Tag Archives: Family

Cyber holiday… Almost

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On Sunday I deactivated my Facebook account, putting my personal and business page into some sort of suspended animation, frozen, switched off, silent. Triggered by a long overdue need to unplug, some challenges in my business, some stresses in my personal life, the time had come, in anticipation of our family holiday, to silence the social networking beast.

It possibly seems hypocritical to have switched Facebook off and then to be writing a blog about it but this is exactly my point. The endless hours I wasted checking my Facebook page for notifications, messages, tags, @ mentions and new posts in the groups and pages I like, life was passing me by!

My children, if asked to draw a picture of me would probably draw the apple logo on my nose for wherever we are I’ve been hooked into the Facebook matrix via the apps on my phone and iPad. It’s a sorry state of affairs when your brain starts interpreting every situation, task, trial or experience as a Facebook status, check-in or photo comment. My reaction to the boy pulling some awesome new stunts on his scooter should be to applaud, congratulate, encourage and hug him, not check it in with some catchy status like “Annie Smith…’is watching the boy perfect new tricks on the super scooter’ at St James Park” he won’t remember the check-ins but he will remember his amazing achievements being ignored whilst Mummy tip taps away on her technology AGAIN!

I’ve justified it to myself all this time because I have a business page on there, I must always be available in case a potential client needs to contact me, simply not true. I have a website, an email address, a phone number and a contact form, they can contact me 24/7 if they want to, they don’t need me to be on Facebook to do it and in fact it causes more issues if I am on there… Heaven help me if I update my status to say I’m having a glass of red and a take out when someone is waiting for their gallery to be uploaded…. Bring on the messages headed ‘I see you’re online, is my gallery ready yet!’

So for now I’m out of it. I’m going to try and stay out of it at least till the end of half term, and if/when I do go back it will be on a very limited basis!

White feathers, dreams and things…

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I’m not a religious person, I used to be, I was raised catholic but that’s not what I want to write about today, the point is I’m not religious but I do believe in the human spirit and that it is more than just the human being it exists in at any one time.

My mum died on 12th November 2010 (12/11/10 interesting number sequence!) after a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis, before her death I used to dream about it. For as much as a decade before it actually happen I would dream of her dying, it was never in horrific circumstances but it was always very real and very, very sad, I often woke up literally sobbing.

At some point in the last decade I was also told that some people believe that time is a very human concept, evolved by man to make sense of things but that past, present and future may not exist in the same context on the, for want of a better word, spiritual plane.

Somewhere in my head I bought that belief together with the dreams and developed the idea that somehow, on some level the dreams were my mums way of preparing me for the inevitable, for the absolute certainty that my Mum would die and that I couldn’t stop it. I have never really concluded whether it was my subconscious creating that idea of whether I believed somehow that my mum was influencing those dreams on some spiritual level but I didn’t matter as they served their purpose and when her time came it was a peaceful and loving time for our family.

The reason for writing this post however is because I don’t dream of her very often these days but I did last night, in the dream she was alive and not as sick as she had been the last decade of her life but was still frail and the MS still made her vulnerable. Aside from a weird start to the dream that involved my dad, some bats (the flying kind!) and the garage of our old house, it was a simple dreaming experience. I went into her room to find her falling out of bed (something that happened many times in real life), I caught her just in time and put her gently back into a comfortable position to rest and then I woke up.

I woke content to have spent time with my Mum albeit in a dream but also highly attuned to what day it was, you see today my husband, who I love enormously, had an operation to remove his gallbladder, he was very nervous, as was I and although very common he has had more than his fair share of medical problems and we both just wanted it over and done with.

I quickly moved on with getting us to the hospital only mentioning the dream in passing to him and we sat around and waited 4hrs until it was his turn, I was duly sent on my way and told the nurses would call me when he was out of theatre and so I headed to the car park to wait at home. As I got into the car I noticed something on the windscreen, a small, perfect, pure white feather. And I knew that everything was going to be alright.

As I said I’m not a religious person but I do believe in the human spirit and somehow, I am certain, my Mum looked after him for me today, thanks Mum x

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Step back and let them play!

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So the short people that live upstairs have been arguing a little bit lately. She wants ALL her toys left alone and only played with when SHE wants to, SHE also wants access to all of HIS toys and refuses to understand that it works both ways. HE on the other hand wants to play with whatever she is playing whether it’s hers, his or the cats! Quite often they play nicely for 5 minutes then a fight ensues over the ‘best’ toy that they both want!

I’m tired of it to tell the truth and my response ranges from roaring with anger and telling them both of, to accusing whoever looks the guiltiest to ignoring them both in the hope that they will resolve it without loss of limb or life!

Being outdoors helps, I can sit in my office and watch from a distance and they often play better if I’m not there to go running to with tall tales about who started what but I still have to be close by otherwise he hits her with a golf {toy} club and she pushed him over. When it’s raining they drive me nuts, I encouraging them playing together and his two year old imagination is just starting to take shape but as she wonders off into the world of fairies and princesses he wants to battle dragons as a superhero. Boys and girls are SO different!

So the lesson for her at the moment is to respect his spaces, his things and the need for him to be allowed to learn to play on his own. The lesson for his is that his sister is not a boy, she doesn’t want to be a knight or fight or climb. The lesson for me…. Know when to step in and know when to step out… I’m still learning!

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Creating a timeline for our children

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Facebook timeline, it’s occurred to me that my children will grow up to find that their Mum has kept a detailed chronological record of their lives from their birth (my status March 08 reads: Willow Heidi Smith, 1hr 24 min old, she arrived 6th March at 1.55am, she’s amazing) through to other major events (when my Mum passed away in November 2010 I wrote: few people have the privilege of being able to hold their loved ones as they gently pass from this world into the next, we love you Mum and we are all so grateful to have been together today, my heart is aching, such a beautiful and gentle mother, watch over us x x x x)

I’m starting to weigh up the pros and cons of this, on the plus side it means they will have a detailed window into their Mum and Dads lives, where we went (through all the ‘check-in’s) to how they behaved as infants but then I started to worry! If this is going to be there for them to read do I celebrate the positives enough or do I spend too much time moaning about sleepless nights and teething? Do I share things they will be mortified to read as young adults or am I recording memories that would otherwise slip away into the past?

As I mentioned above I lost my own Mum in 2010 and one of the overwhelming feelings I have is that I didn’t know her well enough, I mean I did obviously know her very well but I find myself wondering what she was like as a child, I can only guess at the things she would have ‘liked’ on Facebook, though to be fair she wasn’t much interested in technology so probably would never have used it even if she’d been able to (she had progressive MS for 32 years!).

So when my own children look back on my timeline, either with me or after I’m gone what will they be gaining from it? Will it reveal the real me or will it only show the version of me I choose to portray online? We all do a bit of a PR job on ourselves online… Some write with such melodrama that you’d never recognise their calm exterior on the street, others with charisma that far outperforms their face to face contact, I’ve known friends describe themselves in ways that are completely alien to me, but is this perception or reality?

My children will never know a world without touch screen, social networking, wireless technology, they will be different adults because of this… Make no mistake this is changing all the rules of social interaction! I’m sure some much smarter people are already studying these ideas and writing about them so I won’t claim to be an expert on human nature or psychology but I do know that relationships are built and developed based on trust, knowledge of one another and shared interests… On the one hand social networking has all the potential to accelerate the way humans form bonds and develop friendships, on the other it is so wide open for abuse it’s frightening!

My husband doesn’t do social networking (yet! He didn’t ‘do’ mobile phones until about 2008!) and doesn’t suffer for it, he is still happy to actually talk to people face to face or on the telephone (oh that’s what those little smart boxes are we all carry!) whereas I never have time for that nonsense and arrange what I call my ‘real life’ though a range of tweets, direct messages and status updates. I’m going to make a mental note to revisit this post each year to see how things have developed!

As always I would love to know your thoughts?

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10 on Tuesday 21st February

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1. Seriously? It’s February 21st? Thanks goodness it’s a leap year because this 2012 lark is just flying by and we need all the extra days we can get! I swear they just went back to school after Christmas like yesterday but no, we’ve had half term already!

2. Our new porch is still not finished. The walls and door are up and the roof is getting their but it’s soooo slooooow! Our roofer lives next door, he makes great roofs, he makes them slooooowly! Oh well at least I have a dry dumping ground for the buggy, shoes and coats.

3. We have all been poorly again this week, hubby has the kind of flu symptoms that require play station 3 therapy (!) 3yr old is recovering from a tummy bug, the 1yr old is still teething (will it ever end! There should be a grown up tooth fairy to reward adults when their children get new teeth!) and I still have a sore throat which has never left since I had flu over a month ago!

4. In happier news, we have a holiday booked and I am so excited, if you like holidaying in this country then I cannot recommend south Devon highly enough, we are returning to Ladram Bay, my husband has holidayed their since he was a child and our own kids think its heaven on earth! Having a holiday booked is essential to my state of mind, I cling onto having something to look forward to!

5. The children’s birthday party is coming together, invitations have gone out to preschool friends today, husband has announced the party bag budget and I’ve been Pinteresting cake ideas! If you aren’t on Pinterest yet you must try it it’s sooooo addictive!

6. I need to find time to write a business plan, a proper one, not an overgrown to-do list! My photography business is steadily building up, much to my delight, but I have so many ideas and they will each take planning and preparation, if only I had a spare week to get it all written out properly?

7. Yesterday I ate utter rubbish ALL day! I must be premenstrual or something because I ate more cake, pastry and chocolate than any human reasonable should, I just couldn’t stop, a total carb craving all day! I am proud to say that I have NEVER been on a diet in my life and I am not about to start now but bloody hell do I need to stop and think about the sheer volume of junk I consume followed by days of not having time for breakfast or lunch, it’s just not sustainable!

8. I have felt the warmth of the sun on my back he last few days! Isn’t it amazing how that feeling is like an injection of endorphins or whatever those feel good critters inside us are called! Sunshine makes me happy. I may have to move our little family to warmer lands! Great that the sun stays up longer though, blue skies and sunshine at 5:15pm yesterday so not sure why all the cars felt the need to have their lights on?

9. The 3yr old is getting interested in writing, she loves to copy letters and words and trace dots so I found a dotty font on the computer and have printed a load of sheets with words and sentences for her, it got me thinking though what level they are supposed to be at when they start school? She starts in September and will be 4 and a half by then, hopefully writing her name and some other words confidently… Is that good enough… Is that something they’d rather we didn’t bother teaching them yet? She has a hunger for learning!

10. I need To find a hairstyle that actually suits me and doesn’t require hours of styling, I had planned on a trip to the salon yesterday but time ran away with me again and I didn’t get round to it, which is probably a good thing as I had planned to ask for ‘something shaggy, that looks ok if I just flop out of bed and out the door!’ my standards have slipped way too far… I need to put a little glamour back in my life…. Lip gloss and red knickers just aren’t enough!

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Why does everyone else seem to cope with everything else 100% better than I do?

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I’m hiding in my bedroom as I write this, it follows another dismal mealtime where the kids refused pretty much everything. Having tried the gourmet freshly made with lovely produce approach already this week I thought I’d give Heinz a go at my daughters request… Sausages and spaghetti! I’m sure Italians all over the world cringe at the description and pigs throughout the farming industry laugh at the claim to be a sausage!

I’ve long thought that pretty much all the weaning advice we get these days is ridiculously flawed! Introducing a wide range of new tastes and textures is supposed to make for a great and varied palate as they grow… Well that’s tosh! Mine we anything during weaning but have become fussy little trouble makers since learning the words ‘no’ and ‘more’ and ‘dip dip’.

I’m wondering if as bland a diet as nutrition would allow would not be better until they are at least 2 and then new flavours and textures might be thrill rather than a reminder that they are not having their favourite homemade spaghetti bolognese again tonight because they have already had it 3 times this week!

I have tried involving the children in cooking, telling them they get what they are given, smaller portions, larger portions, different plates, new cutlery, delicious puddings for empty plates, choo choo’s for delivering mouthfuls, songs and stories to keep them motivated, but nothing works, not nagging, moaning, shouting, crying or banging my head on the table.

The other weekend when we had a rare opportunity to all eat a meal together as a family my daughter did something incredibly annoying… “eat up Mummy, the carrots will help you to see in the dark!….. Finish your potatoes Mummy, come on I haven’t got all day!…. Make sure your plate is clear or you won’t get any pudding Mummy!”…. It was the single most annoying thing ever! Having someone watch and scrutinise every mouthful, to be constantly demanding I move onto the next one, to be in my face at what should have been enjoyable family time!

So… I’ve not cracked it yet but I’m trying to remember 3 really important things:
1. They’ll l eat when they’re hungry
2. They’re never going to like everything… I don’t.
3. Being moaned at to eat is really, really, really pointless…. And annoying!

As always tips from the wisest amongst you are welcomed!

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10 on Tuesday 14th February

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1. It’s valentines day, and for the record, my husband and I do NOTHING for valentines day, not even cards! Neither of us is prone to big romantic gestures, we love each other every day and see no reason to waste £50 every February 14th, we are the bah humbug of valentines day. True.

2. Took the kids to a 2nd birthday party today, it’s half term so a midweek party makes sense, I can’t go to parties at the moment without scrutinising the details in preparation for my own kids party next month! It was a lovely affair, key points noted were a) kids don’t eat much at parties so don’t over supply food, b) kids don’t care what’s in the pass-the-parcel as long as they get a turn and c) always have loads of balloons!

3. We now have a new porch but it doesn’t have a roof. The window men did a fab job putting the porch together, our neighbourhood the roofer now needs to put a lid on it… He hasn’t yet, I’ve no idea why not, it’s most peculiar looking the door to a small room with no roof! …. On and the postman has overlooked the no roof thing…. Good job it’s not raining!

4. My husband has gone to Gloucester today or GlowStar as I like to call it, this means one of two things, either he will be home really early and we can all enjoy some family time before I go to work this evening OR he will be home really late and I’ll have to get the kids in the car and exchange the children with him at the office door, I’m hoping it’s the former.

5. My daughter is practicing her writing on an almost daily basis, I write the letters in dots, then she goes over it in pen, she’s getting very good! When on earth are they supposed to be able to write anyway?

6. I have no butter or squash in the house, this means a walk to the shop with the kids later and the inevitable begging from them for something sweet as a treat. We’ve already been to the aforementioned party today so they’ve had their quota of sweetness for today… If I could avoid going I would but the kids could really do with the fresh air and did I mention I need milk too? Without out the world will stop turning at bedtime!

7. Being that it’s half term we will be on a few play dates this week, tomorrow’s is soft play, I will need eyes in the back of my head as both kids spin off in different directions, it will be hot, exhausting and when it’s time to leave one or more of the kids will lay down on the floor and throw the mother of all tantrums. I. Can’t. Wait.

8. Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom, changed the beds, hoovered the house top to bottom, today you would never know I’d done any of that, why can’t I ever achieve that ‘Good Housekeeping’ look, where a collection of clutter looks liked a carefully structured installation of cool stuff?

9. I need a hair cut. I am rubbish at the hairdressers, I resent paying for it, I hate hairdresser small talk and there is absolutely no point in giving me a hair style because that would involve styling, and time, and products, I am the original Wash & Go girl… But more because it is right at the bottom of my list of priorities than because I use a particular brand of shampoo! I imagine I’ll get it snipped next week, just a few inches mind you!

10. I can’t quite believe I have managed my 2nd 10 on Tuesday! I’m often rubbish at doing things on a regular basis, go me!

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Magic at the ballet & cowgirls that dance

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Today I took my daughter to see her first ballet! It wasn’t her first trip to the theatre, we went in December to see a wonderful production of Peter Pan but that was different, less formal, talking and singing and jokes and stuff. This was a proper ballet, the Nutcracker no less, the perfect introduction to ballet!

Now the thing about theatres is that when it’s a proper grown up show like a ballet they put a notice on the tickets in big bold letters NO UNDER 5s WILL BE ADMITTED! My daughter is 3…she turns 4 next month… I cannot begin to explain my fear at us being turned away for being too young (I of course would be flattered to be considered too young for anything) I had nightmares about, visions of my daughter actually MELTING down at doors if they turned us away! As it happens they didn’t… They let us in without batting an eyelid!

The production was beautiful, simple enough for her to understand with minimal explanation, engaging enough to capture her attention for both acts and magical enough for her to be tapping her feet and swirling her hands to sound of Tchaikovsky’s score. I spent as much time looking at her enchanted face as I did the stage itself and when the dancing snowflakes in their sparkling tutus came twirling out we both let out a little gasp!

I’m glad I packed plenty of snacks, a drink, and change for ice cream at the interval. Relieved I dressed us in layers as it got jolly hot in there, and I was delighted that her behaviour met with my expectations, it could have gone so horribly wrong!

We talked at the end… “was is better than Peter Pan?”…. “Well Mummy Peter Pan is my best because we have the DVD and when we saw it here he flew over our heads!”….”Did you like their costumes?”… “Yes Mummy, the snowflakes were my favourite”…. “Do you want to be a Ballerina at your birthday party next month now?”…. “No Mummy, I want to be a dancing Cowgirl!”…. Oh well we had fun, and whether she wants to be a cowgirl, ballerina, rocket scientist or plumber, I’m happy if she’s happy!

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Slow Cooker Slump…and other failings in the kitchen.

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I bought a slow cooker in the January sales and for a fortnight I couldn’t get enough of it but a dreadful dose of flu and some lazy takeaway days and I’m back where I began… A culinary failure!

I want to be great in the kitchen and I want my children to eat good healthy food! I’m lucky that they will guzzle fresh fruit and vegetables without much persuasion and that they enjoy knowing where their food comes from as a result of our allotment but it’s the actual cooking I suck at!

It wasn’t till I met my husband that I really understood that great cooking is actually a skill much like being able to paint, or write or sing or dance. It takes talent and skill and some inbuilt ability that you just can’t magic up from nowhere. So give me some paints or a camera or a song and I’ll do you proud but I do NOT have a talent for cooking!

I CAN cook a roast, make a casserole, bake a cake or spaghetti bolognese but what I lack is that skilful palate to season correctly, choose the write herbs and spices and the quantities of each… My husband on the other hand oozes with these skills. He makes the most delicious meals and try though he might I know he finds my cooking bland, tasteless and a far cry from the enjoyable experience of his own meals!

The trouble is that my husband works full time and I should be preparing the meals, my repertoire is shamefully limited and my dependency on the freezer embarrassing! So I am going to make a promise to myself to try and master a new recipe or meal each month ( yes I know I should be saying each week but let’s be realistic!). I have all the Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith and Mrs Beetons books that anyone could possible need along with several others, so of I go to choose the first challenge…. Any suggestions?

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10 on Tuesday 7th February

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1. I have no real idea what 10 on Tuesday is meant to be but I enjoy some other blogs that do it, so I’m going to give it a go, at the very least it should ensure I post at least once a week!

2. I confess that my attempts to be a culinary queen for my children are failing miserably, they had chocolate spread on toast for their lunch today… I balanced it out with some melon and cheese so that’s ok? Isn’t it?

3. I am wearing yesterday’s clothes today, our washing machine has been broken for a week and isn’t being fixed until tomorrow, I’ve been sending laundry to the mother in law but put the children’s and husbands clothes first but I am now dangerously close to running out of underwear if the man can’t fix it tomorrow!

4. I had to wrestle my son to the ground and get him in a floor tackle to trim his nails today, am I the only one that has to endure this and the 10 minute tantrum that follows? It’s unbearable but then so are his talons so there comes a point when it must be done!

5. I am still I’ll! I finished my antibiotics yesterday following flu, bronchitis and a chest infection and the wisdom tooth related gum infection but I still have a permanent sore throat, cough and aching ribs, I am bored of feeling rubbish, even the Manuka honey seems to have stopped helping!

6. We poisoned the neighbours cat today! It walked across the wet bitumen paint that is forming the damp proof course for our new porch, then it walked into its house, across their beautiful wooden floor and kicked its paws. It’s not a very nice cat, ours is much lovelier but I do hope it’s ok and that they manage to get the paint of their floor!

7. Can somebody please tell the other school mums not to park their cars outside my house to walk their kids to school, I really don’t want to have to wade through a gaggle of mums and unruly 7 year olds in order to take mine to preschool! I would say something myself but they know where I live!

8. My 3 year old now helps my husband to put the 1 year old to bed when I’m at work in the evening, apparently she strokes his head and sings to him whilst daddy feeds him his bottle, then she tucks him in! How cute is that?

9. I think I drink too much tea, 5 cups today, big ones, how much tea is too much? I have no idea but I certainly went to the toilet a lot today!

10. I did it, my first 10 on Tuesday! How did it go?