30 July 2014

An Introduction to Geocaching / Wicked Wednesday


As a blogger, I happen upon many a genius blog post. But there was one in particular last week, that appealed to me more than most. Why? Well basically, the lovely and highly amusing Emma from Brummy Mummy of Two, was encouraging us to be honest about our summer holiday experiences. Not just highlight the best bits and Instagram the life out of them but to share the truth, in all its ugly glory. Thus 'Wicked Wednesdays' was born and today I'm joining in.

You may recall that one of my summer goals this year was to try Geocaching with the kids. I have since discovered that more than a few of you have no idea what this hobby is, so in very simple terms, it's an organised, worldwide treasure hunt, that you can pick up and leave as and when it suits. There's a brilliant website to explain everything, complete with You Tube clips and details of the app, which will help enormously in finding the hidden treasure. Or so they told me.

Seeing as Friday was our first full day at home, it seemed like as good an opportunity as any, to make a start. Having downloaded the Geocaching app, I was delighted to discover that there were a fair few caches hidden in and around our local area - less than 2 kms from our home. Despite initial protestations every time the G-word was mentioned, The Tween and The Boy were pretty enthused by the whole thing (The Teenager was too poorly so stayed behind) and we decided to take the dog too.

I knew which pathway the treasure was hidden down as having looked at the app, the clue was fairly clear. Using my phone's GPS system to help in the navigation process, we went straight to the area. *Ping* went my phone, informing us that we were within 20 metres of the cache. At this point we began searching amongst the densely populated trees......brambles......and stinging nettles. It wasn't long before The Tween opted out of the search (for fear of getting stung) and the dog began whining and crying. Had he been coaxed into his harness under false pretences?



Armed with the clue: 'at the base of an ivy clad tree' my little forager was determined to find the cache. Despite there being way too many stinging nettles for my liking and at least a dozen trees that would fit this description, he would not give up and to be honest, I was pretty reluctant to admit defeat too.


Several discarded bisto tubs, coke cans, lager bottles and empty crisp packets later, we were still cache-less and The Tween had begun expressing her concern at the increasingly dark clouds forming overhead. Then it started. The first few drops of rain were quite refreshing -  it was a very hot day. The suffocating heat also meant that we were wearing very little clothing and entirely unsuitable footwear. As the 'shower' turned to proper rain, we decided to shelter under a tree, hoping that it would pass and that we could continue in our search. But the rain got heavier and heavier and heavier. Then the thunder started, followed very quickly by flashes of lighting. All of a sudden, standing under a tree no longer seemed like the sensible option. 

We ran, laughed, screamed (that was me) and splashed our way home; wading through half a foot of water, as an entire week's worth of rain descended in approximately 10 minutes! We returned home empty handed and completely and utterly wet through to our knickers. Well I did say that this summer would be about 'making memories'....


Click on the link below for more 'summer fails'.

brummymummyof2

26 July 2014

The Week That Was / Project 365 no. 30


The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. Yes, the summer holidays are upon us! Sadly for The Teenager, she has been ill all week and so far not really showing much sign of improvement. We have managed to have a little fun however and now that I've successfully wrestled some antibiotics off the doctor, I'm hoping she will start to get better.

I cannot believe that we're still basking in this glorious sunshine. Are we really in England?! Here's what we've been up to this week....



Sunday - Meeting my cousin's new baby for the first time. Does that make him their 1st cousin once removed or 2nd cousin? Never been able to fathom that one!

Monday - Ice creams after school to cool down. Spot the furry head hoping that some might be dropped!

Tuesday - No school for The Teenager today. She sat in her pyjamas, watching TV all day. So unlike her.

Wednesday - School's out for summer! A celebratory costa.

Thursday - My sister and her children came round for the day. We set up the plastic sheeting on the lawn and they all had a 'splashing' time!

Friday - Today we embarked on our first geocaching experience. My little forager was very disappointed to fail at the first hurdle :(

Saturday - The Tween assisting in making the pudding for our BBQ today. 


Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for Reggie!  Did you spot him last week? 


Have a great week one and all. Until next time.....

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

TWTWC

25 July 2014

What DO you do all day?



A very brave (21 year old) colleague confronted me with this question just last week; in fact she shouted it across a very busy office. As a largely stay-at-home mum, this is not the first time such a question has been directed at me. It is however, the first time it came out of a mouth that was not owned by one of my children!

I'll be honest, it annoyed me. Why? Because I immediately felt the need to justify my lifestyle choice and more specifically, what I do between the hours of 9-3 on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. In no particular order: clean (the upstairs because yes, I do have a cleaner but she only does the downstairs), tidy, cook, buy groceries, walk the dog, diary organise, book appointments, party plan, pay the bills, manage our money, plan and book holidays, attend my weekly osteopath session, do the washing, iron, write for and edit a magazine (voluntarily), respond to hundreds of emails a day, write and manage a blog etc, etc. And don't even get me started on the chaos that ensues post 3 pm....until around 10 pm *sigh*. 

When we first became parents, 14 years ago, we knew that I would give up work. I left a successful, well-paid job, to look after our first born as we both felt that this would be the best thing for her. It was a choice we made and I know how lucky we were to have those options available. 

Fourteen years and 3 children later, I am glad that we made that choice. Yes I now work part-time in our own business, but I am always there when the children are home. I'll admit, that on days when my offspring have begged to be picked up by a child-minder or booked into after-school club like many of their friends, I have wavered. But I stand by our decision as being the best one for our children.

And that's just it. 'The best for our children'. I have no right to question what others do, why they came to the decision that they did, or how many coffee breaks they have in work compared to how many I have at home. I am well aware that I was fortunate to have the choice of going to work or staying at home and I have absolutely no right to judge others by thinking that their way is wrong. In today's 21st Century Britain, none of us should feel the need to defend our life choices and neither should we question others'.

So how did I answer that question? Well unlike my usual forthright self, I decided not to respond at all. I knew it would turn into a totally pointless rant and that at 21, the poor girl has no clue. If you think back to that age, what did you imagine every stay-at-home mother across the country to be doing? Watching Jeremy Kyle, going out for lunch and having her nails done, that's what! I think I have finally realised that I do not need to justify my existence or defend my lifestyle choice to anyone. Full stop.


If you're a SAHM, have you ever been asked this question? Do you feel pressured by society to go back to work? If you are a working parent, do you feel judged by others on your decision? 


23 July 2014

The Final Curtain



As the final curtain falls on another school year, I've spent a little time reflecting on the last 10 months. Like most homes, we tend to start every school year full of enthusiasm for the new teacher/classroom/friends/pencil case (remember that simple pleasure?!) that September brings. There's usually a lull somewhere in the middle (the February slump) and we return for a final crescendo of craziness towards the end. This year was no exception.

For The Tween, September 2013 began with the introduction to a new school - secondary school no less. School has never been The Tween's favourite place. Right from those early days, given the choice, she would prefer to stay at home with me. The one and only thing that has ever drawn her to school is friendships; they mean everything to her. But when those close relationships hit a bump in the road or the form teacher is not to her liking, her enthusiasm plummets through the floor. 

One advantage for The Tween is that her older sister has always gone before her. But that's such a 'parent' thing to say isn't it? For a younger sibling, this is never seen as a good thing! Right from the off we were at loggerheads - The Tween was adamant that she would be making the secondary school decision, her main criteria being it would be wherever her sister wasn't!  

Respecting her right to the same experiences and choices as her sister, we trawled all of the secondary schools in our area. She was drawn to an all-girls, high-achieving school which some of her friends would be going to; I wasn't keen. I had already witnessed the after-effects of those pre-teen girlie fall-outs and adding hormones into the mix seemed like a recipe for disaster! To cut a very long story short, she finally chose her sister's school and we were all happy.

The summer holidays came and went and as September loomed, I wasn't at all sure how The Tween would fare at secondary school. I had no worries about her making friends or being able to stand up for herself but I was having recurring nightmares about the fight over getting homework done, forgotten PE kits and the early morning grumpiness. Being a rather anxious child by nature, I watched closely as the countdown drew nearer to 'lift off'.

Ten months on and I have been completely astounded by the way she has coped with year 7. So much so that I wanted to write a post dedicated to The Tween, more as a memory than anything else.....

  • She has grown up beyond recognition. We have watched her take full responsibility for everything to do with school: homework (suffering the consequence if she forgets it), possessions (she has surprised us all by only forgetting her PE kit once!) and behaviour. 
  • She has embraced all the opportunities available to her: attended gardening club (for which they won the local 'School in Bloom' competition), survived two terms of rehearsals for the school musical (performed for 5 consecutive nights in July), sung in the school choir several times and last but not least, received a prize for outstanding effort throughout the year.
  • On the few occasions that she has experienced anything slightly negative, she has confronted it head on. The most memorable instance being a well-crafted letter addressed to her form tutor. Having found the rough copy at home, it both amused me and filled me with pride when I read through all of her grievances. I really have created a mini-me here - any sniff of an injustice and she's on it immediately! 
  • She seems to have completely conquered her fear of sleepovers. Something which up until now, has had a very negative impact on her life. In the last 3 months she has attended more sleepovers than I can count on one hand, something which I honestly couldn't imagine ever witnessing. 
  • Her one aim has been achieved. The Tween has never particularly shone academically, mainly because she can always think of something she would rather be doing than knuckling down to school work! A few weeks ago, she mentioned that she had one aim: to move into a top set for at least one subject (she has been in the middle sets for Maths, English and French this year). Last week she brought a letter home, informing us of the excellent progress she had made in English this year, so much so that she would be moving into the top set for year 8! My goodness that girl was proud. And rightly so. It was lovely to watch her celebrate the achievement of a personal goal.

Of course we've had the typical pre-teen meltdowns to deal with and the less said about the early morning grumpiness, the better. But all in all I am one very proud mumma. Hats off to you my girl, you didn't just survive year 7, you well and truly smashed it!



How have your kids 'survived' the school year 2013/14? 
Has it been one to remember or one to close the curtain on and try to forget?



3 Children and It

Loud 'n Proud is with Secrets of the Sandpit this week. Open from Thursday-Sunday.

21 July 2014

Family Days Out - View from The Shard



This title is a bit misleading because actually it was only two-fifths of our family that had the pleasure of visiting The Shard a couple of weeks ago.  Over the years, we have developed a family tradition whereby one day per year, each child gets to spend time with us alone - their choice of venue (pretty much) and no time constraints. This particular day, happened to be the turn of The Teenager and I.

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