31 December 2009

A Very Happy New Year!! Or,to my Welsh cousins...Mae Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!!

New Year Countdown - New Year Layouts

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
Albert Einstein

A very Happy New Year to you all...
...See you in 2010...

30 December 2009

When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade...That SUCKS!!!

Yes, I am officially missing my funny bone (or any funny place to be fair) at present.

So, OK, here I was, blissfully enjoying my *sabbatical* from work, after 28 years of hard graft, through marriage, 5 pregnancies, births, 3 months off with each baby, divorce (OK, just the usual stuff all of us mums go through in life)...

Then this year, a lovely, very large lump (oh, the irony of that word!!) sum of early severance which paid off ALL our combined debts (yes, really, nothing, nada, nil) with leftover for me to peruse the job front at a very (read ::very::) leisurely pace.

Then wouldn't you just know it (actually I should have really, shouldn't I?....Duh)....

.....Life goes and serves us a nice BIG, FAT, JUICY lemon!

No, nothing much has really changed from yesterdays post, apart from a rather bizarre meeting today with the lovely, and very esteemed consultant, Prof. M. Thomas at The Royal Marsden Hospital. Bizarre, as at some points I couldn't really tell if he was talking to us or dictating into his little machine, which he kept rewinding midway through sentences to check where he was, then stopping to tell/ask us something, but sort of all at the same time.

At his request, I was pulling all OH's meds out of a carrier bag (I know, how so un-PC and so very trendy of me!..Not!) which happened to be under the very chair he was sitting on, so I was therefore crouched down, in front of him, between his knees, whilst he, still dictating, and looking down at me with bushy, wiggly eyebrows asked "how many?"..click..whiz...."Oh that's rather a lot, 2 a day you say?"..click....whiz...."Monica comma Iliac vessels, posterior, Psoas muscle stop New paragraph"...."does he need to take that many?"(YES! Fuck, he does, you try sleeping next to the person you love while he's quietly whimpering in pain in his sleep!!)...click....whiz...
As I said, rather bizarre! And I think if my funny bone could have been located this would've been the time...

Anyway, the upshot is actually more or less the same, a 7cm tumor. But what we did find out is that it's wrapped around his Iliac vessels. A biopsy was taken (definitely ouch, after all it was only a curtain between us) and the results will be ready next Thursday. But as any operation will also involve a Vascular surgeon, the best of which happens to be away till the beginning of the week after next, OH now has an appointment for the results on the 14th Jan.

So, I'm sort of hoping that the wonderful Prof. Thomas, in his infinite wisdom..click...whiz..., knows that damn recipe for 'Lemonade' because at the moment I sure as hell don't....stop

But of course, all and any recipes for 'that' Lemonade most humbly & gratefully accepted...

:::Shit!... does this post now mean I've moved on from just plain ANGER?...because I just read this back and I don't see very much anger here??!?:::What's the next stage??:::

29 December 2009

A trip I wish we really didn't have to make...S**T!!

Tomorrow OH and I will travel up to London to the Royal Marsden Hospital, for a 2.15pm appointment with a specialist, Prof. Thomas (yup...he has been googled, lots ...he's extremely good)
His previous stay in hospital turned out not to be his appendix, but a 7cm tumor called a soft tissue sarcoma. So, for obvious reasons, I wish we weren't having to make it at all.

There ::breathe out:: I've written it down now....in black & white, all very matter of fact. But believe me, until now, I have been incapable of writing that down without getting so irrationally angry, I physically couldn't write it. I'm not angry because of the time they took to find it, in the great scheme of things, it was only a couple of days of delay and they were completely right not to have operated on him at the time.

But I am just ANGRY. ANGRY. ANGRY!!
The anger hasn't abated or diluted in any way either, which in the normal run of events it does/should. But of course, to be replaced by other emotions.....therein, I do understand, lies the problem.

I know it's not healthy to hold on to so much anger, but I have to. Because I'm too scared not to.

Sorry to be such a party-pooper in this time of celebrations, and I am actually, oddly, sort of OK (well, apart from the anger!). But I just really felt the need to write this down RIGHT NOW, so I went with the flow.

Much love....and I wish you all a very Happy, Healthy New Year.. xxx

24 December 2009

Christmas cheer to one & all...and Peppermint Creams!

I hope all you lovely Bloggers and families have the most wonderful, healthy and very, very happy Christmas and New Year!

I raise a glass to you all, well, maybe not quite yet, as I still have the hoovering to do....and that would make me a tad wobbly whilst welding the Dyson Beast (it's new you know, and I'm thinking I may need to put some bloody L plates on it!)

On a slightly different subject, yesterday TD made her Christmas gifts to Family & friends. As she is a student she is always strapped for cash, so each year she hand makes her pressies. In past years she's made biscuits, this is the first year she's attempted chocolate dipped 'Peppermint Creams'. Now she just needs to wrap them in cellophane & ribbon...and voila!

Here's the recipe as they are so, so easy to make and even the littlest child can make them, its just like playing with playdough, which they can then eat....they'll love it!

Enjoy and let the festivities begin...

18 December 2009

Let it snow..Let it snow..Let it snow..and a SnowKat!

We rarely get snow here in Brighton, nothing that ever sticks anyway, so of course when it does people go all out and fully embrace their inner child....

Here are some slightly festive (festive
only 'cause it's snow) picturey type things...
....including a snowKAT!

I'm spelling it like that because my Gorgeous 18yr old son's girlfriend is called Kat....and they made it on the roof of our house. That's not
quite as dangerous as it may sound! His bedroom is in the loft, with huge loft windows.

But snow does make people do some very odd things. For instance, while it was snowing last night, said 18 yr old son & girlfriend opened the loft window, wide, and videoed themselves, whilst singing "It's snowing
in my bedroom!" which of course it was....He-he...

17 December 2009

Hysterical phone call...And a Paramore ticket!

I received a phone call late this afternoon, while doing some shopping. So, there I was juggling carrier bags, a basket, my handbag & a mobile phone, and all I could hear was an almost incomprehensible hi-pitched,
squeaky TD shrieking....



....all in one breathe....in 3 seconds flat!

S**t, she nearly gave me a bloody heart attack...I thought someone had died or something...
I had to get her to repeat it several times, before I could understand her.

And no, I'm not going to make it any easier for you,
I had to decipher it standing in the middle of a store of full on, rampant christmas shoppers, you're only reading it on a screen! She was so frantic to spurt it all out she didn't even hear me saying "Yes".... "YES"..she was so busy rambling & burbling.... "TD....YES!" I had to shout at her.....Haha.

I had tried (secretly, as a christmas pressie) to buy tickets when they first went on sale a couple of months ago, at 9am, but by 9.08am they were sold out...Woah! Popular or what?? And I refused to pay upward of £80 at any of the other places...it's a £20 ticket for gods sake!

Needless to say I now have one extremely
ecstatic (thankyoumummythankyouthankyouILOVEyou!!!) Teenage Daughter, who is, as I type, queuing in the freezing cold at the Brighton Centre, with her £25 ticket, to see her Idols, Paramore, featuring the lovely 'Hayley Williams' ....

And I know TD will have just the hugest
grin on her face...

Here is a video of Paramore's BBC Radio One Live Lounge performance of their single, just in case you have absolutely no idea who they are, although if you have teens you must, surely?
If you like it, be sure to listen to their acoustic version of Kings of Leon's 'Use somebody'
I think it's a beautiful version of a great song.


(:::Psst!..Sshhh....Just don't tell TD that her Oldest Gorgeous Brother is on the Guest list, VIP....So I think the s**t may hit the fan when they return. Uh-oh....take cover:::)

14 December 2009

Just a photo..Beautiful TD 'I am safe'..

Sorry, but there is just too much crap in my head at the moment to write a long post, or one that would make much sense and isn't just ugly anger and sadness....Not very Christmassy at all....

So instead I thought I would give you my beautiful TD's photo (with her permission).

This is her, a self portrait, holding a badge with the words 'I am safe'....

I love it...

I'll post again soon, when I have the heart to.....

7 December 2009

OK... NOW I'm really P***ed off!

:::WARNING::: Very slight icky medical subject, so if you are of a sensitive nature...
Who the hell am I kidding!...we're all mums, and know all sorts of stuff about peoples insides...WARNING OVER....

My lovely OH is currently in hospital, with an abscess on his appendix (yes this does exist, I'd never heard of it before, but I googled it, and it's there, so therefore it MUST be true!) He's been in constant pain, on his right side/hip, for the last 5-6 weeks (yeah! I know! how long???) has been medicating himself every 4 hours and still going to work! (Ostritch??...hmmpf) After seeing our GP 3 weeks ago, who ordered x-rays and blood tests, he went back for the results the friday before last. He was told all the tests had came back fine, no problems that she could see. Then she suggested an Ultrasound scan of his abdomen, and whipped off a letter of referral, which should take 1-2 weeks to come though..Mmm.. Have since found out, said letter then tells you to phone the number on the letter to
make an appointment...WTF! She did suggest, that if the pain got too bad, to take himself to A & E and he would probably get the scan done there and then.

And I'm sorry, but this is where I'm about to sound very sexist....What is it with some men and health issues? Had it been me, or probably any other woman I know, I would have gone to A & E as soon as I'd got out of the GP's surgery. She more or less, reading between the lines, told him to. As I had gone to the doctors with him, I said this to him. Did he go? Did he limp down there? What do you think?? NO....He waited until the following Wednesday afternoon, where, thankfully, they admitted him to a surgical ward.
By thursday morning he had been given another x-ray and 'the' Ultrasound scan. They also ordered a CT scan for the same thursday afternoon, but then cancelled it as they felt they had enough information already.

IV antibiotics, with a Laparoscopy on Monday (today) to have a look in there, as apparently the main concern appears to be what else the abscess may be attached to. The bowel being the tricky one. But, if they could, they would remove the appendix & abscess while doing the Laparoscopy.

I got a phone call this morning, at 08.45, from my OH saying "I'm booked into theatre for 9.00" then we lost the connection. He called back at 9.15 to say "It's cancelled!"

My thoughts were, oh well, emergencies happen they have to deal with those first, thats life.

Except....the reason given? "We need a bit more information, so are going to give you a CT scan this afternoon"...Gggrr!

What!?? You mean the one they cancelled on Thursday, as they said they had enough info then?

The operation today was cancelled only because they cancelled the CT scan on Thursday....GGRRRRRrrrrr!!?!

So, YES, I am really f****ing pissed off at the moment....I hate incompetence.

Okay, me: Breathe out....rant over.

4 December 2009

Thank you!....Over the top award

I've been given this 'Over the Top' award from the very lovely Chic Mama Go check out her blog, its honesty & humour will have you both shouting in outrage & laughing out loud.

I have to answer 20 questions about myself then pass it on, so here goes:

1) Your Hair

Long, dark brown, very curly...very unruly!

2)Your favourite food
All things Italian.

3)Your dream from last night
I didn't have one that I can remember.

4)Your favourite drink
Tea..Tea then more Tea..

5)What room are you in?
Living/dining room.

6)What is your hobby?
Art, in all sorts of forms.

7)What is your fear?

8)Where do you want to be in six years time?

9)Where were you last night?
At home.

10) Muffins?

11) Last thing you did
Visited OH in hospital and drank Tea with him.

12) What are you wearing?
Black leggings, vest top, black cardigan & black suede boots.

13) Your TV in your house?
At the moment its been 'hijacked' by the Teenagers playing x-box games.

14) Vehicle
Toyota Previa...BIG & old.

15) Your favourite store?

16) Your favourite colour?
Black for clothes, white for decor.

17) When was the last time you laughed?
Yesterday afternoon, at OH's sexy DVT socks!!

18) When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday morning....Tears of relief/stress.

19) Your best friend
One I have known since I was 16 years old.

20) Favourite place to eat
A tiny pub in the middle of Brighton called 'The Hop Poles', perfect lunches! Evenings 'Alfrescos' on the seafront. (sorry that's 2)

I now have to pass it on to other deserving blogs, but there's so many to choose from! So I'm going to pass it on to a few that I always enjoy.

Gigi's Ramblings as I think we are on the same wavelength!

Family Affairs for her interesting 'Advent Calendar' solution here

Expat Mum for her contribution on her other blog Ponds Parleys about Thanksgiving & a certain Green bean casserole, and the 'over the top' storm it created, which had me howling with laughter!

Many thanks and over to you now girls......

1 December 2009

Christmas presents, Teenagers & Surreal shopping...

This year I am well and truly stumped on the Christmas present front.

The only, and I do honestly mean THE only, things they've asked for are "A cable for my guitar that plugs straight into my laptop" from my 18 yr old son. Done.

"Twilight, the books" from TD (but I have a feeling her Daddy has sorted that one. I would say 'stolen' but then I did mention it to him. I really must check) and "More RAM for my computer" from my 19 yr old.

My 22 yr old has absolutely no ideas for gifts, but is very clear on what he doesn't want. NO clothes, DVDs or Music. He says "There's nothing I really want" ::help::

Eeekk!....So what on earth am I supposed to buy them for Christmas??

So, I thought I'd try the wandering around, looking for inspiration, type Christmas shopping today. Early. I am notoriously renowned for not leaving the house until the afternoon, unless forcibly ejected, I am lazy, lazy, lazy...I am not a morning person!

But as I had already promised TD a lift to college this morning, for a day trip to The National Portrait Gallery in London with her photography class, I would already be out & about.

By 8.20 I was sitting in a completely deserted multi-storey car park, which held just the one car, mine, and 3 car wash guys, twiddling their thumbs, as, er....there were no cars to wash.

Obviously a tad early then!

Not a problem, a pot of tea & a bacon butty in BHS's cafe occupied me till 9am..yummy! It is quite surreal being in a shopping centre when it's virtually empty, a bit dreamlike. Me & about 6 other people....

I did buy a few things, but seriously, this is the first year ever, that I haven't had a list of things to be ticked off as I shove my way round the stores. No 'must have' items that need reserving, or driving some ridiculous distance to get the last one in stock... It felt very, very odd.

Maybe it's the end of an era for me....so I'm feeling a little sad...ish

It is also the first time I didn't have to 'shove' my way around the stores.
Maybe there's something to be said for this 'early' shopping lark, it was quite pleasant.

But luckily, some things don't change......They may be all 'grown up' now....

.....but they still asked for the family Advent Calendar....YAY! .... Not so sad now...

29 November 2009

The end is nigh.....Goodbye to dye under my nails!

TD has finished her Art textiles 'Final Piece'.....Yippee...YAY!


Finally it's done. For TD no more stitching, sewing and dyeing. And in my case no more nagging, cajoling, persuading or whatever else you want to call it when us mums end up trying to get Teens to do what they 'really, really' REALLY' don't want to!

'Flotsam & Jetsam'

So, for now, the sewing machine can leave the kitchen table.....

Until next term, and we get to have this fun (!) all over again....

I'm going for a little lie down, to conserve my energy you understand.

26 November 2009

X-box game playing ..Or is it Maths?

TD came home from college today, extremely chuffed.

During her Maths GCSE class today, TDs tutor had them test their reaction speed, using a traffic light system of click the button when the light goes green. The students then had to record these times, and work out averages.

TD's class must have thought they'd hit the jackpot, because their homework for the next week is to play x-box games (Yes! You read that right), take the test again next week, to see if there are any changes in their reaction times, work out averages again and compare before & after using percentages/mean/median so on....

The tutor has also done the same test with another class. But requested no game playing (Like that's going to happen!) The two classes will then compare their results, work out the differences between both, using the same methods as above.

Now I will admit, I admire this particular Tutors ingenuity. Anything that instills an enthusiasm for learning can only be a positive thing. Of course, in this instance, the students don't care 2 hoots about the learning, just the game playing. But it will make the process fun and more relevant for them, and therefore it's much more likely that they will learn.

But, if I were 16 again, I'd be mighty p**sed off if I was in the other class.
Can't you just hear them....
"That's Soooo NOT fair! That's Soooo NOT happening!"

Also, dammit, I've lost one of my bargaining tools.
You know the one that goes "Yes, OK, you can go on the x-box after you've done your homework". Now to be followed by "But Mum, this IS my homework".....

And I definitely won't be believing those comparison results!

19 November 2009

So how come I'M the one with dye under my nails?

After more than 2 months of college, TD seems to be, sort of, getting the hang of it. Dare I speak too soon?... and is this the point where I should start touching wood? (it is only one term in)

TD now realises she made a big mistake taking on 2 courses with huge coursework content. Unfortunately she came to this realisation a week too late to swap to any other subjects.
All other courses were full, so, she's got to stick with it. This is one of the reasons her mantra is 'I HATE college'. The other is, of course, it means she has to 'GET OUT OF BED'...

Both her courses, Photography and Art Design:Textiles, slowly appear to be coming together, and she's due to hand in her finished pieces next Friday.

Currently she's filling/filled up one of her two A3 size sketchbooks with negatives, test strips, notations, photographers work and her own prints.

The other one, Textiles, the one she really, really, really (Have you got that yet??!) wanted to 'drop', is straining at the seams with fabrics, sketches, paintings, and artists work. It's actually so full, it doesn't come close to shutting.....

I've tried to help her, particularly with textiles, as there is probably 12+ hrs work a week (outside of classes) to keep up with. I've added loads of pics (I'm generous like that!) to give you an idea of the amount of work generated in less than 1 term.

This is, of course :sigh: an ongoing battle as 'I HATE this course!' is another favourite line, as she tries again, to
un-stitch what the sewing machine, 'This STUPID sewing machine HATES me!' somehow manages to get wrong!

Let me explain why I'm helping out. I understand TD now 'realises' she made a mistake with this course, and there is nothing she can do but plod on with it, until the end of the academic year next June. The very fact she recognises it as a mistake, and acknowledges it, is for me, a small sign of maturity. Yes I know, this is a very tenuous 'grasping at straws' logic on my part, but hey, you grasp 'em where and when you can with Teenagers!

Which is why I ended up last night, in the kitchen, supervising saucepans full of Blue & Green food dye/Ink & mutton cloth, as TD wanted a particular colour of 'Teal' fabric to use in her Final Piece.

Can I tell you something else? Just in case you're contemplating encouraging your Teens in their creative endeavours?.... THAT
particular colour of 'Teal' is a real bitch to get off your fingers & nails!

16 November 2009

The brilliance of the Blogosphere...and lovely hugs!

Whilst catching up with my reading of blogs, late (as I do) on Friday evening, I spotted a post by Maternal Tales titled Bloody Babysitter which to me didn't look like a feel good, happy post title. I couldn't believe it when I started to read about the babysitter who never having babysat for Emily before was asking to bring her boyfriend along! First time babysitting for someone? As a teenager I spent loads of Friday/Saturday nights babysitting, so I was astounded by her cheek. Did the girl really think Emily would say 'Yes of course sweetie, its fine'??

Anyway, reading the post I thought of TD, who by this point had already gone to bed but never, ever goes straight to sleep, what with msn, Facebook on her fancy phone, and often complains about lack of 'her own' money.
So I called her on her mobile (it is 4 flights of stairs...give me a break!) and, yup, I woke her up!


I quickly asked her if she would like to babysit for a friend & earn a little cash of her own. Actually not that little, £6 an hour, and it's not exactly 'hard' labour is it?

Given that she had just been woken up, she couldn't remember if she had plans or not.

'Mummy, can we talk about it in the morning?'...

With that my OH said to me 'Why don't you do it? They're only up the road'

Good idea, I was only going to be watching x-factor anyway, I can do that there.

So a quick comment on MT's blog, knowing Emily would probably already be in bed, and a quick one on FB to let her know if TD could'nt do it, I was happy to, but could I please watch x-factor?

TD had plans, of course she did.

Both OH and I were invited over to catch up and have a drink before OH had to come back home, to cook dinner for hungry teenagers and Emily & JP went to the party. Also for me to meet Renee and Edie (yes, I know, I am a bad, bad friend, it really is that long since we had last met up) before they went to bed.

One of the nicest parts of this for me, apart from the obvious, of catching up with friends and remembering how much you enjoy their company, was the following.....

At about 9pm, Edie called out, I could'nt quite decipher what she was saying as she was still sweetly, half asleep, sitting up, with her thumb firmly in her mouth. So I did what mums do, I stroked her head gently, and as she lay down I stroked her back, all the while cooing softly...'Ssshhh..ssshhh'....and up she popped....so same again...'Ssshhh..sshhh'...But this time with a wriggle...
Maybe loo time? So I lifted her from her cot, and she clamped her little arms & legs round me to carry her, still asleep.

And that sleepy hug was a lovely moment...

My babies are all grown up, and yes they still hug me, loads.
And we don't know anyone with small children anymore, all teenagers now.

Believe me, there is nothing on earth like a half sleeping toddler, trustingly allowing you to carry them, and hugging you, to make your heart smile. And to think, I'd forgotten about it and taken it for granted with my own.

So, I would like to thank Lucy the 'Bloody Babysitter' for sending Emily a 'f****ng illiterate text message' which incensed her to the point of posting about it.
Is'nt the blogosphere wonderful sometimes?

Thank you, Lucy, it was my pleasure.....

13 November 2009

Sore throats and Hamster Wheels....

I haven't posted in a while. In the last couple of weeks Teenagers have been ill, and of course, I've had it too. This stupid cold/bug is knackering, all I've wanted to do is lie down & sleep. Sore head, coughing fits, which hurt my throat. But it's getting better. At present I sound like a cross between Mariella Frostrup & a mad, manic, screeching hamster TD once had , not an attractive combination! Oh, and add the swollen glands, and I even looked like that damn Hamster.

So having a tirade at TD this morning about getting out of bed for college was probably not a wise move. For TD, being confronted from her bedroom (tip!) door by a wild haired, hamster-looking-sounding mum to 'Get out of bed ...you're supposed to be walking out the door NOW, not just getting up!' possibly didn't put her in the best mood. But after trying to get her out of her bed for 25 minutes I wasn't in the best of moods either, so yes, I lost the plot slightly, or the will to live, well, actually just my voice.

Getting her to go to college is getting harder by the day, and we're just going round and round in circles for her reasons why.

'I HATE college!!'

'What do you hate about it?'

'EVERYTHING!' My textiles tutor HATES me!

'I don't know about that, but she knows you wanted to drop the course. So maybe its hard for her to teach you, knowing you don't want to be there?'

'That doesn't give her the right to treat me like crap!'

'Yes, I agree, it doesn't'
'But maybe she's just reacting to the attitude she's getting from you?' (No kidding?!?!)

'Probably, but I don't care.....I HATE college!'

And round & round we go.....I am that manic Hamster on a wheel...

21 October 2009

Grounds for Divorce - YUK!

After an evening out in Brighton with friends, my 21 yr old Gorgeous Son arrived home at about 1am this morning. Quietly giggling & gently bouncing off walls he then sat on the sofa and proclaimed, as only rather drunk people can, 'Grounds for Divorce is the beshtestest drink ever!'. And no, it's not a spelling error, moi?...that was how it came out.

Apparently it's a cocktail that consists of a shot of vodka, sambucca, whiskey, gin, southern comfort, amaretto with a squeeze of lime & lemon. I've not checked or googled it, but I've never heard of it before. And do you think they actually missed any spirit out of that list...I personally think it sounds revolting. YUK..

Do you think the Bar/Club they went to were having a giggle? Or a clear out maybe?

And at £9 a drink, they were having the last laugh too...He had 3, yes, 3 of them!

Oh boy, I bet he had a hangover this morning.....

19 October 2009

Teenagers & Midnight Snacks - Part 2..The Scotch Egg

As a follow on to my earlier post about my 18 yr old and his 'Midnight Snack', I thought I'd post this, just to show that..Erm..well...yes, my Teenagers do also eat all nature of food, healthy & unhealthy, basically anything that isn't nailed down.

Last night, after hearing the tell-tale signs of rummaging in the kitchen, cupboards opening/closing, the rustling of packets, I ventured off the sofa to find him with a Scotch egg in hand.
After just one bite, he announced 'I always think these are a bit dry, it needs something??' He then started opening cupboard doors, obviously searching for some inspiration, while I looked on, intrigued.

'Oooh, yeah, that'll work' and produced a bottle of HP brown sauce, which he then proceeded to squeeze into the hole he'd made in the scotch egg. I kid you not, he filled it with brown sauce!?!

I'm not quite sure if this is inspired or a just little gross.....But it made me laugh!

And yes, I made him let me take a photo before he ate it, you know, just as proof of my obvious failing in the parenting department to instill the merits of 'Healthy' eating! But what the hell, he said it was 'Delicious!!'

14 October 2009

First contact sheet...And I'm a little proud & relieved!

TD came home today with a contact sheet from her Photography AS level course.

Last week, one of her Tutors took all the students down to Brighton seafront, cameras at the ready....

Very brave tutor. Imagine if you can, 20 to 30, 16 yr olds, running amok with cameras! I think I'd have been hiding in the nearest cafe with a stiff cup of tea...11am being a little too early for anything stronger..

According to TD it was a fun morning, and she managed to get her photos taken just before the skies opened up, and the rain came heaving down, sending everyone running for cover. She was so endearingly enthusiastic about the whole thing she could hardly 'talk' in a straight line when she came home.
Telling us how she had even laid down along a sea wall to try and get more interesting angles, and the fact she had managed to get a couple of shots of the 'carousel' horses & poles being moved and cleaned.

All the students developed their negatives on Monday this week, apparently amid much hysterical laughter & probably some very ripe, Teenage language, as they all fought to remove the film from the canisters inside a developing bag, and into a developing tank, in theory, blind-folded.

Today they got to play with the 'Dark Room' stuff, and print off their photos. TD says she finds it a little claustrophobic in there, with big developing trays down the centre, and enlargers/workstations down both sides. When we looked at it before her course started, I did think it looked a little like a morgue..all those stainless steel tables.....Ugh..shudder...

So, this is TD's first ever contact sheet....

And she was right, the '3 carousel horses' is a good shot. But my favourite is of the 'poles'.
I think she needs to work on the technical stuff, but then that's why she's there, that side of it will come with time and practice, but the girl has a 'good eye'.

Given the ups & downs of the last few weeks, with her wanting to drop courses, drop out of everything etc, I'm so, so happy & a little relieved that she's now enjoying her time in college.

12 October 2009

Teenagers and Midnight Snacks....

All teenagers are infamous for their ability to clear fridges & cupboards of food at 20 paces, of all the good stuff anyway! And I'm convinced, even sometimes in their sleep.

Around Midnight last night, my 18 yr old Gorgeous Son decided a little snack was in order.

Just hours after eating a 'Huge' bowl of pasta and sauce.

Now let me guess what you're thinking? 'Beans on toast', a classic, or maybe mountains of 'Toast & Peanut Butter', or the favourite 'sausage rolls or scotch eggs'* combo which of course require no preparation or heating/cooking, also no plate, you know, get in & out fast, commando style....

Oh, but as a bit of a give away, don't forget to leave the
empty packaging in the fridge....

Well, you would be wrong.....

This is what my Gorgeous Son chose as his Midnight snack......


Honestly! SALAD....

This made me smile......

Please, don't be fooled into thinking it's a cereal bowl, ooohh no, it is a large, dinner plate size bowl!

It consists of the left over penne pasta, drenched in extra virgin olive oil, a tin of tuna, shredded lettuce & sliced baby plum tomatoes, all sprinkled with oregano & black pepper. Topped with half a container of coleslaw. I know this because he proudly told me!

He works in the Music industry, but I think he may have missed his calling.....should I send him Jamies (Oliver) way??..He-he

I suppose it could be seen as the 'Healthy Option' of midnight snacking....

*Scotch Egg: For people who may have no idea of what this rather strange, old fashioned English Picnic food is - It's a hard boiled egg, surrounded in pork sausage meat, dipped in breadcrumbs, deep-fried then eaten cold.

28 September 2009

Hands off Parenting?...Or not? And a little bit of EMA

I'm having a little dilemma at the moment.

When DO you let your Teenagers take responsibility for themselves? To leave them to make decisions and choices on their own?

TD has been at college for 3 weeks now. Her timetable is varied, time wise. For 3 days she starts at 8.40am, which means she leaves the house at about 8am, and 2 of these finish at about 1pm. The other 2 she has 11.10 starts, and these finish a little later, 3.15pm.

Almost every single day so far, she's not come back home until 9-10pm. I do get phone calls or texts, telling me she's going to a friends/meeting up with friends in town etc..

OK I thought, she's 16, I realise a strong social network IS important at this age, my addled brain does allow me to remember that much!

Also, it's good she's letting me know where she is. I ask if she wants a meal here or is she eating with friends & when will she be home? Just standard questions. Nothing interfering in those. So far almost all her meals have been eaten at about 11pm in the kitchen, whilst still 'texting' the friends she has just spent 7-8 hours with!

There's been little evidence of any coursework being done, and 2 of her courses are 'very heavy' on the coursework* front. I'm sure they must have given her some by now?? Although of course, when would she have time to do any coursework, what with all the socialising??

TD also complains at the moment about how unfair it is that a lot of her friends get EMA and she doesn't, so she has 'no' money. Erm...apart from all that money we hand out on a very regular basis.

If you're not aware of what EMA is, it's a Government initiative to get school leavers to attend Further Education in the form of a bribe to keep unemployment figures down. I'm sorry if I offend anyone by saying that, it's just my personal view. I know that's not what it's supposed to be about, its about helping families with lower incomes continue with Further Education, when possibly they would not have done so, due to financial constraints. But it seems to have changed into the very reason a lot of Teenagers actually go to college.
Basically, if a household income is under £30,000 a year, the student gets up to £30 a week (means tested) to attend college, and is based on attendance. The student has to have (not sure of the exact number) 90% attendance to claim it. This is tough for families getting just over the £30,000, as the student doesn't qualify for EMA, but they still have all the expense of College life.

So, as you can imagine, my suggestion of a part-time job for TD did not go down too well. Why should she go and get a job when lots of her friends get £30 a week for going to college, when she goes for nothing! Don't you just love the logic in that.....this is the opinion of one teenager, but I think it's the feeling of many who don't receive EMA. Gee.... thanks Government, for the encouraging 'Work Ethic' message you're promoting.

On the part-time job front, TD says her 'College recommends not getting a job in the 1st year'....presumably this is to do with the amount of coursework given..Hmm (*see above).
Or, of course, stupid me, it's to allow their students to fit in 8hrs of socialising a day!

Sorry, I've digressed a little.

Back to the dilemma.

I'd hoped that over the years, I'd given TD some guidance, enough to help her make informed choices for herself. And I do understand there is a transition stage, for us mere parents, of 'letting go' and allowing Teenagers to make their own mistakes. But how far should we let them go before saying something? Because at the moment, if I say anything I get accused of 'not giving her any responsibility'.

When your children are small, you wouldn't dream of letting them walk out in front of a car. You teach them about road safety, and watch them to make sure they've learnt. And you jump in bloody quick if they haven't. Eventually they learn, I know.

So for now I'm trying a little hands off parenting.

Trying not to put my twopence worth in. I did the 'its about balance, a bit of socializing, a bit of college work, maybe a part time job...balance' talk....that went down as well as you might expect!.....I seem to remember the words 'always telling me what to do and how to do it' were in there somewhere...

TD is not walking out in front of cars, not literally anyway, she's not a toddler. So I am trying to stand back, hands off, well to be honest, it's more like holding them clamped over my mouth, while she makes her own mistakes, and hopefully learns from them. But it is very hard.

This is definitely one of those times when you question your parenting skills.
Am I doing this right?...Wrong?

Who knows? Only time will tell...

18 September 2009

Woo-hoo! I got sent my 1st award...

I'M SO HAPPY, WOO-HOOOOO!!! Thank you, thank you....OK...Sorry, I'll calm down now, but I am surprisingly chuffed by this!! So love & huge thanks to the lovely Maternal Tales from the South for sending me my first ever award. I will place it proudly on my blog, where I can sit & stare lovingly at it...it really is quite a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Now I think I have to send it on to blogs I love too...YAY...this is fun...

As a source of many a giggle at my computer, for her insightful and amusingly written observations of Teenage Daughters, I'd like to pass it on to amomonspin

Also to selinakingstonisforty for her incredibly honest, from the heart sharing.

Next I'm sending it to menopausaloldbag for her beautiful writing, which always captures the imagination and makes me wish I could write this well!

To maialarasaid for her ability to remind me that my Teenagers were once this sweet & adorable.

And finally to 3bedroombungalow for her amusing, down to earth stories of life in the UK with her family...

To all the above, many thanks for making me laugh & cry, often at the same time, and please pass it on to your faves too....

15 September 2009

Everyone has a junk drawer in the kitchen..What's in yours?

My ex-hubby posted an interesting 'status' on Facebook this morning.

'Everyone of us has a junk drawer in the kitchen. I have a hot water bottle and 3 amp fuse. What do you have in yours?'

The 'hot water bottle' made me laugh, but then, well, where do you keep a hot water bottle?

So I thought it might be time to take a peek in mine. Let the listing begin....

Erm...er...I do have a small confession to make.....

I don't actually have a junk drawer.

Now, don't you think that makes me sound like the most amazingly tidy, organised, uncluttered owner of a kitchen ever???

Oh no, no, if only it were that simple. I don't have a 'Junk' drawer in my kitchen...

...because I have a full height, floor to ceiling, double doored 'junk'
CUPBOARD in my kitchen.

Admittedly, it does contain some little wooden drawers (maybe that counts), sitting on one shelf holding;
Pens, pencils, staples. fuses, batteries, birthday candles. All the tiny bits & bobs that would roll away forever if put on shelves.

The remaining cupboard space is filled with;
Printer paper
Spare birthday cards
Light bulbs
Old candles
Bags of hamster bedding & hamster ball (Yes, we do have a hamster, before you ask)
Takeaway menus
3 out of date passports
3 old instruction manuals for things I don't think I own anymore
Bottles of brush cleaner (how many???)
9 (yes, 9) old paint brushes, in a container, still covered in rock hard paint (I obviously haven't figured out I need to use the above item)
5 (!) all but empty school geometry sets
3 nearly empty tubes of wrapping paper
A box full of odd IKEA fittings
1 tube of multi-vitamins
1 small tube of extra volume hair conditioner! Huh?..no one in this house needs bigger hair
A dust buster
A blow torch
1 hot water bottle..Ha-ha, that's where it is!

There is much, much more....But I feel the need to go and have a little lie down now.

So, the question is 'What's in your junk drawer?'

13 September 2009

Truly, Madly, Deeply Grateful....

My 21 year old Boy-Man Gorgeous Son, works full time in retail, at a certain High St fashion store that only seems to sell clothing for skinny size 8, 6ft giants, so obviously I don't shop there! He works hard, with 7am starts and he loves it. It's the ideal job for him really, as one of his passions is clothes. His present obsession is with cardigans....8 or 9 and and counting! And he takes every opportunity to grab bargains and uses his 'Uniform' days to get big discounts on the latest 'New in Stock' items. Possibly living his 'dream....' so to speak....

And when he wants, he can play hard too. Along with his large circle of lovely friends, some working full time the same as he, others part-time, juggling with Uni or college courses, as he also did from the age of 16. Burning the candle at both ends as we all did at the same age. You remember...oh, come on you do!...Not going out till 11pm and coming in at 6-7am still slightly drunk, it can't have just been me...Ah-ha, no, I didn't think so!

As is the norm, he has most of the 'must have' gadgets/techno material items, laptop, ipod, flat screen TV, x-box etc....Some of which have been bought for him by us, as birthday or Christmas presents, I'm not a believer in buying items willy nilly as and when they ask/demand just because all their friends have them. So they have all had to wait for, and on some occasions have even had to add any Birthday/Christmas money (mean mummy that I am!) to ensure receipt of said items. Others he has bought himself, with his hard earned pennies, just like everyone else.

When he first started full time employment, it was he who first brought up the subject of paying rent (mind you, only just before we did), asking 'How much do you want me to pay?' and after discussions, we thought 25% seemed a reasonable, realistic amount. Enough for him to be aware of his responsibilities in paying his own way, as is the way of the world. But not so much that he would decide he would rather live elsewhere for that sort of money (Erm...yes, of course I do want my kids to fly the nest, just not yet please). For that rent, he gets his laundry done, meals cooked, and most of the time sandwiches, stuck in the fridge the night before (I know, some habits die hard, sad but true!!) to take to work with him. But he does also try to do his little bit. He keeps his room tidy himself, I don't even go in there, he hoovers, changes his bed linen, brings his dirty laundry/cups/glasses down to be shoved into the washing machine/dishwasher.

So, to put it plainly, he's just your normal (!) run of the mill 21 year old still living at home.

Now, I'd guess, after everything I've just said, you're expecting me to go on some kind of rant about how ungrateful he is or some such, but you would be wrong....SO VERY, VERY wrong...

At 2am, early for him, on Sunday morning, Gorgeous Son walked into the living room, where I was lounging on the sofa, catching up on my 'Recorded' TV, carrying with him a takeaway bag of food & a can of fizzy drink. He sat on the chair opposite me and mumbled...

'...I feel like (mumble..mumble) '

'Pardon?' I replied, thinking, do I need to go and get a bucket?...'feel like throwing up' ?? I thought, maybe?? But he didn't look or sound particularly drunk.

'Feel like what?' I asked....only partly listening to him...

'I said, I feel like crying'

'What? Crying, why???' Now listening fully, frantically doing a quick visual check for any obvious injuries/black eyes or something...

At which point I patted the sofa next to me...'Come here....Why do you feel like crying?'

He moved from chair to sofa, and curled up, with his head on my shoulder, crying....real, full on shoulder heaving sobs.

Sob....'I've just watched a bunch of people, about my age,..sob...throwing chips & verbal abuse at some homeless guy, and...sob...I can't believe anyone could behave that way, it was just disgusting!' 'Why would they do that?? I don't understand how...how.. ANYONE can treat another human being that way'...sob... 'What is wrong with them??'...

'What! Oh sweetheart.. I don't know?' 'What happened, what did you do?!'

I stroked his hair, hugging him close, trying to comfort him.

'Hic...Well, I was just getting some food, and couldn't..sob.. really see what was going on, but there was some sort of....commotion going on outside, lots of noise, you know whoops & hollas and so on...by the time I'd paid for my food and gone outside...sob.... I only caught the last of it, there was this poor homeless guy, huddled on the floor, covered in chips, with a crowd, 'my age' running away, still flinging chips & abuse at him'..SOB

'Oh honey...what did you do?....by this point I was trying my hardest not to cry along with him. If I cried now we would both be blubbering wrecks, absolutely no help at all....

'Well..sob... I helped him up and asked if he was OK..and then I asked him if he wanted something to eat, and he said 'Yes please'..sob...'he said please!'...'He was so polite, Yes please,'... 'then I took him back into the takeaway & bought him a sandwich & a drink...HOW could they behave that way? they were like animals!!!...it was all I could do, it wasn't enough, he was SO grateful....but there wasn't anything else I could do, I felt SO, so awful for him, just a sandwich..hic...& a fricking drink!'...'I felt awful'

By now of course, I was silently crying with him, my hugs & hair stroking had gone up in proportion to his distress.

He'd bought a homeless guy a sandwich & a 'fricking' drink, yet felt guilt that it wasn't enough to make up for the disgraceful treatment he'd received.
He felt shame that people his 'own' age, didn't have the compassion or decency to treat another human as they themselves would wish to be treated.

...And I felt a wave of emotions fill my heart. Anger at some peoples lack of respect for others less fortunate than themselves, I wonder where are they learning these morals & values?!! Shock, that people, even if not wishing to help those same people, would actively ridicule & belittle them.

Yes, I do realise, some of this behaviour could be put down to 'youthful drunken' hi-jinks , but I don't remember behaving that way at that age, sober or drunk...nor do I believe Gorgeous Son or any of his friends would either....

I also felt sadness for the unfortunate, but, inevitable, erosion of my Gorgeous Sons belief & trust in human nature. Its one thing to read & see it all in the media, and to be aware of all the crappy stuff that goes on in the world (His Home page is BBC NEWS...he's a bit of an info junkie) and homelessness is an ongoing problem in Brighton, so he is more than used to seeing people sleeping in doorways, wrapped in newspaper & old blankets for warmth. But it's quite another to be confronted, face-to-face, with this type of callous, unthinking behaviour.

But, and I will admit (am I allowed to admit to this..??!?) another feeling was one of pride. ...I felt a HUGE amount of pride in the fact that my 6'2, Boy-Man Gorgeous Son (baby in my heart...as they always are) has grown up to be a most wonderful human being, and that I had some small part in it. I am proud of the fact that he felt that it was his responsibility, as one human to another to take part and at least do something to ease someone else's suffering..however small he felt his contribution was.

I told him, that I thought, although he felt 'it wasn't enough', that possibly his one small act of kindness may have gone a little way to restoring the 'homeless guys' faith in human kindness.
As no one person can 'do it all', we can only do what we can, when we can.

So, for all his funny 'obsession' with cardigans (He-he!). His enjoyment of his 'must-have' items, and quite rightly so, some of them he 'earned' himself with his hard worked for cash, this MAN (sob!) has a BIG heart. With a depth of compassion & kindness, which I always knew anyway, that he is not afraid to show, honestly, openly & painfully.

*This was his 'Status' on Facebook, 10 minutes after he left me....an emotional wreck on the sofa!

'Saw how Inhumane people can be tonight. Some people are awful.'

He is grateful for all he has......and for that I am truly, madly, deeply grateful...