Mini Banksy

When I became a parent I knew that I would always make sure my children experience and appreciate the arts. Music, theatre, literature and dance are all so important to me and formed a huge part of my childhood so I’d like Gabriel and Willow to learn about creativity and enjoy considering their own! With this in mind, I make sure that they both have access to an array of paints, crayons and colouring pencils because I know that self-expression is important. After all, as toddlers I hope that Gabriel and Willow will be able to communicate their feelings about things that they see, do and want through drawing and art. I also hope that through learning to draw and colouring they will also both learn how to concentrate better too, which is an important skill for life!

However, I am not very artistic when it comes to drawing. Growing up I was always jealous of my brother Kev’s ability to draw pretty much anything with ease. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, I did. I just couldn’t (and still can’t) get the image I see in my head, on to the paper! Regardless of this issue I quite enjoyed Art lessons at school, even though I was terrible at it! I think the reason for this was that I always felt free to create what I pleased, no strict rules or barriers. It was also great form of personal expression, perfect for those teenage-angst-obsessing-about-Damon-Albarn years.

I also think it’s important that the kids have an outlet so I sometimes worry that colouring books could restrict their ability to be imaginative and perhaps be less experimenting with their ideas, so I rarely buy colouring books. I much prefer to give them paper and crayons and pencils and allow their creative independence to shine through. Of course this much depends on the child and their capability but it’s a method I will stick to for now because art is about experimenting, discovering and trying out new methods- being free to nourish the soul!

Both Gabriel and Willow seem keen to draw and genuinely appear happy whilst drawing. They’ve learned colours, shapes and also how to hold the pencil correctly, definite fine motor skills building! Whilst both kids enjoy to draw, it is Willow in particular who has wanted to express herself of late and so I thought I would share with you a few of her recent pieces.

Introducing.. The Wall

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And my personal favourite.. The Scary Doll

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As you can see, Willow has certainly released her creativity. I asked her why she had drawn on the wall, rather than be cross- because as annoying as it was, I found it quite amusing really! She replied that it was not her,in fact, absolute denial! I like to think that this is because she wants to showcase her work under a pseudonym, perhaps Mini Banksy? Rather than a blatant lie to avoid being in trouble..

The doll was a different story, Willow just appeared with it from the playroom and handed it to me saying ‘Dolly got make up on Mummy’ All I could do was laugh, perhaps all the times she has sat and watched me apply my make up influenced the incident! But in all seriousness, as adults we don’t know what our children’s intentions are. I think it is a good idea to talk about what your child is drawing and where they are drawing because it shows interest, not everything that they want to express can sometimes be said in words or actions! So I will just take the hit on this one, I have painted over the damage and moved on. The doll unfortunately I feel may never move on after her ‘makeover’! I won’t be removing crayons or paint from Willow’s reach though- after all, a spiral of colours likely means she is happy, even if they are all over a scary looking doll’s face.

So let your child grab a crayon or a pen whenever they please, just make sure you give them stacks of paper..

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Menorca Sunshine Fun!

We’ve been back home from our little break in the sun for a couple of weeks now, but I have been so busy I’ve not had the chance to share some of my favourite holidays photographs with you!

We had a fantastic week and we were really lucky with the weather too which was great! It was also nice to return back to gorgeous weather in the UK too, but typically that didn’t last long and we were soon back to the chilly weather our country loves to provide us with, this was no issue though, just adding a camisole under clothing meant keeping warm and still showing off my tan for a week or so!

The plane journey was eventful but also quite amusing however once we landed in Menorca I felt relaxed straight away! The sunshine was awesome to feel on my skin as I’ve not been abroad since we visited Mexico in 2012 – I’ve missed sunny holidays!

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We stayed in an absolutely beautiful villa in Cala’n Bosch. My lovely Mum located it and it was perfect. I especially liked the outdoor eating area overlooking the pool and this is where we spent a lot of time, eating tasty lunches, chatting and drinking wine!

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As soon as we arrived at the villa we decided to jump into the pool! The kids were really excited and Willow of course, ensured she was looking as stylish as possible! Throughout the week my Mum also treated the kids to various pool toys, including mini lilos and a rather cool dinghy boat!

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Gabriel and Willow are normally pretty close, most likely due to their eighteen month age gap, but during the week it was lovely to see them play together a lot more. They spent a lot of their time holding hands, cuddling and announcing they were ‘best friends’. It was so so cute! They both also absolutely loved the beach especially building sand castles, playing football, paddling in the sea and of course, eating huge ice creams that melted all over them in seconds!

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We ate out every night and I had some really nice meals, especially the vegetarian paella! It was especially great to spend time chatting with Mum, Mark and my Grandma over a bottle of wine in the sunshine! After each meal we were given shots of schnapps and Menorca’s herbal liqueur (I am still not sure about this stuff..) my Grandma seemed to enjoy these and certainly lives up to her nickname ‘knock em back Mary’! We also took a few selfies along the way, much to my Grandma’s amusement!

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We also visited the local waterpark and had so many laughs there and those memories I will treasure forever! It was a lot of fun taking it in turns to ride on the adult slides, especially when Mark almost killed me on the double dinghy slide as we flipped over and landed awkwardly- all whilst my Mum stood on the edge of the pool laughing at us!

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We had seen a few people local to the villa hiring bikes during the first few days and so when Mum and I spotted a buggy big enough for us all to ride we jumped at the chance to hire it. It was tough going with a hangover and 28 degree heat- plus who knew Cala’n Bosch was so hilly?!! But we had a lot of fun regardless. We stopped for ice cream in the afternoon which seemed to give us all enough energy to pedal home.. Until we reached a huge hill and almost crashed into the land train..

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The day before we’d had a ride on said land train, we had laughed at the cyclists, so we probably deserved our comeuppance! The train was fun, not that it went anywhere in particular, just a round trip around the resort but it was something nice to do with the kids one morning!

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So yeah, we all had a wonderful holiday which mostly involved eating tasty Spanish food, drinking Spanish wine, sampling ice cream flavours then burning it all off running about at the water park and cycling! The holiday really was just what we needed after the last year. The sunshine really helped me clear my head, forget about work and return home with a new outlook, especially about plans for the kids and myself. (Although I’m not sure how I’m going to convince Willow to lose the sunglasses?!!) But anyway, now we are all refreshed- we are ready to rock!

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Every Cloud

It was Willow’s first ever flight on Friday. She coped really well and seemed to enjoy the experience- her very own seat, a Peter Rabbit comic and eating cookies all kept her entertained and she didn’t moan once. However, in pure comedy timing she did decide just as we were hitting the runway to do a huge poo which leaked ALL over her seat..

Willow’s unfortunate incident meant I sat giggling to myself- but I realised I had no one next to me to share the moment, to laugh with and also to deal with the practical side of sorting the issue! It didn’t matter because I dealt with it by myself just fine, and my family of course laughed with me afterwards, but my life is definitely different now!

After cleaning up the mess the best I could, I was forced into the window seat on the plane and as I looked out of the window I started thinking about life and how quickly things can change for us but also about just how quickly we adapt. Sometimes by choice and sometimes not. I looked at the clouds and their surrounding blue skies and realised I was excited. Finally I had something to look forward to, something that I knew I could make fun, relaxing and enjoyable! Some distance between me and my ridiculously busy work diary and creating some clarity about where I want to be and how I intend to get there. The plan, or our plan isn’t finalised just yet- because I’m not sure of the finer details but, I am starting to make decisions which will mould the rest of our lives and for a change, it feels good to be in control.

Previously I’ve always liked a certain level of control. I like to plan for free time and holidays/days out etc (and I also enjoy being a little bossy sometimes!) But in more recent years, I haven’t enjoyed this. I liked making joint decisions, having back up and not always having to be the person that needed to think about things as a whole whether it be on a practical or emotional level. It’s wonderful of course, having someone there to support, talk to and help you get where you need to be. But what about when there isn’t that person? Well, I’ve realised you still get there- to the same place. It just takes a little longer and it’s all about allowing yourself that bit of extra time!

The point of this blog is about silver linings. Change isn’t always bad, it’s not always good either, but in life it’s something we have to deal with. I suppose when I consider the plus points, some of the changes that have occurred in our lives have been great in many ways. Being a single parent I can make decisions myself, I can go and go where I want and do what I please! My relationships with others have genuinely improved and I now seem to have more time (and I make more time) to talk to my wonderful friends and family. This is something I used to reserve for one person. But what I’ve learned is, actually it’s useful to trust and talk to a few close friends and family. It often makes situations clearer. I also now have to THINK about what I want to do, and how to do it. Not that I didn’t before, but it’s liberating, and I have a feeling of being free.

Family wise, I’ve become so much closer to my parents and their respective spouses. They have supported us emotionally, helped practically and also made me feel loved; I cannot thank them enough. My relationship with Gabriel and Willow has changed. We are so amazingly close now, and it’s awesome. We’ve always been close but now we are even closer. We laugh so much at home, we play, we read and we cuddle. It’s lovely to spend so much uninterrupted time with my children and being the only adult there means we can do as we like!

I also have more time to myself. This is a difficult one to admit, but I am enjoying having time to myself. Time which I haven’t had for years. I feel like ‘me’ again. I’ve reunited with old friends, met new friends and I feel like I’ve been able to socialise in a way that I never have previously. I do feel a little like a terrible mother for admitting this, but I’ve also realised that it is this time that I have away from the kids that is making the time we do have together more special, and absolutely more fun!

It’s taken months, perhaps even having the break away from normality to realise all these positives. Of course not cloud does have a silver lining but it’s important to try see one. It’s not obvious, but sometimes you just have to be ready to notice it. Now I am ready for our next chapter, and the fun, happiness and changes it will bring and I will always treasure the moment and laugh to myself when I think about the day that Willow shouted at the top of her voice on a packed, quiet plane, ‘Mummy I’ve done a pooooo! I’ve done a poooo on a PLANE!’ Brilliant.

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