Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Back to the crafts

I got a new sewing machine for Christmas. It's not much news to most, but to me, it was the best present.

Now I need to contact Gretchen...

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Make the reindeer glitter food trail.
Take porridge oats, mix them with glitter and give them a blitz.

Sprinkle it outside the house on the path for the reindeer to see glinting in the moonlight.
That will lead the way.

Check where Santa is travelling to on the Norad website.
Not long until he reaches England!!

Leave out beer, milk and mince pies for Santa.
Don't forget Rudolph, he likes nice cold water and fresh carrots.

Time for bed - stockings at the ready!!!

Wait for them to fall asleep.... and enjoy the peace and quiet.


Saturday, 22 November 2008

Making it feel like home again.

The house has been neglected. Negating that neglect is now being tackled.

The house is now getting a mini-facelift.

Years of working full time, looking after four children and handling the day to day running of all things domestic, have taken their toll on the place I love to call home. For the last few months I've hated coming home. I've hated seeing the neglect. I've hated it so much I couldn't take before photographs - the sight depressed me too much. Lilac wallpaper, green door mat, plastic toy box for shoes over-spilling onto the carpet. Just... not .... nice.

But light dawns. The entrance porch has now been painted, new shoes cupboards built and fixed in, new skirting boards glossed and fixed on. New coat hooks, new shoe mat and new umbrella stand. Even a framed mirror to hide the fuse box that's bugged me for years.

The door frame and door are now sanded and primed, ready for the first gloss. It's only a 2m x 1m space, it's tiny, but it's a start. It's the first thing I see when I open the front door. It now lifts me and my heart doesn't thud down to my toes when I come home.

The study's next.

It's too dark in here - it's a great retreat for me and I love the darkness. I love the fact no natural light comes in - I lose myself in here. But it's not good when children need to sit in here at 4.30 and do homework. I need to share my space as their need is becoming greater. It's a wrench. I'm keeping the dark plum on the door side of the study, the other walls are being treated to a warm cream. Money permitting the shelves will be replaced with cupboards as I now want to hide away all paperwork and files. I think it will look neater. I also need to store the CDs that are currently shelved up the stairway - the look has worn off and I need to pull them in here.

IKEA is about to become my new retreat.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Who's that man with Sch name?

That's what I was asked by Joshua this morning.

'You know, the Governor of California - he's got that really long name with the Sch at the beginning. How do you pronounce it?'

It dawned on me then that the boy had no idea who 'Arnie' was. No idea about Terminator films, Twins, Kindergarten Cop..... He'd only ever known Arnie as a politician.

I'm digging out the DVDs and educating the boy. How can you grow up not knowing that part of him? It's just not right.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Yep, been having a bit of a long one.

Monday, 22 September 2008

The Toil Continues Down At Plot 51

Saturday, being another gloriously sunny day lent the perfect opportunity to get down the allotment to continue preparing the ground, clearing the weeds and getting the pathway finished.

Three weeks have elapsed since I last went there and fearing the worst, having visions of two foot high weeds that I encountered the last time I left a lengthy gap between visits, I was immensely surprised to see that where the ground had been prepped previously, not a single weed had grown. It just goes to show the difference between namby pamby surface weeding and proper digging over.

To add to the joy, Michaela had bought me two rhubarb plants as a belated birthday present plus some strawberry plants that have produced runners, so they've now been put in the soft fruits corner. A gap has been prepared for the apple tree, I just have to get it from Mum's house to the plot. The red gooseberry has taken well and the blackcurrant is well established.

Sam gives the raspberry bushes a drink

Madeleine and Eleanor digging for leftover potato tubers

Sam and Joshua preparing the holes for the transplanted raspberries

In addition, in amongst the weeds on the other side of the allotment, we found an extra raspberry bush, so that was uprooted and transplanted. Then Michaela found more along the path edge where the roots had grown under the path from next door and had shot up on my side. So, up they came too. My original two raspberry bushes have now increased to six. Whether they'll take is questionable. There wasn't much rootball on any of them, but I'm hoping with a bit of TLC and the autumn/winter period to hibernate, the spring will see them perk up and yield enough growth through the summer to provide a good supply of fruits.

Michaela digging up the newly discovered raspberry bushes

The path is now halfway through the plot and the gravel that was taken from the front garden at home has now all be transported to the plot to infill the path. It's a bit wonky but it looks really good. The plot is taking shape now and I'm beginning to personalise it. It feels like my plot now, not just a piece of rented overgrown ground. There is still a lot of clearing to do and one boundary needs erecting but this will come in time.

And, I finally got to meet Sid. Sid is an a retired farmer and Sid has lots of machinery and Sid has offered to rotovate the bits of my plot that need digging over next spring, ready for the planting and sowing season. I like Sid.

More leeks were harvested and now some tubs of leek and potato soup are stacked in the freezer. The cooking apples that were scrumped last time we visited have been peeled, cored, chopped and frozen ready for winter puddings. Some have been stewed down to make apple sauce and more blackberries were picked from around the perimeter and are laid on trays in the freezer.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Missing My Boy

I miss his conversation.

I miss his perpetual questions that drive me nuts.

I miss seeing him working on his warhammer models.

I miss not tucking him into bed at night and plumping up his pillow before he sinks his head into it with a great big thud.

I miss not helping him with his homework.

I miss him playing and larking around with Sam.

I miss him having a strop when he has to do homework before doing his warhammer.

He's only been gone since Wednesday and he's home this afternoon.

What the heck am I going to do when he leaves home?!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Apron Strings Loosen

It's a sure sign your children are becoming independent when they start to look forward to NOT having you around.

Joshua's going away on a residential school trip tomorrow and he CAN NOT WAIT.

The school have come up with all manner of scenarios to play through if your child is anxious, nervous or worried in any way. None of them are of any use to me as he's not anxious, nervous or worried. I'm not sure whether to be worried that he's not anxious, nervous or worried, or congratulate myself on bringing up a confident well balanced boy.

I'll opt for the latter.

They can take a toy with them for bedtime - he won't be seen dead with a teddy. They can write home if they're feeling homesick. I offered to give him a stamped addressed envelope, paper and pen. My response was a 'no way, you must be off your nut, mother', look.

I can cope with that. I don't mollycoddle my children. Maybe I should. Maybe not.

They're not allowed to take aerosols. Joshua likes to put on deodorant for discos etc. and they have a disco on the last night. I offered to buy him a roll on - not cool. 'Roll ons are for girls', was the reply I received, after the initial, 'urggh' he offered.

Plus this week, I let him walk to school on his own for the first time. I thought I'd be cunning and keep up just enough to watch him from a distance.

He was more cunning - he shot off like lightning, realising that he could move swifter with his rucksack on than I could with a buggy and two others in tow.

So, at the tender age of 9 my eldest is growing up and becoming independent. I'd like him to stay my boy just for a bit longer but I can already feel the apron strings loosening and whilst it's bittersweet, I'm looking forward to witnessing the incredible young man he's going to become, because he's an already incredible boy.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Who Owns Me?

I don't carry a donor card. I used to but over the years I seem to have misplaced it. I used to give blood until I was told to take a year out due to my body piercing. Time has rolled on and I've done nothing to revert back to carrying the card or offering my blood again.

I had a rethink this week when the government rolled out plans to consider the opting out of organ donation. Transplant waiting lists are long and people are dying every day who have perfectly good organs that could save a life or many lives in some cases. In the UK we have a poor rate of organ donation as opposed to our European neighbours. To this respect do we have the right to retain ownership of our bodily parts after we die, or is it ethically right for the medical profession to harvest them after our death if we have not specifically barred consent?

So, if the legislation goes ahead, do I opt out and prevent them taking what they want, or do I remain as I am and allow them to assume that as I haven't opted out, I'm happy for them to have whatever is needed at the time? It's an emotive decision as it doesn't just involve me. Or does it? When does my body not become my own anymore? I like to think that my body is just that, mine - to do with as I please. But at some points in my life legalities have taken that right away from me. Up to 24 weeks of pregnancy I retain ownership of a baby growing inside me. At any point until then I can destroy that life and have it removed from me without any recompense or worries of legal action being brought against me. After 24 weeks, no matter how I feel, I have no option but to accept that a part of my body is now 'owned' by a national establishment. When the baby is born I resume ownership as I then have the choice whether to keep the baby or give it up. In cases where mothers are mentally incapable of bringing up a child the decision is made for them, but my argument here is with people who are fully in control of their mental faculties and completely aware of the decisions they are facing with regard to ownership of their bodies.

So, where is the line drawn? If I choose not to opt out, I'm giving permission for the surgeons to open me up and take what they like. Can I choose to specify what they can and can't take? Would it be judicious for me to do this? For what reason would I be selective? My husband has always said that he would allow my organs to be taken, but not my eyes. It's a part of me he doesn't want removed from me. When speaking to him earlier this week about his feelings regarding this I asked him whether it was fair to allow this sentimentality to prevent somebody else from having the gift of sight. After all, they're no use to me or him when I'm gone - so why not let somebody benefit from them - surely it would be better for a part of me he loves to live on in another person?

I firmly believe that when I'm dead, that's it. I have my own thoughts about my soul, but my organic body - what use is it to bury me complete? Why waste me? By allowing the state to claim ownership of my body prior to burial makes sense. It relieves my family of responsibility. Their job after my death is to dispose of me - not drag out ownership. Does it really matter that they bury only 60% of my physical body or whatever is left of me after my useful bits have been removed? Surely their obligation in their memory of me is to the person I was when I was alive, not what's left remaining in a box.

Developing this thought further, I do believe the opt out scheme is feasible. Many people oppose it. They worry that doctors will declare deaths much sooner knowing they can get in there and harvest organs. They worry that the extent to which a life will be fought for will diminish and life support machines will be turned off earlier than they would have been in the past. I don't believe this. There is rigid set of tests to confirm the presence of brain death and I truly believe these will still be adhered to, no matter where the law stands with regard to organ donation.

For relatives I believe the pain of having to make the decision during a time of unimaginable grief will be lifted. It's hard enough to deal with losing a loved one, especially unexpectedly, without having to be rational about somebody cutting them open and removing bits from them. Knowing that your loved one could be increasing somebody else chances should bring comfort, especially as with the current system of opting in the percentage chance of being a match via a random selective process is minimal. Imagine the increased percentage match if more people were deemed to be suitable.

But where does suitability lie? Do we live our lives knowing that one day a surgeon will be looking at our organs making choices as to whether they're good enough to put inside someone else? Will this make us aware of what we're doing to our bodies? Will it make us look after ourselves? Will it give people with low self-esteem a bit of a boost knowing that some day they'll be invaluable, even when they're not aware of it? If you feel good giving blood, imagine your euphoria at knowing your body can save at least six people. It certainly gives incentive to stop people abusing themselves.

The debate is continuous. I could ask about ownership of my childrens bodies. Do I have the consent until they are legally able to take that decision for themselves? What if I'm mentally ill - does the person with power of attorney over my affairs have the moral and ethical right to make that decision on my behalf? Where does ownership lie? If I'm pregnant and lie brain dead does my partner have the right to insist on me being kept alive to allow my child to grow and then relinquish ownership when the child is born? Where is the line drawn?

But one thing I am certain of. If I choose to opt out and deny another person the right to increased life expectancy, then I have absolutely no right to expect to receive an organ during my life should the need arise. If I opt out of donation, then by association I believe that should be viewed as opting out of receiving and I forfeit the right to organ transplantation.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Small Talk

Today we took the children shopping for school shoes. It's always daunting. Too many parents leaving it until the last minute and too much money being exchanged. Why do shoes for children cost so much!?

But the heavy mood was lightened as Samuel and Eleanor retreated into their wonderful little minds and, as befitting all small chilldren, totally forgot about social etiquette and just happily chattered away.

Sam's offering - singing quite loudly - 'I love my Mummy, 'cos she's got boobies'. Followed by infinite amounts of giggles.

Eleanor's offering - 'When I get married I'm going to have a big fat tummy for all my babies. I'm going to marry Euan.' When asked if she'd kissed Euan I was met with a disgusted nose wrinkling, 'Ewwww, no! I'm not kissing him! But I will snog him when I'm married. Married people snog. I know they do because you and Daddy do because you're married. You snog. All married people snog, that's what they do. So I'll snog Euan when I marry him.'

You might have gathered, she likes the word 'snog'.

So do I actually.

Gifts From A Friend

Erica has tagged me and bestowed upon me my second blog award - for which I am mightily grateful!

Usually awards come with tagging rules but I don't like to tag on my blog, so Erica, please forgive me for not passing it on but thanks for the award and thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer the questions.

Get a move on coming across the Pond will ya!!! There are just too many miles....and I love you too (and your blog ;0) !!

1. Where is your cell phone? Study
2. Where is your significant other? Lounge
3. Your hair color? Brown
4. Your mother? Home
5. Your father? Home
6. Your favorite thing? Cuddles
7. Your dream last night? Unmemorable
8. Your dream/goal? Unattainable
9. The room you're in? Haven
10. Your hobby? Creativity
11. Your fear? Spiders
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Happy
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. What you're not? Vindictive
15. One of your wish-list items? Watch
16. Where you grew up? Suburbs
17. The last thing you did? IM
18. What are you wearing? Clothes
19. Your TV? Old
20. Your pet? Furry
21. Your computer? On
22. Your mood? Reflective
23. Missing someone? Yes
24. Your car? Negotiable.
25. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
26. Favorite store? John Lewis
27. Your summer? Questionable.
28. Love someone? Yes
29. Your favorite color? Purple
30. When is the last time you laughed? Tonight
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday

Friday, 29 August 2008


Timbertown is a unique event that takes place every August Bank Holiday in my home town. Tickets for the weekend are sold for one morning only and they are sold out every year. Last year Joshua took part and thoroughly enjoyed himself. This year he returned, along with Maddie, and myself as an adult volunteer helper.

August Bank Holidays will now be our family Timbertown weekend for as long as the event runs. With this year being their 25th anniversary, silver was the main theme and over the course of four days over 300 children, along with their teenage and adult helpers constructed various huts of differing design, size and decor.

In a world that is now suppressing children's creativity and leaving parents in a constant quandry about whether to allow their children to have freedom, Timbertown is an oddity, but the comraderie between the teams and friendly rivalry bring out qualities in the children that reflect the true nature of who they are - creative, funny, wonderful little people.

My team were fantastic. We hammered, we sawed, we nailed and we painted. We helped each other lift things, we nursed sore thumbs, we pulled out splinters and we played together. We had fun, we laughed and we became good friends.

Next year I'll be taking Eleanor along. It's an opportunity for her not to miss. The chance to be expressive and creative, but most of all, free. Free to do the things she would not normally be given the chance to do. The chance to use real tools, run around with complete strangers and have endless, limitless fun with 320 other playmates!





Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Tidy Desk - Tidy Mind

I am a bit alarmed that I may have a case of Bloggers Block. I simply can't find anything useful to write about. I've been busy lately, met lots of people and done lots of things but my ability to write about it all at the moment seems to have left me bereft of all literary musings.

I do notice a pattern with this. A pattern I've lived with since childhood. My state of mind is in symbiosis to my surroundings. If everywhere around me is a mess - I'm a mess. For me, visual order = mental order.

The house is a mess. The children are home from school. I can't expect them to keep it tidy, but I do have trouble coping with keeping an even keel when I'm tripping over lego bricks, stepping over hospital beds made up on the sofa with duvets and pillows and picking up bits of play-dough pancake from the kitchen floor.

I need a retreat.

The retreat is my study. Usually a nice, organised, orderly adult area. I relate to the tidy desk, tidy mind theory. This morning it looked like this. Not only did the desk look like a car had crashed into it, but the entire room.

I feared my head might just cave in at this point.

But cleaning for me is not a swift task. I'm not a tidy up, shove it in one corner, wipe a duster over it kind of woman. It's deep clean or nothing.

And this deep clean took me 3 hours.

But amongst the piles of papers I found the children's school reports and whilst talking to an old friend on the phone found myself comparing notes and exchanging well dones as she read off the reports for her children. I found receipts that needed to be spiked for when I do the household accounts each week, scraps of paper with e-mail addresses for Joshua's friends that he claims to have lost, photographs of me as a toddler and my own school reports.

So, not only did a good clear-up of my study make me feel better in that it left me a virtual zone of peace and tranquility, it also brought back memories of old.

But I'm happier now. My zone is clear, my retreat is mine again and try as I might to make promises never to let it clutter up again, I know it will end up the same in about a month and then the whole process will start again.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Party Mood

Sometimes when we're getting ready to go out we're sensible about it.

And other times, we're not.