Shoes Glorious Shoes

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It all started when l was buying a pair of school shoes in Clarks with my Mum. I was probably about 7 years old and fell in love with a pair on the spot. They were shiny patent black, with a small strap, little pattern on the toe, and, best of all, a ‘magic key’ hidden in the sole. My mother, being a no-nonsense, practical type of person who bought ‘shoes to last’, refused my wishes, and l ended up with an unremarkable pair that l would be disappointed to put on every day.

Of course, when l reached the grand age of 15 and my mother was offering to buy me pretty shoes, l was clomping around in Dr Marten’s and army surplus boots, doing my best to imitate Courtney Love. When she had finally given up nagging me to look ‘ladylike’  (at about the age of 20) l came home from university wearing the pointiest, highest stiletto ankle boots known to man. They were camo-print though, so not perhaps what she had in mind.

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Shoes, Glorious Shoes.

Since that time, my slight (!) obsession with shoes has grown and grown. I love a beautiful shoe, no matter how unwearable they are. My husband, understandably, gets more than annoyed that every house move is accompanied by several boxes full of shoes that l never wear. They are usually labelled “Shoes that are never worn”, “More F-ing shoes”, or “Why do you keep buying shoes?”. So, he was not best pleased when l returned home from ostensibly shopping for a few essentials with not one, but three more pairs of (beautiful) shoes that l stumbled across in the Zara sale.

"More F*ing Shoes!"

“More F*ing Shoes!”

After the ‘conversation’ that followed, l duly removed the pairs of shoes that l have bought, but rarely wear from the wardrobe. I was supposed to get rid of them. I have moved them to a suitcase underneath the bed for safe keeping. Shhhhhhhh…..

How l learnt to spend money.

I have known my husband for nine years. We have been acquaintances, friends, best friends, flatmates, boyfriend/girlfriend, exes, and, for better and worse, are now married and parents. Our relationship has taught me a lot: a dinner of sweets is not considered a healthy diet; how to cook an omelette with success; the joys of Biffy Clyro; that Pirate Metal is possibly the worst type of music; a love of ale and roast lamb; that bread knives should not be used for anything but bread; the relative merits of a Playstation versus an X-Box; how to lose without throwing a tantrum. Okay, l am still learning that last one.

A bigger lesson l have learnt, however, is how to spend money. Our differing attitudes to finances were clear when we first went grocery shopping together. I headed straight for the bargain bin (my Dad used to buy most of our food from this ‘almost out of date’ shelf – hence a lot of ‘Supper Surprise’) whilst The Husband would be in the ‘Organic Best’ section. This divide was echoed in most things – l would buy a bargain pair of hiking boots while he would spend enormous (to me) amounts of money on a high end pair. But then l would end up with wet feet and blisters whilst his feet were toasty warm and pain free. It has taken a few years, and l still struggle with ‘spend guilt’ but l now understand the wisdom of investing in “good kit” as my stepfather calls it.

Nowhere is this more clear than on my dressing table. A couple of weeks after giving birth, when The Husband had gone back to work and my Mum had returned back to the UK, l was desperate to get out of the house. I popped The Boy into the sling and hopped in a taxi to the nearest shopping mall. Whilst wandering around, bleary eyed, l was asked by one of the make-up assistants if l wanted a make-over. Well, milk-stained, rumpled, sleepless wreck that l was, l just plonked myself on the stool and let her do her worst. After about 20 minutes she showed me my reflection. I had expected to see some hideously over-made up face resembling a drag queen. Instead l looked human again. Like a much improved version of my current self. Well, that had me sold. My credit card was handed over and l have never looked back.

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The contents of my make-up bag.

Nine months on, wearing make-up on a daily basis, the only thing l have had to re-buy is the mascara. It seems that investing once and investing wisely is the way forward. And while l may never be frivolous with money, l have certainly learnt how to spend a little more.

Have Baby, Will Travel (Part 1).

I am slightly ashamed to admit that when l was a happy-go-lucky twenty-something traveller, l used to (silently) curse parents who brought small screaming babies onto planes. When my peers started creating ‘mini-me’s in my early thirties l developed much more sympathy, and just turned my headphones up a bit. Nowadays l am the parent in the front of the row of seats, desperately shovelling the hot meal into her mouth with her left hand whilst balancing a baby in the right; walking wild-eyed and wild-haired up and down the aisles trying to calm a fractious monster; performing contortions in the toilet to pee and change the baby simultaneously; and then tented under a blanket too afraid to move for hours lest the baby on her lap awake.

Now l have to do it all again, with a boy who is four months older, substantially larger, more mobile and wilful than on his last plane adventure. I like to be prepared (must be the Girl Guide in me) so have scoured the internet for helpful tips for travelling with a child in general, of which there are many – thankyou all you wonderful parent bloggers out there. Here follows my plan for survival (it will also, no doubt, include at least one beer).

Blanket and PJs. In the vain hope that there might be some sleep taking place.

Blanket and PJs. In the vain hope that there might be some sleep taking place.

Food Glorious Food. And, yes, l have decanted the formula into ziplock bags. Ziplock bags are my new post-it notes.

Food Glorious Food. And, yes, l have decanted the formula into ziplock bags. Ziplock bags are my new post-it notes.

Toys and books. Noisy Farm does what it says on the tin. Fellow passengers are going to be rudely awakened by cocks crowing and cows mooing. It will add a frisson of excitement to their otherwise boring airplane experience.

Toys and books. Noisy Farm does what it says on the tin. Fellow passengers are going to be rudely awakened by cocks crowing and cows mooing. It will add a frisson of excitement to their otherwise boring airplane experience.

The Essentials. Sterlising bags, bibs, muslins (the Aden & Anais ones are huge, we could probably make one into a parachute if we got desperate), and Calpol.

The Essentials. Sterlising bags, bibs, muslins (the Aden & Anais ones are huge, we could probably make one into a parachute if we got desperate), and Calpol.

A travelling outfit. This contains more layers than he has worn in his life. But it also looks cute, which may help me persuade other travellers to look kindly on him when he is trying to throw his rattle at them/wake them up with farm animal noises.

A travelling outfit. This contains more layers than he has worn in his life. But it also looks cute, which may help me persuade other travellers to look kindly on him when he is trying to throw his rattle at them/wake them up with farm animal noises.

If all else fails... have iPad, will distract baby.

If all else fails… have iPad, will distract baby.

Have Baby, Will Travel (Part 2) will follow when we arrive in the UK. In the meantime, if you read of a family that was evicted from a plane as their baby boy attempted to climb into the cockpit and drown the pilot in dribble, that is probably us.

P.S Any more tips from you wise parenting folk are always welcome.

The Liebster Award

It has been one of those weeks. The penultimate week of a 19 week term, parent-teacher conferences, a school trip, last minute Christmas shopping, and a teething baby. Those top two teeth are evil l tell you. Thank goodness for chocolate advent calendars, mulled wine, Calpol and Bonjela (and that is just for me).

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Then l was nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Nicole at Mariella & Me, which made the week a whole lot better. So thank you Nicole! Check out her blog at some point, she has the cutest little girl and does some great baking, and l thoroughly enjoy reading about her daily life.

Accepting the award means l undertake three tasks. Firstly, l need to answer some questions about myself, secondly l need to tell you eleven random facts about myself, and thirdly l need to nominate some other blogs that l like. Here we go…..

The Questions

1. If you could have something right now, tangible or not, what would it be?
It sounds a bit mercenary, but l would like to have enough money saved to buy a house. We are currently working our butts off to save enough, which is partly why we are living abroad. It would be nice not to have that pressure!

2. What are you most grateful for?
My husband and my boy. My family and friends. Basically, for having people around me who love me for who l am. Even though l have absolutely no common sense or spacial awareness and do things like pick piping hot plates up, walk into glass plate windows and drive cars into posts on a regular basis.

3. What is something you hate to talk about?
Hard question! Being a teacher means you usually have to talk about most things. But l really don’t like people describing their injuries to me. I used to think l would be a great nurse, but l feel physically sick if someone starts talking about their wounds.

4. What is your one biggest regret?
Letting my parents talk me out of pursuing a career in art when l was a teenager. I had some amazing adventures instead, but part of me does feel like l wasted a few years not doing what l was supposed to do.

5. What is your favourite book of all time?
I am going to cheat and have three (l love books, am married to an English Literature teacher, and the tables at our wedding were all named after our favourite books!). Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami and Mr God, this is Anna by Sydney Hopkins. All brilliant stories, with unusual and intriguing characters.

6. If you could tell your 16 year old self something, anything, what would it be?
Stop fighting who you are! I went through a few turbulent years from age 16 onwards and desperately hated who l was, which made me massively insecure. It took me a long time to accept and like myself for who l was. Also, l would tell my 16 year old self that a shaved head is fine, but it will take forever to grow out and look hideous in the process.

7. Why do you blog? For who?
A good question. My husband blogs (really well, he is an incredible writer – find his stuff at Tastehitch) and suggested it as a way of recording all the little baking projects, photography, and other creative bits and pieces that l do in my limited spare time. Now l have started l really rather enjoy it. I just wish l had more time to invest in it…

8. What one thing about your house/living situation would you like to change?
See above – owning our own house! Especially one without termites/mosquitos/and the potential of harbouring king cobras. Oh, and living somewhere with seasons. Seriously, how can it be Christmas when the temperature is 32 degrees Celcius?

9. What is your favourite memory as a child?
There are many, but one of my favourites is being on summer holiday in cold, wet, North Wales and my mum dragging us on a long muddy hike. We reached a hidden lake just as the sun broke through the clouds and my mum stripped off her clothes and jumped in the icy water. The three of us kids followed suit (my Dad stood there looking holding the packed lunches  and staring at us in disbelief). To this day we still swim in the sea on Christmas morning.

10. What are three goals you have for 2015?
My first it to start a little Etsy shop selling some of my design work – this is so scary as l don’t think my work is very good, but people seem to like it so l am going to give it a go. My second is to improve my video taking and editing skills – l am trying to make family videos of every holiday, but l want them to be cool to watch too. My third is to start writing letters instead of sending emails to my friends. It takes the same amount of time, and who doesn’t love getting a letter in the post?

11. What are you most proud of (aside from your kids!)?
Completing a half marathon in my fastest time ever, 7 months after having The Boy. It hurt. A lot. But it was the best feeling knowing that l had achieved a goal l set myself.

11 Random Facts About Myself
1.) I have a lazy right eye that doesn’t see a lot, so have a blindspot that means l cannot play badminton. At all.
2.) I once was a life model for students at the Royal College of Art in London.
3.) I have said ‘hello’ to Princes William and Harry when they were doing their Christmas shopping in Selfridges.
4.) I used to play rugby, and broke my ribs, two fingers, my nose (twice) and several toes in the process.
5.) I was born in a farmhouse (another story for another day!)
6.) There are two skills l would love to have – to be able to dance and sing. I can do neither well. Until l am drunk, then l think that l can do both awesomely.
7.) Once l sat up all night with a dead body, whilst living with a family in Japan.
8.) I went to Yemen about 15 years ago and had a guard who was armed with a kalashnikov. I got the best prices in the market.
9.) I can’t imagine a life without Post-It notes.
10.) Like most women, l love shoes. I own too many, including several pairs with ridiculously high heels that l wear once in a blue moon. And still l buy more.
11.) I gave birth to The Boy in the middle of a military coup. Which sounds much more dramatic than in actually was, but still, it’s a story to tell him when he is older!

Blogs I am nominating:

The Two Saving Sisters  –  I love shopping, but am also a fan of a bargain or two, so l love this blog for all it’s helpful tips!

Scrawling Consciousness – Great blog about the daily adventures of Little Man combined with down-to-earth experiences of being a parent.

Unsimple Life – Laugh out loud stories of being a Dad. Enough said.

Life in Japan with Toddlers – I am a little bit obsessed with Japan, so l love this blog. Rather than your usual tourist adventures, it gives insight into what life is truly like. With kids.

Girl Gone Expat – Amazing photography of an absolutely stunning landscape, with some great writing as well. Check it out.

JuJu’s secret Ingredient – Great recipes, a beautiful looking blog and again, great photography. I could look at this all day, but it makes me too hungry.

Please check out these blogs! They are great.

If l nominate you – here’s what you need to do:

Your job is to answer these questions in a blog post and spread the Lieb!

1. What do you like to blog about?
2. Describe your ideal day.
3. Are you excited about Christmas?
4. What would you spend a million pounds/dollars on?
5. What has been your worst disappointment in life?
6. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
7. What are the best five words to describe you?
8. Do you want to change anything about your life?
9. What is happiness to you?
10. What songs do you regularly listen to?
11. What and/or who inspires you?

Here are the rules of the Liebster Award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!).

Leaving the baby behind.

This may sound controversial, but sometimes leaving the baby behind is just brilliant.

Last weekend, for the first time in almost 7 months, l left The Boy behind. Intentionally, l might add, and at home in the capable hands of his daddy. It was a tearful moment as l waved goodbye from the window of the taxi, but by the time l had reached the airport (and had consumed a large Chai Tea Latte and a chocolate muffin) l was feeling better. In fact, excited about the prospect of a couple of days alone, exploring the temples of Siem Reap, a place that has been on my bucket list for years. I was not so excited, however, about the half marathon darkly looming on the horizon as well.

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P1030633Angkor Wat

I had thought l would spend the weekend worrying about, and missing The Boy and The Husband. I did up to a point, but l also relished some alone time, space to think, to explore, to sleep, to spend time with friends. To just be.

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And the half marathon? I managed that too, in the fastest time since l began running 10 years ago. Which made me pretty damn proud of myself.

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Lining up at the start

Sweaty but still smiling

Sweaty but still smiling

Then l got to go home to my two favourite boys, and to be honest, their smiles and hugs as l walked (hobbled) through the door meant more to me than any medal.

The First Noel

I am so excited that it is The Boy’s first Christmas. Really over-excited. So much so that the reality may be a bit of a disappointment. He will definitely love the wrapping paper and tree ornaments more than anything else, and his ideal present would be our cats in a box, so that he could ‘stroke’ (in reality grabbing fistfuls of fur and pulling their tails) them without chasing them into a corner first. I know deep down that presents will be a waste of time, and that l should demonstrate restraint, but my inner shopoholic can’t help it. Last night l hit the (internet) shops.I am sure l can hear my bank manager sobbing, luckily he lives over 1000 miles away. If you are interested, here is what he (The Boy, not the bank manager) will be getting for Christmas.

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I wish they did this in adult size, l have a Paddington Bear obsession.

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He has been crawling for all of 3 weeks and now wants to be walking. Shoes it is.

 

 

 

 

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Just. So. Cute. Perfect for cold toes.

 

 

 

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Christmas Day outfit. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have been told quite specifically by The Husband that this is horrific and in no way am l allowed to buy it. Oppps.

I seem to have a mustard obsession at the moment. This is the fourth item l have bought in this colour recently.

Leggings were vetoed too. Duly ignored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So our cats don’t live out their remaining lives in fear. Hopefully.

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The best Christmas book ever. Fact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time ever l have not bought myself a Christmas present. Well, not yet anyway. These are bookmarked, waiting for that inevitable evening when l am home alone with a glass or three of mulled wine. On reflection, I had better buy the bank manager something too….

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*SWOON* I am a new addict to expensive make up. Look how pretty!

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This year’s Christmas jumper? Yum.

 

Santa Baby

You are young (say, under 30), your friends have started reproducing, and it is Christmas. Your mantlepiece starts filling with cards adorned with various offspring dressed as Santa Claus, a Christmas Pudding, a Wise Man, or just in a festive jumper smiling broadly for the camera. “Oh no,” you think scornfully, “poor children, surely that will scar them for life”. Then you become a parent. One day, with nothing better to do, you find yourself putting your child in an empty cardboard box for fun. They like it. A lightbulb pings in your head. Christmas is coming…..

Here are the outtakes:

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