What Should I Do With My Life?

A month or ago I had to finally shut down my small, work-from-home business. It had been running for over a decade, and had never made a lot of money, but it had been nice to have some income of my own. It also helped me keep a finger in the industry I had worked in Before Kids.

Over the years, the paperwork and regulations concerning the materials I used in my job had multiplied and became more demanding. Finally  it got to the point where I was going to have to spend a lot of money to comply. This was money that I probably wouldn’t earn back, and I wasn’t confident that the organisation that makes the rules won’t make things even more difficult in the future. So I finally caved, thanked all my loyal clients, got rid of my stock and closed the business.

Life does seem more empty without it. It was part of who I was and now I am ‘just’ a SAHM. Not that there is anything wrong with being a SAHM of course. it’s just I liked having this extra string to my bow.

And ironically, this has happened just as the kids got older. I have two in secondary school now, and two well established in primary school so I  finally have time to do some work without resorting to child care. But of course, like a lot of mums out there, I only want to work school hours and as little as possible during the school holidays. Basically, I need to join the queue!

I’ve looked into going back to my previous job full time but even if I could find work, the childcare would be prohibitive. I also think it’s important for my children that I’m at home for them after school. Also I’m not that keen on working for other people.

I’ve looked into working at a school but to be honest, I’m not that that fond of other people’s kids. Sometimes I don’t even like mine very much!

I’ve looked into seasonal retail work, but the hours are tricky  and again I’d need reliable childcare. DH works long hours and isn’t usually home before 8pm.

So here I am with some free time and a work void. I’m not bored.The kids may be in school, but I have dogs to walk and a house to sort out. books to read and some writing to do. Even on a school day, I still do  at least 7 hours childcare. I’m not sitting around  all day doing nothing and don’t have time to get bored.

But now and again, when I do slow down, I find myself thinking ‘What now?’ Because surely this isn’t all there is to my life?

I know I can’t just sit here and wait for something to fall into my lap; life isn’t like that.

But I sure could do with a clue about where to start looking.

creating yourself

Not Peas In A Pod

I can remember when DD2 was born, I was shocked that she had no hair. DD1 had been born with a head of almost black hair, so I was expecting DD2 to be the same. Instead I gave birth to a newborn with a very soft covering of blond fuzz. I never got another hairy baby, and have been weirdly jealous of mums who have one ever since!

DD2 didn’t even look much like DD1. She never has, although you can see the resemblance in some photos.

Sisters watching TV

I don’t know why I was expecting a carbon copy of DD1 as I am very different from my own sister, but for some reason I was. I was wrong and as they have grown, those differences have become more obvious.

sibling comparison

They are different shapes and sizes and have different temperaments. They have different strengths and weaknesses, although they still do a lot of the same activities. They are at the same secondary school, although we did consider sending DD2 to a different one for a short period of time. It’s quite difficult to make sure that life isn’t just one big competition, as they are only one school year apart.

 

One of the dangers of having a bunch of children quite close together, is that I have tended to treat them as an amorphous mass for years.I took them to the same activities, and to places that I thought all of them will enjoy. I had  no other option with a OH who works long hours and no childcare. And when they were young, it worked well.

But when they get to the preteen/ teenage years, kids really want to be their own people. And they actively look for ways of being different from their siblings. My two eldest don’t even seem to like each other a lot of the time which makes me sad, but I think it’s the way it’s supposed to before a while.

People always seem to be surprised about how different my older two are and when I feel annoyed at their sometime thoughtless remarks, I have to remind myself of my own unreasonable expectations all those years ago.

Peas in the pod, they are not and never will be. Unique works for us.

What about your kids? Are they more alike or more different? Has it changed as they got older?

peas-in-a-pod

 

The Gallery: Autumn

Autumn leaves

I feel autumn is a much maligned season in the UK.

Yes, it’s often a bit wet and blustery and you will no doubt have to dig out your welly boots soon, if you haven’t already. The mornings are darker and evening comes sooner. Autumn can be a bit gloomy, that’s for sure.

But the shorter days are also responsible for the brightly coloured leaves that cover our lawns and pavements at this time of the year.

Once the daylight hours begin to decrease, deciduous trees start to shut down their food and oxygen production, as there is not enough light available for photosynthesis to occur. The trees rest over winter and live off the glucose they have stored over the summer.

The green chlorophyll, a chemical that is required for photosynthesis to occur, mostly disappears from the leaves so you can see the yellow and orange colours that were there all along.

The bright reds and purples that we see in trees such as maples, are a result of high levels of glucose trapped in the leaves and the brown colour of leaves like oaks are a result of waste products from tree being discarded with the leaves.

The theme for this week’s Gallery is Autumn, so if you need some colour in your life today then pop over to Sticky Fingers and see what other people have been photographing.

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The Gallery: Eyes

Eye close-up

The first time one of my friends had a baby, I was in my early 20s. I went to see the new arrival and was astonished to see that she had her eyes open. I’d been expecting the baby to be blind, the same way puppies and kittens are at birth!

My friend laughed at me indulgently and still trusted me to hold her daughter. Years later, we are no longer in contact but I have always been grateful that I learnt such a basic thing then, and didn’t  have to wait until my own children were born. Learning to change nappies was bad enough; if newborn eye contact had been unexpected, then I’m not sure I would have coped.

Like most new mothers, I lost hours gazing into my babies’ eyes and found it fascinating watching them change colour. DH and I both have green / hazel eyes, so we expected that our children’s eyes would eventually turn green/brown. And they have, but with DS they took a couple of years to change from baby blue.

My idea for today’s Gallery theme was to post a photo of each of the kids’ eyes and get anyone reading to guess which belonged to DS, as opposed to one of the girls. But DS scuppered that plan by falling over and grazing the skin around his eyes last week, and my two eldest were refusing to let me photograph their eyes. I put it down to hormonal mardiness, like I do most things these days.

So instead I have a photo of DD3′s eye ( above) and DS’s eye (below). Similar colours but DS is more blue/green and DD is more brown. And a couple of residual scabs around DS’s eye; kids heal really really quickly!

scabs around boy's eye

This post is written for this week’s Gallery theme of ‘Eyes’, in conjunction with Sightsavers and the Million Miracles campaign. They are using hashtag #seethmiracle and aim to raise £30 million by 2018 to fund cataract operations in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Check out Tara’s post here, for more details, and see what other people do with the theme.

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Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Movie Figures

In case you haven’t noticed, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ( which I will call TMNT from now on), are currently big news.

There is a new film coming out and these Deluxe Movie Figures are meant to reflect the revamped appearance of main characters . Gone are the friendly, animated  TMNTs; these turtles are highly detailed and just a bit scary. Their arms and legs can be moved and they brandish their weapons of choice.

The figures are sold as suitable for 4+ as there are some small parts, and DS (6 years) was thrilled when Leonardo arrived in the post. He knew who it was as soon as he opened the package. The girls were mildly interested too, but only in a ‘Why isn’t there anything for us?’ way.

TNMT deluxe figure Leonardo

The main action of this figure is that, when you squeeze the legs together, he spins his arms and katanas around. There is also a pair of cases that fit onto the back of his shell and these hasn’t fallen off and got lost yet.

boy playing with TMNT figure

We  have now had days of Leonardo being waved in our face in a blur of blades, and he’s fought pretty much everything in the house including transformers, skylanders, sisters, cats and dogs. He hasn’t broken yet, despite being thrown, dropped and sat upon when left on the sofa.

DS is very pleased with his TNMT Deluxe Figure but feels life would be better with another as well; Donatello is the preference for his second. The figures are available from Amazon with a RRP of £14.99, so are probably suitable for the Christmas list. Whether Santa will have any available, as the big day approaches, is another story.

We were given a Leonardo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle deluxe figure in return for this review, but the opinions expressed above are my own.

Staying Healthy At School

This is a Germie.

Germie boots

It’s like a Selfie, but when Boots emailed me and asked me to get the kids to take a picture of themselves acting like a germ, this is what DD3 came up with. Germs have tongues apparently, and chocolate smeared all over their faces. Who knew?

Boots also sent us a nice bag full of useful bits and pieces to keep the kids healthy, now they are back at school. Multi vitamins, some antiviral hand foam, nit solution, a nit comb and a first aid kit that  has come in very handy already.

As a family, we don’t seem to come down with bugs very often. Although the common cold sometimes does the rounds, we usually manage to evade the nastier flus and tummy bugs. I am aware that I am probably invoking sods law just by typing that last sentence. I put our family’s general good health down to me being quite strict about hand washing at home and trying hard to encourage the eating of fruit and vegetables. We also have cats and dogs; I believe pets in the home stimulate a healthy immune system.

I was glad to see some of these things covered in Boots’ latest recommendations about how to keep your children germ and creepy-crawly free, now the winter term is well underway.

boots

But while my kids may be relatively germ-resistant, they are terribly accident-prone.

I  can illustrate this point with DS’s Germie.

 Boy germie

Earlier that day, he fell over his own feet in the school playground and grazed all around his eye, cheek and chin. It looks pretty bad but after he got over the shock, he went back to class and was fine until I told him that a plaster wasn’t really an option.

Three days later and his face is healing nicely, but it goes to show a good immune system isn’t everything.

Boots sent us a ‘Back To School’ pack  in return for this post, but all thoughts above are my own. Except for the branded infographic, of course.

The Gallery: Creative

Okay, it’s not really that clever but this shot did take patience.

While we were in Denmark, we visited Tivoli gardens and they have a small aquarium there. It’s got one HUGE tank and a number of smaller ones, and in the big tank were this school of fish, swimming  up and down the tank.
My kids followed them around a bit, then lost interest when they found an eel hiding in a crevice.

Later on, DS was standing up against the tank and and the school swam past; I thought it would make a good photo.

So I told him to stay put and watch the fish coming towards him then took a few different shots. This was my favourite.

Boy and fish ; Tivoli aquarium, Copenhagen

It looks like the fish have come over to take a look at DS, but of course they just kept swimming past.

Sometimes, with photography, timing is the thing.

This post was  written for this week’s Gallery, over at Sticky Fingers. Check it out for a burst of photographic creativity.

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