Looking 30 in the eye and sh**ting myself……

Not literally shitting myself yet, I’m sort of in the lower-middle of the age spectrum when it comes to that. Hopefully.

I am however, far nearer to thirty than I’d ever imagined I would be, surely I would never reach the dizzy heights of an actual adult’s age? Apparently time waits for no (wo)man though, so it appears to be true, I’m getting old.

In a mild(ly hysterical) panic I started a little checklist in my head of things I’ve done with my life, and it went something like this……

Travelled (if you can call a season in Ibiza surviving on spaghetti hoops and questionable shots travelling) √

Had wonderful children and didn’t leave any of them in the supermarket (for long) √

Got married to a rather wonderful chap who appreciates my love of handbags and makes a decent brew √

Aaaaannd that’s about what I’ve got. Literally all that sprang to mind of my life’s fulfilled ambitions. Admittedly the last two are bloody good things to have achieved, particularly the supermarket thing, but still, nearly 3 decades on this god forsaken planet and this is what I’ve done with the time allotted to me.

I have never met (or had sexual relations with) Liam Neeson, I never went to Thailand and ate insects, I never learned how to hotwire a car (don’t judge, it’d be a handy talent), I can’t play any instruments and I never wrote a world changing novel to rival To Kill A Mockingbird.

I’m not saying I’m a failure, much, but I don’t think I’ve set the world on it’s heels or made my mark, not even a scratch. With that in mind (and with a little help of a kick up the arse from my wonderful girlfriends) I decided to do something about this. Tonight I had a wardrobe clear out, so cathartic. I made a wholesome, filling meal and didn’t bitch about elbows on the table, knives held like pens and other insignificant things that would normally boil my blood, and I wrote a CV.

I am not actually in the market for a new job, as such. Hours at work have been reduced and I put a little bit of my sad state down to this. I love spending time with the kids, and getting on with stuff in the house, but I also love having money. So I’m looking at ways to do something I love (writing), and being paid for it, alongside my current work commitments. For that however, I needed to dust off and brush up the written account of my working life.

The easy part was my (distinct lack of any useful) qualifications and job history. Writing about my weaknesses was a damn sight easier than my strengths but I had to be brutally honest with myself and I actually came away feeling a lot better than going into it. Acknowledging my flaws and comparing them against my strengths made me realise that I’m not as altogether shit as I had previously thought.

Writing about previous jobs and the roles I had made me realise that there’s such a variety of things I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in, that perhaps I’ve not sucked at life quite so much at all. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the grey, that seeing things in black and white brings a whole new perspective.

So I’m not that shit, I’m not that much of a failure, spaghetti hoops on toast is the foodstuff of champions, and I’m not “nearly thirty”……I’m 29.

Plenty of time to set the world alight.

 

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That’s it guys, it’s Christmas………….

Now that Halloween is done (and you’re desperately trying to avoid eye contact with the kids sweet collection), can we all just accept that it’s now Christmas?

Not that it hasn’t been Christmas on the telly and in the shops since approximately August 3rd, but now that it’s “nearly December” and we’ve had the first frost, I can start getting excited yeah?

I absolutely adore Christmas now I’ve got children, two of them have birthdays in Christmas week, so it’s a pretty long celebration in our house. It also means that I do have to be much more organised than I usually am so that it goes without tooooo much of a hitch.

The lists have already been compiled, I lost last years super organised, colour coded and formula linked spreadsheet to office hackers, so I’ll have to start again ( If only I put as much effort into my writing or my actual job!). The husband’s presents are done, aside from his lump of coal for the stocking, and I’ve been trying to talk him into letting the dogs have Christmas jumpers. (It’s a big fat NO HO HO at the minute)

dog christmas jumper

Photo source: Pets at Home.

 

I’ve made the chutney and ordered the brown wrapping paper, in my head I’ve completely redesigned the tree and Aldi are already stocking Gluwhein. It’s happening folks!!!!

I suspect that a lot of you may be thinking “oh piss off, it’s still 2 months away!” – Just remember how quickly that last series of Game of Thrones went. And now panic.

I used to hate Christmas, and I do still hate the Americanised nonsense we get (Black Friday anyone?), but there’s just something so brilliant about Nativity shows, kids’ excitement, endless Christmas movies and 2 weeks off work (if you’re lucky) that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. That might be the mulled wine though.

This year will also be the first in a while where I’m not hosting, so whilst I love doing the dinner, I’m usually too exhausted to eat it by the time it’s finished. I’m looking forward to wearing my fat pants (with reindeer on, natch), eating my body weight in Pigs in Blankets, playing Cards against Humanity and watching the Sound of Music for the 876th time.

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So that’s me fully invested in the Christmas spirit, and for those of you who aren’t quite there yet, let’s see how you feel next Monday once the Pope burning is out of the way.

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Barking mad?

We are now the proud doggy parents of two French Bulldog puppies. They are the most beautiful little guys, and we’ve named them Arlo and Beau, although Jude was hoping for Ryan and Axel (kids on YouTube, absolutely not a chance!).


We kept it reasonably quiet as the elder two girls were still in school until yesterday and we wanted to surprise them. The people we did tell were wonderfully supportive and excited for us, and they knew this was something we had wanted for a while. 

Upon surprising the (human) girls after school, we decided to unleash the (canine) boys upon social media, and that’s where the fun really started.

“Oh god you must be mad! Do you know how much work that will be?”

Well I’ve got four kids, so I’ve a pretty good idea. 

“How on earth will you cope?!”

Please see above ref: loads of bloody kids that I’m not doing an altogether shitty job of raising, so I think I’ll be sound thanks.

“Make sure you hide all of Jude’s Lego!”

Oh you know what? I’m so glad you said that, I had thought that Arlo might want to help me build the Millenium Falcon, but you’re probably right, he’s just not got the dexterity in his paws. 

“Oh Frenchies have *this* problem and their personalities are like *this*”

Yeah, because I didn’t research the animals that we are forking our huge sums of money for. Just totally winging it. Didn’t get health checks and papers and look at the parents and the home they came from before making a decision. What kind of idiot do you take me for?

There was a few more along this vein and it was actually a bit depressing. Are people genuinely so eager to put others down or show off their knowledge that they can’t just say “congratulations”? 

If I’d unexpectedly brought a baby home, would the comments have been the same? “Oh you’ll never cope with that, are you mad?!” So why is it acceptable for those comments in this situation?

I think of friends who maybe can’t have babies for whatever reason, maybe it’s just not worked out that way, or personal choice. I would never question them on their ability to look after their pets. Just as I’d hope no one would doubt my ability to parent, and come out with it on social media.

I’m not an idiot, I’m fully aware that they’ll add to my workload, but I’m equally as aware that I’m not the only person in this house capable of getting stuck in.

I think it’s important for children to grow up with pets, and to see the looks on my kids faces when they met the boys yesterday was worth all the social media digs in the world.

Beau

 

Arlo

*Some folks were genuinely helpful with their comments, and at least saved them until after the “Congratulations”. I like those guys, the rest I got rid of, because those Debbie Downers have no place on my page. 

The crippling cost of half term?

Half term, like Christmas, always seems to come around too quickly. Pretty sure they only went back last Wednesday! You can guarantee that before 10am on the first day (if they’ve managed to drag themselves out of bed that is!) you’ll hear those dreaded words…”I’m bored!”

With two teens and two younger ones at home, it can be difficult to keep everyone entertained without either losing all of my money or my sanity. With this in mind I have been researching ways to get everybody out of the house on the cheap (Scottish blood, tight as hell) or things to do on a rainy day that doesn’t include filling the bath with green slime.

Here are a few ideas if you’re in the same boat, or if you’re just a really, really bored adult.

Baking. Get the worst out of the way first. It’s messy and personally I have never understood how Katie from “I Can Cook” doesn’t lose her shit with those kids cracking eggs ENTIRELY the wrong way. Everyone seems to enjoy it though and an added bonus is you get to eat it all later, and pretend it’s not entirely inedible.

The BBC website (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/kids-cooking) alone has over 40 kid friendly recipes to keep the lot of them entertained. If you really hate yourself and want your kitchen to be destroyed, let them do one recipe each AT THE SAME TIME.

Bowl them over. Many bowling alleys do discounted family tickets during half term, and it’s a fantastic way to get everyone a little exercise and a LOT competitive. Help them work on their team skills by splitting up, if there’s enough of you. Coming up with the team names is always, erm, entertaining!

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Go to the library. Public libraries often offer workshops for children, free reading programmes and other amusements. They really are a godsend and an often under used resource. Kids also seem to love getting their own library account, something about choosing their own book to read makes them act more responsibly toward them (Looking at the child who dropped my Tolkien in the bath).                                                                                                                                                 Another idea would be to get each child to take out a Craft or How To book, and you can all make something or learn a new skill. Wonderful stuff.

Pumpkin picking. Perfect for the October half term, although in summer fruit picking is a family favourite, this past time is fun for younger and older children alike.                                                                                                                                                                               Wrap everyone up warm, dig the wellington boots out and enjoy a fun morning in the fresh air picking the perfect pumpkin for you Jack O’ Lantern. Don’t forget that the flesh of the pumpkin can be used for many delicious recipes, although probably not on the day you’ve picked it, you’ll have earned yourselves a pub lunch! Find a local patch at http://www.pickyourownfarms.org.uk/                                                                                                      

Local Museums. Whether your kids are into science, art, sports or history, there’s so many museums with interactive exhibits and activities aimed at younger visitors, you’ll be spoiled for choice. A quick Google will probably bring up a surprising amount of museums within a reasonable distance. Whilst these aren’t always free, they are usually run by Trusts and relatively cheap, just stay away from the gift shops, those places will have your eyes out!

Get a National Trust membership. The moment I realised I was an adult was when I started researching the benefits of a National Trust Membership, and I was pleasantly surprised at them. You get free entry to over 500 attractions, and free parking at most of these. When you factor in non-members would usually pay over £30 for a family of 6, a yearly family membership at just less than £10 per month seems an absolute bargain.

You also get a handy National Trust handbook when you sign up which can help you plan for future visits, and most importantly, if you sign up for Direct Debit you get a pair of FREE BINOCULARS (I love free stuff)!!

Belton

Get the bikes out. Ok so if your kids don’t already have bikes, this won’t exactly be free but it COULD still be quite cheap. Get on your local social media selling pages, or auction sites for local pick ups (remember to have the bike looked over for safety concerns before purchasing or using).

Cycling is a great way for the family to get some fresh air, exercise and quality time together. Getting out into the local area will also give you a different perspective than you may get in a car, and you may find a new park, picnic area or activity centre that you didn’t know about previously.

 

Bath time. Ok so I said don’t fill it with slime, and with good reason, but it doesn’t mean bath time can’t be fun.Bubbles are always a winner, and if you’re feeling flush, get to Lush for their AMAZING range of coloured bath bombs. A cheap winner for us this week will be getting to the pound shop and buying a bunch of glowsticks to put under the bubbles. We’ll dim the lights, put some terrible music on and let them have a little disco (Just be careful they don’t leak as the liquid can be pretty nasty!).

My littlest ones love a bath, mainly because it’s frickin’ hilarious (for them) to hear my screech as the water starts pouring through the ceiling, so it’s always nice to make it more enjoyable for them.

Treat yo self. The best thing you could probably do this half term is print this list, and hand it to the grandparents as you deliver the kids to them. Then hot tail it to a spa for a couple of days break, using all of the lovely money that you’ve saved.

Getting back into the world…..

Ah the summer holidays, the extra time with your precious little moppets, the sunshine, days out and hopefully a long week somewhere with a cocktail in hand, making delightful memories…….

Or, in reality, it rains constantly, the kids hate each other, they eat all of the food on the day it is bought, and you don’t go anywhere because frankly, it’s too much sodding hassle!

You dream of the return to school (whilst silently acknowledging how awful that sounds), but if this September is your child’s first time at school, you’re also dreading it.

How did that little cherub grow up so quickly? It’s only been five minutes, where’s it all gone? Why must they leave, WHHHHHHYYYYY?

It may also mean a return to work for many parents who have taken a career break to raise the little mites, and that is terrifying for most. You may feel completely out of your depth and far behind all those other candidates, you wonder if you could sell Aloe gels, make up or some other pyramid shite instead? The cost of out of school childcare makes the blood drain from your face as quickly as the money will drain from your account. But mainly, you may feel insignificant and unqualified for anything.

Well, listen up, as I’m about to be positive and shit. (It’s fleeting, don’t worry)

If you have ever convinced a toddler to wear both socks on their feet for an entire hour, without bribery, but just because they know you want them to, you have management skills and show strong leadership qualities

If you have successfully argued for the benefits of eating the various vegetables in an evening meal, you could be a burgeoning super salesperson.

If you have managed to get four children washed, dressed, fed and out of the house by 9 am without anyone yelling or crying, you have excellent time management skills.

What I’m trying to say is that whilst you may have been out of a workplace environment for a few years, you’ve retained and probably gained some seriously useful traits. Transferring these to an office environment (where, lets face it, some people do display child like behaviour from time to time) should be piece of cake.

Plus you wont have to convince Carole from Accounting to eat her carrots.

 

 

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When the whole world is on your case……..

I can share in your disgrace, my youngest boy child love.

Surely it’s not just me with a problem boy? Or at least a problem boy at nursery? I’m constantly getting reports of meltdowns, aggression, anger etc etc during his two days a week there. (There was an issue with a ham and pickle sandwich this week which he blew out of all proportion. Later it was explained that he had wanted piccalilli, a completely understandable reason for chucking your dinner everywhere, obviously) 

It’s all my fault, obviously (in my head at least). He’s been spoiled horribly, and we are working to sort that out. Life kind of got ahead of us during his crucial learning times and he was placated rather than adding another stress to the day.

This is now a problem returned to us sevenfold. We’ve watched Supernanny clips, instigated reward charts plus appropriate discipline. The telly has been revoked at certain times of the day, and it seems to be working at home. Any others suggestions from parents who’ve successfully steered a path to the other side are more than welcome (begging politely). 

At home and at his grandmothers he is mostly well behaved, and at nursery he is…….not quite so well behaved. Which, as he starts school in September, is a worry. So it’s all hands on deck to sort out this little shit head. I’m sure we aren’t alone in this last minute “Feck, school!!” panic, or at least I hope not! 

He knows he needs to work on it and did in fact improve for his second visit this week, we know it’s not a quickly fixed issue, and we are prepared to put in the work. 

With that in mind on mine and the little dictators day off today, I took him for a mop chop. You know when you’ve come out of a really shitty time, or relationship, and you cut off all your hair and suddenly feel ten times more wonderful? This is Jude’s moment, out with the old, tantruming Paul Weller lookalike and in with a grown up, fell-out-of-daddies-arse lookalike.

He may not be sorted with just a makeover, but it’s a damn good start

Getting to know my daughter…..

 

 

How many of you set yourself New Years goals? How many of you are actually still on target with those goals?

If, like me, you usually set yourself an unattainable resolution (no chocolate, lose 2 stone in 5 minutes, buy fewer shoes, etc) it becomes difficult to maintain and you find yourself sacking it off by January 6th.

I basically took January and February as “warm up” months, in which I did absolutely no warming up. I ate more, moved less and drank a bathtubs worth of red wine. I felt unhealthy, lethargic and pretty bloody miserable.

Then I had a bit of a kick up the arse, my work hours were reduced (not that ideal for the shoe fund) and I grasped this extra time as an opportunity to make a change.

With the time I now have free, I actually get to walk the school run most days. It’s a 2 mile round walk, which is a pretty decent 20 miles a week and so my 2 stone may come off within time. Spring is just around the corner, and we are very lucky to live in such a beautiful area so it’s not an unpleasant walk by any means.

The best part of this though, is that for the 20 minutes or so each way I get to have some really great conversations with my youngest daughter. As a middle child, she does often get overlooked as she pootles along doing her thing, not causing any trouble and generally being super pleasant. Whilst we deal with the teens and the toddler, it’s so easy to forget quality time with her.

This week I’ve learnt some new non-blue jokes, discussed Roald Dahl, spotted birds and been educated about the hierarchy of a primary school playground. I’ve seen such an insight into how my little girl thinks and feels, that without this time alone, I may have missed out on entirely.

I appreciate that it’s not possible for all mums to make the school run at all, or it is a rushed thing as you frantically whizz off to your daily activities, but if you can find the time to do even one unhurried trip a week, and really have a conversation with your offspring, you’ll come away having learnt at least one great thing, even if it is that Timmy* in class 2 always farts in Assembly.

The chocolate may still be present, I will still always love a Pinot Noir, but my health and my relationship with my daughter has taken March off to a flying start, so that’s something I’m more than pleased with.

 

*He’s definitely not called Timmy

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