Every day I am pretty sure I do at least one thing wrong. Most days I do more. I used to think I was alone, until I talked to other parents who were honest. Here is a place for more parents to feel less alone, and more "good enough".

Thursday, 8 November 2012

It's only a few months until February....................

It appears that there is only so much information a head can hold until it starts to revolt. I think my head is starting to get a bit full.

I know that in a few months, everything will be fine and settled or at least on it's way to being, but sometimes knowing that isn't enough to get you through without a little bit of stress on the way. And it annoys me when if I talk about being stressed or needing a rest, I get comments about how having a third baby will be harder and he will be with me all the time and I shouldn't have planned to have him if I couldn't cope, blah blah blah.

For one thing, who said I couldn't cope?? Needing to vent, a hug, chocolate, some sleep, time to eat, somewhere to offload, that doesn't mean you are not coping, it just means you are ensuring that you CAN cope. I can cope, my children are fed, James and I am mostly fed, we have clean clothes (albeit often from the laundry basket rather than the drawers), all of the bills are paid and on time, the children get to school on time and with all letters signed and money sent and according to the teachers are delightful and happy, and sometimes I can even see the living room floor!!

Plus it's not about having a third child. It's about having everything happen at once, regardless of any other commitments you might have. If you thought about what could or might happen and what you could cope with and should do and commit to in case various scenarios happened, you would remain locked in your childhood bedroom in your parents house I would imagine. Right now, I often feel that I just don't have the time to be pregnant, and that this pregnancy is surplus to requirements in this current situation. I hasten to add that it is not surplus to requirements in my feelings or James or the children or anybody else. I simply mean that everything is ever so busy that to be honest this pregnancy has passed in a blur and I have somehow reached 31 weeks without even realising (possibly because I miscalculated and did think I was a week behind this......), and that there is so much going on right now in my family that I forget I am pregnant half the time, never mind everybody else.

I haven't a clue when we are moving house. We know we have a house to move to, which is something to be grateful for as so many people are struggling to find somewhere affordable that meets their needs right now, so I know I am lucky in that respect. We know it is most likely some time in the next 2-3 months, and that we can start packing things we don't use often and store them at my parents. Which, on the surface, is great, lots of time to prepare and save up and get organised, right?

The fact that those 2-3 months also include Christmas, the current lease renewal date, and the baby's due date are a slight issue. The fact that my Dad would usually help us move house and is due in for an operation in the next 2-3 months is also an issue. And that my Nana is in a rehab home and my Mum and Aunties are spending the majority of their time either visiting her to make sure she is looked after properly (because she isn't being), or trying to figure out where she will go when she comes out, is another slight issue in this plan. Add to this scenario that my 3 week old niece has just been diagnosed with CF meaning my sister is rather overloaded with information and tired, and that I have to go for pointless genetic counselling (pointless since I have already talked it over with my sister and James and my GP and am not dumb and the NHS is supposed to be short of money) in order to be able to be tested to see if I am a carrier. And that Adam would quite like to meet his biological dad soon please, if you don't mind, just to make sure he's not dead because somebody at school said he might be dead, and that would be sad if he didn't meet him before he died. Oh and then there is the news that my little brother is due home in a couple of weeks, great news and Adam is ecstatic, but means another heap of emotions in my head and another things currently being sorted out and paper-worked and planned by the family. So yes, it's kind of a busy 2-3 months. And I'm kind of tired. And I'm tired of people telling me that I'm tired and doing too much and they're worried I'm not coping.......................but not actually doing anything to help, and instead making it sound like it is all my own fault, when actually no, I wasn't aware that this was all going to happen when I got pregnant and even if I was single with no children I would imagine it would've all been a bit stressful and busy anyway.

The general gist of this is, don't ask somebody if they are ok if you don't want to know the answer, or if when they do tell you they are tired you are simply going to start telling them how tired you are yourself or how tired everybody they know is. And that it's probably not a good idea to decide to get pregnant when everything seems to be quiet because it will probably all explode shortly afterwards and you'll just mostly end up forgetting you are pregnant. And that just because somebody needs to vent and is tired, doesn't mean they can't cope or that they have too many children, it just means that too many things are happening and they need to let some of it out of their head, and if they didn't then THAT would mean they weren't coping, because it is BAD for your health to keep it all inside and not vent and THAT is when you stop looking after yourself and your children and not coping.

I am not complaining, just in case anybody gets the wrong idea. Ever since I was little, I have loved that my family is big and it is messy and it is often quite like a soap opera. Because it means that there is always somebody there, and always some comedy storyline behind the main tragic and stressful ones. It means that Christmas is busy and fun and that there is always somebody somewhere who can pick the children up from school if you pass out on a bus. It means I have lived in houses with not much heating and thick jumpers and moved from bedroom to bedroom as people moved out and moved in, and I truly appreciate being able to let the children buy chocolate on the way home from school, but still want them to know that playing at the park is cheaper and healthier than constantly buying new xbox games. It means that there is always somebody else taking the limelight or the attention so you can just quietly get on with your own life without feeling like you need to please everybody. And one day, I am looking forward to having my children and grandchildren around keeping me busy and needing money and help with childcare and advice on how to deal with mixed up 9 year olds and wild 3 year olds. Because in my family, somebody, somewhere, will have been through it and know what they are talking about, and that is always a useful resource. But that doesn't mean that everything is roses and I don't need a bit of a rest, or that they don't.

Just give people a break. You don't know everything about a person, remember that. Half the time they don't  even know everything about themselves.

And because life is crazy, and this is totally irrelevant to this entire blog post, this is the song that is in my head right now. I guess because it is fun and like a bit of a whirlwind and to be honest doesn't make any sense at all the lyrics are pretty much a jumble of whatever they fancied saying, like life and my family, you have to just go with it and get on with it because what else is there for any of us to do.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

My Favourite Time of the Year

I don't really know why I gave up writing. I think, I was at a stage where the original purpose of this blog had finished, I was happy with myself again and had lots of reasons to, just simply, be alive. I was at a crossroads where I had to decide whether to stop writing or to change, develop, evolve. People were telling me I had lots to give, stories and tips to share, cooking advice (I make everything up as I go along), cleaning tips (I blag it), child-raising tips (see cooking advice)...........and I felt under pressure to organise my blog with meta tags, categories, etc. So I decided that I was giving too much of myself away, and ignoring my own advice to other people, which is to always prioritise your home life first. So I quit.

Looking back, it was the right thing at the time but now I miss it. I don't think I would be giving too much of myself away, I think rather I need to not try to make it perfect. Not organise it with meta tags and filters and categories unless I feel like it (first I would have to learn how to actually use them anyway.........). And make no apologies for that. So I'm back. But I'm not promising regular posts and I'm not promising structure. I'm not promising that every post will be useful, and many may be self-indulgent ramblings like this one. But I do promise that I shall be writing with honesty, and in my own style. And what more can anyone offer.

So, today. Today is October!! I do love this time of year. It is a funny time, between about now and February, they are my favourite four months. Yet they are also bitter-sweet and hold none of my children's birthday, family holidays, beach trips, long school holidays, garden days or any of the other things that I enjoy during the rest of the year. So why are they my favourite? I guess there are many reasons. And this may be a re-occurring theme of my blog for a few months, as there is no chance I can fit them all in this one.

It's the time of year when you can focus inwards on your family without feeling you are being rude. The nights are longer and start earlier, the weather can be unsociable, and everybody is either saving for Christmas or paying it off. More of the events organised are family ones, and you don't need to de-fuzz, tan, or wear skimpy unflattering clothes to attend!

This, however, is what also makes it bitter-sweet. Many special memories from the past are hidden in these few months, not just for me but for other people too. It can bring on a feeling of nostalgia, and it is important to remember what you have NOW, as well as remember what you had then, to avoid getting lost in the feelings. There is no need to forget treasured memories, indeed it is part of who we are and should never be lost. But it is important to remember not to dwell. I believe there is a line in Harry Potter that sums it up well, when Harry has spent much time looking in the Mirror of Erised and Dumbledore says to him

"It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live, remember that"

We are all guilty of this at times. This is part of the reason I am starting to write again, I myself have realised that recently I am constantly saying "When we move...........when the baby comes..........after my sister's wedding....................after our wedding.................when Adam finishes primary school.........when Jessica starts sleeping.............", as if these events are necessary before we can just "live" our lives. When actually, we are living them now. I am often guilty of not living in the present. I reminisce about the past, and I plan (somewhat excessively!) for the future. If I don't put a stop to this now, I can guarantee that when all of the above life events have happened I will simply find more to fill that gap. I have recently taken up knitting. When I knit, I sit and I knit something that is going to be used now, in the present. I am also working on a blanket for the baby, that will be used not that far in the future. I think this is helping me re-focus on what is happening now and enjoy the life I have.

 And there are new memories in these 4 months to remember, and indeed still to have. I met James in February 2011, which seems crazy to me as that was only last year and I feel I have known him forever. When we actually properly "got it together" is rather vague and I couldn't pin it down to one day, so I choose to remember the night we met instead, even though nothing at all happened between us and I left that night not even dreaming that I had just met the man I was going to marry. Although he did leave a good impression having waited outside with me for my taxi and offered me his jacket to keep warm. Here is a picture from that night, and with hindsight, I like it. Apparently, according to Roj, it was pretty obvious he liked me as he tidied all his room a couple of weeks later for me coming for tea, which anybody who knows James will know is rather rare ;) 

I still find it crazy to think that this was only last year.

Of course, one more memory to be made, in that vague "he's not coming til after Christmas" time that Jessica classes it as, is that the baby is due in January. As of next Thursday I will be 6 months pregnant, which has gone rather fast (and, as all mothers will know, now slows down to the speed of a snail for the last 3 months). The children are both rather excited, Jessica has developed a positively lovely interest in all babies and toddlers and is even happily giving her things away to them, and Adam is just busy telling everybody that "it's ok, we are having a boy, I LOVE Jessica but I don't think we could have survived another one of her.........", and I gently have to remind him that there is no guarantee what the baby's personality will be like. Bless, he is under the illusion that he was and is a perfect child. But, of course, in many ways his illusion is correct, as both of my children are perfect..........for themselves. As are we all.

This is a great song. When I listen I remember many many times. Some good, some sad, but all are important times of my life that have made me "me", and now it is time to have some more.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

"Wear Your Red Dress......."

Rather shockingly, I seem to have gained a life recently. I am spending time doing real things instead of writing my blog. It was completely unforeseen and unexpected that this would happen.

I am spending a large amount of my time researching home-education, and the more I read, the more I firmly believe this is the right option for my son as a viable option to secondary school. He also believes this, which only strengthens my resolve. Tomorrow we are going to visit a construction club led by home educators and hopefully have a chat with some people, as I think I will feel "braver" about this after meeting some people in real concrete life who are already doing it. The main aspects that interest me are the ability to create a curriculum tailored to his interests and abilities and future plans, which can be changed at any time, and be as flexible and free-flowing as he and the rest of our family need it to be. That he won't be subject to un-necessary peer pressure to conform and fit in so that he doesn't have to endure bullying. That he can have real socialisation, in the real world that he will live in for the rest of his life after school-age. That he won't have to do 10 or more subjects, some of which don't interest him, and instead can focus on subjects that interest him and gain greater knowledge in those areas, and gain a wider education in the real world, how to actually cook and clean and budget and "live". At the moment he is interested in Maths, English, Science, History, Religious Education, Geography and Latin, with a good sprinkling of ICT throughout. He would also like to learn karate, cooking, gardening, go swimming more, learn to play the piano, do lots of reading, and immerse himself in Harry Potter. Sounds pretty well-rounded to me ;) It is a rather scary prospect, I am worried I will fail, but if I sent him to school and then complained that they had failed him, would it truly be them failing him or would it be me, who had sent him somewhere unable to meet his needs? I am lucky that I am able to consider this, we are not well off at ALL but we are good at budgeting. However I feel I need to think in the long-run of a self-employed business opportunity I could do from home, especially at some point to begin building up a pension. It's all rather grown-up, this child-rearing stuff isn't it ;) I don't know whether Jessica will be attending secondary school or whether she will also suit home-educating better, she is only 2 at the minute and still developing her crazy little personality, but long-term thinking suggests I need to work on some kind of financial sustainability.

Other than that, I have been cooking, and cleaning, and sewing badges on to a camp blanket, going to the Salvation Army, going to band practice (although not tonight, as it's raining heavily and it's the school holidays which tends to skew my plans somewhat), planning my sister's hen-do, vaguely having ideas for my own wedding, planning Jessica's birthday, budgeting, oh always budgeting :P I have also dug out the cross-stitch and started re-watching ER from the beginning :)

Jessica and I have been making rock-buddies from a kit that a lovely friend passed on to us, it had stickers in which suited my sticker-addict down to the ground!! Adam has been very Harry Potter orientated, is half-way through the fourth book and keeps re-watching the fifth film. Apparently the fourth book is in the school library but he can't get it as it is in the "cream" section and he has only just moved up to "ruby" a couple of weeks ago............apparently the How to Train your Dragon books are in "ruby".........which he read last year at home. Don't you just love school reading schemes :P It's a good job we have well-stocked bookshelves at home :D Jessica also likes Harry Potter, she wanders around the house waving her drumsticks about shouting "Smelly Armpits!!", her logical take on "Expelliarmus". We got a letter from my little brother yesterday, and Adam was massively excited, declared that it was "his" letter, and read it repeatedly. When I later mentioned it is Jessica's birthday in just over 4 weeks, he announced that "And then it will be only 7 months until Uncle Andy comes home!!!" I said, "Do you miss him?" He said "Of course, I do, he's my family, I love him no matter what." I love my little boy, he's quite amazing. Think I best email his Uncle Andy and tell him what was said.

All in all, we are having a rather nice time just being together as a family, James is here quite often and is moving in shortly. Adam is very excited by this, and keeps saying "YES!" when we mention it - although this is usually followed by "I can't wait to have his TV in the kitchen so I can watch DVDs when Jessica is bossing the TV". So I can't be 100% sure on their motives for being happy about James moving in..................

Life goes on, as they say, and apparently it is true. It sure has taken it's time to show up. Possibly, after a settlement period, I will be back on this blog more often, when I have realigned all of my priorities. Who knows, in a couple of years it could be chronicling our adventures in the land of "Education Otherwise" :D

I was searching for a positive song about moving on. I have just found this most amazing song. I love it!!! I found the lyrics and have written them underneath. This is one awesome song - "Turn Up The Music" - this your life, live it!! It makes me feel like the whole tone of this blog is different, if I'd have listened to it first I'm sure it would have been. Listen to the lyrics, read them, and do them.........

How You Live - Point of Grace - Music/Lyrics Cindy Morgan

Wake up to the sunlight
with your windows open
Don't hold in your anger or leave things unspoken
Wear your red dress
Use your good dishes
Make a big mess and make lots of wishes
Have what you want
But want what you have
And don't spend your life lookin' back

Turn up the music
Turn it up loud
Take a few chances
Let it all out
You won't regret it
Lookin' back from where you have been
'Cause it's not who you knew
And it's not what you did
It's how you live

So go to the ball games
And go to the ballet
And go see your folks more than just on the holidays
Kiss all your children
Dance with your wife
Tell your husband you love him every night
Don't run from the truth
'Cause you can't get away
Just face it and you'll be okay


Oh wherever you are and wherever you've been
Now is the time to begin

So give to the needy
And pray for the grieving
E'en when you don't think that you can
'Cause all that you do is bound to come back to you
So think of your fellow man
Make peace with God and make peace with yourself
'Cause in the end there's nobody else


'Cause it's not who you knew
And it's not what you did
It's how you live

Saturday, 17 March 2012

"I'm a little bit of everything, all rolled into one"

My head is rather swimming these days. Every day I seem to find something new to learn about, become interested in, to want to be involved in. I see other people doing things, looking things up and researching, trying them out with their families and friends. And I wonder, how do they do it? Sometimes I feel like I am barely keeping my head above the water, keeping the house tidy and organised, ensuring Adam is doing ok at school and has everything he needs, ensuring Jessica is happy during the day and we do enough "stuff" ie painting, baking, drawing, lego building, outdoor time etc etc.
I tie myself up in knots, and worry do I come across as superficially interested in things? Or am I interested in too many things? I love music, but I couldn't go into it in depth like many can, I don't know details about bands, even the ones I like, and I often can't remember the titles of songs never mind their hidden meanings. I love to play, and understand musical notations, but couldn't sit and discuss them with you or how they could be improved upon to make a particular piece sound better.
I love writing, and reading, but don't always know what a "homophone" or an "oronym" is until I look it up.
I am interested in home schooling and know the law regarding it and how it would benefit my eldest child, particularly through secondary, but haven't seen all of the lectures on youtube or read all of the research papers on the subject, and I don't know what the latest buzzwords mean.
I never seem to have time to catch-up with friends, hurried text messages here and there, but I do still care about them. There are some I have grown apart from, but others I keep trying to organise meet-ups and then it falls by the wayside, does that mean neither of us are making enough effort, or just that we are both busy, do I worry too much about this? I have one friend who lives in London, I see her maybe twice a year if that, and talk on facebook, but I definitely count her as one of my closest friends, so maybe I need to stop factoring in that my other close friends live nearer and regard them the same way - we talk when we can, we see each other when we can, and we still deeply care about each other and would always be there if needed.
I see things I would like to do, learn to knit, crochet, make my own wedding invitations, make scrapbooks from our boxes of "photos and things saved as have memories attached to them", japanese number puzzles, cross-stitch.............but I never do any of them, or I start and then leave them unfinished. Does this make me flaky, or just busy, or just forgetful of giving myself time for me?
I want to tone up my stomach and legs, but I do exercise a couple of times and then let it fall by the wayside again, as an un-necessary extra.
I wonder if I am one of those people that others say is all talk and no do. But it's not that I want to be all talk and no do, it's just that I don't have the time?? Do I need to make the time? Is it that many other people just have one or two interests and I have too many and can only dip into each one at a shallow level?
I get things, and care about them and get immensely caught up and passionate about them, such as bullying at school (especially secondary school). But what do I do about them? I think in my head about how it could be tackled, things schools could do, things the police and government could do. Then I think of the feasibility, the age of the perpetrators, the parents of the perpetrators, the fact that people change and if a child has a record at 14 does that label them for life, but if they get it expunged at 18 then do they see it as not mattering so they might as well carry on with their violence and intimidation of others? Does a 14 year old know better, is it their parents fault, is it fair to prosecute parents instead of the child, can there BE a blanket rule for this or is it another one of the "too complicated to legislate and would cost too much as each case is different so we'll just sweep it under the rug and pretend it's not happening" situations, that seem all too frequent these days.
I see people getting passionate about terms and conditions on websites, liability for copyright material used, and I think why am I not bothered? Why do I just see it as "that's life, use it or don't". Should I be bothered? Am I naive? I don't see it as naive, I do know of the issues, I just don't see they are going to change and usually are interpreted sensibly, so perhaps I put too much trust in the fairness of the justice system - even though I know it is flawed, so really I am a complete walking contradiction?

Is everybody like this? Do we ever truly become "grown-ups" and really figure things out. I think I know what matters these days, but just find it impossible to fit it all in, and impossible to think "well I will just concentrate on ONE interest and ONE thing to be passionately campaigning about and ONE thing to try and improve in my own life", because it just doesn't work like that for me?

I'm not really sure, that there is an answer. All I know is that I am not superficial, I do care really about everything I talk about, and if people think I don't, they don't really know me. I get upset when people make presumptions, judge situations without knowing both sides. I allowed myself to get upset the other day about my ex making it out to his friends I am a control freak, when from my point of view, I am trying to regain control of my life from how it used to be when I was with him. Does that make me a control freak or does it merely make me normal, wanting my own life to be my own life? Does me not wanting him to call the shots mean I want to be in control, does that make me the control freak now? It hardly seems fair. But really, why do I worry what he is saying to his friends, and what they think of me, when they are not my friends? I think it's because I try so hard NOT to say things like that, that I make excuses for him, be understanding and considerate of why he might be acting a certain way, yes sometimes I do rant and get annoyed, I think that's normal, and especially when I find out he has said things about me that aren't true. But on the whole I really do try hard to make sure people don't think bad of him, that the children don't think bad of him, and I guess I find it bloody unfair that he doesn't do the same for me and then I find it hard to carry on doing it, being the bigger person and all that.
But really, I just need to be grateful and happy and think of the positives. I am happily engaged to somebody I truly can see myself being with forever, I have a nice place to live, the children are happy and progressing well (in my opinion :P), they have a good dad who sees them regularly, I have lots of family and friends and am in relatively good health. I need to forget about the people who don't know me and judge me (or who even know me yet judge me), and just feel sad that they don't have a happy fulfilled enough life to not need to focus on other people's shortcomings.

I think it's time for the ten things that are good about my life list again people, make us all feel good :D Do your own list, throw away the negatives and just think of the positives
1. I have two children who are amazing and beautiful and kind and just awesome
2. I have found a partner that I truly fit with and who my children love
2. I live within reach of a city, and countryside, a canal, river, parks, farms all within walking or short public transport distance
3. I get good, free, healthcare and relatively cheap eye and dental care
4. My children have access to education and by law are also allowed to be educated at home if I wish
5. I live near a library, greengrocers, butchers, supermarkets, many different restaurants and cafes
6. I am allowed to attend the religious service of my choice and freely talk about the religion of my choice without fear of arrest
7. When needed, I am able to get financial help from my government to help me live, although this seems to be under threat at the moment I hope pressure from the public and many charities will ensure as a country we continue to provide for those who need it and ensure people do not continue to slip below the poverty line
8. I am allowed to campaign and speak my mind about subjects that concern me, and pressure the government to change things, and vote for changes, without fear of arrest
9. I am in relatively good health
10. I have a nice house to live in, with all the necessary furniture and electrical appliances and a garden for the children to play in with a shed and toys to play with

It doesn't matter if other people think I am superficial in my thoughts, I know what I care about and what I know about and the time I have to be involved in it. I do need to try and make some time for myself, but I also need to stop worrying how it comes across to other people.

I like this song. I know, there are some areas in my life, where I could have made different choices. But I am loathe to say better, because the choices I made have brought me where I am today, and I'm not sure today could be any better. I like to not have regrets, to think that everything was part of the end result. I attend church again now, and sometimes I feel uncomfortable, that I should feel ashamed or sorry for things in my past, but I refuse to, and then I wonder if that means I shouldn't be going? I have always had principles, and they may not fit in with the ones that other people think I should be living by but I also don't think they were bad. I never had sex with anybody I didn't deeply care about at the time. I did use drink as a way to get away from myself at times, but when I felt I needed to, and it worked, and enabled me to put my problems away for a while and be me, and then feel more able to tackle them again in a couple of days. I always tried to think of others, sometimes too much, and pretty much everything I did felt right for me AT THE TIME. I won't feel ashamed, or wrong, or bad, because I didn't do things knowingly wrong to hurt others or with a bad intent in mind. And the thing is, the things I have said, others may think "well I have, does that make me bad?". No, it doesn't, if those are your choices, the fact is I made mine and others made theirs and nobody can judge one another's. Just because I felt it was important not to do something, doesn't mean somebody else did, so I would never force my opinions on to somebody else's life. Does this mean I shouldn't attend church? Sometimes I think that, but mostly I just keep quiet when people talk about these things, or walk away, because I refuse to allow somebody to make me feel judged when they don't know the truth. I think of it as "their issue", and not mine, and as the way they chose to live their life, and it would be wrong of me to tell them they are wrong, the same as it would be for them to tell me, so I just choose to not have those conversations. I don't know if this is a cop out, but it keeps me sane.

And sanity, is all we can hope for.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

To each their own, to each their life, what brings one peace, brings another strife

So, I searched for a poem or quote about judgement, thinking there would be many. And surprisingly there really isn't. I found this poem, and I like it, I have ensured to copy and paste in completeness and with a link to it's author, as I have put this on my blog because I like the sentiment, and for others to go and read her work, not to try and plagiarise it. Please click on her name and read her other poems, and again let me repeat this poem is not by me, nor do I personally know the writer.

Who Are You To Judge Me?

by Ashley

Who are you to judge me,
Based on the way I look,
Do you always judge a story,
By the cover of the book?

Who are you to judge me,
By the way I dress and what I wear?
Who are you to judge me,
By the way I wear my hair?

Who are you to judge me,
By the things you imagine I do?
When you don't bother to figure out for sure,
What exactly is or isn't true...

That's my point,
You're no one at all,
You judge me for one reason,
So you can feel tall...

You judge me because you want to,
And because it makes you feel better inside,
Because my imperfections aren't yours,
But your flaws won't always hide...

I'm my own judge,
And you're your own too,
So judge yourself,
And the things that you do...

Because I'm tired of being judged,
By people who think they know me,
Who refuse to judge themselves,
Because they aren't as perfect as they could be... 

It makes me sad, as a parent, that I am almost shoved as an unwilling competitor into a world where one wrong move can mean you are scorned by others. Where mothers feel the need to justify whether they work or do not work, instead of simply being able to say "I am doing the best I can for my child and family at this moment in time", and being proud of that. Nobody can judge another person, nobody can say that they are wrong for working, that their children are being raised by others (what utter rubbish, I have worked in nurseries and can assure you I raised no children there apart from my own that came with me for a little while!). And when I studied and then worked, my children were definitely raised by me, they were cared for WELL by their child-carers, but they were raised by me. However, nobody can say either that children who have a parent staying at home do not then have a work ethic, also utter rubbish, I currently stay at home and my children know that when possible, people need a job to earn a living and pay taxes in to pay for the running of the country, and also to help people, and themselves if they need it in the future. I hope to raise my children, as do the majority of parents I assume, to be open-minded, honest, caring, understanding, non-judgemental and hard-working, however they choose to apply that to their individual circumstances in the future.

I just feel sad, that when there are so many positives that could bring people together, instead the negatives always come out to play. Did you breastfeed? How long for? What formula do you use? Do you use cloth nappies? What brand of disposables do you use? When did you wean? How did you wean? What pram do you use? What carrier do you use? Are you going back to work? Are you leaving your baby with a childminder? Are you putting your toddler in a private day nursery? Haven't you seen the news about *those* places? Are you staying at home? Don't you want your children to have the latest things or have a work ethic? When are you getting rid of dummies? What about their teeth? Are they allowed chocolate or sweets? When are you going to make them walk instead of being lazy in the pram? When did they learn to read? When did they walk? Do you have stair gates? Do you have a fireguard? She's run away to play on the grass, aren't you going to stop her? Aren't you going to let her run away to play on the grass?Are you sending them to nursery school? What do you mean, home education, is that not illegal? Why do you make them go to church? Why do you not make them go to church? Do you make yours do their homework? Do you do practise SATs? Are you going to get a maths tutor? Do they go to clubs, do they have *socialisation*?

I know my children. Parents know their children better than anybody else in the world. Just CHILL THE HECK OUT!!!

I like to chat with my friends, about how I've done things, and pass on advice if they ask. But that doesn't mean they have to follow it, or that I will scorn them if they don't. It's their choice, because their children are not mine, I don't live and breath them every day like they do, and I can not possibly know what is right for them. Heck, I struggle to know what is right for my own children half of the time. And in a world where parents are questioned at every turn, this is not something many will admit. It is time that us real mothers took the stand and said:

"Hey, do you know what? I do a bit of this, and a bit of that, and the stuff that doesn't work I lose and the stuff that does I keep. And sometimes it changes and I have to try the old stuff again, and find some new stuff. And sometimes I mess up and have to say sorry, I messed up. When I was a kid, I thought one day I would grow up, but now I've figured out that nobody ever does, we just spend our whole lives figuring stuff out, and it would be a whole lot easier if we were all honest with each other about that."

We should feel privileged that we are able to make these choices about how we bring up our children, or at least more of them are choices than they are for many other people in the world. I am not perfect, I am guilty of judging others too. I try not to, but am human and so fail. I am not ashamed to admit that. However, from now on, I am going to try harder. I am going to try the Complaint-Free approach to life, with a slight adaptation to fit my own life, cos, well, it's my life :P I am going to wear a hair band on my wrist, and everytime I judge somebody, or complain in a negative manner (I feel there are positive ways to complain, some matters do need bringing up, but can be done so in a positive *let's change this* kind of a way), I am going to swap it to the other wrist, and see how long it takes me to keep it on one wrist for a whole day. And then a week. And who knows what the future holds?????

I am sure I will fail many times, but it's not about the end result, it's about the journey.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Life Happens to the "Best" of Us

So one of my guilty secrets is that I watch Teen Mom on MTV. Only the original one, and mainly just because of one family in it; two of the others irritate  me and the fourth I'm just indifferent to although they can sometimes be sweet.

Maci, the teen mom with Bentley, I just really identify with. I mean by the time Adam was born, I wasn't even a teen mum. I was kind of in no-mans land, too old to be classed as a young mum but not old enough to really fit in as a "normal" age mum. All the mums at antenatal class were about 5-10 years older than me, and all the mums at the "young mums" group were younger than me (or had been when they had their kids). But still, to me, I was a young mum even though I wasn't still at school or anything. Maybe it was amplified by the fact I was single and not working by the time he was born, who knows, but it doesn't really matter how it's classified or viewed by others, it's just how it actually felt to me that matters.

On the teen mom blurb, Maci is classed as the clever one, over-achieving, bright future etc. Then she has Bentley, and they may not say this, but to me when she is starting to think about dropping out of college and wanting to be a stay at home mum, and have another baby, it's not because she is lazy, it's because she is an over-achiever and wants to be perfect and good, and if she can't do it in the way she was going to before she had Bentley, with a career etc, then one way she can do it is by having the perfect family for him, and being the perfect mum. I can identify with that. I think, reflecting on it, that is what I have tried to do. When I was at school I was in all the top sets, I didn't really like coursework so didn't massively crack on with it or even do much revising, but I still got Bs and Cs and began my A levels. When everything started going on in my personal life when I was doing my A levels, I left to get some control and just start over, but still I had goals and aims, and even whilst working in the library I remember sitting there working out a plan to do my A levels in the evening and go to Uni and have a career etc. Then I got pregnant, and everything changed, I guess I figured I had to work with what I was given and if I was going to be a mum then I was going to be a pretty damn excellent one.

I guess I have tried to be pretty much every type of mother there is, in my quest for perfection. I started off being a "stay at home mum", but didn't want to be seen as a "young mum on benefits" so went to college to gain education. I went into early years training as I love kids - I'd originally wanted to be a teacher at school, and figured it would be a good job for a mum if I could get an early years job in a school and have the holidays off etc. So this was my "college mum phase". I was at college/work experience, Adam was in day nursery and that worked for a while. It also gave me a chance to "be a teenager" and figure myself out a little, like all my friends had had the opportunity to do, but without neglecting Adam or being a bad mum because he was well cared for in day nursery and I was studying at college not just slacking off without him there. It was hard work, I remember when he used to get up at 2am until 4am every night for a month, then we would have to get up at 6am to get ready for college, and I'd be running down the road with him in the buggy, sometimes speed-walking all the way to Saltaire from Windhill because we'd missed the bus. And the time I sat in agony crying my eyes out because I had a tooth abscess but had to get my assignment in for the next day and couldn't have anymore time off or leeway as I'd used it all up when he was sick. Or the time he threw himself down the stone steps at the flat and I had to leave him at my mums for the day because I couldn't miss the child protection talk. And crying on my tutor because his day nursery was closing down and I couldn't find another I liked and I didn't know what to do. It wasn't easy, yet I look back on the time thinking it was one of the most fun times of my life, crazy huh. We used to have fun times, a lady on the bus used to give him books every week because she thought he was so good, and I left about 3 buggies on buses :/ Me and Heidi got matching buggies as we'd seen them on sale in Mothercare haha!! One time, I'd just picked Adam up from nursery, it was 6pm and dark as I'd been working late at the library, had all my files with me and all his nursery stuff, and halfway over the road his pram broke, just literally snapped down the sides. I was shattered and had no money for a taxi, and it was freezing, I just rung my mum crying and she came picked me up. One of many "last straw" days, but we made it through and I qualified :D

Then came my "Single mum working school hours" phase. I got a job in a nursery school, thinking it would be perfect as I could have the school holidays off with Adam, and found a great childminder for him. He started a school nursery too, and it was great. But then, he kept getting ill, and was so ill one week they tried him on 4 different antibiotics, and that's when he was diagnosed with kidney reflux. I was torn in half, felt guilty for being at work, felt guilty for not being at work, felt like I hardly saw him except for the holidays. I decided to look for another job where I didn't get the holidays off but worked different shifts/hours so could have a more "normal" life and do school drop-off, morning assemblies, have time off for his nativity and stuff.

So then I started my private day nursery job, this was my "full-time working single mum" phase. Typically for me, I ended up taking on more and more responsibility at work and becoming room leader. Adam would sometimes come to work after school so I could work over as I hated to say no if they needed somebody, or my parents would have him. I was taking work home, doing far too much. And then Paul and I decided to move in together and create the family environment that I wanted Adam to have. We started buying a house, and then Paul had his accident. So that was another thing to get through, another thing to feel I needed to "get right", making sure I was there for him and keeping everyone updated, still working, looking after Adam, making sure the house buying went through - scary stuff buying a house first time and I ended up doing it alone, thank goodness for my Dad helping me out. Doing all the packing and all that stuff, and dealing with the aftermath of an ofsted inspection at work. It was a pretty stressful time, but it was always a case of "well when Paul's better, when we've moved, when work is sorted" etc etc etc...........one day everything would be fine. But I think you need to realise that life will never be "fine", there's always something happening and you just have to learn to live at the same time, not wait for it to be over.

So we moved house, settled in, started my open uni course and started trying for a baby. Really wanted to create that proper family unit, and prove to people that I wasn't just a "young mum" and that I was still clever like at school. Was stressful, working full-time, looking after Adam, doing a Level 4 uni course, and being pregnant. But I guess I still felt I had a lot to prove. When Jessica was born, I tried to do everything right, which obviously didn't work out great as I'd done better with Adam when I'd just used my instincts, but hey we all learn these things over time. So that was my "2 working parents with career aspirations, 2 children, owned house" phase. After a while back at work though, I realised I wasn't focused on my job enough, and if I couldn't be perfect at it, well, I'd rather just be perfect at what I already had on my plate - a stay at home mum.

So began my "dad at work, mum at home with kids" phase. And it worked quite well, until our relationship broke down and I just realised I wasn't happy anymore with my life, and maybe I had rushed into it, wanting Adam to have a Dad and a family, and we had now grown apart. It's hard when there are children involved, if you're with somebody for 5-7 years it's hard enough to split up, but when there are children too you feel like "growing apart" is not a valid enough reason, until you realise that whilst you are so unhappy and ill, you really aren't being the best mum you can be, and that is not in the children's best interests at all. We were only 20 when we met, and he never knew me before I was pregnant, so maybe we should have seen it coming, but you never know anything until you try.

When Paul and I split up I went back to my "Single mum on benefits" phase, but with 2 kids this time and not quite as young, although still only twenties so not exactly old! But I didn't want to stay there, I just took a couple of months to lick my wounds and then decided to try out the "Single mum working school hours" phase again. I found a great job, with a lovely group of staff, albeit a bit far away. I had a few childcare issues as Jessica wasn't used to being away from me and was quite attached, but finally sorted it all out. But again, after a while, the usual guilt-trips set in, the days off for the children being sick, the missing certificate assemblies, the 2 hour bus journey with the toddler in the freezing cold, and then I started getting ill myself with all the worry and the rushing around. And I decided that enough was enough, people could label me however they wanted, but I was going to do the best for my children and myself, and if that meant having to be on benefits so I could be at home for them, then that's what was going to have to happen.

So now, I am once again a "single mum on benefits". And maybe, it's where I need to be right now. But I still feel myself trying to over-achieve, trying to make sure everything goes perfectly to plan, that Adam always has everything for school and goes on all the trips and cub camps, and that Jessica does enough activities during the week, and they eat good food, and I stay on budget and still afford them nice clothes and good shoes and trips to the cinema and they don't feel "poor". And I don't know why I'm bothered because when I was a kid I KNEW we were poor, I knew my clothes came from Margaret and Myra's jumble or Bevan's clothing bins, I knew we got given pasta and cheese from the next door neighbours when my Dad lost his job in the 80's, and I knew I didn't have the uniform with the logos on, and that we went to Butlins with the Salvation Army and Junior Soldier camp because we were given help from the fund. But I wasn't bothered one inch by it, I was happy, so why I think my kids will be bothered goodness only knows??? I never wanted for anything, and I had more My Little Pony's with proper play-sets than any kid in my class cos Bevan found a load in a clothing bin and gave them to me. By the time I was at the age where I would've been bothered, we weren't really poor anymore. And by the time my children get to that age, they'll be independent enough that I'll be out working again and we won't be poor anymore either. We're not poor on that scale anyway, welfare reforms have seen to that, and I am pretty awesome at living and eating well on a budget :D

I've rambled here and lost my point. The whole point of this is, I get Maci, I get her wanting to have another baby even though she was only 19, she didn't really mean it or think it was a good idea, but she wanted to "achieve" in the best way she could, as a mum, and felt like she needed to create the perfect family for Bentley to do that. She wasn't being naive or dumb or young - if she was doing that she would've gone on to have another baby. She was just trying to figure out a way to be herself, be the "best" at things like she used to be, in the situation she had been given.

These days, I still know I have to watch myself, that I need to relax and let Jessica just chill out and play with her toys and watch TV for a day if that's what she feels like doing, and hide under the kitchen table and cut her hair. And I need to let Adam play on the Wii for hours and not worry about it cos the next week he'll probably choose to play out every night after school so it all evens out if I just let it happen. And I am just letting it happen. I'm not staying at home this time because I'm playing a role, this time I know it's right for me and the children, and that it will be right when James moves in too, and when we get married, and if we choose to add to the family in the future, that it will be right if I just go with how we feel, rather than try to do it for a reason or at a certain time or in a certain way. It's still important to work with what you've been handed, and make the best out of it, but it's important to also make sure you find "yourself" whilst you're doing that. Sometimes, you just have to let life happen to you, and it turns out being the best thing you ever did.

The only perfect mum thing that I'm hanging on to and can't let go of, is that I promised Adam I would take him to Disneyland Paris one day, before he started upper school...............that one, I have to make happen somehow.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow Day!!!

We have had a rather fantabulous day today :D It was a sledging and snowball fighting, chocolate eating, bread making, lego and marble-run building, dressing up box rooting, lentil playing, fish stew eating, Bug's Life watching, Creme Egg icecream eating, falling asleep reading books at 7pm kind of a Sunday............Here are a few pics..................

It was a good day because we just let it happen, we didn't plan or try to have a "perfect" snow day or Sunday, we just went along for the ride, and it turned out that at 9pm everybody was tucked up in bed (including Beard lol!), the house is tidy for the first time in a week, and I have actually time to relax. Funny how a busy family day can turn out to be the one day in the week you actually get all your jobs done, and the food cupboards sorted out that you've been meaning to do all week...................

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Give me a reason..........................

Why do I blog? Why do I facebook?

This question has occurred to me quite frequently in recent times. I share quite a lot, that many people wouldn't share. I talk about my feelings, and my down days, and my finances. I vent, and I often share stories of my children, positive and negative.

Am I showing off? Am I attention-seeking? Am I asking for pity or help?

These are things that some people, mostly those who don't know me well, may think.

But no, none of those. If nobody read this blog, it would still be here, I would still write, because the outpouring of words is why I write. However it may not be in the same vein, I guess, as I do know people read and I do sometimes write with that in mind.

I write about money, and my financial struggles, not for pity or for help, but to raise a general awareness of the fact that living on benefits is not easy, is not all about the families you see on TV and in the Daily Mail with their 8 kids and 4 TVs and 3 dogs and holidays abroad blah de blah. I write so that people can see a real person and maybe, just maybe, will make them stop and think before judging the next person who says to them tentatively "well I stay at home at the moment but I am going to be looking for work in the future and I have worked before".............because, well, saying "I'm on benefits right now because it's how life is" is somehow seen as shameful. People quite frequently say to me that they know I'm the kind of person, in the kind of situation, where they like to see government money going, where they can understand, and like the fact that we have a benefits system in this country. And I hope, that makes people also realise that there are many people out there like me, that in fact the majority of people are like me, and the papers seize the minority and sensationalise it, like a game of Chinese Whispers when you're 9 years old. So that is why I talk about money on my blog, and on facebook, because the more transparent I am then the less I can be judged, if people dislike or judge me after transparency, then really, they're not my friend, and I'm better off knowing that and getting on with my life without them in it.

When I talk about my children, I'm not showing off, I'm being proud, I'm being anecdotal, and often I talk about the messes we've got into together, the parenting mistakes I've made and the way I have tried to make up for them. I write about this, because it is me and my feelings and who I am. And because, it is important to tell all, to show the full picture, to enable other parents to know it's not just them, they're not "bad parents", they're human and alive and this stuff happens to everyone and always will. There is far too much competition and expectations these days of how we bring up our children, and I like to try and combat that with a bit of the old unvarnished truth. But that doesn't mean I can't talk about the awesome totally cool things they've done, and if people want to call it showing off, well that's their look-out, I just call it sharing the good stuff :)

And asking for pity? Oh no. I share how I feel and some of the things that have made me feel that way, because again, there is far too much shame and shadows surrounding the world of emotional and mental health. Far too many people who are afraid to ask for help for fear of being seen as weak, or crazy, or having their children taken away from them. Too many people who don't know what to say when they ask a friend "Are you ok?" and the reply is "No actually I'm not" instead of the standard "Yeah fine thanks".

Sometimes I am asking for help, and that is ok, it is ok to ask for help, another thing that needs to be more widely accepted. Are we in this world alone? Are we on individual islands with no means of communication or travel? How ridiculous, we are part of a community and we should use our own and each others strengths to make life better, otherwise we may as well be all in isolation booths.

It is always nice to know that there is somebody out there who has been or is going through the same or something similiar to you. That you're not mad, or wrong, that you don't need to simply "get a grip".

I write this blog, because of all of these things, and because, quite simply, it's my life and I can.

Monday, 23 January 2012

I'll just get up and try again..............

Today has been one of those days that was fun and had lots of good things in like going to Ikea and buying some things we needed for the house, and buying Adam a chair for his hiding spot in the pantry so he feels he has somewhere to go when he needs a bit of a breather. And we had Chinese food for tea in honour of Chinese New Year, and fortune cookies which the children loved, especially the one that said "The important thing to remember about children, is that there are none so wonderful as your own". We watched Harry Potter 4, and Jessica has decided that she loves Harry Potter films, the same as she became obsessed with Narnia. I think it may partly be to do with the soundtracks possibly, the enchanting drawing in quality of it all?

But it was also one of those days where, again, homework became a battle that will never be won, and indeed I'm not really sure what counts as winning anymore, or who the winner in the situation would be. And where once the children had gone to bed I realised that I still had an immense amount of housework and laundry and pack lunch making and fridge cleaning and shopping list making and general tidying to do. And I was emotionally and physically tired, and I could hear Jessica coughing and just know I will be up again tonight. One of those evenings when you just really don't have all the answers and wonder why all the other parents seem to have them, why they don't seem to be having a child stressed out and in tears because they can't do their homework and they don't get reward stickers in their planner anymore and they're on the bottom table for maths and they never have time to change their reading book and they don't understand what's changed.........................I don't think having the first week of school in January off with a new teacher really helped my little 8 year old bundle of pure raw stress.....................................................

So, I am going to bed. I am going to leave the house, because even though I promised Adam we would keep it tidy from now on, sometimes, Mum's aren't perfect. Sometimes, we just need a night off. And it will come back to bite me tomorrow, but I'm tired, and cry-ey, and really unsure what to do about this newest challenge in the "Things they didn't tell you about parenting" book of life, and I think tomorrow me and Jessica might just have to put some loud music on and have a race to clean the house. Or something like that. It's not the greatest week for me to have a meltdown, since Adam is not sleeping at my mum's tomorrow and neither of them are sleeping at their Dad's on Thursday, but then again they are away all weekend so at least I can have a major rest and clean up then................well, not at the same time, but still 2 days with no children is an ocean of time in my life, so much can be done, including sleep! I will have to miss band practice this week, but this can not be helped, and although I have promised to go in this blog, having my children is an allowable exception. And maybe this week is a good time to have a break, last week, I seemed to see ghosts of the past every time I looked up, and even though I could play this Sunday as the children won't be with me, something in my head just stops me, there's a block there. I think, I am scared, of reminders and memories coming knocking through my walls. I would like to layer new memories on top of the old ones, like a layer of varnish that prevents them coming through, but I'm scared that trying to do so will revive and re-awaken them. And it's not somewhere I wish to go. I think this needs some more pondering on, before I make a decision.

So, I have decided, it is bed time. Everything, including making packed lunches, can wait until tomorrow. Jam sandwiches shall be the order of the day and I refuse to feel bad, after all it is St Dalfour no sugar or nasty chemical jam, after all ;) And I found this song. I like this song. It is a good song to end the day on, for tomorrow is a new day, and I shall start again. Don't skip listening to the song today, it's an important one x.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

This one's for you..................

This is another funny one. A good time to be ill? The children timed it perfectly with their chickenpox, after I'd finished work, after the Christmas festivities, and whilst they had lots of new toys to play with whilst stuck at home. The weather was rubbish and despite the itching and lack of sleep it was nice to have some family "time-in". Now, it appears I am ill, and it is also a good time. I suddenly developed a bone-aching cough at around midnight last night (or this morning, depending on your take on the matter), and didn't get back to sleep until after 5am. I didn't even doze as I sat on the computer playing Japanese number puzzles to try and take my mind off the fact I was unable to even breath without it being followed by a bone-aching coughing fit. My shoulders, arms and wrists ache every time I get one of these coughs, I'm not really sure on the reason but just put it down to my weak wrists and imagine I will most likely get arthritis of some description when I'm older. Ah well, there are worse things in life, or so I'm told anyway :P
But it is a good time for this. This week I have really kept up with my own personal take on the FlyLady routines, and my house is gorgeously clean and homely, a lovely place to curl up and watch TV in whilst I get better. I couldn't really have timed it better. I do have the children back at 5.30pm, but I also have James coming over after work and to stay all Sunday too, so all will be good. Have been offered a lift to the Army on Sunday morning as well, so feeling very settled right now. Things appear to be falling into place rather well. I guess, when you take the bull by the horns and decide it is the right time, then the right time comes along. 

Ecclesiastes 3

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot

A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build

A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn and a time to dance

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain

A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away

A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak

A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.

I'm not feeling overly great, and appear to have completely forgotten how to move photos from my blackberry to here. I will ask James to re-teach me, and will be back very soon with pics from this new time in my family - of leaf piles, buns, nail varnish and the re-emergence of Adam's World War II obsession :D

I'll leave you with this.......................it's stuck in my head, and it's not really aimed at a particular person, I think rather just the whole of my life and the people and places in it right now..........................I chose this version more because the video is more "me" than the Elton John one, usually I would go for the original but the images in this sum up much of what are really the best times in life.....................just to be.

Friday, 6 January 2012

"These Are The Days So Wake Up 'Cos This Is The Time...."

"......And You Know I'm Right"

And so it begins, a new phase of time. Now, I must make a point, that I am not one of those annoying "New Year, New Me" types, who make loads of resolutions and then breaks them in a week.  I don't really do resolutions. For me, this is a new phase because I have stopped working and am staying at home, because I am approaching the "met a year ago" mark with James, and it just so happens that this coincides with a new year. If it was May, it would still be a new phase of time for me.

So, I have shifted my List of the Year around a bit. Deleted some things that I'd either achieved or have realised are no longer important. Have edited some things that I want to change the focus of. Have added some new things that I'd like to try and work on. You may notice a subtle shift in priorities, towards a mellower, more  chilled out existence, focused on home life and the smaller more important things in life, such as crafting and gardening and playing and reading and just basically enjoying life, unrefined basic life, with all the fancy bits stripped away.

It's going to be rather an exciting fun year. There's a couple of weddings, probably more to be planned for 2013/4 with the recent engagements that have been announced, lots of babies to be born to some really lovely Mummy's, and a few other plans afoot to make it a year to look forward, a year of change, but positive gentle natural moving forward change, rather than forceful take the wind out of your sails change. I am rather organised, having bought Jessica's birthday presents in a rather amazing sale, and have actually managed to find a decent hiding place for them :O

It's all looking good, and going well, for some reason I feel rather quiet, rather thinkative, I don't think I'm feeling foreboding, I'm genuinely happy and positive about the near (and far) future. Maybe it's just because I can be quiet, I have time to be quiet, without too many thoughts of work and study and childcare arrangements crowding in on the already busy thoughts of children and family and house and bills and school and friends and life in general. After only one week of not being at work, I really am not sure how I managed to fit it in. Of course, this could have something to do with both children waking up with chicken pox on New Years Day. Picture the scene, getting Jessica dressed, lift up her tshirt and "Oh." Shout up the stairs "James, Jessica has chicken pox again!". Mention on facebook that Jessica has chicken pox again. Five minutes later, Adam says he has a spot on his stomach. Lift up his pj top to reveal a back covered in spots. Shout up the stairs "James, Adam has chicken pox too.......again.........this is the THIRD time!!". James decides he'd best get out of bed at this point....................Mention on facebook that Adam now also has chicken pox. Have a comment that only my children could get chicken pox more than once or twice :P
So. A week stuck in the house. An extended school holiday for Adam. But strangely, it was fine. I wouldn't exactly say I was glad they had chicken pox or enjoyed them being ill, but what I did actually quite like was that I managed it well, I didn't have to worry about being off work or losing money, I didn't have to feel guilty about leaving them with other people, and my frame of mind in general just got on with it and it was fine, even the sleepless nights were dealt with without too much stress.

So, bizarrely, a severe bout of chicken pox has actually made this new phase of time begin with a good positive start. If I can handle that and still remain happy and settled, then really, that has to be a good sign.

"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want"

Ben Stein (American Actor, Lawyer, Writer, b.1944)