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Alexander Residence: 01/04/11 - 01/05/11

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Some holiday blog 'liebing' suggestions

I have been nominated for a Liebster by Mrs Brightside, the lovely Laura at Musings on a Life Quite Ordinary   She lives in Ireland, in a beautiful spot judging by some of her pictures and is always a ray of sunshine on Twitter.

Lieb is German for love.  I used to love learning German at school, mainly because I had a wild and hilarious German best friend and we used to spend long summers creating mischief in Munich, Macclesfield and on British Airways flights inbetween. In my Q and A I mentioned to say sorry to those people whose friendships I have lost, she is one.

The Liebster Award recognises bloggers with 300 followers or less.  I've been blogging six months, so that's me.  Part of receiving is that you give back by nominating five other bloggers.  Here is my five, I wish I had more hours in the day to visit all of these fab places, but maybe you can tell them I sent you. Here is why I think you should visit:

Dichotomy of - I see so many things in Jo's daily accounts everyday life that strike a chord and often take me back to my childhood, magical stuff.

Jules at I need curtains for the windows in my head - I love the eclectic mix here, like rummaging in the best antique shop. 

Mom on a Wire - Alethea is a breath of fresh air, such a clean site which often has flowers and always has good stories.

YummyMummyFlabbyTummy - we met through Blow Your Own Bloghorn, a great linky.  Laura is so happy and positive and always has stories that make me smile.

Mummy Musings - even when she had just given birth Jenny still found time to visit my gallery post (puts me to shame), and her boys are always up to fun tricks which is why I love her gallery entries.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Call centre pirates and musical cherubs

My lovely little brother asked me for some of his niece's drawings to make me a new header.  I confessed to my husband that it all sounded a bit amateurish, me not being a very 'visual' person. But Mr A reminded me that my brother always comes up with great designs (they used to work together).  My brother emailed me my new header.  I ate my words.  Mr A was right. 

My humble contribution was to suggest the pink writing went under my son and the blue under my daughter.  Don't want anyone accusing me of gender stereotyping.

What I love about the new header (apart from the fact it looks professional and actually fits the template) is that it features the piano my mum used to play.  My brother and I burnt through a small fortune in piano lessons.  There isn't much to show for that.  But both my children have been utterly transfixed with the piano, from the word go, as you can see.

L as a baby with my Mum
I am a bit sad to say goodbye to the old header, it being my first.  Dichotomy of, who has a fantastic blog that often takes me back to my childhood to the extent I sometimes think we were separated at birth, called it my 'call centre pirates' which made me giggle.  But I love that headers can change with the times, I've made a HeadsDown page to celebrate my old headers. I like the idea they can grow with my children.

Out with the old and in with the new.  And may my children excel at piano playing.  Mr A was in a band, in fact that's how I fell for him, so maybe, just maybe I have at least bagged them some musical talent, as it certainly won't be coming from me. 

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Monday, 25 April 2011

Listography My Wedding and some competitions.

I will start by saying I am no royalist, but I see no reason not to make the most of an extra bank holiday.  I will be attending a friend's Royal Wedding party, not because I want to watch it, but because I want to see my friends.  However, once surrounded by excited girlfriends who aren't married, I may succomb to an excuse to gawp at a wedding dress and nod sagely as the wedding unfolds. 

In preparation for imparting married lady wisdom I thought I would take up Kate Takes 5 invitation to reflect on the improvements we would make to our own weddings.   It was perfect, but there's always room to tweak.
1.  Don't become Bridezilla.  In the run up to the big day, don't spoil a romantic getaway to Verona bickering about lack of interest in discusssing table decorations.

2.  Don't panic on starter's orders.  I was supposed to be entering to Nina Simone's  Feeling Good.  I had my cue all rehearsed, but in nervous excitement I charged in, there was a bit of music, but no lyrics, Nina didn't even get to Feel Good.

3.  Offer the Best man and Woman something medicinal to calm them down.   For some reason they were more nervous than us, even without the getting married bit.

4.  After a year long health kick and beauty regime your wedding day is not the day to beg crafty cigarettes from fourth cousin Nigel.

5.  Ask the photographer to focus on someone other than me for some of the shots.  I know generous aren't I?

I will leave you with two chances to win something to help this bank holiday go with a swing.  Innocent offered me some vouchers to try their lovely orange juice.  They are having a street party competition to win champagne and other street party paraphenalia.

Pampers are also offering a chance to show off photographs of your little princes and princesses celebrating the bank holiday, to win a day being treated as royalty and a year's supply of nappies.

Oh and one last bit of fun, if you need to get in role for the day why not invent a Royal Wedding Day Character?  Take a grandparent's first name, your first pet and a street you have live on.

I am Lady Winifred Ouzel-Cedars, bottoms up!  And who are you?

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Shoot for the moon my love but be back for tea.

I have been reflecting on the children's books that have caused most chaos in our house.
Tall [Book]
Since we got Jez Alborough's Tall from the library, about a monkey who climbs progressively onto bigger and bigger animals to pursue his dream to be tall, my two year old has become obsessed with being tall.  A while back we lovingly nicknamed him Mountain Goat, because he loved climbing.  Now we are merely human climbing frames in his quest for height.   In seconds a cuddle turns into a foot on my shoulder, hands gripping my hair, snotty face grinning with satisfaction as his other foot battles for leverage in my cleavage. 'Tall! Tall! Tall!' he chants, hanging on to my hair for dear life.  Thanks a lot for that Jez.

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers has filled my daughter's head with the idea that space travel is something you can easily achieve of a Tuesday afternoon, and as long as you have enough petrol, and while you're in space, why not catch a star or two?  It didn't take long for all this to become 'Mummy I want to go to the moon and you're not letting me' did it?  A huge tantrum over my refusal to provide a bonafide good to go spaceship, whilst driving.  (Although I don't mind soooo much because that post has been nominated for Best Post in the MADs).

I want my children to aim high, reach for the stars, shoot for the moon.  Perhaps a little less literally sometimes.  Still, these are absolutely brilliant and inspiring books.  The Way Back Home is on tour at theatres round the country. Very excited to have tickets to fill my children's heads with more schemes.

Does anyone else have any children's books that incite antisocial behaviour?

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Life, it's bigger than this blog.

My blog is about me.  It's about me thinking about motherhood, my career, my life, my loves, my gains, my losses.  It all gets very knotted together when you have children, or at least it did for me.  There's a lot about my children here, my thoughts about them, my processing of their childhood and my parenthood.  Of course one day they may enjoy looking back, but I won't mind if they are too busy being in the now.  Now is a very good place to be.

This picture was taken when I had a whole roomful of baby clutter ready to go to charity and I felt like it was coming down on my head. Whenever something occupies my mind and makes me think, in a good or a bad way, blogging helps me tidy it up.

My blog is about me, but I write as part of a community.  I'm not the first and I won't be the last to think about parenthood and I know we all have different experiences.  I try to think before I speak, write to be read and even when things are tough, offer rays of hope.    Sometimes the editor fails to spot things of course, at which point she gives herself a good telling off.

Life is bigger. It's bigger than you. And you are not me. The lengths that I will go to. The distance in your eyes. Oh no I've said too much ...

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Monday, 18 April 2011

Let the good times roll

Here I am reporting from the site of a very important Alexander Residence Easter sporting event.

Have a very Happy Easter
What do you get up to?

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Q and A

I have been tagged by Gemma of helloitsgemma and Jane of How I like my Coffee.  I am actually really excited about this one, because as Gemma correctly predicted, I am a big Guardian reader and like Gemma have tried on many occasions to concoct my own answers to this Q and A while reading the answers of famous people.  I even noticed that some of the Guardian questions are mysteriously missing, that's how much of a fan I am.  So where did they go?

Anyway now I will get on with it before you put me in the first of three categories you have to pigeonhole me into (according to the legend that accompanies this meme):
  a. ‘KNOB’ b. ‘nice person’ c. ‘I’d go for a pint with youers’ (yours?)

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
No one single person holds the key to the universe.  My mum left me lots of keys though, and lives on in my huge admiration.  I admire my Dad and brother their strength and determination.   I admire my husband for being a fearless entrepreneur.
When were you happiest?
My wedding day, and when each of my children (finally) arrived.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Farting in yoga.  It did however, give me and my friend the biggest laugh afterwards.
Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
Our caravan
What is your most treasured possession?
Although it pains me to keep it, an ansaphone message from my mum.
Where would you like to live?
Brighton, for the third and final time please.
What’s your favourite smell?
Herbs in our garden.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I did a Drama degree, so I reckon I would like to give it a whirl.
What is your favourite book?
1984, by George Orwell
What is your most unappealing habit?
Getting on my soapbox without thinking of the circumstances of the person I am talking to. That or caring too much what other people think.
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Something glamorous please. Too many rubbish experiences.

What is your earliest memory?
My baby brother falling downstairs in his carrycot. My mum in her psychological wisdom, always said it was either a false memory, or wishful 2 year old thinking.  If so, then it is watching the stars through a skylight whilst singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Glee by the box set
What do you owe your parents?
A liberal, loving upbringing
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Those friends who have been a big part of my life and then slipped away again.  Friendship is a funny thing, some of the best ones are fleeting.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Mr Alexander and the extension of that love, our children.
What does love feel like?
Swinging on a trapeze with a safety net you know will always catch you.
What was the best kiss of your life?
Bar Cuba, Macclesfield, August 1998.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Lovely. Cool. Fab.
What is the worst job you’ve done?
Chambermaid at the Grand Hotel Brighton, but it did inspire ten chapters of a novel.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
On leaving university I would have opened the door marked Journalist, but then perhaps I would be asking for a different door now if I had.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Leaving Montreal on the last day of our honeymoon, our taxi sailed through a huge pile up.  We watched it from the rear window. It was the most surreal thing to drive away and take a plane home, leaving carnage behind.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Individually, my degree result.  As a team, my marriage and my children.
When did you last cry, and why?
Tonight when I put my daughter to bed, she told me she had dreamt my mum was still alive.
How do you relax?
Running, yoga, writing, blogging, with friends, with Mr A, watching Disneys as a family.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
More time to write.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Live in the now.

I am tagging Imperfect Pages, for the wise words of a philosopher, Helen at Casa Costello because we have an expensive possession in common, Headhuntress in Hampshire because she is absolutely fascinating and Witwitwoo because we just 'met' and I would like to know more.

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Sunday, 17 April 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fridges, severed heads, polar bears and politics

So there's this guy who wants to see inside my fridge. He showed me inside his and there was a severed head.

Now that would make a great short story opening don't you think?

So this fridge meme.  Fridges do say a lot about a person, but once you've seen inside one, you've kind of seen them all. So when Him Up North offered to tag me, I was in two minds. He's set the bar a bit high with the contents of his fridge.   I'm also a bit concerned he might chop my head off and refrigerate it if I don't join in.

We're a bit more relaxed in the Alexander Residence (that or my kids are too little for severed head masks) , so this is what was in my fridge this morning:

On a more serious note, my fridge does make big political statements.
Sweet potato, spinach, lettuce, swede, carrot, broccoli, parsley, eggs, beans, fruit salad, Mr A's sneaky chicken supply (the rest of us are vegetarian - better for health, the environment, animals, the wallet), milk, tonic, jam, butter, homemade playdough (so much better than the stuff in pots), pesto, tofu, tub of feta cheese cubes (cool invention), jam, a lone kinder egg, yogurts.

Lots of it is organic, from amazing able and cole, because it's better for animals, people, hedgerows, farmers, small producers, health, the environment, taste, keeping in touch with the seasons and because they don't use air freight.  It's a myth that eating organic has to be expensive.

Open my fridge and open lots of debates.

And in the door:
More milk, wine, apple juice, olives, sauce, cheese, butter, tomato puree. 

Right Ready Steady Cook, can anyone please suggest something good to make with that lot?

Tagged - some very funny bloggers Mummy and Monkey, KateTakes5, Mid30sLife, and some yummy food bloggers Crumbs, UtterlyScrummy and two hardcore redheds (just don't expect food to feature highly) Witwitwoo and Babylon Lane Tales

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Holding on for tomorrow

I have never mourned the baby days, I loved them, but I am very much a present and future person. Two children is my limit and I'm good with that.  I have always loved that with children you never know what tomorrow will hold. 

But as I watched our cot go to a new home this week, there was a sudden pang of sadness. After four and a half years it was no longer needed, we have moved on so much, so fast.    I flash backed to this:

And wondered how it became this:

There isn't time to dwell with small children around, but I do believe in rites of passage.   I gave them a huge hug, told them how proud of them I was, they licked my face (most unappealing new habit) and we waved the cot goodbye.  They both looked so big suddenly and I felt really excited about the future. Lots of lovely tomorrows.

And this is a fab tomorrow anthem.  And so we hold each other tightly and hold on for tomorrow.

Watching this reminds me that Damon Albarn has had a few more tomorrows since he graced my bedroom walls in the 1990s.

In case you were wondering, the cot has gone to a good home through realcycle, the organisation that helps people recycle things in their community and keep things out if landfill. Happy ending.

Ths week The Gallery theme is tommorrow, click on the badge to read more.

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Monday, 11 April 2011

Never work with children or hamsters, with added VLOG

We have been asked to review The Littlest Pet Shop Hamster Playground.  Okay I admit its the kind of toy that makes my heart sink a little.  Lots of packaging, plastic, lots of fiddly bits, wierd anime style rodents that are scarier than the real life fluffy things (and I had the world's most evil hamster as a child).

But my children loved this toy, they even shared it, it is designed with playing together in mind.  I was impressed with the hamster ball doubling up as a container for all the tiny fiddly plastic bits which are a parent's nightmare, the Hoover's snack of choice and the four year old's dream.  I like the fact it helped them learn about pet care (and will hopefully distract them a little longer from wanting a real one).

Anyway actions speak louder than words, so here is our family review plus some out takes in which my lapse parenting and some other stuff is revealed:

It also went to the caravan with us, and was the perfect toy to occupy them in a small space.

Just to point out (from the mum who leaves sharp objects hanging around) that although my 2yo was involved in reviewing this,  it is a 4 plus toy, due to small parts.

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Sunday, 10 April 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Listography Five First Albums

The first singles I bought were actually quite cool (Nick Kershaw, Diana Ross, Aztec Camera). But no,  Kate Takes 5 is clever, she wants albums for this week's listography.

One...deep breath
Elton John - strictly speaking this was from Mum and Dad's collection, but aged five I went to great lengths to make my own taped version. Saturday Night and Crocodile Rock were my faves.

Two...okay this one's pretty cool
Duran Duran - aged six I had a huge argument with my best friend Claire because I was singing the vocals and the backing vocals to Wild Boys, whereas she was just singing the vocals. I was very sad when Simon Le Bon got married.
Three...still love this one to this day
Wham - although I always felt guilty about listening to Wham after reading a slightly steamy article about Andrew and George in the dentist's waiting room aged about seven. Can't remember what it was about
but it probably wasn't very appropriate for my age.

Pet Shop Boys - Great for singing along, out of tune, aged nine, on long car journeys with my walkman headphones in.

Five...oh no really don't want to admit to this
Kylie by Kylie Minogue, and I even autographed it 'To Penny love Kylie'. Massive cringe.

Dear Reader
Forgive me my musical sins.
I was young and knew no better.

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The Gallery - Mother Love

My first Mother's Day without my Mum wasn't any sadder for me than any day in the last few months. I didn't really think it would be, because in my experience grief doesn't really work like that.  A good friend told me it isn't easy to know how to grieve.  I think that's very true, and that sometimes people expect you to grieve in certain ways and at certain times, and it doesn't always follow.

I had a small wobble on Friday as opted out of Interflora's email reminder system for Mother's Day, which annoyed me as I know my mum found the commercial side of Mother's Day completely bemusing.

Perhaps it helped that we spent Mother's Day on a campsite. It  reminded me of the things that I enjoy best about being a mum, the things that my mum enjoyed too.  Being outdoors, playing in the sun, chasing chickens, tickling cats, waiting expectantly by rabbit holes, fishing with sticks, spying wildflowers, collecting stones and feathers and making pretend campfires.  My mum taught me to love nature and I am passing that lesson on.

I can't watch my children and not think of me and my little brother, we share the same birth order, the same age gap.  I watched my two play and thought about all the fun we had with mum.  While they were busy playing I picked some tiny wild flowers in her memory.

Then we returned to the caravan to a fry up cooked by Mr A.  

It was good to have a little bit of time and space to reflect on Sunday.  And to find a way to feel close to my family and my mum away from the hype.   As we drove back into suburbia there were lots of families spilling out of restaurants, all dressed up, carrying helium balloons and bouquets.  Maybe another year I'll be up for that, but this year simple was perfect.

Ths week The Gallery theme is Mother Love

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Monday, 4 April 2011

Things to watch? Er... Glee, clouds and people

Lovely Laura from Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy has tagged me in her three by nine meme.

'Simply post your answers and tag your blogging buddies and learn a little something new about each other, so here you go':

Three names I go by: Penny, Bird (best friend from Uni, not Mr A), Muhuuuuummmmmmmeeeeehhh!
Three places I’ve lived: Brighton, London, Macclesfield.
Three places I’ve worked: The Grand Hotel Brighton, various secondary schools in South London, the Alexander Residence.
Three things I love to watch: Glee, People (as in people watching), Clouds (as in floating in the sky).
Three places I have been & love: Canada, Cape Cod, Brighton.
Three people that email me regularly: Mr A, the 'wags' (my fellow London/Brighton ex-pats, now all residing in the E Midlands thanks to our other halves) the 'slags' (uni friends, self titled).
Three things I love to eat: Good day - porridge, feta salad, hummus and falafels in pitta bread.  Bad day - cake, biscuits, chocolate.
Three people I think will respond:  I need curtains for the windows in my head, Kerry on Living and Manana Mama 
Three things I am looking forward to: My storytelling course on Thursday, the very last deadline of my OU diploma, Cybermummy.


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday