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Monday, 30 January 2012

Reprieve


Last week I stood at the foot of Mount Motherhood and felt completely overwhelmed. Actually, it wasn’t just Mount Motherhood making me feel that way, it was Mount Everything.   I am an optimist at heart, but last week, I was struggling to see how I was going to scale the peaks that lay in front of me.  I felt like the only thing I could sacrifice was the stuff in my own backpack. ( I’m not talking about the cake either.)

A week later and things have turned around slightly. The wrecking ball that was due to hit the back of our house in the spring has now been rescheduled to summer.  Relieved? Indeed I am.  So today, I’ve had time to sit down, have a nice cup of English breakfast tea (still tastes good in the afternoon) a rather large slab of maderia cake and take a little time out with my blog.  Some lovely people commented last week that we all need something for ourselves; a little bit of ‘me’ time, even if it is only snatched in a few moments here and there.  Too true.  Tea, cake, the blog; they’re simple pleasures, but to me, they mean a lot.  In fact, last week, when I reflected on not having the time to spend on my blog, I realised how much it really does mean to me. In some ways, it’s been a sanity saver, a personal space where I can go and think about things, a place where I entertain wonderful visitors, and pop over to their virtual homes for a cuppa too.  Since I started my blog six months ago, I really do feel like I have rediscovered a little bit of the old me. I’ve also remembered how to touch type, and seem at last to be remembering some of the basic principles of English grammar ( which let’s face it, will be useful once the little man starts school.) But apart from all these highly important things,  my blog has helped me to start getting my old groove back.  So forsaking it, at a time when I’m busy and overstretched maybe isn’t the answer. It is my steady pendulum in an otherwise chaotic, busy world.

There’s also a fabulous group of blogging women that I love to join up with as often as I can; ‘The Groovy Mums" at Kate on Thin Ice.  So, very late to the party this last week, I’m ducking in at the last moment to share my answers to last week’s challenges. I honestly don’t know how Kate manages to think up all the challenges week after week, but I do enjoy thinking about them, and seeing how others respond too.   Anyway, here are my answers to Kate’s challenges for last week.

1. Body -  This week there is a campaign about eating a healthy breakfast for 5 days.  Give it a go and tell us how it goes.

The first thing I do in the morning is boil the kettle. I am zombie like until I’ve had a cup of hot tea.  For breakfast I usually have toast with marmalade or occasionally, instant porridge made with water. One thing I’d quite like to change is the amount of bread I eat. Often I have toast for breakfast and then a sandwich for lunch, some days I feel that all I eat is bread. Porridge or fruit for breakfast more often would be a good way of cutting out some evil carbs.

2. Mind – It is Chinese New Year and I have just opened my fortune cookie. What I want you to think/blog about is: if you had a guarantee that the fortune in your cookie would come true in the next 12 months what would you want it to say?

“ You’re going to have another baby”

I know that’s a lot to ask from a little fortune cookie, but there you go.  

3. Spirit – Sticking with the Chinese New Year, which animal are you? If you don’t know look it up for fun. Does the description of the animal you are ring true? Which animal would you like to be and why?

I’m the year of the Rabbit: "Rabbits in the Chinese zodiac are considered friendly, artistic, compassionate and thorough. Watch out for laziness, self-indulgence and moodiness in Rabbits as well."

I think the positive attributes of rabbit describe me quite well. Although I would say I’m friendly in a reserved kind of way, if that makes any sense. (Rather than a gung ho, back slapping way.)  I don’t think I could ever describe myself as lazy or moody, but self – indulgent…I am wondering whether my pursuit of 'the simple pleasures' may sometimes just be an excuse for this!

4. Blogging – Have you heard the wonderful and rather exciting news?  What do you mean "Yes, I have as Kate just won’t going on about it!” I am now a member Britmums team with a great initiative that will make a real difference too.
Read all about it at: http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/have-you-heard-the-news-i-have-a-new-and-exciting-role/
Your blogging challenge this week is to join Britmums if you have not done so and tne join the Charity Connections – blogging it forward group on there.

I am a member of Britmums. I think the 'blogging it forward' initiative is great and I am going to think more about how I can participate in this.

5. Special Days – My challenge to you is to make one day in this week really special.  How you do that is up to you. Will it be a day out? Some one on one time with your partner? You decide.

I had a lovely evening out last week with my husband. We went to dinner at a superb local restaurant.   I had pheasant and red wine ravioli to start, followed by daub of beef bourguignon and then sticky toffee apple pudding for dessert …delicious!  We rarely book a babysitter and have a proper night out so it was a real treat.  We had lots of stuff to talk about and it was one of those evenings where neither of us were tired or stressed and the wine and conversation flowed freely. I really enjoyed myself.

6. The big question: Have you lost that loving feeling? This could mean for yourself, partner, child, job, whatever. Reflect on what it means to you.

I’m thankful that I feel lots of love for my partner and my son. (Although I’m only human and that doesn’t mean sometimes they both make me want to tear my hair out.)  Sometimes I do think I have lost some of the va va voom along the way for things I used to value. Home cooking is one. I used to spend hours reading my recipe books and planning meals, now they just sit on the kitchen shelf, untouched.   I do still make home cooked meals, but I have lost my desire to learn to make new ones, so I do tend to turn out the same old stuff.   Maybe it’s just the busyness of life – I am not superwoman and maybe I’ve just accepted that.  I’m sure at some point, I may feel the love for trying out some new recipes again, maybe when I don’t have a small helper in the kitchen….

So, that's my answers to this weeks challenges. If you'd like to take part yourself or join in then make your way here.
 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

So Much To Do, So Little Time


I am seriously wondering if other people are operating in a different time zone to me. If somewhere along the way, I’ve been sucked into vortex where time is just speed, speed, speeding along on an analogue watch with me clinging onto the whirring second hand for dear life.  I’ve got a To Do list that just keeps growing and a pen that refuses to put a line through any of my tasks.  From morning until night I’m constantly trying to get a million and one things done. I end the day exhausted but still feeling as though I have accomplished very little. It’s starting to get to me.

The Faulty Towers project is now in full scale planning mode and so in addition to the many hats I wear as mother, wife, housekeeper, cleaner upper, mistress of Lego tower building and  a dragon fearing ‘princess’, I’m now putting on my hard hat each day and masquerading as a strange cross dressing blend of George Clarke and Kelly Hoppen.   Every day my head pounds with umpteen questions and decisions on everything from the style of switch plates and sockets we want, to the type underfloor heating or the height of the rails in the wardrobes.  This time last year, I felt most buoyed up about managing the house project. Husband was most encouraging too; "This will be such an exciting project for you. Something for you to really get your teeth into. You’re great at this stuff, you’re going to love it.” Now I’m in it. I’m not so sure. It’s all getting a bit stressful. When you don’t know ‘stuff’ you need to research it, and I am finding a) there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ I don’t know when it comes to totally overhauling a house and b) it’s proving very difficult to find the time to research said unknown ‘stuff’ in the necessary detail, (particularly the subject matter I consider boring - CAT5 cabling anyone?). This is all in addition to the normal day to day requirements of running a house, looking after Pip, washing, cleaning, cooking as well as dealing with the day to day issues of living in a dilapidated wreck.  (Leaky sink, broken bathroom pump, temperamental toilet…I won’t go on.)

The answer is staring me in the face - but I don’t like it.  My hobby, my lovely little blog, my writing – is going to be the thing that has to give a bit.  When we first decided to buy Faulty Towers and embark on this huge house project, this blog wasn’t even a glint in my eye.  But now, 6 months on, I love it, and I want to grow it; nurture it. If anything, I’d like to spend more time on it not less, but it’s getting more difficult. My dream of embarking on other writing projects has to be put on hold too. I’d set myself a little goal to write something each month. Last night I said to my husband; “I’m not going to realise my writing goal for January.” The comment came back; “ You probably won’t in February or March either.” He’s right. I won’t, I just don’t have the time at the moment, and I’m past the days where I can burn the midnight oil and get away with it. 

One of the hardest things about being a SAHM is that you end up wearing all the hats.  Because you aren’t physically at work, but in the home, sometimes there is a perception that you have infinite spare capacity to take on lots of other things. In this case, I’m now SAHM and Project Manager of The Grand Design. Really they’re both full time jobs, but I feel like I’m only servicing both of them part time.  The net result of all this is that the first stuff to go when time is tight, and other things are more pressing, is the stuff for me.  My stuff gets pushed to the bottom of the pile.  It’s like the creased shirt at the bottom of the laundry basket that you never quite get round to ironing. ‘ I’ll get round to that one tomorrow – it’s not urgent.’  I don’t want that to be the case with my writing. I don’t want it or my blog to be ignored, or pushed to the bottom of the pile, but, I feel guilty and selfish for still trying to pursue it in the midst of all this chaos.  I can’t change the situation. Other things need my attention more now, and it would be self indulgent of me to ignore those and plough my own furrow.  I just have to accept that maybe I won’t be able to indulge myself quite as much as I would wish.

I’ve got one silver lining though (although I'm sure that a very lovely house at the end of this will be a second.) At the top of the house, in the eaves of the roof, is a little room.  I call it The Garret. The floor is very wonky, it’s cold, there’s something wrong with the flue in the chimney; black dirt comes in through the old Victorian fire. There’s a hole in the window frame, which is home to the 'loveliness' of ladybirds that all gather there.  It’s almost as though they think it’s their little room, they’ve adopted it.  But no, I’ve decided, this room is going to be mine.  My place in the clouds.  I’m going to restore the little Victorian fire and put a little gas burner in it, then I’m going to put up a little desk and some whimsical, quirky wallpaper on one wall. And there, at some point, when life mellows, when I’ve conquered this beast of a house, when Pip starts pre-school, I shall escape occasionally, up the 46 steps to the top.  There in my room, I shall take off all my hats one by one, and lay them carefully down on my polished slightly less wonky floor, and then, I shall write, write, write, to my heart’s content. 

But now, I must stop daydreaming, stop blogging and get myself off to Builders merchants.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Mirror, Mirror



Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Who’s the fairest of them all?
I have to say it is not me
Muchas gracias GRAVITY

Who’s staring out from behind those eyes?
Is there a woman I recognise?
I’m not the girl I used to be
Whatever happened to the ‘old’ me?

Sleepless nights - I’ve got no youthful glow
I think I lost it long ago
Today I am a marketers dream
With trolley loads of youthful cream
Cream for the face and the neck
I buy them all…what the heck!

Yes, this face paints a picture of who I am
But that doesn’t mean I can’t look glam
These lines - from happiness and strife
Are a facial roadmap of my life
Yes, they’re there for all to see
But that doesn’t mean I can’t improve on ‘me’
So everyday I paint my face
Not a lot, just a trace
Potions, lotions, make up too
My apothecary has much to do
Am I guilty of disguising gravity?
Yes, and I accept the charge of VANITY.



I am sure I am not the only woman to look in the mirror and feel that the reflection that stares back at her, isn't quite the one she wants to see.  In my twenties, when I was blessed with a youthful glow, I did not fully appreciate it.  Nowadays, I do all I can to try and restore it.  Before children, I looked at friends who had given birth and thought they somehow looked different afterwards.  Not necessarily older, but there was something about them that had changed.  Perhaps it was just the shell shock of first time motherhood, the sleepless nights, but over time I've started to think it is something more.  I think the essential essence of us alters as we become mothers, nature’s greatest gift also comes with great responsibility, and  I think this shows itself in our eyes and faces; a very delicate nuance of a change, but it is there.

Maybe it's because I was a slightly older mother, but in the two and a half years or so since having Pip, I have noticed changes in my face and body have accelerated at a greater speed than previously. I have wondered if this is because as a mother, I'm constantly giving, giving, giving.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  Do I begrudge this?  No. I don't. My wonderful boy has been the greatest gift the world has given me.  Do I wish that I could stem the acceleration of the bags beneath my eyes, and fine lines like crepe paper starting to appear around my face?  Yes.  Alas, I know I can’t, they are part of the canvas of who I am.  I accept them, but, if I’m honest, hiding them makes me feel better than having them on display.

Before I had my son I took great care with my appearance each morning. I applied make up each day and washed and blow-dried my hair. It was a calm, peaceful time as I got ready for the working day ahead.  Since having my son - mornings are very different, I'm lucky if I can get a shower without someone either getting in with me, emptying the bathroom cupboard, or swivelling the nozzle on the bidet upward to create a fountain spout, then turning it on and flooding the bathroom.  It seems to take forever to get us ready in the morning; an age before we’re ready to start the day. The reason for this is that even though it would be easier, I refuse to give up my morning shower. I still wash and dry my hair every day, and I still put on a slick of concealer, a touch of foundation, a wisp of bronzer and wave my mascara wand over my eyes.

I have wondered many times if I should sacrifice this morning ritual. Ridiculously, I do feel guilty about spending this time on myself. I don’t spend ages doing it, these days it’s more of a brief rain dance followed by a blast of hot wind, but it still takes time.  This now condensed ritual is possibly one of the only things that hasn’t changed in my life since becoming a mother.  Perhaps it is selfish, but I cannot forsake my morning shower and a day with clean hair, even for a few minutes more each day with my son.  We all have our ‘thing’ and this is mine. With clean hair and a little bit of make up, I can face the world, numerous playgroups, unwelcoming mothers, soft play dens and a buggy defiant toddler. But without the clean hair and the slightly improved face, I just feel I’m in the wrong groove all day.  Sometimes you just have to put yourself first.


This post is linking up with Kate on Thin Ice and the Groovy Mums meme. 

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Gift


We were on an escalator, moving slowly upwards from the depths of the underground towards daylight. The adverts were placed on a horizontal slant accompanying us on our journey.  ‘Leonardo Da Vinci, Painter at the Court of Milan’ - The National Gallery.  I commented; ‘Leonardo Da Vinci- I would have loved to see that exhibition. It’s sold out now.’  My husband said nothing. I wasn’t even sure if he’d heard me, but it didn’t seem worth the effort of repeating myself.  I sighed inwardly as we continued to travel upwards.  In my head I was thinking; pre children, I would have known about that show, I would have noted in my diary when the tickets were to be released; I would bought some before they sold out, we would have gone.  

It wasn’t that I just wanted to go on a whim.  I had a special reason for wanting to see this particular exhibition; I’d spent three years at university studying the renaissance, I’d written a dissertation on the court of Milan and Leonardo Da Vinci.  I wanted to see Lady with an Ermine not as a picture in a book, but with my own eyes. I wanted to bear witness to the biggest collection of his works ever bought together under one roof for public viewing. Alas, it was not meant to be. 

Or so I thought.  On Christmas morning, my husband handed me an envelope. Inside, two tickets to see the Leonardo exhibition.  He had bought them at the start of November.  That day on the escalator, they were already safely hidden in his sock drawer.  He’d played it with a straight bat.  If the situation had been reversed I would have been whooping inside with joy; my laughing eyes would have revealed the secret; ‘I’ve got you some tickets. Hurrah!’ but no, not a flicker from my husband.  There is a reason that he plays a good hand at Poker.  Of all the gifts I received for Christmas last year, that present meant the most; it was a well considered, pre planned, thoughtful gift.  As I held the tickets in my hand, it was not lost on me how lucky I am that after all these years, my husband still cares enough to make the effort.  It also meant that we would get to spend some time together, alone. Time that since the birth of our son, has been increasingly rare.  We might snatch a couple of hours away for an evening meal if a visiting parent is willing to babysit, but days out together alone are scarce.

Last week, after lunch in a buzzing brasserie near Trafalgar Square, we made our way to the National Gallery. Despite all my years in London, I couldn’t remember visiting before; there was no sense of deja vu, everything felt as though I were experiencing it for the first time.  There’s something wonderfully calm and peaceful about the place.  The dark wood floors and the leather and mahogany benches in the centre of the vast rooms reminded me of the film ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’.  It also seemed to me, that galleries are wonderful places to conduct a romance; their contemplative air lends itself to it.

We perused some of the bigger galleries for a while, and then arrived at the entrance for the Leonardo exhibition. I felt a wave of emotion flood over me.  Suddenly, I felt unable to speak, and I felt my eyes start to prickle slightly and well with tears.   I’m not a pretentious art arse. It wasn’t that. I wondered what was wrong with me as I stood in the hubbub of the entry hall. Then I realised, it was the sense of time passing; the many days and nights eclipsed.   Inside my head, I flashed back to age 21, to the days of studying the things I was now about to see.  Then suddenly fast forwarding again; now here I was in the moment, fifteen years later, standing with the man I met then, now my husband, the man with whom I now shared a small son, the man, who way back when, had stayed up all night with me in the computer room, to help me format the final pages of my dissertation.  The sense of all the years that had passed since seemed overwhelming. It was a fleeting moment, one that passed unnoticed by my husband. We entered the exhibition; it was crowded and busy, but it did not detract.  I looked at Cecilia Gallerani; the Lady with the Ermine, and the gallery lights cast a warm glow over her wonderful portrait, and I had a sense of how much my life had changed and how far I had come since those early years of adulthood when I had that same picture taped to my wall.

As we walked around that afternoon, it was not however the work of the great Leonardo that I marvelled at the most but in fact, the man beside me.   Sometimes people can surprise you in ways that you did not think possible.  I thought that possibly, my husband would not enjoy the exhibition, that he would show polite interest and come with me, but it would not really be his ‘thing’.   This wasn’t the case. I watched as he meticulously viewed each and every picture, how he marvelled at the fact that Leonardo wrote from right to left, and how he tried to decipher what the additional letters or numbers around some of the pictures might be.  And I thought; is this a part of you I’ve not seen before or a glimpse of a forgotten man?

That afternoon I felt fingertips stroke my back, a warm arm around my shoulders, he twice enquired; ‘ would you like to get a cup of tea or coffee’? (he knows me so well.) It felt different, like a date - a proper date, like before we were married. Later, as we made our way in separate directions, me for home and he, back to work, we sat on opposite platforms at the tube, the tracks between us, and smiled at each other.  One train later, he was gone.  I tried to work out in my mind, what had been different about that afternoon, to try and capture the essence of it, but the answer eluded me.  Instead, I was left pondering the words of Audrey Hepburn, who said; ‘The secret to a good marriage is falling in love with the same person, over and over again.’ I’ve read that quote a thousand times, but I was never really sure I believed it.  Yet, as I stepped on the train for home, without question, I felt as though I were a little bit more in love than when I had arrived earlier that day, and in that sense, my gift was priceless.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Resolutions - Are you a Hare or a Tortoise?

Edward Bawden - The Hare and the Tortoise



There was a moment earlier in the week when I hung my head in shame. As I sat listening to my enthused, energetic friend and the great achievements she’d made so far against her own resolutions, I reprimanded myself for my own sloth like efforts.  I’d pondered until  the second week of January before making my resolutions, and now made, they hung unfulfilled in the ether, like vacuous little clouds. Later in a more positive state of mind, I reflected again, and the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise came to mind.  And I thought;  OK, I might not have been first out of the traps and be bouncing along like a Duracell Hare; I might be easing myself into my resolutions gently, but the tortoise got there in the end, didn’t he?  Then I felt much better, and now I’ve thought about it, I’ve decided that I'm actually quite happy being a tortoise. (Ah, if only I could really hibernate.)

So, moments of self doubt aside, here’s some highlights of the steps I’ve taken this week to work towards some of my New Year goals.

Focusing on health and wellness
Unfortunately, I have to give myself a big fat fail on the exercise front. I’ve done nothing, unless you count getting the Eva Fraser facial fitness DVD out of the box.  However, I did blow the dust off my vitamins and supplements and have been taking them every day. Continuing with the positives, I'm also giving myself a big fat tick on the Bruxism front. No, I haven't found a miracle cure, but  I have found a new specialist dentist and have also been researching how hypnotherapy could help me.  I’m a little wary of this measure, so at the moment, I’m just taking some time to think about it.  Or, you could say…procrastinating.  Hmmm, how am I doing on that resolution?

Procrastinate less
By my very nature I’m a procrastinator and I don’t think I’ll ever change completely.  Awareness is half the battle though, so this week, after months of deliberating on the subject ‘to tweet or not to tweet’, I thought, 'Oh stuff it, it’s only Twitter' and signed myself up.  If you’d like to follow me (which would be lovely) you can find me @mummy_plum.
  
I’ve also notched up a gear on the decision making for our forthcoming house renovations. I took myself off to the bathroom shop this week and made some half decisions, which hopefully I can cement before the end of next week. There’s nothing like 25% off in the January sale as an incentive to speed up the decision making process.

One day a week when I don’t wear Jeans
I have to laugh at myself for trying this. Who was I kidding? (Answer: myself).  I’m finding this resolution ridiculously difficult. Maybe it's the limitations of my current wardrobe, but I haven’t succeeded as yet with a jean free day. In my defence, I did try today; I got up and I put on some leggings and a dress and the plan was to wear it with my boots, in a kind of casual/boho way.  Maybe it’s just me, but it felt wrong. I thought; ‘I can’t flounce around the house wearing this. I’ve got stuff to do – I can’t cook, clean etc like this.’  So by 10am I’d taken it off and was back in my mummy uniform of jeans and some layered tops.  I need to think again about how I approach this one. Clearly dresses are not the answer.

Writing
I don’t have lots of time to write and I often find myself wishing I had more time. However, I did download a great app for my iphone a little while ago, which I used for the first time this week, I'm hoping it will help me snatch a few writing moments here or there.  It's called  ‘My Writing Spot’. It's great for using when you're out and about and you can then email what you’ve written to yourself or others.  I used it on the train this week and I was quite pleased with how I made use of the travelling time - and with what I wrote too!

So, there you have it, I’m a few tortoise like steps further on than I was a week ago. Hurrah for tortoises, that’s what I say.

I’m linking this post up as part of the Grooving Mums blog hop at Kate on Thin Ice. Each week Kate sets a few challenges for us #groovymums to consider if we want to.  This week there are some probing questions posed on the subjects of body and mind, as well as the topics of blogging and who we can ask to help us more.  You can read the challenges and more about the Grooving Mums blog hop here.



Monday, 9 January 2012

The Buggy War


We had been in the house all day, outside it had been raining non-stop.  There was a break in the clouds, a reprieve from the downpour.   The kitchen cupboard, like that of old Mother Hubbard, was bare, and we needed food for supper.  We had to go out.  A quick dash to the shops was all that was needed.  I reasoned we could be back in 45 minutes. Stress was mounting; we’d spent the last ten minutes in deadlock.  For months, the scooter had been ignored and parked at the back of the kitchen, in the past two weeks, it had become his favourite thing. Little Pip believed he had now found his balance and the buggy, standing solitary in the hallway, was now considered ‘buggata non grata’.  A verbal tussle had ensued; Me:“Buggy”, Pip: “Scooter”….”Buggy” ,“Scooter”,”Buggy”,”Scooter”.

I might have been more accepting of the idea if he could actually scoot down to the high street and back on his own, but he can’t.   A trip of that distance with the scooter relies heavily on Mummy pushing, balancing, towing, and resembling the hunchback of Notra Dame.  With bags of shopping to haul as well, the scooter was not an option.  And so it was, that I resigned myself to the impending voice of mother doom and whispered those immortal words; “Get into the buggy and I’ll give you some chocolate buttons.”   He was in that seat quicker than you can say ‘Maclaren.’

Rod for my own back? Indeed.  Since the aforementioned day, the buggy has now become the domain of negotiation; my little man has proved himself quite smart in this regard.  I have managed to backtrack slightly to a packet of dried fruit, despite being treated with great scorn; “THAT’S not a treat, Mummy”. Alas, by my own doing, we are now in a world where he now expects rewards for the honour of placing his derriere on the buggy.  I have to face the brutal facts, we have reached the point where he doesn’t want to sit in the buggy anymore.  Mr Independent wants to get about his own way; walking or scooting.  Apart from the limitations of his current scooting ability, this is posing problems for a multitude of other reasons:

1) No Buggy: No Daytime Sleep
Yet another shameful confession; he has never had a sleep in his bed in the daytime.  I have  always relied on taking him out for a walk to get him to sleep. A quick waltz round the block and he’d be out like a light.  Not so now.  If I do succeed in getting him in it, then it’s hood up/ hood down, a hoodini attempt at removing the safety harness, or another favourite trick, the dragging of feet along pavement or placing of feet on the wheel, like a mini brake. Try and get him to sleep in his bed? He’ll have none of it, at very best, we achieve some ‘quiet time’ on the sofa.  I love my boy immensely but I have to say, I miss my hour or so of solitude each day.

2) No Buggy: No Shopping Trolley
Just a buggy? Oh no, my Maclaren is SO much more than that.  It’s my shopping trolley. Counterbalance? I have it down to a fine art.  But, I need Pip in it to make it work.   

3) No Buggy: Mother becomes a Packhorse
Without the buggy who ends up carrying all the paraphernalia that comes with the little people? Mummy, that’s who.  When the three of us go out to the Zoo we have coats,  a camera, packed lunch, drink, spare clothes, baby wipes - and goodness knows what else. When travelling with our buggy it’s great, we dump it all on, thereby demonstrating fine art of counterbalance yet again, and can enjoy our day out.  Without the buggy, Daddy and Pip skip off enjoying themselves and Mummy becomes the packhorse trailing behind under all the gear.  Actually, make that a grumpy packhorse.

4) No Buggy: No prop-me-up support
And finally, on those days when I’m just plain exhausted, the buggy is great as a zimmer frame for a tired mummy.

So, whilst my son might not need the buggy, I still do.  I am not ready to give it up anytime yet.  What’s a mother supposed to do?  I seriously think there is a gap in the market for a new invention; I’m thinking 21st century granny trolley, with a hook for a scooter, and also a seat - just in case I get tired.  Dragons Den, here I come.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year, New Groove


A new year; like a blank sheet of paper, the story yet unwritten. A realm of unknown opportunities and possibilities awaits.  Exciting?  Yes, this year I think so.  I feel positive about this year.  To tell the truth, I’ve been raring to get here since early December.  And here I am at last. Hurrah for January!

Last January I had a visitor.  Forget Jack Frost, Black Frost came my way.  In the dim light of those cold, early days of the year, he was always there, pinching at my happiness, squeezing it out of me, like tears. Everything felt dark; my house, my heart.  I didn’t know how to make it go away.  Eventually, it did - just sort of lifted off with the incoming breath of spring and the real me returned.  The relief was immense. I had never felt like that in my life before, even in  difficult times. I’d always thought I was blessed with a buoyant human spirit, but afterwards, I was not so sure.  All I knew was, I never wanted to feel that way again.

For this reason alone, I am resolute that I will have a good start to 2012. I am determined to make January a stellar month; to blow away last years cobwebs and to feel energised, bright and confident.  So I’m joining up again with Kate on Thin Ice and her Grooving Mums initiative.  This supportive blog hop inspired me a lot in 2011,  I’m hoping it will do the same this year, and that maybe I can give something back by inspiring and supporting others along the way too.  


If I had a crystal ball I wonder what treats I’d see in store for me this year?  I love sitting down with my calendar at the start of the year and writing all the events or things I’ve got to look forward to on each month.  Among the things I’ve recorded on this years fetching photo calendar of my little man are:  a long planned trip away to celebrate a special wedding anniversary, the execution of the Faulty Towers house project, a little bit more ‘me’ time as Pip starts pre-school in September, some tickets to see the Olympics, the opportunity to spend more time with my Dad as he retires.  These are all wonderful things to look forward to, enjoy and appreciate but, finally knowing myself a little better, I know I need more than these peaks to sustain me through the year.  I need stuff to get me through the day to day, and through the lulls to those adrenalin high peaks.  So, I’m setting myself a few goals – Grooving goals –to aim for.  I've decided to set them out as things to start, stop and continue doing.  Only time will tell how I get on (unless of course, you've got a crystal ball, in which case you'll know already...)

START

Taking my health and wellbeing seriously

I’m going to start taking some proper, regular exercise.  My mission is to find some form of exercise I enjoy and then DO it.  And I’m also going to commit to one walk a week too.
I’m going to take my supplements every day – rather than let them gather dust on mantelpiece and take them occasionally.
I will sort out my problems with bruxism. This IS going to be the year I conquer it.
I’m going to start the Eva Fraser Facial Fitness programme.  (Think natural botox...and free!)

Being more Proactive

I’m going to arrange at least one day or night a month to see my friends.  It’s so easy to just keep in touch by text, email or facebook. It’s not the same as a meeting face to face – a good catch up over a coffee or glass of wine can really replenish a friendship and reinvigorate the soul too.

Saying No

I sometimes think I let certain people take advantage of me slightly. My default answer is always ‘Yes’.  'Yes, I can help'. ‘Yes, you can come and stay’, ‘Yes, I will mind your children’. I like helping others,  I really do, but recently I’ve thought, maybe occasionally I just need to be a little bit more selfish and put myself and my family first.  It won’t hurt me to say no occasionally.

Vamping it up 

I’m going to try and have one day a week where I don’t wear jeans.  This is going to be  quite a difficult challenge for me as I literally live in jeans.  But I’m not over the hill yet, I’ve got a reasonably nice figure, *blushes for complimenting self* and I think I should make a bit more of an effort to show it off.  Life’s too short to always wear jeans.  It’ll be a nice shopping challenge to embrace too.


STOP

Procrastinating.   I can be the queen of indecision. I'm going to focus on making decisions in a more timely manner, particularly with regard to the house project.  They might not always be the right decisions, but at least I’ll have made them.

Worrying about things I cannot change.


CONTINUE

Writing
I’m going to continue with my blog, try and post a little more often if I can, keep joining in with Grooving Mums and maybe try and join in with some other blog hops too.  I’d like to start writing some fiction too.  I’m going to try and formulate a novel plan during the course of the year, so if I do decide to participate in NaNoWriMo in November I’m ready to get out of the starting blocks on day one.

Indulging in the simple pleasures - Eating Cake, drinking full fat Lattes, buying too many fancy notebooks, watching Gossip Girl  with a glass of pinot noir whilst lusting after Chuck Bass...simple pleasures, but I love them!

So that’s what I ‘m doing to get my groove on this year, I ‘d love to hear what you think or how you plan to get into your groove this year - other people's stories inspire me!

 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Highs and Lows of 2011

A round up of the 2011 seemed like a good idea. This post was inspired by Polly at Caught Writing who answered the following questions about her year.  I really enjoyed reading her answers so thought I'd also write some of my own.
 
1. What was your happiest event?
The year was filled with happy events. Special memories include a fabulous holiday to Greece with some good friends, an ‘old fashioned’ birthday party at home for Pip’s second birthday, a week away in Norfolk with my parents, and afternoon tea at The Lanesborough, to celebrate our wedding anniversary just before Christmas.  The afternoon tea was a wonderful way to finish the year, just the two of us; sipping champagne, drinking tea, eating lots of cake and chatting uninterrupted.  There is a sense of occasion and something innately British about afternoon tea, which I love. There was also a slightly tipsy girl in one corner singing along a little too loudly as the pianist played carols, much to my amusement.  It was fun watching everyone pretend not to look, or notice, when really, we were all looking and wondering which direction the caterwauling was coming from!

2. What was the saddest thing to happen? 
I had a miscarriage at the start of last year. The early promise of  Jan/Feb disappeared in March. I was sad. But, these things happen, and sometimes, despite what you wish for, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. I am blessed in many ways, and I try to be thankful for what I do have in life rather than what I don’t.

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead? 
This blog was born and it’s still here!  I’m not known for my stickability. In fact, I’ve never kept a diary for more than a few months at a time before giving up. I wasn’t sure if I’d stick with my blog, but I have, and I’m still enjoying it. I’ve met some wonderful and inspiring new people, and it’s a great outlet for me to express myself too.
  
4. Who let you down? 
No one, I’m pleased to say.  If anything, I sometimes felt I let myself down, by having too high expectations of myself.

5. Who supported you?
My husband. My mum. My best friend.

6. Tell us one thing you learned
How to make Christmas pudding according to the old family recipe. I now need to water (with brandy) every 3 months during the course of this year, and change the muslin cloths, to keep it sterile. I’m not quite sure about getting that bit right, but hopefully it will be ok and we’ll all still be here next Boxing Day!

 7. Tell us one thing that made you laugh 
One man, Two Guvnors at the National Theatre starring James Corden. Slapstick comedy at its best.  I laughed till I cried.

8. Tell us one thing that made you cry 
I don't cry much, but if you refer to question 2, there were some tears shed then.

9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud 
a)After a year of getting in the pool with my son, he finally started having swimming lessons on his own.  Swimming has been a real challenge for him, but I’m so glad we persevered. He’s really found his flippers now.
b)Mastering potty training with relative ease. 
c) I was very proud of my son this Christmas, he coped with all the visitors, present giving and chaos so well. He played with all his new toys beautifully, wasn’t a manic paper ripper, waited to be given each present from under the tree  (to my utter amazement) and didn’t have one single melt down.

10. Tell us one thing that made you proud of yourself.
Starting my blog and sticking with it. 

11. Tell us one challenge you overcame 
Fronting up to some awkward conversations with the neighbours over our plans for the redevelopment and extension of our house. (And managing to do it in such a way that I think they still like us.) 

12. Tell us three things you would like to change about your life in 2012 
I suffer from Bruxism. This year I need to find a way of managing it properly and prevent it getting any worse. 
I’d like to get fit.  I think the energy buzz that exercise gives you can be very beneficial, mentally as well as physically.  This means finding some exercise I enjoy doing…which will be the challenge.
I’d like to write something. A story. NaNoWriMo in November is an aspiration, but I’m not sure if that’s too large an ambition.  Watch this space...



Happy New Year!