Guilty Pleasure

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OK, it’s time to own up to my guilty pleasure, a very embarrassing one for a caring, gentle, nurturing mother. I love watching films and television series about organised crimes, things like The Godfather, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, all of which I have watched many times over. Part of my interest in The Godfather stems from the historical aspect. I love the scenes portraying the family’s arrival at Ellis Island and their early years in the US, but I am also fascinated by the way in which the characters switch so quickly from warm family men to sadistic killers. This is particularly in evidence in The Sopranos where the main character does everything he can to shield his children from his ‘job’ and to steer them towards academic achievement and lawful futures. I am amazed at the almost Jekyll and Hyde personalities of these people, one minute acting as the devoted husband and loving,dutiful son but the next beating a waiter to death for serving the wrong food.

I abhor violence, I really am a gentle person who is patient and loving and kind. I have five sons who have been brought up not to resort to their fists in settling arguments and I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the number of times they fought each other (they did have horrendous verbal arguments but that’s another story). I don’t like blood, rescue spiders from the bath and feel complete and utter remorse if I find a dead mouse in the house (we live in an old house in the country so there’s always at least  one mouse around at harvest time) but when it comes to entertainment I will quite happily watch any amounts of blood and gore. When my children were little I could only indulge my guilty pleasure once they were all safely tucked up in bed and fast asleep. I would watch with the volume turned down low not wanting even the faintest sounds of violence to penetrate the innocent ears of my children. My boys gravitated towards gentle toys like cleaning sets, play kitchens, play shops, arts and crafts, and spent hours immersed in an imaginative world where violence played no part. As they grew older they started to show an interest in the history of the World Wars and learned about the weaponry and battles but still were gentle and non combative. We had many discussions about the futility of war and how violence did not solve problems. Little did any of them know my guilty pleasure.

But boys grow up and become fully aware of the cruelty that exists in the world. At some point my eldest son wanted to watch The Godfather films, partly as background to learning about 1920s America but also because he’d heard what amazing films they were. I was happy to oblige and dutifully sat to ‘supervise’ his viewing. I think at some point during the films it must have become obvious that I had watched them many times before. The proverbial cat was well and truly out of the bag.The bonus was that the two of us could dust off the boxed set of The Sopranos (hidden away during those years when the boys went to bed too late to allow me to watch alone) and we could start watching together from the beginning. Interestingly he too was fascinated by the psychology of the gangsters rather than watching purely from the point of view of the violence. He too is the gentlest of people, proof that watching violence doesn’t make us condone it or become violent ourselves. One thing these films has taught us though is that you can’t always tell what a person is like from the outside; many seemingly innocuous people are in reality monsters just as some people who appear gruff on the outside are really pussy cats.

My eldest son is now away at university and my youngest still far too young to watch such things so my guilty pleasure is once more on the back burner, although I have been watching Game of Thrones, which has no shortage of bloody scenes, with two of the teenagers,;so for the most part now I indulge my totally innocent pleasure of romcoms (interspersed with Grey’s Anatomy). But I am sure in time I will return to the gangster movies; perhaps I will become like my Grandmother who loved all the Charles Bronson films where he played a vigilante on a killing spree. Actually, I seem to remember having to stay up to watch with her to make sure she got to bed safely afterwards. Perhaps that was the beginning of my guilty pleasure…….

An Empty House

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For the first time in 11 days I am completely alone in my house and I don’t like it one bit. There is such an eerie quiet that I can hear every creak of the building and every gurgle of the heating pipes. I live in an old house full of ghosts but even they seem to be absent today. I’ve tried playing music but that just seems to emphasis the fact that I am home alone as no-one is rushing in turn up the volume or change my music selection. I look at the clock and I swear that it is one a go slow regime, how can it still be morning? My kitchen table is clear of clutter for the first time in almost two weeks, there are no dirty cups and plates waiting for the house elf to put in the dishwasher, no empty biscuit or crisp packets littering the floor of the sitting room ‘on their way to the bin’, no demands for food or drinks or enquiries as to the day’s menu plans. I should be revelling in the peace and quiet but no, I’m finding it impossible to concentrate and focus on my ver long to-do list. All through half term (extended by children’s sickness)I kept planning what I would do on the first day of ‘freedom’ but now all I can think about is when will my house be noisy and chaotic again. What is wrong with me?

I’m exactly the same when me children all go to stay with their dad, luckily for me something that happens very infrequently. As soon as they leave I launch myself into a mega blitz of the house, repatriating all the clutter that has made its way downstairs, restoring my home to (almost) glossy magazine splendour. I then go round shutting all the children’s bedroom doors so that I am less aware of their absence. At this point I should be able to enjoy my newfound freedom but instead I wander around the house looking for things to do and only reach the point where I am starting to enjoy the peace and quiet just as they stampede through the door announcing their return home by depositing bags, coats and other paraphernalia all over my beautifully clean and tidy house. And for once I rejoice in the noise and even the inevitable squabbling because my family is around me again and my house is once more a home.

Perhaps I’ve reached the point where I can only function when I have too much to do and too many people talking to me at once. If that’s the case how on earth am I going to manage when all my chicks have flown the nest? Contact rent-a-crowd?It’s probably just a case of the grass being greener on the other side and in a few hours I’ll be wondering what the big deal was as I run around the kitchen like a headless chicken making meals, picking up clothes, helping with homework, and nagging boys to tidy up, pack bags, go to bed. As the saying goes, ‘be careful what you wish for…….”

Crafty Cook’s Easy Peasy Muffins

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Crafty Cook loves making these easy peasy muffins with her children. Give them a try!


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The recipe below is for chocolate chip muffins but you can use any type of flavouring, both sweet and savoury. If making savoury then leave out the sugar!

For 12 muffins you will need:

2 mugs of self raising flour

1 mug of caster sugar

1 large egg (beaten)

3 level tablespoons of butter or margarine

1 mug of milk

1 mug of chocolate chips (or alternative flavouring)

1. First preheat the oven to 200°C / Fan 180° / Gas 6

2. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the sugar

3. Melt the butter and then add the beaten egg and the milk, mixing well.

Pour this into the flour,combine and mix until smooth

4. Add the chocolate chips pr other flavouring

5. Spoon carefully into muffin cases and bake for around 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Leave to cool and enjoy!

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It Wasn’t Me!

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I think we must have sprites living in our house. Every time I go to the loo, there’s either no paper left or just one solitary piece clinging onto the cardboard tube for dear life. Whenever I ask who used the last piece I’m always met with the words, “It wasn’t me.” It’s the same with so many things: who drank the last of the milk, who wee’d all over the floor, who forgot to flush the loo, who failed to feed the cat, who ate all the chocolate (probably me but let’s skirt over that), who left the tap running and flooded the house? And whenever I ask for help tidying away all the day’s clutter, it seems that no-one got anything out. Evidently things just magically made their way out of bedrooms and downstairs. I’m so glad I have angelic children who never do anything wrong but for the life of me I don’t know what to do about these sprites. Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to instal CCTV cameras in all the rooms and then I can catch them in the act but knowing my luck the camera would probably stop working just at the very moment that the misdemeanour happened.

My biggest hope is that some day I can actually go a whole 24 hours without having to nag my children to carry out the simplest of tasks. How difficult is it really to hang up one coat, put away one pair of shoes, remember where you’ve left your PE kit, homework, money, brain? I think I probably have greater problems as I only have sons and they definitely develop a certain tunnel vision at around age 8 or 9 when they seem totally incapable of finding anything (the whole hunter gatherer vision thing) and also can only do one thing at a time except for homework which magically they seem able to do while watching TV, playing on a laptop, eating and texting at the same time.How does that work? Gone are the days when I could make a game out of tidying up and when dusting and vacuuming were exciting things to do-my boys’ favourite toy was a cleaning trolley for heaven’s sake! Now it’s very much my job; they don’t seem to see the mess and seem convinced that they would be depriving me of one of the greatest pleasures in life should they empty the dishwasher or take out the bins. Perhaps they too are convinced that we have sprites in the house who magically appear to do all these jobs; I knew it was a mistake to read them “The Elves and the Shoemaker” so much when they were little.

Oh well, unless someone can come up with a brilliant way of bringing about a radical change in their attitude I guess I will just have to resign myself to the role of chief cook and bottle washer for the foreseeable future. I’ll have to wait patiently until they have their own homes and then take great pleasure in being one of those visitors who allow themselves to be waited on hand and foot. And how about, if I have grandchildren, buying them lots of arts and crafts sets with glitter galore. They do say revenge is a dish best served cold, can’t wait!

Make The Most Of It!

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Whenever I took my firstborn out in his pram I would invariably be stopped by elderly ladies who would coo at the baby and then tell me to “make the most of it, they grow up so fast.” At the time the days seemed to crawl by at a snail’s pace. I was blissfully happy with my baby, totally head over heels in love, but for the first time in years I had so much time to fill. Being used to long hours in a stressful job and used to fitting all the household chores into odd minutes here and there I found it simplicity itself to keep on top of things. (I know, I was lucky.) Although my baby didn’t seem to like napping he was very easy and happy, especially when being cuddled, talked to or breastfed. My best friend would phone me every day during her lunch period which helped to break up the day but apart from that I had hours between when my husband left for work in the morning and when he returned in the evening. This was even worse when he travelled abroad for business. I was the first of my peers to start a family and had been too busy at work to attend antenatal classes so knew no other mums. The days seemed endless and it appeared to me that I had all the time in the world. Like most mums I couldn’t wait until the next stage-an  end to sleepless nights, solid food, walking, talking, toilet training,school, independence.

Now, twenty year sand five children later, I wonder where all that time went. I look at my eldest son and it seems like only yesterday that we brought him home from hospital wearing his Winnie the Pooh sleepsuit. So much has happened, so many ups and downs, and I realise that some of the happiest memories and the funniest family stories came from the trivial events of everyday life: a baby emptying his bowl of porridge over his head (EVERY day), a toddler helping himself to all the cooking chocolate from the cupboard, one son asking if his little brother would be a girl when he grew up, another asking me in a very loud voice (in a loo in Amsterdam of all places) what had happened to my willy. The stories go on and on and yet at the time seemed so mundane, so unimportant. I wish it was like in Harry Potter where with a flick of a wand you could extract all your memories and watch them over. But in reality there isn’t time; we live in the here and now and are too busy making the next set of memories.

So now, I too tell new mothers to make the most of it, to enjoy every minute because life rushes by so quickly. And when I’m having a bad day and everything seems to be going wrong I remember that some day in the future I will look back on my day of ‘disasters’ and remember instead something funny or sweet that my children said or did; well, I hope so anyway!

Valentine’s Day Blues

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I’m new to blogging and although I use computers a fair bit for work I’ve just stupidly deleted my very first blog post. I can’t believe that it’s gone, never to see the light of day again. Am I just too old to deal with technology, too stupid to grasp the basics, too stubborn to follow my own advice (think, think and think again before pressing delete) or is my brain addled by Valentine’s Day? I keep seeing ads for chocolates, roses and champagne and it’s making me hungry, thirsty and grouchy. Maybe there should be an equivalent day for those of us who have no Valentine. Mind you, that would be of absolutely no help at all to those who have a Valentine who isn’t very good at romantic gestures: “of course I love you, I’ve just done the bins!”


There’s nothing else for it; I need chocolate and I need it now so I’m off to buy the works: chocolate hearts, flowers and any other treat that takes my fancy. Well I’m worth it, aren’t I? May have to wear dark glasses though, don’t want people to know I’m a lonely heart on Valentine’s Day.

My ex drives me mad! (ex files #1)

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I have been divorced for many years now so why does my ex still have the power to drive me to distraction and why do we have conversations that end with me appearing to be the childish, unreasonable one when he’s totally in the wrong?When we first separated we were the perfect divorced couple but that was because nothing in our relationship had changed; he came and stayed with me and the children at weekends, I had total responsibility for all matters to do with the family, he could just dip in and out when it suited him. Now I hate him being in my home and feel he should be able to take responsibility for his own relationship with the children but this means that he continues to pick and choose when to be a father and never seems to put them first. Every so often he’ll have a “daddy day” and phone them or perhaps even me to find out how school is but then that will be it for weeks. When things go wrong it’s all my fault and he has a knack of making me feel like a bad parent.

People tell me that I more than make up for his shortcomings and that the children are happy and doing well but it seems so unfair. They deserve more and so so do I; it isn’t fair that all the decision making is my responsibility; it isn’t fair that I am always the nagging parent; it isn’t fair that I  am always the parent worrying where they are at night; it isn’t fair that he forgets their birthdays; it isn’t fair that they don’t hear from him for weeks at a time and don’t even know where he is. But then what really isn’t fair is that he then makes me feel like the spoilt child who is making too many demands!

How do other people cope with their exes?