Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dear Ella (aged five)

Dear Ella,

Today you are five years old.  Half a decade! Wow. My chest fills with my emotion and my eyes with happy tears as I think back to that day five years ago when I met you for the first time. 

You don’t really look that different from last year. Mainly, your clothes are just a bit shorter. The changes in you this year are harder to see, but they are certainly there none-the-less.

You started school in September.  School wasn’t as easy a transition as I had hoped. You loved preschool so much and you had a fantastic group of friends. Suddenly, you knew no-one and were expected to stay all day every day. You went through a period of two weeks where you cried every morning. It broke my heart and I must admit I even thought (very fleetingly!) of home schooling you as I couldn’t bear to see you so upset. Of course, you now have so many friends and absolutely love school. I am so proud of you, and how you got through this tricky time so quickly and battled to be brave.

You went into school knowing most of your sounds and just three months on you are now reading so many words and spelling them too. You brought home your first book about a month ago. You were so excited and so proud that you could read it all by yourself. It was a precious moment.

You are still such a fantastic big sister. Your brother can be noisy, irrational and unpredictable, but most of the time you and I stick together and ignore him when he is being difficult. You are both very affectionate towards each other which I love so much. Yesterday you sat next right next to him on the sofa to watch Jack Frost ‘just in case you get scared, Mister’.

I love the fact that I am beginning to share two of my passions in life with you- music and books. At the moment you are really enjoying my new favourite album by The Lumineers and you sing along to the words with me. We’ve just finished reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory together. As a child, Roald Dahl was my absolute favorite author. When a new book came out, I was there at the bookshop buying it in hardback. I love that I’m now recreating these memories with you. You enjoyed the story so much and surprised me every night with how much detail you remembered from the night before. I love that your compassionate nature had you worrying whether Augustus Gloop would ever find his way out of those chocolate pipes and whether Violet Beauregarde would ever go back to her pre-blueberry shape and colour.

This year for your birthday we bought you, among other things, clothes. It’s the first time we’ve bought you clothes as before you have never been that bothered by them and it seemed a pretty unexciting present to give. However, over the past year you have grown to fall in love with anything that swishes when you twirl or is sparkly/glittery. You love to go into your wardrobe and choose what to wear.

Despite your love for all things glittery, sparkly and princess related, you love nothing more than running to the top of the hill round the corner from our house and rolling down on your tummy shrieking with the fun of it all. The muddier you get the better.

You are such a good girl. You love being praised and though no-one would ever accuse you of being a goody two shoes, you do strive to please. This doesn’t mean you don’t test the boundaries every now and again, but you’ve got to love a bit of cheekiness. Yesterday we had this conversation:

Ella: Mummy, can I have some sweets please?
Me: No. We don’t have sweets on a school night.
Ella: Please????
Me: No Ella. Don’t keep asking, you know I don’t ever change my mind.
Ella: Right!! Well, if you don’t let me have any sweets I will put this yoghurt lid on your head!
Me: [stumped for a second} Erm….. well if you do that…..I will eat all your sweets!
Ella: Ah. Just joking mummy.

I loved this little exchange. I loved your hilarious threat and my equally as mature comeback, ahem. I also love how you realised you were never going to win so just made out you were joking. I wish your brother would respond so well to my threats!

You are such a happy little girl. I am sure that whenever anyone thinks of you, they imagine you with a huge grin on your face. I hope this never changes.  

Until next year my gorgeous, clever, glittery, sparkly, muddy, cheeky, smiling girl.

I love you millions and squillions plus a bit more.

Mummy xxxxxxx

Monday, 6 August 2012

My Wedding Day

As part of my Day Zero Project, I have vowed to write about the three most significant days of my life. Number one was the birth of my daughter. Number two on the list is my wedding day:

I awoke on the morning of the 23rd May 2009 to the sun streaming through the curtains. Relief washed over me with the rays, while simultaneously, my stomach shot down to my feet and back up to my throat. Today was the day I was getting married. Gulp.

Having made the decision to plan the wedding ourselves and have the reception in two venues, (neither of which were experienced in weddings) the week before had been slightly manic. Numerous phone calls were made confirming last minute details, nearly one hundred boxes were made up and filled for the wedding favours, a few first dance practice sessions were squeezed in and copious to do lists were made. But the day was finally here, everything that could be done had been done and it was finally time to enjoy our special day.

One of the biggest worries, as with all weddings in this country, was the weather. So as I skipped to the hairdressers at 10 am in a vest, little denim skirt and flip flops, I had the biggest grin on my face. I must have done something right, somewhere. It was perfect.

I came back from the hairdressers to a house full of people. I thanked my lucky stars again when my Mum told me that yes, The Whirlwind had listened and taken note of The Plan and had her nap. There would have been nothing worse than an over tired toddler on our wedding day. I put my make up on and slipped into The Dress. It felt amazing.  I just hoped The Hubster would like it.

One by one people left the house until just my Dad and I remained. I don’t remember much about the journey to St Andrew’s Hall.  I would imagine it involved me trying to contain the bubble of excitement and nervousness in my tummy and trying to think about anything else other than the hundred odd pairs of eyes that would be upon me very shortly. I expect my Dad joked about and gave me some advice in a calm manner. Probably advice about breathing and walking slowly down the aisle. Advice which I completely ignored. 

Me giving Usain Bolt a run for his money.
Despite being a very emotional person, I really didn’t expect to cry. But as the gentle chords of Finlay Quaye’s Love Gets Sweeter began, the door opened and I caught sight of The Hubster –to-be at the end of the aisle, I welled up. Thoughts of my mascara running just about stopped the tears brimming over, and I practically sprinted down the aisle.

We did the ceremony bit. We exchanged the words we had carefully chosen. The Hubster’s Mum confidently read out a meaningful piece, my brother did an equally good job at reading out a poem we had jointly written, drunkenly, one night. The Whirlwind ran to the front and hid under the curtain. We did the ‘I do’ bit, (or was it ‘I will’?!) and were pronounced man and wife. We signed the register while (unknown at the time) Ronan Parke wooed the audience with his version of Stand By Me. 

Signing our lives away ;-)

We walked out to Baby I Love You, The Ramones. This time, with the terrifying bit over and my new husband by my side, I strolled down the aisle with a genuine grin on my face. I don’t think my face was without that smile for the rest of the day!

The next couple of hours were spent having photos taken, catching up with old friends and drinking Pimms in the lovely courtyard of St Andrew’s Hall. 

One cheeky little flowergirl (The Whirlwind)

Soon it was time to venture to the next venue, so all one hundred of us headed off through the city to the pub where we went on our first date. 

I loved this walk!
There were four great speeches, by the best man, The Hubster, my Mum and my Dad. The Hubster’s parents had very generously booked us a holiday as a wedding gift, but we didn’t know where to. They presented us with a card that told us we were off to Venice on Monday. We were thrilled to bits! Then our friends presented us with another card that told us we were set to spend our wedding night in a gorgeous hotel around the corner. We were feeling very lucky!

The next couple of hours were spent floating around catching up with people, drinking champagne and trying to get a bit of buffet in. At around 6 o’clock we went and checked into to our stunning room for the night. There was a bottle of champagne on ice so we sat on the sofa and had a toast. Our first moment alone as man and wife. I topped up my make up and then we were off again. I remember distinctly walking back through the corridors and stopping at a window to look over the beautiful sunlit city. With my new husband behind me with his arm around me, we savoured the moment. The day had gone so perfectly, and we had the whole of the evening ahead of us.

We walked hand in hand from St Giles Hotel to the next venue The Arts Centre, gaining lots of congratulatory smiles along the way from strangers. I suppose it’s not every day you see a bride and groom, alone, walking through the streets. We arrived at the venue and we were so amazed at how good the place looked. The balloons, the tables, the cake, everything was just how we had hoped and more. It wasn’t grand or extravagant, but it was simple and pretty. We greeted our new guests and then went our separate ways to catch up with old friends.

At 8 o’clock we had our first dance, “When the Stars go Blue’, Ryan Adams. My plan with the first dance was to get everyone a bit tipsy so no-one would notice how bad we were. The Hubster however, had other ideas. He instigated three ‘practices’ the week before. The practices didn’t go brilliantly I think it’s fair to say, mainly due to my two left feet. What we hadn’t accounted for was that of course, with my long dress no-one would see the completely different little jig my feet were doing.

The Hubster grinning and bearing it as I tread on his foot again.

 On the second dance, ‘On a Day Like This’, Elbow, everyone came and joined in.  Straight after Monkey Spanner, the reggae/ska band we had booked kicked in with their first number. We both had a super time dancing with each other and friends.

After some dancing we soaked up some of the alcohol with a delicious hog roast. Soon after followed the cutting of the cake. The rest of the night was spent chatting, drinking and dancing to the music we had so carefully selected.

It was a sad moment when we realized we were down to the last few guests. But we were determined for the night not to end so we carried on partying at a local pub, Delaneys until the small hours. At some point we staggered back to the hotel, exhausted, a little worse for wear, but exhilarated that we were at last man and wife, and that we had had the most fantastic day ever celebrating with our nearest and dearest. It had been a day to treasure and remember for the rest of our lives.  

Thought I'd finish with this one rather than the one taken from the end of the night. It's a bit more flattering!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dear Baby Boy (aged two)

As part of my Day Zero Project, I have pledged to write my children a letter for every birthday. Here's my letter to The Giggle Monster on his second birthday:

Dear Baby Boy,

I have been saying for months that when you turn two you will no longer be a baby. But I have changed my mind. Three is definitely the new two. You are still in a cot, you still guzzle your morning milk from a sippy cup, you still toddle about in nappies and are happily pushed about in your pushchair. By the time you are three, I’m sure you will no longer be doing these things. Perhaps, just perhaps, I might accept that you are no longer a baby then. Or maybe not.

I suppose some people may read this and say I am reluctant to face the fact that my baby is growing up.  Yes, in some respects of course this is true, who isn’t? But gorgeous boy, you are learning, growing, changing and progressing every single day and I am so, so proud of every step.

Six months ago you had one word, duck, or ‘dut’. In the past month you have gone from about 10 words to nearly 50. You have gone from occasionally putting two words together to yesterday putting four words together. It’s incredible. You really made me wait for that moment when you first called me Mummy. It was a fortnight ago and it still gives me a physical surge of joy every time I hear it.

About 6 weeks ago you gave me your first, proper sloppy kiss, completed by a very loud mwtuah noise! Since then I am always requesting kisses. I quite often ask for a kiss and you shake your head or say ‘no!’. Maybe the fact your kisses are numbered makes them even more special.

Just two months ago you would cling to me when we were somewhere unfamiliar. I would have to take you with me everywhere, even to the toilet. Apart from the people close to you, you didn’t really interact with other people. Then two months ago we were at the Dinosaur park and my friend’s husband offered his had to you mid tantrum. To my amazement, you took it and went off and played with him, out of my sight, for half an hour. It’s been uphill ever since. You talk to all the important grow ups in your life and are starting to play with your little friends too.

You still love animals. ‘Dats’ (cats) and doggies are your favourite. You’re rather fond of ‘hawhees’ too. It’s a great distraction technique when you are getting restless in the buggy. You spent ages at your birthday party on Sunday stroking a little dog, giggling away.

You have a new passion in your life since I last wrote to you. They come in all shapes and sizes and colours. You like to ‘plop’ them in puddles, down drains and in rivers……’Stow!’ (stones). Everywhere you go you find a new one or five for your collection.

You love your sister ‘Eyeee’ so much. You miss her when she’s not around and ask where she is. She really looks out for you and translates for you when other people don’t know what you’re saying. You kiss each other every night before you go to bed. Yesterday I forgot and sent her up to her room without one, but you soon made it clear you were not going without your goodnight kiss.

In September your big sister will be going off to school, it will be just you and me. I did have your name down to start preschool at the same time, but then I changed my mind. There’s no rush and I don’t think you are quite ready yet. Ok, I guess I am not ready either. I’m really looking forward to having you for another term all to myself, though gosh I’m going to miss that sister of yours. I have lots of fun stuff planned for the two of us though, things I did with your sister but found difficult to do  with the two of you.

So next time I write to you, you will be three. Three! That really is little boy territory.  I know that between now and then we are going to have so much fun and you will continue to grow and change a whole lot more.

Until then, my beautiful, perfect baby boy.

All the love in the world,

Mummy xxxxxxxxx

Friday, 13 April 2012

I'm not sure how much more of this I can take......

There may be a drought in this country at the moment, but I feel like I am drowning.

I have been battling with you for months. It must be at least four. There was one day when I woke up and you had disappeared. Gone, completely. I sang, I danced a merry dance and I smugly paraded my gorgeous, snot-free children before the world. But alas, the next day you were back with a vengeance.

You appear in a variety of colours, ranging from a sludgy yellow to an almost neon green. My subconscious must have been on form the day we chose the colour scheme for our bedroom as you blend in nicely to the duvet covers when the kids arrive for their morning snuggle.

You can strike at any time. Usually when I've just got dressed, or on the rare occasions I have blow dryed and straightened my hair. Sometimes I don't realise until I look in the mirror and am confronted with a scene similar to that in There's Something About Mary.

Your longevity and sheer quantity has lead to a constant crusty nose on my youngest. And almost like a vampire longs for sweet blood, I lust after picking off the jewel-like cluster. Of course this doesn't go down well the host, so much so I can barely get within a one metre of the fella with a tissue in my hand. I have had to develop a new method which involves sneaking up from behind, and whipping my hand round at super quick speed, followed by a burst of song or dance to distract from the inevitable shrieks of protest.

I'm not sure if you are a particularly powerful strand? But my oh my, you can shoot out of my son's nose at quite a speed and go quite a distance. If you're still around next year maybe the pair of you could go for Britain's Got Talent?

As I round off this post, a loud 'aaaaatchoo' comes from the other room. I shout through to my daughter to get a lowdown on the damage. 'On a scale of 1 to 10, what are we dealing with?' She calls back, 'Uh oh, it's a really long one..... oh no, it's okay he's wiped it. On your coat.'

Roll on Summer.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Double Trouble

We have two children. A girl and a boy. The perfect balance, a nice even number. 'The matching set' as some people have put it. I am grateful every single day and thank my lucky stars for these healthy, gorgeous children. To be honest, I'm baffled that life has turned out so good. I've had a pretty amazing husband thrown my way too.

But. BUT. The people who told me having two children 'is much easier, you just need a bigger changing bag', lied. It was, in fact, a big fat lie. It's not easy at all, it's darned hard work. 

There are two and half years between the kids. I was so anxious about The Giggle Monster coming along and how The Whirlwind would react, having been in the limelight all her life. I needn't have worried, she accepted her new brother into our household with a relaxed nonchalance only a toddler could carry off. He was an easy baby and The Whirlwind's life carried on much the same, only she had a slightly sleep deprived Mummy she had to prod awake every now and then.

Fast forward to today. Today we have a interested, interesting, sociable,  4 and a half year old live wire, who is constantly asking, 'what's next?!'. We also have a interested, interesting, not-so-sociable nearly two year old live wire who sways between loving life and finding fun everywhere, to finding life really quite frustrating.

His frustrations often revolve around toys. The Whirlwind is playing with something he wants so he growls/shrieks at her. Sometimes, bless her, she moves on to play with something else, only for a minute later the pattern to be repeated. Sometimes his growls and shrieks tip her over the edge and she cries and stamps her feet. The Giggle Monster finds this funny, so he shrieks and growls some more. This doesn't go down well with The Whirlwind.

We try and play board games at the table but of course he climbs up and destroys the game. We make things out of Lego and he pulls them apart. We try and read books together but they fight about who's going to lift the flap. I take them out and they both want to go in different directions.  

I can't split myself in two. I wish I could. I feel like neither of them get enough quality time with me.

But there's no use in dwelling. This is a challenging time for our family.  The Whirlwind is due to start school in a few months time and I'm sure she is ready for that extra stimulation. The Giggle Monster is at a tricky age, but I know it's a phase they go through and it will pass.

And for now, I will treasure these moments. These moments that tell me it is worth it:

Making mud pies

'You can do it, Mr.!' - The Whirlwind

The Whirlwind helping her brother wash his hands for lunch.

Say 'Ahhhh!'

Easter bunnies

Sharing a book

A challenging time yes, but also pretty magical too.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Listography Top 5 Male Solo Artists

I haven't blogged for a while, life keeps getting in the way, but when I saw that Kate's listography this week was music related I had to join in.

1) Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks. What an album. I love every song. I possibly know all the lyrics. ( And he smiled at me when I shouted 'Bob! Give us a smile!' at a gig in Brighton. No, really he did!)


2) Bob Marley - Legend. Yep, hands up, I have a thing about Bobs. Legendary, this album certainly is.


3) Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams. I would be surprised if this turns up on any other lists, but I love Jack Johnson. His voice is so soothing and listening to his albums really relaxes me. The summer of 2005 I went on holiday - Singapore to Brisbane, to Fiji, to Melbourne and then home via Las Vegas and I swear I heard it at every place! Happy memories.


4) Ryan Adams - Gold. My Dad who writes at Apache Territory once wrote a post called An Album That Everyone Should Own. He's right. You should.


5) Van Morrison - At the Movies: Soundtrack Hits. Van the Man. He's a grumpy old git, but boy can he belt 'em out. Bit of a cheat putting a best of on, but it is such a good one.


You can check other people's lists out over at Kate takes 5.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Listography - 5 things that make me happy

Blog! Well hello there!

I’m so sorry I have abandoned you of late. My mind has been elsewhere. Mainly composing numerous holiday related to do lists. Other pursuits have involved fruitless Google searches including is it still legal to drug your children on aeroplanes how to occupy small children on a long flight. If all goes to plan (and The Hubster who has spent the last 3 days in bed with excruciating back pain recovers), we are off to sunny St Lucia in 10 days. Eeeeeeeek!

Anyway. I’m rambling. Kate from the amazing blog Kate Takes 5 has set a nice, simple topic for this week’s Listography. I saw it and thought, yes, I can definitely squeeze this one in between the rewriting of The Holiday To Do List and the latest Google search ('is the volcano in St Lucia actually active?').

So, this week Kate's Listography is....... five things that make me happy. This one was especially easy as I recently wrote a ‘50 things that make me happy’ list for my Day Zero Project, so I had plenty to chose from.

1.     Watching my children playing together when they don’t know I’m looking. This one is taken directly from my '50 things that make me happy’ list. It was number one on that list and it’s number one on this list. It makes my heart do a little flip every time.

2.     Feeling the sun warm my skin. I was feeling a bit rubbishy this morning. The poor Hubster is suffering so much with his back, it's horrible to see him in so much pain. The kids are both full of colds. And The Holiday is in 10 days. B-u-t, then I stepped outside and I could definitely feel Spring in the air. Later I took The Giggle Monster for a walk through the woods and I felt the warmth of the sun on my face for the first time in months. Absolute bliss. Never underestimate the power of the sun. It certainly made a difference to my mood today.

3.     Fine dining. I do like a posh meal. That’s right, I’m talking about those restaurants that pepper their menus with terms such as ‘confit’, ‘chiboust’,  ‘jus’ and ‘buerre blanc’. Of course the pretentious menu has to be lived up to. Team an exquisite meal with a tasty glass of wine and I am one happy lady.

4.     The great outdoors. I was talking with a friend earlier this week about how I have grown to appreciate nature so much more with age. Last weekend The Hubster and I had a night away and we went for some lovely walks in t'countryside. As I didn’t have the kids to chase about I found myself looking really closely at the world around me. The shadows, the shapes, the patterns, the colours. I love being out with the kids too, watching them skipping about, marveling at flowers and sticks and stones. 

5.     Travel. I was lucky enough to do quite a bit of travelling in my twenties. I had two trips to Australia, squeezing in Bali, Fiji, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Las Vegas along the way. I also had short breaks to Barcelona, Prague, Slovakia and Italy. I love discovering new places, eating different food, learning about different cultures and meeting new people. Travelling with two children in tow no doubt will be a different experience, but one I’m very excited about. I can’t wait to show them the world. 

Our first of many family holidays: The Algarve, Portugal Oct 2010

What makes you happy? I’m popping over to Kate’s now to check out the other entries.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Ultimate Jumping Around Album: Disc One - The Classics

I talked here about my desire to teach my children about real music.

Here is Disc One of three albums I've composed to jump around and generally dance like crazy things to:

I Get Around - The Beach Boys
One Step Beyond - Madness
Do you Love Me - The Contours
Wild Thing - The Contours
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
La Bamba - Los Lobos
Wipeout - The Surfaris
Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
The Locomotion - Little Eva
Johnny B Goode - Chuck Berry
Soul Man - Sam and Dave 
Baby I Love You - The Ramones
Ain't No Mountain High Enugh - Marvin Gaye
Bright Side of the Road - Van Morrison 
Lola - The Kinks

Quite a few of these featured in the Friday Night Discos we had as a family when I was young.

This album went down particularly well over the weekend when the heating randomly stopped working!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The ultimate car album for kids

Make an album of my favourite songs to introduce the kids to music.  (Number 62 Day Zero Project)

Both the kids already love music and we regularly go to music classes and sing our little hearts out to The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald’s Farm. It gets us out and they love it, but I do want the children to learn some ‘real’ songs.

My original intention was to compose an album. However, after going through our entire iTunes library, I ended up with over 70 songs so I have organised them into 4 albums which I will post separately.

Here is the first one, perfect to listen to on car journeys:

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles
Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan
Three Little Birds – Bob Marely
I Want To Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
3 is a Magic Number – Embrace
Octopus’s Garden – The Beatles
One Day Like This – Elbow
Good Day Sunshine – The Beatles
My Girl – Otis Redding
Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson
Warerloo Sunset – The Kinks
In the Morning – Norah Jones
Dreams be dreams – Jack Johnson
( Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

The first half are a collection of upbeat, sing-a-long numbers, and the second half a little more chilled out. 

I really hope they feel as passionate and excited by music as I am when they are older. Already Yellow Submarine is a new favourite with The Whirlwind.

Any to add?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Dear Hubster,

Today is Monday. I used to dread Mondays when I worked. Monday-itis we called it at school.

Now Mondays mean something different but I’m still not a fan. Mondays now mean a 4.45am start and you driving 300 odd miles away from us. Our little family is fragmented, temporarily.

At first, after a weekend of you treating me to two lie ins and us ‘sharing’ the parenting, the thought is slightly bewildering and overwhelming. I am now totally responsible for the welfare and well being of these two small children and there’s the house to manage too. And I’m tired. The days and hours of the week ahead stretch out before me.

I drop The Whirlwind off at pre-school and I wonder whether to take a nap with The Giggle Monster. I don’t; the house is a mess and needs attending to. We have been doing more important things this weekend like having fun.

I’m feeling sorry for myself but as I reach the ‘it’ll do' stage on the house tidying action, I flick on the kettle and take stock. Here I am in our lovely, forever home that we have recently purchased. In the village we dreamed of living in but never thought we would. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. My beautiful baby boy will awaken soon and we will laugh and cuddle and chat about pandas and polar bears. Then we’ll pick up The Whirwind and no doubt there will be some whirling and some winding and more laughter. By this time you will have just about reached rainy Cumbria.

You don’t have the choice of a nap. You don’t have the choice to decide whether to do a spot of finger painting this afternoon, go puddle jumping or visit a friend for a cuppa. 

You are the world to us. I’m sorry I’m too self absorbed sometimes to remember how much you do and how hard you work for our little family.

I love you so much. You are a wonderful father, an amazing husband and the bestest best friend a girl could ask for.  Oh and you make a pretty good wind farmer too :-).

I anticipate Friday with much excitement but until then I will be mainly playing Rapunzel and reading animal based books with a smile on my face. Thank you for making this a choice for me. I appreciate it more than you will ever know. (Even though I may moan about it sometimes).

Love you millions and squillions.

Your most definitely un-wiffey,



Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Imposter

She wears her hair in a tight bun. The severity of it pulls back her features. Her eyebrows are permanently raised upwards. If they could speak, they would say, ‘are you really going to do that?!'.

I am guilty. Guilty of listening to this mad woman. She pervades my thoughts every day and wears me down. Those eyebrows of hers are omnipresent.

She reared her ugly head the very same moment that The Whirlwind’s was yanked into the world and she has been residing on my shoulder ever since.

A Forceps delivery meant very shortly after birth I was whisked off to surgery. That’s right, I abandoned my baby an hour after her birth. Oh the guilt. Yes, I know. It wasn’t really my ‘fault’, but Mother Guilt does not listen to this rational way of thinking. In fact she puts her God damn hand up and says ‘what-ever!’.

Once we arrived home from the hospital, she questioned me over every decision I made. She made me feel bad for leaving my babies to settle themselves in their cots. So I brought them into bed. Then suddenly, there were those eyebrows accusing me of doing it ‘wrong.’ She makes some mothers feel guilty for not breastfeeding. And then those who do it she goes and bullies for not ‘allowing' Daddy a chance at bonding through feeding. She is impossible to please.

A few months down the line and she dumps a whole load of new guilt on your shoulders: going back to work. Although, this time round, I have been fortunate not to have to do this, bizarrely this still makes me feel guilty. How will my youngest cope with starting preschool when he hasn’t had more than a handful of days away from me? Will he be less socially able and confident than his peers who have spent time in a Nursery from a young age?

And now. She makes me feel guilty every time I say to my children, ‘Just wait a minute’. She makes me feel guilty for doing the housework when I should be playing with the children. She makes me feel guilty for not doing the housework because I’ve been busy playing with the children. She makes me feel guilty when I turn the TV on. She makes me feel guilty when I am cooking the tea and all The Giggle Monster wants to do is read books and cuddle. She makes me feel guilty when some days I just don’t feel like playing Rapunzel.

Mother Guilt, you have worn me down. I have had enough. I will find the energy to peel you off my shoulder. And when I do, I will unravel that bun. Then I will swing you round and round Mrs Trunchball style and fling you away like my life depended on it.

Maybe it does.  

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My verdict on the tracks you gave me....

Number 96 of my Day Zero Project was 'Ask my friends to give me the name of one track that they love and I probably don’t know and listen to them all'.

Music. It’s my drug. Or maybe I should say, was.

From a family passionate about music, it has always been a big part of my life.  I have neglected this part hugely lately. Test me on any kids programmes theme tunes. I will know all the words. Charlie and Lola’s Bestest story collection? Yep I can pretty much recite that word for word too. This doesn’t cut it though when you're out for dinner and someone asks, ‘so what have you been listening to lately?’.

It was for this reason I chose number 96 on my Day Zero project. 

It’s taken me a while to complete this task :18 songs = just over an hour of listening? Amazing how hard it is to find that hour.

Anyway, bit by bit I did it. I actually listened to them all twice. What lovely friends I have with such eclectic tastes! There really is a mixed bag here.

So, just a few words about each one:

Cory Branan – Miss Fergson
Loved, loved the feel good chords and twinkly riff in this little number.

Fionn Regan  - Violent Demeanor
Haunting. In a good way. Reminded me of Bob Dylan. Very poetic lyrics.

James Vincent McMorrow – This Old dark Machine
I listened to this once. I then headed to Play.com to buy the album followed by The Arts Centre website to purchase tickets to see him next month. Enough said?

Christine - House of love
Really stayed with me after listening to this one. Love the harmonies and the depth it gives to the lyrics.

The Smiths – Started Something
I did listen to The Smiths when I was younger. Mainly when I went through my vegetarian phase I think! Never came across this one though, I like it a lot. Rather bouncy for a Smiths song.

Nightfly – Donald Fagin
Cool. Smooth. Slick. Just what you promised. Y-e-s!

Georgie fame – Somebody Stole My Thunder
My Dad knows me so well. Love this song. This is exactly why I should have been born in the 60s. Damn it.

The Dixie Chicks – Godspeed
What a beautiful lullaby. It has a real element of sadness to it so I looked up the lyrics and turns out it was written by a Dad estranged from his son. Very sad. 

Frank Turner – Live Fast Die Old 
This was always going to be reliable coming from my old gig buddy. Listening to this makes me want to learn all the words and go and bounce up and down, hugging strangers, covered in beer and sweat.

Prince – Raspberry Berret I missed out on a lot of 80s music because I was listening to 60s music. Prince is an icon. He is extremely talented. But his music is just not for me.  Sorry Emma!

Laura Marling - Goodbye England ( Covered in Snow)
 An acoustic guitar. A beautiful voice. Some great lyrics. I will be listening to more of this young lady.

Sharpen the Knife  - Who Knew  
Yes! This is the one to dust your air guitar off for and head to the mosh pit! Great stuff!

Ben Howard  - Diamonds
Reminds me of Jose Gonzalez a lot. Which I love.  Have ordered this one too.

Flightless Bird Iron and Wine
Stunningly beautiful. One of those songs that sends a surge of emotion through you.

Dario Marianelli – The Dominoes Fall
Powerful music. This made me feel nervous and anxious. I will watch ‘V for Vendetta’ as my film beginning with V! ( Number 40: Watch 26 films atrting with the letter ‘A’)

Thank you so much everyone for your contributions! :-)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dear So and So

I saw this meme earlier today at 3 Bedroom Bungalow, where the brilliant Kat writes 'letters' every week to get a few things off her chest. I've often got things to get off my chest so......

Dear darling Hubster,

I love you so much.

I love that you have things that you are passionate about .

However. HOWEVER.

When I am drifting off to sleep at night after a long day chasing after The Crazy Kids, I do not want to talk about watches.

I don’t want discuss which one of your watches is my favourite. I don’t want to talk about which one you are going to buy The Giggle Monster for when he’s older (the latest excuse to buy a new one). I'm not really fussed about the size of the face and even less bothered about the size of the twiddly knob bit.  While we're on the subject, I also don’t want to talk about cars. Or even campervans.

A back rub would be nice though ;-)

Lots of love,
Your ever devoted (except when tired) Wiffey xxxx

*          *         *         *

Dear CELEBRITY Sister To Be ( hopefully!!),

Hello! You don’t know me but hopefully very soon you will! My Mum is going on a date with your Dad on Sunday! I know, it’s so exciting!

I always wanted a sister! We can paint our nails together, watch girly films, talk shoes, talk boys…….well you can. ;-) I can joke with you now we’re nearly sisters right?!

Let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed for Sunday!

Lots of love and sloppy, sisterly kisses,
Kelly xxxxxxxxx

*          *          *          *

Dear Nurse,

So today you invite me into your room. Sit me down all smiley, smiley. Then you jab a needle into my vein  and suck out lots of my blood. And then, and then…… you give MY CHILDREN chocolate buttons??!!

Where were mine??!!

Yours grumpily,
The one with the maimed arm. 

*          *          *           *

Dear mini roundabout users,

Hey guess what?! Newsflash! Mini roundabouts are exactly the same as normal sized roundabouts! The same rules still apply. Shocker!
That is all. 

Many thanks, *grits teeth*

*          *        *         *

Dear wearer of the black hoody with ‘moody mare’ emblazoned across your chest,



*          *         *          * 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Dear Baby Boy

As part of my Day Zero Project, I am writing a letter to my children on their birthdays. I missed Giggle Monster’s 1st birthday as it was back in July so I have decided to write one today instead as he is exactly 18 months old. 

Dear Baby Boy,

You are 18 months today. My, my.

You are a constant in my life.  Every day we hang out, you and me. Your big sister goes off to Nursery now and Daddy goes off to work.  But you and me. It’s always you and me.  

I am 374 months. It’s hard to conceive how little of my life you have been a part of really. But wow, what a big part you have become.

You were a pretty chilled out baby. You just tagged along with whatever we were doing. Just hanging out in the sling was good for you, or sitting on my lap while I played games with The Whirlwind. You were pretty content simply watching the world pass you by.

You weren’t in a hurry to crawl or walk. You took your first steps at nearly 14 months old. I thought with you being the second child it wouldn’t be such a big thing. But it was still just as magical and my heart swelled with joy.

You adore your big sister and your Daddy. Your face lights up and you squeal with delight when they enter the room. And vice versa.

From the age of one you have loved cuddly toys, particularly Panda. If things are getting a little tough, we go and find Panda and you bundle on top of him and give him a big bear hug. Panda and your teddies in your cot give you great comfort. This morning I smiled as I listened to you over the monitor babbling away to them all, telling them all sorts of tales and important stories I'm sure.

As well as cuddly animals you are amazed by real ones. You are in heaven walking around Whitlingham Broad, with all the dog walkers, swans, ducks, geese and birds to point and chat away to. Daddy took you to the zoo on Sunday for the first time since you were a little and you were in heaven.  A particular fan of the giraffes apparently.

My favourite time of the day is 6.30pm. You flag a bit about 4. It’s hard work sometimes to keep you going ‘til tea time. But once you’ve had your tea, that’s it. It’s Crazy Time!! Crazy Time involves: crazy dance moves, crazy spinning round in circles, crazy walking, crazy running, and lots and lots of crazy laughter. Crazy time often entails crazy bundling on the bed also. Amazingly, though, as soon as I mention the word ‘book’ you are in my lap and ready for some serious lift the flap action. And then I pop you in your cot, place your teddies under your arms and away you go, dreaming of beautiful swans and giant pandas, no doubt.

You want to be involved with everything I’m doing, which is so sweet. You help me load up the washing machine and hang it out. You help me to unload the dishwasher. You even ‘help’ me clean. If you notice a mark on the carpet, you are soon there armed with a babywipe scrubbing away. 

You gotta train 'em early!
You said your first word last week, ‘duck’. I know some children are talking alot by now, but it still made me fiercely proud. Now whenever a duck comes on the TV or appears in a book we are reading, you point and say, ‘dut!’. I love it every time.  I can’t wait to talk to you some more.

Baby boy, you have completed our little family. You have brought even more joy and laughter into our home. We all love you so much.

I can’t believe next time I write to you, you will be two and no longer a baby. 

I guess you will always be my baby though.

Love you millions and squillions,

Mummy xxx

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Listography: My 5 top Bests

Kate's listography this week is your five Bests. It can be best anything: best day, best decision, best drink... the list is endless.

With 31 years worth of potential material, this took a lot of thinking. But I got there eventually. Here we go:

Best meal – last November The Hubster took me on a surprise trip to Amsterdam for my birthday.  One night we went to the Yamazato restaurant in our hotel, the only Japanese restaurant in Europe to have been awarded a Michelin star. Going to a Michelin starred restaurant is not something we regularly do so we thought, 'what the hell' and went for the 8 course set meal. It was absolutely divine. It took us about 2 hours to get through all the courses and we savoured every mouthful. 

Best sunrise – August 2006. Sorrento.  The night before had been spent in the hotel restaurant eating good food, giggling raucously and drinking copious amounts of wine from the vineyard next door. A few hours later after minimal kip The Hubster (to be at that point) dragged my hungover body out of bed and to the balcony. There we sat, holding hands watching the sunrise. And eventually, after an extremely long awaited 6 (GOD DAMN!!) months,  he told me he loved me. Everybody, say 'ahhhhhh'.  There is a little more to this story, but I think it deserves a blog post of it’s own: watch this space!

Best trip – The trip I took in the summer of 2002 with my Mum. We raced around the streets of Bangkok in a tut-tut, climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, threw ourselves off a cliff in Byron Bay, snorkeled in Cairns and then partied the nights away in Las Vegas.

Best wedding. My own. Of course. I was never the type to dream of my wedding day. I didn’t want to wear a white dress, I didn’t want to spend £1000s on flowers, bridesmaids dresses and expensive venues. So we did it our way. We walked down the aisle to Finlay Quaye’s ‘Your Love Gets Sweeter.’ We did the promising to love each other forever bit. We walked out to ‘Baby I Love to You’ by The Ramones. We drank Pimms in the sun with our marvellous friends and family. We walked (all 100 of us!) through the lovely city of Norwich to a pub and had some grub and a few toasts were made. And then we danced the night away to my favourite local ska band. Not traditional, but still one of the best days of my life.

Couldn't resist the white dress in the end!

Best single moment(s) – those two single moments when my babies were handed to me for the first time. If I could go back and relive anything it would be these precious seconds. 

Three generations of girlies.

 Now I'm off to see other people bests at Kate Takes 5.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Listography: Top 5 photos of 2011

Kate Takes 5's first listography of the year is to pick your 5 best photos from 2011. This was hard. I can hear what you're thinking- because I have stacks of stunning, arty pictures of my beautiful family? Er, no.  I am rubbish at remembering to take photos. I am rubbish at taking photos. Most of them are a bit blurry (in an unintentional, non-arty way) and tend to involve the subjects sporting missing limbs. Or heads. To add to the problem, The Whirlwind developed a 'pirate smile' earlier this year, which she would treat us with every time we said, 'say cheese!'. This involved squinty eyes and a lopsided smile. Attractive. Not.

So here are my favourite pics from the select few:

Me and my girl in Tarn Hows, Cumbria

 Do you like how I made the back bit all blurry and then slowly came into focus on the subject? I did this on purpose. It shows how our family are connected to, and in fact merged with,  nature. *ahem*

Sibling love. 

My handsome boys. Excuse the pink hat.

Considering this little fella has been hanging off my hip for the last 18 months, surprisingly this is one of the very few pics I have of him and me.

Yes, we are all posing and looking at the camera. I know this is not cool. But we all have our eyes open. We are all still. We are not blurry. All vital limbs are present. This is therefore a good photo in our standards. I promise to try harder in my 365 Day Photo Challenge I started yesterday.

I can't wait to get over to Kate's and check out other peoples' entries.