Tag: family

The End of an Era

baby with grandmother

I’m lucky I have lovely in-laws whom I’m really genuinely fond of.  We get on well together.  We can sit in a room and chat, or sit quietly together each busy with a book in hand.  When we go out, we like pottering in bookshops and garden centers without getting bored.  They also religiously visit and stay with us in Cornwall every summer for at least a week and also come  down and spend Christmas with us, I’m afraid though that, that is about to end.

As I type this, they are down stairs in the lounge reading their books. When they stay with us, we gladly give up our bedroom for them.  This visit though, they opted to stay in the lounge where we have a sofa bed.  The reason for this is because my mother-in-law now struggles with going up the stairs.

They are well into their mid 80s now and are used to living in an old people’s home where they have their own flat.  It really saddened me when they announced that they weren’t coming over for Christmas.  They didn’t say that this was going to be their last visit, but sadly, my husband thinks that is the case, though I’m really hoping that he is wrong.  If he is, then we’re going to have to just come on over then and visit them (which we do anyway), but it’s also nice having them around for a visit.

I don’t really like the word “end” or “endings, who does anyway?  American Sci-fi writer Frank Herbert (known for writing the famous novel Dune) once said:

There is no real ending.  It’s just the place where you stop the story.

I’d like to make my own version of that quote:

There is no real ending.  It’s just the place where you stop the story and pick up another one.

Here is the story then.  A lovely elderly couple who used to visit their son and his family down in Cornwall has now decided to turn the table.  Their son and his family will now visit them regularly.

 My word of the week: In-laws

What about you?  Are you also close to your in-laws if you have one?

Do share.

The Reading Residence

My Malibu

I find it a bit surreal to think about my life before I had little T, before I met my husband, before moving to a little village by the sea in England.  But yes, I did have a life – an altogether different one.

I had a job I really loved and enjoyed doing. Writing for children’s educational television was a joy, it hardly felt like a job at all and getting paid for it seemed sacrilegious. Of course at that time, it didn’t seem like that at all to me.  I probably at one point or another, wanted to get paid more!

Anyway, I also lived alone.  I was renting a two-bedroom apartment not far from where I worked.  Let me edit that, I wasn’t living alone.  I lived with Malibu.

Malibu is a Jack-a-poo (Jack Russel x poodle).  My best friend gave her to me when she was about 6 months old.  We lived together, Malibu and I.  She slept on my bed and when I went off to work, she was always there by the door, waiting for me.  I was hers and she was mine.

She was very protective and even possessive of me.  Every time my mother would visit and stay the night, Malibu used to growl at her whenever she would join me in bed.

And then things changed, life happened.  I had to leave for Africa.  I gave up my work and apartment and had to make a decision on what to do with my companion, my friend, my family – Malibu.  We were a unit, Mali and I.

It wasn’t really a difficult decision actually.  I left her with my sister, who was then finishing her University degree and was living in a house where she could easily accommodate her.  She loved Mali and Malibu loved her too.

Then life happens.  Malibu for a while lived happily with my parents, along with our other numerous dogs.  She moved a lot amongst my siblings who all love her.  For a while I was worried that she was feeling neglected , abandoned and passed around.  But I’m happy to share with you good folks, that she is now in her forever home with my brother and his wife who has accepted her in their family of 2 dogs (one of which is actually Malibu’s daughter) and 3 cats.

As some of you may know, we’ve spent the whole summer vacation visiting family and friends back home in the Phil.  It was lovely to be with Malibu again when we stayed over with my brother and his wife.  For a while, I was wondering, does she know who I am?  Does she remember that we used to live together?  I hope she does.

It was also interesting to “introduce” Malibu to Little T.  Admittedly though, she seemed a bit grumpy with T and even barked at her when T was being too rowdy.  Well, Malibu is after all nearly 10.  I guess a noisy, over-excited 5 year-old is now just way too much for her.

I don’t think of Malibu as mine anymore.  When we move back to the Phil sometime in the future, I don’t of course expect her to live with us.  She now belongs with my brother and his family.  But she will always be special to me.

ANIMALTALES

What about you?

Have you left behind a pet before?

Meet Dobbin, the 120-year-old Rocking Horse

If you’ve been following my blog from the very beginning, you might have seen photos of old Dobbin like on this post here.

The story is, my husband’s grandfather bought Dobbin the rocking horse in 1929, when his dad was only about a few months old.  It was second-hand and needed a lot of repair, which his grandfather did, so we don’t really know whether it is Victorian or Edwardian, my husband thinks he is about 120 years old!

Little T’s dad has loads of memories riding him and stuffing his mouth with cake his Nana had baked for them.  She was a great cook, but not much of a baker, so her cakes were really (in my husband’s own words) “rock-hard-solid”.

And now it’s actually nice to know that he is very much loved by little T, who thankfully doesn’t stuff his mouth with cake I’ve made, or at least I haven’t caught her doing it yet!

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As you can see, he is huge and heavy!  He must weigh a ton.  I often wonder about his first owners.  They must have been rich kids, because when rocking horses first came out, they were made specifically for people with money.  The ones who didn’t have much, I’m afraid wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

It must have been then given to someone, and that someone, passed it on to someone, before ending up in a second-hand shop which little T’s great-grandfather ended up buying Dobbin for his own son and now his great-grandaughter enjoys riding him and she does it really well!  My mother-in-law once said, that she’s never seen her other grandchildren ride Dobbin the way little T does.  She likes to pretend she’s off on an adventure, and when her other little friends come over, they ride him too.

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And it’s not just them, when little T is away, her other toys like to ride him too and go off in their own adventures.

In spite his age, Dobbin, the 120 year old rocking horse, can still ride like the wind!

Linking this post up with Sonya (The Ramblings of A Formerly Rock n Roll Mum) and Keynco’s Oh You Pretty Things (Heirloom Tradition).  Do click on the logo, to see what the others are up to.

Keynko
 Do you have any heirlooms in your family?

Memories of my Father

My Dad wasn’t your typical Dad.  Maybe because he had me and my older brother at a really young age.  They both just graduated from University when they had us.  They were like kids playing grown-ups with two young children, which wasn’t really bad at all – I remember loads of fun and laughter.

Holy Week was serious business in my maternal grandmother’s house.  Us kids weren’t allowed to be boisterous during the Holy Days, even though we weren’t really expected to take part in the fasting and praying, playing noisily was a big no-no.  My Dad knew how miserable we were, so he used to take us to the beach with our other cousins and there we were made to run around and scream like loonies as loud as we can.

He took us camping and also built us a tree-house and his version of a Wendy house for me.  During the week though, we hardly saw him because he was busy playing grown-up and was working like any regular Dad with a 9-5 job, which always extended till late at night.  But during the weekends, he always took us to parks and played football with us.  Once in a while, he would even take us to listen to his friends sing at a Folk House near our home.

He was (is) a very intelligent man who was a scholar all through-out his schooling and graduated of course, with honours.  I inherited my love of books from him – he was (is) never without a book.  He was the only Dad I knew who answered all your questions without even thinking much.  We used to call him a walking dictionary/encyclopaedia.  We were taught English at a very young age and would mix it with Tagalog or our local dialect which used to exasperate him.  He would tell us to use one language at a time and speak it properly.  He said it was important not to ruin the language by speaking Taglish (a combination of English and Tagalog).  If we were to speak English, to speak English only.  If we were to speak Tagalog, speak Tagalog only – never to mix.

He was a hippy, who cut his hair and traded in his sandals for leather-shoes, as expected of a “responsible” Dad.  But now that he is retired, I’m happy to say that he has traded back in his sandals and has grown his hair long again, even though it is now more white than grey – much to the embarrassment of my mother.

The last time my daughter saw my Dad, she was only about five months old.  Yes, she does see him and speak to him whenever we Skype.  I wonder what she thinks sometimes Who is this man with long-white hair and whom my mother insists I call Lolo?  He is rather funny.  Yes, my Dad also has a weird sense of humour.

Happy Father’s Day Dad – I really miss you!

and

Happy Father’s Day too to my daughter’s Dad!

She is one lucky little girl to have him as a Dad.

I’m a lucky woman too

to have my Dad as my Father =)

June Chat with a Dad: The Secret Father

Here in the UK, Father’s Day is celebrated on the 16th of June, so in honor of Dads, instead of doing my monthly Chats with Moms, I’ll be doing a June Chat with a Dad instead.  And my first feature is a really cool and funny Dad who is known in the blogosphere as the Secret Dad.  If you want to know more about him, read on and then head off to discover the secret life of this Dad on his blog.

Tell us something about yourself and your little one(s).

My professional life has largely been as an emergency humanitarian aid worker (which means I get deployed in international disasters like floods and earthquakes). When I was much younger I did some incredible jobs such as working on a farm (superb), working in a high performance car manufacturing business (brilliant) and on the conveyor belts at a chicken factory (cold).

My three favourite people on the world

My three favourite people in the world.

My daughter is 3 and my son is 15 months. They are both incredible and quite different personalities. I love them both dearly, and differently. My daughter is a force of nature – beautiful, charming, charismatic, funny and loving at best. And at worst a screaming banshee of emotional turmoil. My son on the other hand is a chilled out little soul, perfectly content to play on his own for hours on end. He is so quiet we often forget where he is. In fact where is he…….?

What was your little one(s) birth story(ies) like?

I am actually in the process of writing a blog about the birth of our first, my daughter, because it was such an incredible experience. The arrival of my son was a very different affair. My wife went into labour on Boxing Day and had a beautiful, straightforward water birth. It was such a calm experience after the craziness of my daughter’s birth. I often wonder if these birthing experiences had an impact on their early personalities (see above).

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

That it would be really hard work. I mean REALLY hard work. I actually doubt that there is anything that could have truly prepared me for how challenging it can be – except perhaps for attaching a pneumatic drill, with no off switch, to my hip and carrying that around for 4 years.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

With great difficulty. While I am in the UK I have become better at keeping my work hours fairly reasonable so I can be back in time to get the dinner ready / help with the dinner, play with the kids and take them through the bedtime routine.

However I travel a lot with work and that is a real process of negotiation between my wife (who also has a professional career), my company and the rest of the family.  This leaves very little time for me, which if I am being honest I often do find hard to reconcile.

How do you manage to arrange child-free time with your wife/partner? Do you have date-nights?

While having children cemented our relationship and bought us closer together in many ways, having children has also negatively impacted on our relationship in many other ways.

There is often little opportunity to connect in ways that we used to. A lot of our day to day conversations are very pragmatic and centre on logistics and planning. We rarely have time to check in with each other on an emotional level and talk about hopes, fears and dreams like we used to. Sleep deprivation can be tough for everyone too, and it can make the smallest things seem like major obstacles.

However, we are just starting to get out again now that the little one is a little older. Up until recently we hadn’t been out together on our own for about 2 years. The thing is I found that I didn’t really want to. By the time I was getting any spare time, I was just using it to catch up on jobs around the house, personal admin or simply catching up with sleep.

Recently though we went out to a rock concert together which was great and we have found a trusted babysitter, so we are hoping to get out some more in future.

Any favourite anecdotes about your little one(s)?

I am generally a pretty good, organised and hands on father, with strong emotional intelligence that can cook for, look after and nurture his kids.

However…..

My favourite anecdote is describing the look on my wife’s face when she walked into the room after a calming and reflective week away on a residential leadership course.

She came home (unplanned and hours early I must add) to find toys, cushions and books strewn everywhere. She came in to find my daughter head first in the laundry basket, cackling and laughing as she was throwing clothes out all over the floor. She came in to see my son screeching and head banging the wall to relieve teething pain. She saw me burning dinner in the kitchen. The smoke alarm was going off. The room was thick with smoke.

Even though I was in the middle of it, the look at my wife’s face made me realise that to her it probably looked and sounded like a war zone. Her face was a picture, and to this day it still makes me laugh to think about that.

What is it about fatherhood you love?

I love the moment I walk into the house after a trip away or a day at work.

My daughter will be the first to come running, arms pumping furiously, huge dimpled smile, curly hair bobbing. She will crash into my knees, sticking like a limpet to my legs and screaming with joy.

My little man will come crawling soon after, head down, hands slapping on the floor, little bottom waddling like a duck, big gummy grin, squealing with happiness, arms outstretched imploring for a hug.

I literally get bowled off my feet with a tide of pure, sticky joy.

It is at these moments that I’m reminded that fatherhood is the most important job in the world.

It is these moments that I want to last forever.

If there’s anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

I dislike having lost my old self; the old me who used to stay fit and healthy playing soccer three times a week; the old me who used to cycle everywhere; the old me who used to go running; the old me who always had time for people; the old me who used to be so spontaneous and carefree; the old me who used to be an excellent friend, son, husband and brother.

I guess it is about coming to terms with the death of my old lifestyle and the old me. I have read that you need to set time aside to mourn the passing of your old self when you have children, and equally set time aside to celebrate your new role as a parent; and I think that is true.

However I still have to come to terms with the fact that the old me has gone now. In truth it has taken a lot of time for my own expectations, and those of others close to me, to adjust to this new reality – the reality of fatherhood.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-dad would you take it?

I love my kids, really I do, but no, I couldn’t do that, not at the moment. It would drive me insane! I wouldn’t rule it out in the future though and I would like to reduce the hours I currently work, so I get to spend a little more time with them

Best advice you’ve ever received about fatherhood/parenthood?

The best advice I ever heard, and would like to share back is simply to trust your instincts. By all means read books and listen to advice and opinion, but at the end of the day there is no one who knows your child like you do. You are THE world expert on your child. That is a powerful and empowering statement, when you think about it.

I also wanted to share the best thing I ever heard about being a parent. As an eternal pragmatist (and optimist) I know this following statement may sound a little pessimistic (to some readers) but it truly spoke to something inside of me.

“Neither the good times, nor the bad times, will last”

That statement has got me through some pretty dark times, particularly around the arrival of my second child, when I was getting NO sleep and my day job was becoming incredibly stressful. It helped me reflect that it wasn’t forever and that it was just a phase. I saw light at the end of the tunnel when I accepted this.

And it has also been good to reflect on this statement during the lovely times, when everything is perfect, because it has helped me to live in the moment, take nothing for granted and enjoy everything while I can, while it lasts.

If you could give yourself advice before becoming a dad what would it be?

Quite practically I think it would be to give my first child (my daughter) a little more space, and to pay attention to her body language with a little more mindfulness. It was only after 3 months that I started to realise she was giving me important information through her body language.

Up until that point we had struggled with what we thought was a colic-y, temperamental, emotional child. In hindsight, we probably misread a lot of her cues, and she might have simply been tired. We (think we) got it right with number two though……..

Also a key reflection is probably that I should have liked to have become a father a little earlier. At 38 I was quite old to be a first time father and it breaks my heart to think my father never met either of my two little ones (he died just before my daughter was born). I know he would have loved them, and they would have loved him.

I also would have liked to have become a father a little earlier because not only would I have been able to deal with the lack of sleep much better (I had incredible stamina in my late twenties and early thirties) but I realise that my time with them is precious, and I want to spend as long on this planet with them as possible.

You can connect with The_Secret_Father via twitter or email

The_Secret_Father@Hotmail.com

Or check out The_Secret_Father blog for more tongue in cheek posts and musings on modern fatherhood.

Thank you so much The Secret Father!

May Chat with a Mom: Cristina Delakovias

We all have our go-to person, someone who has known us for ages, someone who probably knows us more than we do.  Best friends – that’s what they are called.  And mine is this woman, whom I love dearly like a sister.  In our early twenties, we used to talk about being mothers, how much we wanted to have our children.  But her gynaecologist once told her that it was unlikely that she’d ever have kids of her own and now she’s a mother.  This just goes to show that – don’t accept as gospel everything that someone has told you, even if that someone is a doctor.  You have to keep believing.  You have to have faith.
Meet Loukas, my god son.  My best-friend’s little miracle.
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Tell us something about yourself, your little one (age & sex).

I’m originally from the Philippines, came to America 6 years ago in search of a new adventure in my life. In that 6 years I managed to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation, my second degree (first one was Fine Arts), get married and have a baby.

I was told by my obgyn a long time ago, that because of my condition, I will never be able to get pregnant naturally, without any medical help.  My Loukas proved her wrong.

So my little one was the biggest surprise in my life….literally big because he was a 9 pound baby. Loukas my son just turned 1.

Your child’s birth story: What was it like?

When I found out I was pregnant I knew exactly what I wanted …. a natural birth with no shots, medicine, especially no epidural. I had two doulas, a midwife and my iPod filed with meditating music and exercises for a hypno-birth. I never dilated enough and after three days of painful labor pains I developed a high fever and my baby’s heart rate went down and had to have a c-section. It was a very exhausting and emotional experience. I will never forget the panic I felt when I didn’t hear him cry after they pulled him out of me. They had to revive him and I was so relieved when he finally gave a little cry. Will never forget that feeling and beautiful experience of meeting my little miracle for the first time.

What you wish you knew about being a Mom before becoming one.

I wish I knew how hard it would be. I’ve always heard mothers say it, but never knew the level of it until now. I’ve learned you have to be prepared physically, emotionally, mentally and most importantly, is to have support from family and friends.

How do you manage “me-time”?

I really don’t have that yet but I don’t mind. My baby is still a year old and it’s only recently that I am able to do house chores while he’s awake. And that’s a big deal to me and makes me happy. And now that he walks, well we go outside to check the mailbox and throw the trash. He still wakes at night many times, so I lose a lot of sleep. So when he takes his naps in the day time I rest or try to sleep too. In time I know I will be able to go back to drawing and painting and doing the things I love to do.

Any favourite anecdote about your little one?

Loukas always makes my day. He is such a happy and silly baby. He doesn’t speak yet, but he sure has a lot to say from the moment he wakes up. One day we went to his doctor for his shot, and when the nurse gave his injection he looked at her and started lecturing her with his serious tone of voice. She just laughed.

I also love how affectionate he his. I call him my hugga-bear. There will be moment where he won’t care for milk, food, to play and not even to watch videos on my computer. He will simply climb up to me and embrace me for a long time. It can last for twenty minutes, and if I try to move he will complain. So we just hang on to each other until he is ready to let go. To me that’s priceless.

What is it about motherhood you love about?

I love that loukas and I have our own language that no one will ever crack or know. We know each other so well without even speaking. We can look at each other and start laughing. His love is so unconditional and he is so sensitive and present that I can have a bad day or when I’m frustrated and tired he will give me a pat on my shoulder and a look that says….”you’re alright mama”. And then I am.

If there’s something about motherhood you dislike, what would it be? 

I dislike the fact that I haven’t slept straight in a year. I miss that. But his cuteness makes up for it and I get over it. What I dislike most are comparisons. When parents ask if your baby has teeth at 6 months or walking by 10 months just like their kids. Honestly, I don’t care and no matter what it may be, I want Loukas to go at his own pace and not ever feel pressured to be on the same page as everyone.

All children are different and that’s what makes them all special.

What’s a typical day for you and your little one like?

Our day starts with morning talks on the bed until we are completely awake and I prepare breakfast for us and we take our time eating and drinking and converse some more. We watch videos of the muppets and sesame street and play with his toys or read books. We go out for a walk in his stroller for hours after for his first nap and I walk until he falls asleep and head back home to rest too or finish some house chores. When he wakes from naps we cuddle and play again. If I need to go outside to throw the trash or check the mailbox I put his shoes on him and he knows what that means and gets excited and helps to put his shoes or jacket if it’s chilly outside. At night we eat dinner, take a bath then play peekaboo or chase the baby and laugh on the bed until Loukas is tired from laughing and we hum songs together and rock on the rocking chair until he falls asleep.

Best advice you’ve received about motherhood?

Just to take it a day at a time and enjoy it because time flies and it really does.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood, before becoming one, what would it be?

To start a good sleep training early and to immediately let the baby sleep on his own bed. He’s so used to sleeping beside his mama that it’s difficult to break that habit without chaos and cries.

How do you manage your time between work and your little one?

I don’t work at the moment, so I’m able to give Loukas all the attention and time he needs.  I know, once I start working again, I will miss every single moment spent with him.

Thanks Tina!

Gone Bonkers – A Dialogue

We were watching the news before bath time a few nights ago when I noticed T looking tired and sleepy.

Me:  Are you sad, sweetie?

(She uses the word sad when she’s tired or declares that she’s sad when she wants attention).

T:  No (said in her sing-song voice).

Me:  Are you depressed?  (This was me trying to be funny).

Husband rolls his eyes and says,

Would you like Mommy to read Sylvia Plath to you?

T:  Oh alright.

Husband:  But remember, we have an electric oven – so don’t get any ideas, your face will only get grilled on one side.

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I often wonder if our two-year old can really follow the “grown-ups” conversation?

I bet she does!