Archive | April 2013

To holiday or not to holiday…….during term time!

Holidays during term time….

I know this subject may stir up a hornets nest of opinions, but this has never been a subject that has ever bothered me, until now….allow me to explain.

A bit of background first: My eldest daughter, L, is my Husbands step-daughter. My Ex, L‘s dad lives approximately 60 miles away. We split up when L was 2 years old, and she does not remember us being together. L sees her dad every fortnight, she spends two nights with him, her step mum, half brother and step brother (bear with me) and usually spends about half of all school holidays with him/them.

Last year, L‘s dad knocked me off my feet by informing me that he was going on holiday to Spain for two weeks and hadn’t asked me if he could take L with him as he was taking the holiday during term time and knew I would say “no”. He said all of this in front of L (I was collecting her at the time), who looked as though she would burst into tears, and understandably so. It made me feel absolutely and utterly awful.

I was furious. The most furious a furious person who was furious could be. He had not even asked me. He had assumed I would say “no”, and yes ok I probably would have instinctively said “No”, that is beside the point; he still should have asked. He blamed ME for L not going on holiday with them. The lowest game he has ever played!

I told him a few days later that in future he was never to leave L out again, that the damage he caused was irreversible and never ever to put the blame on me again. EVER!

So all last summer I had to deal with and try to repair the damage EX had caused. And to be honest, I am not sure I will ever be able to. L will always remember the summer her dad went on holiday with his family and left her behind (her words not mine.) My poor little baby girl (ok she is not that little anymore, but nonetheless, she is still my baby) was feeling very left out and exceptionally sad about the whole thing. She smiled again of course, and we carried on as usual, and I made a promise to myself that from that day on, I would stop protecting him and his silly games he plays and always, always make an effort to be honest with L about everything. And I have.

Fast forward to this year, L is now in year 4 at school (in my terms, she is in second year juniors), and it’s getting to that time of year when parents start organising holidays. It was during a routine fortnightly pick-up that I asked EX what his holiday plans are this year………wait for it………….he informed me that he cannot afford to take a 2 week holiday during the school holidays (who can at the moment seriously?!) so he is planning on taking a 2 week holiday DURING TERM TIME and wants to take L with him!!!!!

Again, I am completely blown away, for a number of reasons:

1. In my eyes, if you can’t afford a 2 week holiday during school holidays: either go for 1 week or not at all or maybe just maybe find a holiday in the UK which isn’t as expensive.

2. This is the parent who complained about L‘s “standard of education” following the last Parents’ Consultation (formally known to me as Parents’ Evening) and how badly she was doing! But he is still happy enough to take her out of school for 2 weeks when its suits him.

3. He is happy to risk his name and mine, for this holiday: our Education Authority is very strict. If permission is refused by the school for the absence and the holiday is taken anyway; we each get fined £120!

But the main reason I am in silenced (not an easy thing to do to me!) and knocked sideways; he asks me in front of L if I would allow her to go. So immediately I am in a no win situation. If I say “no” I not only run the risk of having a repeat of the emotional turmoil L went through last year, but also being the ‘horrible bad parent’ for not letting her have a holiday. If I say “yes” I go against everything I believe in. I, personally, do not believe in taking children out of school for a holiday. I have never done it and never even thought about doing it. I believe that school is important and that any missed days are time they never get back. I am not referring to the ‘odd day’ here remember, I am talking about 2 whole weeks. To a child 10 days away from friends is difficult. At the age L is at now, so much can change within a friendship circle in such a short amount of time.

So I did the only thing I thought the best at the time; I told him that he should request permission from the school directly and then we could sort it out. Knowing L‘s school as I do, I thought my position would be fairly safe, as they would refuse permission. How wrong I was!

Yes, they consulted with me: Was I aware that EX had put in this request? The Office Manager talked me through the procedure, how it all worked, what happened if the request was refused and she was still taken out of school, how long it takes, on what basis permission is granted, etc.

To cut a long story a bit short….they GRANTED permission! For 11 days!! That’s right ELEVEN!! Not the ten I had been told about…..!!

Now I really was gobsmacked. Now I had no choice really did I? Although you may say that actually I did. I could have stood my ground and refused to let her go. But could you honestly break your child’s heart by refusing a holiday with her dad? Especially in light of the fact that she had been so completely and utterly upset by last years events. No and that’s why she is going on this years holiday with her dad.

I have laid the law to him however, and told him that next year she will not be going on any holiday during term time; she will be in year 5 and working towards the end of her primary education.

And if I’m honest I love seeing her face light up when she talks about the holiday. It’s a real joy to see her so happy.

Am I jealous, cross, angry, frustrated, sad? Yes I am all those things and more. But her smile is so worth it.


What’s in your bag?

MY BAG! It’s funny the things you can ponder on while you mop the kitchen floor…
– Is it rubbish day? Better put the bags out before it rains
– Dinner plans for tonight…Spaghetti Bolognese – do I have enough of everything? Who is coming for dinner?
– My daughters jujitsu class is tonight – I wonder when she’ll be ready enough for me to order the uniform. She’ll need to be measured.

But mostly, and more often recently I think about potential subjects to blog about. This is because I feel I should post more often but also I want to write pieces which are slightly humorous and interesting and not completely mundane.

So I mentally prepare a list, plan it and write them in my journal (occasionally I think I may benefit from having a Dictaphone); sometimes it’s just the subject title which I then expand on it fully when I publish it. I’m not sure if every blogger works this way, or if they just sit and type? Maybe I will find it easier as time goes on.

Some of the topics I have in the wings, waiting for their fifteen minutes of fame include :
– Friendship – losing, making, keeping and maintaining. The ‘rules’
– Child support – financially. L’s dad and his ‘efforts’ etc. What’s right, wrong and fair.
– Lifestyle Vs money –
– Friend’s spouses – is it taboo to blog bout them?

All of these are mentally finalised, some are drafted and others completed, I just do not have the courage to publish them, yet!

So for today, I will just blog about the contents of my handbag

Let me begin by saying, I love my handbag. As a mum, I am responsible for making sure that I cover every possible situation. Long gone are the days when I could manage with a funky fashionable overpriced small over the shoulder job, which could just about house my mobile, lip-gloss, keys, purse, etc. To me, back then, they were the essentials.

Nowadays, as any mum will agree, small dainty handbags are a thing of the past – well until the rugrats are old enough to carry their own things.

Nowadays my handbag resembles more of a horse feeding bag, with the weight to equal that of a fully packed suitcase for a two week holiday.

My handbag from above. Straps – the bag must have shoulder straps AND an over-the-body strap – you never know when you need both of your hands at one time – slinging the bag across your body actually frees both hands. The bag must also be made of sturdy material, but look presentable – leather is always a good option. Pockets – It must have pockets inside, at least two. It must have a zip or similar to ensure it closes completely – this prevents things falling out and rolling all over the floor of whichever establishment you are in at the time.

I have had my current bag since Christmas. It was a present from my Parents (Thanks Mum and Dad! xx) I can always rely on a blooming decent bag from them. And I am pleased to say that, so far, it has held up well and is doing me proud.

And because it’s a bloody decent bag, which is sturdy, has fabulous straps, has three – yes three – inside pockets, I am able to cart this lot around with me nearly everyday. It is also the reason I get moaned at by The Husband, who claims to never be able to find anything – “You carry too much!” “You don’t need all that cr*p in there!”. But the bags serves a purpose when he needs a place to put HIS keys, wallet, mobile, glasses case, etc…

The contents of my handbag

Contents of my bag, audited 10th April 2013:

1 x nappy, 1 x pack of wet wipes, my purse, my glasses case, a pack of plasters (a must have for every parent!), 1 x dummy, 4 x hairbands, 2 x hairclips, 1p coin, 2 x tins of lip gloss/balm, 2 x sachets of ketchup, 1 x KFC wipe, 1 x lighter (I used to smoke!), paracetamol, 2 x lollipops, half a pack of sugar free Polos, 1 x plastic ring red in colour, 3 x pens, 1 x tampon, a pair of my daughter’s sunglasses, 1 x bottle of perfume, a compact mirror, 4 x lipsticks – all different shades, 1 x lip stain, 2 x eyeliners, 1 x concealer, 1 x lipliner, a smaller bag for the makeup, 2 x nail files, two receipts for Morrisons supermarket (I would add that usually there are more receipts than this, I must have been good recently!), 1 x pack of tissues, 2 x pair of mittens for my son.

So there you go. What’s in your bag?

The coffee is brewing and it smells so good….

English: Beach at Walton-on-the-Naze Looking n...

English: Beach at Walton-on-the-Naze Looking north from the Mabel Greville breakwater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So we’re almost halfway through the school Easter holidays and it’s been lovely. The Husband has taken a week’s holiday and although the weather could not have been more different to what it was like two years ago, ( Easter 2011 we spent on the beach. Not a beach in an exotic location, well unless you class Walton on the Naze an exotic location!) we have had a good break so far.

But time goes so fast. The days get eaten up so quickly. In amongst the plans, days out, entertaining children; you have to maintain a certain level of the mundane routine:  Cooking dinner, doing the washing, getting the shopping done.  I’m already thinking about the shopping list needed for the school packed lunches (L wants a new packed lunch bag!), locating and washing that dreaded P.E. kit (white t-shirt, red shorts and a pair of those lovely black plimsolls), wondering what the weather will be like; usually its after the Easter break that the summer uniform gets brought out and the winter one tucked away. Not sure that will be the case this year.

I’m thinking about the things we’ve still got planned and haven’t got around to yet. Cookie making, cinema trip, gardening, London day trip, zoo trip.

At the Movies ~ The Croods, 2013

We’ve had the afternoon of painting nails (mine: orange, L’s: purple and orange, T’s: pink and sparkly but not G’s – boys of 19 months should not be subjected to wearing nail polish, there is plenty of time for that), shoe shopping (you should know by now that I am a shoe fiend and that trait has definitely been inherited by my kids) a good hour or more was spent trying on various shoes, sandals, trainers, canvas pumps, flip flops, etc. We’ve done the compulsory trip to McDonalds, and got the happy meal toy x3 (The Croods), balloon x3 and fought tooth and nail for a table to sit and eat. We’ve been to Pizza Hut and pigged out on the buffet menu and unlimited soft drinks. I have also had to spend a very unpleasant but much needed morning at the dentist, which resulted in me being unable to talk properly, dribbling everywhere and unable to feel the left side of my face and tongue for the next four hours – yes a filling!!

I always dread school holidays; I am not, in any way shape or form a Mum who can naturally come up with ideas to keep my children happy and amused. I like activities which do not make a mess or require 100% supervision. Whereas my girls just love baking, painting, cutting, play dough, glitter, stickers, etc. This is not unusual I know and many of you are reading this smiling and nodding. Yes you are!

However,  I dislike having my children in the kitchen cooking or baking; they make too much mess and take too long. I know I know I know. Now I’ve typed that I realise that I sound awful. But my children do not miss out and actually despite what I have said I DO let my children do baking, do arts and crafts. I am getting better.

So here I sit at 5am on Thursday morning, downstairs, unable to sleep. My bed; full of snoring Husband and a restless daughter (I would not recommend letting your 9 year old watching an episode of Jonathan Creek by the way, it causes a night of non-sleeping and climbing in and out of mum and dads bed), I decided to retreat to the lounge, put the coffee machine on and catch up on my recorded Sky+ programming  – OBEM, TOWIE (yes I know! I’ve never claimed to have a good taste in television programmes.)

As I type this blog, I am working out what to do with the children today, with the knowledge that in slightly over a weeks time I will be moaning that the alarm has to be re-set and the kids dragged out of bed. But in the meantime, my coffee smells good……………….