we wrote an Easter poem

The thing about school and nursery is that they can steal your thunder a bit. Like with all of the Easter crafting stuff. You spend an age pinning ideas on to Pinterest of things to make and do with your little bunnies and when it comes to basket-weaving time, they’re all like “Yeah, already done that, so can you just fill it with loads of eggs please? Oh and hey – MAKE ‘EM CHOCOLATE!!”

Okay, so things haven’t reached quite that stage. But still – Easter baskets, Easter bonnets, Easter chicks made from egg cartons – they’d done it all before I even got a look-in.

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So I was quietly pleased this morning to present them with a bunny-themed breakfast – admittedly, it was made up of scraps that I wanted to use up before we go away and, as such, not particularly virtuous in unprocessed food terms: there’s some definite salami and bread making an appearance there, as well as the omelette, tomato, olives and cucumber – but hey, they enjoyed it (although one of them did comment on the lack of fluffy tail .. grrr .. what, you want me to give you some of the mould-fluff from the out-of-date cheese for breakfast do you? DO YOU??!!)

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And then we turned our hands to a spot of poetry. Acrostic poetry none the less. About – no, go on, you’ll never guess – Easter!!

So here’s the result. I love this poem, not only because my children wrote it, but because of the random realism of the fourth line, sandwiched between all of the idyllic tweeness. Too funny!

Eggs wrapped in shiny paper

Animals with their young

Sun is shining, sky is blue

Teeth go rotten from so much chocolate

Emerald grass, golden daffodils

Rabbits hop among them

Hope everyone has a very happy, tooth-decay-free Easter!

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It’s all Good

Nope, I haven’t been perusing the new Gwyneth Paltrow book. It’s just that today is good, Good Friday, to be exact.

Which means no school, and consequently no nagging this morning; kids loafing about in PJs eating fresh berries and pancakes (made with Dove’s Farm gluten free flour because, like Calgary Avansino in last weekend’s Sunday Times Style, in article that referenced – positively -Gywnnie’s approaches to feeding her family, I’m not fanatical about what my children eat but try to balance out inevitable gluttony – well, it’s Easter, isn’t it – with some less toxic choices) until their sparkling insides were so far at odds with the slatternliness of their exteriors that I had to chase them upstairs and into clean(ish) clothes.

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Next, there was the joy of opening yesterday’s post. Not a bill to be seen but instead, the my-wardrobe SS13 Style Guide and best of all, a lovely, heart-warming card from my friend Rachel with some adorable Mibo paper animals for my children to create.

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And the sun is shining! What an auspicious start to the holidays. I’m off out for a run to soak  it up while it lasts – admittedly, I am running to Ayres the Bakers to pick up Hot Cross Buns for our Easter lunch and egg hunt with friends this afternoon. But like I said, it’s Easter. Gluttony is inevitable. And for grain-free me? Would you believe that the lovely, thoughtful people at my local Budgens saved me the last Inspiral raw chocolate egg? I heart them.

Really better go for that run though….

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Not about to buy 2 for 1 supermarket Hot Cross Buns when Ayres are cranking out babies like these!

Not about to buy 2 for 1 supermarket Hot Cross Buns when Ayres are cranking out babies like these!

I bought a random-brand, low-cost night cream

I mean, who knows whether it will do any good. But if it doesn’t, at least I haven’t had to remortgage the house, or sell my daughter’s long, glossy hair (or soul) to acquire it.

If you’ve read this blog before, you may know that my husband’s track record, when it comes to buying gifts on his way home from overseas work trips, falls rather short of brilliant. So – “Can you get me some Creme de la Mer?” I jokingly texted, as he broke his journey home from New Zealand yesterday.

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I half expected Creme de Menthe, which, to be perfectly honest, after a few weeks of virtual sole-parenting, I’d’ve probably not turned my nose up at. 24% ABV, sure, why not?

But, bless him, he duly went to Duty Free in Dubai, picked up a 250ml pot of the stuff and took it to the register, Visa card in hand.

“I mean you did say Creme de la Mer, didn’t you?”  he asked, looking jet-laggedly incredulous tonight. “Because she said, “That’ll be 3000 and something dirham, and I handed over the card, and then I suddenly thought to ask how much it was in pounds, and it was like, £600!!!! So, you know, sorry and everything, but I put it back.”

It’s fair enough really. Although after the aforementioned weeks of sole parenting (and freezoid temperatures) I do sort of almost think that I need Creme de la Mer, if not reconstructive surgery, to render me halfway presentable again. I’m just not convinced that my budget supermarket buy is going to cut it.

On the other hand, the money I’ve saved on potions can always be put towards a personal trainer. Which is definitely what I’ll need if I so much as get started on the stash of Tim Tams – an Australian icon in the biscuity stakes and my absolute childhood favourite – that he picked up on his stopover in Melbourne. Forget the eggs this Easter – I’m going to teach my children how to do the Tim Tam Slam, which involves biting each end off your biscuit and slurping a hot drink through rapidly-disintegrating chocolatey centre. Good times!

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I caught up with two friends

Not just one, but two. 

Does that make me sound like a proper saddo? The fact that catching up with friends is so rare and special as to be worthy of a blog post?

But here’s the thing: I see friends – sometimes they could probably more realistically be called acquaintances – a lot. But often fleetingly, at the school gates. Or disjointedly, with children running around. Or en masse, at a party, where one to one conversation is tricky, even if my lousy hearing didn’t make conversation of any type difficult.

It’d been a long time since I last saw the friends I caught up with today, which made meeting up with them exciting enough. But added to this was the fact that I saw each of them on their own, one by day and one at night.

So from the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum while the children were at school and nursery, to drinks at Canary Wharf’s Plateau tonight, with good company, easy conversation and lots of laughs for both, I feel like I’ve had the best of both worlds today.

And on a different, but related note, I am feeling quite self-congratulatory about having resisted the lure of yet another grey sweater. It was Whistles, it was lovely, it was on a good markdown at House of Fraser. And oh, how I love a grey sweater. I’m embarrassed to put how many of them I own in print.

But after the riot of colour to which we were treated at the Kaffe exhibition, honestly, how could I have justified it?

(I have however, bookmarked the sweater on my laptop. Juuuust in case I need something to make me happy tomorrow …)

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I overcame my reticence

The nature of my husband’s job, plus the fact that my family live overseas, means that I do a fair bit of sole parenting. I’m pretty okay with this, but I won’t – can’t – deny that it gets a bit wearing and lonesome.

I’m not brilliant at asking for help or support, a fact that wasn’t helped by my midwife (who, make no mistake, was utterly wonderful in all of my three pregnancies and homebirths) saying to me that going from 2 to 3 was socially difficult, especially when the age gaps are smaller than the norm (my third was born 3 years and 7 weeks after my first). She herself is a mum of three, and a very no-nonsense one at that, so I couldn’t help but listen when she said “Going places is difficult … You’re constantly outnumbered, even when both parents are present. And going to people’s houses … There are just so many of you pitching up, all the noise and mess and fuss. It’s awkward.”

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I’m not one to sit at home (cabin fever) but I’m not one to seek company either. And weekends are sacred aren’t they? I figure everyone works hard all week and wants quality family time on the weekend; who wants a slightly frazzled and temporarily single mum of three in tow? I also tend to assume, wrongly, and probably just because I don’t, but wish I did, that everyone is spending time with parents and siblings. I probably have a very idealised view of the Lives of Others.

My husband thinks I do; in fact, he thinks I’m am idiot: on the rare occasions that I do something sans ma famille on a weekend, his, and the children’s day, is filled with meetups and get-togethers. “People like to hang out with other people,” he reasons. “And the more kids there are, the easier it is: they just muck about and it saves the parents having to entertain.”

Still, I shy away from ‘intruding’, unless I’m inviting people over, in which case I can salve my conscience about impacting on their weekend with offers of home cooking and a decent-sized garden on which to set the kids loose.

But this weekend was the third in a row that my husband’s been abroad. It’s been generally fine: the kids have had lots of parties, and we’ve had friends over for dinners and sleepovers. But I’ll not deny that I’m getting a bit tired now, not helped by this randomly Arctic weather (it’s colder and snowier now, at nearly Easter, than it was at Christmas). So I mentioned, tentatively, to a couple of friends that I was thinking of taking my three to the National Gallery this morning for story telling and an art activity.

And guess what- everyone was up for it. So from one parent and three kids, we became four parents and eight children, which instantly makes things like dealing with tantrums and toilet trips loads easier, not to mention the joy of just having a few moments, albeit snatched and fleeting, of adult conversation.

Botanical artist Sarah Simblet

Botanical artist Sarah Simblet

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my daughter's botanical drawing

my daughter’s botanical drawing

So they rode the Magic Carpet at the National Gallery and enjoyed the interactive story about the painting in front of which it landed. We listened to botanical artist Sarah Simblet talk about her art, and the children then had a go at creating their own botanical etchings, crouched on the floor of the gallery with huge, thick, creamy sheets of paper and boards to lean on (I am so excited for Sketchout; can’t even tell you). We wandered up to The Strand and had lunch at Leon (where they were, especially for a ‘fast food’ restaurant, fantastically accommodating about my paleo diet, making me a to-order salad without grains) and then into Covent Garden to see The Big Egg Hunt/ Action for Children eggs, where the children, to their glee, also got to hunt for Lindt chocolate eggs in a purpose-made garden.

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Yes, there were some frazzled moments and yes, the icy weather made the children a bit whiny at times. But if there’s safety in numbers, there’s also pleasure. It was a good day. I’ll try to remember it next time my husband’s away and the children and I have got no major plans.

Found! My son's chubby hand reaches for some Lindt eggs

Found! My son’s chubby hand reaches for some Lindt eggsphoto

I bought my grandma roses

It’s 64 years today since my grandmother died. Obviously this means that I never met her, but she’s still been, in various ways, a big part of my life, not least because growing up without a mother impacted on my mother; understandably, she dreamed of the kind of mother she’d have liked to’ve had and ultimately, set out to be that sort of mother herself. She wanted to do things – shopping, theatre, meals out – with her daughters that her own mother wasn’t able to do with her (unfortunately she doesn’t seem to have been too bothered that her own mother never taught her about good makeup application, completely bypassing this crucial skill in all of her mother-daughter bonding with me, which is why, I think, I will never be the picture of polished perfection that I once – can’t be bothered to worry about it now – aspired to be)

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Unsurprisingly, my mother knows very little about her mum. But, from what little she does know, there are three standout points for me: she was a voracious reader, she liked shoes, and roses were her favourite flowers.

So, today I bought roses for Grandma Meg. I would also have worn lovely shoes, except that the blizzardy, diabolical weather made it impossible, so instead, I shall upload some pictures of some of my current wishlist/ wardrobe favourite pairs. And then I will go and read a chapter or two of my book, The Service of Clouds by Australian author Delia Falconer – (which, completely coincidentally, involves a patient dying of TB, the disease from which my grandmother died), before bed.

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Zara monochrome shoes, £39.99

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Zara silver studded heels, £39.99

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Dune colour block wedges £75.00

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Perspex-heeled shoe boots from ASOS, £60

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bright perpsex-heeled sandals from ASOS, now £26. Must confess these are in my wardrobe rather than on my wishlist.

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Sam Edelman flat sandals. Again, these have moved from wishlist to wardrobe

I hope my mum’s day has been peaceful and sunny, and I hope that she knows that losing her own mum, tragic and before-time as it was, makes her three kids appreciate all the more everything that she’s done for us. Being good at something that you had no teacher or role model for is pretty special, really, isn’t it?

Mum & Queen Victoria at London's National Portrait Gallery. Two great ladies!

Mum & Queen Victoria at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Two great ladies!

I have a stash of paper plates and plastic cups

They’re leftovers from previous parties; usually the sight of them vaguely annoys me as I know that when the next party rolls around, I’ll forget that I have them and buy another load, thus further cluttering my already-disorganised cupboards.

But tonight … well… my dishwasher is still on the blink, and I had a crowd of kids over for dinner.

Is it really so bad that I chose to minimise my washing up?

Come on! It’s Friday night!

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

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