Me Time.

 

Today I had one of those days where due to a strange alignment of events, I found myself at home alone for 24 hours! Little Man is on cub camp and Mr S has taken Little Miss to see his Dad.  As Grandad is older and frailer now, Mr S only takes one child at a time to visit to make the stay a little easier.  This left me with the glorious prospect of a day alone.  I am never alone and to have a day to myself is such a luxury.  I decided to keep Sunday morning for all the household jobs and Saturday for me.  I chose not to do something big but just simple pleasures, so my day today has included …

  1. Listening to a Podcast and not Capital radio in my car.   Its the little things..
  2. Park Run with no time constraints or pick ups etc.. to think about (and I got a PB)
  3. A shopping trip in big town.  I didn’t buy much but it was just nice to potter.
  4. A few nice nibbles from Marks and Spencers’ food hall for tea.
  5. A good coffee in a café simply thinking and daydreaming.
  6. Treating myself to and appreciating a bunch of peonies.
  7. Reading the Saturday paper in bed because its comfy and indulgent. (the front cover relates to an article on male ballet dancers, in case you’re wondering about the unusual image)
  8. Likewise watching a film in bed in the afternoon (Crazy, Rich Asians, I loved it, a perfect romcom for my mood today)
  9. Enjoying a bubble bath with a relaxing playlist, a magazine, a cup of tea and no interruptions.
  10. Writing some blog posts without the tv being on and just my music.
  11. Planning, organising and writing lists (I love doing this!)

Its been a wonderfully relaxing day and I’ve enjoyed my little pleasures, of course I’m looking forward for our family being back together whilst appreciating my time alone today.

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Disappointment

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Its been a tough week in the Sparkles household.  As much as you try to protect your children and wrap them in a hug of love and support, things happen which we can’t control and there can be disappointments in life.  This happened this week and my heart really broke for my daughter.  My daughter has experienced little disappointments before, not getting an invite to a party, missing an event because of a clash but we’ve always been able to offer a better alternative.

Unfortunately, this week wasn’t so easy as the disappointment centred around the one event that Little Miss and all of Year 6 have been eagerly anticipating all year and excitedly counting down the days, the school residential.  Little Miss is rarely ill, I can count two day’s sickness in all her years at primary school, she’s the pupil with all the 100% attendance certificates and awards yet she suddenly became very poorly on Sunday.  She was hot, clammy, dizzy and exhausted, sleeping from 3pm on Sunday afternoon to 7am on Monday.  As soon as I went in to wake her up, I knew that she wasn’t going to be able to do the residential.  She tried to get up and feigned excitement and enthusiasm in such a weak voice but she couldn’t even sit up in bed and her attempts to get dressed were slow and laboured.  She repeatedly tried to assert she was perfectly well and able to go to the residential, with tears in her voice she pleaded with us to let her go.  It was at this point that Mr S and I had to intervene and say no, it wasn’t fair on her, her friends or her teachers, she cried and I think it very nearly broke our hearts, sometimes making parental decisions is hard.

Monday became a day of cuddles and reassurance at home with the promise that if she slept and then ate some tea and breakfast that Mr S would drive her to the camp for the second day, meaning she would at least get one night with her friends and get up to the mischief they had planned.  She did manage this and as she hadn’t been sick just poorly we agreed for her to go on Tuesday.  I was worried, we didn’t think she was 100% but definitely much better than Monday. I just didn’t want her to be poorly without me there and I knew she would be devastated if she was sent home ill.  Fortunately her teachers kept us in contact and she perked up during the day and was soon back to her normal self.  She got her night of mischief with the highlights being the girls all sneaking into one of the bedrooms and only around 4 hours of sleep.  Sadly it was an extremely wet and windy camp and many activities were changed due to the weather, no barbecues or camp fires, in comparison to the adventures and stunning weather they enjoyed on the Year 5 PGL trip.  I suppose the lesson Little Miss learnt was that sometimes you have to change your expectations to meet the reality of the situation.  I wish she didn’t have to learn it as she did but hopefully its made her stronger and more resilient.

 

A Sunday afternoon walk

 

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This afternoon, Little Man and I went for a walk in a neighbouring village.  Little Man has a real passion for the armed services and watched the D-day 75th anniversary commemoration with interest this week.  Only a few miles from where we live is the beach where the allied forces practised for D-day and the bunker, Fort Henry, where the commanders watched is now a listed and protected landmark.  However, you can walk into it freely and see the view across the bay.  Its moving to be in the same bunker where Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery and King George watched the military exercise, its very small and there is a sense of history and memories in the space.  The bunker is in a quiet spot and as you approach through a wood, there is a wildflower meadow, including poppies, just before the bunker.  Today, the view from the bunker is beautiful taking in the full panoramic view of the bay, so tranquil, with the only noise being wildlife and the distant hum of people having fun on the beach.  Such a contrast to the view that would have been seen in the D-day prep exercise.  In a week of worldwide commemoration, it was fitting to go somewhere local which had such importance to D-day and to take a little time to pause and reflect.

Splashing, whizzing and sliding at Butlins

 

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Butlins in Bognor is our family’s special place, the place for us all to relax, have fun and make happy memories.  We’ve been coming at least annually since the children were small, it was our first family holiday and our Butlins break is always one of the highlights of our year.  This year, thanks to a conveniently placed Inset day, we went for the second part of the May half term holiday, with the big attraction being the newly opened swimming pool.  The weather was perfect, hot, sunny days (and we have done Butlins in every type of weather over the years…) just what we needed for all the outdoor activities we wanted to try.

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We’re pretty organised with our visits now and plan our arrival to allow an early check in at the hotel, to book in all our activities and then to go swimming which is always our first treat.  We were all very excited for the new swimming pool and it really doesn’t disappoint.  The art deco building is stunning and the detail in the changing rooms is perfect, large lockers, changing rooms for different sized groups, a separate area for showers with space for toiletries and to hang towels, heated floors and the perfect summery soundtrack.  The music is a highlight in the pool, someone with a great sense of humour has designed the playlists for the different areas, the music by the showers includes Splish, splash, I was taking a bath, whilst in the wave pool the start of the waves is no longer started by a loud alarm but a playlist including Wipeout, Hawaii 5-0 and lots of Beach Boys, it really adds to the atmosphere.  We were all tall enough to try every slide and flume, so we of course had a go on them all.  My favourite was the family flume, where you travel down the flume in a big inflatable, it was busy but our maximum queuing time was only about 20 minutes.  However on two mornings we were in the pool for opening and managed to be first and third in the queue! There was little queuing for the other slides, we managed the ‘scariest’ ride Adrenaline with only a few minutes queuing and the Wave Riders and Sticks of Rocks have 4 slides on each so there is little waiting time. The children loved the Garden Rapids and spent most time here.  I thought this was the most dangerous ride as the rapids can knock you over and you do need to be a confident swimmer.  However you cannot fault the pool safety at Butlins as there are so many lifeguards on duty.  On our four day trip, we managed 6 trips to the pool, going twice on Saturday and Sunday, the pool is brilliant and really adds to the holiday.

As well as the pool, we were keen to try some of the more outdoor activities this year and we bought the children adrenaline passes so they could go on the zip wire, climbing wall and ropes.  I am always impressed by the staff and safety and the children had a great time.  Last year the children tried Mini Bots ( a junior Segway) and it looked so much fun, that I really wanted to join in too this year.  Its really difficult to describe the vehicle (an electrical skateboard steered by a stick between the knees?) but after a very slow and steady start I got the hang of it and was able to join in the games and whizz around the court.  The children were much more skilled and confident than me but we all had great fun together.

As the weather was so good, we spent a lot of time outside, watching only a few shows, the pantomime (oh yes we did), the silent cinema which showed Mary Poppins Returns and a Skyline Gang show for nostalgia! We had hoped to go to some of the later music shows but after really full on days we were in our room just after 9pm each night.  One evening we had a game of 10 pin bowling which has become a little tradition for us.  The late night fair is always a highlight, its quite magical when all the rides are lit up and the music is playing.  I became a bit of a hero at the fair for winning Blue Llama on the horse racing game for Little Miss, I’m dead chuffed at my ball throwing skills!

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Blue llama, Little Miss’ new favourite toy! 

Our annual trip to Butlins is such a happy, family time and I get all the feels as we arrive.  As the children have got older we get to try new activities and easily fill our days, there is something for everyone.  I simply can’t imagine not having a Butlins trip pencilled in on our calendar, its just like a big family hug for us all!

 

 

The May Catch Up …

I’ve decided that I’m going to pause on Little Loves and try to do a general catch up of life each month, those little things which don’t merit a post of their own but have made the month a little special and more sparkly!

I’m on a real exercise buzz this year and I’m so pleased I’ve returned to competitive running after 7 years.  I’m not competing against anyone just myself by doing Park Run and being able to measure my progress.  I used to love running before children, but life got in the way and for the past few years I’ve been running with no real focus or purpose.   However this year, I started to follow a training plan and am running properly again.  I’ve been thinking carefully at the time I can give to my hobby and have decided to focus on 5 and 10k running.  This month I did two 5K Park Runs (improving my time!) and ran 6 miles which is my longest distance for years.  I am running three times a week and am getting up at 5.30 to fit in my runs, I love this time and I’ve been reminded how good running is for my mental health, it gives me time to think and relax.

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Along a similar theme, as well as returning to running, I’ve been looking at my health generally and having lost two stone this year, I’ve enjoyed my clothes again, gone is my black, baggy wardrobe to be replaced by fitted, fun clothes.  I’m liking putting outfits together, adding a few accessories, rediscovering old favourites and buying a few new pieces.  I’ve bought two items this month which I absolutely love, a pair of bright green cropped jeans and a bright reversible skirt from White Stuff, I love to twirl in a skirt.

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This month as a half term treat, I took the children to see the new Aladdin film.  I was so impressed by so many aspects of it.  Will Smith is a great genie, I worried that I would be comparing him to the wonderful Robin Williams but they both play the genie differently.  I loved the colours in the film, the costumes are spectacular and some of the dance scenes are mesmerising how they use colour, music and movement to create stunning scenes.

This year I don’t seem to be reading at my normal voracity, however in May, I read Normal People by Sally Rooney in a few days and its a 5 star read.  The storyline is simply of a boy and girl supporting each other in their formative early adult years.  Its a book I’ll be sharing around so I can talk about it with friends.

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May has seen the start of the season in our town, for me summer starts with the parking restrictions put in place!  We have many themed weekends in our town and this month we had pirate weekend, when pirates descend on the town.  The children loved it, there were sword fights, pirate songs and stories etc.. and lots and lots of dressing up.

Half term this year was quiet, we were going to Butlins for the second half so the first part of the week was spent at home, going out for long walks (and a bit of den building), tennis and some spring cleaning.  It was really relaxing and good to be home.  Details of our Butlins trip will follow in a new post, but it was brilliant, Butlins is our family’s special place.

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#Nourish, May 2019

 

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So my word of the year continues with a post on how I interpreted nourish in May 2019.  For the second month running, I didn’t manage my ‘nourish’ day of self care, work is crazy and I’ve worked every Thursday this month, whilst its good for the financial reward, its not worth the compromise on my work life balance, its just very difficult to say no …

However, I have had a real focus on my physical health this month.  In March, I decided that I needed to focus on my running.  I love running but over the past few years, its been without direction or purpose.  In March with the lighter mornings, I started a training programme and without fail, every week I have run at least three times as per the plan.  I’m getting up at 5.15am on some mornings to fit in a run and feeling great for it.  The purpose was to start being competitive (with myself ) again and this month, I signed up and ran my first (and second) Park Run, a 5k timed run.  I would love to do one every week but with our local Park Run 19 miles away (we live in a rural location), Mr S working on average two Saturdays a month and swimming lessons, its a logistical feat to attend.   However, I’ve definitely got the bug and I’m going to aim for one Park Run a month.

Also on the theme of physical health this month, I got a new Fitbit with a HR monitor and I love the stats.  One of my #19for2019 was to walk on average 12k steps a day and I’m quietly confident on my data so far this year that this will be achievable.  However, the upgrade has given me stats on more aspects of my health, notably heart rates.  I did a bit of research on what the rates meant and I am amazed at my results.  I like to think that I am on the healthy side of life, I walk lots, eat pretty well etc.. but it appears according to the charts, I am in great health on the cusp of excellent!  I am delighted that my heart is in such a good state.  I have been monitoring my heart rate on a daily basis, interestingly its raised at work and much lower on non work days, again I think I’m picking up a theme on how I need to focus on a better work life balance, perhaps a focus for a nourish post later this year.

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Getting things done …

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Towards the end of my route, I ran down to this view, the colours of the sea and sky were a dusky grey and pink and it was beautiful


Today was one of those unremarkable days, a day to do chores and get organised on a pretty yucky day, weather wise.  We were all at home today, Mr S had lots of house admin and financial tasks to do (I leave this part of our life to him, he’s great at finding deals, managing finances etc.. although please be assured I’m just as savvy and know all that is going on)  I had housework to do and planning and packing for our break away later this week and two residential trips for the children in the next few weeks, June is going to be a very busy month.  

I started the day with a long (dry) run, it was good, one of those runs where your legs move smoothly and swiftly, you have a great playlist and the view to sea is mesmerising.  After breakfast, we started our jobs and much to their surprise and joy allowed the children to chill with the Wii U so we could get things done.  It was a wet and miserable morning by now, so everyone was keen to be inside.  I had such a useful morning deep cleaning and now I’m ridiculously satisfied with my clean and sparkling cutlery drawers, immaculate surfaces, tidy rooms, empty laundry basket etc.. enabling me to feel so much happier in my environment.  My recent extended work hours mean that the house has been neglected a little and it was great to get on top of it today.  I need a clean and tidy house to feel relaxed and comfortable in my surroundings, its just the person I am.

This afternoon, Little Man and I went over to ‘big town’ for some shopping.  I needed to go to Decathlon for my annual summer shop, UV rash vests, running gear and a sleeping mat for camp. I love the excitement of a Decathlon shop,  on school trips to France as a teacher, we always managed to find one for a quick stop! My son is not the most enthusiastic of shoppers but I felt that we hadn’t had much 1:1 time recently and I needed some time with him.  I let him choose the music and he was happy to chat along in the car, its nearly an hour’s journey so there was lots of time to talk about the important things in his life, Minecraft, cricket, army and as we passed the car garages why I need to get a cool car.  ( Honestly isn’t a C1 cool?) Although he was initially unimpressed by my shopping proposal, when we got to Decathlon he was in element trying so many sports on display, dressing up as a boxer, trying the SUP, it was such a funny trip and an unusual but great mummy / son time.  We popped into Home Bargains for some cheap toiletries as it was too wet and windy to walk the extra hundred metres to Boots and as luck would have it, I found the perfect accessories for Little Miss’ party later this summer.  I’m a bit early, but from experience, I’ve learnt that it is best to pick up something so perfect when you see it.  We are having a watermelon themed party and I’m excited by my new props.

Today was one of those days where everyone seemed to be down about the wet day and being pretty miserable.  My day was so simple but satisfying, life’s not about the big life events but those little things which make you smile.  I smiled today because of a great run, having a clean house, ticking lots off my to dos list and being able to laugh out loud with my son.