Skiing funtimes

I am renowned for many things – but my love of skiing is not one of them.

I blame this on not learning until I was nearly 26 – and I came to the French Alps for the Ski-llenium New Year (1999-2000, when everyone expected computers around the world to fail, and NOTHING HAPPENED……..)  Well – that holiday could generate a couple of blog post topics for sure  – but we’ll gloss over that for now – and just say, I’ve never really been bitten by the skiing bug!

However, my best friend from school has lived in the French Alps for almost 15 years – and we’ve visited regularly – so I have done the skiing thing a few times (although being pregnant and having a small baby were damn good excuses four times.  This is not the reason I had 4 kids though (that was because the oldest 2 got old enough to realise I was nicking their Easter eggs, so I needed to have some more!!))

This year, when arranging ski lessons, I shocked aforementioned BFF by saying I would have lessons.  There was an incredulous WhatsApp response – as if she didn’t believe me!!  Anyway – 4 weeks before the holiday I had to have surgery, and was advised not to do anything strenuous for 6 weeks – so skiing, for me at least, had to be cancelled!!! Obviously I was gutted (not!) and planned lazing in a deckchair with my Kindle and a vin chaud…………

Now it should be said that skiing holidays are not for the faint hearted!  A bit like Disney or Centerparcs you arrive home feeling like you really deserve a rest.

At this time of year EasyJet do a direct flight from BHX to GVA – so that makes life simpler.  The flight was straightforward, quick and arrived early!  Baggage reclaim was straightforward, and as it’s an airport we know quite well, we were quickly on our way to get our vehicle.  To house the 6 of us and our fabulous nanny who came too – we needed a large vehicle – and a Citroen Jumpy it was.  When we picked it up we saw it had German plates – but didn’t think much of that at the time.  Until we started driving through Geneva and the Haute Savoie in France.  People kept pulling out in front of us – and generally driving aggressively near us. Seems the Germans are not particularly well liked in this area.  I’m not sure if putting a Union Jack in the window would have made this better or worse?!?

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Mini bus selfie in Geneva traffic

We stopped at a huge Carrefour to stock up on essentials – milk, bread, yoghurt, tonic (had brought our own gin from home!) and prosecco!

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Essential shopping

We made it up the mountain in one piece (this is not always a given, 9 years ago we managed to drive an Avis rental into a ditch and write it off  on this same route – hence we always take out the additional insurance when hiring from Geneva airport!!) and to our fabulous apartment in St Jean d’Aulps.  We’d booked through Chalet des Fleurs – who had been great throughout the whole booking process – but randomly the apartment used to be a restaurant my BFF’s parents owned, so it was slightly surreal going back to it as an apartment!

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A sign in our chalet – it would appear they’ve met my husband before….

The apartment was walking distance to the telecabine (and on the first day to the ski shop to get kitted out).  We’d booked private lessons through the local ESF office – who were brilliant. The little 2 had an instructor called Fanny, which caused much amusement for my husband, asking if anyone had seen Fanny (honestly, you wouldn’t believe he was 46!!).  The big 2 had the instructor that I’d had back in 1999 – and they were much better behaved students than their mother, I don’t think at any point they cried, took their skis off and tried to walk back down the mountain……..

We had 3 days of skiing and lessons – the first day was GLORIOUS sunshine, with the other days not so great – but still a good time had by all.  We even got to ski with our friends kids – who are AWESOME – we are very proud of them (and my husband does try to pass them off as his kids when people are impressed by their skiing / bilingual-ness!!)

 

 

 

A local lady had stocked our chalet with food – a tartiflette (local potato / bacon / reblochon cheese deliciousness), a Thai green chicken curry and a spag bol for the kids – along with a selection of fantastic cakes.  This really helped in the evenings being able to feed everyone with minimal stress.  We also managed take away pizzas from a place in the village – and ate up the slopes at a couple of different places – La Licorne being the best by far!

We were only away Monday – Friday, and this worked perfectly!  3 days of skiing for everyone, so no one was completely broken and exhausted – which seems to be the order of the day when away for a week.  I would suggest that all 4 kids are probably better skiers than me now – but I’m pleased they all have this skill at a young age – before being lumbered with ‘the fear’!!

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All 4 kids and our fab nanny. All of them can now ski better than me………

 

This is in no way a sponsored post – we paid for the whole trip ourselves – just wanting to share the love!!

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21st Century Parenting – part 2!

I blogged the other month about how the Alexa had assisted in 21st Century parenting – well, last night we had another ‘benefit’ of technology.

The youngest shouted downstairs that she needed me to go and lie with her to go to sleep – but the husband and I had a few minutes left on a TV programme we were watching – so I hollered back up the stairs that I needed 5 minutes, and she should count 300 elephants (if she doesn’t count elephants she counts too quickly!)

Anyway – after about 5 minutes I headed upstairs to be told it wasn’t yet time.  I was confused how she was so adamant (or that she’d counted close to 300 to be honest) to be told she’d set the timer on her iPad for 5 minutes so she could check I wasn’t fibbing!!

Technology can be very useful – but also catch you out…..

 

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Nice necklace

This morning I put on a new necklace (I found it in my ‘holiday jewellery bag’ when we went away, and can’t remember when I actually bought it #whoops!)

On the way to the train station the 12 year old boy commented “Oh, is that a new necklace, Mum?”

I told him it was – thinking how he is pretty good for a pre-teen boy at noticing such things, and how it would serve him well in later life, until he followed up with

“It’s like something I’d make in DT……………………………

and I’m not very good at DT”

So, maybe not quite such a compliment.

(His sister then proceeded to help me take a selfie of the necklace with limited degrees of success!!)

21st Century Parenting

This morning the 6 and 7 year olds got their own breakfast.

“Me:  What have you had girls?

6 yr old:  We had plain yoghurt

7yr old: We tried those raspberries but they didn’t taste right but they were use by the 26th so we threw them away and had these other ones.  They were use by the 27th but they were ok even if that was yesterday.

Me:  How did you know what today’s date is?

7 yr old: (In a slightly ‘isn’t it obvious’ tone of voice) We asked Alexa….”

Alexa

 

Homing hamster?!?

Back in December I blogged about our escapee hamster – who managed to get out of its cage, through the entire downstairs of the house, up a full flight of stairs and hide in the spare room.

Well, this morning – it had done it again!  Escaped from it’s cage, roamed through our not insubstantial house, up the stairs and chewed at the landing carpet in an attempt to get back into the spare room.

Why – when we have 6 bedrooms – is that the one it wants to get into?  It’s never lived in that bedroom – and for a while did live in one of the other bedrooms, so you would think would have allegiances to that room if any.

It’s all very odd.  Like it’s a homing pigeon hamster……..

But at least we (I say we, I actually mean my husband!) knew where to look for it.  Oreo is now safely back in the cage – with a heavy weight on top of it!

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Cat stretch – or……..

This evening – as the courgette, cauliflower and chickpea tagine was simmering (I know, I am such a January cliche) – I decided my back would benefit from some movement, so I knelt on the kitchen floor and did a cat stretch – or as the kids call it, happy cat and angry cat.

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The 6 year old walked in and asked ‘Mummy, do you need to trump?’………………………………..

(The chickpeas will sort that out love – never mind the yoga!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once a Scout……

Came home to find the 12 year old (who was home alone for a couple of hours as he’s not back at school until next week) had lit the log burner, wrapped himself up in a blanket and was watching a film involving fast cars on the big TV – all he needed was a beer and he would have totally been his father!
(Possibly he should also have only been wearing his pants to truly be channeling his Dad!!)
I suggested that maybe he shouldn’t have lit a fire with no on else at home, to which he replied ‘Mum, I used to be a Scout’…….
Good job he’s cute……………………….
The Boy

You know you’ve been at Centerparcs Longleat for the week when…………

  • You’re not sure if the children have got mud or chocolate on their faces – and frankly you don’t care
  • Daddy has cycled the tagalong bike through every possible puddle in Longleat and covered the smallest child in yet more mud.
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  • The adults all have rapids related injuries from the swimming pool – where the kids are all totally fine!  Centerparcs elbow is a well known ailment in our house – and tends to have just recovered before the next visit!!Rapids
  • ‘Essentials’ from the Parcmarket on the last night are bread, milk and prosecco
  • You’ve had to stand on the top of the hot tub to get a decent phone signal to take a work call
  • You’ve hit your steps target on your Fitbit every day from marching from the outdoor activity center to the Jardin de Sports because your activity planning didn’t take geography into account
  • The number of parents growling through gritted teeth at their children ‘we’ve paid a lot of money to be here, you should be enjoying it’ has hit triple figures
  • You’ve got back ache from pushing a small child’s bike up (and down) hills because they’re only confident on the flat (of which Longleat doesn’t have much!)
  • The sauna has been used every day without fail – but only to dry towels and swimming stuff.
  • You’ve bumped into a friend from school that you haven’t seen in 25 years – but you’re both necking booze at lunchtime
  • The story about Mummy crying on the Tree Top Trek has been recounted to many staff and random strangers #thankskids
  • You’ve decided to try and ignore the fact that the pool is human soup and satisfy yourself that the chlorine levels must be fine as they’re making everyone’s hair a bit lighter too!
  • The house has had to be re-mortgaged so that the children can paint random pieces of pottery that will end up being stored in the loft within 6 months
    Pottery
  • You’ve realised by the end of the day that the changing rooms at the pool need a health warning – so you plan to go earlier in the day to avoid the strange things people leave in the cubicles…
  • You’re shocked at the number of people who don’t wear cycling helmets and don’t insist their children do – having witnessed first hand the accidents that can happen even at slow speed when coming off a bike I want to shout at them all (but have refrained!)  but for us – no helmet = no bike
  • You’ve decided that donuts are a perfectly acceptable breakfast and pancakes a perfectly acceptable lunch (apologies to the parents of the children we brought with us!)
    Pancakes
  • The highlight of the week was to be the full body massage you had booked for the last afternoon – but it drops off the Centerparcs app the night before – so you almost weep with relief when the lovely lady at guest services tell you that it’s still booked #phew (and it was WONDERFUL – thank you Molly!)
  • You’re sending your nephew home with trainers entombed in mud from where he rolled his quad bike – and potentially half of his wardrobe is in a similar state #sorrysister
  • You’ve made loads of brilliant memories that will be talked about for years – and you’ve already booked to come back again for New Year and are bringing some overseas Centerparcs virgins with you!!

 

Thank you again Centerparcs Longleat for a fab stay.  Last time we stayed in this lodge we went home pregnant with our 4th child – hoping we don’t have QUITE such a lasting memory this time!!!

The Tooth Fairy

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You would think after 4 kids the tooth* fairy for this house would pretty much have it sussed.  Yes, historically there have been times when she’s been too busy to remember to come, or the child hasn’t slept deeply enough for her to move the pillow (a particular favourite!) – but she’s generally delivered – and even replied to letters left for her when the lost tooth was actually lost (in reality swallowed!)

The youngest developed her first wobbly tooth on holiday.  I don’t remember any of the others being traumatised – but this time we had hysterical wailing “I want to keep these teeth forever” and a refusal to eat, combined with a stress that the tooth fairy wouldn’t be able to find her way to St Lucia (although she’s been to Dubai and France with us before!)  Anyway – after hanging on by a thread – literally – for the last few days, it finally came out on Saturday morning.

Now, on Saturday evening the tooth was carefully placed under the correct pillow (this worked as quite a bonus, as she’d wanted a sleepover in her brother’s bedroom – but the tooth fairy wouldn’t know that – so own bed it was!)

However, the tooth fairy had been drinking prosecco yesterday evening.

Right – at this point I’m going to stop writing about the tooth fairy as if it’s someone other than me.  If someone is old enough to find this blog via social media, they’re old enough to know that the tooth fairy isn’t real!  Which reminds me of when our eldest went on a school trip to London in Year 6.  One of the girls she was sharing a hotel room with lost a tooth – and D and the other friend sharing the room weren’t sure if this girl believed in the tooth fairy or not – but she put her tooth under her pillow that night.  D and the other friend waited until she’d gone to sleep and then swapped it for some cash.  But they were on a limited budget for the trip, and neither had a spare pound coin, so their friend woke up to a handful of silver coins!!

Anyway – back to last night.  I’d had some prosecco, and gone to bed stressing about remembering to do my tooth fairy bit – as the 5 year old was so excited about the whole thing.  However I then had a very realistic dream about being the tooth fairy (not in fancy dress or anything – that would be a totally different kind of dream) – and woke up unsure if I had or hadn’t actually done the swap!

By this point I was sharing the 5 year old’s bed (it happens most nights – sadly the ‘she’ll sleep through when she starts school’ hasn’t worked 11 months on!)  So, I felt around under the pillow and could find neither tooth nor cash – so was still non the wiser.  I tossed and turned a bit more and was stabbed in the arm by a tiny sharp tooth – so knew I hadn’t done it.  I’d left 2 pound coins (it’s 2 for a first one!) on the landing – so tip toed out to get them, and did the swap.  Phew!

So this morning at 7am we had a VERY happy daughter with 2 shiny new style pound coins burning a hole in her pocket.

 

* tooth said tuth not t-ooooo-th, as we’re all from Birmingham…..

New York – with kids in tow!

A few years ago the husband and I had a childfree break to New York – and it was fantastic! This time we took some of the kids with us – which had to lend itself to a ‘how a trip to New York differs when you take the kids’ blog post!

  1. Never trust a bargain airport aparthotel!!
    When the husband and I have had an early flight we’ve always stayed on airport.  But travelling with the kids meant it would have to be 2 hotel rooms – or try an apartment.  Yeah – I failed with that one.  The on site parking was good (although an additional overnight charge which I must have missed in the booking) but the slashed sofas / smashed window / ripped sheets / non functioning in room phone were all not the best – and cost almost £300.  But hey ho, you live and learn, and we definitely won’t stay there ever ever again!!
  2.  They will find the free wifi EVERYWHERE – so can be relied upon to provide this information quickly – be it the free airport wifi before the lounge, the lounge, the airport waiting for the baggage, the hotel whilst waiting to check in, random shops etc etc.  Lack of availability of free wifi and the possibility that their social media streaks may fail is seemingly a fate worse than death.
  3. Travelling in the back of a New York taxi in a heatwave is unbearably hot!  Now I don’t know this personally – because I always had the front seat (a ‘benefit’ of horrible travel sickness!)  but the drivers and I were always lovely and airconned.  However, the plastic screen between the front and the back means the cold air does not circulate – and so the back is ROASTING! We did find one driver who had improvised his aircon – which was very welcome!


    I can also say that it would appear New York cabbies don’t like taking 4 customers!  The huffing involved with removing things from the front seat seemed a regular occurrence.  We are also spoilt with taxi drivers in the UK – and especially London – knowing their way about – it would appear that anyone can drive a cab in New York, even with minimal grasp of English let alone any ‘knowledge’ at all!
  4. Siblings will always fight over who has the best bedroom!!  We stayed at The London last time – and after some research, found that their 2 bedroom suites were cheaper than 2 separate rooms in other hotels – so went for that!  Actually the living room was big enough to house a roll out bed – so once child could be in there and one in the separate bedroom to avoid fighting!   The only downside was that the 2 bedroom suites don’t have the view of Central Park that our one bedroom had last time – but that wasn’t a major issue.  Sadly we didn’t celeb spot anyone in the lift this time! (Telling Billy Idol about working in WHSmiths in Acocks Green still ranks as one of the most surreal and random moments ever!!)
  5. Sights that can be Snapchatted / Instagrammed are key to the children!  (I should have guessed this after a dog Snapchat filter was applied to the Mona Lisa in February!) They could tell what shops were nearby by the available Snapchat filters (who knew?  Well, who over 40 knew?!)

  6. You can take kids to lovely restaurants (The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, the King Cole Bar in the St Regis Hotel) – but they’d be just as happy at McDonalds or Burger King. #heathens

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    Helping his Dad with the world famous crab cakes!
  7. For us and people of our age you can remember exactly where you were when 9/11 happened (the husband was having lunch in The Sports Bar on Broad Street, Birmingham – I was at the office of the aerospace company I’d started working for 10 days before) but for the kids it’s history.  We went to the memorial and the museum – which are both really well done – but the emotions for the kids were very different than for us.

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  8. Things end up REALLY expensive when you have to double up – so, for example, taking a bike ride round Central Park.  We were right royally screwed by the 5$ per minute and 25 minute ride (which included the fighting amongst the drivers about whose fare we were, the stopping so we could walk through Strawberry Fields and then stopping at traffic lights IN THE PARK!)  Anyway – 250$ later, and me moaning about thieving robdogs to 2 large Eritrean gentlemen and the lesson has been learned!  Oh well – at least we got to pose in front of the fountain from Friends……..

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  9. You can’t wing it with Broadway tickets!  When the husband and I went to New York previously we watched The Book Of Mormon – which was BRILLIANT – but possibly the least child friendly musical ever!  So we planned ahead and booked tickets for School of Rock – which is equally awesome (but with a lot less swearing and rude stuff!!)

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  10. You might have the kids with you – but your husband will always be the biggest kid of them all!

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    Fountains at Battery Park
  11. You can persuade them to walk further when it’s something interesting – in this case, walking the Highline!  The 12 year old was insistent we did complete end to end too (he is slightly obsessive about such things – but it increased my steps for the day!!)

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  12. Even when your kids are 14 and 12 it’s still really annoying when the flight home is delayed – but at least they managed to sleep on the floor!!

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In summary New York was still so good they named it twice – just different going with the kids in tow – but so lovely to make memories. Also, when you’re used to 4 kids, going away with 2 was surprisingly easy – and we’ve already told the little 2 we’ll take them in a few years time.  I wonder what will have changed in New York by then (this is said with the context that when I went in 1999 I didn’t go to the top of the World Trade Centre as I wanted to go to the shopping mall underneath – and said I’d do ‘Windows on the World’ next time I went………………)