For whom the (school) bell tolls.

I am in such a maelstrom of thought and emotion, the weeks seem to be galloping past, the start of school for my big girl is looming so quickly. The summer stretched ahead of us like a long, blissful haze of joy but then it started speeding by and now we are mere days away from the start of the new chapter. Neither of us know what to expect. Emotions are high in us both. I know she is nervous. She is showing so many signs of trying to dictate things and I’m sure it’s because she feels that the whole school thing is out of her control, she told me recently that she wasn’t going to go to school as she ‘just didn’t fancy it’. I tried to explain that she will have a wonderful time and all her friends are going to be there and that she would settle in slowly. Over 6 weeks in fact! She wasn’t to be convinced. She doesn’t like the colour of her uniform, wants to stay at her preschool. wants to stay with her brother, lots of things that were quite the opposite just a few weeks ago. So I am a bit stuck, trying to make this the best summer ever, without spoiling them, because I’m worried they are turning into wanting whingers. Mainly because all I hear is ‘I want’!! In a whinge! Damn Lelli Kellis with their carriage make up set and hair colour wand! If you have escaped this so far, you have definitely not been resorting to milkshake pre 8 am as I have. (Well done by the way, please could you wing some tips my way! 😉 ) Things have improved slightly since I told them that they can buy whatever they like when they have their own money. Now they just list everything they will buy when they are older. Which is a lot!

So we are having this conflict, I’m trying to make it nice, and she is behaving horrendously. It is stressful. For both of us I’m sure. The fighting between the siblings is off the scale. We are having marginal success with the Castle reward chart but more often then not I am being shouty mum. Home shouty. When we are out as well. Which is making me look a little terrible and deranged.

Then I’m sad again. And so it continues. Mood swings and roundabouts. Literally!!

So today we had a mummy daughter day. Small boy was at nursery and I took big girl into town after we dropped him off. I decided that there would be no cakes and buying things though. It was a treat free treat day, if that makes any sense! Behaviour of late didn’t warrant any treats but I wanted to do something special and spend some quality time together, we were meeting her friends for a swim later so had the morning free.

They have been running free craft sessions in our local shopping centre, it is so lovely. Today was bracelet making, and we had so much fun!

Excited face Soexcited Startbracelet

It was absolutely brilliant and we had a such a wonderful time, things were so much better just the two of us and I think we both benefited from some peaceful time without any arguing. Plus she has got a beautiful bracelet now, aaaand we went in to the shop that was running all the crafts and bought Wilma our new camper van a beautiful present.

Finished bracelet     Bunting

Please tell me I’m not alone in this! All I want is for it to be special and I feel like it is anything but!! I’m scared that I’ll look back and regret that this time hasn’t been totally magic and sparkle and joy. I suppose it’s just been real life really!

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Today I made my children a dungeon.

Yes really, a dungeon with bars on the window and a giant padlock on the door. Before you phone the NSPCC, let me reassure you that it is in paper form! The summer holidays have really taken their toll and behaviour has slid down into the realms of horrendous, so I came up with the idea of a castle reward chart. There would be paths up and when, (if!!!), they reached the castle, they could have a treat.

Even with a scary dragon!
Even with a scary dragon!

I decided to make it with big girl, so she would really feel invested in the project and hopefully take it more seriously. We drew it together and I printed out photos of both children and we dressed them up in costumes, princess for big girl and small boy is a gallant knight. (May be a stereotype but that is what they wanted, I would have happily let them switch if they wished.) He has less steps on his path as he is almost two years younger and she has more opportunities to step forward up her path, with things like having her hair brushed without protest on the list.

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When we had finished, it was pretty late and we just put it straight on the wall, but it was looking a little bit bland.

It was looking a bit bland apart from big girl's beautifully decorated windows!
It was looking a bit bland apart from big girl’s beautifully decorated windows!

Sophieprincess Ozzyknight

Luckily, the princess and the knight were looking pretty fabulous! Especially with the sequins little miss filched out of my sewing box! 🙂 I’m not convinced about the princess’s lipstick if I’m honest, but she did ask for it. Then complained I’d coloured in her mouth!

Colours  HappydragonJester

So we got the colours out and had a little fun creating some extra characters and adding in some bright splashes. Oh, and a dungeon….behaviour today was that bad! It is hopefully going to be a good incentive, especially with the (slightly!), scary dragon standing guard!!

All finished!
All finished!

We sat down at the table and worked out a list of behaviours that would take them down the path, we have 3 main categories in each, and expanded on them a little bit underneath. When I was writing it out, it was a little jumbled as I had an awful lot of suggestions coming at me that were pretty noisy and interesting so my tenses are all over the shop, but luckily they can’t read yet! You get the general idea though!

NegativePositive

They seemed to get the general idea so I’m hoping that they start to improve on things soon! I don’t feel like we’re asking the world from them, just a bit of mutual respect and tidying up after themselves, I don’t think you can ever be too young to learn to behave well.

They are just seeming very spoilt at the moment and I know a lot of that is our fault always doling out the treats! They are going to need to earn them from now on! I think it’s a great act of love to teach them these things as well as to shower them with hugs and kisses and lessen the flow of material goods.

Or that’s the plan anyway!! Anything to stop the cacophony of ‘I wants’ that I seem to be hearing. They get a small treat when they reach the jester and something bigger when they get to the castle drawbridge.

In this case, a trip to a big farm park that I handily already had tickets to. 🙂

Close up dragon Close up jester Scary dragon close

Gifford’s Circus. A review. A very very good one!

This morning didn’t have the most auspicious start I’ve got to admit. I’m not a big drinker usually but this weekend just happened to include two nights out in a row. Including last night when Mr PB and I accidently crashed a wedding. No seriously. It honestly was a genuine error though. We arrived at the venue that Mr PB had written down carefully on the calendar before putting the invite into the recycling, (maybe now he will stop moaning at me for keeping everything!!), we were a little late and flustered and weren’t too phased that we didn’t recognize anyone, we only really knew the groom after all!

We headed straight for the bar and got a drink, and after about 10 minutes of looking round, slowly came to the realisation that we may not be at the right wedding, Mr PB refused to believe we, (he!), could make such an error, until it was 100% confirmed when we went for a tactical look at the cards on the gift table, oh yes,and meeting the father of the groom was a hint too!

Amazingly, we managed to style it out, and while Mr PB went off to try and get hold of his friend, without his phone, and mine without his friend’s number in, my conscience had me standing at the bar trying to subtly explain to the barman our predicament and pay for our drinks, as I couldn’t live with myself knowing that the lovely gift of the first drink being on the bride and groom, was going to go to two people they’d never met!

It just shows that it pays to be honest, because the barman took our drinks off their tab without making me pay for them, and also told me it happened quite a bit and gave me directions to another hotel with a very similar name. And so we made it out without being rumbled, near hysterical with relieved giggles, thinking that surely this must qualify as a tick on our bucketlists!! Luckily, pulling up at the second wedding venue of the night, a large sign on with the name of the bride and groom on put our mind at rest, my faith in Mr PB’s ability to write any details down properly severely shaken, worrying that we were a day late! (Can you imagine?!)

Real relief that we'd found the right wedding!!!
Real relief that we’d found the right wedding!!!

So there we were this morning, feeling a little daunted by the planned trip to see Gifford’s Circus that afternoon, not sure what to expect and feeling pretty fragile, when my poor friend texts to say that both herself and her daughter were too un-well to go. With the planned pre-show picnic pressure off, (I was barely able to decide what to put in a sandwich, let alone make four!), we decided to just stop at the airport on the way back from collecting the car. It is the coolest airport I’ve been to, there is a pub right next to it, with a garden that the runway practically cuts right through.

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Feeling much better after a very unhealthy breakfast in the sunshine watching the planes, we stopped off at home for a change into shorts, (very unexpected to see the sun!), and to grab some snacks and sun cream before driving the incredibly scenic route to one of Britain’s real beauty spots, Minchinhampton Common.

The circus was well signposted, and once we arrived, there was ample parking for visitors and around the pristine white big top were very quaint, old-fashioned, burgundy vans selling reasonably priced food, snacks and various other concessions. There were also plenty of toilets which is always brilliant with a high ratio of small people present.

We arrived about half an hour early and already there were short queues to enter the big top, but with two entrances, the lines moved quickly and it was a very smooth and stress-free process to get everyone in and seated. We easily managed to get seats in the second row back from the ring where all the excitement would happen, which was lucky as there is no set seating allocation.

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We waited for a short while, the excitement palpable, (as you can see above!), before the hilarious Tweedie the Clown came out to start things off and entertain everyone while the last people found seats and sat down. He was absolutely brilliant and very quickly had all the children in the audience in absolute belly aching hysterics. The adults were all in fits as well actually!

This sort of hilarity!
                 This sort of hilarity!

Please believe me when I tell you that to me, from exciting start until the echo of the last clap dies away, Gifford’s Circus is everything that is right in this world and that is written with no exaggeration!

I wasn’t sure what to expect before we went, we’d never been before, but I’d heard very good things and my friend had told me it was brilliant when she asked if we wanted to get tickets to go with her. It costs £22 for an adult ticket and £14 for a child over three and I’m totally happy to say that it was worth every penny.

It exceeded all my expectations of what a circus should be like, and then some. The costumes were exquisite, not what I imagined they’d be, all ball room style sparkly leotards, but more carefully handmade traditional costumes that really helped add to the very real illusion that you had entered another world and time altogether.

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The show was two hours in total, including a perfectly timed interval, and was the perfect mix of breath-taking stunts and magic tricks, amazingly well trained horses, comedy, showmanship, fun, wonderful music and loads of laughter.

It was a real highlight for me when the two gorgeous, happy dogs bounded into the ring, obviously loving their roles! You can tell when animals are happy and enjoying performing and all the animals involved in the production looked incredibly well cared for, beautifully groomed and as if they wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world at that moment.

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We were lucky enough to get seats right next the musicians because they were a show in themselves, fabulous costumes and some incredibly talented players that used a whole array of different instruments to bring the story to life. They were so good that small boy spent a fair amount of time just watching them.

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The many acts included contortion, juggling, aerial acrobatics, tumbling, jokes and slapstick, all neatly telling a story and leading seamlessly from one act to another. Some of the acts performed stunts that looked so dangerous and skilled that the whole audience was rendered silent, it took a moment’s pause after they’d finished for us all to regain the ability to react, before the whole audience would burst into wild cheers and clapping.

The whole show was so well executed and the thing I think I liked most was the sheer enjoyment of everyone involved, animals included, and you really get the sense that everyone loves working together and had as much fun performing their acts as we did watching them.

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Everyone seemed to really support each other and it was a real pleasure to watch.

The end was fabulous with a whole cast choreographed dance, and after, all the children were invited to join in. Our two, whilst usually erring on the cautious side where audience participation is involved, were out of their seats and in the ring in a flash, both desperate to be a part of the fun. Small boy even got a ride on a tumbler’s shoulders which he was beyond thrilled about!

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I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone reading how I felt about Gifford’s Circus, I LOVED it, and all I want to do now is learn a skill and run away and join them! 😉 At one point during the astonishing tumbling, big girl leaned in to me and whispered that one day she’d like to be an act in the circus. If it ever happens, I will be one proud Mama!

They were genuinely excellent and I have no doubt that it will be our family tradition to go for many many years to come.

Train journeys with kids v train journeys alone. How one is so much better than the other, can you guess which?!

I have compiled this handy comparison for you in case, like me, it has been a very long time since you have had the pleasure of travelling solo, and have forgotten what it can actually be like and are starting to loose all hope. (Hint; it’s sooooo much better & you will get to do it again one day, even if it really doesn’t feel like it now!!)

Pre- journey preparation.

With kids: Arrive at the station a few minutes before the train is due to leave even though you were up at least four hours before, this is down to things like last minute clothing debates, (whether they need them on), hair brushing, (see previous post!) and a battle to fit all the travel ‘essentials’ into one bag that isn’t a massive suitcase.

These ‘essentials’ include but are not limited to, wet-wipes, four different types of minimal mess snack, more then one drink as you can’t all share one, (and really don’t want to, toddler snack backwash anyone?!), a selection of sticker books, toys that will be abandoned within seconds of being seen, special teddies and blankets and various other tat they absolutely promise to carry themselves despite all the evidence to the contrary, (every other journey ever plus the fact that you are already trying to stuff them into your bag!), oh and a few bits for you like the tickets, the money that will be with you precisely until the trolley pulls up next to you and relieves you of the lot, and a phone to call up everyone you know and live-share the trauma of the journey.

Without kids. Pop your laptop, a magazine and a few other bits into a bag. Kiss your kids goodbye and trot perkily to the car, revelling in not being the harried mother chicken for once, coaxing her reluctant brood out of the house by means of chocolate buttons.
Have a nice leisurely journey full of adult conversation with your lovely Dad, using full sentences and really enjoying an opportunity to listen to his answers for the first time in about 5 years, also not getting the ‘car journey neck crick’ that comes from attempting to sort things out in the back every 3 minutes.
Feel as if you have gone back 10 years. Get out of the car and walk to the platform, be shocked and amazed that you are actually 20 minutes early and have more time to chat, not for you the last minute flurry of desperate wees, lost teddies and hair tearing, edge of panic attempts to stop anyone going on the track/getting in the drivers carriage/escaping.

When the train arrives you push the button yourself and serenely alight the train, wave a relaxed and happy goodbye, find a seat and sit down.

The journey itself.

With kids. Attempt to find 3 seats together. Whilst dragging an overstuffed bag at the point of explosion, a reluctant toddler who just wants to see the outside of the train and a stupid folded up buggy because you missed the rack on the way in.
By now you are slightly sweaty and a bit shouty. But public shouty. Which is more through gritted teeth then home shouty, which is just loud.

Once the seats have been found and the arguments resolved about who sits where, the multiple seat changes carried out, the repeated recriminations about standing on the furniture dished out, you endure several hours of frantically attempting to point out interesting things out of the window while silently loosing the will to live when you faux cheerfully/ near hysterically attempt to draw their attention away from the other passengers and their funny hair/big tummies/weird eyes, (why does sound carry so much in a train carriage, I bet the person who had the life hack idea of using a pringles tube as a speaker

Real thing see!!

was a parent who had just got off the train with their young hyper-observant and very stridently voiced children!!), and alternate between opening and distributing snacks, retrieving toys with wheels from either the front or back of the train, depending on the incline, and trying not to let them drink from your water bottle with a mouthful of crisps healthy organic wheat puffs without offending them or damaging their self esteem by allowing your disgust to show through.

Without kids. Settle into your seat, open your laptop and feel slightly amazed that there is a plug socket right next to you. Consider for a moment how handy that is.
Start writing a brilliantly funny 😉 post about your journey and intersperse it with small breaks to admire the stunning scenery, read your magazine and listen to a quite frankly hilarious conversation between a mother and daughter that renders you unable to keep from actually laughing out loud, (instead of just abbreviating it), and joining in their friendly banter.

Exchange pleasantries with the person opposite you and feel a pang of guilt that you got the last tea from the trolley and your neighbour would have to wait half an hour for the next chance to have one, on a train in Britain to run out of tea seems unthinkable! Put your hot beverage on the table next to you and leave it to cool down a bit, then leisurely drink it at optimum tea temperature.

Plan your 45 minute wait at your change station with glee. Think about what lunch you will have and flick through your magazine to see if there are any clothes you like because if your foggy memory serves you rightly, there are some shops there and with just a tiny handbag and your laptop bag, you can easily pop in and browse.

Breathe a contented sigh!

The change.

With kids. Gather together all of your things, and their things, and the things they have somehow accumulated, which CANNOT be thrown away. Like the stirrer from the tea you bought but ended up having to hold in the air above your head until it cooled down enough to not cause any injury if, (when!), it was inevitably knocked over .

Herd the children to the exit, reclaiming the buggy on the way as you finally found a space on the luggage rack to wedge it, first removing the 8 suitcases that are pinning it down and using your foot to hold small boy against the wall so he doesn’t get shut in the automatic doors/off the train when it stops.

Realise that 45 minutes is either very long or a really really short time to be on a station depending on how the mood is. Look at the very cross and tired small boy attempting to release himself by biting your ankle and sigh becuase you know that it is going to feel like a very very long time but will seem impossible to get everything done in the time and you will end up late, running and shouty. Miss the train shouty, which is very loud, very panicked and draws a lot of attention from everyone but your own children who are busy looking in a shop window, getting their trunkis entangled and trying to get on the escalator going to the wrong platform.

Try and find the hidden lift as there is no way you’ll get everyone up the escalator safely, look round for someone to give you your prize when you eventually get to it, after all, every other place we visit seems to issue prices for making it to the end of a very long and frustrating mystery trail involving lots of cryptic clues and arrows that seem to lead you further and further from the place you need to get back to.

Referee the button push wars outside and in the lift, and try to stop buggy tipping over now that your overflowing,  seam straining bag is on it and small boy point blank refuses to get in it.

Try to look at the screens to prepare yourself for which end of the station you need to be on for the next leg of your endurance test journey, this involves not loosing the children on the concourse while you try and locate your destination on the giant screens that take up half the wall, not having a clue where the end of the line actually is, and so needing to read the rapidly scrolling text of every train on every station platform, going to the whole of the UK.
[Top tip. Most of my blog is tongue in cheek but we’ve not made it this far unscathed(ish!) without picking up a few pointers on the way, (the big ones like; never leave the house with a baby and no nappies or spare clothes. No mater how many times you changed their nappy that morning, there can always be more, and it will go ‘up the back’, and probably the front and out the sides to boot!), another more relevant one is; in a busy crowd situation, I get a child to hold on each side of the buggy which helps me know that they are close and safe. It will also keep them fairly occupied checking that the other isn’t letting go so they can tell on each other. It is a really good tip and works fine if they are both in an acquising mood, you don’t need to fit through anywhere narrow and they don’t engage in a battle over who gets to hold the carrying handle which is only on one side, very low down and really not that interesting!]
Then it’s lunch, where you attempt to find somewhere with enough room for all your -rubbish- valuable stuff, has food that everyone will eat, is near your platform and won’t require a bank loan to pay at the end.

Enjoy a usual meal of cutting up other people’s food, picking bits out of things and scrubbing everyone down with a wet-wipe before they touch you.

Find and board the next train, trying to keep everyone and everything upright, un-squashed, together and happy, and repeat journey with kids section above.

Arrive home in need of a good cry and a cup of tea. Secretly high five-ing yourself on your amazing ability to survive just about anything life can throw at you and idly considering putting yourself forward for the next Bear Grylls survival show because compared to that, it looks like a doddle…..plus it means several un-contactable weeks in the peaceful jungle. Ahhhh, bliss!

Without kids. Glide over to the information boards, find your train easily and note your platform, pick anywhere you fancy for lunch, even with limited access, spicy food or….stairs! Gasp! Then have a leisurely stroll round the shops, and mooch to the platform in plenty of time for your train.

Repeat journey section without children as described above, and arrive home chilled, relaxed and with another blog post under your belt, ready to kick back and enjoy the rest of your day, or in my case, have an hour to turn around and get back out for a wedding photography shoot, (behind the lens this time!), and off to a hotel for a frankly hilarious and brilliant murder mystery evening in a castle. Yes a real castle!

Slightly hungover attempting to emulate a creepy-as gargoyle!
Slightly hungover attempting to emulate a creepy-as gargoyle!

More on that to follow soon. Next time I have a long uninterrupted journey somewhere! 😉

A very sad story.

I want to start out by saying that I’m not a judgmental person. I consider myself to be very easy going and accepting of people but I recently discovered something that shocked me so much I feel I have to write about it.

Before about two years ago, I knew very little about the Jehovah’s Witness religion apart from the fact that they wear suits and knock on your door trying to convert you. At a push I’d also be able to tell you that they don’t allow blood transfusions at all even if someone only has that as a chance of survival.

So I was not on board with their methods and ideas but pretty ambivalent to them in a live and let live sort of way. Until I met a lovely girl on the bus. We were both with our kids, (or so I thought at the time), and we grinned at each other and I instantly knew she would be someone special in my life. For a start, she shared my policy of smiling at strangers to see where it would lead. What is that cheesy quote, “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet”, I think that is pretty apt where this situation is concerned! So we exchanged a few pleasantries across the aisle and I can’t remember if it was that day or whether we bumped into each other again not long after, but we ended up walking to the same destination one day and chatting away, I learned that she was a nanny and she told me all about some wonderful things going on in the area for families. After that, we became friends on facebook, and the rest, as they say is history!

She is a wonderful, gentle, caring person with a heart of gold, who has time for everyone, treats my children as if they are her own and goes the extra mile for someone everyday, and today, she buried her father. However, this beloved father, who she was so close to as a girl, teenager and through her twenties, refused to see her, even when he knew he was dying. Her heartfelt letters and cards were read and considered but the answer was always the same, that he would not see her until she did one thing.

Which was what you might wonder. Well, the one little thing she had to do if she had any hope of seeing him before he died, was to sit at the back of a room, every weekend, ignored by everyone there, for years, repenting of her ‘sins’, until it was decided she was forgiven, by which time he would have lost his battle to cancer anyway.

What was her big crime? She chose to leave the religion. The second she made that life altering decision, she was dead to her friends, her family, everything she knew. She had been in a horrible abusive relationship, but was unable to leave while still a witness, so she finally came around to the way of thinking that something that made her live such a life of unhappiness in the name of ‘God’ may not be something that is as amazing as she had been told since birth. She finally drew on every ounce of strength she had and freed herself from both the marriage and the religion. The price she paid was so high. Everyone she ever knew, pretends she doesn’t exist. She wasn’t allowed to mix much with her ‘wordly’ family,the family who weren’t in the religion, so didn’t know them very well and anyone that was in the faith was banned from talking to her.

Today’s funeral was an experience that I found quite shocking. I have had a Christian upbringing, and despite not feeling religious now, I still live by the principles of doing unto others as you would be done by, and trying to be a good Samaritan. I am also always welcome in the church, and not just because my mum is a Vicar, but because there is no judgement about my choice. My friend was told that her dad had specifically requested that she was not present at the wake and that she may attend the funeral itself but she should sit at the back. She received a phone call from an Elder to reiterate this the day before the funeral.

Thankfully, she had some moral support along to help her stay strong. Her husband, myself, and four friends that are also ex-witnesses. She had already decided that she did not want to sit at the back, she wanted to sit at the front, with the rest of the family. So we made our way to a row near the front and sat down, taking up a whole row.

Their presence was obviously causing a stir amongst the witnesses. One lady swung around with an enormous welcoming smile, until she registered who they were, you could see the process of realisation and the smile was gone and shock was quickly replaced by an impassive mask before she turned away. The only people who spoke to my friend were her non-JW family and people who either didn’t realise who she was, or who mistook her for her sister, who isn’t a JW but never has been so it is fine for them to talk to. As soon as they registered who she was it got very awkward and they quickly extracted themselves from the conversation and scuttled off, as if scared.

The man doing the service was obviously nervous, there was a lot of exaggerated lip licking and every time he caught the eye of anyone on our row, he would stumble over his words. He read a lot of versus from his bible and would relate them to the deceased, the main theme of the whole ceremony was not the person that had passed away, but how he was so devout, the many ways he had shown his great servitude and how everything was fantastic because he had so much faith, and even the great pain of his illness was a good thing as he felt it had brought him closer to his Jehovah God. There was a lot of emphasis on not feeling sad as he would meet them all again in the resurrection, (only the witnesses of course, and only a certain number of them), so they should all be happy about that. There was talk about what a good preacher he was, how much faith he had and how his faith had helped him through making some very tough decisions. Like cutting off his own daughter perhaps?

I was left with just an overwhelming sense of sadness, not just for the people cast out from everything they know for making a life choice, but also for the Witnesses themselves. They face a hideous choice, to either never speak to a beloved family member again, to see their child, their sibling, their mother or father suffer, to loose a very best friend you have had from childhood, to have to ignore them if they see them on the street, to face the recrimination of someone deeply hurt attempting to get answers from them, or be faced with the same fate themselves. The pain of that happening over and over again must be unbearable.

As a parent myself now, there is not a thing in the world that my children could do to cause me to cut them off. It would be too hard. But this is what is happening to children and parents all over the world. All because they left the religion, some for reasons like abuse. The more I found out, the more I started to research and what I discovered broke my heart, videos of a son, trying desperately to get his dad to acknowledge and talk to him to no avail. Stories of people that never got to see their beloved family member before they died. The people we were with all had their own stories, that they had lost parents never getting a chance to say ‘I love you’ one last time. One lady I was talking to is too afraid to go into her town because she has only recently left and still feels the gaping hole in her life, she knows that if she does go out, not one of her old friends is allowed to even acknowledge her existence. She is nothing to them, and that is too much for her to deal with at the moment.

I think it says something about my friend that despite these people’s stories, despite their fears about walking into a place filled with people that consider them dead and are most definitely not happy at their presence, ignored by aunties, cousins, former friends, they all travelled over an hour each way to sit by her side. Luckily, her story has a happy ending, despite being left utterly penniless after her JW first husband cleared out their joint bank account and her family disowned her, she is now happily married, with a fabulous family of her choosing, of which I’m blessed to be a part of, and a very successful business. The chains that bound her down are long gone and she is in a very good place. Sadly not everyone who leaves is so lucky.

For help, support and information about anything I’ve written about, these sites have lots of information and contact details.

http://jwfacts.com/    http://jwhelp.org/   http://jwvictims.org/  http://aawa.co/  http://www.towerwatch.org/

 

Edited to add that all the members of my friend’s father’s family are not Witnesses and so our presence did not disrupt the funeral for them, they couldn’t understand why my friend could not be there and have always hated the rifts the religion caused in their family.

The ‘allergic to’ series.

Oh I do like to be beside the C C C!

I’ve decided to do my alphabet letter posts separately. They seem a bit lost & disjointed at the end of the posts!

Today is the turn of C. It was a little tricky actually!

Here goes;

I’ve yet to find a seriously hard letter to omit from a paragraph. Will this be the one, I find myself wondering? Not really if I’m honest. I’ve stumbled a few times, it’s needed a few edits but nothing major really and I’ve yet to resort to a thesaurus, maybe if I try to write in the moment.

As I write, I am sat at the glorious boat housing area in a well known large town with a giant landmark religious building, enjoying a hot beverage that is not tea with my faithful boy at my feet. Now that was not so easy! 😅 

Any guesses where I am?
 
Look at that face!! Happy birthday old man. 11 yesterday!
 
 

Is the supermarket actually some sort of time vortex?

So yesterday evening we lost around 2 hours in a well known large supermarket! I mean, it has happened before, one of my besties and I genuinely lost 4 hours in a supermarket several years back! We had no idea how, I think it’s because we lived in a village with no big supermarkets nearby and so a trip to visit one was a whole day event. I don’t even think we left with very much and doubtfully any food, probably just a pizza if anything!

Anyways, this was not one of those times! This time was just me and two under fives! A trip to the toy shop preceded the supermarket, and so we started out with far too large toys in hand. We had already spent 20 minutes sitting in the toy shop car park attempting to rip all the packaging from the toddler Aurora doll, (Even her hair was stitched to the box! This is weird no?!*), and building this flimsy spiderman heli-seat that shoots some sort of harpoon thing and falls apart way too easily.

We’d negotiated the very heavy traffic that had built up in the time we’d spent in the car park, with small boy under strict instructions not to harpoon the driver or his sister, and parked up at the supermarket.

After a good five minutes of collecting together all the bits and climbing back in and out of the car enough times for the car wash guys to ask us three times if we wanted our car done, thinking we were new arrivals, we finally made it into the shop, albeit minus a section of the heli-seat/weapon launcher.

First stop toilets. Of course. Which had some sort of hideous damp problem and smelt far worse then usual. Which the kids were keen to take great notice of with lots of exaggerated nose holding and dissolving into hysterical giggles each time one of them declared at top volume; ‘POOOOEEEEY’, much to the amusement of all the people that came in and out in the ridiculously long time it took us to get small boy to wee, wash hands, dry hands and leave.

I’d decided to get them dinner out as I quite frankly could not be bothered to cook, we had, (still have!), no food in and hubby is away and so not here to nag about wasteful spending!

(Please don’t judge me when I tell you that they had a pasta and sauce dish with microwave steamer veg in for dinner the night before, (which they wolfed down actually!), and cheese slice toasties for lunch. I promise to get my act together! Next meal we will be having 8 veg stew with homemade dumplings. Oh fine, that is rubbish, I will just try and take them somewhere healthier! 😉 )

So we headed for the cafe. The food was actually really nice. The children ate well, but then the silliness kicked in half way through eating. Singing songs made up of random rude words, (luckily these are not actual rude words but ones they have invented, so only I knew how naughty they thought they were being!), snorting, blowing raspberries, showing off for the next table as they had  made the big mistake of laughing at something they did. Which I’m sure they regretted deeply about 10 minutes of annoying children behaviour later!

After food we went to get a basket. It then became apparent that we would not be able to get any food in the basket with big girl’s armfuls of stuff occupying it. Then small boy needed one for his toys, grotty napkin and half eaten apple. So we began our shop with 3 baskets. Which they couldn’t carry, and were also using to crash into each other.

Finally made it to the kiddy clotheing aisle and had just started flicking through the sale rack when small boy announces that he needs a poo. Now. So back to the toilets we go. With a repeat of the nose holding palaver from before obviously.

On our way back to the clothes, small boy is struggling so much with his basket that he is dragging it across the floor with some extreme huffing and puffing sound effects. A very kind man on the tills offers to put the baskets back for the kids, he isn’t even phased by the grotty napkin and apple, offering to bin them for us. (It turned out they weren’t finished with however. Small boy decided to finish the apple on his walk through the shop, depositing the core in the basket to get sandwiched between the new school t-shirts I’d picked up for big girl, ok and a few other bits for them, they were soo cheap, ready to roll out on the conveyor belt later on, much to the horror of the poor check out lady.)

Big girl had a pretty fierce battle with her inner stubborn streak but eventually decided to hand over her basket too, the overwhelming discomfort beating her need to not admit that I may have been right and it was too heavy for her to carry round. So I ended up with one basket, full of both kids’ toys, an apple core and soon a pile of few clothes.

Once we’d negotiated our way back across the store, touching things, looking at toys, stopping dead in front of each other, singing, dancing and generally doing everything they were asked not to, I resume my browse of the vital school items. (Ahem, read; beautiful sale items at such good prices! 😀 )

After approximately 30 seconds, big girl looks at me in a certain way and I know exactly what is coming.

‘Oh no!’

‘But Mummy’

‘No!’

‘I’m desperate’

I was not having it, I know it sounds mean but please consider the fact that in the toilet not ten minutes before, I had asked her no less then three separate times if she needed to go. Each time I was met by a resounding no. So my sympathy was a little low, my temper a tad frayed and my patience was already out sitting in the car in a strop.

Despite this, I am not evil so I did abandon the clothing idea and rush us off to get the milk and bread we actually needed. Although I then had to return there to put back the clothes items she had ‘thought I’d wanted her to have’, loosing small boy in the process. Luckily he was magnetized to a rack of superhero dvds and fairly easy to find, mostly because he was bellowing his sister’s name repeatedly and incredibly loudly as he wanted her to admire the spiderman film he’d found.

On the way to the milk aisle, small boy managed to trip over nothing and fall landing on his forehead. I have no idea how he manages these things. So I’m carrying him wailing, a red lump forming already, a large basket overflowing in the other hand with a daughter bouncing along beside me telling me earnestly how if a little comes out in her knickers it is ok. However, whenever we pass anything that is interesting to her, like cake, she miraculously forgets all about this so called sudden urgency!

Finally we get to the till, we pay, after apologizing profusely about the apple, get to the door……and big girl remembers about the toilet. Back we go, more nose holding hilarity ensues. Finally we can leave, lucky we had to go back really, considering we’d left a vital component of spiderman’s gyro thingy at the checkout and the lady called us over on the way past to return it. Very kind of her really, not holding an apple related grudge!

Thankfully the chocolate buttons I’d bought for ‘pudding’ worked as a fantastic bribe and we all made it back to the car in one piece with no tears, me leading the way, shaking the packets in front of them to keep them moving forward.

The one way to ensure full attention is on you and your hideously behaved offspring is bubblegum pink hair by the way! Guaranteed that people will remember you and grin when they pass you in the aisles after having seen your children doing very extreme arm waving in the loo with pinched closed noses and at one point lying on the floor playing peekaboo with their sister as she sat on the toilet. (I am not normally so easy going with hygiene but this was third visit, we’d been there so long I’d lost all track of time and by now I’d totally given up! 😀 )

*Afterthought re the doll packaging, I really wish now that I had left her crown stitched to her hair after the four billionth time of having to put it back on her head, usually when I am right in the middle of doing something that needs both hands!!

'Peekaboo'
‘Peekaboo’

Such a poser sorry!

WIN_20150808_145024

2015-08-07 07.01.06
Such a poser sorry!

Where are you from? Also a step by step guide to giving blood.

Not literally, but historically! I give blood and I am a B negative which is so rare that only two percent of the population have it, and today the nurse who was taking my blood was very excited because she has the same blood group and noticed that I was the second person she’d come across with the same blood group and same very slightly odd toes as her.

She told me that from the research she had done already, our blood group is likely to die out in the not too distant future and that no-one is quite sure how it came about.

She also said that she found an article about possible links to skeletons found that are sort of human but with extra long limbs. Sounds very bizarre to me……and also very intriguing! So I am going on a mission to find out more. We all know how accurate the internet is, (hah!), so I will take it all with a pinch of salt but I’d love to know if you have anything that makes you unusual or know something about the origins of your blood group or mine, the stranger the better!! 😀

Any truth in this do you think? Source Waking Times
Any truth in this do you think? Source Waking Times

I also thought I’d do a quick guide to giving blood and some tips as these things can be very nerve-racking the first time you and it is such a worthwhile cause so if I can allay anyone’s fears about going, I’ll be very happy.

  1. First off, make an appointment. They get too busy to take walk ins often and if you have an appointment they can send you out the forms to fill in at home. In peace, unless you have children obviously!
  2. They can also check that you are eligible to donate to save you a wasted journey. Things like tattoos and piercings don’t mean you can’t donate but there are time frames you need to adhere to and you need to mention it so they can run a few extra tests.
  3. When you arrive, there is a reception area with a computer and you will be ‘checked in’ and given a guide to read containing all the important information you need. You will be given this every time to refresh your memory as there is usually 3 or more months between donations. Our donation centre is a church hall so don’t worry that you’ll have to go to hospital or have to pay for expensive parking.
  4. You will be directed to a waiting area with some magazines. I usually bring my own or a book. It can be a long wait as things like someone calling in sick or a donor feeling a little unwell after can delay the process a little. Usually it isn’t too long a wait and they will keep you well informed if there are any delays. There is a nice camaraderie I’ve found, and so you will probably find someone to chat too to pass the time.
  5. Your name will be called and you will go into a little screened off cubicle to confirm your details and to go through the questionnaire you answered in more detail if you answered yes to any of the questions, things like medication changes, trips abroad etc, and the answers will be expanded on and signed off. Then there is a test to check your iron levels. A tiny pin prick will be made using what looks a bit like a dog training clicker and a couple of drops squeezed out into the tiniest pipette. This will be squirted into a test tube of green or blue liquid and timed to make sure it sinks in the requisite time. If not, your iron levels are considered too low to spare any blood and you won’t be able to donate in that session and directed to see your gp.
  6. All being well with your iron, you are then sent to a second waiting area and invited to help yourself to a drink of water or squash & have a seat.
  7. When they have a chair free, you will be asked if you prefer left or right arm and they will adjust it accordingly. You’ll sit in the chair and they will make you comfortable.
  8. There is a machine to whichever side they are taking from the makes a bit of noise when it is going as it keeps the bag of blood moving continuously and beeps when you’re done, nothing to panic about if it is being loud! 🙂
  9. The nurse will thoroughly clean your arm and then insert a needle. Not the most pleasant but it really is just a scratch. Once in, you genuinely won’t feel it and the blood will start flowing down the small tube attached to the needle that will get taped to your wrist. You will also be reclined almost flat.
  10. There are two bags attached to the tube, a very small one that samples will be taken from, how many samples depends on whether you have been abroad/ had a recent tattoo etc, and the larger one on the moving platform.
  11. Then you are left while the bag fills up. It is recommended to clench and un-clench your fist to help the flow and you are also given a sheet with some exercise suggestions. You are generally advised against reading if it is your first time but if you’ve been a few times, you can read now…..a book is far easier to hold than a magazine one handed as I have discovered from personal awkward experience!
  12. Once the bag is full, (I promise it’s not that big, they aren’t leaving with a brimming carrier bag!), the machine will alert them by lots of beeping, there is nothing to worry about if they are tending to someone else at that minute as nothing bad can happen if you are waiting a little while, (not that that happens often!), then the needle will be removed and you are given a gauze to press down on the seriously tiny hole and they sort all the tubes and your donation out.
  13. You will be sat upright and given a few minutes to check how you are doing. It is very rare for people to faint but you can feel a little light headed if you’ve not eaten or drank enough in the day. I’d say from sitting in the chair to being sent for a biccie is around 20-30 mins.
  14. Once satisfied you are ok and when you’ve had your gauze swapped for a plaster, you will be sent over to the refreshment table and offered a cold or hot drink and there are a large selection of biscuits. These are obviously calorie free as you have just given away a lot of calories! 😉
  15. Another appointment will be offered for the next session and when you are fully recovered, (finished your biscuit!), you can go home. Feeling pretty awesome for potentially saving someone’s life and having a license to eat cake when you get home. (Still calorie free obvs!)

It may be different in other areas of course, and for different people but that is my experience as an NHS donor in the UK. I PROMISE you that it isn’t scary, it doesn’t hurt much and they honestly don’t take very much, and the fluffy feel goods last aaaagggges. Oh, and all the staff are lovely and friendly and make it a fun cheerful atmosphere, even if they have been there all day and you are the last donor as I was tonight.

*********

Installment 2 of my personal alphabet challenge where I am attempting to omit one letter from a paragraph at the end of each blog post to see which is the most difficult to write without using.

To B or not to B!

This is easy, no difficulty, I think it would seem a whole lot harder to actually have to use the letter in every word. Although if I wanted to write the post that comes in front of this I would certainly struggle.

I would need an alternative word for that red stuff that pumps through your veins, pushed around using the fantastic, strong heart, taking vital nutrients and vitamins and cells to your extremities, keeping you warm, running your organs, fighting infections and healing wounds.

Claret perhaps? Though that is a little Silence of the…….youthful sheep!! 😉

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