Saturday, 22 January 2011

What will I do at University mummy?

Finn came home from school yesterday, and was looking a little disconcerted and a little out of sorts.  He kept looking in his school bag, taking out his books and pencils then replacing them.

"Whats up honeybum?" When I call him honeybum, he giggles and tells me I always get it wrong...but this time he wasn't giggling and something was amiss as he wasn't hearing me. Not listening and hearing are two different things in my book.

"OHH (ala Ness)..wha's occurin'?"  Finn looked up, his eyes as big as saucers, with tears just filling the edge of the lids.

"What will I do at University?" he asked "Will they make me do maths..only I'm not very good at maths. Or will I have to do spelling? I don't know what to do! "

"Hey, hey...what's brought this on? I asked

"Oliver and Jamie were talking about what they were going to do at University. Oliver's going to be a Doctor, and Jamie is going to be an actor. And Ben went to University too. If I don't go to university, I won't be able to buy any comics, will I?"

Ben is my sister's lovely son, who appears at high days and holidays, all glamorous, louche and a bit of a cad  by the looks of it.  Sis nagged him to get a job telling him that "no-one gets a job by sitting on their bum". Ben is the only person I know who is able to get a job sitting on his bum!  He was in a nightclub one night (when else?) when a scout approached him to work in their store as their model. He was sitting playing the Wii with the kids the other day, when his phone rang, with the caller offering him a job in their gym...he hadn't even applied!

Now bearing in mind Finn is only 8, I wonder whether he's getting a bit ahead of himself.  Now Bart on the other hand is decidedly unconcerned about his future.

"I'm going to make a pile of dosh., then I'm going to spend the summer in the Caribbean water-skiing and the winters in Canada skiing"

I can see Bart achieving his ambitious goals, but Finn, unfortunately is a worrier. At the moment it's the fear that he won't be able to buy comics, later it will the fear that he won't be able to provide for his family.  He watches the TV, and sees the news and asks the questions.

"If they can't afford to go to University mum, will they get a job?"
"Will the price of fees be more when I go?"
"Do you have to be very rich to go to university?"

These are the questions that I try to answer honestly knowing that he is worrying about something in the future and trying to put his mind at ease.  It's no use saying to him "Don't worry, as I know that he will."

I just hope that he has the opportunity to do whatever he wants to do!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Mummy or pancakes...they've decided!

Arriving home this afternoon, I was greeted with the joy and love....and that was from the dogs!

Mimi was surprised to see me..."But mummy..I thought you weren't coming home for another sleep! I wanted to eat pancakes for tea. Miriam promised!" 
"Sorry to disappoint you sweetie, shall I go again?"

"Yes please mummy.  Can you come back a bit later?"
Finn was even more upset. "But Mum, Dad was going to take me to get a pair of rugby boots tonight and we were going to eat pancakes!"
Looks like I've scuppered their plans for this evening! What on earth makes them think that their carefully laid plans are going to be upset? Am I such an ogre that I would stop their little pleasures.

BH was disappointed too!

"Aww..Miriam was going to make her special pancakes...I was looking forward to them!"  So, it sounds like Miriam is a bit of a whizz in the kitchen...a talent I never knew she possessed. She hates the kitchen and seems to live off bread, cheese and cornflakes.

"It's OK guys. Miriam can make the pancakes and I can enjoy them with you."

Miriam declined.

"Now you're home...I go out. Your family is crazy and I need some space.  Ciao!"

Now it seems I've disappointed the family by arriving home, on the appointed hour.  Bart was the only one that made sense.

"Mum, it's not you.  Miriam's been bigging up her pancakes for the past 2 days.  She knew you were coming home today and I think had no intention of making them. She can't even cook baked beans, so I don't think her pancakes will be up to much."

BH asked "What shall we eat then?".
"I don't know...find something in the freezer"
As he walked away I could hear him muttering. "I was looking forward to those pancakes too!"

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Do I feel guilty? Of course I do..I'm human too!

I'm off again tomorrow for a few days (again...but this happens frequently), and am running around like a loony trying to play catch up and prepare for the week ahead. I'll worry about Peewee and the soft furnishings, I'll worry about the homework and the nutritious food that they won't be doing or getting...but there's little I can do about it, so I try and forget about it and have a moan when I get back. 

I've got the ironing to do and I'm sitting here writing my blog when I should be doing 1000 other things of more importance. BH keeps looking over my shoulder, asking me what am I doing and have I ironed his shirts yet...get lost!

While I look forward to some "me" time, I really feel guilty about being so far away.  They all love me when I get home and I know that they will  miss me, cry and beat their chests wailing,

"Mummy, don't go.  Do you have to go?".

Well, the answer could easily be no, but unfortunately it's always a yes.  I always buy them a gift though, just to assuage the guilt that surfaces each time I begin to enjoy being alone.  The gifts are gifts of guilt and the kids know it as they pounce on the case each time I return.

"What have you got me, mummy?" asks Mimi as soon as I step through the door. 

They are always happy, appear undamaged, and pleased that I am home, but I think the gift may have something to do with it....even Peewee has learnt to jump into the fray, sniffing the luggage in case something appears for him. 

On one occasion I didn't have time to buy them something, so I stopped off at the petrol station and bought them a Freddo the frog chocolate bar each.  They were just as happy and I realised that it wasn't the gift that was important, but the fact that I had thought about them while I was away.

I'm often asked how I could leave them?  I know I do have a choice and I don't moan about it but it's what I do. I work away from home.  I'm lucky I have a great support network.  Jude takes them into school. Ma picks them up. Miriam looks after them until BH comes home. Sometimes BH does it all.  Most of the time I do. And so far, it's worked well for us all.  I believe that I'm teaching them that sometimes we have to do the things we don't want to do; I'm teaching them to be independent (to a certain extent) and when they grow up, they'll be thankful for all of the lessons learnt in the childhood......fingers crossed.

I know it's not a good way of dealing with absence and showering them with gifts on each return teaches them no values of any worth at all.

But I don't care. 

The gifts are for me. 

They make me feel better.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Changing the habits of a lifetime...diets are bad for me!

I've just been told to eat more if I want to lose weight. Whilst I know that it's logical, the thought of eating more food is really playing havoc with my thought processes.  I've spent the past 20 odd years starving myself so that I could fit in to my size 10 skinnies and now surprisingly find that I can't even fit into a size 12!

Beautiful Ben (my nephew), has asked me to keep a food diary for the next 7 days, so that he can analyse my eating habits and see where the problem lies.  He's told me that most people put on the unexplained weight due to stress or issues within the individual and can generally pinpoint the problems when looking at the body.  He's a devotee of Charles Poliquin, a gentleman who is a renowned strength coach. Never heard of him!  It seems that he's very popular amongst the athletic fraternity.  Now I don't want to be an athlete, but I'd like a little bit more energy....and be able to fit into those size 10 skinnies!

Every New Year BB tells me that he has an influx of new clients.  January is always a busy time for him, but it generally peters out towards the end of the month. Only about 30% of his new clients remain. He tells me that his regular clients train throughout the year and it's usually the specific goal oriented ones who are committed and are able to stay focused. The ones who want to lose weight with no real goals in mind, fall by the wayside.

So now Beautiful Ben wants to take a picture of me (for reference) dressed in my shorts and vest so that I will be able to see my progress.  I'm baulking slightly as now even my knees seem to have cellulite and it's not really something I want anyone else to see.
But it got me thinking about my own I a poor role model? Am I setting up Mimi for problems later on with my constant stream of fad diets?  While the boys and Mimi are sitting at the table with their very nutritious meat and veg, I'm usually sitting with them munching on my salad and jacket potato.  I ply them with fruit, carrot sticks and nuts but will generally forgo them myself because the fruit has sugar in, and the nuts are have a high calorie content.  I don't have a sweetie cupboard and I don't buy crisps and cakes.  So what am I saying to them?  Don't eat this stuff because eventually it will kill you or that mummy won't buy them because she'll get fat?  I don't take the kids food shopping with me because I know that they'll want the stuff on the shelves.  I don't take BH because I know that he'll overload the trolley with ice cream, biscuits and muffins...but is that for me or is that for him?  I know the answer...I don't want the temptation.  And the kids have to eat carrots! Not really fair is it?

It's not to say they don't have sweets or "treats". They do.  Ma feeds them all sorts of rubbish, (and I don't have an issue with that!), and they love her for it.  They know where the sweetie tin is, and they know that she'll greet them with a cookie and a fizzy drink. But that's what Grans do, so I don't mind.

BB tells me, that it not a diet I need (he refuses to call it a diet as it has the wrong connotations), but about eating what's right for me, about what I'm intolerant to (he says that my cravings for jacket potatoes probably means that they are not the right food for me...oh bugger!), and about boosting my energy levels!  Apparently, by dieting for so many years the body is now laying down all fat for the reserves when my body goes into famine stage. BB says this is not the way I should be teaching the kids about food. Food keeps you alive.  Food is good!

I so need this. I'm looking forward to him own personal my own house!  The kids will have a big brother as a role model, and BH will now have someone to talk rugby with!!  Oh joys!!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The mess in the kitchen....and I've gone detective!

I missed their first day back to school, but left it in the very capable hands of BH and Miriam (the au-pair). I had made sure their clothes were laid out and their bags packed and all that was needed was a pre-school bath night and breakfast in the morning.  Not too difficult why is that walking into the house this morning did it look like I'd been away for several years.  The kitchen resembled the aftermath of a tornado, and Peewee had assembled a various assortment of school clothing in his bed and was chewing happily on a trainer.  The house is empty bar the dogs, but I feel as though I'd trudged into Armageddon! I don't usually like to leave home for too long for fear that they'll have moved away without telling I wish they had!

I don't expect too much from Miriam.  I only have to open her door to freak out slightly.  I'm not even sure she's in the room when I peer in, for the piles of clothes on the floor which resemble several large bodies.  She does have a wardrobe but that usually houses a few empty coat hangers, and her suitcase....and she couldn't possibly use it, could she?   But that's beside the point. I have no truck with her room...if she wants to live in a tip then that's her prerogative, as long as she doesn't spread it around the house.  I often wonder how she looks so immaculate, when her room is such a mess!  She often leaves me her washing (when the urge takes her to tidy her room), with notes attached to the items that need a gentle hand-wash...and I oblige!!  I must be mad.

BH clearly has no control so he's getting the sack! The thing with BH, he's too soft.  I can see their PJ's in the living room, so they obviously got dressed in front of the TV this morning.  I can just see them, vacantly gazing at the TV, while he manhandles them into their uniforms. They won't dress themselves if the TV is on, the one reason I've banned TV watching in the morning.  BH thinks it's a brilliant baby-sitter, particularly when he's reading the paper! I hope he suffered!

But today, I'm a bit cheesed off.  After four days away, and a long, miserable flight I was looking forward to hopping into bed for a couple of hours (with my lovely new heated blanket...ohh such bliss!), but am now faced with a mountain of dirty clothes, a filthy floor, and a pile of washing up!!  I've just found a slice of salami down the side of the chair and it looks like they've had a food fight in the kitchen, as there's dried up corn flakes attached to the kitchen clock! There's 3 half empty (or full) milk bottles, one on the sink, one on the kitchen table and one on the counter,  and I've just spotted the remnants of last nights dinner in the oven....burnt to a cinder! I'm so tired I could weep!   If I don't do it, I'll be annoyed and if I do, do it I'll be happier but annoyed. Why does no-one see the mess I do?

Who shall I kick first?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

I really don't do crafts!

No, I'm definitely not one of those mothers. I have enough on my plate without encouraging them to make collages out of the remnants of my wedding dress so that I can hang it on the wall. If they want to make something I send them to the after school club.  They proudly bring home their attempts, and I proudly display it in the kitchen for a month or two then it goes into their bedroom.  I know in years to come, I'll probably coo and marvel at their skills at a tender age, but at the moment it's more clutter to add to the clutter. I now have a clear plastic box for each of the kids.  The work they've done for the year goes in the box along with all their books.  When they leave home I reckon they'll be about 10 boxes a piece...which they will be taking with them!!

Mimi, often asks if she can bake because as she says,

"You're not very good at it, are you mummy?".

Finn begs to go to the Bake Sale, because "There are mummies that bake cakes" as if it is a wonder to behold! I must admit though, they are pretty delish, but personally I just don't have the time or the inclination. Finn also like to paint. He's brought home so many string and nail pictures that I'm afraid he's going to impale himself if he trips over in his room!  I think they may have to be moved to the attic.

Stella (school mum) popped round the other day to show off  daughters (aged 7) and her matching poncho's...which they'd knitted during the Christmas holidays (wish I had the time!).  Kez, another friend was extolling the virtues of quilting on Facebook (not actually quilting on facebook) so I phoned her to find out what had  dramatically changed in her life to exchange a few bottles of red on a quiet night to quilting!  She said "I needed some adult female company.  The boys are driving me nuts and I was drinking too least with quilting it keeps my hands busy enough to not remember that they are usually clutching a glass of red at this time of night!"

Sis impressed me though...she made her own play dough (she says she was motivated by the cost of the real stuff) and this year made her own Christmas crackers for all of us, each personally named and each with a personal gift.  I got a pair of Tiffany ear rings in mine! Definitely not motivated by cost! Lucky, lucky me!  Thank god Peewee didn't get hold of them...we'd be waiting in anticipation for the next drop!

A couple of years ago, I thought I'd try my hand at baking a birthday cake for Bart.  The plan was for a Bat Man car.  I bought some black food dye in an attempt to colour the icing (I didn't know that you could buy black icing!) but what I should have done was wear gloves to mix in the dye. The beds of my finger nails looked like they'd been down a pit and I couldn't get the dye out.  I had to go to work with  plasters over the worst offenders... so in all, I had around 6 plasters!! The cake was a disaster and I had to bribe a cake maker friend to do it for me! 

Now if they want to go surfing, or bike riding, or sailing...I'm your girl!  I love being outside, and will do all I can to encourage them into the fresh air. I like building secret camps and I love getting lost. I took them to a Maize maze a couple of years ago and Bart freaked when he thought we may never get home.  He begged me to call BH to get us out.  Finn found the way out by following the white markings on the corn (which I hadn't noticed) to which Finn stated "You couldn't have been  a very good girl guide!"  And do you know....I wasn't....I was very, very naughty!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Dyslexia...a success story!

My sister phoned me yesterday with some sad news and some...well, good news (I think).  She's moving away for a while with husband. That's the sad news, because I know I'm going to miss her.   We're very close and she's my role model because of Ben. Ben is my beautiful nephew, who is sweet, shy, funny, clever...and dyslexic. He has overcome hurdles and worked incredibly hard to put aside his problems to get where he is.  He's focused, motivated and has developed his own strategies to overcome his difficulties and I am proud that he graduated from university this year with a Bachelor of Science!  No mean feat for someone with learning issues.

Ben was diagnosed with dyslexia at 7 years old. Sis had a feeling that he was, because as she said
"I showed him flash cards from when he was born, I bought him puzzle alphabets, and every educational toy I could lay my hands.  I sent him to Montessori nursery from the age of three, and do you know what his teacher said at the parents evening?  That he was very immature! I knew then we had a problem!"

For the first couple of years Sis tried every crackpot idea going. She spun him in a chair, in the hope that his brain would somehow engage, (recommended by someone). Ben had to wear yellow tinted glasses at one point (not a cool look!), she even played tapes to him while he was sleeping!

After a while, Sis knew that the only thing that could help Ben was confidence.  The confidence to be who he wanted to be, to concentrate on the areas he was good at, but to ensure that his education didn't lack. Finding his "talent" was the key to his confidence and it wasn't long before she realised that he was an excellent sportsman. Luckily, Sis hit the right notes and pushed Ben in those areas. He went on to play rugby & badminton for the county and school, and not only that, his school work improved. He knew that the only way to get on in life was to put in the work. Playing sport improved his concentration, and gave him confidence in the class room to do his best.  He said to sis " If I have to practice at sport to get better, then it's obvious that I have to practice at overcoming dyslexia".

The school were excellent in their approach.  They already had several children with dyslexia and twice weekly the children were sent to the specialist, who showed them ways in which they could recognise their weaknesses and work around them. His form tutor instilled the importance of writing down immediate thoughts without the worry of spelling errors.  The theory being, that by concentrating on spelling the creative input would be stifled.  They would then only use the words they could spell and not the words they knew!  The  dyslexia will always be there, but to him it's not an issue anymore. He studied his passion (sports) and already has a following of loyal disciples!

Oh..and the good news?  Ben wants to move in with us for a while.  The boys are going to love having him around and I think Miriam (the au-pair), will too.  He's very pleasing on the eye..oh and he's promised to kick me into shape, so I'd better dust off the trainers and try on my tracksuit, but I have a horrible feeling it may be a bit snug!

Monday, 3 January 2011

I'm not a bad mother...I just don't like doing crafts!

The kids are fighting and so are the dogs.  It's time for them to go back to school and even though I've loved having them at home I can't wait to have the house back to myself, if only for a few hours. I wish I could be one of those mothers who take pleasure in their company, bake cakes with them, or create wonderful object d'art, but unfortunately I'm more of the "go and watch the TV" or "lets get someone over to play" type of mother who abdicates responsibility for their fun to something or someone else.  Not good for their soul I know, but soooo good for mine.  

During arguments Bart often brings in the "show stopper".

"WHO is the child, here?”

It always stops me dead in my tracks and makes me think...yes I am a terrible mother.  I look at other mothers and know they are doing a far better job than me, but I know my children and I know that they will always come and tell me what is bothering them without me apportioning blame.  They know I look at the bigger picture and see the three sides to the story.  I tell them how it is, and I don't sugar coat it. Am I mean?  Perhaps, but I like to think I live in the real world and there are some mean people out there.  I want them to be able to stand their ground and stand up for themselves.  I'm not always going to be around to protect them, am I?

Last year,  Finn came home from school.  He was upset because Mrs B kept "picking on him".  Now Finn's not a naughty boy and he worries relentlessly. If it had been Bart, I wouldn't have been surprised, but not Finn.  Finn always tries to do the right thing... Finn had mentioned it before, but I thought he was being over sensitive. But this time I sat him down and asked to tell me what was happening, step by step.  Mrs B is not too keen boys and favours the girls in the class.  After he spilled the beans, I could see that Finn was getting the blame for many things that others had done, but didn't contradict Mrs B, because as he said

"She wouldn't believe me!”
Finn it seems is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Finn now doesn't like Mrs B, so I think the feeling is mutual. But it wasn't going to last forever, and I explained to him that sometimes people don't like other people. Some people are mean and we just have to accept it or try and change it.  We couldn't like everyone, but we could try to understand why, but the good thing was that after this year, it was unlikely that he would have Mrs B as his teacher again. The choice was his.  Finn moved class at the end of the school year and Mr S thinks Finn is brilliant! 

Sis told me about Ben when he started Secondary School.  He had gone from a small prep to a state school when he was 13.  Most of Ben’s friends had gone onto other private and boarding schools, with a few moving into the state system. Ben had heard rumours of how the prep boys were bullied and knew that he had to develop a new persona. 

Ben was a rugby fiend and excelled in sports, but he was dyslexic and knew he could be a target.  Ben had told sis about the troubles he faced and came across, but it became clear that he had the reputation for being a bit of a "hard man", and this began to spill over into class.  Ben hated it because at heart he wanted to learn.  He wanted to go to university, and he hated who he had become.  One day Sis got a call from a teacher who had worries about Ben and his lack of respect for the teacher of a certain class. Sis knew of the troubles because Ben had told her and how bad he felt when he was rude.  Sis explained the reasons why and although not an excuse told her that Ben was horrified at his behaviour but couldn't stop himself.  The penny dropped for the teacher and realised that Ben was "acting" to protect himself and having spoken to someone who knew Ben realised that he needed help.

The teacher went straight to Ben and pulled him out of class, sat him down and explained that she had spoken to his mother and now knew "where he was coming from" and they would now start afresh. Ben, himself was so relieved that he apologised profusely...and so began their new relationship.  Ben excelled in her class and often stood up for her against the other classmates. A new respect for each other was formed. If not for that teacher, Ben would not have attended the university of his choice, and Ben would certainly not have become the gentle, thougtful young man that he is. The teacher took Bens' mother at her word and believed and was compassionate enough to realise that it takes all sorts,  for all reasons.

So, I may not be a good mother at times, but like sis I understand where my kids are coming from, and I hope when the time comes I can help them when they can't help themselves!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

So...what makes for a good blog? Damned if I know!

As it's a new year, I decided that I would do a bit of research to find out what makes a good blog, and change mine accordingly if that's what is needed. It's not a NY's resolution, but mine looks rather drab after reading and viewing a million "mommy blogs" realised that words alone are not going to make me popular. The American blogs are the slick, professional and achieve some purpose. Many of the UK bloggers are concerned with traffic and getting as many people to read them. "Be my 1000th follower!" "Read my 1000th post" "Follow, follow....".
They promote products, show offers, advertise their talents, and are there to either make money (how?), or to be popular in the popularity contest. Many are there to raise awareness (those are the ones I really like to follow!), and some are just like me!

I follow around 30 on twitter and am followed by even less (lucky 13! Whoops...just dropped to 12!!) and read around five blogs daily, but only if i have the time.   Who do those people with 3000 followers, follow and how on earth can they read all those tweets?

But what is the purpose of mine?  I'm not totally sure. But does it need a purpose?  If the blog is for me alone then I should be happy with the way it is or maybe I should just keep a diary. Why would I want the world to see it, if not to promote myself in some weird way?   

I've also noticed that some of the advice recommends getting a Facebook fan page. I'm not ready to unmask myself yet...and really, would my friends be pleased knowing that I'm writing about them?  Not sure that's a good idea.  The beauty of writing an anonymous blog is that no one knows who I am and I can say virtually what I want. Not that I intend to slate anyone here, I don't...its all about me and mine! Gathering comments are another way of making yourself popular.  Apparently, if you comment on someones blog they are more likely to comment on yours....I like it when people comment on twitter. It makes me feel worthy. So, I guess  that in the same way I should comment on theirs...if I could find their blog!  It's finding that balance.  I don't want to appear over keen or self promoting (I'm typically English in that always says self-praise is no praise!), but I'm not sure if the blog is depressing but then again it doesn't really matter, does it? It's mine and I can do what I want! "Proof reading", "Cut out the chaff"...both of those I'm rubbish at. So in it goes, mistakes and all!

Bart has said that if I plan on using what I write on here as a book, then he wants 80% as it's about him and should feature in the profits!!  He's even said that he would give me a few extra lines to use and maybe will throw in a few stories!

So while I spend the next few weeks adjusting the layout, planning it's pages and making it look extra interesting, I will also be pondering the reason for me being here. If anyone could tell me I would be very grateful!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year...welcome in, 2011

It's 23.54 on New Years Eve. The fireworks are  already filling the air with thuds and bangs, and I'm imagining  everyone dancing and singing in the new year. My babies are all in bed, BH is flying through the night from a far flung destination, the dogs are fighting at my feet, Peewee keeps nipping me (by accident, I hope) and I am sitting here, alone, reflecting on the past year.

It's probably far from unusual for many people, but its something I've never done before.  New Year was always a bit of an anti-climax. People trying to make merry, forced gaiety, dancing madly and trying to snog anyone they can lay their hands on. It's the one night I've always felt uncomfortable with. Men making a beeline and me ducking to avoid their well aimed kisses. Usually at midnight, I try to lock myself in the toilet (accidentally) missing the very sad and depressing "Auld Lang Syne".  It's not to say I haven't experienced rough times, I have, but 2010 has been a bit relentless. I've always believed that those who wish the year to end are wishing their lives away but I can see that it's the symbolism of new beginnings which is important.

Tonight, I've had a million texts from new friends and old friends, the friends who have been with me throughout my journey, wishing us all hopes for a better year to come. In many ways I'm  glad to have experienced 2010 the way I have. The many people I have met, supported, who have supported me, kept me sane, and made me laugh and have faith when it was nigh on impossible to believe in a future.  The year is not mine alone, and the story is not just mine to tell. just yet. But one day, I will. I've made new beginnings.....and today is that new beginning.

Peace, Love and Happiness.....


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