Friday, 23 April 2010

At the edge of the cliff

So, today, after a long and valiant struggle with cancer my Dad finally passed away.

God knows how he managed to live for so long when he had been seriously ill for such a long time, but I like to think it was his sheer bloodymindedness that kept him going for so long. 

But it was at the beginning of this year that we noticed a major change in his health, and after that he became increasingly frail.  Three weeks ago the ward sister at the hospital, where he spent the last few weeks of his life, told us that he was unlikely to live for very much longer and we should prepare ourselves.

Over the next three weeks we saw Dad struggle to stay alive.  He was a fighter, and he wasn't going to go until he was ready and it occurred to me that it was like watching someone hanging off the edge of a cliff.  We knew that inevitably he would lose his grip on the edge and fall to his death, but somehow he found enough strength to hang on for longer than anyone could possibly expect.   Well today, Dad's his fingers finally slipped and he was gone.

I'd like to think that he's finally reunited with Mum, the love of his life.  Rest in peace Dad.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

When are children old enough to be left home alone?

My daughters are growing up, I can no longer deny it.  Tall Daughter is 10½ and The Teenager is 13½ - the half is very important! They're now at an age where they are gaining their independence and enjoying some of the responsibilities that come with it.  They can do a lot of things on their own now, and actually prefer to do some things without me, their interfering mum.  And then there are the things that I wish they'd do on their own. Oh, y'know, pick their wet towels up off the floor; tidy their bedrooms, blah blah blah.

Just recently we've had a couple of occasions when I've had to go out at short notice  and it's been difficult to find someone to look after them.  I don't have a list of willing babysitters, which I'm sure is a problem for most single parents, and I hate asking people to do favours for me but recently even then I've struggled to find people to help out.

On other occasions, it's simply been that the girls haven't wanted to come with me when I take Tessie out for a walk.  So what are you supposed to do in this situations? Do I drag two reluctant girls out with me to walk the dog, or should I leave them at home? 

I'm happy enough to leave The Teenager on her own at home, given that she makes her own way to and from school most days, travels on public transport on her own, and is a sensible and mature girl I think she's old enough to be left home alone for an hour or so.  Now that I've written that I feel a bit nervous in case you're sitting there, tut tutting at the screen, thinking I'm being an irresponsible mother.  Or to be precise, an irresponsible, feckless single mother.  Because as you know single mothers are the root of all evil.

Tall Daughter is another story of course.  She's younger, and I don't feel she's ready to be home alone - nor does she want to be either.  But is she old enough to be left in the care of her older sister?  I don't know, but I err on the side of caution and don't generally do it.  I say generally, because - here goes - I usually leave them home together in the mornings when I take Tessie for her first walk of the day which takes no longer than 10-15 minutes.

When I've looked for guidance on this it seems to be a bit vague.  The Directgov wesbite offers this advice:

The most important factor to consider is how mature the child is. For example, it may be okay to leave a mature 12 year old alone, but not a 13 year old who is not mature. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) advises that:
  • children under the age of about 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time
  • children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight
  • babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone
The Children's Legal Centre has a leaflet (available to download) about the subject, which trys to clarify some of the vagueness surrounding the law on this. They say:

"The law does not specify an age when a child can be left at home alone. However, parents commit an offence if leaving the child at home alone puts him or her at risk."

It continues:

"...most children under the age of 13 should not be left at home alone. Even a short period of time on their own can be distressing and lonely for a child, most children under 13 years of age would not be able to cope with an emergency."  

They go on to include a list of things to consider before leaving your child/ren home alone.  All useful stuff, I'm sure you'll agree, but I'm still left with a feeling that while some people might disapprove of my decision to leave my two sensible girls at home for short periods of time, many more will be doing exactly the same thing but keeping quiet about it.

It's a thorny issue, and I'd love to know your views. So, what do you do?  Or, if your children are still too young to even consider it, how old do you think is old enough?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Alvin & The Chipmunks Giveway ~ winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for a copy of Alvin & The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel .  We chose the winner using our very high tech method.  Tall Daughter did the honours. 

And the winner of the DVD/Blu-ray combi pack is:

Well done Elaine, please email me at Notsupermum[at]hotmail[dot]com with your details, and I'll post it out to you this week.

Monday, 12 April 2010

DVD/Blu-ray giveaway ~ Alvin & The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakuel

I have managed to scrounge obtain a copy of Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.  The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray from today, 12th April 2010, and I have been sent a fantastic DVD/Blu-ray combi pack to offer to one lucky reader. 

The live-action/CGI box-office sensation offers more music, mayhem and fun as Alvin, Simon and Theodore meet their match in the newly arrived female trio, the cute but super cool Chipettes – Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor. Jason Lee (Dave Seville) is back to share the screen with the Chipmunks and is also joined by Zachary Levi (Toby).

Tall Daughter loves this film, and went to see it on the cinema three times in one week.  Yes,  you read that correctly, three times. She is not impressed that I'm giving this away as a prize, so best get your name in quick before she manages to hide it!

If you'd like a chance of winning this film, please leave a comment and I'll pick a name at random at the end of the week.  Thanks, and good luck!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Do You Believe in Fairies?

Tall Daughter is ten.  Well, ten-and-a-half to be more precise. She's a very sweet girl with a lovely innocent quality about her and I cherish that innocence because I know it won't last for too much longer. 

She still believes in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy, even in the face of teasing from some of her classmates.  She occasionally still likes to play with dolls and today we even went to ToysRUs to buy a new one for her collection. She's a firm believer in fairies and has several books on the subject, some with instructions on how and where to find them.  We've been known to take one of the books with us and head off to the local woodland to look for clues, and even though we haven't found any fairies yet she's not downhearted because she knows that they're very hard to find.

That old cliche about children growing up too fast is, sadly, very true.  It's hardly a blink of the eye since she was born, and now she's on the verge of adolescence. And even though it has been mentioned to me recently that TD will 'find out the truth' soon, and perhaps I should tell her I don't see why I should.  She'll discover things out for herself in her own sweet time, and in the meantime I'm hanging onto her innocence for as long as possible. 

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Plastic Joy Award

I've been tagged by Very Bored in Catalunya and Cherished by Me for the Plastic Joy Award, which requires me to list the 5 fictional characters that I would 'do'.  Well, it's taken me a while to finalise my list because even though I've been single since Jesus was a lad I do still have standards y'know. And by the way, which strange person actually took a photo of two fornicating dolls?  Go on, own up if it was you.

Mr Big
Sexy and rich.  'Nuff said.

Gene Hunt from Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes
He's a man's man, but there is something very sexy about him. 

Homer Simpson
What's not to love about a man who spends most of his time in his vest and loves his wife? 

As played by Viggo Mortensen, he was the only thing that made Lord of the Rings film watchable for me.  Sex on a stick.

Don Pedro from Much Ado About Nothing
As played by Denzel Washington. In leather trousers.  On horseback.  Phwooaaarrr!

I'm passing this meme onto all of the wonderful 111 followers of this blog!  Please let me know if you do it!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Winner of Deluxe Pamper Day competition

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition to win the deluxe pampering day, sponsored by Kia Motors UK.

There were 29 entries altogether - and amazingly enough all had the correct answer to this question:  How many European car manufacturers offer a 7 year warranty?
Of course the answer was just one - Kia Motors. 
I kept a list of the entries as they were emailed to me in sequential order and then numbered each one. 
And the winner is number 20, Nova Gowers
Congratulations to you Nova.  Please email me with your full details in order for the prize voucher to be sent to you. 
A special thanks also to Claire from Being A Mummy for helping me to load the random number image onto this post!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Some things just need celebrating

First of all I'd like to acknowledge the genius that is Heather from Notes From Lapland.  She started the Secret Post Club a couple of months ago, where bloggers are allocated a blogger to send a gift to.  Or as Heather says, a bloggy gift swap.  So simple, but such a brilliant idea.  This was the first month I participated, and I had a lot of fun choosing appropriate items to send to my designated blogger.  I, in turn, received a gift from Very Bored In Catalunya who had chosen local items to send to me, and very touchingly had also made a washbag for my new bathroom.  How fab is that? Just look at the goodies she sent to me: 

there's a packet of Spanish drinking chocolate, the washbag, a gorgeous little olive dish which miraculously arrived in one piece, and a box containing three sachets of authentic paella seasoning.  I've only ever tried to cook paella once before but will be giving it another go with one of these little babies.  Thank you so much, Very Bored, you're an absolute star.

I've just received my blogger's name for April, and armed with her likes and dislikes I'm already planning what to put in her secret package. 

There's been a lot of excitement - and what seems like equal amounts of debate - about the newly launched MAD Awards. These Mummy and Daddy blogging awards have ten different categories of award, each with a prize for the winner.  I know some bloggers have been concerned about the competitive side of awards, and are not sure whether they're a good or a bad thing, and I can understand that point of view. I've even had some doubts myself, but I'd like to think that in this case, particularly as the MADs was launched by some very established bloggers, it will be a celebration of blogging rather than a competition.

I've already made my nominations, and I wish everyone the very best of luck!