Get Your Gift On!

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A friend of mine recently had a gorgeous baby girl and I struggled for creative gift ideas, I was so happy that she liked what we had chosen and she suggested a post on Gifting, so here it is!

With TwoHalves both at school, like many parents, our weekends are often filled with birthday parties (as well as dance, football and swimming clubs).

There’s always a bit of a struggle as to what to buy for the little birthday prince or princess, so now I have mostly outsourced the selection to TwoHalves as I’m basically very lazy being kids they have better ideas as to what is “fun” (I draw the line at Gooey Louie a game which appears to be based on snot).

Here are a couple of popular choices at the mo.  And you don’t have to break the bank.  Bare in mind, they are 5 and 4 years old…

  • Colour in toys (bags, umbrellas, soft toys which may be themed e.g. Frozen, My Little Pony) or colour your own clothing (ToysRUs, The Entertainer, Littlewoods, M&S, Argos) (unless you hate the birthday child’s parents it’s usually nice to give them a heads up if you’re including permanent marker pens BTW…);

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  • Crafty bits (little sewing kits, make your own clocks, painting wooden sunflowers). draw your own jigsaw, paint a coinbox or jewellery box, make your own windchimes (Wilkos has shedloads check them out online at http://www.wilko.com/search?q=creative+play, anything by Galt Toys is usually a winner) Check out the fab stitch your own jewellery for something super special and personal at: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Undertherowantrees/items

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  • Animal slippers (Stompeez are a big hit right here, the crocodile mouth opens as the kid walks… )Genius right? Ahem… someone somewhere is making a fortune, I’m in the wrong career!);
  • Anything lego (because we all love stepping on it bare foot, yikes, it’s just under childbirth in terms of pain rating);
  • Books!  Colouring, writing or reading.  Kids love books (and strickers but that sh*t ‘aint coming in my house, how do they end up EVERYWHERE?!).  The Little Boy/Girl who lost his/her name is just a beautiful book (available at notonthehighstreet.com);
  • Jewellery – Mia Lia (mialia.co.uk) has some amazing pieces in and very affordable, check out the Liberty personalised bracelets and the bumblebee friendship bracelet;

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  • Anything dress-up, from fairies, pirates, princesses, skeletons, spiders to high viz jackets (I’m not joking, my kids were given high viz jackets by their Gran a la refuse collector and fricking love them!); kids love dressing up.  They dress up for parties, they dress up to play, hell mine have regularly visited the supermarket in fancy dress (I pick my battles).  Take a look at these badboys below, you can get one for the whole family!?!?;

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For the younger recipient:

  • this is the sweetest little gift (available in various colours including blue and neutrals), silk flowers with baby clothes bundled into a bouquet.  Just gorgeous!   Check out babyblooms.co.uk for more;
  • Great Little Trading Company always has a massive selection.  TwoHalves visited the showroom in London last week and had a great time (whereas I was mainly trying to make sure they didn’t wreck the place!).  They loved the new bedding range (My Bear) which is super cute and adds some variety to the existing popular ranges.  Always keep an eye out as there are often discount codes and you could get a steal (don’t actually steal though, that would be very wrong!).  TwoHalves making themselves very at home with the bedding below (looking pretty horrific disheveled after soccer school);

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  • For a real splurge (I’m talking major!) Tiffany do some amazing baby gifts, whilst not every baby needs a silver spoon (trying really hard not to make the obvious joke!) I really like the money boxes (just keep them out of reach of the babies as they become toddlers and older, OneHalf decided to try and kick his football shape moneybox, let’s just say it didn’t go so well)

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Phew!  Now, all I’m saying is… this would be top of my birthday list(!).  Bubble wrap costume, nuff said (prezzybox.co.uk)… bubble

 

Happy Shopping!

TwoHalvesandMe

 

xoxo

Back 2 School: 10 Top Tips

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So you’re little one is starting school in September?  You are filled with excitement (especially if this means you may have more free time?!) and small knots in your stomach as you realise little [insert your child’s name here (I will use Alice as an example, as we don’t know anyone called Alice so no risk of anyone actually thinking I am talking about their child!)] is all grown up trying on their school uniform for size.  How will Alice cope with the long days, structure of school, discipline?  Will little Alice make friends?  Will Alice be happy?  All relevant questions and yes you are right to be concerned, although I am sure all will be well.  But.  What you really need to know and if you are like me probably hadn’t thought about is…

  1.  Uniform lists.  They go on and on and on.  Surely half the stuff on the list is optional, right?  Yes.  Some of it is.  And some of it isn’t.  So if you don’t want little Alice turning up on day 1 as the only child in a pink coat when everyone-else is in regulation school branded ones, do your homework!  Speak to someone who already has kids at the school (not in a stalker way, try and pick someone you know) in advance.  Also find out which items you can get from the high street rather than the exorbitant monopoly of the uniform shop (where our school socks cost a tenner a pair).  Also, unlike me, plan in advance so you are not in the shop every day for the first week of term picking up bits you had forgotten (why we have to have a branded swimming hat is anyone’s guess.  It’s not like my 4 and 5 year old are in the Olympics).  Don’t forget to name all uniform.  I started off with iron on labels (I’m not sewing them in!) and ended up with a Sharpie (man’s best friend).
  2. Ohhhh the class lists.  Offer up your name, email address and phone number to the class reps (see point 3 below) for coordination of coffee mornings, mums’ nights out, couples nights out etc. and prepare to be inundated.  You will be added to whatsapp groups, email groups, facebook groups where twenty parents plus may discuss what snack / lunch to send in, whether anyone knows of a local handyman, cleaner, architect and/or promote their own businesses (not all of which is the purpose of the group).  Fun times.  Even more fun, when you receive facebook “friend” requests from parents you don’t recognise, have never spoken to.
  3. Class Rep.  What a joy this role can be, says me, who has not and will do her best to never undertake.  Props to all those that do it.  It’s basically thankless.  You are an admin monkey organising coffee mornings, mums’ nights, couples nights, and teachers’ gifts via the class kitty (see point 4 below).  If you step up, hats off to you.  People tend to be vociferous (mostly behind said Reps’ back) about the lack of organisation, inconvenience of dates selected for socials, inappropriateness or insufficiency of gift for teacher but not enough to step up and actually volunteer to do it (ahem).  On the upside you might get a gift voucher or a nice bar of soap as a thank you at the end of the year.
  4. Class Kitty.  Going rates for this will vary from school to school and class to class.  For us the donation requested is £25-30.  Purpose of the kitty is primarily to buy Teacher and Teaching Assistant Christmas presents, birthday presents, end of year gift and “The Unforeseen”.  What is The Unforeseen I hear you ask?  Again it varies from class to class but is usually it is a gift for things like if a mum in the class has a baby.  In previous years flowers have been offered up to mums’ going through a hard time (operations and divorces) although again, beware, there is bound to be inconsistency which does not go down well.  Great, I thought, quids in I don’t need to choose gifts as the kitty has it covered.  Wrong.  I was the only Mofo up in there at Christmas dropping OneHalf off without a gift.  As well as class kitty most parents will buy gifts for teachers at Christmas, Easter and end of year.  This again varies from class to class but some have seen Jo Malone hampers being handled over, making the bottle of wine look a bit paltry.  Don’t get into it.  Do what you are comfortable with and don’t get sucked into “well X brought in a bottle of Crystal” ok, I made the Crystal bit up, if that were true I may take up teaching… .    And I have it on good authority it makes no difference to how your child is treated.
  5. The playdates.  Playdates are a great way to get to know other mums and for the kids to spend time with friends (mine behave better around other people  discipline is very much  “OneHalf, darling, that’s not kind, please don’t do that” in a very middle class mum voice).  Some folks work their way through the class list on playdates.  Sadly / fortunately I do not have the time or inclination, but will do playdates with those who my kids are friends with and/or the mums are cool.  No mum wants to spend their free time on a playdate talking about the weather, school uniform etc. much better you can have a laugh.  Trust me, TwoHalves come back from school / camp and suggest playdates with kids I have never heard of and it feels like mum blind date sending the text out.   Then there is also the etiquette issue, what does one bring to a playdate?  Popular choices are cupcakes, chocolate and biscuits (yum!).  What to cook on a playdate?  As one child told OneHalf my pasta was too squishy (no I didn’t take offence by the words of a 4 year old, much. Al dente my f*****g ar*e)  I now try not to cook and stick to healthy options like chicken goujons, pizza and garlic bread.
  6. Pick up and drop off.  Parking is a nightmare but do not, I repeat, do not F bomb at other parents in the car park.  Just.  Not.  Cool.  And no, I didn’t do this!  Also, depending on where you have to wait cue awkward queue.  When little Alice starts school and you are new to the school, you may not be prepared for the mum cliques.  As I stood awkwardly waiting to collect OneHalf, sometimes the mums in front and/or behind would be fully engaged in conversation / sometimes talk over me (piggy in the f*cking middle).  Totes #awks.  I would half smile like an idiot as if I don’t I suffer from full on RBF (resting b*tch face) and look like I am about to kill someone.  I noticed a natural split in one of our groups.  The blonds vs the brunettes.  So I dyed my hair blond to transition (kidding, I did dye my hair but not for that!).  Think Mean Girls but with lots of friendly mums thrown in, you just have to figure which are which.
  7. The Mums.  There are lots of different mums with lots of different parenting styles.  There is Tiger Mum (also known as Helicopter Mum) who will sneak a look into your kids’ book bag on a playdate to see what reading they are doing / ask them lots of questions about “learning” your kids do at home (errr none in our case, other than set homework!) and then your kid will come and tell you.  Busted.  They may challenge the teacher to increase the kid’s reading, maths levels or move them into higher sets.  They will have their kids doing every single extra curricular activity under the sun, gym, tennis, football, playball, rugby, swimming, acting, dancing, piano, cello, violin, and probably chess too.  What they don’t realise is the poor kid is so tired, they are struggling during the day at school.  Am I just saying this because I am too lazy to taxi my kids to a million activities?  Probably.    There is Chaos Mum.  Chaos Mum has the best intentions but is totally disorganised.  Forgetting that it is mufty day and sending the kid in in school uniform, sending whatsapps at 11.30pm as she can’t remember whether the games kit needs to go in the next day, triple booking playdates and doing the reading homework in the car before drop off.  Traits of Chaos Mum is she often has wet hair or hair tied in a bun / plait and is always late / rushing.  Chaos Mum would love to be a little bit more like Tiger Mum but just doesn’t have the time (I know which one I am… and those who see me at drop off will also know!).
  8. The Shows.  There will be Harvest Festivals, Christmas Plays, Easter Shows, Summer Shows, Grandparents’ Shows.  All sorts of show tings agwan.  The letter may state only two adults per child may attend the show (we followed this rule when OneHalf was Mary in the Nativity).  Bollocks!  People bring grandparents, nannies, aunts, uncles. So.  When Little Alice is Mary, you do your thing!  You may also be told not to take photos / video.  Bollocks!  The number of DSLRs up in there is crazy (I may or may not have been concealing one in a large handbag) as long as you are only getting photos of your own kid (your friends’ kids with your friend’s permission) you should be safe.  Doors open at 12.45.  Great, I will go home, have breakfast and lunch and come back “early” at 12.30 to get a good seat.  Bollocks!  People start queueing at 9.30.  To be honest, TwoHalves and/or Little Alice (like every other child) will only have a line or two so entirely your choice whether the queue is worth it.
  9. Sports Day.  Another opportunity to come and watch Little Alice thrive.  Unlike some parents we did not pre-train OneHalf who decided to walk most of his races while looking over and laughing at us.  No he did not win gold, silver or bronze but he was very happy, and so were we.  His Sister, every so slightly more competitive (no idea where she gets that from) stormed her obstacle race and despite “medalling” the teacher did not see her finish and awarded the second place to another child (I had seen this but said nothing, she then raised it with me).  She had won another race but despite that wanted me to go and talk to the teacher to explain she should have got second place in the other race.   Did I go?  No I bloody didn’t.  It’s Sports Day for kids people, get a grip!
  10. The Kids.  Little Alice will be an endless source of amusement.  She will come home and tell you which child pooed in the swimming pool, which child dropped an F bomb in class and so and so forth.  Enjoy!  But just remember, they are all kids.  So listen to Little Alice but try not to repeat it to other folks.  As if that’s what she’s telling you.. what’s Little Jonny saying to his mum about Little Alice!?

 

Some of the above may have been embellished for your amusement but is somewhat based on factsish.  

 

TwoHalvesandMe

xoxo

 

Ramadan: The Non #Hanger Games Day 1

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Ramadan Diaries.

 

Day 1day 1

Woke up at 2.18am (I’m a precise mofo like that, mofo is technically not swearing, right!?).  Had a hayfever tablet for breakfast #winning.  Day started reasonably well, until the wifi went down, typically on a day I had shed loads of work to do.  Usually that would be an excuse to gorge on cake and grab a coffee.  But how weird would I look popping in to Starbucks to use the wifi, buying some drink or food and not actually eating it!?  So I headed to the village (not actually a village as it has a Starbucks, but hey ho) and pulled in a favour to use wifi elsewhere.  No problem.

Worked.  Hit the supermarket to pick up some essentials, bread, mouthwash (the infamous Ramadan breath),  picked the kids up. Did homework (theirs, not mine).  Put kids to bed, had a nap and woke up at 9pm for dinner.

All good until, I need to send an email.  As I head to the High Street at 10.30pm in my pjs (to send said email) I start to wonder if I could pop in to the supermarket to pick up cookies in mismatched pjs…   I decide against it and just send the email.  Driving back, some random man (see, I’m trying not to swear) decides to drive right up to my bumper behind me.  Thanks mate, I have your reg GU64 H… and why would you drive like a bleep when you know we are likely to end up living close by, indeed you live on the road behind me…  I appreciated the one finger salute in your rear view mirror, as I indicated by putting the headlights on full beam🙂   I’m not sure that truly reflects the intention of the month, so I will try again tomorrow.

 

 

The month ahead…

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Ramadan is well and truly knocking on the door.  In just a handful of days, its presence will infiltrate the daily lives of millions of Muslims worldwide.  We don’t know how many days exactly as it depends on the lunar calendar so we will only find out on Sunday night whether it will start on Monday.

As one of the pillars of Islam, many Muslims (including those who are somewhat unorthadox the rest of the year) will join in fasting for a chance to redeem themselves.  I grew up in a pretty relaxed home, well relaxed when it came to practising religion, pretty tense otherwise(!) where fasting was not consistently on the agenda, nor was praying although the odd “lock in” (Eastenders style) was quite popular.  As I went to university and my friends were observing Ramadan I started to join in fasting more consistently, although it was only when my sister pointed out the irony of breaking my fast with non halal chicken that I also started to try to avoid certain other prohibited things during the month.  Also when I was at University and Law School about a century and a half ago, Ramadan was in Winter so I wouldn’t eat during daylight which was about 7am to 4pm, not too tough.  Now, it is in Summer which means the days of fasting are much longer and for some UK participants it will mean approximately 20 hours of nil by mouth.

Each year Mr.TwoHalves and I get asked similar questions, so hopefully this will help!

  1. We don’t eat or drink during daylight.
  2. Not even water.
  3. Or sweets or chewing gum (apparently some fasts you can have boiled sweets as a source of energy, Ramadan does not allow this).
  4. Or smoke.
  5. Or medicine.  If you need meds, you don’t fast.
  6. Children (pre pubescent), ill people, women at a particular time of the month (so yep, everyone knows when you are “on”…) do not need to fast (although if the illness is temporary or its your time of the month you should make the fasts up at a later date, reasonably soon after Ramadan so I guess you shouldn’t wait for Winter).
  7. There’s no intimate kissing or errr other stuff during daylight (most people who’ve been married a while, I’m sure that’s no problem!).
  8. It lasts for 29 or 30 days, again, we don’t know exactly how long until the night before as it depends when the new moon is sighted.
  9. We don’t stay up all night eating or stuff our faces.  Generally my stomach shrinks so I get full up quickly.
  10. I do lose a bit of weight (win!) but then put it on pretty soon after Ramadan has finished.
  11. How do we do it?  We just do. It’s only a month and we see it as an opportunity to focus, rebalance, detox physically and spiritually(!).
  12. We might not talk much as without food and drink our breath is really bad (TMI) so if we cover our mouths when we talk or say little, count it as a blessing!
  13. We don’t mind people eating or drinking around us, but we might not come out for lunch or dinner(!)
  14. Yes we could become nocturnal if we didn’t have jobs, kids to take to school, and also it would defeat the point somewhat!
  15. We know when it’s dark as although the text suggests it’s when you can no longer distinguish between a white and a black thread, we use a calendar that tells us the exact minute of end of the fast (it changes by a minute or two most days during the month).

And personally, I find it quite refreshing in today’s gluttonous society to feel hunger once in a while.  It’s also a month of contemplation as much as restraint, and a time to try to focus on being a better person (more kindness, less gossiping, more charity, less back biting, more prayer, less swearing… the swearing bit is quite a challenge for me!)…

If you fancy trying it out, feel free to see how long you can fast for (half a day or full day).  We’ve had plenty of friends try it just to experience it.    Let us know how you get on!

 

TwoHalvesandMe xoxo

 

 

 

Fera 2.0

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Mr.TwoHalves and I had such a fab time at Fera, Claridges last time, we thought we would head back.  Photo credit above to Mr.TwoHalves, I asked him to take a picture and “get the Claridges bit in” was slightly miffed when he cut me out…

As we drove into Town aka London if you don’t know you’d better get to know(!)  with TwoHalves running our poor babysitter ragged tucked up in bed kid free time loomed.

Passing by the obligatory very understated gold plated cars (I’ve no idea what they are, I’m a girl, I go by the colour.  There were two – one sporty one and one that looked like an old man would drive, if it wasn’t gold.  Check out our insta if you haven’t a clue WTAF I am on about) parked outside of a Mayfair casino, natch. we parked up.

As I crossed the road a moron in a black 4×4 (again don’t ask me what, I don’t bloody know) nearly ran us over as he was too busy texting as he drove, of course, I schooled him pointing my finger crossly (I fucking hate the word “cross” btw) as Mr.TwoHalves cooly observed it was an England Rugby player.  I don’t watch rugby, I’ve no idea, but he shouldn’t bloody text and drive almost running people over.  I do suspect he was busy texting his agent to get the Paps on standby as they seemed to be out in force.  Anyhow, I digress (as is often the way)!

We dodged the Paps and headed into Claridges.

Once again, the beautiful setting did not disappoint.  Didn’t want people to think I was stalking them, so here is a lovely pic of the ceiling and indoor tree (a nod to the essence of nature).

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We were treated to three courses of absolutely amazing food which was presented beautifully.  See?  Almost too pretty to eat.  Especially the amuse bouche (no silly jokes here…).  It’s clearly no joke getting a Michelin star, even if I did refer to Seth Rogan instead of Simon Rogan which Mr.TwoHalves found hilarious.

If you fancy giving Fera a try, keep an eye on OpenTable which sometimes has some fab offers (3 courses plus a glass of champagne for £39 or 5 course tasting menu and glass of champagne for £75).

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What we wore:

Me:

Markus Lupfer dress

Chanel handbag

Gina shoes

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Mr.TwoHalves

Burberry checked shirt

Jeans

Toms

 

TwoHalvesandMe xoxo

Open Letter… Dear “Mrs C”

It seems like I barely wrote the “Life is Nuts” post and within the last month or so, we’ve had more news which drives the Open Letter below.  Warning, some of the language may be offensive.  Potty mouth as no swearing in front of the kids so have to let it out somewhere(!) #sorrynotsorry

No-Parking

Dear Lady at the Doctor’s… Let’s call you Mrs C (wonder what “C” could stand for…)

 

Dear Mrs C,

You don’t know me.  I have two children who go to the school near the surgery.  As parents, we are inundated with notifications about car parking.  Particularly, about not parking in the allocated surgery spaces.  As a lawyer, and all round rule abider most of the time, I get frustrated when other parents park in the allocated surgery spaces, especially when they park their Chelsea Tractor (nothing wrong with them, I have one that I can just about drive) across two spaces (not even slightly over, I’m talking 45 degrees!).  I get annoyed when people at the supermarket park in parent and child spaces when they don’t have children with them or like my mother has a twenty plus year old with her and insists on using the space saying that her child is a “child”… even when there are multiple parent child spaces available.  I get irked when people park in disabled spaces.

So, believe me, when I say I ONLY ever park in the allocated spaces when I am visiting the surgery.  And, yesterday, I was visiting the surgery immediately before collecting my kids from school.  I’m a mum, just like you.  I saw your toddler in tow heading to the Doctor’s and I know you must be stressed because chances are either one of you is ill or you are in for jabs (and no-one likes a needle).   So when you snidely barked at me “You shouldn’t park there, it’s for the doctors’” I replied, “I’ve been to the Doctor’s, actually”.  But you didn’t care.  You made your snide remark and walked away, refusing to listen to me.  That wound me up, not going to lie, I was fuming.  I pulled out the white envelope I had just collected from the Doctor’s and waved it at you so you could see.  I had evidence of my visit.  You didn’t even turn to look.  You’d made your little remark and off you toddled, probably feeling very smug and self-righteous, so much so that you didn’t even want to hear the other side.

I put the kids’ bags in the car.  My heart was racing.  In that little white envelope lies two referral letters.  One for my son who we believe is allergic to nuts (his sister had anaphylaxis last year from peanut crisps, thanks “mum”).  One for my daughter.  You have a daughter, she looked cute as she toddled. Mine is a bit older, she’s 5 now.  When she was 1 she was diagnosed with a nut allergy.  When she was 4 she was diagnosed with a shellfish allergy.  Last year, she had anaphylaxis which we have only just started to come to terms with.  Each day, we painstakingly check labels, ask in restaurants.  Each day, we worry, for her future.  We’ve trained her to call an ambulance, to say “ana-fe-lax-is”, to administer an epipen.  That’s my daughter.

A month ago, we had some test results to say she also has a latex allergy.  Fuck anyone that wants to make a “condom” joke right about now.  Ok, I thought, it’s in medical gloves, the obvious (condoms), balloons and as I searched online I found it can be in plasters, swimming hats and goggles (yesterday, before your remark I had called the manufacturers to check whether the brand of hat and goggles she uses has latex in), toys, carpets, clothing, shoes, the list goes on….. I also discovered that latex allergy sufferers have increased risks of being allergic to kiwi, chestnut, bananas and then possibly also to tomatoes, onions, potatoes, strawberries, pineapple, mangoes… the list goes on.  In that white envelope that I brandished like a woman possessed contained my daughter’s referral letter to a specialist because we have been told she has this allergy but no one could see us to explain what the actual fuck any of this means until mid July (that’s three long months).

You made your remark and walked on.  You weren’t to know that just half an hour earlier I had called the soft play where she was due to go to a birthday party straight after school and discovered she couldn’t go because it is made of latex amongst other things.  You weren’t to know that I grappled with whether to take her to the party and have her watch her brother and all of her friends playing from the sidelines or to last minute change the plan without knowing how upset she might or might not be (did I mention, she is 5!?) and having to last minute disappoint the mum planning the party (I know how tight and tricky managing numbers are).

So when I said I had just been the doctor’s you could have acknowledged.  You should have acknowledged.  I parked in the right place.  By this point, my heart was racing.  I was furious.  I put the kids’ bags in the car and walked into the surgery.  Raging.  What I wanted to say was “… on reflection best I don’t write that here.  What I said was “Excuse me, that was very rude (how politely British of me!?).  I had been to the surgery, I told you.  You can ask the Receptionist.  I was here 10 minutes ago and then I went to pick the kids up”.  Your response, “Well you shouldn’t leave the car for 10 minutes”.  Really?  10 minutes?  So you don’t park in Waitrose and pop to Starbucks for a coffee ever?  How lovely it must be in your Ivory Tower.  Rather than rip your head off, I told you – you were being ridiculous and walked away.  I put the kids in the car and cried quietly as the kids’ bubbled with excitement about the party they weren’t going to and all of the fun they had had at school.

I’d like to say that’s ok, you weren’t to know.  You weren’t to know we have no idea how to manage this latest allergy, that we are on edge waiting for the specialist appointment, that we worry. Every.Single.Day. about what might happen, about what latex is in, about what allergy she may have next and that my trip to the Doctor’s, I believe, certainly warrants parking there.  But instead, to you, what I will say is next time, if you want to bark rudely at someone, at least listen to their reply.

And, by the way, your shoes were fucking ugly.

 

TwoHalvesandMe xoxo

Fashion 4 Good

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Fashion 4 Good is the event to have in your diaries, this year (Sat 21st May)!  An annual event with good form (it has been running since 2011) and, an opportunity to support local charities (in Surrey).  Previous years have seen a wealth of celebrity guests and local supporters come out in force to support, and to enjoy, Fashion 4 Good and I’m not talking Patsy and Edina.

This year’s event promises to be no exception.  Elmbridge locals are working tirelessly (mainly local mums) and the models are booked, the seriously amazing (and enviable) designer clothes are being laid out, the mouth watering menu is finalised and of course, the bar is being stocked… don’t miss out!

This year, Oasis, Reeds Foundation, Harrison’s Fund and the Royal Marsden will benefit from the sums raised at this prestigious event.  Throughout the evening, there will be a silent auction as well as a raffle for some very exclusive prizes, such as a holiday in Barbados, a vacay in Portugal, and a little break in Bordeaux… and if you don’t like holidays (weirdo!) there are also tickets to RiRi (practice you twerking in advance),  US Masters tickets (that’s golf for those of you that no nothing about sport, like me), a cocktail night, a Summer drama course for your budding drama queen or king (come on, it’s got to be priceless just getting your little Prince or Princess out of the house for a week, those holidays are looooong) and many many more.

Vanilla Bean will be providing a four course meal and there will be an unlimited bar (including cocktails) for 350 lucky attendees!  Big shout out to each of the table sponsors who are providing a super sized cocktail and further support.  Be warned, there might be a photo booth (you can thank Hawksman for that) which may be used in evidence…

Personally, I am seriously excited about the catwalk show.  I will ignore the fact that the models are 5”9 and a size 6 (UK) as I tuck into some lovely food and can’t wait to see the collection which will feature British luxury leather brand Richards Radcliffe, as well as some exceptional designer pieces from local boutiques including Club (even the name is cool which carries lines by the awesome Matthew Williamson, Isabel Marrant, Zoe Karsen Victoria Beckham and TBags… wish I’d known about the latter before ordering from the States and being whacked for heavy customs charges!), Bernard Boutique (which carries soooo many of my fave designers most of whom happen to begin with “M”… Alexander Wang,  Markus Lupfer, Mary Katrantzou (don’t ask me to pronounce it), Maison Margiela, MSGM,  Sam Edelman, the list goes on….)  Questa and Evie Loves Toast.

Tickets are almost sold out, so if you haven’t got one yet – be quick (less than 50 left)!  More information and ticket purchase at: http://www.fashion4good.co.uk

 

TwoHalvesandMe xoxo

 

 

Dear Me…

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It’s been a busy few weeks for TwoHalvesandMe with lots going on.  It’s also been a bit of a time for reflection.  I started to think about what I would tell my younger self, I know you’d think being busy How The Actual F… do I have time?!  and I think it would be a little something like this…

Dear Me,

Yoyo What Up?  I know you’re healthy and reasonably happy, these are things that are most valuable.  I know, right now, you think passing exams and cementing a career are fundamentals, and they will help you, but don’t forget the little pleasures in life.  Also…

  1.  Your parents know you rolled your skirt up when you get on the bus, and rolled it down when you get off.  You’re fooling no-one.  Your mum is also reading your diary and secretly saving and reading your MSN conversations.
  2. Programming Sisqo’s Thong Song onto your Sony Ericsson mobile as a ring tone. Is. Just. Not. Cool.
  3. Despite being skinny, sparrow legs as people once referred to you, your stomach is not bloated.
  4. Sinking sambuca shots into your friend’s beer, is plain unkind.
  5. You cannot dance like Beyonce, but it doesn’t matter.  Carry on thinking you can and have a damn good time!
  6. You do have to kiss a lot of frogs to find that Prince.  Sorry Mr.TwoHalves(!)  You will get married, you will have kids.  Stop flipping out about it.  It will happen when you least expect it and have stopped obsessing.
  7. That acne, like the hypercolour t shirts and cycling shorts, shall pass.
  8. Be more selfish.
  9. The world can be very unfair, deal with it.
  10. Some people will let you down (sometimes repeatedly), don’t let that stop you from trusting others but maybe apply a 3 strike rule to the repeat offenders.
  11. A can of full fat Coke and a 500g Dairy Milk chocolate bar is not dinner.
  12. It is important to acknowledge where you come from and what you’ve been through but that doesn’t define who you are.
  13. Put the tweezers down, those eyebrows won’t grow back.
  14. Play with the children while you can, otherwise they’ll write “Let me just…” on your gravestone.  Let me just finish the dinner, let me just load the dishwasher, let me just put the washing away… a messy house doesn’t matter.
  15. Instead of chilling and having fun you should spend a bit more attention to the coding course in St.Charles.  IT and Tech.  is gonna be HUGE.
  16. Keep enjoying those sunsets.
  17. You did the best you could, it was not your fault.  A child is a child is a child is a child.
  18. Don’t make the same mistakes you see of others.  Learn.  Be the best you can so you can sleep at night and know you’ve done the right thing.
  19. Just because someone might look at you like you are going to stab them in the eye with a fork when you unexpectedly start a conversation and compliment them, don’t stop.
  20. That bandana.  No.  Much as you think you are street, you grew up in the Home Counties, not the Bronx.  Peace Out. xxx

 

If you had the chance what would you write to your younger self.  Be it 5, 10, or 15 years ago?

TwoHalvesandMe

xoxo

 

Life is Nuts… Living with Anaphylaxis

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So it’s been a while since I have written, sorry.  But life has been quite “boring” don’t get me wrong, we have had our every day adventures but those of you that know me, know, I’m not one to blog about the latest cafe opening, kids’ toys or the Whopper Junior with Cheese Avocado I’ve had for lunch (nothing wrong with it for those that do, but just not my style).

Instead, I have been quietly considering whether or not I’m ready to go there with this post, and after almost a year, I’m almost ready as ready as I’ll ever be.  OneHalf was diagnosed with a nut allergy when she was one.  It was no biggie, aside from educating our families (old school parents who think they know best and basically ignore everything we say while smiling and nodding at us).

The reason she was diagnosed was because the first time she had a bite of my peanut butter on toast she had a rash around her mouth, but it subsided within half an hour or so.  The second time, she had a rash that spread from her mouth to her neck and chest, runny nose and cough.  The hospital did a skin prick test, where they place a tiny amount of various nut oil(s) on her wrist and assess the reactions. The results were in.  She was allergic to nuts (as we had suspected).  We were told to avoid all nuts and to return for annual testing, which we duly did.  The nursery was great and took our concerns with due regard.  My husband’s Our parents, on the other hand, seemed to think that we had constructed this fantasy allergy and would try and hide biscuits in other containers to conceal the fact they may contain nuts.  I had to be on my guard.  I circulated the health plan which set out what to do, if she accidentally ate nuts.  As a good lawyer concerned mother I constructed a draft guideline of what to do while she was in your care.  I guess no-one actually read it.

Years passed.  Each time we went to a friend’s or family member’s house for lunch I carefully read the packets of any pre prepared food (sometimes digging them out of the bin).  I have spent countless hours in Sainsbury’s supermarket reading food labels (which could be a damned sight better FSA).  Every time we are at a restaurant we have run through the checklist as to ingredients and cross contamination risks.  All of this, not knowing, how mild or bad, her reactions may be.  It could be a rash and runny nose, it could be anaphylaxis, where her lips and tongue could swell, throat could tighten and she would be unable to breathe.  We just didn’t know.  Until we did.

In May, last year, we stayed at my parent’s house.  As my mother was going through a hard time with her sister-in-law, I stayed up late chewing the fat.  Mr.TwoHalves was off on a work jolly trip in Barcelona.  The next day, the kids were up early. On 3 hours sleep, I woke, got them breakfast, played.  Later that afternoon, my mum said to me to have a nap.  As any mum knows, the idea of a nap (especially on 3-4 hours sleep) is bliss.  I snuggled into bed and was asleep in 5 minutes.  Less than 20 minutes later, the house phone rang and woke me.  No matter, I thought, and returned to snooze.  2 minutes and it rang again “FFS” I thought, and again snuggled in.  The third time it rang a minute or so later, “This is a sign from God” I thought, clearly I am not meant to be sleeping.  I dragged my lazy sorry ass out of bed bypassing OneHalf in the bathroom who appeared to be at the sink (washing her hands as she is Ob.Sessed.  I thought) to the lounge.  My mum, on the phone to a friend, self absorbed discussing the drama of the sister-in-law.  As I began to sit on the sofa I saw a bowl of familiar looking crisps, I popped one in my mouth.  Peanut crisps.

“OneHalf” I screamed (ok, not really “OneHalf as that is obviously not her real name).  No response.  Again, I screamed, and she came in.  A skinny four and a half year old scratching at her tongue.  “Did you eat these?” I asked.  “Yes, Nanny gave them to me.”  “What are you doing in the bathroom?”  “Washing my mouth, because my tongue itches”.  I ran to my handbag and pulled out the anti-histamine, hoping that would suffice, the epipens were there too.  Just.  In.  Case.  My mum, in the lounge whilst all this was going on, continued the conversation with her friend about her sister-in-law.  “I need a medicine spoon”, I rudely interrupted her flow.  She came back with a tea spoon, “No, I need a medicine spoon”, she continued to chat to her friend.  OneHalf looked up at me with her huge dark brown (ironically almond shaped) eyes, “I asked if it had nuts in”, she said, looking worried.  It had been a long standing “joke” that OneHalf was so au fait with her allergy she would ask if a packet of crisps or some fruit had nuts in.  In a second, my heart broke.

After she’d had the anti-histamine I watched her like a hawk.  Within seconds, her lips looked plumper and I called the emergency services.  Should I use the epipen?  The emergency services said to use it if she was struggling to breathe, she wasn’t.  Within minutes a paramedic turned up. He took the epipen and was about to use it when a second ambulance arrived, and shortly after, a third.  They didn’t use the epipen but strapped her into the ambulance and we set off to hospital.  Along the way, I tried to laugh and joke with OneHalf to distract her from the clip on her toe measuring her oxygen and the paramedic looking over her.  Within ten minutes she was scratching like mad.  Her skin, indescribable.  The closest thing I can say, is it looked like a reptile, scaly.  And so itchy.  She was coughing (struggling to breathe) and I could see on the monitor her oxygen level dropping.  The oxygen mask was fixed to her face.  Her eyes, puffed up, in an instant.  The blue lights and sirens on the ambulance were switched on (“because she’s so itchy. nothing to worry about”, yeah right).

As we flew past the traffic, and people on the street, I saw the looks of bypassers at the ambulance storming by.  My heart was crushed.  I tried to distract OneHalf with stories of how we were passing my old school.  She was in agony.  Her face ballooned, angry, red, swollen.  Her skin, taken over, my an impassioned diseased looking rash.  I heard the paramedics call ahead to the hospital with their ETA and “anaphylaxis” diagnosis.  This had been what our nightmares were made of. I smiled at OneHalf telling her we were nearly there and all would be ok.  In reality, I was churning, wondering, was my baby going to make it.  I’m not a panicker, I have already had to undertake the Heimlich (with success, thank God).  But, this time, I just didn’t know where we were going with this.

We arrived at the hospital, pediatrician consultant and A&E consultant on stand by.  She was rushed into the cubicle, and attended to immediately.  When the nurse asked me if I wanted a drink, the tears filled my eyes,  but I couldn’t let OneHalf see I was concerned.  Shortly after the medicine, my mum arrived with the OtherHalf.  “Don’t worry” I told her, “It’s not your fault”, in my head I thought otherwise, but didn’t want to cause offence, even though my own baby lay like a damaged doll in an adult sized bed, life threatened.

Eventually the meds kicked in, and we were allowed home.  I took OneHalf, tucked her and the OtherHalf into bed and while Mr.TwoHalves headed home, I sobbed.  Loud, unadulterated sobs.  I cried for what my baby had been through.  I cried for the fears I face (and she doesn’t yet know but will face in future).  I cried for the fact that most girls look forward to a first kiss, but she will always have to be ever vigilant to make sure no adolescent fucker chancer has had a chicken satay or Snickers before their night out.

For everyone that knows OneHalf, they know, her allergies (because to top it off she developed a shellfish allergy within a week of Mr.TwoHalves last June which is now worse than her nut allergy) do not define her.  She is an amazing  (sometimes, very annoying!), independent, strong, kind little girl (ok I’m biased).  Not a day goes by where she, or I, do not contemplate her allergy (restaurants, friend’s houses, lunch boxes)… and now it looks like the OtherHalf has also developed a nut allergy, eating out can be a laborious process.  At the weekend, we went to Wagamamas and with the Manager in toe it took almost half an hour to order our food (no nuts, no shellfish, no pork)… but I would rather that and have a safe, happy, little family any day of the week.

If I had my time again I should and would have used the epipen.  If someone close to you has an allergy that warrants an epipen, practice using it (an expired one or trial one) on a piece of fruit like an orange and when the time comes, if it crosses your mind that you need to use it, then you probably do.  Next time, I certainly won’t think twice.

The thing with these dreaded allergies is, as we found out the hard way, you just never know what the next reaction will be.  So next time, someone mentions they have a nut, shellfish, kiwi, strawberry, latex,. gluten, milk, the list goes on…. allergy, please be patient. Their life, may be, well and truly, in your hands.

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Lots of love,

TwoHalvesandMe

 

xoxo