Monday, 26 December 2011

Thank the lord...

Breath in....breath out...breath in....heave a sigh of relief.  Christmas is over and I actually got through it without crying, throwing a tantrum or throwing the kids out!  

I wish I could say it was peaceful and magical...but it wasn't.  It was one continuous food fest from Christmas Eve until just 10 minutes ago, when I stuffed the last mince pie down BH's throat, even though he was protesting he couldn't eat another thing.  The thought that I might wake in the night and creep down and eat it was all that was playing on my mind. No more bleedin' mince pies! Yee haww! The house is a bit empty now that Sis and her family (with BB and Girlfriend), Ma and Pa, Bro and partner have all departed to their various homesteads, but I'm glad they've gone. I've loved having them, but I love having my home back.

The kids have been excellent.  They behaved better than the adults.   Sis's husband got seriously annoyed with us as we refused to play to the rules of scrabble and made up our own.  I mean, there were three under 13 who had no idea what "ZOANTHARIANS" means.  I didn't either but I'm not admitting to it! He threatened to take the board away!!  It was our board! Fortunately, I think we can put it down to alcohol and tiredness as Mimi ran in at 5.30, jumped on their bed and demanded that he put together her dolls house.  BH told her to do it! 

So now I'll get on with the clearing up.  The toys will stay stacked in the living room until I have the energy to sort them out. But I'm looking forward to ripping down the decorations and giving the place a good dusting!  Roll on the 12th night!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Goodwill and peace to all men.

Christmas is almost upon us and it's usually around this time I begin to remember those who are no longer in my life.  The special ones who are no longer with us, and the ones that made a quick departure.

2010 began pretty badly and marked the start of my blog, mainly I guess, as a way to take my mind off the things that were truly haunting me. I've been through some very sad  times in the past but had always believed that I was "blessed" or lucky. I had a loving and generous family, I had health, and I had my wonderful life but this was...bammmm and I was at the centre of it all. They say bad luck comes in threes and you've guessed it... so did mine

1. I fell out with my nephew
2. I almost lost my job
3. I lost a very close friend

They came almost suddenly, one upon the other. Although almost losing my job came close to causing me to lose my sanity,  falling out with my nephew was and is the one thing I regret and the one thing I mourn. I have absolutely no idea how it happened, but it seems to late and too sad to rehash the same old stuff. Things have been said and implied that has caused hurt to last a lifetime.  My friend?  Well, she couldn't have been a friend could she? BH says that at that time I was crumbling and that I was no longer useful to her.  I'm not convinced, but I still have no idea what happened there either! 

I was 13 when my nephew was born.  He was my baby and I loved him the moment I saw him. My older brother was young too and too young when he died. My nephew adored his father and their special relationship especially when my bro and his wife split up. His father died and it was a devastating blow for us all, especially for my nephew.  My nephew grew into a lovely young man, had a beautiful family and I thought that we'd be there to share it all with him.  We didn't fall out spectacularly.  It was a gradual sense of unease; the interference from other parties and misunderstandings.  I'm too tired to work out what went wrong.  I wasn't always right, and I should have let things go...but I didn't and I miss him. I have no idea where the anger came from.  On both sides.  I have no idea why a relationship which spanned 30 years became obsolete.  Maybe it was all the small things.  Maybe it was too hard for him to deal with. Life is more peaceful now.  No gossip. No bad thoughts.  No anger.  My brother would have been so sad to see that all he had built for this son has disappeared into the ether.  He would have been sad to see us all at odds....but that's the way it is. That's the way it will remain....until one of breaks the deadlock, but I fear it will be another tragedy that will bring us all together.  I've always been the peacemaker.  I've always tried to smooth the troubled waters, but the oil poured onto this won't dissipate.  So I've tried to let it settle and maybe it'll now sink to the bottom.

If anything, it's made Christmas cheaper!! I suppose that's one good thing that's come out of it all! No more traipsing around the shops for something that they wouldn't like, already had, or sold on eBay!!  See...I'm not bitter!

It's taken me almost 2 years get where I am now. The odd thing was that although I didn't see it at the time, when clarity came and I felt more peaceful and settled than I've been for a long time.  I see things as they are and I see I can't change what will be.  No anger, no bitterness...just acceptance of a situation I can't change.

.....but I still miss him. 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas is coming and I haven't done a thing!

Christmas is fast approaching and I haven't done a thing!!  It always creeps up on me like this and I have a feeling that I'll be running around on the 24th buying all sorts of expensive crap, because I've been too lazy to put my thinking cap on!!

I've just spent the past two hours on line (which reminds me...must check whether warhammer do online purchases otherwise it's a two hour queue to get into the car park!) trying to glean some kind of idea of what to get who.  It would be far easier if we we didn't have to waste all of our hard earned cash on a single day.  It takes up the whole month...for what?  For a day of overindulgence on all levels.  BB's girlfriend (lovely though she is) has just come up with a plan to make something for each other...which is a lovely idea...but I just don't have the effing time!!!  I've got mince pies to make; I've got the tree to decorate (I can't let anyone else do it as I'm a control freak!); I've got the painting to do, before the ogre from abroad descends (read Ma in law!), and I've got to clean out the cupboards because guilt is making me!!

I've just had a look at Mimi's list to Santa...reads a bit shocking actually.  You'd think that my poor baby was lacking...something!

Here's her list:
Dear Santa
Give me:
Jaffa cakes
chrismas movei

Hmmm...I know she wrote it quickly, and without the help of the Argos catalogue...but clearly I think she may need a tutor for Christmas...well, that's what she's getting anyway!!  I keep wondering why she needs a wardrobe? Does she intend to come shopping with me? I've bought her the Christmas movie.  I've discovered the thontitepence is actually a fountain pen!  She covets my beautiful Mont Blanc, and I often find it in her writing box or down the side of the sofa...leaking into the cushions!!  I know to ask her if she's got it, as her fingers are covered in blue ink and despite her protests that she hasn't seen it I know she's fibbing!  She still can't understand how I know....I just tell her "Mummy knows everything!"  I wonder how long that's going to last.

Finn is the easiest as all he wants is Lego...Bart is getting harder.  His tastes have become more sophisticated...and expensive!!   Warhammer is the way to go for him, but a little figure sets us back £8 or more....for one tiny figure smaller than a lipstick!! Think I may have to take a peruse at ebay!!   He wants more rugby gear, which is easy, but I feel a bit mean

I have no idea what to buy for BH.  I've just come back from China and have had the opportunity to buy a few bits and bobs, and although I feel guilty for buying their wares it really is less of a drain on the pocket. And I bought myself a bag or two...and some purses...and some t-shirts...all for me!  I could see in BH's eyes that he thought I was pretty selfish...but I don't care...well I do a bit.

So what do you get the man who has everything (and if he wants more he just buys it himself)?  I have no idea....although he has dropped a gentle hint that he needs a new pair of ski boots and a helmet. Do you think I could get away with just giving him the money?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Time to get my arse into gear!

A loss is always sad, and I think I've taken a bashing this time. When something hits you hard, nothing else is important. In this case my little bit of me (here, of course), has suffered neglect. I didn't feel like making fact I wondered whether I ever did.  How did I become so serious?  But I'm back...I've seen the light!

My month away was productive though.  I haven't just been sitting around twiddling my fingers! We've been very busy. We've been clearing up the garden and painting the house.  Not only has it taken us months, but it's made me realise that all this cleaning and painting is such a waste of time.  I really must get myself together and make Miriam do something for her keep.  Peewee has had his doodahs cut off which has now made me wonder whether I should have done so as he would have had beautiful babies.

Pee Wee in his buster collar...seriously comfortable!

For the first time this year, I decided that I should visit the shops and revamp my wardrobe.  It's not something that I was looking forward to as I seem to have expanded a bit, but the old gear was becoming seriously stretched. I could no longer squeeze into those jeans that I insisted fitted me. They dug into my waist and after 2 hours were so painful I had to take them off again!   The bottom was so low slung that you can now see my pants!!  Might have been attractive on a 20 something, but this big bird ain't even 30!!  It sure isn't a pretty sight.

I was due out in the evening to meet some old friends and didn't want them to be too upset at the sight of my seriously large bosom!!  Finding a dress designed to cover the fat bits, with sleeves to slim down the flabby bingo wings and a high necked top (but not too high so that it accentuates the double chin (s)!!) was the plan.  Clearly I have body dismorphia and I think I'm two sizes smaller than I am.  I hold up jeans in front of me and think they'll be too big...when I get them to the dressing room, I can't even get them over my knees!!

After trying on a thousand items and discarding them, I trudged home and picked out a LBD that was a million years old and a silver coat (sounds disgusting, but I assure you it was the dogs!), with 3/4 sleeves which had been worn to a wedding the previous year!  With a bit of make-up and a hairbrush, I was ready...and I didn't look too bad.....or so I thought! 

The next day (after the event), pictures popped up on facebook!  Pictures which would never have seen the light of day if I had my way.  Pictures so horrendous that they would have BH running for cover if he ever finds my password and see's them.  I'm ashamed of myself.  I'm ashamed of how I thought that pulling faces would detract from the blubber that has now become me. It appears that I'm a laughing stock according to the comments made on the posts...and I can't do anything but laugh with them without seeming a killjoy! My face looks like it's been punched several times as I'm so puffy and the eyes I thought I had have disappeared from view.  It's not a problem though...I can still see through the slits!!

So, I've jumped on the Wii...done a bit of skiing and jogging, walked the dogs and eaten lettuce leaves...and I've lost zilch!!  The only thing to do now is have a chat with BB and get a serious talking to. 

What I can't understand though....why didn't anyone tell me????

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A tribute to someone I don't know

Last night I heard that someone had passed away.

It was someone I didn't know, but it was someone I knew well. I'd meet up with her most nights. We'd shoot the breeze, she'd make me laugh. We thought we had all the time in the world. She'd fight with me to get the first round in. We'd never had that first round. I promised I'd buy us lunch. We thought it would be inevitable that we'd meet.  I'd laughed and said that she would probably hate me on sight. She said she probably would.

We'd argue and spar, but we'd always leave each other on a witty note. I never took offence. She never took offence. We found the ridiculous funny, and we'd find compassion in tragedy. Her insults were a joy. My insults couldn't match hers. Her kindness and sensitivity when help was needed. She knew when to draw the line in the sand. She was unafraid and brave. She was a friend because she understood, never judged and was always there.

She reached out when I was at my lowest ebb and I couldn't reach out to her when she was at hers. Because I didn't know.  Words, just words on a page or a screen, brought me to a friend I'd never meet. We knew each other well, yet I'd never seen her face. I will never see her face.

So sad....

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

My Crazy Au-pairs.

Miriam, is slovenly and messy.  Her room is a pigsty, and she leaves a trail of cups and plates around the house.  No matter how many times I ask her to put them in the dishwasher she seems to think that they all disappear because the fairies spirit them away...well...I'm that fairy! I put up with it as I like her.  I've had au pairs since the boys were about 5.  I thought that would be a good age as they could tell me if the au pair was mean to them, locked them in cupboards or burnt them with fag ends.

In the early days we had one called Ildi.  Ildi was older than the average au-pair (she was 28), and I found her on the the net.  She looked presentable and spoke very good English...and she had eyes that reminded me of my ma's dog.  Probably not a good reason to pick an au pair, but Oliver (the dog) was kind and sweet  so I thought perhaps she would be too. She worked for a family nearby and was leaving for "reason unknown".  I'd never thought to question the mother as I thought that perhaps they didn't get on.  That sometimes happens. I hadn't had an issue with them not liking their previous family.  So I offered her the job. I explained what I wanted from her, and told her although she'd be in control for a couple of days, there would be long periods of time when I wouldn't need her, only perhaps for the odd night baby sitting and walking the dog.

So Ildi moved in .  For about a week she got to know us and seemed to like the kids. On the day I was due back at work, Ildi came sobbing into the kitchen. She was inconsolable, and couldn't speak for the snot and tears running down her face.

"I need tranquillisers!" she exclaimed. " me!"

Earlier that morning she seemed fine. She'd breezed into the kitchen, prepared her breakfast and stepped outside to smoke a cigarette or two.....and now she was in pieces.
"Ildi, what's happened?"

"I keep having a recurring nightmare. It's awful. I need tranquillisers. Please. Help. Me."

"We have Calpol..will that help?".  She laid her head on the table sobbing and weeping. "Do you think you might be over it in an hour?" I asked.

I was freaking out. I was due to leave the house in an hour and was to be away for a few days. What the fcuk was I going to do? I employed her to be at home for when the kids came home from school just for a couple of hours until BH got home, but now it looked liked it was going to all fall apart. At that point I felt concern.  Concern I was about to leave my kids with an unstable, crazy woman....and I couldn't do it.

"Look"  I said. "Don't worry. Don't worry about the kids. I'll get someone to collect them and look after them until BH gets home. You relax. Go and see a Doctor. Get yourself sorted. We'll chat properly when I get home from my trip."

A quick call to sis, ensured my kids safety for a few days. And Ildi was free to recover, my expense.

On my return it seemed that all was normal. Ildi was cheerful, and assured me that she was fine. There was nothing I needed to know and she assured me that she was perfectly able to care for the kids. When BH returned from work he told me that when he returned that first evening with the kids, Ildi was getting ready to go out. She'd cracked open a bottle of (our) wine (I didn't say she couldn't but neither did I say she could!), and was entertaining a couple of girls in our kitchen (I didn't say she couldn't!) so BH and the kids took themselves off to Pizza Hut for supper. The next evening, when BH came home with the kids, Ildi was getting ready to go out...again.

I sat her down and explained that as I assumed she was unwell, she needed time to recover for her horror (what ever it was) and that by me rearranging the childcare meant that she was given that time to sort herself out. She rightly told me that as I had re-arranged the child care, she was free of duty to do as she pleased. got much worse! Me and my cowardice took another 5 months before we parted ways with her, and I swear it was probably the most challenging time of my life.

It seems like I'm still learning. No matter how many times I lay out the rules and boundaries, with each one I seem to have a further 20 rules to add to the list.

How have you dealt with au pairs? Have they become a big part of your life and could you do without them? Do you put up with their behaviour because you can't face the alternative....and what is the alternative?

I wasn't due back at work for a few days so I thought it would give her

Friday, 14 October 2011

Murder in the garden.

I'd never had Chubba down as a killer..he's too soft and floppy for one, but this morning the Finn and Bart came running in from the garden screaming.

"Muummmmm"  Well, that's the usual cry, but this was wasn't the cry of "Mum, I've hurt myself" or "Mum, he's being nasty to me" or "I'm telling Mum" or "Mum, I'm just crying for the sake of it", this was a blood curdling scream of "Mum...I've seen something really bad and I don't want this stuck in my memory forever and tonight I'm going to have nightmares" type of scream.  The one where you know that whilst you want to run away yourself, as you're Mum, you have to deal with it.... head on.

"What?" What?" What?" I shouted - I tend to shout when I'm freaking.

They weren't actually saying anything as the rushed into the kitchen but grabbing at my clothes, and burying their heads in my legs. Miriam was sitting at the kitchen table engrossed in her iPhone (how the feck does she afford it on the wages I pay her..I haven't even got one!) and hadn't even twitched. Peewee was running circles around us all, slipping and sliding as fast as his fat body would carry him.

"Muuuummm...he's killing it, he's killing it!!" the boys wailed.

"Oh shit" I thought as I glanced through the kitchen window. I could see Chubba peering at something under a bush and Mimi  prodding at something under the bush with a stick.

"What are you doing?" I called from the kitchen.  I don't like dead bodies at the best of times and the thought of having to have  funeral for something larger than a fly sends shivers down my spine.  I mean, it's going to be me that has to pick it up, isn't it?

"Chubba killed a mouse" came the reply. "He wasn't trying to eat it...he just wanted it to play...but we can't find it now".

Chubba with a victim

"Leave it alone!" I screamed in the  hope that the mouse would slope away and that they'd forget about it so that I didn't have to make a decision.

I really didn't fancy giving it some mouth to mouth if it was alive, but then again the thought of putting it out of it's misery put me in a bit of a quandary. Could you murder a mouse?  I gag at the thought of stepping on a snail. I capture spiders and put them outside. Even though the slugs eat my cabbages, and make me rage, I can't be the one to do anything about them; and I really didn't fancy scraping up the remains of what ever it was under the bush either...I'm far too squeamish!

The boys were standing in the kitchen doorway.  Too afraid to venture any further than the door jamb.

"It's OK.  I have it!" shouted Mimi.  And holding the stick aloft she carefully walked down to meet us.  Finn ran screaming into the lounge and hid under the cushions; Bart loitered behind me, trying to look uninterested while trying to brush aside his earlier hysteria.

"Is it alive? " I shouted

As she and the stick drew nearer, I could see the body of a mouse resting on the stick. With each step she took, I could see the remains of a very dead mouse...a mouse that had been dead a very long time.

"I think so mummy.  It just winked at me!"

Thursday, 6 October 2011

And I thought I was "Just perfect"!!!

Just an observation really.  Since starting this blog, I've come to learn a lot about myself and my family. I'm often reflective and observing, but I've actually started to notice my bad points of which I thought there were none, pre blogging.

I've always asked BH what he didn't like about me and he could come up with nothing...well nothing that is of value.  Where as I'd thought I was always perfect (oh yes I am!), I'm clearly lacking in some a lot of areas.  I'm now beginning to realise that he is less than truthful if only for an easy life...and as I've blundered through life I really should thank him. BH always points out my good points (you have lovely ears, you are a nice person, you are kind), and while that's lovely of him, it's not been terrifically helpful.  Recently, the kids have been telling me things about myself.  Kids are honest, kids are truthful, kids are cruel kids are mean....husbands are not! I suppose that's why I married him.  I know he wears rose coloured specs, although most of the time he's not even listening.

"Does my bum look big in this?" I'll ask.
"Definitely the black one." he'll reply, not having torn his gaze from the rugby. See? But then again I should thank my lucky stars he hasn't mentioned the weight gain, the bad hair year or the pretty dreadful nails (from gardening! I cry.)

"Mum, why are you so rubbish at making salad?"

"Muuummmm,  stop're hurting my ears!"

"Mum, you look a bit like a sausage in a belt!"

"Mum, why do you never brush your hair?"

So while I tell it like it is, so do my kids.  But....they would never do it to anyone else. They realise that hurtful comments will lose them friends (read here for my lack of sensitivity)

They know that their mother would never appear on X-Factor despite threatening to do so (although they're not too sure).  They know that their mother's baking skills will never improve, unless they replace said mother.  They know that I will always look like a sausage in a belt, and they know that I will always the object of their fun and derision. 

This morning, while the kids were getting their stuff together, Bart mentioned that he was running short of underpants.

"Mum, you do know that's your duty, don't you? You're not very good at keeping up with stuff are you?"

Hmmm, I know I'm not perfect but where did this sexist rubbish come from...and how old do they have to be before I can chuck them out of the nest?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Moving forward

After a tense couple of weeks (which I'll be honest-had me weeping buckets), we've come to an impasse with the Finn saga.  That's not to say it's an uncomfortable deadlock, and I have hopes that the bullying will come to a complete end and it won't affect Finn or his future in the way it has.  I think and hope it was something that happened last year, but now I'm aware, I can build my son up to be able to tackle it head on and give him back the confidence he's lost.

Funnily enough, no one appears to have seen or heard any thing that may have contributed to the incidents, but I guess that's the way with insidious bullying...and because Finn put on a brave face and didn't complain no one really noticed. His new teacher is understanding (and she is fresh out of uni!) and is "up" on the ways to tackle incidents; pinpointing and recognising issues and dealing with issues without laying blame. I'm hoping subtlety will work so in the meantime BB (fantabulous rugby fiend and all round super athlete) is collecting him from school with a rugby ball tucked under his arm. They spend 15 minutes chucking the odd shaped ball around they playing field.  In the past couple of days a few more boys have joined in with this new regime (possibly because of the world cup) and Finn has shown a talent for making conversions. Apparently his kicks are high and straight. Move over Jonny!!  BB has said that Finn is better at it than he thinks he is; he may be small, but he's fast and a little bit furious.

It's still early days, and I'm hoping that it will become easier. Finn has a diary in which he writes down everything that was said or done.  I don't allow him to dwell on it. I found some terrific advice from Kidpower and it has helped give him some confidence. One thing I noticed was that Finn is unaware of what is going on around him.  He walks in his own world. I'm not sure whether this is as a result from the bullying and self preservation or whether he really does walk to his own beat. His teacher is helping and has called out the culprit a few times not specifically when he's targeting Finn. Finn knows that one day, he'll be bigger than the bully (BH is bigger than his dad so he's got to be!) and that one day they'll be shaking hands over a beer..but they've got a few years to go before this will happen.

I'm glad Finn didn't want me to smash their faces in.....I wouldn't have done, but it's made me realise that sometimes life isn't fair or just and something needs to be done about it. Fighting back with a degree of compassion and understanding is better than using your fists. My boy may not understand it all just yet, but when he does he will become a better man.

Monday, 12 September 2011

What about Bullying?

Now they're all back at school I was hoping life would be peaceful and uncomplicated. Each evening, when the kids come home from school we go through the usual.

"What did you have for lunch?"
"Something black"

"What did you do in class?"
"Something about war/drawing/got sent out."

"What do you have for homework?"

However, today it was a little bit different. I have no idea how we got onto the conversation but I think I asked Finn who he played with at break time.
"No one",  he said "I just read my comic"  He wasn't moaning just stating a fact.
"...then Tom, Robert and David came over and pulled the comic out of my hands and ripped it up."

"Ooookaaay", I said carefully, "What did you do?"

My son sat there and let some other boys take his comic and rip it up and did nothing.

"Why didn't you tell a teacher? Why would they do that and why didn't you do anything about it?" I was beginning to get a bit panicky.  I could hear the tone of my voice rising. I was holding down a rising bile in my chest...and I was afraid.

"Because no one will do anything and they say I'm weird!"

Then it all came spilling out.  For the past year my son has suffered constant torment.  Not from one boy but from 11. And I had no idea.

I sat down, with a piece of paper and wrote down everything he told me.

The torment does not come in forms of beatings but from sly nudges with bags, from shoulder bashes, from laughing and sniggering when he stands up to read or recite. They put out their feet when he passes by so that he'll trip. They pull out his chair when he's about to sit down.  He's been kicked down the stairs and suffered a bloody mouth.  He's been pushed off his bike.  He no longer plays football with the boys during games and plays rounders with the girls, because the girls leave him alone.

He's been told he's not cool.
He's been told he's thick.
He's been told he's strange because he loves skateboarding.
He's been told his weird because he loves to draw intricate, detailed sketches.
He's been told everyone hates him.

Why?  I have no idea. I think because Finn is "so nice" everyone thinks they can do what they want to him...and get away with it. And clearly they have. Finn won't complain to his teacher because  he says "she won't listen".

I've noticed that he wasn't invited to some parties but I wasn't duly concerned...not everyone gets invited.  During the summer he hadn't invited any one over and although I noticed that he spent time alone, I was unconcerned as I believed he was a loner. A bit like me.  Happy in his own company..but he isn't.  I now wonder whether the headaches that he has suffered from are as a result of the pressure that he has been under.  He tells me that some of the boys come up to him after he's suffered at their hands and tell him "Don't take it's just the way it is!" and individually, he tells me they are really quite nice...but in a group he is their target. He hadn't told me as he had accepted it as part of his life....and I feel disgusted with myself for not realising.

How do you tell your child he's the coolest boy on the planet and that he will go on to do great things because of his innovative thinking and ideas. That he is kind and thoughtful. How do you tell your child that some boys are shits and they'll maybe grow into shitty adults. How do you tell your son that there are nasty creeps out there, that pick on others because they are so inadequate themselves. Or do I tell him to get a grip or punch their lights out, when you know they'll stamp all over him? Do you tell him to grow a pair, or do you grow a pair for him and sort it out?

As he lay on his bed not weeping, nor feeling sorry for himself, I asked him

"Do you want me to punch their lights out?"

He laughed and said

"No Mummy, you'll probably get into trouble"

I can't do anything about it, because he won't let me. I want to take each of these boys and tell them they're wrong, but they're just kids. They don't really understand the concept of insidious bullying. They don't understand how it can make life a misery as they're only children. All I can do is prepare him. To make him strong. To know that being nice isn't a crime, or even wrong. To bite back when they hurt him, either with words or with his fists. I need to make him angry enough to stop it.

I can't change what others think about him and I can't make him popular but I need to make him know that he isn't "rubbish...because he isn't!! 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

I am the Queen of Inappropriate Comments

.....and I wish I could keep my gob shut!

My nephew (BB) is currently staying with us, while sis has moved (albeit temporarily) to foreign climes. I have been charged with his development and keeping a check (as mummies do) on his eating habits. BB is 22, and an absolute delight. He has become a role model for our 2 young thugs and a big brother to Mimi.  He is sensitive, polite, respectful, funny and kind and has become my favourite house guest...ever! If my two turn out anything remotely like him I will be absolutely delighted. It is hugely unlikely though, as their mother is continues to tread the boards between inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour most times, while BB's mother appears to have done it all correct as laid down in the "Mummies Handbook" which appears I have never read...or even heard of.

I have come to this sudden realisation while sitting down with BB one evening. I am the master of quick quips and he often asks for my response for a witty comeback when replying to the many texts he receives. He received a message from a potential employer into which he had been copied. He wanted to send a witty response...and with me assisting, we did!  Wrong move!  As soon as the message was sent BB realised it wasn't a good idea, and the silence and clenched jaw sent me running to my room with my head under my pillow, damning and berating myself for my damn,big mouth. He didn't lose his job before he had started it, but possibly could have.To have this effect on someone I care about has made me understand the damage I can wreck in a few well (or badly) chosen words.

I must realise by now that I AM NOT FUNNY but potentially very dangerous. But I keep doing it. I'm very good in polite company, but when I'm "with my own" I let loose and tell it like it is...when you can see my expression, when you know me well you'd realise it's meant in humour...but when written in sounds positively evil!

Now you'd think I'd learn from my own personal experiences (very nearly lost my own job) and close shaves..but oh no...I carry on thinking I have complete autonomy when it comes to "saying what I think"...I should stop and listen to my inner voice which tells me "No...don't do it...remember last time?" but I don't. I just carry on regardless.

Ma told me of an incident with an ex sister in law, who I wasn't too fond of. She was in hospital and was recovering from an operation. My response was
 "Oh she didn't die then?"...see..not funny!

Another occasion involved a baby...a beautiful bouncing, chubby baby.  A baby that had caused no harm (yet) to anyone. As it sat gurgling on it's mothers knee, I noted it resemblance to another baby I knew.  I wasn't derogatory about the baby I knew but I couldn't remember it's name. "Ohh look," I said to Ma, "that baby looks like that blah, blahs baby".  The comments reached the ears of the person I was referring to and I have been banned from contacting said baby as it was believed I had said "Look at that fat baby...looks like blah blah's mother"  I didn't say that, but hearsay has a way of changing to suit a particular purpose.

I once commented on a particular persons blog with what I thought was a witty ditty in response to a post.  The said person sent me a private email, asking why I thought it was necessary to comment in such a manner! I attempted to placate said person, admitting to inappropriate comments at all times, it was made in jest and I promised to take it seriously in the future and was sorry for offending them, blah, blah, blah. I wasn't really, but I said it anyway. Said person has now deleted me as a friend from twitter, along with several of her other friends and now my dwindling "friend list" means I'm losing friends and making enemies.

During a social event at the school I mistook the wine for Ribena and drank copious amounts to quell the nervousness. It was the "Race Night" and our table against all odds...won!  I don't normally drink  but this occasion was new and I felt a little bit out of my depth as most of the parents were  musicians, fabulous actors dahling (sic), or amazingly accomplished CEO's  Our table tried to out do the "fabulist" group by being loud and raucous! No excuse for my behaviour though.

On winning, I was sent up to receive the prize. As the headmaster handed over the Vouchers for a Spa day, I asked if it were possible to "take the massages en mass?". The headmaster raised his eyebrow and replied, "As you wish!" whilst twirling his moustache .  Every now and then the headmaster gives me a wink and I run for cover, quivering in fear. My  appearance on stage has now ensured that any appearances are fleeting and I wonder if I have damaged any chances I may have had in trying to get on the parents committee, along with damaging the prospects of my children. Thankfully BH laughs at my episodes.  They amuse him.  He tells me I'm a "good" person and that's why he adores me!

What have you ever said that has landed in you in big doo doos? Have you inadvertently offended someone with your more than frank comments...or am I all alone here?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

How to prepare them for university....

My friend Marion has three boys.  Marion is organised, practical and runs her own business so she needs to be. Nick, her eldest son is 18, and off to uni this year.  She won't allow him to take a "gap year" this year, knowing that his fees will treble if he went gallivanting. It only seems like yesterday when he was in his short trousers holding the hand of his younger brother on his first day at school and telling him not to cry because he would be there for him.

The thing I admire about Marion is her ability to look to the future and be prepared, although she wasn't as foresighted when it came to her husbands infidelity. The thing with Marion is that she is tenacious. She sticks with it....and she stuck with him.  I have to admire her.  I personally, would have kicked him into touch...or kicked him out.  When I asked her why she allowed him to treat her so appallingly she replied "But I love him!"...I really can't argue with that, now can I?  Love it seems can conquer all, and I'm glad.  I'm glad that she doesn't see marriage as a throwaway; I'm glad that she has had the courage to "stand" by her man despite the horrible blip that he made her endure.  Having spoken to her man, I can only conclude that he truly is sorry for the mess that he created, their subsequent financial ruin, and the role model he has provided for his boys. But he finished our conversation with "you know how Marion is.."

Marion is a stalwart, and although I can only assume she weeps behind closed doors she is ever the "loyal and reliable" wife and mother.  It's behind her now. "Onwards and upwards" she cheers.

So this brings me onto her new idea.  Marion is full of great ideas and actually gets to put them into practice.  Because Marion is a doer, her boys have never really had free reign in the kitchen.  She is Mother earth. Their clothes are neatly placed in their wardrobe after being painstakingly ironed.  Their lunches are prepared with on eye on their nutritional content and lovingly packed into their airtight containers.  Their suppers are freshly cooked (no microwave meals for them), with organically grown veg straight from their own garden.  BH wonders at her abilities and holds her up as a paragon. I know he secretly wishes for a "Marion", and when he mentions a particular dinner party of hers he "wonders" how she does it all and runs a successful business to which I counter

" know how Marion is!"

With Nick off to Uni, she fears for his life.  Forget about the liquid diet, the aftermath of a debauched night out, no doubt with kebabs or an artery killing curry.  She's worried that he won't eat properly...and she's damned right.  It's highly unlikely that he'll worry enough about whether he will have enough money for food, and worry more that he'll have enough for his booze.  But anyway, she is equipping him to be a veritable whizz in the kitchen.

Marion is spending the next 6 weeks preparing him and a group of his friends to whip up gourmet meals on a shoe string. One evening each week, Nick and 5 of his friends (who are all off to uni too) trot off to the supermarket armed with a  shopping list and a fiver which will enable them to cook the "meal of the week" for four. Nick says that this could last him four days leaving him three days in which he will be able to eat utter crap. She says that if they can master only one signature dish, then her work will be done. 

She is also teaching them to look for the bargains, learn about money management and to shop around, so she takes them to a different supermarket each week.  The boys have learnt that the more they save, the more they have left ...enough to pool for a bottle of wine to enjoy with their feast!!! She says it's like a mad supermarket sweep; these hulking young men with their floppy hair, rushing around with their baskets, asking each other for advice, grabbing and fighting over the "sale" items and all done in no more than 10 minutes. 

So far I think it's been a success. The boys have made lasagna and shepherds pie, all with a healthy salad and a pudding with none of it from a packet! She's also preparing each of them a little parcel to take with them when they all shoot off to "freshers".  Each parcel will contain salt, pepper, spices, garlic...along with some of the more obscure spices...and a packet of Berrocca! 

I hope that Marion continues with her project. It's something that all children/young adults need to know about when starting off on their own.  Too many resort to the pre-packaged disasters that line our supermarket chillers. I can see Bart and Finn with their plates full of sweets and icecream and shopping for packet mix cakes. Mimi will no doubt be making cornflake crispies. I pray that Marion will still be around to offer them the chance to "cook", and I pray that she will still be my friend.

Maybe this should be something that schools offer all school leavers?  Giving them the ability to fend for themselves if only with a couple basic meals. It's pracitcal and obvious. I think Marion could be onto a winner here!  How did you prepare your child for their next adventure?  Would this be something you'd encourage your child to do? Or is your child a whizz in the kitchen already?

I think I'd teach them to use the washing machine!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Why have they changed the school uniform?

Like many, it's time for the kids to go back to school.  Like many, for some very obscure reason, the uniform has changed.  The kids, it seems are happy...they just like buying new things...but FFS I have three of the little darlings!  And I have to start all over again.  No more "hand-me-downs". I can't off load the stuff to friends; I can't give it to the school for re-cycling and it's all still in such good nick! The socks alone cost me £9 a pair (yes, it's a little excessive but they are at a private school and I get a BOGOF!). Finn will be leaving next year to go to "Big School" too, so his hand me downs won't go onto Mimi (and I really can't see her in his shorts!) so it looks like they're going to be relegated to the bin! Bart is starting at "Big School" so he now has a completely new wardrobe.

Jude (school gate mum), tells me that the smart new image is to encourage potential parents to send their offspring to the school.  To instill pride and glory. Apparently, the uniform hasn't changed much since the bygone era, where the girls wore boaters and the boys, caps.  They still wore their shorts until they were men (12 actually), then wore long trousers into their final year. Now, all boys will wear long trousers so I will now have to get out the darning kit as I can see the potential for damage!

The school itself basis it's values on the "old fashioned" approach due to it's long history.  It used to be a boarding school and if you go to the top of "Boarders Hall" where the main administration office is kept one you can see the old dormitories which are now stacked full of old music stands, tiny desks and chairs complete with inkwells, and dusty books. The headmasters office is grand and opulent, redolent of the days gone by. I believe he still has the original, highly polished desk which he sits behind twiddling with his moustache. I can tell he gets nervous around me as the twiddling gets faster and more manic...what can I say? I don't mean to make him feel ill at ease, and I worry what the staff say and does he think I'm going to pounce on him...not bleedin' likely!! 

Over the past few years I've collected an abundance of uniform items, from ties, to shorts and shirts all outgrown (not the ties of course...who outgrows a tie?) and they are all neatly stacked in the chest at the top of the case of an emergency.  As I work away a lot of the time, each of them need a replacement uniform, gym and sports kit and all manner of accompaniments. Miriam (au-pair), doesn't "do" washing...I've banned her as the boys shirts turned a lovely shade of grey. Bart refuses to wear pink underpants, although Mimi would be happy to wear them, but they keep slipping off.

But why have they chosen this year to change the uniform from maroon to green?  I really don't get it!  Particularly in this economic down turn.  The school is only a tiny one and they can ill afford any loss of children.  Many have left, this year to start at the local state schools so instead of 15 to a class there will be on average 10. Great for us, but not so good for the school coffers and not so good for the competitive environment that children need.

Yesterday, I popped along to the local uniform suppliers, and just like me, Mums and Dads were desperately trying to kit their children out with their new uniforms.  Seeing the queue getting into their car park, made me realise it was a wrong move and perhaps I should have started earlier in the summer (what summer?). So I turned the car around and drove the the bowling alley, where we had a lovely time and saved myself an absolute fortune, although I guess I will be spending it all on Monday.

So, have your school changed their uniform?  And just how expensive is it?  I haven't told BH how much it's going to cost's not coming out of my pocket, I have special things to buy...for me!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Rewind Festival, 80's Music and camping

I've just achieved a couple of firsts...both of which I'd thought I'd probably never do, one of which I haven't done since I was a girl guide and attempted to lash together bits of wood to fashion a wash bowl holder and a rack to hold our sleeping bags and ruck sacks.  It was disastrous especially as my attempts always collapsed and I swore I would never go camping again...but things have changed!  We've just been camping! And we've just been to our first festival (Rewind)....and we had an excellently, fantabulous, brilliant time.

Camping (or glamping) has changed since I was a kid.  For years I've sneered at campers as... well....a bit odd!  Both BH and myself like our creature comforts and if I can't use my GHD's then I'm absolutely miserable. For the past couple of years, friends of ours ("Ohhhh, Dave" and "Pikey Donna") have tried to persuade us to go to Rewind Festival with them.  I've always found  excuses like "Oh, I'm so sorry but I'm washing my hair that weekend" or "So sorry, but the Au pair is sick" worked pretty well in the past, but I ran out of ideas.  I'm not a big music fan, so we didn't think we were missing out on too much. Now if you said to me...lets go to a literary festival I would probably bite off your hand (do they camp at them too?)...but no one has asked me so I haven't been yet.

BH decided that it would be a good idea if we at least tried it, then we could tick it off our bucket list.  So we left the kids with Ma and off we went.  BH had sussed out the tent we'd need, picked up an inflatable mattress,  packed a hat and gloves and even bought a lugaloo!! We'd said that we could always go home if we didn't like it...Now BH is not a all, but he took to it like a duck takes to water and I was fabulously useless husband was erecting tents and looked like he enjoyed it! 

We'd gotten there early as we'd been told that we'd be hard pressed to find a space past 4 o'clock, so  arriving 2 hours before they opened the gates (wtf??) we found ourselves in a queue  at least 2 miles from the site.

"But I don't do queues!" I whinged.  Pikey Donna, I could tell, was less than impressed.  "Tell you what," she said hoisting her rucksack onto her shoulder as the stream of "happy campers" edged closer to the gates "You, pop down to the front and wait for us to come round and get you.  You won't be in a queue then!"
"But I'll have no-one to talk to!"
"That's the point" she said "If you don't shut up moaning, I'll make sure I don't talk to you at all!"
She made her point, and I did, indeed keep my gob shut.

When the gates opened everyone rushed onto the field to find their space.  Campers were rushing about looking for the perfect space, whilst others were running to and from the car park with little trailers piled high.  Many were top heavy and toppled over into the mud or cow pats. Some brought their own wheel barrows (clearly experienced) and one even had a wheelie bin.  On closer inspection the bin was filled to the gunnel's with beer! The cars were parked about a million miles away over bumpy ground and it took several journeys to bring all of our gear.  As "Ohhh, Dave", had been there on two previous occasions he was well versed with the make the homestead as big as possible, place the tents in a circle, and cordon off the gaps with wind breaks...that way no one will stumble through your tents in the middle of the night, utterly trollied, looking for their own tent...and let me tell you there were quite a few lost trollied souls wandering the site that night!  At one point I thought it was raining until I realised that someone, somewhere was peeing up the side of someones tent!

BH trotted off to the taps each morning to fill our water containers. He helped cook breakfast on the two ring camper stove...and I sat back and watched it all happen. Lovely!! For someone who gets hives at the thought of a field and a tent, he really threw himself into the spirit of things.  The first night however, was dire! Nearly everyone was hammered and walked past our tent, singing, laughing, shouting or screaming and I nearly jumped in the car and drove home. At about 3 am it went deadly silent...I can only imagine that the baby boomers didn't have the stamina to go on much longer and had passed out... but I bet their hangovers were something to behold. I'll remember next time to either bring some ear plugs or just go home. "Ohhhh, Dave" told us that the next night would be quieter, as they'd burn themselves out!!

The Village People and a smuf!
 Everyone was in high spirits, and dressed up.  There were tons of "Village People", there were the crew from Star Wars complete with Chewbacca, there were Rubics cubes, Madonnan featured highly, there was a Michael Jackson, A few Batgirls, Wonderwomen, and loads of Super Heros.   Pikey Donna and I were going to go as "Flabba" (Abba), with our silver jumpsuits (so now!), and headbands, but I was too damp to even contemplate slipping into the spray on suit!

What surprised me was the "niceness" of everything....except of course the security man who stopped anyone who looked like they were carrying a gin and tonic, a felafel wrap or protein bar...the others carrying flagons of wine, crates of beer and veritable feasts, of course got through unhindered!

No food or alcohol was allowed into the arena, so we were forced into buying and eating expensive consumables, but I guess that was part of the experience!  The food, however was amazing! The food stalls were high quality and healthy. We ate at The Furnace (organic vegetarian), The Med Grill (flat breads and marinated meats) and The New York Burger Co.  I would really have loved to have tried it all, but there just wasn't enough time! The silent disco was great, as was the karaoke stage...and this all went on whilst the bands were playing and well into the night.

The Real Thing at Rewind Festival
The music was excellent and brought back a time when we were "just into the music"  The Real Thing, Fiction Factory, Holly Johnson, Billy Ocean, Haircut 100, Howard Johnson, China Crisis, Hue and Cry, Kim Wilde, Bucks Fizz, UB40...well... the list just goes on! Some engaged with the audience, some didn't, but they all contributed to two days of fun filled memories! Most of these guys had to be in their late 40's, early 50's but boy, did they throw themselves into it! They didn't allow their arthritis get in the way!

The loo's however, were disgusting.  There weren't enough for 40,000. I mean, most of the people attending the Festival, were over a certain age and were used to the finer things in life!  There weren't enough showers for the campers either!  Pikey Donna, said her son had texted her suggesting taking a bikini for showering...she said she had no intention of taking one..or a shower!

The festival had different areas for the campers.  There was a quieter Family area (for those taking kids), a Glamping area (for those with money!), A Camper van area, and a mooring area for those bringing their boats...this was Henley after all!!

I could go on forever and I know I've forgotten to mention everything, but all in all a great experience and one I will definitely do again....except with our own toilet and shower tent!

Disclaimer & Apology: Pikey Donna is not a pikey...she's a very lovely friend who should be called "lovely Donna"..but for the purposes of this post, I've called her a bad name and I sincerely apologise to any pikey's out there who are offended by my very rude assumtion that pikey's are not nice...they are...I love 'em all!

Friday, 12 August 2011

I wish I hadn't said yes when I really meant no!

I really do!  I get myself into all awkward situations and end up resenting the time I have to spend on others.  I really don't have that much time, except to waste away on Twitter, FB, online Scrabble, not to forget bejewelled blitz or farm ville....all such a waste of time.

I wish I could say no with a light heart, but then I start to feel guilty and end up saying yes.  Yesterday someone asked me to do something, and I had to think of loads of excuses and now worry that I've offended them.  What they wanted me to do is something I really shouldn't I didn't and now I'm paying the price with guilt and self flagellation. I tell the kids that they have the right to say no and that in no way should they be pressurised into doing something they feel uncomfortable about..unless, of course it's me doing the asking!

Most of the time, I do say yes... "Will you provide the tea for 30 visiting parents on Open day?" "Yes, of course.  It will be a pleasure!"....."Will you wash 30 rugby shirts for the sweaty teens?"...."Yes of course. It will be an honour!"  ....."Will you clean up the hall after a function despite the fact you've had too much to drink and it'll take 2 hours to do it!"..."Yes, of course. It will be a delight!" Yeah...I'm the one who's always there when I don't want to be!

Disaffected Youth 

Bart debates the whole ethics of "Just say No!"..he knows that should someone ask him to do something or take part in something which is either naughty, which would offend someone, would hurt them or another or is just plain illegal then he should say no...but he is inquisitive and will ask for reasons and examples.  He has seen the news reports of the riots and asked if we could have a "drive around" in case we spot any of them... for some reason he feels the need to experience and see first hand the damage his peers are wrecking on society. 

Finn, on the other hand sees "the end of the world"...break the law and you will be damned to hell for all eternity.  He's afraid to look a "hoodie" in the eye in case they beat him up and steal his Lego figures.  He's locked them in a a tin and put them under his pillow....just in case.  Finn worries that we all will be killed in our sleep, despite the fact I tell him that it's generally shops the rioters are targeted for their loot.  He worries that now they've overstepped the boundaries of acceptable behaviour they'll come and rob us and we won't be able to eat because they will have stolen the cooker!!

Mimi...well... she's the pragmatist.  She understands that there are naughty people but wonders why their mummies don't  give them pocket money...which brings me on to the next post quite neatly...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Live a little.....

Ma and Pa are funny folk.  Not funny weird, but funny, funny, if you know what I mean! They have spent their lives getting into situations no normal, sane or sensible person would even attempt.  They take risks, some of them sound and calculated, but some are just plain funny. Most people would quake with fear, suffer from PTS after the event and probably never leave the house at the thought of finding themselves in the same situations....but Ma and Pa laugh in the face of it all!

Ma and Pa live abroad some of the year.  They're retired now, so are trying to enjoy each others company...24 hours a day!  Seeing as though I could never live with them longer than a week (they so exhaust me!), I think they're doing pretty well.

Last night I had a call from Ma and she recounted this little story that made me laugh out loud and giggle every time I think of it, but it's so typical of them I have no idea why I'm surprised.

They'd gone into the next town for their weekly shop.  Once they're ensconced in their beach side home, they rarely leave the confines of their nirvana. But Saturday was upon them and they'd run out of supplies.  Ma has taken a fancy to the local red wine, and there is only one place that it can be purchased, so off they went to scout for more supplies.  As they were getting into their car to drive home they noticed on the other side of the road, a store which had many people milling about, going in and out, some were standing outside smoking, and cars were pulling was busy. 

Ma: "What's going on over there?"
Pa: "Could be a new opening or Could be a sale?  What sort of shop is it?"
Ma "I can't really see from here"
Pa: "Looks really busy though."
Ma: "Looks interesting"
Pa: "Could be an auction!"

As they drove off towards home Pa declared,

"Lets live a little!", did a U turn in the road and pulled up outside the store and parked the car.

Ma:  "You go in and have a look, and if it's interesting come and get me."

Pa jumped out of the car and ambled over.  Ma could see him pushing the door open and he disappeared inside.  20 minutes went by and Pa had still not reappeared. Ma was annoyed, as is usual when Pa wanders off  as it's generally for hours at a time.  The car was getting hot and Ma wondered whether she should go inside to find him, thinking that he'd found something of interest.... such a drill bit.

Suddenly Pa appeared in the doorway. He looked sombre and nodded at the locals standing around the door. He quickly walked over to the car, and without talking pulled away from the parking space.
Ma: "Well, what was so interesting that you've been gone so long?"
Pa: "In a minute, I need a drink!
As they were sitting in the cafe.  Pa recounted the past 20 minutes of his life.

Pa: "When I went in, all I could see was a line.  I'd assumed we were queuing to get a ticket or something. Everyone was local, but I thought they knew something I didn't, so just stayed in line. At the door to the shop floor, a couple were shaking hands with all of those in the line, so I thought this was how they conducted the opening of a store.  I shook hands with the couple, but had no idea what they were saying (Pa does not speak the language),  but I thought they said something like "Thank you for coming"  so I stayed in line.  There were chairs laid out, so I guessed it was an Auction. As I sat down I could see to the front.  Laid out in the middle of the room was a coffin!  I was at a Wake!!! I was too embarrassed to leave as I thought it would seem rude, and I'd have had to walk past the couple I'd just shaken hands with. So I just bowed my head until I thought a reasonable time had passed, then got up and left."

Ma and Pa are sorry if they've offended anyone in their pursuit of bargains, but I think it's put them off "Living a little!"

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Life changes.....

I may have an opportunity to start anew.  Well, in reality it's always been there but I've lacked the gumption to do anything about it. Not that I'm a coward, but it's been safe in my little world and stepping outside of it has often left me thinking "Naahh, it's easier to just stick with what I have".  But things could be changing and I feel a positive vibe in the air.  Changes are afoot, and when something rocks your world you look at things in a different way.  Nothing is forever, and the only certainty in life is taxes and death.

Looking at the kids, I know that they deserve more than I'm giving them now.  I've been away for most of their little lives, relying on the support of my (sometimes) fabulous aupairs, family and friends. I've missed birthdays, sports days, plays, parents evenings....and no-one blames me for it, except myself!

I burnt Mimi on the arm the other day, whilst we were baking cookies (out of a packet...shame on me!)...of course it wasn't deliberate but I wept for the pain I had caused. Mimi, was as cool as ever.

"But mummy, " she countered " you didn't do it on purpose. Can I have a Polly Pocket?"

Of course, I agreed, which then led to Bart asking for a new bike, and Finn asking for an increase in his pocket money. I told Finn that as he didn't get pocket money he may have been better off asking for something more attainable such as the Ipad 2...which I would have asked for!

Last week, Finn had to go to hospital for an MRI scan.  He'd been getting headaches for the past few months for no actual reason. 

We'd been through the whole rigmarole of "Is anything bothering you?" "Are you drinking enough" "Is anyone being mean to you?" "Do you find school work difficult?" and getting sis to check (just thought he might talk to someone else) to no avail.  No real reason, so it must be medical. Our fab Dr asked us to keep a record of the headaches and the only constant in it all, was that they were in the morning, and dissipated by lunchtime.
Miriam was certain that "Finn, no like school...just lazy, like husband!" Miriam is convinced that BH does nothing all day, has a fine old time "wining and dining", should empty the dishwasher and when he disappears into his office is obviously playing solitaire!

Dr decided to send Finn for an MRI (more, I'm sure to appease me...but hey better safe than sorry).  So, on the day off we went; Finn armed with my ipod and all his fav "choons"; me, armed with the constant feeling of doom in the pit of my stomach. The nurses were pretty and engaged Finn in a way I'd never seen before.  They were interested in him and he chatted easily.  Me?  I couldn't talk, let alone join in with their lively conversations.  After the scan, the nurse told me that they could see nothing untoward and they'd send the info on to my Dr. All painless and so easy.  My mind at rest, I went to find Finn who was busy flirting with the pretty nurses.
"Well Sweetie," I said seriously while Finn looked at me with his huge green eyes,
"they couldn't find your brain!"
His eyes darted around the room trying to assimilate the information. The nurses started to giggle. His face darkened angrily, then he kicked me in the shin!! Ouch!

I've been lucky, but it could have been so different. So, my last business trip which spanned 10 days "down under"  found me working out how I can be there...all of the time! I've had little dips into self employment throughout my life, but I know now is the time. I have a plan. It may not work out, but I think I'm heading in the right direction.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Striking Teachers.....why I support their action.

I'm a bit bored of the fluffy posts I normally write...not that anyone ever finds them riveting reads!

Tomorrow, thousands of teachers from the UK will withdraw their labour. The streets will be awash with mums and their kids. The parks will be packed to the gunnel's, and the whole of society will crumble for one day. It doesn't matter that the weather is blissful, or that life is sweet...someone, somewhere will moan. For many this will make uncomfortable reading and I don't apologise for my thoughts.

The NUT state:
  • Teachers will loose on average £250,000 over the length of their retirement
  • Teachers will be expected to work until they are 68
  • Teachers will be expected to contribute at least a further £100 each month to cover shortfalls

The impact of this on our childrens future is in the hands of the people we have elected into power.  Summer of discontent? I don't think so, I think it will be a decade of discontent.  Money is in short for many except the uber rich.

BUT education is a fundamental right whether you are rich or poor.
Every child deserves the right to be educated to a standard and that standard should and must be excellent. For our children to receive that education we should and must reward our teachers accordingly.  This is not only happening within the public sector, the private sector too are being hammered over pension rights. Surely, if you have paid into a scheme for years the "powers that be" have an obligation to continue and honour that contract?  It seems to me, that companies and businesses countrywide are using their lack of good judgement to distort the truths in the ineptitude of  their management teams!

I pay for my children's education, because I believe they have the right to a great education.  I pay for all three (buy 2 get the third free!), and it is worth every penny.  As Michael Jackson said "Children are our future" (sorry...corny, I know!) they always have been and always will be. We're lucky in that we can afford it, but there are thousands who can't and they should be assured that teachers are still going into the profession will not be hampered by a bleak financial future, because this is what will happen. Potential teachers will be discouraged from entering teaching and will chase the money into a more lucrative profession. 

Public sector workers are standing up for the right to a decent pension.  They are using their rights as a union member to protest about the way they are being treated....the only way they are able to draw attention to their plight and be taken seriously.

So why do the general public berate the unions?
Because it inconveniences them?
Because they are fundamentally against the rights of the "workers"?

For years now, the unions are being beaten in submission by the very people they are helping.  Collective bargaining is the only way many companies can negotiate change.  Yes, of course businesses are in the business of many money...but it should not be to the detriment of their workforce, yet many companies can only save money to pay their shareholders by ensuring that their workforce is exploited and disadvantaged. .  Take from the bottom to put at the top! Yet you rarely see changes to enhanced services that these company offer.   Personally, I think it is immoral.  Bill Morris (TGWU) was instrumental in negotiating the minimum wage.  Unions are the voice of people who can not talk for themselves, so why the need to beat them up?  Don't they need support? Many feel that it is the unions themselves that are corrupt, but there is a need for unions and without them, workers worldwide will see a dwindling responsibility from the very companies they work for.

Unions and the private sector is in melt down.  Government officials are crying out for reform.  Recently the RMT brought about a ballot for strike action.  The RMT are concerned about government intervention and the safety of the Rail stating

"These reviews could lead to a highly detrimental impact on Britain's railways including the break up and sale of Network Rail, longer franchises which have greater flexibility to cut services and a significant dilution of safety standards"
But not only that, workers are being were being disciplined and dismissed for actions brought about by the behaviours of the company that they work for.  Fortunately, London Underground, saw sense and reinstated one of their drivers...but only after the ET (employment Tribunal) found that he was unfairly dismissed.

Private company, British Airways recently brought about an end to the 2010 summer of discontent with cabin crew accepting a deal negotiated by their union. Cabin Crew went on strike for 22 days for imposed changes to their terms and conditions.  In the process over 18 staff were dismissed, with over 80 suspended. Forced changes to their pensions and closure of their pension ensures that they are working well beyond the age of 65. Do you really want to see a hostess at the age of 70 severing you a drink?

The press and media coverage in the run up to all of the strikes are very rarely balanced. Both RMT members and Unite members were subject to berating by the public. Yet these people are passionate about their jobs and have a right to voice their concerns and doubts, especially when their concerns are to do with their future. 

Strangely enough, I'm in the process of writing a book (fictional) about Union Busting and the effect on workers and workers rights. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out....okay rant over!!!

P.S. As I write, both the Government and unions are debating the success of the strike.  The Government believe that the strike has not affected many, with a different perspective from the passengers coming through UK borders.  At Heathrow, passengers were complaining of delays up to 2 hours and "chaos" at border control.

Monday, 27 June 2011

...and I actually wore a dress!

God, wasn't yesterday hot?  The most skin I was prepared to bare was an sliver of an ankle. I find the fashion of longskirts and maxi dresses very useful for disguising lumps and bumps, especially the empire lines which fall straight from the bust.  However, mine was topped off with a cardi to disguise the fat. 

Bart was surprised when he saw me.  The combats and the T-shirts replaced with a lovely flowing (black) boob tube dress....could I really go through the day without  my uniform and still get "down and dirty"?

"Mummy, you look nice" he said  "Are you wearing makeup? You normally look like a boy".

BH countered it with  "Woah, where are YOU going, hot lady! "

I must say, I felt nice.  It felt good to wear a dress and feel feminine for once. It wasn't restrictive and I could move quickly even if the flip flops kept flipping off in my haste to get somewhere fast. I was able mow the lawn, do the washing, and walk the dogs.  I could also lounge about, not worrying if my pants were showing, and I didn't have to keep tugging down the t-shirt which normally rides up and uncovers the the vast expanse of fat which had been grown to keep me warm in the winter.

At the end of the day, the dress was splattered in mud, stained from the splashes of food and looked similar to the rag I used to clean the car   I must say, I enjoyed my day in a dress, even if it doesn't happen that often, but I don't want to get carried away as I've only got the one!

Miriam Update
Miriam (au-pair) is still with us. She just won't go! She has just found herself a boyfriend and  has decided that living with us is not so bad after all. I wish I could say the same.   I was hoping for a new victim, but it seems we're stuck with the one we've got.....

Thursday, 23 June 2011

My baby girl...

Now Mimi is a beautiful child. She's the kind of child that people come up to in the street and exclaim "Oh my goodness, isn't she pretty!" It's not a question but a statement of fact. When she was a baby, she wasn't so fact she was a bit ugly, looking back. But as my ma-in-law would say, she's grown into her face. To look at her one would think that butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. Her curly hair and her chocolate brown eyes melt many hearts and she's going to be absolutely stunning. Mimi can do no wrong. She's also a "mean table layer!" She does it properly; making sure the knives and forks are placed correctly.  Unlike her brothers she clears the table of the debris before laying.....and puts it away.  Her bothers just slide stuff to one side or lay the places on top of the piles of papers.  But she's more than just her face.  She has a personality. She's feisty. She's funny, and she has a great turn of phrase.

Looking through the many photos I have of her, there are very few where she's not pulling some kind of gross face. There's not a picture where she's wearing anything that resembles an outfit. It might not even be clean.  It may be crumpled but  as long as it's pink, it's fine.

She will play with her dolls, have picnics with the "fugly" bears that my sister has bought.  Sis won't buy pretty dolls or bears..Mimi thinks "fugly" is good!

Yesterday at dinner, Bart stole a a piece of her cheesecake.

"Do that again" she growled  "and I will stick my hand down your throat and yank it back! "

She didn't whine or moan, just told it like it was.  Her brother replaced the stolen piece with a biscuit stolen from Finns plate.  Finn whined and moaned...but that's what boys do! She is 5 years younger than her oldest brother, yet she takes no nonsense. When the boys do something that offends her she tells them "I'm going to rip your skin off!"....probably not the best way to deal with incidents, but she knows a firm hand is needed with boys.

I don't have any worries for her, like I do my sons.  She knows what she wants; she's direct and a joy to have working alongside me in the kitchen. She empties the dishwasher because she wants to. She hugs me hard and won't let go; she squeezes me hard and sinks her teeth into my hand then smothers it with kisses. I know then that those are the feelings she can't contain, and I know that she will love without fear.

I know what my ma means when she says, "You love your children in different ways".  I couldn't understand when I was younger (pre-kids).  I thought you should love your children the same way. No favourites, all equal.  But now I can understand what she means.  Each of the children are so different, and I love them for their quirky ways.   I will always love them not for what they do for me, but what they are to me.

Hopefully she will grow into the woman she wants to be.  She's  moving along the right track and I will attempt to guide her. I love my daughter and I know that I am all she needs...for now!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

I puff up with joy!

It's nice to know that there are some things that will make me happy no matter what.  Some things can change from week to week, but there are somethings that make me sigh with utter contentment.

The static things that will always be there gives me  the greatest sense of peace. I puff up with pure joy when I visualise them in my minds eye.

I guess these are the same for most people.
Beach at West Wittering
For me they are:

My familyThe sea
A blue sky
A great book.

On any given day there might be any number of things that brings me joy. Today my reasons to be joyful, thankful or just plain grateful are:

Any coffee chain where I can go and drink my coffee in peace and read the papers without a child asking me questions. Guilt free me time!  I jump on the Internet and check my mail...for free!  I used to be a Starbucks freak, but have since decided that their ethical stance is not as ethical as I once their coffee in the UK has gone right down the pan!! U find that it differs from country to country and the last cup is never as good as the first.  These days I'm a bit of a fan of Costa, and I think a lot of mums feel the same. Their loo's are seriously massive, and could probably accommodate 3 prams in one sitting. There is always plenty of seating and I regularly see groups of mums with their toddlers and prams so I guess it's popular with them too! Big up to Costa!!

The salvation!!!  Without it  I know I would be doing the cleaning.....and without it I would be lost.  Information can be found at the flick of a finger tip and when I'm bored I can lose myself in cyberworld for hours on end....and that can mean hours and hours. 

I lost my Internet connection this week for a couple of days and when I phoned my ISP, they told me they couldn't get anyone to me for about 10 days.  I went deathly quiet and in a very calm and controlled voice told the person in India that it was completely unacceptable. My appointment was reduced to four days.  BH said that the four days was probably a god send as many of the chores (wtf?) were falling by the wayside...into the gutter.  Every half hour I checked for a connection in case by some miracle it would fix itself, and wept when I couldn't get on line...sad times I know, but can a girl do when she's been forced to live in Stepford.  Anyway normal service was actually restored within 48 another reason to show how good life is!!

My family. I love my family.  I love my brothers and sisters, my kids, BH, my ma and pa, nephews and nieces and all that go into making up my family.  Each day they add complexity to my life and their problems and issues become mine, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  We may fallout from time to time (I am too outspoken for my own good!), but we know that the words we spoke in "that" moment were only for that moment.  It's easy to take offence when you want to and we all have a choice.  Either choose to take offence or not....I prefer not to.  They each add to my rich tapestry of life and I'm happy that they are in.  There are some who have chosen not to be in my life, and for that I am sad, but if it makes them happier....then I am too!

So, what has made your heart melt today?  What always makes your heart melt?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

My new regime...Charles Poliquin and BioSignature

You may have noticed (or not) that I have a sidebar on my page which indicates weight that I will/have lost in preparation for the next few weeks. I have been preparing myself for the inevitability that my clothes no longer fit and that it's cheaper to lose the weight than it is to buy new clothes.

We've had BB (nephew) staying with us for some time and he has been extolling the virtues of eating properly, organically and with lots of protein.  As an ex vegetarian, my diet is pretty awful.  Hangups from a bygone era still play a major part in my choice of food, but after listening to BB for the past few months and watching him pop his supplements with regularity I became interested.  He was healthy ( he's young) fit (he's young) and has so much energy (he's young) that I wondered whether I was ever like that. 

BB showed me some stuff from the legendary Charles Poliquin, and to be honest, I have taken it all on board.  BB didn't want to train or coach (family and all that), but has passed me onto a rather lovely young man called Luke who specialises in a procedure called BioSignature, (he was so busy I had to book this appointment weeks ago!)  and this is how it went.

The Consultation

Earlier this week, Luke (tall, gorgeous, well fit and healthy) came over to the house, and while the kids were kicking each other into touch he went through the process. It took over an hour but he put me at ease and made me realise that my diet was not only sparse, but as a role model for my children showed them that bad habits were acceptable as part of life.

He explained what Biosignature was all about. In a nutshell, Biosignature is the measure of body fat in specific areas.  By measuring the fat (and there is plenty of it) he could tell what areas of my life I needed to address, and hormones that were out of kilter.  The fat laid down indicated what supplements I needed to take, and the ones which were lacking.  What surprised me about the process was that he didn't need to take any blood tests.  Because I've eaten so much bread and potatoes in the past (and I have wild cravings) I have a sensitivity to gluten. NOT an allergy, but sometimes my tum expands soooo much I can't do up my trousers. Anyways, Luke tells me I'm have stress (indicated by the fat around the waist and needs to be addressed...quickly) amongst other things. So he has set me up an initial "Boot Camp" protocol, to get my body back into line.

I've been given Fish Oils (not cod liver oil...apparently they're different) to eat by the van load and I am to eat protein by the ton!  I'm now on the Paleo Diet, which looks to be quite straight forward....if a caveman ate it, then I can too! No processed foods, or cakes and biscuits which should mean I could lose the pounds quite quickly.

So far it's been three days. I've not suffered from hunger pangs, and in some cases I feel I've over eaten. The biggest mistake was trying to take the Fish Oils with a cup of tea!!  The warm tea melted the capsules before they left my mouth so I had the vile taste of the oil lingering.

Luke's coming on next Wednesday to check my progress, and already I feel alert, and a little bit lithe. He won't tell me my weight ( I won't weigh myself as it depresses me too much)  as he says we all get too hung up on the pounds and is no indication of the body fat loss. He's also writing up a programme for a workout in the gym, and to be honest it all sounds pretty straight forward.  He uses mainly weights (thank running!), as he says using weights, burns calories longer than like!!!

Biosignature  isn't for the feint of heart.  It's expensive. The process and supplements which I'm to be given will be expensive, and the regime is demanding, but after a few years of being uncomfortable with myself, I think it will all be worth it.  I can already see BH eyeing Luke, and wondering whether he was ever like him....I have to say that he wasn't!! 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Who's the Daddy? Review - The making of us by Lisa Jewell

OK, I promised that I would do a book review in return for the book!  Well, I couldn't really do a book review without it could I? It's taken me an age, as I really needed some time to sit down and take it seriously...and I'm so glad that I did.  Normally, I just plough through them, with no thought to the work and effort that has gone into writing, but wishing I could write as well and wondering how I could fit in the time between the shopping, cooking and cleaning, to write my best seller.. ..not a chance!!

Thought provoking in the main, Lisa Jewell's portrayal of a children alone, reuniting and  forming their own nucleus. A reality that many will face now and in the future. Lydia, Dean, Robyn and Daniel all joined in a search, to find the truth, themselves and each other. Each of them are told of the circumstances surrounding their births, and each of them have walked a separate and traumatic path to adulthood. 

The story begins with Glenys, in 1979 desperate for a child, but unable to approach her macho husband and confront him with the dilemma. With the help of his brother and in secret, Glenys visits a specialist in artificial insemination and conceives. Robyn, always has know that she was special. Dean suffered his own tragedies, but a drunken night out results in an action that he won't be able to stop and makes him realise the consequences of his actions will impact on his own future.

Fast forward to 2010. Daniel, a sperm donor has become ill and wants to know that his offspring have lived a good life; that it has all been worthwhile. Daniel has no idea how many children he may have fathered, and did not realise that it would come to this, but there is more to Daniel than just a sperm donor. Daniel has secrets, and Daniel will leave them to no one. I don't want to go too much into detail, as I don't want to give away too much and spoil the very realistic plot. Suffice to say...go and get this book!

The characters are believable, ordinary and real. We could pass them on the street each day, and have no idea of their incredible story. The coming together of brothers and sisters is very special. They have a bond, despite their different upbringings and mothers. How many children will a sperm donor, father? Who knows? 10? 20? 30? It also raises questions as to how much sperm donors, (who were generally young men who were paid a small sum) are responsible for their children,  genetics and the importance of knowing their medical and genetic background.

For many, sperm donation has been a saving grace for those unable to father a child. The years have passed since sperm donation was cloaked in mystery but unlike the past, the children of sperm donors are able to find out some information.  Like many, this will be an issue for many in the coming years. As children grow, it is important for them to understand their genetic inheritance. I would imagine, that many parents nowadays are able to be honest with their children about their conception, learning from the mistakes of the past.

In the midst of reading the book (I also read magazines as a hobby!), I came across an article about a family who had actually lived the life that Lisa Jewel predicted. The article pictures the siblings together with their donor father; explained their new relationships and how important it was for them to connect.  Their story has been filmed as a documentary "Donor Unknown" and will be released July 4th in the USA. 

I've read most of Lisa Jewels, novels, but I must say that this one surpassed my expectations. Thoughtful, provoking and very topical, Lisa Jewel sets the tone for the future for many. The perspective of children who are donor conceived. If you like Lisa Jewell, then please pop along to her facebook page.

You may have also notice I have put a "fat bar" on the side of the page.  I did plan on a diet or healthy eating, but it would mean that I have to step on the scales and I have no idea how much I weigh.  I know my clothes are far too tight...even my shoes have shrunk, so maybe I'll guess...I'll let you know when I've plucked up the courage to step on those pesky lying scales!!!


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