It was after Blue Bear had been for a walk with Daddy and come back with a caterpillar toy from the shop. After Brown Bear had left the cottage and gone for a wander without telling anyone where he was going. After Blue Bear had yelled blue murder - we thought he had lost a limb at the very least - because his shoe had come off. It was also after Brown Bear had kicked a football into the tree outside and very nearly decapitated the son of our holiday hosts with a gigantic frisbee in an effort to retrieve the ball.
I had been afforded a lie in and some quiet time for myself - I spent it conked out instead of running as I had optimistically intended to do. Following a week when I started a new job this break has been much needed, but the early start and long drive did take their toll on the drivers. It was also the day after my lovely friend said goodbye to her beloved cat Tom. I had known him all his life and he was an adorable lad. We played tricks on her like ringing the doorbell and running away - well I ran away, he sat there and freaked her out. Oh how we laughed.
Half term is always a bit of a sharp handbrake turn in the school year. The kids are desperately ready for it and we don't usually plan to go away for this one and it's so busy. This year we decided to book to go away in a return to our 'pre-children reverie.' We went on a road trip to California one year and another we had a special weekend in Brighton to celebrate my 40th birthday.
As the sun shone today it truly felt like a holiday. As Blue Bear swaggered around with sunglasses on demanding Daddy pull the sleigh he was sitting on. As the boys and their friends ran with the bubble wands we had bought for them making trails of rainbow filled bubbles. As we sat in the sunshine and I blew out the candles on a unicorn cake (don't ask !) and the kids scoffed Peppa Pig cupcakes in record time.
Of course as soon as the sugar hit their insides they were chaos unconfined and thankfully there was plenty of space outdoors for them to run off the energy and insanity. It was lovely to see them playing outside and to be able to let them roam freely and not worry about them being within our sight the whole time. It reminded me of my own school holidays when we would go outside to play and my Mum didn't stand over us commentating on every little thing we did.
Recently I've been taking my hands off the reins and letting my boys take risks and be out of my sight more. It is terrifying. It is also quite exhilirating when I hear a glowing report about their behaviour in my absence. From the text message I got about Blue Bear on Monday asking if they could keep him as he had been so adorable on the play date and had at one point looked out at an amazing view and declared, "I can see forever." To the lovely comments from our host today saying Brown Bear has been nothing but polite and friendly to her - he was pretty rotten to his brother, but you know, small steps.
And then earlier I was sitting on the sofa and the boys were sitting side by side next to me. They were staring at a screen and looked tired. Their faces were completely relaxed and had that slight sheen from playing outside and catching the sun. As I looked at my boys I just felt overwhelmed with love and appreciation.
Yes they annoy the hell out of me and each other, but they are silly, funny, brave and gorgeous. When I recall my birthdays this one will be up there as special because I noticed. I stopped and gave myself a break. I let go and let them be free. I remembered that these boys (and the bigger one and the furry one) are just about the best thing in my life. I mean let's not be too hasty, there's still chocolate and shoes up there too.
Oh and did I mention I once met Clare Grogan as she was leaving the toilets in the theatre ?