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 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.