On the Quest for My Bed Soul Mate!!! oooh errr missus!@!@

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After spending the whole of my married life obsessing on creating the perfect bed (like the one on our honeymoon) …A sumptuous hotel bed that literally hugged the hell out of us the moment we climbed in. (I’d like to say it was the start of a first wedded night of bliss…. but to be fair we were so knackered  after the long day of smiling and wearing posh clothes.. it took us 4 whole days to make our vows legal!)

Well after 25 years of searching for my perfect bed that even came close to our honeymoon bed of dreams but now……  I finally found the holy grail !

I know!

….but this is big news for a 45 year old woman.. can you believe I used to get my thrills from nightclubbing and drinking copious amount of alco-pops at illegal raves (and all the treats they would bring) Rock and Roll baby.. it all about the bed these days!!!

So over the years I have worked hard on my search, finally plumping for the Eve mattress, Soak and Sleep silk filled pillows, an amazing feather and down duvet and the most glorious silk and microfibre mattress topper you can ever imagine!!!!.

Our bed is, we realise, an understated grown up and constant support and comfort..but the actual bedding and sheets where still unfound..

I have tried lots of different sheets and duvet covers to bring the combo together, from decorative prints, white lace, fleece covered, high and low thread count and everything in-between… realising that the only way forward is plain and super high thread count. But although I have some amazing sheets ( mostly from Soak and Sleep) they were never quite hitting the ‘honeymoon spot’.

Just before Christmas I spent a LOT of money on some bedding from a high end hotel range..The same hotel that provided us with that dream bed of years gone by.. I saved up for a few years for it and finally went for it just before Christmas as a gift to us to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary..

The plan was we finally returned to our honeymoon bed of dreams and our silver wedding anniversary would be the moment that we returned to those lazy hotel days.. ( I say ‘we’ but my husband is so over this obsession… (he could literally get comfy for sleep stood up in a storm barefooted on a bed on nails)

I couldn’t wait.. it was imported from France… Paris no less!!! the excitement was tangible..( well in my head anyway) When it arrived I unwrapped the tissue paper and removed the silk pouch of lavender that graced and adorned each individual piece.. I really did feel like I had something special….. I could not wait to get them on the bed… I felt like a 22 year old Parisian lady… opening her luxurious purchases with class and pretended that is was a normal occurrence that I received such luxury… ” this is normal for me’ I said to my invisable audience.

 Oh the disappointment!

Up to now the bedding set have been washed 5/6 times, I have tried all kinds of fabric softener and even bought a special cashmere softening solution to do the job…. but… they are still very scratchy!
They are still really stiff and you can hear the rustle as I spread it over my glorious cloud like mattress topper… I don’t want a rustle.. I want to hear the sound of a sigh.. a sigh that floats up from the silky smooth fabric as I stroke it smooth across the bed ( albeit in my chipped nail varnish adorned hands) …but no… its more of a grunt than a sigh… it reminds me of sleeping in hospital as a young girl, as the nurse tucked me into the far too hard bed with sheets of a hardness that would put off even the most laid back of decorator looking for a sheet to cover the carpet.

I don’t want function and hard wearing!!! I want softness, indescribable pleasure and comfort hugging me daily and making me groan with pleasure as I slide my feet about under the plump of the quilt, finding the cool spots against my hard heeled trotters.

I could weep for my saved up money.. our special treat… lost now as they won’t change or refund because I washed them.. aren’t you are supposed to wash new sheets before you use them?!?

(I could have kitted the whole family out in Linenbundle twice with that money!!… ‘gutted’ is an understatement )

The Customer service was rubbish too!!! The once purring Parisian accent that soothed me through my order had been replaced with an ‘Edith from Allo Allo’ doppelgänger  as she lectured me about the quality of the product and how I had now ( imagine the accent of a snooty Parisian madam) ‘used the sheets so they were no use to anyone now’… I imagined her inspecting her nails as she spoke to me with an air of utter disinterest.

I was very upset .. (this is a polite way to put it because I was really p*ssed off) All that saving up, the expectation of the utter luxury they promised… I was very sad .. and yes I know this is pathetic.. but some people get obsessed with the perfect lipstick or pair of designer shoes, maybe you’re are obsessed with dolphins or some ludicrous sports car.. I know.. I know… I’m just obsessed with my bed.. ok?

So as I sulked the facebook spooky spying elves had been listening and started throwing up loads of luxury bedding sites…. and yes I started looking again… and then I saw them…

Linenbundle!!!!

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I knew straight they were going to look after me even if I didn’t like the product, they were saying everything on their page that I wanted.. I mean there was actual a list of reasons why I should buy them… that list could have been written by me!!

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I felt like I’d met my bed soul mate!

So I spent some more money (albeit it a hell of a lot less than the posh hotel stuff but still money I had put aside for the fancy new tap in the bathroom) on one of the splendid bundles !!!

 

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They arrived in a little grey canvas bag and although not individually wrapped in tissue paper with a silk lavender bag.. there was postcard with Lionel Richie on it and cute little pun… I LOVE THAT!

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As soon as I opened them I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for.. soft, natural, classy, and kind of understated really… but in a ‘Im really amazing but I don’t need to tell you about it’ kind of vibe….

I put them on the bed and OMG!!!!! they are just what I have been searching for for the last 25 years!!!! I climbed in at exactly 5pm and did that weird thing where I kind of cycle my legs about between the sheet and duvet testing the smoothness and enjoying the coolness of the fabric.. I am very weird like that! I made lots of groaning and MMMMmmmming noises and thats where I was found an hour later by my hubster..

I was in bed with my pjs on watching Tv with my 5 year old as he walked in ( if he was a cartoon he’d have had a question mark above his head) .. unapologetic and knowingly I just just held up my hand to stop his questions before they started!

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I simply flipped over the quilt on his side, with no hesitation at all he kicked of his trousers and climbed in…

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God I love that man!

 

So we all sat there unspeaking and happy for another hour before dragging ourself up and downstairs to pretend we were normal.

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There was a small issue with the quilt cover which Im not even going to add because it was quite irrelevant in the whole scheme of things and besides it was rectified in 24 hours as a new one sent out no quibbles.. they even said the keep the old one as a spare!!!

So yes.. they are Fab! I love them!!! the customer service was fab.. friendly, quick and faultless. just the kind of no fuss I like.

I’ve now got a set for my daughter and will get a bundle for each of my other brood, one  every month I reckon.. so by the summer we will all be languishing in glamorous beds!!!

 

 

So in a nutshell…

Yes  Linenbundle sheets and bedding are a little pricy but, they are by no means as expensive as those selling equivalent quality!

These sheets are NOT Argos or ASDA.. they are not ‘£7.99 for a fitted sheet’ that after three washes looks like a whole load of un-soaked orbies as it turns into a million little balls of irritation!!! These will get softer and more loved with age… you can just tell its going to keep on getting nicer and nicer!!

No printed unicorns, peacocks of flamingos to fade and go out of fashion, no faux satin panels or Broderie anglaise frill… these are plain and understatedly expensive looking.. a bit of quiet class..

Ditch the prints…and fuss….after all no-one expects the queen to sleep under a duvet sporting a black and white printed image of London ( with the phone box the only thing showing colour) .. her majesty  is in plain, soft and expensive sheets.. you know it…she knows it.. it the only way to go.

 

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This purchase isn’t a throw away fashion purchase..

It’s an investment!!!

Your bed is important!!!

Spend extra on it! ( but you don’t need to spend too much.. the price is just right)

It so worth saving a little and getting these, you’ll never buy a scratchy patterned printed duvet cover again that will bobble up in the wash and go out of style before it’s pattern fades to a grey shadow of its former self ..

keep in plain…

keep it soft..

keep it classic…

keep it classy!!!

 

Be aware that you may have unwanted visitors though…. my little girl and teenage son keep jumping in and saying with a whine “whhhhhy is your bed soooo comfy?’

Even my 18 year old daughter climbed in on Sunday morning!!!! there is totally no privacy when you have 4 children!

So… I’ve done it.. I have my perfect bed… and the snooty Parisian lady can sniff at me all she likes.. I’m sticking with Linenbundle.

 

PS: I’d like to say the new bedding allowed us to reacting our honeymoon at last.. but to be honest we’ve just been sleeping too well for all that!!!

Decant and Decrease

I don’t know about you but I really like having lovely toiletries in my bathroom.

I have my favourite shampoo and favourite conditioner, I have a face scrub, make up remover and separate face washes and hand washes.

All this leads to having loads of plastic bottles all over the bathroom and of course everyone else in the family wantS their own special bottles and tubs too! ..we end up with just tons of half used plastic bottles and tubs.

 

Messy bathroom
Cluttered sink! (mine wasn’t this bad though) 

They all have different graphics and designs as well as costing ( sometimes in excess of £3). As well as expensive we all know that all these plastic bottle are going to end up adding to the plastic mountain we are battling at the moment.

So how can we keep the things we love and still reduce our plastic waste in the bathroom?

Well fear not!!! I figured it out… It saves money, looks tidy and actually could even be described as looking a bit posh!!!

 

Decant!

After doing up my bathroom at the beginning of the year I decided I didn’t want all those bottles cluttering up the lovely new room. As any budget conscious parent does, I trawled through Pinterest for storage ideas and by accident found this concept.. its the best thing ever!!! ( ok I may be exaggerating a bit here)

By decanting your products into nice jars and bottles you solve all your bathroom related issues ( well mostly) .

I found some lovely pump bottles for the side of the sink and bath ( not waterproof) and some clear plastic pump bottles for inside the shower-cubical ( totally waterproof) . I spent a bit more on them so they’d last but you can get them for less than a pound.  I figured if I want them to last I should buy something that was made to be reused over and over again. I spent £12 for 3 plain clear ones and a little more on some more “designed” fancy ones for the side of the sink. ( £5 each)

 

Nice Labelling makes a difference

I found some little blackboard labels on string to hang around the pump part of the containers and instead of using chalk pens I used a white enamel pen to write what was in each container.  ( chalk pens are water soluble so not great for bathrooms)07A057E2-5785-43D2-918C-2F43020E8231.JPG

I decanted the products into each bottle and found that everything looks so much more pretty in a clear bottle.

When I first did it I used up all the half empty bottles of products we already had. (I admit to mixing them too, I think I had four different shower gels in one bottle at one point, but it looks kind of cool!)

I was thrilled to finally finish all the bottles up and start to use something more permanent.

Brands and Cost

There are loads of recognisable brands available in larger containers. I was able to find our favourite shampoo and conditioner, shower gel and hand wash in 5ltr tubs/containers.

Yes of course they are more expensive that your normal sized bottle but when you work out how much they cost per bottle ( a normal sized container off the shelf) I found the savings were huge.

So where I was paying upto £3 for a bottle of shampoo, buying in large bulk bottles I was paying less than a pound for the same amount!

USE LESS!

Also I found we were using so much less product!

IMG_3631When you use a normal bottle of product often the dispenser deposits a good old blob of product on your hand much more than you need. But when you use the pump bottle you have much more control over the amount you use.

I recon we are using less than a third of what we would before for each wash.

This means we are getting three times more use from our product.. again saving money!

 

 

If you can’t afford to buy the 5lt tub, using a normal sized bottle would still have a difference on your pocket and the amount of disposed plastic.

For every three bottles you’d use normally you’d now be using one! taking two out of the bin!!! If everyone did that.. it would have a huge affect!

Same goes for shower gel, hand wash and face wash. You can buy these in bulk sized containers. Search for hotel/pub/hairdressers/ beauticians suppliers and your find everything you need.

Don’t be afraid to use products you don’t recognise either. Many suppliers use the same products just rebranded. Hotels and spas don’t want to provide rubbish so these are still good quality.

 

Remove Babywipes for Make Up.

I also have two teenage girls who use huge amounts of baby wipes to remove their make up and I was sick of seeing them all over the place.  I also knew the mess they cause in our sewers. ( our girls don’t flush them down the loo but they still end up in the bin.. and all over the house!)

IMG_2326So I thought about a way to reduce the use of wipes too. I found a litre of witch hazel on line for around £5 or you can use regular make up remover . I decanted into one of the containers and bought some facial flannels…. 10 flannels all together cost £5 from a hotel supply company. I cut in half and folded up nicely in a basket.

The girls now put the witch hazel on the flannels and use them instead of wipes, they rinse out and hang them on the radiator to dry. When they need a wash just throw them in the laundry and they come out ready to be put back in the basket.

(You could use old (or new) baby muslims for this too and even cut up cotton squares.)

I didn’t think they’d do it, but I think it makes them feel like its a more luxurious process and they’ve stuck to it. We’ve cut out all the baby wipes from the house and they didn’t even notice.

 

Bringing a Home Spa into your Home.

Besides the obvious money savings and cutting down of plastic waste, there is another thing too…. They look really Posh!!!! and it feels luxurious too.. it feels like you are in a hotel and thats always a good thing! I feel like I’m in a spa every time I take a shower!!!

Why removing branding revamps a room!

I read the Marie Kondo book at the beginning of the year (she’s a ‘tidying up’ guru in case you don’t know!! ) and she talked about how clearing away all the bottles and containers that have labels on helps to create a calmer environment.

She explains how we tend to ‘speed read’ everything we see without realising. By removing these products, bottle and labels, without realising, you stop reading everything and the room becomes quieter and calmer… (not to mention much tidier)

It really works!! the bathroom felt so much calmer and lovely, as well as looking a bit posher! so that was it..Im now obsessed!!  

I’ve done the whole house!! everything is decanted!!! washing liquid, hand wash by the kitchen sink and even cleaning fluid for wiping down the sides… if its in a bottle.. its decanted!!

 

The only obstacle we had was from the teens as they complained they wanted ‘nice’ shampoo, when they realised we were still using the products we always had they soon stopped moaning.

 

Future Issues?

We’ve not had a Christmas yet. everyone buys us tons and tons of smellies, I’m hoping we will still decant them to use them up but I know some of the posher ones have lovely bottles than we might want to display.  I am guilty of this already and have two sneaky premium brands that I keep out in my bathroom. But I put them on the shelf and display them like ornaments! I know.. its pathetic…..

 

next week… teeth, toothbrushes and toothpaste! oh I can feel your excitement!!

 

 

Going Green Without The Grief

We all want to do our bit for the environment, of course we do, but its not always that easy.

We know we need to reduce plastic and recycle more but there’s so many obstacles in our way.

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With complicated labels not telling us wether we can put packaging in the recycling bin or not, companies charging almost double for products in reusable and recyclable packaging and a whole host of conflicting advice. It can feel like a bit overwhelming and its not surprising that we sometimes end up telling ourselves that ‘its not worth it’ and that we ‘wont make a difference’

 

The truth is that so many of us think the same, and when everyone thinks that they can’t make a difference then no-one makes a difference!

Granted many of these issues would be solved by the manufacturers and large companies. Once they start to produce items in biodegradable or fully recycle-able  materials then we are all forced to input into the plight of the worlds eco system. It’d be so much easier for us all to live a more considerate life! But until then we have to find ways to do our bit. Even if its a small change.. its still a change and its better than nothing.

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So how do we live the life we want to live? and use the products we want to use? without discarding our want and need to be considerate of the environment. I understand that you don’t want to compromise your lifestyle… you can deny it.. but I know none of us do.. so we need to find ways to incorperate green ways into our chosen lifestyle!

I was thrilled to be asked by Wakefield Recycling Services to share my ideas with you.

I am a mum of four and live in Pontefract. I live in a normal semi on a normal street in a normal town. I like nice things but I like a bargain! I like good food, nice toiletries, nice clothes, shoes and accessories… oh and I love to make my home look nice too ( as nice as a home with four kids can ever be) so how do I do my bit for the environment, but like you don’t spend more money and don’t have to compromise quality and style?

Is it possible to live a modern life and still be green?

654-03906087en_Masterfile.jpgThis blog will help you find a way to be green and be considerate without having to buy a small holding in the woods, grow a beard, live in a tipi and have a number of goats and chickens. ( but you can do this if you want.. I do know a number of families that live a wonderful self sufficient life style but thats another post!)eco-community-tipi-valley-wales-united-kingdom-06-stemajourneys.com.jpg

You can still live in a normal town in a normal home with normal kids and normal friends and STILL be environmentally aware and active.

 

 

 

So follow me here and I will try help you and your family find a way to be more green and environmentally aware. I’ll share stories of others and discuss environmental stories in a way that affect us.  I don’t profess to be the greenest or most environmental person in the world.. but I am always looking for ways to make a difference.

 

If you have any questions or things you want ideas about then drop me a message. I can’t say I will have all the answers but If I don’t I do have plenty of people to ask for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Are Kids Banned & Punished For Grieving?

15727213731_fc3dde6aec_b.jpgWe got Williams report today and they gave him 10 unauthorised absences for the days he missed after mum died (his very much loved grandma) in September.

I’m absolutely appalled by this and on doing some research it seems its quite normal, in fact any child taking time off following a death is classed as taking an extended ‘holiday’ It is just not allowed ! You will be fined! It’s official.. Kids are not allowed to grieve!

During the first few days of mums unexpected death (it was a very traumatic time) we were ‘door stepped’ by the school who sent round the schools attendance officer and LEA attendance officer to knock on our door without warning and question us. It was one of the most traumatic, humiliating and upsetting moments of our lives.

I sat at my dining table with my exhausted body slumping and a red raw face from crying solidly for three days , in front of me was the details of the procedures the funeral director needed to carry out on mums body and a number of forms I needed to fill out to register the death. I sat slumped with humiliation , William by my side as he sobbed Silent tears of grief and sadness and They stood over us and talked at us , we don’t remember what they said.. We just stared at them unseeingly and on mute through our pain.

We were so shocked and too upset to be able to react properly at the time, we had maintained contact with the school letting them know why William wouldn’t be in and even requesting the pastoral team to contact us with advice on how to support our broken young man. They responded by turning up unannounced (just after we’d seen the funeral director ) to check up on us. How is this even allowed, let alone appropriate, to intrude on a grieving family? I can only presume they turned up to check we weren’t lying about mums death?! They returned un-invited four days later and did the same.

William took 10 days off in total, two of which he was ill, one he was at the funeral and the rest he was simply broken. (You get two attendance marks a day )

Both our girls were given three weeks off university at this time but William apparently wasn’t entitled to any, yet at 13 was the one struggling the most.

To make things worse the school also dished out 10 behaviour points and 10 detentions on his return, among other things , for not completing homework that was set during the time he was absent.

We had been assured that during his return that all his teachers would be informed of his situation and that they would help support him. It was agreed that at anytime should he find himself getting emotional or that any time felt he was overwhelmed, that he could let the teacher know and they’d send him to the pastoral office where the dedicated staff member would support him.

On his first day he became upset after been given his third detention.. (teachers hadn’t been informed after all) and requested that he could go to see the dedicated staff member. The teacher reluctantly let him go after saying ‘don’t you think you’ve had enough time off?’.

As William arrived at the pastoral office he discovered that the staff member who was looking after him was busy with another pupil. So he was sent to the first aid room where the school nurse sat him in a room and gave him a box of tissues and left. He was in that room over an hour on his own and when the nurse came back she snapped ‘ you still crying?’ Tutted and left the room again. Not helpful.

He called us sobbing and we went to collect him, we were told we couldn’t just ‘pick him up’ without permission .. our own son? .. the conversation didn’t last long as we demanded firmly that we were taken to him and we could and indeed would ‘just take him’ at any time. Indeed he was found sat on his own sobbing to an empty room, our broken boy.

Just as you think you can see the light

Five months later and after counselling (that we organised privately) William is much better but on finding out his absences were ‘un authorised’ yesterday we felt very let down.. again! We are so very upset that it’s clear they care so little for our child and his needs. How can kids feel safe and ‘held’ when their grief is dismissed so easily? And how do we as parents trust the school to take care of our children when they are in their care?

For most kids loosing a grandparent it’s most probably the worst moment of their life so far, their first experience of loss and their first time that they question their own mortality! The way this is processed will determine how they deal with death into the future. Belittling this grief and not allowing or recognising their pain sends them a very strong but clear message… it says ” we don’t care about your family or your feelings, we just care about you passing your exams” it also tells them that grieving is somehow not acceptable.. perhaps even weak. This approach is not going to encourage any child to feel encouraged to engage in school life, the place they spend a solid eleven years of their live, day to day and it certainly doesn’t build us healthy and strong adults of the future.

The school report we received yesterday informs us that it is ‘very likely further action will be taken’ (due to this high level of unauthorised absence) . How fantastic! So after we start to recover from the hardest and most traumatic time of all of our lives, we now have to deal with a fine and the humiliation of having to sign a document that promises that we commit to ensuring excellent attendance or risk a trip to court and even social services getting involved.

As parents.  we are all committed to our children’s school and education , but our priority is always the commitment to our children and their overall health and happiness.. that always comes first!

I, like every other parent, expected to have the control over how we parented and that we’d decide what was best for our child. When you hold your baby for the first time you never imagine you won’t be able to care for your child at times of sadness without having to follow someone else’s rules or risk been fined or threatened.

Could we be at risk of social services getting involved? They did turn up at our house without warning and if they do take us to court what will happen? Will we be seen as a family who doesn’t do our duty and provide a solid education for our children? We weren’t the ones leaving a distressed child alone in a room, nor were we humiliating him in front of his peers or dismissing his sadness. We only let him grieve in a safe and loving environment, so how is it we feel so frightened?

It’s a no from me

Did you know a child can only attend a funeral at the discretion of a head teacher?

No matter what, who or how the death occurred. It’s right there in the report from the former schools minister ( it is the former schools minister, but I cant find any more recent information so have to presume this thinking still stands) 

It’s not a given they can attend to say goodbye to their loved ones at a funeral with all their other family members and parents . No, it’s something a near stranger decides for you and your child.. let that sink in a moment.. you don’t decide if you child attends the funeral of a family member with the rest of their family!

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Punishing with behaviour records.

William has an exemplary behaviour record, teachers always tell us he is attentive, quiet, polite and considerate. I’m not just doing the ‘my child is never naughty’ thing, he has him moments like any normal child, but William is and has been a gentle and quiet boy, the easiest of our four children and best behaved, he is a good kid. But this year so far he has so many ‘behaviour points’ given to him without any discussion or consideration.

It seems the way forward is to punish our kids whatever, in any circumstance. In fact they don’t even allow a child to try an explain their situation ( this is disrespecting the teacher) . So now , on record, he is suddenly seen as a child in which ‘action needs to be taken’ and he didn’t do anything wrong but grieve.

These ‘points’ come from him not completing homework that was set while he was absent (following the death …in one instance he didn’t get a log-in for an online learning scheme and was put in detention for not knowing about it.. it was given to children while he was at the funeral) one of the detentions was handed out for taking the wrong socks for PE on his first day back after the funeral. Socks??? if only they had seen the courage and strength he mustered to return to school that day! ..Then to top it off, another detention, because we didn’t sign his personal planner during the two weeks he was off school. I mean really? what were they trying to do to us? were we not broken enough? This was beginning to feel like they were bullying us.

He was shouted at and punished without any consideration of what was going on with him, blanket rules for individual children really doesn’t work .

When in training

When you train to be a teacher you are taught to always consider the needs of each individual student/learner. In fact I remember tons of sessions during my training where we examined how to see each learner as an individual with individual needs. We had brain storming sessions weekly where we were encouraged to think of reasons a student may be struggling or need support. Of course hitting a teacher or another student is a pretty black or white case, but giving the same punishments to a child for forgetting his PE socks (when they are going through a really rough time) is not something you are trained to do! It’s common sense to everyone surely?

You are trained to recognise when your discretion should be used. It’s your job as a teacher, your responsibility. Are teaching staff forced to implement no tolerance to all students now? It’s a dangerous and cruel tactic if they are?

As it stands at Williams school, you get the same punishment for your parent not signing you planner as say, a student who just verbally abused a teacher in a fit of rage.

This attitude is not teaching fairness and doesn’t give children the space to be heard or respected. School is not the army! This is a modern school, a place that is supposed to offer safety, pastoral care and social enrichment not punish the kids at every opportunity no matter what the specifics.

This stuff messes kids up! They don’t forget! It shapes them and sends them into the future believing their voice is not worthy of being heard. They believe that they are a failure and that if something out of their control affects their performance they must take the blame and just ‘carry on’ .

Not such a great message when the biggest cause of death in young men is suicide and that young people are self harming in higher numbers that ever before.

Schools are actively and openly damaging our children.

Problem parents and problem child

Not only did William go through a very traumatic time and loose one of his closest relatives, but he has now been tarred as a problem child in school and we have been labelled as problem parents. (Just to be clear, we have dedicated our lives to our children) we are not problem parents!

Looking at employment information and guidelines, adults (including teaching staff) receive 5 days minimum paid bereavement leave and up to 6 weeks unpaid.. however our children are not granted any. They are children, why aren’t they supported?

How does this make any sense? When we are in a time where the mental health of our children is at an all time low, surely we understand the importance of self care and pastoral, supportive environments ? Is the school system really supporting our children or are they marching them straight into a life of depression, self harm , mental illness and anxiety?

Apparently according to the former education minister, children can not use the death of a loved one as an “excuse to take an ‘extended holiday’ under any circumstances” as it affects their overall results long term! Don’t worry about the shell of child they spit out when they turn 16, as long as they get the results!

In what era do we live in? We moved on a long time ago from believing children should be separated and kept away from death. It’s clear that these archaic ideas have caused untold damage to the lives of children in the past.

Parents and experts (parents are experts on their child by the way) now understand that children must be able to grieve , to do this they must be told the truth about death and kept involved with people they love both in life, illness and in death. It’s the only way to heal and only way to move on into the future. It goes without saying that some children need to get straight back into life, but that is up to the parent and child to decide.

A funeral is crucial part of this process, a ritual and a closure, a final goodbye in the presence of you family and friends.

I repeat the only people that know what is right for a child is their parent and the child themselves. It certainly isn’t the call of a head teacher, who in most schools have very little to do with each child on a day to day basis. I doubt Williams head teacher could pick him out of a line up..he certainly says he’s never been face to face with her. So how does she get to give her blessing for him to attend a funeral? What does she know about what his needs are? or indeed who is is at all?

Cruise and Marie Curie, among others,  advise that each child is individually affected in their own way and that they should lead the way when deciding when they are ready to return to every day life after a loss. It certainly is not the duty of the education minister, the head teacher or the attendance officer, it’s the child and their parents.

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Just to make sure they are well and truly broken

To make things worse and to fire the final nail in the coffin (pardon the pun) they continue to punish that child who took time off to grieve for the rest of the year. Every report sent out that same year will mention their low attendance (anything under 97.5. % is low) and this low attendance is forever referred to as staff make decisions on who is moved up and down in subject sets that reflect their abilities.

It’s openly acknowledged in school that often ability related sets are over subscribed to. So they need to make space to move kids up to achieve their potential. To do this they will take out the students with the lowest attendance before those with the lowest achievement level. This was told to me by staff when we questioned why our high achieving son was moved down a set. He was moved down not because he was struggling with the work but because he had taken time off due to illness.

So students who are ill, disabled, grieving or simply struggling with life, are put down into groups that don’t provide them opportunity to fulfil their potential academically. All because the system sees only ‘healthy’ students as their priority. In short it’s not about how clever you are, it’s about how lucky you are to stay healthy and that you are lucky enough to be blessed with an easy life. Yet another blow in the confidence of the child who is already facing challenging times.

If you’ve ever sat in a class where you are far beyond the level you are taught , you will understand the frustration and how it sets in a strong feeling of dissolution. Particularly as lower sets do tend to have less disciplined and positive learning environments.

Treats for the healthy and Lucky

At the end of the academic year many schools have a treat for those students who have excellent attendance. It maybe a film or take-out pizza, sometimes it’s a trip to a theme park. In the final year it’s the eligibility to attend prom.

It goes without saying that students who have been unlucky enough to be ill throughout the year or have lost a loved one, they will be excluded from these celebrations.

It is often normal for these children to sit and witness those celebrating their good health and fortune, while they are publicly excluded from the fun. A humiliating day and I guess that’s the entire point of it, to humiliate the kids into attendance?!

William’s school also offers a prize for the form with the overall highest attendance. Of course this creates added peer pressure and tension as poorly students and students who need time away, “let down the whole class.” Encouraging bullying and extra pressure these struggling children just don’t need the extra pressure.

For all those sick kids, for all those with challenging home lives , who are grieving or are suffering with their mental health, their school life consists of one miserable day after another. Something that really won’t help them during their already difficult lives.

So as they trudge through their childhood in an environment that doesn’t hear them or believe in them, they end their year sat in a detention room as their friends celebrate the end of school. They just sit punished once more for no other reason that not fitting to the expectations of every other ‘normal’ or healthy child. Often this repeated insinuation that they are not good enough sets in a attitude if ‘why bother’ and eventually they give up even trying at all.

Prom

The prom, albeit a modern and imported American tradition, means a lot to the kids these days. It marks the end of their school life and in turn marks the beginning of their adult life. It’s a milestone for them, a little like a modern debutant ball.

Yet even here, at the last opportunity the school has to bring all their students together, celebrate their childhood and achievements they still exclude and refuse to let some children celebrate.

Not only do they make them miserable and separate them from day to day school life, they then make sure they end it all with a parting shot of ‘ we don’t think you should be at prom because it’s to celebrate the ‘successful’ kids, you are not one of them, your time here was pointless, your childhood was wasted! ‘

Talk about a final kick in the teeth.

 

 

Providing a safe environment

What ever happened to providing an environment in which children can achieve and flourish? For many ‘unlucky’ children, school is torture. It punishes them at every corner. Staff don’t hear them, they don’t consider them and they punish them for the things they have no control over.

To finish them off they separate them from their peers and create a behaviour record that doesn’t reflect that child in any way, yet that reputation follows them into the future.

Recently the press reported that the rates for children deregistered from schools to be ‘home educated’ has risen sharply. These parents repeatedly say they felt forced out because their children were not a good statistic for the school. Is this what is happening? If a child doesn’t fit the desired mould do they purposely make them feel so undervalued and unsupported that they feel they have no option but to leave?

After all, parents only want their children to be well and happy. If school is not only preparing them for a life of work but for a life of mental illness and lack of self worth, then I don’t see many parents not taking them out of the system.

Perfect for those schools wanting 100% pass rates they separate the proverbial wheat .

Remember you can sit a gcse at any age, you can learn at any age, only the school system demands it has to be achieved by the age of 16. As many parents ask themselves what is more important? Is it health, happiness and confidence for life? or is it 8 GCSEs by the age of 16?

It’s clear the schools, government and Lea’s need to consider their responsibilities to our children and mostly they have to stop abusing them for not fulfilling their blanket expectations.

 

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Packing, ordering and preparing to make life easy?

You know when you have a good idea and when you actually start to implement it the realisation dawns on you that it really wasn’t a good idea at all?  yeah well that is my life right now…

So we have our week in Norway booked for next week. we go on Wednesday and spend a week there. We do have some work to do while we are there but after the first few days we can relax and simply play in the snow and have some fun.

Anyway I decided that it would be the best idea in the world to get a couple of big messy jobs done on the house while we were away.. you know we could come back after our holidays and walk into the most lovely of finished jobs and wouldn’t be stressed or worried about it while it was happening….  The realisation is we will walk in to two lovely rooms but a whole load of mess everywhere else!

This all sound great doesn’t it but the realisation has hit home that I still have to prepare for the builders, ~I have to empty the largest room in the house into the smallest room of the house and I have to take delivery of showers, toilets, shower panels, flooring and other such items. All this as well as pack for the holiday and make sure the second daughter has all the food and money she’s needs to stay home alone.

Not only are we doing the bathroom we are having the family room, kitchen, bathroom and boot room re-floored, we’ve been waiting for ages to get this done and putting it off because its open plan and takes up 3/4’s of the entire downstairs.

Thankfully the floor man is up for moving the furniture about for us but I still need to empty all our personal affects out.. which included all our shoes/ coats and bags from the boot room… there are 6 of us.. thats a lots of coats and crap!!

I currently have a shower cabin in my conservatory and a box of taps and wall lights, but if you think thats bad we have an entire bathroom arriving on Saturday morning, 6 huge shower panels on Monday and 30 packs of real wood flooring on Monday.. I cant even face thinking about it!!!

Im going to be so thrilled to leave the house on Tuesday next week.. let hope we haven’t filed for divorce by then, because as always Mr O really hasn’t given this all much thought and doesn’t quite realise how much of his weekend will descend into chaos.

wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

2018 can Sod off !

Goodbye 2018…

It’s almost the end of the year and I can’t wait to see the back of 2018!

As I lost my mum, I had five friends who lost parents too. Loosing a parent is something you will never be ready for! Until you experience it you will never understand the grief it brings. I saw my mum only once a week ( she had an amazingly full life) but we text and spoke almost daily… it leaves a big gap when that person you always call isn’t there anymore.

When she passed away the first person I want to call to talk about it was her! The realisation she wasn’t there was a shock even though I was there when she passed!

This year I also lost an aunt and an uncle and witnessed people become very sick and frail.. I saw relationships fail and families break, it really has been a torrent of a year! I have to say it’s been the hardest I’ve ever had!

I had friends struggle with their business and money to make ends meet and the amount of friends and family struggling with mental illness and depression is unreal . We’ve all struggled here and some of us start seeing councillors in the new year to help us move on.. this is positive! Getting help and reaching out is a big step towards healing.

Health wise , both Keith, Grace,William and I have struggled (I’ve had a few (stress related) seizures over the last few months and my energy levels and back pains aren’t great) we have also had family and friends who have had terrible health worries this year. Everyone seems to have something going on with them! But the nhs supports us.. I’m greatly appreciative that we all get that support

We’ve had family stresses too , money issues, time issues, difficult neighbours, family and people in general behaving difficult, gossiping and generally lying and using us as their favourite topic of conversation. I honestly find it incredible how people’s are so desperate to say anything to bring another person down.. and others just love to believe it and pass it.. good old Chinese whispers.. Ive been shocked this year at how much people love to gossip. We did have a laugh though.. we literally sat at home not talking to anyone and still managed to be doing something wrong 😂 my dad always told me, if someone wants to find a reason to dislike you they will search to find one.. even if it’s not there.

But through the upset and hurt We’ve learned to walk away rather than try defend ourselves… this revelation has had positive affect and although it’s hard knowing people believe horrid untrue things about you and your family .. knowing you can live in peace without begging for your innocence is very freeing….. do we really want people in our lives that can behave this way? Believe anything they are told and pass it on before even finding out it’s true? Something we could all do with asking ourselves. I have four friends who have been victim to this nastiness in the last year.. it’s crazy!

All these things, and more, have been felt by friends and family this year.. suffering in the same way we have…everyone seems to have had a tough old year… and everyone will be glad to see the end of it!!!

But—

…we have had good stuff too, HUGE BLESSINGS including weddings, engagements, babies and new friendships .. it’s always wonderful to see life changing moments happening before your eyes.

I also had my faith in mankind restored . The kindness I witnessed (from strangers as well as friends) when mum died was incredible and I’ll never forget those people I came across on my way back from Ireland. I think about them a lot and it really helped me knowing such kindness was out there..

Also at that sad time in September we found out who was there for us and who our friends were when they rallied around to support us. .. Matt and Keira took great care of me when I was alone and frightened , Booked me flights home from Ireland and generally had my back…, it was above and beyond.. I’m so grateful.. Em was at the end of the phone constantly and was around to help me with difficult jobs and supportive words..she was my rock. ..Tara was there to understand and listen and importantly to make me laugh!!!

…and that’s just a few of the special people!!! so many people supported us, and not always the ones we expected to pull through! , but we needed them.. we felt very isolated and alone.. you saved us…you are the ones who know us and love the people we really are… just as we do you…we are so blessed to have you…and we will look after you too when you need it!

We had amazing adventures this year too and travelled well , across the UK in Molly the caravan , camping in lay-by’s and various fields , enjoying festivals and our festival friends…This summer we walked around a fire mandala, had paint fights, saw amazing music, drama and arts, watched burlesque, cycled through magical woods, explored fairy gardens , saw parades, watched naked cricket and drank champagne while watching an orchestra play. We met incredible people, famous and normal lovely folk, we shared incredible talent within our space and our crew. As always we made things happen! I love my work and my team!

We also travelled to Norway, Thailand and Ireland, both on holiday and for work.. we experienced two completely different environments and we are thrilled we have been able to give the kids such experiences. We sledged, built a toboggan run for our sledge, went in an ice church, drank vodka in glasses made of ice, nearly broke our bodies sledging and trekking through 3 metres of snow! Thailand brought us utter breathtaking scenery, sun, spirituality, sea, monkeys, spiders, lizards, food, culture and more than we could ever wish for! Amazing!!!!

We celebrated Graces 18th in June with a big party at the local golf club. It’s was great to get family and friends together to celebrate… as expected it went on into the wee hours!

William turned into a teenager in 2018 and he’s turned a corner in health.. he seems much better this year! Mum turned 70 and Libby entered her 20’s! Milestone birthdays are always something to celebrate!

We had lots of good work come in and more importantly we survived it all ! We took on one of the biggest and most exciting projects we’ve ever done at work and we (and our team) completed it well and handled the stress! ..just! (It tested our relationship at times) Opti-Pharma continues to thrive and Angel Gardens continues to inspire and share.

We put food in our tummies and heat in our home and we will continue to do that thankfully with less financial pressure this year. Shelter and home is everything.. and we will do more this year for the homeless and those who have less than us.. collecting left over festival tents and sleeping equipment will be a start and I will work with my local church to support our local food bank ..

Our children learned and thrived, and even after they all struggled after their grandma died they found their strength and are again succeeding. We remain very proud of their humour, sense of individual style and their ability to behave properly when they need to, with excellent manners and consideration to others. They are passionate about important things and know right from wrong on a global and political scale as well as in a day to day environment. They all bring us such high levels of pride!

We did some work on our home too, with us moving out in November to the hotel down the road while we had a new boiler fitted. The kids loved living near Xscape and enjoyed climbing, cinema and eating out.

The new heating in the new ‘wing’ of the house made a big difference and the installation of the new log burner just before Christmas finished it off nicely!

The gardens were lovely this year, although we lost the new beds at the front of the house during a heatwave while we were in Thailand. We will re-plant these in the spring although the bulbs are in already!

We have plans to get the new floor fitted in the new part of the house in January and the new family bathroom will be fitted while we are in Norway. Hopefully we will finally finish the house this year.. let’s hope our paid work continues to pay so we can make that a reality!

So this new year we are going to hold our heads high and not let anything get to us.. my little (big?) family are strong and good, we will continue to work hard and continue to live and behave ethically and with kindness where we can…. we might fail at times, but nobody is perfect.. as long as we do our best we can sleep well at night.

We will take care of each other and our people, we will share what we have and be there when they need us…

We will have adventures and experiences whenever we can, and mix our business and work with pleasure as we continue try to find a good life work balance.

We will distance ourself from things that make us sad or uncomfortable and not get dragged into any unnecessary drama.. We will rise above it and get on with the importance of bringing our children up among good people who bring love and inspiration.

So.. 2018..

phew you’ve been tough!!!

But there’s always good stuff too… come midnight tomorrow I’ll be saying goodbye.. not just to 2018 but to everything that’s hurt us or made life difficult for me, my family and my friends ..

2019 will start clean and fresh… as I become the matriarch of my own family , Keith and I have become the elders and head generation of our little branch of family.. we will take on our role proudly and ensure new adventures await us!

May 2019 bring happiness, love and inspiration to you all!!! Xxxxx

Violent trumping causes unknown emotional damage to four year old!

Mr O and I decided to do a two week detox/boost diet thingy before our holiday in a few weeks. We just fancied a little boost as we’ve been feeling the pressure a bit recently and felt we needed a little clean out.

Unbeknown to us that’s exactly what we would be getting …in spades!

We have been doing it five days now and it’s all a bit surprising.

The foods been lovely actually and we both know that if we weren’t actively aware we are on the program we’d be enjoying it as normal. But no it just doesn’t feel enough.. we are craving sandwiches (we don’t normally eat sandwiches) and a not grabbing a quick cereal is causing Mr O great distress…

To lift the mood I’ve got the stuff in to make gin and tonics today as it’s ‘allowed’ so that will cheer him up! If it doesn’t at least he’ll be pissed and forget about sandwiches for a bit!

Anyway.. I digress…

Yesterday we did start to notice a difference in our bodies.. both of us… !!!

So my swollen tummy has halved in sized (I’m pretty sure it’s the bread that’s been making me so bloated). Mr O has noticed a weird salty taste in his mouth and most noticeable of all.. we both are trumping like troopers!

It’s bad! It’s not the kind of trumps that are silent and deadly but the kind that are loud and rattle the bedposts!

Violent trumping!!! (VT)

I’ve never violently trumped before! But yesterday I sneezed and my bottom made the most ridiculously noisy ‘dad’ fart ! It actually vibrated against the chair and hurt my buttocks!!!!

What. The. Actual. F*ck????

Anyway it made me jump and as I jumped up from my chair in horror it made Kitty jump and yelp in fear! She then frightened the cat who deftly shot off leaving the cat flap swinging in the shocked aftermath …. like a pendulous plastic tumble weed!

This all happened in a millisecond and I was left stood looking at Kitty, who was looking at me, shocked and horrified in equal measures.

I may have scarred her for life! Will this be an event she recalls in therapy in her twenties? Will she need intensive Emdr therapy to rid herself of this traumatic memory?

Later on Mr O was fitting the new dishwasher and one of these violent trumps forced its way through his work trousers as he leaned towards the stop tap .. as it came without warning he jumped and banged his head on the worktop he was currently under doing the plumbing. Kitty jumped in shock and as she did she stepped back and stood in the cat food! In disgust she cried out and as she removed her foot she knocked over the cats water. As her screams grew in volume and horror with each passing event, her Daddy tried to scramble out of the cubbyhole was working in to get to her…but as he tried to turn he knelt on a screw on the floor which, got him in the exact place that takes out every part of your ability to hold your body upright.. causing him to collapse in a heap and slump back against the unit knocking off a plate that was innocently waiting to be washed in the new dishwasher! … it smashed on the floor.. the cat ran out again the cat flap swinging in the silent aftermath once more!

Mr O stared at our daughter, as he slumped in a pathetic heap under the kitchen sink while she returned her equally appalled look. She stood one foot in a puddle and the other raised displaying squashed meaty chunks (from whiskers gravy range) oozing between her tiny glitter painted toes.

We are really messing with our four year olds stress levels now!

Friday night is Kitty’s night for been allowed in our bed.. so as she was starting to get sleepy last night while in the middle of us both, we discussed the events of the day. Suddenly mr O did, one of these now normal, violet trumps!

We laughed and I said ” at least aim your arse away from me” he maturely responded by explaining he was “keeping Kitty’s feet warm”

Well our 4 year old saw red, it was the final straw ! She’d Been putting up with this all day after all!

She threw back the covers “daddy now my feet are too warm! I don’t want you to warm them up!”

She was ready to cry and very cross…

…to cut a long story short I spent the next half hour ‘wafting’ her feet to cool them down from Daddy ‘over heating’ them with his violent trump!

You really couldn’t make this shit up!

We start today with a sense of interpretation not knowing when the VT will strike next!

Wish us luck!