Little Bits of Things

20161130_130016A miracle happened last night.  I finished the shampoo and conditioner AT THE SAME TIME.  That has never happened – EVER.  It is quite fortuitous, as I am changing brands.  I would have been in complete bits if there was a bit left of the old shampoo or conditioner.  I couldn’t mix types – so I think I would have had to waste some and that would have hurt.  It is so hard being a control freak sometimes.

I hate little bits of things.  The worst is when you make a cup of tea and you put the milk in and there is only a tiny dreg of milk left in the bottle.  You know that if you put the bottle back in the fridge nobody else will use it, they will just go straight for the full new bottle, so it will be left and ignored.  Yet you can’t throw milk out, that’s just awful, but if you put it in your tea you will end up with a horrible milky mess and that is even worse if you are a serious builder’s tea fanatic like me.  So, I drink the dregs from the bottle – which drives Hubby to distraction – hee hee!!!!!

Chocolate Spread is also another little bit thing.  It’s a messy business – Chocolate Spread.  Well it is according to my children.  They seem to get the stuff everywhere and then when the jar is three quarters empty they give up trying to get it out.  So, I find a multitude of nearly finished Chocolate Spread jars.  Drives me NUTS!!!

This is a thing that seems to happen all over the house – toilet rolls with 2 sheets left on, toothpaste too hard to squeeze – you get my point.  But it also happens with all the little jobs, the 10 minute jobs, the little things to remember, the things that make my lists so very, very long.

As one of them wanders through the kitchen whilst I am cooking dinner they will mention that they have a form that needs filling in for school or their Kung Fu shoes are too small or could I just check the bank account to see if such and such is paid.

Could you just phone such and such, could you sort out such and such, could you pop into town and buy such and such, could you go to the post office on your way back from the school run, could you fix the hem of those trousers, sew a button on, find that thing that was lost six months ago, and the lists go on and on.

Little bits of things, lots and lots of little bits of things. Those lots of little bits of things take up so much of my time and it’s so hard to try and remember them all, especially when you are being told them whilst cooking a meal/cleaning the toilet/mowing the lawn.  So, I have got a notepad next to my computer and have started to ask them to write things down for me.  My memory is not what it used to be.  Don’t worry I am not losing my marbles – it’s just that you can only fit in so much, before all the other stuff starts to fall out your ears!

It must be wonderful to only have one task a day.  Go to Work or School.  Then come home.  The end.  Gosh that must be nice, I am sure it would make me happy.  Or I could grow another couple of sets of arms – hmmm maybe then I could do 200 things at once instead of the 100 things I do now.

Sigh, well at least I had my minor miracle and that has made me happy.  To finish the shampoo and conditioner at the same time – I think it must mean something, it must be an omen –my life will be all calm and balanced from now on.  OOOOh how exciting!

I Dropped My Balls

Last week as you may know I was very ill.  I did manage to feed the children, get them to school, work and do some of the washing. But I am afraid quite a few of the other things I juggle got dropped.  I dropped my balls!!

Now I was hoping that others in the household would notice that I had dropped some balls and you know…maybe pick them up for me.  But alas as is usual, my dropped balls weren’t even noticed.  I always pick up the balls dropped by them, why, oh why can’t they pick up mine?  The moan of mothers everywhere.

So, I tried giving them some of my balls, with detailed instructions on the requirements for each of the balls.  To my utter horror though as I came out of my fever, I found those balls still lying around unloved.

This meant that along with the new weekly balls I had to juggle, I now had to add all the previous ones. And this time of year, there seem to be so many balls – bloody Christmas….bah humbug.

Luckily, I had a child and Hubby free weekend. Oh my, oh my, I cannot explain how utterly blissful this was. I made sure the house was clean, when they left – and guess what, it STAYED clean, tidy, calm and serene ALL weekend.  I know – how shocking, I should be more messy!!  I bought myself a microwave meal with a plastic fork – VOILA – no cooking or washing up. Gorgeous!!!!

20161122_184426Then I wrote a huge long list of all my balls and all possible future balls.  I love lists, but bloody hell this was a big one.

I didn’t watch TV, I didn’t sit on the couch.  I just worked my way through my list, one thing at a time in urgency priority order.

I cannot imagine how I would be coping now if I hadn’t had that opportunity of a free weekend.  But now I feel fabulous, my balls are all in order and juggling nicely.  In fact, I am a bit ahead of the game…shhhh…don’t tell anyone… I have even finished all the Christmas crap….. WOOOHOOOO!!!!

Hello Tonsillitis, My Old Friend?

Ah Mr Tonsillitis, haven’t seen you in a while. Since university, was it?  Yes, I remember now, 4 times you came to visit me in the good old days.  I remember spending weeks huddled under the bedclothes in a delirium of fever and a red raw throat.  Goodness that was not far off 30 years ago. Where has the time gone?

001-2I am so sorry I was not very welcoming when I realised it was you.  In fact, I scared the children with my “WTF!!!!!!”, when it finally clicked. I thought you were just a cold at first, but I started getting all wobbly and achy and then I started to remember.

Now why have you come to visit again?  I remember the doctor at university saying that it was because I was living a student’s life – too much drinking, not a very good diet, not enough sleep and too much stress.

Well I don’t drink as much; in fact, I think university put me off alcohol forever and I eat a lot better now.  I still don’t get enough sleep and stress is a normal way of life isn’t it?  But I haven’t had enough sleep for the last 13 years – I am a parent after all and stress is because I have bills to pay. So why, all of a sudden, are you back Mr Tonsillitis?

You see it was fine that you visited me in university because I had time to curl up under the bedclothes and just recover.  I had a week, I had time, so much time. The doctor was even nice enough to write me a note so that my grades were not affected.

But visiting now is a bit different – you see in university nobody needed me.  Now I cannot disappear under the bedclothes for a week.  But oh, my I really, really wanted to and probably really, really needed to. Alas it was not to be.

I just kept going of course, whilst you were here Mr Tonsillitis.  Work had to be done.  No nice doctor to write me a note saying if I am not up to par, please forgive.  School run had to be done – gosh thinking about it, I must have been even more dangerous on the roads than normal – ha ha ha ha!!!   Dinner cooked, clothes washed etc. etc. etc.

So, although I appreciate your efforts to search me out after all these years Mr Tonsillitis, could I ask that you bugger off back to where you came from, because I don’t really like you and you are not very helpful and I just haven’t got the time to deal with you.

Come back when the kids have left home and I am retired.  In fact, come back and visit the rest of the members of the house, because they seem to have the time to deal with you and maybe they will understand why Mummy/Wifey wasn’t functioning at the usual high level she normally does.

Taking Responsibility For Your Own Learning

learning

I found this on Pinterest.  I love Pinterest – a wonderful time waster!  But also, it can be a handy tool for finding useful things to inspire children.  And this came up just at the right time.  I have printed it off and given it to both my children.

Baby girl is going through her last year of Junior School and they have horrible nasty exams at the end of this year.  They spend all year getting programmed to pass these tests, only to spend the first year of Senior School being deprogrammed.  It’s all a bit silly.  But this is life and we all must sit tests and you may as well learn how to do them properly.

She sits in front of her maths homework and throws up her hands in exasperation. She declares, in her best drama queen way, that she cannot do it, she is dumb and why does she have to do maths if she is going to be an actress anyway!  I patiently explain that if she becomes a famous actress she will need to manage her money.  Yes, you can hire someone to do that, but you need to check them in case they try to steal from you.  Plus, if you don’t pass maths, you will not get into drama school and will end up cleaning toilets for a living!  (Not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s just her least favourite chore I have asked her to do!)

I went through the above list with her.  We have had a big chat about if she wants to be an actress (sigh) then she is going to have to put in the work to get there.  That means trying hard at all areas of her schooling.  Don’t think it has sunk in just yet, but I am going to drum it into her until it does.

Now Complicated Boy has hit Year 8 at Senior School and the homework level has picked up a pace.  I have never been a parent that has sent their child into school with wonderful projects that I have done – I have always made them do it and then cringed in embarrassment when you see all the other children’s beautiful works.  But heh ho, I have already been to school, I am not doing their homework, they are meant to do it to learn.

Well anyway, Complicated Boy was constructing a bunk house from the second chapter of Grapes of Wrath.  And having quickly googled it myself, I asked him if his finished model was it?  And he said yes.  So, I pulled out the above list and asked him to read it and then I asked him again if that was it?  And he said no.

We had a chat about what he wanted to achieve in his life and how I couldn’t help him at school much anymore, he needed to step up and take responsibility.  It was a good chat; he feels that he isn’t doing so well this year and I asked him how he could do better.

We came up with a plan that he was to approach the teachers and ask them to either explain what he had done wrong, or how to do it properly or how to achieve better.  And he has – much to my surprise – it’s hard for 13-year-old boy to approach an adult and admit that you need help.  I found out that his goal is to do well enough at school that he doesn’t have to write stuff – e.g. work in an office, he wants to work in a science lab.  He hates writing so much and so I wrote that above his list – GOAL – NO Writing!  It might seem funny to other people visiting our house and seeing the list – but he knows what it means.

I have taken the above list on board myself.  I may be at the older end of my forties, but I still like to learn and I think it shows the children a good example.  I am trying to learn Italian on my tablet (tried it once before in University, but still can’t speak a word).  I am doing it more to keep my synapses connected, but also because it’s fun.  AND BIG NEWS I have signed up to do a 6-month course next year.  You see I obviously have a far too much time on my hands (OH MY GOODNESS WHAT HAVE I DONE), but it looked interesting and I kept thinking about it and I just want to do it – for no reason other than I want to learn.  I am going to be doing a Social Media Management Course – I know sounds fun right!!!  Well it does to me.  So, I shall be joining the children at the dining room table to do my homework and I will show them that you always need to continue to learn!  ALWAYS….

Secondhand Rose

20161103_114616This is a snapshot of my wardrobe and everything that you see is either second-hand or homemade or maybe from the sale rack at Primark (for those not in the UK – a really, really, cheap clothes shop).

I love clothes and in my young and single days I would spend rather a lot on very nice clothes – some of which I still own and love today.  But now, being a budget conscious working mother, the thought of going into a REAL shop and buying clothes at the REAL price brings me out in hives.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went into a REAL shop.  Even when I went home to Australia, I only went into the second-hand shops!

So, I am going to tell you how I do a really, really, effective second-hand clothes shop.

  1. Find a town near you that has filthy rich people living in it. You see if you were to second-hand shop in my town – not many filthy rich people here – you won’t really have much luck finding the nice quality stuff.  That is because us poor people don’t go out and buy silly expensive clothes and then take them to the charity shop.  We either keep them and wear them every day to get the value from them or we sell them on eBay.  We aren’t just going to waste our money and give expensive clothes away!  I’ve found gorgeous clothes in the filthy rich towns that still have the labels on!!!!  WHO DOES THAT, spend a fortune on clothes, hang it in the wardrobe for a bit, never wear it and then decide you need more space to hang more expensive clothes, so you give UNWORN clothes away!  The mind boggles.
  2. A week day is the best day to go shopping, and start early, wear comfortable easy to get changed in and out of clothes and take a big empty shopping bag and a bottle of water. You see this isn’t a stroll around the shops glancing at the pretty display type of shopping – this is a purpose driven mission and you must prepare seriously.
  3. Do not go into any other shop other than second-hand clothes shop. You must be focused and you must not be distracted from the main objective.
  4. When you walk into a second-hand shop, start at one side and work your way around the rails. Ignore the sizing. Rummage and touch everything, take your time. Do not go for plain boring things – look for gorgeous fabric, soft fabric, colours, good brand labels, things you wouldn’t normally try.  The point is that you can go to your cheap new clothes shops to get plain t-shirts, trousers, skirts etc.  Second-hand shopping is about the things you would never ever buy normally, or even try on normally or ever be able to afford normally.
  5. Try everything on. Even too small sizes or too big sizes – you never know what will fit or how – just try.  Try things on that you think probably won’t suit you – but the colours are gorgeous – because you never know once it’s on, it actually might just suit you after all. BE BRAVE – this is not something that is going to cost huge amounts of money, if it makes you smile and is fun – BUY IT! And there are no snotty sales ladies trying to sell you things – so don’t be embarrassed to try everything on.  The people working in the charity shops are happy that you are there and aren’t in for the hard sell.
  6. Think outside the box!! My Baby girl is good at this, currently her favourite jumper is actually a winter wool dress for a 3 year old, but on her it’s a gorgeous tight jumper.  Her other favourite is little dress with printed bows on and a peter pan collar – which is actually a small ladies mini dress – but fits her lovely as a long dress.  And this is my latest think outside the box.

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It’s a pair of curtains that I got for £2.95 and I LOVE the colours.  This weekend, I am going to sew them together at the edges and thread some elastic through the top and I will have a fab new, gorgeous skirt.

I do hope that I have inspired you, because it is one of my most favourite things to do – a proper full on second-hand shop followed by a large cappuccino.  Sipping that frothy coffee whilst you look over your bargains and feeling properly smug that you now own a “insert expensive brand name here” for a tiny fraction of the price, is such a lovely feeling.  And if you are having a cappuccino in the filthy rich town you have just plundered, you can look around the café at all the silly women wearing their expensive brands, that they would have spent a fortune on and giggle to yourself.  You have got to love that!