Talk About Cheesecake

Musings, meanderings and meditation for my mind.


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Fear of the Internet

When Sackgirl started school I thought I would be an involved mum and try to be part of the school community! So I went along to a few PTFA meetings. In a dingy local pub one night I was introduced to five women, four of whom were parents at the school and one stern elderly lady who was head of the WI and clearly also ran the whole village.

These ladies were doing a great job of keeping the school full of events and cake stalls. But talk about a clique. This group had been together for a few years and they were not keen on new ideas!  They bemoaned the fact no other parents would help and then dismissed every suggestion I came up with. Especially when I mentioned that their communication was abysmal (tact was leaving the room by then, I was pretty frustrated) and suggested some sort of webpage or facebook group.

You would think I had walked into the local church, stood on the altar and announced we were going to be inviting in the devil. Shock, horror, distaste and a fair few sneers got thrown my way. ‘We don’t need that sort of thing,’ I was told. I gave up.

Roll on 3 years, those ladies all quit en mass for whatever reason and the PTFA was left empty, abandoned. The Christmas Fayre was in jeopardy. It was a crisis. And because I just cannot stop sticking my nose in where I really should back away quietly until I can flee round the nearest corner, because when I see a problem I want to fix it, because I really don’t have enough to do with a full time home working business and two kids – I volunteered.

Three of us did, in fact. You have to have three. A Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer. I actually took on  Treasurer, because some small shred of sanity did kick in and say ‘You do not have time to be in school every week arranging cake sales and making pancakes with the kids.’

Unfortunately, it was only us three. Other parents, either used to not being wanted by the previous clique or because they just couldn’t be arsed, just didn’t seem interested. So this time I just went ahead without asking. I set up a Facebook group and page for our school PTFA. Then I went to see the Headmistress to explain to her why I thought it was a great idea for communication and to get the other parents involved.

I met more resistance. ‘The parents will slag off the school and complain about us.’ ‘It’s very open to abuse.’ ‘It’s not secure.’ ‘Facebook – I’m not sure.’

Fear!

Fear of the internet, because we all know that it can be used ‘the wrong way’. It’s true that there are some sick, perverted people out there who prey on our children using the internet.

It’s true there have been incidences where kids have bullied each other online, in some cases so extremely that children have ended up emotionally harmed or hurting themselves physically.

There have been incidences, locally, where parents have slated and bullied each other and teachers online, causing emotional harm and distress to other adults. Teachers have resigned, lost their jobs, lost their sense of worth and joy in a career that made them want to work with our children in the first place. That is beyond sad. I wonder sometimes how we humans became so hateful to each other that we want to destroy each others happiness.

All of these issues were cited by the Headmistress as reasons why we should not use the internet for communication. They can be valid points. But I think this is also fear talking. Not fully understanding the tool we are using and so not putting in the safety measures that keep us safe.

To me the internet is a tool. It can be used for great good as well. Charities and fundraisers have found they can spread the word of what they are doing much faster and to a wider audience through use of the internet. Communication is visual, a picture speaks a thousand words.

The internet can be used for education. It has enabled thousands of people who were housebound or friendless to find friends, to leave their homes and meet people, albeit virtually. The internet has changed our lives in so many ways, some bad, for sure. But there can be so many benefits from it as well, we just have to use it in the right way.

As it is, I explained the safety measures we would be using – a secure group, invite only, moderators, guidelines for use, no children – she settled down. The main point I made was that our parents could not be bothered to get involved and come along to meetings, but the majority of them do use Facebook. Putting our information on there delivers it directly to their eyeballs (provided we can get them to sign up) and maybe a few more will decided to offer up ideas and join in. Because frankly, if they didn’t, our PTFA was dead on the water.

Which means no more funds for the school.

Silly me – always mention the money first! After that, she caved much faster.

The fear of the internet remains though. I succumbed myself just recently, suddenly wondering whether it was safe to be putting pictures of my kids on my blog. It’s a sad thing that this wonderful tool can be used so badly some dregs of humanity that it makes us fear to use it at all.

But as it is here to stay, I think it is a vital part of everyone’s education now – how to use the internet safely should be a mandatory lesson in schools and one given to all parents. What do you think?


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Starting the day with a smile

Who ever coined the phrase ‘the terrible two’s’ was wrong. It’s not the two’s that’s bad, ‘ it’s the ‘tantrumming threes’ that wear you down.

Talk about a level seven meltdown, Botboy can screech with the best of them. My morning starts something like this most days –

I’m on a beach, enjoying the sunshine. There is no noise. A waiter comes over, bringing some multi-coloured, umbrella and  confetti emblazoned coconut filled with a delicious, soothing, chilled beverage. A large dark cloud stabs me in the eye and a shooting white light pierces through the cloud into my brain. . .

Botboy pulls back my other eyelid, leans in front of the morning light aimed directly into my unprepared eyeballs and grins. ‘Playstachun’.

‘G’way. Bedtime. Sleeping,’ I grumble.

‘Playstachun, mummy.’

‘NO’ – be warned, this fantasy that we mum’s wake up bright and early and ready to play is a lie perpetuated by tampon adverts.

‘Playstachun, mummy. I want it.’ An edge of demand enters the tone.

‘What time is it? It’s 6 o’clock! NO. No playstation, go back to bed.’

‘S’morning mummy. I want the Playstachun. I want it. Now.’ Decibels are rising, there is a definite screech in the voice.

‘Get in bed with mummy and go to sleep.’ This is my attempt at distraction. Admittedly it is not that enticing or effective when you are a wide awake 3 year old who has scented desperation in the air and is now building to a crescendo, but hey, I am still three quarters asleep and grasping vainly for my cocktail.

Cue explosion. I put my head under the pillows and let the melt down carry on for a while. Sometimes if you ignore them, they go away. Sometimes they don’t.

This particular morning there is a short outlet of noise, followed by silence. I feel a small body climbing over me. Something hard hits me in the head, much like the corner of an iPad. Then there is silence again.

I relax.

The persistent, repetitive ‘bing, bing, bing’ of Sonic the Hedgehog, with music, drums into my eardrum. Over and over and over and over and . . .

You get the picture.

‘Turn the music off’.

‘No. NO, no, no, no, no. Muuuummmmmmyyyyy.’ A long involved whining wail ensues, while I wrench the iPad from his hands and flip it to silent.

This is just the first 15 minutes of my day. We then have the ‘refusal avec screech’ over getting dressed, wearing red instead of blue pants, wearing Mickey over Superman T-shirts. Cleaning the teeth is accomplished by mixing cajoling with threats.

To wash Botboy’s face, I surreptitiously warm up the flannel, sneak up behind him and smother his face while fending off waving arms. Getting him to eat his breakfast requires negotiation over which bowl, spoon and cereal to use.

I am sure this makes me sound like a horrendous mother. I don’t remember Sackgirl being this difficult. I know she used to have tantrums, but Sackgirl was much more organised about them. She would pick her time and place with care – middle of the supermarket aisle, the doorway of a busy shopping centre, the bathroom door while I was trapped on the toilet – and let loose with gusto. If I walked away she would stop, follow me until she had my attention and then resume. It was calculated, which meant she could be reasoned with.

Botboy appears to completely lose emotional control. He is stubborn and determined. There is no reasoning with him. Distractions rarely work. Sometimes the only thing to do is leave him to it. Sometimes I join in, screeching back an stamping my feet in time with his – the noise and release is quite enjoyable and it might surprise him into silence.

This temper began when he was three. We passed the two’s with pretty much no hassle. It seems that as his speech and understanding developed, so did his temper. I wonder whether this is inherited (his grandfather can be a right grumpy bugger!) or the difference between girls and boys.

I hope he grows out of it soon!

 

 

 

 


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Why I can’t be Prime Minister

As any mum of school age girls knows, planning a party is a nightmare. The politics are horrendous. Worse still, when your child goes to a smaller village school.

Back in pre-school I only knew 3 of the mums. I only knew 3 of the kids. My sweet little toddler could barely vocalise the concept of friend. We sat in the garden with some party games and happy music, job done.

Even the first few school years were relatively straightforward. A party still involved games, a large open space and invites went to the whole class. With a class of 15, even I could cope with that.

But this year, oh my goodness. At seven years, MM1 decided she was far too old for babyish party games. She posited a disco, I countered with a party at home. She suggested the cinema, I reduced the headcount. We agreed on a sleepover, limited to 3 friends.

MM1 named 3 school friends she wanted to invite. For her, the matter ended there. That’s where my job began.

First of all, I had to explain to my friends why their kids weren’t invited. This included the neighbour who took MM1 swimming for her daughter’s party a month ago, another friend who’s child called MM1 her BFF and had her at her birthday sleepover just 1 week before.  Awkward, but manageable.

But then I had to face the parents at the school gate. As every parent knows, facing down the posse who run the gate crew can be a daunting task. There is always one group of tutting, clucking women who seem to dominate the playground. Of course, it had to be the daughter of Head Cackler that MM1 decided not to invite.

She had valid reasons and to be fair I completely agreed. Putting 4 young girls in a room together could be a recipe for tears and bitching, unless the dynamics work well. This particular child is like adding the extra hot peri peri sauce to the korma – a sure fire way to kick off an unplanned explosion. MM1 may only be seven, but she knows which of her friends are fun in groups and which are best kept to a one on one.

Explaining to Head Cackler why you don’t want their precious little darling to come rampaging through your home like a wrecking ball unleashed from it’s chain though, that’s another matter. I admit, I took a tactical approach. I handled the delicate situation with caution in a planned and strategic manoeuvre.

I avoided her.

For 2 weeks.

It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, and I am left feeling vaguely guilty for wanting my own precious little girl to have a happy, fight free birthday.

So, I am afraid I have reached the conclusion that I just can’t be Prime Minister. I realise this will be a shock to those of you who though I was in the running. It was on my ‘To Do’ list for next week – shopping, clean the toilet, change the bedding, become Prime Minister – but I don’t think I am cut out for facing down the leaders of other countries and explaining to them why I didn’t think their constituents were well-behaved enough to come and play nicely with mine.


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Where has that green coat gone?

I feel like I have been MIA recently, not having blogged as much as I would like. But MIA is a bit of a misnomer, because there has been a lot of action happening, just not here in my blog world.

A few weeks ago I took in some work for a new client. It was meant to be a temporary thing while they were snowed under, but their back log seems to be growing, which means the paper tsunami just keeps on flooding my way.

All this is great of course. Work = money. However work also takes time. In the last five weeks I have not been the gym, ironed any clothes or done any coursework.

The benefit of all this concentrated working is that suddenly I am having to develop someorganisational skills. If I don’t vacuum daily we would be knee deep in a new dog hair carpet. Not to mention, if I ignore the kitchen for more than 12 hours the dog and children start fighting over who gets to eat out of the last clean bowl. (Not Mr G, he knows as well as I do that eating straight from the saucepan is much more efficient! Pre-children we had a lot of experience in that.)

I also have to fit in the essentials like dog walks and school runs. This morning was a great example of my new found efficiency. I got up and dressed the kids whilst simultaneously sorting the washing into piles, vacuumed whilst feeding them breakfast and cleaned the kitchen whilst checking emails. Of course, now I have milk on my iPad, I may have emailed a query about this weeks school fair to my client and when I pick up the washing pile there will be a patch of hairy carpet where I went around it with the hoover, but at a glance the place looks under control.

Then I dropped MM1 at school, MM2 at the grandparents, went for a dose of torture (electrolysis – a whole other post), got home, power walked the usual hour long dog walk in 28 minutes, collected MM2, got home again, did the banking and . . .

However, in the last 5 weeks one thought does keep occurring . . . MM1 had a lovely and not too cheap green school coat. She definitely wore it on the last day of the Easter term. I’m fairly sure she would have come home in it, but we have not seen it since.

Every morning this week, since term started, I have thought about that green coat. I have added it to the list of ‘things I should find when I have 5 minutes’.  It must be in the house somewhere, which means if I get time to clean up properly I should find it, right?

What worries me now is, while that green coat is festering away somewhere, squashed sandwiches in one pocket and melted easter eggs solidifying in the other, when I eventually do come across it, what else I might find!


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To make up or not to make up?

Where has the time gone? My MM1 is seven years old in under two weeks.

Seven!

While I have been considering what to get her for her birthday, she has been to a friends house and played make up. Of course, now she wants her own. Hence the dilemma I have now.

Ever since my little girl was born I had tried to stop her growing up too fast – not so easy these days.  I decided early on not to let her have make up until she was a teenager – ditto with ear piercing, although luckily we don’t face that one yet.

There’s a few reasons for this – make up is bad for young girls skin, for one. I just don’t want her being a tween yet, for another.

However, I have found that yet again, some of the opinions and ideas I had of how I would be a parent are changing as my kids grow – after all, this is my first time as a parent of a 7 year old. I’m working it out as I go along.

And as a friend pointed out, making themselves look like Coco the Clown is all part of being a little girl.

So, I’m off to get some bright sparkly eye-shadow, lip gloss and body sparkle from Claire’s Accessories next week. Nothing major, expensive or too grown up.

We will have some rules too. No slapping it on your brother, for one. No leaving the house in it, for another.

Luckily though, she has also asked for a Moshi Monster cake, so I know she isn’t too grown up just yet.

 

What do you think? Do your little girls have make up, or do they have to wait until they are older?

 

Don’t forget, I’m on the move. Soon I will stop posting on here, so please do come check out the new home at www.talkaboutcheesecake.com – currently undergoing a make over and all suggestions welcome. 


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Project Optimism: It’s never too late

On Saturday night Mr G and I went for a rare, child free night out. We had a good evening with some friends,  I test drove a new flavour cocktail (can’t remember what it was and hopefully won’t be trying it again) and enjoyed some time examining the fashion of the youth of today. Call me old (really, don’t; it makes me very grumpy) but if I can see your piercing, your shorts are too tight!

The most chocolatey day of the year dawned. Rather earlier than intended for me in fact, since recently my hangovers seem to coincide with an amazing amount of stomach acid which wakes me up bright and painfully.

As I wandered bleary-eyed around the bathroom looking for some stomach settlers, there was a sudden bolt of light in my brain. Wincing, I shut the curtain again. And that’s when it hit me. Today was Easter Sunday. That fabulous day when the magical bunny breaks into our homes, presumably with the skill of a cat burglar, and deposits chocolatey goodness on the kids beds.

The kids beds.

Chocolatey goodness.

Easter Sunday.

Bugger. Panic.

I stumbled into the bedroom and rooted frantically through the cupboard until I found the kids eggs. Then I snuck into their room and in a synchronised movement performed with the skill and finesse of a martial arts expert, I launched an egg into position at the foot of MM1’s bed while diving below eye level to place one beside MM2’s bed – just as he opened his eyes.

Thus did I once again perform my duties are a mother and maintain the illusion of magic for the children.

And then, with all the love and care that a mother holds clear in my tone I growled, ‘Go back to sleep, it’s early,’ and took my hangover back to bed.

You see, as long as you try, it’s never too late!

This post was written for Project Optimism. Click on the elephant or take a look at my previous posts for more information. You too can join in – because it’s never too late. 

 

Don’t forget, I’m moving to a new home at www.talkaboutcheesecake.com. I hope you will come join me. 

 

Check out these related posts –

Project Optimism (AKA Project Overly Optimistic)

Attempting a brain makeover

 

 


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Daily Prompt – I do believe in fairies, I do, I do.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.

What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)

I seem to have had a day of writing today – which is great. Well, from the writing side, not so much from the work side. Anyway, then I saw today’s Daily Prompt on Impossibility and I had to have a go.

So – six impossible things I believe in.

1. Dragons.

I love dragons. I totally believe in dragons. I believe that they existed once – else why would they appear in various guises in so many cultures and mythologies across the world. I remember arguing with my older brothers as a child while they mocked me for saying dragons did exist. “How come no one has ever seen one then?” they would say. “How do you know they haven’t, just because you haven’t” I would counter. OK – not the most sophisticated argument. I was very young.

2. Magic

I did read somewhere that scientifically dragons could not exist or fly as their body weight was just too much for their wings to support. Hello! Magic. Dragons are magical beings, they clearly use their magic to fly. And to hide from humanity. Which explains why we don’t see them about.

Cultures throughout the world refer to mystical powers. Well, why not? Five hundred years ago or so we thought the world was flat, but now we think we know it all?

3. Fairies

Do you remember the scene from Peter Pan when Tinkerbell appears to be dead? Peter Pan starts to chant “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do.” The Lost Boys join in and Tinkerbell recovers. OK, I know it’s a movie, but I do love that particular bit for the force of the belief it portrays.

So – I do believe in fairies. Not so much the twinkly little things living at the bottom of the garden. But fairies, elves, sprites, gremlins – the fae. Well why not? How arrogant are we to believe that humans are all that exist in this world? Existed, at least. Whether they are still about, whether they have survived in hiding or have melded with the hunan race, who knows? But again, myth must have some basis in truth.

4. Ok, running out of ideas here, so let’s see . . . the more mundane perhaps

This diet will work.

Yes – this time, I will get the weight off (I can do it, I have done before). This time though, I will keep it off.

5. I will finish my coursework and get a job as a writer somehow.

6. My kids will get ready for school this morning without moaning!

 

Nah – that last one is far too impossible, it can’t be done.


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Mummy flu.

Wake up, head pounding. Sinuses are throbbing. Breathing is hard.

Forcing my body out of bed, into motion. Trousers on, t-shirt pulled over aching head. Tramp downstairs to let dog outside. Wellies on, trudging through the mud, hunched up against the driving rain.

Chickens jump squawking from their house. Fill pellet holder, check their water, trudge back to the house, dog jumping up my leg, sloughing muddy paws across trousers.

Mini Monster 2 comes downstairs, shouting as he comes. ‘Milk mummy. Want breakfast. Milk. Milk. Milk.’

Place bowl on table filled with cheerios and milk. More milk in a cup with a straw. MM2 starts to eat, dripping milk and wheat circles across the table and his knees on the journey to his mouth.

Mini Monster 1 wanders in quietly. ‘I’m hungry’.

Weetabix in a bowl with milk, splash of sugar. Drag chair closer to table, MM1 eats.

The cat miaows.

Squeeze lumps of sticky, drippy meat product from a sachet. Shuffle through to the hall, place plastic bowl on the floor, stroke cat from head to tip of tail.

Respond to demand to provide MM1 with yoghurt.

Flick kettle on.

Pour water onto lemsip. Sit down, relax backwards. Acknowledge drumming in head and stuffed ache running across my face.

MM2 requests a yoghurt. With emphasis on requests.

The dog whines.

Mr G enters the kitchen.

Time passes in a dozy haze. Sausage and egg, dosed in ketchup, held between bread. Placed in my lap.

Scoop dry, coloured shapes into the dog’s bowl.

The clock ticks. MM2 slides through the doorway. ‘Want food. Want biscuits. Want food mummy.’

Back to the kitchen, shoulders heavy, head down. Bread, cheese, cucumber, no butter. MM1. Bread, butter, no filling. MM2. Salt and vinegar crisps. MM1. Quavers. MM2. Fizzy water. MM1. Tap water. MM2.

More lemsip.

Remove the plastic cat bowl from the dog’s bed before she crunches through the plastic completely.

Waiting for 6pm.

Cottage pie and green peas. Cake and milk for the children.

No more meals to provide. Mummy chores complete. Bed calls.

The cat miaows.


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A Proud Moment – an Extra Special Post

This is an extra special post, so I wanted it to be about something extra special in my life. Of course, there is nothing more special than my beautiful, wonderful, funny and cheeky Mini Monsters, so let’s make today about them!

I’m doing this backwards, but let’s start with Mini Monster 2.

My wee man is 3 years old. He is a funny little chap, he loves to make people laugh so that he can join in with a great big belly chuckle. MM2 takes after his dad, he likes to do things properly and he won’t take instruction. Instead he watches everyone around him until he is sure he knows what to do – and then he goes for it.

For example – take learning to crawl. Mini Monster 1 did the whole pushing herself along the floor on her tummy – usually backwards – until she was wedged under the sofa. Then she learnt to get on to her hands and knees and rock for a while before splatting face first into the carpet. When it came to walking she spent time surfing around the sofa before taking her first tentative 3 steps – and splatting turtle style.

Not so for MM2. He sat and watched everyone run around him for ages. Not even a hint of rocking. One hot sunny afternoon in the summer he sat and studied MM1 and her cousins sprinting about the garden and splashing in the pool. All day. We went indoors in the evening, sat him on the floor and when we came back he was crawling off up the stairs. Yes, from sit to climb in one afternoon. When he was ready to walk – he did. He got up one day while we were watching TV and walked from one end of the room to the other.

Of course, I don’t have a super baby. I’m not totally mental. There were a few splats. But generally he likes to study the problem and then get it right the first time.

So – on to my proud mummy boast for MM2. This month we have tackled potty training. I did try about 6 months ago but clearly he had not spent enough time studying the process then. This time round, he got it pretty darn quickly. Yay to a nappy free house!

Now on to Mini Monster 1. My delicious 6 year old girl is pretty darn funny. She loves to make jokes and is a cheeky little girly – no flies on her when it comes to remembering something you told her so that she can use it against you. Who knew they actually listened to you, right?

MM1 shares some of my more admirable qualities. No patience, the ability to completely ignore you while staring you in the face (she just discovered daydreaming is a great excuse for everything), complete stubbornness (oh, hang on, they both have that) and being able to find something funny in just about every situation (believe me, sometimes this is just so inappropriate!)

We have been working together on her maths recently – as you may recall this is a stressful time for us both. Still, it looks like it has paid off, because she has moved up a group in class and is working on the harder problems. Proud mummy boast – I have spawned a genius. Clearly she gets that from me too!

OK – maybe not.

Still, I have 2 pretty wonderful monsters to cuddle and I am grateful for that!

Which reminds me – the extra special bit.

This is my 100th post – I am amazed that I have got this far and written so much, after my 1st little post. More amazed that some of you stop by regularly to have a read – so thank you very much for taking time not only to read but also to comment.

What’s made your month special? Share it with me, we can grin insufferably together.


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To clean or not to clean

I’m stuck in a dilemma at the moment. As a WFHM, trying to fit in puppy training, spending time with the kids, studying a home learning course,  . . . I just can’t cope with it all right now.

Mr G and I have discussed getting a cleaner to help me – just a few hours a week to tackle the growling troll living under the ironing and the gremlins that scatter toys and clothes across the house whenever my back is turned.

So why is it I feel so guilty at the idea of having a cleaner come in to help me out? Why do I feel as if I should be able to do everything. After all, I know that I can’t – I even said so not so long ago.

I don’t expect my home to look like a show house. I accept that some days the kids will be fed frozen food and not fresh, home baked meals every night. I don’t worry about polishing school shoes daily or making crafty decorations out of toilet rolls and dry pasta (I wouldn’t even know where to start with that one!).

I don’t buy into the theory that a perfect mum bakes and sews and spends 4 hours every day on home education. There are many different things that make a great parent.

Having said that, for some reason the idea of getting a cleaner, even for a few hours, makes me feel as though I am somehow failing. After all, I am working from home. I am physically in the house. Surely then I should be able to keep it clean and tidy, even as I work an 8 hour day, cook the dinner, do the shopping, school runs and homework?

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When I went out to work all day, the mess could just wait until the weekend. It’s only now I am home that it grates. It’s the proximity to the chaos that seems to be wearing me down.

Am I indoctrinated into feeling like I must be the perfect wife, mother, housekeeper . . .  ? Actually, I don’t believe in the stereotype of a women’s role. Mr G helps around the house but I am here the most so have, in theory, more time to do it.

 

In the ‘good old days’ when a woman was more likely to run the house and the man be the only breadwinner, then maintaining a perfect house was expected. It seems a fair share of the work involved in keeping a family moving –  being the mother, housekeeper, taxi service for the children and cook is a full time job.

It makes sense then, as more women work – and have to work as the cost of living increases – that the housework will suffer. Something has to slacken off and we can’t very well stop looking after the children or feeding everyone, now can we?

Despite the logic showing that something has to give, why is it then that I still feel the need to manage without help?

Cost aside – that’s a separate discussion – do you have a cleaner – or would you have one? Do you think that in this day and age we should be able to manage running the home and working full time?