Light of my life

I don’t want this blog to become all advertisey or anything, but when I like something I can become a bit evangelical. I just wanted to share with you a couple of products I think are amazing, and both are lights.

 

The first is a Lumie Alarm Clock. This is a dawn simulator lamp; the idea being that you set the alarm for a certain time, and the light very gently starts to come on half an hour before. By the time your alarm goes off your room is bathed in a lovely warm glow and your body is ready to wake up. When we are asleep the brain produces melatonin which makes us sleepy. This chemical is triggered according to brightness; when it gets dark the brain starts to produce melatonin, making us feel sleepy. When it is light, the brain stops producing it.

 

I first got my Lumie clock about 6 or 7 years ago, after a night away in a hotel for my friend’s wedding. DH and went to bed at a perfectly respectable time, and set our alarm for about 8am. Not realising the hotel had blackout curtains, when the alarm woke us up in the pitch black we were both completely disoriented, and it felt like it was the middle of the night still, even after a respectable night’s sleep. After that I did a bit of research and soon bought the Sunray100. I can honestly say it was life changing. Mornings were suddenly much easier. I was no longer waking up feeling nauseous and shattered, but just about ready to face the day.

The Sunray100 dawn simulator

We only really use it in the winter, as natural light suffices in the summer months. As well as a dawn simulator, and a sunset simulator, the Lumie alarm clock can also be used as a bedside lamp. When I was still breastfeeding each of my children in the night I would put the light on very low, so that I could see what I was doing, but not be too disruptive. In fact when the babies were tiny and in my room we would sleep with the just just on, like a night light, all night.

The newst fancy Lumie Bodyclock

As I said I have the Sunray100. Off course now it’s on to the fancy Bodyclock Elite 300 with a radio and everything. I must admit I could do with a new one. The Sunray 100 has lasted me well, but the buttons are starting to stick a little, and the new designs are much slicker. However, mine is still going strong. I can’t recall ever having to change the special light bulb in the time I’ve had it. It has survived being drowned with a cup of tea, and several sprays with flying glasses of water. Still, if the people from Lumie are reading, I’ve been very complimentary and all, I have convinced at 4 members of my family to buy one, and now hopefully several blog readers…just saying🙂

 

Now, these clocks are quite expensive, but I can’t recommend them enough. I’m going to be buying one for the girls when they finally go into the same room together, as Iris especially, is waking up extremely grumpy until she has had her hit of milk, and comes into the bedroom squinting and crying at the light. The idea with the dawn simulators is that your brain has already registered the light, so you don’t have that awful blinding moment when you switch the light on in the morning.

 

Now, for balance, just to show you that this isn’t an advert, the Pure Twilight also looks very cool and has a digital radio (keep up Lumie!).

The second light product I want to recommend is the Twilight Turtle by Cloud B. It is the frigging cutest light you will ever see. It projects stars and the moon onto the ceiling, in 3 choices of colours, turning off after 45 minutes. My mum bought one for Iris, but it was soon commandeered by Betty. That was fine at first, as Iris, until recently, was mostly feeding to sleep. Now, however, Iris is mostly crying herself to sleep, after continually performing breastfeeding gymnastics until I get fed up and put her down. Betty, by this time, is reluctant to relinquish the Turtle. DH pointed out that she often puts it on when she wakes in the night, so it would be mean to take it away. Cue the Twilight Ladybird. I lied before, this is actually the cutest light you have ever seen. Same as the Turtle, both show 8 or 9 constellations and the moon. The Turtle glows either green, amber or blue; the ladybird red, green or blue. They are quite expensive, at around £30, but are a hit with both the kids.

Get these on your Christmas lists, you won’t regret it!

Thank you, thank you…

Thank you, thank you so much <flaps hands at eyes>. I just can’t believe it. I really don’t deserve it, it’s just so unexpect. I just want to thank my mum, and my husband, my dentist <dabs eyes> to that very special person, you know who you are. Tom <clutches fist to chest> thank you for the words.

 

I’ve won an award, well, kind of. Party Spanner has nominated me for a Tell Me About Yourself Award. Apparently I’m meant to tell you seven secrets about myself, and then tell you about about some blogs that I like.

Well, the truth is, I rarely have secrets. I’m an open book. My postman knows as much about my life as my mother! So I will just tell you some little known facts about myself:

 

1) I had a phobia of trains until I was about 18

2) I can’t play any musical instruments

3) In the evenings sometimes make DH’s tea with a decaffeinated tea bag, as I think it will help him sleep better. He thinks he can tell the difference but he has never mentioned it

4) I got a B in one of my GCSEs but rarely tell anyone and stick to the story that I got straight As and A*s (well, all the rest were, and my Geography teacher didn’t like me)

5) When Betty was a newborn, I was addicted to Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica

6) I don’t chew baked beans, I just swallow them down. I don’t like the texture of pulses

7) I failed 3 driving tests

 

There, those are my deepest darkest secrets. And now for some blogs I like:

Free Your Parenting

Meme Rose

Attic 24

Planet June

Mum of All Trades

Facing up to things

Stitch This

Suburban Superwoman

Mostly craft blogs, and some very inspirational parenting blogs (and I don’t really ‘do’ parenting blogs as a rule). Do check them out. And once again, thank you, thank you so much. I’m just so blessed to be here – no, please don’t play the music!

Super (quick) Ted

Inspired by Stitch This, I’ve decided my go-to Christmas gifts for kids this year is this teddy bear. He is super quick and easy to make. The rustic look is the aim so rough edges and uneven stitching is fine!

This lovely fabric is from Piglet’s Pincushion on eBay, and the bear is sewn using embroidery floss. A thin cotton yarn would probably be more cost effective though. This one took me the length of two episodes of Never Mind the Buzzcocks on iplayer so a little over an hour. Good job as I have at least 5 more to make!

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Trip the light fantastic

A while ago I posted about some works in progress. I finally finished my blanket-turned-lampshade-cover, and I do rather like it. The original lampshade was gold, and when the light was on the gold showed through and didn’t look right. I searched for ages for a white one in the usual places, Homebase, B&Q, Wilkos, Argos (yeah, we’re high end in this house!). But eventually eBay was to become my saviour, and a lampshade was swiftly delivered from The Lighting Warehouse. I crocheted the squares together essentially into a bandeau, no gluing, sewing or fixing. The crochet is just slipped over the shade.

It’s on a rather ugly uplighter at the moment, but I’m going to keep an eye out for a nice base.

MeMe Rose also wonders if she will ever make a blanket, and settles for a lampshade instead

My inspiration was from MeMe Rose, who is  soon going to think I am stalking her (the Irises I linked to previously were hers). She has enviable amounts of crochet in her house – well, I’m envious anyway!

A post about not very much

So, I’m having a bit of bloggers’ block. Well, not in the way that I have nothing to say. I ALWAYS have something to say. But none of it is particularly interesting. This blog has been great at helping me focus, but the more I get into the blogosphere the more pressure I feel to say something insightful, entertaining or useful.

Sometime I get caught up thinking about all of the crap accumulating on the internet. Terabytes and terabytes, petabytes even of information (a petabyte is 1000 terabytes. Now don’t say I’m not educational!) being sent out into the ether. Where does it go? Will we one day be subsumed by digital information? Swallowed by web pages such as The Pylon Appreciation Society, Scarf Collecting and Paris Hilton. Can you recycle bytes? You can save over stuff I suppose. But where does the stuff that you’ve saved go? It doesn’t just disintegrate. Surely it stays etched in microchips forever. In case someone does actually press delete on a massive server somewhere the Wayback Machine has been archiving the internet since 1996.

I bemoaned my bloggers’ block on the Mumsnet Bloggers Network earlier, and one of my fellow bloggers pointed out that blogs are a reflection of ourselves, and I promised when I started this blog that I would be honest, non-smuggy, and try not to portray an unrealistic lifestyle. So, I am going to stop comparing my blog to some of the other picture perfect blogs out there and just be myself. Well, a version of myself anyway…

I’m one of those people who if you ask “How are you?” I’ll really tell you! So, thanks for asking, I’m ok. Had a tough day with the kids. Iris is slowly gaining two molars and has a cold so is clingy and grumpy. Betty has an asthmatic cough with is keeping her awake at night, so between the two of them we are not getting much sleep. DH was a at work today, so I was grumpy and the kids watched TV.

We did have a brief sojourn to the newly opened Hobbycraft in town. I both love and loathe Hobbycraft, it’s easy and covers many crafts, but I find it expensive and the staff inexperienced. It promotes crafting by numbers. There was a DIY gingerbread house kit with the gingerbread already made! However, I decided stop stop being so snobby and appreciate that many people are embracing crafting in a variety of ways.

I was gunning for a goody bag, but despite getting there 5 minutes after it opened, it was packed already and I missed out. DH had taken the stroller in his car and left me with the pushchair with a flat tyre. So not a great start. Plus it is hard to concentrate with a whining 1 year old and a 4 year old who wants everything. So all in all not very successful. I did see a couple if friends in there which was nice though. I am still making stuff, but it’s pretty slow going at the moment. I think that is contributing to the bloggers’ block.

My Sainsbury’s shopping delivery came, with a nice treat of some Hagan Daaz which I am going to enjoy tonight. Belgian Chocolate is the flavour for me. An early night to follow, and no, not in a fun way. To compensate for the night wakings. It’s a bit miserable though, as it means very little time between the kids going to bed and me going to bed.

Still, it won’t last. And nor will this bloggers’ block hopefully.

World Kindness Day: Be kind, just not randomly

Today is World Kindness Day. It started in 1998 with the World Kindness Movement. The purpose of World Kindness Day is, according the the World Kindness Movement website, is: to look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion; and realise we are citizens of the world. As world citizens we have a commonality, and must realise that if progress is to be made in human relations and endeavours, if we are to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence, we must focus on what we have in common.

According to Dr David Hamilton, author of Why Kindness is Good For You, kindness can have physical benefits, as well as emotional benefits. When a purpose performs an act of kindness, the brain produces various chemicals which act as nature’s morphine, hence the term ‘helper’s high’. It’s not just these feel good effects that take place. The nervous system and cardio vascular system both relax, blood pressure reduces. Being kind is actually good for your health.

Aside from the benefits to you, the obvious benefit to being kind is the help you have given someone else. Acts of kindness, small and large, can make a difference to someone’s life, acts that may be remembered for ever.

But unasked acts of kindness may not always have the desired effect on the people they are aimed at. Oliver Burkeman, in his book Help, discusses the idea of RAKs, or Random Acts of Kindness. Such acts that are encouraged by the RAK movement are paying the tab of the person behind you in a shop or restaurant, or leaving a bag of groceries on a neighbour’s doorstep. But Burkeman suggests that while the giver may be suffused with warmth at their act of generosity, the receiver is often left with feelings of hostility. Studies suggest that receivers of random acts of kindness feel a sense of indebtedness which troubles them. This is keenly exploited by companies offering free gifts. Some companies offer gifts with a purchase, because it sweetens the deal. Some companies give you a free gift before you even make a purchase, stands at trade shows, charities sending pens and address labels through the post, because once you have that ‘gift’ in your hands you feel a sense of debt towards the company, nudging you into making an order or a donation.

Talking of charities, another controversial act of kindness is Operation Christmas Child, a charity which collects and distributes boxes filled with goodies for ‘deprived’ children for Christmas, lovingly donated by schools, Brownie packs and church groups. However, the gifts come with an added extra, a Christian evangelical booklet and an invitation to a 12 lesson discipleship programme, which I am sure they really appreciate in countries where the main religion is Hinduism or Islam. One Mumsnetter was bemused when her daughter in a middle class Private Day Nursery in Bosnia received an OCC box one Christmas. That’s not to mention the cost, both financial and environmental, of shipping shoeboxes full of plastic goods, made in China and India, from the UK, back to China and India, probably to the children making such goods in the first place. There is a reason why the large charities such as Red Cross and Save the Children don’t operate similar schemes. They know that the money is better targeted into local community projects with lasting benefits. But such altruism isn’t quite as fun, and doesn’t make parents and school children feel quite so warm and cosy inside does it? Nor does it give Samaritan’s Purse, the charity behind Operation Christmas Child, the opportunity to feel good about itself for spreading the word of God.

Don’t get me wrong, my point isn’t not to do acts of kindness. And I think true altruism, where there is absolutely nothing to be gained for the giver, is very rare, and that’s ok. It doesn’t matter if you feel good about being good. But think about where you target your kindness. The randomness some acts of kindness that unsettles people, and if they think there is an agenda behind it they will be left with a feeling of discomfort. I also think kindness involving money or goods is often ill advised, especially in relationships that aren’t that close. It creates a power imbalance, can feel patronising, and may make the receiver feel in a debt that they can’t repay. On the other hand, there are acts of kindness that cost nothing but time, or a little emotional energy. You can’t put a price on them, and that is probably a good thing.

It’s those acts of kindness that really make a difference, that stay with you. For me, it’s the countless people who have helped me up and down stairs with the pushchair. The shop assistant in Lush who gave my daughter a bath bomb. My friend’s husband taking my eldest daughter out for a few hours when I had a newborn and I was struggling. My husband bringing me home a book from the library that he thought I’d like. My mum insisting that I take all my washing for her to do when I visit, despite the fact that I am 30 and own my own washing machine and tumble drier. The cars that let me out of the junction in the morning so I am not waiting forever to get to work. The man working in the Sainsbury’s car park who replaced the pot of yoghurt that fell out of my overloaded trolley. The pharmacy assistant in Boots, who refused to sell me any sleeping tablets when I was heavily pregnant and suffering from insomnia, but hugged and comforted me as I sobbed on her shoulder.

Perform your own act of kindness on World Kindness Day. But when you do, make sure it is mostly about the receiver and what is right for them. It may not always be what is right for you, but you’ll still have the health benefits!

Let me know if any acts of kindness have stayed with you, or your good ideas for simple, free and useful acts of kindness.

I couldn't find any pictures to show kindness that weren't completely cliched, so here is a picture of a cinnamon bun my husband kindly brought me back from Ikea

Sloooowwww

Who lives in a house like this?

This darling sewing box house was created by Stich This just for giving away! If it were mine I couldn’t bear to part with it. She talks in this post and her next post about the beauty of ‘slow’. Stitch This is somewhat forced into the slow movement by, as she puts it, ‘Uncle Parkinson’. But she never lets it stop her embarking on projects like the sewing box house above.

 

Having read her blog post today, when I saw the book ‘In Praise of Slow’ by Carl Honore in the library to today I had to pick it up. All this talk of slow also means I can’t get out of my head this beautiful song, ‘Slow’ by Rumer.

 

 

I’m a terminal rusher, terrified of being late (though with two young kids I invariably am), I talk quickly and read quickly, but when I rush I always seem to make mistakes, injure myself in some way, and drop things. Time to embrace Slow I think.

Cushty

I Heart My Homemade Cushion

So I mentioned that we’ve been trying to make our house a little more of a home. DH and I have had the week off this week, with big plans, but as usual, with two young kids, everything takes much longer than you think. But we managed a few things. I’m incredibly pleased with my crocheted heart cushion. No, I’m not obsessed with hearts by the way (don’t get me started on grown women ‘collecting’ things like hearts, elephants, Disney memorabilia…!). But hearts are so nice and cheerful, are they not?

 

I used a pattern from The Left Side of Crochet, which I love and will definitely use again, especially as by now I know it off by heart (excuse the pun!). I whip stitched the 16 squares together, then whip stitched (is that an Americanism? I’m not sure what the UK equivalent is) the crocheted cover straight onto a cheap and cheerful, plain white Ikea cushion. I didn’t do the back, just stitched the from straight on. The cover doesn’t even come off the Ikea cushion. I’m hoping that the whole thing can go straight in the wash if necessary *crosses fingers*.