A Night At The Popera

I can now officially tick Operatic Pop off the list of things I needed to see before I become more of a loner than I already am and eventually retire on a remote island where there are no other people and nothing at all to do but melt away into my own bitterness. I’m such a hoot.

I am definitely a West End girl as you will know if you’ve ever read this blog. Due to certain things happening this year, I haven’t been able to get back to London in months for a show. So when the lovely Tommy Goodridge announced he was off on a tour with the Vox Fortura lads as a support act to G4 on the Back For Good tour, and that they would be stopping at Clacton-On-Sea, I decided I had to see it.

Vox Fortura had already greatly surprised me after being on Britains Got Talent. I have never really listened to opera music, nor did I ever watch a series of Britains Got Talent until this year. I will be the first to admit that I only tuned in to see how Thomas got on. I didn’t realise just how much I would love Vox Fortura and their unique style of singing. And I certainly didn’t realise that I would be jumping at the chance to see them as a support act on tour.

The perfect cherry on top was my bestie phoning me up to say that she wanted to travel for an insane amount of hours and come and see them with me, so we planned the weekend and counted down the days.

In the lead up, I of course downloaded Vox Forturas album Heroes on iTunes and listened to it all the time. Not because I had to. Not because I thought I should as I was going to see them at a show. But because I fell absolutely in love with it. Well done Tommy G, knew you would be doing albums and all that jazz one day!!

In booking the show to see Vox Fortura, I hadn’t really figured out what I would think of G4. I mean, I’d heard them before and thought they were good, but I couldn’t say what I would feel. I didn’t know much about the genre they did. I tend to get so wrapped up in one thing (theatre, books, a good old Netflix series) that I forget to explore the other things that are out there. So I set off for the weekend forgetting about everything else except for the fact that, A) I would get to see my best friend and B) I would at last get to see Vox Fortura on stage.

I met Ali at the train station after she traveled for an absolute insane amount of time and off we went to check into the Premier Inn on the sea front. There, we were greeted by a lovely, friendly guy who was happy to chat and ask us why we were there. It’s the little things like that which make or break a weekend. Then we ran to grab some food. We went for classy and decided to dine in Mcdonalds. Yes. Dine. We even had napkins and everything. Have you ever known anything so posh? No. Didn’t think so.

We got to the theatre and sat in our seats in the stalls. With a malibu and coke of course. When in Rome. Or when In Clacton-On-sea. Same, same.

From the moment G4 came on in their glowing suits singing a medley of Queen, I was sold. I decided in the first thirty seconds that I was already a G4 fangirl. It was that instant. Some people have either got it, or they ain’t….and G4 have got it. It was right up my street. Not knowing much about them, I expected them to do a set list and have amazing vocals and walk away being like’Ah, that was nice.’

I wasn’t prepared for just how good their vocals were. I wasn’t prepared to enjoy every single song. And I honestly wasn’t prepared for how funny they were. In between songs, they had me in stitches. I would go from laughing like a loon, to getting chills when they sang. The variety they packed into the show was endless. They did the Queen medley as mentioned above, they did a musical theatre medley, a boyband/pop song medley, classic opera songs, they even serenaded some lucky lady in the audience. They did a medley inspired by the live shows they’ve seen and all of it was just brilliant!

I do have a particular stand out moment from G4 of the night though, and I have to try and write it down so you get what I was feeling. As a tiny tot aged 3, my old fashioned Dad sat me down to watch a film that would become my all time favourite film ever. Carousel. I have watched the film hundreds of times. I have mentioned it in this blog. I tell everyone to watch it. The songs are all beautiful, but one song in particular….You’ll Never Walk Alone….is everything. Many people now (unfortunately) associate the song with football, but it means so much to me. It means my childhood and dreams all wrapped into one. So when the theatre hushed and the music started up for this song, I honestly nearly jumped off my seat I was that excited. Jonathan and the boys did the most haunting, gorgeous version of You’ll Never Walk Alone and I had to hold back the tears. It just felt perfect hearing that sung so beautifully after a difficult nine months or so. That is a moment from a show that will stay with me forever and I thank G4 for not knowingly giving me such a wonderful gift.

My other stand out moment came just before the interval. I had already been completely sold and hypnotised by G4 by the time the Vox Fortura men walked on stage to join them and another great support act (a fifteen year old opera singer called Katie who was just brilliant) to sing One Day More from Les Miserables. There were flags and everything. Flags! (Writing tonights blog has perhaps made me realise I need to get out more.) It was so awesome seeing Tommy up there with all the other guys singing such a powerful number.

During the second act, Vox Fortura got to do their songs. And woah!! Having listened to their album on repeat for a few weeks now, seeing the songs performed live was all kinds of lush. The whole theatre was silent as we listened to the unique and gorgeous voices on stage. But seeing Thomas sing Make It Rain was so worth it. He was so good! He was proper in the zone and I love how much passion Vox Fortura put into it. It is also so bloody nice to see such a kind and talented guy do so well for himself. He looked like a complete pop star up there, and I sincerely hope the group go on to have tours of their own and bring more albums out. I definitely think the music world is missing an act like Vox Fortura, they are needed to inject some life into what we hear on the radio right now.

Then it was back to G4 where they performed classics like Livin On A Prayer and I Want To Know What Love Is which gave me and Ali flashbacks for the show that started it all, Rock Of Ages. The talent on the stage was something else and the way Jonathan held some of those notes was incredible. But G4 work so well, because each of the men are so good at what they do.

At the end of the show, both groups and Katie were standing in the hall for a signing and chat. We couldn’t leave without telling Thomas he was great, so we decided to queue up, not thinking it through. Because by the time we arrived at G4, I had nothing for them to sign. And me being me, told them so. Awkwardly. They were SO lovely about it! We all know I have a tendency to say stupid things but luckily they were super sweet, and I feel like I talked so much AT them, they kind of didn’t notice anymore how weird I had initially been. Also, a very kind theatre guy overheard the conversation and probably took pity on me as I was handed a flyer which then got signed. Phew. We moved down the line and said to Katie how brilliant she was. I really hope she goes far. Then we came to Vox Fortura. I was actually nervous about seeing the other guys!! I had obviously built them up to be superstars in my head. The three of them were lovely and it was so nice seeing Rodney, Julias Williams III and Elias face to face! Then it was time to tell Tommy how great he was. It was so lovely to see him again, it’s been so so so long. The only awkward thing about the night….(you know, the only bad thing after telling all of G4 that I had nothing for them to sign and all that jazz) was when we asked Thomas if he could say a quick hi outside, and he said  yes, so off we went to wait which is not really a thing you do at a concert show.

Then we suddenly realised just how stupid we looked, we were standing right near peoples coaches, people probably being G4 , who had no idea that we were outside to say a quick bye to Thomas. And that was a huge problem, because if they would have come out…they would have come out and thought it was incredibly rude that we were hanging around outside when they had already given us their time in the hall. It wasn’t a West End stage door after all, and we would have been absolutely mortified if anyone thought we were there trying to catch more glimpses of G4 because that is just not what was intended…. So then we were seriously torn if we should just go, but then we felt bad as we said we would say bye…and I don’t know, I just wanted to explain that in case anyone saw us that night being strange at the back of the theatre. In the end, we just kind of half crouched behind a tree. Which obviously looked worse. But luckily, we don’t think anyone saw us and we did get a goodbye with Thomas.

We also bumped into him this morning as we explored Clacton, which was nice but also a little bit mortifying on three hours sleep and looking like I’d been in a tumble dryer for seven hours.

When we got back to the hotel, Ali and I had our own mini late Birthday celebrations and it was such a gorgeous night. Today was spent strolling on the beach, eating banana sauce flavoured ice-creams and drinking tea on the promenade. And unfortunately for Ali, her day was also spent with two hundred million and fifty six hours travelling. It only took me an hour to get home. (Sorry to brag love, you still on that train?!)

It was a much needed day away for me, and I enjoyed every minute. I will now forever look back on the 23rd of September with magical memories. I will also love Vox Fortura more each day and become a fully fledged G4 fangirl. You know, in between work, life and waiting for Hugh Jackman to hurry up and whisk me away to a private exotic island where we can listen to Popera forever more.

And speaking of Popera, I’ve just found G4s Christmas album on itunes. Boom!

Bank Holiday Blues….

When I escaped retail and hospitality, I also escaped having to work on a bank holiday. For many years, I have stood behind a counter or a salon chair, watching others get out and enjoy their bank holibobs. Of course, the same applies for all the emergency service workers, care workers, waiting staff and all the other great people that have to work on a holiday. It wasn’t just me. But I used to stand there and want so badly to be out there enjoying it all. I would get people in who would actually moan about it being a BH , and I would want to eyeball evil them until they melted.

So now I am out of that world and able to enjoy the BH with the BH humans (I feel like Ariel feels when she gets legs.), the Littles and I thought we should set out on a day trip. Just like always, I suggested the beach. Everything seems better at the beach. I am still pretty hopeful that I can retire on some exotic island with Hugh Jackman somewhere in the future, but that is a topic for another day.

Before we left, we huddled together and had a major chat about beach safety. In the last two weeks, twelve people have died on UK beaches which is an absolute tragedy, and a reminder to drive home what we do and don’t do when faced with Mother Nature. The Littles have listened carefully all week, they definitely get that an ocean is not to be taken lightly. It is important the kids have a sense of fun and excitement while being cautious. I will be the first to admit I would rather them always be over cautious than anything if it means them being as safe as possible.

When we arrived, it was even more glorious than we first expected it to be. The weather was getting warmer and warmer during the car journey, by the time we arrived it was a gorgeous summers day. And not even too stifling like it has been all week, maybe because we were near the coast. It was perfect. We strolled down to the sea front, spent a few pennies in some good old fashioned arcades, then made our way to the sea, sun and sand.

The Littles had their swimming gear at the ready, but we decided to go in with our clothes on first for just a paddle. Our paddle lasted just two minutes before they decided to brave it with swim wear. The ocean was dreamy, warm and somewhat clear for an English beach! Clearer than it looks on our pictures anyway. The sand was all rippling underneath our toes and it was PERFECT. We got lost for an hour or two, the kids splashing away and swimming while we put an endless cycle of sun lotion on and drunk plenty of fluids.

After a while, we dried off and reluctantly made a move from our little spot of lush-ness. I told the kids not to put their shoes on until we were on the concrete, so we went up the ramp and stopped while they were de-sanding themselves and of course, this took about ten hours. While we were stopped, we jumped suddenly as a bag filled with stuff came crashing down near my feet. Right next to us was a grandma, a mother and a boy who looked older than Lex, but younger than Leona. He was clearly in a meltdown about something and was the one that had thrown the bag in a strop.

His grandma told him it was time to go and to pick the bag up, to which the young boy of around eight screamed… “I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING LEAVE, THAT FUCKING BAG IS HEAVY, I’M NOT TAKING IT. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME YOU BITCH.”

My kids looked at me in horror. Now listen folks, they know what a swear word is. Their granddad swears and doesn’t even realise he’s doing it half the time. He will do it in a way that’s like ….. “Oh, I fucking love this song.” or “Ha, I pissed myself laughing.” kind. I swear myself. I am certainly no angel. In fact, my best friend will testify that I swear too much when I am upset or stressed. I have always made sure not to swear in front of the Littles, but I am sure at some point over the last ten years one or two may have slipped out near them. They also have kids in their class who have sworn before. So I am not being blind to the fact that it happens or that they themselves will never swear, but we didn’t expect to hear it yelled like that on a packed beach on a lovely summers day.

The mother of this boy just walked away and left him there, while the grandma told him again to get a move on and pick up the bag. He yelled a few more swear words and stood there, his arms folded. I swiftly told my kids to make an exit, and just as we started walking, we saw grandma pick the bag up, put it in his hand and him slinging it again  as hard as he could, this time narrowly missing an older couple, yelling the F word at the top of his voice and even trying to push his grandma. Then the Mum wandered back and they all started swearing and yelling at each other. I did see two people walk up to them to no doubt say something but we didn’t stay long enough to find out what happened. It was a horrible sight to see and the Littles kept asking me why they were all so angry. I guess they are quite simplistic and think….we have a beach, we have the sun, we have everything we could want, so why all the upset?. I explained that some people are going through struggles and that although I didn’t agree with the boy or the adults (especially the adults, because it is no doubt where the boy learnt it from) yelling at each other like that….we don’t know what is going on in their lives and we never will. They might be going through something. Who knows.

We went to get some food while I sympathised with the staff, particularly one girl who was dealing with an extremely rude table and looked like she wanted to cry. The food was lovely and the kids had almost forgotten about the incident with the boy. We decided to go shopping in the town and it was a successful trip all round, even if I did feel guilty about every single person stuck behind a till today.

As we were walking back to the car, we heard some shouting and commotion behind us. My sister who was on the trip with us was sorting through her bag for something so we had to stop. The shouting got nearer and after a while, a woman, probably mid thirties had nearly stopped alongside us, shouting all sorts of disgusting stuff, including the C-word. She had a buggy with her and a baby of what looked to be around a year old.  She was shouting and swaying, she looked drunk.

“LOOK WHAT HE’S FUCKING DONE TO MY BUGGY. HE’S AN ABSOLUTE FUCKING C*** I CAN’T FUCKING BELIEVE HIM THE STUPID PRICK. HE’S FUCKING BROKEN MY FUCKING BUGGY. YOU GET HERE NOW YOU TWAT.”

This went on for some time so we obviously walked away, but she started following and shouting. We crossed the road and though she wasn’t following US, she was going the same way. As we crossed, we saw a man and a young boy, again around eight or nine and the boy was shouting as well.

“MUM STOP BEING  A FUCKING BELL END, HE DIDN’T FUCKING MEAN TO BREAK THE BUGGY.”

Then what was clearly her partner, the man, piped up…

“YOU ARE A STUPID BITCH. YOU’VE SPENT ALL MY MONEY AND THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT ME YOU BITCH,EVERYONE’S FUCKING LOOKING AT US NOW.”

All this between the adults while the young boy started kicking stones in the general direction of a car. A little girl of about three who was on her Dads shoulders burst out crying because they were being so loud. They were definitely being pretty disruptive. When we got in the car, Lex asked if I thought that family were acting for a TV show. I know it is probably wrong to let him believe something that’s false, but I just said yes, maybe she was. He just couldn’t get into his little head that people would be that awful to each other on a crowded street. As we drove home, he had all sorts of ideas running through his brain like how those people were probably filming a cop show (yes, he said cop, he’s a teeny bit American, clearly.) and how he wouldn’t be able to watch it because of all the bad words. I just let him go with it. They probably will have to see fights and arguments and awful stuff as they get older, so if I can make it a tiny bit easier on them when they are little then so be it.

I know that what I’m about to say makes me sound entitled and pretentious and oh so perfect and whatever else you want to call me, but those people definitely did put a dark cloud on what was a perfect day. As I told the kids about the first young boy and how he and his family might be going through some stuff, it could also be true for the second family we saw….but aren’t we all going through stuff? I saw at least one little girl scared by what was going on and my two question it all day, and I don’t think that’s fair. Everyone was trying to have a nice bank holiday. I saw a delightful old man, flat cap, walking stick, braces…. all the good bits, walking along the sea front whistling joyfully as if he’d never had a happier day. I saw a mum and dad, under one of those beach tent things trying to shade their teeny baby and laughing at her making a face. I saw my two splashing around and having the greatest time. It wasn’t fair of those people, those two families, to make a whole bunch of other people feel uncomfortable and like they had to get away. And it’s hard to even say anything nowadays, I know when I was little my parents just might have said something to the families, and asked them not to swear in front of all the other younger kids. But these days you can’t say anything without people accusing you of sticking your nose in and ‘judging’ their parenting. I wasn’t, for the record, ‘judging’ their parenting, but I was certainly judging the way they felt it acceptable to shout words like that on a beach full of children. As we got nearer to home, my kids were bickering in the back about who had just sung along to the radio better. It went on and on and on. And I am pretty sure I saw an elbow jab or two. But they weren’t ruining everyone else’s day with it. They weren’t terrifying other people.

So what would have been a perfect bank holiday, a holiday which I especially….really, really appreciated having off to be out with the kids, was slightly marred by the aggressiveness of certain people and things going on around us. And I think that’s a shame.

How did you spend your BH? Leave a comment below and I will get back to you!! I’ll leave you some pictures which for once, have to do with the blog post!!

P.S – I know there are some new readers … (hi guys!!) and I just wanted to say about the pictures above, Lex has a noticeable birthmark on his lower back. I always explain this away because he does get stared at during swimming, P.E or going to the beach. It doesn’t affect him or make him feel self conscious in anyway, and we call it his little upside down heart!! Because it is. Thanks for reading xx

Back To School Shopping

The words Back To School shopping are enough to fill most parents with dread. The money, the crowds, the money, the size issues, the money, the moody kids, the money…..it can make you want to scream into a pillow for a good five minutes. But if the signs and advertising campaigns send shivers down your poor aching spine, you are not alone.

Picture the scene…. There I am, sitting in my kitchen, writing a list of everything the Littles need for the new school year. Joining me, on my face, was snot, my regular visitor. I am sill being attacked by a huge amount of hayfever, and despite my many natural and medicated attempts and getting rd of the pest for good, it lingers. And this year it is the worst it has ever been, so that is good news.  Even writing a few simple things on a list was enough for me. All I had to do was write a single letter and the sneezing and streamy eyes would disorientate me so I had to start again. Add to that the two littles buzzing round me like hyperactive flies and me being covered in a giant sheen of sweat because of this insane heat the UK has been having, I looked proper attractive. (Attractive/Hideous snotty sweating mess is one and the same thing). By the time the car was parked and I entered the shop, still sneezing, with two littles at my side who had now switched from ‘hyperactive buzzy fly’ mode to ‘let’s bicker about everything’ mode….I already wanted to go home.

Has anyone noticed how the shops advertise the whole Back To School shopping extravaganza as some sort of holiday that is better than Disneyland? All the posters and wonderfully cheeky kiddish adverts of little ones strutting about with fancy book bags and crisp, ironed shirts.The reality is that going shopping for school supplies is like being stuck in traffic on the M25. Not great.  I do have some pointers on how the shops could make the experience better for all the Mums that do the B2S shop. (Sorry Dads, I will have to come up with something for you guys.) Unlimited coffee, Hugh Jackman as a personal assistant and sudden but extreme price drops. (OK, do this with the Dads but swap Hugh Jackman for Mila Kunis or something.)

I will be the first to admit, I have been in no hurry to get things done this summer holiday of 2016, so I naturally left everything for the week before they go back to school. I would love to say I am one of those parents that has had their kids clothes on hangers and bags packed while searching for natural, organic lunch box recipies all within the first week of summer, but I am most definitely not that type of parent. Far from it. I am the ‘Ah well, they are bound to have something left in the shops by then’ type Mum. The ‘Oh crap, I forgot to iron anything, let’s just hope the creases blend in with the world’ type Mum. The ‘ Who the hell has got time to make long fancy recipies for lunchboxes even though it is probably healthy for the littles, but hey I’ll just pop a sandwich and yoghurt in anyway’ type of Mum.

Anyone hat knows me will vouch for the fact that my children are pretty well behaved, so with that in mind I thought it would be nice for them to pick out their own stuff rather than me just dumping everything I can find into a trolley with no thought whatsoever. In hindsight, it would have been a speedier shopping trip if I had of picked their things, but definitely not as informative or educational. In my experience so far of raising two children of the opposite sex, boys are laid back and easy when it comes to stuff like this, where as girls are that bit more fussy. *Again, in my experience before anyone comes out with the stereotyping line!!!*

Me: *Armed with trolley, list and plenty of tissues for my ridiculous off the scale hayfever, I am invincible, nothing can go wrong.

“Right Leona, first up is the exciting task of picking out knickers.” (Do you guys do this? They both have plenty of underwear but for some absurd reason, every year, they need new ‘school underwear’ ….. I still haven’t figured out why we do this but …it’s just a thing. What are your ‘Back to School’ traditions? Leave me a comment below!)

Leona: *Stares at wall of underwear for quite some time. A few minutes tick by and I realise this is going to be a longer shopping trip than first thought.*

Me: “Come on then, it’s not hard. They are all pretty much the same.” (My patience lasted around five seconds, that is quite pathetic even by my own standards.)

Leona: “I don’t want pink.”

*Thoroughly looks at every pack of knickers before eventually settling on pink.*

**Same scenario happens with crop tops and vests.**

Me: “Right, socks time!! Remember we are going for the plain ones as they are for school.”

Leona: *Stares at the three choices of white, grey and black socks for way longer than necessary.*

“White please.” *Breaks into song, One Directions History if anyone was interested. This time, thankfully, not operatic style which she usually favours.*

Me: -Picks a packet of white ankle socks off the wall in her size.-

Leona: “No, wait! You’ve picked up the ankle socks. I wanted the knee highs. Knee highs are way cooler than ankle socks.” (Ha! She is so my daughter. Wonderful little nerd with an affection for knee high socks and no idea that they are not even that cool. I know, I know. It came as a surprise to me as well.)

Me: *Roots through the knee highs until I eventually find her size right at the back.*

“Now you have to pick your uniform. You wore out all your clothes last year and we are down to one summer dress so you need to pick some good choices here.”

Leona and I discuss the merits of skirts, trousers and pinafore dresses while my poor son looks bored out of his little head. Trousers are completely out of the window because Leona has always been a girly girl. And how on earth would she show case her funky knee high socks if she wears trousers? She only wears trousers if she has to. The next option to go are  the dresses. She feels that as she already has a dress, she will go with the skirt option where you get two in a pack. Great value for my purse so that’s a victory.  But just as I think we are done with this particular garment, the whole issue of black, grey or navy comes up. Admittedly, we are lucky with their school who are quite forgiving with colours when it comes to uniform. The only rule they really have is to have a green jumper/cardigan, but black, grey or navy are allowed as a bottom. Great for when everything is in the wash and you can switch to grey trousers, not so great for when your daughter is taking an hour trying to decide what to choose. She settled for grey in the end.

Next up were school shirts. Have you guys ever been school shirt shopping? There are girls, boys and unisex. There are polo shirts, mainly white…some coloured. There are polo shirts with frilly sleeves and pockets. There are plain no collared t-shirts. There are button ups, long sleeved and short sleeved. There are easy iron and basically every combination of shirt you think there could ever be. After much discussion, we settled for a two pack of white, pocket-less polo shirts and that was girl Little all done. It was traumatic, and boy Little had been good as gold throughout.

But now it was his turn to fill the trolley.

We started off with underwear for him, which again I have no idea why as he has plenty. After staring at the wall of undies for just two seconds, he picks a pack with superheroes on. Nice and easy.

Next up socks. The same scenario as Leonas where he had the choice of black, grey or white. Without really even looking, he just shrugged and said ‘Grey please.’

Then we had to pick the trousers, he picked grey to match his socks. Again a two pack, so bargain central for me.

The only thing Lex really had a preference for was the school shirts.

Lex:  “Mum, can I have a button up shirt?”

Me: “Yes you can, but remember….polo shirts are actually easier for when you have swimming and P.E and such. You don’t have as many buttons to do up.”

*I am forever looking for the laziest option, clearly.*

Lex: “But my friend B has button ups and he’s the coolest boy in school.”

Me: “It’s about being comfortable though isn’t it? It’s not really a ‘cool’ competition or a fashion show.”

*Looks pointedly at my daughter.*

Lex: *Shrugs*

“Button up please.”

So button up it was. He’s so stinking cute that I can’t even lecture him about the cool thing for long. We got him a pack of two, short sleeved button ups.

The last thing on my list for the day was jumpers for Lex. Again, the school is pretty relaxed as long as it’s green. They do have their own jumper with the school logo printed on the chest, but it is more expensive and the way the Littles grow out of uniform, it is best to go for value. I have learnt this after buying multiple school logo jumpers over the years. If they don’t lose them despite being labelled up with names and classes, they outgrow them within a month or two, it is just a fact.

We managed to again find a two pack, grabbed the last ones in his size and victory danced to the check-outs.

By the time we got home, we were all pretty done in. It is just such a daunting task to get affordable school clothing times two, and of course…times however many children you have. And it really does seem to be the case that they grow out of everything at once. I haven’t had to do such a huge school shop in years .

Luckily for me, my sister is the manager of a shoe shop and she let the Littles pick out their new school and P.E shoes, which yes, they had also grown out of. Leonas old shoes were broken and too small, and Lex had just outgrown his. If you were wondering, Leona chose some ballerina black shoes with straps and flowers. Lex chose black slip ons. But the most exciting thing of all? Lex got a shoe horn and I swear he hasn’t let the thing out of hs sight yet. It’s the little things.

We just have one more thing to cross off the list now. School bags. This is the one thing I promise them each year….If they get through a whole year of school with their school bags, they get a new one in the holidays. I think it is a tradition quite a few families do and it is an exciting one for the Littles. We are going to go in town in the week and see what we can find. My predictions are that Lex will pick out a superhero/cartoonish/football related bag and Leona will pick a bag that looks somehow way too grown up for her. She is a mini teen and that is a scary thought.

But on a serious note, I love the Littles being the age they are at, I love being able to talk with them about what they actually want and get their opinions on things. They see the world differently to me and I like learning from them. We have had a lovely summer holiday, and I know that we are really going to treasure the last week we have off together.

Also, I had Leona measured last week with her being a bit on the small side, and she’s not even as small as I thought so that’s a worry ticked off. She is actually following her own pattern and she is currently the same height as a nine to ten year old would be. Considering she is ten and a half, and everyone always thinks she is diddy, I really don’t think that is too bad at all. I was expecting her to measure around the eight year old mark but she was even taller. Go Leona!! Small but mighty.

I hope you are all having a lovely time and not getting stressed out with all this back to school stuff!! Leave a comment below about what you have been up to. But for now, as always….here are some totally unrelated to this topic pictures to end the blog.

 

The Story Of Sweep….

The story of Sweep starts on a warm spring day in 1993.

There was a young girl just six years old. And she was sitting in a hospital ward, in a hospital gown, eating hospital food. She had been a regular visitor to hospitals in her early life.

When she was born, her parents spent the first year taking her to doctor after doctor, because they knew something was wrong. And they were right. After many months, doctors found the little girl had a hole in her heart. And it was making her super poorly. In fact, if it had been left any longer, it could have been….well. You know. Worse.

So when she was a few years old, she had an operation. Pioneering keyhole surgery which was pretty cool, because not only did it save her life….It also put an umbrella in her heart. And she didn’t know anyone else who had something as awesome as an umbrella in their body.

After the surgery, she became a different child. She wasn’t so poorly anymore. But she had a weak immune system and would easily have big crashes in her health. She caught every bug and then some. She also had asthma, so the doctors liked to see her every so often to see how she was doing.

When she got her first nasty bout of tonsillitis at the age of six, the doctors made the immediate decision to remove them. And because of her previous medical history, it meant a few days in hospital.

By this point, she was old enough to know what a hospital was. But she didn’t quite realise that they made her better, she just thought they meant pain and horrible medicines and needles and people prodding at her.

Despite her small and weedy size, and the fact she looked more like a four year old than a six year old, she was a tough little thing. So tough in fact, that it took an adults dose of anesthetic to put her under for the operation. Luckily, everything went OK with the op and she spent the night resting and trying to wake up from her large dose of sleeping magic.

Everything was scary the next morning though, mainly because when she woke up, she fell hard out of the high hospital bed, landing on her back and gave herself a few bruises, which for obvious reasons wasn’t great after an operation.

She also felt empty. It was a weird thing to feel. Somehow it seemed like she didn’t have any food or anything inside of her. Or blood, or bones, or anything. She felt like she was floating. She just wasn’t herself. She had her Mum with her of course, but she was away from all her siblings. She was away from her home and her toys.She was away from everything she knew and she wondered if it would always be like this. She hadn’t seen her Dad for a week because he worked away. She was sore and achey and everything seemed tough for the little girl who was really too young to realise that she could have been in the hospital for much worse.

Evening came and dinner was ready at the hospital. It was the first time the little girl had been allowed to eat for some time. The menu was lasagne and she couldn’t wait to eat. Her Mum helped her over to a table and said she had to go down to the hospital shop but that she would be back soon.

The little girl cut up her steaming hot lasagne, and was amazed at how good it tasted. In fact, it was the best thing she had ever eaten. She only had a few mouthfuls left to eat, and she wondered where her Mum had got to, so she looked behind her at the door. Just as she did, she saw her Dad standing in the doorway, across the ward.

He was in his work jacket and smiling at her. She got up and started running to him shouting….”Daddy, My Daddy!” just like in The Railway Children. Exactly like in The Railway Children. She looked very funny in an over-sized gown with lasagne on her face as she ran quicker than she should have been running the day after an operation.

Before she could give her Dad a hug, he held out a present for her.

It was Sweep. From Sooty and Sweep, one of her favourite TV shows. Sweep had always been her favourite. It was a puppet and it even made a squeaky noise like Sweep did in the show.

wp-1471633028270.jpg

wp-1471633023892.jpg

It was the best thing she had ever seen. She loved it so much that her pain and aches somehow vanished, and she wasn’t even scared the next day when her Dad had to go back away for work and her Mum couldn’t stay the night because she had to be home with the other children. She wasn’t scared because she had Sweep.

And she has loved Sweep for many years. And she knows she always will.

Because that little girl was me.

 

**I know you all saw that one coming. And yes, it is weird to talk about yourself in the third person. And I know the story wasn’t even exciting, but it is one of my stories, and I love it.**

 

Getting To Know You – Lex Style!

Today, I sat the Littles down and recorded their answers for the following questions. It was a great way to get into their minds and see what they really think about things. Now it’s Lex’s turn!!

What do you like to dream about?

Being a footballer. With Daryl Murphy. For Ipswich Town.

What was your best memory this school year?

Learning how to swim better. I can swim about 14 times better than I could.

Who is your hero? Why?

Daryl Murphy. Because he plays for Ipswich Town and we live in Ipswich Town.

How would you describe your family?

Nice. Kind. How many do I need to do? OK. I’m done.

If you could change anything about the world, what would it be?

Hhhmmmm. I don’t know. The attacks in France.

What are you most proud of yourself for?

Being good at football.

Who is the kindest person you know? Why?

My friend B. Because when I hurt my um…knee and it was bleeding and I couldn’t really walk on it at school, he helped me to first aid.

What do you like most about your best friend?

He’s very kind and good at football.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do well?

Swim.

If you were an animal what one would you be and why?

A cat. Because they aren’t as much work as dogs.

When is the last time someone hurt your feelings? How did you react?

*shrugs*Um. I don’t really get, I’ve not had my feelings hurt. Um…maybe when Ipswich Town lost to Stevenage? That was annoying.

Do you know someone who is going through a hard time? How can you help them?

R in my class. Because other people don’t like some things he does. I can tell other people to be nice to him.

What is the scariest thing that happened this year?

The things in France again. The attacks. And in the Euros when some of the fans started fighting each other. That’s bad.

If you could keep only one thing, out of everything you have, what would it be?

My football table. Because it’s the only football table I’ve ever had.

Who do you think is really successful? Why?

Dwayne Johnson. Because he’s a wrestler and an actor. He is in a lot of movies like The Tooth Fairy.

What was the best thing about your teacher this year?

She let us go on lot’s of school trips. She let us play for a really long time on some activities.

When do you feel misunderstood by grown-ups?

When I talk about football because Mum doesn’t really know what the offside rule is and stuff.

What three words best describe you?

Fun, Active and Sporty.

What’s something that makes you angry?

When Ipswich lose a match.

What’s the best compliment you ever received?

You are amazing at football. My best friend said it.

Getting To Know You – Leona Style!

Today, I sat the Littles down and recorded their answers for the following questions. It was a great way to get into their minds and see what they really think about things. First up….Leona!

What do you like to dream about?

Being an actress. Oh, being an actress and acting with Indina Menzel.

What is your best memory from school this year?

Erm….Eh….Probably doing the, what was it? Oh yeah, Probably doing the cross country because out of 400 people I came 8th because that’s under half way.

Who is your hero? Why?

Indina Menzel because I’ve always wanted to be an actress and she’s a famous actress and I’ve got asthma and so has she and she can still do it.

How would you describe your family?

Erm….kind, irritating (haha), helpful, annoying at times and funny.

If you could change anything about the world, what would it be?

Violence like street violence and poor people. Like I don’t want to get rid of poor people haha, I want to help poor people and give them money. I wish there was no poor people and everyone had money.

What are you most proud of yourself for?

Reaching goals like when I’m in school I have to reach my English goals and Maths goals and Science goals and P.E goals and I usually succeed. And I get stamps for my charts and get rewards if I reach my goals.

Who is the kindest person you know? Why?

Think I’m going to have say one of my friends because all my family are kind and I don’t want to choose so erm…. my friend K. Because when I first came to school she has been my best friend since I got there and she’s taken care of me and looked after me and she helped me with times tables. I’ve never ever ever had a fight with her. She’s one of my only friends who doesn’t argue.

What do you like most about your best friend?

She’s kind. She’s helpful. She always is there for me and plays games. If she goes on holiday or somewhere special she writes me a letter or postcard.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do well?

Act. Because I want to be an actress.

If you were an animal what one would you be and why?

A puppy. Because puppies are cute and they are cuddly.

When is the last time someone hurt your feelings? How did you react?

A few weeks ago because my friend had a falling out with everyone and only liked one person. She made everyone upset. We told someone at school how we felt and they told us to try and sort it out but they also said not to talk to her so we were confused then the boys in the class started being mean to the girls and that was before the summer holidays so I don’t know what’s been sorted out.

Do you know someone who is going though a hard time? How can you help them?

*Sneezes* **Blows nose very noisily** I think my friend S is having a hard time because she has been bullied. Well two girls bully her. And whenever it gets sorted out by an adult they start again. I give her advice and tell her it is their problem not hers because she’s lovely.

What is the scariest thing that happened this year?

The scariest thing that has happened in the world is all of the attacks in France because people keep dying because we learnt it school and they keep being attacked. So that is scary and also, earthquakes.

If you could keep only one thing, out of everything you have, what would it be?

My build a bear because that reminds me of my eighth birthday because we went into town as a family and I made it and picked it. It’s mine to keep forever.

Who do you think is really successful? Why?

Indina Menzel because she’s been in Wicked and Broadway. And she was Elsa. FROZEN!! Frozen!! *Sings Let It Go, loudly*

What was the best thing about your teacher this year?

She let us do fun activities sometimes.

When do you feel misunderstood by grown-ups?

When I speak Spanish because I’m not very good at it so nobody understands me.

What three words best describe you?

Three words that best describe me? Fun. Clever. Chatterbox.

What’s something that makes you angry?

When people don’t eat pasta.

What’s the best compliment you ever received?

That I’m epic because my friends told me. Oh and when you did my hair how you did , someone told me ‘That is an awesome hairstyle’.

 

It Doesn’t Matter.

Bright and early this morning, as I sipped at a coffee that wasn’t strong enough while thinking about my dream from the night before (-Superman, but not actual Superman, just Dean Cain from the Lois and Clarke adventures show that was on years ago, was my best buddy, and we went to dinner where he ran into an unrecognisable waiter who was his enemy so we left after noting that the sky was pink-) the two Littles bounced around me as I tried to wake myself up.

Leona: Mum, what are we doing today?

Lex: Can we go out today?

Leona: Let’s go to the big park with the sprinklers.

Lex: No, we went there the other day. How about the park with the football goal so we can play footie.

Leona: No. Mum, tell him no. We always play football. Why don’t we decide on something we both like. Cinema? We still haven’t seen Finding Dory. (Breaks into an operatic version of Just Keep Swimming from the original Finding Nemo and mashes it up with Queens We Will Rock You)

Lex: (Completely ignores his sisters absurd singing because her screeching tunes is pretty normal in this house) Oh I know, let’s go swimming!!

Leona: How about the soft play place? Ooooo I wonder if the big slide is open.

Lex: Ooooo yes. Good idea Leona. Mum? So can we??

Leona: Mum? Are we going out? Will we do that? That or the cinema. (Starts singing again, thankfully non operatic this time.)

Both: Mum???? What shall we do Mum, hey Mum what do you think?????

Me: Makes another coffee, stronger this time, while wondering if I can put all the clocks forward to convince the Littles it’s time for dinner and bed. Mwahahahaha. Serious note, I saw that in a movie once and I always wondered why the kids didn’t get it was still daylight and that they skipped lunch. My kids would be on it like Albert Einstein.

After all that, do you know what we ended up doing today? All those options, all that choice and more that wasn’t said. We ended up doing nothing. I mean, not nothing as in NOTHING, but really nothing. The day for me kind of went like this……

*Drinks coffee, makes (different, as always) breakfasts for two Littles while telling them we might go somewhere. Thinks about my Dean Cain dream again and what it could mean. <<< Not much, according to the dream website I looked at.

*Turns the TV on and lets the Littles have their eyes glued to cartoon network for a solid hour while I click on pointless articles on Buzzfeed.

*Puts three loads of washing on, folds a gazillion items of washing and puts them away, tells the Littles to help me put clothes away and sort the DVDs that have all escaped out of their cases. Basically a crappy parent game of ‘This is a chore but let’s see who does it fastest’ which always seems to work no matter how old they get. *TEENAGE YEARS ENTERS. LAUGHS. MUTTERS ‘YOU’LL SEE’. LEAVES*

*Makes early lunch for us three because being lazy can have that affect on you.

*Washes up lunch things and sends Littles out into garden for a few hours in the sunshine while vaguely agreeing that maybe I would take them to the library later.

*EndS up not taking them to the library and instead puts on more washing, does a spring (summer) clean behind the sofa to retrieve lost lego and books, passes the growing Littles snacks and drinks out to the garden every so often.

*Smiles while listening to them playing nicely. Scowls as they constantly bicker. Clicks and reads more pointless internet articles.

*Dinner time creeps up on us and before I know it, it is time for baths and bed.

So as you can see, it truly was a day spent doing not much. And sometimes today, I have felt guilty. I can’t help it. Logging on to Facebook and seeing my friends with children all filling their summer holidays with lavish and expensive trips. It just seemed like the day I chose not to do anything, everyone else was doing something.

But as I sit here typing this, I realise that it just doesn’t matter. This time last year during the summer holidays, I had a job that saw me working through so much of the holidays that I barely knew they had come and gone. Before I knew it, the Littles were back at school. This year, I am fortunate to have a job where I can spend more time with them during the holidays and we have definitely tried to make the most of them. But it’s six long weeks, and sometimes…you just need a day to do nothing, ya know?

I guess I am a great believer in getting out and making memories, so if I feel that a day has been wasted, the guilt kind of creeps up on me. But that is just stupid because everyone needs days to sit in and laze around as well. Children are going to remember the times you were there with them, and the times you had fun as a family no matter where you were or what you were doing. And that’s what we did today. We all had fun doing nothing together and it was glorious.

We are a fair way into the holidays now and I am pleased that we have managed quite a few trips and had some brilliant times. I know that I am not the only parent feeling guilt over the holidays and I think it is such a shame so many of us feel like that. We shouldn’t you know. We are all just doing our best.

The holidays are an expensive time. Even if you just go to parks and beaches the whole time (which is perfectly acceptable and mostly what we do), you can still get caught out into buying things. When the Littles are with you all day and not at school you end up buying more food, more drink, more sunscreen, more cheap toys to keep them amused, more clothes because they are wearing theirs out with all the running and climbing…..just more of everything. Then there are the big days out, maybe a theme park, maybe cinema trips or parties. Then of course, many families will pay out for holidays….maybe abroad, maybe here in the UK….and not only does a holiday cost a fortune anyway, add to the fact parents and families can only go away in peak times or risk being fined and jailed, the over all cost of school holidays can sky rocket. That’s not to mention buying all the back to school gear which is a subject for another day.

I am one of those weird Mums, I absolutely love the school holidays. You know you see some parents at the school gates taking their kids back to school and whooping with delight? Well I’m the one walking away trying not to cry, knowing that we don’t have as much time together now and that with each new term, they get older and more independent. Good for them of course, but heartbreaking for me. I watch so many Mums desperate to get their kids back to school.  I’ve even heard one Mum say as she watched her little darlings go in the school gates …”Thank fuck for that, the last few weeks have been hell with them at home.” ((Then this same Mum genuinely went on to express her excitement to her friend that she could watch as much Jeremy Kyle as she wishes now it’s term time – whatever floats your boat)) I’m not judging. I’m very good friends with one Mum who won’t mind me saying that she counts down the days til school opens again. But I am definitely the opposite, even when my two bicker and fight and shout and stomp and argue over the TV which is probably a good twenty three hours of the day, I still love every minute.

I just want all the parents out there to acknowledge each other and say that it doesn’t matter.

If you have spent your summer holidays mostly at home because of money, anxiety, having a new baby while looking after your older ones….it doesn’t matter.

If you went on a six week cruise and saw the world, giving your children the trip of a lifetime….it doesn’t matter. (But also, can I get in on that for next year? Ta.)

If you spent the six weeks on days out, spending more money than you are bringing in and making sure they have moments they never forget, it doesn’t matter.

If you have spent the summer holidays like me and filled it up with stuff and laziness then guess what? It doesn’t matter.

Please don’t sit at your computer and look at other peoples lives feeling guilty like I did today. I mostly praise the internet, it can be a wonderful thing. But it can also make you feel inadequate. You can’t feel less of a person just because somebody you know who has six children has taken their kids out for a weekend trip at a theme park while staying at a posh hotel. You just have to know that you have done what worked for you, you did what you can manage and that is all that matters. The rest doesn’t.

I have noticed a lot of parenting blogs out there recently. Some are giving you harsh truths, some are funny, some are useful and some are just plain boring, like mine! << Yes that is a hint to drop me some lovely comments about how it’s not boring, and no, I don’t feel ashamed in writing that because you know…I only have about two readers…who are also my friends….so go for it. But I think all of these blogs, all of these parents, all of these humans….they are just looking for acceptance and reassurance that they are doing OK. And that if they didn’t get around to doing as much as they promised they would, then it doesn’t matter.

I think I have suitably over used my title for this blog now, but hey….It Doesn’t Matter. Am I right? Yeah. I’m right.

Now for some totally unrelated to anything I said in this blog pictures. Enjoy!!