Sunday, 22 May 2016

From stressed to blessed

When I get stressed I'm going to remember I'm blessed.

The crumbs on the carpet indicate that we have plenty to eat.

Toys strewn about the floor tell me that I have children who play and have fun.

My bathroom looking like a swamp reminds me that we have clean, running water inside our home.

Shouting and arguing are the signs that my children are free to express their emotions in a safe space.

Piles of clothes needing to be washed or folded also keep my family warm and dry.

Always having rooms to clean means we have plenty of space to live - if not time to clean it.

It's difficult to see the positives right now, but I'm making a promise to myself to try.

After all, I have so much to be grateful for. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

I'm a walking...

I went for a walk yesterday evening to clear my head. I find that by the time I'm walking back up the hill the original thought has long passed and I'm pondering less stressful matters. By the time I got home I was almost ready to celebrate the little things that have cheered me up recently.

Brown Bear really enjoys forest school and Blue Bear is fascinated by insects and minibeasts so I bought this insect and bee house for the garden. It doesn't have any occupants yet, but we are keeping a close eye to see if any take up residence. 

Neo loves the sunshine and it's one of my favourite pastimes to try and spot him during the day. Thanks to the overgrown front garden it took me a little while to spot him at the weekend.

This is possibly the most beautiful cinema foyer I have ever seen - it's the Picturehouse on Shaftesbury Avenue and I'll definitely be going there again. 

Brown Bear is obsessed with Star Wars and at the weekend we went to a Star Wars party. I love this action shot of him with the entertainer.

This really baffled me the other day. When we visited Kerala we were greeted at the hotel with fresh coconut with a straw in the top so we could have a drink. The natural step from all that faffing about cutting a hole in the top is - of course - to add a ring pull. Isn't it ? No it's not.

Anyway, just thought I'd share :)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

I went to Cornwall and found my bliss

As a family we absolutely love visiting Cornwall, so when my lovely friend Pippa told me she was arranging a Mama's retreat I was very interested. It's my birthday soon and Hubbie asked if I'd like to go as an early birthday gift. He booked annual leave to do the school and nursery runs and assured me it would all be fine if I went. So I packed the car on Tuesday and tuned into Radio 4 for the 5 hour drive to visit my lovely friend Penny the night before the retreat started.

I've spent three days child free and enjoyed the company of friends old and new. I've been nourished in so many ways: physically with a facial, a massage and reflexology, emotionally by taking time for myself and actually with wonderful food. I'm feeling so blissed out I wanted to share some photos to give you an idea of what the experience was like.

We ate delicious vegetarian food:

Pea and Mint Fritatta
Courgette and lime cake 

We created things from nature:

Lovely inspirational messages

My interpretation of the cove

We walked and admired the beautiful Prussia Cove:

Off for a meditative walk

It's a stunning place 

A bit steep 

We enjoyed a lovely, relaxing yoga practice:

A beautiful room for yoga

Pink flamingo nails 

I've come home energised and refreshed and am looking forward to seeing my beloved boys in the morning. I can't believe I was even worried about going !

I hope the bliss lasts.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Presenting my boys - the Indestructibles

Following the drama of Blue Bear sustaining a head injury earlier in the week I thought I was done. Then on Friday afternoon I had to deal with Brown Bear shoving a sticking plaster up his nostril, which as an airway required medical intervention. Sort of. I wasn't going to spend my Friday evening at A & E so I decided to take Mum action. Nostril free of obstruction I hoped to catch a break. What was I thinking ? These are my boys we're talking about. 

They think they're indestructible. 

And that's the problem. I'm currently channelling fear, panic and guilt because I'm booked in for a two day retreat this week. Is it completely irresponsible to leave my boys behind and go away to sleep alone, meditate, be creative and practise yoga ? Don't get me wrong, I'm excited that I can go to the toilet without someone asking me where I am or following me in crying because I left them alone for 20 seconds. I can sit and read, or write, or do nothing at all instead of waiting until late at night when the kids are asleep and I'm tired and drained of energy. 

Hubbie is taking care of the Bears and the cat while I lounge around, sleep in, have a facial, a massage and reflexology. I trust him completely - he's a fantastic father. The problem is the kids have no concept of danger. They throw themselves headlong at things, off things, into things. We barely keep them alive when it's two of us doing it. When we're a (wo)man down the stakes are just too high. Parenting my 5 yr old and 2 yr old is a constant cycle of running interference, being one step ahead and being able to stand the sight of blood (or worse - have you seen a plaster come back out of a child's nostril ?) when you've misjudged it. 

The so-called parenting experts (Supernanny, Gina Ford) made great claims about what parents should do without having been parents themselves. They gave credance to their rules and advice by insisting that they had cared for many children over the years. Yes, cared for. Been paid to look after. Not been subjected to 24 hours a day - day after day - of relentless tantrums, fighting, food refusal, selective hearing and seeming desire to break the people charged with keeping them alive. We do this because - despite everything - we love our kids.

Movie treats for Mummy & Son

This weekend I've been spoiling Brown Bear to help boost his 'Mummy love tanks' (it was in a book about love languages - stop looking at me like that.) Movies, popcorn, ice cream, lots of attention just for him and Hubbie has been spending time with Blue Bear. I had hoped that it would be special and wonderful and we would connect and he'd see that I love him so very much. At times he is so jealous that it feels like I can't do right by him. He demands all my attention and deems any time I don't devote to him as neglect or proof that I love his brother more. 

So, this magical Mummy / Son time I envisaged just didn't happen. He carried on as usual and I felt like I'd been taken for a dope. I can't point to one thing as there is so much, but the overriding one is he just won't listen. You warn him not to run in the house just as he slams into a door and screams like he's lost a limb. You ask him not to stick his foot out to trip up his brother and then he stubs his toe or Blue Bear bites him in retaliation. Cue another bloodcurdling yell. He emits a series of high pitched squeaks and squeals - much like a human fax machine. This is the worst as I have hyperacusis and every sound is like a fine knitting needle being pushed into my ear. 

I'll be getting an honest to goodness break from being Mum. Hubbie gets to experience hell for three days without his wing (wo)man. So I'm taking my time out with good grace and gratitude. Yes I'm very, very lucky. I'm also realising that I deserve it. I mean the boys are still alive aren't they ? That's got to be worth something. 

Thank you Hubbie. I love you. I wish you luck. If you need me I'll be chanting in Cornwall. 

Om Shanti

Friday, 6 May 2016

In at the deep end

The Big Idea:

I know I'll take the kids swimming after school. Hubbie has a thing after work so he's going to be out until after their bedtime. This way I can tire them out and make sure they conk out and are washed all at the same time. I am a parenting genius. (high fives self)

The Preparation: 

Ok, I've got all the swimming kits in the car. I've been to vote already so that's taken care of. Have to make sure everyone has eaten as soon as they get home from school and have packed snacks for the inevitable post swimming cry of, "Mummy I'm hungry." Check off all of the above.

The Mission: 

So, the boys are fed. Well sort of. Brown Bear scoffed the pizza he made at school today, then ate both hot dogs I put on his plate. Blue Bear deconstructed his hot dog and left it on the plate looking like it had undergone a forensic exam. I've told them they can wear crocs to the pool as I know it's faster to put them on than socks and shoes and I need all the time savings I can get.

The Success Part:

Oh this is wonderful, the boys are splashing around and having fun. Brown Bear can jump confidently in at the deep end and is doing forward rolls in the water. Blue Bear is having a whale of a time practising how to get in and out using the steps and jumping up and down in the small pool. I've totally nailed this. I can't believe I was even worried about taking them on my own. Bring on the awards, Mum of the Year right here folks.

The Failure Learning Part: 

Ok, it's time to get out now boys. No you can't jump in just one more time. I've said it three times now. Remember what we talked about before we came to the pool about listening first time ? Under the showers please. Hold onto my hand Blue Bear. (He slips and falls. Screaming ensues). It's ok baby. I know it hurts, I'm sorry. Oh that is a nasty bump isn't it ? Let's go and get an ice pack from the lifeguards. I know your tummy hurts Brown Bear. Go the the toilet and you will feel better. Ok then go again and see if it helps. I'm going to get an ice pack and I'll be back. Can you get dressed while I'm doing that please ? (Ice pack administered). Brown Bear what do you mean your pants are wet ? Did you put wet trunks on top of them by mistake ? Well, that won't do you any harm, I promise. Let's get going home shall we ? I know your tummy still hurts. Maybe it'll feel better when we get home.

The Afterparty: 

Who wants Haribo snowmen and who wants the stars ? Yes I think they will help your tummy. Definitely. You've both been so well behaved at the pool it's a treat to say thanks for helping me. (and bribery to stop crying of course). It's ok Blue Bear it's almost time for bed. Yes you can watch Peppa Pig until you finish your milk. Brown Bear why is your towel still dry ? Did you have a shower at the pool ? Are you sure ? Well, have one now please just to be safe.

The Guilt:

What if Blue Bear has concussion ? Goodness I've had wine, if anything happens I won't even be able to take him to the hospital. I hope Brown Bear doesn't throw up in his bed. I'd better check on them every ten minutes. I'm such a rubbish parent. Not fit to care for my lovely, wonderful children. What if they decided we're incapable of keeping Blue Bear ? I don't know who 'they' are. Anyway, I have to make sure they're both alive and well so that when Hubbie gets home he doesn't suspect I've broken them.

The Confession: 

I'm sure the sausage chappati was delicious. Did you have a good evening Hubbie ? Good. Yes the boys are asleep. Yes I broke the baby, but to be fair he slipped and fell. Brown Bear always swallows loads of pool water, but I think it was worse than usual today. I suspect part of it was that Blue Bear was injured and Brown Bear wanted some of the attention too. Anyway, now you're home we can take turns in doing the concussion and vomit check.

I think I'll go back to swimming on my own tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

May the fourth be with you

It's all about Star Wars in our house these days. "Mummy can I play with the lightsabers please ? " is a frequent cry I hear from Brown Bear.  As he grows up he will realise the significance of today.

I've gone retro because, let's face it, they're the best ones anyway. If you need me I'll be in the kitchen with cinnamon buns on my ears :)

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Treasure in the garage and other discoveries.

So it's a bank holiday weekend and that's three days with the kids at home. The football season is now over so I haven't even got the day off when they go to watch non-league games with Hubbie. Today I had a few simple ambitions. I wanted to go swimming as a family. I wanted to get the new garden swing chair built and to have a nice family meal together.

This morning Hubbie took the boys to stay and play and I presented my radio show. We all got home and as it was sunny ate lunch outside in the garden. For some reason my boys decided this was how they wanted to be photographed.

I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to make my garden a haven in which I could relax and enjoy the warm weather. I've already refused to have a trampoline (advanced kiddy prison) as it would ruin the aesthetics of the garden. That's why taking holidays at Coombe Mill is so fab, the kids get to do all the trampolining and zip wiring they want to when they're there. It is still filled with kids stuff though. A den, a slide, a swing, a pirate ship (well the cat loves that too, so double bubble) and various bikes and paddling pool toys. So, in the last two weeks I've bought some things to make my garden a grown up space too. Today as Hubbie started to assemble the swing seat I thought, "ooh I can clear the garage," and proceeded to empty everything onto the drive. Big mistake. Huge. 

As soon as all the contents of the garage were out in the open the rain came down and we had to rush to get everything into the dry again. The upside was that Hubbie found a Sega megadrive and when Brown Bear spotted it he yelped, "Sonic" in delight. I found a DVD player to replace the one we have that appears to have given up the will to live. As a result Brown Bear was watching DVDs while I prepared dinner this evening. Blue Bear was a laugh riot during dinner - at one point I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face and Brown Bear asked Hubbie what was going on. Blue Bear acted the goat even more when he saw the reaction he was getting.

After dinner we were tidying up and Hubbie was testing the Sega to see if it would work. As we stood in the kitchen I asked him where Blue Bear was. He spotted him at the front door. I went to see what he was doing and he was halfway out waving, "Bye Bye" and barefoot. Hubbie asked if he was leaving home and I said, "Probably, he has his car keys with him."

There are days when my boys bring such joy, laughter and bafflement. In case you're wondering why the latter. This morning I spotted Neo drinking this manky water in the garden. Clearly the filtered water I put into his drinking bowl is just not 'street' enough.

However you're spending your bank holiday I hope you enjoy it.