Life goals for 2016

small steps over timeI just read a post over on Californian Mum in London about not bothering with New Year’s Resolutions and to be honest, I never have bothered before – I completely agree that most of the time our goals are too lofty and we’re just setting ourselves up for a fall.

However for the first time I kind of get why we have them, why we start new stuff come January. December is such a hectic month and let’s be frank, the run up to Christmas starts so early these days that the last third of our year seems to be spent frantically preparing for the celebrations to the detriment of all else. No wonder the beginning of January not only feels like the calm after the storm but also a time when we are suddenly able to re-focus on ourselves a bit. There’s definitely a reason why a lot of people started up their blogs in January (not me – I started mine in July – I guess I’m just odd!).

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The best of 2015

I always like to do an end of year round up – for myself as much as anything, even if I get no readers and zero comments this post will exist in perpetuity to remind me of the good things I have experienced in life and that we have experienced as a family.

So without further ado:

January:

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I took JJ to the panto in Woking for the second year running with my friend Clair and her son. I still felt that EJ was just a bit too young for the experience and I’m kind of regretting that we haven’t booked panto for this year now because I think he would have enjoyed it. Maybe a last minute booking? Anyway, we saw Justin Fletcher (AKA Mr Tumble) playing Wishy Washy in Aladdin and it was a fun afternoon out.

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A Christmas awakening

PeaceonEarth

I recently read a post by a blogger who’s writing I absolutely adore and always return to – Jenny of Unremarkable Files is funny and clever with her writing and always open about the craziness of the parenting experience without diminishing the sense that she gets great joy from family life.

What makes Unremarkable Files even more remarkable to me though is the fact that Jenny’s life and experiences differ from mine in three fundamental ways: firstly, she is American (admittedly as cultures we share a lot so that’s not major); secondly she is a mother of five (soon to be six) and thrives as the centre of a big family (I’m very happy to stick with two!); and thirdly and most significantly, she is a Mormon and the faith is clearly a significant part of her life.

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A review of Squires Badshot Lea Ice Grotto ADVENT-ture

Elf with clue

Ever since having children I have been a big fan of our local garden centre. I would go as far as to say that I could probably count the number of times I visited a garden centre before children on two hands. However, as any desperate parent of demanding munchkins will know, any venue which provides the combination of coffee/café, live pets, and in the case of Badshot Lea, an outdoor play area and Cbeebies on telly (!!) is a venue which will become a regular part of your world very quickly. I even go there on my own sometimes to browse the scented candles and Katie Alice cookware in peace, but I digress.

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Ordinary moments: blackberry picking

Blackberry haulThis is actually an exciting moment for me – I feel like it has been forever since I wrote a new post for the blog and even though I managed to get “The Truth about…” linky up last Tuesday I didn’t even link a post to it myself because I didn’t have time to write one. I guess that’s the thing about the summer holidays – even though you don’t think much will change (particularly when you continue to stay mostly within your normal working pattern) the whole space-time continuum seems to just shift a little and every bit of spare time is sucked into this vacuum filled with days out, family, friends, picnics, playgrounds, birthdays, ad infinitum. All of that is lovely but the extra time with the two of my boys together can definitely add up to feeling like I am on full time mum duty. Bedtimes have crept later and later into the evening and I feel so much more tired by the end of each day that all I want to do is watch some entertaining TV programme and then fall into bed.

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The Lido

Lazy Lido days

Where we live there is a Lido located literally five minutes’ walk away, down next to our local recreation ground. Obviously it is only open over the summer months and in recent years we haven’t made the most of it due to a number of factors: weather, age of children, cost. However this year, in a drive to keep the venue economically viable the price drops by half after 3.30pm in the afternoon, which means after school visits are back on the agenda (£5.65 for me and the boys as under threes go free).

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The lavender farm mob

Lavender - JJ walking

Last year I was overwhelmed with the number of bloggers who managed to find that magical venue in July – the lavender fields; a place where the sun always shines, the scent is heady, the gentle hum and buzz of bees that have been spoilt for choice is the soundtrack and the children can run free creating the ideal opportunity for some amazing photo memories.

During the week I discussed the phenomenon with a work colleague who happened to mention a place he has often driven past on the road from Selbourne to Alton in Hampshire. He mentioned driving past a sea of purples in high summer – a spectacle in an otherwise mundane series of roadside views through bog standard farmland.

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Easter round up

It’s been a busy Easter weekend for us and despite a lot of in between bits where I spent an exhaustingly drawn out period of time listening to JJ ask me “what can we do now?”, here are some of the more fun things we got up to:

On Easter Saturday we went to Osterley House and Park for one of the National Trust/Caburys Easter Egg Trails (and yes I realised I have spawned a miniature Bob the Builder here):

Boys Osterley Easter Egg Hunt 3

Boys Osterley Easter Egg Hunt 2

Boys Osterley Easter Egg Hunt 1

Then on Easter Sunday came a little Easter Egg hunt at my mum & dad’s house:

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First World Problems for Spring

Daylight savings This is it – April has sprung bringing light and colour with it but in between skipping through the daffodils, do you ever ponder those niggly little things that always crop up without fail at this time of year?   Firstly : Daylight Savings/British Summertime. Oh I know it’s lovely to get that extra hour of daylight, but since having kids it has come to my attention that any kind of time change* brings with it a few sleep issues. To be fair leaping forward is preferable to leaping back – if the kids are going to go to bed at their normal time and wake up at their normal time, say, 7am, then it’s a lot more acceptable that 7am is now 8am. The worst thing about Daylight Savings is that reminder that, come October, this will all happen in reverse and 7am will become 6am (or, for those really unlucky mummies and daddies with proper early risers, 5.30am becomes 4.30am – no, no, no, no, no, no!). All I can say is, enjoy losing this hour – one hour lost is one extra hour you won’t have to clean, feed and entertain your little darlings while propping your eyelids up with matchsticks.   Secondly: as one of my work colleagues pointed out recently – clothes shopping becomes a bit of a nightmare. As the temperature fluctuates wildly you are left hovering between sandals, Uggs and wellies, lightweight jackets and fleecelined water-proofs. Personally I’m sticking to woollie jumpers until the mercury hits at least 17 degrees centigrade.   Finally: The big Easter Egg fiasco. What other time of year is it acceptable to gift your children with their own body weight in chocolate? It seems that it’s a case of the more eggs the better the childhood, but as a parent? It’s ruddy difficult knowing just how you approach the doling out of the treats so generously endowed by the Easter bunny – do you let them eat their way through the lot in one long afternoon sitting thereby ruling out the need for any other meals that day (and ensuring a sugar meltdown come 6pm)? Or do you ration it out bit by bit from now til June? I’m in the latter camp but sometimes I get really bored of the clamour every time I so much as glance at the goodie cupboard – and we’ve still got chocolate coins hanging around from Christmas. *sigh*   But hey! Let’s all just celebrate the fact that we don’t have to fork out for soft play for at least the next six months – amen to that!   * To be honest this is the only kind of time shift we’ve experienced as that trip to Hawaii might just have been put on the back burner…

The List

Ice – a piece of flash fiction

This week’s prompt from Sara over at Mum turned Mom is the word “Winter”. I think I have made my feelings on winter pretty clear up to now. I’m not much of a winter person. This time of year in particular is my least favourite. I don’t even really want to talk about it. So instead I have taken up the gauntlet and written another piece of flash fiction. The first piece I wrote was triggered by another of Sara’s prompts: the word ‘Smoke’ so I’ve called this one ‘Ice’. The two stories have some similarities…

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