The lunch bag that marks the end of an era.

I went shopping the other day and bought a lunch bag. Do you like it? 

It may seem insignificant but it marks a huge change that’s about to happen in my life. For six and a half years I have been a stay at home mum and in a week I am going back to work.

It was always going to happen at some point and the plan had been to be available for relief teaching for two days a week but I got made an offer I couldn’t refuse for a job share three days a week. It was something that I didn’t expect to happen in a high school situation with a six day rolling timetable, but here it is with three fixed days a week until the end of the year. I am excited and nervous, but mainly excited.

In my head I had a blog post planned about writing a CV in search of the job that would mark my return to paid work; my skills now include child wrangling, making animals out of pipe cleaners, multitasking to an Olympic standard, fangirling, writing silly stories…the list goes on but for now my CV can remain untouched. 

I am going back to teach at the school I worked at before I went on maternity leave in 2010. This is the school that interviewed me for my initial teaching job in NZ on the phone the night before I got married in the UK. The school that has invested time and money into my professional development and the school that provided me with my Kiwi family. It really is like going home when I walk into that place. 

It is also the school where I had positions of responsibility and that has very high expectations of staff and students. This is a good thing but I have changed, more so because my situation has changed. My priority now is my family and it will be different being back in the department in a part time role without that responsibility. I am sure there will be times I have to bite my tongue or sit on my hands. I know that I am going to be that teacher who leaves as soon as they can after the school bell and then be up late at night marking and planning when my children are asleep so I can spend more time with them when I get home. I’m okay with that.

So these school holidays I have been getting organised; Getting the house in order, sorting out before and after school care (thankfully my mum can pick the girls up). There is more to do but it will all be okay, and if it’s not, we will all be okay. It will take time to adjust and I know we will sometimes be living in a mess and eating weetbix for tea, but no one will die and we will all be okay. It just needs a change of perspective.

Going back to work will be good for everyone but I think I’m safe in saying it will be best for me. It will stop my mind turning to mush and I will have adult company once more. This thought alone makes me happy and a happy mum means a happy kids.

So there we are. A big change ahead. It’s not going to be easy but it’s time for it to happen. Hopefully I’ll be able to share my journey on the way back to work with you…warts and all. 

You say I’m acting like a teenager like it’s a bad thing: the first 24 hours of an album release

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Thursday 10pm: I really should go to bed. The kids will be up early tomorrow but I know that if I stay up until midnight there’s a chance that the new album pre-order will download to my phone. The temptation is huge. Being in New Zealand, it’s one of the only perks of being in the fandom. I get to download first.

11pm: I’m in bed, but I’m still awake…and on Twitter. The excitement of the fandom is palpable. I should really go to sleep. I should really switch my phone off. I’m pretty tired, but excited.

11.30pm: Okay, lights off, phone down. Let’s be grown up and responsible. The download will be there when I wake up. It’s only six hours away until I will be up for the day, I can listen to it then.

2am: I wake up. Shall I look at my phone? It’s not even a question really, there it is…the notification: It has downloaded. Wonderland is on my phone.

I creep out of bed so as not to wake the husband or the kids, avoiding the creaky bits on the stairs and rummage through my bag to find my earphones. In the pitch dark, on the sofa I put my earphones in and begin to listen.

I have been waiting for this for months, I could have waited a few more hours but I seriously couldn’t. I tuck my feet under myself and let the music wash over me. If you haven’t yet listened to on earphones make sure you do, you hear so much detail, all the little neat tricks they have squeezed into each song. I am in love straight away.

It’s the middle of the night so I do a little listen of each song to get a quick overview of what, realistically, will be the soundtrack to my life for the next few months at least. I write a few tweets with my views and chat with a few fans online. Some want to know who is singing what, the overall feel of the album. I gladly answer their questions the best I can.

3am: I finally crawl back into bed. Happy.

6am: Time to start the day, I have a quick read of Twitter so see how the album is being received around the world as the time zones wake up. It is good news. A happy fandom is a happy place to be.

9am: Kids safely at school, I begin excessive caffeine consumption to stay awake and listening on repeat to the album on the living room speakers. I’ve organised my week so I don’t need to be doing anything much today. Being able to mulit-task effectively is my super power. I am glad about it today.

11am: An email from takethat.com – my box set has been dispatched from the UK. Being in New Zealand it will probably take weeks but I’m glad it’s on the way.

1pm: The UK finally gets the download and I see hundreds of other people just like me who stayed up late to hear something we have been waiting for months. It’s good to know it’s not just me. The UK tweeters go crazy for it. It’s brilliant.

Twitter goes quiet as they eventually fall asleep and I get on with my day…with Wonderland as the soundtrack, school pick up, swimming lessons, dinner, bath time, bedtime for the kids, and then it all begins again.

8pm: I chat to friends online who are on their way to London to the album signing. I revel in their excitement and I am happy to see them happy. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must be feeling. I know that when I wake up in their morning my feed will be full of their stories, their pics, their selfies and I am looking forward to it.

9pm: I’m exhausted now. Sleep is calling. Was it worth getting up in the middle of the night? Hell yeah. Is the album everything and more than I was expecting? YES, oh YES. Have Take That still got it? Damn yes, they will never lose it.

I love this fandom. It’s my happy place.

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Days 22-27: 30 day music challenge

Whoops, have let this slide for a few days so here is a catch up post.

Day 22: A song that moves you forward

These Days by Take That cannot help but move me on. Feeling down, put it on. You will soon be dancing around the living room or singing in the car. It is full of happiness.

Day 23: A song that you think everybody should listen to

I know there is a bit of a theme appearing here but I’m pretty sure earlier in the month I warned you that there would be no apology if my favourite artists appeared more than once in this list. It was inevitable. A song I think that everybody should listen to is Will You Be There For Me by Take That.

I challenge you to listen to the lyrics and not relate. If you have ever been in love you will feel this song. I guarantee it.

Day 24: A song by a band you wish were still together

We haven’t heard much from them for years so I am assuming they are no longer together, so Pulp’s This Is Hardcore is my choice for this day. I was a huge Pulp fan and saw them at Bournemouth International Centre, supported by Stereolab. That was one amazing gig.

Day 25: A song by an artist no longer living

Johnny Cash may no longer be living but his music certainly lives on. It was hard to choose one but I’ve chosen a classic, Jackson knowing full well I have chosen another one of his songs for another day this week too.

Day 26: A song that makes you want to fall in love

I did fall in love to this song…and out of love to it, but it’s still such a beautiful love song: Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. I could listen to this on repeat everyday.

Day 27: A song that breaks your heart

And here it is the other Johnny Cash track I’ve chosen…Hurt. This song could have been in so many categories, especially as my favourite cover but I’ve decided to chose it for today. This breaks my heart every time I hear it. I have been known to burst into tears hearing it on the radio.

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So brave. Not.

I took my youngest to the local pool this morning. It’s just opened and is all shiny and new. Completely aimed at families with large changing areas, a slide, water sprays etc…it’s all the business. And at a cost of $1 for both of us, this is the second time we’ve been, in fact, we are going to try to go every week. But while I was there I was reminded of something that was said to me over the summer at a friend’s house; something that really annoyed me and has clearly stuck with me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this, which kind of makes it worse. My friend has a swimming pool and with my kids being only 4 and 5, at the time, I of course was going to get in the pool with them. Not just to keep them safe, but to have fun with them. There were a handful of families there, people that I had only recently met. As I got the kids changed and then pulled out my swimming costume to go and get changed, one of the mums said to me, “Oh, you’re brave.” At first I wandered if she meant because the water would be cold. It was a warm day, and I seriously asked the host “why, isn’t it heated?” But the mum in question, said “No, I mean getting in with them and putting your swimsuit on.” I was flabbergasted.

I am no supermodel but putting on a swimsuit so my kids and I can have fun is not brave in my book. Maybe it’s because I was meeting these people for the first time, but yes, I judged them as the conversation continued as they got their husbands to sit on the side of the pool and watch their kids. I seriously don’t get it.

What message are we sending to our kids if we refuse to put on a swimsuit to get into a pool to play with them? What are we saying about body image?

So this morning as I looked around the pool and saw mums, dads and grandparents of all ages, shapes and sizes in the water having fun with their kids I didn’t for a second think any one of them was brave. I didn’t think how courageous they must be for wearing the necessary clothing for the situation, a swimsuit in a swimming pool (shock, horror) and having loads of fun with their kids as they splashed and played.

Seriously people, get over yourselves. It’s a body. Be grateful for all it can do. Show your kids how amazing it is to be alive. Don’t worry about what other people may think and have some goddamn fun with your kids.

Day 21: 30 day music challenge

Day 21: A song with someone’s name in the title

There is a song that has followed me since I was young. A song that has been automatically sung at me in greeting as I am introduced to someone for the first time. A song that has been drunkenly yelled out of tune at me at the end of the night. It can only be Hey Jude by The Beatles.

I finally took full ownership of the song by coming down the aisle at our wedding to it being played by two close friends on flutes. I didn’t tell anyone other than them so it was wonderful to see everyone’s reactions when I entered the room.

I’m very grateful that the most famous song with my name in the title is actually a bloody good one!

 

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The playlist has been updated: 30 Day Music Challenge

Days 19/20: 30 day music challenge

Day 19: A song that makes you think about life 

Today’s post is heavily influenced by Take That and I make no apologies for that. It just so happens that my choices for these two days are both by my favourite band. So a song that makes me think about life is The Garden. The lyrics to this song are so beautiful and it is where I got my username (and other blog title) Miracles of Matter from. From the moment the song opens with the gentle piano to its huge crescendo and back down to its peaceful end, every note is just perfect. It captures for me so much about life and how we should all try to lead our best one. I have very clearly stated to my loved ones that this should be played at my funeral (not that I’m planning for this to happen soon by the way).

It is also amazing performed live. Check out these performances on YouTube on the Circus tour and more recently in 2015 on the III tour.

Day 20: A song that has many meanings to you

Like I said, this will be another TT song, Patience. It’s not that the words have lots of different meanings but that the whole song does and it reminds me of different occasions. In some respects it is a sad song, it reminds me of a sad time when my dad had just passed away and I returned back to New Zealand after being in the UK for his funeral. It can also be a very positive song about love and relationships; it just depends on my mood when I listen to it. It is one of my favourite songs to watch perfomed live but my favourite performance of it was at The Brits. And of course it makes me happy that it is the song that brought them back together after ten years away. Happy times.

Day 18: 30 day music challenge

Day 18: A song from the year you were born

1977 was a fine year for music. This year I will be forty along with this song Yes Sir, I Can Boogie by Baccara. I challenge you not to dance to this, it’s impossible. And if you have the chance, listen to Louis Theroux and Adam Buxton butcher it here: Adam Buxton’s podcast. It’s well worth a listen to for the laughs. I love Adam Buxton’s humour.

I wouldn’t mind looking like either of them…I wonder what ever happened to Baccara?