will be hurt. Either here in the UK or in Jordan, where I also have family. I especially worry about my sister who lives in London. The truth is that nowhere is out of reach for the terrorists. We all live in Paris. 

Second, I’m scared about the Islamaphobia these attacks perpetuate. I am Muslim (although not strict by any means) and my children are Muslim. I’m scared they will be treated differently or even abused at school when they’re older because of their religion. 

It’s no coincidence that these tragedies create friction between the West and Muslims; it’s part of the terrorist agenda. When the West starts to treat all Muslims with suspicion and sometimes disdain, Muslims feel marginalised and ostracised. And that’s when they become easy pickings for ISIS to recruit. And so the cycle continues. 

I’ve seen on my own Facebook feed today, hints of racism and Islamaphobia coming through from my own friends (although not close friends, thankfully). They’re not being that way because they’re bad people, but because they’re scared and angry and so when the Right Wing holds up Islam as an easy target to blame, they take it.

Each one of these attacks brings changes to all of our lives. A little more caution; another place we decide we’d better not choose for a holiday destination this year. Yes, statistically it’s highly unlikely we’d be killed in a terrorist attack but statistics aren’t what stay with us; those images on the TV of death and destruction. They stay with us. And they scare us. 

I am praying for Paris but I’m also praying for the world. There was a terrorist attack by ISIS in Lebanon on Thursday (barely reported by the media) and the depressing fact is there will be more, all over the world, in the coming months. We all live in Paris and I pray for us all. 

  

Five Ridiculous Decisions I’ve Made In The Middle Of The Night

 Do any of you have these amazing thoughts in the middle of the night while you’re up feeding the baby or struggling to get to sleep? I don’t know whether it’s boredom or severe sleep deprivation that causes them but I suffer from them badly. Here’s a few recent ones:

1. I’m going to go back to uni to re-train as a doctor. I’ll specialise in paediatric medicine and it’ll be great. (I’m not and it won’t. I’ve got a weak stomach and the sight of blood makes me queasy.)

2. Tomorrow I’m going to go buy some paint and redecorate the living room. I’ll paint over all the crayon drawings on the walls and it will look super. (Not happening. As well as having a 2 year old and a 3 month old to look after and entertain, I’ll be knackered from being awake half the night with the baby and my deluded thoughts.)

3. I’m going to open an Etsy Store and sell lovely bespoke goods, all hand made by clever old me. (Well nope because I’m not actually crafty in the slightest, despite really wishing I was, and I have nothing to offer Etsy other than hard cash when I’m buying stuff other crafty types have made.)

4. I’ll sign up for the London Marathon and  run the whole thing and raise loads of money for charity. (Nice idea and perhaps something to aim for but I should probably at least own a pair of trainers before I set my sights on a marathon. The egg and spoon race would actually be beyond my capabilities right now. No really.)

5. I’ll write a novel. It’ll be semi-autobiographical and hilarious of course. Everyone will want to read about the life and times of Me and I’ll get really famous, probably. I’ll end up having to choose between Graham Norton and Alan Carr because I’ll be so popular I simply won’t have time to appear on both of their shows. (I think the fact I’m blogging about my deluded thoughts is evidence enough that any novel written by me is hardly going to become a best seller.)

Come the morning I explain to my middle-of-the-night self why such decisions are ridiculous and must be reversed, never to be thought of again. So my middle-of-the-night self just keeps coming up with new crazy plans each night. 

Surely I’m not the only one this happens to?!

Linking with:

You Baby Me Mummy

Five Great Stocking Fillers from Independent Retailers for Under 5’s (That Aren’t Toys!)

Image from the super talented LH Design
With Christmas fast approaching it’s always good to at least get the stockings sorted before November’s out. Not that my disorganised self has ever managed this in the past, but it’s something to aim for!I always try to support independent retailers where possible and when it comes to gifts I think something more individual shows that you’ve really thought about a present and not just rushed into John Lewis and grabbed something from the first display you’ve seen. Although my kids wouldn’t know (or care less!) where their present has come from (which is Santa, obviously), I still take pleasure in finding lovely little lesser known gifts they (and let’s face it, I) can enjoy.I’ve put together a list of five fabulous stocking fillers I’ve found from independent makers and stockists that aren’t toys but that kids will still love to receive. Whilst toys will usually make up the bulk of a child’s Christmas list, I find that alternative gifts are very much appreciated too, often because they’re unexpected. Plus they’ll probably outlive some of the toys that are opened this Christmas and discarded by Boxing Day!

The goodies I’ve featured are also cool enough to be stand alone gifts for a niece/nephew/friend to.

So here’s my list of lovely pressies:

1. Crayon Box Crayons


These gorgeous handmade crayons would be the perfect stocking filler for any child. With a wide range to choose from (from dinosaurs to Russian dolls to lego men and more) you can definitely find something that would appeal to your little one. You can also order letters to spell out a name; always popular with kids.

Whether your child is already a fan of drawing and colouring, or you’re trying to encourage an interest, these crayons are bound to go down a treat.

They are also so beautifully packaged; you can tell each set has been made with love.

Price: 6 crayons for £5.00

Order from: The Crayon Box Etsy Store

2. Rocky & Co Leggings from Tobias & the Bear


The increasingly popular Tobias & the Bear never fail to disappoint on both design and quality. These gorgeous leggings are currently available for pre-order but will be delivered in December if ordered now.

Available in sizes 3-6 months to 3-4 years the beauty of giving these as a gift for your child is that, like most items of clothing for your bub, they will also feel like a gift for you!

While the leggings are intended to be a snug fit, there can be some shrinking after the first wash according to the website, so I always size up for my 2 year old.

Price: £16.00

Order from: Tobias & the Bear Online Store

3. Toy Storage Bags by Hello Henry

 These hand made toy storage bags are a fantastic idea for an alternative to the usual toy storage chests or baskets and they’ll come in handy to neatly store away all those Christmas presents.

 There’s a variety of designs to choose from and as they are made to order, your child’s name (or any other text you want) can be added for no extra cost.

You might also want to check out these Christmas sacks, which are available until the end of November. Such a stylish way to deliver gifts to your little people!

Price: £10.50 – £15.00

Order from: The Hello Henry Etsy Store

4. Three Piece Cutlery Set by Omm Design – Available from The Pippa & Ike Show


Cutlery is a great idea for a stocking filler because you’d probably have to buy some anyway, right?! This brightly coloured set designed by Ingela P Arrhenius is perfect for little ones to get stuck into their dinner with in style.

The Pippa & Ike Show is a gorgeous independent online store, selling a varied collection of eye-catchingly wonderful treasures for children. As well as this cutlery set, they also stock Omm Design melamine beakers, bowls and plates in the same design, which will cheer up your kitchen and withstand toddler use!

Price: £9.95

Order from: The Pippa & Ike Show Online Store

5. Ice Cream LED Light by A Little Lovely Company – Available from This Modern Life


A night-light is another great stocking filler idea and how cute are these?! Choose from white, blue or pink ice-cream to brighten up your child’s room with a tasty-looking pastel lamp.

These ice-cream lamps would look lovely on a shelf or could be used as a reading light next to your child’s bed. They take  3xAA batteries so you don’t need to worry about having a power socket nearby.

This Modern Life is another great independent online store, stocking only the best decor items in terms of design. But browse at your own risk; you’ll probably find yourself wanting to add almost everything you see to your basket!

Price: £12.50

Order from: This Modern Life Online Store

So that’s my round up of super stocking fillers, I hope you’ve seen something you like.


And if you’re after beautiful, unique Christmas cards and tags do check out LH Design for something that little bit different to finish off your independent Christmas.

I’m linking up with

Mums' Days

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Hidden Gem

Once in a while I find something so wonderful, that excites me so much, that I want to shout about it and tell everyone I know how great it is. It might be a book, an item of make up, a quirky little independent online shop; anything really. But then once I’ve let my gorgeous find out into the open I almost always regret it, I get sort of jealous and wish it was my little secret again. That’s probably going to happen with this restaurant I’m about to tell you about, but I’m banking on the fact that I have zero followers (and if I ever happen to get a follower, they’re unlikely to go to Hull) to protect it from getting so popular that I can’t get a table anymore.

Kurdistan Restaurant in Hull looks so ropey from the outside that you just know the food is going to be amazing, and it is. Every time I go to Hull (which is around 50 minutes away from where I live and a journey across the Humber Bridge) I try to squeeze in a trip to Kurdistan, which is a little way out of the city centre shopping area. A few days ago I went to Hull with the husband and baby while my oldest boy was at nursery and Kurdistan didn’t disappoint. 

 
  
  
The interior of the restaurant is fairly basic, but clean. The decor is perhaps a little strange but there is plenty to look at while you wait for your food. To be honest, I don’t go there for the ambiance or the decor; it’s all about the food.

Although there are a lot of meat dishes, there is also plenty for vegetarians to choose from too. The bread is fresh and served warm and complimentary delicious traditional Kurdish tea is served after the meal. Win!

   

   
  Another win is the price of the food here. These dishes plus two soft drinks cost us £16! Can you believe it?! I’d think there was something suspicious about the source of the food if it weren’t for the fact that it’s so flippin’ tasty and the restaurant is full of Kurdish people eating there. Always a good sign!

Obsessive Nature

My ever loving mother often tells me she’s sure I have Aspergers Syndrome “like her off the Chase”. Whilst I don’t think I do (I’m very social and not intelligent enough for a start) I can’t deny that I have an obsessive nature.

When I become interested in something new it totally dominates and I HAVE to master it/understand it/beat it/constantly read about it/collect it ALL! And I can’t rest until I do! I usually manage to find an enabler who will indulge me, which is nice. They politely listen to me bang on about the current obsession and sometimes I even manage to drag them in too.

  
Right now, it’s 5am and instead of snoozing straight after feeding my baby at 4am, I opened up the WordPress App on my phone, downloaded a tutorial on WordPress, watched a couple of videos from said tutorial and then spent ages working out how to add a profile photo and then choosing one. Clearly, none of this could’ve waited until sunrise!

So it seems that my current obsession is WordPress. But don’t worry, usually what happens is the obsession peters out to become a normal healthy interest after a few weeks. Previous obsessions are varied and include crochet, Liverpool FC (more specifically Fernando Torres), face contouring, Emma Bridgewater pottery and prams. There are others that are just too strange to list and frankly, might be cause for concern if you don’t personally know me.

Oh dear, I’ve made myself sound very odd haven’t I? 😐

IMMA BOUT TO BLOG MY SOCKS OFF! (OR NOT)

I’ve wanted to start a blog for ages. I thought it would be a great way to use my brain again, which is something I haven’t really done much of since I stopped working in mid-2013 to have a bubba. I also thought I could share my (bound to be wonderful) ideas here and maybe vent the odd frustration or two (or two million). Then a little while ago one of my besties started blogging and she’s great at it; I got blog envy and that’s what made me actually take the plunge.

But now I’m here and wondering what the deuce to blog about! I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it and be producing witty must-reads soon enough. But until then, bear with…