Change of friend

I was talking to one of the kids today about a long time pal.  They have known this kid for about 10 years and they have been at school together for a good 8 of those years.  They have a bit of a love/hate relationship but at the moment they are moving in different directions and have a similar group of friends but don’t hang out as much.  In a year or so they will most likely attend different high schools and then I guess they will know of each other around the place rather than being friends.  I have already seen how it has played out with the older kids.

I was also thinking today about how my friendships in this city have changed too.  About 6 months ago I got a call from an old friend – our house alarm had gone off, we were out of town and the company had called her because once upon a time I had written her name as a person to contact in case the alarm went off. It was a call out of the blue and made me finally update my contact list with the alarm people.  But it also got me thinking.  We did not fall out as such – our kids changed schools and then seeing her was minimal and also the times we did run into each other there wasn’t that much to talk about.  She was having her kids go in one direction with schools etc and we were taking a different path.  Likewise with another ex-pat friend.  She left a school we attended and then it became harder to find common ground without slagging the same place off…. (that sounds worse than it is meant to).

But things in life change whilst others become more constant.  People move or can’t see the wood for trees and sooner or later there is not as much in common and then you just don’t call as often and everyone moves on.  So is life.  Sad but sort of normal progression I guess.

Same in the blogging world.  Some people blog regularly for years and you comment and connect and then just one day they disappear – no words, notice and you worry if they are ok…… Others just stop blogging or say something about how they have no time for such things (implying you are a flake as you still do???)….. Nothing remains the same.

Other friends have just sold a house they remodeled.  This is their new job.  They buy furniture they know they will be able to stage well for their finished designs in their latest project – this is becoming their norm – the grief of builders and missed deadlines, deliveries gone astray but a hefty profit at the end of a sale and one on to the next one.  It is not the life for us all.  But it is their personal income at the end off the day.

I wonder though, taking friendships with kids out of the equation, how much change and fluctuation effects us? Be thankful for every breath every day.

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Are we failing?

It is quite common over here that children do sports and parents take these activities very VERY seriously.  I know quite a few folk who pay thousands of dollars for their kids to play on soccer teams…. not including the flights for out of state tournaments they have to attend.  It is BIG business.

I do not have sporty kids.  When they have shown an interest we have never denied them.  So in our time we have done ice skating, horse riding, baseball, basket ball, bowling, fencing, soccer, volleyball, golf,  lacrosse and swimming.  We ruled out American football because of some major injuries that could occur – ditto for boys’ lacrosse.  The kids have sometimes enjoyed these team activities but more often than not have decided themselves not to keep going with them.  One of the teens is currently in group PE which is normally 2 weeks of a certain sport.  To say he doesn’t get on with the teacher is an understatement – he has broken an unbreakable lacrosse stick and nearly beheaded her with their ultimate frisbee fortnight.

A lot of the kids’ peers are in serious sports – they often go on the ice to practices at 5.30am before school.  Family vacations are based around school sport tournaments.  Selfishly I am quite happy that such devotion has not infringed on our family time.  There were a few years when we were juggling different kids needing to be in different places for competing sports and it was a strategic planning session.  We know other families who use Uber services to ferry their kids around and they have tag team weekend where they can swap kids in car parks to get them literally to their next sporting event.

Over here there is always the hope that real talent could mean sponsorship from a university and thus a big chunk of the fees being taken care of.  This varies by sport but a lot of people push their kids from an early age for this reason alone.

The youngest is friends with a kid whose dad is a professional sportsman.  They have moved throughout the US based on the teams his dad has played for.  Multi million dollar paychecks and drop dead gorgeous houses have come along.  Another move is pending. I was speaking to the mother of this kid last week, assuming that the latest uprooting was again due to professional sports team transfers.  But it turns out they are going to the new city as they think it offers good opportunities for their boys in the sport – and those boys are aged 11 and 9.  The family is not American but they fear moving back to their homeland would put the kids in the spotlight as they aim to compete at professional level in these sports…. always being in their dad’s shadow so to speak.

I am perhaps naive to not be thinking about my kids’ ultimate goals in life.  Not pushing their interests and moving the rest of us to accommodate these passions.  Or maybe I am just the norm and once again surrounded by over achieving nutters?

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I am flying back to Blightly in just a few more sleeps….. Hubby only returned from there this week so he has been adjusting to time… which means we are all a bit out of sync too.  Add to this a school holiday but one of the boys needing to be at a certain place quite early then there is alt least, somewhat of a routine.
I will confess to a nap today – meant to be about 30 minutes but turned into 3 hours!!!! Hubby was ‘working from home’ so other kids were well accounted for and not in a corner playing with matches or anything. So of course now it is ‘normal bed time’ and I am wide awake….. good book to read so all is ok.

Obviously with an over night flight looming and even medication, window seat, noise reduction headphones and the other gadgets that can ‘help’ a 9hour+ flight and time zone take it out of you a little and for a couple of days you are wanting to fall asleep standing up or you have unrealistic energy which you know can give out in a nanosecond.

The only comparable thing to this I would say is an adrenaline rush when you are sick/need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night or the times you have been in hospital to have babies and need to be checked regularly by nurses…. so you are tired, but elated, and wanting to sleep but also staring at this new bundle of joy and just gazing in awe and high on love and not wanting to miss any bit of it.

Life still feels a tiny bit fragile at the moment – not the way it did the last time I rushed over to UK with 10 hours notice, but not as though we are on cruise control and plodding along nicely. Hopefully a change is as good as a rest.  We’ll see….


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Fickle kids….

Last week one off my kids had a friend over….. he has known this boy for over a year and in the past this kid has caused a lot of grief.  He is known to be moody and as we were new to the school, another mum, who I have known quite some time, told me that he was known for these mood swings and was quite high maintenance.  His mother has never said hello to me despite often seeing her at the school gates…. the kid has not been as chatty as others at school events – but my son really REALLY wanted a playdate and so we arranged for the kid to come over after school.  My kid actually tidied his room for the boy coming over…it didn’t sit well with me – not the tidying, just his feeling this would matter to this kid….. So over he came, games were played and the kid actually asked to stay longer – but his mother replied that was not possible.  No big deal.  This week the kid is back to being mean.  Not sure why or whether we are ticked off his list, but mine is upset again about the child’s behavior.  I am going to let it go – we have a week’s break coming up so hopefully things will die down a bit – but honestly.

The oldest, away at university – is having issues with a flat mate.  They 6 of them were really getting on well – but one has had a boyfriend move in – claiming it was just for a week whilst he was in between places but it turned into months…. and now they have fallen out but he is not wanting to move out….. the other flat mates are sick of him and their constant arguing….. the girl flatmate swore he had gone but the others could still hear him in her room! An ultimatum was given and the girl flatmate is now very very angry with the rest of them…. oh the joys.

One of my good friends here has 2 kids – similar ages to two of mine.  The oldest is at an all girls’ high school.  Another school friend – let’s call her ‘Paige’ – lives quite a way from school and the parents both work – so sometimes it can be really difficult for her to get to and from school and so she has started to ask my friend’s kid if she can stay at their house…. this has been a pain for THEM getting to school as they carpool with another family and there aren’t enough seat belts and my friend’s office hours mean she can’t get them to school certain days – so because they have been doing this girl a favor they are having to Uber to school (and so pay for it too)…..  As if this wasn’t enough of an inconvenience the over night guest has decided that my friend’s daughter may well be cool enough for overnight visits, but during school hours she has others she would rather be seen with and so blanks my friend’s daughter.

Kids are causing their friends’ parents grief this week – I can tell you!!!


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Growing up we never had a phone until I was perhaps 6.  Even then we never really phoned anybody – it was just for emergencies.  I tell my American friend how, as a kid we would see American TV shows where all the kids had phones in their bedrooms and they would be calling each other all of the time and it just seemed so alien to us brits.

We moved house when I was 10 and again we had no phone and it didn’t seem ‘that’ unusual.  Within a few years we got a phone again after always having to bother a neighbour to make a call or using the phone box a good 10 minutes walk away…. I remember the pips and the 2p you needed – God I sound so old.

The phone number I recall was 71208. I would receive a lot of calls as a teenager and the wire was long enough to drag the phone into my bedroom or even the bathroom.  Occasionally I would make a phone call but they always had to be short.  I remember once trying to ‘woo’ back a boyfriend I had treated very badly – whenever I phoned his house I think his mum made him speak to me no matter what – and I used to have these one sided conversations with him really just wanting to get off the line.

I recall my gran going away one Christmas to Canada and I was literally home alone.  She did not phone me once in 2 weeks.

Ironically one of the longest phonically of my life was with my Hubby – we used to talk a lot on the phone when we were first dating.

My gran changed her phone number in the 90s when she fell out with someone and no longer wanted them to contact her.  I guess she went ex-directory also – but she actually gave them the new number in the end  so the change was a bit futile.  The new 73437 number never quite rolled off the tongue for me even though she had it a good 17 years.

We tried to get my gran a cordless phone – she worried how much electric it was using to charge it up (?) and didn’t like the permanent red light on the handset.  It was returned.  We also got her a cell phone at one stage which we set up and paid for.  She kept it in a box in her wardrobe- never to be used….  honestly.

Today I got her phone disconnected.  Ironically it was easier to do this for me from 5000+ miles away than it probably would have been in UK.  End of an era.  Going through the motions.  The bereavement guy for BT said the right things and was sympathetic but he warned me that at the strangest times I will still go to pick up the phone to call her without realizing she is no longer there.  Maybe….



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Things you don’t hear every day.

“You know the woman – her husband was the sex therapist……”

“Yes, we are working with a closet designer….” (wardrobes not unannounced sexuality).

“How is his bottom doing?”

“Steak IS attainable.”

“The ultimate frisbee is a deadly weapon…”

“I currently have sex.ual predator training until noon…”

“We won’t be able to tell the change in the weather when she gets her new knee.”

“Well I just didn’t have 5000 dollars to spend in a dog….”

“Where are you physically right now?”


Just a usual….. day.




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Perhaps because of the ‘hoarder’s castle’ which has been left to me overseas (will tackle during a summer visit) I am trying to sort out a lot in my own home.  we have lived here for about 13 years now – the longest I have ever lived in one place ever – and there are things which we really no longer need at all.

I saw that someone had suggested the 40 bag challenge for Lent -to get rid of a bag of stuff a day – I am not quite doing it that way but I am making progress.

Yesterday saw me putting away my ironed clothes again and also sorting out stuff that is not old necessarily but I haven’t worn for a long time. As I pulled some things out I remembered when i had last worn them and we were talking years ago.  Other things have been worn much more recently but they either didn’t fit great then or didn’t make me feel great about myself so i would not be rushing back to wear it again.  Of course there were a couple of items bought ‘for when…’ and just don;t fit into my life style.  Sad as it may seem, the majority of my items are not bought for lounging on the beaches in the South of France but more for taking the kids to school, doing a volunteer morning at the library or occasionally going out for a business dinner with the Hubby.

Today saw me rearranging some of the drawers in my kitchen.  Bread/mixing bowls/small electrical appliances have all changed location so will cause a few days of wrong drawers being opened but will hopefully make sense in the long run.  I can be quite harsh when decluttering – if we don’t use it and don’t need it then I would rather it go to be used by someone else who can make use.

I dare say that my laundry room could be next on the agenda.  Once I have dropped the 2 large bags off at the charity shop tomorrow.  Watch this space….

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Random bits and pieces.

I helped at a school sale today – quite a posh school (one of my kids goes there – the jury is still out on how it is going).  A 12 year old girl asked me if I could split a $100 bill.  She had a few in her purse.  I think in my 20+ years over here I have had just a handful of those….having said that my daughter used to get one for babysitting at a local family….she was floored with how generous they were.  One of the kids there told her that was his usual payout from the tooth fairy.

I am desperate for snow or rain.  It is so incredibly dry here at the moment – more than any other year I remember.  It hasn’t felt like a proper winter at all.

Hubby works with some new folk who are ‘into’ guns – they have a lot and can’t understand why we do not.  Apparently one has invited him over to fire a cannon.  Who the hell has a cannon at their house? omg.

The youngest has almost recovered from his surgery.  I have not forgotten his blood curdling screams of pain – they will take longer to forget than the scars he still has.  Poor thing.  I hope we don’t have that level of worry again for a while.

My car has a recall on it – an airbag issue…. which is being dealt with depending on the age of the car and the state you live in (American state rather than state of anxiety etc) – they ‘think’ parts will be here for my car next year.  Hmm.  I see using our ‘spare car’ as a good option for the foreseeable future…. Muminagolf may be a new temporary title.

A teacher at school has just found out she has the big C.  This is the second person around my age too be hit by this disease in the last 2 months.  They will get treatment and for one the odds are good – for the other not so much.  You can’t buy your health.  It is an eye opener.

The house next to us is still up for sale.  Despite this city having a current surge of house buyers – some properties selling in a couple of HOURS for over the asking price, there is little action next door to us.  We haven’t even been that noisy recently!  I think it is very overpriced for what it is so this hardly surprises me.

I am starting to come out of my ‘funk’ a bit more and see friends again.  I have done all my mulling over and thinking.  I need to be social again…. May even blog a bit more often too. We’ll see.


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Words of comfort

It is over 2 weeks now since my gran passed away.  Her cremation is tomorrow.  As per her wishes, no-one will attend and ironically there will be no service of any kind – the number of times I was forced to church as a kid…..”If you don’t get up for church, there’ll be no school disco for you this week!” sort of threats…..  Anyhow – already it seems like more than a fortnight since she died.  I have heard from birth mother two times since then.  Yet again her “would you like to keep in touch after this…?” question seems to have been just to do her ‘guilt free’ part of existence – she is performing to her normal of level of rejecting me/having no interest whatsoever in me or my life.  I am almost getting used to it by now (aged 40 something).

I received a batch of ‘condolence’ cards from England all on the same day.  It felt strange to receive these at all.  I have just finished an amazing book called ‘Liberating Losses’ which dealt with many different experiences of death but a lot of the focused people all had the same feeling as I do now – almost fraudulent to receive peoples’ best wishes when the death for which they are consoling you, is not a surprise to you and in many ways a relief.  It was an interesting and unusual premise but made me feel less alone in knowing that it is ok to not cry all the time about a family death – and to actually be sort of ok with it.

Someone in the street died unexpectedly last week.  Ironically she shared the same last name as my gran.  She was also in her eighties but it was an accident that led to her passing –  very different circumstances to my gran although I suppose when you are in your 80s you have perhaps paused to think about your eventual death more than younger people.  I saw her widow today and passed on my condolences.  He is still very shocked and said he could not really talk about it – which I fully understand.  He did also say that in a way though, it is better that she died rather than have been left with devastating disabilities which would have been the case had she survived.  I said the words that people had said to me…and offered the usual food/anything we can do etc.  They have a big family and they all live in the vicinity so he is not alone – he did share that he is sick of them already which I thought quite funny and it was good to see him also laugh.

It’s the end of several eras but on we go.  Look to the sky to find solace – if that is what you believe in.  Enjoy the sunshine and cherish every day.  Give extra tight hugs to those around you. Everyone grieves differently.  No one way is ‘it’.  On we go.

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In the end.

The call came form an unknown number – I assumed it was the doctor with news.  She had said it would be hours or days.  In the end it was about 24 hours.  My gran died peacefully in hospital.  If I don’t think about the GP who had seen her in the residential care home having deemed her ‘fine’ just the day before, I can take comfort in the fact she did not suffer in the end.  Apparently the certificate will show pneumonia and sepsis as the cause of death – she was comforted with medication rather than treated as the medics decided it was so severe the antibiotics would not have made an impact.

I am not quite sure how I feel.  I think I feel peaceful, perhaps relieved.  There is no more unknown with her now…no more worst case scenario or seeing every day that she is all right.  There was not a seeing she was happy for many many years.  Dysfunctional relationships within families mean that it is ok to miss the person but also be relieved.  To many that will seem very harsh and neglectful but they do not necessarily have the same relationships some of us have endured.

One of my kids has been quite sick so that has kept my mind occupied.  Although I do find my thoughts going in different directions now.  I am not sure I believe in heaven or an after life.  Although my gran had alluded to this in the last few weeks…. I had also listened to something recently that said that when you die you are surrounded with all your previous pets where ever you go.  That was a novel idea and I know that would make her happy.  If you also believe that those passed are ‘looking down on us’ then she will get to see our way of life and my kids….. more than the photos I sent over the years, the times she visited us in America or the times we saw her in Blighty.

There is lots to sort out.  Despite her ‘put me out with the bins!’ belief about funerals she had actually already paid for her funeral (cremation and no service) so that will not be another process to go through as such.  Hubby was over there this weekend when she died and had to go and find her funeral plan at her house. She has the older generation of ‘filing’ – a bit here and a bit there – not in the usual places – behind a 1970s bottle of Chinz.ano perhaps, under a sofa cushion or in the airing cupboard.  I felt like he was Anneka Rice going through a house asking me on speaker phone where else the paperwork could be…..  Found in the end – amongst her hoarder’s haven of goods.  I don’t recall her ever knitting since the 1980s but she has drawers full of wool and piles and piles of curtains even though she has had the same curtains in her house for 25 years…… bizarre.

My boys took it quite well – they know her but never had a happy time with her and she always made them feel very awkward when they had seen her – she was either talking about her death or criticizing me.  It was never fun to be with her.  Not that everything in life has to be fun but they never looked forward as such to seeing her.

Someone who knows the circumstances said it is the end of an era.  I guess that is true.  Closure – not yet, but the end of a life at least.

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