Aug 7

07/08/11

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Lovely weekend visit from Emma. Much wine, wii, and, sadly, whinge from the smaller members of the family.

I am now half way through completing challenge No. 15 by taking Rhys and Emma to Haile’s farm for fruit picking. Black currents for Emma, rasps for everyone. Oh and a poke around the farm shop revealed my favourite chunky oatcakes, never before seen south of the border, venison sausages and meringues. Oh happy Sunday.

Only half way through the challenge though, next year I’ll complete it by taking Meredith too.

Jul 26

Back to work, neglected blog

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It’s been over a month since I last posted, largely because had little brain time to think about blogging.

I’m enjoying my return to work but due to a massive new project and extra responsibilities my job has taken a larger chunk of my life than the allotted 3 days a week. Fair dos, it’s interesting and exciting and I’m not complaining, but I am looking forward to the day when things have settled down.

So here’s a catch up, starting with No. 3 with my June mosaic meaning I’ve completed half the PAD project for 2011.

I’ve also kept to no. 4 and managed at least one PAD challenge every month. This is my June Scavenger Hunt. Check out the link if you want an explanation of what each photo represents. I doubt I’d have completed over 200 days of photos without the monthly hunt and other challenges, they are great inspiration for dull days. I also learnt about a photography trick this month called cross processing.

What else? Let’s see.

The June mosaic has evidence of No. 28, we’re working on a plan for October for No. 19, and I have started on the sling for No. 31, although this has rather stalled with lack of time. Must complete this task, especially as Rachel has completed her pregnancy challenge and produced the beautiful Polly Delphine.

The June PAD mosaic also has two shots for No. 51. Matt took Rhys to see Titchy Tiny Science at the Cheltenham Science Festival, a children’s show all about vibration and sound, while Meredith and I ate cake and drank tea in the cafe tent. The weather was truly atrocious. We then had a break for Rhys to attend a birthday party before we raced back to Cheltenham Town Hall to visit the stalls and learn about magnets, the heart at the Blood Bar, nuclear power, heat sensors, Jenner’s fight against small pox, and a bicycling skeleton. I can’t recommend the festival strongly enough and I hope that next year, when I am no longer attached at the hip to a small baby, I’ll be able to attend a few more of the events myself.

I’m yet to complete No. 78 but Matt has taken up bread challenge again, this time using fresh yeast. Every time I eat home made bread I question why I continue to buy crappy sliced stuff from supermarkets. I think we should return to having an emergency toast/toasted cheese loaf in the freezer and proper stuff for the rest of the time.

Oh and if I can track down my Gran’s old recipe once more, I’ll steal some of the yeast to spread on toast and make some more of her ginger beer…

I spent some of the weekend working on the dull No. 80 and now my hands are dry and sore. Sigh.

Meredith has started having a banana for breakfast every morning so No. 85 is no longer much of a challenge. Indeed, Rhys has been seen with a banana in his hand on a few occasions recently, there is hope for that child yet.

And finally, I got a call up from the National Blood Service this week so I’m sure that No. 94 won’t be too long, iron levels permitting.

And that’s my round up for June and for half way through July. I promise not to leave it so long, not least because I have a list of nonMission related things I want to blog about in my head….

May 24

30-Day Book Challenge catch-up

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Due to not particularly extenuating circumstances, I’ve got behind on the Challenge so here’s the catch-up post.

Day 12 – Book that is most like your life

And

Day 13 – Book whose main character is most like me

Well, obviously I’m a 21st century version of Harriet Vane.

*waits for laughter to stop*

Ok, I suspect our life at present is pretty much summed up in any of the  Calvin and Hobbes strips and the character most like me is probably Calvin’s Mom. She’s so ubiquitous to her son she doesn’t even have a name in the cartoon strip, you only get glimpses of the woman behind the mom. She’s a stay at home US mom and I’m a working from home UK mum but there are more similarities than differences in our homes. You can see her trying to create time for her own interests in the chaos of her family life and how her temper is stretched too thin by Calvin’s antics.

It was when we caught Rhys crashing his cars that it really hit how accurate Bill Watterston’s portrayal of a small boy and his stuffed tiger is. We can only hope that his reception class teacher is as formidable as Miss Wormwood.

Day 14 – Book whose main character you want to marry

Back to being Harriet Vane.

Obviously the only fictional man I would want to marry is Lord Peter Wimsey, the gentleman detective created by Dorothy L Sayers. He is considerate, intelligent, rational and has views on the role of women in society years ahead of his early 20th century roots. He is rich and generous with his money, he can afford enough staff to allow Harriet’s career to continue after they have children. He is perfect, never more so when he escapes to the countryside with his new wife in Busman’s Honeymoon.

For all that, I’d happily ignore the fact that actually I don’t fancy tall thin blond blokes who talk as if they have a mouth full of marbles. Any passing resemblance between Matt and Wolverine is entirely coincidental.

Day 15 – First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child

I don’t remember which was my first chapter book but it was almost certainly an Enid Blyton story. I remember my Dad’s passion for gold ingots in Five On A Treasure Island and looking forward to finding out what happened next. I know we read the Famous Five series often enough that by the time he started to read it to my sister I was able to quote whole chunks of the text.

It’s hard to imagine being able to create a series of books now where children solve mysteries in apparently ordinary settings, like the Famous Five or the Secret Seven. Children have so little autonomy and independence that people are now criticised for letting their child walk to school unaccompanied, let alone camping and hiking alone for days. The likelihood of uncovering treasure or a spy ring in a soft play centre seems fairly small.

May 19

No Child Born To Die

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I made a new blog friend yesterday – Kirsty at Imperfect Pages. Or rather we were re-aqcuainted but that’s beside the point.

She tagged me on a meme that is going around just now. It’s not a frivolous meme, it’s an important one for Save The Children’s No Child Born To Die campaign. The charity want people to sign their petition to put pressure on world leaders attending the World Economic Forum in June to fund vaccinations for all children. To protect, save 4 million children from diseases like measles that are preventable.

Three bloggers are visiting Mozambique and following a box of vaccines from arriving in the country to reaching their destined children. And lots of other bloggers are raising awareness by asking their children to draw a picture of what they’d like to be when they grow up.

Rhys’s picture is of his Auntie Karen, an RSPB warden. She has a very cool job by anyone’s standards but for a 4-year-old boy being up to your knees in pond water, wrestling cattle, zooming around in a 4×4, driving diggers and dump trucks, and waving a chainsaw around is probably as good as it gets.

Please excuse the envelope, it was a fast before-nursery drawing, strike while the thought is hot, sketch. It’s Auntie Karen in her hemp Tilly Hat, looking through binoculars, with a bird, practice triangle beaks and some bowls of water for the birds. Of course, you knew that.

Kirsty tagged me in this meme and I’m now asking some mummy blogger friends to Pass It On and raise awareness of this petition.

The rules are:

1) Get your child to either draw or craft a self portrait of themselves now or in the future, perhaps imagining what they will look like or what they might do. Check out Red Ted Art (who is now running a blog hop) post on self portrait to get started!

2) Sign the Save the Children petition and share news of it with your friends.

3) Write a blog post about it as soon as possible, featuring your children’s pictures and perhaps how you made them together, and including info about Save the Children and the petition. We want as many people linked up AND signed up the petition by Sunday 29th May 2011

4) Tag 8 blogging friends to do the same – #passiton! If you want to join in and I’ve not tagged you, please do!

5) Come back and link up your posts, either at Sleep is for the Weak or over at Red Ted Art, so we can all see each other’s posts and if you have time, go and leave some comment love on each others posts! It’s a blog-hop link-up so you can even publish the list of entries on your blog (like I have below).

My eight lovely bloggers:

1. Crap at Pregnancy

2. How to survive your children’s childhood

3. I know I need to stop talking

4. Mrs M’s Country Life

5. Demon Wrangling 101

6. Knitted Back Together

7. Sparklingbizzy

8. The Deaf One

May 16

30-Day Book Challenge – Day 7 – A book you can quote/recite

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My memory is great for general information and less so for detail and exact phrasings so this isn’t my easiest day.

But I have a memory of sitting on a very overcrowded commuter train going home from London with a very overtired Rhys. It was his bedtime and he was too tired for the usual train distractions. To try and help him doze off, I started reciting Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book.

This book was a present from my good friend Emma who remembered it from her childhood. We read it every night for over a year while we tried to teach Rhys how to fall asleep by himself and by the end I could probably recite over three quarters of it. It’s not of inconsiderable length and it’s largely nonsensical so I’d say this is no mean feat.

When Rhys fell asleep in my arms, a lady who had been swaying next to me commented on how good my memory is and all I could say was, well, I have read it a few times.

In about a year’s time I’ll no doubt be reciting the book for Meredith, so just to keep my hand in: “This book is to be read in bed. The news just came in from the County of Keck that a very small bug by the name of Van Vleck is yawning so wide you can look down his neck. Now a yawn is quite catching…”

Apr 16

No. 9

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16/04/11 by Stripyzebra
16/04/11, a photo by Stripyzebra on Flickr.

Rhys is riding solo!

He’s got some way to go before he masters braking, and we have an even longer wait until his concentration span is long enough that he doesn’t ride into a lamp post, but I think we can say he is officially off on a big adventure.

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Apr 7

No.72 – Clean up work laptop and nursery ramblings

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Mission task no. 72 is done.  The said item has been handed into the office and not a moment too soon as it gave up the ghost and refused to start when I arrived in London.  My shiny new laptop will be couriered to me soon, hopefully with all the tools I need ready to use.

I start back to work next month – initially 3 days a week – and Meredith begins her nursery career.

She had a taster of being away from Mummy yesterday – a trip to Coram’s Fields with her Great Aunt Maggie – while I was in the office. She had a lovely time on a swing and looking at goats and a cockerel. I think she might adjust quite well to nursery and, as Daddy says, least their room has a carpet, which will be a real bonus for Ms Cruiser of 2011′s poor head.

To help counter any separation worries, the nursery’s newsletter announced yesterday that their care has been upgraded from satisfactory to good in a recent Ofsted Inspection. I can’t say I am surprised, they have always taken good care of Rhys and been very proactive in his development. Nursery spotted that his hearing wasn’t right and was causing him problems with his behaviour and his speech, and he has built some special relationships with the staff whom he adores.

Rhys, in turn, inadvertently helped their good Ofsted report by bombarding the poor inspector with questions (the inspector was impressed by the nursery having such confident and outgoing children – there’s a euphemism if ever I heard one) and by bumping his head in front of the inspector and allowing the staff to demonstrate the nursery’s first aid care and injury reporting skills.

It feels too early for Merri to be heading off into the big wide world so I’m glad she’ll have her big brother to hold her hand for the first few months and that she’s going somewhere the staff already know her by name.

It’s a daunting thought that, when my maternity leave ends, the next time I have an extended break from work will be retirement, presuming I can ever afford to do so after all the Baby Boomers have drained the country of resources. On the other hand, I have some exciting new challenges at work ahead of me and the joy of unaccompanied trips to the loo, hot tea, and 5 minutes without worrying that small child is about to bump her brain again. There will be office trips to London that will allow time for eating sushi with one of my closest friends and hopefully completing task no. 57.

Please remind me of these positives when my arms are missing Meredith next month and I duck as another deadline comes close to whooooooshing past the top of my head – thank you Douglas Adams for summing up my writing experience.

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Mar 28

Mission update

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Busy week!

As well as updating No. 33, I can cross off No. 99. Last week, after a slight hiccup, I finally met up with neighbour Kay and her gorgeous little boy Reuben. And also her neighbour and beautiful daughter Charlotte. Reuben is a day younger than Meredith - and so will be in a different school year – and Charlotte is 4.5 months old.

We walked down to the health centre and had the babies weighed – Meredith is now the Devil Child as her weight was exactly 6. 66 Kg. Or 14 lb 6 oz if you prefer. She had her first trip in the buggy and seemed to enjoy it. There’s a photograph of her lying back in my sunglasses for the March Scavenger Hunt because it was a lovely *warm* spring day.

After we walked back and had a cold drink at Kay’s and a good chat about slings and real nappies and what horrors the small ones are up to. It was a lovely afternoon, and I’m sure we’ll meet up again soon. It  was only a little shocking to discover how young Kay is and that I’m closer to her mother’s age (42 years old) than her own! *denial*

9. When we got back from the speech therapist last week, Merri was sound asleep so I took the opportunity to get Rhys out on his bike again. The previous attempt he refused to even put his bottom on the saddle so it was a relief that he got on and did a little peddling while I held his seat with my finger tips.

Really and truly there are only two things stopping Rhys cycling away. Confidence that he can do it – which we know he can, because he can balance, pedal and steer his balance bike beautifully. And keeping his concentration so he doesn’t wobble or cycle straight into a street lamp. Watch this space…

56. Two lovely ladies (Legless and Little Peanut for those in the know) came over to discuss books and setting up a book club. Typically, Meredith was on a rare sleep refusal jag so my participation was rather curbed but I am  hoping we’ll repeat soon and have the lovely Esklisa and perhaps others next time.

75. I started to get my driver’s licence updated but met a beaurocratic nightmare online so I’m working on it. Weep.

89. I haven’t posted about this incredibly dull Mission but I can report that I am pretty much clutter clearing the table weekly. The fact the clutter is mostly redistributed into the study is another matter.

Mar 28

I drove here

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I drove here by Zeb2007
I drove here, a photo by Zeb2007 on Flickr.

I think this picture says it all – this is Rhys in the carpark, on his way to his speech therapy group, after I drove there.

I think being able to put No. 33 in italics is possibly the hardest and most life changing thing in my whole Mission so I’m thrilled.The only reason it’s taken some time to write this update is that I’ve had a very busy week with little time for navel gazing.

The AA have kindly set up a charitable fund called Drive Confident in which they give two free lessons to help people tackle their driving woes and get back onto the road. I applied for Drive Confident after I wrote my blog post. I had to list a few things that really worried me – there wasn’t a tick box for “the whole shebang” – and the AA called me up a few days later to ask when I’d like my lessons.

I had my session with the AA’s lovely Roxanne on Saturday and to my surprise I was off and driving without any major issue. She took me around and around and around the major roundabout that I was worried about and gave me some parking practice.

I realised that, while I’ve got a long way to go in feeling comfortable driving, I don’t feel like a beginner either and we spent the lessons chatting as I drove rather than me having to concentrate on every single movement.

At the end of the lesson, Roxanne said that I was pretty much fine – I need practice to get my gear changes smoother and I need to watch out for my left side as I’m not so spatially aware of it as I might be. But she had no major concerns and my observation is good.

That afternoon I drove us back from Rhys’s dance class and was amazed to find that our car was nicer and easier to drive than the Ford I had practiced in.

On Monday I drove the kids and some friends to Evesham Country Park and tackled another minor fear too – setting up the car to be a seven-seater. Turns out the seats pop up almost like magic. Who knew?

And on Tuesday I drove Rhys to his speech therapy group. I didn’t get my driving sorted in time for his first session so we had a four-bus trip and oh the second session’s journey was much shorter and didn’t require me to be a pack horse.

I think I’m going to have a parking lesson in our own car with Roxanne and I still have a long way to go before I can really scratch No. 33 out completely and feel like a good driver. But still, I am a driver.

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Mar 17

Mission update for March

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I have been remiss about updating in March, we’re half way through and no blog post. Doh.

So here’s a quick Mission update and a more philosophical post to follow later.

4. I’m still PADing to my surprise – I can’t say I’m anything of a photographer but I do seem to have found a new hobby. What I didn’t expect is to really enjoy the community aspect of the HPAD group – there’s a great mix of ability and styles without offputting competitiveness and there’s a lovely pool of photos to browse each day. On bleugh days there’s challenges to inspire you and the skilled photographers seem happy to help beginners. I feel really very lucky to have such an amazing community to share pictures with and learn from.

25.  Book has been read and I’m trying to put the advice into practise as I can see that it does work even though I have a ridiculous way to go.

The thing that really seems to work for Rhys is the idea that rather than saying “no, you can’t fly to the moon”, you can avoid getting into an argument over the ridiculousness of the request by saying “yes, I’d like to too. And go to Mars and meet the Martians. I wish I could do that.” 

My description is  pants but somehow it works for things like “I want to stay and play longer” – “I wish you could too, it’s a great toy house, but Jenny needs this room to help other children and we have to catch a bus.”

56. Hopefully, illness, work and race course willing, we’ll have the first meeting of a new Cheltenham book club next week at my house. I forsee wine, olives and Kindles at the ready…

72. I’m back to work at the start of May and I should be picking up a shiny new laptop before hand so I really really do need to do this!

84. Task completed!

94. I have an idea for my Woodmancote news article and a deadline for submitting for the summer publication… Would help if Merri hadn’t chewed up the current edition though.

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