Carrot and stick approach.

So school starts back on the 6th August – ridiculously early in my opinion but we have been off since May 22nd so Poppy is definitely ready to get back into a routine.  She attended a first grade camp the other week to prepare her, and us, for the increased academic load of 1st grade.  Now much as I have tried to keep the reading going over the summer it became apparent that there has been some ‘it’s the summer and my brain is a sieve’ effect – hence I’ve stepped up the sight word practice, math and reading over the past week to appease my guilt and hopefully boost her confidence.  I always try to remain calm, patient and attentive and keep it light hearted and fun – i.e. I try to morph into what most would call a ‘reasonable person’.  Unfortunately Poppy is 50% me and 50% her Dad so can be prone to tantrums whilst being stubborn as a mule – great – a model pupil:)  So rather than threatening to remove all privileges if she doesn’t comply I am trying an approach that I know works well with me – bribery.  For every week that she completes her assigned activities she will receive $10 to spend as she wishes – or even save if she pleases – but I think that ‘save’ gene may be absent thanks to me.  We’ll see how the carrot approach works…but if her complaints about a week being to long to wait before being rewarded are anything to go by it’s still going to be a challenge.  Please send oodles of calm, serenity and patience my way for the next school year.

I’m very excited about the Olympics starting this week after going cold turkey this week – I’ve missed having a Tour de France stage to watch every evening…I thought I’d share this photo with you doing the rounds on the social networks.  It made me smile – my brother still calls me Eddie for various reasons:)

I’m wearing my gingham J.Crew shorts today with a pink Boden essential t-shirt that I got in the sale last year – it’s so soft I love it.  I paired them with a scarf that I think I got from Target but really can’t remember, and my Boden espadrilles from a couple of years ago.  Sorry about the wet hair just showered after a lovely 4 miles this morning!

Oh that reminds me of 2 additional sales purchases I received yesterday – 2 Blighty Boatnecks – highly recommended, though not massively reduced, they are quite thick and perfect for layering over a t-shirt in the cooler months – I love them.  I got the dusk and the quail egg and the quality is amazing.

Oh and Hugh’s stash of Fall items arrived – tartan baggies in all colors, half a dozen long sleeved t-shirts and a hoody.  Boden’s Mini Boden boys line is amazing – I particularly love the ketchup and scooter applique tees this year.  There’s some lovely girls stuff too but as Poppy is still in 5-6 I’m going to wait and see if she has a growth spurt to a 7-8 before ordering anything for her – she has plenty to choose from from last year.

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I brought too much.

Yes not surprisingly I brought too much stuff with us.  The lifestyle, the walking, and the weather over here really don’t require the array of outfits that I packed.  The need for 2 pairs of ballet flats completely obviated by consistently soggy ground and puddles.  Remind me next year folks to just bring jeans, a couple of t-shirts and a couple of sweaters – it’s all I’ve really worn.  Not that I’m complaining but it would have been nice to be able to wear a jacket other than my Patagonia Nano in June!  Well in fact I did yesterday and made a HUGE error in judgement but more on that in a moment!

On Monday we ventured off to Skipton.  Now don’t ask me why my family has always had an affinity with West Yorkshire but ever since I can remember we have been having family day trips to the lovely town of Skipton.  It’s just far enough to feel like a ‘proper day out’ and yet not too far where it feels you’re not home till dark – though that would be tough here right now – completely WEIRD that the sun is not setting till at least 10pm and rising at a ridiculously early hour.  My brother and his family joined us and we set off in convoy.

Now Skipton is a huge draw for me due to the fabulous fish and chips that it has to offer, so after a walk around the market we headed to Bizzie Lizzie’s for lunch.  Thankfully both children seem to have embraced this British institution too, though sadly remain skeptical about mushy peas.

Hugh overjoyed at the prospect of fish and chips.  Me in my Boden must have jumper in quail egg and Breton long sleeved top.  Boden’s sale will start soon but they have 40% off select styles now – take advantage if you have your eye on something it may not be there in the sale!

On then to Bolton Abbey.  This ruin has to be set in some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain.  It is idyllic and you can walk along the river through wild garlic, blue bells and foxgloves – just gorgeous – even with 2 very tired children.  I never thought I’d be the Mum urging them on and telling them the car park is ‘just around the corner’ around every corner:)

Aggressive ducks who enjoyed Hugh’s peanut butter sandwiches!

The rock climbing got a little too adventurous for me!

Poser.

At the Strid with Grandad.

Bolton Abbey is also very dear to my heart as when MM and I were trying to select a venue for our non-religious but still white wedding we landed on the Devonshire Arms – the perfect place – a bit posh but fairly unpretentious (if you don’t count the helicopter pad) – so I got to show the children yet again where Mum and Dad got married, and a few years later my sister and her husband.

Yesterday we ventured off out again, this time Chester Zoo.  Chester Zoo has changed dramatically since I was little – it’s a fabulous zoo, well looked after, clean, and large with tonnes of great animals to see.  The weather was glorious as we packed the car up in Bury – in fact I nearly put my shorts on and I got to wear my Wayfarers for the first time here!

Waiting to go – I’m in my Gap black skinnies, AllSaints Bonny Cuban boots, H&M linen long sleeved top and my Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

All Mini Bodened up:)

Now Chester Zoo isn’t that far away from Bury – we’re still in the North West of England anyway, but boy those skies darkened as we got closer to our destination.  It turned out to be that rain, very specific to the North West, that I like to call a fine, consistent, wet rain, wet as in drenched.  This is where my error in clothing was spectacular – my poor Boden leather jacket:(  The rest of my very sensible family were all prepared in their Gore-Tex waterproof jackets…not me – I didn’t get the memo.  Thankfully there seemed to be a coach load of Scousers wearing far more inappropriate attire than me – they were more fun to watch than the animals:)

I asked them to smile.

Wet, wet, wet.

The dinosaur exhibit – Hugh was far more interested in the inanimate, extinct animals.

The spitting dinosaur – couldn’t tell really due to the rain.

Awww – new baby tigers:)

Today we’re taking it easy.  My sister and her boys are coming over, I’m going for a run, and then I’m off out with an old school friend tonight.  I can’t wait to catch up – I saw her briefly last year, but really it’s been almost 20 years since and 7 children (she has 5!) since we had a night out together.  I bet neither one of us has changed too much.

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Sexy and I know it.

I’m feeling pretty virtuous today after a trip to the gym at 7.15am.  After a couple of days off it was good to get the legs moving again on the treadmill.  Though I mostly dread the treadmill I do sometimes enjoy cranking the speed up and doing a bit of interval training to see how fast I can go, and how often, before I feel like dieing.  I often wonder how and why some people jog in the gym while trying to read a book or a magazine.  For me the gym is all about pushing as hard as I can and sweating as much as I can – what’s the point otherwise?  After Super Bowl Sunday and seeing LMFAO with Madonna I had downloaded a couple of their singles.  Their tongue in cheek humor appeals to me and I loved running to “Sexy and I Know It” this morning – perfect gym music.  The video comes with a warning though – there are lots of Speedo ‘action’ shots:)

Both children were very excited this morning as they headed off to school in their new New Balance sneakers.  MM is appalled that I am converting them into New Balance fans but I assured him it was purely coincidence and they did actually select their own on Zappos.com.  My son did, however, look a little like he should be heading off to the computer science lab rather than daycare with his Dee Dee Ramone hair cut, New Balance 993s and Mini Boden baggies hiked up above the waist – he may have inherited my nerd genes…

I’m once again trying to wear as much knitwear as possible before the weather warms up for good here.  Another brand which I am obsessed with is AllSaints.  It’s purely coincidence that their flagship store in in Spitalfields where our flat is, but still provides another reason for my loyalty.  I love their knitwear – most pieces drape beautifully, have biased cuts, raw edges and external seams.  Very urban.  We don’t have a standalone store yet in Atlanta but there is a great concession in Bloomingdale’s (ask for Charlie or Alex), and I also buy a lot off their website.  Today I am wearing their Cerulean long black cardigan, a basic black tee from Express, Hudson signature bootcut jeans in Elm wash, and my black Bloomsbury boots from Boden.  A look that is completely at the other end of the spectrum from yesterday’s, and one that probably reflects more of my true style.  I feel comfortable and sexy – what else can a girl ask for on a Wednesday?  Must remember LMFAO is ironic.

AllSaints cardigan, Hudson jeans, Boden boots