Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

August 24, 2010

Wood for the trees

I have a serious case of blogging malaise going on. I just can't seem to summon up the time, energy or typing skills to even get started with a post, or read others. Even writing this is a sort of last-ditch effort to keep my little piece of cyberspace alive and kicking.

The main problem is that I can't seem to come up with anything to write about which would be of even the slightest bit of interest to a passing snail, let alone anyone else. And reading other blogs sends me into a minor panic about how witty, original and active everyone else seems to be. Could I be suffering from my first experience of bloggers block I wonder? It's never happened before - I usually have ideas and yarns spilling out of notebooks, but not at this moment. Yikes galore. I'm sure there is some exercise I can do to reignite the writing genius within - but I can't be bothered to be honest. Yes, it's That Bad.

Having pondered this issue for a while, as I removed another off-target wee from the toilet floor, I have come to the conclusion that my lack of inspiration is due to the fact that I have been so totally, completely and utterly immersed in my home and kids for the last 8 weeks (yes 8 - count them), that I literally cannot see the wood for the trees. I can't hear their amusing little anecdotes anymore. I can't see the world through their eyes. All I see is mess and all I hear is myself shouting - only to be occasionally drowned out by the washing machine's spin cycle as it seemingly attempts to bore its way into an underground bunker, and I want to write and read about anything other than all that.

So, THANK THE LORD that next Wednesday my biggest boy will start school and my youngest will start pre-school. I feel like a prisoner counting off the days until my release. Wednesday 1st September - FREEDOM - when for 3 blissful hours I will be alone. Sans enfants. I'm almost giddy at the mere thought.

Maybe then, I'll start to regain some inspiration. Until then, thank you for listening Mr Snail.


August 15, 2010

For the love of letters

There's something very special about a hand written letter, but I wonder if it is soon to become something of a museum relic as our technology-savvy children tap merrily away on their iPhones, iPads and laptops, barely able to grasp a pen between their Playstation-infected thumbs?

Letters are fascinating, wonderful things. Volumes of books have been written, based purely on the exchange of letters; be they between lovers, historical figures, famous writers or just between friends. These historical records of bygone times make for fascinating reading and provide a very personal insight into people's lives which I can only assume will be virtually impossible to get through rediscovered blog sites and Facebook pages in decades to come.

An excellent article in last Saturday's Guardian highlighted one mother's concern about the fact that the only interactions she has with her teenages sons are via texts, emails, Facebook pages, iPods and mobile phones. A worry no doubt shared by many parents of teenagers. A worry shared by me - a parent of pre-schoolers.

In these gadget-infested times, I find it really quite sad that my children won't know the joy of a letter falling on the doormat. I've written before about holding back on The Stuff which ever threatens to engulf our lives and although I'm not luddite enough to think I can resist technology completely in my children's lives, I really feel I owe it to them to continue the tradition of letter writing - in and amongst the typed words and abbreviations and LOLs and Gr8s and whatever else is heading my way.

I remember the joy of receiving a handwritten envelope addressed to me from my German pen friend. I remember the foreign, unfamiliar stamps being exciting, let alone the strange looking handwriting of a German girl, the same age as me, and her simple tales of life in a foreign country. As soon as my children can write, I'm going to encourage them to have a pen friend - a 'real' pen friend who they write real letters to with an actual pen!

What do you think? Do your children write letters? Do they receive letters? Or does it actually matter, as long as they are communicating? Answers on a hand written postcard please....!


August 11, 2010

Cruise Shoes Blues

regular readers of this blog will know that I have two boys so, apart from the odd occasion when they are caught clopping around in my party shoes, the issue of four-year-olds wearing kitten heels is not really a pressing one for me – thank god.

For Tom Cruise however, it is. He was
speaking last week on GMTV, promoting his new movie, Knight and Day, when he was ‘politely asked’ (I can hardly say challenged as, well, he just wasn’t) about his daughter’s choice of footwear. Suri, aged 4, was first papped with her kitten heels a year ago and it caused a bit of a stir. She continues to be spotted in heels while out and about with mum and dad, which - and I am aware that I exist in a bit of a fashion wilderness - seems a little silly, even for a celebrity child.

Anyway, this, roughly, is what Tom said in response to the question about Suri's choice of footwear. “In Spain they wear the high-heeled flamenco dance shoes from birth. I believe that she can wear whatever she wants to wear. She dresses herself. Self expression is so important; my children need their own identity. I try to give them as much safety and room to find their dreams and express themselves. They’re gonna wear what they’re gonna wear.”

Hmmm. But surely she can only select things to wear from the items they have bought for her - right? So why not just fill your house with lovely pairs of girls canvas shoes like these from Start-rite. Georgeously girly, and not at all likely to ruin your feet for life.

Worryingly, the nice shoe people at Clarks have identified that 'recent trends highlight the addition of a heel as the new ‘must have’ accessory for girls under the age of ten.' Yes, you heard right. Extremely depressing really, isn't it. So, to help save Suri's teeny feet from permanent damage, Clarks have offered to 'step in' (see what I did there) and have her properly measured and fitted for a more sensible style of party shoe.

I, for one, urge the Cruises to take up the offer and get Suri kitted out in some proper shoes
like these. Surely any little girl would be perfectly happy skipping around in any of these, and with a budget to buy every style, in every colour, I'm sure Tom and Katie could give her a big enough selection of footwear, without resorting to flamenco heels?

Feet are for life you know; not just for parties.

This is a partly sponsored post.

(p.s I make no apology for the tabloid headline. In fact, 'Tabloid Headline Thursday' may become a regular thing. Puns at the ready.....)


August 10, 2010

Who needs the Riviera anyway?

I recline my lounger a little further and close my eyes. The late-afternoon sun is the perfect temperature; not so intense that you can’t properly relax and are checking to see whether you’re going pink every five minutes, and yet still an hour or two away from needing an extra layer.

Ahhh, bliss. I grab my sunglasses and my book and get stuck back into the heroine’s adventures in Rome. I'm indulging in some holiday reading while I can. The boys are completely immersed in their game in the pool; jumping in, splashing each other with a football, climbing out and jumping in again. Their squeals of delight are infectious; perfect background noise to this idyllic setting. They run up to me occasionally for a sip of their drink and then they’re off again (they know better than to try the old ‘let’s splash mum while she isn’t looking’ trick).

Starting to feel a little hot myself, I sit up, put my book down and take a long drink from the cold beer I have on standby. Delicious and who cares that it’s a Tuesday afternoon!

I recline my chair again and watch the few fluffy clouds idly drifting along in the otherwise perfectly blue sky above and follow a plane for as far as I can see it’s vapour trail. I wonder where it's heading? I like to think it’s somewhere exotic like Fiji or Hawaii (I don't know if it’s even going in the right direction for either of those places, but I can imagine anyway). I close my eyes.

I'm just starting to nod off when a bell rings. It takes a second or two for me to realise it’s my doorbell. I throw on my cardi and rush to the door. It’s the gas man come to read the meter. He needs me to unlock the side gate.

“Fabulous day,” he says.

“Gorgeous,” I reply.

He takes the reading and I lock the gate behind him. A cloud temporarily blocks out the sun. The boys have grown tired of the paddling pool. “We’re getting cold mummy. What’s for tea?”

And with that, my little slice of imaginary holiday heaven dissolves in front of my very eyes. Ah well, it was lovely while it lasted and at least the washing’s dry.


August 3, 2010

Wanted: Spare Time

Have you heard of this thing called Spare Time? It sounds fantastic and lots of people seem to have it. I have a very vague memory of having some when I was little and then again when I was a student and actually, up until the time when I had kids I'm sure I had some knocking around somewhere, but I just cannot seem to lay my hands on any now. I've even looked on eBay and they don't have any. Amazon don't stock it and neither do Tesco. Which leaves me a tad puzzled.

The reason why I'm looking for this elusive Spare Time is because I never seem to have enough time, so the prospect of having some 'spare' simply beggars belief. Imagine having some 'spare' time. Brilliant!

And what would I do if I did get some of this Spare Time? Well, I'm not entirely sure to be honest. It all depends on whether it comes in bits, or whether it's in one big lump that you have to use up all at once. I suppose I could use it to sort out the permanent jumble sale going on in the cupboards, drawers and wardrobes dotted around my house. Or I might use it to have lots of uninterrupted cups of tea, or to read some books, or to actually write the bloody book I keep threatening to write. Then again, I might be tempted to just keep it hidden away in a special, pretty box somewhere and just look fondly at it every now and again to remember the good old days when I had loads of it.

So, if you know where I can get some Spare Time, even if it's just a really tiny bit, or maybe you have some of your own that you don't want any more, please let me know. It would be going to a very grateful and very careful owner.

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