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Articles tagged with: Memories

We Didn't Get The School We Wanted.

on Thursday, 16 April 2015.

Until you become a parent you don't know the true emotion that comes with truly knowing you would do absolutely anything for another person.  That overwhelming feeling of raw love that meant quite simply life wouldn't ever feel the same again.  Of course, it doesn't come instantly.  When my eldest daugther was born and was placed into my arms on that cold Christmas Eve morning in 2010, yes, I had never felt anything like it.  But that true love, that fierce, protective motherhood instinct- that develops over time.  It happens quickly and you only really notice it unless it has reason to show itself.  It may not even be over anything particularly worth being concerned over, perhaps your only just toddling little girl may get pushed over in soft play, but even that stirs a tiny feeling deep down inside.  Those butterflies, that raw emotion, that protectiveness that comes wtih being a parent.  The one that you can't quite put into words, even if you tried.

As parents we just want the best for our children.  The very best.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to have the best start in life.  Ultimately it's about choices.  Do we breastfeed or bottle feed?  Do we sleep them on their backs because that's what they tell us to, even though they go down happiest on their tummy?  Do we give them 'food from a jar' when all their friends are being baby led weaned organic vegetables?  More often than not it's about guilt.  The guilt is a constant part of being a parent.  Are we doing it right?  Are we being the best we can be?

We all have that dream for our children.  That dream of them doing the things we didn't quite manage to do.  The things that may have made us sad in the past, we don't want them to have that.  Name calling, teasing in the play ground, the bullies at school- we pray that they don't go through a similar fate.  We want them to fly.  To soar.  To be the very best they can be.  We want them to have the opportunities that we didn't, whatever those opportunties may be.  Way in the future, I have a funny vision of sitting round a table somewhere with my girl's, just as I myself do with my own Mum today.  We are chatting over a glass of wine, and there are little grandchildren running around our feet.   Of course, that might not be what they want.  Their dreams may be different, they may pursue a completely different path.  But whatever happens, whatever they want to do, as a parent ALL we want is for them to be happy.

As I write this post it's 1.10am.  A few minutes ago I tiptoed into my girl's bedroom, as I have done almost every evening for four years.  Nothing out of the ordinary, except this time I pause a little bit longer when I kiss my biggest daughter.  She has kicked off her covers and her legs are contorted into a funny shape.  Her arms are thrown over her head and her wild, unruly curls are splayed out across her pillow.  I place my hand on her chest and feel it rise and fall slowly.  As I often do, I marvel about just how much she has grown up, it's hard to fathom her as that tiny baby we bought home from the hospital that day.  I remember being absolutely terrified of putting her in the car, even though we live about five minutes drive from the hospital.  We must have checked the car seat about ten times, and I hobbled my post c-section body into the back of the car, just 'in case'.  I didn't even want to let her out of my sight for that five minute journey and sit in the front.  It felt a strange mixture of emotions- utter joy and sheer fear, taking this little being home to start our lives together.  

That strange mixture of emotions is back again.

Like countless parents up and down the country, I have waited up to check on our primary school application.  Refreshing the screen about a hundred times even though it wasn't yet midnight, that strange feeling of emotions that so often comes on my motherhood journey is there again.  And after one more refresh, at 11.57pm we were told the news.  We didn't get her into our first choice school.  Nor our second.  We got into our third and final school, our catchment school, one that we really only put down because we were told not to waste a choice.   My intial reaction was disappointment, real disappointment.  So I cried.  That feeling in the pit of my stomach knawed away at me, making me feel truly upset.  Because yet again, it comes down to that same old thing- we would do anything for our children.

It was inevitable we we were going to get that school.  Deep down I knew we would, but I was still hoping and crossing my fingers that we would at least get our second.  We are lucky to have an education system in place for our children, I know that.  We are lucky for a lot of things.  This isn't about that.  But walking through that school a few months ago, both myself and my husband didn't think much to it at all.  It's under achieving in all areas according to it's reports, but again I don't know enough about the education system to know what this means.  All I know is walking around there, we just didn't get a 'feel' for it like we did with the others.  There were parts we just weren't keen on at all.  It just didn't feel like the vision I had of my little girl going to school, I couldn't imagine waiting at those school gates for her to come out, in her little school uniform, her hair blowing behind her, and her face all flushed red with excitement as she ran to me at the end of the school day.

But fate has done it's thing and Mads will be going there in September.  It's the next morning now and I am a little embarrased to admit that I have shed a fair few tears.  I know deep down how lucky we are that she even has the opportunity to go to school in the first place, but I can't help but feel a huge amount of disappointment.  I have spent the night tossing and turning, discussing possible solutions with my husband- but deep down realistically I know that I need to resign myself to it now and accept the fact.  I need to start seeing the positives.  

Because that's the thing.  That little girl asleep in the room next to me- she doesn't know all of this.  She doesn't know that her Mummy spent half the night crying.  She just knows that come September she is going to 'big school'.  We drive past the school that she got into every morning and she always points out 'the big boys and girls'.  She doesn't know what the future holds for her, what school entails, what she will do all day.  She just is excited and happy about the possiblity of going.  She's completely innocent, unaware of the bad in the world, and just perfectly happy to give anything a go.  She sees the joy and positives in everything.  

So that's what I need to do.  I need to suck it up and see the world through my little girl's eyes for a change.  To be excited about the next chapter of her journey.  Yes it's not quite the journey we had planned for her, but she will continue to make us proud as she does every single day.  I will stand there with all the other mums, waiting for her to excitedly to run out the doors and tell us what friends she has made.  She will pull artwork from her bag that she has done that day and we will display them on our kitchen wall like they are masterpieces and works of modern art.  We will help her with her writing, her reading and her maths, and do the best we can by her, just as we have done every day since she was born.  We will have life experiences, make memories and raise her the way we are already doing so, outside of those classroom walls.  

We will continue to be the proudest parents alive.

Really, I think I am just feeling a little nostalgic and sentimental right now.  These milestones are passing us by at a rapid rate and it's hard to fathom that it wasn't yesterday that we took her out of that car seat on that first trip back from the hospital.  When school seemed like an eternity away.  I'm not entirely ready for this stage of our lives to be over, and I am not sure I ever will be.  But that's life and we will enjoy this Summer and make it a happy few months of memories.  Although I am a little sad about it all, I'm also incredibly excited too.

And come September we will start this new chapter in our lives.  And I know my little girl will soar and grow in whatever environment she is placed in, of that I am confident.  

Because we will continue to support her always.

 

the grove hotel 26

 

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #15 'The Day A Cycle Helmet Made Me Cry.'

on Sunday, 12 April 2015.

As I write this, my heart is beating a little quicker than normal, and my eyelashes are still wet with tears.  Mr E is downstairs preparing a risotto for us all to have for dinner, I am sat in our office supposedly working, and I have two little girls chattering together in the top bunk of their bunk bed, oblivious to the way they have made us feel this afternoon.  

It's late Friday afternoon and a couple of hours earlier Mads happened to spot some of the older children on our street playing out on their bikes.  She has always had a curious fascination with the two little girls who live next to us, as younger children often do with bigger kids, but bar a shy wave or hello if we happen to cross paths outside our front door, that has been it.  I don't know why but this afternoon she asked to go and play on her bike outside with them, and two other older boys who live across the road from us too.  She has never asked us before and being that she has only just turned four we said that she could, but that she couldn't go outside without us being there.

So we duly popped her little cycle helmet on, got out her bike and scooter, and Mr E pottered around our front garden pretending to weed, all the while watching her.  I was supposed to be working, but I stood at the window and I got the strangest feeling in the pit of my stomach.  A feeling of absolute pride watching her out there interacting with children a good few years older than her, a feeling of nostalgia remembering doing that very thing myself when I was a little girl, a feeling of nerves about the fact that she still isn't completely wise to dangers of cars or roads, but mainly a feeling of sadness about just how fast she is growing up.  My eyes filled with tears and I stood there blinking them away.

I watched Mr E lean down and talk to them all and I heard Mads say 'I am playing with the big boys and girls Daddy' while she was stood next to them.  At four, she is completely innocent, she isn't yet at that stage where she was embarrassed that her Daddy was outside watching her.  She said again excitedly 'I am playing with our neighbours' and they all chatted to Mr E while I watched on at the window.  After a while I went outside myself and sat on the doorstep with LL on my lap.   Watching our little girl riding up and down the street, with the retro ribbons on her handlebars very much the same as I had as a child, and her little helmet wobbling unsteadily on her head made me get butterflies in my tummy.  She had the biggest, most innocent smile on her face and above all she just looked so proud of herself.  Her cheeks were flushed red with excitement and she cycled along on the pavement while they all cycled on the road, as we told her she needed to keep on the path.  None of the other children had a cycle helmet on, to be fair we live in a cul-de-sac and although traffic can whizz round the corner, it's not really like you need to wear a helmet.  But Mads, our little girl, she always wears that blue and pink helmet- she's so very proud of it.  And now that helmet made her appear so little and small compared to her peers.    

After an hour or so, we told her it was time to come in, and she started to cry.  Big, fat tears rolled down her face and her bottom lip trembled as she told us she didn't want to. She did it in front of her new found friends, she doesn't yet have that filter that makes her realise that there are some things you don't do in public, melt downs over nothing being one of them.  She was so desperate to stay out but eventually we got her inside.  We stood in the kitchen and all of a sudden LL came up to her with her favourite toy 'Baa' and held it out for her to cuddle.  She said 'Here are Mads', she knew her big sister was sad and she wanted to make her feel better.

I don't know what came over me but I just burst into tears.  The feeling of experiencing this first milestone, combined with the tenderness in which LL gave Mads her toy, reduced me to sniffling like a baby.  I hugged Mr E and said to him 'I bet you think I am so silly', fully expecting him to proclaim that yes I was indeed a complete crazy person. But to my surprise he said 'I feel entirely the same away- I am not ready for this just yet.'  Indeed, now I am writing this some time later after they have both gone to sleep, Mr E and I have been chatting about it, and I am surprised just how much this small thing has got to him.  He says he feels very emotional about it all- about the prospect of learning to give her that little bit of freedom, of the worry, about the fact that his little girl is growing up so quickly.  

I know that it's probably a little pathetic to get so worked up about her playing outside on the street where we live, but I was just filled with so many emotions.  I still am to be honest.  There's no parenting rule book for this kind of thing and it just took us by suprise a little.  I'm so nervous about all the stages yet to come- teaching her that the world isn't always a lovely place, that there are people that could hurt her.  That not everyone is as kind and as beautiful inside as she is.  I am so sad about her losing that innocence, that pure child like innocence- the way she is proud of her Daddy stood there watching her, the way that she ran to me and hugged me because she was just so damn excited to be playing with the 'big boys and girls'.  

Until now, all our playdates and all her friendships have been closely monitored by us.  The little friends that she has made are mainly due to me being friends with their Mum's- they are chums of circumstance more than anything else.  It sounds ridiculous, but I also worry who she will become friends with at school when we are not there to influence it.  No mother wants their children to be friends with 'those kind of children' or worse still, have your child be the one that other parents are wary of.  The other day we were in the park and I was watching a group of three girls- they must have been about 11 or 12 and they looked so grown up.  They were wearing clothes that I would even wear, or perhaps a couple of years ago I would, their hair was styled in top knots and I am pretty sure they were wearing makeup.  They were playing on a roundabout and it struck me how they were so on the cusp of leaving childhood behind- they looked like teenagers and I overheard them on a couple of occasions about boys, but at the same time they were giggling loudly and freely as they held hands and tried to keep their balance.  That innocence of childhood and that beauty of childhood seems to be getting lost much earlier than when I was younger, I dread to think what it will be like in another ten years.

I'm not ready to let her go and while I know, yes she wil always be my baby, I am going to have let her go and become the little girl she was meant to be without me at her side constantly.  September brings her first year at school and a whole new set of milestones.  She's completely ready, but I am not.  I don't want this stage to be over.  I am not ready to leave these days behind.  I know that there's a lot of excitement to come but that doesn't mean I don't feel painfully sentimental about the fact that my little girl is growing up so quickly.  Bizarrely just this afternoon I bumped into the midwife that was there throughout my pregnancy with Mads.  It seemed like yesterday that I last saw her.  She will have seen countless babies born since then, each special and the most amazing gift to their parents.  Each and every one brand new and ready to start their story.

Leaving the hospital for the first time, the first mouthful of food, and the first steps are just different parts of their story.  The story of their childhood.  As is the first time they proudly forget their shyness and play outside on their street with their new found friends.  I did that, way back in the first few chapters of my own.  It's nothing out of the ordinary, it's just another ordinary milestone and moment ticked off the list, something that will happen on many, many occasions...

It's just another ordinary moment that as a parent feels so very bittersweet.  But to a little girl who has talked of nothing but playing out with her new friends, 'the big children' since she came in, to a little girl who has gone to bed with a bit of a spring in her step and a new found air of confidence and above all to a little girl who is feeling so proud and that little bit more grown up than she did when she went to bed the day before- well to her it's the most exciting of moments indeed.

playing outside for the first time

Our Long Easter Weekend 2015...

on Wednesday, 08 April 2015.

The long weekend that everyone looks forward to each year has been and gone.  Ours this year was pretty low key and relaxed, having been to Bristol the weekend before we didn't plan any days out.  The weather wasn't great, but the sun came out just at the right minute for obligatory egg hunts and fun, and above all it was just nice to relax and see family.  

It was one of those weekends that felt really chilled out- we stayed in our PJ's until lunchtime one morning, I took the girls out to see friends so Mr E could get some work done, we ate our body weight in chocolate, and we made lots of memories with family.  My Grandparents from Shropshire came down to stay with my Dad, we love visiting them and I truly treasure the moments that we spend together.  We usually also go for lunch with my other Grandparents who live locally but they are in Italy at the moment so Easter Sunday was spent at my Mum's house just a few minutes from where we live. 

I switched off from work and blogging which was just lovely.  Mr E and I have become obsessed with this TV program called The Fall- it's a crime drama set in Belfast about a serial killer and a detective, and it is just absolutely gripping.  Definitely the best thing we have watched in so long, and we spent all the weekend evenings watching it- sadly we have nearly got to the end of Series Two already.  

Here is our weekend in photos and a little video...

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 On Friday we had a surprise date night as we got a babysitter right at the last minute.  We went for pizza and a few drinks, and it was a really lovely evening.

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On Saturday we went to my Dad's to see my Grandparents.  Every time we leave we take a photo of the girls and them.  As I take them I always get tears in my eyes, I find it so incredibly special to see my 93 year old Grandpa, my 89 year old Nana and my babies together.  

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 I truly truly treasure these moments.

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I am a pretty emotional person at the best of times, but these photos are so special to me.  Every time we see my Grandparents I send them a card afterwards with the photos we have taken and I know they take pride of place on the mantelpiece.

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We did some baking on Saturday afternoon- we made a chocolate, vanilla and mini egg cheesecake, it was delicious and we wolfed it down on Sunday at my Mums house.

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We woke up on Sunday morning and had a special pancake breakfast- the girls absolutely loved these bunny pancakes.  It's definitely the simple things that make them smile the most sometimes.

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Two little bunnies for my two little ladies.

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We went over to my Mum's for a delicious Easter lunch and of course the obligatory Easter egg hunt.

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We got one of those egg hunt kits from Tescos and there were lots of small eggs and one large golden egg to find.  Mads was SO excited that she was the one to find the gold egg.

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Loot.

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It was so lovely to watch them running around with such excitement on their faces.

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My grown up looking Easter bunny.

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She loved tottering around with her little basket but she kept dropping the eggs out and leaving a trail behind her.

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Oops.  Cue major panic.

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Happy bunnies counting their treasure.

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'Look what I got Mummy!'

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On Monday we went round to my Dad's again to say bye to my Grandparents.  The sun came out and we chilled out in the garden for a bit.

 


And here is a video of our Easter weekend...

 

 

It was a relaxing, happy and fun family weekend- sometimes doing very little is actually the times I treasure the most.  Why can't every weekend be a bank holiday? 

 

Check out our previous long Easter weekends here....

2014

2013

A Weekend in Bristol- Part Two...

on Tuesday, 07 April 2015.

Last week I wrote all about our weekend in Bristol.   Here is the second part of our lovely (albeit very wet!) weekend in this fabulous city...

 

MONDAY

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Typically after awful weather all weekend, we finally woke up to some sunshine on Monday morning- just as we were due to be going home!   This was the gorgeous view from our hotel window.

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I have mentioned before, when we went to Amsterdam, that both myself and Mr E have a bit of a thing for street art.  Obviously Bristol is home to probably the most famous street artist of all time Banksy, but first thing Sunday morning we headed to the Stokes Croft area of the city for a walk around some of the street art.

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I love the colours in this one.

 

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Then we headed to Bristol Zoo for the morning.  We were really impressed with the amount of animals and things to do there, you could have easily spent a whole day there but unfortunately we could only spend a couple of hours due to the fact we had a long journey home.

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How grown up does she look?  She was in her element running round the zoo and it's grounds.

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Spring is definitely on it's way.

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When photos go wrong. ;)

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Love this one of myself and my little girly.

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We then headed for a ride over the Clifton Suspension bridge- a pretty iconic Bristol landmark- and so high!  The girls loved driving over the 'big bridge'.  I don't reckon we are the first people to spend a pound there and back to go over it just for the sake of it!

 

And in case you missed it, here is our little video from our time in Bristol...

 

All in all we had a fantastic family weekend- there is absolutely nothing I love more than a weekend away in a city, sometimes I think I actually prefer those kind of trips more than holidays.  There is something so exciting about discovering a new place, finding little places off the beaten track to explore, being a tourist and heading to the hot spots and of course eating out in restaurants or little cafes.  (our favourite pasttime!)  I knew of Bristol before from having been down there on business a few times, but this was the first time we had been with the girls, and we will definitely go again.  There are so many child friendly places to go, and even though the weather was rubbish we still had a great time.  That being said, we would love to go back in the Summer and explore some of the outdoors a bit more too.

 

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