A Saturday night in front of the TV. Part 1

It was a cosy Saturday evening and we had plonked ourselves in front of the Tv with our kids after a day of gardening and jobs. A usual event in our house, to sit down together and watch Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. It is one of the only programs we all sit down and watch as a family.

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As we watched we made the usual comments about how it was so great to see the age old format that we watched as kids, curtsy of Morcambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies. We laughed at the cheesy puns and silly pranks and loved watching normal families as they were supposed in their homes.

At the end they showed a video of the prize they were giving out to 200 people over the series. A holiday in Florida! wow how lovely that would be. It set us off talking about how we were so ready for some sunshine and how we hadn’t had a sunny holiday for a good 4 years now, we had worked so hard lately and really would love a break. We were planning a camping trip over easter, so we settled with that.

Then it said they had a few more seats left on the plane and you could nominate someone by sending an email. I didn’t think about it again until on the Monday I was cleaning and came across the savings tin that Kitty and William had been putting money in religiously for our next Disney trip. I quietly mulled over the prize and though, why not apply… someone has to win and our kids really needed some fun.

So I did….. I wrote the email and explained about the tin and about who we were. I clicked send and forgot all about it until a message pinged back in inbox. They wanted more information could they call me…

Over the next four days I spoke to producers, researchers, I sent the tin down to the studios and filled in form and form, contract after contract! They still wouldn’t say if we would defiantly be a winner but the plan was laid out.

They would come to our house on saturday and set up a secret camera in the tv, William would have to leave the house while they did it so not to suspect. They would flash to us live in our living room and surprise William by showing his savings tin and telling his he was going to Florida.

It wasn’t until Saturday morning when the producer turned up at our door that we really thought this could happen. I managed to get William out of the house to his friends and we ran around like crazy people as we set up the house for them to film. All the time we were getting ready for our friends 40th Birthday Party in the next city, I was planning and running it for him and had to go and set it all up ready. So I was running around like a loon and the day passed in a flash.

7pm came and we had got ourselves ready to go to Matts party, we called william down and told him we were going as soon as we had watched the show so he needed to be ready. William wanted to play a game on the Xbox so we lied and told him his uncle Neil would be on the show and we wanted to watch.. so he sat with us excit3edly.

All the time, the producers and sound man were hidden in our bedroom! The producer kept texting me.. ‘Move to one side’ ‘ don’t let Kitty touch the tv’ ‘tell Libby to move out of shot’ ( the prize was only for 4 , so the girls weren’t able to come with us!!!’

Then it happened… the tin flashed on screen held by Dec, the camera came on us and we were live to 8 million people! Thank god I had had time to vacuum the floor! William’s face was a picture! he was in total shock and sat with his mouth wide open looking at me for confirmation! before we knew it, it was over, we were booking a taxi and leaving to the Party….

Bizarre….. William was in shock and couldn’t believe what was happening… we were too… as we walked into the party we just carried on as normal, no-one saw it as they were all at the party.. so no-one knew. The only reminder was the beeping of our mobiles and our friends and family text and messaged us with total excitement.

Our facebook page, email and text messages were full of our friends and family who were just so excited for us, work friends and clients emailed us and we felt very very loved!

When we left the party, we came home with some friends and we watched the show for the first time. It was so very exiting and it kind of started to feel real… all I needed to do know was get ready to go to Florida in just under 48 hours!

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How Freudian theory predicts a civil war after Trump and Brexit. 

I Written the morning Trump won the election .

I woke up this morning to snow! If the snow had been sun I could have easily mistakes to the month as June! The same feeling of disparity and disappointment hung in the air just as it did as we woke up at the Glastonbury festival to find us leaving Europe in June. 

But as always I got thinking….When I was at university studying psychotherapy,  I was very interested in Freudian theory. Most of all the writing of Totem and Taboo. I got to thinking how it is SOOOO relevant in the world right now as we battle racism and purism… stay with me….

Don’t worry I’m not gonna get all clever and start quoting Freud and expecting you to know what I’m on about.. so here is the theory in a nut shell ….

There was a story about a brother who was cross with his dad, so cross he wanted to kill him! ( extreme I know)  but knew it was wrong to kill your own dad! ( dur… you don’t say)  HE WAS MAD but he didn’t and had no intention of killing his dad… cos it was wrong! 

But over time his brothers also fell out with their dad and after numerous chats where they moaned together about their dad, it turned out that they all wanted to kill him ! Cripes! They talked it through and they agreed that if they all wanted to kill him it can’t have been wrong! 

Anyway …the point was that as soon as the group all wanted to kill him it became ok, their moral code kind of changed and they  could justify killing their dad!  after all everyone else wanted to do it too!!! So they couldn’t be wrong and it wasn’t their fault! 

So they killed the dad! 

The point of the theory is that on their own they’d never have done it! They’d never have found the self justification to allow them to go ahead and Killed daddy! 

But as a group, where they all felt the same , it gave them strength, not just physically but emotionally and morally ! Their feelings of hate towards him were validated  by the others and it gave them permission to join in the dirty deed! Without guilt! 


So why is this relevant now? Well Angry , frightened and upset people  are very unpredictable as we know,  so as soon as they are blessed with the realisation that they are not alone in their powerful feelings and they are not wrong , they are able to feel strengthened by the knowledge they are not alone and MUST BE RIGHT! 

This realisation gives people permission to openly show their anger and behave in ways that alone the couldn’t have done so  easily and safely. We don’t need to look so far to see many examples of this! 

Think about bullies? Never so strong when they are without their gang , football hooligans rarely fight alone, kids at school rarely misbehave without others playing along with them….

I think about Brexit and now with Trump… as soon as folks with such angry and passionate thoughts and feelings ‘win’ a voice they start to behave openly in a way they never did before. 

All of a sudden those with racist and sexist or whatever other ‘ists are relevant have been told that they are not alone! In fact they are in a majority! They are safe to speak out.. they have strength as a group to act in a way they could never do on their own! 


We have seen a huge rise in openly racist attacks in the uk since the Brexit victory gave them a voice and now with Trump taking the wheel,  we are seeing the same and more.. racism, sexism, body shaming, greed and aggression to ‘outsiders’ has be given the green light!  There is a certain giddiness to express something which was previously frowned upon.

People have been told ( indirectly) they are in their right to hate and abuse! And it is only going to spread across the globe… all those who realise they have a band of like minded brothers will draw strength from them and act! 

As half of the country here and across the pond furiously feel the ‘opposite’ of these ‘winners’ and totally mourn the loss of humanity and as our anger and fear will grow, together  too we will too come together to fight. Will we ( the anti Trump and pro Europe and free movement) join our brothers (and sisters) and act in a way we could never do on our own? 

What permission will we give ourselves as a group to protect our beliefs? Just like them? Just like the Freudian brothers? How far will our fear and numbers take us? 

Splitting countries and nations into two camps of such very opposite sides of the coin is a very dangerous thing, we have created two strong groups of now powerful opposite voices… 

So what , where and when will they agree to kill ? 

Who or what will be the father? 

Which group will decide to act first? 

Maybe the now openly expressed hatred towards muslims, Mexicans, Jewish, polish, refugees, inegrants…( oh the list goes on….)that is now freely acted upon by the Trupexit brotherhood will create the justification for these oppressed  communities to join together in a mutual brotherhood too? 

Will the oppressed join the fight within their group  strength based on anger and fear? Ironically becoming more dangerous that they were ever accused of being in the first place!!!!!

 Their joint strength allowing and justifying attack?

What about gay men and women? Will they find their collective inner Freudian brotherhood too? 

Will they find strength and justification to loose their moral code and attack too? 


What about women? 

We’ve seen women joining together already.

Will they find their inner Freudian brotherhood too? 

Will they justifying attack as a group ?

Will they behave in a way as a group they would never behave in alone? 

As recent shows of democracy has stood in the form of two sides of the coin… polar opposites to each other. 

Right or left

In or out

Controlled or free

Catholic or Protestant 

United or City

Yorkshire or Lancashire

Rich or poor

Girl or boy

Black or white

Trump or Clinton

Etc 

Etc

Etc

So are  two groups of angry frightened Freudian botherhoods forming? 

How many other brotherhoods are within them? 

As anger grows and the brotherhoods strengthen through fear and despair,  it is only a matter of time before our actions spill over into the streets and we all kill our fathers. 

As we fight against our own community, brothers and sisters, families and friends we will believe it’s ok, because we are not alone.. we have strength to do what alone we could never carry out. After all There is no I in team! 

This year has divided the world.. 

I have no answers or crystal ball but as Freud illustrated, a  group of people with likeminded anger have a voice and it’s not just a voice… it’s a desperate wail ! …  they will be heard and seen and it won’t be pretty !

When in Rome

IMG_3841.jpgLast February I had the most random of emails. It was an email from the ED society asking us if we would like to go to Rome on behalf of the Uk society to meet the Pope with other ED families from across the world! Well that doesn’t happen very often does it???

Needless to say we jumped at the chance. To be honest I didn’t quiet believe it would happen and I don’t think anyone else we told believed us either…. I mean meet the pope? us ? really?

As the trip came closer we started receiving emails from the organiser of the trip in Italy, we were to all stay in a large hotel on the outskirts of Rome and there would be various social events happening. It all began to feel very real.

A month before we were due to depart I had an even more random email, I really didn’t think the former could be beaten but I was wrong. We were asked to bring a gift to present to the Pope. Yes… I know…. what on earth does one give to the most holiest man on earth? After much discussion and support I finally worked out what I as going to take..  Rev Shelagh ( our family vicar and friend) had advised how His holiness was very passionate about reaching out to those in need particularly at the time he was reaching out to the refugees.  I wanted to think about giving something symbolic and relevant to us as a family, having a link to the results of war as well as placing a human face to it.

I have an old case full of my grandfathers old letters, books and papers from his time fighting in the second world war and one of the items that came to my mind was his soldier book. The tiny leather bound book has a page at the front where he wrote out the lords prayer. The writing is beautiful and albeit faint it shows how important his faith was during this dangerous part of his life. I copied the page and printed it out, framing it with a photo of Grandad as young man and one of William, I am an artist by trade so it was a pleasure to create a lovely piece of art work with my family heirlooms.

I was having to travel alone with William ( 11) and Kitty (3) I am pretty good at travelling and I am always the lead when we go anywhere as a family. But Id never travelled abroad with the children with out my husband and we had never really split up as a family either. I was going to miss them all terribly and I was so sad they couldn’t join us on such an important life event for us.

(We are a large family, I married my husband 23 years ago and we have since have four children: Libby (18) not an ED carrier and was busy working, Grace ( 16) an Ed carrier but has just started at Leeds College of Art and it was too soon to take time off. Keith of course need to stay at home to look after them while I took William an ED carier and Kitty who we suspect is a carrier also.)

IMG_3713.jpgSo the day came, The gift packed, the clothes ironed and stowed in my case, we set off to the airport. Landing in Rome we trundled excitedly though the terminal and straight out through security with no problem ( the joys of hand luggage) we jumped in our organised private transfer and enjoyed our ( rather hair raising journey) to the hotel.

The hotel, The Church Village, was a real contradiction in terms. The reception building was modern and bright, but the outside was typically Italian. Simple and reminding me of a youth hostel. I soon realised it was a hotel for pilgrims, a simple accommodation especially for those travelling to worship at papal mass. This brought home  the enormity of the trip and I really think William picked up on it too.

After a quick drop off of our bags, we set off to the bus stop. We were catching the bus into the centre to meet the other ED families at the vatican museum. As we arrived at the meeting place we saw a family who’s children obviously had the ED traits. We hadn’t even been to any of the gatherings with the ED group and therefore hadn’t come across anyone like us. It was quite a heart stopping moment as we approached them but within a few minutes we had been introduced to around 5 or 6 other families from around the world, all with ED and all excited to be on this trip of a life time.

We entered the museum and had a long wait while the tickets and passes were sorted out. It seems the Italians don’t have the same approach to organisation as us Brits, and although the end aim is always reached there tends to be some chaos and waiting around first. This turned out to be an on going theme of the week but it was endearing and kind of added to the atmosphere .

As we were waiting in the busy reception area, William started to flag. It had been a long day already, we had only flown in in the morning and now the hour and half wait was starting to take its toll. I made an executive decition to take William and Kitty back to the  Hotel and rest. After all we had a very big day tomorrow and we needed to ensure we had all our energy. Apparently the families had a wonderful time at the museum and we are still gutted we missed the Sistine chapel , but hey… we were going to see the pope  in the morning!.

We arrived back at the hotel, we grabbed a bowl of pasta in the reception, I had a beer and we bought ice creams to take back to the room. The kids showered and I managed to find an english cartoons channel for them to watch while I got everything ready for morning.

As I realised I needed an iron to give everything a once over, I called reception to find this basic of all hotels didn’t have one.. agh!!!! I ended up snuggling up with the kids while the shower steamed out clothes for morning.

We work up Early and excited, all dressed in our finery we made our way to the dining rooIMG_4005.jpgm for breakfast. What a shock we had to find the quiet hotel had turned into a buzzing mass of pilgrims,
Vicars, nuns and hundreds of groups proudly supporting the national colours huddled in groups everywhere we looked.

The atmosphere was electric as we grabbed our breakfast, we spotted some of the other ED families all dressed ready  for our special day.

After breakfast we gathered the gifts we had brought and met with the other families to wait for our coach. We took photos or each other and I was touched by the support everyone gave me as I struggled with the children and the pushchair. It was a hard moment, seeing all the families and I felt really lonely, missing the rest of our family. But the excitement took over and we settled on the coach on our way to the vatican.

As we arrived the crowdsIMG_3764.jpgIMG_3770.jpg were huge! it was a daunting moment as we ( a large group) tried to stay together ( with the Italian lack of organisation) We had to go through a different entrance to the crowds, passing through airport style security and bumbling through to our area at the front of St Peters square.

I don’t really want to talk too much about the morning as it was simply so very special and been in the company of his holiness was emotional and wonderful. William and I were moved to tears and neither of us will ever forget it. no amount of words will explain the moment.

When mass started we were sat right at the front of the audience so we were really in the thick of it. But I had to have a little laugh at us allIMG_3779.jpg, as the sun creeped around to shine on us, I turned to see all the ED families frantically feeding the children water and stripping off their layers. Oh the joy of not been alone! For once in our life we were one of many.. what a wonderful feeling.

We came away from St Peters square emotional and hungry. Thankfully we were ferried back to the bus and driven out of the city to a farm style restaurant, were we enjoyed a wonderfully rustic meal in the shade of a barn.

TIMG_3816.jpghe children ran around the meadow together and parents were able to chat and share notes of how they were coping with the children with the condition.

IMG_3825.jpgI learned loads! We have been coping alone since we got our diagnosis and it was great to hear from families with much more experience. We were coming away with lots of knowledge and support.

The day after our big day we spent the day exploring Rome, the kids and I grabbed a tour bus pass and we hopped on and and off the bus at the various sites.

IMG_3832.jpgWhat an adventure!!! Not only did we go see the pope but we met so many other families from across the globe all like us. How wonderful it as for William to meet other children like him and to become the majority rather than the minority for a change.

15 Lazy New Years Eve Party Tips. For a middle aged lazy and frugal Cowbag.

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Ok so I’m in my 40’s and we don’t want a Rave or Orgy anymore… we also don’t want ( can’t be arsed) a formal dinner party or cocktail party….Similarly I’m not planning on the house been filled with drunken 20 somethings throwing up in my plant pots and snogging each other … but I do want to do New Year and I am having a house full again at new year..

I want my friends around me, I want a laugh and I want us all to be together without anyone getting stressed out…

I’m a prolific lazy Cowbag so know how to make things easy, cheap and effective!

Here are my  tips to a lazy and effective middled aged party.

15- Only invite people you know and like.

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You really don’t have to invite anyone just to be polite… your house your rules.

Inviting people you know well and who can relax and have fun with while knowing they won’t steal your family silver or fall asleep in your bath.

We all have relatives and friends that need keeping apart or they’d be falling out with everyone about football , Brexit or the finer details of Fracking. Its ok to choose who you want to spend time with… its not a crime.

14-Don’t start too early.

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If you start the party at 7pm you have 5 hours to kill before the new year hits…people will all stay for the new year and thats the crux of the night, start at about 9pm, you have time to have a drink and get giddy without getting blotto and losing guests to sleep

13- Tell everyone (not ask) to bring booze! 

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If you ‘ask’ your guest to “feel free to bring a bottle” … you don’t know if they will or not…will you have enough????  The risk of running out of booze on new years eve is the stuff of nightmares, so you will end up buying it all anyway ‘just in case’.

 You will have to buy everything.. beer (lager and bitter) wine (all colours) cider, spirits, mixers and juices… if you state “bring enough booze for yourself and we will share” it’s friendly and direct.

Make it clear that everyone should bring booze!!!.. I normally say “Bring enough booze for yourself and we can all share it” Do this and you will only need to buy what you will drink yourself… you always end up with loads left over too! always a bonus!

12: Make it a joint effort with food with a healthy dose of competition! 

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Tell everyone you are having a food competition, tell them to bring either a sweet or savoury and hold a vote at the end of the night. 

Our table is like something from Master Chef and Great British Bake Off on New Years Eve,

We all love trying to impress each other with food and skills… we love to share food and  and we totally love laughing at disasters too!!!

Offer silly prizes and different awards, It’s great fun and everyone shares their skills and you’ll have a feast without spending all day in the kitchen and spending a bomb at Asda.

11- Make life easy for clearing up!

il_fullxfull.356753869_6lio.jpgUse paper plates, bowls and cups/glasses, tie bin bags everywhere and just keep filling them… it will make life so much easier in the morning.

When folks say ‘do you need help’ say yes !

10- Atmosphere and Decor

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Easy! You will still be decorated from Christmas, so add candles in containers everywhere and turn off the lights to add atmosphere. Have different music in each room so there is a different vibe in each place… its easy. ( see Getting outside below)

9-Get outside

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Open the garden up, build a camp fire, put out deck chairs, cover with blankets and cushions  pull the benches close and put rugs son the floor over tarps… pile up blankets and throws and fill the garden with candles in jars… if you know musicians get them to bring their instruments and you will find the house will be empty! An idea to warn guests to come in warm clothing.

8- Crap fireworks 

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It’s obligatory at our house that our fireworks are really shit! 

It’s hilarious waiting for them to go off and do something and then watching the kids laugh historically when you adults all pretend it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen! Lots of frantic oohs and ahhs as well as over-dramatic reading of the names and descriptions on each firework.. one year we were setting chit fireworks off one by one for an hour…

NB; This year we have some good ones.. we are all disappointed! 

7- Involve the teens and let them invite a friend.

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It is important for teens to see adults having a good time without taking drugs or getting absolutely blotto. They love feeling equal to adults older than them and they engage really well when given the chance. If they are shy or need some back up, let them bring a friend, it will keep them happy and comfortable. Ask the parents what their rules on alcohol consumption is if they are under 18. We allow our 15 year old a couple of drinks with us, but not all parents do… its good to be clear of what their expectations are or you will end up with a teen ‘spreading their wings’ big style and you sending them home to Mum and Dad with an empty tesco bag (just in case)

6- Invite the little kids with their parents.

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No need to keep the kids with babysitters, let them join in! They can sit and enjoy the campfire, join in the daftness.. they love been involved in adult conversation and adore it when they see their adults been silly! 

When they get tired, they can bring pjs and go to bed… make a bedroom up for them all, cushions, blankets and mattresses, bowls of sweets and a number of dvds… if there are loads and they are all different ages they will look after each other. These are the parties that make memories for life.

5- Countdown to Big Ben on Radio 4.

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Forget your cheesy tv countdown.. get outside and turn radio 4 up loads.. we all have fond memories of listening to the bongs of Big Ben on a crackling radio… and if you are outside, when it does turn midnight you can pop corks and let off streamers without worrying about the mess. Just sweep it all up the next day… or the next week…

Also you probably all have more room outside to all be together and not spread over various rooms in the house… and of course you can enjoy the fireworks too.

4- Acknowledge your traditions and share with your friends.

 

My husband is half Irish and half Italian.. he has two traditions we now do every year and now our friends adore playing along. 

First one (Italian) is that you must be outside to see in the new year and the first person to enter the house must take in wood (for fuel) and silver (for money) at our house now, all our friends cheer when one of our kids goes through the door with the package…

Secondly we have new year fairies (Irish) the children put their slippers under the Christmas tree when they go to bed and the new year fairy fills them with treats for when they wake! 

3- Invite everyone to stay! 

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It may fill you with dread but folks will be greatful for the offer and not having to drive or pay expensive cab fees.

Tell them to bring air beds and bedding and fit them where you can. If you are a close friendship group like us, you’ll have a great time ‘indoor camping’ 

Also it allows everyone to really relax, we often end up sitting playing cards or watching videos till dawn, we get the left overs out and if some wants to go to bed they can… it’s much easier to just move in and have fun…everyone relaxes.

We like people feel at home, and having somewhere to go and have some peace and quiet through the night is really important to helping people relax. I generally try and show folks to their rooms before they party so they can set up home and feel like it belongs to them for the day.

2- Mornings are special

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New Years morning is just as special for me, we put the Radio on and sit around eating breakfast, drinking copious amount of tea and have a generally gentle time. It’s a lovely way to start the year.

1- don’t be afraid to relax and have a great time! .

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You don’t have to be the perfect host.. in fact if you serve and offer all night folks will feel formal and less welcome.. I always say.. ” I serve the first drink then you help yourself” it breaks the ice and instantly give folks permission to treat your home like their own. 

I don’t invite anyone I don’t trust or don’t love dearly, so I don’t have to worry about my house or belongings as I know my friends will all treat my home like their own. 

So you have to relax and enjoy too or what’s the point in spending time with everyone. Remember everyone is capable of looking after themselves so let them just do that! 

Have a great time and Happy new year!!!!

The Christmas morning police have arrived!  A guide for parents! 

So Christmas morning is no rush! We go to the bathroom, feed the cats, make brews and even tune in the radio… anything will do.. as parents it’s our duty to be downright difficult and slow on Christmas morning! 

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If you are new to the ‘parenting at Christmas’ thing then feel free to introduce these rules for the kids! 

The Christmas morning police have arrived!!!! …..

So here are ……

The O’Brien Family guidelines to children on Christmas Morning

1) You can open stockings in your beds or with each other ( do not feel the need to wake us) 

2) Do not wake us till at least 7.30am

3) we WILL make you wait before we go downstairs. Be prepared to be told to go away a minimum of six times .

4) Daddy will always go to the bathroom and keep you waiting in the kitchen listening for the toilet to flush. Mummy will make a brew, feed the cats and phone grandma before allowing you to enter the living room.

5) We will NOT enter the living room until we are ALL together and ALL have a brew in our hands.


6) Gifts (if Father Christmas brings any) will be in ordered piles, you must find your pile and wait instruction to proceed.

7) You must check the tray we left out for Santa before proceeding with any gift opening.

8) on receiving a gift…Always read the card and not just in your head.. we want to know what you received and from who too. 

9) Put wrapping paper in the bin bag provided by your gifts. 

10)Pile opened gifts neatly in your given area. You will be asked throughout the day to tidy up and return things to this pile.


Advice to parents after the opening

So what happens when they’ve done? It’s all unwrapped and they are quietly and happily playing with their ‘stuff’ 

Well my advice is to follow our lead, we will slope off to the kitchen, make brews and toast and bugger off back to bed till they’ve noticed we’ve gone! 

After all you are gonna be busy all day.. you need and deserve to gain some strength ! And.. it’s the only time in the whole year they don’t disturb you for a good few hours! Unless of course they need batteries.. or something taking out of a box, or instructions reading.. or a screw driver to open a battery pack.. my advice? …. create a little bag with a screw driver, various batteries, your reading glasses and chocolate.. this way they come to you and you don’t need to move..,

 the chocolates?…. are for breakfast! … it is Christmas!
Enjoy xxxx 

Halloween ! Stop making it into something scary! 15 reasons that proves Halloween is great!

Well I have seen so many posts and blogs telling me all about how Halloween is such a terrible thing so I decided to stand up for Halloween by answering the points made!

1Halloween goes against my Christian beliefs

Ok so dressing kids up as witches, goblins and Dracula is worshipping the devil? I think not… halloween traditionally recognises the dead ..it has evolved to do this by dressing as modern ‘spooky’ and ‘undead’ characters .  There are many celebrations and traditions over the globe that use the imagery of ‘the dead’ or ‘evil’ in their rituals. Acknowledging the darker characters in our traditions is just part of our heritage . My friend is a vicar and I asked her about her thoughts..she laughed and said ” there is a big difference between children dressing up as ghosts and ghouls to children actively worshiping and glorifying evil” she is right too! I am a Christian and I can safely say dressing up as a witch or monster doesn’t affect my faith in anyway!

2- Its begging

Really? How can it be begging when homes actively go out and buy sweets and candy to give out as well as place a pumpkin in the window to illustrate they are taking part. 

Begging is asking for money or items for no other reason that personal need ( albeit often desperate) knocking on doors all dressed up and taking a pre prepared treat is hardly the same! 

3- it’s another pagen celebration that’s been taken over and spoiled! 

Like Christmas? And all the other nutty traditions we have… it’s called history and culture ! When things evolve from its origins into something else influenced it’s simply the world creating new celebrations and cultural rituals. Christmas 50 years ago was a very different affair, it has just evolved to what we know now, new traditions are developed organically through different communities and every generation brings its own take on it. Just as Easter, mayday, whit Sunday ( this doesn’t even happen anymore) bonfire night, mischief night, New Year’s Eve? All these celebrations and rituals have either grown, changed or fizzled out… its history in the making and how the world works. 

Pretty much everyone puts up a tree and exchanged gifts at Christmas regardless if they are practising christians, it’s the same thing…  

4- children shouldn’t  be scared or frightened.

Ok then if your kids get scared easy don’t take them anywhere scary! I have a three year old who this year dressed as a pink witch and went around her neighbours knocking on doors with us. I didn’t  take her to a zombie warehouse scare fest and didn’t dress her in a butchered zombie costume… our neighbours were kind and gentle with her and any bigger kids refrained from jumping out on her.

Believe it or not most people know how to behave! 

We did do some gentle scaring tho.. saying boo to our trick or treaters and scaring Daddy with torches lighting our faces… there is a difference between engaging kids in the stuff of nightmares to a few gentle bumps and jumps…

5- ‘I’m not having kids knocking on my door all night‘ 

Ok well it’s not obligatory just don’t get involved. But ask yourself why? Communities are not what they were because people don’t get involved in things like this! 

I walked around my street and talked to people I’d never seen before.. or people I only see at Halloween…I welcomed children and families to my home and we enjoyed sharing joy among our community.

It lasted about two hours, by 8pm it was all done… some of the older generation were obviously enjoying seeing the children visit them all dressed up and all in all it was so enjoyable. 

You don’t have to join in, but if you didn’t you missed out… it was such fun.

6– ‘the kids have gone out but I closed the curtains and hid.. they better not knock on my door’ 

So you let your children get involved and watch as they enjoy visiting members of your community collecting treats… but you don’t give any thing back to your community yourself? 

Mmmm really? 

My favourite were the houses that for years didn’t join in and moved into the back of the house every Halloween to avoid the kids knocking for treats.. then all of a sudden their child is old enough to want to join in and they are all dressed up , house decorated and knocking on your door!!! Community is life long guys! You can’t just take the cream off the top!!!! 

7– it’s commercialised

You mean you can buy cool stuff these days? Hell yeah! It’s ace! 

When I was a kid you couldn’t get anything! A plastic mask that cracked immediately and scratched your face and a carved turnip! I would have loved all the stuff you can get now! 

From costumes to props! It’s all super fab! Yeah to commercialism !  

Btw I only bought pumpkins and a witch costume for my lot! We have in the past gone mad and decorated the whole house and had a party tho it was super fun! 

Just remember you don’t have to buy stuff!

8- It’s American

Well not really… we have always had Halloween it’s just more popular in America and they make more effort …we are following suit… we are just a bit late catching up.

Just to point out that the ‘Santa’ we see now in red clothes is from America , Christmas trees are from Norway , baubles and gingerbread are from Germany and it was the Norwegians that started the Christmas tradition of gift delivering by Santa.

We collect ritual and tradition from across the globe over history .. it makes up our diverse cultures! 

We don’t have to boycott things because other countries did them first…. it is 2016! Surely your not saying if America does it we shouldn’t? 

9– the clubs are full of young people in inappropriate and frightening costumes.

Oh dear.. maybe stay at home this weekend. 

Great excuse to dress up though if you fancy a change from the usual short skirts and heels! 

10- it’s all over the internet, Facebook and twitter have been going on about it for weeks! 

That because people have been getting excited for it. When people are giddy they post and share stuff. 

There has also been tons of stuff about the American election too… now that’s a real nightmare! Firstly it’s American and it involves real life scary and evil characters and they are all begging and trying to manipulate people… cripes I think they should ban it! … 

11- kids are wondering the streets in the dark on their own..it’s not safe! . some are causing trouble! 

Well I guess it’s the safest time to go out as a child on your own… with the streets so busy with children and families and doors opening and closing all the time. It’s great kids can use this night as a practise for when they inevitably have to be alone in the outdoor world! 

It’s a shame some kids cause trouble …. but it happens… let’s hope the masses of non trouble causing Halloween goers make the odd trouble causer feel too self conscious to be naughty! 

12- full families are dressed up and going door to door.!!!!

Aw how nice ! Love to see families getting silly together..spending time together and going out together….this will surely make you happy as you don’t want to see kids out on their own causing chaos?!

Stop moaning, stop looking for negativity and join in.. you never know you might have fun.

Papal preparations 

So we go in the morning! I am totally in prepared but tbh there’s not too much to do! 

Bit of a crisis bank  money wise, my bloody back card was pushed through the cheese grater ( don’t ask) so of course it won’t scan and I need to get a new one . This takes 5 days and I go tomorrow! 

So it looks like I’m carrying cash! Fingers crossed it’s all ok! I’m sure I can use some of dads techniques for distributing it.

I’ll be spending the time ironing, packing and tidying today. Hopefully I’ll get a good nights sleep as I need to drag the kids up and out to set off at 4am ! 

What you buy the Pope?

So guess where we are going on Tuesday! Yup, the clue is in the title… we are going to Rome. But that’s not all we will be meeting the pope! A personal meeting no less! 

William has been invited to attend with other children from across Europe with ED, the condition he and his sister both have.

So we fly Tuesday morning and meet the big man on Wednesday morning. We have a lunch and a couple of trips all thrown in and on Thursday we intend to hop on a tour bus and do Rome in a day.. no matter what they say! 

It’s a funny thing telling people you are meeting the pope. Some get totally excited and say ‘wow’ while others just shrug it off. It’s a funny old thing.

So we have our list of things we need to remember, what to call him, what not to say and what you should wear.

I’m not allowed to wear trousers and my dress must cover my shoulders, boobs and knees! This was harder that I thought to find! Although I have something sorted and when I tried it on the kids agreed it was suitable but also agreed I looked boring and a bit like a Victorian nanny! 

Kitty needs to wear white so that’s easy as she has a pretty white dress. William needs to be in a dark suit which is proving to be tough! He’s not the most compliant of formal dressers! We are trying on tonight! 

The most worrying thing of all is that I’ve been nominated to provide the gift from the English families! Cripes! What does one buy the pope???? 

I asked my friends on Facebook and I had a wide range of ideas, some of my favourites were a ‘pope on a rope’ soap and ‘pope designed cupcakes’ although I’m not sure one of the most powerful men on the planet will be allowed to sample my baking! 

So after much deliberation I have decided to create a painting, he took the name ‘Francis’ who was a lover of animals, environment and children. So that needs to be my subject matter.. still stumped as yet and I only have a two hour window to make this happen tomorrow night! So I’m trying to decide what to use as my subject matter. 

My other concern is how I will cope travelling on my own with a three year old and eleven year old on my own. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I have a limited budget and  limited Italian ! So we will see… any advise appreciated! 

So that’s it.. I’ve not packed or anything yet as I’m working all weekend.. it’s gonna be tight but it’s nothing new for us! 

Will keep you informed! 

Insurance… please pay up… three times!!!! 

We are currently dealing with three insurance claims! 3!!!! I can’t quite believe how unlucky we are or how desperate we are for them to pay up! 

We are still waiting to hear if the insurers will pay for our caravan, ( four months on from the accident) Also we have a huge hole in our kitchen that we are waiting for a plumber and builder to give us quotes ( they came out to inspect it yesterday) and then mr O had to get them out to replace his windscreen after a stone hit and cracked it! 

  • I’m praying they all pay up as all together there is about 12k of monies needed! This is a lot! 

It concerns me how quickly insurers take money from us when we join up but then take weeks and weeks to decide if they pay out or not.. our Christmas budget is hanging in the Balance right now so fingers crossed!!!! 

Day in the life of a mum with a migraine! 

7am wake up, feeling good. Get the boy ready for school.

8.20am push boy out of the door kicking and screaming, blackmail him with empty promises of a download for his Xbox when he gets home.  Toddler still in bed..bonus.. drink tea. 

8.30am decide to sweep floor, get brush out of cupboard, everything collapses. Pull everything out of cupboard in a strop. Tidy cupboard! Even wiping down the dust pan and brush, vac and bottles of cleaner.. everything looks grubby! Empty overflowing plastic bag holder ( it’s supposed to hold 100 bags… fooking lying twunts) become strangely and manicly obsessed with fitting 100 plastic bags in holder. Fit 25 bags in holder and stuff rest behind the (very clean) bottles of window and surface cleaner. 

9am close cupboard door and sweep up a sleepy toddler who is very angry to have found herself waking up alone and not with her mummy besides her with her amazing milk producing boobies!

9.05am sit on sofa wrapped in blanket providing toddler with morning milk! 

9.10am cereal is provided and more tea made

9.15am wipe up spilt cereal and tea from rug. 

9.20am make mistake of asking toddler what she wants to wear…. 

9.25am toddler bounces happily downstairs in Minnie Mouse tutu dress, odd socks, two head bands, gloves and swimming cap. I shout ‘good morning’ at 18 year old.

9.30 make tea. Start cleaning kitchen and tidying up after morning chaos. 

11.30am shout to 18 year old to wake up and she responds with the response she deserves a lie in as she’s been busy all week. I want to explain a couple of hours work over two days doesn’t warrant a two day holiday .

12noon make lunch for toddler and myself, we snuggle on sofa after to watch ‘we can cook’

12.05pm I see a flashing in the corner of my eye… shit.. migraine alert. Lay head back on sofa and try pretend it’s not there. 

12.15pm flashing now has stabbing pain and I think a fairy came and tied a rope tightly around my head. Think through scenarios .. how can I get to sleep this off before it blows ! 

12.30pm body feels heavy, toddler thinks it’s the best afternoon ever, she is on her third cartoon and mummy is still sat besides her. Text 18 year old 

“Don’t suppose you could look after Kitty for me, I have migraine need to sleep it off”

Nothing

12.40pm text again.. the though of standing or shouting upstairs makes me want to cry. 

12.50 hear footsteps… 18 year old arrives with questions about her iTunes account.. fake emails detected and dismissed… I ask carefully if she can look after her sister while I sleep off head ache. I’m reminded she has a cold but will do it anyway.

12.55 crawl into bed, best feeling ever . Fall into a deep sleep where the pain of the migraine sits quietly in my dreams .

1pm. “MUMMY ? ” I jump awake ” what’s matter ? Is kitty ok?” “Yeah where is the lid for the blender?” I mumble ” I don’t know I’ll look later” she tuts and stomps off, toddler in tow. 

1.05 I fall back to sleep only slightly wondering why she needs the lid for the blender.

1.25 “mummy” I jump awake ” what’s matter” ( head feels like it’s going to explode) ” look we picked some apples” toddler holds put a box of freshly picked apples for me to see. I see them through blurred eyes and mumble encouraging words about baking later. I sink back into a sleep head pounding. 

2pm “mummy? Mummy? MUMMY! ” can’t jump up anymore head has been filled with lead. I choose to groan instead ” are you getting up yet? I’ve been looking after kitty all day now and I have to go out”  I groan ” you’ve only had her an hour and woke me up three times , can’t you just let me sleep a bit.. get her jigsaws out?” ” I. Have. To. Get ready!” “When you going ?” ” about 6″ “it’s only two now” “MUMMY IVE HAD HER ALL DAY” 

2.30pm lay on sofa with quilt and pillow, toddler playing jigsaws.. cartoons playing on loop  .

3.30pm boy arrived home..”can I buy the download?”   

3.35 boy runs upstairs with my bank card.

3.45 stagger into kitchen to make toddler some choclate milk. Find a blender full of berries with a food processor lid balanced on the top. It remained unblemded… my eyes grate towards a box of apples bobbing about in a water filled toy box.. there is a vague realisation that the very same toy boy was full of bricks this morning. 

3.55pm back on sofa, toddler happily drinks chocolate  milk. I rub my foot which is throbbing from standing on the pile of toy bricks . I can hear cartoons playing , I’m not sure if it’s in my head or in the room.. I slip into the half awake sleep that all mums do.

4.30pm daughter number two arrived home and babysits. I go to bed for second time

8.30pm wake up feeling like I’ve been run over by a combine harvester. Can her husbands voice and clattering pans.

8.35pm stagger down the stairs to check everyone is ok. Step into kitchen and see the chaos! Sink over flowing with pots. A random apple crumble (still attached to the bottom of the tin) sits on the side in a beach of crumbs that spread across every surface and floor. Tea things are everywhere, leftovers on plates and pans and serving bowls fill the sides. 

8.36pm return to bed. 

8am wake up with no head ache. Kitty is sleeping next to me in yesterday’s clothes and her tea still around her mouth. I hear everyone getting ready to leave.I am pleased they are all alive and greatful I slept. 

9am I’m dressed, showered and energised. 

9pm finally sit down after clearing the mess from my ‘night off’ yes that’s right my ‘night off’ not one but two of my brood said I’d had a ‘night off’ it took me a full day to clean the house and mess. 

So I’m wondering what will happen when I go away next week for four whole days! Will the house still be standing? The thought of it gives me a headache!