I was utterly amazed by some of your offhand comments and judgements; so much that I couldn’t stay quiet.
I home educate my two children and it is a decision that I have never once regretted.
I worked as a primary school teacher over a ten year period and, not only thrived as a class teacher, truly felt like I had found my calling in life.
Upon reading your article I was deeply appalled by what you were saying; both as a parent, home educator and as a teacher.
Your opening sentence showed the premise of what would be a completely ignorant 600 odd words of rubbish.
“If home schooling was such a great idea, wouldn’t teachers be doing it for their own children?. Can you think of anything worse than educating your own child?”
Firstly, there are many terrible things in this world that would be far worse than educating your own children. Yet, if we are working on the premise of children being educated within a school setting I could, following the real news of this week, suggest that children attending their school to be shot down and killed to be far worse than having the mini humans that we love at home safe and sound. That doesn’t include failing school statistics, children being left behind educationally, and higher statistics in bullying within schools or general attitude of staff or peers.
There is loads here, however, that need to be raised. Do you just have the nanny collect the children from school, make them sit quietly and allow the 9 – 3 education to just guide them in life? Aren’t we, as their parents, continually educating them in some form or another? Do our children not ask question after question with something that they are intrigued by? Do you answer? Or tell them to write it down and ask the paid experts to do the answering?
Education, in my eyes, doesn’t start and end between 9 – 3 Monday to Friday; we are there to guide and support their well-being. Even with the Human Rights Act, the Education Act 1996 shows that “places a legal duty on the parent or guardian of a child aged five to sixteen years (known as compulsory school age), to ensure that the child attends and receives full-time education, either in a traditional school or by any other means that is appropriate for their age, ability, and aptitude, taking into account any special needs they may have” It is OUR duty as parents and guardians to make sure that the children are educated and within that shows that education is varied and NOT just within the confines of a school.
You also state in the article that:
“if home schooling was such a great idea, wouldn’t teachers be doing it for their own children?”
I get your point here but you are also missing a massive gap. Many parents who are in the profession look at their child, the schooled environment their children are in, and see that they can do a better job than what is being offered; subsequently making the decision to improve the education of their child/ren. Yet, it isn’t just the teachers who are parents that are seeing the failure that the state system is continually providing.
Home Education isn’t just a hippy lifestyle choice that is sweeping the nation but more of a statement what is being provided in front of them. Your opening statement supports this “if home schooling was such a great idea, wouldn’t teachers be doing it for their own children?” This isn’t because a lifestyle choice but a reflection of what is being provided in the state system for many parents. If, under your premise, that the choice is due to bullying and additional needs (“Perhaps they’ve got special needs or they’re being bullied”) doesn’t that alone show that the schools are not supporting ALL children?
I would also like to address the following statement:
“It’s surely not only preferable for children to hang out with other children but also for parents to network with other parents”
My children are not left to the confines of the house. They go to different social groups like swimming, cubs and days out; some with other home educated children and some with schooled children. They are social creatures as much as we are. Do your children not have any friends outside of school or partake in any activity that isn’t based within the school grounds? The same concept is applied for us parents. You make friends at these groups, socialise at them too and create more than a morning hello on the school playground; they are, after all, in the same boat as I am.
Finally, and I know quite judgementally on my part, I would like to address your parenting that is mentioned within the article.
“I can barely get my little darlings to do their homework without bribing them with handfuls of Haribo.”
Wow. I know many parents with schooled children who do not feel the need to bribe their children to do the homework. Is it because the homework is too hard? If so, isn’t that down to the education they are given? Or, is it because of your own distaste to helping them along with it that they, like you, have opted for a negative attitude to education and learning outside of the school setting? I think your statement further on makes that clear:
“I’m happy for teachers to ensure that our nine-years-olds know their tables but if you want me to do it I’d like a tax rebate.”
Do you not go through the timetables with them at home to make sure they are prepared for school?
“I’ve lost count of the times I’ve returned home to peace and tranquility, only for the screaming to start as soon as the nanny has gone.”
What usually happens in this scenario? Is this when the Haribo comes out? What would you suggest to us families who cannot fund a nanny? Also, could the nanny educate and help with homework? Or, to help you with your spelling? isn’t it “tranquillity”?
My two are loud and sometimes aren’t the happy “Von Trapp” children I would like them to be but isn’t that part of parenting? I also don’t have a nanny to help keep them “controlled” and yet, take on that challenging part to juggle the highs and the lows and somehow manage to enjoy the more pleasurable moments of their youth.
“If your children were with you 24/7, how would you get anything done, like shopping, going to the gym or, come to think of it, a job?”
You raise a valid point here. I have been home educating now for 3 years and haven’t managed to work or do any shopping. If only there was some way to buy things online that could be delivered to your door. Or, heavens forbid, that I take my wild, uneducated, children to the shops, in public, to go shopping for these things. Luckily, the amount of running around that I do each and every day helps to conquer the need for the gym but then I am not continually snacking on rubbish at every opportunity!
“I’m writing this on a rare day working from home and I’ve already eaten a packet of Hula Hoops, a Club Orange, half a packet of Jelly Babies and seven Liquorice Allsorts.”
I get that you are happy with your idea of what education is and what you’re children are receiving but so are a lot of people, including the home ed parents of the estimated 50,000 (although I think this is a low estimation) children in the UK. I have the absolute pleasure to ensure that my children can get the best education possible, grow and achieve without the restraint of tick boxes and achievement charts, be loving, polite, bright, and caring, can socialise with more than just their peer group and see the little victories of seeing them achieve or understand something that they didn’t before.
My advice for you is to get rid of the nanny, stop buying Haribo, sit and cherish the moments that your children offer you and take some time wchen you next have some peace and tranquillity to educate yourself on Home Education.
Back in September I wrote about Dad and finding out he had Cancer for the second time. This time, as many will recall, he had double the amount in his throat; a lump either side.
At the time there was a lot of unknown and with it a lot of “possible” theories and outcomes from the consultant to allow us to brace ourselves for the future.
We were told that oropharynx cancer has two stages. The first, caught early and restricted to one place, can be treated with either Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy. The second stage, where it has spread to other places, is a bit more complicated and, to be honest, a little hazy.
It had remained unknown if the opposing throat lump was a secondary result and spread or a random act of “bad luck”. The third lump, above his neck and behind his ear, although a tumour came back as benign. What they made clear was that it wasn’t great news and ultimately it would result in a lot of difficult stages and months ahead.
The plan was to run a “Hail Mary pass”, with only a small and hopeful chance of success, of both Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy. This alone would mean that dad would lose weight, lose his hair and would make him lose his ability to taste. There was the risk that he may be too underweight already to cope with the treatment so they may have to stop it if it drops to dangerous levels. This treatment would make him tired and he would be left with severe pain.
This treatment ended in December.
The entire time dad tried his hardest to stay perky and often put on a brave face with an “I’ve had it before and won so I am sure it will be fine”. I was often confused if this was a brave face move, living in a world of denial or something he truly believed; ultimately I decided not to look too deeply into his feelings and, believing it at face value, accepted the attitude. I think this may have been my own personal denial rather than seeing anything bad from it.
Over the proceeding month’s dad, as predicted, lost a lot of weight, changed his hair cut, including his beard, because of hair loss, lost his taste, found swallowing difficult and was hit with exceedingly high levels of tiredness and sickness.
To counter some of this he had a peg fitted (Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) this is usually to help with feeding. A narrow tube is placed through the skin, directly into your stomach. The tube can be used to give you your medication, liquid food and nutrients directly into your stomach. The procedure involves the use of an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a bright light on the end) being passed through your mouth and into your stomach. After the procedure you can use the tube to feed or still eat and drink as normal if you are able to.
He had several “shakes” that were high in calories to help maintain his weight and after the use of these he had stabilized his weight rather than him losing so much that he would be in a dangerous situation.
One thing that never happened, much to my pleasure, was the need to cut his tongue or even have a portion of it removed.
Yet, despite it all, dad still remained optimistic.
So what was the prognosis after therapy?
Well, here is the difficult part. I/We don’t actually know.
Dad met with his consultant, after taking a blood test to measure certain levels and markers, to see what would happen.
This, however, caused some concern and a few raised eyebrows. That is as much as we were told because there are a few things that are confusing to everyone involved.
Dad, despite his protests and so called “attempts” remained a smoker. He was smoking anywhere between 20 – 30 cigarettes a day. He claims to have dropped that to only 4 a day. That does sound impressive but let’s be totally honest; dad has a shit poker face and terrible excuses.
The entire time he was under treatment he would go and “potter” upstairs or in the loft. Initially I was under the impression that he was “working his way through his difficult moments” and yet he would go a few times a day. He also cancelled the paper boy delivering the paper and would walk every day to go and get it; the newsagents, by the way, sold his favourite brand of cigarettes. He also, despite it being autumn and winter, started working in the greenhouse.
Here is the bottom line. In the 35 years I have known this man he has never gone upstairs to do anything other than put the decorations back or go to sleep. He has never walked to the shop and has always driven his car and he was renowned for being a gardener that preferred to watch the football than be productive outside. If that isn’t enough reason to doubt him the ashtrays we found in the loft, bedroom, garage and greenhouse are the firm evidence we needed. Yet, probably through his worry of our disappointment or maybe his own self-denial, he still claims that he has cut down to 4 a day.
The consultant, however, did the test and confirmed what we thought and his levels were of a high smoker.
Anyway, back to the blood test, with an inconclusive, for us, result they have immediately requested a full body scan. This has brought us up to today.
My brother, sister in law and my dad are under the impression that this full body scan PET (positron emission tomography) is the final clearance from the specialist. I, on the other hand, see the test as something else.
The blood test to check his levels made the specialist request the scan. This would imply that the results of the test were NOT what they expected for someone who had just undergone the intense therapy treatment. Dad was clearly smoking heavily throughout which from my understanding really hampers the chance of success. Full body scans are usually used in this way to find where cancer is hiding or lurking. This makes me think that there is still either cancer remaining or cancer elsewhere and they are looking for it.
I suppose part of this is my natural worry in these scenarios rather than the positive outlook but I can’t seem to shake the feeling; if the treatment worked the blood test would have showed it (That is what happened when he had prostate cancer and got the all clear; so why not now?)
The specialist has also felt it necessary to point out that there will be no further treatment after the scan. This, again, raised questions of which I naturally asked why. Why wouldn’t there be further treatment? Their answer, in my opinion, was clear; “With your father’s age and his continual smoking if cancer is found he would not be a candidate”; something I am fully in support of! Why on earth waste NHS funding and money on a man who didn’t try to stop smoking and save his own life? Sounds cold but I totally get it.
I suppose the only way we will fully know is in a few days’ time when they give us the result of the scan.
Either way, whatever the result, I am sure dad will continue to stay optimistic and positive as he has this entire process.
It had almost been a month prior to that and the only thing that was keeping the blog going was the occasional My Sunday photo and my new guest post series “Throwaway Thursdays”.
I wrote back in September that my dad had been diagnosed, again, with Cancer and that would explain my absence. It was a lot to take on and I had the wonders of real life to throw myself back into along with the standard juggling that I was already doing.
I was taking my dad along to his radiotherapy and chemotherapy a couple times a week. I only have 2 days off a week between home educating the boys and working so I was literally giving my dad every moment that I could. My piano lessons were at my dad’s house and that meant that I would, alongside his hospital visits, be looking out for him there too with food intake and health checks.
This has pretty much carried on until the second week in December. The following week he had his consultation and an update was given.
Along with this we obviously had the “fun” that was Christmas. It wasn’t all stress as the boys and I had the pleasure of having our first blended Christmas with Hannah and the kids. Yet, with all of this there was still the looming concern of dad. We made sure to spend Christmas day with him and make it as pleasurable as possible.
Celebrating Christmas, enjoying the time I had with dad and keeping the children happy was my focus. Nothing else. I was absent from Twitter with throwing only a handful of tweets out over the holiday period, didn’t post on Instagram for 2 weeks, resigned from my responsibilities with the different admin group jobs I had and just carried on.
Blogging didn’t matter. Social media didn’t matter. Keeping up with people, with all due respect to them, didn’t matter.
Alongside all of this a few other things had been going on behind the scenes that I haven’t shared. I had 2 people, very close to me, attempt to take their lives. Although they were not my responsibility I couldn’t just abandon people I cared about so there was also the worry to go with that; which was never their fault. Anyone would worry if they were in that situation and would try to do all that they could to help. I will and have always tried to help and support if I could.
Despite my dad’s diagnosis my family home was changing rapidly in front of my eyes. My relatives had taken it upon themselves to change and adapt things but not in a productive way. The reasons why is unclear. Maybe it had something to do with dad getting sick, helping him, them doing “what they believed is right” and dad not being overly aware going with the flow; much to my disappointment and anger at certain aspects.
The boys, after a long wait, had started the paediatrician assessment process to find out once and for all the prognosis for their obvious additional needs. The outcome for each of them in some ways wasn’t really a surprise but it still hit a massive blow of acceptance. Something that has confused me; how on earth would something I “wanted” to be made clear hit me as much as it did? It is, after all, only the initial assessment on the long road ahead but it was still a heavy blow.
Then, and in addition too, my normal life stuff. My Muscular dystrophy which is every changing continued to play up and subsequently making a lot of situations harder for me. Something that I am sure was affected by seasonal weather. As well as my Dependent Personality disorder being a continual rollercoaster. This, in hindsight, makes perfect sense with the varied relationship issues mentioned above and the changes that were happening.
These last couple of months have been exceptionally hard on me and I have had to do what I can when I can.
However, the problem is that I would usually write all this down and publish it. My blog, after all, is Inside Martyn’s Thoughts and I know people read for that reason but the longer I took the more it seemed that what I wanted to write just seemed doom and gloom with me potentially becoming moaning myrtle of blogging. Then the pressure to write built up too.
Across social media I have had quite a few tweets, Dms, Instagram messages and Facebook messages from people checking that I was ok because I had been noticeably quiet; something that I am incredibly grateful for. The absences and the quiet has never been purposeful but I have had trouble sitting and writing about things here, let alone in messages.
I did, however, pose the question in a couple of groups as I felt that I had hit a wall and didn’t know how to get past it; something that is quite new for me to experience. The general consensus was to just write and not worry if I come across in a negative way. Yet, a few suggested that I should just write why I have been absent and why it has been difficult to write; hence this post.
My blog has always been and will continue to be the classic and true from of a weB LOG where I document my thoughts. I will try and find the words for these above topics and not worry if it all seems like a constant downer. I am sure once it is written that I will feel more motivation to start writing other topics again.
This time of year I am always trying to do something for someone else. I find that Christmas can be quite commercial and within that we lose the community and loving aspect that it brings.
In all walks of life there is always something negative going on; it could be between families, friends and communities or even to complete strangers. I do believe in an altruistic giving with the phrase “Peace on Earth and good will to all men” at the centre of it and I know many share that mind-set at this time of year but I do believe it is more than seasonal; even if that is a high expectation on life and humanity at times!
I know that I may appear to be a “grumpy old man” at times but I do think that the people who know me well know that I always have kindness in my mind when I do things.
Kindness, for me, is at the route of true giving; something that needs to be clearly distinguished between pity.
I know many people look at different scenarios, especially this time of year, and see that others are suffering and do so to help them; something that I think is a mix between kindness and pity.
Then there are other moments when people go above and beyond what they need to do to help which has nothing to do with pity and everything to do with kindness.
This year, in many ways, has been quite rough. I don’t list the following for any other reason but to clarify why it has.
I have had benefits muddled up, a “friend” who was a “carer” change which had financial consequences, attended and collected from food banks, claimed emergency funding, had my wheelchair break, had to look after my father who has had, recovered and then diagnosed again with a different types of cancer and, finally, had to deal with both online and offline community problems. The year, at times, has been quite tough and yet I have seen selfless love and kindness over and over again.
I am not going to directly name the people involved but I have had some true acts of kindness that I am extremely grateful for.
I read last year a wonderful post from Donna that said you don’t need a tribe or a pod but hit upon the fact that we all need friends. I wouldn’t say, despite to many who might wonder, that I have a group, tribe or pod but I would say that I do have friends. They may not all interact with each other but there are definitely different people who, within blogging, that I class as friends.
Not long ago, Natalie wrote a post about the loneliness of the mainland and that no man is an island but the mainland can be pretty lonely too. This, not only a fantastic and real post, hit a nerve. I don’t tend to speak about what I am going through because I don’t really want to be the grumpy old man character and definitely don’t want to be always seen as moaning but that does leave you quite isolated.
I equally don’t and have never wanted pity. Yet, I think sometimes the difference between kindness and pity is how the person receiving the kindness sees it. I haven’t mentioned what I have been going through because I don’t want an outpouring of pity but when kindness is met I have had to accept it as such and know that people haven’t pitied me.
So, when all of the above has happened and without discussing these things people have time and time again stepped forward and shown me kindness. Not pity because they are seeing someone struggle but kindness because they too have known the struggle in places or want to help someone they care about but who, in reality of things, is a complete stranger to them.
They haven’t done so because they want massive thanks and self-gratitude or because of pity but pure kindness and good will.
Within these last 12 months I have received 2 food parcels, a Tesco’s voucher, seen the kindness of a community stand up for me, despite what has been said still found the time to come and find me or chat to me if we have randomly bumped into each other, had help and support with posts that I have written and even been bought a brand new wheelchair.
I don’t think words could ever express how much all of this has meant to me. I can’t really repay many of you but I know you didn’t expect me to when you helped but I am truly thankful.
No man is an island and you definitely don’t need a tribe or a pod but I am grateful that I have friends that care, friends that make the mainland less lonely and don’t pity but show the true acts of kindness.
This year I have learnt that kindness and good will to all men isn’t just something that happens at Christmas but happens all year round.
This is going to be a slightly different Christmas here this year.
This is the first Christmas is the last 6 years that I would have been in a relationship and with that we, both the boys and myself as well as Hannah and the kids, will need to adapt what we do.
I have always been incredibly lucky to have the boys every Christmas since their mum and I separated.
The boys spend the majority of Christmas Eve with their mum, I pick them up Christmas Eve evening and we enjoy the following day together with them returning to their mum Boxing Day morning.
Although our tradition of watching the Muppets Christmas Carol and then bed ready for Santa we don’t have much else planned for the day.
However, as suggested above, this year will be different where we have adopted to some of the traditions that Hannah and her kids do too. Usually Christmas Eve they receive a nice pair of pj’s, a Christmas Eve box and enjoy a hot chocolate.
This didn’t seem a lot but it did seem like something we could easily adapt too. However, as Hannah and the kids haven’t moved in yet and just spending Christmas with us I wanted them to still keep their tradition and still feel at home; something as simple as having their own mug to drink from would make a big difference.
I was contacted not that long ago by the guys over at JR Decal to see if they wanted to work with us and I thought I would take advantage of that and see if they could help us in return.
JR Decal mostly produces wall stickers of a variety of designs from motivational, quotes, sport, Disney and some specific motivational Islamic messages or scripture.
Like the Decal wall stickers they offer a range of mugs. Some for him, her, couples, children, personalised names and other different messages too; something I can imagine would brighten up most people with their cuppa of choice.
With this in mind I looked around the site and loved their mugs that had child designs incorporated.
With the above idea that we, as a blended family, will be enjoying some lovely hot chocolate both on Christmas Eve and throughout the holidays I wanted to find something that was suitable for each child.
I was looking for 2 mugs that suited James and A, both 6 years old and William and Midge, 8 and 9. They, in my mind, needed to be bright, engaging, look suitable for a young age as well as having the option for the older children to have some maturity.
I was really pleased to find these 4!
I loved the Lion with Roar and it instantly ticked all my boxes for James. It was definitely cute enough but vibrant for his younger age and, at the same time, suited is rather bold personality.
The next cup was part of the Princess and the Dragon and name range. After looking at it and knowing the love of Dragons that A has I thought this was perfect. The best feature of this, however, was the fact that they changed the design and made it just the dragon.
Next I found this lovely quirky Little cute Hoot Owl. I loved the design as I thought it was perfect for William’s age with the animal design and yet offered a level of maturity for him being the eldest boy.
Lastly, I saw the colourful bird shape pattern. Midge is turning 10 next month so I wanted something that was fitting for her age and coming age and both a design that would be suitable for adults as well to show her maturity.
Each design did exactly what I wanted and I could have found several other designs for both adults and children or alternatively have something with a personalised name on it too.
Having a gift like this at Christmas I thought ticked so many boxes for us. A simple action of having a mug of their own for Hannah’s children I thought would make them feel like they are at home here, it allowed us to continue a Christmas tradition and finally, made a perfect personal gift for each child.
If, like us, you are looking for a similar item for either Christmas or a special occasion then I would definitely recommend visiting them. Or, if you want to put something extra into a Christmas Eve box and start having a tradition to of Hot Chocolate, like us, then, again, here is a company that can help. You can find them on their site, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For us, we are one step closer to having a personalised blended family this Christmas and enjoy a Hot Chocolate in our Pj's.
Here we are with another week on Throwaway Thursdays! The idea is to bring together 3 things that we don't like in something inside your house, something we do as humans and something in general and then throw them away, similar to Room 101.
Last week we featured the lovely Nat who had some great choices! So much that many were in agreement with her! This week I am happy to feature Dave from The Early Morning Club. Dave is new on the parenting scene as well as the blogging so he has kindly given an introduction to himself! "I’m Dave and I’ve recently become a Dad for the first time. I’ve started a blog called The Early Morning Club chatting about my parenting adventures and coming to the realisation that I’m just making it up as I go along."
With Dave being new I haven't had much time to get to know him but that said I have gone through his blog and read some great stuff that he has been posting for the last few months. He definitely puts some great content down on being a new dad and of which captures what it really is like; something that I try to forget sometimes! I especially enjoyed his take on choosing his sons name.
Now time to see what he would Throwaway this Thursday!
1. Something inside your house. It can be the latest fad that your child/ren has, a pet peeve like homework, a toy that really annoys you or for non-parents, something of your partners!
As much as I love giving my little lad plenty of cuddles, there are times when I appreciate having the use of my hands for a few minutes. I have become an expert at handling hot drinks around him + eating dinner 1-handed, but I've not yet mastered the art of making food or having a poo while attached to a baby.
To help with this, I bought a rocker. Somewhere he can hang out while Daddy needs his hands. The one I bought has a vibrating seat and songs, along with 5 rocker settings. The lowest one is the equivalent of being gently caressed by a light breeze. The highest setting is similar to being strapped into Nemesis at Alton Towers. In short...it's brilliant and they should make adult versions.
My one issue is the batteries which can go fuck themselves. For starters, the rocker didn't come with batteries. If I'm buying something which requires batteries, I expect them to be included. That's like buying a phone...then finding that you have to pay extra for the charger.
The rocker takes 1 'C' battery and 4 'D' batteries. If you're unaware of battery sizes, a C is about the size of a house brick and a D is roughly as large as a Fiat Punto. They really are monumentally large and I had to get an extra trolley, just to carry them.
For something that big, I'd expect them to last until my baby is 18yrs old...at which point he'd look fairly ridiculous in the rocker. Sadly, they have a habit of dying relatively quickly. My baby can be having a lovely swing, while listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when the batteries decide to slow down. This then leads to the horrifying situation where the baby-friendly version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star slows down, sounding like the rocker is possessed and needs to be exorcised.
Quite honestly, unless an item takes AA batteries, it has no place in my house.
2. Something we do as humans. It can be littering, swearing, bad driving or a really serious global issue. Tangling Headphones Do you know what really boils my piss? People who have tangled headphones. This may seem very petty and pedantic...but these are my throwaway things, not yours!
Hopefully I can make a case to show you why these people are the WORST! For starters, I love my music. I'm the sort of person who always has headphones on. This may make it look like I'm disconnected with the world...but I'll only stop listening to music when it stops being so good.
I also have some slightly OCD tenancies and do have specific ways of doing things which probably irritates my poor wife and friends. For example, if my wife folds my clothes + they're not folded in my regular way, I will often redo them. You'd think that I would appreciate this kind action...but my brain doesn't work that way. I’m usually left to fold my own clothes now.
Since I can remember, I've always been very particular about how my headphone cord is wrapped up. I'll wrap it around my 4 fingers, then tuck the remaining cord inside the circle I've made. It keeps them neat and makes it easy to undo the cord when I next need them. It takes about 5 seconds and makes the headphones easy to store.
I assumed this was what everyone did...but I was wrong...
Before moving to Leeds, I lived in London for 7 years. You get to see all sorts of people on the tube and I do love a bit of people watching. There was nothing more frustrating than seeing someone dig a pair of headphones out of their bag, then have to spend 5 minutes pissing about, trying to untangle the cord.
Some people even put on their headphones without untangling them. There is a special place in hell which is reserved for people like this.
I do think that the state of your headphone cord is a reflection of how you live your life. If you can spare the 5 seconds to make them look neat, it shows that you take care of yourself and your possessions. You’re the sort of person who would rather take a little more time to do a job, knowing that it’ll actually save you time in the long-run. I imagine that you also have a clean, tidy house, knowing that keeping things neat is aesthetically pleasing.
However, if you’re the sort of person who has a tangled headphone cord, you’re the sort of person who has an electric toothbrush but can’t be bothered to charge it, so you just use it as a really heavy regular toothbrush. You’re the sort of person who saves their files to desktop. You’re the sort of person who leaves teabags in the sink. You’re the sort of person who shares ‘If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at me best’ memes on Facebook. You’re the sort of person who has a half-full glass of water on their bedside table from 3 weeks ago.
Basically, you’re the worst sort of person.
3. Anything you want. It would be less fun if I completely restricted you on topics. There is always something that we might want to throw away and you never know maybe others might feel exactly the same.
Being sung Happy Birthday Although only 4 lines long, the song Happy Birthday is the absolute worst. I don’t necessarily object to the song itself, but it does feel like an ETERNITY when people sing it at you. I know that it’s obligatory at every birthday, but I find it very socially awkward.
My least favourite rendition came on my 18th birthday when I went to TGI Fridays. I was looking forward to my Chocolate Brownie Sundae when a staff member asked me to go with them. I was led into the middle of the room and made to stand on a chair while the entire restaurant sang Happy Birthday at me. One of the staff took a Polaroid picture which shows the exact moment that my testicles retracted into my stomach, such was my feeling of discomfort.
Here’s are my thoughts as each line is sung
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
It’s my birthday! My friends are all singing at me. Oh look! There’s cake. This is all quite pleasant. I’m smiling. What could possibly go wrong?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
Yup. That’s just the same line again. My friends are all getting into the song now. Why are they all staring at me? Can you all stop staring at me? I’m still smiling...but my face is starting to hurt. I can’t change expression and revert back to my normal resting face otherwise they’ll think I’m ungrateful. Keep smiling. JUST. KEEP. SMILING.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR (INSERT NAME HERE)
Oh goodness. Has a group message been sent around before singing commenced, deciding on which version of my name they’re going to use? They could go with David which is 2 syllables and technically fits the song better, but only my Grandma calls me David. They could also go with Dave, but inserted into the song, it’ll sound like ‘DAY-AYVE.’ Alternately, they could all do their own thing and it’ll just sound like a muffled guff of a noise, followed by an awkward murmur of laughter.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
Kill me now.
I think Dave has some great options here.
I think batteries in most small toys are generally annoying! Especially when they are dying as, like Dave mentioned, they start to die and you here a nursery song creepily turn into something from a horror movie. I have, on many evenings, once the boys were asleep heard the dying tones of a musical toy creeping me out whilst I sit in my hermit darkness. I will then add the fact of obscure battery sizes that means you have to go to some country and back to get just makes it infuriating. Is there another option to try though? Maybe to create some USB charging for each toy? Until there is an alternative, I am happy to throw them away!
I am admittedly a little torn on his second option. I wouldn't say that I am as convicted on the way they should be tidied away. I do get a little annoyed when I see people happily put their headphones in when they are all tangled and knotted though! It shouldn't take too long to sort out and would probably save you buying replacements where they have broken. For the mixed feelings I will leave that up to you guys to decide if they need to be thrown or not.
Finally, singing happy birthday! Oh I do hate this aspect. I find it incredibly awkward. Like Dave it feels like a lifetime to be there waiting for everyone to finish and when it does get to the name part everyone usually sings something different. It might be due to the awkward social aspect where attention is drawn to me that I dislike rather than the song or length. I personally would be happy to throw it away though and go without. Would you?
What do you think of his suggestions? Do you agree?
Growing up Christmas was a very busy time for our family. My dad, who owned and ran several milk rounds, had his Christmas stock and larger milk orders to cover the holiday period. My mum, despite helping organise stock for my dad, was working many shifts in a local social club.
With Mum working in a family friendly place my brother and I often accompanied her there and was under a watchful eye from her as well as many of the regulars who knew us well.
Growing up this meant that we were always around alcohol and seeing others enjoying having a drink this time of year. When we both turned 18 we too always enjoyed the festivities and then, at the end of the busier nights ,we would all sit down and enjoy a drink together; something we continued to do until mum passed away.
I was always a fan of the larger Hofmeister. It always had an enjoyable taste and when drunk responsibly a much deserved treat in the holidays.
However, that was many years ago. Sadly, Hofmeister ceased trading back in 2003 and the memories that I had were exactly that, memories; something I always continued doing every year after.
I was, understandably, quite surprised when I received an email discussing that Hofmeister was back if I was willing to try, review and potentially do a giveaway for them!
Following a 14 year hiatus and break (the original brand was stopped by then owners Heineken), the new Hofmeister brand is back and has been made over into a Helles larger, slow-brewed in Germany.
It’s been bought by two guys called Richard Longhurst and Spencer Chambers with a known and extended history within the drinks industry and then brewed by a fourth generation family-owned brewery located on the edge of Ebersberger Forest in Bavaria.
What I instantly loved on reading this is the love of the beer by two guys on a mission and the family centred brewery. It capsulated everything I loved about my childhood, teens and early adulthood by the activities we did as a family; as well as bringing back a beer that I had always loved.
The logo, although still a bear, has been updated and modernised but still has the recognisable aspect of the Hofmeister brand. They have even, in my opinion, smartly kept the slogan “Follow the bear” so it brings back the love that was there without being stuck back in the 80’s and 90’s with the old fashioned image and packaging.
Other than being served behind a bar, you would find the beer in a yellow can but now they can be found in a modernised and styled bottle.
So what does it taste like now?
I was exceedingly lucky to be gifted for the review with 12 of their bottles to test and try. It is very interesting from being a Hofmeister fan from before to now as I wouldn’t say that it tasted the same and yet it still brings that warmly recognisable taste. The colour is lighter than before and despite its 5% alcohol content it isn’t recognisable as a “weaker” volume.
Considering the Helles larger is meant to roughly translate to “light beer” I think this new rejuvenated Hofmeister fits that style perfectly.
For me, this is fantastic and allows the yearly tradition to continue once again! Joining in with the Christmas Spirit Hofmeister have actually also just launched a couple of gift sets on Moonpig; a 2 Pack Selection & Glass anda 5 Pack Selection& Glass perfect for stocking fillers! Alternatively you can purchase some of your own larger here.
Hofmeisterare giving my readers a chance to win this bundle.
The Boy's and I went to our Church's Christingle service on Sunday which was great.
For us it one of the important traditions that we, as a family, enjoy; yet, for others, it is a real central activity at this time of year and with that it is always lovely to see a filled church with a varying degree of generations together.
For everyone who is unsure of what a Christingle is I thought I would share it here.
A Christingle consists of:
An Orange, which represents the earth.
A red ribbon around it representing the blood of Christ.
Dried fruits skewered on cocktail sticks pushed into the orange, representing the fruits of the earth and the four seasons.
A lit candle pushed into the centre of the orange, representing Jesus Christ as the light of the world.
This is one of my favourite things leading up to Christmas as it is a real change of pace compared to other events that might be going on full of festive fun and cheer!
I am a little confused this year as to the origins of the Christingle and its use. Previous years we were told that there were three children, who were very poor, but wanted to give a gift to Jesus, like the other families at church were doing. The only nice thing they had was an orange, so they decided to give him that.
The top was going slightly green, so the eldest cut it out and put a candle in the hole. They thought it looked dull, so the youngest girl took her best red ribbon from her hair and attached it round the middle with toothpicks.
The middle child had the idea to put a few pieces of dried fruit on the ends of the sticks.
They took it to the church for the Christmas mass, and whereas the other children sneered at their meagre gift, the priest took their gift and showed it as an example of true understanding of the meaning of Christmas.
However, this year we heard a different origin where we learnt that Christingles have been taking place in England for nearly 50 years, the idea of the Christingle actually began in Marienborn, Germany in 1747. At a children’s service, Bishop Johannes de Watteville looked for a simple way to explain the happiness that had come to people through Jesus.
He decided to give the children a symbol to do this. This was a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon. At the end of the service, whilst the children held their candles, the bishop said a prayer.
In 1968, John Pensom of The Children's Society adapted Christingle and introduced it to the Church of England in the style that we have it now.
I don’t know which is true as the latter story is new to me but it is what the Children’s Society is promoting as the reason for doing it. Either way, I think the meaning behind it still remains the same; that Christmas isn’t about the best presents that we can give each other but the effort and love that we share with the added message of the church.
Whatever the truth, this is now the symbol for the Children's charity, the Children's Society. Such a great cause check out.
With the story told we went to make our Christingle's and we did with the help of the child group director dressing up as one!
Poor Liam! Although I secretly think he likes it!
Then finally the boys made a Christingle each.
With the Christingle's made and then lit it was a great reflection of what each part meant.
Although it is great to know the reason behind the Christingle the message behind each part is important. I have always found that this time of year you are caught up in the rush of Christmas, pulled into the commercialisation of it all with the idea of what the best present and toy is. This service however strips all that away and shows the meaning behind why we have it. For me, most importantly, tell a story of children who didn't have that much at Christmas but continued to give rather than receiving.
The Boys and I, this Christmas day, will be lighting our Christingle and remembering amongst the hype why we're celebrating Christmas.
This week had marked the start of our countdown towards Christmas and us getting into the chrostmas spirit more.
As we've done a lot I couldn't just choose one photo so instead have chosen my favourite three.
Last weekend we went to our local Dickens Festival but marked with a Dickensian Christmas. We loved bumping into the ghost of Christmas present and of yet to come. The effort these people go to just to add some extra enjoyment for everyone is always aprreciated.
We, with the help of Hannah, also put up our Christmas tree up! Much earlier than we would normally do it!
Finally, I wanted to do something arty this week so using 4 A3 sizes of paper I drew the winter scene and boys, with some guidance only, used pastels to complete it!
What do you all think?
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