26 October 2013

scavenger hunting

I had ridiculous amounts of fun with the guides last night! We went on our scavenger hunt around the town and they solved all the clues and found the leader :)
We started at the usual meeting place and then from there they had to solve a clue which led to the start point and then headed to town. They were then sent on two different routes and worked really well as a team solving their clues and hunting for the things they were looking for. As the final clue they were given a sum to do and a tracking symbol to follow. Our team came in first and so they were awarded the challenge cup.
a jesters hat

an eel

celebratory marshmallow (yes, that is just 1 marshmallow)
Actually, it's a mug I bought in Morrison's! So, more of a challenge mug.
We're going to let them write their patrol name on it and then will let whoever wins the next challenge have the privilege! At the end of the year we'll determine which patrol gets to keep it and we'll start another one in September. 
We've also decided it's time to reconvene the patrols. They have been working as just one patrol for the most part, but as they worked so well in those teams they will be their new patrols. I will be challenging them to get a full patrol asap as well! So we are disbanding the dregs of the patrols and giving them completely new ones.
We did have 6 when I first started so there are 4 emblems in the box that are going begging. We've also split up a couple of the guides as one was being very dominating over the other. 
I have decided that I will sew all my badges on my hoody and then the guides can see all the good things that we've got to do and they'll keep pushing for us to join in with things locally. Because, badges...
And in other news, there is a new post up on madam's blog: Cats and Dogs

24 October 2013

how can a year go so quickly?

I genuinely thought that after madam went to school full time I would get more chance to blog and maybe I would be able to make my blog something really interesting... But no. I seem to neglect it for days on end now.
This, I suppose is in part due to just how busy life seems to have become, what with starting to do actual job hunting type activities. But also I think because I am becoming more well in myself.
The whole reason I even began to blog was because of my depression and how it was affecting me. I felt like I was hiding from the world and needed somewhere that I could express myself and begin to feel more normal again. And I think it has really helped me. I have learned to be able to look at myself in a different way.
But do you know what has really helped? Twitter. Yes, that's right, the worlds favourite micro-blogging site (WTF *does* that mean? It's a chat room for crying out loud...). But over the last year I have met and befriended so many people who show me nothing but kindness and encouragement. Supporting all my endeavours and just generally being lovely. It's the community I always wanted to live in, full of like-minded souls.
Obviously, my lovely friends who I have known for years have all been a massive part of it too. But Twitter even comes into that too. We are now more capable of staying in touch than we ever have been before, and we can talk as a group which is *almost* as good as having them all there together.
It is just over a year since I first came out as being depressed. I had struggled alone for quite some time before then. I am amazed at the difference a year can make. At about this point last year I was sitting crying, almost uncontrollably, in a café. My lovely friend picked me and madam up and brought us to her house for tea. I still can't thank her enough for how much that meant to me.

But now, although my demons aren't all defeated, I'm so much happier. My feelings of being overwhelmed all the time have subsided. I am finding I have some of my confidence back. I have applied for a couple of jobs (sadly, not successfully) and I think I can fight my own corner a bit more.

My beautiful, crazy, cheeky little girl has just turned 5 and I feel like a new start is upon us. I have started making the proper moves to go back to my maiden name. I am determined to draw a line under the end of my relationship. I *finally* have lost those feelings for him that were making that so hard.

I will always care about him. But as the father of my child not a partner. I finally feel free of him. And having my real name, as it were, is going to be a part of that. I feel like, with this blog, I have spent a lot of time giving you progress reports. And having to really think about me, who I am, how things have changed has done me no end of good.

I think that now I am here this blog is starting to go in another different direction. It will always be a place for me to think things through, and for me to ask questions I feel I need to, but mostly it's becoming a crafting type blog! I have another finished project for you to see, but I'll just finish this bit first...

I am so thankful for all your support. Thank you for helping me realise that life is sometimes shit, but always worth it. Thank you for being there, I hope if you ever need me I can be there for you. Thank you to whoever it was who invented Twitter and for it giving me a space to meet people who are just like me, only different and wonderful all at the same time.

(This is a really big, aww, you guys *group hug* type of post!)

So, project! I have crocheted a new hat for myself (I may need to do one for a couple of other people too (that would be one each, not to share!)). The pattern came from Ravelry. If you're into knitting/crochet it is a great site to sign up to... So many patterns!

The pattern I used was one of the free ones that is available. It's called Polar Hat and is by Pippa Wilson. It comes from her blog and you can find it here if you're interested. It's a really quick make, I made it in an evening. It uses chunky weight yarn and an 8mm hook. Her version is a rather fabulous orange, but I chose a James C. Brett marble in shades of purple for mine.

And here it is:

wow, cheesy grin or what!

It has a very small brim that gives it that bit more interest than a beanie. I made mine very slightly bigger as I have a big head! I would imagine that her design would fit almost everyone else though...

Whaddya think?  

15 October 2013

fudge making and other stuffs

Today I 1) feel like I look in this flattering photo and 2) wish I was still at home in my amazing warm dressing gown!
I have set up madam's outfit blog, you can find the first post at this link: A Dizzy Fashion Story: Skele-fun. As she has birthday in 3 sleeps (the countdown of sleeps is literally the first thing she says to me when she wakes up!) this weekend's post will probably be her party outfit. I have bought her a body glitter stick, which, thinking about it, might have been a foolish plan!
I made fudge with my dad yesterday, this is because, despite having attempted to make it twice, it has failed both times. I found a recipe on this lovely blog and it had really good, clear instructions. Now, my dad is a chemist, he is trained to follow instructions precisely, how he has failed twice is beyond me!
So, I put myself in charge and followed the steps as laid out on the blog. My dad had to help with the final step, my arm was starting to drop off after so much beating of the cooling mixture! But we got something that looked a lot like fudge at the end of it. And, it had actually set mostly by the time I left to go to the gym! Given his last batch didn't even set up when mum shoved it in the freezer I think we can call it a success.
By the way, just how do you achieve that? It wouldn't even freeze?! I will admit that I don't think this version is perfect. Even though I thought I had melted it all down properly when we were beating it I noticed it was still a bit grainy, like not all the sugar had properly dissolved. I'm pretty sure it will taste okay, even so...
I also finally got rid of madam's old bed yesterday. It broke ages ago and then my dad took it all apart the other week whilst H and I had fun with the We Watch Film guys and watching Labyrinth. The pieces have been stacked up in madam's room ever since. Along with all the packaging for the new bed. But now it's all gone and no-one has to negotiate large cardboard box in the hallway! Result. 
I *didn't* get any more crochet done though, which I had planned on doing yesterday evening. I mainly messed about on Fruit Ninja whilst sort of watching Batman Begins and Casino Royale. The latter made me extremely late to bed and I had to really force myself out of bed this morning. Although, madam still beat me on the not wanting to get up stakes. And she went to bed at 8pm!
I might try sending her a bit earlier tonight as I am having so much trouble getting her going in the morning. We were actually late for school this morning. Despite living about a 10 min walk from the school gates. We didn't leave the house until 8.45, which is the moment when her class usually goes in with their teacher! I am a stickler for punctuality and her being late winds me up no end. And I have no idea how to improve it. I can't dress her, she's too old. I can't make her hurry up, she doesn't seem to care. I have tried threatening to send her in the nude, but she knows that's an empty threat as she has to be in uniform... What do I do? I can only try making her get up earlier so that she has more time to get ready. But then *I* have to blooming get up too. Urgh :(
I might actually have to go to bed at a reasonable hour myself! Ha ha!
Today I am mainly spending doing blogging and some research for a future post (I know, so not like me!) also I need to order my tickets for this months Classic Movie Tuesday (Ghostbusters, FTW!). I need to get maps from the Tourist Information centre so that I can start planning out a route for the Guide treasure hunt thing. Also, need to think up a prize for them... At some point I might even do some more crochet. Madam is proving far too big for the pattern I have and I keep having to increase things! I did buy an extra ball of yarn, so it's not too much of a problem. Though I have realised the colour is pretty much the same as her school uniform! Oops. Good job she likes burgundy...
I also, at some point, need to wrap madam's presents (including the ones from V and her dad) and on Thursday I'm cake baking/decorating! I have bought some really pretty candles which are supposed to burn with coloured flames, so we shall see :)

13 October 2013

a Sunday summary

I have been having a busy week, hence the lack of any blog posts from me. Have been utterly skint and incapable of getting to my usual source of free wifi (Caffe Nero, I love you). Then, when I did have funds my time was taken up with more planning for other stuff.
Also I spent a lovely morning with friend V doing birthday present prospecting, yarn shopping and lunching with friend L and her littlies. I had a fabulous time and I had the selfish delight of having V to myself for a couple of hours which never happens any more!
I have now acquired everything I want for madam's bday on Friday (18th). I have gone with a new outfit, a fleece onesie thing with penguins all over it, and the Lalaloopsy doll that she saw and fell in love with. The doll proved the hardest thing to track down as all the shops were out of stock of that particular one. I eventually ordered it from Amazon as even Tesco, who were advertising it, didn't actually have one when I tried ordering it.
It is a special one as it was created for National Cat Day which happens to be October 29th and as madam is an October baby and mad on anything feline, it was the logical choice :) Her name is Whisker's Lion Roar which is preposterous, but madam loves these dolls. If you feel like having a gander the link is here.
She is meant to be arriving on Tuesday, I *really* hope she isn't late or I shall start to panic. I was looking at a few on ebay, but they are nearly all the same price as in the shops or more, and then ludicrous amounts in P&P because they're heavy. I gave up on that in the end.
Now I just have to make a birthday cake and wrap everything up...
I did weather charts and rain gauges with the Guides on Friday as further badge work. Next week we're doing a wide game that involves clues so that we'll be ready for the treasure/scavenger hunt around town the week after! I also handed in my application form for midday supervisor at one school and picked up an application for the same at madam's school. I have just seen an advert in town for a coffee shop too. That's a shop that sells coffee, not a café as I first thought it was.
I have been wondering about setting up another blog which will be about madam's fashion choices as she keeps me endlessly amused with what she wears and has the ability to make most things look good. The idea comes from one of my favourite Pinterest boards. The My Imaginary Well Dressed Toddler Daughter board is full of child modelling photos with added captions. It makes me giggle, a lot. 
But it started me thinking about the whole child modelling thing and madam's love of posing and dressing up. It would probably be a once a week post and I was thinking of making it a proper fashion blog and breaking her outfits down. It might be quite funny. Sadly, I will have to miss out some of these gems...

and just wait for her personality to shine on through. For example, today she has spent dressed up as a skeleton. No, it's not Halloween for another few weeks, but that is not going to stop her!
When I have it up and running I shall let you all know :)   

8 October 2013

I officially have the skills

Yesterday was quite good, really. Given that it was a Monday, anyway!
I took madam to school in the morning as usual. She did wake up and tell me school is boring which is the first time I've ever heard that from her! Didn't stop her scooting to school like a mad thing though.
After dropping her off I headed for my mum and dad's to go grocery shopping (the glamour). We headed to Morrison's and I tried to remember all the things that were on the list I had carefully left at home. I bought madam and I a chocolate apple as this is my new favourite thing to get as a treat for her on a Monday after school.
We did start off with toffee apples, but apparently madam doesn't like those :(
After shopping we headed for college where I picked up my certificate from the counselling skills course I finished in May. I had been beginning to worry about whether I was ever getting it as it had been so long with no word!
When I picked it up I also asked about my portfolio as I hadn't been contacted to collect it and had also been expecting that back. The lady behind the desk said she'd look into it for me and I did get a phonecall letting me know it was in my tutors office and I could collect it whenever.

Obviously, I haven't got it yet as getting up to the college is a bit of a trek and I only went yesterday as I got a lift! So lazy. I shall probably head up tomorrow morning as I get more stuff done when I just get on with them straight after I've dropped madam off!
I went home and had lunch, went to the gym and picked madam up. She did her now usual trick of being a monumental pain in the bottom and got sent up to her room to cool off for a few minutes. This cooling off period after school seems to be quite important! She is really tired and cranky at 3.30 having five minutes to herself seems to really help her. But she wouldn't just go up there if I asked her to.
For dinner we voted for fish and I decided to do a crumble. I have to say, I think I outdid myself this time! It was so good. I made chocolate, cherry and almond for a bit of a change. I had a tin of cherry pie filling that had been sitting in the cupboard for a while.
So, as I was asked for a recipe last night, here is how I made it.
First, pour tin of filling into pie dish.
Weigh out 3oz of self raising flour and 1oz of cocoa powder. Add in 2oz of cubed softened butter and rub the ingredients together until it looks like breadcrumbs. Then add 2oz of sugar (this is more than I would normally put in, but I didn't want the cocoa to be bitter). And I chucked in a handful of flaked almonds as I found some in the cupboard! Mixed it up a bit and put it over the top of the fruit.
I put it in my oven at about 200 degrees C for 20 minutes, the smell in my kitchen was amazing! And it tasted pretty darn good, too ;) 


6 October 2013

a viking adventure

I had a slight misunderstanding about what yesterdays school thing was about. There is now a scale model Viking boat in the upper school playing field at madam's school (I only ever really go in the foundation stage area atm, so hadn't *really* noticed it).
So, yeah, we got to school and there were a few stalls around making balloon swords and other Viking accoutrements. As I have *no* cash until Tuesday I had to march madam past everything. She has a wooden Viking sword at home and if I'd thought we could have brought that with us.
Madam instead went straight for climbing over the boat which is big enough for a whole heap of kids to play out any number of fantasies. She commandeered the prow and made the most of her position to order the surrounding populous around. They mostly just ignored her.

She then met up with a chum of hers from her class and they went careening off into the wooded area at the back of the field and spent the majority of the hour or so we were there collecting conkers and jumping all over the tree stump seats and things that are along the nature trail. She did manage to come back in time to have her photo taken for the local paper (not just her, it was a group shot). I mainly sat on one of the benches and supervised her coat!
After I managed to persuade her to leave, which she only agreed to when she realised that we were pretty much the only people there, we headed home for a bit of a chill before dinner. We had decided to make a fruit crumble (plum and strawberry) for dessert. But I had this rush of blood to the head and decided that even though crumble is becoming a bit of a signature dish for me we should have something different.
I had already pretty much made the crumble topping when I decided this so had to improvise what I was going to turn it into. I went with shoving a splash of milk in and turning it into a sort of scone dough. I (of course) put too much milk in and ended up desperately adding flour to try and dry my dough out a bit! I made it into little flattened balls and put them all around the top of my fruit. You know, bit like a cobbler.
I have no idea if I even vaguely made the right thing, but what we ended up with tasted really great and was a change from the same old, same old. I shall make it again, but perhaps in a small deeper pan. That way the topping might join together better and the fruit won't all stick to the underneath!
We did go to the Harvest Festival this morning after all. And it was nice to see the display of food that had been brought in. Madam was particularly taken with the wheat sheaf they had right in the centre of the altar display. All the food collected today is going to the churches newly formed food bank. This is the same for madam's school service on Wednesday.

the main table with all the food was off to the side!
After the service we wandered along to the food festival, but it was so busy and loud that madam wasn't keen. There was a barbecue/grill going that was smoking wildly as well. We didn't stay long and we didn't find any free samples... Boo ;) 
We ended up going to mum and dad's a bit earlier than normal and madam has mainly been riding her bike and getting under peoples feet since then! We have taken her for a ride out to the supermarket in the hope of finding her some more school t-shirts as she's ruined some of them already. They had none in, annoyingly, then we took her to the park on the way home. She is now (finally) sitting quietly. I'm hoping she might be tired enough to go to bed to time this evening.     

5 October 2013

chocolate, guides and harvest

Last night, at Guides, was chocolate night! The Guides had all remembered to bring a bar of chocolate in with them. And they had all ensured it wasn't made in the UK. We even managed to have no two bars alike which I was really pleased by.
The Guides were busting to taste the chocolate so obviously we made them do a couple of other things first, including introducing them to a new leader who joined us last night for the first time. I'm thrilled to have someone else joining the team as it'll be a lot less pressure on me to always be there every week! So, for example, madam's birthday is on a Friday and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be a bit late. But knowing I won't be leaving QM on her own means I don't have to rush as much to be there on time.
I have a feeling madam will want to come to Guides that night, anyway!
I am kicking myself for not taking photos of proceedings once we got started on our tasting. We had everyone sit around a big table and then had everyone try a piece of their own bar to see if they liked it. Then, without me having to persuade them, they decided to go round everyone with one bar of chocolate at a time so that we all tasted the same thing together.
Then they had a quick discussion about whether they liked it or not. (the nots were mainly reserved for the dark chocolate!) and some idea of why. And once all 9 bars had been sampled we concluded that amongst our group the milk chocolate was more preferred than the dark, but that no-one necessarily agreed on which had been the best bar as everyone had their own favourites.
The Guides learned that different countries and companies made chocolate that tasted quite different from each other and they all agreed that it was good to have had the chance to try something new.
For example, my favourite turned out to be the Peruvian milk choc that one Guide had brought in. I usually prefer darker stuff. And a couple of the Guides surprised themselves by liking the Asda dark chocolate with orange as they liked the bitter/sweet flavour combination.
I also asked who would be around the week we broke up for half term. Normally we don't meet that week as we don't book the hall. This is because in a larger company if you have a couple from each patrol who can't come then it really changes the dynamic. However, the small group makes that easier as they're still all working as one patrol. But, likewise, if more than a couple were going to be missing it wouldn't be worth the effort!
Anyway, we established that they were all available and have told them we will be doing a scavenger hunt type thing around town. In the dark. You have no idea how exciting this made it for them! Now that we have another leader we will also be able to divide the girls into teams (patrols) for it. This will make it more fun, I feel...
Now I just need to devise a route and some clues ;) I shall have to keep it to the town centre and try and use either the Merchants Trail or the Elwell Trail which are both dotted around and about in the centre. They may well have seen some of the things around, but I'm hoping having them solve clues for it will make it harder.
Also, our new leader is not local and so won't be able to help them very much! This is quite cruel of me... Obviously, I shall pair her with a unit helper who is local, but still... Mwah ha ha! And the Guides all know I won't help them.
So that is Guides for me to be organising.
Today, with madam, I am going to the Viking boat launch at her school. This is not as odd as I think it sounds. They have built a boat shaped bookshelf in the library along with a snake shaped one and they are getting their official unveiling today. There is apparently going to be some games and activities for the kids to do as well, so might as well take madam along to keep her occupied for an hour or so.
We will be taking her scooter with us as it has been living at my parents house since the start of summer but she now wants to be able to scoot to school like most of her friends do. She will still have her bike for playing out with the neighbourhood kids, so it'll all be good.
The church has their Harvest festival tomorrow morning but I am in two minds about whether to go. My first objection being that its at 9.30 in the morning, which is a bit keen even for me! And also, madam has her school harvest service on Wednesday to go to. I don't think she probably really wants to go twice. The advantage of going to the service is that we would get to then go and have a look around the food festival in town (which is why the service is so early). We've missed it the last couple of years, which has been a shame. Its got to be quite a big event for the town and this year has been combined with the real ale and cider festival! :)
I couldn't find a harvest picture, so here is the cutest pumpkin ever!
I think madam would probably enjoy finding all the free samples on offer, she is an expert at it on Saturday mornings around the market. This morning she got her usual free lolly from the sweetie man, a bit of lamb and mint sausage, and some Japanese crispy chicken stuff! She's not gong to need breakfast on a Saturday soon!

3 October 2013

in which I read too much into things

I have spent the morning watching YouTube videos. This was not just on a whim but because the first thing I did this morning (after reading the brilliant new post on Hyperbole and a Half) was read an article about an open letter from Sinead O Connor to Miley Cyrus.
The two names mentioned together was what drew me to it. I didn't really understand why she might be bothering. The letter, which you can read here, was apparently written as Miley had quoted Sinead O Connor's seminal Nothing Compares 2 U video as the main influence for her newest offering.
I read the letter, I agreed with most of what Sinead had to say. And then I clicked on the link to watch the video. I won't say I was horrified, I wasn't even that surprised that it has finally come to a point where a female singer is entirely naked in her own video. But I was so frustrated that Miley had thought it was ok for her young fans to watch that.
I can't help thinking about all the young girls, like my own, who will see that and have so many questions. Aside from the obvious "mummy, why is that lady in the nuddy?" and "isn't she cold like that?" that I would get from mine, there are so many things that older girls will have to think about.
I watched the video and clicked on one of the next videos that were suggested. This was the famous "twerking" video. But even that was less bothersome. At least she was (mainly) clothed in this one. I'm obviously more of a prude than I thought. And, genuinely, I'm not really that fussed about what these girls are wearing. It's their body, it's their choice. But I wonder if it really is.
Clicking on another Miley song "Party in the USA" reveals a very different image being portrayed and also lyrics that tell of an independent girl attitude about not wearing stilettos to fit in with the in crowd. Brilliant, this is the kind of song I want my daughter to be listening to. And that was how it started. Clicking only on videos that were suggested I had a look at some of the female artists that are out there at the moment.
My daughter is suddenly very aware of the outside world and is starting to be aware of "cool". There are girls at school who talk about different singers than she's ever come across. I clicked on Jessie J's Do It Like A Dude as it's one madam already likes. She doesn't understand the lyrics (probably just as well) but has picked up the chorus and can be heard singing "do it like a brother, do it like a dude" every now and again. I like the song, I'm not going to lie, that's why she's heard it. But it isn't massively suitable.
But at least Jessie seems to be able to keep her clothes on. I looked for more girls and clicked on a few Katy Perry videos. I was trying to stick with pop/urban as that is what is most prevalent. Katy, again, mostly managed to stay dressed in the videos that I watched. Her lyrics are quite clever and sometimes powerful. She talks of independence and making it on your own values. Again, I like. I would like my daughter to believe she is important enough to not allow herself to be messed around.
I skipped the Beyoncé section as she watches a lot of those at home. I like Beyoncé, and I like the majority of her music. I like her videos and even though she seems to be wearing less clothes with every album, I'm not too bothered about her being madam's favourite. On to the wonderful Pink and her Stupid Girls video. I have mentioned my love for this video in an earlier post, but it seemed appropriate to view it again now.
And she still wins. Feisty girl, speaking about women making something of themselves instead of pretending to be vacuous. I love that song so much for all it says and the humour that she manages to get into it. I also watched a couple of Lily Allen's videos. Other than loving her sense of humour and her catchy tunes I found the song The Fear is another attempt at dealing with what women think they should be. She is so wonderfully straight talking, but perhaps a little too old for my 4 yr old!
Lily Allen led on to La Roux. Now, madam loves the song Bulletproof and I have to say that I love the video as La Roux is being exactly who she is. She is very striking and possibly not considered pretty (though, I think she is, but I think Tilda Swinton is and people disagree there, too). But I love that she isn't trying to fit into an image of what an attractive female should be. Because (based on these videos) girls should mainly have "bikini bodies" and be willing to prance about on camera showing said body off. *shudders*
Then I watched the Lady Gaga video for Born This Way. I actually had real trouble with it. It's a song that sings of acceptance and being proud of who you are (so far, so good) but there is no-one in the video that would not be considered one of the beautiful people! They are all skinny and, again, in nowt but their underwear. Does no-one ever get cold? I really loathed it. I have trouble with a lot of Gaga's imagery as a lot of her videos could well be mistaken for porn. She wears so little and poses so provocatively. The over-sexualisation of girls is something I really worry about. I resolutely refused to buy my child a tracksuit that had "cute academy" emblazoned all over it last winter. There were no plain tracksuits available in the girls section. They all had a slogan based on attractiveness on. I bought her a boys one.
On to Kelly Clarkson, again madam knows one of her songs quite well (it's in my favourite film) but again I'm quite happy with Kelly. Also, I know she speaks out quite a bit on size issues as she regularly gets a lot of negativity for gaining weight. She's cute, she sings about stuff I approve of, she gets my vote. Next up Pussycat Dolls, now I know that they're no longer together but watching their video with new eyes was quite strange. Again, I think that adult women should be allowed to wear what they want and be left the hell alone for it, but little kids look up to these women and I think they should be more aware of their influence.
I don't want my child parading around in so little clothes! (prude, prude, prude!) Oh and judging much today, oh yes!
On to Cheryl Cole, someone else madam already likes songs by. I only saw one song and it was pretty meh. I found her fairly harmless really. Better than Rihanna who was up next. Now Rihanna. I confess to liking her music, but I don't like her style. I felt nothing but sorry for her after the Chris Brown incident and was cross with her for going back to him. But she really nailed what my issue is. She started out in the Pon Da Replay video as a kid. Wearing her baggy jeans and her beanie hat, like all the other girls she probably grew up around. Now, half naked (or more) in all her videos. Why does growing up, for these girls, seem to equate to an inability to keep their clothes on? What message does that send to my child? Who are all the people around them that are encouraging that image? Why does it sell?
I worry for these young girls. How will they feel about themselves when they're older? Oh, and I did watch a couple of Nicki Minaj videos but as they were so lyrically explicit I wouldn't let madam anywhere near them in the first place, never mind her (what seems to be) underwear only policy in her videos...
I asked on twitter for sexy singers and was given only one response. Eartha Kitt. I had to giggle. So true, but she was sexy in such a different way. So much less in your face. And I think the world is a sadder place for that.
Now, I know that what I would like my daughter to listen and aspire to will be entirely different from what she wants. And it is her right to choose. But I do hope, by exposing her to artists who try and be about their individuality and who want girls to be the best at what they are, she might grow up to hold herself and her own values above what other people tell her to be. 
So she does go for that career she wants and she dresses to please herself and not the world. She is smart and funny and I hope she always thinks that those are admirable qualities and never hides her light. 
(I am now listening/watching Eartha Kitt on YouTube... I <3 her!)      

1 October 2013

a family tree for me

I have been trying to do some research on my family tree. To some extent it's quite easy. I know that my dad has his mother's tree somewhere and my mother has some of hers, but certain things are proving harder.
The most significant one being my search for what my Granddad did in the war. I knew that he had been a pilot, so I started with just a simple name search in Google. Nothing. What made it harder is I couldn't find any exact matches on his name and, although his first name is unusual as such, it is a not uncommon surname... So I ended up with loads of results for people who are nothing to do with anything.
Adding in his middle initial actually made it worse as I then got a whole load of results for a certain Hollywood actor! I needed to find some more specific information on him.
I hunted for any way to find his squadron number, because I hoped it would narrow it down. But with no idea where to start I was clutching at straws. My mum helped with that though and told me had been in the 602 Squadron from Glasgow. Typing them in brought up a museum! Brilliant.
We spent a happy hour or so scouring all the pictures on the site and were convinced we'd located him in a couple. There was a contact form and so I acted daft and asked them if they might have any record of him and whether they might have his service number as that would help our search immensely.
And they sent me the most amazing answer. Not just because they sent me his service number, or that they attached some photos to it. But they sent me a message from someone who had trained with him! They asked if I would like his email address and I just couldn't quite believe it. I had tacitly assumed there would be no-one left.
My mother now has the address and plans to contact him asap. We're fascinated to know if he can answer some of our questions. My grandfather told my mother that he was responsible for the shooting of Rommel's staff car (it's quite a famous incident) and even though someone else had been given the credit, it was actually him.
Now my grandfather had a wicked sense of humour, but he was never given to flights of fancy and something about the way he told the story as if he was reliving it made my mother believe him. She says the most convincing part is actually at the beginning of his tale. She says they spotted a staff car (because they didn't know who was in it) driving along a road at the top of an embankment and that either side was a disgusting green, sludge-filled ditch. Granddad had thought that if he shot at it whoever was inside would have to leap out and into the ditch (told you he had a wicked sense of humour) so he fired off what was the last of his ammo (he was returning from some other mission at the time). Took some pictures as that was what he was trained to do and then flew back to base. (Probably chuckling to himself all the way!)
It was once he was back in base that they learned who had been in the car. It was apparently very obvious from the photos. I also believe he had been upset as most people had some respect for Rommel, the desert fox. Now, as I said, we have no way of verifying this as my granddad passed away nearly 10 years ago and someone else has the credit. But it is quite convincing. And then we want to know how he ended up in Burma. Because 602 Squadron didn't. He flew with them until late 1944. Actually, until not long after the Rommel incident. Then suddenly, he is in Burma and spent the rest of the war in India and Burma!
Was he disciplined for the incident? Is that why he left the squadron, again, we have no idea. And, if it is just a made up story, why did he move? I know he was also shot down over the Normandy coast by friendly fire and picked up by the Navy. They deposited him in England and he had to make his own way back from there!
He flew over 100 missions over Germany and was an experienced pilot. I am very proud of what he did. I just wish I had more details. The photos that the 602 Squadron Museum sent show him by a plane in a group shot, in an amazing cartoon and also on a mess list.

He's so obvious to me in both those pictures, as soon as I saw them I spotted him. In the group shot he is standing under the propeller, the row of three at the far right. In the cartoon he is top row centre, with a brilliant caption! And, if you can see that mess list he's about in the middle of the second column.
Has anyone else searched for their family? How did you get on, I'd love to know.