Football Mum of the Year

Two weeks ago we were invited along to Petts Wood FC for an hour-long training session with Casey Stoney, the England and Arsenal Ladies footballer, to celebrate the launch of McDonald’s Football Mum of the Year.

Football Mum of the Year

Football Mum of the Year is an award to celebrate us mum’s who make football happen – and the launch we attended involved H and the other kids having a training session with Casey Stoney – a nice simple training session too. The children had to imagine they were on a pirate ship and complete a few tasks – from kicking the ball from one side to the other, and chasing the ball as Casey rolled it down the pitch, or just running as quick as they could to Casey to give her a high five. You don’t need a field to do these exercises, you can do them at home too – all you need is a brick wall (for kicking balls against) and you’re set! (preferably outdoors)

Football Mum of the Year
I’ve already done a quick writeup about how the experience has changed H – how something plugged in with her again and her love of playing football reappeared. The last two weeks have been quite remarkable. She is now playing football with Carshalton Athletic every Saturday we can make it, and is really enjoying playing again. I’m a Football Mum again! I get H’s clothes ready, I wash them, I do her hair, I make sure her shinpads are clean and I make a mental note I need to get her new tracksuit bottoms and socks because she has grown. Again. I make sure her footwear is the right kind and fits. Oh, and pack a fleece in case it’s windy, and be at the side ready for a quick hug if she falls over and feels sad.

Do you know a football mum? It doesn’t have to be someone who takes their child to football – what about the mums who make sure everything is ready to make it happen for their child? Or someone who helps a club exist maybe? Or even does fundraising. If you know someone, then why not nominate them for the Football Mum of the Year Awards? The winner will be presented with their award on the 2nd September at Wembley! You just need to vote here.

Football Mum of the Year
I grew up watching York City in my teens, and before H was born we went to Tottenham games as often as we could. My dream is to take H to games and her to enjoy them as much as we did. When Shaun first arrived in the UK from Australia, football had to be his sport – even if he resisted supporting my two teams to start with! So poor old H has no choice, but fortunately she seems happy with the teams she has (thank you Harry Kane, five year olds like players who score lots of goals).

Football Mum of the Year

We’ve bought tickets for the Women’s FA Cup Final on the 1st August this year, to take H to Wembley for the first time (she missed the England v Germany game due to being ill) and I know she’ll enjoy it, watching her first big game as a neutral. Let’s not forget the Women’s World Cup this summer too – Casey Stoney has been selected for the team as well, so H has been really proud she might see someone she’s met playing football on tv soon!

Also, I’ve never played a game of football in my life. But that doesn’t stop me supporting my daughter and making it happen. If you know someone else that does that, get nominating!

Football Mum of the Year

Here’s a video which was produced on our morning out – look out for our blink-and-you-miss-it appearance! My interview with Casey will go live as soon as I get a chance.

Project 365 Week 19

Sunday 3rd May.  After the hectic Saturday it was a rainy Sunday so we decided to have an easy one. So we went to Ikea then on to Carshalton Park afterwards for a bit of calm. H was wearing her Nirvana t-shirt and some denim, plus an oversized check shirt and she was in an absolute stinker of a mood – a proper emo-child. We decided it must be her chosen outfit which sent her a bit doolally, as she’s never normally as grumpy as she was.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 4th May. We went to Hatchlands Park, primarily to spend some money which would benefit Clandon Park, but also because the bluebells are out in force right now. It was packed – so much so that we gave up on eating there and decided to go to Winkworth Arboretum which isn’t just up the road, but isn’t that far away. They didn’t have much food there though, but we had enough – plus got to see more bluebells and the azalea steps. Anyway, Winkworth had one of the new ’50 Things to do Before You’re 11 3/4′ books so H got a new one.

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Tuesday 5th May. If I don’t take a photo of anything, I’ll take it of my food. So here’s my soup as made in the Morphy Richards Soup Maker (Butternut squash, red pepper and broccoli), and some bread from the breadmaker. I like having machines that do all the hard work for me.

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Wednesday 6th May. I am not vegan, but I do eat vegan food, what with having been a vegetarian since around 1983. Fry’s foods are my favourite – their curry pies are amazing. I discovered the coconut oil spray in Tesco so thought I’d give it a try – the two go well together as well!

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Thursday 7th May. Yeah, that. We did it. H said “you ONLY have to put a cross on a piece of paper?!”

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Friday 8th May. Finally after several months of trying and H getting angry and frustrated, she showed me how to tie a bow on her school dress. She worked it out at school and I’m relieved – she got so cross with herself when she couldn’t do it straight away.

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Saturday 9th May. We took H to Carshalton Athletic this morning after recommendations for football groups you don’t have to commit to. It’s really close to our house so walkable, but for her first week we drove, mainly as I was sure it was going to rain anyway – it did, but nothing to get wet with! H was paired up with another girl and really got stuck in. When she did Crystal Palace lessons she would often get frustrated by things, but today she was so much happier and confident, and got on with it. She was put in the older kids group too – and her coach said she has good skills, we just need to work on her thinking which was encouraging! The best bit of all? Girls go free. How awesome is that? So we have no excuse not to go.

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Football For Everyone

We were invited to a training session at Petts Wood FC near Orpington with Casey Stoney, the Arsenal and England footballer.  It was the launch of McDonalds Football Mum of the Year – there will be a proper writeup to follow, but H has rediscovered her love of playing football thanks to Casey.

casey high five

Football Mum of the Year is a chance for you to vote for a mum who you feel inspires you, who helps the game of football happen – be that driving a child to matches or just washing their kit.  I’ll write up more about this, but right now I’m slightly emotional – as this morning H rediscovered her love of playing football, after swearing blind she hated playing the game, something I suspected wasn’t true.

We used to do football lessons with a local team – H really enjoyed going, and didn’t seem too fazed that she was the only girl there. Things were going well and everything was good – but then they changed the coach to a more shouty one, her school friends all stopped going and it wasn’t quite so much fun for her.

casey training

H decided from that point onwards she didn’t like playing football any more. She would happily watch it (and we would have gone to England v Germany Women at Wembley had she not been unwell) but actually playing games wasn’t happening any more.

That was until Saturday; something reawoke in H. Once the ball was at her feet she got on with it – and did really well. Despite not having had any classes for a long time now she played and had confidence. It made me SO happy! I’m wondering if it was because she was one of the older children there so wasn’t as shy about things.

interviewing Casey Stoney

Afterwards I interviewed Casey Stoney (which will appear in the full writeup next week). You can see how passionate she is about the game – and how much she enjoyed encouraging the young ones to play. It was a different style of coaching to the kind we’d previously experienced and it worked for H. I felt like she had a little more spatial awareness and any initial shyness she had felt was gone quickly – she wanted to join in.

Women’s football is getting popular – and rightly so. But most importantly of all, the games are affordable. We’ve just bought three tickets for Wembley for the FA Cup Final for £25 with postage. I don’t care who is playing, we’re going to have fun and help introduce H to the fact that women can play football and they do it well. After all, it was H herself who told me once that a boy said “girls can’t like football” – I’m not sure why they thought that.

This is where the McDonald’s Football Mum of the Year comes in. If you know any mums out there who encourage their children, who support them, who make it happen, you can vote for them. This isn’t about women’s football, or men’s football – it’s just football – for everyone. How it should be – and celebrating the mums who help make it happen. Casey Stoney is also on the panel who will judge all the entries.

This afternoon once we’d had some lunch, H turned to Shaun. “Daddy, can we go and play football in the park?” – I think something has been reignited in her love of playing football. I’m going to find a local group which has plenty of girls in there, where she can just turn up and play.

You can vote on the McDonalds Football Mum of the Year over here.

We were given a goody bag to attend today, all opinions are my own. 

Project 365 – Week 18

Sunday 26th April. Disney on Ice. H and her pal F from school had tickets for Disney On Ice – and they both loved it. I wish I’d had blinkers to put on H when we entered Wembley Arena with all the merchandise on offer – my girl has expensive tastes… but we kept it simple thank goodness. It was a great show, and we headed to the South Bank afterwards for food and to have a run around – plus we wanted to show them the two Shaun the Sheep statues there – a busy day and loads of fun. Our next planned trip is to see Matilda the Musical!

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Monday 27th April. I got the Call of Dooom from school. H was feeling dizzy and had a temperature. She didn’t actually have a temperature once I took it when we got home, but was dizzy. This is a random picture of a flower basket we bought at the weekend which H chose. It matches our purple wall planter thingummy well.

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Tuesday 28th April. Still not right. Took her to the doctors later that day and she has an ear infection in BOTH ears. Her immune system is good, which meant she had no pain, just the dizziness which is a relief. Previous ear infections have been painful for her. It was an early night. I took a photo of H in bed, but I don’t need to post it here – it’s just my girl sleeping.

Wednesday 29th April. I took the day off work as she was on antibiotics and still dizzy. Except she seemed to run around with a hula hoop around her ankles. Definitely getting better…

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Thursday 30th April. I was SO stressed about today for reasons I can’t go into here. Luckily my ‘Montage of Heck’ DVD turned up at home, so while Shaun was out watching ‘Have I Got News For You’ being filmed, I curled up on the settee to watch the documentary. It was good, and interesting how it portrays Kurt Cobain. I did get a bit tired watching it, so a second viewing is happening sometime soon… (edited to add, we watched it again, I fell asleep again!)

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Friday 1st May. My copy of Hans Christian Andersen on DVD arrived! There are so many films, musicals which never get shown on tv any more (even Grease hasn’t been on for years), and I know H will love this as she knows a few of the songs already. I used to love it when I was young, so I have high hopes. Another DVD for the collection…

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 2nd May. Something awoke in H today – we were invited to Petts Wood FC for a training session with Casey Stoney the Arsenal and England footballer to launch McDonalds Football Mum of the Year. We left home with H grumpy and not wanting to join in, to us leaving and her demanding another run around the fields. She even went with Shaun to the park for a game for the first time in ages.  I feel slightly emotional that something as simple as a training session which she ‘gets’ could be all that restarts the love of football, and I really hope we keep it up. I love this picture – she had to run to Casey and give her a high five!

casey high five

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Project 365 Week 6

A busy, cold week it was. February too.

Sunday February 1st. We went to the Peppa Pig premiere at Leicester Square. We’re lucky we can get there by tube from Morden really easily, so arrived ten minutes before they were letting anyone in – not that I realised. So while we stood outside freezing, actually we timed it perfectly as we were warm inside fairly quickly in the end. We bumped into Jenny from the Gingerbread House while we were there, so all sat together which was really nice. Afterwards we went on the London Eye and the London Aquarium (using our Merlin passes), finishing it with tea at Pizza Express – using the 40% off voucher. Result!

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Monday Feb 2nd. Back to work. Back to Rainbows. I was bought a lovely bunch of flowers from a client at work which made it home in one piece – that never happens at work, and it was the perfect excuse to put them in the vase I inherited from my Grannie (via my mum). I love the vase and remember it from my Grannie’s well (she died in 1985).

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Tuesday 3rd Feb. We had snow. It settled, but had gone by 10am. I guess that’s our quota this year? It may have been possible to build a slightly larger snowman had I not been at work. It wasn’t to be – instead I took photos of the snow on the tracks and marvelled that my train arrived on time.

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Wednesday 4th Feb. I love Wednesdays now, as we’re not rushing around any more; that’s Monday and Tuesday instead; so we made a monster as we’re reviewing some Bear Nibbles. H obviously based it around the letter H, and got glue all over her hands just so she could peel it off. Her favourite crafty pastime. 

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Thursday 5th Feb. My un-self conscious daughter. I plait her hair into two smaller plaits at the front to keep the shorter wispy bits out of her face, then wind it into the bigger plaits at the back. This didn’t work today, and she spent most of the day at school with four plaits in her hair. Luckily nobody seems to think this is odd. Maybe we’ll start a trend.

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Friday 6th Feb. Around Carshalton and Wallington are loads of sewer vents. When we lived in Wallington there was one at the end of our road, and I had no idea what it was. I love them, they’re so interesting. We have one at Wrythe Green near where we live now, and I’ve always tried to get a decent shot of it alongside H. This is the latest attempt. We were walking to the Post Office to get a letter to Australia in time for her not-quite-cousin’s birthday. Expect photos of sewer vents from time to time. I *may* have a lot of them logged in Google Maps because I’m really sad like that. Cough. 

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Saturday 7th Feb. Lazy day, although we headed into Wallington and had lunch at Caffe Nero – a place I lived in when I was on maternity leave. While there, H was happy Tottenham had beat Arsenal 2-1, as well as being even happier her current favourite footballer Harry Kane had scored both goals. We finally have a Gareth Bale replacement for her football love. Phew.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Project 365 – Week 2

A back to normal kind of week – back to work, back to school, back to normality again. Christmas tree back in the loft one, and waiting for the tooth fairy to pay a visit which felt like it would never happen. So, onwards…

Sunday 4th Jan – H had an invite to a schoolfriends’ football party at Sutton Arena. There was an athletics display on too (which we all spent more time watching while the kids ate) – but no parking so Shaun had to park several streets away. But they have these bumpers at the crossing as we headed back to the car – how cool?

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Monday 5th Jan. I was back to work but H had an inset day, or as we like to call it, an Insect Day. She corrects us every time. She had a movie afternoon, and chose Annie. I made it my job to make sure H has plenty of good DVDs to watch which I enjoy too 🙂

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Tuesday 6th. Back to normal, back to work, school, everything. I got in and started removing decorations from the tree, tried to move the tree and spilt water on the carpet. Oops! But it was packed up and going. It had gone by Saturday. There is now a big empty space.

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Wednesday 7th Jan – H’s first copy of Anorak Magazine turned up. She has three magazine subscriptions and I love them all; Okido which is a present from her Auntie, Storytime and now Anorak which are presents from me as they’re FABULOUS magazines. It’s opening a whole new world to her, where magazines aren’t full of ads and are full of wonderful content, with stories, activities and fun things. I’m so glad we’ve done it. My first magazines were Twinkle and Bunty, and if I can get her enjoying content and creating things like I did, I’m doing something right. 

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Thursday 8th Jan – The mornings and nights are getting lighter, but will I get home on a Thursday before it gets dark? Just… Wednesday had a really light morning followed by a dark one on Thursday. Friday was light again, I’m just confused.

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Friday 9th Jan – We played ‘Labyrinth’ by Ravensburger games tonight – H got it for Christmas. I won. She was not happy, even though she finished the move after me. She’s a terrible loser, but this year I’m going to make sure I don’t let her win, as she’s getting better at accepting other people might get there before her. Phew.

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Saturday 10th Jan. We have been waiting for nearly two weeks for the wobbly tooth to come out – H even told me that she was friends with it on Facebook. She has a paper phone with an F on it, you see. FINALLY it came out with a bit of help and bribery from me. She has another wobbly tooth which is probably a week or two (or a month going on this one) away, and an adult tooth coming through at last. She had her front tooth extracted in hospital a year and a half ago. I’m relieved as I was convinced it would come out at school – one less worry there!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky


The England Women’s Football Team play Germany at Wembley on Sunday 23rd November – I’ve just bought us tickets. £10 for adults and £1 for under 16’s – AND only £2.50 postage on top – no fees.

If only all events were like this!

I’m so excited to take H to Wembley – she kind of has been, but she was in my tummy at the time (when York City made the playoffs back in 2009)

We’re excited, anyway!

The Early Bird offer is on for the whole of September, or until tickets sell out.

A Whole Lotta Soreen Going On

We are a house of Soreen lovers. The cupboard is never without a loaf and it has become the staple (alongside fruit) of snacks for the short gap after school and heading out to football classes or swimming lessons; one of those snacks that keep you feeling full and also has a medium GI.

Soreen goodies

Soreen isn’t a new brand of course – I was eating them when I was a little girl. Malt loaf, buttered and eaten just like that as a snack probably before I went swimming or had my ballet lessons. Soreen is in fact over 75 years old – so chances are maybe your parents ate it too.

These days there’s a much bigger variety of Soreen snacks on offer – and we were sent a selection. The Lunchbox Loaves are ideal for packed lunches – while H has school dinners at school, at Holiday Club she’ll often take a packed lunch, so we always make sure she has some Soreen in there. We went to Legoland Windsor on Good Friday, stocking up with the same loaves as they’re just the right size – for parents and kids. There are also Kids Go Free vouchers on several varieties if you were planning a trip – there was even a stand with free samples on our way out!

The Cinnamon and Raisin fruit loaf is my favourite – I’m a sucker for cinnamon, and within our box of goodies is a recipe for a Summer Pudding which of course we will be trying soon….

The Soreen Toastie Loaf is pretty much as described – a loaf, pre-sliced and ‘perfect for toasting’ – I can vouch for this. For me, the chopping of Soreen is something I have problems with – same as bread really, I can never quite get it straight. Having it sliced for me, therefore, is a good thing.

I love the Snack Malt Loaf too – two buttered slices of Soreen packaged in a foil fresh packet, perfect for eating on the go – ours will keep fresh until late May which gives a month of freshness in there, possibly more.

Soreen on the Go!

But I’m saving the very best one till last – Soreen Chocolate is back! “A chocolatey malt loaf with indulgent chocolate chips” – now I may say I’m chocolate-d out at the moment, but this is lovely – a subtle chocolate to the malt loaf and packaged up with a Mega Offer of being only £1 at the moment, so keep an eye out. I swear, every time I touch the package I get a chocolate aroma all around me – it’s divine. Oh, and squidgy of course, as all Soreen products are!

We’ll try some of the recipes and report back – H doesn’t know where to start!

Soreen’s official website is here and you can follow on Facebook and Twitter too

We were sent a selection of Soreen products to try – all opinions are our own

Dear H&M

I love you. You make really nice clothes for my little girl – and that’s what she is, a little girl. Please don’t think you exclusively have my love, but this week you do.

While I’ll still wince inside as I see your stores with their blues and greens and browns to one side, and sparkles, princesses, pink and sequins to the other, the other day I was happy to see a section which appeals to both genders (even if it was tucked over in the boys section a teeny bit more).

Since we received your last catalogue H has had her eye on a Brazil football shirt. What I love the most about that page in the catalogue is there are boys and girls wearing the shirts – it isn’t exclusively male (as of course football isn’t).

H has been having football lessons for the last year – initially she was the only girl in her group but this last term she’s been with three others – and I think it’s great. Somehow in the last few weeks she’s telling me which toys are girls or boys ones, and is starting to notice it a lot more. It makes me sad, I’m not into labelling things by gender.

Seeing something which is inclusive for all makes me happy inside. Even my team (Tottenham) did the weirdest thing, making ‘Never Red’ shirts in pink – for girls. When I got my first Spurs shirt it was blue and white with just the badge on it, as I’m sure many other females did.

So thank you H&M for not dumbing down or pink-ing up the football shirts, and just making them the same for everyone. It makes me very happy. That and it being £5.99 which is a brilliant price!



H&M Football shirts for girls

The Hub @ Tooting & Mitcham Football Club

This is a soft play area which is well worth a visit. It’s £4 for a single child and I pay £6 for my two (age 6years & 20months June 2011) This is for a two hour session and it closes at 6pm.
The “playzone” for children is in the style of a ship. There is a dedicated area for the under fours however the sides are very low and my 20month old climbs out to get into the big kids bit.
It’s on two levels, with slides, playballs and various knock about bits you expect to find in soft play.
The area is generally quite clean although the only baby changing area is in the disabled toilet, and sometimes that’s not working or a bit smelly. The adult toilets are in good condition and have always had a supply of toilet paper & soap.
They serve hot and cold food. We’ve had the hot food a few times and I’ve always been more than happy with the service and quality of food. Kids portions are huge! Tea & coffee is very reasonable and I might note; drinkable. They have a range of snacks and drinks available for the kids and do ask that you don’t bring your own food. They have about 5 ikea high chairs for the smaller ones.
It’s hard to determine how busy it gets. I’ve been on days where it’s rammed out and you can’t get a seat and I’ve been on days when we’ve been the only family in there.
For older children, across the hall from the “playzone” is the “challenge zone” this is a high up soft area for climbing. My 6 year old is tall and finds some of it a bit difficult.
All in all, a good place to go on a rainy day to burn up some energy or to meet your Mummy friends and have a coffee.