Sunday, 29 March 2009

Daylight Saving Strikes

I checked the clock on the computer about 15 minutes ago, and I was certain it said 00:50. So imagine my surprise and not inconsiderable confusion when I checked the time of my previous post, only to see 02:10!! I didn't think it'd taken me that long to write my entry, even though it was interrupted. Then I remembered, daylight savings starts today, all the clocks go forward. Theoretically one hour less sleep, but it won't make much difference in this house!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Earth Hour

It occurs to me that writing a blog presupposes that there is at least one other person 'out there' who is interested in what the author has to say, which is either egotistical or optimistic, I'm not sure which. A little while ago I cried out into the wilderness 'follow me!' or at least let me know you're listening, but as one of my listeners said (well, he sorta said it) as long as I've got something to write I should blog, regardless of how many might be listening. So in the end, blogging is less about entertaining others and more about catharsis for the author, at least it seems that way to me. Sometimes. It might be tonight anyway, we'll see how this post turns out! It is certainly true that I express my personal feelings better in print than I ever do verbally, so here goes.

Earth Hour, one hour from 2030 to 2130, local time in which you turn off all the lights, computers, televisions etc. in your household and, well, do something else for a change.

I had a bath. A lovely hot bath with lots of bubbles. I let my mind wander for a bit, then wander a bit further.

I thought about the time in the UAE I tried on an abaya. It freaked Catherine out because she couldn't see my face (she was only 4 at the time). I quite liked wearing a long piece of clothing that covered me all up, until the man in the shop put the niqab over my face. Suddenly I felt invisible, claustrophobic, suffocated. It didn't help it was a very hot day, the clothes were black and made of some sort of synthetic material. Catherine started to cry so I hurriedly took it off, but I wish I'd bought at least the abaya and hijab (not the niqab though). I wondered about it a bit, lying there in the bath. I've heard Muslim women describe it as liberating, because they don't have to worry about how other people perceive them. They can dress however they like underneath, but I wonder about the feeling of being invisible. I know that whenever I see a woman all covered up I find myself consciously trying not to stare at her. I think perhaps she's dressed that way out of modesty, so modesty would require me not to look, hence the invisibility thing. Yet me trying not to stare clearly means she is not invisible at all, so why do I think it? Perhaps being completely covered is liberating. I wondered what it would be like to walk down into Woking in an abaya and hijab with my face covered and thought about doing it for an experiment. Would that offend Muslims if I did? I hope not.

I have just found an article written by a Muslim woman who decided to wear the niqab for a day. It's fascinating, heartbreaking and unsurprising in a sad sort of way. I think if she had that much distress wearing it for one day, there's no way I could do it. No way at all.

So, back to my bath.

Thinking about wearing the niqab got me thinking about confidence and why on earth I want to colour my hair purple. I've made an appointment to get it done next week, I've told my sister I'm going to do it, so I guess I'm doing it but I can't help but wonder why. Yes, I love purple, I think it suits me, but on my hair? When I made the appointment I told the girl I was sick of having a hair colour that fits in. Maybe that's it. Maybe I'm tired of being conventional and it's only now, at 38 years of age, that I feel I have the self-confidence to do what the hell I want.

Yeah right. I wouldn't know what self-confidence was if it was 6 foot 4 inches and plastered to Hugh Jackman. I wouldn't notice it, that's for certain! I mean, what is self-confidence? Confidence in the self... does it mean not caring what other people think of you? I think that's just selfishness, not confidence and not possible for us social primates anyway. We all care what others think of us, because we all want to get what we want and be happy. Essentially. You can't do that on your own, so what others think of us matters whether we like it, or admit to it, or not. Does self-confidence mean you like yourself? If so, I fail on this definition too. Can't stand my body, I hate my clothes and my hair, don't get me started on my hair... I sometimes think I'm a fairly decent human being, but this is mostly after a few drinks and definitely not at 5pm after a long day and the kids are yelling at me. Does self-confidence mean you accept yourself? Fail on this one too, needless to say. Move on!

The question of the purple hair thing remains unanswered. I just like the look on others and think it might look okay on me, maybe that will have to do for now. And so my thoughts in the bath rolled on...

I closed my eyes for a little bit, thought about falling asleep but couldn't. It's difficult to relax with the prospect of drowning niggling at you. A little problem that doesn't seem to affect my son, I must say. One evening after putting Naomi down for the night I came down the stairs and was surprised to hear snoring. I smiled to myself and thought how tired Keiran must have been to be asleep already, so I went into his room to check on him. The bathroom light was still on, the fan whirring away, so I switched off the light and continued into Keiran's room. Upon seeing his empty bed I thought he must be on the floor somewhere - he's done that plenty of times and the room was dark. He wasn't there yet I could still hear the snoring. With mounting dread I turned towards the bathroom, which is right beside Keiran's room and sure enough, with the light off of course, there was my darling boy, fast asleep on his back in about 5cm of warm water. He looked so completely comfortable, half-floating there, that I almost didn't want to move him, but I scooped him out and cuddled him tightly as he woke up and started to complain. I took him into his room, dressed him and put him into bed then went downstairs. I asked Peter whether he'd forgotten anything upstairs... he was a bit surprised when I told him! He had forgotten, actually *sigh* Why is it always the clever ones that can be so spectacularly dense?

So, not falling asleep in the lovely hot water, I got up and had a cold shower. As you do. You should try it, it's lovely. I washed my hair and got back into the bath, but it wasn't long before I started to drift off in the direction of Nod so I had another cool shower, dressed and slid into my bed. I closed my eyes and I could hear the sound of Peter and Catherine talking downstairs. Catherine started to read from her novel and I listened, not really understanding everything she said through the filter of distance and sleepiness, but I enjoyed listening to her nonetheless. It doesn't seem that long ago that her confidence with reading was non-exisitent. She didn't want to read 'chapter books' because her Year 3 teacher had told her she couldn't. Wretched woman. Catherine was so put down by that it made me furious, but she's worked so hard over the last few years that now she is reading so beautifully she's been made the narrator in the senior play this year. They're doing Alice in Wonderland and from what I can tell from the script, her role is even more substantial than that of Alice. For one thing, two girls will share the role of Alice but Catherine has to do the narration on her own. She has to know what all the players will be doing, so she will know when to say her lines. I think she has two solo songs to sing, and is first up on stage. I am so immensely proud of her, everyone will be completely sick of me raving about it. It's just as well tickets are limited otherwise I'd be insisting everyone I know should come to the play. As it is, I will buy the DVD and insist visitors watch at least a little bit *lol* When she came upstairs to say goodnight, I told her this and I hope she was a little bit proud. I'm certainly very proud of her.

So that's pretty much it for how I spent this year's Earth Hour. I did have one final thought before I went downstairs to switch on the computer and resume my contribution to global warming. Many people, when asked what they would do for an hour in the dark, think of doing what comes naturally when there's a blackout. The thought that occured to me though, was this. Earth Hour was about bringing the state of the planet to the forefront of people's minds. No-one really thinks switching off your lights for an hour is going to make a huge difference to global warming in the long run but it does make you think, and maybe action will follow thought. However, consequences frequently follow action, as anyone with children knows and if anyone has any consequences of the child-shaped variety after this evening, they will have contributed more to global warming in the long run than their lights will ever do...

'Night all!

In the News Today

I've been getting such a laugh out of the news this afternoon.

There's the dumbest criminal in Pennsylvania, who thought it would be a good idea to rob a retired policeman at gunpoint - at a policeman's convention. When asked for comment, he said 'I'm smooth.' Yeah, like peanut butter, mate!

Then, when talking about the floods in North Dakota, President Obama felt that given the fluidity of the situation... really, does anything after that actually matter?

And now to Earth Hour, which is being marked around the world today by critics conserving their hot air. In March 2008, "critics have dismissed the event as a gimmick that will have little effect" and this year "critics describe the event as a symbolic and meaningless gesture." Well done on getting into the spirit of things, having a bit of fun at the same time as trying to do something symbolic and gimmicky to recognise our environment needs help from the supposedly smart apes.

And speaking of Earth Hour, I know exactly what I'm going to do. I will make sure the kids are in bed, preferably asleep but out of my hair at the very least. I am going to have a bath with candles and spend an hour or so drifting off and cursing the planning official who thought we were all so dumb that we needed to have a law stating there should be no power points in bathrooms. I mean, come on. The Brits aren't that stupid that if they see a power point they experience an overwhelming desire to do something dangerous with it, like throw water on it or something.

Did you know that in science labs, the gas taps, water taps and power points are frequently side by side, and I've had a student on more than one occasion splash water into the power point and short out the entire building. So maybe they are that stupid.

I don't know what my point was now. What were we talking about again? Oh, yes, Earth Hour, right.

I was lamenting the lack of power points in my bathroom because I thought it would be nice to listen to a CD while I soak, but of course it's just occurred to me that CD players need power to operate so I wouldn't be able to listen anyway... sigh... I think I'll just go to bed giggle.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Snapshot

The BBC has links to the 10 most read stories of the moment. I've no idea how often the list is updated, but this is today's most popular, as at 2120 this evening. It provokes me to muse on how stupid, lucky, funny and tragic people can be. Enjoy!

Stealth jet crashes in US desert
60-foot penis painted on roof
UK government bond auction fails
Britton quits ITV's This Morning
Missing chef 'has come to harm'
Sir Fred Goodwin's home attacked
Man survived both atomic bombings
Tweed to attend Goody's funeral
Dead girl given truancy warning
AIG employee quits at 'betrayal'

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Every Day is Mother's Day

I had a brilliant day on Sunday. It being Mothering Sunday here in the UK (but it's not Fathering Sunday later in the year, I wonder why...) I was awoken by the melodious notes of my children's voices winding up the stairs... well, they were giggling and yelling really but what the heck, they'd brought me a mug of tea and a little present (a purse I'd bought myself and given to the kids to give me. It's what you have to do to receive something you actually want rather than a bottle of talcum powder...). I chose not to grumble at the fact it was 7.30 in the morning (I am such a paragon of motherhood, no doubt about it!) and enjoyed my children's company for a while, until Naomi filled her nappy and the room emptied.

I then got up, got dressed and went downstairs to make a cooked breakfast for everyone, which I actually quite enjoy doing. I hassled Peter to get off the phone (he was talking to his brother, so fair enough but time was getting on!) and I called my mum, feeling slightly guilty I hadn't been in touch for some time. Actually, the last time we spoke it was in February when we had that big dumping of snow. The kids were home because school was closed so I sent them outside to play while Naomi had a nap. Thinking I had at least 5 minutes at a time of day that wasn't in the middle of the night for mum I called her. I kid you not, 4 minutes 30 seconds into the phone call (I know because our phone has that funky display thingy) I had to hang up on her because Keiran wanted to come inside and he was very wet with snow of course. *sigh* There are quite a few people I haven't spoken to for quite some time, all because I can't get five minutes uninterrupted at a decent hour of the day. Never mind, it won't be forever and hopefully my friends will forgive me.

But back to Mother's Day.

The day was looking completely perfect as far as the weather was concerned so we had a quick lunch after Sunday morning pottering (Keiran and I watched Dinosaurs, the movie) and decided to go for a walk. We initially chose Hatchlands, but it turned out to be closed so we went to the village of Shere instead. We went on a short walk, thanks to our Kiddie Walks in Surrey guide book and ended the day with an early roast dinner at the local pub. The kids were exhausted by the time we got home and peace reigned in the Lawrey household by 8pm. Bliss!

I logged on to the BBC website, as is my daily habit, and I found this beautiful series of portraits. They show pictures of pregnant women in the Congo. One mother hopes she will still be healthy and able to work in the fields after her child is born. How different that is from my hopes for after the arrival of my children! I am so very fortunate, I know. I wish there was more I could do. I hope those women all delivered safely and will one day see their children achieve more than they ever dreamed possible. Happy Mother's Day, every day.

Friday, 20 March 2009


I asked Peter The Question No Wife Should Ask tonight.

I said, "do I look good in this dress or does it make me look fat?"

His reply?

A blank look and just one word.


YES??? What does that mean? Honestly, FAIL, darling, FAIL!!!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Slightly disconcerted this evening...

The dishwasher is making odd noises. It sounds... well, it sounds wet.

Now, I know it's supposed to sound that way, but you know the difference between the right sort of wetness and the too wet sound... I'm hoping it's just that the dishwasher isn't as full as I usually have it when I put it on. I will ignore it and hope my floor isn't flooded later. That is the simple thing to do, if not the most practical I suppose. The trouble is, despite being old and decrepit I have an overactive imagination. If I hear a bump in the night I worry it's some bugger sneaking into the house and I just have to get up and make sure. One night I was so positive I'd heard the back door open I went to the kitchen and picked up a knife before wandering around the house, checking all the kids' rooms and even the cupboard under the stairs... if someone had broken in they would have freaked! I hope it would have been at the knife, not the sight of me in my dressing gown.

But back to my imagination. I imagine the worst so often that sometimes I make myself ignore things that are going on. Like the alarm that was sounding just a few minutes ago. I could hear it through the baby monitor and figured it was just a car alarm going off in the street. I knew it wasn't my car, 'cause ours is a blaring horn not a wailing siren so I ignored it. Next thing I know, Catherine comes downstairs and tells me there's flashing lights in the street outside. A fire truck had turned up. Bit dumb of me to ignore the alarm in retrospect. What if it had been a fire in Naomi's room? And there I go, imagining the worst again. As it turned out, they had a look around and left - false alarm somewhere.

My imagination keeps me awake at night. I'm such a control freak, I'll think about conversations I think I might have the next day or the next week and play them and replay them in my mind until I know exactly what I'm going to say. The problem with that is the person I'm talking with doesn't know what they're supposed to say so the conversation (if it even eventuates) never turns out the way I expected and it's usually not as bad as I think it will be. I don't do this for all conversations, by the way, only the ones I think are going to be stressful or difficult in some way. I've no idea why I do it. In my rational moments I know it's a tremendous waste of energy and entirely pointless, but I can't stop my mind from going around in circles anyway. Maybe it's a result of a stressful childhood. I did it as a teenager too and it sort of hangs around even now, when I'm adult enough to cope with difficult situations.

The ironic thing is though, when I'm in a stressful situation that I haven't had time to prepare for, I can cope really well. I can say what needs to be said with a reasonable amount of firmness, conviction or authority but hopefully still be yielding, to a point anyway. I'm one of those people that copes well with stress at the time then falls apart later. I guess that's a good thing. The dishwasher still sounds too wet though....

Monday, 9 March 2009

In the Land of Oz...

Another hysterically funny news item from home... It does raise a serious issue, however: would you have mistaken a kangaroo for a lunatic ninja?

Hero in underpants tackles a 'roo

'I felt the kangaroo jumping on top of us'

A man in Australia suffered scratched buttocks and shredded underpants wrestling with a kangaroo after it smashed through his bedroom window.

Beat Ettlin, his wife and daughter cowered beneath their blankets as it jumped on their bed.

But it then bounded into the room of the Ettlins' young son, who screamed, and Mr Ettlin was forced to act.

Mr Ettlin struggled to get the hopping marsupial into a headlock and drag it to the front door.

Shoved outside, wounded, it disappeared into a nearby reserve outside Canberra.

Inside, the animal - which Mr Ettlin said was about his own height, 5 ft 9 in (175cm) - had gouged holes in the furniture and smeared blood over the walls as it bounced around the house.

"I just kept holding the covers over my head and felt the kangaroo jumping on top of us," recalled Mr Ettlin's wife, Verity Beman.

She described her husband as "a hero: a hero in Bonds undies" - referring to a brand of underwear popular in Australia.

Mr Ettlin, who is 42 and originally from Switzerland, described himself as a lucky man.

"My initial thought when I was half awake was, 'it's a lunatic ninja coming through the window'," he said

Kangaroos are common around the outskirts of Canberra, but only rarely invade homes, experts say.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Breathing Earth

Today I found a very, well, I'm not sure if 'interesting' is the right word, although it is that, 'moving' might be better... thought-provoking, yes, that suits. I found a thought-provoking website today called Breathing Earth. It shows you the number of births, deaths and the amount of CO2 emissions over the period you've been watching, and you can look at a particular country too. There are white stars exploding all over the globe as a person is born, and less often a black star as someone dies. Frequently a country momentarily lights up red as it emits 1000 tons of CO2. I went searching for a country whose CO2 emissions had dropped since two years earlier, and the only one I could find (in an admittedly brief search) was Zimbabwe. That doesn't seem to bode well for the rest of the world reducing it's CO2 emissions. How to do it? It's easy, 90% unemployment, inflation in unmeasurable trillions of percent, a government led by a once good man turned tyrant... I shouldn't think so much. I should go and turn off the TV screen that no-one's watching...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

What have you been doing?

Today, embarrassing myself in front of a bunch of sixth-formers *lol* I do love doing the A-level stuff, but sometimes it's so hard to know how to go about it.. Never mind, they're pretty forgiving (I hope) and a lovely group. Still, how could I forget what a homeostatic endotherm was, honestly the clue is in the name! Other than that, chasing Naomi - she's walking and getting into every cupboard she shouldn't be and completely disinterested in the safe cupboards. How do they figure that out? She must like the way my voice sounds when I say "no". Keiran is becoming a boy. Today he was mucking around with another boy at preschool. They had toy pliers and they were pinching each other's eye with them. As you do! So he's got a small bruise in the corner of his eye. He's also taken to pushing Naomi over sometimes. I don't think he's trying to hurt her, it's in a boistrous play sort of way, but I have to stop it, just in case. As for Catherine, she is (mostly) the calm in the storm. She helps when she sees a need, she does as she's asked, she's kind and gentle. I love her soooo much!

Right now, I've got a sore throat brewing, a sore back and a headache, but I'm happy. Who couldn't be, with such great kids!

Sunday, 1 March 2009


Hooray, we are going away at Easter time to Brittany for 9 days! We can't really afford to, well, we can obviously but the money could be better spent... actually no. I don't think it can be better spent. This year has already been a difficult and stressful one and it's only set to be more of the same, unless some miracle occurs. It's important to have something to look forward to, I think. Difficult times only seem worse when you don't have anything to look forward to, and the tunnel is awfully long when you can't see the light at the end... It will be brilliant to get away as a family for a decent length of time. We are taking the fast ferry to Cherbourg from Portsmouth and then staying somewhere in Brittany. I've no idea where, but it's booked! We've got a new, smaller car seat for Keiran so Catherine will have more room in the back of the car and she will be able to sit by the window. The weather will be warming up, we can go to the beach.. can't wait!

In other news, Naomi is now walking very comfortably, and getting into mischief. She loves following Keiran around opening cupboards and pulling everything out of them... Keiran is developing so quickly at the moment. His drawing has changed in the last month from simple scribbles to recognisable constructions. He's drawn a lovely series of smiling faces and even a turtle! He's got a place at the local village school, Horsell Village which is great because it's a really good school and all the neighbours' kids go there. Catherine has a place at Box Hill school, which is a lovely place with a strong international focus. She's really looking forward to it, although she wants to board, no idea where we're getting the money from, but hey! It'll all be fine...