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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Friday, 29 July 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I am struggling again for reasons to be cheerful this week but I know deep in my soul how important it is for me to take part in the wonderful Mich's blog hop from Mummy at the Heart.

1. I am cheerful for the counsel of wise women aged 7 to 42 years. Thanks ladies for all saying very different things but helping me see clearly through my current crisis.

2. I am grateful for laughter with my children and husband. Again, vital stress relief when times are hard.

3. I am happy to have pets to stroke. It looks like I have to rehome most if not all of them and this is very much not my choice. However, for now, they are sanity in a mad, mad world.

4. In the midst of a lot of worries, these things happened. Children climbed trees, country walks were taken, friendships were worked on and people reached out to me even when I did not say things were wrong.

5. I am cheerful that I have my intelligence that will help me work out very soon what to do for the best.

I recognise this post does not reveal my current crisis but that I am sure will be blogged about with great truth and humour in due course. For now, I need to keep my own counsel a little. Hope regular readers know in their hearts that I would not do that unless I felt under threat and that it was very necessary.

Wishing everyone a very happy week ahead.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

A week ago, I got a telephone call telling me that my elderly father was very ill on his holidays in France. By Sunday, he was rushed home to us looking about 20 years older than when he had left. You know when you get that pain in the solar plexus when your emotions are too much? That is how I have felt for much of this week.

In the midst of all this, I did something so crass and stupid on Twitter offending someone I was at school with and her family and friends too. One of these friends is really important to me but it looks like that friendship is now blown and all through my own drunken tweet. This makes me very sad but I can't seem to put things right.

Then my brother who had come home to live here with us and my Dad had a go at me about my housekeeping standards. I won't lie. I struggle to keep on top of things with children and animals and a husband with a skin condition. I don't really need reminding of that or having it thrown at me as an insult.

I won't go on and on as this is supposed to be a reasons to be cheerful post. Those who want more can read my Dear So and So post below and then be very cheerful to leave this blog once and for all.

I am really struggling readers so bear with me.

1. I am cheerful that I have a husband who appears to manage to love me very much warts and all. We managed to laugh in the midst of such a stressful week. We have done so before when the shit hits the fan. Perhaps this proves we are a good match.
I take him for granted an awful lot and if anything good came out this week, it is a reminder of how he cares about me and backs me 100 per cent. He is still a bloke though and winds me up no end sometimes just in case regular readers think I am turning into a softy. Seriously though, we are a match and that makes me luckier than a lot of folks who have to face hard times alone.

2. When I kept bleating on about "What shall I do?" in my current situation, my son said "Do what you always do, Mum". When I asked him what that was, he said "Cope like you always do". I am still here after many challenges in life just like many others who read this. So I am cheerful I have a son who reminds me that I am stronger than I feel just now.

3. I am cheerful about having a step-daughter and friend. I always feel I can contact her and express my truest feelings. That is a great gift. In case you are wondering, I don't deserve this from her but I am mighty glad I have her in my life.

Next week will be better, right?

I am now going to go and indulge myself in some very cheerful posts.

Thanks goodness for Mummy from the Heart and all who sail in her marvellous #R2BC boat. I encourage everyone to take a look at this wonderful community of bloggers and perhaps to join in too.

Having problems with the badge for this blog hop but if you go to all will be revealed.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Dear So and So

Dear So and So

Dear So and So...

Can you remember when I explained this morning that I really needed a day to relax in? Don't you remember that in the last few days, bad news has hit in a big way. One half or full day to chill in and I could have pitched in and got jobs done with enthusiasm.

In a sleep-deprived and worried state, tackling things is not always easy. I think that makes me human not bad. This is where we differ.

So instead of doing my own thing today, I have had to work to your schedule doing housework that you say needs doing which I think could have waited. Not for ever, just till tomorrow.

In all this, nobody acknowledges that I worked for 4 hours when I got that telephone call saying you and Dad were returning here from holiday unexpectedly to make sure everything was nice. Nobody appears to see the deep worries that I have had and still have about Dad's health. Nobody has seen that for the last week or so I have had children off sick from school.

I am clearly not putting enough effort in.

Absolutely! I spend my life having facials and going to designer outlet stores. I have an army of helpers. Regular blog readers will know this.

Finally, you threaten to upset our current living arrangements totally resulting in insecurity and more worry not so much for me as for my children who you purport to care about.

Personally, I think it is time the worm turned.

An inadequate houseperson

Dear So and So

I made a mistake, a bad one. A drunken and negative tweet. I have apologised over and over to no avail. There really is nothing else I can do or if I can let me know.

Someone who should not go on Twitter in drink

Dear So and So

I went to Cambridge. It does not make me better or worse than anyone else. However, I cannot edit it out of my history. You know what, I actually don't want to. It was one of the most brilliant times in my life.

From Me

Dear So and So

Thanks for offering a glimmer of light in a really tough week. The future's bright and the worm is for turning.

The Real Me

Monday, 18 July 2011

Magpie Monday

It is Monday again which means that it is Magpie Monday but more importantly that I am still here and blogging after some truly awful days of worry and strain.

Me and My Shadow

My Dad telephoned on his birthday on 15th. I imagined that he was phoning so we could say "Happy Birthday" but it turned out he was reporting that he was ill. He was in France on the first part of his 5 week holiday. I was told not to worry. Now what do you do when people say not to worry? Go into total panic mode right?

The whole circumstances of the phone call were so like when my late Mum made that fateful telephone call in February 2009. Like then, Dad had waited to phone until he was sure my husband was home. Like then, my husband was delayed so I was alone as I took the call.

On the Saturday, we went to the Infant School Fair. I did not really feel like it but you have to keep going when you have children don't you? My husband had probably worked out that I was better off doing something than brooding.

We stopped at the toy stall and my son immediately saw a plastic rocket. I asked how much it was and was told "donations, whatever you want to pay". As it was for the school funds, I said £3 which I thought was reasonable. "If that's all you want to pay" said the stallholder huffily. I moved away after buying another plastic toy as I did not really like her attitude. If you don't come up with a price, how can you complain when someone makes an offer you don't like?

The book stall also proved challenging with a husband and wife team. The husband was keen for me to make offers but if you went when the wife was there she would quote extremely high prices. I went with my husband at which point the whole attitude changed and I picked up a Delia "How to Cook" book. To my regret, I left behind a load of vintage cookbooks such as "The Mixer Book", "The Freezer Book" and one all about different festivals. However, I did also pick up a Katie Fforde and the Claire Rayner autobiography.

Then it was onto the tombola as my daughter wanted to win a teddy bear. She does not agree that the thrill of the tombola is the randomness of the prize. She believes you just keep having a go till you get what you want. So on the quest for the teddy, we also picked up a necklace and bangles set, body moisturizer and some Marks and Spencer pot pourri.

I intended to do the charity shop as usual on Saturdays but something told me to go home. This was good as when we arrived we took a phone call saying Dad was rushing home from France to access British healthcare.

In a way I feel guilty for going out at all but at least we banked some happy hours before Dad came hope and it became action stations.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Friday, 15 July 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Here are this week's reasons for chirpiness.

1. My oldest son got a really good report. He was described as an expressive reader, an exceptional mathematician and an erudite historian. He is secondary school standard and well into secondary school at that at the mere age of 10. Perhaps our greatest thrill was that after 6 years of struggles, his handwriting is finally meeting targets set. That is one simple sentence that masks lots of sleepless nights, tearing my hair out and panicking about his future. Hence, I am one cheerful Mama this week.

2. Of course, life is not all about the official records of what we are good at. I found a thing his classmates had done for him. It described him as kind, funny, nice, smart, very clever and always willing to have a go.

3. Imagine my surprise this morning when I got a communication fromm the Open University this morning. He has signed up saying he wants to do a course already. Think we will spend the Summer chilling as think he may be driving himself a little too hard lol.

4. Finally, I just won £100 worth of toys. That will be a lovely suprise when the bundle arrives for my little ones.

I would encourage everyone to join in with Mummy from the Heart's blog hop at for a healthy dose of positivity. You can read, comment or write a blog post all of your own.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

20 Mummy Memories

I am linking up with the wonderful new meme called Little Legacies.

This post really need to be read together with my post from yesterday to get the full meaning of how it fits with Little Legacies.

Here are 20 memories

1. Crunching through Autumn Leaves

2. You and Dad organising a dance at the Parochial Hall

3. Sitting on your knee

4. Telling you I had started my period

5. Pub meals at the Flouch

6. You visiting my newborn son and noticing how alert he was even then

7. Tomato soup in brown bowls at Christmas

8. Coffee mornings - chats, raffles

9. Telling you there was an outside chance I could get into Cambridge

10. Benjy, Paddy, Monty and other pets

11. Gardening and busy lizzies

12. Making Yorkshire puddings

13. You bursting into tears when I got into Cambridge

14. Lovely Christmases and our own places for presents in age order

15. Introducing you to my red-cheeked newborn daughter

16. Your love of history

17, Palmolive soap

18. Cheese and biscuit suppers when Dad went out

19. Turkish Delight

20. Telling you about baby number 3

Here are 20 special memories of my late mum.

I think they define an era and show how you don't need a lot of money to make a child happy

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

What Makes A Good Mum? It's Quite A Journey

Here are some travel memories of times spent with my late Mum. I wrote them down in a pretty pink book for her 80th birthday and found that book last week so thought I would share on my blog just in case the book ends up getting damaged.

1. Listening to a violinist in a church in a French village
2. Cointreau on Ice
3. Listening to her sing "Bye Bye Blackbird" and other songs in the car
4. Jumping in and out of waves in Spain
5. Bingo at tthe caravan in Hornsea
6. Big langoustines in a Loire hotel
7. Mildred catching us dancing crazily at the caravan
8. Brandied coffee at Haworth
9 A Day off from Life in Ilkley
10. Holidays in Northumbria especially the stable block and trying to get Top of the Pops on the Radio
11. Running clothed into the sea at Bridlington
12. Days Out all the time - my friends were jealous that all of our weekends were like holidays
13. A Dog and Rabbit jumping over me as I crouched in heather at Haworth
14. Getting "posh" for Glyndebourne visits and having our photographs taken
15. Christmas walks in Hyde Park
16. Croques Monsieurs and Madames
17. Really hot holidays in Devon in the mid-Seventies
18. Sitting on a bench around a tree at a pub in Cornwall I think
19. Pendle and witches
20. Feeding birds in Ravenscourt Park

What strikes me about these memories is that most of them did not involve spending much money at all. They involved walking, feeding animals, story-telling, laughter, music, dancing and family fun.

Perhaps that tells us a lot about what makes a good mother. It is all in the making of memories.

There are 60 other memories in the little pink book. Maybe I should get them blogged too for posterity?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Magpie Monday - Bargains Found This Week

I am joining in with Magpie Monday, one of my favourite blog hops organised by the lovely Liz over at the Me and My Shadow Blog.

Me and My Shadow

So what bargains have I picked up this week?

This weekend, I missed out on my charity shop visits. This was partly because I was busy decluttering and getting stuff ready to donate to the charity shops instead.

However, as usual, I had a daily peek at all the lovely bargains over on the Netmums Nearly New Boards.

Regular readers will know I do not tend to buy glass but Him Indoors will bleat on about our lack of glasses. A woman on Netmums was giving away some glasses and also two cocktail shakers, one Martini and one Baileys.

Regular readers will also know that I have a thing about both cocktails and Baileys so I could not resist these. All I had to do was to promote the pick-up as wine glasses to Him Indoors and my mission was complete.

Him Indoors reckons I choose the most quirky (not the word he uses but not going to offend Netmums friends) women to buy from. He was a little put out that he had to wrap the glasses himself on arrival. I did point out to him that they were free so he should be happy and a radiant free spirit about it all.

My favourite glasses were the little shot glasses in different colours.

My Dad said I was going all posh with the Martini glasses and needed a cigarette holder to complete the glamorous image.

I have never smoked but I do have a thing about cigarette holders so must keep an eye out for one or get my fellow Magpies to do so.

Now as my haul this week was so limited and free at that, here are some of my late Mum's finds from her bargain-hunting days. Will probably post a couple each week for your delectation and would love to know what you think of her taste and mine.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Silent Sunday

Reasons to be Grateful

I am joining in with Maxabella Love's blog hop this week. She asks us to reflect on what we are grateful for.

1. I am grateful for my long lie-in this morning. Since having children, I find I walk around in a constantly sleep-deprived state. True, I am out of the babies stage of parenting and part of the problem is that I have always needed a lot of sleep, but lie-ins are a luxury these days. I am grateful for snoozing into mid-morning, having a cuppa delivered by my lovely husband and feeling those lovely cotton sheets on my skin.

2. I am grateful that my elderly Dad is fit enough to go on holiday to the South of France for 5 weeks. He set off today with my husband dropping him off at the station for the start of his journey. Since my Mum died, Dad has amazed us all with his capacity to carry on and I hope this continues for a long time yet.

3. I am grateful for new levels of motivation which seem to be driving me forwards in my life. Often in little ways like filling in forms or doing housework well but it helps me feel more on top of things and I am grateful for that.

4. I am also very grateful for Maxabella's blog post this week which speaks absolute sense to me so please do visit her and take a look. In a week where the mummy blogging world has being tainted by in-fighting, I thank Maxabella for unwittingly saying something very relevant to the whole situation.

Click on the badge/button above and find a lot of very grateful bloggers many of whom live in other countries so a useful tool for turning your blog into an international sensation lol

Friday, 8 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 27

Here are some of my reasons to be cheerful this week.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

1. I am making real progress in decluttering the house. Four big sacks of stuff has gone off to the charity shop today. There is lots more to do but I can now see the benefits particularly when it comes to tidying up the children's rooms. I have spent months thinking it would be the ultimate in child cruelty to get rid of their toys and in reality, they are not bothered at all.

2. I had an unexpected windfall when I sold some jewellery that I did not wear. I was expecting very little to be honest so it was really nice to get hundreds of pounds.

3. The land is showing signs of progress too. We have a new machine to help clear nettles. Also the experienced farmer next door keeps popping over without us knowing and clearing loads of stuff for us. To be honest, we do need the help and I feel better if the land is kept in a reasonable state.

4. I am feeling better health-wise after 2 weeks of feeling dreadful.

5. I managed an adequate mummy moment yesterday when I baked for a school event. Pink cupcakes with letters on the top in icing to match the names of the children in the class.

6. Two of my kittens went to a lovely elderly couple this week and you could just tell that they will be very much loved. Two left but one is promised to someone and I could be persuaded to keep the lovely black and white one.

7. Finally, I let my son have the day off school on sports day. He hates it and it is just not worth him going through all that mental torment. I feel cheerful that I saved him the horror he went through last year. To read about that, please visit my Sadism of Sports Day post here

Pop over to the lovely Mummy from the Heart blog for more very cheerful things.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Gallery - Grandparents

I asked my son to talk about his grandparents.

Paternal Grandad - I don't know much about my Grandad as he died before I was born. I know he had heart problems. He was a miner and lived in the same town all his life.

Paternal Grandma - Again, she died before I was born and I know very little about her as Dad does not talk about her much at all.

Maternal Grandad - He is always kind. He always shares out his things like his biscuits, crisps and his love. He always wakes up early in the morning. When I used to go to his house for the weekend, I would help him lay the real fire. He worked in the Navy as a parachute repairer. He was a policeman too and I thought he was in the fire brigade too but Mum says I got that bit wrong. Grandad likes to read newspapers, books and to do crosswords and puzzles. I don't think Grandad is keen on chocolate but I think he likes creamy things. He likes drinking something called HobGoblin. Grandad never seems to tell me off.

Maternal Grandma - She usually had a lot of spare time for me. She died when I was 8 years old. Grandma used to take me out to the coast and the countryside. She owned a caravan so we used to stay there sometimes. Grandma had time to play with me more than my parents. I loved her lots. She used to make me laugh a lot and give me kisses and cuddles. She was a good cook and made great pancakes but I did not like her Yorkshire puddings. I can't remember her ever telling me off. I still miss her a lot.

My reflections on this are as follows.

I think my husband or his family need to share stories of my children's paternal grandparents with them. This is important so that they understand all aspects of their heritage.

What my son does not remember is how his grandparents did a lot of his day-to-day babycare so that I could go back to work when he was 6 weeks old. They did this even though they were in their seventies and moved from their hometown so they could do so uprooting themselves from family and friends. They used to take him to so many places and introduced him to different foods. My son's first word was "Rover" because Grandad drove a Rover car.

He does not remember that it was Grandad who patiently taught him how to clap when we all lost patience. I always know that throughout life everytime I see my son clap, my Dad will be with me.

He does not remember that his first night away from me was spent with his grandparents whilst I was giving birth to his little sister. Nor how he climbed into bed with them in the early hours of the morning to sing nursery rhymes.

As he got older, he would go for weekends with them which was important as when the other two children arrived, I think he missed having that sole attention from myself and my husband.

When my mum became terminally ill, she decided after 8 weeks that she did not want to see my children anymore. She said she wanted them to remember the fun times they had together and not to remember her as a frail and ill lady. I found this very tough to take as did my Dad, my husband and my children. However, I had promised that her journey towards her death should be done her way so I had to stick to that. Just before she died, she did think about seeing them again but it never happened.

My son was born 50 years after Mum and Dad got married and he was their first grandchild. He was the glue that put us back together again as we were not speaking when I became pregnant with him.

Mum said on the first day that she held my son, that she could now die happy. They had 8 lovely years together before that happened. I hope we have many more years left with my Dad who teaches my children so much about life.

So, my children just have one grandparent left and here he is with mum on their wedding day.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Magpie Monday

I am joining in with one of my favourite blog hops again. The wonderful Magpie Monday where we celebrate bargains.

It is Agricultural and Country Show season. Yesterday, we attended our local show as Very Important Persons. What this actually meant was that we paid extra for our tickets but ended up saving a small fortune as all our food and drink was included. We also had a dedicated marquee to relax in and a little champers too.

I had purposely stayed away from the charity shop on Saturday knowing there would be bargains to be had at the show.

I actively sought out the charity and community stalls. My local charity shop had a stall where the children won every time and could select a soft toy of their choice. My little girl chose a penguin whereas my little boy chose a dragon.

I approached what looked like a tombola stall but you could choose whether to pay £1 or £2 for the tickets. The £2 side of the stall had the better prizes so I went for those. I was a bit confused as it was not the usual "must end in a nought or a five to win". It turned out that you got a prize every day. I walked off with a tin of Fox's Biscuits and a very clever thing that I am sure I will make use of on my weekends away now that I am actually released from domestic drudgery every 4 months of so.

It is compact but can be hung up and has lots of dinky compartments for all manner of toiletries and the like.

I was disappointed that when I enquired at the dog sanctuary stall about regular giving that they struggled to give me an answer. Surely if you are going to have a stall you need to be ready for questions like that.

As we passed a Pre-School Fundraising Stall at the end of the afternoon, we were told there were only 5 minutes left to buy raffle tickets. Well, I remembered that my old Jobcentre trainees used to tell me "You have to be in it to win it" so we got some tickets.

We stuck around to find out if we had won and got the second prize. It was a great bargain for a £1 investment.

Charity-shop wise this week, I am focussing on having a huge clear out and am boxing and bagging up all manner of things. I may go for the minimalist look. What do you think?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Friday, 1 July 2011

21 facts about me 21 years ago on Graduation Day

It is 21 years since I graduated from university this week.

Here are 21 facts about me then.

1. I had the shortest skirt out of all the students graduating

2. I did not want to leave university

3. I was about a size 10 and thought I was fat

4. My drink of choice was bacardi and coke

5. I thought I was in love

6. I knew I did not want to be a lawyer but did not know how to tell my parents

7. I was very into women's issues

8. I did not wear high heels and was usually in ankle boots

9. My favourite bands included the Pet Shop Boys and the Eurythmics

10. I had low days when I would hide away from people

11. I had no faith that I would get a boyfriend ever

12. I did not expect to have children either

13. My favourite outfit was a crimson ra ra skirt and crimson jacket worn with underwear as my top

14. I wore a Swatch

15. I had big Eighties hair

16. I was a virgin

17. I did not smoke or do drugs

18. I was quite interested in New Age type issues

19. My mum had fallen out with me

20. I was good at keeping my room tidy

21. I was not destined to marry Daniel Craig (yes ladies, someone from my college did last week)

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Apparently, we are now 6 months into the wonderful Reasons to be Cheerful blog hop established by the wonderful Michelle over at the Mummy from the Heart blog.

What a lot of lovely things this new community of bloggers has celebrated from the mind-blowingly superb to the more mundane pleasures. Many of us have also experienced bad weeks where the focus of Reasons to be Cheerful has really helped us smile despite the rubbishy stuff. I would encourage bloggers to take part and see just what this simple blog hop can do for your week and your attitude to life.

So what can I share with you this week?

1. I am on the mend. I have had the most awful bug all week but it is going away. Slowly but I do feel up to going out today for my Friday fish and chips with my Dad so I am clearly on the up.

2. I had a non-Cybermummy weekend full of baking, camping and family fun. I was worried I would really resent not being at Cybermummy but had a great weekend after all.

3. I have had some really good evenings with my husband. All too often, evenings are all about getting dinner sorted, bathing children, getting uniforms ready and so on. Somehow, this week we have got a bit of our coupley groove back.

4. My children have finally accepted that six zillion toys in their bedroom is a little excessive. They helped me choose things that they were willing to see go to the toy stall at the Summer Fair or the charity shop. We filled 3 huge plastic crates and I think housework will be way easier as a result.

5. I am sure I will have mentioned my Dad as a reason to be cheerful before. He is so lovely though so here I go again. He helps us out in so many ways whether with wisdom, humour or financially. In the middle of this post, the washing machine flooded the kitchen and Dad was there to help me clear it up and to laugh our way through it. Much better than when I spent my days alone and such incidents could send me on a downward spiral emotionally.

6. This week marked 21 years since I graduated. I have posted a little about this in the post below. I remember a sunny day full of happiness and young people launching themselves into the real world with bags of potential. There were family members there who are no longer with me, friends that I am no longer in touch with but as my late Mum told me, they can never take away your memories. It was a very special college, a wonderful university and quite possibly the most magical three years of my life. Strawberries, crisp white tablecloths in the Fellow's Garden, meeting my friend's family members particularly the lovely Laings and Godfreys, making plans, trying to forget Graduation Day means the fun and games of university life are drawing to a close. I remember someone asking me what my hobbies were and when I struggled to respond, my friend Paula said "Her hobby is sexual fantasies". That same friend is now a nun in an enclosed order. I swear you could not write this stuff as fiction! I was invited to spend a year in France which to my regret, I did not take up. I did take up the offer of a holiday in Ireland and have sweet memories of that time. I think this is turning into a blog post all of its own so will leave for another day.

So here's to good health, family fun, romance, giving, laughter and memories.

Now do go and check out other people's entries or maybe write one all of your own.

I am linking up to Maxabella Loves Blog Hop too. She really loves bloggers and we really rate her too.