You Were Amazing Dad or Therapy Through Blogging

This time last week I was in Mauritius with my mum and daughter making the most of our last day in paradise. It was hot, the only worry on my mind was “will the taxi turn up on time tonight for the airport?” and I was completely relaxed after a great 10 days of not doing much.

This morning I’m sat on a train going to Dorset to start dealing with funeral arrangements for my dad, who died a few days ago. There are so many worries on my mind that I can’t even process it all or sleep past 6.30 at the moment.

About 6 hours after he died, I thought “I’m over this, I feel fine” , people have probably written essays on that type of reaction. It must be some kind of defence mechanism and it’s probably not very healthy. I’m not over it and I’m going to write about it. Some people might not understand why I want to make my feelings public but I know it’s going to help me and frankly at the moment I really don’t care about being judged. I’ll post as many photos on Facebook as I want, go out as much as I want and just deal with it however I want to.

What makes me sad the most is that he couldn’t live his last years to the full due to pain and illness, that’s a shame. I’m the eldest of his 5 children and I was lucky that he gave me away at my wedding and met my daughter – my brothers and sisters won’t have that and that’s painful. If my youngest half sister graduates from university, I’ll make sure I’m there and unlike dad, T I promise you that when they are handing out a diploma for a slightly boring sounding degree I won’t shout out “I bet he’s fun at a party!”. I think this was before he fell asleep and Granny had to poke him because he was snoring so loudly…


Yep that was typical dad (typical of him, he definitely wasn’t a typical dad in good and bad ways) – he spoke his mind and didn’t give a damn what anybody thought. What was also typical and sometimes comical (and sometimes very annoying) was his ability to exaggerate a fact…indeed dad was not perfect by any means and had an uncanny ability to “enhance” the truth. He worked at festivals and clearly met famous people but which ones he “saw” versus “met”, I’ll never know and now I don’t care.

In times like these you start to see the influence people had on you. My love of rugby comes from him, I didn’t inherit his love of Chelsea FC though (#arsenal) nor his love of Stella, man that stuff is disgusting.

I do love a festival though and I will forever be grateful for all the summers I spent working and having fun at festivals, it seriously enriched my life. The people I’ve met, the music I’ve heard, the experiences I’ve had at festivals are a big part of my life and I will always be thankful for that.

There is so much more to say, so many more memories and mixed emotions. I forgive you for forgetting my 18th birthday (and some others…) you came to Berlin for my 21st so that made up for that.

So what was amazing about my dad? He embodied our surname “Armstrong” – he worked outside most of his life and could do work guys 20 years younger couldn’t, he had tons and tons of friends from hell’s angels to a disabled guy, who he looked after at WOMAD and made sure he had a pass to the site every year to people he used to play rugby with and what seems like half of the UK’s festival crew. Anybody who met him would always remember him, he really would help people if he could, he was flamboyant and fun and I recently discovered that he said years ago “if I die tomorrow, I’ll die a happy man” and that gives me great comfort.

He lived most days like it could be his last, this did mean not much sleep (which eventually caught up with him) but he had more good times in his life than 50 average people put together.

I get my belief in “carpe diem” from you dad and I’ll do my best to live life to the full (I might just be a bit more reasonable and sleep more!).  The Armstrong show must go on.

The Highs and Lows of the Past 24 Hours

Lows:

  • Getting up at 4.40AM to go to the airport
  • Not getting what you wanted out of the work trip
  • Getting home at 11PM
  • Seeing your daughter for 30 mins in those 24 hours
  • Break your favourite glasses ever in 2 at the airport
  • People staring at your sellotaped glasses
  • Spending £££ on new glasses
  • Buying lunch then realising you had brought lunch in
  • Wanting to take your mum to the Seychelles as she’s always dreamed of going back and realising it is just too expensive
  • Storm Doris causing the cancellation of your train home
  • Not realising the trains had been cancelled until you got to the station and it was PACKED
  • Getting home to a wine free house
  • Hopefully nothing else

Highs

  • Seeing your friend/client blossoming as a pregnant woman
  • Walking along Lake Geneva in the sun
  • Beer and crisps at the airport (it’s the little things, especially when everything is shit!)
  • Getting on the Heathrow Express with one minute to spare
  • Man at the opticians managing to temporarily glue your glasses back together so you can work and see until the new ones are ready 
  • Being told your vision has got a tiny bit better (I’m telling you it’s the little things, I’ll take anything at this point!)
  • Being lucky enough to live somewhere where there is the overground and the tube so you can get home despite storm Doris
  • Trying on the new bargain sale clothes you ordered and then fitting perfectly 

I’m kind of exhausted, drink anybody?!?

How To Have a Stressful Morning With a Toddler

  1. Wake your toddler up, which is always a bad sign as they are bound to be tired
  2. First warning sign is the first thing they say “I want to stay at maison” (this use of 2 languages distracts you and you don’t realise what’s about to happen)
  3. Tell toddler it’s time to go to nursery and put their shoes on, they run away faster than Bolt
  4. Manage to get their shoes on, go to brush your teeth, come back and said shoes have been taken off in record time and toddler is now hiding
  5. It’s 7.47AM
  6. Pick toddler up and wrestle the shoes back on to a background of screaming
  7. Toddler is now very angry and attacks you like an enraged cat
  8. Tell toddler to calm down and be nice, toddler looks you in the eye and starts shouting “my glasses”, whilst trying to rip them off your face
  9. Strap toddler into buggy
  10. Walk outside, hair ruined by wind

Happy Monday everyone!

A Mum’s Guide to the Office Christmas Party

Some background information: my party is tonight, I used to always take the next morning off, now I don’t work Fridays but my daughter doesn’t go to nursery either

Stage 1: carry a ton of stuff to the office, various tights in case one breaks (mums are organised like that), a second outfit choice in case you’re not “feeling” choice number 1 and all sorts of makeup you never use and that you’ve had for ages.
Stage 2: strategic lunch choice as you know you won’t eat for ages and the whole “lining your stomach” thing is actually true and very needed when you have to look after a toddler the next day
Stage 3: spend the afternoon getting slightly more and more excited and wondering at what time it is acceptable to go and get ready
Stage 4: getting ready, the tradition is my office is for the girls to go and get ready Together in the biggest bathroom in the building. Every time a random person from another office comes in , they are always quite shocked by level of noise and stuff everywhere. Getting ready involves outfit choice (see above), trying to make yourself look as good as possible despite your lack of makeup application skills, the big glasses or no glasses debate and lots of laughing and “you look amazing”. Yep we all scrub up pretty well!
Stage 5: strategic drinking, my plan is always to only drink champagne and white wine and NO SHOTS. Who you sit next to is also very strategic and most importantly always aim to get the last train home, this reduces drinking time.
Stage 6 (the next morning): famous bloody last words, is it really morning? Why is there makeup all over my pillow? Of course you can watch telly whilst mummy just sits with her eyes closed drinking tea and trying not to be sick…

My Third Letter To My First Daughter

Cheeks, in less than a week you will be 2 YEARS OLD, needless to say these were the fastest 2 years of my life. I’m writing this so I remember what you were like and to try and embarrass you and maybe make you cry when you’re older and hopefully read this.

I’m going to start with my favourite photos of you of all time.

Look at those cheeks! Look at that smile, you’re really cute. I can’t resist, here  are some more (mummy is obsessed with taking pictures of you!):

 

I’m not sure where to start, you might want to know what you are like…well you are quite the character. You are EXTREMELY independent, “me do it” is one of the things you say the most. Determined is another characteristic of yours, if you don’t want to do something well basically I have to force or bribe you. For example yesterday, we went out for a walk and you were wearing your “bellies” once you realized there  were no puddles outside so you couldn’t do “splash”, you decided you would stop walking and just stand by a wall:

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I had to pick you up and carry you down the road. The power struggles are a daily occurrence, usually involving not wanting to go in the buggy or hold my hand in the street or let me brush your teeth etc etc. Sometimes it makes me want to scream (and sometimes I do but clearly it doesn’t help the situation at all), sometimes people give me pitying looks in the street and sometimes I’m actually quite pleased you seem to have such a strong character but I don’t think we’ll know if this is your personality for ever for a few more years as it is also quite typical behavior of other monsters your age.

You love the following:

  • dinosaurs
  • playing catch
  • watching telly (mainly Frozen, Shrek 2 and Bing)
  • having a bath
  • doing chores – helping to cook and stirring things is a particular favourite
  • having tea parties
  • having your own seat on the train
  • feeding the ducks
  • doing anything by yourself basically!

You definitely have your habits and know what you like, this is what happens on a typical day:

  • wake up and chat straight away, you always have something to say, nowadays it’s usually “Elsa, Anna?”, you could watch Frozen all day, mummy bans you in the morning but every evening you watch it. The morning is for Bing and Postman Pat, you used to love Bing more than anything, Elsa has taken over

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  • You then come running over to sit on my knee, the minute you notice I have started eating breakfast and basically proceed to eat as much as my breakfast as I will let you
  • When we leave for nursery, I have too force you into the buggy by bending your legs, EVERY SINGLE DAY
  • Your BFF is called Maya, you are both so happy to see each other every morning
  • EVERY SINGLE DAY you whine when I leave you at nursery but are then fine within a minute
  • EVERY SINGLE DAY you come running up to me when you see me in the evenings as if you hadn’t seen me for weeks, it’s the best part of my day, sometimes the best part of my week. You cheer me up, wipe away any work or life stress and make me happy EVERY SINGLE DAY
  • Nowadays, you insist on walking home in the evening, this is fine as long as you hold my hand…
  • To be honest you are quite easy in the evenings, as long as there is Elsa and milk everything is fine until it’s time to brush your teeth…

This is the bit where I get a bit less objective, here are some of the things you do that make you “you” and make me think that you will probably turn out to be quite clever…

  • You started smiling at 3 weeks old and haven’t stopped since!
  • You have taught yourself some of the words to the Frozen songs, here you are in action:
  • You never forget anything and remember the most random of things – for example a few months ago we went to a new pub one rainy Sunday  afternoon and you had apple juice. Over a week later, we went past that pub again and you started shouting “juice, juice!” outside the door, I don’t know how you recognized the front door, to this day you still ask for juice when we go by that pub…
  • We were folding washing recently and you remembered that a nightie I was folding belongs to “mamie”
  • You know how things are “supposed” to be – if anybody doesn’t take their coat off and walks past the hallway, you are very quick to remind them!
  • You know how to have a good time! You were recently dancing for ages in a local pub even though nobody else was!
  • You have compassion and empathy and it is very sweet and makes me proud. Talking of mamie, when she had to leave for the airport a few weeks ago, mummy was very sad and you saw this on my face, came over, gave me a hug and stroked my back, my heart skipped a beat. It was so sweet and probably the only thing that could have made me feel better.

I could go and on and on about you, all I want you to know is that I couldn’t love you more if I wanted to (and I am sure daddy feels the same), you’ve been one of the most challenging parts of my life so far because I want to do the right thing and sometimes that means not screaming or getting angry when you just will not do something you need to do – I had never realised how difficult it could be to deal with somebody that only weighs 12 kilos but is stronger than me in many ways!!! Stay the confident, funny, lovely girl that you are, I am already so proud. You are not only challenging but you are very fulfilling too, you were definitely missing from my life.

I also want you to know that even when mummy escapes, it’s not because I don’t want to be with you, it’s because I need to be with myself for a while and with other people and come back a happier mummy (the below pic is from the day I came back from Ibiza, 12 hours before mummy was dancing under a flight path and some of my makeup is still visible! You can also spot some of the grey hairs that have appeared since your birth…)

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What do I hope for you in the future?

First of all, I hope you get to travel and go to some of my favourite places in the world such as New York City, Ibiza and France . I hope you have great friends like I am lucky to have, I hope you get to live in different countries like I have but unlike me I really hope you do a job you are super passionate about like some of these ladies. Mummy has a great job but it’s not my dream job (that’s having a cooking programme on TV in case you’re wondering…), maybe you could be the first female President of the USA? I just want you to be HAPPY and have fun, lots of fun. As one of mummy’s good friends says “the first rule of fun is to have more fun” , which is very true.

Mummy loves you and will be there to guide up, dance with you, pick you up when you fall and high five you when you reach the dizzying heights that I know you are destined to reach. Carpe Diem Cheeks!

 

A Quick Note From The Four Seasons in Hampshire

Hello everyone!

A and I are staying at the Four Seasons in Hampshire this weekend and I just wanted to write a quick blog post about how life can change.

I came here the first time in May 2014 to celebrate mine and 2 of my best girlfriend’s birthdays. I announced I was pregnant that weekend. Next week my best friend is giving birth to her second child and this weekend I’m having a mother/daughter weekend away back here in this amazing hotel.

Neither of us had any idea what becoming a mum would be like that’s for sure. There is so much to write about on the topic but this evening as A ate spaghetti bolognese (risky business in a posh hotel I know), I sat next to her having a margarita because a day travelling and then discovering a hotel with a toddler is tiring and can be stressful. I simply had no idea when I was pregnant what it means to be “tired”, I also didn’t know how much I pleasure the following could bring:

– falling asleep next to your toddler on a great big bed

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-eating a massive lunch outside at the end of September with your toddler, who is on her best behaviour and saying “hello” to everyone

-coming up with the amazing plan to put the cot in the (big!) bathroom so you can eat room service and drink camomile tea in front of X Factor without worrying about waking her up!

A genius end to a lovely but long day!