What excites a housewife?

I once said to my Mum when I was in my late teens/ early twenties, “If you catch me in a garden centre on a Sunday browsing or using a rolling pin before the age of 40 then shoot me (or at least remind me about life being too short etc).

Of course I have done/ used both, over and over again and I have a few years yet until 40 so no doubt lots more trips to garden centres and lots more uses of the rolling pin. The only time my husband uses it is when he is de-frosting the freezer, which brings me nicely on to my next subject…..

What I did not bank on in my late teens, was how very domesticated I would become. To the extent that, like any modern day housewife since the ’50’s, I get very excited about upgrading domestic appliances and their gadgetry.

We have proudly owned the same fridge/freezer for 13 years. It started off with us as a couple in our tiny shoebox starter home and has since moved 6 times and accommodated the food of our growing family.  But now it is just getting too small, if you let the fridge odour eaters run-out in it then it starts to smell like something has crawled inside it and died, one of the freezer boxes is half snapped off and the milk carton shelf is bolted on to the door because it kept collapsing.

So having made the decision to say goodbye to an appliance that has kept our food fresh since the early years of our relationship, I found myself on the floor of Curry’s exclaiming in public wonderment at the size of a new freezer’s capacious drawers – things had reached a whole new level. A woman in her fifties overheard my excitement and laughed…..pitiful.

My husband and I then spend an hour watching short films about fridges on ao.com. Sad isnt it?

Even sadder, the brand of the fridge matches the dishwasher, completely by coincidence, but that pleases me for some reason.

Aaahh……….I need to do something like…….jump out of a plane, wing-walking, anything…

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Good news gives

I received an email from Oxfam today. I clicked on it, wincing, in preparation for what horrible headlines and images would greet me to make me feel bad and want to do something despite money being tight. Refreshingly the newsletter led with an incredibly positive story about how people were successfully rebuilding their lives following Typhoon Haiyan. Another story followed about how the charity’s team are pulling together successfully to fight Ebola. I then wanted to click on their website and find out more. Other good stories popped out including children in a UK primary school who had used their points for good behaviour to buy an Oxfam gift to an African village of a chicken. Other gifts include a goat, seeds, medicine, food etc. Oxfam even offer a wedding list service to buy resources for people in need – makes a refreshing change to John Lewis.

In fact, it is not penguins that should be making us coo with sentimentality during Christmas adverts, its people pulling together to help others.

With the opportunity to buy vintage designer wear through the Oxfam site and even wedding dresses there is now the opportunity to indulge in some shopping and know that you are helping society in the process – genius!

I received a letter from the NSPCC and on the envelope there was a picture of a depressed child and a slogan about tears not joy at Christmas. I couldnt face opening it, so decided to wait until later. Now I cant find it and suspect my husband may have put it in recycling for fear of the clash between our budget and the calls from an increasing number of charities to give. I now have over 10 missed calls from one charity call centre over a one week period asking me to set up a Regular donation. Im not in a position to do so But give when I can.

But this is never enough and the bad stories keep flooding in.

Charities like Oxfam know good news in many ways can be more motivating for people to lend their support. If something good is happening, you want to help to keep that good flowing.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Black Friday, cycling and confusing astronauts with aliens

We havent been tempted to spend today during Black Friday. It is fascinating to see how human beings react to an early sale. People stampeded by crowds, a woman injured as she refuses to relinquish her clutch on a big TV. It is a day of capitalism on steroids.

I wonder whether it is really savings people go crazy for, or the hype.

What would happen if say, for one day, prices went up and the hype was that the prices were going up on high-end products that were about to sell-out. It would be an interesting social experiment.

This week I have completed my first job as a provisional cycling instructor. I say provisional because I need someone to come out and assess my ‘delivery of the curriculum’ before I am qualified. As I have mentioned in past posts, I have a soft spot for the instructor who is to observe our teaching, which is very distracting and unhelpful. He wonders why people darent look at him while being assessed, I wonder if he knows the real reason.

I loved every minute of it and the enjoyment almost outweighed the monkey nuts for wages. I was disappointed with one of the instructor’s views on a boy with autism who had not managed to progress to level two on the roads. She had basically written him off for life, which was sad because all week while we were out on the roads with the other kids, he was progressing and getting better.

Now my boy has turned three, if anyone talks to him or asks him a question he replies with ‘I’m three’. There are so many things he is doing and saying that I want to record in his baby book. At the moment he is learning his lines for Joseph in the nativity and how to say them loud so everyone can here.

He also thinks astronauts are aliens.


This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for re

Lateral jobhunting

I am having fun cobbling together some kind of a means of earning a living around childcare. Im the lucky one in that I am one half of a joint income partnership, albeit a modest one. But when you have to shoe-horn work around nursery and school pick-up and drop off times you have to think laterally.

Thinking laterally for me means scanning Gumtree jobs for anything part-time that makes me think ‘yeah I could do that’.

I like Gumtree jobs because some of the positions are quite off the wall. Its also the kind of place where you will find people who just want a little bit of help with childcare/ house-hold chores/ dog grooming/ horse care etc – all of which I have plenty of experience of but have never been paid.

I already have two little jobs. One working from home and one teaching children to cycle on roads but both pay a fraction above the minimum wage. In fact I would earn more working in a petrol station. Oil still rules the world but I dont fancy being its mistress.

While I find income I still have to pay the HMRC for the childcare costs they shouldnt  have paid me last year because I was over the threshold of eligibility. Well in that case they neeto re-assess the limit because I had to leave a perfectly good job because it was no longer earning anything after childcare. A bullshit system ? Must be the Tories….

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Engineering social change?

I have just finished sewing on the final badge on my daughter’s brownie sash after completing her Brownie promise ceremony. This is a rather bizarre ceremony where she is spun round a few times in front of a tin foil dish (representing a pond) while the others chant to turn her from a person into a Brownie. She insisted that Daddy was present along with baby boy (who slept through the whole event). I was proud that she had learned the promise and guide law off by heart and it clearly was important to her, which in turn made it important to us (although hubby mumbled something about it being a bit girly unlike cubs). Personally I think separating the  sexes in this way is all a bit ‘old hat’ and many Cubs and Scouts groups take girls because they do more outward bound stuff but Brownies has also been modernised too…..although not convinced by things like the ‘hostess’ badge. But the principle of helping others is a good one.

I only lasted a week in Brownies, but back then it was all about sewing and baking, neither of which I do particularly well. As evidenced by my pin-pricked hands after sewing her sash.

I watched the last in the series of Guy Martin’s speed challenges, which focused on achieving the fastest speed  in nothing but a gravity powered go-kart. To help him achieve his goal were a team of female engineers, scientists and a champion luge racer. One of the engineers helps the army build tanks. I said to my husband, if our daughter gets involved in something along those lines I would be as pleased as punch. Women portrayed as anything more than models of style or looks is still a rarity in mass media so to have female professionals on mainstream TV working on a project was brilliant.

It made me wonder what inspired them to choose a career path which is still relatively difficult for women to enter? I doubt it was due to Brownies but am hoping things will change….

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Wish it was Sunday….

“Just another manic Monday (la le la), I wish it was Sunday (la le la)”

And this is my verse from today……

Got up fairly early and did my exercises before breakfast…..

Baby boy and girl were having fun with their new toys downstairs..

Made a mental note to leave early coz the frost was covering up the car windows….

But when I put the key in the ignition, the truck wasnt going anywhere…

(dum dum di dum didi dum do dum di dum do dum)

Children freezing on the pavement wondering how they gonna make it to school

Made a call to the husband but the phone just kept saying he wasnt there…..

Glanced at the watch to see if there was any chance we could make it to the bus stop…

But by the time I got our bags everyone had gone and we were the only ones left standing there

Just another manic monday (repeat)

So I flagged down my neighbour and the kids and me jumped in the back

But not before I had already called the school secretary whod said shed get her hubby to call back

The phone started ringing while I put baby boy in the car seat

Once we were going grabbed my phone and called the number right back

Noone picked up so I left it and focused on the journey

Thanked my neighbour as we walked in to the school entrance hallway

Got a glare from the school secretary whose husband had driven round especially

Apologised profusely but pushed my luck asking for a ride to my Dad’s

She said ‘you better call him’ implying he was gonna be kind of mad

Just another Manic Monday…….

My neighbour kindly offered to give me a ride to my daddy’s work (dont usually call him that but it sounds better)

We pulled up outside his office I waved goodbye and I watched her drive off

Then afterwards I realised she still had baby boy’s car seat in the back,

Interrupted my Dad’s meeting so I could grab the keys to his Honda

Got on my way to work then finally got the call from my hubby

He said ‘Its just a flat battery, get the charger from the shed and just fix it

I sighed and rolled my eyes and said ‘As if I have time for all that’

Just another Manic Monday, I wish it was Sunday’

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Remember November

Thank God for a village hall at the end of the road for the party venue given the abysmal rainy weather. My now three year old went to bed happy in his new George from Peppa Pig PJs, with a belly full of sausage rolls cucumber dips and chocolate cake, a head full of good memories of bouncy castles, new toys, balloons and, best of all his shiny new little tikes pick-up truck – I even have movie footage of him riding along in it with his first ever girlfriend, Sam, sitting in the back.

My father dutifully tolerated the two hours of carnage as children bounced, charged and hollered their way round the hall. The oldies and parents kept their energy reserves up with tea/ coffee/ wine on tap.

My daughter also had a good time despite it not being her birthday. She helped write the list of thank you letters and harboured a secret liking of all his new toy cars – like mother like daughter. I still remember my toy General Lee complete with speed ramp. Must make a mental note to put cars on her Christmas wish list.

For all the planning and effort that goes into children’s parties (as well as the cost), you just cant beat the excuse to share time with friends and family and have a good occasion to act as a backdrop for the pictures that you will hold dear for the rest of your life.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Bigger Digger, Bigger Bakes

It is baby boy’s birthday tomorrow and I have baked, cooked, assembled, organised and paid my way to (hopefully) a good celebration.

My daughter baked the cake with her genius idea of a cake inspired by his favourite book ‘bigger digger’. So all that was required was a chocolate cake tray bake (using Mary Berry’s recipe) (the muddy field) and a load of toy diggers and tractors planted on top.

Our wonderfully wonky oven, which is hotter on one side than the  other, baked it lop-sided. So I improvised by slicing the top off and padding out the other end. We baked another layer and I tried o counteract the hot spot by pushing the cake to one side ……it still came out lopsided. So I had a brainwave. I cut a hole in the middle of the cake, buried the digger in the cake and cut the middle bit into slices and piled them up like an earth mound on the  side of the cake that was low and rested the digger bucket on top. I then put one of the chocolate chunks of cake in the back of the dumper. It now looks as though the whole lop-sided look was planned.

We have hired a bouncy castle for the party, little man cant decide if he likes Frozen, Winnie the Pooh or Peppa Pig more, so they are going to let him choose which pictures he wants mounted on the side. The hire money is worth it just to hear him say ‘bounsy castle’ with his lisp to anyone who asks him about his party.

Not only that but his little girlfriend is arriving first thing in the morning tomorrow so that she doesnt miss his party (because her Mum has to go to London). Why do I feel this is a sign of things to come……

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

2015 on the big screen

This is a film themed blog tonight as I missed last night’s blog post because of a girly night out to a local cinema. The type that is a building slightly grander than a village hall but a million miles from multiplex standards and has an interval half way through so you can have a drink and buy ice-cream. Prior to the interval they just pull the plug out and the sudden black screen prompts you to make your way to the side doors.

We watched ‘Pride’, a brilliant film about the unusual eighties alliance of disgruntled miners from Wales and revolutionary gays and lesbians, united by a mutual hatred of Thatcher. It was hysterical and heart-warming and tragic.

I am also looking forward to some less serious, less political, high octane entertainment in the shape of Fast &Furious 7 and Mad Max 6.

If the prospect of Christmas and along winter is getting you down (bah humbug) get a preview of what the Spring’s cinema screens have in store:

Fast & Furious 7 – http://teaser-trailer.com/movie/fast-and-furious-7/

Mad Max 6 – http://teaser-trailer.com/movie/mad-max-4/

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.