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  1. WordPress Goddess Alert

    April 23, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    I drew the star with my eyes closed. Can you tell?If you are a WordPress blogger (and to be honest, even if you are not) I must draw your attention to Jane&Philbert.

    You may have noticed that is looking pretty damned spiffing of late and this is down to two people: Alex Hansford, my husband, for helping me get it to a point where I actually know what it is and what I want to do with it, and secondly, Gemma of Jane&Philbert. She is an absolute fruit loop. But she is brilliant. I’m currently on day 3 of her Pimp Your Website course and it’s brilliant. And funny. And silly. And it has outtakes. And she swears. Really big swears.

    I’m so impressed by her advice and help that I’ve even posted midweek. I mean… wow.

    So yeah – look up the page peeps and get your blog pimped!


  2. Life advice #13: Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

    April 20, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    13. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

    On Wednesday, I was a hero, a careless mother and a solution all in the space of half an hour.

    Little L had a tear in her eye as she cuddled her carer at the nursery when I picked her up. She’d become upset when they came in from playing in the garden. And along I came, the hero to rescue her from a world of … well, actually nursery is really lovely, so I’m not sure what had been upsetting her, but there  I was, and she ran to me for a cuddle. The hero!

    We arrived home and the tantrum began. From getting out of the car, to the door, to the living room, it was a wall of dribbly, flailing noise. For 10 minutes, it was this*:

    Banshee in training

    I tried talking to her. I asked her what was wrong. She flailed. She hit out. She would not be reasoned with. (And in fairness, you know, she is only two.) I could have put her on the Naughty Step – no point, it’d just rile her. I could have forced her to have a cuddle – no point, it’d just enrage her further and I’d get hit. So I walked away. Okay, I walked away and took a photo. The careless mother!

    But I took a deep breath. I calmed down. She took a deep breath too, a massive yawn, which doubled as obtaining a gulp of air strong enough to power a sonic boom of a scream. But this moment of calm gave me just two seconds to realise she was tired.

    So a story it was. (“Zoo Poo”, in case you’re interested). By the end, she was hu-hu-hu-huuuuuuuming away as little ones do after a tantrum. Time for a cuddle and a ‘how are you’. A solution!

    I need to take more breaths. Are you getting enough air?


    *And yes, that is a Knightmare shield and helmet in the background. What of it?

  3. Life advice #12: Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

    April 13, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    me12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

    I would not say I have ever been a jealous person. Comparative, yes, jealous, no.

    Facebook and Twitter et al have become an online way to celebrate positivity. This is essentially a great thing. The only downside to this is the risk that others look on and feel defeated at the poster’s achievements. That the onlooker feels like they are operating at a level below their peers. I also think this is is probably why my blog is very honest, possibly to a fault. This blog is a demonstration that even though a lot of my life is brilliant, there are down bits.

    For example: Friend A who is stunningly beautiful, has stunningly beautiful children and even looks stunningly beautiful and raises money for charity in doing an activity that would make anyone else look ridiculous.

    I cannot operate at that level.

    Friend B who is completely unique, has a fiercely intelligent, imaginative child, is incredibly skilled and whose family lives an almost surreal life, making the most of any community event or experience that comes their way.

    I cannot operate at that level.

    I look at these women and feel like I’m not providing an exciting enough life for my family. I feel ugly. I feel unproductive. I feel less worthy. And all of these feelings are wrong. These women lead different lives to mine. They have different families, different pasts and different futures.

    I am naturally comparative, I don’t think I can avoid that. But what I can do is start reminding myself of the things that are good, and that there isn’t a need to become someone else. After all, if I become someone else, I don’t get to be me, and being me is pretty fun after all.

    Mummy Kindness says all the the above in a far more eloquent way. I absolutely love her blog post. You can see it here.

  4. Pyjama Drama Is A Go

    April 12, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    UntitledI’m 6 weeks into my new job. In case you’ve completely missed it this far on the blog, I’m the manager for Pyjama Drama in Milton Keynes, having had a chance encounter with an advert seeking franchisees. The resulting trip to Wales gave me a glimpse into one of the most wonderful activities for children I have ever seen, so good in fact that I quit my job to bring the idea to my home town.

    I’m 6 weeks into starting a new business. I have an office area upstairs, I have a gosh-darned-fabulous Pyjamobile, I have a parachute in case I fall out of a plane (or maybe it’s for games, I don’t quite recall) and I have more time to spend with Little L.

    I’m 6 weeks into a world of delightful admin. I’m not kidding you – I love admin. Freakin’ love it. If I can colour code a spreadsheet, I’m full of glee. And now I have a whole wealth of admin that’s mine, all mine.

    I’m 6 weeks into self employment, and self-earned income. I’ve only run two sessions so far, so you can probably guess where that leaves me at the moment.

    I’m 6 weeks into my new way of life and, while I do look back (of course I look back, it’s been brilliant), I can’t help but look forward to everything that’s happening.

    I’m 6 weeks in.

  5. Life advice #11: It’s okay to let your children see you cry.

    March 31, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    cry11. It’s okay to let your children see you cry.

    My mum and dad were chalk and cheese. My mum was bold, matter of fact, a superhero. She got on with things. She pulled my hair when she brushed it but she got the job done. My dad was and still is sensitive, a bit of a faff and also a superhero. He did the ‘fun’ stuff. He would spend a hour doing my hair, never pulling. Took a while.

    The day my grandad died was the first time I saw my mum cry. Nothing had ever got to her before. Of course she’d cried about things in the past, only silently and secretly, away from her children. But it wasn’t until that day that I appreciated that she could cry, and that meant it became more of a normal thing to do. The acknowledgement that sometimes you feel so sad that it all bursts out. And that’s okay.

    Little L is now two and has probably seen me a bit upset a couple of times. I can set myself off easily – just a glimpse at an old photo leads me to say “That’s Granny Annie. She would have loved you” and I’m off. That kind of face-looks-a-bit-crumpled-and-red-and-eyes-are-watering-a-bit off. I don’t mind this. a) I can’t help it and b) I guess it shows her that it’s okay to be sad sometimes, as long as you know you get to be happy again later.

    So I’m okay with this. I don’t need to appear to be an untouchable superhero. Just a loving and accepting one.

  6. Addiction

    March 17, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Spontaneous combustioniser Picture credit: Richard Cannon & Chris Capstick/Guardian

    Spontaneous combustioniser
    Picture credit: Richard Cannon & Chris Capstick/Guardian

    My daughter has an addiction. It’s name is Justin Fletcher. Currently, the only way she can get her fix is continued repetition of The Hokey Cokey from his latest album. As for Justin’s House, we watched three episodes on the trot yesterday. Should the day ever arise where he appears on our doorstep, I genuinely think she might implode.

    As for me, I’m not blameless in all this addiction talk. I am addicted to my phone. Ironically, not because of its use as a phone. It’s a constant circle of checking Facebook, email, Twitter. A quick check of my Carrot to do list results in another circuit. Every message received, every calender appointment results in a twee notification sound and another circuit. I finish my circuit then start it over just in case something has happened in the meantime.

    This is a problem.

    I don’t actually need to know the ins and outs of people’s lives. Reality tv and Social Media have made us voyeurs. I am missing out on my family because I can’t ignore the urge to check my phone. My daughter is in the bath – a quick circuit. We’re out for dinner – a quick circuit. “Good morning darling” – a quick circuit.


    This week, I will be attempting to use my phone for only the following:
    – Phone calls
    – Texts
    – Sat nav (it’s replaced our Tom Tom)
    – Restricted email use (I need to keep an eye out for work emails when I’m out)

    I’ll let you know how I get on.

  7. Life advice #9: When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

    March 9, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    An oval of happiness Picture credit: Graham Turner/Guardian

    An oval of happiness
    Picture credit: Graham Turner/Guardian

    9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

    Alex and I have been trying to follow Slimming World. I say trying – dinners are brilliant and ‘Syn free’ (the crux of Slimming World is that naughty-but-nice things have a Syn rating, the lower the better). Breakfasts are pretty good too. Lunch is near enough. But it’s the bits in between that we struggle with. The treats.

    I am the head shopper in the house. I literally write a menu each week of what the family will eat for every meal so I can purely buy what we need, minimising waste and cost. That means I don’t buy sweets, or desserts, or chocolate.

    This in turn means that I crave chocolate. Absolutely crave it. And when I get my hands on some, it’s gone in seconds.

    I bought myself a box of Nerds for Christmas. I should say, this means a box of a dozen boxes of Nerds. Having so much sugar to hand led to a shocking conclusion – I didn’t want it. This set me on a great path – if I have plenty of chocolate to hand, perhaps I won’t want it?

    It didn’t work. I still want chocolate. But, now that there is always enough chocolate in the house, I don’t crave it. When I want it, I just grab a bit and I’m done. There’s no primitive fear that it’ll be taken away, so I don’t over indulge. And they do say that a little of what you fancy does you good.

    And I’m sure Slimming World doesn’t really mind.

    Don’t fear the chocolate – embrace it!

  8. Life advice #8: Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

    March 2, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    Money in a pot accrues no interest Picture from Expat Explorer

    Money in a pot accrues no interest
    Picture from Expat Explorer

    8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

    Paying into my pension fund was easy for me. I was a newly qualified teacher and my paycheck was neatly split into various amounts of money being received and immediately sent elsewhere. National Insurance, repayment of student loan and Teacher’s Pension. Leaving the profession, said Teacher’s Pension sat doing very little for a year or two, then got transferred over to my Government Pension when I began working for the Council. Again, it would mysteriously leave my paycheck and go elsewhere.

    I start a new job this week, one where I am managing myself and my own pay. I won’t be able to afford to pay into a pension for at least a year. This should worry me, it being £xxx that I now won’t receive as an OAP. However, knowing I’ve been paying out for the past 10 years already leaves me less concerned. I know I have a great Financial Consultant who will find me the best private pension when things are more steady, one that I can now keep track of rather than jumping to different contributory ones.

    The state pension is enough to live on. It’s not necessarily enough to enjoy living on. Get your pensions sorted, people. It’ll make all the difference in the long run. In our lives we’re expected to work longer and live longer. You, and you alone, are responsible for your pension.

    Start saving for retirement now, while it’s far too far away to matter to you.

  9. It’s that man again

    February 12, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Why can’t we have a cool geek running our country too?


  10. Life advice #5: Pay off your credit cards every month.

    February 9, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    Remember this fella? Picture from

    Remember this fella?
    Picture from

    5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

    My grandad had a proud work ethic and was proud of me when I got my first job at the age of 14. I worked 10-2pm every Saturday at Barnard’s Secondhand Books for £2.50 an hour. He was so proud in fact that he took my first week’s wages of a tenner, gave me one of his tenners in return, and framed the original with the manuscript ‘The first money I earned’. I didn’t really get it to be honest. I was 14. I just wanted to get a McDonalds. But I’ve never forgotten it.

    He also told me never, ever to have a credit card, citing them as evil and the start of a downward spiral into greed. I managed to avoid having one until I was at uni and even then it was never used, given my grandad’s words echoing in my ear.

    Then harder times fell and I had to use it to buy food. This is not a sob story – we’ve all been there. But I paid it off the second I got my salary that month. Even now, while I have a credit card (there’s little escaping them), it’s there not to be used.

    As a family, we have debt. I have an unnoticable* hangover from four years of university fees and there are other things that have racked up over the years, but we pay these off when we can. Most importantly, before they come back and bite us on the bum. To be debt free would be brilliant. We’re working on it.

    Time for some financial planning, methinks.

    *It comes off my salary each month if I have earned enough and it always has done. Do not freak out, dear teenagers off uni looking forward to a £16k debt. You’ll barely notice it.