Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pastures new

Good bye "Pleasant View"

Tonight is my last night in our first family home.
Our daughter's first home.
Where we spent our wedding night.
Where our sons have had their home for the past eight months.

Tomorrow I will take the children on a one-way journey to Wales.
We will spent the rest of the week with my parents.
On Friday we will move into our new family home.

And oh my flippity-chick, why does it never get easier.
Last Friday we had to resort to threatening to pull out of the sale.
Seriously contemplating living with my parents until a new sale could go through.
Nothing like a bit of tension and stress to add to the current mountain of worries.
"Why is September 30th so precious to you?" asked the estate agent on Monday.
Well, we've never been particularly precious about any date, apart from this was the date that we agreed on June 11th when our offer was accepted.
And up until last Friday it was never an issue.

I have always lived with a 'just in time' mentality, this does not mean 'lean'- I do not do things in the quickest possible time, I have unfortunately, on the whole, fallen into the mindset of if I offer a deadline people work to it.
And this seems to be the world of house buying and selling, solicitors just seem to work to the completion date rather than the quickest time to exchange.
I've got used to this, it was just our nervous vendors who weren't happy.
Which made us not happy.

As always, things have worked out. Friday will be stressful. The vendors hadn't booked a removal firm until Monday and as a result aren't quite sure at what time on Friday they can give us full access to the house- with 7pm mentioned.

South Wales
On Saturday Mr J and I will wake up in our new family home.
On Sunday, Seren, Tom and Seb will wake up in their new bedrooms, in a house that will become their home, hopefully for the longest possible time.

And so tonight is my last night living at Back Longfield.
We've had our last supper, our last clink of glasses.

Our future starts tomorrow.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Listography - Top 5 Celebrities I'd like to go for a beer with

This is becoming a wonderful Saturday ritual for me, hubby goes off to squash for the morning and whilst the babes take a nap I take 5!
As I'm typing this I'm wondering if this time next week we'll actually have broadband... or a home... but hey- live in the moment!!

So, this week's Kate Takes 5 listography is celebrities to go for a drink with. I started with a list, I then realised my select few included those that "don't do alcohol", I tried to choose some more but then figured, they don't have to drink their beer...

1. Hugh Jackman. Because he's at the top of every list. Admittedly, it may be Wolverine, it may be Hugh... I'm not fussy!
Hugh Jackman
2. Rhod Gilbert: Welsh, funny, and I like him! I can really see this being a critical part of my reintroduction to Wales.

3. Charlotte Church: I think this would result in an excellent night out in the 'Diff!
Charlotte Church

4. Robin Williams- I have loved this man forever, and would settle for a lemonade..

5. Drew Barrymore: because in  a non-stalker type way, I reckon we'd get on!
Drew Barrymore


Monday, 19 September 2011

Save the Children- No Child Born to Die

Saturday saw the first Save the Children Bloggers Conference put into motion ahead of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, where world leaders will meet and life changing decisions will be made.

On Tuesday, Chris Mosler (@ChristineMosler) will attend the UN General Assembly in New York. She is going there with Liz Scarff on behalf of Save the Children to pressure David Cameron to play his full part in solving the health worker crisis. There is a target of 60,000 signatures on the petition by Tuesday.

Here's what we can do to help:
  1. So first off - Let's all sign the petition, 30 seconds work and a step closer.

  2. Then the challenge set by @HelloItsGemma and @MichelleTwinMum is that to see 100 posts of 100 words linked up here by Tuesday. If 100 bloggers each write a post about this and encourage more signatures that could make a massive dent in the 20,000 signature shortfall that we sit with right now!

    Write your 100 words about a great health professional you have encountered in your life. Add a link to the petition and either link or add in some information from Save the Children about the #Healthworkers campaign

  3. Link to a number of other bloggers/ vloggers and ask them to do the same.

  4. Tweet about this, facebook mention it, remark on google plus, talk to your Mum on the phone, whatever you can do to spread this to just a few more people, please do it.

Why is this so important?

Save the Childrens new report, No Child Out of Reach, shows 350 million children will never see a health worker in their lives.
Children living in the UK will see a doctor or a nurse at least ten times in their first five years. But in Africa and Asia millions of children die every year from easily preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, simply because they have no way of being seen by a trained health worker if they fall sick.
Surely no mother, no one, can think this acceptable. If everyone just does one tiny thing- like sign a petition- a difference can be made.

Health workers save lives

Doctors, nurses and midwives are vital to help children survive. Without them, no vaccine can be administered, no life-saving drugs prescribed and no woman can be given expert care during childbirth.
But the massive shortfall of health workers in some of the poorest countries is hitting the most vulnerable children and families the hardest.
Half of the 8 million children who die each year are in Africa, yet Africa has only 3% of the world’s doctors, nurses and midwives.

No Child Born to Die

Children are dying from causes we know how to prevent or treat.
That’s why lots more doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers are needed in the poorest countries. We can stop millions of children dying.
Our No Child Born to Die campaign has helped secure a massive increase in funding for life-saving vaccines. Now we must take the next step to ensure children don’t die simply because they are too poor to see a doctor or nurse.
Sign our petition to the PM now
and so I leave you with my 100 words:

Finding out we were having a twin pregnancy was a shock, finding out that ‘twin 1’ had stopped growing at 30 weeks was heart wrenching, the support from midwives and health workers was tremendous, ensuring we had the best possible care and monitoring, even late into New Year’s Eve.

Finding out that twin 1- Tom had stopped growing again at 8 weeks old was too much, admitted with pyloric stenosis, I needed so much strength, and those at two hospitals were able to provide this, always there to support with a smile- no matter what.
We are fortunate.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Listography: Five things that make my house a home

So this week, Kate is taking on the Save the Children's Blogging 101 Workshop in London- it would have been wonderful to have attended, but London is a bit far, and we only got back from our hols yesterday so I would have been pushing my luck.

So the listography for this week is being hosted by Mother Porridge at the theme is ‘five things that make my house a home’. Quite timely, hopefully we are now on two week countdown to moving to a new house... so what things will make Rhoose a home?

1. Family: does this go without saying? Without the noise, chaos and disorder how could anywhere feel like home?
Three under 2
2. Our sofa: the comfy brown thing that sits in our lounge, takes all kind of abuse, but still puts up with us no matter what.
Sleeping toddler
3. Our pets... a strong link to number 1, we've just come back from a break without Miller- convincing Seren he was on a 'doggy holiday'. Oh, the excitement when we got back!

4. Pictures: whether they be photos or paintings or cross-stitches by my mum. I have carried many from home to home, accumulating many more along the way.

5. Clutter: no matter how hard I try to be tidy- and the office and bedrooms are testament to this, the lounge, kitchen and bathroom never lack clutter. Piles of paperwork, piles of washing, toys and books. I'm not sure if we mind, we say we do, and yet it stays.


Twin necessities: My top ten

Multiples Mayhem Carnival at Mummy with a Heart
This week is the Multiples and Mayhem Carnival over at Mummy from the heart and this is my attempt at a contribution.

This is my list of must have's for having twins. It does have the background of already having a little one but here goes:

1. Changing table- I didn't have one for my little girl. And oddly I have never changed a baby's nappy on it. Yet it is so valuable for storing the inevitable mass of toiletries, nappies, muslins and other paraphernalia. As a formula feeding mum the added use is that I use the changing mat top for night time feeding equipment so I don't have to be running up and down the stairs.
Preparing for a twin onslaught!
2. Baskets- Again, for whatever reason I haven't used a changing mat this time (I have been lucky!) but baskets downstairs and upstairs for nappies, wet wipes, cotton wool, etc have proved invaluable, a basket in the kitchen for rinsed bottles needing cleaning, in the bathroom with toiletries in. Baskets are a reasonably priced investment, and later can be used for storing toys, etc.

3. Sleep dividers and cot divider- at eight months my boys still share a cot. This has been a choice of convenience, we will need to completely overhaul my room to get two cots in and mummy out, and we are moving at the end of the month- so we're waiting. However, the cot divider and sleep positioner are hangovers from my little girl, the cot divider for me has always been a must for my peace of mind and the sleep divider was the same, but they came into their own again with the boys. In my world they love sleeping in the same bed, they did for nearly nine months and they frequently hold hands. But they did have a habit of creeping into each other's space and I wasn't ready for additional fears so with a sleep positioner each they continue to keep each other company.
Twins in a single cot

4. Bath supports- we bought these especially for the twins. Squeaks went from a baby bath to the bath with the knowledge that one pair of hands would be enough, and other twin mums recommended bath supports. It took a long time for me to build the confidence to bath them together but couldn't believe how much these supports gave me that confidence. I probably only used them for a few weeks as they now bath with the freedom to kick legs, but they were well worth the investment as otherwise they'd still only be bathed every other day!

5. Two bouncers, two swings- a major luxury, but a must with a toddler and for sleep purposes. We started with one of each, but unlike Squeaks they both liked the swing. The swing was great for night time feeds, when one had to *patiently* wait whilst the other was being fed, tandem feeding didn't happen till around 16 weeks. A bouncer in the bathroom for separate baths. And a swing and a bouncer downstairs for daytime. It's true, they could have been carried upstairs at bedtime and downstairs in the morning, but what with everything else...

6. Two sterilisers- again, one for formula feeding. I had managed to get both an electric and microwave steriliser for half price, the microwave one was more for spending time at my parents. But, when the electric one packed in we wouldn't have coped without a back up to hand.

7. One cot- as number 3, if you can save any expense till later on, every little helps. We could have saved on a cot till the boys were at least six months old.

8. One moses basket- I ended up getting an extra as a bargain off ebay when they seemed to outgrow the single. I needn't have bothered. They soon started napping in their bouncers or buggy. They slept in their cot from the time they came home from hospital so having a moses basket downstairs was only a temporary need.
Baby twins in moses basket
9. A diary- my definite must, and for once not because I love stationery, but for carrying on the recording you do in hospital of feeds and nappy changes, and other such things. My diary became the evidence I needed later on when Tiny was taken into hospital, but also it provided additional sanity in recording who had drank what, had a poo... you know, the things you live your life by!

10. A play pen- I joke my house it tidier with three children than with one. The joy of a play pen- at the end of a day just throw everything in for an instantly tidy lounge.

Maybe next time, a top 10 of not what to buy would be as valuable!

Friday, 16 September 2011

If you're happy and you know it....

I know my last couple of posts may imply I'm not happy at work. Weirdly I am... but I'm not... but I am!

I went back to work in September 2009, six months after having Seren. I went back four days a week, using annual leave to take one day a week off. It didn't work, I ended up cancelling a lot of scheduled leave due to 'priority' meetings. I had no expectations, so I wasn't let down.
Plus, before I went on maternity leave I was working three days a week in Norfolk, the very fact I didn't need to do that anymore meant everything else was ok.
I also had a boss who had two young children, I never appreciated the difference this would make. Life before children meant I didn't really acknowledge who had children and who didn't. To have a boss who understood that I might make last minute requests not to travel due to a poorly child, or who kept an eye on my diary to make sure I wasn't travelling too much made such a difference.

My job is odd, I can find myself travelling lots or not at all. I am classed as a 'travelling employee', this basically means I have more than one place of work, and I'm not officially based at home. With our head office in Norfolk and lots going on in London, I am on the road a lot.

And since going back this time I am reluctant to do overnights.
The truth is, I have yet to have a night away from the twins.
With Seren, Mr J and I had a night away when she was 3 months old, and nights away from her became an occurrence- not regular by any means, but not unheard of.
For some reason- there being three of them!- I have not yet done this (it is however scheduled in big red writing for the 20th September). As a result I have been frequently leaving this house at 5am to compensate.
And then I'm tired and irritable.
And it makes me frustrated with work.

When I returned to work I had a 6 week arrangement for temporary hours, one day annual leave and four days condensed into three and a half. I really thought it could work and would be for the best, until we moved to Wales and had more support.
My recommendation for anyone looking at a flexible arrangement- it only works if your work load is reduced or someone else is picking up the shortfall.
It doesn't work if you are still required to do the job in a reduced number of hours.
And then you start to resent the job.
If you're wondering, I also have a new boss. I worked for her for two months before going off on maternity, and as a result of not having an established relationship, this is also thrown into the mix.

I have chatted to Mr J and agreed that when we move back to Wales that I'll go back full time. There is no point wasting a day a week pretending not to be working and catching up on phone calls during naps, and emails after dark. Better to have a couple of weeks off and know that things will have to wait.

And yet, in spite of all of this, I still love my job. My team are fantastic. I have come back at feel invigorated by their enthusiasm. We have lots of ideas for the next few months, and even some for next year. My lovely customers are being optimistic (I joke this is on my behalf).

So, I have three gorgeous children, a job which I enjoy, a job which allows me to move to South Wales, a parent bringing up our three children (like we could afford the child care bill!), and are lucky in most things we do.

Life really is good!
I promise!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

How do you know if you're a 'grown-up'

I don't know another way to phrase it, as the question always was "what do you want to be when you grow up?" So, what happens when you think, at over 30 years of age, that you are 'grow-ed up' but you still don't know what you want to be.

I can't quite put my finger on the actual cause for this reflection, it has so many surrounding causes, but here's my potted history:
  • as a little one I always wanted to write children's books, I loved books, I loved to read, and thought lots of writers who wrote for children were pants- I'd show them.
  • then I got into LA Law and Perry Mason (or something like that) and wanted more than anything to be a lawyer... I found out this actually read 'barrister'. I then found out how much study this required and put a stop to that idea.
  • I then decided I wanted to be a secondary school teacher, this was actually the course I started doing at uni, but in spite of my thought process that whilst specialising in drama I did not have any ambition of being on stage I'm not sure my counterparts did, it was tough and competitive and not for me.
  • I transferred my efforts (and degree) to focus on teaching with an SEN bias having benefited so much from this, unfortunately by the time I graduated the last thing I wanted to do was go back for more so I joined the rat race.
  • The rat race consisted of turning a part-time job into my 'career'- an admin manager for a high street retailer. It didn't last.
  • And I took a job in the public sector, a complex organisation, and since joining I've managed to do some professional qualifications as well as going back to uni and doing an MBA...
  • And here I am, ten years with the same organisation, four different jobs, three children, and about to move 200 odd miles...
And this is probably where so much reflection is coming from.
When did I grow up.
How did I have such defined job ambitions and in the end fall in and ride the tide.
I joke with people at work that I can't ever imagine a child being asked "what do you want to be when you grow up?" and coming anywhere close to my job.
I have always loved my job.
And obviously, coming back from maternity leave this time and it's impact. My memories of coming back last time aren't anywhere near as painful or difficult.
I find it so difficult juggling a job with three children and a husband. And the stress of moving house thrown in for good measure.

But I can't help but think if there's ever a time to decide what you want to be when you've grown up it's now, because it's only going to be another day tomorrow, so why not start now.

I'm none the wiser, I have unknowingly become a jack of all trades, master of none. I don't have a specialism, I do have a good job- enjoyable most days.

But when I'm old, or when my children are responding to 'what does mummy do?' I'm not sure I'll be able to let them know the answer. That's not a bad thing, I never really knew what my dad did when I was little, her left for work every day at 8 and got home at 6, did I ever need to know more? Oddly, it turns out that the only real difference between my job and my dad's is that his is in the private sector- only took me 20 years to find that out!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Gallery: A happy memory

This week's theme over at Sticky Fingers is 'A Happy Memory'- reflecting on no matter what the world throws at us, there is so much good around us.
Wedding rings
My happy memory, would have to be my wedding, not just because I married a wonderful man, but also because our friends came together and brought their gift to make ours a wonderful day- from a wonderful cake, to photographs and jams, from organising and decorating to hair and make-up.

We had not wanted a wedding, more a day with friends. We definitely got both.
Mr & Mrs Johnson

A wedding at Hardcastle Crags

Beautiful babyWedding Cake
My amazing friend, Andrea Jones was responsible for these images

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Me and my blog

Well, it's been an odd few months, since stepping into the world of blogging.
It's amazing.
It's like another world.
I instantly became signposted to so many aspects of social media I had previously just seen as a sideline.
From statistics, to ratings, to followers, to Twitter, to product reviews and competitions.
It's amazing.

I love other people's blogs, and not just their content- the layout, badges, linkies.
I enjoy reading posts (although I must get better at commenting from my phone). I get tiny bits of reassurance and confidence knowing other people are in similar boats.

And yet, I have to take a step back.
For me, a bit of an obsessive compulsive, it's a bit of an addict's paradise, there is so much to get involved with.
But the reality is there is so little time.

I love the fact I've got followers, I am so grateful for the comments (even though I still haven't figured out how to direct reply and end up just commenting myself!).

And, there's so much I want to do... like a whole new redesign!!

And then I breathe, and revisit my first proper post.
I must remember that I have a mantra: "To record the early days of my childrens lives", already it has become so much more, but I do like to think that maybe one day they'll read this and know so much about their mum.
I think the balance is the availability of technology. That nothing I experience is any different to my mum, but my mum just can't remember the details now. That one day I would like to reassure Seren that it happens to us all, what ever 'it' is. That we cope, and we have an amazing ability to do so, even if we can't believe it.

I love my blog, I am doing ok all things considered, and I have another string to my bow.
Maybe I should do a to-do list of all the things I'd like to do with my blog and try one a month!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Me and my babies

Three under 3
For me yesterday was a difficult day, a day for quiet reflection and remembrance.

And yet, waking up with my little ones it was a day where they lived, and I was reminded of Mark Twain's words:
"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt.
Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."

That is the life I want for my children.

They bring so much joy to my life, it's by no stretch of the imagination perfect. The boys may go to sleep at 7 every night but they don't understand the concept of a lie-in! Squeaks may love her sleep, but she loves lots of attention in her waking hours. She gives the boys the best hugs, but still doesn't understand they don't like her full body weight being brought down on them.

I love every minute with my little people, even if that is more reflective than 'in the moment', I would rather be with them than without them.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Remember 9/11

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land:
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

Silent Sunday

Looking for the rainbow

Silent Sunday

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Listography: Things I did this summer

This week's theme at Kate Takes 5 I'm sure should be about sunshine and trips to the beach, however that seems to have been in May rather than the summer so I am instead left being a little boring this summer and looking forward to our holiday in September and next year's sunshine!

So here goes....

1. Went back to work. Whilst I thought I missed it, I definitely didn't. A temporary flexible working arrangement hasn't been successful, this actually means doing the same amount of work even if you're doing less hours... even the stationery hasn't made it better.
The desk of a home worker
2. Little girl started pre-school. Very excited for her, and the lovely school managed to find her a place over the summer to coincide with my return to work rather than waiting for September. She loves it and that's all that matters.
Pre-school fun
3. Had time with wonderful friends with gorgeous scenery. Now we're leaving the North we're discovering its beautiful places, Tatton Park and RHS Harlow Carr were our summer trips.
Good friendsTatton Park

Harlow CarrHarlow Carr
4. We went to the Manchester International Festival and met Mr Bloom (what a claim to fame!)
Manchester International FestivalMr Bloom

5. I lost my husband to a boat renovation project- Odessey never made it down the canal, instead Tony's spent the summer renovating it and now we've got our fingers crossed for a sale- anyone want a lovely house boat?!

House boatHouse boat


Silent Sunday

Hebden Bridge

Silent Sunday
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