Archive | May 2013

Half-term nothingness

So we’re coming to the end of yet another half term break, and actually despite not actually doing anything, it’s been pretty damn good.

During the last school holidays, I put myself under pressure to do things with the kids. And yes we went to the cinema, had buckets loads of naughty food, but in my opinion because we hadn’t planned anything this time, we actually relaxed and took each day on our stride.

As usual the weather hasn’t been on our side. Although quite remarkably we has sunshine, yes I said sunshine, over the bank holiday weekend; however once the BH was over the weather turned again. So as no plans were made, no plans were ruined.

Tuesday: a lovely late lazy start to the morning. The kids and I didn’t actually get dressed until about 11am! Yes, yes I know. But it is the holidays. Ordinarily we get up, get dressed and are sitting at the table eating breakfast by 7 am during the term-time, so this is loooovely.

After the youngest has had a nap (such an exhausting morning has been had so far!), and we’ve had a light lunch,  we get the bikes out.

I would point out that this is a very brave thing for me – it’s raining! I don’t like rain. But I loooove my bike. It has been tucked away all winter, and now I think it’s time to bring it out of hibernation.

So anyway, we’re on our bikes; me with the two youngest in the trailer (I forgot how heavy that thing is!) and the eldest on hers. We set off into town, so pick up a few essentials. It’s not a very exciting trip out granted, but they enjoyed themselves.

They enjoyed it even more when the saddle came off Mummy’s bike! Yes, despite being covered up for winter, that damned north sea wind has got to the frame and rusted/corroded or something and well, my saddle came off! I was not happy, but I found it slightly amusing at the same time. So Husband has something else to add to his weekend to-do-list….service my bike, re-rust, re-attach my saddle, the works.

Wednesday: Again, we had no plans. I had to do very boring things like paying a bill at the post-office and renewing our parking permit with the local Council office. So I told the kids, that once I had done my bits we would go into the next town, have some lunch,  a mooch around the charity shops, where they could spend their pocket money, and maybe meet up with H a friend of mine and her kids for a cuppa.

Again, these plans didn’t go to plan. The local Council office has, unbeknown to me, been closed permanently. This is no good when the parking permit runs out in two days! Instead I have to drive into a different town, Clacton, to visit the Town Hall. I am not amused. And now it was raining, again!

So  cancelled on H and off we go. Went to Town Hall, dealt with and put up with a rather rude and obnoxious Council employee and took the kids to the Wimpy. This perked us all up. Food works a treat doesn’t it? Well it does with mine. And now my eldest, L, was happy as she could head straight to Claire’s Accessories and spend an age deciding what she wants to waste, sorry spend, her money on.

We spend a further two hours in Clacton; we visit New look, Shoe Zone, Peacocks, Burtons, The Card Factory. Spend a bit more than originally planned, but it could have been more.

Thursday and Friday: very very non-happening days. Nothing to report. Lovely lazy get ups, breakfasts. Catching up on playing with kids, housework (which I simply cannot avoid), watching Cbeebies, playing in the garden, colouring, visiting Nanna (who lives next door), walking to the local corner shop to pick up an unhealthy selection of penny, or rather “ten penny” sweets.

So there you go, half-term  is over, and I am not looking forward to that horrible alarm clock going off on Monday morning. This is the first school break that I have actually relaxed and enjoyed the children without the stress of clock watching and keeping to any plans we’ve made.

But it isn’t long until the end of the school year, and we’ve got six lovely weeks of lazy get ups and having relaxing fun, in hopefully slightly warmer weather.

Jujitsu on a Wednesday night

L's Licence & Grade record cardDeclarationSo it’s Wednesday evening and I’m sitting in my car (I was at the time of writing this) intending to draft some book reviews I plan to blog about; a new section I want to integrate. Why? Because quite simply I love a good book.

But the question you should be asking is, “why are you sitting in your car?”

My answer: My eldest daughter L is attending her weekly Jujitsu lesson.

It runs from 7pm until 8pm. It costs me £4 per lesson (plus the £5 babysitting) and she thoroughly loves it.

I was dubious at first I’ll be honest. L has started clubs before, but it’s never lasted past 3-4 weeks. And if I’m honest it’s never bothered me. Actually I was always secretly relieved that she would lose interest; it took the pressure off. Juggling an evening club with younger children and fitting into my ‘routine’ has always been a headache.

But with Jujitsu – so far – it seems to be an activity that is scoring high on the interest/enjoyment ranks.

What do I like about L learning Jujitsu?

I’ll start with the discipline aspect. I knew nothing about this sport/martial art, absolute ZILCH. But it became apparent from the onset that discipline is a major part and something they are taught.

  • Listening
  • Bowing (Rei): The students, and instructors(Renshi), are required to bow when entering and exiting the DOJO (*)
  • Showing respect
  • Obeying the rules

Club Rules

It is very strict; I like this. I believe it’s important, especially today for children to have rules to work to and have them instilled in them.

Physical exercise – this speaks for itself. L is in no way overweight/obese. She is always running around and has always been slightly smaller than her age group. But this sport gives her a little bit more. It teaches her how to put muscle, strength and control into what she does. It’s not just about running around getting all sweaty and hot.

Self-defence – What parent doesn’t want their child practised and confident when it comes to knowing how to defend themselves. You simply cannot turn a blind eye to some of things you hear about. Attacks/rapes, etc. You would be stupid to believe that it wouldn’t happen near you/to you or someone you love. But as the clubs motto says: “It’s better to self defence and not need it, than to need it and not know it.

The class is run by an instructor (Renshi) called Aaron, and has immense experience with both juniors and seniors.

The juniors, the class L is in simply love him. He makes the class fun while managing to teach them and keeping them interested. The class has a very healthy mixture of both boys and girls; they work and practise on each other.

I simply cannot find a negative thing to write about it. I’m proud that L is learning and almost able to defend herself and is getting more confident with each passing week.

She is currently working towards being graded, where if she passes she will be upgraded to a yellow belt. She’s not quite ready yet, but she’s getting there.

…..And the best bit? I get an hour to sit by myself – no kids or distractions with peace and quiet so I can draft my blogs/read or just sit listening to the instructions being called out through the doors of the Dojo.

L's Club Membership card

L’s Club Membership card

I’ll keep you updated about L’s progress with her grading, (and if she actually sticks to it). I really hope she does.

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I would like to thank Aaron of A.S Jujitsu for firstly allowing me to post photos and for approving the draft of this post. I would say that I have only lightly touched on this subject; my knowledge, as I have said, is very limited. I hope to be able to expand further in time, there is so much more to it. Should you wish to gain any further information, I would recommend that you contact AS Jujitsu on asjujitsu@yahoo.co.uk .

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*do·jo – a school or practice hall where karate, judo, or other martial arts are taught. Origin: 1940–45;  Japanese

Explaining funerals to a child

I was asked today for my advice on how to explain about death and cremations to a 6 year old.

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Explaining death to a child is always hard, whether you’re referring to a pet, a person on television or a relative. But to a child, death is death. The meaning of death is something they will learn and experience the older they grow.

I am in no way an expert on this subject; I do however have recent personal experience.

My lovely Granddad passed away last year and my eldest daughter L was in the room with me when I received the phone call. I cannot comment on how anyone else would have reacted, but upon receiving the news, I broke down. I couldn’t control it. It was probably quite scary from her point of view. One minute I was happily putting make up on, the next I’m crying my eyes out crouched on the floor; the newly applied mascara running down my face.

I had to explain to L that her Great-Granddad was so very old and had been poorly for a while, and that he had died. I didn’t use the term “passed away” or “gone to heaven”.  I’m not sure why, and thinking back now, I am not even sure that I explained what dying was. I must have assumed that she would know. I feel awful now typing that, but dealing with your own grief kind of takes over I suppose.

L  had experienced the death of a various pets previously (rabbits mostly), and so was aware that the body had always been buried on the garden.

But with Granddad, there was a funeral  and he was being cremated, not buried. So now I had some more explaining to do.

The only way I could think to explain a funeral was to compare it to a wedding. Everyone in the family would get together at a special place similar to a church to say “goodbye”. There would not be any cake, or dancing, no bridemaids, no photographer. There would be a car though, a black one which would carry the coffin.  Once we had said goodbye and talked about Granddad, his body would be cremated, not buried. I explained that his coffin would pass into a massive oven with fire and be burned until all that was left was ash. Then the ash of Granddad’s body would be put into a jar and given to Nanny to bring home.  I think I said something along the lines of “Great-Granddads body is too big to bury in the garden, and at least if he is in the jar he can always be with us.”

I didn’t find it difficult explaining the processes involved. L  sat and seemed very grown-up all of a sudden, and asked me sensible questions. And I like to think that I gave her the answers she wanted without scaring or lying to her.

I would like to say now that L did not attend the funeral/cremation. She was 8 years old at the time, and in my opinion it would have been too much for her.

We didn’t talk about heaven or God. I didn’t want to make it any more complicated. I am aware that those questions will arise one day. But instead I told her that he would always be with us. Whenever we see sun shining through the clouds, L says that Great Granddad is looking down on us and asks me to take a photo. This is something she has come up with herself. This makes me very happy and proud that she seems to have such a mature outlook on this.

Taken during walk to school along the seafront

They were like two peas in a pod. They laughed together, talked about school, The age gap of 80 years did not seem to matter, they kind of met in the middle, and enjoyed talking to each other.

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So, here is how I believe death, funerals and cremations should be explained to a child:

  • Be honest – Don’t lie or make it out to be something it isn’t. There will come a time when they find out for themselves.
  • Try comparing it to an occasion they can relate to. In my experience it was a wedding.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate the matter with information which is irrelevant to their age.
  • Always answer any question they have. Don’t be afraid to talk to a child. Sometimes, they will knock you off your feet with how their innocence and maturity can help your grief.

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I would point out that I am NOT a childcare expert. I am NOT a counsellor specialising in loss/grief.

I am quite simply a Mum.