Monday, March 31, 2014

Daddy Matt'll make you jump, jump

For the past couple of weeks, Blake has decided that he was a bit of a non-conformist.  It started a while ago, now that I think about it; I picked him up a few times after school and he had the sweatshirt of his uniform inside out.  Over time, he's gradually shifted so that he wears his sweatshirt under his polo shirt, which is now the item that's turned inside out.  I had asked his teacher about it when he first did it, and her reply was something to the effect of "He's an individual, so he can do what he wants."  I thought, at the time, that her response was very empathetic, and liberal in its appreciation of his individualism.  Since then, I probably really haven't had the energy to try to convince him otherwise, and generally it kind of all looks like a sea of blue and red anyway, so I wasn't too concerned.

One of the characteristics of our week is that Matt, due to his rather crappy commute - and frankly, due to his ease at waking up in the morning which I lack - leaves the house sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 each morning.  That leaves me about an hour to get myself and the boys ready to get out of the house, which feels like no easy feat.  Blake has always been pretty responsible about getting himself dressed, so when I take stock of everything a few minutes before we need to leave and see that he is wearing clothes at all, that feels like a result.  Usually, the situation several minutes before we need to leave, and creeping into several minutes after we need to leave, is that Noah is still in his pj's and shows no sign of interest in donning day attire.  It's all kind of exhausting.

Last week was different. Matt worked from home on Friday so he was around to attend to the morning activities, and at some point I overheard a strong conversation with Blake about the direction of Blake's clothes.  Matt wasn't having it, so I went down to see what the rationale was.  Matt's points were fair, if a little  generous in terms of Blake's influencing abilities: "All the other kids will want to do the same thing, and then they'll have fights with their parents who won't want to let them.  And then if the parents do let them, then the whole class will be wearing their uniforms wrong and the head teacher will get wind of it and it will come out that Blake started it."  Oh, ok...well, when you put it like that, I guess I do understand why it might not be such a good thing to encourage his free-thinking.
Anyway, Blake went to school with his uniform looking as it should.  He came home with it looking as it should too, so I guess Matt's words had the desired effect. I couldn't help but think of the 90's rap duo Kriss Kross and wonder if their parents had had similar debates with them about how they wore those baseball jerseys and jeans.  Probably not. Here's an assortment of some other odd outfits we've seen in the past few weeks...

One half of a modern-day British Kriss Kross:
 The tie wouldn't be that strange apart from this was what he chose to wear to swimming on a Saturday morning...
 Very fetching with the red wristbands...
 Noah goes incognito...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Giving up, or taking charge?

Shrove Tuesday came and went last week, and on Wednesday evening I realized that I hadn't yet decided what I was going to be giving up for Lent.  I was having this internal discussion with myself as I raised a glass of red wine to my mouth, so giving up alcohol was evidently out.  As was sweet stuff, sugar, and bread, all of which I'd had at some point during the day.  Maybe I'll do one of those things where I give up a negative feeling, I thought.  I then had some more wine and then forgot about it for the rest of the night.

The next day, I decided that I would try to have 40 days and 40 nights free of Facebook (though by this time it was Thursday so it wouldn't even be a month by the time I got around to committing to this!).  I don't think I'm necessarily as addicted as I could be to Facebook, but I probably do spend an awful lot of time in there, truth be told.  Sometimes posting, of course, sometimes reading and commenting on what others have posted, sometimes, I imagine, searching for something that is going to pop out of the screen at me and say, "Thank goodness you're reading this - because if you weren't on Facebook this very instant, you might very well miss this very important thing that is going to change your life in the most amazing way possible!!!"  Yeah, surprisingly, I haven't had anything like that happen.  Yet.  That said, it does provide a lot of smiles and a sense of connectedness to many people who are very far away, so I do very much appreciate what it does.

Nonetheless, I thought about what I could possibly do with that time, and decided that really it would be a challenge and therefore a good thing to try to give up in Lent.  I had to check in on a few things to make sure that if someone tried to get in direct contact with me via Facebook, that I would at least get a message in my email so that I'd know about it, and finally on Sunday, I put a message up and changed my profile picture to "Gone Fishing".  We'll see how it goes.  So far, over the weekend I managed to finish two books (The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, and Gold by Chris Cleave - I'd recommend both of them), and finally started my training for the triathlon I've signed up for in August.  Coincidence in productivity?  Probably....

I'm pretty sure that I won't cheat on looking, and I imagine that I'll be pretty ready to see what's going on in the FB universe when Easter rolls around, but I look forward to having some of that time back.  And maybe, just maybe, spending less time in FB will encourage me to spend more time here, which is where I'd like to be when I'm online.

This was the funniest image I found when I was looking for good ones to go with this post!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Now Blake is six...

“But now I am six. And I'm clever as clever. And now I think I'll stay six now forever and ever.”
A.A. Milne, Now We are Six


Two weekends ago, we became the proud owners of a six-year-old.  I suppose owners isn't really the right word, is it?  Maybe the reality is that we're just renting our kids - it's definitely not ownership especially when you realize how quickly they're growing up, Blake being a perfect case in point!

It's not every day that you turn six, and as has tended to be the pattern for the past couple of years, Blake celebrated his birthday not once, not even twice, but three times over the course of a week or so!  First off we had a small family thing when we were visiting Matt's brother and family in York over half term.  But there was singing, candles and cake, so it was definitely celebration #1.  Then on the Friday of his actual birthday, he (or maybe it was I, which would be typical of me to suggest something that didn't really need to happen) wanted to invite the older girls from the street over for pizza.  I strayed from calling it a party, instead thinking of it more as a "Friday hangout" - Noah liked the term "pizza Friday".  At any rate, it was a really good time: the boys plus five of the older (ages 7-13), cooler (they get to play outside on their own) girls enjoyed Papa John's pizza, a good chat around the table about who knows what, and then several games of hide and seek before coming back for some store-bought cupcakes.  It was over in about an hour and was the easiest hour of recent memory!  And the boys clearly loved it, as the selfie shows!

Then on Saturday was his party with his aged friends, which was a bit more hard work but we came out the other side ok!  I had to intervene early on so that Master Yoda was treated with the level of respect he deserves (initial inclination was to use the cardboard cutout as a boxing shadow!), and we were very thankful for the Death Star pinata which took the kids nearly half an hour to bash apart!

One minute they were just enjoying themselves...

 The next they had rushed off to play hide and seek, and I was left to enjoy a peaceful cup of tea!

 They may have given Ellen the idea for the Oscars on Sunday....!
 Saturday's cake - not my best, but it seemed to pass...
So all in all, quite a number of celebrations for the six-going-on sixteen-year-old.  Of course he won't stay six for ever, but he does think he is clever and all things considered, is a very good boy.   Now, on to Noah's birthday in just a few weeks now...