Sunday, 8 December 2013

Good Housekeeping - the irony

So my blog has been viewed over 2000 times! Yay! Fabulous news. Hope its not just my mum pressing refresh all the time!

Its also a good time to celebrate this new venture as this week I am featured in Good Housekeeping magazine in a feature in their January issue giving readers some ideas/nudges to make changes to their lives for the better (today's top tip - I bought my copy of the mag in Tesco today for £2,99 instead of £3.99!). The irony that I have become a 'housewife' is not lost on me, just not sure I'm a good one yet!

I was interviewed at the end of September and went to London for a photoshoot at the start of October, so was still full of the joys of my new life. Happily I can still hold my head up high and agree with the sentiment I had then. I can't quite believe where the last year has gone and how much we, as a family have packed in, but here we are counting down to Christmas and the New Year. If what I am doing can 'inspire' (slightly uncomfortable with that word and me) then so be it - if you need a nudge to get on  and take a leap into the unknown, then here I am nudging you. I can't quite believe I didn't agree to moving up here sooner. I'm still feeling blessed.

I wish my parenting was as blessed as the rest of my new life. With the change to a new year for my DD, she seemed to be replaced with a child I did not recognise. Not sure if this is a result of all the food colouring i had in her birthday cake. Not heard reports yet of the other kids being more of a handful since the party? But I'm quite sick of counting to three, of threatening that Santa/Father Christmas isn't going to visit us, of resorting to shouting. Ugh! And with no work to escape to, the rosy glow for this new life certainly got a bit tainted this week. So I'm seeing that there are benefits of being a working mother. I think that by having that 'escape' it gives you, as a mother, a good 'time out' to consider what's been going on at home. You can also discuss things with fairly impartial work colleagues and get a different take on how you can change the general high tension at home before bed time! But its about that balance that I just wasn't able to achieve.

As it is I'm not yet too ingrained into the local mum network to vent too greatly when at the various playgroups or church we attend and having DD in tow limits how much I can vent. This morning was a blinder. DD suddenly went from a fairly happy child to one determined to show us up. All because I drew a squiggle on the back of drawing DD had done in little church. On rejoining the main congregation and typically just as the priest got to the fairly serious, quiet part of mass, DD chose that time to tell me (and all the congregation) that she had "a sore botty"! As I struggled to get her under control (my hushes, hushed right back at me) I realised with some new clarity why most parents sit at the back of church with their kids. Unlike me, being fresh and new to the community I've chosen each week to sit near the front (more to do with my eyesight than anything else). Thankfully we managed to get to the end of the mass without me self combusting but as we left DD was handed a Christmas cone of chocolate treats from one of the other mums! Argh - more treats on top of all the ones she'd had for the last week due to birthday well wishers. She's never going to learn.
So I confiscated them! Up to the top shelf of the larder - away from little arms. But with the promise that she could have them back IF she showed some improvement in her behaviour for the rest of the day. 'Like mother like daughter' I think the saying goes - I'm a chocoholic and if someone confiscated MY chocolate, if killing that person wasn't an option, then doing whatever they ask would probably do it!
So for the first time in a week (I know that doesn't sound long - but I'm used to an angel child) DD said her pleases and thank you's, did what she was asked to do the first time she was asked, ate all her food, didn't fuss at bedtime and was altogether a delight. Is this what its going to take then? Holding back chocolate? We'll have to see how things progress.

I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year. We bought our first 'real' tree yesterday and I'm waiting to bring it in and put it up, but I still have three boxes of books to unpack to make room in the corner for the monster we bought. I have the lovely mental image of how the room will look especially now we have our new gorgeous sofas. However my mental image did not include a smelly mound of cat vomit right in the middle of this new purchase. Bloody animal. We've had leather sofas for the entirety of her life and she has never, ever vomited on them. But a few weeks into lovely, soft, cozy fabric sofas, and not only have we had the horrid vomit, but mud a plenty! A hazard of living in the countryside? Or just a hazard of having a half finished basement? Christmas is a time of traditions and it seems that we started one last Christmas in the form of 'painting'! Not some wonderous masterpiece, no I mean wall painting! It looks like the basement will, structurally, at least be finished in time for Christmas, allowing us the two week break (from what in my case?) to have the time to paint.
But that's not the bit of Christmas I'm looking forward to. No. I'm looking forward to two whole weeks with my dear husband. What a novelty - adult conversation for the majority of the day as opposed to just a few hours in the evening. And both of us on hand to deal with the no doubt over excited DD who totally 'gets' Christmas this year. That part of her age I love.

Now dear readers (or reader if it is actually just my mum hitting refresh) thank you for taking the time to   get my blog to over 2000 page views. I hope some of what I write is of use or at the very least enjoyable and thanks for letting me air the clutter in my brain.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Hello my name is Moira Barnes!

So in my last post I talked about DD's birthday last year and builders dust.... a full year later and I spent my weekend manically cleaning away builders dust AGAIN! I must be mad. But I feel much more capable of dealing with it this year thankfully. The works on the basement that were scheduled to take seven days to complete ("come on, 7 days?! Really" I said at the time of the initial quote, 'oh yes Mrs Barnes, definitely") are now entering their second week and look like extending beyond the little ones birthday. But at least I am around during the day to keep a track of what's going on, and shuffle ourselves and our belongings from room to room when needed. It will be worth it not to have the cold damp smell emanating from the basement and will be great to have usable and pleasant rooms for family and friends to stay in. I promise folks it will look better than the below photo soon.

To distract me from the noise (pneumatic drills to dig down several inches to lay cavity drainage membrane and insulation dontchaknow) I have been baking! Trying to get ahead of myself before DD's party on Saturday, I have been trying my hand at making a rainbow layer cake. With mixed results! I am wondering if people, even toddlers will want to eat a sludgey green coloured sponge and despair at how the amount of food colouring might affect 14 screaming kids, making them even more manic than they are bound to be? I'll report back after the weekend. I'm wondering if I really should have succumbed and booked a venue which I reckon after the age of three you need to do. Will my lovely house still look respectable after the party? If the basement was finished I could have shoved them all down there as my brother in law has suggested. Darn builders!
I experienced a lovely birthday party the other weekend, but not a toddlers. My big sis reached a significant age, so great celebration was in order. She wisely chose to hold this in a restaurant, Tiggis in Lytham St Anne's. We had an upstairs area to ourselves so while us grown ups enjoyed a glass or two of fizz the little uns (there are a few) had free reign to run around like crazy. Why I bother getting DD dressed up in pretty party wear I'll never know as before the night was out she was down to her vest up top! My other sister held her 6 years olds party at a soft play centre and reported that it was great just to sit back and let others take charge. So note to self, to encourage even less stress in this new life, let's book a venue for next year.

I've not written about my experience at Blogfest the other week yet. Mainly because I had mixed views. I didn't help myself by getting there late, arriving at the wrong venue led to that tardiness! The morning started off well enough. Richard Bacon chairing a debate about internet trolls, with some truly scary stories that had me wondering why I'm putting myself out there. Prof Tania Byron was excellent and really made my brain light up. Jon Ronson was brilliant with his swearing but mind blowing with his personal story of 'identity theft' by an autobot! We had lunch, networked and 'bumped' name badges. But in the afternoon I went to a few 'how to sessions' and got totally confused and worried about what I was doing. I was feeling a little disheartened but then had a very brief but useful one to one with Mammasaurus Annie Spratt who told me not to worry but enjoy. Feeling a little buoyed I went back into the main hall and entered a very ugly debate with the audience baying for blood. Very uncomfortable. But Jo Brand got everyone back on track and the day ended. I returned home however wondering if it had been worth the £75 plus horrific car journey down to London. I reassured myself that in a couple of days I'd get my 'bumped' contacts through so that would be great. But no, Blendology had used an incorrect email address and an excuse of "oops - sorry, I have problems reading" as the reason for the mistake! Great! So I need to 'reach out' to my fellow bumpers to say "hey, hi, we met!".
Thankfully I'm learning that the world of blogging is such that a little light can lead the way and encourage you anew. I came across a blog from Twins Plus Two. She wrote a great post about how blogging for her was a way to assert her individuality and reclaim herself, time for her away from being a parent and a way of hanging onto a part of life that takes a back seat because you are a parent. I loved it. It reminded me I am doing this for me and no-one else. So what if I'm using one platform over another, so what if it was not really worldwide wisdom but just my own thought process that I'm writing about. It shouldn't matter. I posted her a comment and she wrote back "Blogging doesn't need to be for a higher purpose to be valid, relevant and purposeful. Get writing again!". 

Then again tonight I had a response to my last post from (no relation) telling me to "just enjoy it and keep writing. It's a lovely blog to read". I'm beaming! Thank you. I've had lots of encouragement from family and friends but to get lovely feedback from a stranger is fabulous and both bloggers have helped reboot my system. Hurrah. 

So I'll do as was advised and I'll get writing and try and not leave long hiatus between each post. I'll also use the great advice from Annie Spratt and connect to fellow bloggers, soaking up their experienced ways and learning from other like minded people. I'm a blogger and a mummy. I'm also Moira Barnes. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

An early Christmas present

Where does the time go? How can it possibly be November and almost MID November at that? I confessed to DB the other night that I hadn't written a post in weeks, mainly because I'm worried things are now a bit boring and I'm coming across as a bit smug. I apologise if I am doing either of these things. And maybe I should write about the things I am finding frustrating over the constant feeling that I have that I am LOVING where we've moved to. But he suggests I try to do a bit of both. As while I am loving where we've moved to and the constant similarities with my life as a care free nanny in New England 17 years ago (only without the same energy levels) I do also have things I am worried about. 

The main one being that dirty word..... money. As now I am into my third month of not receiving a paycheck and we are having to spend great swathes of money (basement works) I am now wondering how the lovely rosy glow of 'stay at home mum' status will last. I need to economise but it's hard. I now have more time on my hands to enable me to mooch around shops like I've not done in years, but every time I spend money I have palpitations and wonder if we really do need that or this. In an attempt not to spend money I stay at home. But the flip side of this is I start to go stir crazy and am not a very happy mummy when everyone gets home. Yesterday I should have been cleaning the house as Wednesday is my 'cleaning day' (who'd have thought, once upon a time!) but I just couldn't muster up the energy. Mainly because I was troughing through the chocolate fudge brownies DD and I made on Tuesday! I'm cooking delicious meals for my family using the great ingredients I've taken time to source from different shops. But I'm too full of junk to enjoy them myself! I'm going to be the size of this house come Christmas! 

And then Christmas - I love Christmas. I always have, but another thing I've come to realise is I'm always trying to recreate the Christmas I had in New England when I was a nanny. I build myself up into such a frenzy trying to get things perfected that I inevitably have a massive row with poor DB around about Christmas Eve! Christmas usually equals money of course, so I'm worrying about how we'll do this year. But it surely has to be better than last years run up to Christmas. I was a nightmare to live with. We were having building work done on our London house so dust everywhere, it was DD's second birthday, I was coming to terms with the failure of another round of IVF and I was exhausted from working full time for a year. I actually asked DB if he wanted to divorce me as I wouldn't blame him if he did. We were barely speaking to one another come mid December but bizarrely my mum having a mini stroke just before Christmas seemed to start a healing process. DB rallied around me and insisted we go to my mums for Christmas Day instead of going to his mums as had been our first plan. He packed and did all the driving and kept asking me if I was ok. We spent a lovely few days with my mum who thankfully seemed to make a rapid recovery and then headed over to his mums and just relaxed and were a family again. 
Not rushing here or rushing there. My MIL and DD baked cookies together and I sat back and soaked it all up. This is what our life should be like. Slower, relaxed and family orientated. So as we drove away from my MIL's on a crisp New Years Eve morning last year, we passed a 'for sale' sign on what is now our lovely home and a plan started to hatch, that I still can't believe seems to have all come together. 

As a I write this it's quite therapeutic, a little self indulgent, but is a great reminder that yes, some things in life do cost money, like getting drains fixed, getting a damp basement dry, feeding a family, but what's more important is my husband and I have turned our life around. We are happier, calmer people; our daughter is a constant delight and has settled in so well in this new life; and we as a couple are stronger than ever. Now that is priceless, an early Christmas present. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Making friends

Part of my moving away from London which I've not enjoyed is leaving behind my fantastic friends. Thankfully with the likes of texting, emails, Facebook etc the wrench is not feeling as bad as I'd feared. In fact it may even be increasing the amount of times I'm in touch with them. As so often happens in London, even though you live 'down the road' from friends the trials and tribulations of commuting in London, especially when juggling parenthood with work, can often mean we are too busy and too tired to catch up. 

But you can't beat face to face contact with like minded friends and I worried I'd not meet people that could fit into this vacant mould. But being a mum is a great enabler. Quickly I'm meeting other mums with similar aged children and who seem to have a similar sense of humour and 'likes' as me. 

This week I've progressed from the smile and 'hello' of arriving at playgroup/school/church to being invited back to people's houses and in turn me inviting them back to Fulwood for a coffee. This might seem a minor step but I'm still buzzing from the talks of future get togethers, trick or treating invites and now the thought of writing out invites to DD's upcoming birthday extending this out to more than just 'us'. Such trivial things in the grand scheme of life but so important to my new 'stay at hone mum' status. I'm missing the daily banter with work colleagues about TV programmes, news events, latest fashion trends and toilet training advice (for DD of course, not me!). So am looking forward to the increasing circle of new friends and new topics and I'm sure DB is looking forward to me having other people to discuss 'Strictly' outfits with each week! 

I'm also buzzing from having my 'story' which will be appearing in Good Housekeeping mag in their January issue read back to me. It's succinct but reminds me how this life change has had an easy organic development over the course of the last year. I hope it reads well to everyone else (and I hope my picture looks good - please let them have erased my grey roots?!!) but its hard to believe that for once I'll not be reading something in a mag wishing "if only I had the guts to do that"! I did and so far its working out ok. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Getting back on track

So today I have a pretty good reason to keep my blog up to date. I'm off to London to appear in a photoshoot for Good Housekeeping magazine! I was interviewed over the phone last week and today is the opportunity to have some hopefully lovely photos taken of me to accompany the piece? Not sure of when it will I appear in print but as there are other women talking about changes they've made to their lives I'm assuming it may be a new year issue? 

Those who know me well, know I tend to wear my heart of my sleeve and so it will come as no surprise that I've been quite honest about my reasons for changing my life so dramatically (for me anyway). I'll not say more than that at this stage as I've not had the copy read back to me yet and I don't want to spoil anything for the mag. 

But today is the kick in the arse I think I need. I can't promote a blog that doesn't have any new content so I need to keep things up to date. 

Coming down to London as a 'visitor' as opposed to resident has had me thinking about the last month of living in the North East. Yes it's all still new and exciting but I've been pleasantly surprised how settled I feel already. But I think I'll enjoy my time down at a photoshoot on the other side of the lens, as over the years working in advertising I've had plenty of opportunities to be at shoots. But I've been there to make sure my paying client is getting the content they so desire, while also supporting my talented art director(s) when they are pushing for a something that will work artistically with the magazine we were representing. 
Today I don't have that worry - today I hopefully just have to be 'myself'. Problem with that is I'm ├╝ber self critical and don't love having my photo taken. I'm usually 'snapped' mouth open while I'm busy talking or laughing! Or scrunched up with a multitude of chins! Saying that my wedding photos were amazing. Will Pascal was our photographer and did a great job of putting everyone at ease so there is barely a bad a photo amongst the hundreds we had taken on the day. It being GHmagazine I'm pretty sure they'll have a great photographer, hair and make up team etc. but then I'm worried about the other women who are going to be there. I'm feeling a little insignificant in that my life change while mammoth to me, I'm not sure how I'll stack up against what stories these other women have? I'll report back but I just need to relax and enjoy this for what it is. A treat. 

But a quick trip to London is a lovely treat. I'll get to visit some friends, god children and ex colleagues, have my hair and make up done but then be back up North in time for 'tea' tomorrow night. I'm liking this life! 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Autumns glory

Today DD and I have had a great day. We've been exploring our new surroundings, setting up bird feeders and in doing that we've also become foragers for the day. My mother in law has apple trees in her garden and so a glut of apples shared with us inspired us to go blackberry picking - and we didn't need to go far. Our gardens, having been left unattended for the last two years, are a little 'wild' with the benefit of being well stocked with blackberry bushes. So to add to our glut of apples we managed to collect a glut of blackberries and spent a happy hour in the kitchen making fruit crumble. Yum what a delicious smell and what a satisfying reward to end our day. 

I've also been out and collected lots of elderberries which I am now researching what I can do with them - elderberry wine, jam or cough syrup? All new experiences so I'll let you know how I get on but the cough syrup might be the winner as I think I'm coming down with my first North Eastern cold!

Despite this onset, I'm needing less and less reminders of why I did this big move, especially as today DD and I have had such a fun and untroubled day, with absolutely no 'stress', that I have to admit I can't help feeling a little bit smug. I'm currently being blessed with gorgeous sunny autumnal days which helps. I'm sure I might not be feeling quite so smug on days we are snowed in? Or maybe I will? Without the stress of worrying what work might think if I was to be unable to travel, and the nursery being only a few doors away, I might actually enjoy a 'snow day' snuggled up on the sofa watching movies with DD and DB, fire roaring in the grate! Ahh the romantic images I have in my head! Hope they become reality. But as 'pay day' looms for everyone else and the stark reality that I'll no longer benefit from my 'media' salary hits, I really do hope all the positives and daily joys I'm experiencing being a full time mummy outweigh that part of my old life. 

But hearing DB recounting a happy evening playing with DD in the garden, an easy bed time and a relaxing evening for the pair of us, I think I know deep down that we are indeed very lucky and very happy. Hurrah! 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A whole life to unpack!

It's been almost a month since my last post! Oops how did that happen?.... Oh yes that's right I've had my mid life crisis life change. Today is my first 'day off' since I left work, so this may be a lengthy post to get me up to date. I hope you don't get bored?

My last day at work seems so long ago now. It would be nice to say its been one long holiday since but that would be a big fat fib. We did have a few days up in the Lake District in Keswick at the 'holiday house' as DD calls it, but it wasn't as restful as normal as we knew we had lots to do back in London to get ready for the move. So what was originally meant to be a 10 day holiday turned into a very short 4 days at the house and two long days travelling. 

I know that the general feeling is that house moving is one of the most stressful times of your life and I have to agree. It's also a little like childbirth, in that your memory of the trauma fades pretty quickly so you think "we only moved 18 months ago, how stressful can it be?" - well let me tell you it was STRESSFUL! From the moment the removal company we first went for emailed to say they suddenly couldn't move us, to that first week of being overwhelmed by brown boxes and where everything was, it's been one long headache. 

So we are NOT moving again for a very long time! 

To add to the normal stress I threw in a couple of parties - a leaving London BBQ on the bank holiday Sunday. This was the day after the heaviest rainfall we'd had all summer, but turned into a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon with a nice number of friends helping us say goodbye to our fab house and garden. And then once we moved I thought we may as well have a housewarming party the weekend after we moved in! Insane! But more about that later. 

We had packers come and pack us up the day before we were due to complete. We went with Aussie Movers in the end and they were really good. All uniformed, polite and quick at packing. Sometimes a little too quick as no sooner had I put something down to keep to one side, then it was packed away and I had to shrug my shoulders and think "I'll cope without that for a day". Not realising that a day would turn into almost a week until I found my toiletry bag containing my make up and other essentials! Yikes. 
Everything got packed up on the Thursday and after I'd picked up DD from her last day at the childminders (cue tears at the thought) we headed over to stay at a friends. DB came and had dinner with us and then headed back to the empty house to calm the poor traumatised cat and keep her company overnight. 

DD and her best buddie had a great time together and I also appreciated the time I got to spend with my friend. But then DB arrived the next morning with the cat ensconced in her cat basket and it was time for us to leave London. 

I'd come to London in 1997, which still seems like yesterday, and had planned to stay for a fun 6 months to earn some money before heading back to America where I'd spent the previous 2 years. But as those who live in London know, no sooner do you start earning money in London, there are ample opportunities to spend it, which meant I needed to earn more and so the treadmill begins!
So almost 16 years later after a lot of fun, a lot of spending, and a lot of friends, I was giving it all up! I sobbed quietly in the car as we pulled away from my dear friend and started our very long journey north. 

And what a long journey. We came across four accidents on the motorways on that journey. It was very slow going for us, but for the removal company, who'd sensibly set off at 5am they arrived almost as we were leaving! I had originally wanted a removal company who could deliver our furniture on the Saturday so we didn't feel we had to rush up North, but we couldn't find anyone who would do that, that weekend (apparently the busiest weekend for moving across the UK - who knew!). So we had the stress of trying to get up to our new home in Country Durham to be there to open up and direct which became quite apparent wasn't going to happen in good time. Thank god my mother in law is now living not far from this house. She was dispatched to pick up the keys, let the removal men in and suggest places for furniture to go. 
We arrived stressed, tired and hungry at 6pm - about 8 hours after we'd left London. It wasn't quite the romantic image I'd had in my head, of DB, DD and I all smiling as we turned the key in the front door and  entered together for the first time as owners. It was more rushing around, changing long over due nappies on DD, me going in search of food and drink for every hungry person and DB helping shift furniture (despite paying someone else to do this, but time was of the essence, only a bed and table had been unloaded - we had a whole life left to unload!).

At one point we didn't think we'd be able to stay in the house on that first night, there seemed like too much to do, but almost miraculously beds were put up quickly and we all flaked out once the removal guys left. Up early again the next morning, the chore of unpacking began and went on and on and on and will probably still keep going on for a while yet. 

We had a great interlude however last weekend when some family and friends came from all over to help us warm the house up. It was a great day - ample food, lots of laughter and the drink flowed. The kids both old and young had a great time in the garden and it was lovely to see DD playing so happily with her cousins. 

Up until then DD was 'coping' by surrounding herself with imaginary incarnations of all her buddies in London. It was breaking my heart and I was feeling so guilty about ripping her away from the happy life she had. But seeing her showing her cousins around 'her' house and around 'her' garden reassured me we'd done the right thing. She has started at the local nursery this week, just two days a week, but after her first full day she was buzzing! So I think she'll be ok. Her imaginary friends are lessening, although her imaginary version of her best buddy is with her constantly! To the point I have to make her  imaginary meals, hold her imaginary hand and have imaginary conversations with her! I guess my blog is my imaginary friend so I need to keep on top of checking in more often. 

As we approach the two week mark now, it's all beginning to feel very normal, very much our home, as routines are formed and the brown boxes lessen and I start to get organised. I feel very fortunate that I've survived the last month and I hope that my 'normal' is a happy one, where I'll make new friends, form new connections, but still get to keep in touch with old ones. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

It ain't over till its over!

So the end of my career has just taken place! What a strange feeling this is. It doesn't feel like the end but with the amount of 'stuff' I am carting home it must be. I'm sure I've forgotten to do something? 

I've been an absentee mother to my DD these last few weeks but with the full knowledge that I'll be very much there for her from now on makes me feel she will forgive me for that (and being a stinking hungover mother this morning)! Last night was a really fun night and I got to 'dance' with my hands up in the air, without a care in the world. I saw some old friends and I stuck to my strategy of G&T's all the way - I wanted to have fun but also remember my leaving do and all the people who came along. I'm sure I rambled on to many of them and I'm sure I dragged some people up dancing when they'd have probably preferred to sit back and watch. 

This morning was a bit of a struggle to say the least but it was also thankfully a 'daddy day' (the last one? I hope not) so I got away without having to change a nappy or struggle to persuade my DD to get dressed or brush her teeth and all the other responsibilities which will now fall to me solo in the mornings for at least five days a week! 

It was a strange day in 'work' as I was starting to get a bit miffed I wasn't being included on emails but then I'd be reminded that why should I be! We had bacon and sausage sarnies delivered in the morning, chocolates and bubbles at midday and pizza's at 1pm. We had speeches and tears, laughter and hugs and I made it off Broadwick St in one piece, but with it all feeling still unreal! 

What's brought it home to me now is having to answer my dear sweet DD's request of 'Can I come to your office and see your friends mummy?' with a 'No darling, I don't work in an office anymore.' Cue lump in throat and tears stinging my eyes.
I'll miss my 'office friends', expenses, nice lunches, taxis everywhere, regular manis and pedis, clinching the deals but I won't miss the stress or the juggling and I'll still keep in touch. 

So give my regards to Broadwick Street. It's been fun but its time to move on. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Compare the market - and I won as far as I'm concerned

I'm exhausted after a really long and hard day of work. Strange I realise as I am in my last week of being gainfully employed but the majority of the work I have carried out today is in the guise of my new role as 'home director' (I still balk at the 'other' title - I'll get used to it I'm sure).

You see in my effort to get organised and fulfill my role as home director I have spent most of my day and evening on comparison sites, looking at home and car insurance quotes! Oh the excitement! But strangely there does have to be something said about shopping around - if you have the time! 

I consulted my new fave website 'money saving expert' and was advised to check out four, yes 4, price comparison sites and then also check individual sites such as Direct Line and Aviva (who we currently use and seem to be so expensive now i have the time to look around). This is a v lengthy process but the results spoke for themselves as we will be saving so much money. The comparison sites all came back with fairly similar results BUT the site that offered the best (cheapest) quotes was All those years of putting up with 'simples' adverts have paid off. I'm not interested in getting my stuffed Meerkat toy (DD may disagree) what I'm delighted with is how much money we are saving on homes & contents for a much bigger house. Result. Plus compare also has come out tops on car insurance. Again saving us a huge amount of money! Yay!

Now as a 'sales person' for the last how ever many years, I have always got a buzz from hitting targets and beating budgets so the hard work of today has given me a glimmer of hope that my new life will, in fact still fulfill this side of me - if only in a slightly different manner? 

So tomorrows challenge, cheaper pet insurance, cheaper gas and electricity (for a bigger house?), cheaper phone, broadband and TV. Simples eh! 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Great Family Fun

This weekend I've stepped back in time and enjoyed a fabulous time with my family recreating our holidays of the 1970's! Thankfully with a good dose of 21st Century thrown in. To celebrate my mums 80th Birthday we returned to a very traditional family seaside resort of Lytham St Anne's and stayed at a hotel, The Dalmeny, we last stayed in when I was about 2 months old. Admittedly my memories of that time are a little hazy but I've lived through the retelling of stories and seen the faded photographs a million times to be able to chuckle through the memories.
We returned to Lytham St Anne's several times during my childhood but it seems The Dalmeny Hotel holds some very special memories for my mum and my older siblings. Mainly memories of good times with my dad from before he became ill with lung cancer. So this weekend we were treated to remembered times; when Dad and other dads at the hotel were roped into helping the owner (a Mr Webb) replace a pane of plate glass into a window, without any health and safety issues; dad rescuing an adventurous two year old sister who tried jumping in the pool without any arm bands - scarily recreated by my own DD; and bygone times when the male hotel staff would challenge the dads to games of football in the car park. 

It's been a very special weekend for different reasons. Obviously it is wonderful that we are able to celebrate my mum still being a fit and active matriarch of our family at the ripe age of 80. She's vowed to still be around to help us celebrate again in 10 years time. But it was also lovely to spend time together as a family as we don't get to see each other too much due to us all living a fair distance away from each other. 
Mother, brother and sisters aside it was seeing the younger generation of cousins getting to know each other that I will hold as a dear memory from this weekend. DD is now at an age were her memory lasts longer and she'll be able to recall events and faces from the weekend when we inevitably go through the photos we've posted on our google plus event (my brothers new obsession!). 

She had two exciting late nights running around with these new 'friends' and dancing at the disco (my heart melted), fun building sand castles and flying kites on the beach, running excitedly around the arcade on the pier and she loved playing with the big girls and boys as much as her younger twin cousins. This morning she named them all one by one, asking where they were and if they'd come to her house to play. With this move I sincerely hope they are more able to come and visit and I take heart in how easily she made 'friends' in about ten minutes. Maybe she'll adjust to the move quicker than I anticipated? I hope so. 

And I also hope we are able to make a trip to The Dalmeny and Lytham St Anne's a regular summer event for us all, helping to create new and precious memories our next generation can revisit in years to come. 

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The love of a mother

This is an emotional post, but I'm so angry and sad having watched the headline news this evening about the poor four year old boy who's mother so badly neglected him that he died in horrible circumstances. How could this have gone on? How could no one see how a smiling child become malnourished, bruised and surely withdrawn? 

I feel terrible that this boy lost his life, but I feel so much anger towards his mother. She just doesn't realise the gift she had been given. The innocent and unconditionally loving child that you watch with wonderment and amazement as they grow and develop into these amazing humans. I'm so lucky to have my daughter and I would so love to add to my family with another child but for whatever reason, its not meant to be for me. My faith is so tested when I hear about this cruelty towards children, and from a mother. Why? Why give a life only for it to be a life of pain, sadness and horror. In one sense the little boy is probably in a better place away for his torturers but why does any other human think its acceptable to cause such horror. How can a mother do this? Any person who inflicts unnecessary pain onto another being (human or animal) deserves being identified and punished but should also be offered some kind of rehabilitation. But when it comes to children I loose all compassion. Children are just so precious, so amazing, so wonderful, so much about the future of mankind that they have every right to live in a nurturing and loving environment. And if their birth parents are too backwards or damaged to realise all of this, there are so many people who have room in their hearts and homes to welcome that child in and offer them a safe and loving life.

When I sit and watch my sleeping daughter look so peaceful, I'm so grateful to have her in my life. She has added so much joy and fulfilment to my and DB's lives in the short time she has been with us, I just cannot understand the mentality of the cruel mother whom I hope rots in jail/hell. I don't like feeling like this, as I like to think I am a forgiving person but I cannot, cannot reconcile my feelings over this case. So so sad. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Let's re-connect

I've not been hiding away outside the Lindo Wing waiting for the royal baby's arrival but I'm not sure where the last week has gone? Time is really flying along and we're starting to get through some of the 'to do' list (slowly).

DB and I managed a grown up night out on the Tuesday thanks to my MIL and her sister being able to babysit for us (taste of things to come?). We experienced London at its best. Chilled English sparkling wine (Chapel Down) at Inn The Park in St James Park, a stroll through Covent Garden to Balthazar for pre dinner champagne cocktails and the most scrumptious steak frites I've had in a long time. The service was impeccable as you'd expect and we left a very happy couple, deciding to stroll hand in hand to Waterloo over the Thames taking in some fabulous London vistas. 

It was such a fabulous evening. We talked, we laughed and we remembered why we are a couple. Not just because of our fabulous DD but because we are best friends and when we met 8 years ago we clicked straight away and haven't looked back. Not that I'm searching for reasons why we are making this monumental move but it was another reminder that the way our London life was going our relationship may not have been sustainable. You really do have to spend time with each other as yourselves, not just as parents and all too often that was being put on the back burner. I can't wait for us to start spending more time together both as a family and hopefully as a couple. 

Speaking of family time we managed another item on our to do list - a duck tour! I worked summer hours last week (1 extra hour for three days) so I could attempt to leave work at 1.30 on the Friday. Not as easy as it sounds being that I have to rush off at 4.30 each day to do pick up, which meant a 7.30am start on some days! Exhausting but worth it. I managed to meet up with DB and DD in time for a Duck Tour on a really super hot Friday afternoon. I love it when DD sees me out of context of home life and her running, arms up in the air, to greet me was so wonderful. We boarded the yellow 'tractor' as DD christened the tour bus/boat and headed off into the streets I have spent 16 years living and working in, going past some genuinely amazing buildings and discovering some great facts.
We went past the 'Grand Old Duke of York' who it transpires was very indecisive and is the reason for the wording of the favourite nursery rhyme of the same name. When I lent down to nudge DD about who we were passing, I discovered she was fast asleep! She slept for most of the start of the tour in the end but I woke her, just as we dipped into the Thames which she squealed with delight at (or fright having only just woken up?!). After we finished the tour we headed back to the Southbank and a family dinner at Pizza Express (they have a great kids menu).

But my day wasn't done. I waved DD and DB off at the train station, then hopped on a bus and headed to another boat on the Thames, The Tamesis for summer cocktails. Its was a lovely end to the day. I caught up with some old, old friends I've not seen for years and with one of my bestest friends I just never get to see anymore, despite living and working not too far from each other. For the first time in an age she introduced me to some new people as her 'friend' not her 'best friend'. My heart sank slightly but after a bit of reflection I realise that despite this new title, we have too much water under the bridge for the drop of 'best' to have too deep a meaning. We'll always pick up wherever we left off and for that I am very grateful. I love her dearly and hope we get to re-connect. Who knows this move might mean I also get to spend more quality time with her when she comes to visit, or I head down to London to 'reconnect' every so often. I really do hope so. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Race for life - done!

It's taken me two days to feel ready to do a new post about my race for life. It just happened to be one of the hottest days of the century (exaggeration? Moi? Non!) and as DB pointed out to someone, I don't like sweating which is why I quit the gym!

But sweat I must - even while standing still, lining up to start the race. I was, as those who know me, standing with the walking lot. And there were a lot of us. 
It really was a moving experience (pardon the pun) as I read the messages people had pinned to their backs 'I race for life for...' that covered off, 'a cure', 'dearly departed', 'long term survivors' but what amazed me was how many people were doing the run for themselves. I read numerous messages that told me that person was fighting this hideous disease that cancer is. I was so humbled by their efforts that it made me realise how pathetic I was being walking and all because I didn't want to get too hot, or my knees to start hurting - so I ran!! In that heat!

I ran because I felt such a fraud walking. I ran because my dear friend Marie can't as she battles so bravely to fight off this hideous invader. I ran because I have no memories of my father who was taken from us when I was a 14 months old because of lung cancer. I ran because my mum was then left to bring up 4 kids under 10 on her own. I ran because surely there should be a cure for Cancer 40 years on from when my family were devastated in their loss.

And despite the sweat (there was lots) and the aching limbs, I want to do it again. I want to run because I can! I want to feel I'm doing something because I can't sit back and do nothing. Not while all those thousands of people were running/walking despite the parasite of cancer invading their bodies. So I'm going to do next years run and if I can, I'll attempt the 10k Race for Life

I started my 'mum on the run' blog because I am running away from my crazy life, but maybe, just maybe I'll actually start running for real. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

I need to get running!

OMG - its just days away from my 5k Race For Life! And I have not prepared for it in anyway! Well unless you count chomping down on a lemon meringue Krispy Kreme doughnut like I have today! Preparing in the negative!

But aside from that and aside from doing my usual walking to and from the station, via the childminders, I have done very, very little prep! I sprained my ankle shortly after signing up and used that as in initial excuse for not doing much, but then I've just ambled along until panic has now set in. This will definitely be a walk in the park especially as the weather down here in London is set to be a scorcher on Sunday.

This has got me thinking though - how am I going to keep up my already rubbish fitness levels once I've moved to a part of the world that will necessitate using the car more than I currently do as I'll no longer be able to walk to the shops, bars, restaurants etc, which is about the extent of my fitness regime currently.

I'm trying to work out if our limited household budget will stretch to a gym membership? Surely cheaper up in the North East but will I really use it? Or will cleaning the new 'mansion' as one of my responsibilities as Home Director be enough for me? I do feel I should be setting a better example to my DD in the department of fitness, as her routine is going to involve less walking/scooting once we move. We'll be 7 doors away from the nursery, so not a long commute and the local playground is no where near as exciting as the one here in Raynes Park (Cottenham Park if anyone is interested). So I need to introduce some sort of home exercising that will be fun for DD and ultimately for me. I think I need to head over to fabulous Pinterest (my big indulgence - how life has changed) for some shared ideas.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Trying to keep up

My to do list just keeps getting longer. And the longer it gets the deeper I bury my head in the sand! There's work 'to do', home 'to do', moving 'to do' and now blog 'to do'! It seems to be bedtime before I have time for my blog but by then I'm prone to mindless drivel! Or maybe it all is anyway? I'd love to hear any feedback.

One of the things on my home 'to do' list was take our old electric toothbrush along to Waterloo Station this morning, to exchange it for a shiny new one from Colgate. They had gone to great lengths to publicise a great sounding offer to exchange your old toothbrush for a brand new one worth £169. Amazing - but too good to be true? They totally underestimated the number of people who would take up the offer with hoards of people around the stand when I arrived at 8am and no stock to offer out to anyone. Plus community police trying to calm the crowds!! I'm just reading an update on it on MoneySavingExpert and I don't think the promise of 'come back later' is going to be fulfilled. I'm sure they had a great social media plan for this, but instead they are going to have a huge social media headache! Ouch. The twitter feed is on fire with it at the moment.

Next - the move 'to do' list. I need to get my head around getting a good removals quote. But that requires time and effort that I wish I had the energy for. I could get people to come round but they can't seem to come at a reasonable time or I can fill in forms (I hate filling in forms) and email it off! Is there such a thing as 'move planners' - in the same vein as wedding planners? If there is and they are cheap let me know! I also need to work out how I get the new house clean before all the furniture gets moved in. I thought this would be easy as the house we are moving too is currently unoccupied. So my idea was to have some professional cleaners go in the day before we arrive to get the job done. They'd be insured - right? But no the vendors have said a big fat 'no' on that one, so will have to tackle the job surrounded by unpacked boxes and it probably won't get the deep clean I was after. Another example of me being thwarted in my quest to get 'organised'.

I forgot a 'to do' list! A time for me 'to do' list! The weather is glorious again and unbelievably is set to stay longer than anyone now expects. Dilemma now is the complete lack of summer clothes that I still feel comfortable wearing. Although my DD is now two and half, I still don't know what's going on with my body. But I also need to go and get new clothes as, quite frankly, clothes I was wearing pre pregnancy are out of date and out of shape! However whenever I go to buy clothes for me, I invariably end up buying some cute/gorgeous/adorable outfit for DD! Anyone else find that happens? I love, love, love having a daughter but has it come at the expense of me having any kind of current style!?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Getting organised in a disorganised world

One of my aims with this monumental move is to have the time and the head-space to get organised. With this in mind I've started organising the end of August move. But am wondering why I bothered.

I started doing some things last month and logged onto a great we site

I used this site last year when we moved (with the intention of staying put for about 10 years!) and it made informing all our utilities, catalogues, charities etc of our move really simple. And what's made me even happier I did this - is this year its as simple as a matter of a few clicks and its all change again. Genius.

But it seems that not all the people I've been able to 'magically' contact take note of the change date, so I've just spent a frustrating 10mins on the phone to TMobile asking them to revert back to my current address which they had changed to the new address but I have to remember to then call them again to change to the new address nearer to the move date. 
I called Virgin Media to cancel our account and lament at the fact they don't serve the village I'm moving to - but according to their very nice, Geordie customer services rep, I'm too early to cancel - I can't set a date too far in the future and will need to remember to call back in 25 days!!

Another part of the iammoving site is which allowed me to get in touch with loads of moving companies with the need to input my details just once. BUT they all then called me within minutes (one within seconds) of me pressing send and I've now lost the details they fired at me down the phone!!

So despite my best efforts at getting organised it seems the world around me is either too organised, can't cope with someone being too organised or I am failing at the first hurdle! 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Best Birthday Party ever?

While I'm still gainfully employed there is still 'work' to do, but last night was the enjoyable part of that work. 

Best magazine celebrated its 25th birthday last night at St Martins Lane Hotel and a great time was had by all. We hobnobbed with our 'celebrity' columnists who were all brilliant and lovely 'real people' not just 'faces'. Nadia Sawalha was hilarious and lovely, Eamonn Holmes became a 'sales person' up on stage bigging up one of the sponsorship deals we are working on and our own editorial team did an amazing job of entertaining the often spoilt contacts who we are constantly trying to impress, which makes our jobs easier. 

Aside from that though, this was a rare 'night off' for me. Which of course meant that I let loose last night and ended up dancing in Whiskey Mist nightclub (night club - me!) at midnight! The free vodka was free flowing and as a result I've really struggled all day! In the 16 years I've lived in London I have never, ever thrown up on the train/tube. But Piccadilly Circus was almost christened with the delights of my night on the tiles. 

But as time is running out for nights out in London Town, I need to man up and head out again tonight - hopefully a sensible dinner with grown up 'not wanting to get drunk' friends (do they exist?). 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Occupation please?

Yikes! What a shock I had today when filling out some forms relating to our new life. 
Question: what is your occupation? Simple eh? But what do I call myself? 

Housewife, homemaker, stay at home mum, domestic engineer? What is the modern definition of a housewife? I put the question into google and I didn't like what came back. It doesn't look like its changed much in 50 odd years. Although there is the saccharin American versions that begger belief (I'm thinking of the Real Housewives of Orange County here) and will be so far removed from what I am becoming, so we won't count them. 

But what is a housewife, or a house husband if not the person who looks after the home while their partner goes out to work and earn the money that will pay for everything the housewife/husband does. I have to admit, I want to whisper as quietly as possible that I'm about to become a housewife. I've had 'Director' in my job title for so many years now I think I should I fashion a new term 'Home Director' to make myself feel better about it all? Or should I just shut up and put up and get on with the one thing I've been yearning for since I became a mother. Getting to spend time with my daughter.

I want my daughter to grow up knowing me and more importantly learning from me about life. I realise she can do this at present but I want to 'be there' in the moment with her, not checking my emails and blackberry every few minutes. I want to be as good a mother as I believe I can be. I won't be perfect but I'll do my best. Equally I want to be there for DB and support him going out to work and earning the money we need to enjoy life. It will take some adjustment, I won't kid myself it won't, but as long as the rewards of quality time with family are there I will accept the dubious but obvious 'occupation' of housewife - but I might go with the title of Home Director for now!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Making the most of what we've got

Well yesterday who'd have thought what a sunny day today was going to be! For starters DD didn't wake us till about 8am (result) and we were able to have a very relaxed Saturday morning. As the sun was shining we packed a picnic and headed to RHS Wisley down the A3 from us. 

We've become very middle aged this last year. RHS membership and National Trust memberships! But they are worth every penny so far. Today we had such a lovely day at Wisley. We got to watch an entertaining Punch & Judy show (our third this year - is there a P&J renaissance or is it just the 'stage' we are at with parenting? Answers on a post card please!), saw some vintage cars, had a fun tractor ride and marvelled at some amazing and gorgeous plants. 

 Us on the tractor ride! 

We've got limited weekends left now so we must get organised and make a plan rather than just say we will. Time is running out and I'm starting to get scared. 

It's really happening

Today I received the registration pack for the nursery which will be about 7 doors away from the new house! Gulp! 
DB and I have decided that it would be DD's best interests to have some formal structure in her weeks once we move. 
I've laboured over this as I feel I'm cheating a little when I say I'm going to be a full time mum, only for me to then turn around and send DD to a nursery. But as opposed to her being looked after by someone else for four days as she currently is (and rather brilliantly so I may add) I will be there to do drop off AND pick up on the days she is with someone else and I will of course be with her all the other days to enjoy her company and marvel at her progress first hand. DD has flourished at the childminders we send her to currently. I am going to be in pieces on the last day she attends that setting as they have helped mould my daughter from her being 11months old and I am truly grateful. When I was deliberating who we would send her too when I was gearing up to going back to work, worrying about how DD would cope at the hands of someone else, would she forever hate me for leaving her in strangers hands, I now realise that was a great move for us. All of us. The daily mixing with other children of different ages has helped her language and confidence skills immensely. She is able to adapt easily with people she doesn't really know which I'm hopeful will help her make new friends when we move.

Today was a case in point - I dragged DD with me to meet up with an old friend of mine and her son for lunch. There was initial shyness on DD's part but that soon gave way to great belly laughs and giggles, holding of hands and toddler conversations. 

DD wants her new pal to come over to our house soon and I for one want to encourage that! We have such a short time left now to see friends we must get on and organise our weekends so we get to see and do all the things we have  on our London 'bucket list'. 

That reminds me DB and I are off to see 'The Boss' on Sunday! Grandma is coming down to look after DD and she arrives tomorrow! Eek - have been having so much fun with friends today I've not done a jot of cleaning! After our successful lunch DD and I came home just in time to greet our lovely NCT friends. We thankfully have a regular Friday date which involves lots of silliness, hunts for bears and tigers and then a lovely tea, far too often at their house (sorry) but I decided we'd do pizza making at ours. As a consequence of both 'play dates' today I only managed one load of laundry, just managed to unload the dishwasher but absolutely no cleaning of bedrooms, bathrooms, ANYWHERE! Yikes. Bucket list will have to wait as guess what I'll be doing tomorrow morning...oh wait, make that today. Good night! 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Hectic Thursdays

So here we are, a perfect reminder why I'm doing this crazy midlife change. Tomorrow is one of my every other Fridays my current employer allows me to be off work so I can spend a lovely day with my dear daughter (DD). How delightful!
But the pay off is I have a crazy busy Thursday no matter how organised I try to be. This means I leave work later than I intend and the knock on effect? I'm late picking up DD so she'll no doubt be cranky, which will lead to shouting, screaming and stomping of feet  - from both if us, tears before bedtime and no energy to cook a meal for the adults! Then I'll be fast asleep on the sofa just as dearly beloved husband (DB) will want to try and have an intelligent conversation with me! 
As I say a perfect reminder of why I am quitting this crazy, hectic London life in the hope I'll have time to breath and spend quality time with those I love. 

Yes, I need that occasional wake up call as suddenly everything in London was taking on a rosy glow! 
Last week we had news that DD had in fact got a place at the fantastic nursery school up the road from us! Then on Friday a headhunter emailed me about an amazing creative position at a rival company that 6 months ago I would have jumped on! So I was beginning to wonder if we were doing the right thing - but we are. I know we are as deep down I would never have agreed to this if there was a way I could have realistically juggled life working at the speed and intensity I was while being a good mum. And I am a mum first and foremost - I don't mind admitting that, as its the greatest gift I've ever been given and I don't want to take it for granted. That's why I'm mum on the run! 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Mum on the run

So here goes - this is the start of a new journey. Resigned from my media career at Hearst UK a few weeks ago which means its now slowly sinking in that I am really doing this, really leaving a career that has been both exciting and frustrating in equal measures. But the last 18 months of juggling that life and my life as a mother just never felt right. So with great trepidation I chose daughter over work (who wouldn't) and from the responses from those around me, I'm beginning to wonder why I've not done it sooner. I'm hearing a lot of 'envious', 'great choice', 'exciting', 'brave' comments and each new email/text/phone call is making me feel stronger and stronger about this major life course change. 
So join me on the journey. It will be a bumpy road I'm sure but one worth taking.