Friday, 25 July 2014

Bedtime

Each night at 8pm I sit on the uncomfortable dining chair next to Ruby's cot. She is in her pyjamas in my arms, guzzling a beaker of milk.

"Night night me, and night night you. Night night sock, and night night shoe..." I recite the poem that we've been reading to her every night since we cracked down on her bedtime routine. It's now ingrained into my brain, I no longer even bother to pick up the book.

Sometime I change it up and say Night Night Roo instead. She smiles a milk coma smile.

Her eyes are heavy and droopy. She wriggles up onto her knees and flings her arms round my neck. She nuzzles in for a hug and I can feel her eyelashes flutter against my skin.

If she struggles to drop off I softly sing to her whatever is on my heart that day. Amazing Grace, Crown Him with Many Crowns, maybe a bit of a Hillsong medley. Songs that have defined my life and my walk with Jesus. I pray peace over her little head and rock gently. Backwards. And then forwards. Over and over again.

When she looks like she's nearly off in La La Land I start to count in my head. 1...2...3...4.........58....59.....60. At 60 I stand up, her tired little body dropping away. I rock for another 60. I then lift her, stretching on my tip toes and lowering her into her cot. I rub her back for another 60. I stand like a statue for another 60. I creep out the room, sometimes pausing at the door for another 60. She is asleep. Until morning.

Next door we can hear our neighbours going through the same routine. Except they leave little Tommy to cry it out. We hear him as he shrieks and screams. They soothe him and leave. He screams some more. Eventually he is asleep.

On the other side Rosie is already asleep. Her bedtime is earlier and she just goes straight down. Her mum and dad stand in the garden having a chat, safe in the knowledge that she will sleep through til morning.

It struck me last night that at any one time on our street we are all doing the same things, albeit in different ways. We have different techniques. Different methods. But the end goals are the same. It's a beautiful picture of the normality of life.

We are all trying to raise our kids the best we can. We are all trying to implement good sleep patterns. Good routines. We all feel guilty for whatever method we might choose, and yet we stick with what works.

My parenting moto?

"Whatever gets you through the day!"
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Thursday, 24 July 2014

... On Work - Life Balance

You don't have to be a genius to work out that my #GetGoodSummer Goals have fallen by the wayside.

1. Blog three times per week......
Uuummmm.... yeah....

2. Set up my home office.... 
I'm waiting for a big pay day to come in, and then I'll be able to think about ordering furniture etc. Suffice to say this is one goal I definitely will achieve once I can afford it. I am sooooooo over working on my dining table and having nowhere to file things.

3. Get published....
Sorry, been too busy publishing other people's work!

4. Finish that quilt
Nope, it's still in the box.

5. Invest in my marriage
Success! We did indeed have a date night last Friday and it was absolutely lovely. Ruby was packed off to Grandma's house and we went out to our local pub for dinner and then ran home in the storm with thunder roaring and lightning flashing. Was a good night. But no, I didn't take any pictures - silly me!

So here's the deal.

My house currently looks like a tornado has hit it. There are no clean clothes and today, when I finally went to do washing I realised we had run out of washing liquid. The dishes are piled high. We've also run out of bin bags so there is a growing mountain of rubbish and my daughter has taken to throwing all of her toys and books across the room instead of playing with them. There is no food in the cupboards.

Last week my chief babysitter (ie. Mum) went away so I didn't have any childcare and my work was at an all time high. How grateful I am for all the help she gives me when she's here!

But here's the thing: When you're self-employed work is either a feast or a famine. When it comes along you take it. You never say no. This is how I put food on the table. I work for two weeks solid and then I might have two weeks off. But it's always in my brain. Every time my phone beeps I feel overwhelmed at the thought of having more work, but excited at the thought of having more work.

I love it. And I wouldn't change it for the world.

But learning to handle the juggling act is a constant battle. How do you switch off? How do you stay disciplined and leave things for tomorrow? How do you give due attention to your home, to your kids and to your marriage whilst still completing all the tasks and working 24/7 for clients who think you're available 24/7?

I don't know.

But I do believe that when you throw yourself whole-heartedly into life, you can achieve the impossible. When you say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, you don't know where it might lead. I believe in living not existing.

And sometimes that means the dishes won't get done.

Sometimes that means that the initial goals won't be met.

But life is fluid, goals evolve and change. Why get stressed over not meeting those goals when you're actually achieving so much more than those goals!

So, once again, if my #GetGoodSummer goals were the following, then I would have achieved them all with style!


  • Completing a long running project that I thought would never end!
  • Having a date night.
  • Supporting a friend through one of life's worst challenges.
  • Having a great day looking after a friend's daughter.
  • Having a spontaneous beer garden drink with our neighbours.
  • Preaching in church this message.
  • Booking tickets for this on Friday night and arranging a babysitter in advance.
  • Upgrading my phone all by myself and not being conned into buying insurance that I didn't need.

I'll still be aiming high and hopefully achieving all the goals - we've still got six weeks left....... right? But in the mean time, I'll be enjoying life and drowning under mountains of proofs.
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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

To the girl who has big dreams...

I'm a lot like you.

I'm a big dreamer. My dreams are beyond comprehension sometimes. People raise their eyebrows at me when I express my dreams and tell me 'Don't be too ambitious', 'Don't overdo it', 'Don't forget you've got a lot on your plate.'

You know what I say to these people?

I'll get a bigger plate.

I'd rather live my life reaching for the moon.

It's true, I could fail.

But I might get the stars!

photo credit: kern.justin via photopin cc
If you're familiar with the Bible you might be familiar with Ephesians 3:20.
"Now to Him Who, by His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do super-abundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams" ~ Ephesians 3:20 (AMP)
So by my reckoning, if we limit our dreams maybe we limit God? But if we dream the biggest dreams that we can possibly dream? Then God HAS TO do far above and beyond those dreams that we've dared to dream! It's in the BIBLE!

So before you allow anyone to dampen your spirits, before you shrink back inside yourself and think that maybe it's too much. Maybe you won't cope. Maybe you should lay that one aside... don't. Dream big! Dream the biggest dreams! Dare to hope! Dare to soar above the doubters and be that girl who has an amazing life. Be the over-achiever. Live a full life of passion and adventure!

The life laid down to mediocrity is the life that did not have an impact. It's a life that did not make a difference in the world. A life that did not change anything.

But the life that dared to dream?

That's the life of a girl who decided to get a bigger plate.
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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Me & My Short Life

It hit the headlines this week that Prime Minister David Cameron joked that John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, was in fact one of the seven dwarfs - sparking media debate over the issue of 'heightism' and whether it exists or not.

I myself am a diminutive four feet and eleven inches small. If there's a short joke going, I've heard it. I've lived a life down on this level and I'm sure I've been impacted in some way, maybe traumatised, by the lack of inches on my height. Have I been disadvantaged by it? Probably not. But here's a walk through my short life...

  • Being appointed Goal Keeper or Goal Shooter in seemingly every game of netball in PE at school... what kind of sick teachers exist out there?!
  • When not signing myself up for an event on sports day, I was allocated the High Jump... what kind of sick teachers exist out there?!
  • When working in a tea room at the age of 14, being given the job of dish washer because I was 'too short' to be a waitress (maybe because I couldn't reach the tea pots... but could it have been because I wasn't deemed tall enough to face the visiting public?!).
  • Having to stand on tip toes, or on that funny ledge thing, to see over the bar in any pub, or coffee shop on the highstreet....
  • .... never getting served because barmen don't register your existence....
  • .... then getting beer dripped on your head as fellow customers walk away............ ok, let's leave the bar.
  • Having to stand on a step in all of my wedding photos despite the three inch heels.
  • Having to wear three inch heels.
  • Having to ignore Gok Wan's advice to short people about wearing maxi dresses because all the maxi dresses on the high street are longer than I am.... though find me an elasticated maxi skirt and I can rock that thing with a belt under the bust and no one need know!
  • When registering at the doctors my height was not given on the BMI chart so the nurse just looked me up and down and told me I 'looked okay'.
  • Being told by an American that if I were American I would be 'registered disabled' and would get to go to University for free (because presumably I wouldn't qualify for a basketball scholarship?!)
  • When I first got together with my husband my brother-in-law drove passed us while we were holding hands and wondered if Jon had abducted a child.
  • Constantly being told 'good things come in small packages'.
  • Having nick names like 'Midge', 'Ickle' and 'Shortie'.... very imaginative I know!
  • Never being able to reach what I want in the supermarket.
  • Being told that as a full grown adult I'm only just allowed to sit in the front seat of the car (I've yet to negotiate seeing over the dashboard to actually drive one).

Can you tell I'm standing on a step, wearing three inch heels and have a hairstyle to add a couple of centimetres, and I'm still short in comparison to my 6ft2in husband!

Do I feel I've been discriminated against? No.

Heightism isn't a thing. If you were denied a job on the basis of your height then yes that could be a form of discrimination - as long as you were equally able to fulfil the job role. If someone makes a joke about your height, is it nice? Is it polite? No. Is it funny? Sometimes. Should David Cameron have said what he said? No. Is it discrimination? No.

Discrimination on the basis of colour, creed, race or sexuality is wrong. It is deeply rooted in historical issues where people have been considered less of a human being, or unable to live in equality to others purely because of the colour of their skin, country of origin, gender or sexuality. 

No, we cannot choose how tall we become but this is what makes us unique! And sometimes the things that make us unique also make us funny, or interesting, or give us a sense of identity. And these things also might provoke a joke or two. 

Don't get me wrong, if heightism does become a thing, I'll be suing all of you tall people who have ever used me as a leaning post, all you businesses who put your counters up high, all you restaurants who put your mirrors up high, hell I might even use tax payers money to get myself a nice, adapted car so I can see the road! I could be a millionaire! But until that day comes let's learn to laugh at ourselves and to know when a joke is a joke, and when discrimination is discrimination.
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Friday, 4 July 2014

#GetGoodSummer Week 1 - Easing myself in gently...

If you read my blog last Thursday you'll have seen my 5 goals for the summer. That's right, by the time Autumn rolls around, I'll have turned my life around and achieved mega amounts. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I set about choosing my goals. They were specific, measurable and achievable... so I thought. Many have commented on how super-ambitious they are. What can I say? I'm an overachiever!

You can read about them in more detail here, but in short, they were as follows:
  • To blog three times per week, setting aside Sunday evenings for planning, writing and scheduling.
  • To set up my home office, purchasing furniture and storage, filing everything away and working there instead of Caffe Nero.
  • To research, pitch and write five articles in the hope of adding a bit of published journalism into my editing work.
  • To finish the baby quilt I started whilst on maternity leave (Ruby is now 15 months old!).
  • To schedule and go on three date nights between now and the autumn.
So, how have I got on? Well, I like to think I'm easing myself in gently. I live for the thrill of the deadline so come week 9, you'll see a flurry of activity, I'm sure. This week, however, I've blogged once, done a bit of window shopping for a desk, thought about getting the quilt pieces out of their box and I'm currently writing this in... Starbucks. Oh, and I've just written some date nights into my diary (that's one goal, one third achieved - go me)!

It has to happen now, it's in the diary!

However! If my goals were these ones...
  • Having an awesome Friday night dinner with friends
  • Spending the weekend with my hubby and daughter for the first time in ages
  • Completing part of a project that normally takes three weeks in six days
  • Bagging myself an exciting new editing commission with extra responsibility.... where I get to work with my friend!
  • Spending time with my new neighbour
  • Having dinner out with new friends
  • Moving our Christmas tree from our dining room to our loft
... then I would have achieved them all!

Not only that, but being the over achiever that I am, I was so inspired by everyone else's goals I decided to add a few to my list. And wanting to make the most of summer, I've got all sorts of plans in place. Here's a few more goals floating around in my head at the moment:
  • Taking the plunge and dying my hair... the greys are getting too much!
  • Hosting a World Cup Final neighbourhood BBQ
  • Transform our garden into an easy-to-manage play space for Ruby and her friends
  • To finish reading a book (started one last week and about half way through).
  • To cook from scratch at least twice a week.
Who knows what else I might add to my list! (... and then get done!).

***
 
Got some #GetGoodSummer goals?
Join in the fun and link up over at Clarina's Contemplations.
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