Sunday, 2 December 2012

Yoga and me

A  yoga move or two...

People do yoga for many reasons. 

Some do it for serenity of the mind. 
Some to destress. 
Some to make sure they are supple. 

My yoga teacher tells me it's all about the breath.

People exercise for many reasons. I run because it gives me sanity. I go to the gym mainly because it provides me with the beautiful sight of the Lancashire County Cricket Club working out before my very eyes.

BUT...

I have started to do yoga for one reason and one reason only.

I intend to win at the Weetabix game.

It started in the summer. Eighteen friends converged at a house in Wales to celebrate a 40th birthday. It was a great weekend in so many ways except one - I failed at the Weetabix game. A game I had rocked in the past.

At some point during the evening, after the small things had gone to bed and before the fancy dress box had been discovered, it was decided we should all play the Weetabix game. (I don't need to point out there was wine involved in this decision making process.)

To the non-initiated amongst you, the premise of the Weetabix game is simple. One box of Weetabix (with the contents removed). Weetabix box placed in the centre of the floor. Players take it in turn to pick up the box with their teeth. Only the feet are allowed to touch the floor. Easy. Until everyone has tried to pick the box up - and then an inch strip is torn from the top making the box shorter and thus harder to pick up. Meaning the more bendy you are, the better you are at the game.

So there we were. A room full of friends. Some limbering up and a gradually reducing box of Weetabix. (To be fair we played with a box of Coco Pops, I think this had something to do with my ruin.)

I was quite successful with the lunge approach and then my legs just wouldn't bend anymore. Leaving in those smug, willowy bendy yoga types...

They flowed to the floor. They reached for the scrap of paper that was the Weetabix/Coco Pop box and then they picked it up. Effortlessly. With not one click of an old bone.

That will be me. Next time. That box is mine.

When I am breathing in on a Thursday night, when I am giving myself calm and serenity through the power of my breath, I am really only thinking one thing.

Next year I am going to rock that Weetabix game*.

*practices yoga moves whilst typing in the downward dog.




Thursday, 18 October 2012

Shush! I'm in silence


“Don't you hate that? Uncomfortable silence. Why do we feel it's necessary to talk about bull in order to feel comfortable? That's when you know you've found somebody really special. When you can just shut the hell up for a minute and comfortably share a silence -Pulp Fiction”


I've just realised that while I've been working over the past couple of days, I've been working in silence. Pure noiseless, deafening silence.

Apart from the odd conversation with the puppy (and frankly she is rather disappointing in the old two way banter) there has been no radio, no music and no noise.

I love noise (well apart from the small things shouting me at any time from 9pm - 10 am) and I've always lived in environments where people shout, curse, sing (badly) and where there is a constant humdrum of noise traffic.

For me a happy place is a noisy place.*

I never thought I would be a silence sort of a girl, but here's the thing - I have quite enjoyed it. 

The silence that follows the chaos of the school run, the calm after the storm of the shouting that starts at 7.15am and only stops when we leave the house at 8.36 am (OR WE WILL BE LATE).  

The hours of peace before the cacophony of conversation begins again after a day of school has been well ...really rather nice.

I'm still in silence now. And the only noise I'm really looking forward to is the sounds of my wine glugging cheerfully into my giant wine glass - some might say reminiscent of the sounds of a babbling brook. 

These are acceptable noises.

Now no-one dare disturb the sound of silence...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zLfCnGVeL4

*To clarify, I mean grown up noise. Not play parks, not screaming children, not doctors surgeries and not random conversations with strangers on trains. I mean the sounds of adult life.




Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A friend for life

Project Dog

As many of you know 'Project Dog' has been gaining momentum in our house for a while now.

There was the school PR campaign that the 10 year old launched last year when her cohorts commenced on 'Campaign Cockerpoo' which essentially involved bucket loads of research and even the class teacher becoming involved in why we should buy a pooch. That girl has a career in spin ahead of her.

There has been the repeated requests. The promises that said dog will be looked after and the ultimate statement - the small things are prepared to pick up poo.

There have been many a friend who have told me what a ridiculous idea it is and many a friend who have frankly encouraged it so they can enjoy dog ownership from afar without the actually nonsense of owning a pet.

I've grown up with dogs. Two labs called Tess and Barney were a big part of my life. I know the joy of having a dog and how tying they can be. Then there is the fact that Tess - family dog of 13 years - bit my beautiful niece when I was looking after her and in one frozen moment turned from pet to animal. One moment that will forever be imprinted in my memory. (Luckily amazing niece is absolutely fine.)

So.... I know that as much as people put their dogs in their handbags and tell me that they are their babies - dogs will always be dogs in my book. A great addition to family life if you get one - but still under it all is the need to train and watch an animal. This is one of the reasons I haven't even considered it until the small things have got a bit older.

And then I found myself considering it, thinking about it, listening to the raging PR campaign fronted by the children. 

Could anything be more powerful - small things pushing cute puppies in front of my face with pleading faces and promises to be good forever.

So I decided a list was in order - the pros and cons of buying a pooch; much like that pros and cons list you write when you are deciding on finishing with your boyf when you are 15...

The pros:

- dog will be cute
- kids will love dog
- I will be best mum ever
- dog can run with me


The cons:

- dog will wreck my house
- dog could eat my shoe collection
- dog needs taking out 
- dog will poop, in my house, in my garden, on a walk
- I will have to pick up said poop
- dog will be tying
- dog requires commitment
- small things may get bored of dog
- dog will smell (even though there is a poodle parlour right on my high street = bonus)
- dog might get ill which will (a) cost and (b) upset small things
- dog will live a long time
- dog will cry when it arrives and possibly crack even my hardened heart
- a small, teensy weensy matter of possible allergies in the house
- much like those small things, I can't send a pup back

Anyway, the pup arrives on Friday.


Meet Bessie. Well, could you have resisted? 

Bring on the fun...(and mum of the year title).

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Calm, cooking and roast potatoes

The roast is in...


I am done with summer. I am welcoming autumn with open arms. I have no expectations for autumn. I have purchased my new hunter wellies to walk in the woods, kicking the autumn leaves.

I have bought a new throw for the couch so we can wrap ourselves up as the nights draw in. 

Summer be gone. You disappointed me more than Gary Barlow did when he allowed Robbie Williams back into Take That.

There are a few signs that summer is over in my house. 

The heating has been sneaked on. I have stared longingly at the fire. The chiminea in the garden is already so last season.

Xfactor is back on TV - which only heralds the countdown to Christmas. Of course I only watch it because the small things beg me. I would much rather be watching some intellectual drama with subtitles.

But the ultimate sign; the great big chiming clock of autumn that marks the end of any more (dashed) hopes of crazy days in the garden is the fact the Sunday Roast is back on the menu. Every Sunday.

It's a staple in my house, it ticks my good mum checklist (that along with pillow fights and reading with the kids) and the small things devour it like they have never eaten before. To be fair after last night's picnic tea they could be right.

It reminds me of the good old days when I was growing up, when summers really were summer, where we played out with our mates and when a penny chew was actually a penny. *stares wistfully down a rose-tinted memory lane*

It reminds me of mum mooching (when I say mooching I actually mean cleaning and doing proper mum things) around the house with the radio on and we were playing with our Sindy dolls (Barbie's just didn't cut it in our house - she was too perfect). Mum was usually ironing (something you will NEVER find me doing) and singing (badly) her own made up words to songs. My favourite still is 'The Lift is up when we are down' to this.....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFYtpTot7hQ

The Sunday Roast is a powerful meal - it's the one meal in a week where I sit down with the small things and we chat. The rest of the week is usually a chaotic mess of rushed dinners, dinners without me and a couple of days with their dad.

Today, my sis in law is coming over with her (not so) small things and the roast will be the focal point of activity all afternoon. 

But for now I am mooching* around the kitchen, drinking coffee, roasting potatoes,  whipping up Yorkshire puds, listening to music, singing the wrong words badly while the small things play on the iPad. 



Times not changed too much then.

*mooching I do not mean cleaning or ironing - that would be ridiculous. 








Monday, 20 August 2012

Listglorious

To do or not to do...that is the question

I write lists. 

The minute I get a bit panicky about what I have to achieve I write a list.

I write lists on a pad next to the fridge. I write lists on the back of receipts and find them weeks later in the back pocket of my jeans (usually washed) and I write lists on my phone and I am the queen of spreadsheets for the ultimate 'everything list'.

I have several of these on my phone currently in use http://iphone.appstorm.net/roundups/productivity-roundups/25-fantastic-to-do-list-apps-for-iphone/ but obviously I also like to back up these apps with the spreadsheet versions.

I have lists on lists. Here is a list of some of my lists:
  • Things that need doing in the house list 
Last time anything was ticked off on this list was April 2004.
  • Shopping list
Of course this list has subheadings and is separated into the food shop and the things I want to buy shop (this list is always being ticked off otherwise we'd starve).
  • Things I want for the house list 
These range from beautiful things for my kitchen to new items for the boudoir. The boudoir (for those not in the know) is the top floor of my house; used to be an office and now houses my collection of shoes, accessories and clothes. (One of the benefits of being single, you get to choose room function).
  • The shoes I need list
See above point on collection of shoes for the boudoir. A girl can never have enough shoes.
  • The bucket list 
This list is quite important and stupidly has things like GET A TATTOO written on it and CLIMB A MOUNTAIN. Both of which I am supposed to be doing before I am 40. I really need to get going on this list.
  • Things I must to today list
Always too long this list. And of course completely unachievable.
  • Things I should have done yesterday list
See above note on unachievable.
  • The ultimate list
This is the everything list, combines all of the above in a spreadsheet and is often colour coded in priority; depending on my need to avoid ticking anything off the above lists.

Writing lists makes me feel like I have done what I need to do. When I write a list I have achieved.

I know if I did what I was supposed to do, my lists wouldn't take quite so long to write. 

But then; what would I write my lists on?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Camping chaos and calm


Camping

I’m not supposed to like camping.
No double bed with white cotton sheets.
No doors to protect you from people.
No wardrobe with a choice of shoes and accessories.
No en-suite; in fact not even a toilet that you can call your own.

But I do.

I even like putting my tent up. I take pride in knowing I can erect a tent in 30 minutes (sort of well really 45 minutes but that does include the wine break).
I like being outdoors. I even like being outdoors when it rains.
I like the fact that I shoehorn a lot of equipment into my car and off we go for a weekend.
I love the fact that I’m in a field with my mates and even my phone gets ignored.
I ignore small details that would normally really upset me – like the fact that this weekend I managed to pitch the tent on an ant’s nest.

The reason I love camping so much is the feeling of calm that envelops me as the weekend settles in. As the sun starts to set and the small things roam free, I look around the field littered with tents, barbecues and camp fires and I realise (strangely) I’m in my happy place. Only for a weekend mind.

I love the fact the small things are so free, they can flex their independence.

They explore, climb, and operate as a pack having adventures and playing games that frankly just aren’t possible in my urban life.
Normal rules don’t apply, the six year old spent most of the weekend in his bare feet and I remembered to brush their teeth at around 11.30 am every day even though we had been awake since dawn o’ clock.


It’s taken me a while to get used to sleeping on a piece of tissue pretending to be a bed listening to the noises of the night and I have to ensure coffee is on a constant drip.

But when I’ve been camping for the weekend; I feel like I have really been away  (it might be because the days are soooooooooo long), I feel like we have truly left the nonsense of life behind and just had fun.

In the words of my ten year to her eight year old mate as she threw a cup of water over me this weekend and I didn’t shout:

8 year old: “My mum would have shouted if I had done that.”
10 year old: “Mum won’t shout this weekend. We’re on holiday. We’re camping. She doesn’t shout when we’re camping.”

My job was done. I was complete. I sat down in my very uncomfortable camping chair, supped my slightly too warm wine in a mug and smiled.

Note: as this blog is published, all camping equipment remains in my hallway as I don’t like putting it all away and unpacking. That sucks.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Separation and sanity

Small things, separation and a revelation


It was the week I thought would never happen.

After two years of being separated somehow the ex was taking my small things away on holiday for a week. 

To France. 

A completely different country. 

A whole plane ride away.

Now those that know me, know that I have never been THAT parent that is glued to one's small things. Only 8 weeks ago I happily abandoned them whilst I jetted off for four fun-filled days in Marbella with the girls. (Obviously I didn't leave them in the cellar with a tin of beans; they had juice aswell).

Every year I jet off on a girls ski weekend and I don't think twice about sleepovers.  (Well sleepovers that aren't at my house.)

In the past two years I have got used to them going off to their dad's for two nights a week and sometimes I have even enjoyed - no relished - that time to myself.

But this was different. It was a whole week. Seven whole days without my babies. Seven days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes without them. And they were on a plane in  a different country. I counselled myself. It was ridiculous I have got on planes, trains and automobiles that have taken me away from them....but they have never been taken away from me - and never on a stupid giant metal thing that flies in the sky. 

It was such a small subtle difference but it grew arms, legs, a beard and several heads as the day approached. 

I smiled with the small things and joined in their holiday excitement, I became a gibbering wreck with my friends as I spent nights awake on 'what ifs'. That moment when you are dropping off to sleep or you think you are dropping off to sleep and you allow your mind to wander. Only for a second it wanders into very dangerous territory when your mind takes you on the journey of the worst nightmares you can imagine. Then you stare at the ceiling counting sheep, or in my case counting hot men doing the long jump.

The day arrived and it's fair to say I was a wreck. The girls had set up a tag team of lunatic watch with regular text counselling which to be fair to all my friends not one was entitled: *Man up you blithering idiot.*

The 10 yo was wobbly - a week was a long time. The 6yo was nervous and I could have got a gold medal (see what I did there) for my credible excitement at what fun they would have. Their dad picked them up and I waved happily from the window.

Inside I crumbled, I felt like someone had tore me limb from limb. I knew it was ridiculous. I knew it was frankly mental and I knew (possibly) that they would be fine. I cried more than Gwyneth Paltrow getting an Oscar and then I cried some more.

Then I manned up. Mainly because the electricity meter man knocked on the door and I'm not sure he could have coped with my hysterics. In fact if he hadn't arrived the flash floods of the past few days could have been started from my kitchen.

Fast forward one week and my babies are back. In my arms. I met them at the airport. If T-mobile had been there, the scenes would have had more views on YouTube than Justin Bieber's inaugural performance. 

They are now in bed. We snuggled on the couch. We had a pillow fight. The 6yo made a den and the 10 yo told me all the things she had been saving up for the past 7 days which culminated in a discussion as to whether sex and section were the same thing. Normality had resumed. I sighed a giant sigh of relief.

The fact remains I love my independence. 

I love it when I choose to spend a few days abroad without my small things. 

But when they go away without me, when they are abroad without me, when I can't easily get to them and swoop in wearing my Supermum cloak I hurt.

It's subtle. It's really rather small.

It's what makes me their mum.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Girlpower

Make friends, make friends

...never never break friends



It began six months ago. Five of my oldest friends. Several glasses of wine and a determination to celebrate our last year in our thirties in style - in the sun. A plan was formed. A weekend was set and the flights were booked.


At 4.30am on Thursday, the girls arrived to pick me up for a stupid o'clock flight. As I left the house, I heard from inside the car; 'Bloody hell who brought Paloma Faith' (a comment about my lovely hat) and so the weekend had begun.


We arrived at the airport, checked in and boarded the plane to take us to the sun.  The plane was full of groups of girls, women, hens, stags, boys, very few men, each and everyone looking forward to seeing that rare sighting - rarer than hen's teeth in the UK - the sun.


On the plane, we plugged in iPhones, opened kindles, read pages and barely uttered a word - all around us people were catching up. We ignored each other. It was just perfect. Each of us content in each other's silence as we made the transition from mum to me.


We arrived at our villa, marvelled at the bedrooms, argued over the master suite and gazed longingly at the pool. Within minutes cases were abandoned, phones were laid down and bikinis, tankinis and burkinis (me) were found, bemoaned and adorned.


Then it started. The laughter. We chattered, gossiped and reminisced  over our past, caught up on latest goings-on, shared our angst, our worries and our nonsense - which even included whether the blades of grass were thicker in Spain than the UK. 


And then we laughed some more and ridiculed each other - I even snorted beer down my nose. It was one of my more classy moments in Marbs.


These girls have been part of my life for over two decades - we've been through break-ups, make-ups (and that's just us girls) boyfriends, husbands, marriages, divorces, children, illness, grief, loss and laughter. At the heart of it are six girls that met through school, clubbing and parties - and in Marbs we were those girls again, friends to the end.


The thing about friendship - true friendship - is that it just exists. 


In silence on a plane. In shared cocktails at a beach bar. During a three hour Mad Dogs styli walk in the burning heat of the midday sun to find a supermarket. Even when one of your oldest friends storms in a takes a picture of you in the shower (of course I hadn't locked the door, why would I?) A picture I might add that will never see the light of day - mainly due to the fact that I got my revenge shot the following day. Nothing is sacred.


The weekend ended with a delay at the airport. Seven hours and several bottles of champagne later we finally made a flight out of Marbs. 


And once again I was reminded about the power of friendship. I realised how lucky I am as my friends at home rallied round and sorted my small things. In an instant. In a blink of a eye - and then told me to go and drink more champagne - which of course I did.


I know two things.


This time next year we will be back in Marbella drinking in the sunshine.


My friends are blinkin important to me and I salute you.


Well actually three things:


Cocktails on the beach in the sun are just the best thing ever. 
(except for good friends of course).


*This blog is dedicated to my beautiful friends.



Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What happened to me?

The downward spiral



I don't know when it happened. I can't pinpoint the moment. 


I can't even remember when I changed.


One minute there I was obsessively reading high fashion magazines, looking at the clothes I would, may and possibly could purchase for my ever extending wardrobe and then the next I was drawn to house things. 


Things designed to make my house look better - not me. And worse still, things designed to make my house run more efficiently. Not even beautiful things.


Don't get me wrong, I still crave beautiful things for me. My boudoir and shoe collection is testament to that but I am worried about my descent into middle age.


Things I really want start with the following:


- A Utility Room
Instead of having my washer and dryer downstairs in my cellar, I dream of a room dedicated to laundry. WTF! I am screaming at myself. Laundry. A room dedicated to washing. WHAT. HAS. HAPPENED. TO. ME?


- A Larder
Now I don't mean your run of the mill cupboard which you can pull out of the wall and it cunningly displays your tins of nearly out of date tuna, your herb collection from 1996 and the emergency chicken soup just in case of illness. I mean a real larder. A walk in larder. A cupboard where all sorts of interesting things are stashed. My granny had a larder and it was often the first thing me and my sister attacked when we went on a trip to visit the wrinklies (she had proper sugar cubes). AM I TURNING INTO MY GRANNY? A LARDER?


- A Porch
I'm picturing the front door of my dreams, it opens into a wide porch where there is a wellie bootrack like this:
http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/barefootkitchen/product/barefoot-bootloop
There is a range of perfectly arranged coat hooks where the waterproofs, school coats and weekend jackets are hanging in neat rows, perhaps even colour co-ordinated and there is even a hook for school bags. Perhaps there is even room for a small ottoman where picnic rugs and everything that is currently in the boot of my car can be stored.
I realise that the porch of my dreams is also a tardis.


However, my hallway is currently my porch.


Obviously further down the list of wants include beautiful shoes, gorgeous make-up, a ready supply of botox and a personal trainer on tap.


Seriously though what has happened to me? I am concerned. What's next? Bird-watching? The W.I.? A subscription to SAGA?


How have I become that person that wants a utility, in fact not just wants a utility. I crave a utility.


All you people out there, all you people with utility rooms, you don't know how lucky you are...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Made in the UK

It's gone St George mad. Britain is balmy.

There's not a line to be seen without some reference to the Jubilee, the Olympics, the celebration of our fair and beautiful land and the commemoration of our Queen.

I get that the world has gone red white and blue crazy. I understand that we should celebrate. And I know that one of my earliest memories was the Silver Jubilee street party.

Them were the days...my mum in a pair of flares, my dad with sideburns Wolverine would crave and me and my sis running around with plastic red, white and blue hats on. The street went wild. It was a right royal knees up - it was a street sensation. I think there were even vol-au-vents.

BUT in today's mentalness, enough is enough. There's not a shop window without a union jack flag, there's not an advertising campaign without a reference to the land of hope of glory - even Kingsmill has gone Queensmill.

When did the Jubilee go from being about a right good knees up to an advertiser's dream?

And then there's the fashion. Only today I saw a woman wearing Union Jack leggings - it wasn't pretty. In fact it was down right wrong. I did consider going over to her and pointing out that quirky and wrong are two completely different things; but I didn't instead I just stared. And she had a camel toe. She didn't even have the fashion know-how to wear a long top with leggings.

I mean for the love of the Queen, do you think she would approve of these:

http://www.hiddengarments.cn/index.php/2010/10/union-jack-leggings/

Please please please can we just celebrate with some old fashioned values. A keg of beer, a plastic hat and some cucumber sarnies. A proper shindig.

There is no need to dress head to foot in the Union Jack and drape bunting from your car.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited. But then I will be in Cornwall on a beach bodyboarding in my Union Jack wetsuit.

Monday, 21 May 2012

The tortoise and the hare

WINNER...WINNER.....

I'M A WINNEEEEERRRRRRRR

*makes W winner sign with fingers*


Yes, yes I know, 40,000 other people did it aswell, but yesterday I took to the streets with my running buddy and we conquered the Manchester 10k.


I have a love hate relationship with 'running events'. I want to be part of it, I love the atmosphere but then there is the fear that I just could be last, that last person over the line with a chain of cars behind me waiting for the roads to re-open.


I run for my sanity - as I think many people do. If it were a weight loss thing, I would be so disappointed. I run because it gives me time to escape, to find me again and as I pound the pavement having a natter, the worries of my world slip away for 40 whole long blissful minutes. 


And judging by the increasing number of illuminuous running jackets in the playground, consumer research would suggest I am not alone.


Mel Gibson was so right in Want Women Want. You don't stand in front of a mirror when you run and wonder what the road will think of your outfit.


I have entered a number of 10ks over the years, mainly through being coerced into it by friends and I've have different success rates. 


Undoubtedly the worst one was the Abersoch 10k which has haunted me for years. Having run for over 12 years, I figured I could plod round any fun run, so I wasn't too concerned when a group of us girls signed up for it. We mooched on over to Abersoch the night before, had a lovely dinner and somewhat confidently I even enjoyed a glass or two of wine.


In the morning, we sauntered down to the beach when it was casually pointed out to me that we would be running along the beach for a mile, jumping over beach groynes before running uphill for approximately 5 of the 10k. Oh and it was raining. And it was windy. And for the uninitiated Abersoch is blinkin hilly.


I laughed - a little nervously - and looked round for the other fun runners; desperately searching for Spongebob Squarepants or Mr Bump. I was greeted with the view of 250 elite athletes.


I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. Elite Athletes. Tight. Toned. Muscular. In tight pants and everything. Ready to smash their 10k personal best.


It was then it hit me. I stood no chance. 


I did it. I paced myself with a 60 year old athlete. I got round. And I wasn't last. I used every single last breath to beat the 60 year old over the finish line.


So yesterday I was a little nervous that I would once again be pacing myself with a 60 year old runner. Luckily it wasn't the case, Spongebob was there as was Yoda and Darth Vadar. I was once again confident I wouldn't be last.


And then there she was...my running nemesis. The stop-starter. Coming in many different guises, the style is always the same. She runs FAST and then WALKS slow to catch her breath. I over-take as I plod along - and then I hear her behind me, catching me, running past me, before she has to walk again. 


It bugs me. Everytime I over-take her I feel a small surge of contentment and then whens she zooms past me, I sigh (well I don't actually sigh as that would expel breath I don't actually have).


The good news is that by about 7k, she can over-take no more, and I plod past her towards the finish line mentally flicking a little winner sign at her.


The tortoise does it again.











Sunday, 13 May 2012

Manners - dying a death

Mind your manners - old man!



"In sociology, manners are the unenforced standards of conduct which demonstrate that a person is proper, polite, and refined." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manners 


This wikipedia entry could of course be describing me. 


I have brought up my small things to believe in manners, to understand what they mean and to say please and thank you with the essential smatterings of excuse me. A simple death stare from me is enough to remind them in an instant of a forgotten social grace.


So it really gets on my nerves when the older generation, otherwise known as old fogies, senior citizens or old biddies seem to think it's okay not to use their manners with my small things.


Manners are in my humble opinion a two way street, regardless of age. And frankly (yes, yes I'm ranting) there have been several occasions of late when my children have been lovely and polite (and also almost spoke in the Queen's English) to old biffers and have been met with rudeness, indifference and even a glare.


Now I know that children should be seen and not heard, should know their place etc etc but if my small things politely say 'Excuse-me' then they should not be met by a curmudgeon's glare. 


It irks me. And I then usually end up muttering under my breath just like an old bean at the rudeness, at the sheer impertinence - which actually would probably have more impact if the pensioner in question had switched on their hearing aid.


Undeterred, I shall continue my quest to ensure that my small things are brought up in the knowledge of all things that are right. 


In fact I ensure they have lessons in courtesy, respect and etiquette taught to them every day, by me, their teacher. 


Lessons include:
1. The importance of respecting your elders 
Lesson: bring me a cup of coffee in the morning


2. Be nice and polite to others
Lesson: be nice to me above everyone else and you stand a good chance of getting your spends


3. Always say Please and Thank you
Lesson: mummy, ppplllleeeeaaaasssseeee can we stay up late. Thank you mummy you're the best.

4. Open doors for other people
Lesson: open the door when I am carrying wine, wine glass and mobile


5. Never interrupt when someone is speaking
Lesson: when I am talking, do not attempt to speak as this will usually result in a loss of spends, cakes, treats and generally any fun in life


Of course, these essential lessons in etiquette I am delivering are for their own good. Should they ever meet the Queen they will know how to behave, but if she doesn't reciprocate their good manners I may have to have a not so polite word in her ear.


I declare it to you now if the older generation keep treating my daaarrrllliiinngg small things with rudeness when they are being polite, I am not going to mutter under my breath, I might very well point out their own lack of manners. 


I said MIGHT.


http://pinterest.com/knightys/mind-your-manners/


P.S. I love old people

Monday, 7 May 2012

Standing behind the stove

Spatula Power



In my ongoing quest to tick the good mum box, the one thing that that allows me to award myself a big fat gold star more than anything else is cooking for the small things.


Standing in front of the stove, spatula in hand whilst the small things sit at the kitchen table, music on (pop party mix 999 is the current favourite) and random conversations a plenty. 


The good mum quest is often one that evades me and can also be made achingly hard to achieve (in my head) as a single mum. 


But I have found the solution, I know what ticks the box. 


I have the key. I have the secret. And because I am a good, kind, loving person (and sometimes great mum) I am going to gift that secret to you. So you too can wallow in the success of Spatula Power ©.


It's those small moments that count in the good parenting manual, the ones you don't even think about. It's those moments that your small things will remember and will take those parenting traditions to their kids.


It's the odd giggle, the impromptu pillow fight on a weekend morning and for the ultimate accolade, that feel good, good mum feeling, I give to you the cooking kids equation.


Cooking + Kids = Good Mum TICKS Good Mum Box. 


Realisation dawned on this cold wet bank holiday morning as the small things had begun their 'I want pancakes' chant and I started whisking up the mixture. 


I think it must go back to the dawn of time when I was little and many conversations with my mum happened in the kitchen, while she was cooking. I look back on these times with nostalgia and the knowledge that all the best cheesecakes come out of a packet.


Today, the only difference is that I, of course, tend to be cooking with a hearty glass of wine next to me. Not at breakfast time, obviously.


Sunday lunch is the same, it's probably the only staple on my parenting agenda. It's guaranteed to get us all sitting round the kitchen table discussing the meaning of life. Okay I admit, actually we are usually found sitting round the kitchen table debating whether Jessie J is better than Lady Ga Ga (I always go for Jessie).


There is nothing boho about my Sundays, but I also know there is nothing more fulfilling than my house filled with the smells of a Sunday roast, the small things mooching and with increasing insistence asking when lunch will be ready.


So this weekend I have awarded myself the 'Spatula of Success'. 


Go forth my friends, find your inner spatula.






Thursday, 26 April 2012

Word up.

Word of the day:

Splendid.



Use it. You will automatically sound a bit more posh. 


Here are some ways you can use splendid today and people will automatically think you are that touch classier than you really are.


"That was a splendid lunch. What a splendid idea."


So many people get excited about the new words going into the English language; text talk, slang speak, tweenage twang.


NOT I.


I am excited about the words we used to use. Words we need to bring back.


My favourite words at the moment include:


1. Furtle. Verb To furtle. Noun. Furtle
Example. Have a furtle in your handbag and see if you can find it.


2. Codswallop. Not even in the thesaurus.
Example. That's a pile of old codswallop. Or simply use it as an exclamation. Codswallop!  (when you have split your coffee).


3. Marvellous. See splendid. It's a marvellous word. Use it more often. Get your tongue wrapped round the syllables.


4. Giddy. I'm feeling giddy. Giddy as a kipper.


5. Tittybottlish. I'm feeling tittybottlish. It means I've come over all strange, a bit wobbly, not quite myself.


These words are indeed splendid, magnificent in fact. 


Far better than today's inventions. In fact I would go as far as to say they are well sic and the youth of today should be weljel of our beautiful emotive old school words.


Go use them with pride.


Now.


Go on.



Monday, 23 April 2012

Kitchen secrets

Family and friends found here


Last weekend was the official friends and family birthday party for my very nearly ten year old.

Twice a year I open the house up (there's also tours of the west wing on bank holidays) and throw an afternoon shin dig. The first one is just before Christmas and it's always mulled wine and mince pies.

The second is around the nearly 10 year old's birthday. The weather is always nice (I specifically order that) and the 'garden party' culminates in a crazed four to five hours where grown-ups eat food, drink wine and small things run like crazed loons in the garden and around the house.



The garden party - when I say garden party, I actually mean I open the french doors onto the square of grass and decking that can be called a garden and hope for the best.

Planning for this event is not something I plan.

It usually involves:

1. Small thing announces to a few friends when the party is planned

2. I frantically check the calendar

3. I send out text to family saying come one over

4. I meet various friends and say come on over

5. Small things randomly invite friends and say come on over

6. I mention it to the neighbours and say come on over

7. I take no notice of who can and can't come and make no note of numbers

8. The morning of the event I spring into action and muster up various dishes
(This year I actually made a chilli the day before as I had sensibly planned to undertake a car boot sale the morning of the party.)

9. On the day, everyone arrives (late) and leaves (late)

10. All conversation takes place in the kitchen (with the exception of a few men folk who can be found discussing football in the garden).

You generally can't move in the kitchen, it's full t'brim of people. People catching up, chatting away, discussing the state of school, the country, the latest relationship, pregnancy, marriage and/or divorce. Pass-the-baby, that well-known game, is played well and wine is consumed.

I have three rooms downstairs; living room, play room and kitchen and everyone still stays in the kitchen. The hub of my home.

All important conversations take place in my kitchen, news is consumed in the kitchen and issues debated (and sometimes resolved).

There's only been one real disaster at one of the bi-annual events. This occurred when various adults had strangely strayed into the living room and then shouting was heard from the bathroom.

A small thing (she was three at the time) had managed to lock herself in the bathroom. At this particular event (it was a Christmas gathering) the grown-ups were all pretty laid back (drunk) as we tried to encourage the three year old small thing to open the bathroom door. It was not successful. The other small things got quite stressed whilst the grown-ups got the giggles (drunk). Luckily trauma was averted as one of the dads (also a fireman) successfully broke the door to save the child (who incidentally was happily playing with the two boats and some bath crayons she had found).

The difference at this occasion, people had strayed away from the kitchen. People were in the living room.

We learnt a  lesson from the bathroom incident.

We should stay in the kitchen. (you can't hear if anyone is locked in the bathroom from there).

Monday, 16 April 2012

Where has Judy Blume gone?

A lesson learnt

I've been a parent for nearly ten years. 


When I had been in my 'career' for ten years, I pretty much knew what I was doing. I knew how the world of work worked, I knew the tools of my trade.

After ten years as a parent, I still often find myself completely lost. 


And this weekend was no exception. This weekend, I found myself floundering in unchartered territory, feeling my way through the fog of parenting with all the skills of someone who had never met a child before let alone been parenting for a decade.


My story is a classic tale, a tale as old as time and one that every parent must greet with some apprehension. And one I have been putting off.


Just when do you talk about 'growing up' to your small things. It appears I left it too late after curiosity got the better of my nearly ten year old - and the internet proved to be an all too willing cat.


The world of technology - one I embrace - this weekend became the big bad world of technology  where information is just too readily available and of course unfiltered and left me craving for the good old days of Judy Blume.


When I was growing up 'back in the day,' when me and my friends wanted to know about romance and sex we had Jackie magazine.  We could imagine what a relationship was like because there was a giant speech bubble explaining what the boy wanted from the girl. Then when we really wanted to know about sex we simply read Forever by Judy Blume. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forever..._(novel)


The romance, the power of words (combined with imagination) and of course the introduction of Ralph into our lives allowed our innocent (ish) minds to imagine relationships of the future.


Forever was passed from friend to friend, read under bed clothes with a torch and provided core conversation territories for us girls for many an hour (well many days, well years possibly).  


Fast forward 30 years and it doesn't seem quite as easy to ensure that my nearly ten year old learns about romance the same way I did. 


Fast forward 30 years and the joys of school-based sex education is on the curriculum. 


This weekend my nearly ten year old decided (with her mate) she wanted to research a 'real live snogg' (she had of course spelt snog wrong) and she naively put the word sex into google on her iTouch. You can imagine what it threw back.


Luckily for me and thanks to a open relationship with the nearly ten year (not to mention the fact I snatched the iTouch out of her tender grasp and shouted like a fishwife) the disaster whilst still huge was nipped in the bud.


But for me I felt that she was very quickly robbed of her innocence and tonight we had a very long discussion about relationships, what sex actually was and the importance of talking to me. 


This was done with the help of two great books.  This one 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svMO5VXOBYw called 'Mummy laid an egg' made us giggle quite a lot and 'What's Happening to Me' (version for boys and girls) http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/catalogue.aspx?area=S&subcat=SFL&id=1985 allowed me to talk about what will happen to her body as she grows up. 


The reason I am sharing this with you is not because I've got a funny story to tell.


Not tonight.


Tonight, I am sharing this because I have once again learnt a parenting lesson the hard way because I wasn't aware (stupidly) of the locks you can put on iTouch to ensure that your child is protected. I also wasn't aware of the child friendly browsers that can be downloaded so that when curiosity gets the better of the child, she/he still remains (a little) protected.


So if you are a parent, if you are fighting through the fog of new experiences as your child grows and develops you might find the following links useful to help maintain your child's innocence that little bit longer.


Me - I'm off to re-read Forever and remember the good old days when technology didn't make EVERYTHING too easy.


Have a look at the link for a good 'how-to' to add parental controls on Itouch and the safe browser inforrmation http://content.mobicip.com/content/how-setup-parental-controls-iphone-ipod-touch



Monday, 9 April 2012

Bank Holiday Guilt

Lazy days



This morning I promised myself that today would be a lazy day, we would have a full on day of mooching, of doing nothing.


And already at 11.24am I am edgy, I am feeling the need to do something. 


When I say lazy, I have of course already tackled the washing mountain and the dishwasher, made smoothies and had a full on zombie battle with the small things.


They are now settled with the Xbox and I am wondering what happened to that feeling of sloth that I used to wallow in.


Today I have to give myself permission to do nothing and even then it feels wrong. It feels even more wrong on a bank holiday when we should be making the most of the day. 


What happened? Have I just got so used to spinning plates that when they stop spinning my natural reaction is to try and make them spin again - all at the same time. 


And why should I have to give myself permission to do nothing? Why does it feel so wrong to do nothing, to 'chill', to just mooch around the house.


The small things always end the evening with: 'What are we doing tomorrow?' and begin the next day with: 'What are we doing today?' If I say nothing I am met with blank stares. I'm sure in those rose-tinted days of my growing up, my parents didn't make plans to do something every day that we were off. I am sure that we spent many an hour just making up games in the playroom with the aid of the Sindy doll (we were never barbie girls).


Maybe I need to train myself and my small things in the art of doing nothing, in the art of day dreaming, of staring into space and just letting random thoughts take over.


I think it's a disappearing art in today's manic parenting. You start the day thinking of what you need to do, the list you have written and the jobs to be achieved.


Today I am embracing bank holiday mooching and I'm not giving myself permission to have nothing planned. 


I am just not planning anything.


*sits, stares into space, daydreams

Friday, 6 April 2012

Easter dieting secrets

Get your summer body the easy way.

As I sit here happily scoffing one of the small thing's Easter eggs for breakfast, I thought I would share my keep fit secrets with you.


Who needs Davina when you have these little secrets under your belt:


1. Sleep in your gym gear. Your body will believe by the very nature you are wearing your gym gear that you are exercising and will therefore burn additional calories as you dream a little dream. 


Note: you must also wear your trainers so your feet believe you are running through the night.


2. Watch exercise DVDs - the harder the better. I always find that Davinas are indeed the ultimate in exercise hell. By watching these videos alone you will burn fat. 


Note: if you tap your toe to the music = extra calories.


3. Go to the gym. For a coffee. The mere act of walking into a place of exercise counts as exercise. By walking into the gym and meeting a friend for a coffee (in your gym gear) you will burn calories. What's the point of meeting in a local coffee shop when you know a coffee in the gym will result in weight loss!


4. Read recipes to help you lose weight. As you are eating the third Easter egg, it always helps if you flick through weight loss magazines reading and planning those recipes you would make if you could be bothered planning your food diary for the next 10 years.


5. Wine tea. Now this is really the best secret of them all. Substitute your final meal of the day with a bottle of wine. Simple, easy weight loss.


Now I have given away my secrets for weight loss success I'm off to find another Easter egg - in my trainers.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Spinning Plates

Spinning plates

I spend my life spinning plates, jumping from one plate to another trying to keep them in the air. As I am sure most people do. In fact, at the risk of alienating people, as I am sure most mums do.


Many is the week that I end it with a to do list that not only includes the jobs I need to finish for work but also the jobs I need to start as a mum. Not to mention the whole household jobs (my front door has needed painting for two years).


I sometimes feel like weekends are about ticking boxes - mainly in the mum box. 


Be good mum, drink wine, play with small things, drink wine, see friends, drink wine, ferry small things to sporting activities, then drink wine and so it goes on.


And then there is the odd weekend when it all just comes together. The perfect weekend culminating in the perfect Sunday.


This weekend was my perfect weekend.


And the reason it's been a perfect weekend is simply because I feel like I have been good mum without having to think about ticking any boxes. In fact I haven't done much thunking all weekend.


The washing basket is still full, the ironing mountain is still high (not that I do that anyway) and the dentist appointments still need to be made but this weekend has just worked.


It started on Friday evening with an impromptu night out with a couple of girlfriends putting the world to rights over a bottle of Shiraz and some tapas. Saturday was all about some quality time with the nearly 10 year old and her inaugural concert involving JLS and thousands of screaming girls.


A lie-in on Sunday followed by a netball match where the nearly 10 year old got 'man of the match' has been followed by the arrival of my cousins and their little ones. The afternoon - an afternoon of house wrecking for the small things and gossip and catch up for the grown-ups.


The french doors were open, a tent was erected (sort of) in the garden and the Sunday dinner was inhaled. And this was all followed up by a glass of wine over the garden fence with the neighbours. 


The small things are now in the land of nod and I am at one with the couch. 


The best bit of this weekend - I don't feel like I have ticked any boxes.


I don't feel like I have done something I had to to keep the plates spinning. I just did.


The weekend just happened and I am content.


Here's to many more weekends like this.





Saturday, 31 March 2012

I'm a proper embarrassing mum.

I'm a proper embarrassing mum. 

And I'm proud.



This evening I am taking the nearly 10 year old to her first gig. 


Well when I say gig I actually mean pop concert. I was just trying to be urban cool.


We are off to JLS. She's pretty excited, mainly as it gives her such kudos in the playground.  Yes JLS does indeed deliver kudos to nearly 10 year olds.


She has seen fit to deliver a number of instructions to me about our quality mother daughter afternoon. The first and most important rule of our outing today is that I haven't to embarrass her. 


Red rag. Bull.


I'm quite mortified at this (well I'm pretending to be) - how can I embarrass my nearly 10 year old. 


I am cool - well once a 6 year old said I was the coolest mum in the playground which counts -doesn't it?


I don't do much to embarrass her, I get down with the kids. 


And then it dawned on me. I do embarrass her. 


Have I become that fun mum that is making the nearly 10 year old cringe in her uber cool high tops. Maybe I am just trying too hard to get down with the kids. 


And then there is the other reason. The big reason. I can't help myself. I quite like making her cringe. It makes me laugh. A lot. When she starts to get embarrassed, I always have to take it a step further. 


On the way into school on Tuesday morning, as she was walking into class I ran up to her and smothered her in kisses, telling her I didn't know how I was going to cope all day without her. Her mates laughed. I chortled to myself all the way back to the car.


On the way to netball on Tuesday evening when I had a car full of her friends, I played my 80s tunes really loudly (I consider this education) and then as we got out of the car I showed them all how to robotic dance. Cool, yes? Her mates laughed.


And then my favourite trick of the week. I allowed both small things to go to school on their scooters which I would then carry home. The 6 year old was duly dropped off at his classroom and his stunt scooter was passed into the care of me - the responsible adult. It then made perfect sense to get on said scooter and race the nearly 10 year old through the playground to beat her to her classroom. As I jumped off the scooter and punched the air winner styli, her mates laughed.


What she doesn't know is that when she then gave up her scooter to me, a few of us mums had a scooter race down the road. We rocked urban cool as we synchronised our scooting. People stared. I know they were just jealous.


I know she laughs too. I know it gives her permission to have fun.