Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Grrrr! - And we've gotta get out of this place

Apologies in advance for this not fitting the Blissful theme, but I have to get this out. I am supposed to be writing an article for a magazine but my head just isn't there. Perhaps if I offload its contents on my blog, I will be able get on with what I am supposed to be doing.

I am crying. I have just dropped BB off at nursery. He was sad. He didn't make a fuss, or cry, or even protest, he just hugged me extra long, looked at me with a sad face and then walked off ever so slowly. Perhaps he has picked up on the fact that I am struggling to be blissful right now. He has said to me a few times over the last few days, be happy mummy.

I am struggling because it is all so god dammed hard. I am working in excess of 30 hours a week at the moment - for nothing it seems. I am just trapped in the system. Last financial year I made £608. This year is looking to be about the same. What am I doing here in this miserable country with no future. It's madness. On top of that I am sick. Again.

I have worked hard to try and like it. I have made some good friends, established new networks, looked for new places to live, and new work opportunities. I have retrained 3 times since I have been back. I have enjoyed lots of things too.

But I keep finding myself singing "We've Gotta get out of this Place". The 5 year anniversary has hit me hard. I am scared that we are going to be stuck here forever. I can't let that happen. I feel stupid because I worked so damn hard to get out of this country once before, and now I am stuck here again.  What an idiot! I wish I liked it here. I wish it felt like there was a future for us in the UK. I wish I trusted in the education system to nurture my child and not beat out all of his creativity, wonder and enthusiasm. I wish there was a sense of community. I wish people (including me now) could be more positive. I wish there was social mobility, optimism and opportunities. I wish it wasn't all so divorced from reality and that real things mattered more than trivial shite about some celebrity. I wish I didn't have to put my child in nursery just so that I could run on a treadmill for what has worked out to be about 25p an hour.

We could just go. I can sell up and go back to Oz. If I didn't have BB that's without a doubt what I would do. Though if I hadn't planned to have BB I would never have come home in the first place. I don't regret it in that sense, and its great that he knows my parents and sisters. Its great that DD visits so frequently. Those things make it hard to leave.

I am scared too - can I afford to live there now? The house prices have gone up the £ has gone down. I really I would like to keep a home here so that I could come back if required to take care of my parents or anything like that,  but reality is that I absolutely can't afford to do that. If it was just me I could take a risk, buy a one way ticket and get any old job. Its not just me though. I do want to do the best for my child, and also for me. Is it selfish that I think that means taking him away from his family?

I need to get a plan together soon. I have to be able to see the way out.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Healthy fruit and nut flap jack

DD has been here for the weekend. He and BB worked together to create this great new recipe which we thought we'd share

It's quick and easy and has no refined sugar, no flour and no eggs.  The nuts could be be taken out for those with allergies too. 

To make them a little more indulgent, a couple of choc chips could be added (but don't  tell anyone).

First, mash 2 medium bananas
Then add a cup and half of rolled oats

Add 1/4 cup of chopped fried fruit (we used raisins and cranberries).

Add 1/4 cup of chopped nuts (we used pistachio, macadamia and cashews)..

Mix together making sure to mix the banana completely through

 Press into a tray and bake at 180C for 25 mins

Cut into squares and allow to cool.
 Alternatively, you could make them into rounds but bake them for a shorter time.

New App to ward off Post Olympic Winter Blues

Have you been inspired by the winter olympics? Wishing you could go skiing instead of off to work this morning? Well, maybe you could do both!

A new app has just been released which enables you to find remote working spaces and offices near the ski fields, ice rink or curling sheet, allowing you to do your day job and then enjoy and afternoon skiing or skating.

The app, which will be hosted at Olympic Hangovers, brings together locations of remote working spaces and local ski and skate venues. Users will also be able to enter other locations that they know of, so as to contribute to the wealth of information that allows you to find places around the world to enjoy your winter sports all year round.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Muddypaws' New Friends - Book Review

Due to the incredibly busy time we have been having, we are just catching up with our January book review. Muddypaws' New Friends arrived several weeks ago. When he first saw it, BB wasn't interested, but as soon as I started reading he sat down next to me. When I finished he said "Read it again Mum!". We have now read it several times!

Ben is Muddypaws' best friend, but when Ben goes to school, Muddypaws has to stay at home. Then one day, Ben takes Muddypaws to school too - puppy school! There he meets two new friends...

It's a lovely story about making new friends and also about keeping you old friends too. Ideal for a toddler or small child who is transitioning between nursery or preschool, or even moving house.

We loved this book and hope you will too.

Muddypaws' New Friends is available at Amazon

Disclaimer - We received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lots of rambles

Time for an update. I feel I have so much to say. This will be my first blog post from my phone. I expect it to be rambling and full of typos. I may edit tomorrow, or I may not!

The week was a challenging one. I have had a cold for a couple of weeks, some days worse than others, many times I thought it had gone, then it came back. Then I just gradually got worse and worse. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights even my bones ached. Just laying in bed was painful. Then I got tonsillitis. Eventually I saw a GP and got antibiotics. The tonsillitis is going but my digestive system is not entirely happy with the antibiotics so I'm still not feeling great. 

It's been interesting though in many ways. BB and I have been pretty much stuck in the house with only each other for company for 4 days straight. I thought he'd go stir crazy with cabin fever, especially as I was far from being the best mum I can be for most of that time. That hasn't happened though. In fact the opposite is true really, he has been great and we have been able to catch up on time together. I was recently on a course for 2 days and then locked in my office  doing assignments for two days when DD came last so we have missed each other a bit lately. I think we're caught up now. He was very caring too and got his doctor kit out several times to make me better. 

I have also been going to bed with him at 7pm for nearly a week as I have been so tired and sick. It seems to have sorted out his sleep. We have been in a phase where he wants to drop his nap, but sometimes fell asleep in the car, after which he couldn't get to sleep at night. Now though we are in a rhythm of being asleep by 7pm and waking up about 7.30 am. It's great! I hope it lasts. 

I think I might stick with the early bed for myself a few nights a week too. I can read, catch up on my social media and blog from my phone if I need. I think I'll be less likely to get distracted and stay up late, and therefor be better rested and more productive in the day - and a better mum! It's worth testing the theory at least.

The week had also been challenging in other ways. On Wednesday, about 10 mins after BB and I got out of the car, a huge ridge tile from the very top of my roof came flying off in the wind, bounced on my car a few times and then landed right next to the drivers door. So the car and the house need some serious repairs, but at least we'd made it safely into the house before it fell. 

I also managed to read the last book for my ToddlerCalm training whilst reclining on the sofa, and so my assignments are now all done. The last book was Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen. It felt a shame to read it whilst I was feeling less than playful, but actually gave me some ideas that I could manage even in that state. We got particularly in to pushing with hands on hands and feet on feet as a bit of a wrestling game. It made BB giggle a lot and allowed him to expend some energy whilst being trapped in the house. 

I am pleased the assignments are done. Now I just have to prepare all my courses and workshops, once that's done I can breathe again. I have definitely been burning the candle at both ends for the last few months, but once it's all set up I think it will mean I have a lot more free, quality time with BB than do now, or did before this all started as I should be aw to earn money during the day whe he is at nursery and not have to do so much when he's here.

The current feeling on the chickens v climbing frame debate is falling in the favour of a climbing frame. I do think that will be better for BB. He loves the outdoors and is constantly climbing on and hanging off everything in the house. I let him do this without any worries at all  as I know he needs to do it, but it would be better if had a purposefully designed place to do it! 

Another reason for the climbing frame is that it will mean the garden becomes more "normal", which means more appealing to someone else who might want to buy or rent our house in the future. Although I decided not to move just yet I'm still not feeling really settled. Putting the chook run back into the garden feels like it is adding to the readiness to up and go if I want to. 

I know the "inclement" weather has a lot to do with it, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about going back to Australia in the last few weeks. It is what I really want deep down. Trouble is my family and DD and PP would be staying here and that would be hard on all of us. But I do really feel that it will mean a better life for BB and I in so many other ways. It's a tough one, though the fact that we managed so well stuck in the house with me as a sick mum, during the terrible storms, gave me confidence that we could survive on Australia by our selves.  I did find myself on the Alice springs steiner school website again today too... 

Which brings me to another thing. School. The closer it gets, the more I think about it, the more I learn about what children need at the age of 4 and the more bullshit that comes out of the mouth of our education minister, the more I don't want BB to go to school here. I know I have been saying that for a long time, but I really mean it even more now. At least not when he has just turned 4 - It's too young! Children of that age need to play! I really need to investigate some alternatives I think. I'm not convinced that I could homeschool and still manage to earn us an income.  Also BB is really sociable so needs interaction of some kind - but not in a classroom doing national curriculum maths! 

Anyway, that was a lot of rambles, I still have more but it's sleep time. Must cherish that. I'm gonna press publish and then probably gaze at this in horror in the morning, but hey ho! 

Here's BB in his dinosaur suit that his auntie sent from "the bodia" (Cambodia) 

Night night! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A few decisions made - more to come

Its been a while since my last personal update. This is partly because I haven't really known what's going on with regard to many things, and also because I have been crazily busy with launching the BabyCalm business, doing the study for ToddlerCalm and still trying to earn us some money in my other work. I think I have made a few decisions though. Somewhere in the back of my head, whilst my mind has been elsewhere, several things have become clear.

We are definitely not moving. I appreciate my house more for looking at others. I have organised things so that for the time beginning at least, I only travel to the city for work one or two days a week. I like what we have here, and staying put is a whole lot cheaper and easier than moving, and my house a whole lot cheaper to run than most because of the investment I have put into it.

I have also decided that I don't want to go down the IVF route. The dilemma of what to do with any spare embryos is one I don't want to face, the process seems like a lot to put myself through, it is expensive and intrusive, and very inconvenient going down to London all the time - in fact, not really workable in my situation with my work and BB.

Something I didn't mention before, because I didn't know how to put it into words, was that I wasn't even really sure I wanted another child at all. This was a complete turn around for me, and I was critical of DD and PP for changing their minds so suddenly before so it seemed even worse for me to admit that I may have done the same. I actually felt after December's AI that perhaps I had acted in haste when I learned that DD had changed his mind back to a yes - did I really want this any more?

In the last few days I have really settled into the idea that I would, in an ideal world, like another child. I have also reached the point where I have been able to look back and see how my mind was working in the previous weeks. When DD mentioned the need to be able to be heard in a court, I worried about losing BB more than I ever worried about anything before. Although DD was able to put my mind at rest quite soon after, I think it has taken me this long to recover from the emotional trauma of those thoughts.  It's also hard to know what you really think deep down, and when your mind is protecting you from your thoughts or possible negative outcomes. I was indeed very confused about it all.

I agreed to go ahead and try again at home, partly because I know that if I don't do it soon it really won't happen, and partly because I noticed I did suddenly have lots of energy when we started talking about things like possible due dates etc, but I still couldn't actually see it happening. The last few days I have been thinking that it just might. That said, I think I am also in a good space if it doesn't, I am happy with what I have, a few more tries and then I think if I don't get pregnant, I will finally be able to put the idea to rest.

I was almost convinced that we were getting chickens, but this week as BB has been hanging from the hand rail and doing push ups on the stair gate, the need for a climbing frame seems more important. I keep meaning to look up the research, but DD assures me that exercising the shoulders is a really important part of a boy's development that he will instinctively do (seems true from my observations), and without channelling that need somewhere constructive it can manifest in throwing and hitting things I'd rather he didn't. We have a couple of months before the garden is really accessible for play anyway - it's just cold and wet at the moment, so I will try and come to a decision before long about chickens v a climbing frame.

Pros and cons of chickens:-

Pros: chickens are great pets, BB loves them, they eat our scraps and create us lovely eggs, I have pen and the chicken hut and the feeders and everything, I even have a stash of corn in my dad's shed, so all we need is chickens, an outlay of about £15-20. They would more than pay for themselves in 6 weeks.  Our own eggs are so much nicer than the ones you buy, and fresher. I like the identity of being a chicken mum, I like having lovely eggs to give to people. Getting more chickens would also be a lot easier short term - no need to rip up the fence, move the plants, re do the garden...

Cons: not really enough space for a climbing frame if we keep them, their pen is really muddy half the year or more, and the only solution I have found that is working in a place similar to mine is to put lots of fine gravel down - that makes it a bit permanent if I change my mind in a year or two and decide a bigger play area would be better - though I suppose could try sand first.  They do take a little work to look after, but only a very little - it is an issue if we go on holiday though. Also if I change my mind about selling, having chickens in the yard might not be a selling point.

Putting it into perspective, I am quite pleased with myself for reaching a decision on the first two issues, and the chicken issue seems quite minor in comparison. Having worked out the other two, I feel confident I will reach a decision on this one soon too... Of course your wisdom is always welcome to help me with that!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Things to do with Harpic - other than clean the loo

Long ago, before I became a mum, my house was always spotless. I was quite minimalist too so cleaning was easy. Better still, when I cleaned, it stayed clean. These days I vacuum at least once a day, and wipe the surfaces countless times. It bothered me for a while that my house wasn't as clean as it used to be before BB was born, but then I realised it was pointless to worry about it. I should just accept it.

I do find having a good clean is rather therapeutic though. My approach over the last year or so is to the daily wipes, sweeps, mops and vacuuming, and then every couple of weeks have a real blitz on one room - so that I get the satisfaction of having it done. This usually happens on the Saturday morning of the weekends when DD isn't visiting.

The bathroom had come to the top of the list, so when a challenge to find things to do with Harpic other than clean the loo, I decided that I'd take on the glamorous task and create my own list of bathroom cleaning tips

Two bottles arrived yesterday morning

So, dressed in old clothes and rubber cloves, I headed into the bathroom this morning for a spot of deep cleaning therapy. Now... where should I start?

This patch of limescale and mould on the shower has been bothering me for a while so I decided to start here. I am one of those people that rarely uses harsh cleaners, preferring those cloths that require no chemical, or a gentle spray. That method is great unless things get really bad, when it just doesn't work!  I used an old tooth brush with a bit of the blue limescale remover. It splashed a bit, so (don't laugh!) I actually went out to the shed an got my safety glasses out - well, you can't be too cautious with your eyes can you? It cleaned really easily - I was impressed! 


Next I went for the shower pipe. Long ago, while I was travelling, I worked in a pub. Every Sunday we had to clean these pipes on the post mix machine with a toothbrush - it was the worst part of that job. I had a bit of a flashback, but when I looked closely at the part of the pipe where the shower runs on it all the time, I did think that perhaps I should have tried this before!

All of the time I was doing this, I was being quite cautious. My biggest concern was leaving some chemical in the bath that BB would get into later, so I was constantly rinsing everything with the shower water.

I couldn't resist having a go at the back of this shower mat. I do scrub this with an old tooth brush regularly, but it never really gets clean. With the Harpic, it came off easily. This was perhaps the height of my 'chemicals are good' euphoria.

I then tried the white bottle on the mould around the edges of the bath and the window



Not perfect, but a noticeable improvement in all cases. I think better than my usual gentle approach usually gets it.

At this point BB came to join me. He was quite happily playing with his train and watch TV up until a certain point, then he obviously decided I'd been gone too long. He wanted to know what I was doing, I was paranoid about him getting chemical on him and tried to persuade him to do something else - he wasn't interested. Instead he hung around the bathroom, pulling all the loo roll of the holder, and the dental floss out of the box and other helpful things. I guess I was getting more casual about putting the chemical on my taps too.

And then this happened!

I knew it was corrosive, that was also part of my reason for being so generous with the shower water before, especially when I first started - but it was all going so well. I'm not sure if this tap was just different to the others, or if the cleaner was on here longer because I was distracted, or if I didn't rinse it quite so well, but needless to say I was not quite so happy now! I'd say that on closer inspection, everything else is stainless steel, and this tap was chrome, though I had no idea they were any different before this incident. So, I'd say be cautious and don't use your Harpic to remove limescale from chrome taps!

My final project was the washing machine. I know you are not supposed to put bleach in your machine, but I do. You can't put baby and toddler soiled clothes in a machine every day and not have it stinking! It needs a good clean every now and again, and a hot wash with bleach is simply cheaper and more effective than the expensive washing machine cleaners you can buy. I thought the limescale remover version of Harpic might be good at this, and it had been stinking for the last few days.

I wiped the seal and the door and the detergent tray first, then added a bit of the Harpic and put it on a 50ÂșC wash with a pre-wash and extra water. I then wiped the seal again and put it on for a separate rinse just to be sure all the chemical was out. It did a good job. Stink gone. For a while at least.

So there you have it - lots of things to do with Harpic other than clean the loo. I certainly wouldn't use it on my bathroom every time, the gentle cleaner suits me fine, but every now and then for a deep clean I probably would use it again - though not on my basin tap, and I'd use plenty of water to rinse everything thoroughly too!  I think I might regularly adopt it as my washing machine cleaner.

Disclaimer: This post is in association with Harpic