Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Tyranny of Tupperware

Do you have a cupboard like this in your house?

No matter where we live and how super duper the kitchen, the plastic containers will not be contained and spew and overflow across shelves, a ramshackle pile of lids spilling out on to the kitchen floor as soon as I open the door.  It is a small gripe, perhaps, but a source of great irritation for me and badly behaved tubs would go in my Room 101. I do wish that there was an aesthetically pleasing storage system for,

It's hard to believe that at one time the Tupperware Party was the highlight of the social calendar. Your prowess as housewife supreme in the 1960s was measured by the quality of your polypropylene. We are still ever enthusiastic about plastic, though just in a different guise. You can see the obsession in all its glory with just a quick glance at the catalogue of 'home of creative kitchenware' - Lakeland. They have plastic storage in every form for every available use -  onion dome, cereal dispenser, bacon box, salad crisper, cheese preserver...there's even a special two section 'breakfast to go' container for your muesli and yogurt with a inclusive spoon in the lid!

I confess to having bought several varieties of food storage including the 'lunch cube' which was so cleverly designed that I never really got the hang of using it. It was quite tiresome filling up all the different compartments and when at lunchtime I finally remembered how to open the wretched thing it would spring open, invariably upside down, and I'd end up with hummus and carrot sticks on my lap.  The prize for the most stupid name though has to be Lock & Lock. Do you think they just gave up trying to think of something creative or inspiring or is it an in-company joke? Maybe they meant to call it 'Load n Lock' but the managing director misheard. Their containers certainly keep things airtight but once locked (twice) there's no getting it open again is there, not without ripping a nail off anyway.

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I think the continuing tyranny of tupperware is all down to collective guilt, guilt over how much food we waste.  We don't quite know what to do with an almost half full tin of baked beans or that hardly touched salad and so we hide our shame in a plastic box only for it to be thrown out several weeks later when we've run out of fridge space.  You can see I've been pondering this for some time and in doing so I have also discovered certain universal truths:

1. That no matter how many plastic containers you have, you will always have twice as many lids.  The only exception to this is round lids.  They are the first to disappear.

2. Of all the lids only three will actually fit.  This is because of a strange time-related shrinking process or possibly the dishwasher causing some sort of lid-warping mutation to take place.

3. At some stage in your life you will be guilty of tupperware theft.  This is most likely to happen at a social gathering where your better-plastic-equipped neighbour/friend brings food in a container that you covet and you accidentally on purpose forget to return it or substitute it with a mouldy old one of yours by mistake. 

4. When you are offered something really yummy that you are actually going to eat there will not be even one suitably sized container to put it in. Once yummy offering has gone dry with upturned edges, you will then miraculously find the perfect box (with correctly fitting lid).

5. That men don't really care about tupperware at all.  They are quite content to use your best container (the only one without bolognese pock marks) for storing engine parts in and then, after a quick rinse, use to reheat last night's takeaway.

Linking up this post with Sarah at Hello Wall with The Monday Club.


Friday, 28 June 2013

This moment...

Inspired by Soulemama's {this moment} - a Friday ritual. A single photo -  capturing a favourite image from the week. A treasured and special moment that I would like to pause and remember.

Afternoon sun

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Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Dyslexic Household

Have you heard the one about the dyslexic devil worshiper?
He sold his soul to Santa.
What about the dyslexic lawyer?
He studied all year for the bra exam.
And you have to have heard the one about the dyslexic, agnostic insomniac?
He lay awake all night, wondering if there was a dog!

To those of you who didn't find any of those jokes remotely funny I apologise. Not very PC of me, I know, but some days I have to find something about dyslexia to laugh about or give in to despair.  My excuse for such poor humour is that my life very much revolves around dyslexia as not only do I work in learning support, helping dyslexic pupils, but when I return home, my job continues as wife to a dyslexic husband and mum to two dyslexic daughters. We are very much a dyslexic household and I am constantly reminded of the many ways that dyslexia impacts on so many aspects of everyday life; it is not restricted to the classroom.

If you've had any experience of dyslexia then you will know that it is not a difficulty that simply involves swapping letters around, the punchline in all these jokes, but instead a complex condition affecting more than just reading and spelling - there are the concentration issues, short term memory problems, disorganisation, word finding name just a few.

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When I first met The Wonderful Man and we were dating, his dyslexia was responsible for quite a few comic misunderstandings and confusions.  I offered to stop and get some shopping for him and he gave me a list.  I spent a considerable amount of time trying to decipher his spelling of some items.  I worked most out, for example, I could see that 'seriel' was 'cereal' but there was one word that seemed entirely random. I gave up and went home to be told that it was 'quiche'. I can't remember the exact misspelling but I remember it started 'kea' !! Another time  I went to meet up with him after work in a pub called 'The Windsor Castle' and searched for some time before discovering that he was already on his second pint in 'The Walmer Castle'.

The problem with dyslexia and spelling is that very often someone with dyslexia has weak phonological skills - their brain just can't hear the subtle differences in sounds.  The sound made by a 't' and a 'd' for example can sound pretty much the same, making the process of 'sounding out' a word pretty hopeless. Add to that the problem of the same letter pattern having completely different sounds such as 'cough' and 'though' and you can imagine the problems faced by the dyslexic.

Sometimes just to make things more difficult it can be difficult to remember the visual shape of letters as well; you might know you want to write a 'd' but end up putting 'b' instead even though you know perfectly well the difference in sounds. English has lots of similar looking letters 'p', 'q' 'i' and 'j' just to name a few. The strategy of 'does it look right' isn't helpful either because a dyslexic might write many different spellings of the same word and they all look right!

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When H started nursery it was already apparent that she was probably dyslexic too. Dyslexia is on both sides of the family and so, although I'm not sure of the statistics, I knew that our genes combined would seem to double the chances. H was such a funny little thing - incredibly creative in her way of getting around her difficulties. She often confused words and names for things once offering to post a letter in the 'post lamp'!  Her poems were full of half rhymes and when she was seven, having got frustrated at trying to write a very imaginative story, she drew instead a fantastic and lengthy storyboard with captions and little speech bubbles. Her teacher was amazed at the detail and left it up on her wall for many years after H had left her classroom. S began to use the computer very early on becoming very computer literate.  Her report from school states that in Primary 4, aged 8, she could have 'very easily taught the ICT lessons herself'.

Certainly life in the dyslexic household has its frustrations and sometimes I grow weary of being home teacher and walking dictionary but I have also come to appreciate how pretty amazing the human brain is and that difficulties don't have to be difficulties at all - just differences. My family is a collective of very quirky individuals with their own strengths and gifts and sometimes my non-dyslexic self feels very ordinary in comparison.

I'm linking up with the lovely Sarah at Hello Wall with this post at The Monday Club:


Friday, 14 June 2013

That moment...

In honour of Father's Day this Sunday, and in a change to the usual This Moment - instead a That Moment . A single photo -  capturing a favourite image from the past. A treasured and special moment that I would like to rewind and remember.

July 2002

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Back again

Well, after an unintended absence of two weeks from blogland I'm back. Not that I think many would have noticed my lack of contributions but I've missed sharing and tuning in to my online circle of friends.  The last couple of weeks have been particularly manic in the Little House and each time I've tried to sit down and write, my mind (significantly smaller than most) has been too full to produce any coherent post - only the written equivalent of gibberish! Finally, feeling refreshed on this super sunny Saturday morning, I thought I would try and identify what exactly has caused so much 'to do' - so here are my Top 3 Stresses which I suspect are shared by many but probably managed a whole lot better:
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1. The Special Event
This last week has been our local primary school's centenary celebrations and like many schools they decided to turn this into a special event and a chance for some educational enrichment and so we had... 'Edwardian Week'.  A whole week, I ask you!  A whole week where S was expected to dress up as an Edwardian and take part in thrilling activities such as... finger knitting. It's the dressing up bit that caused the most stress.  S was determined to wear this hideous shiny 100% nylon dress from the dressing up box but I couldn't imagine it would be very practical and not at all Edwardian - more Bordoirean!

Quick! Wave your red petticoats!
 I did some research but whatever search terms I put into Google I was always presented with pictures of Edith Nesbit's 'The Railway Children'; it would seem that as well as risking life and limb playing on railway lines, Edwardian children wore peculiar sailor outfits and lots of smocks. I hasten to add that I possess no sewing skills whatsoever and do not live near any family members who might be called upon to help. Finally in desperation with a late night dash to Asda, I settled on a vaguely vintage-style dress.  Once paired with ribbon and S with her hair in plaits the look was not exactly right but it was getting there.

2. Missing Husband
Good listener - Dorothy
I could mean 'missing' as both an adjective and verb here.  It wasn't that I didn't know L's whereabouts - he was in deepest darkest Reading - and he was only gone a few days, but the challenge of managing house, children, animals and getting to work on time proved doubly exhausting and I take my hat off to single parents everywhere! L usually works from home and so his absence meant trying to find childcare at either end of the day and then there's the dog's bladder to worry about. Depositing youngest child before 7am at a friend's house is truly a test of friendship if ever there was one. The house was decidedly tidier and quieter without him but my motivation to cook something healthy lasted all but a day and on the second night I resorted to takeaway fish and chips.
On the third evening, already dressed for bed, I realised that I hadn't shut up the henhouse and worrying about foxes, negotiated my way across the mossy chicken poo lawn in my slippers to put them to bed.  It was still light and missing an adult to moan to I shared my woes aloud with Dorothy, our speckledy hen, which would have been fine if a late night dog walker hadn't been going past to hear me! 

3. The Embarrassing Incident
I was quite pleased to have almost got to the end of a trying week when it happened - the embarrassing incident that creeps up on you just when you least expect it. Being a teacher there are many opportunities to embarrass yourself in front of a whole class of teenagers and this week one such opportunity arose. There I was at the front enthusiastically reading 'Skellig' (great book by the way) entertaining the restless with a suitably Skelligy voice.  But I grew weary of standing and I perched on the edge of a small wooden cabinet.  The weight of my significant posterior was all too much and the top shelf gave way with explosive force.  Papers, pens, books and I slid to the floor in embarrassed heap.  There was a hushed silence and then much hilarity ensued.  It's not every day that your heavyweight teacher breaks the furniture! In the end I had to laugh too and I was pleasantly surprised by their concern, even though I know they will dine out on retelling that story for weeks - thank god we have a strict 'no mobile phones' policy or I'd be on the week's picks on youtube! Now where did I put the Weight Watchers recipe book...! 

Some might say that none of these are particularly stressful events at all and when compared to the endless stories on the news of tragedy and loss they are indeed trivial. Still, stress is relative and the only way to combat is to either change the situation or if you can't do that then change your reaction to it - humour helps, I think.  What are your top stresses and what do you do to manage them?  

S with her finger knitting (note the Edwardian colour of the wool!)