Giving life events the ‘nudge’

I have been contacted by Save the Children to sign a petition to encourage William Hague MP and the UN to ensure the protection of children during Syria’s conflict by negotiating the following three point plan at the peace talks taking place later this month, they are:

– Not to prevent life-saving aid from reaching children

– Do not target, or use for military use, hospitals and health facilities

– Do not use explosive devices in populated areas

It took less than a minute to sign the petition so if you can add your name to it and help Save the Children reach 10,000 signatures please visit the petition site here.

Earlier today I experienced the number one problem of working Mums – an ill child at nursery. Turns out he has an ear infection and thank God for my Doctor and antibiotics, which will hopefully kick-in in time for our flight on Saturday. I am amazed at how quickly his temperature shoots up and relieved that calpol, a must have in any mum’s arsenal of life’s must have’s, quickly brings it back down again. I cant imagine what it must be like for mothers who have nothing but water to ease a fever.

It highlighted the problems I may have if I decided to go for a new job opportunity that has cropped up. It means more hours, less time with the family, but potentially a better lifestyle long-term and eases the earning pressure off my husband. So do you opt for the short-term or long-term? My answer is to apply and let fate do the rest. I am a great one for giving things a little ‘nudge’ and then like a river, just go with the flow of events.

Try not to, laugh, but my husband is getting his first wax treatment tomorrow (I know it is hysterical). He is going for the back but was tempted by the beautician into having his eyebrows too. I will let you know the results tomorrow 😊

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – it would be great if you could donate to this campaign – any contribution would make my day.

Thanks for reading.

 

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Out in the cold and wet

England is soggy. The ground is so saturated with water that every step you take is ‘squelch, squelch, squelch’. Outside is muddy, inside is muddy, trees are dripping, noses are dripping and the skies are grey. My husband is a tree surgeon and earlier this morning, I gazed out of my office window and looked at the hail stones bouncing off the grass in this atrocious weather and wondered whether my husband was out in it. Apparently he was at the top of a very tall tree. He said he thought about getting out of the tree and waiting for it to calm down but he knew the climb back up again in soaking wet gear would be even worse. So he carried on sawing as the hail stones pelted onto his helmet.

Its at times like these when, more than ever, my thoughts turn to the homeless and the cold impossible situations they must find themselves in. The charity Crisis looks after the homeless and tries to find a way out from the streets. Their website features case studies of people who have ended up on the streets for a variety of different reasons. Some people do it to escape abuse, others because of severe financial circumstances. One story tells of a young man who was so cold he contemplated sleeping in a bin to create a barrier from the cold that had seeped into his bones.

Every Christmas the lady that runs my son’s nursery helps out at Crisis to provide food, warmth, shelter and counselling services to the homeless over Christmas. This year they successfully managed to find homes and jobs for over 80 homeless people in the centre that she worked in. However they could only provide places for 350 homeless as opposed to 450, because they did not have enough volunteers. If I can get childcare this year, I hope to volunteer this Christmas. The charity put out their appeal for volunteers around October time so put it in your diary to check put their website if you fancy helping too.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – see my page on Unicef’s site here and please donate if you can.

Thanks for reading.

Darwins female model

If you haven’t seen Ben Stiller’s ‘the secret life of Walter Mitty’ yet then do your soul a favour and go see it.

Without giving too much away, it shows how each of us are on a journey, which is slightly chaotic as you never know what is going to happen in life. I explained to my daughter earlier that if there is one thing I have learned in my 30 plus years, it is that there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ person. We are all nuts in our unique ways – some are nuts for good and some are nuts for bad. The trick is to ‘let your freak flag fly’.

I am slightly nuttier than usual because I am not getting much sleep, mainly through excitement in the build up to our holiday of a lifetime this weekend. I haven’t been to Disney world sine the 80s and I can’t wait to be there again, albeit slightly older – but I haven’t changed that much. Through the brilliant advice of blogs like ‘allgoodinmommyhood’ I have become slightly obsessive over Disney prep and planning but I have left it rather late. So I was so pleased when I was able to get my daughter a birthday meal at Cinderellas royal table in the castle and a pamper session at the bibbidi bobbidi boutique. I don’t know who is more excited me or her.

In anticipation of week 2 of our holiday in the Caribbean, I had my first ever wax treatment today – I took the plunge and had everything off. Well actually, I was glad I didn’t go for the Brazilian as my pain threshold wasn’t that high, but even so it was liberating to walk out of the salon as smooth as a baby (and slightly smarting). I am quite hairy for a lady. The beautician actually indicated on me where her natural bikini line is and it is a country mile from mine, which is half way down my thighs like a pair of side burns. Its almost as if whoever decides on your sex at conception was indecisive with me and opted for the ‘girl’ button at the last minute leaving little time for big bust genes and minimal body hair genes to work their magic. Whenever you see an illustration of Darwin’s evolution theory you always see the gorilla turn into the guy. Well if they ever wanted to be politically correct and show the same process with a female then my body, pre wax treatment, would demonstrate the ‘transition’ phase very well. I get hair on the tops of my feet, around my belly button and on my top lip…..eurgh! I hear you exclaim.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. I aim to make at least a pound a day for the charity so if you can donate that would be fab, visit Unicef’s site here.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Where to stick it

A week before we are due to depart, I decide to check out whether we need immunisations for the Caribbean. “No”, exclaims my Dad, “they don’t get mosquitoes in the western Caribbean”. As much as I respect and love my father, I decide to get a second opinion.

If you are travelling to any country it is worth checking on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) website for the latest updates on virulent diseases and epidemics present in the country of your destination. In our case both Jamaica and Haiti sites on WHO advised innoculations to protect against typhoid and hepatitis A. So I begin the difficult task of locating a medical centre that can get us all jabbed up within the next 7 days.

After 4 phone calls including a couple to Virgin cruise holidays (who would not give any advice except to say we needed to consult with our GP), I found a doctor who just so happened to be running an emergency travel clinic that very morning and said she could see us as soon as we could get down there (which took about 45 mins). Once we arrived, after a short wait, she showed us in to her room and discussed our requirements. Within 5 minutes, we had established that baby boy needed 3 jabs (travel vacs plus a single measles vaccine as he hadn’t had MMR (as I am not entirely comfortable with that jab at his young age). Turned our I also needed 3 jabs as I couldn’t recall having the polio and tetanus jab within the last 10 years.

Before we became human pin cushions, she went through a list of the prices, I gulped as she said, “this one will cost £75, this one will be £110, I started to tot them up in my head and knew it would be a few hundred but a price worth paying.

After poor baby boy had all 3 jabs and screamed “all done!”, which is his way of saying “enough already”, it was time to pay the bill.

“That will be £500 please”….(gulp)….”ok” I said with a grimace and reluctantly handed over my cars. I felt like running out the door….what was she going to do now the vaccine was in our bloodstream anyway? But of course I paid. Even my daughter said “how much..wow that’s expensive” which is exactly what I was thinking but didn’t dare say our loud. The doctor shifted in her seat uncomfortably. As if to make up for it, she started giving me a load of leaflets (although a sticker for the kids wouldn’t have gone a miss).

I left with arms smarting from the pin prick, two grumpy children and an anxiety attack over the prospect of justifying the bill to my hubby.

That explains why I didn’t post a blog last night. My mum turned up to babysit the children so we could go to the cinema, but me and hubby were too busy arguing about the bill – he was already depressed because of busting a gut all week with hardly any return and then (I quote) ” I go and blow £500 on jabs we don’t need”. When you start to think about what that could buy while in Orland in our first week away, it is soul destroying, but you can’t put a price on protecting your children from lethal illnesses – I am lucky I am able to do it as many parents have to cope with the risk.

Eventually we left for the cinema to see “the secret life of Walter Mitty” a brilliant film and appropriate for the situation we found ourselves in that night – more on that tomorrow.

As I missed last night, I will put a pound in the pot to Unicef – if you can donate to UNICEF please visit their  site here.

Thanks for reading.

Thumbs up to Royal Caribbean and Thumbs down to Virgin Atlantic

So,

In two weeks time, myself and my family will be  travelling to Haiti as part of a week long Caribbean cruise. I want to contribute to the Haitian community while we are there, so I thought it would be helpful to take clothing and bedding with me to give to the community when we arrive. Through my involvement with a local collection for the Philippines appeal towards the end of last year, I am aware of how costly it is to ship a container of stuff half way across the world – so I figured I may as well make the cost of my plane ticket (and the damage to the ozone layer in kerosene fuel) worth it.

My first port of call (scuse the pun) was to contact Royal Caribbean, who we are cruising with, to find out if they are OK with me bringing clothing donations via their huge vessel to Haiti to distribute. I was put on hold on the phone for a short period while they call centre lady checked with her colleague and she confirmed that it was absolutely fine (although I got the impression that this request isn’t something that they receive a lot, judging by the tone of voice and the lack of any topics relating to donations on their website’s FAQs.

So with one multinational corp ticked off as a positive, I then approached Virgin Atlantic and they asked me to send an email to their ‘Community Investment team’. Below is my email to them nd the response that I received….

From: tom marter Sent: 03 January 2014 13:10 To: Community Investment Subject: Travelling with donated goods for holiday in Haiti

Hi,

We will be visiting Haiti as part of a package cruise booked through Virgin with Royal Caribbean. RC have said to us that we can bring donations of clothing and bedding to give to the people of Haiti during our stay. We wondered if there is a special luggage allowance provided by Virgin for charitable donations as we would like to take a suitcase worth of clothing for Haiti residents in addition to our own personal luggage.

From: Virgin Community Investment team

Thanks so much for your email requesting free of charge excess baggage.

Regrettably, in the face of extremely high fuel prices, we’ve had to make the tough decision to discontinue our policy of waiving the cost of excess baggage for charities and individuals.

Although we have always been happy to allow free of charge excess baggage, we have on some occasions felt that the items being taken could have been purchased in the country that is being visited rather than here in the UK which is also a boost to their local economy. However, we do realise this isn’t always possible and you can still purchase an additional 23kgs for £55.00 online at http://www.virgin-atlantic.com.

So sorry we cannot help on this occasion but we do hope you understand.

With warm regards,

Kay

Community Investment Team

……Although this email was very mindful of pleasantries, ‘Kay’ is basically saying, ‘the price of environment polluting aviation fuel is eating into Branson’s disposable income, so if you want to help the poor people in Haiti either buy a load of stuff from them and then give it back to them while you are out there OR give Branson a 55 quid tip and you can be charitable. Shit isn’t it? So this was my response (also ccd to the editorial desk of the Guardian’s travel section and reporters from the Third Sector magazine….

Hi,
I am disappointed about this change in policy, I expected Virgin, of all airlines to have a corporate social responsibility policy resilient to economic forces. The items we intend to take are good quality second-hand clothing and bedding, as far as I am aware the cruise only resort of Labadee mainly sells tourist items that would not necessarily be of use to the average family. We will do our best to take what we can within the limit. As for the suggestion of an additional  55 pounds – I think Oxfam or Unicef would benefit far more from a donation of 55 pounds than Virgin Atlantic Inc.
I am hoping this will not be a problem and we will be able to make a positive contribution to the local community in Haiti during our visit without having to pay unnecessary fees. It is a shame that big corporates put barriers up to goodwill – this policy is more in keeping with British Airways’ corporate reputation.
Kind regards
Tom Marter
I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can help, please donate here.
Thanks for reading

Feel the burn!

As I sit down to type this following my first exercise class of 2014, my thighs are still screaming mercy after several crunches involving a mat and  football. Just when I thought my body had found its limit, along would come the fitness instructor to do ‘a little adjustment’ through making it hurt even more “and now lift your head up” – at which point I started panting like I was breathing through contractions.

The instructor looked like a cross between Madonna, Darcey Bussell and hair like Sharon Osbourne (only about half the size of Madonna and Darcey) and if I had glanced at her CV, I wouldn’t have been surprised to read ‘Champion Irish Dancer’ and ‘graduate of the National Ballet’. To say I felt physically inferior was an understatement. But this was good as it gave me something to aim for (not that I have a hope in hell of replicating her physique but a bit of her flexibility, strength and muscle shape wouldn’t go  a miss).

This was a taster session for the new ‘pic and mix class’ – no sweets were involved, just a lot of sweat. For me, I know I have worked hard when my ‘moustache’ is wet – ‘Nice’ I hear you chorus. I am intrigued to know whether I will be able to walk tomorrow or whether it won’t kick in til the day after, either way I hope I will be recovered in time to do it all again next week – there is something rather pilgrimage like about enjoying exercise classes – for some reason, if it hurts then it must be good.

Hopefully I have burnt off enough calories to cancel out some of the lemon drizzle cake I baked earlier – wet and stormy weather is not good for the diet when all you can do is bake and eat.

Incidentally if you fancy a good recipe for lemon drizzle cake check out the BBC Good Food website.

This blog aims to entice you to donate some spare cash to Unicef – please read about the Unicef campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

2014 – bring it on!

Wow its 2014! What a Christmas was had in the South East of the UK. Power cuts, floods and general chaos. At one point we contemplated barbecuing our turkey outside on the chiminea because of the power loss (which would have been interesting as it was a bird big enough to fed 8-9 people). However Father Christmas came to the rescue and brought power with him as well as present for my  daughter and son (a rather lovely painting of a Swift 18 sail-boat for my daughter and a fire-engine for baby boy).

We were lucky, many people were out of power for the entire Christmas week. One day was a novelty – wrapping presents by head-torch, eating supper by candlelight, kids unable to watch TV) but beyond that it was a nuisance. My in-laws were putting up with a freezing cold circa 1600’s house, giving them a glimpse into what life was like for the inhabitants when it was first built. When the power eventually returned they then they lost water. We all got a healthy dose of realising what we take for granted.

This year we actually did something for New Year’s Eve. A few of us went round to a friend’s house, brought food and children and then proceeded to wreck the place (the children made quite a mess too). My baby boy eventually passed out at 11.15 and my daughter counted down to midnight with some of her classmates. It was great and well worth the baking frenzy earlier on in the day as we all scrabbled to get food together. We also played a game where we wrapped unwanted christmas presents and swapped them round the table at each roll of the dice. It got very competitive and a bit random (husband wearing my friends pair of Calvin Klein pants that she got for Christmas from her husband but were too small). I have yet to try them on but don’t fancy my chances….

I looked back at my blog post this time last year and was glad to read that I had completed some New Year’s resolutions – I raised, with my friends, over 200 pounds for the Bhopal Medical Appeal (a charity that helps the victims of the lethal chemical spill in India in the early 80’s that killed thousands and maimed thousands more). I also swam nearly 100 lengths for Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Swimathon. This year I will aim to swim nearly 200 lengths. I also want to research aid for Haiti as I will be visiting that country later on this month as my Dad has treated me and my family to the holiday of a lifetime cruising the Caribbean.

For newcomers to this blog, I write a post every day to encourage bloggers and visitors to WordPress to donate to Unicef – the charity that works to protect vulnerable children world-wide. For every day I miss a post, I donate one pound to Unicef. Over the Christmas period I have missed 8 posts, so that’s 8 pounds to Unicef. So far I have raised 92 pounds so I am now aiming to hit 200 pounds. If you would like to donate to the cause visit my page on Unicef’s site here.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!