Friday, 30 March 2012

Poppy puppy progress

The weeks fly by in a mad, manic rush, so apologies for the tardiness in writing a blog post. I blame the dog.

In four weeks of ownership, what has happened?

Sleepless nights: the dog chose to start barking at 3.30am one night. She didn't quieten for long when I went to see her so I went down a second time. Then the smell hit me, and I had to open the door to let her out whilst I cleaned up the mess. But of course it is cold outside and neither she nor I wanted to go out. So puppy and mess and me in the utility room with door wide open: not a good start to the day.

Mess: toilet training has involved a lot of mopping up. Despite the previous paragraph, she is usually dry overnight (wahey!) and the sunny weather has meant she has been outside a lot, but the minute someone comes to visit she gets very excited. Very excited. So I mop up more damp patches and apologise to everyone for her (a) waving her tail in the liquid and then (b) wagging the wet tail with vigour...

Chewing: I fear this is only at the beginning of the phase, but paper does appear to be a favourite. This doesn't help much with the toilet training, given we leave out newspaper for her to go on! It didn't do much for last night's bible study notes either, and my daughter wasn't too chuffed with the loss of her work of art.

Walking: What a battle! She is excited when she sees the lead picked up (but see the note on mess and excitement...) and then spends the whole walk sniffing at every tree and lamppost and cigarette packet and leaf. Yanked along she'll eventually be persuaded to walk beside me, then gets a sniff of something new and practically pulls my arm out of its socket as she rushes to reach it. A tug-of-war push/pull fight to the end.

Eating: this she does a lot, but I'm trying not to let my husband know that I had to replant his row of box hedge plants (gosh, I hope they still grow: I'm not the gardener in the family!)

And yet...
She is good at sitting.
She is patient with children, loving being petted.
She rarely jumps up.
She doesn't bark much.
She can be bribed with a cube of cheese.
She is gorgeous.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Why I am avoiding Mother's Day

Every year Mother's Day is a problem for me and - simply put - it is because I don't have one. At least, not any more.

Perhaps if my mother had died at an 'expected' age it wouldn't matter to me so much. But I was 16, beginning my A-levels and all I think about is that she hasn't been there to share in so much of my life - going to University, graduating, meeting boyfriends, buying a house, getting married, having children (oh, that most of all).

Each year it hits me that I am now supposed to revel in this day. It is a precious time when motherhood is celebrated. As a mother, it is supposed to be the best day of all, when I get treated and pampered and might get away without doing any ironing (ha!).

I am supposed to love my children bestowing me with gifts (invariably a seedling in a pot, that I shall spend many tender weeks killing). Yet I know my children love me. Just the other day, on the way back from swimming lesson and totally unprompted, my daughter tenderly stretched her hand over to me as I was driving and said, "I love you mummy," with a big smile on her face. I am blessed by many smiles and cuddles from both my children, so the 'special day' is not necessary. After all, it is far better to be loved all year round than to have a bunch of flowers delivered by Interflora once a year.

Building on that, other things niggle.
Why are flowers more expensive now than they will be next week? Oh yes, supply and demand. I'll happily have mine when they're cheaper!
As a churchgoer, my church gives a few daffodils to every woman in the congregation. Why? They are not all mothers. It would make more sense to give them to everyone who has a mother. (Or perhaps just to those who have lost a mother?)
I have noticed that I am asked to lead Mother's Day services. Because I am middle-aged and a mother it is presumed that I am the right person. Might it not be better coming from a man who appreciates what his mother/wife have done?
Even having a quiet lunch out is unpleasant because everything is labelled for Mother's Day, tends to be more expensive than normal, and I am surrounded by generations of mothers.

I know: some of these are blocks and walls that I have built up. But, as with all things, it is wise to see the other side of the coin; to remember that there are some who are going to find the day difficult. Think of the mothers of the children killed or injured in the bus crash in Switzerland on Tuesday night. Think of those whose mother has dementia and doesn't recognise them when they visit. Think of those who've recently been bereaved. Think of those whose mothers are alcholics, drug-abusers, prostitutes, abusive, a poor role-model. In that way, you can celebrate motherhood with compassion. For undoubtedly mothers are the hardest working people on the planet, which is why they are worth appreciating.

And me? I am going away for the weekend, leaving my husband to look after the kids and giving myself some space to write. Now if that isn't a treat, I don't know what is!

(And I'm going to eat the chocolate my daughter decorated for me this year!)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Things that bring a smile to my face

Sometimes blogging feels like rowing a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Every stroke seems futile, for where is the land? How can I be sure I'm heading in the right direction? Energy and momentum drift and wane. Then - suddenly - I am startled by a loud horn and discover an oil tanker bearing down on me.

Not that this has happened to me personally, you understand. Just sometimes we lose our way.

So imagine my delight when I read comments on another blog of mine like these:
I can't wait for more articles.
I see you put a lot of work into...
Hi comrade! I'm absolutely...
Hello Mr Expert. When...

And best of all:
Awesome website!! I like your design.

Yes, of course, these were spam messages, but - just briefly - they put a smile on my face. Somebody loves me, even if they are robots!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

My World Book Day success!

There are few things that drive me more up the wall than 'dressing up days' at school. This is mainly because I am told about them with little more than 24 hours notice (or so it seems). Even with notice, it creeps up on me unawares and becomes a last-minute panic. It is also because I am pretty hopeless and utterly unskilled in creating outfits.

Whilst I love books, I was dreading World Book Day (last Thursday) because it would - inevitably - mean that both my children would have to dress up. I am running out of characters who wear ordinary clothes. Harry Potter et al requires a cloak. Winnie the Pooh: a bear outfit. Daisy Meadows' Fairies: wings, wands and general ethereality. Children's book characters are, almost by definition, out of the ordinary.

This year, along with many schools across the land I have no doubt, I had to dress my daughter as a Dickens' character. She has never heard of Dickens, never read one of his stories nor any idea about who would be in them. In all honesty, I haven't read a full novel of his either. How many female Dickens characters are there? And how many of them are interesting, rather than just Victorian ladies.

We settled for her being a ragamuffin urchin with a flat cap on and torn T-shirt + leggings.

In contrast, my son's class have been reading Gangsta Grannie and so had to go as Gangsta Grannies or Grandpas. Not having read the book myself I had to rely on him to know what to do. He decided to go as a thief, dressed all in black, with a mask over his face.

"And green coming out of my bottom," he said.

This is a statement to make most mothers stop in their tracks.

"She eats cabbage," he explained, "and farts cabbage."

"Oh," I reply. I rack my brain to think of where I might find some green material to sew on, and scratch my head as I wonder how I'm going to do that with no hours left in my day.

Then: my eureka moment.

"Why don't we buy a cabbage and fasten cabbage leaves to your T-shirt?"

And so we did.

And why was this a success? (Other than placating my son, of course!)

He won a Headteacher's Award for his costume!

I like to think that I won it really...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A new addition to the family

As with most things, I give in to my children.

For ages they have been wanting a sibling (one wants a brother, the other wants a sister!) They also nag me endlessly about iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Kinnect and other technologies. So far, I have resisted. (Well, a combination of me, my sanity and my bank balance, depending on which option you choose!) In practice, I have given in to this:

Welcome Poppy!

Two days in and she is very much part of our family, although I haven't a clue what I am doing most of the time! She is, evidently, gorgeous and so it is easy to give in to her. At nearly 4 months she is quite old for coming to a new house but that also means that she is further on in her training than other puppies are. She is an all-consuming distraction from what I'm supposed to be doing - be it writing or children or meetings or whatever. She has slept well since arriving (two nights!) but really wants a lot more attention in the mornings than I am able to give her. And our adventure to walk to the post box yesterday only got as far as the neighbours' gate!

The name caused much debate. My husband and I wanted 'Pepper' but - as you can tell - we gave in to our children's preference. Surely taking ownership like this means they'll be delighted to walk her as she gets older. No? Me still?

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