Lines in the Sand

I’ve decided to have my ring finger removed by elective surgery.

No, it’s not infected with gangrene. Nor do I have skin cancer. There has been no injury. But logic tells me that once I book the surgery, things will happen.

Like, a ring will magically appear upon it.

The one I didn’t get seven years ago when I agreed to marry my husband.

The one I didn’t get the Christmas after, or for my following birthday, or the one after that and so on.

The one I wasn’t wearing the day I found out he’d tried to start an affair.

The one I still wasn’t wearing a whole year later, when he still couldn’t tell me he loved me.  When, after twelve months of counselling, coaching, heart ache, depression and a whole lot of soul searching I was just starting to think I might be able to trust him again, I found, among others, that email he’d sent to that same female while on our family holiday just the month before, and the e-receipt for the Christmas present he’d got her.

The ring I still am not wearing.

The fourth finger of my left hand isn’t needed, it seems.  So away with it.

A month ago I told my husband (the one who still couldn’t tell me he loved me, after a year of hard bloody work) that time was up, he had four weeks from that moment to prove he cared or we would separate. Much as I loved him. Much as I wanted our family together, I deserved better.

Within days I was worthy.  He told me he loved me.  He started looking me in the eye. He became spontaneously tender.

I went into shock.

I really, honestly, didn’t know what to think.

Through all this we’ve been talking about moving overseas. Back when it all blew up the first time, a year or so ago, he told me wanted to move in six months’ time. To go back to the UK. Fine, I said, I can do that.  I might even like to do that – to be near my family again.  Especially with all the marriage trouble. But six months was too soon. Too soon, too cold (Southern winter to northern winter? No thanks.), too rushed. No, I said.  If we go, we go into summer.  He had to agree. April sounded good.  Early southern autumn into early northern spring.  Good. I looked into schools.  Our eldest would need to start school in September.  You can’t get a place in a school in the UK until you have an address.  I didn’t have an address.  Yet.  April would give me time – to find a house and and school.  To settle in.  To get used to things.  The long school holidays are July to the end of August in the UK.  April to July and then the summer.  I could do that.

Sometimes I’ve pictured the move as just me and the children. Starting my life as a single mum.  I’ve got my head around that. I’ve come to terms with it. I’ve found the positives. Other times I’ve pictured it as all four of us. I’m ready – either way.

The ‘early April’ move date moved to late April, and then to early May.  Early May turned to June and I started to feel that I was dangling at the end of another long string. When July was mentioned I said ‘enough’.  I drew a line in the sand and said that I would move to the UK with the girls before the end of June, and he could follow when the things we needed to sort for our business were done.  I couldn’t wait any more.  That day I found flights for late June – not easy a month out from the Olympics. I was ready to book.

Suddenly I was taken seriously, it seemed. Phone calls were made. Things started to be organised. He had a motorbike to sell. It wasn’t exactly news that he’d have to sell it, he’d been muttering about it for ages. Now he was driving it to the place to get it thoroughly cleaned so he could photograph and sell it. Suddenly the cogs were oiled.

Lines in the sand are clearly needed to get my husband to act.

A few months ago, before he decided I was worth loving, before I knew that he’d still been in touch with The Female, he’d said one day that he wanted to buy me an engagement ring. I was moved. He’d never said that before. It was amazing.

Three days later I told him I couldn’t accept a ring from a man who couldn’t tell me he loved me… now that’s a subject for another post! And then when I found out….well… But now he does. He loves me.  Of course he loves me.  Why would be still be here if he didn’t?  But the point is he recognises it.  He feels it.  He says it – or has done anyway. I’ve been without those words for so long I could happily hear them from my man morning, noon and night just now.

Perhaps I have unrealistic romantic notions.  Fact is I long for romantic gestures.  You know the type of thing… You arrive at the hotel and he’s swapped you to a posh suite. You get on the plane and he’s arranged for you to be served champagne.  He takes you out for dinner and whips out a ring…

He’s trying pretty hard, my husband, he really is. And he has been doing things to get this move going, to be honest and fair about it.  He has.  But I’m demanding. And I like lines in the sand – like plane tickets that tell me what day and time my life is changing. And I dream of romance and my man wooing me, winning me back, showing me how much I’m worth to him.

So perhaps it’s line in the sand time.  If I book the operation to have the finger removed, perhaps… perhaps…

For other posts on marriage, relationships and love see my posts “Writing My Heart” and “I Am No-one’s Wife”

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(c) Naomi Madelin


Holiday Home Instant Upcycled Dolls’ House

During a recent holiday at a seaside bach (that’s Kiwi for holiday house, beach house, holiday cottage etc) I realised that I hadn’t packed enough toys for my children.

My logic had been that a holiday house is an exciting new place to be, and they wouldn’t need too many toys.  I could give them pots and pans to play with, they could do a bit of drawing, but most of their time would be spent playing outside or at the beach.

As it happened, the weather decided to be very changeable, and my husband ended up having to do a few hours’ work every morning, leaving me to occupy the little people.  It wasn’t quite the family beach holiday I’d imagined…

I’ve always been a fairly crafty sort of person, and as a child I loved to take old boxes and bottles and other useable rubbish, and upcycle it into something new.  There’s nothing quite so satisfying as using up leftovers – and to me that includes food AND rubbish or junk.  It’s good for the soul, and good for the budget.

We weren’t on a completely budget holiday, but I wasn’t about to go out and buy toys my children already owned at home, or rubbishy plastic ones from a dollar store that would break within a day.  Besides which, there wasn’t a toy shop for miles!

So one evening, when the children had FINALLY settled down, I rummaged through the recycling bin full of cardboard, paper, platic and tin to see what my budget-conscious, creative fingers could upcycle into toys.  A doll’s house seemed like a quick and easy thing to make, and something the kids would love.

Here’s how I made my holiday home instant upcycled cardboard dolls’ house!

You Will Need

  • Scissors and/or craft knife or serrated kitchen knife (the kind of budget knife you find in a holiday house kitchen is perfect!).
  • Sticky tape or Sellotape.
  • A smallish cardboard box to upcycle.
  • A loo roll, kitchen paper roll or other cardboard tube from your recycling bin.  Alternatively you can use the off-cuts from the cardboard box you’re using for the main house.

1/ Preparation

Remove top flaps from the box, and ensure all remaining flaps are stuck down.

2/ The basic house

Use scissors/knife to cut a front door (a double door is nice), a back door and some windows.  I used the centre of my sticky tape roll to draw a circle and cut a circular window.  Try to cut carefully so that you get squares and a circle – they come in handy later!

So, easy as pie you have your basic recycled box dolls’ house.

3/ Dining table

Take the circle you cut out for the window, and two squares.  Cut half way down to the centre of each square in a straight line.  Turn one piece the other way up, and slot together to make a cross.  These are your table legs.

Use sticky tape to stick the legs piece to the underside of your circle, and hey presto – a dining table for your dolls.

As you can see, the table I made was a little too high – how were these dolls going reach to eat their dinner?!
I had two options: cut the table down, or make a few DIY chairs or stools to go with the dolls’ dining table.  Well, in for a penny….
4/ Cut four (or however many stools you want) rounds from your cardboard tube.  If you don’t have a cardboard tube, make shorter legs using the same method you used for the dining table legs.
Use card from the flaps you removed from the top of the box, or any other recylable card you have lying around, to cut squares or circles for the seats.  I found some nice yellow card to add a splash of colour to my budget house!
Stick the tube rounds to the stool tops, and you're done.
Stick the tube rounds to the stool tops using sticky tape on the underside, and you’re done.
A house fit for my youngest’s budget dollar shop dolls (she breaks things) and her older sister’s Strawberry Shortcake and friends. If your kids are into larger dolls like Barbie and Action Man, just choose a larger cardboard box to start with.  

My girls were thrilled to come down next morning and find a doll’s house to play with!


For more up-beat parenting/child related posts, see “Jumping on Castles” and “Top That: Party Nightmares”

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(c) Naomi Madelin

Writing My Heart

I’ll tell where my heart is
I’ll try to.
My heart is sunk,
sad and slow,
lost and unknowing in a maze
of unknowingness.
It left itself behind
back when it was suggested
it might be required. 
Its presence wanted.
It was afraid.
It hid.
I don’t know where I left it.
Here it is.  In the fluff
under the sofa.
Peeking from behind the cushions.
Squashed into the back of an infrequently opened cupboard. 
Misshapen and small. 
There it is in my children,
a glowing sun.
Huge, immortal, bold and brazen.
Taking itself so lightly it floats
in beauty
we watch it
a bubble
in the sun
and amazed. 
How it grows and shines and lights us. 
Don’t you
pop it.
Don’t you pop my heart
with your selfishness
or take it down and keep it. 
Delicate it is. 
Wanted it is. 
Wanting your breath
to coax it, blow it, elate it. 
Inflate it.
Confused my heart is, frightened
and yet fulfilled.
How it struggles
not knowing where to settle.
Out and in,
up and down. 
What to do with gifts,
it wonders.
Tentatively takes and queries,
examines and puts aside. 
eat those gifts.
Consume them. 
Learn as little ones are
not to beware.
Take love as offered
life as proffered. 
Feed yourself
Here is my heart,
cupboard door ajar
frightened eyes.
I left it here, simply peeping.
Rhymes safe keeping.
NRM 17/11/11