Hello and welcome back. I've been away for half term - what have I missed? Valentine's day. Big whoop. I just don't get it. Maybe for teenagers, blossoming new romances, needy people, the newly married etc it might mean something but to me it is just a tad on the silly side. Much like New Year's Eve - it is enforced jollity and it turns out to be nothing of the sort. I am clearly a rebel at heart as when I am told to do something I feel like doing the exact opposite - being told to tell someone I love, that I love them, just leaves me cold. This is compounded by the restaurants all filled with tables for two with naff flowers on just waiting for people forced in to going out 'because it's Valentine's Day' and the streams of men I saw (as I was sitting in the car waiting for my sister) coming out of Asda with a card and a bunch of roses 'because it's Valentine's Day'. PUKE. Leave Valentine's day to the teenagers for goodness sake people - we've just had Christmas it is pure gluttony to want more gifts and chocolate. It's not that I hate the day or want it banned, I just mean that a card is enough people, a small nod to the day is plenty. Let's not go overboard and ram fake protestations of love down the throats of single folk. K and I obviously did exchange cards and the children even sent him their home made ones which I thought was rather touching, but that was all that occurred. That and an argument - naturally. K and I ended up arguing over the phone about ballet shoes on St Valentine's evening. Bea's ballet shoes, not mine, naturally - I haven't suddenly decided to take up Ballet. (Although the idea of me in a leotard and tights trying to dance is now making me laugh.) He thought I should wait and get them next month (so that he didn't have to give me the money for them) and I thought that seeing as the children and I were on half term, near a ballet shop, with the child in need of bigger ballet shoes in tow and with imminent ballet and modern exams next month, I should get them the following day. You can see how that kind of thing could escalate. I spent the rest of the evening, post ballet shoes argument watching BBC 2 with my mum. There was no romance to be found anywhere. Especially as mother was still very ill with a nasty abscess under her tooth so it was a very quiet night all round.
I did, however, use the great St Valentine and his day to show my extreme love for the children by taking them to see Alvin and the sodding Chipmunks getting shipwrecked on a volcanic island. Sitting through THAT is a proper sign of true love.
My excitement over Bea's dance exams may have added to the heat of the argument. I am thrilled about them. Firstly, there is finally going to be a certificate or two to validate all my efforts over the years at getting Bea dressed and out of the house first thing on a Saturday morning (and pre K being at home on Saturday, the boys as well) in all weathers, in time for her 45 minute ballet lesson which allowed us just enough time to get home for five minutes before turning straight back around to pick her back up again. All the ballet shoe and leotard buying, doing the hair, forcing her to go when she would rather stay at home to carry on playing the game/watching TV/stay in her pjs, money for lessons etc etc etc, all my hard work will finally be rewarded with some framed certificates on the wall. Should she pass that is, but I am hoping at this early stage that is a foregone conclusion. I never did dance exams, shockingly. As children, the sisters and I were forced in to music lessons and subsequent exams so I am very out of my depth with dance lessons. I don't know what to expect. Give me a Grade 1 piano book and some scales and I know where I am. Annoyingly, my music never really 'did' anything for me. I got to Grade 8 in a few instruments and voice and I did my A Level Music which was useful, but it also got me roped in to a number of orchestras and things I HATED doing (I do not get children who enjoy playing in orchestras as a fun activity - I was there under duress and I thought anyone who came voluntarily was a total tosspot). But as an adult - and particularly with K - I find people overwhelmingly disappointed in me when they find out that I can indeed play the piano, but I can't just sit down at a piano and 'play'. I need music, preferably music I know and have played before, otherwise it would be a painfully slow sight reading exercise which is no fun for anyone to sit and listen to. I have always, always, always wanted to be one of those terribly cool people who can just sit down at the piano, or pick up their violin, and just start playing something, or even more cool, joining in with other people playing instruments like in a band or something. Jools Holland is an obvious example. As is Jamie Cullum. That is effortless cool - like something from a film - the ability to entertain at a drop of a hat after a few seconds of sitting down at a piano. Not that I am constantly presented with a piano and asked to play, but it has happened over the years. Now dancing is a very different matter - there are ALWAYS opportunities to dance - I am setting Bea up with something that will make her look cool forever more. I am not a great dancer and have never looked cool on a dance floor, although I have looked very inebriated, naturally. All those hours and hours and hours and hours of stupid music practise have only left me with some rather useless certificates at my mum's house and a seemingly never ending ability to disappoint strangers.
So, that's it really. Half term was not the usual luxury I have come to expect as mother was unusually ill (she is NEVER properly ill - as in bed bound ill - EVER - so it was all very strange) and Valentine's day was not at all romantic and Bea got her ballet and modern shoes. I really can't think of anything else even vaguely interesting. It was a massive improvement on last year's February half term when K had to drive us all down one night before term had broken up so that I could properly recover from my pneumonia - and K could get back to work and stop caring for us all. Then the boys both got ill when we were down there and I ended up taking them to the Doctors and nursing them back to health as mum tried to nurse me and cope with the other well children. That was no fun for anyone and mum almost shivers when she thinks back to it. So, it was a vast improvement on last year but I am vaguely hopeful that next year might be even better. You never know your luck.
OH hang fire - how could I miss this out for you - Ted is potty training/ed. My mother insisted he must be as he kept telling us when he needed a wee to which I replied it was all fine and as he had a nappy on he could just go ahead. Mother thought I was being lazy and making excuses so she took the matter out of my hands and removed his nappy permanently. I wasn't thrilled and took bizarre satisfaction in him wetting himself on her watch. However she may have had a point and obviously it had to be done at some point so I have carried on her good work upon our return home. So far so good - ish - I will obviously keep you posted on all the exciting developments in that department. You lucky, lucky folk.
x x x