Monthly Archives: July 2013

App Review – Dictionary.com

I still have a flip-phone that just calls people (which I use occasionally) and texts people (which I use a lot), and takes a very bad picture – every picture I take varies in blurriness from slightly, to extremely!

Anyway, I do possess an I-Pod, which I bought to replace my rather worn-out CD player that I used in classes – why it took me 18 months to actually start using the thing is beyond me, how much easier is it to just pause and go to the next track rather than having to make small talk whilst surreptitiously changing the CDs over with one hand behind my back – I suppose I could always get a job as a contortionist!

Well, I thought I’d have a scout through some of the free apps – and stumbled across Dictionary.com.

So now every morning, on goes the I-Pod to see what the ‘word of the day’ is.

SC loves it, he is getting new and unusual vocabulary to add to his repertoire, which may make the teachers at school reach for the dictionary themselves ūüėČ

Today’s word is ‘esse’ – which means being or existence, and comes from the Latin word of the same spelling meaning ‘to be’. It has, apparently been in English since the 1600s, so a fair few years then.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had some corkers.

I think my top 5 to date are:

5.  Clangor Рbasically reminded me of The Clangers the TV programme with the soup dragon I used to watch when I was little. The word pretty much means what you think it does, a loud resonant sound!

4.¬† Gobbet – a very unusual word meaning lump or mass.¬†I quite like it ūüėČ

3.¬† Boniface – now I thought this might pretty much mean pretty. Oh, how wrong could I be? It actually means a landlord or innkeeper. Next time you enter your local watering hole, might I suggest you walk up to the bar and ask for “a pint of your best real ale my good Boniface!” Actually, on second thoughts, maybe not!

2.¬† Yawp – anyone who’s seen the film Dead Poets Society will know this word. Robin Williams encourages all the boys to let out a good old yawp! Oh, boy, I cried buckets at that film and had a slight crushette on Robert Sean Leonard – he could have been my Puck any day!

1.¬† Fribble – my absolute favourite so far. I love it. It means to act in a foolish or frivolous manner. I’ve got into the habit of telling SC to stop acting ‘fribbolously’ (?) – now I’ve probably made that tense of the word up, but it sounds great and SC loves it, makes him laugh ūüėČ

Aside from a word of the day, the app also has a thesaurus, local lookups, translator, a hot word and a general dictionary. Not bad for a free app!

There are, like all apps, upgrades, but if you just want something to hand, it isn’t a bad little app at all.

And you get some great new words each day ūüėČ

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Do You Believe in Destiny?

Do you believe that somewhere, out there, in the grand scheme of things your destiny is all mapped out for you?

Do we arrive at points in our life through our own choices, or because it is our destiny?

I believe in destiny.

I believe that whatever choices we make in life, ultimately we will end up where we were meant to – sometimes it just takes a little longer, if we take a detour!

I don’t know who decides our destiny, but I do believe that whatever our journey through life, be it fraught with difficulties or a walk in the park, it is a journey we are given because we can handle it.

I was told once that we are given the life we can handle.

I like to think of that when I am feeling low and feel that the world is against me, it gives me hope and courage to continue and the belief that I am strong enough to handle anything.

 

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The A-Z of Life – Wisdom

What is wisdom?wisdom

How do we become wise?

When are we considered wise, at what age?

Is being clever and being wise one and the same?

 

They say, in general that wisdom comes with age.

But sometimes some very wise truths come from those of a very young age.

If we are knowledgeable about a certain subject, or if we can recall facts and figures at the drop of a hat, does that make us wise?

Or is wisdom, just about being able to see the right way to proceed in certain situations through life, and as in the Wisdom of Solomon, being able to make the right judgment?

I would not say I was wise about anything.

For sure, I can probably give good advice in certain matters, but do I apply that same good advice to my own situation? In general, I try, but fail!

In most regards, people see me as foolish, sometimes stupid and totally na√Įve in the ways of the world.

And, they are probably right.

I try to always see the best in other people, no matter what.

I don’t always see the best in me, and am always the first to¬†put myself down.

But I try to always do the right thing as I walk through life – because by being true to myself I am not living a lie.

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What’s the most important piece of equipment in your car?

So, here’s a little survey I found on a ‘social media’ site that I belong to.

Basically, the question is which piece of equipment in your car couldn’t you live without?

And the options:

  • ¬†Cruise Control
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Keyless Entry
  • In-built SatNav
  • MP3 Player Connectivity

Personally, for me, the piece of equipment I couldn’t live without in my car is the steering wheel!

It is a pretty essential piece of equipment as far as I’m concerned, along with the gear stick ūüėČ

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Friday Poem – Woman in Love

A beautiful poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. Is the poem though conveying the thoughts of a woman’s view of love, especially the last verse, or since the poet is actually a man, is he conveying his true thoughts about how it feels to a man to be in love? Interesting point I thought? What do you think?

Woman in Love

That is my window. Just now
I have so softly wakened.
I thought that I would float.
How far does my life reach,
and where does the night begin

I could think that everything
was still me all around;
transparent like a crystal’s
depths, darkened, mute.

I could keep even the stars
within me; so immense
my heart seems to me; so willingly
it let him go again.

whom I began perhaps to love, perhaps to hold.
Like something strange, undreamt-of,
my fate now gazes at me.

For what, then, am I stretched out
beneath this endlessness,
exuding fragrance like a meadow,
swayed this way and that,

calling out and frightened
that someone will hear the call,
and destined to disappear
inside some other life.

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Cats & Birds

catI was in the kitchen yesterday evening, and suddenly heard a flurry of bird song.

Naturally, I assumed it was a few of the seemingly several thousand sparrows that have inhabited the garden, taking the earl evening bath in the pond’s waterfall!

So, I cautiously peeked through the blinds into the back garden and what did I espy?

Nothing less than the sight of a grey cat running along the fence, hotly pursued by 2 very cross blackbirds. Obviously, the naughty kitty had disturbed their nest.

Not content with chasing him off the fence, they pursued him into the next-door neighbour’s garden and continued squawking from the safe confines of the tree.

It amused me for the rest of the evening ūüėČ

On another ‘bird’ point – we have a blackbird that must be severely stressed out, as its feathers are turning grey!

He literally has a grey stripe across his chest.

What does one call a blackbird who’s gone grey? A greybird?

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The A-Z of Life – Variety

Question!

If variety is the spice of life, why, do we all seem to terrified of change?

When change happens, we are all guilty of being reluctant to embrace it fully in some way.

Variety may be the spice of life, but routine is safe, it’s what we know and sometimes we just don’t want to leave our comfort zone.

For me, I think that’s probably why I never put money into a house. I wanted too, and came close a couple of times. But each time, I was swayed by a couple of external factors – my dad (ever the cautious accountant) saying, that the word was house prices were going to drop in the next couple of months (just don’t buy shares, I think would be my advice to him now) and secondly, myself. If truth be told, I¬†was always too scared to branch out on my own. I’ve already said I am one of nature’s natural born-worriers, and always there would be a barrage of what-ifs that popped into my head, and the worrier in me would outweigh the adventurous me. It always does.

I would like to think that now, with the wisdom of a few more years, I am slightly more adaptable to change, especially having had SC.

In fact, right now, I am embarking on a new voyage of discovery.

The chains which bound me in work for the past couple of years, I have just shaken off, and for the first time in a long time I feel free.

I have so much that I want to do, so many ideas, but first and foremost I have to build myself back up in order to be a hard-core bread-winning machine.

I’ve finally accepted the hand that has been dealt me now, and if I am to be on my own, then that’s the way it’s going to be.

I’ve proved to myself I can deal with my own disasters however painful they may be.

I feel afraid, for sure, but I know I can cope with anything life throws at me РI have the battle scars to prove it. I may have been defeated, more times than I have won battles, but I have not failed, for every single time I dusted myself down and stood back up again stronger and wiser than ever.

I didn’t need anyone before¬†I had SC, I don’t need anyone now!

One of the best books I have read was “Who Moved My Cheese”, by Dr Spencer Johnson is all about the different ways we look at change, which can be applied to any aspect of our lives.

Most of us can embrace change, eventually, and it takes some of us longer than others.

There are some people though who will never be able to embrace change.

As for me, I’m off to find new cheese!

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Top 5 Tips for New Parents

Royalist or not, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (along with millions of other parents around the world), welcome their new bundle of joy into the world (and yes, I have a bet on the name!) I thought I would rake my brains to come up with a top 5 tip list.

When I had SC (just over 6 years now) there was all the build-up for 9 months and then there he was this tiny little human being that I was in charge of looking after and nurturing. It was very emotional – before they arrive you have absolutely no idea how much a child completely and utterly takes over your life. I¬†was very much, before I had him, “Oh, I’ll be back working within a fortnight.” In reality the moment I held him against my chest a few seconds after he had been born I never wanted to leave him for one second, he was, and is so precious. I never wanted to miss a minute of him.

Children are a precious gift and from the moment they are born, we, as parents have a responsibility to raise them to becomes good, kind, thoughtful and responsible adults.

Parenthood doesn’t come from instruction manuals – no matter how many you read (and I read quite a few) – it’s a massive learning curve, especially with your first-born and we all make mistakes (I’ve made plenty) but if we do our best everything will turn out all right.

So here are my personal top 5 tips for new parents:

5.¬† They don’t break!

I remember when I first held SC how incredibly clumsy I felt. I was holding this tiny wriggling baby and it just felt as if every time I went to pick him up my hands had suddenly morphed into clown hands – you know where the hands are five times the size, just like those false ‘pointy finger’ hands people wear at Baseball games – and that if I picked him up wrongly he would somehow break like a china doll. It did take my midwife and my mum to reassure me that this wasn’t the case, and it really was just a case of practice makes perfect. Like changing a nappy and lifting up the legs to pop the clean one underneath the baby’s bottom – you are not going to do any harm lifting the feet up together in one hand…Oh yes, you do learn how to do many things one-handed – chopping vegetables is a positive art form one-handed!!

4.  Work Together

I was not fortunate enough to have a ‘hands on dad’, someone who would do his share of getting up early in the morning, or even just taking the baby out for a walk whilst I did a normal thing like take a shower! If you are that fortunate, you need to work together to find a routine that works for everyone – so that dad gets his fair share of changing nappies, and the early morning shift, but that he also gets to help out with the fun stuff like bath time and bed time routines. The early days are very testing for any new parents, mothers get very emotional around day 4/5 after the birth – the baby blue period – and the lack of sleep in the early days doesn’t help with tempers which is why being supportive and there for each other is vitally important in my opinion.

3.  Talk to your Baby

This might sound completely crazy, after all it’s a new-born baby, but read to your baby, talk to it, sing to it, make silly noises – it all helps with the bonding process. I started reading stories to SC the day he was born – I know he didn’t understand the stories (it was one of my favourite childhood books “The Tales of Blackberry Farm”) – but its the sound of your voice and the closeness that reading together creates. Even now, at the grand old age of 6 he will climb onto my lap with a book (we have progressed to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn) and snuggle into my arms whilst I read, and he still has a story before he goes to bed. The other thing I used to do was have him facing me in his buggy, and talk to him whilst going round the shops about what I needed to buy – I swear everyone in the supermarket thought I was completely nuts, but all interaction is good interaction! And I used to sing to him, anytime! I would pop him lying¬†on his back on my legs and sing¬†nursery rhymes to him and then I would pop on my musical CDs and belt out showtunes…no wonder he has a penchant for them now (and ABBA and rock music!)

2.  Cuddles

Everyone loves cuddles and there’s no need to wait for an excuse to cuddle your baby! Cuddles are fab! Cuddles are part of the bonding process. I think I spent the first 2 years cuddling SC. Literally! If we weren’t playing, he would be in my arms whilst I was doing chores. He fell asleep being cuddled. And now, we have a morning cuddle routine where I sit on the floor and he rushes from one end of the room to me and jumps onto my lap and we give each other the biggest cuddles ever, and a night-time cuddle routine, and then after-school cuddles and¬†plain old ‘jus cos’ cuddles. Children will grow out of cuddling parents all to soon so you need to get¬†a lifetimes worth into a short space!

1.  Trust Your Instincts

My top tip is to trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone. Everyone will be all too happy to give their own opinion and advice. You will read far too many text books. But trust me, no two babies are the same. Use advice, opinions and parenting books as a guideline only. Trust yourself. New parents feel under so much pressure to get things right, they feel a failure if their baby doesn’t sleep through the night within 8 weeks (it can take longer believe me! My empathy kicks in at a year, sympathy at 3, mine didn’t sleep through the night til he was 4!) You are made to feel a failure if you don’t breastfeed, if you don’t employ the ‘crying technique’, if you wean too soon, or too late, or you don’t take them to every single toddler group under the sun! Every child is different and you are the best judge of what is right for your child. Trust your instincts, they won’t fail you!

 

I lay no claim to be an expert. I am not a perfect mum. I make mistakes – I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But I do the best job I can. I love SC more than anything and can’t imagine life without him now.

It is a hard job, the hardest job you will ever do voluntarily! You will get stressed, anxious, cross, vexated, tired, emotionally spent, I could go one, but ultimately it is the one thing that will give you the most joy and happiness in the world!

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How to Cope with Life the “Quirky Way”

Re-published Blog post from 2013

“This was an article I read in the paper last week.

We all have days when we think “why did I bother getting up”, or “my life is sooo boring”, or we are just plain exhausted, or our job is getting us down and we feel anxious, stressed and depressed.

Research by Direct Line, the insurance company revealed that we all try to cram so much into a day, that approximately 25% of us end up feeling too tired to enjoy the fun things in life.

So, a Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor in human behaviour at the University of Central London came up with the following suggestions to bring a little boost to our energy levels:

  • Listen to a minute and a half of loud rock music pre day at around 11:30 am.
    • Apparently it’s an ideal way to keep you going until lunch – and I thought that¬†was, according to the adverts, a bowl of Kellogg’s¬†Frosties (or indeed any other breakfast cereal). At the moment we alternate between School Disco¬†in my car CD player¬†(SC is particularly fond of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”, or Meatloaf’s “Dead Ringer for Love”) and Now that’s what I call 30 years of Music (favourite tracks The Proclaimers “500 miles” or Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell!”) – will try blasting them out tomorrow morning at 11:30!
  • Allow time for a power nap during the day.
    • Personally, I’ve never been a power napper. Closing my eyes during the day makes me feel worse, sick and then I can’t sleep at night – so I’ll be giving this one a miss I think.
  • Jog to meetings and lunch to boost endorphins.
    • Endorphins, as everyone knows are what make you happy – it would certainly make me smile to watch everyone in an office jogging along the corridor to their next meeting, or indeed jogging along the busy streets of London (and yes, I know not everyone works there) in their power suits off to the local supermarket!
  • Write in different colours and styles.
    • Ooo, I can see a surge in sales of those pens with 4 different inks in them. You know the ones, with one click you can go from blue to black to red to green. Many a happy hour was idled away at school changing colours. Even at university I used to write in different coloured ink. Assignments were sent in red, turquoise and I think even lavender at one point! And as for style, mine changes like the weather and depending on my mood ranging from very neat and tidy to doctor scrawl which needs several different interpreters to decipher what I actually wrote!
  • Indulge in social media for 5 minutes at a time!
    • Seriously? 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work, 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work ….
  • Start a hobby that improves self-esteem – to make the things that ‘have to be done, like going to work, feel easier.’
    • Surely anything that you enjoy will improve your self-esteem¬†whether that is pounding away on the running machine and the weights at the gym to something more creative like writing, art or music. After all, if we indulge in what we love and enjoy then we release more happy hormones, don’t we? And surely, self-esteem starts with feeling happy?
  • Doodle (not write) to-do lists first thing in the morning.
    • I used to be so organised before I had SC, and I was working. Now I just used post-it notes, which get stuck everywhere, or write lists in various notebooks!
  • Sleep on the wrong side of the bed.
    • Seriously, do people have a wrong and right side? As long as the mattress is firm and I have enough room to stretch my long legs out, without them ending up dangling off the end of the bed I do not care one iota which ‘side’ I sleep on. I know I’m anal about most things, but which side of the bed I sleep on is not one of them!
  • Eat a piece of fruit at 3pm to combat the afternoon ‘slump’.
    • A natural burst of sugar to keep you going until the end of the working day. I used to do that at work when I was pregnant, because around 2/3 o’clock was when my blood sugar plummeted and I started feeling nauseous. Orange juice kicked up the blood pressure, didn’t quite get rid of the mid-afternoon sickness though!
  • Set New Year’s resolutions in July.
    • I get the whole it’s the start of a new year, new beginnings, etc. Time to make a fresh start. But I don’t see why we have to wait an entire year before starting, or finishing, something we want to do – like going on that diet, finding a new job, etc.
  • Tube surf – change your usual route to work.
    • When I first read this I had images of commuters standing on the tube platform in the morning with surf boards under their arms and strains of The Beach Boys “Wipe Out”, playing over the intercom system. I always used to tube surf. It’s sometimes a necessity when the tube line you need is severely disrupted, and you end up with varying ways to get to the office. Even when I drove to work I would sometimes just drive a different way in. Plan B is always essential on the commute, you never know what hold ups with occur.
  • Get a personal mantra.
    • I’m all for mantras. The more positive and focussed the better.
  • Let imagination and creativity run wild by reading a favourite childhood book.
    • Einstein said “logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere,” and also “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world!” As adults we lose our childhood imagination to see the world as a vast adventure, and it does become a hum-drum existence of working to live instead of living to work. Where does our imagination go? Why does it get stifled?

I’m all for quirky ūüėČ

I never do things by the book.

If you’re feeling a tad stifled in your existence, try some of the above. What’s the worst that can happen?

As for favourite childhood books, I’m such a bookie it’s a hard decision. My top 5 would probably be “A Dream of Sadlers Wells”, “Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Women”, Family from One End Street” and “Mallory Towers” (I so wanted to go there when I was little!”)”

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Banks – Don’t Deserve Bad Press All The Time

…because sometimes your local high street does something fabulous.

I recently received a letter from my bank stating that my debit card would be replaced as quickly as possible, but I could still use my one until the new one arrived.

I didn’t think too much about it, because one of my cards was due for renewal.

Albeit, November, but I just thought the bank was being super efficient.

Anyway, about a week later I received a text message from the bank saying my new card would be arriving in the next day or so.

“Odd!” thought I, “they’ve never texted me before!”

But again I just assumed it was the bank putting new ‘customer service’ processes into place, and just crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.

So, new card arrives.

I look at it, and realise it is a replacement for the one that doesn’t expire until 2015!

Odd, methought again!

So, as I was passing I popped into the bank, just to query this random, seemingly urgent, replacement of a card that didn’t expire until 2015.

What transpired was that I had used my card somewhere, online or physically, which had been flagged up as a potential threat, i.e., the bank’s computer system had picked up that I had used my card somewhere where it could have been skimmed, or cloned, etc.

This flagging up, then set in motion the process to replace the card thereby hopefully reducing the threat of fraudulent activity on my card.

I was most impressed!

Thankfully, I did go through my bank statement with the lovely lady at the counter and couldn’t see any erroneous transactions.

So, although banks do get a rough ride in the press – and it is mainly the investment side of things, rather than the front-of-house staff on the high street – this time I would like to say thank you, for having such a good system in place.

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