My friend’s boyfriend is suffering from commitment-phobia. My stepbrother suffers from it too, it is an unfortunate affliction, which renders males past forty completely redundant in the act of:

– proposing marriage

– having children

– closing off ties with ex girlfriends (which in my book is ‘hedging your bets’)

– signing up to a mortgage

– eloping on the mini-break of a life-time fully paid for

The last point my girlfriend had to contend with when she handed her boyfriend of a year the brochure to the Gleneagles resort in the Scottish Highlands, having paid for a mid-week break that was meant to commence this week. Boyfriend bottled out with some bullshit about some previous commitments (despite the fact that she had checked he would be free surreptitiously prior to booking, and she had made arrangements with his mother to look after the dogs). Add to this the news that she heard (via the cleaner) that his ex had been in the house and you have major grounds for ‘WTF I’m outta here’. But she just won’t do it. It was he that confessed to her while in a long-term relationship with his ex at the time (he had been living with her for many years) that he loved her and had done for a while but had never previously had the guts to say it. She very gallantly turned round to him and said she wouldn’t even consider him until he had split up from his ex and she had moved out of the house. That happened, he made the split and then turned up on her door with a bunch of roses and a table booked at a very nice restaurant. She relented at first but then soon gave in to his charms and all seemed hunky dory. Then 6 months in he seems to be getting cold feet and refuses to tell his ex about their new relationship and actually denies the relationship existed. A year later he is still yet to tell his ex and it appears she is still very much on the scene, leaving her stuff still in the house and giving him christmas presents.

I would have bailed out but my friend is hanging on in there thinking that he is emotionally weak and just needs the push to overcome the guilt over his ex and get their relationship out of limbo to something more secure. She went to see a fortune teller a few months ago, who said that she needs to stay with him as he needs help to get out of his relationship mess and then they will be together by the end of January. I am smelling lots of rats but want the best for my friend – are there any males out there who can relate to what her boyfriend is going through? Or is this just some made up ploy to delay the fact that she is more into him than he is into her?

Hope the first week of the new year has treated you well.

If you are able to spare a few pennies for the Unicef campaign – the whole reason for this blog, please visit my page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.

Arrogance and other mistaken characteristics of the hard of hearing

So today I’m going to talk about the negatives of hearing loss.

First is how the hell it happened in the first place – it is annoying not knowing. I didnt discover I had hearing loss until I was 10 years old. I was on a school trip in Germany and I was staying in a hotel. My friend and I were un-packing in our room and the telephone started to ring. I answered it and put it to my left ear like I always had done. After the call, my friend said “why do you put the phone to your left ear when you are right-handed?” I replied “because I can’t hear them speaking if I put it on my right ear”. I had thought (like most children do) that because I couldnt hear in my right ear everyone else had the same problem. My friend’s puzzled face prompted me to tell my Mum about it when I got back home. She took me straight to the Docs and then a few referalls later and a couple of trips to ENT in London (ear, nose and throat) and I was classified as hard of hearing.

There were lots of theories as to why it had happened. The main one being that an illness when I was very young affected the cilia (tiny hairs) along my inner ear that are essential to help noise vibrate around the ear drum and that will explain why I can’t hear despite having a perfectly formed inner ear. It also could have been a bad reaction to an innoculation. No-one really knows why my husband is hard of hearing either and his theory is oxygen starvation when he was born. We will never really know. His was much worse though because it affected his speech and school was very hard for him. With me, because of the innoculation theory, I have serious reservations about the MMR jab in children and I am doing research in to it at the moment to establish how to protect my baby son – but this is a huuuge topic – so will do a separate post on this in the New Year.

Perhaps the biggest down-side to hearing loss is socially. I find it very hard to hear everyone in a party situation or when we are sitting down at dinner. I have to make sure that I am on the end of the table with my right ear facing the end so that I am able to hear people. I have lost count of the number of times I have turned to my right to find a person standing next to me with a puzzled and expectant expression. They have obviously asked me a question or spoken to me and expected a response despite the fact that I haven’t heard them – but they aren’t to know so what do I do – wear a badge? I could wear my hearing aid but i don’t for reasons discussed in my previous post. Over the years I must have unwittingly insulted quite a few people who may have thought I was ignoring them because I didn’t hear them.

Another big down-side is crossing the road. If you cover one eye and then try to touch something it is very difficult to judge how close it is to you and you end up thinking you have touched it when you still have a way to go – try it now. This is the same when one ear doesn’t work as well as the other – although you can hear the sound, you can’t judge where it is coming from until you actually see the source of the sound. This means I am rubbish at telling which direction a car is coming from if I hear an engine when about to cross a road. I also don’t think I would make a very good paratrooper or spy….oh well.

However i like being slightly wonky – its boring being perfect. I often joke that I should have a right body transplant because it isn’t just the ear that doesn’t work. My right shoulder is shorter than the other because of a riding accident and my right leg is full of varicose veins (sorry I know that isn’t pleasant) due to bursting a blood vessel during childbirth. The right side of my pelvis is a bit stiff too because i carry my baby boy on my left-side.

There have been some comical moments because of my wonky ear, which I will mention every now and then in future blog posts. Tomorrow will be my last blog post of 2012 as we will be leaving to spend Christmas on a snowy welsh mountain and i am not sure about the wi fi up there. So tomorrow i will do a little summary of the best bits of 2012 and wish you all a very happy christmas and new year.

Unicef will benefit from my down-time fee over the next two weeks, which will boost the coffers of my fundraising campaign – the reason why i blog every day. If you are able to support my efforts, please visit my page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.

Who is Father Christmas?

Before bed-time my daughter and I were enjoying the Raymond Briggs book ‘Father Christmas’ – a cartoon that follows the life of an ordinary man who happens to be Father Christmas. Most of the time he is swearing about the weather and the size of chimneys and how to get into caravans. He finishes by saying ‘Happy Blooming Christmas to you too’. My daughter loves it because she finds it funny that he is so grumpy in the book and it makes sense to her that someone who shoulders the burden of delivering every child in the world their presents should be a bit grumpy about the whole Christmas thing.

She then remarked how good it was that father Christmas doesn’t die. “How do you know that?” I said, “because he isn’t human he is special human” she said. I then started to daydream that being father christmas was a bit like being summoned for jury service. I wondered if there might be a Father Christmas rota and that someone somewhere in the world receives a red and white letter congratulating them on being randomly selected to play the role of Santa this year. I wish this system did exist because it would make life easier for all us parents.

It is not the sourcing and buying of presents that is necessarily a pain in the arse, it is all the conspiracy that goes with it to make sure that the presents are hidden from view and are wrapped in special santa wrapping paper etc etc. It’s exhausting. I haven’t been able to use the loft this year either as we are having loft insulation put in. So, the top of my wardrobe resembles a game of tetris, with all the children’s presents surrounded by various different shaped boxes and toys they have already seen me buy for other children.

Add the extra complication of being somewhere else for christmas this year and then you have a real headache on your hands to ensure FC’s presents are successfully transported from one location to another (using a pick-up truck rather than a sleigh) without being noticed by eyes that are getting more and more inquisitive as time goes by. I remember the time when I realised at a young age that FC wasn’t the person I thought he was when we went to Toys R us and on leaving (with me a bit miffed that we were leaving with just mug) I noticed a suspicious looking box covered by a blanket in the back of our car. I asked what it was and dad said it was a bike for the daughter of one of his friends – not satisfied with his response, I sneaked a peek and saw the My Little Pony Paradise estate. (So my first realisation prior to the FC one was that Dad lies and because he lied it must mean the pressie is for me). So when Christmas day arrived and I opened up the present from FC and discovered it was the Pony Paradise estate I was so excited to get it that I pretended not to have seen it before so that my parents wouldn’t know that I had found out their secret and subsequently had lost faith that FC was real. I was only about 6 or 7 and I was already pretending that I believed in FC to keep my parents happy! I don’t want my daughter to do the same thing but I think that she is the kind of person who would just to keep me and her daddy happy.

We are seeing the Polar Express tomorrow at my daughter’s school. They put it up on a giant screen and the headmaster dresses up as the conductor – he even sounds a bit like Tom Hanks. I love the film, particularly at the end when Father Christmas’ sleigh disappears like the Back to the future Delorean (the Robert Zemeckis influence) and the idea of the sleigh bell ringing only for those who really believe sends shivers up my spine every time. Last year my daughter received a book about Santa with a bell attached to it as a bookmark. When she showed me the book I rang the bell and said “That’s funny it doesn’t ring” and she absolutely loved the fact that I couldn’t hear it and was shaking it madly and laughing because she could hear it and I couldn’t.

I am blogging every day for Unicef – a vital cause to help children in harm around the world . If you can support the campaign please visit my site on Unicef.

Thanks for reading. Ten days left! See the Xmas clock

Movies that deserve trilogies etc

Im feeling christmassy. Log fires, yummy food has put me in the hibernating mood and this is made all the more cosier with a lot of TV viewing – from box sets to movies. OK its a bit couch potato but when you have been rushing around all year like a blue arsed fly why not vegetate on the sofa for a few days (well fat chance with kids arond but once they have gone to bed….maybe?)

So we are disppearing to Wales, Snowdonia to be exact, for a dose of snowy hikes, good pub grub and cosy cottage living. I want to go armed with some good films and TV programmes to watch and it got me thinking about films that are a) good (regardless of genre) and b) deserve to have a part 2, 3, 4 etc. Okay some don’t. I think the Fast and Furious series is a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it. I love it because I am a petrol head. It won’t win any oscars but that’s not what it’s about. The only thing that slightly annoyed me about F&F 5 was the attempt to copy Ocean’s 11 and 12 when all the previous characters across the series suddenly became ‘experts’ in their field and all convened to perform a heist – Han (who overcame death for the new plot line) performed the Brad Pitt role by constantly eating throughout the film (if you watch the Ocean’s films Brad is eating a lot – think it makes him appear nonchalant).

Anyway, here are some of the films I think haven’t been exhausted in terms of the number of sequels:

– Back to the Future 4 (why not?) has anyone noticed that we are getting closer to 2015 but a million miles away from flying cars, see through ties, self-drying clothes and scheduled weather?  Not to mention hoverboards…..still waiting for those to be invented

– Ronin 2 – never tire of this film

– Miami Vice 2 – would have to have all the original cast though to be the same if not better

– Top Gun 2 (apparently it was on the cards until the director took his own life)

– Kick Ass 2 (I think this is in the making)

– Bridget Jones 3 (also in the pipeline)

– Human Traffic 2

– Trainspotting 2

– Easy Rider 2

– The Incredibles 2 – this is long overdue

I have run out of thinking juice but I’m sure many more could be added to this list. Not sure what’s on the horizon for 2013…….oh yeah…..another Fast & Furious film.

This blog is for Unicef. If you can help with my fundraising please visit Unicef online.

Thanks for reading.

Is the High street dead?

Judging by my local town’s Christmas market today, definitely not. But I wonder how many people actually went into the shops, in addition to the stalls and spent some money. Yesterday I was walking down Oxford street and noted that there were more people (like us) walking along the street and admiring the christmas lights and drinking in the atmosphere than going into the shops. In fact, it would have been a welcome break from the crowds to have gone into a shop they were so empty.

When we did venture into a shop, for example, the well-known London toy store, Hamleys, seemed to have rather over-inflated prices. You would be lucky to get any toy for around £10 – making smaller presents and stocking fillers harder to locate. I found a rather fun bath toy for £8 – for the same amount I could get a whole playset for the bath on ebay or Amazon.

On the contrary, I visited a good quality second-hand children’s clothing and toy shop and was overwhelmed by the choice for toys under £10 that were clean, fully functioning and represented much better value for money. Even better, the toys weren’t in all the unnecessary packaging that you get when you buy new. It is so irritating to have to undo endless wires and screws just to extract the toy from the box. Why pay more for all the hassle of packaging when you can get nearly new for a fraction of the price? As a result, this shop was heaving.

I wonder how many more companies will go under following poor christmas sales and whether, long term, it will sound the death knell for retailers on the high street?

I am blogging every day for Unicef. Yesterday was my 100th blog – yippee! I haven’t quite raised £100 yet (more like £25) so if you are able to donate, please visit my Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.

November is the new December

I feel like I am late to a party this week. I was taking pictures of a nativity play, finalising stocking fillers, hearing about other friends nativity plays, turning up to my daughter’s friend’s house to find christmas lights all round the windows……and its still November?

I think comedian Michael Mcintyre is right when he says that women start thinking about Christmas as soon as the last sparkler fizzles out on the 5th November. Attending the nativity play yesterday was the worst ‘I’m not quite there yet but why is everyone else?’ feeling. Its almost like I have time travelled from July into a Christmas scene and everyone else is feeling christmassy but not me – am I the only one who doesn’t start thinking about christmas until at least the 20 something of December?

Okay I’ve bought the presents for the kids because its less to think about nearer the time (particularly as we are going away this Christmas) but everything else can wait until December surely? For those who are privately educated in Britain, nativity season is in November as the term ends next week (its right that the more you pay the less they are at school). I think its a bit sad though because it doesnt feel christmassy. My daughter’s nativity isn’t until the 20th December – by then decorations are everywhere, turkeys are on delivery and people are thoroughly in the festive mood (or if not they shortly will be once on holiday) but doing a nativity in November just doesn’t feel right.

I am in a quandary as to what to do with decorations this year. We will be spending Christmas away from home so it is pointless buying a tree for our house BUT we need to make the place we are staying in christmassy – but how do you define christmassy? I will ponder on that one for a while and maybe talk about again in DECEMBER!

I am blogging every day for Unicef – to support the campaign, please visit my Unicef fundraising site.

Thanks for reading.

Saying no to Santa

My husband and I made a pact last night (while we re-introduced ourselves, as we had not seen eachother hardly at all last week- hence my lack of a blog post yesterday – another £1 in the pot). We were discussing christmas off the back of news that the average family spends £1000 at Xmas – that’s ridiculous. Who exactly are the average family? – Let’s leave that for another blog.

Anyway, we are attempting to convince the in-laws to only buy presents for the children this year, and from now on. We are in our thirties, way past wishing for my little pony and action man, sony walkmans, the latest trainers etc etc. If we need something, we don’t wait til Chritsmas we just get it. We also have plenty of knockers (knickers I just liked the typo), boxers, socks, perfumes, etc etc and don’t need more stuff to clutter up the house. We are not being bah humbug, we just think Christmas is more about children and that, as parents, we get more pleasure from watching our children enjoy the festive season than we do unwrapping our own gifts. Its part of the bonus of being parents.

My mum and stepdad have completely embraced this concept and have done so for the past two years. My Dad and stepmum end up buying something because “we just saw it and thought of you both”. My in-laws are just too generous for their own good and even when we refuse point blankly to give them any ideas for gifts, they still end up buying us things. So, this year we are going to say that if they really want to buy us something then we would prefer a charity gift (mosquito nets for a family in Africa to prevent disease – that kind of gift). Then we don’t feel so guilty about having a low budget to buy them gifts and they at least have the itch scratched in giving us something that actually benefits people who really need the help. To put in American terms, its win win.

The only slight snagging point is that my sister in law doesn’t have children, so we will of course buy something for her and her husband. The other sister has oodles of money and is very picky so thank god she has children now so they will be slightly easy to buy for!!

For the first time this year we are also spending Christmas on holiday. Unfortunately not the Seychelles….budget couldn’t quite stretch… we are staying in a cottage in Snowdonia. My daughter is excited but very concerned that Santa is notified of the temporary change of address. I am really hoping that the letter to Santa contains gifts that are on the smaller side (have explained to daughter that it is harder to lug big items around in Snowdonia because of the mountainous terrain). It is one of those risky holidays -it will either be a complete disaster or a roaring success.If its the latter, we will bugger off every year!

When we return it will be during that awful limbo period betwixt xmas and new year, yet I am hoping for us it will be enjoyable because we will be busy catching up with family. Sproglets will get the chance to open a few more pressies rather than the obscene pile that normally awaits them on christmas day. We just want to say Santa, we’ve had our time and it was good (apart from the odd year when dad was really drunk – again save for that for another blog post!) – but nowz the time for kiddywinks and grown-up pressies need to stop.

So if anyone is scratching their heads as to how to come up with £1000 for christmas, maybe give a kids only christmas a whirl (assuming you wont be buying kiddywinnks £5000 rocking horses and electric cars).

Anyway, why I am I talking about christmas – its not even halloween! The bloody shops with their in- your- face- advent- calendars- and-selection-boxes-as-soon-as-you-set-foot inside, might have something to do with it!

Thanks – blogging every day for Unicef – if you can spare a £1 visit my fundraising page.

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……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.