Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday 5 April

To mijn grote meid,

Today you are fifteen. FIFTEEN. Every time I see it written down, I have to blink. I have a FIFTEEN year old daughter. It seems so big, so grown up.

Fifteen years ago today you were born on Easter Monday, at home. A girl, just as I'd instinctively known all the way through my pregnancy but didn't want to find out during the scans.
Although I didn't realise it at the time, you were actually a very easy baby - you went through the night when you were two months old, you grew and developed as you were supposed to. It was me who found having a baby quite tough - it was so different from what I expected, I was tired, I had trouble breastfeeding but really wanted to (and succeeded in the end, but it took a lot of blood sweat and mostly tears), and what nobody ever tells you: babies don't really interact, specially in those first few weeks, and can actually be quite boring. Suddenly being stuck at home on my own after having worked fulltime for four years was quite a shock, let me tell you. And I always thought that once the baby stage was over, that was when it was going to get boring. Okay, toddlers were still quite cute, but school age children? Nah, not for me. It turned out all quite different, it wasn't till you started going to school that I really started to enjoy motherhood properhood. And it's just got better and better as you've got older.

You're in year 10 now, which is the year before you do your GCSE's. You're already doing GCSE subjects (History, Philosophy&Ethics, German and Fashion&Textiles) and show incredible motivation to do well. There is no 'have you done your homework yet?' with you at all and when you need help, you come and ask for it. I love seeing your strengths develop and how you're heading in much the same direction as I did. You pretty much know which A levels to take and you're already looking into universities.
In some ways you are the typical teenager - you'd sleep till midday if given the chance, your room is a complete tip 364 days a year, you never bring towels back to the bathroom after you've used them and when I run out of mugs in the kitchen, I can normally find them with a layer of mould in your room. O and your mobile is never far from your side. You've grown and grown and grown in the last couple of years and are now only just a smidgen away from my height, which feels very strange.
But you're not the monosyllabic, grunty teenager either. You're very good at keeping yourself entertained, you could from a very early age when I'd find you in the bookcase with all the books on the floor around you and you were pretending to 'read'. You're helpful at home (mostly!), you're great fun to watch telly with, you are the only person whose opinion on what I wear I trust completely, and I love our Saturday mornings when we have a couple of hours together and we go for a chai latte at Cafe Nero.

This year more than before I have increasingly felt that I can see the person you will be as an adult. And that person is someone I'm incredibly proud to have as my daughter.

Happy birthday grote meid,
Mamma xxxxxx

Tuesday 1 April

To my kleine mannetje

Today is your 12th birthday. Twelve years ago today you were born at home on Easter Monday on a lovely Spring day after a pretty straightforward pregnancy. You gave us a bit of a fright with your weight, that caused a few problems on you entering the world, but you cried pretty much as soon as you were born and you also lost that purple colour that I didn't notice when you were born (wondering why everyone kept telling me you were okay, when I could see you were fine).

Twelve years have flown by. You are now a tall, lean and above all very active 12 year old boy. In the past year you have discovered Minecraft and Skype and you can spend days on end building and chatting to your friends and then as a joke ringing me on Skype when we're in the same room. Minecraft really is just that little more interesting than doing homework and you stamp your foot a little when I tell you that today, no, we're not having any computers (or screens). But you are such good company and usually you end up telling me at the end of such a day, that actually it was really good fun. You like joining me in the kitchen and experimenting with all the gadgets - your latest one was spending half an hour mixing up lots of different spices in the pestle and mortar. You enjoy coming outside with me and helping me in the garden. I'm no gardener and the garden is very neglected, much to my sadness, but with your help the task doesn't seem quite so insurmountable. We love watching the Great British Sewing Bee together, I'm not sure what it is that you like about it as you're not a sewer or crafter (although you do love your Lego) but I look forward to watching it with you every week. And you're the best person to go to Holland with. You get just as excited about it as I do and you seem to like everything in Holland. You famously once told me that if you looked up 'nice' in the dictionary, it would say 'Holland', and the other day you asked why everything seemed nicer in Holland. I have no idea what you'll do in the future but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if you ended up spending a longer period of time in Holland.

There are so many things about you that I like - your early waking, same as me, your generosity and kindness, your sense of humor, your helpfulness, your curiosity and eagerness to learn. I'm so very proud to be your mamma and I'm looking forward to seeing you grow up and develop as you hit your teens next year. But for now you're still my kleine mannetje. Happy birthday xxx

ETA: posted late because I was felled by a yucky tummy bug...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday 2 March

Camera lens still broken, not heard anything yet. In desperation I charged my little old compact camera, which was on its last legs when I got the DSLR, to take on my bike ride today. I lost count of the number of times I held the LCD viewer close to my eye...
Photos didn't turn out as bad I expected. Weather was nice so I decided on my usual along the river (Yare) trip and took photos of every church I saw along the way, to show how many churches Norfolk's got (more than people, I sometimes think!) 8 churches in 24 miles.
A little collage here:

And fingers crossed my camera's back for the next bike ride, which isn't for another three weeks as B's off on skiing trip in France and we aren't going up to the ski club for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday 25 February

Just before our annual February half term trip to Lyme Regis, my camera lens broke. Again. The first time was about a month ago and it was my own fault - the camera was in my bike bag, which fell on the floor. Fortunately it was easily fixed - one call to Nikon HQ and a day later a new component arrived in a jiffy bag. An hour with teeny tiny screwdrivers, two pairs of hands and a magnifying glass and I was good to go, only to find a couple of weeks later that the lens refused to zoom in and there was something rattling inside. B. took it apart but had no idea how to fix it and in the process managed to break an electronic connection. This was the weekend before our trip away and I knew it couldn't be fixed beforehand. I had several offers of help - someone offered to lend me another lens, someone else even wanted to lend me their camera as they have the same model. In the end my dad brought over his Canon DSLR which has a better lens than mine.

B. bought me my DSLR 2 years ago. At first I was completely overwhelmed by everything it could do and truth be told, I didn't think I could ever do it justice. But by following a few courses and workshops and experimenting more and more, I got to know my camera better and I feel my photos have improved too. I drag my camera with me everywhere and very much enjoy taking photos.

Using dad's Canon showed me just how much I have learnt over the last two years. I didn't want to use the Automatic setting, I wanted to play with the settings - but the camera didn't like what I was doing and I didn't like my photos. The buttons and dials were all in the wrong place and trying to find certain settings was like navigating a very complicated maze.

I think I've turned into a Nikon girl through and through!

Having said all that, I still ended up with a nice selection of photos which to me reflect the holiday well. The camera lens is on its way to the repairer and I'm hoping to have my own camera back very soon - because I really, really miss it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Monday 3 February

 Day 12 of 100 happy days - travelling cables on my knitting. I'm knitting Coal Cardigan by Veronik Avery, one of my favourite knitwear designers. Simple, stylish, chique, oh so clever.

Day 13 of 100 happy days - Bury St. Edmunds cathedral in the glorious sunshine on Saturday morning. When I first moved to Bury, way back in 1995, the cathedral tower wasn't finished. I can't even remember what it looked like, but they won a millennium grant to finish the tower off and in the process, renovated/cleaned the whole cathedral. I think it's beautiful now. You can see the tower from several miles away, sometimes the sunshine reflects and lights up the little golden flags on the corners. Bury St. Edmunds has so much going for it, but the cathedral is my favourite part by far.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday 29 January

Another catch-up on my 100 Happy Days photo project. As I suspected, I fell off the wagon on days that I'm actually in work. I leave home before it's fully light, I come home in the dark, and no, I don't take my camera to work. So I've relaxed the rules for myself somewhat and decided that I'd still do the project, but won't force myself to have to have a photo every day, I'll just carry on until I have 100 photos. It works much better for me this way.

So here we are, catching up:

 Day 6 - three of my favourite things: blue, stripes and a handknitted dishcloth. The tea towels were a birthday present from my mum and currently my favourites.

 Day 7 - my favourite woollen blanket, keeping me warm in winter (present from dad from his annual Texel holiday)

Day 8 - car passed its MOT

 Day 9 - first sign of snowdrops

 Day 10 - sunrise from our bedroom on Sunday morning. We get up early on Sunday mornings for B's ski race training at 9am. Seeing a sky like that makes the early start worth it!

Day 11 - a carrot cake cupcake made by 11yo at school, my elevenses treat. He's been having cooking lessons at school and has come home with all sorts of delicacies (cornish pasties, sausage rolls, macaroni cheese). Above all, he's really enjoyed it and seems to be quite good at it too - although he didn't like the macaroni cheese himself at all, but that didn't matter as 14yo and I devoured it for him. Next week is the last lesson and they get to choose themselves what they want to make. He's chosen marshmallow brownies. Good job my WeightWatchers meeting is in the morning!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday 13 January

Catching up on 100 happy days:

 Day 2 - a reduction in my electricity bill - the 19 pounds per year made me laugh

 Day 3 - my yoga DVD. 14yo found this DVD in a charity shop a few months ago. The first few times I did the exercises, I couldn't walk for a couple of days. Now I can twist myself in knots I didn't even know existed and can almost put my hands flat on the floor with straight legs (and I have long legs!). Above all, I really enjoy yoga.

 Day 4 - Bury St. Edmunds cathedral in the afternoon sunshine

Day 5 - Norwich cathedral in the early morning frost and sunshine