See You Tomorrow…

Christmas was fab for us as a family this year, and already seems like ages ago, even tho it was only 3 1/2 weeks.

It was great for all the obvious reasons, but something else happened on Christmas Day – my daughter had her first sleepover away from Mummy and Daddy. Yes, it was with her cousin who is still family, but it was the first time in her life that she woke up without either of us there to greet her. I’ve had nights away and so has my husband but never both of us together.

The question is, why hasn’t this happened before? When is the right time? Have I been a ridiculously overprotective, control freak parent? I’m not sure exactly, but I think I’m probably to blame. For the first couple of years of her life I definitely wasn’t ready to be apart from her overnight, the whole idea just scared me so much, despite the fact that a few of her friends had begun to do this, I knew I couldn’t. I now wonder whether this was quite selfish, but I’m pretty sure that she wasn’t really that bothered and neither did the need arise.

Peppa Pig however has turned sleepovers into the ‘Holy Grail’ of treats, and now she longs for them. On Christmas Day, she and her cousin who is 9, begged us to let her sleep over. With quite a bit of wine in my system and the prospect of a lie in, my anxiety and maternal attachment seemed to fly out of the window and she did it. As soon as I woke up, my husband phoned to see how she was, to which the reply came “Oh, they’re still asleep!” She didn’t actually wake up until 9:30am. Why does this never happen at home?! When she eventually did get up, she was so full of the excitement she didn’t even mention us or miss us, and when we turned up later she barely acknowledged us! Did this tug at my heart strings? No it didn’t at all. What I’ve learnt from this is that I needed to let go a bit, and realise that even at 3, I’ve made a little person with her own thoughts and opinions (and boy are they strong ones!) so this is all just another part of her growing up and the learning curve that is being a parent. She’s already got 2 more sleepovers booked in over the next few weeks, has practise packed her Trunki on a daily basis and is looking for us to buy a second one for her beloved ‘Bunny.’ Her poor brother also gets laid in her bed so they can play sleepovers too!

I’m not sure that I’m ready to go off on some Caribbean holiday without the children, I don’t think I ever will be until they’ve left home themselves, that’s not why we had children, but I do feel like I’ve gone through a rite of passage now, getting the first sleepover out of the way! And if they really are that much fun perhaps I should be indulging in them myself now I know the kids’ll be ok, where’s that five star hotel brochure?!

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The Perfect Housewife?

I’m a working mum. I’ve accepted that this is the way things have to be, and am lucky that I actually enjoy the job I do which makes things a whole lot easier emotionally when what I’d really like to be able to do is stay at home all the time with my children. Often on a day off I don’t feel like this as I’m being trampled upon, badgered to go to the park in the pouring rain or finding myself engaging in a conversation with my 3 year old as to why getting the paints out in the middle of the night is not a good idea, but ultimately I love this part of my life.

The bit I find the most difficult is juggling to the two. Working three long days, and being home four, I feel that I still need to be the perfect housewife, that on my days off, my husband should get in to a house of calm, that has been cleaned and smells of fresh bouquets, while the children have played happily, followed by a delightful home cooked meal which we sit at the table and eat, with perhaps some cookies that the children have baked as a special treat before bed. That’s how it happens in the movies isn’t it?

Instead, my poor husband generally arrives home to a house where it looks like a tornado has gone right the way through the lounge, that smells of poo because I’ve forgotten to take out my 1 year old’s nappy, and we can’t sit at the table to eat our dinner because it’s covered in the painting that the children have done, and the dried on porridge that I haven’t noticed from breakfast. At this point, the children are usually watching tv while I run around trying to cover up my hopelessness as a housewife!

Obviously the children play a large part in why I don’t get the house spick and span (does anybody actually use that phrase any more?!) along with work. Just this morning I got an email detailing several hours worth of work that I will need to do, and I have to fight the temptation to sit down and do this work, but it’s my day off, and I neither went part time in order to work for free at home, nor did I do it to clean the house. I went part time so I could enjoy the precious few years I have with my children before they start school. It felt like this would be a very long time, but having submitted my daughter’s school application last week, I don’t know where the time has gone at all.

Sometimes people do come to my house and tell me I’m doing a great job. I smile graciously, but don’t tell them:

  • I iron by hanging the clothes up when wet, then sitting on them and patting them down when they’re dry
  • Baby wipes are my multipurpose cleaner – I don’t know how I ever survived without them!
  • The beautiful ‘art wall’ is only there to cover up the children’s literal understanding of when I said ‘Wouldn’t it be good to have our very own wall with all your drawing on it?’
  • Most of my polishing is done by blowing the dust away
  • My daughter gets more use out of her play cleaning set than I do out of my real one
  • Those randomly placed stickers that I blame my children for, were actually put there by me to cover up a multitude of sins

So I’m not the perfect housewife, it’s always one step forwards, two steps back, and I’d love to know how people do manage to achieve this domestic bliss. Answers on a postcard please! I’ll leave you with this photo. The room was immaculate. I went for a wee, then came down to this – I don’t stand a chance!

Fitness Friday – Week One

I’ve been a very poor blogger this week, actually, scrap that as I’ve not been a blogger at all! My intentions of having lots to say went out of the window the day I returned to school and realised how much work I should have done during my time off. Despite only having worked two days last week, I so needed the weekend to arrive!

However, I decided to be part of Fitness Friday, so don’t want to get left out before the end of the first week! You can read in my initial post my reasons for wanting to lose weight, my targets and how I was hoping to achieve them. I have to say this is the toughest eating plan I’ve ever done in my life, and I certainly didn’t feel ‘great with a newfound sense of energy and wellbeing’ as the plan promised! It warned me that the first three days would be ‘tough’ but if I stuck with it, by day 4 I would be able to feel big improvements. Well…

Determined as I am, I made sure that I had all of the right ‘healthy’ ingredients ready to begin on New Year’s Day. After being a gluttonous pig over Christmas, I was more than ready to start eating healthily. I got up and prepared my oatbran for breakfast, and all was fine. Essentially, this diet cuts out carbs for six weeks, then begins to reintroduce them slowly so you don’t balloon again. Being vegetarian, I’ve always relied on carbs to help me through when dieting, so I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, so post breakfast, I was literally waiting for the ‘toughness of the first 3 days’ to kick in, but all seemed ok, right the way through the first three days. This is when I started to get smug, and consequently where it all started to go downhill!

Day 4 was my first day back at work, and also the day that the plan seemed to hate my body! I think I’d spent the first three days living off the excess Quality Street that were living in my system, and those supplies had relinquished by day 4. Consequently, I was tired from a 6am get up and going back to work, and irritable from sugar deprivation and PMT, I had a headache, was out of breath after walking up the stairs, and hubby quite rightly described me as a ‘moody cow!’ I think I escaped pretty lightly, I was evil!

I survived that day at work, and because I’m so determined, I didn’t give in, but by day 5, none of these feelings had gone, so I caved in, and ate a slice of toast and a banana! Within about 20 minutes I felt fine again, and I didn’t put on 3 stone as a result either!

As for exercise, well I went back to the gym. I hate exercise, but I know that I need to do it, and we feel it’s important that our children grow up to think of being fit and active as a normal part of life, so I decided I’d try running. I’ve always wanted to be able to run, but my ample chest and lack of a good fitting sports bra have always put me off a bit, but I got a beginner’s running plan and onto the treadmill went I! I managed just over 3km on my first run (well most of it was huffy puffy walking but we won’t split hairs!) and I ached for days. I also got a few strange looks as I couldn’t find my water bottle, so ended up having to use my son’s Tommy Tippee beaker to keep me hydrated! The second run was much better though, so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be running a marathon!

I guess really, I need to decide whether all that was worth it. I’m sure the saying goes ‘everything comes at a price’, so if I want to lose weight, I’m going to have to be disciplined. I decided not to weigh myself every day, so I had to do it about seven times when I actually had my official weigh in, because I couldn’t believe my eyes – 7lb in 7 days! Yes I know I won’t maintain this (though wouldn’t it be great if I did?!), I know most of that was water (and Quality Street) and that it’ll slow down. It was a challenge but 1) It worked, and 2) I’m still alive, so was it worth it? Hell yeah! Here’s to next week, fellow Fitness Fridayers!

Good luck! x

You know you’re a three year old when…

I had some lovely feedback about my post yesterday (yay, thank you!) and having had a relatively good night’s sleep I was in far brighter spirits and a lot more receptive to some of those times when you just wish you could be a three year old again. Don’t they just live in this perfect world?! It’s no secret that we all love watching Peppa Pig in our house, but my daughter honestly thinks that this is the way the world works! Over the last couple of days, I’ve seen quite a bit of evidence of this. From the evidence I have, I can conclude that you know you’re a three year old when…

You can feel better by simply giving someone else your germs. Having been sick during the night, Evie was still feeling poorly. She’d been off her food and I caught her drinking her brother’s drink. When I asked her why she wasn’t drinking her own drink, her response? “Well I’ve decided I don’t like being poorly any more, so Harry can have my germs instead!” How kind, almost as generous as the time she gave him chickenpox for his first birthday…

Everything has a simple explanation. On the way to pre school this morning, Evie asked if she could sit in the front of the car. I explained that she wasn’t quite big enough. She replied with: “Well I sat in the front when I was in your tummy and I was much smaller then!” How do you react to that?!

It’s just a funny coincidence that the chicken you eat and the chicken you feed at Grandma’s house are called the same word. As a vegetarian this stirs certain uncomfortable feelings, but I’ve never brought the children up vegetarian as I feel it’s a choice that I made, and if they’d like to be vegetarian when they are older, I want them to have made this choice. I do find the fact that she finds this coincidence of words though quite amusing. It just doesn’t occur to her that she could be eating little Hetty’s distant cousin! She also thinks that eggs come from Sainsbury’s not chickens!

Your biggest career aspiration is to become a tooth fairy. I witnessed a little gem of a conversation a while back between Evie and her friend. This was no flippant comment, they went through all the different ideas. Apparently being a teacher could be fun because of all the bouncing on the trampoline (which is what we do all day clearly), something they got to do when we took them in for a couple of hours on GCSE results day back in August, but they rejected it, as they did becoming a receptionist and working in a coffee shop, in favour of being a tooth fairy, because this way they get to stay up all night. I’ve been looking to see if Hogwarts have any vacancies for next September but I’m yet to hear back!

Chocolate money is more valuable than actual money. I guess this needs no further explanation, if you have a child of any age, I’m sure this will ring true. I just wish that it were true, wouldn’t it be amazing?!

I could go on all day, totting up the hilarious anecdotes my daughter has managed to rack up, but I’ll stop here. Feel free to add your own to the bottom in a comment though, we can always do with a giggle and I’m sure I’m not just speaking for myself when I say it’s usually it’s the things our three year olds say that make us laugh most! Thanks for reading, I’ll enjoy reading yours!

Call Me Old Fashioned…

Having children just makes Christmas such a magical time. I grew up in a very small family. No siblings, not even any cousins and the only child in my family. This meant that although I looked forward to Christmas, and tried my hardest to be good to ensure that Santa made an annual stop at my house, there weren’t really that many things that made Christmas different to a normal day, apart from perhaps a posh tablecloth at lunchtime! I had no problem with this and still don’t, but being from a very small family, I did often dream about lively, big family celebrations at Christmas.

I am, however, running the risk of deviating here, as the point of my post is what makes us ‘feel’ festive. There’s certain, fairly superficial things that give me that little excited flutter, such as seeing the Coca Cola advert, or lusting after the gorgeous party dresses that come out at this time of year, but there’s really only one thing that makes Christmas ‘real’ to me, and that’s Christmas Carols. Everything else starts too early now in my opinion, with people putting their Christmas decorations up as soon as Halloween is over, but generally Carols are only heard when Christmas is relatively close.

Being musical as a child, I always took part in school concerts, and it was the final rehearsals in the school hall that always got me feeling festive. Now I’m the teacher, and it makes me so sad that Christmas Carols aren’t part of the build up to the ‘Winter’ holidays, not Christmas holidays. Unless a school is a Christian denomination school, it’s no longer part of a child’s curriculum. I was doing a lesson with a Year 8 class a couple of weeks ago about how musical composers can create different effects when they write music. I decided to play them a variety of different songs which were written for Christmas and their task was to identify how the composer had successfully made it obvious that the pieces were written for Christmas each time. One of the pieces I played them was ‘Silent Night.’ I was astounded when some of the class burst out laughing at the absurdity of their teacher playing them this. It was almost like ‘what has this got to do with Santa?!’

However, tonight is the night of our school Carol Service. It’s held in the biggest church in our town centre. I wonder why the students have such a resistance to it? I have a choir of about 40 students, and around the same from our partner primary school, so with readers etc. there will be about 100 students involved, and although they’re focussed, and looking forward to it, this was definitely not their default setting! For me there’s nothing more festive than hearing the children all singing together. I’ve got the primary school doing a rendition of ‘Little Donkey’ Our choir doing a version of ‘Silent Night’ and some soloists doing ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ along with all the classic carols. As long as I don’t bum all the accompaniments or trip over a lead or something, I’ll be buzzing with ‘festiveness’ tonight and I know the students will too.

For me, you can’t beat a bit of ‘Away in a Manger’ or ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing.’ That for me is the most Christmassy thing of all, and I will convince the youth of today that it’s a very special time too!

Whiter than White…

I promise I’d never do a blog post on the same topic two days in a row normally, but I haven’t had the chance to express my glee over this much snow for – oh yeah – ever before, so I’m going to make the most of this. I’ll probably be a grandmother before the next opportunity, unless we ever do take the plunge and move up north!

We’ve had two snow days now, and have had the most fun as a family that we’ve ever had. Evie seems to think that we’re the only people who have had snow, and that in fact, it fell exclusively into our garden. This is despite the fact that we braved a 2 mile drive to the local common, where everyone was out doing what you do when you see snow – reverting back to childish innocence and having pure, unspoilt fun!

Like I said in yesterday’s post, I’m really sorry for the upset and problems that the snow has caused some people, and all my rants on here are in jest, but we just don’t get snow very often, so it’s amazing for us. Here’s why:

  1. We had to cuddle up together to keep warm…
  2. We had rubbish photos from dodging snowballs…
  3. We sledged first the girls…
  4. And then the boys…
  5. And then together…
  6. Then we built a snowman…
  7. Took shelter…
  8. And finally decided it was perfect weather to have a quick bounce before snuggling up in bed!

So we’ve frozen, the house looks like a mud bath every 5 minutes, I’ve probably put on a stone in weight from excessive hot chocolate consumption, my Lovefilm viewing has been stalled due to problems with the postal service and, most crucially, I may have to do my own supermarket shop this week, rather than have Mrs. Waitrose do it for me and deliver it to my door (shock horror!), but I’ve spent the last 48 hours acting like a big kid, and my children have had fresh air, family time and nonstop smiles and laughter, so who cares?!

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