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What do Jeremy Paxman and me have in common?

Today is our last day at work.  Granted Jezza has been in his job a tad longer than 8 years and 51 weeks and possibly he is at the point where he is going to be claiming part of his final salary pension rather than just freezing it but otherwise we are practically identical.

For my leaving do my best team buddies took me out for lunch and we had a delicous lunch despite the slightly awkward undercurrent. I am leaving with nowhere to go. No new role to get excited about and no pay check next month. My closest work buddies have proped me up over the last 2 years when I really hated going to work. When it made me unwell and I couldn’t think properly. I am lucky to have had their support and that of my fantastic husband and that I have been able to leave.
So now I am in limbo. How exciting. What will happen next?

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A new beginning

I have been meaning to blog for a long time. However, I am never quite sure what to say. Finally I feel I have a purpose. I have taken the decision to leave my well paid job, with a final salary pension and lots of perks and start a new phase of my life, working for myself and hopefully doing something I enjoy.

I have been with my company for nearly 9 years and have worked hard for them. I am told I am good at my job and have had a variety of roles in the time I have been there. Hard to walk away? You bet. I have been thinking about this for over a year. And 2 weeks ago I handed in my notice and started the countdown. Exciting times!

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Then today my boss drops a bombshell. I have been overpaid for over a year. I can work till the school holidays for nothing if I would like? Then they wouldn’t need to reclaim the money from me. I feel so worthless. I have been paid the amount they told me I would be paid I my pay review letter. The same amount it still says I am paid on our HR system. But they made a mistake when they told me that and I am now obliged to pay it back. I am amazed that the law favours the business in this instance. Fine if they have paid more than they said they would but this exactly what they said they would pay me. And suddenly all the stress of the last few years and all the feelings of being worth so little to them have crystalised and I can’t stop crying. And even though I have fiercely avoided taking time off over the last couple of years with stress, when with hindsight I should have, I can’t see how I am going to manage to go back into work next week and do my job. So in the end it looks like they are going to win. Stripping me of any pride in the work I have done for them, chewing me up and spitting me out exhausted and blubbering.

But I am a fighter. And in 2 weeks a new chapter will start. I will get over this and I will rise like the phoenix and build something good. But for now, if you don’t mind, I shall be sitting in the corner crying like a little child about the world not being fair. And eating chocolate.

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My daughter is turning me into a feminist

My gorgeous daughter was three last weekend. I asked her what sort of party she would like and she very quickly replied “a princess party!” This came as a bit of a shock.  Neither my step daughter or my son were that bothered as long as there was cake and presents and certainty not when they were 3 but Small is a very opinionated person and she knew what she wanted! And if I am honest I wasn’t very happy. I am about as far from princess as you can get… I rarely wear makeup, don’t buy many clothes and I love that my husband loves me just as I am. I really, really want that for my children. My own mother won’t leave the house without her makeup on and I would hate for my gorgeous children (boys are increasingly under the same pressures to look good all the time so I can’t even say girls) to feel hostage to cosmetics like that. I look at the girls at the bus stop and I worry that they are all so similar their own mother’s may struggle to tell them apart and I so want my kids to be able to stand out rather than feel they need to conform. Surely having a princess party was only going to compound my daughter’s passion of high heels (where did that come from?)

But what was I to do? Even at 3 I see my own stubborn steak in Small and I know that to deny her would on intensify her desire to be a princess. So I invited all her friends (girls only, she was very specific about that) and informed their mothers it would be a princess party. On the birthday day we decorated the house with pink balloons and 8 little girls all dressed as princesses arrived (in the end Small decided she wasn’t going to be a dressed up princess but would wear a party dress.  See, she is a real princess!) We played pin the magic lamp on the princess and decorated beautiful bags before eating fairy bread and pink biscuits. And celebrating with a princess cake

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A cake with a princess doll

We had a lovely day. Small wore her dressing up high heels all day and looked better in them than I do. And one of her favourite presents was a train set. Maybe I’m not doing everything so wrong after all.

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Blog every day in May

So… as if I don’t have enough on my plate I have signed up to Rosalilium’s blog every day in May which means I am gping to be busy getting a post out every day. Today the subject is ‘What is your blog about?’ 

This is an excellent question as I would really like to know myself! I haven’t really got into blogging in the way I had hoped to and hopefully this month will give me the chance to work out what I want to say a little more clearly and make answering a bit easier. But I need to answer now so I would have to say that this blog is a place for me to share the important as well as the less important things that are happening in my life.

I am about to go through a period that will see lots of change it will be nice to be able to look back and probably have a laugh at the things I thought were important which just weren’t and marvel at the things I missed out that should have been the important things.

So for now this is an opportunity. A place to mark the changes that are coming and share the good and the nad times that come as a consequence. Thanks for stopping by…

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Amazing memories of hazy days ( or what I would like to give my children )

Holidays are funny things… the best in a ‘ha ha’ way but almost always in a bit of a time warp way where the normal rhythms of life are interrupted and you have a slight out of life experience. Returning to normality can be startling and can leave you wondering if you ever went away. But there will be things that have changed, little victories that will act as proof that you did step outside the lines of your everyday existence and you are, however slightly, a different person.

As a child I had amazing holidays. I was very lucky to go to some fantastic places bit don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to go far from home to find fantastic. I love the UK and if only the weather were a tiny bit more predictable I would choose it over a foreign holiday every time.

I look forward to our children being a little older so I they can learn some of the things my parents taught me as well as adding their own. Among the things I am keen to cover are:
- catching crabs. Not that kind! Proper harbour dwelling crabs that you catch on an orange plastic rope with a bit of bacon on the end. Then you put them back only to repeat the exercise the following day.
- read a map. I only really ‘got’ map reading when we were out walking in open spaces with a map. Even in these days of sat nav, map reading is a great skill to have.
- writing postcards. The thrill of choosing and writing your own missive. Usually to adoring grandparents who kept them on the fridge forever.
- playing card games. All day. While the rain drums down for the third day in a row.
- buying precious tat souvenirs to keep forever. Holidays were one of the first times we had our own money in a proper purse and we could buy stuff for ourselves. We felt so grown up!
- that going home at the end is lovely too. However great the holiday is there is also something great about returning home to the familiar bed and comforts. Even if it’s only a few hours before you are browsing the web looking for your next adventure.

This competition has made me remember holidays in Wales and now I’m off to look for our next big adventure!

 

This post is an entry for the Visit Wales #Wales4Kids Family Holiday Challenge. Wales is the perfect place for a fun-filled family break. If you would like to find out more click here.  Find out more about how great Wales is as a family holiday destination either follow@visitwales on Twitter or Visit Wales on Facebook (www.facebook.com/visitwales).

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Once a week wonderful

There is no doubt that I am quite a busy person.  I have a step daughter and two children of my own, one of who is two and so with me on my days off, I work 3 days a week with an hour of commuting each way, I am trying to start my own small business which is part reseller and part designing and making toys and just before Christmas my husband and I decided that we were going to blitz the house and redecorate/replace pretty much all of it.  So I don’t have much time for either toefluff or tantrums. And it is starting to make me feel like a bit of a second rate mother.

I do spend time with Small but I realise it is not as much as she would like and it is not unheard of for me to be a little grumpy when the boy returns from school and the pair end up fighting pretty much constantly.  The temptation to switch on the TV is massive but I know I should do more than just that.  However, from things the kids say and the things they ask to do when they have free choice, I think a bit of targeted attention might be enough to keep everyone on track and make me feel like I am doing a better job as a mum.

So I have come up with a PLAN; Once A Week Wonderful. The plan is that each week we will have one super cool and generally amazing thing that we will do.  Preferably neither expensive or very tricky this will none the less something they will remember for years to come. Or at least for a few days.  I will prepare all the required items the day before so the first part won’t be me running round like the proverbial chicken looking for paperclips or sellotape or whatever is needed.  I will be ready to go and they will have my full attention. Fantastic. In between I will still do my utmost to give them the attention they need but I will feel less guilty when I don’t. They will get to do lots of cool stuff. Everyone’s a winner!

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So let me know… are you guilty of not giving your children much undivided attention? Please say I am not the only one? I will be picking my activities in advance and keeping a log of the ones that go well and badly.  You could even join me and we could feel less guilty together.

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Dunelm dun good

With Christmas getting ever closer I felt the need to venture to the shops for a bit of present shopping.  I set off with my two year old daughter wondering what sort of a day we were going to have as she can be a tiny bit temperamental!

We went first to Home Sense which is a treasure trove of high quality home goods at really great prices. I think it may be related to TK Max but only selling the home bit and I picked up some great books, a few kitchen bits, a new sheet for my bed (which was an essential item!) and some lovely stationery for less than £50.

By this time the smallest was starting get a tiny bit fractious.  To be fair she had been really good, not touching the rows and rows of lovely china, she hadn’t quibbled when we had to leave the very interesting toys behind and had only had a small shout about it not being time to eat the vast amount of Christmas chocolates.

I remembered a coffee shop lurking in the corner of Dunelm, just a few shops down from where we were and with the lure of a biscuit and juice we made it to Dunelm. To be honest I didn’t have very high expectations of the cafe though I had noticed it was always quite busy on the occasions I had been in before. Well I have had to remind myself not to be so judgmental because it was really great.  And what I wanted to particularly mention was the kids meal.  I got smallest a lunch in a bag, the kind you see in lots of places, and at £2.99 it was a really bargain. A sandwich, a packet of crisps, carton of juice, packet of raisins and a cookie covered in mini smarties.  And that was not all. There was a packet of crayons and a really cool little book.  It has stickers and some colour it yourself 3D puzzle animals. Much more imaginative than most of the freebies that you get with a lunch and only £2.99.  Really great.