I have just woken up on the aeroplane. All is calm. Can’t believe I am actually
writing that. Mr G has fallen asleep on his daddy and Miss L is watching
Charlie and Lola on the ipad. Amazing. My OH was just stroking the little
scar G has from catching his finger in a door in a hotel room in
Cambridge once and his eyes started to droop. Bingo! Payback for him
waking up at 4am yelling Mama I guess. Not sure what that was about,
he has proven to us this week he doesn’t need to nap. If he naps he
kicks about in his cot til 8.30/9 pm wailing and demanding milk and
cuddles til he eventually gets bored and gives in. No nap and he is
catching flies by 7.15pm.
Sad to be going home. Had one too many g and ts last night and we tried to decide what to do about the old escape from suburbia
conundrum. Still non the wiser!
So I spoke to soon, the peace and quiet didn’t last and we even had to move seats after a little accident. Very relieved to be leaving the plane.
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I have that lovely warm relaxed feeling after a day in the sun and sea. Although we have spent most the day in the shade. In fact I am very proud of the complete lack of tans, much as I would love to look less pasty I don’t want to take the risk with the sun anymore.
I could do two week though, it would take a large amount a psyching myself up I think, which is scary-I think we are so much more trapped in our lives these days that it’s harder to leave them. But we must, it so good to chill out. Next time I want to leave iPhone with it’s email and facebook behind and totally go AWOL!
Two weeks really is the perfect time, it doesn’t matter what you do, if it rains a bit or you have a non day, a bickering day or a day that never starts. It doesn’t matter if you waste a few days getting your bearings, going to the worst cafe or missing the perfect beach. There is time to catch up and then there is still time to get into a lovely holiday routine. We all pretend we go on holiday to escape routine but I don’t think that’s true. We escape our old routine and then spend all our time seeking out new rituals. Mojitos at dusk. A dip after dinner. Paella by the beach at lunch. Ice creams at half three.
The other lovely thing is hanging round half naked. Obviously good for couples. But I am thinking more in terms of skin to skin contact that we are told is so important to babies. I think our little ones love it too and thereby something lovely about snuggling up together after a swim on a sunbed. We rarely see the kids naked for more than a second at home, it’s always cold. But it’s lovely to see them for who they are, for the little bodies I gave birth to. There’s something simple and bonding and not at all weird about your own naked kids. Although at the beach we were surrounded by old men, probably lovely respectable fathers and grandfathers themselves, but you feel you need to protect your kids. I took some pictures of Mr G in his highchair, he doesn’t have one at home anymore and he loves the one here. He was only wearing his nappy and it was lovely to capture his little tummy, his pudgy arms and and his little legs. If only to embarrass him when he is 18.
I love holidays. They are definitely the secret to keeping our family happy together.
Reading PopCo by Scarlett Thomas and wishing I had written it. Love all the themes, the complexity of the plot and the language. Its so full of fascinating stories, research, ideas and concepts. So modern and tied into contemporary consumerist culture – video games, virtual worlds, technology, marketing, but also steeped in history, e.g. world war two code breakers and pirates. As a parent I found the insights into the ways toys are marketed to children (and parents) thought provoking. I can see Miss L being sucked in to every advert she sees. I know she will become more media savvy with age and encouragement of course, but its so easy to get swayed by stuff you don’t need, even as an adult.
What I love about the book as a writer is the research. Apart from the mountains of research into popular culture I can also almost see how Thomas might have made use of random ideas collected in a writer’s notebook. The bizarre dream when she falls asleep to music, rather than just falling asleep. The description of the Icelandic girl’s attire or the way Esther re plaits her hair in between talking. Little details that are so telling. The sound of French and English voices dissolving in the sea like salt, during a pirate battle at sea. Newspaper stories and reports that have fed in. It is very research heavy, but so well written and intelligently crafted into a much bigger picture.
Whenever I come across a great author I immediately look at their profile, how old, do they have kids? And make comparisons. So Scarlett Thomas is a little older than me, but she already had eight novels under her belt. Does she have kids? I am not sure, I reckon not. Somewhere I recollect a quote about not having kids if you want to be a writer ha ha!
Holiday has been a good time to re fire my enthusiasm for writing. But a bit of a non day as far as holidays go. Very lazy though which is great, so actually probably a very good holiday day. Missing OH. Miss L feeling poorly and Mr G still full of green snot. Trip to the beach this am ended in lots of tears. Miss L just feeling poorly and missing Daddy I think. Lovely splash in the pool this pm and lots of reading and watching old kids TV shows OH has thoughtfully downloaded onto the ipad– Jetsons, Flumps, Dangermouse.
Loving the sound of the sea and hanging out in our swim stuff. Just wish there was more time to lie uninterrupted on a lounger. By the time I come to accept holidays aren’t what they used to be the kids won’t want me around. They’ll be off making new friends and trying to avoid me, or doing anything. At the moment that’s my main drive!
Sometimes its so hard to be a parent. I love my kids, they make me so proud, so happy. But I do think I spend a lot of time trying to avoid them, or rather trying to get a minute’s peace. At the end of the day I love looking back over what my two did, the magic moments, the ordinary stuff. I just wish I had more energy to be full on mum. But sometimes I think that’s not what they need either, they need space to be a kid, to find out themselves, to learn to deal with boredom, to be curious and inventive. Please don’t let me look back and regret I didn’t spend more time with them at this stage though. Aghh another tricky balance.
Daily writing habit is coming together nicely! Hope I can keep it up at home.
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Lovely morning playing and swimming followed by an alfresco dinner of pasta and melon which the kids wolfed. Just goes to show they will eat when its food they recognise. Felt like we were all in the swing of it. Next year we are definitely having two weeks, it takes a few days to get a routine and wind down. But still feel I have had time to think lots of things over that had been bugging me at home.
Sadly the perfect holiday picture was shattered by having to wave OH off from the door of our villa, to go to work. Felt very strange to be standing in sunshine surrounded by palm trees, rather than opening our door onto rain and a main road. God I could get used to it though! How cool to have the beach as your playground? Juggled both kids OK in the pool today, G seems happier staying on the side and Miss L can manage on her own with an inflatable hoop. Although G fell in the pool running round the edge. He had armbands on so came up v fast and I was seconds away. But made my heart pound.
Siesta time now. G has crashed, L is watching The Jetsons on the ipad. So glad we have it as even after years of being a media teacher a new telly totally throws me. The one in our villa is ancient and the satellite box is giving off tiny electric shocks. Didn’t realise what was happening at first, thought I had pins in needles in my fingers, then I realised I was leaning on the sat box and it was vibrating and pulsing. Lovely villa, if a little low tech.
L: Mummy can’t you work the telly?
Me: Just concentrating, give me a minute gorgeous.
L: We need daddy to fix it.
Me: No Mummy can fix things.
After ten minutes and a few shocks I gave up.
Miss L seems to be getting into holiday mood too, I think she really struggles with the change. She seemed to finally click today that the relaxing of rules means more than one treat a day but not every toy and treat that comes in sight. We realised last night that we had relaxed so many rules the kids had no idea what was what. Back to the old routine and they are just lovely. Blimey this holidaying lark is a minefield!
Before I do though, note to self – spend more time observing people in notebook. The way Thomas weaves these kind of observations in is brilliant. Read back over some I wrote in my notebook at the hospital with mum. Made much better characters than anything I could ever try and make up.
Determined I will get some sunbathing in while the kids are peaceful.
Survived a day abroad on my own. Got down to the beach and back with no tantrums. I swear they play up more when OH is here. Or I do.
They have been so good. Dead proud!
I even ordered our drinks in Spanish. Finally a waiter who seemed quite patient and willing to repeat things in Spanish for me, rather than buzzing straight into English. Will perhaps try food tomorrow, although the word for eggs is tricky and eggs have been the basis of all our veggie meals so far. My stomach feels so wobbly after only a week and a half of no exercise. Not a good sign, like I need to do sit ups every day for the rest of my life to keep the wobbles at bay.
Full of cold. Why does holiday spell immune system breakdown! Decided this holiday must have been more needed than I realised. Read about Eat Pray Love in OH’s rejected copy of The Times. I am a Guardian reader normally so it takes a bit of getting used to, but some good articles. Can’t believe the whole Eat Pray Love book/film/merchandise opportunity has passed me by. Majorly interesting. Especially a point about our grandmothers not having the choices we have now, and so not having the neurosis that goes with ‘should I have gone to art school’ type decisions. In some ways life is simpler without so much choice. Although my Grandma worked, I always felt she was better at finding pleasure in simple things cooking, gardening, crosswords, than my generation will ever be.
I keep typing Eat Sleep Pray instead, what does that say about me- hungry and tired? (Finding vegetarian food here is ok, lots of egg and chips. Salads are great though. Wish paella was more often found in veggie format).
Also read great article in Company mag about full time mums. Not my usual read either, but loved seeding a celebration of those who choose to mum and not chase everything or ‘juggle blackberries and baby bottles’ as the caption ran. It really is rare that’ just being a mum’ is celebrated and glamorised. OK so we know it isn’t a glamorous job really, but I really think the photos and profiles raised the profile of mothering. Some gorgeous shots of mums and their kids who were really loving their time together. And the message that it is fine to just be a mum, that it is a positive lifestyle choice, if that’s what you want of course. I particularly liked the profile of the ex journalist who used blogging as a creative outlet. But the message seemed to be that you needed an outlet as well as motherhood, a social network, virtual or otherwise.
Fully aware that these things are very personal choices. My own views on motherhood change weekly, sometimes I love not working, other days I feel like I am missing out. Last month I would probably have flung an article like that at the wall, this month it made me feel really positive about my status. (I am studying, after four years I decided I couldn’t just be a mum. But those four years were brilliant).
Both these articles raised different issues for me about the status of women in society and the complex new ground my generation negotiates on a daily basis. Hmmm, might try and find a trashy novel, this is meant to be a holiday after all.
Very snotty, have a full on summer head cold yuk. Have been sleepy, grumpy and irritable all day whilst trying to pretend it’s no big deal. Sorry lovely family. Still happy times and a reality check or two. Kids don’t like Spanish food so why bother, kids need a routine or they can’t cope. Tomorrow will see sandwiches, fruit snacks and no three hour hanging round the villa trying to pretend we don’t have kids to entertain! So weird to be on this kind of holiday with two kids. Have seen lots of couples with one under five but very few with two. Are we therefore mad? OH leaves for mid holiday business trip tom, feeling slightly apprehensive, mainly about the steep incline from beach to villa with kids and beach bag, but like anything I set out to do on my own with the kids, it will prob prove to be a really special bonding adventure. (In other words, a day of bribes and anything goes to survive 😉
Nearly lost all our swimming costumes to the washing machine today after I managed to pull the handle off trying to open it. Fortunately OH rescued the situation with a coat hanger and a torch.
Still working my way through the paper. Read about the pope, still trying to work out how I feel about his comments about atheism. Also the position of women and homosexuals in his religion and the safeguarding of children. The Times finally went in the bin after OH knocked wine over it. Not before I read about the spy found in a holdall. Blimey, poor bloke having his autoerotic sexual practices on page one of The Sunday Times. Wierd world. Anyway enough serious thought for one holiday, it really was time for The Times to leave my brain to mariande in sangria and trashy novels.
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While on holiday I decided to experiment with blogging by email to my phone. These are the resulting ponderings.
OH: I need suncream
Me: In the bag
Oh: How am I supposed to do my back?
Me: Perhaps if you get it out the bag first? (OH is afraid of the ‘Bag’, like the cupboard under the sink it is impossible to find anything easily, particularly if you are male and prone to looking once then giving up)
Oh: What’s the plan then?
Me: Lie here and try and get some peace?
Oh; Oh, OK. For how long?
Me: I don’t know
Oh: Just wondering what we are doing.
Me: Why don’t you try and read the article online?
A mojito by the beach was all it needed I am officially feeling the holiday spirit! Nerja is beautiful. Higgldy piggldy houses perched at funny angles on the cliff with a lily pond half way down to the beach and a lift. G entertaining everyone. Ran straight into a stream leading down to the shore after his dinner, fully clothed. Went home in his nappy. Then he found a little open window at his eye level in a gap under some steps, he chatted to a woman who I am guessing from the lovely smell and shower sounds was in her bathroom, who blew him kisses. Little heart breaker.
Miss L colouring for ages at the dinner table, funny to think a few years back it would have been just us getting drunk and watching the sunset, now we have colouring books and kids. But it’s still magic to be on a ‘proper’ holiday. Glad we came out of season/end of season, its just hot enough any more would make everything an effort.
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6.27am East Midlands Airport departure lounge.
After a 4 am start I am flagging. Miss L is very excited and has gone off to see aeroplanes with Daddy and Mr G. I am enjoying a rare moment of peace, although these moments do seem to becoming more frequent, ever so slightly. Thinking perhaps that we have turned a little corner with the kids. I may have spoken too soon and after three hours of trying to contain Mr G on our laps, we may arrive at Malaga slightly less composed. My OH is also being all hands on deck super dad in the knowledge that he has to abandon us part way through the holiday to return back to the UK for a work meeting. I am used to holding the fort though, little apprehensive but it will make a change to do it by the poolside in a bikini (bikini will probably be reserved just for hanging out at the villa as I have not quite seen off the extra half stone I have been trying to lose since Christmas).
Spanish time. Malaga airport. Miss L has “jet lag” and is trying to sleep on the floor and G has a second wind and is giving his teddy a ride around arrivals in his car seat. Both kids have been entertaining the very bored queues for car hire chasing each other round the vast space. Watching them reminds me that for them, their holiday has already started, and isn’t dependent on collecting the hire car and arriving at the villa. We could learn alot from kids, I joke about this to the woman in the queue who says she would love to go for a spin round the room on a trolley. The desires we suppress as adults eh? Flight went well, ipad and peppa pig and supportive fellow passengers helped enormously. G only really lost it on the descent, at which point he was distracted by looking out the window. Car hire queue is slow and OH just told me we can’t check in to the villa til 4pm. Still, another rare moment of peace while I blog.
Terrace outside the villa. I’ve had 3 G and Ts and the sun is setting. Villa is magical and safari themed. G slightly peturbed by the amateur art, especially the 3D fake fur ‘lion head’ over his bed, but enjoying sharing with Miss L and both are sleeping soundly now. Relaxed, happy and loving the sound of the waves breaking on the shore.
Magical weekend. Miss L’s fourth birthday. I dread organising parties. Even though I used to teach drama and spent lots of time directing big groups of children. Its different when its your own children, for some silly reason it scares me. So we decided to cheat and go for a bouncy castle. It turned out to be a very good idea. We kept the guest list simple, the cousins, children from next door and two friends from pre school. It was all miraculously calm. I think all thanks to the bouncy castle giving them a space to go crazy. We were very lucky with the weather, over the week the forecast changed from a very black raincloud into a warm sunny afternoon with showers (the showers, by some huge stroke of luck, never appeared).
We went old school with the party food: heart and butterfly shaped sandwiches, cheese and pineapple on sticks, sausage rolls, pomm pom bears, hula hoops, grapes, Fox’s party ring biscuits and fairy cakes. The cake was chocolate, Miss L spotted it in Baking with Kids. She had a great time covering it using four tubes of smarties and a grab bag of maltesers. She also decorated the fairy cakes with smarties and sprinkles. Making the sandwiches was a lovely family production line with Grandma buttering, me filling and Miss L and Aunty S cutting out shapes.
The bouncy castle meant we didn’t have to work out the logistics of party games and whether or not they would cope with winning and losing. Maybe next year. We did pass the parcel which sent my OH into a panic as he couldn’t remember the etiquette. No one really cared though. My brother (he’s 30) had the biggest tantrum. He was gutted he didn’t get a party bag as they had those old fashioned polystyrene glider planes in, and magnetic ladybirds/frogs. In planning everything I got totally nostalgic for the things of our childhood parties.
Miss L was very excited to have a her first ‘sleepover’ (her cousins slept in her room). Both the Aunties and Uncle A were celebrating birthdays too so the evening was a chance for the grown ups to party. Its didn’t take many drinks before we hit the castle ourselves. Proper nostalgic fun. Less than a minute of proper bouncing gave even the fittest amongst us shaky legs. God knows how they kids coped all day. We were excited to get our first lie-in in a while though as they all woke up late and then occupied each other playing.
Breakfast was fried eggs and left over baguette courtesy of Auntie S. Lunch was baguettes tuned into pizza slices. Baguettes, it turns out, are very versatile. Lots more bouncing on Sunday morning after an initial panic when the extension lead to the castle fused. As my OH replaced it with one supplied by our lovely neighbours, Miss L remarked ‘My Daddy knows how to fix all castles’. We all laughed, me especially as I had detected the fault and sorted out a solution, my OH simply plugged it in. I bit my tongue.
It was really sad that mum wasn’t well enough to come as I know she would have loved watching all the children. But Miss L was very excited to be taken over to Gran and Granddad’s house, without Mr G, on Sunday afternoon, for more cake and presents. We all curled up together on the sofa and watched Mum’s Fantasia DVD, the perfect end to a perfect weekend. My dad couldn’t get over how grown up Miss L was, how tall and talkative she was. All the way there and back in the car she chatted with me. I realised how much more complex some of the concepts she was trying to explain had become. Organising her new toys, school vs pre school, super hero’s powers, time, why Gran’s don’t have babies anymore. We talked a lot about time and growing up, not prompted by me. It felt like a really poignant end to a magical weekend. My little girl has three days left of being three.
Mr G looked out of his window this morning and was utterly shocked to find the castle had ‘Gone! Gone!’. I was proud of him too, he just pottered so happily all weekend, and even though he was too excited to nap, kept going all day. It was also lovely to see him being so relaxed and giggly with family he hasn’t seen for a few months.
After watching Dora Miss L wanted a map to get us to the shops. We got out the OS map of Nottingham (which we haven’t had much opportunity to use as we haven’t done much rambling since we had kids. In fact we never did much before, but it always seemed like a good idea). Then we got some tracing paper out. Miss L copied some roads and rivers and Mr G did some scribbles. The map is laminated to protect it I guess from those outdoor pusuits that involve getting wet and muddy (our map is still in pristine condition). But it also protected the map from colouring pencils, meaning they could both scribble to their heart’s content. A much enjoyed activity which we made up ourselves in the moment. I love those moments of random inspiration 😉
I have deleted several attempts at a post. So instead I am just going to start ‘In media res’ as writers are ‘meant to’, in the middle of the action where I am now, in the middle of an ordinary Friday. Except there’s not alot happening. I’m sat on the sofa in the living room with my laptop on my knee. Mr G is in his cot contemplating his post lunch nap. He is shouting ‘tractor’ repeatedly, his latest favourite word. Miss L is standing far too close to the TV, watching Dora and demanding food. This is my official ‘lunch hour’. Normally I tear round like a mad thing doing jobs and making lists of more things to do. Friday I like to take it easier.
The house smells of gas and rotten food. The fridge has packed up and the gas board are relaying all the Victorian pipework in our road. It has driven me mad all week ( I had no idea fixing a fridge could take three engineer’s visits over the course of two weeks) but now its Friday so I am prepared to ignore it all. Despite all the inconvenience, the workmen are proving to be great entertainment for the kids who got their Bob the Builder tool kit out and tried to join in. We found Mr G a pair of dugarees in a bag of hand me downs today so with his protective glasses round his neck and his screwdriver in his pocket he really looks the part.
Today I was reminded how rapidly life with children changes. This morning we had six other children to play and for the first time since Miss L was a baby, I actually managed to have some fairly uninterrupted chat with my friends. It had all gone ominously quiet so I popped up to check on the three year olds in Miss L’s room and was astounded to find them all playing mummies and daddies together really nicely. Blimey this feels like a big corner to turn. Downstairs the one year olds haven’t hit the snatching and not sharing phase yet so they were happily pottering round. I am starting to finally see some benefits to my children’s age gap (2 years).
This afternoon, (if we get the gas back) we are going to start cooking fairy cakes for Miss L’s fourth birthday party tommorow. I looked at her yesterday as I was putting her to bed and tried to see her as the little baby she once was. I just can’t see it anymore. But I see this amazing big girl who is full of ideas and questions. When she was first born I wanted time to stand still, for her to always be a baby. But now watching her grow up is amazing. My favourite thing about being a parent, and sometimes also the toughest bit is that you never know what they will do next. She has one more year before school. So starting this blog is also a way to record our last year at home together.
My last post was all about Dirty Linen, literally. A quick update on that front. Miss L is better and has been making up for being too tired to talk for three days by talking solidly. My OH got in and I ran straight out in my jogging gear desperate to leave the house for the first time in four days. So the cobwebs are blown away. We have dealt with the dirty linen and the stack of dishes.
Dirty Linen is also my novel. I wrote the first three chapters as an assignment for my OU course and have been trying to keep developing it. I found the most brilliant book for aspiring authors. it’s called The Weekend Novelist. Each chapter has really simple techniques to help you plan, structure and write your novel. Its like having someone holding your hand. Perfect. I had been trying to free write as much as possible chapter by chapter but kept getting stuck. I really like this approach, it’s methodical but still creative. I am hoping after all this planning the actual writing will be much easier.
Dirty Linen is set in a hotel, it’s about immigration, people trafficking and belonging. My friend who works in publishing keeps asking me what genre it is. I keep mumbling something about sort of thriller but not. We decided on Richard and Judy book club.
This post has been dusted off again as part of the Blog Gems linky at The King and Eye. Have a look at other bloggers’ Blog Gems here: