Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sometimes,when the two older boys were smaller,we used to go to Blackpool during the October half term break. We would spend a couple of days there doing the whole touristy thing.....visiting the pleasure beach,going up Blackpool tower and of course looking at the illuminations.

Now,both these boys are growing up. One is at work and does not get half term off and the other one is at uni and does not get half term off either.

I thought it might be fun to reminisce about the old days at Blackpool,so I have been casting my mind back trying to conjure up some seasidy memories. The funny thing is that what I remember most is the weather! I find that really sad! How can that be my first memory to come to mind when I think about Blackpool in October half term week. Honestly though that is my strongest memory! I remember wrapping up tight in big coats and gloves and hats and still getting battered by the wind. Because it was further up north the air would be colder and because it was near the coast the wind would be more blustery.One of my firmest memories is the day it was blowing a gale outside but we decided that we would brave it and get the boys out,because,you know,two little boys stuck in a small boarding house is never ideal. It was SO windy that the door would hardly open and we were literally blown down the front. The boys could hardly stay on their feet. The wind was nearly lifting them off the ground! I don't think we lasted long out there that day but hey it left a lasting memory for me!

We would visit the tower and I've been smiling at the boy who used to get to the top of the tower and show such defiance on the walk of death (which is a transparent piece of glass that you can walk over and see all the way down to the ground below) was he scared,not likely,he would jump gleefully on the glass with a Im not scared look upon his face.

In the boarding house we would eat yummy full English breakfasts and warm home cooked meals at night. Delicious soups and all things good. Mmmm. And I recall there was a snooker table that one of the boys used to have a go on. There was also a cat that used to lurk around and the boys would love to spot this cat and stroke it.

We would stay up the north side of Blackpool and travel to the other attractions by either tram or by foot- it was a bloomin long walk down the front in the bracing sea air!

I think the boys favourite thing about Blackpool was the pleasure beach. And we would spend lots of time looking at the big roller coasters and playing on the slot machines. One boy loved roller coasters and one boy was not as keen. One little boy just couldn't wait to be tall enough to ride on the biggest roller coaster of all and eventually,after many years of growing,he did just that and came off smiling and not at all scared or shaken,roller coaster king that kid,never found a roller coaster yet that bothered him!
That's the little boy I sat feeding on a bench amidst the chaos and noise when he was only about seven weeks old. His daddy and brother would have been enjoying the rides and he lay cuddled up with his mummy slurping milk. We bought him a bib,a little bib with baby blue writing on it which read

"When I grow up I'm going to ride on roller coasters like my mummy and daddy"
I found a photo of the baby in the bib!

Little did we know then how true those words would become!

I'm glad I have given some thought to Blackpool because that last memory is such a precious one. I can remember being that young mum of two boys and how happy I was sat feeding my baby whilst all around me was noise. That baby,who had only probably just been named,and me were so happy,it was a feeling of peace and even then I knew it was a special moment. Also it was the last week before my eldest son started nursery. So the time we spent together there was poignant as he was soon to begin another big stage of his life. First becoming a big brother,then off to nursery school.

So cold,blustery Blackpool,I do remember you for lots of reasons.....not just your weather! 
What is he thinking about?
The Boys

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last October half term I wrote this post about a family day out visiting the city.

Never,in my wildest dreams did I think that a year later my boy would be living in that city and be at university.

But he is and today we are going to visit him!

Chips is beside himself with excitement!

"I'm wishing my hours away," he said,as I tucked him up in bed last night, "so it can be morning time and we can go to see Sharky"

I was looking forward to it too. But I did not wish my sleep away....that's one thing grown ups never do!

So let's see what the day brings and whether or not we find him,in that great big city where he now dwells!

Well the day brought lots of smiles. We went for something to eat as soon as we arrived and then had a wander around the shops.

We read stories snuggled up on a Waterstones big squashy sofa and then went to the slowest cafe in the world and enjoyed a cuppa and a chat.

A really sweet Halloween story.
And that was possibly the best bit. Away from the bustle of the shops and the crowds of people.

Sat around a little round table,cup of tea to slurp and time to chat.

I want to remember that feeling because it was good. Easy going chatter,something that we do well.

Hooray for the slowest cafe in the world!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

List Love
I had been contemplating meal planning for a while.
Anything to make life easier and to help me reach the holy grail - organisation.

So early one morning,when it was dark outside and all was quiet inside,I began a list.

A list of all our usual meals,in the hope that I could create some kind of rota that made meal planning more feasible and not just every day of every week ending up with the same old meals.

I left my notepad out on the kitchen unit and got on with the 
usual school run/work stuff.
You know what mornings are like...busy.

As I got ready upstairs I could sense that Chips was not in the lounge.

''Where are you?'' I yelled down the stairs.

''In the kitchen,'' he replied.

''Keep getting ready,'' I yelped.

You have to use a big voice when you are upstairs
and your child is downstairs
a whisper just isn't going to achieve anything at all.

Five minutes later I rushed into the kitchen,bags flying everywhere,
tissues stuffed hastily into trouser pockets and the hairbrush being 
waved around like a lethal weapon.
I saw Chips hovering around my list but I did not think too much about it.
All that I wanted was for us to get out of the door as quickly as possible.

The morning passed in its usual blur.
Plenty of things to do.
Plenty of thoughts zooming around my head.

I got home and started to think what was next on the hit list and that was when I looked on my list and saw it.

There in very faint writing was a message from Chips.

And it said


Well that was it,Im not ashamed to say it brought a tear to my eye.

That little boy had found time to write me a note.

And what a sweet note it was.   

Very faint writing.

Very simple words.

Very powerful effect on a rushy,stressed out Mummy.

Thank you sweet Chips for caring so much.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saturday Swimming
We were so concerned about Saturday swimming.

Goodness knows why.

Because it turned out to be the best lot of swim lessons ever!

At the time we did not know that though.

As they say,hindsight is a wonderful thing.

There was the fact that the lessons would be with a new teacher.

And queries about doing widths instead of lengths.

And we thought it would make Saturday rushed and who wants a rushy Saturday, when all the week is lived at breakneck speed,you don't want to make a precious weekend day too rushed as well.

We had also just had the worst set of swim lessons that we had ever had.

The move to the big pool had been harder than anyone had expected. Painfully hard. So bearing all this in mind,we approached Saturday swim lessons with caution. As we ate our Saturday breakfast we discussed what the lessons may entail. We had a lot of questions and only one way to find the answers out....go to the first lesson and see what happened.

We were very early for the first lesson but our first surprise was that it was not a new teacher at all,it was Jenny,our very first swim teacher! And because she knew us well and we were very early,she said we could join the two o'clock class.

There were not many children at all in the 2pm class and it was a different feel altogether than the Friday night class. It was SO peaceful. Just a handful of children,maybe four or five in the bottom end of the large competition pool. The space the children had was unbelievable and the noise level was was blissful. At the end of the lesson I remarked to Jenny about how great it was and she grinned and told me that in Chips proper class there would only be three children altogether,I started to feel that this move to Saturday swimming was going to be a very good move.

And it was.

For the first time ever I felt pretty peaceful at swimming lessons and I think the children felt peaceful too because they swam hard and learnt so many little things that they might not have done within a class of twelve.

They had a go at diving into the deep end. This was a bit ouchy as when you fall into water at speed but without control it can hurt and produce some red sore skin! But at least they had a go.
They were taken to the deep end numerous times to jump in and I can still picture their little excited faces as they leapt into the pool and swam 25 metres to the shallow end.
They did push and glide and all sorts of little swim techniques and quite simply they got such personalised attention that it brought their swimming on no end.

For most of the ten swimming sessions there were only two children in the whole of the competition pool! I guess that speaks for itself,especially if you have ever seen how busy that pool can sometimes get.
Once the swimming baths had a difficulty with the chlorine levels in the small pool and the fun pool but the competition pool was ok so Chips and Cory were the only two children swimming in the whole of the leisure centre! That was just unbelievable too! Like virtually having the whole pool to themselves!

After such a terrible time in the last lot of swim lessons,this was pure bliss. It completely turned Chips attitude around. Gone was the little boy who intensely disliked swim lessons and in his place was a smiley boy who was confident once more and as for the swimming....well both little boys achieved their 50 metre badge this time. I don't think they had ever swam as much to be honest! With just two children to watch and teach,the teachers got them swimming continuously and it did bring their swimming skills on and give the boys more stamina.

So,Saturday swimming is going to stay for us for a while,the very day we did not want to go swim lessons has been the very day that is best!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Splashy Week
Its been a rainy old week.
We have spent lots of time at school doing 
our activities and listening  to the sound of the rain on the canopy. 
I always find the sound of rain soothing and I like playing outside
so its been nice to do both things and stay dry!
Its not often we can do this and the children were quite bemused 
to be allowed outside in rainy weather.
School runs were soggy and it turned cold enough for the heating to be put on for the first time
since Spring.

The evenings were spent ploughing through Harry Potter.
We are on book three now.
Harry has met the Dementors and Sirius Black is on the loose.
Chips remains enthralled by this book
and so do I!
Reading stories has to be one of my favourite things about being a parent.
So many good stories to share!

I began to think about meal planning.
Whether that happens remains to be seen.
I think that it would be a good thing to do.
Its just that life seems to throw up things that make sticking to meal plans
rather hard for me.
Maybe I should just give it a go.

My favourite songs of the week have been Tom Odells Another Love ans Ed Sheerans Photograph.
These two songs have kept me company through many dark nights.

The uni kid is back for the weekend.
He's piled his dirty washing on the sofa and never has a pile of dirty washing been so fondly gazed at!
Unless you count the way that I smile at the red footy shirts.
My boys....even their dirty washing makes me smile!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

School News #2 and #3
Week two began very sunnily with one of our warmest days this September.

We had to take Ben and Jerry back so it was all systems go as the Monday morning school run included two guinea pigs today! We were very sad to see these two little cuties go back to their home,me probably the most! I honestly really miss these little chaps,funny how you can get attached to animals in such a short space of time. Even ones that wee all over you!

The main excitement of the week was that Chips came home proudly wearing a monitor badge! His job was to warn the teachers in the staff room that it was two minutes to the end of playtime and to also check around the classrooms and turn any lights off that had been left on.
It was quite a responsibility to keep that badge safe but we did it well and we were both quite sad to see it go at the end of the week.

Spellings started up again! More to learn than last year and harder too. We have been practicing for nearly two weeks now,the test is tomorrow,so we shall see what results Chips gets. I predict he gets quite a few right. We will have to see.

Oh and homework started again too. Different days but same format - one week a literacy piece and the following week a numeracy piece. We are about to do the literacy piece today....deep joy.
It's about a witch though so if the subject is interesting it may make the work pass easier.

Chips has been talking about World War 2 and he has taken a lot of information in. There is nothing like a in depth conversation about Hitler and the holocaust at 7.30 on a weekday morning!

Week three saw the beginning of DARE. For those of you who do not know about DARE it stands for Drugs Awareness Resistance and it's all about teaching the children about the harmful effects of drugs etc. All year six children take part in this program and it has been running for years as Chips brothers did it too. Chips was very excited to begin DARE and as with everything in year six he has took it very seriously. I do detect that Chips is definitely becoming more responsible these days,he is really enjoying year six and it is bringing out the best in him.

The weather was grey most of the week,very foggy and damp,not nice at all. And some children even insisted on wearing just their polo shirts to walk to school in.....wonder who that could be!

Reading was going well. Chips had some great comments in his reading log and a fair few stickers.

On Monday it was a whole school dressing up day on the theme of The Lion,The Witch and The Wardrobe. Chips went as a snowy traveler in a woolly hat,gloves,scarf etc. He looked very cheerful as he trotted off to school dressed as snug as bug and he came back gone saying just how much writing he had managed to do. This was the aim of the dressing encourage story writing. It seemed like it had worked.

The week ended on a happy note as Chips got accepted in the after school footy club. He really enjoys this club and was very pleased to be going back for another year of running around the school field every Friday night.

It was a good way to end week three.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Shoe Laces
I had no intention of trying to teach Chips to tie his laces in a short time frame. It's simply not my style. Usually we take our time over issues like this. We don't fuss. We don't pressure. We just give ourselves plenty of time and we don't stress if it takes forever to reach a result. This is our way.

So when I bought the school trainers I knew that I was entering unfamiliar territory. They were lovely. Black with bright green trim and bright green laces. Oops....did I say laces.....yes I did. But Chips can't tie laces yet.....ahh that was the problem.

But it was getting late in the day and we had been walking around town for what seemed like forever and there was not many days left to sort the school uniform thingy out,the days of summer were zipping away quickly,so what was I to do? Go home without the trainers and then have to find my way to another shoe shop on a day that didn't exist or buy the trainers and teach Chips how to tie his shoe laces before school started.....

I bought the trainers and said a silent prayer.

We started to try and do the laces that very night. We only had five days to master this skill and we were working from scratch. I was tired after being out all day,Chips was tired from being out all day. Iam left handed and find it hard to teach a successful right handed way,my methods tend to be a jumbled up mix of everything so it was not surprising that we did not make much headway that night.

The next day was Saturday and as we ate our regular Saturday morning Morrisons scrummy breakfast we discussed the scenario with my mum and dad.

Chips excitedly told them how happy he was to have these new trainers and how he had to learn to tie laces in four days and I,with a pained expression on my face told them that yes this was true and what an earth was we going to do.

They understood completely.

When we got back from shopping my mum had a quick go at talking Chips through the rudimentals of lace tying. He listened and tried. But it was not clicking with him at all. We had mastered the knot bit but the loops....sigh....the loops were tricky.

We struggled on throughout the day,trying,getting stuck at the loops and then trying again.

Sunday dawned and my dad had a go at the teaching lark. Only three days were left now,the stakes were getting higher and a slight feel of panic was beginning to form in my tummy.

My dad was ultra patient and the progress was visible. Still a long way to go but Chips was beginning to get the hang of the loops and I could see an improvement from Friday.

We smiled because it became apparent that my dad had also taught me to tie laces. We still tie them pretty similar to each other. And my mum talked about how she gave my dad the job of teaching me to tie because he was much more patient at that kind of thing than she was. Looking at the time and effort he spent with Chips,I can see that he still is.

Well my dad tried and progress was being made but then Sharky took over.
And blow me down he taught Chips to do his laces!
He used the most new fangled method ever,which he utubed up but after much patient teaching,Chips finally learnt how to do his laces.

And I sat and watched them. Amazed at Chips new life skill and happy to see two brothers working together.
Special times and memories to keep.