Thursday, 26 January 2012

Enforced Stopping

It's been a while...

We've been really fortunate with the absence of illness recently.  I'm hoping it's a benefit of having had every known bug known to man in the first few years of my parenthood.  Maybe, now we're not so sleep deprived, we don't have to incubate every illness we come across.  That's an encouraging thought.

It couldn't last forever though.  The night before last, I awoke to a vague whimpering sound.  As I came to - it was apparent that Nathan had also recently woken up.  Poor chap had woken up lying in his own vomit.  His main concern was being so cold.

So - saving you any more unpleasant details - the rest of the night was no fun.  Suffice to say - little sleep was had, and much laundry was created.

Nathan's school has a policy that following this sort of bug, you can't go back until you've been vomit free for 48 hours.  All fair enough.  Yesterday Nathan was not too bad, but today he's pretty much back to normal.  He's downstairs playing with some toys as I type.

And actually I'm grateful.  Here I am - having to be at home - doing enforced stopping.  (I'm also grateful that my children are now old enough to at least attempt aiming their vomit into an appropriate receptacle - although I did promise no more unpleasant details...)

Don't get me wrong, I've spent a lot of time doing housework, and other jobs.  However, I've also been building marble runs, playing dominoes, driving cars, being read stories (Nathan very rarely lets anyone read to him at the moment, but he does like an audience for his reading...) and sitting with him on the sofa.  Nathan is a very companionable chap.

So I'm not rushing off to do x, y and z today.  I'm off to chill out with the boy xx

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas Message

To all our friends and family both near and far

A bit of Christmas joy:

We wish you all a blessed Christmas, and a very Happy New Year

Gill, Paul, Joel and Nathan xxxx

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Broadening your Education

On the way to school each morning we tend to listen to Radio 2.  One of the reasons for this is that it coincides with when Chris Evans plays his 'Super 70s Smasher'; a tune (unsurprisingly) from the 1970s.  This morning it was the Rolling Stones.  A crucial part of this feature - at least as far as my kids are concerned - is the competitive element: you have to try and name the year when the song was released.  Every day we guess - after all, these songs came out before I was born, let alone the boys - and we've been keeping a tally for weeks now of how many each of us have got right.  Joel is thrilled that he has been right more times than I have...  It's always a trauma if Chris forgets to tell us the year though; I have to go home and ask Mr Google...

It got me thinking again about how important it is to teach your children things they may well never learn about in school.  I've mentioned before how Jimi Hendrix has saved our school run.  I'm disproportionately proud when Joel can name the band he's listening to...  I mean - I know it's not going to save any lives or anything - but it pleases me that he can recognise Stevie Wonder or the Jackson Five.

I'm thinking about making the boys an album of seminal tracks.  Music that all kids everywhere should grow up with as part of their DNA.  But where to begin...  I know I could make an epically long play list - but I don't want to do that.  If you were making a CD, and had maybe 15 tracks as your limit - what would you put on it?  What song is so important that you would put it on there?

Thinking back to my own childhood music recipe; I mostly remember Eric Clapton, Abba, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles and Carole King. My Dad used to pilfer guitar riffs from all over the place though when he led worship at our church. It was only relatively recently that I discovered the opening chord sequence he used for a song called 'Rejoice, Rejoice' was actually from 'Substitute'by The Who...   I suppose it was one way of broadening our musical education!

So what would be on your list?  The Beatles?  The Rolling Stones?  U2?  Mozart??? 

I may be some time...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Questions people ask...

When you enter the 'both children at school' phase of life, people ask you some marvellous questions... 

"What do you do all day?" (Probably the most common - I'm not going to rant - but it's safe to say; I'm not just sat on my rear watching Daytime TV...)

"When are you going back to work?"  Because combining shift work with the school run is just so much fun...

But my personal favourite:

"Are you going to have another baby?"


I have to get over my initial urge to just laugh maniacally.  No, I'm not.  If I was going to do that - I would have done it already; not waited until I had a bit of spare time - and then filled it with morning sickness, more stretch marks and additional sleep deprivation... 

Any of you who have ever read my blog know that I love my children a lot; after all - I talk about them enough.  They are marvellous, brilliant, funny, bright, insightful, *insert additional superlatives here* But I still don't want another one.

One of my good friends is pregnant at the moment with her second baby, and she's really struggling with her pelvis.  I had some pelvic problems; particularly in my second pregnancy; so empathy is not a problem.  Watching her struggle to move around, I can almost feel that pain again.  I know that, even amidst her pain, she is not regretting being pregnant.  I'm glad that I'm a bit more available to help; having kids at school does release you a bit to do other things - even if that is to help others with their babies...

So, dear reader - I am quitting whilst I'm ahead.
And if I ever feel the need to cuddle a baby - I'm sure I'll be able to find one...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Harvest Festivals - the Trilogy

This morning I went to my third and final Harvest Festival of the year.  Once your children get to school, you don't do these things once - oh no...  once is for wimps!

The first of these was Joel's.  Years one and two in school trek off to the local parish church; sing some songs, and listen to a chat from the vicar there.  All good fun.  I particularly enjoyed not having a squirming toddler on my knee.  In years gone by, I have been the parent chasing a wiggly and noisy toddler about whilst everyone else is trying to hear their pride and joy say their one line in the school production.  It was nice to not have to think about taking enough toys / snacks / nappies to get through thirty minutes, plus the always-longer-than-you-think waiting for something to actually happen time.  I also particularly enjoyed the kids singing 'Cauliflowers fluffy'; with additional dance moves.  Marvellous.

The second Harvest Festival was actually a harvest / thanksgiving / 1st birthday service at our church (how's that for multi-tasking?!)  Our congregation have been meeting in the local primary school for a year now.  It was a good chance to celebrate all that has happened over the last year; and to thank God for all He has given us individually and corporately.  We did this through the medium of huge ice-cream Sundaes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, singing, bacon sandwiches and prayers of thanks chalked on the playground. We have learnt a lot over the past year, and look forward to what God has for us in the years to come.  I'm sure God would have us dream big dreams for our future together; after all, as Bill Hybels would say: "The local church is the hope of the world". 

My third and final part of my Harvest Festival trilogy was this morning.  The Nursery and Reception age children aren't traipsed down to the church - they do their celebrating in the school Hall.  They all came in wearing headbands with certain vegetable pictures attached; Nathan was a cabbage...  They told us the story of Oliver's Vegetables; where a small boy searches his Grandad's vegetable patch in the hope of finding some potatoes to make some chips; in the process, he finds lots of other vegetables, which of course turn out to be very tasty...  My favourite part of the proceedings had to be the rousing rendition of 'Big Red Combine-Harvester'.  They were brilliant.

So what have I learnt from my Harvest Trilogy?  Well, I've certainly learnt that it's hard to pick songs that are perky tunes, fun for the kids and that actually thank God for the amazing things he gives us.  What's your favourite harvest song?  My personal favourite is probably 'Blackberries in the Hedges', but no-one around here seems to know that one...

Also, and I know this makes me sound old, but there is always something to be thankful for.  I think whether it's the joy on a child's face as he sings, the fact that you don't have to worry about wiggly toddlers, or something bigger like the sun and the rain that help things grow.  God has given us so many things, and I think it does our perspective and mental health endless good to be grateful.  Life might not always be easy (I know, no surprises there) and I'm not advocating pretending life is all shiny when it isn't; however, I know I'm more likely to be content if I focus on the multiple blessings from my heavenly Father than on the things that bug me, or that I don't have.

Today, try to cultivate (ooh, appropriate gardening term alert... pleasing!) an Attitude of Gratitude.  What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

School runs, 'the wall' and Jimi Hendrix

This Sunday one of my friends from church ran the Berlin Marathon.  I know, crazy chap.  Aaron ran the Marathon, because he wanted to - but also to raise money to support Christians Against Poverty; a marvellous charity helping people out of poverty - but also helping people avoid getting into debt in the first place.  There's still time to sponsor him if you like; just go to his Just Giving page.

I haven't seen Aaron yet since Sunday, so I don't know how it all went.  I was thinking about him this morning, and wondering if he had hit 'the wall'.  The metaphorical wall (after all, I'm hoping he managed not to run into any real ones...) when your legs turn to jelly, and you just feel like you can't go on...

I wondered this, because this morning - Nathan hit 'the wall'...

I kind of expected that this would happen at some point.  The novelty of going to school has worn off now; but it hasn't quite yet been replaced by the stamina required to make it through without tears.  He was properly tired this morning, and sad. 

"Can I stay at home with you, Mummy?"  "The day is too long..."  "Will you come in with me?" *generalised sobs*

He even tried to bargain with me, and ask if I would pick him up at lunch time.  If he can negotiate like that whilst crying and only four - hopefully he'll have the Middle East peace process all sorted by the time he is ten.

I gently cajoled him through the process of getting ready for school.  Breakfasted, dressed, clean(ish) and ready, he sat in the car - still crying - until the radio came on.  Thank heaven for Jimi Hendrix...

After a couple of bars of the opening guitar riff, the tears were forgotten.  Well - at least till we got to school.  Bless him; nothing soothes the pain of school like a bit of awesome guitar. 

He went into school, a bit sad again - but not as sad as he could have been.  I've promised him fish fingers for tea, in honour of his perseverance.  I think I might be cooking favourite teas all week actually.

So - what do you do when you hit the wall?  Just keep running.  That and listening to some Hendrix anyway.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

School days

So it finally happened...

I remember, back in the haze of exhaustion of looking after a toddler and a baby, I foolishly calculated how long it would be before my boys were both at school.  It was a long time away; I must have been crazy to even think about it at the time.  I think sleep deprivation makes you go a bit bonkers.  Don't get me wrong, I love both my kids very much; but during the relentlessness that is parenthood with tiny ones, I briefly looked forward to the halcyon day when someone else would be responsible for them - if only for a portion of the time...

We're now over half way through Nathan's second week at school.  How did that happen?  The baby mentioned above is now a truly handsome four year old.  Astounding.

He's enjoying school.  I know it helps that he's been going to the school each day with Joel for longer than he can remember - in fact when Joel was in Reception, Nathan used to cry each morning because he wasn't allowed in!  Nathan also did his Pre-school year at the School's Nursery; so he's feeling pretty at home.  He knows about half of his class already; so I guess it's just like he moved room for him really.

It's going to take a while to build up the stamina for school though.  They're all a bit tired out by doing five full days.  According to their super-TA, one of them fell asleep yesterday afternoon during their story time.  Ah well, I can think of afternoons when I would happily do the same.

So, to my lovely friends still battling the baby / toddler phase.  It really does go faster than you think.  Enjoy your little ones.  Nathan's still little really; in comparison to Joel (he's 6 going on 36) - who's coming home full of details of the scientific experiments they've been doing, and asking me ever more difficult questions such as "why can't you see gravity?"...

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think...