A series of unfortunate events, or, the one where my 16 month old calls a cab…

Isn’t is lovely when a toddler dances without a care in the world, arms flailing, bouncing etc, even at 5am when you just want to sleep! Jossy came in with us in the early hours and by six thirty I was struggling to hold her back. Never ever give them your mobile phone people, ever, they are very clever these children, what unfolded this morning is testament to this.

Joss is talking away ‘on the phone’ “Lo?? Nanna? Toby? (our dog) Mammy? Finally…Daddy?” when I hear a real person’s voice muffled, in my bed.

“Hello Central Taxis can I help you?”

Argh, she’s made a call to an actual real person!

We both got such a fright that Joss burst into real sobbing tears and I hung up.

About ten seconds later I get a text, your taxi has been booked from Gateshead, this is an automated message. What the hell? How did she book a cab?!

I called them back, they laughed and said because I’ve booked from that number before it was just an automated response. I forgot all about it, ten minutes later I got another text, your taxi has been dispatched, your driver’s name is Michael, car Silver Astra.

And then another, and then another, a total of 14 texts all picking up from various parts of the city, over the course of three hours, driver names Sandra, Clare, Arlen, Dave, Mark…!


I called them again, they said no cabs had been dispatched thankfully, but since our call their systems had been a bit off, and that ladies and gents is how not to start your week, busting a large taxi firms booking system!

What’s the Story?

What's the Story?

Last week Northern Mum shared a post about her daughter’s hip dysplasia here http://www.northernmum.com/2013/09/hip-dysplasia-why-we-should-burn-forward-facing-baby-carriers/ and talked about forward facing children’s carriers where little one is not knee to knee. I read some of the comments with interest, particularly those about little one’s not being able to see properly when facing in, and I wanted to share another option. My what’s the story features a soft structured carrier or ‘buckles’ carrier that allows for a baby on the back positioning, knee to knee, as you can see Jossy has a great view and the carrier suits from birth to toddler and beyond, and we’re both really comfy as you can see, two miles into a three mile walk with a 21lb 16 month old!

I don’t want to weigh in on the debate about carriers, but I do think people should do their own research, so I would recommend the TICKS carrying card http://slumber-roo.co.uk/downloads/TICKS.pdf and hip dysplasia resources http://www.hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/

My handmade Boston Tweed Handbag part 1

My handmade Boston Tweed Handbag part 1

I started a two week community sewing class today in a gorgeous setting, Bensham Grove Community Centre. We’re making a winter handbag and this is how far we got today, pattern cutting, rivet feet and a solid square base. I need to work on my machine skills before next week but for a novice I’m utterly delighted with the fabric, the design and that I have started to make something that looks like a credible handbag!

The history of the building we’re working in is fascinating, William Morris and some of the Pre- Raphaelite painters were welcome visitors and their influence can certainly be felt in the rooms which are currently under conservation.

I must get more photos next time as it really is awe inspiring. You can see the William Morris influence here, what a place to do creative work in, eh!?


Top tips for study from home parents!

It was with great trepidation that I stepped back into a University Library yesterday. I’d made the mistake of forgetting it was the end of September and so had to join a long line of fresher’s for a library card ten years after I was a fresher myself, didn’t I feel old amongst all these bright young things!


I’ve now been working towards my Social Research Masters for three years, I’ve studied on honeymoon, I sat an exam on my due date, another with a five week old Jossy and am now writing my dissertation with a toddler in tow. This is the last presentation of my course and so I have to finish this year, with no opportunity for extension, so I am feeling the pressure a little, but I do think that it’s the time to finish as I would love to broaden my horizons on the work front.

I really feel in the swing of working life and studying from home, so I thought this is a good time to write my five top tips for study at home parents!

1) Be smart about finding time for your studies

I have learned not to pin all my hopes on nap times, as Joss is quite unpredictable and might have an hour today but only twenty minutes tomorrow. What I do now is try to do any university admin, emails, filing and organising interviews during nap time as these are easy to pick up and put down tasks. If I have to read I keep my aim conservative, even if I manage four pages that’s a start. Anything that needs a lot of concentration, extended reading, writing, real hard thinking and theorising, coding my data, I wait with those tasks til I know I will get a good run at them. At the moment this is two nights a week, where I try to do my housework essentials whilst Joss plays and helps me during the day, protecting those nights for work. I arrived at this routine after some guilt and soul searching, I had been trying to do too much and then if Joss woke from a nap I’d feel exasperated and panic I’d never get everything done, the perfectionist in me was trying to have it all, family, study and work and a neat and tidy home, and feeling like I just needed her to have had another ten minutes made me feel crap, now that I structure my day differently I love that time when I hear her chattering as she wakes up refreshed!

2) Find yourself a study space and keep it out of reach!

My study space travels around with me, it’s a box file with my course guide, two key texts, an A4 notebook and a research diary, with pens and post-its. It comes to work, the library, it sits next to the PC at home whilst I work and it sometimes travels further afield to. I always put everything back in the box and put the box up on a high shelf when I’m finished, as I learned to my detriment that anything that Mammy looks interested in is fair game for a toddler (yes, the baby did quite literally eat my homework…)

3) Remove any distractions if you can

There’s a time and a place for procrastinating, and I found that if I wanted to go to bed feeling a sense of achievement I had to close Facebook, stop checking emails and ignore the telephone during protected study time. I quite liked this little meme that a friend on my Facebook study group sent around!study




4) If you’re studying long distance or with the Open University seek out your local University Library

The SCONUL Access scheme may well apply to you, it allows University students to borrow or use books at other libraries which are part of the scheme. I can now pop into town and use the library for an hour even out of office hours with my access card as my library building is open 24/7, I can get out four books at a time and have a quite space for reading when Joss has some fun time with her Daddy. Having a space that’s not used by the family allows me to concentrate better and having the books to hand makes the whole thing more efficient!

5) When the going gets tough…

Ask for help, talk to your tutor and most importantly of all, remember why you’re doing it. When I started I wanted a better career, now my focus is to create a better life for Joss and my family, I am keen for her to develop self-discipline and a good work ethic, an interest in the world around her and I want to lead by example.

Be proud of yourself for undertaking a challenging task, treat yourself when you hit some of your milestones, and plan in breaks, good luck fellow students!

When life hands you over ripe bananas make banana bread!

When life hands you over ripe bananas make banana bread!

I love GBBO, my baking always takes off when it’s on and I remember how therapeutic it is, and how impatient I am!

I spotted bags of bananas reduced to 10p outside the local greengrocer so knocked up a quick banana and walnut bread. Joss was delighted to have ‘cakey’ for breakfast and we’re going to have ours later with custard for supper as it’s been one of those days. I had a shocking day today, I somehow fell off a chair at work – “I’m ok , I’m ok” (I wanted to die of embarrassment), Joss sustained her first fat lip and didn’t want me to go to work today, and I turned up at the local Uni library to sign up as a distance learner but forgot it is freshers week so made a wasted journey.

So this is the recipe for my restorative banana bread:

100g softened butter, plus a little smidge extra for greasing
140g caster sugar
1 egg
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 over ripe bananas mashed
60ml milk
85g chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 160C (fan) and grease a 2lb loaf tin with butter

Mix the butter, egg and sugar, then fold in your flour and baking powder

Add the bananas and walnuts

Mix well

Pour into the tin and bake for one hour or until skewer comes out clean. Enjoy! (or freeze half as we have, it will keep well for a good month)

Small Steps…Amazing Achievements – roleplay

I’m amazed by how early small people pick up on role play and get their own funny little games going!


Joss is showing herself to be a very sociable little girl, everything is a phone at the moment and she has some very sweet little chats into a lego brick, my calculator and an old hairbrush…”lo? ello? whoist? hee hee, ello?” She also has an empty giftbag that’s her little ‘handbag’ with an old bank card and keys, hours of fun!


She’s also started showing real love and empathy with her little toys, including carrying her spider puppet in a dolly sling and cuddling her bears. This week she had a little game going of pretending dolly was crying, and shushing her and stroking her head, it made my heart melt!

Small Steps...Amazing Achievements - roleplay


Some new words this week too, I like writing them down to look back on! This week or so we’ve had some rudeys, pump, bump and poo, some practical, keys, cu’umber, brush and card, and some fun, a sheep goes ‘maaaa’ and ‘donwantit’ which also serves to confuse mammy when she does want it, cue little tantrum! And my faves, joining in with the last word in songs, dingle dangle scarecrow with a flippy floppy….HAT! and twinkle twinkle little STAR!

Mammy B and the Scarf of Sheer Determination…AKA How to produce Crap Crafts

Mammy B and the Scarf of Sheer Determination...AKA How to produce Crap Crafts

Man, I know exactly where Joss gets that steely look and determined ‘NO’ from, it’s all me!

I decided to crochet her a scarf for winter forward thinking I pinned ideas to my hearts content, starting in August, you know, so it would stand a chance of being ready on time.

I now have three unfinished and very crappy scarves at my feet, the perfectionist in me said oh just try another pattern and you’ll get it right, the lazy get-it-finished quick me said keep going and it’ll all come together…it didn’t. I am not very good at crochet and I have spent quite a lot of money trying to realise my dream.

What I have achieved is something that fairly credibly passes itself as a scarf, in that it is soft and long, but beyond practicality it truly has no redeeming features! And it’s orange, not the mustard yellow I hoped for, but orange.

I’m currently making some flowers to ‘Jazz It Up’ and I think here my crochet journey will end.

I am however clearly good at making gorgeous babies, not 100% my husband will agree that I’m so good at it we should do it again, but look what we made!