Reading to your children ….. free podcasts with stories

There is huge value in spending time sitting with your child and reading them a story.

No doubt there are studies and experiments, and scientific journals dedicated to just this area of parenting and whether a child that has been read to, fares better at school than a child that was not read to.

 

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I enjoy reading to my children.  Sometimes I am reluctant to abandon my tv show to go and sit on their beds and read “Find Teddy Bear” or what ever the book is called.

Once I have read the story, I always feel good.  I get that little warm glow that you do when your realised you have done parenting well, or just a bit well.  I also enjoy, as the kids age, the changing levels at which they participate in the stories.

How they remember the “punch lines” or realise too quickly if you have tried to skip three pages. Or make the sounds of the character eating, or sleeping or falling.

Connor is too cool for me to read him a story.

I usually read stories to Georgia and Isabelle together.

There are times however when you can’t always read your child a book, but it would be nice to have some of the classic tales read to them, or have good podcasts on hand.

I know it is easier to pop on a DVD to pass the time, but the beauty of reading is that it creates the story in your child’s head, and your child’s imagination fills in the details — which often they can’t do with a DVD, because all the details are supplied.

I like what goes on in my head when someone tells me a story, or when I read a story.

My brain is able to imagine the tastes, the smells, the sights and the sounds.  My “hearing” of the story differs from everyone else’s, and that is the power of reading and books.

I read the Book Thief and it was one of those stories, the easily evokes the scenes and the characters in your head.  Everyone who I now who has read it, was equally enthralled with the story, and how their mind was able to sketch and colour in the characters.

I am always looking for audio stories that I can play to the kids either when we are driving, or maybe when they are tucked into my bed, and I prefer them not to watch a movie.

I found a few on this site – IONA.FM  this morning, and it includes

Alice in Wonderland

Playtime (BBC Learning)

Step inside a Story

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Secret Garden

There are also several Afrikaans podcasts, which are pretty good, and really useful if your child is learning Afrikaans at school and you have an accent like I do when you are trying to help them with their pronunciation.

There are 25 podcast channels for books for children at this stage.

If you were wondering where Gareth Cliff went to –  you can also find him here:

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There are several podcasts – you may want to listen to : Clinical Sexologist Prof Elna McIntosh in studio chatting to Gareth on the Gareth Cliff Show would be an interesting one to start with.

 

Happy podcasting.

For those of you who have never heard of …..

For those of you who have never heard of …..Ben Dahlhaus — it’s a pleasure …

 

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No, this blog post serves no other function that just a place you can stare at Ben Dahlhaus …..

 

Need a bit more?

Pop along here - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2695608/Is-hottest-man-earth-right-Watch-David-Gandy-Ben-sad-face-Dahlhaus-supermodel-crown.html

You can also go over and be his friend on Facebook — he looks like a lad that does not have enough friends - https://www.facebook.com/bendahlhausofficial

His instagram has 9 posts, and just short of 2 000 followers – http://instagram.com/bendahlhausofficial

 

A mental mind fuck can be nice.

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I know all the words to The Rocky Horror Picture Show — the dialogue and all the words to the musical interludes.

Last year I went along to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Fugard.  I was expecting it to be bad, or slightly not great.  Partly because I worship the show so much, and I felt any attempt at it would fall short of the original and leave me dissatisfied, and wanting.

I was wrong.

It is not the first time, and my guess is that it will not be the last time.

It was fucking incredible.  I loved it.

The show was brilliant, the cast were ….. oh my god they were good.

It is back on at The Fugard in Cape Town, from the 22 July 2014 — get tickets, put on your corsette, pull on a pair of stilettos. and rock yourself into a smile.

It is so fucking good — enjoy!

 

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Book at The Fugard – not to be missed!  https://www.facebook.com/TheRockyHorrorShowFugardTheatre

 

I sniff puppies …. yes that is what I like to do …..

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I am not sure how many pleasures should be guilty pleasures.

My problem with guilt is that when it starts to be the uninvited passenger to your pleasure. It eventually stops being the co-driver and takes the driver’s seat, leaving you to slink away feeling shamed, and embarrassed for every thinking about doing anything delightful.

 

What do I enjoy ……

 

1.  Lying in a bath on a Saturday afternoon, sipping my chilled wine and reading my book.  With no kids kicking the door down, no dog hanging over the side of the bath trying to drink the water, and no cat trying to lie behind my head.  Quiet. Peace.  Wine.  Warmth.  A good book that I do not feel guilty that its pages warp.

 

2.  The Kardashians.  I actually dislike the Kardashians.  I do not understand what their point is on the earth.  I cannot stand hearing them speak, and watching the family do what ever it is that the Kardashians do.  I really detest them.  But this does not stop me flipping through a magazine and being captivated by anything printed, photographed or written about the Kardashians. If it has Kim’s arse in it, then I am even more interested.  I can’t explain it.  I love to hate them.

 

3.  Buying a pizza that I can throw in the oven, opening a bottle of Viognier, grabbing my warm fuzzy blanket, putting the gas heater on and picking up the remote.  That moment when I settle into the couch and realise I am alone, and it is just me, the 30 000 kilojoules of pizza, the clink of ice in my glass, and my press-press-pressing the remote control buttons.  Pure happiness. Pure happiness right there.

 

4.  The smell of puppies.  I love the smell of puppies.  I am not sure what it is.  It is a bit of the milky smell, it is that warmth like a jersey left in the sun.  I love to sniff puppies. Yes, people I am a puppy sniffer.

 

5.  Fresh bread, straight out of the oven, with a dollop of butter, that melts as you try to pick it up — and drips on your shirt as you try to maneuver the bread into your pie hole.    Knowing the entire time that this will set of a spate of IBS that you will be crying about in about an hour …. but there are still 59 minutes to enjoy this moment of true bliss.

 

I could go on —- I am very embarrassed about my Kardashian obsession — I think I would be more accepting of me if I just picked old chewing gum off from the underside of desks and re-chewed those.

Parents – how they get it right, and how they get it so very wrong …..

I have always been critical over my parents and their ability to parent.

I have written some scathing blog posts in the past.

At the time, that was how I felt.

This blog is where I put my thoughts, my ramblings and sometimes my emotional spews.

I know I can go back and delete, block or amend the many blog posts that I do not necessarily agree with anymore. Or the ones that I do not feel the same about at the moment … I could.  I prefer not to.

One of the things I like about blogging, is that it gives me the luxury to go back and read my thoughts.  To see how I felt about something.  And compare that to how I think and feel about something now.

To recapture my emotions in a slice of time.  To see my view point then.  And compare it to now.  That is a rare gift, and blogging allows that.

My parents should never have married.  If they did not have sex, that would actually have been great too.

Then there would have been no pregnancy, and  no p Read the full post »

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes

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Sadly I am often guilty of several of these Grammar and Word Crimes.

I really enjoyed this one from “Weird Al” Yankovic.

 

 

 

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WordCrimes

 

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For parents, happiness is a very high bar …..

 


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The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it’s “a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic,” as writer Jennifer Senior puts it.

Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety?

Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive.

In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

Excellent podcast : http://iono.fm/e/83282

Or view the Ted Talks : http://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_senior_for_parents_happiness_is_a_very_high_bar

 

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Would you consider a discrete friendship?

“Hi, lovely profile. Wud u consider a discrete friendship?” This was from 43–Married–Southern Suburbs (Unspecified Suburb), Cape Town, South Africa  ——–  I’m going to go with, no thanks. My guess is this must work for some men, and women.  Not so much for me.   berry cartoon internet dating  

Suicide Bunny gets me through the day …. sometimes

I am so behind, and keep missing out on these ones, so yes, my blog challenge is pretty much ending up in the toilet.

There was one on day 4  that went along the lines of:  Is there something in your life that you absolutely can’t live without?  What is it and why can’t you imagine life without it?

Let’s assume that I am not permitted to list any of these, which would make life barely worth living if they did not exist:

  • My children
  • My friends
  • Nutella Chocolate Spread
  • Lays chips
  • Chuckles
  • The feeling of emerging yourself in a hot bath that smells like Orange Blossoms at the end of a day when you feel chilled to your bones
  • Wine
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush and ablution facilities
  • Books
  • Beautiful pens to write with
  • Tea
  • Good restaurants
  • Woolworths
  • Good sushi
  • Laughing until you snort
  • Dexter, Parker, and Jackson
  • My laptop
  • My leather boots from Poetry
  • Falling asleep on the couch whilst watching a movie
  • Oxygen, the o-zone layer, the earth’s magnetic force, the sun —- and all the other bits and bobs that keep us stuck to the earth’s surface and wake up to survive another day.

The list is somewhat endless of what I would choose not to live without, and items that are quite dear to my heart.  I could keep this list going until we both got very bored, if you are not there already.

To relook at the question -  Is there something in your life that you absolutely can’t live without? 

I gave it some real thought, not just about “can’t live” but “can’t survive” without ……

I can’t live without humour.  Without my humour often times than not.

I do not think I would NOT have survived my life, or myself without having my sense of humour.

This year has been a total shit festival, on many levels, and even when I was sitting in the corner crying, I still have managed to make myself laugh with the ridiculous way my mind often filters and orders information.

Even at my lowest, my internal funny voice has made me smile, a bit.

My humour is often the vehicle that gets me out of bed, and functioning.  My humour and self deprecating style has been my best tool, and my fondest companion against what could have been and still may be the rapid and quick demise into madness.

Or  more extreme levels of madness, than I am already dealing with.

I need my humour to look at things differently.

I need my humour to be able to absorb something that my brain is often times screaming against.

I need my humour to get me through my day.

I am not of the society that believes “a day without a laugh is a day lost” but I need my humour to help me cope.

I am sitting looking at a very serious letter that I need to attend to.  I have already read through it, and I knew that it was coming.

I know what it says, I know what I need to do, I am not sure if I can do it — or whether this letters fore spells a rather unfortunate change of circumstances that I will need to deal with very soon.

It is not a happy letter.

It does not make me feel warm and fuzzy, but my humour and my rather wry way of looking at situations, does help me to carry on and get this day done without offing myself by means of a papercut.  Granted it would need to be a very deep papercut.

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First date on a dating site ….. well the intro at any rate ….

I sat before my flashing screen and my keyboard typing away.  Chatting to people, and feeling slowly more brave.

Not brave enough to tell anyone my name, but brave enough to enter into conversations.  Light conversations. Nothing of substance.

I decided to treat on-line dating like real life dating, and always have a glass of wine on hand.

Sometimes I would put out snacks, but the glass of wine was a non-negotiable.

One of those evening when the glass turned into glasses I realised that I was never actually going to go on a date IRL with anyone.

I had years of blogging, social forums and other inter web experiences behind me where I had managed to form high functioning relationships that were personal and familiar, but where I had never NEVER met the person on the other end of the cyber wire.

I realised I was doing the same thing here — I was chatting away to people, and there was this sense of familiarity, but jesus creepers, there was absolutely no chance I was ever going to put clean underwear on and step out and actually meet these people.

Good god no!

A few more glasses of wine later and I was feeling slightly braver and then I made a little pact with myself.

Go on 10 dates – 10 dates, that is all.

Go on 10 dates, they do not even have to be people you would consider sharing an ice cream with, but 10 people who have a pulse, possibly a penis (clearly my standards were pretty low), and you can sit across a table with them for a minimum of 60 minutes, try and aim for 120 minutes.  Just try.

Come on — I said to myself —- what do you have to lose?

Me back to myself —- well that will mean there will be some dignity being traded, and a fairly good chance I will make an a-hole of myself.

Scratch that, there is an almost certainty I will make an a-hole of myself.  Have you seen me in public or at social engagements?  Like that, but worse.

The Wine was talking now —- come on, go, it will be fun.

Me looking at the Wine knowingly —- you have often said things will be fun, and you have been wrong in the past.  Would you like to see the pictures of me doing the Gangnam Style dance, with the mickey mouse ears? That I did? No?  Exactly.

{Wine decided to start talking to me from this point on wards ….. yes, I know they have meetings for people like me}

Wine — it was fun though?

Me —- yeah, it was actually.

Wine — come on stop being a chicken, go on 10 dates.  After the 1o dates if it is all quite sucky, then you can advertise for a friends with benefits, laugh this dating thing off totally, wear your slippers all day, and just not go out ever.  Butd you will need to get cats.

Me —- why the fuck will I need to get cats?

Wine —- crazy cat lady needs cats.

Me —– I have a cat.  Crazy cat lady actually indicates a level of insanity and only requires the ownership of one cat.

Wine — yes, but Kennith has listed the cat as an asset on the spreadsheet.  If he gets awarded the cat in the divorce negotiations, then well you are all crazy lady with fuck all cat.

Me — wine, I must tell you, you are starting to make an alarmingly convincing argument at this stage of the evening.

Wine — yes, funny that.

Me —- okay, Wine, let’s get our shit sorted, who am I going to ask out on a date?

Wine — can I suggest a little walk by the fridge for a fill up before you step out off this rather uncertain little ledge.

Me — fuck Wine there you go again, with all the good ideas.

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Just in case there are parts that do not make sense …… granted even with this, much of the above still does not make sense, but let’s blame it on wine.

IRL = In real life

Cyber wire = The magic thread that connects us all to the inter web

Inter web = Internet, but the term is ridiculous enough to make me smile each time I see it.

Wine =Chenin Blanc

Glass = Large fish bowl

 

I found this bottle of booze in your room …

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I don’t believe in beating my children ….

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Friends with benefits …. and friends with wisdom …..

 

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{The blogger topic for day 10: is The best advice I ever received/ heard …. I may well be behind a day or so….}

Throughout this year I have been blessed to know that I have friends who stand by me.

Offer me support, allow me to sleep on their couch, and who keep me focused on the things that are good, and ways to keep me happy.  Sometimes they just supply good wine, and a ear to listen, and that is often enough to make everything all better.

Divorce, no matter how well it is managed, is still a pretty kak process to go through.

No matter how much the two of you try to appear adult, and to deal with each other in a respectful manner, you can’t help feeling that your life is in a state of free fall.  You are trying to desperately grab onto tufts of grass as you slide down the slipper cliff face into who knows what.

I have tried my utmost to be upbeat, and brave and not lose my sense of humour.  I tell everyone I am fine, and I seem to be coping.  Some days I am a bit side swiped and I struggle to get my head around where things have brought me, and I am petrified of what the future offers.

I do try my utmost not to wallow in my pity, shame, sadness and embarrassment.  I am embarrassed that I could not make this relationship work.  That I failed, and that my failure is so public.

I know in time I will have a different outlook.   I do feel a fair degree of shame, embarrassment and a sense of failure that I could not make this relationship work, and retain Kennith as my partner.

He divorced me, this was not a mutual decision, so I have been divorced from.  I know it is just semantics, but it does not soften the fact that I was rejected.  I was left.

Possibly for something better, possibly for nothing, possibly for the possibility of something better.  Or what ever else.

It still hurts.   It goes right to the core of my psyche, that I am not good enough.

Back to my good friends — I have had friends who have remained in my corner, who have let me vent, who have offered me their couches to sleep on, and who have sent me messages of support, given me hugs, and just been there for me.

No judgement.  Allowing me to speak, offering guidance and support and not insisting I take their advise.

The one piece of advise I think of on a regular basis  was given to me by Karen and it rings true for most things:  “If everyone could put their shit in a brown paper bag, and throw it up in the air, everyone would rather catch their own shit, than have to catch someone else’s.”

I am ad-libbing there, but the gist is that your shit is your shit.

It is easier than having to deal with anyone else’s shit.  And when you really sit down with someone you realise that they have far more in quantity and in complicated-shit than you could ever imagine.  So rather hold onto your shit bag, and keep it as your own — everyone else’s shit is going to smell worse, and probably make you gag.

That piece of advise, or that sentiment has sat with me for some time.

I often want to pull on a hessian bag and push charcoal through my hair and weep at the state of my life, but I think of the bags of shit and I am thankful that my shit is actually not that bad in comparison to others.

In no way am I minimizing my pain, or my experience, but I am owning my shit.  At least my shit is familiar.

 

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I am also a fan of the old adage: “don’t shit where you eat!!”  Wise words those.

 

 

 

 

 

They should put prizes in tampon boxes ……

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They really should ……

The one about Jim … and how Jim rhymes with rim, and what the fuck ….

I did start this process and made it clear that I was totally shocking at following anything of this nature.

But, I am back and this is the topic for day 9: Pinings.

I knew what it meant, but it made sense to google the meaning just so that I wasn’t missing something.

v. pinedpin·ingpines

v.intr.

1. To feel a lingering, often nostalgic desire.
2. To wither or waste away from longing or grief: pined away and died.
v.tr. Archaic

To grieve or mourn for.

n.Archaic

Intense longing or grief.

I have pined for many things in my life.  In most cases I am one of those people who get sad, but eventually pull my pants up, wipe the Marie biscuit crumbs off my front, and just get on with it.

 

I wanted to remain in the moment, not over think the subject matter, and write about the first thing that popped in to my head.

 

I gave it some thought about things that I have pined for, and my brain kept running back to an ex-boyfriend of over 20+ years ago.

 

Let’s call him Jim.  That isn’t his name, but uses far less characters than his real name, so works really well when you are trying to type up a quick post.

 

Jim entered my life at a time when I was not sure who I was, where I was going, and what I needed to get there.  I was 18 or 19 years old, and had avoided relationships to a large part up to that point.

 

I felt an overriding urge to “protect” myself, and I tended to appear aloof and rather stand off’ish to most people.

 

He totally blew me away, and I was absolutely smitten.

 

My mother, bless her, saw Jim and knew that this was not a good idea, and she tried every tactic to ensure that I did not see him.

 

The only option left to me, was to bunk College and then head out to see him during the day when I should have been at class.  I had a strict curfew and pretty much after 17h00 my every move was monitored.  Granted it was not the only option, but I was 18, cripes what did I know about creative problem solving.  And knock on consequences.

 

My mom had never ground me, not once in my life.  I was a model student, I was the most responsible for the three children, I was pretty much Mary-Ellen of the fucking Waltons.

 

 

My mom took one look at Jim, and thought “yep that is not a good idea” and proceeded to ground me.

 

I carried on seeing Jim, and in the euphoria of young (and somewhat stupid) love was that I could not see what was right in front of me.  I thought the sun rose and set on either sides of his shoulders – I did not stop to think about myself, and that I was in way over my head, emotionally.

 

I thought on weekends he could turn water into wine, and maybe separate the Red Sea if he was in the area.

 

The term “idolized” does not even hint at the extent of it.

 

The short story is that one day he was there — then one day he never arrived when he said he would.

 

He just disappeared. “Poof” gone.  Never to be heard from again.

 

This was before cell phones, google and google maps – so when someone dropped off the radar, you were pretty much stuck with TELKOM, and two numbers.

 

Jim exited the scene.  With no reason.  No excuse, and not so much as a “hey, I am off to serve in the Foreign Legion” or what ever vaguely creative story he could have come up with.

 

If you have ever been a teen-age girl, you will know how fragile their psyches are and how thin the layer is that protects their self esteem.  Paper thin.

 

I was absolutely infallibly in love with this idiot on a very intense level – who did not even look over his shoulder as he disappeared out of my life.

 

I spent months, months questioning every action, every thing I had ever said, because I felt it was me. I had been the cause.  It was my fault.  I had done something wrong.

 

It affected me on a profound level.  It still does, strangely enough.  The fact that someone was “so into me” and then just disappeared, left me with questions about myself.  I beat myself up about it for years, and what is funny is I never thought of him as the shit he was.

 

To add insult to injury — I stumbled across the same person again earlier this year.  Being me, still stupid it would seem, I was totally taken by him.  The warning bells rang, but I put them on snooze and carried on without a care in the world.

 

Then he “broke” up with me via SMS.  NO really.  No!  Fucking really.

 

I spent a few weeks going over the “how” “what” and “what the fucks” — again ——I reverted to the same strategy that had not worked for me before, and again I looked at myself and what I had done wrong.

 

Eventually I realised that actually it was not me. It was totally him.  He was an arse then, he is an arse now.

 

I don’t wish him dead, I wish him well.

 

The one good thing, is that the “stuff” I had dragged around with me from when I was 18 or 19, disappeared, because I realised I had been pining for something that was in my imagination.  The reality was that I should be thankful he did a runner, then and now.

 

It was painful, like pulling a plaster off a sore. But once it is off, you have a slight burning sensation and then hey-presto, that shit is almost all forgotten.

 

I should fall on the floor and give an “amen” because I dodged a bullet …. twice.

 

Fuck pining!!  Fuck it totally.

 

Life is too damn short, and really I do not have the energy.

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And this is the exact reason why I’m not a Christian …. or at least one of them.

The folks over at Writers Bootcampza had a challenge today and it was - Topic for day 3 : One of my greatest fears

I really want to tell you that this is some stupid hoax — I really do, but it would seem not.

I have several fears, many of them irrational, many of them keep me awake at night.

Finding this sort of stuff makes me really afraid.

I am afraid for parents who parent using an anti-masturbation cross, I am afraid for children who grow up in these homes.  Their sense of self must be so corrupted.  They must feel they are dirty and evil and bad.  At their core.

One of my greatest fears is that as a society we fuck up our children.  You do not get a do over with kids — you fuck them up, they become fucked up adults.  Sure fucked up adults often can sort them selves iout, but it is difficult, and if you are so fucked up — well then you die fucked up, usually early, and usually in a rather dramatic manner, and possibly taking a few other people with you.

I do think parenting has come full circle. Right now as parents we have lost the plot a little bit.

We have forgotten what good parenting is.  We have forgotten the value of teaching our children morals, and that life is not always fun.  We are teaching our children that they can get prizes for anything, no matter how average they are, they will get a prize.  No matter how badly they behave they will get what they throw a tantrum about.

We are teaching our children that sex and what is natural to our bodies is bad.  Is evil.

A lot of parents I know just cannot bear to talk to their children about sex.  The simple angle is if you aren’t talking to your child about sex, then who is??

If you aren’t talking to your child – best to really hope this well meaning group is not.  To refer to masturbation as self-rape is a bit of a stretch, and really creates an impression that exploring your own body is evil and a violation.

I cannot imagine tying my 5 year old up in this contraption because I find her with her hands in her pants.  Really!!  I must punish her for exploring her own body.  So to make it clear — we put kids in velcro crosses for touching genitals? Can we also velcro cross them if they rub their ears?  I believe that feet are very sensual — should I velcro my child if she rubs her feet.

Or are we only focussed on the genital area.  Is the anus included —- or are we going off the reservation a bit there?

Who the hell comes up with this shit?

 

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Parents, have you ever imagined your child masturbating? Do you worry what they do when your back is turned? Do you fear that they will fall into the grip of Satan?

Worry no more! Introducing the Anti-Masturbation Cross®! Designed by STOP Masturbation NOW engineers, this wondrous restraining device allows you to go about your day without the nagging suspicion that your offspring are treating their bodies like some kind of perverted amusement park.

Now discounted at $199.99, this miracle of modern Christian science is available at www.stopmasturbationnow.org
One size fits all, appropriate for children ages 5-16.

Praise!

This sort of shit scares the bejesus out of me.

What sort of message is your child taking with them if every time they think about self exploration they can velcro’d into a cross??

Spiders scare me.   Stupid people who breed scare me.  But this, this stuff scares me on a very elementary level.

 

http://www.stopmasturbationnow.org/self-rape-prevention/introducing-the-anti-masturbation-cross-safely-train-your-children-to-keep-their-hands-off-their-dangerous-sin-zones/

 

This is just too easy —- and I might have missed the point slightly

Topic for day 2 : My 5 favourite words in English (or any language)

This was so easy, I did not even need to 60 minutes I could/should have used to draft this one.

 

“Would you like more wine?”

Favourite 5 words.  Ever. For me.

 

Happy Wine Wednesday everyone.

 

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Thumb sucking, being scared of the dark and speaking in an Afrikaans accent ….

I am not really a “get into a group person and do things in a group.”

I am one of those people who knows what I need or want to do, and in most cases I do what I need to do, without being told when, what and how to do it.

I get resistant if I am being dictated to.

With that in mind I tend to avoid the blog challenges that do the rounds.  Partly because I write when I write, what I want to write about and if I don’t have something to say then I don’t.

Blog Challenges require you to be mindful that you are being given a guideline/suggestion/instruction and you must “play along” …. I saw this one floating around today, and I am going to attempt to try my hand at it.

I can’t promise I will do all the posts, on time, and as indicated, but it might help me to get out of my writing funk – and get things out of my head and onto this pseudo page.

Writers Bootcampza is running this challenge for July 2014.

REMEMBER THE GOAL: The goal is to help each other to develop a rhythm of writing, improve on the general quality of your writing and… just write.

Please also read the submissions of other bloggers and leave comments on the writing. Be nice.

Basic rules:

1. Use the topic as a starting point, not as a title. Your title can be anything you like.
2. It’s a blog post, not an essay or a short story. So don’t worry too much about intro, body, conclusion. Just write. You’ll find tips for writing blog posts online.
3. IMPORTANT TIP: If you think you need more time to improve it, stop. You don’t. Just “ship it.” (Thanks Seth Godin.)
4. Use whatever writing style you favour (funny, serious, emotive) or a mix of these.
5. Try to read and comment on at least one other person’s blog post every day of the challenge. Ideally, read more and comment more. That’s the whole point.
6. Set yourself a reminder each evening/morning, to check the topic posted at 6pm SA time (see @Writersbootcmp on Twitter) and book in 30-60 minutes that day to write.

Today’s prompt is :  Even if you know me well, you don’t know this.

As a child I was very nervous and often anxious and filled with a lot of fear.  I am not sure if this is just the way I was or a side effect of my parents rather precarious marriage.  My parents were probably the two people in the world who should never have got married to each other.

Both came from rather “difficult” families and had experienced little in the way of love and affection growing up.

The usual story ensues, and it was young love, or lust and then pregnancy and getting married when my mother was 17.  By 23 she had 3 children, and  a pretty poor support system in my father.  Derick was not a nice person, he was a terrible father, and I fear an almost worse husband and provider.

The short part of it was that I was a sensitive child and with all of this going on around me, I developed a few “coping” mechanisms and side effects.

1.  I sucked my thumb — way past the point where it was acceptable to suck your thumb.  I can’t recall when I stopped, but it was way into primary school.  I would come home after school, and once things were done, I would take my favourite blanket (it was a tartan blanket with tassels around the edges) and lie on the couch.  Pull the blanket up over my mouth to just under my eyes and suck my thumb, whilst I rubbed the blanket’s edge against the side of my nose.  I did eventually stop, but I am not sure how old I was.

I had forgotten that I sucked my thumb until Isabelle found her “doggie” and put her thumb in her mouth, and she does the same thing.  She takes the doggie’s ear and rubs it against the side of her nose.


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2. I developed a fairly bad stutter when I was between 5 and 7 years old.  Possibly it was set off by starting school, but I really struggled to get words out.  I saw a speech therapist for about two or three years.  Added to that I developed a “lisp” which is particularly disturbing if your first name has two “s” and “t” sounds in it. It was pretty traumatic.

3.  I went to a speech therapist and she assisted me to slow my thoughts down, and think about what I was saying before I started, and also some calming techniques.  My stutter did eventually disappear, my lisp however is still with me.

4.  The speech therapist that I was sent to was afrikaans – so she made me sound out the “r” in an afrikaans manner.  After a year I had managed to be rolling my “r’s” with the best of them.  My mother was horrified, my very English teacher nearly had a little breakdown. I was hastily assigned to another speech therapist to repair the “afrikaans” accent I had managed to acquire.

5.  I was petrified of the dark for most of my life - and still am on occasion.  It is totally irrational, and it is terrifying.  Not nervous, but silent scream deadly afraid of the dark.  I slept with the light on for many years, and only in high school started to move to the point where I could sleep in my room, in the dark with the room door closed.  I still get a bit panicky if I have to walk through the house in the dark, or venture out into the yard at night.  Hence the reason I avoid watching scary movies if I can.

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So that may or may not have been a few things that you may or may not have known about me.  Well now you do.

Sweets in retailer check-out aisles …. and other ways we are outsourcing our parenting

This morning I was listening to Cape Talk – the KIENO KAMMIES show.  One of the topics being discussed was that retailers pack impulse purchasers like sweets in the check out aisles.

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There was a fairly vigourous call-in exchange that followed.

The gist of it was that retailers are tempting our children with the sweets in the check out aisles.  We cannot control our children, or draw clear boundaries for behaviour and with this in mind we are going to start petitioning the retailers not to pack sweets in the check out aisles.

Various parents phoned in and there was quite a lot of support for the “get the sweets out of our checkout aisle” campaign.

There were discussions about obesity and bad dental hygiene, and pretty much the end of civilization as we know it.  I kept wondering, where are the parents in all of this.

The one guest explained that he had a three year old child (I may be incorrect about the age), and when he stands in the aisle to pay, his child wants a sweet, or all of the sweets.  And then proceeds to throw a tantrum.

He felt that onlookers would judge him as a bad parent.

Speaking about bad teeth yesterday, part of the reason we have bad teeth is to do with the amount of sugar we consume, because if you don’t brush regularly after eating sugary snacks, it sticks around, and may lead to tooth decay in the long run… This conversation also led us to those so-called “aisles of death” in the supermarkets where you are herded like cattle until you reach the till, and your path there is riddled with chocolates, candies and sugary drinks. It can be hell for many parents, if your children happen to be with you demanding chocolate, and it can also be hell on your waistline. It is a widely held belief that supermarkets have these aisles in order to help their bottom line, make more profits. One man who is trying to lobby supermarkets to ban the sweets queue is Phillip Brink, who is looking for more support for his Facebook campaign to end the purgatory of treat aisles many shoppers face.

I am not sure if he just gave his child a sweet, or explained to his child that “dad has already said no, and no means no” or whether he just gave up the ghost and gave Junior a whack because the situation had escalated.

I am not sure what the dad did.

I do know the dad decided that he had enough of his child misbehaving when it came to sweets.  In a retailers’ check out aisles.

And started a Facebook campaign to stop retailers filling their check out aisles with sweets and other baubles that make children lose their shit, and parents unable to control them.

Because Gd help us if we say no to our child — and our child disagrees.  I know!!!  I know!!! The scene that would cause, because I spend my days just saying yes to my children, no matter what they ask for, or for that matter how much of a scene they create.

Me – I live in fear of having to discipline or control my child.

I am a reasonable person.  Most of the time.  I will listen to most opinions and try to hear or see it from the other person’s point of view.

I have three children – all of them are alive, reasonably well adjusted with ages range from 12 – 5 years old.  I am not suggesting because I have three children that I am an expert on parenting.

I also own a car and a pool, and I know very little about either of those.  So possession does not instantly equal knowledge or skill, I do appreciate that.

I have had many trips to Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths, and many other stores where there are piles of tantalising distractions for my kids.

My kids ask for the sweets, sometimes they whine and every now and then one of them has a bit of a poes collapse.  The general shopping aisles are more of a gauntlet than the check out line.  By the time we have got to check out, I have already said NO to a variety of requests at least a dozen times.  But hey, whose counting?

I have never thought, not once, to blame the retailer for my kids behaviour, or for my kids making demands.  My son had one tantrum in Woolworths when he threw himself down on the floor – flat down – and proceeded to bang his fists and his feet as he bemoaned some injustice that had befallen him.  Granted he was about 18 months old.

Without making this a long story – the key here is he had one tantrum.  One and that is it.

My two girls have not had tantrums in stores, partly because we have passed the “he had one tantrum” story on to them.   I am hoping that by evolution and natural selection they have learnt why that is not a good route to go.  In our family.  Tantrums get your nothing, but time out, TV privileges begin revokes, and possibly only bread and water for dinner.

I say no – then I remind that I have said no and if they ask again, then there will be consequences.  And I follow through on the consequences, else they know that next time they can just keep pushing me, and nothing will ever happen.

What a concept!!  I did not realise we could out source parenting responsibilities to retailers.

Now that I do, it sure does open an entire avenue of responsibility I can park at other people’s doors.

I plan to start a campaign aimed at the radio stations to stop playing any songs that indicate that my girl child might be wear boots with fur and getting low, low, low ….

Shawty had them apple bottom jeans (jeans)
Boots with the fur (with the fur)
The whole club was looking at her
She hit the floor (she hit the floor)
Next thing you know
Shawty got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low

Because clearly I am unable to control, teach or enlighten my girl child not to get low, low, low and then more low, low.

Definitely starting that campaign pronto.

When I have a few more moments I am also going to petition all the clothing stores not to stock any shorts that I would deem as shorty shorts.  Why?

Well I find them offensive for children.  I am unable to decide, enforce my decision, and not buy my girl child a pair of them when they ask for them  If my girl child throws a tantrum or ask more than three times, I just buy her one in each colour.

Because that solves the problem.

Listen, I could do all of that.  I could if I was daft and deranged and out of touch with reality.

Last time I checked I am a parent.

Last time I checked I am a parent who creates boundaries, parameters, rules and assists my child to learn to know what is appropriate, what is not not.  What they are allowed, what they aren’t and when all of that doesn’t work then to hear me say: “NO, because I said SO!”

Are we seriously becoming those people who cannot control our children?

Possibly because we have been so damn bad at instilling discipline, respect and our children have become our little princes and princesses who we can deny nothing.  Possibly.

As parents are we choosing to blame the environment or someone else, for our children’s behaviour?  Because if we are.  if we are, is this not a dangerous lesson in itself to teach our children.

We are telling our children that nothing is their responsibility – impulse control, being able to accept that you cannot have everything you want and learning that there are limits to everything.

By making a stand against retailers and asking them to put their sweets in another location, so that we as parents do not have to say no to our children, sort of sounds a lot, to me at any rate, that we are deciding that this parenting malarkey is just too damn difficult, and saying no to our Princes and Princesses is not something we wish to do.

Is that really where we are going as a society of responsible parenting?

Because if we are — then I suggest now, that we start to prepare ourselves for the next level which is an inability to teach, mould and guide our children through their lives.

If you cannot as a parent tell your children that they cannot have a sweet – and they accept that, then jeez louise we are in dire shit.

 

 

If you however disagree with my outlook – and feel comfortable handing over the responsibility of your child and what happens in stores, then pop along to Phillip Brink’s Facebook page.

To internet date or to just avoid social suicide ….. that is the question

 

This question raises several other questions, the first being “when is it okay to start dating?”

The logical answer is “any time you are not married or in a relationship with someone else.”

Seems reasonable, can’t argue with that.  But maybe I can.  A little.

I am technically “not” divorced.  I am still married — according to the Government of South Africa.  I realise I am probably opting to step out into the “social” waters too early when in fact I am not quite ready yet.

There was that line from 28 Days, where they are told that they have to nurture a plant for a year, and only if the plant thrives and lives for a year, are they ready to start dating.   Great plan.  But I kill any plant that I have to have contact with.  I can buy the plant, someone else can plant it and tend it and it will grow like a dream.

To involve me at any stage in the plant’s life is the shortest way to the compost heap for the said plant.

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I gave this “time” thing a great deal of thought.

Is two weeks the right number?  Is two months better?  Is two years?  Should I work on a time line that is acceptable to me, or should I consider public opinion, and amend my time line to suit people who will look at me and make a judgement?

Tricky, tricky stuff this.

Anyone who knows me knows how stressed I get in social situations.  I would far rather hide on my couch, curled around a large bottle of Viognier and as much DSTV as I can ingest in one sitting, than put myself into any “strange” or “new” situation.

Meeting new people is about as uncomfortable for me as having a full body wax.

To add to my reluctance to consider dating nor or ever was that I feel that I am undate-able — like there is something fundamentally wrong with me.

I do not have a little black book full of names of previous partners to joyfully dig up and start drunk dialling.

If I had a little black book, I would fill in exactly three lines on the first page, and that would be it.  Besides having no idea how dating works NOW, to be honest I did not have at terribly good knowledge back THEN either.

Daunting does not even hint at it sufficiently.

Add to that that being “divorced from” – which tends to knock your self esteem for a total ball.

What ever low self esteem I had before, was well and truly pushed to an entirely new level of low when I realised I was the one being divorced from.  Lower than snake shit, I like to say.

I am sure who is divorcing from and who does the divorcing is just an issue around semantics.  For me it felt like a key point.  Probably because I was the one being left.

I gave some thought to the thought of me maybe dating again at some point in the far future  — then started to feel violently ill, so I just had another glass of wine and flicked to the Comedy Channel.

I thought of my by-line  “42 year old woman, with three children — and divorced.”  Yep, that blurb is not looking so very alluring right now is it? The only way it could be worse would be  “42 year old woman, with three children from three different fathers — and divorced.”

Really only moderately worse.

With all of this going on.  In my head.  I really really could not see me going on a date with anyone.  Ever.

I started to think that I might be better suited to being crazy cat lady … but that would require the acquisition of more cats.  And that I was even less keen on.

One day I was sitting by my lonesome, and I remembered a friend telling me about a dating site she had been on.

I uh’mmed and ah’ed, and just sat there staring at the screen.  I tried to go and look at the site, but you can’t unless you register.

I started to get this feeling that what if I managed to register on a dating site, and went through all the things you have to go through — and then I got absolutely no response, how the hang would that sit with me?

Surely, surely Shirley that would just add substance to the little voices that keep telling me I am shite.

With a glass of wine in hand, and one already down the hatch for confidence — with no idea what I was doing, I sauntered out into internet dating land, with more courage than I was feeling.

On the other hand Darron, I must say that my years on forums, social media and blogging did assist me in finding my feet.  A little.

Sites like forums have their own culture, their own manner of operating, and everyone seems to know the rules except you. Because you have just arrived, and there is no one to guide you, so generally you go along and make a total arse of yourself, before you start to sense the “mood of the room.”

You being me in this exercise.

It took me a while to figure out how things worked, and to find my feet.

The negative was that I could not see other “female” profiles so I had nothing to base my profile on — writing a profile about yourself for internet dating land is extremely daunting.

I used up all the characters that were afforded me in each section.  Why say less when you can say more? {wink wink}

Then with one final push of  the enter key, I was officially there in internet dating land.

The place that had filled me with dread and fear and anxiety.

It appears dating sites do not do anything for free.  You can put your profile up for free.  But.  And here is the part where they have you by the short and curlies.  To be able to see any responses to your profile you need to “sign up” and some money needs to change hands.

I will confess it is not enough to make you rethink the idea — and at the same time it is just enough to make you think, well shit balls I need to get my monies worth here.

You sit and stare at your profile and wait for someone to toddle past and say “hi” or “wink wink” or “Great picture, you seem to be wearing a wedding ring!”

You know stuff like that.

And then you sit and wait.  For the little “pink pink” of a message in your mail box.

Longest wait ever.  Okay. Not ever.  It does feel not dissimilar from that not being picked for the softball team at school PE class experience.

The exercise was not so much about going on date, than it was about finding out whether I could.  Or whether it might be better to just shut myself up in a convent somewhere.

Going on a dating site was facing my fear of what is out there — and whether I could ever actually go “out there.”  My theory was, no matter how frightening and dreadful as it could be, it can’t be worse than I am imagining it in my head.

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