Juggling all the aspects of my life with some baking, writing and good old fashioned ranting thrown in

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sugar and spice and everything nice...not necessarily

For centuries, women were treated as inferior to men. Indeed, this is still the case in some cultures, though I shan't get into all that here. It took a great deal of struggle for this to change and I believe, for the most part in Britain, it has. Of course, every now and then you'll find some bloke who seems to think women are only good for housework, childcare and occasionally getting his leg over. But nowadays, these men are seen as ignorant and old fashioned and simply wrong.

However, sexism from women seems to be on the increase. Barely a day seems to go by without hearing a fellow female making sweeping generalisations about men. They're insensitive. They're lazy. They can't possibly love their children as much as a woman can. They couldn't possibly handle the responsibilities of running a household. Some even go as far as to claim that men are, without exception, lying, cheating, violent monsters. 

Some women I have encountered seem to think that I'm subscribing to a 50s housewife lifestyle because I make the Other Half dinner when he gets home from work or because I have the good manners to check that he'd be available to babysit before I arrange an evening out with friends. What I should do, apparently, is insist that he cook every night and let him know on my way out of the door that he's looking after our child for the evening. A friend once said that she wouldn't be able to make it to playgroup the next week because her husband had a day off work and she wanted to spend it with him. A mutual friend present gave her a look of disgust mixed with utter bewilderment. Heaven forbid we enjoy time with our partners!

Of course, there is domestic violence in the world. There are terrible men who are violent, controlling and cruel. But they're not lurking around every corner! I actually think that by spreading the idea that all men are such creatures, you make it more likely that a victim is going to assume her life is quite normal and keep on with it. I've met some real monsters amongst the male sex and I haven't let that shape my opinion of men in general. Other kinds of prejudice are seen as unacceptable and I don't understand why this doesn't seem to be seen as exactly the same.  Cruelty and laziness are not traits restricted to men. Women can lie and cheat and be every bit as idle as any man could be.

So, ladies, lets try to be a bit kinder to the other sex. They don't deserve such vicious generalisations any more than we do. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Choosing an Open University course

I have received an email telling me that I am officially registered to start the OU course Creative Writing (A215) in September. I am very excited about this and I'm trying to prepare as much as possible. At the same time, now that I'm all set to start another module, I'm thinking about what I'll study after that. 

Open University courses come in three levels; 1, 2 & 3. My plan is to take two courses of each level, which will give me a Degree with Honours and a few other qualifications along the way. So far, I have completed two level 1 courses and I am taking my first level 2 course next. I have already planned that after Creative Writing (A215), I'll be taking Advanced Creative Writing (A363), which is a level 3 course. I still need to decide on another level 2 course and another level 3 course. 

I had originally been planning to take a course in child development at level 2 and a course in children's literature at level 3 but I've changed my mind on these now. I want to take more courses suited to my goal of writing fiction. With this in mind, I am now considering taking Reading and Studying Literature (A230) and then 20th Century Literature: Texts and Debates (A300). 

I am starting to regret my first course, which was K101 (An Introduction to Health and Social Care). I took this with the idea that I wanted to work with children. As time has gone by, I've entirely changed my mind on this idea. I've realised that I only wanted to work with children because I'm  good with children, not because working with children is really an ambition of mine. I decided that I might as well go for my actual ambition, becoming a writer.

I believe that life is just too short to go for an easy option or not bothering with a dream because it seems unattainable. Yes it may be unlikely to happen but, as long you aren't sacrificing too much, why not try? It isn't as if I'm going to refuse any job other than a writing job. I know that bills need to be paid and I won't have my daughter going without because of my ambitions. That would be unfair. I am being practical and realistic about this. I don't imagine that I'm going to write a best seller and earn millions (as nice as that would be!) but having something I've written published would be fantastic. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

My Little Monster's Favourite Words and Phrases

A while ago, I made a post entitled "What is it?", which was all about the Little Monster's new found curiosity in everything around her and the subsequent constant questions I was asked about every little thing she saw.

We've now moved on from "What is it?" to "Where did it come from?" She wants to know the origins of everything she sees. Its brilliant because she now knows where most of our food comes from, that wooden objects and paper are made from trees and that people are grown in their mummy's belly (I decided it was a little soon for her to learn how a baby comes to be in mummy's tummy!).

Another favourite word is "actually". She's become much more self confident and if I'm wrong about something, she'll correct me in a haughty tone. For example, if I say I think she looks tired and perhaps needs a little nap, she'll reply "I'm not tired at all, actually".

Nothing is "wanted" anymore. Everything is "needed". "I need a biscuit", "I need a hug", "I need a new magazine". A negative response leads to constant repetition of "But I need it Mummy, I need it". It seems that she has discovered that I will always do my best to give her anything that she needs but I won't necessarily give her everything that she wants. But she hasn't yet realised that I mostly know what she needs and that doesn't include new toys or chocolate or watching the DVD we only finished watching an hour ago.

Anything we do must be preceded with a countdown or a "Ready, Steady, Go!" This extends to leaving the house for any reason, going to the toilet and beginning a meal. This was a funny little habit that was evidence of her expanding imagination until yesterday when she decided crossing the road required a countdown. Every time the road was clear to cross over, she started counting. By the time she finished counting, a car was on its way towards us. This ended with a tantrum when I decided to pick her up and carry her across before she'd had a chance to start a fifth countdown. But after I explained why she couldn't keep doing this, she seems to have stopped doing it.

I love all her funny little mannerisms. I love that she plays little pretend games now and treats everything as an adventure. It makes everyday life that little bit more exciting!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

From my window

As part of the OpenLearn creative writing course I recently did, I completed an exercise in observation and sensory perception focused on my living room. I was not very pleased with it so I decided to do the exercise again. It was suggested that these exercises are repeated often anyway and I'm rather pleased with this result, which is basically observations from my living room window. Any constructive criticism would be welcome.

Between our building and the row of houses opposite, there is a small courtyard enclosed by brick walls at either end. A large circle of paving stones fills much of the right side while the left contains a hedgerow with a tree planted within in. There are two more trees are either end of the courtyard but from my viewpoint, only a few their leaves are visible, shaking in the gentle breeze.
The lawn has clearly been mowed as the many parallel lines running across it demonstrate. But this must have been done some time ago as a multitude of daisies are now scattered amongst the grass. A blackbird hops about near the hedgerow, its head flitting from side to side, as if nervous of some danger. It flaps into the air as a toddler bounds into the courtyard, followed by her mother pushing another, much younger child in a pushchair. The little girl is wearing a pretty floral summer dress and skips through the grass with joy. Her mother calls for her to keep on the path but she is determined to remain on the lawn. This reminds me of my own little girl and even of distant memories of wanting to walk on the grass as a child myself. Even now, the idea of strolling barefoot across that lawn seems appealing. It occurs to me that it could be the fresh scent as I catch a breath of this through the open window. Perhaps its simply more comfortable than walking on a paved surface.
The sky is perfectly blue, except for a white line drawn by an aeroplane. My daughter believes these to be rockets and thinks me silly for telling her otherwise. Birds fly across my view frequently. Some are seagulls, regularly seen by the river, which is just down the path to the right.
A young couple have just arrived carrying folded chairs and plates of food. They settle themselves on the lawn, the girl giggling as if breaking some rule. They eat and talk happily. I look away, aware that I am intruding on their privacy, despite it being a public place. It has not occurred to me to use this area before, except as a more pleasant route back from the supermarket. Perhaps we'll have a picnic down there one day and sit amongst the daisies and the fragrance of the grass and fresh air.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Meme - How and when do you find the time to...?

Thanks to Jennifer for tagging me in this meme!

1. Please post the rules!
2. When answering the questions, give as much information as possible. It's all about the finer details people!!
3. Leave a comment on Sex, drugs, rocker...and stroller, baby. This is so we can keep track of the Meme and take a polite nose into everyone else's lives! 
4. Tag 3 or more people and link to them on your blog.

So here we go, how and when do I find the time to...

 ...Do the laundry?
I try to do some laundry every day, as long as there is space on the airer for it. 

...Write a Blog Post?
Sometimes during the day if my Little Monster is occupied with for a while. More often in the evening when I have some time to myself. 

...Look after yourself  i.e wash your hair, paint your nails, have a bubble bath etc.
I shower every day. I paint my nails for special occasions and I usually paint my toenails a few times over the summer as I like wearing sandals. 

...Spend time with your other half  
Most evenings after the Little Monster goes to bed, we have some time alone. We watch films & TV, play board games, play computer games and talk about absolutely everything. 

...Do fun stuff with your LO?
I'm a stay at home mum so I try to fit in fun activities every day! We don't get many days out as its just too expensive but she's old enough for baking, growing things on the windowsill and lots of craft activities. 

...Spend time with family?
We live far away from family so we don't often see them but we use Skype sometimes and regularly talk on the phone. 

...Socialise with friends?
I go to a women's group every Friday morning and have many friends there plus I usually see a friend at least once during the week. 

...Prepare an evening meal juggling baby bedtime routine?
When I'm preparing dinner is usually the time when my daughter watches some television or a film. It keeps her fairly occupied so that I can cook. Whether we all eat together or not depends on the Other Half's work hours or if he's off to his theatre group in the evening. I try to make sure we have a family meal at least at the weekend. 

...Deep clean the house?
If we're expecting visitors, I usually have a Big Clean. 

...Do the food shopping?
As we don't drive, me and the Little Monster pop to the supermarket most days. It's good as it forces us to have a walk outdoors everyday, no matter what the weather is like. On the other hand, it makes buying economically difficult as what I can carry is limited. 

...Do bulk ironing?
Ha! I don't even own an iron!

I tag:

Dear Beautiful Boy
Chez Mummy
Just Another Muther

Monday, 21 May 2012

Project Dolls House

Sometime ago, the Little Monster was given a dolls house from her uncle. Due to moving house and other such interferences, it was quite a while before she could play with it. I was rather pleased that it was a plain wooden one as I loved the idea of decorating it. Again due to various interferences, I've done very little to it. However, yesterday the Little Monster somehow got hold of a red crayon and attempted to colour it in. I've managed to rub it off the furniture and some of the walls but not entirely. This has motivated me and I am now determined to get it properly decorated and looking beautiful.

I've spent some time this morning coming with interior design ideas and doing some internet research to find the best places to source materials. IKEA have a lovely range of fairly cheap material I can use for cushions and bedsheets. I'm still toying with the idea of making curtains; I think it'll be a final task, if I do it at all. On Amazon, there are many brands of tester paint samples. This means good quality paint but in small, affordable amounts. I'm going to use patterned paper for some wallpapering.

In the women's group I attend, we once made little mosaic coasters from craft kits. I'm now thinking that I could find some of these kits and use them to tile the Doll house bathroom floor. The hope is that it would be unique, as it would be my own design, yet also realistic looking.

The only item that I can't find a more affordable alternative for is the carpet. Dolls house carpet seems a bit expensive, given that it is only for a child's plaything. I thought about samples of real carpet but it would be too thick really. I might also buy proper dolls house exterior paper for the roof. Again, expensive but it'll look far better than anything I can paint on.

I'm very happy to have a creative project to work on. While I'm filling my notebook with observations and writing ideas, this will give me something else to work on until my next Open University course starts.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Moving on to Creative Writing

I have finally completed my second Open University module. I sent off my final assessment of AA100 (The Arts Past and Present), having actually enjoyed writing it. Clearly I am not adverse to writing essays, or I probably wouldn't be doing a degree, but it usually gets a little stressful towards the end. I squeeze in words to reach a reasonable word count. I rake through the textbook for anything I may have missed. But this essay was truly enjoyable. Perhaps it was simply because I found the subject interesting. Glastonbury, Stonehenge, symbolism, tradition...it was all very intriguing. But I think something was just going well for me. The words seemed to flow nicely rather than being forced. Lets hope this continues onto my next course!

Speaking of which, I have just have a quick browse through the OpenLearn Unit "Writing what you know", which is an adapted extract from the course I'll be starting in September; A215 (Creative Writing). It's interesting and has some very helpful exercises for improving sensory perception, observing the world around you and using memories. I tried out a couple of them and I plan to try more in a different location, perhaps tomorrow as I walk to church or if I take a walk along the river in the afternoon. 

I feel so enthusiastic about this. I'm going to buy a new notebook to start recording anything that might be good for my writing. It might even improve my blog! 

In other news, the Little Monster, with some help, is growing cress this week. So far, there's just some cress seeds scattered over some damp cotton wool in a little dish on our living room window sill but I'm hoping there'll be something to see tomorrow. She's very excited about growing something. It really makes me long for a garden where we could grow all manner of vegetables, fruits and flowers. Not to mention that I'd love to keep some chickens!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Just an update...

We've now been at our new flat and in our new neighbourhood for a little bit more than six months. Me and the Little Monster have made some lovely friends and generally had a brilliant time living here. I'm a lot happier and more positive than I once was. 

The Little Monster seems to be close to mastering potty training. She can now wear her "Special Big Girl Pants" to go out and even uses a toilet rather than potty sometimes. Now we just need to tackle night time dryness and it will finally be over! 

We've almost entirely stopped using the pushchair. The Little Monster walks everywhere now and loves it! 

I have been using flashcards to teach the Little Monster her letters and its coming along really well. I would estimate that she knows about half of the letters and for quite a few she knows a word that begins with the letter. 

I let the Little Monster help me with some baking for the first time last week and we made some rather pretty and very delicious cupcakes. She really enjoyed sprinkling mini marshmallows and little chocolate stars on top and, of course, licking the icing spoon! 

She's changing so much all the time. Always saying new words, always making up little songs, always wanting to try something new. I'm so proud of her. 

As for me, my latest Open University assignment came back with some nice comments from my tutor and a reasonable score; not my best but also not my worst and definitely an accomplishment, albeit a small one! I am slightly disappointed with myself that I did not finish my End-of-Module assessment as I had planned to last week. I am thoroughly determined to have it submitted by Friday, a task made much easier by the Other Half being very busy this week. Typing out an essay is always put off when a cuddle on the sofa is the alternative!

Speaking of the Other Half, it was our third wedding anniversary last week. Its been three busy and exciting years. On a slightly less positive note, this acts as a reminder that our last holiday was three years ago!

I have abandoned the idea of a structured diet in favour of simply making the effort to eat healthier foods. I've also been exercising for 30-60 minutes per day and I really feel like its giving me more energy. 

So everything is, for the most part, going well. It's exciting to think that this time next year, everything will have changed even more. The Little Monster will be three and hopefully in nursery. I'll be nearly halfway through my Open University degree and hopefully back at work. Its going to be a good twelve months!