Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Are there bargains really to be had at the sales?

Like all women I love to shop as long as it's not in the supermarket. Today, I thought I'd brave the roads, as the snow has now melted and I am able to walk to the car without being beaten back by the heaps of snow which had formed in the drive making it impossible for me to get the car out.  On closer inspection I can now see that the "heaps of snow" were in fact "heaps of gravel".  BH had been shovelling not just the snow...it was no wonder he'd worked up a sweat!

I left the kids at home with BH (Miriam is still ill with au-pair flu), so armed with my list, my credit card and feeling excited about a quiet coffee, I left feeling quite liberated!  To be honest I just needed to get out of the house for a few hours without a gaggle of  kids or dogs.... BH wanted to come..a big NO from me...just for today!

Friends....who needs 'em?

I'm not normally a Daily Wail reader, but that's all they had at the corner shop this afternoon, apart from the Racing Post!  I needed some tangible contact with the outside world, as I've watched so much TV I'm beginning to feel  like the Old woman who lives in a shoe!  BH was not impressed on my return and asked me why I bothered buying it, I could look on the Internet if I needed to read something, but I like to hold something in my hands.

Anyway, as I flicked through the paper I came across an article which pulled me up rather sharply.

"Why did my best friend dump me?".

Sunday, 26 December 2010

I'm not a control freak...but square potatoes???

All that work for just one day!  I'm absolutely cream crackered and know that two weeks away somewhere nice with a couple of good books, (on my own) would be just the tonic I need to be able to get back to some semblance of normality....but that ain't about to happen! 

Apart from not getting to sleep until 4 am and being woken by Mimi at 4.15 am asking if it was "morning yet?", I felt quite on top of everything, when I woke yesterday morning.  The Christmas preparation list all ticked off, the kids presents all ready to be dumped in their rooms, the stockings filled, the crackers made (I impress myself on occasions!), the napkins folded, and the seating arrangements organised.   Ma was cooking the Turkey and sis was making the deserts so all that was left to me was arranging the table, cook the vegetables and make sure that there was enough wine and champagne to take away the pain of it all.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas and sickness...not a good mix!

It seems that we are falling like skittles. First, my sister called me.

"Are you sure it's OK that we come over to you on Christmas day?...I feel so rough at the moment I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do any shopping."

"'Course it is!" I replied.

Well of course it is...I've invited the whole family as we all seem to be in one place at the same time for the first time in about 5 years.  So there's Ma and Pa, BH's ma and pa all the way from the Emerald Isles (mainly to annoy me I think!), little bro' flies in from Germany, big sis and her husband, Ben and his girlfriend, and Sis's mother-in-law.  It is likely that we'll have Jude and her brood dropping in, and Stella and hers too so that we can play twister...oh joys! Not!  Particularly as Jude insists on bringing eggnog which I believe has been sitting in her fridge since 1984 and is oh...so disgusting!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Anarchy in the house....I blame Oliver Cromwell!

This morning I was preparing the shopping list for the last foray into town (in the hope that the shelves haven't been cleared) when Mimi peered over my shoulder.
"What's that?" she asked.
"The food list for Christmas."

BH laughed scathingly.
"When have you ever gone out with a shopping list?  You normally walk around the store chucking random items in your trolley in the hope they'll be enough for a weeks worth of dinners.  Have you ever used those Black Beluga Lentils?  Or that tin of artichokes that's been nestling behind the anchovies?"

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A poem from my son.

I found this poem in my son's english book, this morning.  I thought I'd share it here because I think it's funny.  I'm not sure that's what kids normally write about their mums (this poem is totally not true!) and I'm sure his teacher has a very bad impression of me now!!

My Mum

My mum is very ugly
She has big warts on her nose
She shouts when it's time for bed
She always wears the same clothes

My mum is very funny
She smiles when she is sad
She shouts when it's time for dinner
Her breath smells really bad

My mum is really rude sometimes
She says bad words that are naughty
She shouts when we are playing
Because she thinks we are very noisy

My mum is kind to everyone
She likes to cook them dinner
She shouts at them on the telephone
But I think my mums the winner.

Stuck in the UK...my au-pair wants to go home!

'Tis the season to be jolly....and all that, but apart from the kids there's not much cheer around!  I've been stuck in doors with the kids and dogs for the past few days along with a moaning Au-pair who just wants to go home to Slovakia for Christmas but like the thousands of others is stranded. She, however, is stranded in relative comfort unlike those camping out at Heathrow!  But she likes to remind me that she is here under sufferance and would never in a million years choose to remain here with my "dysfunctional family" adding "Zere is somesing not right about you all".  Which means that she now has to spend Christmas with us, as it will be unlikely that she will be able to get home...unfortunately!

"But I vont to go home"
"I know...but you can't"
"But if I have to stay stuck in here with you...I sink I vill go crazy"

Saturday, 18 December 2010

It's snowing in the UK and the whole world stops!

I'm sitting in my office (as usual) looking out of the window, and it looks like the world has stopped.  Saturday morning and one week before Chrsitmas and the roads are as dead as a dodo!  The postman has just knocked at the door with a parcel so it seems that some services are well worth the money!  I certainly didn't expect anyone to rock up to my door today.  The road outside is unusually quite (apart from the fact that the road hasn't been gritted) and the few cars that pass by are driving incredibly carefully, although there are the odd one or two which whizz by...guess they have snow chains as is their confidence.

The kids and the dogs are playing madly (particularly the dogs) in the garden building igloo's and snowmen!  At the moment we have around four snowmen of varying sizes, we did have six but Peewee decided to urinate on one causing it to collapse and Mimi kicked the other one to death!! Mimi is now sitting in the kitchen moaning that she can no longer feel her hands so won't be able to lay the table for lunch!!

Miriam is languishing on the sofa watching MTV.  She has already called for a cup of "your lovely coffee" because she had slipped over in the drive when taking Chubba out for a walk.  I am consenting to this course of action because I don't want her to sue me.  If she knew she could, she probably would, so I'm keeping quiet on that front!  Anyway, sometimes, I  think she's more trouble than she's worth as she costs me more in breakages. She no longer empties the dishwasher as the plate count has dropped dramatically since her arrival, and she's very heavy handed with the toilet, breaking the seat (no, she's not that heavy), and stuffing all manner of items down the loo.  Already, I have had to call in Drainclaim three times this year because she insists on using a whole roll of paper in one sitting!! I think they must use portaloos where she comes from because she doesn't understand the concept of drainage!!
Can't blame her entirely though, particularly as Finn loves the bathroom too! So with Miriam out of action (as is the usual state of affairs), I have been promoted to carer, and I must say that I'm not very good.

Heathrow is closed. So the getaway holiday traffic is at a standstill. I feel for them, to have their holidays ruined by a bit of snow is unforgivable...I blame the government!  I also worry about those who are rushing and trying to get into work.  Who is to blame if they have an accident?  What is wrong with these local authorities who don't invest in the tools needed to deal with these incidences of inclement weather? They say they can't afford the ploughs, the gritters, de-icers (the airports), but how about they invest some of my money to enable people to move around instead of being housebound? That reminds me, better go down and visit Mrs B to see if she needs anything!

It's been snowing here solidly for about 3 hours and as BH says "The sky is still full of it" so it looks like we're in the midst of a white out.

When I was in New York, this time last year a huge amount fell.  I was stuck at the airport for several hours waiting for my bag.  There were no taxi's at 2 am, but there was a bus laid on to take us into town. Somehow,I felt safe as the roads were clearish, despite the massive amount of snow that had fallen. By morning all of the sidewalks were cleared and the main roads gritted and ploughed.  We ski each year in Austria and know that they are geared up for the snow and are prepared.

So why aren't we?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Off the stage...

I always love being  centre stage and am a bit of an attention seeker (as Jude will testify as during a recent disagreement she accused me of "wanting to be the centre of attention"! True, because I always am!), so why is it that my kids try to hide in the shadows if the focus is shone on them?  I want them to be confident, well-rounded individuals, and if that means taking to the boards and strutting their stuff while being a donkey or a star, then so be it.  I want them to do it without the fear of making a fool of themselves. There is nothing  wrong with laughing at yourself, and everything wrong about taking yourself too seriously! I'm not a pushy mother (unlike Marion, who forces her kids into delivering a word perfect performance), and I'm not a competitive mother (unlike Stella, who'll force her poor babes onto the running track at 6 am because "they show a talent"), but base my methods on  more of  the nurturing, encouraging school of thought.

Mimi was a star. I wish I could say she shone like one, but unfortunately during yesterdays nativity play, all I could see was her stripey red and yellow tights as she ran and hid behind the all manner of barn creatures each time the shepherds and kings moved across the stage. (Apart from the fact that we were stuck right at the back even after arriving 20 minutes before the performance.  The chairs at the front half of the school hall were dotted with coats and bags and no evidence of a human in sight!  The British are becoming more like the Germans, these days.  In fact, I bet the Germans only do it on the sun loungers and wouldn't dream of  bagging chairs!!  Stella always says "It's the early bird that catches the worm!" in her smug "early bird" manner!!) Mimi was supposed to be the Star of  Bethlehem leading them all to the manger.  Unfortunately, she was more like an Exocet missile, she moved that fast!!

"Mimi, you were supposed to be showing them the way"

"But everyone was looking at me! I didn't want them  to look at me!"

"But Mi, you knew that's what you were supposed to do.  Anyway they were looking at you because you were the Star.  You had a very important role."

"No, baby Jesus had an important role. I was a star, and stars can move where they want. Anyway, it's Mrs B's fault, she wouldn't let me wear my princess crown and she wouldn't let Grace wear her  fluffy socks"

"Mrs B was right, you can't wear your princess crown. I'm sure she didn't tell you to hide behind the sheep. You were supposed to be leading the shepherds."

"Well the shepherds could see me! Anyway, I didn't want to be a star, I wanted to be a tyrannosaurus!"

"But Mimi, you were happy to be the star."
"Yes well I thought I could wear my princess crown too, and my batman cape. If I could've worn them I would've been so much better at being a star."

I wonder where she gets the idea that clothes maketh the man?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Forum rules...

I belong to a forum and have spent the last couple of years contributing my fivepee's worth.  I know I don't always get it right but try to be as diplomatic as possible without ruffling any feathers, and I think I've done not a bad job even if I say so myself.  I hope I've been supportive and looked at all angles of the picture before I throw my words into the circle. Without doubt, the forum has saved my sanity if not my life.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that "stuff" has been bad in the past year, but without the my "daily fix", I'm not sure I would've come out the other end.  I've made friends with people I've never met, and they have offered my words of support and comfort.  Some of them I have now met (we've been going through the same stuff), and I can say, hand on heart that they will always be a friend.

However, there are some on this forum that will never be my friend.  Some that ruffle the feathers of others because they can without fear of retribution or because the can hide behind an anonymous name. A little over a year ago, a certain person made remarks about a group of people (of which I was one) which I objected to and said so.  The amount of vitriol and abuse from one particular person was staggering. Now this person paints herself as the Emmeline Pankhurst of the 21st Century, has an answer for everything, has done everything (according to her), and shouts down others with her well written (can't deny that they are), but aggressive stance of her self opinionated (but educated) answers and reasons. It became so bad that the mods had to take off the post.  Because I like to try and keep the peace, I now tend to ignore those posts which are designed to rile, prefering to comment on the frivolous and factual, but this one keeps going at it great guns...she has an opinion on EVERYTHING on the planet and it is beginning to grate on my nerves.

Today, she has lambasted a poster on their posting saying that although she maybe outspoken (rude), she always apologises if she has upset someone, or taken their words out of context and sends them a private message.She didn't apologise to me....ever! Mind you, I didn't apologise to her either. She is a bliddy liar who has become "famous" for the sheer amount of posts she makes. .There are a few other posters who irritate me because of their self-importance, and I pity that they feel the need to make themselves heard for the sake of being heard. I've noticed a few dropping off, because I think they have a feeling they may get rumbled. But, do I say anything to these wannabees, do I point out the error of their ways?  No, because I'm a coward!  I don't like confrontation unless its with BH, then I let all hell break loose because I can!!  The only person who lets me get away with it...at the moment.  I'm sure there will come a day, when it'll be payback for me, and I'm not looking forwad to that day!

I know I'll get to meet her one day and I know that I won't be as rude to her as she is to other people, and I'll probably like her.  Words are powerful and they can make some feel inadequate, but perhaps that's why she does it. She lacks self confidence. Anyway, what is she doing on the forum all day?  She probably hasn't anything better to do!! Well, that's what I've got to believe isn't it?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Facebook has ruined my life!

I love new technology and am the first to embrace new methods of communication, but Facebook?  It is the absolute limit!!

I spend hours and hours each day (when do I ever have time to work, you say?), playing stupid games, looking at friends profiles and finding out what they're doing, and trying to find old friends who probably wouldn't add me, as they would've kept in touch with me anyway!  Hand on heart, I can honestly say, that I find it an absolute waste of my time.

A few months ago, one of my "friends" kept sending me "gifts" from Frontierville. I was intrigued as she seemed to be having a better time than me and I don't like being left out. So I started with Frontierville, which was fun for a while.  I then had to install a "pit" which meant I had to join in with other games, which also meant that I had to play other games to get the gifts I needed for my pit.  So Cafe world, Mafia Wars, and Farmville joined the ever growing list of games on my list "to do" each day. I would wake up, and take my cup of tea to the computer and play...for several hours. My lifelong love of reading my book for 30 minutes each morning, chucked out of the window, just like that.  I realised I had a problem when I woke up at 4 am one morning and wondered whether it was time to harvest my crops!!!

Finn thought my farm was cool, Bart thought I was an idiot and BH thought I was having a crisis (which of course I was!).  Whenever Bart walked into my office he would peer over my shoulder and say "Playing that stupid game I see!". It progressed to "Mum, you're wasting your life.  You're achieving nothing here!" (Wise words from a child).

When visitors arrived, I'd settle them with BH, then rush into the office and spend a few minutes tidying up the farm. One day my brother crept in behind me.

"What the F**k are your doing?" He exclaimed.
"Are you playing a game? How old are you?"
"I find it relaxing!" I retorted
 "Why don't you find something creative to do? Why don't you take up knitting, at least then you'll have something to show for it. What a complete waste of time!"

He then crept up on me each time I was in my office and continued to berate me. I then began to feel very, very guilty about the time I spent on Facebook. I started listening for the footsteps and turned off the monitor if I thought they were getting too close. I'd go into the kitchen on a pretext of making a coffee, then slip into the office for a guilty five minutes which turned into a massive one hour!!!

Each time I'd disappear Bart would come looking for me...
"Where are you?"  He'd call.
"Nothing!" My guilty pleasure had become my guilty secret.
"Nothing?  You mean nowhere! You're playing that rubbish game again aren't you?"

Finn would defend me. "Leave Mum alone." he'd say "She's relaxing. You play on your DS, why can't she play too?"
"Because She's an adult and I'm a child! Anyway, she has other things to do like cooking the tea!  Have you noticed how much she burns the dinner now?  That's because she's always playing her stupid games!"

It's now time to say goodbye to my Farm and Frontierville...after planting 1500 peanuts, I suddenly realised that I was getting nothing physical out of it.  I need a tangible reward....like a new dress.  These things aren't real and it's about time I got back to the real world.

Monday, 13 December 2010

How can puppy poo be so big??

After spending the past 2 hours in the garden clearing away the winter debris I came across a lot of poo (very clearly Bart hadn't done his naughty chore!), scattered all over the lawn!!  I have no idea who is the culprit, but Chubba has been trained to "go" in the bushes, so I have to assume the Peewee is to blame (very clearly Chubba is not doing his job either!!), unless we have a great Dane visiting!

I wouldn't mind so much if it was to the side of the lawn near the borders, but as I was walking over to the veg garden I must have stepped into about 10 pats...which were the size of a cow or at the very least, the size that I assume that the visiting great Dane would do!!!  They are massive!  As you can see, from my exclamation marks, I'm in shock. Peewee is half the size of Chubba.  The bag I collected from the garden must weigh more than Peewee, himself. In fact I can honestly say that the bag was bigger than Peewee.

BH told me that there was a lot of poo, but I wasn't prepared for this.  He also said that he would clear it up at the weekend, but didn't. The men in my house have a lot to answer for, particularly as it seems that Peewee isn't learning from Chubba, but what is more worrying, is Peewee's poo an indicator for the size he's going to become?

Christmas is a nightmare....and so is my friend's life!

This morning after I dropped the kids off, I met up with Marion for a quick coffee before I braved the crowds.  I was hoping that it would be quite and I would get a place to park, but obviously as everyone had the same thought I spent 20 minutes fighting to find a parking space.  No sooner had I spotted one than some great 4x4 swooped in to the space I had earmarked for myself.  Luckily I escaped unscathed, but I saw a couple of arguements happening and was rather pleased with myself that I didn't have to fight with anyone.

Anyway, I met with Marion at Starbucks, and all I can say is that she was red-eyed and puffy faced. I have a feeling that she had been crying all weekend. She told me that she had gone to the office after she left us last week and ransacked the office.  She found, stashed away in the filing cabinet, his credit card statement, and information that she needed to confirm what she wanted to know.  She didn't go into too much detail, except to say that she smashed his computer and threw the rubbish on the floor..but cleaned it all up after her crying jag, so that the cleaners didn't have to do it or see the mess!!

She told me that "He" had arrived home on Friday and had phoned from the airport for her to collect him. She now knew about the "russian", and had spent the whole weekend rowing. "He" wasn't going to leave her, but wanted to spend time with the "russian" as they had a....wait for it....a connection!!  WTF!!  Two children with the same man, I think may be connection enough!! Marion has been married for 20 years, and feels that she doesn't want to throw the marriage down the tube just for a fling!! What can I say? All I could do was give her a hug and send her on her way! 

From what  Jude told me "He", met her in a club on the golfing holdiday last year.  She's in her 30's and worked in the club.  We've decided that she will now be renamed as "The russian lap-dancer", if only to make us feel better. "He" is really no oil painting, massively over-weight, at least 20 years older, and like's to flash the cash! I would imagine that the "russian lap-dancer" thinks she's on to a good thing...if only she knew!

BH is still not going on any golfing holidays!!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I want to swear...

I find it really easy to swear and have a list of choice words up my sleeve, which I can use on a regular basis depending on who I am speaking with.  I find it hard to swear on paper though! BH swears like a trucker and often does it front of the kids which sends them into either a paroxysm of giggling, or into lectures of anti-swearing.  Now, I'm the first one to be disgusted when I hear a small child using foul language and often blame the parents...but I live in a glass house so I shouldn't be throwing stones should I?  

I don't always notice when I'm swearing and I know BH doesn't either, but being reminded by your small children that you swear like a trooper is a little bit of a shocker.  A lot of the time I do it for effect and humour, but sometimes I forget where I am.  

This morning I caught Finn telling Miriam that she was a "biatch" because she was making him put his toys away.  When Miriam protested and told him he was a "scumbag", he ran crying to me saying that Miriam was nasty to him. He defended himself by saying that "You said, that you didn't want a bitch as there were too many in the house!"  
I told him that I wasn't talking about human beings, but was indicating the canine species.

"But I know you meant girls, because we don't have any girls dogs". 

"I shouldn't have said it" I countered "It was meant as a joke!"

"You shouldn't say bad words," he repled  "even in jokes. And anyway, I copy you...it's not fair that you're making me swear...anyway she said a bad word to me!"

 He's right you know.  I can't perceive someone elses tolerance of bad language even if made in jest. 

"OK, if I promise not to do it anymore, then you must promise not to do it either.  It's not nice, and it's not clever.  We have to learn to be more intelligent about our repsonses made in anger or as a joke.  Now go and say sorry to Miriam.". 

Later, when Miriam was painting her nails at the kitchen table, (whilst I ran around getting her coffee, and scratching her nose because she didn't want to smudge her nails) I asked her not to call Finn a scumbag, even if he sometimes behaved like one.  "Try and choose another word. A nicer word, a softer word, a word that describes him."

"But Mrs M," she said nonchalantly, blowing on her nails "I sink zat Finn, should get himself a sense of humour...it is not good zat he cannot laff at himzelf!"  

So, Miriam has an excellent sense of humour but my child is offended because someone said a bad word, eventhough he said one himself.

Oh dear, I think I'm going to have to toughen up my son!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Student Protests.

I know this is probably going to make me unpopular, but I'm actually quite proud of our student population. In a country where apathy is usually the norm, our student body has taken action, are rallying and protesting about the governments proposed increase into student fees for university education.

As a mother with three children who are too young to make a stand, this proposal potentially scuppers their chances of attending university should they decide to at a later date. I can't afford to help all three, which means all of them will suffer because our leaders have decided that education is at a price!! Why should it be the rich that has the luxury of sending their children for further education? Once again, the ruling classes are dictating the future of the potential leaders of this once great country.

Unlike Scotland and Wales (no disrespect intended to you), at the moment most graduates leave University with a debt of around £18,000. The student finance is not free but levied with a lowish interest rate once it is taken out. Courses are around £3,200 per year, with a living allowance of £3,000. This is to pay their rent, food, bills and books they may need for the course. £3,000 per year is not a lot to live on, and most of these students supplement their loans with a part-time job, or if they are really lucky with help from their parents.

In the future, the fees plan to rise to a staggering £9,000 per year with an average of around $7,000 for most courses. This would bring the average debt a student leaves with (at the lowest) of £30,000. It seems ridiculous increase at a time when we should be discouraging debt, due to the lack of available work, lack of affordable housing...where are these kids going to earn the money to pay back such astronomical amounts? Wages are not increasing, but the cost of living is.

I agree that perhaps some of the vocational "courses" and degrees should not be eligible for a funding and should be withdrawn. I've always believed that the skills we (the country) need (and because we recruit from outside the EU), should be available free. I also agree with the Student Union when they proposed a government Levy (tax), should and when the graduates earn vast amounts. This then would be paid back. The government wants their cake and they want it now! How short-sighted! Short-term plans for short term gains.

What is the real plan of this coalition government? Me, I believe it is to keep the working classes "down", to ensure that the rich remain the ruling class, to keep our youth uneducated, to stifle their futures and to make certain that this continues to remain a fascist country.

I'm not sure many of my own friends would agree with me, but I am proud they have taken a stand. Whilst I agree that the violence doesn't lend it's self to a successful media campaign, and is not something I am advocating, the fact that they are in the media shows how passionately they feel about it. Do you remember the Parliament Square inhabitants/protesters? No, no-one else does either, yet it has been there since 2001. Anti-war, the group set up peacefully to protest about various issues, yet no one took a blind bit of notice of them. That's how successful they were.

These children are the voices of my children and I say...I think you're amazing!!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

No time like a present!

I love christmas and birthdays, as BH buys me the most amazing presents. Me...I'm rubbish at getting him anything that resembles a "desire, want or wish", and end up getting him the most practical of items. Last year I bought him a pair of ski gloves, a garden vac, and some aftershave (which seems to end up in Barts room!).

For my birthday this year, BH bought me a ipad...I was so excited and shocked, I think the excitement nearly made me faint! BH kept asking me, "Do you like it? Do you like it?"...I think he was more excited at my reaction! I keep wracking my brain for a "surprise" for BH that will knock his socks off. It's not that I lack imagination (probably is) but he really doesn't want or need anything unusual...apart from a pair of cowboy boots!!

I've bought him a crate of wine from the wine club, and I had to tell him because I was so pleased with myself and I've already given him the ipod case, so all I've got to give him on the day is a pair of socks with his name on! What do you give the man who wants nothing? Nothing?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

It's all going downhill...

Yesterday, I met with "the girls" for our annual Christmas lunch...no drinks as I was driving! It is always a practical event as Marion organises a little shopping jaunt post lunch so that we are able to fit in a bit of Xmas buying. Some of the other mums join us and it's nice to catch up sans men. We can talk about them without the interjection of rugby or golf!

Yesterday though, Marion brought a little shocker to the table. She was unusually subdued, but I'd put that down to the fact that her mum had been unwell. I'd been seated next to her and could feel her agitation. I'd been laughing with Jude about her reluctance to shop (and spend money) despite the fact that her hubby a partner in an accountancy firm. She had decided to shop at Poundland this year and was impressed with the vast array of gifts she could get...all for a pound. Her hubby is to do the three peaks challenge next year and she bought him an emergency tent...just in case. Anyhow, just as I was choking on my coffee, Marion turned to me and asked "If your BH left the country, and you didn't know where he was, would you be worried?"

Now BH regularly leaves the country, but I generally pack for him and I always know where he is going although I may not be too interested. I'm more interested in him leaving the house so I can have a quite night in watching what I want to watch on the TV and a Turkish delight all to myself (I hate sharing!).

I had to do a double take as I wasn't too sure what she meant "What do you mean? How do you know he's left the country?"

"Well, he's taken his passport, an overnight bag and I can't contact him. He's text me to say he's gone for a few days and now he won't answer my calls or texts."

I must say I was shocked and gradually the raucous table quietened, listening.

"Well, I'm sorry Marion, but I think that's totally unacceptable" I said "he can't not tell you where he is...isn't that in the rules?"

She smiled sadly and my heart wanted to break for her.

"Oh, I thought so, but I wasn't sure if I was overreacting"

"No honey, it's unacceptable."

The lunch came to an abrupt end, and I was so depressed that I went straight to pick the kids up from school.

When BH got home from work I asked him if he knew anything, as they do the odd round of golf together and see each other at Sunday's rugby.

"Oh yeah" he said completely nonplussed. "He mentioned some Russian he met in Spain when they all went for the "Men only Golf tour". He's been chatting with her online apparently...I think it's a mid-life crisis, personally.

I'm not sure if Marion still knows where her husband is and BH had better not think he's going on any "tour"!!!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

I think I've broken my knees....

Peewee has settled in nicely and gets on very well with Chubba. Chubba plays with him like a doting grandfather and although it's nice to see, I just wish they wouldn't play fight near my feet. If I move into another room, they chase after my feet and tumble and flail, with gnashing teeth and deep throaty growls. I know they're enjoying themselves, but my poor feet seem to be the focal area for their games!

This morning whilst I was emptying the teapot, Peewee tangled himself between my legs. Now, if I had been younger, lighter and fitter, I would have been able to simply hop over him and nimbly land on my two feet...unfortunately I landed on my knees! Collapsing into a heap, the pain and nausea was too much to bear and I lay face down moaning, with lovely loyal Chubba kissing/licking my face, trying (I believe) to revive me. Peewee had scuttled off to a corner and sat watching.

BH heard the grunts (it's how he described it!), and came running into the kitchen shouting "What did you do? What happened? GET UP!!". Why is it that he always shouts when I hurt myself, demands answers and expects me to reply coherently?
I found it difficult to reply in the usual nice manner and uttered "F*ck off and leave me alone!"
I sometimes think he thinks I've gone deaf.
"Just piss off" I slurred through the agony. I couldn't quite workout whether I had broken my knees.
"CAN YOU GET UP?" I know he loves me and cares, but I have never been able to stand the fact that he almost seems to be angry with me for hurting myself!
"Leave me alone..please!"

I continued to lay face down for about 5 minutes, before I was able to haul myself into a sitting position...the nausea almost poleaxed me into a prone position again! Thankfully the kids were engrossed in the usual morning TV crap and didn't have to see their mother lying in an apparent drunken coma.

BH helped me to my feet.
"It's lucky you didn't break anything" he said.
"Why" I asked
"Well....you wouldn't have been able to iron my shirts, or take the boys to rugby in the morning!"

Thanks BH, your support is overwhelming!!!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Liars and excusers..

No one can bear liars, but I forgive them because they are either not brave enough or strong enough to deal with the consequences of the truth. But what about those who make excuses for their actions? "I did it because so and so made me do so" or "I did it, but I was suffering from blah, blah". Is it excusable? For me, excusers are worse than those who lie. The liars do it for a reason, either to protect themselves or to protect others. The ones who make excuses are deluding themselves, and although appearing to accept responsibility are placing the blame on the shoulders of something or someone else.

This morning, as Bart was brushing his teeth, he was as usual fiddling around with the loo roll. He'd decided to unravel the roll and re roll it. I have no idea why nor does he, but he thought it would be a good idea. However, during the process he dropped the whole lot down the toilet, but instead of fishing it out, he flushed the toilet to get rid of the evidence. Well, our plumbing is not the most efficient being an aged 1920's with little updating made apart from the usual lick and a spit. Anyway, as it appeared that the roll was not flushing itself away but appearing to grow larger, Bart decided to flush again. The toilet bowl overflowed and the first I knew of the incident was a yelp from Mimi who cried "Mummy, someone is spitting at me!" There through the light fitting was drip, drip, drip onto Mimi's head. I rushed upstairs but the bathroom door was locked (why do they need to lock the door when they are doing something as innocent as brushing teeth?).
"Bart, what are you doing" I shouted through the door "Open this door now!"
"Nothing, and I can't open the door"
"Why can't you open the door"
"Because I'm on the loo, and I can't reach the door!" he called sounding very calm
"Bart, there is water coming through the ceiling! Open this door now!"
I could hear him splashing through the water to the door, and the door opened. Bart looked a bit sheepish.
"For gods sake...what have you done?" I screamed.
"Nothing! I didn't do nothing" Clue..double negative makes a positive so apart from the actual evidence he'd admitted guilt in my eyes already.
"Where did this water come from then? Did it just appear?
"It wasn't me, it was the toilet...it just overflowed...somehow..I don't know how"
I was tempted to make him clear it up himself, but I knew that it would take him all day, and I didn't have time for that, plus I didn't want the ceiling coming down on Mimi while she was eating her breakfast.
"Right, get out. Get out and get dressed." I shouted as I flung the laundry basket over the floor, then pulled out all the bath towels and laid them over the laundry to mop up the water.

In the car, I questioned Bart again. "What happened?"
"I don't know, mummy...water just started coming over the top of the toilet."
"So...was it a huge poo? Or did you stuff something down there? If you don't tell me the truth you're going to hell in a basket" I have no idea why I said this, but it sounds pretty dramatic!
"It just fell out of my hand.."
"What did?"
"The toilet roll..Finn was banging on the door, and he made me drop it down the toilet."
At this point Finn calmly looked at his older brother and said
"Don't blame me. I wasn't even in the same room...I will not take responsibility for this"

It was then I realised that excusers annoy me more than liars. I will never trust liars, but excusers will always have an answer for their bad behaviour. Bart now needs to understand that there are still consequences for his actions (not for the actual incident, but for blaming his brother and trying t0 wriggle out of it!)...I'm going to make him pick up the dog poo in the garden...once I've sorted out the electrics, the wet floor and the extra washing!!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

How is it that I'm easy?

Its been three weeks since Peewee (aptly named by Mimi), joined our household, and he's settled in as though he's always been here. Chubba has taken him under his paw, and together they make forays into the garden, sniffing, doing their business and "reading the papers" as my ma says. They make a handsome couple and Peewee is never far from Chubba's watchful eye.

Persuading BH to get Peewee, was easy. "Chubba will teach him the rules" was one persuasion. "It will teach the kids a sense of responsibility" was another. Walking him won't be a problem as I always do it anyway, and in my own weird way I plan to train him with love, after all I've potty trained 3 kids and never lost my temper. I know, I know, like kids dogs and puppies need to know the boundaries, they need to know how far they can push and they need to know who's boss...and it isn't me! Peewee has me feeding him by hand. He just won't chow on down like most dogs but insists I sit beside during each one of his 4 meals per day. BH says that he doesn't do it to him so why do I have the problem?

"You're a pushover!" stated BH "Every time the kids do something naughty, you laugh. It's the same with the dogs...you think him savaging my shoes is sweet! You laugh when he dives into the paper basket and rips up the paper. You won't laugh when he gets bigger and he does it to amuse you and he starts gnawing on the kitchen units."

He's right though. Naughty things the kids do amuse me. I can't get angry because it shows their wicked humour and I'd rather a child with wit and personality than a child afraid to do anything because it may anger me. It's the same with the dogs. I don't see it as a struggle for power but as them expressing themselves. If it's dangerous, then that's very different.

I spoke with Marion, and she agreed with BH. "They need to know who's the boss. They need to have respect and they need to know how far to take it. My kids know who's the boss in my house" Marion rules with an iron rod. The kids do their homework on the kitchen table in front of her, they would never answer her back for fear of being banished to their rooms, and they never get dirty! I sometimes wish I could be as fierce, but then I fear a backlash later. In years to come, would they ever visit me? Would they remember the strict parenting and hold it against me? Would they love me? You see that is probably the real issue. I want to be loved. I want my children to love me when I'm an old lady. I want them to look back and say, "My mum was a lovely mother. She was kind to animals and children and everyone loved her". It's unlikely though that they'll remember my amazing sense of humour or my kindness to animals.

I'll most likely be remembered for my terrible taste in music, my inability to drive on a motorway and my horrendous shoe collection which dates back to 1989.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Don't go to school in your PJ's!

Yesterday morning I decided that the chaos at home deserved more attention than my attire. The school bags had been lost and the packed lunches hastily cobbled together. The shopping hadn't been done this week because the new puppy couldn't be left on his own...and anyway I didn't want him destroying the relatively new kitchen!!

As usual, Miriam (au-pair) was lazing in her pit, while Armageddon was close to destroying her slumber. She was planning on visiting 82 year old Mrs B down the road to do some cleaning and needed to get some well needed rest before the onslaught of cups of teas and more rest. Now I've seen Mrs B's house, and I know for a fact that no cleaning gets done. I've told her she's taking money under false pretences and I've told Mrs B to make her earn her money, but it all falls on deaf ears. Mrs B thinks Miriam is a sweet girl (she is), and she needs a rest from us! Miriam thinks Mrs B is a sweet old lady who only really needs a chat! I say they are welcome to each other.

Anyhoo, because BH dashed off to the office extra early, he didn't wake me up which meant there was no time to get dressed. I thought it unlikely that I'd need to get out of the car, and as we were running late there would be no one around anyway.

Mimi was the first to notice something amiss as we drove to school.

"Mummy, why haven't you brushed your hair?"
"Mummy was a bit busy this morning"
The boys were busy fighting, as usual. In my haste, I'd forgotten to separate them, so they were sitting next to each other. Finn stopped punching Bart for a moment.
"Mum, did you brush your teeth?"
I suppose I could have lied, but I've always told the kids the truth as I feel that as a role model I need to set an example.
"No honey, I didn't have time"
"You always tell us it's disgusting not to brush your teeth in the morning...you said everyone has bad breath...you always say that the postman couldn't brush his teeth in the morning because you almost keel over when he knocks on the door!"

I sometimes think honesty is not always the best policy.

Pulling up into the car park, I see a few parents milling about. I wave at Victoria, who is lugging a cardboard tall ship and dropping bits of sails while shouting at Archie to get a move on. I turned to Finn and asked him if he was meant to bring in anything too?

"Like what?" he mutters
"Like a tall ship, perhaps?"
Finn looks up, his eyes wide with tears welling.
Oh bugger, he's forgotten!
"You should've reminded me!" He wails "That's it, I'm not going in. Mrs F, will get angry with me, I'll get a demerit and detention"
"But Finn, you can't not go in because you've forgotten! Tell her the puppy ate it!"
"You tell her the puppy ate it"
"Finn, I'm in my PJ's, I can't go in"
"Well it's not my fault is it? You should've been prepared"

So there I was in my PJ's, explaining to Mrs F that Finn didn't have his project because the puppy ate it. In this case honesty wasn't the best policy and I hoped that Mrs F believed me!
I also hoped she saw my dishevelled state as a mother who really does too much or as someone who sets fashion trends!! I somehow don't think so!

Puppy on-board!!

Bart (the eldest) had the stuffing knocked out of him a several months ago, whilst playing rugby. He had a black eye, and what seemed to be bite marks on his arm!! He was in a sorry state, and my heart went out to him. Who like to see their child in pain, and who wants retribution? However, I can't take my frustration out on the child who caused the pain, (apart from the fact that I wouldn't recognise him) and I can't stop Bart from playing rugby!!

"What can I do, to make it all go away? Shall I kiss it better?" I'd asked, knowing that this was a rhetorical question. I haven't yet learnt the art of manipulating a conversation to go my way.
"No..it hurts!"
"Shall I beat that boy to a pulp?"
"You won't catch him, anyway his mum would be as angry as you are now, anyway Dad said it was my own fault. I shouldn't have let him tackle me. "
Oh thanks BH, for your wonderful words of wisdom!
"...and dad said that next time, I should punch him back harder, then he'll avoid me the next time!"
Why is that men advocate violence, competitiveness and aggression? But then, I suppose that is their will to survive. BH mantra is "It is better to have fought and lost, than never to have fought at all!". I've tried pointing out the real quotation, but he is deaf to the gentler side of life.

Still, Bart was hurt but proud that he was sporting "the mark of honour". His black eye hurt and the bite marks were not showing signs of broken skin, so no need for a visit to A & E.

Sometime later, Bart appeared in the kitchen doorway. "I know what will make me feel better mum" he said looking broken and dejected.
"What's that?"

"Well, I'm really suffering at the moment and the only thing I can think of to make me feel better is....a puppy!"

"I don't think so Bart..we have Chubba here, why can't he make you feel better?"

"I need something to take my mind off this pain, and I think a puppy would help. I love Chubba, but it would also be good for him as he's geting old now, and anyway, he can teach the new puppy tricks!!" I suddenly realised that Bart had stumbled upon manipulation, just like his father. It wasn't as though his father would agree that this was the best way to manipulate, but I bet he would be proud of him nonetheless.

"I'd really be able to throw myself into looking after it, instead of worrying about myself" he stated...(WTF???).
"No Bart, it's really not a good idea".

So how come, I'm now the proud owner of a beautiful chocolate labrador???

Sunday, 7 February 2010

...sundays, rugby,

I don't know what it is about Sundays but I'd always thought they were thought they were meant to be a day of rest....somehow I find myself waking up each sunday morning thinking "let the battle commence!"

Despite the fact that BH takes the boys off to play rugby (and indulge in all things manly like a beer or two in the clubhouse) which leaves me with a potential 3 hours to indulge myself with Mimi in all things girly, it really doesn't seem to happen. Poor Mimi is stuck at the kitchen table with her pencils, with mummy cajoling "Draw mummy a nice picture of a dog!", whilst chucking van loads of washing into the machine, simulatanously emptying the dishwasher and writing the shopping list.

Miriam (the au pair), won't surface until 2, but I think if I make enough noise she might appear and offer to take Mimi to the park. I know she won't, because she never does, but I can live in hope! Then it's off to the supermarket, to buy the items needed for the school lunches, for the evening dinner, the special items that Miriam likes to make her feel at home (lots of bread, ice cream and oven chips!) and the dog food. Mimi will invariably try to make me buy her a toy ("Buy me present, lovely mummy!" How can I resist?), and will run around the aisles so that I begin to panic when she disappears out of sight for a second then chase after her, missing vital items on the list, arrive home, exhausted, empty washing machine, put on more washing, wash up the cups and plates Miriam has left in the sink (still doesn't understand the concept of the dishwasher!).

BH arrives home with Bart and Finn. Brunch on, feed, wash up, (dishwasher still full) wash boys, wash kit, wash floor (mud clumps everywhere), start dinner, feed, wash up (dishwasher still full), wash Mimi, get uniform ready, do homework, write notes, sort out lunch money, sort out bags....actually I lie...this all gets done in a rush on Monday morning, as I scramble around finding socks that might match (Miriam still in bed!), dig down the side of the sofa to see if any change has fallen out of BH's trousers! I generally fall into bed about 12...knowing that my feet hadn't touched the ground all day....and roll on Monday...some peace!

I'm not feeling sorry for myself, because I know it happens the world over...if you're not throwing some kind of kit into the machine then you're not a mother of boys..unless you've taught them to do it themselves...which isn't a bad idea! Mind you, if I left it up to BH then I'm pretty sure the white collars of those shirts would quickly become a nice shade of pink or a fetching shade of grey!! Me? I'm not superwoman, but Marion is. Her whites are whiter than white, her flower arrangements perfection, her food...well...amazing. Going to Dinner at Marions, is like going "out"!! The table is laid beautifully, she won't let you leave the table to help, the food, like I said, devine. If you need to know anything about anything, then Marion is your lady.

"Marion, " I asked (as we were walking the dogs one morning...only Jude doesn't have one, so she doesn't belong to this club...she said she's getting one as she feels left out...and we probably talk about her!) "Marion, how do you get your white so white?" I felt like I was repeating that immortal line from the TV advert...but how else can you re-phrase it?

"Darling, " she trilled " Daz and colour catchers! You can't go wrong!"

Well, she's right...although the powder has changed in properties, the colour catchers have saved me an absolute fortune, particularly now as BH no longer has to buy replacements for his offpink office attire.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

How it began....

Most women make and keep their friends from an early age, or they meet them when they first start work. I made my friends when my children began school and despite the varying age gaps it works well for us. That’s not to say that I don’t keep in touch with my “old” friends, but at the moment I have more in common with this particular group of women. Our ages range from 35 through to 55, but that doesn’t seem to matter now that we have got to know each other better.
It all began with the School Quiz night.
I remember BH, (Better half), voicing his opinion that he wasn’t particularly interested in meeting new people as he had enough friends to keep up with and this group would only add to the list…and he didn’t like the look of “those women”…they scared him! Did he have to go? I said that I had no intention in going by myself, and anyway we’d be back by 10pm, plus he didn’t have to take me out that week as this counted towards our “social life”.
I must admit, that I was fairly nervous. I had only spoken occasionally to these women and it was Victoria who had arranged the table.
“We need to make up a table from our class for the quiz night…shall I put you and your husband down? ” she’d asked
“Um, I’m not sure..can I let you know?”
“Well, they’re filling up pretty quickly, and I’d hate you to miss out. It’s a fun evening…we’re having cheese and wine!”
Well, I couldn’t say no to an evening out away from the kids…so I agreed.

"Not worry Mrs M" trilled Miriam, (our au-pair) "I look after all babies..you dress up pretty..you have many wine, and get slayed!"

"I don't think so Miriam. It's only a quiz night. We'll be back by 10...I'm sure I'm going to be pretty bored anyway" I'm still not sure what she meant by "slayed"??
Anyway to cut a very long story short...we didn't get home 'til 3 am, we got accused of cheating (we were!) , won the quiz, I got pissed (only because I was so nervous), so did all the others, laughed too loud, embarrassed myself in front of the headmaster.......with the overhead lights on full....and met four like-minded souls!
The next morning (more like afternoon), I crawled out of my pit and held my head in shame.
"I must phone to apologise for my outrageous behaviour!" I cried to BH.
"What for?" he laughed "You were all as bad as each other. Jude tried to dance on the table, but kept falling off. Stella kept telling her to take her shoes off as she'd be more likely to stay upright. Victoria wanted to take her clothes off, and you were encouraging her. Marion, well, she fell asleep straight after she tried to set fire to the flower arrangements. Tom, couldn't get her to wake up so had to hoist her over his shoulder.....then he dropped her! We all had to take an arm and a leg each and carry her to her car.....not a dignified exit I'm afraid"
"Oh my god" I wept "What must everyone think?"
Monday morning came and I armed myself with the kids and head down, marched into the school. Halfway through the gates, I heard my name called....Jude clutching her youngest ran over..
."OMG, I'm so sorry...I feel such a fool. What must you think?"

Two seconds later, we were joined by Stella and Victoria.

"Hello ladies! That was a good night! I've not had so much fun in ages...gotta do it again!"

Marion bustled over . "Helloooo. Thank your men for helping out the other night...now... what's next on the social calender? Anyone fancy coming over to us this weekend?"
...and that was how it began...


…me, of course, then there’s Jude, Stella, Marion and Victoria. We all met at the school gates several years ago, when my eldest first started at the school. Stella, Marion and Victoria already had older children there but we all had our boys in the same class. Only Jude, had another young one about to start, whilst I had another 2 waiting in the wings to join their older brother.

Weeks and months went by before we actually introduced ourselves to each other, and although the boys all played together (and fought together), I could see the other parents speculatively glancing and , sizing each other up at pick up time…is that person suitable to be my friend? Is that lady with the 15 children interested in becoming my friend? Is that a grandmother or a mother picking up? All these thoughts certainly went through my head and although I’m fairly outgoing faced with prospect of 20 very different people, all who may not even like the look of me was incredibly daunting. It didn’t help when Bart (my eldest) said to me in a fit of temper as we were leaving the playground “Nobody likes you! All my friends hate you! Even their mothers hate you…I see them staring at you!”

…..but it was the social event that threw us into our new world of friendships, where we realised that , although we were very different, each of us had something to bring to the table.

Next time….Our first social event!

That's me...

What is it about the gates of a school that sends every mother back to their own school days?

I remember being dropped off at the school gates with my mother watching me and my three brothers as we scurried into school with the hundreds of others who had the privilege of walking the short distance from their homes. Mum never walked through thoses gates unless it was to attend a parents evening. Infact it was rare to see a parent on the school premises unless someone set fire to the back of the bike sheds with their illicit smoking! My mum never got to know the other parents of my school friends, unless we were invited for an overnighter, however that was a rare occurance as many never invited me as the recipricol agreement meant them staying with us…..three younger brothers and a sister meant no privacy!

Now, standing here watching and waiting for my own off-spring as they leave to start their day at school, I wonder how they will see their past school days. Will they look at the time I spend taking them to and from school as an important time. I know I savour the time spent with the other mothers, mainly for a gossip and to find out what is really going on within the school.

The social side of the school is also an advantage for the opportunity to make new friends. Parents seem to make more of an effort to be a part of the school, (although, I’m sure the teachers are not best pleased about the interference), raising money, organising fetes, sales, etc. The parent’s association within my school is “all-powerful” and a little bit intimidating.

As my children are so young, I’m not sure I have the time to involve myself in the politics of the school, but I’m sure I’m going to have fun!


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