The eclipse – how to improvise this phenomenon by a 9 year old

Ok yesterday’s post was heavy, but I am pleased to report that I have told my hubby that I applied to be a social worker and he didn’t baulk at the idea (especially when I told him the childcare costs would at least be covered….and maybe some groceries). My mother in law on the other hand didn’t seem to restrain her feelings. When I told her over the phone, there was a pause then she commented that she had always thought my sister in law would have made a good social worker (and she didn’t add the word ‘too’ afterwards). I consoled myself by realising that my mother in law doesn’t really know me, she only knows that I am able to love her son (although she confesses if he had been first born she wouldn’t have had any more children) and that I am able to have babies quite quickly ( not the conception part, rather rubbish at that, but the labour part – my daughter was four hours and my son was two – he came out so quick his eyes were bloodshot). 

Anyway, It’s the eclipse tomorrow and everyone is getting geared up at school for a glimpse in the playground. My daughter was asked to make a viewer from a cereal box (we don’t have cereal so I actually went out and bought cereal for this very purpose). After extracting the weetabixes, she set to work. Lots of cutting and tape ripping ensued before I went in to check how she was doing and found her ‘testing’ the viewer by standing on a stool holding a tennis ball up to the ceiling light…’it works’ she said. I just hope the clouds clear for tomorrow.

She then did a demonstration of the process of the eclipse for me and baby boy. She used a large round cushion to represent the sun and chose a tennis ball for the earth, much to the amusement of my Jack Russell, who kept chasing the ‘Earth’ while it was in orbit of the cushion. I was laughing and so was baby boy as my daughter got very cross with the JR as she tried to extract ‘Earth’ from the dog’s mouth. So she gave up the idea and used us instead. I was the sun, baby boy was the moon and she was earth, except the moon was rather too close to the sun and after a while got bored of going round and round. 

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Working for spare change

Oh the guilt! Just went for another job interview. Although I hope we get it because we need the money it will mean baby boy going into full-time childcare 8.30 til 5. He has been in a childcare setting of one form or another since he was 9 months old but I have always managed to keep it to no more than 3 days per week. My only saving grace, if I get the job, is that he is now 3 and a bit years old so able to enjoy more of the typical activities on offer at nurseries.

As I browse through potentials though, I start to recall excerpts from a childcare documentary and the grieving family whose daughter suffocated to death in a Wendy house at a nursery. So any websites showing pictures of Wendy houses, particularly those with an upstairs (because the little girl suffocated on the window-ledge/step of the upper storey) made me wobble. 

You cannot put a price on a setting where you know your child will have a good and safe experience while you are working. But when this cost eats significantly into your earnings you wonder why you do it in the first place.

Then there is the issue of the dogs, we can’t bear to part with them so that will be £200 per month so they get a decent walk everyday. 

With any luck I will have some spare change at the end of the month to pay for parking at work..

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Dad the Basset hound

It is 9.30 in the morning in Sydney, which is where my Dad and stepmom have just arrived to commence their honeymoon of a lifetime.

In the space of a couple of years my Dad has made the woman he loves his wife, obtained broadband where he lives in the sticks, discovered the World Wide Web, got his email, registered a Skype profile and bought a tablet pc.

The biggest change is that he is now a big softie, looking at me, his grandchildren and my stepmom with a doughy eyed look similar to that of an old Basset hound. In fact, what with his slight hobble, if he was a dog he would be a basset.

My Dad proves that with age comes an appreciation of time and that it is not infinite, so he is doing what we should all be doing, appreciating what is right in front of him.

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Whine

Apologies for being wrapped up in my own troubles at the moment but there doesnt seem to be any let up.

After being bucked off from a great height by a horse yesterday, my dog came off worse in a fight with another dog at least 6 times her size. It was her fault for picking the fight in the first place (she is a Jack Russell so believes she can take on any thing – in this case a pointer) but nethertheless, you start to worry when you see her being flung in the air from the jaws of another dog and blood.

At home, myself and my husband are co-existing in misery and playing the waiting game as to who is going to mentally break first.

My right arm is not faring well post-buck and I am finding it difficult to lift above my waist.

It would all be slightly more bearable if the sun was shining but a grey January day seems to be adding to the blues.

Then there is the great idea of having a dry January…..

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Who let the dogs out?

It is quarter past 11 and I have just completed my first dog behaviourist consultation, which started much earlier this evening. The session led by two ladies with a whole host of experiences with doggy behaviour and misbehaviour just a whisker short of them having enough knowledge to run with a pack of wolves themselves.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have two Jack Russell bitches (mum and daughter) who fight a lot. It has been getting worse to the point where they cant go a day without a fight and a couple of times they have had to go to the vet with their injuries. Add to the mix a  3 year old toddler who they would never deliberately harm, but could get caught in the crossfire and you have a serious issue.

So, these ladies have now equipped me with an arsenal of things to try and get my two bitches to get along and enjoy life together. They are:

– Diet – turns out the reason why my girls love the current stuff they are on is because it has tons of additives in it which = irritability

– Distraction – getting the daughter bitch to think of other things rather than have a go at Mum – enter the concept of clicker training. We had a practice session tonight and she was loving it – I just need to make time to fit it all in(which is half the problem in that the daughter bitch isnt getting enough attention

– Corrector spray – no more complex than can of air but spray it during a fight and the fight tends to stop

– drugs and homeopathy – special room diffusers and collars infused with the smell of a lactating bitch (I have been assured humans cant smell it so we will see)

– Time out – Separation in the house and car (the main warzone areas) to diffuse tension between them.

– Getting Mummy dog spayed – then she will no longer give off the hormones that she would in a pack situation where nature dictates the bitches should be apart

So fingers and paws crossed all or one of these solutions works!

This blog is for Unicef.

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Dogged with issues

We have dog issues. Two Jack Russell bitches, mum and daughter, vying for attention – both wanting to be top dog = a lot of tension and a dog’s hair away from a fight. There have been lots of fights, too many. They have drawn blood and I have had to visit the vet.

The problem is the daughter, she wants to be top dog and wants to pick fights over every possible reason to pick a fight over. When you add a three year old boy into the equation it gets very concerning.

So I have employed the services of a dog behaviourist, the doggy version of counsellors dealing with tearaway teenagers, who will provide us with an ‘action plan’ to tackle her behaviour.

I am hoping something works as there are mumblings of the ‘worst case scenario’ being re-homing – but if this was needed it would only be arranged with a friend or family member.

I hadnt realised how stressful it had become until my husband ook the dogs for the day and I was so relieved. Children are childs-play compared to grumpy dogs.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Schizophrenic Sailor Saturday

“A bad day at sea is better than a good day at the office or school…or even, at times, home’.

I had never put this saying to the test but today, in force 5 plus winds, we put it to the test.

I am relatively new to sailing. I did my RYA 1 and 2 in a crash course in my late teens (in 3 days our whole crew hit a wreckage and capsized and spinnakered into Royal Naval waters and got booted put by the Military Police). I always had designs on logging up enough hours to go for 3 plus but it didnt happen until the day my husband (slightly more experienced than I) took the plunge and decided to buy a boat the whole family could enjoy. We have only owned it a year (and have already grown out of it) but it has changed our lives. Every spare moment we get we hike down to the coast and have become obsessed with tide times and weather.

Today the wind was up, which was fun (although feel slightly nervous when we are on the heel and glance down below to see the dogs upended out of their bed and baby boy astride the keel for stability…..while our daughter just leans back and carries on reading her book). The world and his wife were also taking advantage of the wind and everyone was buzzing around tacking and zipping along. Sailing is a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach while hopping and skipping – you have to have your wits about you.

Even anchored its a challenge on choppy seas. For example, making coffee, putting baby boy on potty, getting daughter out of a wetsuit and trying not to wet yourself because it was ages since you visited the loo (and there isn’t one aboard).

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the job I had of hoisting the sails. Sails are schizophrenic. On a calm day you study the sail as it makes its steady journey up the mast and cajole it to take some wind and when it catches you cajole it some more, but all in a very relaxed manner while munching maybe on a cucumber sandwich and sipping tea. On a windy day it feels like you are trying to haul up a bag of concrete that threatens to swing into your face at any moment and rather than studying it’s progress you hoist it as quickly as possible while it has a fit. You do this while trying o to stay upright yourself by some kindof pole-dancing move round the mast. This is made even worse if you are trying to take the sail down. Add a lunatic genoa to the mix trying to swipe you from behind and it feels like you are involved in a pub brawl.

But believe it or not, it was strangely enjoyable and a very good way to spend a Saturday…..

This blog is for Unicef.

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Four on holiday

The wind blew us from boat to motorhome,

A surprising adventure was in store,

We found some sites that were spectacular and free

Others we had to pay alot for

The sea summoned us, her charms irresistible

A boat-trip or two fulfilled us more

Sky and space and freedom worth sacrificing

The pennies and pounds we had to withdraw,

Bikes and bells absorbed sites under pedal

Cream teas, ice-creams we kept asking for

Then family joined us for a day or two

In a convoy of campers we began to explore

Kayaks and wet-suits, sandwiches and beach towels

Beautiful views and scenes that dropped jaws to floor

A dotty dog accompanied the travelling circus

Her idea of adventures sometimes against the law

Reluctant goodbyes preceded further journeys

The jurassic coast and a windy ramble to Durdle-Door

All modes of travel we sampled, buses, trains,

And anything with sliding doors

At times the children were taxing

Sometimes we fought like a band on tour

We braved the beautiful beaches

Despite  goose-bumps and chattering jaws

We convinced ourselves it was still Summer

Regardless of all the coats and layers we wore

The adventure ended in the forest

Where we decided to take a tour

Of the ponies, pines and territory

That is protected by ancient law

We fed the children first to save money

And kept fuel costs low door-to-door

But the budget still ran over

Soon we were picking pennies off the floor

But time together is well spent

Gazing at our lives now so changed from before

Holidays as a couple were relaxing

But they are an adventure now we are four.

 

This blog is for Unicef. Nine days away from blogging = £9 to Unicef.

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Dogs with apps

We have 2 dogs, they are so small they are barely there. However, like most small dogs (and humans), what they lack in size they make up for in personality. The older of the two likes running for balls (any type of ball, from ping-pong size right up to giant gym balls). My husband once had a job at a golf driving range, my dog didnt know which ball to pick up first, i swear i could almost make out steam coming out of her ears at the sight of o many balls. She will also retrieve sticks and will attempt any size, whacking ankles as it swings dangerously up and down either end. When you play tug of war with the stick she will hold on to it with such grit and determination, that you can lift her straight up into the air.

My other dog (the younger daughter), is not remotely interested in balls or sticks, but point out a pheasant or a squirrel and she is there in a shot with turbo-charges up her tail. She even attempts to climb the tree to get o the squirrels. She is not terribly bright. In the summer she will endure heat-stroke sunning herself in a hot spot. In the winter she gets so close o the woodburner that you burn your hand if you touch her coat. She refuses to be picked up by anyone below the age of 18 and her tail has the clever knack of forming a ‘s’ shape when she is having a poo.

Now most children would love to have dogs like these in their house. This pleasure is somewhat lost on my daughter. Since last Christmas she has longingly looked at a robot dog called Teksta in the local toy shop. It does everything my dogs do and things they dont (such as back-flips, wi-fi and the ability to work with apps on a tablet). My daughter also mentioned to me  that it doesnt poo or smell. Maybe that is the future of pet ownership – robot pets.

I did find it funny when my daughter was playing with Teksta and the ball and right next to her was my dog patiently waiting for her ball to be thrown.

This blog is to raise money for Unicef. The charity’s latest campaign is to save and protect children caught up in the conflct in Susan – find out how you can help here.

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The best of British Showjumping at Hickstead

Today I took my first selfie because I had been allowed to be incredibly selfish and take myself off for a day out without hubby and kids (well i did take the dogs with me). I indulged in a much needed hit of equestrianism with a day at Hickstead’s Derby. I have been going since a child and I love everything about it, the atmosphere, the huge arena, the huge jumps and the informality of it. After mooching around the tradestands, grabbing myself a couple of glasses of Pimm’s and checking out the different parts of the course, i completely revelled in my surroundings and the chance to do as i pleased without worrying about children (the only downside was having to clear up after both dogs who both decided to poop in high traffic public areas, i also had to take them into the toilets with me which was a bit of a challenge).

The Derby was about to start, so i found myself a good spot high up on the public grandstand and settled down to watch the show with one dog perched on my lap and the other perched next to me. After a while i noticed my younger dog had taken  a shine to the friendly chap sat next to me and before long she had helped herself to sitting on his lap, much to my embarrassment. I apologised but he said he didnt mind at all. After sharing a few comments about some of the rather hairy rounds that we had witnessed around the derby course, he told me that he was getting nervous as his own horse was due to jump the course in a while – last year’s winner, Caritiar Z ridden by Phillip Miller.

This put the excitement of the competition on a whole different level as i found myself rooting for this chap’s horse, i really wanted him to do well. You could have cut the tension with a knife as we watched the horse go round and it was a brilliant round with only 1 down, which put him in the lead with only four more horses to go. But Trevor Breen but in a good performance with only one down so there was going to be a jump off between the two horses – by now i really wanted Caritiar Z to win to achieve the accolade of back-to-back derby wins. He put in a good jump-off with only one down, but Trevor Breen’s horse was a fraction faster and pipped him to the post with one down, shaving a few seconds off Caritiar’s time.

The very nice chap sitting next to me took the defeat gracefully and was clearly proud to be the owner of a horse who made the Derby course look easy. It is people like him that we have to thank for keeping UK showjumping so competitive and so enjoyable – what a thoroughly nice chap. My dog rather liked him too.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.