Saturday, 21 January 2012

Really, I just don't care

On one of my journeys home from work this week, I picked up on this thread from Mumsnet which made me chuckle. It started as a list of things people really couldn't care less about, and then developed into a hate list of all the things that annoy people. I preferred the first bit and thought I'd join in with the top ten things that I just don't care about:

1. Pets. Especially dogs. They are not children.
2. People who put their pets in clothes. See above.
3. Other people's holiday photographs. Well done for going. I'm not interested what it looked like.
4. Your children's sleeping/eating/potty training habits. It's enough to have to deal with my own. I don't need to live through yours too.
5. American 'sports' (I use the term loosely). With the exception of ice hockey - that's okay. World Series? You'd think that would include some other countries. Apparently not. So don't bother me with it.
6. People who moan constantly, but do nothing about whatever's upsetting them. Put up, or shut up. 
7. Reality television programmes. I don't know who you are and I don't care. Don't irritate me.
8. The latest Nintendo/Xbox/Sega-whatever. Who on earth has the time?
9. Switching energy/phone/broadband providers to save about 20p a year. It costs more than that to research it.
10. Cars. If it works when I put the key in the ignition, we're good to go. Couldn't care less what size engine it has, how many miles to the gallon or anything else. 

The worst thing about writing this? Realising I could go on...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A new dawn in cleansing has arrived at Martini Towers

Now, I'll be honest. When I opened my Christmas present from my sister (who, for those that are not regular readers, lives in New York) I'll openly admit I didn't have a clue what it was. I had never heard of a Clarisonic Mia and I certainly had no idea how to use one. But, I was about to be very pleasantly educated.

A quick bit of google research taught me that:
1. It is the smallest Sonic Skincare Cleansing System, an electric face brush using technology called 'Sonic Cleansing' - a way of brushing your skin to remove dirt and oil while cleansing
2. It is a one-button, one-speed, one-minute device that comes in a variety of colours
3. It's completely waterproof - so its safe for even me to use in the shower
4. It cleanses six times better than with your hands
5. It prepares skin for better absorption of creams, serums and moisturisers
6. It's gentle enough to be used twice a day

(See for yourself on the Clarisonic website)
Moreover, google revealed that this has actually been on the market for a while. My sis assures me these are massive in the US - and in the UK, they've had some very positive reactions too - I've just missed them. Shame on me.

My sister knows me well. I love a gadget and I love my beauty products, so something that combines the two was always going to appeal. And funnily enough, during my recent trip to the States I briefly considered buying the Neutrogena Wave Power Facial Skin Cleanser. I didn't because, although it's considerably cheaper than the Mia (it's available in the UK for £15 - it was about $13 in Target), I decided I'd probably never use it. So, when I opened my present, I was delighted.

The unit is completely waterproof - it has an innovative way of charging - it's called a pLink charger - that attaches magnetically. The first time, they recommend charging for 24 hours, although obviously the voltage in the US is half that of the UK, so it was quicker here. Once charged though, it lasts for 20 minutes. 

I was keen to get on with it. It's so simple to operate, it's untrue. Literally, there is one button and it shuts off automatically after one minute, so you can't overdo it. The brush is gentle yet really effective - it left my skin feeling lovely and smooth. I did think I'd only use it in the evening (mornings are pretty time critical at Martini Towers) but I've been using it twice a day since I charged it.

The pack does come with a small tube of cleanser, and my very generous sister also bought me some Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser, so  I'm set for the moment. However, you can use with any cleanser, so you don't even have to switch from a brand that you're partial to. Always a winner in my book. 

The brush heads are replaceable, and they recommend changing them every 2-3 months. This is not the cheapest exercise in the world. You can buy the Mia on and at various other outlets for £120. The replacement heads cost around £20. But, and it's a big BUT, I personally think this is money very well spent. (Or, get a generous sibling to buy you one for your birthday). I can't comment (yet) on the long-term results, but over the past week, my skin has improved considerably. I'll report back in three months on the longer term effects. 

My overall verdict: it's pricey, but it's worth it. Buy one. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Travelling BC (before children) vs travelling with kids

Well, we've made it. 9 hours out and 7.5 hours back, on the mighty American Airlines. Despite the aircraft looking concerningly like it was recently used to film Pan Am (seriously, televisions in the ceiling of the plane is something I didn't realise was still possible), the crew were helpful and it we couldn't really have asked for a better experience at the airports or in the air. Booking with BA was a mistake, but that's another story. 

But, I can't help comparing the whole experience to a time when air travel was a very different beast. Before I had children, this is roughly what I had to look forward to when travelling:

- 24 hours before flying - check-in online. Obviously, no issues here. Consider whether or not to pay the 'special offer price' to upgrade. Generally decide against it, thinking I'll save the money to shop at the airport
- 2.5 hours before flying - pack. No real planning required - just throw a few things into a bag. Anything I forget, I'll buy when I get there. Argue with relevant travel partner that this should have been done earlier. Head to the airport.
- 1.5 hours before flying - get to airport. Check in bag and head to security. Curse people with children that take hours to dismantle all their luggage / pushchairs / hand luggage for the x-ray machines. Tut under my breath as I swan past them with only my coat and my handbag to go through the machine. 
- 1.25 hours before flying - shop. Wander round duty free, buy make up / perfume / gadgets / clothes. Have a quick look round Boots and buy whatever it is I've inevitably forgotten.
- 1 hour before flying - head to the bar. No matter what time of day it is, it's always wine o'clock at the airport. 
- 30 minutes before flying - check the board to see if the plane is boarding. If it is, order a final drink to help the journey along.
- 15 minutes before flying - the board now says 'final call'. Consider buying another drink - depends how far away the gate is.
- 5 minutes before flying - head to gate. Discover the gate is bloody miles away, break into a gentle jog and make it just as they are closing the doors. Settle in my seat and wait for the drinks trolley to arrive.

I would like to point out that this system never failed me - I have not yet missed a flight. 

And the routine for the most recent trip - with two children and me being six months pregnant:

- 1 week before flying - start packing for the kids. Also call the airline, discover there are no children's meals and that we can't sit together as a family. I'll do a separate post on this, but in short, after a week of trying we finally discovered that we couldn't check-in online and couldn't do anything to change our horrendous seat allocation. 
- 1 day before flying - finish packing for the kids. Start and finish my packing. We have a total of 10 items - 3 x suitcases (one for me, one for Mr. Martini and one for the Martini children), 2 x car seats, 1 x pushchair, 1 x change bag (for me as hand luggage), 1 x back pack (Mr. Martini's hand luggage) and 2 x trunki's. These are brilliant by the way - highly recommended. For all the toys you need at the airport and on the plane to entertain the children. If I wasn't pregnant, it would also have contained a bottle of vodka for me.
- the night before we leave - load the car so we're ready to go.
- day of the flight - 5.30am - wake up, get dressed and then get the kids up. Give them a snack and then get in the car.
- 6.30am - head to the airport.
- 7am - arrive at the airport. Unload our 10 bags onto two trolleys and push them to the check-in desk. This takes half an hour. Oh, and our flight departs at 11.30am. We are at the check-in desk a record four hours before we take off.
- 7.30am - check-in. As previously mentioned, we couldn't do this online, so it takes quite a bit of time.
- 8am - we now only have four hand luggage bags - light in comparison! Prepare ourselves for the security checks. Queue patiently, get stopped, have to go through our bags, produce the toddler food supplies and wait for them to be security checked. Try and stop the kids running back through the security scanners, which they find very entertaining. Try not to irritate all the other passengers with all our coats, bags, shoes and other random kit while the security guards check our food. Fail to stop Elder Martini riding around on his trunki making ne-naw noises and sometimes knocking into other people's legs. (His trunki looks like a fire engine.) Make huge sighs of relief when we're finally given permission to progress and head through to the air-side section of the terminal
- 9.15am - head straight to the airport lounge (okay, some habits are too hard to give up). Get the kids breakfast. Attempt (and generally fail) to get a cup of tea and some toast whilst the kids are distracted looking at the planes. This doesn't last long. 
- 10am - begin checking the screens to see when the gate opens. 
- 10.30am - head to the gate to get a good spot close to the front. Make ourselves known to the crew and ask if we can board early. We can't - families don't get priority - so just wait until our row block is called.
- 11am - settle on the plane. Unpack half the toys from the trunkis and get the water beakers ready for the kids. And then sit back to prepare for the nine hour flight. 

What a difference two children make. Weird thing is, I wouldn't have it any other way. (Although I'll admit, I did look ever so slightly wistfully at the duty free shop at T3 as we walked straight past it.)