Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Fear

In my recent blog post 'No More Babies For Us', I dared to mention something that some people may find a bit 'taboo'... I said one of the things that I saw as a positive outcome of our decision not to have anymore children was that I could start thinking about what I would like to do once I had a little more time (i.e when J2 goes to school or even gets his Nursery hours next year).

I could easily spend all that time maintaining the house and garden I am sure, but I am not that kind of girl (my motto : houses are to be lived in, clean and tidy yes (with clothes in the wardrobe not the bedroom chair, Dear Hubby...), but not a show home).  No I meant, would I look to go back to the world of work?  But the burning question, What Sort of Work? 

Almost all of the people I know, literally with the exception of one or two, are generally unhappy at work.  I always say that you spend the majority of your time at work and therefore you should be happy there, doing that role for 90% of the time (there are always going to be off days / an unpleasant situation or two to deal with / tasks that are not your favourite) because life is just too short.

But in the economic state we live in, it is far and wide very difficult to switch jobs, due to financial commitments, lack of roles (particularly at the moment) or just finding the time and energy to do so.  Thus, for many they stay in the same employment because they are kind of 'stuck'.  And to consider changing careers altogether?  Does it get any scarier? 

Sadly we seem to either pick or fall into an employment path at the age of 16, 18 or 21 (generally depending on how far we wish to take the education route) and feel that we have too / are forced too stay there.  Choices we make at a very young age, with no experience and very different outlooks on what we want from life, seemingly make most of us rather unhappy by the time we hit 30.

For some, like me, I was happy with my choice of career until my biological clock kicked in.  Then I was very fortunate and lucky the second time around to be able to make Motherhood as a Stay at Home Mum my new career.  But me, being the planner that I am, now know that when my last and youngest baby scoots off through the school gates, I have the chance, a rare and sacred chance to choose a new career.

The Big Question is, what will I do?  Will I fall back into what I know, on the understanding that once the novelty of a new work environment wears off, I will be as bored and frustrated as I was beginning to get before?  Will I need to try and get back into work as quickly as possible for financial reasons thus needing to go back into what I am qualified to do?  That, no one can predict.  Or will I take the opportunity that I hope will be there and take the plunge, that big scary plunge and try and get into a career that has always been my 'If you could do any job it would be...' answer?

There you have it, I said it, the scary plunge.  And scary it is, in actual fact, it's terrifying.  To try and go out and actually do what you dream you would like to do!  Why is it scary?  For many reasons.  A dream is beautiful and lovely in your head because it is perfect.  You are great at it, everyone else thinks you are fantastic at it and nothing can ever go wrong with it.

By trying to do what you hope you might be good enough to do in real life, wow you are putting yourself up onto a 100ft high, but only 1ft wide pedestal, where you are stripped naked.  You are going to get the truth, and in this world that means you will receive criticism, negativity, what you do might not be liked and marvelled at.  What you think you can do might never take off and your dream failed.  And there lies The Fear.  That age old, stop you in your tracks question: 

What if I fail?

And if you do then not only have you failed, you no longer have a dream either, which is a double sucker punch.  On the other hand, if you don't put yourself out there and try you'll instead spend your entire life wondering, and probably die thinking 'F*** it, regret not trying now, what would it have hurt?  My pride for a day?  A Week?  A Month?.'  And would it not be worse, to be having this same debate in my head when I am 80, instead of taking the chance of failure and if I do, thinking o.k so now it's time for a new dream then?  I am not sure.

I am lucky enough to be going to see Jodi Picoult speak about writing in April.  Maybe that can be my question to her; Was you ever so paralysed by The Fear that you considered not putting your writing and passion and dream out there?  Be interesting to see what she says.

Has anyone out there taken the plunge and realised your career dream?  How did it work out for you?  Did you find a dream career without realising it was going to be so?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Grooving My Way Through January - How am I doing this week?

I have to say that I didn't think I was doing that well with my grooving progression but having made notes to sit and write this post I am doing much better than I thought, go me eh?  Am laying down foundations for things without realising it!

As I said, I decided to break down my Aims and Hopes for 2012 bit by bit.  My choices to try and get up and running with for January were outlined in my blog 'Grooving My Way Through January' and it's that time to review how I am doing so far :


* Publish at least three blog posts per week, and if I can get really super good write extra and 'programme' (go me) them to publish themselves throughout the week

I have managed to continue to do this and have started carrying my 'pink note pad' around with me again to make notes / keep ideas in when I am not able to get to the laptop. 

* Fit two runs a week in and see if I think I will be get up to standard for the half marathon I optimistically booked myself on to back in October (which is March - sorry just picking myself up laughing off the floor) but at least I will have tried

Yay!  I did get that run in on Saturday and it was delightful.  I did not get the Tuesday one though, or last Saturdays.  So, my compromise is if I can't get out to run, to help get my fitness levels up to help with the running I am going to crack out the old 'fitness DVD collection' and when I can't run, do that instead.  Watch this space.

* Fit one afternoon spa session in - it's January, it's miserable and cold and a little indulgence might go a long way

Still 'planning' on going next week...


* Start reading with J1 again and try and find out the best way of helping him start to learn to read, rather than just remembering the whole story from memory, although that is pretty impressive too!

I have got an appointment with J1's class teacher tomorrow to review some school bits and pieces and to ask about the 'Starting to read' idea.  Continuing with the evening reading, and he has started to ask for story time when he has his 'chill out sessions' (stretching out) on his bed.  All good.

* Continue to encourage J2 to sit on the potty first thing in the morning and before and after bath time

I am stunned and pleased with the progress being made on this one.  We have had numerous puddles left in the potty and J2 does enjoy a big round of applause!

* Cook at least '4' real meals a week

Yup, Yup, Yup, Check, Check, Check, just call me Delia... well... maybe not quite Delia yet (the food processor still hasn't ventured out of the cupboard yet).

However, as pleased as I am with the continued progression with these targets, it is the additional ones I have found myself beaming with pride over.  In the chaos of life in this household the following steps have been mustered :

- Try and find new and suitable activities for the whole family to participate in at weekends

We started this last weekend.  As it is still thick winter, and needing indoor activities we suddenly remembered how much enjoyment J1 was getting out of bowling last year.  We assessed the 'danger' level for J2 of this and decided that between the two of us we could probably keep him from; running up the lands, crushing his fingers in the balls, trying to pick up the balls, running away (the list goes on).  We armed ourselves with drinks and snacks and only booked for an hour.  I would say for three quarters of that hour it was a success, the other 15 minutes were J2 hell, so overall a good trip out!

- Start weekly swim sessions with J2 again

All ready to go this Thursday, to an under 5's only session.  I love this session, the children are too little to be diving on your head and the pool put out appropriate swim aids to try.  Also everyone is in the same boat when trying to get the children dressed, ie. they are running around and you are attempting to catch them.  Can happily not have to endure the 'pity' looks from other, childless swimmers.
- Bake something new with the boys at least once a month

Excelling in this one!  Not only was a successful Lemon Drizzle cake planned and baked last week, but this week we have the ingredients for Chocolate Covered Butter Shortbread.  Yummy, yes please.

- Write first draft of my series of childrens books

Files set up on my computer, and all my scrappy handwritten notes / ideas transferred into sensible, legible data.

- Plan one weekend away a year, just Hubby and Me

I think our plan is to take our weekend away to go to the Bullies Out Charity Ball in Cardiff again this year, as it was so awesome last year (this combines with spending the weekend with our best friends so doesn't get better than that!).  But we have also discussed the possibility of going out for a meal Valentines, and we need to decide what we are going to do to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in March. 

I am also going to BritMums Live this year, and we have worked out that we could have a lovely night in the City in a lovely hotel together combined in.

Wow, anything is possible!  To see what other fantastic bloggers are surprising themselves by achieving head on over to Kate on Thin Ice and check out the other Grooving Mums.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

No More Babies For Us - Why the shock?

It never fails to amaze me how genuinely shocked people are when they ask if The Hubby and I are going to have any more children and I say 'no' and they say 'Well never say never' and I say 'No, we really have made our decision, you know, snippity snip...' (stunned silence usually follows this).

Since we made our decision last year, we have been very comfortable with it.  We had lengthy discussions, long thinking times and a period of 'leaving it to chance'.  It was that final phase that made me realise that perhaps I did not want to have anymore children, through this period I kept thinking 'oh my god, if I am pregnant I just don't think I could cope.' 

And I didn't just mean with pregnancy, I feel I am at capacity of coping well with the children that we have now and I didn't want to have another and it be to the detriment of our family we already had.  I almost got to panic attack stage if my period was just a day late.  Thus, I took the plunge and had the conversation with The Hubby that resulted in our 'final decision'.  Although I think The Hubby would have liked to have had a final shot (pardon the pun...) at having a girl, he fully understood and comprehended where I was coming from.

The biggest concern for me in situation was time issue.  That is, being able to give the children quality time, one to one time, 'unstressed mummy' time.  Having J2, and him being such a live wire, was a bit of a shock to the system (J1 couldn't be a more placid nature) and I hadn't really and fully comprehended how much time this would take away from J1.  I knew it was always going to, but I didn't realise how much.  J2 is completely fearless and full of daredevil and mischief so attention wise he gets a good majority, just on the basis of keeping him in one piece.

Attention is spread thinly enough.  J1 with his disabilities needs extra time, which I don't feel he gets now, without adding another baby in the mix.  Some people asked why we didn't wait until J2 was a little older, and less demanding and then try, but all the time that there is a 'baby in the house' J1's extra time he needs is depleted.  This is not going to change.  It is not a variable in the equation. 

What put us off having another one straight after J2 was that I wanted to enjoy his babyhood (I do not fair pregnancy that well) and I worried that 'The Pregnancy' and my own well being would overtake the importance of his baby-hood and again even further take away from what I could give J1 also.

In the end we were questioning whether the reason we were in the throngs of discussion about having another child was mostly so that we felt there would be someone else to love and look after J1 if (god forbid) for any reason we were not around.  And that, was not a good or fair reason to that baby. 

So, the decision was made. The appointment at the clinic made, attended and sixteen weeks later deemed a success.  I felt content that although the Chapter of 'having babies' was closed for us, it opened up a lot of other doors, we could start planning things longer term, like a big family Disney holiday because there was no longer the question of how many of us there would be, if we had more babies how many years to wait (my rule is I do not go abroad until they are off of formula, out of nappies and can get sensibly in a restaurant!). 

We now know the number of our brood so we know what we need in the future with regard to car's, bedrooms, house space etc.  I have more of a clear picture of what the next few years hold for me in regard to what I will be doing, and have time to do.  I can start thinking about what I would like to do when J2 also goes to school.

I, as mentioned on numerous occasions, am a 'planner' rather than a spontaneous person, so for me this all makes me feel calm.  Of course, I did have the pang of 'Is this really, absolutely, definitely what I want', on the way to the hospital for The Hubby's procedure because there really is nothing like feeling your baby move inside you and pregnancy is an amazing priviledge, I had to be sure I was I really ready to give that up.  But having babies is more than that, it's having children, from new babies, to explorative toddlers, to the school years and the teenage minefield,  And for us, stopping at the number we have, for us, is right.

I suppose the real test of broodiness was just recently when 'One Born Every Minute' began a new series and a seemingly 90% of my friends announced they were pregnant, but I have watched the programmes and seen them with their bumps and still feel happy that our 'having babies' days are a wonderful memory and now it is time to really enjoy all the stages that our children are going through and start planning our exciting adventures and thinking about what the future holds for us all.

Exciting times.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Most Full Time Job in the World

A dear friend of mine got married last year.  At the Hen Do we got a rare chance to sit and chat and catch up.  She asked me if I was enjoying married life (yes) and if I was going to have any more children (no).  She said that her 'husband to be' really wanted to start trying for children straight away, as soon as on the honeymoon, but being the ever practical lass that she is, she couldn't afford to give up work as they would have debt from the wedding to pay off.

Fast forward to now and we managed to have a quick chat the other day.  I asked if she thought that they might try for a child this year and she replied 'Yes, if only to get me out of that 'hell hole'' (i.e place of work).  I understood that completely, the yearning to not have to work in the city (why do we do it?  For the experience, and for a while it's great, and for the better money of course) but to not have to get up at 5.30am to make a train at 6.30am come, wind, rain or shine, is beyond dreams.  To not have the commute there and back that invariably at least twice a week, makes you late in to work and even later home.  To not have to catch every bug that is going around the germ infested train carriages and air conditioned office with no windows.  To not have to think a dozen times a day 'I am never going to get this time back'.

However, I had the knowledge from already having one child that the SAH parent option was not an easy way out.  Far from it.  When I decided to trade the City for the Cradle a second time, yes I wanted to 'get out of the rat race' but moreover, I really wanted another child, I was ready at last to take the plunge and try for another baby, and I think only with that real wanting, and not just thinking it justifies you leaving a job you dislike, can you really survive being a stay - at - home mum. 

Many times you may think to yourself 'Why did I do this?' because it is trying and does force you to 'count to 10' numerous times in the day (particularly when they hit the dreaded toddler hood of course) and if it isn't what you want truly with all your heart, you could be in trouble.  The important thing for me is, in this role never once have I sighed and thought 'I am never getting this time back', but more 'this is our time', with all it's challenges and stress level enhancing power, it's an amazing time.

Now I didn't want to rain on her parade, and I know that they are a sensible couple, who certainly do want to have children, and I hope that they do, but at the right time for them because I think what people do not always do is weigh up the pro's and con's of taking up The Motherhood in a stay at home capacity (I do not say full time here, because you are a parent full time whether you are SAH or WAH or work out at a place of employment). 

What I will be saying to her when we get a proper chance to have a chat (ha ha, more than a text but less than a relaxed afternoon lunching and supping cocktails, they certainly fly out the window with the birth of a child!) is that; yes you do lose all those crappy parts of the job that you are pretty sure was never in your description when you started, and the commute, but be aware of the things you might not be so keen to leave behind... 

For example, the chance to take a shower / bath on your own to get ready for your day, or just the time to actually get ready for your day full-stop, adult conversation on a continuous level (which is one of the harder things to get used to not having I believe), lunch with colleagues / friends uninterrupted with a bottle of wine, opportunities to go for a drink or meal after work impromptu.  In actual fact the opportunity to do anything impromptu until they are out of nappies / off of milk / can walk sensibly and generally be almost a child of secondary age.  The luxury of doing whatever you want at the weekend, including shopping all day.  And the most important one, the loss of your own salary.

Now, this last one I think nowadays is a big deal for most women.  From my experience with most of my friends we have all been very independent, stand alone women for a portion of time prior to meeting our partners, who have earned their own money and lived on their own, thus dealing with their own finances and spending however they want.  This is difficult to let go of. I speak from my own experience. 

I have been a SAHM for two and a bit years now, and I still struggle to get my head around the fact that I do not earn a salary and have sole control over the house finances.  Of course I was thrilled that we were in a position for me to give up my salary and stay - at - home with the children, prior to this I was a single mother and needed to go out to a full time, paid job, but I did not realise how I would react to the situation.  It has taken a long time for me to get out of that 'me and mine, to joint and ours' and is still something I have to work on.

And I was shocked by this, because leaving work and having another child and being a SAHM is what I really wanted, I did not see the finance issues a-coming.  I thought it would be more the stress of losing an income but it wasn't it was more the feeling that I was completely dependent on someone else.  You can take the girl out of Independent Land but you can't take the Independent outta the girl I guess.

Something else that you really have to face up to, is that you are on duty 24/7, 365 days a year, whether you are sick, emotional, tired or hungover.  Kids can not be put on hold until you are feeling chipper again, and require the same amount of energy levels spent on them no matter how you are feeling.  There is no 4 weeks statutory sick leave in this job (or 'late into work because you overslept' - you will never oversleep again in fact...)

Parenthood, is the most full time job in the world,  unpaid financially, long hours, no statutory holiday leave or sick leave requirements, no free parties or socials functions where you stand with a glass of wine with all the time in the world yah-yahing with other adults, or having anyone impartial to referee the latest stand off (that you will have with your toddler over eating their breakfast / lunch / tea...).  

But, all the other rewards of this 'parenthood job', from the first time they look you right in the eyes after they are born, to when they reach their milestones with gusto, when you have those little moments in between tantrums of the toddler years where you lay on the floor playing 'rough and tumble' and you really hear their hearty little unadulterated laugh, when you first start having little conversations with them, for me, far outweigh those of any job I have ever had.   

And that is enough for me (well, 99% of the time, of course like every parent, some days after no sleep whilst feeling under par and being literally sick of the only words leaving your mouth being 'stop that, don't do that, stop being a naughty boy, leave the cat a.l.o.n.e! I maybe question if the better option would be to return to paid employment...but then they fall asleep and any parent knows you overwhelming emotion of watching your child sleep) and truly for the most part I am a very lucky person who can say 'I love my job' and be completely satisfied.

So I will be saying, my dear friend, if you can foresee yourself saying that too, then you are ready for children, love and cherish the experiences that will come your way because they are gone, all too soon.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Retro Toy Addiction? I Think So!

A while back, in my 20's, I collected up a few random Barbies.  I believe this little habit was born out of my parents buying me the 1997 Nagano Winter Olympic Ice Skating Barbie (I was, and still am in actual fact, a big Ice Skating fan - you can imagine my excitement at Dancing on Ice starting this week!) as a joke table gift one Christmas.
 Image:wantitall.co.zaBeing the biggest Barbie lover you could be as a child, it evoked many happy memories to have my new 'mint condition boxed Barbie' as a reminder of my happy childhood.  Then the few times I went to New York I tried to pick one up that kind of reflected what I liked, I picked up Florida Barbie, NBA (Orlando Magic) Barbie, Times Square Barbie etc.

After various moves they got packed up and put in my parents loft for safe keeping and I just didn't have the space for such frivolous items in the household, I had enough to find space for the childrens toys, let alone ones for me.

 Image: Getty Images

Every now and then my parents would remind me that I had boxes clogging up their loft space but instead of taking the hint and going to collect them to sell the toys or give them to charity, I would instead wistfully daydream about the house of the future in which I would have the space to have them on display.  Doesn't everyone secretly wish that they could have a 'toy room'?

 Image : Gemodisplays.com
Finally that day came has come, maybe not to the extent that the lucky person in the photo above has (I think my parents were also hopeful that I might return for the dolls house that is partially furnished and also residing in their loft and I am working on that, and think it's a sign that about 3 doors up is a dolls house shop, I haven't ventured in there yet for fear of needing a small mortgage to pay the bill I would run up...) but we have enough room to get a unit to display 'the Babs collection' in. 

And what a wonderful collection The Hubby and I have been gathering up.  It has been lovely to browse the (rather addictive) eBay, specialist websites and Antique / Collectors Fairs looking for my beloved Barbies.  I have noticed though that my penchant for 'antiques' definitely falls in toys.  It's amazing that however much I might think I have had enough of looking around at Antique places, either through tiredness or the fact that the kids are not behaving if we hit a toy stall I perk up like a cheerleader getting to the top of the triangle.  I am yet to find an elusive Barbie out and about yet, but the prospect of it is exciting.

What I find myself desperately looking for, or most excitable over when found is toys and books that I had when I was a child.  I was telling the Hubby that I had a set of 12 hardback Noddy stories when I was younger, that my mum gave to the Charity shop while I was at school one day on a 'clear out' of my toys.  No sooner had I told him, than I came across the very same books, not all of them and in nowhere near the good condition that mine were in (my excited jubilation depleted when I found out they were priced at no less than £23 per book, for the fact that I couldn't pay that to replace them and I would have been up nearly £300 had I still had my set!) 


I have spent weeks looking for a Crystal Barbie and a Day to Night Barbie because they were my two star dolls that I remember being on my absolutely best behaviour for weeks to be treated too.  They are very rare now though and I think that again I would have to be on best behaviour for weeks, if not months to be treated to / justify buying those again. 

 Image:1000barbies.com   Image : flickriver.com

Still this is a long distance race and not a sprint and I can foresee this little hobby staying now, so I am satisfied with our current fabulous purchases and look forward to many more hours of hunting in the hope for that high of finding what you want at a bargain price, and you never know, the kids might find their own little niche of toys that they want to collect to make it a real family hobby.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Grooving My Way Through January (linking with Groovy Mums @ Kate on Thin Ice)

When I wrote my monster list of Aims and Hopes for 2012, I wrote them with optimism, of course, but sense that they might all get done?  Not so much.

However, since linking up with the Grooving Mums initiative over at Kate on Thin Ice, I think I may have just found a way to help me break those targets down into bite sized pieces and ...dom-dom-dooooommmmmm...achieve them.  Which is pretty damn nifty.

I decided to break the goals down, aiming for a couple a month.  Of course some are on going, but some are one off things that I will spread over the year.  I have to say though I am grooving on pretty well with the ones that I set for this month, and, have even dared to look at future ones to see if there is any ground work I can lay down now to make them more achievable. 

By keeping this written log of my aims and progress it really is proving to be a great help, there is nothing like the feeling of getting things crossed off of your 'to do' list to boost you up, and the outstanding things you can sweep up into a nice, neat new pile to start working on.  A list system was ALWAYS going to work for me!

So my progress report thus far for my January aims is as follows :


* Publish at least three blog posts per week, and if I can get really super good write extra and 'programme' (go me) them to publish themselves throughout the week

So far 'check'.  Somehow I have managed to get a couple written and published this week, even though J2 has been 'super' attached to my leg.  I even managed to sort out a couple of 'Silent Sunday' posts and schedule them to post themselves - got to love technology!

* Fit two runs a week in and see if I think I will be get up to standard for the half marathon I optimistically booked myself on to back in October (which is March - sorry just picking myself up laughing off the floor) but at least I will have tried

Have got my first run scheduled in for tomorrow afternoon when The Hubby gets in and he can look after the children.  My second run I am hoping to squeeze in on Tuesday...

* Fit one afternoon spa session in - it's January, it's miserable and cold and a little indulgence might go a long way

Originally the plan was to go Wednesday just gone, but that didn't happen.  I can't see it happening this week as Business Accounts are due, but fingers crossed for the week after (is that still January?)


* Start reading with J1 again and try and find out the best way of helping him start to learn to read, rather than just remembering the whole story from memory, although that is pretty impressive too!

Yes, I am pleased to report that books are back in this house.  'Peppa goes Swimming' and 'Peace at Last' are still the firm favourites but I am trying to sneak a couple of new ones in too.

* Continue to encourage J2 to sit on the potty first thing in the morning and before and after bath time

Am also pleased to say that I am doing very well on keeping up with this one too.  J2 is more than willing to sit on the potty but we have only had one actual puddle to date, but as he isn't 2 yet am just trying to get him used to the idea of using it when we need a 'weeeeeeeeeeeeee-weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' as he puts it, and so far, he is happy and so am I.

* Cook at least '4' real meals a week

Taaaaaaaaaaa-Dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Have managed to do this and can say I have seen a marked improvement in J2's eating quantities, which makes it all worth while (J1 is a star when it comes to eating so J2 and his lack of eating has come as a bit of a shock).  Must say that having a dishwasher has been a big encouragement to do this too.  The next stage of this master plan, get the super-duper, all singing, all dancing (scares the crap out of me) food processor out and crack out Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals book.

I am also very proud to say that along with these chosen Aims from the 'Monster List' I have managed to also achieve the 'Bake once a month' goal too.  Chocolate Chip Muffins were baked and devoured, with possibly Lemon Drizzle Cake on the menu for next week.

For now though the only thing left on the menu for me is some sleep, but if you are not sleepy head over to Groovy Mums to read how other fabulous bloggers are doing with their own Aims and Hopes for 2012.

Monday, 9 January 2012


It is great being part of the blogging network social sites.  Yes they take extra time and effort to keep maintained and up to date, but you meet some great people and it is a great and easy way to keep up with lots of current blog posts.

I am part of the fabulous Britmums, but am also part of a couple of USA based ones and have met some great blogging mums on those too.  It is through these blogs that I get to see some of the most beautiful photographs of happy families in magnificent winter wonderland snow scenes.  These are what you have as a stereotypical scene of the winter months, however looking out of my lovely living room window, yes it is nippy but what I can see is more what I wold call autumn.  In January.   

Most of the trees in my garden are still smothered in brown dying foliage, the paths are still slippery and covered with mushy leaves and my parents are still complaining that despite having no trees in their front yard, they have a bag full of nature to sweep up every day.  This got me thinking even more about time, something I have been doing a lot of lately.  It seems strange to not have bare tree twigs outside my door which is common to these deep winter months and with myself not being a lover of the snow (yes it looks very pretty at first fall but is deeply impractical for getting on with your day to day life) I am kind of thankful that it is missing. 

I do think in a weird way though we are 'missing our seasons' - for whatever reason, luck, environmental, the ozone, October in Blighty was practically balmy and I don't think I got my winter coat out until December and have barely needed a scarf, but when you are used to the four clear seasons, as we are, it all feels out of sorts. 

It made me think about my life to date, and depending on what stage I was at has depended on how I have looked at 'time'.  I remember as a child the six weeks holidays stretching forever, a two week holiday in the summer really did feel like a long break away.  As I reached my teens years terms seemed to last forever and the vacation periods flew by.  When I started work life was Monday to Friday, 9 - 5, with the weekend barely lasting two minutes (with not enough time to shake off the hangovers). 

When I had my first baby time rolled into one and I struggled to know if it was day or night let alone what day it was.  Then my baby started school and I was back to working in terms again, frantically trying to ensure all the right things were in place for each one and arranging appropriate childcare for the holidays which seemed to come around and equally go super fast. 

And now, with a Husband and multiple children life flies by at a rate of knots, the three school terms all start and end in the blink of an eye, summer holidays are enjoyed and passed too soon, holidays are booked, taken and talked about before the washing and ironing is even done.  All of a sudden I find myself in my 30's and having thoughts such as; how can I ensure that I don't miss a second of what is going on with the children because they won't be children for long but also ensure that I do the things that I have always wanted to do and achieve as an individual aswell.  Will I get it all fitted in?

Now, the world and economy that we live in really doesn't make it possible to say 'Sod work, lets all live together in a happy family world and disappear off to see the world' we have to be realistic, and to make the most of it we need to find a balance, of family life, children time, husband and wife time and 'me' time.  And most of the time, there isn't enough time to do that easily (time, time, time!). 

It is a struggle, one that finds its way into most families I know.  It has raised its head recently to us, as is clear in my last few blog posts.  And so we blindly canter along in the pace of UK life (pretty fast), trying to make the most of what we are doing with our lives and trying to make time to do the right things to make memories.

I remember reading a piece of writing about time some years ago and not taking much notice of it but I have been thinking about it of late.  It was a piece on what time means to different people, for example a tenth of a second that is gone in the blink of an eye for most is the difference between gold and silver for an elite athlete. That one night for a couple in love is gone to soon but for a women in labour in a hospital ward is not gone soon enough.  A month for someone that has a long term prison sentence is nothing, but for the parent of an ill child or a premature baby seems like a lifetime.   

With my husbands health scares (multiple) at the end of last year we realised more prominently (I think everyone is aware, just every now and again something happens to bring it to the fore-front of your mind) that life is short, children are only children for a short time and babies even shorter, and although things such as sleep deprivation, money worries, work stress can cause snappy, snippy moments, keep them to just that, moments and enjoy the rest of your time with the family you are blessed to have.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Plan - January

In my last post I posed the question of whether expecting to have any 'non mummy / wife' time when you have a young (i.e babies not in school) family was in fact asking 'Too Much?', and was our cribbing about not having time to write / run / play golf etc was out of line. 

I had an unequivocal response that in fact 'No, it most certainly is not too much to ask'.  The general consensus was that if you didn't, you would drive yourself insane and to remember that we were individual people in our own right before we either had children or got married and we were entitled to keep a smidgen of that without feeling the 'parent / partner' guilt and that it was just a case of compromising and arranging suitable dates and times to do these 'extra curricular activities'.

Therefore I am moving forward with the idea of my '2012 Year Plan' and in fact am going to post a monthly plan that I am intending to work with in order to see as many of our 'Aims and Hope for 2012' as possible fulfilled.

Thus was born 'The Plan' posts and we shall start with January.  This is sort of, I feel, in line with the Grooving Mum's initiative and so I hope to be able to share these links with Kate On Thin Ice and I hope it gives others inspiration and motivation too.  I 'aim' to link the results of the previous months plan as the precursor to the next so that I can see at the end of the year how we / I have done.  My, this is the most thorough I have ever managed to get with 'New Year Resolutions' if that is what you want to call them!

So here we go, for January I am going to am to :


* Publish at least three blog posts per week, and if I can get really super good write extra and 'programme' (go me) them to publish themselves throughout the week

* Fit two runs a week in and see if I think I will be get up to standard for the half marathon I optimistically booked myself on to back in October (which is March - sorry just picking myself up laughing off the floor) but at least I will have tried

* Fit one afternoon spa session in - it's January, it's miserable and cold and a little indulgence might go a long way


* Start reading with J1 again and try and find out the best way of helping him start to learn to read, rather than just remembering the whole story from memory, although that is pretty impressive too!

* Continue to encourage J2 to sit on the potty first thing in the morning and before and after bath time

* Cook at least '4' real meals a week

I think three aims on both the 'Personal' and 'Family' front is acceptable to try out for the first month.  Look out for 'The Plan - February' (...coming soon... cue over excitable music) to see how we / I get on.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A Simple Question - Do I Want Too Much?

A few days ago I put together my 'Aims and Hopes for 2012' - and that is all they are; things that I would like to aim to do throughout the 366 days that make up this year.

It was quite a comprehensive list granted, I had given it a lot of thought but now I am thinking was it was more of a 'wish list' than an attempt at putting together what I believed could actually be achieved in one year?  Should I have made that the first draft and then looked at it with my realistic head on and narrowed it down to say 4 or 5 items?

Do I want too much?

Should I (by happy choice) in my role of wife and mother have only put the 'family' ones on the list and put my personal options to one side until the days when I do not have small children that are dependent on me 24/7?  By putting them on a list for this year, am I being selfish to think I should have the time to try and achieve them?  I question this as my list did seem to be quite lengthy compared to some others I got to share, but, moreover I have been mulling over a conversation The Hubby and I had in the car on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Hubby and I, since the move to our 'period' house have become quite interested in attending antique fairs and shops, I in particular have always had a massive interest in vintage toys and dolls and so have been happy that this new 'hobby' we have acquired can be something we do as a family (even J2 will sit in his buggy with a drink and snack for half hour while we browse).  However on the car journey to the latest jaunt on a chilly January bank holiday The Hubby dared to mention the word 'Golf'.

The Hubby is (read 'was') a very keen Golfer, and to be fair a damn good one, and if I am honest that was a really attractive quality, that he had a hobby that he was really good at and committed too.  However the downside of Golf is the time element.  All fine and dandy if you are young, free and single, or even married but childless or if not childless the children are of an age where they are not hanging on mumma's shirt tails every minute of every day (i.e in school).  Plus it is quite an expensive hobby, Golf Club memberships are in my opinion extortionate (to the normal working mans salary) especially if you do not have the time to really make use of it.

I explained this thought process of mine to the Hubby, not in the logical and proper manner as just eloquently done in this blog, no instead I bitch snapped something about it not being fine that he would want to spend the small amount of spare time he has swanking around on the Golf Course instead of with his family, or shocker giving me a break from the childcare element of our relationship.  He, in his usual patient self, said he understood that but what he was suggesting was a Country Membership (or something like that, golf blurb is lost on me) whereby it allowed him to have a Handicap at a club and play in some one off tournaments, that were usually in the week so he could just be there instead of work and technically it would make no difference to the childcare situation.

This infuriated me more, he had found a way to have his hobby, he could trade one of his 'working days' in for Golf, when would I ever get to do that for anything leisure related in terms of my full time job of looking after the children and home?  J2 goes to nursery for one 'school hours' day per week (just to clarify after dropping him off I get in at about 09.30, I then have to leave to pick him up at 14.30 so get 5 hours) so that I, in that time, can; clean, iron, get the food shopping, tidy and sort and do the business accounts (for more on this sort of idea see my blog post 'What's not on the list of things to do').  Given that I can usually get 2 or 3 of those things done in that time you get the gist that 'extra curricular' activities do not get a look in.

At this point you would think that I am writing this blog to bitch about my life choices of being a SAHM and the fact that The Hubby wants to do enjoyable hobbies / activities.  No that is not the case.  Because what The Hubby was requesting was absolutely and perfectly reasonable.  If I worked full time and was the bread-winner I too would expect and feel that I was entitled to spend some time and money on a hobby, something to enjoy and look forward too.  However, we have children who need us all the time and the little time that isn't spent at work, surely, they need.  Likewise, when I am spending that 95% of my time caring for the children I feel I am also entitled to a break and some time to do something for me, that isn't child or family related. But those things come after 'family time together' which doesn't leave enough time for us both to be entitled to 'do our own thing' does it.

The Hubby and I have had a conversation and also, now looking over my 'aims and hopes list' I have been left thinking 'I am so selfish, I want to try and write, take photographs, run, why should I want those things when I am a mother to a young and beautiful family?'  Shouldn't that be enough; Do I want too much

So where do we draw the line?  What is in fact fair, to us, the adults and decision makers as individuals and 'the family'.  Right now with young children that we made the full and conscious decision to have together, should we be grumping about not getting to the time to do activities that, in effect when we decided to have a young family, we said goodbye to having the time and money to do?  Babies and children are those things for such a short time that should we put everything on hold until the time comes when our children decide they do not need us quite so intensely.  Or by not giving ourselves some time to remember that we are in fact individuals as well as 'Husband and Wife' and 'Mum and Dad' are we being detrimental to our family?  Does not taking some time out, to do something small for ourselves instead of for each other or the children, make for a big problem in the future?  Having something to look forward to, whether it be a family related activity or individual surely makes us happier on a day to day basis, isn't that why we plan trips out and holidays?

Most of the time I feel empowered by the fact that even though as a wife and mother I can still see 'me' as the person I was when my children came into the world and my husband met me for the first time.  That I can still remember what I wanted to get out of my life time 'before family', but should that change completely now I have a Husband and Children?  The same can be said for my Husband. 

I guess because I consider the things I would like to achieve as small (I do not want to disappear off around the world or spend a year working on a cruise ship or be away from them for any length of time) a blog post here, a race day there and for the Hubby a mid week tournament a couple of times a year that it is too much to ask?  Not really.

So why does it seem it?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The 2012 Plan (Grooving Mum Project with Kate on Thin Ice)

Having reviewed the good, the bad and the ugly (although in fairness there wasn't too much bad or ugly in 2011, it was a pretty damn good year overall!) it is time to think about what I would like myself and my family to achieve in 2012. 

I am going to do this as my first post linking to the Grooving Mum's movement over at Kate on Thin Ice as this is one of my 'blogger' aims for this year.

2012 Aims


- Continue to encourage J1 to try new activities and adventures to help with his fine and gross motor skills and his speech

- Be more vigilent with J1's home physiothearapy, even though he complains

- Help J1 school fundraising group

- Try and find new and suitable activities for the whole family to participate in at weekends

- Potty train J2

- Start weekly swim sessions with J2 again

- Cook 'real' meals at least 4 times a week and re-start my favourite receipes folder

- Bake something new with the boys at least once a month

- Start some basic learning plans for J2 for towards the end of the year

- Do house filing once a month and keep on top of it all

- Start saving for a big family holiday

- Child - proof new garden for the kids to use in spring


- Try and find a bit more personal time to do the following :

- Make at least 3 blog posts per week

- Write first draft of my series of childrens books

- Read at least 1 book a month

- Start taking more photographs and learn how to edit them

- Try and run twice a week, establish some safe routes

- Continue to learn about gardening and possibly go to The Chelsea Flower Show

- Continue to try and make an effort with my appearance as it is making me feel better

- Enjoy any available one to one time with Hubby and take opportunities to go out

- Treat self to a spa afternoon once every 3 months

- Plan one weekend away a year, just Hubby and Me

- Try and stop being so Gung-Ho with 'No' to new ideas and suggestions (although I do normally come round to them eventually)

- Try and be more positive on believing in what I can achieve

- Start action planning again, always achieve more that way - this is a good start!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Highs and Lows from 2011 (Linking with Kate on Thin Ice)

The inspirational Kate over at Kate on Thin Ice posed an excellent blog post (see blog post title) that I thought would be a good start to the new year to join in with.  In my last blog post Musings on New Year I noted that I would review my year and think about what I would like achieve in 2012.  I haven't got round to doing that to date having hosted part of Christmas and NYE, a very good excuse but excuse never-the-less.

Then chatting to my fabulous friend today he asked the question that billions have been trying to fashion an answer to today; What do I want from 2012?  What can 2012 bring me?  Well 2012 on it's own obviously can't bring me bugger all.  Of course the burning question is what do I, and my family want to achieve in 2012?  I like this question, it indicates an essential need to plan and I love planning.

But in order to that, first must come the review of 2011 which is a great way of summing up the year for the boys in the future, which is kind of the whole point of this blogging lark anyway.  So here, guided by the questions of Kate on Thin Ice, we go :

1. What was your happiest event?

The happiest and biggest event of 2011 was getting married.  It was as fabulous as I could have only dreamt it could be and every second of the day is a happy memory and being married is really rather cool!

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?

The loss of a friend against her long, hard and painful struggle against cancer leaving a devastated husband and 6 year old daughter.

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?

My husband getting rushed into hospital and all sorts of complications arising from it which kept, and still is keeping him under par. 

4. Who let you down?

To be honest I can't think of a person or situation that let me down as such this year apart from the Doctors regarding my husband. 

5. Who supported you?

Our family situation sees my eldest son (J1) suffer with Cerebral Palsy, and sometimes life for him (and us) can be very difficult and frustrating.  We get through that with the wonderful and amazing support of our family and close friends.

6. Tell us one thing you learnt?

That you can achieve more than you think you can and sometimes you just need to compromise.

7. Tell us one thing that made you laugh?

Lots of things have made me laugh this year (again very thankful for that) but the one that still continues to make me laugh is that 2011 saw J1, my eldest little duckling, develop some 'tude (attitude!)

8. Tell us one thing that made you cry?

Sometimes the whole situation of watching J1 struggle (and sometimes fail) to be able to do tasks that are so simple for everyone else just becomes too much to handle and the tears will flow.  Then I have to pick myself and think 'We'll get him there'.  My son's school show this Christmas also made me shed a tear too, seeing what those children achieved was just amazing.

9. Tell us three things your child / children did to make you feel proud?

* J1 started to sing songs
* J2 started to walk
* J1 and J2 started to really bond as brothers (cuddles and tolerance of each other)

10. Tell us one thing that made you proud of yourself?

I started my blog and thus started writing again, something I had missed and now cherish.

11. Tell us one challenge you overcome?

My own fears of publishing my writing in a blog.  For at least 18 months the fear of what other people would think stopped me.

12. Tell us three things you would like to change about your life in 2012?

I wouldn't necessarily say that I want to 'change' anything about my life in 2012 because I have a pretty amazing life with a fantastic and supportive husband and two feisty and gorgeous children - who could ask for more than that eh?!  However I would like to achieve :

* More quality family time and finding more suitable (for a child with disabilities and a toddler - not all that easy...) spare time activities
* Continue to blog, learn and build friendships via it and also take the plunge and put 'pen to paper' and write the series of children's books I have been thinking about for 3 years
* To not feel so guilty about taking some me time or adult time with the hubby and enjoy being child free on the occasions it gets offered

The next part of the blog post by Kate says to tag some other fabulous bloggers; therefore these are my most favourite blogging beauties of 2011 have been...

Claire at  http://mummyplum.blogspot.com/

Kelly at  http://ourfootprintsontheworld.blogspot.com/

Jordan Marie at  http://holdingontothelittlethings.typepad.com/blog/

Ellen at http://www.lovethatmax.com/


And of course Kate at http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/