A Plea and A Promise

This week creative writing has filled my head. I've thought about the novels I've written, stories that live in my head and the blog. They're all a part of me and each has it's own purpose. In recent weeks I've lost sight of why I enjoyed writing and began to wonder if I should just put the novels away and concentrate on the blog more.

I've really enjoyed blogging every day and taking part in various linkys and will continue to do so. It encourages me to think about writing in a different way than normal and this is actually useful. I can also learn a lot about myself and other people which in turn helps my creative writing. What I'm not going to do is give up on my novels. I have a habit of starting the editing process and giving up about half-way through.

My most recent first draft was finished at the start of last year and when I wrote 'The End' I felt a rush of satisfaction. It is very gratifying typing those two words when you've spent months tapping away at the keyboard hoping you'll have something good by the end of it. Unfortunately this satisfaction lasts about two minutes and then you realise there's a ton more work to do before it is going to be read by anyone but you. I still haven't reached this point with either of my novels. Not good.

Re-writing after the realisation that a characters sex was all wrong is my new problem. To begin with my main character was a man and I was excited by, and happy with, the story. Then one day, while in the car on a long journey, I had an epiphany. The main character wasn't supposed to be a man, he was meant to be a woman I just hadn't realised it until now. However I didn't just change one character, oh no, I thought it would be a good idea to change all of them and the re-write became a whole big thing. I got to chapter 20 before I gave up, the first draft had 47 chapters.

After leaving it alone for a while I now want to go back and only change the main character and her partner. I know who they are now and I'm happy with their stories. The only problem with this is starting the re-write again! I see the finished draft, look at the number of words and panic. There's lots more work that needs to go into it and I think maybe that's why I'm shying away from it. And just when I think the writing life couldn't get harder my old friend 'self-doubt' comes to visit. That one really is a pain in the a**.

Having to make this writing journey alone is really hard and friends like 'self-doubt' and 'writer's block' only make it more difficult. I've had lots of visits from these friends in the past and always hate when they stay a while, it's very frustrating.

I'm hoping that by sharing my writing journey it will encourage me to work harder and ignore those pesky friends of mine. Sometimes a good kick is what you need to keep going, others it's the moral support of people who know what you're going through. So, here I am vowing to post something every Friday about my writing journey. Perhaps, with the encouragement of you fine people, I may actually get a book out there to be read!

Do you have any tips on how to tackle re-writes?
Are there special routines you make yourself stick to to ensure you write daily?

Who I Am

Over the last couple of months I've been spending most of my time blogging and trying to establish a routine that I can stick to. So far it's worked pretty well and that's thanks to the wonderful ladies that run various linkys throughout the blogging community. Since the start of January I've ignored my book, banishing it to the archives and promising to come back - at some point. A few weeks ago I thought I would give up on it after all I'm only a housewife. Who would want to read something I wrote?

Well, it turns out I can't. Something in me won't let me forget why I started in the first place and that pesky muse has been tapping me on the shoulder for the last couple of weeks. It's time to get back to the book. This means I'll be very busy trying to edit what I already have while attempting to carry on blogging. The one thing you can count on is that I'll be here, every Thursday for #Prose4T because it allows me to be creative without the pressure of a novel. This week's poem is about me realising who I really am, probably about time right?

Who I Am

It is part of me, I know that now
It's who I am and here I vow
No more hiding, pretending you're not here
Glancing back and trying to be clear

I won't fight this inner need
I'll sit here and give the words to feed
Pages with prose full of truth and pain
Hearing my muse, hope she will not wane

Visions and words pop into my head
Even when I'm trying to sleep in my bed
I curse because the pen is gone
iPad in hand and switch it on

Prodding at the screen and then
Trying to go back to sleep again
On my shoulder my muse awaits
To whisper in my ear, create

This world that I've been trying to hide
Characters wondering why 'she lied'
Talking and acting in a way
I never expected, why would they?

These people wait for my fingers to type
Their next move, will they smile or gripe?
The world in which they live is just
In my head but now I must

Write the words and see what comes
I can't ignore my wonderful chums
Taunting and hounding their way back to
The computer screen and onto you

Stories in me want to get out
I tried to banish them but now I doubt
I'll ever escape my friends and muse
They won't go, they simply refuse

So here I am writing again
Their stories lay before me and when
The kids are at school and I have peace and quiet
I'll type their words so they don't riot

I'll no longer ignore that inner voice
I realise I have no choice
I create with words, sometimes wild and gory
I'm a writer, whether blog or story

So, I may get frazzled over the next few weeks while I'm trying to keep up the pace with story writing and blog writing. I refuse to let myself slip back into the 'lazy housewife' mode and let go of something I really love doing.

Prose for Thought

New iPad Coming?

There are two times of year that I get a little excited about technology, now and October. Usually this time of year Apple has one of their conferences where they announce new products and apps and this is always quite exciting. I've said before I'm an apple girl and I love watching their announcements on the Apple TV.

In October last year, when they announced the new iPhone 5S, the hubby and I watched. I'd had the iPhone 5 the previous year and didn't need a new phone, I already had an iPad and Macbook Air, what else could there be? For me it was the update to Mavericks that I looked forward to most, turning my old, slow Mac into a speedy thing. Apple always have something to sell, even if you have it already.

Every time I walk into an Apple store I want something new. Looking at the pristine Macbook Air on display makes me want one. I watch BP and LP play with the iPad Air and I want one. I see the tiny iPod Nano and I want one. I wouldn't buy them because, well, we already have most of them but it doesn't stop me wanting them.

Very soon Apple will announce the date of their conference and it will go in our diary. The hubby and I will earmark that evening, sit in front of the Apple TV and watch Tim Cook tell us all about their new products. We'll then load up the Apple Store and see what we can buy, if anything. With the hubby working in the mobile gaming sector he has to have the newest devices and this means we get to have new toys!

I am always entertained by the rumours that surround Apple devices both at this time of year and around October. The company is so secretive about its products before release that lots of people like to speculate what their next big thing will be. Some of the latest rumours include the release of a new Apple TV, an iPad Pro (an iPad/Macbook hybrid) and two new phones coming in September. Amongst these rumours is more speculation about technology inside the devices and guess work about sizes. The only one that interests me at the moment is the Apple TV and that's because the hubby and I use it a lot.

In recent months Apple have managed to have early release of new movies exclusive to iTunes. We have downloaded and rented a few movies that we would've had to wait for. We've also noticed that Apple are undercutting Tesco and Amazon on price, an unusual move for Apple. In half-term we downloaded Turbo because it was cheaper to buy it on iTunes than it was in Tesco or from Amazon. The kids loved it and had a movie day with popcorn and treats. Being big movie watchers we're looking forward to seeing which direction Apple take with this.

I can't wait to see when the conference will be and I'll be looking forward to watching all the new sparkly devices being showcased. I may even take notes and blog about it afterwards.

What do you think, would you like to hear about Apple's new products from a stay-at-home mum's perspective?

Blackbeard's End

At the weekend I took my boys to the local library. The hubby always talks about how his mum used to take them to the library every week and he'd have six books to read. He loves reading, so do I, and we want to encourage our children to find their love of reading too. I find that no matter how many books you have it is always hard to find a new one and I was hoping this is where the library would help. When we'd joined I let the kids wander around and have a look at what was available. The hubby and I browsed... well, scanned is a better word. 

LP couldn't wait to read it.
When I was little I remember going to libraries and them being very quiet and organised places. They had sections for the different genre of books, even in the children's area, and in each section the books were organised alphabetically by author. This was always useful because you could look for an author you like then see if there are any new books you haven't read. Our local library doesn't have this system. It seems that they prefer the 'any book anywhere' option and there doesn't appear to be any logic to where you'll find a particular book. There is no chance of finding a series of books by the same author in the same place. 

Cross-stitch Progress Week 5

I've been at this for five weeks and it looks like I haven't made a lot of progress. If you've ever done a cross-stitch you'll know it takes a lot longer than it looks like it should. Half-term was last week and we had lots planned for the boys. We even ended up running out of time. I feel like the past week has flown by and we're back on Tuesday again, time for another cross-stitch update.

The pictures below show how much progress I have made. Spending most of the time filling in the gaps I didn't think I'd made that much difference. With the pictures beside one another I can see I've made a fair difference, which is great. 

Week 3
Week 5

Getting other colours in always seems to make a difference too. I love the small specks of pink and purple in these shots.

Hopefully I can get some more done this week, check in again next week to see how I'm getting on.

Preconceptions and Judgement

A few days ago I looked at the Telegraph website for the first time. I like to keep up with what's going on in the world and I hadn't managed to catch the news that day. A tab at the top of the page read 'Women' and I didn't know what to make of it. I finished reading and clicked on the tab. The page loaded and the title 'Wonder Women' stared back at me. I figured they thought women needed a whole section to themselves because we are women.

I scanned the page, headlines like "Why is Miley Cyrus simulating oral sex on 'Bill Clinton'?" and "Your mate has married an idiot. Now what?" were listed. I was dismayed, is this what appeals to women readers? I wouldn't read those articles, I'm not interested in a stars attempts at making headlines. Miley Cyrus is an old Disney star trying to break out of the box everyone put her in. It's inevitable sex has a part in that. She's growing up and doesn't want to be seen as a child anymore.

I was offended the Telegraph thought this was all I wanted to read. Stars making fools of themselves and poking my nose into my friends business. I understand this fits in with every woman stereotype you can think of. All of us housewives are so bored that we want to hear about TV and music stars. We can't help being busy-bodies when it comes to our friends. I mean what else is there to do?

I switched the computer off. I couldn't bring myself to read anything the Telegraph had to say. Annoyed and offended I'd been pushed into a box, again. Yes, I'm a stay-at-home mum. Yes, sometimes I listen to the nonsense about various stars but it is not what I find interesting. Being an intelligent woman, I like to read interesting articles and learn new things. I abhor all those presumptions about my life just because of what I choose to do. I am not a stupid person because I opted to stay at home and take care of my children. Making this choice does not mean I want to watch Jeremy Kyle on the TV while I drink a hot cup of tea.

I moved away from the computer, steam spurting out of my ears, and made dinner for my family (another preconception?) I thought about what the Telegraph were trying to do. As my mood calmed I began to wonder if I'd just jumped to conclusions. Dismissing their attempts to pull me in because of my own preconceptions. Perhaps I was the one being judgemental.

Later in the evening I decided to try again and read through the articles. I stumbled across one about Edwina Currie and Ann Widdecombe and their opinions of women MPs these days. I ended up reading the whole thing, found it interesting and sided with these two ladies. You can find the whole story here. Further reading led me to Rebekah Brooke's Fleet Street legacy to women in media. It pointed out that women are under represented in the industry, particularly when it comes to news media. Here 78% of newspaper front page by lines are men, only 22% being credited to women.

These two stories made me realise that my initial opinion was wrong and I will be visiting this site again. I found the articles interesting and they inspired my writing, always a good thing when you write a blog. However, what if the Telegraph decided to have a 'Marvellous Men' section? I would be rather annoyed but does that make me sexist?

I believe in equal opportunities, I don't think women should get preferential treatment nor should they get penalised for having children. Men shouldn't be ignored when applying for a job if they are the better applicant. If women are putting in just as much work as the men they should get just as much credit, not more (or less). 

The jobs I do in a day do not determine what kind of woman I am. A woman who spends her whole day in the office may not want to read about politics or finance, preferring fashion and gossip. Someone who spends their day taking care of babies and watching CBeebies may prefer to read about crime and current affairs. We all have these preconceptions about people and maybe we should think twice before we judge.

Have you made snap judgements you later regretted and what, if anything, changed your mind?

Mama and More

40th Birthday & A Proud Mummy

Right now I'm sitting in front of my Mac, the kids are back at school and a Gingerbread Latte is in my hand. Classical music is playing, the door is closed and I can start writing again, in peace! A fantastic Magic Moment in itself but not the one I want to write about today.

It was the hubby's 40th birthday on Saturday and I've been planning the celebrations for a couple of months now. His 30th hadn't gone to plan and I was fixed on this one. Nothing was going to go wrong.

On Saturday evening our family joined us for a meal at Chino Latino in Nottingham. A restaurant we've been to many times before Chino Latino turned out to be the perfect choice. We sat at the same table, chatting, and got to try each other's food. One of the great things about this restaurant is they encourage sharing. The decor is trendy and simplistic and the place is not rowdy like TGI Friday's sometimes gets. The best part is that the boys sat and enjoyed the same food as everyone else, no ordering from a children's menu.

My boys can be picky eaters; LP will say he doesn't like pizza if he doesn't like the look of one and BP will just decide he doesn't want to try new food. It can be frustrating at times but it doesn't make much difference however, at Chino Latino I knew it would. Chino's serves sushi, tempura and dim sum amongst beef, duck and pork, not really children-friendly food. I was concerned they wouldn't eat anything and the mother-in-law would have to make a trip to McDonalds on the way home.

My two champs did me proud, both of them tried anything we put on their plate, including the sushi. BP ate three whole sushi rolls, finished of Edemame (even when I'd only had a few!) and scoffed on beef fillet. He loved it all and revelled in the chance to try everything. LP loved the tempura and asked for more when it was gone. He wasn't so keen on the sushi but for a four-year-old that's understandable. He asked to try the fish cake and enjoyed it but his favourite part of the meal was when the rice came. He tried it and asked for more, I poured soy sauce onto the rice and mixed it in and LP finished off a whole bowl of the stuff! Having been concerned they wouldn't eat I was so pleased with the outcome of the evening. They'd both eaten loads, to the point that LP didn't want dessert! They wouldn't need McDonalds after all. 

The boys eating lots of food made me happy but what made me proud of both of them was their behaviour. They sat for two hours, ate food, drank coke and had perfect table manners. They thanked the servers and asked politely when they wanted more food, I didn't even have to threaten them. After the meal my boys went home with their nan and we had a night out. I was happy to let go of the 'mother stress' and relax with other adults but most of all I was pleased with the boys. They'd made the hubby's birthday much more enjoyable just by behaving themselves.

It's times like that when you realise you're doing it right. They may drive you mad all the time but they can behave when it matters and that makes it all worthwhile.

What makes you proud of your little ones?

Sunny Days

It being half term this week it's been really hard to try and get any writing done. The kids are constantly complaining about finding something to do and when it's raining most of the time there's only indoors activities, which can drive us all mad. So this morning when the gloomy clouds passed overhead I thought there would be another annoying day but then the sun peered through a gap. The gap widened and right now the sun is gleaming. Yes it's still a little cold but it's not raining! It inspired my poem today, this took a lot longer to write than any of the others I've written so far and that may have to do with me working downstairs at the moment. Constant interruptions do not help the inspiration flow.

Yellow, summery flowers

I did it though, in the end, and I managed to write something which always makes me feel better. So here we are my poem for Prose for Thought...

Sunny Days

The sun is shining but the chill is still there
Kids outside, the football in the air
Through the glass it's lovely and warm
But it's still hats and gloves and jumpers to be worn

Spring Clean of the Mind

As a stay-at-home mum I have lots of jobs to do on a daily basis and most of you know what they are. The typical jobs that drive us mad and never go away, cleaning, hoovering, ironing, etc. Sometimes those that don't do our job think that we sit on our bottoms all day watching Jeremy Kyle on the TV, cake and tea by our side. Other's think that as a stay-at-home mum we must really hate all these jobs and would love to go out to work every day. The truth is that we all fall somewhere in the middle.

A lot of the time I hate all of my jobs, I hate that, half-an-hour after the hoovering has been done, LP will have a pack of crisps and get half the pack on the carpet. I hate that even after spending a whole day loading the washing machine, and dryer, and ironing the clothes, within two days I will have a very large pile of dirty clothes ready to be washed again. I hate dusting all the counter tops, window sills and tables only to have that dust settle again and again and again. Absolutely all of the jobs that I do are never ending, I have to do the same work over and over and sometimes that really gets me down. The feeling that I'm never making progress will fill my head and that darkness will grow until I can't keep it in any more and I will break down in tears. It doesn't happen often but when it does I really do feel like I'm not worth anything, as if the work I do doesn't count.

The strange thing is that even though this is how I feel about the housework I can also feel the exact opposite. As you've probably gathered, if you're a regular reader, there have been a few things getting to me of late and I've felt that breaking point heading towards me fast. I never know what to do when I recognise the symptoms and usually I will just face that breakdown and let it pass but this time I've managed to abate it. You'll never guess what did it... Cleaning!

I know, odd right? I didn't actually decide that I was going to clean to try and get rid of my building darkness, that's not something I would ever think of given that it's the cleaning that usually causes it. I have friends coming over later today and yesterday the house looked like it had had various bombs land on it. A bomb filled with toys - Lego, Moshi Monsters and super hero figures had landed on the carpet in the lounge. One filled with bread crumbs and crisps had landed around the coffee table and sofa and another filled with paper, crayons, felt tips and colouring books had exploded all over my dining table. My kitchen didn't look much better and I knew there was some serious cleaning required. I got stuck in to it and spent most of the day tidying things away and making sure the house looked respectable. The more I tidied and cleaned the clearer my head felt and when I looked at my gleaming kitchen I smiled. I was actually achieving something.

By the time I'd finished my whole body ached, my arms felt like lead and my legs didn't want to move but my mind was brighter, the darkness had gone. Not only had I cleaned my house but I'd cleaned my mind too, who'd have thought?

After the kids had gone to bed the hubby and I settled down to watch a movie and last night we chose Music & Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. If you love 80's music and romantic comedies then this is the movie for you, it's got all the necessary ingredients of a great movie. Before I knew it it was bed time and I realised I hadn't blogged at all so I took the computer upstairs with me to get on with some work. And that's when the internet decided to start playing up. I couldn't comment on the blogs I'd read and I couldn't post my own. That's what you get for living in a village I guess, intermittent internet problems. So here I am, early Wednesday morning writing my blog post.

I'm happy today, my darkness has subsided and I'm feeling bright and optimistic. Who knew cleaning could be so therapeutic?

How about you - is there something that's surprised you this week?

Mama and More
Post Comment Love

You Suck!

On Thursday I wrote the poem A Long Day Ahead about feeling alone whilst the boys were at school and the hubby was out. I found that I didn't know what to do with myself and the house was too quiet. This came as a surprise to me because usually I really enjoy that quiet time and taking advantage of being in the house on my own.

Well let's just say that that feeling soon disappeared. Thursday was their last day at school, Friday was an inset day and now they're on half term. Yep, that dreaded time when I have to find something exciting for them to do every day otherwise I'll be 'a shadow of my former self' by the time they go back. To top it off the hubby has another trip to London on Wednesday which means a whole day alone with the boys. I have a few ideas of things to do this week but some of them depend on weather, which is never a good bet in this country!

My plan for today is to take the boys to Wollaton Park in Nottingham to go on a dinosaur trek. They're holding a Dinosaur Week at Wollaton Hall and you can pay £2 to reconstruct your own dinosaur just like scientists do. This should be a great outing, Big Prince loves dinosaurs and has since he was two years old. A phase we thought would quickly pass but seems to have stuck, whenever he's given the chance dinosaurs is what he chooses to talk about!

We've spent some time playing games with the boys so far, the Wii U was definitely a good purchase. The game Wii U Party is probably the best thing for a family because you can all play together and this is the game we play in an evening. Last night we played, just like the previous night, and slowly I can see Little Prince getting better and better at his controls.  The first time we played Wii U Party he got very frustrated at a lot of the games, particularly ones where he had to point at the TV and press a button, his coordination is not quite there for that yet. However, steadily he is able to take part in, and enjoy the games and last night he beat his dad at a lot of the mini-games - he was very proud of himself.

What we found most amusing was when he beat his brother at a game and BP started to sulk, LP jumped up off his seat, danced around in front of BP and sang 'You suck, you suck, you suck, suck, suck!' Now I know I shouldn't have laughed but I couldn't help it, LP waved his finger at BP and wiggled his bottom and it was such a picture that the laugh just burst out of me. It's times like these that you spot their own little personality and it can be really entertaining sometimes. 

I wasn't really feeling myself yesterday but that glimpse of the person LP is becoming made me feel better. I love seeing their personalities evolve, watching what annoys them, what they love and most of all what they enjoy doing, it gives me an idea of the type of people they are going to be. I couldn't be happier with my boys and although I know those teen years are going to be hard I can't wait to watch them grow into well-rounded men. They make me proud every day (most of the time!) and even when they're fighting like cats and dogs I know they love each other really.

Do you have any exciting plans for your family in the half term? 
What little things about your children make you smile?

The Day Arrives!

The day has arrived and I'm not talking about Valentine's, oh no. I've already said that me and the hubby haven't been bothered about Valentines Day for a while now. No, the hubby and I have been waiting for February 14th for a long time, ever since we found out that was the release date for House of Cards series 2.

If you haven't seen House of Cards - Why not? You should, but let me tell you a little about it first. House of Cards is an American political drama television series, a Netflix original production which was produced by Beau Willimon. It follows the story of Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey - awesome actor), a Democrat from Carolina's 5th Congressional District and House Majority Whip. Now if you're anything like me (being from the UK) you understood everything until I said 'Democrat' but actually that doesn't matter because you soon will when you watch the series. The show also stars Robin Wright who played Jenny in Forrest Gump and Kate Mara who was in Transsiberrian. Together they make the series absolutely fantastic.

So as I said the hubby and I have been waiting for today and last night before going to bed we checked what time House of Cards was going to be released. It turned out that at 8.01am UK time it would be available for viewing and we couldn't have been more excited! 

This morning we hurried out of bed, got the kids their breakfast and scuttled into our room to watch the first episode of series 2. Now I'm not going to write any spoilers, I think they're awful and I'd rather you all go and watch the thing instead of me telling you about it but I am going to say you definitely should go and watch it. The first episode of series 2 pulls you back into the story straight away and is truly shocking. I think my actual words were "Did that just happen?!" and the hubby said that's just what he was thinking. It was probably the best start to a series I have ever seen and I can't wait to see more. 

There's the thing about Netflix that I love - I don't have to wait a whole week before watching another episode. I could, if I wanted to, load up Netflix and sit and watch episode 2 right now because they have released the whole series straight away. That's how TV should work, no waiting for a week between episodes and no airing at different times in America and the UK. Just simply log into Netflix, click on House of Cards and start watching. Awesome.

I don't think there has been a series I've liked more since Lost and I couldn't recommend it enough. The hubby and I are big TV/movie junkies and House of Cards gets right up there in our favourites list. Go watch it, like - RIGHT NOW!!! I know I'm going to.

Do you have a favourite show you're excited about seeing again? Is there something you miss because it ended?

Post Comment Love

A Long Day Ahead

Today I have the house to myself, the boys are at school and the Hubby has to drive to London for a meeting. I've been looking forward to it all week because it meant I'd have the whole house to myself, it was going to be really quiet. What I didn't count on was feeling like I'd rather have all my boys at home with me. I normally enjoy this time alone but today, not so much.

A Long Day Ahead

I close the door behind me
Turn the key to lock
Press the buttons on the pad
And look at the clock

Only six hours to go
Til the house is filled with sound
Why do I want it so
Want you all to be around?

The silence fills my ears
So loud I want to scream
Throbbing in my head and tears?
I miss you, it would seem.

Never thought the day would come
That I crave the noise and mess
Being alone is no fun,
I never would've guessed.

A coffee before I reach my limit
Maybe that will ease my pain
Only five hours and 58 minutes
Until I see you again.

A quick poem written and I feel a little better. It's funny how you think you want something until you get it, only to find that it's not what you wanted after all. My boys, including the Hubby, drive me mad a lot of the time but they also fill my days with smiles and fun. I'm not sure how I would cope without them. A day alone has turned out to be a lot more boring than I thought it would and I can't wait for them all to get home. I think I may well insist that this doesn't happen again, maybe I'll plan a shopping day next time!

Prose for Thought

A New Toy

At around midnight last night something amazing happened (get your minds out of the gutter!) and it had nothing to do with the Hubby. Well it had a little to do with him but... let me explain.

Since the hubby bought my Macbook Air I have been an Apple girl all the way. I have an iPhone 5, an iPad 4 and my Macbook. In my office is the iMac too and there is nothing on this earth that could ever make me want to go back to using Windows. It's just not going to happen. The same thing goes for my phone, nothing is going to make me want to change to an Android phone, I had those things for years and was always jealous of the Hubby and his iPhone.

The thing that Apple do well is considering user experience and making it a priority. Anything you think you may want to do with an iPhone they have thought of and come up with an elegant and simple way of allowing you to do it. The apps on the app store are awesome and all run well and they can't interfere with each other and almost everything is simple to use (a bonus for me!).

There's one thing that annoys me about the iPad though and given what I do, it's a biggy. I write a blog and I read blogs. Lots of them. Most of the time I want to comment on said blogs and maybe share them too. This is where the iPad falls down. I have tried and tried (and tried) to get along with the iPad while reading blogs and constantly having re-input my comments because they keep disappearing but with adding more blogs to my reading list and them adding up every day I decided I needed an alternative.

Enter the Nexus 7. Now let me explain that I am not going to rave about how awesome the Nexus 7 is - after all I've already said that I'm not an Android fan. However the one thing that the Nexus 7 can do is allow me to comment on all blogs whenever I choose. Last night, around dinner time, I decided to borrow the hubby's Nexus 7 that he uses for work (occasionally) and test drive the blog commenting. By the time it was charged and updated I decided to wait until I was in bed to read blogs. So at midnight I picked up the Nexus 7 and began reading through a few blogs where I'd got behind and tried commenting. To my amazement it worked first time. First. Time. No reentering, no disappearing text. It just worked.

Being an Apple girl this kind of goes against all that I believe in but the Nexus 7 has been added to the list of devices that I can't do without. Admittedly it will sit on my bedside table and only be used for reading blogs when I'm not at the computer but I have found it's purpose and that makes me happy. It means I can keep loving the iPad, I don't have to abandon my iPhone and most of all I get to use a new toy!

What toys do you have in your house? Are there any you don't have that you'd love to receive?


Cross-stitch Progress Week 3

Well here we are again and I'm slowly working my way through this immense project. I've done a bit more than usual this week, I seem to be getting better at managing my time and this means more time for the stuff I enjoy. Yay me!

It's finally starting to look like something

I always feel better when you can find the part you're stitching on the main picture, I feel more motivated by it for some reason. I'm really glad I've been able to do more this week as I'm more relaxed when I can get some stitching in. It's surprising how therapeutic it is sometimes but it's like I'm stitching away my stress as I search for my next thread and pull it through the aida. 

Time for a Change

When I was a teenager I never imagined that I would be a stay-at-home mum, it was one of those things that I vowed never to do. My dreams weren't huge, I learned what I would be good at and decided that I wanted to be a P.A. for a businessman who worked all over the world. I dreamed of travelling for work, having a fancy apartment with sophisticated decoration and not having to worry about money.

I got my first ever job when I was 19, I was an office junior working at a manufacturing company. I hated it. I did all the work that I considered 'rubbish', I had to open the post, do lots of photocopying and the occasional bit of typing. I spent a lot of my time hating that job, particularly when I had to man reception - having to spend all day with a headpiece on answering calls. Yep, I really hated that job. On one occasion one of the head of departments approached me about helping out in the accounts department and I was happy to be taken away from that awful reception. Whilst working for this guy on accounting stuff and doing various in depth reports I learned that that was what I really enjoyed.

I moved house later that year, to a completely different area and had to leave that job. For the next few years I found jobs, some I hated and some I loved but what I remember most about that time is when I got passed over for promotion because people thought I was too young. That hurt. I eventually found a job setting up and running an office on a building site. This has to be, by far, my favourite job. When I entered the place the 'office' was just a room with one table, a chair and a telephone. I fell pregnant with BP about a year after getting the job and when I left for maternity leave that office was a fully functioning department. It had filing cabinets full of various files, the desk had now multiplied and there were four, two with computers sitting atop. Just as I was leaving I was talking to the company about changing their entire accounting system to work better for off-site stuff and they were doing a trial of my new system. I was so proud to be able to leave that job having made a difference and I think, had I not left to have babies then I'd still be working for that company now. 

Fast forward nearly ten years and these memories seem eons ago. I have two boys who are growing fast and fighting constantly every day, I clean, put the dishwasher on and do the ironing. Unfortunately this stuff doesn't really fill that need to be proud of myself. I want to feel like I've achieved something, like I'm making a difference. 

My writing kind of fills that void, sometimes. When things are going well I'm really pleased with myself and know that this is what I'm meant to be doing but when that writer's block comes to visit I always feel deflated and question myself. I don't dream of the 'big time' when it comes to my writing, I don't want to be the next Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling but I'd like to think I can write an exciting story. The one thing that holds me back is getting out of my little office at home and going out to do research, talking to people and asking questions. This is the thing I can't do anymore. After years of being at home I seem to have lost that ability to actually talk to strangers. This is part of the reason I've decided not to attend BritMums Live this year, I am absolutely terrified of being in that room with loads of people I don't know. 

For now I'm working on getting out of this stupid rut I've got myself into. Every day I make myself talk to someone new, whether that be in the school playground, at the supermarket or going out and doing real research for my book. I've been working on these stories for so long that I think it's time to stop hiding and get on with making me proud of myself again.

Is there something you've forgotten how to do? 
What are your ambitions?

Mama and More

Who Needs Valentines Day

We all know that Valentines Day is coming up this Friday and for most of us it's a chance to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us. This particular day is meant to be the time you tell someone you love them, send a card to a secret love or simply say those three special words.

After being together for 11 years, spent 11 years buying gifts for all those special days and not really having anything on that 'want' list, the hubby and I have decided not to bother with buying cards this year. Those three special words are heard every day and we already have our day planned (Netflix House of Cards Marathon! WOOHOO!) so it seems pointless spending money on a piece of card that says we love each other.

We actually decided a long time ago that we didn't need Valentines Day in order to tell each other how we feel or spend time together. Most evenings are spent together watching movies, new TV shows or our old favourites and we both assign that as 'our time'.

Sometimes work can get in the way and when the hubby is busy it becomes less possible to watch our shows every day. Life gets hectic with children's birthday parties and school trips and we fall into a routine, watching every day fly by and not really paying attention.

We still spend our time together but it's just part of the routine and seems less important somehow. That changed for me this weekend. I spent last week talking a lot (to the hubby) about buying a theme for my blog and how I wanted it to look 'neater'. I'd been on loads of websites and thought I'd found one that I liked but when I told him that I was going to buy it he told me to wait until the weekend. I asked him why and he said he would help me sort stuff out so I plodded through the rest of the week. I didn't really know what to expect from the weekend.

Saturday morning came and after feeding everyone and entertaining the children I asked the hubby if he would help me. A long story short we spent the entire weekend working on my blog, getting the look just right, creating pictures and icons and the hubby didn't stop until I was happy with it. Him being a programmer really helped and he was able to explain a few things to me so that I can do stuff on my own in future.

My hubby can get very busy with work and even this weekend I know he was planning on getting more work done but instead he helped me. We've spent hours going through everything, tweaking bits here and there and I am really happy with the outcome. I think if I'd done it myself or bought a theme then the outcome would've been very different and I probably wouldn't have been very happy with it. 

That's when I realised I didn't need Valentines Day at all because the hubby shows me how much he loves me all the time, particularly when I need help. He's spent the whole weekend trying to make me happy and I can't thank him enough.

Do you have Valentines Day plans?
Do you love it when your partner surprises you or is it simply spending time together that makes you happy?

Olympic Google Doodle

This morning, just as I was about to take the boys to school I got a tweet from @seyonce_knowles asking me my opinion on Google’s new doodle. Huh? What doodle? Were my immediate thoughts but I said I’d check them out and let her know, she also mentioned it may be a great discussion topic over on the blog and I think she’s right. 

Today Google’s doodle is this:

If you haven’t heard Russia is hosting the Winter Olympic Games this year and they open today, the Opening Ceremony is due to take place at 4pm. Russia also has some anti-gay laws that are actually quite shocking, especially when you find out that homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in 1999. There’s two things about that that make my head spin - 1. It was declassified in 1999 - doesn’t that seem like only yesterday? (or does that just make me sound old) and 2. It was classified as a mental illness in the first place. I mean really?

These laws have made the headlines around the world and today Google have made a stand with their logo. As you can see it shows people playing different kinds of sports with the rainbow colours in the background, a nod to the row of gay rights in Russia. I think this is a fantastic and elegant way of showing their support and as you can see in the picture they have also quoted the Olympic Charter. The quote says:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” - Olympic Charter

In this day and age I didn’t think it was still possible for people to face such discrimination but it turns out that I am very wrong. Things are bad in Russia, not all people are considered equal and I, for one, disagree with that. No one should feel they must change their sexual preferences because they would like to get a job or live in a particular place. But Russia is not the only place where people have these views and unfortunately even in this country gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people face discrimination every day. People get beat up, called names or simply get ‘that look’.

As far as I am concerned we are all equal, regardless of sexual preferences, disabilities or opinions and we are all entitled to live our life without fear of discrimination. 

Good-on-ya Google, great logo!

Do you have an opinion on the row in Russia? 

Post Comment Love

Thoughts of Yesterday

Thursday has landed again and that means it’s time for #Prose4T. I have to admit that I’ve struggled today, there was so much going around in my head and I couldn’t decide on what to write. I stared at the computer screen for a while and thought about my boys. BP is going to be turning 10 in August and this absolutely terrifies me, he’s already in that tween stage and has got the sulking down to an art. As I remembered him as a baby I was inspired and tapped out this little poem, I’ve said before I’m not very good at poems and this is probably the best I can do but I think it gets across what I’m trying to say.

Thoughts of Yesterday

Your blue eyes sparkle as you sit and play
I wonder where the years have gone
It seems only yesterday
That you turned just one.

You’re getting bigger, almost taller than me
Now, don’t you grow too fast
I remember you shouting ‘weeeee’
On your bike as you zoomed past.

I watch you sometimes wondering why
You have to leave behind
Your childhood in the glimpse of an eye
I want to just rewind.

I see my boy with sparkling eyes
Playing with his toys
Then blinking and looking up at the sky
He’s now one of the boys.

Double digits are about to land
In our house so loud
I wish I could make a stand
But I know you’ll make me proud.

When our children are babies we always have the people around us saying how we should enjoy the time while they’re little because it’ll be gone quick. I often laughed and thought it was ridiculous but you know what, they were right. Who knew? I can’t believe it’s been almost ten years since BP was born, we’ve done so much in that time and underneath the grumpy tween he can be very caring and sweet. I just wish I’d listened to those snippets of wisdom when I had the chance.

Prose for Thought

Birthday Celebrations

Ten years ago the hubby turned thirty and I thought it would be a great idea to surprise him. I phoned all of his family and invited them out for a meal with us, I booked the restaurant and waited for the day to arrive. He had no idea that I’d done it and when his family arrived on the evening of his birthday he was really surprised. I was so happy and almost cried! We headed out to the restaurant I’d booked weeks before, all smiles and excitement for the night’s festivities. Arriving at the restaurant I lead the party inside and told the host my name, he scanned his sheet but couldn’t find it. I was devastated. I had the whole night planned and it began with this booking but somehow they’d managed to lose the booking and fill up their restaurant so that we couldn’t eat there. We left the restaurant in search of somewhere else to eat, me in tears. I felt like the hubby’s birthday celebrations had been completely ruined, because of me. In the end we found somewhere else to eat and had a great night but after that day I boycotted the restaurant and haven’t been back since. I felt like they’d made me look incompetent and stupid and it wasn’t even my mistake.

Well, this year the hubby turns 40 and even though I thought that thirty was a big day for him, forty is even bigger. I want it to be perfect. Instead of doing everything in secret I decided to ask him what he wanted, did he want a party or to go out for a meal or just sit in the house and drink all night? It turns out he had an idea of what he wanted and I went ahead and tried to organise it. He wanted a meal with the family, including all the children, and then to go out drinking and he even had a restaurant in mind. Altogether there would be 15 of us and I figured it would be best to get it booked as soon as possible, unfortunately the restaurant of choice were unwilling to accommodate a party of 15 without restricting us to a ‘party menu’. This meant restricted choices and limited time to eat. The hubby didn’t like the idea of this and tried arguing with the restaurant, to no avail. For some reason this restaurant didn’t want to take our booking even though we pointed out that we would spend much more money than the ‘party menu’ and would most likely spend the whole evening eating and drinking. I wondered why their preference was to turn away a group of people who are willing to spend the evening drinking their alcohol and eating their food, it didn't make any sense.

So we had to get our thinking caps on, we wanted everyone to be happy with the selection and for hours we couldn’t think of anything. Eventually I told the hubby he should be thinking about what he wants, not what everyone else would prefer. His second choice was a sushi restaurant but with a family of people who dislike fish he was unsure whether or not to book it. In the end I did, like I said it’s all about what he wants, it is his special day after all. I phoned everyone and told them they could either come to our selection or choose not to but that’s where we were going. Everyone said they would come and I confirmed the booking with the restaurant. 

My hubby’s 40th birthday celebrations are sorted, we have a plan and he’s really looking forward to the evening. A meal at one of his favourite restaurants with the whole family then the parents are going to take the children so that me and the hubby can continue the celebrations. I think a night of drinking, dancing and maybe a trip to a casino is in order - all the time making sure that the hubby has the best birthday he’s ever had.

Are you celebrating any big birthdays this year? What plans have you made/going to make?


Cross-stitch Progress Week 2

Just a quick one today as I’m busy researching and learning how to update my blog and get it looking how I want. Luckily the hubby has promised to help and him being a programmer is a huge bonus! But anyway back to the subject of the post, my cross-stitch.

As you can see from the photo I’ve made a little more progress than I did last week but again I’ve had lots on after school. LP has had weekend parties to go to, BP has been organising trips to friends houses and the hubby has wanted to have a lazy weekend. I can slowly see the picture coming together and this is great for me because that’s what encourages me to continue.

The hubby may be starting to work a bit more which means that I have time to spend on the cross-stitch so in the next few weeks we may see more progress. Here’s hoping…

My Desert Island Discs

On Saturday evening I was thrilled to be tagged by Victoria Welton over at Verily Victoria Vocalises in the Desert Island Discs thingy. Just like Victoria I love music and it’s a big part of my life, I spend most hours in front of the computer with all different music playing and this is a great opportunity to tell you all what my favourites are.

As Victoria explains, you’re allowed to select 8 pieces of music, one book and one luxury item. I have to admit that I’ve been thinking about this all weekend and I’m still struggling a little bit but I’m going to try…

#1 - Turn Me On by Norah Jones

This was the song me and the hubby had our ‘first dance’ to on our wedding day. Whenever I hear it I transport back to that most awesome day, me in my glorious ivory dress and a great big smile on my face.

Game-free Afternoon

I don’t know how many times I’ve said this recently but my boys are gamers, they love nothing more that switching on the Xbox, picking up the controller and immersing themselves in the computerised world. Gaming is what they spend most of their time doing and when they’re not actually playing games they’re thinking about playing games (or nagging me to let them play games). If it’s not the Xbox then it’s the Wii U or the iPad and I often wonder what our life would be like if we didn’t have these things.

The police truck half-finished
Yesterday was a usual Sunday, the first thing the boys wanted to do was play Lego Marvel on the Xbox and being Sunday I caved. I let them play for a while and then braced myself for the complaints when I told them to turn it off. As usual there was lots of moaning and groaning and I got rather annoyed, I began to feel like they shouldn’t be allowed to play at all if that’s how they were going to react when I say it’s time to turn it off. I said this to them and only got more complaints. I gave up and went to sulk.

A little while later I wandered into the lounge to find that Little Prince had tipped out his lego onto the carpet and was trying to build a police truck. He asked me to help and I couldn’t resist so I rummaged in the cabinet for the instructions for a lego police truck and once I’d found it we set about finding the pieces. It took a while but in the end we managed to finish it. What amazed me was what happened after we’d finished. Instead of immediately asking if they could play games they both carried on playing with the lego. They have tons of mini-figs and love swapping the bodies around so they’d emptied all of those onto the table and they were playing cops and robbers with mini-figs! 

What I loved about yesterday afternoon was that they spent about 4 hours playing with the lego together with no arguments. This very rarely happens in our house and I was so pleased that they did it. I stood in the lounge doorway, just before dinner, and watched them for around ten minutes. I listened to LP as his imagination took flight and he was talking about superheroes helping the police and the robbers being bad guys. BP joined in and gave the mini-figs capes and made all sorts of fighting sounds. It was a really magical moment, especially considering that I hadn’t told them to take the whole afternoon away from the games and I think it did them the world of good. In future I may well designate Sunday afternoon as a ‘no games’ time.

The truck, a bit blurry - it's impossible to 
get a 4 yr old to hold still!