This is going to be a post about two of my favourite things – travel and Disney. In particular, the DisneyLife app. (A new branch of the ‘favourite things’ tree.)

If you’ve read even a handful of my blog posts before, you’ll know that Belle and I are pretty much permanently on mini-breaks, holed up in some caravan somewhere, and in case you were in any doubt at all about the Disney element, here’s what hangs, pride of place, on the wall at home. I’m not sure whether Bee was more excited in Disneyland Paris, meeting Stitch, or at Camp Bestival, where she met Seth Lakeman. It’s a tough call.  

DisneyLife app

The DisneyLife app

We are all very excited though about being part of the team of bloggers working with Disney to help people discover the DisneyLife app. And honestly, when I say I am excited, I really mean it. Not like when I say ‘I’m excited to be working with this new brand of high fibre cracker!’ (Although you know, it’s always nice to have work). This is proper ‘I might get to work with Disney! I can’t wait to hear from Disney!’ type excitement. Ask my fiancé, he’ll tell you how annoying I’ve been in the run up to this project going live. View Post

I have a quiz for you today! It’s only two questions, it’s not The Krypton Factor or anything, so give it a go. It has a ‘back to school’ theme:

Q.1. When it comes to labelling Belle’s clothes and equipment for school, do I:

A. Carefully iron labels onto everything, including individual socks, whilst listening to wholesome podcasts and humming classical music quietly to myself.

B. Assume that because she is now nearly 14, she’ll be able to carry a jumper and lunch box to and from school without accidentally throwing it in a hedge or leaving it in a bin.

Q.2. How many times have I had to pay to replace lunchboxes, bags and items of uniform, including a whole PE kit plus trainers, so far?

A. None. Because of the labels. Dur!

B. More times that I really care to mention. Certainly enough times to wish I had answered A to question 1.  View Post

They won’t really explode. Twinge maybe. You can read on though, without the fear of having to call an ambulance.

Okay, so health notes out of the way, I like babies. I don’t have any of my own any more, but I like looking at other people’s. Not in a creepy way, just in a ‘oh my goodness, those chubby wrists! I just want to eat them up!’ way.

(You see, totally non-creepy.)

I don’t actually know many babies in real life at the moment, so I have to get my baby fix online. Normally I just look at my friend Fritha’s baby Mabli:

 

Morning! 💕😘

A photo posted by Fritha Tigerlilly Quinn (@tigerlillyquinn) on

(Those wrists!) View Post

Look at her, isn’t she just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

bee

Back then, I don’t think I would have been able to get my head around the idea that 20 years later she would be finishing a three year degree in London – I mean, cripes, I hadn’t even started my own degree at this point! I was still on A-level maths revision. 

Not only has Bee now finished her creative writing degree, but she got a FIRST!!! In fact, she got a better first than me – 78% overall. I am normally very competitive, but I can honestly say that there is not a single little part of me that feels anything but pride for the fact that Bee is now officially better qualified than me. 

It’s a weird feeling actually. It’s first and foremost a pride in Bee, who has just been amazing, moving to London all by herself, dealing with al sorts of problems so well, and clearly being an outstanding poet, but also a sense of pride in myself. As parents, we muddle along, doing our best, not ever entirely sure of what the right or wrong thing to do is, and then suddenly they are grown-ups, and you jump a little bit, and think ‘Oh! I didn’t do so bad then after all.’

Mainly though it’s the first bit.

I know as a parent that I have this weird mixture of high expectations and general ambivalence. On the one hand, I’m happy for my children to pursue whatever goals they want, so long as it makes them happy, but on the other hand, I suspect it feels like I’m very hard to impress, because my laid back style means I can be a bit ‘whatever, that’s nice’ about just about everything. I hope Bee knows though that I am genuinely, exceptionally proud of how well she has done – both in her academic and personal life.

So yeah, whatever, well done.

I’ve just realised it’s a week since I wrote anything.

It’s funny, because blogging in some form or another is what I do for a living, and yet sometimes I forget to actually blog, if that makes sense. I get distracted by other projects, or bits of work, and then I don’t know, I guess I just imagine it sort of ticks along, writing itself. 

Clearly it doesn’t, or I wouldn’t be waffling away here to fill the void.

So, what have I been doing instead with my time? Well, I’ve was in London at the end of last week – I had lunch with Alesha Dixon (fancy!) and then met with the lovely people from eHarmony to talk about the relationship advice blogging I do for them (haha!). Then Belle and I spent the weekend in a yurt, which I will tell you more about in the next week or so, and then this week I’ve been back in London again.

I haven’t met any celebrities for lunch this week, but yesterday I did go for a lovely (and very hot) walk around Notting Hill, looking out for pretty door pictures. Instagram is one of the things I’ve been distracting myself with, so if you’re a fan of a door, do go and have a look.

 

I normally do a central door, but I couldn’t not include this beautiful wisteria.

A photo posted by Josephine Middleton (@slummysinglemummy) on

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Although Belle is 13 now, and has moments where she looks at me like I am possibly the most embarrassing parent ever to have walked the earth, she has always had a strong streak of concern for others.

If I’m upset about something, she knows. If I’ve been crying, she sees it, and does what she can to make me feel better. Basically, she cares about other people. She may be super bossy with her friends, and genuinely believe that she shouldn’t ever have to do washing up, but essentially she’s a thoughtful child.

I will always remember picking her up from nursery one day, when she must have been about two and a half years old. To help you picture the scene, I looked up this picture, which was one of those standard portraits they make everyone sit for at school and nursery. When I saw it then, for the first time in a while, I felt my chest constrict and my heart rush up into my throat. Where have my babies gone?!

recapturing childhood innocence View Post

“Where do babies come from?’

“Why does it get dark at night?”

“What sort of tree is that?”

“Why don’t we fall off the earth when we are upside down?”

Some of these sort of parenting questions I find easier to answer than others. My tree knowledge for example is pretty poor, unless there’s something obvious like a conker happening. I swear that when I used to ask my mum questions like this, she knew the answer to everything. The older I get though, the more I wonder if actually she was bluffing a lot of the time, and that if you say pretty much anything to a child in a confident voice, they will believe you.

(See ‘5 things my mum told me that probably aren’t true’ for further evidence.)

I had sort of assumed that as your children grew up, became adults, left home, got jobs etc, that they would stop asking questions like this. I was wrong. Bee claims she is ‘slightly too old to Google things as a first instinct’ and so instead she texts me her question.

Recently they have included:

“How do I cook stir fry?”

“How much is a first class stamp?”

“Do you think I’m having a stroke?”

And, most recently, this:

 

I do actually quite like the watering can analogy, because it does work a bit like that, although, as I went on to explain, it doesn’t come from one big tank like a watering can, but is a complex system of ducts, that all come out in the same area.

I love it of course that she still asks me questions, (and that she thinks I might know the answers), and all the more so because I know that it’s partly just a reason to be in touch. I’m a bit rubbish at communicating generally, (with individual people rather than Twitter), and so it’s good that one of us takes the initiative.

And texting is so easy isn’t it? Which is good, because Bee doesn’t know how much a stamp costs.