Monthly Archives: January 2013

Crossing the city to play and have lunch

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Today I met with a couple of friends from my previous job, they both have girls same age as Laura.

We went to David Llods, a supergym/club/spa chain in the UK, which has a Indoor kids club. Not big, but it was alright for our girls. Since we used to meet quite often in my area (South East), we went to a branch in the South West.

Then we had lunch in a Korean restaurant not too far from there. It was my second Korean restaurant and Laura’s first one. I was surprised with the amount of food she ate, and how adventurous she was to try new flavours (some quite strong).

The girls had an amazing time, and despite the long drive I think it was good that I overcame my panic attack and went. I was (am) also in a terrible mood, which wasn’t great.

As soon as we got in the car for our journey back home, Laura slept. 30 minutes only. And din’t want to sleep at her normal bedtime hour. I could swear she was going to sleep earlier than usual. Hunf.

Laura having her first asian soup:20130127-214648.jpg
how cool are tgose chop sticks for kids?20130127-214702.jpg
eating lots of rice (she also had noodles and marinated beef anf other things I don’t know the name)20130127-214715.jpg
Group hug:20130127-214728.jpg

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52 Objects: week 24

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I think that, by the end of this project, I wilk realise either that I was born to be a housewife or that I don’t eat to survive, but survive to eat (or both).

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what is it? The toaster
where is it? In the kitchen
why was it chosen? because i love toast (more than I like bread, if it makes sense. I remember when I was a kid, we didn’t have a toaster. The bread (normally french baguette) was toasted on the oven. It worked brilliantly, but it could take a while. If I had to do this today, I woukd definetely burn a lot of bread – one thing I DON’T like about cooking is having to keep a close eye on what is on the hob or in the oven. So a toaster is perfect for me – ours had a “heat” button, in case we forget the toast and don’t want to eat it cold.
what else? you can see it’s fulk of bread crumbs; we use it a lot and the photo was taken just after I made myself a couple of toasts for dinner.

Going viral

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The internet is full of funny (and useless) videos. They won’t change our lives, but they will entertain us. Who doesn’t love a parody, a spoof, a piss-taking video? I do. I saw this one today and it made me giggle: Trolling Saruman.

And, of course, since we live in a commercial world, brands are always looking for ways to infiltrate in their consumers’ lives – and recruit new consumers – and get them to engage with their products (meaning: share their videos, spread the love).

The video below, “Bring it” by Paper Towel Gang is promoting Bounty’s product. The video is funny video and the song is catchy, but did it help sell more Bounty paper towel rolls? Critics say they targeted the wrong audience with this video and it’s basically a waste of their time and money.

And here is another funny commercial – relatively cheap to produce, free to air and bang on target.

Truth is channels like You Tube are the perfect broadcasters to achieve a huge audience without have to pay millions for the air time. But with millions of videos being uploaded all the time, it’s not easy to create an amazing piece and guarantee that it will become viral. This is a dream come true for any corporation – and loads of digital agencies are out there helping their clients to achieve that. Alternatively, check this out and learn how to make your video viral:

You might have seen all these before, but I only came across these recently and decided to share them here. I don’t have much time to browse the internet or check out all links shared by friends – as I said, these videos won’t change my life. But I like to find some interesting materials from time to time (for the sake of work mostly) and make my day a bit more interesting.

A quick guide on how to raise your daughter

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My boss gave me a copy of the Style, a magazine that comes with the Sunday Times – the issue was published two Sundays ago and the cover says: “Girls in the world – how do we make sure she grows up right?”

Basically a quick guide on how to raise your daughter. Amazing, isn’t it? And there I was spending sleepless nights thinking how I would raise my daughter in this evil world, when all I needed was the book Steve Biddulph’s Raising Girls. Problem sorted. Yes, I am being ironic. First reactions were: “a man teaching how to raise a girl? Is he talking specifically to other fathers or to all parents and carers?” and “if raising a child – despite the gender – was that simple that you just read a book and job’s done, the world would be such a great place to live in – there are tons of books teaching you how to raise your kid (‘you stupid mother that have no idea what you are doing!’)”.

Irony and scepticism aside, the article has some interesting points – some are obvious, but it’s always good to be reminded of. Like the fact that in the last decade, companies decided to target girls and exploit their fears and desires and dreams and aspirations in order to make profit. No wonder younger girls are more conscious of their looks – or paranoid if you prefer, they are becoming women sooner and they all seem a bit lost in the world. To be honest, using girls as a target for consumerism dates more than a decade ago, but maybe the “industry” has finally found a formula that “works” (works for whom?) in a consistent way.

If part of me says that there is no point in learning how to educate our daughters if we don’t know how to educate our sons, another part says that all efforts are valid, as the world seems too damaged to raise any kid and if we don’t do something now, I fear for our grandchildren…

I’m not sure how much I can share of the article without infringing copyrights, so apologies if this is too summarised for you. Below are some quick points from the article (which is an extract from the book):

According to Steve Biddulph, there are five stages of girlhood:

Stage 1: security – am I safe and love? from birth to 2 years. The interesting thing here is that the author says that the baby-stimulation toys are a waste of money. we shouldn’t try to educate our babies at this stage, just enjoy them. I’ve noticed with my daughter that the most effective “toys” were the chewing ones, because all she wanted was to put things in her mouth – and look at her hands, and feet, and then explore the world around her. Yes, she would play with her toys, but almost because we imposed it on her. By the way, this applies for girls AND boys.

Stage 2: Exploring – is the world a fun and interesting place? from 2 to 5 years. This is currently the stage my daughter is at. Some interesting points: dress them to explore the world, not in delicate and expensive clothes that will restrict her (and drive you nuts because you will have to handwash that expensive Gucci outfit). Encourage her to do whatever she shows interest in doing – don’t force her to attend ballet classes unless she shows interest in it. It’s ok for girls to be interested in non-girly things (especially because most of them are socially imposed rules). And… avoid toys that it is aimed at girls only.  Dolls and pushchairs. All pink. Tsk. We have a bunch of those at home, half of them where gifts, some of them were lack of options in the shops. But she has cars and trains sets, musical instruments, gender neutral building blocks.

Stage 3: People skills – can I get along with others? from 5 to 10 years. The author says it is important for girls to have friends, and this is the age where social skills are learnt. But here is a genuine question: doesn’t this apply to boys too? This stage is all about learning to live and get along with other people – not only other children, but adults as well – and learnt that they are not the centre of the universe. The author also says that it is around the age of 8 that we should prepare our girls for puberty. And I thought it was too early…

Stage 4: Finding her soul – can I find my deep-down self and what makes me truly happy? from 10-14 years. This seems ages in the future for me, but one thing I found very interesting: “girls from 10 to 14 years old need more, not less of our time, interest and availability.” We tend to think that as they grow up, we – parents – will have more time for ourselves and have to worry less about the kids. They will be more independent and less “needy”. My dreams of early retirement will have to be put on hold until they are 40!

Stage 5: Steeping into adulthood – can I take responsibility for my own life? From 14 to 18 years. Strong female role models in the family, unite! Our girl needs you. Now… this is a stage that I find quite interesting. We – girls of this age – think we are grow-ups, women, ready to embrace the world. We – mothers – think they are still little girls and need to be protected. This is an important transitional phase where the girl is getting ready to be a woman – a good one or a bad one.

 An important consideration is that these are not strict rules and human being can change and learn at any stage, as long as they have support and love from their parents. Most of the parents I know love their children to bits, look after them, love and protect and only want the best for their children. But there are the negligent parents as well – those that only have kids to tick a box. Or by accident. I know a couple of people like this and it is really sad. 

Just to finalise the post – a quick extract of the most interesting part of the article, in my opinion:

“At the heart of our understanding of babies is a concept called “attachment”. Some babies attach securely to their mums, some don’t. Boys who are insecurely attached avoid their mothers or don’t trust them. However, for girls whose mother was depressed or distant or even when she was angry, these daughters would go closer to their mother and try to comfort her. (…) Insecurely attached girls had a “tend and befriend” reaction; they did not go away from danger, they went towards it; (they) will feel most comfortable around angry/depressed people, who unconsciously remind them of their mum. These girls will have a strong belief system that it’s their job to choose someone with mood swings or violent tendencies and try to fix them.”

To know more:

Steve Biddulph’s Raising Girls (HarperCollins). (C) Steve Biddulph 2013. 

Snow, baking and lots of energy

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So winter has arrived. The rain stopped and now we have snow. As usual, for the last three years, the country gets excited with all the snow but also becomes chaotic!

On Friday some people couldn’t go to work, others left early to avoid being stuck at work and in my case I had to drop everything to collect Laura at the nursery. They called me asking to pick her up as she had been complaining of ear ache the whole day and was very upset.

After an emergency appointment with the GP, she is again on antibiotics, this time for an ear infection. It was a pain to push the pushchair on the snow and it was freezing!

Saturday more snow so we head off to the shops to get a wellie boots for Laura, a new pair of gloves and a new hat – hers were lost somewhere.

And even more snow on Sunday. So we are now debating how tomorrow will be. It’s annoying to go out in such weather…

Laura is better, but for some reason not sleeping well. Today she woke up at 5am and didn’t go back to sleep. The afternoon nap only came at 3pm. What to do in 10 hours?!? A bit of TV, DVD, building blocks, arts and craft, music, dancing, running and baking…

We baked a very quick, simple, sweet and yummy Galaxy cake, very improvised. (mix 1 cup of flour, 1 cut of ground almonds, 1 cup of sugar, 2 spoons of melted butter with a bar of Galaxy chocolate, 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, place it in a baking tray and bake for 45min-1hour; voila, you have a moist choc cake with a funny texture but quite tasty). Laura loves breaking the eggs and mixing ingredients. I’m yet to be totally cool with that, but participated of all the process, except putting it in the oven.

And although she is recovering, she is very energetic. I can’t believe how much energy can fit in that little body!

And we finally booked our trip to Romania in February. Fingers crossed the weather in the UK will be better as they simply cancel flights when there’s a bit of snow.

Laura and bff Iggle Piggle
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Sleeping with the new pair of wellie boots – she didn’t take them off for the whole weekend! Even took it to the bath (and to bed, as you can see).

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Laura rock ‘n’ rolling just before bedtime – when she was supposed to start cooling down!!

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lots of snow this Sunday (still not as bad as the snow fall we had in 2010.

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Domestic life is a beach (sic). Our tumble drier doesn’t fit in the house so it’s in the garage – we have to cross the garden to get to it. Not a surprise that this is one of our least favourite tasks (well, hubby’s, as he is the one in charge).20130120-192851.jpg

52 objects: week 23

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The 23rd week of the 52 objects project comes with some baby news too: daddy felt the baby for the first time today! She has been kicking loads and now we can see it (we don’t have to touch the belly – it can be easily seen).

Here is this week’s object:

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what is it? our new microwave
why was it chosen? when our microwave broke, a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t realise how much we use this thing. Not that we cannot live without it, but it makes our life much easier.
what else? Now what I really like about THIS microwave is that we got an extra mirror in the house, so I can have a quick peek and check if I’m not too spooky.

Baby 2 on TV

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Today Baby 2 showed her arm on national television, more specifically on This Morning show, ITV.

This is what happened: someone in production needed a pregnant woman to test a new portable ultrasound device (it’s a combo smartphone + handle + app) so you can see things such as… babies! I volunteered, because it was meant to be a recording in the morning and that was it. I had loads of work to do, couldn’t really afford being away for too long. Still the recording was delayed by 45 minutes. This is a thing about productions, you can’t control much, except when it is a live show.

If you don’t live in the UK or don’t watch TV, you might not know that This Morning is a live show. So what we were recording was just the image of the scan that was going to be on screen while the presenters chatted about the equipment.

After we finished recording, I was asked to be back later on to have another scan, this time standing up and live on stage!! What??!?!?! I wasn’t expecting that and got a bit shy. I was going to go if I could, but after I went back to my desk, I found out I had a meeting and several urgent things to finish before lunch time, so I had to pass. I had a mix of relief (I was scared of looking ridiculous on screen) and disappointment (I actually wanted to see how it would have been, my 15 seconds of fame).

Anyway, so I wasn’t on TV, but baby 2 had her 3 seconds of fame. Check out the video – filmed from ITV Player live this morning.