A breath of fresh and new air

I have had quite a lot of time off this blog over the Christmas period, mainly because of a case of writer’s block. The entire festive period I have been devoid of anything worth saying that is either interesting, intriguing, entertaining or even worth spending a minute of your time reading. Therefore I have accumulated a good amount of money for Unicef in the shape of my offline fee (£6 which will take my blog closer to the £200 target I set a couple of years ago (currently sitting at £178 raised).

It was a good Christmas and I breather a sigh of relief once I knew I had successfully pulled off the Father Christmas magic for one more year. It is the role of all parents to retain the belief for as long as possible and to ensure the belief’s robustness against peers doubts and very inquisitive minds. Christianity has pulled it off for rather a few years so it is a challenge I have set myself. Although as one friend pointed out, the Christmas Eve nights get very long when you have to wait for teenagers to get to bed before the stockings can be filled – I will be very impressed with my fraudulent skills if I get FC into the teens.

So it is New Year tomorrow. We are having a party, which means I need to descend upon Tescos to take advantage of their 3 for 2 on party food. I have saved up enough wine, snacks and unwanted presents for a few games.

I am 35 next year so am trying not to think too hard about the ageing process and reflect back on what I have/ have not achieved. I am still breathing and, most of the time, still smiling, you cant ask for more than that.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

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Christmas magic wishes for everyone

It is now Christmas Day and I have to say Christmas Eve is one of the most exhausting night’s of the year for parents who tread precariously with children who still believe in Father Christmas but are old enough to have their doubts.

From sending emails posing as FC, to getting my stepdad to write the FC gift tags to buying special wrapping paper and hiding everything in the attic. Retaining the magic of Christmas is hard work and only possible if you try and believe in it yourself, although in parents it is only alive in the children’s excitement and belief. Which is why it is so important that the belief can be eeked out for as long as possible.

I have had way too much panettone and I am indulging in a screening of Gone With The Wind and looking forward to seeing the children’s excitement tomorrow morning.

Im hoping everyone finds their own magic this Christmas.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Charity is the future high street

I love charity shops.

Just a stones throw from where I was volunteering today there was a street, a little spur off the main high street, which was not full of so much Christmas footfall. Almost like a little B road off the main road of shopping where you could take a little stroll down at your own pace and have the chance to look carefully at things around you without the pressing of elbows and the feeling of pressure to hunt for a particular gift.

Along this shoppers’ haven I found Age Concern, Barnardos, YMCA, Cats Protection League and a couple of other similar shops all nestled together. Within 15 minutes I had bought wrapping paper and four gifts at a fraction of the price of the high street – brilliant! I also confess to indulging in an Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie, which I could not ignore at £5.

I found myself wondering why myself and one or two other people were the only ones browsing along this little row  of gems while the crowds all fought to get items on the high street they could have bought online anyway.

In my view, charity shops are the future high street, where people can regain pleasure in browsing, not break the bank and do good for someone else all at the same time.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Everyone can lose a home

Tomorrow I will be volunteering for the second time for a local homeless charity called Stonepillow. Im not doing anything much, just wrapping Christmas presents donated by the public. I consider it to be quite a privilege to have the opportunity to help out. It was heartening to hear from Stonepillow’s admin team that they were inundated with calls from people wanting to help serve meals and help get people off the street on Christmas Day. I wanted to help with Crisis in London, but because volunteering is so popular, they ask people to commit to at least 2 shifts and when you have to find childcare and the money to pay for a ticket o London it becomes more difficult, so I decided to leave that opportunity to the Londoners and stick to volunteering closer to home. It is brilliant to hear that charities are overwhelmed with support. While it may be harder than before to fundraise, it must be reassuring for charities o know that people genuinely want to help, if not financially, then by giving their time, care and skills.

When I see adverts for appeals about homelessness, I think about how this situation could happen to any of my friends and family. Money and circumstance is all that stands between a home and homelessness. My Dad slept rough when he went awol from the Navy because he had been put there by his social worker as there was no longer any room for him at home after he left boarding school. I worry about my children’s future, it doesnt take that many false moves to end up on the streets and as parents we bear that responsibility of weaving a safety net just in case.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Christmas bugs

I missed my blog post last night because I was busy examining both of our toilets on a frequent basis, the attack of tummy bug mark 2. By midnight my head was throbbing because of dehydration (it was both ends) and frankly I just wanted to be switched off. Then I overheard my hubby trying to catch the sick from baby boy when he was mid tooth brush and I was more upset for him as you would suffer twice over if it meant your children didnt get it. Thankfully it was only the once for him, he slept soundly and was right as rain by morning. A couple of ibuprofens and  dioralytes later and I was finally on the mend too. This came as a relief o hubby who had managed some serious multi-tasking on Saturday: tree work, log deliveries, dog walk and christmas food shopping all with kids in tow.

I remembered all the times myself and my family had been ill and it had been mostly over the Christmas period. The bugs, the colds and the lurgys are worse in this country over winter because we are all inside more exchanging more germs. It made me hanker for the sunny states of America, Australia or anywhere else where the sun shines and people are happy and healthy. One year before I die I would love to experience Christmas in the Sun.

This blog is for Unicef, for every missed post I donate £1 and fellow bloggers are welcome to donate too.

Thanks for reading.

Christmas on the front line

Sorry for the missed blog post last night, I was busy returning to my childhood with my friend at Olympia like the two pony mad youngsters we were and in many ways still are. We had a selfie taken with showjumper John Whitaker, which was a bit weird as we felt we were standing next to the sculpture of a jumping God rather than a Northern man, he wore the expression of someone who considered publicity to be a necessary evil. I cant blame him, plus it helps the macho male image if you are a little bit reluctant. I like the strong, silent type.

However, I have a strong, nagging type. I asked him to do two things for Christmas (get the children’s FC presents). He didnt have to think about family, friends or even me (as I bought myself my own present from him). So here we are on the 19th December with half a present for baby boy (a train but no track) and a present that appears to have disappeared through the Bermuda Triangle of eBay purchases. It is cutting it rather fine to panic buy an RC RNLI boat if ‘it doesnt arrive by Monday’. I refuse to help him on this one, like a child who needs to learn the hard way, if he knows I wont save the situation then he will have to pull his finger out.

And they say women have to wait until at least 2016 before they can engage in frontline combat (a marine said the main reason was that women lack ‘the killer instinct’. I’d like to see him try his luck if he failed to get a child’s Christmas present on time…

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

The mutual appreciation society

We have just enjoyed a version of Aladdin at my daughter’s school ‘Aladdin in Trouble’. It went on for 1 hour and 20 minutes and while it was lovely to watch it did go on for a tad too long. It seems like 2 hours when you have a toddler fidgety and grumpy on your lap because it is way past their bedtime. Like most primary schools, the school hall cannot accommodate all the year groups and parents, so a lot of the children have to stand either side of the stage and get up and down every time the chorus of another song starts without the opportunity to get on centre stage. For those that have tall children you can at least see them in-between each stage performance but for most of the time you are craning your neck to catch a glimpse of your little one.

But the enjoyment comes from seeing all the little ones and seeing how they have grown and flourished since pre-school. Now they are nearly 9 you get o catch a glimpse of the future teenager and young adult in them too. Then you look around at all the parents who are on the same fascinating journey as you and wonder are they thinking the same thing.

And when the applause comes at the end it is for a mutual appreciation of every child’s performance and what more lies ahead. There is so much to look forward to, whatever the ups and downs.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.