Saturday, 30 July 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

The Great School Holiday Challenge Week 1

You might have seen my post on the Great School Holiday Challenge where I wrote a helpful list of things to do this school holiday with the children. There were 42 things on my list, one for every day of the holiday. So seven days in the theory should be that I have crossed seven things off the list, right? Er, [mumbles a bit] well, you see there was a bit of a rethink where I considered the possibility of setting the bar too high in week 1 and leaving myself nowhere to go but downhill for the remaining weeks ahead.

So this was the week that was:

Day 1. Walked dog, did some shopping, weeded garden and hoovered. What? It's just a normal Saturday right?

Forced to watch TV
Day 2. Sulked because the Wee One had wailed so much the night before that I wasn't able to go to my friends anniversary party. Took it out on kids and 'made' them watch TV and tidy rooms. Three year old was not impressed. The Wee One whinged, a lot. Oh and an extra child arrived to spend the week with us :-)


Day 3. Sent the Big One and the Extra One off to football camp. Princess and I painted.

Day 4. Sent the Big One and the Extra One off to football camp. Princess went to nursery. I drank coffee and ate cake. The Wee One hoovered up my crumbs. But on a more productive note we made the "I'm Bored" Jar (well actually a box but the principle is the same. TICK ONE THING OFF THE CHALLENGE LIST!!! We had an amusing half hour where I asked the kids "If you were bored (which I know is highly unlikely), what fun things could you do?" It took a little prompting but they were soon in their stride. "Make a robot" "Paint a picture" "Find out about space on the 'puter" "Make a poo" !!! Duly written onto little pieces of paper these suggestions and many more are in the jar (box) ready for the next day (well not that surprisingly it was put into immediate use).

Day 5. Sent the Big One and the Extra One off to football camp. Princess went to nursery. I drank coffee and ate cake. The Wee One hoovered up my crumbs. Oh and because I am a glutten for punishment, The Big One brought another friend home for tea. 5 kids - no problem (reaches for gin).

Day 6. Bugger. No football camp. Oh well. Chased the Big One and the Extra One around Burghley Park on their bicycles whilst pushing pram and walking dog. Fab time, if knackering, had by all. TICK ONE THING OFF THE CHALLENGE LIST!!! Damn, that wasn't on the list.

Day 7. Picnic at the park where the Big One mostly sulked because none of his friends were there, where the Princess shone like a star with her friends and where the Wee One embarrassed his mother by stealing food from other families.

And so at the close of week 1 of the Great School Holiday Challenge I like to think that the children have had a fun time, that Mummy hasn't screamed at them too much and that the dog will eventually crawl out from under the bed.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The one where I release my inner child!

Because that little girl who was never too far away from a book or a pencil is still in there.

Given the choice (time), I would be writing or drawing or taking photos or making something. Easy.

But time is so hard to find. It eludes me. There is always something in the way. Something grown up and 'important' and BORING!

Except today. In rained. A lot. Big fat sploshy drops that land and then rise again, bouncing off surfaces to make more drops. From the sanctuary of the door step I watched as they fell incessantly.

I experimented with the settings on the camera trying to capture the scale of the drops and the splashes as they hit the table. I cursed not having a better zoom but continued to snap away revelling in the marvels of digital photography and the gift of being able to shoot 100 frames and delete 98 of them without having wasted money on films and developing.

The kids watched TV uninterested. I had to cajole them into their wellies to go and splash in some puddles. Princess's wellies sprung a leak. The Big One complained that his wellies were too small. The Wee One sat down.

I lifed my chin up high so the water could hit my face, not so heavy now but still raining. I stuck out my tongue to get a drink, licking my lips expecting saltiness but tasting nothing. I looked round to see what the children were doing. They were taking off their wellies, deciding that it was too cold and wet. Even The Wee One with his now sodden trousers looked back over his shoulder and I swear he sighed and shook his head.

I smiled. I executed a near faultless pirouette on the patio for no-ones benefit but my own. With my arms swinging out at my sides I felt the rain against my skin and then I too went indoors, the grown up resurfacing, remembering how frizzy my hair gets in the rain.

Thank you Josie at Sleep is for the Weak and her Writing Workshop prompt: Big Kids

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Mummy Mojo and the Great Summer Holiday Challenge

School holidays are imminent *pauses to breathe deeply* and I am getting more and more anxious as each day passes and the time comes when "I'm bored" and "I'm hungry" get stuck on repeat. I know I have been guilty recently of being a bit of a lazy parent, lacking in the 'entertaining the kids' department and probably relying on their self motivation and the digital babysitter a bit too much.

Through self counselling (read: giving myself a good talking to) I have recognised that I am a bored Mother. There. I've said it. I've lost my mummy mojo. Not quite sure where I left it but have so far searched the immediate area of the under stairs cupboard where most lost things turn up and the kitchen messy drawer without even a sniff. I thought I would look online and found some great retail therapy sites that all had a little something to offer in way of entertaining the kids which I have shamelessly borrowed but, regrettably, nothing on finding my Mummy Mojo.

I have decided on a two pronged attack. The first is to have a list of things to do with the kids (who are 6, 3 and 18 months) and then (assuming that they are suitably entertained and not screaming at each other or at me) find a bit of quality time for myself to work out why I am bored and what I can do about it.

So, stage 1: The list (because I do like a good list) of 'things to do' that can be called upon to fill the looming days ahead (all 42 of them *gulp*).

  1. Make an "I'm Bored" jar
  2. Paint paperweight stones
  3. Declutter toys
  4. Do a car boot sale selling of the decluttered toys
  5. Visit Burghley Water Gardens and Sculpture Park
  6. Visit Belton House Gardens
  7. Learn to ride scooters and balance bikes
  8. Go cycling at Rutland Water
  9. Refashion a T-shirt
  10. Read The Twits
  11. Go to see Cars 2
  12. Make a playlist for rainy afternoon ipod discos
  13. Camp in the garden
  14. Go to the outside pool at Tallington
  15. Go sledging at Tallington
  16. Go rock climbing at Tallington
  17. Make a scrapbook of the holidays
  18. Make a shell-stone-seaweed picture on the beach
  19. Play crazy golf
  20. Catch crabs
  21. Make a puppet
  22. Bake cakes
  23. Visit the Lincolnshire Home and Antiques Fair
  24. Make a junk robot
  25. Make multi-coloured popcorn
  26. Foot & hand painting
  27. Collect flowers to press and make bookmarks for Grandparents
  28. Go bug spotting
  29. Go fishing
  30. Make glitter jelly
  31. Make a theatre
  32. Put on a show
  33. Refurbish a bookcase for the boys
  34. Refurbish a wardrobe for the Princess
  35. Make a shoe tidy for the hall
  36. Sort old photographs into albums
  37. Watch the Railway Children
  38. Go to a museum
  39. Make a cut out comic book
  40. Go boating on Rutland Water
  41. Make garden decorations & wind chimes
  42. Blow the biggest bubble ever

I intend to do a little photo log of the school holidays by taking a picture a day of what we have done to amuse ourselves (family friendly of course for anyone sniggering at the back) and posting these once a week.

As for the second part of my two-pronged attack, well, I hope part one will force me into a bit of action and fend off some of the boredom but I will absolutely try to get some time off to work it all out.

Come back for regular progress reports.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Humphrey - The Gallery

I am going to give away my age now (and probably yours too ;-)) but who remembers Humphrey?

I've had this badge for more than *whispers* 30 years. I don't know why I've kept it but after every move it seems to pop up either in a jewellery box or attached to a bag. I 'found' it again the other day attached to an old work folder. For the life of me I have no idea how it got there so I can only reach one conclusion... Humphrey put it there.

Yes Humphrey from the Unigate advertising campaign of the 1970's.

That catch phrase "Watch out. Watch Out. There's a Humphrey about!" caught on in our household and we would have great discussions deciding what he looked like. Rumour has it he was quite furry and possibly pink although my brother was quite determined that no self respecting Humphrey, being the male of the species, could possibly be pink.

All I know is that he had a very long straw and a huge capacity for milk.

For nostalgias sake I found an ad on youtube. So if you do remember Humphrey, have a look and smile and if you were too young or out on your chopper tearing up the streets at the time, this was what it was all about.

Tara's prompt for The Gallery today is Vintage.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Dear So and So

Dear So and So...

Dear Money,

Just wondering but when you leave my account but you haven't arrived into their account, where the heck are you? I want you back! I NEEEED you! And now I have to wait 3 working days for you to arrive properly (presumably with a written invitation and wearing black tie) before you can be refunded. And guess what? I then have to wait another 3 working days for you to properly leave their account and arrive back into my account where you rightly belong. Hope you enjoy your trip wherever you are. Send a postcard!

Wearing out the redial key to the bank, Me


Dear Big One

I am so proud of you. Even though parents weren't allowed to come to your sports day yesterday due to lack of grass on the playing field (!), your 3 first places and 2 third places is amazing. I so wanted to post it on facebook but thought that would be gloating so (privately) very well done.

With big kisses even though I know you are starting to get embarrassed by it, Me


Dear Weather

Any chance you could make up your mind? There is only so much room in the basket of my pram for raincover, sun lotion, sun hats, rain coats, fleeces etc.

Wearing bikini under my macintosh, Me


Dear Car Rental Companies

Great idea, cheaper than buying a second car for the occasional weekend when we need two cars. But could you possibly reconsider the 'like for like' refuelling policy? Please explain how I am meant to return the car with the exact same amount of fuel as when I hired it, if it is not a full tank? I know. I know. I could underestimate and then get charged a super inflated premium rate for any shortfall (note: only you will 'know' that there is a shortfall and by how much), or I could overestimate thereby spending more than I need to anyway.

Knowing I am going to get ripped off, Me


Dear Wee One

Why are you waking up every night? Bored now.

Knackered, Me


Dear Tarmac

Thank you for 4 days of entertainment. Watching you scrape up our road like a hot knife through  butter was the best fun. And *whispers* we left a foot print in the new road.

Giggling, Me


Dear Princess

Please speak normally. The whining voice that you have recently been practicing is pretty much perfect and requires no more rehearsal time. Save it for when Daddy gets home.

Wearing earplugs, Me


Now pop over to 3 Bedroom Bungalow for more Dear So and So link ups.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Gallery - Travel

Tara's prompt this week for The Gallery is Travel which was a great excuse to browse through some old pictures for inspiration.

There was the memorable trip to Indonesia with two friends, one of whom wanted to really experience the country, the other who just wanted a hot shower. I was so with the latter. The former was set upon by a pack of monkeys while she tried to get a photo of an iguana. The monkeys were more intent on the contents of her backpack than her fortunately. Several hours later by the pool where friend 2 had spent the afternoon sipping G&Ts (sensible), we wrote to the insurance company explaining that her camera was somewhere up a tree in a reserve in Bali and should the camera be retrieved we would provide photographic evidence of the attack.

The Kenyan safari was another experience that was exceptional in its beauty and wildlife. Eight rolls of film, more hours in a jeep than I could count and a very numb bum, I would go back in a heartbeat.

But at this point in my life, travel for me is all about my kids and giving them the experiences that they will remember hopefully for more than one sleep.

So here is a shot of the Big One (on the left) and friend for their first ride on the top deck of an old fashioned bus in Norfolk clutching his newest, bestest toy, a shiny tractor.

He still remembers how scratchy the seats were!

Monday, 11 July 2011

On Beauty

Open your eyes.
Look around you.
Look through a photographers lens.
Just look.

I did this and watched my daughters golden hair swinging from side to side as she ran, in her own penguin like way. I wanted time to slow down so I could savour every lock catching the light, reflecting the sun. I wanted to hold the golden tones and feel them run through my fingers, sure that they would simultaneously be heavy and soft to my touch. The waves of her hair and its fluidity filled my heart. If I could hold them, I could keep them and save them.

I saw a feather drift through my back door on the afternoon breeze. Time was, I would have tutted and tossed it in the bin. Instead I held it up to the light and turned it into the sun transfixed by the amazing regularity of each barb and how the light was distorted as it passed through this simple, discarded piece of anatomy. Such uniformity creating the perfect tool with which a bird can fly and look down on me looking at it's feather.

It rained. The smell of green was wonderful, no beautiful. The earth gave up its fresh rich scent that held me, smiling, and sent me into the garden to touch leaves, lift flowers, brush raindrops from abandoned toys and reach into the sandpit to feel its cool dimpled surface. I didn't expect that. I didn't expect to be pulled outside. My bare feet, with grass and earth stuck to my toes, woke me and led me to get my camera.

Beauty is there to be appreciated. But there isn't always time to indulge in it.

I will make time.

Inspired by Josie at Sleep is for the Weak and the Writing Workshop .

Friday, 8 July 2011

A Mother's CV

You've probably worked at some point in your life, if not your whole adult life and you've probably got a CV (resume for anyone the other side of the pond).

What's on it? Nosey aren't I?

Mine has followed a career path in retail and strategy with a couple of High Street stores and a large global brand. The purpose of this post isn't to brag or tout for a new job (although that had crossed my mind). What I want to illustrate is that it is in the last 6 years that my CV would make the most interesting and diverse reading. It is no coincidence that The Big One is 6 years old.

So in a useful A-Z format a list of my career 'choices' in the last 6 years.

A is for Art Critic - Constructive criticism even though you have absolutely no idea what it is supposed to be.
B is for Barista - Well you have to take a coffee break right?
C is for Cook - Chef would be far too grand a word for beans on toast.
D is for Dictionary - A walking talking a to z of all those important words like 'tyrannosaurus' and 'bulldozer'.
E is for Entertainer - Not quite Britains Got Talent standard but a passable clown act.
F is for Friend - One that is easily forgotten in the disarray.
G is for Goalkeeper - Sometimes in the garden with a football and sometimes at the dinner table with roast potatoes.
H is for Hairdresser - Never thought I would have to master a french plait.
I is for Image Consultant - That pink t-shirt with those red jeans?
J is for Judge - All the evidence could be circumstantial of course.
K is for Knitter - Well I have needles and wool. Just need a few extra hours in the day.
L is for Librarian - Alphabetised or colour coordinated bookshelves?
M is for Mother - I wish it was that simple.
N is for Nurse - Administer of Calpol and plasters but really not very good with blood.
O is for Occupational Therapist - Who knew that cereal boxes and toilet rolls had so many uses?
P is for Psychologist - Just trying to work out what is happening between those 2 ears.
Q is for Quantum Physicist - A part time hobby you understand.
R is for Referee - Oh for a whistle and a red card.
S is for Story-teller - Although the number of times I've read the same book they should be able to recite it for themselves, surely.
T is for Teacher - Just got to keep one chapter ahead in the text book.
U is for Upcycler - Have you seen my post about the Butterfly Garland?
V is for Volunteer - So helpful when you find out your child has offered your assistance at the school fair.
W is for Washerwoman - What the? Which century are we in?
X is for Xtreme Housewifery - Bugger that. Who's for gin?
Y is for Youth Worker - For the days when they think they are teenagers.
Z is for Zoologist - Worm farms and tadpole tanks - blurgh!

I'm exhausted and the most over qualified housekeeper ever!

So what would you have on your CV?

"A woman wears many hats in one lifetime, why shouldn't one of them be a crown?"
Annie Jones

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Upcycle Butterfly Garland

Feeling a teensy bit creative.

It was decided (by me) that we (I) would make a cute butterfly garland for The Princess to hang in her bedroom.

Take one sheet of (used) wrapping paper, scissors, thread and paper glue.

Cut out as many butterflies as you wish (can be bothered to). It does help to have a steady hand and ensure that there isn't anything on TV you want to watch. Watch out for those tricky antennae (or whatever the correct anatomical name is for butterfly's sticky up bits).

Cut a length of string or ribbon (or in my case embroidery thread because the chances of me ever doing any embroidery are slim to nil).

Apply glue to the wrong side of a butterfly and lay the thread down the middle.

Find a matching butterfly. Ideally do this before you have applied the glue or, as you try to delicately turn the glue covered butterfly over to remind yourself what colour and shape it was, you will cover your worksurface and yourself with glue thereby increasing the degree of difficulty of the craft exercise by a factor of 10. I also recommend (from experience) that you do not try to do this on the garden table, as the slightest breeze can make it a tad tricky to keep your butterflies from flying off in all directions.

Apply the second butterfly directly to the first matching up the symmetrical shapes. (Did I mention that it helps enormously if the shapes you are cutting out are symmetrical so that when you stick them back to back you haven't got ugly edges sticking out).

Repeat with more butterflies at approximately 10cm intervals.

Allow to dry and hang decoratively at the window thus.

I thank you.