Project 365 (2018): Days 7 – 32

days 7-13

Well, look at me! The chilled out 365-er who hasn't posted weekly. I haven't even got a photo a day either! I've missed about three days this month, probably because they were a Tuesday and I was knackered after work. The world still turns though, who cares if I've missed a day? I've still taken way more photos than I have been doing over the past year.

days 7-13

Days 7 – 13: I spotted a very complex maze book which I snapped up for The Boy, and he was suitably challenged by it! More challenged than he is by the Rubik's Cube which he learnt how to solve and can manage in 3 minutes 18 seconds (to be honest it's probably quicker than that now as he doesn't stop fiddling with the damn thing!), and marginally more challenging that learning how to bowl without the aid of the ramp at his cousin's bowling birthday party. Only once did the ball end up in the next lane. Wedged. The children in my class this week were also challenged; take photographs of the school building from interesting angles and I showed them this photo of the wall as an example.

days 14-20

Days 14 – 20: Another week with a day missing, Monday this time! On the Sunday we went to watch the really lovely film 'Coco' in the cinema; I highly recommend it if you've not seen it. I've started a DT club in my school which I'm running for my son's year group so of course he had to join in; we're making a cam-shaft toy and the children are very excited to be using saws! We popped to the library and perused the Harry Potter display but didn't take anything out. We won't let him read past book three at the moment, and he's got a copy of the first batch of the series so no need to borrow a copy.I popped my Subway cherry; an interesting experience but not overly amazing and I'd much rather have a Starbucks in the car wash! And finally we've been enjoying my husband's record player which I bought him for Christmas.

days 21-27Days 21 – 27: I've lost another day this week, think it was Monday again so that should go some way to showing my state of mind on a Monday evening! Sunday involved lazing around and playing Minecraft in bed. My son progressed with his cam-shaft toy in DT club, he's coming along brilliantly with his piano practise and I'm so proud of him. A lily just because I like them. And let's chuck some crochet in there as well! This is a baby blanket for a colleague and it's going to be a rainbow blanket.

days 28 - 2

Days 28 – 32: Not another missing day, don't worry! I haven't taken today's yet and until I go to sleep I count that as today, I'm going for a sleeping boy photo. This week has involved helping daddy re-lay some paving slabs on the drive, midnight cuddles with mummy in bed, and a rather spectacular Super-Blood-Blue-Moon which was neither red or blue but was pretty supertacular! The rainbow blanket progresses (in fact I've just finished the blues section and am moving onto the purples), my lilies look rather beautiful in silhouette, and when I send him upstairs to get ready for school I actually end up with him reading on his bed. When did he get so long?!

When the Kids Leave Home

It can be difficult to cope when your children leave home. For years your life has revolved around caring for them and preparing them for the outside world, but when they enter it, it can leave a void. Empty Nest Syndrome is very real, and many people feel a loss of purpose when their children aren’t around the house any more.

There are a few simple ways to relieve these feelings of loss, so you can refocus and concentrate on the new freedom you have in your life.

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Three Storage Tips to Make Your Home Safer and More Spacious

Not only does it look a mess, clutter can be a bit of a health hazard too, especially when you have kids around. Think about knives lurking at the bottom of drawers, or heavy boxes waiting to topple on toddlers. Doesn’t bear thinking about.

Here are some tips to help keep the house tidier, and safer to boot.

A Place for Everything

It may be a tired old cliché, but having designated spots for everything from boots to crayons means you can find what you want straight away without tripping over things on the way.

Drawer organisers are easy to buy and cheap, and they’re useful all round the house, not just for cutlery in the kitchen. Use them for:

  • Pens, crayons and felt tips in a crafting drawer.
  • Hair ties and bobbles.
  • Costume or play jewellery
  • Make up and brushes

You can also buy or make dividers for sock drawers, and to keep crockery or pots and pans organised.

Shelving throughout the house creates lots of storage without restricting the floor area, and is especially good for keeping glass or other breakables out of little finger’s reach.

Activity Zones within Rooms

We can’t all afford bespoke rooms for every activity. Bedrooms are all occupied by beds and people who sleep in them, and dining rooms are fully fitted out with dining furnishings. We can, however, earmark sections of a room for certain activities and take steps to make sure the kit needed for those activities stays within the boundaries.

  • The office in the living room – a small computer workstation in a corner takes up little floor space. Install shelving over the desk for stationery or text books, and use an open bookcase set perpendicular to the wall as a cubicle boundary. Have some books facing each way so it looks good from either side, and pretty it up with trailing plants and photo frames or ornaments.
  • Zoning children’s rooms – make a quiet reading corner with a couple of bookcases and a beanbag, or lay a play mat for building bricks or cars. Captain and cabin beds create additional space for activity zones beneath them without taking up extra floor space.
  • Elsewhere in house, adopt ideas such as installing a shoe rack in the cupboard under the stairs to encourage people not to leave shoes lying around in the hallway. You could rearrange furniture in the living room to make conversation more important than watching TV, or create zones with colour or textiles that either excite the mind or promote calm.

Going Seasonal With Storage

When you’ve got more possessions than house room but you don’t want to permanently get rid of stuff, putting what you’re not using into self storage is a way of freeing up space. Some people go the seasonal route, storing summer garden furnishings and machinery over winter and winter sports kit during the summer. You could adopt the same routine with clothes if you have favourites that come out every year. Wardrobes are less crammed, and what’s in there stays in better condition.

Minimising the things kept at home makes it easier to create a safe environment too. Not only are garages and sheds less attractive as treasure troves and climbing frames to children, it’s easier to keep the inside of the house clean and sanitary when you can easily reach the corners.

An added bonus to organising home storage and clearing up some clutter is the sense of mental freedom afterwards. The home feels more airy and spacious, and is an altogether nicer place to be.

Claiming Flight Compensation: Do it Yourself or Use a Solicitor

Flying should be a comfortable and convenient way to travel, whether it be for business or pleasure. Thousands of flights happen daily across the globe, so we expect the process to run like a well-oiled machine. So, when something does not go as it should, it is natural to feel frustrated and cheated. Of course, in some cases delayed flights or even cancelled flights can mean a loss of work or missing an important event, so wanting to claim compensation is perfectly natural. However, should you claim on your own behalf or use a solicitor.

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At Peace With Just The One

My son was never meant to be an only child.

As the youngest of four children, my childhood home was always full of hustle and bustle with a multitude of playmates. Of course it also meant that there wasn't a moment's peace and quiet, but I wouldn't have traded that for the world. Which is why I was going to have two children.

Was going to.

But it just hasn't happened and at the grand old age of 40, I'm ok with that.

I can recognise now that I'm fairly certain I had such significant birth trauma after my son was born that it may have been borderline PTSD; it certainly triggered anxiety and panic attacks. It's taken a good few years with various counselling interventions to make peace with the mistakes that were made during his birth, but I can now let it go.

He's here, he's healthy, he's happy.

That is the most important thing.

However, by the time I'd adjusted and entertained the thought of childbirth again, I was on the slippery slope towards 40. Having a baby at 32 was hard enough, but this many years later? I dread to think how I'd cope with the feeding dilemma and subsequent guilt combined with the sleepless nights, let alone the physical toll on my body. Pre-pregnancy weight is a distant dream eluding me and I'm nowhere near as fit. Would my body actually hold up through the pregnancy? It is a realistic concern and in order to be physically in a place where I should become pregnant would take at least a year. Then there's the falling pregnant and the actual three-quarters of a year before the baby arrives.

I'd be looking at 43 and my son would be 11. That's a heck of an age gap and one that I know only too well can be very difficult to overcome; luckily I've got two siblings in the gap of twelve years between my eldest brother and I, and it makes it easier. I'm just not sure that it would be very fair on The Boy.

Did I want my son to have a sibling?

Of course I did, it's one of the most amazing bonds and the longest one a person can have. Never have I known three people that I can absolutely adore whilst also wanting to pull their hair out. And I'm not talking about when we were children; my brothers both currently need their heads banging together for many reasons. But I still love them.

There's a saving grace to assuage my guilt; my sister's children. They're incredibly close to my son (my niece is 14 and my nephew 11) and the three of them together are like the Three Musketeers. It fills my heart with joy to see him cuddling my niece like a big sister, learning how to tie his shoelaces from her and the way that she always visually checks he's managing at dinner, or automatically holds his hand near a road. Likewise I'm filled with glee when I see the two boys down in the mud kitchen concocting all mnaner of delicacies for their restaurant; Food and Doogan. Or when they go on a space mission through the garden to the climbing frame rocket with football helmets under their arms.

The bond that they have is similar to that of a sibling, but the best thing about cousins is that you have more of your own space and can have a more effective timeout.

I'm lucky. I have a son. He's funny and kind and amazing and fills my heart with joy. I can't imagine my life without enjoying his company.

And that's why I've accepted that I just have one child.

Now does anyone want to buy a pram?

Why Do People Make Bad Financial Decisions?

Let's be honest, we all make bad spending decisions from time to time. Unfortunately, some of us make more bad choices than others. If your dangerous decisions are becoming a habit, then it might be time to sit back and think about whether there's a reason for your pattern of poor investment choices.

There are plenty of ways you can mismanage your funds, from overspending, to compulsively shopping, and even under-estimating your budget. While we're all guilty of making these mistakes sometimes, science suggests that there could be a strong link between your current financial status and your spending habits.

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Interview With An Eight Year Old

My son makes me smile and laugh in equal measures. He's a contrary little monkey, with a fantastic sense of humour, and everything about him makes my heart burst with adoration and love. Be it his mostly accurate commentary of the performances on Strictly Come Dancing ("His timing is all wrong Mummy, and she was basically jogging around the dancefloor with a smile on her face!"), or his complicated recipes for 'Food and Doogan' (the mudpie kitchen he runs with his cousin, from the bottom of our garden), I love to see his personality emerging with a wonderful joie de vivre.

Every year around his birthday, we conduct an interview which I record; a set format of twenty questions* that really show how his tastes and thoughts are changing as he matures. The first one was conducted five years ago when he was a squiggly little three year old infant who couldn't sit still, and some things never change!

The tastes are definitely starting to change; bye bye to Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig (look at his incredulation that it was ever included), hello to Chinese takeaways and Ed Sheeran. While some things never change; his love of Cornwall, his best friend, and his favourite meal being cheesy-ham pasta!

Previous Interviews With…

* The original questions originated with this post on A Matter Of Choice.

The Cost of the First Twelve Months

Normal-Res-Baby-Infographic

In the school that I work in we have had a wave of new babies being born over the past couple of years, such is the way when the staff is made up of mostly women under the age of 40. It's an absolute joy to see my colleagues realise the wonder of having their own little bundles of joy to enrich their lives, and of course I am able to have an excuse to crochet and use up some of my infinite supply of yarn (it's over-running our house!).

I've had quite a few discussions since having my son about the cost of having children, they are pricey little monkeys! And of course the first year seems to be the most expensive, especially as most of the money seems to be spent on 'consumable' or 'disposable' items; it makes juggling finances in the initial twelve months really hard, especially when parents having a limited income due to parental leave. Most of the time when someone says to me that they are waiting to have enough money to be able to afford the cost of having a baby I tell them that you'll never have enough and you make the pennies work. I became very resourceful making pasties, shopping at nearly new sales and generally being as frugal as possible.

When the shock of those first few years have passed, it's actually quite interesting to see the breakdown of the cost of having a child. The obvious comparison of the cost of feeding is obvious; breastmilk is free and if mums choose to breastfeed then they could save £1,500 during the first year! The interesting discovery for me was that reusable nappies aren't that much cheaper than disposables, only saving £100.

I was quite fortunate in not needing to use a private nursery or paid childcare as my mother was able to look after my son when I returned to work when he was 11 months old. He didn't attend a state nursery either as I felt he was too young to cope with it every day, but he did have a few sessions a week in a private preschool which my husband's boss paid for. We saved a lot on childcare during those first four years, thanks to extended family, but I was interested to see that the cost of childcare wasn't as much as I'd thought. This infographic produced by Busybees preschool in Leeds is intriguing and definitely worth looking at for new parents.

Normal-Res-Baby-Infographic

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