Making the most of every minute…

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Talk to Your Teenagers about Homelessness

@RailwayChildren every retweet gets the charity £2 from @AvivaUK

via Talk to Your Teenagers about Homelessness.

Mum to Teens is a leading light in the Parent Blogger world.  She is honest, witty, compelling and an inspiration to new bloggers like me.  Do go and read this post and others via the link.  It’s very informative and contains some shocking statistics.  I touched -very lightly- on this subject a few posts ago so I’m “pleased” to be able to add some depth to what teenagers on  street corners are (sometimes) really going through.

When you’ve read it, please leave a comment as Aviva UK will donate £2 to The Railway Children (Charity) and help make the invisible, visible.


And the Award goes to…. (Part 2)

Well, I promised a part two of my Award nomination acceptance and here it is!  Now I’m  answering the questions set by my nominator:

1. What do you get out of blogging?

It is where I can be completely myself.  My husband actually said he wouldn’t have known it was me if I hadn’t told him, because the writing on my blog is “perceptive” and “insightful”!   That’s because he never lets me talk without interrupting me!  I didn’t stab him with a blunt object for saying that, but I was tempted!  I also like having Freedom to express myself without causing an argument.  Well, maybe I will cause an argument one day when I have more readers.  Poor Kate from found herself in the middle of a bit of a ding-dong recently because she dared to talk about her daughters liking pink!

2. Was motherhood what you thought it would be, and if not how is it different?

Motherhood is SOOO not what I expected.  It is MUCH harder work than any job I’ve ever had.  I wasn’t completely unrealistic.  I knew there would be crying and dirty nappies.  I just thought the crying would stop instantly when their loving mother picked them up and cuddled them and I didn’t realise the nappies would happen during the night.  When I was living through the demanding brat years, I never realised they would be so long.  And now they are almost adults, I wish I could have all those years back and appreciate them more!

3. What do you miss most about your pre-children self?

My figure.  It has never recovered from the staggering amount of weight I whacked on during two too-close-together pregnancies!  Also my tolerance for alcohol.  I am now a wimp when it comes to drinking.

4. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Trust your instincts.  Let go of the need to prove yourself or gain approval from others.   Remember you are in charge of your own feelings, no-one can make you feel bad, you choose how to react to what they are saying.

5. As a woman – do you believe it’s possible to have it all

I believe it is possible for a woman to HAVE it all, but not to DO it all.   For example, you can’t work full time, have perfect hair/make-up/nails, spend quality time with your kids and partner/spouse, look after the pets, do the shopping, school runs etc., AND tidy the house and garden.  Chores should be shared, or preferably outsourced.  If you are lucky enough to be able to make the choice to be a SAHM as I was, that’s brilliant.  Then you just have to accept that you can still have it all, but not all at once.  When my new business is up and running, a cleaner is first on my wish-list!

Well, that’s the world according to Karen done and dusted – in the context of my Award, you understand.  I have opinions to voice and stories to tell on a LOT of other subjects!

Now it’s time to spread the Liebster love and think of others…

Questions for my nominees:

1.  Why do you blog?

2.  What is your favourite way to relax?

3.  Which meal do you cook way too often?

4.  Now you’re a parent, what do you do, or let your child do, that you swore you never would?

5.  Which Disney or Pixar film do you now know all the words to?

6.  If you had the perfect babysitter – what is the longest you think you could manage without the children, and where would you go?

7.  If you could start parenthood all over again, what if anything would you change?

8.  If you had your way, what would your children be when they grow up?

9.  On a scale of 1-10 (1 being not at all, 10 being definitely) based on their current behaviour, how likely are your children to meet your aspirations as set out above?

10. What do you worry about your child doing, above all other possibilities?

11. How much is too much when it comes to organised activities?

And finally….  I have no idea how to check how many followers a blog has, so I am just going with blogs I like,  in which the blogger has mentioned they are new.  I would like to give an honorary mention to whyishersostroppy who nominated me and has, therefore already been nominated.  Another honorary mention needs to be said for “Mummysonthewine” who, for a relatively short time, wrote a fantastic blog and who was the person who finally inspired me to dive in and start writing but has now given up blogging to pursue studies.

After much, pfaffing about, searching, reading, and generally deciding who best fit the criteria My nominees for the Liebster Award are: – whose take on life has me laughing out loud.  Be prepared for a very frank, sweary but hilarious look at life with a dominant toddler; and -this lady writes posts on various subjects in such a chatty, witty, likeable style, that I almost feel I know her.  I do hope she isn’t creeped-out by that!

I’d also like to say to my nominees, please don’t be put off by the fact that I had to split my post in two.  Maybe I talk too much, or perhaps I’m just not brave enough to put a great big long post on all in one go!

And the Award goes to….

Well, there I was, quietly sitting around thinking how cool I am, and suddenly, out of the blue at 1 O’clock in the morning, I get an e-mail telling me I have been nominated for an award, which just goes to prove that I am, in fact, very cool!

Oh, if only all of that was true…  Sadly only 50% of the above paragraph is true.  I did get an email at that strange hour and it did tell me I’ve been nominated for an award (well, my blog has, but as I write it, I am definitely taking the credit!)  At 1am in the morning, I wasn’t feeling in the slightest bit cool.  I was tired but couldn’t sleep and while I did write an excited note back to the lovely lady who nominated me (who writes at and accept the nomination, and then sit there smiling and trying to resist the temptation to wake everyone up and tell them my good news (which would not have helped my placement on the cool-ness scale), I have since been a bit like a rabbit in the headlights!

Writing an acceptance speech isn’t very easy when you keep turning into Gwyneth-Paltrow-at-the-Oscars in your head.  I’m having a little bit of trouble with the grateful acknowledgements – is “thanks must go to my family, for providing blog-fodder, even though they don’t know they’re doing it” good enough?  My natural positivity is starting to waver, the self-doubt that necessitated the buying of armfuls of self-help books (as mentioned in a previous blog) is rearing its nasty little head.  I’ve never won an award before!  Do I really deserve it?  People will look at me!  They will think I don’t deserve it… PAANIIIIICC!!!

Ah, but wait.  The award I have been nominated for is The Liebster award.  It doesn’t involve ceremonies and acceptance speeches at all.  Phew!  On following the blog-trail back I found this information: “The Liebster award is a blogger-to-blogger award with no winners and no judges.  It is given to new bloggers who are building their audience, given by the bloggers who believe they are doing an exceptional job.”  Apparently, Liebster means “favourite” in German, so I am feeling very pleased with myself and very kindly-disposed to Whyishersostroppy.  Actually, if there were an acceptance speech, I would include her in it, now I come to think of it.  She has definitely played a part in getting me where I am today…Ahem.  Sorry – I went a bit “Oscars” again.

There are rules that I need to comply with  “When nominated, the blogger must list eleven facts about his/herself, answers questions given by the nominator, and come up with eleven questions for the bloggers he/she nominates.”

OK.  So here are 11 facts about myself:

1.   I’m very glad the rules don’t say “11 interesting facts”.  That would make life difficult.

2.   I am increasingly obsessed with Twitter and now have two accounts.

3.   I am very good at, and even slightly obsessive about cleaning when I get going, but I truly hate tidying up.

4.   I do not like cyclists who ride in the road when a cycle lane is available.

5.   I like baking and have become proficient at Macaroons.   I have a collection of colours for them and even some edible gold dust!

6.   I am currently working with a Health Coach because I need to lose weight and get fitter.

7.   Even though I STILL gaze longingly at the girl’s clothes in children’s shops, I’m really glad I have boys.  They seem easier and more straightforward than girls.

8.   I used to be a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse.  I let my registration lapse in 2008.

9.   Since 2006 I have been a fully trained Clinical Aromatherapist.   This qualification means I am educated to the same level as someone with a Masters level degree.  Since I left school at 15 (my birthday is late August) with only “O” levels, I am extremely proud of this.

10.  I am a people person and a keen networker, and love nothing better than helping people build mutually beneficial relationships.

11.  I am currently setting up a business to deliver anti-ageing and aromatherapy facials.  There are products that cost less and (in my opinion) give better results than botox.  I will get to pamper people AND save them from having frozen faces!

The observant reader will notice that I have only done one of the things required by the Liebster rules at this point.  And yet I am bringing this post to a close here.  This is because I need to split my post in two as the word count was too high and I couldn’t edit it back any further!  The next post will come soon.  Much sooner than usual, in fact.  But I couldn’t bring myself to inflict a post more than twice as long as usual on my fledgling audience.  I don’t want to scare you off, just as my big break has arrived….

(that’s a joke, by the way!)

NOT just a teenage dirt-bag, baby (with apologies to Wheatus)

This morning when I was at the gym, I walked into the changing room and caught the tail end of a conversation  “…he was ever such a nice young man, its unusual these days… blah, blah… really well -mannered and pleasant, young boys aren’t like that anymore…” and so it went on  for the time it took for me to open my locker and remove the things I needed for my shower.  So not very long at all really, except that, as the parent of two older teenage boys, it was long enough to make my blood boil and then calm myself down enough to say “you must be talking about one of my sons!” with a suitably sweet smile that didn’t quite make it to my eyes.

The one who had been talking made a sharp exit, but the other one wasn’t in a position to leave the room, so I said “boys get such a bad rap these days, it isn’t fair!  My eldest has always been tall for his age and I remember him coming in from the shop one day, when he was about 11, quite distraught because an old lady had crossed the road when she saw him coming.”  And do you know what her reply was?  “Yes, well, it only takes one incident and they all get tarred with the same brush….”  Really?!  I don’t think so.  I think that was bare naked prejudice and I think we, as a society are on dangerous ground.

This is something that has wound me up at various times throughout the boy’s lives.  Like when they come in freezing because they won’t put their hoods up for fear of frightening someone, or even in a more general sense when groups of teenagers are labelled “gangs”.   Obviously, there are certain combinations of lateness of hour and adverse weather conditions, where even I would worry if I came across a group of youths, but my first thought would be for how horrid their home-life must be if they’d rather be hanging around outside in those conditions than chatting in one of their bedrooms – not how horrible they are.

I’ve considered several different routes I could take here, but for now I am going with teenagers in general…

As a society, we give teenagers no respect whatsoever.  Right when they are at their most self-conscious we tend to ostracise, label and loudly and negatively debate the relative merits, or mostly otherwise, of the young people who are, after all, the future bedrock of our society.  They are busy worrying about spots, relationships, choosing what they want to do for the rest of their lives (when most of the time they don’t know how they feel about tomorrow), studying for exams whose results will determine their path, needing sleep, weight issues, popularity contests, stifling parents who won’t let them out and insist they eat dinner at dinner time, managing a social life, finding a job, juggling part time jobs with study time, navigating new friendships while maintaining or moving on from old ones, questioning their very existence, believing the world hates them – It’s a massive amount for someone who doesn’t even know who they are yet!  Yet,,these are the people whose taxes will pay for our hospital bills and pensions (I’m deliberately ignoring the state of the public purse here for the sake of my argument.) If there were to be a military draft, the boys that lady would cross the road to avoid are likely to be the ones who would fight for us.  The teen years are a relatively short part of a child’s life, yet they are extremely important in shaping the adult they will have to become all too quickly.  We seem to have forgotten that teenagers are still children and childhood is precious.  As a society, we need to look much more carefully at the messages and cues we give them.

When they were 13 and 14, my husband and I  took our boys to Italy where they were welcomed with open arms.  Everywhere we went, people engaged with them.   They were not made to feel like some waste of space appendage to their parents and ignored as so often happens when we are out and about here in the UK.  As a result, they blossomed.  They expected to be welcomed and they walked about with their heads held high, instead of shuffling about with their heads down like they generally feel obliged to do here.

It ISN’T rare to find a well-mannered, eloquent, funny teenager (I love chatting to my sons’ friends ) but it IS rare to find a middle-aged or above adult who will show enough tolerance and respect make a teenager (with all the horrendous baggage that comes with being in that age-group) feel confident enough to express themselves well.

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