A ‘Festive’ MIL Moment!

It’s been a while since I last posted here…. bloomin’ ages in fact! I don’t really have an excuse for my lack of attention, save to say that I have been exceptionally busy being a full-time working mum to two children (soon to be three!). I’ve also been trying to be a thyroid warrior; helping to raise awareness of thyroid disease via Twitter (@butterflyjourn1) and my other blog abutterflyjournal.wordpress.com As many of you might recall I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism following the birth of my youngest daughter in October 2013. It was supposed to be post-partum and temporary, but unfortunately my body’s antibodies had other ideas and did a fantastic job of killing-off my thyroid gland completely. Being hypothyroid brings with it a whole host of unseen complications, that can make life more difficult. This is particularly so now that I am pregnant again. After a full-day at the office I have just about enough energy to cook a meal for my brood and then it’s off to bed for me! I’m exhausted like I’ve never been exhausted before. It is most definitely an inconvenience, but thankfully I have a wonderful husband who is able to pick up the slack when I’m struggling….

If I’m honest, I’ve struggled through the festive season. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas was lovely; a true family affair at my parent’s home in Scotland, and a few days where I could relax and put my feet up. The Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) I’ve been experiencing almost melted away into oblivion thanks to the support of my parents who took a really active role in helping to look after my youngest daughter, letting me get some much needed rest. New year, however, I could have seen that far enough! That’s when my mother-in-law (MIL) chose to release the narcissistic monster within… I received a solitary voice mail on Hogmanay (a Scottish term for New Years Eve) from my MIL, expressing her dissatisfaction at being unable to contact my husband or I. She indicated that she had tried ‘repeatedly’ to call us for two days, despite there being absolutely no missed calls on our land line or mobile phones. She expressed the assumption that she would see us on New Year’s Day and demanded that I call her back immediately! I didn’t… I’ve learned from experience that when my MIL is enraged it is not worth trying to hold a civil conversation with her. And so I sent her a text. It may not be the best way to communicate, but I figured that absolutely no communication at all would only make matters worse. I explained that we had long standing plans that evening to attend a party being hosted by our friends and reminded her (as it had already been previously discussed) that we planned to see my Sister and Brother-in-Law on New Year’s Day. I indicated that we would see her very soon to catch up, and I heard nothing more… from her anyway.

I’ve also learned that my MIL’s silence is very telling. When she is quiet, she is sulking; very much like a petulant child. It’s her default response to not getting her own way. But while she is sulking with me, she will play a very different game with other members of my husband’s family. Typically, this will involve calling my Husband’s Brother and Sister-in-Law, and spinning an elaborate yarn about how awful I’ve been to her (usually because we’ve said no to one of her demands). This occasion was no exception! Within half an hour of my text to my MIL I’d received a text from my SIL, asking if we’d seen my MIL over the festive period? And if not, why not? This is despite our plans – Christmas with my parents and New Year with friends and my Sister – being made clear to all of my husband’s family early on in December.

This was followed by further texts from my SIL telling me how down-in-the-dumps and depressed my MIL is; how sorry she feels for her, and that we should be looking after family in need! This alleged low-mood and depression was news to us. Not once had my MIL mentioned it to my husband or me, and she sees us most weeks. A coincidental contact from my SIL? Probably not! And the emotional stuff, well, it worked! My husband attempted to call his mother on New Year’s Eve to check that she was ok… But she refused to talk to him (yet another one of her games!) And on New Year’s Day there was yet more silence, which only served to upset my husband further, and in turn caused a great deal of ill-feeling between us.

Whether it is because I am pregnant, in physical pain with my pelvis, and feeling emotional at the mo, I’m not sure, but my MIL’s behaviour really got to me. And I mean really…. I felt STRESSED up to my eye balls! Yes there have been far worse ‘incidents’, but my usual resilience that helps me cope, just wasn’t there! I never want to feel that way again – it’s not good for my health (stress makes the symptoms of thyroid disorders worse) and its certainly not good for the baby I’m carrying!

My MIL is obviously not concerned with my wellbeing, so I have to be! Hence, I’ve decided that for the foreseeable future I am going to keep my husband’s mother at arm’s length! Her behaviour at New Year only served to reinforce that she is chronically jealous of our little functional family unit. Eight years I’ve put up with her chaotic behaviour , but no more!

Do you have a NPDMIL? Please feel free to leave your ‘MIL moments’ in the comments section – I’d love to hear from you!

Take Care x

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No Make Up Selfies for Cancer Research

Social media crazes come and go, last month we had NEKNominate, and now we have make up free selfies. Last night and throughout today my news feed has been inundated with pictures of naturally beautiful girls posting their bare-faced selfies in an attempt to raise awareness for cancer charities. To the same extent, my news feed has also been filled with people questioning the point of this whole campaign or saying that people should be donating to cancer charities, or arranging fundraising events. But are these people not missing the point? The aim of this campaign was to raise awareness of cancer charities, not money! And as women dare to bare in their selfies and others critisize them for doing so, people are talking about cancer. Of course, many people have donated to Cancer Research and other cancer charities, as well as uploading their photos, as did I! It was as simple as texting BEAT to 70099 to donate £3.

While I am delighted that people are donating to cancer charities, I am even more delighted that people are starting to talk about cancer. As Cancer Campaigns Coordinator in the city of Manchester (UK) I regularly meet people for whom the word ‘cancer’ is taboo, and where a ‘head in the sand’ attitude towards the disease is the social norm. In other words, many people, young and old, still believe that cancer will not happen to them; even when science tells us that in the UK we have a 1 in 3 chance of developing the disease. And so if anything comes from this latest ‘no make up’ selfie craze, I hope it will be that more people now have a greater awareness of cancer and the cancer charities available to offer support should the worst ever happen to them.

If raising awareness in this manner saves just one life, or takes us a baby step towards finding a cure for this dreadful disease, I’ll happily go without make up everyday!

Back to Blogging…

I cannot believe it has been sixteen months since I last posted to my blog! Where has the time gone? I almost feel guilty for not keeping up with my favourite pastime – I love writing after all – but I have a good excuse for not doing so, a reason definitely worth every second of absence from paper & ink (or my keyboard)…. Motherhood!

On 17th October 2013 I gave birth to a baby girl – Isla Sarah-Jo! And here she is:

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I am now blessed with two beautiful daughters, one who depends on me completely and the other on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and barely needing me at all (or so she thinks!!). I’m more than sure that they will keep me busy as they follow their individual paths in life, but I’m also sure they will gift me with many wonderful memories, and numerous stories to tell. So as of today I am back to blogging…

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Owl Shortbread Cookies

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It is no secret that I love Owls and so I thought I’d add a twist-twoo to a traditional Scottish shortbread recipe:

Super-easy Shortbread
Ingredients

4oz butter
2oz caster sugar
6oz plain flour

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C/ about Gas mark 5. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the flour spoon by spoon until you have a smooth paste. Turn out onto your worktop/ table (make sure it’s clean) and roll out until the dough is 1cm thick. Cut out rounds and put on baking trays. Now chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or so – it’s this that makes shortbread really melt in the mouth-ish. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until pale golden in colour. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

NB/ If you’re going to decorate the shortbread to owls, then do so before cooking. Use chocolate buttons for eyes and royal icing or half almonds for the break.

Enjoy!

Happy Leap Day!

Today is that strange phenomenon we call Leap Day! A four yearly ephemeral ghost that doesn’t exist for the remainder of the time.

In simple scientific terms it marks a leap in time when the calendar is adjusted to facilitate additional minutes caused by the Earth’s rotation. Indeed, each rotation around the Sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours to complete; hence an extra day is added to the calendar every four years when an additional 24 hours have accumulated. It’s a day of temporal tune up so to speak!

But what of those people born on this rarest of ocassion? Literature refers to them as ‘leaplings’ or ‘leapers’ – people who, in theory, enjoy 75% fewer birthdays than the rest of us! However not to be discriminatory; those people whose birthday falls on 29th February are granted special privilege, between leap years, of celebrating their nativity a day earlier (as in the USA and New Zealand) or later (as in the UK and Hong Kong), if they so choose.

A special privilege, of a more whimsical nature is that of ‘ladies privilege’ which asserts that leap years grant women the ‘privilege’ of proposing marriage to men (as opposed to the other way round). The first records of this tradition can be found in Scotland, around 1288. Tradition also states that any man who declined a proposal in a leap year must pay a fine – a kiss, a new silk dress or a pair of gloves! Given the current rate of inflation, I wonder what that would amount to in todays World?!

For me the day holds one of those truely rare moments of delightful uncertainty – a day of unlocked potential! Will I, won’t I? Should I, shouldn’t I? Of course, being a married lady, I can’t get down on bended knee and offer up a proposal to my other half … but I am considering using this day to do something daring and unlike myself!

Will you??

Hanging on in there . . .

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last posted here! I’m actually surprised I remembered the password to access my account. Time really does fly when having fun . . . or when completely and utterly immersed in my busy life as Mum, Wife & slave to two posh pussy cats and one hyperactive pup.

And all of a sudden . . . BANG! . . .  here we are – 2012! A New Year and a new opportunity to capture the beautiful, inspiring & sometimes crazy moments of daily life. And so my New Years resolution, or promise to myself, is to keep blogging! I may have fallen by the wayside in recent weeks, but I have not forgotten my passion for pen and paper. Blogging makes sense of my world, it gives me energy, revitalizes my spirits  . . . it keeps me hanging on in there!

For females only . . . most likely!

What to write about as the first post in my blog is a source of contention – in my own head! Do I regale you with tales of my childhood or of my life now, in the present?! Or do I go with something controversial, that will inspire debate and discussion?! Perhaps the latter would do more justice to my thoughts in the here and now! 

I have encountered a number of objectionable people in my thirty-three years, but yesterday I had the pleasure (or not!) of standing in the same room as possibly the most objectionable female possible! Objectionable I say because she, like me, is a mother and role model to a ten-year old girl; but “Girl Power” was evidently the very last thing on her mind!

“Now I don’t like to bitch” said the woman . .  (yeah right!) “But she’s gone fat! . . She must be at least a size twelve now”. The woman half-pointed at another woman standing close-by. I looked down at my own size twelve body in utter amazement, and said nothing! By simply moving away, I hoped it would be enough to convey my horror at this assertion. I mean I remember it happening as a teenager at school, but to hear it come from the shiny glossed-lips of a seemingly educated adult woman was beyond comprehension!

I raised the matter with my husband when I got home; and who in honest perplexity stated “But a size twelve is definitely not fat!”. His bemusement reminded me how strange the “fat” insult is. I mean is “fat” the worst thing a woman can be? Is “fat” worse than spiteful, envious, superficial, conceited and callous? Not by me; but then, you might contend, what do I know about the pressure of being skinny? Afterall I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with earning a living using my brain . . . .

Maybe all this seems trivial or like I’m making a Everest-sized mountain out of a molehill, but really it is not! It’s about what females want to be and how they feel about who they are. My daughter will have to make her way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it concerns me, because I don’t want her to be a self-obsessed, emaciated talking toothpick whose only function in the world is to be supporting the market in oversized handbags and rat-sized dogs. Instead I’d prefer she was original, interesting, optimistic, kind, opinionated and funny – a million things before “thin”. And frankly I’d prefer that she doesn’t give a gust of malodorous Bichon Frise flatulence whether the woman standing next to her has meatier elbows than she does. Let my girl be Victoria Wood, rather than Victoria Beckham. Rant over . . .