In a rash act of over-ambitious parenting a couple of weeks ago, I decided that trying to engage the kids in the Haiti Earthquake appeal would be A Good Thing. It seemed particularly important because at the jaded age of 10, L asked why we should bother sending money. "Shouldn't someone else do it? Like the Americans? They're rich and they're closer."
After delivering a lecture on the importance of everyone doing their bit, the brotherhood of man/sisterhood of women, how if someone needs help and we can give it it's our duty as fellow human beings to do so blah blah blah... I thought a more hands on approach might help.
When L was in Year 1 the Tsunami struck south east Asia. He was less of an old cynic then, and wanted to send his toys to the kids who had lost their homes "cos they probably haven't got stuff to play with." Lovely thought, but we decided raising money for food and medicine might be a bit more crucial. We baked biscuits, invited his class and parents over after school to a juice'n'cookie thing and raised about £65.
Z in particular is dead keen on that sort of thing; he loves a project and he loves to bake. With 2 kids in classes and one at nursery, that would be a lot of potential invitees if we did a repeat performance. We decided instead to do a Cookies for Cash sale after school in the playground. Z and B helped ice some of the 240 cookies I baked, my fabulously supportive pal Rebecca baked another 4 dozen and we set up shop. L took trays around the far end of the playground and was a very good salesman. Z helped man the main stall. I bothered my online friends for sponsorship and raised £40 that way.
A less wonderful bit - YIKES that was a lot of work. I was already rather busy with extra baking for Valentine's Day, Mark was away, I had my college course to fit in. Because the kids wanted to decorate them, I baked the faffy, roll-and-cut-out type for the first 128. That was kind of dumb. They take about 3 times as long as the nice easy dollop-y cookies. Just as i was getting horribly tired and uptight about how many cookies I still needed to bake, I had a thought... The kids were in school. They were not helping with cookies from this point forward so they won't care about icing. Super fast chocolate chip cookies it was! I got 112 done in no time flat. Still very tired, but chuffed.
Then I did all the sensible prep work - got bags of change from the bank, talked the staff of the fruit and veg shop into letting me have some of their brown bags for packaging, printed off signage emailed to me by DEC, packed up trays, tubs for money, aprons (to look the part) and gloves for all of us (it was snowing at times) and off I went.
The sale was a roaring success. We were mobbed and pretty much sold out. All in all it looks like we've raised about £160 for the DEC appeal, which is wonderful.
Then came the horrid bit. Towards the end of the sale a woman came up to me. It was a bit mad, swarms of people and I didn't recognise her at first. She lives diagonally across from me. She was coming to tell me that we'd been burgled.
On the whole, we got off lightly. It is just stuff, after all. They'd kicked the panel of the front door in and stolen the telly. Then got into a waiting taxi. So here we are, missing a telly. Plus the remote for the Sky box, and the PS3 remote, and possibly Z's camera, which isn't where I thought we'd left it. And my wallet. And there's the rub.
I was baking scones and cookies that morning. To stop my rings getting gunked up, I took them off. Because I've baked (and washed up) so much in the last fortnight, the skin on my hands is very dry, cracked and itchy, so I thought I'd take all my rings off to prevent any of them irritating me with dough under the bands.
Usually I put them on the cluttered edge of a shelf, but on Monday when I did that, the sapphire ring fell and I thought I'd lost it. When I found it I decided I needed to put it in a more secure place, so the next time I took the rings off I zipped them in the coin purse section of my wallet.
As I left to go to the sale, I thought having my wallet in my pocket in such a busy, chaotic environment wasn't wise so I took it out of my pocket and put it on the stairs. Clearly it would be safer in my locked, alarmed house in broad daylight.
My sapphire ring and my double diamond ring are gone, and that's a damned shame. But so is my wedding ring, which was my grandmother's before me. I haven't slept all night for going over and over the stupid, unlikely, unusual chain of events that caused my wedding ring to be in my wallet on the day we were robbed.
Our friends and family have been ace. Rebecca took the kids and fed them, Mum and Fad drove over from Wales so I didn't have to be alone. The divine SJ and Rich turned up with comfort, chocolate and a telly for us to borrow. My bro rang, Sarah C popped over to check I was OK, Sarah F rang and offered help several times, and I've had lovely texts and emails offering help from our lovely pals. I was reminding the kids that although 2 blokes did something rotten to us, many people have done kind, thoughtful and decent. The world has lots of good stuff in it, even when we are feeling down and got at.
However upbeat I'm being, though, I suspect it's a tough day ahead. I have lots of baking to do, I am utterly exhausted, I've got a very distressed 10 year old to soothe and there's loads of stupid admin type crapola to deal with because of the burglary. Wish me luck, guys, because I think I'm going to need it.