Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Winters Park

Even on cold winters days it's good to just get outside and walk around somewhere natural.The trees may be bare but those bare branches are so fascinating to look at,all twisty and angular and set against beautiful pale blue winters sky they are stunning.

Also the bareness of the branches lets you see,quite clearly,birds. Last week at the park Chips and I noticed these birds ~ pigeons. At first there was just one pigeon who pecked around on the wet squelchy grass but it was soon joined by a friend who began to follow it. They played a game of tig,or so it seemed,one bird would fly onto a branch and the other would follow it,then the first bird would move to another branch and the second bird would follow. This game went on for a while and,we,were engrossed in watching these two birds interact with each other. Nature at its best. Thats why it's good to get outside,you see interesting things and learn quite a bit too.

The park was muddy but bright and sunny enough to able to play and wander around without shivering or feeling unbearably cold.

To say it was the middle of winter there were quite a few people there. A lady walking a boisterous little puppy who thought everybody was his friend. The local football team who carried the goal nets down the steep hill and discussed which pub to meet at. And a few solitary parents with children. Nobody stayed long today but it was good to get out and look around and to see the children play.

Unfortunately the zip wire was tangled.It had a right knot in it. And I'm not good at untangling knots. I did try but just couldn't do it. And Chips tried to sit on it but it was too high,no zip wire for Chips we thought,until a clever mum came and untangled the heavy chain. That lady and her daughter didn't stay long but they gave Chips the chance to play on the zip wire and he did,for ages,so thank you kind chain sorting lady.

Such fun was had on that zip wire. For a lot of the time Chips was on his own but another boy did eventually wander over and together the two boys silently worked out a fair system of sharing the zip wire. Unspoken codes of sharing and lots of cooperation. I sat on a bench and watched.

And it was a good job that the ground was muddy because mud is soft...dirty and sticky as well but soft and judging by the amount of times Chips hit the ground this was a good thing! It's hard to hold on a zip wire when the chain is freezing cold and your hands are slimy with mud. It didn't stop the fun though. I was also glad of the thickness of his new coat,it provided a perfect soft landing for Chips. I'm not sure if that was what it was made for but hey if it works don't knock it!

After much fun we started the journey home and as we strolled through the trees and down the curving hill we saw the church looking so pretty nestled in the trees.
We arrived home as muddy as anything and had to strip off and get clean. But after half an hour,or maybe even less,the brightness of day had changed,grey skies had replaced the bright blue sky that we had walked under and you would never have known judging by the sky that it had ever been bright. 
I'm glad we made the most of the blue.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

 Flashes Of Good
On the face of it today seemed grey and miserable. The sky was heavy and grey and we woke to the sound of heavy rain on the window pane. Another wet walk to school. Wet coats,wet bags and maybe even wet socks,depending on how many puddles my youngest son had managed to accidentally tread in. Amazing really,you'd think the puddles had magnets that were pulling Chips into them or little voices that were calling "Hey,come and walk through me,you know you want too,c'mon I wont wet you,trust me" and then kablam as soon as Chips went within a hundred mile radius of them he would develop wet shoes,wet socks and wet feet that would stay wet 'all' day long. Wet school runs are not joyous. Especially in the mornings.
But,can you believe this,the rain actually did stop before the school run began.Not entirely,there was still a few stray raindrops,enough to put my hood up for,but compared to the previous heavy downpour it was nothing. We were able to chatter our way down to school/work without too much discomfort.

Flashes of good.

The day proved busy,as normal,no sooner had we arrived at my workplace then Chips headed off for his school and the care I saw from his friend and my friend as he walked off was touching to say the least. That boy was totally surrounded by love. And I got a glimpse of it,lucky me.

Flashes of good.

Funniest thing about it though,was Chips response to the situation,boy oh boy did he lap it up! Typical male. I don't know what was best to see,the absolute care or the yes mollycoddle me look from my boy. Ahh,everybody needs some fuss sometimes,it never hurts to be loved does it.

This week at work I have been making porridge,yep it was Goldilocks week. Porridge,Porridge,Porridge and then even more porridge! Enough porridge to feed The Three Bears,Goldilocks,Red Riding Hood,Cinderella,Jack and his Giant,The Big Bad Wolf and Class One too.

The start of the porridge making was bad,for lots of different reasons,all of them out of my control. But the childrens reaction to the porridge making was good. So very good. Enough to make me think how lucky I was to work with little ones. Their little faces as they measured out the oats and mixed the milk in and then decided whether or not to add honey was more than a pleasure to see. And as each day went by, the porridge making got better. And we laughed and mixed and asked such good questions and had a whale of a time. From something that began terribly such good came out of it.

Flashes of good.

That afternoon after school was swim night. I love seeing Chips swim but it's one heck of a hectic night. This has not been enhanced by the moving to four o'clock swim lessons. Let me tell you about my thoughts about four o'clock swim lessons.

Basically they are hell.

That says it all in four short words. Now let me tell you why I think this is so.
Well it has to be the changing rooms or should I say....what goes on in those changing rooms. There are children crying,mums yelling and shrieking,smacks,it's like a war zone. Chips and I stand in amazement. I am no means a saint in those changing rooms,sometimes I hiss at Chips,not often but it has been known and sometimes I roll my eyes at him and sit on the bench and zone out while I let him get on with things,this is usually when he is unreasonable about getting dressed or undressed or about the 'swim hat' but it's nothing compared to what I hear coming from the other cubicles. Sometimes I do a funny little thing of pointing out other styles of parenting to Chips ( I know this is not good but yep I do do it )
 I will say "You think I'm mean? Listen to the changing room over there"
I can understand why this happens. Those changing cubicles are horrible. Some are very small and it is so incredibly hot in there and then you are faced with a sopping wet child who is pressing all your buttons,it's enough to make a saint swear. And 'four o'clock' compounds this situation. Four o'clock does not give parents much time to pick their children up from school,travel to the swimming baths,get their children into their cozzies and stood at the side of the pool ready to swim. And four o'clock does not give children time to meander up the school drive,get down to the swimming baths,have a drink,snack,a toilet visit,take the school uniform off,put the swim stuff on and be stood at the side of a hot,crowded pool ready to concentrate and swim. No time to unwind. Tempers get frayed. And four o'clock swimming commences,in it's own unique fashion.

So when I picked Chips up that afternoon it was all systems go as we shot up the school drive. There were puddles everywhere and Chips made a good job of balancing on the edges of the puddles,not quite going fully into them but getting as close as close could be without actually stamping right through them and causing his mummy to yelp. I did actually smile at this and wonder about what the fascination with puddles was all about. Halfway up the drive Chips passed a school mate and they began to chatter together. I walked behind them and smiled as they became engrossed in a conversation,I could only catch drifts of what they were talking about but I loved the way they were deep in conversation,one doing more of the chattering and the other doing a lot of listening with the occasional comment thrown in. There heads were almost touching as they walked on putting the world to rights. Big rucksacks on their shoulders,padded winter coats,woolly hats and scarfs wrapped round their necks. They eventually said goodbye and I smiled to myself and thought how lovely it was to see children talking to each other.

Flashes of good.

At the swim baths Chips got it into his head that he would like to have a paddle in the fun pool before his swimming lesson. I said no as we hadn't paid to go into that pool and we obviously did not have the time to mess about but when my back was turned the little monkey dashed off and went into the fun pool and he slipped and fell. And it shocked him and I wasn't there. I was putting our stuff away in the locker. How many times has his mummy said not to run in the swimming baths - tons! By the time I got to the swim lesson pool there was a very bashful little boy waiting for me and it took all my strength not to say 'I told you so' but to be honest I think the lesson had been learnt. It shook me though,I hate falls in the swimming baths,the floors are so hard and unforgiving. Thank goodness there wasn't too much damage done,just a few aches and a shook up little boy who now knows why we don't run on wet floors. Luckily the fall didn't affect the swimming in any way and Chips swam really well,it was breast stroke week,never a easy week,Chips did great circular movements with his arms,the best I have seen him do. He tried really hard this week and I enjoyed half an hour of watching my boy swim.
 Precious time,precious memories made.

Flashes of good.

Tonight as I was mulling things over I came to the conclusion that no matter how much we try to protect our young ones from hard floors or wet soppy puddles,life will always lead them to these situations and there they will learn their own lessons. Luckily today's learning curves were small and there was no lasting harm done. And I do smile and wonder who learnt the most today....the boy or his mummy....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ben and Jerry
I think Ben and Jerry are the luckiest guinea pigs in the world. Truly,I do.

Not only are they looked after so well....they have over 200 children who love them and a school who makes the most fuss over them that I have ever seen.

Ben and Jerry are the school guinea pigs. They were bought last year when they were just tiny little babies.

Straight away the vibes came through that these little fellows were going to be special. First was the decision to actually have a school pet,the children were consulted,the parents were consulted and there was the over whelming response that 'yes' let's have a pet. Then it was what sort of pet shall we have. When that was decided,the school council went and chose two little guinea pigs...brothers, and bought them back to school to live in their fabulous massive palace of an hutch.

Immediately these guinea pigs captivated the school,children,teachers and parents alike. We then had the vote for what to name them and in the end they were called Ben and Jerry.

Every week a different class looks after Ben and Jerry and the children take this role very seriously. They have to clean and feed them and of course snuggle and stroke them. Then someone is chosen to take them home for the weekend.

The guinea pigs and their antics regularly appear on the school newsletter and are a real talking point at school. So when it came to it being their first birthday I might have guessed it would not go un-noticed.

And it didn't!

The children who have school dinners were treated to a special party kind of meal and the packed lunch children were asked to make their lunchbox partyish so they could celebrate Ben and Jerry's special day. Chips took this very seriously and I packed his sandwich box with added special foods like a little sausage roll,a cheese string and a tinky little Cadbury Heroes fudge bar - it looked fuller than normal and relatively partyish. Chips also took two carrots down to school for the birthday boys.

That evening as the children started to drift out of school I noticed they were all holding something in their hands and when Chips appeared at my side I saw what it was. It was a keyring with two pictures of Ben and Jerry in it and the amusing thing was that the guinea pigs were in all different locations around the school.... on the trim trail in the playground,on the keyboard of a computer,on the piano,on the tyres outside in the playground. I couldn't believe my eyes at the photos of these two little rascals and I found it hard to comprehend just what time and care had been taken by the staff at the school. Young Chips loves his keyring and I must admit that I really smile whenever I look at it and whenever I think of how much those two guinea pigs are loved,by children,staff and parents alike,in our eyes they are stars!

Oh and Chips informed me that the head teacher went to Tescos to buy Ben and Jerry a cake but as guinea pigs don't eat cake she brought a pepper instead and a candle that said one. The children sang happy birthday to Ben and Jerry and even played party games 'pin the tail on,wait for its not the guinea pig as I wondered if it might be,just the normal donkey edition! And Ben and Jerry were taken round each class in a special box covered with birthday wrapping paper.

In the days of increasing pressure for school children,tests,SATS,less play,earlier entry into schools I found it so refreshing to see such a fuss made of two tiny animals,to me this is the stuff of childhood,thank you Ben and Jerry for bringing fun and care to our school,no wonder the children love you!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Copse
 Think I found a copse.

What is a copse?

I looked it up in a dictionary and it said;

''Copse a thicket of underwood and small trees; the underwood of a wood or forest''


 ''a small group of trees''

 Its really pretty up here,we dont come up here often

But I think we should.

It has some play equipment nearby,so Chips can swing
and trees that he can climb and I would like to
see what the changing seasons bring to this little copse.
Maybe its time to make this place our own

Sunday, January 12, 2014

School News #1
So a different date to write on top of the school work - 2013 gone - welcome 2014.

We are now half way through the school year,yep that's flown hasn't it! Up here we have two short half terms to do and then Easter. Funny isn't it that we are welcoming a new year in but the academic year is already half way through.

It's been a hard push for us to get back into the school routine. We are tired,mornings have not run smooth,tempers have been a tad sizzly and emotions have been bordering on teary and I'm not clarifying just who I'm talking about here!

But back to school it is.

Big news this week from Chips neck of the woods is that there is a new boy in his year. This has kept Chips and his friends talking. A new boy is a big deal when you're nine.

And talking about being nine,the other subject that has been cropping up constantly is 'birthdays.' Lots of children are turning ten this term and the talk is parties. And what parties they are talking about! Trips to Lego Land which is miles away from us,many,many hundreds of miles away from us. And someone is talking about taking a friend to Florida at Christmas,hmmm. Where else can they think of for parties and trips out? It IS Chips birthday this term though so he is beginning to plot and plan adventures. Maybe his mummy needs to get her thinking cap on.

Funny bit of walky home school run chatter was my definition of J's fab Christmas present - the iPad Air got rechristened the Air Pad i! This made the kids giggle! Aren't mummies daft sometimes!

All the paraphernalia of school is drifting in as well. Namely,homework. We have spellings back,maths homework and wait for it..... a new extended homework project,. It's about The Victorians this time. Please let me be organised this time,please let us do this project with grace and not with a sense of dread as the deadline looms. We will see!

Chips has new people on his table,it seems Mr P has had a shuffle round,I'm hoping the children gel and are able to work happily together ~ fingers crossed for this.

We are also dealing with card swapping. This is a tricky business and needs to be handled with care otherwise someone comes out of it feeling like they have been had and at home we don't want it to be young Chips yet again. It's causing quite a few headaches at the moment as we try to explain how to be a successful 'swapper.' Not easy for a innocent young kid especially when faced with street wise peers. Tricky.

Oh and we have a new coat. It's big and chunky and Chips looks as snug as a bug when he puts it on. I'm really pleased with it. And in this weather it's needed! It's been so cold this week and most days we have had rain,so that cost makes me feel happy as I know that Chips is as protected from the elements as possible. What with his big coat,scarf,gloves and snowman hat there's not much of Chips you can actually see! And he is wearing it all. He walks up to me at 3.15 all togged up,his mate is still just wearing his jumper and putting his coat in his bag,I wonder how long it will be for our new coat to be unceremoniously pushed in the school bag,maybe it's too big to push in there or maybe it's the new factor. Nice to see him in it though,if somewhat unusual.

So thats week one done and dusted,only five more to do until half term!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Magic Gravy
My Aunty used to make magic gravy. It was the most delicious gravy that I had ever tasted. And as a little girl I used to think it was magic.

It was better than any gravy I had ever tasted before. I loved it. Nobody made gravy that was as nice as my auntys magic gravy. Not anybody.

Now I think I know a bit more about the making of 'magic gravy.'

It was indeed made with meat juices and it was probably a casserole kind of gravy because not only was the gravy magic,so were the carrots. Yep,they were magic too. How lucky could a kid get....a auntie that made magic gravy and magic carrots! Yummy bliss!

I loved going to dinner at my aunties house. Especially on magic gravy day! I can still remember the mmmm of it.

And now I'm all grown up (kinda) and sometimes I make magic gravy and magic carrots and whenever I do,I think of my auntie.

I wonder if she ever knew how much her dinners meant to me and that I would still remember them when I was grown up with a family of my own.

And I wonder if she ever thought that I would remember her every time I made a casserole or that forever in my mind,gravy made with meat juices would be known as magic gravy and I would think about her. Just a simple everyday thing for my auntie to do but something that stuck in a little girls mind,forever.

It just goes to show doesn't it that we never quite know what memories will seep into our children's minds and stay there forever.

I wonder what will stick in my children's heads,what will they remember me doing ,what little thing will mean so much to them when they are grown up and doing things all their own way. Who knows. That's for them to discover. And probably I will never know what little legacies I have passed on. Just like my auntie doesn't know about her magic gravy....maybe I should tell her....

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Puddles Of Grey
 Tonight as I walked to the garage I remembered the last time that I had done the lunchbox routine.

The eve of my sons twenty first birthday.

What a night that had been!

We had had a full school/work day and then a swimming lesson and then a trip to Tescos to buy the fresh party supplies and young Chips hadn't landed in bed until at least nine thirty,waaaaay past his bedtime and I didn't get to bed until after one o'clock which was definitely waaay past my bedtime too. I was then up at five to start preparing for the coming day.

Birthdays,last day at school for me and Chips,a different department for me to work in for one day only and the big birthday party that night,the gathering of the clan,the family bun fight. What a day!

I literally didn't know if I was coming or going.

So compared to that night tonight should be a doodle really.

But it's not.

Since that night things have got steadily easier,thankfully,and I have relaxed. This has been bliss and much needed but it also makes the return to routine hard. I don't want to return to routine and Iam finding it hard going, remembering all the little itty bitty bits and pieces that make up the school and work routine.
I have just about done it. But it wasn't easy. It took some doing. My focus had to be reigned in,never easy for me.

This start back to routine and normality is not going to be easy. I have been holding on to the Christmas feeling for as long as I can and now I'm being dragged kicking and squealing into January against my will. Mind you I was dragged into December against my will!Not enough time left to prepare,not enough money to spend,not enough of anything needed to make Christmas happen. Perhaps it's time to embrace the upcoming month and welcome it with open arms instead of fighting against it. 

I do honestly think that without a bit of strife you dont truly appreciate the 
good as much and I guess it does me no real harm to feel the differences that come and go in life...while I may not relish being whipped around the face with icy blasts,I do appreciate that yep this is winter and the winds are icy cold,feeling the cold winds makes it easier to feel the difference when the warmer spring breezes begin to drift in. And feeling the hurry scurry of life makes me appreciate the holiday times just that bit more - the flop down,curl up on the sofa moments,the get into bed and just breathe moments - ebb and flow my friends...ebb and flow.

There...have I convinced myself that January is going to be the moment Im not sure. Someone tell me that it will be ok,please.

 A few photos of a murky old day,full of grey and sharp,icy wind.

Oh and a splash of colour. I was determined to find some colour

Friday, January 3, 2014

 Fresh Air
Ducks that grouped together as if posing for photos,sticks that were soooo big they weren't actually sticks at all - they were probably small trees,mud that was gloopy and sticky,big muddy puddles that turned into our only hope of getting gunge off our dirty hands,swans that cornered us and nearly won the battle....until we cunningly led them away with the use of breadcrumbs and seeds...we know how to distract a swan and escape....they know how to back us into a corner and hiss at us until we are actually a tinsy bit scared and a cafe that sells the best butter flapjack ever and has cups of tea that warm your hands and you sit there with your little boy and for a while all is peaceful and all is good.
Yep,thats the duckpond. 

We walked,talked,saw trains,found such a variety of animals to look at,looked at sunsets and water and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
posing ducks
our friend the rat
go on duck,jump,you can do it!
I just love this kid
and these curls

try and surround us would you?

Out in the open,in the fresh air. We are at our best when we are outside,me and Chips. No distraction, just me and him and nature. It does the trick everytime.

Linking up to Fionas lovely linky 

Country Kids 
 A rainy day
A blustery windy day
Two young boys hard at play

Kicking a ball
High in the sky
While I listen to their shouts and cries

It's grim out there
Cold and grey
Not the very best of days

But I still stand,and I smile,
Moments like this are getting rare.
So I stand, getting soaking wet,
Watching the boys blast a ball in the air. 


Written after getting soaking wet watching 
the boys play footy together on a cold grey wet December day.
I came back home with dripping wet hair and muddy boots.
I smiled though...these boys are infectious.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What a difference a week makes.

Last week it was Christmas Day evening and we were all happily tired out. Shattered but happy. The day had gone well,we had survived,we had been surrounded by family and we had time off work to chill.

This week it is New Years Day and it's been raining. Not just a bit of rain but heavy persistent rain. The kind of rain that leaves rivulets of raindrops running down the the window pane at 100 miles a hour creating big puddly splashes when they make it to the window sill.

And some of the family were missing from the dinner table,either poorly or off jaunting around far from home and some people were feeling under the weather with colds and just plain tiredness after a hectic week.

And work loomed....

Such a different end to the night and it wasn't an improvement! The weather seemed to echo the mood. And this was the start to the year....yikes.

So. Things can only get better...right?

And as usual,in amongst the underlying feeling of grey gloom were bright splashes of happy.

The kids,yep it's always the kids. I swear down that if you look closely at any children nearby you will find happy. And if you open yourself up to that happy things will become brighter,if only for a short time. You see kids are infectious like that,if only us adults take time to notice them.

As I was saying, the kids were happy. They didn't dwell on the rainy grey day. No,instead they ate the yummy dinner all up and then they snuggled under blankets in their mammas front room and watched copious episodes of Spongebob,away from the prying eyes of their grown ups,time to do whatever within reason,what they wanted.

We only saw them when they were either hungry or thirsty and this left the grown ups and older teens to sit around the dining table eating jam tarts and drinking cuppa's and,yes thank you dad...listening to the top 500 songs on Smooth Radio. We chatted and put the world to rights as oldies tend to do. We discussed the rights and wrongs of the placings of each song,everybody had their own view,I was SO happy to hear Baker Street was much higher than I had originally thought,that made my day. I knew all along it needed to be higher than I thought it had been placed last time.

And my mums food was wonderful. Again,she produced a dinner for ten and still lamented about the missing people at the table! She then filled us up with mince pies,jam tarts and lemon curds and for tea we had a lovely nibbly buffet and trifle and chocolate cake for dessert. It was such a treat to be fed and looked after like this. I really appreciated it.

And then it was back home. In the pouring rain. And I had to drag the heavy,wet smelly chockablock full green bin to the bottom of the drive. And that's when reality set in and a flash of normal day to day life hit me smack in the face.

The thought of January,month of all birthdays and no money,month where my little boy would have to go back to school again,month where it would all start again.

And I felt ouchy,very,very ouchy.

After I had took my sopping wet coat off I sat on the settee with Chips and whilst he watched the darts final (his new love is darts) I wrote this. And I came to the conclusion that I need to think of something 'nice' to make the murk go away.... at the moment I'm still thinking.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Baby
This Christmas there was a baby at our Christmas celebrations. A gorgeous little baby.

And I sat and watched as that little youngster stopped the whole house dead,all without even opening his eyes!

What is it about babies that makes everybody smile?

Is it their cuteness,their squidginess or just the miracle that a new born baby simply is.

I'm a real baby person. I love babies. I always have and I guess I always will. My mum has always said that if she ever lost me as a child I would be found at the side of a pram looking at the baby.

I still do that....look in prams. I never get tired of babies.

What I saw these past few days though really made me smile.

Apart from the gorgeous baby,I saw my mum and dad holding their first great grandchild. They looked very happy,this in turn made me happy. My mum stood rocking the baby gently to and fro and on my Tigs party day she instantly calmed the baby by snuggling him to her when all he wanted to do was rest and peacefully sleep.On Boxing Day my dad sat at the table and held the baby in his arms and instantly had three of his grandsons at his side as well. That image was pure magic. The smiles those four people gave the baby,the looks passed between them and the close body language as they all leaned in to peep closer at the sleeping bundle of sweetness were precious beyond compare.

And I saw teens holding this baby and looking at him with big smiles on their faces as his tiny finger held tightly onto their now big hands and there is nothing as tight as a babys grip is there and nothing as touching as seeing a baby holding onto someone's finger. Last Christmas I would not have imagined this scene...this Christmas the baby steals the show and everybody's hearts.

The two youngest members of our extended family smiled and talked about how sweet the baby was and were desperate to hold the baby.

And the baby....well the baby slept and slept and slept. He has his own adoring fan club,even without opening his eyes!