Four way traffic lights on the school run

four way control

So, apparently, this is the month that Southern Gas has decided my entire road will be dug up, section by section, over the course of six months (Oh, sorry, Southern Gas, that should have read ’25 weeks’ – I guess that must be the gasworks equivalent of the 99p consumer brainwash – i.e. ‘it’s not one pound, it’s only 99p – what a ruddy bargain – let’s buy 10!’). Where do they choose to start this mammoth task? On a four way junction. Where is said four way junction? Only about 30 seconds drive from my child’s school. Deep, deep joy.

Disclaimer: we live a ten minute walk away from the school. Here’s the reasoning behind driving two days a week: on Mondays, I am on my way to work and I have a short enough window to get myself across a ten mile stretch of commuter belt road without adding another ten minutes casually strolling to and from the ‘yellow school’ as JJ likes to call it. On Tuesdays, I have EJ in the car ready to wing him up a big hill after we’ve slowed down the car for long enough for JJ to tuck and roll (only kidding) outside the yellow place of learning. He then gets his own ‘tuck and roll’ moment outside the childminder’s house before I drive onwards and upwards to the massive Tesco to pick up my click & collect shop within the time allotted. (Yes that’s right, I live my life on a ridiculously tightly plotted schedule where every single second counts – including the ones where I am sipping coffee in my slippers (wearing my slippers, you understand, not actually sipping coffee from my slippers).

Now picture the chaos that has begun to ensue in the road outside l’ecole jaune. (Bloody French O’level had to come in handy at some point in my life – come on!). Look I’m not silly, I know the short* cuts, I know the optimal parking spots, I wasn’t there when a road-rage fuelled gridlock brought the (single lane) traffic to a static face-off which could only be solved by a couple of burly builders kind enough to put their fag break on hold in order to solve the crisis with a bit of semaphore previously only used by air traffic controllers and half-cut dads at wedding discos.

And of course, I don’t want a gas explosion to take out my family home. I would rather there by new pipes. But… but, maybe now is a good time to move to Devon?

*long

 

Word of the Week: Bedtime

New bunkbeds!

Anyone who read my Flat Pack! post on Wednesday will know it’s been all about the new bunk beds this week! Although it felt like a big move – and frankly, a huge transition particularly for EJ who has now gone straight from his cot to a full size single bottom bunk at the tender age of two, I’m glad that we’ve done it. Having said that it hasn’t all been plain sailing. On night one EJ climbed in and went out like a light no problem, but night two he wasn’t quite so docile and cried when I tried to tuck him in and leave. I climbed in with him, sang a lullaby, let him have his milk, tried to leave again but he was having none of it. JJ tried to take over for me bless him, but EJ just wanted his mummy! Eventually I told him I was going to go and have my shower and come straight back and, to my amazement, he agreed! Needless to say he was sparko by the time I returned and we went through the same thing last night too so I’m hoping a routine of sorts is forming and he’ll be comfortable with his new bedtime views very soon ( especially as I’m on my own with them for the next few nights while the hubster works).

It was the hubster’s birthday this week but unfortunately we didn’t have much of a chance to celebrate. In the past we have used this week to take a little holiday (this time last year we had a lovely week in Cornwall) but now JJ is at big school we can’t do that any more sadly. I will have to make a better effort next year – particularly because it will be a bit of a milestone for him!

I’ve certainly been falling into bed each night exhausted myself and feeling as though things I normally stay on top of have slid a bit – not least the cleaning this week as my cleaning day was cancelled out by flat pack hell! I am also still trying to find some kind of blogging flow to my week but right now I am writing posts at random times like 5am in the morning – and just can’t seem to get a routine to it, so it seems that most of my posting is happening in the latter part of the week. I find it such a solitary activity that I prefer to do it when I’m on my own. Unfortunately the hubster’s shift pattern is all over the place and often changes at the last minute so I rarely know where I stand.

Other than that, it’s all good and we are enjoying the absolutely glorious autumn colours ( and finally getting to wear some new layered outfits and boots!) but not so much all these squally rain showers!

How was your week?

 

The Reading Residence

Flat pack!

A few weeks ago the hubster suggested that it was probably time to move the boys out of their little beds (JJ’s toddler bed and EJ’s cot respectively) and straight into a full sized bunk bed. Because they share a room (and the fact that the toddler bed was already a bit broken) and the fact that there are space restrictions, it wasn’t going to be possible to transition EJ gently up to the next stage the same way as his brother had.

Despite the fact that all the official guidance says bunk beds aren’t suitable for children under six and ours are five and two (!) we knew that JJ would be fine on the top as he regularly sleeps on the top bunk at my parent’s house. We figured EJ would be OK on the bottom with JJ’s old bed guard on the side.

So, off we went to Dreams and put in our order for a Colarado! I said to the hubster at the time – do Dreams offer a Flat Pack building service similar to the option provided by Ikea? Unfortunately this is not the case. I’m sure their are handyman or independent businesses out there who probably do this but the hubster is not one for ‘unnecessary’ expense and refused to look into that option despite knowing full well from previous experience that he is not the world’s most laid back person when it comes to the Krypton Factor of flat pack! Hello, I thought, little marriage ‘make or break’ experience coming up right here.

So last Thursday the boxes were delivered and yesterday was our first day at home with both children out. D Day (or should I say FP Day?) Little did I realise when I got up with the children at 7.20 that it was going to be the start of a very, very long day!
After I’d dropped JJ off at school, EJ off at the childminder’s and picked up my shop from Tesco and both brought it home and put it all away the hubster appeared nonchalantly, had an unrushed breakfast and we even planned to go for a nice lunch at one of our favourite local canalside pubs. At some point sense kicked in and I suggested we make a start on the beds at about elevenish. We got the boxes open and after a brief panic about lack of instructions and fittings we discovered them at the bottom of the last box.The first thing I read was the suggested construction time: 2 and a half hours with two people. This seemed like a ridiculously long time – little did we know!

After a lot of fixing and fiddling and staring blankly at the instruction booklet we had managed to put the ladder together and one long joint into one of the beds and I looked at the clock: 12.35. The hubster said “you can forget about lunch”. True that, I thought as suddenly JJ’s 3.10 school pick up hove into view.

Around about 1.30 we had reached the point where the majority of the beds were together but we had done the whole thing using the Allen key provided as, despite owning a power drill, the hubster has managed to somehow lose it’s charger so comprehensively that even the previous evening’s house and shed overhaul had not turned up the slightest clue (although it had, to be fair, left me with some rather delightful clear surfaces in a kitchen which the hubster tends to see more as a place to dump random stuff – defunct batteries anyone? Broken sunglasses? 700 water bottles of varying age and size?). Unfortunately the next task involved drilling about forty screws in to fit the slats on each of the two beds and the hubster took one look at that task and shouted “I’m not bloody doing this without a power drill!”. That’s when the panic set in: JJ’s school pick up looming, no chance of finding that ruddy elusive charger, both starving hungry, bits of packing, cardboard, polystyrene, the old beds and mattresses cluttering up the hallway – none of this boded well! Oh, and let’s not forget that we hadn’t bought any bedding yet. I made a mercy dash to our next door neighbours’ but there was no reply. Next stop Homebase. We were pleasantly surprised by the relative affordability of a power drill but not so thrilled with the three and a half hour charge time. Nevertheless we speeded it home stuck it on to charge and then gave in to the situation and moseyed over to Tesco in search of duvets and sustenance.

To cut a long story short the beds were not finished by the time both boys were home. I took JJ to Argos for bed covers (which made us late for picking up EJ but that’s by the by) and when we arrived home I was dismayed to find that, despite all the slats being in, there was still packaging and bits of old bed everywhere, we still had to get the two beds mounted together, the side rails and ladder fitted to the top, the old bed guard adjusted to fit a bigger bed, and all the bedding on and the hubster had his feet up reading an email from What Car magazine by all accounts. Now imagine two exhausted adults, a tired and excited toddler who was like a kid in a candy store when he saw the amount of odd screws, lumps of wood and random scissors scattered across his bedroom floor!

Eventually, after much shouting, screaming, crying, hugging (and that was just me!) the job was finally, after nigh on six hours, done.
Et voila:

New bunkbeds!

And, by the way, despite my misgivings about the insanity that might ensue after lights out, both children went out like a happy little light and slept like logs (watch this space for the EJ top bunk climbing saga which will no doubt follow in the coming days!).

 

Why be smug?

Every once in a while I read a post written deep within this parenting niche and it really resonates. When a post is open, honest and true and touches upon experiences which are obviously so commonly recognised it feels bonding, it feels inclusive and supportive – there’s a real sense of all being in this thing together.

No one ever said that being a mother and a wife was going to be all plain sailing and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea in life, but why, I ask you, why, do some people, who have chosen a different path, feel the need to stick their oar in with a smug comment, essentially boasting that their life choices are better than yours?

When I look at people who have chosen to stick with one child I sometimes think, ‘you’ve got it so easy’, but when I look at someone with three children, my first thought is not ‘ha ha! Look at the merry-go-round you’ve opted for, you fool!’. No, I look up and wonder what I’m missing, how much more fun a family of five might have in years to come (not that I would, in any way, want to have another child myself mind you!). I would certainly never in a million years dump a smug mother-of-two comment onto a post which had opened up about how tough a mother of three was finding the challenge some days.

What these smug ‘single, child-free by choice and living it up’ commentators don’t admit to is that no-one gets away with a life which is a series of ups and no downs. Like the economy, life, by it’s very nature, is all about the peaks and troughs.

I get the feeling that single people who trawl the parenting niche must be there for a reason. Personally, I suspect that they are searching for affirmation of their own life choices and ready to leap on a post which is brave enough to explore some of the less shiny happy moments of the parenting experience.

One recent example, on a brilliant blog I follow (Sisterhood and All That), states “ No kids and no husband means I can lie in bed all day if I want without anyone messing up my kitchen counters. Bliss. Feel free to take this opportunity to tell me what I’m missing out on and how you wouldn’t swap it for the world. Go on. You know you want to…it will make you go all warm and gooey inside” which is essentially the written equivalent of a sharp angry poke in the eye attempting to negate any potential comebacks which might seek to point out that actually, getting married and having children isn’t just a series of screaming, hair-pulling, anxiety inducing misery. (Steph, I apologise if this was genuinely written in jest by your sister or something!).

But you know, whoever you are, just keep searching out the negative bits and we’ll keep dishing ‘em up, but remember to shut your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and sing ‘la la la’ if you happen to stumble across anything that looks anything like this:

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

A family trip to the New Forest

Last weekend it was my mother-in-law’s birthday. There are certain places on the South coast that have special memories and connotations for the hubster’s famiRoad trip with the boys!ly and Barton on Sea down on the other side of the New Forest is one of them, so it was decided that it would be a lovely idea to have a little day trip down there on Sunday, stopping for a pub lunch along the way.

After I’d done a few early hours of overtime at work we all piled into the car and set off. It was over an hours journey so we swung by the McD drive thru for a creamy Mocha to see us through!

The pub we visited is called The Rising Sun in Bashley. It has a great children’s play area which is always advisable, I find, when out for a meal with young children as they have zero patience whilst waiting for food and a tendency to run around amongst the tables amusing annoying other diners!

Rising Sun play area

We met up with my sister in law and nephews, T & O. O is just three months older than EJ and they look a bit like two peas in a pod and get on really well too which is lovely. T is ten and as JJ is five they all just mix along nicely with the older siblings helping the younger ones out when they get into any difficulties. JJ did get into a little slappy match with another boy about the same age but by the time we left JJ told me that this little boy was his best friend! Funny how they blow hot and cold.

After lunch we decided to skip dessert and instead headed back onto the road to New Milton and on to Barton on Sea where our first stop was the Beachcomber Cafe where they do a range of different ice creams. The toddlers just wanted to run around maniacally at this point – spot the similarity:

We took a little stroll down to the coast path with my mother in law’s little Yorkie, Chester afterwards:

JJ & Chester at Barton

I was amused to note the impressive warning sign for all the many and varied dangers to be found in this particular spot:

dangers of barton

This included the danger of being accidentally lumped by a low-flying hand-glider or taken out by a wayward wind-surfer! I;m sure the little person depicted is possibly the most unlucky stick figure in the world!

Despite the inherent dangers (!) it is a lovely little place for a day out – we’ve flown a kite down here before and this was the first place that JJ ever saw the sea (at four months!).

The best sign that it had been a successful day was this:

sleeping EJ

And after taking this, I soon joined him in the land of Nod!

Linking up to Country Kids over at Coombe Mill.

Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

Love the Little Things 29th August 2014

Read

A landing on the Sun

This week, after recently finishing ‘One Step Too Far’ I decided to steer away from more properly ‘light’ summer reading (the summer is after all, more or less over) and I clicked into another book I downloaded on my Kindle several months ago: A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn. Frayn wrote one of my favourite books, ‘Headlong’ so I knew I would like his style of writing which tends to take you right along on a journey with the main character, as if you are inside their mind and a fly on the wall to their thoughts and discoveries. I was introduced to this book after reading The Happiness Project back in February and it was one of the books on the recommended reading list so, despite the fact that it is set within the walls of Whitehall and deep inside the grey civil service there is an element of mystery and intrigue and I’m fascinated to know what the secret ‘strategy unit’ project is and how it relates to happiness.

Watched

GBBO

After tonight (Thursday!) I’m hoping that I will have had a chance to catch up on this week’s GBBO. I love that show and I also love puddings so this is right up my street!!

Heard

I’ve quite enjoyed listening to Scott Mills and his partner in crime Chris Stark filling in on the R1 Breakfast show this week. They have the potential to be genuinely funny.

We’ve also been treated to several new words from EJ whose language skills are finally picking up!

Wore

Fave winter boots

I rediscovered my current fave winter boots this week which is a bit of a sad thought – August isn’t even over yet! I also wore my raincoat quite a bit during the first part of the week when we were treated to a brief reminder of last winter’s floods.

Made

Epic fail on this front! It’s been one of those weeks where it’s either non-stop children or work and not much in between.

And lastly…

Cousins!

We finally got a chance to catch up with my sister in law and nephews this week. T is ten so quite a bit older than my two but O is just a couple of months apart from EJ and it was lovely to see them play together and make friends (for the most part!). We took them swimming on the rainy bank holiday which was fun and then were treated to lunch by my mother and father in law. They are moving back to the UK from Germany this week and waiting for their new house in Wiltshire to be ready to move into so we had the opportunity to share two days in their company before I had to return to work.

I have been finishing off my last purchases for JJ’s upcoming pirate party and need to make sure I have everything in hand during the coming days.

The most exciting delivery of the week however, was my new iPhone which is the first Apple device I’ve ever owned believe it or not! I’m still trying to get to grips with it at the moment but I love the look and feel of it and I’m so excited that I will finally be able to properly use apps and set up an Instagram profile! Get me – dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century!

Happy Weekend Little Loves

 

butwhymummywhy

Word of the Week: last-minute

Last-Minute

This week myself and the munchkins were meant to be going up to Suffolk to visit my great friend who we had been meaning to visit back at the beginning of June but had to postpone due to the untimely onset of chicken pox. Unfortunately a number of factors came together this week which meant that it would be impractical to visit once again and so I found myself cancelling two days of annual leave at work at the last minute and scratching my head over what to do instead on Monday and Tuesday (when our childminders would be on holiday). Fortuitously, my sister in law and nephews were in the area, having returned from their home of five years in Germany to move into a permanent home down in Wiltshire today.

My eldest nephew is ten – five years older than JJ, but the younger is just a couple of months older than EJ at two and it was our first proper chance to get them together now that they have flourished into little people in their own right and not just babies any more.

On Sunday we invited them all round to our house for a barbeque which went well until all four children piled onto our trampoline and we only realised that the zip on the safety net was undone when we heard a little head hitting the ground below! Cue the swiftest end to a barbeque ever as all of my in-laws rushed my little newphew to a&e just to be on the safe side! It transpired that he was fine which was a relief!

The following morning myself and my sister in law took the children swimming at the leisure pool, Spectrum, in Guildford and they had great fun on all the slides, before my mother and father in law took us all out for lunch. The second day it had been my (last-minute) plan to take the children to BirdWorld near Farnham, intending to cash in some Tesco Clubcard Vouchers, but hadn’t foreseen the absolutely torrential and relentless rain or the fact that you have to be a bit more organised than me to do the Clubcard thing as they send them through the post. In the end we spent the day hanging out with the family at the in-laws house with a brief foray to a local playground and Sainsburys for supplies. Not the most exciting day in the world but the main thing was that the children got to spend some quality time together and I appreciated the chance to get to know my sister in law a bit better – busy lives and far flung locations have meant that we haven’t spent much time together at all in recent years.

The second part of my week has seen a last minute delivery of my new iPhone 5c! It’s my first ever Apple product and I’m still getting to grips with it and trying to figure out how to do various things but I’ve got high hopes for what can be achieved and so excited to finally be able to get an Instagram profile and get more active on Twitter after two years stuck with an older generation Nokia Lumia Windows phone which allowed for nothing much more than email, web browsing and the usual music, phonecalls and texts.

Everything really has felt so unorganised in recent weeks, with schedules and meal plans and play dates all just thrown together randomly. I’m hoping that next week, with the advent of JJ’s first (half) week at big school and the return of our childminders things will start getting back to normal and I can get on top of a few neglected tasks.

Have a great weekend WOTWers X

Memories of summer…

JJ with newborn EJ

JJ and EJ summer 2013

JJ and EJ summer 2014

If I look back into the dim and distant past, prompted by thoughts of summer, the images that pop into my head are generally sun bleached childhood holidays, building ‘nests’ out of dried cut grass on the school playing fields and that feeling of freedom that always came with the school/college/university holidays. I also have a summer birthday which was shared with my aunt and my grandma and so it was always a family affair with early August garden parties and a general air of celebration.

Summer always seems to be a time of happiness and contentment, fun and laughter, which is interesting because it isn’t always the happiest of times. In recent weeks I have had some very negative and worrying thoughts and feelings but you can guarantee that, years later, I will only remember the good bits.

At the height of summer 2012 EJ was born. The birth and those first few weeks will forever be a time of mixed memories – the euphoria of the birth, the relief that he was clearly going to be an easier baby than JJ had been and that we formed an instant bond, combined with a lot of issues surrounding the amount of time away from home that the hubster had signed up for with the advent of the 2012 Olympics.

With growing children, each summer changes so radically year on year as 12 months of early years development is such a huge leap. I have gone from nursing an infant throughout the night in 2012, to the relative calm (before the storm!) of a one year old taking his first wobbly steps, to the full on experience of having a walking, running, climbing, talking, brotherly-interacting two year old. Life has become both easier in some ways and harder in others.

Summertime, long days and sunny weather allow for children to do so much more and experience so much more of the world. Now that JJ is about to start school I also feel the pressure is on to provide opportunities for even better, more exciting memory-making experiences during the holiday periods.

From this point onwards summer memories are no longer about my happiness but that of my children.

Linking up to The Prompt for this week’s writing challenge: Memories of Summer

 

mumturnedmom

Word of the Week: Non-Stop!!

Non-stop

Anyone who read my Week so far… post on Tuesday will know that I was on track for a busy one! What with outings and sightseeing and shopping it was a rest to go back to work on Wednesday! As I mentioned before the hubster has the week off so he is getting more than his share of munchkin time and as I write this they are currently somewhere down in the New Forest for the day with my father in law and the girl. We were thinking of taking them down to Brighton for the day on Friday but I don’t think the hubster is up to another long car journey so we’ll probably stay local and let them recuperate!

My thoughts have been going non-stop lately too. It has been very difficult to maintain the usual routines including the kind of pattern of blogging I’ve fallen into. I find that as soon as I let one thing go I’m drifting a bit rootlessly, making the odd stab at normality but still watching others thrive and go from strength to strength while I feel like I’ve completely lost my focus and my objective. I want to be in the thick of the blogging community but it’s hard to do when something external comes along to burst your bubble.

Some dust needs to settle in my life right now. Maybe everything will always feel outside of the norm at this time of year because of the school holidays too. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take me too long to feel like I’m back on the bus and not just clinging onto the side as it whizzes along!

 

The Reading Residence

Wicked Wednesdays: when bedtime routines go bad…

I realise that this little montage shows everyone laughing and all good fun but by God it’s the most chaotic, nutty, manic time of day which inevitably ends in someone getting either head-butted, flying off the side of something and getting well bumped on the way down, my poor knees/tummy/boobs getting either elbowed, kicked or kung-fu chopped, tears and screaming, lots and lots of screaming. Then we all sit down together and read Each, Peach, Pear, Plum. Sigh.

Linking up to the fab Brummymummyof2 and Wicked Wednesdays.

brummymummyof2