My Life - Clare Callanan

My Life - Clare Callanan

This week, we speak to Clare Callanan - Manager at Calladoodles. Clare talks motherhood, career, and Calladoodles.

You have just had a baby boy, what is your life like at the moment?

I'm enjoying my maternity leave and feeling more relaxed with motherhood the second time around. I am not good at being away from work as it is an extremely important part of my life, and I found being at home with my first child extremely challenging. This time, I'm happier just to go with it and I feel really lucky to have this time with both my son and daughter, especially as my daughter Chloe is starting school in September.

When you return back to work in September, how do you plan to balance work and family commitments?

I'm lucky to have a fabulous childminder, Tracey, who has been looking after Chloe since she was a baby. She is so flexible and has enabled me to pursue my career with no concerns about my children's well-being - as I know they are safe and happy with Tracey. Zak will go to Tracey from September, and Chloe will be at school... which I still can't really believe! So I will be back at Calladoodles managing the shop and also be working from home.

What do you like most about being a mother?

My favourite things about being a mother are chatting with Chloe, who likes to talk just as much as me! I love hearing her come out with new words that I didn't even know she knew, and the quirky things she says; I never know where the conversation will end up going, and she always has something new to say. I love the little things - like Zak smiling at me and calling me 'ummy' (as he isn't talking yet). And watching Chloe with her best friend Elodie and how inseparable they are at their ballet class.

What food do you live on?

My diet is horrendous, I love Shreddies, London cheesecake (from the Village Bakers next door to Calladoodles), roast dinners and chocolate ice cream. If I could live on these things I would, but my partner Jed won't let me. He is a super cook and makes my dinner every night. He was once said to be the most romantic man in Carshalton (by his mates)!!

How did Calladoodles start?

Calladoodles started after an idea I had to open a retail unit to sell handmade goods, like an indoor craft market. My good friend Nicki made handmade products and we met a network of like-minded people whose products we wanted to amalgamate and sell.

I lived for a while in Brighton and spend hours wandering The Lanes and thinking that there should be independent shops like the ones in The Lanes everywhere.

What did you do before?

Before Calladoodles I worked in housing, starting off working in hostels for homeless people. I was totally fulfilled by this job and would still be working there today if I hadn't taken a few wrong moves and ended up in the admin and maintenance side of housing. I wasn't happy working in this particular area, my last job was a complaints management role which made me realise I had made some wrong moves and had ended up in the wrong job.

What does Calladoodles stand for? And how did you come about the name?

Calladoodles was a name made up by the children in our family, it was the beginning of a family name 'Callanan' and the fact that it was all about creativity. Me and my step-daughter Caitlin loved to doodle and I suppose that's where it came from.

Beauty means…

Beauty means a feeling of satisfaction when you look or hear or feel something, it's not about perfection necessarily but when lots of different elements work together, sometimes you're not even sure why they do.

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by my mum - she owns Calladoodles and she rocks. All the girls in Calladoodles call my mum 'Mama Doodles', it sums her up; she is fun, creative, strong and in charge. We all look up to her and respect her decisions. The buck stops with Mama Doodles because she is actually right, all the time. We have a card in the shop, it says, 'Sometimes when I speak my mum comes out'. This is so true, but not a problem for me, as those are my finest moments.

What do you want for your children?

I want my children to simply be happy. It sounds basic but really, that is it. I'd like them to have happy relationships, friendships and enjoy their work as much as I enjoy mine. I want them to smile all the time and not to worry about things. I've spent too much time worrying and it's the biggest waste of time ever!

For more details on Calladoodles, their newly launched website is Here. Calladoodles are also on Instagram, FaceBook, and Twitter

July 10, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life - Harriet

My Life - Harriet

Harriet is one of the most beautiful humans I have come across - she is full of smiles, kindness, sunshine, a joy to be around... she is full of all things beautiful. Harriet talks Curry, something she wonders about, ice cream and looking forward to being 13.

Enjoy. Yvonne x

What is your most favourite fun thing to do? Playing  with  my friends and family.

When do you do it? At school and when we have play dates or if we have friends at our house for BBQs.

Why is it your favourite thing to do? It’s my favourite thing to do because we laugh a lot because we dance and sing and act silly. And we eat great food.

What is your favourite colour? Blue.

What is your favourite food? Curry.

What is your favourite treat? Flapjacks.

What is your favourite subject in school? Art.

What is your favourite sport? Gymnastics

What is your favourite movie? Alice in Wonderland.

What is your favourite book? Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates.

What is your favourite animal? Monkeys, sea lions and dogs.

What is something that you wish for? A baby sister.

What is something you wonder about? I wonder if I will have children. I’d really like a girl. One is enough because it’s hard work.

What is your favourite song? Lush Life by Zara Lawson

What is your favourite place to visit? Theme parks like Legoland or Chessington.

Where do you WANT to visit some day? Longleat Safari

What’s your favourite thing to do with your brother? Jumping on the trampoline.

What’s your favourite thing to do with your Dad? Going to Comedy 4 Kids.

What’s your favourite thing to do with Mum? Singing and dancing in the car.

What’s your favourite thing to do with your dog? I love to run around with Snow in the park.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a vet.

What is one thing you want to learn how to do? A French plait.

Who is someone that you miss? I miss my sister Gabrielle and my Grandma – they’re in Heaven together.

What makes you nervous? When I first try a new club I feel nervous but I do it anyway because I don’t really need to be nervous.

What makes you happy? When my mummy takes me for ice cream. Salted caramel and cookies&cream are my favourites.

What age do you look forward to – and why? I’m really looking forward to being 13 because I really want a mobile phone. I might be younger like 10 or something. I don’t know yet.

May 22, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life-April

My Life-April

We asked April - a compassionate, funny and creative  friend of my daughter Ola some questions, some of her answers made me smile. I particularly picked April for this mini-interview because of her ability to be sensitive to other children's needs. For example, last year, for Ola's birthday, April asked her mum if she could get Ola a stuffed toy since Ola had mentioned to her that she had none - I had cleared my daughter's room out and donated her toys to charity!

As we all know emotional intelligence is one of the ingredients that will help our kids get far in life... April has that.

Enjoy. Yvonne xxx


What is your favourite treat? 
Tunnock’s teacakes.

What is your favourite subject in school? Art.

What is your favourite sport? Cycling, gymnastics, swimming.

What is your favourite hobby? Reading.

What is your happiest memory? When we went on holiday in Croatia.

Why do you like being a kid? I don’t have to share with daddy.

One word to describe you would be creative.

What advice would you give your parents? Not to sneeze too  loudly.

If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? A dolphin so I could swim in the sea.

What do you like to do for fun? Playing on a strange bench with my friends And riding around  where I live.

Tell about a funny time in your life. When grandparents got into a man’s car by mistake.

What is your favourite thing to do? Why? Watching TV because I don’t have to do anything.

What is your favourite thing to do with your friends? Look at pop songs.

What is your favourite movie? Zootropolis.

What is your favourite thing to do in the summer? Go in the paddling pool.

What would be the ideal pocket money? Tell me how you would use it. One pound to save and use on books.

What do you think makes a person good-looking? Eating healthy

April 24, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life -  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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Shop Become The Best you  

 

Reneé Blog Mummy Tries  On Social Media  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |Pinterest

March 11, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life - Kathy McGuinness

My Life - Kathy McGuinness

Kathy McGuiness Mum-of-four and Campaigner is the founder of Local Mums Online and Child’s Eye Line UK. Kathy talks Identity, Beauty and what it really means to be a mum.

Enjoy, Yvonne xxx

What was the idea behind your website Local Mums Online? I wanted to create media that was relevant to my life and give mothers a voice in the public sphere, where they were under-represented. I was fed up of a Media that didn’t reflect the world as I was experiencing it. I knew all these support networks existed for mothers but they were invisible networks. How would a new mother know about them if she moved to a local area? I imagined myself without my friends and support and wanted to create something that would help new parents find support and information.

What do you love about it? The way the age-old, traditional networks of mothers supporting mothers can be replicated online. Technology may change but people stay the same; we still need information, advice and support from people we trust. I love the way mothers who may have been isolated have found friendship and support and this has empowered them. It’s amazing the way our collective voice has been so powerful politically, for example, by helping to save our local hospital and changing the way supermarkets market their products through the Child’s Eye Line campaign.

What does being a mum mean to you? It is a great privilege and a great responsibility, both to my children and to Society as I give mothers a voice in public life.

Name three things that are most special to you? Family, friendship and faith.

Who inspires you and why? Anyone who stands up for others and, specifically,
My great aunt, Dr Elsie Inglis. She was a leader of the suffragette movement in Scotland who campaigned for women to be allowed to study medicine at University; she helped poor women and children receive maternity care by founding hospitals for them and she lead hospital units as a surgeon on the frontline in World War 1. She taught me that through sheer determination and hard work you can move mountains.

What was the last book you read? The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Name three things about being a mum you love. Shared memories, shared jokes and a shared common identity with all the other mothers down through history.

What is the best advice you were ever given? ‘You only regret what you don’t do’; ‘Be the change you want to see’ and ‘If you can’t find the book you want to read, write it.’

What advice would you give your teenage self? Enjoy your freedom; one day you will have to work!

How has your identity changed since becoming a mum? I am more civic-minded; I care about the welfare of all children.

Freewill or destiny? A combination of both.

Apart from your kids, what else gives you pleasure? Books, travel, music and art.

What does me time entail? Reading.

As a mum, do you ever feel judged? ‘It is between me and God, it was never about them anyway.’ - Mother Theresa

What keeps you up at night? A good book.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Love is everything.

Weekend means…. No school runs!

How has social media helped you as a mum? It has helped me stay connected.

What is your parenting philosophy? Be kind.

Contact Kathy at  Twitter|Facebook - Kathy's websites LocalMumsOnline|ChildsEyeLine

March 04, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life - Sara Telford

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.

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

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.

January 31, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life - Yvadney Davis

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.

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

January 22, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life - Helen Morris

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.

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.

January 08, 2016 — Yvonne Telford
My Life - Gabrielle Thomas

My Life - Gabrielle Thomas

Mother of three boys and Head of Sales and Events at Nutcracker Agency, Gabby is a no-nonsense, determined and hard working woman. She always has some positive and kind words of wisdom tucked away to encourage other women - especially working mums. Gabby talks to us about Christmas, motherhood and what happiness means to her. 

What is your morning ritual? Coffee... and strong coffee at that!

What time did you wake up this morning? 5am.

What does Christmas mean to you? It means happiness, fun, giving and family.

What is on your Christmas menu? Traditional Christmas dinner... a feast!

How do you plan to spend time with your family during this festive period? A seven night stint at the home where I grew up.

What makes you happy? My family, good health, happiness, work and achieving.

What makes you sad? Syria.

What excites you? Family fun time, holidays, my work and my friends.

What are you most scared of? Small spaces... I'm incredibly claustrophobic.

What book are you reading at the moment? I've just read Aliens Love Panta Claus - does that count???

What is your greatest regret? Not taking school seriously.

What have you learnt from your mum? Pretty much everything. She is an incredible role model and amazing mum to five children. She had a big career and could juggle priorities tremendously.

What is the quality that the people who know you admire the most about you? My positivity.

How do you unwind? I don't... really.

What do you like about your job? The fast pace, the variety, the people and the reward.

What do you admire about yourself? My great organisational skills and dedication to absolutely everything I sign up for.

What is the one piece of wisdom that you have learnt from life? To prioritise.

What piece of advice has worked for you as a working mum? Plan ahead, and be organised.

What is the best thing about being a mum to three boys? There are so many. The boys care about each other and look out for one another. They are loving and cuddly. Negativity doesn't stay around for long. An argument is gone as soon as it arrives.

What does motherhood mean to you? Unconditional love. The responsibility of bringing up my children in the best possible way to give them a great start in life.

What is the best gift you have ever received? Without doubt, my children.

If your life was a song, what would the title be? Blessed.

What is your favourite movie in the last last five years? Vacation - it was so funny, and therefore memorable. Hilarious!

What is your favourite movie of all time? Once.

Your best quotes? Each day comes to each of us with both hands full of opportunities - Helen Keller. And, Life is what you make it.

Gabby is on Linkedin.

December 18, 2015 — Yvonne Telford
My Life - Seun Barber Shopeju

My Life - Seun Barber Shopeju

Seun Barber Shopeju - business woman, dentist, and mum of three beautiful girls - has always been destined for great things. She is one of those people you meet and you see greatness in them. Seun and our editor, Yvonne Telford met at boarding school in Kano, Nigeria. Seun went on to study Dental Surgery at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. After graduating from medical school she worked for the Lagos State Government.

When we asked Seun to tell us about what she has done for herself that she is really proud of, she said, “I was overweight most of my life, with the attendant health and emotional issues. But last year I did something about it, began to eat right, live right and got into shape. I’m really passionate about health, wellness and financial freedom, I help people achieve all three through a fantastic opportunity I discovered. I'm a born again Christian who believes totally in the word of God and Christ's saving grace.”

What is your morning ritual? I wake up between 4am and 5am. Check my phone for messages, and then I get out of bed, pray, and prepare for the day.

What time did you wake up this morning? About 4:45am.

Favourite Disney Character? Rafiki, the native doctor in 'Lion King.' I love his accent.

Best gift you have ever received? After graduation, a car from my Dad.

Best gift you have ever given someone? A washing machine.

What was the thing you wished you knew in secondary school? I wish I knew how to protect myself against bullies.

What is the coolest thing about being a mum? Well, my daughters think I'm the 'best thing since sliced bread'... For real - it's being a role model.

What does motherhood mean to you? It means being a lifeline and a role model. It means always being strong for my children, it means sacrifice and more sacrifice, giving of myself. And it means I get loads of love, hugs, kisses and appreciation in return. Nothing beats that!

Favourite website? foreverliving.com - my business.

What are the three things in your handbag you can’t live without? (a) My pen (I love to write), (b ) A little notepad (for when ideas hit me), (c) My phone (love to chat too).

Favourite lyrics? It Wasn't Easy by Cece Winans.

What is your favourite movie of all time? The Sound of Music.

What is your biggest phobia? Hate small enclosures and tight-fitting clothes.

What is your biggest fear? Not making it to heaven.

What is the last book you read? Go Pro by Eric Worre

How do you unwind? I watch a film or read a book.

What do you admire about yourself? I am decisive, bold, and assertive. I go for what I want and don’t really care what others think of me. Also, I always try to put myself in other people's shoes (empathy).

What advice can you pass on to other mothers? Motherhood is a calling, and it changes your life irreversibly. Give it all you've got, love your children, let them know they mean the world to you, teach them to be independent and strong, teach them to respect others, and let them know you believe in them. Be their biggest cheerleader.

What have you learnt from your children? I've learnt that no two people are never quite the same, and there's no fool proof method of dealing with them. What works for one may not work for the other. I've learnt to be creative and adaptable.

What excites you about life? The power God has given us to change the course of our lives, by the daily decisions we take.

What is the best thing about your job? I love it when patients who came into the clinic in obvious pain and discomfort, leave with smiles on their faces. I love making a positive difference in people's lives.

To find out more about Seun, she can be contacted on her Facebook page.

December 04, 2015 — Yvonne Telford