Happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you!

charlie brown & snoopy

The above is a quote from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and was MumturnedMom‘s prompt for week five of her Prompt linky.

I’m revisiting this post for this week’s Theme Game theme of ‘Love’ as, although this was originally inspired by thinking about happiness, the things you love are instricably linked with happiness and the two pretty much go hand in hand!

It would be impossible to narrow down what person or thing I love (although obviously I love my family and friends above all else) so I’ve decided that the best way forward is a good old list of all the wonderful things that make me happy:

  • That feeling you get round about the first week of April when the sun comes out and suddenly you realise that there are blossoms on the trees and winter has finally slung its hook.
  • An empty summers afternoon in which to lie in the sun whether it be by a pool, on a beach or in your own back garden, and read a good book with an ice cold drink close at hand.
  • Sneaking into the semi-darkness of my children’s room and watching them sleep like little fluffy haired, precious, innocent, adorable little angels – my angels!
  • Sitting in a darkened cinema or theatre knowing that you are about to be brilliantly entertained.
  • Taking a step back from anything that you’ve created from scratch and feeling a sense of pride and achievement.
  • My ‘Dorothy’ shoes:
  • 228
  • Setting off for an airport with an adventure ahead of you.
  • The sense of anticipation as you open the cover of a new book that you’ve been dying to get your hands on.
  • Anything that makes me laugh (particularly the likes of Spaced – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost at their best – or Friday Night Dinner “Shit on it!!!” [pardon my French!] or any Mel Brooks film, especially The Producers)
  • My mum’s roast dinners
  • A long, restful, dreamless sleep.

And so to bed….

 

The Reading Residence

 

mumturnedmom

Desert Island Movies

There’s a meme going around asking for people to list their desert island disc choice but, although I enjoy the music I enjoy (latest fave album Rudimental ‘Home’!) I’ve never thought of myself as a music buff of any type. I have however thought of myself as a film buff and used to religiously collect Empire magazine and devour every article – I knew every movie in pre-production, I took courses in both American and European cinema as part of my first degree and I was crushed when I found out that Empire did not take on work experience students (they might now but this was back in the early 90s!). I think its safe to say that ‘Film Critic’ would be my dream career!

At one point me and an equally movie obsessed friend used to go and see a film once a week (sometimes even an arthouse double bill) but since having children I have pretty much kissed this love of cinema goodbye (or at least au revoir) – the thought of wandering into a movie theatre and indulging in 2 or 3 hours of uninterrupted cinematic art/entertainment/culture, seems like a previously unrealised luxury!

For the time being I will content myself with sharing my top ten of all time:

  1. Pulp Fiction: One of the highlights of Tarantino’s career for me – so cleverly pieced together, out of sequence, with vivid characters, surprisingly  everyday banter and a secret at its heart (what was in the briefcase?) – I love a film (or any story) which gives the viewer or reader a denoument but at the same time leaves room for debate and interpretation – Pulp Fiction fits the bill.
  2. Groundhog Day: (which, incidentally, was yesterday – 2nd Feb!). Although I’m no great fan of insipid Andie Macdowell (probably the only disappointing casting choice in Four Weddings) Bill Murray is perfect here and I adore the fact that there is never any explanation for what his character experiences – it is just a supremely entertaining way of breaking a character down – to his lowest low – in order to reconstruct him from the ground up into a better man – and provides a surprisingly sweet, off beam romance. Unironically stands up to repeated viewings…
  3. Moulin Rouge: this one satisfies the musical-lover in me – I think Ewan Macgregor is a complete revelation as a singer and his version of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ can still make my heart soar with the possibility of a love like that! There is a magic realism to the way in which this story is presented which almost turns it into an adult fairytale.
  4. Sideways – this is the kind of film I really go for – its small scale, almost theatrical, and on paper the story seems dry – two middle-aged men on a road trip through California wine country on a tasting tour – but the characters, the script and the bloody brilliant acting by Paul Giametti and Thomas Haden Church make this completely hilarious and heart warming at the same time.
  5. Sleeper: I had to pick one Woody Allen movie as, say what you will about the man, he is a cinematic genius and if ever there was a movie to make you snort a drink through your nose (is that a recommendation??!) then this is it.
  6. Gladiator: I’m not a war movie or ultra-violence kind of girl, but despite this being a film about the shocking and appalling practice of using slaves as fodder for ultra-violent entertainment by the Romans, the story is told in such a mesmerising way, and Russell Crowe just throws his charisma into overdrive – utterly transfixing me – I actually thought I was in love with Crowe until I saw The Whistle Blower – which just shows what a great actor he is.
  7. It’s a Wonderful Life: this is surely Christmas personified. The greatest feel good movie of all time.
  8. The Departed: I also had to pick a Scorcese movie because the man is another directorial legend. A lot of his more classic stuff like Taxi-Driver is just a bit too gritty for me but this one is just super clever – and, not to sound shallow, but what’s not to like about the Matt Damon/Leo di Caprio cat and mouse game here and Jack Nicholson’s brilliant turn as unhinged Irish-American mobster Frank Costello? One truly shocking moment subverts the viewer’s expectations but leaves you no less satisfied by the time the credits roll.
  9. Back to the Future: I think that I’ve mentioned before that I saw this film ten times at the cinema alone when I was a teenager. This is both a true cinematic classic, a beautiful piece of mainstream entertainment and a coming of age nostalgia flick for me.
  10. Amelie: I’ve just realised looking back through this list that I’m clearly a bit of an old romantic! But I like it quirky (ooer!) and Amelie certainly ticks that box! The voiceover is so adorable. I think the beauty of this for me is the injection of magic into what might otherwise be ordinary lives. Its also got a lovely gentle humour to it and after the masterpiece which was “Delicatessen” the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet fulfilled his potential here.

It was really hard to narrow this list down so I have to give an honourable mention to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (such an unusual way to explore the anatomy of a relationship from start to finish and the way in which our attitude to relationships make the human condition completely unique and utterly confounding); Fargo – couldn’t forget the Coen Brothers; and the 6th Sense – Shyamalan’s finest and the best bloody plot twist ever!

Linking up to PoCoLo over at Vevivos.com:

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I’ve been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award!

versatile-blogger-award

I was really touched recently when Twitter notified me that I’d been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by Mummy Tries! For those who don’t know, its a bit of a ‘spread the blog love’ version of a chain letter – you pick seven random facts about yourself to share and then nominate some more worthy candidates who write blogs which you enjoy reading and find interesting, varied and which keep you coming back!

For my theme I have chosen: No Theme! (this is meant to be random after all!!)

  1. The two most useful practical skills I have learnt in life are driving and touch typing
  2. My finest sporting moment at school was performing a perfect Fosberry Flop. I’d be the first to admit that I’m not the sportiest person in the world…
  3. I went to see Back to the Future 10 times at the cinema in 1985/86. And in other random 80s cinematic trivia – I lusted after Madonna’s cool accessories in Desperately Seeking Susan.
  4. The bravest thing I’ve ever done (or stupidest??) was jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet over Mission Beach in Australia. (If you’re going to do it anywhere, do it there!)
  5. I lived in Texas for a year when I was studying for my first degree. I went to the University of Texas in Austin which is as big as a small city in itself! Memories include hanging out at coffee bar ‘Insomnia’; raging thunderstorms which outdo anything the UK can muster up – practically biblical proportions when clouds of black crickets are washed off flat rooftops in waves!; Restaurants like the original Tex-Mex Chuy’s which ooze character; lazing by natural pools at Barton Springs; watching the sunset from Mount Bonnell – amazing views!; partying at the fun bars downtown on 6th Street; mimosas and huevos rancheros for breakfast! I could go on…
  6. Controversial one: I cannot understand why women love Robbie Williams. I find it completely bizarre both in terms of sex appeal and music. In fact, I’m thinking of creating a Support Group for like-minded women because its obviously NOT NORMAL!!
  7. I’m a huge literature fan but a cursory glance at my bookshelves tells me that I’m a serial reader of Nick Hornby, Christopher Brookmyre, Kate Atkinson and Sarah Waters. Can’t go wrong. (And on the subject of bookshelves, if you don’t have shelves full of books in your living room we may not ever be besties! 🙂 )

My Nominees for Versatile Blogger are:

Be lovely to read a bit more about you or see your spin on this ‘chain’ thing – profuse apologies and please ignore me if you’ve done this before – you’re obviously just too bloomin’ popular! X

December: what I’m looking forward to…

  1. Russell Brand on his ‘Messiah Complex’ tour  in London on Thursday with my sister – can’t wait – first night out in I don’t know how long!
  2. Booked a few days off work to get my Christmassy bits done which should get me into the Christmas spirit!
  3. Taking JJ to see a show called ‘Gorilla’ at the Polka Children’s Theatre in Wimbledon with my Mum on the 14th – wonderful place to take little children, highly recommended.
  4. NCT kids & mum’s Christmas get together on the 23rd at my lovely friend Suzy’s house – another fab excuse to get into the Christmassy vibe with mince pies and festive fun!
  5. NCT mark II (the EJ ‘Refresher’ years) Christmas get together at my lovely friend Anna’s house on the 16th – more of the above!!
  6. Christmas!!! Say no more.
  7. Going to the panto in Woking on Jan 4th (not December so cheating a bit here!) – Cinderella starring Justin Fletcher (AKA Mr Tumble) which will probably make JJ’s year!! Going with my lovely friend Clair and her son.
  8. Meeting up with friends we haven’t seen for ages on 7th with their son who is EJ’s contemporary – Christmas time really does encourage us to re-connect!
  9. Christmas pressie swap and meal at Jamie’s Italian with one of my oldest besties on 14th. Bit of a tradition, lovely to indulge ourselves and reminisce about old times.
  10. Big family pre-Christmas ‘in the place of Christmas’ celebration with a meal out at a lovely pub on the 15th. (My sister, BIL and nieces will all be skiing in the Italian Alps (again!!) for the festive season this year so this will be our chance to raise a glass and enjoy each other’s company for the last time in 2013).

And one for luck – albeit another January one! – Jan 18th going to the National Theatre in London to see Tori Amos’s musical “The Light Princess” described as “a dark fairytale about grief, rebellion and the power of love”. Its been a long time since I’ve visited the National although I was brought up on theatre-going, particularly this amazing venue and I absolutely love, love, love the vibe both inside and out on the South Bank.

So yes, once again I find myself counting my blessings and realising that, whilst time enjoying the children is fab (especially at Christmas) not everything in my life has to involve them!

Linking up with http://www.mummyfromtheheart.com’s Reasons to be Cheerful (R2BC) (currently being hosted by Becky at Lakes Single Mum http://www.beckywilloughby.blogspot.co.uk)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Attachment parenting…with detachment

attached child
I’ve read a fair bit about this subject recently both positive and negative and I also have friends who either fully or partially embrace Dr Sears’ notion of effective parenting through adhering to the ‘7 Bs’. This type of parenting has been labelled a fad by some, but other, more accepting and thoughtful commentators argue that, despite faddish elements, the core belief in raising your children with sensitivity and empathy (with an emphasis on responsiveness in the first few months of a child’s life) is the key to raising balanced and well-adjusted children (see Dr Laura Markham’s article on the subject, highlighting the need to set limits with empathy). Also see this post by Psychologymum.
This is my take on the 7 Bs:
  • Birth bonding: I didn’t really do this with JJ as I ended up having an epidural and after a long labour gave birth in the exact wrong position – flat on my back! EJ was a completely different kettle of fish as I managed to have a water birth with no drugs for pain relief and consequently I do feel like I did right by both of us as it was a much more natural, intuitive experience, but I’m not sure if it really makes us any more closely bonded as mother and son.
  • Breastfeeding: if you follow my blog you will already know my thoughts on this expressed in this post. I managed it for five months with JJ and five days with EJ. Whilst I am sure that, if you get it right, it is a wonderful close, nurturing thing to do (with added immunological benefits), I don’t actually believe that the key intended outcome of attachment parenting is affected either way – there are a myriad of ways in which you can care for, nurture and bond with your baby leading them to start life feeling loved and secure.
  • Babywearing: By the time I had EJ as a newborn I had the benefit of hindsight and knew (even before he was born actually) that I would be doing us both a favour by investing in a nice stretchy sling. And I was right – sometimes having him in that sling was the only thing that calmed and soothed him. I think newborn babywearing is a great idea for practical purposes. However I’m not so sure that continuing to exclusively carry your child in this way throughout later baby- and childhood can be classed as anything more than a personal choice in the preferred method of transporting your child.
  • Bedding close to baby: JJ started off in a Moses Basket, spent a few occasions in bed with me and then transferred to a cot in the same room, later transitioning to his own room at about 8 months when he was sleeping through the night. EJ spent his first few months next to me on the bed before going into his cot in my room at 4 months (where he still is now at 16 months). I think it was what worked for us. When they’re very little they do need you to be responsive and proximity is key, but I do believe that gradual detachment is no bad thing and leads to better sleep patterns all round.
  • Beware the baby trainers: Personally I didn’t follow any particular ‘trainer’ although I know people who swore by Gina’s strict regime (and have lovely well-adjusted school-age children). Having said that I truly believe in structure and introducing patterns that give a child a sense of security in the world (and I think children really respond well to daily routines and thrive within them). I have a friend who will definitely think this is anathema to her! Certainly each to their own – what works for one does not work for all.
  • Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry: I think this one is trying to get at the idea that you should never leave your baby crying. This is a really emotive one, particularly if you have/had a baby with that most commonly cited condition ‘colic’ which is basically just what doctors say when they don’t know what else to tell you about your child’s constant crying and fussing. The sound of your baby crying is certainly one of the worst sounds in the world and I’m sure most people would agree that you never stop trying to find a way to calm and soothe that crying away. But sometimes you’ve got to eat. I’m just saying.
  • Balance: this, to me, seems the most sensible B of all when it comes to achieving those ‘attachment’-related goals. It is described as ‘being appropriately responsive to your baby: knowing when to say yes and when to say no’. That makes perfect sense to me and I try and live by this one above all. That doesn’t mean to say I always get it right and god knows you have to choose your battles wisely, but on the whole, I believe that this is the key to everything we do as parents and sometimes, some of the other Bs seem to be taken to ‘Earth Mother’ extremes that counter-act the notion of balance altogether.
I just read this article on babble.com by Katie Allison Granju who actually wrote a book called ‘Attachment Parenting’ which had a foreword by Dr Sears himself. It was really refreshing to read that she completely agrees with my point of view and strongly disagrees with parenting that encourages you to micromanage your child’s life. She also touches upon the idea that some people who gleefully fling themselves headfirst into the role of Earth Mother seem to fall victim to living their lives through the prism of their parenting which is not about balance because as soon as you allow yourself to be defined by any one thing you are no longer a fully rounded individual and what kind of role model is that for the little people?
My 7 Bs of parenting
  • Benign neglect: another idea from Katie Allison Granju’s Babble article. This pretty much sums up my style.
  • Bananas! : yep, there’s definitely a cry that means “get me a banana now goddamit, at the double!”

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  • Bouncing: number one rainy day activity (OK your mattress springs might be a bit worse for wear at the end of it but anything that burns some of that frenetic energy can only be a good thing, right?)
  • Brainwashing: come on, we’re all guilty of this – Father Christmas anyone??
  • Baked goods: always make everything better and release oxytocin (well, maybe not oxytocin but feelgood hormones which, in effect, do the same job without the need for any uncomfortable bap exposure….err…)
  • Balamory: OK, not Balamory but another children’s programme (which may or may not begin with the letter B) – what’s not to like about the educational babysitter in the corner of the room? (You know I’m only kidding right? JJ would far rather be bouncing)
  • Bundles: forget skin to skin, bundling is the new contact bonding front runner. For anyone not in the know, To Bundle: to gleefully leap on top of your mum/dad/sibling/friends and generally roll around together giggling.

So, that’s parenting covered…

Linking up to Brilliant Blog Posts at over at Honest Mum:

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 

Ten random things I have discovered in the past week:

  1. It is possible to climb in through a (first floor) kitchen window, over a kitchen sink, in a white skirt and let yourself back in the house relatively unscathed if your front door blows shut locking you and the children out in the street.
  2. A marshmallow, some silly dancing and lots of inane chattering should suffice to entertain a one-year-old for long enough to cook an omelette.
  3. Taking two three-year-olds and two one-year-olds to softplay on a rainy afternoon in the summer holidays is NOT the answer.
  4. Middlesex is not a country (I misread the passport form). I’m not sure its even a county come to that…
  5. Driving in cork wedges could* be considered unsafe.
  6. By-pass the formalities, give your one-year-old’s birthday presents straight to your three-year-old – he’ll be the one playing with them.
  7. When you have four clocks all telling you different times, plus two small children, always assume you are running late.
  8. When delivering a Jumperoo to a police headquarters always make sure the recipient remembers you are coming. Getting picked up on CCTV outside an automatic barrier fiddling with a ‘device’ (aka mobile phone) could leave you with some explaining to do.
  9. Feeling a bit miffed about someone else’s gloating Facebook post on their amazing holiday? Logging into Trip Advisor and sourcing only average to poor comments on their resort will make you feel 100 times better! 🙂
  10. For all those in the late stages of pregnancy – a placenta smoothie comes highly recommended!
  11. Bonus discovery! –  if you write up a post on ‘random’ stuff you generate the most bizarre list of ‘related content’ – everything from ‘New Jersey Drug Addiction’ (sorry I’m completely lost now) to ’62 year old Boston priest caught with prostitute behind cemetary’ – awesome!!

* Not in my case of course – I’m an excellent driver 😉