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Wednesday 25 July 2012

School Summer Holiday Thoughts

Ah, the long, lazy summer holidays...right?


As a working parent there's really no such thing. No lie-ins, no lazy days in the garden, no end to the "school run" and the rush to work (only this time it's the "holiday club run"). It can be hard sometimes not to feel a pang of jealousy when you are rushing to get children ready for childcare with half an eye on Twitter, when you read about others sipping coffee in a peaceful house. (This of course assumes you are lucky enough to have few childcare issues over the holidays - not necessarily always a given!)

By around day three, however, and mentions of "boredom", grumbles about the cost of activities, wailing at ruined houses start to appear, tales of kids eating into adult time by staying up late... By the middle of that blissful six-week period, when the "MY KIDS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY, WHEN ARE THEY GOING BACK TO SCHOOL" desperation kicks in, I am reminded that it's not easy for anyone - no matter how much greener the grass sometimes looks like from the other side. 

Then there's the fact that, without fail, one of my family can be guaranteed to come down with some kind of illness during a school holiday. It's as though the lack of routine is too much for the body to cope with, so it forces a relaxation. Last weekend it was me, and at the time of writing it appears to have affected daughter number 2. There's nothing like spending a sunny day in bed to really feel like you are wasting precious "leisure" time!

All of that, however, doesn't seem to matter at the moment, for when the sun shines the mood is instantly lifted. So - whatever you're doing - I hope you have a lovely summer!

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Hair Dilemmas

Hair is weird, isn't it? Women spend forever fussing over it. If it's not removing excess body hair (a whole separate subject in its own right), it's fiddling with the stuff on our heads.
My own hair has been on my mind a lot lately as I know it's time for another visit to the hairdresser. I know this, because I have started tying my hair back a lot because it just doesn't quite sit right any more. Luckily I know a trip to my trusty salon will sort me out pretty quickly. (I've perfected the art of the messy bun by now, and although I'd love to attempt a thick, luscious ponytail as modelled by Victoria Beckham et al, somehow it just looks like a scraggy 5 year old's... which does make me wonder - how old is too old for a ponytail?) 

I have a good relationship with my hairdresser - I've been going to the same salon for longer than I care to remember, and, with the exception of her two maternity leaves, the same stylist has chopped my locks for that time (including wedding hair, the lot). It's fair to say I trust her judgement and she knows the kind of thing that would work with my "lifestyle", my poker straight tresses, face shape, blah, blah.

It's been a while since my last visit, and I probably shouldn't have left it as long as I have. It's been even longer since I last had the colour tended to. Much as it might shock some of you to learn (ahem), while I would class myself as a "natural blonde" for want of any other definition, the shade I have sported for probably the last ten years is a tad lighter than what nature blessed me with. I have to look back at old pictures to remind myself that I actually quite like my natural colour. Unfortunately for it, most of the time now I merely think of it as "roots" when the blonde highlights haven't been touched up.

All those chemicals can't be good for it, however, and I think it might be time to give my hair a bit of a rest from all those poxygloxylycins. The thing that has occurred to me, however, is what happens if the colour underneath has changed after all these years? What if I'm - horror of horrors - going grey?! Of course there is really only one way to find out, and luckily for women it's more socially acceptable to go back to dying hair...

Maybe I should try a blonde afro?

Monday 16 July 2012

Stream of Consciousness

"Right, that's it, 12 o'clock, best get ready to go the chiropractor. I suppose I'd better just check my emails quickly before I go. Oh look, another letter about headlice in reception. God, I hope it's not my child. Must remember to check when she comes home. Funny how it's always in reception though - never seem to have a letter about DD1's class at all. Who are these reception children that ALWAYS seems to have headlice? 

Right, keys, purse, bag. Wellies or no wellies? I always look like a right muppet traipsing around town in my wellies. Still, at least I'll be a muppet with dry feet. Ah, what the heck,I'll live dangerously and wear my converse. 

Hmm, should have worn wellies. Serves me right. Should have remembered the park is wet and muddy. Hate walking through here when it's raining and there's nobody about other than weirdoes and winos. What's that bloke over there doing? He looks shifty. I hope he's not a flasher. Do flashers come out in the cold and wet? I suppose if they consciously go out to flash people then maybe they don't. Fair weather flashers? If they are opportunistic flashers maybe they might risk it. Still, probably won't see much if he does flash. Stupid hood, can hardly see where the hell I'm going. Must remember to laugh and be relaxed if I do get flashed. "Ha ha, is that all you've got?" 
Oh no, wait, that bloke's on the phone, and he's got a dog with him. Do flashers have dogs? I guess maybe not if they are planning to flash anyone. Might hinder their getaway if they have to round up their mutt first. Mind you, dogs are supposed to be on leads in this park. 

I'm sure it can't be normal to think all of these things all the time. I think I spend too much time on my own. What does it say about me that I appear to have an obsessions with mens' knobs in the park? Does that make me as much of a pervert as them? No, no, I'm merely undertaking a sensible risk assessment. Always watching out for danger, that's me. Not worrying or over-thinking at all, no sirree.

Right, out of the park, past school. Why on earth did I not have something to eat before I came out? I can smell the school dinners. They smell soooooo goooooood. Dammit I'm hungry. Must remember to use some of that lettuce when I get home. Would hate for it to go to waste. What was on the school menu today? Oh yes, pasta bake. Could murder a pasta bake now. Beats wilted lettuce anyway. 

Phew, nearly there. Oh look, it's cheerful receptionist lady. I hope the chiropractor is not running late, I'm not in the mood for small talk today. Just want to get in, read some crappy magazines and get back to my lettuce. 

Arse. Left my phone at home - can't even tweet while I'm waiting. Maybe I'll just mull over a blog post in my head instead..."

Stream of Consciousness by Chicago Art Department on Flickr

Tuesday 10 July 2012

I would do anything for love...

Two totally unrelated things last week had me mulling over the sacrifices some people will make for those they love.
Firstly, the lovely Amy at and 1 more means four...and 1 more blogged about giving up her bedroom to make space for her children. Secondly I heard of a former colleague who had left her husband and kids and was moving to New Zealand to be with "the love of her life".

Two slightly different scenarios, I think you'll agree, but it did get me wondering what sort of lengths I personally would be prepared to go to if push came to shove. I occasionally idly throw out the "I would do anything for my children" line without thinking about it too much, and in a lot of ways I mean that - but let's face it, even that has some limits. I won't tattoo their names on my face, for example, no matter how much they begged me....

In all seriousness and at the risk of sounding horribly smug and privileged, the only thing could think of having done was changing my holiday preferences. I've blogged before about how I grit my teeth and go skiing for sake of my husband's love of the sport, and since the last year I guess I can add camping to the mix too. Whenever I tell anyone that knows me well, but that maybe I have not seen in a while, that we have recently bought a tent and I have (semi-)willingly spent several nights under canvas, their reaction is always the same dubious expression and a "I can't see you as a camper". It seems my love of the little luxuries in life is well documented. The thing is though, the kids LOVE camping, and, similar to skiing, we've always been with other people, making it a very sociable holiday. The expressions on their muddy little faces makes up for the lack of en-suite facilities...just.

(That, however, is a piece of cake in comparison to what some people do for their children - let's face it, even camping isn't the cheap holiday it's often sold as if you have to invest in some of the equipment, and I'm well aware there are those that can't afford a holiday of any description.)

Putting up with a couple of nights in a tent is nothing compared to deciding to give up your bedroom and permanently move into your living room, as Amy and her husband decided to do. That is probably also a drop in the ocean in comparison to the decision to leave your children and not only move to a different country, but to the other side of the world. I'm not going to judge this person at all - I don't know too much about the circumstances. However, much as I sometimes curse my own little blighters, I don't think any romance could ever make up for the fact of only seeing my daughters twice a year.

I don't think I could do that.

(Anyway, I'll leave you with this. Because THAT'S how much I love you all, and I know you're already humming it anyway...)

Monday 2 July 2012

The One In Which I Remember The Point I Forgot to Add To My Last Post

(.....also known as The One In Which The Sun Shines Out Of My Head.)

My previous post about the signs of my mid-life crisis already included the vaguely fashion-related point, but as we old people are allowed to be scatty and generally fickle, I'm going to blather on about a vaguely clothing-related subject for a bit longer.

I've never really classed myself as a major fashionista. In fact, since working from home, I ashamed to say that my "style" is more slobby than smart. It may therefore come as a bit of a shock to most people to discover that I do actually have a vague interest in fashion and clothing - almost as a "spectator sport", or as one would appreciate art - I wouldn't necessarily hang all of it on my walls, but I can certainly appreciate the design that has gone into it. I think it's fair to say that my personal aim, however, has always been to be "stylish", rather than "fashionable" (a vague dalliance with high fashion in the 80s has left me with enough photographic evidence to prove that slavishly following trends is not always a Good Idea).

My head tells me about the importance of the capsule wardrobe and regularly warns against the dangers of the impulse purchase that does not follow my self-imposed rules. Having said this, there are generally one or two items in my wardrobe that probably go against this general principle. The interesting thing is that some of these items are much loved by myself, and yet appear to create great consternation amongst both my husband and my children when I wear them.

Exhibit one - this fabulous Pringle kimono cardigan that I bought a few years ago at the height of my "I'm never buying anything black ever again" phase. (Note the colour). Some things are bargains you just fall in love with and simply blow any rules out of the window.

Needless to say, the photo above does not do it justice in the slightest. The reason I love it is its versatility  - it can be light and airy for a cooler summer day when worn with a vest top underneath, and yet also fabulously warm when I hide my arms in the vast billowing sleeves.

And yet whenever I wear this much-loved item, I can guarantee that at least one of my children will ask why I am wearing it, or comment about me "looking funny". The adult me should respond in a perfectly rational, grown-up way, maybe explaining why this item is so beloved....and yet what seems to happen instead is that I suddenly turn into my teenage self and have flashbacks to the sulky reactions I had whenever my mother used to gently criticise my fashion choices.(It is at this point I should probably grudgingly agree that she may have had a point about the stripey purple cropped dungarees).

In conclusion - if middle age is about finding the things that make you happy and not caring what other people think, I'm definitely all in favour.


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