Working

Things I’ve learnt from being a part-time working parent (forgive me, you probably all know this already!)

  1. It is possible to live in ten times more filth than you ever believed you could
  2. Laundry breeds like gremlins in a bath
  3. A husband can locate clean socks on top of the tumble dryer if needed
  4. Children cannot locate clean socks anywhere
  5. A husband can make dinner (heat pizza) if required
  6. Dogs still need walking when you’re busy, or they misbehave
  7. Guinea pigs poo a lot. It doesn’t stop when you’re busy
  8. Kids can survive being told, ‘be quiet, go away, Mummy’s working’
  9. Kids mostly ignore being told, ‘be quiet, go away, Mummy’s working’ and will take it as permission to do a full song and dance routine when you’re trying to look up the plural of piranha
  10. Half term passes much less painfully if the kids are frequently told, ‘be quiet, go away, Mummy’s working’
  11. Coffee is not a food group, but it comes a close second
  12. A working coffee machine is essential. Make sure a new stove-top espresso maker is on order from Amazon
  13. If you go to bed exhausted at 8pm you will be woken up at midnight by husband and dog snoring and will lie awake for three hours
  14. 5.30am feels really really early when you were awake half the night
  15. Ironing doesn’t go away if you ignore it
  16. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ give you energy. Not hearing it makes you tired
  17. You can miss vegetables
  18. You can miss exercise
  19. You can miss boredom
  20. Getting paid is really satisfying
  21. Knowing you’ve done a good job feels good
  22. The saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’ is complete rubbish
  23. Eye strain sucks
  24. You can forget how to spell
  25. You can have to look up whether ‘hers’ takes a possessive apostrophe
  26. Working in bed is really cool and surprisingly productive
  27. It’s easy to take an accidental power-nap when you work in bed
  28. It’s nice telling people you work for a living
  29. Editing helps you understand what makes good writing
  30. You will edit everything you read forever

 

June Journals #6 ~ Face Paint & Finding the House

Yesterday was the last day of the school holidays. The kids wanted to do something fun: a soft play centre or a swim. I wanted to find my house.

Thankfully the sun shone gloriously. Great for two reasons. One, the children played in the garden most of the day and, two, I seem to have killed my tumble dryer. OMG.

As a picture tells a thousand words, here is a short story about the state of my house after a week of half term. (Who I am kidding, it looks like this all the time!)

And that’s just the kitchen, playroom, and ‘homework desk’. The rest of the house was too bad to share! By bedtime I’d found enough floor to vacuum the lounge and bedroom, and stacked the dishwasher, but the rest of it still pretty much looks like this.

The children decided to occupy themselves with face painting. I suggested they paint dolls rather than themselves, as it’s back to school today and face paint doesn’t come off so well. So they did. To begin with. The baby doll ended up completely black and is currently lying face down in the paddling pool. I hope no one calls social services.

Of course, painting dolls is boring. I should have guessed they’d do their faces. And generally that’s okay. I ended up with two rather cute puppies.

But boys, yes? They always have to go a little too far. My son came in black. Coal black. ‘I’ve been back in time and worked as a chimney boy for a day’ black. And when we laughed (mine was hysteria) he got upset and cried. And leaned against the wall and cried. And ran up the stairs and cried. There are black hand prints everywhere. I managed to get him to stop crying long enough to take a picture.

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It then took an hour in the shower and bath to return him to something resembling his usual skin colour. I am going to have to tell his teacher that the black marks around his throat aren’t bruises. Half term has been tough, but not that tough! Still, it kept them amused and, on the plus side, they had a bath without complaining. A win’s a win.

It’s been a great holiday but I can’t say I’m sad that they’re back to school today. 33 more days of school until the summer holidays, my daughter tells me sadly (she’ll miss her teacher). My son is ticking off the days on a calendar, because he doesn’t want to go back to school.

And me? I’m trying not to think about it at all.

June Journals #1 ~ And it Rained

Enjoying the Rain

Enjoying the Rain

Looking out the window it doesn’t feel like the first of June. It’s been raining steadily since mid-morning yesterday.

Mostly that’s okay.

I still did yesterday’s Couch to 5k run in the rain. It was quite nice. Well, run is stretching it a bit. I’m only in week two and, as the App happily informs me, I ran for a sum total of 8 minutes. As we took hubbie to Pizza Express for a birthday lunch, and I polished off a pizza and a slab of cheesecake, I did some yoga and a quick zumba routine when I got home. To be honest it was that or ironing – the kids were kind of occupying themselves without screaming, and hubbie was sleeping off lunch.

It’s always funny how I get more done when the kids are home than when they’re not these days. If I stop and look like I’m enjoying my leisure: reading a book or having a nap or – Goodness Me – watching a program I want to watch, they’re there in an instant.

I started watching Les Miserables while ironing the other day and within ten minutes both children were in the lounge fidgeting and chattering. If I did that through one of their programs there would be huffs and sighs and tantrums.

Actually, I did all of the above! In the end, as I’ve never seen Les Mis, and had no hope of following the sung dialogue amidst the muttering, I stomped over to the TV and put one of their movies on. Which meant they promptly left the room leaving me to fume and watch High School Musical on my own.

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At least it looks pretty!

So while they were actually occupied I cleaned the kitchen, re-waxed the table, mopped the floor, did some laundry, ran the dog, and did two exercise classes. Why can’t I do all that when they’re at school? It can’t just be having the day broken in half by the school run. Maybe we all need to feel like the boss is watching.

Anyway, I’m rambling.

I’m taking them to a Gym this morning so my daughter can hang upside down and my son can complain about being bored. Oh and I hear shrieking has started upstairs – that’ll be because I did something other than housework. Blogging counts as leisure.

That’ll teach me.

P.S. I forgot my ‘positive’ bit. As I listened to hubbie snoring at 4am this morning I was lucky enough to also hear the beginning of the dawn chorus. A bird sat right outside my open window and launched its heart into a beautiful melody, which was then picked up and carried on towards the distant rising sun. It was breathtaking and lulled me back to sleep. I am blessed.

Kids, Apps, and Knitted Toys

AmberSportsDay

Happy Daughter

It’s been a strange couple of weeks. I’m trying really hard to get a grip on reality, but my connection keeps timing out. End of term is always a bit crazy, with parties and sports day and homework to be handed in.

I’m trying to claw my way off the edge of the black hole of depression. It’s too easy to let myself slip in, but once I get past the event horizon, it will be a long long way back out. So, as I’m glued to my phone killing dinosaurs, I decided to try for some app motivation.

I downloaded a running app and a yoga app (paying for both, shock horror!) I’ve used them both a couple of times and like them a lot, the running more than the yoga. The yoga is a bit fast for me, moving from one pose to another in a few seconds. It will probably be easier when I know what the poses are and I’m not trying to stare at a tiny screen to see what I’m supposed to be doing.

AaronSportsDay

Winning Son

The running is a Couch to 5k app. I could probably run 5k already if I pushed it, but it would hurt. As I’m bunged up with hayfever, using an app to control how much I run is not a bad idea. I like it. I’ve been a few times in the last week or so, although I’m so goddarn tired it’s hard to find a time in the day to do it. But I ran over two miles at sports day on Wednesday, legging it between the Reception and Year 2 groups to watch my kids’ events, so I’m doing okay!

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How I feel about Half Term

The children are on half-term this week and I seem to have started with a complete sense-of-humour failure.

I’m finding that looking after them is less physical but far more emotional/intellectual as they get older. I was just about okay at the dashing around, soothing hurts, rescuing from climbing frames, mopping up poop, because I only needed half a brain. Now I have to negotiate the tricky path of hurt feelings, setting a good example, and the constant challenges of my seven-going-on-seventeen year old daughter, I find I can’t quite cope. It’s not a great time to be an over-thinker, and that’s me with bells on.

So the books have taken a back step. I’m putting my creativity into knitting, and painting the garden fence, and planting flowers. My son asked for a knitted jester, and I’m trying out an Alan Dart pattern (not sure if I’m allowed to share the finished picture on here, he has pretty strict copyright!)

I’m reading a few children’s classics to plug a gap in my knowledge (The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett at the moment) and grabbing sleep when I can. Life isn’t a race, although it feels like it most of the time.

I’d like to get back to blogging more regularly. I tend not to blog because I’m worried it will be a misery-fest, a place to rant and be boring. It was never meant to be that!

JuneJournalsYesterday, while walking the dog, I came up with the idea of doing a June Journal, trying to find a positive thing every day to write about, even if it’s just watching the dog run through the corn, or sharing a passage from my favourite book. Of course that will probably be even more boring and annoying, but the first piece of writing advice is always ‘write every day’ so at least it will keep me writing! No one has to read it, after all.

Have a lovely bank holiday weekend, peeps, and join me in June for a month of happy thoughts. Here’s hoping.

 

Raising a Reluctant Reader

Solving the Pumpkin Trail

Solving the Pumpkin Trail

My daughter is coming up for seven and she is amazing. She is caring, kind, thoughtful, beautiful inside and out. She rocks at karate and loves to draw. She can build complicated Lego sets and tell you every detail of what happened in the latest Sofia the First (and why).

But she hates reading.

As an avid reader, and an author, it’s the hardest thing for me to have raised a reluctant reader. I wonder what I did wrong. Did I spend too many hours playing on the iPad instead of curled up with a book? Did I set the wrong example?

We have read stories to our children every single night before bed. We go to the library several days a week. My daughter reads her homework book every morning, and reads with skill and expression. She is reading a year or two above her age, and can tackle the most complicated words. But ask her if she likes reading and she’ll say not really.

It causes me no end of worry. Raising a reader is seen as the parenting holy-grail. Reading allows you to experience a thousand lives that are not yours, get inside the heads of others, escape from life, be happy. As a parent I want that so desperately for my child.

Enjoying the Last of the Sun

Enjoying the Last of the Sun

But, here’s the thing. Maybe she doesn’t need to escape. When I was a child, reading was the main stimulation. I could travel off on the Faraway Tree, escape the mundane. I could hide from the rows inside the covers of a book.

Now, though, stimulation is everywhere. Computer games are like mini stories, with graphics so real you could be inside them. The right television shows (I’m thinking Cbeebies and Disney) are full of adventure and wonder, great characters, impressive songs, moral stories.

My daughter would rather write stories than read them (I wonder where she gets that from?) And she’s more logical and practical than whimsical and creative. She’d as soon read a book on Space Junk as a tale about fairies.

My son is different. He’s desperate to learn to read. He loves role play and creating stories with his superheros. My daughter builds the Lego and my son plays with it. So perhaps it isn’t me at all. Maybe my parenting isn’t lacking. Maybe it’s okay to be a reluctant reader.

And maybe my daughter doesn’t need to escape. We have a happy life (not saying I didn’t as a child). This half term we have done spooky Halloween treasure hunts, stately home tours, climbed trees, played in the water fountains, tried ten-pin bowling, drawn and painted, glued and sellotaped. We’ve had cuddles, and baked cakes. Life is good.

Hopefully a love of reading will come. There is such a wonderful world to be discovered in the pages of a book. But, if she doesn’t, perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much. She’s still amazing.

Half Term: Not For the Faint-Hearted

Decorating people at the library

Decorating people at the library

Phew. Last solo day of the school holidays survived. Half term is not for the faint-hearted. I think I’m going to have to build up some serious stamina before the long vacation in the summer, otherwise I won’t make it out alive.

It’s not like I didn’t have help today: a cuppa in bed from my lovely husband, after a night awake with the coughing son; a 9am drop off for the youngest at nursery (so civilised, especially with zero traffic); a trip to the cafe for a promised treat of cake; then craft at the library saw me through to 11am.

A quick dog walk / bike ride to the park, followed by a sandwich and an early collection of the little man, and we were on the way to friend’s house by 1pm.

Look what I made!

Look what I made!

Then five hours of fun and mayhem and shared parenting (the best sort), with a bit of discussion about politics and schooling thrown in, and I just about managed to stay awake to drive us all home after tea, bath and pyjamas. (Barney helped: the strident tones of singing dinosaurs in the dark will do that).

I didn’t fare so well with hubbie’s Friday Night movie, with not even the charms of Vin Diesel (as the slightly creepy Riddick) having the ability to keep my eyes from closing (although I did enjoy his deep sexy voice for a few moments before the world of sofa sleep enveloped me).

Five days of full-time Mummy and I’m exhausted. I’d give my right arm (on loan for a bit at any rate) for half an hour of Homes Under the Hammer and a hot cup of tea. Well, that’s Monday’s lunch break organised, all being well.

Anyway, sorry for another short and uninspired post. I’m off to dream up survival tactics for the summer hols. Night night.

P.S. In an effort to get a few more reviews I will be offering promotions on my books in the next couple of weeks. Dragon Wraiths is free on Amazon (all sites) for the next 48 hours. Links below (for the main sites I sell on). Please share with anyone you think might enjoy as fast-paced fantasy read. Ta. 🙂

Dragon Wraiths on Amazon.com

Dragon Wraiths on Amazon.co.uk

Dragon Wraiths on Amazon.com.au

Dragon Wraiths on Amazon.ca