Thursday, August 13, 2009

How much TV can they watch?

Having grown up without a TV I'm quite restrained in the way I watch TV. I never have it on as background noise - radio? oh yes, but never TV. I only have it on if I'm watching something and I rarely scan the channels looking for something to watch.

If I do it tends to fall into the documentary, film, home, craft or news formats.

My two youngest children however are screen freaks, they seem to be unable to function without sitting like blobs in front of a screen of some kind. Suggestions as to whether they could possibly do anything else meet with:

"I don't know what to do"
"I haven't got anyone to play with"
"I don't like my toys"
"I've been outside for AAAAGES" -usually all of 10 minutes.

Unless there is organised activity, usually involving having people over or going out and spending money, they simply default to the sofa and a video/DVD/junk TV programme, or computer game - AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGH!

Drives me nuts!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

After the Mud, the chores.......

Well, the muddiest ever week in Somerset, New Wine positively flowed with silty water, but while the camping was hard (pictures to follow) the fellowship, teaching and most of all the worship was just awesome.

Venue 2 just rocked with praises, great sound and atmosphere and really released something in me that's been tied up tight for a long time. Some seminars carried on the healing and I feel like things have come out of the stagnant stage I've been in for such a long time and although I'm no clearer about my future, I feel a lot of the cynicism has been uprooted from inside - it's very liberating.

After coming back from such a high, real life kicks in hard - not only the Awards deadline of Monday morning (I made it!), but the dentist, clearing up, mountains of washing, childcare, shopping etc etc etc.

Adam had his braces off today - all good, looking fab, he even let me take some photos! And today I'm clearing up the back of my desk, a bit of a dusty task but hopefully at the end of it will be beautiful clear carpet and a lot of things put away, filed or just chucked out. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sickness!! the Plague and other stories

Well as the swine flu net draws in (it's got to school) and possible Nathan's class already, we are perceiving a siege mentality as we wait for its inevitable arrival at our doorstep. Should we get it now it will mess up our end of term and holidays, but there will still be stocks of Tamiflu. If we wait (like we have a choice) then there may be a vaccine but it could have mutated into something worse! Such a difficult choice!!

In the meantime I have been feeling very rough indeed - I have had an inhaler prescribed, a chest X-ray, blood tests galore and mega antibiotics for a week. I do feel better, but not better enough for my liking so hoping there is nothing underlying, I hate being ill in the summer, it just seems so unfair, and yes, I am whinging and I'm fully aware that there are many people much worse off than me!

Finally Adam had developed a high temperature post DofE expedition. Not sure if it's too much sun and not enough sleep or something more sinister but he's missed a couple of days of school which is not like him at all, especially as things wind down for the holidays. Hope he gets better soon.

The good news is that I did do some scrapbooking this weekend - finally!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hey, we're having a summer!

After two years of grotty grey summers, it's a bit of a shock to have a real summer for once. We have been stifling this week, hot and humid, although a tiny breeze has made it better at night than sometimes, and even Wimbledon has gone ahead without rain interruptions - they should have built that roof before!

So despite planning a barbeque 3 months ago to have with friends, we are not hurriedly making rain delayed plans, but actually going ahead, food bought, puddings prepared and barbeque ready to go.

I don't like the humidity, but I'm definitely not complaining about the summer weather - it's wonderful, and the chance to sit outside, cook outside and eat outside is enough of a novelty to make it even more appealing than usual.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home again, and in need of moisturiser!

Well, after so many months in the planning, my trip to Romania has been and gone. It was a real time of challenging myself to do things in unfamiliar conditions, and I was very glad to have gone with Dad who was an encourager and companion for the week.

Romania (at least the bit I saw) was less grim and poor than I expected, but not to say that there were not grim and poor bits, especially where we were building where you wouldn't believe how horrid and crowded the conditions were. It made it so obvious that houses should be built for these people crammed into flats which should have been long since condemned and making the best they could of them. Although the Roma future owners were fairly suspicious of us to start with, apart from anything else, they don't let their women help with the building, they got used to us, realised we were trying our best to build the best houses we could for them and in the end were smiling with us at the joint results of our labours.

Our comfort was much better, interesting food, a nice guest house, a fantastic leader in Emil and team leader in Rob and a fun building team (lucky their English was better than our Romanian!). The worst we faced was coffee coloured water coming out of the taps some days and nothing at all flowing on others! Apart from a blister on my thumb and a few bites I really didn't suffer at all.

I painted, varnished, installed soffits, floor underlay and laminate flooring and did lots of running around handing things to people!

It was a good trip, and if we take our own homes for granted 90% of the time, at least we should spare a thought occasionally for those who don't enjoy our living conditions and who deserve a lot more than they have.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Such a lot happening right now....

Well, we got back from Paris and what a fab time we had - lovely weather for the most part, showed the kids all the sights and they loved it. Even better was the site on the Seine at Maisons Laffite which was like going back to the countryside in the evening, the kids had space and met up with other kids, we could cook for ourselves and sit on the deck with a glass of wine and relax - so much better than a hotel for our family but with all the beauties of Paris about 25 minutes away on the RER. A total success.

Then we had lovely friends up from Cornwall for the weekend and revelled in the wonderful sunshine once more, making the most of the long distance views from Epsom Downs and taking the chance to look round Hampton Court, something we only seem to do with visitors!!
Now I'm frantically packing for Romania. I've been stuck with needles, amassed first aid kit, worn in my steel toe capped boots and borrowed my guide book for Budapest from the library for our day's sightseeign. I still need currency, I'm hoping to customise my hard hat, I have a load of cooking to do for the family and probably a million other things to do too. I'm terrified, and excited to be going, sad to leave the family for a week, but hoping to do something rewarding and to make a difference and really get stuck in to the project.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another week gone

Can't believe how quickly this month is going - hardly seems a minute since I was on here, but a whole week has flown by -with another party for Adam, lots of sorting out for our trip to Paris - so excited to be seeing Dave again - and looking forward to showing the kids one of the cities of my student life.

Visited Joyce in hospital yesterday - hadn't been there since my op 2 years ago, but at least she was in a nice ward and it wasn't too hot - she should be out for the weekend hopefully.

Finalising my trip to Romania as well, sending off more donations, buying hard hat and boots, dust masks, goggles and gloves.

Metaphorically waving goodbye to Jackie today as well, missing her party due to our trip, but dead jealous of her round the world tour plans - wish I'd done it while I had the chance. Bon Voyage Jackie!

Back to packing, and cleaning the oven - just discovered magic oven cleaner - thanks Karen!! - such a beautiful day out there, should be enjoying the sun but never mind, Paris beckons :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fabulous Fourteen

My lovely firstborn was 14 yesterday - it's hard to appreciate how fast the years have gone and how wonderful he has grown up. Of course I am his mother and you'd expect that, but really, if fourteen years ago I could have had a crystal ball I would not have changed much at all - perhaps his smelly feet and the state of his bedroom, but that's about it. He really is the nicest teenager I could imagine.

We had an invasion of his mates, various shapes and sizes, and mainly much bigger than him but he's done ok - they are basically a really great bunch of witty good natured boys who have a laugh together.

I still don't have a crystal ball, but I'm hoping that the next few years will be more of the same - if they are I shall consider myself the most fortunate mother on earth.

PS. The other two aren't that bad either, but yesterday wasn't their birthday!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Romania and a SLYMI Challenge

Very excited as my t-shirt, flight details and info for Romania arrived - it all seems much more real and I'm starting to get my stuff together for the trip - very slowly, but I'm getting there. Next job is hard hat, boots and another Hep B jab scheduled for Wednesday - eek!

Also managed to actually do some scrapbooking this weekend - a whole LO based on the UKS Scrap Like You Mean It challenges by Shimelle. Dug out an old photo of Adam and a friend which I've wanted to scrap for ages but not got round to doing so quite pleased with the result - another box ticked - only a few thousand to go and that's if I never take another photo - which let's face it would be pretty unlikely. Still, it keeps me off the streets!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Another Police Raid

After the cannabis factory across the road, the police have now raided another house, peopled by Lithuanian. A dawn raid and now they're taking away computers and things from the house - we thought they were a bit dodgy, with their back of a lorry petrol deliveries but now it's official.

They've been ok with us, not exactly friendly, like the previous Lithuanians, but if they are to move on, I shan't miss their stupid car alarm, or their Eurotrash music. Other than that, peace reigns as usual in suburbia!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Godda Cold

Not feeling too good today, but making the most of some peace and quiet as Adam has gone to a barbeque at his best mate's house, Ellie has gone shopping with Rosie -the first time we've let her loose in Croydon on her own - makes me nervous, but she has to grow up sometime - and much as I'd like to wrap them in cotton wool forever, they need to learn the ways of the world bit by bit.

Just endured Liverpool making a pigs ear of beating Newcastle - why is Babel soooo lazy?

Enjoying the aftermath of NSD though, doing a bit more scrapping - my sixth form photo this time and using up some stash. Very honoured to have some feedback on yesterday's LO from Tina Azmus - a real scrapbooking legend - made my day.

Just read the words to Abide with Me - by Henry Francis Lyte - so moving:

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, Lord, abide with me.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

National Scrapbooking Day

Well, I have done one LO, but it's been hard what with all the kids activities and a beautiful sunny Saturday tempting me onto Epsom Common for a lovely spring walk.

I am hoping however that my pitiful effort and a few other bits and pieces might change the losing habit of a lifetime and I might win something in the Studio Calico NSD draw/competition. I could really do with some new free stash - seeing as my job situation is looking so dodgy just now.

So back to scrapping - now I have all my nostalgic bits from the past (see previous post), I have started scrapping them - it will be slow, but I do have some ideas - starting with music that brings back memories of France - so watch this space.

Oh and congratulations Karla and Martin - my fabulous CA cousins - are expecting their first baby - sooooo excited for you.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Nostalgia Day

I woke up with a bad cold this morning, and as DH kindly told me not to do anything I decided to get ahead with some scrapbook challenges for National Scrapbooking Day on 2nd May. However, hardly had I started to get some ideas and pull some stuff together than I found myself trawling through bags of old bits and pieces - mainly letters, photos and other bits from my student days.

Of course I got completely sidetracked - not a LO did I finish in the course of my meanderings through my late teens and early 20s. I did however find a load of stuff that I really should have ditched a long time ago - stuff that doesn't really go with being married and in my 40s, plus a lot of interesting stuff that reminded me of how I was with my friends in those days, what made us laugh, cry, worry and rant about.

I remembered that once upon a time I had a great relationship with my middle sister and she wrote hilarious letters. I realised that I should have been a lot more confident in myself, that people liked me and the things I did, but I was too hung up to see it at the time.

I remembered a world where AIDS had just been discovered, the Cold War was still hanging over us, there was no internet, mobile phone and we could barely afford airfares or international telephone calls - so we wrote lots more letters - and thanks to them I can go back there.

I also found precious letters from my granny and my mum which I had forgotten I had but will treasure again. I was inspired to try to contact a long lost friend via Friends Reunited, and got an answer which I hope will lead to resumption of contact, however infrequent.

Most of all, I restored old memories, reminded myself of how I used to be, and how far I've come in lots of ways. I wouldn't change my today, but it was good to remember yesterdays.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The wonders of Nature

We were blessed with wonderful weather at the weekend so on Saturday we toiled in the garden, trying to create order after the winter - plus I got to practise digging for my trip to Romania - we cut down lots of the ivy and Ken got to mow the lawn - his favourite bit!!

As Sunday brought more sun we treated ourselves to a walk to Banstead Woods to see the glory of the bluebells - the sight and the scent were breathtaking and we bumped into Debbie and Steve just to make the walk even more fun. The kids loved it and the lateness of the leaves made it sunnier than usual in the woods. Just a perfect afternoon - a taste of how spring should be.

Unlike Monday which had to be the most miserable contrast possible - but as it marked the first day of the cricket season it had to rain most of the day. Not that it stopped Nathan playing his match - we absolutely froze - it went on until 8.45 when it was almost dark, but they won in style which obviously went down well with kids and eager parents alike.

Which brings me to today - I met up with Debbie again and we went plant buying - I am now the proud owner of a newly planted hanging basket (planted by me I should add!). My theme this year is yellow (a nod to current fashion), red and white. I replenished my summer window box - yes the geraniums are going strong in their fifth year and are complemented with white trailing lobelia and the remaining bedding plants together with a hardy fuschia are settled into their new home. I'll make a gardener of me yet!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Calm after the Chaos

I spent last week doing the greasepaint and hairdressing thing for Ellie's dancing show - a wonderful concoction of random dances - she was in 4 and was fabulous (of course darling, I'm her mother!). The heat and noise was quite incredible - so many interchangeable little girls needing makeup done, things finding, mending, high as kites on E numbered sweeties and four nights and two matinees plus a (very late ending) dress rehearsal. She was exhausted and so was I.

Now the school term has arrived again, the kids have gone back, PE kits are washed, ironed and back at school, exams are looming and I'm trying to pick myself up again to do all the 'normal' things I usually have to do.

One small respite is that not every club has restarted this week so the taxi service is only on part time hours!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Life Stages

I'm definitely over the baby stage. I had a friend over for tea this morning with her gorgeous little 3 month old daughter. I cooed and baby-worshipped (as I usually do) and enjoyed every minute.

Unusually the kids are at home as it's the holidays and they sat around, made unhelpful comments and generally fidgeted as all kids do when there's someone new to show off to. Despite this, I realised that I really am at that stage when I love other people's babies, love to hold them, cuddle them and generally have a good old baby session, but I really don't want to change their nappies, get up in the night or wipe up their dribble any more, and I don't have to. I've not wanted a baby for quite a while now (pretty much since Nathan was born, although occasionally I've thought it might be nice) but this morning really confirmed to me that I like having more grown up children, who can understand me (even if they ignore most of what I say!) who can make me a cup of tea occasionally, who let me have a lie-in even if they want to get up and watch junk TV and who can entertain themselves, run the odd errand and leave me alone in peace once in a while when I'm feeling grumpy.

It may mean I'm getting old, but I quite like going past the milestones of life.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tea and other stories.

I am most definitely a tea girl - sure I drink the odd coffee from a Starbucks or the local equivalent. I cannot stand instant coffee and for this I must thank my mother, who made delicious real coffee at a time when hardly anyone else in our acquaintance did - she loves it! I do too, but only occasionally, and the worse it is, the more stuff I put in it. Good coffee deserves to come in espresso form, although it doesn't last long. My usual poison is Vanilla Latte - but not often, and only if accompanied by caramel waffles which you warm on top of the cup until squidgy.

These caramel waffles are a throwback to my childhood. Mum and Dad had lots of friends from Holland, from where these delicious morsels originate. On their visits to us, and on our solitary visit to Holland, we had these biscuits (although that word really doesn't do them justice) - just a hint of cinnamon, crispy waffle sandwiching a gooey caramel filling - pure decadence.

But back to tea. I'm feeling like I definitely drink too much of it, in fact sometimes I even feel I have had enough - not something I thought was possible in terms of taste, not volume! So today, I ventured into the realm of decaf - not actually tried it yet, but feel I need to cut down on the caffeine, because giving up tea, even for Lent, is simply not an option.

I'm going for the gentle detox route, as the last time I gave up tea I had a hangover for four days!! So it's the introduction of a decaf every so often for me, and hopefully better health/wellbeing/feeling? without the ultimate sacrifice! Let's hope so.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Girl Politics

We had DDs birthday bowling and pizza party yesterday. It was nice to meet some of her new high school friends and their parents. I'm pretty pleased with the ones she invited, they seem really nice kids.

I do worry though, she's not very good at the whole girl politics thing - she's a bit naive, she piles in to support the underdog, usually at her own expense, she has a kind heart, and she's way too keen to please others. I'm just waiting for her to do something REALLY daft, because she wanted to impress someone. I just pray it's nothing permanently damaging, emotionally, physically or criminally. It probably wouldn't be wilful, just unthinking - the next few years are going to be a rollercoaster as a parent - I've been expecting it since she was born - (a mini teenager since birth), but now it's here I'm no more prepared for it than the day she was born - help!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

I'm feeling amazingly dopey today - I spent a glorious weekend in Somerset with some of my scrapbooking friends, creating 'masterpieces'! enjoying the lovely spring weather, taking photos, eating and drinking - it was such a satisfying time, with great company in a lovely setting.

Came back for Ellie's birthday, and celebrated in style as my little girl grows up.

Another day on and my brain has given up, wandered round the supermarket wondering what on earth to get, and this despite my list. Can't really get motivated to do anything much - did dust a few things LOL but just too dopey. Obviously I've spent far too much energy enjoying myself and now I need to recuperate - funny, I thought that's what holidays are for.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

(Sub) - Urban Girl

Although I grew up in a semi-rural village and had a very countryside upbringing, I always hankered after the city, mainly London, the city of my birth, but I lived in Paris for a while as well, and have loved visiting many cities and get a real buzz from the city, it's architecture and the hidden corners, not to mention the vibe. Not having the money to live in the city, we live in the 'burbs, with all the ridiculous stereotypes and (sometimes real) caricatures of suburban domesticity!

However, recently I've wondered if I'm as urban as I think. This is mainly due to a photo project I'm doing, where I take a photo every day, hoping that 365 photos will provide an accurate snapshot of my life in 2009. I have realised that plants and growing things fill a much more important part of my life than I thought. No-one in their right mind would call me a gardener, but I do get a lot of satisfaction from growing a few things and I love my window box. More broadly, I think I really like seeing the changes in the trees that line our streets and in gardens, the flowers in front gardens, the local parks, and the way we can get into open country really quickly from our suburban home.

Apart from the plant worship, I have recently been making cards, partly to say thank you to the many generous people who have donated to my 'brick fund' for Romania. I now have a satisfyingly tall pile of cards ready to write.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

Sometimes you know it's spring regardless of the date. I always announce spring with daffodils on St David's Day (1st March). Some people say 21st March (the equinox) is the first day of spring, but that means spring goes on until 21st June, and that's summer in my book.

Anyway, I knew it was spring today as it was warm enough to ditch my boots for the first time this winter (ankle, not wellington!) and wear flatties with no socks. The days are getting longer, welcome Spring 2009 - later than sometimes but all the more welcome for that.

I really wish for long blue sky days this year - not too bothered about heat, but I do like clear skies - they make me happy !

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Man U 1, Liverpool 4 - how good is that?

Come on you Reds! What a fantastically wonderful and unexpected result - I couldn't bear to listen - me of little faith! and when Ellie came dancing down the stairs celebrating I couldn't believe my ears. Just waiting for MOTD - recording it for posterity as well - I mean, it doesn't happen often, like every few decades.

Of course, once the euphoria dies down, I shall have to have a rant about all the points they've thrown away in draws at Anfield and what a waste it is that they won't win the title despite doing the double over Chelsea and the Mancs, but for now I'm just going to enjoy the feeling - can't wait to see Sir Alex chewing a wasp!

Going to see Palace winning at Swansea made Ken a happy bunny as well, not to mention a sunny lunch on the beach! Just to add to the general happiness, Shrewsbury got a draw at Gillingham as well.

Good day!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Red Noses and Irritating Software

Today is Red Nose Day - a real fixture in the calendar of my children. Ellie went to school in red with sprayed hair. Adam has a trip to the Globe Theatre to see Romeo and Juliet so needs to wear school uniform, much to his disgust.

The Primary School seemed to forget about Red Nose Day and decided to have a history day instead where everyone dresses up as someone from the period they are studying. Nat went as a Tudor, long socks, breeches and top with short cape and bejewelled hat, and silver buckles on his shoes - very chic. School issued a belated appeal for funds for RND last night.

I do not have a red nose today, despite the pub visit last night with the girls - such fun. I went up to a friend's to help her wrestle with poorly conceived NHS work system which is compulsory to fill in if you want a pay rise - would have helped if it actually worked properly, but takes ages and you have to log in and out after each entry as there is a glitch in the system that the techies don't seem to know about or be in any hurry to fix.

It's easy to be patient when it's not your software or task, but so frustrating trying to help out when it's sooooooooooo slow!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I get to be a Volunteer

I'm going to Romania with my Dad to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. We work with a family to help them build somewhere decent to live. I've been saving up for this trip for ages and now I've been accepted to go in June.

It's a real bonus that Dad's going as we've not really done anything together, just us, for years, so doing something I really want to do alongside him is fantastic for me.

Apart from the obvious worries about leaving the family, working in the heat etc. is the more immediate pressure of having to raise funds for materials. In this credit crunched world I'm asking all my friends for money. I shouldn't feel bad about it as it's not for me, I've paid for my trip, but it's raising my nose above the parapet and that's hard.

So far I have £5 from my Mum in law - hopefully there is more to come!!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Disappearing Countryside

I went with the Wendys on a stash trawl today in the not so wilds of Sussex - got some nice stuff, but that's another story. While we were on the hunt we drove through Charlworth, a cute village about so many hundred metres off the end of the runway at Gatwich. We stopped and watched a few planes land, and at that distance the runway looked quite small and it was impossible to understand why, if another runway is added to the airport, the village would be destroyed - unless it would be so close under the flight path that living would be intolerable, - but that doesn't stop people living in Hounslow.

How can a strip of tarmac a mile long by a few metres wide come to swallow up so much countryside? I feel even sorrier for those people whose village is under threat from the Heathrow expansion now. I love flying but I can't see that it's worth destroying so much beautiful countryside and farmland.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Social Life, lots of Glitter and the boy comes back

After being a taxi for what seems like weeks on end for the little darlings, we finally had some social life of our own this Friday. Babysitter arrived and we left in the same breath! So nice to go to see new friends, with some old friends thrown in for good measure and have a nice meal. Not too posh, but yummy. Would have been perfect if I hadn't had to endure the second half of Wales losing to the French, but still a very nice evening.

As Ellie had rehearsals and Adam was due home from his week's skiing in Austria, we headed off to school to help with the set. This entailed taking a lot of PVA glue, spreading it over various bits of the set and then slapping shocking pink glitter onto it. Of course it went everywhere - including all over us, but we got a lot done and welcomed the boy home looking as down and out scruffy as we could - luckily he's not at the age when he's permanently ashamed of us yet. We finally left about 5 and had a family meal together while hearing about his exploits on the slopes.

Finally we had friends for lunch today - good old Morrison's rotisserie produced two perfectly cooked chickens right on cue. Shame Adam and Ellie had more rehearsals - the show is this week - and missed playing with the little girls, but I got the chance to try out the large version of my waffleberry pudding in readiness for cooking for the oldies in a week's time - and guess what - it's all gone!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Doctor's not listening....

I mean, they have so many questions to ask - if you smoke, - I don't, and haven't any intention of starting but that doesn't stop them wasting my precious appointment time by asking the same question each time, plus anything else that they feel they need to keep the government statistician happy ticking boxes.

Then they are so desperate not to give you antibiotics that they dismiss everything as a virus. I've had a bad chest since before Christmas. I've been to the doctor, who didn't even look in my mouth and decided it was viral.

I've also needed an x-ray on my arm as I fell awkwardly when it snowed. My physio asked for a particular x-ray to decided whether the radial something was broken. She even wrote it down. The doctor wrote me a form which managed to omit this request, the radiologist said they didn't do that x-ray, but without it you can't know whether it's broken or not.

Frustrated? I am!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


My annual domestic goddess has arrived. Seville oranges are in season and the kitchen smells deliciously of citrus and sitting proudly on the windowsill are several pots of authentic Oxford marmalade. I managed to get the setting point right this year so we don't have the deep toffee texture of last year's effort.

Funnily enough I inherited my dislike of citrus peel from my Dad, who is a great marmalade lover, and passed it on to Nathan. We pick the peel out of our marmalade when we put it on toast!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The other people's children rant

My kids probably think I'm a miserable old bag most of the time, as I'm quite happy to tell them no and we can't afford it and you're too young for that etc etc. I would say we are reasonable, they probably wouldn't agree, but we try to let them do as much as we can afford without going into debt and be as flexible as we can in helping them accept as many social life offers as we can. However sometimes we just have to end up saying 'No sorry, you can't' - either because (occasionally) we have some social life of our own, or we can't afford it, or because one of them is already doing something that takes up our time.

I have a friend who seems incapable of saying no to anything her children want - material or activity wise - on the basis that she feels her childhood was deprived so they should be able to do everything they want. Maybe I'm the miserable one here but I do feel that we have to learn to give and take and to live in a family where everyone has equal rights, and the kids don't end up downright spoilt because no-one ever says no to them. I hope my kids will grow up as balanced and generous people who are polite, considerate and enthusiastic about life even if they lack the many experiences and material wealth of their friends.

A Happy Valentine's Day

We had a great one. I went to my crop and ate heart decorated cupcakes - thanks Claire :), strawberries and other delicacies, then came home early to help Ken cook his speciality Lamb Rogon curry with all the trimmings which we shared candlelit with the children, then carried on with the jigsaw wordsearch which is giving us so much trouble!! Such a nice technology free evening and we talked - a few grumps but on the whole really fun, and accompanied by the Gold 'Best of Spandau Ballet' CD which I haven't heard for ages and really is very good - thanks guys - it's 25 years since I saw them in Paris but the music still makes me sing along.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The curse of technology

I had a new mp3 player for Christmas - great, just what I wanted, and I had the perfect playlists all planned in my head.

A few weeks and some of my music carefully uploaded later, it has a 'file system error'. Predictably this doesn't appear on any of the online help provided by Philips, and neither does the manual help. I can't install the device software on the computer so it works and therefore I am stuffed - at least until someone can help me sort it out.

Frustrated? You bet, it all seemed so simple when I took it out of the box. Now I just want to throw it at someone. and to make things worse YOU CAN'T EVEN LOAD LEGAL DOWNLOADS ONTO IT! what? I thought that was the point of having an mp3 player - grrrr.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bragging Parents

I can't stand listening to parents who bang on about their children's latest achievements ad nauseam so I'm going to blog my smugness today about Nat doing 200m in his swimming lesson - a huge achievement for him, and much more than he expected to do. I'm chuffed to bits with him but to save me from boring for England, this is the last I shall say on the matter, except to family and godparents!....

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


I fell over this morning and now my elbow hurts - a lot! We decided to walk to school as the roads are still not clear and I'm a chicken at driving in the snow. The pavements were treacherous, and on one icy bit I turned round to see if the boys (mine plus a friend) were ok - bad move, I slid, went bang on my bum and put my hand down - but it's the elbow that hurts.

I can't face going to A&E as it will be full of idiots like me who have fallen down, plus all those with colds who can't be bothered to go to the GP, so I'm taking painkillers and hoping it will go away.

The sun is shining and I have to go and see if I can drive as I have the dancing run later, but I'm feeling very unmotivated to do anything - post snow laziness syndrome.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fantastic Freezing February

Well, February came in with a bang - loads of snow, more than we've had for years, more than the children have ever seen in London. As usual, the entire transport network shut down as did the schools so yesterday we were all at home and in the park by 9 o'clock as we were so excited to see a foot of snow over everything. It looked awesome and we had so much fun building a snowman and throwing snowballs.

We'd only bought salopettes for Adam's ski trip on Saturday so they've been put to good use already as have the ski gloves, hat, fleeces and thermals - shared out with the others. I really need some other trousers as wet jeans are not pleasant, but otherwise I was amazingly warm, thanks in part to some fabulous hats which arrived from Sally and Yogya in Nepal, warmly lined with ear flaps and very trendy to boot, the kids are desperate to wear them!! Not often they want to borrow our clothes!
Today was beautifully sunny. Ken had to go into work (the buses were running and so were the tubes, but still no trains - pathetic!!) The kids and I went to the park with the Nikon and took lots of pictures, then raided Morrisons for squirty cream and marshmallows to make hot chocolate. The schools are open tomorrow so real life will kick in again, but this has been a fabulous unexpected break, so much fun - I'm quite glad the British are useless in the snow - we get to take time out.
I'm not looking forward to digging out the car and driving tomorrow, but hey! that's another day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Sun and Entertaining Hangups

I always feel so much better when the sky is blue and the sun is shining during these cold winter months. Today is one of those days.

FlyLady is always on about CHAOS (Can't have anyone over Syndrome) and I certainly suffer from it - I always feel our house is so rubbish compared with other people's - too messy, not enough storage, too small, unfinished decor wise, but today I beat off my fears and invited some new people in for coffee, hoping they wouldn't notice all the things that make me feel selfconscious.

I have this idea in my head about how I want to make the house welcoming, but I always feel that I fall short of this ideal - probably mostly gained from magazines and books and unrealistic portrayals of how advert-land life should be. They liked my cake though - thanks, Ad, for making me make Banana Cake!

At least I'm not alone. I've just finished reading 'Confessions of a Failed Grown Up' by Stephanie Calman, author of The Bad Mothers Club. Hilarious! and so much I can relate to - its funny how I have friends who I would consider 'grown-ups' and others including myself are definitely still waiting to grow up. It's just a shame that the exterior completely covers up the quivering inner child!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Instant Gratification

I'm not the world's most patient person - most people who know me will tell you that, but there are some things worth waiting for. I can wait, as well as the next person, for something really good, but the thing that is trying my patience and has been for some while is my computer - it is just so slow!

OK, I could just go out and buy one, except that we spent the money on a ski trip for one small boy, and I won't go into debt for some machine. But however much I seem to delete from the system (and yes, I do know you have to empty the bin as well!), I can never find enough space to defrag it or make it go faster. It's driving me nuts - I want speedy computing and I WANT IT NOW!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Central Line Odyssey

I hardly ever go on the Tube, but today I had a meeting in Essex near the end of the Central Line. It was much quicker than I expected, noisy but not too bad on the whole.

I had hoped to see the new Olympic Park as we went through Stratford, but although the station is overground, and there are signs of building all around, including what I think is the new station building for the fast train link to the Olympic Park, you couldn't see the main site. Shame :(

I'm very excited about the 2012 Olympics coming to London and am hoping to be a volunteer of some kind as I don't think I'll qualify for the 100m! I'll probably end up in a luminous jacket on some street corner in the rain, but at least I'll have played some small part in it - if they'll have me.

The meeting was about aid in rural Uganda, about as far removed from the grey, urban landscape that fills my daily life, but at least this day was sunny with a blue sky and London looks so much better in the sunshine.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Grand Scale Frustration

Yes Liverpool blew it at Anfield AGAIN - this time to Everton, who took the lead with a poorly defended goal. Of course, Stevie G stepped up to the plate and scored a blinder, only overshadowed by the amazing flick on by Torres, but there was no-one in the box to have a go. Kuyt, bless him, works his proverbial socks off, but isn't exactly the sharpest goalscorer on earth, Babel is talented but either weak or lazy, not sure yet, but not good enough for the team.

They remind me of old Arsenal teams, just passing across or back when you are jumping up and down screaming at them to go forward, but they have no ideas and no-one far enough forward to take advantage anyway. Boring and cautious, don't know what Rafa is doing to them but it's not good. Perhaps it's his kidney stones, but he really needs to get a grip. Even the bog standard sides have worked out that if you smother Stevie G and Torres then they have nothing - it's so frustrating.

On the lower league side, at least Shrewsbury are doing well, in the playoffs in a mega close division. They aren't playing well, but they are grinding out results. Need an away win soon though - 24 matches or something with only 1 win isn't exactly blinding form, maybe this week at Barnet??

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cold weather, comfort food

I've been on a cooking frenzy (at least by my standards!) this week, having bought the Sainsbury's mag and decided that our weekly diet is really boring. So I actually planned and shopped, and ended up spending loads more money than usual, but I told myself that I had to stock up on essential ingredients which will last more than one meal (at least that's the theory - in practice it will clutter up my spice basket until it's sell-by date but never mind).

So today I made parsnip gnocchi (served with sausage and bacon and green beans) - recipe torn out of the newspaper yonks ago, and guess what, it was nice, and everyone liked it, so it will make it into the hall of fame that is my home recipe book. I also made meringues for dessert out of the remaining egg whites, and managed to keep them white instead of the dirty cream they usually are, so a result there :)

I have great plans for some spicy potatoes and cauliflower to serve with chicken tikka one day, and have made kulfi for dessert that day - another first.

Whether this culinary variety will last beyond this week is anyone's guess, but in the meantime, the family are experiencing something different, yesterday Nigella's Pea and Pesto Soup, tomorrow who knows???!

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Only 3 weeks late but I can't be doing with the perennial lose weight, get fit thing that new year always brings, the whole guilt trip downer, so....

- make a rolling birthday book so I can remember people's birthdays from one year to the next.

- finish off all the things I've been planning to do in the house - paint banisters (sp?), get new stair carpets, put pictures up, finish sanding the filling DH did months ago so that the house finally gets to be how it was planned to be.

- do some new stuff - go somewhere, do something, take up a new skill, hobby. Got to branch out before I die after all, otherwise this life will have been somewhat unsatisfying! I feel like a very boring person atm.

So, come December 31st I can see how I did - hmmm!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


As January is here I need to get going with my FlyLady following again - she has been an inspiration to me in keeping up with the chores! My house may not do her proud at the moment, but as my spring cleaning progresses in baby steps I hope to create order and serenity in the home, not to mention rid myself of a load of junk!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Secret smiles.

Over the last few days I've noticed various people walking around town with a big smile on their face - alone and not on the phone, and it makes me wonder what is happening in their lives that makes them walk around beaming? It's a nice thought, that in these days of gloom, credit crunch and grey January is not enough to stop them feeling good.

I've still managed to take my daily photos for my photo 365 project. I want to try to journal a bit with them - it should provide a good snapshot of my life day to day, whether it is interesting is less certain - not sure there is that much of interest in my existence really.

Friday, January 09, 2009

If I ever write a novel

Court will provide me with an endless supply of names for my heroes - or antiheroes perhaps. It is astonishing how many different surnames people have. We always joked about how many Jones', Williams' and in more recent times Patels there are, but in reality how many do you meet. I must admit to loving names and am fascinated at what people call their children - avid scouring the Times births deaths and marriages columns at any opportunity - it doesn't take much to keep me happy.

Of course, I knew daily blogging couldn't last, but I only missed one day, due to manic life calling. I did get my daily picture for yesterday, but not yet today - have to think what sums up today for me in pictures.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Am I sad? be waxing lyrical about rice pudding? We cooked for the old folks today and Karen made an especially yummy rice pudding with black cherry compote which was the perfect thing for a freezing cold January day. Comfort food at its best, and I admit I might sound rather middle aged in getting excited about such a down to earth thing, but at this time of the year in this economic climate it's been the highlight of my day!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It's still freezing...

I am such a Brit with my weather obsession. Kids were stuck at home today with the heating broken at school while I got stuck with this dreary drone at court who just loves the sound of his own voice - I mean, why tell a boring story in a few sentences when you can have a captive audience chewing off their own body parts waiting for the end of the tale. Worse still, he talks to me as if I was 4 which makes me want to stick pins in his eyes. Hopefully I won't have to sit with him for a while as he does my head in - another triumph of the justice system, he just goes on and on until you agree with his solution for sentencing etc. I learnt what filibustering was when reading Barack Obama's book 'The Audacity of Hope' - good book so far, I like his writing more than I expected. Anyway, thank goodness this guy isn't a politician, he would be the champion filibuster of all time - funny that he never found a wife really!

Meanwhile, I maintain my membership of the Bad Mother's Club by being completely unable to find DS2s PE kit this morning - usual story, it was buried under a pile of teddies in his room, however, even better than usual, it was still unwashed, I mean, I usually manage to get it washed before I lose it, but this time it's festered for 2 weeks in it's lovely PVC bag - yum! Still, at least I don't have to wear it. Worst of all, as I still wallow in post-Christmas ineffectiveness, it was DH who managed to find it, I couldn't even manage that!

So that's my day - freezing feet, boring blokes and smelly PE kit. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Monday, January 05, 2009

It's been an age....

I can't quite believe how long it's been since I blogged on here -in my head I do it a lot, in practice? well you can see.

Anyway, new year, new resolution and all that, I'm going to try and get a bit more down this year. Starting today:

- woke up to snow, that's unusual in itself - didn't last long but at least it was white for a bit!

-woke up late - big kids went to school, then got sent home again, result for them, but Nat and I stayed asleep for a long time.

-car is in the garage AGAIN - this car is literally driving me round the bend! We have spent so much money on it and it is still causing us problems. I wish we could just ditch it and get a new one, but credit crunch etc etc we'll be stuck with it for a while yet. Funny that I was thinking we should get the same again next time - NOT ANY MORE!

- Debbie and Daniel popped in for a cuppa earlier - nice to catch up after the hols.

- Scrapping aims for this year - to get more done, use up my stash - same old same old, but I still love it, trouble is, I take more photos than ever I scrap, and I keep taking them. I really need an extended period of house arrest (with internet access and pizza box delivery) to catch up.

I have done 2 LOs over the holidays - didn't even dent the stash - Studio Calico you have a lot ot answer for! So much lush stash, and not just to stroke hopefully!

Finally, I have decided to try and do the 365 photos for this year - managed so far - just. Not going to post them all on here though - that would be much to much effort and organisation, but maybe some highlights?...

Watch this space, it's a bit like watching paint dry, but just occasionally I might surprise myself.