Weekend For Me

Yippee a weekend all for me as the kids are safely at the grandparents. They are already having an amazing time as is quite evident in the pictorial updates I have had. But what about me? What plans have I got?

Well you might think that catching up on some sleep might be on the cards and yes I am sure at least one nap will feature. However this weekend it’s about catching up on those chores that are made twice as frustrating with two small people in tow. First up is the shower cubicle. It’s a grim job but it needs resealing and a few tiles fixed back on. No problem with the help of a few tunes and the right tools.

Once that’s done it defrosting the old fridge and freezer ready for disposal next week. We now have one of those super American fridges that a person could live in on these hot summer days. The lawn needs cutting after the rain and the garden needs some general TLC so that’s on the list too.

The dogs are looking hopefully at the door – think they fancy a child-free stroll. One that doesn’t descend into me trying to herd cats and generally falling out with everyone! They also need a bath but they don’t know about that yet….

Not much of a relaxing weekend I hear you mutter. But here is the thing: I can’t remember what a ‘relaxing weekend’ feels like. There are always so many chores to do and so few opportunities to do them properly. Weekends in my 20s would of been spent in a pub garden surrounded by friends. These days my friends all have kids; what’s the point of a weekend off if you are chasing after someone else’s 2 year old?? So it will be another brew and a silicon gun for me today and you know what that’s ok. At least I get to listen to my choice of music and I won’t have to wipe anyone’s bottom or argue about how many biscuits constitutes an afternoon snack…

Motivational Failure – Why I can’t get myself to the Gym

So you might be wondering how the exercise plan is going – no doubt you are ready to hear tales of how I have motivated myself to lose at least a pound or two… well no!

Really this site should be called fat bum won’t exercise… I have had my FitBit on which gives a surprising insight to how much walking I do. Considering I now spend most of the day in the car, I can still clock up 7000 steps most days. Of course that’s does not negate the fact that I eat burger for lunch almost every day. Add to this my excruciating back pain (it’s the sitting all day) I have to admit that the motivation for exercise is severely lacking.

You see I start of with great intentions. Today for example I was going to do the park run with a friend – but she didn’t text so I just kept that suggestion on the downlow. Now I am lying in bed drinking a full fat latte from Nero; nursing the heartburn that was a consequence of the freshly baked croissant that accompanied said coffee.

People tell me that once I start to exercise it becomes addictive. I find this hard to believe – chocolate, cigarettes and shoes are addictive but exercise? I can see that it makes you feel good and you get a sense of achievement but I can’t imagine it is comparable to biting into a bar of Dairy Milk straight from the fridge…. mind you if I never get started I will never know!

Perhaps I should set some personal achievable goals. Of course today’s goal is to get out of this bed and do the 18 loads of washing. If I have the energy after that and my spine doesn’t feel like it’s on fire I could do a 20 minute jog. But really I would rather sit for 20 mins and drink a brew. Preferably while the kids play quietly in the other room. See I think this might be the crux of the issue – I don’t want to ‘waste’ my 20 mins of down time from the small ones to go for a run. I want 20 minutes for me to relax, drink a hot cuppa or have a quick shower. There are not enough 20 minutes in the day and I don’t want to spend time doing something I know I will initially hate!

(As if to to emphasise my laziness the other half has suddenly dropped to the floor and done 20 push-ups. He is working on his beach body…)

I should be working to be ‘beach body’ ready myself. The prospect of putting this post-2-children body into a bikini is not something I want to think about. Don’t get me wrong it looks alright under clothes but bikinis don’t give you a lot of space to hide. Beside which the bottom half of my legs will never tan. I will do that thing where you only get brown knees and the bar across your feet where your flip flops are. You would think that the bikini thing would push me to tone up this ass – it doesn’t I will just buy a bikini with short bottoms!

So I think this post explains that I am fundamentally lazy! Does anyone have a suggestion as to how I can get myself motivated??

Why I am failing at Middle Class Motherhood…

It’s a long standing joke in our house that I am a ‘terrible’ mother. To be honest I think the main problem is that Pie attends an outstanding school. This would be fine, apart from the fact I am not an outstanding parent. In fact if Ofsted rated me I would probably be inadequate in many areas. I am a rubbish cook – despite my best efforts. We don’t do crafts at home  and I cannot teach Pie to ride his bike as he only ever pedals backwards. My driving skills are fair but my in car singing could be considered harmful… I do apparently make good sandwiches and give great cuddles (thanks Pie).


The other problem is I fail to get involved in the middle-class motherhood game. I don’t do yoga, therefore I never turn up to the school in my yoga pants or with a fabulous post gym glow. Usually poor Pie is lucky to see me at all at the school gate. If by some miracle I am there at 3 I am either in my scruffy jeans, with no make up and the ‘thrown through a hedge backwards look’. Or I am in my uniform, looking slightly harassed because I meant to get off early to pick him up with plenty of time. But I am in fact late and running from the car feeling slightly harassed and rather hot. 

Of course the other Mum’s all ask there little darlings how they got on at school. Pie always races out and announces that his pants are wet and can he watch Avengers when he gets home. This compounds the belief of the other parents that I am in fact a terrible mother in two ways. Firstly I am unable to potty train my 5 year old and secondly I allow him to watch TV. I just grin and unfold the plastic bag from my pocket for him to sit on in the car (it’s on hire purchase don’t judge my need for seat protection). I challenge anyone to toilet train this child – in fact I would pay you!


Worst of all are school projects, you know the ones where that damn bear come home for the weekend and you have to keep a journal. I can hardly write that The Bear watched me tackle washing pile mountain, wrestle Pudding into clothes and fail to cook a meal without cremating some part of it. I am pretty sure that the other entries in the book are utter bull. The person who gets The Bear after us must be like ‘winner, anything I write is gonna be better than that…’  

So no I don’t do yoga, I don’t have a gym membership and no my child has not mastered the toilet yet. I can’t attend the PTA, charity fun run or help out at the bake sale. I barely manage to keep up with the reading record, let alone complete the ‘optional’ (it’s not optional AT ALL) homework. I can’t stand the obligatory costume days, Easter bonnets or other such parenting requirements. I have tried to be as pulled together and perfect as the other parents at the school gate but the reality is I can’t manage it. I am just another frazzled looking mama who loves her kids but is never gonna win parent of the year. And you know what I can live with that. Motherhood is not a competition. It’s an ongoing battle, that you occasionally win but inevitably more often than not lose! 

A Busy Mum’s Guide To Buying A New House

So as many of you will know Pudding HQ is on the move! After several weeks of umming and ahhing, walking round houses and panicking that we would eventually be homeless it now looks like we are sorted. I have to say though it’s not an easy thing to organise a house move. Hardly surprising that they say this is one of the most stressful things you can do.

It really is a mine field of conflicting and biased advice out there so I have cobbled together a quick guide. I am by no means a property guru, mortgage advisor or solicitors. But here are a few things that I think made the process easier:

Busy Mum’s Guide To Buying a New House
  1. Mortgages & Agreements in Principle – A lot of places won’t let you start viewing properties until you can prove that you are financially viable. Which I can kind of understand. Viewings are time-consuming, not to mention having to keep the damn place tidy so people can look round. You want to know that people coming through the door are serious prospects. Most of the high street banks will now give you an Agreement in Principle. This is great if your finances are straightforward, but if you have a few debts etc I would recommend speaking to someone on the telephone. We found we could actually have quite a lot more mortgage when we spoke to a human! Finally be wary of estate agents and their recommended mortgage advisor, they get a big chunk of throwback commission for introducing new clients….
  2. Appointing Agents to Sell Your Place – You must have all seen the recent influx of online estate agents offering to sell your house at a fixed fee. I would definitely recommend getting a quote from one of these agents and possibly a local one so you can compare the prices. Be warned that most agents will tie you in to a few weeks where they will be the sole agent. Don’t forget that all prices quoted are liable to VAT. Make sure you know the exact costs from the outset and the tie-in length. The other thing to consider is that home buying is changing. High street estate agents are quickly being replaced by online sites such as Rightmove & Zoopla. If you are spending all your time looking for properties on these sites what do you think everyone else is doing?? Make sure which ever agent you use is posting your property on these sites.
     
  3. A Picture Tells A Thousand Words – You know the kind of houses that draw you in. Wide spaces, lots of light beautiful pictures where you cut and paste your family in your mind’s eye. So you want your pictures to be taken like that for the home your selling. Make sure that your agent is showing off your property with amazing pictures. But likewise when you are searching for a house remember that some agents will enhance pictures or use professional photographers and some won’t. An internet picture does not necessarily tell you everything. If you like the area and the floor plan, go see the house
  4. Sealed Bids…. – A lot of estate agents are employing this tactic at the moment. Asking you to provide your best and final offer. This can cause you to over-pay on the value of the house as it creates a feeding frenzy mentality. Not so bad if this happens on the house you are selling but pretty awful if it happens on the house you are buying. Remember that if you offer way over the asking price that your lender will complete a valuation survey. If the valuation is much less than what you have offered you will need to find the difference or attempt to negotiate with the seller.
  5. Go With Your Gut – House buying is a huge deal, so don’t end up buying a house you don’t really like. If there are things you don’t like, or are niggling away at you then stop and think for a minute. Somethings like hideous decor are fixable. Being 2 buses away from the nearest primary school, that has an inadequate Ofsted rating you are going to have to live with. Make sure you know what is important to you, make a list of things that can be compromised and things that are fundamentals. Moving is expensive you don’t wanna have to do it again in a few years!
  6. Instruct a Solicitor – buying and selling houses requires you to have a conveyancer, unless you are an amazing legal brain yourself. There are quite a few online companies for this now, but just be sure to read their reviews and take into consideration having to print, sign, scan and upload all your documents. Personally I quite like the online services because they give you a tracker and you can see exactly whats got to be done next and how far down the process you are. Also when you get quotes for your conveyancer remember that they usually include your stamp duty so don’t fall off of your chair at the costs until you have checked. A lot of them also do a no completion-no fee deal, bit of protection should your purchase/sale fall through.
  7. The Survey – If you are having a mortgage you will definitely need a survey. Cash buyers can have a survey at their own discretion. The mortgage lenders are usually happy to accept a basic valuation survey. If you want a more in-depth survey this will come at a cost. We went with the basic – because last time we had the home buyer it was very ambiguous for example ‘the electrics appear to be in good working order but we recommend that you have them fully checked by a certified electrician before committing to buy the property’. It was the same with the plumbing, heating, roof etc….

So there you have it – my Busy Mum’s Guide to House Buying. This has taken you up to the stage I am currently at. I will get another post written once we have completed. They reckon 6 weeks, but I am not holding my breath…..

Have you got any useful information about buying houses?

Never Underestimate The Baby Cold

‘Ah poor Pudding’ I chuckled at some point two weeks ago. My little lady was full of cold and kept sneezing all over the place. I felt sorry for her, poor girl was not happy Pud at all. Of course we were all suffering the dramatics of Puddings first real baby cold. She whinged all day, wiped snot in every conceivable place and had us up at all hours. But calpol was dispensed and cuddles were given.

dagon_ / Pixabay

I hadn’t anticipated for one moment that soon all of us would be suffering. Pie got it first and battled through with minimal fuss. Mr Pud came next – a day on the sofa saw him right as rain. Then is was my turn. Armed with my flu jab and an extra boost of vitamin C from my recent orange obsession. I was quietly confident…

Alas! My yet again less than capable immune system let me down. Badly. Now the baby cold is what I like to think of as a bunch of juvenile bugs. Think over excited puppy, as they go whizzing round your body. Bit of a runny nose, half-hearted cough and a few sneezes. Then they fizzle out, unable to take a proper hold. Well at least that is how they operate in most people. However, once they meet my immune system they manage to morph. Suddenly juvenile bugs are grade A assassins. Their only intention is to capture and hold my sinuses. Once they have a strong hold they can camp in there for weeks.

Archbob / Pixabay

What was previously a ‘baby cold’ has now become a sinister sinusitis. The assassins are in and have been holding me hostage for well over a week now. No more hilarity at Mummy sneezing. Oh no, now everyone is running for cover. My patience has been replaced with a constant headache and the inability to bend down. Just to add a little extra to this already less than fun party are some feverish chills and achey joints. (Yeh good work flu jab you have done me a solid here).

Having to admit defeat and take time off work was a low point. But I told myself a few days rest and I would be on it. Well that was 6 days ago. I am by no means ‘on it’. Unless of course ‘on it’ means curled up on the sofa under a blanket surrounded by tissues. In which case I am very much ‘on it’. It is a sign of how bad things have got when the dog has given up stealing the used tissues.

Yet again I underestimated the ‘baby cold’. I should have been wearing a mask last week! It is too late for me, but I warn you save yourself. Those puppy-like viruses and bacteria are coming for you.

Rediscovering Me to Land a New Job

So a few weeks ago I was struggling with juggling nursing and being a mum. Life was tough and I could see no way of making it better. Then followed an even heartier kick in the teeth when I failed to gain the substantive post for the job I have been doing for 2 years. Yep I have to say I was pretty damn low. In fact so low I was seriously contemplating leaving nursing forever and becoming a postman. (I love post, I just think it’s so exciting get stuff through the door…)

Then came a moment in my life where someone actually stood up and basically said don’t be a dickhead. She was right, I either threw my toys out the pram or I picked myself up and dusted myself off. Stopped bemoaning the unfairness of the situation and actually proved I was more than what I was threatening to become.

Image from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e4/8e/3d/e48e3d75fa27f5ddafaca0f501175d95.jpg

It was hard. Almost crippled by self-doubt and the fear of failing a second time. But then I thought about what I have already overcome. The challenges I have faced head on – not least this last year with PND after Pudding. The time had come to stand up, to fight for what I believed and to put myself out there.

So I did. In went the application for a job I never would have applied for a year ago. Every time it crossed my mind over Christmas my stomach did that awful flip-flop. I let myself have moments of day dreaming that I had the job. Every time I did my confidence grew just a bit more. But not just that so did my passion for my nursing career. I felt re-energised for the first time since the children. I felt like me. Not just Mummy but a woman who could achieve her dreams of a career and family.

I planned how I could work and have the kids cared for. I read, anything and everything that might be useful. The interview was confirmed and I redoubled my efforts. Now I wanted this, really wanted it. No longer a pipe dream, I believed I could make this happen.

The interview date came. Sat waiting to be called my hand shook a little, my stomach seemed to twist and dance entirely to its own tune. If I thought the pre-interview wait was bad the post interview wait was a whole new form of torture. My mind analysed it over and over and over until I could barely remember what had even happened! Then finally the moment was there – as the words came out of my managers mouth I couldn’t really understand what she was saying. Let alone believe it! I had done it, the job was mine. Holy Shit!!!!!

So in the next few weeks I will start my new post. Full of enthusiasm and the passion to make positive changes. Will it all be plain sailing? Ha unlikely! I am on the steepest learning curve of my career. It’s going to be tough, a whole new challenge. Not just for me but for all of us as we try to juggle a new working pattern. Will it be worth it? I believe it will, but watch this space…

 

It’s Dinosaur; not Dine-Saw!

It’s a disappointment bigger than a Brachiosaurus that my boy Pie has not the slightest Iguanodon in dinosaurs. It’s not for lack of Triceratops on my part. Right from an egg I have been talking to him about these amazing creatures, but I may have been speaking in Velociraptor for all the good its done me. He doesn’t even Tyrannosaurus to look interested its like talking to a Diplodocus most days!

DariuszSankowski / Pixabay

He would rather talk about Star Wars or Harry Potter! It really gets my Spinosaurus up when I show him a dinosaur and he calls it a dragon. Why can’t we talk about Pachycephalosaurus or Zigongosaurus? They aren’t difficult names for my own Sauropod to get his tongue round! Yet he behaves like a creature from the early Triassic period and calls them all dine-saw…(Damn you George Pig) I know it’s not the be Allosaurus or end all but I always thought having kids would enable me to justify my own geeky love of dinosaurs!

I can still remember that first trip to the Natural History Museum with my own family. The sheer excitement as we walked through the door and came face to face with a colossal skeleton! It was an awe-inspiring moment, even now it still makes me Gallimimus. It cemented a life long passion and a desire to study Paleontology. (Alas this is waiting for my retirement, not many dinosaurs in Birmingham!)

JerzyGorecki / Pixabay

After a relentless first year of forcing dinosaur clothes, books and toys on him, Mr Pud has now banned me from trying to brainwash him into my Cretaceous period. I am not even allowed to show him Jurassic Park until he is older, not even the bit before it gets scary. But how can my Anklyosaurus-biter be such an old Stegosaurus? Maybe I will get lucky in Pudding and she will develop into a Gigantosaurus nerd like her Mother, after all who else is going to run round the Natural History Museum with me?


 

Rhyming with Wine

5 Ways to Beat the New Year Blues

Oh my don’t you think Christmas flies by faster and faster each year? All the planning, preparation, wrapping and cooking; then before you know it, it’s gone. You are left sitting in your pyjamas on Boxing Day morning surrounded by bags of wrapping paper and enough leftovers to see you through to the end of January. If you are like me post-Christmas can leave you a little flat! So here are my top tips for picking yourself up in the New Year.

Top Tips for Beating New Year Blues
Lazare / Pixabay
  • Make a pledge to get active – yeh I know it’s a cliché and that January sees an influx of gym memberships (that are never used after February) But you don’t have to join the gym to get fit. Just a promise to take the dog out more often, or to walk to school on those cold bright mornings. Keep your goal achievable – you don’t need to set yourself up to fail!

    Snufkin / Pixabay
  • Clean out your wardrobe. Come on admit you are never going to wear that dress ever again. And those shoes? What were you thinking. Be ruthless – if you haven’t worn  it in 6 months get rid of it. Better still bundle the best bits together and get yourself on eBay. With all that extra cash you can hit the sales, buying things you actually want to wear!

    cocoparisienne / Pixabay
  • Book a holiday – I was doing this whilst cooking Christmas dinner! It doesn’t have to be the holiday of a life time (unless you got a Christmas bonus in which case go for it!) But just a weekend away later in the year will give you something to look forward too. Loads of places take a deposit these days so if you are strapped for cash you can book now and pay a little later in the year when your finances have recovered from Christmas.

    Pexels / Pixabay
  • Set a goal – what do you really want to do this year? Sky dive, feed a meerkat or something more simple like read a book or spend more time with family. Decide what 2017 is going to mean for you and set yourself a target. It doesn’t have to be life changing – but it does us good to have something to work towards. Pudding, for example, has decided that she is going to curb TV use at HQ by chewing the buttons off the remote. You have to have goals people!

    Ben_Kerckx / Pixabay
  • Appreciate what you have. It’s not always about striving towards the next thing. Sometimes it’s learning to enjoy what’s around you. Taking the time to really make the most of friends and family. Finding joy in the little things, is the beginning of true of happiness. So whilst the New Year is a time to look forward and plan, it’s also a time to reflect.

So there you go a few simple ideas to banish those New Year Blues. Have you got any others you would like to share?

‘I will not be defeated by a bad man and an American stick insect…’

I love this line from Bridget Jones Diary – her attitude towards a total kick in the teeth is what is inspiring me this evening. I am down but I am no way out. My problem is not man related like Bridget’s. Mr Pud is such a good egg, I am a lucky girl. But as Bridget also says

 

This is the final straw, the one that has broken this Mama’s back. It is time to stop being a victim. Time to stand up and flick a V sign. I am sick and tired of being kicked like a puppy. I am not a puppy, I am a bloody lioness.

Yes today was; as is so eloquently put by Rachel in Friends:

You see today was the culmination of everything I have worked towards being stuck in a blender. Never have I been more demoralised. I can’t give you the details here – I wish I could. Just know that at this point I have to believe that everything happens for a reason.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I am standing up and saying STOP. No more meek acceptance of things that are fundamentally wrong. A life that is damaging my family. To hell with this.

A monster was created today. Granted she is a wounded, slightly beat up monster, but that is what makes her more dangerous. A flicker of burning passion, currently fuelled by a cold hard rage is coursing through my veins. This time I won’t be put off, this time I will strive to achieve my potential.

In a time of rising discontent in so many. In a world where racists and fascists are starting to impact on our very civilisation I can no longer sit back and let the injustices lie. If I can’t fight for myself, how can I fight for my children and for those who are unable to fight for themselves.

This Mama bear has a plan, a goal and by hook or by crook this time I will succeed. Even if I do need to channel my inner Bridget Jones!

Can I please get off the mothering merry-go-round?

I can’t be the only one who wakes up and just think today I just don’t want to mother! Usually it’s when my wake up call involves some form of a scream. That is not an alarm clock any person needs. This is often followed swiftly by several demands. ‘I want breakfast, I wet the bed, where is my milk, I don’t want to go to school’ etc etc… it’s not really how I imagined my life would be!
It’s a fact that I am sure parents universally agree with. Raising kids is not always a bundle of fun. The daily battles, the endless washing pile and the continuous tidying up after the little darlings. Is it then surprising that some days I lack a little motivation? That on occasion I wonder why I bother when I am met with resistance at every turn?


Of course not every day feels like perpetual ground hog day. But the majority of days are like an endless merry-go round. We get up, we battle into clothes, fight about teeth brushing and toileting. Coffee is drunk, meals are prepared and the washing is put in the machine, dried and put away. Over and over, round and round. Today I confess I want to get off the ride.


I want to go out with nothing in my pocket but a bank card and a packet of cigarettes. I’d like to eat where I like, spend an hour browsing the shops. Perhaps make an appointment to get my hair done. Possibly drive into the country and walk the dog in peace, without nagging. Or just imagine, curling up next to a roaring fire in a pub with a glass of red in my hand. No rushing, no bickering, no whining and nobody asking me to do anything. Of course that’s pure fantasy!


The alarm has gone off. The first round of The Imperial March is coming from the kids bedroom. There is a whooping noise that can only mean Pudding is up and dancing to her brothers singing. The bin men are coming down the road – those bags need taking out! The dog needs to be let down the garden for a wee… there is no getting off the merry go round today. It’s onwards and upwards for this Mama Bear.