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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Persil's new washing liquid - good value and greener too

Persil have launched a range of bigger packs. These offer better value and a greener solution to clothes washing.

Extra cleaning power pre-treaters are incorporated in the liquids saving busy and cash-strapped mums having to buy more than one product

The new Persil Small and Mighty liquid covers 85 washes at just 17 pence per wash.

As the liquid is concentrated, Persil Small and Mighty uses less packaging and less lorries for transporting purposes. Hence, it can truly claim to be doing its bit for the environment. With its strong cleaning power, you can also think green and turn down the temperature on your washing machine.

Persil tackles stains that are common to mums everywhere such as mud, grass and food.

I tested this product and found it was superb particularly at bringing up school uniform like new. I will be using Persil Small and Mighty from now on.

Kids IQ Books - a one-stop books website for educational and fun books

We love the Kids IQ Books website. It is great to find such a range of quality sets and individual titles in one place. This website helps you start the process of making reading a pleasure for your children and also backing up their educational development.

The people at Kids IQ Books offer helpful advice. Prices are affordable and there is free delivery on orders over £25. So it is a great website to visit for your Christmas shopping and sort out several family gifts in one go.

Kids IQ Books encourage parents to work with their children on their learning journey. Many of their educational books tie in with the UK Curriculum.

Our children reviewed two lovely sets of books.

The first was Enid Blyton’s “The New Adventures of the Wishing-Chair”.

This brought back fond memories for mum and it was great to see the books via the Wishing Chair transporting my little girl to other worlds. The stories and characters gripped her right from the start. We could see these magic al stories capturing and feeding her imagination. She felt she had discovered a new friend in Wishler the Pixie

The books were very attractive with colourful and sparkly covers and good illustrations inside. We liked the little touches of having a list of characters with their pictures in the front along with a label so she could make the book hers by writing her name in it.

The second set was “Flat Stanley” by Jeff Brown with pictures by Scott Nash.
My sons aged 5 and 10 both loved these books laughing out loud at the idea of how Stanley became Flat Stanley when a large notice board fell on him. Flat Stanley is only half an inch thick and this makes it possible for him to have all sorts of hilarious adventures. He goes into space and meets the Queen of England for example.

The books were attractive with colourful covers and great pictures inside. The comedy is great and enjoyed by parents and children alike.

Kids IQ Books make buying books simple, affordable and enjoyable. Check out today

Zoflora celebrates Christmas with limited edition Winter Spice disinfectant

In honour of Christmas 2010, Zoflora have launched a limited edition Winter Spice concentrated antibacterial disinfectant.

Winter Spice is a seasonal fragrance combining cinnamon and cloves with red fruit and vanilla.

Your guests will love the scent of your home as Winter Spice neutralises unpleasant odours. The sweet smells are long-lasting too.

You will have peace of mind as the disinfectant kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses including E-coli, MRSA. Salmonella, Listeria, Influenza and Type A Human Herpes.

Use Zoflora diluted 1 in 40 with water so a little goes a long way. Use to wipe over floors, tiles, work surfaces, sinks, toilets, baths, taps and other fixtures and fittings.

The limited edition is available until the end of 2010 from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Wilkinsons in a 120ml bottle at £1-30.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Mind and More - 100 % plant-based Omega 3 food supplement

Mind and More provides an alternative to Omega 3 fish-based supplements.

Mind and More is a food supplement providing DHA-rich oil from the microalgae Schizochytrium sp. It is 100% plant-based and helps to support the health and function of the brain, heart and eyes.

The product can be taken by vegetarians and vegans. It is approved by the Vegetarian Society.

Mind and More can be used by expectant mums. Children over 5 years may also benefit as Omega 3 is linked to improved concentration.

To summarise, the key benefits of Mind and More

1. All natural plant source which does not deplete oceanic resources
2. Helps maintain healthy development of brain, heart and eyes
3. No fishy aftertaste and no concerns about mercury levels
4. High strength Omega 3 capsules containing 200mg of DHA each

Mind and More cost just £9.99 for a month’s supply. Available from Holland and Barrett.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Plum Baby - a superfoods banquest for your little one

I would like to introduce you to Plum Baby which is an amazing range of organic superfoods for your baby.

There are a wide range of products for various age groups. They are attractively packaged and you just know the thinker behind Plum Baby is a mum herself. There are little clues in the way the food contain the best nutrient rich content and how meals come in plastic pots with lids on and in two packs so ideal for days out.

Which leads you to wonder what great brains ever put baby food in glass jars and expected it all to be eaten in one go. That is just not realistic when you are weaning your young baby or dealing with an active older baby.

Plum uses the superfood Quinoa in all its recipes backed up by a variety of simple, wholesome and delicious flavours. Plum does not use the baddies so you can give them to your baby guilt free knowing they don’t contain additives, preservatives, added salt or sugar or bulking agents. They are also fabulously reassuring as most do not contain eggs or dairy, gluten or GM ingredients. Parents are advised to check individual packages to check on the latter point.

Plum Baby is ready to eat or can be warmed by standing pots in hot water for a few minutes.

To give you an idea of flavours, our tester tried out;

Red cabbage with apple and chicken for savoury

French Bean with beef and apple

Blueberry, banana and vanilla for pudding

There are ranges of both pots and pouches for when you first start weaning with smooth blends and then a further range for babies over the age of 7 months. These encourage chewing but don’t have too many lumps to contend with.

When your child moves onto finger foods, Plum Baby is still there with its 12 months plus range featuring as an example spelt breadsticks.

Our testers were babies and found Plum a taste sensation complete with mucky faces, dribbles and so on. And our parent reviewers were reassured that they were feeding very good things indeed to their little ones.

Plum Baby – a guilt-free banquet for babies.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Milton's anti-bacterial handwash - great for hygiene on the move

Milton's antibacterial handwash comes in a handy-sized bottle ideal for putting in your handbag or for use when out and about travelling. There is no need to rinse the handwash off so it is great when you are on days out with the children.

It is clinically proven to kill fungi, bacteria and viruses within seconds.

What I liked was the lovely blue colour, how the product moisturised your hands and the lovely fresh scent. It made you feel reassured that you were getting your hands really clean.

Use before and after changing a baby

Use before and after eating

Use when using public facilities

Peace of mind for just £2.14

In other words, the perfect handwash when out and about whether at leisure or in the workplace.

For further information on Milton's range of cleaning and sterilising products, check out and

Also it is worth checking out for a product that claims to help with stretchmarks and skin tone. I am currently testing this product and will report back soon.

Nits! Make sure mum wins the battle with these helpful tips

Have you ever had nits? Have your children?

Let's not talk about it but let me blog about it and hopefully help you out a little.

The first time I got nits was in my twenties when I moved in with my partner and his children. It was such a shock as I had never had them before. The teenage girls were a challenge in their own right but the nits were far worse. I hated that feeling of something crawling around on my head and seeing them on my hands when I washed my hair. Yucksville is my word for moments like that.

I bought foul-smelling products and we eradicated the little blighters. However, that was in the late Nineties and since then, nits have become super-powerful villains. They are out to get you and are bigger and more horrible than ever before. They have heard the Nit Nurse is no more and they are having a party.

I have 3 children and a decade worth of experience of dealing with nits. I suppose for sanity's sake, it would be cool if you could learn to love them. Perhaps build them little houses and go to the pet shop for some food for them. Perhaps give them cute names ..

So here are my tips about nits plus a mention of a product that might help.

1. Anti-nit solutions do work but you need to keep it up or the children go back to school and get re-infested
2. Anti-nit solutions are pricey so do check out with other mums which they recommend. It is the same message for nit combs.
3. The most successful solution to preventing nits in my experience is keeping your children's hair very short. Easier with boys than girls.
4. Treat the family and close contacts not just one person.
5. It is difficult but there really is no shame in having nits so speak out and tell people. By doing so you help yourself feel better and them too.
6. You are not a bad parent if you child gets nits.
7. You are not a bad parent if your children does not get nits.
8. Head lice cannot survive off the scalp for long but it is technically possible to catch them from hats and bedding. To be sure, consider washing such items at 60 degrees.
9. It is a myth that head lice can swim, jump or fly.
10. Nits don't mind how clean or mucky a head is. They just like to live on scalps.

Now for some good news ....

Head to

Register your concern and receive a sample of Vosene Kids 3 in 1 Shampoo

Use it and help stop head lice because prevention is better than cure.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Counting 1 2 3 - a fun learning game from Chimp and Zee

Are you a mum who likes your children to have fun but also likes to see
them learning when playing?

Chimp and Zee's games encourage learning through play. We tested the Counting 1 2 3 activity set which consists of 20 glittery cards encouraging puzzle-matching fun.

I expected my 4 year old son to enjoy the game as he has just started school and is excited about counting. He did love matching the numbers to the pictures with the correct number of items on them. However, the game also appealed to my 6 year old daughter perhaps because she loves learning and pretty things. Even my teenager in training aged 9 got in on the act and it was lovely to see them all playing together.

The children enjoyed placing the cards on the floor in different ways and seeing how long the line was if they put all the cards next to one another. As a parent, it was fabulous to see how confident they are with their numeracy even my little one.

The game also stimulated family conversation as we discussed the pictures on the cards. For example, there is a card with 17 carrots so we discussed who liked to eat carrots, what colour they are, how they grow and so on.

The box includes an attractive poster to place the cards on and there is a height chart on the reverse. You can record your children's growth every 3 months or so and they can see how they are changing and fast.

One of the key benefits of this game is its flexibility in that you can play it in many different ways and it can be adapted to meet the needs of children of different ages. So you can play matching games with younger children and memory games as they get older.

My family loved Counting 1 2 3. Why not see if your family does too?

The game is affordable at £9.95 particularly as it entertains more than one person. For further details and other game ideas, visit

Friday, 19 November 2010

Stress Incontinence - one of the last taboos and one idea to sort it out

Stress incontinence is one of the last taboos. Even best friends often don't admit to each other that they have leaks of urine perhaps when they laugh, cough or sneeze.

Just like the celebrities such as Ulrika who do have the courage to speak out about this embarrassing issue, I have experienced stress incontinence in my time. Perhaps not surprising after 3 babies that got bigger each time and with a bumper one of nearly a stone entering my world 5 years ago. It may well be my fault as I did not do my post-birth suggested exercises and concentrated on eating the wonderful hospital food instead.

If you are a stay at home mum, stress incontinence is not pleasant but can be managed. In a work situation, it is a nightmare. I have sat in meetings and felt something down below and just felt so trapped, embarrassed and powerless.

What do you do? Back out of a room hoping that you do not look too odd. Hope to God that you have not marked your skirt or trousers. Worry about smells. None of it is any fun at all. It eats away at your self-esteem.

I have now spoken with a number of women who have some awful stories of how they have tried to manage the issue. Not many have sought a GP's advice. I did do so eventually and was quite amazed that the pills I was prescribed also had a positive impact on my depression, lightening my mood.

I was recently contacted about the Pelvic Toner. This product helps you to identify and isolate the correct muscles and exercise correctly and effectively against a resistance that you can adjust to your own ability. This is especially important as muscle strength improves.

I have not tested the product yet but did not want to hang about in promoting it as a way to tackle such a distressing issue for women. Details of clinical trials and more information can be found at

The Pelvic Toner costs just £29.99 which is so cheap when you think just how much worry and embarrassment stress incontinence causes.

Check out the website for details of health and also potential sexual benefits.

Let's start talking about the issue so that others feel less isolated with the issue and take action to sort it out.

Inch Blue - the most lovely leather baby shoes

Inch Blue have the most lovely and soft leather baby shoes. They really do love your baby's feet and help you to do the same.

The shoes are handmade at Inch Blue's workshop in Wales. There are 100s of styles available with around 25 new styles added each season. New for Winter are the Polar Bear shoes, the Snowman shoes and the Baboushka shoes. They retail at just £17 for ages 0-2 years and £18 for ages 3-4 years.

Inch Blue also have a range of sheepskin booties for babies. These are named Cwtches after the Welsh world for love. They are made using locally sourced sheepskin and are fastened using Velcro so are very safe for your little ones. They retail at £25.

We are giving away one lucky reader a pair of Rudolf shoes for a baby aged 6-12 months. To see a picture of these gorgeous soft leather shoes, take a look at

To be in with a chance of winning, please

1. Follow this blog at Giggling at it all
2. Subscribe to Mum's Arcade at

3. Vist Inch Blue's website at

4. Leave a comment below saying you have done these things

For an extra entry, please tweet details of this competition and tweet me to let me know you have done so. I tweet as @netcurtains

Good Luck!

The deadline for entries is 30th November at 23.59 hours

Hasbro's Boggle Flash - the 21st century version of the well-known word game

Are you a parent who would like to ensure that when your children are playing they are also learning? If so, I would like to recommend Boggle Flash.

A 21st century take on Boggle, Boggle Flash appeals to children who enjoy electronics and who like to play with letters and words.

I tested Boggle Flash on my three children. It was a little advanced for my 4 year old who has only just started school. Fair enough, as the makers say it is ideal for ages 8 plus. However, both my 9 year old and 6 year old loved making words from their letter selections. As a mum, I like to see them have fun but I was also delighted to see them improving their literacy at the same time.

It is a good challenge for adults too. The object of the game is to make as many three, four or five letter words from the five interactive tiles within the 60 second time limit. Smartlink Technology allows the five tiles to talk to each other – they will light up and beep when three or more letters are lined up to make a word. The game also keeps time and records scores.

Boggle Flash has three game modes

1. Find as many letters from the five tiles as possible within 60 seconds
2. Find five letter words using all the tiles with no time limit
3. Pass Flash – play with a friend or group and if you can’t find a word you are out.

Boggle Flash has a RRP of £24.99. Not expensive, likely to entertain for years and also a good educational tool.

Baby Shoes Giveaway - inch blue's Christmas Leather shoes with reindeer design

The wonderful people at inch blue have kindly let us have the most gorgeous pair of baby shoes to give away to one lucky blog reader.

In red and brown 100% soft leather with a wonderful reindeer picture, these shoes are ideal for allowing your little one's feet to grow naturally. The shoes have supple, non-slip suede shoes. They have elasticated ankles to keep the shoes on. They are recommended for indoor use and are easily cleaned with a damp cloth or with an approved leather cleaner.

The shoes are size medium for a 6-12 month old baby.

For a chance to win, please do all of the following

1. Follow this Giggling at it All blog
2. Subscribe to
3. Follow the link to

4. Leave a comment telling me you have done all the above and saying what you like best about Inch Blue shoes

For an extra chance to win, please tweet details of this giveaway and let me know by tweeting me @netcurtains.

Good Luck!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Shloer - a refreshing alternative to wine for the party season

Shloer are light, refreshing and non-alcoholic drinks suitable for all the family.

I tested them on the whole family who like myself felt they were yummy and a real treat.

Their sparkling nature appeals as do the lovely colours. We tried the White Grape and Rose varieties.

As someone who has recently just about cut out alcohol, these provide an option for that evening drink that does not make you feel that you are missing out. I can see them being very useful during the Christmas party season for those who are driving home or just for a bit of a change. A real alternative to taking a bottle of wine.

Ideal for pregnant women and new mums who are breastfeeding, these drinks are likely to stay on their shopping list for a long time.

Shloer is free from preservatives, artificial colours, sweeteners and flavourings. Keep them in your fridge once opened and consume within 3 days.

Shloer's RRP is just £1.97 and it is available from most supermarkets and Marstons Inns and Taverns.

Check out and their Facebook page at


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Royal Engagement - here we go again

So yesterday, after years of speculation, the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced.

Am I the only one who feels like I have lived all this before when the Great British Public were sold a fairytale that did not exist?

Cast your minds back to 1981 and the way we were meant to believe that a playboy Prince Charles was going to commit to a virgin bride. I was taken in by it but I was only a young child at the time so had an excuse for the naivety.

Don't get me wrong. On a human level, I wish William and Kate true happiness together. It is just the silly media rigmarole that is already irritating me.

Can we get real? This couple have cohabited for years. Both of them have partied wildly, had sex with each other and so please don't try and set up Kate as the perfect blushing bride. Nor was I but nobody thought so or wrote about me in those terms.

I feel really sorry for Kate. Bad enough that she is a commoner so not well versed in all the protocol she will now have to maintain even on the days when she is stressed or her heart is breaking. But there is the Diana Factor - already the newspapers are full of comparisons. Let Kate be her own woman for goodness sake.

She has Diana's ring and here's hoping it does not bring bad omens to this union. The dress is being discussed and let's hope it is not the creased disaster that Diana's was. When she got out of that carriage, it was like the Emperor who walked through the street naked but everyone had to pretend it was OK really.

The papers are saying Kate and William are related. Let's hope not too closely or they might end up with a child that is less than perfect and history and recent times prove the Royals hide their less than perfect children away from the public. They should have a better attitude to disability and illness in the 21st century.

As soon as the poor cow is married, the media will be on her back about when the first baby is due. And then if it is quick, there will be fervent discussions about whether the conception predated the wedding.

The idea that they can escape to the good life in Anglesey is rubbish. Even if the paparazzi behave (which they won't), in these days of mobile phones and the internet, this poor girl will be hunted down by members of the public too.

She said it is "daunting". That will probably go down as the biggest understatement of the 21st century.

I wish them both well but can't help but pity her too.

Little Me Organics - a range of bathtime treats for baby and mum too!

I had the absolute pleasure of testing the Little Me Organics range of products.

There are bubble baths, hair and body washes and body creams. All of the products contain essential oils so you get the benefits of aromatherapy without any synthetic nonsense. Indeed, Little Me works with the well-known aromatherapist Glenda Taylor.

The products are packaged in clean-looking, colourful and attractive containers. They appealed to me along with the names of the products which suggest there are fun people behind the Little Me brand.

Yippee Playtime contains rose, neroli and organic mandarin

Mmm Moisture Babies contains chamomile and organic lavender

Shh Sleepy Head contains dill and organic lavender.

I tested the Yippee Playtime bath bubbles first. As I poured some into the bath, there was a lovely scent of fresh roses. I could almost see rose petals so evocative was the fragrance. I could also detect neroli which I know is a feel-good oil. What I liked was that the sweet smells continued throughout bathtime. All too often, I am disappointed that bubble baths give either bubbles or scents. Little Me gives both.

Next, I tried the Mmm Moisture Babies hair and body wash. I was surprised at the look of the product when I pumped it out of the bottle. It looked like the inside of those snowball cakes. I was also surprised that it did not lather up a lot. I need not have worried as after hair-washing, the children's locks were soft and silken. So much so that I decided to wash my hair with it too.

Little Me Organics bathtime range is suitable for all age groups. They have a special range for mums-to-be. Also do check out the lovely £15 Shh Sleepy Head gift box packed with bathtime treats and with a bath toy and face-cloth included. A perfect gift for a new mum and her little one.

For further information on which supermarkets stock the product or how to buy it online, visit

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Happy Birthday darling - you are into double figures!

Today is my son's tenth birthday.

Ten years ago, I was in the birthing pool wondering just how long this was going to take. My first son had gone into a weird position so I had spent three days in what I thought was pain until the real stuff began! The birthing pool was wonderful, so warming and comforting. Definitely the right birth plan for me.

My son put in his appearance at 2 minutes past eleven in the morning on a glorious Autumn day. I did not even realise whether it was morning, noon or night. When the pain stopped and there were excited cries of "It's a boy!", I looked out of the window and saw reds, golds and oranges in the trees and felt at peace in a way never experienced before.

And there he was on my breast, my first blood relative. So special. My first babe, my husband's first son, my parents' first grandchild.

When my parents came to see him, Mum said that it was amazing how alert he was and that he would probably be very intelligent. It was so lovely to see Mum and Dad who had wanted grandchildren for years cuddling my little man.

Mum said she could die happy that day having seen him. The reality was she got 8 and a bit years with him but I know they were magical for her and that he will never forget his beloved Grandma.

As for Dad, he loved and loves him too and used to take him out so much that one of my son's first words was "Rover" for the car.

What can I say about my son? He is amazing. Bright, sensitive and kind-hearted. When he was little everyone adored him. Now he is older, he has had to take the bother that comes with people who don't understand that people are allowed to be different. My son likes to learn and has a passion for mathematics, science, geography and history. So bollocks to the bullies who can't leave him be.

Although a teenager in training with an attitude to match on occasion, there is nothing he likes better than a day out on his own with me talking about his stuff whether that be Pokemon or World War 2. Sharing special meals and walks, loving each other.

The world became a better place the day my son was born. Happy Birthday darling! May all your dreams come true.

Monday, 15 November 2010

GTech Power Sweeper - highly recommended for floor cleaning

We are often asked to review products and they tend to be lovely so that we can give a positive review. However, sometimes there are occasions when we want to rave about something we test. This is the case with the Gtech Power Sweeper.

The sweeper really is a smart solution to power clean your home quickly.

I have had years of disappointment with vacuum cleaners from the budget brands to the very expensive. I can’t bear the thought that just because I have children, pets and a life that I cannot also have clean floors.

The Power Sweeper arrived and was very easy to put together with a leaflet packed with clear instructions. The Power Sweeper does not have any bags or fiddly attachments. Rubbish is collected in a box that is easy to pull out and empty.

I remained a bit cynical that the Power Sweeper would be effective remembering the old bulky carpet sweepers of yesteryear. I need not have worried.

As soon as I tested the Power Sweeper, I was over the moon. It dealt with everything from stubborn dog hairs to food spills in the kitchen. Apparently, it will even pick up things like glass without being damaged.

One real plus point with the Power Sweeper is that it weighs just 1.6kg. If, like me, you cannot work out weights, suffice to say that it is very light and easy to handle. It is also designed to be very flexible so you are not always having to pull furniture out but can work round it getting into all the nooks and crannies.

My Dad lives next door to us and at 83 years of age hates lifting and carrying his large vacuum cleaner. He is delighted that now he can borrow my Power Sweeper. He even likes the very modern look of the thing.

The Power Sweeper can be used for normal or deep cleaning jobs. You can use it on the stairs removing the front visor to allow the full stairs to be tackled. You can also remove the tall handle and have the sweeper in hand-held operation.

I highly recommend the GTech Power Sweeper and it is more than affordable too.

Karvol Plug-in - a child friendly way to relieve the sniffles

Karvol Plug-In

There is little worse than the feeling of being unable to ease your baby’s discomfort. When they are tiny, there is so little you can give them when they get a cold. They suffer most at nights leading to disturbed nights for both of you.

Karvol is a trusted brand which combines an aromatic combination of oils – menthol, cinnamon and pine. When released, the oils unblock the nasal passages, ease discomfort and aid sleep.

We looked at the Karvol Vaporiser which helps ease breathing. It comes in a really user-friendly plug-in format so it can be used in any room in the house. This means you can have it in the bedroom at night and downstairs during the day.

I found the look of the Vaporiser a little confusing at first. This was my own fault as I had not read the packet before starting to try and get it to work. It comes with a childproofing key system so that your little ones cannot access the refills within the plug-in unit. The Vaporiser can be used for babies from the age of 3 months and would also be useful for children and adults alike.

My view on the Vaporiser is that it is an excellent addition to an already tried and tested range. I am very impressed with the childproofing system. The pack comes with three refills so lasts for 9 days.

The Karvol range also includes decongestant drops, capsules and a vapour rub.

For further information, please visit

Fitvits - a really clever way to persuade your kids to take vitamins

FitVits is a unique vitamin product designed and developed for children.

My family tried Gummy Bears which come in four delicious fruit flavours – Strawberry, Apple, Blackcurrant and Orange. They are suitable for children aged 3 to 12 years.

They provide vitamins A, C, D. E and B12 to provide nutritional support for healthy growth and development.

The clever thing about Gummy Bears is that they come in a sweetie like packet and look like bears. Hence, they really appeal to your children.

My concern when I heard about FitVits was that the children would love them so much that they would not accept only having one small packet. I need not have worried. I have a 9 and 6 year old who understood that they could only have the one packet a day and they explained this to their 4 year old brother who went along with their guidance.

My 6 year old daughter commented, “These are shaped like sweeties so you are sure going to like them!” My 4 year old said, “These are so delicious”.

They then had a big debate about the different shapes FitVits could have in an ideal world with flying saucers being their favourite.

You can buy Gummy Bears in a one week trial pack or buy a month’s supply for just £6.99. Not a huge cost to ensure your children are getting the vitamins they need.

The range is currently available nationwide in retail outlets including Morrison’s, Asda, Superdrug, Holland and Barrett and all leading chemists.

The Camouflage Company's Household Caddy

Have you ever gone from one room to another with the intention of cleaning and realised that you do not have all the things you need with you?

The Camouflage Company have come up with a solution to this age-old problem and sent me their Household Caddy to test. It is so much better than horrible rigid containers.

The first thing I noticed was how pretty it was with a floral pattern called French Silk taken from a painting in the National Gallery of Madame Moitessier by Jean August Dominique Ingres.

Housework is always a chore and this product at least makes it pretty and practical too.

It is a cube-shaped, wipe-clean box with plenty of space for all your cleaning bottles, sprays, dusters and cloths. It has good strong handles and is sturdy so will last for years. When not in use, it can be squeezed into tight corners and also folds down flat.

My daughter felt it had other potential uses too including a large make-up bag. I think it is one of those things that once you have it, you will find lots of uses for.

Check out for a range of products to help you when out shopping, when in the laundry, when cooking and when gardening. Attractive products making the tasks of every day life that much more pleasant.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Have things really changed since the Seventies?

I was reflecting the other day that my life on a daily basis is not that much different to my late mother's. I have the university education, have read lots on the rights of women and yet, really how much has changed for the majority of mums out there?

Mum stayed at home with her children until they went to school.
I have stayed at home, held part and full-time employed posts and tried to run a business. Some would call that freedom and some would call it having to juggle way too much.

Perhaps unusually, my Dad used to do the school run. In fact, my mum used to lie in bed till after I had left for school drinking the cup of coffee lovingly delivered by my Dad. Dad said it was an arrangement he asked for because she would criticize every move he made otherwise. She was never a morning person.

Him Indoors and I have shared the school runs over the years. However, what is clear is that it is my job to ensure uniform is bought, laundered, dried and placed in neat piles every night for the next morning. It also appears to be my role to check bookbags and fill in forms. However, he does bring me that morning coffee most days.

Mum and Dad both helped me with my homework.
We too share helping with homework playing to our individual strengths.

Mum's treat of the week was when Dad would bring her Woman and Woman's Own magazines.
Him Indoors would probably buy me the wrong magazine and my tastes would be for the glossier magazines. Scarily, Prima and Essentials seem to appeal these days to this Cosmo girl.

Dad never bought Mum flowers until she became very ill in the last three yars. He never bought her a Valentine's card either.

Him Indoors buys me flowers from time to time because he knows better than not to do so. He has always done well on Valentine's Day buying me a card every year and lovely pressies too.

If Mum and Dad were cashy, they would treat themselves to a takeaway.
When we cannot be bothered to cook, we might indulge in a takeaway and I often find myself ordering Mum's favourite of prawn curry.

Mum had a system for housework and cleaned up downstairs every day.
I try to do the same but sometimes I get this little devilish voice inside that screams radical thoughts like, "Why should I? What's the point anyway?" On days like that I get more writing done. As for systems, those who know me will tell you loud and clear that I am not a systems person.

Mum expected me to help with the housework from a young age.
I would like my children to help with chores but they look at me as if it is a form of child abuse if I ask them to tidy their things away.

Mum hoovered, dusted, washed clothes, pegged out and kept all rooms including the kithcen and bathroom spick and span.
I hoover, sweep, wash clothes, peg out and try desperately to keep all rooms decent. I try really hard but dust and other people's mess often overwhelms me.

Dad would only wash, peg out, dust or hoover if mum was poorly.
Him Indoors loves washing and pegging out, hoovers occasionally but has yet to be introduced to a duster.

Mum cleaned the toilet
I clean the toilet
Women throughout the ages seem destined to clean the toilet.

Mum would get all her jobs done by lunchtime so she could sit down and watch Emmerdale Farm and Dorothy Sleighthome's Farmhouse Kitchen on the telly.
I only get to half past ten in the morning before I am tempted by Mr Schofield and his gang.

Mum had a circle of friends from her neighbourhood and from church. She lived in the same area from birth to the age of 73.
I have moved around the country so I do not have a ready group of friends and have to seek them out proactively. Sometimes this works and sometimes it is an unmitigated disaster leading to me thinking I do not fit in and loneliness.

Mum never wanted to deal with banking and had a credit card that she never used. She only had it because Dad insisted she have one.
I deal with banking because that way we manage to save some money.

Dad did all the DIY jobs in the house.
Him Indoors does all the DIY disasters in the house so I have learned to get a man in.

Mum did all the cooking unless she was ill or away somewhere. Dad and I used to love catering for ourselves on those nights indulging in things she never cooked like pasta dishes.

Mum used to go out with her friends to play bingo.
I stopped playing bingo when I was about twelve and would not put Him Indoors through the trauma of starting again. It is one of the things he disliked about his first wife.

Mum was a frustrated woman I think who had never managed to reach her full potential. So sometimes she would rant. Oh yes, not that much has changed!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Do you think I am sexy?

I wonder if there is anybody out there who would always answer yes if someone asked them if they felt they were sexy?

When I was a teenager, I always felt I was the one that the lads were not interested in. For some obscure reason at a size 8 or 10 on my worst days, I defined myself as fat. Oh to be so obese these days! Why did boys not like me way back then? Too much of the swot perhaps, too unattractive, not enough make-up, who knows?

Off I went to college with high hopes that as female students were in the minority, I must stand a chance of a fella there. There was the odd dalliance and one guy really seemed to want to be with me but he was a bit odd which perhaps says it all about me lol! I had my crushes but used to balk if those boys showed any interest - too scared of being laughed at or hurt.

That pattern of backing off from people I really liked continued for a long time. I don't think it is any coincidence that it was older men I ended up with. They probably had the experience to see through all my bluster and see the quaking soul beneath. Mind you, my husband's first impression of me was that I was a "hard-faced, feminist cow" so perhaps that was a bit off-putting. With him, his interest was sparked the first time he saw me drunk followed by a keen interest when I descended some stairs in a short black skirt to answer the dooor to him. It is said that just like my mum I have a cracking pair of legs.

At my age and with three children, the body tells its own story. I am overweight and have stretchmarks in a wide array of shades. Him Indoors appears to still find me sexy or perhaps is just over-sexed. Either way, I am not complaining.

I found an old menu from a college function the other day. Some of the comments surprised me.

"To Kate, the sexiest"
"I want to sit next to you all the time"
"Kiss me, Kate"
"One minute I am skewered by Cupid's arrow and the next I am signing your menu"

Those are just a selection.

It made me wonder. What if I was sexy all those years ago and didn't bloody know it? Maybe I had it wrong all the time and was actually a siren to some. It doesn't hurt to think so, does it?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

B.Sensible - a fitted sheet and mattress protector all in one affordable product

We would like to highly recommend the B.Sensible bedding range for babies and children.

We all like to get twice for the price and B.Sensible neatly combines a fitted sheet with a mattress protector all in one soft, waterproof and breathable product.

As a mum to three young children, I know how mattresses and fancy bedding can be damaged by baby sick and bed-wetting. OK, so we don't like to talk about these things but they do happen. They are not pleasant and anything that reduces the stress of dealing with these issues has to be a good thing.

I tested the single bed size of B.Sensible as I have a daughter who still bed-wets from time to time. How wonderful when she had one of her incidents to be able to take off the sheet the next morning knowing that it could be safely washed at 90 degrees. You can also safely pop the sheet in the tumble drier.

When the product arrived, I expected it to be some nasty and harsh feeling material. I was pleasantly surprised by the softness of the sheet. It is made from Tencel a 100% hygienic nanofibre that comes from eucalyptus trees. Combined with a smart strechable membrance that is practically undetectable, it acts as a hypo-allergenic barrier against moisture, bacteria and dust mites. You really can't tell the difference from any other sheet apart from the fact that, if anything, it is softer and more pleasant to the touch.

One night, when my daughter had a bad dream, she came into my bed and my husband went into hers. He has severe psoriasis and reported how the sheet did not irritate his skin.

With B.Sensible available in all cot and bed sizes, there are obvious benefits to anyone with skin conditions or incontinence issues.

The sheet came in its own canvas bag and is available in a range of colours to match your bedroom or nursery's colour scheme. So you can have peace of mind without compromising on style.

Although not the main benefit of this product, I was impressed with the generous size of the sheet which was easy to put on a quite a large single mattress.

When you consider how much sheets and matteress protectors cost, the B.Sensible range can save you money and the trouble of washing two items rather than just the one.

Visit for further information or contact details for local stockists or buy online from

P.S. Please mention that you heard about this product from the Giggling at it all blog or from Mum's Arcade at

You tell me my house is lived in

You tell me my house is "lived in" and I think you are absolutely right.

My house is lived in because my children's artwork is on the kitchen table.

The breaksfast things are waiting to be washed because I am writing, doing the thing I love.

There are books in most rooms and not all on shelves from fiction to reference books showing that the people who reside here have wide-ranging interests.

There are ornaments, daft things bought for Halloween and Christmas. Also salt dough pumpkins and ivy leaves made by the prolific artist that is my little girl.

There are lots of pictures too, things that I have bought and things handed down from my late mum. Her taste perhaps but a generator of fond memories. There are children's paintings everywhere.

There are several laundry baskets because washing in this house never ends. Partly ths is due to my fashionista daughter who changes several times a day just for fun. Partly because we live on a smallholding so things get muddy.

The mantlepiece is straining under the weight of my son's birthday cards and also the adoption card my Dad sent me last week. There are also personal items there from a photo of my late mum to an owl she bought for my son so that he would remember her as a wise old bird.

There are recipe books and lots of them because I like to try different foods and my husband also enjoys cooking. There are bun cases and tins lined up with blueberries in a punnet for today's recipe.

There are leads for our three dogs and the top of the freezer acts as a landing pad for all manner of things.

There are raffle tickets, a bag for filling for the charity shop and a shoebox to be filled for Christmas. Showing we care and are part of the community.

That is just downstairs.

Yes, my house is lived in and reflects a loving family having lots of interests but more importantly, lots of fun.

In the end, the only real point of life is to make memories and a "lived in" house generates loads.

Here's to members of the "lived in" houses club.

I would much prefer to know you than someone with a house straight out of a Next photo-shoot.

So who wants to join my "lived in" club?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

That would be my job then!

The alarm clock goes off. I don't like it but I get up at its demand. Him Indoors who bought the thing stays firmly glued to the duvet.

The children need waking up. They then need directing to their neat piles of clothing that some sort of Brownie must have come in and done overnight.

Breakfasts need to be served allowing for their individual tastes.

Multivitamins are given.

Bookbags are checked to ensure they have everything they need for the day ahead.

Him Indoors arrives downstairs and makes a lot of noise and a lot of apparent activity ensues but he seems to have done nothing towards getting the children ready for school.

Two minutes before it is time to set off to the bus stop, the teenager in training announces that he needs his PE Kit. Where is it? He doesn't know. Apparently it is my job to know just like it was my job to tell him that he was in his 5 year old brother's trousers earlier.

Him Indoors having heard there is a new female bus driver volunteers to walk the children to the bus stop.

I go upstairs and find unmade beds. That would be my job then.

I go to the loo and survey the carnage of toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels on the floor and so on. That would be my job then and ladies, we know that cleaning the loo is ALWAYS my job.

I wash up and put things away.

After lunch, Him Indoors enters the kitchen and says "Look at the state of this floor". There appears to be no obvious connection between this statement and picking up a mop.

That would be my job then!

I guess at least in this mad, mad world I will never be redundant.

Memories of Remembrance Day

When I was a little girl, I first became aware of Remembrance Sunday during eleven o'clock Mass.

The menfolk would leave mass early on hearing the Remembrance Day parade pass the church. I used to sit with my storybook on the church pew (I always had to be bribed to go to church)and feel very left out. I could not understand why I could join my Dad and go wherever they were all heading.

I think I was around 11 years of age when my parents said I could go with my Dad on the Remembrance Day Parade. Better still, my Mum allowed me to wear my maternal grandfather's medals from the First World War. I wore them with such pride that day. I felt like I had arrived.

We walked to Crow Nest Park where the cenotaph was located. I imagine some prayers were said but all I remember very well is standing next to my Dad with my chest puffed out so proud of my late grandfather. I knew he had served in the Connaught Rangers and had his leg injured at Gallipoli. I felt so grown up that day.

In later years, there was the sad sight as the Cenotaph got vandalised. Life got harsher with things long held dear being disrespected. It was incredibly hurtful to the older members of the community and even as a teenager, I could sense long-held traditions shifting.

Although the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are terrible, they do seem to have generated a new interest in respecting our service and ex-service community. It is important too to acknowledge the sacrifices of wives, children and the wider family units too. The service people choose their careers, the families live with the consequences.

For those who don't know, people who leave the services often struggle to integrate into society. Some end up in debt, some on the streets and some in prison. Many struggle to find work especially in these recession-hit times.

Where does your Poppy money go? It might put a service family back on their feet reducing stress levels and saving relationships. It might put a roof over an ex-service person's head. It might buy essential equipment for ill and disabled ex-service people perhaps asking for help in their eighties for the first time in their lives.

Wear your poppy to remember those who gave their lives in an attempt to make the world a better place.

Be generous when you buy your poppy (and make sure you do) knowing that without your help, welfare support from the Royal British Legion is under threat. With an ageing population and new casualties of recent wars, your help is needed more than ever.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Competition Time - your chance to win a Phoneshield


Are you concerned about the potential health risks from electro magnetic radiation to your family of regular use of mobile phones and Wi-fi devices? Perhaps you should consider this as scientific and medical research points to a number of side-effects through such usage.

It is thought that children are particularly at risk of side-effects due to their immune systems not yet being fully developped and also that they will be exposed to the threats over a lifetime.

The Phoneshield device can give you that all-important peace of mind. They are small and easily attached to your mobile, IPOD or blackberry device.

Giggling at it All has a Phoneshield to give away to one lucky reader.

To enter, please carry out the following actions

1. Follow this blog

2. Follow the new blog at

3. Leave a comment on this post with 3 words you associate with shopping

All entrants names will be placed in a hat and the the winner will be drawn at random on 19th November 2010. All entries must be in my 23.59 on 18th November 2010.

Please take note that only those who carry out all 3 actions above will be entered into the competition

If there are any problems accessing the new blog, just give me a shout and I will sort it out and your entry will stand

With thanks to the lovely people at

National Adoption Week - a tribute to my adoptive Mum

I don't call her my adoptive Mum. I call her my Mum. She is my real Mum and that did not change when she died last September.

My mum was amazing although I don't think she ever knew it. She took me on when her sons were grown up and she could have had a well-earned rest. She used to say she cherished me and that is a really good word for how I was treated by her and my Dad.

She had to take it when people said daft things about her adopting me, both relatives and so-called friends. She had to stand at the school-gates with the children of her friends, now grown up and parents themselves.

What sort of Mum was she?

Certainly loving, warm and funny. A story-teller, a historian, a forever learner. A big woman in every way, perhaps particularly in the heart department.

She nurtured both emotionally and with her wonderful cookery and baking.

I had everything I wanted and only worked out in adulthood that probably cost my parents dear financially.

Sometimes I frustrated her because I was not a girly-girl and she would have loved to have persuaded me of the benefits of make-up, bras, handbags and shoes.

I chose the wrong fellas in her book too but then she admitted nobody would have being good enough for me.

She was so proud when I got into Cambridge University. It was outside her experience and it scared her a bit. All credit to her for letting me go and for putting in the building blocks that made that possible in the first place.

She did not understand why I turned my back on a legal career and went off to work in charities. Yet by doing so I was proving myself very much her daughter.

Mum was not a perfect Mum. She made mistakes. She was a hard taskmaster but that drove me to some pretty impressive achievements and some amazing experiences. If anything, she may have been guilty of loving me too much so that she found it very hard to let me grow up and make all my incredibly silly mistakes.

Mum and I would clash painfully at times. Two strong personalites both thinking we knew best. It sounds a strange thing to say but I am glad we knew she was dying because it gave us time to revisit the past together and to unpick it.

I always wanted to impress my Mum. I think I actually did and absolutely hit the jackpot on that one in the way I brought up my children. She told me they were the happiest children she has ever come across. They are her legacy.

When she was dying, she made Dad write important dates in his diary so he would remember them when she was not there to remind him. Today, I am looking at a card on my mantlepiece from my lovely Dad wishing me a Happy Adoption Day. My mum knew what she was doing and is still pulling strings from beyond the grave.

So Happy Adoption Day Dad and I guess Mum you will be indulging in some Bell'S Whisky up in heaven.

To all adoptive parents out there, you make a huge difference.

And for anyone considering adoption, please enquire rather than ruling yourself out without sending that email or making that telephone call.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

National Adoption Week - a birth mum's tale

I know she doesn't understand. She will blame me I am sure. I can't see her. I can't face the upset it will cause to my family. What will she expect of me anyway? I can't be her mum now. It is too late for that. What good would it do?

I had her in the Sixties. It is true that they were swinging and I had a great time in the dance halls of London. Away from Ireland, away from my parents, being young and free.

I thought I was in love. An Irish lad of course. A plumber by trade and a great dancer to boot. We talked of marriage. I was probably young and daft. I fell for his charm and was easily led. I don't like to talk about it but he hit me. In the end, I decided he was not a good bet.

The problem was by then I was pregnant with his child. I had to hide it from Mammy and Daddy. This was difficult as I usually went home at Christmas every year. As I was due in mid-December, I had to say I was working over Christmas. I don't know whether they believed me. They never knew about their grandchild.

He came to see his new daughter and said she was beautiful. A big baby with curls and soft skin. We argued though and he went away. I don't know where he ended up.
My daughter went to a Yorkshire family. I told them to make sure she had a big garden to play in and to keep her in the Catholic faith.

I had to take my baby up to Yorkshire and hand her over to the nuns. I left her with a blanket and a doll I had bought her. I wonder if she still has it. (SHE DOES BY THE WAY)

Launch of new blog - Kate on Thin Ice

I would love you to join me on my new blog which is called Kate on Thin Ice.

You can expect more of the same but better especially in terms of look and being able to find your way to the things that interest you. Work in progress though so be patient and let me have your feedback

I will need followers or I will run away and hide under my duvet!

National Adoption Week - view from a 13 year old

I don't cry very often.

For various reasons, I have learned not to show my feelings and to bottle things up. I like to appear hard. Don't let them in and they can't hurt you. I am not going to trust people with my feelings and be abused again.

They took my little brother and sister away. I know they had to go and they are better off in their adopted family. But I love them and I don't get why I can't see them when I would never harm them in any way. I need them and I bet they need me too.

I cried today when my social worker brought me some news about them. Could not stop, curled up in a foetal position, sobbing.

I miss them so much

National Adoption Week - a message from my adoptive Dad

This came in the post just now and in view of recent blog posts felt I had to share it.

This is just to tell you
That you really have done brill
Your wonderful achievement should give you a total thrill

If anyone doubted you
You've put them in your place
And you've earned the beaming smile
That's spread across your face

So just go out and celebrate
And have a drink of two
It's the least that you deserve
So off you go and have a few

In fact, you've done so well
You shouldn't even go to bed
So don't just have a couple
Get completely off your head!

Happy Memories of Bonfire Night 1968 and all the years since

Love Dad xxxxx

Do you think I am crying? You would be right!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

National Adoption Week - some questions

What would you feel like to find out late in life that you were adopted?

What would you feel if you traced your birth mum and she was a rape victim?

What would you feel like if your adoptive parents resented you tracing your birth parents?

What would you feel like if your adoptive parents divorced?

What would you feel like if you could not trace your birth family?

What would you feel like if you found out your birth parents were dead?

What would you feel like if your birth parents were disabled?

What would you feel like if your birth family rejected you?

What would you feel like if your adoptive parents died when you were still a child?

What would you feel like if you were told you could not adopt?

What would you feel like if your adopted child rejected you?

What would you feel like if you became seriously ill after adoption?

I have listed these questions to highlight that life is an unpredictable thing and that shows up in adoption stories just like anywhere else.

What would you feel like?

What do you feel like?

National Adoption Week - view from an "official" sibling

It is National Adoption Week and I am blogging all week on this important topic. I am trying to look at it from different perspectives so hope you find the time to look at the other adoption posts and the interesting comments coming in too.

Here is the story of someone who in later life found out her mother had put a child up for adoption years before.

"I never really had a close mother and daughter relationship with Mum. I felt that I was never good enough for her. It was like I never quite lived up to her expectations

I also always sensed she was hiding something from me. She was sad in some way and sometimes bitter to be honest. Maybe she was grieving the loss of her first child.

Finding out that my Mum had put a child up for adoption was strange of course. I was also very curious. I did not know if a relationship with that child could work but wanted to give it a go. Now I want to know that child's own children and to meet up at some point.

Times are different now and I did not judge Mum for what had happened in a different era when illegitimacy was such a stigma. However, I do wish she could talk with me openly about it and realise that I am not against her. I would understand but I can't do that if she won't communicate with me properly.

It's a difficult situation."

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Happy Birthday to my 5 year old son

Today is my 5 year old son's birthday.

What can I say about him to mark this momentous occasion?

My first two children were a boy and girl. People said that I had one of each so could stop the creation game. I was almost convinced myself and dutifully went along to the GP to discuss contraception options for the older woman. He was not happy for me to continue on the pill so aged was I and suggested one of those coat-hanger looking things. The coil - that's the one! I left saying I would think about it. Was vaguely suspicious of something called "Marina" or somthing. Last time I had come across one of those it was in Fuengirola.

One day coming home on the train, I had a cough and suddenly realised I was going to throw up. It was a commuter train with every square inch packed out. Suddenly a bloke saw just how green I looked and it was like Moses parting the waves. I made it to the loo in the nick of time.

That was when I realised I was pregnant again. I went to the same GP who thought it hilarious that the last time he had seen me it was about contraception. Various midwife visits followed with them getting increasingly alarmed as like that pumpkin thing, the baby grew and grew.

I had no idea how huge I was until about 2 weeks before the due date, I caught my reflection in a full-length mirror in a restaurant. Daunting to think that whoever was in there was going to have to come out.

My waters broke just as Coronation Street was starting on 1st November. I had not had this experience before but knew enough to know something was wrong. My Other Half summoned a taxi to take me to the hospital. I had no pains. Something was wrong.

I spent the whole night pretending to feel contractions just for something to do to pass the time. Various chemicals were pumped into me, various maternity pads inspected and disposed of. Somewhere in the middle of this David Blunkett resigned as Home Secretary. At least city hospitals have a telly to watch.

At 7.40am, the midwife said she had bad news. I did not see it like that and was glad that something was going to happen to remove the pumpkin.

My son arrived exactly twenty minutes later. Shortly before that (blame the drugs!), I was lusting after the Mel Gibson lookalike who gave me the epidural. Also reflecting that this was probably the only time that I would see shaving my bits as worth doing and not a deeply man-made and probably pervy suggestion.

I was tired and could barely stay awake as the midwife rubbed the baby up and down my face "to help you bond". He had a pair of lungs on him unlike my first two and looked like a pirate with a mass of dark hair. Later they weighed him with huge excitement hoping he would feature in the Sun or something. He weighed in at 11 pounds and 8 ounces.

I struggled to bond with him and wonder if that was because of the caesarean. I hated not being able to get to him when he cried. I felt useless. I also returned to work after 2 weeks which was way too soon but necessary I felt as my Other Half had been made redundant.

The bonding came the first time my son was ill. I thought he was going to die. The love surged in. I have adored him every since, some would say too much.

He is a full on, boisterous boy

He is a born peformer and comedian

He pulls the best faces

He is sensitive and can pick up on people's feelings

He is brave and bold

He eats for England, Scotland and Wales

He has held on to the baby stage longer than my other children and is clingier

He loves his Mum very much and she loves him right back.

Happy Birthday Big Boy

Time to recommend some blogs

I have a fair few followers (more always welcome) and more regular readers. So I thought it might be fun to recommend some of the blogs I enjoy.

The first is that of Leeds mum, Kat. Kat is a young mum to a delightful son. She is mature beyond her years in my view. That's a good thing by the way.

She has a keen political mind, is an accomplished musician and a "throw myself into it" type mother I think. She gives people a chance but does not suffer fools - again, a very good thing in my view. Her sense of humour is fabulous too.

Kat's blog is great as she has clear headings so you can read the bits that appeal to you most. I like how she describes the places that she goes with her young son. If like me you are sometimes stuck for things to do with the children, you can be inspired by the things Kat and her son get up to at home and when out and about.

Unlike me, she knows how to take and post pictures too so you are in from some good photography as well as wise words.

Take a look at iRant, iRave at and let her know I sent you along

National Adoption Week - how I came to my Mum and Dad

It is National Adoption Week and I will be blogging all week about various aspects of the issue and from different viewpoints.

Following feedback on yesterday's post, I think it is important to say that I am pleased that I came to my adoptive family and have had a very full and fundamentally happy life. I hope yesterday's post was not self-pitying - I was just picking out a few bullet points on how adoption crops up throughout your life.

My story started in a Roman Catholic Church in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. Mum and Dad had two sons both in their late teens. They worked hard and their lives revolved around the church and the Irish National Club.

After having the boys, Mum had a gall bladder operation and in a roundabout way, this resulted in her not being able to have any more babies. She longed for a girl. I think she wanted to give a daughter all the things she had not had in her poverty-stricken girlhood in the twenties and thirties.

Apparently, Mum and Dad had talked about adoption on many occasions but not really done much about it. They did offer to adopt a family baby once when my cousin got a young girl pregnant. My Auntie would not go with that and I can see it from both points of view. Mum, in fairly typical emotive language, told my Auntie she had no right to take a child out of the family. The child was adopted and I don't know anything else about that. I hope it had as good an experience as I did.

One Easter Sunday, Mum was at Mass and felt a huge impetus that a little girl was waiting for her. She made Dad drive her to the Catholic Children's Adoption Agency and banged on the door till they let her in. Mum was very good at not taking no for an answer.

There were barriers to Mum and Dad adopting as by now they were in their forties and so quite old in those days when babies were readily available for adoption. They had to have special interviews and be visited and questioned by social workers and priests. Both my brothers recall these visits and how they wanted to go out but had to stay in to say they were happy about having a new sibling.

Mum and Dad told me about the day they met me. I was given to Mum and she gave me a bottle. Mum says it was like I was hers from the start. Knowing me, I was probably more focussed on the bottle than the woman!

Mum also tells me how she heard a wailing in the building and it was only later that she became aware that was my birth mother who had brought me on the train from London as the social worker was on strike. My Mum always told me never to think my birth mum did not care because nobody who didn't could have made such a noise.

It is odd that it is National Adoption Week this week as it is the very week when Mum and Dad took me home. Mum told me how they drove me from Leeds to Dewsbury on Bonfire Night and it was like everyone was lighting fires to celebrate my arrival. Not to mention that along with me came fireworks lol. Those that know me might say nowt changed much there!

When they got in, I was given a bath by my brother. My other brother got himself in trouble by parading me in the pram up and down the street. Everyone thought I must be his love-child. Family, friends and even the milkman brought presents as if I was the new Messiah or summat.

There was a lovely Christmas very soon afterwards of course. Mum loved it because she felt it was like returning to when she had her boys little rather than almost-grown men.

I was not officially adopted until February in 1970. By now, my adoptive parents were in sheer terror that my birth mum would turn up at the court hearing and stop the adoption going ahead. Mum had already made plans to snatch me if this happened and take me to America where she had family members.

I now know that my birth mum did have mixed feelings about putting myself and the other children up for adoption. However, in February 1970, I became an official member of my forever home. Despite Mum's passing last year, it still is my forever home and I thank both my parents for taking me on.

National Adoption Week - reflections from a 9 year old

Having an adopted mummy feels quite weird and confusing.

Family gets mixed up and you are not sure who is who and who is actually part of your family at all.

Sometimes, you find it hard to know who your "real" grandparents are. You know and see some of them but not others.

When people ask you about how many uncles and aunties you have, you are not sure what to say.

I think mummy is sad sometimes that she does not know her real parents.

Monday, 1 November 2010

National Adoption Week - some reflections

It is National Adoption Week.

I intend to blog about adoption every day this week and hope to cover various viewpoints. It is one of those life issues that affects many people, rippling out down the years and across boundaries. So there are many voices - adoptive parents, birth parents, adopted people, siblings of adopted people, wider birth relatives, partners of adopted people, children of adopted people. If you would like to submit your voice, please send me some writing to this week for hosting on my blog. I recognise that it is all too easy to judge and that many in the mix have feelings and hurt ones at that.

I was adopted when I was one years old. Here are the random memories which perhaps give a flavour of my experiences.

1. I don't remember not knowing that I was adopted. For me, it is normal

2. My parents were some of the oldest to adopt at the time

3. My mum felt she had a calling from God one Easter to go and adopt a little girl

4. I was loved by my adoptive parents and by the wider family

5. As a child, I fantasised with friends and alone as to who my birth mum might be

6. I was told by me parents that I was chosen and hence very special.

7. When I threatened to leave home as a child, I felt all I had to do was find my "real" mother. She would make it all alright.

8. My parents spoke to me a lot about my adoption, particularly my mum

9. When I was about 10 years old, I found some paperwork and knew the name of my birth mum for the first time and also my birth name.

10. My parents had a lot of sympathy for my birth mum

11. My birth father did not get much of a mention except that there was a sense that my birth mum was the victim and him the perpetrator. Perhaps a married man? Perhaps a priest?

12. When asked about my family medical history, it was embarrassing as I had no answers

13. My parents sometimes took abuse about taking on "a tart's daughter who was bound to turn out like her mother"

14. A girl at school called Emma H told me it would have been kinder to abort me than to "farm me out."

15. I found out basic facts about my birth family when I was in my early twenties. For the first time, I knew I had had other siblings adopted seperately to me. Another huge sense of loss hit me.

16. In my late twenties, I traced my birth mother. My social worker told me I am very like my birth mum in terms of interests.

17. I swapped letters with my birth mother for a while. She told me about her marriage and her "official" family

18. I saw photographs of my birth mother and "official" birth siblings. There was a clear look of me when I was the same age. Will I look like her when I reach her age?

19. I traced some of my "official" birth siblings when they were adults having stayed away for years. I thought they knew about me - they didn't so there was tension

20. I remain in loose contact with one "official" birth sister and in close cyber contact with another one.

21. My birth mother no longer wishes to have contact with me from what I can tell as she does not reply to letters. Another rejection.

22. Having my first child was huge for me - my first blood relative

23. I don't like that my children have no contact with my birth family. That is their roots too and should not be denied.

24. I think I have struggled with feelings of being "not good enough" and "not wanted" all my life. My Dad says he knows there is a void that can never be filled.

25. Often including when my adoptive mum was dying, people would comment that I could only be her daughter as I looked so much like her. The last time it happened it was a Macmillan nurse who said it and me and my mum just looked at each other and said nothing. Afterwards, we talked about the incident and said that we don't need to say anything because we know we are mother and daughter whatever. I find that meeting of eyes and total love from one to the other comforting now mum is no longer here.

26. In my forties, I got my full adoption file as the laws changed. Scribbly sixties writing told me the story with very non-PC terminology. To protect readers of my blog that are involved in the story, I won't say what it said about my birth mum but it did say that my birth father was violent - another fact to digest and deal with. I am the daughter of a violent man - it is in the genes.

27. People have asked me if adoption "fucks you up". I think it sometimes does and that there are feelings of insecurity and lack of self-belief that stem from being adopted. I think these have held me back both in career and relationship matters. However, I think we all get "fucked up" along the way whatever our story, adopted or not.

28. I don't hold ill feelings against anyone in the process now. Well not much anyway. Only on the black cloud days.

29. Adoption is really common. My husband had a child adopted when he was a young man. My step-daughters lost two half-siblings to adoption. My birth mother's husband is apparently adopted. We are not some weird breed - we are everywhere.

30. Adoption grief can come at strange times. Listening to Piers Morgan interviewing Rod Stewart the other night, they talked of Rod's adopted child and how he used to say he has 7 children when he really has 8. I had not thought about that before and suddenly was sobbing, full on down the face, snot sobbing, heart-wracking stuff. Why? Because for the first time, I realised that when my birth mum is asked how many children she has she won't include me.

This is only part of my story.

I would love to hear other stories and feature them on the blog.

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