Wednesday, 30 December 2009

My personal highlights of 2009

This year seems to have flown by, so I thought it might be timely to recall some my personal highlights:
  • my weekend at a Buddhist retreat in the Lake District.  A truly fabulous experience which is now sadly a distant memory.  For a long time afterwards the effects of the time there stayed with me but I need to arrange another visit for a serenity top-up;
  • After years of nagging from the girls I relented and said they could have a pet.  After deciding on guinea pigs we went to choose them from a rescue centre, and blow me but they were so cute!  I hadn't expected to enjoy having them as much as we did, and after looking after the furry little critters for a few weeks it got me thinking about getting another pet;
  • adopting our gorgeous Tess. We got her from the Retired Greyhound Trust, a fabulous charity who work hard to rehome as many ex-racing greyhounds as possible.  Tess has brought so much fun into our lives and added a new dimension to our little family;
  • Going to our usual holiday destination of the Llyn Peninsula in Wales.  We go to the same farm cottage every year and have become friends with the other families (we all book for the same time each year) and the family who run the farm. We've stayed there for the past 5 years and the girls love it so much they insist that I rebook for the following year.  This year The Teenager cried when it was time to leave, she had enjoyed the holiday so much;
  • meeting several other bloggers at the North-West meet-up. It was great to be able to put some names to faces;
  • The Teenager-in-waiting reaching a milestone and turning into an actual Teenager, Harry Enfield stylee;
  • Tall Daughter taking on a lead role in the school Christmas play even though she is very, very shy.  I don't think I've ever been prouder than when she entered stage left and stood on her own, speaking her first few lines, at the start of the play.
So, okay, no major earthshattering events perhaps but all-in-all it's been a good year for us.  My girls are happy and healthy, things have improved for me at work, and we've managed to get through the year without anything too disastrous happening (touch wood, still 24 hours to go!).

I've really enjoyed my blogging year too, particularly getting to know some of the different people who make up the blogosphere.  Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year, I love reading your comments and visiting your blogs in return.  I hope 2010 brings us all happiness, health and lots of chocolate. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Would you let your daughter sleep at a stranger's house?

The Teenager is still in bed.  Last night she had a sleepover with two friends.  One of them, Laura, has been here several times before.  The other girl, Abi, is a 'new friend' of the Teenager. 

Now, tell me if I'm going over the top, but if the Teenager wants to go to a friends for a sleepover, I need to:  a) know who the friend is, b) know who the parents are, or at least talk to them to introduce myself and ask about the sleepover arrangements, and c) be as sure as I can be that she is going to be safe (she was once invited to a sleepover where there would be several teenage boys.....that'll be a no then). 

Yesterday, when Abi turned up at our house for the sleepover it was the first time I'd met her.  Her Mum dropped her off at the end of the drive and drove away.  I have no emergency phone number for her, and neither of her parents have spoken to me or asked me what the sleepover arrangements were.  Is it just me, or is this a bit odd?

Is it normal to send your 13 year old daughter to sleep at a stranger's house without even the most basic checks?  Answers on a postcard please to Paranoid Single Mum.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Blu-ray Film Reviews: G Force, Santa Buddies, Snow White, Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure

We have a bit of a blu-ray backlog, so instead of the usual one or two we have four film reviews for your delectation. Thanks to Katie at Thinkparents for sending them to us.  Here goes:

The Teenager: It was really, really good.  I thought it would be babyish but it was very funny, and the fur on the guinea pigs was amazing because it looked so real.  There were some funny bits in the pet-shop, and the chubby guinea pig called Hurley was fun.  I liked the Black Eyed Peas soundtrack too. Points: 5 out of 5

Tall Daughter:  The picture quality was really good because everything was so clear.  I like the film it was really good, and the guinea pigs were cute.  The mice and the ferret were cute too.  It was a fun film and I give it 4 out of 5.

Santa Buddies
I watched this with Tall Daughter, but I was ready to turn it off after 15 minutes when I'd had enough of the creepy cute talking dogs.  So, I'll pass this one over to TD.
TD:  It was sooooo cute! I liked it because I love dogs, and they were cute.  I'm going to watch it again with my friends.  It's a nice film for smaller children too. 5 out of 5.  (Did she mention that the dogs were cute?)

Snow White: Diamond Edition
This blu-ray arrived in a package together with a big bag of sweets, popcorn, and assorted party goodies (thanks Katie!).  TD and I watched it together and I was pleasantly surprised by how much we both enjoyed it.  Even though we've seen it before in its DVD format (and infact this was the first film I ever went to see at the cinema in the 60s) the blu-ray version really brought this classic film to life.  This was the original Disney animated film and it has been digitally remastered to great effect. The colours were vibrant and the sound much improved.  I'd forgotten what a charming, innocent film this is to watch.  Highly recommended.

Tinkerbell and The Lost Treasure
TD:  It was really, really good. I liked Blaze the little bug, he was cute. The characters were good, I liked Terry who is Tinkerbell's friend and I like all of the girl fairies' powers. The colours of the fairies and the sparkly treasure looked really lovely too.  5 out of 5.

So there you have it:  a classic Disney film, some hideous singing dogs, a beautiful fairy and some guinea pigs. What more could you possibly need?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a peaceful and happy 2010.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Enough Snow Already!

We've escaped the worst of the snow in the North-west according to the weather forecasts. Only the other day I was reflecting on how the first fall of snow had made everything look so Christmassy, yet it was still easy to get around.


What's actually been happening is a light layer of snow has fallen each day since Friday and during the sub-zero temperatures overnight that innocent little layer has frozen.  Then covered by another layer of snow, and so on.  The end result is several layers of ice and snow.  Treacherous.

Yesterday I decided to brave the roads and go to the bank.  The sky was blue, the snow and ice appeared to be over the worst of it and people were going about their day without major problems.  Whilst I was at the bank, inside a shopping centre, I took a look around a couple of shops and was in there for 30 minutes tops.  When I drove out of the underground carpark I was shocked to find myself driving through heavy snow, with cars sliding on the roads ahead of me.

Fortunately, I got back safely and parked my car on the - sloping - driveway as usual, although it felt quite slippy as I drove up.

Last night, just after I'd changed into my pyjamas (pink polka-dot brushed cotton if you must know, very glam) my neighbour knocked on the door to tell me my car had slid down the driveway and into the road.   What!???

Cue my neighbour and me (still in my pjs) trying to break up the layers of impacted ice with spades, with only limited success.  After driving the car back up we had to put blocks under the wheels to prevent more slippage. 

Last night I hardly slept. I kept jumping out of bed and running to the window to check the car was still on the drive.  It's still there.

Today's planned activities might have to wait until I'm sure I can drive safely.  Just hope we've got enough food in the freezer to keep us going 'cause the cupboards are looking decidedly bare.  Please send food parcels!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My Favourite Christmas Song: O Holy Night

I've just read a post by the lovely Linda over on You've Got Your Hands Full about her favourite Christmas song which is The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forget sung by Nat King Cole.  I also love that song, and one of my favourite Christmas CDs ever is his Merry Christmas CD.  It's a great selection of songs by a fantastic singer and during the Christmas holiday it gets played constantly in our house.  It's particularly popular with The Teenager funnily enough, although I prefer James Taylor's Christmas album.

But this is probably my favourite Christmas song and, as sung by the honey voiced Cole, it 's got to be the best version I've ever heard.  Enjoy.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Merry Christmas from the Festive Greyhound (and me)

This is Tess with her winter coat on, which looks quite festive.

This is one of two local fenced areas where I can let her off the lead.  This one is only 15 minutes walk from home so it's perfect for us.  Greyhounds need training to come back to you, because of their chasing instinct (and she is an ex-racer) if they see a squirrel or a rabbit they give chase without a thought for you. This is where I am attempting to train her - with varying degrees of success. This is the only photo I took of Tess running where she is actually in shot!

...but she steadfastly refused to wear the Santa hat.  Spoilsport!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Single Life: The Long and The Short of It

I've recently started noticing an unusual trend.  I'm seeing more and more tall women out and about with shorter men.  Not necessarily short men you understand, but men who are shorter than the women.  I don't know if I've noticed it more because I'm a tall woman myself - 5' 9" in my stockinged feet - or because it's just, well, unusual. 

Of course we're more used to seeing famous couples where the man is extremely rich shorter than the woman,  and perhaps the idea is now filtering down to the rest of us.   But is it becoming less of issue because of couples such as President Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni, or the newly engaged Jamie Cullum and the statuesque Sophie Dahl?  I don't know, but recently I've seen several couples walking hand in hand, or linking arms, and looking very much like a couple where the woman has been significantly taller than the man. 

I'm not sure if I'm just a little bit jealous of these couples because it's something I've struggled with in the past.  All of my former boyfriends, including my ex-husband,  have been taller than me except for one who was - if I wore flats and didn't stand too straight - just slightly shorter than me. But he was also a charming and funny Irishman who dismissed our height disparity with the words "Ah, sure, we're all the same height lying down..." 

Aside from him I've shied away from shorter men yet I'm still not sure of the root of the problem.  My problem. Social conditioning that says the men should be taller than the woman?  Undoubtedly.  My insecurities about being so tall?  Definitely.  Fear of being ridiculed?  Possibly.  The fact that shorter men (along with the tall ones) show absolutely no interest in me?  Ah, yes....

If the situation presented itself would I consider having a relationship with an older man?  Yes.  A younger man?  Yes.  A man from a different background or culture?  Yes, although it would probably depend on the differences between us. A shorter man?  Hmmm......not sure.  No, I am sure - I'd prefer not to.  So what does that tell you about me?  On second thoughts, don't tell me...

I have to also say that my pet peeve is seeing very petite women with extremely tall men - for god's sake, leave them for the tall girls!!  Where's your sense of sisterhood? 

I'll leave you in the very talented hands of Randy Newman who has a more controversial view than me, but all the same I think I should write a disclaimer here - I love short people.  Some of my best friends are short.  I just don't want any short men in my bed.  (Although the phrase 'beggars can't be choosers' springs to mind here.)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Possibly the cutest thing you'll see today: A Husky Dog Saying I Love Youuuuuuuuuuuuu

This is our current obsession in the notSupermum household - possibly the cutest thing we've seen on Youtube and the subject of our next dog training efforts:

Right, where's Tess....