Word of the Week: Inconsistent

inconsistent

In the last week and a half I have had the opportunity to meet up with two lovely new friends I’ve made through blogging – Elfa from Californian Mum in London (who invited me along to a fab beauty promo event at John Lewis) and Hannah from First Time Mummy who lives ten minutes from me and invited me over for tea and a chat. Talking to other bloggers has made me realise that I’m ready to stretch myself a bit more – I’m ready to go self-hosted, make a bit more of an effort with promotion and appearance (which is not to say that I’m not still a little bit in love with the Wizard of Oz header that I designed and Helen from Ellie Illustrates created months and months ago now), and potentially take on a few review gigs.

The problem I have right now, though, is time. Just as I’m thinking all these thoughts, I find myself in a position which, for reasons I can’t really go into, the time to blog is just not there. And by ‘blog’ I mean not just write, but have the headspace to get inspired.

I’m also starting to wonder if the things I choose to blog about aren’t just a bit too eclectic. On the one hand I love to attempt light-hearted, amusing posts with a soupçon of wit; on the other hand I yearn for the opportunity to test my writing skills with – well, not exactly hard-hitting journalism, but something a little bit more meaningful which might, some day allow me to cross the divide between amateur and professional writer.

At the same time I take note that the blogs which seem to remain consistently popular do tend to have a niche and stick to it (Eeh Bah Mum for example – although she does occasionally branch into recipe posts; and Mummy Daddy Me who focuses on the beautiful photo story of her little family and sticks with straight up, consistent musings of a wife and mum).

On the other hand, within a week I have swung from a ‘funny’ (silly) post about my love/hate relationship with Cbeebies (which, by the way, I had great fun writing) and an examination of what ‘feminism’ means in 2014. I might also throw in a recipe or a photo-post.

As a personal blogger this is no biggie, you can write what you want, when you want, but the second you begin to think of your blog as a ‘brand’ it feels as though you need to pick an audience and stick to it or risk alienating one reader or another at any given moment. I’d love to know other peoples’ thoughts on this…

 

The Reading Residence

Word of the week: unsettled

Unsettled

It’s been JJ’s second full week at big school. He seems to be taking it in his stride but just at the point where you think a new routine is bedding in, it seems that the dust is once again un-settling as tiredness creeps in. What started off as a pretty chaotic madcap pre-bed ‘routine’ has rapidly descended into the ninth circle of hell as JJ not only encourages his little brother to ignore me and defy my every wish but also seems to be possessed by the devil a little himself, kicking, screaming and seeming to relish this new found naughtiness.

This has not been helped by the fact that their father has been working late shifts and I’ve been flying solo, although the threat of ‘telling Daddy’ has been enough to kickstart the first hints of obedience. As always, once EJ is in his cot, JJ’s defiant behaviour suddenly ebbs away as quickly as it washed in. Last night he even turned to me and said, ‘sorry for being naughty earlier Mummy’ and then ‘are you sorry too?’ to which I replied ‘yes, I’m sorry for getting cross’ and that was enough.

In the meantime EJ’s nice settled routine of going down to bed like a little lamb is also a bit off the rails as he has begun climbing out of his cot and then repeatedly climbing out every time he is deposited back in, screaming at the stair gate demanding to be released. My policy is always to ignore this kind of thing. I’ll only put him back twice – I’m not playing that game! If they have to cry themselves up into a fury then that’s what happens. It happened with JJ for a couple of nights when the gate first went up too. This time it’s different though because, whilst I studiously ignore the screaming and get on with my chores (we’re talking maybe 15 minutes here – and always with the intention of going back to soothe, comfort and reassess once the mood has changed from defiant to just plain tired and upset), JJ can’t in good conscience let EJ sit and stew, preferring to talk to him calmly and kindly through the gate which is actually really sweet and, last night at any rate, left EJ a lot more docile, just wishing for some milk before allowing me to put him back to bed once and for all.

I have to say though, every evening I get more and more on edge in the run up to 6pm when I know I will be chewed up into a mangled shadow of my former self before being spat back out at 7, grasping desperately for the G&T!

As far as the transition into autumn routine goes though, it’s starting to come together. The madness of party planning is over thanks to two birthdays that bookend the holiday period and I’ve actually taken my foot off the pedal and relaxed a bit, even treating myself to a small shopping spree, before I begin to formulate my master plan for the run up to Christmas. This breather has left me with the space to think about me again, as selfish as that might sound. I guess the summer period is always going to be a time filled with wall to wall kidstuff, but once term kicks in and they are back in the capable hands of their educators, it seems like the right time to start thinking about personal goals and dreams outside of motherhood.

So, whilst certain events of the past week have been very unsettling, I look forward to shaking myself out of whatever comfortable furrow life seems to have settled into lately and come a bit more alive with a challenge more demanding than just baking a cake or joining a linky. Watch this space…

 

The Reading Residence

Word of the week: Unplanned

pause

After recent weeks of hyper planning for birthday parties and JJ’s first week at school, uniform and wrapping and baking, this last week I have let it go a bit. On my day off I did my cleaning but I didn’t push myself to cook something new or tick anything off any particular list. When I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands yesterday I didn’t try and cram in a hundred and one jobs or finish my book or start a new project. I did a little bit of catch up blogging (the wireless connection had been down the night before), read some of my book and had a cup of tea.

It was really quite liberating – I recommend taking the pressure off yourself once in a while. Although I admit that I did feel a bit anxious about time wasted or lost for a while, but I was also feeling bone tired. I think it was a culmination of my few busy weeks and a couple of sleepless nights. Now JJ is settling into his new routine I just feel like we all need to take stock and let the dust settle.

Hopefully I will return to planning and organisation for the coming months with renewed vigour!

Word of the week: Arrrrrgghhhh!

(Said in a Pirate stylee!). Or the word of the week could equally be ‘big’ or ‘school’ or transition as Wednesday was JJ’s first day of Reception class at his new infant school and he loved it!

First day at school!

This has also been a week of ramped up preparations for his *fifth birthday* party which is all happening tomorrow! He asked for a pirate party but his strongest and most insistent desire was that there be a bouncy castle with a slide! I’ve managed to source one with a pirate theme so that should make one little ‘big’ boy very happy!

In the meantime I have:

  • Baked a test chocolate cake (I’m not a very seasoned baker so I wanted to give it a go and it turned out to be the first cake I haven’t incinerated from the bottom third down!). It was then devoured by my work colleagues…Test cake
  • Here’s the topper I made for it:

Pirate cake bunting

 

  • And I tried my hand at some Pirate marshmallow pops (soooooooo much easier than cake pops!!) (but still not easy to do perfectly!)

Pirate marshmallow pops

I have also created a few jazzed up decorative touches to some other bits and bobs – there will be pirate gold, eye patches and ‘pirate punch’ for all!

I’ve put a lot of effort in but I appreciate that it all looks a bit home-made! Oh well, as long as my little boy enjoys himself that’s all that matters.

What word best sums up your week?

 

The Reading Residence

Word of the Week: last-minute

Last-Minute

This week myself and the munchkins were meant to be going up to Suffolk to visit my great friend who we had been meaning to visit back at the beginning of June but had to postpone due to the untimely onset of chicken pox. Unfortunately a number of factors came together this week which meant that it would be impractical to visit once again and so I found myself cancelling two days of annual leave at work at the last minute and scratching my head over what to do instead on Monday and Tuesday (when our childminders would be on holiday). Fortuitously, my sister in law and nephews were in the area, having returned from their home of five years in Germany to move into a permanent home down in Wiltshire today.

My eldest nephew is ten – five years older than JJ, but the younger is just a couple of months older than EJ at two and it was our first proper chance to get them together now that they have flourished into little people in their own right and not just babies any more.

On Sunday we invited them all round to our house for a barbeque which went well until all four children piled onto our trampoline and we only realised that the zip on the safety net was undone when we heard a little head hitting the ground below! Cue the swiftest end to a barbeque ever as all of my in-laws rushed my little newphew to a&e just to be on the safe side! It transpired that he was fine which was a relief!

The following morning myself and my sister in law took the children swimming at the leisure pool, Spectrum, in Guildford and they had great fun on all the slides, before my mother and father in law took us all out for lunch. The second day it had been my (last-minute) plan to take the children to BirdWorld near Farnham, intending to cash in some Tesco Clubcard Vouchers, but hadn’t foreseen the absolutely torrential and relentless rain or the fact that you have to be a bit more organised than me to do the Clubcard thing as they send them through the post. In the end we spent the day hanging out with the family at the in-laws house with a brief foray to a local playground and Sainsburys for supplies. Not the most exciting day in the world but the main thing was that the children got to spend some quality time together and I appreciated the chance to get to know my sister in law a bit better – busy lives and far flung locations have meant that we haven’t spent much time together at all in recent years.

The second part of my week has seen a last minute delivery of my new iPhone 5c! It’s my first ever Apple product and I’m still getting to grips with it and trying to figure out how to do various things but I’ve got high hopes for what can be achieved and so excited to finally be able to get an Instagram profile and get more active on Twitter after two years stuck with an older generation Nokia Lumia Windows phone which allowed for nothing much more than email, web browsing and the usual music, phonecalls and texts.

Everything really has felt so unorganised in recent weeks, with schedules and meal plans and play dates all just thrown together randomly. I’m hoping that next week, with the advent of JJ’s first (half) week at big school and the return of our childminders things will start getting back to normal and I can get on top of a few neglected tasks.

Have a great weekend WOTWers X

Word of the Week: Non-Stop!!

Non-stop

Anyone who read my Week so far… post on Tuesday will know that I was on track for a busy one! What with outings and sightseeing and shopping it was a rest to go back to work on Wednesday! As I mentioned before the hubster has the week off so he is getting more than his share of munchkin time and as I write this they are currently somewhere down in the New Forest for the day with my father in law and the girl. We were thinking of taking them down to Brighton for the day on Friday but I don’t think the hubster is up to another long car journey so we’ll probably stay local and let them recuperate!

My thoughts have been going non-stop lately too. It has been very difficult to maintain the usual routines including the kind of pattern of blogging I’ve fallen into. I find that as soon as I let one thing go I’m drifting a bit rootlessly, making the odd stab at normality but still watching others thrive and go from strength to strength while I feel like I’ve completely lost my focus and my objective. I want to be in the thick of the blogging community but it’s hard to do when something external comes along to burst your bubble.

Some dust needs to settle in my life right now. Maybe everything will always feel outside of the norm at this time of year because of the school holidays too. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take me too long to feel like I’m back on the bus and not just clinging onto the side as it whizzes along!

 

The Reading Residence

Word of the Week: After (and Before…)

If I was writing this post on Monday I might have been tempted to use the word ‘anti-climax’. After a few weeks of frenetic planning and organisation for EJ’s circus themed birthday party (don’t ask me why, he’s unlikely to remember any of it!), and then the party itself on Sunday, it feels like every moment of my spare time has been taken up with thoughts of timings and food choices and entertainment options. Come Monday I was left feeling a little deflated (along with about 20 shrivelled balloons!). Monday afternoon I was alone with both boys with nothing planned and the weather was a bit iffy. I felt a bit bored and fidgety. I allowed JJ to help his brother open up all the presents he’d received at his party which were a great success but left me feeling slightly worried about the knock-on toy clutter effect. I had already neglected any proper cleaning and tidying for at least a week, prioritising party stuff, and something needed to be done.

Come Tuesday I had the opportunity I needed to get to grips with the situation. With no appointments or get-togethers arranged and the children both out at our childminder’s I had the perfect opportunity to do some sorting.

It’s been a long time since I really looked through the toy boxes to sort the wheat from the chaff and as a consequence new things were building up on the floor and other surfaces as there was no room to store them. I set to work sorting it all into three piles: chuckers, keepers and charity/ebay, getting rid of a huge amount of stuff and a big bag of rubbish. Now we have room to store most of the toys that normally just lie around the house and more, because I bought these cute storage boxes from Argos to create some additional space.

animal toy storage boxes
Now I just need to block out a day to deal with the gathering pile of bags filled with toys and clothes that, whilst out of our living space, are still in our house.

 

Looking forward, I have begun to obsess over JJ’s upcoming pirate party (well it’s only a short five weeks away!). I have booked a hall and a bouncy castle and already know that I’ll use lunch boxes instead of doing a full spread. I know what I want to go in the boxes, what will go in the party bags, how I’m going to decorate the food table (with extras like a jar of gold coins and a cake stand full of pirate cupcakes) and what games will be best (I think I’m going to have to make time to sort a pass the parcel this time – it seems like the done thing!). I really enjoyed making the clown cake pops for EJ’s party but to be honest it is quite a lot of faff, so I’ve decided that JJ’s party will have marshmallow pops instead – that means there’ll be no cake baking, cooling, moulding and freezing involved! I’ve also discovered some handy baker’s tools to make the decoration so much easier so I’m looking forward to that!

Tomorrow we are off to Devon for a week with my family which I’m also really looking forward to! We will be staying in Torquay and hopefully have some nice days out and a few trips to the beach! It will probably be a blog-free week for me this time round as I haven’t had the chance to line up any scheduled posts and I won’t have the laptop with me. I’m going to be more chilled about it though – I think it will be great to get away from everything – even the constant stream of writing and responding, which, whilst lovely, is not a recipe for relaxing and switching off and everyone needs to power down and switch off for a bit every once in a while.

This time next week it will be my own birthday! Unfortunately no one has any great celebrations planned for me and as usual I haven’t got round to planning anything for myself. Sometimes you just lose yourself in this parenting thing don’t you?

Have a great weekend WOTWers!

 

Word of the week: New

new!

I do like to wait till June to make New Year’s Resolutions! To be fair though, isn’t it much easier to do the whole diet/exercise thing in summer than the middle of winter? Anyone who has been following my blog this week will already know that I decided to act on the discovery last week that I weigh the same as my dad and (on occasion) could pass for someone who’s just gone in for their 20 week scan.

I’ve been rocking the smoothies/juices and attempting to greatly reduce the carbs. I’ve also been out on my new bike (which I’ve had since last August!!). It is a good feeling to act on a little self improvement – I finally feel that, with EJ coming up to two, I am approaching a new sense of self (and self-respect!).

At the same time we are thinking of renewing the cycle of springiness (?) by purchasing a trampoline for the boys to enjoy this summer (and hopefully a few more to come too!). Four years ago our neighbour erected one right next to our fence for his four year old to annoy the hell out of us amuse us with his delightful questions, now JJ is four and its payback time 🙂 Also, if a trampoline amuses JJ half as much as it did our next door neighbour’s son then I might even get a bit of peace and quiet for five minutes!

I’ve suddenly become obsessed with preserving jars and spent about 3 hours just looking at them on Pinterest the other day before trawling through Amazon for the best deal. This *in no way* indicates that I am about to start preserving things though! I ended up buying four no-brand 500ml jam jars instead of either Kilner or Mason as they were so much cheaper. It’s amazing what versatile little things they are: you can make them into everything from a snow globe to a cocktail glass, a soap dispenser or a beautiful painted vase. So far I have just used mine as glasses to drink my smoothie concoctions out of – there is something very rustic and kind of cool about using them as glasses and they always look fab in photos with a funky straw! I also bought some mini glass milk bottles in an old fashioned metal bottle basket. I haven’t received these yet but I know they will look super cute as glasses for the kids with straws as I’ve seen them in photos on the beautiful blog Le Coin de Mel!
Next up: the Kilner candle holder and the jam jar mojito for that summer barbeque I’m longing for!

 

The Reading Residence

Word of the week… Family

We are family!

I am lucky enough to have seen a lot of my family during the course of the past week which is slightly out of the ordinay in a couple of ways. For a start the hubster has been doing a lot of overtime at the weekends since the beginning of the year. The flooding ensured that our organisation had an extended budget for helping with both rescue and long-term recovery, and the hubster has taken advantage of this where possible. It hasn’t left much time for us to interact as a family together though and it has meant that many limited opportunities to see the Girl have been overlooked.

Last Saturday though, we finally had a chance to spend some time together and she came with us as we all attended the birthday party of a friend’s three year old daughter. The kids had fun playing in the garden despite slightly cold windy weather! Then on Bank Holiday Monday we picked the girl up again on our way over to my parents house for a big family lunch with my sister’s family too. There were eleven of us around the dinner table and I love the buzz when everyone is talking and laughing and  passing the various bowls of goodies that my wonderful mum has cooked for us all to enjoy.

On Tuesday I got to see my lovely cousin who I haven’t seen since her wedding last June, despite only living about ten miles away. She is 35 weeks pregnant and we had planned to have a nice girly lunch or coffee on my day off but unfortunately she picked one of only a handful of days during the year that I have the kids with me on a Tuesday (our childminder was on her hols!). My cousin gamely agreed to meet us at a local leisure centre with a cafe and softplay. I really hope I didn’t fill her with dread at the impending chaos that will inevitably be motherhood!

My Mum came over on Wednesday as she always does, to take over child care while I went back to work. She had rung me the day before to tell me that she had decided that, no matter the weather (and the forecast wasn’t good!) she would take them to Alice Holt Forest where they could play, lunch in the cafe and explore the woodland trails. I left out the all in one waterproof suits she had bought them from Boots a few weeks ago and their wellies. By all accounts they had a whale of a time and I am totally inspired to get them out every day I’m with them over the summer now as the fresh air and exercise noticeably improved moods, appetites and behaviour!

This weekend we lose the hubster again as he takes off to the Lake District to hike through the night and light a beacon at dawn on one of the many peaks (as you do!). In the meantime I look forward to the day when we can all take off for a hike together as a family…

 

The Reading Residence

Word of the week:

Transitions

Just lately I have been getting woken up by crying somewhere in the region of my feet at least an hour earlier than my brain and eyes are willing to cooperate. I have tried all the usual pacifications with EJ, whose cot has sat at the foot of my bed since he was born 22 months ago. This pattern has not happened since he gave up his early morning bottle of formula a couple of months ago and I’m not willing to go back to that, so I’ve been leaving the room – my presence seems to inflame the situation. I have tried getting extra sleep on the sofa, the sofa cushions alone and then just a duvet on the floor downstairs. None of this has been satisfactory. Then I knew it was time; time to do what I’d been putting off for months – move EJ out of my room and into JJ’s room.

While JJ was at pre-school and EJ with his childminder on Tuesday I broke out the screwdriver and took the side off the cot ready for transfer. Next I got myself trapped in a corner on the landing and realised I should have taken the base off too and then followed a dangerous game of attempting to escape this ridiculous situation whilst not killing myself by toppling down the steep flight of stairs the cot was dangling above.

Eventually I got everything in place after a huge tidy up, clothes sort and Hoover operation. To make the room a little more inviting I finally dusted off the pretty bunting I sourced some time ago to compliment the aqua of the walls (not too girly – but come on, I never asked for two boys and there have to be some concessions to what *I* want – mwah ha ha!). Originally I had put it up using sellotape and blue tack. Not my finest hour in home decorations it has to be said. This time I brought out the big guns – a hammer and tacks! Hopefully it’ll actually stay up for longer than five minutes this time…

Bunting for Boys!

Then it was just a waiting game to see reactions, gauge emotions, and overcome any issues. Night one – EJ would NOT settle – I think it was all just too exciting. JJ got upset because he was tired and had a lively toddler foisted upon him through no fault of his own. I lay on the floor for 45 minutes – eventually he fell asleep and EJ calmed down. EJ awoke crying in the morning (I had already left for work) and JJ tried his best to help out by climbing in the cot and attempting to read a story (even though he can’t actually read yet). Bless.

Night two – EJ down (completely knackered funnily enough) whilst JJ stayed downstairs for a bit. EJ was fast asleep and JJ then demanded I wake him up so he could say goodnight! I managed to get him to compromise by kissing the sleeping munchkin. Then JJ wanted to watch his DVD on full volume. I managed to get him to use my headphones. Eventually JJ was ready to sleep but concerned about what might happen in the morning. I promised him I would leave the stair gate open so he would have access to get help or just get away if he felt stressed in the morning. I was assured that there was no crying in the morning and the boys were happily watching a Chuggington DVD together in the cot. Success!! Long may it last!

Some snaps of the room:

The other transitional aspect to the week was the fact that I had my first parents’induction evening at JJ’s school on Wednesday evening. We were given practical information about gaining entry to the school, uniforms etc, but we were also given quite a detailed run through of the types of activity and learning that we could expect our children to partake in come September. I have to say that everything I saw and heard made me feel kind of excited for JJ and happy about our choice of school. I just hope that he feels the same way when the time comes to make that leap to ‘big’ school.

 

The Reading Residence