Thursday, 23 February 2012

Her Hand - My #dosomethingyummy Post Week 4

This week's prompt from Nickie at Typecast's #dosomethingyummy post was difficult for me. These blog prompts have been to raise awareness of CLIC Sargent, who help families deal with cancer in children and young people. I've been lucky never to have to face anything like many families do.  So this week, I've decided to write a poem, which is inspired by Nickie's blogs about her family and her experiences with her daughter (with some poetic license!).

Her hand grasps my finger the very first time
As she enters the world with a yell
With all her ten fingers and ten tiny toes
Our precious new daughter is well

Her hand pulls her bottle, as she guzzles down
She's growing with each passing day
Beginning to smile, to gurgle, to laugh
She is talking in her special way

Her hand holds so tight to the edge of the chair
As she struggles to get to her feet
She's taking the first of those tentative steps
And she often lands back on her seat!

Her hand grips my sleeve as we wander through clinical
Corridors we don't belong
But sensing as only a mother can do
That something was seriously wrong

Her hand lying still on the hospital bed
Surrounded by bleeping machines
So quietly laying, not making a sound
Is my girl who was once full of beans

Her hand has a needle that leads to a tube
My princess seems ever so brittle
It is so unfair, that she suffer like this
My girl who is ever so little

Her hand....

Her hand holds his hand as he places the ring
On the finger that makes her his wife
The joy in my heart at the woman she is
After all the hard times in her life

Her hand holds a hand for the very first time
And I see how my baby has grown
With all her ten fingers and ten tiny toes
She has a princess of her own.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Work Placements and Pitchforks

So we've all seen the Tesco "job vacancy" and been suitably appalled by the barefaced cheek of such a huge multi-national and not-so-loved company, rubbing it into the faces of the unemployed and those on benefits.  Like mostly everyone, I was please to see that Tesco had ceased with JSA work placements. They are a big company; as of last August, they had pre-tax profits of £1.9bn so they can afford to pay their staff.  I know someone who's been working for the last three weeks on a WP with Tesco and she's not receiving the experience she's been promised.  She's being made to fill a position which Tesco should be paying an employee to do.  This is not the thinking the government had behind the work placement idea.

Yet in the last few days, more and more companies have pulled out of the work placement scheme.  Oxfam was one of these said companies.  Are we equating Tesco with Oxfam? Is it really the same thing? As experienced social media users, we know our own strength. We know what we share, what we tweet can change opinions.  Though sometimes, we spend so much time being horrified, we fail to see the big picture.  I feel that, in our efforts to be amoral, we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater.  In my opinion, the work placements idea was a good one.  Obviously, like with most plans, it doesn't suit everyone.  It won't work for everyone and it's not ideal.  However, it can give much needed experience to people who need it and may culminate in a paid position.  As of April 2011, unemployment in 16 to 17yr olds was at 218,000.  This means that most of these teens have never worked and will find it difficult to find a job without experience.  In the last few years, the recession has caused many jobs losses and forced people to reconsider their career choices.  Work placements can give them a change to try something new, to see it if suits them.  It hasn't been much publicised, but job seekers can seek their own work placements, in fields that interest them and they will be considered.

So as our influence as social media increases, let's choose our battles wisely.  Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

What's pissed me off this week

My karma was so wonderfully restored after my last "rant" blog, that I decided to go again.  This week has been a really good week, as I'm back working at The Body Shop, a job I never really wanted to leave.  However, there were still a few "issues" that got up my nose.

  1. Employers, don't wait until your employee is leaving to tell them how much you appreciate what they do.  Maybe the reason they are leaving is because they feel undervalued?
  2. Tesco and JSA Work Placements - I don't think I need to explain this one and it's really made me fucking angry! If you need the workers, fucking pay them!
  3. Bloggers: My new years resolution was to comment on as many blogs as I read.  Don't make this a pain with Captcha.
  4. Facebookers: STOP POSTING FAKE PHOTOS OF KIDS WITH "CANCER"! It's an insult to kids who actually HAVE cancer.  If you wanna raise awareness of childhood cancer, post this instead! (Oh and Snopes is your friend).
  5. Smug Valentines - need I say more? 

How has your week been? Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

#dosomethingyummy - Getting Together (a vlog)

The week three of Nickie at Typecast's #dosomethingyummy blog prompts to raise awareness of childhood cancer with CLIC Sargent was Getting Together.  
This week is a busy week for me as I'm back at work in The Body Shop (yay!), so I decided to let the lads to the talking.
(This video is uncensored and my lads are teenagers so NSFW - seriously, my lads have filthy mouths... I don't know WHERE they get it from?!) 

In case you can't hear them, due to the manic laughing, here's a list of the questions I asked, as per Nickie's brief.

  • What is something mum always says to you?
  • What makes mum happy?
  • What makes mum sad?
  • How does your mum make you laugh?
  • What was your mum like as a child?
  • How old is your mum?
  • How tall is your mum?
  • What is her favourite thing to do?
  • What does your mum do when you're not around?
  • If your mum becomes famous, what will it be for?
  • What is your mum really good at?
  • What does your mum do for her job?
  • What's your mum's favourite food?
  • What makes you proud of your mum?
  • If your mum were a cartoon character, which one would she be?
  • What do you and your mum do together?
  • How are you and your mum the same?
  • How are you and your mum different?
  • How do you know your mum loves you?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Series Of Firsts!

I've been tagged by Adrian at This Crayon Belongs To Adrian to give my Series of Firsts. I'm not so sure this will be terribly interesting, but here goes!

Who was your first boyfriend?
His name was Alan Breen and he was my boyfriend from the age of around 6 for about two years.  What I remember most about this budding romance was that he stole a bracelet belonging to his mum to give to me for Valentines Day.  But I had to give it back. :(

First person you kissed?
He was my first proper boyfriend, sometime in my early teens, I think.  It wasn't too memorable.

First job?
Besides some babysitting, my first job was part of an exchange program I went on after tech.  I spent three months in Germany, working with Siemens Nixdorf. The area I worked in was designing fonts for word-processing systems.  I don't know if I was particularly good at it.  I worked with three men, none of which spoke English.  At the end of my contract, they brought be out for a Greek meal, which I thought was well posh!

What did you buy with your first pay packet?
As I said above, I was living in Germany when got my first job hence my first wage packet was in deutschmarks. There was a gang of 15 of us sharing a house and for most of us, it was our first time away from home.  So obviously, I spent my first pay packet on alcohol and chocolate!

First CD you remember buying
Can't remember the first CD, but my first vinyl single was Puss in Boots - Adam and the Ants.

First holiday abroad?
Being from Ireland, as children our holidays were mostly spent in the Isle of Man.  So if this isn't technically abroad, my first foreign holiday was in Paris on a school trip.  It was totally fabulous and one day I really want to take my family back there.

What age were you when you moved out of the family home?
I was 23 and pregnant when I moved out for good, though I did spend two summers in Germany living alone.

So I am passing the buck onto;
Ceri at The Liberated Womble
Jo at Bouche In The City

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Winning (or How To Get Ahead In Blog Competitions)

No, this isn't a tribute to the massive arse that is Charlie Sheen.  It is literally about winning! 
As I tweeted earlier this week, in the last year, I've won over £200 worth of prizes from blogs.  And this is without really trying.  I don't search for competitions; I only enter those of people I follow on Twitter or links tweeted by people I follow.  And I only enter competitions with prizes that I would actually like (ie. I skim over all the baby stuff comps!).
So I thought I'd write this blog as a guide to blog competitions from a competitors point of view.

Firstly, the latest thing in comps seems to be Rafflecopter.  This makes entering said competitions very streamlined and allow for more than two ways to enter.  And it does it's job well, so long as the instructions given by the blogger are clear and precise and all the links point to where they're suppose to point.  It's not without it's drawbacks though.  It's quite impersonal and the temptation not to even read the blog and skip straight to the Rafflecopter box is strong.  

All blog competitions require you to leave a comment.  We know, when entering, that what we write isn't important, but it's still nice for us to get creative.  So suggest a question, a scenario, a thought competitors should add.  It makes me read other comments and relate more to the blogpost as more than just a competition.

Tweeting about a comp is obviously the best way to get your post out there, but where possible, let tweeters compile their own tweet as it saves the identical tweet occuring several times on our TL.  Again, maybe suggest a prompt.

If you require a Twitter follow for entry to the competition, try then to interact in some way with your new followers, otherwise, once the competition is over, they will simply unfollow. (Yes, I do this all the time).

On a personal level, I hate to "like" pages on Facebook.  I already do "like" a lot of blogger pages, but that is simply because I like them.  I won't "like" a page just to enter a competition.  I will, however, "like" a post on a bloggers page as it means that it doesn't clog up my stream.

If you decide to have a competitor email subscribe to your blog to enter, I would suggest that you use a facility where they are sent each actual blogpost rather than a reminder of a posting.  I only recently subscribed to several blogs, have them sent to my phone and read them on the move.  Have yet to figure out how to comment by email, but I fear that may require a phone upgrade.  (Anyone running a comp for a new phone??!)

And finally, make sure the winner finds out that they have won.  I was recently sent an email to say I'd won which ended up in my spambox.  And if they are happy with their prize and are nice like me, they will tweet you a photo once they receive it!
 My Experience Day Prize from Lakes Single Mum's blog
My Trollied dvd from Typecast's blog

I don't know whether I know enough about blogging for this post to be informative, but I certainly know enough about winning!  And if you have a competition running, feel free to include your link in the comments box!

Friday, 10 February 2012

What family means to me - #dosomethingyummy post 2

This is my second contributory post to Nickie's prompts at Typecast.  The campaign aims to bring awareness to childhood cancer.  Pop over to Nickie's blog once your finished reading to check out the rest of the links. 

What my family means to me

I was born in Dublin, the youngest of a family of nine children.  We lived in the suburbs, quite close to the city, in a two-up, two-down.  Yup, two bedrooms for eleven people.  My dad worked hard and provided well for his huge family.  My mum stayed at home and looked after us as only an Irish Catholic mother can.  It was cramped, we didn't have much.  Although, I can only say this in hindsight.  While I was there, living it, it never seemed like anything but home. Maybe six girls to one bedroom was a lot, but it made us all so close.  Maybe there wasn't luxuries, but Mary (my mum - everyone called her Mary. Her children, grandchildren. Everyone.) baked almost daily, sweet and savoury pies, scones with jam and cream.  And you could bring a friend home for dinner, unannounced and she never batted an eyelid. 

Being the youngest, I was spoilt.  Not with "stuff", but with so many more important things.  I always had someone to turn to.  I always had someone to visit.  I was taken out for treats by my older siblings all the time.  I had my first niece when I was 6 and each year our family continued to grow.  And it never felt too big.  Never felt too loud.  Never felt too crowded.  I was always surrounded by love, by laughter, by people who cared.

Since moving away from Dublin in 2002, I've constantly missed my family.  We keep in touch how we can, but I sometimes feel out of the loop.  Babies are born, people move on and I miss it so much.  But they're always still there for me.  I'll always be a part of them, even while I'm apart from them.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

What's pissed me off this week

I have decided to start a weekly (ok, the intention is weekly, but in reality, it will be lucky if it survives this week!) post covering the things that have pissed me off in the previous seven days (in the interests of catch-up, this post will cover everything that has pissed me off in the previous gazillion days in my life).  

  1. Bullying - or to be precise, the Panorama documentary about cyber-bullying.  I know this isn't going to be a popular opinion, but it comes from someone who was bullied most of her school life and still has instances of bullying now.  Bullying in school is appalling and every school's main aim should be to eliminate it.  Kids can be horrible and their parents don't help matters.  It is everyone's responsibility to tackle bullying.  However.. (ok, this is where it gets controversial...) cyber-bullying, while just as hurtful and damaging, has a simple solution. Block and report. Silence your online presence. Avoid Formspring. These people will never stop, so just don't give them an audience.  A parent will take their child out of school because of bullying, yet they don't remove them from Facebook?  I've taught my kids not to be online victims - it's every parents responsibility to do the same.
  2. Blogging - it's always been a love/hate relationship.  I love to read them, it's sometimes a chore to write them (which defeats the purpose) but having read a couple of new-to-me bloggers this week, it amazes me that they can manage to write a blog, perched as they are on that high horse of theirs!  Blogging is fun, to me it's like a really long tweet.  I've never done PR, I can never remember what SEO stands for.  It's like a "U"-rated diary, where I can spout my verbal diarrhoea, to coin a phrase. It's not about being influential, it's not about numbers, it's not about Klout (sigh..), but about you being you being entertaining. IMHO, of course.
  3. Snow - seriously, be soft, romantic, idyllic, magically... or just fuck off, there's no inbetween.
  4. Facebook Statitus - the compulsion to air your endless moans and groans on Facebook, in an effort to draw attention and virtual hugs. Everyone deserves sympathy now and then, but sometimes it's nice to hear the good news, to hear the happy times, to hear you've just have a decent cup of tea, ffs!! (This infection is spreading online, mutating to the growing Twitter Updatitus. Get vaccinated now!)
  5. Take Me Out...ta here! - Nope, this isn't a rant about how much I hate Take Me Out, (though that is so true.. you wouldn't believe how enraged it makes me.. the archaic format, the sexist banter...grrrr...but, I digress) this is a twitter bugbear of mine.  Some people like some programmes, and so they tweet about those programmes.  Some people hate those programmes... so why, the fuck, do they tweet about those programmes? You don't like it, we get it.  That doesn't give you the right to sneer and deride people who do?  Block the hashtag, ignore the tweets or, god forbid, turn off Twitter! Just stop being so pompous!
I think that's enough.  There are obviously more than five things that pissed me off, but in an attempt to avoid being on anyone else's list, I'll quit while I'm ahead!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Missing - My #dosomethingyummy Post

I've decided to #dosomethingyummy Writing Prompt to promote awareness for CLIC Sargent's awareness campaign.  It's a first for me to take part in a link-up like this and so I decided to challenge myself by attempting a Creative post.  I'm not really impressed with it, but there has to be a first time for everything.

Pop over to Nickie at Typecast's blog to check out the rest.


It was the lack of alarm that finally woke me.  Like a newborn baby, I stretched with curling toes and arched back.  The complete bliss that comes from knowing I had nowhere to be, no-one to see.  A work-free day, a responsibility-free day, a pamper-filled day.  I rolled over and reached for my phone. No messages. I shifted, turned my pillow over to the cool side and lay back down.  Idly, I thought what I could fill this day up with.  There was that book I'd been meaning to finish, could always do with painting my nails, maybe a liquid lunch or housework if I got REALLY bored.  The possibilities... I stretched my arm out again and picked up my iPod. No tweets.  *sigh* 

Desperately needing a shot of caffeine, I dragged myself up, shuffled into my slippers and sauntered down the stairs.  As the cats weaved themselves around my ankles, I was thankfully for the attention, despite the fact that they just wanted feeding.  And so, after seeing to them and chucking the fork into the empty sink - empty and still sparkling from when I cleaned it last night - I flicked the switch on the kettle.  The fridge hummed loudly, funny how I'd never noticed it before.  Booting up the laptop, I noted how fast the broadband speed was.  Where usually the lights on the modem flickered, sending and receiving, this morning it flashed intermittently,  the luxury of a whole bandwidth to myself.  No emails. The kettle whistled as I reached for a mug; had to search for a mug that wasn't someone else's favourite.

I loaded up Spotify to break the silence as I caught up on all the news on Facebook - no status updates. As I tucked my legs under and pulled a blanket over my shoulders, I noticed how perfectly straight all cushions were, the remotes aligned with the end of the coffee table, the blinds still drawn.  

Today was only day one... how on earth was I going to cope with the lads being away on camp for a whole week??