Decisions, Decisions

Just before the end of term I received an email from school, entitled Year 11 Prom and Yearbook. T started in Year 11 in September. It was December when the email came through. It was asking him to decide before the 17th January whether he wants to attend the Year 11 Prom, which is held towards the end of…….June!

June! A whole six months away. Six months is a long time when you’re fifteen. I asked him when the email arrived and his answer was “er, no thanks, why would I want to go to Prom?!” How do I know that he won’t change his mind in a month, 3 months, 6 months from now? We have to pay a £25 deposit, which is non-refundable. Do I risk writing off £25 if he still decides it’s a no? A lot can change in six months – he may have a girlfriend by then and she may be a tad annoyed if he’s not put his name down for prom. He may become a total party animal that wants to go and strut his stuff (OK that won’t happen – he is the offspring of two perennial wallflowers). I’ve asked him if any of his mates are going to pay the deposit (something I hate doing, as it really bats against the “I don’t care what your friends are allowed to do” mantra that I have used over the years when he insisted that Insert Name Here had been bought a new phone or had been allowed to go to London for the day alone at the age of 13) he mutters that they don’t talk about stuff like that. Sometimes, and only sometimes, girls are easier in this regard. I’m pretty sure when A is in Year 11 it will be ALL she and her friends will talk about for the whole six months after the email arrives.

I’ve stopped asking, but the email is still in my inbox. I can’t file it away under ‘School – T’ until the date has passed and the decision is made – either by default because we haven’t done anything about it, or because by some miracle he has a conversation about it with his mates and he decides one way or another. (I hate emails sitting in my inbox; it’s so untidy.) I really want him to make the right decision. If he decides that he is going to go to college and not Sixth Form it may be the last school event with his friends that he has made over the years. If he doesn’t go will he spend the entire evening wishing he had? He’s not really one for FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and I am probably hugely overthinking this (Who? Me? Never.) But it seems like a big deal. I have seen photos from previous years – girls all lined up in their pretty dresses, hair and make up all done especially for the occasion; the boys in new suits looking uncomfortable (apart from one, there’s always one) – that’s the other thing, if he goes to college he won’t need a suit apart from for Prom; but they all look excited and happy and their exams are all finished and they are going to PARTY.

Decisions, decisions. I think I might just pay the £25. Then I can file the email, stop thinking about it and IF he changes his mind then I can say “well, good job I paid it then” and I will be a HERO. Again.




It’s human nature to reflect back and look forward when one year ends and another starts. Ditching resolutions was one of the the best things I ever did (along with ditching the scales and ditching Facebook) but I still like to take stock and this new year was no exception. 2017 wasn’t too bad on the whole. Unlike 2016, there were no sad losses of loved ones; no broken bones; no upheaval of starting secondary school – nothing to throw off the general equilibrium of life. It was all pretty plain sailing and we made some happy memories and had some lovely times. Of course, there were rows, down times, frustrations and upsets but nothing major in the grand scheme of things. A Good Year.

As we start 2018, I am feeling almost calm and – dare I say? – positive. Last year I took up a photo challenge and this year it is being done again and I am fully on board. It ties in so well with the “no resolutions, no mad diets and no crazy exercise regimes” philosophy and I loved it last year. It’s under the hashtag #SavouringJanuary2018 on Instagram – you get a different word each day, which you interpret as you see fit and post a photo if possible. Not every day if you don’t want to but, by using the hastag, other people can follow your posts and you can see theirs. It makes me think about January in a different way and it’s a great way to start the year. It’s not a brag-fest, not showing off how wonderful your life is, just taking a simple word like “Still” and thinking about a relevance in your day and taking a picture to represent it. Simple but really effective.

That’s not the reason why I am feeling calm and positive. I don’t know why I am feeling this way, I just am. For now. The pessimist in me is muttering that it won’t last. Let’s ignore her, she’s a pain in the arse. I think that taking things easy this Christmas has helped. We normally have family here both days (as we did this year) and then also end up travelling up to the midlands a couple of times in the space of the week. This year we did that early and the rest of the time we have been at home, pottering about, not doing much. Not trying to fill every spare minute DOING SOMETHING. The kids still have another day before they go back to school; I am working from home and K is home early. It’s all still quite chilled (that word again). Mealtimes are still whenever, whatever; no-one needs to be anywhere by a certain time; there are no deadlines. The calm, positive feeling may change when school starts again on Thursday. Watch this space.

Not only am I thinking about my world at home – my real world, the only thing that really matters – but on Thursday I have a Job Review. My boss emailed me before Christmas suggesting it may be a good idea to have one as we haven’t had one for a while (more like never before), just to talk about my role and the good and the bad from both perspectives. I’m not sure how I feel about it. In Creature of Habit I talked about feeling a bit tied to my desk and wanting to make a shift in the way I work. I can’t deny that I find my job a bit tedious at times, that I wish for something to happen to shake things up. But I don’t know how to get this across, or even if I should, at a Job Review. Does a boss ever really want to hear that their employee is feeling a bit stagnant? Especially when it’s in a company of 5 people where there’s not much opportunity to diversify or try something new. I don’t know what to expect or what is expected of me. Of course, I have had plenty of Annual Reviews over the years, and have been on both sides of the table. I’ve helped K fill out his appraisal forms, to ensure he gets the tone right (and sometimes his spellings – he’s terrible at spelling. Mental maths – almost genius, but spelling, uh-ah) and I was never scared to put myself forward for more responsibility. But, this is different somehow. I will let you know how it goes.

Looking into 2018, we have things to look forward to. There are, of course, things to ponder* on: T sitting his GCSE’s; the extension; the Nan situation. There will be obstacles. There will be upsets. There may be be sad times. But if I can keep calm, stay positive, worry about the big things (and only the big things), keep laughing, then it will be OK. Here’s to a New Year.

*notice I said “ponder” and not “worry”. I’ve spent too long worrying about stuff that often didn’t happen or when it did it wasn’t such a big deal after all. Let’s try and have less of that.

Just “chill”

T has been going out a lot in the evenings to a mate’s house, to “chill”*. It’s mainly to one mate in particular as they have a second living room downstairs where they can sit and “chill” without disturbing anyone. But they sometimes go to another friend’s house where this is not the case – they “chill” in the friends bedroom. I queried why they don’t come here, to our house. They used to come here when they were younger during school holidays but this stopped a while ago. Being the over-thinker that I am, I started to worry that it is because of us. That we are too strict/too boring/too uptight/too whatever for them to want to come round.  When I asked T why they don’t come round here he muttered something about having nowhere to go other than his bedroom and there was nowhere to sit in there etc. It was one of those non-answers where you don’t really get anywhere. I replied that maybe when we get the extension done it will be easier for them and they will be able to come and “chill” here instead. He mumbled something that sounded vaguely positive.

Today is a working day for me and K is in the office. I asked A if she would like to have her friend O over for the day (she went to their house before Christmas so it’s nice to reciprocate) and I would take them to St Albans to look at the sales (using my new way of thinking about work and being Flexible) for an hour or so. Which we did. I left them to their own devices and went off to run some errands. While I was in the bank I had a text from T asking if two of his mates could come round. We have erred on the side of caution to date and not allowed friends round while we’re out. But with the “why don’t they come here” conversation fresh in my mind, I agreed. I called him when I finally emerged from the bank (why was the man behind me in the queue insistent on standing SO close to me? every time I tried to edge slightly away he edged too. And he was quite snuffly and I did NOT want him to sneeze on me) I called T and muttered a quick reminder about not being idiots and breaking anything while I was out. He said they would leave when we got back, to which I replied that they didn’t have to as the girls would be upstairs in A’s room and I would be working out of the way in the dining room, therefore they could carry on playing on the Playstation in the lounge.

We got back at lunchtime and they were still here, which made me feel stupidly gratified. Boys have really smelly trainers and the girls moaned about boy smells as soon as they walked in the house. O has a sister and no brothers so was particularly vocal about this. Keen not to scare them off with squealing and annoying female behaviour I ushered the girls off upstairs with promises of food. The boys, it transpired, had just ordered pizzas which were due to be delivered shortly. Trying to be cool and “chilled” I didn’t worry too much about where they were going to eat the pizzas (the lounge, obviously) but did wonder what K would say if he came home to a massive grease/tomato sauce/coke stain on the carpet. Let’s think positive – these are sensible, mature boys not 5 year olds (or teenagers who have bouts of being sensible and mature but with the regressed brains of 5 year olds).

The pizzas arrived and, still trying to be cool, I muttered to T about being careful not to make a mess – he had preempted me and was already fetching plates and glasses. It was all fine – well I assume it was, I haven’t ventured in there yet. He even took the empty cartons out to the recycling bin. The next I heard from them was shouts of “thanks for having me” (they really are great lads) from the open front door and then silence.

I say silence – they hadn’t been noisy, just deep voiced chat and the odd shout of laughter through the stud wall. I say silence but the girls were still here and they were far noisier upstairs than the boys had been in the next room. What is it about girls and not being able to speak slowly or in a normal voice? I don’t remember being that way, but I was probably not a stereotypical ‘girl’. I mean, I was a girl – just not a girly girl. I don’t know if girls with sisters are noisier than girls with brothers? Do brothers make them less hysterical; make them more rounded off because they don’t listen to silly voices and don’t respond to shrieking with more shrieking? Don’t get me wrong, they’re not like it all the time, they have bouts of being calm and quiet, and that’s nice. And O is the perfect friend for A as she makes her be silly and she has A LOT of fun with her.

As much as I want the kids friends to want to come to our house, to like being here and to feel welcome and at home here – I’ve always wanted to be someone they’re happy to chat to, not nervous of – I also love our house when it is just our house. I like the peace and quiet. We’re a quiet family – which I know can be misconstrued as boring or dull or too straight or uptight – but that’s who we are and we can’t change that. All I can do is try and be “chilled” and calm when they are here and know that they won’t be staying forever.



*I use the word “chill” in inverted commas as this is what I am told they do. I don’t know what it means. I assume they sit and chat and laugh about whatever 15/16 year old boys chat and laugh about. I don’t really want to know. I expect I would be bored or disturbed. Hopefully bored. It’s hard to be interested without looking like I’m giving him the third degree, to be aware of what he’s doing without policing him all the time. We’re in that halfway stage where he needs privacy and his own life but, conversely, he’s still a child that needs looking out for and guiding. Just “chill” mum.



Christmas has gone by in a matter of minutes. It feels like a day at the most has gone by since my last blog, but here I am back at work and it’s all over (bar the leftovers).

Christmas Eve: we popped to see G&G for a quick cuppa to see them before Christmas and then my brother and his family were over to ours in the afternoon for a walk to the pub followed by cake and presents. We did this last year and it worked really well, so we decided to do the same this year. It’s getting increasingly hard for us both to fit everyone in at Christmas, especially if we are working in between. So this works well for all of us and I’m hoping it may become a bit of a tradition. The kids all got on well and we enjoyed the walk. It’s always easier to get them to walk without moaning if there is the promise of a drink at the end of it and on the way back the incentive of a slab of cake and a present!

The day itself was lovely: waking up at 7.50am and waiting for the kids to come in with their stockings; downstairs for a bacon sandwich (cold sliced gammon for A and I as per my childhood) and presents with the tree lights on as it was such a dark day; K’s parents arriving safely and in good spirits; a lovely meal cooked relatively stress free; A’s amazing cheesecake for dessert; a round of our new board game which the Silver Squad won. The only blot on the landscape was the discovery (by K) that one of the passenger windows on my car had been left open for 24 hours and the backseat was soaked. Not a great thing to happen at any time but infinitely worse for it to be discovered on Christmas morning just as K’s parents were pulling up outside the house. I’m not going to lie and say it didn’t leave a slightly ominous cloud over proceedings but it didn’t ruin the day. Thankfully, as he works for a flood restoration company K has the odd bit of equipment in the garage that can sort this sort of thing out so all is well. But, it wasn’t without a lot of grumbling and huffiness.

Boxing day was like my Christmas Day as G&G came to ours. It was a lovely day with K’s parents here on Christmas Day but I love Boxing Day and it’s always a bit more relaxed with G&G. Cold meat, new potatoes, salad, cheese. What’s not to love about Boxing Day?

There have been differences this year. T & A still came in to our room for stockings, we still had the same day we normally have but Christmas Day evening saw just K & I sitting watching a film while T was in his room chatting online with his friend and A in her room watching YouTube tutorials for the new make up she had. Boxing Day saw T going out round to see a friend in the early evening as G&G left (they dropped him off en route) and K, A and me watching Snow Bears (the most joyful programme to watch when you are feeling even slightly under par – which I wasn’t but I am keeping it on the planner should the need arise).

And here we are, 2 days of work before 4 more days off and then it will be back to reality again.


Posting for yesterday.

We’re lucky to have really lovely next door neighbours. They’re good people. We get along really well. We’re not in and out of each other’s houses all the time – we borrow the odd onion or splash of soy sauce now and again; we get together for dinner every few months or so; we used to do reciprocal babysitting when our kids were younger; we chat over the garden fence now and again in the summer. There’s no pressure to be socialising all the time, but we know we’re there for each other in an emergency or to borrow a screwdriver. It’s perfect.

Yesterday we were invited to go round for a family afternoon/evening of playing games and a bite to eat. It was lovely. We played some new games, learnt some great mind tricks, and had a really tasty meal – all 8 of us, kids and adults around the table, chatting. Then we watched a film before walking the 4 steps back home.

A really happy start to the Christmas weekend.

Family, Lights and Cards.

I went to see my Nan today, so that I can see her before Christmas. It was lovely to see her but it always feels very bittersweet these days. A happy but sad all in one.

This afternoon the B4 went to Waddesdon Manor to see their Christmas lights show and beautifully decorated house. The lights were really pretty and clever – moving images projected onto the outside of the house in a ten minute show which reflected things you see inside the house. It was like a firework display but without the bangs and it was intriguing and clever. The house was like nothing I’ve ever seen before: from a life size model zebra in front of a Christmas tree; a bathroom with model sea-lions playing in the bath; to a birdcage with multicoloured birds (again not real) and fairy lights; and rooms set out with beautifully decorated tables, it was spectacular.

We followed it all off with a woodland walk lit by lanterns made by children from local schools. Really lovely.

It’s not often we do something as a family now without at least one reluctant member of the party. But we all enjoyed it and a hot chocolate always helps keep spirits up. Not sure my bank account is so happy (£14 for four hot drinks!). In other news, we had a lovely card from Miss T and a gorgeous handmade card from Little Miss J, which is taking pride of place on the windowsill. All in all A Very Good Day.

Simple things….

…..that have made me happy today:-

A starting her Christmas baking. It feels like a tradition now and I love that she wants to do it, that we schedule it into the run up to Christmas. It feels like Christmas is really close, which it is.

Getting a quick coffee with my lovely friend, Mrs F: she always makes me smile.

Receiving a message from my niece, E.

The robin that’s been visiting my feeder for the last few days, sitting on the fence outside the window for 5 minutes, rather than just flitting on and off again.

A quick “whatsapp” chat with a lovely friend.

Simple things but, sometimes, they are the best.