Parenting, profundities and humour

How time flies — October 13, 2015

How time flies


I am coming up fast on my six months bloggingversary. No, that isn’t a word, I made it up.

I can vividly remember sitting in bed one morning during the school Easter holidays and penning my first tentative post. That same day at a local country park I wrote my second. And by the end of the week several more had followed. And now my current tally is 80. Yes eighty. Who can believe it? Certainly not me.

I had opened a floodgate in my head. Words and ideas poured out. It is a good job for my readers that I discovered the ‘schedule’ button on WordPress and was able to moderate my publications to about three times a week.

And so over the last six months I have fallen into a bit of a pattern publishing on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. This seems to work out quite well.

I worried I would run out of ideas. And sometimes, like at present, I get down to only one scheduled entry. And I worry gently. Then I remember that I am not under contract to any one. I do not have to post. I could drop off the airwaves and no one would be banging on my door demanding a refund.

I thought my life was quite small and uneventful. Writing this blog has made me see that even though most of my life is indeed mundane and routine there is humour and profundity even in that. And quite a lot of ranting…

What else have a learnt?

Quite often the entries I debate about even posting garner the most readers. I agonised about publishing Lets Not Skirt Around the Issue for days. I honestly thought such detailed information about my intimate medical and personal grooming issues may have turned readers away in droves. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Some entries I dash off in minutes. Some take me hours. And even then I sometimes have to rewrite the whole piece. And the popularity of posts bears no relation to how much sweat I have put into them.

I have different audiences. Fellow WordPress users like my posts about blogging. Facebook friends tend to prefer the humorous stuff about parenting. Some are very loyal and read and comment on every post regardless of topic. I am grateful to them.

And then there is my silent mystery audience. They find me from all over the world. Today someone has found my blog when searching on Google for ‘Sure Cool Blue Aerosol’. So I tried. Sure enough there is Aroma Moan on page 5 of the results. That kind of blew my mind actually. I am on internet search engines….Ok page 5 but still….

And so this blogging lark is a great learning experience. It will never lead anywhere. But I enjoy writing. I get a lot out of it.

Some days the housework doesn’t get done. But hey as my grandfather used to say ‘you are a long time dead’.

Middlest — August 24, 2015



Today Middlest is ten…

Since he came into the world he has been a bit of an odd ball. In a good way.

I had a protracted experience giving birth to Eldest. So when the first twinges of Middlest’s labour began I set myself up for a long haul. I was having Middlest at home and was looking forward to trying to watch a bit of TV to take my mind off the pain in the early stages. And then using ambient lighting and moody music in the bits where any distraction would have been irritating. Before literally girding my loins for the inevitable hour or two of pushing.

It was quite a shock, then, when a mere four hours later he popped into the world after a paltry three pushes. Like a cork out of a bottle. He had to be caught to prevent him from rolling under the sofa. There had been no time to fix music or lighting. In fact there had hardly been time to call the midwife, whisk Eldest from the scene or remove my PJ bottoms.

In every way he was different to Eldest. He was completely bald. With jug ears. He was small. He had chicken legs and no sign of those lovely dimply thighs possessed by a new born Eldest. But he had the longest eyelashes I have ever seen and still does.

He fed quickly and without fuss. He slept for hours on end. Contentedly. With his hands behind his head like a sun bather.

He giggled early. Was happy sitting in his bouncy chair watching the world (and his big brother) go by.

And ever since he could speak he has always had a way with words. In fact even before he could speak English he babbled away ten to the dozen in his own language, very earnestly and with great inflection. Totally incomprehensibly. But adorably. Still nearly weekly he amazes me with some turn of phrase or inference which makes me stop in my tracks.

He has had his fair share of medical issues. Nothing major but enough to make me feel that he is the ‘runt’ of our ‘litter’. He has born them all with good grace and a fair degree of humour. In fact he is very funny. He sees humour in situations that could make others downhearted. He is brave and resilient. Taking new situations in his stride.

He is very tactile. He has to touch everything. All the time. His hands still go in his dinner on a daily basis. Which means his food is often down his front…He loves to lie face down on a hot beach and move his hands through the warm sand. Or lie on fluffy rugs or bath mats. He regularly drags his collection of ‘touchy-feely’ cushions down from his bedroom to lie on in front of the TV. He rubs special stones in his pockets, fiddles constantly.

He is a good sibling and friend.  He has the ability to lose. And to be self deprecating. And so he is popular amongst those not able to do so. And yet he has a strong sense of himself and will not be pushed around.

Despite being an August birthday he does well at school. Because he loves to learn. And because if he wants to do something he will do it. With absolute determination. After being a life long thumb sucker he decided to stop when he was about 4 after the dentist told him it was a bad idea. And he just made himself stop. Overnight.

He has a long held ambition to be a primary school teacher. And he would be very good. He has endless patience especially with his young cousins and loves to teach. He has spent hours today walking his siblings (and parents) through his three step process for learning to fly his new remote controlled helicopter.

And one of his most endearing characteristics is that he does not want to grow up too fast. He is happy to still be a little boy. He is comfortable remaining childish whilst some of his school mates, who in some cases are nearly 11, push forwards. He still likes swings, his cuddlies, hugs, bedtime stories. Yes he is reading teenager style fiction and watching Marvel films but he is also happy playing make believe with his sister, hiding in dens and dressing up, using their pet names.

Long may that continue. He is apprehensive about attaining double figures. I clearly didn’t share with him my own anxieties. That it feels like a huge milestone to me too.

But it is just a number. I am sure he will remain his adorable, quirky self. Just a day older.

Happy birthday darling Middlest. Love ya loads.

Always messy with food...Easter Hols 2008 102Holiday Norfolk Sept 07 071



Old Friends — August 18, 2015

Old Friends


So today I spent an afternoon in the company of good friends.

We had struggled to find a date during the long school holidays when we were all around and had landed on this afternoon. Even with this date one of our usual four was unable to make it and yet another was leaving on holiday the next morning and was mid ‘pack’.

These are friends I met when pregnant with Eldest. We first made each other’s acquaintance whilst sitting on bean bags and floor cushions (surely not the most amenable seating for heavily pregnant women) at the house of our ante-natal teacher being taught about the mechanics of childbirth (not sure I will ever get over that pelvis and doll combo) and the pros and cons of drugs during labour.

I am not sure we really bonded permanently then but the beginnings were stirring. There were 7 couples expecting their first child. In the normal course of events I am sure I would never have met any of these women; our circles, professions and locations being quite disparate.

Eldest decided to make an early appearance and I missed the last session- I have since found out that this caused ‘quite a stir’ amongst the remaining course members.

Luckily for me the charity who provided the course also ran post baby support ‘get togethers’. At the first one it was me, eldest and one very heavily pregnant member who was overdue. The others were in the early throws of new borns and couldn’t make it.

The next session two weeks later saw nearly a full turn out. One lady was beautifully presented and waxed lyrical about the wonders of parenthood. I went home and cried for 2 hours.

A fortnight rolled by and super mum didn’t make it. Probably getting her nails done. It took about 5 minutes before someone admitted that they were struggling. Relief washed over me like a warm shower. And the five of us bonded and never looked back. We met regularly even after our charity provided support stopped. One lady moved away but the rest of us met nearly weekly until about two years ago when post school extra curricular activities, work and other mundanities precluded such regular meetings.

Our eldest children are now 11 and a half. And we try to meet every school holiday with varying degrees of success. Sometimes half a year may go by.

It never matters. Once we get together again it is as if time has not passed. It is like we only met the previous day. Our kids (they now number 10 between four of us) get on like a house on fire despite not sharing schools or Cub packs or sport teams. We make tea in each others kitchens. No one bristles if a child is disciplined by the ‘wrong’ mother. We are all going through the same stuff with the kids at the same time. We always feel better about ourselves and we feel like better parents, or at least more accepting of ourselves as parents, after a long chat. We bare our souls.

And so I count these women as some of the most important in my life. There are others equally important to me, including men too. It is nothing to do with the length of acquaintance. The common link is a shared history from some part of life, an ease, similar experiences, an ability to fall back into conversation as if you have never been apart, and a recognition that the pace of life means not meeting up as much as you would like, but knowing that that doesn’t mean the relationship is any less important or precious.

These are the best sorts of friendship. I love all my friends from whatever walk of life and count myself lucky to have them.

I know a lot of those friends read this blog- so there you go- feel told. Ok?

Footnote…that photo above…that is not a picture of the friends I met up with today. All of us have had at least two children, some three. We don’t jump. Without clenching…

Are we nearly there yet? — August 16, 2015

Are we nearly there yet?

Today the kids and I were faced with a long drive to the in laws. We are unfortunate enough to be at least a four hour drive away from three of the four ‘sets’ of the kids’ grandparents. Before you ask it’s complicated.

One set are in the South West and therefore in reality at least 5 hours away. The other two ‘away’ sets are in the North East and I have done it in three and a half hours with a tail wind and no roadworks or average speed cameras. Today it took six, a combination of incessant rain and Friday traffic.

Before we left the kids had their usual argument about which DVDs to watch in the car. As I have three kids and two DVD player holders Middlest has to share. He can share with either of the other two. But of course they never want to watch the same DVD, or they all want to watch the same DVD at the same time. If there is a way to fall out about it they will.

Anyway once I had donned my light blue peacekeeper helmet and sorted it all out (I think I threatened to leave the DVD players behind, or did I threaten to leave the kids behind? Either way it worked) we departed.

The radio doesn’t work when the DVD players are on. They seem to interfere with each other. And I have still not unpacked my CD collection since the house move and so I had a choice of Def Leppard or The Wheels on the Bus collection. As such, once Def Leppard had gone round twice, I had plenty of silence and traffic jam to consider how it was when I was young.

We did a lot of train travel as a kid. But also plenty of long distance car journeys.

My first recollections are of the bright green Ford Cortina. Three door. Rear windows of a triangular nature which popped open rather than rolled down. No air con. No radio.

My mum was quite enlightened for the time. We had four point harnesses attached to some part of the car’s innards. We had a cuboid block of foam to sit on so we could see out of the tiny windows. She had covered them in hand made fabric cases, mine was an orange, yellow and brown seventies flower concoction and my brother had a blue and white stripe toweling  type material. He used to dig little tunnels in his foam so that under the cover it looked a lot like an ants’ nest.

We drove quite often from Mersyside to the South West to visit grandparents and for our annual hotel holiday in South Devon. The trips were interminable. My dad had recorded some music onto tape for us to help pass the time. Our favourite one had Play School’s Bang on a Drum album on one side. And for some, probably educational, reason The Carnival of the Animals by Saint Seans on the other. Yes it is classical music aimed more at children than the norm but still, no words, nothing to sing along to. Low on entertainment value, certainly after its first airing.

Due to having to use a portable tape player which ran on the largest cylindrical batteries available we were not allowed to use the rewind or forward wind buttons. As the batteries ran out. So once the fun of Bang on a Drum had been had we were subjected to the opposing side in order to hear it again. I think the other tape had Peter and the Wolf on…..that was even worse. I still can’t listen to The Swan without picturing the M5.

My mum was a master of car word games. I Spy, pub bingo, The Minister’s Cat, I went to Market and I bought. We played all these a lot. But I guess even her patience must have run out at some point on each journey as I remember a lot of watching rain drops roll down the windows and playing the ‘raindrop racing game’ in my head.

I did a lot of staring out of the window to combat my horrendous travel sickness. There was a metal potty in the car just for me. And so I could never read or do puzzles or the like. Even with the window staring I was often ill. On an interminable trip to Kent from Mersyside I was sick about 14 times. This was in the days before the M25 so I am not even sure how we got round London but I do remember it taking a very long time…..indeed.

My brother eventually built up quite a collection of Pocketeers (see above). They helped him pass the time. But not me, too vomit inducing.

Sometime after we moved south we transferred to our first Fiat Mirafiori. PHF181T. This had a radio. But it was permanently tuned to Radio Four. I remember the rebellion my brother and I led during our teenage years to be allowed to listen to the chart show on one Sunday evening drive home.

There were some memorable incidents. One of the rear windows my mother was finally persuaded to pop open for us on one boiling hot drive which then promptly fell out onto the service station car park floor. My brother flapping his jumper out of the car window (this must have been in the Mirafiori days) to get rid of a strangely  colourful bug and then letting go. And my dad then sprinting across all the lanes of the motorway from the hard shoulder to retrieve it. Can you even imagine any day when that would even be possible now without being flattened? My brother and I sitting on those foam cushions on the roadside to eat our picnic and being joined by a gaggle of hungry geese.

But generally we were bored. Witless. Even so I don’t remember bugging my mum much. What compliant children we were. That bit of the M5 where it splits onto two levels was always a sign that we were nearly there and it could never come soon enough.

So I have very little sympathy for my kids’ DVD squabbling. They don’t know they are born. Seriously.

Youngest… — July 16, 2015


Tomorrow my little girl is 8.

I have actually got no idea where the last 8 years have gone.

It seems like yesterday that she was a tiny, crumpled baby, still to unfurl, nestled snugly, sometimes much to snugly for a hot July, on my chest asleep and content.

I remember before she was born telling myself to enjoy those early days. I knew she was to be my last baby. I knew it would be the last time I would hold a newborn and inhale that just born smell which lasts several days.

I didn’t enjoy my first days with eldest. I was in shock. Completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. I was fumbling around not sure what to do and which way to turn. I read too many books. I got too hung up on doing it all right. I was self conscious and exhausted. I was lonely and unsure how to forge my own path. I got there in the end. But it was a tough road for several months.

When middlest was born the whole birth and early days experience was so different and so much easier that I went the other way and did far too much too soon. I took him to meet friends the day he was born. I ran around after eldest trying to keep everything ‘normal’. Almost inevitably about a week in I ended up in hospital with post partum fever on IV antibiotics and so my early days with him were somewhat marred.  And then he also became quite badly and scarily ill a few weeks later and we had yet another really tough time.

So with youngest I was determined to enjoy those days. Relax. Allow people to help. Do what we felt was best not what the books said. Put her down to sleep on her front if she preferred it. Stay in PJs all day.

And it worked. Those early days with her are some of the happiest of my life. Although in hindsight it all went too quickly I can actually remember some of it going deliciously slowly. Hours listening to music in my newly finished conservatory just holding her and allowing her to sleep on me. Against all ‘that advice’.

She was a joy, not always easy- until we tried that sleeping on her front thing we got hardly any sleep ourselves for five days!- but a joy none the less.

And that is how it has remained. Happy Birthday darling youngest.

End of Term — July 10, 2015

End of Term

Today is my children’s last day of term….well I say day it is actually half a day as I need to go back to collect them at 12 noon.

I always have mixed feelings at this time of year.

On the one hand I am immensely looking forward to having them all to myself for a few weeks. I am looking forward to not getting up at 6am. I will not miss the homework. I am excited about my temporary, semi retirement from taxi driving. We will have adventures with friends and family. I will be able to cook meals that take longer than 15 minutes. We are all excited about a family holiday all together somewhere warm and relaxing.

Yes we will still do music practise, I will try to finally help my daughter to learn to tell the time reliably. We will do the occasional times table. But we will also watch far too much TV, play on computers, doss in the garden, do messy craft (I have a yearning to finish off that Belle loom band character which still languishes half done on a loom since youngest and I started it in the last summer holidays) and read books.

We will fall out. I will miss having time to think and write this blog. There will be altercations and contretemps. Siblings will be physically abused, there will be crying and tantrums. My house will descend into even more chaos than usual (husband gird your loins)…

But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Because on the flip side to the end of term is the fact that another year has slipped away. Almost unnoticed. My children are another year older. Edging inexorably towards adulthood. So these times are precious.

The summer offers a brief moment when the world slows down slightly. A time to really reconnect.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

Pride Cometh.. — July 2, 2015

Pride Cometh..


As the more astute of you may have realised by now I am a SAHM… that is parenting forum speak for Stay At Home Mum. It hardly encompasses my role but, hey, that’s a post for another day.

In the days BC (before children) I had a job. Actually it was a career of over a decade in duration. I earned more than my husband. It was really quite high powered and despite constantly feeling like an imposter I was surprisingly good at it. Annually I would fill in those endless, tedious forms about my achievements over the last year and sit in front of a manager- whose only real interest was in my sales results- and receive feedback. And hopefully a bonus and possibly a pay rise. Occasionally over that 12 year period I was promoted which meant a definite pay increase and more people to sit in front of every year and provide feedback to.

And usually if the manager could see past my slight ‘oddness’ – variously described as scruffiness, dislike of networking, lack of killer instinct- I got positive feedback, maybe a few development areas too, but generally a lot of good stuff.

And also I had grateful clients, colleagues who needed me to help them out, managers whose butts I saved.

And I miss it. I miss sitting down a few times a year and being told I was good at something. By someone other than my mother. I miss the cards from clients.  I miss the gratefulness of colleagues.

Now my days are ruled in large part by small people and a house. They are not that good at feedback. Really. So for instance I take it as a positive if the food I provide is eaten by everyone without comment. That is a win. Comments are usually only negative. The abode of course doesn’t speak. It cannot thank me for being dusted. The wall cannot provide gratitude for being painted.

And so the job is long on tedium and drudgery and short on thanks.

Therefore when my off spring achieve something amazing I feel not only the usual mother’s pride but also a slight sense of validation. I know this is wrong. In my heart I know that I am in no way responsible for the wonderful things they achieve. That they are their own people who work hard at something or are just (lucky them) naturally good at something else. But I feel it anyway.

This blog has helped. People like reading it, or so they say! I certainly feel less of a need to post about my children on Face book as a result. (Which incidentally is such a hot topic of debate- I personally love hearing about my friend’s children’s achievements because otherwise how would I know?-but I know opinion is divided).

So there you have it a mostly silent readership is providing that little bit of validation. I will still feel pride at all my kids achieve, who wouldn’t, but maybe I will see those achievements for what they are and not as a reflection of how well I am ‘performing’. And I will just be able to enjoy the moment.

Let’s Not Skirt Around the Issue — June 30, 2015

Let’s Not Skirt Around the Issue

ra ra

Today I am wearing a skirt. Those that know me in real life will no doubt be gasping in amazement. I don’t really do skirts. The last time I wore one unreluctantly it looked like that and it was 1983.

I am only ‘doing’ one today as I have just returned from a cervical smear test. I did ask myself if this was something I wanted to air in public (careful with the spelling there Sarah) but as the old smear test is just one of the many ignominies us women have to face why not just share that reality?

The invitations (yep that is how they word them- it stops short of black tie- as if that somehow makes it better) come round alarmingly fast and you sit there with a mounting sense of dread believing the NHS may have made an error in recalling you so quickly. But then you realise that actually, yes, last time you suffered this procedure one of your children wasn’t yet at school and they were sat asking awkward questions from behind the curtain. So although it feels like yesterday when you last chatted about the weather whilst someone slid a metal implement somewhere metal implements have no business being it really was three plus years ago. And so I have decided to just let it all hang out. Again.

Skirts are good for cervical smears. It avoids having to strip off your entire bottom half and with some delicate drapeage one can still believe one is retaining a certain air of delicacy. It’s all an illusion obviously but psychologically it helps.

I realise now that maybe this entry should come with some sort of warning. To be honest this whole piece is probably going to be too much for some of my readers. Mostly the male ones I imagine, especially those who are not yet fathers or those who stayed firmly at the head end during the delivery of their offspring.

You see the cervical smear is a total stroll in the park compared to the total lack of dignity that accompanies childbirth. Until you have had your feet in stirrups with some random doctor trying to repair your reproductive area you can’t say you have reached the bottom, dignity wise. To be honest after the twenty hours it took me to extrude eldest I would have let anyone have a go with that repair just so I could get some sleep…ahh sleep..well of course that didn’t happen. What? a student wants to come in?- hey! I am high on gas and air- bring in a whole class, just get me sorted!

Anyway before I lose loyal readers in droves back to the point (if I ever had one). My reasons for not wearing skirts then.

My main reason is legs. I do have legs. Two of them. Which I believe is the usual complement. I have found that my legs look best in trousers. Specifically jeans. Boot cut. Jeans are my wardrobe mainstay. I will venture into leggings and boots in winter and linen trousers when temperatures hit 25 plus. But usually I am in the old denim.

And so my legs are, how shall I put this, slightly neglected. It flits across my mind occasionally, usually when I see some yummy mummy wafting around in a frothy summer number, that I could don one of my two skirts. And then I remember the deforestation that that would entail. And I reach for the denim.

I do envy women who ‘sort’ themselves out every day. I just can’t fit it in. To be honest I sometimes don’t fit in teeth brushing until gone 11am. And before you suggest I get up earlier we are up at 6 daily it’s just my actual job (the kids) seems to get in the way. And don’t get me started on moisturizing. Really?

And then recently my house has been full of men. All the time. This week one was ensconced in my bedroom for two days from 8-6 and whilst I admired his dedication to building my new wardrobes it was quite off putting ablution wise.

Then as well as legs feet are an issue. Mine are utilitarian. Not pretty. One ex described them as flippers. Cheers. I am not one for nail varnish. A friend and I went to a spa in January and I still have a small bit of that polish on my big toe nails. It’s quite interesting to know how quickly one’s toe nails grow. I can’t find the varnish remover that I have had since 1986 (and that is not a joke btw) maybe it has all evaporated. So my feet and sandals are not really that good a combo.

And then in my line of work jeans are just more practical. I spend my days cooking, cleaning (husband will be spitting out his tea at this point), doing laundry, clearing up kid detritus, ferrying, hauling large musical instruments around etc and heels (with my legs flats and skirts would just be ugh) and floaty numbers don’t cut it. I had curry down my front and had managed to suck my frothy number up my Hoover attachment before 10a.m. this morning.

And then there are a whole host of other issues. The glare of my pallid legs putting motorists off their manoeuvres, the way the kids look when they see me in anything other than jeans (‘You just don’t look like you mummy’), where do I put my mobile phone, wind issues, co-ordination- denim goes with anything skirts need thought, my thread veins, my varicose veins, all my veins really, the ironing. I could go on.

To be honest it is possibly a matter of priorities. I was never one for prioritising my ‘beauty’ routine. And now my main priorities in life are sleep and this blog. So there you have it. Trousers all the way.

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