Week one of the summer holidays is oficially over and here we are in August already! Wow, wow wow. It’s been a week of chaos but in the most beautiful way as our days have lost all routine, bedtimes are out of the window and it’s been chocolate and marshmallows for breakfast. But you’re only young once, right?
This week started off with a lovely day out to Woburn Safari Park, where the children and I drove through free roaming lions, bears and wolves, and giggled over monkeys jumping on the car, walking through lemurs, meerkats and parrots. It was a gorgeously hot summers day, where time stood still and the children didn’t stop smiling, and my face aches a fair bit too from beaming with pride as they ooh’d and ahh’d over the excitement of the animals. We had a little picnic of cucumber sandwiches, chocolate peanuts and fresh fruits from the garden, and then sailed the lake in a pedalo swan before coming home. I love driving home at the end of a long day, with two snoring little people in the back, fast asleep with their noses pressed up against the window and their hands flopping by their sides. These beautiful and precious memories will stay with me forever and a day.
Millie has also been keeping busy making loom bands and she’s made hundreds already as gifts for all of the family. I have to confess that as a parent I think loom bands are super cool and Millie has kindly been designing styles and colourways for me to match the outfits we wear each day. It’s a great idea and a productive and creative exercise for children. I have no idea how she does it so fast, her fingers are like little chopsticks clicking away, threading, looping and pinging the bands into place. Yet when I tried it was like knitting with two frozen sausages. I think I’ll leave it to the squeaky expert with pigtails!
We watched Disney’s Maleifcent yesterday, which is a other side of the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, as told by the evil Queen who turns out to be extremely misunderstood. The film was absolutely beautiful and fascinating to watch, and it transported us to a land of enchantment and culture as the story told of fairies, elf people and knights. Without wanting to spoil the plot, there is a true love’s kiss that awakens Princess Aurora from her cursed sleep and it left me in tears. It was such a beautiful and meaningful film and the children wanted to watch it again straight after it finished.
We spent an afternoon clearing out the children’s room, shifting furniture, bagging up old toys and clothes and filing away paintings and keepsakes. The place looks like a show room now, it’s bright, fresh and minimalist with all of the trinkets put up safely on display shelves and the children’s favourite toys set out for easy access and room to play. I twitch when I see mounds of toys, mess and broken dolls parts, as the more you cram into a room the less care and attention that is given. When you separate out zones in a room and give everything a place and purpose, each item is respected and used practically. Gabriele has a huge toy trunk and Millie a giant dolls house on the carpet, with the desk neatly lined with crisp white paper, shiny new pens and colour coded craft drawers. The wardrobes are hanging pristine clothes, tiny shoes and pretty bangles. And the bunk beds home to a handful of teddies standing to attention and cute country bedding.
This was the first step in my attempt to ease Gabriele into his own bed. By changing the room around and creating more space I had hoped that the children would be excited and intrigued to explore the new zones and cubby holes, wanting to spend time playing in the bedroom and snuggling up in bed. He is also a Peppa Pig addict, so I was hoping he would squeal at his new duvet in his dinky den of fairy lights and pig teddies. So far he’s fallen to sleep in his bed twice, with me perched on the rug beside him, stroking his hair and reassuring him I’m nearby, and as he drifted off I edged further and further away until I made it out of the room, only to return when he woke up crying and calling my name not even half an hour later. I’m trying to persevere without making him associate his bed with being a punishment or naughty step. I want him to feel relaxed and happy to be in his own bed, and to actually want to sleep there without needing me beside him. I’ve made a rod for my own back by letting him sleep in my bed for the past year since we became a single parent family, but I needed him just as much as he needed me. Slowly slowly catch a monkey, I will try little and often each day and hope that by the end of the summer holidays he will be sleeping through on his own.
Equally potty training has proven just as difficult. As after his first unexpected potty session last week where he came running into the kitchen, perched on the potty and did a wee, he’s not done anything since. I’ve kept his nappy off and remind him every quarter of an hour or so to have a seat on his potty and do ‘wee-wee’s and poo-poo’s’ which he’s more than happy to comply with, just nothing comes out so he gets up and runs off. Unsurprisingly he’s had a fair few accidents in the garden, doing wee-wee’s on the grass and a poo on the patio as he ran along. As he starts preschool in just two months time I’m really hoping to master potty training over the summer holidays. He’s still just 27 months old and I know that boys can take longer to train than girls, but I’m hoping I can wish on a shooting star and cross all of my fingers and toes that we can make this transition as stress free and successful as possible.
I had a day out with friends at the beach and had the most amazing time. I’ve been absolutely petrified of drowning ever since I was held under the water in a swimming pool as a child. And despite trying to conquer my fear of water by going wake-boarding a couple of years ago, I lasted all of several minutes in the water before being pulled out a gasping and shaking wreck. It’s horrible having a fear or phobia, as your mind is so determined to face it head on but your body has an entirely different idea. When I got near the water my hands immediately began to shake, my breathing accelerated and it felt as though my heart was going to beat itself out of my chest. I tried to stay calm and focused, to think logically and rationalise the situation, but my body was having none of it. This time I was utterly determined to overcome my one and only fear in life that is drowning. Zipped up in a rather unflattering wetsuit and huge life jacket, I climbed off of the boat and into the sea, my feet nowhere near the sand, nothing but darkness below me, and choppy unrelenting waves splashing against my face. My legs felt like jelly, my hands trembled as I clung onto the life jacket around my chest and I used every ounce of strength inside of me to lay on my back, close my eyes and put my face up to the sky. I told myself everything would be ok, that I couldn’t drown with a life jacket, and that it was simply a case of mind over matter. If I focused my thoughts then my panicking body would follow.
After a few deep breaths and a moment of calm looking up at the sky, I found myself at ease in the water, bobbing like a cork and laughing off the slaps of water which wet my hair and face between several smaller waves. I told myself that I can and will do this, because life is too short to be afraid of anything. And then I climbed aboard an inflatable doughnut, which was being pulled by the speedboat by a long wire, clinging on for dear life as it slowly cut a ripple through the water when it began to pull me forward. My heart was in my throat and my knuckles white from holding on, but I had the biggest smile on my face. I raised my hand in the air to signal to go faster, and as the speed increased so did my bravery. I swallowed my heart that had started in my throat and pushed it right down into my stomach, giving me that same burning feeling when you test your limits and get a moment of fight or flight. But I wasn’t going anywhere this time. As I waved again to signal to go faster, I climbed up onto my knees and took my hands off of the doughnut, lifting my arms up into the air like something out of the Titanic and squealed and whooped with excitement as I sailed along. I’d done it, I was flying on water, my fears buried and my skin alive with electricity. It was the most incredible feeling to overcome such a life limiting fear in such a spectacular way. Within minutes I was thrown off into the water when I hit a wave, skimming like a stone before plunging head first into the waves, my mouth filling with sea water, the disorienting sound of rushing water surrounded my ears and nothing but darkness when I tried to open my eyes. I broke the surface with a gasp, coughing up water and pulling my hair back out of my face, and then I laughed, punched the air and got straight back on to have another go.
I feel so ridiculous for being afraid for so many years, and this past year for me in particular has been such a priceless journey of discovery and self belief. Not only am I now comfortable in my own skin but I’m comfortable in my mind, body and soul too. There is nothing that we cannot do, because after all we’re stuck to a rock 8,000 miles wide, hurtling through space at 70,000mph around a gigantic ball of fire burning at 9,941 degrees through a universe that has no beginning or end. So when you put things into perspective, life is pretty frickin awesome! Without wanting to put a downer on things, none of us know how long we have left of our lives, that famous saying ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ is true in so many ways. So don’t darken your days with panic, suffering and stress, reach for the stars, conquer your fears, achieve your dreams and leave a stamp on the world. Life is what you make it, and you owe it to yourself to not fill it with if’s, but’s and maybe’s because shoulda, woulda, coulda are the last words of a fool. Isn’t that right Beverly Knight! So drown your fears and not your sorrows.