Back to Basics

As my husband and I are both teachers, the school holidays are always a special time for us, and we well and truly caught the travel bug a couple of years back. We love going places  and like to have a trip booked. This half term was the first school holiday in a long while that we decided to stay at home. At first it felt like we were wasting an opportunity, but as the children seemed to get more and more tired as term went on, we realised that actually it was a sensible decision.

I have no problem whatsoever with lazy days, in fact, I get a real buzz out of knowing that I have a day ahead where I can eat breakfast at 10am in my pyjamas if I want to, but 9 days straight with no plans?

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I saw this photo on my Facebook feed the other day. It could be either of my children, I’m not going lie – they love their screens, but I think in all our business, I’d forgotten some of the basics which the children still enjoy doing. They seem so grown up compared to the little bundles I gave birth to, but they’re still children, and there’s so many things that children still love:

A trip into town…

We’ve lived just outside Bath for over 4 years now, yet we’ve never visited the Roman Baths – famous history on our doorstep! Although we ended up having a nice lunch too and it therefore wasn’t a particularly cheap day, it was something we’d never done – no need to drive for hours!

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Cooking…

The routines we live by during the week really limit the luxury of taking our time to prepare meals. Working together to create something yummy was so much fun, especially as I am now aware that they can work almost completely on their own now.

Swimming…

My husband takes the children swimming most Sundays, but this week, I got out with them and enjoyed it too – having lost a bit of weight which you can read about here, I felt a lot more confident venturing out in my swimsuit, so hopefully I might get invited along again soon!

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This was taken last year in Turkey  – the only photo I have of the four of us swimming together!

Playing independently…

My husband and I were both talking the other day about how much time we spend doing things together, going away, even watching a family film or playing a game together – something that I’m sure many families try to do more of, but actually there were times this week when the children were quite happy to play together and it was lovely to see! Those toys that they got for Christmas came out of the boxes, the Lego got built, and despite how unimpressed they were at going this morning, they got all the cuddly toys out and played schools nearly every day! That imaginative, make believe play is something I want to bottle up and keep forever!

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All ready for register and assembly!

So if people ask me what I did over the school holiday, my answer will most likely be “not a lot,” but actually we did do quite a lot, it’s just we didn’t go away and with how refreshed I feel from having a rest, I’m ok with that!

 

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Little Miss Chatterbox?…

When my daughter started school I was proud, happy and excited. I blogged about her first day, and how I couldn’t understand why I would ever have wanted to cry or mark this milestone in her life as negative in any way. How could I feel like that when she was just so enthusiastic and optimistic about the whole thing?!

Even when she did her first play, or I was met with “Just stop asking me questions!”, “I can’t remember.”, or “Nothing.” In response to the “What have you been up to at school today?” question, my positive outlook on the whole thing remained.

But last week, I finally got my “She’s growing up so fast, she’s not a baby any more!” moment, when we had Parent’s Evening and her first school report! It suddenly hit me! While I was still very proud and smiley, this made me realise that I was going to someone else and they were going to tell me about my child. They may have been going to tell me things I didn’t know about my child. She now has a whole other life when she is at school and I’m not really a part of that life.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be part of that life, I think independence is really important, and whatever happens at school must be good, because we’ve not had a single day where she’s ever complained about going to school, or not wanted to go to school. She loves it. She woke us up at some unearthly hour (well actually it was 8am, pretty good for any 4 year old, but it didn’t feel it at the time!) because she was so excited about doing her homework. She can read and write and loves to learn.

As it was, her teacher confirmed pretty much everything that we already thought academically, and it also turns out that she’s not a chatterbox or a bossy boots which we thought might come up, she is instead “Always very eager to share her opinions, and her opinions are always very definite!” I wonder where she gets that from?!

So I’m not infallible when it comes to emotion after all! My daughter might not be a baby any more, but she’s my baby and that’ll never change!

What is This Feeling?

This was the day my life changed. Admittedly it was a few hours after this picture was taken, when this arrived…

It was the happiest day of my life without doubt, the day little Evie came into our world, but it was also the day when sleep became a luxury, and time to myself became a thing of the past. You don’t realise how rubbish the tv is at 3am until you’re stuck there watching it while this small but very loud being attaches itself to your nipple! However all too soon that phase was over, and I was back at work, but with a school of teenagers knowing that all they had to do to get out of a few minutes of a lesson was ask about Evie – of course I’d oblige and tell them. My life as a teacher, that part of me that was still ‘me’ wasn’t the same either, because it revolved around my precious bundle. I couldn’t stay late or get in early to clear work, and didn’t want to either.

Thankfully I had a secret up my sleeve so I knew it would be okay, because 23 short months later, this happened…

and three became four (this was literally minutes after birth, so please don’t look at my hair, puffy face, lack of make up…!)! Queue round two, a continued lack of sleep and me time! Then again, all too quickly, came the going back to work.

Finally, in September last year, I was able to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and become a stay at home mum, and boy have I loved it. Spending time with my boy has been really special, for both of us, and also made me wonder how on earth I had time to hold down a job with quite a lot of responsibility (obviously the fact that I was paying someone else over half of my salary to look after them while I was at work explain quite a bit but still!)!

Then this happened…

but today, I’m feeling quite emotional because this happened…

Yes, one hour ago, I dropped off my boy for his first ever pre-school session, and I’ve got some me time back. It’s not the fact that this is a milestone for him, which perhaps makes me sound slightly harsh, but he’s been to nursery before, he’s had lots of regular childcare when I was a working mum, in fact, he loved it so much, that I cried when he had his last day at his nursery before we moved to Wiltshire, and this morning he was so excited, and showed his lunchbox to anyone who’d look and listen (not a euphemism I promise!). Today, the emotion that I’m feeling is guilt. Guilt that I’ve wanted to be a stay at home mum, for so long, yet today, I am at home, childless. Guilt that my husband is working stupidly long hours to support his family, while I’m sat at home, not doing the job that I supposedly gave up work to do. He said to me this morning that this was a luxury for me, and perhaps I should be paying the pre-school fees, and while I know it’s tongue in cheek, we both know that our boy really loves the activities and independence that pre-school offer, it still makes me feel guilty that I’m on my own for four hours a week. Obviously I’m not going to stop during these four hours and they will fly by, but for now, drinking a cup of coffee while it is still hot or going for an uninterrupted wee are feeling quite strange and I’m not sure that I deserve such luxuries!

So I’m not quite sure why I feel this emotion, perhaps it’s actually quite a selfish way to feel, and that I should be thinking more about how my son is getting on, on his first full day. Maybe I’m feeling guilty because there’s no actual reason why I shouldn’t be looking after my son right now, whereas whenever they’ve been in childcare before, it’s been because circumstances have made it necessary and now they’re not. Maybe I’m feeling guilty because when I’m not looking after my children, the job role of ‘stay at home mum’ becomes a little redundant!

I’m not sure, maybe somebody else out there has felt a similar way to me at some point, or maybe I’m just a freak, who knows! I guess for now I’ll just have to prescribe the same medicine I’d prescribe to anyone else who was feeling slightly emotional – coffee and cake’s the way to go right?!

Moving On…

I actually can’t believe it’s over three months now since my husband, children and I moved to Wiltshire. In some ways it feels like forever, in others, I still feel like a complete newbie, but I guess it’ll be like that for a while! If you follow me on Twitter or read my blog, you’ll know that although not some huge emigration, moving to a different part of the country was a big step for us. We’ve always lived in Bournemouth, and all our family and friends live there too.

I think my son, at 2 was still a bit too young to fully understand what was happening, but my daughter got it completely, and I’m proud of her for being so well balanced and mature (yes, I know she’s only 4, but she really was!) about it all. A new house, new school, new friends and no family around takes some getting used to I’m sure, but she hasn’t been phased by it at all. She is thriving in her new school, she is always happy to go, and if the amount of Christmas cards we have hanging up that belong to her are anything to go by, she is very popular too!

My husband has had a very busy time in his first term at his new school, but again, he’s loving every minute of our new life (probably helped by the fact that since we moved, he has pretty much everything done for him at home, it was actually 8 weeks in when he asked me one day how to work the hob!).

So that’s my little family and they’re all doing great, which I guess brings me round to me, someone I feel a bit funny talking about. For me, the move was probably the biggest change, but it enabled me to spend more time at home with the children, which was something I’d been craving since I had my son. Being a teacher in a secondary school brings with it so much pressure and responsibility and I explained before, that I didn’t feel it was right for me to be doing that job now, when my priorities were so much different.

It was my old school’s Carol Service the other night, and afterwards, the lady that took over from me as Head of Music wrote on Facebook  how proud she was of her students for doing such a good job. It’s exactly the kind of thing I would have done too, but I was very very shocked by the way it made me feel.

Ever since I started blogging, I’ve written about my passion for teaching, how I perceive it to be a privilege to educate children and on a personal level, how I was an emotional mess when I came to leave my job after 10 years. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. The thing is, when I read on Facebook how the students had been fantastic after all the hard work they had put in, I just didn’t feel pangs and sadness (which I fully expected to) that I wasn’t there, and that it wasn’t me putting those comments on Facebook, and that they weren’t my students any more. All I felt was relief. Relief, that I hadn’t had to be the one putting in all the work. Relief that I hadn’t had to leave my family on Sundays to go to school for extra rehearsals. Relief that I had been at home that evening to read my children their stories, and relief that I had been able to sit down and eat dinner with my husband instead of having to write the reports and mark the books that had been put on hold until after the Carol Service and shows had been done.

So then I started pondering whether I really could have been that passionate about my job in the first place, if that’s how it made me feel. Perhaps I’ve just been saying what I think are the right things to say. Perhaps I’ve just been kidding myself and anybody else who listens all along?! But no, that’s not true. I did care, and I did love my job, I’ve just moved on to a new chapter in my life – the one where I get to be a Mum, just a Mum, and by leaving teaching, I get to put everything I’ve got into that. I’m more busy now I don’t work than when I did, I guess that’s why childcare is so expensive!

So yes I loved my job, but do I miss it and regret giving it up? Not for a second, and you know what, for the first time, I don’t feel guilty for admitting that either. Up until recently, I feared if people actually knew that, then they’d think I couldn’t have cared while I was working, or that I wasn’t as committed as I claimed to be. I am still in contact with a few students from the school through Facebook and email. I love hearing how they are getting on, I still care greatly and want the best for them in the future, but my life has changed, and for the first time, I don’t think of myself as a teacher any more, just a Mum!

34 and Counting…

No it’s not how old I am, I’m not quite there yet! It is in fact how many more get ups until the Christmas holidays! I thought once I’d given up teaching, the school holidays would be less of an excitement to me, but having just experienced my first school holiday as a non teacher, I’ve suddenly realised that those holidays aren’t put there for the teachers!

School holidays will always be a special time in our little family, because it’s a time when we are all together. We’re very lucky in that respect, as my husband will always be off work when the children are off school. It was so much fun to be able to do things together, sometimes planned, sometimes completely spontaneously, and after seven weeks at school for the first time, it was lovely for our daughter to finally be able to catch up on the sleep she was so desperately in need of. We had a full of week of no meltdowns over the smallest things!

In fact, even though I barely left the house the whole time due to the fact I was potty training our two year old, I still feel like I had a rest!

So now, as the husband and daughter go back to school for what used to be my favourite part of the school year, in the run up to Christmas, I’m already counting down the days until the lie ins and family time can recommence!

On the downside, that 1 1/4 mile, uphill walk to school this morning was an absolute killer, the lack of my 5 mile daily walk and overindulgence of yummy ‘we’re on holiday’ treats, have not done Project Doing up my Jeans any favours, so I’ve dug out my Slimming World manuals and today begins Project Lose a Stone before Christmas – unless there happen to be any Trick or Treat goodies left over of course… 😉

Meme: Music as Therapy

When I was at school, I had a part time job in a very posh, 5 star hotel. At one point, the food and restaurant were rated in the top 10 in the world (I was a chambermaid so I’m not claiming to have helped it achieve this in any way!). However, to celebrate, the staff were treated to an all expenses paid party, at which, the Head Chef did a speech. He said he was often asked what his favourite food was, and whether he cooked up his award winning cuisine for his wife and children. People were very amused when he said that the ultimate treat for him was if McDonald’s was still open on his way home, as he had never been able to resist a Big Mac and a chocolate milkshake.

So when the lovely Caroline at Five Kids and Counting tagged me in the Music as Therapy meme started by MammyWoo (whose blog I’ve subscribed to for ages), and I got all excited, I thought it also best to explain before you read any further, that I love music. I love it so much that I have a degree in it. I am also qualified to teach it, not to little children, but to big ones too. I have taught A level and worked as Head of Music in a secondary school for 10 years. However, and very disappointingly especially for my husband who has a real passion for serious music, I am the musical equivalent of that Head Chef. My taste in music is appalling. S Club 7 and JLS excite me. Even One Direction make me happy! I try I really do to be all sophisticated, and I am very open minded with a pretty versatile taste, but don’t go expecting too much here, and please don’t judge me!

So, the rules of the meme:

3 beautiful songs

3 different bands

3 sets of lyrics that touch you in any way you want to show.

1. As my husband and I have different tastes in music, the moment we both heard this song for the first time, and were both excited by this ‘new’ band, was a great one. We saw them together a good few times in small venues before they hit the big time!

Keane: Somewhere Only We Know

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I’ve been dreaming of?

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

And if you have a minute why don’t we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don’t we go
Somewhere only we know?

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

So if you have a minute why don’t we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don’t we go
So why don’t we go

This could be the end of everything
So why don’t we go
Somewhere only we know?

 

2. I’m sure that first dance at your wedding song is going to be a special song to a lot of people, and I’m no different. We’ve never been one of those soppy couples though, so this song was absolutely perfect for us. The first time I heard it, we weren’t even engaged, but I remember telling my then boyfriend, that if we got married (I may have said ‘when’ actually!) it had to be the first dance at our wedding!

Divine Comedy: Perfect Lovesong

Give me your love
And I’ll give you the perfect lovesong
With a divine Beatles bassline
And a big old Beach Boys sound
I’ll match you pound for pound
Like heavy-weights in the final round
We’ll hold on to each other
So we don’t fall down

Give me a wink
And I’ll give you what I think you’re after
With just one kiss I will whisk you away
To where angels often tread
We’ll paint this planet red
We’ll stumble back to our hotel bed
And make love to each other
‘Til we’re half dead

Maybe now you can see
Just what you mean to me

Give me your love
And I’ll give you the perfect lovesong
Give me your word
That you’ll be true to me always come what may
Forever and a day
No matter what other people may say
We’ll hold on to each other
‘Til we’re old and grey

3. Very few songs have actually reduced me to tears because of the words, but my final choice did from the very first time I heard it. My daughter was hours old. We came home from hospital, then the next day the midwife came round to do the routine visit, and she wasn’t happy with her hearbeat, so we had to go back to hospital again so she could be monitored. It was fine, and turned out to be a heart murmur that had corrected itself before her 12 week consultation, but for a first time mum of a 2 day old baby with a poorly heart, too many people telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and no sleep for the longest time ever, I was feeling very emotional and out of my depth. Then I heard this song, and whenever I hear it now I just have to pick up my daughter and give her the hugest squishiest cuddle. It’s our special song and always will be:

Melanie C: The Moment You Believe

Time to face what you are hiding from
Don’t have to do this on your own
Together we are strong
We don’t need anyone
No matter what they say the time has come

I’m ready now to start a new beginning
With all our hopes and all our dreams
And I know the stars will shine for you and for me
From the moment you believe

I know they think that I’m no good for you
But we both know that they’re wrong
Together we can fight
Show everyone we’re right
I don’t care what they say our time has come

I’m ready now to start a new beginning
With all our hopes and all our dreams
And I know the stars will shine for you and for me
From the moment you believe

When you believe there’s nothing you can’t overcome
When you believe the earth is brighter than the sun
I believe

I’m ready now to start a new beginning
With all our hopes and all our dreams
And I know the stars will shine for you and for me
From the moment you believe

It’s amazing, even writing this, the tears have started appearing in my eyes, thank you MammyWoo for starting this, it makes a welcome change from singing along to Team Umizoomi!

I’m going to tag a few of my new Twitter buddies, sorry if you’ve been tagged already…

@SuddenlyMum http://suddenlymum.com/

@apartyofseven http://www.familyjamesfive.typepad.com/

@Milla64 http://milla-countrylite.blogspot.com/

@JenniferJain http://jenniferslittleworld.blogspot.com/

@danielleGparker http://www.blogbybaby.com/

 

 

 

Small Criminal…

I’ve always liked to think of myself as being a relatively generous and honest person, so when I found myself last week, being detained in Boots on suspicion of credit card fraud (ok it wasn’t quite as sinister as that sounds, but until it was resolved, neither my credit card or I were allowed to go anywhere!) I was slightly uneasy about the whole thing! Luckily I was found to be perfectly innocent, and in retrospect, I have to hand it to MBNA because they were very quick on the uptake and had I been unlucky enough to have been a victim, they would have put a stop to it straight away.

It turns out though, that I’m clearly not as charitable as I thought I was, because it was a donation to Cancer Research UK through Harry Moseley’s (a hugely brave boy who tragically lost his fight against brain cancer aged 11) website that put the fraud people onto me. Apparently this donation was hugely ‘uncharacteristic’ of me, which doesn’t make me proud.

Despite this, you may have realised if you’ve read my blog before, and the title of this post, that I haven’t got to the point yet. The fact was, I wasn’t in Boots alone, I also had my daughter with me. Never deliberate over which anti wrinkle cream to purchase with a four year old in tow, unless you’re prepared for comments such as:

“But Mummy, the wrinkles on your face aren’t as bad as the wrinkles on your tummy.” or

“Mummy, that lady over there needs some as well!” at a volume slightly too loud for comfort!

By the time the credit card saga had been sorted, we’d been in the shop for well over an hour, and this is where I get to the point! As far as I was concerned, given the circumstances, she’d been fantastically behaved, so I bent down and told her so, and mentioned that I thought perhaps she deserved a little treat for her efforts. I wasn’t expecting cries of delight or grateful embraces, not even a cuddle, kiss or thank you. However I also wasn’t expecting the response I got…

“Mummy, I was thinking I’d been good too, and I thought you might say I should have a treat too – so I had a Kinder Egg!”

Cue an incredibly chocolatey hand emerging from her pocket! My little pickle had helped herself to a reward in advance while I was on the phone! So now, not only was I emerging as an uncharitable fraudster, I also had a shoplifting daughter. A far cry from the professional secondary school teacher that I was only 8 weeks ago!

I was caught totally off guard and didn’t know how to deal with it at all. Obviously I had to pay for it because it was working its way through her digestive system by the time I realised, but it was how to speak to her and what to say.

I remember as a child, helping myself to a few of the penny sweets that were on the counter, and my Mum dragging me back into the shop to return them and apologise to the lady, but I was older, probably twice my daughter’s age, and she wasn’t consciously deciding to shoplift, aged 4. In the end she said sorry to the lady for not asking if she could take it, and when we got outside the shop, we had a conversation about how she would feel if somebody took something of her’s without asking. She then asked me if a policeman was going to come and tell her off too! I think she learnt her lesson and understood how wrong she was, but what do you do in that situation? Is there a ‘right’ way to deal with it, or is it just another one of those learning curves for parent and child?! I just hope this isn’t a skill she tries to pass on to her brother, because given his current eating habits, I’m not convinced he’ll be able to deny it quite so effectively:

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