Thursday, 29 November 2012

Call for posts! Britmums Christmas beauty round-up

Calling all Britmums bloggers!
Written a post about beauty, be it reviewing your favourite products, recommending Christmas beauty must-haves, or talking winter skin care?
Want to be included on the Britmums blog Christmas beauty round-up?
Email me, tweet me or facebook me using the lovely coffee cup icons over on the right.  Or if you are on the mobile web, and can't see those lovely coffee cups, then a) get back to a PC to enjoy the full website, and b) share your links with me via Twitter @ymummyreally or by adding your links to the comments below.
You have until Saturday 29th December (deadline extended!) to point me to your posts.  Get writing!
PS. I am writing these posts using the Android App this week. I can't believe I am now a regular raver of Apps.  I still don't have a tablet though, so if anyone fancies sending me one... Feel free.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A service announcement and an invite to write for us

Regular readers will be aware that I started working full time this month, not just in my existing job, but in an entirely new organisation in a promoted post.  It's something of a challenge, and I am currently at the "whose stupid idea was this?" stage.
I have a zillion and one new work things flying around my head, along with a zillion and two different mum-related tasks like "take tombola prize to school for the Christmas fair", "drop off eldest at Christmas disco", "ensure Christmas colouring competition entries are handed into school on time", "write Christmas cards", "arrange trip to Santa's Grotto", "remember which day is mufti day at school", "listen to eldest read her reading books twice a week", "remember to do maths homework with eldest", "pay for gymnastics lessons", "take back library books"........I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

All that is on top of the daily food shopping, meal prepping, pot washing jobs. I've already opted to buy in 2 hours of cleaning and 2 hours of ironing each week: and still I don't stop until 10pm, at which point I try and find half an hour of TV, but inevitably fall asleep within 5 minutes.

Life throws these challenges at us. Life has decided to throw a surprise work challenge at my husband this month too, meaning he is working 12 hour days at the moment. Something we couldn't have planned for and which hopefully won't continue for too long.

The result of all this is that my blog is not getting the attention it deserves as I am obviously prioritising family time.   I will continue to post when I can, and want to say a huge thank you to all readers. Please please bear with me.

I will also consider guest posts from other bloggers at this time.  If you are a blogger and a parent and would like to write a piece on how you stay yummy, or not, please email it me for consideration.

Many thanks all. Stay yummy!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Working Mothers

Remember when you used to get school reports that told you how well, or not, you were doing?

Feedback is always useful, but todays feedback from my four year old wasn't great.  I drove through the countryside, up and down hills and winding lanes to get from work to her Nursery by 4pm. 

In my previous, part time work, I would have picked her up half an hour early having collected her older sister from school.

But now, in my full time role, I cannot leave until 3.30pm, meaning I can collect her on time, but no longer early.  I feel like I should emphasise the "on time" bit there.

Tonight, when I collected her, I was a few minutes later than other mums but still "on time" and so she wasn't the first child to be picked up.

She wasn't happy.

"Hello lovely" I said. "Have you had a nice day?"

She frowned at me and didn't answer.

"Oh dear," I said. "What's the matter".

Her bottom lip came out and she spoke in that quiet whiny voice that all parents know and love.

"I wanted you to be first" she whined.

Great. I had rushed out of work so that she could be picked up at normal time and can therefore be home for tea, and it still wasn't good enough.

My school report for the day? "Must try harder".

I suspect that report won't change much!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tights! Love them or hate them?

Who invented tights?

I could google the question and find out, but I really don't think that's a good idea, because whoever it is will be the subject of a fair amount of frustration emanating from me, and it's probably safer to direct that frustration generally out into the world so that it can quickly dissipate in all directions, rather than it having a specific target.

I have spent the last week constantly pulling up my tights. Yesterday, on the way out of the school gates after school drop off, I found myself intermittently taking extra large steps to try and keep the crotch of the tights from sliding further down my legs.

I have had to use damp hands, carefully slid up my tights, to pull them up properly after every attempt at actually pulling them up the usual way - you know, hands carefully pulling up from the bottom whilst trying not to snag them on a rough nail.  The damp hands trick is a good trick and works for a while, but if you are caught sliding your hands up your legs in the ladies bathroom it can look a little strange.  And then, inevitably, minutes later, I can feel the lycra slowly fighting back and pulling the tights back down again.

I've had to pull up my tights as soon as I've got in the car after the school run in order to stay comfortable (what views any passers by must of got had they looked into my car at the point when I was hitching them up around my thighs I dread to think).  Even, as I write this, I can feel them slowly, but surely, venturing south.

A last ditch attempt to keep them where they belong involves tucking my camisole and blouse into them and hoping that my skirt doesn't drop down at the waist enough to show off this strange clothing arrangement.

OK, OK, I know what you are thinking, I clearly haven't got the right size.  But when I do go up a size they end up so loose and baggy that they slide down my legs and create Nora Batty waves around my ankles (If you know who that is you are closer to 40 than you'd care to admit).

I hate tights.

The only trouble is, I love tights.  They make my legs look normal (I am ghostly pale skinned), and they keep me warm (I am a wimp). 

There's only one thing for it; the solution that I used to adopt as a skinny 12 year old girl; I shall wear a pair of pants over the top of the tights as well as underneath them. 

Sexy eh?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Blogging about beauty but over 30? Is it allowed?

I have been thinking a lot about the beauty element of this blog recently.  I have had occasion to nosy around on the web for other beauty blogs as part of my role as Britmumsbeauty round-up editor and I have noticed that Google search appears to have a liking for beauty blogs written by youngsters.  

When I say youngsters here I specifically mean anyone under 25 years old and that don’t have children.  The blogs that come up at the top of search engines including the words beauty and blog are all by women who appear to be industry experts, buying new beauty products on a daily basis, testing them all out, and dare I say it, enjoying the fact that they don’t actually need any make up (they are all under 25 years old with youth on their side after all), so if it goes wrong, or doesn’t suit their skin, it really doesn’t matter as they haven’t spent that much on it anyway, and their youth appears to provide them with a free pass to experiment with make-up styles happily without people pointing and staring in the street.

I, on the other hand, am fast approaching 40 years old and only started using make-up AT ALL 6 years ago when I returned to work after having my first daughter.

At fast-approaching-40, and an accountant, society seems to dictate that I am not allowed to make any make-up mistakes.  If I decide to try bright cerise lipstick, I probably shouldn’t do it the day I have an important meeting with my boss as I’ll get some really weird looks and, sorry but this is true, will have folk thinking a little less of my professionalism if I can’t even get basic make-up right.

So where does this leave those of us who desperately want to work out what suits us, at a time in our life where we are really starting to need the help, but missed the teenage-girls testing stage?

Are we even allowed to have an opinion on beauty products, having had so little testing time?  

Can we afford to switch products once we find something that works just to ‘try’ something else? Or will our fast-approaching-40 skin be too quick to punish us if we veer away from the few products we have discovered?

So what do you think? If we are ‘outside’ the beauty industry AND fast-approaching-40, can we talk about beauty products and express our opinions on them? And if we can, in the form of a blog, then where are all the fast-approaching-40 beauty bloggers hiding? 

Come on Google – find them for me! Or if you have one, or have a view on the subject, tell me in the comments below.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Juggling all the balls, multi-tasking and time management!

I was rummaging through some old draft posts this morning and came across this..

"Today has been a tricky day.  Not in any grand sense; it's not like we've been fighting dragons or juggling eggs, we'll save those fun activities for some other time; no, it's just been a little tricky.

I went back to work today, after being ill last week, and got myself all caught up.  But my job means that, at this time of year, it is busy and pressured, and a missed day sets me back just too far.  So instead of being off on leave tomorrow, like I'd planned, I decided that I'll need to go into work.  And since neither set of Grandparents happen to be available for babysitting duties tomorrow, then our younger girl, still 3 years old, will be going to Nursery for an extra day.

I had to arrange that, last minute, at 4pm today.  Luckily they have space for her.

Regular readers will already have guessed that I am feeling guilty that I won't be spending the day with her like I'd planned.  But, although I feel guilty, I remind myself that my part-time, annualised hours, flexible working contract means that I will be off work for pretty much the whole of July and August. A contract like that is only possible when you ensure you meet the deadlines you are supposed to when you are there.

At the moment work is busy, meaning I get less time with the children.  But I know I will make it up to them.  And every day, when I pick them up from school and nursery at 3.15pm, I try and ensure to spend time with them then.  To enjoy the evening with stories and lullabies and to balance the day.

It was a tricky day, because it felt like a tricky decision.  But it wasn't really.  It was a decision I'd actually made 2 years ago when I returned to work.

Working mums face this kind of decision every day.  How do you get the right balance?  How flexible are your employees?"

It was interesting to read back to this post, drafted over 6 months ago and never published, because this week I started back at work, in a new job, full time.  Yes.  Let me repeat that - FULL TIME!

The youngest isn't at school yet - that excitement will have to wait until September - but a brilliant opportunity came up and I went for it.

Interestingly I haven't felt particularly guilty this week.  The eldest is absolutely thrilled at being able to stay at After School Club with her mates for an hour after school.  On Thursdays I can now pick them up earlier, weirdly, as I'm not trying to shove work hours into fewer days, and the hubby has seen more of the girls and been able to attend his first parents evening.

All in all, going back full time seems to have forced us to create a better balance of childcare and be more organised on the logistics front (I already know at least 6 different routes to work, and have properly started meal planning, which is incredibly useful as it resulted in a slow-cookered meal being ready for us after work!)

And, I feel more like myself again.  The intellectual challenge will mean that I sleep well!

So how do you manage working and parenting?  Any tips?  Feel free to share them below.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Mensa Academy: A review

Do you know your Mensa score?

With the success of brain training games over the last few years, it comes as no surprise that Mensa have released their very own computer game; Mensa Academy, available on Nintendo® Wii™ and 3DS™, Windows PC platforms, and in the near future for mobile and tablets.

I was lucky enough to try it out on an iPad at the Britmums 2012 event in London.  It's great fun on the iPad.  Click the correct picture to complete the pattern as fast as you can, click the right shape, numerical answer.. etc....There are 100+ mini-games, puzzles and challenges with play, test and coach modes.  It was very easy to use and I immediately saw how much fun it would be for the whole family.

But it's not available for mobile and tablet yet, so when I was offered the chance to try out the PC version, I jumped at it.

Unfortunately I was a little disappointed by the PC version.  The games are the same, but have been designed with touchscreens in mind so using a cursor slows down your response times considerably.  Not only that, but the cursor doesn't seem to function well on the game.  It bunny hops across the screen despite our cursor usually working fine.

My 6 year old daughter was excited about playing the games, but got more and more frustrated with the lack of decent cursor control until eventually, after about 6 separate game session across a couple of months, she gave up and hasn't asked to play it since.

I've had more of a play, but am similarly frustrated with the PC version.

So our advice: get this for a touchscreen, be it a tablet or phone.  It really is a great game, but is spoilt by it's clunkiness (I don't care if that's a proper word or not; it works) on the PC.

A copy of the Mensa Academy computer game for PC was provided free for the purpose of this honest review. 

Mensa Academy is developed by Silverball Studios and Barnstorm Games and published by Square Enix Europe

Friday, 2 November 2012

Christmas printables

So now Halloween is finished, all thoughts are with Christmas.  Whether it's present buying, organising whose house you are, or are not visiting on the day, which family members you are going to annoy (since you can't keep everyone happy) and what food you need to get stocked up with.

The good news is that it's the easiest time of the year to keep children entertained with craft activities.  Search for Christmas crafts on google and you are inundated with options.

My favourite find this year is the Activity Village Christmas scrapbook papers.  Simply download the A4 sheets of Christmas themed paper and print.  These reindeer's are lovely and are just one example of a vast range.

Be warned though; I used up all my colour cartridge printing about 18 sheets!*

And one further warning; this site has colouring sheets, word searches, advent calender templates, craft ideas galore.... you might need to grab a cuppa before you start browsing.

*Note:  This is not a sponsored post.  I just love the website. and wanted to share.

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