Category Archives: Big Sis

Getting ready for tomorrow

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I didn’t realise it is Friday 13th until almost the end of the day. I was trying to justify why things weren’t going as smoothly as they should. Just excuses, it’s easier than say I’m exhausted, lost my focus, ran out of patience and can’t do a lot of things I am trying to do.

The girls’ party is tomorrow. It’s all sorted in my head, but truth is, I don’t know if I can put it all together in an hour. It’s how long we have in the hall before kids start arriving. And this is the UK, people do arrive on time. 

I’ve been working on everything individually, not thinking how things will look good together. I do have a rough sketch of how the main table should look like, just to help on the day. 

It will all be good, it will all be great, but I can’t wait for it to be over.

How can we be in May already?

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It seemed not long ago that I read all the May the force be with you  / May the 4th be with your posts on Instagram. And this week they were all back. We are in May… goodness.

And with May comes the girls’ birthdays. Beatrice is turning 3 years old next week and Laura turns 6 at the end of the month. In between we have a birthday party that I am trying to organise. With the trip to Florida in April, I got timings wrong and everything got delayed. Nothing to panic about… yet. Not that things are under control, they are and they are not. Things are completely… messed up. Let’s say that there will be a party and kids will have fun, but the OCD mum here is kinda freaking out because, due to the lack of planning, it’s all a bit random. We have a theme, which is important, and it is Ariel-Mermaids (like… different styles)-under the sea. The designs are all mixed up, got some designs from Etsy, some from party websites, from Little Mermaid stuff and that is the typical kids birthday party. Because, let’s face it, kids are… random. Get a 5 years old to pick up her outfit and you will see. It will look great, but not always will match.

One of the reasons for the delay in planning (I’m not a quick executer, I must confess, so I need extra time) was that Laura couldn’t decide on the theme. Princesses,  fairies, My Little Pony – no! Equestria Girls, a spin off MLP – Rapunzel, Ariel… she set her mind (not quite) on Ariel/Mermaid just after we got back from Florida, so I couldn’t even check out what are the latest party stuff in the US. Not that the prices are better there, they were not, but they have more options. More physical options, as opposed to online stuff. Although I get everything online these days, there is a lot of shopping in the dark and getting something slightly different than I thought.

I’m also a bad planner… I did some research online (thanks Pinterest and all party blogs) and wanted to get and do everything! And started shopping for random stuff. Now I’m not even sure what I’ve got – most of them didn’t even arrive yet. Food-wise, there is very little I can do before next week. I mean, I don’t think I can bake a cake and leave it for a whole week, right?

One of the fun stuff about it all is sharing little things I do on Instagram. It makes it feel a bit more special for me. It’s just too much work and too much effort (and money) for just a 2 hour party for 20-something kids. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally worth it, they will be happy, but I feel like I need to share the behind the scenes with more people. I love how some of my friends give their opinion and help me along the way. My “comadre” (Beatrice’s godmother) is also my consultant – thanks to Whatsup – and provides me with instant feedback when needed. Not to mention that I have an “ear” (an eye, more likely) to listen to my insecurities, and and someone to tell me “it’s great!” or “maybe try this”.

Being at home is being great to get this party organised in the little time I’ve got – I would be pulling my hair off if I was on a full time job now. It is also very lonely, if it wasn’t for the online community. When hubby comes home, we talk about other things (I’m working for him too), and the girls are super excited about the party and I do welcome their feedback, but sometimes it’s not enough.

Mini wooden treasure chest that I spray painted in gold and Laura decorated with stickers. I have loads of washi tapes at home, so experimented with them – I don’t love how it looks with them on, but Laura does, so she wins.

 

The fun part: spray paint 30 mini chest in a few minutes.

 

It’s a bit of a messy job and I ended wearing gloves (not a big fan), but no far, my favourite part.

 

Little bracelets that will go in the mini chest… I was going to put each one together, but friends on Instagram voted to keep them in bags and let the kids do it at home. Got myself a few hours back here.

 

Ballon filler in training. We have a lot of balloons to blow, missy B, you better practice. (If I don’t give up the day before, which is what normally happens)

 

The things I’ve seen and learned

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It was an intense week. I decided to go to every single meeting and event at Laura’s school and spent two days there, between World Book Day and the character’s parade, to PTA coffee morning, meeting with teacher, math talk, etc. Between now and the Easter break, there are at least another 4-5 events.

All good, I’m not complaining. I’m surprised though. Surprise on how much is expected from parents, grandparents, carers, to be part of the children’s school lives. It is not a bad thing, because it is not the school’s responsibility to raise the children. We are the parents, we are responsible for them, we need to be present, we need to know, we need to participate, but how the heck are we supposed to do that working long hours? I feel incredibly lucky to be able to take a break and go to all the school events, do homework at a decent time of the day when Laura is not exhausted or wanting to play, meet parents and teachers, but I do feel for parents that would love to be there and instead are stuck in a 9-to-5 job.

There should be a balance in life. I love working and I don’t see myself as a full time housewife for the longer term, but if I go back to the corporate world, I will want to work 4 days a week. It’s a 20% cut in salary, but it will be a much higher rate improve in life. And I don’t think this is something that only mothers should think about or fight for… A present and participative father can do wonders to a child’s life. At Laura’s school, the vast majority are mothers (it is still the norm, I guess), some grandparents (oh, the lucky ones that have them around) and some few fathers. On the day that we went to read with the kids, in Laura’s class, there were only women. Some took the morning off before heading back to work. Last year, hubby went, as his work was way more flexible than the actual one.

Interestingly, the main lesson I took from this was not that us, parents, should find a way to attend these events at school, but how important it is to have a solid and safe network in our community. I’ve seen mothers reading to 3, 4 kids because other parents couldn’t be there and it was alright. The kids were fine, they were happy to have an adult there – they were happy to have the parent of one of their friends there. They didn’t feel left out. So, yes, parents should try to be there, but the parents that can be there should carry on going the extra mile and supporting those who are not as “lucky”*. It takes a village to raise a child, right?

  She was soooo excited to see me at the parade (she didn’t know I was coming). Her happy face was priceless!

P.S.: I don’t know the situation of all parents; sometimes they are not lucky to be able to go to school. Sometimes they are unemployed and desperate to find a job and luck is not the right word.

The season to be jolly

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We didn’t have a white Christmas this year – it has been quite mild, really, with temperatures above 10C – but ice rinks across the country take care of bringing a bit of the magic of Christmas (if you are used to it in the North Hemisphere) to us all. 

We have never been to Winter Wonderland, in central London, and we never took the girls to one of the many ice rinks across London. The trip and the crowds just don’t attract me. So it was great to find a place not too far from us, with an outdoor, but covered, ice rink. It is in Ruxley Manor Garden Centre, in Sidcup, Kent. The garden centre was a nice discovery; it’s not only a for all things for the garden but it also has a nice food market with some yummy looking fruits and veggies and other food. There are two restaurants, shops, etc. Durimg school holidays, there are activities for kids (a Circus during February half term). 

Not something for tourists though.

   
   

Every day conversation

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I drop Laura off and pick her up at school every Thursday. It’s a nice way to spend a few hours just the two of us , get to see other kids and parents (just see, I don’t talk to them) and have a five minute walk.

Our chat on the way home:

Laura: Mummy, imagine if you died…
Me: … hmmm…. I don’t think I want to imagine that.
Laura: It’s just pretend, mummy!
Me: Ok…
Laura: You died and someone took you to the hospital…
Me: errrrr… so, when you die, they don’t take you to the hospital.
Laura: Of course they do!
Me: No, you go to the hospital when you are ill. When you die, you go to the cemetery.
Laura: cenetewy?!
Me: Ce-Me-Te-Ry.
Laura: What’s that?!
Me: A place where they keep the bodies when they stop working; when they die. Remember when we went to say bye buy to vovô Mário? That was a cemetery.
Laura: No, vovô Mário is in the sky!
Me: … yes, he is. But his body is placed somewhere else.
Laura: hmmmm.
Me: It’s cold, isn’t it?

*******

2015/01/img_2678.jpg“Mummy, I’m gonna drive you crazy with my questions! huahuahuahua”

Every other day…

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… the girls have a bad night of sleep. One of them will wake up at least once in the middle of the night. Only I will hear and go to the rescue.

… Beatrice will throw a tantrum after not getting what she wants. And the other day she will throw herself on the floor, cry, beat Laura (also known as tantrum).

… Laura will shout and scream and throw things at us because she doesn’t get what she wants.

… I will have a headache at the end of the day. Every other day I’ll have a headache during the day.

… I feel like I should move somewhere warm, like Florida. And then I feel like the UK is the best place to be.

… I hate my job.

… I love my job.

… I want to redecorate the house.

… I want to sleep for 18 hours.

… I love cooking.

… I love looking after the house and deep cleaning it.

… I read a few pages of a book.

… I want to go back to school to learn something new.

… I sleep late. Or very late. Never early.

2015/01/img_2557.jpg I’m a celebrity, take me out of here!

2015/01/img_2659.jpg A colourful mess.

2015/01/img_2627.jpgNext holiday destination according to Laura.

2015/01/img_2583.jpgWhere’s Wally?

Who cares about planning anyway?

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In my mind, England (the UK?) is the land of planning. I remember being overwhelmed with all the planning required to meet friends, go to a concert or a play and travel. There was no such thing as “what are you doing now? Nothing? fancy a cinema/coffee/walk in the park?”

The reasons are various: firstly, most of my friends don’t leave close to me and takes about one to two hours (TFL permitting) to get anywhere. Secondly, people are just so eager to do stuff that tickets to shows and famous plays start selling a year before (or more) and are sold out in minutes. So there you have it – an event planned a year in advance and it’s not even a Christmas one. Then I think it has to do with the culture. People are so used to plan ahead that if you say “let’s do something tomorrow, they will probably say “tomorrow? errrrrr… let me check (my diary/with the other half/what phase of the moon we are now) and get back to you; I’m pretty sure we have something booked”. Sometimes you don’t even invite people for anything last minute because you are sure they can’t make it or you are not ready for such impromptu commitment.

But then, sometimes you want to plan thing ahead but people just won’t let you. Kids. Kids don’t let you plan anything ahead. Laura has been banging on for months and months (since her birthdays, really) that she wants a Frozen party. I ignore it for a while in the hopes that there will be another Disney princess taking over and she will change her mind. But until Christmas, it was all about “can I have a Frozen party?”.

So I started thinking about finding little Frozen items here and there and start gathering ideas to, for a change, don’t do anything so last minute (which will happen anyway, no matter how far I plan – but it’s more for the sake of getting anything on ebay from China that takes a month to be delivered).

And guess what has happened today? When asked what theme she wanted for her party, the answer was Hello Kitty!

So she will end up having a Frozen-Princess-Fairy-Lego-Hello Kitty-Pony-whatever crap is in fashion next Spring and everyone will be happy. Except me.

(I was thinking about ignoring the birthday party and going somewhere nice for a week in May, but I don’t think I can get away with it).