Sunday, 26 June 2011

Full of the joys of... Summer.

This muggy weather has suddenly given way, as they promised, to beautiful bright rays of sun. (And its lovely out there). It feels as though that is the pattern for my personal life just recently too. I feel like there has been a period of grey heaviness, much as I was able to wade through it with a half-smile, and now...well, I feel like this:

Don't you just love this image? Thats me!

The timing of my good mood is odd, because I received another Brown Envelope of Doom the other day, (this sort of depressing brand of communication is quite regular, and it always seems to contain news that gives me a bit of a shock). Its hard. I was just finding my feet, setting goals, and now I'm a bit lost again. But it doesn't seem to have dampened the mood, because lots of good stuff has been happening recently.

Take a look at my Happy List:

Sports Day.
I was a little bit emotional- it was another Mummy Milestone, being my first. Pickle Missy did me proud. Highlights? Bouncing off in the spacehopper race before the headteacher blew the whistle, and being lifted up to the basketball hoop, to have a fairer chance (given her size!) of getting a ball through it. She also finished in last place for the little race she competed in, chiefly because she was trying to keep her sunhat on.

A visit from the parentals.
The children were too tired to do much, but mum and dad were in good spirits, and it was nice to have the adult conversation, and to see the bond between them, and their grandchildren.

Moving On.
After a period of lethargy, I am motivated, and after periods of disorganization, my house and mind feel tidier. I've had a good sort-out, and I've given myself little tasks to tackle in my free time. I'm also making the effort to veg in a constructive way- reading, or making things, or working on my Thirty list.

New readers.
I got a little mention, and a LOVELY write-up, here. I was really overwhelmed, and came across the link in my stats. They made me feel like I had something relevant to say, and although its a shame that that post isn't in my usual style (so I worry that I come across a bit emotional and paranoid to new readers), I was really buzzy when I read my name in the list of recommended parenty-blogs!

Sunny Sunday.
Today in itself was a good day. We are lucky enough to have a bandstand Here, with lots of grass, and a small playground all in one enclosed (sort-of) area. You know how much I love live music... of any kind...and the weather was perfect for the brass band today. The children loved it, and I bumped into some old friends, and chatted to lots of people. Happy faces. 

Family Life.
I'm in a lovely routine- and the children are thriving on it. There have been more play-dates, and a structure to the contact they have with their dad since our mediation. Yey! Pickle Missy and Little Guy suddenly seem more secure, and confident. My little girl's school report was shining recently, and her brother is very settled and smiley at nursery. And I feel like I'm gaining friends, and making plans, (getting a tiny bit of a social life). Its lovely.

A holiday.
Its been booked. Bite me, Brown Envelope! (Although technically it was booked before that last one arrived). I am going here for a week in August.

Have you guessed? Its Ibiza, although (I'm bored of justifying it, but I feel I ought to!) it won't be the clubby part- we got a lovely deal on a half-board holiday at the opposite end of the island, where all of the slower-paced-people go! It will be wandery, and relaxing. The scenery looks fantastic. Its my first sunny holiday in 14 years, and I have (modest amounts of) shopping to do for it. You'll be hearing more of this, I'm sure.

Hoping you're full of Summery joys too...


Friday, 17 June 2011

Makey-fingers: recent results.

First of all, there was the necklace (because I do love a new challenge, and decided recently that I could be a master jewellary maker!) I've bought a few bits and pieces over the last couple of months to get me started with my new hobby, and have been perusing craft magazines and the Accesories departments of the shops for inspiration. I have thoughts on a memory-wire bracelet, and am writing down other ideas as I have them, to put by for later when my skills and materials have caught up with my imagination!

But here is my first attempt: A button necklace (some of it is out of shot- they're terribly difficult to photograph! But its a little bit longer than it looks, and symmetrical... kinda).

Then there was the thought that I'd like to get something pretty and heart-like downstairs, to cheer up the corridor. I saw some hearts on ribbons in a shop window recently, and thought that I'd have a go myself. I fixed them together in a temporary fashion, whilst I waited for some more wire (preferring that to the ribbons once I'd experimented). And I'm glad of that, because I have changed my mind about the order of the three, and the beads between them several times.

They're not hanging here, on a door, but, again, its all quite tricky to photograph! They're actually here, on a heart peg.
And the individual hearts look a little bit like this:
Its imperfect, but then, so am I! If I was to do this again, the words would be in the middle. I'm still considering what I could use over the top, if anything, as a fixitive... It may well change the whole feel of it, so I'm unsure...

There is a musical theme here, and I got hold of some spare written-music of a couple of my favourite tunes to use, then layered with decorated tissue, and the words? A bit of Shakespeare that I am fond of, (Ariel singing in The Tempest) which is also beautifully set to music by Arne. (This isn't my favourite version, but its very pretty. I think I prefer it sung a little bit more simply- Emma Kirkby perhaps?...)

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

I love the image this gives me, being the size of a fairy, flying around in an idyllic Summer. So I guess the sweetness of it makes me smile- its lovely to pass it by a couple of times a day.

Theres also a little photo of my sister, Pootle and I, that has been hanging about (not literally on a wall unfortunately), waiting to be made use of. Unfortunately it was printed on regular paper, and was a4 size, and the original print hasn't been seen for a while. It deserved a frame of its own, and something special. I fiddled about with some watercolours and pen, and came up with this. Its one of a kind!

I've also been working on something else with pen and watercolours. Its still a work-in-progress, as although it is 'finished' and framed, I'm not entirely satisfied, so am tweaking some bits. But here is a sneak preview...

Not to be out-done, the children have been busy too.

So I suppose my makey-fingers have had their exercise for a while, but this is pretty much how things go around here- inactivity in the craft department (or nothing going on of note), then I find the energy (and drive) to zoom about until the early hours for a few days in a row, just to finish those things that need finishing! At least I'm making progress on my Thirty List! I can now tick off 4 (the hearts: 'inspirational'? Well, its something that I love reading and it puts me in a good mood, so perhaps it is, indirectly), two of the three from number 5, and one skill of the three (jewellary-making) of 9.


Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Sea.

I am lucky enough to be able to get to the coast as much as I want. So most days I do.

 My dad, a Cornishman, loves to check up on its blue-ness when he visits and I wander along that way when I finish the school run. I take walks, and I run occasionally along the pathway. Little Guy takes trips to the boats sometimes, to watch the fishermen with his nursery,

I could only have dreamed of watching fisherman with my nursery. We had treats of our own, and were located near an army barracks, so probably spent lots of time peering-in at soldiers, but I sometimes wonder at the sort of things my two will get used to doing, as part of their everyday lives, to look back on. And I also wonder whether they will grow up with that 'sea loving gene' that I thought had passed me by...

Turns out, it hasn't. Its just that living so far away from it for so many years, I never realised I had one.

Sometimes, I can be persuaded into a cycle ride, and the sea wall is a very inviting route- especially on a warm day, with a little stop at a cafe, and a spot of people-watching. (Nothing sordid! I just like to imagine what these beach-dweller's lives are like, and where they have come from, and what possessed them to wear speedos and long socks, you know... that kinda thing...) The right kind of nourishment after all that pedalling is paramount: cheesy chips, cider, and one of these. The ice-cream lady said 'would you like red sauce?' Silly question.

There are many tracks playing through my head when all I can hear is waves, and seagulls, and here is just one. Enjoy.


Friday, 10 June 2011

The Castle

I mentioned our trip back here. We went to a beautiful castle a few weekends ago. Petit Filoux blogged this morning about discovering somewhere lovely on your doorstep to visit, that you just hadn't got around to seeing. Its almost the same here!

This is nearby (like, about 8 minutes in the car), and I knew it was there, but just didn't think that it was accessible for the general public as it is privately owned. Well, I was right, but the owners open up the grounds once a year, to raise money for the NSPCC. Children were free, adults were £5, which I thought was spot on. It is an attraction for gardeners, as lots of independant nursery people and plant enthusiasts set up stalls for the day, and the beautiful grounds are enough to get you all inspired about your own bit of earth!

Although we couldn't go inside, (Little Guy may never forgive me!) we could pose for photos outside the grand entrances, and wander around the huge grounds, and spot people that I knew, through work, through toddlers, through school (which was a real wake-up call- ok, I don't meet these people socially, but it was lovely to think that I at least recognised so many familiar faces from my home town. Perhaps I'm settling?!)

There were several tortoises, who had very interesting names, who were caged up for the day. I can imagine the frustration of losing your gardens to a load of tourists and gardeners, when you usually have the run (well, you know, a slow run) of the place. This may explain the grumpy behaviour- most of them had decided to coop themselves up together in the dark box at one end of the run, but there were two large tortoises sunbathing and not hiding away from the people. There was also one smaller feistier one who was butting the pair, climbing over them, and nibbling their feet.

There was also a small-ish barbecue, offering hotdogs and burgers, and a stall with ploughman's lunches. I had brought my trusty standard-mummy-issue snack boxes, and water bottles because of the heat of the glorious day, but of course we sampled the tea and cake...

There were strange noises coming from above, and a presence in the trees. We went to see if we could spot the creatures. Peacocks! With attitude! Two of them stayed where they had been when we arrived, high up in the branches for the duration of our visit, and one was playing look-out from the top of the castle, watching the visitors come in and leave. But one was on top of the garage, talking to people and swinging around grandly, and ruffling, and strutting, hiding his head, and half putting his tail up like a tease. He was also keen to wander across if you had a camera, then turn around to expose his broken tatty feathers on his behind as soon as the photographers had lined their shot up. I managed to get one thought. He was fun!

I saw a couple of peacocks in a small theme park, in France, a few years ago. I was appauled at the state of their broken and dragging-feathers, and sad, and assumed that it was because they had been cooped up. But this handsome man was almost as bad! I wonder what state of repair the Hens are to be found in?...

Did I mention the archery? A small local club had organised a little informal teaching session for a small cost. It was lovely to watch, but I wasn't particularly tempted to join in, I was a bit too embarrassed, and I've learnt that these sorts of things don't come very naturally! I'll stick to my sister's Wii I think.

 Thats my fella's board on the right. He also popped two ballons on target. I did suggest that all he needed to do to hit the middle was to take one small step to his side. Not appreciated!

Daisy chains were made, and it was as calm and peaceful as anywhere might be. We just sat on the lawns for an hour or two, chatting lazily, people-watching, nibblng cake. It was safe enough and quiet enough by late afternoon for me to let the children roam a little bit freely, barefoot. It had a real atmosphere to it. And there was so much to see and enjoy that I gladly would have stayed all evening and night! Definately worth a return visit next year...

Note the obligatory smudge in the corner of the pic! (But I couldn't crop it otherwise you'd have missed the blue of the wild flowers!) Yes, my camera is playing up again! Its very frustrating, and new batteries last for about two photos before it flashes up as 'batteries dead'. Time for a new one I think! I will put it on my list to Father Christmas :)

And when we got home, for some odd reason my children (mostly at Pickle Missy's organisation) started to call our downstairs bathroom the 'tortoise', and the upstairs the 'peacock'. (The house isn't as posh as it sounds, and I'd gladly lose a bathroom to gain a third bedroom!) It has stuck. So I have made some pictures for the doors to clarify it! Even grown-ups love colouring in.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Three-Photos-Thursday, 9th June

Meep, Meep, Meep!

Under the bridge we go!

Here we Come!

Aren't we fluffy?!


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Not using the 'L' word- a Random Think...

This week is the anniversary. The One Year of Me and my lovely Fella. And its all good. I doubt we'll celebrate, but I don't feel the need. It'll be an occasion just like the formula of us- it kinda comes and goes, and we're both happy without much fuss.
I've been surprised by some things in this relationship, and I have learnt other things. Its difficult to articulate, (ha! Lucky you lot!...) but its worth a random think, I think. This is surely (almost) what blogs were made for- a perfect place to write inexpertly about complex matters of the heart and soul! Please feel free to add any thinks of your own to the comments. Here goes:

I first tried to write out what we were, together, here- in the 'fella' section. It was the first time I'd stopped to think about it properly, (how do I introduce this guy who is sometimes on the scene, and sometimes not, but who is such a part of my life nowadays that I find him turning up in my blog posts with regular abandon?!) Well, I think it covers the situation well. We've had some fab times, a couple of less-fab ones, but I'm settled, I'm smiley... alot. There are some things about this relationship that are very different to previous ones, and I really think I'm ok about it. This came as a surprise! Its taken guts, and a 'steady hand', when sorting out my emotions, because my natural state as a girlfriend, is one of a girl that needs swooping up, and taking care of, and organising, and big emotional gestures (not to be confused with monetary ones).
This is where I have been going wrong. There are a distinct lack of those things in this Crazy Little Thing, and even though this was what I'd decided I wanted, I still had to take it as a challenge- to make myself try something new, something slightly out of my usual pattern, something less wrapped-up and co-dependant. This was needed after my previous experiences.

We give modest presents, (most of the time- tut tut for a couple of very sweet gifts he gave me last year) we don't call every day, we don't go out every weekend, and there are only four photos in existence of us together. Hey, we hardly ever even use the 'L' word. But is it neccessary just now? Is it too easy to over-use that one? Its only been a year. I'll come back to that. I've realised that what we do have is all thats required, as long as the Crazy Little Thing meets each other's needs, and feels cosy and warm. I do feel cosy and warm, without feeling penned-in. Let me tell you what things I do have with him:

  • An understanding that we have lives of our own, but a flexi-cuddle arrangement, ie, as soon as one misses the other, we find ourselves making flimsy excuses to be together again.
  • Also, that ability to be 'the only one' to the other, who understands things that happen occasionally, and can offer the right words or comfort.
  • Separate living spaces. He is around 40 or 50 minutes drive from Here, and aside from the fact that he has to do the 'running' because I'm still without a car, this suits us fine for now. For now? I wouldn't mind carrying on in this way for a couple of years or more actually, although all-the-better if I had my own transport...
  • There is little talk of 'the future'. You know? That Talk. It really isn't essential just now- we like to be around each other and that is enough for the moment. We're more than dating, but less than people that make joint decisions about what will happen. (Bad English? Yes. Sorry!)
  •  Stuff in common: spare-time stuff, and outlooks, and an appreciation of each other's hobbies. Theres a careful balance between this and 'couple-time' I guess, not that I've needed it yet, nor he for that matter- something thats been a struggle in previous relationships.
Ha! Sneaky- you can't see my gorgeous man. I am a tease. He looks like this, but theres more of him. And he bears more than a passing resemblance to Mike from Neighbours... although obviously he's infinitely better looking!..

I've always needed another half to 'complete' me. No more. Taxi for Mr Freud please- you can no longer pin that one on me! I like my independance, and so does he, but it doesn't detract from the feelings. And because of how things are, I'm not going to declare that I've found the love of my life- not only is it doomed to fail if I do, nobody has asked me to profess it, so I won't. Who knows what the future holds? And yes I trust him, but its taken a while. And like I said- I don't use the 'L' word like its going out of fashion anymore. Can you believe it? I can't! But it wasn't helping my doomed relationships when I did. Still getting used to that one, because I sure use it on my children everyday, but its not as vital as I thought it was with a partner, I've decided. What do you think?...

He said something interesting to me near the beginning- he didn't want us to 'burn out'. He admitted to that 'butterflies' feeling after our first date, just like me, when we sheltered under a brolly in the pouring rain, and we both felt that there was a real chance that there might be something between us... but he didn't want to lose that in a flash. Butterflies aren't an unwelcome addition to the mix are they? He didn't want them disappearing too quickly. Its not really an old fashioned courting thing, but theres no hurry, and this is why I like an older man!- he's right.
You get to be in charge of things this way- not led by your heart. Theres still that element of emotional unpredictability (in a good way!), only without the 'jumping feet first' feeling, or the 'never knowing what will happen once you feel settled' feeling.

So it may read as though I had to join his camp and pick up on his way of doing things. I didn't. It was a conscious decision this time, to opt for a relationship like this one, and not in the format of my previous ones. I think with the children at the ages they are now, it was, and is vital, that we have our family time for me to do my thing with them in the Single Mummy Zone, without any relationship stuff around me sometimes. He sees them a fair amount, and I'm not saying this for the purposes of giving the right impression, but I genuinely mean it when I say: the children can't get enough of him. No plans for him to become a permanent live-in-role model in their lives just now though, even though they'd love that, so they'll have to get used to it! I'm determined not to involve him too much too soon.We come as a package, but they're not going to become his responsibility- they're all mine mine mine!

I'm not being smug- I haven't got The Solution to life's great questions of love, and its not perfect, in fact theres often lots of alone-times, (although I need them, if I am to work out who I am and what I need to do) but its damn hard being the single mummy trying to date a scrummy boyfriend, especially when his 'outside of us' life is family and going out, and having a laugh with best friends, and mine, (because I can't do those things very often, woe is me, blah blah blah...) is going to the park, catching up on phonecalls, or tidying the kitchen. But I love (ooh- I used the L-word!) being with somebody who makes me happy, and I have found somebody who does that.

And now I will stop writing about relationships like I have a Carrie collumn in a New York paper. Normal service will be resumed! Hope you are all having a lovely week.


A Little Visit.

Here are my two Little People and their Cousin, Mini-P. I mentioned she would be coming on a holiday, like a Big Brave Girl, to spend time with us while her Mummy and Daddy relaxed a little bit. This picture captures it all: the very sweet relationship between the three, and the liveliness and cheekiness of each. I have however decided:

  • It is quite important to get 'those odd jobs' around the house completed before a toddler-visit! They may never be completed otherwise.
  • Similarly, things should be organised 'away'- beware boxes of 'things' and little stashes of wool and crochet etc... but be matter-of-fact, and imprecise when it comes to standards of toy-tidyness- its gonna get messy!
  • Raisins (multiple boxes) are useful, both as snacks, and bargaining tools.
  • Be organised, and have activities spare. If early risers are rising earlier than usual, get out and about and involved in something after breakfast. They may even repay you in naps later on!
  • Things don't have to cost, and you don't have to go far. This won't always be the case, but at this age, it is perfectly acceptable to visit ducks, go to the library and have picnics at the park with school friends. As I don't have a car (and would have problems fitting three car seats in if I did) this was useful.
  • Sleeping routines are easier with three!... bizarrely.
  • Prams are handy to hang things on! After a year or so without one, it was quite a welcome rediscovery.
  • Socks are optional- lifes too short.

I do love encouraging time together between these little three. I don't have any cousins, but I've heard tell of the wonderful relationship that cousins can have, to be 'like siblings' and 'people you always know, and have things in common with' are two descriptions from friends, that have stuck with me. I don't care about the distance- these little people are gonna love each other! I was pleasantly surprised with my two. Little Guy seemed to get much older this week, and take his turn at 'looking after' a younger one. Pickle Missy was quite at home, with two smaller people to help organise. But they were lovely, and very helpful, and Mini-P was never alone or at a loss for things to do. She flitted between the options of playing with my youngest, because they have lots in common, being just 9 months apart, and going ultra girly, with unicorns, and bracelet-wearing with her biggest cousin.

Did I ever tell you about Mini-P's arrival? By the photo above, you might not think that she will be celebrating her third birthday in September. Yes, small babies and petite children do run in our family, but this Little Person arrived nearly three months early, on September 30th 2008, by emergency c-section, weighing 2lb 3oz, and was eventually allowed home on New Years Eve.

Mini-P and Mummy giving Kangaroo Cuddle Care! The best types of cuddles. My son was 6 weeks early and in special care for three weeks, (little did we know how much more we would learn about SCBU units the following year) so I remember these times too.

When she is being a bit of a terror, and feeling quite willful (there were a few instances!), and driving her parents round the bend, we have to remind ourselves that if she wasn't as strong as she is, her history may have been entirely different. She is healthy and fit, and no longer under any hospital care, and very vocal!

So it was particularly lovely to see her make the long journey (two trains and a car, with the second and third leg of the journey without her mummy or daddy) confidently, and to eat well, mix well, and play beautifully.
Please excuse the nude Peppa Pig- we have no idea where her dress is!

Pootle, her mummy, met with friends, shopped, and got her hair done, (yey for lovely things that mummies so often don't get to do!) and (hopefully) rested for a few days, before joining us Here for two nights. Oh I do miss my sister, and am in constant awe of those who have their loved ones nearby. We drank cider, had party planning sessions, fajitas, and evening walks around town (thanks to a willing fella, babysitting and sending us out for a couple of hours to catch up). There was the usual talk about the distance, and if something might be done, if somebody might move. Its not looking do-able for the moment, but we did make use of the time together. Next meet-up will be late July I think. Looking forward to it already.