Monday, November 28, 2011

Taking a look at our lives

So, I didn't post every day.

On Tuesday, having spent Friday at home getting read for DD's visit, the weekend home as he was here, and Monday home as it was foggy and our lunch date cancelled, both BB and I were slightly crazy with cabin fever.

Every day when BB and I come down stairs, I open the curtains and we greet the day. I am always careful not to express any value judgements at the weather, and use the same voice to greet the rain as I do the sun, but on Tuesday I couldn't manage this. Rain, rain - hideous, horrible, miserable, grumpy, isolating rain! No walks for us then. No fresh air, no exercise, no chance to see something different! And here was me considering the idea of working from home. We obviously need to be sure we are not home too much.

About 20 miles away from here there is a large indoor shopping centre, with some lovely Christmas lights up, you can walk in the dry, drink coffee... We called up Grandma and Gramps and set off for our little outing.

On Wednesday a mini disatser occurred - BB popped the poppers on his hammock! I have known for a while now that his time in it was coming to an end as he is getting too big, and has almost worked out how to grab the sides and pull himself up. This means he needs a new place to have day time naps. He has a cot, a place that he goes to several times daily, afer every nappy change for example as it is a safe place to plonk him while I wash my hands, find clean clothes etc. However, I have been trying to get him to sleep in there for a couple of weeks now, but to no avail. So since wednesday we have been searching for a new sleep solution. We didn't find it yet.

We did a couple of long journeys in the car at the weekend and they were great - an hour and half sleep each day, but still we have no solution for the house. We have tried the cot again, my bed, where he sleeps at night, his bouncer, a cosy little corner with his blanket and a cuddly toy on the sofa, but no. I nurse him to sleep but as soon as I put him down he wakes. I have carried him around in the sling but he is now way too curious about all the things I am doing to sleep.

No sleep means a grumpy baby who needs constant attention. Therefore I have done even less than usual. Trying to package up and send the few clothes that I sold on ebay was a huge challenge. Today I have been tryng to research something on the internet for a friend which was equally difficult. Hopefully we'll get a breakthrough soon. I am sitting on the bed typing this and he is laying next to me. He keeps dropping off. I am hoping he learns to put himself to sleep soon.

These things combined have made me realise that working from home will be hard for two reasons. One, we may go mad, and two, I just don't have the time!

P.S. It took 4 days to write this!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Your age is a danger to your health!

Somewhat ironically after blogging yesterday about my grey hair reversing, I received a letter this morning from my GP. It goes something like this...

Dear Me!
We would like to invite you for a HEALTH CHECK. 
This is beacuse you are now in an AGE RANGE that puts you at INCREASED RISK of VASCULAR DISEASE
You can find out about services that SUPPORT YOU in your CHANGE FOR LIFE...
Once we have your results back we will calculate your RISK SCORE
Actions will include a discussion of your lifestyle and appropriate TREATMENT


I officially feel old!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grey Hair Reversal

So, it's now more than 6 weeks since I had my hair dyed, yet on looking in the mirror I see that the usual grey line at the roots is not there... there are some greys of course, but nowhere near as many as usual. I asked my sister to check, just in case (since turning 40 a couple of weeks ago) my eyesight is failing me. She agreed - considerably less grey!

What is going on?

Of course - I googled it!

Can grey hair turn be reversed?

It seems that it can be. Stopping smoking and drinking, taking folic acid (since before I was pregnant), and brewers yeast (in the lactation cookies I ate in BB's early days) are apparently all things that can help reverse grey hair!

Maybe I wont be the white haired mum at the school gate after all!

A Working Experiment

So, BB is 4 months old now and it's time I started thinking about going back to work...

Do I want to?

Well, maybe, a little bit. It could be nice to have some stimulation and challenges other than those of keeping on top of the washing, cleaning, cooking, playtime and nappies. But at the same time I don't want to miss out on any time with my little guy. I had a baby because I wanted to be a mum - not because I wanted someone else to take care of him. Plus, I have spoken to a couple of childminders - nice and well meaning I have no doubt, but they do have different ideas to me...

There's also the guilt. I'd feel guilty if I worked. Unfortunately this is a double edged sword as I would also feel guilty if I didn't. Despite paying in to the UK benefit system, even during the 10 years I lived overseas, it somehow feels wrong to live off the state. Then at the same time the logical part of my brain says that it is OK - it wont be forever, just while BB is little. Once he starts school I am determined that I will model being a working mum, but in the meantime, being a mum who is at home caring for her little one is more important to me.

So what are my options? Firstly I have been offered 0.4 of a full time role at my old work until July only. Not my old job, but a job at least. They did point out that this 0.4 of full time did not mean 2 days though - it could even be spread over 5 days. I think the truth is that they don't really want me back so they are making the offer unattractive. Reality is that the funding for my role disappeared in the government 'austerity measures' . They have failed to return my calls about it since June! Do I want to work there in these circumstances? Possibly not! But I did enjoy my work before, and I had some nice colleagues, I could talk about stuff other than poop and puke! If I did this job, by the time I paid childcare and lost some benefits, I would be slightly worse off than if I didn't work at all!

Another alternative would be to work from home doing a similar thing (helping year 11 students get their maths GCSE). I could have a babysitter take care of Arthur at home and students could come here. In reality though, between school finishing and then getting Arthur's tea and bath time, I could probably only see one student a day. If I did this I would be WORSE off.

So, as trying to work out how I feel about this wasn't helping me to decide - how about a more logical, practical, financial look at the situation.

In summary it looks like this

A - do no work
B - A little work (tutoring from home)
C - A little more work (go back to my old work place)
? - If only I knew what this was!

It seems that neither B nor C make financial or practical sense. There would be nothing financially gained for sacrificing my time, away from BB. So, I either do nothing, or I have to do MORE work or different, more FRUITFUL work to be better off.

In reality I don't think more work is a good option. Already it is a challenge to fit everything in, by everything that is all the household chores, plus a weekly swim class for BB, a post natal pilates class for me whilst BB enjoys a lovely creche, a visit to nana, and we try to squeeze in some form of mum and baby meet up once a week. Just this week we missed the pilates as we had to get ready for DD to come for the weekend. More work would mean missing more things, not good for BB (or me for that matter).

So, can I work smarter? Is there something else I could do? An internet business perhaps, that I do in the free moments, while BB plays or sleeps. I am exploring ideas... and I welcome yours!!!

Meantime, I am going to try and find out just how much time I have. Hence the "Working Experiment". I am going to see how much I could achieve online in a week. I am aiming for at least one blog post a day, and some items sold on ebay, and my business ideas written up, and some research done on importing goods from Oz, selling herbal remedies, online selling, drop shipping, how to make money on ebay...

We'll see how we go.

To start with, this post was started about 4 and a half hours ago, but I have fed, played with and bathed BB in that time too... I didn't manage to feed myself properly thought - I just munched on cheese and bickies - so off to get some real food!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No Cook Coffee Cake

Here is the recipe as it is in mum's book. I doubled it the last time I made it (my 40th Birthday) as it just sounded too small. Perhaps this is why we are all fatter than we used to be!


75g butter
75g caster sugar
40g cocoa
50g flakes almonds
1 egg
250 ml strong black coffee
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp milk
about 8 trifle sponges
300ml double cream


Cream butter and sugar, beat in cocoa, nuts, egg and 1 tbsp coffee
Line base of a 1lb loaf tine with grease proof paper
Mix together the rest of the coffee with the sherry and milk
Dip 3 trifle sponges and place in base of tin
Top with the creamed mixture
Dip and place another layer of sponges on top and then press down
Chill overnight
Turn out and coat with whipped fresh cream and decorate with whatever you choose (eg almonds, cherries, chocolate buttons

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our trip in the train with a pram

Yesterday we were meeting friends for lunch in the next town - just one stop away on the train. Parking at our destination is always tricky, with most places giving you just 2 hours - not long enough for a lunch with 5 mums and 5 babies I can assure you!

So, to ease the parking worries, to give me a little lard burning activity walking to and from the station, because I have a belief that we should all try and use public transport if it is available, and so to check out the ease of using public transport with a pram for future reference, we thought we's give the train a try.

As there is a limit to the amount of time that BB will stay in the pram without being fed, and also because we had to call in to the post office to collect a parcel, I made the decision to take the car to the station at this end. Unfortunately all the free parking near the station was full. Parking was £2.30, but the machine didn't give change, so for us it was £2.50.

The ticket office is on the opposite side of the tracks to the platform we needed. There is no underpass or access to the other side for wheelchairs or prams. You have to exit the station, walk out through the car parks to the road, go over the level crossing and then back in through the car parks on the other side. So we got our ticket first (£8.10), and headed out for our hike around to the other side.

We made it, but not in time for the train. I had anticipated that this could happen - there was another in half an hour that would still get us there on time. I needed the loo! Guess where? Yes, you are right, on the opposite platform! I didn't bother going on the hike again (we may have missed the next train if we did) but opted for some pelvic floor practice instead. Also - I don't think there is a large loo or one with disabled access anyway, and I was not prepared to leave BB outside on the platform!

Our train came and some nice young women allowed us to get on first. BB slept for most of the way and didn't make a murmer. After just 15 mins our destination was in sight. But we were at a standstill - waiting for a platform apparently.

After 25 mins, our 18 minute journey was complete - we had arrived. Through the underpass and out to the other side where there is a disabled loo. Locked. You need a special key. Which I don't have.

So, we head to a nearby supermarket. Relief at last. I also notice that their car park offers free parking for 3 hours! 

We then walk up the hill into town and have a fabulous lunch with the mummies and babies - none of whom were crazy enough to arrive by train. Within 3 hours we are back in the loo at the afore mentioned supermarket. I buy some crumpets and a newspaper to show my gratitude for their facilities and check the car parking terms once more before we head back to the station.

BB cries inconsolably for half of the journey but eventually he stops and enjoys the ride, gazing with awe out of the window as the world moves by. We reach our destination and as we are leaving the train we are offered help for the first time - by an old man with a walking stick!!! I guess he knows how it is.

So in summary:

To go in the car 
Cost £6.00 approx in fuel, free parking, wear and tear on car not accounted for, time taken for journey, approx 30 mins each way on average.

To go by train
Cost £8.10 for the fare, £2.50 for parking (could be reduced to £2.30 if I had the right change or nothing if we were able to walk from this end too - maybe when BB is a bit older that could work, or in summer when it's not too cold to feed al fresco). Average time taken for journey, including delays, 1 hour and ten minutes (would increase by half an hour if we walked from this end).

The car is the easiest, the cheapest, and the most convenient. BB's cries don't affect the general public - in reality he would have slept in the car. The train is great, but sadly for novelty and not convenience. We'll do it again, but not in a hurry. On a plus, I do know of a 3 hour car park...

P.S. I tried to find an image of a pram and a train to accompany this post... I could only find 2, both Australian, somehow it didn't seem right to use them!