Author

I'm a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.

All posts by Dean B

In awe of my daughter

“What were you thinking of sweetie, when you were standing there with your medal?” I ask little T as I remembered seeing her looking so small and a bit lost while standing up in front of a huge crowd.

It was her first time to stand in front of more than three hundred people.   She played little Alice in her school play last year, but little T’s village school is a small one. Even with parents and grandparents the crowd was never more than sixty, so yes, this was definitely her first time.

She looked so small and young, standing in front with the other gymnasts waiting for their medals. I tried to catch her attention, but she didn’t see me. She seemed lost in thought, as if she wasn’t even daunted by everyone around her with their cameras, phones and iPads recording every minute of the event.

When they first called her name, I muttered “What?” under my breath. I was standing away from my husband, poised to take photos just like the other parents. We weren’t aware of any award or nomination. But yes, they called out her name again. I saw her coach lead her to the centre. I don’t think T knew about this either.

Admittedly, I wasn’t really happy when they announced that T was included in the exhibition. I felt she wasn’t ready, especially since she only recently joined the development class. We know that she’s the weakest gymnast in their group, being the youngest and the newest, but when we asked the coach, she seemed confident that T could do it. She also missed a few practices. Had she announced that day that she didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t have pushed her.

But she managed the performance. At one point though, she did miss a few steps, but so did the others and the crowd seemed to really like her too. Perhaps it was because she looked so tiny?

My little girl, my little star. She continuous to astonish me with her inner strength of character. Upon first impression, people always see her as the shy one, the reticent one. She’s not the kind who would candidly talk to strangers or grown-ups and tell them what she thinks, unless prodded. But when it comes to standing in front of a crowd, even when she was in reception, she wouldn’t think twice about doing it.

My little girl, my little star. My husband teared up as he watched his daughter perform. As for me, I didn’t realise how nervous I was until I looked at the photos I took of the event. I normally take good photos, but that day, they were just all bad, unfocused, and it was the same with the videos.

This motherhood/parenthood business.  My mother didn’t warn me about how overwhelming it is sometimes.  How you feel that your heart could literally burst out of your chest, because it is so full.  How one tiny little person could just make you feel like the biggest person in the world.   And that’s certainly how we, her parents felt that day.  I am in awe of her.

Finding the Beauty in Ordinary Days

It definitely felt like spring has sprung over the weekend which lasted till Monday.  Never mind if it’s looking grey again today.  But a few days ago, our little family had a lovely time as we worked in the sunshine, trying to reclaim our garden back from the remnants of winter.

T and I started with raking the leaves which should’ve been raked ages ago, but it was always too wet and cold to do it.  But over the weekend it was bliss.  We were all in our element, including Doc and Boots who loved basking in the sun and running on tree branches.  Hopefully she didn’t find any bird’s nests!

For some time now, the husband has been talking about wanting to put wooden borders with shingles for our pots of plants to rest on.  But like I’ve mentioned, the weather hasn’t been really conducive to do anything outside, he finally had his chance!

He started this on a Saturday, by Sunday he had all the wooden boards up, but found out that the shingles he bought wasn’t enough.  We managed to buy more yesterday and it’s all up:

I think he did a grand job!  We’re excited to buy more bedding plants, since the ones in our pots need replanting and even new ones.  There’s still obviously much to do in the garden.  I need to repaint our garden furnitures and hopefully we’ll manage to put up some swings and tick off some of our plans which we made last year when we first moved into the house.  It does take time, doesn’t it?

But over the weekend, it was one of those lovely ordinary days where I savoured each and every single second, bit by bit.  There’s beauty in ordinary days like these.

Relishing the ordinary, the way the sunshine poured through the window making beautiful patterns against our curtains.  The sound of Boots’ bell coming from the trees, hopefully loud enough to warn any birds that a predator is coming.  Little T sitting on the concrete steps eating her little picnic exclaiming “This is the best lunch ever” which consisted of a jam sandwich, apple slices and her a pear flavoured drink.

The way the husband frowned as he hammered a piece of wood into the ground missing his foot just inches away.  Even the sound of Doc’s faint barking which meant he was somewhere in the 500-acre farm land that surrounds our house.

And then later on, the sound of T practicing her cello and my husband and I both smiling, so proud of her, that what our little girl is playing is beginning to sound like good music.  These are the moment I want to freeze forever.

Reality sets in again, and it’s a Wednesday, our house at the moment is surrounded in mist.  Ah well…

Country Kids

You know You’re a Pet Owner When …

I’ve been seeing a lot of “you know you’re a mum” posts lately whether on a blog, a photo on  Instagram or Facebook that I’ve decided to make one for pet owners/parents.

You know You’re a Pet Owner when …

…  your front-door is dirty, especially when it’s been raining outside.  Our door is filthy almost all the time.  I hope our postie doesn’t think we’re slobs.  Our regular one will know, because he’s met Doc.  But not the others, especially couriers.  For the record, we are not slobs, we just have a Doc who likes to clamber all over our front door and kitchen window when he wants to come in and no one is there to let him right away.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You find patches of black fur on your white throw.  I know what you’re thinking, why have a white throw when you have a young kid and pets right?  And I say right back at you, why on earth not?  And yes, I’ll whinge all I want.  If you’ve been reading my little blog for some time now, you might have read somewhere that I like white furniture/furnishings and I refuse to give them up just because I have a small child and pets.  Not to mention finding fur on your clothes!

You know you’re a pet owner when…

Your car is disgustingly dirty and we’re not just talking about the food T and her friends sometimes leave behind especially when we’ve just done a road trip.  I’m talking again of muddy paws all over, especially since the beach is less than a ten-minute drive away, yes, the inside of the car is always covered in sand, mud, muck and all that.  I really ought to give up trying to clean our car.  But at least, I try right?

You know you’re a pet owner when …

The kitchen floor slate floor is always dirty, no matter how you clean it everyday.  Don’t even let me mention the carpet in the rooms or else I’ll never stop.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You find doggie pooh bags or stale treats in your coat pockets along with your daughter’s small toys.  How long has it been there?  How long have we had Doc or T?

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You talk to your pets.  I know people do talk to their pets, but I’m talking about actual conversations.  You say something, pet answers, and yes, it doesn’t matter that you don’t really understand what they’re saying.  Actually you do, with Doc and my husband, they actually have actual conversations with their eyes and eyebrows only.  No words used.  As for Boots and I, you’ll actually hear lots of words, especially from me.  She answers either with her meows or her purring.

But I just fed you!

That was five minutes ago, feed me again now!

You know you’re a pet owner when ….

You have lots of photos of your dog and cat almost as much as your daughter’s.  And your pets and daughter gives you the same exasperated look every time they see you pick up your phone or camera.  Well except Doc.  He gets all excited especially when he sees me pick up my big camera, he knows we’re headed outside to take photos.  He loves that.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You can’t bring yourself to move even though you’ve just decided to get up from the couch, only because your fat cat has decided that she needs your belly for a nap.  That’s it human, stop moving!  I need my beauty sleep.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You have a love-hate relationship with them.  One moment you can’t imagine life without them, the next you’re screaming your head off and threatening to leave them in the middle of nowhere, strangle them, or swap them for a new puppy/kitten.

Life with pets eh?

Anyone looking for a cat or dog?

Email me.

Just kidding.

Am I?

What’s the one thing your pet does that makes you want to throttle them?

ANIMALTALES

A Visit to Wrest Park

It’s been a while since we’ve used our English Heritage membership, but when we visited my in-laws over the half-term break, we finally had the chance to use it.

Wrest Park is a lovely Grade II listed country home in Silsoe Bedfordshire.  The facade actually reminded me a bit of Napoleon’s ostentatious Château de Compiègne in France which we visited a couple of years ago, although of course, not as grand and garish, the gardens though is equally beautiful.

Since it was half-term break, we took little T’s cousin K with us so they could spend more time together.

The girls were not as impressed with the staircase as they were with the painting on the ceiling.

The sitting room, although they really should’ve called this the cherubim room, since you could find them in every corner.  I’m not a big fan of these chubby little angels, so I zoned out when the guide started pointing them out to the girls.  Surprisingly, T turned out to be disinterested in them too.

I found the Victorian conservatory really interesting though, too bad it wasn’t open to the public.

During World War II, Wrest Park was used as a convalescent home for injured soldiers.  I can imagine this was one of the rooms used for their patients.  Can you imagine recuperating in a room with such big windows and lovely views from outside?

The girls of course were itching to go outside.  It was a lovely day and almost felt like Spring has come and so we decided that the day was too beautiful to spend it indoors.

The grounds did not disappoint …

So much to see and do.

After walking for at least an hour, we decided it was time for some lunch at the cafe via the orangery.

The girls went wild inside the empty orangery, running around and shrieking like loonies …

I laughed when I saw these two statues on the facade of building.  They look like they were actually holding their heads as if they have a headache.  I don’t blame them, the girls shrill voices must have done that to them.

It was fun though.

Do visit Wrest Park if you’re in the area.

It’s so worth it.

Country Kids

It’s all Quiet Here

Shh.

The crowd has left, leaving their small-talk and whisperings with them.  It’s all quiet here.  The silence is deafening but comforting too.  I’d like to say I’ve stripped off my mask but there isn’t any thing to remove.  I’m still the same.  I’ve always been the same.  Like I keep saying, if you find it boring here, I’m afraid that’s what it really is like.  I’m not going to feign excitement, or controversy just to be noticed.  It’s too taxing.

I’ve noticed cobwebs forming in corners, I keep meaning to clean them, but keep forgetting, until this afternoon, I finally picked up that duster and dusted away.

Do cobwebs make noise?

It’s amazing how spiders can do such intricate work in silence.  Even the most celebrated author makes noise while typing away their masterpieces, even if they scribbled, in the silence, you would hear the jotting down of a pen or pencil on paper.  With an artist, I can imagine them making noises too as they go about painting their masterpieces, but spiders?  They are quiet creatures aren’t they?  Weaving their circuitous obra maestras in complete silence and then the humans come and ruin them in one swish of their dusters.

Life is brutal.

•••

It’s my daughter’s half-term break next week.  I better not forget to switch off the school-run alarm.  Here’s to lie-ins!  I forget, we are visiting my in-laws.  There goes my lie-ins.  Sigh.

Life is indeed brutal.

Evidence of Spring

I’m cold as soon as I get up in the morning.  I’m missing our warm-terraced house in Bos.  This 400-year-old detached house surrounded by farmland, although lovely, is bloody too cold!  As soon as T is eating breakfast, I dive back into the duvet before jumping out again and helping her get ready for school.  I’ve had enough of this cold weather.  I’m desperate for the warmth and the sun, while summer is far off, I’ll settle for spring.

We had a burst of good weather last Sunday and the husband took this opportunity to chop off the tree that fell a few days ago because of really strong winds last week, although it was cold, I decided to join him and T out for some fresh air.   I also took my camera out to take some photos:

T had fun jumping in her trampoline.  She hasn’t played out here in awhile.

Wearing her current favourite jumper in the world.

I was so pleased to see so much green coming around, a cheery contrast to the drabness of the winter trees.  It made me happy to find spring flowers finally sprouting out in our garden.

And who doesn’t love snowdrops?

As you can see, there’s a snowdrop reunion happening on the side of our house.  Aren’t they the loveliest?

I think spring is slowly creeping in in spite the cold weather.

What’s your favourite spring flower?

I love snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils.

What about you?

Spring: Is it here yet?

I don’t know about other people, but winter, especially after the Christmas madness, I tend to fold-in and turn introspective (Although I’m sure if my husband gets to read this he’ll say “but you’re always introspective Dean!)

Can you blame me?  Coming from a tropical country where it’s warm and sunny everyday, of course, we do get the grey clouds too, especially when it rains, but it never lasts unlike here in England.

The the changing of seasons, while it is beautiful, always has an affect on me.  I try to ride it and just go with the flow, mindful that the greyness and drabness isn’t permanent, that it’s only temporary.  You would think that after almost a decade of living here, I’d be an expert now.  I think though, I’m getting better, my skin is thicker.

And it isn’t really that bad really, while January is awful, here in Cornwall, even though it’s only the first day of February, I can see evidence of spring coming already.  The bulbs are slowly coming up and the days are getting longer.  We no longer drive T to her gymnastics class at 5pm in the dark.

The bright days are coming and the thought of it makes me feel giddy!  The flowers will bloom soon.  The trees will get their leaves in abundance back.  All the colours, different hues will spring everywhere.  What’s not to like?  Are you excited too?

Conversations with my Daughter: What did you do today mum?

she likes to ask as she gets home from school…

Well, I begin.  I tell her about this online Spanish for beginners short-course I’m doing for the month of January.  I don’t mention that in the past I’ve taken a similar beginners course, twice, but not online, in an actual language school, but never managed to finish because I then had a full-time job.  Yes, this was before my life as a mum began and I actually had a “career”.  Hopefully, I’ll manage to finish this course this time.

What else mum?  She’ll say.  She always says that, bless her little heart.  I look at her eager face and try to read it.  There is genuine interest, she really wants to know what her poor old mother has been doing.

Then I give her a litany of all the chores I’ve done for the day.

Did you blog?  I reply I haven’t done much blogging lately.  Thankfully she doesn’t ask why and let’s it go.  I turn the question around and ask her what her day was like.  She’s a sweet little girl, my T.

***

I was helping my husband put up T’s old small shelf in the kitchen to use as a spice rack. He asked me to check something, I said I couldn’t reach it.  The husband started giggling, I snapped at him and said “Are you laughing at me?” He nodded his head and added “but with love“.

T chimes in “Let’s celebrate!”

Why?  I grumpily asked.

“Lets celebrate love!”

Indeed.

Little Hearts, Big Love

The World Has Gone Bonkers Again …

That’s being over-dramatic I know.  At the moment though, that’s what it feels like.  You daren’t sleep, if you do, you’ll wake up to find out something dreadful has happened again.  That the world and its different countries are being ruled by mad men.  (My country back home in the Philippines is certainly being run by a jokester).  Men who have been … yes, voted to power by disgruntled, disillusioned people who think that their anointed saviour will redeem them.  While Pope Francis says that it’s too early to judge American President Trump, he warns about the rise of populism:

Crisis provoke fear, alarm.  In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933.

Germany is broken, looking to get itself going, looking for its identity, a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says “I can. I can”.

And all of Germany votes for Hitler.  Hitler didn’t steal power, he was elected by the people, and then he destroyed his own people.  This is the danger.

A week after that interview with the Pope, all hell breaks loose in American airports as many people are barred from entering the US, all because of their country of origin.  Trump signs a refugee ban on Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Has he forgotten that political slogan “Never Forget”?

Excuse me while I try to breathe …

Conversations with a Six-Year-Old

Of Building Walls and Twisters

On our way home from T’s ballet class last Saturday she announced “Let’s have a family talk!”  Okay” agreed my husband, switching the radio off.  “What do you want to talk about?”

I suggested that maybe we should talk about our summer holiday, since the husband and I previously talked about it, especially since looks like our plans of going home to the Phil isn’t going to happen this year.  We are weighing our options.

We love doing road-trips.  Our first road-trip as a family was done when T just turned one, we drove all the way from Cornwall, around England visiting friends and some places we’ve never been, all the way to a tiny village called Dalavich in Arglle and Brute in Scotland.  It was bliss.

Then a few years ago, we drove all the way from Cornwall to France and Belgium, but used a Eurocamp in France as our base, as we took T to Disneyland and Paris.

Going back to T, we’re thinking of doing another road-trip in Europe or maybe this time going by train since we’ve never done it before.  The other choice is visiting family and friends in America.

Is he going to kill us?

It took awhile for us to figure out who “he” is.  We explained that he may be a lot of things, but he isn’t a murderer.

But is he going to let us in?

The husband said “There’s no reason why he shouldn’t.

But he said he’s going to build a wall!

Again we explained that “he” was going to build a wall between America and Mexico.  Thank goodness she dropped the subject when she realised that Baby Alive dolls came from the States and that made her excited about a possible trip there.

Then over the weekend, she suddenly became interested in twisters.  My husband showed her videos online of twisters and of course, most of these videos happened in the States.  She was mesmerised by them.

Do we have twister here in England?

Nope, at least not the kind they get in America.

Maybe we shouldn’t go to America then, T said.

On Religion

T and I are Catholics, although admittedly, I’m the non-practicing kind (much to the disappointment of my mother).  My husband on the other hand, is a Baptist, between him and I, he’s more the church-going type.

A few days ago T announced …

I believe in God, mum, not the big-bang.

Oh but God made the big-bang.

What about God then?

Did he come out of nowhere?

He’s like magic isn’t he?

T said the last words looking really impressed, although I wasn’t sure whether the idea of God as magic impressed her or whether she was impressed with herself with the way she came up with her own conclusion.  Kids eh?

Little Hearts, Big Love