The Gallery: Friends

I come from a very small family. Every day I get sad that I don’t really speak to my parents. It’s a whole other post in itself, and one I’m working up to, when I can be brave enough, but I genuinely hope that one day I’ll have a good relationship with my side of the family.

So why bring that up now, when it’s a gallery theme all about friends this week on Tara’s blog over at Sticky Fingers? Well I think of myself as being lucky to have lots of friends, and my children too are lucky in that respect. They are both very sociable and outgoing and generally enjoy being around other children. My daughter has two very special friends who I’d love to have included in this post, but I haven’t asked permission to put the photos in! It doesn’t matter though because now I’m getting to the point (promise!)… I’d always hoped I could be part of a family which extends beyond the tie of genes:

My husband is my best friend…

My children are best friends…

They want to play together

They play tricks together…

They work together…

They read together…

Sure they are company for each other at home like all siblings, but their relationship even aged 4 and 2 extends beyond this. My son is at his happiest when he runs up to his sister at the end of her school day. My daughter likes nothing more than helping her brother up over the bits at the soft play that he’s not quite big enough to do by himself. If either of them gets upset, the other one will instantly ditch whatever they are doing to make sure all is ok.

Maybe in a few years, things will be different, but for now, I get to see the strongest friendship I’ve ever witnessed, every single day, how lucky am I?!

 

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10 Reasons Why It’s Great Being a Toddler…

My children never cease to amaze me with their thinking, and I often think what fun it would be if the world really was as I think they see it! These are all taken from personal experience, I’d love to make the list longer, so feel free to add your own contributions!

1. Sand flying in your eyes on a windy day is clearly pixie dust…

2. Housework is fun…

3. Flatulence is funny and something to be proud of…

4. Choosing which plate to have your dinner on is the toughest decision there is…

5. Kisses make everything better…

6. Deliberately showing everyone your pants is perfectly acceptable. In fact it’s a sign of how clever you are…

7. Food tastes better if it’s arranged into a funny face…

8. Aspirations to pursue a career as a tooth fairy or a mermaid are perfectly logical…

9. Everything has the potential to be an effective climbing frame…

10. There’s no problem in the world that can’t be solved with a chocolate button or stickers.

Isn’t it Ironic?!

Well as the words of Alanis Morissette rhetorically ask, it’s quite ironic, that my longest blog silence this year has actually been because I’ve been having so much fun – on HOLIDAY! If you scroll up, you’ll see that my last post was written complaining that holidays are overhyped and how I can take them or leave them. I guess that’s still true (bah humbug indeed) but at the same time, our little family have probably just had the best holiday ever!

It’s not all about the going away, although we did have have a couple of days in Cardiff, I just love love loved the quality family time, which I think before my daughter started school was something I was beginning to both take for granted and also not appreciate if that’s possible. My intense working hours during the term, meant that I found myself living for holidays just so I didn’t have to go to work, rather than for the opportunities the time off opened up for the family.

People also said that when we moved away from Bournemouth, we’d miss all the fantastic things that part of the world offered us (I think most people just thought we were crazy to move away from the beach, but for someone who hates sand as much as me, that was no big deal at all!)

So why was our half term so great?

We had the in laws to stay (honestly, that was a fab start! No less because they babysat and my husband and I stayed out til 3:30am, I don’t remember the last time that happened)…

We crossed the bridge to Wales…

We did lots of really cool experiments at Techniquest (a totally brilliant family time if you ever find yourself in Cardiff!)…

I'm having an out of body experience!

We had one big sleepover in a hotel room (or should that be one big ‘howlongcanyoustayawakeover?’)…

Like Father, like son in so many ways...

We saw the Millennium Stadium…

We went to a real Castle (the best afternoon of the whole half term!)…

We went swimming, walking, to the park, and soaked each other with fairy liquid bubbles…

We went to birthday parties…

And we had a lot of lazy lie ins (bliss!)…

I hope you had a lovely half term too if you have little ones, and sorry for the slightly indulgent post, but I just wanted to share it with you, and prove that I’m not totally Bah Humbug about holidays!

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Bah Humbug!

Some people live for their holidays. I’m not one of those people. I like my house and the time I spend in it, and I like having my comforts around me.

Before we had children we’d go away from time to time, but usually just a weekend somewhere in this country. The only ‘proper’ holiday we went on together was our honeymoon.

The sophisticated Newlyweds...

Since the children, we’ve had two big holidays. Once to Disneyland and once to a different bit of France, a Summer camping one. We’ve been camping with friends and had a few days away here and there, but nothing compared to what some people do or more importantly wish they could do.

The thing is I’m not really bothered about going on holidays! But it’s that time of year when we’re starting to think about whether to go away or not. We went to Disneyland Paris last year, but because hubby is a teacher we’ve always been restricted to going on holiday in the school holidays so have the premium to pay in terms of price too. And we’ve been on one holiday when we went to a fab campsite in France, and while I loved the freedom that being on holiday gave us, I actually felt more uptight than I do at home.

The kids and my husband loved every minute of it, but I still had to cook and clean, about 10 times more often than I do at home because we were in such a confined space, and when I did come to relax, I didn’t have any of my comforts around me. And being a vegetarian in France isn’t that easy either! Chips, bread and cheese for a week wreaks havoc with your digestive system!

I know I sound like a right grump, and as hubby points out, it’s not all about me, so if everyone else is having fun should I just grin and bare it? After all, I know when I get there I’ll enjoy it more than the thought of going. Or should I be thinking sod it, it may not all be about me, but surely some of it should be about me?! Holidays don’t come cheap after all.

In which case, I need a holiday that offers

  • nice weather
  • lots of fun things for the family
  • plenty of variety of food
  • no cooking or cleaning
  • one where I don’t have to share a room with the children for a week

Oh, and because we made a deal that I’d earn enough money to pay for said holiday, it needs to be achieved within my current earnings of £12.26 and a £5 Amazon e-voucher!

I’m thinking we may be getting a takeaway at home for our holiday this year!

The Price is Wrong…

“I’m the one who goes out to work and earns all the money, and you’re just frittering it away on pointless, unnecessary things!”

Yes these were the words my husband, who I love very very much (it’s a good job!), uttered the other day. It’s the one argument he will always get me with. It’s a sore point, but it’s true. He is the earner, and I am the spender. When it comes up in an argument though, I hate it and it upsets me, because I used to earn some money, but we made the decision to move for his job and for me not to work. Admittedly I was overjoyed at the prospect of not working, but it is neverthess difficult for me to be financially dependent when it’s the first time I have been in my adult life.

However, I can totally see why he got wound up. We just have different views on how to deal with it, and I think I need your help on this one, because I know there’ll be lots of my Twitter friends who will be able to help me! My children have had one birthday party a week minimum since the start of January, 7 parties so far. They also have invitations to 6 more in the next month. It seems to be that you invite your whole class to your birthday party, so between the two of them, we could potentially be talking more than 50 parties a year, not mention how scared I feel at the prospect of hosting a party for 30+ under 5s, eek!

The trouble is, you can’t really turn up to a birthday party without a present, and presents cost money. Money that we didn’t budget for in our very comprehensive financial planning we did when deciding whether or not we could afford a new house! Last week my son was invited to birthday party where they wrote on the invitations that they did not want presents, but I couldn’t bare to turn up empty handed, so bought a small present anyway. This was how we started disagreeing, my husband saying I shouldn’t have. At this point, I did remind him of the fact that even if I said there was nothing I wanted for a birthday or Christmas, should he decide to not get me anything he would be in so much trouble! Had I turned up to the party without a present, I would have been the only person who did. Even as we were I felt stingy!

My children don’t have their birthdays until later in the year so I have no experience of this whatsoever. My head and my bank balance tells me I should just be buying a very small, token present, but my heart and my expensive taste tells me that I shouldn’t be! I don’t want my children to be labelled as cheapskates!

And having spent a morning scouring the supermarkets, I’m really struggling! Even a magazine can be up to £5! So how much should I be spending on birthday presents for a child I don’t know? What’s the protocol?! Help me please, any tips and present ideas welcome!

The Gallery: A Family Story

Wow, what a difficult theme! A Family Story is just our life isn’t it, so how do you take one picture which sums up your life?! I’ve been a bit of a sporadic participator in the Gallery over the last few weeks, but I love looking at everyone else’s offerings!

It’s weird though, I say how I find it difficult, yet straight away, only one photo came to my mind:

I’m really glad that Tara points out that “It’s not about taking technically brilliant photos” because I didn’t even manage to get my husband’s full head in (although I’m hoping the fact I’d just given birth and the anaesthetic I’d been given so I could have my stitches was just starting to wear off, can count as some way towards an excuse!), but I had to choose this picture, because to me it just visualises love, that abstract emotion, that families have for each other, no matter whether they show it or not.

This photo was the first photo I took after three had become four. A very poignant moment in our family story, possibly slightly cliched for a post like this, but who cares?!

One of my favourite films of all time is Love Actually, much to my husband’s annoyance (his top films include Schindler’s List, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs!) but it gets me every time, I cry buckets every time, and I laugh until I cry again every time. Why? Because love is such an amazing emotion, and every family should be tied by it, not by blood, but by love.

So this picture, although not technically brilliant (I’m guessing without a head, it might not even pass as technically staisfactory!) shows what I think is the most important aspect of my family story – the love we have for each other, passing through the generations. The love a father has for his children, and the love my daughter has for her brother.

See how other people have summed up their family stories in one photo on Tara’s blog at Sticky Fingers.

 

What You Staring At?

I guess I’ve done pretty well really. My daughter is just coming up five and I’ve managed to avoid being judged as a mother by strangers until now. Okay, I’ve had the ‘looks’ we all get when our child decides to have a meltdown in the middle of the supermarket and we feel tempted, but don’t quite have the guts to turn into that lady on the advert who just starts rolling around on the floor in the aisle, but I’ve found online shopping 100% successful in preventing that from happening any more!

So yes, in half a decade, I haven’t had a bad experience, until this weekend. We were invited out to a ‘social gathering’ we shall call it to preserve its anonymity. My son was running around as two year olds do, then he came running over to me, gave me a massive cuddle and ran off again.

I didn’t really know anyone else there so I guess I was more aware of what other people were doing, but I noticed two people talking, and looking over at me in that way people do when they’re talking about you! I’m sure you know that look I mean! Although a lot of people don’t think of me as being shy, I am actually a hugely insecure person so this affected me greatly, I suddenly felt very uncomfortable.

A couple of minutes later, one of the two people that had been talking made their way over to me. It was like when you’re in the school playground and you decide in a huddle who’s going to go over to the boy and ask him out for their friend! So said person approaches me and just comes out with:

“You do know your son has a horrific rash don’t you?”

Suddenly it clicks into place. Of course, how could I be so stupid?! Ignorant selfish me, has taken my son out so that he can contaminate everyone. Share the germs! If you all get close enough, you can go home with matching skin!

Even when my son had chickenpox, I never got any reaction, and this case was, according to the doctor, one of the worst cases he had ever seen:

I just find it weird that someone else, another parent, can automatically assume, that as a mother I haven’t noticed that my son has a severe skin issue. Or, that if I had, I wouldn’t have had it checked out or assessed by a professional to check it wasn’t infectious before I took him to a social gathering!

I didn’t need to do that, because my son has eczema. It’s quite bad, and I’m sure anyone who has experienced eczema will understand that a sudden drop in temperature to -12 is not going to help with its appearance. I’m guessing the golfball bruise on his head as a result of dropping an ELC cash register on it that morning and a bruised arm from where his sister bit him also didn’t help!

But the fact still remains that I was judged to be a poor mother, and an irresponsible adult on first impression. Someone who knew nothing about me decided that, despite the fact we have friends in common. If this hadn’t been their first impression, then they wouldn’t have needed to approach me.

So should I be bothered by this? Or would I have had the same feelings if I’d seen a child with something going on? I think I dealt with it ok, I calmly explained that my son had eczema, and that it wasn’t a contagious disease. I’m glad I haven’t lost my patience and ability to stay calm which I had to learn as a teacher! I think the people concerned felt a bit bad about bringing it up in the end which I didn’t want them to do, but they felt relieved too!

It’s the first time I’ve ever though about my son’s eczema in the long term as well. He may grow out of it, although most of my friend’s children who have grown out of it seemed to have been doing so by now so I’m not sure. It’s controllable with his cocktail of steroid creams, but it will flair up. Is my poor boy going to have to encounter comments like this in the future too? He’s never been bothered by it, in terms of itching or appearance, but I don’t want him to be either.

This parenthood thing isn’t getting any easier now I’ve got my full nights of sleep back that’s for sure!

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