Teaching Grandma to suck eggs

Feelings can’t be ignored. No matter how socially unacceptable/ acceptable your feelings are. Sometimes you can’t put bad feeling down to particular reason. You just feel like the situation sucks.

This is a situation common in families when resentment builds over a particular issue that is not discussed. In my case today, it was the fight for more attention from my in-laws towards my youngest child. It dawned on me that he is in his second year yet he has barely spent one hour of one-to-one time with them since he was born. This is exacerbated by his cousins who were born before and after him. Their mother, my sister-in-law, is not finding motherhood easy and employs a nanny four days a week to care for her oldest. Her youngest has unfortunately developed a sight condition and is receiving counselling to enhance his development. She is concerned that there may be further underlying issues. 

For her everything is bleak and the mere mention of the word visual impairment is enough to send her into tears. 

When we arrive at my in-laws for Easter, my sister-in-law is in the middle of feeding her children and complains that there is too much noise so her children can’t focus on eating. I promptly remove myself and my children to the other room so as not to disturb them.

I prefer my children to eat with the adults so did not bring special food for them in anticipation of a roast dinner with the relatives a little later. This turned out to be a lot later and when they finally got their food, my sister-in-law’s children were having their nap and she started to complain of the noise levels in the dining room as “their is a hole in the wall downstairs and when you are in the top bedroom where they are sleeping they can hear us”. So we are all trying to keep the noise down and I am trying to placate my youngest who is starving after waiting so long for his food (of course his cousins have already eaten so that’s fine he can wait). Then it is time for him to have a nap so my husband retrieves the buggy from the car as all the cots are taken up by the cousins. He thankfully falls asleep in the hallway and doesn’t stir despite the ‘noise’.

Once they are all up from the their nap the Easter egg hunt ensues and my eldest daughter goes with her younger cousin to hunt for eggs while we lag behind with my boy who hasn’t quite mastered walking yet. At no point is he involved in the egg hunt, all the focus being on my sister-in-law’s daughter and he is lucky to come away from it with one egg. I feel left out in the cold.

They then prepare supper for my sister-in-law’s children but it is too early for my children to eat as they had their lunch so late. My sister-in-law questions the content of the food supplied to her daughter arguing “but I’m not sure she has enough carbohydrate on her plate?”. “I’m sure she’ll be fine” says my mother-in-law. They then wheel out the cake which I have to offer to my son although he hasn’t had his dinner yet, thus spoiling his appetite for  later. In summary I felt the day totally disregarded the needs of my children, when they like to eat, sleep etc in favour of keeping my sister-in-law’s children in their strict routine thus keeping my sister-in-law happy.

I took the dogs for a walk with my boy towards the end of the day to get out of the house and away from all the unnecessary fussing. My husband was aware I wasn’t happy and argued that his sister has always been like this and his parents have always pandered to her whims. They have grown to tolerate this so I should accept it too. What makes it worse for me is that my eldest daughter received a lot more attention from my in-laws and that my youngest is not getting the same. He is only young once and they are missing out.

My husband argued that I should be more proactive about inviting them to see him, which had not occurred to me as they do not seek occasions to see my son separate to the occasional family gathering (which is dominated by my sister-in-law and her children). I feel rubbish for feeling like this, particularly as it feels like jealousy. Yet you can’t help what you feel and sometimes you have to put all of that to one side and recognise the issue for what it actually is – my son needs to see more of his grandparents. I can’t change the way my sister in law behaves or the way my in-laws react to her demands but what I can do is help  make my son more visible to them.

So if you are feeling irrational on a problem, particularly an emotive one related to family, I have concluded that it is helpful to strip away all the layers of ‘I don’t like this’ and ‘I don’t like that’ to highlight the heart of the issue and how best to solve it. I hope this advice has helped others to resolve any issues over this family intensive bank holiday weekend!

I am blogging every day to help raise money for Unicef so they are able to protect vulnerable children worldwide. I am aiming to raise £1 for every blog post. If you feel able to donate please visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.


A Cadburys cure for the cold

Day 2 of the Easter break

Calories consumed: at least 1500

Percentage of calories consumed purely through Cadburys Creme Eggs: 95%

Number of calories burnt off through vigorous exercise: 0

Yes, a big fat zero. Felt unashamedly awful for guzzling creme eggs like they were a tub of pringles. Once I had one I couldn’t control myself. This is why I don’t have chocolate in the house. But come Easter, when the eggs come flocking in, there is just no stopping me. My father has always kept chocolate in good supply. Since I was 8 he ensured there were plenty of chocolate bars in the cupboard for me to feast on during my weekend visits. Drifters, Twirls, Bountys – you name it. My Dad’s larder was like a sweet shop. He still doesn’t disappoint and gave me a dozen creme eggs this Easter. 

I wish I was the type of person who eats one chocolate from a whole tin and doesn’t return for another until a few days or even a week later. No, I have to eat them until they are gone.

My Mum is the same. She confessed tonight that she ate my son’s Lindt bunny before she had a chance to give it to him and all that is left is the bell. She justified it by adding that she thought that the chocolate was too thick for him and so has got him Chocolate buttons instead.

In fact so severe is her chocolate addiction, that one year she threw some spare easter eggs away after the holidays had finished to remove the temptation. A few hours later she found herself rummaging through the bin (the outside bin) to get at the chocolate.

So genetically I haven’t stood a chance. 

The only thing I can say in my defence is that chocolate is my only vice. I don’t smoke, I hardly ever drink alcohol and I don’t like red meat. 

I am in hibernate mode because of the cold and if there is Cadburys in the house it doesn’t last for long when I’m around. At least it is stored in the very top cupboard in the kitchen so that every time I reach for another treat I am stretching some tummy muscles……

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. I am aiming to raise £1 a day. If you can donate that’s please visit my page on the Unicef website to lend your support.

Thanks for reading.

The Declaration of Human Rights – a good bedtime read

I asked my daughter to choose a book for bedtime and she chose We are All Born Free a book designed by children illustrating all the articles contained in the international declaration of human rights.

It is published by Amnesty International and is an excellent book to prompt children to expand their minds beyond their worlds. Each article is illustrated by well know artists (including Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler) to highlight to children what the article is trying to achieve and/ or protect. 

As we looked at each illustration my daughter asked me questions such as “What is a religion?”; “Why would someone believe in another God?”; “Why does that woman have a blindfold on?” (when looking at a picture on the topic of fair judgement). It also raised awareness that not all children have a home to go to, a family to protect them or a free education. 

I don’t think you are ever too young to learn the principles behind human rights as it can only empower young minds and help them to expand their thinking beyond their status quo. 

So a very good bedtime read – please see Amnesty for more info.

I am blogging every day to help raise funds for Unicef. If you are able to help the campaign, please visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.

Talent brings out the worst

My daughter competed in a talent show tonight at a fundraiser event for the school. She and her friend did well and came second, pipped to the post by two boys doing a local rendition of Gangaman style. 

It was a fun event, I think. That is if you disregard the performances of some children who appeared to have been drilled and frogmarched into their routines against their free will. One little girl was unsure of how the props for her show had been positioned and paused long enough to cause her to panic prompting her Mum to shout across the stage to continue. This brought tears to her eyes and she fought them back for the duration of her performance, which was painful to watch as it clearly wasn’t a pleasant experience for her.

There were comic moments too. A girl performing a pot stacking trick struggled to grasp it on stage, and just when you thought she had got the hang of it the whole school hall was plunged into darkness in a power cut. In the pitch black you could make out the Headmaster muttering as he fumbled to find the trip switch and the sound of pots hitting the floor as the girl fumbled around in the dark. By the time the lights came back on I was crying with stifled laughter. By the time the lights came back on again the girl had mastered it.

There was one performance by a girl who has the misfortune of being the daughter of a particularly vile specimen of the social climbing variety. The type of Mum who has to check how much your joint income is and whether your house is detached before she will treat you with any respect or courtesy. Her singing was shocking but worse was her behaviour off stage. Every child was given a packet of mini eggs after the performance and she proceeded to try and steal the packets off children when their backs were turned. Her stealing was so prolific that she left a Mexican wave in her wake of Mum’s chasing after her trying to retrieve their children’s sweets. When she was confronted she was incredibly spiteful and I actually felt sorry for her as she was merely following the example of her parent.

However I must confess to some behaviour of my own that I am ashamed of. My mother was with me to watch the show and at the end when we cast our votes we decided to do some tactical voting to help my daughter’s chances along. I did not like the part of me that came out with “well the little girl that cried will get the sympathy vote so I won’t vote for her” and we ended up selecting the performances we thought were bad rather than good. I can’t believe I lowered myself to that level. Talent contests bring out the worst in people – there is something ugly about competition, particularly when adults treat their children like performing monkeys. So overall I believe they bring out the worst in people, including me – I felt like I was back in the playground again…..

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef to help them protect vulnerable children world-wide. I would like to raise £1 a day through my long-term blogging campaign, so if you are able to make a contribution to Unicef, please visit my page on the Unicef website

Thanks for reading.

Rekindling the classics with Kindle

Since my husband surprised me with a Christmas present – and a good one at that, a Kindle, I have been hooked. It is easy to read, lightweight to hold and best of all doesn’t feel like you are looking at a screen at all. That was my main concern as, like most of us, I spend more time looking at screens than looking at my children, sad isn’t it. So I had mixed feelings when I unwrapped the box and discovered another screen. 

I don’t quite understand how the digital ink technology works, but I find it easier to read than paper strangely. So I logged on to amazon to see what I could load as a starter in a library that can take thousands of books. Being a cheapskate, I hunted all the free downloads first and discovered the best books were free! I couldn’t believe my luck. Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Tolstoy – all free. So I started to select them and in less than 2 seconds they were on my Kindle – fabulous invention.

The battery lasts for ages too. In fact you resent the fact it needs charging every now and then as you start to treat it like a real book and it seems bizarre to have to plug it in to something.

I have also used it to read bedtime stories to my daughter and I enjoy searching for obscure titles and slightly quirkier and sometimes old children’s fables that I think she will enjoy. 

I have yet to use it for magazines but I am the type of person who likes to read magazines mainly for pictures than copy so not sure it would suit.

Because I have so many classics on the Kindle I am now, in my thirties, appreciating them as entertainment rather than the subject of a 3 hour long A Level exam – in my teens I just saw them as a chore. I still have the dog-eared paperbacks with the little post-it note markers and bright pink highlighted paragraphs for me to use as a time-saving reference point in an exam – yuk – no way to enjoy a book.

According to my Kindle I am 73% through Dickens’ Bleak House and am appreciating his writing in a way I hadn’t registered when younger. So Kindle has rekindled a love of reading – the oldest and most common past-time known to man but in a much cooler format.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you are able to help the campaign, please visit my page on the Unicef website – a £1 a day for this blog would be nice….

Thanks for reading.

Mind in a spin with MMR

I have some personal shit going on at the moment, which can’t be solved but can only be summed up to conclude that “you made your bed bitch so god-damn well lie in it.” There are times in life when we are very thankful for the decisions that we took and there are times when we think “shit, what did I go and do that for”. I am having one of those shit moments.

So to detract my mind from rubbish that can’t be solved, I am immersing myself into the parental dilemma that is the MMR vaccine. A very understanding nurse recommended that I visit the Green book website on the NHS site to understand exactly what potential side effects exist with each element of the MMR vaccine. I read each chapter on Measles, Mumps and Rubella and was convinced by the scientific data and the effectiveness of the immunisation in controlling the diseases since the 50’s, with cases registering a sharp decline since the 80s and 90s. 

Yes there can be side effects, the worse being febrile convulsions and conditions that can effect the brain. However the Green book points out that these conditions are more likely to occur with the wild virus. So what do you do? Take a gamble and choose not to immunise in the hope that your child doesn’t get measles or mumps and doesn’t get seriously ill with it. Or do you go ahead with MMR and hope that there are no side effects other than a mild fever and have faith that the allegations of a link with autism are scientifically unproven.

I read all the info on Wakefield’s Lancet article on the MMR and autism link, which has subsequently been discredited by the GMC and The Lancet as unsupported and even misleading. As a result of his scientific investigations, he was struck off the medical register for professional misconduct. Reports by a Sunday Times journalist refer to information obtained under FOI that seem to show Wakefield assessing the potential for significant financial gain in finding alternatives to the MMR vaccine for worried parents.

I try to avoid all the links to Daily Mail stories in my google search as I just don’t trust Mail journalists and I know that they seriously inflate and distort information for headlines. I then found a private clinic who offer the single vaccine and have a separate tab on their website entitled ‘autism’, which has links to stories such as the Daily Mail to fuel the fear.

My main concern is to get Mumps protection for my baby boy as Mumps, as well as being particularly unpleasant, can lead to sterility. However, there is not currently a way of obtaining a single vaccine in the UK – even privately.

So now I am in a quandary. My head says that the MMR is safe according to all the scientific research but my heart is questioning ‘what if’. However the same could be said if I leave him unprotected and he gets the wild virus. The very kind nurse who understood my dilemma, rather than tut-tutting me, understood my concerns and mentioned that there is the option of leaving it slightly later, once all the key developmental milestones are out of the way and then vaccinating then. So at present that is the conclusion I have settled for – but then how long do you leave it? Until primary school – but he could still develop problems then that hinder his learning – aaaarrrgh my head is in a spin! Would welcome other bloggers thoughts/ opinions/ advice.

I am blogging every day to fundraise for Unicef to help them in their campaign to protect vulnerable children worldwide. If you are able to help achieve my goal of £1 a day through this blog, please visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.

Shopping ethically and ecologically

So a few posts ago I mentioned that I was approaching Tescos about their bizarre policy not to sell biodegradable nappies despite actively encouraging shoppers to re-use shopping bags to be ‘greener’. This is clearly lip service to preventing waste as nappies are even worse than plastic shopping bags for clogging up landfill sites and taking decades to rot. It looks like Tescos are more motivated to cut cost in producing shopping bags and instead make money selling the reusable ones. To be fair to the customer service team, they have taken my comments on board and, although acknowledging they no longer stock Naty nappies, have passed on my feedback on biodegradables to their ‘buying’ team. Lets hope they realise the mixed messages they are sending through their stocking decisions.

On the subject of Tescos, my husband was moaning profusely about the amount I was spending on food shopping. So, I decided to hand the reins to him and see if he could do better. He rather smugly turned round to me after submitting an online order with “There I got everything for under £80”. His version of everything is enough to keep his packed lunch going for a week with a few scraps for the kids and I and nothing for the dogs. Not to mention guzzling horse and tasteless battery chickens. So, I logged in and quickly amended the order and managed to save us a few pounds – however because I now refuse to buy meat from Tescos I am not really saving money. But, despite the recession, I would rather spend a few pounds more and know that my beef is beef and the chicken at least had some quality of life prior to decapitation. I also like to support our local butchers and farmers.

I think times are a changing and the days of globalisation of supermarkets are over. Judging by the success of our little village shop, the era of ‘open all hours’ is returning. I’m sure there will be lots of little Arkwright’s popping around the country with customers returning to buying local, in the confidence that they know what they are eating. With the rising cost of transportation and fuel, it makes sense for food to not travel as far to market.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef to help their campaign to protect vulnerable children world-wide. If you are able to support my bid to raise £1 a day through this blog for the charity, please visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.



Forgotten Summer

Enough already! Shit weather gives way to more shit weather. Often when it rains the temperature rises a little bit but no. This has been the coldest winter since ’63 apparently and don’t we know it – freezing rain is so pleasant to walk through. 

Who came up with the bollocks about cold weather killing bugs and illness. My family are just one big illness at the moment, with temperatures, sick bugs chest infections, you name it. My baby boy is the longest suffering going from one illness to another and I have barely been at work as a result.

My husband sounds like the Godfather because his cough is so bad that he can’t talk any more. Plus he is as tense as a runner on the start-line of a big race because his work is one bloody dilemma after another.

In my last post I talked of admiring the British character that identifies the plus side of shitty situations – well I have a major sense of humour failure at the moment. 

The only saving grace is that we are not fleeing Syria right now – our problems are nothing compared to the innocents trapped in a war torn country. So, that is why I am blogging every day, to have a rant about anything and hopefully raise some money for Unicef to protect vulnerable children world-wide. I aim to raise £1 a day.

For any missed days I donate £1 in fees per day – so another £1 goes in the pot for yesterday as I was feeling like shit and turned in early.

To help put the Unicef campaign, please visit my page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.

A whole new meaning to mobile phone

Mobiles are both a good and a bloody awful invention. They are good because you can call people in remote areas regardless of where you are – that’s also why they are bloody awful. Thankfully there are still a number of patches in the UK where there is no reception so you can have a break from being on the other end of a phone at all times.

My biggest resentment is that I have to ensure it is on my person at all times. I wish I had a magnetic force that enabled the phone to stay with me though because, reluctantly, I have to admit most of the time I need the blooming thing. Other people, family and friends require me to have it. So, when it goes missing, which so often happens with me, I despair.

This time it was my work phone that decided to do a disappearing act. Since losing my Blackberry off the roof of  my car, I have tried several different models, all of which are shit at texting. My husband has let me have his Motorola which is much easier. It is a black brick and closely matches the look of my work phone – another black brick. It is funny that phone design has returned to the eighties. I have gone from barely noticing my phone and hunting for it in my bag to lugging the two giants around and searching pockets big enough to accommodate them.

But the bloody thing still managed to slip from my bag as I ran to powerhoop. Then a relay race ensued from the paper boy who picked it up to the man from the house nearby to the father of the man who lived nearby who then spoke to me when I rang it in desperation.

What really gets me is that everyone else seems to be able to keep hold of their phones. Yet I seem to be on a mission to dispose of them. My phones have been annihilated on roads, thrown from a galloping horse, left in the garden to rot, chucked in bins and, more recently, dropped down the loo AFTER I had just weed.

I am blogging every day to help raise money for Unicef to protect vulnerable children worldwide. If you are able to help, please visit my page on the unicef website – I am aiming to get £1 per blog.

Thanks for reading.

A safe penpal site

My daughter is keen to have a penpal. Her school set up a connecting classrooms project for which there were only a few spaces for children who wanted to connect with other children in African classrooms on topics such as the environment, health and family. Twenty-five children applied according to my daughter and there were only about 10 places so they asked the children to vote, which was a shame because it just became a popularity contest. My daughter was disappointed that she didn’t make the final cut despite support from her friends. So I wanted to channel her enthusiasm elsewhere by signing up to a penpal project in Africa. But where do you start on the whole safeguarding issue? I found one site that looked genuine, but how do you know for definite that its not just a front for a paedophile ring?

It’s a shame we live in a world like this but this is the one downside to the internet – it enables child grooming.

So I contacted the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency (CEOP) to get their guidance on the safe way to hook up with online penpals – I will let you know how I get on. 

If anyone else has experience on this I would welcome advice……although how do I know that your not a paedophile – OMG am I paranoid or what? But the internet is so intimate yet so faceless at the same time that there is no evidential reason to trust it as far as you can throw Bill Gates.

I am blogging every day to help fundraise for Unicef to help them protect vulnerable children worldwide. I aim to raise £1 through this blog. If you can help my campaign (which has kind of morphed into a social experiment to see if blogs can help with fundraising!) please visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.