Word of the Week…

And this week’s #WotW is:

Work

As I was contemplating how my week had gone I realised that, despite only working part time (I head to the office four days a week – one of them is a half day) – I really only see my children for a couple of hours a night Monday through Thursday. For this reason I generally always reach Friday and my week cannot really be summed up by anything central to my role as a parent or to my time with the kids without looking back to the previous weekend. Then I realised that I spent all last Sunday morning at work doing overtime.

On Fridays I take the children to our local toddler group in the mornings (although JJ has pretty much grown out of this experience and is only interested in the biscuits) and then sometimes we go out for lunch with Daddy if he’s got the day off (he works shifts so this is relatively frequent) before EJ’s nap and then an afternoon of Softplay with our lovely NCT friends. By Saturday we are pretty much all completely zonked!

This week I had it confirmed that I will be reducing my hours a little come April giving me an extra day away from the office. This is great for me but doesn’t necessarily mean I will see more of the children as JJ will still be at pre-school and EJ with our childminder for part of the day. However I am hoping that the extra time I have to get organised will free me up to be much more ‘present’ with them when we are together and to have more energy at the weekends. Less work, more play – hurrah!

The Reading Residence

Other peoples’ blues

Half empty

Four mornings a week I find myself in the presence of a lovely lady who does me a great favour saving me both time and money through her selfless generosity. She is the first person who I see and speak to on these days. Unfortunately she is also the world’s biggest pessimist, gloom-monger and doom sayer. In fact I’d go so far as to suggest that her glass is way less than half empty.

This puts me in the unenviable position of starting off each working day, not with a cheerful, sunny or inspirational ‘thought for the day’ but rather a dire, doom-laden prospectus on the unravelling of society, the hopelessness of the way our country is going and the traffic gridlock our town will surely face when they start building the new Sainsburys in a few weeks time.

Sometimes I am tempted to stick my fingers in my ears and, as the choon says, sing “La La La”. However, this would be extremely rude, ungrateful and frankly, out of character (I was after all brought up with some manners!).

My main strategy is to try and turn the conversation to something less gloomy as soon as a suitable chance presents itself. This doesn’t always work and sometimes I just don’t have the energy (its mostly quite early in the morning). As I have lately been aiming to live mindfully, enjoy the moment more and always think positive thoughts wherever it is humanly possible to do so, I’m finding this quite challenging. The weather isn’t helping.

So what do you do to stop yourself from having all your good karma zapped into oblivion? Answers on a postcard [or there’s also a thing called a comment thread – see below ;-)]

Linking to PoCoLo over at Verily Victoria Vocalises:

Post Comment Love

Buying time…

time-precious-commodityIf you could have the choice between time and money which would you choose? I’m genuinely interested to know if people without children would go for money because its not until you have children that you realise that time is actually the most valuable resource in the world and, as the song goes, you only need the light when its burning low, only miss the sun when it starts to snow…and ‘spare’ time when you realise you have just signed up for a mammoth 24/7 job for X years (add the number yourself depending on subjective opinion)…

So yes, right now I’ve opted to buy some time and I am genuinely thrilled that I will finally have a few precious hours a week to snatch back a little bit of that precious resource in a couple of months time. I have so many thoughts whizzing about in my head about what I want and need to do –  a lot of short term stuff like cleaning and tidying, but also some long term projects too which I should be able to approach in a methodical way once I know that I have a specific chunk of time in which to work. The most important thing to remember (and place to start) will be getting organised. Specifically, managing and controlling a budget a lot better than I do right now as I will have less money to work with. But also planning to plan if you see what I mean – for example I need to be organised about how I approach present buying throughout the year but in order to do so I need to have a rolling plan in place, I just haven’t had the time to make that plan and therefore the situation remains a haphazard arrangement.

Since reading Time Management for Manic Mums at the beginning of the month I’ve found myself able to act on the ‘think positive’ side of things, but the actual practical steps of striving for a more organised way of living are still alluding me as I have this little voice inside telling me not to start something I can’t finish and I never have the time to finish anything with only a few short evening hours to myself at the best of times.

I have lots of ideas for blog-related projects – or at any rate projects which will be great to feature as blog posts. I am desperate to try my hand at cooking for pleasure – particularly baking. I want to be able to use the lovely new bicycle the hubster got me for my birthday last year and which has since lain dormant in the shed collecting dust. I look forward to being able to visit a few of the many charity shops which my town boasts and browse in peace (I’ve never been interested in spending hundreds of pounds on clothes and often pick up cheap items in places like supermarkets, New Look or H&M but I can imagine that finding a second hand gem for a knock down bargain will be very satisfying!) . I also attempted my first bit of crochet recently but it was late, I was tired and just couldn’t get the hang of the second stage so I intend to find the time to get my head around this too.

I also have a great idea for a linky which I would be excited, if a little nervous, to offer up to my lovely blogging community.

And I have just started wondering about supplementary income and if there is any way I could find something easy and flexible to fit in for a few extra pennies but this one is probably the bottom of the pile right now as there is clearly no real point in buying time just to…make money!

Play = happiness

play for life

As this week’s Theme Game (courtesy of The Reading Residence and Red Peffer) is all around the theme of ‘play’ I’m sure that I’ll be reading lots about the various ways in which children come to this activity: cars, dolls, tea parties; imaginative play; learning through play; game playing; team games; solitary play; softplay; outdoor play; physical play; mind games, wordplay…

And I could tell you about my children’s favourite forms of play, what I think they might have learned on the journey, or the kind of play I would like to encourage more of. But most interesting to me though is something I read on Wikipedia which states that, regardless if play is structured or unstructured both types “promote adaptive behaviours and mental states of happiness”.

And then I’m drawn back to that inevitable ponder on the nature of the urge to procreate and the thoughts that go through our minds when we project our future families into existence. Despite what the carefree, childfree might see as some dumb biological imperative that us brat-hoarders have mindlessly followed (sometimes into what may seem like sleep-deprived oblivion) we did actually make the decision to follow this path for a good reason: because we know, deep inside, that childhood was (or in the case of those less fortunate, should have been) the most amazing, wondrous time of our lives, and the vast majority of it was (or should have been) spent playing in one way or another. And we see that, as adults, we lose our ability to play in the untethered, imaginative and carefree way that children do. And maybe we hope that we can be allowed to recapture some of the magic of childhood through tagging along with our kids for the ride!

And this reminds me that maybe sometimes I need to stop observing and actually get down on the floor with my own rugrats and join in! What have I got lose! Happiness awaits…

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Redpeffer The Theme Game

Milk bottle lids, good deeds – a chain reaction

milk bottle tops

A few months ago my friend and occasional childminder let it be known that there are certain things which she collects to be sent off and used to raise money for charity. These include baby wipe packets and milk bottle tops (the plastic ones). I began putting these things aside and handing her the odd little plastic bag full. Then it occurred to me that I work in an office where about 30 different staff members all bring in their own milk each week (don’t ask me how it came to this – I used to be milk monitor at one time but that all fell by the wayside). So I put out a little tub for anyone to discard their used milk bottle tops in. So easy, no one has to go to any trouble whatsoever as it is just as easy to pop a lid in my tub as it is to lean over and chuck it in the bin.

Then someone asked me what the lids were for and I was pretty vague. All I knew was that my friend was collecting them for charity but I didn’t know which charity. I recently found out that they go towards something called Bumpy’s Fund which supports a little girl who suffers from a rare form of pancreatic cancer and is currently being treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Then someone at work told me to take a look at our organisation’s ‘small ads’ email page where another member of staff was asking if anyone was collecting milk bottle tops. I put out a post advertising that I would happily accept any lids available. This led to me being sent the box full as seen in the picture above.

This all reminds me of my own schooldays collecting the old foil lids for Blue Peter charities and how wasteful we can be in society when something as bin-able as a milk bottle top can be put to such good and inspiring use. I think a lot of us feel a bit uneasy when we throw something like this in the bin – that “surely this could be used for…. something?” thought that goes through your head before the bin slams shut and you walk away to finish off your cup of tea.

And its quite nice to be able to act as a little cog in the wheel of this particular process and nice to know that there is a little girl out there who might benefit from our very humble efforts.

elizabeth bumpy

Blogtastic #WoTW

My word of the week for The Reading Residence #WoTW this week is:

blogtastic

I have managed to publish five posts this week (this one being number 6!) which must be a record for me. I also figured out how to schedule a pre-written post and I joined in with five linkys. I realise that this is a pretty modest achievement compared to some but I’m quite pleased that I managed to find the time given that working part time and looking after the kids when I’m not there fills most of my hours!

Its a really nice feeling to get up some kind of momentum and keep running with it and I’ve finally accepted that not every post has to be lengthy, witty or packed with amazing facts and insights (I can save that for every other post *Anne Robinson style wink*). Sometimes its OK to just post a picture or a nice quote or a recipe.

At the same time it helps to feel like part of the blogging community and know that you actually have readers who are interested in what you have to say (and also provide some pretty fab and interesting reading matter themselves).

So that was my blogtastic week – whether I can keep up the momentum next week… who knows?!

"The

SAHM vs. WM…

sahm

I’ve been thinking alot about this lately, probably because I have found that the blogs I am drawn to (barring that of the lovely Zoe Ashton who I discovered through the WordPress Reader) tend to be written by stay at home mums who manage to do the most amazing craft activities, enviable child-friendly projects, plus managing to organise a massive amount of super ambitious blogging projects and achieve fabulous goals all whilst fitting in the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and bog-standard childcare in the unseen background.

So what I want to know is – this Stay at Home Mum lark – is it the key to having the freedom to do these things? Or is it just the personalities of those who do it well – people who would be pushing themselves to high achievement whatever the situation? Because I can’t see it happening for me primarily because my children demand almost constant attention. I might get an hour or two once or twice a week when JJ is at pre-school and EJ is napping, but that doesn’t seem like enough…

I work part-time and this is always the way I wanted it to be. It means I get glimpses into both worlds but there is never any real ‘down’ time. I enjoy being in the workplace for the most part and I do believe it brings some balance to my life – I rarely feel that experience of boredom – there is always somewhere I have to be and its not always the same place! I don’t feel like I am stuck in the rat race the way I once was – commuting to and from the same place five days a week. And yet I have nothing to show the outside world for anything work-related. I spent five hours at work today on one task and its not a creative thing that I do but it involves making a lot of decisions which impact on many people’s lives.

Still I can’t help but crave some creative outlet and writing this blog is helping me to achieve that. Now if I just had time to create something beautiful to photograph and display I’d be a happy woman!

Stay at Home Mummy bloggers – please let me know your thoughts on this – do you feel you have more time to do your own thing (as well as your Mummy thing) than you would have if you worked? Or are you just a high achiever and feel like the job’s not done unless you can think of it almost as a work-based project which is to be held up and measured on the scale of perfection (or maybe ‘brilliance in blogging’)?

Linking to PoCoLo at Vevivos.

Post Comment Love

New brother!

IMG_0458

Looking at the photo above I’m reminded of the day when JJ went from being an only child (at almost three years of age) to a big brother. He seemed to take it in his stride and never seemed jealous or tried to hurt EJ, and yet at the same time his behaviour went completely haywire – he became an extremely fussy eater, had some horrendous tantrums and began pushing the boundaries further and further.

Fortunately things settled down in the end and now, 18 months later, they play together, JJ refers to EJ as his best friend and delights in being the first to wake his brother and say Good Morning EJ!

When you have a newborn second child and find your family once again renewed  its so difficult to project into the future and imagine what kind of bond and relationship your children will have with one another. And now, even though EJ is not a new baby any more, the situation is still new and renewing all the time as these two little boys discover and inspire each other’s developing personalities.

This post is inspired by The Theme Game week 3 on the topic “New” as developed by The Reading Residence and Red Peffer.

The Reading Residence

Toffee Apple Muffins #TastyTuesdays #Recipe of the week

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Before my 18 month old, EJ, was born in July 2012 I had a window of opportunity to do a bit of baking at a time when my then two year old was still taking lunchtime naps. I knew that I wanted to do something quick and easy and quickly discovered that muffins would be ideal for the purpose. I tried out several different kinds at the time but I think these toffee apple ones were my favourites. I served them up as a dessert at a barbeque (I know most people think Barbeque = Meat but my philosophy is, where there’s a main meal [of any kind] there should always be some sort of dessert too!). They went down very well!

I also took some of these in for my work colleagues on another occasion and lets just say there weren’t any left over!

350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground mixed spice
240g golden caster sugar
2-3 dessert apples peeled, cored and finely chopped
3 large eggs, beaten
120ml vegetable oil
100 ml milk
150g soft toffees, chopped (I used Sainsburys Mini fudge chunks from the bakery aisle which were perfect)

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases. Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the dry ingredients.

2 Add the chopped apples, eggs, oil and milk in the middle of the well, and fold the mixture together with a large metal spoon, using as few strokes as possible. Don’t worry if the mixture is lumpy, the trick behind the lightest muffins is not to overwork the batter. At this point I also stir through a decent amount of the fudge pieces.

3 Fill the paper cases with the mixture, then sprinkle over the some more fudge pieces for decoration. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins are well risen and golden.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Link up your recipe of the week