Days 14/15/16/17: 30 Day Music Challenge

I seriously don’t know where the week has gone. Time flies so quickly around here, so here I find myself doing a catch up on the 30 Day Music Challenge. I have been updating the Spotify playlist as I’ve been going along so click here if you would like to listen: 30 Day music challenge

Day 14: A song that you would love played at your wedding

The creator of this list clearly thought none of us old married people would do this challenge, oh well. The song that we did have played at our wedding for our first dance was God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. Our music tastes are like some huge Venn diagram with only a handful of similarities in the middle. His circle is full of “too cool for school” bands that get played on student radio. Mine is pop, grunge and rock. There in the middle The Beach Boys and several other classic acts sit nicely so it seemed the obvious choice for our first dance nearly 12 years ago.

Day 15: A song that is a cover by another artist

I do love a good cover. I’ve discussed this on Twitter before and one day we even came up with a collaborative playlist (feel free to add to it) Cover Songs. But for the purpose of the music challenge I have chosen Bridge Over Troubled Water by Elvis Presley. Only The King could make a cover better than the original really.

Day 16: One of your favourite classical songs

I’m not a big listener of classical music but I do like to have it on in the background if I am working. It’s a lot easier to concentrate when there are no lyrics. For day 16 I am going to have to choose Sergei Prokofiev’s Montagues and Capulets. I have used this while teaching Romeo and Juliet in the classroom and then, more recently, a certain Mr Williams has used a sample of it on Party Like a Russian.

Day 17: A song that you would sing a duet with on karaoke

I’m a bit confused by this one. Does it mean your favourite karaoke song or favourite karaoke duet song, because I have no issue standing to do karaoke by myself!! So to save any confusion, if I’m doing it by myself it’s Never Ever – All Saints…but a duet to do at karaoke has to be Islands In The Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, after all this playlist needs some country on it.



Find your tribe

When I first became a stay at home mum I was the first of all my friends, everyone else was still at work. It can be a lonely time and the internet became a vital connection to other mothers, both locally and in other countries.

Although that connection is a god send at times it was easy to become swamped by opinions and information about how to be a mother. There are umpteen blog posts about this problem already I am sure. But what I’m going to write about today is how I eventually found my tribe and they made me feel normal.

I went through stages of following mummy bloggers who were very ecologically friendly, very hands on, expert cooks. I found perfectionists who have the ability to organise creative activities everyday for their kids. Instagram led me to the lunchbox mafia who can make sculptures out of carrots and cucumbers you can’t possibly imagine. It all seemed like a competition and an impossibility.

Hats off to these folk. If you can do it, great. But what I soon learnt it that it is not realistic. It can’t be. And with the arrival of my second child I pretty much decided that it was near on impossible to keep up those levels of creativity and involvement, and more importantly I realised what was the point?

Kids teach you amazing things and the most important thing is at the end of the day they just want to be loved. They need to be fed and cared for. They need to be played with, given opportunities to experience the world around them, but they don’t need the most expensive designer clothes, organic artichokes or every second of their day scheduled.

This is how I found my tribe: The warriors who, like me, found humour in these unrealistic, unattainable ideals. The strong men and women facing the tantrums of two year olds, counting down the hours and minutes until bedtime. The parents declaring it wine o’clock on social media once the tearaways were finally asleep. The families who are imperfectly perfect and filled with love in messy houses around the world.

Thank you all for keeping it real and holding my hand. 

Day 13: 30 day music challenge

Day 13: A song from the seventies

I had to think quite hard about this one as there were plenty of other songs from the seventies that I have put in other categories. Eventually I decided to go for disco, the genre the decade is most famous for. So the song I’ve chosen is Daddy Cool by Boney M. You can’t help dance to this. It seemed quite innocent to me when I was a child…not so much now.

Don’t know where I’m going with this…

I’m not entirely sure where this post is going but bear with me and indulge me a little. Over the past few days three close friends have said things to me, about me, that have really taken me aback. Like, really nice things that I hadn’t even thought about myself.

Now these are people that I trust implicitly and I’m still surprised at the, I guess complimentary, comments they’ve made. Added to this is that they weren’t all about the same thing, the friends all don’t know each other and that in each instance I wasn’t searching for affirmation or praise.

So it got me thinking about how we view ourselves. I would say I have very high self esteem and I guess that is why these things surprised me because despite my own self esteem I hadn’t thought about myself in these ways. See, I warned you this was a bit random. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have something positive to say about someone, say it to them. You might just make their day and you might just get them to be reflective. I make a habit of surrounding myself with positive like-minded people; something that is clearly paying off.

As for the comments, they have all made me see myself in a slightly different light at a time when I am having to make lots of decisions about my future. I’m struggling a little with how I define myself and these conversations have helped a lot. It’s interesting how other people view you and one thing I now know about myself is that I no longer just fit into one box. In the past I have been defined by my job or my roles…I feel like I am really moving away from this now. Maybe I’m just so much more comfortable and confident just being me? Who knows?
Your thoughts and comments very welcome on this somewhat random post.

Day 11/12: 30 day music challenge

Day 11: A song that you will never get tired of

This will not come as a surprise to those that know me well: Pretty Things by Take That from the Progress album is just one of those songs. I will never, ever get tired of hearing it. It’s the kind of song that every time you listen to it you hear something different, but mainly when I hear it I imagine the owners of those two particular voices singing it just to me. I’m not even sorry.


Day 12: A song from your preteen years

I’ve decided to go with the first single I ever bought which was Respectable by Mel and Kim. I grew up on the music of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman era and this track is from their hay day. I had it on 7 inch vinyl and listened to it in my bedroom all the time. I cut out the lyrics from Smash Hits, learnt them. I watched them on Top of the Pops and learnt the dance moves. I remember performing the dance in pupils’ theatre at junior school on a Friday afternoon. It’s a good simple song, from good simple times.


Day 9/10: 30 day music challenge

Day 9: A song that makes you happy

You just know that there will be a disproportionate number of Take That and Robbie songs in this list, but it’s my list so I don’t give a damn! So a song that makes me happy has to be Love My Life by Robbie Williams.

There are the obvious reasons; the lyrics are happy, meaningful, and it’s a bloody lovely song. But then there are the less obvious maybe. Knowing that he is writing this from a happy point in his life is enough for a long term fan like me. Just like Come Undone had elements of an autobiographical nature, this does too and it just shows how much his life has changed, and how far he is come. And you know what? That makes me happy too. The two songs are the antithesis of each other but I love them equally.

And then there is what this song means to me as a mother. The sentiment behind it has made me cry on more than one occasion. All you want as a mother is for your kids to love their life and I am doing the best I can possibly do to make that happen. They, at 4 and 6, also LOVE this song. They request it in the car, they know the words and sing along. That’s the next generation of Friendlies right there. Makes me proud.


Day 10: A song that makes you sad 

Seems like I was meant to miss yesterday and have these two songs on the same blog post. A song that makes me sad is November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. This song really reminds me of my dad so it is fair to say that it make me happy and sad. Dad loved Guns N’ Roses as much as me and took me to see them play at Milton Keynes Bowl on the Skin N’ Bones tour in 1993. There are enough stories about that day to fill an entire blog post so maybe I’ll write about it one day but being 15 and your dad taking you to a gig like that is pretty high in the cool stakes, if you ask me. I got to recreate some of those memories with my husband last month at Western Springs in Auckland and the song still has the same effect on me.

Dad sadly passed away from cancer in 2007 and prior to that spent quite a bit of time in the hospital having numerous treatments. One day the hospital radio guy came round and asked Dad if he had any requests. Dad insisted on the album version of November Rain…all 8 minutes and 58 seconds of it. You see, that was my dad all over; subtle with his humour, quietly spoken, but knew how to get his way. He was very happy when they played it, and apparently the DJ was too, he got an extended break.

Anyway, when it came to his funeral he picked Sailing by Rod Stewart for the time his coffin went behind the curtain. So, like the dutiful daughter I am, I  went and bought a CD with it on. Now, your average song is what, two minutes thirty, three minutes? Oh no, not this one. This version? Nearly five minutes. Now I don’t know if you’ve been to many funerals but it really doesn’t take that long for those curtains to close. It was like dad was having the last laugh. This is the song he used to sing after a few too many whiskeys, the song he used to rewind and play on repeat on car journeys. I can’t believe that it was coincidence that he chose such a long song again. So as the extended middle eight played my mum, my husband and I couldn’t help but snigger. The family and friends behind us why on earth we were laughing at his funeral, but well played dad, well played.

So both of these songs have happy and sad memories about Dad for me. And for the record, we chose November Rain for the end of the funeral because you know, it really does take nine minutes for everyone to leave a crematorium.




A nice cup of tea

If there is anything that makes my British-ness stand out, it is my love of a nice, hot, strong cup of tea. When we have visitors from the UK I usually request they bring some Yorkshire Tea, some Tetley and some Irish Breakfast tea. There is nothing quite like a tea bag from my homeland. But being at home most days I found that my love of tea was becoming a bit OTT. Most days at least five cups, followed by restless sleep. No need to wonder why.

Tea drinking had become a bit of a bad habit. Get up, have tea. Get back from school run, have tea. Morning tea time, cup of tea. Lunchtime, why not have a brew? Pick kids up from school, another cup? Why not? Sometimes you don’t realise you have a problem until you look at it like that. At least it’s tea and not vodka, I guess!

Anyway, not one for New Year resolutions I decided in the first week of January after returning from our summer holiday to cut out caffeine. So this meant the tea needed to go, along with my love for the occasional ice cold, full sugar, full caffeine can of Coca-Cola.

The first five days were hell. The headaches were unbelievable. I wanted to sit in a darkened room while my head pounded and fought my addiction to caffeine. It was those headaches in fact, that made me realise that I was indeed addicted to caffeine. It was a weird feeling. I pushed through though and swapped my extra stong super Ceylone, for water and a loose herbal tea. Mornings were the worst, but my sleep was already better so I wasn’t so tired in the morning and didn’t necessarily need that kick start.

So for six whole weeks I managed NO caffeine whatsoever. Not a drop. It was weird going to the cinema and not drinking coke. Friends thought it odd when they popped the kettle on at their houses and I told them no.

But then my youngest started having sleepless nights again. Nightmares would wake her, she would wake me, I would get her back to sleep, and then I would lie awake for an hour or so. I’m sure I’m not the only one this has happened to. The morning cuppa returned out of necessity, although I’m sure that if I had tried harder I could have resisted. I’m glad to say though that it has stayed at that one cup a day, and not even every day.

Tea doesn’t even as taste as good as it once did to me which is strange. Maybe less tea has meant better taste buds. Who knows? I’m a little bit proud of myself, but it’s only tea.