Galentine’s Day

Are you a Leslie Knope fan? I am. Parks and Recreation is one of my favourite US comedy shows and Leslie Knope is a great character. Perky without being sickly, loyal, ridiculously hard working, good at whatever she wants to be, caring, kick ass and the inventor of Galentine’s Day. What’s not to love?

If you don’t know what Parks and Rec is, we probably can’t be friends. You should definitely look it up. If you’re not sure what Galentine’s Day is, it’s this


Isn’t that just wonderful? I love a good Valentine’s Day as much as the next soppy old romantic. Cards, flowers, gestures of affection for the significant other in your life. But how often do you show the other people in your life, just how much they mean to you. The other mamas who keep you going when the chips are down, the lady with the bottle of bubbles who can insist you forget everything and calm the fuck down. The girls who know you from old, but still refuse to tell ? In my case I know it’s not enough.

We’re really bad in this country at expressing how much we love anyone outside our family or our partner. Why is that? Love can come in so many forms and be born out of so many things. Admiration, inspiration, respect. And yet, I can think of only a handful of people that I have told I love them in my entire life. It’s just not the ‘done’ thing in this country. I think we confuse love born out of respect with romantic love. They are very different, but maybe the cross over confuses us enough to not acknowledge it, either to each other or ourselves.

Which is why I think we really need something like Galentine’s Day in the UK. We need reminding to tell our gal pals that they are loved. I’m not suggesting we all run out and start a new industry in Galentines Day cards and such, but I think we can all use the reminder, in these busy lives we lead, to express to our bestest friends that we love them and what about them makes them so special to us. Or is that just me?

So on the 13th February reach out. Tell the amazing ladies in your life how you feel. I, for example, might be telling Helen, that I love how strong she is for her family, that she’s the most organised person I have ever met and has the most amazing blue eyes. Michelle, I might be mentioning has the most amazing capacity for love, a beautiful creative heart and almost Renaissance curls. Jane R, that she is so thoughtful and has such an awesome knowledge of local and national law (particularly planning ?) and one hell of a laugh! Laura, that she has the most wonderful hugs, amazing sense of direction and legs that just won’t quit! Nicola, that she can get anything done to the absolute best of her ability, has such a capacity for joy and a gorgeous smile. Rach, that she is always there with the wine when needed, can take any situation and turn it around to her advantage and has the best resting bitch face I have ever seen. And Emma F that she has the ability to make me belly laugh, cares so much about her family and has the best trout pout ever!

All of them are also amazing mothers, dealing with life in the best way they know how and they all inspire me every day. I love them.

You know, that kind of thing.

But one gal I haven’t seen for too long is my girl Bethany. Her full time work week and how precious her weekends have become, means I had to think of a really good reason to borrow her from her family for a few hours. So I’m taking her out for a special Galentine’s lunch to her favourite pub on Saturday. I can’t wait to catch up on allllllll the news about life up in that London, the exciting changes that have been going on and updating on how our children are doing. But most of all I can’t wait tell her how ridiculously amazing I think she is for doing all of it with such grace. And that I love her.

Happy Galentine’s ladies. Tell your tribe you love them.




Smells like teen spirit…

I was listening to a piece on the wireless the other day about the sense of smell and how it’s being used in the therapy for those with Alzheimer’s. It would seem a scent can access memories in a way simply nothing else can. And this didn’t surprise me in the slightest.

For example when Oscar was a baby (and still today when he’ll let us near his head!) we washed his hair with Burts Bees Shampoo. When the tiny trial bottle we started with was finished I kept the bottle in his special box, in the hope that should/when he stops using it and grows up I can go back to that tiny bottle, for a quick sniff and a remember.

Then I was talking to a friend this morning about her teenage son using Lynx body spray and it got me thinking about the iconic fragrance and what it means to me.

Firstly I still can’t believe it’s going! When I was a teen (and sob sob, we’re talking the mid 1990’s here) every boy I knew left a trail of unmistakable scent in their wake. It was sort of cheap talcy aftershave mixed with body odour. It’s teen boy to me. And here we are 20 years on and teen boys (or so I’m told) have yet to move on.

Which in one respect is great. It makes me giggle to think of teen boys smelling like their dads and uncles used to. It’s like some scented heirloom, a fragranced ancestory. Lynx, making teen girls cough since 1985 🙂

But in another respect it’s a little bit worrying. For me anyway. Lynx holds such a special place in my memory. Yes all the boys wore it but no one wore it like my biggest secondary (High) school crush. He was dashing even then, and always smelt of just Lynx (without the BO – maybe that’s what I liked?). I get one whiff of Lynx Africa and boom, I’m 16 and weak at the knees again. Not appropriate for a 36 year old married woman with a child! I was rather disturbed to hear the boys are still coating themselves in the cheap body spray before leaving the house. But then my friend told me the Africa scent has gone out of favour, well at least with her son’s friend group. Phew! I’m going to hope that this is the case the country over. In fact I’m hoping it’ll become so passe that Unilever will discontinue it altogether, if only for the benefit of 30 something women who can’t smell it without getting a completely involuntary reaction up their spine. I mean, there’s no way my own son can ever wear it. It has to go!

Although, I may go and buy some, to keep next to the bottle of CK One, in my memory box.

Just in case.



Life with Baby Kicks

Fancy a Cuppa?

So OK. Here’s the deal. There’s this tea set. It’s Fisher Price (a well known solid children’s brand) and it’s sweet and quite clever (as far as a tea set can be). The teapot makes noises like pouring water when it’s tilted. It also sings and talks, with an emphasis on manners (please, thank you, stuff like that). It comes with two cups and a plate with three cakes, each a different shape (a very basic shape sorter). We’ve got several friends who have this set and the boy LOVES it. He loves the noises it makes and in some kind of primeval way, he loves ‘making the tea’ (which is super weird as we don’t drink tea in our house and he’s certainly never seen a teapot in real use!). It’s gorgeous and clever and fun.

Oh yeah and it’s almost aggressively girly in it’s design.



Not only is it made in a traditionally female centric colour pallette, but check out the frills and flowers. It couldn’t be more clearly aimed at a female market than if it (and here come the generalisations girls) covered itself in chocolate and kittens.

But why is it?

My son is not the only boy I’ve seen playing with this set, or any other catering based toys for that matter, regardless of their colour or design.

And don’t we want our sons to be polite?

This set is called the “Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Say Please Tea Set”. One of it’s features is to “teach babies about.. manners, greetings and more”. Surely this is a toy all children could enjoy – after all manners matter! So why is it so very very very obviously a girls toy?

Or is it? Should the colour and design make a blind bit of difference to who plays with it. Should it matter to me? It clearly doesn’t matter to him. He loves it, it’s a really well made, smart toy. Why should I even be having this conversation? Why I haven’t I bought it for him already?

The answer is I don’t know. Something has stopped me. The signals this toy sends out to me as a parent is that this is not for my child. I feel it. On every level. And I hate that I do. What am I worried about? That other parents will judge me? So what if they do.

I’m so confused and conflicted.

I’ve spent my life, not caring about gender stereotypes. I fit them when I choose to. I have friends who fit them and those who don’t. It never bothered me. Last summer I put Oscar in a fluorescent pink t-shirt. Being blonde, it looked fab on him.

And what baby doesn't look super cute trying their daddy's shoes on?

And what baby doesn’t look super cute trying their daddy’s shoes on?

But I know he and I got some questioning looks when he wore it out and one woman in the park felt the need to congratulate me on being brave! Its a colour for god sake. What’s brave about that. Its doesn’t MEAN anything. Does it?

I know the parents of little girls who totally don’t have this problem. Their daughters wear blue and have trains, cars, blocks and a whole host of traditionally “boys” toys. It doesn’t bother them and their girls love them. And I say hooray for that. Who the hell wants a daughter that grows up thinking the only way is Barbie? So why should it be difficult for me to put my mind into the place where buying Oscar a pink tea set, or a doll or any other traditionally “girls” toys is OK?

The honest answer is I have no idea. And that makes me just a little bit sad.

So anyway, back to the tea set. It’s annoying me for two reasons

1) Why on earth it needs to be so very obviously a “girls” toy

2) That it’s bothering me enough to write this

It’s his birthday soon and despite all the rationalising I’ve done both here and at home, I am still unsure as to whether to get it for him. I want him to grow up to be a great host, a caring father. Why then won’t I give him the tools to practice these skills the way we do our daughters?

What would you do?