Daddy the superhero

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I was meant to have this written for Sunday, but it didn’t quite happen. Father’s Day – this one was extra special for us. Ryan’s first one as a dad, and what a dad he’s turning out to be.

I give Ryan a passing mention in my posts, but I should include him more. We’re a team, after all. And while I’m lucky enough to have the lion’s share of time with Ralphie, particularly during the week, Ryan more than makes up for it when he’s around.

Now I must say that Ryan isn’t a nappy changer. He’s also not one for getting Ralphie dressed or feeding him at dinner time. He’s fun daddy. He’d much rather dance around the living room making our boy laugh. He reads him stories; he lets Ralphie grab his face and lick his head; he chucks Ralphie up into the air and flies him around like a plane; he cuddles him tight and showers him with kisses.

When I’m upstairs desperately trying to get Ralphie to cooperate with me and stop flipping himself over on the changing mat when putting on a fresh nappy (argh it drives me mad!), Ryan swoops in and appeases the situation. He’s the king of distraction; he’s the peace maker.

If you asked Ralphie what he thought of his dad, I reckon it would be something like this…

My Daddy. He’s not like my Mummy. He cannot give me milk, but he gives me lots of cuddles. When he comes into the room he makes me squeal with delight. I always listen out for his deep voice, and when I hear it I can barely contain my excitement.

Daddy doesn’t make me do horrible things like have my nappy changed. He would never force me to eat avocado. That’s Mummy’s job, and I like to keep her on her toes!

The best part of the day is when Daddy comes home from work. At this point, I’m usually covered in my dinner. Sometimes, Mummy’s got her act together and I’m already in my pyjamas. I hear Daddy at the front door and I kick my legs with joy. He runs in and tickles me, and I bury my face in Mama’s neck so that she can protect me.

My Daddy is the coolest. He has a shaved head that I like to blow raspberries on. His nose is good for biting too, but Mummy doesn’t let me do that anymore now that I have teeth.

Daddy is always asking me for kisses. Sometimes I’m too busy to give him them, but he’s rather persistent. One thing I do love to do is shout “dada” really loud when he’s around, just to let him know how much I love him.

Think outside the bulb

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I stumbled across Bulb London’s Instagram page (@bulb_london) a couple of months back (this happens quite often these days!), and I was immediately captivated.

I absolutely love it when I find something different and quirky – and this new kids’ lifestyle and décor brand is definitely that. Their designs are unique and clever. As soon as I saw their amazing lightbulb decoration, I was desperate to get my hands on one.

After months of hard work and preparation, Bulb London opened its virtual doors last week. In between running her new business and packing up orders, Agnete Rinne – the amazing mama behind it all – took some time out to tell me what Bulb London is all about, and what inspired her to set up her own business.

Before we hear all about Bulb London, tell me a little about yourself and your family.
We are a trilingual, modern, lifestyle-conscious family living in London. I came to the city in 2006 to study and I’m still here (laughing). I’m originally from Rīga, the capital of Latvia.

I have always been creative; my mum was a painter so I guess, she ‘pushed’ me down the same route, which I’m grateful for. I painted portraits back home, but wanted to try something different when I came to London. So I went for visual arts and graphic design. I’m not exactly a computer person, but I’m happy I hold a degree. I met my partner Farhan (everyone calls him Haan) during our university days, and we are still going strong. Oh gosh, we fight and argue – not only we are from different cultures, but we have our wonderful daughter Mia as well as our joint business to juggle.

So how did the idea for your business come about?
My mother use to paint, as did my grandfather, so I come from a very artistic background. I have a natural eye for colour and shape, and I always wanted to do something big; sometimes I think people don’t dare to dream big enough. So one day me and Haan sat on the sofa and we were like “f*** it – lets do it!” My creativity is unstoppable, but I need someone to manage me, therefore we are a great match. Trust me, not everyone can work with their other half, especially with a control freak like me!

Where did you get the inspiration from for your fabulous designs?
Our darling Mia is the heart of Bulb London. As a parent, I have a job to be a role model to my daughter, and by extension, to other young people too. I also understand how to turn a lightbulb on in someone’s head. Creativity equals inspiration, and if you’ve got a creative mind, you don’t ever stop working. It’s about how you deliver your idea.

Now that your shop is live, what products can people get their hands on?
We launched on 1 June. We worked day and night to go live. Every single thing – from the sketches to the final products – we’ve done ourselves. We have a range of prints, kids’ room deco and tees for kids aged 1-8 years. We also created a tote bag for people who like to ‘think outside the bulb’.

If you could choose one favourite item from your range, what would it be?
Am I allowed to have favourites? (laughing) It’s definitely the Mama Queen print – it’s a portrait of me! I also love the black bulb all over print tee.

I know it’s early days, but what’s in the pipeline for Bulb London?
We are basically building a baby – creating it, evolving it and developing it. At the moment, we are working on our adult range of tees. We’ve got so much more to give. I truly believe that we could all change our entire consciousness if we dared to dream big.

Visit Bulb London’s website to discover the full range. And be sure to check out Agnete’s Instagram page for some amazing lifestyle shots.

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An open letter to all shop owners

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Please, help a desperate mother. I’m not known for my driving ability, so why oh why, dear shop owners, do you make your aisles so damn difficult to navigate with a pushchair?

I’m lucky enough to live close by to two mini supermarkets. They’re so handy, and I used to swan in at any time of day to pick up the odd essential or treat. Not any more. If you see an irate looking mother pushing a cute baby boy around in a beige Silvercross, chuntering loudly to herself – that will be me!

Since having a baby – whom I tend to transport in a pushchair because he’s heavy – I’ve pretty much given up on using my local Co-op. It’s a crying shame, because I love their deli range and fresh bread. But seriously, it’s almost impossible to get down the aisles. The trouble started when I was pregnant. The aisles are literally so close together that two people can’t get past each other without twisting, or – in my case – awkwardly reversing. Add a pram to the mix and you are doomed.

At Christmas, some smart Alec decided to park a giant Santa right by the door, obstructing the aisle as you came in. I took great delight in ramming my pram wheels into that. I mean, seriously.

Don’t even get me started on Sainsbury’s. Too late! I’ve started! No matter what time of day I go in there, they’re restocking the shelves. Those trolley cages are everywhere, blocking up the aisles; it drives me craaaazy! How quickly do those shelves empty? Really? Give us customers some goddam space to shop. Isn’t that the whole point of being open?

The problem doesn’t stop there. It’s everywhere.

For instance, yesterday I wanted to pop into Waterstones to get Ralphie a new book for bedtime. But pop I didn’t. Until now, I’ve happily used the escalators that go down into the store without even thinking about how pushchair and wheelchair users get in. Turns out, you have to go to the side entrance and they have one of those wheelchair platform lifts that fit one person in at a time. And for health and safety reasons, the staff have to operate it for you. Cue an awkward 30 seconds as you whir down oh so slowly to ground level.

Once I was in the store, it actually got worse. Someone has dotted tables with books on everywhere. It was like they’d set up some kind of joke obstacle course. I had to weave my way to the back of the store, dodging awkwardly angled table legs and piles of books. I crashed into a few and I’m not even sorry. In fact, I think at times I did it on purpose.

I don’t think I can bring myself to go back. Amazon, you win.

And Debenhams. You are just as bad. I eventually found the lifts (I’ve quickly learned that they’re usually at the back of the store) and I pushed the button to get to the ground floor. I exited and before me were some bloomin’ stairs. What?! So I got out the lift and had to use another mini lift to get down the flight of stairs. What kind of sick joke is this?

The list goes on, and on, and on. It’s making my blood boil just thinking about it! And I’m just a pushchair user. My situation is temporary (ish). What about people in wheelchairs? Or mothers with double buggies? What on earth do they do?

Mr J. Sainsbury, Mr Co-op, Mr Waterstones and all you other shop owners out there, I hope you are listening. There’s a reason people prefer to shop online these days. Your store layouts are really not helping matters.

Yours,

An irate mother

PS. You’ve actually succeeded in making shopping my new pet hate. I hope you are pleased with yourselves.