Saturday, 28 February 2009


Happy Birthday!!

I know this is a day late. But my excuse is that I was round yours last night spending your birthday with you, so couldn't get here to do this!

Also, you don't really look 46 like Eleanor suggested - ha ha!!!

Thanks for the spuds and mousse - the former's in the fridge, the latter's in me :0)

You know what I was saying this morning about choosing friends? I'm glad you're one of mine and I proved it by going through with the act of actually wrapping up that giant galaxy bar. You don't know how hard it was handing that over!


Friday, 27 February 2009

A night off?

As a working mother of four young children I need a little time to myself now and then. But, as a working mother of four young children, obtaining that time is pretty near impossible, even moreso now with my current living situation.

I work late at my office two days a week and on those evenings I enjoy having the freedom to leave work, head out to a friend's house or to the cinema, out for a bite to eat, to a pub for a drink with a friend and just generally unwind before heading back home. Some nights I spend cruising the supermarket aisles doing the weekly grocery shop, purely because I can do so uninterrupted by the pleas of little people to add various treats to the trolley. I can run calculations through my head on offers and whether they really are as good as they seem when the offer is for something packed in 500g boxes and all they have in stock are 750g ones but they're on the buy 3 for 2 offer. I like being able to think without looking in four different directions for people that can't reach the second shelf yet.

Tonight I worked late. Tonight I had a break from the children. I didn't got to the pub, or to the cinema, or to the supermarket. I enjoyed the freedom from little people.

What did I do?

Cooked pancakes with 45 teenagers instead. And the ironic thing?

They were easier to handle en-masse than my four little ones, but considering these thoughts, the conclusion baffles me.

The teenagers were messy. My four are messy.
The teenagers mucked around a lot. My four muck around a lot.
The teenagers ate enough to feed an army. My four eat enough to feed a second army.
The teenagers were cheeky. My four are cheeky.
The teenagers ran riot round the building. My four run riot at home.
The teenagers didn't clear up after themselves. My four don't clear up after themselves.

There is a pattern. I'm thinking maybe it's the fact I'm not going to reach the epitome of my mothering skills until my children are teenagers.

Or maybe it had more to do with the fact that I could flip the pancakes and most of them couldn't and that made me cool, or sweeeet, or awesome, or whatever it is that nerdy parents are when they temporarily enter the Dude Zone.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The sharpness of youth

I've got to hand it to him. Joshua may be on the talented and learning register for his mathematical ability, but his sense of humour and sharp wit aren't far behind. You never quite know what's whirring in his cogs, but today's offering was pure class.

I'm giving up all things sugary for Lent - or things that lean that way. I'm boring, I can't think of anything really useful to do.

So this evening, I was completely sucked in when Joshua sat casually next to me, flicked through the TV channels and asked, "Mum, how much would it cost for a child minder to look after me for six weeks?". Not too worried about this question as Joshua can't get through a day without at least twenty questions I nonchalantly replied, "I don't know, probably quite a lot. Why?".

Now Joshua is not one to rush his conversations. He communicates at times in depth, other times in snippets. I thought this was a snippet moment. Until he dropped this one. "Well Mum, seeing as it's Lent, I thought I could stay at home for six weeks as I'm giving up the right to learn, so I won't be going to school for 40 days.".

Then he looked me square in the eye and flashed me that gorgeous cheeky smile of his.

He'll go far that boy. Cheeky little monkey!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Taking it private

I was speaking to a friend today who has also recently started her own blog and we discussed the reasons for blogging, authorship, censorship and access to blogs. I'm now wondering whether to take this private and restrict it to invited readers only.

Mmmm decisions, decisions.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Getting the Whole Picture

I really should learn that when turning the television over I shouldn't get all emotional and tearful when a couple are being interviewed.

I shouldn't feel sorry for the man of the couple when they talk about how much he'll be missed and how much everybody loves him and how his departure will leave a void in their lives.

I really should check the TV screening and check it's not a documentary about terminal illnesses but a stupid daytime programme about a couple deciding whether to stay in the UK or emigrate to Australia.

Time to get the hair dye out again.....

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Cracks in the ceiling and my sanity.

You'd think something minor like a bathroom leak coming through your lounge ceiling would be a doddle to repair. Nothing to it. Just assess the damage, give the insurance a call, claw back what you've paid in, get it re-plastered and zippa dee doo da - new ceiling. You'd think?

Oh how wrong!!! How utterly, butterly WRONG!!!

Abridged synopsis - otherwise this could get long.

Ring insurance 8 WEEKS AGO!!! They take a further two weeks to send Mr Assessor No.1 out and that's even after you've done your duty of providing them with pictures of the damage. But do they believe you? Oh no, just in case you may have photographed the wrong ceiling or portrayed the wrong damage, they have to send somebody round the house to check. Anytime between 8am and 1pm. Can we be available? Err no, we work. Can you come on Saturday? Err no, they don't do Saturdays.


Fast forward after agreeing to surrender flexi. After much hmmmming and aaahhhing and clip file scribbling, Mr Assessor No.1 does indeed agree that yes, the ceiling is damaged. Be stunned into silence by the incredulous statement of the obvious. But soften slightly as the claim is approved.

Then, joy of joys, the carpet also gets assessed, OK'd for damage and agreed to be put through on the same claim - lovely lovely lovely!!! Things are looking up. We love Mr Assessor No.1.

Then they look down again.

Mr Assessor No.1 can't measure properly and doesn't allow enough carpet to go through the lounge, hallway, up the stairs and on the landing, so mandate that arrives is financially too low. We don't love Mr Assessor No.1 anymore. Enter Mr Professional Carpet Salesman on another morning off work to measure properly and submit bill to insurance company. Wait further fortnight for amended mandate.

Back to the ceiling. Get quotes in from plasterers and builders, get fed up with waiting for quotes, call in insurance builders. Insurance eventually send Mr Builder No.1 round. Cost has now increased by eight times as asbestos is suspected. So, Mr Assessor No. 2 is due, and Mr Builder No. 2 is coming to quote.

I may have to have the entire ceiling taken down. Methinks insurance quote may do more than increase eight times, because this lady isn't staying in the house with four children if asbestos is suspected. Mr Builder No. 2 is due tomorrow at 8.30 to verify if asbestos is present and then Thursday Mr Insurance Assessor No.2 is costing AGAIN if it is.

I shudder to think what would happen if a tornado hit.

Putting it softly

Erica, you're so much more eloquent than me! ;0)

Couldn't have put it better myself - I'm sure if we were towns we'd be twinned!

Love ya!


Saving The Best For When?

Being home during half term not only affords the time with the children, but also gives ample opportunity to watch a bit of trashy daytime television. I'm glad I don't watch it all the time as I think my brain would implode! Although I have to admit, some days vegging in front of the television for half hour is just what I need and I do, on the odd occasion, actually enjoy it.

One short programme today, however, debated and highlighted the need for 'best'. Why exactly do we save things for 'best'?

This is a debate I used to have with Andy on a frequent basis. Usually fuelled by his desire to hoard seven shades of rubbish around the house and my equally contrasting desire to rid the house of all things unnecessary and use the good stuff. I'm of the mindset if it's rubbish, get rid of it, if you haven't used it for six months, get rid of it, if it's ugly, get rid of it, if you're keeping it out of loyalty to somebody who bought it for you but you can't stand the sight of it, get rid of it... you get the gist. I live on the theory that you have one life and although there are factors beyond your control that you just have to settle for, there are the simpler things in life that really don't require the waste of thinking time. For instance, I can never understand why people buy good quality wine glasses, put them away in a cabinet and then drink the majority of the time from some piece of cheap tack they picked up in Argos or Woolworths. If wine is worth drinking - drink it well. Maybe there is more chance the glass will break, but at least it's been broken in joyful use and not left gathering dust for an occasion that might not happen.

So, why do people save things for 'best'? Why are we made to feel guilty if we have something nice? If we want nice things, then why not have them? I'm not implying we need buy everything at top range or adorn ourselves and our homes in designer labels, but just having nice things brings a little more enjoyment to life. And I'm not saying that by using cheap stuff it means you yourself are cheap! I merely mean that it's not a bad thing to sometimes enjoy nice things and to have a few 'guilty' pleasures - providing they're within your financial means and not done in an attitude of ostentation. Maybe it's an attitude more of us need to live by - life's hard enough at the moment - why not take some of the simpler things we have and make them just that little bit better - after all, don't we ALL deserve it?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Just being...

Most days I cope well and put a brave face on. Today isn't one of those days.

I need closure, but doors are being prised open. I need to be and I'm not being. I need peace and I'm getting conflict. I need understanding and I'm getting muted confusion.

I'm not enjoying being me at the moment, because I'm not allowed to be.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

I Knew I Wouldn't Manage It

Try as I might to relax, I went upstairs, looked in their bedrooms and the thought of walking away leaving them looking like squatters had moved in was too much for me.

TWO FLIPPIN' HOURS!!! Just to clear two small bedrooms.

3 pairs of boxer shorts stuffed under Sam's bed, 2 tops screwed up in the corner, folded up school trousers under the chest of drawers gathering dust, I suppose I have to be thankful they were folded. Two pairs of Joshua's pyjamas stuffed in the corner of the bed. Numerous teddies piled up on Sam's bed half dressed, pieces of games strewn around the room and flippin' BB gun bullets getting stuck inbetween my toes as I try to tiptoe through the rubbish ... ad nauseum.

And that was just the boys.

I'm not even going there with the girls, apart from to say that Madeleine took over 30 minutes to fold up all the clothes on the floor that were presented to her in the mass knot I found them in rammed in the corner of her room.

I really envy people with tidy children.

Chillin' and Larkin'

Usually my Sundays are spent flitting around like a wingless fairy clearing up the mess from Monday to Saturday and preparing for the mess that will ensue the following Monday to Saturday.

But next week is half term, the children are off school and I'm off work for the week, so no need to iron school uniforms, check book bags, double-check homework, clear bedrooms and so on.

Just a day to chill and relax and what better way to start the day than with a bit of larking around.

Angry faces

Sad faces

Silly faces

Shocked faces

Happy faces

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The Curse of Spud Guns

Sam has a spud gun. I thought it was quite a good little stocking filler for a three year old.

But, whilst teaching your children to clear up after themselves is a good thing, it doesn't always pay off when they find the most inappropriate places to put their leftover shot out ammo.

Childhood Traumas and Triumphs - Have They Made Me The Woman I Am Today?

Most people look back at their childhood with fond memories. I recently saw a friend I hadn't seen in over twenty years. It was lovely to chat over dinner and wine and just recall people we liked, people we disliked, who was friends with who, who did what and also our childhood perceptions of our peers and teachers. We also talked of the silly things that we did and how looking back on the time it affected who we are today, as well of speaking about where we're at with our lives at the moment.

So, why is it that my memories seem to be of trivial things? I can recall no incident that specifically pinpoints a time in my life where I can confidently say that an event or person influenced me. So, my memories are tragically lame, but for reasons unknown to me, they're as vivid as though they happened yesterday. Here's a small selection.

1. Somebody nicked my Weebles.

I was only 8 and I loved my Weebles. I had the whole family. I even think I had a playground for them with a slide and swing and seesaw. I spent hours playing with them. I was actually the envy of the whole estate as my Weeble collection surpassed all others.

Our house was an end terrace and the outer wall was brick and interspersed were holes in the wall to allow the wind to tunnel through. These holes were perfect look-out posts for my Weebles, so one evening when my Mum called me in for dinner I put them 'on guard', positioned them in a row, gave instructions and headed in for dinner.

To my utmost horror, when I returned, each and every Weeble had gone! I never heard them call for help and I can still recall standing there in the garden welling up with tears wondering where they'd gone. I was absolutely devastated.

I never did get them back and to this day I know the person who nicked them because they were insanely jealous that their mother wouldn't buy them any. To this day she'd deny all knowledge if I confronted her, but I'm kind of figuring at the age of 36 it would be a wee bit immature to settle the score. Actually, come to think of it, she fancied Paul Brandon and I got to kiss him down an alley first, so that's sweet justice.

2. Crawford Duff pulled the bobble off my bobble hat.

Again, a traumatic experience at the tender age of 8. It was winter and my Mum had bought me a new scarf and hat. These were the winters where the playground would ice over and teachers weren't anal about letting you slide around on it. I remember all the girls would tie their scarves together, forming a long chain that everybody else would hang on to and we'd pull them along like a long slithering snake on the ice. Your scarf would end up three times its original length at the end of the day.

But for some reason, Crawford Duff never joined in. He was a big lumbering fellow - absolutely enormous and kind of baffoonish - lovely chap but just clumsy. I was quite nice to him at school, but my kind manner left me vulnerable as one day he walked past me, placed his dinner plate hand on my head, pushed my hat down and in one swift movement, yanked the bobble off my bobble hat. Then he ran off with it. My hat was never the same again and I didn't speak to Crawford for a week after that. I wonder if he still has my bobble....?

3. Got stuck up a cherry tree scrumping.

I was 11 and it wasn't only boys that went scrumping. I was a regular and I knew the good places to go, so I was totally impressed I was the only person who knew a good cherry tree to scrump. It was down the bottom of a garden and the branches overhung the park boundary - to me that indirectly meant public domain and was therefore scrumpable.

But this cherry tree had a fork in the trunk so it resembled a giant catapult, so me and one other friend hoiked ourselves up this tree, sat in the divide and merrily picked away, throwing the cherries down to other third friend holding the carrier bag for our spoils.

Then the owner came down the garden and saw us. But we were wedged in. Try as we might to get out of the 'V' we couldn't move. Even our friend yanking our legs to try and extract us didn't work, so we had to stay put and incur the wrath of the cherry tree owner.

As luck would have it, they were also the days when home owners understood mischief in children and didn't assume they were little vandals. The guy laughed so hard and ended up getting his ladder out to help us down and for our sheer cheek he let us keep the cherries, but with a stern warning that if he found us up there again he'd frogmarch us back to our parents for a clip round the ear. Top bloke he was! I can't actually recall what my Mum did with the cherries.

4. Two school friends carrying my books and pushing my bike home.

I think I was about 14 for this one. These two schoolfriends were boys I grew up on my estate with and subsequently went to school with. Both of them were little buggers at school and were renowned for messing about, roughing up other boys and generally being little pests. But I liked them and whilst other people shunned them and ignored them, I had a good time with them.

One of these guys came over for dinner this week. This is the guy mentioned at the beginning of this post. I asked him if he remembered at the age of 14, with another friend, suddenly running up behind me on the way home, grabbing my book bag off me and pulling my bike away from me. He handed the bike to his friend and between the two of them, walked the mile home to my house with me carrying my books and pushing my bike for me.

The only trepidation I had was that these two were practical jokers and I can clearly recall wondering on the way home that at any moment they would both break into a sprint or hop on my bike and ride off with my belongings. They never did. They even came up to my back gate, opened it for me and put my bike in the shed and took my bags to the door. Then promptly turned on heel, said they'd see me the next day and walked off!

I asked him this week why he did it and he said, 'you deserved it'. Apparently I was one of the few girls in school that treated him normally and spoke to him as though he were a normal person and gave him the time of day. And he recalled it as vividly as I had - 22 years after the event.

It's funny what sticks in your memory over time and these are memories I know will stay with me till my dying day, even though they are completely random and insignificant.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake - EVER!!!

Steve sent me this today - I went to school with him for 5 years, I've worked with him for a further 18 years.

Today, for one day only, I think I love him.


4 tablespoons self raising flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous) - no chance!

Now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night! You're going to print this out now, aren't you?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sweet Valentine

Remember this?

Today he reminded me that he needed supplies for a card and a gift for her. So, my lunchtime was spent browsing the shelves of the local art shop, sourcing pink foiled chocolate hearts from M&S and earrings from Claire's - the haven of all things girlie.

He spent an hour tonight with me making his card, wrapping his presents, tying bows, making a gift tag and choosing bags and boxes to present it all in.

His plan: To have me drive to her house Saturday morning, for him to leave the package on her doorstep, ring the bell and run like mad to the car for us to make a quick getaway so he isn't seen!

I've never had a man go to all that effort for me. I always pretended I didn't like Valentine's because every man I went out with said it was a waste of time - but I secretly wanted them to make a big deal.

So, I'm glad Joshua's into it and I'm glad at the tender age of 9 he considers a young lady worth all the effort. I hope he stays like it.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Shrink Request

Dear God,

yesterday the heating at our office went kaput. The effects of this were noticeable, not only through my discomfort at having to sit in a corporate igloo, but also by the fact that when I tried those lovely shoes on, my feet had shrunk a whole half size.

So, please dear God, can you extend the condition to the remainder of my body? It's been a while since I slipped into a size 12.


Monday, 9 February 2009


I REALLY like the handbag too.

And I bought Joshua some trainer boots today that he doesn't like and I need to refund them. The mother in me says to buy him another pair.

The diva in me says stuff that, use the money for the handbag!!!!!!!

I Only Went to Get a Sandwich

Tesco sells nice hoisin duck wraps and I love them. My inability to get out of bed this morning meant I had to go into town to buy lunch.

But Tesco also sell these

and right next door in NEXT they sell these (my emphasis at the moment being on the shoes).

So, the equation: Sandwich +/- chocolate bar +/- rather pretty shoes = woman with dilemma.

I'm a woman and I've only got a limited amount of willpower.

I'll give you a clue - I didn't buy the chocolate ;-)

Spring Through the Snow

Somebody pointed out to me recently that they had had enough of a miserable winter and was waiting eagerly for Spring to arrive.

Driving my usual route last week, peeking through the snow I caught the first shoots of the daffodils coming through. Normally I'd be driving down heading to work, not taking much notice, but being forced to crawl along at 10mph waiting for my turn at the roundabout caused me to notice them.

There was something strange, but equally comforting about seeing daffs in the snow, but they did look pretty - rows and rows of green shoots peeking through the white blanket just waiting for the sun to arrive.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A Dog May Not Be For Life

But your child is.

Taking a look at the photograph of gorgeous little 3½ month old Jaden Mack released in the press recently reminds me so much of my eldest son Joshua at that age. Then to imagine having him taken from me at that age numbs me. But to lose a child that age to two dogs mauling him just leaves me heartbroken.

When will these people learn?

Why do adults leave dogs alone with babies? Why? Do they seriously think that because the dog is playful and well looked after that it won't turn? Is it really worth the risk?

I've been in debate recently about this with a dog lover telling me that dogs don't turn if they're well looked after. Well, it's nice to live in the bubble of blissful ignorance, until it happens to you. And what alarms me more, is this person has recently had her own child ... and thinks it's OK to leave a dog with a child.

Oh come on!!!

I've never been a dog owner. I don't like dogs, but I'm sensible enough to know that a dog has sensitive hearing and left alone in a room with a child crying to a shrill pitch is enough to distress it. I'm sensible enough to know that a toddler pulling a tail or poking eyes is going to risk being bitten. It doesn't take common sense for a person to know that when a dog has the taste of blood it riles up and wants more. In no way do I blame the dog for the incident, I blame the owner. Yes, maybe the dog is treated well, fed adequately and given plenty of exercise, but leaving it in a room with a child and expecting it not to be affected by the child's behaviour or manner is NOT treating it well. It's irresponsible and neglectful - both to the dog and to the child.

It's debatable enough whether the breeding of specific lines should be continued or encouraged. Even the RSPCA is now boycotting Crufts because of the inordinate amount of 'designer pugs' being produced that have become a handbag commodity, incapable of breathing correctly, walking with distorted hips and unable to eat due to teeth misalignment. The list is endless.

So, where is the attraction? Why does having a dog seem to muffle the senses of otherwise credibly logical adults? Why does having something that barks and wags its tail with a cute look in its eye cloud the ability of owners to think straight when children are around?

And, before you ask, yes I have considered buying a puppy, despite my fundamental dislike of the animals. My three year old son loves dogs. He has no fear of them and is respectful towards them. But that doesn't mean he won't have days where he is incapable of being nice to them and possibly become over boisterous. For that reason and for the fact my five year old daughter is terrified of them, has forced me to reconsider homing a dog.

It's not rocket science. You have children and pets, you supervise. If you can't supervise, you remove the pet from the child and if this inconveniences the pet in any way, then tough, get rid of it, or you might end up like Jaden Mack's grandmother and find your child in a room covered in blood with its throat ripped apart. And whilst I have every sympathy for her at discovering her grandchild in that state, I still think she needs to face the consequence of her neglect. Harsh? Maybe. But the neglect has left two parents grieving the loss of their only child.

The Cake Mummy Deserves

Eleanor noticed today that I'd been on the go rather a lot lately. Her solution was for Daddy to do the washing up and for me to have a rest after dinner and be brought a nice cake.

Smart kid! Shame about the tato scoff at the end though!!

Saturday, 7 February 2009


For the past two days I've tried to work from home. After every half hour or so I have to give up because Sam seems to be having a mental few days.

How can I concentrate when he behaves like this? You need sound.

Bed invasion

The good thing about having a super kingsize bed is that everybody fits in it!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


She's doesn't always get it right, but she doesn't deserve what she's going through. 27 years old and facing death from a disease that has beaten medics the world over.

But it's given me the jolt I need. I've put off having the tests done for three years now - I think I might make a call in the morning.

Coming Unstuck

I do my best to teach my children to be responsible, especially when it comes to them playing with their food.

But then they bite me in the butt and remind me of the days I used to visit the bakery where I worked. The bakers did an overnight shift and many a Friday evening, after a night down the pub, me and some friends would have a game of cricket with them in the bakery with a frozen french stick and a bread roll.

I really shouldn't divulge these things to my children. They use them against me.

Back To Normality

Schools re-opened today.

I went back to work today.

I know things are back to normal because this morning the children couldn't find their hats, couldn't find their gloves, couldn't find their scarves, couldn't find their coats - blah blah blah.

Funny how they had no problem locating them 7.30am when the snow arrived Monday morning - but ask them to get ready for school - whole different ball game!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Dinner Time

I love dinner time.

It's when they're quiet.

It's when they sit together in one place.

It's when they discuss their day.

It's the only time I'm not running around like a headless chicken clearing up after them.

Did I mention I love dinner time?

Effortless Parenting

You know you've cracked the parenting lark when your daughter, having been told that she couldn't have a chocolate bar, but helps herself to one anyway, and then gets told off - goes and puts herself on the naughty step without prompting.

Monday, 2 February 2009

More Fun In The Snow

A well aimed one straight in my face by my lovely eldest son!

Making the snowman

After shedding scarves, gloves, hats etc. this is where we found Samuel. He'd sneaked upstairs, filled the sink and climbed in - to warm his feet up!!

Junk Is Fun

After coming in from the snow to dry off and warm up, ready for another session this afternoon, the children dug out some boxes and cardboard tubes and got crafting.

It's amazing what children can create with cereal boxes, toilet roll tubes, metres of sellotape and endless imagination.

Joshua and Eleanor with their TV, Playstation and remote controls.

Sam with his robot, who just happens to have a multitude of tummy buttons!!

It Snowed Last Night

This was before school.

After heading in for breakfast of hot toast and butter, the children changed into school uniforms.

Just as we headed down the alley another family called us back to say school had shut for the day.

Then I rang work to say there was no way I was coming in - only to be told that work had shut too because the heating had packed in - and no requirement to make up the day lost.


We're inside now warming up - gloves, hats and coats are in the tumble dryer. After lunch and hot chocolate we're heading back out to build the snowman.