Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Secret Post Club - April

This month my Secret Post Club gift came from Geriatric Mummy (and I'm not being rude, that really is what her blog is called!). She had warned me it was going to be a few days late but it was such a lovely, thoughtful gift it really was worth the wait!

Firstly she bought me a herb growing kit, as she knew I like gardening and cooking. Containing basil, thyme and coriander, the seeds come with their own mini propagator, so the seedlings can be be grown on the window sill. She thought it would be a nice activity for me to do with the girls, and now I have a veg patch, I have somewhere to plant the seedlings once they get bigger.

Secondly, in her capacity as a former holistic therapist, she made me some organic hand cream, to treat my hands after being in the garden. The cream is made from coconut oil, white camelia oil, macademia nut oil and sunflower oil. She also added essential oils of Benzoin (for dry chapped skin, irritations & wounds), Lavendar (antiseptic & antifungal) and Lemon (antiseptic). And trust me, it feels and smells wonderful!

And last but not least, she included a bar of Green & Black Raisin & Hazlenut chocolate. Honestly, what more could a girl ask for?! Thank you once again GM - it was a truly lovely gift.

The Wheat and the Chaff

I have never been a particularly political animal, and normally the prospect of a general election would not excite me. But for some reason, this year's election has sparked my interest - and it has a lot to do with Twitter and the televised Leaders Debates.

In the past, elections have probably been won or lost through propaganda, and by the way the press has portrayed the candidates. But for the first time in the UK, the general public can see the leaders of the main 3 political parties standing side by side and make their own judgements. And that's got to be a good thing, right?

Not only that, but thanks to the wonders of Twitter, online forums and opinion polls, people can share their opinions 'live' and in the moment, sparking conversation, thought and debate. And that's got to be a really good thing, right?

For the past 2 weeks I have eagerly awaited each of the live Leaders Debates, and with my laptop poised have commented on, and read other people's thoughts on, proceedings. Some of the debate is trivial "Isn't his face shiny" (Cameron), "Aren't his ears big" (Brown), "Wow, who's the new boy?" (Clegg) but other times people with far more political insight than me are highlighting the potential flaws in policies, disputing facts and figures, and generally bringing the whole process of government and politics to life.

Before I watched the first debate I, like everyone, had my own preconceived ideas. I thought Gordon Brown was a good, decent man but lacked the charisma to win an election. I thought David Cameron was a smooth-talking orator who would beguile the public with the promise of 'change'. And Nick Clegg - well, I didn't even know what he looked like til about 2 weeks ago!

But having watched 2 of the 3 debates I have already changed my mind - there's nothing like a good honest debate to sort the wheat from the chaff! Gordon Brown seems an extremely knowledgeable, passionate orator. David Cameron has seemed surprisingly uncomfortable and easily ruffled under pressure. And Nick Clegg - well, who would have thought it!

No one of the leaders has completely won me over yet and I'm still considering which way I will cast my vote. But whichever way I swing, I feel happier that this time I will have been more actively involved in the decision-making process, and not just swayed by the press, or the most impressive PR campaign.

The Power of 1,2,3......

I'm not sure exactly when it began, but at some point around the time my eldest was starting to get defiant and downright awkward, I started counting to 3.

Every time I told her to do something, she would do the opposite. So one day, having tried everything else, I just shouted, "Right, I'm going to count to 3. 1.......2......" and to my surprise and delight she did what she was told.

Now I never actually said what would happpen if I reached 3 - it was just an unspoken understanding that it would be something unthinkably bad! And from that day on, whenever I felt myself getting to the end of my tether, I just started counting in a menacing way.

She's nearly 5 now and it still works. It's most effective at bedtime, when she's stalling for time. And, to be fair, my menacing counting now contains the added bonus of 2 and a half, and 2 and three quarters, just to increase my bargaining time. Sometimes I don't even get past 1. Other times she'll shout "Don't count mum!" and do what she's told straightaway.

So when all else fails, never underestimate the power of 1,2,3...... Although I'm not expecting it to still be as effective when she's a teenager, wanting to wear unsuitable clothes and date inappropriate boys. But until then, I'm making the most of it!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Oh No Mojo, Where Did You Go?

I have been without my mojo for a few days now and I'm beginning to miss it terribly.

It all started when I discovered yet another example of how someone I know through my business had betrayed me. First I was angry (how dare they), then I was sad (I hate it when people disappoint me) and then I felt numb.

I decided I could do one of three things - fight back, give up or sleep on it. All of the advice I was given was the former - "don't let the bastards get you down", "stay strong", "be better" and yes, of course, that's the positive, brave thing to do. But in truth it has made me question whether I'm as strong as I'd like to be.

I hate confrontation of any kind and avoid it at all costs. This is why many of the problems I have had with friends and family members have remained unresolved and locked away. So to find more unpleasant, potentially confrontational situations in my business life is unnerving and unwelcome.

The petulant child in me wanted to stamp my foot, throw my toys out of the pram and give up. But even I know that is an overreaction. So I decided "when in doubt, do nowt". So I sent my mojo on an impromptu mini-break while I soaked up the sunshine, made myself busy in the garden, watched films, and enjoyed the girls' last days of the school holidays.

This week though things need to get back to normal - my eldest child goes back to school and my partner goes back at work. So it's time for me to slot back into 'work mode'. But my mojo has yet to make a reappearance. So, just in case you see or hear from them, can you pass on a message:

"I miss you and I want you to come home. I know we can work through this and hopefully be the stronger for it. Just please, please come home - we have some important decisions to make."

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Tummy Tuck

On a day to day basis you don't even notice, because it happens so gradually - insidiously even. But then one day the realisation hits you and there's no going back - you are overweight and it's all your own doing.

Over the months the tops you've bought may have become longer and baggier. Shopping for clothes now is more about coverage and disguise than fashion.

You may have ended up opting for black, black and more black, under the illusion that it is slimming. Or you may have done the complete opposite and chosen bright colours and patterns in the hope that this will detract from your swelling bosom and expanding waistline.

The tight jeans have given way to comfortable leggings. Belts have been swept aside in favour of elasticated waistbands. And you discover the distracting benefits of accessories, like scarves and necklaces.

All this time, you console yourself that, with a little effort, this excess weight could be lost and all will be well again.

But then *it* happens. That defining moment when you know you must either pee or get off the pot. You either accept your new shape or do something about it before the rot sets in for good.

The point at which you start tucking your tummy in your knickers! *shudder*

Please note: The photo above is not actually my tummy - but it so easily could be!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

My Big Bundle of Joy

Having wimped out at last week's prompt of Ugly I have to say I was very really happy to see that this week's Gallery prompt is Joy. This is an easy peasy one for me!

Some of you may have read about my struggle to become a mum. So when my eldest finally did come along, it was something of a minor miracle. And to that end we named her Annie Joy. The name had a double significance - firstly our own joy at finally becoming parents, and secondly because Joy is my mother-in-law's maiden name.

So here she is, my very own bundle of JOY.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Contraception Conundrum

For around a decade contraception was not very high on my agenda. For six years I was trying to conceive, then for the next four years I was either pregnant, breastfeeding, pregnant again or breastfeeding again. And so now, at the age of 40, I find myself back in the market for contraception - and quite frankly I'm not impressed.

Back in my youth I used to take the pill, with no apparent problems. However in the past decade I have discovered I have a blood clotting condition which makes any oestrogen-based contraception (whether it be a pill, implant or injection) a no-no.

I had thought I might try the coil, but at one of my post-natal doctors appointments my GP showed me the contraption 'in the flesh' and I have to confess the thought of having that inside me made my legs go a bit wobbly and I chickened out.

And so we compromised on a progesterone only mini-pill. I take it every day and may or may not have a period. Generally I do not, which leaves me with no monthly reassurance that I am definitely *not* pregnant and no real sense of the natural rythmn of my body. I also never know when I might have a period so it nearly always catches me out.

Having been out of the loop for some years, I guess I'm surprised things have not moved on that much and there is not more choice available to women - you either pump yourself full of hormones or have foreign bodies placed inside you. And while I'm fairly certain I don't want any more children, I don't feel quite ready to make that final decision to be sterilised.

Maybe the 'natural' alternative is to do what our grandmothers did - wear a winceyette nightie down to the floor, curlers, a hairnet and a generous slathering of face cream. Maybe GPs should prescribe this 'Passion Killer Package' on the NHS?!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

A Fresh Start

This time last year my partner received a letter telling him he was under threat of redundancy. By June he was on 'gardening leave' and in October he was officially made redundant.

From that point on he faced the indignity of having to sign on every fortnight and we became reliant on Tax Credits and Income Support. Thankfully he had received a reasonable pay out so we knew we had some money to fall back on, but in reality we never knew how long the situation would last.

To say the past 9 months have been difficult would be an understatement. It tested us both to our limits - his anger at his employer and the 'system', the stress of being with each 24/7 with 2 small children, the feelings of helplessness being reliant on benefit, the depression that resulted, and the subsequant healing and putting ourselves back together, as individuals and as a couple.

And now, he has a new job which he starts in a week. After 9 months of shared childcare I will go back to flying solo with the girls. And do you know what? I feel like I've lost my nerve. I feel like I did when he took paternity leave when the girls were born. Knowing that the minute he went back to work it would all be down to me.

I've moaned about him being under my feet, and thought that the intensity of being together every day was bad for us. But in a week he will have a 90 minute commute each way on top of a full working day. He'll be up with the lark and back (hopefully) just in time to see the girls before they go to bed.

If I'm knackered or poorly I won't be able to have a lie in while he gets our eldest ready for school. If it's raining he won't be able to nip out in the car to collect her. If we run out of milk or loo roll, he won't be here to pop round the shop. If someone comes to the door, cold calling, he won't be here to tell them to get lost. And I'll have to make my own cups of tea.

I'm really happy for him and for us - it's a chance for a fresh start. I just wish I'd been more grateful and looked a bit harder for all the good things our situation afforded us, rather than being so willing to see the bad.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Seven Facts About Me

In a recent flurry of awards and memes I have been tagged by the fabulous Linda, of You've Got Your Hands Full fame, to accept the Kreativ Blogger Award and tell you 7 things I've never told you about myself. So here goes:

1. I was once in the audience of a Christmas Top of the Pops but managed to successfully avoid being caught on camera. On the bill that year were Chesney Hawkes, Erasure, James and Soul to Soul (not showing my age much there then!)

2. I chose Latin as an option at school so I could get out of doing PE and ended up getting an A grade at O Level.

3. In my teens I had a massive crush on Marti Pellow and I went to see Wet Wet Wet in concert 3 times. On one occasion, so keen was I in ringing the ticket hotline, that my ticket was Block A, Row A, Seat 1. I made Marti a pair of personsalised Boxer Shorts and threw them on the stage, along with a letter wrapped lovingly around a red rose. And just last year I went to see him at the theatre in the Witches of Eastwick - and I still squealed all those years later!!

4. I have a tattoo on my right thigh of the Tibetan symbol 'Hung' which means 'Enlightened Mind'

5. I once saw a psychic who told me I would need to have injections (but not IVF) in order to have children. She was right as I was found to have a blood clotting disorder, which meant I had to inject myself with anti-coagulants throughout both my pregnancies.

6. I have adopted the word 'Cake'

7. When I was 2 years old I had part of my ear bitten off by my nan's dog. The dog was an alsation cross and when my mum saw what the dog was doing she picked it up off me and threw it across the room. They never found the missing piece of ear so we assume the dog ate it. Not surprisingly I'm a bit scared of dogs.

I now have to pass this award on to seven other bloggers. If they want, they can also take up the challenge, which is:

1.Copy the award to your blog
2.Insert a link to the person who nominated me
3.Tell you seven things about myself that I haven’t told you before
4.Nominate seven other bloggers for the award
5.Link to their blogs
6.Tell the nominees about their award
So, here are my seven (apologies to anyone who's been tagged already):

Helen at Business Plus Baby
Amy at Cooking, Cakes & Children
Emily at Mummy Limited
Amanda at Superwoman Wannabee
Karin at Cafe Bebe
Gigi at MumsRock
Diary of a Not So Single Mum

Monday, 5 April 2010

Plastic Joy Award

I've been waiting ages to do this meme, so many thanks to Beth at My Good Life for tagging me with the Plastic Joy Award. I now get to share with you who 'I would do' from the film/TV world. To say I'm spoilt for choice is an understatment, so here's hoping I can narrow it down to just five!

John Barrowman as Torchwood's Captain Jack - and before anyone says 'But Sam, you do know he is *gay* don't you?' - yes of course I know, but this is fantasy land and, anyway, as Captain Jack he swings both ways. Besides, I'm a sucker for a man in a 1st World War uniform, particularly one that isn't scared of aliens and whose day job is saving the world.

Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black in New Moon - I know it's wrong on so many levels - i.e. he's a werewolf and he looks about 12 - but I'm afraid the rippling muscles, the golden tan and the puppy dog eyes completely won me over in the books before I even saw the film. Go Team Jacob!

Johnny Depp - I know, it's a no brainer, Johnny is God. However he often looks a bit strange in his film roles (take Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, Sweeney Todd & Mad Hatter as just a few examples). And whilst I am definitely not immune to the charms of Captain Jack Sparrow, I am specifically requesting Johnny in his role as Roux in Chocolat for my guilt-free night of passion. Pretty please!

Aiden Turner as Mitchell in Being Human - so, not only have I picked a werewolf, I've also chosen a vampire. That's not normal is it?! But at least Mitchell is mainly 'on the wagon' and trying to resist his vampirish urges. Plus he is dark, smouldering and looks great in leather.

Matthew MacFadyen as Mr Darcy - I realise I am in the minority but I really liked Matthew's portrayal of Darcy in the latest version of Pride & Prejudice. Most particularly the scene on the moor when he declares his love for Elizabeth, makes me tingle every time I see it:

"You must know... surely, you must know it was all for you... you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on." *swoons*

So looking back over my 5 they are all tall, dark, handsome and have a brooding or secretive side to their character. Looks like I have a definite 'type' doesn't it?!

And finally, I need to mention the delectable Matthew Morrison aka Mr Schuster from Glee. There is something irresistable about an inspiring teacher and Mr Schu is up there with the best. Most of the time he is just lovely and sweet, but when he's rapping to Golddigger with his pecs peeking out of his T-shirt, he is definitely eye-candy. But at the end of the day I think he is perhaps a little too wholesome to actually corrupt so I will keep him as my schoolgirl crush!

So, who would you do? I'm passing this on to the following ladies to find out:

Sam at Mumazing
Jay at Mocha Beanie Mummy
Susie at Wise Genius
Wendy at Whimsical Wife
Chloe at I am Radford

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Silent Light

This post was written for Josie's Writing Workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak. This week I chose Prompt 3: Write a story or a poem or something descriptive to try and share your view of what happens when we die. Perhaps you could write it as a way of explaining a hard concept to your children? Or just to express your own feeling about the Big Question

Silent Light

I see the light
And the door
And an overwhelming feeling
That I've been here before

On the day I was born

Safe and still
I squeezed through the door
Pushed into the light
And the noise -
So much noise

That never went away
Inside my head,
Asking questions
For what?

For this.
Drawn towards the light
And the door
I know what's in store.

The warm, womb-like safety of home,
Silent light.