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

The Silence Of The Frogs

One of the things you learn to put up with when you have cats is the prey.

Cats are natural predators; they like to catch things , then bring them inside to show you how clever they are. Basically cats consider their owners to be in need of a little hunting practice, so they often maim their victims a bit before presenting it to you and they expect you to finish it off. And if you aren’t home when they bring their spoils through the cat flap, your cat will probably go for the kill itself, then gut or disembowel the poor beast on your kitchen floor.

If you really can’t handle the thought of your pet bring wildlife inside, or taking another creature’s life, then you should consider having a housecat rather than a free-ranging feline.

When you get a new kitten, you have very little idea what kind of hunter your cat will be. There can be some clues; females are often better hunters than males and if the kitten’s mother was a good hunter, and the kittens stayed with her until at least 9 weeks, chances are high your new pet will have gotten some tips from her.

So, some cats grow up to be very efficient hunters, and routinely slaughter dozens of birds and rodents every year. Some just aren’t interested, apart from the odd leaf,  and a few cats ( usually orientals) direct their activity to seemingly inappropriate items such as socks and underwear. And yet others set their sights  low and treat their owners to a stream of insect and frog- shaped presents.

Our cats ( previously referred to as our kittens) fall neatly into this last category. They are frog hunters extraordinaire. Almost every day for the last month or two, they have brought in a frog or two, or three.

They don’t seem to be interested in birds, although we have had one, plus a wing and a load of single feathers, and we’ve had no sign of rodents. Maybe it’s because they are used to rats and hamsters in cages?

But pretty much every time we walk into the house, we find one of these in the lounge.

House frog

Mostly, they are belly up and legs akimbo, but if you pick them up they curl up as small as possible. Most of them are unhurt and I have a special mossy spot out the front where I place them to recover so I’m pretty sure that we are not going to wipe out the area’s entire frog population.

This one actually recovered a bit too quickly and hopped under the sofa before I could rescue it. It was fished out later in the evening by Ginger Cat, and bashed about a bit before I realised what was going on. Hence the cat fur and carpet fibres. I was relieved as I didn’t really fancy having a house-frog.

And of course they aren’t always silent. Some of them scream! I do feel sorry for the poor creatures but prefer the cats bring frogs into the house, rather than birds or mice. And the kids are now excellent frog handlers, which is always a useful life skill, isn’t it?

If you have cats, do they hunt? My biggest fear is that our cats will move onto trickier prey in the future. One of our previous cats used to bring in pigeons and those have a LOT of feathers!





We Need A New Car. Maybe.

Say hello to our present car.

Toyota Previa
It’s a 55 Reg Toyota Previa and we love it. It’s got everything we need, whether we are taxiing kids around town or road tripping around Europe, and up until now the ‘Bus’, as we call it, has been pretty reliable.

It’s usually filthy of course; we have two dogs and four kids, and it’s not cleaned or hoovered nearly often enough. But it’s been a great family car.

However, it’s now 9 years old and it’s getting a bit old. Parts are started to need replacing, there has been the odd weird rattle  and we can tell it’s getting a bit tired. Neither DH or I are mechanically minded, and we only have one car, so it’s important that we have a vehicle that isn’t at the mechanics every couple of weeks.

We like to take road trips for our summer holidays and this year plan to drive  to Denmark and Sweden. Last year the Bus got us to Montenegro but we did have a couple of minor incidents where it wouldn’t start or refused to unlock. Being stranded in a foreign country with a misbehaving vehicle is not fun. We did have RAC European cover but you don’t want to have to  be calling them all the time.

So we have been wondering if our Previa is going to behave itself this summer and are now discussing the possibility of a new car.

We know our car is just a machine, but it’s surprisingly easy to get sentimental about them, isn’t it? I actually feel a bit guilty even thinking about looking at new vehicles; like the Bus is an aged relative that we should be caring for in its dotage, rather than selling off because it ‘might’ break down on us.

Ideally, we’d just buy a new Previa. We know they tick all our boxes; but alas, they don’t make Previas in the UK any more, so we need to look at other makes and models.

We have just over a month before we leave on holiday, so I’m all geared up to go out and drive cars.  Our wish list is enough room for at least 6 adults, a decent amount of boot space when all seats are occupied, sliding rear doors, some parking assistance ( rear backing camera preferred) and an in-car SatNav ( negotiable). We are not looking for a new car, but something that is 1-2 years old.

We need some help, otherwise I’m going to throw my hands in the air and put this task in the ‘too hard’ pile and we’ll just take the Bus on holiday with us instead. It’s no drama, unless it all goes wrong, of course.

Does anyone out there drive an MPV that they would recommend I test drive? Any helpful comments below would be very much appreciated.