R and R

Today I have been thinking about relaxing, I know many of us have forgotten what relaxation is thanks to hectic and demanding lives however if you have the opportunity to what would you do to totally relax? 

It occurred to me that different methods are required at different times, for example a cup of tea in a peaceful and nearly silent house on a day off once the boys have gone to school is hugely relaxing on some days but on others putting on some very loud music and singing at the top of my voice actually brings my blood pressure down enough that it totally relaxes me ( I defy anyone to not feel better after screaming ‘rhythmically’ to Beyoncé or Mariah Carey!)

As I have got older relaxation has definitely changed for me, before I had children like so many other non parents I took for granted the time and freedom to do as I pleased. Trip to the cinema, long lay in, night dancing till the small hours, eating out at a lovely restaurant were all things I did and enjoyed but never savoured as much as I do when given the opportunity now. 

I think the older you get the more likely relaxation is to be in the form of something that you love and want to do more of. I love spending time with my friends and can’t think of anything better than a trip to the local spa for a few hours with treatments and then a lunch in town. This sadly though happens only once or twice a year due to children, shift work and ever full diaries and calendars. I would love to know how the Sex and the City girls managed to maintain such social lives through marriage and children! 

The last time the girls and I had a spa day we were drinking prosecco at ten am and I had fallen asleep by five pm but what an amazing day! This was the day I discovered rose and elderflower cordial added to prosecco and quite frankly haven’t looked back since! 

I like to be creative and find all manner of craft activities relaxing, we know how much I love faffing with flowers and making my home pretty and also how much I like to doodle, write and draw. All of these things at certain times have been great stress relievers and for that reason I have a chest of drawers bursting with bits and pieces, pens, nice paper and glitter glue (who doesn’t love glitter glue).

I think though the thing that relaxes me most is time, knowing that I have time to be doing whatever it is I’m doing and ideally it’s doing something I love. Right now my ideal would be sat in the sunshine with a nice view to look out at surrounded by the people I love and lots of laughter and if I had a glass of something nice in my hand that would just round the scene off! 

A cup of tea and a lovely person to drink it with is another, how much I look forward to seeing one of my great friends who although we go to eachothers houses for our children to spend time together and to catch up in general the time we spend chatting over a cuppa I really cherish.

I find that some of the classic relaxation techniques such as a nice bubble bath really don’t work for me, in theory I love the idea but I get too hot, then make the water too cold, then drop my tea in, slip over trying to reach for my magazine and then end up getting out usually to a boy shouting ‘mummy, there is an alien in my bedroom!’ Or at that very moment Karl realises he has lost his drill, angle grinder, socket set, receipt for a parcel, wallet, pen, return slip from online shopping…. I could go on (can you tell that happens a lot?!)

I am reminded of an episode of Friends where Chandler and Ross have been trying to recapture their youth by going out to a club with Joey and find themselves back at Central Perk, 

‘CHANDLER: Y’know what? We’re not sad, we’re not sad, we’re just not 21 anymore. Y’know? I’m 29 years old, damnit! And I want to sit in a comfortable chair, and watch television and go to bed at a reasonable hour!’

Anyway, have a lovely evening and try to relax in whichever way suits you best, I would love to hear your favourites! 

Xx

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Magazines, explosions and squirrels 

Hey all, how are we?

So this weekend has been spent mostly with me resting after my op. My husband has taken some time off work to have the boys and I’ve been lucky enough to have been bought some gorgeous flowers and lots of home magazines.

I have been feeling a bit recently like I’ve wanted to make a few changes in the house (I do this, move rooms around on a whim often) but I wanted to have some inspiration so thought it a perfect time to peruse some mags and have a think about what should go where.

I am a huge fan of solid wooden pieces and I love things to have a history. As you know I love upcycling and am not adverse to repainting something again and again to get the look I want.

So, Saturday morning, we had a lay in, I woke up in lots of pain and decided it was best to rest in bed. My mum came over and we drank tea and I read my magazines between snoozes. My mind was buzzing and full of ideas, digging out the bunting I meant to put up when we moved and haven’t, how lovely would it be to refurbish an old Ercol armchair for my sunny window, making shelves out of old drawers lined with wallpaper for the boys room etc.

I love reading about the stories behind people’s homes, who they live with, what their tastes are and about some of the treasured items they have in their home. I admire the women so nicely dressed and surrounded by beautiful things and hope that one day one of my favourite magazines might just include my home.

Anyway Sarurday afternoon Nate refused to go to his Art Class which was a real shame as he is amazing at it and always comes home with some lovely work. His teacher Linda runs Bridge House Arts in Whitstable and is not only extremely talented but has a way of harnessing Nate’s imagination so he can put his ideas down using paint and pastels. So Karl took both boys to the supermarket. This was never going to end well as my children and the supermarket are like trying to make oil and water mix. It never works and just makes a massive mess.

I fell asleep at about seven pm with the boys in bed next to me. Karl made dinner, woke me up, we ate, the boys went to bed and I watched Adele at Glastonbury (amazing) before going to sleep again.

Yesterday Karl took the boys to church and I stayed in bed. I managed to sleep for a couple of hours but the pain for really bad so I woke up for some tablets. At this point I thought I could carry on with some of my magazines but first I needed tea. I got up and walked to the kitchen, I blinked in the light of day, my home looks like a bomb has hit it. A bomb of boys! Toys, scooters, socks, pencils, paper, Lego, playmobil, dinosaurs and all manner of other stuff are laying all over every piece of floor I can see and I make my tea around the carnage before getting back into bed.

An hour or so later I realise that I need to shower so make myself get up, the bathroom had been used as some sort of laboratory and the boys had left cereal bowls full of various coloured potions made mostly with my expensive toiletries on every surface in the bathroom. Again I just carry on, I shower and dress all the while thinking about all the lovely things I am planning for the house when I’m feeling better.

My parents as you know live only a few doors down and very kindly they offered to cook dinner yesterday. Karl came to collect me and said that I could lay on the sofa if I needed to while I was there. As we pulled into my mums drive karl also mentioned seeing a squirrel earlier in the day that appeared to be injured. Sure enough as we drove down I saw quite a large and obviously injured grey squirrel laying at the side of the driveway looking quite worse for wear.

We parked at mums and got out of the car, I felt dizzy as I walked down to the squirrel and by this point the boys had come out of my mums and offered their unique kind of assistance with rescuing said poorly squirrel. As I got closer I saw that Karl had managed to scoop up Mr Squirrel and had him laying in his hands. Now this next part is a bit of a blur, Leo lunged forwards slightly and the squirrel got spooked, Karl made a strange high pitched noise and there was blood pouring out of his hand onto the driveway. Yes you guessed it the squirrel had bitten Karl.

So a tetanus jab, a prescription for antibiotics later and dressing a sizeable squirrel bite I sat down again. Only my husband could manage to get mauled by a squirrel in the middle of his nursemaid duties!

Today he is sore and feeling sorry for himself, I am on the sofa still surrounded by explosions of the mess variety but thinking about how lovely the house is when nice and tidy and wondering what Ideal Home Magazine would think if they turned up now!

Happy Monday! Xx

 

Under pressure

Hey all and a happy weekend to you!

I’m on bed rest this weekend after a little hospital stay (all planned) so have had the luxury of a morning to my thoughts and a bit of Penguins of Madagascar with the boys. I realise it’s only about 0830 hours but for us mums that’s an amazing lay in! 

This week has been very busy and full of emails, Facebook posts and letters asking for things. I am a helper, a doer and I will help whenever I can however I’m starting to feel a little downhearted at the amount of things I can’t do due to time, work and other commitments.

Nate and Leo go to an amazing Infant School which is full of diverse children and families from all walks of life. We in Whitstable have an eclectic mix of people some born here, some who have left London from the quiet and sea air and some from all over this country and others in our lovely world.

The school has a very active parents association and encourage assistance from parents in things such as school trips, weekly swimming lessons, helping with gardening etc. I’m all for this, infact I love the thought that I am making a positive contribution to the environment my children learn in and getting to know other parents and making friends as a part of it.

Sounds amazing doesn’t it, in theory yes but in practice I’m the one always having to say ‘I’m so sorry I’m working that day’ or ‘that’s my only day off this week and I’m mentoring, cleaning, doing the shopping, seeing a friend I’ve had to neglect for weeks’, you get the drift! 

Then comes the guilt, one of the few afternoons when you can actually get to the school for pick up and you are sure you are being judged, I smile, I say hi but I feel deep down like I’m being judged for not baking any cakes for the summer fair bake off and not being able to volunteer to man the face painting stall because I’m working or not having remembered that today was the meeting I could have got to if I had rushed but I ended up catching up with some paperwork filing and washing up (yes that’s right we don’t have a dishwasher!).

I’m not sure if it was like this for my mum or if it’s a more modern thing. When I was younger I recall quite a few mums were housewives or had little jobs at the supermarket or as a dinner lady. But as we know today women are up there with the high earners and often both sides of the marriage team need to work to make ends meet. 

There are some mums who don’t have to go to work or have the luxury of working from home (I’m aware sometimes this isn’t a luxury, especially if you have little people as helpers!) so can change their timetables around a bit. I sadly don’t have that level of flexibility. I work ten hour shifts and often longer due to overtime that you often don’t know about until the day itself. My husband is the same and as shift workers we have to include nights and weekends as part of our working week.

So when thinking about this week alone when I have missed a parents meeting, had to say no to helping with a school trip next week due to my operation, haven’t been able to volunteer for the summer fair as I’m working earlies and Karl is working nights so my parents have the children, haven’t made any cakes for the bake off and very nearly forgot yesterday was a non uniform day where I had to send a bottle in with each boy for the tombola I realise that actually I am pretty rubbish.

I then however reflected on some of the things we do manage to do. I do about three hours a week of youth mentoring at the local high school, my husband helps with a local football group run by our church once a week, I help with Sunday club, we help with walking one of our sons classes to the swimming pool once a week for the school swimming lessons and I even dead headed some of the sweet peas in the flower bed at school this week to encourage more growth! 

So in my own way I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and I know that we all do what we can in our own ways and how we can. To think there is this much pressure at Infant School I can’t imagine how I will cope with Juniors! 

How many of you are like me and a wants to be helpful but often struggles parent?

Lucy xx

Such a responsibility…..

Hey all, how are we?

I don’t think you can be in England and Wales today without thinking about the referendum. This won’t be a political post I promise (I’m not one to preach my views) however the whole EU referendum has been leaving me feeling somewhat nervous and I haven’t really been able to put my finger on why.

It was only this evening when I was watching the boys bouncing on the trampoline at my mums that I realised its the sense of responsibility. Not only am I voting for me but also for my boys and their future. The world, our country will be where they will grow, live and have their own families and I want it to be the best place it can be for them.

That left me feeling even more nervous, would they question my decisions in the future if I vote in a way that ends up negatively affecting our country? Will I make their financial position harder? Nail biting stuff!

Then I thought, hold on, let’s think about the responsibility I have and have had since the day the two little bundles were handed to me! Karl and I have been responsible for feeding them, clothing them, teaching them, giving them love, kindness and teaching them the lessons our parents taught us. 

When Leo was only two weeks old he was incredibly poorly, he was covered in a dark red rash, he screamed constantly, wasn’t feeding well and kept pooing to the point we were going through more than a packet of nappies a day. His bottom was so sore it was bleeding and I was absolutely beside myself.

We took him over the course of the week to the doctor a number of times only to be told that we were not changing him often enough and that we were responsible for the ‘nappy rash’ he had. On the Saturday morning in tears because he couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep we took him to the hospital. 

He was quickly admitted and diagnosed with a cows milk protein allergy. From the minute I had been feeding him I had been poisoning him. You can imagine the relief at knowing what I had known anyway that there was an issue but also the extreme guilt of knowing that something I had been doing had caused the issue. 

I took responsibility here and did what I thought was best for my son. Karl and I knew that it wasn’t right he just had nappy rash so we persevered and did what we could to make things okay for our little one. 

When Nate our eldest son started reception at a school I was more than happy for him to go to and after not long I realised that not only was it not the right school but actually that Nate wasn’t happy we took responsibility and moved back to our home town of Whitstable where the schools seemed to fit Nate better and he would be happier. This decision was made and executed within two weeks and involved moving into a rental property, renting out our own and saving to buy another property in Whitstable. 

It was hard and costly but it was what was best for our children who are now thriving at an amazing school with fantastic friends and lovely environments.

So after thinking about all this I realised that if we can be responsible for all these massive decisions affecting the future of the two little people we made then putting in a cross in what I feel is the right box actually will be a breeze and I’m quite sure that the boys in the future will know that our decisions were made with their best interests at heart because we take our responsibilities very seriously! 

Right, I’m off to decide what I’m ordering from the Emma Bridgewater sale in the morning (no end to my responsibilities!) 

Lots of love, Lucy xx

Mr Strong

Hey all, happy Sunday and happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.

As some of you know yesterday I took part in the Saxon Shore Relay, a 47 mile route from Folkestone to Whitstable run in a relay with a team of five. It works out you run about a half marathon each.

I’m not in the best shape, I’m larger than last year, having a few health issues (another post for another time) and have a fair number of niggles including a painful knee. The terrain is tough, not a lot in the way of flat until you get to the very end and lots of uneven, muddy, stinging nettle laden hills. When I say hills I mean the kind we runners avoid unless we are doing speed work and even then we aren’t massively keen! 

All this whilst dressed up, this year as Mr Strong from the Mr Men, I had in my lovely team Mr Tickle, Mr Bump, Little Miss Chatterbox and Little Miss Sunshine.

Being completely honest I had spent most of the last week wondering whether I should take part, I know I’m not at my best and am no where near as fast as I was last year but I didn’t want to let anyone down and I remembered how amazing it felt crossing the finish line last year. I decided if I walked some legs it would be fine and at least I would be out there doing it.

It was one of the most gruelling things I have ever done mentally, the route isn’t marked or marshalled and you carry direction cards to assist you with navigation (I felt like I was back doing the Duke of Edinburgh award again). I had the same legs as last year so hoped some familiarity would come back but I still got very confused! 

I had to keep reminding myself that I was pet of a team and I couldn’t just stop, I could do this, am I a woman or a mouse, I did it last year, my boys would be at the finish line, all the while dropping with sweat with aching hamstrings and needing the toilet (I had to stop countless times). At many points we were so behind that I was running on my own so got the strangest looks from groups of foreign tourists as I walked past dressed up like some sort of lunatic! 

The girls were all not feeling as physically fit as last year and we were all a bit down at being so behind, last year I recall running some of my legs with a man dressed as a Dalmatian and another as a painter and decorator but we all said as long as we’ve done it that’s all that matters.

We came to the end, the last leg being mine, it was only 1.6 miles but I honestly felt like it was a marathon ahead of me, my sister in law Anna ran the last leg with me for some support and the rest of the team met us just before the finish line so we could all come in together. 

As we neared the finish line I could see my Karl, my boys and smiling faces, somehow holding the baton I managed a sprint and crossed the finish line with skin so red I resembled a tomato and literally struggling to breathe! 

After all that, the struggle, the laughs, the pain, the mud, the stinging nettles we expected the wooden spoon so you could have knocked me down with a feather when we were awarded the prize for being the fastest female team!

Just shows, in reality what we believe about ourselves often isn’t true and actually even in a bit of a state you can surprise yourself!

Lots of love xx 

Mistakes made by Mum

Happy Friday to you all! 

I made that typical mum mistake last night of overestimating my abilities. I decided that because I am off work today and merely had to get up this morning and to get myself and the boys ready and them to school I didn’t need to go to bed at a decent hour I could stay up last night and catch up on Versailles, if you haven’t seen, it’s one of those period dramas on BBC 2 a bit like the Tudors with wonderful costumes and lots of debauchary. 

I did of course fall asleep on the sofa way before the end of one of the episodes and woke up in total darkness, the television long having switched itself off, curtains still open with a stiff neck and a large cat sat on my chest. 

I did the zombie like walk into bed after shutting the curtains and tripping over the boys swimming bag in the hallway (did I put the damp swimming things in the airing cupboard, of course not!) and forgot to set an alarm.

Fast forward to 0700 hours one hour after my usual getting up time on a school day when I’m not working. I not only realise I hadn’t set an alarm but also that the boys are both still asleep. I have messages on my phone from last night that I haven’t read and a message from my husband who is on nights to say he is running late and won’t be home anytime soon. 

I panicked, surely the best thing to do is to jump up, have a quick shower, sort the boys milk and breakfast and then run their sinks for a wash? No instead I faff about looking on Instagram, reply to my messages, send some other messages and then look at the clock, 0725, oh dear. 

Cue sleepy boys wandering in shouting ‘where’s the milk’ ‘where’s the breakfast’ like a pair of starving baby birds who have to rely on their parents to provide all substinence for them (they are 4 and 6, they know how to pour milk and cereal) anyway…. I get up, sort the milk and breakfast, shove down some shreddies and leave them in front of Horrible Histories Gory Games on the Iplayer which they love because it involves a challenge of children having to clear Henry the VIII’s chamber pot (got to love boys) and I jump in the shower. 

While I am in the shower for a grand total of seven minutes I have to mediate two arguments, one about a spoon and the other about what the middle name of the rat in Horrible Histories is (any ideas?) I get out of the shower and run the first sink for a boy to get washed and place their uniforms and clean underwear on the sofa so they can dress themselves while I get myself ready (today I want to at least wear mascara to make me look less zombie from the walking dead and more mum who can hold her stuff together). 

Of course this doesn’t happen, I shout myself hoarse saying things like ‘Leo if you put your fingers in your brothers ear again there will be trouble’ and ‘Nate I don’t mind you playing the keyboard but please turn it down’. 

School starts at 0845 and we have to leave with enough time to get through the traffic, find somewhere to park (if you live in Whitstable you know what I mean) and then walk to the school. 

Leo refused to wash, to get dressed, to put his socks on, to brush his teeth, to put his shoes on and to wear his school jumper. At 0820 he wasn’t even dressed. Nate however was ready, teeth brushed, shoes on and giving me looks of sympathy at how stressed I was getting. That’s when you know things are bad when you receive empathy from a 6 year old. 

By the time we had parked Leo was refusing to get out of the car so I ended up doing what can only be described as a comedy sketch type action of running between the two sides of the car trying to get him out of the door as he laughed and moved to the other side. Eventually he got out but then refused to walk so poor Nate ended up carrying all the bags and jumpers as I half carried, half dragged his brother up the high street and into school.

I then informed Leo that I needed to explain to his teacher about his behaviour, needless to say Leo did not want this so tried to stop me from getting anywhere near the teacher by rugby tackling my legs. With tears welling in my eyes I explained to his lovely and extremely understanding teacher about the morning we had been having and looked down at Leo who had chocolate cereal round his mouth and hair that resembled something like stig of the dump.

As I left the school with no boys, literally dripping in sweat after the physical exertion of towing a four year old boy with the figure of a little rugby player I took an incredibly deep breath and thought, if only I had gone to bed at a decent time last night! 

Oh well only four hours and counting until pick up and we can do it all again in reverse! How I love a rest day! Xx

Let’s hear it for the girls

Hey all,

I’ve had a bit of a week, you may have guessed from my last post but as I come to the end of my working week and reflect on bits and pieces that have gone on it made me think about how amazing us women are.

Don’t get me wrong men are fantastic too but so many of my female friends have been through so much this year I feel like it needs some recognition.

Yesterday a very dear friend confided in me that she was at the end of her tether, she is one of the most amazing women I know, a real inspiration to all of her friends as a friend, mother and all round wonderful person but currently she is doing too much and is making herself tired and poorly because she is not putting herself first. 

We had a chat, she moaned, I listened and we laughed. She felt better having had a venting space and I felt better knowing that I had helped. Today I put a card on her desk which I felt summed up her week.

Women are so often guilty of putting themselves under so much pressure that they end up feeling like they are letting others around them down and that really isn’t the case.
Two very close friends have had hysterectomies in the last year and have been terribly poorly leading up to the major operations and have still worked, ran a home, been amazing mothers and kept smiling.

Another best friend is bringing up four children on her own, the children are all clever and well behaved, she always looks immaculate and her home is not only beautiful but clean and tidy. I can’t manage that with only two children in tow! 

My mum amazes me daily, I honestly don’t know how she managed when I was growing up with a husband who worked away, my older sister having severe learning disabilities and a pretentious me in tow and yet I recall her being patient, fun and still level headed at the end of a long day.

My sister is amazing too, her name is Emma, she is five years older than me. She has grown up with severe learning and physical disabilities, she has watched her younger sister meet boys, go out to nightclubs, get married and have children . All things she would desperately want for her own future but knows she will likely never have (not the nightclub bit, she goes out more than me nowadays!) she is an amazing Auntie, she is fun loving, caring and the boys adore her. I hope that she realises. 

Someone called me handsome this week And I got incredibly offended, what woman wants to be called handsome?! Beautiful, pretty, attractive maybe but handsome?! I think I may have shown my distaste a bit too much which prompted the need to inform me of what a handsome woman is, the definition is:

A woman with the kind of refined beauty and attractiveness that requires poise, dignity, and strength of mind and character, things that often come with age; not merely sex-appeal. Usually applied to a woman who is also very well-groomed.

This phrase is very dated and rarely used in today’s English. Those who don’t understand the term could almost be insulted by the word “handsome” being applied to a woman, mistakenly thinking you’re saying she is masculine.

“What a handsome woman she has become; she carries herself so well”.

This you can imagine made me smile massively and I saw the compliment as it was intended, that in turn made me think…. How many handsome women do you know? I’m very lucky to know lots!