The odd one out

I have that follow feeling in my tummy, the one I describe to the boys as butterflies, but truth be told it isn't.  It is a physical pain caused by dropping them off at the school door each morning.  At least today Mini went in without the tears and upset of last week, at least Maxi always runs to be in, but I walk away with a heavy heart and a hollow emptiness that nothing can fill.

I used to have a career when we lived down South, I was a successful Facilities Manager and my colleagues were shocked by the fact that I was pregnant.  I was the most un-maternal woman in the building, but my love for  my boys has been a slow burner.  I never had a POW feeling when they were born.  They never swept me off my feet with a barrage of warm feelings, but these feelings have grown and developed as I have had the pleasure of learning to be a parent and now I am consumed with overwhelming and unconditional love for them both.  There are days when I might not like them, but I do and always will love them.

I enjoy their company and the time we spend doing, making, playing, baking and just being together.  I fear I am becoming a bore, a lonely, sad mother.  Yes that is what the issue is I am lonely.  I do have friends here, but they have both just gone full time at work, so I am left on my own during the day and I am sad.

I am looking for part time work to help pass the time and to try and make new friends, but it easier said than done.  I have applied for positions, only to be told I am over qualified and to be left feeling even more worthless than I feel anyway.  Before now I have only ever had positive interviews, but I live in an area of high unemployment and my skills although transferable are not as sought after as they should be.  Coupled with the fact that I want to collect the boys from school, well it makes getting a job pretty much impossible (or that is the feeling I have).

So on Wednesday I start 2 mornings a week helping out with the reception children at the school and I am looking forward to it.  I hope that it will help lift my mood and stop me coming home with tears in my eyes.

Worse still are the people who say take some time to do things you want to do, well I WANT to be with my children, I don't want to pamper myself or go for a run, I want to cuddle my boys.  I want to wallow in this self pity.  I don't want to clean the house or do the ironing.  I want to go to the park and find shells with the boys on the beach.  I want more children, which I can not have.
I am mourning the loss of her children.  The woman who has marked the calender and is looking forward in an unnatural way to half term.  I listen to the other mums talking about their children being at school and I feel nothing in common with them at all.  I do not relish the start of the school day or dread the clock ticking closer to collection time, in fact I feel the opposite and look forward to collecting the boys and visiting the park.

So in a lot of ways I guess I am the odd one out.



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Wonderful Whitby Abbey

We are lucky enough to live a mere 20 minutes away from Whiby and thankfully the boys love the place as much as MadDad and I do.  We take every opportunity to escape the humdrum and melt in to the old fashioned perfectness of Whitby, but we don't often go to the Abbey, in fact I can not remember the last time we went.

So on Friday as the sun was shining, school had not yet started and MAdDad was off, plus we were looking after my 5 year old niece (as her Nanna is terminally ill), so we decided Whitby was where we were going.


We loved it, yes it is often windy, but it is a fantastic place to explore and allow the children to be free.  I have to say that we have been members on English Heritage since Maxi was born and I love visiting with the boys. 

We took a picnic and some books and had a wonderful relaxing visit.

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TheMads go Mad at Butlins

As I was going to be at TheMads we decided to make it a family break and take the children to Butlins, now I have never ever been to Butlins and the last time MadDad went was over 35 years ago, so I think we had preconceived ideas.
We stayed in the Shorline hotel and I have to say I was super impressed with the size and layout of the rooms.  The boys room area had junior bunkbeds and a TV and DVD player, which showed children's TV channels.  The room had a big fridge and also tea and coffee making facilities.  It was perfect.  The only issue we had was that our package didn't include breakfast and that would have been £30 for the four of us in the hotel, but that didn't put us off, we took advantage of the large fridge and had cereal and milk!
The first thing the boys wanted to experience was the pool and experience it we did!  In our two days at Butlins we spent more time in the pool than anywhere else.  We were wrinkly prunes, but the boys adored it and so did we.  Maxi got to go on 3 of the slides as he was the right height and Mini enjoyed the children slides and also the white slide too.  My only gripe about the pool is that there is nowhere to hang your towels in the shower area and we like to wash our hair after being in the pool.  During the days we either spent our time in the pool or the play area outside.  The boys didn't go on any of the rides at all, although they did spend an hour in the indoor soft play.
I have to say I was pretty apprehensive about the entertainment.  I had visions of young children being entertained whilst the parents all had a drink and left them too it (not that there is anything wrong with that, its just not my cup of tea).  Well I needn't have worried.  The little ones entertainment is in the pavilion and there is a stage in the centre and a coffee area where parents and children can sit.
The boys had so much fun, they watched Barney, acrobats and got involved in all the drumming.   If they are happy, then we are happy and as parents of young children neither of us want to have a hangover, so a nice coffee went down fine with us.
We ate at Papa John, which is a pizza place and offers a buffet service between 5 and 7, which was perfect for us and the children.  It meant they could have as much salad and pizza as they liked (it was £7.75 for adults and £3.75 for children)
So my verdict, well I am going to leave it to Maxi this time "Can I live here Mummy?"
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The Mads – I love my fellow nominees


We have just got back from the inaugural Mads ceremony at Butlins Bognor and I have to say I have had a fantastic time.  The event itself was amazing, celebrating everything good.  You can see a list of the  Mads nominees and the winners here, but I wanted to use this post to tell you about the e-mails that were sent and received the day before the event.

So ladies - tomorrow it's handbags at dawn ;) as one of us emerges victorious: Queen of Family Fun. I'm still amazed I made the final and feel honoured to be in such great company. I think we all share very similar philosophies about what family fun and childhood is all about. I'd kind of forgotten the MADs are a competition and it seems a bit silly for us all to be in a heat together. I just wanted to say well done to all of us for having blogs that people read and enjoy.

Jen and Pippa - hope you have a fantastic time at the awards. I really wish I was coming as I'd love to see you both again. Victoria - meet you at the virtual bar?


Cathy xx (Nuturestore)

I so agree with you Cathy, I feel very honored to be in the final and to have you wonderful ladies there too makes it oh so much more special.  I have made so many wonderful friends though blogging and count you three ladies right up there at the top.
 
I don't care who wins, we are all winners really, what is fantastic is that who ever it is - it will be a stand up blog and a great example of what a family fun blog should and can be.
 
Good luck to us all and hope to see you on twitter!
 
Love
 
Jen (me)
 

Thank you Cathy. I feel the same. And while obviously I would be honoured to win, I can genuinely say that I would not feel in the least put out to lose to any of you. Which is a very nice situation to be in. See you at the virtual bar!

Victoria xx (Its a small world after all)

I was trying to think of something funny to say that would make you all laugh, and then realise how funny I am (I am really funny) but I couldn't think of anything that didn't make me sound like a complete idiot who was up her own bottom.
 
So instead I shall go for soppy.
 
I was so chuffed when I was named a finalist, but then seeing who my fellow finalists were I did then realise that this wasn't about winning this was about celebration. I love that we all got through to the finals, because all of us are about family fun and its not just one aspect, I think between us we pretty much have the market sewn up!
 
Whoever wins will deserve it and as much as I hope that it is me, I won't mind if it is any of you guys either. Well maybe not you... Anyway I hope that you will all join me in a toast via our email right now to us lovely ladies and to being finalists.
 
Mwah to you all
 
Pips (A Mothers Ramblings)


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Stape – Our Secret Place


I have blogged before about our secret favorite place.  Well we have been back and it was magical as always.

The water was lower and my Niece took a tumble, but all we could here were the birds and the slow, slow trickle of water.
We drank tea from the flask and water and I drunk in the boys playing together, imagination running wild and Enid Blyton childhood I want for them.

Long may it continue.




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Why We Need More Male Primary School Teachers

I spent Thursday night at 9pm glued to BBC2 watching their School season, more specifically Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys.

It highlighted what is a real worry for me the feminising of teaching and the lack of male teachers in our primary schools.  According to a recent piece in the telegraph am only make up 12% of of the teachers in primary schools.

As a mum of two boys I find this a worry statistics and would love for my boys to go to a primary school where the teaching mix was much more appropriate to the society we live in.

We are lucky in the Maxi has a Male teacher for Year 1 and also had a male teacher in Preschool, but there are no more male teachers at the school and there are no male teaching assistants at all.

Why are male teachers important?

I often though that the reason boys and girls were different was due to their upbringing, but being a mum to two boys has been a real eye opener for me. I realise that they are completely wired differently and need different things to girls and I feel that we need to take this in to account when teaching them.

Boys need positive make role models, they need to be able to let off steam.  They need their differences to be embraced, but to be made to learn like girls.


Anyway back to the programme, what struck me so much was that they boys were really engaged, they interacted to Gareth and they were happy.  They were not stuck in some apathetic state.

I spent some time on twitter too and it was amazing the number of people who all agree that we need more male primary school teachers and that boys need a different approach to girls.

I am so looking forward to the rest of the program on Thursday.

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I am on my Way to The Mads, well I will be on Monday


On Monday we will be on our way to Butlins at Bognor Regis for the finals of TheMads 2010, where I am a finalist in the Best Family Fun Blog.


Name: Jen

Blog: www.muminthemadhouse.com

Twitter: @mum_themadhouse

What am I going to be wearing? Clothes, yes, shallow I know, but I have no idea!

I would really like to say thank you to everyone that voted for me and we are all really looking forward to going to Butlins, as we have never, ever been before (and one of Maxi's classmates told him it was better than Disney)!


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The Winds of Change

Change, that words sweeps a world of emotion over me at this time. It makes me feel a little scared, a little worried, a little apprehensive for what will be, for you see my world is turning and changing.  My whole family is experiencing the winds of change.

I have lost my youngest companion, my wonderful Mini to school this week and it is a huge change in my life.

My balance is off, my sense of direction skewed and I am not sure which way I should be facing.

For you see, my child, my wonderful confident, happy child has embraced this change in his life with open arms and gone running in to the unknown to breathe in all he can.  To learn new skills, make new friends, experience new things, to learn to be still in life and to also use the life lessons I have spend the last four years instilling in him.  He makes me proud, proud that he is confident enough in himself to feel the joy of newness.
Maxi too is being stellar about the change from Reception to Year one, which is some ways is harder than the transition Mini is going through from preschool to reception.  Maxi now has a timetable, regular break times and regular lessons throughout the week.  He has more responsibilities within the class structure too.  He is relishing the changes and is enjoying being back at school. 

But for me it is harder, I put on a brave face, a happy front and will not allow them to see my feelings or to pick up on my anxieties, for these are mine not their to be concerned about.

So what of me, well I am trying to put my best foot forward and look at this change as an opportunity.  A beginning, yes the beginning of the new me.  I am still looking for part time paid work (writing, PA, sewing, anything for some extra money), but in the interim I will be going in to school twice a week and baking with the 90 reception class children.  3 children at a time, so hopefully I will have baked with them all by Christmas. 

I am going to be making biscuits with them and some of these children will have never baked before.  Many of them will think that biscuits come from a packet.  We live in Teesside, which is where the BBC predict the public spending cuts to hit hardest.


This post was inspired by this weeks writing workshop over at Sleep is for the week and more speicfically by the work that Sian, Mummy-Tips Josie, Sleep is for the Weak and Eva, Nixdminx  are doing on behalf of Save the Children

Every year almost 9 million children under the age of five die, most of them from preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.

At the end of September Nick Clegg will be at the UN Summit in New York. Ten years ago world leaders set targets, called Millennium Development Goals , to reduce poverty, hunger and disease.  So please sign  the petition to get Nick Clegg to push for commitment to the targets at the UN Summit.  Lets make change happen for the people less fortunate than us.



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My Top Tips for Starting School

I feel like an expert, now I have survived the first four days of both the boys going to school, so I am compiling my top tips for starting school, so I can remember them for next year (oh and look back on them after the each half term break)!


School clothes

I have the boys school clothes hung in their wardrobes in sets and they get them out the night before along with a pair of underpants and socks.  I also get my own clothes out the night before. 

School shoes

I am a big fan of the spray on protector and then we use good old leather polish.  The boys help me clean their shoes every Friday, yes it can be messy but a lot of fun too.

School Bag and Coat

We have hangers at child's eye level and I make the children hang up their coats when the come in from school.  We also have a set place for their book bags too.

Dinner Money

Many schools will accept dinner money, weekly, monthly or on a term by term basis.   I pay monthly, that way I don't have to worry about change every Monday morning.  The same with snack money.

Dates

I swear by my Organised Mum Family Calender, which runs from September until the following December and I love using the stickers that come with it.   I make sure I record the whole school years dates on it as soon as I get them.  I also record class mates birthdays etc the week before they take place so that I get cards and presents sorted.

Exercise, fresh air and sustenance is important after school
I always find that the boys behave pretty well at school (I know I am not sure who they swap them with), but they do need to let off steam afterwards, so I make sure that weather permitting we go home via the park and that I also pack drinks and a snack as the boys are always hungry (but then they are boys).  If it is raining that I will take their wellies and we can puddle jump on the way home.

Sleep, Sleep and More Sleep

I am a sticker for going to bed a decent hour, not only do the boys need their sleep, but I need my down time too.  I had to wake Mini this morning at 7.30, he had been asleep more than 12 hours!

Breakfast

There are studies that have proved that a good breakfast is key to learning.  I have to say I thought I had it covered, as Maxi is a porridge every morning boy, but Mini is another matter, getting him to eat anything is a challenge on a morning!

Don't expect too much after school for the first two weeks.

It is hard to transition back to going to school, so don't expect your children to do much after school for the first couple of weeks.  Be patient and know that they will be tired and ratty.

I would love to hear your top tips for surviving back to school after the holidays.


PS Sorry for the poor picture, Mini stood on my camera!

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Ambling at Amble


Amble is a real gem, a small fishing village on the Northumberland coast, with a brill rocky area, which is great for playing, rock pooling and jumping on and a small secluded beach too.

We had the whole beach and rock area to ourselves and enjoyed a pleasant morning.  I had a great time taking photo's of the rocks, the wonderful amazing patterns that the sea makes on them.  Next time I will be taking paper and crayons to take rubbings of the rocks.



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