Category Archives: All about me

Celebrating 1 year of blogging

When I first launched my ‘I Did It Mummy’ blog, I would never have imagined that one year later I would still be sat at my computer writing my blog and actually finding something to say. In the last year, I have written 68 blog posts (that’s more than one a week!), had over 5,500 views and raised £172.00 for BIBS (Babies in Buscot Support) and I’m pretty proud of that. I have also tried a few new things – painting, photography, cake decoration, using a slow cooker for the first time, attempted a make over (clearly still a work in progress!), tried out a bit of sewing, taken up netball and found myself a lovely part-time job, after two and three quarter years as a stay-at-home-Mum. The children have also hit some pretty major milestones – Benjamin has learnt to walk and has turned into a very chatty nearly 2 year old (more of that in an upcoming blog post!) and Ava has got her 5 metres at swimming and left pre-school. My long-suffering husband has recently achieved a couple of cool things too. I have promised I will dedicate a blog post to him soon so more of that then!

In the spirit of my blog ‘Because there’s a first time for everything’, I thought just for fun I would test out the poll functionality on this blog. I have looked at my readership and come up with my top 10 blog posts over the last year and I want to know what you have enjoyed reading so vote now!

A year in review wouldn’t be complete without looking at the less popular posts, so here’s five posts that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Maybe they’ll get another few hits by reposting them…

1. Olympic dreams – https://ididitmummy.com/2012/07/28/olympic-dreams/
2. Pimp my cupcake – https://ididitmummy.com/2012/08/04/pimp-my-cupcake/
3. ‘Tis the season to get cooking – https://ididitmummy.com/2012/12/30/tis-the-season-to-get-cooking/
4. Where’s my sticker? – https://ididitmummy.com/2012/08/31/wheres-my-sticker/
5. 136 sellers, 445 shoppers and £4.5k raised for the NCT- https://ididitmummy.com/2012/11/20/136-sellers-445-shoppers-and-4-5k-raised-for-the-nct/

As ever I am on the look out for new things to try, so if you have any ideas, please feel free to ping them my way and if they can help raise money for BIBS, then all the better!

‘I Did It Mummy’ fundraising for BIBS – https://www.justgiving.com/IDidItMummy

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Holiday

Just writing the word ‘holiday’ makes me a little blue that our fabulous Tuscan adventure is all done and dusted. We had spent six months dreaming about it and it didn’t disappoint. It’s been almost 3 years since Andy, Ava and I last holidayed abroad and this was our first holiday as a family of four. As DINKY’s, we were used to taking two foreign trips a year and perhaps we had become a little complacent about our ability to do so. There’s nothing like really earning your holiday to make you appreciate it just that little bit more and temperatures of between 25 and 35 degrees centigrade to warm the soul.

I hope you don’t mind me being a little self indulgent but I’m going to spread the holiday theme over two blog posts, starting with our holiday highs and lows. I’ll make sure I pack the blog posts with some holiday snaps but don’t worry, I won’t upload all 500 of them!

So what sort of holiday would a family of 4 with two young children plump for? A self catering driving holiday around Italy of course. Admittedly it was a grown up holiday with the kids in tow but Andy and I are easily bored and start to get twitchy feet after a couple of days relaxing by the pool.

No summary of Italy would be complete without the Italian clichés! First there’s the food – pizza, pasta and gelato, then there’s the leather handbags and fabulous shoes and if you can’t afford the genuine article, there is always someone standing on a street corner just waiting to sell you the next best thing!  Finally there are the mopeds and no Italian house would be complete without a decent set of shutters.

Italian Cliches

Holiday Highs and Lows

13 days, 12 nights and 11 stops featuring Milan – Portofino – Genoa – Volterra – Pisa – Lucca – Siena – Florence – Lake Garda – Venice – Verona

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Portofino – Simply divine.  A small coastal village bathed in luxury (the ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ cruiser was moored in the harbour when we were there). Drive away from here and you’ll wonder if it was all a dream.

Genoa – A city of sharp contrasts. If you ever find yourself here (and I wouldn’t recommend making a special trip), dinner at sunset by the harbour is a must. Wonder beyond the harbour and you could find yourself accidentally wondering through the narrow alleys of the red light district as we did. Andy’s internal sat nav is rarely wrong when it comes to finding our way but it has no filter on it. Thankfully the children were blissfully unaware!

Volterra – A little piece of my heart will forever be left in this Tuscan town. It certainly didn’t disappoint with its red roofs, cobbled streets, lovely array of shops, fabulous views of the valley below and welcoming locals. The owner of our villa, Sara was the perfect ambassador for this region. Her family owns one of the patisseries in town and we were given preferential rates on our morning visits. She even knocked on our door with pizza she had freshly made one night. The villa was perfectly located down a windy road, adorned with poppies and perched on the hillside where at night you could see and hear the fire flies buzzing around. During the day, the pool offered a welcome break from the hot Tuscan sun.

Pisa – We left Pisa feeling rather deflated. Ignoring the advice of our Lonely Planet guide book, we headed straight to the ‘Pièce de résistance’,  the Leaning Tower of Pisa and although an outstanding example of disastrous architecture, it was not in itself enough to sell the city. The guide book recommended meandering along the Arno river first, before finishing at the Leaning Tower and I can see why. Seeing the Leaning Tower first, is like someone spoiling the ending of a great book, leaving you questioning what was the point. The over zealous, mainly illegal, souvenir sellers, made us uneasy and added to our sense of disappointment.

Lucca – A hidden gem located behind Renaissance walls. The perfect antidote to Pisa (we visited it the same day). Charming and relaxed.

Siena – My new favourite Italian city. Majestically picturesque, an absolute must see on any Tuscan tour. The view from the top of the tower was one to behold and had Ava commenting ‘I can see for miles!’

Florence – It is said that your heart will either belong to Florence or Siena and mine belongs to Siena. That said, we had a lovely day wondering around Florence and exploring its Renaissance architecture.

Lake Garda – Having stayed in a beautiful villa with fabulous views and a swimming pool to ourselves for a week (we really were spoiled), the caravan park that we booked at Lake Garda wasn’t quite as appealing. The caravans were pitted nose to tail and the pool was overcrowded with young families (yes, we were one of them, with a tantrum throwing toddler to boot!). The added joy on the first night (we only stayed two nights) was that we could hear the disco with top tunes including the Macarena and Grease Lightning! That said Pescheria, the nearest town to our caravan site was delightful and Sirmione, our last stop of our holiday, was exquisite.

Venice – Technically Venice was not on our itinerary but when we realised we could drive to it in a mere hour and a half from Lake Garda, our promise to ourselves not to visit somewhere we had previously been as a couple (so as not to ruin our memories) was broken. The lure of going back to Venice where we got engaged 12 years ago was too much, although scary as hell with two young children! That aside, Venice will always be the place where Mr P asked me to be his Mrs P!

Verona – The city of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. A seductive place that lures you in. Our whistle stop tour took us to Juliet’s house and the famous balcony, where we etched our names on the wall alongside countless others. I suspect this wall is painted over from time to time but one day I intend to go back and see a performance in the Roman Theater and will drop by the wall to find out.

Italy must have the biggest concentration of beautiful cities in the world and I want to see more. Where should we visit next? Please post recommendations below.

I Did It Mummy’ fundraising for BIBS – https://www.justgiving.com/IDidItMummy

Addiction

My name is Alison Popple and I am addicted to ‘Word with friends’. There, I said it out loud and now it is in black and white for all to see. I know it’s not really a serious addiction but it definitely affects those around me. It is at least 50% of the reason why I have my phone glued to my hand and probably in part why I have developed an odd lump on my little finger. It occupies time when I should be concentrating 100% on my children. I only play with likeminded people who play every day like me (holidays are allowed as long as there is no 3G or Wifi!). I can’t possibly wait a week for another word! Why is this an ‘I Did It Mummy’ moment, I hear you ask? Well today I scored my highest score for a single word – 77 points for the word ‘QUEERS’ and I’m pretty pleased with myself. This will do nothing to quell my addiction.

Words with friends

‘I Did It Mummy’ fundraising for BIBS – https://www.justgiving.com/IDidItMummy

Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work I go…

With my eldest starting big school in the Autumn and my youngest turning 2 (where has the time gone?) this Summer,  I had become acutely aware that the baby years are almost behind me and that I should start thinking about my next step. In my head I was laying the foundations for my job search, by bookmarking recruitment and company websites of interest, with the aim of starting the job hunt in earnest after my daughter had settled in at school. In the 2 years, 9 months and 17 days I have spent as a Stay-at-home-Mum, my priorities have clearly changed. I no longer seek to climb the career ladder (for now!) and having spent a lot of time with my children, I still want to be there at the school gate and to support them. This probably equates to having my cake and eating it…don’t mind if I do!

I long ago discounted the notion of starting my own business or having a crack at the numerous direct selling opportunities that promise to give you the flexibility around your home life but in reality mean that you fit in work when the children are napping or after they are in bed.  How would I find time to write my blog if I did? I knew too that I would not and could not work full-time or spend many an evening on a laptop. It just doesn’t work for our current family dynamic and we are fortunate that I don’t have to. We don’t have the luxury of free grandparent childcare so any job would have to cover childcare costs but to be honest, I don’t think that our parents should be looking after our children on a regular basis (the odd night or weekend is very welcome though!). They’ve been there, done that and I rather suspect I will feel much the same when I reach that stage in my life.

Anyway, I was after that elusive part-time job where I could still use my brain but be there for my children. So imagine my reaction while I was surfing one of the recruitment websites that was advertising for a part-time, term time only job based in Reading. As a bonus it was an industry that I am familiar with and as a charity, my recent voluntary work with the NCT has given me some valuable extra experience. It ticked all the boxes and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t ignore. I was disheartened to find that there had already been 100+ applications according to the recruitment website and felt that my chances of landing the role were slim. Fortunately the company name was mentioned in the ad and I decided to apply directly through the organisation’s website in the hope of giving myself a better chance. I suspect that this, combined with the fact that I put in my application at the eleventh hour, improved my chances.

Two weeks after going for the interview I was offered the job and two weeks after that I started work. I was lucky to be able to negotiate my working hours so that it would fall on my daughter’s pre-school days and even more fortunate that my next door neighbour has just started childminding again. I love it when a plan comes together! My only debate now is how to categorise myself. I am technically no longer a Stay-at-home-Mum but equally I don’t feel like a working mum yet and with 6 glorious weeks to spend with my children this summer holidays, I suspect I will be more confused than ever on what to call myself.

And for those of you wondering whether I have managed to maintain my straight hair and make up for work, it’s only been 3 weeks, so yes. Give me another month and the curly hair and natural face of the 4 days that I don’t work may make an appearance!

‘I Did It Mummy’ fundraising for BIBS – https://www.justgiving.com/IDidItMummy

All made up and somewhere to go

Regular readers of my blog may remember my posts entitled ‘9 years of matrimony and it’s time for a change’ –https://ididitmummy.com/2012/09/07/9-years-of-matrimony-and-its-time-for-a-change/ and ‘I pledge allegiance to my hair’ – https://ididitmummy.com/2012/09/27/i-pledge-allegiance-to-my-hair/ in which I was planning to undergo a mini-makeover. Back in September, I had my eyebrows threaded for the first time which was the start of the change. I thought I could maintain these myself with my tweezers but sadly I was mistaken. I also had my hair cut and although I was planning to embrace my natural curls, I had decided that straight hair really did suit me better and that curly hair should be reserved for fancy dress only. Needless to say as a busy Mum of two young children and wife to one not quite so young husband, my pledge to my hair has been broken many times over the last six months. And somehow the new makeup and wardrobe update fell by the wayside.

That was until now. Later this year I will celebrate 10 years of marriage, as well as officially reaching my mid-30’s so a few things really do need to change, plus this week I will be starting a new job…more of that in another post. So that’s three reasons to try and improve myself.

Not only has it been nearly 10 years since I got married, it has also been nearly 10 years since I last visited a makeup counter to have my makeup done professionally. The skin of a mid 20-something is very different to the skin of a mid 30-something. Back then I went to the Chanel counter and was advised that a powder foundation would be perfect for my wrinkle-free skin. Following a visit to the Bobby Brown counter a few weeks ago, where ironically I was served by a girl of 24 (just the age I was when I got married), I was advised that a liquid foundation would make my haggard (my words, not hers) skin appear flawless. Finally I understand why people talk about painting their face on in the morning! I had intended to just have some concealer and foundation put on but while I was sat in the chair, I was persuaded to try some blusher, eye shadow, lipstick and mascara. Take a look at the before, during and after shots below…

And here’s the amount of product required to achieve the look…

Makeup

Credit to me, I only purchased what I came in for, as I have the rest at home, albeit not at Bobby Brown prices. So when I start my new job this week, I will don some new clothes, straighten my hair and paint my face (probably minus the mascara for a day look).

‘I Did It Mummy’ fundraising for BIBS – https://www.justgiving.com/IDidItMummy

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