One of the saddest things about adopting our two beautiful children has been missing out on their early life, we never knew them as babies just little toddlers. Little man’s homework this weekend had me searching for his life book to find out his birth weight and height, facts I’m sure Mums can recite off without thinking but not me. We also never got to experience any of those special firsts written about in baby books, birthdays, Christmas, words, steps, teeth etc.. until tonight!
This evening after a lot of wiggling and wobbling, Little Miss’ first baby tooth fell out and she is now dreaming of the tooth fairy. The Ben and Holly Tooth Fairy episode was a favourite when we were younger so we’re all very excited about a visit tonight. And nobody more than me, I have had my little Tooth Fairy bag ready for months to hide under her pillow with a beautiful personalised message printed on one side and a very special letter too. These are the moments I want to make magical and precious, it is my delight to add the sparkles to my children’s lives. I wasn’t able to do it in their baby years so I want to make everything so joyful and sparkling that they feel so special and loved throughout their childhoods with me and Mr S.
It feels that this week has been sponsored by Bach Rescue Remedy but it definitely wasn’t designed to be! I was reminded of the quote this week that life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. I had organised my diary for the week and although I had added a few extras such as play dates to our routine as I had no big plans for my non work days it seemed a workable and sanity saving plan. That was until, we received notice at work of a mock Ofsted inspection by our School’s Improvement Partner and my free time fizzled away into a list of admin to do. This is what I hate about my job, the inspections and pressure on providing data to prove our strengths. I work with special needs students, success to us is not GCSE grades, its helping a child to communicate, supporting them to develop basic personal care, giving them the skills to stay safe and function in the adult world. What I love about my job is the work we do and the positive difference we can make. How can I put into figures the amazing work we do? It is sadly a necessity in this results driven culture and I spent my time not on the content of the lessons but on figures, graphs, predictions etc.. This is wrong, demoralising and irrelevant. Judge us by the passion and spark you see in the classroom, look at our curriculum, our extracurricular opportunities not figures and graphs. Of course, despite the extra work, I was not observed on the morning I was teaching during the 2 day inspection, too much time is spent analysing data and not in the classroom. We will receive feedback next week and I will reserve judgement until then…
Away from the additional stress from work, this week has been full of some lovely little sparkles all bathed in some periods of warm sunshine which helps to make us all a little happier.
I really enjoyed the Saturday Times LFW edition of their magazine last Saturday. I got to sit in the sunshine watching the children play in the garden and read it in relative peace. There were two articles which were brilliant, interviews with the designer, Diana Von Furstenberg and the Vogue photographer, Grace Coddington both strong, determined and talented professionals. Both made comments I could really relate to, the first from DVF that she always knew the type of woman she wanted to be and the way she explains it is not the job she wanted to do, but the characteristics, attitude, lifestyle she wanted to have. Coddington argued about the danger of being attached to one’s phone and missing life, so true.
I do love Woman’s Hour but thought it was a standout programme on Thursday. A piece on fashion with Jane Shepherdson appealed it was not about high end fashion but on sustainable fashion. I loved the can you wear it 30 times rule? There was also an interview with JoJo Moyes on the sequel to Me Before You, which was a brilliant book and I’m looking forward to reading After You. There was also an informative piece on Nell Gwynne and then a brilliant cooking piece with Lorraine Pascal. Her enthusiasm was infectious and she made me smile trying to answer questions whilst nibbling on the mixture. Today’s episode was one where you would just love to join the women for lunch!
I watched the children have lots of fun in the late season sunshine. We returned to the Aquarium on Sunday, as when we went earlier in the summer we were given free return tickets for September. It was another great day out. The animals were quite animated, probably enjoying the sunshine too and we had lots of fun on the rides too. There is a great water flume there and we went on it lots of times, we shrieked a lot and got soaked but as we dried quickly in the sun, it was all in good humour.
There’s been lots of play in the garden too, the children are great at creating new games. Little Man’s play date was on a bright and warm afternoon so they played happily in the garden which creates less mess than indoors!
Our food shopping and menus have been frustrating me for a while. We have tended to do one big monthly shop complemented by weekly fresh pickups as needed. Mr S is often in charge of the food shop and I dislike the weighting of convenience foods to fresh ingredients. So, I have made a plan for fortnightly shops and have planned menus so we know what we are having and shop accordingly. This has been working well, Mr S has conceded that he is preferring our meals and the fresh food, I enjoy cooking and I think in the long term it will be more cost effective. This week’s menu has included a pie, stir fry, curry, omelette and casserole and herby dumplings all made from scratch. I have also been looking at the children’s tea choices, they have a hot meal at school but as the cold evenings draw in, I am looking at more soups, toasted snacks etc.. the challenge is to fit the food in around their busy schedules.
I also made my first Christmas order this week and wrote my first Christmas lists detailing presents bought and ideas. I like being this organised it helps me enjoy Christmas and all the preparation.
Shorts and sunglasses, thanks to the sunshine. It’s a lovely feeling being able to wear my shorts so late in the year. Part of the culture of living at the seaside is that our clothing reflects our coastal lives and sunshine is beach time and appropriate clothes, eg shorts! I’m not sure if I wore shorts in an urban town that it would be so acceptable. I love my shorts and flip flops so am happy to extend summer as long as possible.
Next week the diary is looking organised and manageable and I’m hoping for a trip to ‘big’ town for some much needed shopping. I am also hoping to start the Sketchbook course created by Jennie Maizels , I’ve downloaded my first module on houses and am very inspired.
I have always loved this poem and I was reminded of it tonight when something wonderful happened to me on my evening run. It was only to be a quick run, a 3o minute blast to get back in time to pick up Little Miss from Brownies. As the dark nights are drawing in I was keen to make the most of my run in the light and I took one of my favourite routes along the coastal path. The scene was just stunning tonight, there was a stillness and calm on the sea and the sunset reflecting off the water was beautiful. However, something caught my eye in the sea, at first I thought it was just a few waves crashing but the more I looked I realised I was looking at dolphins swimming in the sea. I stopped running and just stood and stared. It was an amazing moment, one in which time and mile splits suddenly were irrelevant, my breath really was taken away by the beauty and magic of nature. I may not have run my best time, or achieved a personal goal but it was one of the most awe inspiring runs I have ever had the privilege to do.
It’s been a good week this week. Working my normal hours with no overtime definitely makes me a more relaxed and happier Mum and wife, I’ve had my hair done, watched a film one afternoon, waited in for the gasman and spent a day pottering and organising.
I finished Life After You, it was readable but not a book I would readily recommend. I have also started to read a Vintage clothing book which is well illustrated and interesting and providing some much needed inspiration. I tried to do a Next order this afternoon but nothing excited or inspired me in the catalogue, everything looked so dull and ordinary that I left the site without making a purchase.
I watched the British film Pride on one of my free afternoons and it was brilliant, one of the best films I have seen in ages. The true story of the lesbian and gay community and a welsh mining village set during the miners strike, stunning.
Lots in this category this week, some good runs with a blast of Miss Swift as my accompaniment, some excellent episodes of guest editors on Women’s Hour and some excellent political analysis of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.
I am delighted with the result, he has the opportunity to redefine not only Labour but party politics and whilst I don’t think he will ever be PM, sadly the press will ensure that, I think he could heavily influence the art and culture of politics in the coming years. Good luck to Corbyn, British politics needs a politician like him, I think we are all bored of the bland, anonymous politicians whom seem to blend into one regardless of party.
The last listen is jingle bells, last weekend was one of my favourite weekends of the year, Folk festival. It’s one of these odd weekends which always seems to be hot and sunny and there’s a fantastic atmosphere in town with hundreds of folk groups dancing and playing music. However as most folkies wear bells on their shoes, sticks and as part of their costumes there is always an echo of jingle bells around town this weekend.
A joint make this week from Little Man and I, his first homework of the year was to make a jointed puppet. It was a lovely activity and he talked about all the different parts of the body and added the heart and brain.
I have also made progress on a computer game, Inside Out’s Thought Bubbles. Normally I am indifferent to computer games, Tetris, Snakes etc.. all passed me by but this game which Little Miss chose for her tablet is addictive. It has taken me days and lots and lots of games to pass my nemesis of Level 23 but I’m zooming up the levels again. It’s a great distraction.
After over a year of trying to grow my hair longer and very little progress I took some professional advice and have chosen a shorter style. My hair has also been over coloured and is damaged so I have made the very difficult and challenging decision to leave off colour for another 6 weeks. I am now wearing a shorter hairstyle with a few silver highlights, it does make me self-conscious and a little uncomfortable, I am just hoping that its worth it over time!
This is me on a Thursday morning, it’s my time and something I cherish. I rarely have time on my own and often it’s the time I use to have a run. But I love having a list of things to do and organise and today I have that opportunity to do it. It’s a bright, autumnal morning outside and I feel invigorated by the school run, normally it’s a walk but the children have earnt a wheelie reward in golden time today so they rode on their scooters as I power walked / skipped / jogged along balancing school bags too! After the drop off I got to catch up with a few friends and met one’s gorgeous new born baby, scrumptious beyond words. When your day starts like that it can only be a good day.
I am now settled for my admin, I caught the last few songs of the local radio station’s golden hour and guessed correctly and now it’s time for Women’s Hour, I often catch up later so it’s nice to hear it live! I am definitely more a radio girl than daytime tv. My washing is in the machine and I have nice jobs today, the Autumn chill has triggered the necessity to buy some new Autumn clothes for the children and I need a few bits for me so it’s time for a bit of online shopping as I can’t get to ‘big town’ for a few weeks. I also need to order a few birthday cards and then go through this year’s photos to find a nice photo to send to the children’s birth family as its Letterbox contact time again. I am also planning on making a few plans for the coming months, there is a very special big birthday in our family, my Dad’s retirement and Christmas and I want to get as organised as possible. It’s me who adds the special touches to events, so I need to try and wow with some little sparkles.
So the necessities for my morning
My diary and pen
My notebook, full of mind maps of different events
Next and Boden catalogues
Toast and tea!
My Notebook, easy links to Pinterest, WordPress and my current favourite, Inside Out Thought bubbles game. All which will happily distract me from my list today!
This for me is precious time and being organised and prepared makes me happy, my Thursday morning is one of simple pleasures.
I was taken by surprise this morning when I checked my email to see that a new post had been published on my blog. I wrote and scheduled it a while ago to appear randomly to ensure that the children’s birthdays remain secret. The publication of the Mermaid party has provided the impetus to write this much overdue post on our Star Wars party for Little Man.
The children’s birthdays are very close together so it’s quite an intense period for planning and preparation. I am the kind of Mum who keeps Pinterest boards for party inspiration throughout the year and am ready with ideas and creativity come party season. The themes come from the children and Little Man was very keen to have a Star Wars party for his birthday. This was slightly at odds with the venue which was a local farm but I was able to maintain the theme through invitations, decorations for the party room, extra food treats and party bags. For both the parties, I used stationery from an Etsy shop, PrintMagic. The downloadable packs were excellent, with invitations, thank you notes, posters, bunting, games etc.. I adapted some of the posters with Star Wars characters and used them in the party room to brighten up the brick walls, I also made lots of Star Wars bunting, a mix of character and Little Man’s name and age and hung them across the walls, along with some Star Wars balloons. I was able to save all these decorations and reuse them at home for the actual birthday, I always have the kitchen decorated for birthday mornings. Whilst the venue provided the food, I made some additional cakes as one of the guests had a food allergy and I wanted to ensure he had a sweet treat to enjoy too, I used Star Wars rice toppers for these cakes and they looked great. It is a family tradition that we always have top hats (marshmallows, chocolate and smarties) for parties and these too were a necessary ingredient of the party. I made the cake, a simple but effective design of the Star Wars logo and stars. As creative as I like to be, Darth Vader seemed beyond my capabilities.
The party entertainment was the farm and its attractions, the boys loved their activities. We had a tractor and trailer ride and the views were stunning. The farmer stopped at the best viewpoint and each guest got to sit behind the wheel of the tractor, this was really popular and I used the photos I had taken as thank you notes which were well received. There were lots of other activities, animal petting and feeding, go karting, outdoor play and an indoor soft play area. It was a stunning day weather wise and it was really easy to occupy the guests, even though the party ended at 3.30pm the parents were still relaxing and the boys playing an hour later. The boys left with a Darth Vader party bag containing a Darth Vader mask, cake, balloon and a Lego figure, simple but again well received.
The farm was a great party venue and the owners so helpful and accommodating, they really made sure that Little Man and his little friends had an amazing time.
Its been birthday time in our household for Little Miss. We are spreading out the celebrations, so we enjoyed a mermaid party on Friday with Little Miss’ girlfriends (at this age, boys are not allowed by decree of the girls), the horse riding treat was today and we’re all looking forward to a Sunday Roast dinner in a local pub tomorrow. Birthdays should always be celebrated well.
We were so lucky with the weather for the party, a rare bright, sunny afternoon in what has been a pretty dreary week. The theme was mermaids, so the garden was decorated accordingly, the wall was adorned with bunting (well it can’t be a party without bunting!) and strings of shells. I had set up a small craft table with an Under the Sea table cloth and hung more themed garlands and balloons around the garden with a lovely array of shells on the outdoor window sills for decoration and to be used in the activities. Needless to say I had a party mix tape with a few themed songs, Beyond the Sea, Under the Sea etc.. to complement the girls’ pop choices, One Direction remain as popular as ever! In planning the party it was difficult to decide what the best activities would be, were they too old for pass the parcel, musical statues, would they like to make something or should I just allow them to dance and chat? I decided on some craft activities and to see how the party developed. I had bought some scratch art mermaids and peg dolls which went down well with the girls and were great party bag fillers too. The activity they all loved was making mermaid hair clips, I bought simple clips and they chose shells from the decorations around the garden which I attached with a hot glue gun, they looked very impressive and it was so simple to do. Among the craft activities there were lots of gymnastics, dancing and the odd game of Musical Statues at their request!
The food was simple, fresh party food but presented within the theme. I carefully used cookie cutters to shape the sandwiches into starfish, popcorn was coral, cocktail sticks of grapes seaweed, whilst the strawberry and lemon jellies represented the sunshine! The cake was more challenging than I had expected, the green laces I had hoped to use as seaweed didn’t work, but green shaped icing was a good alternative. I also used some silver glitter and blue sparkles as waves, the sparkles worked well but I didn’t like the glitter effect. All little things to learn from, I love creating the children’s cakes and among all the fancy food it proved a lovely centre piece. Sadly I didn’t get a taste as it was sliced up for the party bags and was then shared with siblings who came to pick up guests and Little Miss delivered some to our lovely neighbours whose Friday evening peace had been broken by our music, chat and laughter. As well as the cake, a sweetie and some stationery I was really pleased with a mermaid favour which I had found on Ebay, it was a personalised bracelet kit with mermaid charm and letters which spelt out the guests’ name, they were well priced and looked gorgeous in a little organza bag.
All the organisation, planning and work was worth all the effort, I liked the theme and hope I was able to entertain the girls. I’m already on Pinterest looking for inspiration for next year!
I think I lulled myself into an unrealistic scenario last week as we returned to school. It was a very relaxed start to the school term, I worked fewer hours thanks to the bank holiday and Inset, the children only had two days at school and Mr S was on hand to help as he enjoyed a week off. This week the realism has kicked in, 5 days at school for the children, Brownies, Gymnastics, Ballet and Football clubs have started, Mr S is back at work and it’s been a much busier week at my work with some overtime too to relieve some of the early pressure on our department. We’re getting our routines back in order and I’m sure it’ll all be much easier and smoother in the coming weeks. Despite the busy week, I have had the chance to meet up with a friend for coffee. It was a much needed catch up and because of her sad summer, a conversation which has put much into perspective and helped to clarify the important things in life as her and her family have experienced the fragility of life and strength of love. Strangely, I left inspired and grateful. Here are more sparkles from this week, because despite all the busyness there are always shimmers in our days…
I am currently helping on a research project with Little Man, it’s a really simple questionnaire each week for a year which takes a few minutes to complete online. As a token of thanks, for the past 4 months work, I received a gift token this week so treated myself to a couple of books. My first book is Life After You by Lucie Brownlee, the true story of a young widow as she tries to deal with her husband’s unexpected death. It is such a tragic storyline but I don’t feel it’s been written as powerfulIy and detailed as it could have, I would have liked to know more about the characters especially her young daughter, anecdotes, ways of dealing with the grief etc.. It’s quite a contrast to a similar book I picked up by chance which is excellent, Mum’s List, the tears streamed as I read that book and it’s a story which has stayed with me.
I also read a comment for my blog this week, my first ever, thank you so much Lisa. I was excited, scared and it brought a dilemma which I think I’ll address in another post, I don’t publicise my blog for a number of sincere reasons, is now the time I bite the bullet and embrace the world of blogging, leaving comments and joining in linkies which I love to read? Lots of different issues to ponder here.
A nostalgic watch this week as I switched on CBBC’s 30th anniversary programme. I only saw little bits and pieces as it was on at the bewitching hour of 6 o’clock which is a very busy time in our household but I got to see Philip Schofield and Gordon the Gopher and Andi Peters and Edd the duck. I was very excited, although the children didn’t seem overly impressed by my generation’s presenters. I had forgotten how funny Andi Peters was and I’ve always had a soft spot for Philip Schofield. Not only did Phillip Schofield do the broom cupboard he hosted a request show on Radio 1 on Thursday evenings which was required listening for teenage girls. My friend and I were really into music at the time and found out the number 1s from when we were born, hers was an unknown song, Mouldy Old Dough which we couldn’t find anywhere, so she wrote in to Phillip who played her song on his show, it cemented his reputation as our hero!
I listened to my manager give me my annual appraisal this week. I was very happy with it, I love my job and enjoy what I do (despite the appalling government interference and political agenda) What struck me as she spoke to me was that she could have been describing my wonderful mentor whom I have always tried to model myself on. I have been teaching 20 years now and perhaps I have finally become the teacher I always aspired to. I do think working part time has given me more energy and focus.
With a busy week, there has been little kitchen inspiration this week. However, at the county fair we bought an amazing assortment of cheeses in the food tents and I have made some rather nice cheese and biscuits this week, the cheddar and ginger is my current favourite although there are cheeses still to try!
Another limited category this week, jeans and polo for work and leggings and tunics on my days off. At the fair, I did treat myself to this beautiful daisy necklace and have enjoyed wearing it on my days off, I am a silver girl and it complements other pieces well.
Today was an early start to attend the county show. It’s a brilliant day out and when I was asked to describe it to a friend yesterday the best I could manage was its like Glastonbury without the live music, a little town which pops up in country fields for a week and is a stunning heritage day out. Many people camp onsite, approx. 25k a day, but it’s a very popular day visit too, hence our early morning start to avoid the heavy traffic. We’ve become regular visitors over the years and it’s a real treat for the beginning of September. There are a few events coming up in the next few weeks which are quite special for locals, after the hard work for many in the summer holidays, prime tourist time, it’s a little holiday in a weekend.
The site of the show is huge and it’s impossible to visit every attraction in the one day. Today we watched some of the horse shows, saw some livestock, visited vintage vehicles of all kinds, mooched around the craft tents, sampled local produce in the food tents, watched stunt shows in the main arena, relived the trenches of World War 1 in a centenary exhibition, did some rides in the fairground, watched traditional crafts and walked miles just browsing and looking at all on offer. Needless to say we’re all rather tired tonight.
I love the show for inspiration, my favourites today were some of the vintage caravans, pastel coloured with pretty bunting and complementary accessories. In my dreams I could have one in our garden and use it as my little den. A girl has got to have dreams, as in the words of Captain Sensible, ‘you’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true?
Its been a great day out and a real treat after everyone’s first few days back at school, one of those days out to extend Summer a little bit longer.
This week saw a wet and miserable bank holiday, my return to school, the start of the children’s new school year and Mr S on holiday to help us with childcare and to join me in settling the children in their new classrooms. Mr S also came up with the inspired idea to go to the dogs on Tuesday night which was a superb way to end the holidays.
With the start of the academic year, my reading this week has been work related, latest government guidelines, curriculum changes, new strategies, newsletters from education organisations, textbooks for a TA course I’m developing, research for my lesson planning. I do love my job so this is not as arduous as it may seem.
The only other thing I read was the programme for the greyhound meet. I read the form and tips, but I do tend to choose my dogs by their name!
On Tuesday night, following Mr S’ suggestion, we went to the greyhounds for a meal and to watch the races to celebrate the end of the holiday, it was a brilliant idea to finish on a high. I only allowed the children to go as they would have a day to recover before school on Thursday, however I was out on a school night, what a rebel! The children loved the experience and it was great fun. Little Miss made some great predictions and after giving me her dog’s name or colour, I placed a £1 bet on each race for her, these bets won £23 and she was so excited watching her dogs win. So, she didn’t get taken by the betting bug, the winnings were shared between us all. Little Man was not so lucky, even with a namesake dog in one race, but he still managed to predict the winner from one race so left happy. This holiday has been full of new activities, the children are now at an age where they are able to do lots more with us and this has given lots of new experiences for the Summer.
Again, not much to report this week, no new music and I’ve not had much opportunity to listen to the radio. On Bank Holiday Monday when I was cleaning the kitchen cupboards ( what a rock’n’roll life I lead) I did listen to some of the Beatles / Elvis countdown on the radio, the Beatles did write some beautiful songs and it was a nice soundtrack to my job.
As a B side, this was not played on the show I listened to but it is one of my favourite Beatles tracks and I’ll take any excuse to show it.
Our produce in the garden is ripening now and this week I’ve been cooking with home grown ingredients. Our tomatoes have been used to enhance a ratatouille, in an omelette and Little Miss’ basil has added flavour too. We also made a caramel apple crumble using the fruit from our tree. I love using our home grown produce and I’m looking for new recipes to try to use our glut of tomatoes and apples.
With all the home cooking, I have been wearing my daisy pinny which I love for its colours and big pocket on the front. I’ve also worn a coconut face mask, my little treat today. After dropping off the children at school, I went for a run and then came back and had a warm bubble bath in peace with lots of little pampering treats.
Whilst we are back in the school routine now, September is a great month for local events and we’re looking forward to this weekend for a huge county show. It means an early start to avoid all the traffic but its worth it for the brilliant day out. The Summer holidays may be over but there are always opportunities to add a few sparkles to the days.