teen sleep station

It’s Sunday morning. We had a late night last night – out for dinner with friends and then back to theirs for drinks and fun. The children are all the same age and went off to play (although we’re not allowed to call it ‘play’ now – they’re too old for playing) and we sat around with beers for the dads and prosecco for the mums. Mmmm.

It was a great evening, the conversation flowed as fast as the booze and before we knew it, it was time to go home – which, fortunately, was a matter of walking up the road.

Looking back to our dinner out – the kids down one end of the table conversing via their phones (I’m serious!) and us up the other talking to each other – proper talking, you know, eye contact, laughter and using-your-mouth-rather-than-your-keyboard-talking.

We did make them put their phones down when the food came out and I was happy to see them chatting as they shared the garlic bread out. (They counted out two pieces each and took size of slices into consideration so it was a fair share.)

Anyway, now it’s Sunday morning and my sleeping beauties are still tucked up comfortably in their beds. Gone are the days of the 6.30am wake ups at the weekends (thank goodness!). Mind you, tweens need their sleep – I read an excellent book – Blame My Brain by Nicola Morgan recently.

I’m finding it quite hard to adjust; dad and I are early risers so by 8.30 we were downstairs sipping our first cups of steaming hot tea. That’s a late wake up for us. I found myself thinking frequently – should I go up and check on them, wake them – make sure they’re still breathing. I know! Nonsense, isn’t it?

I didn’t by the way, I left them to sleep and, as I crushed the urge to check on them, my thoughts drifted into the future when my sleeping teens will lose most of the weekend mornings (If my Tom and Megan experience is anything to go by).

Did you know that double beds are now a tween requirement? I found out from my two as lots of their friends now have double beds to sleep in.

Well, we couldn’t squeeze a double in Alice’s room (she chose the box room, remember? – to get away from her sister *eyes roll*) for love nor money but Bessie has done a little bit of actual research and on her internet travels she has come across a ‘sleep station’ – I do like that name! She has even shortlisted the Sleep Station double divan bed as her top choice.

I have to admit, I admire her sense of practicality – those underbed drawers could home all sorts of essential tween sleepover gear – extra sleeping bags, blow up mattresses, pillows and so on. Plus, of course, having an extra double bed in the house would make our huge family Christmases a lot more comfortable.

I can’t see us investing this birthday but who knows? Maybe further down the line we might consider it.

Talking of birthdays – they’re going to be 11 in July -eek! – a list is already in the making (hair stuff, make up and clothes), possibly a Girl Guide camp week over the summer (yet to get the ok from mum and dad).

One last, super piece of news I want to share is – they have both been accepted at their first choice secondary school – grammar. Come September, we’ll be parenting secondary school kids!

Photo by Lucija Ros on Unsplash

Disclosure: collaborative post

Emma at A Bavarian Sojourn has been committing her 2019 plans to (digital) paper and she wondered if I’d like to share what I have in mind for this year too. The answer is, thanks Emma – you’ve given me the perfect excuse to write a ‘proper’ post!

Where do I start?

Work and Study

It’s 15 months now that I have been working as a Teaching Assistant in a local primary school and I love it. Where working for the Italian Tourist Board in London was my best job ever, this is quickly becoming a close second choice. (I never thought I’d say that as the thought of working with 30 children a day – all day – horrified me but here I am telling you otherwise).

There can be stressful days, as in any job, and sometimes you may hear me say – ‘I hate this job – it’s the worst job ever!’ but that thought disappears as quickly as it came. It’s a tough gig, you’re on your toes all day long and I’ve had to relearn long division, fractions, percentages and all number of mathematical questions. The part that keeps me going is my colleagues. I have met such a wonderful bunch of supportive woman (and a few men too).

In my initial enthusiasm, I wanted to study a degree so I could progress to a class teacher, the problem with that is it will take 6 years to complete studying part-time (and, seriously – I might want to retire by then!) However, I did start an Open degree, my first modules were Beginners Italian (easy 30 credits) and beginners Spanish as I give the weekly Spanish lesson to my class, so it made sense. I’m halfway through my first year and have 98.25% in Italian and 76.5% average in Spanish. *happy face*.

Then I got wind of the many mental health issues primary school students up and down the country are suffering from. 1 in 4 children. I’m going on a few courses to improve my knowledge and I’m thinking of redirecting my degree to gain knowledge in this area.

I have completed a level 3 Diploma in Teaching Assistant. It was an online course and I’m waiting to hear from the moderator that everything is ok. It should be as I have had a tutor throughout who has guided me and passed the units.

I’ve just taken up an Awareness in Mental Health Certificate (level 2) that should be completed by May/June time. So I have been keeping my brain busy.

Naturally, there is little time for other creative hobbies but I hope to catch up over the summer in that camp.

My social media presence has dwindled enormously. I’m not too bothered about that anymore. I post when I have something to say and, although I like to keep them ticking over, it is no longer a Must Do for me.

Consequently, I have lost touch with the wider blogging community as a result. sometimes this breaks my heart as I made so many wonderful friends and I miss them but I accept this as a result of the life choices I have made.

I’m not ready to pull the plug on this blog just yet – there’s been too much blood, sweat and tears that went into building it up but occasionally I have found myself considering calling it a day.

2019 Travel Plans

los alcazares Costa Calida

As you know, we have a mobile home in Thanet and we shall be spending a lot of our weekends down that way. I love to visit the Turner Contemporary whenever I get a chance and the twins will make full use of their Dreamland passes I am sure. I feel as if we have explored Thanet well now even if I didn’t pop back and write about every excursion!

Spain – Calpe

We are all very excited to be going off to Calpe in Spain in June. Our school has chosen to take a two week Whitsun break, this means we can use the second week to book a fairly priced holiday and we are returning to Spain this year – it’ll give me the chance to practice my Spanish!

Twin life

I am so proud of the girls; they passed their 11+ exams in September and the Mayfield Grammar School test. All that extra hard work over the summer holidays paid off. I don’t regret coaxing them to learn over the summer. They had plenty of time to have fun and play and without it – they would not have passed. Now we are waiting to hear if they are assigned places at the grammar school and they’ll be off to secondary in September. That’s a sobering thought!

Menopause and other health issues

Urggh! I know I have spent the past ten years or so wishing for my periods (I hated them) to stop but boy this menopause stage is vile. However, I’ll take the menopause rather than the periods.

Hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain, moodiness and hormone swings that cause me to go from normal me to a crumbling version of me who thinks everyone hates her and that she is good for nothing.

It’s tough and I’m hoping that by the end of the year my system will have got over the worst.

We can but live in hope, eh?

Latest bargain – £10 for this jacket!

Hair cut – I’m blaming the hormones once again for convincing me to have my hair chopped short with a fringe last summer. Although I walked out of the hairdressers happy, I ended up hating it and have been growing it back since.

Other health issues include, the enamel of my teeth starting to erode. I’m using Regenerate toothpaste and I want to invest in their serum next month (pay day issue!) Having fallen over last winter and landed on my front tooth, cracking it in half and having to have it rebuilt it is now a tiny bit wobbly making me determined to hang on to it (literally) for as long as I can.

Weight gain – already mentioned above but I’m going to try and see if I can knock off a few pounds. Let’s say 5.

That’s about it, or rather, there’s plenty more but I shan’t bore you any longer. In fact, if you’re still here listening to me warble on I commend you. Thank you.

I love bags. I have many and I can’t think of an occasion when I don’t take one with me. My everyday favourite is a shoulder bag and I have a few to choose from as I look after them and hang on to them as they don’t go ‘out of fashion’. They are an assortment of colours to suit the season and my mood. (Currently, I’m using a black Mulberry one but come the spring, I’ll change for something more colourful.)

Then there are my ‘pretty bags’, my Vogue purses. I don’t get many occasions to use them but they are my favourites. I have a beautiful bronze coloured clutch that my sister in law gave me on my 50th. I have a white leather bowling bag that I picked up in the Florida Walt Disney park years ago and I have an embroidered Italian pouch which is beautiful.

My most recent bag purchase was an ‘over-the-body’ bag by Mia Tui. It’s stone coloured and just the right size to hold my phone, purse and other essentials. I love it and it’s perfect for a hands-free day or for sightseeing and keeping your belongings close to you.

city messenger bag

I love weekend bags too and use mine frequently when we pack for a weekend in the caravan – it won’t be much longer before we re-open our seaside pad up again.

When I go food shopping I take a whole bag of bags with me and I’m very proud that I remember to use my recyclable bags to avoid buying any excess plastic bags. Even when I go ‘shopping’ shopping I take a fold away with me tucked in my handbag. In fact, I even gave some fabric fold away shopping bags as Christmas presents this year as I find them so handy.

I even use bags to tidy things up or keep things together, for example small zip bags I have used for sun creams in my beach bag, or holding phone chargers in my suitcase. Old toiletry bags that aren’t in use get recycled into ‘Hair accessories’ bags or bags for scarves. Larger unused bags become a new home for clothes that don’t fit but I don’t want to give away – maybe I’ll repurpose them one day? And those cloth holdall bags that brands give away – they are perfect for slipping into my suitcase and using for dirty clothes when I’m on holiday. I pack them up and tip them in the washing machine when I get home.

silver bag

I can even remember the first bag I owned that I was super proud of. It was a bronze holdall made out of a fake leather fabric and I bought it in Chelsea Girl, a really cool shop of the day. I used it for my school bags and was so upset the day the handles gave way and it had to be thrown out it was so well used.

How about you? Are you passionate about bags? Can you remember your first love?

Disclosure: A collaborative post.

I love January.

The Christmas decorations are back in the loft, the house has had a thorough clean and as the days are still short and cold, it’s time to snuggle on the sofa and enjoy my family.

Hygge the Danish call it. It’s all about the feeling and the moment. You can’t buy it, you create it and it is an enormously satisfying feeling.

Hygge - special feeling or moment

I am enjoying some fantastic British drama on the TV – Mrs Wilson, Luther and Manhunt to name a few.

I have been preparing some of my favourite winter recipes like stew with dumplings, some traditional roast dinners (we had roast leg of lamb on Sunday and it was amazing) and fish pie, mmmm!

January really is a proper hygge month for me. One daily ritual is lighting the candles on the mantle before I sit down to enjoy the calm winter’s evening. The flicker of the candles adds a warm glow to the room and adds to the cosiness as I hug my hot cup of tea and dip (once again) into the leftover chocolates from Christmas.

Actually, I hope we have soon finished off our Crimbo chocolate stash for the benefit of my wardrobe! Anyone else need to lose a few pounds that were gained over the festive season? I do. My trousers are tight around the waist, my t shirts are riding up and I feel uncomfortable. I’m going to have to make some time for exercise and long walks to get back into my clothes again.

However, I don’t want to go crazy and make it a mission. I’m not on that treadmill anymore, I know I have work to do but I’m not going to get all het up about it. By adding a few good walks into the week and cutting back on sweets, wine and large portions, I’ll get back to how I was sooner or later.

As my clothes are tight, I’ve been looking at the Simply Be website for some winter fashion inspiration. For me, this time of year calls for comfort clothing and also bright colours. Nice pops of red and yellow to brighten my mood and add a bit of happiness to my outfit. Black is wonderful but it can be a bit boring day in, day out.

How about this saffron coloured jumper? Worn with leggings or jeans or even a skirt would look great. 

Or this Joe Browns red cable cardigan? I love it, I think I would wear it forever with everything! UPDATE: I bought it!

I have my eye on longer skirts this year, I think they’re really going to take off. Maxi or long, both styles dress well and can be worn for both casual and formal occasions. Another element to look out for is animal prints. Take a walk down the high street (if you can bear to go out in the cold!) and you’ll see lots of prints in the shops.

How about you? Are you trying to incorporate some hygge feeling into your life?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

christmas decorations

The reserve fridge in the garage has been switched on… I repeat… the reserve fridge in the garage is now on.

This can only mean one thing in our house, it’s Christmas and we shall be entertaining the troops – hence the switching on of the other fridge. My husband gets stupidly excited about this as he fills the shelves up with bottles of different beers, wine, champagne and of course food. He is a meat lover and I often find him slipping out to the garage with one excuse or another, simply to take a look at his festive bounty.

I guess, you could call this one of our family traditions. Having the larger house we are able to put family up and this year both of my brothers are coming to join us with their families; that’ll be a total of 10 on Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve

Twins christmas 2014
When they really did believe in Santa

They all arrive on Christmas Eve – one brother and his partner are taking care of Christmas Eve dinner – and there is a long list of cocktails and festive ‘must haves’ including a brand new Mincepietini (I think that’s what it’s called?)

The evening will be spent playing games and drinking alcohol. Our village scout group have a traditional Father Christmas parade that works its way around the streets and we’ll all pop out to wave him on as he passes by.

The girls asked earlier this month for the truth about Santa, I wrote the letter I found on Pinterest years ago and they were very happy to know the truth and be treated like ‘grown ups‘. It hasn’t ruined any fun, actually, it’s made life easier as I can now wrap whilst they are still awake but not allowed in the room.

first christmas - kids
The twin’s first Christmas 2008

Will they still let me put the plate out for Santa though? And the carrot for Rudolf…

Bedtime this year will change. I used to hurry them into bed so I could finish my wrapping but this year they’ll stay up a bit longer. I had a go at the Happy Beds Christmas Wake Up Calculator it predicts the twins will wake up at 7.15am. I’ll take that!

Christmas Morning

They will be sleeping in our room this year as the family are staying over so wake up will mean opening the stockings in our bed. Baxter will be allowed on the bed for the occasion too. Happy Beds have officially claimed that children will wake up at 6.44am, I am hoping we get to sleep a little bit longer to be honest but you know how it is, the moment the eyes open, that’s it.

There will be lots of paper to pick up, lots of oohs and aahs as they get to each gift. It’s best for me if they open the same gifts together so surprises aren’t ruined but inevitably one is faster than the other.

Then, of course, they will want to se the tree and open the BIG presents so we’ll trundle off downstairs in our pyjamas and with fresh tea to hand, the opening ceremony will begin.

Christmas day 2012
Gosh – Christmas 2012!

I get a bit OCD at this point. I will have black sacks to the ready and will spend more time catching everyone’s trash than concentrating on my own gifts!

Whilst the family take it in turn to shower, Bloody Mary’s will be served. This for me is one of my personal highlights. I LOVE Bloody Mary’s.

Lunch is a long traditional meal at my beautifully laid table and then there’s the clearing up.

Christmas table

The afternoon will be a mix of playing family games – I’m so excited as I’ve bought Boom Ball for us to play this year and it looks hilarious! Then someone will start getting out cheeses and pates ‘in case anyone is feeling peckish’. No one is but I bet we all tuck in regardless.

It will be a late night but the twins can catch up on sleep another time. I shall rejoice in having my family around me and sharing – the most wonderful time of the year with them.

Have a wonderful Christmas all,

Mari xxx