Thursday, 25 September 2014

Thanks for the Mammaries

A complete stranger manhandled my breasts this week.

There were even pictures taken, though I suspect they're not the sort that will be shared online by a hacker any time soon,

So, obviously, I'm having to share it myself.....




... because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month when being breast aware is definitely not about Googling images of Jennifer Lawrence in the altogether.

The Leeds and Wakefield Breast Screening Service sends invitations out every three years to women aged between 47 and 73 to attend their clinics for a mammogram (an x-ray of the breast which can detect the early signs of cancer). So few women take up these invitations that earlier this year the all-female team of radiographers held a drop in event in the local shopping centre to encourage more women to attend their appointments.

I can almost understand those women's reluctance. Having a mammogram is as intimate and uncomfortable as cervical screening but it is also just as necessary. One thousand women die from breast cancer in the UK every single month.

A mammogram can detect small changes in the breast before they can either be seen or felt, and early detection and treatment does save lives: eight out of ten women now survive breast cancer beyond ten years. 

This week I had my second mammogram and it wasn't as scary as the first mammogram I had three years ago because, of course, I'd been there and done that. I knew what to expect, I wasn't phased that a woman I'd never met before matter of factly lolloped (there is no other word for it) my breasts about, nor the deep squeeze of the screening machine. I wasn't even hurt there were no flowers afterwards, nor an invite for coffee.*

In three years time when it's time for my next check up, there's a very real danger I'll have such a blase approach, I shall be whipping off my bra on the way up in the lift. Advance apologies to anyone visiting the eye clinic that week.

I don't learn the results of the screening for a couple of weeks, ironically slap bang in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness month, but I did learn one thing. I would be absolute rubbish as a stripper or a porn star because there is something very strange about standing around topless and wearing shoes.


*Amends list of possible careers*



You can support Breast Cancer Awareness either by fund-raising for or donating to Cancer Research UKBreast Cancer Care  or the Breast Cancer Campaign. The Breast Cancer Campaign want people to raise money and awareness and Wear It Pink on Friday October 24th.





*Well, maybe just a little bit.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Lament For My Towels ...

The late, great Douglas Adams once wrote "You've got to know where your towel is."

And I do. In fact, for the past few years I have known where every towel in the house is at any given time.

Several would be reclining damply across the bathroom floor, Several more curled, like sleeping (damp) cats, across the TeenTwins' bedroom floor. Thirty six of them would have been used once and dropped in the wash basket. Or, more accurately, on top of the wash basket.

The bathroom floor was the battlefield on which towels did not come to die, but dyed brutally nevertheless. Or else they succumbed, tattered and suddenly pale, to the peroxide chemical warfare mercilessly unleashed in the quest for red hair. Or blue hair. Or green.

I tried my best. Tended the limp, picked up the lame, Washed them and dried them and then, Douglas forgive me, sent them back to the fray.

With the departure to university of the TeenTwins, with a whole pile of new, soft and fluffy towels each, obviously, I dared to entertain hopes that for the first time in years I might be able to walk across the bathroom floor unimpeded by saddened, damp towel debris underfoot.

I didn't entertain those hopes for long though.

The 13 year old is a new Teen, but is just like the old Teens. Within what seemed like minutes of the TeenTwins vacating the premises, she was strewing towels around the place with as much abandon as they ever did and more. Even the piano has suddenly been called upon to play a pivotal, if inexplicable, role as a towel rack.

But at least The Boy isn't following in his sisters' reign of towel terror. Oh no. He much prefers to gallop naked around the house after a bath eschewing the use of any towels at all.

So, that's good.

*Cries a bit*

What my towels never look like

Monday, 15 September 2014

Leaving Home ....

We took TeenTwin1 to university yesterday and it proved to be just as emotional as I thought it would be. 

When we drove away I was definitely in the running to win all the Embarrassing Mother awards to be handed out in 2014 and rapidly becoming a firm favourite in the Most Embarrassing Car Passenger awards. I didn't just weep, I bawled. As if I'd left her in the wilderness abandoned and alone, rather than in a cosy little house in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with three very nice girls, several bottles of wine, 36 toilet rolls, eight pints of milk, three kettles and a whole load of excitement, adventure and really wild times spanning in front of her.

By the time we got home I'd managed to regain control with just the odd sniff and suddenly teary eyes which I could blame on the dust, of which we have an abundance.

Or I had until TeenTwin2 wrote this on Facebook:


She's not even been gone 10 minutes and already the emptiness of her side of the room is horrible.
18 years we've shared a room, with the exception of an odd weekend here or there. And now she's not even in the same city as me.
The small benefits such as being able to play my own music without having her moan because she'd rather play hers is nothing compared to how much I miss her already.
Going from seeing her everyday to seeing her once a month if that is going to break my heart but I hope she flourishes and loves university.
If you all think it's hard going to uni and leaving behind parents and pets and friends and boyfriends, try leaving your twin.
She's someone who biologically could not be closer to me, but she's also mentally my best friend and closest person; she's my other half.
I love you. Enjoy yourself and I shall see you as soon as possible.

*Wails* 
And on Thursday we take TeenTwin2 to another university in yet another town.
*Wails again*
*Doesn't stop*

Holding on and not letting go, taking TeenTwin1 to university 


Thursday, 4 September 2014

The University Challenge ...



In a couple of week's time, life at Quirky Kook Towers is never, ever going to be quite the same again. It is, for a start, going to be ever so much quieter and quite a lot tidier because the TeenTwins are going away to university.

I know, of course, they'll be back. That every so often they'll tumble through the door laden with washing and aiming themselves straight at the fridge. But really, it just won't be the same.

The preparations for their leaving have been going on steadily since their exams in June, but only leapt into action mode when they got their (brilliant, let's not deny it) A level results and were both accepted at their first choice universities. 

Now in the final weeks and days before departure, their bedroom is awash with boxes and bags half packed. Need to do lists, things to get lists, and can't forget lists are strewn about. Posters are being removed from the walls. Soon we might even discover what colour the walls are painted.

The TeenTwins are, as to be expected, excited and anxious about the next big adventure in their lives. There's been the odd wobble or two; TeenTwin1 didn't get her first choice of university accommodation and TeenTwin2 abruptly realised she's going to miss the anciently silly family cat who is older than she is. And who, they wonder, is going to remove invading spiders? 

Otherwise, their days are filled with packing, plans, preparations and partying with their equally university-bound friends and it's only me who keeps shuffling off to have a quiet little cry in a corner.

know they're going to love university, they'll blossom and flourish and have the time of their lives. (I know I did). I suspect they might become unbearably unopinionated know-it-alls who turn up unexpectedly on the doorstep with inappropriate men (because I did that too). Or even worse, they might get involved in student politics.

Either way, I hope they discover passions and have dreams, big and bold, to aim towards like the shooting stars they've always been to me; my little bright lights, even in my dark hours. But they're not little anymore, and they're not really mine anymore. They are, very much, themselves and as one chapter closes, another opens full of excitement and adventure and really wild times. Oh, and lectures and hard work and studying and stuff. Obviously. *Coughs*

I am, I know, going to miss them like limbs suddenly gone. I will look for them and they won't be there, call for them and there'll be no answer. It will seem strange and odd and like something's wrong and, although they are ready for university, I'm not entirely sure I am.



*Panics*

Monday, 1 September 2014

Never Mind....

It's the last day of the summer term and the kids are delirious with glee and you're not far behind them. You wander home happily singing "School's Out" whilst improbably balancing 879 random pieces of crap, many of which appear to be recreations of castles of England (all of them) made out of cornflake boxes. You drop them in the recycling box as you go through the door.

Never mind, because as you contemplate the summer weeks stretching ahead without the need to find uniform, wash uniform, iron uniform and unearth last week's sports kit from beneath the cat bed, you quietly celebrate that there will be no more early morning lunch box making or frantic school runs. No more pretending last night's smudged mascara and mismatched shoes are the latest fashion trend or that you really have to make a highly important phone call when Chatty Mum hoves into view.

Revelling in the freedom from the tyranny of the school routine, you very carefully spend days collecting, washing, ironing and putting every last item of uniform away anyway.

Never mind because you can look forward to luxuriating in a daily lie in. Unfortunately the children are still running on school time and drag you out of bed complaining they're "bored" as soon as the sun is up.

Never mind because you've cunningly pre-planned a range of activities and days out to enjoy as a family. Though the family flatly refuse to have anything to do with any of them because they're "boring", but never mind, because you make them do them anyway.

They sulk. They complain vociferously and continuously. They tell you all the other things they would rather be doing instead, all of which involve staying at home, wearing pyjamas and looking at screens. They drag their feet, scuff their shoes and stare morosely ahead refusing to be engaged or entertained. They say they are "bored" for the 797th time.

Never mind because by the time you straggle home totally beleaguered by their constant moans and sulks and complaints, they'll surely be exhausted and eager for bed.... Surely.

Unfortunately they're not tired.  They're never going to be tired again. And they don't want to go to bed because it's the school holidays. It's still light outside and they're NOT TIRED, although they may well be "bored". Eventually one falls asleep halfway up the stairs having yo-yoed out of bed for the 27th time and the other spends the entire night playing with a phone under the bedcovers.

Never mind, because tomorrow is another day. Though when it arrives it is just like the previous day, but never mind, because by now you've forgotten what day it is and the children are almost feral.

Never mind, because soon the holidays will be over. You try to shop for shoes that meet all uniform requirements but aren't "Boring."* You fail.

Never mind because soon it will be the first day back at school. Although you can't find any of the uniform you carefully washed, ironed and put away at the beginning of the holidays. You do, however, find an ancient lunchbox with a partially digested yoghurt capable of  waging bacterial warfare and half a ton of undone holiday homework.

Never mind, because tomorrow is the first day back at school. Never mind that their (newly completed) Holiday Diary reveals the highlight of their summer was not cleaning their teeth AT ALL. Or that their uniform labels had their names written on with a Sharpie pen 55 seconds before leaving for the school run. Or that you forgot to buy anything to go into a lunchbox and had to make do with three dry crackers and a wilted Jaffa Cake. Or that you've got mismatched shoes and smudged eyeliner and Chatty Mum has just hoved into view.

Never mind, because they were the school holidays and you survived. Well done.
*passes gin*




*There are no such shoes. Fact.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Feeling Tyred ...



As part of the eternal quest to find something entertaining to fill the school summer holidays, you might be forgiven for thinking I have taken leave of my senses, ignored all pertinent health and safety guidelines and introduced the offspring to the local scrapyard as their new playground. 

I haven't.

Instead we went to visit the latest art installation/ exhibition at The Calder, part of The Hepworth, Wakefield. YARD 1961/2014 is the work of American artist Allan Kaprow and until August 31, The Calder is hosting the first re-invention of the iconic YARD environment in the UK. Public participation is absolutely encouraged and visitors are invited to involve themselves by climbing on, through and in piles and piles, and piles, of tyres. After having read and signed the safety guidelines of course, obviously.

The Boy and The Tween had enormous fun building a tyre igloo and a tunnel as well as climbing, clambering and generally cavorting through, on and over the tyres ...








The tyres, all of which are proper (locally sourced, though not necessarily from a scrapyard) tyres, are all are proper grubby too so if you're thinking of exploring this iconic piece of the 1961 New York art scene, I'd take a damp flannel and some old clothes.






Allan Kaprow's YARD 1961-2014 is at The Calder, Wakefield, until August 31st. Admission is free.



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