25 random facts about Laura

So yesterday, I met up with Laura Redmond for a coffee and catch-up. And, as always, Laura brought some sunshine with her- she lit the café up with her personality. As we got into our chat, Laura told me a few stories about her life which made me laugh me so much, my bladder went into mummy mode!”- THANKS Laura. Since Laura is a regular contributor for KemiKids, It is only fair she shared some facts with you. Yvonne xxx
Laura (2 of 3)

  1. I’m an only child – not spoilt in any way I assure you!
  2. I love the colours green, blue and yellow. They make me happy
  3. Johnny Depp has kissed me. Lucky boy.
  4. I’m a singer. A pretty dreadful one but I love to sing a power ballad on a windy day and pretend I’m in the video as the air whips around me
  5. Comedy nights are one of my favourite ways to spend an evening. Frankie Boyle was the latest. Laughter is the best medicine
  6. I have very few boundaries. If there’s a line I’m usually the one to jump right over it – the more smutty, controversial or outrageous the better. It’s hard to shock me and I don’t judge. See point 5
  7. Linford Christie and I have shared a hot tub – with a nude, elderly Dutch couple.  All the ‘lunchbox’ rumours are entirely true. Not that I was looking!
  8. My Saturday job was working in libraries – I always cancelled my friend’s fines!
  9. I cannot ride a bike. I intend to fix this in 2016
  10. Many years ago, I was so angry with someone that I cleaned the toilet bowl with their toothbrush. Small victory.Laura (1 of 1)
  11. Laughing is something I’m really good at! I laugh with people but not at them. I’m the first person to laugh at myself. We’re all pretty ridiculous about stuff at times – laughter cuts through the idiocy
  12. When I was 21, I had a boil on my bum that was so bad it had to be cut out. I was told this generally only happened to middle-aged, male, long-distance lorry drivers. Go figure
  13. I met a man who was so drunk when he met me he picked me up and dropped me breaking my new watch. I told him to jog on. By chance, we met again six weeks later. I married that man and vowed to love him forever. I’ve never regretted that.
  14. I have scaled the Atlas Mountains in a pair of converse with a very dear friend. Not the smartest move in retrospect
  15. At 39, I’m really not sure who I am outside of being a mum. I’m working on this.
  16. My heritage is Irish and I’m so proud of this. The most welcome nation in the world.
  17. I love books and can speed read. My degree is in English Language & Literature presented to me by Princess Anne (we had loads in common obvs). I’ve just started to write for myself. Musings and anecdotes. It’s therapeuticLaura (3 of 3)
  18. Off the back of no.17, I do love proofreading. I’m never happier than with a red pen in hand. Grammar matters!
  19. I’ve always wanted a tattoo but could never decide on a design I wanted for life so thus far, I’m tattoo free.
  20. I am a mother of three. One didn’t make it but that’s irrelevant. Three are counted.
  21. If there’s a party, I’m in my element. Chatting, dancing, laughing, drinking. It’s all totally up my street
  22. A very dear friend and I (see no. 14) have been kicked out of a Harry Hill comedy set. We were funnier. Fact. Pattern emerging about said very dear friend.
  23. I have always wanted champagne coupes rather than flutes. They remind me of glamorous Hollywood movies from the 50s. They’re not easy to come by but I finally own some.
  24. Quiz nights are just brilliant! I often win the wooden spoon but it’s the taking part that counts. Honestly.
  25. I’ve walked the Great Wall of China – well, some of it, I only had 10 days!

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Reneé Davis

My Life – Reneé Davis

 Reneé Davis is the founder of the Mummy Tries and a mum of three. She is also the author of  Become the best You .  Reneé talks Motherhood, fears and her favourite drink.  Reneé is an incredible woman with an incredible story. Meet Reneé Davis.

Reneé Davis

 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I’m up most nights with one or more of the children, and mornings are rather hectic in our house. The kids are usually up first demanding food and drinks somewhere between 5-6am. Roughly once a week, I stay up after settling them back to sleep at 3-4am, and this is when I get a lot of writing done. I’m more often than not drinking a very large cup of freshly brewed coffee by 6 am!

 

What type of parent are you? I’d say I’m firm but fair. My kids would probably say I’m strict and mean!

 

What is the coolest thing about being a mum of three? Watching the three of them play nicely can be heart-meltingly wonderful.

 

What is the lesson your kids have taught you? They are a constant reminder to me to try and be the best I can possibly be. This might sound corny, but I had a severely dysfunctional upbringing, and if there is one thing I’ve learnt over the years it’s that actions are what matter, words are irrelevant when all is said and done.

 

What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?A true friend will never judge, never look down and never abandon you in your hour of need. If you have a spat and need some distance, they will always come back to you somehow.  

 

Favourite drink? Gin and tonic.

 

What is happening in your life at this minute? Wow, where to start? My husband and I made the decision to pull our 6yo out of school and start home educating her in November, and that takes up most of my energy at the moment. I’m currently writing a novel and hope to have a first draft completed by the summer, so snippets of spare time goes into that. My blog work is sporadic, but can take up a fair bit of time too. Then I try and see friends as much as I can. In addition to all this we eat the Paleo way, so a lot of thought goes into the food we eat.

love bomb

 

Favourite dessert? It used to be creme brulee but I haven’t had one in years as I don’t eat sugar. I make a mean chocolate mousse using avocado as the base.

 

What is your most treasured possession? My wedding rings.

 

What is your best quote? “Be who you are and say what you feel, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss.

 

What are you most proud of that apart from motherhood? My blog and book are huge accomplishments.

 

What keeps you up at night? My kids! Eldest and youngest are terrible sleepers *sigh*

 

What does motherhood mean to you? It means everything. I left home when I was 15, and it took me a long time to come to terms with what I’d been through as a kid, then eleven years ago made the agonising decision to cut ties with my entire family. There was a time when having a family of my own seemed so far out of reach, almost impossible. Now that I do have one, I’m very aware that I will only get one shot at it.

 

What is your greatest fear? Dying young and leaving my kids without a mum. I’m terrified of even the thought of it.

 

Describe yourself in three words.  Genuine. Ambitious. Open-Minded.

 

Do you think women can have it all? No, I don’t. I think women have been brainwashed by the media into thinking they can, but ultimately we can’t. I did the modern day juggle for five years, working part time at an investment bank in the city, being a mum, trying to do everything, and be everything. Working part time with one child was fine, with two it was manageable to a degree, but going back to work after having my third was absolutely horrendous. I was dropping balls left, right and centre; and my son hated nursery. It was one of the most stressful periods of my entire life. Fortunately, I was made redundant nine months later, and the timing meant we were finally able to cope financially with me not getting another office based job. Prior to that, we couldn’t have made ends meet without my salary.

 

Destiny or freewill? I’m a huge believer in things happening for a reason, but on the same token, we make our own luck in this world.

 

What is your biggest challenge as a mother? My 6-year-old has high functioning autism, this presents challenges for us daily that most of my friends describe as ‘ really rough patch’. My biggest challenge is ensuring that each of my children get enough attention throughout the day. This is not as simple as it sounds!

 

Who inspire you? My main inspirations are the people who constantly strive to be better than the person they were yesterday (but not in a materialistic way).

 

What book have you read that positively shaped you? I am a huge Oliver James fan and have most of his books. They F*** You Up, How Not to F*** Them Up, Affluenza and Love Bombing were all game changers for me.

 

What is your favourite food? I love Japanese, but not eating rice or noodles makes it a very expensive meal these days. My perfect at home cooked meal would be a med-rare rib eye steak with a huge pile of broccoli and sauteed onions on the side.

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You just had a book Become The Best You Published. What is it about and how can it help me? Become the Best You is part memoir, part self-help, and tells my personal story of overcoming difficulties from my dysfunctional childhood to break the cycle and create a better life for my kids. After leaving home at fifteen I was seriously messed up. I lived my life in self-destruct mode for a decade afterwards, partying too hard and drinking too much. I suffered many bouts of depression along the way and had two full on mental breakdowns. Rock bottom came with breakdown number two, which is where I cleaned up my act and started turning my life around.The book contains everything I did during that process to secure my future happiness. I’ve had some brilliant reviews so far, and most readers have told me that they’ve benefited in some way from reading it, also that even those who had a lovely childhood would take something away from it.

 

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? Hunger, nobody should be starving to death in this day and age.

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Still pretty much here, doing this, but with a few more books under my belt.

 

How do you do to relax? I go to bed early and am really strict about switching off around 8- every night. Hubby and I always have a Netflix or Amazon boxed set on the go, so we watch a couple of programs while eating dinner most week nights. On Friday’s we eat at the table, enjoy a couple of glasses of wine together and talk about our week. We don’t get much time off to relax but did have a lovely night away for our anniversary last month. We treated ourselves to a spa and it was heavenly.

 

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Conflict and Teenagehood

Omobola Osamor a mum-of-three is a beautiful, beautiful writer. Her use of words when writing stories on her blog astounds me! The internet brought her and me together – that is the beauty of social media when used correctly. When ‘Mobola and I started chatting privately, I discovered how much we have a lot in common… I instantly knew she was going to be my friend – she knew too so she said “Funny how you reach out in cyberspace and find a ‘soul sister’.” Here is my ‘soul sister’ talking the beautiful teenage years in parenting.

Conflict is a constant in the relationship between parent and child. As parents, we desire our children to grow up to be healthy, happy and responsible adults. All the decisions we make, in reference to their wellbeing is with these three factors in perspective. Children on their own part have no cares in the world. They want to explore the world around them, make their own choices without recourse to consequences. As they grow older and hit their teens, these conflicts escalate.

 

My teenage years were riddled with conflicts with my parents. I was constantly pushing the envelope (a common feature of adolescence). I had no respect for my curfew; thought I knew everything. However, one of the main causes of conflicts between my Dad and I was my fashion preferences.

 

I loved wearing dresses and skirts that shied away from my bony knees. From time to time, when I did wear a long skirt, there would be a long slit on the side. I remember once, being scheduled to take a trip with my Dad. I had taken an awfully long time to get ready (that’s another thing about teenagers; they have tendencies to preen themselves). My Dad had been sitting in the car waiting for me, and then got out in frustration to use the bathroom. During that short window, I got in the car. I remember him opening the car door and staring coldly at my bare leg peeping behind the long slit of the skirt I was wearing. “What is this rag you are wearing?” He was so mad. He was sputtering and gesticulating. “Go and change this minute!” I was furious. What’s wrong with my skirt? Why is he always complaining about my clothes?

 

Fast forward twenty-three years, our roles have been reversed. I am now a parent of two teenagers. All I can say is…God definitely has a great sense of humour! Last year, my daughter embraced the gothic culture. I was horrified. She completely ignored all the brightly coloured dresses I had previously bought. She wore only black and wanted to colour her hair (I said an emphatic no!). She read dark-themed books, listened to music I could not wrap my mind around. I started binding demons and foul spirits. I tried to find out what was going on with her. She became more sullen, I could feel the distance widening between us. Then, after a long year, that phase was over.

Now, she wants to wear ripped clothes! She wants to wear ripped jeans, shirts, cut off blouses. She wears colourful creations, ties ribbons around her wrists and medallions around her neck. Now, I sound like my father. “What is that rag you are wearing?”

I don’t know what phase we will be in next year and I was getting nervous at the prospect. Then, I had an epiphany. There was no lightning, no thunder, and no bright stars before my bespectacled eyes. No, just an awakening.

She is trying to find herself, like I was, those many years ago. She is exploring her individuality. Something yours truly can identify with. So what, if it she wants to wear medallions around her neck?

So what if she wants to paint her old shirts with markers and wear ribbons around her wrists?  I am learning to debate, so I don’t ostracize her. We are trying to find a common ground in her need to express herself via her clothes. I want her to be her own person. I want her to grow up to know her own mind, to own her own choices (with guidance, of course). If she is to be a strong woman, she has to know who she is.

Parenting is not easy. It’s a roller coaster and I am enjoying the ride.

Omobola Osamor writes at omobolablog

Pedicure In Utopia

This is not a sponsored post.

Zoe's Blog (3 of 3)

Now that my kids are getting older, I am beginning to have time for myself again. Having time for myself means being able to read books once more, listen to podcasts, exercise, shop for clothes and wear make-up. Having time for me has never really included any kind of pampering experiences. And this was the case even before I became a mum –  pampering  did not appeal to me.  So, experiences like visiting a spa, having massages, pedicures, manicures… were pointless gifts to give to me.  I just didn’t see myself as a “pampering-loving kinda gal”.

 

In saying that, this week I had a wonderfully relaxing pampering experience that has changed my opinion about myself. This week, thanks to the incredible Zoe Highett-Taylor (a qualified ITEC beauty therapist) I figured out that I actually love to be pampered. Zoe  made me fall in love with pampering! This is how it started.

 

Last week Saturday – Just because it’s spring and my feet can’t live in winter boots forever – I felt my feet needed some TLC.  I decided that this time, I did not want to do my pedicure at home by myself – I deserve more. So, instead of buying those lethal pedicure razors from Lloyds Pharmacy, I thought I’d pay someone to make my feet look and feel beautiful once again.

 I decided to go with Zoe – she is the holistic beautician everyone’s raving about around Surrey. So, I sent Zoe (the owner of Utopia Health & Beauty Room) a message, which she responded to immediately.

Zoe

Just to let you know – making an appointment to have my feet seen to is a big deal for me. My feet were in a complete mess. As someone who walks a lot coupled with the lack of care, and the winter months; the dead skin at the back of my feet was cracking. And I was embarrassed by the condition they were in. And since, I didn’t want a beautician who would embarrass me even further I came clean and told Zoe the dreadful state my feet were in.

 

Her response to my concern was what convinced me to book the appointment with her beauty room and not with some other. Why would I want to pay someone to make me feel worse about myself and feet? After her reassurance – she took time and explained the different treatments to me – I went for the Rolls Royce of pedicures, Utopia Luxury Foot Treatment, described as “The last word in toe pampering.”  This description does not portray the treatment accurately – the whole shebang of the treatment is a Pure Luxury.  And BTW, My eyes were closed throughout the treatment … I was just really relaxed!

Apart from the amazing work Zoe did on my chapped feet (which are now soft and smooth), she made me feel really special for the whole 75 minutes that I was with her. I felt exceptionally well taken care of, I felt relaxed, pampered and it was money well spent. In short, Zoe gave me a much-needed pampering.

Why am I telling you all of this? I want you to support Zoe because she is good at what she does and she cares about her trade. Plus, she is a mum. So, if you are in the Surrey area and you need  a fabulous beautician, please call Zoe.

Click here to book an appointment with Utopia Health and Beauty Room 

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Yvonne xxx

 

Body Image

When I read the comment written by Amanda Barnes 44, mum-of-two on  The physical identity crisis of motherhood, I  knew she had to write something for KemiKids. So I asked –  I am pleased she said yes.

 The main reason I started KemiKids was to empower women – mums in particular. I believe women carry a lot of  unnecessary shame. I’ve always been an advocate of  sharing our life stories with the right people.

 One of my favourite quotes is by Brené Brown: “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive”.  

Here is Amanda’s Story.  Yvonne  xxx

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Amanda and her children

Body image has always been a big issue in my life – even from well before I had children. I suffered from bulimia for around 15 years (from the age of 14)  so watching and feeling my body change during pregnancy was really difficult.

 

But before I talk about my pregnancy I need to explain what the most dominant traits of a bulimic are (at least in my case): Self-absorption, self-orientated perfectionism, and a morbid preoccupation with food. This didn’t mean I was a selfish person. On the contrary – perfectionists often strive to please the people around them and often go overboard to do so. It’s more that you and how you see yourself and your perception of how others see you, pretty much preoccupies your everyday life; the decisions you make and how you find yourself behaving. And on top of all that, you have the underlying secrecy of your condition; hiding food, binging in private, over-exercising, taking diuretics and of course the self-induced vomiting.

 

Looking back on it all, it was quite exhausting. This is not a ‘boo hoo’ story, so please read on.

 

I overcame the bulimic behaviour (vomiting etc.) a year or so before I met my husband Simon, but the preoccupation with how I looked stayed with me. Moving on to the pregnancy bit… prior to falling pregnant with my daughter Eleanor (she’s 9 now), Simon and I had 4 miscarriages. So when pregnancy number five got the thumbs up I was ecstatic on the one hand, but totally freaked out by my growing body on the other. Self-absorption you see, I just couldn’t shake it off. Not being able to exercise didn’t help either; the endorphins would have helped my mental state.

 

The real irony, however, was having kicked the vomiting habit a few years earlier, I now found myself vomiting every single day due to pregnancy sickness. It was like my body was getting its own back from all the self-abuse – ha, take that bitch! It was a huge effort to keep food down to maintain both mine and Eleanor’s health, so I then started to worry that I wasn’t big enough! At 32 weeks I rapidly started to swell and developed a condition called HELLP Syndrome (leads to kidney failure), so Eleanor was born by C-Section weighing in at 1.7kg (3lbs 110z). Boy, you should have seen the state of my body then. I literally ballooned with oedema. It was like watching Harry Potter’s Aunt expand in the prisoner of Azkaban! And you know what, for the first time in my life I didn’t give a stuff what I looked like.

 

All I cared about was the tiny little person fighting for her life in the special care unit three floors down. It was a liberation really but not one I’d ever want to repeat. My focus was completely realigned and directed only on my daughter. Not being able to see her for two days whilst I was being stabilised (and shrunk) didn’t help with the infatuation, but I truly didn’t care what was going on with my body. And it looked pretty hideous, believe me! When the swelling finally went down after a week or so, the extent of my emaciation through pregnancy sickness became evident.

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Amanda

I was smaller than I had been before I became pregnant. “Lucky cow” some people might say, but no, I really wasn’t. My milk started to disappear. The one thing I could give to my child whilst she was being looked after by strangers in the hospital was drying up. I felt utterly, utterly useless and would have traded my size 8 milk-less, useless frame for a voluptuous, milky ‘gold top’ producing size 16 any day.  My body really was getting its own back on me now. It was as if it was taking the control back and I had no choice but to go with the flow and focus on what, or rather ‘who’, was really important – Eleanor.

 

What’s my point? Well, I guess it’s to thank my children, I have Jonathan as well now, but mainly Eleanor for changing the way I feel about my body. My shape and weight are no longer the first things I think about when I open my eyes in the morning. It’s my family and often my job, but that’s another discussion!

 

Almost 10 years on, I have managed to stay slim (in a healthy, not bulimic way), but it takes effort. I like the way I look in clothes but I have lasting marks that I’ve actually grown to quite like. I have a laugh at myself when I stand naked in the mirror because the first thing I always see is a ‘grimace’ staring back at me. My tiny droopy boobs are the eyes, my now sticky-out belly button (I used to have a nice ‘innie’) is the nose and my crooked, red, double C-section scar is the grimace.

 

But I don’t see it as an imperfection like I would have done 15 years ago. My body grimace represents my journey out of self-absorption. It represents my two most wonderful and totally crazy kiddos and I would not change that for the world. A positive body image for me means not having to think about it and hopefully shows my daughter that she doesn’t have to either.

 

Sending lots of love to all you beautiful Mummies out there.

 

Amanda x

That Elusive State of Happiness

That Elusive State of Happiness

When Lorraine Coxon, a 41-year-old mother of two made a comment  about how we expect our kids to be happy all the time during an online conversation. I knew she had a  valid point. So,  If she could write a piece for Kemikids based on that comment. Here it is. Lorraine’s  article is thought-provoking, funny and beautifully written.  Enjoy. Yvonne xxx

Yvonne xxx

PS. Please share this post as it gets the word out about Kemikids. This means you’ll be helping us grow.That Elusive State of Happiness

Everyone is looking for happiness and our internet and media-driven society keeps telling us we have to be happy. Every advert or programme is full of beautiful, happy people in their perfect houses on some fabulous holiday with their amazing families and the massive group of loyal friends.

 

We see people on Facebook and Instagram projecting their best selves, making us think they are super happy and then we feel we are not, so we are failures, suffering from comparison sickness and FOMO (fear of missing out). We say to our children, “I just want you to be happy!” perpetrating this ideal that is even written into the fabric of America; ‘… the pursuit of happiness.’ Western society – because I don’t know much about others – seems Hell bent on reaching Happiness.

That Elusive State of Happiness

 

In my humble opinion, we are spending too much time trying to find things that make us happy, but when we get them, of course, it isn’t all rainbows and fairies. A baby doesn’t fix a difficult marriage. Your life will not be magically better if you have a bigger house or posher car. That job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Parenthood – don’t even go there. NO ONE loves it all the time and most people are lying about something in their lives. ‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’ Well, sometimes that grass is fake.

 

I think we need to work out what our problems and issues are, try to sort those as best we can and accept that we are not going to be constantly happy. That isn’t possible and it isn’t normal or natural. It is normal and natural for life to be a series of highs and lows, periods of happiness and contentment and periods of bitter disappointment and mid-life crises. It really helps if you can accept that feeling down, or sad, or angry are all normal, healthy emotions and responses to life. So what if you are not like everybody else or what you feel society dictates you should be? Life isn’t a competition (unless you choose to compete, so more fool you I say).

 

Success, which is very tied up in happiness, is defined in a different way by everybody. You should find your own definition of success and try to let go of other people’s opinions and expectations. As Taylor Swift sings, ‘Haters gonna hate.’ You have to do what is best for you, what is best for your situation: remember, you cannot please everybody all of the time, so they can lump it. If you over think things, second guess yourself and try too hard to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow called Happiness, you are going to send yourself round the bend. Happiness is a by-product, I think, of trying to live your life, not the actual goal. And anyway, life is a series of goals.

Time for a biscuit (moment of happiness).

Random act of kindness

When Laura told me about this random act of kindness  from a woman she barely knows, I asked her to write about it as a post. I felt touched by the story and wanted her to share it here. Laura’s story shows that a random act of kindness can change someone’s day or even life. Not to sound too ‘preachy’  but a random act of kindness is never wasted and it creates a ripple. Enjoy Laura’s story. Please share!

Yvonne xxx

laura (1 of 1)

Something highly unusual but nevertheless magical happened at the weekend.

I walked the dog – once or twice around the park to blow away some cobwebs. Stopped for a coffee – not a typical habit, but heck it was a Sunday – and I wanted to let my mind wander and stop rushing for once. As I watched the world go by, a familiar face waved at me. Once I’d realised who it was (denial about the need for an eye test is ceasing by the day), I waved back and she walked on.

It was the marvellous lady who works in a local gift shop (just on Sundays). Occasionally, I buy birthday cards or gifts from her and we chew the cud, bemoan our parental status and simply have a laugh. This lady is one of those people that you’re so glad you’ve spent a few minutes with. And you know that under different circumstances if your paths crossed in life, you’d be firm friends!

As I finished my coffee, this lady walked up to me with several bunches of daffodils and just said, “You’re one of the ‘smiliest’ people I know, but you look so sad today. I wanted to cheer you up.” She gave me a hug, I burst into tears and she left. I was astonished at this woman’s perception, sensitivity and generosity – all wrapped up in one small and simple gesture. I hope she’s aware of how much her spontaneous act of kindness touched me.

I love this quote from Jack Kerouac: “Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” People like this amazing lady make loving life all the more effortless.

Laura.

Shop Jack Kerouac

My beautiful big sister and me

Monika’s story is perfect on Valentine’s Day. It is a story of sisterhood, love and family. This story did not make me pity Monika or her sister but instead It made me celebrate with them. Their story has made me reassess what is important. And how we mustn’t take the people in our lives for granted. Here is Monika’s story.

Monika and her big sister. Photo courtesy of Monika

What can I say?… my beautiful big sister and me. We have one those pretty perfect sibling relationship that every parent dream about. I loved her from the day I was born, and apart from the few times we were tearing each other’s hair out, (mostly in our teenage years) she is the perfect big sister. And my best friend.

I clearly remember that day. The day she sat in my kitchen and asked me to feel the lump she had found in her abdomen. Both of us agreed, it’s probably nothing but she should have it checked out. Forward seven weeks later, again in my kitchen, she asked me to pour her a glass of wine. Then, she announced, “It is cancer.” Pseudomyxoma peritonei – a very rare type of cancer.

In my body, I felt an utter and unbelievable shock.

Happier and beautiful moments. Photo by Monika

At her appointment, sitting with her in the doctor’s waiting room, I held her hand tight and looked around me…there were all sorts of people (young, old, middle-aged) sitting with their loved ones – waiting nervously to be “sentenced”. I remember both of us crying in the middle of a restaurant about the fact that she might lose her hair (which she’d been growing long for years). We laughed at how insanely vain we are.

On the day of her surgery, I recollect driving her to the hospital. Trying  hard to be very brave, I smiled at her and laughed with her. But then, cried all the way home in the car, feeling utterly helpless and scared of the inevitable.

Looking back at my younger days, cancer was just this big scary word which I just brushed off. But as I got older, I hoped and prayed that it would never enter our lives. But then it did. Before my sister’s diagnosis, we had lost our beloved grandmother a few years earlier. When my sister was diagnosed, my father -in-law was also fighting this awful disease.

I could not believe this was happening to my sister. I could not believe it was happening to us and our family. My sister… my beautiful…my very young… and my very strong sister.

Younger years. Photo courtesy of Monika

Walking into the ICU after her surgery… seeing tubes sticking out of her body made me suddenly realise I could lose her. This was the hardest realisation I have ever had to face up to. I clung to my kids, squeezing happiness out of them. But, they were so good – they sensed that their mama’s heart was in pieces.Three very long weeks after the surgery my sister was well enough to leave the hospital. She moved in with us so that I could care for her. Suddenly, I the ‘little sister’ became the ‘big sister‘. Our roles were reversed (only for a short period; she is now back on big sister’s duty).

Because of cancer, there were things we couldn’t talk about… not for a while anyway. Everything changed. Our dreams were shattered. Her dream of having children, my dream of being an auntie, and the dreams of my children having cousins were all gone. And then, I had to deal with the guilt that I could have children and my sister couldn’t. This made us realise that her real journey had only just began. Not just hers… ours.

This illness changed us immensely. We started seeing things in a different light.I admired my sister so much, even more than before: her strength and bravery were beyond what I could have ever imagined. And our relationship grew stronger. Our outlook on life is no longer the way it was. Life has become way too precious to waste any moment.

Monika and her sister – photo by Monika

I am so immensely proud of my sister. I always have and always will. The way she dealt with everything: keeping her grace and not wanting anyone’s pity. The way she held her head up high through it all was incredible. What a woman! What an amazing person. My beautiful big sister.
These days, we often find ourselves dancing in the kitchen with the kids, laughing, crying and (of course) occasionally arguing about silly things. Drinking wine and celebrating the fact that she got the all-clear after three years! Every so often, we look at each other without saying a word, knowing that we can’t take these moments for granted. Not anymore.

To learn more and see the amazing work Cancer Research UK are doing, Click Here.

Monika.

“Don’t get suckered into pity-sex!”

When I received this piece from Laura (a regular contributor to KemiKids) I smiled and laughed. Laura’s fabulous and sparkling personality shines through in her writing. “Don’t get suckered into pity-sex!” is hilarious and beautiful. I hope it has the same effect on you as it did me –  Laura tells us what she really wants as a present on Valentine’s Day.
Yvonne xxx

Laura talks Valentine’s Day present

The start of this year has been challenging, to say the least. At the very centre of our Venn diagram of love and family, we’ve had a death and a cancer diagnosis.

So, our ordinary lives have been rocked on a seismic scale. Thanks to our awesome friends, we’re rolling our sleeves up, knocking back a few drinks and once again, finding the joy that is most definitely out there!

Everyone has offered their condolences to comfort us, shoulders to cry on and arms to hug. All these have helped to carry the weight. But one very astute and clever mamma gave me the best advice any girl could get, ‘No grief-baby!’

Pardon”, I replied, not being familiar with the term. So she said, “Laura If you think you feel bad now, imagine how you’ll feel in nine months’ time when you turn 40 – with a newborn baby.” My face dropped, the impact of her advice sinking in. “Don’t get suckered into pity-sex!”

I howled with laughter and thought, “Yes… this is my kind of friend!” In the midst of all of my grief, she’s still got my back and thinking of my future.

Let me be clear, I have no issue with anyone having a new born baby as they depart their 30s. In fact, I think it’s great. I love babies – other people’s. But this friend knows me well and tapped directly into my core. She knows how much I have struggled with the lack of sleep, lack of privacy and my identity as a mum.

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So this Valentine’s Day, I have decided to resurrect the topic of having a vasectomy with my dear husband. No flowers, handbags or diamonds are necessary – always welcome but not necessary. What I’d love to receive more than anything is a little itty-bitty appointment card for him with the GP.

Funnily enough, he was the one to suggest it after the birth of our son – but that was four years ago.

Over the last 10 years, we have created a family. We’ve gone into labour three times… been on the pill, been off the pill, recoiled at the coil, ripped my lady parts apart, stitched them back up, and gone under the knife to fix a leaky bladder caused by all this child-bearing malarkey.

I say ‘we’ but really I mean ‘me’. I regret none of it. My husband has always been a rock – taken any abuse (or mobile phones) thrown at him and I love him for it.

But now I really need to pass the buck. As we both approach the big 4-0 this year, it’s his turn to take one for the team.

Laura.

 

25 random facts about me

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Just thought I’d share some random facts about me. If you are not interested, please read other articles.

  1. I’m the third of six children. I have two sisters and three brothers.
  2. I was born November 1972 in Kano, Nigeria.
  3. My first name is Modupe. Modupe means I give thanks to God
  4. The last time I checked (eight years ago) I was  5.6″. But I believe since having children, I have shrunk!
  5. I’m a Law graduate – I was a full-time mature student. Oh… I paid for my higher education myself.
  6. I’m hot on manners. I say a lot of “hellos”, “thank you” and “please”.
  7. I use the word “fab” a lot.
  8. I love LOUD music, vintage clothes, fashion and Oprah.
  9.  A long time ago, I won a dancing competition.
  10. I am a foodie. I own a lot of cookbooks. I cook a lot.
  11. I had a butterfly tattooed on my left hip when I turned 30. And it’s still there!
  12. I am very loud and I love it.
  13.   I don’t know what it is but there is something about me that makes me stand out. Which means you can spot in a crowd.
  14. I’m always rushing. I always leave things to the last minute. Plus, I try to fit in as many errands I can before an appointment.
  15. I’m clueless about science subjects. So, I have no understanding of gravity, space, etc.
  16. I am useless with a map. I still struggle with Google maps on my phone.
  17. I’m a feminist. I have to be: I’m a woman, I love to support women and I have daughters.
  18. Education is important to me. I’m Nigerian and that’s been drummed into me from an early age.
  19. My husband John is the kindest person I know. And we are a perfect match. He’s laid back, I’m not. He’s practical, I am a dreamer, he’s a saver, I’m a spender, he is never late, and I always do Nigerian time…
  20. I don’t like answering my phone when it rings. I don’t like leaving home after 6 pm and I try to avoid socialising. I dread it. But once, I’m there I always have a good time.
  21. I cry easily.
  22. I love to learn new stuff. So, I listen to a lot of podcasts, read a lot of books. In short, I read, watch and listen to anything that would help expand my thinking.
  23. I don’t know how to relax. I always have to do something.
  24. I’d love to visit New York. I may just be disappointed when I get there. Hopefully, not.
  25. Those who know me well call me “Iya”. This means mother.

Yvonne

My Life – Sara Telford

Mum of two and Customer Management Business Analyst at Kimberly-Clark, Sara Telford is a mum I respect and love dearly. Not just because we are related (Sara is my sister-in-law) but she is incredibly clever, cool and very likeable. In this Q&A session, she talks to us about favourite things, her childhood, and motherhood.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

What is your daily ritual like? My son wakes me up around 7.30am and I have breakfast with the kids before my husband takes them to school. I get home around 5.30 most nights so we have a few hours family time before the kids go to bed. I am generally wiped out by that time that I just watch TV.

What is your favourite food? Unfortunately… Pasta.

Do you have a pet name for your husband? If yes, what? I call everyone in the house darling. When my son was a toddler, he picked up on this.  So, he went through a phase of calling everyone darling as well which was so weird!

What is the coolest thing about you? I stopped being cool when I had kids. My husband made me sell my motorbike and I swapped my sports car for a Rover 45.

The favourite place you have ever visited? Meribel France, it is the ski resort I spent a winter in when I was 21. I truly love it there.

Photo courtesy of Merinet

What is the coolest thing about being a mum? Everything else in life seems easy

What is the one talent you wished you had? How to do small talk. I chose my hairdresser based on being able to have a semi-interesting conversation with him. And it took me years to get comfortable doing the school run.

What is your favourite music of all time? Don’t really have one, am very eclectic in my tastes.

What is your favourite band of all time? Don’t really have one, am very eclectic in my tastes.

What is the book that made a difference to your life? A bit sad but it is a management book called Change the Culture, Change the Game. It is basically about the way experiences drive beliefs, beliefs drive actions and actions drive results. The key point is, if you want a different result from someone, it’s pointless to directly try to impact their actions; you need to go right back and manage how they experience you / life.

What do you still have from your childhood? A lot, I am a very sentimental person. The other day I came across a throw my grandparents had on their sofa when I was a kid. The memories came flooding back. Every few years, I put boxes of my favourite clothes and toys in the loft. I think my kids will enjoy seeing again when they’re grown-ups.

What is your favourite colour My kids keep asking me that…orange I guess.

Who is your fashion Icon? Don’t really have one.

What does motherhood mean to you? It is everything. But, not the only thing.

What is the lesson your kids have taught you? It’s good to talk about a problem even if you don’t find a solution.

What movie made you cry the most? It’s probably The Boy in The Stripped Pyjamas. I cry at anything to do with children being harmed emotionally or physically

Photo courtesy of Alchetron

Photo courtesy of Alchetron.

What is the best advice you have ever been given? “You judge yourself by your intentions; others will judge you by your actions”

What advice would you give your 14-year-old self? That is a difficult one since I am a future orientated person. I don’t believe in having regrets. I guess (other than the obvious “buy apple shares”) I would say, don’t bother with people who make you feel bad about yourself. A lesson I learned later in life.

What is the one rule you ignore? I generally prioritise very hard across life so I ignore no end of social expectations. Actual rules I try to follow but there are times when it is better to apologise than ask permission.

What is the one rule your kids ignore?Unfortunately, it’s more than one. My parents were very liberal so I‘ve always had a tendency to let me kids make a lot of decisions for themselves. However, my husband has a far more traditional approach and tells them what to do. Since he is their main carer, I try to follow his approach. But, the kids know they can get away with a lot when it’s just mum.

Do you believe in free will or destiny? Free will. Life is short and you have to own your own destiny.

To connect with Sara, please email me at Yvonne@realyvonne.com.

My Life – Yvadney Davis

Yvadney Davis, mother-of -two, founder of Style After Nine, Fashion writer and stylist  talks guilty pleasures, the secret of good parenting and how her single mum inspired her.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? Poverty. I hate the fact that they are haves and have-nots in this world.

Describe yourself in three words. Joyful, creative and motivated.

What is precious to you in life? Of course my family and sanity. My faith stitches it all together.

What one thing would you save in a fire? It may sound superficial, but the sequinned Miu Miu shoes my husband gave me as a wedding gift. I can hardly walk in them but they sum up how wonderful he is. He bought them as a surprise. He remembered me cooing over them in Vogue one day. He’s never been one to stifle my relationship with fashion, instead, he encourages it

What book are you reading at the moment? I’m ashamed to say, nothing.  I have so many books on my list, but after a busy day with the kids, I find myself falling asleep just as I’m about read one. I’m still in the second chapter of Charles Dicken’s Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens since my daughter was born last June.

Guilty Pleasures? Jackie Collins, Amaretto Sours, ice cream, Old school garage, Googlebox and Asos.

What is the best band of all time? You’re talking to a self-confessed and proud Jodeci fan here. They were one of the biggest R&B boy bands of the 90s. Jodeci was the gangster version of Boyz II Men who had a squeaky clean image. I loved them so much back then, I had their posters all over my bedroom wall, every album, every lyric and cried over their songs. And I still love them. My husband took me to their concert a few years ago and I shocked him by jumping around and screaming hysterically and welling up at the ballads.

jodeci-album-cover

What has being a mother taught you? ‘Mother’s Intuition‘ is real. From pregnancy to labour… the new-born days and thereafter. I’ve developed an ability to make quick decisions based on my gut and heart. This includes embracing childbirth for all the pain and supernatural beauty that it is; keeping my toddler entertained while I breastfeed my baby on the tube, and styling a photo shoot with a newborn in the sling. I don’t care what all the parenting books or trends say, I’m doing a good job and I’m the best mummy my kids could ever have.

What’s the coolest thing about you? My honesty. I’m real and my realness comes with the freedom to express myself,  to be interested in things without worrying what others think.

What is the one thing you always keep in your bed? A silk pillowcase. It’s good for my skin and good for my hair.

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook all the way. I like how easy it is to connect with friends and family across the world without the word count limits! They are some people I haven’t seen in years but I feel like I have, because of their updates and photos. That’s a good thing!

What is your favourite fashion trend of all time? That’s a tough one, I love the fashion of the 1930s and bonkers ‘Clueless’ look of my teens, but my favourite trend has got to be 70s funk. I love the afros, flares, miniskirts, dramatic capes, maxi dresses and shimmery makeup. The playful combination of West African prints, psychedelic prints and sharp tailoring was sublime and insanely stylish. Marc Jacobs resurrected it a few years ago and I loved it all over again.

Who is your favourite style icon? My favourite style icon has to be Gwen Stefani; from her No Doubt days to present, I have never seen her in an outfit that I wouldn’t love to wear.

What advice would you give your younger self? Youth is a blessing and you only get one shot at it, so go for it! When you’re young everything feels like an age, when in fact it all goes super quickly. There’s no time to get sidetracked doing things you don’t enjoy, dating people who don’t make you feel happy, surrounding yourself with people who don’t have your back, holding yourself back because you’re worried what people may say. Travel, live and love!

What were you like growing up and what were your interests – what/who inspired you? I was a happy child, inquisitive, very creative, and musical, with a huge imagination. I loved art and fashion, read all the time, played the violin and was really into period dramas. It was just me and my single mum growing up. My mum inspired my creativity and my strong political views. I went through a rebellious blip in my teens caused by Jungle music and Gangsta Rap. Apart from that, my teen years were pretty much plain sailing. I knew from a young age I wanted to be a fashion designer, so always had that as a goal to work towards.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Living in a country where palm trees grow.

What do you do to relax? Pilates. It’s not relaxing when I do it at home – my son climbs on my back or insists on joining in with me. This makes me laugh and not chilled out.

What is the hardest thing about being a mum? The logistics of doing everything are harder with little people. When they’re with you, the dynamic changes for the worst – paying for petrol, supermarket shopping, going to the cinema, going to the toilet…the list goes on. But, this time, is such a small window in our lives and I wouldn’t change a thing.

What is the secret of good parenting? Living in the present. I read about a panel of elderly women who were asked about the best period in their life. They all unanimously agreed that it was when their children were little. I totally get that. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of looking to the next milestone or wishing challenging seasons away, like waking up in the night, teething and potty training, but then it all goes in a flash. So savour it all.

Yvadney’s Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. You can also contact Yvadney at Styleafternine@yvadney.com

Helen Armon-Jones

My Life – Helen Morris

This week’s Friday Woman is the beautiful Helen Morris, mother of two and founder of gumdrops and the bear, on post-baby body, fears and motherhood.Helen Armon-Jones

What would be your dream holiday destination for your family? A villa in Tuscany, Italy appeals. But I would LOVE to visit my family in Sydney, Australia when the kids are a few years older.

Who is your favourite living icon? Anyone who does good (and is kind and funny) is an icon to me. My friend Fritha Vincent is a very special lady who has set up an amazing social business called Secret Pillow.

What is your favourite TV show that is currently on? Modern Family is quite funny and the characters feel close to home. My husband is the wonderfully goofy Phil Dunphy without the 6-pack.

What do you plan on reading? I’ve just started up a book club to force me to read more! Next on my list: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

What book have you read that positively shaped you? E.E. Cummings Complete Poems gave me back my love of literature and something just clicked; I could wrap myself in the words.

What excites you about life right now? Change, constant change. I’ve always amazed how we seem – as a family – to manage to embrace it. I’m also hugely excited about my blog and the new dimension it has brought to my life.

Twitter or Instagram? Twitter – more sociable than beautiful (like me!)

What is your favourite food? Cheese fondue… mmm.

Favourite drink? Ribena or prosecco or hot Nesquik.

Favourite dessert? White chocolate and cardamom truffles <dribble>.

What is your most treasured possession? The life and health of my babies. It’s the only thing I couldn’t live without.

Name five people you would invite to your dream dinner party? Elvis, Mickey Flannigan, Patsy and Eddie (Ab Fab) and Henry VIII. Pass the wine darling!

What would you do if another child was being mean to your child? Surround them with love and reassure them that they are amazing. My mum got round this when I was young by inviting the ‘bully’ to tea; it disarmed her and made her a friend. Quite clever really.

What advice would you give your 14-year-old self? Don’t get drawn into trying to be something you’re not and don’t be mean to anyone, you may meet them in later life. Oh and the gappy teeth will be fixed in six years time!

What is your greatest fear? Anything happening to my family. I’m shuddering even thinking about it.

How do you think of your body after motherhood? Oh! that is a biggie! Five years later and I’ve nearly accepted it. I view it as Pompeii – once glorious, now devastated by forces beyond my control; but still lovely in its own way and admired (by one).

What is your best quote? I had an old boss who was charismatic and seriously quotable. My favourite of his quotes was ‘That sticks out like a poo in a wee shop’.

What are you most proud of – apart from motherhood? Probably surviving and achieving in a very academic school where I felt stupid. When I opened my results I cried for a long time because I hadn’t realised I was capable.

What has motherhood taught you? I am impatient, slightly OCD and do not like loud noise. Sleep is beautiful. Makeup is my saviour. Also, how bloomin fortunate I am; I could never have imagined myself with a tall cheeky boy and a tiny minxy girl and heart full of love.

What does being a mum mean to you? I have made two beautiful (loud) little creatures and it is my privilege to equip them with everything they need to take the world by storm. Or just be very happy.

Describe yourself in three words. Funny. Methodical and thoughtful. (I cheated, my husband gave me those).

What is the hardest part of being a mum? “Mummy”. “Mummy”. “Mummy why”. “Mummy, I want”. “Mummy, I need”. “Mummy, can I have?” Not having any time to yourself, with no sleep, having to feed and tend to your flock 24/7.

If your life was a song, what would the title be? “Laughs, falls and loves”.

If you had a tattoo where would it be? Urm… I do and it’s shall we say below my bikini line above my left hip (bikini lines in the 90’s were very high!)

Dogs or cats? Because Doug The Cat is near me I’m going to say ‘cat’. But I do love dogs (smallish non-smelly ones).

Helen’s Blog /Twitter/Facebook/ Instagram /Pinterest.