Tag Archives: music

Stress, Social and Smooth

Stress. The kids went back to school nearly two weeks ago. Last Monday, T had a mini-meltdown. When I say meltdown, he was mildly stressed out. T doesn’t do meltdowns. He does calm and laid back so when he gets stressed it is unusual but not insurmountable. He doesn’t have to tell me when something is worrying him, it is obvious – he goes quiet and in turn becomes argumentative. And anyway, I just know. Before I had kids, I didn’t really believe the whole “mum spidey senses” thing but it is actually a Thing. Anyway, we had a chat after the argument and he admitted he was feeling a bit pressured by the whole GCSE thing and the pressure to do well. We had spoken at length during the summer about how much effort he has been giving so far and how it is not enough to just do the bare minimum. The failed RE GCSE seemed to spur him on, but have I created a monster? Have I made too much of it and now he is stressing out? Anyway, we talked a bit more and it transpired that the homework app wasn’t working (see, technology is NOT always a good thing – what was wrong with writing things down into a homework diary?) and he didn’t want to get behind with his homework………….because he wanted to watch the Apple Conference live the following evening. I don’t need to worry, he clearly still has his priorities in a different place.

Social. On Saturday night, A went to a friend’s birthday party. I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up with her social life and the way it is organised. There’s no invites any more. Parents don’t contact parents any more. Your child gets a text (or Whatsapp message, or Instagram DM, or Snapchat PM….etc) invite from their friend and they ask you if they can go. You say yes or no and if in the affirmative the details get passed to you as and when your child gets them. You don’t have to text a parent or call a parent to say that your child can attend and “hi” I’m J, A’s mum”. None of that. On this particular occasion I had not met the girl whose party it was, or her parents. I just knew she lived in “the big house on the corner of the road that goes down to the school”. She was being dropped off by another friend’s step-dad (again all organised child-to-child but at least we know the friend in question and have met the mum and step-dad) and we were picking them up later. I had an address and a time and the knowledge that they were going to watch a movie at the house and then dinner out at a local pizza place. That was all. Now, I don’t know how you feel reading this, but I felt a little lacking in my parental duties. However, knowing that I could see her whereabouts on my lovely app, I felt slightly less nervous than I could have done. And I knew two of the other girls she was going to be with who are both pretty sensible. She was being dropped off and picked up. Nothing to worry about. And there wasn’t, it was all fine, she had a lovely time; they were even left unsupervised in the restaurant while the birthday girl’s parents went to the chip shop (it’s classier than it sounds) and so she felt very grown up (which I suppose she is becoming). I went to pick her up at the designated time with K as chauffeur. The idea of the “big house on the corner” made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person who lives in a VERY big house…you get the idea. I was nervous. Especially having had ZERO contact with her previously. She was perfectly nice, they had all “been fine” and so after collecting all their belongings (why do girls have so much stuff?) we left. I have no idea what the mum’s name was. We made small talk while they were getting their stuff but other than that she has 2 older children and one younger one and that her house is MASSIVE I know nothing more than that. It’s not a problem, it just feels weird. Up til now, I have pretty much known the parents of A’s friends, because I have seen them at school and probably chatted to them in the playground. I haven’t had to worry about this stuff with T, he still hangs around with the same mates he had in nursery. He has other friends, new friends from secondary school, but boys don’t really do the whole “tea” at each others houses thing. Or parties really. Well, T doesn’t anyway. It’s a whole new world and one I am finding hard to adjust to. We have a “new friend” coming for “tea” tomorrow and another one for a sleepover on Saturday night (I have met her before so it will be fine) – I might need therapy by Sunday.

So, that just leaves Smooth. I have not been sleeping brilliantly for a few weeks. When I say not brilliantly, I mean I can get to sleep no problem (in fact probably too easily, i.e. in front of the TV most evenings) but I have started waking up around 4am again. I don’t know why but it is annoying. What is even more annoying is that when I am lying there awake all I can think of is a bloody song that I can’t get out of my head. Not always the same song, but normally one that I don’t even like. I have realised that it is probably down to listening to Radio 2 all day.  It’s not their fault but they do play the same records over and over again – their playlist is pretty limited – and it can get a bit repetitive, and one of the songs will get stuck in my noddle and at 4am it decides to start blasting out. So, I have decided on a change of station. I started out this morning with Classic FM – no lyrics, no catchy tunes, was my thinking. After ten minutes I couldn’t take any more. I need lyrics. I need a catchy tune. I scrolled through the list and Smooth caught my eye – billed as “your relaxing music mix” I though it worth a go. Ooh I like it. So far not one repeat of a song. Nothing current, I grant you – I’m not in danger of being Down With The Kids – but nothing repetitive that could get stuck in my head, not so far anyway. Some old classics, actually only old classics; DJ’s whose voices are not too annoying, so far; a few adverts, could get annoying; but mainly just easy listening background noise with a few “oh I LOVE this one”s thrown in. Let’s see what happens tonight.

 

 

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One third of a lifetime

It’s a funny old thing hitting 45 (as I did a month ago). As I said to K at the time, it’s proper middle age now, on the basis that 90 would be more than long enough, thank you very much. We went to see my brother, P, and his family at the weekend and we were reminiscing about a U2 concert we went to in our twenties. He has recently been to see them on their latest tour and it got us wondering about the year we went. We speculated for a few minutes, trying to work out where we were both working at the time, who we went with, etc, until he resorted to good old Google and discovered it was 1993 – the Zooropa tour. We were only out by a year or so but we were both shocked by how long ago it was. 1993 doesn’t sound that long ago to my ears, but 24 years ago sounds like a lifetime. In fact, it is exactly half of my brothers lifetime, being as he turns 48 tomorrow.

Someone else with a birthday tomorrow is my lovely boy. I like that he was born on my brother’s birthday – they are very alike in many ways and not all good ones – although at the time I was just desperate for him to finally be born after a couple of excruciating days and nights in the hospital. That was 15 years ago. One-third of my lifetime. I have held and loved this boy for 15 years; for a third of my life. Sometimes I can’t imagine or remember time before him. Although, the first few hours/days/months/years were hard going my life has been so much fuller, happier and just downright better with him in it than the years that went before (they were still very happy years, by the way, just to make that clear). Even if I sometimes feel as if I have my teenage brother as my son – sounds weird, believe me it’s even weirder living it – with his unwavering ability to wind me up and irritate me in the EXACT same way that P used to; although he may be smelly and grumpy at times; and even thought he has horrible feet; he makes me very proud.

With the two peas-in-a-pods birthdays imminent, so comes the end of the school year. My “on this day” app yesterday gave me a memory from 4 years ago – at T’s junior school leavers assembly. It seems incredible that this time next year he can leave school. And that A has almost finished her first year at secondary. Sometimes, I would like time to slow down, just a little bit.

 

 

Parents Evening, Parade, Pasta and Panic

It’s been a busy few weeks.

We had A’s first parents evening at her new school the week before last. You know, the really hot week with the hottest day since the year 1802 or something ridiculous (I know it wasn’t 1802 but I’m allowed to be silly, it’s my blog). Yes, well that was the day of parents evening. It’s not the most fun hour of anyone’s lives, I don’t imagine, but it was not only not fun – it was also VERY hot. OK so we’ve established the weather conditions, let’s get on to the actual content. Well, it was all very good indeed. As we have been told many times before by many teachers, A is well behaved, polite, conscientious and produces very neat work. She also appears to have a personality which is a relief. She does like to chat in class from time to time and she doesn’t always listen but other than that words like “superstar” and “pleasure” were bandied around quite a lot. The meeting that made me most proud was with her PE teacher, Miss W, who praised her to the point of nearly making us both cry (me and Miss W, not me and K) for being determined and pushing herself to do stuff that makes her scared. Bravo that girl. And bravo Miss W for making the very valid point that she does not need to compare herself to ANYONE else, only herself. I bloody love that woman and wish she had been MY PE teacher twenty years ago (ha ha!).

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Last weekend (not this one just gone, the one before) was Armed Forces day in our local town. T was taking part with his Police Cadet group, alongside Army Cadets from a local school, Marine cadets and Sea Cadets from the local area. They had a parade to begin with which made my eyes a bit misty. There’s something about a military band and people in uniform that makes me feel very emotional, so to see my son involved was pretty special. The rest of the day comprised of the cadets competing against each other in drills/uniform inspections; a climbing wall challenge; and, my favourite, a tug of war!

T’s group did very well in all events but particularly smashed the tug of war. They have a secret weapon in one of the lads who is built like the proverbial brick s**t house and was, needless to say, a very useful anchor man. The other lads and girl got really stuck in and thrashed the other teams, losing just one round out of nine.

The final part of the day was the announcement of the winners, and we were thrilled that T’s group won the overall competition. With only 7 of them attending it seemed like they were a bit thin on the ground but they didn’t let that stop them and, for the first time in the groups’ history, they came home with the trophy.

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Last week was enrichment week at the children’s school. T was not taking part as he went off to Wales for his geography field trip, but A was able to choose from a number of activities that school had arranged that they could do, supposedly to “enrich” their lives. Being as most of the trips were circa £20 plus a go, I politely suggested to A that she maybe chose one trip (pointing out that she had already been on the London Eye, she had been to the local zoo more times that she can remember, etc) and that she look at the activities going on in school for the other option. They have a year group sports day one day and geography field trip on another so she only had to decide on 2 days activities. She opted for the National Portrait Gallery and the in-school Masterchef day. She enjoyed the gallery trip but was slightly freaked out by the Run, Hide, Tell leaflet she was given in case of a terrorist attack, and slightly disconcerted by the boy in her group that insisted on holding her hand whilst on the underground! He was scared apparently. But the highlight of the week has to have been Masterchef – for her and us! – she made such amazing food. They were given a list of ingredients to take and a recipe sheet when they got to the food tech room, but then were left to their pwn devices to follow it and make their meals. We had dough balls with garlic and herb butter (much better than Pizza Express), followed by ricotta and pancetta ravioli, followed by white chocolate eclairs for dessert. It was all outstanding. (The pasta was so great it spurred me on to use the machine I bought on a whim a few months ago – A and I produced some pretty good tagliatelle together on Saturday evening). She was pipped at the post to the prize for her dessert but she was up against some year 8 and 9 students so she deserves to feel very proud.

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This morning I got to work quite early and got cracking on the weekend’s emails from the miserable buggers who buy our stuff our lovely customers. I was on the phone when a text pinged up from K asking me to call him urgently. As soon as I finished my call I rang him back as this is highly unusual! A had called him in a panic – she couldn’t get through to me (as I was on the phone) and she needed me to drop her PE kit off at school as she had forgotten it. Um. Er. Sorry, I am at work. For some reason, although I have been doing this job for just over 6 years, and I have been going into the office one the same days for the last 12 months, somehow everyone forgets and expects me to be able to drop everything and rescue them from their forgetfulness. I texted her to this effect, but slightly less aggressively, but basically saying tough, you will have to suffer the consequences. Literally, their punishments are called “consequences”, ranging from a C1 for minor misdemeanours (forgetting a book, or a pen, or their name) to a C5 – Saturday morning detention, and the same for homework misdemeanours but prefixed with a H. I sat waiting for the explosion of a text that I was expecting to get back at break time. Luckily, for both of us, the lovely Miss W said that she would “let her off” on this occasion as she had such an unblemished record (she hasn’t received a single C1 since the start of the school year – thank god she has that chatty personality as she could be on the way to being a bit of a swot) but on the understanding that she DID NOT TELL A SOUL. I bloody love Miss W, did I mention that earlier?

We spoke in length in the car on the way home – well, I spoke and she said “I Know!!!” a lot – about how I HAVE A JOB, and I GO TO THE OFFICE on certain days and if we could perhaps just go with a blanket rule of “if you forget your stuff, you take the punishment” we will all be a lot happier. Well, I will as it will mean that I don’t spend hours feeling like a complete and utter tool for refusing to drive a 10+ mile round trip to drop something off.

Remember the proud moments and the pasta. And breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music and monkey leg

On Monday night A was part of her house choir for House Music at the Alban Arena. I’ve not been to this event before as (funnily enough) the boy doesn’t do singing. Unless it’s in a piss-taking way of the music I like to listen to. What an evening! I didn’t expect it to be as brilliant as it was. I had heard it was a great event but was a little sceptical based on previous experiences of Recorder assemblies and Guitar performances at Junior school. this was a whole different league. Some really good singers, some good musicians and a standout performance by the Staff Choir (with a side-splittingly brilliant rap section by T’s maths teacher). A’s choir did really well and she sang with her usual wide smiled enthusiasm. The evening was all the more enjoyable as it featured two of my favourite songs – It Must Be Love by Madness and Hey Jude by The Beatles. The best part of the evening for me was the collective reactions from the students when their houses were on stage – the noise and the shouts of encouragement were deafening.

Today T and I were back at the fracture clinic with all fingers crossed for the cast being removed. And it’s off. Apart from an offensively smelly foot and disgustingly flaky skin on his leg it looks great. It’s also INCREDIBLY hairy. So hairy it looks like it belongs to a different body to the other leg. It’s basically the leg of a gorilla (not technically a monkey as in the title of the blog but I claim poetic license). But frankly I couldn’t care what it looks like or how bad it smells (not now as it was, of course, cleaned the moment we arrived home and will be soaked in the bath for at least an hour this evening). All I care about is this ten week long logistical and at times painful nightmare is over. He needs to take it easy for the next 2 weeks and use his crutches but in 4 weeks time we are expecting him to be discharged from the clinic for good. Hurrah. I have to confess to feeling a tad emotional about it all. I still can’t think back to “that day” without getting a little bit wet-eyed. I haven’t really allowed myself to imagine the day when the cast came off as I’m such an err-on the-side-of-caution person that I only imagine the worst most of the time. It’s such a relief and it may seem that I’m being overly dramatic but hope that those that know me well enough know that “drama Queen” is not really my style. What is my style is normal, run of the mill, plodding along nicely and broken legs and full leg to thigh casts don’r really fit in with that. This is also not all about me as it’s T that has had to deal with the worst of it all. But I feel his pain so much and hate when either of my kids are hurt of unwell. It’s just not how I want things to be. So, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

Roll on this time next week when we will be cosied up in our little mini-break (I’m not allowed to call it a holiday) cottage with the log-burner going and my little world will be as close to back to normal as it can be.

tom

 

 

These boots (Converse) were made for walking….

….and that’s just what I’ll do.

Well, something like that anyway.

Today the kids have an occasional day off from school. Last night was Open Evening where prospective new students and their parents are able to come and look around the school, guided by current students like A. So today, they have the day off while staff get the school back to normal. I always find Open Evening a bit of a puzzle. I understand that it is important for the school to show off and hopefully attract as many students as possible but I also think that for prospective students/parents it would be far more beneficial to see the school “warts and all” with lessons going on as usual and noise in the canteen – surely this gives the newcomers a far more realistic idea of the school. Of course, tours can be organised during the school day which is fine, and obviously the school can’t have hordes and hordes of people traipsing around during a normal school day as this would be far too disruptive. But this whole putting on a show thing is a bit daft.

Anyway, getting back to the reason for the blog. Where was I? Oh yes, both the kids are off. For the past three years we have had the situation where one is off and the other is at school for inset and occasional days (not sure what the difference is…anyone?) as these never seem to coincide across the whole of the schools. And it’s sometimes been quite nice to have a day on my own with one of them. On the other hand it’s a pain to have to get one, usually narky because they have to go to school, child up while the other languishes in bed. It seemed a bit unfair really. Especially if the child going to school catches a sniff of the plans for fun with the other child while they are at school. See? Not really fair. So I have been looking forward to them both having the same schedule and same holidays. and today has proved me right. Lie-ins all round (well apart from K but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles), watching Bake Off in bed with A. All Very Relaxing. I have made them make use of the time to get up to date with homework (boo, hiss) and I have been to Aldi to do the weekly shop with A. To be fair, if T wasn’t still incapacitated (he hates that word but there is really no better one) we would probably have done something a bit more fun with our time, but he is incapacitated so we haven’t. Anyway,  back to the reason for the blog.

Since both the kids are off, I have been able to escape for half an hour for a walk. Yes, a walk! For the first time in around 10 weeks I have been out, on my own, for a walk. Just me and my ear buds. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk with Mrs F last week and it was a good long old walk that made me really feel like I had done some good, and obviously we laughed more than I do on my own. But it is nice to be back in my old routine of my half hour daily walk. I think the fact that I have some cracking new tunes on my playlist really helps. There is some bloody excellent music out at the moment and I don’t think that it is coincidence that it all seems to be by old bands that are making a comeback. I’ve got Deacon Blue on there (who remembers Real Gone Kid from the Eighties?) and there’s some Kaiser Chiefs (brilliant) and Travis. Travis! Bloody love Travis and they are just as good as ever. Best one of all has to be Tom Chaplin (he of baby face fame from Keane) who has written the most beautiful and poignant song to his small daughter. He tells her “If you crash land in the quicksand I will pick up up, I’ll pull you out. And if the world shakes, your brittle heart breaks, we will patch it up, we’ll work it out”. Just perfect.

So I’ve been back pounding the pavements, with a big old silly smile on my face and probably panting quite heavily as I can’t hear myself breathing when I have my ear buds in and subsequently don’t know that I am panting – apart from my chest heaving. That sort of gives me a clue. Hopefully, if I manage to get into a new routine and manage my five sessions a week I will be panting less fairly soon.Need to stop A baking though – just came in to the smell of salted caramel cupcakes baking in the oven and the sight of chocolate shards cooling in the fridge! Yumm, but not good for the big bum!

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