Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Fun with boxes

E is dosed with the cold today, she watched tv for a while but then wanted to play. Great entertainment!

This blog was originally called Messy Mammy's - looking at the room around her, you can probably see why! But I'm currently reading Raising Freethinkers by Dale McGowan et al and playing with a snuffly two year old, so why would I want to waste time tidying? 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Explanations

So today is St Patrick's Day here in Ireland.

I told E that that's what today is called, and that's why I stuck a green t-shirt on her, and how we might go watch the parade later if the weather clears up a bit.

She asked, "Who's Patrick?"

So I told her that Patrick was a miserable old grumble-head who didn't like anything the way it was and went around complaining and trying to tell people what to do all the time.

She grinned.

Duty for the day as an atheist parent: done.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Privilege. Mine.

One of the most fascinating, and resonating things I learned about during the course of gaining my Sociology degree, was about the concept of privilege.

Privilege is (dictionary definition):
A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to one person or group of people.

 When applied to structures in society, it means that some groups are given advantages on the basis of various arbitrary (i.e. unrelated to merit) conditions. The most common types of privilege that are discussed are white privilege and male privilege. But privilege exists in many different forms. And one of the key things about privilege is that people who have it fail to see what unearned advantages they have in society, believing that they have gotten where they are purely by hard work. The barriers to others are invisible, and the victims are blamed instead of the structures being challenged.

I will rant and rave and complain and moan about privilege from time to time, but I think that it's important that I recognise the ways in which I am privileged, as well as the ways in which I am disadvantaged.

I do not see these things as inherently good. When I say that I am privileged to be white, I don't mean that I think it is better to be white than to be black (or any other colour or ethnicity). Far from it - I am a passionate believer in equality. All that I am saying is that I realise that being white gives me certain advantages, since the society I live in is racist in various overt and covert ways.

I am privileged because I am white. My skin colour doesn't automatically make people think I am a thief when I walk into a shop, an illegal immigrant when I sit on a bus, a prostitute when I get into a car (all things I have heard of happening anecdotally). I can open a newspaper or a magazine and be confident that I will see people of my ethnicity depicted in positive as well as negative ways. These are just a few of the ways in which being white gives me a position of privilege in modern Irish society. I am also privileged not to be a Traveller, in which case I would be thought of as stupid and dirty and a drain on society.

I am privileged because I am straight. If I fall in love I can marry the person I love, as it would be (and in fact was) a heterosexual marriage: I can celebrate my love for a partner without being called dirty or sinful or disgusting or a multitude of worse words. I can walk down the street holding hands with or kissing a partner without it making me fearful for my safety. I can turn on the television or read a book and see people in relationships like mine depicted as normal. I don't get regularly confronted with polls on other people's opinions, who are completely unaffected by my decisions and life choices, as to whether I should have equal rights.

I am privileged because I am cisgendered. The way I feel about my body is depicted in society and media as the norm. I don't have to go seeking obscure blogs and websites in order to find others who feel the way I do about the body I was born with. I don't have to deal with people telling me I am a freak or a weirdo, or telling me how I should feel about my body and what I should or should not be allowed to do with it. I don't have the very essence of who I am criticised or lampooned on a regular basis.

I am privileged because I am able-bodied. I can enter shops without a second thought, I can watch a film without having any difficulty, I don't have people look down on me and think I am in some way less than human or less than them because my body or brain is different.

I am privileged because I live in a country that has a safety net. I am not currently working, I have a 2 year old and a baby on the way and the maintenance my ex gives me isn't enough to cover basic living expenses - nowhere near in fact. However, I get an allowance from the state which does cover those basic expenses like food, heat and clothing. If I manage my money well, I may even be able to put some aside from time to time. I did so in the past and this meant that when I had to suddenly and abruptly leave my husband, I was able to do so. I could pay a deposit to rent a new house within days of leaving.

Following on from the previous point, I am privileged to live in a country that allows me as a woman certain rights, such as holding a separate bank account from that of my husband - it allowed me to squirrel some money away, though I didn't expect to need to use it to leave him I was very, very glad to have it when that was the way things turned.I am privileged to live in a Western World country, where finding a new place to live even for a woman in desperate circumstances is as simple as loading a smartphone app and making a few phone calls. Where I am not, as a newly single mother, looked upon with suspicion and revulsion (in general).

I am privileged to live in a country that has freedom of speech. I can complain about the ways in which privilege affects me negatively (oh, and I will!) without fear of being locked up. I am free to own a computer and access the internet and use it to seek and share information. I am privileged to be able and allowed to read and write; ditto for driving.

I am privileged to live in a democracy. I have the right to vote, or the right to abstain from voting. I will not be jailed or killed for going against the majority.



That's all I can think of for now! Of course there are probably other ways in which I am privileged - feel free to use the comments to share them with me if you think of any, or to talk about ways in which you too are privileged. We are all quick to see how disadvantaged we are, but it is good for each of us to check our own privileged from time to time as well, especially if we like to argue that others should do so.

Monday, 25 February 2013

A polar bear in the park...

Sunny here at the moment, we are getting out in it as much as possible and soaking up the vitamin D while we have the chance. It's cold but beautiful.

Yesterday we went to the park. The swings and slide were fun, but what Miss E really wanted to do was explore.

She wandered through bushes and clambered over branches. She told me there was a polar bear there, and a snake.

A little while later, we met some friends. I told them of E's adventures in the little forest.
"There were even polar bears there, " I grinned as my friends nodded knowingly.
"No, " E interjected. "There was only one polar bear."

If she's already so well able to correct me at just 27 months old, she's going to be a very clever and very, very argumentative teenager. Plus, if she continues as she started, she's going to win a lot of those arguments.

Oh well, it's certainly going to make for an interesting life!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Happiness?

I found it very interesting to read recently that a study by San Francisco State University has found that spending money on life experiences makes us happier than buying stuff (can't find a link to the study itself, just this report on it).

Fascinating stuff. Common sense, in some ways. I mean, in twenty years, are we going to think back on that brilliant holiday, or how awesome that TV, that was at the time top notch, was?

Sure, some stuff is great. I do love my TV shows, but I don't need a massive LED screen that takes up half my sitting room to watch them on. I love my books, but there are only a handful (ok, several armfuls) that I would genuinely feel sad if I no longer hand, and they're mostly books that have some sentimental value for me.

Holidays, dinner parties, events where we can meet new people and perhaps make new friends - they are truly special. Sights that stick with us for the rest of our lives, be they local or far across the world from home. Education, to me at least, is also a life experience worth spending money on. Learning and the pursuit of knowledge are precious to me.

I miss having a car, but it is only a small part to do with the car itself (I had a sporty Fiat Punto). Mostly, I miss that feeling of being able to get in the car and drive, to be able to go anywhere. Bear in mind that I live in Donegal, which is poorly served by public transport, so a car is more of an essential than an optional item really, though I am coping without. But ultimately the car relates to experiences. It brings me to see friends and family. It brings me to the beach, the forests, the parks. It brings my daughter on playdates and to the zoo and all the exciting places that she loves to experience. 

What makes you happy - are there material things you couldn't be without? What are your favourite experiences? If you won the lotto, what would you spend the money on that you think would make you happier, or that you would enjoy? What do you save money for?


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Untitled Poem

This isn't based on any of my personal experiences, but some thoughts that were going around in my head recently based on various news stories both in Ireland and the USA.

It's untitled, as I think it works better without a title. The whole poem speaks for itself, I hope.








She considers getting the boat,
Then decides to book a Ryanair flight instead.
It’s not the seventies anymore, after all. Not in how she can choose to travel at least.
Though perhaps, she thinks, in the fact she has to travel at all.

No need to book a bag, carry on allowance will be fine –
Sure what will she need, phone charger, a change of clothes, probably some sanitary towels.
She isn’t really sure. Maybe a book.
To distract her from thinking about it.
Because she has thought of nothing else up to now, but the decision is made.

She kisses her littlest boy goodbye, and wonders as she delivers him into her own mother’s arms,
Whether she knows the real reason for the trip to England.
Wonders whether it is shame or something else
That keeps the wall of silence standing between them.

“I should be there with you,” her husband pleads.
She shakes her head. “You can’t afford to take the time off work,” she reminds him.
Half the reason for this decision being made in the first place.
“I’ll be fine,” she reassures him, then hates him briefly for needing her to do so. Even now,
She must be the strong one. She must hold the family together.

She leaves lunches for the older kids in the fridge before she goes. Does the online check in.
Tries to write a note but can’t get the words out, can’t put lies to paper as easily as she seemed to be able to tell them.
It is hard, she thinks as she waits in the airport, clutching her bag.
It is hard, but it has to be done.

What must the neighbours think...

I have real neighbours for the first time in years. For a long time I've had a car, so I was able to live a little outside town, in a detached house. No one to complain about dogs barking, or loud music.

Now I live in a house with two flats adjoining. Real neighbours. I can hear a TV from my bathroom. I can hear conversations. Not exactly what's being said, but that people are talking to each other.

This same bathroom is the scene of occasional (ok, almost nightly) tantrums from E, the talkative and precocious two year old. Every night we have the same routine, she sits on the toilet and brushes her teeth, then I wash her face and she washes her own hands.

Then, I get a cloth and give her crotch and bum a good wipe to make sure they're clean. I reckon it's good, responsible parenting to do so.

E still mixes up personal pronouns - she says "your" for stuff to do with her, i.e. when she means "my" and when she says "my" she is actually referring to the person she's talking to.

So when she screams, "NOT YOUR BUM! ONLY YOUR CROTCH!" she actually means she only wants me to wipe around her vulva, not her anus. Think this is a throwback to times when teething caused raw skin nappy-rash.

Still, I do wonder what the neighbours think, if they can hear. I'm pretty sure social services are going to knock on my door one of these days...

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Italian inspired 2 course meal

Mmm, sorry but there are no photographs of this one as it got eaten too quickly.

For the first course (primi): Pasta with cheesy tomato and mushroom sauce.

I used pasta spirals for this. I put them on at the same time as the secundi (second course) - see below.

First, I prepared the sauce - chopped an onion and half each a yellow and green pepper and saute├ęd them while I chopped some button mushrooms. Added the mushrooms as the onion was just starting to brown and let them cook, then added one 500ml carton of tomato passata and one tin of chopped tomatoes. Then added a good shake of powdered garlic and some dried basil, brought to the boil then turned down to simmer.

Next, I put on the pasta.

For the second course (secundi): Herby chicken thighs with sweet potato wedges and basilly green beans.

I peeled and sliced the sweet potatoes into good chunky wedges, then put a little sunflower oil on them and put them in the oven with the chicken thighs, slathered in herbs, all in one tray, at about 200 degrees C.

Meanwhile I put on a pot of frozen green beans on to boil.

As that all cooked away by itself I prepared a salad to go with the pasta - a selection of leaves (mostly baby spinach and rocket), tomato, cucumber, chunks of red pepper and olives stuffed with little wedges of fresh garlic. Dressed with a splash each of Donegal rapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar.

When the beans were done I drained them and left them aside.

Next, I grated half a block of Burren gold cheese into the tomato sauce. Any cheese would do really! When the pasta was al dente, after draining and leaving it for a minute to soak up any last bit of water, I threw it in along with the sauce and grated a little more cheese into it, then served it with the salad on the side.

Yum.


After the first course, I had time to heat a drop of oil in a frying pan, season it with plenty of basil and black pepper, and quickly stir fry the green beans in it to give them a lovely flavour. When the chicken and sweet potatoes were ready I just served them with the green beans on the side. The second course isn't exactly Italian the way the first was, but it is inspired by the Italian way of having a first course with pasta (or rice) and a second course of meat and vegetables on the side without a starchy carb.

We had just enough room left afterwards for a little ice cream. So it was pretty much a perfect dinner.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Clowning around town...

This is the only hat that E would agree to wear today. At least it's a hat - I reckon it's not a bad outcome considering she got out of bed on the argumentative side this morning!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Break up songs...

My break up music is rooted in the 1990s. Probably because it was the 90s last time I actually broke up with someone...well, actually I think it was January 2000. But close enough!

Now that I finally have all my stuff out of the house, I feel like I've closed a door on things a bit and can actually start to deal with the fact that a 12.5 year relationship has ended. My marriage has fallen apart.

I'm angry, but I'm also sad. There were dreams of a future that have been torn away from me. Hopes and expectations left to languish. I have to say goodbye not just to the man I have loved for more than a third of my life, but to the person I was when I was with him. To my role as wife, as partner. To the life that I had, that we shared.

My emotions are suitably mixed around it. The anger is quite well taken care of my this Alanis Morrissette classic, about a cheating ex - though my ex didn't exactly cheat on me, the fury she feels and feeds into her music here captures a lot of what I'm feeling.






Continuing the theme of anger, here is the only non-90s song to feature in this playlist, so far - So What by Pink, about a bad breakup. She's strong and independent or at least that's what she's showing the world!




And still feeling angry, this was recommended to me by my sister who is a huge Fiona Apple fan:





And as I passed through all the anger and embraced it and rocked out to it, so it was that I came to feel sad. Really bloody sad. And for the first time I properly acknowledged that.

These were both my breakup songs in the 90s, not that I had a lot of relationships - not long term ones anyway - but they did see me through a couple of sad man-related occasions.

No Doubt - Don't Speak:


And Hello (Turn Your Radio On) by Shakespeare Sister. Don't think this is about a breakup. Actually I have no idea what it's about, but it was played on repeat for at least a day when I broke up with a boyfriend of 6 weeks back in the summer of '99, so to me it's a breakup song.


And finally, to finish - a song about looking forward. I got my hair done today, a new look for a new life! The fabulous Ella Fitzgerald's version of I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right out of my Hair. Actually, this isn't a 90s song either - it's way older, and it sure has stood the test of time!





Monday, 4 February 2013

A blog I read

I find the Meming of Life blog by Dale McGowan a great read. He's the editor and author of a number of books on atheism and secular parenting in particular. I am a big fan of the book Parenting Beyond Belief, in which various different atheist and agnostic people discuss how they addressed issues confronting secular parents.





In particular I loved how the book presents different options and opinions, sometimes conflicting ones, and assumes the readers are perfectly capable of deciding what will work best for them.














I really loved this recent post. It's an answer to a reader's question about the comfort that religion can bring, and how secular parents can replace this in their child's lives.

The answer suggested is real people, real relationships. The support networks of friends and family.

I've certainly found that, through my recent crisis. My friends and family have gotten me through it. It has been difficult, but had I been alone, it would have been impossible.



Thank you, dearest mother, sister and wider circle of support. I love you all. You are where I draw my strength and inspiration from, and I know that you are there for my daughter as well, and will be into the future. No matter what life throws at us, we will be fine, because we have you. 


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Poem - A Sense of Consequence



A Sense of Consequence


Even in a dream, I am still me. I cannot
Escape the sense of consequence that so easily eludes him.

In my dream he grabs me, tries to hold me down, sneers at me daring to tell him no.
I fight back, I shrug off the grip he has upon my wrists. I reach my phone and call the Gardai,
But they don’t come. I await sirens and saviours, but there is just him, sneering.
I reach for the nearest thing, an extension lead, and beat him to death with it.
Partly in self-defence.
Partly in fury and anger as I feel a banshee rise up inside me.

I check his neck for a pulse, and feel only my own heartbeat racing through my fingertips.
I phone the Gardai again. I tell them what has happened – what I have done.
No sense of glory, no feeling that I’ve won.
I feel sick. I am free from him, but facing another horrible fate.

As I draw toward wakening, I am sitting in the back of a Garda car, while
Massachusetts by the BeeGees plays on the radio. I am facing jail.
Facing the consequences of my actions. Even in a dream where I am strong,
I cannot escape reality. I wake up with that song swimming round in my head.


Friday, 1 February 2013

Lorna's Tree

This is the hardest thing to leave behind. The tree planted in memory of the baby I lost.
I'll drive past, in the spring, and see her flowers.

Monday, 28 January 2013

A new way to describe a cough...

I have a horrible dose at the moment. Worse than when I had swine flu. I feel like I was hit by a train, and then my body was run over by several trucks.

Also, vomiting.

And a cough.

It's a rattly, chesty cough. Today E was sitting on my lap when I had a bit of a coughing fit.

"Mama had a fart from her neck" was how she described it.

Being in a fit of coughing and one of uncontrollable laughter at the same time is really dangerous...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Justice?

Yesterday a man who pleaded guilty - admitted - to raping his daughter regularly over a ten year period walked out of court, free pending an appeal. He was sentenced to twelve years, but the final nine were suspended, and for the first three he was remanded on continuing bail - basically enabling him to walk out of court.
More details of the specifics of the case at these links:
Independent
Irish Times



His daughter waived her right to anonymity in this case so that he could be named and shamed - he is Patrick O'Brien, age 72. He suffers from a "serious medical condition" - but so what?


His victim, the man's own daughter, will never be able to forget the horrific crime he committed. However, she had the right to feel that some semblance of justice would be done. He wasn't old when he first committed the crime. He wasn't sick. So what if he is now? If his crime is worthy of a prison sentence then it is worthy of a prison sentence.

This is just the latest in a long string of cases of leniency meted out to perpetrators of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and incest by "Justice" Paul Carney. For example, the time he freed the attacker, leading his victim to have to travel home on the same train as him.  Or the time he forced a victim to stand in front of the men she accused of gang raping her and point at them, leading her to try to take her own life. Or the time he said that the crime merited a sentence of nine years, but on account of the perpetrator's good employment record and lack of other convictions, he suspended half of it.

Carney has a bad record when it comes to sex crimes, but he isn't the only judge in the country who does - look at the examples from last year of a man sentenced to six years with the final FIVE AND A HALF suspended as well as being ordered to pay compensation to his victim - paying her for sex which she did not consent to, essentially.  And the perpetrator who offered compensation to his victims.

We need to look at this as a society - why are sexual offences not considered serious enough to merit mandatory minimum sentencing? What should it matter if a perpetrator is now old and decrepit - he once wielded the power to commit the crime, and that is what should be taken into account. Who cares if he has no other convictions? Once is enough to affect a victim's life forever, and at least once a week as happened in this case was certainly enough to ruin her childhood. Risk of reoffending of course should be taken into consideration - but just because a rapist or abuser is old and decrepit now doesn't mean that he wasn't ever a risk, or that he didn't commit other offences while still able-bodied.

There is a facebook page Justice for Fiona Doyle where efforts to get justice in her case are being concentrated and publicised. There is also a petition you can sign.

Please do something - even just share the stories above on facebook or twitter, or in conversation in daily life. So many women are victims of some form of sexual assault during their lives. We have to change this culture a little at a time - from the top down, and the bottom up. Every action counts.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Today I miss my dog

I was walking up the street earlier today and I almost burst into tears, all of a sudden.

Not over the sudden break up of my twelve year relationship/nine year marriage. I'm still too angry at the moment to be sad about that. Though I have no doubt the sadness will come.

No, what made me sad was the sight of a man walking two gorgeous dogs, which immediately made me think of my dog, Molly.

My Molly.

We got her eight and a half years ago. A friend knew we were softies when it came to animals, and on the lookout for a female dog as a playmate for Muttley. He told us a tale of many puppies, destined for a bag in the river if they didn't get homes.

We went and looked at them, wary but curious. We hadn't intended to get a collie. And the first few pups we saw weren't particularly gorgeous, I must admit, they seemed to have some terrier in them maybe?

Then we saw Molly.


I picked her up and she started licking me shyly. The other pups seemed to push her out of the way and bully her - she looked different, she was a little larger than them but clearly the odd one out, still a sort of runt of the litter perhaps. Affectionate where the others were yippy and nippy.

We brought her home and introduced her to Muttley, who was used to playing with the cat Mercury, similar in size to the new pup. He immediately took to Mols. They played roughly, but he always took care.


I know it looks savage, but it honestly was harmless fun.




Muttley and Molly quickly became friends, but in the end, I took longer to love the little dog.



She peed, you see. Every morning we would come down to find a piddle on the carpet.



No matter what we did - late to bed, early to rise, a dog-toilet (like a litter tray), every morning she would pee. If we left her in the non-carpeted bit of the house she would whine and scratch and scrape and bark until we took pity on her and let her out - or feared the wrath of the neighbours in what was a semi-detached house with paper-thin walls.

The neighbours came to feature more prominently in our lives as the months drew in. It turned out that whenever we were away from home, Mols would bark. Pretty much incessantly.

I can understand how that would drive them crazy. They had a young child. They were genuinely nice people. But I came to dread having to leave the house except when dog-walking, as I knew that I would have to pay for that time away later in the form of listening to well-justified complaints that I could seem to do nothing about. Any of the training methods we had found so successful on Muttley simply didn't work on Mols. She was a totally different dog.

We moved out to the country, and my anxiety eased - now there were no neighbours to listen to her barking. She found other ways to release her frustration - a remote control chewed beyond use, lino torn up, even an occasional item of furniture would suffer.

I don't remember when I came to love her. It was a gradual thing. But one day I realised I did. She was my dog, and she was there for me and I loved her.

Muttley died, and we had Sherlock the newfie for a while, but Molly was a constant. She adapted her anti-social personality as we came to have more frequent visitors after E was born (she used to fear people coming over, probably having picked up on my anxiety from the early days of visitors equalling complaints and stress, and responded to any attention by growling, which naturally many people found disconcerting).

She still got anxiety from being left alone in the house, and even at this age was capable of causing destruction more akin to that common from a puppy. But I loved her, so I forgave her.

And then.

Then came the split. I left. I couldn't take her. I had to take my child and my pregnant self and find a new place for us to live, and the places near town (since I now have no car) don't tend to be pet friendly, or even if they are, would be unsuitable for a dog like Molly who needs several miles of walks a day.

I expected the ex would continue to look after her, but no. He decided he would be living somewhere else as well, somewhere unsuitable as well.

I had to say goodbye when I went to get my stuff from the house. I hugged her and kissed her nose and had to tell her to go back to the house when she wanted to jump in the car beside me. It broke my heart, and even though I know she's happy in her new home with a family and another dog to keep her company, today my heart is breaking for her a little bit.

My Molly. Miss Bear. I miss her. I may not see her again. And that is just horribly, terribly sad.


Friday, 18 January 2013

TV and film.

I was only ever allowed to watch a little TV as a young child - we didn't have one at all until I was 4 and a half, and my viewing was very limited (I have fond memories of Bosco and Pat's Chat). I had a vivid imagination and lively outdoorsy personality.

Overall, I found it weird when I visited other houses where the television seemed to be always on, regardless of whether anyone was actually watching something. It was like a comatose member of the family that no one dared switch off, every glanced at from time to time - it was very much a presence in the room, even when not actively watched.

Fast forward to my own parenting choices - I've managed to keep E away from TV for the most part until the later part of her first year when she started watching some little youtube videos. And then when we got a freeview box, I let her start watching CBeebies as there are no ads (I despise advertising on childrens' TV - when I saw one on RTE2 for McD's "Carrot sticks" but the ad still full of the familiar golden arches branding I was enraged at how they're trying to circumvent the ban on advertising junk food to kids).

Then, just before Christmas, she watched her first feature film - ET The Extra Terrestrial. I hope I don't have to link that - surely everyone has seen or at least knows of the classic ET? If not, beware - spoiler alert!

E sat through the whole film - a rarity for her to sit still that long for anything - on my lap, talking about what was happening. She was especially moved by the point at which poor ET fell in the river and was so cold. "The Alien" as she called him turned blue, and the boy was very sad, and then he went home in his spaceship.

It's a heartwarming story about friendship and bonding and family and saying goodbye but remembering forever.

A few days later we watched the classic The Snowman. She loved it too (though she wasn't particularly captivated by the sequel, the new The Snowman and the Snowdog, which failed to live up to the original in my mind either, though it started very promisingly).

Once again, a story about a short lived friendship with a magical or unusual creature, with a sad ending and memories that will last forever. Also, a classic scene of flying through the air that has entered popular culture in each film.

So E has been introduced to the world of film, the world of flying, and the world of tragedy, all in one go. I wonder what she'll do with all that? Her imagination has taken off, at at the moment we've no freeview so so CBeebies, so no TV. Just one Dora the Explorer DVD which drives me crazy so she's only watched it twice - I don't think she's too bothered either to be honest, she enjoys her Dora books but when it comes to TV, she seems to have delightfully discerning taste.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

More drama than the soaps...

So my Christmas started off quiet, but suddenly became very dramatic - and I really prefer my drama on the TV. All the same, I coped, as what else is there to do really - with the aid of great friends and fantastic family.

I can't go into too many details here as I'm not all that anonymous, so for now at least it'll have to suffice to say that Soc Mammy is now Single Soc Mammy, having discovered a few nasties about the husband, and left on account of them.

I hope to resume more regular blog posts soon, but I'm in the middle of sorting out finances and moving house at the moment. E has reacted very well to everything, thankfully - she has been more bothered by the onset of her 2 year molars than the turbulent situation, to be honest.

So happy new year, everyone, hope your holiday season wasn't as dramatic as mine!