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Stuck for a Christmas gift….🎄📚

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Stuck for a present to buy someone for Christmas…?? 🎄🎁🎄
Want to give something unique,  personal, inexpensive, within budget, value for money…..something which can give that special someone a release, a story, an adventure, magic, mystery, truth, history or fiction…then for goodness sake go shopping in a book shop. 📚📖📚📖📚
Any book shop, whether it be a large wealthy chain or a small independent bookseller, it doesn’t matter. 📚📖📚📖📚
The gift of a book is something which everyone should receive.

Happy book shopping peeps.

Xx

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Monday morning banking chores all done

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So on a hot Monday morning after I had dragged the kids around the various banks, queueing up in the heat, paying in money and paying bills;  I treated them to a milkshake in “Pop-pins” a 50s style cafe and ice cream parlour, Connaught Avenue, Frinton, Essex. (www.poppinsparlour.co.uk )
They loved it and the milkshakes were delicious 😋.

Hello stranger…

It’s been a while since I posted anything. What can I say it’s been a whirlwind in our house in the last few months. My day to day life seems to have gotten so busy, finding the time and sometimes having the energy to have a shower is a miracle, let alone to sit down and write anything.

Christmas has well and truly been packed away. The tree went back in its falling-to-bits box (We don’t have a real one – maybe one day); the fairy lights put away all nice, tidy and not tangled up although, I am sure the un-Christmas fairy gets top marks for sneaking in during the year and undoing all my good work, tying them in complete knots and therefore putting me in a foul mood when that time of year comes around again; the left over wrapping paper has been put away ready to re-use for next time, but I can never remember where I put it so somewhere in my house I have at least three years worth of Christmas wrapping paper; the Christmas chocolates has nearly all been eaten; credit card bill has been received; the mountain of rubbish bags have been collected; the Christmas booze has been drunk, nearly.

We are now on day one of the second week back at school/work. The first week was a long one. Hearing that alarm clock go off on the Monday morning was quite possibly the worst noise in the entire world. My muddled and groggy brain simply could not function. I was convinced that I had got the days mixed up. Unfortunately it was when the Husband stomped into the bedroom, dripping from his shower and spraying his deodorant, that I realised just how wrong I was. It was 5.35am and time to get up, throw on some frankly disturbing clothes – good job it’s dark – and drive Husband to catch his 6.03 train.
Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee the voices in my head were hollering. I would need it by the bucketful today!

I usually creep around to get myself dressed once I am back to avoid waking up the rugrats. You simply do not realise just how noisy you can be when putting on foundation and eyeliner! There is nothing worse than trying to make myself resemble anything other than human when there are 3 children; grumpy, hungry, ratty, loud, arguing, demanding, whining, zombie-like children around. That was not the case on this morning however. After two weeks of not having to get up early and going to bed a bit-too-late, they were well and truly still on school christmas holiday mode. They were not getting up. No sooner had I pulled the various duvets from them and turned around, they had pulled it back again. Oh lordy it was a struggle.
I begged, played along, moaned, shouted, bribed, tickled, I did everything, short of dragging them by their hair, they were NOT getting up. In the end it was the (empty) threat of all their new Christmas toys being put in the bin that got them out of bed.

I can only assume that every parent had the same struggle I encountered on that first school morning of 2014.

But….on this, the second school week of the year, you would not think that I had the same 3 children in my house. All 3 were up and causing havoc just after 6am today.

Girl did good…

L with her new and well deserved yellow belt and certificate

L with her new and well deserved yellow belt and certificate

You may remember my post about eldest L learning Jujitsu a while ago. Well I am over the moon to say that last weekend L undertook her first “grading” (to non Jujitsu folk, much like myself, this is the term used when the individual displays their knowledge of the moves they have learnt – much like an exam.) L is now a yellow belt is she is very proud of herself and quite rightly so.

Since my last post she has increased her weekly classes from 1 to 2. She attended very nearly all her classes throughout the summer holidays. And not once has she shown any lack of enthusiasm or boredom. Not once has she had to be encouraged, nagged or talked into going. It’s clear that she absolutely loves it.

Myself and others have started noticing a real change in L. Physically she looking great. Is it wrong for a 33 year old to be jealous of a 9 year olds muscles?? The definition in her arms and legs are discreet but enviable. She is even starting to show signs of a mini six-pack! Jealous much?!? Oh yes big time!

Her confidence and self-assurance is growing in bundles. This is very welcoming.  She has always been sensitive and worried about others think to the point where it irritates me immensely. But I am seeing this bubble grow around her. She is growing to like herself and  to enjoy  what she is doing without constantly worrying about pleasing others and what they think. She even carries herself in a different way. She has even offered to “look after me” if trouble started at the local fair!

I still cannot see any downside to this hobby/sport/martial art. So much so that my middle child, T will be starting the TOTS sessions (4-7 year olds) when they begin in a little over 2 weeks. She is over the moon. She has been intrigued ever since L began going, and seems to love the fact that she will be doing the same as her big sister. She has been with me to watch a session and doesn’t seem put off. She has even asked me when I will be buying her a “suit” of her own. (Suit = GI). Personally I think that Renshi (*) is mad! T has the energy of a nuclear powerplant on overload, is a complete Little Miss Chatterbox with not much in the way of physical prowess . But hats off to the man – rather him than me!

L is also looking forward to T starting and has been giving her some verbal coaching. “You must listen to Renshi.” “You must not chat when he is talking.” “You have to listen and try really hard to do what he shows you.”  L has even shown and tried teaching T the basic break-falls which, I believe is one of the basic first things taught. It’s hilarious. I think L likes the fact her little sister is following in her footsteps. And so do I. Who knows maybe in two years time G, my youngest, could sign up too. I could have my own little Jujitsu clan who can look after their old mum!

I’ve even considered joining myself (Please pick yourself off the floor and stop laughing…!)I have approached Renshi about if I would be able to join. Although he said yes with no hesitation, I am worried that after three children and not too much (any!) exercise I may be too wobbly. So watch this space.

So I end this post on a very happy note. I am big time, excessively proud of L, of her achievements, her hard work, effort and enthusiasm.

And  still hold a HUGE big thumbs up children learning Jujitsu or any sport for that matter. Encourage, don’t push. but GO FOR IT!

 ……………………….

* Definition of the title of Renshi

 (Special thanks to Renshi Aaron Stevens 4th Dan of A.S Jujitsu for the following text, and for providing me with much assistance.)

The title signifies that you are a polished, expert instructor, who have devoted themselves to the powerful transformational effects that martial arts have, when taught properly and with upmost care. It is not necessarily associated with rank like most people commonly perceive. It’s about a person’s ability to teach and share knowledge to those students under their care. Because it takes many, many years to become an expert (in any field of study), spending an average of 10,000 hours practicing the craft, normally only high ranking black belts receive this statute.

There are today ten Dan levels and three Samurai titles that can be awarded in Kosho Ryu Kempo & jui Jitsu in our United Martial Arts Academies. The tenDan levels are awarded in the following order starting from the lowest rank,Sho Dan (1st Dan) and going to the highest rank Ju Dan (10th Dan) :

 

  • Sho Dan or 1st Dan – at this rank no formal samurai title is awarded.
  •  Ni Dan or 2nd Dan – at this rank no formal samurai title is awarded.
  •  San Dan or 3rd Dan – at this rank no formal samurai title is awarded.
  •  Yon Dan or 4th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Renshi may be awarded.
  •  Go Dan or 5th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Renshi may be awarded.
  •  Rokku Dan or 6th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Renshi may be awarded.
  •  Schichi Dan or 7th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Kyoshi may be awarded.
  •  Hachi Dan or 8th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Kyoshi may be awarded.
  •  Ku Dan or 9th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Hanshi may be awarded.
  •  Ju Dan or 10th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Hanshi may be awarded.

 

The three Samurai titles hold the following meanings :

 RENSHI : “A person who has mastered oneself”.

This person is considered an expert instructor. Renshi are no longer one of the many and is usually given at Yo Dan (4th Dan) or Go Dan (5th Dan). It is not unusual for a Renshi to have over 20 years of training before this title is ever conferred upon them.

 KYOSHI : “Knowledgeable person”.

Usually this title is conferred at Roku Dan (6th Dan) or Shichi Dan (7th Dan). It is not unusual for a Kyoshi to have over 30 years of training  before this title is ever conferred upon them.

 HANSHI : “Root Waterer Master”.

A title given to the oldest and most senior black belt, usually the head of an individual karate organization, someone who has studied the art of karate for most of their lifetime. This rank signifies their true understanding of the art. It is not uncommon for a Hanshi to have over 40-50 years of training before this title is ever conferred upon them.

Thumbs up to Summer 2013

The school holidays are officially over *sad face* and we are now fully back to routine and alarm clocks, packed lunches, school uniform, after school clubs, school run morning rush, “have you remembered your *insert required object here*?”, early morning squabbles. You know the usual things. The things that can easily be forgotten when the holiday switch is turned ON.

But turning the holiday switch to OFF is much harder especially when the summer holidays have been so completely lovely.

It went too quickly, way too quickly – as good times always do. We haven’t had an actual “holiday” this year. I’m talking about a real abroad packing suitcases type of holiday. A spending numerous weeks getting prepared, writing lists, organising pet care, sorting out passports, foreign currency, travellers cheques, buying new clothes, sun-cream, washing, ironing, supervising the hand luggage packing, is transport/transfer booked, leaving travel details with relatives, arguing about which entertainment products the kids can take, sorting out the chargers for the phones, does the mobile work abroad?, having the “how many pairs of shoes do you need?” conversation with the Husband, (and that’s all before we’ve even left the house) type of holiday.

Kids and Husband playing Lego

Kids and Husband playing Lego

No, we’ve had a holiday at home this year. And what a fabulous holiday. Scorching gorgeous sunburny temperatures, almost every day. A summer filled with days in the garden using the paddling pool (and probably doubling our water bills – sorry Husband), crabbing down at the back-waters (not necessarily my cup of tea, but the kids loved it!), beach trips (we are very lucky to live 2 minutes from the beach, but it hasn’t stopped me lusting after a beach hut *note to self must win the lottery*), picnics in the garden/park, visits to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary (fabulous fabulous fabulous) more picnics and sun there, Lego playing (still undecided on whether finding the big box of Lego was actually a good idea – it hurts when you stand on it – but thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone (Husband, 20 year old s/son, L – 9y/o, T – 4 y/o and G – 2y/o) sitting around on the lounge floor building Lego houses – no telly just background music and conversation).

We even went across the Channel and spent an utterly fabulous day in Le Touquet, France. This required Yours Truly to be very brave – we went via ferry from Dover to Calais – I DON’T DO boats, of any kind;  I get seasick and have a real fear of the sea. I put this to one side however, so that the kids could experience it. They loved it and although I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, I am glad I did it.

Kids bundled in car on way to ferry in Pjs

Kids bundled in car on way to ferry in Pjs

Beach at Le Touquet, France

Beach at Le Touquet, France

Husband and Kids - Le Touquet

Husband and Kids – Le Touquet

We had an early start; leaving our house at 3am to catch the 6.40am ferry from Dover. The kids found being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and bundled into the car still wearing their PJs very exciting. Did they fall back to sleep? Erm, a big fat NO on that one. In fact it was chat chat chat all the way to the boat. Did I mind? Not in the slightest, I had a flask of very strong coffee to hand. And I’m pleased to report that I survived the ferry crossing.

Our day in Le Touquet was absolutely deliciously lovely and re-ignited my love of France. So much so in fact that at home 24 hours later I was looking, more accurately dreaming (another lottery win needed) of buying a house there.

We’ve also done the obligatory holiday activities: Cinema – Smurfs 2 (numb bums, over expensive popcorn/fizzy drinks and of course a trip to the toilet right at the good bit of the film), Pizza Hut lunches, shopping trips, taking L to get her ears pierced, staying up late, visits to Colchester Zoo which include face painting, attending the Great Bentley village fete – more face painting, tombola, raffles and donkey rides.

L's ears very newly pierced

L’s ears very newly pierced

Face painting at Great Bentley village fair

Face painting at Great Bentley village fete

Donkey rides at Great Bentley village fete

Donkey rides at Great Bentley village fete

The kids and I also had an unexpected “sleep-over” at my Parent’s house. We drove to Southend for the day while Husband and S/son went to a rugby match (was my nose put out of joint at this? Yes, very much so, but that’s for another day). So it was Saturday 24th August and the heavens opened. It was very possibly the worst rain that Southend and a majority of the South East has seen in many years. It became obvious mid-afternoon that we would be unable to come home. Road after road in and around Southend were being closed. The thought of going out in the car with the kids, not much petrol or any supplies did not appeal to me, so we bunked down for the night. The kids shared the spare double and me on a makeshift bed on the floor. It was good though despite not having come “prepared” and it dawned on me that actually I don’t need to carry with me things I would have previously deemed essential.

It also was lovely for me to almost revert back to being a daughter; kissing my dad goodnight for example. It made me realise how much I miss doing that.

So a good summer all round in my mad-house. Roll on summer 2014….(please repeat the sunshine!)

Me and kids at Colchester Zoo

Me and kids at Colchester Zoo

Fun at the Owl Sanctuary

Fun at the Owl Sanctuary

Painting in the garden

Painting in the garden

Fun at the beach

Fun at the beach

Kids posing with giant Meerkat at Colchester Zoo

Kids posing with giant Meerkat at Colchester Zoo

Welcome home Gorgeous!

So my eldest daughter, L, has been , and since returned from a holiday with her Dad. You may recall I posted about this a while back “holidays during term-time” and I can now sit back and honestly say that I feel as if a weight has been lifted. Normal service has since ressumed.

For the past few weeks, the situation had been hanging subconsciously over me like a stubborn cobweb in the corner of my head. I don’t like being apart from my children, any of them, for any longer than a school day. (Am I weird? I must be!) I hate that they are with someone else. Call me a control freak, but I like to know what my children are doing, where they are and that they are happy and safe. They will hate me when they are teenagers. I may just microchip them – Is that allowed?

I tried not to dwell over it, but it bothered me and niggled away; eventually the day came when I had to say my goodbye to L and watch her go off. I was happy and relieved  that she was excited, but I still could not shake that dull nervous feeling I had. It was the ‘what if’s’ that bothered me. You know the…..What if she is ill? What if she gets lost? What if she gets upset? What if…….

In the end I had to accept that she was gone for two weeks and that I had two other rugrats that still needed me, so I looked for the positives of only having two children for a short while:

  • No school runs to do each day – so it was almost like a holiday for me. (Although T still has preschool three mornings each week)
  • No having to make a packed lunch for two weeks
  • No clothes/shoes being dumped and left around
  • No Disney channel shows – we can stick to good old CBeebies
  • No arguing/begging/pleading for her to GET UP and OUT OF BED every day!!
  • No backchat
  • No begging to stay up later – as a result bedtime was done and over with by half 7 each night!
  • No fussy eating habits at the table

It seemed odd only having two children. I was not restricted by the clock and “school-run” time, When we went shopping, during the day, I felt as if I was doing something wrong. I didn’t have my mini-me with me. I almost felt as if I were playing truant. I know that sounds ridiculous, even the Husband said I was mad.

I actually missed the school-run. I missed seeing my friends each morning for a moan and a gossip. I felt as if I were missing out on things. It’s funny how a simple thing can become such a large part of your daily life.

I pined over making the packed lunches. Day-to-day, as a chore, I loathe it. But take it away and I suddenly have this empty period of time which I didn’t know what to do with. Hands up I’m a routine kinda-gal, especially since having children. But a change in that routine, in any way (unless its driven my yours truly) completely throws me out!

The first week went quite slowly and seemed to drag on and on and on. It felt as if the impending second week would do just the same. However, after various trips to the Doctors (T had a chest infection) and learning to relax and play with just two children, the second week was over, and before I knew it I was opening the door to my smiling, grown ever so slightly, browner, blonder and happy L.

Welcome home gorgeous….now get your backside back to school!!

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.