On heatwaves, gratitude, and not blogging

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Hey! So I've been away for a little while. I've been piling the pressure on myself to do/be everything to everyone at the moment, on very little sleep, and it culminated in a couple of TN attacks, which was nice, so I figured something had to slide.

Something did slide: blogging. And writing in general.

But I'm back! Kind of. I mean the heatwave put me off doing anything. I don't know about you but everyday things take about ten times longer during a heatwave. Plus, every surface of my house seems to be covered in a fine layer of grime and stickiness. I'm presuming it's a combo of ice lollies on tap and bare feet padding around the house. We're weaning the baby too which means everything is covered in little splodges of baby porridge. (BTW baby porridge = stronger than cement. DO NOT LET THAT STUFF DRY.) I am on constant clean-up mode but nothing is ever actually clean.

So here's a round-up post of a few things that are on my mind before I try and pick up blogging again:

1) Your health is your wealth

Living with a chronic pain condition that flares up during stressful times means that, ironically, stressful times become even more stressful because you are actively trying to avoid getting stressed. I've been trying to focus on being more peaceful at the moment, which has helped, but every pain attack brings on these nice feelings of existential doom. Every time the pain hits I'm worrying about further pain that could lie ahead and what it means for me and my family.

I don't talk about my TN much, mostly because it's under control 95% of the time (that percentage may be dropping, but we'll see I guess). But because it's been behaving itself, I've totally forgotten about the emotional impact it has. I will probably write a post about it at some stage because I can't afford therapy it's nice to talk about this kind of stuff in a realistic way.

I read the quote recently 'your health is your wealth' and that got me thinking. I should be so, so much more grateful for what I have. For the pain-free days. For healthy children. It's easy to live in a state of fear all the time, especially recently, given recent events. But you know what? A lot of life goes sliding on by without me feeling particularly thankful for it at all. As sucky as the current pain is, I am happy that I've had months and months of little-to-no-pain. I'm grateful for it.

Which leads me onto ...

2) Grateful children

Do they exist?

My daughter has discovered the phrase 'I'm bored' or 'this is BORING' (along with the word 'soooo' as in 'this is SOOO BORING'). I think I've actually chipped a filling from grinding my teeth at her when she says it. However - she is very small and doesn't really get how fortunate she is to be, you know, her.

On the one hand I want to tell her all the things she has and that she should be grateful for the one point seven million toys she has, but on the other hand, I am trying to figure out where she's coming from with this, which probably boils down to three things -

one - kids get bored quickly

two - I probably don't play with her enough

three - she doesn't see us being grateful enough.

I'm very aware of how much of a 'more-more-more' culture we live in. We want more all the time - more stuff and more experiences. Every moment of each day feels like it needs to be filled with something. The thing is, boredom is good for kids. I want her to get that sometimes we just need to breathe and appreciate what is already in front of us. And that has to start with me doing it too.

Anyway, more of that another time. Has anyone successfully done some kind of family gratitude jar or something similar? I'm pondering it at the moment and don't want to go on Pinterest for family stuff because it currently makes me feel rather inadequate. I'm back to pinning fantasy outfits and food instead ;)

3) The Motherload

In case you don't know, the Motherload is an awesome community of mothers sharing their lives together, being honest, supportive, and uplifting each other as much as possible. I'm excited to say that I am now blogging for them! Which also explains the quietness on my own blog - I've been trying to write some bits and bobs for them first. You can find my first Motherload post, on the importance of hearing that you're doing well, over here. Please comment on it/share it if you fancy, and give the Motherload Facebook page a like - it really is a funny and lovely group!


Anyway, that's all for now - I'm off to spend a rare day off with my husband where we have nothing planned :) I'll be back on Tuesday with a birthday post!

Wipe-clean Dinosaur Activity Book & first steps towards writing!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how much small children have ahead of them. They will learn to read and write, opening up a whole new world of communication. They will learn how gravity works, how to add numbers together. They will learn how to turn ingredients into a meal, how to play sports, how to ride a bike, how to swim. They will learn how relationships work, how to express themselves clearly, how to manage their own emotions.

My daughter is constantly learning. Her brain is like a sponge. She watches me closely to see how I do things, and then tries to do them herself. Even if she's not quite there yet. Recently she's become a bit preoccupied with writing: shopping lists, birthday cards, party invitations, names of family members and friends.

Of course, it's all scribbles and lines. But she gets the concept of writing. That she can make marks, and those marks mean things.

There are lots of ways you can support your child in their first attempts at writing: by offering lots of opportunity to draw and paint, by playing with things like playdough to strengthen their grip and threading beads to improve their fine motor skills. Children work out a lot of things in their play, without realising they're doing it. It's a natural process of growing up.

We've also started looking out for these wipe clean books. We were sent one recently by Sarah Keeler of Usborne Books. It is a particularly good one for Jellybean because she is very into dinosaurs.

I am impressed by how much they cram into this book - each page has multiple activities. Jellybean has had a go at drawing numbers, connecting the dots to complete pictures, counting, spotting and circling insects, completing mazes, and drawing footprints. There are eleven double-page spreads in this book and each one has at least four things to do.

It's teaching her pen control in a really low-key, 'let's do this fun thing' way. I'm always looking for things like this to do with her while the baby sleeps, so this is perfect.

There are lots of Usborne wipe-clean books to try:

Sarah Keeler's page has a good selection that you can find here!

I asked Jellybean what I should say about this book and she said 'say that ... we love it!'

Which sums it all up really!

I received this book from Sarah Keeler, independent Usborne book seller in exchange for an honest review. If you are interested in purchasing this or any other Usborne books, check out her page. Also, be sure to check out her VIP group, where she runs competitions and holds special offers on lots of lovely books. Thanks Sarah! :)

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Let's not talk about the election

Thursday, 1 June 2017

I wrote an impassioned post about why you should vote in this next election (BECAUSE YOU SHOULD VOTE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, JUST GO AND VOTE, WOMEN DIDN'T HURL THEMSELVES UNDER HORSES FOR NOTHING) (sorry, some of that post seems to have escaped into this one) but I deleted it.

Because I'm just finding it all incredibly depressing.

I posted a thing on Facebook about young people not voting and how over-65's vote and therefore they are the main age group for deciding the future of the country, but I think it came across as slightly ageist (even though I didn't see it that way, but I am a bit of an idiot really) and then I ended up deleting it because I felt bad.

Anyway, a discussion ensued (!) and it became obvious why people don't want to vote: because they don't know who to choose.

So, that's that.

I still think people should vote, and I know which way I'm voting, but I am not in any way optimistic that the way I want things to go will happen. Frankly, I think we all know how it's going to go down.

(But then again Donald Trump is President of the United States. So, technically, anything can happen. We could end up with Phillip Schofield as our Prime Minister and I wouldn't really be surprised.)

I wake up at 5.30 every day with the baby, who regards himself as King of the House first thing in the morning and likes to loudly declare that by screeching and babbling at the top of his lungs, and the only thing on is BBC News. And all I'm going to hear for the next week or so is election stuff. 'Jeremy Corbyn has promised the actual moon on a stick this morning if Labour win the general election - Theresa May has branded him a 'ridiculous bearded loon' - but more on this after Kermode's Film Review!'*

Basically: we will all vote for something and then something will happen and then more things will happen that are generally out of our control and we can just hope for the best. In the meantime people will talk a lot and some people will become nearly feral with anger about the whole thing.

That's about as optimistic as I can manage.

Meanwhile, I've compiled a list of conversation starters. As you know, British people find small talk quite painful and therefore we rely on moaning about politics and the weather in order to connect with people. Listen: the political climate in our country is dreadful and the weather is the weather in June - it will either be raining, or we will be experiencing a totally unexpected and unbearable heatwave. Let's talk about something else. Here's some handy openers:

  • 'What are your feelings on chocolate bars? I'm quite partial to a KitKat Chunky. I used to like Twirls but I'm not sure about Cadbury since the American takeover. What do you think?'
  • 'Did you see the traffic on the way here?'
  • 'Did you watch Pointless yesterday? I got three pointless answers. THREE.'
  • 'Read any good books lately?'
  • 'Did you hear about (insert local scandal here)?'
  • Or, if you really want to freak someone out, 'How are you? No, seriously - how are you?'

On a serious note, it is very important to be politically engaged and whatnot. If you're still undecided about which way to vote, I recommend the I Side With quiz to help you figure out which party you align with the most. But it is also important to stay sane, not read any articles by any biased newspapers (which is all of them) and not to keep checking Twitter to see what people are saying about it.

Good luck ladies and gentleman. May the odds be ever in your favour.

* (PS. Kermode's Film Review is really the saving grace of the depress-fest that is BBC One in the mornings. Frankly I'm contemplating watching back-to-back movie rants every day until the election period is over. If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed with politics I suggest you watch his classic Sex and the City 2 review. You're welcome!)

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