Saturday, 14 May 2016

The good things in life...

"When you finally get something good, enjoy it. 
Don't always go looking for something better."

I saw this quote on facebook today and it really struck a chord with me. Many years ago when my eldest, who is now 13, was very tiny. I used to read a cute little book to her. It was about a mouse family who took walks along the sand, swam in the rivers, lived in the country with fields and trees where they made rope swings and went for jogs... you get my drift. When I read it to my little girl, who was then a toddler, I would tell her that one day we'll get to live by the sea and have walks along the sand, be able to climb trees and swim wildly in the sea or rivers. 

A couple of years later, when my daughter was 3 and my, then youngest, was 8mths old, we moved to live near the sea. Unfortunately I had long term postnatal depression that lasted from when my son was born until he was 2 1/2 yrs old so, despite it being exactly what I had wanted for years, it wasn't something that I appreciated fully for a long time.

A lot has changed over the past 10 years that we've been living here. We've had good times and bad times, the last year being one of the worst we've ever had for varying reasons... but all of that has led to something amazing happening. I have felt this on and off for the past few years now, but not as much as I feel it now. I am so so happy in my life right now. So grateful for what I have. I'm approaching 40 and I guess it's a time in my life that I can look at it and see what I've done. I have achieved SO much. Maybe not in the same way that someone else might view achievement. But for me it is all I ever wanted. 

I live in that house by the sea. We have a woodland running along the back of our garden so our view from our decking and our bedroom window is nothing but green trees and an abundance of birds and wildlife. 

We have been lucky enough for a colony of bees to set up a temporary home in our garden 3 years running and a permanent home once. We don't have a lot of flowers in our garden, but we do have lots of green hedges, and I guess that's just something they must like.

 We go for walks along the sand, swim in the sea, the children climb trees and play in the woods. 

We are lucky enough to have made some wonderful friends since we have lived here and my parents and sister also live within walking distance to our house.

I haven't made a huge career for myself but I do what I love. I write. I create. And I surround myself with my beautiful beautiful children. Home educating 2 of them is amazing. In July I will have all 3 of them here with me learning and enjoying life together. We have great plans for the future and we are so excited for what we hope to achieve. Our home, however busy and hectic it gets, is where all our hearts lie. I love my home and have big plans on how to make the spaces within it work better for when we are all here (watch this space).

I was always the one who was "looking for something better". There was always something that I was searching for to make my life complete. But this is it. This is what I dreamed of when I was a child. This is my life. C x

Monday, 2 May 2016

The end of a perfect day...

We have all had the most lovely afternoon today. We met up with some lovely friends of ours who we haven't seen for some time. The children had grown up together and to be honest I was a little worried how they would be together seeing as it had been so long without contact and definitely for T, life has changed quite dramatically since the last time she saw them. But I needn't have worried. They slotted back into their close friendships as if they'd never been apart. We had a gorgeous (if breezy) stroll along the beach, stopped for coffee and snacks at the park cafe and then wandered back to our car. We had lots to catch up on and I feel, as I often do, that we never had enough time to be together to really catch up with all the news.

However, having decided we will have a weekend away together in a couple of month's time we now have something fabulous to look forward to and a much longer catch up to be had.

I am very lucky to have a selection of very close friends. I'm not one to have a big circle of friends, but the ones I have are extremely dear to me. I guess, again, that's perfectionism. Just any old "friends" won't do. They have to be perfect ones. And I think the ones I have are pretty close to that, and for that I am hugely thankful. xx

Put on those dancing shoes!

I am so incredibly proud of my two boys right now. My middle child, C, who is 11, has recently started drama classes at school. He's been chosen for a speaking part at the end of school performance and has been praised for his acting skills by his drama teacher at school. He's such a shy quiet boy normally at school that this is such a massive achievement for him. So much so, he's wanting to start outside drama classes at a "proper" stage school - of which he will be starting after our holiday in May.

My youngest child, F, who is 4, has recently started a dance class. His teacher, after only the first lesson said how fabulous he was at listening and she could really see him exercise his problem solving skills to figure out how to do various moves.

After a few weeks, the teacher announced that she wasn't going to keep going with the parent and child dance classes on a Thursday and that we could either go to the Tuesday class or they could start the "big" class for 4-11yr olds doing musical theatre and possible street dance afterwards. After speaking to her, she said that she though F was more than ready to take on musical theatre and so he started the class last week. This is an extract from the diary I jotted down while I waited for him:

This is my first experience of leaving my little boy and I'm so glad he won't be going to school in September.

He's currently having his first musical theatre class with an age range of 4-11 year olds so being just 4 (2 wks ago) he's by far the youngest. Thankfully we started parent and toddler dance classes in the same place a few weeks ago so he was a bit aware of what he was getting into, but he still looked far too tiny and shy when I left him there.
It's only half an hour and I'm in the foyer, a mere 20 seconds walk away from the room he's in. It's the tiniest theatre... but it's his very first glimpse of independence.

My tiny baby boy is growing up so fast and I'm so so incredibly proud of who is becoming.

I needn't have worried. He absolutely loved it and announced that next week he will stay for the second half an hour too so he can do street dance after musical theatre.

My grown up boy in his grown up world. Love him to pieces.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Late night ramblings

It's funny how things pop into your head when you're meant to be sleeping! I've just been looking at Street view for a friend who's looking for a house but I ended up looking up my old house where I grew up! 

A huge surge of nostalgia washed over me when I saw it. I could feel myself being transported back there. My lovely house - half of it (the garage and my old room above, along with half of the kitchen on the back of the house) is what my builder father built almost single handedly with his own bare hands. The front garden which no longer has our pink blossomed cherry tree, the bumpy slope leading from the main road down to ours which we spent many a day rattling down on our metal skates or our rickety old scooters and skateboards. I even “walked” via Street view to the local streets where my friends lived, where we used to zoom round corners on our bikes not even considering if there would be any pedestrians in our path! Once round the corner I spied the back view of our house. Of the extension my dad build pretty much on his own of my brand new bedroom. Of the flat roof of the garage which was directly outside one of my bedroom windows where a smoker boyfriend used to be banished to if he wanted a sneaky fag!
The dual carriageway adjacent to our road which we used to dash across at warp speed when we were far too young to collect our football that we'd kicked by accident over the fence and into the path of oncoming cars and lorries!! 

The same dual carriageway that my dog pelted across to get home when she'd been attacked by another dog in the field opposite, into the path of a lorry that hit her so she tumbled over and over but still managed to get up and run home and was actually miraculously fine!
The dual carriageway I’d walk along on many a Saturday night at 3am with a friend to get back from a night club in town. The dual carriageway I crossed daily even though I didn't need to just so I could catch a glimpse (and sometime an exciting snog) with the builder who had worked across the road for several months and who made my tummy full of butterflies whenever I saw him.

Perfect memories.

Friday, 8 April 2016

I need sleep!

Devices are a curse! I love and hate my tablet all at the same time!
Our house is device filled and school holidays often result in an overuse of them by all of us. The older children have ipads and I have a tablet and a laptop.
My youngest, who is nearly 4 and naturally wants to do everything the rest of us do, now frequently asks to borrow my tablet and if the rest of us are using ours, I have no right to say no really.

Don’t get me wrong, I'm not anti device for him. He rarely watches tv and so his screen use is in the form of educational games and you tube videos about trains! Both of which have taught him a huge amount about letters, sounds and numbers. He could tell me more about trains, tracks and models than I have ever known in my whole lifetime and he’s adamant he wants to be a train builder when he’s grown up (this seems to flit between being a model train builder and a real train builder!)
However, despite this, I still have a constant battle with myself as to whether their usage (or should I say OUR usage) is excessive or not.
Ok, so back to what I was saying about me and my sleepless nights (I do have a habit of going off on a tangent – forgive me!) You know how it is, when things that feel ok in the day time feel like the worst things in the world during the small hours.  This is what keeps happening to me. In the day, we do our “thing”, we go out together, the children play together, I look forward to July when we will kiss goodbye to the school system once and for all and we can enjoy learning and being together. Then at 10pm when I’m thinking I should be heading off to bed I decided to take my tablet to bed with me just so I can check that educational website I heard about the other day. Or while I’m there I’ll just plan a quick timetable of what our days will look like (seeing as it’s only April and I’m thinking ahead to September it’s really not something that needs to be done NOW!). Oh and then I’ll decide to start looking up interesting documentaries on You Tube that we can all watch to start off a topic of some sort! (Incidentally, I found one that I think my 11yr old will like – not watched it all the way through yet so you might want to check it first but it’s here:

So, there I carry on… watching, reading, researching, planning… until I realise it’s 1am and I’ still not asleep! But not only that, but I'm not even tired any more! My brain is whizzing with the “what ifs”. What if I fail them? What if they’re all together far too much and they end up hating each other? What if I don’t push them enough socially? (I'm incredibly shy sometimes and am totally out of my comfort zone in a group situation). What if they struggle to make friends because of this? And a million other “what if’s” that float around my head at 1 am!
So I lie in bed thinking of all of these things until it’s closer to 3 am when I finally drift off to sleep. At 7am when my son wakes me I feel like I've been out on a wild night out, dancing until dawn. I groan and roll over and hope he goes somewhere else to play for a while. But having been a parent to a young child for the past 13 years, I've learnt by now that that is highly unlikely. So I haul myself out of bed, bleary eyed, to go downstairs to make myself a very strong much needed coffee.
While I drink said coffee, I sit and ponder about the “what if’s” I had the night before. I tell myself that I won’t fail them. They are in charge of their own destiny, so if they want something enough I will make sure I help them to achieve it. They will be together all of the time but this will only make their relationships stronger. I have already seen T’s (13) and F’s (3) relationship blossom and me and T are now closer than ever before. I’ll make sure I encourage time apart through socialising with their own respective friends, working privately if they need their own space and having time just to myself and one of them at the weekends when G is home.
I think they’ll be OK socially. We’re all sociable in our own ways. This may not be in a large social group as such but we all like to get involved in group “lessons” as well as socialising with people daily on a more one-to-one basis. We already see people daily either as informal meets with friends or organised dance and gym classes and have plans for more things in the future. So in the light of day, my worries and “what ifs” don’t feel so worrying after all.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Random acts of perfectness

Today my perfect moments have been:

HE with my 13 yr old went really well. We met up with another HE family for the first time which made her feel really good. She came back and really concentrated on some work she'd been struggling with. She's been through so much recently that she really needed today.

The sun was shining (at least for part of the day!)

I did a big blitz of the kitchen, cleaned the guinea pigs AND the hamster out and did 2 loads of washing today! (Ok, I know it's not the most exciting thing to have got done, but seeing as we were out all morning and our "day" ends when I have to go and get my 10yr old from school at 3pm, it did feel like quite an achievement!

What were your perfect moments today? x

Friday, 8 January 2016

New year, new start

It's funny how in January many people either start a new blog or try and revamp their old one, start a diary, a new fitness regime, a diet, or something else that they will most definitely keep up with... until mid January when it all falls apart! Well, we have a new start in our house.. a few really.

As I've mentioned previously, we decided when my youngest was a baby that we would probably Home Educate him until the age of 7. I'm early years trained with a degree in early childhood and health and I couldn't shift my view that a young child shouldn't be in formal education until at least age 7. Children learn through uninterrupted play. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti - school, but when you've spent all your adult life watching young children learn (including your own), and you've researched the whole subject extensively for various university essays, you pick up the pros and cons of various settings and for me, a school or nursery setting just isn't appropriate for a young child. They need to be able to make their own choices on what to learn, play with and do. They need to have time to get fully immersed in what they are doing without the need to stop for the register or story time, or outdoor play time or because it's assembly or home time. Yes, there is a need to learn how to share and play cooperatively together, but I don't believe that needs to be all day every day from the age of 2 or 3 or 4 or even 5. They can learn those types of social skills from siblings, playing in the park with other children or playing at friend's house. If school was for 2 or 3 sessions a week of a couple of hours at a time of totally free play, I would certainly consider it. But not for 6 hours a day and 5 days a week at such a tiny age. So HE it will be until age 7. And once we get there, we will review the situation.

To add to that, due to various reasons, we have also de-registered our 13 yr old to be HE. This may be a temporary thing, it may be permanent. Who knows. All we know is that is is the right thing to do NOW. For her. If an adult were in a job that they hated, the sensible thing to do would be to start looking for another job. No one would tell you you have to stay there for the next 4 or 6 years. It would be up to you to choose to make a change, and so we decided it was no different for one of our children.

It is very early days and we are all adjusting to this new way of learning, but I know deep in my heart it was the right decision. The start of a new adventure in our lives.

Talking of adventure, after going through a tough time over the past few months, we have decided as a family that life is far too short to put off the kind of life we would love to have.  We also realise that having a family of five ranging in ages from 3 up to 39, we will obviously all have different interests. "Perfectionist" me has always been the one to insist on family time at the weekends but this has got increasingly harder when someone really doesn't enjoy what they others want to do. It's taken me a while, but I have finally accepted that it doesn't matter! We don't ALL have to be together ALL weekend! We always have meals together, we live in the same house and we sit around and talk A LOT, so if we don't go for a walk in the country as a family every weekend - so what!  C (aged 10) and I love swimming but G, N and F aren't keen. So C and I will start going swimming sometimes on our own (shock horror!) A couple of years ago I would NOT have accepted that. I would have made everyone go which meant we only went sporadically as it was too much like hard work to make them go regularly. N (aged 13) and G (aged 39!) love cycling but the rest of us aren't great cyclists really, however much I want to be. So he had she will be having some hacks in the country sometimes without us (or while we're playing in the park!) 

You see, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that everyone is enjoying their own life and not living someone else's.