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Stacy and I have been in a civil partnership since 2008. Civil partnerships were brought in by our government after pressure for equality. They were only open to same sex couples and it wasn’t marriage.

I get asked a lot, why do you want to get married? We already think of you as married!

Here are some key differences between civil partnership, and marriage:

  • Civil partners do not have the same pension rights as married couples. If one civil partner dies, the pension share that the surviving partner receives is often lower and lasts for less time than with married couples.
  • The language of marriage carries a social weight that civil partnership does not. This is a reason why civil partners often refer to their partnerships as ‘marriages’, rather than ‘partnerships’. (We have referred to ourselves as married the whole time – hence peoples confusion that civil partnerships aren’t the same as marriage)
  • Travel restrictions apply to civil partners but not married couples.
  • Separate marriage and civil partnership regulations mean gender and orientation are the deciding factors in what relationships are legally recognised.
  • Civilly partnered people are forced to state their sexuality, ticking a separate box that says ‘civil partnership’ rather than ‘marriage’.
  • Unlike marriages, consummation is not a legal requirement of civil partnerships. Neither is adultery recognised as grounds for dissolution.
  • There is also no requirement for civil partners to take any vows.

 

But really, we just want to be married, to be equal.

Our original wedding day was a big affair paid for by our families as well as ourselves. We were pretty poor at the time, but it was a lovely day, and will always be our wedding day. But we did really want to acknowledge the new wedding day too, and we have booked a ceremony in the Norwich Castle, followed by a reception in a beautiful hall in the countryside, with disco and party afterwards.

There is a lot to work out, such as what do we wear?? White dresses again??

One interesting thing that will happen once we have converted to marriage, is that they will backdate our marriage date to our original civil partnership date. This means that we shall be married right now, in the future 🙂

We have chosen to do this on the date of our original wedding day too, so we keep our anniversary, and it will also be our 10th and 1st anniversary on the same year.

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Modern childhood

After my last post about my children not playing very well, we decided to ban (or in reality, severely  restrict) the TV.

It worked really well! They accepted this new norm very quickly, and began to find other sources of entertainment.

Rosa has started to produce some really lovely drawings. She is using multiple colours, and adding small, cute, details. I love asking her questions about them, and she explains what everything is. They have got to a level where I can’t throw them away, and have begun storing them with the date added on and some of the details she tells me written on also. I am loving this creative side to her.

Charlie began to play more on his DS. Is it inevitable that boys (typical types) will hunt out and be attracted to these things? He used to own a tablet and was always on that until I took it away. He owns a Wii but didn’t play on it very much…likewise with his DS…but now he is always asking to play on it. I have now begun limiting the time he has those things also. It seems I am always having to limit things, to get him to behave or play how I think he should be playing. I am perhaps fighting a losing battle.

The way things currently stand is that after dinner, we will sit down as a family and play a multiplayer game such as Mariokart, or Bomberman, or Rayman Raving Rabbids etc… we all do enjoy this, as even though it is screen based, we are interacting with each other. I get bored very quickly and so end it after about 20 mins or so. Stacy would play for hours if I let her (I don’t! lol) We then read or send them off to play, and he is usually happy enough.  He wants to be on the DS as soon as he gets home from school though. When I say no, he sulks or whines until I give in.

They are on the whole though playing better! I do still find myself fighting them to behave like normal children though. My Mum never had to force me to go and play!!! No one can ever say I didn’t try though, and if it is their choice to waste their childhood not playing, I can’t beat myself up.

Cleo is my experiment baby though. She has never been on a phone or a tablet, and she does not watch any TV. We occasionally put on a Disney DVD, but our days are mostly filled with trips out, clubs, walking, seeing friends, going out for lunch, shopping, walking, swimming, going to see grandparents and so on. There isn’t any time I NEED to put the TV on to babysit her. Our schedule is too full for it! It’s EASY to completely shield her from technology. She does already play better than they did at her age.

Once thing I have noticed is that school expect children to be on the internet. They have internet based home works more often than not, and several log ins for various places where the school monitors their progress. We don’t have a desktop computer, and like I mentioned above, I took away all tablets a while ago. They never go online with me or by themselves and I want to keep it that way. I told the school this, and they were really bemused by my position. I supposed I could let them use my laptop, but I still don’t really want them to. At the moment, they have no interest or knowledge of my laptop or where it can take them…and I can’t help but feel that once the cat is out of the bag, it will just be another thing I end up having to bargain and limit.

I sometimes feel sad, that they are growing up in a world of technology. I truly believe that it is ruining childhood. Not just the children themselves…but the parents too.

I am an Optometrist, and I have lost count how many eye tests I have carried out on children, whilst the parent sits behind on their phone, completely uninterested in what I am doing with their child, or how they are performing. How disconnected and unsettling I find it.

I am not blameless. I am addicted to Facebook. I am on there FAR too much. As soon as we have downtime, I pick up my phone. Stacy is the same. I am aware of my addiction, and how it can effect my relationship and my children and I do make an effort to limit myself. But I often fail in my own ability to self regulate.

I hate Facebook and love it simultaneously. I do wish it didn’t exist. I wish phones didn’t exist. I wish we still only had 4 channels on the TV. I wish we still lived in a time where you picked up a phone and spoke to someone instead of sending them a written message. I can’t leave though. If I did, I would be cutting myself out of a world where everyone else was. They don’t pick up the phone, and me leaving wouldn’t change that.

I met up with a friend I haven’t seen for over a year. I have nothing to tell her, because she knows it all. She read it all on Facebook. She never comments or interacts with me on there, but she was always there, reading, watching.

I watch period dramas, even things from the 90’s, and think how lovely it was to live day to day without the smart phone . But i’m only half watching it really, because every now and then I will be scrolling down another few minutes. Then, when I am watching it again, I laugh at something, and look over to Stacy to share the moment, the laughter, and she is stoney faced, not laughing, because she is looking down and staring at her phone.

Technology zombies. Numb minds. Hypnotised.  Addicted. Cut off from the real world.

Wake. Up.

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My Children don’t play

I have a daily frustration when it comes to my children. They just don’t play. Imagine Andy from Toy Story, immersed in his fantasies with all his favourite toys. Alone in  his room, happy with his own company. This has never happened to my children.

So what do they do with their time? They sit in the lounge and do nothing, or jump around on the sofas, or play fight with each other. They pick up my things and ‘do things’ with them, usually scattering something, or messing it up (such as tangling a skein of yarn)

They will sit and draw/write/colour, but I always find the pens with their lids off afterwards, often on the carpet, often with ink seeping into the carpet. The paper they draw on is always found on the floor anywhere in the house for me to slip on, and then pick up and do something with. I mean even this hold frtrations for me. Charlie draws the same thing over and over, with little detail and little care taken over it. Rosa fills up whole pieces of A4 with letters forming nonsense words with the odd real word thrown in. She doesn’t draw a picture of Mummy, or a princess, or a dog, or anything worthy of putting up on the fridge.

They take sets of things (such as games) and remove them from the set, and throw them about. A domino game will be found all over the house for several days after they have ‘played’ with it. The balls from hungry hippos (when I never actually saw them playing hungry hippos) are all underneath my sofa or in the bottom of toy boxes, or inside other toys. The pieces of Mr Potato head, are anywhere but near Mr Potato heads body, and I have never seen them sit down and play with him. Apply this to every single toy that has pieces.

A lovely wooden sandwich making set which I am desperately trying to keep together in its box is found daily all over the place, yet I have never seen anyone compile an imaginary sandwich.

An ice-cream shop which was played with so nicely on the day it was opened (with me supervising and guiding), is pulled apart within seconds of them going anywhere near it, but no ice-cream shop role play has been observed.

If I send them into the play room, it takes about 10 seconds before someone is crying and coming back to me with that ugly crying face telling me who hurt who doing what.

Their beautiful bedrooms, tailored to their likes and desires are not entered into unless they are sleeping in them. I try and get them to go and play in them, but they refuse. If I force them, all I can hear is arguing, or they sit on the stairs whinging to come back down.

They don’t own tablets, they don’t play on games consoles. I limit the TV they are allowed to watch, and I control what they can watch when I do allow it. It’s not nice enough to go outside at the moment.

I am in despair.

They own toys I owned as a child. My sister and I would get home from school, and disappear upstairs into our bedrooms and play-room and we would have imaginative games of all kinds. We would create whole towns from Lego, using a road mat as a base. We would add in Sylvanian family houses, a river, a barge, a windwill. They would interact with each other. Playmobil was a big favourite,all the pieces were always there, we respected our toys, we put them all back in the box when we were finished. We would put on puppet shows, we would dress up, make a radio show, build a den, pretend we were teachers and play schools. We read books, played Crystal Maze, used Play Doh, Prima dough, made candles and jewellery. We behaved like CHILDREN.

I said to my Mum the other day…’I just don’t know what I have done wrong’. Why don’t they play? I didn’t even know you could do this wrong as a parent. I thought that children innately wanted to play? Can you imagine yourself as a child, knowing there was a room full of toys in the very next room, choosing instead to sit in a living room and do NOTHING. Would you whinge and cry at your mother for food (constantly), pick up her things and ruin them?

They have a massive box of Lego, but lack the imagination to be able to play with it as I did. They require me to sit down and do it with them. In fact this applies to an awful lot of things I suggest they do X, Y, Z and they will only do those things if I am going to do them too.

Charlie has a long list of things he wants for Christmas, all of them toys. I am genuinely perplexed how a child who doesn’t play, has a list of toys he wants. I have asked him why he wants toys? I have told him Father Christmas will prioritise his list for children who he knows actually do play with their toys.

Now here is something interesting. One day a week, Charlie goes off to Beavers for the evening. And there have been other occasions where he has been on a play date with friends at their houses and it has left the girls on their own in our house. It’s a completely different situation. They do play. Without him there ‘ruining’ things, they begin to interact and set something up.

During the school day when it is just me and Cleo, she will potter off into the play room and will play with her things quite happily, not requiring much input from me at all. She comes back to me every so often with a book she would like me to read etc..  She loves to do a jigsaw, she loves to play with dolls, dressing them and feeding them.

As soon as the big kids are home from school she enters into the strange behaviour of not doing anything. She joins them in the hanging around the living room whinging sessions.

I’m not really sure where I am going with this. But it makes me very unhappy. I feel like they are wasting their childhood right now. My Mum never played with us, we didn’t need her to. I believe I give the same level of interaction as she did. I also think Charlie is the root of the problem, but not sure how I can change things.

Talking to friends, it seems I am not the only one suffering this problem. It seems to be a modern child thing. I wish I was bringing them up in the 90’s.

I do welcome any advice.

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Center Parcs 2016

We had our annual trip to this wonderful place last weekend, and timed it to coincide with mine and Cleo’s birthdays.

We had beautiful weather and a truely wonderful time.

On our first evening there, Stacy and I discussed Rosa. Rosa, our 2nd, our middle child. It is true about middle children. They get lost in life. Charlie is the trail blazer, always doing something new. He keeps my attention for this reason, but also because he never shuts up.

Cleo is the baby, she requires lots of my time for obvious reasons, she is very cuddly and gravitates towards both me and Stacy when we are around.

Rosa. She is very independent, and often disappears off into her make believe world of her own. She chats to herself and to her toys and is very little bother.  She does have an annoying tendency to whinge and whine though, and so when I do interact with her, it is quite often to tell her to stop whining or similar etc… I felt that we had drifted a little emotionally and I really felt the need to reconnect with her.

Stacy and I both made a conscious effort to talk to her, ask her questions, give her tasks to do, praise her for sweet behaviour (she can be quite horrid to Cleo) and lots of physical affection also was bestowed upon her. By the end of the weekend she was on top of the world. The effect was instant and remarkable. She didn’t whinge and she was much nicer to Cleo and us. Now that I have made the realisation she was getting a little ‘lost’ within the family structure we shall continue to make the effort to single her out and make her feel special.

On the first day we swam until 8pm at night. Considering my children go to bed at 7pm usually, this was pretty exciting for them. It was dark in side the pool (it’s a large glass domed building) and there are flumes and rapids that go outside into the open air. They have lots of atmospheric blue lighting and Charlie thought it was awesome!

On Saturday, we began our day with a bike ride around the whole perimeter of the park. It was a very long way! We finished that with a lovely lunch out at Bella Italia and then went back to our lodge for a nap (Mummy joined in with nap time, which was bloody awesome) then we repeated the excitement of the previous day and had a night time swim! We even managed to go to the children’s disco to finish off our day.

On Sunday we had a very chilled morning staying in the lodge and playing games. Then we had a swim and had lunch inside the swimming pool. We stayed in the pool for about 5 hours! We were all very pruney!! The we spent a couple of hours in the adventure outside playground. Then we headed down to the beach by the lake as the sun was setting and played on the sand and in the little stream. We finished off with a mini bike ride. They were absolutely SHATTERED at the end of this day. I put Cleo down to sleep in her cot, turned to kiss the other two goodnight and by the time I turned around to leave the room she was soundo! Stacy and I had Indian take-away once they were asleep and it was goooooood.

Monday was our last day and we spent the morning doing a bike ride out to a bird hide. We sat and watched the birds come to the feeders nearby and we were told by other people in the hide that we saw some rare birds (I’ll take their word for it). We then had a picnic lunch before heading to the pool one more time.

I think we have decided to go again in Jan/Feb time. Why not? We can afford it and we have such a wonderful time there.

 

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In September I started working on Tuesdays and Cleo began a day at nursery. The nursery we chose is at the hospital where Stacy works. In fact, it is so close, Stacy can see the outdoor area from her desk. We liked that one of us would be so very close to her, should she need us.

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The older two children get picked up from school by a child minder. I finish work early at 4pm and am picking them up by about 4.30pm most weeks.

Today was a lovely, sunny, fresh autumn afternoon and we decided to go for a bike ride! It was really nice not to have Cleo with us and do some ‘big kid’ stuff. We rode around the country park, stopping in places to play with sticks or leaves or run in and out of the trees.

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Rosa has got very good on her bike now and rides confidently without stabilisers. It means we can go really off road and across bumpy terrain. Because their bikes have no gears, it does make it hard for them to do hills or slopes, but it’s easy enough to hop off and walk for small sections.

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I was totally knackered by the end of the ride, and we were back in time to start dinner before Stacy and Cleo came home too!

I must make the effort to connect on this basic level more often. It’s far too easy to get home from work and just start doing the mundane chores of life.

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So Rosa Started School

One of my massive missing blog posts is Rosa starting school. She was very excited over the summer to start and enjoyed picking out her uniform, bag, coat, shoes and water bottle.

They did an extended phased entry where by in the first week, she only went in for 3 hours. The second week she did 3 hours and lunch, and the third week, she was finally full time.

She has settled in very quickly to school life, but she does come home absolutely exhausted. It’s all she can do to flop on the sofa and watch the TV. Sometimes she even falls asleep for a bit. This is ok with me. I remember as a kid, needing serious down time. It was only as I got a bit older than evenings opened up again for me.

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She has already make some lovely little friendships and is invited over other peoples houses at least once a week. Strangely, she finds energy for these she doesn’t have at home?? Charlie seeks her out at lunchtime and they play together. He told me yesterday that ‘everyone loves Rosa’ and that they all think she is ‘cute’.

We go to a ballet class after school on a Wednesday, and this week she starts her swimming lessons again, so I hope the energy comes back to her soon!

She has already learnt all of her phonics and they have begun to teach her blending. She loves to cover pages of A4 in letters, and this week, the words she has been forming have been real words….cat and bat and mat.

But just as an example of how strong willed my daughter is, here is a conversation we had:

Rosa: How do you spell Mummy?
Me: M, U, M, M…
Rosa: Ugh! Another M, I’ve already written two of those… *draws a star instead*…. next letter please.
Me: Y.

Mum🌟y it is then!

 

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Our new house

We finally moved into our new house at the end of August. We were quoted silly money for professionals to move us, so we ended up doing it ourselves with a ‘Man with a Van’ to move our big items. It cost us £200 instead of £1,2oo but it was a LOT of work!

My Mum and Dad brought their caravan up and helped us. My Dad did loads of the physical stuff and my Mum was amazing at entertaining the children whilst we got on with stuff.

On the day we moved, my cousin who lives in Australia turned up and asked to stay. He stayed for the first week we lived there and he was really really useful! He built beds, and climbing frames and patio tables and did pretty much anything we asked of him. He is touring around Europe on a motorbike for a year and so he said it was nice to ground for a bit and feel useful. When it left, it felt weird not to have him around. The spare room will forever be referred to as ‘Andrew’s room’ haha

The house itself has been really well built and there have been no major snags. The turf in the garden is absolutely amazing, and I keep having to mow it every 6 days to keep it manageable!

My Dad and Stacy built the chickens a new 5 star coop.

I have mostly indulged myself and bought new stuff everywhere. We have got a new superking size bed, new sofa, new bedding, curtains, light fittings, fridge, furniture, bedroom suite, TV, rugs, desks, shelves…..I really went a bit mad and let myself have everything I wanted straight away. It’s left us with a significant amount of debt on credit cards, but we are sensible people have have worked out how to get it paid off before the interest free period ends (and I have a whole house full of beautiful new things!)

The first few minutes of living in our new house:

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Charlie ‘helping’ lay the carpet underlay

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My sister and brother helped paint Rosa’s room PINK!

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We camped in the house the first night as beds hadn’t been moved yet, and carpets weren’t finished but no one wanted to go and sleep in the old house again!
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I’ll do another post with all the rooms finished. I am still doing a mural on Cleo’s walls, and there are still boxes to unpack a month later…

So far living here has transformed our lives. I can’t express how much some extra space is so meaningful.

The children have a play room, so all the toys that were once in the lounge are now in there, leaving my lounge a haven of tidyness and cleanness. They occasionally bring the odd toy into the lounge, and I tolerate it a little, but make them put them back when they are finished!

I have a study. All my craft projects that used to lay around the lounge are now all living in there. All  my wool craft, my stamps, my foam supplies, the printer, and everything else that I accumulate is all behind a door that can be closed, again freeing up the lounge from mess.

I have a utility room, so all my dyeing that I used to to in the kitchen now has it’s own space. All the washing that used to hang around the kitchen in baskets can be put out of the way. When it is finished and needs hanging up, I have a spare room with airers and an iron layed out. No more moving around the drying washing to get to things. (It used to frequently be in the hallway or dining room and used to drive me CRAZY).

The children all have a room each. They were all sharing the same room before, and the older two have found it impossible to adjust to. Rosa has a double bed, and Charlie has bunk beds, and pretty much every night when we go to check on them, they are sleeping in the same bed as each other. It’s pretty cute, and I am fine with it.

My kitchen is huge in comparison to what I had before. There is cupboard space for everything and surface space for prep and serving. I used to serve food on the draining board or on the cooking gas rings. There is a table in the kitchen for breakfast and it makes for a nice family atmosphere having it there.

Our driveway has space for 3 cars! Amazing when we only had space for 1 before and had other cars on the road or in imaginative places.

The garden backs onto trees and it is just lovely. So peaceful and full of wildlife.

We have nice neighbours, everyone moved in on the same day, so we were all very open and chatty with each other.

I think we are going to be very happy here 🙂

 

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