Sunday, 22 February 2015

3 Good Things - Day 3 - 21.02.15

Today was a really rare treat - my brother, his wife and their daughter came to my mum and dads house for a visit before J and I left to go home after our half term stay with mum and dad.

We don't get to see them that often - the journey from my house to their house takes me around 2.5 hrs if I go door to door. If I stop on the way and collect my parents, then it takes around 3 hrs. Usually J is so excited about seeing them, because we don't often see them, that by the time we get there he's bursting with excitement, which usually results in some kind of explosion or meltdown at some point during our visit with them. This tends to put a bit of a mood on things, generally speaking. We can never stay too long, as I have to be careful not to let it get too late - J needs to have his dinner and be going to bed relatively promptly otherwise he really goes downhill fast. He's a child of habit, and if I break his routine he does get quite stroppy about it.

My niece, R, hasn't visited mum and dads house since my mums birthday last May, when R was just 2 months old (so she doesn't remember it!) She was thrilled to discover that there was a cat in residence - and more to the point, the cat was willing to remain where he was and allow her to pet him. She waved her hands, wriggled her toes, smiled and cooed in pleasure as she sat on her daddy's lap and fussed the cat.

I sat snapping photos and out of them I really liked this one. The cat looks so completely chilled in the background it's hard to believe the same animal was running away from J at the same age R is now because he was so unsure! Just goes to show how things can change if an animal has fair opportunity to get used to the idea.


* Lunch with family *
* Saw my gorgeous niece *
* Good drive back home *

Lunch was lovely - mum cooked sausage rolls and chicken bites, we had crisps and crackers and lots of nibbles, and my sister in law E made chocolate brownies (absolutely lush chocolate brownies, I must say!) I saw my gorgeous niece, and as she approaches her 1st birthday she has changed so much since New Years Day when I last saw her, but every time I see her I think she gets more beautiful. She was so very good fussing the cat, as well, being very lovely and gentle as her daddy directed her. It's a long drive from mums house back to my house (just over 100 miles) but we left shortly after 4pm and arrived around 6.30pm - slight delays, as always, on the M25 at Dartford and a couple of patches where there was no apparent reason for everyone acting like a donut but they all were - so it delayed us slightly, but on the whole it was a good straightforward drive. 

My good things continued yesterday - I got home to find Daddy P had done the housework, and he'd visited the fish and chip shop in anticipation of our arrival and brought home dinner! He then put J to bed so I could put my feet up after my long drive, and we watched episodes of House while I worked. It was a lovely calm, cosy evening and just what I needed last night.

Peace N Love

Mummy P xxx

3 Good Things - Day 2 - 20.02.15

My photo for today is J with a pirate mask and cutlass. He's pirate mad, loves the Lego game Pirates of the Caribbean and the films, and when he went on a day trip with my mum to a farm local to her house and in the gift shop they had pirate masks and cutlasses for sale, of course that's what J wanted.


- Got lots of work done
- Yummy dinner
- Nice cuddles & bedtime stories
As mum took J out for the day I was left to my own devices and managed to get loads of work done, uninterrupted. Dinner was really simple - I chucked a pizza in the oven but it was really good! Then J and I had nice cuddles and bedtime stories before he went to sleep. I feel lucky when bedtime goes well a few times in a week as when it goes nicely it's a lovely little bit of time to spend with him.

Love N Hugs

Mummy P xxx

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Three Good Things - Positive Focus

As a bit of a social media freak, I view a lot of social media content. Some I use more often than others, but for all of them even if I don’t enjoy adding my own stuff I enjoy looking at others, and sometimes they’ll create a spark of an idea for me.

One lady whose pages I love is Karin Joyce, who throws herself into life with such enthusiasm and gusto that I think of her whenever I need some oomph to get done what I have to get done. A while ago, I did a photo challenge set by Karin, which was embracing her hash tag #3GoodThings and at the end of each day selecting my favourite photograph from the day, and noting three good things that I’d experienced. The idea was simple – it could be a small good thing, like finishing a cup of tea while it was still hot, or a bigger good thing, like having a great day out somewhere, or an accomplishment of some kind. Focussing on three good things in a day for the length of time I did the challenge – half term last year – really helped me focus my mind on the positive, and so I felt better in myself than I had done in a long time.

I’ve had a lot going on recently and in amongst it all somewhere I’ve started to stumble again, despite the good things happening in my life right now my brain seems wired to dwell on the bad, so I’m going to follow Karin’s current photo challenge - #3GoodThings for 40days. A lot can happen in 40 days, so I’m hoping to be able to achieve the entire length of the challenge and re-wire my brain into thinking positive again and finding that happy medium between euphoria and devastation.

So, Karin, if you’re reading this, thank you for the inspiration!

And to everyone else, why not give it a go? Instagram your images with the hashtag #3GoodThings to participate too.

~ My 3 Good Things Photo for today is a photo of my parents cat. He spent most of this afternoon asleep on this chair as it was raining, and he doesn't like being outside in the rain. I love how chilled and lazy he looks. Ah, the life of a cat! ~

~ 1 ~ Got some work done. OK, it wasn't as much as I'd have liked, but still, I got some work done.
~ 2 ~ Nice chat with my aunt Z and cousin J. Shame I won't get to catch up with them on this visit, but there'll be the Easter holidays before we know it!
~ 3 ~ Lovely bedtime stories and cuddles with J. I read that many people don't read their kids bedtime stories and I was saddened. I love bedtimes, its my time to devote to J and for bath, stories, chats and lots of cuddles and kisses. To this day when he falls asleep playing with my hair it makes my heart melt just like it did the first time. That time is so precious, he won't be this young again, so I treasure it dearly.

Mummy P xxx

February Half Term

We’ve driven to my mum and dad’s house again for the bulk of the Half Term week. It makes life easier for me, as I’ve said before, since I can work uninterrupted during the time mum can take care of J for me.

I don’t work Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, so we drove down on Tuesday afternoon since I was feeling a bit peaky on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. We arrived and unpacked and had dinner with my mum when she got in from work. Soon it was bedtime for us both, (after 100-odd miles of driving I tend to sleep well!).

On Wednesday we went to a local park. We parked in Sainsburys and went in to buy chocolate buttons on the way to the park, and used the travelator to get to the store from the carpark level we were on – he thought it was utterly magical and was transfixed, then in typical J fashion he zoned out as we reached the top so despite me saying “You’ve got to step off at the top, OK? Ready? Steady? Now!” he was on another planet and just pitched forwards at the top when his trainers met the grating!

When we got to the park, the same one that I used to go to with my nan and granddad, and my auntie Z with my younger brother and my cousins, though it’s had quite a facelift since then! I was amazed to find a lovely huge open field area, as well as a skate park, (contained within fences) a full size basketball court (also contained, and including cage-style lockers for the players to put their bags) there is now a smaller gated park for younger children, as well as a larger, more adventure-style playground for older kids. J had a whale of a time in there, giving me heart failure as he leapt fearlessly along stepping-stone style bridges five foot high between two parapets; quite casually leaping onto a firemans pole and effortlessly spinning his way to the bottom of it; shouting “Mummy look!” at the point of jumping / leaping / climbing somewhere that seems awfully high and all the time I’m too far away to stop him / catch him if I wanted to! It was an absolutely lovely day though, spent with my darling boy who is suddenly so grown up.

After a couple of hours of heart failure and standing in the freezing February sunshine getting my perfectly ‘done’ hair all whipped into a frenzy, I eventually called it a day and we headed back over the field to the car. At home we cooked shepherds pie, ate with my mum and J went to bed. Mum and I sat up watching Judge Judy for a while before we headed to bed ourselves.

Today I had to work. The morning was bright, with blue skies and sunshine, but dammit I had to work, so I installed J in front of the TV watching Horrid Henry on the CITV channel, and I started. As is always the way when I’m trying to work and I have J to take care of, he likes to interrupt as often as possible. Today was no different. He ate everything possible, because every time I sat down and tried to get on, he asked for something else to eat, or drink. As soon as I thought he was settled, he’d ask for a different program to watch, swapping from Peter Rabbit on iPlayer to Thomas on YouTube and back to Horrid Henry on CITV more times than I could count, purely so I was devoting my attention to what he wanted me to do, and not to what I wanted to do.

By dinnertime, though I’ve got everything done and I’m caught up, I feel like I should have done more somehow today given my sickness on Monday and not being able to do as much as I’d hoped to then, but even so I’ve got tomorrow and the weekend to work as well. Tomorrow mum is off work, so I can concentrate while she takes J off somewhere, or creates space monsters with Play Doh and spaghetti, or make an early start on easter cards, or something. I’ll be able to get loads done and feel like I’ve actually contributed something this week!

On that note, it’s time for me to go and do some more work, so I’ll love you and leave you and hope that you’re all having a lovely half term.

Thursday peace & love,

Mummy P xxx

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Learning About Pets

Our bearded dragon Lady Oscar woke up from brumation on Saturday.

She initially went to sleep in October, but then was up again in mid-November for an afternoon, when I gave her a bath but she didn’t have anything to eat and as soon as she was back in her viv she went back under her log and back to sleep again. Since then, she’s been in brumation. This is a kind of hibernation stage that bearded dragons go through. It’s a bit of an unpredictable thing, because not all dragons (particularly captive ones) will do it, and not all dragons do it in the same way.

From October to mid-November, I would have described Lady O as ‘yo-yo brumating’ which means that she was lethargic and asleep a large amount of time, not particularly active when she was awake, and not eating. After the mid-November bath she went under her log and stayed there, shifting occasionally to get comfortable again, but that was it. Because of the positioning of the log she was under, I could see in the end where her head was if I went up to the viv and peered in a small space, which I did every now and then to check on her, and she’d respond by half opening the eye closest to me, which was all I wanted from her so that I could confirm she was OK.

On Saturday, she was scuffling about quite a bit under her log. My mum was here, and at the time she was sitting in the front room with Jacob and myself, and as we both looked at the viv we realised Lady O had turned round under the log, and her nose was pointing out where her tail had been. Her eyes were open and she appeared to be waking up.

Now personally, I’m not particularly good when I’ve just woken up – I mean, I’m grumpy til I’ve been to the loo and had at least half a cup of tea and chance for my brain to get into gear. So I tend to assume others are like that too, whether they’re people or animals, so I left her to it for a while. I figured she’s been asleep since November – it’s probably going to take a while for her to get her bearings.

Sure enough a while later she was moving again. Where she’d curled herself round under the log to come out forwards, her tail was still curled up with her. Their tails are quite powerful for their size, and so as she pushed with her tail on the inside of the log she propelled herself over the smooth flooring so without moving her legs at all she slid out from under the log and stood in the middle of the viv looking around and blinking. It was an epic way of getting out of bed. All she needed was some grand entrance music the way she did that, it was hilarious.

Anyway, I gave her some cucumber as it was all I had at the time suitable for her (as she hasn’t been eating since being in brumation I haven’t been buying anything – the food she eats goes off too quickly to keep on buying it on the off chance that she might wake up) She had something to eat, and after she’d had some time to bask and digest it Daddy P was home, so I took Lady O upstairs for a bath while he cleaned out the viv and replaced the cucumber with a proper meal for her – some leafy spring greens and a couple of slices of radish.

In her bath, she wasn’t too impressed, but then I put some water on her nose which she licked so I did that for a while and she plumped up even more (she was a little dehydrated when she first woke up and looked quite wrinkly) She has lost a little weight in brumation, but that’s to be expected. After her bath I sat and cuddled her for a while, and J was too, and when we put her back in the viv she had more to eat and then went to bask before bedtime.

I’m so pleased she’s up again – I’ve really missed this little character – but she doesn’t seem quite as energised as I had been expecting her to be once waking up. On the Facebook page where I go for support and assistance with her care, lots of other people are reporting their beardies being quite energetic and glass surfing, black bearding, running around like crazies. Lady O has been awake and moving, but quite lethargic like she’s still struggling to wake up. She’s not eaten much and she’s not been to the loo – I’m wondering if maybe she’s yo-yo-ing again.

On the other hand, it could be that she is in desperate need of a new viv, and I’m very aware of that. Her set up is the one we inherited when we homed her, and I’ve learned so much since then that I now understand it is completely the wrong style set up. I can’t keep her temperatures right, the vivarium is too small for her, and her bulbs are wrong, so we’ve changed what we can since having her but we decided at Christmas that when she woke up from brumation we would buy her all new set up so she can kick off this year in style with everything exactly how she needs it to be happy and healthy. It’s going to set us back a fair amount of money – around £200 – but nobody ever said that owning a pet was cheap, and to me it’s money well spent because I want her to be in the best environment possible.

The trouble is, bearded dragons tend to be lumped into the reptile category by pet shops who think they need the same set up as other reptiles. The reality is they need quite personalised care.

- Pet shops will sell sand or bark chippings as substrate – this is entirely unsuitable for a bearded dragon, due to the chance of the dragon ingesting it, which can result in impaction which can be fatal. It’s also very unhygienic. Rough side up tiles and fake grass are far better for creating a healthy, safe environment.
- Pet shops will sell more than one dragon together, and say they need companions. They don’t. They are solitary animals and if you home more than one in the same vivarium one will dominate the other and one will end up getting injured. Keep it to a single dragon for each vivarium. You don’t want to breed them – there are already far too many unwanted dragons seeking homes, there is no need for you to breed hundreds more, so just don’t house them together.
- Pet shops will sell a small size vivarium together with unsuitable lighting and tell you that it’s the perfect starter set up for your dragon. It isn’t. Your dragon needs a space of 4ftx2ftx2ft to be comfortable, and there is no point in setting up anything smaller just because your dragon is little. It’s expensive – do it once, do it right, and you’re done.
- Pet shops will sell heat mats and heat rocks and say they are suitable for use in your vivarium. They’re not – bearded dragons can burn themselves seriously on these products because they can’t feel heat on their bellies, so they don’t know when they’re getting too hot.

I didn’t know anything about bearded dragons before I got Lady O, but I’m enjoying learning, and I’m getting a lot of support and information from the lovely admin on the BDUK page. They’re very helpful and have lots of advice and information – if you’re thinking of getting a dragon check out their page and speak to them about correct set up and how to responsibly home a dragon.

Now I do know more about them though, I know that when I walked into my local branch of a well known chain pet shop my heart broke for the bearded dragon that was in there. His vivarium was around 2ft long, and about 6ft tall. There was no way he could get close enough to the heat lamp to properly warm himself, and bask after feeding. He was dull grey in colour and dark, a sure sign of a cold dragon, and he was pancake flat on the dirty sand substrate. It looked like a whole box of locusts had simply been tipped into the vivarium and left – they were climbing all over him, he didn’t care, he wasn’t interested. Did you know locusts can bite? I certainly didn’t, but when I first got Lady O she wasn’t interested in a locust dropped in her viv and then I was advised by BDUK that I needed to remove it as it would likely attack her, biting her soft parts while she slept, and if a bite became infected that could be very nasty. So there’s this dragon with them walking all over him and looking so miserable and unhappy - He was plainly in desperate need of TLC and if I could have afforded to set him up properly myself I would have brought him home. As it is, I’m already saving for one decent set up, I can’t stretch for two right now!

I asked a staff member nearby whether he was the person who looked after the bearded dragons or if there was a member of staff who did available. He shrugged and said they just all kind of helped out with whatever needed doing. I picked up their leaflet – printed by the company – which states that in all of this well known chain stores, there was a specialist trained member of staff able to help with all your enquiries. He shrugged again and said they all just did whatever needed doing, so he could help with my questions.

I asked him a couple of things about the set up, the poor dragon, expressed my concerns, and he continually dismissed me with comments like, “Oh no, that’s the right way to do it” with no back up to his claims – which I know are wrong – and telling me that a locust can’t bite a bearded dragon because the locusts can’t break the dragons scales, telling me that they come from Australia so sand is the best substrate for them (wrong on so many levels!), telling me that as long as it’s warm enough generally in the viv there’s no need for a hot end and a cool end, no need for the dragon to have a way of basking closer to the heat source, no need for the dragon to have somewhere cooler and shady to hide etc etc. I was so upset by the time I left, that I came home and I wrote an e-mail to the well known chain store customer care department expressing my concerns for the wellbeing of this dragon and indeed any other live animals in this store if this was the level of care offered to the dragons maybe they’re doing it all wrong for all the other animals, too? I also noticed that in their official printed leaflet about bearded dragons that I picked up while in store that they state on it one of the things you need to have when creating a suitable set up is a heat lamp or heat rock. No, no, no! Even more upset, I added this into my e-mail to them.

That was around about eight weeks or so ago. I haven’t heard anything from them. I haven’t even had one of those automatically generated “Thank you for contacting” e-mails that tells me their head office address and when the e-mails are responded to. I’ve had no contact from them whatsoever to say they’ve read my e-mail, to address my concerns, anything.

I'm very disappointed with the lack of reply from such a well known retailer

At the moment at school, J is learning about pets. They had a lady from the Dogs Trust visit them the other week to discuss looking after dogs, and they got certificates for answering questions about caring for dogs correctly. J was especially pleased that the lady had asked him what kind of dogs he had at home and when he told her their breeds the lady gave him an extra point. As part of this continuation, today the children are going to visit the local branch of a well known pet shop. Oh yes. They are going to the shop where I know at least one animal has been recently kept in appalling conditions to be educated in how to care for pets.

I spoke to J. I asked him if he wanted to go, and he said he did, so that’s fine, though I did remind him about the bearded dragon we saw in there before and he did go through with me all the things that were wrong with that set up which re-enforced to me what a bright little button my boy is. I would love to be a fly on the wall when the staff try to tell him anything about the care of bearded dragons!

Anyway my little princess is in need of some breakfast, so I’m off to chop some spring greens and butternut squash!

Have a good day,


Mummy P

X x x x x

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Keep Calm & Don't Be Hatin'

I saw a comment from a mummy blogger I follow about working from home and the difficulties with it when the kids are sick. I totally sympathise with this lady, because I know what she means, yet there were a few negative comments from people and I can imagine the same sort of comments being made about me, too.

The trouble is, when people find out you work from home, they think you’ve got it easy. They imagine your day is very relaxed, full of you doing your own thing quite merrily as you feel like it and being free to work around the rest of your life.

The reality is that my day is anything but relaxed. I’m up and getting dressed first thing, sorting out J to take him to school, and when I get back I’ve got enough time to unload / load the dishwasher, tumble drier and washing machine, make the beds and make a cup of tea before I sit down to work. I take a break around one for lunch, and then continue working til three, when I collect J from school. Once he’s home, and he’s changed, we do another load in the tumble drier and the washing machine and do any washing up there may be, then I cook his dinner while the two of us do his homework. While he’s eating dinner I’m working again, and then Daddy P gets home. One or other of us cooks our dinner while the other spends some time with J, and after we’ve eaten its time for one or other of us to put him to bed. If it’s my turn, after I’ve done that I’m back downstairs around 8.30 / 9 to sit down and carry on working until I’m done for the day – normally around midnight.

If J is off school sick, it completely throws my day out, because I’ll be up and down every five minutes instead of being able to concentrate on work because J will want a drink, something to eat, he’ll want his hot water bottle re-doing or a film putting on or any number of other demands that a four year old can come up with in order to keep mummy’s attention when he’s feeling under the weather and her attention is being pulled to something else. Something which should take me 10 minutes takes 30 because I keep getting interrupted.

My weekends are taken over by work. I have two days off during the week which is when I get my shopping, the bulk of the housework, and any social visits done, but this means Saturdays and Sundays I have to take into account work for everything. I’ll take my laptop to my in laws when we go for dinner, so I can work before and after eating – if we go out I’ll be on my phone checking up on things.

I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning, not by any stretch – I wouldn’t be able to cope with working in an office full time, the travelling back and forth during rush hour and having to make arrangements for childcare for before and after school for Jacob. I’d get even less time to spend with him than I do now, which is not what I want. But having said that, the amount of time I get to spend with him now and for the majority of it I’m sitting on a laptop. J went through a stage of trying to close it when he was younger – “no, mummy, no!” – but he is used to it now (which is quite sad in itself, really) and he just asks me if there’s people who need my help.

I’m aware that many are jealous of the fact that when J is on holidays from school I tend to go and stay elsewhere. While this might appear to be a bit of a jolly jaunt, the reality is that I need to spend time elsewhere as it’s the only way I can get work done. If I stay with my parents, then I’ve got the support of my mum to look after J while I work in the loft uninterrupted for the bulk of the day. It’s not a matter of be swanning off to relax myself – it’s a matter of being able to get the work done as best I can. My view might change but my hours don’t. I’m still online from first thing in the morning til last thing at night. When I go to the van, in the warmer months, while I’m alone with J it’s just as helpful because I’m in a smaller space with everything I need, and he can play safely on the grass next to the van and I can work sitting out on the deck to keep an eye on him. Yes this is beautiful and I appreciate not everyone is lucky enough to do this – but not everyone has to do a full time job at the same time as be a full time mum. I have to do what works to accommodate both worlds.

When other people log into the office they’re doing their job – when they log out they go home and they leave work in the office til the next time they’re in. With me, and anyone else that works from home, you’re constantly thinking about it and your home has folders of information and your family know more about your job than if you did a normal office job.

While my job does feature so heavily in so much of my life, I am passionate about it and I enjoy it. I don't mind working all the hours I do because I like the end result. I like what I do, and I know not everyone is able to say the same. I just wish before people comment about how ‘easy’ an option it is, or make so-called jokes about me ‘not really’ working or being a ‘part timer’ could stop and think about the fact that I do the same amount of hours that they do, I just have a different job to do, one which requires me being online, available, for a large proportion of time. Jealousy is not a pretty thing, and I’m not one to waste my time worrying about what other people think, but it’s the thoughtless commenting and needless bitching, and when it’s the same people time and time again it gets tiresome. Oh and those who say I'm lucky - Yes, I am, and I worked hard to get where I am today, so luck is part of it but not all of it, damn hard work also played a part because I worked for what I wanted.

I thought we were grown ups – maybe I was mistaken. Seems like I know far too many childish people who spend far too much time worrying about other people’s business. I’ve stopped making contact with a lot of so called friends to see how many made contact with me, instead. It’s a sure fire way of finding out who your real friends are, and I won’t be wasting my precious time trying to cross oceans for those who wouldn’t offer to jump a puddle for me! 

Life's too short to be hatin'

Sunday Peace N Love,

Mummy P

X x x x x