Firstly, thank you to the lovely folk who left me messages following my midnight rant. They dispersed not long after doing a few rounds of the YMCA and all was quiet by about 12.30am. At precisely the moment my Husband started snoring. At 1.15am I asked if he’d mind going and sleeping on the sofa. I’ve got a tricky relationship with sleep. If I miss my ‘window’ I find it really hard to get to sleep and I missed so many windows last night that I was still checking my watch just after 2.30am. Not sure when I fell asleep but Baby woke up bang on 6am and not long after it was time to get up properly and get ready to go to work. Gah! I am seriously considering following Kat’s suggestion (see comments on last post) if it happens again! Speaking of, there is music blasting out from somewhere right now. On our road this is very, very unusual. Anyway. I was so tired after last night that when I woke up a huge coldsore had popped up. Thanks very much. Now I have to go and buy Compeed patches and get a repeat prescription for my Aciclovir tablets. So their party not only cost me a nights sleep but I also get to have a coldsore for at least a week and I get to pay out about £15 to take care of it. Grrrreat!
Moaning over. So how have we got on with the 7 week chellenge? Hmmm. Here we go:
House and Getting Organised
- Cleared out a section of the sideboard so I could use it for my bits and bobs that usually go on my sidetable
- Found a new home for my sidetable (really sad to see it go but we just don’t have room for it and have nowhere to store it while we wait to move)
- Put together the nest of tables (which will be going in the spot previously occupied by my sidetable and also replaces the coffee table – all of this is to make space, which it has done very effectively)
- Lowered Baby’s cot. Sadly, this has meant we’ve lost just ahout all of the storage space underneath. I’ve managed to sort out part of a cupboard to house some of it but the rest will have to wait until later in the week)
- Finished my ‘picture’ for the bedroom (more on this another time) and hung it
- Got a quote from AA to replace the RAC membership but we’ve had to spend out so much on house and car stuff this month that it is now going to have to wait until we come back from holiday
- Hilariously bad results. I am rebelling against myself. The more I try to diet, the more cake I eat. I ate 6 doughnuts on Friday (this is not a joke). Through trying to diet I have put on 5 pounds. I give up. Whatever, whatever, whatever! I’m not blogging about this again for a long time!!
I hope you are all having a good week and some good sleep!
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks having a breather from things in order to get a bit of thinking done. I got a bit stressed out for a while back there. It’s easily done. I started thinking about how much money I earn (these days, not a lot) and how I was going to make that better in the future. I read other blogs where people are managing to plough what seems like a small fortune into savings or paying off debts and mortgages each month and know there is no way we could manage to do the same. Even stripping back to the bare minimum (which we are generally pretty close to) it is a struggle to save £100 or £200 a month. We’re hardly going to be able to buy a house outright on a ten year plan, are we?!
Plus it is becoming increasingly apparent that we aren’t going to get anything like we thought we would for our house which is pretty demoralising after keeping up to date with the mortgage and paying every bill on time for over a decade. If we even manage to sell it.
The thing is, with my work history and my degree there is a kind of obvious route I could take to earn a lot more money. It would mean some quite extreme financial hardship for a year or two and then over a period of years I could earn up to twice what I am earning now. It’s tempting. And yet, even taking into account all of the above, I’ve come to the conclusion that it just isn’t worth it. Nor is trying to get a few more hours work here and there. What is the point of starting a family (and being one of those Mums that actually likes being at home rather than wanting a nanny to do it all) to go and spend a huge amount of hours and stress and sacrificing family time just to have more cash? Don’t get me wrong – more cash would be amazing. We could live in a decent house and have the security of savings. The price, however, is just too high. I know too many people that wish they had stayed at home more when their children were tiny and then realised, too late, that they can’t get that time back. It’s not a mistake I intend to make.
The conclusion I’ve come to (and which I deviate from and come back to again and again) is that where I am at right now is as near perfect as it is going to get. Today is a Wednesday – right in the middle of the working week. This morning Baby and I went to the library for our Bounce and Rhyme session and then had a walk along the seafront. She is currently having a nap and I’m just planning what to make for lunch and then what we’ll do after. If I was working more hours (even for more money) all I’d be doing is sitting at work wishing I could be doing exactly what I am doing right now (If you get what I mean). Maybe when Baby is at school, or older still, I can think about all of this again. Until then, I’m just going to be grateful (which I am) for what I’ve got, which is a pretty amazing work/life balance. And I’m just going to have to do the best I can with what I earn until a time comes when I can think about earning more/working more hours without compromising that balance.
Do you find that energy and motivation run in cycles? I do. Sometimes I am super motivated and other times I am the exact opposite. The latter is the case at the moment. This isn’t through lack of enthusiasm but sheer tiredness. Baby gets up early every day (and I mean early) and then we have the mad rush of trying to get us both washed, dressed and all the rest before we head out of the door. I usually get about three hours in the evening to do everything from getting lunches ready for the next day, tidying up, packing bags, having a shower and whatever else needs to be done. I like to try and make sure I do something chilled out like reading or watching a bit of telly or a DVD before going to bed, just to wind down so I can go to sleep otherwise my mind keeps whirring away. Add into this the fact that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the future and planning and I’m feeling pretty knackered! I don’t think the manky weather is helping much either…
I’ve decided to have the week off. Not a week off work, but a week off from as much stuff as I can drop. No feeling compelled to catch up with everyone, no batch cooking – in fact as little cooking as possible, no major planning, no funny little projects. As close to nothing as I can manage! I’m settling for a quick tidy up, including the washing up, in the evening (otherwise the mornings are a nightmare) and I’m raiding the freezer for the week so we can have home cooked meals with practically no effort and very little cleaning up.
I’m hoping this will mean I can get into the habit of having more sleep. Even when Baby sleeps well I tend to wake up during the night and can lay awake for up to two hours before I can get back to sleep again. Or sometimes Baby wakes up because she’s teething. One way or another I’ve been struggling along on about five hours sleep a night. I need to try and get six hours and then work my way up to seven. Seven hours, incidentally, seems like a luxurious concept. I can’t even get my head around the decadance of what eight would be like! So this week is my week ‘off’. Thus I am off to make a hot chocolate and read Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, which I ordered from the library ages ago and has just turned up…
I was just replying to a comment when I realised that it is 11 years today that we moved into our house. 11 years! If you’d have told me, aged 22, that I’d still be living here at 33 I would have freaked out. It’s not so bad really. It is a lovely place. It is just far to small and doesn’t have it’s own garden. It’s funny to think, though, that I’ve spent most of my adult life here.
I’d love to give a list of things that I love most about this house but, in the interests of anonymity, I can’t. Surfice it to say that it is in a very unique location that would either draw you to it or make you run for the hills. It drew us in, like the other people that live here. And the location is stunning. It is also a blue plaque house (as in, a house of historic interest, with an official blue plaque on the outside). Since I can’t really say more than that, here are a few other things that I love about my house:
- It has never felt like living in a flat. Mainly because it is set over three floors (own front door and large entrance hall on the ground floor, living room, kitchen and loo on the first floor and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor).
- At night, when it is really windy or raining hard, it is seriously loud in the bedrooms (part under the eaves, part crazy bit of flat roof). This would drive some people nuts (it does my Husband). I love it.
- Also at night, if the windows are open you can hear the sea. You can’t hear it in the day time.
- Floorboards – original ones! We found them the day we moved in and promptly ripped up all of the carpet.
- It is quirky and original. To a point of being impractical and annoying at times, but largely I love it. It was brought by a builder in the 60s who chopped it up into crazy sections and sold them off, one by one. There are some conventional flats and other weird bits like ours with their own front doors that are tall and thin. I am constantly going up and down stairs. It is like living in a lighthouse. Or a straw.
- It is quiet. No real noise from traffic or the madding crowds.
- I can walk five minutes in one direction and hit the beach or five minutes in the other and be in the countryside. I can also walk five minutes and be in town. I doubt I’ll ever live in such a perfect location again.
Things about my house that make me want to leave:
- All of the flats hold the lease between us. Even so, the monthly maintenance charge is huge. More than I’ve heard of outside of places that have gyms and swimming pools.
- There is a garden but it is a pain to get to. A bit like going to the park. If you want to go, you have to lock up and take a bag full of stuff you might need. Plus it is overlooked by nearly all of the flats so you always feel like someone is watching you (even if they don’t mean to be doing it). Also, it is a formal garden with a gardener so no room for a veg patch or doing your own thing really. I never really feel like we’ve got a garden. I really want to be able to have a door open and be able to wander in and out of the house, the type of place where Baby can play with her friends safely when she’s older.
- It is so small. So small. I’m not saying I’m not grateful because I am. Baby has her own room where I know of more than one couple bringing up a baby in one bedroom flats. Even so. We’re currently debating on whether or not Baby can have a first birthday party. If the weather is okay we can use the garden. If it isn’t we simply can’t.
- We could never have another baby here. I’m not saying we’re going to, but it can’t even be considered as long as we are here.
While we are desperate to get out I know I’ll be sad when we go. It has been a beautiful place to live and holds a huge amount of memories. Like sitting in my funny little room, studying away at nights to get my degree even though I was helping to run a growing business at the same time. And then changing that funny little room into a nursery and bringing my baby home. Or other daft memories like the night we wrapped my friend up using an industrial size roll of cling film. We were all laughing so hard no-one could unwrap her for ages.
Oh, and why do I remember the date so well? Because it is Kylie Minogue’s birthday (Happy Birthday Kylie) who ruled my nine-year old world and the date stuck in my head!
Did you know Tesco are currently selling Orla Kiely bags for £4? I read about it over at Whoops-A-Daisy but didn’t think I’d be able to get my hands on one (they are only available at selected stores), thus I was very excited to see them in my local branch a couple of weeks ago. In fact, it was all I could do to restrain myself from grabbing unsuspecting fellow customers by the collar and frog marching them down the aisle shouting ‘Look! Look!!’. Did I mention before that I like bags?
Of course that was when I had £4 to spare. Remember the other day I said I only had £2.95 in my wallet? It’s gone. I bought a loaf of bread (it should have come out of the food budget but it wasn’t worth getting my debit card out over) and a couple of packets of BOGOF biscuits on my first day back in the office. I even raided my 20p piggy bank earlier so I could go out for tea and teacakes with one of my mum chums. I might need to take some money out of one of our accounts as I’m pretty sure that I don’t have enough petrol to last until pay day and I need to get to work. I’ve got two weeks to wait and just the contents of my piggy bank (probably about £2 now) to see me through. Interesting times ahead!
And, yes, I am back at work. It is weird. I caught sight of myself in a mirror, fully ‘made-up’, straightened hair, suit, heels, polished nails and proper jewellery and thought…who the bloody hell are you?! Baby is currently getting up at around 5.30am. I need to be up by 6.30am to get us both ready for the day and out the door by 8am (I’ll probably get quicker as I do it more often). I had my first day working from ‘home’ (actually not working from my home but that of my parents) today. It is going to take a couple of weeks before it all settles down and we get a decent routine on the go. I didn’t manage to get finished up until 2pm and then felt all twitchy and restless because I was still in work mode and had that feeling you get when you think you ought to be doing something but can’t tell what it is. Hence I called up a mum chum and ventured out on the aformentioned tea/teacake run just to try and draw a line in my head between work time and non-work time. It’s all a bit fuzzy at the moment but I am sure it will fall into place soon enough. As for having to leave Baby behind to go to the office…gah. I hate it. Nothing to do with work or colleagues or the job. I just hate not being with her. My strategy for dealing with it is to get my head down and work like a lunatic so I don’t have chance to think about it.
And that’s it for now. No working tomorrow but no money either! I lie. There’s probably about 16p change left in my wallet. How much does a Wham bar cost these days?
Gah, where has the time gone? Since I would have been off due to the Bank Holiday, today is actually the last day of my maternity leave. It is totally depressing. Plus because Baby has had a five week round of colds, coughs and sore throats her ability to sleep has gone out of the window. We’ve been trying to settle her back to sleep but for the last 7 nights she’s been awake for at least two hours a night and then getting up between 5 and 6am. We are all exhausted and I have no idea how I am going to juggle this all next week. AND we’ve been tinkering with our finances – the picture is a bit scary. More on that another time though.
Anyway – the end of the challenge is here! Is everything done? Um, no. But Husband and I did get a lot done. Here’s the full rundown:
- Painted most of the bathroom
- Hung the new shower curtain
- Sorted through shoes, chucked a few out and polished up the rest
- Washed and ironed all work clothes (and took the rejects to be recycled)
- Got a really good pair of summer shoes for £34
- Created a strategy for our joint finances
- organised magazine articles into files
- Getting manicure/pedicure stuff for free using my Advantage card
- Organised my Filofax and created a fresh section for our joint account direct debits and standing orders
- Got my hair cut and highlighted
- Mixed results with the diet. Lost about 5 pounds since I did the post on starting the India Knight diet. More on that another time.
- Sorted and packed work bag
- Cleaned up an old messenger bag of Husband’s to carry laptop in
- Sorted and packed a small bag of essentials to keep at work
- Hung mirror in hall
- Took, printed, framed and hung 4 photos
- Got my car fixed (at last!)
- Later on I’ll be washing and cleaning out the car
Yesterday I had a big cooking session while Dad played with Baby. I made 6 portions of lasagne (one of which I chopped up and divided into small pots for Baby) and 8 portions of soup. I also made an icecube tray of apple puree which I pop into Baby’s porridge. Our four drawer freezer is now full to bursting point – I really struggled to wedge everything in! I’ll be doing a post sometime over the next few days regarding our food budget. Prices have gone up plus we have an extra (very cute) mouth to feed. However, we’ve got less money than ever. Eek. Watch this space…
I meant to post yesterday – I really did. Alas I was struck down by some horrible upset stomach thing. No idea what it was. Not bad enough to have been food posioning but pretty sure it wasn’t a bug either. Mysterious. Still feeling a bit crap today but not as bad as yesterday. Does this mean I have nothing to add for my chellenge? Nope. Here it is: upset stomach = 2 pound weight loss. More effective than any diet. Won’t be trying it again soon though….
Husband has had a few days off which has been great as it has felt like a little holiday for me too (which is particularly nice as I’m going back to work in a few weeks time). We’ve managed a sneaky trip to the ‘big’ shops where we got Baby a couple of sun hats and a pair of sunglasses (using a Boots half price voucher) as well as some other bits and bobs. I also managed to bag a few skincare bargains but I’ll post about that soon.
Yesterday we actually – finally – got around to doing a bit of DIY. Mum and Dad looked after Baby while Husband painted the hallway and I painted the bathroom. I didn’t have a small enough brush to get in a few corners but finishing up will only take five minutes once we get a brush. Good to have a couple of things crossed off the list! Today the lure of the beautiful weather was too strong (as was the holidayish feeling) so we decided to have a proper day ‘out’ and went to the Aquarium in Plymouth. It is a lot further away than we would usually go for a day out but it was so good to have a change of scenery. I was also very impressed that, if I understood correctly, for the price of todays admission we can go back for free anytime we like over the next 12 months (as many times as we like) for free! We’ll definitely be going back as Baby LOVED it.
Hence I’ve been a bit quiet – it’s been a busy few days! I’ve also got another cold coming. We’ve been plagued by them for the last couple of months. Everytime we go to any of the playgroups we come back with a cold. So we stay at home until it has gone (so we don’t spread it around) and then back we go and get another one. Vicks First Defence has been doing a great job for me but sadly Baby can’t have it and has to tough it out each time with just a bit of Calpol. She has only just got rid of a really awful cough so I really hope the sneezes this morning were unrelated to the sore throat I’ve now got (I know, sounds like wishful thinking). I know you can’t sit indoors all day but I do wish people wouldn’t keep bringing their ill babies to these groups and letting them stuff all of the toys in their mouths while clearly drowning in snot. Is this completely unrealistic? I have literally never had so many colds in my life. Ever. I’m not going to stop going to our favourite groups because I think it is really important for Baby to hang out with babies/toddlers of her own age and get to do different things. Plus she obviously loves it – particularly if there is singing and maybe a shaker involved. So I guess we’ll just have a to get on with it and stock up on tissues!
Finally some good news on the diet front – I’ve lost 4 pounds! Yay! This time last week I had 11 pounds to lose. Now it is 7. I really need to keep focused on it. I had a day ‘off’ yesterday since it was my very first Mother’s Day as a Mum. Husband cooked my parents and I a beast of a sunday roast (Baby enjoed it too, particularly the roasted sweet potatoes) followed by a gorgeous pudding – it was great. But now it’s Monday and I’m back on the case. I’ve also had a good weekend on the reading front. I finished reading this…
…Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I could barely put down from the moment I started reading it. Then I moved on to My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin which I was similarly gripped by. Both of these were books I had ordered through the library and I had almost forgotten about. It’s rare to read two completely different books in a row that I’ve enjoyed so much. As ever, any further book recommendations will be gratefully received!
It’s going well. Really well. I think I’ve finally got past whatever mental block I had regarding my eating. While I have been quite literally climbing the walls, craving cake and cookies (I know, sad isn’t it?) I haven’t been hungry at all and the food has been really good. I tried out a recipe for trout with flaked almonds in a cream sauce which was gorgeous (the bones were a pain in the arse though). I don’t think I’ve ever cooked trout before so that can be added to my list of cooking experiments. I’ve already lost a couple of pounds but I’ll do a proper progress post after the first week is up (and when the weekend is past – always a bit of a dodgy time for me and diets). It’s pretty hard to feel hard done by when you get cream in your coffee and a brie, avocado and prosciutto salad for lunch…