Road Trip!

Half Term seems like such a long time ago already – we’ve had Halloween and Bonfire Night since then after all, and at work I’m now in full ‘Carol Service and Nativity’ mode! Until last year, we’d never really ‘done’ holidays, mostly because my husband and I were both petrified of flying so we were pretty limited on where we could go. However as the children started growing up, we both knew that we didn’t want them to be plagued by the same fear, so we booked a holiday to Majorca, just a couple of hours on a plane. We could do that, right?!

As soon as we saw the children’s excited faces when we took off, my husband was completely cured of his fear. I took a little more persuading, but we coped enough to do it again this year. It was a special holiday. We really pushed the boat out and opted for all inclusive luxury. It was fab and we’ll definitely do it again at some point. The luxury was fab, but the best bit was the family time togetherness, without the distraction of the internet, TV, housework, just general day to day life, so we decided that we were going to go away more.

Being teachers, we are blessed with the school holidays, but not the option of cheaper holidays in term time (actually, I’m pretty relieved that I never have to enter that debate about whether it’s right or wrong!). Anyhow, I digress…

We made the decision to go away for the October holiday, but on a limited budget. With a little research (mostly on my husband’s part it’s got to be said), we managed to go away for a week on a mini road trip taking in the Midlands, Lake District, Edinburgh, Blackpool and Liverpool – five Premier Inns over six nights, each at £29 a pop – bargainous! Armed with a bag of food to avoid extortionately priced services food, our National Trust membership cards to break up the journey with gorgeous walks and fresh air and in car DVD players for the children, off we went on our adventure!

We had plenty of treats along the way too – typical touristy things in each of the cities we stopped at, a trip to a water park, the zoo, some lovely meals out, Premier Inn breakfast, oh their breakfasts were amazing and the children got theirs free but I thought at one point it might turn into that Simpson’s episode where Homer takes advantage of the all you can eat deal!

A week away for a family of four, in the school holidays for not much over £300 in total. Every night we had a clean and comfortable place to stay, we were never hungry, we had so much fun and most of all, we had that all important, undistracted family time (although nearly a week later and I still can’t shut my wash basket)!

Out of Hiding…

Ok, so if you look at my last post, you may or may not notice that it was written over 2 years ago. A lot has happened since then! It’s taken me that amount of time to realise how much I regret stopping writing. At the time, I stepped back because a few too many ‘real life’ people found me. In retrospect, I don’t really get it now, because it’s not like I was posting anything controversial or untrue. In fact, most of it was only the kind of thing I’d talk to those very same people about anyway, but at the time, for some reason, it was a real biggie, like I’d been caught out doing something I shouldn’t!

The other reason was that my last post was written on my Grandma’s 100th birthday. In the post, I wrote that I was sure she’d been hanging on for her 100th birthday. She was desperate for her letter from the Queen! I wasn’t able to get down to see her on the day, but had arranged to go the following weekend. However, I soon found out that my prediction was right – she was indeed hanging on to become a centenarian, as just 9 days later, she passed away peacefully in her sleep. She always said that 7 was her special number. She always circled page 77 in her library books so she didn’t end up borrowing the same books twice (it’s funny the things we remember isn’t it?!) I like to think there was some significance to the fact she left us on the 7th day of the 7th month.

Proud to be a Centenarian.

My Grandma was the only one of my Grandparents who I really knew and she was so special to me. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about her even now. Mostly to have a little giggle at one of her many quirks, my favourite always being how she used to buy half fat custard because she genuinely thought that meant she could eat twice as much of it! However it’s tinged with a sadness that I never got to see her that one last time, and that she never got to see her great-grandchildren one last time, so every time I opened up my blog and saw that last post, I just couldn’t deal with it quite.

So please bear with me while I bring my page up to date. No longer do I have two small people who act like small people and drain me of all my energy doing things that small people do! I actually have two slightly larger small people who think they are big people. They have minds and personalities all of their very own. They have brains and opinions and a confidence which makes me proud of them every day. But thankfully despite how grown up they are getting, they’re not too big for cuddles and kisses just yet! Watch this space…

The Gallery: Hands

I’m actually crying as I try and type this. Today is a very special day. It’s my Grandma’s 100th birthday – yes 100! I’m pretty sure it’s the day she’s been holding on for, for at least the last 3 years, when she hasn’t been able to communicate very well. Her brain is still fully functioning, but she can’t hear too well, or speak or write so she has no way of letting us know what she’s thinking.

I couldn’t let today go without showing a picture of my Grandma, but when I saw the theme was ‘hands’ I saw this picture in a completely different light. Who needs to hear or speak to communicate when your hands can say so much? Those frail, 98 year old hands are protecting and loving those newborn hands, and those little hands have placed all their trust in them. This is pretty much the only picture I have of my Grandma with her only Great Grandchildren, and it’s the last time she really saw them with an awareness of who they, and I were. It is so precious, but it’s only now that I’m learning to look beyond the obvious. It’s not all about the faces at all, so thank you, Tara for helping me see this!

This week’s other Gallery pictures can be found on Tara’s blog over at Sticky Fingers.

It’s a Sticky Issue…

I love my children to bits, obviously I do, but I hate the thing they seem to love most – stickers! What is it about them that makes them so obsessed? I swear they can see stickers in their sleep, and I still remember being in Next, ordering a new sofa when my daughter was just over 1. We thought she was happily looking at the kids stuff, we could see her sat down, not causing a stir. Only when we got up to leave did we realise she’d got hold of the fabric sample thing and had been removing the bar code stickers off the back of every single one and sticking them all over her pushchair. I can’t guarantee how many people would have got the sofas they ordered that day!

This is a craze that has just never lost its appeal. It’s 10am, and already this morning my husband has nearly gone to work with a price label on his bottom, I’ve pulled 17 gold stars out of the washing machine, removed 8 purple butterflies from the banister, leaving the yucky black sticky residue for later, and have found a decapitated Peppa Pig in the cutlery tray of the dishwasher! And if they can’t find stickers, they will just keep pulling at the Sellotape. Double sided sticky tape is obviously the holy grail!

Stickers solve everything, no activity is more fun or rewarding than removing an adhesive piece of paper from a waxy sheet and placing it on a slightly different piece of paper, or item of clothing, or body part, or piece of furniture. Actually, it doesn’t matter where it goes, it just can’t possibly stay where it is.

I feel a bit bad really, that these harmless, and relatively inexpensive objects rile me so, but when you find you can’t perform any everyday, mundane task without first having to check that nothing is stuck to you or it, suddenly, it all takes three times as long – bah humbug!

So please, somebody out there, tell me I’m not alone, and also empathise with me when I tell you that my husband on Friday brought home 7000 sticky gold stars…!

Real Life Superheroes Do Exist…

I know I know, it’s all been done before, that whole ‘working mum, vs. stay at home mum’ thing. I gave up the former to become the latter nearly a year ago now, where on earth does the time go? But luckily this isn’t about that, what it is though, is a statement of utmost respect for those people who manage to do that hybrid – the work at home mums!

For the last 6 weeks, I took on some work that I could do at home. I knew it would be tough, but I took it all in my stride, thinking to myself that I’d simply do the stay at home mum thing during the day, and work in the evenings, and with my son off at pre school for one day a week too, it would all be fine, a few more jacket potatoes and easy pasta meals, and a few less home cooked cakes, but it would all be fine.

Yeah right – those of you who are work at home mums, I salute you, how the hell do you manage it?! Seriously, I have lived a miserable existence the last couple of months, check my Twitter timeline, I haven’t even had time to tweet, and have been feeling guilty leaving my work to even go for a wee. Then I’ve been feeling like an absolute failure that my son can probably recite the CBeebies scripts better than the presenters, I’ve been getting up at silly o’clock, 4am one morning, and working til gone midnight most nights, no days off. On top of that, I’ve had tonsillitis and a poorly big girl who’s been sent home from school early, and that’s not me looking for sympathy, or even thinking I’ve been dealt a bad deal, that’s just life, and we get on with it. I was only doing this for 6 weeks, but for some people, this is what they do the whole time, and those people are, without doubt, superhuman – fact! Forget the Fantastic Four or X Men, these are the people with special powers, and following my audition, I have failed miserably to become one of them!

I am in total awe of you all, and I need to know your secrets!


A Dilemma: Ancient or Modern?

Anyone who knows me will be aware of my complete inability to make a decision. Tea or Coffee? Pizza toppings? Which car park? You name it, I’ve dithered in a completely unneccesary manner about it! In fact, I’m verging on being slightly OCD about it, and sometimes I will actually just ask the children and see what they say, but that causes the issue to escalate if their vote isn’t unanimous! Thankfully though, generally these quandries are over small, inconsequential things. No-one’s life depends on them, and no-one will be upset by them.

The thing is, I now have a dilemma on my hands. I’ve made my decision (a first time for everything!), but I know a lot of people are going to think I’m wrong, and I’m always going to think about this with a guilty conscience whatever I decide – there’s no right answer to this one.

Next month, my daughter has her first Sports Day. She is already very excited about this special event where all the parents come and watch, and they’ve already started making things in preparation with Olympic themes. Although it’s probably not the biggest event in her school life, it’s another first for her, and something she is looking forward to and pretty much counting down the days until.

What she doesn’t know however, is that on this day, my Grandma will turn 100. My only living Grandparent, and probably the family member who’s stood up for me and who I’ve been closest to my entire life.

So my dilemma is this: Do I celebrate my Grandma’s 100th birthday with her, or does my daughter take part in her first ever Sports Day which she is so very much looking forward to?

Not many people get to celebrate a 100th birthday do they? And I honestly think my Grandma is just trying to ‘hold on’ for her 100th birthday, she hasn’t got long left I know that, I’ve been to see her in hospital and ‘said goodbye’ four times now, and my daughter’s Sport’s Day? Well, there’ll be plenty more of those won’t there, in fact give it a few years and the novelty will probably have worn off all together! It’s pretty obvious what I should do isn’t it?

So why is it that the decision I’ve made, is in fact the opposite? I feel like the decision I’m making is really selfish, but I also feel like I have to do it this way. My Grandma is very fragile. She lives in a residential care home (a very lush one with chandeliers and string quartets at dinner!) but last year she had a stroke. The last time I saw her, she recognised my face, but was unable to hear me clearly or communicate. She wasn’t really aware who my children were, so didn’t flinch when one of the other residents insisted they were her children (yes children, not grandchildren!) and tried to take them back to her room, pinning the picture up that my daughter had drawn for her Great-Grandma. Understandably, my children got a bit upset by this! She also gets visibly distressed when there is so much going on around her that she can’t focus on everything at once.

With this in mind, I have actually made a decision that I will support my daughter going to her Sports Day, and miss seeing my Grandma on her 100th birthday. I’m not sure if I feel guilty because it’s the wrong decision, or whether I feel uneasy because I know a lot of other people will think it’s the wrong decision, mainly the other members of my family. I just feel after a lot of thought that if I go and see my Grandma the next day, or the day before, she may not be as upset as my daughter would be if she missed something that was really important to her, and that in reality, she will be aware of missing a lot more. I am also pretty confident, that should I be lucky enough to reach that age, I would insist that my Grandchild made the same decision. I’m not snubbing my Grandma (or am I?) I love her to bits, and am desperate to share her special day with her, I’m just so torn. I’d love to hear what you would do, though if you think I’m totally out of order, please tell me in a nice way because I’m going to end up upsetting someone whatever I choose!

Thank You for the Music?

The second we get in the car, my children start deliberating over which song they’d like to listen to first on the journey. Up until quite recently it’s usually been something Disney related, with the Tangled soundtrack featuring pretty highly. My son also has a soft spot for “Dingle Dangle Scarecrow,although he’s gone off that a bit in the car as he finds the confines of his Maxi Cosi a little bit restricting for its accompanying choreography!

As a music teacher, I’ve come to appreciate a huge range of musical styles and genres, and my husband is very passionate about music too. He tends to favour the more critically acclaimed artists, often finding my tastes incredibly cringeworthy and frequently sniggers that my ‘Guilty Pleasures’ playlist on Spotify actually contains most of my library!

Recently however, I’ve noticed that the children have been starting to enjoy more grown up music. I’m not talking the swearing every other word type, just the next step up from Disney! I’ve found it quite endearing seeing them dancing and singing along to Miley Cyrus, thinking how cute and innocent it all was, but my daughter got me thinking this morning when she’d requested Price Tag by Jessie J on the way to school. The reason she and my son love this song is for no other reason than right at the start she says “Coconut Man!” This never fails to produce uncontrollable fits of laughter from both of them. They then happily sing along to the chorus. The thing is though, this morning, my daughter asked me “Why isn’t it all about the money? What does Jessie mean?”

Thankfully, this is a song with a nice message , but they also love dancing around to the poppy Katy Perry singles, so how long will it be before she’s asking me what ‘sex on the beach’ is or what ‘menage a trois’ is all about?! These are songs that are frequently played on the radio, so should I be avoiding them because they’re only 3 and 5? I’ve never really been the ‘sheltering’ type, but I’m also not sure I was expecting the whole birds and the bees thing just yet either!

I’m probably reading too much into it again, but my daughter is bright and if she’s starting to try and make sense of the lyrics and question their meaning, surely I should encourage this new level in her learning? So is it all innocent fun, or am I already at that stage where I’m going to have to start censoring things?!

Given that my daughter was only proudly telling all of her teachers yesterday that she stayed up until midnight at the weekend (for a very special occasion!) and that she made a MacDonald’s chip carton during ‘art’ at school for no reason at all yesterday, I’m growing ever fearful that I might soon get a reputation that I really don’t want! So tell me lovely people, is it time to act?!



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