100km London to Brighton Challenge.

At 6.30am last Saturday I gathered with several hundred endurance runners in Richmond Park, London, all of us bound for Brighton, some 100km south of our current location. I looked around at the lycra clad bodies, gulping down various sports drinks and energy gels, feeling more than a little out of my depth, and then, as I heard the count down hit zero, I put my head down and ran.

The first 10km was perfect. Cloudy, breezy and flat as you like along the Thames path. It was a glorious day, with rowers out on the river and dog walkers shouting support. The first leg passed without incident and soon I was at a rest stop for a quick drink before heading straight off again.

Now we were running through the suburbs and I reminded myself to enjoy it and to take in every moment. My legs felt good now that they were warmed up and everything was going my way. Check point two came and went, and we headed up onto the North Downs for some off road running, my favourite kind.

After an enjoyable stretch of undulating fields, at around 30km I started to flag. This is always a distance I struggle with and today was no different, but I had an Ipod loaded with plenty of uplifting music that I had been saving for this exact moment. I put my headphones on and instantly got a second wind. Soon I was coursing through woodland, singing Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ at full volume, which I hope cheered up a few weary souls as I passed them.

My pace was still good when at around 40km I turned down an incredibly sleep slope on hard ground. I never run down steep hills, because I find them even harder than going up, but with my spirits high, for reasons that I still cannot explain, I began my descent at full pelt. Within a few steps I felt my knee just ‘go’ and staggered to a stop.

Confused, I walked a few steps before trying to run again, but the pain was too much. I walked further this time, to allow it to recover, but again, as soon as I tried to run it became excruciating.

The next 10km passed awfully slowly. I had no idea what I was dealing with, but all I knew is that I couldn’t run. Could I even continue? At some point I came to one of the dreaded stiles that punctuate the course as a form of torture, and the man behind me, seeing that I was struggling, offered to help me over. As soon as he took my hand, I burst into tears. He kindly checked that I was alright, gave me some painkillers and (at my insistence), went on his way. At that point, taking help from (and sobbing on) a complete stranger, I realised that I was in very dangerous territory.

Over the next few kilometres I gradually came to terms with the fact that medics at the next rest stop might pull me out of the race. I was gutted. I had trained for months for this day and I would never get the opportunity again. I felt utterly flat and dejected.

Then, just short of the half way stop, my friends and support crew for the day, arrived to greet me. With that and the painkillers kicking in, everything changed. I ploughed on to the half way point and got myself checked over. Once I was given the all clear from the doctor (with strict instructions to pull out if it got too painful), I loaded myself up with yet more painkillers and a huge pile of pasta and went on my way. For better or worse, it would take more than a knee injury to defeat me.

This time my spirits were soaring again and I marched through the Sussex countryside singing my heart out, determined to get to the finish line unless I had to be physically scraped off the ground.

As the sun set I took in the beauty of my surroundings and how far I had come, not just that day, but the in the 700km of training runs that I had completed since the start of the year. How did I go from struggling round the block this time last year to signing up for this epic race? How did I ever think I would be capable of it? I signed up because I wanted a challenge that scared me, and that would push me to my limits. This is what I had come here for and it was very much what I was getting.

Soon I was at the 80km rest stop where my friends and another plate of food were there to greet me. At each stop I checked my phone and the supportive messages on Instagram kept me going through my darker moments. I knew that everyone believed I could do it, and so I believed it too. From the moment I left the half way point with an all clear from the doctor, I didn’t doubt for a second that I would reach the end. ‘She believed she could, and so she did’.

As darkness fell, I switched on my head torch and set off on the final leg of the challenge. By now both of my knees were painful and anything resembling a downwards slope caused a lot of difficulties. There were moments when it all felt too much to bare, but I think the thing that kept me going was knowing that as long as I kept putting one foot in front of another, that eventually, it would end. I drew deeply on my experiences of childbirth and took solace in the fact that I had made the decision to undertake this challenge, in order to raise money to support women whose experience of chaos and vulnerability were something to be lived daily, not by choice as a ‘life experience’. I had chosen to be here and I chose to keep going.

At 88km my friends joined me for the final time and walked with me for the grueling ascent up into Brighton. By that point going up hill actually felt like relief. It worked different muscles and didn’t aggravate my knees and when I finally saw the lights of Brighton I let out a whoop of joy. The end. In sight.

Of course, 12km is still a long way to go, especially when you have slowed to what might be described at best as a hobble. But I dug deep and kept moving forwards, forwards, forwards, each kilometer marker making me stronger and more determined. ‘Stronger with every step, stronger with every step, stronger with every step’.

The final rest stop came at 94km and as I saw the familiar surroundings of my old university I finally became completely overwhelmed with what I had achieved. I had run, walked and staggered all the way from London, to my home town of Brighton, raising £1000 for the Brighton Women’s Centre in the process. Tears streamed down my face as volunteers helped me fill my water pack for the last time and handed me snacks to see me through the last hour of the journey.

Those last 6km seemed to last for years and it started to feel as if the Race Course would always be just out of touching distance. And then. There it was. And there was I, pushing on as quickly as I could through the darkness of Brighton and towards the finish line. It felt surreal, almost anticlimactic. It was almost 18 hours since I had left London and I had been awake for over 20. I was exhausted, aching to my very bones, but quietly, quietly satisfied. I hadn’t given up. I hadn’t stopped. I had done it.

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Thank you again to every person who has sponsored me, it has been utterly overwhelming and I know that the money raised (I have just tipped over the £1000 mark), will be greatly appreciated by the Brighton Women’s Centre. Thank you to my Instagram family for your words of kindness and support and your utter belief in me. And the biggest thank you to Jen and Richard for being there on the day, telling me that I was doing great, distracting me by talking about podcasts and giving me something to aim for at each rest stop, you guys are the best.

If you still want to sponsor me you can find my page at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/stefgoesrunning

Bouncing Back: A return to fitness.

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Not so long ago I had an epiphany of sorts, in the shower, where all good epiphanies happen I believe. I had spent the best part of the last four years either pregnant or breastfeeding, and despite being neither of those things now, my eating habits suggested differently. Okay, my diet wasn’t terrible, but breakfast consisted of cereal or toast, lunch often involved yet more toast, and dinner, as it often does when you have small children, seemed to revolve around large bowls of pasta, albeit with a few veggies chucked in for good measure. It was in the evenings though, that I came undone, sitting and watching Netflix marathons, while mindlessly eating slabs of chocolate, whole bags of popcorn and slices of cheese, while reassuring myself that since I spend all day running after my kids, I had almost certainly deserved it.

I looked down at myself on that day and I saw a body that I was no longer happy with, realising with faint embarrassment that I couldn’t even remember the last time I did something that could reasonably be regarded as proper exercise.

The next day I dusted off my trainers and dragged myself around the block. When I returned home, hot, sweaty and out of breath, I looked at my watch to see that I had been running (well, slowly limping if we’re honest), for precisely eight minutes. But it was a start.

Four months later and I have completed the couch to 5k programme, and am now training for a 10k assault course in autumn. I have restarted my weekly vinyassa class and am taking part in Instagram yoga challenges to keep me motivated. Straying a little further from my comfort zone, I have also added a weekly weights class, and I am loving having (almost visible) muscles for the first time ever. Crucially though, my diet has also been totally overhauled. Thanks to the barrage of online clean eating inspiration, we have been making green smoothies (surprisingly nice), overnight oats, vegetable ‘pasta’ and huge salads. Better still, never one to swerve a cliche, I am well and truly aboard the bandwagon, making sweet treats using natural ingredients such as bananas, dates, honey and cacao. You guys, I am not one to brag (who am I kidding, I am totally one to brag), but at 32, I am in the best shape of my life.

Obviously I am not for a minute suggesting that every woman who is done with having children needs to lose weight or change her body, but for me it was exciting to realise that I could embark on a fitness journey, which would never again be interrupted by pregnancy, birth and all that goes along with it. That said, making time for exercise and eating well, while also parenting small children can be daunting. Here are some of the things that I have found make it easier.

Give yourself permission to prioritise you.
Okay, I admit it, that sounds like a nice hippie sentiment that is easier said than done. Quite honestly, as the mother of two little ones it is easy to feel as if I am permanently aboard a merry-go-round of nappy changes, picking up toys and answering never ending strings of questions about dinosaurs. But, I have to remind myself that I too matter. Nothing makes me a worse parent than when I’m grumpy because I have neglected to make time for myself, so instead of feeling guilty about taking time away from my family for self care, I now embrace it.

Work out a time that best suits you.
I could never be an evening gym goer. By the time the kids are in bed I barely have sufficient energy to open up the laptop and locate the next episode of Orange Is The New Black, let alone consider getting my trainers on. Our youngest gets up the rather uncivilised hour of 5.30am most days, and my husband and I take it in turns to get up with him and put the coffee on. On my ‘mornings off’ I was sleeping in until around 7am, but I found that if I set my alarm, I could fit in a good run or weights session before my eldest was even out of bed. Yes, it’s painful to drag myself up and out, but I much prefer getting my workout done for the day, than leaving it until later and then abandoning it in favour of lying on the sofa with a glass of red wine (priorities!).

Make it a family affair.
I love starting my day by sticking my headphones on and going for a solitary run along the seafront, before returning home to the chaos of family life. However, it has also been important to figure out how to make my family a part of my fitness journey too. Taking my boys swimming each week is a good start, but we also invested in a couple of really great backpack style carriers, so that the whole family can go for a decent hike, with the boys jumping on our backs if they get tired (and they get tired a lot). Making our family life as active as possible has meant that I don’t even consider it as exercise, just a day out, although carrying a 30lb toddler on your back as you climb to the top of the South Downs is undoubtedly a great way to build muscle.

Clean up your diet.
It has always been one of my top priorities as a parent to feed my children wholesome and nutritious food. Hypocritically, I would then wait until they were in bed before I pulled out the take away menus or popped to the shops for a chocolate bar. When I decided that I needed to start eating healthier, instead of going for a short term diet with short term results, I focused on giving all of us the best food possible at every snack and meal time. I have switched nearly all of our packaged snacks for veggies and houmous or apple slices and almond butter. Lunches and dinners are always full of fruits, veggies and salad, which means I have been able to reduce the amount of pasta and white rice I serve up, while still providing filling meals. Our current favourites though, are homemade ice lollies. I made our latest batch by blending up bananas, coconut milk, medjool dates, and cacao and freezing them in lolly moulds. So good.

Keep a balance.
While the recent surge in clean eating gurus is undoubtedly inspiring, it can also be, let’s face it, exhausting. No matter how much kale I eat, or avocadoes I mash onto toast, I have to face facts: I am never going to look as fresh faced as the likes of Ella Woodward or the Hemsley sisters, and it is doubtful if I will find the time to scatter flower petals wistfully about my dinner plate. Theirs is a wholehearted commitment to a lifestyle, while mine is… let’s call it an ‘eclectic approach’. I have made great strides in improving our diet and in fitting regular exercise in between preschool drop offs, various toddler groups and part time work. Admittedly though, some nights you just need to stick a pizza in the oven and call it quits, and no I’m not talking about the kind made with a cauliflower crust. For us mere mortals I think it is sufficient to take aspects of the perfect clean lifestyle, but to also accept that sometimes real life, and real cake, get in the way.

The beginning of the end.

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You’ve probably noticed that this blog is on the wane. Don’t worry, we’re fine! Better than fine actually, and that’s the thing I suppose. I’ve reached a point where I no longer wrangle constantly with parenting issues, no longer find the same need to write, in order to piece together and order my feelings on the things I’m finding difficult or care passionately about. We’re just… living.

One of my favourite bloggers, Esther Coren of Recipe Rifle (do check her out, she’s hilarous and soul affirming and tells it exactly like it is), recently wrote on her bringing her blog to a close, and said it far better than I ever could…

“I was traumatised by my children when they were very small – and doubly traumatised when they were both really small, at the same time. It produced huge questions to which I sought the answers from other people, and from inside my own head.

But life now is so prosaic, we just bumble along. And I’ve completely let go. I don’t twist myself up in knots about anything much these days… We can do the things we can do and we can’t do the things we can’t do. And soon we’ll be able to do whatever we want.

It’s not that I’ve answered all the questions, it’s that I know now for certain that there aren’t any answers.”

Quite.

I made a decision a while back that I would take the blog up until October, when my boys turn 2 and 4. The monthly updates, while some of the least popular posts in terms of readership, form the backbone of why I write here – to record and to remember. I want to see that through.

But like all jobs I guess, once you know the end is in sight, your enthusiasm begins to dwindle, and so here I am writing very little of anything, which is a shame and not my intention. I would like to go out strong, rather than fading away into the abyss of abandoned blogs. I have around 5 months left until I hit the log out button for good, and begin the process of making my posts in little books (does anyone know of a company that’s good for that by the way? Making WordPress blogs into books?), so I figure I have 5 good posts left in me, an overview of sorts, of what I’ve learned here over the last four years.

I hope you’ll stick around for them, see this thing through with me, but I wanted you to know why there’s not been much action here of late, and that there is an end, but that this is just the beginning of it.

Life Lately: Into Spring.

I have been thinking a lot recently about how the way I spend my time ebbs and flows, and the things I choose to focus on changes. There are the non negotiables, our status quo: keeping the house (reasonably) clean, putting cooked meals on the table most nights of the week, setting aside a little time each day to watch the children play, to read to them, to take them swimming and to the park. This forms the backbone of my days.

Then there are fluid areas, and sometimes I only have the energy to fill these with reading stuff on the Internet and watching TV. But sometimes, when I have a little left to spare, I write, or I bake something, or read, y’know, an actual book.

Right now is the time of the garden. Whether we’re planting, or digging, making new play spaces, or just sitting out there, that’s where I want to be, at the expense of pretty much everything else. It is the first time since we moved here that I feel totally relaxed about our outdoor space. We did a lot of major clearing last year, and while our lawn is still more moss and bare earth than grass, and every available space is currently full of unidentified bulbs, I just love it. It’s such a hodge podge, and the exact opposite of manicured, but finally I feel like I am getting a lot of enjoyment from it, rather than considering it a giant chore.

So at the moment the house is often more of a mess than I like, and a lot of other things, like this blog, are having to give, but I am really loving this Spring so far, and hoping the good weather lasts.

(Oh, PS. I finally worked out how make a gallery in WordPress, so you can click on each thumbnail to make it full size and then scroll through).


^^So far the kids have a pirate ship made from a pallet and a broom, a sandpit made from a builders tray and some rocks we’ve uncovered over the years, and a mud kitchen made from bricks and an old shelf. Nothing fancy or state of the art, but they play so happily, which lets me not only get stuff done, but occasionally put my feet up too.


^^One of my favourite things in the garden is a dilapidated old chair swing that was left by the old owners. Sometimes I get it to myself for a few minutes, but usually I’m joined by this ham.


^^This one is just happy as long as he has access to a washing up bowl of soapy water, and a vessel from which to sneakily drink it when I’m not looking.


^^The good weather also meant our first trip to the beach this year. I remembered to put the Mancub in his swimming trunks as I know he has a penchant for getting right in, even when the sea is still icy cold, but I foolishly forgot towels and a change of clothes, not realising that he would actually go swimming. While still in his tshirt. Lesson learned, I will be fully prepared for next time.

On a Mission.

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This weekend the Mancub and I went to visit my friend in Nottingham. Thanks to the ever infuriating M25 it took us a solid five and a half hours to get there on Friday, but luckily that boy can stare out of a window for longer than most.

On Saturday we went to The National Space Centre, which is cool but if you’re American, please don’t EVER go there because, embarrassing. It’s on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Leicester and is essentially there to show case the fact that our contribution to space exploration amounts to basically zero. Nevertheless! They have some cool exhibits for littles, including a launch simulator and different shows on through the day. It was a great way to spend a morning, the highlight being the glass elevator ride up the side of a space shuttle.

It was also a big treat to have a weekend away with my biggest boy. We shared a bed, which we’ve never done before, and he LOVED it, snuggling up all night and waking me with the question, ‘Why is some snot wet and some snot dry?’. Okay kid, let me have a coffee at least before we get into today’s big philosophical questions.

Back home #2 got some quality time with his Dad, and on Sunday night we both reflected on how damn nice it is to have just one kid to think about sometimes.

Over thinking and Instagramming.

I have, as I am prone to, been over thinking things. I cannot, it seems, just be a normal person and embrace social media and the future, no. I need to constantly dissect what I am doing online and the purpose of it and the legacy of it, especially when it comes to my children.

A long time ago now I deleted My Facebook and Twitter accounts and decided to concentrate anything I wanted to write or share about life with my kids into this blog. It has worked well, and I am happy that any friends I have who are interested in that aspect of my life read along, and those that aren’t, don’t. I am grateful too to have made some wonderful friends online, who also share their parenting stories somewhere in the vast chasm of the Internet, and connect over oceans, through shared experience.

But then recently I got lured into Instagram, with its pretty filters and how easy it is to snap a picture in the park and have it uploaded in seconds.

Cue the overthinking.

On the one hand it has been cool to take a quick snap of the sky or some trees, tag it, and have a bunch of strangers like it. On the other, I began to find it a little uncomfortable if those strangers then scrolled through my feed and liked a photo of my kid on the beach. I like the community aspect of sharing photos on a particular theme, but I’m not sure that it marries up that well with also sharing personal photos in the same space.

I am well aware that this blog is extremely public and that I write very personally and share a lot here. But somehow to me this (perhaps naively, I don’t know), feels like a protected space. Readers only come here if they have a genuine interest in reading what I have to say. I say that mainly becaus it takes a lot of effort to wade through all of this content, as opposed to the ease of scrolling through someone’s Instagram feed, double tapping as you go. You are, if you have even made it to this point in the post (to which I say congratulations!), engagjng on a level that goes way beyond just hitting the like button because you think a random kid is cute.

So I decided to hold back. I will keep the photos and ramblings about my family here, on my blog. They might pop up occasionally on my Instagram, but I mainly want that to be a space where I just share some nice photos of where I live. It has been a great motivation to seek out beauty in my surroundings, which I am enjoying, but the rest stays here.

As such I’ve decided to start a semi regular (everything is semi regular at best with me, as you may have noticed), ‘Life Lately’ style post to share the moments that I capture with my family. I used to do a similar thing called ‘Five Photos’, but I want this to be a little looser, a bit of a dumping ground for photos and moments that I don’t want to get lost in the abys, but I don’t necessarily want on Instagram either.

Below are a few you might have already seen. The next one will be a bit less about my ability to drain the spontaneity and joy out of everything, and a little more about what we’ve been up to lately.

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^^A trip to the park, A few snaps from the beach in Portugal, a poorly Mancub when we returned and exploring the woods and cliffs where we live.

A Winter’s Tale.

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Is anyone else sick of winter yet?

Summer is rich pickings for a stay at home parent with two small kids in tow: an afternoon spent gossiping with other Mums in the park, lazing in the garden reading books on a rug, strolling to the shops for an ice lolly and then strolling back again with sticky fingers. There seem to be endless possibilities when the sun is shining and the weather is hot.

But oh, the hassle of cajoling two of them into thick socks and snow suits and boots and hats and mittens. All for a measly walk to the local park where you stand perishing, pushing a pair of swings, waiting until you’ve killed enough time that you can trudge back home again. Just so you can say you all got some fresh air today.

No, Winter is time to embrace the great indoors. Not my strong suit I confess (I get a little cabin feverish at the best of times), but we have had some good times of late. Simple times, playing, indoors. That Maps Book? By Aleksandea and Daniel Mizielinska, and worth its weight in gold if you too have a child who loves to pore over busy pictures, spotting the details, and most importantly the different types of whales. It keeps The Mancub occupied through many a morning indoors. That and the Disney Princess compilation on Spotify.

Now, how many days until Spring?

Sick day.

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There have been tears around here of late. The Mancub is beginning the process of settling into new preschool and it has been… rocky. I will summon the energy to write about that soon I promise, I just need to bury my head in the sand a little longer.

Of course along with a new school comes new germs and inevitable sickness. So, both emotionally and physically drained, we spent the bulk of the weekend indoors, sheltered from the elements, trying not to lose our tiny minds.

And of course just when my inclinations were telling me just to snuggle under a blanket on the sofa and hibernate, what my children needed was some attention. And some fun. So when I saw this activity on the ever inspiring How We Montessori, I finally found a use for one of my husband’s old photography backdrops.

This is one of those ideal activities to do with children: It is inherently enjoyable, large scale, almost mischievous to be drawing on something so big. And yet, so many learning opportunities present themselves – art, science, literacy skills, all organically melded into one. It could easily be extended for older children (in fact I used to do a variation on this with my year fours when we were studying the skeleton), but is also fun for older babies who like to suck on crayons and turn themselves into tiny goths too.

I didn’t have high hopes for the weekend I’ll be honest. But sometimes it pays to raise your parenting game. Just a little.

Best of 2014: According To An Easy World.

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BEST ALBUM LISTENED TO: Guys, this year, I actually listened to some music that was… released this year! I know! Go me! I still fall hard and predictably for girls singing folk songs, and my favourite of 2014 was Burn Your Fire For No Witness by Angel Olsen. If I had any control at over what gets played on the stereo here that’s what would be playing a lot. But I don’t. So I should probably give a shout out to Futurology by The Manics, because like Rewind The Film before it, it provides a continuous and ubiquitous soundtrack to our family’s life.

BEST SINGLE DOWNLOADED: Is it wrong to find it funny that my three year old pretends to feed his toy Anaconda sticky buns, because, ‘his Anaconda don’t want none unless he gets buns Hun’? The watching of Nicki Minaj’s video for Anaconda can only be described as a truly life enriching experience. Apart from for you Dad.

BEST GIG: The. Holy. Bible. 20. I think you know that you are officially old when you pull a muscle in your neck whilst dancing at a Manics gig. But my husband and I ran around the pubs of Camden like giddy teenagers, because WE’RE OUT! WE’RE OUT IN LONDON!

BEST FILM SEEN: I loved going to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at the cinema, because it is just one of those films where every single shot is perfectly choreographed and beautiful and I might have whooped out loud a little when Bill Murray finally shows up.

BEST TV SHOW WATCHED: This year we watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad. TV will always seem a little bit shitter in comparison from now on.

BEST THING BOUGHT: This was the year of frugality. We tried so hard to really think about the things we were buying and to make fewer impulse purchases. Maybe next year will be the year of mindless conspicuous consumption. Or at the very least I’ll buy a phone that actually works.

BEST WEBSITE VISITED: I still love all of my old favourites: Amalah, Advice Smackdown on AlphaMom, Janet Lansbury, How We Montessori, Small Things, Sweet Madeleine and Love Taza to name a few of the websites that I check in on most days. But my favourite new blog this year has been Renegade Mothering, which I love so much I have to work hard not to just reblog every single thing Janelle writes, so much does she speak the truth. If you are a mother, or a decent human being, you should read this blog and emote.

BEST TUMBLR HEARTED: My friend recently sent me a meme that read something like, ‘Tumblr: insulting you for things you never even knew you could be insulted for’. Which is funny, because yes, Tumblr is the most right on space in the Internet, but also, I am not ashamed to say that I have learned so much from the incredible right on women that I follow, who post about gender and intersectionality and race and trans* rights and make me think about feminism and stuff generally in ways that I had never even considered before. Tuning into mainstream media after being on Tumblr is always a shock, because you’re like, woah, why is no one talking about this? Why is no one else this angry? There are literally a ton of women writing intelligently and thought provokingly about the sorts of issues I’ve just mentioned, but my top favourite this year has been the wonderful Stone Fruit Juices.

BEST THING THAT HAPPENED IN 2014: The first part of this year was heavy. I had a two year old and a baby and achieving anything else apart from the absolute bare minimum seemed like a huge stretch (including, but not limited to, staying up past 8pm). The last few months I have finally started getting some sleep again and thanks to my parents being able to babysit for us, we have had some good nights out as a couple and with friends. Because, yes I love my children more than I thought was humanly possible, but also, my husband is pretty rad too and it feels good to be able to spend time doing stuff together other than looking at each other in blind panic and crying.

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2015: Seeing The Decemberists and Josie Long in February and The Manics again in June. Getting some sun in Portugal towards the end of Winter and hopefully some camping in the Summer. And maybe, just maybe, our first weekend away without the kids. IMAGINE!

The Snowman: A weekend kind of treat.

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Because my husband often works from home, and I don’t work at all (or work every day depending on your perspective), it can often feel as if we have lost sight of those signposts that tell us when to wind down, when to relax, when to take time off and just do… nothing. In other words life is either one long weekend, or we have no weekends at all, and more often than not we err towards the latter. I often still hanker after those days as a teacher, when I lived in a constant merry go round of half terms and holidays, just because they gave shape to my year, to my weeks, (although the actual teaching I am doing fine without).

Lately we have been making an effort to up the number of days that feel like ‘days off’, as opposed to just more of the same: getting the children up, fed, out of the house, to bed, up again, keeping everything vaguely clean and tidy, not dropping any balls. It can be hard, because the children don’t do brilliantly when there isn’t any structure, and my husband’s iPhone is always on and seemingly always buzzing, but we are trying.

So this Sunday, when we were still eating toast in our pyjamas at 10am and the Mancub asked if could ‘watch somefling’, I just had one of those, ‘fuck it’, moments, fished out The Snowman on DVD and put the laptop on the kitchen table. It probably says a great deal about me that this is my idea of spontaneity, but the kids were thrilled with their treat nonetheless, and it definitely gave the sense of ‘weekendness’ that has been missing.

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Side note: Am I officially an emotional wreck or is it normal to feel the lump in your throat before David Bowie is even off the screen? Who knew pencil crayons could create such pathos?