60 articles Articles posted in Life

Almost a Third of my Life…

Today is a bit of a special day here in the MTW house – it marks the exact day TEN years ago that Husband and I became a couple. Ten years have passed, not without some major ups and downs, but quite honestly, I think Husband and I have basically beat the odds. No-one expected us to last as long as we did, especially when we announced our engagement just six weeks after meeting, but a decade later, almost a third of my life, one dog, two babies, eight house-moves, new careers and a whole load of life in between, here we are. As much as I’d like to remain dignified in my self-satisfaction, what I actually want to do is give a MASSIVE middle finger to all of our doubters.

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I think most people who’ve been with someone for a whole decade will agree that marriage takes work. Unless you’re one of those weird couples who never argue (and I’m not sure they truly even exist, if I’m being honest), there will always be friction. Sometimes that friction feels too much to bear and I’m terribly guilty of failing to communicate at times, but Husband and I both work to make sure our relationship stays strong.

What I will say, though, is that although we sometimes argue, although things aren’t 100% perfect all the time, I’m still convinced that I made the right choice. I still find Husband absolutely hilarious, I still love our shared interests and tastes in music and films, as well as our differences and the fact that we learn from one another all the time. And, obviously, I still fancy him rotten *blush*.

With all that in mind, in honour of a DECADE of not killing one another, I thought I’d write some new vows for the next ten years together, just because no relationship is completely unchanged after ten years and I’m certainly not the same person I was when I was 21.

I promise…

…to do my best not to turn into my mother.

…to try to keep my tendency to over-react and be passive aggressive to a minimum

…to avoid rolling my eyes when you tell me how much you hate washing up

…to try stay awake through at least ONE film per week

…to be considerate of the fact that you’re not a happy passenger in cars and not take it as criticism when you point things out when I drive

…to never use the kids as a weapon or use you as a method of discipline when you aren’t here

…to put up with your farts…as long as you put up with mine

…to serve you smaller portions of dinner because I KNOW you can’t not clear your plate

…to try to stay young at heart and enjoy each other as the years go by

Romantic, huh? Maybe not, but sometimes it’s the practical considerations that we make for one another that remind us how much we’re loved. The fact that Husband knows how I like my coffee, or when he hoovers the car out even though I’m the one who let it get disgusting, or when he listens to me talk endlessly about the dramas which have turned me upside down over the past couple of years, always remaining on my side. That’s love, that is.

So, here’s to another ten years with my best friend and the best Dad I could wish for, for Sausage and Burrito Baby. Now, if he’d just vow to put his clothes in the washing basket, life would be perfect…!

Maldives, August 2006Look how young we look! (Ignore the random Maldivian man in the background…!)

The Downsides of Living in the Country

Living in the CountrySince we moved to a more rural location, back in September, I’ve been effusive in my praise of living out in the country, and while I’m still absolutely in LOVE with where we live, I thought I’d let you know about some of the minor down-sides, for the sake of balance. I wouldn’t change our location for all the tea in China (unless someone wants to give us a Maldivian island to live on?!) but I thought it might be useful to anyone who’s dreaming of the simpler life to see the realities of rural living before they take the plunge.

Wind

This may seem like a really  odd one, but the wind out here in the country is BONKERS. I’m not taking a little gust every now and then, I’m talking full-on gale force on a regular basis. Because we’re totally exposed with flat, open farmland at the front AND back of the house, the wind is free to blow completely unhindered and we’ve woken up to missing roof tiles, flying wheelie bins and once last week, it was so strong it somehow managed to suck our loft hatch open from the inside! Investing in some Mountain Horse Boots is a good idea for all types of weather.

Roadkill

If you’ve read my previous post about roadkill, you’ll know that this is a particular hotspot for me, but seeing dead things on an almost daily basis (I saw a pheasant which had been run over today, it’s long tail feathers splayed in a darkly comical fashion) really brings you face to face with mortality, which can not only be a drain on your own mental health but can also be tricky to deal with if you’ve got kids.

Isolation

Isolation is both one of the reasons that I adore this house and one of the down sides, all at once. On the one hand, I could not be happier to never hear buses go past, or drunks stumbling past at 1am, or any of the other things that I hated about our last house. On the other, it can be tricky in terms of the fact that I need to use the car to go ANYWHERE practical. There are some gorgeous places to walk around here but they don’t really lead anywhere…shops and schools and civilisation are all a car journey away.

Lack of Services

It’s not just lack of local shops which hinder you out in the country. We’re not on a main gas supply, which means we have to order (and pay for!) our gas in bulk, to be delivered to a tank at the back of the house. Same with internet; the only services we can get offer up to a MAXIMUM of 4MBPS, which is desperately slow, especially for a family who rely so heavily on the internet for work, streaming and everything else. We knew it would be slow before we moved and decided that we were prepared to make the minor sacrifice, but it does get a little frustrating at times!

Cost

Living away from the main drag often means that rents are lower, and that’s certainly the case here, but there are other costs to factor in, such as extra fuel. All in all, I think we’re still probably saving money by living here, but it does mean we’ve (and by “we”, I mean Husband because I am appalling with money) had to be more on-the-ball with money so that we always have fuel for the car, etc.

Marvelous Tips for Dating In Your 40s

over 40 datingIf you’re in your 40s and single again, you may be wondering whether or not you have made the right choices in life. Perhaps you did, perhaps you didn’t, but let’s face it: the past is something that cannot be changed. So, there’s no point regretting over what has been done, and better to focus on moving ahead in your life.

You can still find the right person for yourself, joining online dating site Maturedatinguk.com and while it can be hard for you, once you find ‘the one’ it’s likely that you will stay in that relationship for the rest of your life. Now, isn’t that something good to look forward to? Indeed it is! Below we have discussed some effective tips that will help you date in your 40s:

Be Happy With Yourself

You can hit the gym, shed some pounds and buy new clothes to create a new and different you, but is it really worth it? Don’t get us wrong here, being healthy and looking good can definitely separate you from the crowd. However, there really isn’t any point of doing so if you don’t stick to it. If you believe you can’t, you’re much better off sticking to what you already know and being happy with it. Once you’re able to embrace who you really are, you’ll be able to gather the confidence required to succeed in today’s dating scene.

Leave Your Baggage at the Door

If you still live in the past, nobody would like to start a relationship with you. While you might share some similar experiences (such as health issues or a failed marriage) if you are looking for someone your age, bonding on negative issues won’t get you anywhere. In much the same way, you should also leave behind the anger you have for your ex.  Assuming that the person you’re dating has hidden motives will only result in another relationship wreck. Relationships thrive on trust, so trust yourself and the person you’re dating.

Know What You’re Looking For

You’re in your 40s now, so forget about what you used to think about when you were in your 20s, and be a bit more realistic. Everyone wants their perfect match (who doesn’t?), but guess what? Most of them are still looking. If you really want a meaningful and lasting relationship, it’s about time you get rid of your list of ‘must-haves’ and replace it with some consideration of how a potential partner will make you feel and treat you.

Take it Slow

Lastly, you should take things slow. There’s no need to jump into a new relationship immediately after you have gone through a failed one. You’re looking for the right person, not the right now person to give you something you cannot provide yourself: companionship. Therefore, make sure you don’t rush into a relationship if you believe there was no honesty, sincerity and not to mention chemistry in the first dates.

Three Life Altering Decisions To Make Next Year

Ever thought about how you can make your life better without uprooting everything? Well, I have, and I want to talk about some of my personal goals for the upcoming year,

Just to be clear, I want to separate this from the inevitable #NewYearsResolution articles that will manifest online in December, for this reason: the tradition of almost every New Year’s Resolution is that they are not taken even slightly seriously after the first week. The life goals I mention here are ones to stick to, and will ultimately benefit you in the long run.

First, cycling. A lot of you will be familiar with this scenario – after two days of riding your sleek, new bike you just bought from Halfords at 7:30 am to work, you feel like a superhero. Then, almost by accident, something disrupts your system. A day off work, a surprise illness, a punctured tyre. Suddenly lie-ins remind you what was so warm about them in the first place.

I understand that, we all do. However, I’m personally aiming to ride to work twice a week. If not to work, why not go somewhere nice at the weekend? A bike ride on a day off can be one of the most therapeutic stress relievers. If you can find a way to fit cycling into your life comfortably, there’s nothing holding you back!

Second is the transition to environmentally friendly heating. This is an odd one – why would you change a system that works? The truth is, electric heating is far more efficient for a much longer period than gas heating. For example, if I bought  this stand-alone electric radiator range from Verismart, its efficiency, lack of extra parts and long life means I’m far less likely to have to replace it within 2 years. You can also heat specific rooms and turn it on and off when you please, so it’s far more convenient. It’s just like any durable product – you’d much rather have a more powerful, long lasting laptop than waste money on several that can’t handle more than two programs at once. In the end it’s a no brainer.

Finally, and admittedly most dauntingly, I aim to go gluten free. The world is getting scarier each day and everything we love seems to now be cancerous. Just like every other big life change, however, switching to a gluten free diet appears to be a chore; the food doesn’t seem as nice, it’s more expensive, you have to be that one who asks for different food at parties. Overall, however, the end justifies the means. I can’t count how many people who have told me how much better they feel now they’ve gone gluten free. Sure, it will take a bit of effort, but again, don’t feel like you have to throw yourself in the deep end immediately. Moderation will tell you how well your body’s reacting to the change, then you can decide where to go.

The truth about all of these changes is that they are tough to do right away, so my advice is this: don’t run before you can walk. Those baby steps might just make a serious life decision that bit easier.

The Rising Cost of Funerals

This time of year always has us thinking about slightly upsetting things as two family members have passed away in October of previous years. Thinking about losing family members always makes me feel introspective and often makes me think about the practicalities of dying, such as writing a will and the cost of funerals. SunLife has put together an infographic which shows the average cost of a basic funeral in different parts of the country and how those costs have risen over the years. Take a look:

Infographic-cost-of-basic-funeral

Although cremation is still the cheapest option, the overall cost of a funeral including burial OR cremation has almost doubled in the 11 years since 2004. It’s an alarming statistic which definitely makes me think about investing in a funeral plan at some point because £5k is an awful lot of money for a family to try to come up with in the event of a tragedy.

I often think that funerals are more for the living than the dead – when I pass away (hopefully at some grand-old-age, after having done everything I want to do in life…) I’m happy for any viable organs to be used and I don’t really have a preference over what my family do with me once I’m gone as my body will simply be an empty vessel. One thing I do like the idea of is the tree pods, which uses your body as food to grow a new tree – something about living on as energy in a tree really speaks to my beliefs about the cycle of energy on the planet, but I’m not sure if it’s something that can be done in the UK.

The saddest thing about the info that SunLife has gathered is that 1 in 6 families now could not afford a funeral for a loved one and that over half of people need to borrow money to afford a “send off” if no previous arrangements had been put in place. The weight of responsibility on the people left behind to feel like they’ve given their loved ones a decent funeral can be huge, although so many people don’t make any arrangements at all because of some feeling of tempting fate by contemplating ones own mortality.

When it comes to it, if I were to make provision for my own funeral, the only thing which would really bother me was making things as easy and painless for my loved ones. I don’t mind what they do with me or if they decided to commemorate my life with a wake or a headstone, I just want to ease their upset as much as I can, and if that means ensuring that they don’t end up saddled with debt or money worries, then it’s something I definitely need to consider.

What Five Things Could You Not Live Without? #NotWithout5Things

British Gas has been asking bloggers what five things they couldn’t live without, to promote The Source, their website which is packed full of information about energy and sustainability. I’ve decided that it goes without saying that my family is the number one thing that I couldn’t live without, so here are the other five things!

Music

Music is one of those things that is super important to me, and the other members of the family too. We’re always listening to music together, dancing and singing, and love nothing more than a good old singalong in the car when we’re going on long journeys. SingStar is Sausage and my favourite game (although our PS3 broke recently, leaving us both devastated) and I literally cannot drive unless I have the radio or music playing in the background!

Books

Books are so vital to all of us, as a family of avid readers. Sausage always has her nose in a book and Husband can be glued to his Kindle when he’s seriously into a good book. Burrito Baby is already starting to take notice of picture books and loves to turn pages, and while I don’t make as much time to read as I used to, I’d feel seriously adrift without books around me.

The NHS

This one might seem slightly contentious, but for me, the NHS is an absolute necessity. I suffer with several chronic conditions which have to be managed with various different medications and without the free care of my GP and consultants, I’d be in serious trouble.

The Internet

Okay, so this may seem like a fairly shallow answer, but without the internet both Husband and I wouldn’t be able to work from home, allowing us to spend more time with our daughters. The internet is vital for SO many things now and I feel genuinely lost without the world wide web at my fingertips.

Laughter

Humour is absolutely VITAL to getting me through the day, and I’ve always been a bit of a clown. There’s nothing more rewarding than making someone else laugh, especially when it’s your own kids and seeing someone’s face go from sad to happy because you’ve done something silly or told a joke is absolutely priceless. Humour is also a bit of a coping mechanism for me, as I use it to lift my spirits during tough times, so I’d seriously struggle without laughter in my life in one form or another.

So, what five things could you not live without? Leave me a comment below, or tweet using the #NotWithout5Things hashtag. Also, don’t forget to watch the video below to see what other people told British Gas they couldn’t live without.

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Thank You, National Lottery

I remember the first time the National Lottery was on the TV really well. I was ten years old and my Dad and I were visiting my Nan and Grandad at their new house in Lowestoft. My Dad let me choose my own numbers and paid for me to get a ticket. Sadly, I didn’t win anything but since that day, the Lottery has become a bit of a British institution, evolving to include a Wednesday draw, as well as EuroMillions, scratchcards and all of the rest of it.

The National Lottery Good Causes Fund was also founded 20 years ago and in that time has funded an number of amazing projects, as the infographic below shows (visit World Lottery Club to see more good causes which have been helped by the Lottery):

It’s incredible to think that £32 billion has been donated to good causes over the last 2 decades. Locally to me, a huge sum of £890k was donated to a project which helps children who are growing up in difficult family circumstances. Family Action Chief Executive Helen Dent said: “Our new partnership Stronger Families, Future Communities, is great news for children and families in Southend-on-Sea and we’re looking forward to working with a range of organisations to support children and parents in the area. This service will build on Family Action’s outstanding children’s centre and family support in Southend-on-Sea and we’re grateful for the opportunity the Big Lottery Fund has given us to make a real difference improving children’s futures.”

On thing which did surprise me was that half of all Lottery winners actually return to work. Pretty much everyone I’ve ever played the “what would you do if you won?” game with has said “give up work” before anything else, so finding out that such a high percentage actually return to work was not something I had expected.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Do you have any fab, lottery funded projects near you? Do leave me a comment below.

Why I Don’t Care if Ellen Page is Gay

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I became aware of Ellen Page back in about 2006, when Husband told me about this film he’d watched where a young woman entrapped and brutalised a paedophile, mostly for shits and giggles, which had an awesome actress playing the lead role. If you’re aware of Hard Candy, you’ll know that a young Ellen Page gave a performance which was as convincing as it was memorable and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Skip forward a couple of years; Husband and a very pregnant me sat and watched Juno, a film which handled the issue of teen pregnancy with a grace that had never been seen before. Here, we were faced with a young woman who, while on the surface may have been a bit off-beat, was conscious and uncompromising in her decision about what to do with the life of the child that she knew, ultimately, she wasn’t ready for. Juno was a kid who fucked up, had an accident, did what so many others do, but the way she dealt with it (and the space and respect that her parents showed her in dealing with it) reflected what a kid can really do, under such enormous pressure. I cannot imagine anyone else playing that role.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching Ellen in various films, such as Inception, X-Men, The East and Whip It (a particular favourite which has made me desperately want to learn to skate so I can try roller derby!) and I can honestly say I don’t think she’s made a bad choice or put in a bad performance.

Aside from her impressive career, she seems to be a pretty impressive person, too. Away from the spotlight, the (self-confessed) “tiny Canadian” has involved herself with various humanitarian issues, such as campaigning to end the military dictatorship in Myanmar, Burma and also appealing for The New York City Food Bank.

Of course, there’s long been speculation as to her sexuality. Her ‘conspicuous’ lack of male escort at various award ceremonies never fails to set tongues wagging and her graceful but slightly awkward avoidance about whether she ever had a crush on Leonardo DiCaprio in various press junkets leading up to the release of Inception caused even more hyperbole (although, quite why anyone thinks that’s an appropriate question of a professional actor, I don’t know. Would it ever have been asked of a man?!).

Ellen’s self-outing was delivered at the Human Rights Campaigns Time to THRIVE conference, where she decided to use her personal life, and effectively sacrifice her well-protected privacy, to campaign for the safety and well-being of other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people across the globe. She’s unleashed her truth in the most conscientious way possible, in a way that doesn’t benefit her, but will hopefully help millions of other people across the globe. She says she’s “tired of lying by omission” and hopes that her coming out will help others to have the strength to be open about their sexuality, too.

So, while the title of this post may come across as slightly glib, I really do mean it. I adore this young woman and everything she stands for. As a mother to (almost) two girls, I feel that I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that there are women like her out there, setting an example of strength and selflessness and showing that above all else, being yourself is the best thing you can possibly be.

Who Ellen Page chooses to fall in love with is of absolutely ZERO consequence to anyone but herself and her chosen partner and what I hope is that we can start to end the process of defining people by their sexuality. It simply does not matter whether a person is gay or straight or any of the other shades of the Rainbow. What matters is how they choose to live their life and the way they treat others around them. Of course, I believe people should be proud of who they are, and their sexuality, to an extent, factors into the person as a whole, but there’s so much more to everyone than that one small factor.

Anyway, its 4.16am, I’m sitting in a darkened maternity ward and probably rambling somewhat now, but I wanted to get my thoughts on the page and say that I wish Ellen a lifetime of happiness and love.

That’s all. 

So, You’ve Eaten a Horse Burger?

Horse Meat

If you read the news/go on Twitter/listen to the radio, you’ll no doubt be aware by now that several major supermarkets have cleared their shelves amidst findings from an independent report which showed beef burgers to contain up to 29% horse meat. The chances are, if you’ve eaten a burger from Tesco, you’ve probably eaten horse. Are you horrified?

I’m not.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that they’ve sold cheap horse meat under the guise of beef is wrong for MANY reasons. The cultural implications are mind boggling, especially as 85% of the burgers also contained pig DNA, so many a kosher Jew are probably feeling rather upset right now. Also, just for the plain old fact that if you PAY for beef and you get horse, that’s morally and financially wrong. It’d be called fraud in any other circumstance, surely?

But.

What I don’t get is this; people are up in arms simply about the fact that they’ve eaten a horse and I just don’t get that mentality.

Why is a horse more sacred than a chicken, a cow or a turkey? With Christmas just gone by, are we not upset about the TEN MILLION turkeys eaten in the UK alone? I understand that people keep horses as pets and we’re all quite precious about not eating animals that are cute or handsome, but if it were a choice between my family needing food and Joey running free in the paddock, it’d be horse casserole for tea, I’m afraid.

I’m not hugely worldly when it comes to food I’ve tried but I’ve eaten kangaroo, deer and veal (though I will admit I wasn’t properly aware of what veal was before I ate it) and I just don’t get this thing that humans have about prioritising one type of animal over another when it comes to meat. Most people probably now know that pigs are as intelligent as dogs and while that’s led to a rise in the number of people keeping pigs as pets, I bet it’s barely affected the number of bacon sandwiches eaten by us Brits.

Perhaps someone could enlighten me as to why a horse is more important than a cow?

Until then, I’m going to be avoiding beef burgers; not because I don’t want to eat horse, but because if I’m buying beef it’s because I want to eat a cow!

Mum’s the Word – A Retrospective (Pt. One)

It seems weird looking at the calendar in the bottom corner of my screen and seeing 01/01/2013. This year will be my 29th birthday, Husband’s 34th birthday, Sausage’s 5th birthday, 7 years since we adopted Chuck, my 7th wedding anniversary, my baby sister’s 21st, my baby brother’s 14th….and so on and so on! I remember the days that my brother and sister were born SO vividly and it’s hard to believe that they were that long ago, let alone the fact that I have to get my head around the fact that I’ll have a 5-year-old!

 So, before I look forward to the exciting year ahead, I thought I’d do a ‘Mum’s the Word Retrospective’, a look back at the posts that I’m most proud of from the last 12 months. Yes, it’s self-indulgent, but it’s MY blog, so ner! *blows raspberry*

JANUARY

At the beginning of January, I was saying goodbye to Bob Holness who was a childhood favourite of mine and his passing sparked some fond memories. In this post, I was waxing lyrical about my new iPhone 4. I’m not sure I’d be so effusive now!

This time last year, I was still reeling from the passing of my stepmum, who’d lost her battle with cancer just 10 weeks before. Here I talk about how certain Buddhist teachings had helped me with my grief.

In this post, I share some of the harsh realities of adulthood that I’ve picked up on along the way, but it’s not as grim as it sounds, don’t worry!

FEBRUARY

In this Silent Sunday post, I proudly display the partially erupted wisdom tooth I had removed, despite some people thinking that it was a weird picture of a nose!

This was my first attempt at short fiction. I tried to make a linky out of it but didn’t get much interest, but I was still quite proud of my efforts. Here, I discuss the stress of being a working Mum and how hard it is to relax at times. Finally for Feb, I overheard a conversation in Waitrose which literally tickled me pink.

MARCH

March began with me musing over what I wanted to be when I grew up. Turns out, I still haven’t…Sausage kept us amused with some surprisingly subversive humour for a then-3-year-old.

In a more serious post, I talked about how you tackled the subject of mortality with your little ones, which provoked some interesting comments. I rounded the month off with a satirical post about things that, at 27, I’d realised I was too old to do. This is a personal fave for 2012.

APRIL

The beginning of April saw Husband and I changing our strongly anti-Barbie stance, me doing some serious Sausage related trumpet-blowing, attempting to talk about the dangers of Melanoma and celebrating my move to being self-hosted with a post about being reborn.

MAY

At the beginning of May, I wrote about my Nan and Grandad, which is still one of my favourite posts ever. I also mused about what it would be like if our brains were like a computer harddrive and posted a Silent Sunday featuring a very personal subject for me.

This month also featured part one and two of my Cybher run-down.

This post about parental choices was one of my favourite posts because of the debate it sparked in the comments. I still stand by my original thoughts, which were brought into sharp focus later in the year with the horrible events in the news. I often wonder how people’s opinions will differ now.

JUNE

The beginning of June saw me thinking about the parental instinct to protect and why it’s lacking in some people. Here’s another favourite Silent Sunday, featuring a house-guest we had with us for a while. This photo was one of the things to spark the idea for Closer to Nature, a linky that I started later in the year.

I was having a pretty bad time of things in June and this post is me trying to make sense of my thoughts and feelings, the prevailing being that of loneliness. Later in the month, I also discuss euthanizing a beloved pet and when is the right time to say ‘enough is enough’.

 

A bit of a bleak finish to the first half of the year, but I’m amazed to see how much I wrote in that time. I hope you enjoy reading through and come back for part two!

Happy New Year from Mum’s the Word.

Yellow Days