Parenting ‘Treats’

I’ve been a parent now for 13.5 years.  If you’d told me a decade and a half ago what I would now consider to be a ‘treat’ I would have laughed hysterically – but here goes!

Going to the toilet on your own.
Sounds simple – but happens rarely when your children are in the same house.  It’s like as soon as your bum hits the seat there is something that needs opening / closing / refereeing / discussing in great detail.

This Rosie Made A Thing card sums it up perfectly (she has some other EXCELLENT cards too, ideal for Mothers’ Day or my birthday next month!)

im-a-mum

Sleeping in your own bed with just your husband.
I drafted a large chunk of this blog post in my head last night whilst sharing a bed with a wriggly 5 year old who was really unsettled (last night before returning to school after half term probably being the main reason.)  In the last 13 years it’s been pretty rare to have an uninterrupted nights sleep where both the husband and I stay in the same bed ALL NIGHT.  On the rare occasion this does happen – it’s pretty much guaranteed that you won’t get 2 consecutive nights…

Wearing clean clothes.
Thankfully I’m pretty much past the vomit / snot / breast milk on clothes stage – but it was around for a long time.  I remember being asked in the hairdressers which was my coat – and I pointed out ‘the one with baby sick on the shoulder’. #classy

Going to the supermarket on your own.
Most of the time the weekly shop is conducted online – sometimes even from on the loo if you get a spare 5 minutes to yourself in there (see above!).  But on the odd occasion I get to wander around now it feels like I’ve been let out! And supermarkets now sell EVERYTHING – so you can pick up a nice, longline ‘Mum’ top with the kale and blueberries (ok, nuggets and oven chips!!)

Driving on your own
If we’re going on a family drive there has to be negotiations about whether we’re watching a DVD (Trolls is the incumbent at the moment) or listening to the radio.  Then there’s negotiations about what radio station it has to be.  None of this matters to the 12 year old who will be pretending he’s Stormzy listening to his phone and rapping along in the back anyway.  The 5 year old will have a melt down if anyone starts singing as she hates loud noise – and there will undoubtedly be a breakdown because a toy / snack / drink has been dropped and can not be retrieved. If the phone or Sat Nav dares interrupt a critical scene in the film or the chorus of a favourite track – then there is also likely to be stroppage.
So the BLISS of driving along alone with your favourite music blaring (generally Heart – don’t judge me!!) and the windows down is just fabulous.

[ETA – I was driving the big 2 home from the station tonight when Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey came on the aforementioned Heart  – and the 3 of us sang along at the tops of our voices. It was one of those real #winningatparenting moments – and better than being on my own most definitely.]

Not having to share your food
It doesn’t seem to matter what my kids order – they then decide what I’ve ordered looks way better.  The current case in point being chicken and cheese rolls from our local Chinese takeaway.  They are LUSH – so I ordered myself some as a treat.  The children had been asked what they wanted and at no point had mentioned chicken and cheese rolls – but of course, when they arrived they wanted them!  And being a good Mum (sometimes anyway) I let them have them.  So on the occasions I get to eat what I’ve ordered, it does feel like a treat (especially if I can actually savour it and if I’m not hiding in the utility room stuffing my face before anyone spots the food !!)

Watching an adult film at the cinema
And by ‘adult film’ I’m not meaning anything risque (hey, I’ve not even seen a Fifty Shades film!) – but anything that isn’t animated! A girls’ night out to see Bridget Jones was great – as I didn’t have to referee my friends as to who sat next to whom, there was no fighting over snacks, no wanting to swap seats or sit on my lap – and I didn’t have to take anyone out to the toilet half way through.  Perfect!

Packing for one
Usually my packing is for a family of 6.  The 13 year old will need to take at least 2 pairs of shoes per day.  The 12 year old will want to take his most recent remote controlled purchase.  Whilst the 6 and 5 year olds suddenly *NEED* every cuddly toy they’ve ever owned to come away with us. And the husband always packs loads of toiletries and belts (why anyone needs to take as many belts as him on holiday I do not know!)   Therefore I’m left with a corner of the case for my own things.  So packing for just me and the husband (and his belts) is great – but just for me is so decadent (and pretty rare!).

Reading a book
I remember ‘holidays past’ where half of my case would be taken up with books.  Obviously this is now a no-no (see above re packing!) and thank goodness for a Kindle which is a much more efficient use of space.  But many times the Kindle will return from a holiday fully charged due to lack of time to actually sit and read! The odd stolen afternoon with a mug of tea (or glass of wine) and a book or Kindle is just AMAZING!

I reckon most parents are pretty cheap dates now – with ‘treats’ not needing to be being wined and dined somewhere exotic, or splashing the cash wildly.  In fact based on the above I’d be happy in the Sainsbury’s cafe with my book for an hour, maybe stopping for a peaceful wee before heading home with the tunes cranked up in the car!!

Any ‘treats’ you’d like to ‘fess up to??

 

 

 

 

 

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Mobile Phone Drama Queen……

It’s the 13 year old that has chosen Drama GCSE as one of her options – but I reckon I could  give her a good run for her money………

Whilst we were enduring enjoying Centerparcs last week, I received a missed call one afternoon.  The phone reception at Longleat was pretty patchy – and I didn’t have enough reception to listen to the message.  I tried to call L back, but it went straight to her voicemail.

Now I’ve known L since she was born – she and my sister are really good friends, and her elder sister R is one of my best friends.  However, we don’t often catch up – and to get a phonecall from her is a little out of the ordinary.

When I couldn’t get her – I texted her to say that the phone reception was rubbish, so to text or Facebook if it was urgent.

But of course then my mind is in overdrive!  I convince myself that something shocking has happened.

I texted R to see if she might know what the matter was (worried that it might be her or her family that the call is about) and no answer.  Which clearly makes it worse (turns out she was at book club – but why let facts get in the way of a good panic!?!)

I then call my parents, as both families have been friends forever, but they don’t have a clue either. (Although today my Dad rushed up to L at church to find out what it was – I definitely get my drama queen-ness from him rather than Mum!!)

In the meantime I get a text back from L saying not to worry and she would catch up with me this weekend – which she did this evening.

Turns out she wondered if we still had our bouncy castle and if they could borrow it.  Crisis definitely over!

It did make me think, though, how being permanently connectable can actually cause issues – years ago the message would have waited until I got home and been dealt with then without over dramatisation in the middle of a forest!

Similar happened a few weeks ago, my 11 year old son had to get the train home after a school football match and it was much later than he normally would – so his sister and friends were long gone. Plus he couldn’t get to our local station at that time, and had to get off at one a few miles away – so it wasn’t his normal route.  To compound stress levels, his mobile phone had run out of power.  I sat at the station waiting to see him come off ridiculously stressed as to what might have happened to him, and how I couldn’t get in touch with him if he didn’t get off the train – but he did, and all was well.  It made me think that my parents had to parent without mobile phones and seemed to cope just fine!

I love my phone – and would be lost without it – but sometimes, they do make me even more of a drama queen than normal………………

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

When I was given this book to borrow by a friend she told me it was amazing – which always makes me feel a bit pressured reading a book.  And after reading the blurb – see below – I knew there was going to be a huge twist – so I had my wits about me from the start!

“Don’t Trust This Book
Don’t Trust These People
Don’t Trust Yourself
And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

Behind Her Eyes has been called the new Girl on the Train and Gone Girl . This is one psychological thriller you will not want to miss.

Louise
Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…
David
Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…
Adele
Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?”

behind-her-eyes

 

From the start I really enjoyed it (although was bit confused by the first 2 super short chapters entitled ‘then’ and ‘later’).  After that it settled in to a routine of the chapters being told from the view point of either Adele or Louise – and their complicated love triangle with David – Adele’s husband and Louise’s ‘Man In the Bar’ / boss.

It twists and turns and is very clever – a true psychological thriller.  There were times when you just wanted to shout at Louise to come clean or talk to someone – but still it kept you reading.

I can’t really give any more of the plot away – you need to see it unfurl yourself.

On the back of the book Sam Baker (co-founder of The Pool, and someone whose book choices I tend to agree with) is quoted as saying ‘Just when you think you’ve nailed it, Pinborough pulls the rug out from underneath you…. A tenner says you’ll NEVER guess this ending.’ and I would totally concur with her – and the hashtag also on the back #WTFthatending.

It’s so very clever – and I will definitely be searching out further books by Sarah Pinborough.

Another one ticked off the 2017 Reading Challenge in a number of possible categories!

 

 

 

 

Human Soup!

Yesterday there was a Tree Top Trek – today there wasn’t – thank goodness!

There was A LOT of walking (but that’s good for the Fitbit challenge I’m in – where my little sister is in marathon training and so the usual winner!) and also quite a lot of time spent in the ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’.

longleat-rapids

To be honest I would question all of the words used in that description.

I fear ‘Human Soup’ is a better description.  At one point this afternoon the rapids were shut because someone had VOMMITED in the pool (I am seriously hoping it was a baby and not some adult who’d been on the Jagerbombs at lunchtime?!)  But – they were shut for about an hour (I am assuming to give time for the sick to dissipate?!?  I am hoping there are protocols / chlorine levels to ensure this is dealt with safely?!?)

I am pleased to report I saw no evidence of vom floating about – but plasters / hair / unidentified floating solid things were all witnessed!

The kids adore the rapids – and despite being 42 and a size 18, I threw myself down them too (thankfully not landing on too many people in the process!)  I did, however, manage to flash most of Centerparcs after my boobs escaped after a particularly vigorous descent.

You will be pleased to hear there are no photos of today’s escapades!!

I also fear a rotator cuff injury and a mid back muscle issue – and all this despite the fact I only take responsibility for myself – with the older siblings (and spare one!) doing a sterling job with the little ones.

I also thought the pool water would be kill or cure for my horrific eczema – and at the moment it seems to be cure #winning

So no doubt there will be more Subtropical Swimming Paradise – Storm Doris Flailing Nightmare – tomorrow! #livingthedream

 

 

 

 

 

Tree top trek

Firstly – those three words are more difficult to say than you would expect – try it!

Secondly – I am never, ever, ever doing such a thing ever again!!

This week we’re spending half term at Centerparcs – ‘just’ us 6, with an extra one (whilst his Mum is busy kicking cancer’s butt!)

All of the kids wanted to do the aforementioned Tree Top Trek – but as 2 of the kids are under 8, that meant two over 18s were required. So I didn’t really have a choice…….

2 years ago for February half term we went to Bluestone in Wales, and I ended up a sobbing wreck and having to be helped off (and given gin afterwards) a similar rope course, so I should have expected the worst – but I really thought I would try. Friends are going through much bigger stuff than me being scared of heights – this would be fine……….

The boys did it first – breezing it, whizzing round, and as they did it so quickly, then being allowed to do it backwards just for LOLs.

the-boys

Then it was time for Daddy and all the girls (I am including myself in that – although at 42 I realise it’s a stretch!!)

The order to try the course was – Daddy, 6 year old, 13 year old, 5 year old – with me bringing up the rear.  The first thing was a zip wire.  The first 4 went off fine.  I dithered.  I had a pep talk off the instructors.  I had a pep talk off a random Welsh lady walking past. I dithered some more.  Then FINALLY I stepped off the platform.  I screamed – and I did not land it as brilliantly as the children had……

libby-landing

I then was stuck like a beached whale for quite some time – but eventually managed to haul myself up on to the platform.

I’d only signed up for this ‘fun’ because of the requirement for all under 8s to have an adult with them – I’m just not sure I was the adult that was in mind when setting this requirement!  Thankfully the 13 year old did a sterling job with her littlest sister.

13-year-old

I hated every single obstacle.  There was much swearing – inwardly and outwardly (sorry Centerparcs) and shaking of legs.  It was HORRIBLE.  Of course this just caused more hilarity for everyone else!  The 12 year old was videoing it and threatening to put it on YouTube – and there was quite a gathering of passers by to witness the spectacle.

At the same time I was trying to be encouraging to the children – particularly to the 5 year old who had only scraped the height requirement by a slightly bouffant ponytail!  At the climbing wall I said “Mummy is so  proud of you, you’re doing brilliantly’ to which the response was ‘Well, you’re doing rubbish Mummy”…….

libby-and-5-year-old

I dithered ridiculously over the climbing wall – absolutely petrified – and announced that my large breasts would inhibit my passing across the void.

libby-climbing-wall

I think my face pretty much sums up how I felt about the whole thing!!

But eventually – I just went for it – and I DID IT!  I loathed it.  I feel no sense of achievement – just a massive headache with the stress.  In fact – I couldn’t even face gin afterwards, that’s how bad it was, I just had a pint of WATER!!!!

I fear for the rest of the week I will pointed at around Longleat as ‘that crazy woman from the Tree Top Trek’!!

NEVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

erotic-stories-for-punjabi-widows

This is another ‘sneak preview’ of a book out later in 2017 – and I have to say, probably not one I would have picked up if it hadn’t been given to me in a pile of books to read.  However, it was sat at the bottom of the pile waiting to be read – and it fitted into a few categories for my 2017 reading challenge – so I decided to give it a go.

The only quote on the front of the book, which is an uncorrected proof,  is about ‘juicy, juicy aubergines’ – so I had a quick look on Amazon to see what they said about it:

“When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.

East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…”

I am lucky enough to have good friends whose heritage is Indian – much like the main character in this book – albeit Hindu rather than Sikh.  I’ve also spent some time in Southall – where the book is set – as I used to work for a company with a factory there.  So all in all, I felt a connection to the book right away.

Whilst the central theme of the book is the adult literacy class run by Nikki – there are other characters with their own backstories that thread through the book – with subjects such as arranged marriages and honour killings also touched upon.  It was quite slow to start – busy setting the scene and introducing characters.  Scattered throughout the book are, as the title would suggest, Erotic Stories for (and written by) Punjabi Widows. These are the results of the literacy class – and, whilst more Mills and Boon than Fifty Shades – are pretty explicit none the less!  Those Punjabi widows can definitely write a salacious story or two (and reference many different vegetables it would seem!!)

The other threads of the story build to quite a climax (pun most definitely intended!) and I found the last quarter really exciting to read.

Overall I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to – and thought it was well written, and really evoked the essence of what I expect an Indian community in London would be like.  I found the characters very believable, and the whole book warm, funny and entertaining.  I will definitely be seeking out this author’s back catalogue too.

Next time I have my sari redone by Indian Aunties in a hotel bathroom (true story!) I will be wondering what erotic stories they are busy writing!!