How I Lost a £100 Bet

In September, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

My son decided that once school started he would not eat junk food for the next three months. Laughing I said if that happens I’ll give you £100. Lured by the bait, that I know I will never have to pay 😂😂😂😂😂, he accepted the challenge.

Since that day when I inadvertently- I mean foolishly – made that bet, my son has not had a crisp, sweet, chocolate, snack, icecream, nada. For three months, he has had fruit at school lunches; even enlisted his friends to help him keep on top of it. At birthday parties, he has stuck to fruit and veg. And at home, a child who I have had to restrain from having multiple snacks a day, suddenly metamorphosed into an overnight health aficionado.

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As part of the agreement, he was allowed a day off for his birthday. Apart from that day, despite my attempts to sabotage his challenge (believe me I tried) he has resisted and kept at it. A low point came when I started to offer him get-out-of=jail cards at £20 each to eat an unhealthy snack. *SMH*

Although I had failed to reduce my impending liability, I was still confident. I thought even if he lasted a little while, there was no way he would survive Christmas without junk food. Boy was I wrong. Clearly I do not know my son very well because he sailed through the festive season like a pro.

There are so many morals to this story that I don’t know where to start. So here I am, £100 lighter, shamefaced and eating humble-pie for underestimating a child. Now we just need to channel this determination and discipline into keeping a tidy room in 2017.

This will be the last time I ever make a bet with him or any other child for that matter. I’ve been schooled!

Death Is Instructive

In light of recent obituaries in the press, this old post came to mind.

I have been to too many funerals in the last few years than I would care to experience.  They have been for family members; older friends and much younger friends; some children; colleagues and close friends; wives of church leaders and congregation members; parents of my friends, my own estranged dad – so so many than I would care to count.

I cry at weddings so it will be no surprise to discover that I weep at funerals whether I was close to the person or not. However, no matter the relationship I am always struck by two main things.

  1. Whenever tributes are read I am sometimes struck by how little I knew about the person who I was weeping over. How is it that I never knew x,y and z about this person – especially if we were in close proximity?  Like how didn’t  I know they were so caring or so giving or so wise or so funny or so weird or so interesting?  How is it that I spent so much time ‘around’ them but never know that?
  2. Regrets. If I had known that would be the last time I saw that person, I would have called.  I would have visited more.  I would have gone to that party they invited me to but was too tired to make.  I would have invited them to my home for dinner.  I would have told her I loved her.  I would have thanked them for being a great friend or supporting me through that tough period.  I would have spoken more from the heart and not had superficial conversations. I would have found out how they were really doing.  Were they happy? I would have made our last moment together count.  I wouldn’t have spent so much time being upset about that time they spoke to me in a funny way or how I felt they had treated me.  I would have kept in touch.  I would have taken more of an interest in them.  I would have ……..

Death is instructive

Indeed death is very instructive.  A funeral or a graveside is a great place to start if you want a reality check on how you are living your life.  There were a few successive years when it seemed like the only social functions I was attending were funerals.  I learnt a great deal about myself and the sort of person I wanted to be over those years.

Relationships are crucial to humanity. Even for introverts like mysel,  I willingly admit that I need relationships to keep me alive. The tragedy of life is that we take people around us for granted.  For some deluded reason we seem to think we will always be around; we will always have each other.  We take life for granted, that its electrodes will always course through our veins.  We all live in the eternal hope that we will be sustained with long life.  And so we treat each other like we will always meet tomorrow. However the reality is you never know when good bye means see you on another shore.  And so:

  • We talk to each other without listening because tomorrow we will talk again.
  • We go to bed angry, because tomorrow we will make up.
  • We are unkind to each other, because tomorrow we can make amends.
  • We withdraw our love from each other, because tomorrow they may hurt us again.
  • We do not sacrifice our time to spend it with someone because we can always go there tomorrow.
  • We do not pick up the phone to call because we will have more time to speak tomorrow.
  • We do not visit that person in hospital because tomorrow they’ll be out and we can go and see them at home.
  • We do not say sorry, because tomorrow we can be friends again.
  • We do not say thank you now because tomorrow ……………..
  • We do not say I love you, because they should know and tomorrow ………

I am not looking to score brownie points or fulfil some sort of sick righteousness, but because if, God forbid, I ever have to attend a funeral of someone I care for again, I do not want to regret not knowing them or experiencing a tangible relationship with them.  And so I call or text when people come to mind.  I ask if they are happy.  I say thank you for being there for me.  I laugh with them, cry with them.  I listen even when I feel they have not even thought about how I’m doing – I listen.  I travel longer distances now to share precious moments with them.  I reach out even when they haven’t asked after me in ages.  I bake them a cake to say I care. Just because – just because you never know if tomorrow will come, I’m trying to treat my relationships like there is no tomorrow.  Trying – it is an ongoing personal challenge.

One trick I have learnt, particularly when I feel I have been wronged by someone; I think, what if you hear tomorrow that this person has died, how would you feel?  If I feel remorse or regret and then I know, it’s not worth being upset over. Let it go.

Indeed death is instructive! Learn from it.

The Best Turkey Recipe

If you regularly cook turkey for Christmas, you’ll know one of the hardest things to do it have a moist bird. In 2007, I discovered this recipe by Phil Vickery and it was absolutely perfect. Although we have stopped having turkey at Christmas now, the memory of Christmas 2007 is stolen by the best turkey ever. If you are having turkey this Christmas, try this, I assure you it, won’t disappoint.

Serves: 8-10 adults
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 2½ hours, approx

Ingredients

1 x 5 kg or just under 12lb, Bronze turkey, with giblets and the wish bone removed
2 large carrots, peeled
2 large onion, peeled
6 sticks of celery
1 leek
2 bay leaves
2 chicken stock cubes
½ bottle dry white wine
2 pints cold water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
55g melted butter
2 tbsp roughly cornflour
4-6 tbsp cold water

Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas 6
    2. The first job is to remove the giblets from the bird and if you are using a frozen bird then make sure that it is fully defrosted
    3. Season the bird well inside and out with salt and pepper and pack the stuffing into the body cavity
    4. Tie the legs and the parsons nose together with a piece of string and secure well, so the stuffing is held inside the bird
    5. Chop all the vegetables into large chunks and place in the bottom of a large baking tray. Place the turkey on top. The tray should be large enough so the bird has at least 2 inches gap around it.
    6. Pour in the white wine, cold water and chicken stock cube, and place the whole tray on to the stove
    7. Bring to the boil and cover tightly with two layers of foil and pop into a preheated oven

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT Simmer for 5 minutes, covered to get the steam and heat going!

  1.  Cook the bird for about approximately 2 hours
  2. To check if the bird is cooked, carefully remove from the oven as there will be a lot of stock, wine and turkey juices
  3. Remove the foil and insert a knife where the thigh attaches itself to the body of the bird. The juices should run clear and if not, cover again with foil and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  4. When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven and turn it up to 230°C, gas 8. Brush with the melted butter and cook until browned for about 15 minutes.
  5. When nicely browned, remove from the oven and carefully tip off all the stock and keep warm
  6. Wrap the turkey in foil to keep warm, it will keep perfectly wrapped for 1 hour
  7. Reboil the stock and juices, you may need to add a little more water in a saucepan and skim well
  8. Mix the cornflour and water together and thicken the bubbling stock
  9. Carve the bird; the flesh will be soft and juicy. Serve the gravy and stuffing separately.

You can find the recipe here.

There is no S**TA

This Christmas, I would advise you to keep your children well away from mine because they know there is such thing as Santa.

Two years ago, we made the decision to tell them the truth. Yeah yeah yeah, we are mean old parents but:

  1. We were tired of this big bearded man that comes down the chimney once a year taking all the credit for the gifts that our hard earned money provided.
  2. We were tired of keeping up the charade and essentially the lies that went along with it as they got older. It got to the point where  I would have to say that the friend who told them there was a Santa was a liar.
  3. The gift list was getting ridiculously wilder and longer. It needed to be halted. I’m just not cut out to be one of those parents that gives their kids everything they want.
  4. We are mean like that. Hehehehehehe.

Now this year we could ask what do you want and get a list and since they know it’s their parents providing them, there is the understanding that not every wish would be granted.

I wonder if it’ll stop them wishing for those dreamy, magical presents that only Santa can provide?  Who knows. I’d like to think that Santa is not responsible for creativity and high expectations in children.

Anyway, you’ve been warned, keep your kids away or else.