My mum was a communicator.

You knew where you were with her. That could be a good or bad thing. If she was in good humour, she would have you hysterical giggling as she pushed the boundaries with ribald humour. If she was not in a good humour, her use of language could reduce you to tears very powerfully.

Mum loved school but had to leave aged 12 so with words she was largely self-taught.

She clearly remembered learning to read and how she had seen a tin of toffees and mispronounced the brand name as “supper” instead of “super” and how her older brother had laughed at her mistake.

When she went into the mill (very much against her will but there was no money to send her to Grammar School due to the same brother “taking the King’s shilling”), she decided she would take her education into her own hands.

She used to spend her wages on the Reader’s Digest which had a list of words and she used to learn the meanings and commit them to memory.

Later, this lady would mix with people at Cambridge University, at Glyndebourne and amongst the Kensington glitterati. She held her own verbally, never coming across as uneducated. In fact, she was very well equipped to blow holes in other people’s arguments.

Of course, Mum was a Yorkshire woman through and through. So for much of my childhood, she was “Mam” rather than “Mum”. She would tell you not to walk on the “causa edge” in case you fell in the road. She would ask you to close the “pull-ons”. She would refer to “ginnells” a host of other words that are not UK wide. Of course, I did not become aware of this until I left home aged 18.

Mum was certainly an avid reader and loved her Catherine Cookson books, Forever Amber and Gone with the Wind. Basically, it seemed to me that if it involved a girl born in squalor, impregnanted by the local early but saved by a good man, it was right up mum’s street). She had a bookshelf in her bedroom that included a copy of the Thorn Birds. In public, she expressed that the whole idea of the book and film was disgusting so it was odd that she had a copy lol. I never remember her showing interest in non-fiction books particularly.

Mum advised me that I should always read “because it is impossible to be lonely when you have a good book on the go”.

Mum’s words – ones that taught, ones that comforted, ones that made facts fit her particular opinion on a matter, ones that cajoled, ones that wounded, ones that made me wish she could be easier on me and herself.

Mum wrote to me at various points in my life. I remember her telling me that one of Dad’s work contacts had a baby girl “so now he will know how lovely it is to have a little girl”. She gave me a voucher for Bon Marche when I was 40 and sent me specific instructions how to use it practically in words of one syllable. She never had much faith in me that way. She sent me an anniversary card on our first anniversary knowing it would be the last she wrote to me. In her wonderful curly writing (“I was taught by nuns you know”) she referred to the magical quality of our wedding day and how much had already changed. It was very poignant and I have kept it.

Mum was terminally ill for 6 months and we talked during my Friday night visits that I would do so that my Dad could have some respite and go out to choir. Illness and morphine made her gentler. Important words were said on those visits.

“When I said P was a loser, I got it wrong” about Him Indoors followed by “Tell him but only after I have died”.

“I am proud of you because your children are the happiest I have ever known”

“I spent far too much of my life cleaning”

“I am happy to die because I have seen all the places I wanted to see and done all the things I wanted to do”.

And her very last words to me ever…

“I will hand you back to your Dad now”.

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Happily joining in Ella from Notes from Home’s Friday Club where this week’s topic is clutter.

I honestly believe that a house with clutter is a house with soul.

Let me see. There are my bookshelves with hundreds of books on them. They make me laugh and cry. They help myself and my family to learn new things. They are essential.

There are little hooks with children’s artwork showing that I am blessed to have children and reminding me of when they were younger or or art projects we worked on together. They warm my heart. They are essential.

My walls are packed with works of art that may well reflect various aspects of myself. Dark, brooding forests, voluptuous women, lighthouses and more. They are essential.

My mantlepiece is incredibly cluttered. We have ornaments that make me giggle. There is a tile s6aying that happiness comes through doors that you didn’t even know you left open which I bought when L came back into my life. There are crystals in vibrant colours, hip flasks, incense and a photo frame that announces “Girl Power”.

Recently, my brother attacked me for my way of living with all these things around me. He practically announced that living in this way was tantamount to child and elder abuse (I live with my 3 children and elderly father). I have reflected long and hard on this and actually cleared everything away when he came to stay here for a few weeks. I felt like some essential spark of me had disappeared. He disappeared to live somewhere else thank goodness and I was able to get my clutter and myself back.

If I were to die today and you came to my house, you would not need anyone to tell you what I was like. You would see huumour, deep thought and feeling, ecletic tastes, objects of learning, celebrations of family life. For me, clutter will always be something to celebrate.

When the clutter gets too much or I judge things to be no longer useful or beautiful, I send them to the charity shop knowing that the saying is very true that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. I am also a member of freegle where you can give stuff away for free. Storage-wise, I find drawers more useful than wardrobes. Again, if you visit charity shops, you can find some brilliant storage solutions from dark brown solid furniture to vintage trunks/suitcases and more. Incidentally, if you are like me and enjoy clutter, both freegle and charity shops are great ways of acquiring stuff whilst helping other people too.

So what do you think? Is clutter a good or bad thing?

Now pop over to the Notes from Home blog and clutter you mind with other people’s ideas. You might just learn from them.

Isn’t it lovely to see Reasons To Be Cheerful back on the Mummy from the Heart blog?

I know all the hostesses did a wonderful job over the Summer with the notable exception of yours truly who cocked it up bigstyle but it is good to see it returning home after the holidays.

For those who don’t know, Reasons to be Cheerful is a wonderful blog hop that celebrates all things good in our lives. It is great on the lovely weeks but even more meaningful on those troublesome weeks as it makes you really focus on the little things that warm the heart or make you smile.

1. I am alive. I don’t want to say more than that on this one just yet apart from to say, we do take life for granted sometimes, don’t we?

2. In the last week or so, three organisations have said they want me in different ways. It feels so long since that last happened and lifts my soul.

3. I have made a crucial and assertive decision about Christmas this year.

4. After a little wobble about losing weight yesterday, thanks to the support of family, friends and Twitter, I stuck with it and feel strong enought to continue to do so.

5. I am overwhelmed at the support for the new blog hop on #groovingmums and am so enjoying reading the stories of some very diverse mums all committed to rediscovering their va-va-voom. You can read more about this in my post from Tuesday this week and please do go and visit and lend your support to mums who are trying to change for the better.

I know these are very brief for me but they are all very deep in their own ways.

Now pop over to http://mdplife.blogspot.com and check out some other positive-thinking and pretty things.

The Gallery theme this week is Home.

I have lived in many places. By the age of one, I had lived in four places including a convent. Perhaps there is traveller in my soul as at last count, I have resided in 34 homes including on the road in a camper van one mad Summer.

So for me, I am clear that a place does not make a home. If you don’t want to enter a deeply nauseous state, I suggest you read no further.

One day, I was in the car chattering away when Him Indoors told me to shut up. I started telling him not to speak to me like that when he said. “No, I mean, listen to this song because it expresses exactly how I feel about you”. It was Billy Joel and here are the lyrics that so impressed my Other Half.

Billy Joel Home

When you look into my eyes
and you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
it always comes as a surprise
when i feel my withered roots begin to grow

well i never had a place
that I could call my very own
but that’s all right my love
cuz you’re my home.

when you touch my weary head
and you tell me everything will be all right
You say use my body for your bed
and my love will keep you warm throughout the night

well i’ll never be a stranger
and i’ll never be alone
wherever we’re together
that’s my home.

Home could be the Pennsylvania turnpike
Indiana’s early morning dew
high up in the hills of California
home is just another word for you

Well I never had a place that i could call my very own
but that’s all right my love cuz you’re my home

If i travel all my life
and i never get stop and settle down
long as i have you by my side
there’s a roof above and good walls all around
you’re my castle, you’re my cabin
and my instant pleasure dome
i need you in my house
cuz you’re my home,..
you’re my home.

Him Indoors is not very good at expressing his feelings but he said that this song just about sums up our relationship for him. As for me being shallow, I particularly liked the idea of being an instant pleasure dome.

As I thought about it, I remembered Mum and Dad used to play this song a lot and it actually has pretty much the same meaning to the Billy Joel one.

You placed gold on my finger
You brought love like I’ve never known
You gave life to our children
And to me a reason to go on.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend.

When I need hope and inspiration
You’re always strong when I’m tired and weak
I could search This whole world over
You’ll still be everything that I need.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend…

Him Indoors likes to sit in “his” chair.

When my Mum died, I spoke to Dad and said one of the worst bits was turning to the phone to ring her and then realising there was no point. He said to me “Imagine how often I turn to “her” chair to tell her something and it is empty”.

What am I saying? That despite being possibly the least romantic couple in the world that Him Indoors remains in his chair perceiving me to be his “home” for a long time yet.

Home is wherever Him Indoors lays his hat for me too. Shhhh! Don’t tell him.

With love from the Striking Mum x

As I am fully committed to shifting the extra pounds (hey, who am I kidding? That would be stones and stones) I decided to invest in a brand new pair of weighing scales. I made an event out of it taking the whole family off to Tesco to choose some. I even took them all to MacDonalds afterwards to celebrate and yes, I had nothing except a diet coke.

So this morning once Him Indoors and the children were dispatched to their various lives, I whipped off all my clothes and bounced onto the new scales. Nothing. The instructions did not tell you you had to take a little plastic tab out of them to make them work. OK, that’s sorted. Try again. Wow, I appear to have lost 5 stones overnight! I knew this could not be possible but was quite happy to bask in the moment. Right, time to face reality. It does not say 10 stones 2 pounds. It says 102kg. Since when did anybody stuck in the Eighties want to deal in kg?!

Read the instructions and worked out that I needed to push a button if I wanted to deal in old-fashioned weights. It turns out I am around the 16 stone mark when I thought it was a mere (lol) 15 stone. Feel totally deflated after nearly 3 weeks of being so good on the healthy eating front.

Seized on the support of Twitter and within minutes was reassured. 70 pounds to lose is just 2 pounds for 35 weeks. That sounds far more manageable. It is pretty clear to me that I have lost around 91b already in 2 weeks so I am on track. As Him Indoors said, all that has changed is the starting point, so when you lose the weight, it will be an even more impressive story.

I am going to admit because I bet I am not the only one to do this that I tried the scales in various places in the house blaming sloping floors and all sorts for the terrible truth.

However, due to the support of Twitter and family members, I got in the car and went off to buy Weightwatchers bread and smoked salmon for lunch.

The point of this post is really to ask whether other women give the weighing scales too much power. Do you jump on and off them every 3 seconds? Do you move them around to try to get them to give you a different result? If you are on a steady path of weight loss, should they be so important in your life?

In case you are wondering, I will lose the weight. I am believing in myself and you lot can catch up in your own time.