I had every intention of regularly updating this blog through the summer, chronicling these long hot days and planning things to keep the boredom away but so far the summer is flying past and I have barely had time to pop on and keep up with blogs I follow, much less post anything of substance. Work is not incredibly busy but I am full time until the end of October so busy or not I am in the office, putting in the time. H also works a lot in the summer and when he has a job on he is out from dawn until after the kids go to bed. We all notice his absence hugely, I am sure I have mentioned this more than once but he really does keep everything going, always. The three of us alone, we cope for about 5 days and then after that it all slowly starts crumbling. I find it so hard to keep up with the house and the kids and work on my own and it really stresses me out. Seeing as more than ever this year one of our main aims is to keep life as stress free as possible he is trying to keep the jobs short but it is not always possible – when you are freelance and working in a seasonal industry you need to grab the work while it is going. Having said all that, we are having a blast. I think we are. The kids are at home when H has no work on but they have had a couple of weeks of summer school (more like day camp than school). Loads of their friends go, they play games, swim and seem to have a load of fun at the time BUT although they went last year and had a blast this year they have been more reluctant. Maybe because it was a bit old hat, maybe it just wasn’t as fun, but they moaned and moaned each morning as if we were sending them off to a 9-5 job rather than splash and play fun. Actually I think at least partly they have just been really tired and like any sane person were not really feeling like happy clappy jumpy excitement at 0900 in the morning. I feel you kids, I feel you. BUT life is real. We need to work, you need to go to childcare, your life could be a million times worse. I know more than a few kids who spend their summer being looked after in stuffy apartments by elderly grandparents. In contrast kids, is it really so bad? IS IT?Let’s reflect, and consider:
*quick note: The fact that it has taken me several hours just to download, rotate, rename and edit the photos from the last month or so should give an idea of how much we have been up to. And that I evidently take FAR too many photos, obviously.
There was a lot going on in July. Apart from various excursions around our home island and outings with friends we had several trips away. One of my sisters lives in Singapore; luckily she gets work trips back at least once a year and we went to visit them the Christmas before last so we haven’t gone too long without seeing each other but when she lived in London we saw each other every few months and I never, EVER, stop missing her. So with 2 weekends free between her work obligations I made a very un-‘me’ decision to go to London to see her, just the two of us, for a couple of nights.
Yeah, ok, the pics are fairly unremarkable. In my defense I was far too busy walking and chatting and hanging out to take too many pictures. And I already have more pictures of London than anyone really needs. But you get the idea. I was there. It’s London, you know what it looks like. No cute snaps of photogenic kids this time so, moving on…
The following weekend I went back with the kids to see my parents, also in the UK, and to catch my sister again on her last weekend before she went home. The timing of my sister’s trip landed quite fabulously on my mum’s 60something birthday so we organised it so she could have all 3 of her girls, and 2 of her grandkids, with her to celebrate. It was so special; the last time we were all together was 2014, so although it was a little extravagant to have 2 trips to London 2 weekends in a row, I TOTALLY justified it to myself. And anyone who would listen long enough. Repeatedly.
We got back from the visit to my parents a day or two before one of my very best friends arrived with her family to stay with us for the week. The weekend after they left was H’s 40th birthday which we celebrated with family and friends on the beach until late. It was absolutely perfect, he didn’t stop smiling all night..
and then – I sprang a surprise holiday on H and the boys – we left for the north of spain the wednesday after the party. He was very surprised, as were the kids. I was more than a little proud of myself for sorting it all AND sitting on the secret for weeks and weeks. For years we have talked about travelling around our home country more but usually all of our holiday time and budget is taken up visiting family and friends in the UK. Yet there is so much we want to see and we really, more than ever, want to start making little spaces in time for the four of us to get out and explore together, just us. Summer is brutally hot here and a perfect time to visit the much cooler, greener north. Last year we celebrated 10 years of marriage and we always thought we would do something special to celebrate. As it turned out I had to do chemo and radiotherapy instead. Them’s the breaks. But now I am fine! and H was turning 40! The stars were aligned. It was absolutely fabulous and worth it a million times over. I think this will deserve its own post.. watch this space.
And in the little moments in between all the other madness:
I feel knackered just thinking we did all of that! It has been such a busy month but so full of family and friends and laughter and joy and love. We spent a lot of money doing it all, not particularly money we have to spare. Usually I am very sensible and cautious and all those other adjectives that can also be translated as BORING but which help us to stay on the straight and narrow and (mortgage aside) largely debt free. It can be stressful juggling our accounts especially with the very unpredictable nature of H’s work and the total lack of work for at least 3 months of the year. So I don’t spend money on big things very lightly. But one of the things my experience of the last year (tl;dr: cancer) has taught me.. (and YES personally I feel it has taught me a shitload; not a universally popular opinion but it is mine and is genuinely how I feel) is the impermanence of things. Not like I didn’t know it before. But now that concept is really REAL to me. I am hyper aware of the uncertainty of tomorrow. Maybe that fades over time, but in a way I kind of hope not. Because I truly think it is a blessing to actually really feel like all we have is the here and now. Of course I plan and hope and dream for a long future. But I want to live NOW. The old me probably would have decided to do only one of those trips to the UK. But my sister lives so far away, I see her so little, in the scheme of things what is a few hundred quid to spend a weekend alone together? My parents won’t be here forever, what cost is it really to let them have all three of their daughters together for a day or two? I don’t think we can remotely understand how nice it is for my parents to have us three all in the same place. Even being a parent I can only imagine the silence and emptiness when my kids eventually leave home and the joy to see them when they return. And even then it is only something I can imagine in relation to my own kids, I find it hard to actually connect that with how my parents feel about me. But they do. My mum cries for days after we leave, and this birthday, as it turned out, she needed the lift more than ever because our darling sweet cat, Sonny, died, only a few days before we arrived. He was originally our cat but for various reasons totally irrelevant to this story he moved in with them about 2.5 years ago. And they loved and adored that cat like a little prodigal son. It was, is, really sad. And I am so so glad we were there to scatter his ashes and hug her tight.
So now we are in August and the summer is halfway through. In another 5 weeks the kids are back at school. I am not sure we have ever had a summer go so fast. So far it is everything I hoped for. At some point there will probably be a post about this dammed heat and how hideous it is and how LONG the summer is and WHEN WILL IT END WILL THESE KIDS EVER GO BACK TO SCHOOL?! But for now I am flying high on the bliss that was July. It truly rocked.
to sign off,a harpist’s song from 1400bc that I saw when we were in the British Museum in London. So apt.
“Follow your heart as long as you live!
Put myrrh on your head.
Dress in fine linen,
Anoint yourself with oils fit for a god,
Heap up your joys,
Let your heart not sink!
Follow your heart and your happiness,
Do your things on earth as your heart commands!
When there comes to you that day of mourning,
the weary hearted (Osiris) hearts not their mourning.
Wailing saves no man from the pit!
Make holiday, Do not weary of it!
And finally. To my darling Sonny. You were an absolute legend and a total weirdo. We all adored you and you will have a place in our heart forever, you should have grown very much older, we all feel cheated that you went so soon.
(no he didn’t die from being massively overweight, he slimmed down rather a lot after his ‘troubled time’ – ssh lets not talk of it)