Tonight Matthew I am Jamiroquai

It’s Friday tommorrow, time for some random linky fun…two linkys for the price of one no less.  Reasons to be Cheerful and Flashback Friday.

I’m grateful for the fun I have had looking through some old photos this week. 

Following on from my Gallery post last week, where me and some school friends payed homage to our indie heros, here I am with a very good friend from Uni paying homage to Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, and Bjork.  As you can see I was a Drama student and took getting into role very seriously.

I’m grateful that my uni friends continue to be a special part of my life.  ‘Bjork’ texted me yesterday in fact.
I’m was also so grateful for the cupcake all the mums got given at playgroup yesterday in honour of Mother’s Day.  What an unbelievably lovely gesture.  Talking of which, when I collected them from nursery, G had made me a beautiful daffodil card and L had made a gorgeous clay model of me, with a label she had written herself.
And I am so unbelievably grateful that I have finally submitted my Open University Creative Writing Dipoma assignment.  Late, for the first time ever in my life (I know, swot), but I had a good excuse.  Only two more to go.
Now I would be really grateful for a big G and T.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

One Little Word

For a while an idea of working out what on earth my blog is about by asking other people has been floating round my head.  When I taught Media Studies I used a technique with my students – supposedly nicked from marketing – you have to choose just 5 words to define your brand.  Anyway, the idea will have to keep floating because the lovely Mummy from the Heart started a tag on similar lines but with a much lovelier backstory and using just use one word.  Here is how she explains it:

‘This got me thinking about an email I received a few years back, one of those circular things that I normally hate but this one I loved and have never forgotten.  It was about the power of positive affirmations and how knowing what positive things others think of you can boost your own self-esteem.  It talked of an inspirational teacher who got all her children to write one positive word down to describe the other children in the class and then they had to hand them in.  The teacher then collated all the positive words for each child into a special sheet for them and handed it to them to read and keep.  They learnt that their peers saw them in ways they had never imagined and it had an immense effect on them.  The story goes that one of them died and a number of them attended the funeral and it was found that they all still had their lists 20 or so years later as they had been really touched by this loving gesture.  Did this really happen?  Who knows, but I love the sentiment of this story and therefore it does not matter to me if it was real. Well, what about if us bloggers and virtual friends did something similar?’

Sounds great to me.  Superamazingmum tagged me, and she’s a lady who already has two great words in her name which she certainly lives up to. 

So who to tag? Recently on twitter I have been talking to @mama_andmore @mumrablog @susurem @theboyandme @hazel and blue @lincolnandme @helloitsgemma @honestmummy @marisworld @muddleduck @elsieanderton @scottish_mum @lauraawntym @mum_themadhouse @manicmum @eviegracesmummy
And here is a pile of free tags, go on help yourself, have one, you know you want to join in on this.
So do please leave one (positive) word to describe me, and leave me a link if you want me to come and return the favour. How lovely is this?
 Thank you x

Achey, Afraid and Absorbed – Reasons to be Cheerful

I ache. That’s a good thing.
I’ve been exercising lots more and it’s actually really good to feel my muscles saying hello again.

Feel the fear and do it anyway
Today I have booked to go an an early years storytelling course. For no real reason other than I fancied putting some of my old skills as a drama teacher back into use. It’s good to invest in yourself and to challenge yourself.  I’m scared at the thought of performing again, but I know I will love it once I get into it.

Sunshine. Being outdoors. 
There is a part of me that wants to stop all the green shoots growing and tell them I’m not ready to come out of winter, that it’s not fair for the garden to be alive when my mum isn’t (she died in January). But you can’t beat sun on your face, and it’s nature’s way of coaxing me to keep up. I treated myself to some purple sunglasses today to mark that very thing.

I really love the park, even if my 2yo frightened a 1yo with a scarily overprotective mum.  I walked away calmly and didn’t let her bring me down.  We hid in trees, collected daisies and befriended a dog.

We spent this afternoon in the garden, the kids playing in sand and water and eating tea in their ‘tent’ in the garden.  For the first time in ages they were completely absorbed without me.  I cant tell you how nice that was, for all of us

Hope everyone else has a lovely weekend. Look forward to hearing other people’s reasons to be cheerful.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

My Memory Book

One of my tasks for this month was to help my 4yo daughter create a Memory book about my Mum who died in January.  Luckily her keyworker at pre-school has kicked this off, as it was a job my subconscious kept putting off.  Must find the perfect scrapbook, must print off all the photos and put in order first, must set aside a quiet time.  I am a planner, and its not always a good thing, because sometimes ‘planning’ slips into terrible procrastination.
Miss L, like Mr A, is much more flexible, woe betide anyone who puts obstacles in the way of them starting a new project immediately.  Miss L told her keyworker she needed to do the memory book there and then.  The introduction she narrated to her keyworker was mind blowing.  Some of the memories weren’t altogether memories, they were special things she imagined doing with Gran.  It’s really helping her.
Miss L also started a ‘remember garden’ a patch of the garden where she can plant whatever she likes (sunflower seeds in early february, apple pips, pre cut flowers, lego, pirate treasure), it’s decorated with plastic insects because my mum had a lifelong fascination with them.  Again, ‘later’ was not an option, it had to be done ‘now’. 
Grieving alongside a child of Miss L’s age has been therapeutic in a way I would never have anticipated.  Getting stuck and procrastination is not possible; a child’s grief needs to be tackled head on.  There is also lots of opportunity to be creative.   Last night I started my scrapbook too.  I have accepted there is no order to it, it’s a place to stick things in or note things down as I come across them, because the grieving process is a series of random rememberings. 
I started with the homemade gift tags which my Mum put on a bagful of presents she gave me to help me through my first term at university.  The bag was decorated to look like a prescription from the chemist and each gift had special instructions for the kind of circumstances in which I was to open them.  ‘Feeling stressed?’ or ‘No money want some fun?’ 
Mum was a genius at helping us to manage change, I know how much she would approve of our memory books.
Are you a planner or a do-er?

New Musical Education

This week’s theme at The Gallery is Education.  I will never forget my journey of New Musical Education.  Early 1990s.  The Madchester scene was huge… The Charlatans, Ride, Happy Mondays.  Out of Stourbridge came Neds, The Wonder Stuff and PWEI.   I had time to hang out in record shops and music was my life.  Here I am (on the left) with two friends from school in our ‘Madchester daze’, swotting up:

And here we are recreating one of the many posters that adorned our bedroom walls.  I think we are trying to emulate either Ride or The Charlatans:

And here we are taking ourselves very seriously in a homage to Neds’ Atomic Dustbin (I’m on the chair):

As teenage girls are prone to do, our friendship burnt bright, saw us through the heady days of our early teens and then sadly burnt out as we moved on to new friends and boyfriends.  But I will never forget the gigs, the shopping, the poring over the NME, the day dreaming about floppy fringes and the huge presence music had in our lives.  Posted by Picasa

Metal Mummy’s Movie Meme

I feel very guilty I haven’t taken part in this fab movie linky yet.  Especially being an ex Drama and Film Studies teacher.  But although before children I used to be able to deconstruct films in a jiffy, I am actually not a movie buff.  I also have film induced narcolepsy (self diagnosed, but a condition verfied by discovering fellow sufferers Very Bored in Catalunya and Nickie at Typecast).

This week’s theme is Leonardo DiCaprio.  I like that theme alot, because I also can’t remember film stars names, so Metal Mummy has made that easy for me.  And as soon as I went to look up his films to jog my memory,  Blood Diamond jumped out at me. 

Behind all those sparkly diamonds is hideous bloodshed, something I became very aware of as I struggled to find conflict free stones for my wedding ring.  This film came out in 2006, shortly after we got married, and is set in Sierra Leonne where civil war rages for control of the diamond fields. Rebels and the government battle with each other for diamonds to pay for more weapons. 

DiCaprio’s character is a smuggler, who is diamond hungry and sells weapons to both sides.  I really liked the way as an actor he conveyed all the contradictions in his character.  There’s a scene at a beachside bar where Di Caprio meets a journalist trying to expose the trade in conflict diamonds, he tries to justify his involvement to her, makes the complexities of the situation so clear, but it’s obvious too he is falling for her.

The final events of the film are  based on an actual meeting that led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds.

 Smuggling, war, love, politics, news, diamonds.  Kept me awake. Literally and politically.

Listography Top Five sweets

The very sweet Kate Takes 5 has a listography theme of top five sweets this week, which has prompted a trip down memory lane.  My local sweet shop as a child looked nothing like this picture, it was run by a witch with nicotine stained fingers and nails like corkscrews.   We were only allowed to buy from her if the sweets came wrapped.  We snuck in to buy candy cigarettes, but for proper sweets we had to go further afield.  

I still remember the excitement of mum taking me to the newsagents to buy me 2oz of cough candy twists in a little white bag.  They were the first boiled sweest I was allowed, and this sweet shop rite of passage was made even more special because mum took me to the newsagents without my little brother.

I think my dad introduced me to aniseed balls. Many happy hours of turning my tongue red and crunching away to get at the seed in the middle.  Wondering in some Willy Wonka type fantasy whether if I planted it, it would it grow into an aniseed ball tree.

Mum introduced me to sherbet fountains too.  I was always disappointed that the licorice straw didn’t quite function as it was supposed to.   I soon discovered sherbet dib dabs did exactly what they said on the packet though. 

My grandparents always had polos around.  I don’t know why having a hole makes them better, but it is a piece of genius product design.  A classic sweet. 

The best thing ever as a very little girl was those sweetie necklaces.  Jewellery and sugar,  now you’re talking to the thirty three five year old in me.

The Gallery Trees

Tara wants Trees for this week’s The Gallery.  Trees, you have to love them because they have so many possibilities.  The best tree I have ever found is in Ilam, Derbyshire.  A huge beech tree which a whole family can hide under.  Ilam has the most stunning backdrop of colourful trees in Autumn.  But what these photos show is that trees just don’t stop giving.  There’s den building:

Or our latest favourite, pretend campfire making:

Or the woodworm holed, worn Victorian kitchen table which is inspiring the short story I am writing:

To the pages I am scribbling the story on:

Trees are great.  We need to protect them.

More trees this way:

After Silent Sunday, More on Monday

Some interesting debate about the Silent Sunday rules yesterday on Twitter.  I like the rules a lot.  One photo.  No words. 

Yesterday lots of words snuck in.  Him up North had two photos, but they were almost seamless in their impact.  I think constraint builds creativity, but I am also a rebel at heart.  So if there’s a way to bend the rules I will.

So here is More on Monday, because my son and spaghetti is neither cute nor adorable.  No, he was like a whirlwind on speed on Saturday, when H who is his friend, had her third birthday.  The troughs of spaghetti and jelly were part of her really lovely celebrations.  Here’s what happened next as captured by H’s Dad.  That’s me trying to defend myself, the other guests, the garden from the beginnings of a spaghetti explosion.

It was a really messy fun party activity, a great way to absorb 2 and 3 year olds and enjoyable to go to what seems to be sadly becoming a thing of the past – a children’s birthday party at home.  Thankfully other parents kindly pointed out bits of stray spaghetti in my hair over the course of the afternoon.

Here is gorgeous H with her cake, which was a masterpiece.  It’s a sheep and from the brilliant book Birthday Cakes for Kids by Annie Rigg and Sandra Lane, a collection of really achievable cakes with a wow factor.  I reckon even I could pull them off, and I have absolutely no patience for cake decorating. 

So More on Monday.  Behind the scenes of Silent Sunday…more pics…more tips…lots of cheating.