Thursday, 30 April 2015

After school at the park

A slight shift in my working patterns mean our week has changed a little bit.  This is great because from now on, we can all go to the park after school one day a week instead of rushing home to go to football or tennis lessons.

Our first day was last week, when the spring weather made the swings, slides and this off road 'car' irresistible to my two.  Watching them play together and have such great fun is definitely worth the change to my working week.

They both loved this car which wobbles and has a steering wheel, and while toddler girl was driving, our son played peekaboo with her.  The fresh air, smiles and fun made for a happy half hour and I can't wait to do it again.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 26 April 2015

St George's Day - My Sunday Photo

It was St George's Day this week, and our son's school had a dress up day to celebrate.  Here's our son as St George, he loved his costume!  All the kids looked great, and our son even had one of his friends as his princess for the day.  Good job there were no dragons in the playground!

Linking up wth One Dad 3 Girls for My Sunday Photo.


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Saturday six - six great things about being six

A blog post all about being six, because I think six is a brilliant age. Our son LOVES being six, he's big and small and the world makes sense. If I asked him, I'm sure these would be his favourite things about his age:

1. The world is a happy place.

Which is as it should be, of course. Holidays, birthdays, so many things are celebrated. And it all happens as if by magic. THere's no news to worry about, money to balance. People smile and hand over balloons and crayons, and ice creams and party bags. Amazing.

2. School is for playing, learning and chatting to your friends.

Our son loves school, and he's very lucky to not find any of the work difficult. To him, school is a place to acquire facts, a play football with his friends at lunch time. What a cool place to go.

3. Teddy is still a friend, and a comfort.

Old Fluff Ted is our son's very best ted and has been around since he was born. He loves to cuddle him, and goes to sleep with him every night.

4. Parents are still quite cool

And they know stuff.  I am still allowed to kiss my son goodbye in the morning on the school playground.  Sometimes he even holds my hand when crossing a road.  He loves his Dad, and especially his knowledge of cars.  We are not yet deeply uncool or embarrassing.  Happy days. 

5. Still small enough for cuddles

Cuddles are diminishing, but sometimes our son still loves to cuddle up on my lap.  I never want those cuddles to stop.

6.  Big enough to be a big boy

There is nothing greater than being a big boy in our son's eyes.  Reading The Beano, watching touring car racing, washing the car, helping look after his sister, he really rises to being treated like a big boy with extra responsibility.  

Small, but big.  Happy and content.  Secure.  Surely we could all learn a lot from being six?

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Eight things not to say to a working Mum (or Dad)

Like most working parents, balancing work/family/marriage/everything is a constant game of plate spinning.  And by game, of course I mean trial.  One careless comment at work the other day completely floored me, so I thought I'd compile a list of things NOT to say to any working parent, Mums in particular.  You're welcome.

1. 'I don't know how you do it'

My personal favourite, this one.  The reality, of course, is that I don't.  My house is a tip, my son goes to school in wiped clean clothes more often than I'd like.  Nursery has given up even trying to get its bills paid on time.  Our library card is blocked because I forgot to return a book for three months.  Yep, three.  Work deadlines are aspirations these days, and there's always slack built into a deadline isn't there?  Telling me how you feel about me 'doing it all' only serves to remind me how I am completely failing to do anything at all well.

2. 'You look tired' (usually accompanied by a sympathetic look)

Thanks.  No really, thanks.  I know you mean this in a sympathetic way, but I'm fully aware that the six years I've been a parent have taken their toll on my once wrinkle free skin.  The two years my daughter hasn't slept through the night don’t exactly make me glow.  But in my head I am still 22.  22 I tell you!  Please don't remind me that this constant exhaustion shows and heaven forbid, I look close to my age.

3. 'Don't you take it in turns to have a lie in at the weekend?'

Sometimes, yes, mostly no.  Having already been woken (and not for the first time that night) at the crack of dawn, listening to my husband slowly let chaos descend downstairs once a week is not exactly relaxing.  And neither is dealing with two BOUNCY children that have been penned into a room so they don't wake me for an hour.  After many months of trying, I have totally concluded that it just isn't worth it.

4. 'They're not little for long'

Oh really?  By my calculations, our toddler has been little for two years and two months so far.  That's quite long enough to be woken every night, deal with nappies and all the other 'joys' that come with young children.  Sometimes the hours the kids are awake and clinging to my legs take years to tick tock their way through.  YEARS.  So thanks, but it definitely is not 'flying by' most days.

5. 'You can make the out of hours meeting at 5.30pm just this once, right?'

Yes, yes I can.  It's no problem to bribe my son with chocolate just before bedtime to keep him quiet during the call.  And yes, sure, I'll pick our daughter up from nursery at 6.30pm, because her day isn't long enough already.  And absolutely no worries, I can delay our entire evening for you, because time really isn't in short supply at all.  Of course I can make it.

6. 'Yes, but you only work part time'

Only.  That's right, I'm 'only' doing a full time job (work) in part time hours.  And yes, my other job (parenting), is also part time.  Correct!  I'd describe both these as 'only' part time, too.

7. 'Date nights without the kids are so important'

If by date night you mean slumped on the sofa, asleep, then yes, I completely agree.  Going out out is not really a feature of my life anymore.  Unless you count Pizza Hut with the kids.  I can talk to my husband for a few minutes while they're occupied with ice cream factory faces.  And I'm not asleep, so that counts, right?

8. 'Oh that is a long day'

I know my kids have long days sometimes, you do not have to tell me this.  I'm doing my best here to balance work, family and our basic need for finance.  I do not need you to remind me that my kids have long days sometimes.  I minimise it where I can, but sometimes that's just how it is.  And you know what?  We're all doing just fine.  Thanks though.

I'd love to know what 'gems' people say to you, do you get these too?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Saturday six - ways to spend a toddler's nap time

Toddler girl still has a lovely nap in the middle of the day.  If I'm lucky, it's an hour and a half.  On non-working days, this is the only time I get to myself all week! 

Here are six ways I spend that time.

1. Sleep - sometimes I'm so desperate for sleep, that my bed is just irresistible.  Even better if the sun's coming through the window and landing on my feet.  I set the alarm so I wake up 10 minutes before toddler girl, just so I don't have to leap out of bed.  Pure bliss.

2. Housework.  Obviously the very least preferred option here, to be used only when you're at the very dregs of your clean clothes, wading through carpet fluff/crumbs and your sheets are practically standing up by themselves.  Yes, when things get so bad around the house that even your husband is noticing, it's time to do a job or two.

3. Twitter.  I wonder how many hours of my life have been spent engrossed in Twitter.  I love getting a cup of tea, piece of cake and having some one to one time with my phone.  On Twitter though, not that sort of time!  Blog posts, gossip, competitions, or just those friend type people on my screen.  I love it.

4. Sitting outside, sunbathing.  This one doesn't work all year round, but with our recent run of good weather, I have been known to sit on our patio, sometimes even lying down on our patio.  See points one and three above for how this time is spent.  Top up your tan, and a vitamin D boost.  Whatever gets you through I say.

5. Getting clean.  Ever wonder how those beautifully manicured and made up Mums in the school playground do it?  Yep, me too.  Sometimes this is the only time of day I get to shower.  But I can't dry my hair, because that would wake toddler girl.  How to fill the air drying time?  See point three above.

6. Blogging. Well this post is proof really, isn't it?

I'd love to know what six things you're thinking about this Saturday, please leave a comment.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Friday funny - the things kids say

Our son is watching Mr Tumble with his sister.  He's talking to his Dad.

Justin is standing on a train station platform.  As the train pulls away, he turns to talk to the camera.

Our son: "Well you missed your train there Mr Tumble!".

Has us rolling around laughing - who knew sarcasm existing in six year olds!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Packwood House - our first National Trust visit

The National Trust is really a wonderful organisation - its aim is to save our country's heritage.  I absolutely adore our country and our heritage, wildlife and diversity, and genuinely feel we should all do our part to preserve it.

So we recently joined the National Trust as a family, and took the kids on an Easter Egg hunt at Packwood House in Warwickshire.  It's reasonably local for us, and I'm so glad we went there.

The egg hunt was throughout the grounds, and we spent ages walking round outside.  The gardens are absolutely wonderful and so well planned and maintained.  A balance was really well achieved though and the kids were still pretty much free to run round almost at will!

Here's some pics of Packwood House's grounds and you can read more about the property on the National Trust website.

We have loads of places marked on our map of National Trust properties to visit; I'd love to hear about any you recommend though!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A brave question - headspace

Do you ever talk to people and wonder what their story is?  What's behind the words they're saying, and why they ended up saying what they did?

A colleague and almost friend, rang me at work last week.  They told me they were about to take an extended holiday from work.  They'd be back, but needed some time to reclaim some headspace.

If I'm honest, I've worked with this person for a while and noticed things weren't as they once were.  Don't we all notice subtle changes in colleagues' behaviour when we get on with them?

I wonder why I didn't ask if things were ok.  Do you ever ask colleagues if things are ok?

I work in a supportive, but pressurised environment.  We're all expected to work hard, and operate as a team.  At times, it's hard.  But isn't this true of most places?

It struck me as brave for someone to ask the company for some time off, because they needed a break.  And I've spent the last few days wondering why I would think it is brave?  When we face physical illness, we're quick to tell others to go home, rest up.  So shouldn't it be the same when we're weary, and things are too much?

I will really miss my colleague, but I am really glad they're taking a break.  I know they will come back to work and sincerely hope the headspace they so need to reclaim, is back.

And next time, I'll try and get behind the words and understand what's going on.  I''m sure this person has lots of friends, but isn't there always room for one more?

Monday, 13 April 2015

Thick as thieves and working together

My two kids have been talking and playing so nicely together recently, it's lovely to see.

We laugh at toddler girl, who seems to think she's six, like her big brother.  There's nothing he does that she won't try.  When our son lined up for a haircut the other day, she got a chair and wanted one too!

She loves to play cars with her brother, and one of her favourite toys is his Lightning McQueen 'race case'.  I think it's a good job people have given up buying her pink stuff!

Here they are on the morning of the Easter egg hunt, checking out their haul.  It makes me very proud that our son always slows down for his sister, and makes sure she can keep up with him.  He usually lets her win at whatever they're playing too.

There's no right answer when it comes to an age gap for siblings, but I'm so glad there's four years between these two.  It works well for us and we've never had any rivalry or jealousy.  I sometimes wonder if they'd been closer together if it would've been a different story.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

A day at the funfair - My Sunday Photo

We've had a great Easter holiday and the kids have been kept really busy.  We've all enjoyed the nicer weather so much - you can almost hear the country breathe a sigh of relief that winter is behind us.

So with one of those sunny days, we took our kids to the funfair.  There were loads of lovely rides that were perfect particularly for our son.  He took a real shine to this one though - cars driving round a track.  He loved steering, even though it made no difference to the ride!

He looks so happy here, and it really sums up his week, I think.


Friday, 3 April 2015

Surface #WotW

Sometimes its good to come up for air. 

I'm not sure if it's ticking a few hard things off my work to-do list, or the weather improving, or maybe even all the sleep I've had trying to fight off tonsillitis, but this week I've really felt like I've been surfacing after a long period in the dark.

It's a huge relief to be able to think straight and breathe.  It's really been a while.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 2 April 2015

On the nemesis hour

This being a parent lark is pretty tough.  And if there's one hour that gets me every day, it's the bathtime hour.

I read about parents who love this hour of calmness, bonding, bathtime splashes and cuddles and I wonder where their children came from.  Some sort of spiritual retreat, no doubt.

In our house, it's frenetic, fraught and fast.  My desire, no need, to get the kids in bed supercedes any bonding moments.  After a stressful day at work, with two kranky tired kids, just about the last thing I want to do is bond - unless it's with chocolate, or wine obviously.

So bathtime probably isn't approached with the unflappable parenting it should be, which I'm sure doesn't really help the situation.

To be fair, our son is really very good.  He puts up with a lot from his tantrum-ing little sister.  Having spent all day at nursery, she, quite literally, clings to me, desperate for ever more cuddles  I suspect she's learnt that cuddles are about the only thing that I can't resist, and it does a good job of delaying bed time.

And why is it kids don't want to go to bed?  I would love to go to bed at 7.30pm, having been bathed and put in lovely clean warm pyjamas - that I didn't have to wash.  Our son is desperate to read in bed every night, our daughter just desperate to do anything but go to bed.

But somehow, having scraped through bathtime, in bed they end up.  And don't get me started on storytime.  Having made it this far, we then have pages and pages of reading to go through.  Our son can read himself now, and knows if you so much as miss a word, let alone the entire paragraph 'forgetting' we can still get away with for toddler girl.

And finally, kids in bed, reasonably settled, I creep downstairs for an hour on the sofa where I try really hard not to fall asleep, before the jobs for the next day start.

I head straight for the chocolate, and wine.  Obviously.

Is it just me?