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Alexander Residence: 01/02/11 - 01/03/11

Monday, 28 February 2011

Heaven is being stuck in a tin can, in a muddy field, with my family


Five of my very favourite things.  Can you spot them? 

We went away in the caravan this weekend.  It rained nearly non stop, probably because it was half term.  But we had a great time.  It was a weekend of simple pleasures.  I love our caravan, it's where we go to recharge and reconnect as a family and escape suburbia.  I know there are cynics who say being trapped in a tin box, with your nearest and dearest, over a wet weekend, sounds like hell.  But it works perfectly for us.  In fact I think it has made a huge difference to our life as a family.

Looking for the blue sky

After a day out exploring somewhere new, I love being tucked up under my tartan rug with three of my favourite people, admiring the view out if the window or listening to the sound of rain on the roof.  Small pleasures that go a long way.  We have tried tent camping and a campervan, but with small children, and the amount we wanted to get away, a caravan was the ideal solution.

The caravan has brought us closer as a family.  When you are living in a small space you talk about things more, you are physically closer, you notice the little things about each other's lives and you have to be more patient.  You have to be organised, but then possessions are minimal and so much less distracting than at home.  Being in the outdoors recharges your batteries, as does a simple change of scene.  Caravan living is a learning curve and it takes adjustments to make the most of it, but I think it is a very worthwhile mindset.

This weekend we got together with family at Titesworth Reservior.  After a long lunch in the cafe overlooking the reservoir, the rain finally gave in and the sun came out.  All six kids, dressed for mud, ran round chasing balls, rolled down hills and collected sticks to make pretend campfires.   There's a different mentality when we are caravanning, we have more adventures, explore more, we say 'pah' to bad weather stopping us from playing.

Initially I posted the picture above of Mr G and the window pane, as my Silent Sunday.  But then I decided this one sums up my Sunday better. 
cat girl
Ok I admit there was a simultaneous tantrum when they both got back to the 'van cold, wet and muddy, but how much did they enjoy snuggling back under the blankets again when we got back.

Ok, so it's not quite the vintage Cath Kidson caravan of my dreams yet, but it's so cosy.
Lo and behold I just visited Tara's The Gallery and the theme this week is simple pleasures.  It depends which side of the camping fence you sit on, but for me it's full of simple pleasures.

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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

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Friday, 25 February 2011

On having your parenting criticised in public

Dear receptionist at the gym where we are not, and never will be members

If you must open the electronic barrier on my 2 yo son's head please have the courtesy not to tell me how to be a better parent at the same time.

No, it wasn't a good idea to climb under it to rescue the toy he had just dropped, but neither was it a good idea to open the barrier without looking and then have a go at me.

That's the first time I have ever lost it with someone for criticising my parenting. In fact I don't believe anyone has ever criticised my parenting in public before. Most people cut parents of small people a
bit of slack.

I was going to complain to the manager but you're not worth it, and neither is your gym.

He's fine now, thanks for asking.

Yours
The Mum who lost her temper with you on Tuesday.


Dear Reader

Sorry, I rarely rant, but I needed that. Do you have a Dear So and So?
Link up at 3 bedroom bungalow.

Yours
Me

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Gallery - Expressions

Last week for The Gallery I shared me and my best friend in a fashion rite of passage:


Low and behold, I saw her last night, and during a fab girls' night  in - which she expertly hosted, with dinner, vino, cupcakes, choccies and facepacks - she presented me with a photo in a frame.  She is a girl for whom actions speak louder than words, and I love her for it.

It immediately hit me as the image I hadn't yet found for this week's The Gallery, where the theme is expressions. So moving on twenty years...


It's at A's wedding last summer.  The band The Jungle VIP were amazing.  My mum was just about to leave but a tune we couldn't resist came on, and A, mum and I had one last impromptu dance together.  I love our expressions...

A looks absolutely radiant, she had the biggest grin I have ever seen all day.  (She married very well, in fact her husband cooked for all eight of us girls last night, before making himself scarce). 

Mum loved to dance, round the kitchen every Friday with  G and T in hand.  Her dancing was infectious and soon pulled everyone in.  And she was a professional smiler.

I am loving being a bridesmaid, and my expression, well... that's jazz, funk appreciation.

Check out all the other expressions in the lovely Sticky Fingers The Gallery

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Monday, 21 February 2011

Music I want my children to listen to (Linky here this week!)

 GhostWriterMummy

Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity
For all to sing, dance and clap their hands

Go Stevie! 

Yes Mr Wonder is the musician I want to inspire my kids this week.  My favourite Stevie song of all time is Sir Duke, funnily enough it's all about the power of music, and name checks lots of other influential artists.  In fact Sir Duke topped the charts the year I was born so I think I was born to love this song. 

Quick, click the button below, and you can tap your feet while I tell you the story bit:



I discovered Stevie when I was a teenager working as a waitress.  The restaurant was in a village which is rumoured to have the highest number of millionaires per square mile, it was run by a fabulous hippy lady and her dreadlocked boyfriend.  The staff were like an extended family, and many of my friends worked there.  Most shifts finished with us all sitting round the table with some seriously decent tips, a glass of Chablis or Sancerre, a cheese board, mellow tunes and great conversation.  Happy Days.

So I bought Songs in the Key of Life and haven't stopped listening since.  It's an album which always makes me see the positives.

And it is my turn to host this linky this week, so go on, get your music out, write a post and come back and add your link below:

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Silent Sunday

Psssssst...Mocha Beanie Mummy has a big weekend so there's no official Silent Sunday linky this week. 
On Twitter use the #SilentSunday hashtag.

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Films I can't get out of my head


I am probably the only Film Studies teacher in the world who can't remember the names of films, or of film stars and who also suffers from film induced narcolepsy.  Despite this my film students' results were still outstanding, so I'm playing Kate Takes 5's listography this week regardless.

So here are five I do remember (Mr A helped with the names):

Seven - I had nightmares for weeks, I saw dead people everywhere.

Usual Suspects - best twist at the end, even if my best friend had to explain it to me afterwards.

The Bourne Trilogy - Maaaaaaat Daaaaaaaamon Jason Bourne is just such an uber cool character, I love all the global settings and I can relate, of course, to his amnesia.  (I'm very tempted to stop now as a trilogy really takes me up to five)

Dirty Pretty Things - About an illegal immigrant working in a London hotel who takes revenge on the system that holds him down.  So clever.

The Red Balloon - A new favourite.  Beautiful story of a boy and a red balloon in Paris.  My mum read me the book as a child, my dad just tracked down the DVD.

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Mummy 1 Kids 6 The editied highlights

Dear Children

Those days when you two lie in are always the worst.  The give me a false sense of security.  Sat in bed at 7.45am with a cup of tea I was fooled into thinking the whole day might be that laidback.  From the moment we came downstairs this morning I hit the ground running.  It was one of those days where I would never be a step ahead of you.

So here you are looking like the best of friends, and actually you have had some fantastic moments of togetherness today.  At playgroup all you wanted to do was chase each other, find slugs, climb trees and run through the flower beds.  Forget the toys, forget the other children.  Unfortunately for your poor mummy this togetherness comes with your newly discovered power of double trouble.  Creating mischief together is so much more effective.

I left to fetch a snack; you found the light switch to the aquarium and gave the fish a disco.  I left to answer the phone; you reenacted Hanzel and Gretel with a trail of breadcrumbs across the living room carpet.   I went to hang the washing up; later I found you cuddled up together, under my bed, with the i pad.


There was the banana bread debacle.  Your mummy is no domestic goddess but she knows of a lady called Nigella who is, and she isn't about to see 12 overripe bananas go to waste.  So we tripled the recipe and my goodness did you make a mess.  6 unbeaten eggs and egg shell thrown into the flour while my back was turned.  Mixture smeared across the table, down the chair leg, in my hair, over every surface in the kitchen.  But hey you had fun and were very proud of your efforts.

Miss L: Mummy can you play?
Me: I'm just cleaning the kitchen
Miss L: You're always cleaning the kitchen.

True, I thought, So why does the house still look like a bomb has hit it?

Your crowning moment was wrapping yourself in blankets, which you said were ballgowns, to pretend to be a princess and prince going the ball.  I was also a prince and had to kiss your hands and welcome you.  It was very funny, the first time.  After the fifth rehearsal/take of this entrance scene it was less funny. I might have lost my temper a bit.  I am glad you finally agreed to rehearse the 'sleepover at the palace' scene.


And here's where I just found you Mr G, asleep finally, at the top of the stairs.  Were you making one last call on the chatter phone?  You dodged all my efforts to get you to nap and whinged and whined your way through Thursday afternoon.  But you look so beautiful asleep.

Anyway this afternoon was really quite rubbish, but you know, even a bad day has edited highlights.  Thanks to imperfect pages, whose blog I was reading today, which reminded me of the joy of teasing out the little things that happen in a day.

Fancy a slice of banana bread?

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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Gallery Togetherness


So many choices for this week.  I am being inundated with togetherness from good friends and family at the moment.  But this picture just jumped out at me and asked to be posted.  My best friend from school and me c1990.

Last week she read a poem at my Mum's funeral.  We both read at each other's weddings.  We've been friends since the start of secondary school where we fell in love with drama together. You can see our love of performing in this picture I think.  We both went on to become drama teachers. 

It struck me at mum's funeral that she's someone who has witnessed and been there for the major rites of passage of my life, and ceremony and rituals mean a lot to us dramatists.   We're not on each other's doorsteps so we dip in and out, but we are always going to be a big presence in each other's lives.

For more togetherness, visit Tara's lovely Gallery.

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Back to 'work'


Tea party

Today is the first day in a while I have had the kids at home all day on my own. Sounds a bit wierd for a SAHM.  But family and friends have helped me out a lot in the last few weeks of mum's illness and death, by either taking the kids, or inviting us places.

When we have been at home it has been fleeting. All the toys had become such a jumble. I was scared to go in the playroom.  It has been so good to start afresh today, after a bit of a clearout at the weekend.

We've had a tea party, washed up, played hungry hippos, puzzled, played with the happyland, made a necklace, played babies, sung along to CDs.  I reckon we might do some painting and baking this afternoon.  All in a day's work, as any parent well knows, but it feels like a big achievement today.

I'm shattered though. Fingers crossed the Andy Pandy DVD buys me another half hour on the sofa.

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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Music I want my children to listen to

They have been a little lost at sea of late, my two little ones. They didn't see much of Mummy and then they lost Gran which left them unanchored and then shipwrecked . There have been lots of storms, generally followed by us peeling them off the decks or pulling them down from the rigging.

Music can be so therapeutic. Last time I did this linky I chose Jamiroquai which gave us the 'stillness in time' we needed and helped me to feel 'everything is good' even when it wasn't.

My prescription this week is Morcheeba, from the album Big Calm, especially the track The Sea, hence all the sea imagery earlier. Lots and lots and oceans of calm.

It worked, sort of, moments of calm and lots of smiles. (Ignore the rug, I hate it, its just there to soften any dancefloor injuries. If I keep doing this linky I will have reason to buy a new one hurrah.)

video


To link up your tunes for your children, (video footage optional) visit Music I Want My Children to Listen To at the fab Ghostwritermummy.

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Silent Sunday



To see what other people are up to this Silent Sunday, visit the fab Mocha Beanie Mummy.

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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Our date in A and E and Valentine's Listography

2. More quality time together at home.  A love film subscription. We have very different tastes in film, but we both love it.  We watched Remember Me this weekend and it made me realise we've been relying too much on Mr A's blockbuster action thriller purchases from Asda. Remember Me is likely to make you appreciate your loved one, although without giving away the plot, maybe not a film I would suggest for Valentine's Day.


Just when I thought life couldn't get any more complicated Mr A woke me up at 6am on Monday in agony due to what he 'gestured' to be a belt of pain around his chest.  I called 999, the paramedics were there in minutes. They fixed him up to a heart monitor. They pretty quickly concluded it wasn't heart related.  Mr A told me later he had already come to the same conclusion when he woke me up but couldn't explain he was in so much pain. 

They took him to the hospital, I followed on, after I had dropped the kids at a friends.  To cut a long story short, after lots of discussion and tests it turned out to be one of those wierd, one off things medics can't explain, or perhaps the beginnings of appendicitis...  But it gave us a day together, in peace, with no kids and no wifi. Which given the chaotic state our 2011 has taken, almost counts as a date. We were passing ships in January, he held the fort and worked while I spent as much time as possible with my mum.

And it made me have a big rethink about my Kate Takes 5's  listography and Notes' I Heart Me

For Valentines I would like:

1. More quality time together away from home.  A break in a spa hotel. The Menzies Hotel in Stratford Upon Avon which I languished in the hot tub in, for my best friend's hen do, would be fab:

Menzies Spa Hotel, Stratford Upon Avon

3. More quality time together on the town.  A Babysitter. Our lovely babysitter had a baby recently and oh how we've missed her.

4. More quality time together looking after ourselves.  A Wii Fit.  Due to lack of number 3, to facilitate getting out together to play some kind of real sport, dance or go for long walks. 

5. More time remembering quality times gone by...Someone to put all our pictures in albums.


Love you Mr A
x

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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Gallery - 24 hours

The theme at Sticky Fingers is 24 hours.  I am grateful for The Gallery, because over the last few months it has given me the chance to think about the events leading up to yesterday.  Often in a round about way, but in a significant way too.

Yesterday was my mum's funeral.  The longest and saddest but also the most special and inspiring 24 hours.  We chose a humanist ceremony, and it was outstanding.  It was such a celebration of my mum's life, and marked perfectly the ways that she will live on in the lives she has influenced.  I soaked up every last drop of stories from her friends and family.  In 24 hours I suddenly felt I had this amazing bird's eye view of her life, lots of through lines came together and I had a wonderful sense of her, as much more than my mum.

                                         

This is the picture, taken by my Dad, we chose for the Order of Service.  The image that we contemplated during the few minutes silence after her eulogy.   Everyone felt it was incredibly powerful, the perfect image. Some people prayed, others reflected.   Looking at it was very sad, I think there a real a mixture of emotions there, it was taken after her first operation to remove a brain tumour, when she was doing remarkably well - and rocking her new short hairdo - but she knew that the cancer would probably return.  We had got together as a family, with my brother's girlfriend's family and it was a magical weekend.  My mum's smile, positivity, supportiveness and all round loveliness are all in this image, and I found that hugely comforting.

I'm very tired, so this post by no means does the day justice, but the 24 hours themselves were an amazing tribute to my mum. 

In terms of my own pictures, I took this to capture the sea of cards that arrived before the funeral and I took one of my dad, my brother and his girlfriend, and my brother took one of me and Mr A.  We were waiting nervously for the car to pick us up, suddenly we realised how smart we looked and someone remarked that if mum had been here she would have been busy taking photos of everyone.  So we took them in her honour, but I am not sure it's right to post them.

                                                    


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Sunday, 6 February 2011

I'm grateful for...



In anything but a normal week, the week between Mum's death and her funeral, I found this linky from Mummy from the Heart, my Mum taught me to do this 3 reasons to be cheerful exercise in my diary, so it seems fitting to join in.  I'm grateful for...

1.  The support of amazing people. My mum friends sorted out a rota for looking after the kids and delivered casseroles, chocolates, flowers and listening ears. Friends and family sent cards, texts, emails, flowers, plants, balloons, babysitting offers, memories and silly banter.  My best friend agreed to do the reading I want to do at the funeral but know I can't.  Blogging and tweeting friends sent me messages of support. Mr A keeps on loading the dishwasher, dressing the kids, clearing the trail of debris I leave behind me, letting me rant.

2.  Writing my Mum's eulogy has been very cathartic and helped me to make so much sense out of her life and death. My Dad, Aunt and brother and I worked together on it. I have learnt about Mum as child, a teenager, a mum, a play therapist, a wife. I can see the through lines in her life, how learning about nature at primary school led her to teach my children how to look for insects in the garden.

3.  My kids are showing their grief, talking,crying, playing about it very openly. Children are so honest about death, their attitude is actually very liberating to us adults.  Mr A bought Miss L a spider preserved in plastic, when she showed it to my Dad, she simply said 'it's dead'.  Initially we all exchanged uncomfortable looks, but as the afternoon moved on her openness really helped us to talk too.

This weekend she decided she wanted a 'Gran garden'.  I ummed and ahhed, where shall we put it, should we ask Grandad what to plant, when shall we do it, what plants shall we buy.  She wasn't having any of it, she saw some bulbs in the supermarket yesterday and some daffodil plants, put them all in the trolley before I could protest and this morning made me go outside and just started digging.  Mr G was soon happily popping bulbs in the holes we dug.

To be fair the bulb boxes said plant in Feb.  I don't know what will appear come May/June but I know it will make me smile, and if they don't appear we'll just go and buy some bedding plants.  To be fair if they haven't grown by next week she will probably demand we buy some plants anyway.  Four months is a long time when you're four.

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Silent Sunday


Hello Silent Sunday. I missed you! Check out the others...

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