I Haven’t Blogged In A While And I Guess This Is Why


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When it comes to single parenting one of the hardest things for me is all the decision making. And not even the big stuff, either: does Elfie need a pre-school logo fleece or coat or both? Should I keep Hux’s hair short or grow it long? When do I convert Hux’s cot into a big boy’s bed? Trivial things, but for me I can find it agonising to make them on my own. Even if it’s just for someone to be next to be in bed to me at 11pm saying: shut the hell up, it doesn’t matter if Hux potty trains in boxers or briefs.

(YES IT DOES!)

In case you’re wondering, Hux still has long hair, his cot is still in one piece and Elfie got the coat. Oh and I got briefs. You can sleep easy now.

I’ve been struggling recently with big decisions, ones about our future. We’ve been bumbling along happily in our little house in Milton Keynes for nearly a year now and I’ve been feeling it’s time to work out what I really want. What I want for the children, for my career and my home. It’s simultaneously completely overwhelming and intensely exciting to have the ability to make these plans single-handedly and I look forward to whatever the next ten years will bring. Once I decide what that is.

Sidenote: if I can’t choose between ‘fresh linen’ and ‘spring breeze’ fabric softener at the supermarket you better believe this decision making is a challenge.

I am a planner. At work, at home… there’s always a list, a plan, a strategy to get me from A to B. I don’t know if I’ve always been this way but I’ve noticed it more intensely ever since I’ve been alone. I want to be a good person and do the right thing by everyone in my life so I guess making a plan gives less room for error and regret. This is a fabulous trait to have at work but is harder in relationships – no man wants to give me their 5 year plan on the second date ;)

And that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks instead of blogging. Planning. Wondering who I want to be. Where I want to live. What I want to do. Some tough decisions were made (ooh vague) and situations discussed. I have more lines on my forehead than I used to but total satisfaction in my heart that I’m doing the right thing and moving forward with some excellent people. And one thing I learned in my process of soul-searching is that sometimes planning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; your five year plan needs to have just a little wiggle room otherwise where are the fun surprises?

So I’m moving forward: happy in my work, happy in my relationship, more than happy with my babies (apart from the one who pooed on the carpet this morning… yes, you). This next year is going to bring more challenges and changes (and hopefully more blogging) but I’ve got this under control.

All those things that weren’t supposed to happen? They happened. What happens next is up to you.” – Hank Moody. 

Turning That Frown Upside Down

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This morning I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Not literally, you see I seem to stick to the left side (never been a starfisher) but I woke up in a vile mood. Grumpy. It was 6am, I was tired, Hux was shouting about wee wees and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep.

I got up, grabbed milk for the children and heaved myself into the shower. It was cold and I wanted to get back into bed. I tried on four tops, two pairs of trousers and three pairs of shoes before deciding that everything looked rubbish anyway so it didn’t matter what I wore. On Hux’s demand I got the iPad for him and he demanded “Toy Story, no TANGLED, mummy, but I want FROZEN!!! Where’s Toy Story?”.

I huffed that I could only find two pairs of clean pants for Hux because I think his nursery aren’t offering him the potty often enough and he’s going through multiple changes a day (#mumlife) and wondered if I’d get judged for Elfie’s choice of outfit (yellow shorts, red tshirt, knee high school socks – I think we were having a similar wardrobe crisis). We drove to nursery and both children wailed as I left, I could see their fat tears running down their cheeks through the window and it felt dreadful.

Driving to the station I worried about a situation that’s been weighing heavy on my mind. I muttered over the fact my favourite parking attendant wasn’t there so I had to walk across the car park to buy my parking ticket. My tea was too hot, the station too busy. It was going to be a bad day.

But then I sat down on the train and read a Facebook post from my friend Stu.

Stu is one of my oldest friends from High School and we went through a lot of things together – most notably Reading Festival 2002, and our weekend jobs, right Stu?. He lives in Melbourne, Australia and works for The McGuire Programme, a company that helps individuals overcome a stutter to become ‘articulate, well-spoken people’.

Stu’s post said:

I had a call from a recruitment consultant this morning, she wanted to ask me some questions about a guy who came into her work looking for a job.

He’s a grad from The McGuire Programme and has been working on his speech for about a year, so I answered a few of her questions about how I knew him, how he had been progressing over the past 12months and how these traits (commitment, ownership, punctuality, etc) were translatable into a work-environment. After 15 minutes of chatting, she started telling me of her encounter with this Grad:

A couple of weeks ago this young man had walked in to her office unannounced, with a resume looking for work; he’d had a brief chat with her and his stutter/stammer had been noticeable.
About 10minutes after he’d left the office, she was talking about the meeting with another lady in the team when the same guy came back in. “Oh, have you forgotten something..?” she said.
“Actually, I wanted to be honest with you about my speech and by doing that I’m cancelling out any negative feelings I might have about the speaking situation…” he replied.
She told me how inspired she felt at his courage and bravery to come back to the office and explain his work with The McGuire Programme Australia so she immediately decided to bring him back for the full interview process.

Again, he came back and demonstrated his work ethic, determination and commitment to overcome the speaking challenge, despite any fear, anxiety and uncertainty about what the interview process comprised of, which left her with the impression of a great young man, full of character that she would be confident to put forward to her clients for a role.

Not only that, but she actually said “I’m determined to find him a job through our company and I’ve already been ringing around other branches to put his name and resume forward, he’s such a wonderful young man.”

So thank you to Owen Westwood for bringing a big ray of sunshine to my dreary, cold Wednesday morning. You have a fervent supporter at Adecco in Dandenong and she simply can not speak highly enough of you or your commitment to improving yourself.

It really made me think.

Have I really just wasted the first part of my morning feeling sorry for myself because I’m tired/cold/my bulging wardrobe isn’t suitable/the sun was too bright?

The kids cried at nursery but I know full well they’re fine 30 seconds after I leave.

My tea will cool down, I will enjoy my day at work in a job I love.

I felt like a total dick for whinging when there are people out there doing actual inspiring things, overcoming obstacles in their life to be the best version of themselves.

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I knew it made sense when The Universe emailed me this morning to say:

Appreciating what you have little of is easy, Alice.

Appreciating what you have lots and lots of takes a spiritual master.

And you so have lots,
The Universe

I spent five minutes counting my blessings: I have two beautiful children who are being played with and educated at a great nursery while I work in a job I love that allows me to spend time with them. We have food on our plates, a roof over our heads and clothes in our wardrobe. The sun is shining and there’s a man out there who wants to treat me like a Princess and surprise me with flowers after work. Yes, a couple of things are wobbly but I have a life full of courage, motivation, love and excitement.

Isn’t that amazing that I have these things in my life?

Take five minutes to think about your lot: what are you grateful for today?

Five Homeware Items That Will Never Go Out Of Style

Home décor trends tend to turn on a dime, with something new becoming popular every six to eight months. If you are thinking about redecorating a room in your house, or even if you have just started decorating and designing it, you will need homeware items that will be able to stand the test of time. Here is a simple list of timeless, stylish pieces you might want to choose from. For more ideas, visit a specialist furniture and homewares retailer like Super A-mart who may be able to give a boost to your creative juices.

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Statement rug

A statement rug is a great item to have in any room. There are no real features that a statement rug must have – just make sure the patterns on it are to your liking and will fit in with the décor of the room you are decorating. These rugs can be laid out on the floor or even hung up as an art piece if you are looking for something a little different.

Vase

Vases are elegant and give a room a touch of class. They are extremely versatile as you can get them in all manner of shapes, sizes and colours. You don’t even need to put flowers in a vase for it to work in a room – you can fill it with marbles, potpourri, or any number of items found around the house. If you’re after a simple look, leave it empty and let the vase speak for itself.

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Table lamp

Table lamps are stylish and extremely useful. Like vases, they now come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can pick and choose to your heart’s content. They will brighten up the room during the evenings and will be a great table piece when lighting is not an issue.

Wooden table

A nice wooden table will always be welcome in any living or dining room. This addition can be as large as a dining room table or as small as a coffee or side table. If your room feels a little cold or stiff, a table made of a warm coloured wood like oak or elm can give it a little bit of spice. Alternatively, cooler woods can create a calming effect in a room – it all depends on what kind of a feel you are going for!

Wall art

There are pieces of art that will look good this year and pieces that will look good forever. You’ll always be satisfied with a piece of art that you love. Choose art based on your personality and preferences, not on what’s trendy right now – it’s the best way to get art that will look good for a long time!

These are five homeware items that will stand the test of time. You should feel free to play with the décor and design in your home a little to suit your own personal tastes. After all, decorating your room or your house is all about what you feel comfortable in!

Do you agree with the list above? Are there any other items you would like to add to the list, and why? Leave your thoughts down below.

The Evolution Of Parenthood

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I love to talk with my mum about how motherhood has changed since I was born. For example, after I was born she was able to get used to being a mum for a whole week in a special hospital filled with maternity nurses who would take care of your baby for you – making sure new mums learned all the new skills they needed for child rearing and most importantly got lots of sleep! Can you even imagine being able to do that these days?

Which is why I’m happy to share this infographic with you from Benenden. How many of these facts about the evolution of motherhood did you know? The first modern Caesarean (I’ve had two!) was performed in 1881, I shudder to think of what would have happened to me when Elfie was born had that not been invented (she would have been coming out feet first for a start. Ouch). And can you imagine not being privy to those magical 12 and 20 week 3D ultrasounds, invented in 1987?

But most shockingly their survey results revel that 1 in 5 mothers suffer negativity when breastfeeding in public. I’ve written on this subject before and LOVE to see mothers breastfeed in public: I truly believe that  it’s the most natural thing in the world (breastfeeding Hux was so special) and to think that women have to go through this makes me feel sick. According to the survey the group most likely to disagree are those sixty or over, so let’s hope this school of thought is well on the way out.

Take a look at the evolution of Parenthood:

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Thank-you Benenden for partnering with More Than Toast. 

Three Places To Go Wild As A Grown-Up

I can still remember my first solo, completely indulgent, away-with-friends holiday. I was 17, I’d just passed my driving test and felt like the world was mine for the taking. A group of six male friends were going away to Faliraki for two weeks and one of them dropped out so I took their place last minute – me and five blokes, what could possibly go wrong?!

Actually, not much at all went wrong. We all had a fantastic time – I made lots of girl friends around the pool who saved me from all the boys nights out – and spent my evenings dancing my socks off in the many nightclubs in the town. I do remember a couple of crazy incidents involving fishbowls and foam parties (ugh!) but most importantly I had a blast, and it really was the beginning of me finding my independence.

But, dare I say it, I can’t imagine ever going back to good old Faliraki. Though I’ve just returned from an idyllic break elsewhere in Greece the most we ‘lived it large’ was staying out to dinner until 11pm. Wild, I know.

Everyone needs to let their hair down at some point though! I’m planning a summer Hen do for my lovely friend Bryony in 2015 so I’m starting to plan already. Here are the places I’ve narrowed our wild weekend down to:

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Paris

OK, so it’s not traditionally crazy-let-your-hair-down-town but I though Paris would be a fantastic option for B’s big hen do. It’s close, it’s a bit warmer than the UK and it’s full of decadent nightclubs to tap our feet in (though as the majority of us are mothers I thoroughly expect us to be begging for hometime by midnight). Ladies – if you’re reading – I reckon we get ourselves down to the Moulin Rouge and enjoy some old-style Parisian fun!

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Ayia Napa

I’ve always been curious about holidays to Ayia-Napa; in the Faliraki days it was the Garage music aficionado’s place to Falirak’s dance music destination. But it’s not just about music! Ayia Napa’s beaches are white sandy dreams with plenty of hen’s activities – boating, windsurfing but most importantly eating, drinking and relaxing! And we can even feel educated  by learning about the original 15th Century Monastary.

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Ibiza

The last time I went to Ibiza I came back with a hangover and a couple of wild stories. Not this time around, though – don’t worry Bryony! I say we head to the quieter end of Ibiza, where all the old people (that’s us) and hippies hang out and relax. We can maybe take in a couple of beach bars and a club or two but otherwise it’s early nights all the way.

Where would you take a bride-to-be for a wild weekend away?

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Preparing Your Home For The Cold

10249286_648881838482585_930636259_n Summer is slowly drawing to a close. The time is coming when the duvet will need to be retrieved from the cupboard into which it was unceremoniously stuffed six months ago. The thought of having to deal with the intense cold once again is off-putting for some. But with a little effort before winter arrives, you can have your home well-prepared to deal with the big freeze.

Fireplaces and Chimneys

It can be tempting to start winter off with a nice, warm fire in your fireplace. Check your fireplace thoroughly though first. If you have a brick chimney, make sure that it’s clear of bird nests or other blockages. For regular chimneys or wood heaters, like those from www.barbequesgalore.com.au, make sure the flue damper opens and closes properly. You should be able to lock to either position. Check the chimney draft by opening the damper and lighting some newspaper. If the smoke doesn’t go straight up the chimney, you’ve got a blockage. Get a professional in to clear it out properly. Finally, for brick chimneys, check your firebrick. Fill any open joints in the mortar. Fire could get into the stud wall and you don’t want that.

Heating and Air-conditioning

Your heating system should be among the first things you check. Make sure your vents are clear of any dirt or debris before you crank it up. If you find the system isn’t running to spec, you may need to get a technician in. They can replace the air filter, change the fuel if it’s an oil/propane system and check for carbon monoxide leaks while they’re at it. Don’t forget your air-con though! Head outside to the condensing unit. If it’s ground-mounted, hose it down and drop on a protective cover. If it’s window-mounted, remove it entirely and store for the winter.

Windows and doors

Cold air has a bad habit of getting in through leaks in doors and windows. That’s just going to drive your heating bill up. Wait for a windy day to check your windows. If you can’t detect anything, light a stick of incense near the window and watch the smoke. Is it vertical? If not, you have a leak. Leaks are usually found at hinges and where it slides. Your best bet for stopping up window leaks is with rope caulk. For doors, weatherstripping is usually the answer.

Roof

Carefully get up on the roof and check for any broken or missing tiles. While you’re up there, check the seals on your chimney or other roof protrusions for leaks. Air can get in up there too. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are all free of debris – this won’t help with heating, but it’s a job that needs to be done nonetheless.

Insulation

This is a very important step. Make sure everything is properly insulated. Wrap an insulating blanket around your hot water tank. Any outdoor outlets and switch plates should be sealed with a cheap foam sealing gasket. Winter-proofing your home is simply a matter of preparation. These are just a few examples of things you can do to protect yourself. Consider making yourself a check-list so you are less likely to forget anything. Getting these sorts of jobs done in Autumn is ideal, because who wants to be stuck trying to fix their storm windows when its 20 degrees out? Got any winter-proofing tips of your own to share? Drop them in the comments below!

 

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