Friday, 12 September 2014

Coffee, Wine and Chocolate

If you are a parent or carer of a child with special needs, don't forget to have a look at my parent support blog: Coffee, Wine and Chocolate (the first 3 items on my weekly shopping list!!)

My latest post seems to be of particular interest!

How To Challenge The Disapproving Onlookers

It concentrates on challenging the disapproving onlookers, which, as we all know is a big issue for us parents with children who have special needs.

So, all that said, do have a look if this blog would be of interest to you.

I generally spend more time on twitter where my established account is @katesvie and my new parent support account is @@coffeewinechoc

So come on over!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Soft Play Rules -Kid Style

Having spent what feels like more than half of my life so far in a soft play environment, (with the majority of the summer holidays being located in these areas) I felt compelled to write the rules of soft play, according to kids. I don't know about you, but it seems that whatever you tell kids', warn them or threat never to return, the following rules are what they play by!


1. It's important that as soon as you see the entrance to soft play, you run through the door as fast as possible, mimicking the speed and swerve of a Formula 1 car.

2. Forget the 'shoes off first' chat, once the adult has caught you, there's plenty of time for that.

3. Get to the furthest point possible, making sure that there are plenty of really tight gaps that said adult needs to squeeze through to attempt to get to you, this will make you a comic genius with the other kids in soft play.

4. Make sure to sit at the entrance of the slide. This will enable you to be king/queen of the castle, allowing children that you choose to pass you, when you say so. Do make sure that adult is hollering at you to play nicely. This will go down well with the tough kids.

5. When you do decide to go down the slide, make sure you slow down enough before reaching the end, this will allow you to climb up the slide, as adult will, inevitably be waiting for you at the bottom with a frowny face.

6. Be prepared for adult to reach up said slide in an attempt to grab your ankle, potentially attempting to remove your shoes. Make the most of the grip of the sole as you can, to get you up the slide.

7. If you have siblings, make sure that you all run in different directions. One preferably running out of the soft play area, causing adult to chase them, giving you a little rest for a while. 

8. Enjoy the sound of adult shouting for your sibling as they dash around the cafe/ toilets'/ offices'.

9. Make sure that adult is satisfactorily red in the face, angry and stressed before pleasantly ambling out of soft play and offering your shoes in the most angelic way.

10. Play 'nicely' while adult stands on watch, still frowning. A general loop of the soft play: smiling and being pleasant to the other kids in there is recommended at this time.

11. Once adult is comfortable with your behaviour, they will pointedly inform you of the table/chairs where they are situated and they will let you know that they will be watching you. 

12. As soon as adult is in the queue for the coffee that they have been mumbling about for the last half and hour, begin the shouting and screaming. Adult will soon appear at the door, having removed themselves from close to the front of a lengthy queue. They will be frowning. When this happens smile angelically as you build a castle of soft blocks.

13. Once the adult is seated with their goodies, about to engage in conversation with the other adults be sure to pull on the legs of other children attempting to climb up the soft play. They will inevitably become disgruntled and leave the soft play to complain to their adult.

14. After your name has been linked to the leg pulling, smile sweetly as your adult, embarrassed, comes to have a word with you about your actions.

15. Continue in the same way as child after child leaves the soft play, thus whittling down the numbers in the area.

16. Eventually you will find that all children have left the soft play apart from you and your siblings. You adult will also be alone at the table, generally shaking and holding their head in their hands.

17. Enjoy your private play in soft play while you can before adult drags you out and takes you home, muttering that you'll never go back again.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

My Ice Bucket Challenge

Yup, you read it right...

I got nominated.

So, instead of dashing off for my chequebook and pen, I decided that as I had just returned from the swimming pool, (with damp swimming pool hair) I would take the bull by the horns (or ice from the freezer) and get down to business.

More and more people were downloading their videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge and I was feeling more and more smug that I was getting away with it, until I happened to look at one of my social media feeds and saw my name, in all it's glory, stating my nomination.

So, #1 rascal was supposed to pour the bowl over my head, but it was too heavy, so I had to pour the icy deluge over myself (as my other half was filming for proof)- it's even worse when you have to do it yourself!...and you're on holiday.

Anyway, if you want a you go...

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Lotta Latte- Or Not A Lotta Latte...

Close your eyes...go it.

Now inhale the wonderful aroma through your nostrils.

The wonderful smell of coffee reaches up and grabs hold of those senses, preparing your whole body for a wonderfully dreamily, creamily caffeine kick.

You put the rim of the cup to your mouth, preparing your taste buds for a hot, velvety, thick, rich tasting glug of coffee.

..."what in the world is this rubbish?" Declared my mother in a rather disgusted tone.

She rapidly wiped her mouth with the napkin.

"I asked for a latte, not a cup of froth!"

She used the spoon to search out her liquid before working herself up into a frothy lather.

I looked into her cup.

I understood completely.

In a well known department store in our home city of Sunderland, it seems quite adequate to serve a latte with less than a half of the cup filled with coffee (black) and over half of the cup filled with froth.

No, not milk...froth.

Yet, the price of this rip off was decidedly more expensive than a (full) cup of coffee with UHT milk provided.

My mother was more than insensed.

Having thought about this, I remember experiencing something similar somewhere else....sometime.

Is a latte really a translation of 'a cup of froth with a bit of a dreg of coffee in the bottom' (but we'll charge you more for it because it's got a Mediterranean name)?

Does this happen anywhere else in the country? Or are they playing on the gentle temperaments of us up north, figuring we'll accept any rotten crap that's flung our way? Watch out...I think we've had enough now. (And we know without tasting it if you've spat in it!)

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge- When Will It Be Your Turn?

You may have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, as the trend sweeps the US, but will it break through the borders of the UK? The answer is YES!

The challenge is the brainchild of Boston College baseball player, Pete Frates, who now suffers from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) otherwise known as Motor Neurone Disease and is in aid of raising funds for the charity. The challenge is just as it says on the tin: pour a bucket of ice over your own head. Simples! Then nominate someone else to do it.

If this challenge proves too much for your dainty person, then a monetary donation (of $100/£100 to ALS) can bail you out, however, most people do the challenge and give a donation (of $10/£10) it is for charity after all.

So, initially, the challenge was accepted by Pete's Boston team mates, followed by the Red Sox team (which he was tipped to play for), however, more recently Justin Timberlake, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey took the icey buckets onto their barnets'. By all accounts, Barak Obama has also been nominated, but politely declined, offering the monetary donation instead.

Having watched some pretty extreme ice buckets from the warm comfort of my living room, I relaxed in the knowledge that I had some time before my name was thrown in the hat, as it hadn't seemed to have reached UK soil....then I noticed Darren Fletcher of Manchester United fame and Paul Scholes had stepped up to the drenching...oh-oh!

So, if you want to nominate me, I'll else...where there's no internet connection...or phone, er... Who do I make the cheque payable to?...

follow me @katesvie

Friday, 15 August 2014

What? You Don't Have A Degree?

When people realise that I don't have a University qualification, because I didn't go, they jump to conclusions. They think I'm not intelligent enough to do a degree. I see them pull their shoulders back in an 'I'm superior to you' stance. They figure that I just strolled my way through my studies, not giving a monkey's if I passed or not.

I then have to go through my explanation of why I didn't go and why I'm so happy that I didn'tgo. It has nothing to do with a lack of all.

Yesterday, I watched the news showing many, many snippets of students eagerly, nervously clutching the envelope bearing the results of their 'A'-Level results. Each student hoping upon hope that they would get the grades they need to gain access to the university of their choice- a university that would lead them down the road to their chosen career, where they would flourish and thrive as a Doctor/Lawyer/Business Tycoon.

All of the students had high, high hopes and excitement of their future.

I was one of those students once, hanging on to that envelope. But for me I was terrified to open it.

I wasn't caught in the excitement of leaving home. Leaving my family. Leaving my friends.

I didn't want to go. At all.

As a home body, I would have rather stayed at home and attended the local university. 

Why didn't I? 

Because I wanted to write. I wanted to go into copyrighting, editing, magazine writing etc. but unfortunately for me, my local university didn't offer anything that remotely covered that.

I would have to go further afield. Lancaster and York were the places I was targeted for.

As my pals excitedly ripped their envelopes open and screeched with delight "I got in! I got in!" we all jumped around and hugged and I grinned like an idiot for them. My heart plummeted. This was not me. 

I had worked so hard during my studies. I had really enjoyed the subjects I'd read. But I was simply not ready for this next step.

I could hear those kids with the mobile phones (the posh, rich ones at the time!) telling 'mummy' and 'daddy' of their marvellous intellect, how it had been a walk in the park and that now, they were going to 'uni'.


I snuck away, sticking my unopened envelope into my bag, ramming it right to the bottom and waited for the bus, hoping it would get to me before the hoards of squealers did. 

When I got home, I opened my envelope while my mam and dad were there.

I got the grades

I got into university.

I cried.

After much ahh-ing and tea and chocolate and great big sob sniffles. My mam and dad had a good old chuckle at me.

"Dear me, girl! You don't have to go! It's not compulsory! Don't be so silly!" Mam huggles me and bestowed a box of tissues on me.

When I explained that I just didn't know what I wanted, that I really wanted to go in the direction of writing, but didn't want to leave home, we all agreed that a year out would be a really good decision, then I could reassess, and see how I felt, being another year older, and inevitably wiser.

Sighing with relief, I decided to get a job and see how it went.

Ironically, I began work at the local university. I loved it and it felt great making the new students', who were away from home, feel comfortable.

As the year went by, my dad's health deteriorated. I postponed my going to university again, and maintained my job, while doing hospital visits with my mam and dad.

As the years went by, I stayed in this situation. It was fine (other than my dad's health) and I was happy (and envied by my friends') earning money.

Some friends dropped out of university, devastated that their hopes and dreams were shattered.

Some friends are still studying (and probably will be to the end of their days!)

My dad passed away. 

If I had gone to university, my course would have lasted 4 years. I would have left university and I would have only had 10 months with my dad before he died.

My decision not to go meant I had every day with my dad. I have all of those memories, which I wouldn't have had if I had gone away.

I haven't missed university at all and I'm right where I want to be in life: I write, I edit and I'm happy.

Sometimes things happen for a reason!

Friday, 18 July 2014

What To Do...When You're Wedged?

I was sitting, minding my own business in my car.

The queue we were in seemed never ending, and my rascal in the back was getting a little fidgety.

Oh no!, we weren't in gridlock, we were in a queue at the 'drive thru' of a popular fast food outlet. I won't state the variety of outlet due to legalities.

Something caught my eye in the car infront. There seemed to be a lot of activity going on. I focused and stared in through the back window, trying to make out what on earth was happening.

Then I made it out.

A rather rotund woman was trying to haul her heavy frame out of the front passenger seat. But instead of exiting through the door, she was facing towards the middle of the car.

What on earth?

I kept watching, rascal had also found the spectacle fascinating.

The woman hauled, hauled and hauled until she was turned towards the back seat, her backside pressed against the front windscreen. 

She began to thrust her body through the terribly small gap between the drivers seat and the passengers seat. However, at that point, the driver began to inch forward, and halted as the assistant wandered towards them with his ordering machine.

The woman frantically pulled and pulled on the seats trying desperately to get herself through, but, as much as she tried, she was jammed stuck.

The driver wound down the window as the order taker arrived at the car, not raising his eyes, he asked for their order.

The mutterings were indecipherable until he asked the wedged woman to clarify what she wanted.

The young assistant glanced into the car and as he mentally took in the vast legging clad backside I witnessed a variety of expressions starting with 'what the...?!' To 'Is that a backside?' Then 'what the **** is she doing?' To 'does she need help?' He stammered, flapped his hand a little debating as to if he should reach on in there. He decided against all and stepped away from the vehicle as the driver drove on round to the payment point. 

He was still staring at the back of the car with his jaw slack when it was my turn to place my order.

"Hi, can I take your order please?"

"Yes, I'd like a ticket to the viewing of how that woman is going to get out of that position" I smiled and the young lad chuckled shaking his head.

I placed the order and followed the wedged woman around to the collection point. 

The driver pulled away and I waited behind to collect my order.

So what happened in the end? 
As I left the drive thru, I caught sight of the driver, out of the car, pushing the woman with all of his might. She did eventually pop out of her jam. He opened the back passenger door and she rolled out. Standing up incredibly quickly she started on the driver (obviously her husband), shoving him while giving him a piece her mind, incredibly loudly.

Me? I had a very comfortable drive home and a tasty tea!