We dont live in a bubble.

Right, thats it. Im stepping into the ring. Time for a blog post outlining my views on the transgender/transactivist movement.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter @OliveOylNW will have noticed that I do get a tad political over there, and you would have also noticed I am a great big feminist.

So I read my latest copy of Just 4 Her Magazine -this magazine is aimed at the ladeez of all those military folk. In this issue there is an article titled “Gender Fluidity”.  I tried to read it with an open mind, with my milennial, liberal, scientist, psychologist hat on. And I got just a tad wound up.

Firstly, let discuss what it means to be masculine or feminine. According to the article, the authors friend, a male would go “bare faced” when he felt more masculine and “on days when he felt more feminine he would apply a flick of eyeliner”. Good for him. Couldnt care less.

I read the above, whilst sitting in my dining room with my coffee- shock horrow- BARE FACED. I had no idea this meant I was being masculine. I take umbridge with this.

I am a feminine fucking flower whether I have a full face of slap on or not.

Cheezburger Image 2148919552

Next point that pissed me off- parents that choose to dress “their girls in blue or yellow” are NOT being “gender diverse”. What a load of tosh. Same goes for the “non gender specific toys” they mention. Utter utter bollocks.

There is no such thing as gender specific toys. There is no such thing as gender specific colours. Kids can play with whatever they want because they are toys. People can wear whatever colour they want because they are colours.

Image result for girls toys boys toys

 

This is not gender diversity. It is abolishing sex based stereotypes and its a good thing.

Children have sex based differences, but they dont have inherent gender based differences. They are not born with a preference for pink or blue or hammers and prams.

Gender preferences are social constructs. That means that society is built and has evolved in such a way that means that sex stereotypes are still being perpetuated. THAT is why we see more boys playing with cars and girls playing with dolls. (Although thats a load of crap really when you think about it, as women drive cars and men become fathers).

It is SOCIETY that perpetuates gender stereotypes. Not some intrinsic internal child knowledge of what is a “girls toy” or a “boys toy”. It is the adult around them that reinforce gender roles, not the children. Us adults have a responsibility to them to teach them that all this girl stuff boy stuff is a load of crap and they can wear and play what they want because its their fucking childhood for fucks sake.

Moving on. I literally cannot bend my Master Degree level educated woman brain around the next bit of the article, apparently young people (not us oldies) are “embracing the gender diverse nature of their emotions”.

What. Just, what. I cant. I dont get it. <breathe Olive>

Do males and females have some kind of separate list or range of emotions??? I obviously didnt get the memo at birth. My bad. I also forgot to let my two daughters know that there is a prescribed emotional repetoire they must not deviate from unless they are actually boys. In which case they need to consult the Menz List.

It is utter shite like this that has lead to boys feeling unable to express their feelings and may contribute to the higher rate of suicide amongst young men. Because they cant access the feminine list of emotions. I would laugh if it wasnt so scary.

EMOTIONS ARE NOT DEFINED BY SEX OR GENDER.

Image result for male suicide rate uk 2017

Luckily, over half way through the article there is one point I do agree with. “Gender is not defined by biology”. Bravo! Good work!- It isnt!

Biological sex- by that I mean male/female- IS defined by our biology. Gender on the other hand is merely a social construct that varies dependent on culture, time and social norms.

Gender CANNNOT and does not change someones SEX.

Image result for sex not gender

The article references Mermaids UK. For those not in the know Mermaids is a transgender support charity for “gender diverse and transgender children”. Children. Children. Mermaids go into schools and talk to children, who are cognitively vulnerable compared to adults, and educate them about being transgender. And probably confuse the hell out of a lot of them.

Imagine boys who like pink- suddenly, instead of being a boy that likes pink- he may now begin to question his gender identity. Instead of questionning why society thinks that certain colours are for certain sexes. Instead of challening gender stereotypes he buys into the thought process that certain behaviours are for men and some for women. Deviate form this and you must be trangender. Not just a boy that likes pink.

Heaven forfend that a boy should like pink. Or a girl wants to play football. *Barf*.

Can’t people see that this is MASSIVELY reinforcing gender stereotypes??? Leave the kids alone with all the toys and all the colours and all the sports!!! They are children! Concerns about sexuality have NO PLACE in a childs mind.

Gah, sorry for the rant but that shit really boils my piss.

Almost there Olive. Keep going.

Lets talk about the latest buzzword being hefted on people. “Cisgender”. Being cisgender basically means a person who’s biological body matches up to their “gender identity”.

I find the term very offensive. I am NOT “cisgender”. I am a woman. If I choose to become a mechanic, grow my body hair or pee standing up (messy but do-able), I am STILL a woman. I wont be forced into some box that reinforces the idea that there are distinct male and female behaviours that are incompatible with my biological sex. 

Image result for i am not cisgender

I vehemently disagree that (as the article states) you can “pick and change what bits of each sex work for you”. You just cant. Chop off my boobs, im still a woman. Have a hysterectomy. You’re STILL a woman. Shave my head head and yes, you’ve guessed it, still a woman. Because, well, science.

You can pick and choose whether to wear pink or blue, wear makeup or not, grow body hair or not. Fine. Totes fine. You can even lop off your penis or have one made for you. Doesn’t mean you or I can change our biological make up.

Men and women can behave in ways that dont conform to gender stereotypes and thats ok. Thats how stereotypes change over time. 

Time for the stuff thats going to get me a kicking on Twitter. Yet im doing it anyway.

Transgender people can never truely experience the opposite sex experience. Nature and nurture are unable to be separated. They are undeniabley linked. This whole issue cannot be looked at in a bubble. Boys are socialised into X stereotype, girls are socialised into Y stereotype. We can work against it, and it will and does change over time (holla 1950’s anyone?). Boys who grow up to be transwomen have still grown up in a society of male privieledge, “boys” games, “big boys dont cry” etc. Girls who grow up to be transmen have not shared this male experience. Girls will have experienced everyday sexism, witnessed the wage gap, the glass ceiling, the sexual objectification of women.

All because of their biological sex. SEX MATTERS. Sexism does happen, against both sexes. Lets not stick our heads in the sand. Its a real problem and it is happening every day in tiny little ways.

Transwomen (biological males) will never fully understand things that women have gone through since birth. Being given dolls to play with, being called bossy when they are being assertive,the fear of walking home alone, behaving sexually because you’ll be called tight if you dont. Being called a slag if you do. They wont know how degrading and scary it was at the age of 13 to be whilstled and beeped at by men in a van. How you try to make the rustle of a sanitary towel as quiet a possible in the loos at school. And how it feels to have every academic and sporting achievement overshadowed by how “pretty” we may or may not look. Since infancy.

Image result for female socialisation

 

As I said, you cant look at the gender fluidity or transgender movement in a bubble. Context is key to all of this. We live in a world where the overwhelming majority of violence and sexual violence is carried out by biological males.

The proposed changes to the Gender Reform Act (GRA) mean that anyone can identify as any sex. Just on a whim. Call me cycnical but I am pretty sure this would be expoited by abusive, predatory biological males, posing as transwomen. I am NOT saying that transwomen are a threat to anyone.  Im saying that if any old perve from down the pub can tell the world hes a woman this will be exploited by some sickos. Not by actual transgender people.

If the proposed changes go through then biological males who identify as women will be able to access changing rooms, toilets, religious spaces, sporting events, domestic abuse refuges, perform body searches etc etc where there will be women (and probably children). As my mum says they will “ruin it for the rest of us”. For true trangender people and for vulnerable women, people with certain religious beliefs that require women only spaces and for children.

Transgender people are not required to have a sex change in order to identify as the opposite sex. Infact most transgender people keep their biological genitalia intact and only a small percentage have a full sex change. So thats not an indicator that can be used to sort the real transgender people from others who may seek to exploit these liberal and (on paper) progressive proposals of the GRA.

I think the GRA proposed changes will dilute the transgender voice and the voice of women. I think more discussion needs to be had before these changes come into place.

The real problem here is that gender stereotypes are not being dismantled, they are being upheld and maintained. Because they serve the patriarchy we live in. This is a huge threat to our childrens mental health and to achieving equality accross the sexes.

Image result for fight the patriarchy

Right, im off my soap box now.

Please read up on all this if its sparked any questions.

If you are concerned about an imbalance of information being delivered about gender identity in schools then transgender trend provide information for parents for children that are questionning their identity.

In addition I urge you to look at Womans Place UK they run talks about the proposed GRA changes and the impact they will have on women and childrens ability to access safe spaces. Ive been to one of their talks and it was ace- theres some hate out there from transactivists about them but they are peaceful and measured in their debate.

Also the Mumsnet Feminist Board has facts and stats about all the above and is one of the only places left on the internet where concerns about all this stuff can be discussed in relative safety. Join the discussion!

Well, time to post the blog- lets see how this goes down *ducks for cover*.

Muchos love, Olive x

 

 

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Motherhood the Military Wife Way.

Why does no one talk about the Parallel Universe of new flung parenthood?

Sure there are a zillion million websites and vlogs devoted to telling you platitudes Such as “you’re doing brilliantly” and also the bloody classic “motherhood is so hard but it’s so rewarding”.

Well I am just here to raise a small flag (as a mother of 2 and 3 year old girls) to say to hell it is!!!

As a new Mum all you can think about is four things (mostly 1 &2 to be fair)

  1. sleep. Glorious sexy wanton sleep. SLEEP.
  2. breastfeeding- my boobs! They hurt! Am I doing this right? Are they getting enough and I can’t believe stuff is coming out of them!!!!

3. Am I clean? *sniffs self*. Nope.

4. I really should eat.

5. Sleep. I really want to sleep. I would commit a crime in order to sleep right now.

And that’s basically it.

For the first few week or so as a new Mum the entire world can just do one.

All that matters in the world is you and your little one. And getting the sodding bastarding latch right.

And I think that’s okay.

In fact I think it’s more than ok.

I think it’s a essential component of human kinds survival.

I think it’s an instinct.

I think it’s a way of saying that I NEED to hold my baby right now, thanks mother in law/ helpful now-great-aunt but this is MY JOB.

And yes- I don’t know what the fuck I am doing.

And yes!!! It fucking hurts!

And yes!!! I AM GOING TO KEEP GOING

Because…

It’s my baby and my body and my mind all involved in this gig called motherhood.

My body can tolerate more than my husband or partner will ever know.

I know my mind is strong. I’m the strongest woman Popeye will ever know and I’ve got this.

I look at my baby’s face and realise failure not an option anymore because I made this.

This total and utter perfection. This smallness. This beauty.

This infinite potential.

Let me tell you mothers of small squidgins of loveliness- the haze will lift. And you won’t even know its happening.

An hours more sleep here, a shower alone during nap time there, slowly the streams of babbling get clearer, they reach out a small hand into the wide world and grasp precisely what they were aiming for.

And suddenly they are there- demanding food in receptacles that YOU TAUGHT HER TO SAY. And she can sing all the songs from Frozen.

Now suddenly she can get dressed, tell me the plot to moana and insist she has pigtails today.

And I know. I’ve done it.

I’m a mother.

The fog. It’s gone. Her clarity brings my role sharply into focus like it wasn’t when she was my infant baby.

How did this happen?! From those first crazy days of learning how to latch, how baby wipes are an essential component of civilised society and wtf a jumperoo was- I really don’t know. But I did it man.

I never ever knew what I was doing.

I was alone and scared a lot of the time. During deployments with a newborn to a six month old, and another 9 month deployment with a 2 year old and a six month old. Woah.

I did that. We did that.

I don’t know how it happened. From the moment I found out I was pregnant it’s been like a runaway train. There was excitement. Then tiredness. And goodbyes. And homecomings. Then more goodbyes then (more) tiredness. And another homecoming.

I see them grow and bloom. And now I’m back at excitement again.

What will they do next?

I pause for a moment.

And away my babies fly.

Muchos love, Olive x

The mythical shore draft

I haven’t posted in a while, and to be honest it’s because I’ve been ashamed. And embarrassed.

You see, after about seven or eight years of back to back ship drafts and a deployment every year, Popeye finally, FINALLY got the holy grail of drafts. A shore draft. For 18 months.

Land ahoy!

I was excited. I was elated. I was apprehensive. We have NEVER spent this much time in the same area. He has NEVER been able to come home for this many consecutive evenings.

It was unsettling at first. Unnerving. Having to share my space and meal plan and consider him too. It was odd to have another adult around so consistently to parent our girls. It was weird to find housework tasks done, and to be able to split chores equally and daily.

And the reason I didn’t blog about this before now is the total overwhelming all consuming guilt I have felt, and still feel, about how awesome it is.

Despite several Well Meaning People giving me sage advice like “you’ll be sick of each other in a week”, and such nuggets of wisdom as “you’ll be wishing he was back on deployment in no time” what I have actually found is that I love having Popeye home. It’s great having the love of my life, father of my children here. Physically, emotionally here.

Shocker.

With that came huge waves of guilt.

How could I possibly blog to hundreds, possibly thousands of other military partners about how great this is?!?!

Surely that would be rubbing salt in the wound that is deployment.

But. After speaking to my sister, and some of my Navy Wife BFFs I was urged to blog.

The whole purpose of this blog is to give an honest account of Navy Wife Life. And this is part of that life. To ignore it because I’m awkwardly British and don’t want to tell anyone how happy I am would be doing you guys a disservice.

Also I want to shine a light and let you know there are such a thing as shore drafts! They really exist! They do! Spread the word!

Like some mythical unicorn Popeye has a shore draft. And for a chef to get a shore draft is really quite mythical indeed.

So for a few more months at least I’m going to enjoy every second.

After all these years I think we’ve earned it. Your time will come. And when it does be proud, shout it from the rooftops, and try to ignore the little voice in your head reminding you that soon, this bubble will burst and it’ll be business as usual.

Muchos love,

Olive x

Mumming & Military Wife-ing 

I was so worried Popeye wouldn’t bond with our eldest, Sweetpea. He was deployed for 7 months and I was terrified he would miss the birth. 

Which of course he did, by about 35 minutes.

Glowing my ass off here. Back in the days of sleep.
At the time it was my worst fear come true. But after a few hours in labour I really couldn’t give a flying fuck if he was there or not as I realised only I could do this. Not him. Me. Even with my amazing sister there as support, there was only one fandango available for the 8lb 3oz of blessing to shoot through.

So Sweetpea arrived safely at home, as planned. Phew. 

Popeye turned up half an hour later which gave me just enough time to arrange myself like My Lady Mother complete with non medusa hair and clothes on. 

Look what I made! Madness.
I was petrified he wouldn’t bond with her. 

He was only home for four weeks and after that gone for another 5.5 months. 

I spent those four weeks willing them to bond, to have a magical father daughter connection etc etc. This is very tricky when exclusively breastfeeding a baby with a tongue tie and jaundice who spends 23 hours a day on you.

Not that much “quality time” could happen.

Turns out this is normal for new babies. Babies need to be on their mum. Next to them, being held, being fed, puking all over, shitting all over, sleeping on their mum. Then feeding some more for good measure.
So Popeye left me with this four week old feeding pooping machine and flew back to his ship in the Middle East. 

It was around this time I wrote this wildly optimistic blog post Olive Oyl Super Mum.

Time passed, homecoming happened! We were reunited as a family at last. 

And it was fine.

Popeye and Sweetpea bonded brilliantly. They had an immediate connection and she’s now a real daddies girl. Breastfeeding her had no negative impact on their bond, it just meant I was stuck doing bedtimes for a bit. 

And they are still so close. Even when Popeye deployed again for 9 months this time, when she was two. They really are thick as thieves and I wouldn’t want it any other way.


All my worrying was for nothing to be honest. Him being deployed did not negatively effect his relationship with his baby. 

It took him some time to get to grips with the practicalities. Like how to put babygros on them. And to always have a pocket of wipes within arms reach.

And the somber knowledge that we will never feel rested again was hard for him to get his head round but all in all I have never been so glad to be proved wrong!

Plus he owed me so many nappy changes when he came home. Kinda made it worth it in itself 😉.

When I was pregnant again with Sproglet I wasn’t so worried. 

This was because I knew

  1. Only I can give birth, so whether Popeye is there or not is kind of irrelevant when you get down to the nitty gritty.
  2. They will bond, whether that’s now or in a few months.
  3. It’s not the job that stops some men being the best dad they can be.
  4. It’s not the quantity of time you spend with your baby it’s the quality.
  5. Look on the bright side, he will have to make up for it with nappy changes and giving you naps for all the night wakings. SCORE!

In short it’s the man not the military that influence if they will be a good dad or not. 


So don’t worry mamas to be. You’ve got this.

Muchos love,

Olive x 

Phonecalls post kids

Pre motherhood phonecalls were excellent. Really top notch. Beautiful examples of clear adult communication.

I mean, we got cut off every five minutes or there would be some jarring darlek- like announcement from time to time but looking back, I can say, hand on my heart they were bloody lovely. 

Since being blessed with two delightful toddling sprogs with only an 18 month age gap I can safely say phonecalls are shite.

Now, not only do I have to compete with the signal cutting whims of Mother Nature, and the urgently announced need for WO Pugwash to hot foot it to X deck for tea and crumpets with El Captaino, I also have to compete with two screaming small people.


They are happily smacked up on CBeebies, or whatever the latest offering from the iPad is, when the phone rings. 

I spring into action, drop the latest pile of plastic tat I’m tidying, or clothes I’m about to wash, or the cloth that’s wiping rice crispies laced with fucking mastic off of the high chair and get to that phone.

The very split second I answer, the nano moment I depress the talk button with my thumb, the very instant I reach my goal- it happens. 

My two little contented angels morph into the spawn of the kraken.

They simultaneously start screaming and shouting at me, whilst making a beeline for my calves. I don’t know why they do it, I don’t know how they do it. To be honest with you I don’t really care. The point is they bloody do do it.

So that’s the beginning of the phonecall buggered then. 


The rest of it is usually a disjointed conversation, half me trying (and failing) to tell Popeye about my day. The other half is a disjointed running commentary, of what Popeye must only be able to imagine is some kind of scaled down humanitarian crisis. It goes a little bit like this:

“…yeah so I’m really hoping that I can get X done at work tomorrow. Sweetpea put that down, no now, mummy is getting cross, … otherwise it will really mess up the deadline, what is that? No, mummy will take that, it can hurt you, you will cry and need to go to the doctor. Yes the doctor will make your owies all better, but that’s not the point! …that I’ve got on Monday.

I spoke to my sister the other day, yeah she’s fine, she’s moving house and- oh shit Sproglets got a sippy cup full of squash, hang on, (cue wrestling-a-ten-month-old-over-a-cup noises) –give it to mummy, good girl, it’s ok don’t cry. Sproglet  here, look! How about this toy ooh look it’s got lights WOW!…so they haven’t set a date for completion but it should be exchanging in the next- Sweetpea give it back to your sister, no, she had it first, give it back now please. Show mummy your BEST sharing!

So how are things with you? Really? Cool. Oh hang on  Sweetpeas just come over. What’s the matter? You need a poo. Of course you do. Ok yes mummy will come with you and help. 

What’s that Popeye? You need to go? You’re tired. Of course you are. I know how hard you work. No it’s fine. NO! DO NOT TRY TO WIPE IT YOURSELF! I’ve got to go too, love you, bye *click*.

And all of a sudden I’m standing there in the bathroom staring at a toddlers poo-ey bum wondering what the hell we just spoke about.

And realising how bloody excellent pre kids phonecalls were. 

Muchos love, 

Olive

Pre deployment date night fail

So it’s getting close to the Big D.

We don’t have many nights when Popeye isn’t working the next day left, plus we have a mental two year old and a 7 month old baby who is teething and beginning to resemble Count Dracula or someone from the Volturi. 

We are exhausted but decided to push the boat out (-ha ha ha, punny) and have a date night. 


The plan was to do an early bedtime for the kids, settle down with a naice film and a takeaway, a bottle of fizz and then have some maximum effort, sexy underwear, lights dimmed but on “grown up time”. I had shaved my legs and everything.

What actually happened was a massive fail. Like colossal. 

The Early bedtime- both children decided they are junior insomniacs. One wanted to jump around singing “wind the (effing) bobbin up” at full blast. The other decided that tonight was the night she would develop super duper senses telling her the precise second I put her down she would wake up, eyes bright and alight with happiness, a small smile playing around her mouth. Over. And over. And over again. For three hours.  Three. THREE! I finally got downstairs at about 8.30pm.

The Naice film. Popeye was supposed to choose one and have it ready for when I got downstairs. He was watching Star Trek. Now I don’t have anything against Captain Kirk et al, but it’s not quite what I had in mind. I let him know.

We had a Chinese! Huzzah! As for the booze- I was too exhausted and full of Chinese to even think about having a drink. Plus I realised my super duper 50% off bottle I got from Lidl was probably that price because it was only 7.5%. Not gonna lie, I felt cheated. 

So, in summary, our Big Pre Deployment Date Night consisted of us sitting in opposite areas of the house for a few hours, me with vampire insomniac children, him with the crew of The USS Enterprise. We did have a Chinese, however this rendered us really full and fat.

In the end he put on Die Hard and I went on Mumsnet. 

Jammy fuckers

This.

Who said romance is dead?!?!

The amount of pressure we both felt under for last night to be “amazing” was ridiculous. We are first parents then a couple afterall and even though our date night idea looked pretty fab on paper in reality it’s just not going to work out like that. It just feels like I can almost hear the clock ticking down those final few days and it’s making my adrenaline run, I imagine it’s how John McClaine felt when he realised he had no shoes and had to fight Snape. 

P.s we are aiming for round two tonight, maybe if we spread the content of date night over the whole weekend we will get all the boxes ticked???

Quiche mum and the tartlettes- my first night out

Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that Tuesday 17th of May will now and forevermore be known as THE day I went OUT OUT.

Yes me the navy wife-hermit-usually knocked-up-Olive went outside. After bedtime. With eyeshadow on. 

Those of you with sprogs will totally realise the gravitas of this. I was nervous like I had a job interview. My palms were sweaty. In the end I spent half an hour deciding that all my clothes are horrible and wore something I also wear to “tots n tunes”.

Popeye describes me as a “co-op quiche mum”. Meaning that we don’t eat organic, I do not bake, and we do iPad and CBeebies. And when me and the other mums meet up for a “bring a plate” type gathering, I swing into the co-op at the end of the road, leave the kids in the car (shock horror) and dash in for a quiche and bottle of wine. This has become my signature offering at such events. 

Anyway I was at top of my Quiche Mum game on Tuesday. I had my slash neck t shirt I wear ALL the time on, I wiped the baby sick off as we left and had really pushed the boat out by digging out my good bum jeans. You know the ones. We all have a paid of good bum jeans.


We got there. I went in a taxi! I was all wide eyed and heart thumping. (This was partially because of the glass or two of wine I’d had mid wardrobe crisis). Popeye said I looked like I was going to throw up. I possibly was.

We got there! We went to a bar called Drift in Southsea. I have no idea whether it was a good bar or not.

All I know was there there wasn’t a ball pit or soft play area in sight. There were no crayons on the tables and there was no sign for the nearest changing area. Just a sign pointing to the beer garden. The beer garden for crying out loud. 

Cue harp music and cherubs flying about

There were a few points that shook me I admit, but I overcame them navy wife style:

  1. Skinny gorgeous sailorettes wearing basically no clothes. I had no idea that wearing underwear as outer wear was a thing now. Next time I’m rocking up in my nursing bra and support knickers. Pretty fly. I over came *this* by reminding myself I am fucking awesome. And I’d rather have boobs and a bum and clothes on when I’m out and so would Popeye.
  2. I did not know any music. I overcame *this* by drinking spiced rum and dancing with Popeye like a LOON. I have the rhythm in me after all #childofthe90s
  3. I have apparently become deaf since entering motherhood. It was so loud. I overcame this by laughing when people said stuff  and hoping for the best as no one was listening to each other anyway.

We danced, I drank, it was over far far too soon. I forgot how going out with sailors is more a marathon than a sprint. Or a sprinting marathon. Whatever, all I know is I had a good time even if I had a few false starts.

By this point in the evening I had shirked my Tee and revealed my basics vest from primark

I had a great time. Popeye said he hasn’t seen me like that in years, in a good way I hope. In the end all the sailors moved on and we got a taxi back to our car and got lost on the M27/A27. I do not remember this. I was apparently giving Popeye, what I can only assume, were A* directions home, that he obviously was not following. 

Well that’s all for today. Hope you guys get to go out with your sailors and meet all their co-workers. There are very few jobs where you regularly go out on the piss with people you have to see the next day. Like a weekly Christmas Party. 

Muchos love X

P.s Popeye came up with the the title for this post whilst we were out before I’d  properly met anyone. He made me promise I’d use it. I will let you figure out who the tartlettes were.

(Although annoyingly they turned out to be really lovely and fun. Of course. 😂👍🏻⚓️💗)

I’m a Finalist! 2 of 2

Now that I’ve had the weekend to think about my nomination for Best Lifestyle Blog I’m about 60-80% sure that there’s been some kind of cock up and I will soon receive an email to say “sozzles Olive old girl but actually you’re not up for Best Lifestyle Blog because, let’s face it, your life has no style.”

Seriously. I’ve had a nosey at the other blogs in my category and I’m up against some heavy hitters. They all have HUGE Twitter followings and seem v v professional and clean and cool and trendy and stuff.

Half my blogs have typos and are many are written whilst a semi naked toddler sings “let it gooooo let it goooo” at me whilst perched precariously on an IKEA  value lime green potty. The other half of my posts are written inbetween nappy changes, nose wipes and breastfeeds. I have no uber hip blogster office, no cool blogger friends to have coffee mornings with and I don’t even have my iPad to write posts on anymore because Sweetpea nicked it to fuel her Peppa Pig YouTube clip habit. 

My life has no style! 

I don’t blog about clothes or fashion because I either have no idea of what’s in fashion, or I see teenagers on the street and think they are dressing like I did back in the 90’s (black velvet ribbon chokers and trouser skirts anyone? Since when did that become cool again???)

I am generally wearing the same outfit for 2-3 days and if you ever bump into me there’s a 95% probability I will have baby puke on my left shoulder.

I don’t even brush my hair some days I just tie it up and hope for the best. 

I can’t remember the last time my feet had heels on. I can’t remember the last time I wore an underwired bra and not a nursing bra. There is no such thing as matching knickers and bra sets in my house. Heck there’s no such thing as matching socks in my house.

My life has no style. 

My blog posts don’t have nice stylish photos on them. They either are from the fruits of a 30 second Google search or are the result of a quick snap with my iPhone. I do not look good in these photos. I haven’t got the time or the talent, I wish I did.

Popeye said to me he hopes that if there’s a “Bloggers Biography” or the MAD blog Award team need to use my photo for anything that they use this one, from my post Safety and the Navy Wife – because I look fucking mental.


My life has NO STYLE!

I can’t blog about “normal life” of what I’ve done with my hubby at the weekend because I never sodding see him. 

I’m much more likely to be blogging about sniffing his dirty T-shirt or crying over his snotty tissues, drinking too much wine and eating cereal for dinner or how to kick a full packed kitbag off the bed with minimum effort, in a childish attempt to stop him deploying again than blogging about anything chic or classy. 

Argh! My life has no style! Zilch! Zip! Nada! Zero! Squat! 

Calm down Olive, just pause for a second and think.

I guess I am blogging about a way of life. 

A navy way of life, a military way of life. A way thousands of families are living day in day out, right under everyone else’s noses. 

I guess that that is the lifestyle angle. Hmm, food for thought, no?

My life may not have style per se but, thanks to the Royal Navy, my life sure does have a lot it life in it. 

I guess. 

Tots100

I just want to say a HUGE MASHOOSIVE HONKING THANKYOU to all my supporters, followers and friends for coming with me on this adventure. 

Please, if you haven’t yet just quickly throw a vote my way, and if you have time share this post or one of your other faves, it means the world to me.

You can vote for me as Best Life(without any) style Blog by clicking right here and filling out a little form.

Muchos love, Olive X 

Why I wish I was still a weekend warrior

I’ve been having a long hard think about which side of the fence has greener grass. Or which side of the bridge if we are going Billy Goats Gruff here.

For the first couple of years of our marriage I was what is known as a Weekend Warrior. A wife, girlfriend or other type of partner who only sees their sailor at weekends, not through the week. On weekdays your Popeye sleeps on the ship, and you sleep (starfish) in your bed.

  
At the time I thought it was a bit rubbish to be honest, so when I was four or five months pregnant with Sweetpea we upped sticks and moved to Southampton, away from all my family and friends, so Popeye could come home every night so I wouldn’t be essentially a single parent. I say “we” but Popeye was deployed so I had to organise the whole move alone, alarm bells should’ve been ringing!

I’m beginning to regret it.

I’m beginning to regret it now we have two babies under the age of two. Double the crying, double the nappies and usually half the parenting.

Popeye is away far far more than we thought he would be. And unlike my Weekend Warrior days I’m now not used to hacking it alone Monday to Friday. Instead some weeks he’s here to help, other weeks I have nothing. There’s no consistency and the main reason we did this, so he wouldn’t miss girls growing up, seems null and void now because he’s missing it anyway!

And I’m sinking. 

I’m in a city where I’ve got no roots, I’ve made some utterly fab amazing friends who are to be honest, keeping me going right now. They come round and help and listen to me moan and then go home to their partners flabbergasted, about how the fuck I am managing and not losing my mind. 

Except that I am sinking. 

I can’t help but feel that if I was away from here and back with family that support me I’d be able to plan my life a bit, feel a bit more in control because no matter what the bloody tin can is doing, alongside, at sea, Popeye on a course, in Portsmouth, Plymouth, wherever, my life and my routine would be the same Monday to Friday. 

I wouldn’t keep feeling like I was having the rug pulled out from under me at a day or twos notice.

I’d have regular dependable help with the Sprogs. I’m pretty much on my todd here with the girls and childcare costs are becoming a strain on us. Being back in good old Scummerset would mean I got more emotional and practical support. 

I’d love to be able to pop round and see my sister or my mum instead of doing FaceTime after bedtime. 

If I revert back to Weekend Warrior the girls could grow up in the countryside like I did, cows moos not police sirens would be the early sounds Sproglet will name, unlike her big sister who knows the difference between the police and the fire brigades sirens. She’s 21 months. 

  
But am I just seeing it all through rose tinted glasses? Was it really that good back then or was that just because I was a navy wife and not a navy wife and a mum then?!

I just feel that we moved here for Popeye and he’s not even bloody here so if I move back it would be for me and the girls. 

He’s basically deploying for a year anyway!!!!

Being a navy wife away from your family is hard. I’m constantly reevaluating my life here to see if this is the best deal for me and my girls. 

And the thing is that this changes on whether Popeye is home or not. I wish I could be in Somerset during deployment and near the ship the rest of the time!

My Little Troopers

So we have survived the first longish stint of Daddy Being Away.

It was only about a month but Im feeling bloody proud that I have managed to keep both children alive with very little outside help and snotty colds and 8 week jabs. Im also a tad relieved that I haven’t lost it and left them at a nunnery. (And no this is not just because I don’t know any Hampshire nunneries). 

 Ive had quite bad mum guilt that I didn’t try to do more wholesome “making memories” shit. I didn’t even attempt any baking and I can safely say that the iPad is partially raising my toddler. We have watched a lot of Disney.

But they are alive so I’m chalking it up as a win. 

Whilst Popeye was stuck down in Plymouth  (because his ship was buggered-giant surprise) we were able to finally try out the separation pack we had been given from Little Troopers . 

This helped with the mum guilt because I was getting so fed up of this:

Sweetpea-“where’s Daddy?”

Me-“on his boat.” 

Sweetpea-“[see] Daddy soon?”

Me- (silent sob) “no see Daddy later. Daddy gone night night on the boat.” 

Sweetpea-“bye bye Daddy” 

Me- “yes that’s right, bye bye daddy.”

Talk about heartbreaking! And, after the gazillionth time, dare I say, a little bit annoying? 

That’s when the separation pack really came into play. It actually helped Sweetpea grasp what was going on and helped me not lose my mind from having to explain it to her over and over again. 

It gave the whole downer of being separated from Popeye/Daddy an actual positive vibe and I can’t recommend it enough. 

What is it? An A4 pack of resources and ideas of things to do to help your children cope with a parent being away from home.

First I chose an area in the house to put it all up. I didn’t want to to be too prominent in the house- I didn’t want her to be reminded Popeye was gone all the time- I also chose somewhere quiet so she could go there to think about Daddy when she needed to. 

( I also wouldn’t put stuff on the wall above the dogs water bowl if your child likes water play and pulling things off of walls. 😑)

I found an OK photo of Sweetpea with Popeye and put that in the special “Hero” (a bit cheesy for me but v sweet for children) frame. This gave Sweetpea something to focus on and she could go and kiss the photo good night or we used it to talk about Daddy from time to time too. She also put it down the loo at one point but I’ve told Popeye  not to take this personally. (And photos don’t dissolve if you antibac them btw- who knew?)

 My favourite thing about the separation pack was the chuff chart. It’s supposed to be for the kids but to be honest I was using it just as much as the Sweetpea. 

The chuff chart is really practical- you can adapt it for any length of separation-you just add another calendar sheet if you need to. You can decorate or colour it in and there’s a “notes” bit if your trooper needs to jot anything important down. You can put stickers on it if you’ve been on day trips (not that we did lol) and really adapt it for your family. 

As Sweetpea is quite little we did a ten day countdown as she only knows up to number ten. By the time we got halfway through she was getting the idea. She was running up to it first thing when we came downstairs ready to cross off another “sleep”! (Not sure if this is because the pack is really good or my daughter is a child prodigy/genius. Ahem). 

  

  
There’s a little instruction leaflet that was brilliant for people like me who are permanently exhausted from single-parenting-without-the-benefits or (also like me) have the creative ability of the DVLAs phone system. 

We did one of the ideas from the leaflet- we made a Post Box for all of the art Sweetpea did whilst Popeye was away. 

 

#fathands
 
It worked really well when he got home and they opened the box and she could show him what she had made for him. 

 

an original piece by Sweetpea. Inspired by the Twirliwoos.
 
If he had been away longer we would’ve posted them out to him. I really wanted to do the “send a hug” idea too but Sweetpea would not lie down and after trying and failing to pin her down to draw round her outstretched arms with a felt tip between my teeth I admitted defeat. Maybe when she’s older or when she’s asleep. 

In general the activities and ideas are really varied and can be adapted depending on the age of your Little Trooper or what interests them. 

There is a big map too where you can put stickers of where you’ve lived, where you’ve been on holiday and where your service person is. This was great but I felt it was a bit geared towards army families and soldiers that are based in one place for a long time, so to cater to our situation I cut out a picture of a navy ship from the patterned writing paper in the pack, and moved that around the map. You could get a photo of the ship for longer deployments but doing this worked fine for us. 

  
There’s a bit in there that explains why the official flower of military children is a dandelion. Not going to give it away here but it had me in actual proper tears and I’m now thinking of getting another tattoo this time of a dandelion. 

All in all it is a really useful little kit. You can join an online community of Little Troopers and they do meet ups, camps and events, so that your children can get to know other military children. This is especially useful to families like ours that don’t live in married quarters. And they are a charity so they do lots of fun fundraising stuff too. 

If you want to find out more visit their website http://www.littletroopers.net

P.s they do a bracelet too that I have nicked from Sweetpea to remind me which boob is next for feeding Sproglet. 

#livingthedream