Monday, July 31, 2006

Brodsworth Hall

On Sunday we went for a picnic at Brodsworth Hall - one of my two favourite English Heritage properties. Built mid 19th century (I think?), it was owned by private family until fairly recently, and was falling into disrepair until EH stepped in. The gardens are beautiful, and the house is probably unique to visit! Because it was a 'lived in' home for so long - there are incredible 'updates' done to the house (my favourite being a proper Crapper loo with 1950's pink walls!) The gardens are also being 'redone' and are gorgeous. Anyway, it was the first time I'd visited since I'd had Ellie - and whilst I love the house I was unsure how she would find it. There were several 'child friendly' touches, but Ellie's favourite was a wooden horse.

Apparently it was Paul's favourite too!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Friends and Friendships (and Weddings and Children too)

Yesterday I was at the wedding of an old schoolfriend. I'll not dwell on what a lovely ceremony it was, or what a lovely location, or how it reminded me of my own wedding (even though they are all very much true). Or even how we won the table top quiz during the wedding breakfast (two sections - one on the bride and groom and the other on general knowledge- with points awarded for the correct, or most amusing, answers).

It was wonderful to meet up with my old schoolfriends who were once so close but whom I now rarely see (rapidly moving towards the old cliche of weddings and funerals - well, just one funeral so far but that's one too many). That the old 'gang' is now 5 rather than 6 gave a poignancy to our meeting, but sad feelings didn't last long at such a happy occasion.

Our lives have changed so much since school - then we shared experiences of going to see gigs, going to clubs, joys and traumas of first relationships, what were we going to be 'when we grew up'. Now - on the whole - we are settled with partners, with careers, with children. In many ways we are very different from who we were. Yet, once we'd caught up on lifechanges, the years just fell away. Conversation flowed, topics came and went, reminiscences and plans for the future were shared. There was no competition about whose house was biggest, who earnt more, whose children were brightest. We just were, together as friends. I really wish I saw them all more often. But it doesn't matter that I don't. They will still be my friends when next we meet.

On a related note, Stuntmother has posted about why she believes children should be included in weddings. The bride and groom had taken the decision to only invite children who were related to them. I can't disagree with this decision, as I did exactly the same at my wedding, yet I will admit to being sad that I would have to leave Ellie and that she would not be able to share the occasion. Yet when I got there I felt quite differently. Meeting up with my old schoolfriends was such a chance to be myself; to remember that I had my own life before being a mother, that I still do have a life separate to my child (and work). Of course I talked about Ellie, of course I showed pictures of her. Not having Ellie there, competing for my attention and needing her needs to be put first, meant that I could immerse myself in the event and in conversations with friends. I needed that. I needed time to be me.

It was the first night I've ever spent away from her. My mother and sister came over to look after her. She was fine (of course). I'd looked forward to not being woken at 5am - particularly since it is my birthday today! But of course old habits die hard and I awoke even without her. I appreciate her even more for being separated for a little while - and I will give her a very big hug at 5am tomorrow.

PS. Sorry this post is a little disjointed - it was a very merry wedding by the end!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Unfinished Statement of Needs

I saw over on Glingle's blog a meme whereby you create a statement of your needs by Googling your name and the word needs and then display the most interesting results. I tried to resist it, but the social worker in me could not (it's a technical thing!). However, the three entries all related to a ecological kids song about Lisa the Lemur (you can see one of them here). It even plays the tune for you if you want.

Anyway, I got distracted following the link, and have lost the google page. Maybe one day when I'm less busy and tired I'll retry! Or maybe I'll just use the energy on teaching Ellie the song - it's so cool to have a song with your name! (even if it is really about a lemur!)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Changing Shape

I was starting to feel differently about my shape. Last week I re-started going to the gym (after a 3 year break). As my wise husband predicted, just going and getting a programme sorted out has started to make me feel better about myself. Like most people, whilst I am grateful and appreciate that my body functions perfectly, I wish that it did so in a more stylish and slender way! When I look back at photos of my younger self, part of me regrets that my self image then was unreasonably negative and that I did not appreciate the positives of the body I had, whilst an even stronger part of me is frustrated that I now look fatter and flabbier than I did then. Still, I know that regularly going to the gym will slowly change my body in a positive way - so I recognised that it's a slow process but it's worth putting in that effort.

Then, on Stuntmother's blog, I found a link to this site. And overnight it changed the way I feel about myself and my shape. Oh, I'll still continue to go to the gym, to become slimmer, fitter and healthier - but now I no longer feel the need to perform strange contortions to get showered/changed without showing an inch of flesh. I have realised that I have two physical reminders of getting pregnant and giving birth, and fortuntately only one of them throws tantrums!

Much too much

Yesterday, I was trying to 'quickly' set up broadband (which worked Ok, but the webmail really didn't leaving us with no sending email). In the midst of this unresolved and quite stressful situation the gas/electricity man came to read the meter. Then I realised that we (but particularly Ellie) needed lunch so started to make very simple beans on toast. And in the midst of this the phone rang, an important call about arranging a visit to take forward being respite foster carers. And with all this going on, Ellie walked into the kitchen, lifted up her skirt and wee-ed on the kitchen floot (not tiles, not lino, CARPET!) then walked out again.

I started to look around for a suitable corner to either scream, cry or gibber (or maybe all three).

Then Ellie reappeared, with a tiny, moist wetwipe, and tried to clean up her puddle.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh! (and give your child a cuddle)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Three Wishes

Today, I went to my god daughter’s christening (Emma this time, not Maisy – that was last month!). On the buffet table, there was a box with some paper slips so that everyone could write their 3 wishes for Emma. When they were read out, there was a lovely mixture of ‘traditional’ (variations on wealth, health and happiness) some more emotional ones, and a few relating to current events (world cup in particular). The intention is to keep them so that Emma can read them when she gets older.

Paul commented that he dislikes it when this kind of thing is ‘sprung’ on you – purely on the basis that he wants more time to prepare (he has such a competitive/perfectionist streak!). So, assuming that at some point we get round to Ellie being christened - you have been warned!

Friday, July 14, 2006


Driving out of York today, I noticed at some traffic lights that my route was headed ‘Local Traffic’ and it made me think about when you actually become ‘a local’.

Having lived in York now for half my life, and owning a house here, I usually confidently say that I’m from York when someone asks. I’ve finally shrugged off the need to say “Well, I was from x, but now I live in York”. I certainly didn’t feel I could just say “I’m from York” when I first came to study here, and still felt rather a fraud if I did say it for years afterwards. I still didn’t have that mental sense of ‘localness’ even after buying my first home or having wide social and work networks.

I’m not sure when the mental change occurred or what caused it; the length of time I’ve lived here; having a daughter who can only be described as ‘a local’; finally being able to get myself everywhere I need without a map; or maybe having so many of my memories tied to places here?

Anyway, as I headed straight across the lights, I had a sense of contented settled belongingness. I'm sure that there are deeper thoughts to be had, about how my sense of belonging, and self identity, interconnect but at the moment, I'll just focus on the contentment. (*It's been a busy few weeks... and good feelings should be treasured. Especially when they come in unexpected places like road markings!)