Monthly Archives: February 2014

Returning to work.

One week today I go back to work. I’ve had 11 months off, and as its so close I thought I would write a little about it.

My job was as a social worker with older people. It’s a great job in so many ways. I always wanted to work with older people, and before doing it I would have described it as my dream job. However, working full time with a 2 year old, a house to run and everything else is so stressful – I really struggled. My job was stressful too – so many different challenges and no day was ever like another. I was good at it – I had really good comments from some people I worked with and families, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist at work – I used to work in the evening to finish stuff off when I needed to, and when things worked well it was brilliant. However, working within ever tightening budgets, the never ending paperwork and the cases where there was no good answer and whatever you did was making the best of a bad situation were always so hard. I had lots of sleepless nights worrying and hoping that I’d done the best I could do.

Anyway, I’ve had 11 months off and it’s been amazing. Just not feeling completely stressed out and exhausted, not having a complete tip of a house and beans on toast for tea 4 nights a week, and having quality time with my 2 girls has been absolutely brilliant. I’ve loved it all – it’s not always been easy, but it has always been worth it. And having our family become a family of 4 – having Rosie has been amazing. She’s a wonderful baby, she makes me smile and makes my heart melt so much. I couldn’t ask for more, and I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to have this time off with my baby.

As I return to work, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I’ve got my head around going back now, and in many ways I’m looking forward to it. It helps that I’m returning part time (2.5 days) so I think this should be a much better balance and ill still have lots of time with my girls. Amelia is really looking forward to having time with her childminder again as she has a good relationship with her.

And my job is different when I go back. I applied for and got a different role – same team, just slightly different. I’m going to be focussing on people with dementia, and also taking on supervision and some other bits. I hope it won’t be too much in part time hours, will have to wait and see how it goes. But I am looking forward to being able to do some intensive support for people, to get to know them well and make a difference – that’s why I do what I do, that’s the part of my job that I love. When someone trusts me and knows that ill always be honest, listen to them and try my very best for them, that makes me feel like I’m doing something good.

I will keep posted on how it goes – the only thing I’m worried about is how Rosie will cope on Mondays – this is the day that she will be in childcare from 8.15 to 5.45 so it’s a really long day for her. This is my big worry, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so just have to work with it for now and see how she is.

Fingers crossed!
Xx

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Bucket list

I’ve thought about doing this post for ages, and never quite got round to it. But today I’m in absolute agony with neck pain – this is the second day I’ve had it and I’m struggling to move, let alone look after my two girls (at the minute one is napping, the other has gone out with her grandad, thank God.) It really is hard – I’ve shouted at Amelia today (proper shouted) because instead of coming downstairs to play in the room where I could keep an eye on what mess she was making she went upstairs and ignored me. I feel awful that I can’t plan activities, can’t play with them and can’t take them out because of this neck. If its no better tomorrow ill be going to a and e or the out of hours doctors I think.

Anyway, I digress.

Because of that, I’ve realised that we take health for granted – it could be gone, just like that. So I’m going to write my list of things I want to do in the next few years, and come back to update and tick off what I’ve done from time to time. Some of these we already have planned (for example, we have a Centerparcs holiday booked – cant wait!) but I’ve still put it as we haven’t actually been yet. So here goes:

1. Take the girls on a camping holiday.
2. Have an overnight stay in Liverpool with Craig.
3. Go to Centreparcs again.
4. Learn to use a sewing machine.
5. Finish my cross stitch.
6. See a west end show in London.
7. Visit my sister in law Abi in London (with Amelia).
8. Decorate the house so that it’s how we want it.
9. Get to my overall target weight (9 stone) – 1 stone to go.
10. Grow some herbs and vegetables in my garden.
11. Stay overnight in the Alton towers hotel, and go to the waterpark with the girls.
12. Go abroad.
13. Get better at running.
14. Enter and run a race (5k)
15. Go on a long bike rode.
16. Stay in a caravan.
17. Go on an overnight shopping trip with my mum and sisters.
18. Learn to make a nice soup.
19. Host a ‘proper’ dinner party (come dine with me style!)
20. Do Go Ape again.
21. Do something really romantic for Craig (book a surprise night away, or something really nice as a surprise at home.)
22. Go to the circus.
23. Spend a whole day in bed (obviously when the girls are out!)
24. Ride a horse.
25. Do something that’s for someone else (charity work.)

I think that’s it for now. I’m not a dare devil – I couldn’t do bungee jumping or anything like that. This list is just a list of my hopes and aims in the next 2 years or so (If I can do half before I’m 30 next year I’d be happy.
Xxx

Quiche with tarragon crust..

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I love making quiche. My boyfriend isn’t that keen on it (he doesn’t like quiche generally, theres nothing wrong with my recipe!) so I don’t make it often, but I just love it. I don’t like the shop bought ones though, so when I make it it has to be home made. Especially because its so simple. It does take a bit of time, but there’s nothing complicated about it.

First, make the pastry. I make my own shortcrust pastry, but if you do have less time there’s nothing wrong with buying the ready made stuff. I added tarragon to it, just for a bit of extra flavour (and because I love tarragon!). I’m not going to give the recipe for pastry too as it can easily and quickly be found online.

Ingredients:
Short crust pastry (4oz roughly), but basically just enough to line the tin.

Filling:
4oz cooked ham (or bacon.)
3oz grated cheese – I use mature Cheddar as I like it strong.
2 medium eggs
1/4 milk

1. Heat oven to 190 degrees / gas mark 5.
2. Line a sandwich tin with pastry (make sure it is greased first.) cover with greaseproof paper, add baking balls and blind bake for 25 minutes.
3. When the pastry is ready, remove from oven and allow the pastry to cool.
4. Place half the cheese in the bottom of the pastry case, and cover with the ham.
5. Beat eggs and milk together, and pour over the cheese and bacon.
6. Add the remaining cheese.
7. Bake for around 40 minutes until set and golden brown.

Trust me, it’s gorgeous!
Xxx

Less technology time…

Things have changed a little in our house lately.

We’ve always used the iPad daily – I check my emails and am on and off it throughout the day. But then the other day i started noticing how my 4 year old was getting a little bit obsessed with it herself. It has Netflix, and she likes YouTube episodes of pepper pig. It has a few games for her, and music. A little bit I don’t mind, but I put it away the other day, and every few minutes she started looking for it, or asking where the iPad was. It worried me a bit – I think that technology is great for kids in lots of ways – we’ve looked up songs about planets, letters and numbers for example. But, i think that we’ve overused it lately – it’s been easier for me while I’m sorting my baby out, and it’s kind of become a habit.

So I thought about it, and made a new rule. No iPad in the day. That’s for me and for my daughter. I can’t tell her she can’t use it if I use it through the day, that doesn’t feel fair to me. There are exceptions – if we are learning something specific that the iPad will help with, we can get it out. And I’ve agreed to have some ‘iPad time’ for my daughter each day – probably around 4ish for half an hour so I can start getting tea ready. But – for both of us we need to change our habits, and use our imaginations, have more fun.

It’s working too. It’s felt strange, but it’s meant we have had to find our own entertainment. It’s only been 3 days, but already we’ve played more.

The other day we got out the colinder, and the sieve, pretended they were our space helmets (and Rosie had a bowl!) – the rug was the space rocket, and we went into space. We explored the moon, saw some planets and had lots of fun. And this morning we pretended the room was a park – we pretended to go on the seesaw, the chair was a slide, and we had a picnic of grapes while we were there.

We’ve read lots of books, we’ve drawn and painted more pictures, and we’ve just done more.

It’s difficult for me – I have to think more carefully of ways to entertain my children more imaginatively, and especially in the afternoon this can be difficult. But it’s worth it. I also miss checking any new blog posts, checking twitter and Instagram. I can’t do these things now, but they wait. Can save it all up and do this in the evenings when my girls are asleep. That’s my ‘iPad time.’ It probably means I have less time to blog, and less time to comment on other blogs etc. but sometimes, something has to give, and for me this is one of those things.

My daughter is at her granddads right now, and so I feel that it’s okay to write this post and have a bit of quiet time. But generally, my new general rule will be that if she can’t go on it, I won’t go on it either. I’m putting it out of sight – if we can’t see it then hopefully we will stop thinking about it so much!

In other news, we’ve had a ‘theme’ over half term of the moon, planets and sun. Amelia has learnt loads – I will post all about it next time I get chance. We’ve painted the moon in a night sky, painted a rocket using tissue paper and glitter to decorate it, we’ve read stories, pretended to be astronauts and we have looked up songs about planets on YouTube (these have really helped Amelia to relate to them.) it’s been a lot of fun, and we have both learnt quite a lot this week.

Xxx

Weight loss week 6

Things are going really well for me regarding losing weight. I’m actually feeling really good about it – I feel like my lifestyle habits have actually changed a lot (not perfect, who is?!) but I feel like the changes I’ve made are really helping me. I’m losing weight more consistently than I ever have before, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything as I still plan for the occasional treat food, and I’m seeing a big change in my body shape now – still a way to go, but it’s going well.

This week I’ve lost 4 pounds. This is actually more than I’d planned for, and I may put a little back on next week, I’m not entirely sure. I lost so much because I’ve had a tummy bug – not going into details but I haven’t eaten much at all for 2.5 days, and when I have I’ve just gone to the toilet afterwards! It put me off eating, so other than toast I’ve not really eaten anything much.

I feel better today though, so going to have my cereals in a minute, and eat normally today – hopefully ill feel fine today!

Here are my stats:
Starting weight: 10.13
Week one: 10.9
Week two: 10.8
Week three:10.7
Week four: 10.6
Week five: 10.4
Week six: 10.0

I track all my weight loss on the porridge on tuesday website. I find it really helps me – it has kept me motivated. In the past I’ve always done ‘lose a bit, stay the same, lose a bit, gain a bit’ type of diet – this is actually the first time ever that I’ve lost every single week for this many weeks in a row.

It takes willpower at times, and it takes a bit of thought and planning, but other than that it gets easier the longer I do it. I know this week that my treat days are going to be tonight (going out for tea with a friend) and tomorrow night (valentines day, want to have a meal with my boyfriend in the house.) but ill choose slightly healthier options during the meal out, and I’ll skip pudding. And tomorrow night we will probably have steak, which I can make with wedges rather than chips, some grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, and light mayonnaise. So although they are my treats, they are slightly healthier than I would have made them before.

Losing weight is really not rocket science – it doesn’t take a fad diet or extreme measures. All it takes is a bit of willpower, making changes gradually and a bit of patience. It’s pretty obvious, but there is so much written about it – so many different theories, so many rules in some diets. I feel like if it takes too much though its never going to work long term. What I’m doing can work anytime, and I feel confident that I can maintain this throughout life, rather than starting and stopping silly diets.

Xxx

Interview tips and advice

I had an interview yesterday at work – i applied for a job promotion (I was a social worker with older people – in my new job I take on some management responsibilities, and it focuses on working with people who have dementia.) I got the job, and my feedback afterwards was good, so i thought I would share my tips and advice!

Application form:

1. Seen a job you are interested in? Not sure if it suits you? My first tip would be to read the first basic information, then skip and read the last page (the job specification.) this is a list of requirements for the job. If you fit what they are looking for then go for it. Don’t be afraid – a bit of confidence goes a long way!

2. When writing an application form, I always make sure I address the requirements in the job spec. It is usually broken down into headings, such as ‘experience,’ ‘skills and abilities’ etc. In the additional information I do the same headings, and then address each point to show how I meet each requirement. It’s okay to miss one or two, and if you have already addressed it somewhere else miss it out, but address anything that you haven’t already. I find this organises my thoughts, and gives them all the information they could need. I’ve always had good feedback for doing this, and am happy to give more information – if you do want more information on this point leave me a comment and I can email you a bit more information.

3. When possible give yourself time to do a good application. It takes me 4-5 evenings to complete a form properly – I like to feel happy with everything I’ve written and so take my time. When you’ve finished, proof read it one last time before you send it.

You get an interview. This is the scary bit, where the nervousness begins! I really struggle to control my nerves, so here are my tips for it.

Preparation:

1. Prepare a bit. Not too much though – I’ve made the mistake before of going really in depth with preparation and it didn’t really help me as i focused more on the ‘facts’ than on selling myself). Read through the job description, maybe research a little bit about what the job is about. A little knowledge can really help in an interview.

2. In your head prepare a few answers to possible questions. One that will more than likely be asked is ‘why do you want this role’ or ‘what is your understanding of this role?’ I would say prepare a rough answer to this in your head – I think of a few key words and then it reminds me when my mind goes blank of what I am wanting to say. Also think about your strengths, your weaknesses, and ways to turn weaknesses into strengths. (I talked about how I am not naturally good at challenging others, but over time I have become better at this, and have learnt over time of how I can challenge people effectively while keeping up a good relationship with them. I was honest about my weakness, but turned it around to show that I am learning to do it now.)

3. Feel confident. I bought something new to wear for my interview – I wore a dress, and I felt really confident in it, and this made me come across more confidently in my interview. If you can’t afford something new, just look through what you have in advance and find something that you feel confident wearing, and is giving across a ‘professional’ image of yourself.

4. Keep busy beforehand. Luckily I have kids, so didn’t have time before my interview to think too much about it, other than a couple of evenings and a bit of time when i was driving. When thinking of interviews I feel sick and shaky, so for me this was a positive that i didn’t think too much about it.

The interview:

1. Be on time (5-10 minutes early is perfect!)

2. Be yourself. This is all you can ever be – be friendly, and it’s even fine to admit you are nervous. Nobody likes interviews, and the interviewers are aware of this.

3. Remember, the interviewers want to help. They want you to be good enough for the post, and will help where they can (mostly!) to get you to expand on answers. They’re just people too, they’re not looking to trip you up.

4. Be honest. I was honest about both my strengths and weaknesses – I really wanted the post and made sure this came across in my interview.

5. Remember the simple answers too! It’s easy to want to show your knowledge, and go in depth. But don’t forget the basics – that you listen, that you have good people skills, good communication skills etc. give examples if you can – show them who you are.

6. I’ve just said it, but when you can give an example. If you’ve done something before that links to a question, tell them. I talked about cases where I’ve made a difference for example, and this helps them to see how you work in real life.

7. Ask for the question to be repeated if you need it. I did this a couple of times – it gave me a bit more time to think about my answer, and to be clear about what I wanted to say.

After the interview:

1. Try not to cringe at all you did or didn’t say!! Okay – this is impossible, but just try 🙂 even though I got the job, I’m still cringing a bit even now at a couple of answers where I got a bit off track, and did or didn’t say something I wish I had / hadn’t!)

2. Don’t worry. In the past I did an interview where I felt I really messed up (I’m not naturally good at interviews, and I struggled.) I didn’t think I’d got it, but actually they gave me a chance and I got that job – my feedback then was that although I needed some guidance and support they had seen something in me and felt I could be good at the job. So even if you feel that all is lost, it isn’t.

I hope all of this helps – I know it’s horrible, I find interviews one of the hardest things to do, so I thought I’d write down my own experience in the hope that it helps just one other person!

Good luck
Xxx

Siblings, month two

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This month I wanted to capture something that makes me smile everyday. My oldest daughter sharing with her baby sister. She does this all the time – gives her tastes of her food, shares fruit and raisins and plays toys with her.

The photos show a moment when we were in the car; we were waiting for my sister who was in the dentist. I’d taken some raisins for Amelia while we were in the car. She wanted to share with Rosie so I let her out of her seatbelt and she stood and shared the raisins between them – it was a nice moment to watch, and comes so naturally for her. My two girls really do have a natural friendship that I hope they don’t lose over time.

I love that Amelia is thinking of her sister as well as herself, and is never greedy with her things, she makes sure Rosie shares what she has.

I love my girls.

I have joined in the the siblings linky, started by a number of bloggers including mummydaddyme. It captures siblings together once a month to see how they change over time. Feel free to join in too! Xxx

Xxx

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Silent Sunday

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Good news Friday..

I’m doing my Friday positives again today – this week has gone so fast, I’ve only just remembered that its time to do this again. I’m a bit grumpy right now though (Rosie woke up at 5 so I’m tired!) so thinking of the positives will be good for me. Here goes:

1. I’ve lost 2 pounds this week. Weigh day was yesterday. It brings my total loss to 9 pounds, so I’m really pleased. Since January I haven’t gained anything. The last week went well too – I felt really positive about my eating and exercise all week. I can see a big difference in m tummy area (my least favourite area after 2 girls!) too. Not with clothes on so much, but that will come in time.

2. I went spinning last night. It was hard work – I did 30 minutes and that was enough! But it was something different – I’ve been to the gym twice too and worked hard, but I enjoyed the spinning class and will be doing it again next week.

3. I saw my friend Zara and her lovely daughter. Our girls played really nicely, we had cookies which I baked, and it was good to catch up with her. She’s having another baby, due next month too, can’t wait to meet her new baby boy.

4. Last weekend we saw my unofficial sister in law. She came home from London for the weekend, and we all love seeing her. Amelia loves her to bits, and loves spending time with her auntie. And we had a lovely Sunday dinner with her and Craig’s parents. We had a nice lazy Sunday actually.

5. We’ve spent a lot of time this week listening to the frozen soundtrack. Amelia loves dancing and singling along to it, and puts it on whenever she gets the chance. I like it too, which is lucky!

I think that’s it for this week. I’ve been really tired this week, but it’s still been a good week. ,y return to work it getting closer and closer too – I’m dreading it but a the same time part of me just wants to get it over with now, and get used to the new routine.

Xxx

The ordinary moments – smiles.

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It’s such an ordinary thing. Baby smiles. But this is something I know ill never forget. I may not remember every smile Rosie has ever given me, but for my whole life ill never forget my smiling newborn, and my happy baby. Ill never forget how naturally smiling comes for her. I’ll never forget how she brightens up my day with just one cheeky, eye crinkling, chubby cheeked grin.

You see, my oldest girl was different. She smiled of course, but she wasn’t a natural smiler. Her smiles as a baby were like a reward – you had to work to get one, and smiling at strangers (or even non strangers!) was often out of the question. At times i wished she would be smiley, but this just wasn’t part of her personality. Rosie on the other hand smiles all the time, easily. She smiles at the other parents during the school run, smiles at strangers, and basically at anyone. It’s still a novelty for me, this smiler of mine. And I enjoy this part of her personality so much – the world is just such a bright, happy place for her, and her smiles make my day bright too.

As always, I have joined in with mummydaddyme, the ordinary moments, to capture the ordinary moments which are the ones I will always want to remember.
Xxx