I thought I'd share some of the things we've learned between us this February half term . . .
1. Cruise control and average speed cameras are a match made in heaven (or from Dave's point of view "cruise control is the only way to deal with average speed cameras")
I've suffered the unparalleled joy of average speed cameras for a number of years now. They started to upgrade the Leeds section of the M62 to a "smart motorway" before I had Ben. My commute was blighted by roadworks and average speed cameras for years (I'm not exaggerating here) before the new system was launched just as I left work. All that suffering and I didn't even get to benefit from the improvements. Now, for my sins, they're doing exactly the same thing at this end of the M62 - and I shouldn't complain as I know it has made a dramatic difference to the Leeds section but it's still years of roadworks and average speed cameras. The thing about average speed cameras is it's easy to forget I think, to increase your speed without really realising and then panic that you're going to get done! I've often said that I thought cruise control would be a god send in that situation and had hoped we'd get it on our last car but it wasn't to be. This time I was determined and thankfully, the car we bought does indeed have cruise control and whilst I won't use it all the time as it's not as economical as normal driving but it's fantastic for places where the speed limit is reduced or being tracked by average speed cameras!
2. Bubble gum ice cream isn't very nice after all.
I can't tell you how many times, when faced with rows of enticing ice cream flavours to choose from, Ben's eyes are drawn to the hideous bright blue of Bubble Gum . . . and every time I've said no. No because I really didn't think he'd like it but also because fake looking bright blue colouring just goes against my instincts! Last week, at The Ice Cream Farm, we were all choosing our ice creams and both Ben and his best friend Finley decided they wanted Bubble Gum. The colour wasn't quite so vile and I decided I might as well let him try it. At some point he's going to have to order it and hate it, therefore missing out on his ice cream (which I've clearly been keen to avoid) or in fact love it and want to order it forever more. Is it wrong that I'm pleased to say that about half way through eating his ice cream, Ben realised that that sickly, synthetic flavour really wasn't very nice at all. At least next time he won't need to ask for it!
3. Chloe can click her fingers
I can't remember if it was the first or second day of the school holidays when there was a knock at my bedroom door and this little voice asking if she could come in. When I agreed, Chloe came in proudly to demonstrate that she had discovered she could click her fingers! I had to laugh. She's been practising it all week. Apparently it means she can be like her teacher now who clicks her fingers at people when they're talking on the carpet . . . yep I've definitely done that before!
4. Amy likes blueberries
This might seem like a bit of a random one but I discovered this week that Amy likes blueberries and I didn't think she did. I don't really buy them as Ben and Chloe aren't keen - whether I assumed Amy didn't like them as well or if she hasn't liked them before and does now I'm not sure but she was wolfing them down at my friend's house so I must remember to buy them for her!
5. Ben can tie his shoe laces
I've been meaning to teach Ben to tie his laces for a while but with him having velcro shoes the need hasn't arisen. Of course there's a vicious circle there - I won't buy him lace up shoes till he can tie laces but he won't learn to tie laces while I buy him velcro fastenings . . . anyway on Monday morning, as we were getting ready for our adventure, he was putting on his "adventure boots" and started to have a go at tying his laces. He got a good way through the routine and was only stuck when it came to where he should push the last bit of lace. Once I had shown him, that was it. He did the next shoe by himself. Of course he still needs plenty of practise, it's a slow and concentrated task at the moment but an achievement nonetheless and he was super proud of himself!
6. The tea time drive home from Leeds is still it's own special kind of hell
It's now over 3.5 years since I left my job in Leeds and stopped commuting over 80 miles a day. It was without a doubt one of the best decisions I ever made. I loved my job - I loved the school, the kids, the staff - but in the end it was costing me a fortune in fuel and childcare and the early starts, long commute and regular traffic issues were taking their toll. I'm far happier for not driving to Leeds on a daily basis I can promise you! Now, when I do drive to Leeds, I find myself wondering how on earth I managed to do it every single day. Really what the hell was I thinking? Of course I have lots of friends and family who live over that way so we traverse the M62 on a fairly regular basis. This half term, after a lovely day with friends, we made the mistake of setting off home at just the wrong time leaving us slap bang in the middle of some very heavy traffic. In fact, it took an hour to just to get to the motorway and another hour to get home - basically doubling our journey time. Sitting in crawling traffic down the M621 with a grumpy toddler in the back gave a strong and not altogether pleasant sense of deja vu!
7. Daddy being away for half term sucks
Dave doesn't have to work away often - just the odd night here and there. Unfortunately his biggest trip to date, three days in France, happened to fall right in the middle of half term! It couldn't have been worse timing for me as I'm always more than ready for him to come home, lend a hand and provide me with some adult conversation of an evening! Nevertheless, we survived and we were all pleased to see him when he got home on Thursday evening!
8. I need head space
I adore my kids. Of course I do. I love spending time with them and I look forward to the school holidays when we can relax together or go out on adventures. But I also love spending time without them. During term time Amy still sleeps most afternoons and of course this year started her two mornings a week at playgroup - I've come to realise I need this time for my own sanity. Time to not have to talk to anyone. I believe the February half term is probably one of the hardest - it's cold and miserable so it can be really hard to get the kids out and about. Cabin Fever well and truly sets in. I was more than ready for the kids to go back to school on Monday morning I must admit.
Oh, and Ben would also tell you that he has learned several times over this half term that "Mummy knows best" - which I think is a fairly important life lesson!