Talk About Cheesecake

Musings, meanderings and meditation for my mind.


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Stop volunteering.

Carrying on from my last post (So much to do, so little time) the plan for today was to be productive.

Lots of work to be done – work that pays, that is.

However, upon waking this morning I realised that today is the daughter’s school Christmas Fair. I thought I would pop in, but realise I have to sort out the money for the stalls, so in fact I need to be up there for 3pm to drop it off in time. This is because I went along to a PTFA meeting a few weeks ago, rather randomly, and somehow volunteered to be the new treasurer.

It has to do with awkward silences and overly long discussions. I have come to understand this about myself. I am impatient and a fixer. Basically, if I see a problem then I want to find a solution. I want to fix it. If you have ever been to a PTFA meeting then you will know that it is full of a lot of discussion, side tracking and rehashing of past events, but very little progress.

So at this particular meeting they needed a new treasurer. There followed a long awkward silence, followed by a discussion of how to fill the post if no one volunteered, what the post involved, how much time it took. When the explanation had reached critical levels – an detailed explanation of how to fill in a cheque – I just could not take any more. I volunteered. Out of desperation. Please, just move the subject along.

Back to breakfast this morning. Mini Monster 1 then informed me that she was performing with the choir at 4pm, so I need to be there to watch her.

Oh, and deliver a number of small children to their homes. Because, yet again, I volunteered. There I stood, outside the gates this morning with other mums moaning about how they would have to return to the school after the choir finished to collect their little darlings. I couldn’t stop myself. I heard my voice, before my brain could take control of my mouth, volunteering to drive them home.

It occurred to me as I walked away, that of all the kids I was now taxi’ing about, mine is the only one with a mother who worked. Yes, I am now ferrying children about to allow their non-working, commitment free mothers time to go to their gym appointments or to finish their coffee in peace.

So having now committed myself to being at the school from 3 to 5pm this afternoon, I decided I may as well go the whole hog and actually help out at the fair. Yes, I did. I volunteered to run a stall at the fair. Partly egged on by Mini Monster 1 who said ‘I like it when you are on the stall mummy. Then I can stand behind it with you and cuddle you.’

Ahhhhh.

I need to stop this volunteering. That’s half my day gone, what with sorting out the money before the fair starts and clearing up after, delivering children to their homes and cooking dinner for my own. I haven’t even started on the actual work that pays yet!


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So much to do, so little time

I haven’t been by for a week. I checked my notifications daily, partly because I am so excited and thrilled any time anyone wants to read my blog and partly so as to note any comments to respond to (apologies if I have not yet got back to you). However I have not actually written anything and barely browsed through the many fantastic blogs I want to read every day.

But despite rushing hither and yonder all week I am not sure I have accomplished much.

I lost 10 hours driving across the country over the weekend, partly through the need to go south for business and then north for family, but mainly because I got caught in all the flooding and resulting traffic jams. Wasn’t that horrific – I hope none of you were caught up in the jams or worse, suffered from the flooding?

I had a fabulous day and 2 evenings with a close friend (more on that to come!). Oh, and I did that annoying thing called work (frantically in fact) to make up for all the time spent elsewhere over the weekend.

So today I have a rare free day. If I was Mr G I would be enjoying my rare free day relaxing on the sofa with some gaming machine attached shooting at grumpy looking zombies. As I am not Mr G, I have a list of things to get done starting with cleaning the pit that the children consider to be a room, mucking out the puppy bed (she likes to hide toys, chewed shoes and shredded sticks in there), getting some way into the Christmas shopping and maybe even finishing the next stage of my writing coursework.

What I have achieved, in fact, is questionable.

Home made squash and red pepper soup made. (Well, it’s part of the new healthy eating plan I kick started this morning).

New writing role applied for. (Something to do with my spare time.)

A new list made of things I really need to do, web sites I should read, research I have to do (as we all know, making a list of things to do is actually an important stage of doing them!).

But I have cleaned out the puppy bed. So, I am getting there!

How is your day going? Do you feel in control or is your To Do list growing?


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My first failure as a parent.

As I commented on a post about being A Mum in Hiding – about how we mums try to hide the many things we do that would label us as a Bad Mummy – I was reminded of one of the first times I felt like a Bad Mummy, the first time I had failed my child and proven that I lacked the ability to be a perfect mum. I talk of the very emotive issue of breastfeeding.

Although I have put the whole issue of breastfeeding long behind me and no longer worry that I got it wrong and let my children down in the worst possible way I am aware that this remains a major debate for all mummies. You only need to visit a parenting website or view a forum that mentions the subject and up jump the different sides, ready to argue for their cause. 

Generally it comes down to benefits.

We have the side who will argue that breastfeeding is scientifically proven to be better for your child healthwise, that it prevents obesity as they grow older and those children who are breastfed are going to be smarter, fitter, stronger. Basically all round super children. We will call that side Boobs.

In opposition are those who argue that they were not breastfed and they are not couch potatoes wallowing in their own ignorance. They turned out ok. We call them Bottle.

“Look at the children walking down the street and see if you can tell which one was breastfed,” Bottle argues.

“But it is free,” says Boobs. “It is natural. Women were made to breastfeed. That’s why we have boobs.”

“We have evolved,” says Bottle. “My boobs are my own, I will choose who gets to suck on them.”

“It is so convenient. No carrying about of paraphernalia, no large bags and having to look for microwaves. My boob produces the perfect food, nutritionally balanced and full of flavour, pre-heated to the right temperature. It is there on demand, no waiting for the baby.” Boobs says.

Bottle laughs. “I don’t see carrying round a bottle and a bit of powder as hard work. It’s not difficult.  I don’t want to get my boobs out in public. I don’t face the embarrassment of strangers unsure where they are allowed to look.”

“You should try it at least. Every mother should try to breastfeed her baby.” said Boobs.

“But it hurts. You get mastitis. The baby chews the skin from your nipples. They are sore and it is painful.” worries Bottle.

Boobs smiles, “The more you do it the easier it becomes. Your nipples harden up. The soreness goes. You are rewarded for your pain by being incredibly close to your baby. As one. There is no deeper connection. If you do not breastfeed you are missing out.”

“I want my partner to be able to help too. He wants to feed his child and feel close to her too. He can do nothing but watch if I breastfeed,” argues Bottle.

“He can bring your towels. He can help in other ways. He can change nappies and connect with the baby that way.” says Boobs.

 

 

 

 

When I was pregnant with Kid 1 I met my own Boobs. A close friend and a very strong willed person who may not have realised how very forcefully she pushed the notion of breastfeeding at me.

“Thou shalt offer up thine boob, or know that thou hast failed thy child!”

Of course, there were others who were keen that I should breastfeed. The midwife made it clear that I should try. Everyone who had a child, thought of having a child or had ever seen a child seemed to have an opinion. But it was the pressure of Boobs, combined with her ‘I did it till mine were 9 months old’  commentary, that made me feel most obliged to do it. Maybe I am an easily influenced person but I did not want to fail where apparently everyone else had succeeded.

“I must do what is right for my child” was the mantra.

(Interestingly, my own mother was not pushy at all. The opposite in fact. She had not breastfed her children and she was not keen on the idea at all. But she stayed quiet and let me make up my own mind.)

When they handed my daughter to me for the first feed right after she was born, she latched on and sucked away. It was easy. It felt fine. I could do this. Of course, not taking into account that I had been awake for over 24 hours, she was barely 20 minutes old and not up to a full feed and the midwives were actually controlling her body and my boob, I didn’t realise that she and I had not really been in control of the feed, purely the apparatus the midwives used to complete their role.

The second time, a few hours later after we had both been asleep, was very different. She cried, I panicked, a different midwife came to see what was happening. And that is where it began to go wrong.

This midwife was very stern, not so warm and slightly condescending. I asked for help, after all I had never had a child attached to my nipple before and I had no idea what to do. They don’t come with instructions you know. By her very demeanour I could tell the midwife was thinking “Stupid woman. What is so hard? Stick the child on your boob.” I didn’t ask again.

I left the hospital with child and with only a vague idea of how I was meant to feed her. The first day at home was horrendous. In-laws popping in to prod my baby and the moment she whimpered I was told to feed her while they all watched expectantly. Was I being rude leaving the room to breastfeed her, as if implying they were all trying to see my breasts? At the same time I resented having to leave my nice warm sofa and have to plod up to the cold bedroom for privacy because the house was full of invaders.

On day 3 another midwife stopped by. She very casually informed me that she wanted to see the baby feed to be sure it was all going ok, picked up my child and rammed her onto my boob. My daughter choked. Somehow we found ourselves hustling to the car with the midwife telling us that ‘she had stopped breathing for a second and we had to get her checked over’.  Cue panicked parents hurtling back to the children’s ward. Of course all was fine, but we were only told that after 24 hours of worry and beeping machinery monitoring her.

The next thing that happened, my milk came in. Oh my, the pain!

Water Balloon explosion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly my boobs stuck out, swollen and solid and as big as the famous bra Madonna once wore. The pressure was incredible, it felt that at any moment they would explode. One touch and milk was gushing out.

From then on trying to feed my baby girl was a nightmare. I would try to get her to latch on. She would arch away from me screaming hysterically. My breasts were agony, a straining balloon that needed release. My baby would not perform her part of the bargain and take the pain away. If I could get her to latch on she chewed my nipples until they were raw and bleeding.

This was not fun. This was not bringing us closer. There was no mummy-baby contentment here. Every time I thought of her next feed I felt resentment, fear of the pain, tense about how much she would scream. I cried because it hurt so much, because she clearly hated me, because I was failing as a mother.

Finally my friend Boobs came to visit me a few days in. She took one look at my baby crying because she couldn’t feed, whilst I tried to make her and she said “Why don’t you try to express it into a bottle?”

What? I was allowed to do this? Why hadn’t this occurred to me? Why had no one told me of this option?

I got my breast pump attached and expressed a good 6 ounces within minutes. Oh my word! The relief. The pain was gone, the pressure released. My boobs were no longer straining, my child was feeding peacefully.

Boobs remarked, “You must have a lot of milk. It used to take me 2 hours to express just an ounce or two.” It was this comment that gave me the clue I needed, although I didn’t realise it until my son was due three years later.

In the meantime I carried on expressing and feeding my child breast milk via a bottle for a week or so, until I had such severe mastitis I couldn’t take anymore. I gave up, I went to formula.

When my son was due I took time to look into the mechanics of breastfeeding before hand. I learnt that if a woman produces a lot of milk the initial release  when the baby sucks can be too fast. In other words, when my daughter had tried to suck she had been instantly drowned in milk instead. A simple solution, the book said, was to just gently massage to get the milk flowing first and then latch baby on once the flood had slowed.

So simple. So much clearer. My son was born and after some help in learning how to latch on, he breastfed without issues. I had succeeded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The irony here was that, having discovered that I could breastfeed, having experienced calm feeds with contented baby, after a week or so I realised that I don’t actually like breastfeeding.

I don’t like the feeling of the child sucking the milk from me. I don’t like feeling like a cow. I find it a little gross.

If that offends you, well I won’t apologise for that. These are my feelings. I don’t object to breastfeeding in general. If you want to, that’s fine. If you enjoy it, great. If you want to carry on having your child sucking on your boob up to the age of 4 (or more) well I guess that is your choice.

I don’t like it.

So, both my children had breast milk for the first two weeks of their lives. Then they had formula. I chose to take my son off the boob and I do not regret that. It was right for us. I do not feel that I missed out on any connection with my child and Mr G enjoyed the time he got to spent in quiet contemplation feeding his children too.

My advice to anyone who is not sure if they want to breastfeed or doesn’t know where to start – go to your midwife and ask her for information on how to do it. Go to a breastfeeding group, they have them at most hospitals, and watch. Ask questions. Know what you are doing before the baby is born. Get all the facts and if unsure, well there is no harm in trying it out.

But don’t feel forced.

And above all, do what suits you, not everyone else.


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Regressing and sibling tantrums

When exactly do we grow up? If someone could enlighten me, what age is it that we become rational adults?

I think it happened to me in my late twenties, although it was a gradual creeping thing that snuck up on me, sneaking insidiously into my behaviours and thought processes. Over time I became aware of my responsibilities and conscious that I needed to control my temperament.

Rational adults should not have tantrums or throw hissy fits. A grown up is able to reason and debate with those who have an opposing viewpoint.

So tell me please, why is it that within 12 hours of being at my parents home at the same time as my brother we are reduced to screaming insults at each other and bickering like . . .  well, like children?

Let me set the scene. I went into the attic in search of some old toys for my own mini monsters to play with. I found my old Playmobil fishing boat. Brilliant. I also found my brother’s Playmobil pirate ship.

Aware that this was his property, I shouted down to see if my kids could play with it. I know it’s a toy and he is an adult, but after all, it is only polite to ask.

“No,” is the response from my childless brother. “They will destroy it, lose all the bits. Break it.”

Please note, my children are not delinquents prone to unprovoked episodes of destruction. They are a perfectly normal three and six year old. Bachelor brothers do not seem very child friendly.

Unfortunately, this alerted him to my position in the attic and he promptly arrived in order to defend further incursions on his childhood memorabilia. Every box I touched was met with a grouchy “that’s mine” or “they’ll ruin it”.

I got gradually more irritated.

Finally I opened a box containing seven plastic horses complete with tiny Red Indian riders. I distinctly remember being given these as a child. My brothers had a fort full of cowboys and indians and I am certain my father gave me my own little set because they would not let me play with theirs.

My brother however, insisted they were his.

Things deteriorated rapidly. Bickering became snarling, grouching became full on arguing. Soon I was holding tightly to my box while he tried to snatch it out of my hands.

“It’s mine” “No, they are mine” “Give them to me” “No”

My mother eventually popped her head up into the attic and shouted at us to stop fighting. My kids were standing, open mouthed, at the bottom of the ladder. We came down, still bickering and snarling and I remained in a filthy bad mood with him for the rest of the day.

What is it that makes siblings, both over the age of 35, regress to a state of childish anger and frustration over seven plastic horses?

And in case you were wondering, I took the box and hid it in my suitcase until it was time for me to go home! Well, they are mine after all!


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Lesson 3 – Top tips in self-promotion

Following on from my previous post on the subject of Learning to Blog, I decided to update my latest findings. I am looking into ways of driving more traffic to a blog.

To be clear, I have not yet found the answer. I am still wandering through a Google search to see what insight there is. A lot of the posts and websites dedicated to the subject use terminology I am not yet familiar with so I am learning by trial, error and a lot of playing about.

So far, a few simple things have worked for me.

1. Being freshly pressed. Frankly, I am not sure what it was about my post that stood out but thanks to the Freshly Pressed pickers I had over 900 visitors in 2 days. Before I feel too smug though, I admit that very few seemed to want to stick about to read more.

That’s fine. Lesson learnt that my writing may be cathartic for me, but maybe not so exciting for the reader. The main problem with this is that a visitor to a blog who doesn’t enjoy what they read rarely leaves a critical appraisal behind aimed at my personal development.

2. Browsing blogs and leaving comments. I like to read other blogs. I have browsed through a number of sites every day in the last few months. However I cannot agree with the concept that I should like and comment on posts even though I am not really interested in them, just to encourage the same reader to my own little corner. That seems rude.

I want people to comment on my posts because they are interested in something I wrote about, not just to grab my attention and drag it to their own page. So I will pay back the same courtesy. If I have liked or commented on your post, it is because it provoked a reaction. (If I haven’t, maybe I just didn’t find your blog yet. There are a lot for me to get through).

3. Replying to comments left on my posts. There seem to be 2 trains on thought on this. One is that I should reply to every comment left, to be polite and show my appreciation for a visitor taking the time to reply. Another is that replying to every comment is time consuming and becomes repetitive.

I suspect the latter is aimed at those people who receive hundreds of comments a day. Perhaps when I get to that point I too will run out of responses and time. For now, I really do enjoy every comment I receive and I do endeavour to respond to them all. It’s not just being polite, it’s because I am enjoying the interaction and the chance to meet new friends!

4. Using social media. Now this is the tricky one. So far I have created a Facebook page linked to this site. I believe I have had one visitor – a friend from the real world. I don’t think Facebook is the way to meet strangers online, personally I use it for friends and family.

I have also joined Mumsnet bloggers – it being suggested that as I write about family and my kids as often as anything else I should fit right in. I am not sure yet how much traffic that generates, but it has given a whole new arena of blogs to read. So much reading, so little time!

Twitter is of course the favourite. Every piece of advice mentions having a tweet – it’s a whole new verb in it’s own right. I have to say that I find it strange though. What should I post about on Twitter? Are you interested in what I had for dinner or should I stick to promoting the blog only? Or is that just boring?

So how much is too much?

I am currently setting up a blog for my brother to promote his business and photography. I linked it to his Twitter account, last updated 300 days ago. I suggested he should update it more often. He replied that he felt he should post less frequently but with ‘content rich’ posts, both on Twitter and the blog. Too much, he said, and no one would pay much attention.

I, on the other hand, have found most advice suggests to post more frequently to encourage interest. Only posting monthly would surely mean that followers lose patience in waiting for the next update. Neglect your readers and they will neglect you in return.

But who is right?

I expect the answer is somewhere in between. Post regularly, but make it relevant and readable, rather than random drivel. Of course, applying that to Twitter will require a different interpretation to applying it to a blog.

Now – back to my research to find out just what it is I am meant to tweet. Any suggestions?

Young Housewife, Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia


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A weekend of irony

Having decided during the week that I needed some time out from the daily grind, I loaded up the kids, bicycles and laptop and popped off to my mother’s for the weekend, leaving Mr G to do whatever he chose for 2 days.

Ironically, having the house to himself apparently means Mr G has decided to spend his time catching up on some much needed repairs around house and home. This is instead of his normal weekend activities of a moderate amount of housework interspersed with a large amount of reclining. Male logic at it’s finest.

Meanwhile the kids have had a fabulous time already; riding bikes, playing with toys and forcing grandparents relentlessly into games of Twister and Frustration (the rules of which are made up by Kid 1 as and when she requires an edge). Again, rather ironic as when at home I have to physically remove them from in front of various screens to force them to play with toys or expel them from the house.

As for myself, I envisioned spending the weekend catching up on some reading and doing my coursework instead of the usual household chores, dog walking, food shopping and general parenting. Instead I seem to have developed a mental block when it comes to the much delayed coursework and have developed a case of restless feet. Why is it that now I have time to relax and do nothing I feel I should be up and doing something?

I think I will go bake a cake or cook the dinner . Does that count as relaxing?


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A word on virtual friendships.

This is a post I have been meaning to write for some time. This is a thought or two on friendships.

Virtual friendships.

When the internet first burst out of it’s box however long ago the idea that we could all chat with complete strangers was bizarre. Forming friendships with them was ridiculous. Certainly I never imagined that I would  spend more time chatting with virtual friends online than my real life companions.

But somehow that is what has happened.

Seven years ago I searched online for a forum about becoming a mother. Being pregnant was an entirely new experience, the things happening inside me were exciting and frightening, the future an unknown entity. As anyone who has been pregnant knows there are questions we want to ask. Not just the obvious medical ones – how is the baby growing, what is giving birth like? Little questions. Embarrassing questions about bodily functions for example.

I found a mums group where all of us nervous expectant mothers were due in the same month. Which was great as it meant we were going through the same changes at the same time. I joined in under a pseudonym and began my first forays in to chatting online.

To start with there were probably a hundred or more women on the forum. Some left, others joined. Over the nine months of pregnancy there were of course arguments and trolls. Even online personalities clash. But at the core of the group there were a number of continuous posters who became individuals in their own right. They stood out. I began to remember details about selected members and to have chats and laugh at jokes. Much like building a relationship in the real world we got to know each other by sharing experiences and parts of our own personal histories. Without ever actually knowing the basic information of the girls real names. After all, this was a public forum.

Our babies were born. We shared birth stories. Our babies began to grow and we told each other about their first teeth, their first taste of food. My forum friends and I discussed first birthdays and first steps.

And then along came Facebook and everything changed.

I cannot remember who first brought up the idea of having a private group on Facebook. At first it was a worrying idea, to join in with my given name and allow my virtual friends access to the real me. After all I may have been sharing intimate personal details with complete strangers online for about two years but they didn’t actually know who I was.

I umm’ed and ahh’ed but in the end the group was set up and I joined in. And there they were. The actual names and faces of about 25 of the loveliest women I have ever met. Or not met, as the case may be.

We have had a few more people leave us over time. But that’s ok. Having virtual friends means that dropping them if you want to is easy. No embarrassing encounters over shopping trolleys or awkward silences at the school gates.

What is left is a group of the most supportive women I have ever known. We don’t all agree on everything, of course. There are different viewpoints on politics, child rearing, breast feeding, education. We discuss all sorts of topics in our private group and it’s ok for us to disagree, to explore different ideas and have our own opinions.

One of our ladies lives abroad. The rest of us are spread out across the UK. Some of us have met now, physically. Some of us haven’t. It doesn’t matter. We come together in our virtual meeting place for a coffee and a chat. If one of my friends has a problem they can ‘talk’ it through online and the rest of us are supportive. If they want a rant, we can join in and rant with them. When they feel sad, we take time to cheer each other up. Between us we have a variety of work experience in different fields we can use to give each other advice. While we still talk about our children, we went far past that a long time ago.

What makes a friendship? If it’s spending time together, we do that. In fact we can chat every day, even if we just pop in for 5 minutes. Which is more time than I get to spend with my ‘real life’ friends. Shopping together – we do that too, online. Sharing worries and concerns, having a laugh, moaning about husbands, families, worrying about children. We do all that and we can share a virtual hug too.

Is this a way of life today – are online friendships becoming more common? Is it all we have time for now in our busy lives. I don’t know if our group is unusual in how close we became or if this is becoming ‘the norm’.

This is what I do know.

Seven years ago I met group of strangers online and now I am pleased to be able to call them my friends.


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It’s Christmas! – Part 2 The lunch list

I previously wrote about the stress of the Christmas gift list. But that’s nothing compared to the question of where to spend Christmas.

Christmas is meant to be a holiday. I don’t know about you, but to me holiday means relaxing and spending time playing with my kids. It means having fun, long walks and doing what we, as a family, want to do.

Of course there are elements of this at Christmas. Generally though, Christmas means spending time with all of the family. Which would not be so bad, if most of mine were not at least 2 hours away in different directions.

The first discussion of the year is of course where to spend Christmas Day. Once we have the big decision out of the way, we can work on fitting in the rest. Mr G likes us to be with his parents. He doesn’t want them to be alone. I am pleased I have a caring and conscientious hubbie. I do however want to see my parents too but they live 120 miles away so it’s my parents or his.

My parents could stay with us, but we must take into account that my dad wants to have Christmas in his own home sometimes. My mother likes to have all her children come home to her occasionally. Insert into that my brother, who wants to spend some of the holiday in his home and also has to fit in his mother-in-law.

Meeting everyone’s wants can be exhausting.

My solution to this was to set up a rota. Call me over controlling. I thought we could just take it in turns. One year we would spend the day with his parents, the next year with my parents and the year after that have all of them at our house. At least then I get to see my parents two years out of three.

Of course we have not yet managed to time a visit to my parents once to coincide with my brother’s family. Six years into my rota and my mother has changed her plans for this year to have my brother at her home rather than come to mine. Hey, we roll with the plan. I am nothing if not flexible.

Concluding where we spend Christmas Day is only one part of the challenge though. This year we are at home with Mr G’s parents. Now we can establish part 2. The guest list. Because while we were organising our own family, Mr G’s sister needs to arrange hers. If they want to see her parents too, that’s another 5 bodies for lunch.

Now I am cooking for eleven. Which is actually less than the usual fourteen it would have been had my parents been coming with my younger brother.

Now we have a plan. The guest list is arranged. For one day. Just the other two weeks of holiday to plan now.

Am I alone in thinking Christmas is not relaxing?


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It’s Christmas! – Part 1. Present shopping

The conversations have started, the discussions are underway. It’s the time of year where we tentatively start probing our way through the entanglements, mindful of the fragile egos, the touchy feelings and the obligations to extended family.

It’s time for us to worry about debt, fret over etiquette and wear ourselves to the edge of exhaustion in ensuring perfection.

Yes, it’s Christmas.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love Christmas. Well, I love the idea of what Christmas should be, the ideal that I hold as an image in my mind and strive to achieve every year.

However Christmas comes with bundles of stress, so I decided I would start to document each one as it occurred!

Part 1 – Present Shopping

I enjoy shopping for gifts for my family and friends. In theory. The idea is to choose a thoughtful present that will bring them some pleasure.

In reality the adult family that surround me don’t really *need* presents. They have disposable incomes and I have a budget limit. If there was something in the £20 and under category that they really wanted, well they would just buy it for themselves. And so every year I have the same dilemma.

I want to buy my parents gifts. After all they brought me up and lavished care and love on me. I like to show them that I appreciate all they did. I want to think of something special. However to be honest, I cannot afford my mother’s taste and my father is happy with a book. That he has chosen.

My middle brother has completely different taste to me. Last year I bought him a fun new wallet covered in superhero comic strips. He made it clear he found it childish and would never use it. On Boxing Day I recovered the wallet and gave it to Mr G, who does have a sense of humour like mine and has used it ever since.

My elder brother is an unknown quantity. I have tried fun presents, childish gifts, games, jokes and gadgets. Each time he thanks me and places it in a pile that I know will go right to the back of a drawer. Well, apart from the year that he commented that I had not even got him a present. I replied that I had in fact bought him a ‘Bop it‘ game to which he responded “Oh yes, that was my best present that year”. And he meant it. The lesson here being that he actually takes no notice of anything I get him anyway!

As for the in-laws! The parent-in-laws say every year not to waste our money, but Mr G feels he should get some token present and ends up spending more in a rush than I would have given time to think it over. My sister-in-law loves presents, but only ones she has chosen.

Which raises another point. The gift list. I have annual discussions with friends who agree that we don’t like being given a list of things to buy for each person. Where is the thought in that? When my brother produces an email detailing which CD’s he would like and who should buy them, how is that personal? On the other hand, if I deviate from the list I know my money will have been spent on a little bit more drawer filler.

And then there is the etiquette of friends. Last year Kid 1 was bought a present by a school friend, so we should get one back. But if we don’t see them over the festive period, should we bother? The neighbours have invited us for drinks, do we have to take presents for their kids, or just wine for them? I know my mother’s elderly friend gives her something for my kids, do I have to buy for her grandchildren? I have already agreed with some close friends that ‘I won’t buy for yours if you don’t buy for mine’ in the spirit of mutual money saving!

So I wonder, with all this stress – are Christmas presents really for family children only? Should we adults agree that actually we don’t need gifts from each other. When completing the shopping list becomes more of a of a chore than a pleasure, maybe it is time to stop spending.

 


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Bucket List Update – November 2012

In September I made a bucket list of resolutions. This is just a brief look back to see what I have achieved so far.

 

The dreaded diet – well, it’s ongoing. I am back on the Cambridge Diet and I am past the nasty 3 day mark. Even though the weight is not yet dropping off I already feel healthier and fitter. I read an interesting blog earlier which implied that a ketosis based diet was good for the brain as the energy the body was producing passed from blood stream to brain easier that energy produced from carbohydrates and sugars. (I have probably confused the science of it) I don’t know if tis is true or accurate but certainly I am more aware, more awake, on this diet.

If anyone knows whether this is scientifically correct, I would be interested to know more?

 

In addition, it is now 61 days since my last cigarette. Not a huge number, but I am pleased.

 

I am writing more and more and contributing to my blog. Whether it goes well or not is probably down to you, the reader, to decide. But I am writing and that was the aim.

 

Just a few more things to work on then before it’s time to think about New Year resolutions. If I choose to make any, that is.