Monthly Archives: October 2012

The new me or another fashion disaster?

I like to think I am fashion conscious, however I don’t tend to spend a lot of money trying to follow trends.  I’ve always thought it was a little wasteful because as soon as the trend is over, you feel obliged to stick the item in the back of the wardrobe.

Inevitably, as well, I spend ages looking at the latest trend (ooooh leopard print shoes), deciding it was too seasonal and therefore wasteful, discover it’s still out there 2 years later and then finally buying it about 30 seconds before it becomes old hat.

Another favourite of mine is finding a new style, but disliking it.  Gradually being brainwashed over the course of the next year by seeing lots of people wearing it and thinking it actually looks quite good, not being able to find it and eventually buying it about 30 seconds before it becomes old hat.

It will probably come as no surprise to you that I am showing an interest in peplum.  I am resisting the urge to buy……….I think it’s on it’s way out. (you can see how this pattern emerges).

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a blog post by the delightful School Gate Style and she was at an event where she was trying on various outfits.  She is of a similar build to me (perhaps less bumpy and probably a size or 2 smaller) and I saw her try on some things from River Island.  I had an overwhelming urge to try them for myself, so at the next opportunity in my lunch break I headed off to do just that. I liked what I saw and bought it.

This is the whole outfit.

The top (which didn’t feature on Avril’s post) is a beige oversized gold stud top and is size 10.  The grey tweed biker jacket is actually a size 12  to allow it to be a bit more comfortable.  The trousers caused me a little bit of distress.  I am a size 10, but for some items of clothing such as skinny jeans, I do occasionally have trouble doing them up due to my mummy tummy.  This doesn’t happen in Next or some of the Debenhams brands, but I do occasionally have to go up a size if I don’t want to do myself an injury.  When I went to try these trousers on, they only had a size 14 so I thought I’d try anyway and get a feel for whether I liked them.  They fitted perfectly, but I ended up buying online and buying a size 12, which I felt was more acceptable.  Needless to say, I couldn’t do the buggers up, so took them back and bought the 14.  Some very kind people on twitter told me they have to do that occasionally and one lady cuts out her labels so she isn’t reminded.  I haven’t quite done that yet, but at least I will be able to breathe and eat in it!  I’ve worn the jacket so far, but intend to wear the whole ensemble to a 40th party in November that is at a bar/pub.

My second purchase this month (I rarely buy clothes, but I’m on a bit of a mission) was from TK Maxx last Friday.  It was an “accidental” purchase as I wasn’t looking for something.  As usual I have come late to the party with coloured skinny jeans and whilst the brighter colours make me look a little too “try hard” I thought the navy here was quite nice.  These were a 12, but are a little loose on the tummy (they didn’t have any 10’s) and I solve that by using a skinny belt to keep it tighter.

So what do you think?  Have I now become a yummy mummy?  Is there hope for me yet or am I too old to try the latest trends?
Disclaimer 1: Trying to photograph yourself anonymously, on your own with a timer was rather tricky.  I also had 2 hours to write this post, work out the timer functionality on my camera, find something to put it on and change. I apologise for the state of the pictures and the state of me.

Disclaimer 2: For those of you that were so kind about my hair on this post.  This is day 7……”dragged through a hedge backwards” springs to mind and I brushed it!

Being a working mum of a nursery and school age child

When I was pregnant with my daughter I couldn’t even begin to work out how I was going to look after her and earn money.  Everyone said it would just work out.  Somehow the most sensible option will make itself obvious and we’d be fine.  It did. Through my maternity leave we worked out that hubby could do childcare on Monday and Tuesdays, I would do Fridays and we found a nursery that Pickle could go to on Wednesday and Thursdays.  So I submitted my flexible working hours to ensure I had Fridays off and worked a shortish day on the nursery days so I could do drop off and pick up if Hubby wasn’t around.  It was accepted. Hoorah.

When I was pregnant with my son I couldn’t begin to work out how I was going to look after 2 children and get two children out of the house and into nursery and then make the dash to work. I also had no idea how we were going to pay for it either.  For 2 children, for 2 days a week for a month was nearly £1000.  I also wasn’t paid for the majority of my maternity leave and we had needed to cash an ISA in to get me to 10 months.  Somehow we managed to tighten our belts and thought we should be able to do it. My company had kept paying my childcare vouchers (themselves. Not taken out of my statutory maternity pay) and my nursery had kindly given me 2 half days for free during the maternity leave so I accumulated childcare vouchers ready for the expensive onslaught when I went back to work.  The big help was having a little bit of financial help from the family every month whilst we had the year of having both kids in nursery.  That was a wonderful gift.

Now that Pickle is at school and The Monster is at nursery we have an altogether different dilemma.  Pickle started school at the end of September and we got our first choice which is within walking distance.  The Monster is still at the original nursery which was a 10 minute, traffic jam ridden journey away.  Hubby and I went through every conceivable scenario to see how it would all work and quite frankly this is it, but oh my goodness it’s a stressful old setup.

Photo courtesy of Ask a mum.co.uk

I follow a lot of stay at home mums on twitter and have a few friends who are and things aren’t rosy on that side of the fence either, especially when they have several children still at home. Of course, when I’m dashing about like a mad woman all I can think of is easy it must be for them, although I’m not that stupid to actually believe this to be the case.   I can only talk about what it’s like to do the school run from a working mum perspective and it’s true what they say…………You really can’t have it all. Not that I ever thought I would.

Firstly I have to get everyone out the house on time, fully dressed, fed (well at least Pickle), school lunch done, reading bag ready, nursery bag packed (dummy, nappies, drinking bottle, comforter, spare clothes) and into the car.  I drive the 10 minutes to The Monster’s nursery where he is dropped off ready for breakfast.  Pickle and I (annoyingly) have time to spare, so we take our time, kiss TM goodbye, natter to the nursery staff and then get in the car.  I then drive 10 minutes back again, to right near our house to park up.  Pickle plays on the phone for 10 minutes or so, I stare out the front windscreen like a deranged inmate muttering to myself that “I used to just stare when I didn’t have a smart phone and what is the matter with me, how about doing some thinking?”  We then walk the 5 minutes to school where I hover like bee by the door anticipating every shadow that walks pass it might be the teacher about to open the door.  Finally it is opened and Pickle is shoved through so I can turn and do that embarrassing half walk/run back to the car.  From this point I have 1 hour to get from the classroom door to work. I start at 9.45am.  I do my journey, park up about a 20 minute walk away for free parking, don my cycle helmet, high vis vest, bicycle clip, put my handbag in the brompton C bag, unfold the Brompton (I blogged about it here) and ride for 5 minutes to work. Where I unfold the cycle, take off some of the stuff I have on me that makes me look like a plonker and push the Brompton up to my desk.  Depending on the day, I arrive dead on 9.45am or at about 9.50am. Either way, I am breathing like Darth Vadar and my blood pressure is sky-high.

**insert 6 hour work day here which, quite frankly, is a doddle after kids and the journey.  I get to drink several cups of tea too**

So the whole journey is in reverse on the way back (obviously).  Bike ride, in car, drive to nursery, pick up the Monster (get slightly annoyed that the slow talking nursery teacher is trying to tell you something because all you want to do is get out the door) and then drive 10 minutes to pick up Pickle from the after school club.  At this point I find out whether her journey from school to the club was smooth or peppered with tears and attempt to find all the bits to her school lunch bag that has been overturned and scattered about in the room.  I’m stressed for my car journey to both of them because any slight traffic jam can push the journey back 10-30 minutes.  10 minutes is about the only buffer I have.

I then get both kids back in the car, drive the 2 minutes to the house. Off load kids and bags and make a bee line for the kitchen because it’s now 5.45pm and I need to feed them around 6pm.

Of course, my journey is not unique.  This is the same journey thousands of working mums have to juggle with whilst getting to work and I’d like to say that I work to keep my own identity, to have adult conversation, to challenge myself, but the honest truth is that I do it for the money.  All that other stuff, yeah, great, I’m sure it helps and I probably couldn’t be a full time stay at home mum, but I do really wish I had the option.  It’s cheaper for me to work and pay childcare than it is for me not to work and not pay childcare.  In fact, we just couldn’t afford to live if I didn’t.

Those 2 days in the middle of the week are so stressful that I start thinking about it on Monday. I check my diary in the hope Hubby isn’t working on those days (he’s self employed) and if he is, I start bracing myself for it.  Things will only improve when The Monster starts school as well (although the dash from school to the office will still exist and that isn’t great)  and that’s another 3 years away.

So now I have a child in nursery and one at school I have worked out how I’m going to do it.  It isn’t easy and is incredibly stressful, but we get through it, somehow.  I’d be interested to hear what you do, whether you have an easier journey or find a way to deal with the stress of it.  I’d also like to hear from any stay at home mums, is it a walk in the park?  😉

Excuse me! Excuse me!

I had hoped to blog about my new rock chick purchases this week, but due to an unforeseen sizing issue (ahem) I have to get my new trousers replaced and shall blog next week now.
However, this post is not unconnected, as I was in a well known department store yesterday looking for a pair of killer ankle boots to finish the ensemble and subsequently found them.

The boots in question were not too high, had a thin heel and were slightly pointy. They also had some interesting seam work, so although fairly plain, they were a bit different. I couldn’t find a pair of black ones in my size so I tried the brown pair and they looked fab.

So I Took them over to the counter and awaited a shop assistant to scurry over, all smiles to help me “with my purchase”. There was no one there. So I waited. I then thought they might be out the back or something so I embarrassed myself a bit saying “Excuse me….excuse me” at a partly opened door. Nothing. Eventually I left the boots on the counter and found a woman in another department who offered to find someone for me. As I needed to go to the children’s department I told her not to worry and I’d be back in 10 minutes and maybe they’ll have returned. So I did just that.

Upon my return there was someone at the counter, working around my boots, so I said: “Hi. I was just wondering if you had this size and style in black.”. She replied “I’ll go and look”. She wasn’t particularly friendly, I can live with that (I shouldn’t have to, but I will). She came back to me. “Yeah, sorry we don’t have that size in black”. Silence. Is it just me or is this the bit where they offer to solve my problem? “Ummm, can I order some then?”. She looks at me, slow blinks and says “yeah, you can order over there”. She points vaguely behind me. “Where?”. ” Over there, near the mirror. It’s a way to order things”. Buoyed by her over exuberance to all things customer service I say “how will I know what to order?”. At this point she explains I could try scanning, but that probably won’t work so I should type in the brand of the boots and I’ll find it. Clear as mud. So now I realise I won’t be speaking to a person but dealing with a machine. Shoe girl drops her head to get on with her paperwork and I feel a bit left out in the cold. Well that’s an understatement, I feel pretty pissed off actually. I’ve just told someone I want to buy their wares and they’ve basically shown they don’t care whether I do or not. I do shop emotionally and I like to be loyal to certain brands and certain shops. This department store has always been pretty good, so it probably felt a lot worse because of that.

So I wander over to where she had pointed and there tucked behind a mirror is a big “ordering machine”. It’s not quite a computer nor is it like an ATM, but somewhere between that. I start looking. It is incredibly slow, slower than my iPhone and every time I try to search the brand in the boots section, it doesn’t exist. Not another shop assistant can be seen and I’m now royally peeved. I dump the boots on the desk and storm off.

Am I expecting too much? Is this really the way I should be treated. I may not be spending £1000’s of pounds, but I bet my return custom does (and now I think of it I had my wedding list here). Why didn’t the Shoe girl offer to order my size in? That’s my first question. Isn’t that normal helpful behaviour? And if this department store has taken to making everyone order through this ghastly, clunky machine, then why didn’t she offer to do it for me?

I know I wasn’t spoken to rudely, or ignored entirely or treated badly, but why should I only complain under those circumstances. I was treated like I wasn’t worth her time and in some ways, that’s nearly as bad. I won’t be rushing back to their shoe department any time soon.

I’d like to say I didn’t buy those boots, but although I tried to find a boot that was similar on my walk back to work (going in 3 shoe shops) I did end up buying online. I’m not proud of myself, but as I mentioned before, I won’t be going in the shoe section again if that’s they way I will be treated.

I do intend to write a letter.

Looking Your Age – Long Hair

A couple of months before I turned 40 (in February of this year) I posed a question on my Facebook page about whether I should cut my hair.  The reason I asked is because of that age old question of whether to keep long hair as you get older and at what point you start to look like you’re trying to be young, when you very clearly aren’t.  The general consensus was that I shouldn’t.  I’m not so sure.

I have really enjoyed having long hair.  It helps me to feel womanly (when the rest of me didn’t) and I have to admit, it has helped me to feel younger than I look.  I’m not entirely sure the dilemma is about being older with long hair anymore. I think I’m just fed up with having long hair and feel like I need to make the change.  I probably also feel that as my face starts to look less “fresh” then a haircut and proper style is the way to lift it up and help me to hang on to my youthfulness.

This is me now.

It looks ok today, but that’s because today is hair washing day.  Yep, I have a special day just to wash it.  The issue isn’t actually the washing, the issue is the drying and styling and straightening of it.  It has to last a whole week really because I just don’t have a spare hour at any other point in the week to do it.  Somewhere around Thursday I do have to employ some dry shampoo and stick it back in a low pony tail.

I would be happy to wash it more than once a week if it was shorter.  I would also be prepared to use an extra 5-10 min to whip a straightener through it if I had to, but at the length it is currently, it would take me a lot longer to do and quite frankly I can’t be arsed.

I had a chat with our hairdresser a week ago.  She’s about to go on maternity leave and should be back around Christmas time, so we talked through some options.  She completely agreed with some of the styles I had in mind.  Bobish, layered, longer at the front, versatile.  I’m actually getting a little bit excited about it.

Here are some of my ideas.

I’m going to keep it just above the shoulder at the front and not too short at the back.  If I like it and I get some confidence about it then I might look to shorten it further.

The advantage, I think, of this style is that it will take me less time to dry.  It will be easier for me to manage although I think I will be spending more time styling it, but the upshot is that it will look nicer for longer in the week.

I’m planning to straighten it into a tidy bob most days, but if I do go out (ha ha ha ha….*hysterically laughs*) then I can curl it or make some bits stick out in a messy way and it will look different.

If it all goes horribly wrong and I hate it with a passion, then at least I’ll have tried it and can grow it out a bit and still have longish hair.  Anything has to be better than the awful thick and messy hair I now see reflected back at me on most days of the week (except for today, today it looks nice).

So what do you think?  Am I taking the idea of being 40 a bit too far?  Am I right to want to cut off my hair or should I hang onto the length for as long as possible?  Really interested to hear what others think.

PS: Whilst wrangling with the new photo gallery option on wordpress for this post I got so annoyed with everything I ended up tying up that lovely long hair.  Unfortunately something I do so very often because it’s actually a hindrance. One day it’s going to get caught in something and I’m going to be dragged into some sort of industrial mechanism to my death.  On that happy thought…………..look forward to reading some comments.  :)