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Step-Parenting: A Letter To Her Mother

 

To the mother of my partner’s daughter,

I wish we had a better relationship.
I wish we were able to work together for the good of your daughter.
I wish that discussing any issues and concerns with you wouldn’t be seen as a direct betrayal of my partner.
Were he to grant his permission for me to do this, I wish you would listen and acknowledge my concerns- you won’t.

I wish I didn’t have to put the below into a letter and hope you may chance upon it and read these words. I know you won’t.

I wish you paid attention to her daily routine.
I wish you realised that at 12.5 years old, washing your face and brushing your teeth should by now be routine.
I wish you were proactive enough to ensure she does this every day.
I wish you weren’t so oblivious that you allowed her to go 3 days at a time without doing this, resulting in hideously bad breath and a dirty, spotty face covered up with too much foundation.
I wish that being with her father and I wasn’t the only time we knew she did this.

I wish you cared about the state of her room.
I wish you were concerned about the disgusting state of her room at yours.
I wish you ensured she didn’t leave copious amounts of cups, plates and saucers lying around in her room for days on end to ferment and mould.
I wish you were worried about the large amounts of sweet and chocolate wrappers littering the floor and limit her intake of sugar.
I wish you were as worried as we are about the health of her teeth with all the confectionery she eats, especially when she isn’t brushing them.

I wish you would impose a bedtime routine.
It is nice that you afford her a certain level of autonomy concerning her bedtime routine (brushing of teeth and washing of face not withstanding) however I wish you wouldn’t allow her the freedom to stay up past 1.00 am every night watching YouTube videos after she has sneaked her phone up to bed, especially on a school night.
I wish you understood that it is neglectful when it gets to the point that she falls asleep in the car when we come to pick her up after school.
I wish your lack of parenting didn’t affect her to the point where it impacts on our time with her.

I wish you would be assertive and ensure she actually sleeps when she goes to bed.
I wish you cared enough about her and how you come across as a mother to give us more than a half arsed “well… she has had a few late nights” and casting a casual ‘haven’t you?‘ glance at her.

I wish you would put a stop to her having her phone at night.
I wish you cared enough to put a stop to her sneaking her phone up to her room.
I wish your lack of authority hadn’t encouraged her to twice attempt to sneak her phone upstairs after we sent her to bed- she knows that with us, her phone is to stay downstairs on charge once she goes to bed.
I wish I hadn’t had to worry about catching her in the act of sneaking it the first night.
I wish we hadn’t realised at 12:45 am on the next night- also a school night- that she had snuck downstairs and sneaked it up. She was still watching her YouTube channels when we went to retrieve it at this ungodly hour.
I wish it hadn’t encouraged her to lie about knowing where her phone was a few nights later resulting in us searching for it for half an hour (to no avail) before seeing her on Whatsapp an hour after she should have been asleep.
I wish you had raised her to understand that there are consequences for breaking rules.
I wish you would implement them like a parent should.

I wish her poor absence record wasn’t down to your lack of stoicism.
I wish you weren’t so lax about allowing her so much time off school for stupid reasons.
I wish that 1 time when she had Tonsillitis wasn’t the only real occasion she has had for not going to school.
I wish you and her father would take me seriously when I tell you that each time outside of that illness, she has admitted that her ‘headache’ and ‘leg pain’ wasn’t bad enough that she couldn’t go to school.
I wish you understood that she plays you to get time off because she knows you will let her.
I wish you would realise that in the 2 and a half years since I’ve been around, she has not once tried to get a day off school.
Not. Once.

I wish you saw the patterns of avoiding that German test on the Thursday, Friday and Monday, despite being with us over the weekend and being perfectly fine.
I wish you noticed how many last days of school before holidays she has pulled a sickie on.

I wish you realised that you are raising her to think that absence records don’t matter.
I wish you realised that you are raising her to be weak and give up too easily.

I also really wish you knew that as an asthmatic, you should not, ever, be giving her Ibupofen as a pain killer. It makes me sick to see how quickly she asks for it if she feels slightly off.

I wish you reminded her to take her inhaler everywhere.
I wish you knew she doesn’t bother taking it with her when she goes out with her friends from yours.
I wish you knew she had a minor asthma attack in town with her friends because she ‘forgot’.

I wish you would stop being lazy, thoughtless and callous when it comes to raising your pre-teen.
I wish you could see how detrimental your lack of parenting could potentially be to her development, not to mention her health.

I just wish you would stop being you and start being a fucking parent.

 

Kind regards,

The other woman that truly loves and nurtures your daughter (when you apparently can’t be bothered)

 

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Beginners’ Bread

Today I made bread.

It was my first time and in all honesty I didn’t think it was going to work. this had nothing to do with concerns over the recipe or its instructions, it’s just me. When I try anything new, I invariably mess it up somehow.

If anything, this recipe is so incredibly easy that it’s pretty much fool proof (usually I am the one exception that tests this theory). With only 3 ingredients and a very easy step by step guide, this is the perfect recipe for first time bread makers who don’t have a bread maker or mixer.

I have to admit I did use my mixer however, this was- i’ll admit- completely unnecessary. I only used it because it’s brand new, unused and I have been looking for any excuse to finally try it out.

 

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Isn’t she beautiful? She’s a Kenwood ‘Barcelona’ kMix

With the bread, I was particularly concerned about the rising time and temperature. The instructions stated for it to be left to rise for 12 hours in an 18 degree environment. As I was baking / cooking for a good portion of yesterday it was easy to leave it in the kitchen for a good 4/5 hours during this time and afterwards as heat remained.
Once the room cooled I then moved it up to the bathroom as it is the toastiest room in the house when the heating comes on. Once we had gone to bed however and the heating goes off, the whole house cools (which was again, a worry).

Unlike my parent’s house we are not blessed with an airing cupboard (which would have been perfect) so not only did I not think it had received the relevant amount of time to rise in an ideal environment, but I doubted if the movement from one location to the next would have done it any good- in baking I have learned that consistency is the key (in texture and in method) so I did have my reservations about the inconsistencies of temperature and location during the 12 hours.

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Despite my reservations however, the bread has baked perfectly! The rustic and crunchy exterior gives way to a beautifully textured, aired and soft, chewy centre. Warmed up with butter this is delicious and I can’t wait to have it with my soup at work tomorrow.

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A rustic exterior with a soft and chewy interior- beautiful!

If you are interested in giving this a go, I used this recipe from Le Coin d Mel which is simple and easy to follow- perfect for any beginner.

 

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Anxiety: Fight the Fear [Infographic]

As you may already know, I have struggled with anxiety for just over a year now and I have so far managed to cope without the use of medication.
It is a tough trek and there are still bumps in the road every now and then, some worse than others.

On the occasions when it hits bad, I do struggle to maintain my usual routines, especially socially. I start feeling claustrophobic and trapped by all my anxieties, responsibilities and by the people around me demanding of my time and attention. Eventually I invariably have to take time away from people to concentrate on getting back on track.

I have recently just dragged myself out of a bad experience with my anxiety and this is what has prompted me to write this post.
Mental health is equally as important as physical and emotional health and with everything so intrinsically linked I feel it is important to address this and attempt to help others out there looking for the same guidance I was.

It has taken me a long time and a lot of research and reflection to figure out just what anxiety is; to pin point where my anxieties come from; what sparks them and what I can do to try to overcome them.

When it comes to overcoming my ‘blips’ with the anxiety, time and again it involves allowing myself the time to go through the necessary stages before taking control and picking myself up again.

Anyone struggling with any form of mental illness will understand that everyone has their own ways of dealing with their issues and there no miracle cure or sure-fire process to follow as everyone is different and what works for one will not work for another. With this in mind, there are steps I found that have really helped with managing my own recovery and I thought I would share them in the hope that they can help others struggling similarly.

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I hope this proves useful in some way to anyone who is struggling with similar issues.


I would like to add that I am not an expert, merely someone who struggles with anxiety and this is simply what I have found helps me with my process.


 

 

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Biscuits to make with a Little Chef: Easy Peasey Lemon Biscuits


Fluffy, crumbly and flavourful lemon biscuits. So quick and simple to make, there really is no reason not to give them a go!


So this week I decided to bake some lemon cookies with our pre-teen.

Little Miss E loves lemon flavoured things so this was an easy, obvious choice. It was also the perfect way to spend an hour.

After looking on Pinterest (the ultimate ‘go- to’ place for fantastic baking ideas) and the internet, I finally found a recipe that was designed for us brits (measurements being in ounces/ grams and not cups- Note to self, buy some Cups!) on the Good Food Channel page.

These biscuits really are incredibly simple to make and came out looking (and tasting!) delicious.

I would definitely recommend these to anyone with a small amount of time (and ingredients) that are looking for fantastic results for very little effort.

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21 Things You Should Know About Essential Oils

The below list is taken from Crunchy Betty and I found this very helpful, informative and easy to understand. It offers useful advise and guidance on how to use Essential Oils and how not to use them.

  1. Essential oils are not really oils.
    They do not contain the fatty acids that constitute what we would consider an actual oil. Valerie Gennari Cooksley, author of Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate and Heal defines essential oils as “highly concentrated plant constituents possessing potent medicinal and cosmetic qualities.” However, I think Stephanie Tourles nailed it in Organic Body Care recipes when she said, “I consider essential oils the life forceor the soul of the plant.”
  2. Most essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
    This makes them an excellent addition to your homemade cleaning preparations. Oils that are best for cleaning are: Lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary.
  3. Essential oils are miniscule in molecular size
    This means they are absorbed well by the skin – making them perfect ingredients in personal care items intended to heal, soften, and nourish. However, they do not accumulate in the body over time – they simply offer up their healing properties and then pass on through.
  4. Scientific studies have shown that rosemary essential oil helps your brain perform.
    Specifically, smelling rosemary essential oil helps memory recall and performance on tests. Interestingly, this study also showed that groups that inhaled either rosemary or lavender essential oil felt much more relaxed than those who inhaled no odour at all.
  5. Fragrance oils and essential oils are NOT the same thing.
    As a rule of thumb, if you see the word “fragrance” or “fragrance oil” or even “perfume” on anything, you can assume this is synthetic and NOT natural. (Even if it says natural fragrance.)
  6. Essential oils are wholly natural and cannot be patented
    You will never see an essential oil in a pharmaceutical drug. As such, you can expect that the vast majority of mainstream healthcare practitioners will never recommend essential oils as therapeutic alternatives to drugs. More importantly, because essential oils cannot be patented, drug companies will not waste money studying them. This limits our scientific knowledge of essential oils GREATLY, and the majority of what we know about them are things that have been passed down through thousands of years of personal use and experimentation.
  7. Enormous amounts of plants are needed to produce essential oil.
    In fact, on the extreme end, it takes 4000 pounds of Bulgarian roses to produce 1 pound of essential oil. Other plants like lavender only take 100 pounds of plant material to produce a pound of essential oil. Still, can you imagine how concentrated essential oils must be, in light of how many plants are used to produce them?
  8. Most essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin. Instead, they should be combined with “real” oils (called carrier oils), waxes, butters, alcohols, or other diluting measures. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute, you may end up with an unfortunate reaction (and unhappy skin).
  9. There are a few essential oils that are generally recognised as safe to use undiluted.
    Of course, there has to be a few exceptions to the rule. Again, in Organic Body Care Recipes, the author points out that the only essential oils that are widely acknowledged as safe to use undiluted (sparingly) are: lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose geranium.
  10. Never use an undiluted essential oil on a baby or child.
    Children have much thinner, more delicate skin than adults have, and tend to be very sensitive to the potency of essential oils. In fact, even if you do use essential oil in a recipe for children, only use 
    half of the essential oil recommended in the recipe. That’s all they’ll need, anyway. (Here is a list of 19 essential oils that are safe for babies and children.)
  11. Avoid the following essential oils while pregnant or nursing (and skip EOs completely in your first trimester):
    Aniseed, cedarwood, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, ginger, jasmine, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage (this is only a partial list of some of the more common essential oils – view the full one here).
  12. To test if you’re sensitive to an essential oil (which is probably best to do before using it in a skincare preparation):
    Combine one drop of essential oil with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (like olive, jojoba, or sweet almond). Rub this on the inside, upper portion of your arm and wait a few hours. If no redness or itching develops, you’re most likely not sensitive to that essential oil.
  13. Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children – and avoid contact with your eyes.
    This is just standard safety precautions, but must be mentioned.
  14. Do not take essential oils internally, especially oils like wintergreen and eucalyptus.
    While some essential oils may be used well-diluted in something like toothpaste with safety, it’s generally recognized that there’s no need to take essential oils internally. In fact, there are several toxic essential oils that should be avoided even through skin contact. Luckily, these are NOT common essential oils, and most of them you’ll never find in the store.
  15. Not all essential oils are created equally, nor does more expensive necessarily mean “better.”
    There are certain brands I will use in a less therapeutic fashion (like for cleaning), because they’re far less expensive than their counterparts. When you see a wide fluctuation in price between, say, lavender essential oils, you can bet that the far less expensive one is likely lower in quality. 
    However, a small variation in price differences on the higher end will NOT mean a better essential oil. It will just mean a higher price. (A little birdie also told me that there are also only a handful of essential oil distilleries in the world, which means that most essential oils come from the exact same places – thus there is little difference in quality between the more “typically priced” EOs.) What I’m saying here is: Understand that you DO have to pay for quality, but that if you’re just using essential oils in non-therapeutic fashions, it’s okay to use less expensive oils (like the Beeyoutiful ones pictured at the top of this post, or NOW brand essential oils). But if you want high quality, I suggest using Mountain Rose Herbs or another ethical supplier that offers organic essential oils (grown without pesticides or toxic fertilisers).
  16. Test your essential oil to see how “pure” it is
    Put a single drop of it on a piece of construction paper. If it evaporates quickly and leaves no noticeable ring, it is pure. If you have a ring left, then it is likely diluted by the manufacturer with an oil of some sort (this test will not work for myrrh, patchouli, and absolutes).
  17. Essential oils will last for at least 5 years (if not 10), so one bottle could literally last you a decade.
    Hopefully that thought will help mitigate the cost involved in purchasing some essential oils. Because they are SO concentrated and only a tiny amount is needed in anything you do, they’ll last you a very, very long time. The only exception to this rule is citrus oils, which will see a reduction in potency after a year or two.
  18. Store your essential oils in dark glass bottles (which they were probably packaged in) and out of direct sunlight.
    This is simply to help preserve their potency.
  19. Remember that what you’re allergic to in food, you will be allergic to in essential oils.
    So if, for some reason, you can’t eat sage without breaking out in a rash, steer clear of sage essential oil (or any product containing it).
  20. Use Essential Oils to Help Your Mood.
    Lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, chamomile, lemon, ylang-ylang all help produce happy, joyous moods. Clary sage helps with PMS (although there have been reports that overuse of clary sage can lead to intoxication). Rosemary increases focus and concentration. Don’t forget the mood benefits of essential oils. Here’s an 
    information packed aromatherapy reference chart to refer to.
  21. The recommended usage of many essential oils is hotly contested throughout the aromatherapy profession.
    The majority of oils you find in the supermarket are absolutely safe (though you should research them before using them); however, once you start digging into the world of essential oils, you’ll find that professionals – even within the same organization – debate extensively over the use of certain oils. If you’re ever unsure about an oil or its use, do the research you can, and if you still cannot make up your mind as to its safety – avoid it. But, by all means, do NOT be afraid of essential oils. Just use them with care and respect, and all will be fine.

If you found the above helpful and wish to know more, I would strongly recommend visiting Crunchy Betty to learn more about Essential Oils.

 

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Anxiety: Tempering the Irrational Fear [Infographic]

Like many people now-a-days I struggle with depression and anxiety.  I have always been determined to avoid taking medication to temper the effects and because of this I have had to find my own way to balance / cope with the effects without letting it impact my working and personal life.

It wasn’t until recently when I had a week off work that I realised just how integral my daily routine was for my mental well being, especially when I was feeling so low and anxious.

Initially intended as a week off to play the latest of World of Warcraft (it was the latest expansion release and I have always taken  5 days off on the latest release to play it), it ended up being a bit of a sham.

Stocking up with munchies and easy to cook oven meals, I ignored my normal sleeping routine and slept very little when I did, only allowing maybe 5 hours of sleep. I drank copious amounts of tea rather than the usual fruit juice and water, and I stared at a screen from the moment I woke until the moment I slept.

This lasted 3 days and then my anxiety kicked in and the worst part about anxiety is you know when it’s happening.
You know that the anxiety is causing you to become irrational and erratic but you just can’t stop yourself.

The below steps are what helped me get control of my anxiety issues. It isn’t by any means a quick- fix solution but it is a starting point and gives you a routine to be pro-active and busy. By continuing to make sure I did as many of these things as possible every morning I began to feel happier in myself and slowly the anxiety subsided.

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These six steps helped me sort my head and my issues out and because I was doing them for me and no one else, it allowed me to feel like I had gained a sense of self back, something I felt I had lost in amongst all the noise of the anxiety.

There are of course other things you can do to promote inner well being such as getting fresh air, smiling, drinking lots of water and eating healthily. However, with so much around these days concerning healthy living, these should already be in peoples peripheral and pretty much a no-brainer!


I would just like to point out that these steps helped me cope with my depression and anxiety issues however they are not a cure- all solution. My anxiety has peaks and troughs and will always re-emerge and then subside. There have been points where I did struggle and I did seek help. The important bit is knowing when you have reach the limits of your capabilities and when you need to seek alternative help.
If you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you need. There is no shame or weakness  in asking for help . Strength does come from within however it is the support and advice from sources around us that keeps us strong.


 

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The Reality of Owning a Bengal

I won’t lie, Bengals are a beautiful breed with their distinctive markings, eyeliner and little pink noses.
They make for some of the most entertaining, lovable and amusing pets around, and at £500 per kitty you would kind of hope so.

You would not be alone in assuming that the lifestyle of anyone owning a Bengal is a little bit majestic, luxurious and elegant, given the cost of these beautiful creatures.

You would in fact be wrong.

This is because these people own a Bengal.
If you value your home and your lifestyle, don’t buy a part feral overly curious cat. 

 

I am one of these people who own a bengal, we in fact have three, and thankfully my partner and I aren’t precious of our possessions. In truth, we love our Bengals very much. They are part of our family and we would never be without them.

There is Sushi and Pixel who are two brown rosetted sisters and Rocket, who is a snow seal spotted lynx point  male. They are each incredibly distinctive in their personalities and behaviours, and what they do and don’t like.

I would encourage anyone to have a Bengal as long as they happily accept the following:

  1. Bengals are not cheap to buy, especially if you want the lynx point (blue eyes).
  2. They are incredibly vocal. Constantly. Whether its chirruping at the birds and flies, nagging you to feed them / let them out / play or singing from the rafters at 4:00 in the morning purely because they feel like it, you will not find a quiet home where you find a Bengal- Exhibit A
  3. Bengals are very active and very curious (when they’re not sleeping). This will include trying to climb every curtain, every item of furniture, infiltrate every carrier and container and get under every mat and blanket. Your house is their playground and nothing is left alone. Exhibit B
  4. Bengals need space and adequate stimuli. It is not as simple as having a typical house cat. They need enrichment in their lives to keep them entertained. For us it includes shelves, floor to ceiling cat poles, floating boxes and hammocks, feather wands and toys, tents and cat tunnels, cat houses and ramps and scratch posts all over the house.Exhibit C
    Bengals can get very frustrated if they are bored and they will take it out on your other pets and become destructive so it is important they are provided with enough space and stimulation to keep them content. Exhibit D
  5. They require love and attention (as a cat these are obviously on their terms) but because they are more feral than most house cats, it is important they receive copious amounts of love and attention.
  6. Don’t turn your back. They are clever little things and I am always surprised at the ingenuity involved when our cats miraculously find their way up onto the roof, or into the back garden when all that’s available is a tiny window opened barely an inch.

If you can accept these then I strongly encourage you to get one because ours are a true joy and they bring any home to life.

If you are interested in seeing just what you have to contend with with a Bengal, check out our Youtube channel Hot Rocket Bengal Cats and see our 3 kitties in action.

 

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The Perks of Being a (Step)Parent

 

 

When you first meet your partners daughter, don’t give her a flat coke- That guilt will stick with you.

I’d only been seeing my partner for a month before he (unexpectedly) introduced me to his 10 year old daughter.

I don’t know how you feel about this but I know I definitely didn’t feel ready and I was worried about how she might feel and react.
My cupboards were bare at the time, I had no juice or milk to offer her, just some coke from a recently opened bottle. My place could have used a bit of a tidy and a clean and as someone who hasn’t got kids nor had much dealing with them, I was more than a little unprepared.

Thankfully I was very lucky with Erin and the meeting went much better than expected (bar the flat coke incident above of which she was too polite to tell me about until months later. I am still mortified to this day.)

Since then I have made every number of mistakes and constantly find myself wondering how I am still here and managing to avoid ruining her for life.

It’s coming up to 2 years now and I truly love her to bits. I am so proud of her and how sweet, gentle and polite she is. She still retains that innocent naivety of youth, but at the same time I am lucky enough to see her grow and evolve into the beginnings of a lovely young woman.


Sharing the milestones

Sharing in many of life’s milestones is one of the key experiences you will get as a successful step- parent.
The first one for me was when Erin allowed me the privilege of sharing in one big milestone of any girl’s life- bra shopping and buying ‘lady things’. The latter she won’t need for a few years yet (she is so slim and her development so slight that we doubt she will start anytime soon) but it makes sense to be prepared and it was important to me that she felt she had our support for the changes coming her way.

I remember the first time I went shopping for these things with my mum for example, and I was quite uncomfortable.
With Erin it’s different. She is excited for the changes to come and has embraced what development she has. Being slim and a ‘young’ 12 year old, she is almost desperate to catch up to her friends, many of whom have developed noticeably after hitting puberty.
One of my  struggles at the moment is getting her to dress appropriate for her age and development, to understand everything has its time- which is a problem as she wants to keep pace with her friends.
Personally I don’t agree with a pre-pubescent 12 year old running around flaunting her first bra- the bright orange and blue padded one- through a sheer lace crop top, so trying to get her to understand the concepts of ‘dignity’ and ‘age-appropriate’ is my current goal.

Saying this, a work colleague told me 12 is the new 15, so I fear my quest is doomed

Despite this, I am glad that she sees these changes in a positive light, I wish I had at her age because it is an exciting time and a right of passage.

Just as a side note seeing as we are talking about milestones, Erin and I said our first official ‘I love you’s’ last week and I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since.


Being the Confidante

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A year ago Erin described me as ‘like family but a friend‘ and it is by far one of my proudest moments.
She has since then confided in me about her first crush and first boyfriend- the innocent first boyfriend that you hang out with at school and put a title to- Inside I freaked out when she first told me, but as she got squeamish at the thought of what you do with tampons and begged me not to buy her any, I can safely say that sex definitely isn’t on the cards just yet. (Phew.)

Being the confidante and the person she talks to puts you in a much better position to that of the parent. You are given access to what is going on in their heads and their lives at a stage where most parents are kept in the dark. After reading a few blogs on the subject of parenting a teenager, the more they tell you the better so the longer you can maintain this level of communication the better a ‘parent’ you can be.
Finding your Place in the Familial Unit

 

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Family is the most basic unit in a society. We need to do what we can to strengthen and protect it. As a Christian, it is my prayer that God grant me the wisdom to do just that.

As a step-parent, you do have that awkward position of helping to mould them, care for them and love them but disciplining them is a grey area and I’m not sure it’s ever a place where the goal posts don’t move- I know I have long struggled with where mine lie as my partner keeps unintentionally moving them, making me uncertain of how I can impose guidelines and rules.

It has taken me a long time to realise that maybe I don’t belong in that role. Perhaps I belong on the flip side as the ‘family but a friend’ they can confide in.
Who says that as a step- parent you have to fit into the mould of the generic parent? Why not be the confidante that can coach from the sidelines, moulding and shaping through alternative avenues to the parent?
This is not to say don’t put your foot down. Sometimes you need to say ‘no’ but in situations where guidance is a solution, the step-parent is in the ideal position to do this.

If the child trusts you and respects you enough to divulge their secrets, then they will respect your opinions and listen to your guidance.

Leave the discipline and conventional parenting to the parents. The child has given you an incredible gift- an opportunity- they have provided you with an alternative more natural position in which to parent and mould them into the young adults you hope them to become.

I feel honoured and privileged that Erin sees me as a guardian figure, confidante and a friend. I love seeing her grow and the changes in how she acts and thinks. She surprises me every day with how mature she is becoming while still being so young, sweet and generous, and I look forward to being there through the milestones to come.

To me, these are the perks of being a step-parent.

 

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The House of Mary M

They always say you never really know someone until you live with them.
I would like to add an additional phrase to this if i may… ‘or next to them

We own a semi-detached house in the middle of Studentsville and I can truly say that we have never had any issues with the students like we did with Mary M.

Mary M moved in next door as a renting tenant.
Mary M was a working part time parent, full time pot smoker and drug dealer who posted lurid pictures of herself in underwear on her social media accounts and hosted raucous parties which usually ended in her screaming at her guests- most of which looked like they’d not seen sobriety (of either kind) in a very, long, time.

(I have to say, she put the students in our area to shame.)

According to mutual friends, she was also known to social services and has appeared before court for criminal damage. Promoting her brand- Good for her.

While I don’t agree with stereotypes, unfortunately for Mary M, she epitomised the stereotype of the arrogant, entitled individual.

She moved in at 1:00 am on a week day with her screaming toddler, two yappy chiawawas and an inexhaustible amount of banging and yelling. Neither my partner nor I went to work on any sleep the next morning.

In the early days of her tenancy in one conversation with my partner, she informed him that she intended to start up an adult entertainment business next door which would include (but not be limited to) sexy car washes, entertainment evenings with loud music, adult games and fire poi in her back courtyard. In my head I:

[Cut to scene: Dead of night. A clouded, foggy street, depraved, lit with a blood- red hue. A sordid brothel and drug den hidden in the shadows at one end of the road, screams and cries of exultation and the deviance while the residence cower in their homes in shame and fear.]

Ok, so this is more than an over exaggeration however I hope you can empathise with our fear at the horrors we imagined we (my partners’ 11 year old especially) were potentially about to be exposed to.

She then started having all night parties 2 / 3 times a week during the working week. Her music was turned up so loud that you could hear it verbatum 3 roads over- Fact. Needless to say we may as well have been having a party in our house the volume she had it at. Our walls are soundproofed which makes it worse.

When either my partner or the other neighbours tried to get her to turn it down, she would either ignore us or (drunkenly) yell at us, accusing us of bullying her and proclaiming herself a “fucking professional“. (We are still trying to work out if she meant literally or figuratively.)
Sad to say we wouldn’t put it past her considering some of the individuals she had turn up at her house all hours of the day and night.

So things gradually went from bad to worse and the police did naff all and just referred us to the Environmental Health Agency (EHA).
Eventually (after over 10 complaints), the EHA finally sent us  some paperwork to fill in and we had to log all instances including instances that followed in the next 2 weeks before returning the paperwork.
Apparently, 1 week after you are sent the paperwork, the EHA will send an official letter to the troublesome occupier requesting them to keep the noise down etc etc otherwise further action will be taken.
Once the EHA receive your documents, they will review the case and get back to you.

This is the route Dan and I took (Mary M’s landlady encouraged us to do so, explaining that Mary M was in breach of her tenancy agreement which stated no loud music after 11.00pm out of consideration for the neighbours) and it took us 4 months from the start to the finish of this process.

By the time we had completed the process, Mary M had been given her notice on the property and (to my frustrations) my partner decided not to take it any further for fear of her exacting her revenge on the house / our vehicles etc etc once she had moved.

Mary M has now thankfully moved out.

To our amusement,she elected for us to help her with her departure as she ditched her rubbish in our bins.
Aside from the usual rubbish, this included all the ash from the garden fires she had at her parties; two broken dildos and a big packet of used Canestan- She was a classy bird was our Mary.

It was a trying 6 months, and the effects it had on my relationship and health were shocking.

Things have settled back down and the landlady moved her son and his friends into the house. They are so quiet it’s hard to believe that it was so easy for Mary M to be so disruptive.

Thankfully Mary M is now just be a bad memory and dear god I hope she stays that way.

 

 

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The Adult Imposter

 

 

Early 30’s and I wonder where all the time has gone- anyone know if memory loss is common at 32?
Left in suspended animation for the majority of my teens through to late 20’s due to issues with chronic illnesses meant I  missed out on all the mistakes and general character building of those key years of social development. Mentally it aged me about 10 years but I was more than lacking in life experience– Looking backthis was inconvenient.

Sure, it gave me a wider perspective than most people my age, but suddenly I found I’d missed out on all the fun that I was now too old to participate in without getting some funny looks and wide berths.
All that missed experience,  exchanged only for that well mastered eye roll of someone who knows a trivial first world problem when its plastered all over their social media. 19 and already I hated viewing other peoples statuses about how they were dying from the common cold.

When you’ve actually been told that you will be dead in under 4 weeks if you don’t have this life saving surgery you gain a bit of perspective that suddenly makes you hate the shortsightedness of the people you know.

Congratulations! You are now older, wiser and boring in your young years.

It’s a great way to alienate yourself and lose friends if anyone is interested in giving it a go.
At 19, who wants to be that person?
I wish I’d had the opportunity to be an idiotic / stupid adolescent discovering the do’s and do not’s of life in that blind, directionless manner most young adults do.

After a quick desertion from my not-so-supportive-and-accepting group of friends after a major operation (the kind of ‘quick’ you get when stuck in a lift with an individual who has yet to discover that personal hygiene is actually a thing) -apparently it changed me. I’m guessing at 19 nearly dying isn’t supposed to do that to you?), I somehow managed to get through university to obtain my degree in English and Popular Culture– in truth I have no clue how, I hated the latter half of it.

Stepping in line with the world again, I still felt that I had skipped and missed out on an integral step in the right of passage to adulthood and so far it has never left me.
I feel that by missing out on that decade of my life I am somehow missing out on some key ingredient that would make me feel better prepared for this very adult life I now find myself awkwardly participating in.

Unsure of how I got here, I am a full time participant in the adult practices of daily routine; a 9 – 5 job; co-habiting with a boy (when the hell did that happen??); step parenting a truly lovely 12 year old (going on 16) girl who is sprinting towards adulthood before she’s even hit puberty and pretty much stumbling through everything else.

In the past 18 months I  have:

  • Developed Anxiety and Eczema- apparently dealing with Crohns and Cancer over the space of 14 years wasn’t enough.
  • Fallen in love with my imperfectly perfect unromantic soul mate.
  • Moved in with a man with enough OCD that his house is beautifully decorated,  adorned and tidy
  • Been prohibited from using the washing machine and dryer by my partner for fear I may break them.
  • Adopted a beautiful and sweet pre-teen and 3 Bengal cats.
  • Put on enough weight that my clothes are tighter than I’m happy with- I sincerely hope I won’t become one of those women that balloons once she gets comfortable in a relationship.
  • Become happier than I can remember ever being. (This is the important one right here!)

In the past 18 months I’ve learned:

  • How to cook a mean roast.
  • To put up with complaints of ‘horrid’ meals from the pre-teen because its not pizza or chips and has a lot of green in it.
  • How awkward it is to care about a child you’re not able to parent properly because of the limbo state of the step- parent.
  • To accept that my time is no longer my own when we have my partners daughter over.
  • Pre-teen strops are infuriating and I dread to imagine what we will have to put up with when the full force of puperty hits.
  • Dreamies and ham are a cat owners best friend when it becomes necessary to coax the daft Bengal down off the roof when he’s yowling about being stuck.
  • Cat hair will not come off anything….ever.
  • Finding time for me now I have been subsumed into this little family unit is paramount.
  • Taking the small box room in the house just for me was not only a fantastic idea to store my belongings, but also incredibly necessary when I need time for me.

 

Looking back, I’m not doing too badly with being an adult imposter, but it still doesn’t come easily and most days I feel I’m just winging it and hoping to whichever deity and their uncle that I’m at least getting the general gist of how things should be done.

Anyone else ever feel like this?

I’m just hoping one day it will all click into a place and feel like my place in the world rather than this space I feel I am fraudulently inhabiting.

 

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