Friday, 1 May 2015

An easy bank holiday weekend beckons

Let the bank holiday chaos commence

It's just dawned on me, it's the actual bank holiday weekend. A weekend greeted by the most of the population as three days off, three days of pure pleasure.

Not two days, not a normal weekend BUT THREE...THREE days, three whole days of no work...

And then it dawned on me...this weekend has got chaos written all over it.

Chaos that commenced yesterday.

Yesterday the stupid D.O.G went under the knife in a dramatic operation...when I say dramatic she was having her bits removed..some may see that as routine. In my house with two small things who worry about the dog's every movement, it was dramatic.

Dropping her off at the vets on Thursday morning was nothing short of a traumatic separation. 

Separation anxiety that mainly oozed from every dog paw (see what I did there?)

As myself and the 9 year old left her standing forlorn in the vet's surgery, as she watched me with sad eyes pass the lead over to a stranger and leave her alone to face the knife, as she cried and whined as we left the vets, as the 9 year old blinked back the tears, I knew the return of the D.O.G was going to be a family trauma.

So as every good dog owner does, I rang (from my meeting, professional as ever) to check if said dog had died on the table. Luckily said dog had survived and was ready for pick up at 4.30pm - the same time I was due to pick the 9 year old up from cross country and 20 minutes before the hired hot tub was due to arrive for the 13 year old's birthday party...yep hot tub.

So like every self respecting working mum, I threw 12 balls up into the air and hoped to catch at least one nine (year old). 

Amazingly it all worked with precision timing. 

Not only did I remember to text the 13 year old (again from said meeting) to tell her I wouldn't be in when she got home from school (I may have forgotten that small detail in the morning chaos of the dramatic dog drop off), I left my meeting on time with some semblance of professional integrity, I got to school with 22 seconds to spare before cross country ended, dropped friend of 9 year old at home (again may have forgotten that I had promised to drop said friend off, but luckily the small things remembered), arrived home to greet 13 year old (who was of course slumped on couch with instagram a go go) met hot tub delivery man, left hot tub delivery man  in my garden to set up said hot tub to pick up very sad, sorry for herself conehead and returned home.

Donning my veterinary nurses attire, I settled conehead with the small things and went to check on the hot tub delivery.

And all this before 5.12pm.

In the amount of time that it had taken to pick up conehead and listen to very specific instructions on how to care for dog patient (including not letting the jumpiest dog in the world, not jump for TEN DAYS), the back garden had been transformed into a chavtastic homage to 13 year old birthday party heaven.

A hot tub, a giant connect 4, a marquee, a floating bar for the hot tub - and some more very specific instructions on how to ensure the hot tub keeps working for the entire weekend.

In the space of 20 minutes (whilst still wearing meeting attire) I had received two sets of very important instructions to ensure this weekend goes safely and without dog death whilst dealing with two hysterical small things who cannot cope with conehead's sadness.

The instructions have since merged and in my head go something like this:

  • there is a button I must not press on the hot tub as it could blow the entire street up (no idea which button)
  • there is a button I must not turn off otherwise said hot tub will mainly be a cold tub
  • there will be bubbles if I can find the bubbles button
  • in the event of high winds and the marquee blows away, it's my fault
  • the dog must not go in hot tub - or just must not jump. If conehead jumps and burst stitches, the cost to restitch is £400
  • Conehead must wear cone at all times especially when not swimming and not jumping in hot tub
  • Children must not be drunk in hot tub
  • No jumping in hot tub from bedroom window
  • Conehead must not jump from bedroom window
  • Something about filters and chemicals
  • Dog must eat - something about medicine and eating - or was that chemicals and eating

Anyway, there's some instructions in order to maintain safety this weekend. 

So finally last night, I remembered to feed the small things, the small things remembered to feed conehead with some medicine and I forgot to go for a run - but luckily running partner came round with much needed wine.

And so the start of the much awaited long weekend beckons - and I have still to buy appropriate 13 year old schiz to accessorise said party (this shopping list really mainly involves wine for me so I can cope with eight 13 year olds in my back garden shrieking OMG and LOLZ).

I'm sure it will all go to plan.  I'm sure the dog will be fine - and I'm sure the hot tub will be hot at the appointed hour - possibly.

Anyway - thank crunchie it's a long weekend and I can recover .... with conehead, a birthday party for eight 13 year olds, a hot tub in my garden and a family barbecue.

Pass me the wine.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Time flies...when you're a grown up

Time flies...when you're a grown up.

Seriously, how is it April? 

Not just the beginning of April - but the middle of April. 

We seem to have moved through this year faster than Matthew Mcconaughey can zip through time in that ridiculous syfy adventure InterStellar (now that was two hours of my life I will never get back although watching Matthew Mccwhatshisface is always a pleasure, maybe though next time on mute).

Pop on your rose-tinted glasses for a moment and cast your mind the good old days. 

Do you remember those halcyon days when you were growing up when the school holidays lasted forever, day after day of time to kill, to watch paint dry, to ponder whether you should get on your grifter or play another game of squash the red spider.

Now, it's just one giant blur, one day careering into the next at warp speed. One minute it's Christmas and then I blink and all of a sudden the May blossom is greeting me with a high five to hayfever. 

And then this morning the epiphany.

I realised. It's cos I is old. I'm a's happened. Peter Pan has flown the nest and the future is here, or was here, it's now hurtling into yesterday and we're hightailing it towards tomorrow - or something..but whatever it is, it's going blinkin fast.

Make. It. Stop.

There's not enough instgram pics to post to remember the moments as time swirls by - as my babies turn from small toddling towers of destruction into well ... bigger towers of destruction if my garden is anything to go by...

I want to get off.

I want to slow time. Apart from the fact I am not yet prepared to admit I am (ahem) forty-something (in my head I will always be 33 years old), I want to slow time to appreciate every single second of this chaos.

I want to be able to while away the days with my small things (wine in hand obviously) and I want to idly mooch from day to day.

But here's the conundrum - when I have a moochy day, I feel like I have wasted it. I feel like I have wasted time.

When on Sunday I lay on the couch and drooled, I mean watched, Matthew Mcwhatshisface space jump through time, I feel like I have wasted a day.

The day before we had climbed Catbells in the Lakes, the day before that we had walked round Ingleton Falls, the day before I'd worked, the day before something else had happened. I was craving a day of nothingness - and then when it happened, it didn't feel right. It didn't feel right just whiling away time.

It seems when we 'do' time moves ever so fast, but when we 'don't' we wish we were doing...

Does time get faster as we get older, does time spin out of control as we realise how precious it is - does it become something that feels just that little bit out of reach because we are constantly trying to catch up.

Do we avoid slowing down, because if we do then we have to accept our acceleration into our middle youth*?

Of course, I have none of the answers to this conundrum, I have searched for the crack in time so I can sneak back and forth to remind my younger self to cherish that moment in time..but I can't find it.

I do have wine though - and in the absence of time travel, I shall pour myself a small glass** of wine and stop - stop just for a moment - stop and look around and watch the clouds cruise lazily cross the sky.

Now where's my grifter?

*old age

** vase

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Making the most of them there moments

Moments make the memories

This weekend, the 9yo has informed me he has had the best weekend ever. 

How? We've done nothing extraordinary, we've not spent bucket loads of money and we've not travelled the globe.

We've spent the weekend doing not much with lovely people.

Here lies the list of things that make the 9yo buzz with joy...

1. Playing football (crossing in apparently) after school with his mate for two hours. TWO HOURS!
2. Being childminded by friend's son to whom he showcased his colouring app from his iPad - and friend's son (who is an awe-inspiring 15yo) liked it. This gave the 9yo kudos. 
(of course I had nipped to the pub with parents of said 15yo childminder for a cheeky Fizz Friday)
3. Eating an Indian past his bedtime (of course when we returned from early doors drinking on Fizz Friday, we brought an Indian back)*
4. Being allowed to sleep in bed with his mummy (of course I have added this one as he would never admit it, but it's true)
5. Going to the Lakes to see his mate who he used to go to school with
6. Watching two Harry Potters back to back
7. Eating bacon butties
8. Listening to loud music in the car. I did try to educate him on the merits of Neil Diamond, but it turns out Ed Sheeran makes him much happier
9. Drinking Lucozade Sports - which in turn gives him brain freeze
10. Me (again I may have added this to get the list to 10.)

This list was put together as we travelled back from the Lakes and he was telling me in detail what happens in back to back Harry Potter movies....with impressions of all the characters.

It got me thunking. His list of things that made the weekend was a list of moments. Small moments in time that together made a blinkin marvellous weekend.

These small fry could (occasionally) could teach us a thing of two. 

I promised myself this year I would count the moments, not constantly worry about the bigger picture, not worry about the future and not try and plan the most perfect path with a cottage at the end with rose-tinted windows looking out on the world.

In the main I'm not bad at doing this - but the wisdom of my 9yo today has reminded me it's the moments that make the memories.

If I ask him to remember a holiday or an occasion, he picks out something little that happened. Like last year in Cornwall when I played Volleyball with him over the washing line, or when Bessie (the stupid dog) made a nest in my bed and the small things thought it was hysterical (I didn't).

So here's my list of things of moments that have made the memories this weekend...

1. A glass of wine (of course this would top the list) with a good friend in front of a burning woodfire as the rain lashed down outside (this was made all the better by the fact good friend's husband was looking after the small things)
2. A daft text from a friend which made me laugh out loud
3. Singing loudly to Neil Diamond in the car (whilst having the added advantage of causing the 9yo a great deal of embarrassment)
4. Getting the text from my soon to be 13yo to tell me she is on her way home from her netball weekend (and is safe and sound) AND everything on the text was spelt perfectly
5. Walking into the house to be greeted by the stupid dog 
6. My independent 9yo padding into my bed at midnight (I know he should sleep in his own bed all night, but I'm rather confident he won't be doing this at 15 years old)
7. Bacon butties - with brown sauce
8. An arrangement for an easy tea in the pub 
9. Did I mention a glass of wine?
10. See above

So all in all on the rather wet and not so springy Sunday as me and the small fry snug down and watch Paddington, I am cherishing the moments, counting my blessings and thinking of pouring myself a glass of red.

*For the purposes of those worried about my parenting skills, the impromptu Indian that followed Fizz Friday was at 9.30pm  - not 1am....(does that make it any better?)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

A friend in need is a friend indeed...

It's not often words fail me. As most people that know me will testify.

My career has been mostly dedicated to the art of the written word, the spin of our beautiful language and yet so often in the last month I have found myself unable to find the words to describe life going on around me.

My beautiful friend (BF) has cancer. Well she doesn't just have cancer. She's frankly battling cancer and if that's not bad enough the crappy chemo is also trying to take her down. (I would replace crappy with another much more severe c-word but various other beautiful friends would really tell me off).

But this blog today isn't about that battle. It's not about the tears of sadness, frustration and anger we've all cried recently, it's about the beauty of human spirit.

I live in what can only be described as a community. Some of us live close as a gnat's chuff to each other (see the eloquence of my written word) and some of us have migrated a few more (thousand) miles away but what the bastard cancer has revealed is what a tight little community of fantastic people we are.

Human spirit has shone through in large dollops of friendship. When friends have felt helpless in this stupid situation that none of us can control we have resorted to practicalities. 

And when the practicalities have been done, we have resorted to full blown over emotional love-ins.

In a world where we can control most things - and a world where if we want something bad enough and we work hard enough, we can mainly achieve it. 

Cancer knows no such rules. Cancer just takes - and it doesn't matter how successful, wealthy, determined or ballsy we are, we can't control it or the journey it takes its victims on.

So we control what we can. The small details that makes the cogs go around the battle against cancer. The little details that can make things as easy as possible for everyone involved - and it's these small things that make me realise how priceless true friends really are. Of course I already knew that - but I've been reminded a lot lately.

There's not a day goes by when my BF has not had a food delivery, a friend pop round, a gift dropped off or a child distracted. And it's these mini details that count. 

And then amidst all this cancer chaos, there's the story of the actual small things - the children. Not just my beautiful friend's small things but mine too.

Watching mine deal with such raw emotion first hand has been a journey in itself.

My 8 year old who walked up to my BF and asked her almost shyly (even though he's known her since birth) if he could give her a hug. Which was gratefully received. The worry etched in my over anxious 12yo's face as she tries to come to terms with the cruelty of life. And the power of friendships. Watching how they support my BF's small things on a day to day basis mainly by trashing my house and doing my head in but never the less it distracts us all.

And then there is the small fry belonging to my BF. The stoic 12 yo who is still able to rebel against authority and yet watches her mum's every movement. And the nearly 11yo who wears his heart on his sleeve and still finds a reason to smile every day.

This is life. It's the day to day acts of our small things that we look to, to reveal how we should live. For the moment, for the here and now - and for the smiles you can get from finding a perfectly shaped conker or baking a rainbow cake.

Today I am watching the small things with increased respect. Obviously I'm still shouting a lot otherwise everyone would get very nervous.

This is life.  The community I live in that I'm grateful for, the friendships that are strong and true.

Those true friendships are not only supporting my BF but me too; I've had deliveries of flowers, vodka infused strawberries left on my doorstep (oh yes, you read that right) and stacks of croissants delivered for when the BF's small things are also present at breakfast. 

Oh yes, it appears I have chosen my friends wisely. And then there's my lovely friends who have simply sent a text to check up on ME (and it's not even me going through the bastard cancer) that make me realise what makes the world go round.

And all through this there is the centre piece to this story - my beautiful friend. 

Strong, determined, fierce, vulnerable and of course beautiful. She managed to laugh as we shaved her head giving her a lovely mullet (we did of course do the proper thing after we'd all had a good laugh). She's been cross, she's shouted and she's cried. 

And mainly she's still in control - we've all had barked instructions from the hospital bed, the chemo ward and the bedroom. 

And mainly she's trying as hard as she can to stick two fingers up at this bastard disease. I'm not sure I would be able to greet each day with the grit and determination she has. Mind you we did have to have words about some of the post cancer diagnosis outfits of choice. 

So here's my revised survival guide for when things are crap. 

I appreciate that as a result many of you could need to review your friendships - and now is the time to do it, because should you be ill or your friend be ill, you need to make sure the right stash lands on your doorstep.

The key to surviving crap includes:
  • Vodka infused strawberries
  • Laughing 
  • Good crying*
  • Gladioli 
  • Spiced salmon and stir fry (cooked by friend's husband, as this friend doesn't cook)
  • Curries and chat on a Saturday night
  • Silly daft ridiculous texting
  • My beautiful mum
  • My family
  • My fabulous friends
  • And of course my small things

Now before you all get your hankies out at this overly 'soppy as shite' blog (again spot the eloquence of delivery), what I'm mainly trying to do is help you all live your life better. Of course NEVER under-estimate the power of wine.

And finally, if you don't have friends that know how to make vodka infused strawberries (that were also coated in chocolate) you're really missing out and I suggest you start interviewing for one now. Sadly mine is taken.

*Good crying. I have been told that if you cry a river and feel better afterwards, you can cry. If you cry a river and still feel pants after, that's bad crying and you have to distract yourself and avoid at all costs.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Summer Juggling

Shush......The silence is deafening

Summer is here.

The sun is actually shining - and parents throughout the UK welcome the summer holidays with a sigh of relief.

Okay - that last sentence is a complete lie. 

Six weeks - six whole weeks - that 30 working days to fill with children's entertainment. Or in my case eight weeks as the 12 year old kindly broke up a week before the 8 year and the 8 year is going back a week after the 12 year old.

My diary looks like someone has thrown up childcare arrangements all over - and I have that niggling feeling that I have forgotten something - or someone important. Probably one of my children.

Every week has a plan - and what can only be described as a rough schedule attached to that plan - with post it notes on top of the plan - and red circles highlighting the really important things on the post it notes.

The years in PR organising client events have nothing on the organisational precision and attention to detail that goes into summer holiday small thing planning.

This week they have been thrown at the in-laws - as I write they are on a boat somewhere on the River Wyre with Grandma and Grandpa. Well I think they are on a boat - I received a picture but all I could see was Grandma and Grandpa - and wine - and frankly a rather ropey looking boat - no sign of the small things. 

Have they already fallen in? Is the eight year old trapped under the boat (yep that was last night's nightmare). 

The small things are at the in-laws all week, which should make me jump for joy at the sense of freedom I have - the evenings spread before me, dinner with friends planned and actual proper working days await me - however the house just seems a wee bit empty and just on the edge of quiet. Even the daft dog is wandering from room to room searching for something.

I think as parents we are never quite happy - we crave the silence. When the 12 year is pecking my head with her constant questions, opinions and smart arse answers, I beg her to be quiet - and now the house is silent, I'm craving the chaos.

Of course, those who know me will know that winesday awaits me - and the bliss of not having to do the school run is so far outweighing my craving for said chaos.

I also know that this weekend I am taking the small things to their first festival - and the neurotic worry that will accompany that 'care-free' adventure will be enough to occupy most of the quiet this week.

So all in all, I am going to try and enjoy the peace and quiet...really...I am.