Friday, 3 March 2017

A poem

For the last month I've been attending a creative writing course.  I've always liked to write, that's why I've had blogs for so many years.. I like to write poetry though I don't think I've ever shared any of my own poems here.  I'm under no illusion that I am a skilled poet.  It's a process, something that, with practice, hopefully you improve at!  But I don't write poems for any reason other than I enjoy doing so and I find it an effective way of expressing myself.  This week at my writing class I shared a poem I wrote and I thought I'd share it here too.  So, here goes.

Voices in my head - A Villanelle 


A cacophony of voices in my head
I don't want to hear what they say
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said

Care for the boys, ensure they are fed
Be present for them; that's what will pay
A cacophony of voices in my head

Through coping, anxiety pools like lead
Ignore the voices, get through the day
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said 

How do I fill time? It fills me with dread
Chores, tasks, coercion; still I hear what they say
A cacophony of voices in my head

Stop fighting! Be Kind! My patients hangs by a thread
Occasional pockets of enjoyment though tempers still fray
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said

I still watch the clock, longing for bed
And when finally I rest, the diminish of the day
A cacophony of voices in my head
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Quality leather bags with a mission.

I love clothing and accessories.  I don't follow trends religiously or go crazy for brands.  I don't have the time or the money.  But I do get excited when I discover a brand that are about more than just creating an item of clothing, a bag or shoes.  If I can, I love to buy as ethically as possible.  It's why I love organic cotton or buying second hand.

I came across MAHI leather bags recently.  Several things about them as a brand caught my eye.  Firstly, they have an actual mission statement:

"MAHI’s mission: To connect consumers with craftsmen, offer unmatched value, and hopefully do some good along way."

MAHI believe that consumers don't get a good deal from big brands.  Due to the amount of "middle men" between the creation of leather goods and them actually reaching the consumers, prices are inflated, the craftspeople receive less money for their work and consumers get less for their money.   MAHI work differently.  Every item is made to order and shipped directly from the person who made it to the customer who ordered.  This helps reduce wastage and saves on costs created by stockpiling huge quantities of product.  That makes total business sense but also means that consumers pay less for good quality items.

Obvously, I love the idea of more bag for my buck (oh, hahaha) but what I like even more about MAHI is that they use full grain leather (that's the best quality leather you can get) and.. this is where I get really excited;  they donate to charity with every bag they sell.   MAHI is named after the Mahi river in India and each time a MAHI bag is bought, they donate $1.50 to FRANK water charity.  That might not sound like a lot of money but it all adds up.  Reading up on MAHI you find out quickly that they've raised nearly $7,500 for FRANK  This money has provided over 510 people with clean water in their homes.  FOR LIFE. They provide detailed information on their website about FRANK, the work they do and how the money helps but details include:

* $1.50 Provides the materials necessary to carry out water testing to a whole community of 250 people in FRANK Water’s Samerth project

* $15 Will provide clean, safe water and access to improved sanitation for one person

* $100 Provides water testing across two communities reaching 5000 people in FRANK Water’s CURE project

* $1,000 Enables FRANK Water to support 158 individuals in their Samerth project to claim access to land rights and improved sanitation through India’s Clean India Campaign

If there's a way for a brand to make me like them more, it's donating to good causes.  I know I feel better about a purchase if I feel it's doing some good as well beyond adding something to my or my families life.  

So.  Now you know just how fantastic MAHI are, I bet you'd like to see one of the bags!  You won't be disappointed.  They have a large range to choose from, backpacks, duffles, holdalls, satchesl, totes and even wash bags.  There are several styles of each.  I love that they are pretty much all unisex.  As a family of four, I love the idea of purchasing a bag that my husband would be as happy to lug around as myself.  And even my two boys as they grow.  You can't really go wrong with leather, it's classic and it lasts.  You can even get your MAHI bag personalized.  They can embroider initials or names in black, cream or brown so great if it's a present! 

My favorite is the Roma backpack:

Now my boys are a bit older, we no longer need to carry around nappies, changing mats etc.  However, we still have to carry around quite a lot when we go out for the day.  And, we no longer have a buggy to help us carry around our essentials.  In fact, having two energetic boys means we have to be able to run around after them whilst still carrying water bottles, wet wipes, waterproofs and about three trillion snacks.  Therefore, a backpack is perfect!  One like this is unisex, practical with it's pockets and would definitely look fantastic too.  After all, as I've always maintained, being a parent doesn't mean you have to forgo style!

I think you'd be hard pushed not to find a bag for your requirements from MAHI and knowing they are donating to charity too, you can feel good about your purchase.  So, if you're in the market for a new bag, go and check them out!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Dreaming of a new bathroom

Our family bathroom sucks.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that we have a bathroom,  I especially appreciate that we have a main (family) bathroom, a separate shower room off our bedroom and a downstairs loo.  With four of us in the house, it's so handy and will only become more so as the boys grow... But, back to my opening statement, the family bathroom sucks.

It's dated and old.  It's ugly.  It's clean but never looks it due to (despite much bleach and elbow grease) black mold everywhere.  The loo seat moves  when you sit on it.  The taps don't match.  The cold tap at the basin has started to leak.

I don't even want to show you a photo... so here's Felix in the bath:


I like to fantasize about the day we can afford to get it done up.  We've had quotes (you can easily get quotes at myjobquote.co.uk) and we have a good idea of the cost.  We just can't afford to do it right now.  Another reason to get earning that dosh when Felix starts school...

In the meantime, we've decided it's not worth a "for now" fix like we did with our (also dated) shower room.  I just close the door on it, spend as little time in there as possible and spend time on Pinterest fantasizing about the bathroom we will have.... one day.....

Ahhh... just imagine it..  Image source: Google

This would be beautiful! Image source: Google

NEW BLOG HEADER!

Have you seen?  Have you noticed?  Look up! I have a gorgeous, clean and simple blog header produced especially for my blog by a very talented type obsessed graphic designer, Melissa Wright.

Melissa is based in Dorset and is currently working as a junior designer at a digital marketing agency. She definitely has a bright future ahead.



Thank you for my new header Melissa! X

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Returning to work after being a long term stay at home parent.

The time has finally come.  After over 7 years of being a stay at home Mum to my two boys, I'm looking for work.  Ethan has been in full time school since 2013 and Felix started preschool this September.  He's only there for 15 hours a week, so not full time, but it's a few hours.  For the last 7 and a half years we've lived off one income.  Actually, that's not entirely accurate, I did receive maternity pay for the first 9 months of Ethan's life (6 months at full pay, 3 months at the SMP rate).  Anyway, for the best part of 7 years we've lived off one income.  During those 7 years, Pete's pay has increased, his jobs have changed and we went from being a family of two to four.  However, whilst his pay has increased, our living costs have increased and the actual cost of living itself has increased, especially in the last year.  We make do.  Pete earns a good wage but it is truly stretched covering the four of us and all the expenses life bring.  We could certainly do with a bit more money coming in.

It isn't just about money though.  After 7 years of full time parenting, I'd quite like to do something else.  I'd like to leave the house with a purpose.  I'd like to feel like I was contributing financially.  I'd like the boys to see me not "just" as "Mum".  I'm not berating anyone who stays at home to look after their children full time.  If I did, that'd be to berate myself!  I just know that I'm starting to feel a bit.. I'm not sure.. Bored?  Crazy?  Like I'm getting cabin fever.

Back in 2009 as a new SAHM
I feel apprehensive about returning to work.  What am I going to do?  I don't really want to go back to an office job anyone could do.  Ideally I'd like to do something I'd enjoy.  I looked into freelance copywriting.  The positives for something like this are that I could work from home, I could choose my own hours, I could work as little or as much as I like.  I wouldn't need any new qualifications.  I like the idea of writing work.  The negatives are that I wouldn't have colleagues or make new friends.  I wouldn't have to leave home so wouldn't get that feeling of "getting out" and also, like with blogging, there's the risk that you're never really "away" from work.  It would be unpredictable so my earnings and the amount of work would fluctuate.  My initial investigations haven't brought up any available work in any case.. I put together a new CV and contacted a heap of digital agencies and copywriting agencies.  I got a few "we'll put you on file" responses and two "get back in touch in January, we're crazy right now" and mostly I got ignored.  A bit disheartening but it's a funny time of year to be job hunting.

I've been looking at jobs online.  So far very few things have been suitable.  There are quite a few jobs around with terrible hours with awful pay.  Luckily I'm not in the position where I have to take anything.  I have to be realistic though.  Whatever I take on has to work around family life.  My husband works long hours and his job requires him to travel quite a bit at the moment.  I am still primarily needed at home.  His job comes first.  I've inquired about leafleting.  Not very exciting and certainly no chance of new colleagues and friends but it would be great exercise and definitely flexible!  But, the guy never returned my call.  I applied for a job in a local bakery but heard nothing.  It was all looking a bit hopeless..  But then two weeks ago my friend heard about a job at the school she works in.  An "Art Technician".  Something right up my street, a roll supporting the art department.  I knew I could do it but beyond that, it'd be varied, interesting, I'd have colleagues, a workplace, it paid well and, most importantly, it was part time and very flexible, and, drum roll.... TERM TIME ONLY! Quite possibly the perfect job!  I applied and two days later received a phone call to ask if I'd like to come in for interview the following week.  Would I??!! Oh yes!

So.. Last week I attended my first job interview in 12 years.  After being out of work for over 7 years.  It was a little bit daunting, but I decided that it would be a learning experience and maybe even a bit of fun at the same time.  I didn't want to assume the job was mine but equally, I wanted to be positive.  The interview itself was a good experience.  I got there 10 minutes early (that's a big deal for me, I'm terminally late) and, after a few minutes, I relaxed and it felt reassuringly familiar.  A work environment, the usual interview questions.  I must admit a couple of the questions were tricky but I was able to answer them and (I think) quite well.  It was good to think I can still do this kind of thing!   After the interview I was on quite a high.  They told me they would be making their decision that afternoon so I knew I didn't have long to wait.  I hopped in my car, retrieved Felix from my parents house (they were looking after him whilst I was at the interview) and drove to pick Ethan up from school.  Back to normality.  At five past three, as I walked into the school playground, my mobile rang.  Seeing the local landline number I answered straight away.  It was the school I'd had the interview with.  I could tell as soon as the lady returned my "Hello!" that she was phoning to let me know I hadn't got the job.  Of course it was a let down.  I asked why and was told that there wasn't anything I'd done wrong, that one of the other candidates simply had experience of working in a school before and I didn't.  That I shouldn't feel bad and to keep applying.  It did make me feel a little sad but it would have been amazingly easy if I'd walked into a job such as that so quickly.  When I told my friend who'd told me about the job that I hadn't got it, she said to me "Do you know how many people applied for the job?" "Not a clue!" I said "I assume not that many seeing as they took my application form even though the closing date had officially passed!".   "Over 60 people applied" my friend said "and 5 were interviewed, including you.  You did well, you shouldn't feel bad!".  It did bolster me a little, hearing that.  Perhaps I'm not totally unemployable.

Well. That was last week.  This week.  I'm no further on.  I've not seen any jobs advertised that are suitable.  Pete is still very much feeling the pressure of being the sole breadwinner.  "You should apply for JSA" my Mum says "Don't apply for JSA" says Dad "It's the last thing you should do.  Your Mum would say that but she's never experienced what it's like going to the job centre.".  They both have a point.  Is money becoming tight?  Yes.  Am I officially job seeking?  Yes.  But I've never applied for JSA before.  Somehow it doesn't seem right.  And do I really want to be reporting to the job centre every week, having some action plan drawn up?  Having to apply for things that really aren't suitable?  I'll talk to Pete about it, but probably not.

It's 10 Days until Christmas Day now.  Things in the world of work are winding down.  It's an odd time of year to be job hunting.  We're manic with Christmas stuff.   Presents to wrap.  Activities at school and preschool.  Card writing.  Trying to meet with people.  Next week I have both boys with me all week, school & preschool finishing this week. Realistically, the job hunt has to go on hold until the new year.  My plan of action will be contacting those copywriting folks again, phoning them, making myself known to them!  Scouring the job sites.  Tweaking that CV.  2017 will be the year of work!  How exciting.. I think!  Watch this space....

My two boys in 2016