I Love/Hate The Summer Holidays

It’s Tuesday evening and the first week of the summer holidays is over. The kids have mainly had a good time and the bar has been set high.

We have picked our own fruit, walked the dogs, eaten too many ice creams, had swimming parties, camped in the garden and had a massive sleepover. The school run seems an age ago and the kids have slipped into later bedtimes and lie ins with very little encouragement.

The weather has been lovely; mainly hot and sunny, punctuated by some awesome electrical storms. We have had some truly lazy days of summer so far.

On the downside we’ve also had sibling squabbles, tears, boredom and reluctance to continue with their piano practice.  None of them have much homework to do apart from a bit of reading and writing, but I have learnt not to let them neglect their music. Trying to get children back to regular music practice after a long holiday is not easy; it’s much better to just keep them ticking over if at all possible.

I d0 miss having some ‘me time’ during the holidays. I work part time and am self employed so do very little ‘work’ when the kids are at home demanding food, clean clothes, craft material and the Netflix pin number. Instead I police screen time, referee disagreements, provide entertainment suggestions, ferry children all over the place and try and make sure my offspring don’t develop a nutritional deficiency.

Can I just tell you how much I HATE feeding my children over the summer? At least while they are at school I can be reasonably confident that they get one balanced meal a day. but when they are off school they seem to think that all they need to eat is junk.

I know some of you will be reading this and wondering what on earth I am whining about, especially if you are working and would love to spend the summer with your kids. But hopefully some of you will understand how full on the holidays can be if you have no childcare, and can sympathise with my mixed feelings.

This time next week we will have had two weeks of summer and will be preparing for our Scandinavian road trip. Panic will have set in and I will be pouring over lists and itineraries and worrying if we’ll be able to fit everything in the car, as well as making sure none of the kids kill each other. Next week is going to make this week look like a walk in the park.

I need to stop stressing and make the most of the rest of this week, don’t I?

jumping in

How To Read More Books

I read a lot. At least a book a week, but that’s during term time.

During holiday time, it’s much harder to find reading time.  I am trying to encourage my four to have a reading hour each day, so I can slope away for a bit of peace and quiet as well, but mostly I find myself having to tear myself away from my book to physically separating warring children. I try to read a little before I go to sleep at night, but these days I find myself falling asleep over my kindle less than ten minutes after climbing into bed.

So I thought I’d give Audible a go.

Audible.co.uk is an Amazon company, so if you already have an Amazon account, it’s very easy to log on and buy books. Audible is the UK’s largest provider of digital audiobooks, with more than 100,000 titles available to download. You can download the app to your PC or Mac, Apple or Android device so can listen at home, or out and about, and  if you download Audible to try, you even get your first listen free.

I thought I’d be able to listen to a book in the kitchen, while preparing dinner, or doing housework but my kids are too nosy. They come in half way through a chapter and demand to be filled in on the story, or have an uncanny knack of appearing just when the language or content gets unsuitable. So I’ve taken to listening on my phone with head phones. During the holidays, this has the added benefit of drowning out the sound of bickering children.

There are also 1000s of children’s books available on Audible and these are extremely useful if you are travelling with your children. Load a  book onto a tablet for then to listen to with headphones or , if you are taking a road trip, then buy an FM radio transmitter so that everyone can listen together through your car radio.

If you have a kindle, and are used to buying book s for 99p, you may get a bit of a shock at the price of Audible books. If you join as a member, and keep an eye out for any special offers then it becomes much more reasonable and you will probably listen to an audio book more slowly than you would read one, so it probably evens out in the end.

And for half an hour peace and quiet a day, during the summer holidays, it’s got to be worth it!



The Gallery: Animals

We have a bit of a Zoo at our house.  We often end up with random kids coming over to meet one of our animals. Everyone seems to have a favourite.

We have 3 cats, 2 dogs, 2 snakes, an elderly  rat and now, our latest addition, a new hamster!

Show type Hamster
DD1 and I went to the garden centre yesterday to look at outdoor furniture and we spotted these lovely big hamsters in the pet shop part of the store. DD2 has had a hamster before, but it was only a Pets At Home variety Syrian, and took a bit of time to tame so it could be handled.

The ones we saw yesterday were Syrians too; the largest species of hamster kept as pets, but at 3 months of age, they were already bigger than our old hamsters. They were also extraordinarily tame and easy to handle and just so cute.

DD and I decided to get her younger sister one as a  combination birthday present/ end of Y6 present/ pet replacement. We got her another boy, and unfortunately had to go to a couple more shops after we’d bought him, so he came with us in a teeny travel case!

DD2 loves him although she took ‘ They don’t bite’ as a guarantee, and got bitten when she tried to wake him for a cuddle. All the other kids have pet envy but I’m not worried as I know it will only last until the cage needs cleaning out.

The dogs haven’t taken the slightest bit of notice but the cats are big fans.

Environmental enrichment for cats
So what has she called him, I hear you ask? His name is Freddy apparently which is fine, but I have to say if I had a hamster, I would call it Batman!

This post has been written for this week’s Gallery, over at Sticky Fingers.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Would You Go Back If You Could?

I’m feeling a bit maudlin this week. This year has flown by, hasn’t it?

DD2 is enjoying her last few days of primary school. Discos, school plays, assemblies and parties instead of lessons and tests.

Y6 disco

I’ve been looking at photos of her starting school, and wondering how much she will change  between now and the end of secondary.

And DD1 has just finished her first year at secondary school.

I worried so much about her going into Y7.  Had we  made the right choice of school? Would she cope with the work? Was the commute going to be too much for her?

It’s all been good. The school is lovely and I feel so lucky that we had it as an option. She’s done really well academically but she has also thrown herself wholeheartedly into all aspects of school life. The commute has been a complete non-issue. I’m anticipating a slightly rockier road with DD2, who is going to the same school, but I remain hopeful that I will be saying similar things about her this time next year.

DD2′s last day at primary isn’t until next Tuesday and while looking at photos of her 7 years ago, I came across this one of her and her sisters on her first day of school.

School starters

DD1 was going into Y1, DD2 was starting reception and DD3 ass about 18 months old but insisted on being in the photo too. I would have been pregnant with DS. Life was mad.

They all look so small, my babies. So cute and dependant on me. These days they are much more independant  and I said goodbye to nappies, daytime naps and buggies a long time ago.

I asked myself if I would go back to those days, if I was miraculously given that chance and decide probably not.  I loved being able to be at home with my kids as babies, toddlers and preschoolers but I really appreciate that they are all at school. I have some me time now.

I’m glad I took loads of photos of them when they were small so I have something to look back on, now life is really complicated, but I’m enjoying my older children at the moment ( most of the time) and never feel broody for the baby days again.

What about you? If you could go back in time to when your children were small, and do it all again. would you?

The Gallery: My View Right Now

Fluffy White Clouds

Well, not right now, right now.

Right now I’m staring at a keyboard and computer screen, which is nothing to photograph or blog about. But on Mondays I take the dogs to agility classes, and before I spend an hour trying to get them to jump hurdles and go through tunnels, I always take them for a walk on this common.

It’s got fantastic light, even when it’s wet and muddy, as it was most of this winter.

But when the sun is shining and the clouds are fluffy, it’s something else entirely; the sky always looks huge when I’m walking here. Amd best of all, I very rarely see anyone else so I get to indulge my loner tendencies too.

This post is in response to this week’s Gallery theme. To check out other People’s Views , then pop over on to Sticky Fingers.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Sore Neck Paranoia

Despite my children never having been seriously ill, I am overly anxious about my children’s health and safety.

Look at this photo of  DS when he was two. You probably just see a small sleeping boy, with his foot on a Thomas plate. Maybe you might notice he looks a bit flushed? I look at that photo and remember he had a temperature of  39.something, wouldn’t eat and kept falling asleep. I woke him up every 90 minutes for a couple of days,  to make sure he wasn’t in a coma!

sleeping ill boy
Of course it was just a virus, and he was much better after a couple of days.

Every time my children are sick, or have a fever, I worry about brain tumours or meningitis. And part of me is always slightly on edge when my kids are not home with me. Our school is around the corner from our house and if I ever hear sirens coming from that direction, I have an internal freak out.

I think the irrational side of me thinks that if I worry about it, then it won’t happen. Of course I know this simply isn’t true; life isn’t fair and shit happens to families no matter how much they have someone fretting over what may or may not happen. I tell myself that at least I worry quietly; I don’t fuss around the kids when they are sick and I never stop them from going out and living life. I know that I am overreacting but I just can’t seem to help it.

Take this morning. DS got up slowly today, he’s really tired , and took far too long in the bathroom. When he appeared with his toothbrush, he told me that his neck really hurt. The Paranoid Mother in my head screamed ‘MENINGITIS!’ at me and I immediately started checking him for rashes.

He didn’t have a temperature and his skin was blemish free so I started getting him to turn his neck to each side, and to look up and down. He complained it hurt everywhere, but more on his right hand side.  I poked and prodded a bit; could I feel a lump, I wondered? Should I take him to the doctor? A and E? I found myself wondering if a sore neck was an emergency? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing …

Finally, I asked him if he’d done anything yesterday where he could remember hurting his neck and straight away he said yes. Apparently they were playing with hula hoops in school yesterday and they had been trying to get them rotating around their necks! Yep, that would do it!

So I’ve put his sore neck down to Hula Hoop mismanagement and packed him off to school suggesting he gives the rhythmic gymnastics a miss for today. I’ve also insisted that my Paranoid Mother has a little nap today; the kids will be home for the weekend in a few hours and no doubt she’ll be needed at some point.




Today Is Our Wedding Anniversary

14 years ago today, DH and I got married at Westminster Registry Office. It wasn’t a particularly nice day weather wise; I definitely remember some rain, but otherwise it was perfect. If I had to do it all again, the only things I’d change would be to make sure someone actually videoed the ceremony this time and to not be quite so relaxed about the guest list.

We didn’t have a lot of money, and wanted to spend most of what we had on the honeymoon, so we decided to have an informal reception close to the Registry Office. After the ceremony the small crowd of people who had gathered to watch DH and I say ‘I do’ traipsed down the Marylebone Road, past the tourists lined up outside Madam Tussauds and around the corner to a City bar that had agreed to close to the General Public for the afternoon/ evening, provided we ate and drank there. I’m pretty sure they made on the deal.

DH and I didn’t make it to midnight. A non drinking friend dropped us home to our basement flat around 11pm, where instead of getting an early night in anticipation of an early start for our honeymoon the next day, we thought it would be a good idea to unwrap all the presents we’d been given, without making a list of who gave us what. It took us years to work out who gave us some of those gifts!

And here we are 14 years, 4 house and 4 kids later; still married. I’m not going to come over all romantic here, as it’s not always been easy. We’ve had a lot of good times but some of it has been bloody hard work. Most marriages are, I think. Compromise is essential.

We are just getting over 12 years of chronic sleep deprivation and although the kids are becoming more independent, some things are tricker.

The differences in our parenting styles continue to appear and a fair bit of communication is necessary to make sure we are singing from the same book, let alone the same page. We don’t take enough time for ourselves; when you have four children, babysitters are difficult to retain. And life is so busy, DH and I seem to always come last.

It won’t be forever though, will it?

I would have completely forgotten about today if it wasn’t for Google calendar. But thanks to technology, DH gets a card and some small presents. We don’t make a big deal about it but it is nice to  make an effort to mark the occasion, even if we just take the time to eat something nice for dinner and remind each other why we chose to get married all those years ago.

Happy Anniversary to us. Wow, we look so young.

wedding photo