Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In the Festive Mood (sort of)

This week has had a very festive flavour, there was the visit to Lapland UK, we just managed to sneak it in before the snow began to fall. The children loved decorating a gingerbread man nearly as much as they liked eating them. They listened to the stories and put the elves horses back together. They tried out ice skating and discovered how difficult it was and finally had a private audience with the man himself. As we had supplied details about their friends and pets and so on the visit was personalised and the children's eyes really widened when they discovered that Father Christmas knew the names of their dogs.

Then the weekend was filled with a visit to Centreparcs. The place was decorated very festively and they had great fun spotting the trees, ducks and trees filled with lights shining brightly. On the Saturday we managed to complete a treasure trail, we had to find pictures of the reindeer dotted around the park. It took a while but we got there. Then we had lunch and ate the most enormous pancakes you have ever seen!

The afternoon comprised a pantomime, the children except Matthew, were enthralled, Matthew on the other hand became a little scared of the witch, scarpered to the lap of a friend and promptly went to sleep! We did manage to wear them out later at the festive disco and I have to say the kids all looked great, especially the little boy who was dressed as a giant present and still throwing some shapes.

Sunday dawned still cold but bright and we made our way to the next activity, a horse and carriage ride, sadly the horses had decided that the ice was too much for them and stayed in the stable so we had to visit Starbucks for comfort! This was followed by a visit to the swimming pool where the kids made the most of the slides and rapids although Matthew did manage to lose one of his new armbands before he left! Dinner was next and an evening filled with fun, laughter, chocolate and maybe one or two glasses of wine!

We all managed to get up in time for breakfast and check out and the journey home was less icy than the journey there, our biggest challenge being getting back onto our drive way. Then we spent the evening wrapping the children's presents and hiding the sacks so that 'Santa' can deliver then on Thursday night. All we have left to do now is build Heathers dolls house and rescue Matthews car from the shed where it has been hiding for the last few weeks!

Now for the sort of bit. Just two days before we went to Lapland and three before we went away for the weekend Lucy for a rather unexpected present, a plaster cast. She has managed to break her left leg. At dinner on Tuesday she decided to stand on her chair which rocked back, I was sitting opposite her and raced around to catch her, but was too late. It seemed as if her toe had swollen up and she was waving her leg about and after a cuddle and a phone call to Daddy and a dose of In the Night Garden she seemed calm and happy. The next morning however, she still refuse to bear weight on her leg and we knew something was wrong. Off to A & E I went while Mr T looked after the other two, I was fully expecting an X-ray and a strapping of some sort but when they showed me the picture of her leg I must admit I cried. I felt guilty that I had put her to bed in such a state and felt terribly. Lucy hadn't seemed distressed other than now racing about the place but even so it seemed such a bad injury for such a little girl.

We had to return to the fracture clinic on Wednesday and she was given a proper plaster cast. By Friday she had learnt how to manoeuvre herself about - she is crawling and bum shuffling about the place as if she wasn't in a plaster cast at all. We have to return to the fracture clinic tomorrow and I am hoping that she is beginning to make a good recovery. Whilst it hasn't ruined her Christmas as she seems so happy with life I feel awful every time I change her and get her dress her and on and see her poorly leg.

Still three sleeps and Christmas will be here...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chrsitmas Holidays are here

It hasn't seemed like five minutes since I last posted but of course time is galloping away. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed both of the children's Christmas performances. Matthew was an excellent Joseph and Heather performed Knees up Bethlehem with real gusto.

Their last week was filled with parties and fun things at school and term came to a close last Friday. One rather embarrassing event happened on the Wednesday. Matthew was invited to play at one of his new class mates houses. He was very excited, and became even more so when he was granted permission to ride with his very best friends car. There were quite a few of us going is I followed them when they parked on the grass across from the house. Big mistake! The car, thanks to all the recent rain became rather embedded in the mud, I wasn't going anywhere and the back wheels were not doing much to help, just as I feared I would be reduced to calling for a tow truck one of the other mums appeared behind the car and pushed... and pushed... and pushed. Eventually I escaped from the mud and luckily I did not suddenly shoot forward rendering my saviour in the mud and nor did anything but her shoes get covered in mud. The children played together beautifully and the house was terrific but I feared leaving, luckily I found a more stable piece of lawn to go over and managed to escape. The handling was rather light and I now know what it is to drive a character with the thud, thud thud of the mud clods falling onto the road as well as the give away wheel tracks behind me.

Still now the holidays are upon us, yesterday we decorated, (and ate) some gingerbread biscuits and the children did some festive colouring in, today we have lounged about and had a visit from a friend and tomorrow is errands day, then the excitement hots up. On Thursday we are off to Lapland UK to see Father Christmas and the elves and on Friday we go to Centreparcs for a long weekend.

Over the weekend we managed to get to a Christingle service, it is wonderful for the children and they loved collecting their decorated oranges and having them lit as they sand away in a manger, even I am beginning to feel a bit Christmassy now.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Here Comes the Silly Season

The shops have been full of tinsel, cards and carols on repeat for weeks now, and tomorrow, yes tomorrow is the 1st of December, therefore it MUST now be the official lead in to Christmas. The house is now full of decorations and the advent calendars await the eager little fingers of the children tomorrow. The tree is dripping with baubles, several of which have had to be put on several times as Lucy has removed them! There are bags full of presents for teachers, friends and family safely tucked into every corner of the house waiting to be wrapped, addressed and delivered and a mountain of cards to write.

Tomorrow is Matthews first ever school play, I must admit I am a little excited and also nervous. He is a very different character to Heather and usually delights in playing to an audience and tomorrow he will have a captive one. My hope is that he does as he is supposed to and shouts out 'S is for Santa' in the clear way he has been doing at home. Heather is driving me mad with Knees up Bethlehem and I am curious to see how this ditty fits into the nativity play she is performing in on Wednesday, and then in the evening I head off for the mums night out.

There is, of course, as Eyeore would know a black cloud on the horizon. I failed to allow the children to take their cards in on the very first day (today!) that they were allowed to. My argument I thought was plausible enough, you have to wait until the 1st of December and we had a hundred and one things to take with us today. Heather had to take her school play costume, then there was the swimming trunks she came home with that, unless she has had a sex change over the weekend certainly don't belong to her and then I had to take the school fair donations. BUT Heather came home with not 1, not 2, but 4 cards and with a triumphant edge to her voice declared; 'See mummy I told you I should have taken them into today!'

She then marched off to her room to put the cards on the string, there was another storm on the way, the string wasn't there! Having completely failed to keep the string from last year in a safe place it hasn't been put up yet. I did manage to get some today but with a kamikaze toddler on the loose it isn't really safe to be up a ladder with drawing pins when Lucy is about at the moment. Hopefully this dreadful error will be rectified in time for tomorrows delivery!

I have to admit one success, I managed to get into my possession 2 go go hamsters and a house for them to live in, and while I would still like one for Lucy so we can avoid world war 3 and a car for Matthew getting hold of the toys wasn't too bad, thanks to a fast finger and Argos reserve and collect. The odd thing was Heather hadn't even mentioned them and although I had heard of the uproar about the shortage I didn't really know what they were. I had been talking just that morning with fellow parents who were scouring the internet for them and feeling pleased that I didn't have to join in. My heart sank when on that Friday evening Heather came home and announced 'I want a go go Hamster, a yellow one because everyone is getting then and they're cool.' only to be echoed my Matthew who hasn't a clue what they are but wants one because Heather does!

Good luck to all parents attending school plays over the next couple of weeks, may you get a good view, your little ones behave and the performances go without a hitch!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Never Forget

Last night was filled with the sound of women baying for blood, the sight of bright sparking sequins and live music. Yes ladies, hold yourselves back for Never Forget a Take That tribute band took to the stage at the Brentwood Courage Hall. I grew up with the take that v East 17 debate and always plumped for Take That and although I did not ring the help line for counselling when they announced they were to be no more I was disappointed. The announcement they were reforming was exciting and now the prospect of Robbie appearing on stage with them is filling me with optimism. Pop anthems that you can sing along to as well as up tempo dance routines, what's not to like.

I have never been lucky enough to go to a Take That gig, when they were around the first time I was too poor and now second time around I was too slow to get tickets so the opportunity to witness a well reviewed tribute band wasn't to be missed. The downside was the panic that set in as I arrived and worried if it would be filled with women tne years my junior making me feel sad and old, I needn't have worried, there was a good range of ages in the audience, all of which were women.

The downside was I felt ill, I was dosed up on paracetomal and so dancing wasn't really on my agenda as my ankles, wrists and chest ached but even I was convinced to join in the fun by friends and the quality of the entertainment. I did have an 'I'm old' moment as I considered the disco a tad too loud but my sore throat was struggling to make even light conversation with the person next to me! My make-up was mainly to hide my paleness and my boots were knee length to hide the bruises my son had managed to give me the previous day. The upside, friends, glitter and good music.

The boys were great, not exactly look alikes for the real thing but not displeasing to the eye and they sounded pretty good, the energy with which they sang, danced and performed the acrobatics was impressive and the mix of songs showcased a great variety of songs. Would I go again? Yes but it definitely more a girly night, I am still awaiting the next tour dates though.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Time Flies

I realised today that I haven't posted in a long time, lots has been going on/
We survived the rest of half term with a Halloween party, a trip to the local farm and more craft work and a flurry of Disney Princess films as Heather and I were invited to go and see Princess wishes at the 02. It was nice weather for October and we even managed to get out into the garden a couple of times.

The highlight for the children was on the Sunday before school as we attended a Halloween party with a firework display at the end. The children were very excited but I was nervous, at the same event the previous year Matthew had gone into hysterics when the fireworks started and I had to go and and sit in the car with him. He had then had hysterics every time there was a mild bang anywhere near him!

This year, thankfully, was different, he couldn't wait to get out there and watch the bangs and enjoyed it immensely, Lucy clapped her way through the display and pointed to the sky repeatedly and Heather oohed and aahed along with the rest of us. We had a great time and so we were able to go and attend another firework party at a friends. The main problem with this was that the children seemed to have left their manners and good behaviour at home. They were greedy with the food that was laid out, spent most of their time racing about the house and counting to ten wasn't getting me anywhere! Luckily the fireworks distracted them and the sparklers were a hit. The thing they really loved however were the glow sticks. Florescent lights that you can wave about and so on, the kids (and adults) loved them.

Back to school proved to be a bit of an ordeal as Heather began to complain about her ear hurting, she has had numerous problems with her ears and it is unlike her to complain so, typically, on the first day back after half term I spent an hour and a half in the doctors surgery. Poor little Heather screamed and sobbed when her ear was examined and the end result was that her ear was congested but not infected, a return visit on Wednesday as she was still in pain yielded the same result and thus we left it. I was hoping to get her back to see her consultant as she may need to be checked over again but we have been advised that as this was a first instance of the problems recurring we will only be re-referred if there is another problem within a fortnight, I wouldn't mind but we have private insurance so it would actually cost us money not the NHS, she has already begun sneezing again and has acquired a more grey pallor than usual...

On the plus side I got a great mark for my first essay on my OU course, I have done the Christmas shopping for the children and have even managed to get Matthew's racing car that he wants and has mentioned every day delivered when he wasn't here, now just have to sneak it into the loft without setting off any of the noises!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Half term holiday

Half term is now half way through as it lasts a mega two weeks this time around. We had a rocky start as the children had head colds and the heating decided to go on strike, so the first two days were spent shivering as we waited to have a bit of heat. We did manage to do some crafty activities. The eldest two had to create a jar full of Christmassy things that will be collected and raffled off, so carrier bag from Thorntons at the ready I piled the table high with various craft buts. There were 3D decoration as templates and stickers, wool, crepe paper and so on and so on. They did a pretty good job of them, although Heather had to be persuaded that drawing Baby Jesus as a banana was perhaps not the best idea. The end results were impressive though, even if I do say so myself and most importantly we stuck to the rules and I didn't help them!

The next thing we tackled was some Halloween crafts, each child made a little cat with those wonderful googly eyes they seem to love so much and you folded its bottom into a basket, which if they are lucky may be filled up with some sweet treats.

The rest of the week was spent with a variety of study books, running about, walks in the autumn sunshine and a party. The kids have loved the attention and this week we have another plan, have a trip planned to the local farm and a Halloween party, as well as fitting in some baking and crafts.

The highlight for Heather however will be the trip to the 02 on Saturday to see Princess wishes on ice. She has been wanting to go for ages and now her wish has been granted, so to speak, she is going to dress up in her Ariel dress and Aurora shoes and will be in her element I'm sure. Half term does give me the opportunity to relax with the children rather than always marshalling them out of the door on our way to somewhere. Looking forward to the next few days.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Grown Up Weekend

This weekend was somewhat of a topsy turvey one for me, I spent lots of time without any of the children, and despite my initial fears that I may not be able to walk for long periods of time without a pushchair in front of me I found myself able to cope!
It all started fairly normally with a trip with Heather to dancing, and then instead of my usual solitary trip to Starbucks to write I was accompanied by Lucy, we still went to Starbucks and shared a cookie, then we went and found Halloween outfits!

Dancing finished we were homeward bound and then off I went to have my hair highlighted, current book in hand for 45 minutes of uninterrupted reading, not only that but I had a hot cup of tea and a biscuit without having to worry if the cup was out of reach of small hands and without having to share the biscuit! Back home to Mummy duty, this time a party for Heather, a very loud party and although they all enjoyed themselves, I had to confess myself somewhat glad, for my ears sake when it was finished, I guess that means I'm getting old although I am still with it enough to recognise most of the songs that were played at full volume!

Having managed to drive Mr T's car back in the dark and without stalling, it was a quick change, grab a trowel time for the war paint and off out again. The little two were in bed and Heather was watching Strictly Come Dancing, she did cry when I left and I felt a terrible twinge of guilt but I knew that when she realised I was going she would be OK with Mr T and enjoy having his undivided attention. Saturday night was spent, for the first time in ages, having a meal which was cooked for me, hot and where I didn't have to constantly tell children to sit down and behave! The night was passed with great friends and a lot of laughter and it was good to be me for a few hours rather than Mummy!

Sunday dawned bright and early as it was my turn to do the whole getting up thing. Once I had awakened Mr T with his tea and the children had jumped on him sufficiently I was off again - this time to the shops to try and re-vamp my wardrobe. Again no children in tow and it was odd entering the shops without the calls for a toilet stop, balloon or drink, and where was I going to out all the bags?
I revelled in the freedom trying on more clothes than was strictly necessary, just because I could and going into shops that I would normally pass lest the glare of the shop assistant as I enter with a buggy should cut me in half. Instead when I entered these shops I was positively welcomed and asked if I needed any help. As I wandered around I couldn't help noticing families at war, children whining and parents despairing. That's usually me I thought and was glad the children were at home having fun. I must admit I paid a trip to the Disney store and bought a small little something for them all.

By the time I got home my feet were aching and I was exhausted but as I entered the house and a shout of Mummy rang round the living room and I was accosted by two little people, the third being asleep in bed I was content. As lovely as it had been to go out it was even lovelier to come home to such a greeting. The necessary fashion show was performed and the gifts distributed. Mummy duty returned with a vengeance as the ironing pile threatened to reach the ceiling and took three hours to tame! I have to admit though I was rather tired, all this being an adult is a bit too much like hard work!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kids change everything

Last night I was suffering from insomnia and I started to thing about how life had changed since the children had arrived. Before they came I worked hard as a teacher striving to be the best that I could, I had a reasonable social life and didn't have to think too hard about saying yes when invited somewhere and I even had a disposable income, now the children dispose of the income, my social life consists of mainly providing a taxi service to various parties and clubs the children need to attend and while I still try my best, work, (writing) seems to fall down the list of things as the children create ever more jobs for me to do.

I have to admit that I never imagined I would be a stay at home mum, once Heather reached the grand age of 1, I found a part time teaching position and returned to work, she went to nursery and seemed to like it, then the trouble with her ears started and after having to frequently stay home with a poorly little girl I dropped from three days to one. The last straw came one day when I received a call to ask if she could be given some medicine, I consented and was told there was no hurry to come and collect her. Twenty minutes later another call came through to say that Heather had collapsed and an ambulance had been called.

I don't remember much of the drive to the nursery other than sheer panic, guilt and nausea, as I pulled in and saw the ambulance outside, the knowledge that it was for my child was crippling. When I got into the office she was huddled against a paramedic looking so small and helpless and reached out to me. It turned out she hadn't fitted, her ear drum had burst and she was in considerable pain, but from then on I knew that as soon as my maternity leave started (for Matthew was now on his way,) I wouldn't be returning to work.

I am lucky to be able to make this decision and sometimes however frustrating and mind numbing life seems I try to remind myself of this fact. I am also lucky in that I have good friends who have remained friends even though I have produced three children in four years and turned into even more of a lunatic than I was before they arrived.

On Saturday we went to the school open day and it was then that I realised how much I enjoyed being a mum, as we were wandering about I was chuffed to see examples of their work on the walls. Both Heather and Matthew had produced self portraits, Matthews was a large blob with some sticky up hair and some eyes and a smiley face, Heather, being two years older had produced something much more realistic and as I looked at them I could picture them. Heather with her tongue sticking out slightly as she concentrated on getting every detail, even down to the bow on her school dress just right, Matthew leaning on his knees if he could get away with it, pressing as hard as he could with his pencil and hunched over his paper, doing their best, the results now on the wall for everyone to see.

That's it I thought, that's what it's all about - doing your best. I do my best to keep the house tidy, they do their best to untidy it, I do my best to get them to places on time, they do their best to lose 1 shoe, hairbrushes or books, and I do my best to write every day and keep up with my coursework and they do their best to distract me with jigsaws, books to read and games to play. All in all though I wouldn't change it, - life is chaotic even frenzied at times with 3 against 1, and I am the first to admit that it sends you a little bit mad trying to keep up with them all but all too soon they will be at school all day and I will have all day to study and write and if I'm not careful I'll have missed them growing up with all the tantrums, breakages and slip ups along the way.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Having kids = red faces

I was reminded yesterday of the power of children to cause embarrassment to their parents. Walking home from school with a good friend and her children, my children and Mr T we were chatting to the kids;
'Does Mummy shout a lot?' my friend asked Heather after I had given them the umpteetnh warning about running off and threatened to really shout...
'No!' she replied
Does Daddy?'
'Yes, and sometimes he even argues with Mummy,' she volunteered, oh dear...
'Who wins?'
'Mummy' (good girl!)
'Who' in charge?'
Enough to cause most of us to blush bright red.

It is funny how children see the world and view their own capabilities and we often hear if children ruled the world...
It may interest you to know that a new TV show is giving children the chance to do just that, well sort of, hidden cameras filmed children doing grown up jobs and starts this week, the host Chris Tarrant allowed himself to be interviewed by some of the children featured in the show.

Children asked Chris the questions. This is what happened...

What happens in the programme? (Aiden, 11 3/4 )
Tarrant Lets The Kids Loose is a hidden camera show where children as young as four are left in charge of very grown-up jobs, like running a beauty parlour, being in charge of a library for the day, running a garden centre, running a hairdressers including cutting peoples’ hair, and being a DJ for the day! The kids have no idea they’re being filmed, and even though they don’t realise it, they’re surrounded by up to 14 hidden cameras and microphones, and there are security men hidden in disguise everywhere. Mum and dad are watching through a secret control room.

The way the kids handle these difficult situations is absolutely brilliant. They then come into the studio thinking they’re just going for a day watching a TV show and only when they see the film with them in it they realise that they are the stars of the show.

Is it true you were on telly once and threw custard pies on peoples’ faces? (Ingmar, 11)
Yes, that was absolutely true! I did a show called Tiswas in the 1970s with people like Lenny Henry, Sally James and a spitting dog called Spit. We used to drench each other, the audience and all the children with custard. I absolutely loved it. We had no idea what we were doing. Lots of people used to write that we were changing the face of television, but really we were a bunch of people from Birmingham having a laugh.

Why do you like working with children so much? (Martha, 4)
The kids on Tiswas were a wild bunch that’s for sure! But it was a great morning we had once a week. The new show, Tarrant Lets The Kids Loose, is a real pleasure to work on, but obviously, with kids involved, it’s very difficult to guarantee what’s going to happen! They say the first thing that comes into their heads.

Who do you like best, children or adults? (Ingmar, 11)
Children, but I couldn’t eat a whole one!

When you were my age, what did you want to do? (Casper, 8)
I always wanted to be a water bailiff, so I could be paid to go fishing all day. My granddad took me fishing when I was four, and my dad took me too. I live about five miles away from the River Kennet, so I can go fishing now whenever I like. I would have also loved to have been captain of the England cricket team.

What's your favourite bit about being on TV? (Caitlin, 6 1/2)
Michael Aspel used to say it was always the car ride home! The trouble is that now people just want to be on telly to be famous. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s not really a big deal anymore. I thoroughly enjoy it though, and I’ve done a lot of shows I’m very proud of and I’ve made a lot of really good mates. I can’t actually do anything else!

What school did you go to, and did you like it? (Aiden, 11 3/4)
I went to a very nice little school in Reading called The IX (nine) School, which was named because it was number nine in the road. Then I went to boarding school, at the King’s School in Worcester, where I wasn’t at all happy.

When you do Millionaire, is it your money that you give away? (Casper, 8)
Absolutely not! If it was my money I’d make the questions impossible to answer!

What TV programme do you most want to host? (Aiden, 11 3/4 )
To be honest, I think I’ve hosted every show that I really had any ambition to do. I still love doing Millionaire after 11 years and still get a great buzz out of it. And I’m really enjoying letting the kids loose too.

What car have you got? (Aiden, 11 3/4)
I’ve got a Land Cruiser, which I fill up with kids, fishing tackle and dogs, and a Mercedes Sports.

What's your favourite colour? (Caitlin, 6 1/2 )
Khaki, because my dad, who was my best friend, was a soldier and fought in World War II.

Do you watch Ben 10 and if you do who is you favourite character? (Harry, 5)
No I haven’t seen it, and my kids are much too old to watch it. But a lot of friends of mine with young children say they absolutely love it.

Tarrant Lets The Kids Loose is brand new to Watch, showing every week from Sunday 4th October 2009 at 6pm.

It sounds like fun and there are some You Tube clips as well;

Out of the mouths of babes...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beautiful evening in Cambridge

I don't say this often enough but on Saturday I was really proud of all my children. It was Uncle Simon's birthday and we had arranged to meet up with Mr T's family for a celebration of this event. Following the usual football and dancing shenanigans and errand running, myself and the children awaited the return of Mr T who had gone to pick up his brand new car.

This caused great excitement when he returned and the children took turns hopping in and out of the luxurious leather seats, Heather was thrilled when Mr T put the roof up and is convinced that it is magic! After packing my own car up we were off down the M11, first to visit Grandma and Grandpa. We spent a charming afternoon there wandering down to some springs. The children in wellies took great delight in splashing around the water and even dared themselves to cross the slipper stepping stones with Daddy and Grandpa escorting them. Lucy also loved going in there. Then we went to the park where they climbed, slid and swung their way around the place, we even managed to spot a horse and went to say hello.

Then it was back to Grandma and Grandpa's house, a quick change into more presentable clothes and a trowel to make Mummy look more human and off we went on the drive to Cambridge. As soon as you drive into the town and start to see the cycle paths beside you and the park and ride buses you feel the buzz in the atmosphere. Most city centres are awash with activity on Saturday evenings, as the shops empty restaurants, theatres and pubs begin to fill up. As I struggled to park the car on a busy side street, succeeding eventually we piled out. Near us were several historic buildings, the wide gutters and cobbles reminding us of Cambridge's collegiate history and its beginnings as a market towns. The students weren't around, university doesn't begin until next week and then there will be all sorts of fresher high jinx!

We ended up at Pizza Express which the children (and the adults,) loved. The meal was convivial and as we walked back through the cool evening air to the car, past the hotel where our wedding reception was and back to the car the children listened to what they were told and walked nicely. Throughout the meal they had sat nicely, chatting to the relatives, and here is my tip, buy them a magazine to last in between ordering the meal and its arrival, all three were so busy stickering or pointing to pictures of the characters that time passed us by without a hitch. They ate nicely and didn't make pests of themselves in the restaurant and as I sat watching them I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride, they were my children and were setting a great example!

Monday, September 21, 2009

OU Angst

It was with excitement and trepidation that I greeted the arrival of my new OU materials. As a bibliophile and seemingly perpetual student the arrival of new educational material in book form is similar to consuming a large amount of chocolate, without the calorie guilt! This October I am starting 2 new courses in the hope of finishing of the second degree and then moving onto an MA, as well as fitting in all the kids things and writing this will prove a challenge.

I flicked through the books, looked at the study calendars and read through the essay titles, something that I really should have left for a little while. One of the courses, Children's Literature looks fun and I also have interest in the course material as a parent and former teacher. The other is also a literature course, but a bit more weighty! I am also trying to decide whether to do my MA in creative writing, philosophy or literature. Decisions, decisions.

We have picked up the new car and after sort of convincing the children that the purple colour is a sort of blue Heather was delighted to find, that as promised the car did have aircraft style 'colouring in tables' in the back. This could prove to be a pain on the bottom as, just as we are ready to leave for school, on time Heather announces she needs to take a colouring book and pencils with her, the colouring book was easy to locate. Portable colouring in material was not so easy, of course we have plenty at home but those that haven't been eaten by the dog, spread across the floor or emptied into the drawer are in a huge plastic bag that is far too large to take in the car, I managed to siphon off a handful and promised to get some later on when I went to the supermarket. I failed however, trying to remember to purchase wellington boots obviously used all my mental capacities as I completely forgot to get any and am dreading pick up time, think we may have to walk to spend minimum time in the car until I can get my hands on some...

I discovered something new today, having procured welly boots I went with a friend to a coffee shop, she ordered a babychino for her 2 year old and asked if Lucy wanted one, we got one and I discovered that is an espresso sized cup of frothy milk with a dash of chocolate on top, Lucy loved having her own drink, which came with a spoon to avoid the less attractive milk splashes on your clothes and loved sitting at the table. We were able to chat and she was really well behaved, I can well recommend them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vroom Vroom

This weekend in between dancing, birthday parties and tidying up was spent test driving cars. A celebration now seems to be in order as gone (very soon) will be the large seven seater and in its place a much more practical, easier to park five seater. As we are no longer bombing up the country visiting relatives and one of the seats in the larger car is constantly in the floor I cannot claim to be using the space the car offers. The kids can still have a friend if one of them sits in the front (gasp!)

Heather was impressed with the car we looked at, mainly because it was blue, (don't tell her but I think we may be getting a different colour!) and because in the back seats there are trays you can pull down to out a drink on and have a book on to colour in with! She decided instantly that she liked the sales man and while on test drive was challenging the hapless man to spell all the names of everyone she could think of, even ones she didn't know herself, (is that right Mummy?) When we had decided to go for the car he produced some colouring sheets for the children to keep them out of the way temporarily.

Heather triumphed at school this week, I was worried about the transition from reception to Year 1, especially when she came home with a letter detailing all the homework she would be receiving. She has been telling me bits and bobs about the days she is having, as well as the incentives for doing well. Table points seem to happen every day for those that tidy up and finish on time, Heather's table the sharks is apparently maximising their points. There is also the coveted star of the day. Each day a child is chosen who has done something of note and they get to wear a badge, have a certificate and sit in a special seat. On Friday it was Heather's turn, as I picked her up I could see something on her dress and thought to myself, what has she spilled now? When she saw me she beamed, her smile was bright enough to light Blackpool Tower. She had a certificate and a badge which she would have taken to bed if we'd let her, I only hope she gives it back to the next recipient today...

Matthew has also settled in well, he was very disappointed on Saturday when he realised he wasn't going to go to school, made even more distressing on Sunday when he also didn't go to school! Today he had his first school photograph taken and one with Heather, I can't wait to see the results, I only hope he didn't pull the face he showed me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The day I nearly lost 'Doggy'

Matthew has a favourite toy, it is a small brown and white bulldog which has come to be known, rather unimaginatively as Doggy. Today he wanted Doggy to accompany him to school, as he has just started in the Nursery I could see no reason to object. Having been chatting to a friend we decided to take the short stroll to the high street, with Lucy in the buggy I tried to remove Doggy and failed. Deciding that letting her hold him was better than the screaming that would follow an enforced removal we began, me making regular checks that she was still clutching Matthews best friend.

We crossed the busy road with the aid of the lights and eased our way through the narrow pavements that have ensured from the revamp taking place in the town at the moment. Then we were in the shop and my friend was browsing through the gifts section for a birthday present I did another spot check, Doggy wasn't there. I looked under the buggy, in the buggy and on the hood.

We were both horrified! We marched quickly out of the shop thinking, he would be waiting obediently outside, stitched eyes gazing up at us adoringly, no such luck. Making our way past mobility scooters, fellow buggy pusher and well dressed women about town we got back to the pelican crossing. Both my friend and I were busy scanning the pavement we had just come across, looking for a splash of brown and white against the grey tarmac when it started to rain.

It was then that I spotted him, sitting on a post looking down the road towards up, we rushed across the road and held him up triumphantly, and then stowed him safely at the bottom of the pushchair. On the way back to pick Matthew up from school we stopped and took a picture, my friend is going to make a postcard of Doggy's little adventure, especially as he joined us both for coffee.

I, as well as Matthew will now be able to sleep easily knowing Doggy is right where he should be!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Call yourself a writer meme

First apologies to Tim for taking so long with this, hope it helps some you find out about the creative process.

1. Which words do you use too much in your writing?
which and that

2. Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
Anything which a writer is using when they are trying to be clever rather than entertaining.

3. What's your favourite piece of writing by you?
The piece that inspired me to carry on was a poem I write about animals at school and a teacher said it showed promise and that was my spur.

4. Which blog post do you wish you had written?
The ones that have earned their owners a book deal!

5. Regrets. do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written?
When I read some of my stuff back I think oh my god but it can always be re-worked.

6. How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing?
Good place to vent, explore ideas people wouldn't otherwise consider.

7. Name three favourite words
I love you

8. ....And three words you're not so keen on
Shut up/ wait

9. Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
Anything well written, love Terry Pratchet and Stephen King

10.What's your writing ambition?
To make a moderate income from my writing and to evoke emotion when people read what I've Written.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The final furlong

Well it's nearly here, back to school! The last bank holiday of the summer signals for many parents that the longed for time is nearly upon them. I was however, after a few drinks and watching the film AI the return to school.

No longer can we lounge about in the morning, taking breakfast slowly, instead we have to be up, dressed and out of the house by 830. Gone are the days when we can consider our options in the morning and decided if we want to visit the zoo, farm or park as our fancy takes us. Instead we have to complete homework, check book bags and clubs restart.

Indeed my authority becomes diminished as teachers take over, you have to be there to drop them off and pick them up on time and this year I will be doing the two stage pick up. Matthew is starting in nursery so he will be attending from 9-1130 and we will then be returning to pick Heather up at the end of the day.

Dancing, Tumble Tots and the all new swimming lessons dominate the weekend and after school schedules as well as reading books and homework. I have on the whole enjoyed the holidays and they seem to have gone by rather quickly.

We have had visits to two farms, a zoo, our holiday to Florida, meeting up with friends, a birthday and a wonderful wedding and fun filled days in the garden, walks to the postbox and so on. My main regret is not doing more arty stuff although the interference and destruction that Lucy has proved herself capable of seem to justify that decision. I will miss the kids though when they are at school, Heather bought lump to my throat when she made me a little card, as is her habit at the moment. In it she said 'she was looking forward to going back to school but that she would miss me and be thinking of me!' Lucy will miss them too although she will be able to play with all the toys she wants without risk of injury from an incandescent Matthew.

We are trying to encourage the children to be a little more musical, Matthew hsa shown good rhythm with the drums and Heather has learnt a couple of scales on the piano and Lucy is discovering spinning around until you are dizzy. I, on the other hand seem to have received the thumbs down. After a few days of jiggling and singing I left the music on after the kids were in bed, I was enjoying Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams and it was when Take That were playing that Heather appeared;
'Mummy, can you stop singing please, I can't get to sleep because it's irritating me.'
Move over Simon Cowell!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Writing Therapy Blog Tour

Writing Therapy is a unique book that I read recently by my friend Tim Atkinson. To help reach a wider audience as the book deserves I welcomed the opportunity to host a leg of the book blog tour!

Writing Therapy can be purchased through Amazon, you will find a link on the left hand side of the page! Happy reading, and to whet your appetite here is a bit more information about the book;

This novel, published in 2008, explores the therapeutic use of writing in the treatment of mental illness. The protagonist, who starts the book as Frances Nolan but whose name changes midway through the book to Sophie Western, suffers from depression. Truanting from school, she spends her days in the local library reading 'more books than is good for her' and ultimately believing she is a character. Events are thus dictated for her by an external author. Out-of-control, she becomes seriously mentally ill, is hospitalised and ultimately cured thanks to the intervention of a young trainee, who manages to persuade the girl that she is the author of her destiny.

The book is set in the 1980's at a time when routine treatment of the mentally ill took place in large, often Victorian, psychiatric hospitals or asylums. The anti-psychiatry movement of progressive mental-health professionals such as R.D.Laing was often set in direct opposition within such institutions to traditional chemical and surgical procedures such as ECT. This debate - which is by no means over - is personalised in the novel as a struggle between two individuals: Ted, the Charge-Nurse in the Adolescent Unit, and a student psychiatric nurse called Will.

and my review of the book;

It is not often that I can call a book truly unique but this one is. It held my interest from star to finish. The plot told through therapy which could also be usefully extracted as a lesson on how to write a book is extremely cleverly done.
The narrative is also said, haunting as it chronicles a young girls breakdown and slow recovery. Some of the scenes are in ways harrowing but told in such a way that the action is somehow immediate but at the same time distance. Perhaps more remarkable is the author's ability to write convincingly as a teenage girl.

The writing is clear and multi-layered. I honestly felt compelled to reach the end of the story as from the beginning an attachment is formed with the characters that makes you want to find out how the story ends, if there is a cure, if the staff find happy resolutions. I would recommend that people who enjoy a read that will make them think get a copy of this book, as you will not be disappointed.

To help you get to know Tim a little better here is an interview with the man himself;

1. When did you start writing/Have you had anything published before?

When I was twelve I had a model railway – scenery, houses, landscape, the lot. In fact, it was a miniature model world; my pride and joy. I wrote a letter to ‘The Railway Modeller’ magazine asking if they’d like an article about it. They said ‘go ahead’ and so I sat down at the dining room table and began to write. I got paid £12, and I’ve been writing ever since!

2. How long did the book take to write?

Writing Therapy too the best part of five years from first ideas to completed manuscript. It was very stop-start at the beginning, because I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t have the confidence or skill to see it through. I actually signed up for a Creative Writing course with the OU mid-way through the novel. That helped enormously.

3. Is writing a full-time occupation now?

Now (my fifteen-month old son) Charlie has started walking he’s my full-time occupation, and I love it. I get time to write while he sleeps which is nowhere near enough, but in a funny way the pressure of getting words down quickly before he wakes can be quite liberating.

4. How long did it take to find a publisher?

There was another publisher interested in Writing Therapy – in fact, the one I’d always had in mind when writing it – but there were a couple of things about their terms I didn’t like. I never even bothered with any of the ‘big boys’ so-to-speak. I figured they’d all be far too busy throwing money at the likes of Simon Cowell to be interested in an unknown with an article in ‘Railway Modeller’ in his resume.

5. Can you say a little about your development as a writer?

Flushed with the success of my ‘Railway Modeller’ commission I did what all teenagers do and started writing poetry. I actually had a couple of things published in small arts magazines, and went to Hull University just to breathe the same air as Philip Larkin. When he stopped breathing (he died in my third year there – which had nothing to do with me, I hasten to add!) I started doing bits and pieces of freelance journalism, and was a regular contributor to a column called ‘This World of Ours’ on the Yorkshire Post. In fact, when I graduated I was going to be a journalist. But then I’d also quite fancied teaching, and someone said I’d better do a PGCE before Mrs Thatcher closed down all the teacher-training colleges. Twenty-one years later, I was still in the classroom.
6. What are you writing now?

I’ve just written a school text-book on the UK for a publisher called Wayland, part of a series covering countries of the world. I’m doing India next. I’ve also got a young adult novel almost finished. It’s about a boy with a passion for prehistoric mysteries, who leaves home looking for his mother.

7. Any tips for people wanting to be published?

Buy a model railway! Seriously, there’s probably some connection between making model worlds and writing stories. I was once told by a teacher at school that my essay-writing technique resembled throwing as much mud as possible, in the hope that some of it would stick. And he added, ‘it seems to work’. I think that’s my philosophy of writing. Just do it, and – you never know – some of it might ‘stick’!

8. What are your views of the publishing industry in general?

I’m amazed at how ‘industrial’ and old-fashioned publishing can be. Those huge advances for celebrity tat, the ‘deals’ with bookstores, even the old-fashioned ‘print-runs’. Will a few big names go under, like the banks? Will commissioning editors who’ve paid over the odds for some ghost-written drivel fall on their swords? I doubt it, but I’ve a feeling the whole business is about to change: e-books, Print-on-Demand, not to mention Amazon. And yet much of the industry is still stuck in the last century.

9. You’re donating 10% of the book’s royalties to the charity, Young Minds. Why?

The book deals with issues I’d seen first-hand as a teacher. In one of my roles in school I was responsible for pupil welfare and I was seeing a rise each year in the number of pupils suffering mental and emotional trauma. Young Minds exists specifically to support young people suffering from mental health-related problems. It also supports parents and other adults involved in the care of such young people. As a teacher I’d found Young Minds invaluable; as a writer I’m keen to do anything I can to help.

10. What are you currently reading?

Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, by Roger Deakin. I read his ‘Waterlog’ and fell in love with it. He has (or had - he died last year) a poet’s eye for vivid detail, which I’ve subsequently discovered is because he often wrote what was to become his prose as poetry first. Oh, and The Mortdecai Trilogy, by Kyril Bonfiglioli.

He also has two fabulous blogs of interest to writers and parents;

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Wonderful Wedding

On Saturday one of my very best friends got married. It was a very emotional day for many reasons as the events leading up to the wedding made it very difficult for her. She looked radiant and every detail was flawless.

I have to say she is a little bit mad though as she asked all of our children to participate in the wedding party! They were dressed in gorgeous gowns for the girls and a cravat and waistcoat for Matthew. They all looked so grown up, it was hard to believe they were really my children. I was privileged to accompany Heather in the princess Rolls Royce, the younger two travelling with their dad who was busy snapping as many pictures as possible as well. When we arrived at the church I marvelled at the younger two as they played on the pavement outside, still clean!

We had to proceed around to the rear entrance of the church, making sure the bride's gown stayed clean we made our way around. Lucy was carried just in case she decided to fall down right in a pile of leaves or something similar. The children were assembled in the right order, headbands on, flowers in hand, and with that and a quick cross of our fingers I, and the other page boys mum escaped to our allocated place in the church.

The music started and Nicky appeared, beautiful, she swished down the aisle, but where were the children, then they appeared, smiling and excited, Lucy was now minus her flowers and headband but made it down the aisle clean, and without falling over. The boys didn't overtake the girls as they had at the rehearsal and they even sat down at the right time. A combination of raisins and a toy kept Lucy quiet during the ceremony and my nightmare about one of them making a noise at the critical moment failed, thankfully, to come true.

Then came the photographs, Lucy spent her first five minutes racing off and dodging the lens but then Heather got her to hold her hand and she stayed put temporarily and even managed to smile. Matthew was a star and took part and mostly did as he was told, other than one tantrum at the reception venue when he was being tucked in for the fiftieth time and wanted to run around rather than stand still.

The reception was lovely, the speeches amusing and the children loved dancing, they also had some amazing fireworks which even Matthew liked. We got home very tired but happy about 1030 and I have to say I was really proud of my children and my friends!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is she really five?

It doesn't seem so long ago that I was sat in a post-natal ward, with a little bundle in a see through plastic cot beside me. I had no idea what to expect, no idea how to deal with crying, nappies and bathing, since then two more little bundles have extended our family. Last Friday Heather reached the giddy height of five, I seem to have blinked and missed it.

She had a lovely day filled with grandparent, godmothers and neighbours. We were expecting an early morning as she had been counting down the sleeps, instead it was past 730 when she woke! She read every single card carefully and her brother and sister were very well behaved as she opened her presents. Surrounding her by the end was an array of crafty things to make, horses, princesses and the new craze for this year Sylvanian Families. (By the way, these things are very small and incredibly fiddly to make up as I found out during the course of the day!) The pinkness of the room was palpable!

She loved seeing all of her grandparents and was thrilled with the charm her godmothers gave her for the special bracelet Mummy has hidden since Christmas, if I hadn't it would have disappeared by now! She has renamed them her fairy godmothers.

With the weather being grey we opted for an indoor play area, something children seem to love but leaves most parents with headaches. Bedtime wasn't until 930 and I had to laugh as she watched some of the video of our Disney holiday.

'Mummy look there's a snake, it's going to get Mickey!'
'Did it get him when you went to see the show?'
'Well then it won't get him now.'
She wasn't convinced and wanted to watch it again to make sure!

Saturday was her party, a joint one with a boy in her class who was five that day, the entertainer was great and managed to keep 35 little ones and their parents occupied with dancing, magic and balloons. Heather finally got to wear her princess dress from Florida and had a great time, there were no tears and at the end everyone seemed to go home happy!

Sunday dawned with sunshine, a rare sight this summer, so after Matthews football session we ventured out to the local farm. True the kids preferred the helter skelter and carousel to the pigs and goats but they had fun, other than both managing to fall over and graze their knees. I think they seem to be having a competition to see who can get the biggest plaster on their knee! The evening brought the wedding rehearsal for Saturday. Matthew was very good, Heather was OK, Lucy however did not want to wait for the bride to proceed she was off, and when she was stopped she squawked like a pterodactyl! Thank goodness it was only the rehearsal. I will be relieved if we manage to get there with them all still in their finery and then even more relieved if they all manage to make it down the aisle, only time will tell!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fabulous blog Award from MelRoxx

Many thanks to MelRoxx for my award.
5 bloggers to pass it onto are;


Monday, August 3, 2009

Growing up quickly!

Today I had to take Matthew to get his school uniform ready for September, he will only be there for 2 and a half hours, but it will be every day. He has his shoes already and now he is also kitted out with shorts, tracksuit and polo shirts, only socks to go. I was dreading taking him, given his usual shenanigans around getting dressed I thought that it could be more of a wrestling match! In the end he was a little star, the shop had a box of toys which kept the girls amused allowing me to focus on Matthew, who was told being good would result in a reward, a lollipop shaped reward. The assistant was great at guesstimating Matthews size and it didn't take as long as I was expecting, he was great, straight in and out of the proffered clothes and even admiring himself in the mirror. As I looked at him I realised how quickly he is growing up, blink and a year seems to have passed us by! He smiled at his appearance and seemed proud to be getting his uniform.

Heather's birthday is hurtling towards us at a hurtling pace as Friday looms upon the horizon, and then she will be 5! The party is prepared and the cake is underway, it is pink as Heather wishes and when it is finished it will be a castle. Mr T spent an age rolling out the icing to cover the pace and was proud to show it to Heather this morning, her response 'Is that it? Is there going to be more?' hardly the simpering gratitude he was hoping for, or at least some sense of how clever her Daddy is!

The children seem to be getting the hang of sharing a bedroom now, the actual going to bed is still a bit of a battle ground but we are being spoilt with proper sleep, Matthew has figured out that you don't have to come out of your room screaming at 2 in the morning for a drink, you can simply have the drink left for you in your bedroom and go back to sleep. In the morning he even managed to creep out of the bedroom into ours for his morning drink without waking his sisters and all this at 630-7, a vast improvement on 530!

The holidays seem to be going well, I haven't lost any one yet and still seem to be in possession of at least some of my marbles, helped by some school work and the Jolly Phonics system we are having fun learning as well as playing! I wonder if it will last...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

I have been lucky enough to receive an award from my friend gaelikaa. The idea is to list ten honest things about yourself and then pass the award onto seven other bloggers so here goes;

1. I trained as a teacher and taught for four years before leaving the profession to be a mummy and follow my dreams to be a writer.

2. I met Mr T on millennium eve, I went to his party with a friend and we got chatting. We walked down to the River Thames to watch the fireworks and he held my hand because mine was cold, the rest as they say is history.

3. I have given birth naturally to all three of my children with only my TENS machine for pain relief and gas and air for the stitches, they have all been breast fed.

4. My first book was published in January 2009 and I am now working on a second novel, with plans for another and trying to craft some short stories as well as publicise the first novel.

5. Being a Mum is the hardest and most varied job I have ever had, but also the most satisfying.

6. I got married in Trinity college Cambridge by special licence as Mr T attended there, it was a wonderful place to get married and I hope that when we get to twenty years we can renew our vows there!

7. I am trying not to be such a control freak as I hate it when I am not in control and this leads to the most problems in our house as I am also stubborn and do not like admitting when I am wrong.

8. My guilty pleasures include Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, I also like medical dramas, crime dramas and soaps! I like Disney films too.

9. I wish I had better general knowledge, I am studying for a second degree with the Open University and plan to follow it up with an MA. I would like to do my PHD but I am not sure I am brave enough, I hate to fail or give up on anything that I start.

10. I have overcome both annorexia and bulimia and hope that my own battles with food and weight will enable me to give my children a better balanced view. I have discovered that it is the person inside that provides the beauty not the shell in which they hide.

Now seven bloggers to pass it onto;
Leigh Russell,
Tim Atkinson
Tara Cain
Lil's so very sweet pictures,
Caroline Whitney

Mummy, what do teachers do on their holidays?

'Mummy,' Heather said with a serious face sitting down beside me, eyes wide, back straight, hands in her lap, her serious pose! 'What do teachers play when they're on holiday?'
'Well they relax' I said, this was clearly not a good enough. 'But Mummy, do they play with their brother and sisters in the garden?'
'Well no, I expect they go on holiday and read books and things.'
'Do they go shopping?'
'What for food?
'And toys?'
'Well maybe not toys'
'What about books?'
'Why do they play with their children?'
'Well because they like to, like I like playing with you'
'Oh' and then she wandered off.
What had sparked this sudden interest in her teachers? We ran into one of them at our local Tumble Tots sessions with her daughter, who is the same age as Lucy and her Mum, this was also of great curiosity to Heather. The teacher was brave enough to say hello to Heather and for the first time this holiday she lost her tongue!

It reminded me of my own teaching days, the children would invest huge amounts of energy into finding out how old I was, what my 'real' name was and where I lived and who with. On two occasions I dodged children in the supermarket as they followed me about eager to report back on the contents of my trolley.

Perhaps the most embarrassing incident occurred shortly after I had returned to work after the birth of Heather, we were preparing for her Christening and had popped over the the cash and carry so our trolley was piled high with champagne, wine, crisps, and so on... The look on the child's face was priceless and the whispers whizzed around the school on Monday.

It reminded me that teachers are never really off duty, once spotted out of the classroom you kind of have to say hi or risk the child being upset or spreading rumours. It also reminded me how intrigued children are when they see their teachers in a public place when they least expect it!

IN other news I was excited to find that my book is now stocked in twenty one local libraries and has been borrowed by people! Must keep up with the next one!

Monday, July 27, 2009

All Change

We have been despairing in out house, Matthew doesn't sleep well, the kids have to sleep downstairs because of the layout of the house and none of them seem to have enough room. Mortgage deposits make it difficult to move and so we are stuck, so it seems! Well while we are away all five of us had to share a bedroom, we feared it would be hell on earth! It turned out to be OK!

This gave us an idea, we now after lots of heaving books, furniture and beds about have all of us sleeping upstairs. It seemed the two older children didn't really like sleeping downstairs so until we can afford to move, we now have a sleep room for the kids. Heather still has her own bedroom and we were even able to shift the sofa bed into it so she has somewhere to sit and read, she now has loads of space to do her dancing and we have a spare bedroom should we need it.

Matthews room still has all his toys but is also equipped as a study so Mr T can work from home, I can write in peace and Matthew can build train tracks and play with his road map to his hearts content. It is not an ideal solution but it is the best fir at the moment, we are hoping in a couple of years we will be able to move and then have a more conventional layout and individual bedrooms as the kids get older and less able to share.

They love it, perhaps a little too much, they each still have their own space and even in the shared bedroom the different areas have been personalised according to their preferences, Winnie the Pooh for Lucy, Thomas for Matthew and fairies for Heather. The house suddenly seems to have opened out, just as well as the children are on the school holidays for another five weeks!

The rain now seems relentless and the garden is sodden, thank goodness for libraries where the kids can while away an hour just flicking through books, often the same ones they have at home. The sibling rivalry seems as relentless as the bad weather and I am hoping that is just a phase. The games they play are now focussed around the holiday, they are taking Mickey and Minne mouse somewhere or saving them from some terrible fate.

School will be with us again soon and we seem to have a fair few sheets of homework to get through, as well as trying to encourage Matthew to get used to the idea of going to school every day wearing a uniform. Still next week we have our appointment to get said uniform, could be interesting, watch this space...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back to Reality

Yesterday we touched back down into the UK, all three kids safe and sound despite their best attempts to lose themselves, injure themselves and stay in the US.

The flight out was a nightmare, the first are we nearly there yet coming at approximately 5 minutes after take off and continuing for the next eight hours despite lots of little presents. Still we were there and through customs, negotiated driving the 'wrong' way and arrived at the hotel. One room change later as the first lacked the requested bunk beds we were oohing and aahing at giraffes and waterbucks raoming free outside.

The kingdom of Disney awaited and the next 14 days were filled with queuing for rides, to shake hands with characters, watching parades with characters dancing, walking, thunderstorms and wonder for the children. I discovered that Disney with kids is very different from Disney with adults, no longer could we fast pass our way thought the thrilling roller coasters, instead we spent hours waiting to be greeted by Captain Hook and the princesses. Neither could we stay out all night and visit all the restaurants, Matthew spent far too much time running about and causing general disruption to venture much further than the Rainforest cafe or new T-REX place. Yet despite the exhausting nature of it all and the frequent thunderstorms we had a great time.

Lucy perhaps found it hardest to adjust and jetlag was biting as she slept for 15 hours! Hopefully we have now reset our body clocks and can look forward to six weeks of school holiday. I am hoping to return to my writing targets and am chuffed that the early nights on holiday did mean I could read 2 and a half books!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The final Countdown

Is it really only twelve more sleeps until I have to summon the courage to brave Gatwick airport with three littlies and what may well be a grumpy Mr T? Now the reality and enormity of the actual getting there is starting to dawn on me!

It isn't as if we have a relaxing lead in to the holiday, this week alone is Matthew's final week of pre-school and then we have parent's evening tomorrow, sports day on Thursday and a dance performance today as well the usual toddler groups to attend. Next week is even worse there are haircuts to be had, a day out for me at Wimbledon (v.v.v.v. excited about that one!!) and a three foot festival filled with children and entertainers to wade through as well! Not to mention getting Matthew sorted out with shoes and trying on his outfit for my friends rapidly approaching wedding!

I have optimistically pencilled in times to pack and do the washing and ironing, but who knows? This weekend I took care of all the school related things that needed seeing to, the teachers have presents and cards ready to go, I have handed in my CRB form so that I can help out at the school next September and the forms for the poetry collection and extra curricula activities have been delivered to the right places.

I have to admit I nearly cried with relief when a friend told me we would be able to retain the buggy until we got to the gate, and that we might even be able to be reunited with it as we leave the plane at the other end. That will save my back and my patience no end. I have to be honest though I do not really like flying, I am a control freak it has to be said. I will stubbornly insist on driving the entire six hours plus to my Mum's in Cumbria just because I don't trust anyone else to do it, and so eight hours on a plane over which I have no control is not a great prospect for me. Added to that is the anxiety of not having flown with any of the children and having no idea if they are going to scream 'I want to get off as soon as we start to taxi!' (if they do it may mean less queueing on holiday I guess!)

I have prepared for the flight, each child will have a goody bag and I will have enough snacks to feed a small army so as soon as the moaning starts I can bribe them with food, very bad I know but I expect the other 200 people on board will be grateful, Matthew alone is piercing enough to scale kettles and when you add Lucy in to the mix I think everyone would have a headache by the time we were an hour in!

Then when we do get there, we have to locate the car hire place, drive on the right side of the road and then try to contain the hundreds of questions that will be coming our way as we try to navigate to the hotel and check in! Still once we are there I can start to relax, let the kids enjoy themselves until it is time to come back again!

One sad little story, over the weekend we found what appeared to be a birds egg which Heather immediately christened EggBert! She wanted to take it to bed which we refused and this morning she wanted to say Hello, and you've guessed it EggBert turned to yolk all over the floor and Heather dissolved into tears all over me. We have managed to convince her that she hasn't murdered a baby bird as we are fairly sure there was not much in there this late in the season and at the bottom of the tree.

Lucy is not a toddler and it seems an expert climber, stair gates have had to be put in place to keep her safe as she climbs ever upwards unchecked!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My First Award

Thank you to Katherine for my award, her blog is well worth reading to so why not head over and have a look.

I've been tagged, pass it on...

Thank you to Mel ROxx who tagged me, here goes;
Here are the Rule’s

1. Mention the person who tagged you.
2. Complete the lists of 8s.
3. Tag 8 other bloggers & let them know.

8 things I’m looking forward to:

1. My evening bar of chocolate once the children are in bed,
2. My holiday in 17 days time,
3. My trip to Wimbledon on 3rd July
4. When Matthew finally starts sleeping through
5. Spending some quality time with the children over the summer
6. A very good friends weddding
7. Sunshine
8. Some time reading and writing

8 things I did yesterday:

1. watch the television
2. took Lucy to Tumble Tots
3. moan at the kids
4. cook dinner
5. wrote 1000 words on novel#2
6. murdered ants
7. read some of my current book
8. played with the children encouraging Lucy to practice walking

8 things I wish I could do:

1. know what the lottery numbers will be in advance (just once)
2. have more time to write
3. have more time to read
4. but a bigger house so there is enough room for us all
5. lose half a stone overnight
6. find time to do more exercise at the gym
7. have time to do my make-up and look after my skin
8. keep up with everything

8 favorite fruits

1. strawberries
2. bananas
3. melons
4. grapes
5. banana
6. raspberrry
7. kiwi
8. plum

8 Places I’d like to travel:

1. South Africa
2. New York
3. Monaco
4. Australia
5. Las VEgas
6. Edinburgh
7. Ireland
8. Rome

8 places I’ve lived in:

1. Cambridge
2. Basildon
3. Central London (Pimlico)
4. Isle of Dogs
5. Brentwood
Sorry didn't get to 8 not that exciting

8 People who I’ve tagged:A LIFE IN THE DAY OF
Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy?
Being a Mummy
Blog to Fit
bringing up charlie
Christine Segina
Frog Blog by Frog in the Field
I promise that I will do my best

Monday, June 15, 2009

Puppy Love

We had a lovely weekend, the long awaited return of Mr T finally happened. Matthew was a little underwhelmed as he rushed into the living room and removed his shoes and then back out again without even noticing that Mr T was sitting there reading the paper. Heather on the other hand came rushing into the room, stopped in her tracks and just stared not too sure whether to laugh or cry. The shrieks of 'Daddy' began and a round of hugs followed.

We had a relaxed afternoon in the sunny garden, the air punctuated with shrieks of laughter as the kids spent their time on the swing. We also discovered that after just a week of being a bike owner Matthew has become an expert bike rider. He is not afraid to go slowly, he whizzes along legs going ten to the dozen, Mr T having to run to keep up. Heather on the other hand, very girly, very prim and proper riding at a sedate pace with me beside her pushing Lucy in the buggy.

Sunday was sunny again and so we had a BBQ, the children sat at their table outside covered in ketchup, in fact after we had finished I think there was more ketchup on them than was left in the bottle! Still we let them race about a bit to ensure they were fully tired out before they were dunked into the bath, to be honest we weren't that eager to deal with their ketchup, mud and other debris streaked clothes and faces.

Eventually we took the plunge, the bath was run and we were on the round up, Heather was captured and in, Lucy despite her protests was also ready to be plonked in, but Matthew was nowhere to be seen. I wondered if he had managed to disappear back into the garden but no, he wasn't upstairs or hiding behind a door or under his bedclothes. I admit I was beginning to panic, perhaps he had gone out of the front door, I checked and his bike was still in the garden, phew!

No shouting produced an answer and by now even Mr T was helping, I re-checked upstairs, was the back gate shut? Maybe he had hurt himself, fallen and unable to call out. Then I heard Mr T calling me from the kitchen so I rushed in, heart thumping. 'Look' said Mr T pointing and there in the lean-to was Matthew. The lean-to is the den for our two labs Milly and Tessa. Matthew loves the dogs and he is great with them, he likes helping to feed them and tries to boss them about. Unfortunately he also likes their food, and what was he doing in the lean-to, he was helping himself to the food in the bright pink bin that their food is stored in! He looked very pleased with himself and me, well I was just relieved he hadn't escaped the house.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Matthew turns three in a manic week!

What a week that was, I am glad I have survived to tell the tale. Mr T told us he had to go to New York on Tuesday until at least the weekend, it is now Monday again and he won't be home until at least Wednesday!

Back to last week...
Monday saw Lucy having her MMR, I was dreading it as she has become a little bit of a drama queen, tantrums involve kicking your legs in the air whilst screaming loudly and rolling about a bit for extra effect. Despite my fears she was an angel, not a sound did she utter although she did give the nurse a good stare. Not too bad.

Tuesday was meeting day, I had to return to the school for a meeting about Matthews entry into the school. It is a chance to meet the other new parents and be reminded of all the things we are supposed to be doing. It involved a rather quick turn around from the school run leaving a long suffering Grandma in charge of the hordes!

Wednesday was a day I was dreading as it was Matthews turn to visit the school. He was ever confident knowing the teacher, several of the children and the layout of the school. He charged around the place making himself at a home and I only had to pretend not to know him once, when he decided to take a plastic shopping trolley down the slide, it could have been worse. On the way home his 'I had a lovely time' told me that it was unlikely he would have many problems settling in come September.

Thursday was my little boy's third birthday. He opened his presents and cards enthusiastically and was exceptionally pleased with his Fireman Sam vehicle set courtesy of Grumps. He was eager to get on his bike so off we went to the park which has a generous cycle track after Heather was safely at school. His smile said how much he was enjoying himself. Next on the list was casting my vote in the election, sadly Matthew was a little disappointed when we got to the vote as he thought we were going to the boat! Lunch came next and then after collecting Heather from school we had more visitors and presents. Tea was provided by Domino's Pizza and the Roary cake his Daddy had lovingly prepared went down very well with all parties concerned.

Friday tested my resolve it has to be said as Heather burst into tears at the school gates, she didn't want to leave me, missed her Daddy and was having had a busy week overtired. She was eventually prized off and coaxed in and I managed to hold myself together until I got home and had a strong cup of tea to cry into. Tumble Tots tackled, and the discovery that Matthew, now having reached three was being promoted into the big boy's group where the mummies sit and watch filled me with a little dread! I'm sure it'll be fine! Gulp!

We then went to have dinner with friends and we had a lovely dinner watching the kids wear themselves out with very crazy dancing and laughter! The weekend was a blur of organised activities and visitors and fun was had. I have to say I am looking forward to Mr T's return, partly as Heather and Matthew have really missed him ,as have I but also because I always seem to be more on edge when he is away, at night noises that are normal, take on more sinister meanings, things that annoy me seem magnified and I feel the weight of responsibility heavily on my shoulders.

In other news Lucy is finally finding her feet and has managed to stand up by herself and has even walked ten steps without falling over! Soon she will be running all over the place and I will be moaning about that then. Here's to a quieter week!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mowing Madness

Summer is here, well temporarily, this being the UK of course. The weekend was filled with the sounds of squealing children as they dipped in and out of paddling pools, the smell of barbecues and the sound of lawnmowers. We were no exception. We called the barbecue into service for the first time this year and Mr T declared, quite rightly that the lawn needed mowing.

It is getting mown more regularly at the moment, this is partly due to the fact that Mr T has recently purchased a shiny red lawn mower, petrol is now on the premises and when it starts you'd think there was a motorbike roaring around in the garden due to the excitement it causes in the children.

It was all going so well, the top of the garden was neat, Mr T had even cleared the rather huge weeds that had taken over underneath the children's picnic table. Then it came to the last bit and try as he might Mr T just couldn't get the mower to start. Petrol was put in but still nothing happened.

'Is your lawn mower broken?' was the constant refrain from Matthew much to the mounting displeasure of Mr T. Apart came the lawn mower and various prodding and muttering, a few consultations to the instruction booklet and soon the lawn mower was being pieced together. We all held out breath and were relieved when Mr T's hard work was rewarded with a throaty roar and a huge puff of smoke as the lawn mower decided to work again.

Over dinner Mr T said how pleased he was to have found the root of the problem;
'I could see there was something blocking it starting,' he said ' and when I pulled the handle up it moved, and then I remembered that you're meant to pull the handle up when you start it.' Still at least he had fun.

To balance the post however I should comment on Mr T's achievement of the weekend. He has produced a great cake for our son's third birthday, Matthew is a fan of Roary the racing car and one thing we have liked to do is bake the cakes for the children ( I am pencilled in to produce a fairy castle for Heather in August!) We bought a book telling us how to produce the various cakes and following the racing car model and adapting it for Roary's shape Mr T had made a cake that is the same colour and shape as him and I know Matthew will be delighted.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Battle of the sexes

So, like a fair amount of the population I settled down to watch the Britain's got Talent final. As a treat we allowed Heather to stay up and watch the first part as we had recorded and edited the heats for her. She curled up and passed comment on the acts, like it, loved it and NO! She loves Amanda because she is so beautiful and absolutely refused to enjoy anything that didn't have a girl in it. Despite the jaw dropping talent showcased by Flawless and the eventual winners Diversity she rejected them because there wasn't a girl in their ranks.

Her top three went like this; Hollie, Susan and 2 Grand. She doesn't know the results yet as she was in bed before they were broadcast. When she dismissed them so instantly because they were smelly boys I asked her if she would like it if people ignored her just because she was a girl.

'Well I wouldn't mind' she says, 'because they're smelly boys and I don't know want them to like me!'
Well she has me there, I have to admit defeat but I can't help wondering when it all changed, she is affectionate towards her brother and Daddy and other male relatives and seems to get on with the boys in her class, bit more and more she plays girly games with girls!

hmmm... the question is now do I let her watch the results or just let it quietly fade away.

Congratulations to the winners, an act that lives up to its name and I hope will inspire other young people to work together and work hard rather than hang about on street corners!

In other news we bought Matthew his very first bike today, it his birthday on Thursday and I cannot believe he is going to be three. He spent ages in the shop and looked very proud to have his very own bike and helmet. We let him ride it back to the car and then we handed it over to the birthday fairy! It was odd to see him pedalling around the shop, proud as punch and really rather pleased with everything.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is it really only 10:00?

So today is the first day proper of half term, bank holidays don't really count as the excitement of having Daddy at home usually helps. Of course, it is raining, a lot, and has been overnight as well, bang go the prospects of visiting the zoo/farm/park as three children in wet weather gear is, if I am honest far from appealing!

I should have realised when Matthew woke me at 215am that it was not going to be an auspicious start to the holiday! From the realisation that he had no nappy on and hadn't for the last seven hours to constant demands for drinks, sleep was the last thing I came to on the menu. When Mr T arose to prepare for his day at work the magic of TV kicked in temporarily.

I did managed to sneak in 10 pages of book reading but was then interrupted by Heather with her latest creation, Matthew in his attempts to beat her to the stairs had fallen down two of them and was howling like a wounded dog at the bottom, when he eventually appeared looking rather sorry for himself he explained he had hurt his tummy. Upon examination I was able to reassure him that there were no marks and his food would stay on the inside, of course to recover from his trauma he wanted a biscuit and a drink, he got the drink. Next task, get Lucy dressed, not always an easy task as she is in the wriggling stage, still today was good and in no time she was happily smearing cheerios and milk over herself and any surrounding objects as she attempted to feed herself.

Distantly I heard ABBA and realised Heather was already tuned into her ipod, she was wearing her current most treasured possessions, shoes with a small heel emblazoned with Ariel. She clip clops around the place sounding rather like the horses she loves so much but is gradually getting used to them, soon she will be more proficient than me. Feeling confident that the two bigger ones were occupied and that Lucy couldn't escape from her chair I turned to the paper to see what the latest scandals regarding MP's.

The screaming began almost instantaneously! One bout followed another for the next ten minutes until a distraction was provided by me deciding to hoover, this then resulted in a clamour for biscuits and drinks. I have since then constructed Matthew a train track from his huge Thomas set, refiled the books that Lucy has pulled off of Heathers bookshelves - twice. Really shouted at Matthew for pushing Lucy over, hitting Lucy and being generally obnoxious. All I can say is thank goodness the iron tablets are beginning to work and I am able to keep my eyes open for a whole day now, and that the weather forecast is for the weather to get better later in the week!

We did have a good weekend though, fairly relaxed. Heather and I went shopping and we had a really nice girly day,trying clothes on, looking for baking stuff and having lunch together, it is just a shame that her fashion sense seems to be better than mine! Lucy continues to resist most of our attempts to get her to walk, my writing is still at ground zero as the kids monoplise my time but as the old song goes, 'things can only get better!'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2 Doctors visits and a blood test

Being as my children seem to have had a relatively quiet couple of weeks I thought I had better do something interesting...

Last week I finally gave in, I have been feeling tired, no make that exhausted, well make that cannot stand up for another moment, feeling shaky and my eyes closing as soon as I sit down knackered! So I went to see the doc. When I explained the problem and added to it that I felt shaky, a bit nauseous and irritable he asked me if I could be pregnant.
'Not unless God's been at it again!' was my response, 'I have three under five already!' I explained realising it was a little rude!
He wrote out a blood test form and said it was probably just the hectic pace of life catching up with me but best to have a blood test, just to be on the safe side.

So I did, no drama there, no screaming, missed veins or blood spattering the walls.

I didn't expect to hear much about it and had convinced myself that I was just being a wimp and would have to do better. On the way to Heather's dancing on Saturday I grabbed the post, on Saturday I generally get a whole 45 minute session to myself in Starbucks, usually I write but I knew I would have less time this week as I had to run a couple of errands. Heather tapping and first postioning away, errands ran I turned to the mail. There was one from the docs, 48 hours after the test, couldn't be good.

I opened it, 'need a face to face consultation' were the words that jumped out at me, followed by this is NOT urgent! Not urgent! Not flipping urgent I thought, 48 hours after I had the test and now I need an appoinment.

I spent the four days until the appointment the following Wednesday convinceing myself I was ill, very ill. I tried to work out what it could be even putting my symptoms into search engines and self-diagnosis tool - please don't try that at home, not to be advised, definitely bad for your health and sanity!

Anyway in a packed surgery the doctor I was seeing passed by, on her way back she looked at me and said 'Melanie.' I just nodded, the fact that she knew my first name must be bad I thought, she was trying to put me at my ease before she delivered the bad news! After manouvering Lucy's buggy around the other patients I sat in her room and she looked at me blankly. I ended up explaining the whole thing again and then she found her results on the computer and started to study them. Maybe it would be OK after all, maybe she only remembered my name from a home visit she had once done, reluctantly!

'Aha, your bilirubin's a bit high' she said, I nodded having expected that and explained for the hundreth time that I have Gilbert's syndrome that causes excess bilirubin, isn't it about time they put it on my notes? She tapped away again and as she sat there all I could think was if you don't tell me in a minute I am going to be sick all over your carpet!

'Aha' she said triumphantly and then looked me in the eye, bad I thought. Very bad!
'I'm surprised you're standing up' she said. Alarm bells were now ringing.
'Your iron levels are very low, no wonder you're tired you're anemic, very easy to sort out though' she added.
She told me about the tablets she would prescribing and the rather charmless side effects I could experience, the blood tests I would have to have and that I should be more like my normal self in about a week!

I was relieved, partly because it isn't serious and there is an easy cure and also because I wasn't imagining it, I am not a wimp there is a biological cause! A day and a bit in and I am feeling a little brighter, probbaly the placebo effect but I haven't fallen asleep yet today.

NEWSFLASH: This is a new section at the end of the blog to record the family achievements; Matthew can now count to 20, Heather got a swimming certificate for being able to do a whole width on her own, Lucy still isn't walking but can say; Heather, Matthew, Mummy, Daddy, Hello and duck! Mr T has laid the turf in the garden, the dogs have watered it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Disney Fever has hit Essex

Never mind Swine flu, bird flu or even mouse flu, Disney fever has hit our house. Eight weeks and counting until we depart to the kingdom of mouse and suddenly the house is filled with talk of princesses, fairies and aeroplanes. The catalyst for all of this seemed to be a guide book dropping though the letterbox. We have already, thanks to a tip off booked the princess lunch in the magic castle but failed to book the fireworks dinner party!

We have decided to book Lucy a seat of her own on the aeroplane, after much discussion we decided neither of us wanted the eight hour wrestling match when there would be two other children to contend with. Then we had to (gulp!) pay the balance of the holiday itself, so we are going now, nothing can stop us, I seem to have spent the equivalent of a day shopping for clothes for me and the children, making sure all the labels are cut off and that they are hidden away from them all. Swimming bags, sunglasses and sun hats have all been checked and thanks to a very good deal from Sainsburys stocks of sun protection are at an all time high.

We then had to decide how much baggage to take, bearing in mind we have to get it and three children though the journey without losing anything or anyone, Heather was insisting that she could fit her entire wardrobe into her beautiful Ariel suitcase, we have now convinced her to take it as hand luggage and agreed to buy a case for the kids. She wanted pink, she's getting black - it's cheaper!

Excitement was compounded when the doorbell rang and a courier delivered two passports, I breathed a sigh of relief that the slightly dodgy photos of Matthew and Lucy has passed the scrutiny of the moderators and that we didn't have to go through it all again. Heather had a panic as her new passport hasn't arrived although her old one has been returned and the fee has disappeared from our bank account so I am expecting it to turn up any day...

Heather has already delved into the book and declared that the first place we are visiting is Ariel's Grotto... I have a feeling that she thinks Mickey Mouse himself will be greeting us from the plane, how disappointed she will be when she is greeted by a surly customs officer and a luggage carousel, followed by a hike to the car rental place! Not to mention an hour in the car before we even get to the hotel, still come Sunday the magic will begin and the excitement will take over. My worst fear is that the reality after the build up Heather has given it will be a let down!

Heather has been talking to friends who have been and so seems to know more than we do, having been once BC (Before children) I can imagine this visit to Florida will be more sedate, involve less bars and roller-coasters and more playgrounds, theatre shows and character chasing autograph book in hand. Still the countdown starts now...

Monday, April 27, 2009

One weekend, two children's parties

Well this weekend heralded Matthew's very first birthday party. The invite had arrived in the post a couple of weeks previously and much to Heather's dismay this was a party all about him. He has become used to being the tag alonger as Heather attends various party. He was excited, very excited! There were about ten two/three year olds and a sprinkling of older and younger children, and an entertainer. I will admit to being apprehensive, Matthew is not always, ahem, an angel.

I was very surprised, he was so well behaved, he joined in with musical bumps, pass the parcel, parachutes, and pom-pom shaking with joy and excitement. He was so thrilled to be at the party and as soon as we had to leave he kept reciting 'I had a lovely time Mummy.' It was wonderful to see the little ones making their first social steps, some of them socialising easily, others feeling awkward and overwhelmed a little by the situation. Matthew, ever confident took it all in his stride and had a great time.

We returned to a house filled with Grandparents and a sister who questioned him closely, wanting to enjoy the party vicariously, then of course she rooted through his party bag to see if there was anything to her liking.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, today was Heather's party, she was going to dress up as a princess and she did look lovely. I was slightly irritated as the hair clip I had bought the previous day specifically to go with the dress she was wearing had managed to vanish overnight, but still off we went. As she skipped off to join in familiar with most of the children having been partying with them for nearly two years, I couldn't help thinking back to when she had been in Matthew's shoes. How much calmer the parties were then, now the children play louder and more raucous games, there have even been a few scuffles amongst the children. Still Heather danced, jumped and laughed her way through her party, was rewarded with her very own party bag and then homeward bound.

'Mummy, I'm having a party this year aren't I?'
'Yes' I answered, even though she knew the answer, she knows where it is and I had just taken the photograph for the invitations, she is having a joint party with a boy whose birthday is the day after hers.
'Mummy... We're going to give my friends a good present in their party bags, aren't we?' she said.
I gulped and nodded, oh the pressure, the search for Heather approved party bags starts here...