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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Love is...

* when a mother gives up her child to give her a better life and does not find it easy to do so
* when a dad wants to keep his child all the same
* when another couple offer a child a home and family
* when the milkman and others bring Christmas presents to welcome the child to the community
* when the church and school welcome a child with open arms
* when neighbours invite a child to play
* when parents move house to be near the school after a bullying incident
* when parents buy a cake to celebrate their little girl "becoming a woman"
* when a mother cries all the way home after driving her child to university but does not let on
* when friends write an Ode dedicated to you and buy a big pink teddy on your 18th
* when someone thanks you for a Christmas card when they are not a Christian
* when someone special makes you smile in his very individual way
* when that same someone tells you that you are your own worst enemy and your life changes
* when you let somebody go
* when you don't let the memories go
* when your brother sends you posh clothes to get you through posh events
* when a crate of pink champagne arrives from your brother for your 21st
* when another brother rescues you from stressful situation with holidays
* when the same brother teaches you about wine
* when you accept a friend's life choices even though you struggle with them
* when your parents accept your choices even when they don't like them
* when you want to spend so much time in one person's company
* when friends accept your limitations and still want to be friends
* when you listen to things you would rather not hear because your friend needs you to
* when you accept a male friend not buying you pudding when out to dinner
* when someone drives you home even though miles out of their way
* when someone challenges you to be more than you think you can be
* when someone sees you in a crisis and offers you a home
* when someone tells you that actually they are gay (another one bites the dust lol!)
* when someone is willing to share their weaknesses with you
* when you take the risk of someone hurting you so badly
* when you are told that whatever negative influences in your life have told you, you are OK
* when somebody holds your hand even if you fight against it
* when someone tells you that if you prick someone, they may well bleed
* when you hold onto your partner when in labour
* when you have your first child and it is your first known blood relative
* when you put your loved ones above your own personal wants and sometimes needs
* when you pick up a zillion lego bricks and make a million snacks and drinks each day
* when you help someone with their homework
* when your children tell you are awesome and the best mummy in the world
* when you would change your wedding date so that your best friend could attend
* when you stick together even when it is really hard to do so
* when you learn to forgive and be forgiven
* when someone takes on house-husbanding
* when people are there for you when you are low, depressed and struggling
* when your children cuddle up to you
* when you would fight for your children no matter what
* when someone admits they got it wrong and you do the same
* when you still care even though someone has hurt you badly
* when you try to stay strong when your mum tells you she is terminally ill
* when you choke on your apple crumble when your mum is dying and it all gets too much
* when you have party nights with your mum in her final weeks. Whisky for her please!
* when you smile through your mum's funeral, celebrating who she was
* when you keep in touch regularly with your dad even though you are terrified of losing him too
* when your dad carries on parenting on you now mum has gone
* when you have the occasional kids-free time and remember why you got together in the first place

Love is always there, waiting to be found, new friendships to forge and old ones to maintain or renew. Where loved ones have moved on or died, memories remain and someone told me yesterday that such memories help to make us who we are. There is no trite or easy way to end this blog posting as I continue to find out more about love all the time. All I can say, that I have not always felt loved but looking back realise how much I am loved and how much I have loved.

Bedtime Battles

Last night, I had great plans to renew that loving feeling with my husband. I am not great at planning romance but having won some scented petals in a tombola thought maybe I could strew them over the bed like on my (in)famous boudoir photography session. The first challenge to my cunning plan was when my 6 year old daughter with her radar for anything pink or red seized them. She is quite the artist and wanted them for some craft exercise or another. Used my most persuasive charms to wrest them from her grasp. With my daughter, this involves feeding her as she is ruled by her creative muse it is true but much more so by her tummy!
The evening went fine until we tried to put my 4 year old son to bed. None of my children are particularly great at accepting bedtimes but we have had some recent progress since I bought a "SuperNanny" book off Netmums and tried some of her methods. Last night, I put him to bed but he was not pleased and believe me, when my son is unhappy, you really get to know about it. The problem is that we live in terraced housing and he was screaming at me. "You are killing me" "I am going to die" "This should not be happening". Now, I don't know about you but if I heard those sort of things, I think I would be putting in a quick call to the NSPCC. The reality was that he had been put to bed, tucked in and kissed goodnight. He just was not ready to go and came downstairs to complain vociferously. We tried to reason with him, blank him, take him back upstairs and still the tantrum continued. Supernanny suggests you just keep taking him back upstairs but she is not here and she does not know how strong and large my son is. It is actually a struggle to take a tall and heavy 4 year old upstairs safely when he is kicking and hitting you and accusing you of being "the worst mummy in the world".
Finally, he accepted his fate on the condition that we put him a nature dvd on in his bedroom. This morning he came downstairs full of how he now knows that "porkie pies with spikes" are very different from "Egg Hogs". Fortunately, he has also decided that he is very sorry about last night and that I am really "an awesome mummy".
As for that loving feeling, it evaporated and as I blog, the petals remained unopened on my desk.
Maybe next time?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Reflections on the death of a school peer

Being the inadequate mummy I am, I do find I need more stimulation than Bob the Builder and the like. So I spend probably longer than I should on Netmums and Twitter. Very recently, I have started to use Facebook more tempted into such behaviours by the Stanningley Wives.
Yesterday, as I Facebooked, I noticed that one of my friends had joined a group with a familiar name, two dates and the letters RIP. It took me a good few minutes to work out that this group on Facebook was about someone I was at school with and that RIP could only mean death. Before accessing the Facebook page concerned, I tried to summon up an image of the woman concerned or rather the girl I knew. The profile picture on the page showed the girl I remembered probably at about the age of 18 with big Eighties hair and a dress very similar to one I used to wear way back then. Further investigation showed M had died at the age of 40 leaving behind a partner and 3 young children. The Facebook page has been set up by her daughter and contained loads of messages from people. Suddenly I registered the dates and realised that her funeral was at my old family church on Monday this week. I had missed the opportunity to attend and pay my respects by just two days.
Now I am not always the nicest person in the world and I have to admit that I have never felt particularly pleasant thoughts about the woman who has died from cancer and far too young. She was full of life and fun. When I was at school, I was very studious and viewed as a bit of a swot and a Tory. There was truth in the first but the second assumption shows how daft we all are in assigning labels to people without discovering more about that individual. One key image that has come to me time after time over the years is of M and her younger sister outside my local corner shop with bottles of cider having a great time. Of course, I never did such things then and nobody would have invited me along anyway. I was the fat one at size 8, the ugly one, the clever one. The unacceptable one.
Another image comes back of M turning up to the house where I was babysitting a girl and three boys. Against my better judgement, I had said I would also let her little brother stay that evening. Boys got wild in the pool room and suddenly, M's brother came into the room spurting blood from his neck area. He was panicking and running from room to room with bright red blood going up walls. I was 17 and out of my depth. I had a 3 year old little girl with a morbid fascination with the incident as if it was the best thing she had ever witnessed. One of the boys was retching at the scene. Another was scared what his Mum and Dad would say when they got home as he had attacked M's brother with a cue. I telephoned M's parents but they were out socialising and did not come, perhaps not realising just how serious things were. Eventually, after another telephone call, they sent M. She came and like me, did not know what to do. I telephoned my Mum who was furious that I had been left with an extra charge and told me to phone an ambulance. I did this and they came and took over and I don't remember much after that. Later, I was told the boy had to have 8 stitches.
So to be honest, that incident is probably the most M and I ever came close to getting to know each other or communicating. Reading the messages on Facebook from people who knew her well, I felt at a later date and in different circumstances, we could have forged a friendship. How lovely that someone could say that she never had a bad word to say about anyone. I can't claim that yet have so freely looked down my nose at her or the memory of her. Another message refers to her being an avid charity shopper. I love charity shops so we had common ground there.
So what can I do? I post a message of condolence for her partner, parents, siblings and children. I contact her sister saying that I had never known two sisters as close.
I am on my own apart from my little boy and I feel totally shocked. Is it because she was my age? Or that she had 3 children as I do? Is it a reminder of cancer and its ravages, raising memories of how quickly mum went from diagnosis to death and how it still seems surreal most of the time.
My Dad telephones from his caravan holiday in Kent and I tell him the news. He says I am reacting normally. I send an email to my best friend from school who says she feels the same as myself. We make promises to live for today and stop worrying about silly things. We acknowledge that we now have 3 deaths from our year to mourn - a suicide, a car crash victim and now M from cancer.
And then we get on with our lives and make all the usual daily mistakes. Maybe a little older, maybe a little wiser, definitely a little more appreciative of what we do have.
Rest in Peace M

Quiz Night

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On Saturday, I went to Letitia's house for a quiz night with the other Netmummies. I arrived by taxi as our car has packed up inevitably just as I have lost my job and cannot afford a new one till my scumbag ex-employers decide to pay me. As ever, relieved to see familiar faces having spent most of the afternoon trying to talk myself out of going.
The first challenge is to see that Letitia keeps a lovely home and hence people are barefoot to protect cream-coloured carpets. Note to self that I must bring slippers or socks to future Netmummies meetings. Why? Because my errant puppy has chewed my shoes so much that the dye has come out and stained my feet black. Of course, to everyone else, they just look mucky! Lecture myself that people are not going to hate me for this or anything else. Try to combat negative self-talk that nobody wants me here and I am an invader of an otherwise happy group. I have not changed over the years. 20 years ago my Dad had to explain to me that if I had been invited to a New Year's Eve Party in London by a college friend, she probably did actually want me to be there.
Letitia has laid out various snacks such as choccy muffins and Haribo sweets which I am not really allowed as I am on a healthy eating plan. However, I make an exception for wine of course. I sit in a lovely characterful chair and get told off for doing so by someone who thinks I would be more comfy in a soft chair. I know that if I have too much to drink (which I almost inevitably will!) at least the hard chair should keep me upright.
I am keen for the quiz to start but the Netmummies engage in gossip or should I say vital news of the week. There is much laughter and sharing. Will the quiz never start? At one point, I actually think it might not. I like a night with an activity to hide behind.
We divide into teams and I am disappointed not to be place with my greatest blog fan who I would like to get to know better in the real rather than virtual world. I am with Veronica the Air Hostess, Ivy the Paramedic and a lady who is drinking milk presumably down to the lovely bump she is displaying. We call ourselves the Haribo Whores as Ivy is eating them like there is no tomorrow. One of the other teams consists of Susannah, Queenie and Marigold. Queenie is already getting into party animal stakes and may well need to be nicknamed "lol" as she is doing that loads, some would say in a raucous manner but that would be unkind. In all seriousness for a moment, it is great to see her letting her hair down - perhaps nobody in the group deserves to more. Susannah seems to speak when she has something to say but the rest are getting wild, talking over each other and the wine is flooding rather than flowing. I don't know Marigold at all well but feel good about her as she once said nice things about my blog. Flattery works every time for me as I am very shallow! Later, I find out she step-parents which is another bond as I know all about the traumas of taking on that particular joy. The final team sees Karen, Lucia, Sally and Mary joining forces. Mary is so called because of her innocent nature!
We work through the quiz and I am useless. I only get one question right and that is based on reality television which shows what an Cambridge education does for you! Veronica the Air Hostess is fantastic and could do the quiz on her own to be honest as Ivy the Paramedic is losing interest fast now the Haribos have disappeared, I am stupid and the expectant mum seems about as clueless on most questions. Meanwhile, Queenie calls over that I look "intelligent" mistaking my sozzled look for intellect! Does this mean she hates me?
It is difficult to tell what is going on in the other teams apart from lots and lots of laughter and chat. As the wine reaches tsuami proportions, some lose interest in the quiz altogether I think despite Letitia's efforts to keep us on track. Valiant woman!
Wobbly Ivy crashes into a heap facedown on the carpet. Someone says how good it is of her to demonstrate the recovery position for us all. Naughty children (OK then grown-ups) swoop like vultures and draw cartoons and bodily parts on her.
Letitia asks if anyone minds her bringing a timer into her own lounge so she does not burn our mini-pizzas. Queenie finds this hilarious. Mini-pizzas arrive and my healthy eating plan is abandonned as I use the pizzas as sandbags to combat the tsumai.
Mary is so innocent that she does not realise that some people may see her as a sexual being so out pop her breasts and later her bottom. Queenie later describes this as the claxon to announce that Netmummies parties are now about to hit totally wild status so anybody of a sensitive nature had better book at a taxi and quick. Unusually from what I can tell, Mary actually leaves early and is much missed.
I leave at around 1pm having realised that most people have left and I share a taxi with Ivy (now on her feet and getting her second wind) and Queenie. Return to chaos at home but that is another story ....
Big thanks to Netmummies for some sanity in the mad world of parenting.

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Monday, 19 April 2010

Reflections on the first Leaders' Debate

I think this is one of the most interesting General Election Campaigns in recent history. I am always interested in politics but this time I find myself really wanting to use my vote well. I watched the first leaders' debate on telly with great interest and (how sad am I?) made notes. I am keen to make the right choice in this election as the country faces challenges now and in the future.
So here are a few reflections on what the three would-be Prime Ministers had to say.

Nick Clegg

On one level, I am delighted that the Liberal Democrats are finally getting a fair deal in terms of coverage of their campaign for a new way of doing politics. The party has often made sense with their policies and having heard Paddy Ashdown speak many years ago, I still believe they have much to offer this country.
However, I also think Nick Clegg really had nothing to lose in the first debate and could, therefore, relax and go for gold. It is so easy to criticise anyone doing a job that you have not done. Wouldn't we all claim that we would make better teachers, doctors etc when things don't go our way? Continually saying that Brown and Cameron were all words not actions sounded like something a schoolboy would say. It might be worth noting at this point that Clegg went to Westminster followed by Cambridge so is hardly from "ordinary" stock.
I listened intently and only identified two policies mentioned by Clegg that differed from anything Brown and Cameron had to say. The big one was the Trident issue and then there was the regional dimension they propse to bring to the immigration system. For years, the Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of demands for electoral reform and a fairer voting system. Gordon Brown, whether through genuine concern or clever strategy, stole their thunder on this one in the debate.
Clegg made some valid points such as prisons being "colleges of crime" for young offenders. However, I think this is old news to most of us. It also is a sweeping statement which ignores some of the valuable projects delivered by a range of organisations within prisons.
I too am concerned about cuts to health services particularly maternity and Accident and Emergency Units. I did not think this was answered fully by Gordon Brown and hope that it will be as the campaign continues.
I was worried when Clegg proposed freedom for teachers. I want my children's teacher to be fully accountable probably more so than they are now. Also reductions to tax credits and child trust funds can only force already cash-strapped families into greater crisis.
So although the media and the public appear to think Clegg won the charm offensive, remember he has been educated in a way that makes this relatively easy and ask for more details on his policies and why they are fair and how he would make them a reality.

Gordon Brown

The current incumbent in a General Election is always going to be in a position of justifying their past record and trying to "sex up" continual steady progress. In the current economic crisis, that task is going to be a much harder mountain to climb. However, I do feel voters should remember that this is a global crisis that was not invented by Gordon Brown as Cameron would have us believe.
On the whole, I thought Brown responded well with details of past achievements and future plans. It was also good to see him using humour and in quite a powerful way against the hapless Mr Cameron. The jibe about the free publicity on those appalling posters that tell lies about Gordon Brown was a classic.
Sometimes, Brown's hopes were too much. I doubt this country will ever see "prosperity for all" for example. It would be lovely if it did but I think if it was possible, we would have seen that already.
On immigration, Brown could celebrate falling immigration figures but was honest enough to say that this was effectively work in progress with more to be achieved. I never want to see a country where we turn our back on any non-British despite the skills they may bring to us or the crises they are escaping from. With the rise of the British National Party, voters need to work out what they think about immigration and not give in to scare-mongering without doing some proper research into the facts and figures.
On law and order, Brown could draw voters' attention to falling crime figures but again admit he wants to do more. I agree that parents need to take responsibility for their children and would like to see this backed up with greater support on parenting for all and not just those who are seen as economically or socially deprived. I like the idea of the police having to be more accountable to their communities. I guess I am a natural rebel who always thinks authorities need to be viewed with a degree of suspicion!
As someone who has worked locally, regionally and nationally in the third sector, I agree with Brown about young people being involved in purposeful activity and volunteering. However, I hope such concepts are backed up with proper funding for voluntary and community organisations. As someone with a good degree and work experience, I have gone from redundancy to redundancy not because projects have failed but because the funding has dried up. This ensures that learning is not shared in the medium to longer term and talented people leave the sector particulary when parenting or caring responsibilities come into their lives, no longer able to take the financial risks associated with doing good works.
As someone who has worked in and with prisons, it was interesting to hear of a project where if offenders don't reoffend they access jobs. I know that this is just one of many creative initatives where the public, private and voluntary sector are coming together to reduce reoffending rates.
On education, I agree with Brown that there is nothing wrong with setting standards. The devil is in the detail of how this is done and that will adapt and change over time.
On the House of Lords issue, I know it is only privilege and the class system in this country that can possibly explain such an archaic institution. The sooner they go, the better and it is great that there will be a referendum on such issues should Labour get in.
As voters make their choice on 6th May, I hope they listen to Brown's statements that "this is not question time, it's answer time" and "you can't airbrush policies" Whatever your natural instincts for voting in normal times, is this the time to risk the recovery?

David Cameron

The first word I wrote when David Cameron starting speaking was "bollocks" He appeared to think the word "change" was enough to convince us all to vote Tory. He admitted that he would keep some of Labour's "good things".
To an extent, as with Clegg, it is easy for someone not in power to knock someone who is. There is certainly still work to be done on the major issues confronting this country. But then, I think there always will be - immigration, health, education, defence, crime - all these issues will remain.
I thought his use of individual one-off stories was cheap and questioned whether he was presenting the full facts and whether he had the permission to share those stories publicly.
Coming from his Eton and Oxford background with his magistrate mother, he seemed to feel he had the right to ridicule both the other leaders particularly Nick Clegg and also the general public. Did you hear him actually use the term "these people". Any "these people" includes people he should be serving as a Prime Minister. He also was the worst for talking over other people showing no respect for the basic etiquette of debate. The others fell into this too but he was the worst. When asked direct questions, he did not answer them.
It appears that there are real concerns that the finanical promises of the Tories will mean cuts to law and order and education services. Is that what we want? Or do we want to give our children the best possible chances in a difficult global economic crisis and to feel that our families are safe at home and at work.
Also from his background, there is no surprise that he does not want to see his Oxbridge cronies out of the House of Lords. And before anyone thinks I have a chip on my shoulder about Oxbridge, I went and had a blast but also know how certain things work in terms of continuing power structures and networks.
On education, Cameron said he would remove the appeals procedure if a child is excluded from school effectively leaving that decision with one individual and possibly a corrupt one at that.
Cameron keeps banging on about the "jobs tax". It is a red herring. Think back about how big business complained at Labour plans to bring in the National Minimum Wage years ago. They will always feather their nests at the expense of the employees.
Cameron smarmed his way through questions about the Armed Forces. We all respect our Armed Forces and sympathise with those injured and those families who are bereaved. However, Brown has had the real job of tackling changes in the tactics of the enemy and is a proper person who actually write to each family that loses someone in conflict. He does not have to do that - it is nothing to do with politics, it is about him as a decent human being.
There was only one thing that impressed me about Cameron and that was his mention of the plight of carers. The fact that he was quoting from voluntary organisations was obvious to me but probably not to many. However, Brown and Clegg should have got in there first as caring is a huge issue in this country.


independent school and Cambridge educated
wanting new politics (but not clarifying what he means by that)
in favour of electoral reform - a good thing
wanting rid of Trident - you decide
wanting freedom of teachers and a regional dimension to immigration

values-based in reality
still having to take the whipping Blair may well deserve
experienced in Government
has achievements, has done the learning and wants to do more

Eton and Oxford - hence, so in touch with the realities of ordinary people's lives, not!
wanting change for change's sake
wants to divide the nation into "my people" and "these people"
in favour of privileges based on birth not merit
wants finanical changes that would in all likelihood result in cuts to police and teaching workforces
concerned about interests of carers - but then without being harsh, he would be from his own family experience

Well, that's my take on it anyway and I look forward to assessing their input next Thursday

A Night in with the "Stanningley Wives"

The ladies of Stanningley met on Saturday at Karen's house. As I arrived, several others were arriving driven by their husbands as Stanningley ladies do not drive knowing that their husbands do it so much better. Karen welcomed us to her home and served us cups of tea with beautiful cucumber sandwiches and home-made cupcakes displayed beautifully on porcelain cake-stands and with the sweetest of doilies.
We talked of how grateful we were to be allowed out by our husbands for the evening who work so hard to keep us. We compared our fashions particularly new hats and gloves bought for the Easter season. Several of us had sewn our own dresses and we pitied those poor gentlemen whose wives wear such unseemly outfits such as jeans.
Violet arrived with bags containing prayer books so that we could start our meeting properly by giving praise to the Lord.
After prayers, we engaged in an amusing little quiz. We blushed as we admitted that most of us had being reading reference books all week to prepare for the evening's entertainment.
It was lovely to see us all answering questions with such grace and dignity, so unlike those leggings wearing women from other parts of the city.
We are blessed with a nurse amongst our group. Most women in our circle do not believe in going out to work relying on their housekeeping money from their husbands. However, Holly is almost a saint-like nurse who gives 100% commitment to her role. So much so that even on a night out, she gave a free demonstration of how to get into the recovery position.
Some amongst our number are creative artists and demonstrated their talents shyly but giving a whole new meaning to the term "life drawing".
After swapping recipes and trying Karen's home-made fruit cake and iced coffee, we realised that it was now 9pm and bade out farewells returning to the loving arms of our husbands and children. Many of us commented just how wonderful it was that as well as lovely food and drinks, we had also learnt new skills to take back home to make us even better Stanningley wives.

Friday, 16 April 2010

From Pampers to Pampered Chef

I recently attend a evening's entertainment with a difference. After years of being submerged in pampers and other baby/child related products, I find myself invited via Netmums to a Pampered Chef evening.
Get ready nervously as going to a new house for this and will be meeting new people. Katie's greatest fear factor. Check out the Pampered Chef website for product prices lest I look like a total idiot when I don't have enough cash to buy anything. Why do these things always happen the day before payday?
Climb into the people carrier and find a bit of paper with an address in the right town on it. This may or may not be the venue for the Pampered Chef event. I must have written it down for some reason but this could be one of my regular Nearly New bargains from the Netmums website or something else. Fortunately, the god's are smiling and I arrive at the right house and to a warm welcome from the ever-wonderful local Netmums Coordinator.
The room is packed with women and I manage to find a seat because, let's face it, if I lounge on the floor like the yummy mummies, I will never manage to raise the Titanic and get myself up again. Or if I do, it won't be the most graceful sight!
Do my usual and accept a glass of wine gratefully for Dutch courage.
The Pampered Chef person plonks a sticker on me and ask me how much I enjoy cooking. Claim that it is 8 or 9 which is true on my best days and crashes to zero if I am wound up by children, life, other half, whatever.
The "demonstration" begins with the Pampered Chef person banging on and on (and on) about the benefits of the company's cookware. We are then informed that we can watch her prepare a meal for us but we will be expected to help. Clutch my glass for dear life and hide behind a heavily pregnant lady in the hope Mrs Pampers will not see me. We all stand round like children to Mrs Pampers teacher/lecturer. As the drinks flow, I start to get wicked thoughts that all the products are actually sex toys in disguise and that we are all at an Ann Summers party. Once that concept enters my mind, I keep feeling giggly as Mrs Pampers talks of "choppers" "balls" and "banging really hard". Childish I know but at least it means I keep watching and listening. The other mummies are cooing and oohing and ahhing working themselves into a frenzy about the products. Make a silent bet with myself that they have not checked out the prices in advance like myself.
The "meal" is served in due course. Miniscule cheese tarts and pasta with a bit of tomato on it. Sort of food I used to do when I did not know how to cook to be honest. Realistically, of course, Mrs Pampers will need to keep her costs down in order to make a profit. To be fair, I appreciate being invited and the novelty factor of the evening.
Brochures are handed out and is it me or are there sharp intakes of breath as people notice the prices? People hand in forms almost shame-faced that they have not bought enough. I get a mini-chopper as I cannot chop for anything and a mini-chopper is big enough for me! Know I will get away with it with other half as he loves gadgets.
When Mrs Pampers leaves, people appear to visibly relax. Drink and snacks come out courtesy of our hospitable hostess. There is much good conversation and hilarity. I am not sure quite what happened but I do know I staggered home at around 3am for the first time in many, many years. Raided the casserole still bubbling in my slow cooker and felt a nice sense of naughtiness.
As for the mini-chopper, I have used it once in a month but it serves as a reminder of getting out and about and having a laugh.
I do wonder though if a cookery demonstration can lead to such good fun, what would it be like if the next Netmums event includes Ann Summers or similar?!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A Portrait of a day at home with the children

It is still the Easter school holidays and with a mountain of housework and decluttering to tackle, I am attempting a day in with my children.
Are you one of those people who sees deep meaning in apparently innocuous events? I knew the day would be chaotic when I found my labrador puppy emptying the contents of my kitchen bin. I could so easily pretend I had not seen it. Instead, I tackle it and wonder why I agreed to have a puppy in the house. I swear it was a response to grief as the puppy was born a few weeks after my mum died last September. And then I just swear!
I then realise that although having my new slowcooker is great in terms of planning the evening's meal early in the day when I still have some modicum of energy, I really should remember to empty it! What was once a lovely casserole is now turning a lovely shade of green! I am definitely not housewife material!
Spend the morning working through various mountain ranges of washing piles. Actually succeed in seeing the kitchen floor again.
Enter the lounge to see my puppy juggling fake lumps of coal from my "oh so designer" fireplace. Is there no end to the ways he can find to create yet more work for me? Just like with the children, you wipe up one mess only to spot another one lurking and preventing the essential caffeine fix. Can't even comfort eat now that I have put myself of a healthy eating regime. Tomatoes are as yumsville as dumplings and prawns although lovely do not have the same therapeutic qualities as cheesecake.
At this point, my son asks me if there is any good news? Now whilst I normally encourage his sense of irony, is he just taking the piss?
My 6 year old daughter then tells me that television phone-in competitions would be better if they did not give you the answers because then you could make the answers up and that would be so much more interesting. She has a quirky way of looking at the world that appeals to me.
My 4 year old then tells me he has a broken leg. This is a regular statement from a very dramatic little boy who must be destined for the stage.
Other half turns up to collect his post and keeps saying "Are you OK? What's up?" As if I have the energy for a conversation at this point.
Sanity comes in a telephone conversation with my 82 year old father currently caravanning in Kent and planning his booze cruise to France at the weekend. With parents like mine, I must be destined for success one day and then I can pay a housekeeper and write all day long.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Kate - "you're fired!

My employment was termintated with effect from 1st April 2010. I was actually happy to leave a job that was so demoralizing and pretty much impossible to do because of the flaws in the project. However, I find myself the scapegoat and doubt that anyone will apologize when the project goes on to fail like it did for a year before I came into post and as I am sure it will in the future.
So reaping the benefits, I have less money but more time with my lovely children and less chasing my own tail. Time to look after myself, to get healthier/lose weight, time to play, time to experiment, time to blog and to write.
I have now discovered that my former boss is calling me a c++t on a publicly accessible website and also saying I am a Susan Boyle lookalike. This sent me on a real downer but two days later, I am questioning myself. Susan Boyle is a talented woman - the world seems agreed on that. So instead of worrying that I might look like her, perhaps I should celebrate the fact that I am compared with someone who has huge talent. It is all a question of perspective and by being upset, was I not buying into a society that is so hung up on looks, making harsh judgements on those of us who are not 19 any longer or are carrying weight?
My other half tries so hard to be supportive but I am pretty much impossible when on a downer on myself. Resolve for the umpteenth time not to push him away when he is trying to help me.
My brother has asked me what I will do now. Should I work, volunteer or accept stay at home mumdom until my little boy goes to school all too soon in September? The New Age believer in me tells me the universe will give me an answer. My mum always said things happen for a reason and she was right about most things in the end so let's see what happens.
What do I want to do? I want to write professionally but think I may be kidding myself that is possible.
Am I c**t? Do I look like Susan Boyle? I suppose there is a career in the latter and reflecting on previous bosses, perhaps one in the first too!