Freefalling on a Sunday

Experienced a little rock and roll lifestyle today. No I didn’t trash any rooms or snort cocaine etc etc, but I did take the bike for a good old run along a beautiful stretch of road on a glorious Autumnal afternoon and then had a glass of wine in an idyllic village pub listening to a tribute band play ‘Freefalling’ by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ – one of my husband’s favourite bands!

It was one of those Sundays that are best summed up by one word – ‘bliss’.

My hubby kindly offered to look after the kiddywinks while I had a blast on the bike to Chichester. My destination? Goodwood for a well earned pampering session with my girlyfriend from good old skooldayz. We were at a strict all girls convent school (but didn’t conform to the stereotype – unless the stereotype is heterosexual tomboys with a love of all things on wheels and gee gees). I lost my virginity at sixteen so was legal – I think my friend was a little later. OK it did take me a little while to get used to testosterone in the class once I graduated to a co-ed sixth form college but I didn’t go mad.

Despite the fact my birthday happened at the beginning of the year, my friend bought me a professional back massage at the Goodwood Health club and then we gossiped our little hearts out in-between sauna (too hot) ..take a shower….turkish bath (too suffocating) …take another shower…and then a gentle swim like a pair of old grannies trying not to get our hair wet. I only had a small back-pack on the bike to fit everything in so didn’t bring a change of shoes. Hence the raised eyebrows when I stomped into the restaurant for afternoon tea in my biker boots but …they were comfy.

When we had said all that could be said between two girls after every topic of conversation had been covered and lots of tea drunk…we departed. She in her FMBs (fuck me boots) stepping into her MX5 and me (after grabbing my lid and jacket from her boot) astride my beloved little Honda CBF500. I then enjoyed winding my way through the Sussex countryside and enjoying the view (which you just don’t appreciate as much in a car) and practised my lines round bends (a little out of practice as don’t get out much).

The only problem is my six and a half year old daughter sees her mummy and daddy on bikes and is now starting to think about bike riding herself . I even caught her eyeing up the mini bikes in the Honda dealership the other day. My husband and I both have the same opinion when it comes to our daughter (and son for that matter on bikes) – NO WAY. Yet I roll my eyes when my Mum says to me to be careful when I go out. Its one rule for us and an entirely different rule for our children. Yes that is unfair but when is a good time to say “Okay give bike riding a go?” As any bike rider will tell you its the other fuckers you’ve got to worry about. I wear hi-vis yet I read a policeman on a bike (about as hi vis as you could get) was t-boned because the car driver ‘just didn’t see him’. Since learning to ride I have become a much, much better car driver. I think all car drivers should do a CBT to get a better appreciation of road awareness. Young drivers particularly would benefit from this. Even if my children don’t pursue bikes when they are older I think I will still encourage them to do their CBT. So that dumbos like my Step-dad get the message that ‘only a fool ignores the 2 second rule’.

Hope your Sunday was a good one too.

I am blogging to raise money for Unicef. If you are able to support my fundraising efforts, please visit my Unicef page.

Thanks for reading.

Twins – double trouble or double the fun?

A friend of mine has just discovered she is expecting identical twins. After the initial shock passed, zillions of practical questions sprung to mind. The more you think about the practicalities, the more potential tricky scenarios emerge. Such as:

– Do you dress them in matching outfits?
– How do you tell them apart?
– Do you attempt breastfeeding?
– Is your car big enough?
– Is your house big enough?
– Can you afford to go back to work given the childcare costs?
– What kind of names are best – do they both have to have similar syllables? Should they both be traditional names or more trendy?
– When they start school, should they be split or should they stay together? What year do you start this?
– Will you cope?
etc, etc ,etc the list is endless.

Like all things in parenting, you just have to bloody well get on with it. But even so, it is a very daunting prospect for my friend, particularly as she has a child already. To jump from a one child family to a three child family is quite a jump.

There is also the constant worry during pregnancy, as they are sharing the same placenta. The hospital wants to see my friend for regular scans and check-ups, which will make her working life tricky.

But, as with all children and family planning issues, there are pros and cons to every scenario. Twins share a unique bond, which is irreplaceable. Do they fight less than other siblings because of this bond and because there is a zero age gap? It really is a gift to have children full-stop but to have 2 in one hit – that’s just damned lucky – bloody hard work – but those parents are very privileged to have such a unique occurrence happen to them.

My friend is still thinking she can juggle her work once the twins arrived. I say put it on the back-burner for a long while yet. Why the rush? Of course she’ll need a break from them for her own sanity but to miss out on the early years of her twins as well as her other child is just crazy. As parents of children much older will tell you – you don’t want to rely on films and photographs to document their baby and toddler years – memories of living the moment with them are much much better.

For those who have to work fine. For those who feel they need to work – try it part-time but don’t be a weekend Mum – you are letting some of the best years of your life pass you by. The sad thing is, you won’t realise they were the best until its too late.

I am blogging every day to raise funds for Unicef. if you are able to support my fundraising please visit my Unicef page.

Thanks for reading.

How long can you go without eating?

I know you can go longer without food than water, given that our bodies are 70% made up of the stuff (or something like that). I missed a post yesterday because I was ill and dog tired. You know when you wake up and your tummy feels like its been on a roller coaster ride all night? You don’t feel like doing anything except laying flat on your back. Once upright you know you are going to be sick.

With that in mind, I still had to get up, feed baby, dress baby, feed kid, nag kid to get dressed, nag kid to turn off TV, nag kid to put shoes and socks on. Nag, nag, nag all the way to the school bus stop. I was freezing. Everyone else was in jumpers but I was dressed for an arctic winter (3 layers plus coat scarf and hat).

I then had to face work – the day from hell. My colleague was on holiday so doing the job of 2 people plus everything on deadline. I work part-time so that basically means that everything that has a deadline of a Monday or a Friday has to be done a whole lot earlier because I am not in the office on those days. So you basically have to work a whole lot more efficiently and harder for less pay. Don’t read this bit while you are eating but……once at my desk I stayed there all day because if I got up I knew I would need to rush to the bathroom. When lunch-time came around all my workmates (who I had fully briefed of the situation) tried to entice me to the dining hall but my appetite for food was the equivalent of my appetite for dog shit – I wanted to stay well, well away.

I was convinced that at some point I would start to get hunger pains but no, my body had battened down the hatches and was not letting up. I was wading through all the website work I had to do – boring repetitive clicking and clicking – while fighting off painful tummy cramps. I then had to write a few articles with poorly tummy induced writers block.

When I finally got enough courage to stand up and walk around a bit I went to get a camera from the bottom draw of a filing cabinet and wished I hadn’t. As I bent over I farted, not just any fart – it wasn’t noisy, it was deadly. If I had attempted to light it the place would have burnt down in minutes. If there had been a colour to it, it would have been shrek green. I thought to quickly abandon the area so the stench could not be linked to me but, to my horror, I was too late. Two of my workmates walked in behind me into, what must have been for them, an assault on their nostrils. I did not look at their expressions but instead went into denial and held my ground. I felt that was better than quickly fleeing as a) they already knew it was me anyway and b) in a strange way I felt by staying there I was claiming responsibility for the fart even though they didn’t say ‘euuuugh’ and wrinkle their noses (although they must have felt like it) and I didn’t say “sorry, yes, that was me….um…..I bent down for the camera at precisely the wrong moment, I will now attempt to fan it out of the window. Anyone got any oust?”

Since then I haven’t eaten, I am not deliberately starving myself, I just don’t fancy eating. Food is not in the agenda. My appetite was tested when I met my Mum for a coffee (the latte went down fine by the way so my tummy must be on the mend now) and saw a beautiful display of homemade cakes and chocolate loveliness and didn’t fancy any of it – not even a crumb. Now is it wrong that I am in fact enjoying this loss of appetite because I am thinking about how many pounds I might be shedding. Or is my body just going into starvation mode and just saving every pound of flesh it can? Either way I wonder how long you can actually go without food. According to an article discovered on a brief internet search, 2 months apparently!

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. For every missed day of blogging (like yesterday) I pay Unicef £1. If you are able to support me please visit my fundraising page.

Thank you

We are all Born free

I had a sobering letter today. I frequently receive letters from charities asking for support. I do when I can. My husband isn’t overly keen on charitable giving. Whereas I on the other hand started shaking a tin from the tender age of 3. On Saturday mornings my Mum and I used to sit outside our local pharmacist (or rather I would sit in a rather comfortable child’s wicker chair) and shake a tin for Oxfam. I don’t know whether my Mum was using me for pulling power but it worked. I helped collect a lot of money for Oxfam in the early eighties. My Mum’s help for Oxfam, a charity close to her heart, continued well into my teens when I was dragged around door to door in our neighbourhood shoving donation envelopes through the door. A month later I would return, my Mum doing one side of the road, I the other (reluctantly) going from door to door asking “We are collecting Oxfam donation envelopes can you spare some change?”. Most people were irritated by our call, which made it all the more squirm inducing, particularly as a teenager. Nethertheless it was satisfying when my Mum and I came away with a load of heavy envelopes (the lighter ones were the better with pound notes in them, although rare) to give to Oxfam knowing that we had help fund the charity and their work in Africa.

So, I have been brought up to believe that, when possible, you need to help others. We don’t believe in God and don’t go to church – we just want to help out. As I have got older I have also felt guilt at the lifestyle my family leads when only a few miles away, or even on our road a family is living in poverty. Also a few hours flight away and families are starving to death or forced from their homes because of war or living in captivity. I don’t see why I have this life and someone else has worse. I am grateful but I want everyone to have a decent standard of living. I don’t understand why that is too much to ask in 2012. However the ugly truth is we don’t like sharing and that sucks. We are also greedy, some more than others.

A letter arrives from Amnesty International about a guy from North Korea who was born in captivity. Since the day he was born, he was only allowed to eat when the North Korean authorities permitted him to, has scars on his back from torture and was made to watch the execution of his mother and brother because they attempted to escape. For the people trapped in these North Korean concentration camps they are there for simply watching South Korean TV or other such trivial things. Apparently your ‘crime’ trickles through generations so your children and parents are arrested too. The Authorities even conduct forced marriages between inmates in prison. This man, now 30, who was born in the camp, was as a result of a forced marriage and he was then brought up literally in hell. For 23 years he endured this existence, not knowing any other reality apart from sifting through cow manure to eat undigested kernels. Then one day he managed to escape, although his accomplice did not. With the change in power in North Korea Amnesty now believe the time is right to start an aggressive lobbying campaign to end the suffering in these camps. The camps have been growing in size and it is sickening to see their existence on satellite images nestled between mountains, trapping thousands of innocent inhabitants.

The people of Syria are also going through hell at the moment and are at the mercy of tyrannous leaders. When I left the paralympics there were people handing out flyers to join in the lobbying campaign to take action for the Syrian people.

My daughter has a book entitled ‘We are all Born free‘. It is a book designed for children with illustrations to help them understand injustice, how to recognise it and how to defend your rights. If you are able to support Amnesty’s campaign both in Syria and North Korea, please visit their site – support means lending your voice to the protest, not always about money – although it helps the campaigning!

I am blogging every day for Unicef, but for today please lend your support to Amnesty International particularly as September is the month that holds World Peace Day.

What age do we give up on the tooth fairy and Santa?

My daughter said “I’m glad I’m in year 2”. “Why’s that?” I reply. “Because I get to see Father Christmas a the school fair”. I couldn’t understand her logic until she explained that once you are in the juniors you don’t get to meet him. “That’s sad” I said. My daughter reassured me that they probably will get to see him later. But it made me think. Is it because the Headmaster and teachers know that by the time the children reach Year 3 (8), cracks start to appear in their belief? Then you get an awkward discrepancy between those who are still convinced that Santa exists and those who think its all of a load of rubbish.

Like all parents, I am not looking forward to the time when my daughter concludes that Santa doesn’t exist. Not just because it signals the end of Christmas magic (its never the same once  Father Christmas goes and it doesn’t really come back again until you become a parent yourself – f0r my daughter’s sake I hope this doesn’t happen in her teens!) No, the additional worry is keeping the magic alive for my son who will be 2. We have a large ‘gap’ between sproglets because I knew I wouldn’t cope with a 2 year age gap and then, as things in life tend to happen this way, it took me aaagggges to get pregnant again. In fact we had pretty much given up all hope and were thanking our lucky stars that we at least had one child (experiencing infertility and, unfortunately for us, a miscarriage gives you a whole new appreciation for the miracle of conceiving and then surviving pregnancy and scorn for people who seem to conceive at the drop of the hat and plan the size of the family like they are counting smarties)

So, I am going to have to do my utmost to ensure my daughter helps us to sustain the Father Christmas campaign for my little boy otherwise he will be 2 and saying “When are you gonna fill up my stocking mummy?”.

As children get older it is also more difficult to keep up the charade. They get clever and start to think – damn them.

My life is manic and I went to bed the other night with that nagging feeling that there was something I was meant to do before sleep. The following morning I here “Mummy the tooth fairy hasn’t been”. Shit, that was it, bloomin tooth fairy duty. Its hard to keep up with it as they are dropping out of her mouth faster than I have 50ps (also another hassle making sure you have enough change). So I attempt to explain why the fairy hasn’t been:

1) “You didn’t leave the window open”  (daughter replies “I did”)
2) “Ahh but which one?” (“the other one is locked”)
3) “The tooth fairy must have forgotten her key (“she doesn’t have a key”)
4) “Yes she does lots of people have window locks to prevent kids jumping off 2 storey buildings to retrieve sunglasses fallen on the patio” (my Husband once caught my daughter doing precisely this hovering OUTSIDE the window her feet dangling over the drop ready to jump) (“she’s only tiny how does she carry all the keys around?”)
5)” Through fairy magic” (“how does that work?”)
6) “Well she sprinkles fairy dust and the key magically appears”  (……there is a pause…..””where does fairy dust come from?”
7) “No-one knows…..um…anyway I’m sure she will be back tonight”  (“oooh she might have been this morning while I had breakfast I’ll go up and check”)
8) “No wait (that gives me an idea) lets give her a bit more time and then check just before school OK?” (“OK” reluctantly)
a few minutes later
9) “I’m just popping upstairs won’t be a sec” – at which point I quickly grab £1, go up to her room and chuck it on the floor under her bed (bear with me) and then go to get the tooth but where the hell is it? I go back downstairs
10) (Her school friend arrives and she whisks her to her bedroom) “Mummy she found the coin!” friend says “Oh great where was it” “under the bed” “aaaah I know what happened there is a spider above your bed isn’t there and he must have descended down on his little bit of thread and frightened the fairy away so she dropped the coin under the bed (daughter says “but why didn’t she take my tooth?”) “Because she was so scared she forgot to pick it up”
Seemingly satisfied my daughter then goes to school.

I have a massive guilt trip that I forgot (this was the second time I forgot) so when she gets home and I tuck her up for the night I suggest that we attempt to put the tooth under the pillow again. I say “Let’s put it in the little bag that Grandma made for you to keep it safe?” “But the last time I did that the fairy didn’t take the tooth so I don’t want to use that” (the last time I forgot was the first time she used grandmas special bag and ever since she hasn’t used it (hence more guilt).

So that night I wait until she is sleeping at the right angle, I go in with ANOTHER £1 (paying my way through the guilt trip), lift the pillow a little and…..where’s the bloody tooth? Oh no she has set a challenge for the fairy to test the power of fairy magic. So there I am desperately fumbling around for this titchy witchy tooth in the dark all the time trying not to disturb her and getting ready to roll under the bed at a moment’s notice just in case she wakes up. I finally find it in the carpet (phew) and add it to my collection like something out of the Predator movies.

I will do anything to not be the person responsible for breaking the make-believe…….or is it???? I wish the tooth fairy did exist because it would be one less thing off my to do list. We are going away for Christmas this year so am already thinking about how ‘Santa’ is going to cunningly disguise pressie from our house to a cottage in Snowdonia. Why hasn’t a business set-up to be Santa Claus – they’d have to be pretty trustworthy for you to let them into your house in the middle of the night but I think it would be a PLC before too long.

 At least there is The Polar Express to fall back on when doubt starts to creep in…

I am blogging every day to fundraise for Unicef. If you are able to support the campaign please visit my fundraising page.

Thanks

My husband picks up the phone to CID – what happened next?

He calls me and says, “guess what”, oh not that game again. When my other half first started his sentences with this excitement inducing question I quickly learned that the news wasn’t going to be all that exciting (I just won that tractor seat on eBay etc etc). However, today for the first time in God knows how many years I dared to let excitement build in my tummy. Its a shitty wet day, I’ve just driven 15 miles to a toddler group that was cancelled but not publicly announced (but it was on Facebook –  apparently if you don’t have a facebook profile, like me, then you are not important) so my baby son is in the back of the car wondering why the hell he has spent 30 minutes watching rain lash at the windows only to return home again. My husband says “guess what” and think to myself – “its got to be better than this”.

Which it was. First,…” CID called”. My first response is “shit what have I left behind now?”. A few years back while doing the insane London commute I left my wallet with everything in it on the train. As luck would have it I had been sitting next to a detective who managed to locate my address despite the only evidence of my whereabouts being a very out of date driving licence that not only had the wrong address but the wrong surname too (I couldn’t be arsed with the paperwork after I got married). So he calls up from the Met CID and tells me he has my wallet.

But no I still have my wallet so then I suggest “Did they recover one of your chainsaws?”. My husband is a tree surgeon which means he is a prime target for gypsy scumbags and I do not have enough fingers and hands to count how many times he has been broken into – both at his yard base and while out and about. I don’t read the Daily Mail but I feel I am justified in being derogatory towards “them”.

If they all looked like Brad Pitt it would make them a little less intolerable.

“Close” he says. So it was a time when the gypsys took something from us without paying but when was that (there really have been that many incidents – regardless of security measures we put in place). Anyway it turns out to be a horse trailer we owned 6 years ago. It has been recovered by CID when someone part exchanged ours in for a new one at a dealer. I have no idea what kind of state its in and we have no use for it now BUT it feels so good to have something returned to you, particularly after all this time. They traced it back to us because (thankfully) I registered it as stolen on the manufacturer’s database which has a log of all the serial numbers. I then forgot about it thinking it was now in Ireland carting some poor dobbin around. But no its only 12 miles away!

So if you have something stolen do whatever you can to make sure that you can be traced if, by some miracle, it surfaces a few years later.

We are now going to sell it (once we have cleaned it up as it must be in a sorry state) before the little fuckers nick it again!

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to support my fundraising campaign – visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks

Dad and his camera

I’m glad my Dad spent most of the time we were on holiday, at a special occasion or at a sporting event behind the lens of a video camera. As I was growing up I found it incredibly annoying. As a 2 year old I was prone to throw tantrums in a desperate attempt to tear my dad’s attention away from having one eye down the lens (with the old cine recorders). Of course he just smirked and carried on filming. As a result I now have, on DVD, some bizarre silent movies (because Cine didn’t record audio) of me having tantrums. It’s like watching them on mute. Also captured are various embarrassing antics: crawling into my dog’s kennel and getting my dress caught exposing my white bottom (for some reason my parents didn’t put me in pants); picking up my dog’s puppies by their necks while they desperately tried to wriggle out of my hands to avoid being strangled; playing in sand that my dad had bought cheaply from a builders merchant and turning orange in the process.

Its also weird to see my Dad with dark hair (he now blends in with all the little old ladies in town with his bouffant white hairstyle) and it is very novel seeing my Mum in ridiculously short home-made mini dresses. Also cool are the retro cars caught in the background, such as my Dad’s Vespa and the fashions of the seventies and eighties – the seventies sideburns on my Dad are legendary.

My daughter was spellbound watching me at the age she is now. She giggled away as she watched me attempt to ride a trike as a 3 year old. I am now going to make a concerted effort to film some special moments in my children’s lives. Not too much though but, judging by my dad’s historic archive of cine film, there is no such thing as too much because it is nice not to have to rely on memory to re-live moments in your past. It’s strange, it’s a glimpse into a life that has been and gone but every now and then you can re-visit it and that is why I’m glad my Dad liked to film our family.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you are able to support my fundraising campaign, please visit my fundraising web page.