Archive of ‘Life in the Prab Lane’ category

Word! Freedom Is…

I did something profound and veritably life-changing the other week.  By doing it, I think I may have discovered what freedom is!

Well alright life-changing may be a stretch but honestly, the sense of liberation that this one act has given me is simply incredible. The freedom is on a mental level and also on a practical level in terms of how I manage my days. That’s enough for me! Honeslty, I’ve been walking around grinning like the cheshire cat the last fortnight because of it and I highly recommend it.

What is she talking about this time?

freedom is deleting apps from your phone

 

It was time to make a change in my life.

What is it about a New Year that makes us sit up and reevaluate our life, ourselves etc? I don’t know but I’m so glad my phone addiction is one area I’ve managed to set a goal that I already put into place on January 2nd. So far, I’m sticking to it! I feel like I checked into Phone Addicts Anonymous or something!

I’m trying to make my Words of Wisdom posts shorter when they include a vlog as I don’t think it’s fair to make you read a long post and THEN ‘make’ you watch a video at the end of it! (See how good I am to you?)

So without any further ado, here is my first vlog of 2017 where I explain what freedom is for me (with apparently unkempt hair which I swear I HAD brushed before shooting the vlog!).

If that doesn’t work, then try this link.

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2016: Fantastic wins, sad times & great big mistakes

It’s the last week of 2016, we’re about to usher in a new year so it’s time for the Absolutely Prabulous annual review.

Every year has its ups and downs; this one has been no exception.  2015 was just damned awful on the personal front; a seemingly never ending storm.  When I first started working on this post a few days ago, the rest of that previous sentence went: “but I have to say I’m in a better frame of mind writing this year’s retrospective than I was last year.”  I’ll be honest, with the recent death of George Michael which prompted me to write this tribute (and the death of Carrie Fisher days later), I can’t say I’m pouring the bubbles as I now finish it.   Nevertheless, 2016 has been alright, with some great bits, some sad bits, some challenging bits and some continuing personal issues that remain unresolved. That’s life, though, right? How can anyone have 365 perfect days?

So grab yourself a coffee (or something more interesting), pull up a chair and join me while I look at the fantastic wins, sad times and bloody great big mistakes of 2016 (there’s even a video at the end if you want to skip straight to that).

 

2016 was the year when I opened up about my failings as a mother

I mean properly opened up (well as much as I could without making you totally hate me).  My usual tendency is to evade serious issues and fluff over my hardly expert parenting via the use of comedy .  Not this time.  Yet to my amazement, instead of the trolls lining up to rip chunks out of me, reader after reader identified with what I wrote.

 

And it was the year I almost shared a bed with a total stranger during my first ever blog event

Okay, not quite a total stranger; it was Helen of Just Saying Mum, whose blog I loved from the moment I came across it.  But we’d never actually met in real life. Come June, I’d left it so late to book accommodation for my two day attendance at #BML16 that I couldn’t find any single rooms, so I persuaded Helen to share a double room. So basically what I’m saying is I asked someone I’d met online to sleep with me. In the end, she went down with flu (so the she says ha ha).

 

2016 was the year my family was at the receiving end of immense joy and utter sadness.

A close family member had the most surprising and happy news…followed all too quickly by terrible unexpected tragedy which many of us are still trying to process. Life is cruel.  Exactly four weeks after the tragedy, I became an aunt again as another close family member had their second child.  One life leaves, another arrives…

Meanwhile, my parents celebrated 50, yes FIFTY years of marriage. Oh and my husband got even thinner.

 

And it was the year I squeezed my ‘Not 21 heck it’s not even 30 anymore’ bum into skinny white jeans in the worst wardrobe decision. Of. My. Life.

This is actually still beyond my own comprehension.  When getting dressed shortly before the Brilliance in Blogging awards back in June, I stood in front of the mirror in a lovely white top and white lace skirt, had a wave of self doubt about ‘overdoing it’ and promptly took them off.  What did I put on instead?  One of my favourite summery blouses (nothing wrong there) and heaven help me (and anyone who had the misfortune to see this) the TIGHTEST white jeans you’ve ever laid eyes on.  In my defence, I’d fast forwarded to the mental image of me sat at the table bravely clapping for the Unmumsy Mum or one of the other worthy finalists who I was convinced would win, looking ridiculous in my “Oscars” outfit and so I decided to tone things down a bit.  Forcing my middle-aged bum into those white trousers was the opposite of toning things down.  I realise that now. The thing is I’m used to seeing myself from the front (as in the title photo for this post), as opposed to from behind so I had nooooo idea how bad things had got ‘back there’.  The lesson here is: better to overdress and conceal your arse than try the understated look and end up looking worse.  The skinny jeans have been confined to the back of the wardrobe and I’ve put the sorry episode behind me, excuse the pun.  (But you can catch my epic fail on YouTube as it was videoed by New Mum Online.)

 

2016 was the year where I realised that just because Hubster was amazingly supportive of me writing this deeply personal post, it doesn’t mean…

…any of the issues have actually been fixed.

 

And the year when I talked as candidly as I could about about growing old

which was a big deal for me. Oh look, a woman moaning talking about ageing for once. Yes, I’m a cliche.  However, it’s not something I’d written about on here.  I’ve been quite coy about divulging my age partly because most of my blogging peers are WAY younger than me and I already feel like a dinosaur next to all these younguns on their first pregnancies without yelling my age all over Prabulous town.  I also for some daft reason, felt it would hold me back in some way from achieving my blog goals.  Anyway, bottom line, I wrote about it. Moving past my early 40’s wasn’t a problem.  Getting into my mid 40’s, I just accepted that. But the realisation that my last birthday officially placed me in my late 40’s was awful. The body greeting me in the mirror these days is definitely not the toned one of my 20’s and I needed to describe how I feel (ok it wasn’t a totally serious post) as a form of rationalising and therapy.

 

2016 was the year when people lost their s**t because a mother showed her child some love with ‘that kiss’.

As a result, I lost my patience…feel free to click on this pic to read why:

How has it come to this title image of Prabs sitting on beach pondering

 

And it was the year they lost their damned minds voting a crap-talking, tantrum-throwing, narcissistic, racist, crass, misogynistic, tax-avoiding vagina-grabbing manchild into the Oval Office.

The Brits may have had Brex-shit but the Americans went bigger.

 

2016 was my annus most horribilis as I went ‘head to head’ with dreaded lice.

Yes, go ahead and chunder. I’m right there with you chundering myself. I cannot (it’s okay I will not in fact) describe the full horror of the lice plague that haunted my kids and me. Honestly, at one point, I thought I might have to set everyone’s hair on fire. A tad melodramatic? Er, actually nope.  You have no idea (because I meant what I said about not sharing the grizzly details) how long it went on for.  I wanted to submerge the entire flipping house in tea tree oil. And I came THIS close to treating the girls’ Barbies for it too. Hurl.

 

And the year we watched a LOT of films but also got off the sofa long enough to get a little bit fit:

When I wasn’t busy laughing along to Zootropolis, losing myself in the Spielberg triumph that is the BFG or feeling like a kid again watching Pete’s Dragon (what? you mean they also make films for grownups?) I got myself back running.  Man it’s good to be back! At one point, I wondered if I’d ever run again as I was off for over two years due to injury, following an incident that I’m still not brave enough to write about.  However, once the initial thrill of getting back to pounding the pavement subsided, the issue of actually fitting it in with blog, kids, house set in.  The challenge in 2017 will be setting and sticking to a consistent schedule that does not involve risky moves like putting the kids to bed and heading out in the dark for nighttime runs because it’s the only time I can fit them in.  I also managed to get the kids to Summer swim school, three times a week.  Go me. Seriously, I’m rubbish at doing anything three times a week.  I could hardly believe the progress they made.

Prabs' kids from the back at swimming class

 

2016 was the year when I got nominated for two blog awards, made the shortlist for both and somehow actually won one of them!

In case you don’t know – although this is less likely than the tooth fairy having Santa’s love child because I may possibly have mentioned it a ‘couple of times’ already – I won the Brilliance in Blogging Awards Best Writer category (you can watch my speech if you fancy). I do feel like a tool mentioning it again but it would be a bit odd doing an end of year retrospective and leaving it out as it was obviously a major highlight of my year and blogging career to date. (And let’s face it, probably the only time in my life I win something unless they start giving medals for the most prolific key loser so it needs a final nod before 2016 comes to an end.)

 

And the year I fought my fears and actually did things I never thought I’d do:

Launching my Laugh til you cry voyeuristic cringefest series that is the #OopsFiles series.
Yeah Baby. People had the mother of road trips, KEPT dropping their pants, suffered monumental toilet fails and somebody even got mistaken for a prostitute!  To think I was nervous nobody would be interested in featuring! I had no idea how shockingly hilarious the stories or how numerous the willing participants would be.  Thank you to everyone who’s helped make the #OopsFiles a corker and stay tuned for more hilarity in 2017.

Getting Out From Behind the Computer Screen and Getting in Front of the Camera!
This has been THE revelation of this year for me.  I still feel a bit odd saying it but I’m finally vlogging.  I’m very new to this gig and honestly don’t have a ‘strategy’ yet thanks to my trying not to overthink.  Funnily enough, being confronted with my voice and over-expressive collagen-starved face (linking back to the age thing), which were some of the things that put me off vlogging in the first place, has helped me accept who I am a bit more.  I’m ‘seeing’ myself properly for the first time and am learning to not to dislike the bits of me I’ve loathed for so long.  If it hadn’t been for my future sister-in-law who gave me the push (within just ten minutes of meeting me!), I wouldn’t be vlogging at all by the way.  There’s more! I’m teaming up with Just Saying Mum for a regular YouTube series #BloggersCafe which will be coming to a screen near you in 2017!

Cohosting a linky series
It sounds daft doesn’t it? But I’ve always been nervous about regularly hosting a linky for fear of some kind of perceived ‘failure’ or inability to commit. Luckily my #CandidCuddles partner Cuddle Fairy is an awesome co-host and had already built a lovely community when she hosted it solo for over a year so slotting in was super easy. Find the link ups to date here.

 

It was the year where terrorist acts, the plight of refugees and atrocities in war torn countries no longer seemed to shock us. 

Dare I say it, we’ve become complacent and sort of immune to the horror.

 

And of course, 2016 was the year where we learned you just don’t know when your number will be up…

Death after death of legend after legend shocked us and shocked us.  What a year.  The older you get, the more you realise life really is so very short.  My childhood faded further into the distance as the icons I grew up admiring left one by one. They were a personal inspiration to me for so many reasons:

Prince and Ali proving to this brown-skinned girl that skin colour doesn’t always have to hold you back.
Victoria Wood proving to this female that women ARE just as hilarious as men.
Ronnie Corbett proving to this petite thing that the shortest of people can reach the highest of heights.
Terry Wogan simply because I actually met him when I was seven years old and loved the man’s broadcasting style forever more

Prabs and Terry Wogan
David Bowie because…do I actually need a reason? (I did explain here though…)
And most recently, George Michael and Carrie Fisher as mentioned above.  I’ve actually had to amend that ‘most recently’ bit as the most recent death when I started writing this was that of the incredibly talented and often controversial writer AA Gill.  It’s been unreal.

 

Last but not least, 2016 is a year that I end wondering how I’m so blessed to have such loyal readers.

I’m more thankful than you can ever know. Without you, dear reader, there would be no point in me sitting here in the first place, at oh-my-gosh-is-that-the-time o’clock, writing about the year that has been.

So thank you so much for being here.  I wish you and yours health and happiness for 2017.  Here’s a little video from me to you. Mwah!

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15 Things I Want to Pass on From Three Years of Blogging

15-things-i-want-to-pass-on-from-blogging

 

Absolutely Prabulous, my Fourth Child is Three Years Old!

November is a mad month for me and my fam.  Two nephews’ birthdays, parents’ anniversary, two of my kids have birthdays three days apart (hail my legendary family planning skills NOT) and the day after the second of those birthdays, my blog has its birthday (or blogiversary as it’s known).  Now nature and biology are what they are; I couldn’t do an awful lot about my kids’ dates of birth once the baby-making deed was done. But quite why I chose to launch my blog the same week in which I am drowning in birthday organisation and my kitchen is covered in flour,sugar and eggs, I will never know.  Excuse me while I sit down.

Anyway, I Thought I’d Write a Blogiversary Post…

Now I’ve never written one of these before as it didn’t dawn on me to do so and frankly I wouldn’t think I have much to say.  However, I’ve noticed blogiversary posts here and there and it got me thinking that it would be a good idea to get a few thoughts down.  I mean surely  I’ve learned something right? So here you go, these are just fifteen of the many things I’ve learned in three years of blogging!

 

1) Almost Every Blogger Goes Through Blog Angst and Eventually Comes out the Other Side (one way or another)

Blog angst? I could write the book on it. Trying to do it all: write great content, build that  Faceberk/Twatter/Instaglam following, read a dozen posts on just one linky and comment my bits off to support my fellow bloggers (and maybe pick up a new follower) get published on other sites in the hope of traffic and backlink benefit, work with brands offering nice-to-have products and ambassadeurship opportunities, writing sponsored posts that don’t make me feel like I’m selling my soul, earning an income SOMEHOW out of the whole damned gig.  I could go on!    I’ve written about the whole blog/family/life balance thing in Confessions of a Guilty Blogger and I Love Blogging but I’ve Made a Decision.  What’s more, recently I read a cracking one by Squished Blueberries on this issue.  I still go through phases (frequent phases ha ha) of wondering what I’m doing but I think I’m more at peace now than I ever have been with my blog (my close blogging friends will probably laugh reading that bit).  I think more or less bloggers can be split into four categories:

Some bloggers lose themselves down a rabbit hole and give up altogether.
Some make their peace upon recognising the enormity of effort required and settle for doing what they can when they can.
Some decide what they want from blogging from the start and go after that.
Some have a laid back approach to the whole thing but end up being unexpectedly successful.

 

2) It’s okay to Write What People Want to Read but Don’t Forget to Write for Yourself Too

Now I know the super league élite will shake their heads at this.  Obviously, if your game plan from the word go is to build a highly-monetised blog with incredible monthly stats, this doesn’t apply. That game plan involves writing specific content in a calculated stye.  But I honestly believe it’s so important to write posts for you, posts that are straight from the heart whether they’re sensitive or controversial, content that says what you really feel rather than soulless words you’re typing just to be seen to have typed them, posts you simply have to share no matter if it’s only you and your mum reading them.  As the Glorious Life said recently (in a post about blogging) the one thing that you have is you.  Nobody can write what’s in your heart like you can, because it’s in your heart.  Nuff said.

 

3) It’s Fab to Win a Blog Award but Life Doesn’t Change Much and You Still Have to do the Laundry

A tongue in cheek one here!  Winning my BiBs award was the biggest highlight of this year.  I still smile about it. It was also an interesting lesson…I went through a lot of doubt wondering if every post I wrote had to be amazing after that.  I wouldn’t say I had any more brand approaches than those I was already receiving.  And rather annoyingly I still need to do  mum things. Pfft.

 

4) You Learn SO Much as a Blogger…but You’ll Never Know Everything

I often think I don’t know much about blogging, yet repeatedly there are examples of just how much I’ve learned in the last three years.  From building my site to how to get Faceberk to stop pulling the wrong images to SEO best practice to cross-posting to duplicate content penalties to photoshop to THIS! (<p>&nbsp;</p>) to plugins to DA’s to putting the right person at the front of a tweet to getting grips with YouTube to hashtags to the correct social media images sizes…the list goes on.  Yet despite knowing a crazy amount of stuff and being quite fluent in blog speak, it’s impossible to know everything. I can still spend hours trying to figure something technical out which once figured out, will then change some time later due to Google changing its rules or Faceberk messing around yet abloodygain with its algorithm or Instagram deciding it no longer allows this, that or the other.

 

5) Not Everybody Understands Reciprocity and at Some Point You Probably Will Experience a Bloggers Behaving Badly Incident

Yeah…I’ll let than one hang there in the air for a while and perhaps elaborate on that in the future. For the time being I’ll just say, be kind.  Good karma is…well exactly that. Good.   Sharing someone else’s post doesn’t take long and it makes them SO happy. Pay it forward.  The blogosphere is big enough; there is room for all of us. And when another blogger does you a kind deed, be it sharing a post with a big write up or just a simple RT, thank you goes a long way.  I know we all get busy doing life and sometimes the day/week gets away from us. But thank you takes seconds. Just saying.

 

6) Content Will Aways Win over Design but a Shiny Looking Blog Doesn’t Hurt!

Okay, we know it.  You can have the sexiest best designed blog everrrr. But if you’re not writing engaging/useful/moving/informative/relateable (pick your adjective of choice depending on what you’re all about) content that people want to read, then it really doesn’t matter how nice your blog looks, that reader ain’t staying.  However, just throwing in my AbPrab tuppence worth here, it doesn’t hurt to have a well designed blog that is easy on the eye. (Ignore the design of mine, it’s driving me nuts after three years and I need a change!) I’ll be honest, superficial as this may make me sound, I’ve immediately clicked away from blogs the layout/colour/fonts of which gave me a headache. If your site is easy to navigate and half decent, it MAY just be the difference between that person staying on your blog a wee bit longer to see what else you have to say and clicking away. Simples.  Talking of content:

 

7) You Can Spend Days Labouring over a Post You Think is the Best Thing Ever and it Bombs, Then Bash one out in Minutes and it Goes Viral

Go figure.  This is why I’m not sure scheduling posts actually works for me.  I find they are the ones that are too thought out and almost a bit soulless.  The ones I write after a whimsical idea work best.  So I’ve decided not to put the same level of meticulousness into every post I write, as I used to.  I’ve actually made myself let posts go out recently that are 90% ok instead of endlessly reworking them as I used to.  Hubster once told me the saying:

Better an imperfect plan executed today than a perfect plan put off til tomorrow.

 

I kind of agree even though the perfectionist in me wanted to rip her own ears off when he first said it.  He also said something else which has turned out be proven right time and time again.  In fact, this very post has been one of those examples because I almost scrapped it thinking it would just come across as self-aggrandising rather than helpful (and am just adding this bit a week after original publication as so many people have described is a really useful tips post):

Don’t second guess whether you should publish a post because it’s ‘not good enough’. It’s not actually up to you to decide what people do and don’t want to read. It’s up to them. So just write the damned post!

In fact, this also ties in with something else he pointed out (number 8).  Honestly, I might want to wring his neck sometimes but the man doth speak sense:

 

8) You Need to Learn What to Write for Human Eyes and What to Write for Google Eyes

Love it! Epiphanyyyyyyyy. (Can you hear me singing that?)  Believe it or not, not every post needs to be a masterpiece. No I’m not at all encouraging churning out post after post at the expense of quality.  However, it is in fact alright to write some posts with enormous attention to detail on all fronts while publishing others in which you have invested very little time, (purely to score brownie points off those Google bots who have a thing for regular posting).

 

9) Blogging Can Help You Find a Sense of Purpose

I love my kids but SAHM motherhood can make you lose yourself in a parenting wilderness of permanently sticky floors and endless birthday parties.  Launching AbPrab helped me find a huge part of me again that had somehow got lost along the way with all the nappy changing, packed lunches and homework. It has also ignited in me a dream I never knew I actually had…to write for newspapers or magazines or I don’t know SOMETHING that I’d never ever have thought to do if it weren’t for AbPrab.

 

10) Your Blog Goals Can Change and That is Just Fine.

I can’t imagine there are many bloggers whose outlook hasn’t slightly shifted or indeed fully metamorphosed since they started out.  I’m mulling over my own goals a fair bit at present and I may change my mind next week (I’m a Pisces after all) but I think I’m leaning away from heavy monetisation of my blogette. I’ll still carry on deriving some income from it but I think I may instead pursue paid content writing.

 

11) Getting on the HuffPost is Nice for Your Media Kit but…That’s About It.

I hesitated to include this as I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble.  I see posts from ecstatic bloggers excitedly announcing they’ve got on to the Huff – and yes I did that too and I’ll be honest there is still something nice about seeing my name and bio under that hallowed Huff header – but sadly, it is well documented that it does nothing to drive traffic to one’s site. I guess the exception might be if they feature you on their front page as a pick of the day/week.  Once I realised that was the case for me, I stopped contributing regularly and just picked the occasional post to send to them. I then decided to submit more often when I remembered I do get the benefit of the powerful Huff backlink which helps DA score. Except guess what?  Rumour has it this is no longer the case because of changes made to the HuffPost platform and follow link policy.  No more link juice baby.

 

12) Blogging Gives You a Legitimate Excuse to Make Friends Online Without Feeling like a Weirdo!

And if you’re a blogger you don’t need me to explain that one. At. All.  Seriously, the camaraderie I am blessed to have with Cuddle Fairy, Island Living 365, Just Saying Mum, Life Love and Dirty Dishes, Life with Baby Kicks, Mum Muddling Through, Motherhood the Real Deal and Mess Stress and Fancy Dress some of whom I speak to often, many of whom I go to with blog queries and all of whom make me laugh.  Then there are those friendships with those I don’t speak to as regularly but adore such as Beauty Baby & Me (Fi is so good for my ego!), Mess and Merlot (Charlie = total honey), Mumbelievable (sickenly beautiful with the coolest blog name to boot), Muma on the Edge and This Mum’s Life both of whom are riotously funny. I can’t possibly name everyone but I am so grateful for all my blog mates.  And yes, I’m fully aware that Google isn’t going to like me link-packing this paragraph but sometimes you’ve just got to give your friends a shout out. #rebel

 

13) Blog Success is Subjective (and some of it is smoke and mirrors)

Crazy monthly traffic?  Collabs with amazing brands?  High engagement? Awards?  High Klout/Tots scores?  A DA above 40?  We all see blog success differently.  And sometimes all is not what it may seem.  None of us really knows what is going on behind the scene screen with a blogger. I’ve been lucky (and totally bemused I might add) to be described in high terms by my fellow bloggers and often go to cafes/ladies’ nights out and meet total strangers who recognise me and talk effusively about the blog. I’m taken aback and think really?  But I’m not earning large, I’m not working with a huge amount of brands, my DA is in the respectable bracket but not high high.  Meanwhile other bloggers look at me (I”m told) in terms of the award and other finalist place or the not too shabby looking blog design or…or…whatever it is that makes them think I’m in some blog super league because honestly I’ve no idea what they’re looking at!!  Ultimately I’m too close to it anyway but I’m convinced it’s all relative and what one perceives as a successful blog can just be a case of smoke and mirrors.

 

14) Do What Suits YOU First Because Nobody’s Paying as Much Attention to Your Blog as You Are.

I know. GASP!  It’s truuuuuuue.  (Well alright not if you’re a super uber mega league blogger whose every post people are hanging on for.)  I’m not being unkind; I just mean when we are too close to something, we think everyone notices what we see.  Fact is, unless you’re on an official deadline (linky hosting, guest posting or publishing a sponsored post) nobody will even notice if you don’t publish that post today, or tweet 30 times on Wednesday or Instagram the hell out of your whole week.  And if they notice, they’re hardly going to hold it against you.  Fair enough, I’ve been caught out by subscribers wondering if they missed an email from me (mental note to self, send out next email to my subscriber list).  I freely admit, I need to take my own advice here as I get into the flow writing and stay up blogging when I should just go the hell to bed or shut the laptop and hug my kids on the sofa in front of a film already! But I’ve become aware of it and am working on it.

When all is said done, you just have to do what works for you, your family, your sanity…  As Louise of Squished Blueberries put it so eloquently in her fab post Some Thoughts about Life and Blogging

I will never write a post because I feel like I should, because everyone else is writing those kind of posts, because I think it’s what other people want to read, because people might search for it on google, or because someone has given me a free pack of ham.

 

 

15) Fight Your Fear and Do Things You Didn’t Think You’d Ever Do

Vlogging is my big one.  Seriously, if I can put my aversion to seeing and hearing myself to one side, then anyone can!

Oh…looky look..talking of vlogging…

 

 

I know I’ll remember ten more things tomorrow but I bashed this post out super fast as I’m trying not to over think all my posts to death!  The other reason is that it’s now time for my linky with Becky to go live, I need to talk to another blogger regarding something and I still haven’t made dinner and my kids are starving.  (And tonight’s delectation is baked beans on toast because Mum’s been too busy blogging…what was that about balance?)

prabs-signature

 

 

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What Really Happened at the MAD Blog Awards 2016

I sat down to start catching up on the mountain of blog work that awaits me now that I’m back from my trip to London for the MADs and realised maybe I ought to write something about my trip to the UK!

uk-mads-trip-feature

You can read about my thoughts on going before I actually left for the UK here in this post which was just an excuse to be silly. Meanwhile, here’s what did happen at the MAD Blog Awards 2016 it went something like this:

  • Dropped kids at school in Malta (if you’re new to my blog, I don’t mean I went to Malta to drop my kids off at school, I mean I live there) and gave them wet sloppy goodbye kisses.
  • Usual delayed Ryanair flight which is one of the privileges you pay for when you book with them…I always look forward to that bit…TOTAL fun (especially the bit where people nevertheless stand for forty minutes plus in the queue at the gate despite the fact that the plane hasn’t even reached the airport yet never mind be in a position for them to board it or the fact that they’ve got allocated seats which nobody is going to take away from them whether they stand or sit).
  • Crazy turbulent flight in which I hung on to the iPad for dear life and got some blogging done, which was a minor miracle considering the guy next to me just would Not. Stop. Talking. (it’s my fault, I’ve got to stop smiling at strangers and frankly I do it so much I might get my British passport taken away from me  *sarcasm*)
  • Arrival in London and a total oh-ma-Gawd-this-is-as-hot-as-Malta-I-LOVE-it moment as I realised I could leave my jeans in my case and just keep my thin  dress on.  Yes, I was wearing white cotton in London, in September! Oh the giddy excitement; I almost did a jig on the tarmac.

uk-mads-trip-train-from-luton

  • Inevitable fight with the e-passport machine inserting, reinserting and generally d*cking about with my new passport, being viewed like a total moron by the assistants (although to be fair, by now, even I don’t blame them) who are clearly wondering how someone who managed to dress themselves and get on an aeroplane can then find it so hard to put their damned passport in the right way without setting off the ruddy alarm. (I didn’t dare point out I somehow manage to raise three kids.)  Having said that, the machine probably rejects my passport each time because it doesn’t like the photo of me looking about 300 years old and like a total reprobate who sells dodgy substances to minors…should have photoshopped the fricking photo before applying for the passport.
  • Further inevitable problems buying a Thameslink ticket to get me from Luton to my friends’ place because everything in the UK has gone so cash-averse that everything has to be done by card. What on earth one is supposed to do when one’s chip/back strip is knackered rendering machines unable to read the card properly, I just don’t know.  The look the assistant gave me when I explained I had to – shock horror – use dare I say it cash, I mean actual paper money. I’m surprised she didn’t call a guard to escort me out of the building.
  • Thankfully, after the trauma of the train journey from Luton when I came in June, a smooth trouble-free connection (well let’s forget about the ridiculous business of trying to find a lift that worked to get me to the right platform) and train journey. I almost fist-pumped the air when I noticed I had the carriage to myself…before remembering that when I lived in London I would never have sat in a carriage by myself.  Because crime.
  • Much photographing of cotton dress and bare legs due to one’s glee over the warm temperature, as well as comfortable train compartment conditions, for one’s instagram account (followed by realisation that one doesn’t have UK mobile account and cannot use 3G to upload)
  • Much sending of inane excited messages to one’s friends to say one was on the way.
  • Bit of an obstacle topping up my Oyster card because – you know it – the machine wouldn’t accept cash, followed by a breather over coffee and a croissant outside the station, having a bit of a London moment watching the world go by before making the final part of my journey.
  • Getting to my friends’ road and totally forgetting their street number, loitering outside several houses peering above bushes and looking into people’s windows trying to work out which was the correct house before finally plumping for one with devil maycare abandon and just knocking on the door, then retreating to the safe distance of the pavement in case I had the wrong house (I even hid my case around the hedge in case I had the wrong house and needed to do a runner). The look on my friend’s face when she answered the door was priceless. #TrueStory

Anyway, I had a lovely evening with my friends, had a not so lovely night’s sleep due to noisy neighbours (I thought I was back in Malta at one point) and the foolish alcohol consumption of the evening and woke up the next day with a heavy head. Yes. On the day of the MAD blog awards. Go Prabs, she who makes the wisest decisions and is a role model to everyone. N’t. I also woke up to a dramatic temperature drop in which we’d gone from Indian summer to Autumn, just like that, in typical British weather style (and to be honest it was a welcome relief as I knew I’d bake in my outfit for the evening if it was still hot).

As mentioned in my previous MADs post, the one and only Talya was coming to the MADs to give me company

(such a sweet gesture as that was totally her idea) and after a close call where I almost caught the wrong train, met up with her as planned at Harvey Nichols so that we could pretend we are posh ladies who lunch (I don’t think the waiting staff quite bought that one however after our inept attempts to get a bloggers’ selfie).  Inevitably, being bloggers, the conversation of course turned to blogging and I’m indebted to Talya for helping me out with a few issues I’ve been unclear on. I can’t deny, being women, there was also talk of makeup (don’t judge me) and yes I did go in search of a Bobbi Brown counter downstairs in an effort to find that magic wand thing that’s supposed to make under eye circles/bags invisible (if you look at this post’s featured image you’ll see I don’t just a wand, I need the fairy godmother that usually comes with one) what …only to discover Harvey Nicks don’t stock it. So a mad dash to Harrods was required (where three failed shades later I gave up) and then on we went to the awards venue.

But you know it wasn’t quite that simple don’t you? You know we had a mini drama trying to book an Uber cab right? You can feel it in your bones that we then considered a black cab only to realise Friday traffic would make it pointless, don’t you? You don’t need to be told that 1) Talya started getting off the train at South Ken while 2) I stood near the doors, insisting we needed to stay put and connect two stops later, only for 3) people to huff and puff as I was apparently blocking the doors (have you seen the size of me? I wasn’t blocking the doors for flip’s sake and my home towners so need to chill out) and then 4) I basically got carried off the train in spite of myself along with the sheer volume of passengers trying to disembark (yep I’ve lived in the Med for way too long if I’ve forgotten this happens) while 5) Talya looked totally bemused at the sight of me hugging my enormous handbag looking baffled and 6) I realised she was right about the stop, culminating in 7) us laughing at he realisation that when in each other’s company, we are in fact Patsy and Eddy. We then couldn’t agree who’s who, both of us refusing to be Eddy (sorry Jennifer) and finally decided we’re both Patsy. #TrueStory Meanwhile you’re sitting here in disbelief that people in their 40’s (not Talya, me) actually still behave like this.  And given that NONE of this is made up and is as I say totally true – and I’ve actually missed bits out – I’m so with you on that.

We made it to the Royal Garden Hotel and I snuck off to get changed super speedy in the bathroom.  

uk-mads-trip-table

Then it was time for the long wait for hair and makeup (what…you thought I’d skip the chance to have my first makeover since my wedding?) in which there was time to talk to various lovelies like the wonderfully bubbly Laura of Milton Keynes Kids, oh so supportive Josie of The Whimsical Adventures of a Not So Supermum, the ever friendly Claire of Tin Box Traveller, my blog crush Polly of Right Royal Mother and the über stylish Anna of Zeit My Geist and Fran of Whinge Whinge Wine to name not even a handful.  I can’t write this post without mentioning my Punjabi blogging twin Harps of Baby Brain Memoirs (she likes to refer to me as her older sister, I tend to prefer twin as it just makes me feel less like her aunt) whom I was so excited to finally meet and who WON BEST PRESCHOOL BLOG. Darned proud of her.

uk-mads-trip-harps-me-talya

To round up and summarise the main bits of my MADs evening:

  • I was stone cold sober the whole night barely touching a drop, partly due to starting the day feeling rough and ending it feeling nervous! To be honest though, I don’t think people would have enjoyed the sight of me stumbling about in heels and legless (oxymoron).
  • Talya and I managed to have a total Patsy and Eddie Patsy moment and both video Harps accepting her award instead of tag teaming whereby one of us photographed, one of us videoed and hilarious words were exchanged afterwards (she calls me her blog wife, I think she’s my actual wife now and am making her sign a contract promising to stay in my life forever)
  • I didn’t stay to party after the awards as I panicked about travelling back alone (you’d never think I used to be a Londoner).
  • I didn’t win but on the bright side, the very person I predicted to pick up the award Storm in a Tit Cup did indeed do just that. Obviously, I’d have absolutely loved to have ‘done the double’ as the hilarious Lucy of This Mum’s Life calls it. Winning two writer awards in the same year would have been phenomenal on so many levels but was probably a bit of a greedy aspiration, (although I did nearly die each time someone pointed out how lucky our table was as we had so many winners and I just knew the lucky streak couldn’t continue by the time it got to my category!)

Finally, after declaring on social media and here on the blog, that I would not have another wardrobe disaster

after the infamous does-my-middle-aged-bum-look-illegal-in-these-white-jeans episode at the BiBs awards in June, what did I do? Yep, I forgot to pack appropriate undergarments (I’m Victorian and we say that) for the dress I was wearing and for the gazillionth time in my life, I ended up showing my bra to everyone.  I also spent the entire evening sucking my stomach in and showing people this as my party trick. #mortified

So dear reader, given that it would have been difficult to approach the stage doing a side shuffle to conceal aforementioned bra oversight, and nigh on impossible to keep my stomach in without giving myself back ache, it’s a good job I didn’t win really.

Ah, there it is…

Island Living 365

Massive congratulations to all the MAD Blog Awards 2016 winners!

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Off to London for the MAD Blog Awards Event!

Prabs lower half of leg and high heels

Oh. My. Goodness, it’s real. The MAD Blog Awards event is here.  Six months and several grey hairs later, the MADs are FINALLY HERE!

I think a bit of pee just came out as I typed that.
Or to put it more accurately, I’m bricking myself over the fact that by Friday night, I’ll know my awards fate and will either be smiling overjoyed with a large glass of bubbles or crying into a gin bottle in the toilets.  Well a bit of candour never hurt anyone right? And it’s certainly one way to start a blog post.

Yep, as I said in my come back post (she said sounding like I’m Madonna returning to the music scene after a hiatus) I’m off to London again for my second blog awards event this year.  So, although I feel a bit flashy doing it, I thought I’d just tip my hat to the MAD Blog Awards event taking place this Friday 16th September, by writing a wee blog postette.  I’ll be dropping the kids off as per usual at school in the morning and then heading for the airport.

Now, I’d clearly love to be a conscientious blogger and whip out my laptop to get on with content writing and/or linky joining, at the departures lounge cafe.  No, honestly, I’d love to. But I have a feeling I’ll need to do my public service duty and help the staff at the bar do a stock take instead…aka have a few stiff drinks to calm the natural disaster that will no doubt be brewing in my belly from nerves.

 

Obviously, once I land in London, it’ll be all go and I’ll be doing important things like any of the following:

a) spending silly amounts of money on public transport (something I don’t do in Malta)

b) getting stuck on Thameslink again for two hours because of signal failure leading to a family member driving 45 minutes to the middle of nowhere to come rescue me (oh yes indeed this was a special highlight from my #BML16 trip)

c) cursing my bad decision-making when my open toe wedges prove to be no good in London rain.

d) cursing the British weather for in fact NOT being wet, meaning the brolley took up unnecessary space in my case, but instead surprising me with an Indian summer for which I’m woefully under prepared.

Or

e) all of the above.

Actually what I can say for sure is that I’ll be meeting my blog wife Motherhood the Real Deal for a lovely afternoon tea before Friday evening’s proceedings.  Sooooo looking forward to that! Talya, along with Renee of Mummy Tries, managed to get a ticket to attend the awards and frankly I could kiss them both as it cheered me no end when they told me.  Something terribly sad happened last week within my family and frankly, it’s hard to muster up  excitement and not have my mind on that on Friday night so I’m so grateful to two of my best blogging gals for being there.

So, This is the Talented Bunch I’m ‘up Against’ (excluding myself obviously) in the Writer Category.

screenshot of MAD blog awards writer finalists

Eeeeeek!

 

I’m Particularly Excited at Meeting Fellow Finalists:

the lovely Harps of Baby Brain Memoirs, the hilarious Polly of Right Royal Mother and catching up again with bubbly smiley Detrice Matthews who I didn’t get to chat to much at the BiBs in June.  Tis such a pity that Fi of Beauty Baby and Me and also Tori of The Adultier Adult can’t make it now.

Not being one to avoid the ‘stickier’ questions in life (that’s a total lie…I’m totally an ostrich with her head in the sand), I thought I’d also also a few burning questions

What are my Thoughts on the MADs?

Would I love to win another bit of mantelpiece-adorning ego-boosting decor?

Yes. Of course. I’m only human.

Do I think I stand half a chance of it happening twice in one year?

Nope. It was a minor miracle I got lucky the first time round.  Twice?  [Sad sigh.]

Do I plan to re-enact the dodgy white jeans episode from June?

No! Stop asking silly questions.  Well, alright, I’m asking the questions but let’s not split hairs. In all seriousness, I am a teeeeeeeny bit worried about the dress I’m wearing.  Let’s just say I seem to have developed a gut (I know not how) over the summer holidays.  I definitely didn’t drink much alcohol (tragic I know) or eat much due to the heat.  But I have this horrid mystery tyre around my belly (you know…cos consuming my own body weight in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream during weekend movie night and drinking vanilla iced coffees when the kids were at swim camp clearly had NOTHING to do with it…)  Anyway, the dress is somewhat, well, tight.  I fear I may break a rib or pull a muscle or fall over – or all three – in my attempts to get it on and then extricate myself from it at the end of the night.  And then there are those heels.  I’m no good in heels.  Joy.  Mind you, I hear there’s a bit of a heatwave of sorts going on in Blighty.  So like a total pro (translation: indecisive basket case) I’m taking a spare dress that is better for warmer weather.

Have I been practising my best clapping-for-the-winner pose and fixed smile?

No comment.

Am I wondering what the organisers have in store considering the event goes on for a whopping 4 hours?

Yes. Definitely bursting with curiosity.  And also googling, right this minute, how long the Oscars go on for because I think the MADs has officially trumped them.

Have I Been Trying to Calculate the Odds (Thanks to the Mathematical Probability Chapter in Musical M’s school book) of…

me still making it to the stage, thereby having a podium moment of sorts even if I don’t win myself, given that two bloggers have sadly had to drop out of attending and have both asked me to collect their award on their behalf, should they win?

Honestly, WHAT do you take me for?!  I am TOTALLY offended by the suggestion of the implication of the possibility of the theory that this could be even remotely potentially possible on a hypothetical level.

[Stomps off, exiting stage left.]

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I Love Blogging but I’ve Made a Decision…

computer, earphones, sunglasses and coffee

Hulloooooo!  Did you miss me?  Say yes.  Go on.. SAY IT.  

Well the Kids are Back at School.  So Mummy Prabulous Needs to go Back to the Blog. Right?

By the way, before I go any further, just to give you the heads up, I’m off to the UK again for the MAD blog awards, which you can read about in this goofy post here.

Anyway, it’s been wonderful taking time off.  My ‘official’ break has lasted exactly a month.  But, to be honest by the time I wrote my “I need to take a blog break or my head will explode cos I’m just so flippin’ exhausted from working so hard this year plus I can barely write for shock after winning that award so frankly it’s best for you/me/my kids/my neighbours/anyone who knows me that I sign off for a while” post, it had already been four weeks since I’d done any ‘real’ blogging with the exception of my OopsFile feature. #Slacker

Seriously, I did feel bad  during the course of July for not being very productive apart from doing my #BML16 round up as well as thrashing out an angry woman rant. As I took my kids to swim camp three times a week, tried to tackle the mountain of chores that had gone neglected for too long (aka basic cleaning) and larger projects such as kids’ room changes and storage reorganisation, not to mention haul my bum out for a run in the oppressive evening heat, I couldn’t shake off the awareness that I ought to be blogging ‘properly’. Frankly, it just ate away at me.  There was nothing for it but to take an official break which would free me from agonising over the blog.

Taking a Break Massively Helped Alleviate the Permanent Blog Guilt I Feel

I mean I actually Got. Stuff. Done. without  Seriously, we can now see out of the windows! Well, okay not all of them; it’s a work in progress. #I’mTheCleaningLady The floor is looking less and less like a storage device.  I’m not fully there yet but my goal (the holy grail) is for the floor to just be a place for our feet and furniture and not much else. I still have quite a way to go with getting the house totally straight – and to be honest that will take a whole load of help from a certain Swedish company starting with I and ending in A – but at least I’m no longer dicing with death every time I open a cupboard risking something falling out and hitting my head. And it’s so nice to see the kids’ rooms coming together slowly but surely.

Not only that, it was simply phenomenal to see my younger two go from slightly nervous pool swimmers to fearless fish and Musical M, already a mermaid, just amazed me with her machine-like lengths up and down the pool for a whole hour.  I did well too (by which I mean I drank loads of iced coffee while I watched them swim…very dedicated of me).

Cheeky K sitting by pool at swim lessons

Cheeky K waiting for her lesson to start

 

If you Have Read Confessions of a Guilty Blogger, You’ll Know I’ve Been Really Struggling

as it seems many bloggers are judging from the feedback – with the blog-kids-home-life balance thing (not exactly helped by my shockingly woeful time management).  Long story short, after adopting a more serious attitude to the whole blogging gig earlier on this year, any balance I had went out the window and the blog simply took over.  Zero balance.  My blog buddy Talya of Motherhood the Real Deal has a little chuckle over this actually in her post about the madness that is blogging.  Now, on the one hand, I could say the more than full-time schedule, that saw me working til the-birds-are-now-singing-o’clock, paid off and resulted in a lovely shiny piece of glass courtesy of the Brilliance in Blogging Awards.  (And for that I’ll always be truly grateful.)  On the other hand I could say (and in fact I am saying) that I’m no longer comfortable  neglecting the house to the point where nobody can find anything (including clean underwear), nor willing to ‘cultivate’ the rather fetching dark under eye hollows that I’ve given myself through months of late night blogging.

I’ve had a think about my schedule, the time I spend writing just one post, the house, exercise regime, proper meals instead of resorting to eggs or beans on toast with alarming regularity and of course, the kids who need me on several levels.  So…what to do?  Going forward, I need to establish a sensible workable balance in my home and blog life.

Laundry will be done before everyone ends up going commando, school forms signed on time and nobody will almost suffocate under an inch of dust on my watch! What about blogging? 

In Absolutely Prabulous, I’ve created an exhilarating, stressful, addictive, uplifting, rewarding, demanding, validating, confidence-boosting thing in my life. But I swear it can be harder than raising three kids!  I LOVE blogging (my fourth child). But like all jobs, when I’m not loving it, I’m feeling overwhelmed.  

This is because blogging isn’t just about the writing (and that takes enough time on its own).  There’s sooooo much else that goes into it (joining linkies, blog reading, social media growth, behind the scenes admin etc) and it got to the point where I felt like I wasn’t doing any of it particularly well or managing to properly promote what I’d spent so much time writing.  And there was something else that was also suffering:

Anyone who Understands Blogging Knows That You Need to Venture Beyond Your  Blog to Get Exposure for Own Your Site.

Basically, I simply wasn’t finding any time to explore crucial guest writing opportunities on other sites, which was in fact my main goal for the blog this year, a goal which has fallen by the wayside as I chase my tail trying to cover all bases on my own site.

So, whilst I will still aim to write a certain number of posts a week, adhere to a schedule to keep myself on track and of course do right by my lovely #OopsFiles guests, I also need to get my writing out there in the big world, looking at you Glass House Girls, Sammiches and Psyche Meds!

I’ve Had a Chance to Think About Things and Make a Decision About the Blog.  

I can’t help thinking of the old adage about quality versus quantity.  I’d love to be a serial poster like my gorgeous fellow blogger and BiBs Fresh Voice winner, Emma of Island Living 365 who writes fab posts time after time.  (I’ve come to the conclusion that she just doesn’t sleep which is how she manages to get so much writing done.)  But I’ve simply had to admit to myself that I’m just not a 10 posts a week blogging machine…nor a 5 posts a week blogger…nor…ahem…  And that’s not just because of the time investment or the need to be a mother and wife too.  I’ve realised that it’s also not in my heart to do so because I KNOW, just as surely as Malta has sunshine or I have a Häagen Dazs habit, that I’d end up churning out half-baked crap.  So I have to accept that I’m about the quality not the quantity. (By the way if anyone thinks I’m making sideswipes at those who produce several posts a week I’m not.  There’s no scandal here as there is more than one way to blog.)   I totally tip my hat to those who can consistently write good posts!  As for me? I’ve decided that:

I Won’t Kill Myself Blogging and Getting my Priorities Wrong Anymore.

Yes, I know I need to maintain a sense of professionalism in my blogging endeavours, particularly as I seek to work with more brands.  So if I have a deadline, well then, I need to honour the deadline as I always do and not just head off to the beach (don’t worry, I don’t do that!) ha ha.
Yes, I guess the ‘I’ll just do what I can physically manage to do’ attitude wouldn’t get me very far in the ‘real’ workplace!
Yes, I want my blog to continue to be successful and wish to maintain (and further develop) the reputation I seem to have acquired for my writing.
Yes I do want to continue my plans for world domination – whoops –  monetisation and I realise that if I’m only going to publish two posts a week, substantial monetisation will not come soon.
Yes I’ll still try to join fab linkies (and not be so crap at commenting) such as #BloggerClubUK, #StayClassy, #DreamTeam, #FartGlitter, #CoolMumClub, #MarvMondays, #BigPinkLink to name a few.

But jeez I need my sleep! Translation: I’m NOT happy with those ruddy under eye circles.

I’m not going to let the blog engulf me and my family anymore. Translation: sometimes, life just needs to be lived; not blooming Instagrammed. #BlasphemousBlogger  This will require  time limits and goals regarding post writing and promotion and linkies etc.

Soooo, What’s On the Absolutely Prabulous Menu in for the Coming Weeks?

Ok, I’m thinking we should have another round of Blog Stars.  This feature has gone down well so far and I really enjoy spreading the old bloggy love through it.
It’s definitely time for another Life in the Prab Lane.  because quite frankly, it would be rude not to.
Of course, I have some cracking #OopsFiles posts lined up for you. This series has turned out to be better than I could ever have hoped for with utter belly laughs provided by these bloggers so far.  Incidentally, if you’re a blogger and you want to get in on the act by sharing a funny embarrassing story please do; details are here.
And frankly, it isn’t Absolutely Prabulous (in my humble opinion) if there are no laughs.  So there will be laughs.
Erm and a rant or two. Because. My Blog.  Can if I want to. So there.

Well, the above-mentioned are part of the plan.

I can’t promise I won’t get carried away with paint swatches for Cheeky K’s bedroom or creating a nautical theme in Dreamy D’s room or trying to make sense of Musical M’s apparently untameable bedroom storage (and I might grab a couple of mornings to finally go down to the end of the road for a cheeky snorkel before the weather turns).

But for now…this is the plan people! It’s good to be back.

So tell me.  Did you miss me?  (Say yes.  Go on.. SAY IT.)

PS So much for the new me with good intentions.  It’s now 2.30 am. Dammit Janet.

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Time to Hang Up the Blog!

flip flops, sunglasses, bikini

 

As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been a tad quiet on ye olde blogette.

This is partly because I’ve been struggling with the blog mojo, melting in the Mediterranean heat and hugely aware that I have three small people off school and home with Maman Prabulous.  We’re already well into August and my kids have been on holiday since mid June (we break up early here due to the heat).  So far the summer hols have consisted of:

A six day trip to the UK for the biggest blog event of the year #BML16
Getting out the house three times a week for the kids’ summer swimming course in a lovely location…about to increase to five times, eek.
Differing levels of success in getting out the rest of the week because sometimes it feels easier staying indoors in the shade (and mainly because I’m butt lazy)
lot of guilt over barely blogging and feeling like I’m not spending enough time with the kids
A handful of beach trips (amazing considering we live right near one)
Totally ineffective ‘attempts’ at blogging
Zero productive attempts at cleaning my house

So with just weeks to go before the kids go back to school, I’m desperate

to see to household projects that have gone neglected for utterly ages due to the blog (translation: ignore household duties because the beach beckons) plus need to give my attention to three of the sweetest easiest kids one could hope for (translation: yell at my kids irrationally even more)…or if they’re not around, spend some time with my own.  Boom tish.

Seriously, although people who live in colder climates can’t quite understand how someone who lives on an island

with 300 days of sun a year could possibly need a holiday – especially when that someone is a stay work-at-home mum – fact is I’m desperate for a break and change of scene.  Sadly, the latter ain’t happening this year so at the very least, Absolutely Prabulous is on a break until the end of August or so (or at least that’s the plan). What’s that? You thought I meant so long, farewell etc when I said It’s Time to Hang up the Blog…?

Not on your nelly.

But I do desperately need some time off.

I might post up the odd thing here or there. I might not.

I might (oh pretty please sugar on top) ignore social media for the next few weeks.

There again, I’d love to fly and/or snog Adam Levine and there is probably more chance of either of those happening than me ignoring Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and co.

funny meme about Twitter, FB and Youtube merging

 

Anyway, thought I’d do the courtesy of letting you know…because let’s face it,

the U.S. presidential elections, the Olympics, the future of post-BrexS*it UK and general global turmoil are not on people’s minds anywhere near as much as my blog and I’m quite aware that my plans are far more relevant news.

Yes that’s called sarcasm.

See you in a few weeks.


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How NOT To Do a Blog Awards Acceptance Speech #BiBs2016

BiBs-finalist-board

It’s now almost two weeks since the Brilliance in Blogging awards in London.

Almost two weeks since that gorgeous, astonishing, unfathomable and unexpected moment when I heard the opening of an envelope followed by Carol Smillie (TV personality turned  cofounder of Diary Doll) say two words I thought I’d misheard: Absolutely Prabulous.

I know…mad right?!

Video courtesy of kind-hearted blogger New Mum Online who took it upon herself to film all 14 winners (and even threw in a marvellous raspberry blowing moment).

Yes, somehow I won the BiBs Writer award, thanks to the beautiful voters and ‘amazing panel of judges whose taste I think is rather good’ (yep just quoted that from my awards acceptance speech).  Yet I’m only just writing my BiBs Awards post now! #LaziestBloggerEver  Truth be told, it’s not laziness (for once).

You see, something unexpected and frankly a bit inconvenient happened in the aftermath of winning…

I started writing something when I got back to my hotel room after a wonderful dinner out with some of my blogging besties but was in too much numb shock and a tad distracted by Glastonbury on the TV.  I tried again the morning after, as I sat in the fab Hoxton Hotel restaurant, getting my London on, with the help of eggs benedict and a ridiculously healthy smoothie that was soooo green I thought they’d pulverised Kermit and stuck the poor sod in a glass.  In fact I did write something but I thought it was a bit meh so I binned it.

picture of brunch at the Hoxton Hotel

 

Then I tried again upon returning to my room after brunch.  (Yes, I’m aware this is sounding less like a description of a blogger trying to write and more like the story of a woman trying to get pregnant.)

I gave up and just took selfies instead.

selfie of Prabs in "Bloggers do it Better" sweatshirt

Yes dear reader…I’d lost the ability to write…just hours after winning an award for my (apparent) writing skills.

Gotta laugh!  In fact, I ‘misplaced’ my entire blogging mojo for about a week.  Zut alors!  Très careless. “Call yourself a blogger?”  “Shame on you!”, “We want our money back” “What a Prabulous fraudster you are” etc etc.  This time it wasn’t for any of the reasons I described in My Turn to Struggle with This (thank goodness).  No, this time, it was two other reasons…

First, daft as it sounds, I think my brain fogged with panic at having to write something.  Okay, it’s not the Booker or the Pulitzer prize but still, one kind of feels like anything one produces after winning an award for writing – especially a post about winning an award for writing – has to be nothing less than stellar!   Second, full blown exhaustion hit me the day of #BML16 (dreadful timing as it caused me to miss pretty much the whole afternoon and I don’t feel like I was mentally there for any of it to be honest).  I’m talking the kind of fatigue I’ve not felt since I was up all night feeding the babies years ago, that continued through the rest of my stay in London and the first few days of my return to Malta, where the heat and humidity didn’t exactly help in relocating my lost mojo.  Honestly, just ask Laura how much I banged on about how tired I was; she must have thought I finally get some kids-free time and now I’m lumbered with this grown up toddler whining instead.  I’ve also recently talked about my difficulties balancing blog, life and family so I guess it was a triple whammy: exhaustion, a mild case of writer’s block and just general imbalance.

So here I sit at crazy o’clock again, bashing the keyboard.  Now the kids are home for the school holidays, I’ve just resigned myself to blogging in the ridiculously small hours as per normal…because it’s at crazy o’clock that the writing inspiration hits.  Gah!  Terrible for my health and a nightmare for my deepening under eye dark circles but it’s how I’ve blogged since the beginning and it led to an award so maybe I shouldn’t go changin’?  Answers on a postcard please.

So, what do I say about this most marvellous of not-Oscar-or-Pulitzer-but-still-blooming-fab bloggy outcomes?

Well, I could tell you how despite lovely little successes like going viral three times with three entirely different types of post (about my inept parenting, my marriage and Malta mayhem) and seeing myself on various favourite blogger lists and the whole Huff Post thang (which actually does very little for one’s site traffic but hey who cares, it still feels great to get on!), the simple truth is that I genuinely had NO idea there was so much love for my wee little blog.  Pinky swear.  Didn’t realise (despite the many times bloggers have tried to tell me and despite the tremendous feedback the posts have always received).  Fact is, there are better blogs/writers out there.  FACT.  Maybe it’s just luck, good timing, stars aligning, whatever.  But I will never ever cease to be touched by it.  As I said on a recent Facebook post, when life is getting me down, I’ll just hit the play button and listen to the whoops and shrieks on that video to remind myself of how incredibly blessed I am.

I could tell you a heart tug inspiring (translation: vomit inducing) tale of how (as a then new twitter user) I saw tweets about the Unmumsy Mum winning various awards last year and subconsciously thought how cool she was…and how maybe hypothetically sort of not that I really care all that much whatever (ahem), it would be nice to win an award for blogging myself.  And then did just that a year later.  Oh and finally met Sarah who was in the writer category too and who is not surprisingly très cool indeed.

I could go all cheese central on you and list some of the amazing things that happened after I won.  Not to preen, blow trumpets, puff my chest out and all that jazz.  But to spread some light and warmth in the depressing midst of Brexs*it, various bombings, Blairgate and bigotry…  And show what an utterly amazing, life-changing, confidence-boosting and exhilarating force blogging has been for me these last two plus years.

Things such as the private messages, bloggers’ tweets, my parents’ reactions (I’ve never seen my Dad so proud of me), my husband’s message in his congratulations card which almost choked me, my friends’ pride and so on…it means the world to me.  I hesitate to feature too much on here, as nobody likes a jumped up #BlogDiva (least of all me!) so I’ll just show you a couple:

This whatsapp message (written by a child who clearly took in what her mother said in 40 Lessons to My Kids):

 

screenshot of Prabs' eldest child's congratulations message

And this from one of my favourite bloggers and biggest cheerleaders, Helen.  I deliberated over publicising this for fear of my motives being misunderstood but I just have to show you what amazing friends I’ve made through blogging.  Pure #BloggerLove and God bless her sturdy ankles (she’ll get it).

mess-stress-award-message web

 

Things such as Franca whom I met for the first time at #BML16, coming up to me after the awards and saying something so kind about positive energy and auras.  I won’t fully quote it but suffice to say, her words will stay with me because they blew me away.

Things such as my #BlogFamily, along with people I don’t know, going a little bit nuts when my name was announced.  A massive affectionate shout out to Cuddle Fairy, Island Living 365Just Saying Mum, Life Love and Dirty Dishes, Life With Baby Kicks, Mess Stress and Fancy DressMotherhood the Real DealMum Muddling Through, Pink Pear Bear and This Mums Life.  There aren’t enough beautiful powerful words to describe these supportive women.

But no, I think I’ll just do what I’m more comfortable with: poke fun at myself and explain how not to behave at a blog awards ceremony in general…

photo of Prabs outside the Brewery holding Brilliance in Blogging Writer award

 

Don’t stand in front of the hotel room mirror and say “What do you think you’re doing getting all dressed up when you’re not going to win the award?”, then take off the gorge oh-so-flattering white strapless top and lace skirt that you’d brought over especially…and instead INSTEAD squeeeeeeeze yourself into oh-so-not-flattering tight white jeans that you have no business being in the same room with. #PancakeArse [Mental note to self: immediately visit Does My Bum Look 40 in This? and learn from it]

Don’t sit in your seat open-mouthed forcing one of your blog mates to practically elbow you so you get up after your name is called out.

Don’t panic over keeping the lovely Jen, Susanna, Nadine and of course Carol waiting on stage consequently almost running towards it (although please could all we do a quick respectful nod to how fast I was able to move in those heels? DANG that was impressive if I say so myself).  Furthermore, don’t peg it back to your seat afterwards…what was up with me?  Did I think my friends were going to finish all the drink before I got back to the table?

Don’t, for the love of blog, practically snatch the bubbles, that are part of your prize, out of poor Jen’s hand with barely a thank you.  Is it my imagination or did I hear someone mutter “You can take the girl out of Wembley, but…”  Oh hang on that was me. #Classy

Don’t look so shocked at winning that you actually look like you’re frowning and mutter something daft to the ladies on stage about how you are genuinely happy but are also grimacing and that your grimace is actually your happy look and flip only knows what else because instead of looking shocked, you just look like a right mardy grump.  (My gorgeous bloggin besties have assured me that I didn’t look miserable or ungrateful and that I just looked overwhelmed but I pay them vast amounts of money to say things like that to me.)

Don’t stand at that podium – the one you cheekily allowed yourself to dream about standing at in those award fantasies you never for one second thought would actually come true – and make a speech at warp speed, that even you are barely understand.

Ab Prabs' son's pic of his mum making her speech at the podium

Had to include this: my son’s card showing his mum at the podium!

 

Don’t, for blog’s sake, forget to thank your blog wife who is actually on her blooming knees  filming your awards acceptance speech.

Don’t sit back down in your seat, zap out a post on FB first, tell your mum and siblings second and then only tell your other half THIRD (by which time he’d already heard one of your siblings shriek “She’s won!” as she saw the FB post before you even whatsapped him). Duh.

But most importantly, don’t try to be all clever and explain how your friends are the family you choose for yourself and get it so wrong that it sounds like you’ve just insulted your actual family and worse still (could it get worse?) FORGET to mention your mum, sisters, brother and hubby.  #KillMe

So there you have it.  Not a stellar post.  But a post.  By the way…in my delusional little head, this is my Booker/Pulitzer moment…

Right, I’m off to find the address of Louise Candlish (the Writer category judge) so I can send her that cheque (whoops I mean flowers) and then put another laundry load on.

Because apparently, I still have to do crap like that around here despite being an award winning writer.

I know…mad right?!

Thank you to everyone who voted for me and believed in me.  You’re just incredible.

Much love.

prabs-signature

 

 

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To Surprise or Not Surprise a Woman? The Birthday Gift Dilemma

collaborative-post

Buying a woman a birthday gift is –  let me rephrase that – buying a woman a surprise birthday gift isn’t easy.

Let’s be honest, men are a bit doomed if they do, doomed if they don’t aren’t they?  I’m not being politically incorrect or exclusionist (or whatever the right word is) not accounting for female couples, by the way, because I think women just get it right more often.  Anyway, why do I say men are doomed in the birthday gift buying department?   Well, despite Hubster and I not being regular gift givers, twenty years together has nevertheless seen a few presents exchanged between us in our relationship and how do I put this? [inhale]:

Hubster has achieved a mixed level of success when it comes to buying me a birthday gift.  

There I said it [exhale].  Let’s do a quick appraisal of the gifts over the years, shall we?  There have been:

The “I’m overwhelmed, this is the most thoughtful thing ever” in-a-league-of-their-own champions:
including the specially commissioned oil painting of Sacrécoeur, Montmartre, to remind me of the view I used to have from my Paris apartment window (when I moved back to London from Paris and bought my first property).  Oh and the bling bling wallet to replace the beloved one I got for my 40th which promptly got stolen in a house burglary.

The “Oh ma Gawd I LOVE IT!” surefire winners:
such as A&F, Fat Face, O’Neills cool tshirts and an amazing black thin knit tunic style jumper from Quicksilver.

The “Gosh, I’d never think to buy this myself but I could get used to it” promising hopefuls such as my California chic strapless summer dress and a sparkly black figure hugging evening top.

The “Er, what gave you the impression I would like this? Ooh actually I like this!” maybe’s that turned into winners such as a very grown up silver necklace that looked like it had been ripped straight off Joan Collin’s neck at the height of her Dynasty fame and given to me ten years later.  There was also the huge warm cloak-like jumper that could fit a family of four.

The “Gee, you shouldn’t have, no really you shouldn’t have” downers like the turquoise silver mess of a jewellery set a couple of years ago.

And last but oh so not least, the occasional “Just what on EARTH were you thinking?!” total Grade A humdingers like the enormous faeces-coloured handbag he got me recently (designer it was too) that was just wrong on all levels and had me wondering if he’d gone momentarily blind when he bought it.

Now, in defence of my husband’s occasional gift-buying failures, I must say this:

  1. I can be a bit of a fussy cow
  2. I’m a Pisces, so am totally unable to make a decision about most things and therefore even I don’t know what I would like as a birthday gift half the time
  3. As the more ‘intuitive’ of the two sexes, I as a woman should find buying gifts for people fairly easy (after all I did say above we are better at it) but no no…it’s not my strong point either.  So I can totally appreciate Hubster’s nightmare when it comes to buying something for me.
  4. I can be a bit of a fussy cow.

Flowers are so blooming (no pun intended) expensive where I live, and roses in particular  are not only super expensive in Malta but sadly also poor quality.

(I remember Hubster being horrified when a huge bunch of roses he gave me for our anniversary literally didn’t even last 24 hours after delivery.)  I’ve actually told him to never buy me flowers again as they are such a waste of his hard-earned money.

So I was pretty intrigued when I was made aware of this unusual and unique range of great birthday gifts for her from Eternity Rose.  Amongst the range of items including both ornamental and jewellery pieces is this platinum-dipped ornamental rose.  The way these roses are created is pretty impressive as they are in fact real roses that through a series of manipulations (a 60-step process to be precise) are electroplated, the whole process taking three months to create the finished article.

eternity-rose

 

See?  Impressive!  Start dropping those hints ladies…

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Life in the Prab Lane (The First One!)

 

life-in-the-prab-lane-first-oneSo this is the first time I’m doing this sort of post.  If you’re a regular, you’ll know I only occasionally do serious stuff as I tend to keep it light-hearted on AbPrab with tales of general mortification, parenthood satire with the odd bit of sentiment thrown in. But recently I thought what if I put my grown-up-blogger-big-pants on and do one of those monthly update thingies? I always shy away that type of content as it feels a bit self-absorbed.  Then I realised that whenever I read another blogger’s updates, such as those of the wonderful Kate, I never ever think Ugh look at her going ‘look at me!.  On the contrary, I’m interested to get a peek into their life and find it engaging.  So erm, don’t laugh but I’m going to try it out and will be bringing you a monthly post, Life in the Prab Lane, on what I’ve been up to, from a personal, blogger, parenting etc perspective.  Let’s see how we go; either I’ll struggle to come up with stuff each month or you’ll keel over with boredom reading about it.

As I’ve been a bit busy with other blogging projects, this first one is a bit after the fact (great start then!) and covers the month of March.

On The Personal Front

Early in the month, I turned 100 years old or XX as explained here (is that a highlight?) and spent the morning with some of my besties who spoiled me with a spa day voucher, champers AND treated me to brunch. There was lunch with Hubster (I may have only just finished brunch but I wasn’t going to decline this first ‘date’ in 3 years even if it was squeezed in before the school run!).  The icing on the cake – pun fully intended – was Hubster walking through the door that evening with a surprise cake, made and gifted to me by my fabulous friend who runs Lemon Tree Cakery.  Elsewhere in March, I saw an upcoming Maltese rock band Red Electrick in concert with two of my favourite people, had fun at a friend’s 40th birthday party, celebrated Hubster’s birthday, did a lot of beach and went looking for a jacket for the first time in 13 years!

Best and Worst Parenting Moments

Musical M performed an accapella version of one of her own compositions again at the school talent show; yep zero backing track, just her and her voice in front of a packed room.  Obnoxious mother alert: she writes her own words, harmonies and all and I’ve no idea how she comes up with such mature insightful lyrics that leave Rihanna and Bieber to shame.  I’m allowed that one mini boast because I’m the last person who could ever be accused of being an alpha mum and you know this entire blog is proof of that!

talent show

 

A parenting lowlight has been trying to help M deal with preteen issues such as cliquish behaviour from girls now she is in Middle School, and continued nastiness by the clever manipulative bully in her year.  If they handed out medals for the student with the best ability to pull the wool over all of the teachers’ eyes, this kid would clean up.  Yep, I just said that about someone’s child…frankly after years of self control, I’ve earned the right.  It beggars belief that the teaching professionals who ought to be clued up about common behavioural traits in children, have neither worked out that said bully is a very convincing actor nor realised that this student has been the common denominator in classroom discord since the primary years.   Is there a rulebook for how to deal with this?!

What I’m Reading

get a grip

A while ago I got chatting to the author Matthew Kimberley (who shares office space with Hubster).  Whilst discussing important matters like how to make my Mac Air last longer than one chuffing hour, Matthew kindly gave me a copy of How to Get a Grip, a fabulously dry witty self-help book not like many others.  Of course, in typical Prabulous fashion, I only picked the book up during the Easter holidays.  I had popped down to our local beach to give the kids a run around and decided to hang up the blog and actually read a book.  After reading the hilarious introduction, I then opened the book at a random page and found myself reading a line about struggling to get up in the mornings.  Is it a sign I’m meant to actually finish this book?  Or just a sign that Matthew’s got cameras installed in our house and knows I’d rather drink vinegar than start the day?  I’ll let you know what I think of the book.  But in the meantime, if you already like the sound of it, there’s a link at the bottom of this post from which you can buy it.

how-to-get-a-grip

What I’ve Been Watching

Zootropolis. I honestly think it’s one of the best films Disney has made in aaaaages.  The script, the characters, the recognisable voices, the storyline. Loved it.  But dear Disney, do you think there’s any chance you could bring out a family film hat doesn’t contain the word jerk?  I’m honestly sick of hearing this for so many reasons.

Secretariat

I first watched this film – about a 1970’s housewife who takes over her father’s stables and leads a horse to multiple victories – with Hubster a while back and fell in love with it.  I watched it again during the Easter holidays with the kids and my eldest loved it.  The storyline, the authentic characters, the suspense that had me yelling in anticipation at the screen.  And Dianne Lane…total actress crush. I could watch her just breathe and do nothing else; pure class and for me, one of the best actresses of our time. Then there’s John Malkovitch.  I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea as his characters can be a tad intense and exhausting to watch but he is damned funny in this film. The kids were on the floor at one point.

People vs OJ

Ok, if you can ignore the bizarre facial expressions and over acting of John Travolta, the irritating below par acting of Cuba Gooding and the limited appearance of David Schwimmer (yep the three most famous actors in the series), this is surely one of the most gripping television series I’ve watched in a while, even though I knew what the outcome would be of course, having lived through the real thing in the 90’s.  It’s kind of funny that the two best actors in it are not particularly famous (the prosecution team) and I loved how almost all the actors look the spitting image of the actual people involved in the real case.  But man, did they get it wrong casting Cuba Gooding.

On the Blog Front

My most read post was one that I thought I’d get quite criticised for but didn’t:

retro pic of Prabs of Absolutely Prabulous

I changed my profile picture here on the blog which of course is of NO interest to you but believe me, this is a major development in my blog life ha ha.  We took so many pics, I’m just too embarrassed to show you how many, and it was hardly studio quality but the one I chose will do for not.  It’s totally different from the frazzled housewife and mother depictions we originally considered when I launched the blog.

don't-make-me

At last I got an Instagram widget that works after the previous one malfunctioned.
NB If anyone knows an Instagram widget that displays images in slider/carousel form PLEASE let me know!

I also finally registered with Tots (I’m always late to the party) and was rather pleased to be ranked #559 out of 8000 blogs.

My DA went up to #27. This may not seem amazing to some but I’m pretty pleased. There is so much I’m still not doing blog-wise so hopefully, once I get my act together in those areas, there can only be room for improvement.  If you want to understand DA scores this explanation of DA scores by DIR incorporated should help:

DA-scores translated

Blog Discoveries

With the exception of Five Little Doves, my five blog discoveries:  
Island Living 365

Just Saying Mum

Queen of My Castle

Mess and Merlot

Hot Pink Wellingtons

Five Little Doves

are all on the newer side of the blogging spectrum.  I could write a whole separate post on why I love these blogs that I’ve just come across these last couple of months.  However, I’ll save that for my forthcoming regular feature in which I pick my favourite posts from around the blogosphere. In the meantime, head over and check out these classy talented womens’  blogs. Some of them will make you laugh out loud, some will make you cry with emotion and others will make you nod your head in agreement.

So that’s it for the first monthly update.  How did I do?

a) Bored to death and couldn’t care less if I write another one?

b) Looking forward to the next one?

By the way…

If you’d like to buy a copy of Matthew Kimberley’s book, click here. This is an affiliate link. This simply means that if you buy this product using this link (rather than going directly to Amazon’s site yourself) I earn a little bit of pocket money as a thank you from Amazon, at no extra cost to you.


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My Sunday Photo 10th April

my-sunday-photo-10-april

So this is the first time I’m posting a photo for the #MySundayPhoto series hosted by Photalife! Can’t believe it really, considering how much I snap away on that most advanced complex skill-demanding photographic instrument, the iPhone.  Anyway, despite having a mountain of DIY projects and ever-neglected chores to do around the house, we headed out for a quick walk to the stunning Ghan Tueffieha Bay, known locally as Riviera.  I say quick because we slept in til super late o’clock, had to rush Cheeky K to a birthday party and by the time we’d had a late breakfast, didn’t have much time left til we had to be back home again for a super important event: Manchester v Tottenham….snoooooooore.

Anyway, I really struggled to pick one photo for My Sunday Photo 10th April because I have to say of all the pictures I’ve taken over the time we’ve lived here, today was quite possibly the day where I took THE most stunning ones.  We walked up the top of Ghan Tuffieha, above the beach, along the beautiful open rocky terrain, to a stunning rock that looked like something out of a breathtaking film scene (hardly surprising when you consider that Malta has been used in the making of numerous films such as Count of Monte Cristo, Troy and most recently, By the Sea (with Brangelina).  I got some incredible shots of the kids, paddle boarders, surfers and landscape in general. This picture was taken whilst downing a quick cappuccino before racing back home, you know, for that match that was much more important than spending quality time with one’s kids (ugh).  If you look closely, you can see a surfer in the waters.

[She let out a happy sigh.]

OneDad3Girls

A Funny Thing Happened at the Doctor’s…

I recently launched a guest post series the #OopsFiles where bloggers have been revealing embarrassing life incidents.  

It honestly is hilarious and if you’ve not read the posts, it’s worth doing as they are such a treat.  I subsequently shared a few of my own epic fails recently, one of which mentioned problems I’ve had with my name.   After writing it, I thought of another ‘name spelling episode’, this time at the doctors.  Then that reminded me of another embarrassing experience (non name-related) that happened at a gynaecologist appointment (yep, my stomach just clenched).  So, I guess you could say a funny thing happened at the doctor’s.  Well, more than one.  I should probably think hard before going to the doctor’s again to be honest.  Anyway, I give you:

A Funny Thing Happened at the Doctors title image for

 

1) Dreamy D is asthmatic so we’ve spent a lot of time in and out of hospital/clinics etc.

One time, we went to the doctor to get his routine prescription.  The doctor we had at the time was a rather doddery old man, bless him.  You know: looks at you like he’s never seen you before despite being your family doctor for years, asks for your name three times, enquires what’s wrong but then talks over your answer etc.   Anyway, as if the doctor wasn’t doddery and forgetful enough himself, he’d had the superb idea of employing an equally doddery male receptionist (which in itself is mystifying because everyone knows men can’t take messages down properly).  I swear it was like the Fawlty Towers of doctors’ surgeries.  It was so like something out of a 1970’s TV comedy, I half expected an unstable secretary to come in on wobbly legs spilling a tray of tea everywhere like Mrs Two Lumps in that hilarious Monty Python sketch.  To this day, I have NO idea what purpose this receptionist served because he just sat there and made a list of names of people waiting but never took the list to the doctor nor call out the names of the next patient!

We sat down in the waiting area and Mr Receptionist asked for my son’s name.

To be fair, Dreamy D is very softly spoken.  A confident boisterous loud volumed child, he is not, so I admit it can be very hard to make out what he says sometimes. Mr Receptionist understandably didn’t catch his name and asked him again.  This time, I answered.  Now obviously my son’s real name is not Dreamy D and is just his alias on here (but FYI his name has only four letters…let that sink in for a second…JUST FOUR).

Mr Receptionist: Darren?
[Seriously?]
Me: No Dreamy D
Mr Receptionist: Andrew?
Me: D-r-e-a-m-y D (I started spelling it…story of my bloody life…)

It was unreal. The guy was either incompetent or hard of hearing or both.  He mentioned various letters that aren’t even in my son’s name:  N? V? K? [What the actual heck?]

Now I know death, however it happens, is no laughing matter

and phrases like the one coming up aren’t funny (or responsible) especially when voiced in front of your child.   However it was an expression uttered in bewilderment by a woman who had spent 36 years of her life spelling her own name before incurring the additional nightmare of constantly having to spell her kids’ names.  So yes, I gasped “Oh my God I want to kill myself”.  I know.  Bad.  Very bad.

You know what though?  The other patients started giggling.  I kid you not, one of them hid her face behind her magazine. Best of all (in a not very proud parenting moment kind of way):  my shy quiet son burst into giggles.  Then (probably out of sheer relief that my words hadn’t offended the people sitting in this room in this very Catholic country) I started laughing:

Until Mr Receptionist asked: “Now, what is your surname?”

Laughter over.

Me: “

No way!  If I give you his surname, we’ll be here all week.”

 

Once upon a time there was a young lady who moved from London to France to work for Disneyland Paris.  One day she realised it was probably time she started seeing a gynaecologist.

Her workplace was on a beautiful avenue opposite the Champs Elysées and she booked a routine check up at a nearby clinic.  Except…erm…for her there was nothing routine about it because this was her first gynae appointment.  Gulp.  She really had no idea what to expect because when you grow up as an Indian girl, no matter whether it’s in India, Britain or wherever, there really isn’t much ‘nether regions talk’ at the dinner table in between “My God how many chillies did you put in this mum?” and “Sorry, I didn’t come first in my exams”.  Anyway, this young lady headed to the clinic after work and nervously entered the consultant’s office.  He got some details down, did a BP check etc.  So far so dignified.  Then it was time for the familiar: “Right, pop behind that curtain, then hop on the bed once you’re ready”.  Obviously this was in French but don’t worry the young lady’s French had come a long way since THAT kiwi incident in 4 Epic Fails and she didn’t do anything stupid.

Yet.

And as you know, this story is about me so I’ll drop the third person act.  Now, when I said his request was familiar, I mean that it would be familiar now, you know, now that I’m a mature grown woman and mother who clearly has seen many gynaes since this episode.  It was not familiar then on my first visit.  I didn’t know what “get ready” actually meant.  Well this is Paris, everyone’s so groomed, should I put on lipstick and spray some perfume?  I’ve no idea  what this man means!  I know, I know, I’m gaping at the screen in disbelief and amazement WITH you, dear reader.  I emerged from behind the curtain nervously in my underwear and couldn’t understand why the man’s expression changed from measured to astonished to downright apoplectic all within about two seconds.  He totally went off on one, as the Queen would say, about me still wearing my bra and knickers.  To be fair, the curtain was totally on the other side of the office from the examination bed; how was I to supposed to know I was meant to walk across the whole office starkers without even a modesty towel?!

I may not be able to remember what I had for breakfast yesterday but I’ll never EVER forget the sound of Monsieur Charles (see, it was over 20 years ago and I still remember his name!) literally bellowing:

Well I don’t know how you people do it in England but in France WE TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF!

Mais oui oui.  They sure do…

 

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What Happened When This Mummy Blogger Took a Break!

So I’m baaaaaack from that mummy blogger break. (You know, the one where I still managed to sneakily read other bloggers’ posts when the kids weren’t looking and didn’t exactly do a great job of getting off the Twitter train.)

I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what I got up to the last ten days of the school holidays. How can I rant about that for the #effitfriday linky that I’m co-hosting this week, you wonder? Oh but I can, believe me… Impressive huh? Just say yes and make a blogger happy.

1) I watched my babies eat ice cream by the bucket load and drink milkshakes by the gallon.
I’m telling you, I can’t keep my kids in enough gelato. We have a looooong hot hot hot Summer here. You say ‘Junk Food. I say ‘Vital cooling mechanism.’ Let’s face it, there are two things that every kid has a right to: homemade chocolate cake and damned good ice cream. I’m rather good at the first one and I know just where to take them for the latter (sadly my own ice cream machine is useless).  Now please let me sing you a song from my home country so you can leave some coins to donate to my ice cream fund.

 

While my babies watched their mum drink a LOT of iced coffee.
You think I jest? I almost single-handedly caused a coffee shortage in Malta and they couldn’t pick the replacement beans fast enough back in Brazil. And no I’m not showing you all the iced coffees I had.

 

2) Almost seven years after buying our house, I finally bought some plants!
You’d think I’d given each of my kids an iPhone judging from the squeals of delight and excited gawping at the plants and flowers and pleas to buy a lemon tree. Seriously people, this was the only thing we did on that particular day.  Yep, I took my kids to a blooming garden centre (wow that pun just fell from my fingers all by its clever little self) and yet they were so excited and couldn’t wait to get back home and help me pot these babies.

school-holiday-rant-plants

What could I possibly have to rant about? Well obviously the fact that everything cost twice the amount it would in the UK which still pains me all these years after moving here but hey ho, nothing you can do about that. No, the peeving thing was how I had great service and advice from the staff (because believe me the only horticultural thing I know is that plants have leaves and flowers have petals and I can kill either very flipping quickly)…great service that is up to the minute it was closing time. Then Mrs oh so helpful Jekyll turned into Miss you must leave immediately Hyde and almost kicked us out the door.

3) I’ve had the longest saga in sun glasses shopping history. You say #FirstWorldProblems…
I say when you live somewhere with a yearly average of 300 days of sunshine, this merits a rant! Long story long: I tried to spend my birthday money on replacing my five year old faithfuls and went to seven different stores in London before making a Ralph Lauren panic purchase at the airport minutes before my flight closed (you should have seen those poor kids running with me, and by with me I mean behind me, to the gate) only to get back to Malta and discover they had a defect (the glasses, not the kids). Last week what should happen? I walked into a shop here and found THE pair. Figures. There they were looking at me seductively from the middle column calling my name. I looked in their direction and thought You belong to me and I belong to you. I tried them on and that was that. They were perfect..a different shape from the Jackie O style I’ve worn for years, a gorgeous tortoise shell colour making a change from my usual black and they fitted perfectly instead of sliding down my face like the damned Ralph ones ended up doing. Even better, they covered half my face. Yes I’m perfectly aware it looks like the glasses are wearing me instead of the other way round but frankly, when your face is falling apart at an alarming rate because you’re not exactly 21 anymore, that is good!

sunglasses

Yep even sunglasses this big can’t mask my neglected eyebrows and middle-aged train wreck hair.

So what’s the problem? Sunglass hut never emailed back to confirm if they would refund the money on the faulty glasses which Hubster is willing to return to them on his next business trip…so they have just sat in a box for the last two months and I don’t know if I’ve wasted my money on a useless pair. I have been wearing an equally large  – but nowhere near as good quality  – pair as the ones in this pic, the last few weeks. And the sunglasses that are a match made in heaven are in fact not protective enough for the strong sun here and fade half way down the lens which causes eye strain. Back. To. Square. One. Then I walked back to my car only to find this guy wearing them. Unreal.

lemon-guy

Told you it was worth ranting about!

 

4) And what on earth happened to the blockbuster summer?
Apart from the fact we’re a big movie loving family, I depend on cinemas in the summer for their air conditioning ha ha. There were just TWO kids’ films appropriate for my lot the entire holidays: Minions and Inside Out. Minions irritated me and I thought I’d love the second as its all about feelings etc (and I am ALL about feelings etc) but it bored me rigid. What can I say? I think I’m becoming a grumpy old woman. That left only two other kids’ films: Jurassic World and Pixels. Jurassic had a 13 ting so no go. So I waited weeks for Pixels only to find out it was a PG (I’ve never taken my kids to PG rated films as I think five year old K is still too young) but went the day it came out I was that frickin desperate to do something not involving sand. You’d think I’d given each of my kids an iPad (it’s my blog and I can recycle one of my own jokes if I want to) the way they nearly fell over with delight when I surprised them with this.

I have to say, uninterested as I am in the whole video/computer game culture (I could have cried when my kids were given a Wii because I’m such a back to basics mother) I honestly thought this film was one of the best family films I’ve seen in years.

Seriously, most adult comedies don’t even have scripts this good (okay it’s a bit redundant if you’ve not seen the film but I promise you’ll find these funny if you see it):

Well if it isn’t Zac Efron, Gandalf and Harry Potter all in one room.

Just when you think Adam sandler is typecast and so over, he surprises you (well ok he is typecast but whatever).

Now if you could leave the room so that those of us with long pants and government positions can get on with their job….

I love the actor Brian Cox (he scares the shit out of me but I love him).

My dad left my mum for his 19 year old pilates instructor called Sinnamon with an ‘s’ which pretty much tells you all you need to know about her. My mum says she’s going to develop a slut-seeking missile to take her out.

I think my kids missed the word slut. I’m praying my kids missed the word slut. They caught the other saltier words though. Despite being quite active in the potty mouth department myself, I did think it was an avoidable shame that there was a bit of bad language in it but ya know…. #YouWinSomeYouLoseSome

5) At last I got round to using the Zara birthday vouchers from my Sliema sexies and co, one week before they expired!
Yep, totally chuffed with the gorge blanket-like shawl, smart casual cream skirt, edgy smart jumper etc but… I found the most perfect summer shoes, the kind I’ve wanted for ages (wow for someone who n-e-v-e-r goes shopping I’m starting to sound like a shopping whore) only for them to not fit properly.  And I stupidly didn’t get the top I’m wearing in this pic all because I had one of those dumb “I don’t need this” moments. Even Cheeky K saying “I think you should try this top with those trousers mummy because it will look nice on you” didn’t sway me. Doofus. Me, not her.

zara-clothing

 

6) I took ten days off yet my house is no cleaner.
I just don’t know how I tidy but it gets no better.

school-holiday-rant

You know what? Funny as this meme is, it’s not the kids that mess the house up that much. It’s their mummy that’s the problem and she could never keep a tidy house before she had kids!

7) I did manage a mega clothing sort and clear out.
Where is all this clothing I’ve sorted? Yep, umpteen bags in my lounge tripping me up cos nobody at the 3 charity places I’ve called is picking up. #Pfffft.

 

8) And basically enjoyed this little rock we live on.

mummy-blogger-break-mini-collage

We caught crabs (for goodness sake, no not that kind), swam, took mama-baby selfies, swam…you get the picture… All in all, a nice little break with my kiddos.

No, they’re not real rants BUT today really is a 100% first class humdinger of an #effitfriday because…

…it’s the last day of the school holidays!

Soooo not ready for school to start… and I’m already dreading this in ten months’ time…

#PassTheGin.

Linking these posts to the following:

 

Life with Baby Kicks

 

Friday Frolics
Modern Dad Pages

Taking a Short Blogging Break To Be a Wife and Mum!

taking-a-break

 

So somehow, (I honestly have no idea how) we’ve only got two weeks left of the holidays  before the kids go back to school. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to get over the end of the school year with my spoof First Case of Exhausted Mother Reported and getting ready to go the UK for three weeks.

It’s been a rather spiffing Summer from the point of view of the blog. The school mum post did really well on my own site and it was super exciting seeing it do well on social media. I then got on to the Huffington Post with it which ended up being even more fab than I expected and then again with 10 Ways To Tell Kids About Sex. It’s been a fun busy time riding the Twitter train meeting some amazing bloggers and having hilarious conversations with some of my Twitter BFFs and building relationships. And of course, as many people know, two other posts, the one about my marriage and the one about Malta caused quite a ‘storm’ and gave me an eventful time on the blog! And it would have been rude not to write about it so I did in The Good, The Bad and the WTF of Blogging.

But during all this time, much as I love blogging, two key things have been rather neglected: my kids and my house.

The kids have been so amazing as per usual playing all day while I work, hardly ever asking for anything and being perfectly happy to spend entire days at home! They’ve not been enrolled in any summer activities and have been perfectly happy with that.

I’ve made ice lollies only once:

lollies

 

I can count on one hand how many times I’ve taken them to the beach:

kids-at-las-palmas-2

 

I’ve managed to sit down and play a board game with them once and have barely made it through a single film without getting sidetracked by twitter or getting up to go do a job.

laptop

I’m a stay at home mum and frankly I’m not sure where the holidays have gone or what I’ve done apart from drag my heels around the house moaning about the heat and taking 4 showers a day… #StayAtHomeBum

Meanwhile the house is disappearing under I don’t know how much dust and the storage/clear out projects are piling up and yada yada yada. I’ve just about kept up on laundry:

laundrys-done

 

Yet I seem to manage this just fine:

wine-glass

 

Anyway, so I need a bit  of blogging break to be a wife and mum:

anniversary-beach-2014

 

Priorities shmiorities. Fear not. Shan’t be gone for long. And I’ll be back with a funny little piece for ya.

See you soon!

 

Modern Dad Pages

FoodieFriday!

choc-torte

 

I don’t usually making things I’ve seen on TV. I might jot down the recipe in a moment of good intention but then there the recipe stays…in my notebook. This chocolate torte is one of the exceptions. I saw it on Donna Hay’s cookery programme, didn’t even do a trial run first before offering to make it for a friend’s dinner party and fell in love with it from the first mouthful…as did everyone else! By the way, Ms Hay calls it a chocolate cake. I must admit, given its low flour composition and gooey texture, it’s definitely more a torte.

What I love is that you can serve it ‘neat’ or have fun ‘dressing it up’ for a special occasion like I did for Valentine’s Day:

Bonkersly Easy Chocolate Dessert

Valentine’s Chocolate Heart

or serve it up after Easter  lunch like this:

Easter Dessert (bunny & chick by Lemon Tree Bakery Malta)

Easter Dessert (bunny & chick by Lemon Tree Bakery Malta)

 

And ladies, it goes down a treat for girls’ night at a friends’ house after the wine and nibbles…and fellas, if you’re trying to impress someone or your significant other…here you go.

GRAB MY RECIPE HERE

21 Casual Promises I Made To Myself For 2015 That I’m Under No Legal Obligation To Honour

Right, here’s the thing. I sat down to write a list of resolutions for 2015. About two minutes into it, however, I realised this was all a bit farcical and that I was asking a bit too much of myself. No, I’m not being pessimistic or hard on myself. It’s just that I’ve met myself. Seriously, there’s a reason why I never do this. In fact, I think I’ve only ever written such a list once in my life. Briefly. In a not exactly sober moment at a New Years Eve celebration in some bar in Paris years ago. I lost the napkin shortly after that – when it was cleared away by an overzealous waiter – and with it all commitment to seeing the resolutions through.

Yep, basically it’s the fault of the French.

However, I soldiered on writing my 2015 list. Not because I’m virtuous, committed or  exemplary. I just needed to use my hands for something other than reaching for more bloody chocolate and wine. So my sweet peeps, for my first post of the new year, I bring you:

 

I hereby do declare that I sort of sincerely yet casually promise to:

1. Adjust my attitude towards maths homework (breathe…)

2. Finally embrace Sci-Fi (may the force and heaps of vodka be with me)

3. Bake more (because cake = love)

4. Pack the Christmas tree box away before June (for the love of God woman, I mean it)

5. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier (because I HAVE to believe it’s possible)

6. Fix my injury and start running again (please…for my sanity)

7. Hug my kids more (because one day they won’t want to)

8. Yell at my kids less (for their and my sanity)

9. Stop over thinking the wrong things and do more about the right things (yes it’s a cliché but for a reason…)

10. Start reading again (in those 10 ‘spare’ minutes between finishing evening jobs and falling asleep)

11. Write, write, write!

13. Get my kids to use those little legs more for walking

14. Get them to bed earlier (it must be doable right?)

15. Watch less porn (JOKE…just making sure you’re still reading…)

16. Make smoothies every day (a girl can dream can’t she?)

17. Call my parents more often

18. Accept that I can’t do anything about the idiocy of the drivers here

19. Learn to dive properly instead of doing that unfortunate ‘I’ve been shot by a sniper’ belly flop into the water

20. Be the mother I thought I’d be (because I HAVE to believe it’s possible)

21. Stop this British self-effacing crap, BELIEVE what everyone says about my writing and BRING it in 2015

P.S. it’s got off to a great start: number 4 isn’t happening…it’s almost 4 in the morning and I’ve only just finished writing this (ah…but I was paying attention to number 11 you see…)

P.P.S Woke up and thought of another one. Number 22: fill up the Paris jar, that I was given by my tall Norwegian this Christmas, for THAT birthday trip (maybe I’ll find  that napkin too?). It’s underway…

IMG_5509

 

 

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14 Women, 1 Girls’ Trip and a Lot of Boobs

So early December a bunch of us – and by bunch I mean 13 of us (HOW we managed to pull that off I still don’t know) – went to Dublin on a girls’ trip to visit a friend of ours and let our mummy hair down. Oh and ‘went to Dublin’ is slightly inaccurate. More like…descended on Dublin and its good people. As you can imagine there were a fair amount of excited ladies amongst us…well there was an uber excited lady amongst me anyway. What can I say? Swapping the dishes, laundry and small-island life for four days of fun with my friends while Hubster did Daddy day care got me a little excited.

In fact I think my Ryanair ticket should have had this printed along the bottom:
WARNING: Leaving your husband and 3 kids behind for the first time ever and boarding a plane without a single baby wipe, snack or crayon may lead to increased vodka consumption, conversations with total strangers, extreme excitement and a lot of boobs. Not that I don’t love my Papa Baby and the three kiddie babies I made with him but ya know…sometimes a momma just has to have a break.

Anyways, as you can imagine there were a fair few funny lines – or boobs – over the course of the trip. Can my girlfriends remember any of them? Ha! They may all be younger than me but apparently my memory is better than theirs…:) (Yeah yeah, I may not name or picture them but I reserve the right to make fun of them a tiny bit.) So most of the following funny ‘scenes’ and lines from the trip are as remembered by me even though there were some absolute crackers from the rest of the gang including some infamous ones which I’d best save for another time.

So without further ado, les voila:

14-Women,-1-Girls'-Trip-and-boobs

 

Plane Talking
Me: The stewardess gave me too much milk and sugar. Apparently I’m not sweet enough or white enough.

Me: I was wondering where that high pitched squealing was coming from. It’s me. Those involuntary squeals of excitement…they’re coming out of ME! [Before apologising to the bemused passenger in the next seat.] Sorry, it’s the first time I’ve been away without my kids.

Me: Oh please, I’m not getting dressed up for the school run. I did too many years of the make up thing and the smart clothes thing to do that now.
Anonymous: You don’t have to wear a party dress…just clothes that fit.

Air Steward: I thought I was funny but YOU are hilarious!
Me: [Silent nod…all that was needed…he knew he was beaten.]

The ‘This Could Either Turn Into a Great Time Or Go Horribly Wrong’ Night
Me: I can’t walk in these shoes and I can’t sit down in these trousers but I’m gonna wear them cos I can’t wear this stuff on the school run dammit.

Guy in Club: What’s your name?
Me: Oh boy, here we go…Prabs.
Guy: Prat?
[The rest of it…well you had to be there really.]

Manager of bar: There’s a place you should go. It’s your kind of place.
Me: Oh great. What is it?
Manager: Lillie’s Bordello
Me: So basically you’re telling me to go to a brothel?

Guy in Bar: Hi I’m Colm
Me: Oh my friend went out with a guy called Colm. He was a real ****head.
Guy: Oh so I’m a ****head by association then?
Me: No not at all! [Cue me getting stuck in a full headlock with said guy and the voice of Marilyn behind me]
Marilyn: Oi! What are you doing to my little Indian friend?!
Colm: Are you being racist?
Marilyn: NO!!
Colm: Good. Mind you I’m not sure which is worse, casual racism or being called a ****head for being a Colm

Me: Oh my God there’s a women in the bathroom taking selfies…alone! [clearly the ‘self’ part of selfie had not hit me yet]
Great Dane & Selfie Star: [no words…just guilty stares]

Me: Jeez I’m stuffed. Can’t eat another thing. Did you say they had lemon tart on the menu?

 

THAT Kardashian Dumb and Dumber Episode at the Trinity College Library
Me: What exactly is this Book of Kells?
Great Dane: No idea.
Seriously? Swede: Me neither.
Me: Man…at least you two have an excuse. I’m British. I think I’m meant to know.

Me: So where’s this book anyway? Oh my God your hair is gorgeous!
Great Dane: This is how it looks normally if I don’t use a straightener.
[Cue 10 minute conversation about curly versus straight hair and other hair-related talk whilst walking straight past most of the exhibit]

Seriously? Swede: This place is just full of books…lots and lots of books.
Great Dane [in a low voice]: It’s a library.

Me: Hang on, where was the Book of Kells then?
Seriously? Swede and Great Dane: I think that was it.
Me: What? That tiny book?!

Me: We are standing in one of the most historical buildings in Dublin and you want to take a selfie?

Great Dane: Oh look it’s that Bacon guy [sorry Francis Bacon…you can’t take us anywhere]

All 3 of us: THAT was the exhibit?
Seriously? Swede: Seriously that was it? For 10 euros we should at least be allowed to TOUCH the books!
Great Dane: At least we got a selfie out of it. So basically we paid 10 euros each for a selfie?
Seriously? Swede: That was a 30 euro selfie!

 

Ladies Who Shop
Me: I’m not leaving this shopping centre without knee high leather boots if it kills me. [At one point there were 4 people with me in a shoe shop advising me…looking very jaded.] Can I wear red leather boots at my age?

Great Dane: Okay girls, we need to exit this shop in style. Follow me. [Picture jumping out of the store legs astride whilst holding imaginary horse’s reins. If only Freud were around…]

Crooner in Brown Thomas: Yes that’s right ladies…it really is me…I really AM singing. And you really are staring…

 

Bar Blah Blah
Me: Vodka martini…that’s the one that’s shaken not stirred. No wonder I can’t drink those things. I’m usually shaken and very stirred.

Marilyn: So funny watching Great Dane getting ready doing the boob test last night.
Me: What’s that?
Marilyn: You know, when you jump and down to see if your top will stay on once you’re out dancing.
Me: Oh. And did it?
Marilyn: No!!

Me: My God if someone else clears my drink away, I’ll go nuts.
Classy Bird: Is that your drink over there?
Me: Oh…yes…

Shoe Addict: Have you ordered yet?
Me: I keep trying but he keeps telling me to wait as they’re busy. Please tell me, we did actually leave Malta right?

Bartender to fellow bartender [as several of us are ordering drinks]: I LOVE MY JOB!

Several: Are there any karaoke bars near here?
Barman at the Duke: [There are no words to describe the look on his face. Actually yes there is one: disgust].

 

Taxi Talk
Driver: I’d love it if a bunch of female friends come over to visit my wife. I’d be out with them myself. I keep telling her, I’m too much man for one woman anyway.

Several: Are we there yet? God we’re worse than our kids.

Me: I left 4 kids at home in Malta; I didn’t come on this trip to babysit grown women. No hang on…I’ve got 3 kids.

Anonymous: Can I just say one more thing about my kids?
Several people in unison: No!

Anonymous: It’s better not to wear underwear when clubbing.

Driver: So what are you ladies doing in Dublin?
Several: We’ve come to visit a friend who lives here.
Driver: 13 of you? That’s not a visit. That’s an invasion.

Selfie Gal: Considering there were 14 of us, I have to say there was very little drama.

Various
Anoymous: It’s not gossiping. It’s just talking about someone when they’re not in the room.

Marilyn: Is it just my imagination or has there been a LOT of boob talk on this trip? By the way your boobs look big in this pic.
Me: There you go, yes, there’s a lot of boob talk on this trip. And thank you.

Roomie 2: Why is this picture so dark and grey?
Smoky Swede: Well it’s a dark grey day…

Me: Ha, I’ve just received a text from my hubby telling me the kids are in bed and he’s going to leave the kitchen til tomorrow as he’s too tired to do the dishes tonight. As if I care. NOT MY PROBLEM FOR WHOLE DAYS!

Shoe Addict: Are you going to eat all that?
Me: Just watch me.
Shoe Addict: Man, I love a woman who can eat.

Post Trip Analysis
Seriously? Swede: I’m almost sure we all look great in this one [about the fuzziest photo ever taken]

Pic of me at bottom of Trinity College Libary

Seriously? Swede: Is that Prabs going “NOOOOOO the Book of Kells exhibit is closed!” right before she starts sobbing?
Smoky Swede: That is the little Indian; she practically showed up on all my pics from Trinity.

Me: Guess what? I was on time to school today. 3 hours sleep a night for the last 4 nights and I was ON TIME!
Lithuanian Lovely: Wow! But irish time right?
Me: Noooooo really. On time. Marilyn is my witness. If it keeps happening, I may have to give back that fridge magnet about Irish time.
Lithuanian Lovely: Don’t get me wrong. I’m very proud but actually you only had one kid to pack and get through the door this morning meaning 67% less work.

Classy Bird: Those 2 girls dancing on Sunday night! No matter how drunk, it is never acceptable to dry hump a couch!!

Selfie Gal: Last night I woke up every 3 hours. I think my body got used to only 3 hours sleep in Dublin.
Me: I also have realised after a lifetime believing I needed 9 hours of sleep a night, apparently I only need 3. All that time I’ve been wasting sleeping.

That’s it folks. Well it’s not..if you’re super nice to me, I might just write the uncensored version next time…

Seriously, IS It Normal?!

is-this-normal

I’m in a giving kind of mood this week. So I reckoned, seeing as how you liked Is This Normal so much, I’d treat you – with a sequel  I know, I’m literally too kind for my own good sometimes. Feel free to send me jewellery, chocolates, a book deal by way of thanks. Or you could just read this post and then start a veritable sharing frenzy…just sayin’…

So…it’s BACK!

Seriously, is it normal:

1. That a year after buying my own son the wrong birthday card (and mentioning it in Ten Lessons This Mama Has Learned), I apparently haven’t learned my lesson at all…and managed to buy one for a girlfriend, containing this:

Seriously IS This Normal?!

because I only saw this:

Seriously IS This Normal?!and thought “Ah…how sweet…that’s her” before quickly going to the check out, paying, borrowing a pen, ripping it open and letting out a high-pitched shriek as I noticed the mistake.

2. To go from “For pity’s sake don’t mention food again, I’m still absolutely stuffed from hours ago. What’s wrong with you, how could you even think about eating right now?” to “Man I could eat a horse. Give me your chips right now, I’m starving” in approximately 47 seconds.

3. To long for a food processor for about ten years, bang on about needing one for over five years, finally get one for Christmas and then only unpack it in July.

4. To finally feel all grown up simply because I’ve got said food processor sitting on my kitchen counter. (Really, if I’d known that’s it all it would take…)

5. To leave washing hanging on the line for nine days? Yes NINE. It wasn’t deliberate but it’s still really pants that I forgot it was there (and yes the pants had all faded in the Maltese sun).

6. For the Christmas Tree box to have been sitting in the corner of the lounge until June. Don’t judge me.

7. To clean out the shoe room and discover shoes dating back to 1992…which I don’t have the heart to throw away. Okay, judge me.

8. That there is barely a single inch of my house not covered in kiddie ‘art’. Not the preschool Christmas Day/Father’s Day/Mother’s Day/Valentines Day/Any-excuse-to-send-cute-crap-home-day variety (don’t be silly, that’s all spilling out of the cupboards and enormous plastic bags I’ve had the good sense to stuff them into). No, I mean the crayon graffiti they have scribbled literally e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.  M actually wrote her name on a door just to practise writing and they’ve scraped their bangles across walls scratching off the paint in the process.

9. To have reached this age and need the concept of cider explained to me.
Hubster: “It’s made from pears or apples.”
Me: “Cool, so it’s wine before it becomes actual wine.”
Hubster: “Noooo, wine comes from grapes; cider comes from pears or apples.”

10. That I could have just cut the damned potatoes by hand and made an entire gratin twice over in the time it took me to figure out which processor attachment to use (and that my kids watched an entire film before I finally switched the machine on). Yes I know…still on the kitchen gadget topic…I’m a wild one.

11. To bump into an empty chair at a friend’s wedding and apologise to it. (FYI the chair can be substituted for a number of things: a bollard on the street, a toilet door at a restaurant etc).

12.  To do several huge clear-outs resulting in bags of clothing/toys/shoes/baby equipment…then leave it all in a cupboard for months.

13. That I never saw a single episode of Mad Men, Game of Thrones and gave up on Breaking Bad but think Looney Tunes is one of the best shows on TV. Honestly, Lola, what a revelation, that girl is hilarious (“How do you say Tacos in Spanish?”). And she’s just an animated character.

14. To have started packing literally weeks before our holiday and yet still only manage to close the suitcases just three hours before we’re due to wake up for the airport and still turn up at our destination without things we needed.

15. To finally give in and buy my kids loom band sets thinking they’d spend less time wanting TV and Wii and more time using their creativity and imagination…only for my eldest to spend hours in front of a computer screen all summer watching bloody loom band tutorials. Pffff.

16. To automatically cut up my husband’s baked beans on toast like I do for the kids (don’t judge me…occasionally I resort to baked beans on toast…I’m not Martha Stewart).

17. That despite all the aforementioned clearing out, my house is still no tidier and I get a sick feeling in my stomach and run around yelling “shit pit alert!” when someone’s about to pop over (don’t stress: if the kids are around I just run around mouthing it silently). I’ve actually been known to close the blinds and hide under the dining table to avoid having to open the door to them…yes I’m a bad human being. Maybe if I throw out some of the people who live here too, it might make a difference. Think I”m exaggerating? It’s all here; read it and weep.

18. That going into Sliema – a ‘town’ which is barely 12 minutes from the residential area where I live near the sea – feels like living in the UK countryside and doing a trip to London.

19. For Cheeky K to proudly present this to her father (who lost his locks many years ago) saying “Papa, this is you when your hair grows back”.

is-this-normal-k-pic Are you gonna tell her or am I…?

20. That I totally look up to Dory of Finding Nemo. Seriously? You’re surprised? Er…the forgetfulness scatty thing? There you go.

21. To buy a Running Backpack when I’ve not run in months [shuts eyes real tight and hope Hubster doesn’t read as far as this bit]. It looked so good.

22. That Musical M feels hard done by because she doesn’t have a smartphone. As far as I know, she’s not even close to being a teenager…so she’s got one hell of a wait. Mama didn’t get hers til she was 44.

23. That 13 years after our wedding, I still have pangs of regret every time I hear Etta James’ At Last because DAMN that should have been our wedding song! Bum.

24. For a new kettle and dishwasher cutlery basket (the latter was being thrown out by my sister and is three times better than the piddly one that came with our machine so I’m no fool) to make me this happy.

25. To count myself as a feminist, yet find myself smiling contentedly as I hand Hubster a Friday night V&T knowing I also have a homemade dessert all done and waiting in le frigérateur. See? First, the food processor, then the kettle and dishwasher thing and now this! Turns out, I have an inner 1950’s housewife. Who knew?

26. To be so known for locking myself out/misplacing my phone that one of my friends now answers my calls (assuming I’ve not left my phone somewhere and am actually able to call her) with “What have you done this time?” and another has appointed herself as my official carer. I love them. Really, I do. (Click on this to read more about that.)

27. That during one hot Summer week that included beach and pool fun with friends plus two fab nights out, the absolute hands-down highlight of my week was in fact inheriting a second-hand Ikea storage unit from a girlfriend.

28. To feel like a rebel when I don’t use my car indicator. Listen, I’ve lived in Malta for nine years. I’ve earned the right.

29. To burn toast as often as I do. I mean like all the time. That’s the title of my memoirs right there by the way: Burnt Toast and Other Disasters.

30. That despite knowing when my kids’ birthdays are, I’ve managed to do it yet again and have absolutely nothing organised for Cheeky K and Dreamy D’s birthdays that are both coming up. No really, zip, rien, nichts, nada, niente, naaaaaathing. I can feel the usual sense of panic rising in my tummy and my entire being going into a tail spin. How is this possible when I’m a stay-at-home-mum?! I’m even asking myself that one question that you never ever EVER ask a SAHM: what do you do all day? (Oh hang on…writing this blog post amongst others…)

31. To make just about the most disgusting soup in the history of soups. Seriously, how does one mess up soup exactly?

32. To live in a country that has literally months of the hottest most perfect conditions for repeated bed linen washing and drying and yet…start night time toilet training my son just as the rainy season hits. Sometimes, trying to help the environment by not having a tumbler dryer is a pisser. No pun intended (well, alright, just a little bit).

33. To erm, well, lie quite often when I do ‘favourite part of the day’ at kids’ bedtime because I can’t really tell them my favourite moment of the day is yet to come: when I go back downstairs and pour myself some mummy wine.

Talking of which, it’s favourite part of the day time again…

Now you tell me, IS it normal??

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When The Laughter Has To Stop

When-the-laughter-has-to-stop

Absolutely Prabulous and its associated Facebook and Twitter pages are dedicated to the funny side of life. I have been a little quiet on the blog of late, partly because I’m spending time with my kids for the school holidays but MAINLY because it does not feel like a time for great humour. I know it helps to laugh about things. After all laughter is the best medicine right? But there is no humour in the shooting down of an aeroplane carrying innocent people. There is nothing to giggle about over seemingly endless Middle East war It is no laughing matter when innocent girls get kidnapped from their school and the global media/news cycle moves on. There is no comedy in millions (yes I often speak in hyperbole but I assure you, I exaggerate not…it’s millions) of women and girls in India and several other nations being at enormous risk of being raped by depraved men.

I am so blessed to be living on a little island in the Med. It is by no means perfect (nowhere is) and there is a lot about Malta that could be improved (again, like anywhere). However, on balance, we are lucky enough to live in a bit of a time-warped bubble. A sun/sand/sea lifestyle, laughter and spending time with some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met: these are some of the threads that form the tapestry of my family’s life. I watched my kids today swimming and jumping into the beautiful pool we go to, playing happily and carefree with friends for hours. Tomorrow, we’ll be snorkelling in breathtakingly beautiful turquoise waters. I’m so happy for them but truth be told, I also feel slightly sick at the thought of how ridiculously lucky they are compared to so many kids out there. Clichéd? Probably. True? Definitely.

This little dusty rock is consistently ranked as one of the safest places to live in the world. Some would say this alone forms the fabric of an idyllic existence. My family and I don’t live lavishly. In fact, we have few luxuries compared to some people…but then we have many luxuries compared to half the planet’s population. It’s all relative and comes down to individual perception. But live, we do. We have a life, not a hellish existence. And right now, I’m aware of what a damned luxury it is to even have a life when so very many innocent people have lost their lives in the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the gang rapes in India, the war in Syria and so on and so on and so on. Who even knows what has become of those Nigerian girls?

 

Suffering.

More suffering.

Yet more suffering.

One of my friends poignantly described it as blood in her newsfeed.

So, out of respect for the victims of the utterly senseless tragedies being inflicted by humankind, this is my latest post. To you lovely followers who say my blog makes you laugh out loud, thank you for reading even though there was no comedy to be found here this time.

Sometimes, my friend, you and I have to stop laughing – if only for a little while.

 

Is This Normal?

Is It Normal?

 

I don’t know about you but I’m fairly sure it’s not normal:

1 To have had a knee operation but not remember which knee it was.

2 To answer “Just bring yourself back safe and sound” when Hubster asks “What shall I bring you from my work trip?” and then raid his suitcases when he’s back to see if he successfully deciphered my woman code and brought something…anything. Then I’m deflated when it turns out he did decipher the code and brought back…a set of wooden kitchen spatulas (if you’re a guy, don’t even think about asking “What..did you want metal ones then?”)

3 To forget the names of half the people I’ve met in the last five years and most of my colleagues in the noughties and yet remember every single person I worked with in Paris in the early nineties.

4 To make plans for the second Friday of the Holidays only to learn there is no second Friday because school resumes the second Wednesday (which I’d know if I occasionally looked at one of the two school calendars they send out).

5. To lose the two school calendars they sent out (ah…there you go).

6. For one of my kids to bring home a piece of work describing chores he does, claiming “I help clear up after a crafts activity” and “I clean up the dog’s poo”…when as far as I know, I never do crafts with them and I’m sure we don’t own a dog.

7. That there are flies on the inside of my window insect screens. (What’s the point of having the damned things and are the flies laughing at the other suckers who haven’t managed to make it into the house yet?)

8. To look at my wine glass after a friend and her kids leave, decide to have a cheeky refill, open the fridge and feel my heart fall into my socks because I can’t see the wine bottle.

9. To start a playdate with “Do you want a tea or juice before we move onto the hard stuff?”

10. For you to have read 9) and thought I said that to the kids.

11. To find a clump of hair on the floor and discover that my preschooler got busy with the kitchen scissors…and did such a good job of cutting her hair that I consider getting her to do mine.

12. To buy four desserts for my family…when there are in fact five of us.

13. To forget I collected my youngest from preschool, pull up outside my house and almost jump out of my skin when she calls my name from the back seat.

14. To end up watching Scooby Doo reruns (after the kids have gone to bed) because I’m desperate to watch something and there’s nothing on TV on the one night I’m not working.

15. To run out to the grocery store before it closes because I forgot the bacon for tonight’s pasta, get back and realise I also don’t have the wine I needed for it, go to pour myself some water but find the case is finished and know it’s too late to do anything about it and that I really should have cut this crap out way befoe my mid 40’s.

16. To stop off on the way home from errands to pick up a bottle of wine at only 11am (shame it was a Rose and I couldn’t use it for the pasta).

17. That my kids and I end up crying over episodes of Masterchef (well alright they get misty-eyed while I’m postively bawling…and let’s not even talk about the finale).

18. To discover that a mother who has never liked me and always ignored me is now following my blog.

19. To jump for joy when a new kids’ movie comes out but not be fussed when an adult one does (no, not that kind of adult movie…goodness me people!).

20. To get pelted with water by a guy driving by in a white van whilst I’m out running.

21. To tell myself every night I tuck them into bed that I will be a better non-shouty mother tomorrow…and then wake up the next morning and repeat the same behaviour.

Seriously, is it normal?

30 Things That Make Me Happy

 

30 Things That Make Me Happy

 

Happiness. We all want it don’t we? Personally, despite life’s inevitable low points, I think I’m more of a glass-half-full rather than half-empty sort (like I said, I think!). It”s what works for me. Yes, admittedly, when you live on a little island that is positively drenched in sunshine most of the year, it’s easy to be glass more-than-half-full. In fact, I honestly don’t think a day has gone by in the last few years, where I haven’t done a mental fist pump because of the glorious blue skies and sun we have here. For sure, I’ve bored my kids to tears (and probably half my FB friends) constantly saying how lucky we are.

So recently, a few things have got me thinking about the whole ‘happiness thing’. Pharrell Williams is one of them. He did something with that song; he got us thinking about the H word. (You might want to watch this fab clip of the man himself crying tears of yep, happiness about the impact of the song). It blew me away…such an honest real moving reaction.

Something else that got me thinking was a friend’s 100 Days of Happiness challenge documented over three months on FB. They made me smile and reminded me of something we’ve done ever since Musical M was three years old where we all share our ‘favourite moment of the day’ at bedtime. All three kids love it but even if we saw the Queen in a karaoke bar singing a One Direction song, you can bet money that if the kids watched a DVD that same day, then that trumps the Queen. Seriously though, even if you’ve had a rough day, it makes you focus back on the positive. Oh, don’t worry, no gloating here. I’m NO earth mother. Sometimes my favourite part of the day comes after I’ve got them into bed when I head downstairs to a glass of wine.

The other big ‘what makes me happy’ trigger was our Easter break; in particular, the day I took them to Golden Bay. One of those perfect days with lovely friends, 13 kids playing easily, relaxed lunch, ice creams, sand castles, ball games, sun lounger chilling, coffee in the sea wind and musical nostalgia-fest on the cafe radio. By late afternoon, it was just me and my lovely ‘baker in chief’ friend (who also features in the below list…I wonder if she can work out where) with our six kids. She got out one of those neat little pocket kites and what unfolded was one of those moments that I’ll always treasure. Now, bear in mind that I grew up in the suburbs of Greater London; a pretty ‘regular’ Indian upbringing (who can spot the subtext?), no beaches nearby, kite-flying unfamiliar to us and not much sunshine…a different time, a different generation, a different culture. Yet here I was, decades later on a Mediterranean beach not far from where I live, my eldest having fun climbing over rocks with baker lady’s eldest, my other two running around on the sand without a care in the world chasing after their kite-flying friends, all of us laughing in the evening sun. Parents do their best. Mine did theirs in their way. Yet it hit me, probably more than at any other point in my parenting experience, just how much your kids’ childhood can turn out to be different from your own (that stands for any culture).

Where am I going with this? Well, if Pharrell ever comes knocking on my door, I’ll tell him this is my official list of what makes me happy (for now).

(My) Happiness is…

1. Coming downstairs in the morning to find that hubster has done the packed lunches.

2. The stunning coastline drive to my house.

3. Grabbing a 15 minute breather with a cup of tea (and cake) after non-stop chores before heading out again for the school run.

4. The squeals of “Mama!” from my baby as she runs down her kindergarten corridor towards me smiling.

5. Coming across a film that is such a gem, it leaves its mark on me, becoming an ‘old friend’ I go to when I need comfort (About Time and Something’s Gotta Give are up there).

6. Pulling warm cake out of the oven on a rainy afternoon.

7. Finally figuring out who sings a particular song (We are People or Home recently for me.)

8. Yoga at Golden Bay under blue skies and palm trees.

9. The sight of my kids going nuts in the lounge dancing to my Spotify playlist.

10. Watching Musical M effortlessly dive into a pool, remembering how at that age I was too terrified to even get in.

11. Coffee with girlfriends.

12. Melting under a long hot shower after a long blissful run and sinking onto the sofa afterwards for trashy TV.

13. Hubster paying me a compliment (about whatever…not fussy…after 17 years together, I’ll take anything).

14. Discovering I can do something I never thought I could do.

15. An afternoon of board games to a soundtrack of old school tunes (making Bowie/U2/Beatles/Wonder fans out of the kids).

16. Coffee with myself.

17. Rushing through homework and dinner on auto pilot only to remember the next day is a holiday which equals no school which equals movie night.

18. Movie night!

19. Stopping after school at a beach café to grab a drink in the sun while the kids collect shells.

20. Wine…and the sound of the cork popping and the wonderful glug glug of the first pour.

21. Conquering a life-long fear.

22. Hearing my daughter sing and knowing, beyond natural maternal bias, that she really has got something.

23. Having a friend who would actually leave her house at night, get in the car and come over to mine with a bottle of wine if I said I had none in the house. 🙂

24. Home-made ice cream…see Hubster smile!

25. A beach-side restaurant finally opening a minute’s walk from our house where we can laze over Sunday lunch and let the kids literally step out the back onto the sand while we both have a coffee and a chat.

26. Meeting two cool chikitas, one whom I first met years ago but never actually got to know, the other whom I met quite randomly just a year ago – and knowing they will both be in my life forever.

27. Realising the best things happen when you’re least expecting them.

28. Hubster returning safe and sound from business trips.

29. The sound of my kids laughing. OF COURSE.

30. Launching a blog that has led me to discover the most heart-warming, surprising, affirming things about myself and others that I never expected.

This is my truth. These are what make me happy. So I’m clapping my hands, like Mr Williams said.

 

You can also find this on these linkies:

Mama-andmore
Potty Mouthed Mummy
Mamaduckquacks
Daysinbed.com

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