Ignite the light

‘Cause there’s a spark in you..

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

– Katy Perry

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36 Hours in Madrid

It’s Monday morning. 7am. I’m on a train hurtling towards London. In 2 hours I’ll be in our Capital city. Work beckons.

Only 2 days ago, I was on a plane, similar time of day. 2 hours later I was in Spain’s Capital city. We got home at Midnight (7 hours ago) having spent 36 hours in Madrid.

If you haven’t been to Madrid (this was our first time), it is a beautiful, buzzy place. It is at once busy and laid back. So many people, meandering along the wide streets, talking at 100mph to their companions with animated arms and hands.

Crowded cafes where people squeeze in around tiny tables savouring wine, coffee, tapas and conversation for hours at a time.

We got sore feet from walking, we ate far too much, drank quite a bit and slept all night long until 9am on Sunday. (9am!! That is unheard of in our house, but you’ve probably guessed by now that it was a kid-free weekend – also very rare in our house)

Mostly though, we tried to soak up the atmosphere. We sat and watched. We talked. We tried to slow life down…

Things I will remember about Madrid;

1. There are a lot of antique coin shops (still not sure why)
2. There are also many many ham museums (Museo de Jamon – for eating rather than looking, but confusing at first)
3. The food is delicious
4. The city itself is aesthetically stunning
5. It is possible to slow down in one of the busiest cities in the world, and so it must be possible to slow down and be present in the rush of day-to-day life.

Namaste x

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Refreshed and invigorated

This may, or may not, be apparent from my ramblings; but I rarely begin writing a blog post with a clear plan, with a beginning, a middle or an end. In fact, often times, the end is as much as a surprise to me as it is to you. As is (usually) how we’ve gotten to that point.

And this post is no different.

You see, and I’ve written this before, I find the process of writing very cathartic. And so, to decide on the outcome in advance feels more than a tad fraudulent. Secondly, there are many times when I sit down to my keypad/board with more than one thought or idea that I want to share (too many it seems) and then somehow two or three of those thoughts end up linked together on (virtual) paper.

This is one of those times.

Let’s start with the holiday. I have returned from Lanzarote refreshed, invigorated and with a renewed motivation for life. It wasn’t the most relaxing or stress free holiday I’ve ever had, but a change is as good as a rest and my plan to take the part-time Au Pairs was totally worthwhile.

Side note: You know when you’re on a plane and some wretched godawful family is sat behind/beside/in front of you with two kids who won’t stop screaming? Well, for the first time ever (and I hope the last, though i doubt it will be) we were THAT family. Mortifying!

Invigorated. Motivated. I’m making plans. Plans to see more sunshine, which in the short term includes more holidays and in the long term includes buying a property somewhere in the med. Plans to live a balanced life, which involves more leisure activities, particularly those that can be enjoyed in the sun for instance, holidays and living beachside in the med. (Have you caught the thread yet?)

All of these wonderful plans though, require a great deal of money and so I’m heading straight back to work to earn more pennies.

I imagine that the smart approach to this situation, though, is not to wait 20 or so years for those pennies to pile up but to channel my positivity into the little things. Those moments that present themselves each day as an opportunity to be happy or be sad, dependant on how you look at it. For instance, after a hailstorm this morning (in May!) the sun is now shining. I think I’ll take 5 minutes to step outside and breathe.

After that I might take 1 minute more to put my arms around my Beloved and enjoy the comfort and safety of being home.

Later, I will laugh with my babies and cherish the smiles on their faces.

And tomorrow, I will look for more opportunities to feel happiness, whilst I work my butt off for those holiday funds!

Another year has gone by, and what have I learned?

Today is my birthday. I’m not looking for felicitations but (as it does for many in my stage of life) today, my train of thought has hurtled out of the station and is racing to an unknown destination.

My birthday used to be a REALLY BIG deal to me. And I’ve blogged about this before. It was my one day in the year where I got to be the centre of attention (in reality, I was quite the attention seeker and so managed to manoeuvre myself to the centre on quite a lot of days). But fairytale dreams of Prince Charming, lavish gifts and generally just being adored, built up horrendously unachievable expectations in my mind (Damn you Disney/Hollywood RomComs!).

I have no expectations this year, in fact I can’t even be bothered celebrating. I told my Beloved in advance I was going to “save it up” for next year – the big 4.0. (Not really sure what “it” is – I guess it’s any amount of energy I can muster…) I also told him that I wanted 2 things for my birthday – 1) space, time all on my own and 2) a shower. I should really have added a full night’s sleep to the birthday list but I’d have to actually decant to another house to get that so, it seemed more than a tad selfish.

So, I’m sitting here feeling fresher than a daisy, alone, writing, with music playing loud and not another human being in sight. Bliss!

Don’t get me wrong – in about an hour, I’ll be bored. I’ll be glued to NurseryCam and texting my Beloved telling him I miss him like crazy and what’s his expected ETA. (Tempramental – I know. It’s just one of a long list of adjectives on the list of words that, I have come to realise, describe me to a tee :-)) 

But for now, I’m enjoying the peace and quiet and I wouldn’t swap it for an Omega watch even if you paid me. Because I don’t need the Hollywood dream anymore. I am happier than I ever imagined I could be. And it’s all because of 3 things;

1) Family – My Beloved, my 2 beautiful babies, my Parents, my siblings;
2) Friends – I don’t have a wide network of friends but I have a few close ones that reciprocate the love and trust I have for them and
3) Security – I feel secure. Not because I have millions in the bank (no where near it). Not because I have a fancy house with state of the art alarm systems. But because I feel loved. Truly loved. And I am finally beginning to understand who I am and accepting myself for who I am. And that has only been possible because I have 1) and 2) above.

How times have changed.

*The train of thought has now reached it’s destination*

A surprising day

It seems I’ve been remiss again, when it comes to regular blog posting. As ever, never enough hours in the day and still trying to find a yoga class that fits the schedule.

Yesterday was a weird day.

My baby boy was back in hospital for yet another test. Let me give you some background; when he was 10 days old he was hospitalised due to a dangerously high temperature. The Doctors knew it was an infection but could only find out what kind by performing multiple tests. Standard procedure dictates that they treat for the worst case scenario until they can rule it out. This is because in a baby that young, every second counts and they don’t want to leave anything to chance. Worst case scenario, by the way, is the big M (meningitis).

Long story short; lots of needles, tubes, invasive testing and 5 days later we had confirmation that it was a urine infection. They sent us home with prophylactic antibiotics and the understanding that they would follow up and check for any damage in 6 months.

Cut to present day. Follow up began a month ago. Urine infections in boys are not do common. in 10 day olds, very rare. So, the Doctors are keen to ensure there are no underlying issues. He’s had ultrasounds, x-rays, tubes, needles and scans – one of which sounded like there was a distinct possibility that he was undergoing the same process as Bruce Banner. And throughout it all, with a few understandable exceptions, he has remained his smiley, giggly, happy little self.

Yesterday, he was very brave. More brave than we were as usual. The process seemed easier. I can’t praise the staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital enough. They seemed to put us all at ease without us really noticing.

So, we had expected a traumatic day and in the end it was just uncomfortable for 20 minutes. And then an unexpected opportunity presented itself. Well, Grandma presented it.

She had changed her shift to finish earlier in case we needed her. And when we didn’t, she came over anyway. She helped settle the kids and stayed a while, sending us out into the night on our own for a little while.

So, we had a proper meal for the first time in ages. A glass of wine and a giggle. We talked about the old days and how good they were. And how, despite having not had a full nights sleep in months, having to juggle full time jobs, 2 kids under 3 and multiple hospital appointments – these are BEST days. Just what we needed.

Thank you Peanut, for being a force for positivity. And thank you Mum. Just thank you. Your love and support are infinite and unconditional. If I can be half the mother to my children that you are to me, I’ll be doing OK 🙂

I’m a (Role) Model, you know what I mean? And I do my little turn on the catwalk

Even more shocking than the ode to Right Said Fred in the title of this post, is the realisation that I am a role model!

Why has this just hit me?

It was something that my Beloved said this morning that illuminated the point to me, in huge Vegas-style lights.

Strawbug went to day care today, carrying a tiny white, vintage style, handbag. It was her choice to take it, I had no influence in the decision. The bag was given to her (preloved) by her Auntie who lives in London. (Note to the reader: Strawbug has regular bouts of obsession with London, but that’s another post).

She carried it over her arm, the strap cradled in her elbow. She looked like a mini Jackie-O, without the hat and gloves… and in some leggings and a pair of baby converse. OK, so, she didn’t look exactly like Jackie O. But, she did have an aura of 1950’s glamour about her, in the way that she carried herself, or more specifically her bag. I digress.

When I told my Beloved about how much everyone smiled when they seen her, he said “Aww, she wants to be just like you. She loves you.” And the lights went on…

I have lost count of the number of times that I have reprimanded my Beloved for things he has said, or done, in front of the kids. “I know that they are only little, but they are like sponges. They take it all in” I say. To the point where now, I only have to look over at him and he says “I know, I know, SPONGES!”. And to prove my point, Strawbug regularly walks around the house reciting “Oh, Blimey!” continually. (To be honest, it could have been worse). I have a stack of parenting books that back up this theory (and, it seems now I have Strawbug backing me up with real, live, evidence).

I’m always so careful about what I say in front of the kids, because the feedback from their learning tends to be rapid. (i.e. they pretty much repeat what you say, word for bloody word, immediately – especially if it’s a word you shouldn’t have said within earshot of them).

But I often forget that they are soaking in all that I DO as well. Because the impact of this learning appears (to me, anyway) to be more subtle or, at least, deferred until later. Now that I have seen my first exhibit of evidence, though, is it time to start moderating my behaviour as well? That’s seems like a big ask.

But surely I would only need to change my behaviour, if my behaviour was defective. And well, if your a mother, (and you are anything like me) you probably question your behaviour (and your abilities) on a daily basis. Every day I think about how to help Strawbug be the best Strawbug she can be. And now, it has finally dawned on me that the best way to do that is to be the best Me that I can be.

So, here I am. My life is a catwalk and I’m being watched, admired and looked up to, by my babies. I need to show them how to face life with dignity and grace. I need to show them what beauty really means. If I come across an obstacle I need to show them how to find a way to the other side. If I find myself at a crossing, I need to show them how to choose the right path. And if I fall off my heels, I need to show them how to get up again, dust yourself off and keep going. Because I am a role model!

Be brave

My baby boy has a hospital appointment today. It’s a follow up test from an infection he contracted when he was 10 days old. I’m dreading it. It’s an intrusive test.

I’m not brave by nature. I tend to shy away from confrontation, well, confrontation from someone else that I’m not prepared for. Fight or Flight? I’m probably 20% Fight, 80% Flight. But that’s an improvement. (caveat: not that I think 100% fight is the right approach either)

Explaining the world, and rationalising baseless fear, for an anxious 2 year old, has forced me to think about my own fear. I’ve had to defer to the left side of my brain on many occasions when, in her shoes, I would myself probably succumb to the right. It’s difficult to explain to someone with little or no reference points for life, that some things are dangerous and therefore she should rightly be wary of them, yet other things – unknown things – are often nothing to be scared of at all.

In the case of today’s tests, my fears and anxiety are not groundless. They are based on 5 days spent in hospital with a tiny baby, needles and tubes everywhere, being poked and prodded by doctors and potentially having the worst infection a child can have (thank heavens it turned out to be something slightly less sinister). And more than anything just wanting to pick him up, hold him and make it all go away. Which of course, I can’t.

I can’t even begin to imagine how parents of kids with severe or terminal illness cope.

So, I find myself experiencing and learning alongside my kids. As, by way of example, I have no choice but to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. When it comes to being brave, it is not being fearless that counts, it’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.