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What do we do all day?

17 Jan

I mostly blog when we go somewhere or do something.  OK, so I know my last post was about car sick, but generally it’s true.  There are, however, plenty of days when we don’t do very much, or certainly don’t do anything of earth shattering significance.  So what DO we do?

Well… we have lengthy skype chats, wash clothes, go to the playground, the beach and the library, we sort out travel arrangements, upload photos to Flickr, play card games, queue in the post office, shop in the supermarket, draw pictures, go for a wander, watch TV, build dens, do school work, write postcards, bake biscuits, poke things with sticks, read books and write blog posts.    We’re quite busy really.  It’s a wonder we have time for anything else.


A short post about sick

17 Jan

I’ve never been that keen on the actual process of travelling with children, I know, I know, but it’s because they’re so often sick, even on quite short journeys.  I blame Steve, according to his mother he was terribly car sick as a child.

We started this trip as we meant to go on, with Eve throwing up on the plane to LA.  Nothing quite like standing in an interminable immigration queue at 3am with a sick encrusted child.  Since then, Ned has largely carried the baton, but Dickon and I have also been sick on a boat and Steve looked distinctly green after his sky jump.  The fact that they all make the most almighty fuss about taking travel sick pills doesn’t help.

So we just let them get on with it.  We collect sick bags whenever we can and they’ve become pretty good at hitting the target whilst driving at speed.  It doesn’t seem to bother them that much, and they’re usually pretty cheerful afterwards, especially if we buy them Coke.  They’ve yet to be sick on a bus or train, but it’s surely just a matter of time.

This is why

15 Sep

I’ve not blogged for over a week.  With less than seven weeks until we leave, you’d think I’d have more to say.  Some exciting news about a condo in Hawaii or a campervan in New Zealand.  But no, can’t think of anything.

This last week has mostly been taken up with adjusting to school.  Me and the children.  Don’t worry, I shan’t bore you with tales of mourning babyhood.  I’ve wallowed so much, I’m boring myself.  And the children have settled in fine to their new classes.  So what’s the problem?

The problem is that I hardly see them.  And when I do, I’m either nagging them to put their shoes on, or nagging them to sit and eat tea, or nagging them to get in the bath.  When I’m not nagging them, I’m dealing with meltdowns.  Because they’re tired.  Very tired. And when they’re tired, they’re not at their best.

So instead of enjoying each other’s company, I’m dealing with the fallout of school.  Tea time is a battle, bath time is a battle, bedtime is a battle.  And I don’t like it.  It seems all wrong.

And that, in a nutshell, is why we are embarking on this trip.  I want to enjoy my children’s company before they grow up.

Now, it’s about time I booked that condo in Maui…

When you least expect it

7 Sep

I wasn’t going to write this post.  I felt like I’d already written it.   I’ve spent the last few months mourning the ending of the most wonderful and challenging period of my life to date.   I thought I’d come to terms with my babies growing up.  I have so much to look forward to.  I’ve started working again and I’m hoping to get a dog (still negotiating this with my esteemed husband, but I’ll wear him down).  And of course, there’s the small matter of our trip.

So I wasn’t going to write this post.  Because I didn’t think I’d have much to say.  My baby’s only going to be at school for a few weeks before we’re off.  He’s a robust, cheerful sort who’ll talk to anyone.  He’d be fine.  I’d be fine.  Starting school would be just another thing to tick off before our trip.

So I was completely blindsided this morning when I watched him walk cheerfully up the steps into school, all by himself, and felt myself falling apart.  I briskly said goodbye to my friend, rushed home and the floodgates opened.  I spent most of the morning in tears, unable to settle to anything.  My much longed for three hours of freedom, passed as slowly as a season.  I did a few tasks, crossed a few things off, but nothing made me feel better.  Everything started me off again.

I wasn’t worried about Dickon.  I knew he’d be fine.  He’s been longing to join his big brother and sister, desperate to be a big boy.  I was crying for me.  Am crying for me.  This is it.  I won’t have another baby.  I’ll never rock another child to sleep, spend hours feeding infront of daytime TV, or enjoy quiet mornings reading with a toddler on my lap.  My children are growing up, I have to move on.  And I know I’ve got a lot to look forward to.  A lot to be thankful for.  But today I’m sad.


This week’s prompt for The Gallery is The First Day of School.  I wasn’t going to join in.

Wee wee

3 Sep

Way back when, when I was compiling my travelling to do list, one of the items on it was to potty train the boys, day and night.  Our backpacks aren’t huge, and we’ve got a lot of stuff to squash into them.  So taking a big old pack of nappies too, would not be ideal.

At Christmas, both boys were still in nappies at night.  Dickon forced the issue first, by announcing that he didn’t want to wear nappies any more one evening.  We were sceptical, but he amazed us by being dry.  Not wanting to be left out, his elder brother also said that he’d like to stop wearing nappies at night, so off they came.  It turns out we’d had our last dry night for quite some time.  For two weeks, one or both boys, usually both, wet their beds.  The already unmanageable ironing pile climbed ever ceilingwards and our house started to smell of wee.

We suggested to the boys that they go back in nappies for a little while.  Dickon happily acquiesced, but Ned was determined to stay without.  At just five, he was certainly old enough, so we agreed, but with no obvious sign of improvement I was starting to lose the will to live.

And then, without warning, Ned started being dry in the mornings.  Every morning.  How we rejoiced!   He’s almost never had an accident since.

Dickon carried on wearing nappies for a while.  A couple of months ago, we were nearing the end of a box of nappies and I resolved to try again.  For two months he’s wet himself almost every single night.  Back to the ironing mountain and eau de wee.  I’d resigned myself to carrying bulky packs of nappies in my backpack.  Until this week.  This week, he’s been dry every night except one.  He’s never been dry so many nights in a row.  Never.  The washing line is currently empty.

Now, I don’t want to incur the wrath of the parenting gods by speaking too soon, but *whispers* I think we may have cracked it.

On mice, ice rinks and sweeping chimneys

17 May

Here’s the thing, I’m very proud of my children’s ability to entertain themselves in an impressively imaginative way.  I feel like I’m a good mother because I am encouraging their creativity.  But they are also driving me mad.  I’m not what you would call ‘good’ at housework.  If I manage to put on a wash, wipe the kitchen surfaces and sweep the floor in one day then I’m very impressed with myself.  And my children’s imaginations seems to create more housework than I can possibly cope with AND chat to my friends on Twitter.

Some examples of recent ‘games’:

  1. They filled an empty bath with a whole bottle of shampoo then used it as an ice rink.  I realise that this is easy to clean but it is a waste of a bottle of shampoo and also possibly rather dangerous.
  2. The 8 year old was asked to lay a fire (not light it before anyone tells me off).  She took it upon herself to also sweep the chimney.  Using her hands.
  3. The 5 year old was found making little piles of sunflower seeds in the corners of the upstairs landing.  He was “feeding the cute little mice”.  I should point out that we don’t have any pets.
  4. They spread the contents of their small sandbox over literally half of our garden then got towels from the bathroom so they could “sunbathe on the beach”.
  5. They stuck a whole roll of double sided sticky tape on the hall floor “to catch burglars”.  I should never have let them watch Home Alone.

So, like I say, I think they are very inventive and love the fact that they get on so well.  But I also wish they’d spend a bit more time doing jigsaws.  Should I supervise them more?  And if I do that, when am I ever going to put a wash on?  Speaking of which…

5 highlights of 2009

8 Jan

The lovely Kelly at A Place of My Own has tagged me, asking me to write about my 5 highlights of last year.

2009 was a good year in our family.  No huge revelations or major excitements, but it felt like we finally made it out of the long dark baby tunnel into a new and exciting world of pre-schoolers and school age children.  We got out and about, we ventured abroad, and we washed a lot of pants.  So, without further ado, my first hightlight is…

Getting enough sleep

Many years ago I was a nanny for a brief period, including caring for a newborn baby boy.  He was a ‘good’ baby, who drank his bottles when he was supposed to, slept well and rarely cried.  It was a piece of cake.  So I thought I knew what I was doing when Eve came along.  After about 10 minutes, it became abundantly clear that I was as clueless as every other new mother.  Add in a few sleepless nights and I realised that I had been deeply deluded about caring for newborns.  Nothing, but nothing, is a piece of cake when you don’t get your full eight hours.  I kept thinking, ‘if I could just get four hours, five hours, six hours without being woken, I’ll feel better’.  It took me many months to accept that I would never sleep in the same way again and for the six years that I had newborns, teethers, growth spurters and early wakers I stumbled through the days in a fog of scratchy eyes and memory loss.  2009 was different.  Gradually, without my noticing, all my children started to regularly sleep through the night and regularly wake at about 7am.  I feel different, in a good way.

Starting  a blog

After two years of reading other people’s travel blogs, I finally took the plunge in February last year.  I have enjoyed it more than I could have ever predicted.  It has become an almost daily pleasure, writing, tinkering, thinking about my blog.  It’s re-ignited an old love of words and I hope that one day I can do something more with it.

Our first camping trip

I am a fair weather camper.  I really, really don’t like being cold or wet and I’m not too good at sleeping on the ground.  As we have not been anywhere warm, like Australia, in the last 8 years, the children have never been camping.  Until this summer, when we spent a gorgeous, but perishingly cold night in a field in North Yorkshire.  We splashed in the stream, built a huge, smoky, eye-stinging campfire, toasted marshmallows and told ghost stories.  I hope we can recreate the experience on our trip, but with warmer weather and hammocks.


Last summer we had the most yodellingly fantastic holiday in Switzerland, a country I have always suspected might be right up my street.  Every cliched view I had previously held was blissfully right and we spent two weeks enjoying a soundtrack of clanking cow bells whilst hiking through flower-filled meadows, marvelling at the efficiency of their trains, swimming in lakes with picture postcard backdrops and eating a Matterhorn of cheese and chocolate.  For a rash of posts and some gorgeous photos (if I do say so myself) click on Switzerland in the category cloud on the right.

Catching crabs

2009 was the year I learnt how to catch a crab.  Goodness knows how I’ve survived so long without this knowledge, but I now feel confident in any crab catching situation.  It was a lot of fun.