Tuesday 30 June 2015

Things I regret now my children have left home

Hindsight is a wonderful, but it always comes too late.

There are many things I've learnt as a parent, that have shaped me and changed me into who I am today.

But my parenting days are over and although hopefully I'll have Grandkids one day, it'll not be the same as raising my own kids and to be honest, although I'm sad that my parenting days are over now, I really don't have the energy to do it all again.

My kids are all grown up and have their own lives. My youngest is 16, but as he's in full time boarding school in the UK while I live in Dubai, he grows and changes without me. In fact all 5 of our children have moved into adulthood without their parents around. Actually they seem to have done rather well for themselves, are content, happy, have girlfriends, careers and a place to call home.

I started life as a parent in May 1992, I was 21. I finished as a full time parent in January 2015. I spent the last 4 years as a SAHM, but prior to that I worked and studied. I had spells as a SAHM when a child was born or we moved to a new area, but I worked part time and studied and all 3 of my boys were in nursery or with a child minder or after school clubs prior to starting school.

In 2005 I went to University, in 2008 I started work full time and had a career. On top of that as a parent I had pack lunches, homework, taxi runs most nights of the week and weekends with their schools, part time jobs and sport. Add to that a husband who worked away most weeks, I had laundry, supper to cook, housework etc.

I had a full and varied 2 years, prior to moving to South Africa and gave it all up. I worked as volunteer but with no family near by, I worked within school hours only. I was home every evening. Child 4 of 5 learnt to drive and slowly my 'Mum' duties stopped. I was no longer required to give lifts to and from school, to mates, to football....and then they left.

So here I am, with a varied and full life behind me, well adjusted (they've had their moments) kids. I've not been able to work for the past 5 years due to rules and visas in the countries I have lived in and I'm wondering what it has all been for.

I needed something else than being 'just a mum' I needed to be able to join in with the 'real world' to personally achieve something, to be valued, to have a role in society, to be me.

I can't go back and change the course of my life, it has happened, it has lead right up to this spot today. But there are still things I regret, things I can't change, but there are lessons I can pass on to my adult children and their girlfriends, so they don't reach the same stage I'm at, right now, with regrets and they are:

  • Not worry about the washing up, hoovering, ironing. There is plenty of time in the day for that, instead of taking a long bath, I wish I'd had a quick shower and read more to my kids at bedtime. 

  • I wish I'd spent longer on the touchline when they were playing football, rather than sitting in the car with a coffee, reading a book.

  • I wish I'd had more structure to my approach to their homework. I wish I'd played with them when they were in the garden instead of tidying up their bedrooms, that they were only going to mess up again.

  • I wish I'd been more relaxed about the mess in their bedrooms rather than getting all shouty and stressed out about it.

  • I wish I'd listened to them when they said they no longer wanted to go to gym, have swimming lessons, practice their musical instruments, rather than make them finish off the end of the term.

I regret running the PTA, the local football club, saying yes to extra work when we didn't need the money, all to do what? To have a career when the children had left home, so I wasn't left without anything to do.

I regret wishing the time away so they were more independent.

I regret interfering with their rows and squabbles as they'd end up ganging up on me.

I regret making them go to parties of children they didn't particularly like, when they said they didn't want to go.

These are regrets for me as a parent, I'm sure my children have a whole list of things that they wished I'd done differently, such as bedtime rules, electronic games, pocket money, pets, staying out later, different holidays, eating out more, a lift to school everyday and back and forth several times with forgotten PE Kit and I'm sure the list goes on and on and on.

It's made no difference, to where I am now, I'm not working, I don't have any children at home. But I didn't realise back in 1992 that part of having children would was about shaping me and making me who I am today, it's was not about putting my life on hold and making sacrifices.

Monday 29 June 2015

Week 26 - My Sunday Photo

Here I am, another coffee, in yet another mall, in yet another country.

All this travel is getting tiring and somewhat boring. Going new places and meeting new people isn't boring in itself, but the actual flights and journeys are tedious and when you arrive in a new country, everything is all too familiar these days.

As a family we've travelled all over Europe and into Scandinavia, explored the West Coast of America, visited Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and finally ended up living abroad, first in South Africa and now Dubai. We've travelled just the two of us, with a combination of up to all 5 of our children and we've travelled separately, either to visit family, experience new places or with work.

I'm currently visiting Canada on my own, the kids are in the UK, hubby is back in Dubai. Everything looks familiar. I have no idea these days as to what companies originated in what country.

There are coffee shops, stores and fast food restaurants that I've shopped at, in the UK, South Africa, Dubai and now here in Canada. I'm tired of living my life indoors, in malls. In South Africa one shops in the malls due to safety, in Dubai it's because of the heat.

I've visited a few little towns during my stay in Canada. The City of Hamilton itself is lovely to walk around, old buildings, churches and museums with open spaces, parks and a gorgeous walk down James Street filled with individual shops, selling fruit and veg, clothing and antiques as well as quirky art pieces and non chain coffee shops.

I had lunch and the edge of Lake Erie, explored a small part of Lake Ontario and next weekend I'm off camping in Algonquin, a 4 hour drive north east of Hamilton. I'm looking forward to being in the middle of nowhere, away from Tim Hortons and exploring a part of Canada that not a lot of foreign tourists will get to experience.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Week 26 - Project 365

I'm half way home, well with Project 365 and the two daily photo prompts from fmsphotoaday and snaphappybritmums. I'm also half way home in regards to my trip to Canada. I'm also incorporating one daily positive if I'm unable to find good in a particular day. I was unable on day 145 to find a positive about anything, but I guess 1 day out of half a year isn't that bad really.

Big test for me next week. I'm going camping, in the outback, in Canada. The campsite has NO facilities other than a box in the ground, open to the elements, water is taken from the lake and boiled before drinking and of course there is no electricity. I'll be taking my nikon camera, book, letter writing set and as much chocolate and bags of sweets as I can manage to carry when we get to the portage stages. I'll also be uploading days 183-186 on my return, assuming a grizzly bear hasn't eaten me.

Day 172 #onedailypositive #wet #fmsphotoaday #dad #snaphappybritmums

After a lovely sunday roast, what better than a walk around Princess Point, Lake Ontario in Canada. I phoned my dad this morning and left him a gift when I visited the UK earlier this year and made sure the kids acknowledged hubby who is home in Dubai on his own. I think both 'dads' have probably had the best Father's Day ever, child free.....lol

Day 173 #onedailypositive #money #fmsphotoaday #landscape #snaphappybritmums #project365

I thought I'd have trouble getting both photo prompts together today, was going to take a picture of some money with a landscape behind me, then discovered the money actually has a landscape on it.

Day 174 #onedailypositive #view #fmsphotoaday#savvy #snaphappybritmums #project365 

In Canada the banks produce polymer notes in order to reduce counterfeiters. The new notes cost 19 cents to produce where as the old 'paper' money cost 9 cents to produce. It may not make sense looking at it like that but in my view someone was being savvy as it saves the government more each year than it does to produce the new notes

Day 175 #onedailypositive #InTheGarden #fmsphotoaday #RedFruit #snaphappybritmums #project365

In the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Canada. Pomegranate tree.

Day 176 #onedailypositive #DepthOfField #fmsphotoaday #BallGame #snaphappybritmums #project365 

I have no idea how to focus my nikon to blur either the foreground or background, I however can do it accidentally. Try as I might, it just didn't work. The photo was taken at the Canadian Museum of Football in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Day 177 #onedailypositive #gift #fmsphotoaday #grass #snaphappybritmums #project365 

Couldn't have wished for a better photo prompt as today is my birthday. I started celebrating 25hrs ago at midnight Dubai time and opened my gifts from the lovely Catherine and family. 2 beautiful pashminas and a tshirt with Canada on. I then opened gifts from hubby, Glee box set (don't judge me) a hello kitty watch (I said don't judge) from my friend in South Africa and a selection of goodies from my niece and friends in the UK. It's been wonderful sharing my birthday with family and friends from around the world, here in Canada.

Day 178 #onedailypositive #mini #fmsphotoaday #polkadot #snaphappybritmums #project365 

In an attempt to take the Nikon off automatic settings after 7 months, I managed to get this shot.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and World of Birds. Cape Town.

I travelled to Cape Town in August 2014 with my teenage son. He moved back to boarding school in the UK the year before and we'd never got round to taking him to CT when he lived here. Having made a 27 hour journey by train, the last thing he wanted to do was get on a bus and tour the City. He did come out with me on the 2nd day and the 3rd day we hired a car and drove to Hermanus to whale watch and see the penguins at Betty's Bay on route.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are located at the eastern foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town and is one of nine National gardens with five of the six different biomes in South Africa. Founded in 1913 to preserve the unique flora.

I visited on a very wet and windy day. I bought a two day pass with City Sightseeing on the Hop on Hop Off bus. Kirstenbosch was my first stop so I took a photo of the time table at each stop. Unfortunately I confused the photos and ended up waiting an hour at World of Birds.

The newly opened Centenary Tree canopy Walkway or Boomslang, meaning tree snake, is 130 m long and 12 m above the ground, and has wheel chair access is a fab way to view the scenery.

Kirstenbosch contains many plants, including my favourites the Protea, the national flower of South Africa and the Strelitizia regainae 'Mandela's Gold' or more commonly known as the Yellow Bird of Paradise. It symbolises liberty, magnificence and good perspective.  

Returning to the entrance, I'd just missed a bus, so I opted for a walk round the gift shop and a coffee.

Hopping back on the bus, my next stop was World of Birds, it was still raining and the attraction did have some shelter from the rain with the trees. I was overwhelmed by the smell and wasn't too impressed with the hygiene and the layout. Also there were peculiar combinations of birds in the enclosures and chickens seemed to feature in large numbers. 

There was also a monkey enclosure and other animals. However I didn't want to go in there, again due to the smell. There was a large school group in at the same time and the air was filled with teachers yelling at the kids and blowing whistles. 

I walked round to reach the exit to discover I'd misread the timetable for the bus and waited for 30 minutes in the bus shelter, it's not somewhere I'd be visiting again in a hurry.

Monday 22 June 2015

11 handy uses for a Pashmina in Dubai

The Pashmina is one of my top 4 essentials for travel that I carry with me at all times in Dubai.

But what can you use it for? What is it's purpose other than a fashion item?

1. As a head covering, out of respect for the local culture. I had to remove my sleeved top for the henna tattoo.
2. As a blanket for the beach
3. A pillow
4. Taking the chill off when the sun goes down
5. A sarong
6. To wrap up wet bathing suit after a trip to the beach

7. To protect the back of the car when the dog jumps in and out
8. To protect against the heat
9. To place on a park bench before sitting down if wearing light coloured clothing and also to stop you sticking to the seat and to keep the dirt and sweat off from the previous person who sat here.
 10. To add a splash of colour
11. To pack round bottles in the boot of the car

Sunday 21 June 2015

Saturday 20 June 2015

Week 25 - Project 365 From Dubai to Canada

This week started in The UAE and ended up with me in Canada. It was a planned trip, although give me the opportunity and I'd hop on a plane everyday and explore somewhere new. 

I've struggled a bit with getting the two photo prompts into one picture this week and I've been a little creative with words rather than images. I was also not able to make Day 168 Jewellery prompt fit in anyway without sounding too corny 'on the Airbus 380, the jewel in the sky' so I just left it out.

Hubby has been away a lot, we've been apart for 3 out of 4 weeks and I'm not returning to Dubai until July 9th. Hopefully neither of us are travelling again until hubby goes to Europe end of August and I join him beginning of September for child 4 of 5 passing out parade.

it took 3 days for me to adapt to Canadian time, waking at 2am and wanting breakfast, despite it not being breakfast time in Dubai. My watch is still set to UAE time so I can Skype with hubby, my phone and laptop automatically reset to local time

Day 165 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎MakesMeFeelGood‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎picnic‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ 

This weeks photo prompts will be travel related as I may have mentioned once or twice recently that I'm off to visit @catherine_alwaysaredhead in Canada on Wednesday. I have 2 x 23kg luggage allowance and I've managed to pack EVERYTHING into one suitcase. It was no PICNIC (sorry) but it MAKES ME FEEL GOOD

Day 166 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎sun‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎steps‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ 

The average human walks 1320 steps per km. I drove the 1km to the beach, because even at sunset it's too hot in ‪#‎Dubai‬ in summer.

Day 167 #onedailypositive #anything #fmsphotoaday #joy #snaphappybritmums #project365  

I was going to write the word 'anything' in sweeties as sweeties give me joy, but by the time I 

remembered I only had enough left for joy

Day168 #onedailypositive #lunchtime #fmsphotoaday#jewellery #snaphappybritmums #project365 

I was served breakfast at lunch time and lunch was served at 5pm and another lunch at 10pm just before I landed on Thursday morning according to my body clock but was still Wednesday in Canada somewhere between lunch time and dinner time and at the time of posting its only 2 hours till lunch time where I've flown from in Dubai

Day 169 #onedailypositive #local #fmsphotoaday #BlueSkies #snaphappybritmums #project365 

Visiting Canada, my local area for 3 weeks.

Day 170 #onedailypositive #9oClock #fmsphotoaday #BiBs #snaphappybritmums #project365

Todays 9 0'clock photo in a grocery store, boring? no not for me. This is a grocery store in Canada and I'm finding it fascinating to see products I recognise from living in the UK, South Africa and Dubai. I am slightly puzzled by what products are considered to be British and when I return to Dubai in 3 weeks I'm going to see if there is a Canadian section in the supermarkets over there.

Day 171 ‪#‎onedailypositive‬ ‪#‎WhatAmIDoingNow‬ ‪#‎fmsphotoaday‬ ‪#‎friends‬‪#‎snaphappybritmums‬ ‪#‎project365‬ 

I'm in Canada 11,092 Kms from my home in Dubai, I've come to visit my friend @catherine_alwaysaredhead who I met online 3 years ago. I was living in South Africa struggling with my new life as an expat and asked the world of Twitter if anyone would like to be my pen friend. The letters cross the Atlantic every month, although we chat on face book and twitter we still write with family and personal news both good and bad. So when Catherine said she'd live to meet me one day, I booked my flight and 6 months later, here I am.

Friday 19 June 2015

Creating a garden in the desert and summer plant camp

This week saw some last minute gardening. I sowed some seeds a few weeks ago I never imagined that they’d actually grow now we are in summer in Dubai. I’ve transplanted them now but I’m in Canada and relying heavily on hubby to water them for 3 weeks.

However, the weeds seem to be growing very well in the sand. I had to finish outside by 8.30am as that’s when the sun hits the sandpit full force and by the time I finished it was 33c with 66% humidity.

My Garden in the Sandpit has been entirely experimental, observing what the municipality is growing, visiting garden centres and just sheer potluck.

The marigolds were a great success, they grew well and flowered for ages, but sadly, this week, I was left with a big gap in the raised sandpit that needed filling.

During my visits to garden centres I’ve been purchasing ‘bargain’ plants. You know the ones no one wants to buy as they are at the end of the season and finished flowering, With a bit of TLC they are thriving and as they are annuals, they will flower again next year and slowly I’m establishing a nice looking flower bed.

Our garden and that of the neighbours is surrounded all year round by these plants, I have no idea what they're called, but they're very pretty.

Bringing the garden inside just hasn’t worked, it looked lovely for a few days, I had to refresh the water daily as it was heating up and the herbs and cut flowers don’t seem to like the constant air con and wilted within 3 days.

3 of the 4 tea cup plants have survived as they are houseplants and the two I placed outdoors in my bargain buy planters from Ikea are also doing well.

I have wondered what people do with their houseplants when they flee Dubai for the summer. Easy Dubai Garden Centre are offering to look after your plants free of charge. You are limited to 6 plants per person and no more than 1.25 meters in height, simply drop them off, the garden centre take care of them for you and you collect on your return.

I have some seedlings that weren't big enough to plant out before I left, I recognise some of them as Basil, but will have to wait and see when I get back what the others are.

Sadly, since taking this photo at the start of the week, the tomato plants are no more. They never really survived the move from direct sunlight to the shade and have failed to flower.

I just have to keep reminding myself that not much grows in a UK winter so why should it grow in summer in Dubai when the temperatures are at such extremes.

Next weeks post will be coming from South Africa and a trip I took in September last year to see the spring flowers in the Western Cape.