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For The Dads by Name and The Dads by Nature.

FOR THE DADS BY NAME AND THE DADS BY NATURE.

Today is for the daddies, of every size and shape,

Lanky like a beanpole, or hairy like an ape.

The daddies who are present, the daddies who are not,

The dads we fondly treasure and never are forgot.

The dads of tiny babies, the dads of full grown men,

The dads who’d walk through fire to see their kids again.

The stepdads and the stand-ins, the ones that break the mould,

The in-laws and the out-laws, the young ones and the old.

The hands-on dads, the laid back dads, the dads who do their share,

The working dads, the stay home dads, the daddies with no hair.

Today is for the daddies who do the job of two,

Twice the work and twice the worry, but twice the cuddles too.

It’s also for the mummies going it alone,

Who plough on through and carry on, without a gripe or moan.

It’s for the ‘will be’ daddies, just waiting for their turn,

It’s for the dad’s who’ve loved and lost and heavy hearts that yearn.

It’s for the dads we cannot see through tragedy or choice,

It’s for the ones with words of love, they’re not allowed to voice.

This day helps us remember that ‘dad’ is just a name,

It’s not a brand tag that you wear, or use for Facebook fame.

A dad is one who’s always there and doesn’t come and go,

It’s not about the blood you share, but just the love you show.

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Children, parenting

Half Term Hindsight.

So, here we are. The first day back at school, the first day of the final half term of this school year.

Let’s take a look back on the last week.

Let’s call it ‘half term hindsight’.

Let’s start at the very beginning….that’s a very good place to start, when you read you begin with A B C, when you look back you begin with Saturday….. (yeah that perhaps needs work, anyway onwards and upwards)

The first weekend of half term was good fun. We had the exciting prospect of a family christening on the Saturday. I LOVE christenings, I’m not sure why, I just do.

So I was in full on neatness mode. My dress and shoes were selected, the Monkeys looked slightly less feral than normal.

I ironed clothes…………….

Yes I know. Believe me you’re not the only one who’s shocked.

  • Monkey number one exclaimed “wow, I didn’t know we had an iron”
  • Monkey number two announced “wow this shirt is warm and straight and smooth”
  • Monkey number three declared “wow I have one of those, but mine has a board too” (I found the iron. I was not going rummaging for an ironing board that I may or not own.)
  • Monkey number four just looked and me oddly and said “mummy do hair?” (I later realised he assumed they were industrial sized hair straighteners)

So we are all clean and presentable, the girls have matching french braids. One has long blonde fine hair and the other has a wilderness of tight mousy curls so matching might be a stretch but they did at least have two braids each.

CircusHusband who is on a working weekend appears home in time and deliberates about his clothes (despite promising me days and days ago that he was prepared and knew what he was wearing and where it all was)

We load into the car, feeling smug that finally something has gone right.

We arrive at our destination, unload the Monkeys, enjoy a gentle stroll to the church.

A church with closed doors.

A church that seemed remarkably quiet.

A church with a board outside advertising the christenings that it would be undertaking……………tomorrow.

I tried really hard to pass it off as a deliberate practice run, but rudely no one was convinced and no one was very happy with me.

On the flip side at least Sunday (aka Groundhog Day) was easy.

Unfortunately CircusHusband couldn’t join us on Sunday (apparently when you’ve organised your whole week to allow you to finish early on Saturday, then a spontaneous Sunday absence is ‘tricky’).

But anyway, the Monkeys and I went to church. No one tried to paddle in the font, no one cartwheeled down the aisle, no one needed a wee…..’right now’. Pickle thought it was amazing because her nursery has visits from ‘the church ladies’ once a week who tell them stories about Jesus and she was really impressed that the man in the funny cape knew Jesus too! She actually has a slight obsession with ‘the church ladies’. She knows the name of one of them -let’s call her Betty- but she doesn’t know the name of the other one, so if you ask who she saw the conversation goes:

“Which ladies were there today.”

“Well only one, you know Betty mummy?”

“Oh yes your favourite one.”

“Yes. Betty wasn’t there today, we had the one who isn’t Betty”

She is also fascinated by the stories although perturbed that they only know stories about Jesus, she’s considering asking Father Christmas for a new book for them so they can learn some different stories (but then she might not get her violin?!). Then there’s the exciting moment where I find out if this week’s story involved ‘Baby Jesus’ or ‘Old Man with a Walking Stick Jesus’, I assume these parts are acted out as they seem to be coveted roles in her 4 year old head. My favourite conversation about ‘the church ladies’ so far was on the last day of term.

“Did you see the church ladies today?”

“Yes it was Betty and the one who isn’t Betty and guess what?” Well the story was about Jesus……again, but at the end the ladies chose me to say something really funny”

“Really, what was that then?”

“Well they said this little poem thing and then I had to say……..

“Ahhhhhh Man”

Never again will I be able to finish The Lord’s Prayer without an image of Bart Simpson in my head.

Weekend complete. The week was fairly quiet we visited a local castle ruins, which both the biggest Monkeys declared their favourite part of their week off so marking that one up as a success.

We did (well, mainly Froo and Pickle) did baking. Half terms cost me a fortune simply because I need enough ingredients in to satisfy Froo’s constant desire to bake. This week’s creation was a beautiful, two tiered sponge cake sandwiched with lemon icing and decorated with peach slices and mixed peel. It tasted phenomenal. Really very impressive.

However this was slightly marred with this interaction:

“Froo this cake is amazing, well done you must be really pleased.”

“Of course it’s amazing……I used Grandma’s recipe”

One funny incident of this week needs to be shared so here goes. Noodle had been complaining in the evenings a sore tooth. I deduced that he had picked the gum around it and foresaw that it would become a method or stalling bedtime (I have a pretty good radar for this sort of thing).

He goes off to bed and sure enough he appears again about fifteen minutes later. CircusHusband goes to see him and comes back mumbling something I didn’t quite catch but ended with the word ‘sore’, I nodded and said “there’s bonjela in the first aid box, put some of that on and it should help”.

He was gone a while then came down and declared job done.

We heard no more from Noodle and a few hours later CircusHusband turns to me and says

“I never knew you could use Bonjela like that?”

Slightly confused I enquire what he means.

“You know, for tummy ache”

Now completely confused I just sat silent until he continued….

“Noodle said his tummy was sore and you said to put Bonjela on it…….”

Me – “what? No I didn’t…..Oh…..You mean you …….?”

Yep. Noodle was now happily snoring away with his stomach lovingly covered with teething gel.

Fast forward to this weekend just gone and I had a night out. Not just out, but out out. You know, where you have to brush your hair.

Now, nights out when you are a mum and all your friends are mums are similar to the initiation process required for joining MI5. The first part is deciding a date, you collaborate all the data and work out that yay there is one night you are all free…….a Tuesday evening in October 2025.

Then there’s clothing. What do you wear? The problem with having small children is that your wardrobe generally has two sections ‘stuff I don’t mind having Weetabix ground into’ and ‘pyjamas’. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to amalgamate the two to produce something suitable. Add onto that the conundrum of childcare and transport and you’re knackered before you’ve even set off.

Fortunately, thanks to very good friends, we have a childcare/transport system in place which works well. We go out and CircusHusband and CircusHusband’s friend have the children all in one house. This does mean they are outnumbered seven to two but hey ho. It seemed to be a success this time; there were computer games, snacks and silliness……..and the children had fun too!

Once you’re out it’s all good. The relief of letting your hair down for a little while is amazing. That amazing feeling wears off rather quickly however when you roll into bed at 2:42 and wake up to a banshee hollering your name at amplified volume at 5:46.

Now we are back to structure and routine as we begin a seven week half term of business. This first week alone includes 3 school trips, 1 nursery trip, 1 intake evening to prepare us for Pickle starting school in September (I’m fairly sure it’s them who need preparing if I’m honest). 1 spelling bee. 1 music group. 1 fundraising event and 1 jar of coffee…….maybe Pickle’s beloved church ladies can have a word with their friend Jesus and see if the magic refilling oil concept can also be applied to caffeine.

Enjoy this week whatever you are doing.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Children, parenting

Budget cuts affecting the lives of our children and what we can do.

When you first have a baby you are handed a package of gumph. If it’s your first baby you assume that the package holds a manual for your new bundle, a lifetime warranty and a receipt….just in case. Unfortunately not.

What it does contain is plethora of randomness;

  • Samples of products that may or may not bear any relevance on the new journey you are about to undertake. (a pot of Sudocrem that you can almost fit one finger in, a pouch of fabric softener that will not tear open for love nor money so it spends it’s days loitering near the machine dreaming of the day it’s moment to shine will arrive, a one dose tube of liquid iron supplement which is the equivalent of putting a verruca plaster on a gun shot wound).
  • A booklet of postnatal exercises. God only knows why you’re suddenly supposed to become a yoga expert simply because you’ve given birth.
  • The application pack for Child Benefit. Do not panic, if you accidently use it to mop up after you try to get the better of your fabric softener sample, you can do the whole thing online.

and acting as protective packaging for all above treasure will be many, many, many pieces of paper that will keep you entertained during night feeds (or you could read to the baby to encourage sleep).

One of those pieces of paper will be a leaflet about postnatal depression and the importance of socialisation for you and your new baby. There will probably be details of your local Children’s Centre (usually Sure Start). These were the creation of Tessa Jowell under Tony Blair’s Labour government 20 years ago with the view to “giving children the best possible start in life” through improvement of childcare, early education, health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.

Perfect, you think, somewhere I can take my baby and meet new people and gather advice and generally feel a part of my community.

Then you see headlines such as this:

Family services at risk as thousands of children’s centres face budget cuts

And sadly, it looks like the budget cuts and spending caps are more and more prevalent and affecting more and more Children’s Centres.

The absurdity of these cuts is shown in the figures. In 2011 a survey was undertaken that showed that 1.05 million families were actively using their local centre’s facilities which was an increase of 50,000 on the previous year.

That is a huge number, and it represents an enormous amount of new parent’s seeking guidance or young mum’s reaching out for support or those suffering with PND having somewhere safe to visit.

It seems that the problem began with the forming of the coalition government. They allegedly removed the ringfenced funding that was protecting the running of the vital services giving local authorities the power to open consultation regarding the closures which many chose to do.

As a result to these changes, funding was slashed from £1.2bn to £0.6bn and at latest count 508 centres have closed completely.

The problem is that a lot of these closures are in areas where their presence was most needed. Areas of deprivation and areas with a high number of disadvantaged children. Areas where they really could make a difference through support and education.

The centre’s which have been fortunate enough to remain open have still been hit with budget cuts meaning the services they can offer are restricted and free services are not viable.

It is this last point that has prompted me to use this blog as a platform to inform people of these devastating cuts. People who may not be familiar with these Children’s Centres and what they actually do, may not understand the need for a place that allows any parent or carer of any social background, of any economic class, with no discrimination to come together to become better parents.

My local Children’s Centre is experiencing these exact problems and it has affected myself and The Monkeys first hand. We have been attending a music group weekly since Noodle was a baby (so around 6 years), the group is run by a lady with years of experience who has her own business as an early years music group leader. She was paid by the Children’s Centre to run these weekly groups, allowing parents to spend this important, quality interaction time with their children. The major advantage of this group is that there is no ‘clique’ aspect that can be experienced at some toddler group settings, as it is focussed on you and your child. Support and friendships are the positive side effect that happens when you spend time enjoying yourself in a comfortable situation.

As someone who struggles with social interaction, that one hour per week was a godsend to me. It was a regular time to leave the house and be carefree with whichever Monkey I had with me and I gained many friendships from that repeated event that became part of our lives (I think we are actually part of the furniture now!)

Until.

The Children’s Centre announces that it can no longer fund the music sessions. The choices are to start charging parents to attend or call it a day. This goes completely against the ‘all inclusive’ policy that was set at right at the beginning. It means that if you can’t afford it then you can’t attend.

The lady who runs our music group, Lorna Berry of Fledgeling Music, refused to accept this new policy. There is an awful lot of research showing the importance of music and sound in early years education and the impact that it can have on a child’s socialisation and speech and language. This, and seeing the effects the groups have first hand encouraged her to keep going despite there being no funding. This means she was working for free and personally funding the hire of halls to allow her to continue contributing this imperative work to the community.

In this day and economic climate this is not something that can continue full time, and because of this a group of parents who find these music groups invaluable have come together and formed a company which are working tirelessly to raise both funds and awareness to ensure that people can continue benefitting from this service.

Sometimes it’s down to the normal person to take charge and make a stand. One voice is sometimes enough and if it’s loud enough others will also step forward. Take note of this group of people who are working so hard to give others the opportunity to experience what they have.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and they (whoever they are) have a point. Come together and form a network. If it benefits one person then it was worthwhile.

If you would like to find out more about these amazing people then please visit https://www.facebook.com/MusicForFamiliesHoltBriston/ or if have been encouraged to want to make a difference then there is https://www.gofundme.com/musicforfamilies.

If these cuts which look set to continue have also affected you then please get in touch as this is something I would like to pursue public interest in.

Welcome to my world

Rx

medical, parenting

Mental Health Awareness Week and Me.

If you’ve spent any time on social media this week then you’re probably aware that it is Mental Health Awareness week.

So, what does that mean exactly?

Well, it means that it’s one week out of 52 where people can talk openly about their feelings without any risk of stigma or ridicule.

But, why do we need a special week?

That is a very complicated question with a very simple answer. Because we live in a society where it is frowned upon to show weakness

We live in a society where it’s acceptable to complain about an ingrown toenail or enquire about someone’s broken leg. But when it comes to a condition that cannot be plainly seen from the outside then it becomes ‘that we must not speak of’.

So let’s speak about it.

What is mental health? It is generally any condition that doesn’t have a obvious physical manifestation. It can range from mild to debilitating with a huge range in between. The main complication with understanding mental health is that literally any one can be affected, and quite often it’s the people you would least expect.

For example; the new mum who posts photos of her newborn on Facebook on a hourly basis may not just be ‘baby boasting’ but may be suffering with Postnatal Depression and just need some interaction. The person who makes excuses and doesn’t turn up when planned may not be unsociable and scatty but suffering with social anxiety that means as hard as he tries he cannot push himself to join in. The lady you just watched check her car was locked multiple times isn’t forgetful or over security conscious, she has a condition called OCD that controls her entire life.

For the 2018 study of mental health, the Mental Health Foundation conducted a study of 4619 random people. Of those people 74% admitted that within the past year they had felt so stressed that were overwhelmed and unable to cope.

This is a high percentage which means someone you know WILL be struggling with mental health difficulties. You may know exactly who are they are but mostly you will have no idea, and that is the problem, mental health issues are lonely and isolating.

I know what you’re thinking. What does she know? Who is she to explain mental health to us? She’s the one with always has a smile on. Well I do know, I am one of those 74% of people.

Anybody who knows me personally is going to find this difficult to read and, believe me, I have ummed and ahhed all week long about whether to post and from which angle to approach it. But what is the point of there being a mental health awareness week if you skirt around the issue? and if reading someone’s unfiltered, honest experiences helps just one person then that’s one person who might pluck up the courage to speak to one more person. And so on.

I have suffered from mental health issues since my teenage years, I spent time on antidepressants and undergoing counselling (yeah that didn’t work too well for me). I have scars from self-harming and spent summers wearing jumpers to cover my arms. I did, on one occasion almost take things too far, but a moment of clarity kicked in and I called for a friendto help rather than put unneeded burden on my family.

For me, there was a trigger. I grew up in a situation that 100% revolved around mental health.

My mum had ‘manic depression’. Now more commonly known as ‘bipolar disorder’. Combined with many other issues with resulted in a manifestation of schizophrenia. She was seriously affected with her mental health and it majorly impeded into her life. As a child I remember voluntary admissions into the psychiatric ward and admissions that couldn’t be less voluntary (technically known as being sectioned). I remember many, many, many trips to visit her after school, where she may refuse to see us. It became the norm (and on Mondays we got McDonalds afterwards!).

I remember all the medication that she took, and the side effects that it caused, the times when you dare not speak for fear of what reaction you might get. The nightmares that she woke up from convinced that the world and everything in it was out to get her. The conversations she had that were quite blatantly not with anyone physical. The apprehension of what you might find when you arrived home from school. The dread of big events, such as Christmas or holidays as you knew a period of major depression would follow. She was one of the very last people in the uk to receive Electro Convulsive Therapy, a barbaric form of ‘treatment’ that involved sending electrical currents through the brain. She had it twice a week, on a Tuesday and a Friday. It didn’t work. All it did was wipe her memories.

It was crap. But at the time I didn’t know this. This was our life and we lived it. We stuck together and we coped. My dad was an actual real life saint, he made sure that we missed out on nothing and worked hard to give us the best.

But, no one on the outside knew the full extent of what was going on and that’s the real crux of the issue. It’s not only lonely and isolating for the person with the mental health issues. It’s also the family and close friends of them. The ones who love them and are torn apart seeing them suffer. The ones who know that they’d rather not be here anymore.

So. Maybe it’s important to remember that for every one person struggling from any mental health condition there’s probably a whole family of people near them, also suffering. A husband or wife who can’t do a single thing to help the person they love most in the world. A child who sees an empty shell of their parent, devoid of emotion and I can tell you that really takes it’s toll on a young person and they begin to hide emotion and not let people too close.

Sadly I no longer have my mum, I lost her to cancer in 2006. Followed by my dad in 2011. But if one positive thing came from everything I witnessed it is that I know how important it is to ask for help. There is no reward for struggling and making everyone else struggle. Misery loves company. Nowadays there is much more help available and a variety of much more gentle treatments to allow people to lead a better quality of life.

If you ask someone how they are and they say “oh you know, things are a bit tough” then they’ve reached out to you. They could have used the old generic “oh I’m fine” but they didn’t. So don’t dismiss it, don’t say “smile, it might never happen”, because it already is happening. Offer an ear, a shoulder, a cuppa, whatever it looks like they need most but would ask for least. Offer support but without taking on the role of counsellor, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be someone they know they can call on in times of ups and times of downs. Consistency is so, so important,

The other major piece of advice I would like to offer is this. Don’t wait to seek help. Don’t try to cross The Nile in a dinghy. I am terrible, and I mean really bad at asking for help. But two years ago I found myself in a hole, and I couldn’t dig back out of it. I told myself I could handle it myself, scolded myself for being weak but it didn’t help and a few days before Christmas 2016 I had a meltdown, I admitted defeat in January 2017 and visited my gp who diagnosed severe anxiety issues and delayed postnatal depression. I was distraught but instead of going further downwards I accepted treatment. I let someone help me and thanks to some medication and wonderful support from those who love me I am back on form and better than ever.

If your leg hurts see a doctor, if your teeth hurt see a dentist, if your mind ‘hurts’ it’s just as real so go and see someone. Please.

If you’ve managed to get through this far then well done, it was as hard to write as it was to read I promise. I really hope that my writing is not in vain. I really hope that sharing actually is caring and can make a difference because I am a very private person and this is a huge personal step for me.

If anyone wants to connect and discuss anything then do not hesitate to get in touch, I will always listen and I have broad shoulders so pile it on.

With love

Rx

advice, Children, parenting, Random musings

In the words of Thumper…..

What not to say to expectant women and new parents:

img_0157-1

Expectant Mothers –

“So when are you due?”

Don’t. Seriously just don’t. There are three occasions when it is ok to enquire about this. Firstly if you happen to be an actual midwife and you are in a medical setting with no room for error. Secondly if you happen to be delivering an actual baby. And thirdly (although potentially still a grey area) if the woman in question has told you directly in first person narrative, with precisely no ambiguity that she is, in fact, expecting.

Following these rules avoids the awkward scenarios of you commenting on the neatness of a bump that turns out to harbouring slightly too many Mr Kiplings rather than an offspring. Or the “ooh you look like you’re almost ready to pop”………..”I already did, ‘baby’ will be five on Tuesday”

“What are you hoping for?”

Err well, probably a baby. But fingers crossed for a 10 speed jet ski in sky blue. There is no good that can come from asking this question.

Best case scenario: “well a little girl would be lovely but we’ll be equally delighted with a little boy”.

Worst case scenario: “I have informed Mother Nature that I will be delivering a pink bundle of joy. I have consulted with my solicitors and have an insurance policy drawn up should she fail to uphold my request. You have to let them know who’s in charge from the offset.”

“Ahh enjoying a last bit of peace before baby arrives are you? Good idea, after all you won’t have a second to yourself very soon, you won’t be able to go out then.”

It’s an impending baby not an impending apocalypse. Why do people feel the need to install horror into prospective parents? It’s the beginning of a new life, not the end of your existing one. Funniest thing was when someone made this comment to me when I was expecting Wombat (yeah, you know baby number 4)!

“Eating for two?”

Yes I bloody well am, and do you know what, just in case they happened to miss a foetus on the scan I’d better have another slice of cake to make it fair to the poor neglected imaginary twin. As long as they’re following guidelines, then pregnant women’s eating habits are not up for discussion.

The correct approach is:

  • “I noticed you were running low of marmite to dip those gherkins in so I picked some up for you.”
  • “Of course you can share my chips, even though you didn’t want any of your own ten minutes ago when we ordered.”
  • “I’m not sure if McDonalds will put lemon curd inside a Big Mac but I’ll phone and ask.”

New Parents –

“Are you feeding the baby yourself?”

Don’t be silly, Janet from next door but one nips over every so often and feeds the cat and the baby. Of course I’m feeding him myself, whether that’s via a real boob or a fake bottle shaped one is really none of your actual business. Move along.

“Does she sleep through?”

Through what…….? Oh I see what you mean, no unfortunately not, sometimes I don’t get to finish washing my hair in the bath but she might sleep through a shower…if I was quick. She does sometimes sleep through Eastenders so we’re fairly sure she’s advanced for her age and destined for greater things in life.

Oh at night. No. Oh yours slept through from 2 hours old. Bully for you.

“Haha funny, what’s she really called?”

People get very defensive about their name choices. Never ask if they have decided before baby arrives as you will case a row, a scale of which hasn’t been seen since a rather disturbing episode of Jerry Springer in the early 90s.

Once the name has been announced the process is: smile, nod, smile, nod, bite tongue, smile, nod, send psychic sympathy thoughts to the baby, smile, nod. If it looks like a comment is expected then play safe:

  • Ah how lovely.

Then stop.

DO NOT TRY:

  • Oh um, that’s…..unusual.
  • Oh well I’m sure she’ll grow into it.
  • Really? Are you sure.
  • You’ll never find a mug with that on.

“It’s natural to worry less about your appearance after you’ve had a baby”

How very dare you. I’ll have you know I brushed all my hair today and washed it (dry shampoo totally counts). I even shaved my leg. Yes leg singular. Who needs more than one hairless extremity at a time. It’s better for the environment. Probably. Oh my ‘I am 6’ badge? Well it was all Tesco had that completely covered the baby vomit stain on my top, I’m calling it ‘reliving my youth’.

“Well in my day……..”

Yes Ethel. In your day, 7 children rattled around unrestrained in the back of a reliant robin. Yes you never had sleep problems thanks to a drop of brandy in baby’s milk. Yes babies were eating a full roast dinner in liquid form by 3 weeks old. Fortunately things have moved on in 60 years.

“You’ll spoil that baby if you keep holding it”

Huh? It’s a not a dry clean only white silk blouse. The lady at Antiques Roadshow said it wasn’t a priceless piece of ancient Chinese pottery handcrafted by Tibetan monks. We got her to double check and everything. Therefore I’m fairly sure that no spoiling will occur by holding this baby as much as I see fit so kindly remove your slightly oddly nose from my business before I ping it with the strap of the baby sling.

“Ah before you know it, they’ll all be grown up and moved out”

Oh really, I don’t suppose you could narrow that down to a particular date could you? I might get a good holiday deal booking this long in advance and I can start gathering a mood board to turn their bedrooms into a museum of elongated snail shells, a Ghost themed pottery studio and a minimalist gym (mainly the spa and bar to be honest).

This is an non-exhaustive list please feel free to add you own.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Children, memories, parenting

What are memories made of…….?

When you tell people that you have 4 children, there’s usually the stereotypical ‘wow you’ve got your hands full’ response.

Yet as they walk away you can hear the ‘what a shame, they must never get one-on-one time’.

Well they do so ner to the nay-sayers!

And its that thought that brings me to today’s point (yes these posts do sometimes have a point).

Its very often that you hear the phrases ‘precious family time’ and ‘making memories’ thrown around, especially in this age of social media.

But, it’s important to remember that the things that mean the most to children are not always things that can be explained in a Facebook post, or hash tagged in an Instagram snap.

An expensive day trip with added extras may seem like a massive treat from our perspective, but if a child has had a bad day at school the day before and is furtively hoping for a few quiet minutes to discuss it with you. Then this busy trip would not be welcome or appreciated leading to disappointment from both sides.

Having memories is wonderful and incredibly important. But looking back it suddenly becomes clear that the things that we, as adults, remember from our childhood are not necessarily the big events, but more likely snapshots of a funny moment or a treasured smile.

We don’t ‘make memories’ they make themselves. They are spontaneous and we may not know that they have happened until years later when we suddenly recall a random event that makes us smile or laugh or cry all over again.

Memories have the uncanny ability of turning up when they are needed, whether we appreciate their appearance or not. But they serve a purpose, without them we are not a whole person; a character that’s portrayed in a book needs a past, a present and a future to enable the reader to connect with them as a three dimensional being and the same is true with us.

I feel that I have the authority to make these points as the daughter of a lady who, through the need for medical treatment, lost the majority of her long term memories. She was still a character in her own story but she couldn’t flick back the pages of her mind to remind herself of details. She lost her past and the part she played in our past. Moments that could never be recaptured.

I think this is why when it comes to the Monkeys, I’m very much aware that the things they store away in their memories may not be the things I have planned and scripted as a ‘memory making’ exercise.

Take today for example.

Noodle has a new musical obsession which is out of the realms of most typical 6 year olds.

Because I am stingy I refused to pay the extortionate costs of downloading the tracks he wanted, so he suggested that we could go and look in the local charity shops and check through their CDs and I agreed.

CircusHusband needed to pick up a package in town so we all headed out and parted ways (in other words he bribed the remaining Monkeys with the promise of snacks at Gregg’s if they complied)

Noodle and I went off on our mission. The fun we had browsing through hundreds of CDs was ridiculous and the excitement when I found a compilation album with a track by his new favourite singer was unbelievable. I’ll leave you to picture a high-fiving session in the middle of Cancer Research!

It was a short outing. We spent precisely £3. Yet Noodle was so happy he was skipping down the pavement.

Those few moments right there. Just me and him. Will stay with me always and I know that he’ll remember the day we went and did exactly what he wanted. Just for him.

Yes I have my hands full but sometimes (as often as I can) I have two completely empty hands ready to support whichever Monkey requires one-on-one. Today it was Noodle and CD’s, next time will be something just as random yet just as vitally important in a child’s uncomplicated opinion.

I am a long way from a perfect parent and I don’t, in any way, profess to know the secrets of parenting (seriously, is it like the magicians secret circle or something? Is there a special handshake?). The only thing I know is that children are simple and they like the simple things, it’s only as we grow up that we start to make things complicated

If I could give a new parent one piece of advice, it would be;

Don’t waste so much energy forcing memories that you’ve none left to actually make the real ones.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Children, parenting, Random musings

Read all about it…..Hold the front page……

I am able, tonight, to share some very exciting news.

Monkey number 2 has decided to undertake a new business venture.

He is becoming Editor of his very own newspaper.

In case any of my readers are considering a career change, I’ll outline his proposal.

He will be Editor. He will employ ‘writers’. He will answer to Boss, Sir, Captain or VIP.

Writers will be required to live on his premises. They will be given the combination code to the gate for when they return from errands but it only works one way and there will be a really big fence so they can’t climb out willy-nilly. Writers are on duty 24 hours a day but are allowed an hour off on a Saturday afternoon and a Sunday evening to play a board game (a long as no big stories come in of course)

Writers will be provided daily with sweets and hot chocolate. Unfortunately if they don’t write quick enough this privilege will be removed sharpish. As Editor, Noodle will join them for sweets and hot chocolate but will also indulge in crisps (McCoys only, no Aldi ones) which he will ensure he eats in a room that’s three doors away from the workers so the crunching doesn’t distract them from their work.

Writers are allowed water as and when needed. The Editor, however, will require coca-cola in a glass. Slightly worryingly he originally planned to fool his writers into thinking he was also drinking water by putting gin in a glass because that’s see through (“you know gin mummy, gin with a g”).

Writers will be paid monthly at a rate of £10 each. There is no time off for a cold, they’ll just have to be brave and bring tissues. Time off will be granted for a broken leg, this time will be charged to the writer at a rate of double his earnings. <His explanation of this had me in actual floods of tears. I asked what would happen when the writer had been to hospital and he replied “well they’d come to work, presumably the doctors had successfully fixed the broken leg, that is their job after all is it not.” I explained that broken bones take weeks to heal, he had a think and said “well I guess he could come back and put it on a stool……or he could stay at home and miss out, and anyway unless he was trying to climb the big fence however did he manage to break his leg anyway.”>

The main role of The Editor is to choose what the writers will write about, to read what they’ve written, to argue with what they’ve written and ultimately make them change what they’ve written.

Newspaper production happens daily. Any writers who do not perform effectively will be dismissed (but if they’re really sorry they can pay to come back). Once someone is sacked, then the combination lock code is changed for safety. There was some talk of a cane but I think I managed to negotiate him away from corporal punishment for misdemeanours and he decided shoddy workmanship would be dealt with by the removal of board game privileges.

Each daily edition costs £2.99 but customers are expected to pay more and will not receive change as that money is needed for the Coca-Cola (or gin apparently). Each edition will have 3 stories, a puzzle page, an interview and adverts.

Issue number one will focus on polar bear danger. It will helpfully inform the readers in quite graphic detail about why polar bears are not as friendly and cuddly as they look. It will explain that if you find yourself in an area inhabited by polar bears then you should panic as polar bears are meat eaters and food is scarce, thus anything that enters their local vicinity is considered lunch. It will also touch on their cannibalism tendencies.

Apparently the next story will be funny so as not to upset readers too much that they don’t buy the paper the next day.

The highlight of issue 2 will be an article about Space Debris. Followed by a StarWars noughts and crosses/sudoku hybrid puzzle.

Exactly who will be interviewed is yet to be determined. His heart is set on some Russian astronaut that he’s discovered but he’s worried about the translation issues. He may decide to interview Donald Trump (no he can’t say that without sniggering) as he’s developed an interest in American politics and last night shared with me the three rules that have to be followed to allow you to become president. These are long and complicated rules with many numbers in relating to age and heritage and citizenship. It amazes me that the child reciting them to me is the exact same one who only ever knows the location of one glove. Or he may just interview himself, he is Editor after all.

So I’m sure you’re now all desperate to come and work for Sir Noodle Sugar, he’s awaiting cvs of potential candidates as we speak but I really wouldn’t put it past him to have some sort of recruitment process in the style of Total Wipeout. I truly fear for anyone that ends up working for him in the future because let me tell you I do it on a daily basis and he is a slavedriver.

But anyway this business proposal completely brightened up my evening, especially when he was so into that he was following me round to explain his next strategy to me. That boy will go far, I have no doubt.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Uncategorized

While you were gone…

It’s been a while since a blog post materialised so I thought an interim Circus roundup might be in order.

Froo is away on a residential trip with school this week so I have taken the opportunity to perform a clutter exorcism in her room. In seemingly unrelated news I have discovered the whereabouts of 15 (yes one five) drinking receptacles that I had written off as ‘items lucky enough to leave the madness alive’. So I will now either be incredibly popular and showered with eternal gratitude or……. not. But hey at least I’ll have something to drink from while I wait to find out.

The other drama today involved Pickle’s interactive dog toy. We spent a good while barking instructions at it while it ignored us (yes the irony was not lost on me). Only for Noodle to return home from school and announce “oh yeah that’s probly cos I changed it’s name to {insert name of obscure russian astronaut here}”. So us bellowing ‘Katie’ at it was a complete waste of time and energy.

On the subject of astronauts, Noodle has had a rethink regarding his future career (the plan was to be a police officer during the week, a spaceman on weekends until he was crowned king). However, he learnt today that when you’re on a space mission the most uncomfortable part is re-entry when the temperature increases dramatically. He doesn’t really like being hot so he’s going to be a scientist instead.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Children

Life’s little annoyances.

I like to think I’m a fairly patient person. I’m probably wrong but it’s my blog so we’ll go with it.

However there are a few things in this world that really bring out the irritable side of me, let me share:

  • Pay at Pump – it’s called that for a reason. Rocket science it is not. Insert card, insert pin, insert fuel, insert self back into car. It is not; faff at keypad, take so long that an attendant is alerted, attendant explains that if you’re using cash you need to press ‘pay at kiosk’, insert fuel, fumble in car for purse, wander into kiosk at a pace akin to a cautious turtle, return eventually and smile at waiting car, retune stereo, double check seatbelt, check reflection in mirror, stall car, exit forecourt.
  • Registration inputting machines – I do not know their official title but you know when you’re in a supermarket and you have to key your registration number into a machine to qualify for free parking? Yes those. I have a mind like a sieve, an actual sieve. I cannot be expected to remember: everything I need to buy, whether I’ve remembered my reusable bags, what my PIN number is, and then my registration number. It ain’t gonna happen. The pin machine gets my reg number, the car park machine gets my pin, neither work and I remember why I prefer online shopping.
  • Shops that don’t have prices on display – I find something I like but, low and behold, there’s no price attached. What do I do? If I ask for assistance there’s that uncomfortable moment when they tell you a price way out of your desired budget and you’re forced to resist the sharp intake of breath and screeching “how much???” and instead remain straight faced and calmly respond with “hmm, thank you, I’ll just pop it down and have a little think, I’ll maybe pop back later.” Shop owners listen up, if you want to sell me something I need to know what it costs. I am not psychic.
  • USB charging cables – Why on earth is it necessary to have multiple different shaped usb cables? I want to charge my IPhone….. I can only find a Samsung charger. I want to charge my Kindle……I can only find a lightening adaptor. It’s just madness. It’s a means of transferring power from one source to another so why the need for variety? And then you find the one you actually need, turn around for a second and someone’s stolen it. I swear chargers have legs in The Circus, they stumble off at free will. There’s probably a chargers meeting corner somewhere where they all hang out and plot their next escape.
  • Companies who pay good money for signage on vehicles/buildings/advertising but don’t bother to check it – there’s nothing worse than looking for a plumber and discovering one who ‘value’s there customer’s’, ‘is perfect for pacific jobs’ or “no’s you’re needs ect” It’s just unprofessional and sloppy. When CircusHusband and I were planning our wedding, I dismissed many discos and florists because of blaring grammatical errors on their websites and I regularly vow to carry tippex with me to eradicate errant apostrophes. Yes, spelling and grammar can be tricky but in this technological age there is no excuse, spell check is your friend.
  • People who pull up at the drive-thru windows and have no idea what they want – ok so this one is quite specific and I may be personally biased as CircusHusband is a nightmare for this. He can examine the menu board, eventually make a decision, reach the ordering machine and then have sudden amnesia and not have a clue where he is , who he is or what the hell he wants to eat. It’s equally frustrating and hilarious the amount of times I have to take over and holler orders from the passenger side.
  • Cutlery – yes I know you’re already slightly baffled about what could possibly be the problem with cutlery. Let me explain. The cutlery lives in a drawer. The drawer is segmented to make life orderly and easier. The order of the cutlery is set in stone, there are no variations, it’s not a random pick and mix. It goes: Knives. Forks. Dessert Spoons. Tea Spoons. Always has, always will. It is not funny to muddle the spoons and forks. Neither is it amusing to turn all the teaspoons so they face the wrong direction. It is not a whimsical quirk to allow the dessert spoons to become bedfellows with the kebab skewers (which have their own designated area). Knives. Forks. Spoons….Knives.Forks.Spoons.

I could go on……and on…..and on. But we’ll leave it with those for now.

Please feel free to share your irritations, let me know it’s not just me.

Welcome to my world

Rx

Children, Christmas, parenting, Random musings

Practically Perfect isn’t always Perfectly Practical.

Well hello.

So, first blog post of the new year and it comes with a resolution to make creating new posts a more regular occurrence so if there are things you would and wouldn’t want to  read about in 2018 please leave feedback.

We had the ‘back to school’ rigmarole last week. Always fun after 3 weeks holiday. It baffles and amazes me how it is possible to lose one shoe/one plimsoll/one trainer/ between taking them off and requiring them again.

Inevitably followed by the words “well that’s where I left them, someone must have moved them”,

Yep those pesky fairies have a lot to answer for.

Then, of course, there’s the ‘new term bag packing’ which this time I fortunately didn’t leave until the morning of return. Why fortunately? Well, because otherwise I wouldn’t have found the Christmas card Noodle had lovingly created for us yet forgot to deliver, and I wouldn’t have found the homework he was so adamant he didn’t have.

Back to school seems to indicate the end of the Christmas season. The time to put a more sensible head on. The time to swap pyjamas for some semblance of daywear. The time to not wake up in a cold sweat at 2am because you haven’t moved the god damn elf. The time to actually check that it’s at least the afternoon when someone offers you a drink. The time to start drinking said drinks out of proper, civilised receptacles (and this is brought to you by the person who spent Christmas and new year drinking from either a disco ball with a straw hole or a hollowed out chocolate reindeer). The time to eat something with actual nutritional value.
And it’s on that last note that I decided just this morning that the Christmas season is definitely over thanks to a conversation with Pickle.

“Mummy I’ll cook for you in my kitchen, what would like for breakfast?”
“Oh I don’t know, what would you recommend?”
She stopped what she was doing. Turned to look at me. Cast her eyes up and down and declared:
“Maybe just lettuce………………………………”

Ok. Resuming normality followed by a Slimming World reunion it is then.

During the aftermath it’s easy to look back over the season and dwell

on things you wish you’d done slightly differently; different food you could have cooked, different presents you could have bought, the pile of cards you should have posted (just me?) I think this may be the first year that I am not partaking in the value of hindsight and that alone means this Christmas was an unrivalled success.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this and you may be surprised to learn that I am rubbish at Christmas.

Complete rubbish.

I lost my mum three days after Christmas a few years ago and try as you might, it’s not easy to disassociate the two things (although I obviously try for the Monkeys). It means I try to overcompensate to the point of striving for perfection, an idealism that will never be reached and therefore becomes a disappointment. I take on everything and overthink everything until the fun becomes a chore and it’s a slow road to burnout. Someone said to me recently, that I am far too bothered by what other people’s impressions of me are. To a point this is true, but sometimes the opinions you hold of yourself are ultimately the most damaging.

I came up with my own personal catchphrase related to this

PRACTICALLY PERFECT ISN’T ALWAYS PERFECTLY PRACTICAL.

But. Proudly I can say this year was different. This year was more fun than chore. Each element was enjoyable and there wasn’t the inevitable anticlimax. I think what I have learned is that there is no ideal. You do what works for you. And you don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. You surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are, not with those who constantly expect more than you can comfortably give.

It is what it is and that’s all it needs to be.

So. Christmas has been and gone and New Year is but a distant memory, so let’s conclude these ramblings with some of the funnier festive goings-on in The Circus.

  • The turkey that was left to defrost was scavenged and mauled by a wild yeti (or possibly a local nosy cat – the jury’s still out).
  • The replacement turkey took nigh on the entire twelve days of Christmas to cook.
  • This resulted in the infamous words “I’ll just whack the temperature up for a bit”
  • This resulted in the infamous words “Erm, why exactly is the oven on fire?” (thank god it’s not long til Mother’s Day as the new black hue of my oven gloves really doesn’t complement my kitchen)
  • The baby seemed to have rather deepseated issues with the Christmas tree. The poor thing was subjected to light saber attacks, somewhat vigorous shaking, and my beautifully co-ordinated tree decorations wouldn’t look out of place in an earthquake reconstruction.

So. That’s it really. We survived Christmas. Everyone was mostly unscathed.  I use the word ‘was’ as the day before yesterday saw us holding Noodle’s first ever proper birthday party. He was extremely lucky and received many wonderful gifts and some money. Money that I irresponsibly said he could spend on things of his choosing……

A Nerf Gun…..and SpongeBob Squarepants Walkie Talkies

So normality is finally restored, just as long as you avoid the SAS secret missions corp which lie in wait with foam bullets while sending and receiving undecodable messages through a bright yellow talking sponge of course.

Welcome to my world.
Rx