Friday Five 13/02/2015 – Five Reasons I Won’t be Seeing Fifty Shades of Grey this Weekend.

P0052_036Five Reasons I Won’t Be Seeing Fifty Shades of Grey This Weekend

So there’s this film coming out. You’ve probably heard about it. It’s based on a book written not too long ago. I know plenty of people who’ve read it. In fact, I started to read the first one because it came preloaded with some other best sellers on my Kindle. I think I probably read just under half of it.

And then I stopped. And despite “Mr Grey” being a Once Upon a Time actor whom I would have liked to have seen act in something else, Fifty Shades isn’t on our list of things to do this weekend. Why?

1) My husband and I already have Valentines plans.

They are to sit and watch the most recent episode of the Blacklist, to tick off another idea pulled out of our date night jar (which is to do a couples quiz and then discuss our answers), and to eat our favourite foods. That’s it, that’s all we have planned. Some may find that a bit sad. It’s not sad. Nor is it comfortable. We will be doing something we enjoy together, learning new things about each other and enjoying eating things without sharing them with our child!

We will be spending time together – time that matters in a busy life with a new-born on the way in a few weeks. What better Valentine gift to give than our time, that so easily slips away from us to other things?

2) I respect my husband and he respects me.

No one can escape the Fifty Shades articles that have been flying around recently, but I’ve done my best. Why? Because I’m not interested. I respect my husband too much to expect him to sit through what is essentially a film from a book written so that women can swoon and imagine what a different life would be like. I don’t need a different life.

Nor does my husband, and it’s not just the idea of the book/film, it’s the content. I think we’re all pretty clear where Fifty Shades goes. My husband respects me too much to want, need or expect me to act the way the characters in the book/film do. And I love that about him.

3) Things change when you have kids. Or maybe sons? I’m sure other mums can give their opinions on this, but I want to bring my sons up in such a way that I teach them to respect women. That will start with them learning to respect me and continue, eventually, with their future wives.

How the character in this story acts is not how I want my sons to act. It’s not how I want them to treat women, so why set that example for them now by going to see this film that’s whole intention is to make me want to be treated that way?

4) I am heavily pregnant and the girl in this film is a stick.

Nothing against skinny people – I used to be one! (Isn’t the word skinny awful? Slim, I should say.) But at 32 and a half weeks pregnant, I’m not sure seeing a tiny girl writhing around is going to make me feel any better about how I feel right now. My aching back and pelvis, the extra weight I’ve put on my face, my daily changing body shape is all a hugely amazing gift from God because it means I’m carrying a tiny (pretty big) boy.

But that doesn’t mean I want to be reminded of it by seeing a slim (see, that’s better) brunette, in gorgeous clothes who’s had her hair and make up done by a skilled team of professionals, being seduced in front of me. Because it reminds me that right now I am huge, aching constantly, dealing with Braxton Hicks regularly and feeling feet digging into my ribs. Happy Valentines Day (not)!

5) For me, Valentines Day means something else.

From a very young age, my sister and I both received Valentines cards. Every year. I’m not being big headed – they were from our dad. We knew that and he knew that we knew. But it made the day special. We went to school with smiles on our faces. Ever since then, Valentines day has meant reminding someone just how wonderful they are.

It’s a day to feel loved, to be made to feel special and wanted – just like every other day of the year. But people forget in the day to day chaos of life how special they are and sometimes need reminding. So that’s what Valentines day does. In the whirlwind of life that gets us all stressed, emotional and constantly bombarded with real life, this is one day, maybe one card, perhaps even one person or picture or greeting as you walk into work that says “Happy Valentines Day” and reminds you that you’re special. You’re someone to be remembered and treasured and valued. I’ll write one card for the one person who, above everyone else, makes me feel valued to remind him just how valuable he is to me.

So why would I spoil that intimacy with a film about a book that was written to satisfy millions?

Thanks for reading! I know there are a lot of opinions on this topic, so from this I’ll keep my mouth shut, but if you agree with anything I’ve written please like, share, retweet or comment. Your opinions matter. You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/mumwriting or Twitter at @mumwriting

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Friday Five 06/02/2015 – Five Things That Scare Me about Being a Mum of Two

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I can’t wait to have two kids. I really, honestly, can’t. I’m so looking forward to seeing them interact and learn about each other and, eventually, play together. But I can’t say the prospect is totally fear-free. In fact, there are a few things that I’m scared of…

1) Mealtimes

This is probably my biggest fear. I remember not long after having my first, being proud of myself for managing to get the tea on the table and the baby asleep at the same time so that my husband and I could eat an evening meal together. How am I going to do that whilst entertaining a toddler as well? Yes, he’s getting better at playing by himself and the likes of Peppa Pig are often a blessing – especially when I’m trying to make dinner! But with a baby too? A baby who, in the first few months, is going to be totally unpredictable in terms of feeding, sleeping and pooing.

Mealtimes are something we’re working on with my little one at the moment. He loves finger food and hates actual meals like Stir Fry or Pasta Bolognese. So we’re working on a schedule with him at the moment where one day we eat a meal that I know has at least two preferred foods of his in, and then the next day we have a regular family meal. He’s just having to deal with it and it’s hard. (Strategies welcomed!) But doing all of that AND feeding a baby? Aargh!

2) Bedtimes

We have a great routine at the moment, but that will all change as we hope to get the first one into a bed before baby comes! So it’ll be all change there. But it’s so handy having two adults and one child to deal with. We tag team and it works well. But what do bigger families do?

Do two-child families have a kid each? Do you take it in turns so that each parent gets a night off? Or is it just all hands on deck, whatever goes? Again, strategies for this kind of thing would be great! Can we bath a baby at the same time as bathing a two year old? (The eldest only has oil in the bath because he has dry skin patches). Or will we have to do two bath times, two bedtimes and two routines entirely?

3) TV Judgement

Can we be honest here for a minute? Yes, our child watches TV. He also uses the iPad. Now, out of the two of them, we actually prefer iPad time because of the interaction, but he does have a couple of favourite programmes and (as I mentioned) Peppa is a genius at getting dinner ready!

Of course, we won’t just plonk the baby down in front of the TV. And there’ll be the new added element of sibling interaction to take some attention away from TV time. But when our two year old needs that quiet moment with Mr Tumble after an upset or an episode (or two) of Peppa so that tea can be ready on time… that’ll be when the health visitor turns up and sees a baby in the same room as a toddler and a TV. My second child’s first word will be Tumble. I can see it now. I’m not looking forward to the judgement (as there always is) about screen time.

We will be as adept as we can be at providing other activities for the two of them. But I think there may well always be time for Tumble…

4) Getting ready to leave the house

It’s already hard enough to get “coat, shoes, hat…” sorted for the boy whilst finding my boots, coat, scarf, keys, phone, purse and whatever else. I swear we carry the world around in that changing bag! I downsized at Christmas and got an absolutely beautiful, patterned bag in readiness for the new baby. I chucked out everything unnecessary that had found its way into that blasted thing and restocked and reorganised my beautiful new one. It works lovely at the weekends. Not so much on Grandparent Days (currently my working days) during which they might want his wellies, or posher clothes, or clothes for getting dirty in, or a waterproof coat, or extra nappies or… anything! I never know, so I try to stuff it all in there. We’re still using the old bag for that!

Will my beautiful new bag stay beautiful and not get completely ruined by the addition of extra nappies, muslins, spare clothes and bottles? I’m sure our old changing bag used to be lovely once… How is it going to be possible to get both of them ready, not sick or pooey or muddy, but dressed and clean AND myself on days when my husband isn’t in?

5) This may well be us.

Number four. This could be it. The last one. There are no plans for another. There were always plans for another after the first, despite how badly pregnancy and birth treated me! Now there are no plans other than to keep the four of us healthy and happy.

I’m not sad about that. If I was sad there would have been serious discussions and we would have come to some form of agreement, even if it was an agreement that for now we wouldn’t talk about it but maybe one day… There is no “one day…” discussion waiting to happen. So if I’m not sad about it, why does it scare me that maybe this is it? Can other mums shed some light?

Is it just that I need other friends to continually have children so that I can always enjoy new-born cuddles? Or is waiting for grandchildren my next round of nappies and muslins? I hope not, I’m only 25!!

Is this just the motherly instinct? Will that always be there? For now, let’s just deal with getting this one out safe and the eldest used to all the changes. Because there are a lot to come…

Thanks for reading! If you share some of the same worries, or have ways of dealing with them, PLEASE share your expertise. You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/mumwriting or on Twitter at @mumwriting. You guys are brilliant, and your likes, shares, retweets and comments make me happy! Happy Friday!

The List

That’s My Normal

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My husband is away with work this week. For some of you, that’s no big deal. Your husbands go away regularly for weeks at a time. It’s your normal. I do get that.

But it’s not our normal. I put off thinking about it until I actually woke up yesterday morning at 7:30am. Yes, I cried. I cried again as he left. Maybe it’s the hormones! I am 30 weeks pregnant after all. Maybe it’s the thought of being 30 weeks pregnant and looking after a little one by myself. Luckily I have a hugely helpful family and wonderful friends who are doing anything and everything this week to help us out.

As the little one splashed about in the bath and I got his towel off the radiator I started thinking about how our little person is actually a little piece of my husband. And, with a happy song playing on Spotify, I got him out of the bath, wrapped in a towel and we had a little cuddle and a dance. It was a really beautiful moment. I was watching him in the mirror and picking out the little parts of him that were his dad’s and not mine – his blonde hair, his blue eyes, his cheekiness.

The song ended and Spotify shuffled through the playlist landing on David Gray’s The One I Love – a song that is one of “ours”. You know, most couples have a list of songs that are “theirs”.

“Send a little prayer out to you across the falling dark…”

That did it. I was ruined. The tears started again and I wiped my eyes on my child’s towel as he watched me and blinked (it’s his new thing… blame Mr Tumble!) He never seemed upset by me crying, in fact I’m pretty sure he thought I was playing a game with him.

But today, my bad mum confession is that my 20 month old “read” his own bedtime story, whilst I composed myself enough to sing Twinkle Twinkle to him.

My little boy is a tiny piece of his dad that I can cling to when his dad’s not here and that is a beautiful thing. My bump is currently making the laptop move as it sits on my lap. I am not alone. But a little piece of him is not him.

Last week when I was ill and didn’t blog, I posted a link on my Facebook page to an article about putting spouses before children. Go and find it if you didn’t get chance to read it, it’s very good. It reminds me that although my children are such a huge priority in life at the moment, I must continue to put my husband first. And if I’m honest, for me, that’s easy. He will always come first. That’s my normal. That’s why breaking down over a line in a David Gray song doesn’t worry me, or waking up in the morning in tears because it was the day I’d been pretending would never come doesn’t seem like an issue.

I’m a mum, yes. But that ring on my finger makes me a wife first. That’s my normal.

Thanks for reading! Please share, like, enjoy, retweet, comment and (constructively) criticise if necessary! Head on over to my Facebook page at facebook.com/mumwriting or at Twitter at @mumwriting. Thanks!

Face, Wall, Smack

10593374_302062070001428_1148104922_nI woke, uncomfortable because I’m pregnant with what appears to be a very tiny footballer who only likes to move when I want to be still, and needed the toilet. I know most Mums know the inner conversation between staying in the cosy, warm bed and getting up for what feels like the fourth time that night to hop across to the bathroom. Pregnancy has those moments and they suck. The choice is difficult. I chose the latter.

Awake but not quite awake, I reached for the dresser to steady myself as my other hand reached for the door to open it. Unfortunately the dresser was somehow not where I thought it was going to be. My hand slipped through the air just inches next to it’s intended destination and in those fleeting moments I realised that the wall was exactly where I thought it was going to be.

As I said… face, wall, smack.

Luckily, I have a husband who held me through the quiet sobs that followed as I held my poor head and my hip which had somehow found the dresser that my hand had missed. “It’s just the shock,” he told me as I started to check for bumps. Eventually I felt steady enough to actually make the trip to the bathroom and it was only then when I checked the time. It was 7am. Had I known it was so close to wake-up time (as I’ve previously mentioned, we have a good sleeper – 8am is not unheard of in our house, especially at the weekends) I’d have just held it in. Clearly our blackout curtains do their job well!

So apparently pregnancy makes me clumsy. This is the third time I’ve given myself bruises, the first two incidents involving the stairs. The first one confused the heck out of me as my foot turned purple on the top, even though I’d slipped and taken an open stair gate clean off the stairs with the edge of my foot (picture above).

Smacking my head on the wall is not something I intend to make a habit of. You see, after the “OhMyGoodness” and the “Ouch” and the “Are you kidding me?” thoughts had passed, the next one was “Please don’t let that have woken my child.” And it was the same thought I’d had as I sat crying at the bottom of the stairs, foot in hand, stair gate on floor.

Since becoming a Mum I seem to have been reprogrammed. “Please don’t wake my child” is a regular thought, every day – whether it be the postman knocking or the phone ringing or the microwave beeping. My washing machine beeps when it finishes so I don’t set it to finish after I’ve put N#1 down for a nap. My wardrobe is on the other side of the same wall next to his cot so I don’t open or close it after he’s asleep.

What is it I’m so afraid of? If he woke I could easily get him back to sleep. I often do if he wakes from a bad dream or for some other reason. It’s just the way I’m wired these days. My face hits a wall and I don’t fear I may have concussion, I fear my child will suffer from my pain by waking too early. I slide down the stairs and hit the stair gate – whether my toes can move is second behind whether my son has noticed the noise.

I’m trying to think of other examples where my thinking has been changed by becoming a parent and it all really bottles down to this – my child comes before me.

Yes, being pregnant does mean that I’m carrying a child and need to protect that one just as much. Believe me, I’m doing all I can not to fall down another flight of stairs! But I’m talking about in general, as a parent, my child’s needs and wants come before my own.

How strange. That I spent nearly 24 years of my life putting myself first. I mean, I’m a nice person (I hope!) and I’ll make you a cup of tea, bring a meal round if you’re ill, give you an old piece of furniture if you need if and we don’t anymore – but I was selfish. It was me first. It’s in our nature to be that way. You might not like to admit it, but you should. It’s kind of freeing to realise your own inner selfishness. But how completely ridiculous that the whole idea of that can turn on it’s head within minutes of meeting another human being. My human being. I made him, he’s an amalgamation of me and my husband. And now he comes first and I never made that decision, it just happened.

So now for every “face, wall, smack…”

there comes a “child still sleeping?”.


Thanks for reading! You can now find me on Twitter at @mumwriting, or Facebook at facebook.com/mumwriting. Come and find me so we can share posts, likes, comments and more stories about life!

Fluidity vs. Rigidity

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This morning I met a man who is a Professional Storyteller. Yep, that’s right. He tells stories for a living. He also does workshops and spends time doing Creative Writing with kids of all ages and abilities and can provide short courses for adults too. What a job!

Today though he was talking to the children about the linear nature by which so many people approach writing stories. He tried to get them to think more innovatively and recognise that part of a story can be changed even if another part is staying the same, or that maybe the beginning could be different but you could find another way to use the same ending. Genius stuff for kids who make a fuss about even writing thirty words!

But it got me thinking about my own writing and how I approach it. If I’m honest, I generally map out my fiction writing a bit like a line graph. Starting at the bottom, does the atmosphere of the storyline go up or down? And what events set those changes in course?

I end up with something like this:

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But maybe I could be a bit more fluid in my writing. Maybe I could mind map my chapters or spiral them out do some sort of flow chart. Perhaps my issues in getting past those first few chapters is that my plans are too rigid? What if Character A didn’t necessarily go to that place but instead went to somewhere different? Would it matter if those characters met at a different location, ordered a different drink and sat at a different table?

I’ve never really been one to “let loose” but this could be my chance. It’s feasible that I live my whole life like this too – in lists and schedules and planners – but maybe that’s more of a ‘personality type’ thing and simply something that’s too ingrained to change. (I love personality type stuff, don’t get me started on that! Or maybe do… but on a different day!)

Do you write with a plan? And is it a set formula or are you a fluid, changeable person? If you do use a plan, what style of planning suits you best?

How does your life fit in with that? Are you a constant in theory and practice or a “go with the flow” type? What’s the plan for today? Is it set in stone or can you take a bit of surprise?

Thanks for reading! If you’re here because you were expecting a post about nappies or bottle feeding, don’t fret! I write regularly about parenting issues but on Wednesdays I write about writing – a passion of mine and something which I’m always on the lookout for advice with. So please keep coming back and reading, you’ll soon find something you can relate to. If you’re here because you love to write then please comment, share, like retweet and generally help one writer out and I’ll try my best to return as many favours as possible! You can find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (using the buttons below I believe – but I’m not techy so I’ll double check that later!) Huge post coming up on Friday where my Friday Five has turned into a Friday Eleven…

Friday Five 09/01/15

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Five Ways in which I try to keep my house organised…

One thing I know both mums and writers are notoriously bad at is staying organised. I struggle with that issue both as a mum and as a writer! As a writer, t’s mainly staying organised in terms of keeping to a writing schedule and not letting myself just flop in front of the TV when I get a spare hour! As a mum, that job of staying organised seems to become massively overwhelming sometimes (and that’s only with one child… what will I be like when N#2 makes an appearance?!)

So I thought this week I would try to list five simple ways in which I try my best to stay organised and on top of things. And believe me, it’s not something that comes naturally to me!

1) Remembering to put the dishwasher on at least once a day.

Seriously, this may even be the most important of the five. If that dishwasher doesn’t go on, plates pile up and the kitchen becomes an absolute war zone to walk through. So my dishwasher goes on once a day and any ‘un-dishwasherable’ items will either get hand washed or will be neatly stacked until my husband comes home! But to be honest, I will pretty much put anything and everything in that dishwasher if I can find a way to fit it in. Yes, as you may have guessed, I’m lazy by nature.

2) Using a Planner.

This works as a writer and as a mum. As a writer, it helps me to carve out time to write, and by putting it down in pen I’m far less likely to find an excuse not to! There are odd occasions – tough days at work or other family situations – that will cause me to forgo that time but mostly if it’s written in, I do it. As a mum, a planner becomes useful to plan meals for the week, what nights we’re in or out (and therefore any babysitters needed) and even the little things like “When is there any time for me to shower?” Haha! It’s true, I write “Shower” as an item in my planner, usually as soon as N#1 has gone to bed so that I can enjoy my evening smelling of Radox!

3) Having a coffee machine with a timer.

Yes, I’m pregnant, but yes I still drink coffee. Decaffe or Half-caffe most of the time, but the working mornings would not run as smoothly without that timer. I set it, set out our travel mugs in front of it and by 7:30am are two gorgeous smelling cups of coffee ready to take with us. I think my husband misses it on the mornings I don’t get up for work! It’s also really lovely at the weekend to set it for a bit later (8:30am if we’re lucky) and enjoy the smell of coffee as we wake.

4) Antibacterial Spray.

Now, I may have a bias to adding this to my list, since I have tended to get a bit addicted to the smell of it in the later stages of both of my pregnancies, BUT… antibacterial spray is a good habit to have regardless. My kitchen worktops, the highchair and plastic cloth underneath it, the fridge door and handle, the cooker, the sink, and basically anywhere I can get to with a cloth! Keeping my family healthy is important, keeping food areas clean is important and keeping a pregnant lady happy is important! (Did anyone else have a weird smell-thing going on during pregnancy? I’m addicted to the smell of my Radox shower gel too. I could bathe in the stuff – and I might! My Dad said to me other day “Just don’t do anything stupid like drink it.” I promise I won’t Dad!) Antibac everywhere – it’s got to be good for you!

5) Put dirty clothes in the basket and not in a pile somewhere.

I’m a notorious piler – and by that I mean I make piles of stuff everywhere. It drives my husband crazy. Every six months or so I have to completely clear out my wardrobe and put everything back in on hangers because I just pile my clothes. However, one thing I always try to remember is to put dirty clothes in the basket. Whether they make it from the basket to the washer to the dryer and back to the wardrobe is another story but… it’s the thought that counts, right? And even if they don’t go the distance, at least they’re out of sight!

What are your tips for keeping organised, especially when you’re not an organised person by nature? Anything I should be doing daily that I’m not- as a writer? As a mum? At least I can say I try!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share, like, comment and give constructive criticism! Tell me your five things and give me tips! Find me on Twitter and Instagram at @mumwriting

I linked up with some other bloggers today who are trying to do the same thing I am! Find them here: http://honestmum.com/category/brilliant-blog-posts

Getting Past Chapter One

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So many first pages. So many new notebooks with ‘Chapter One’ sitting proudly at the top. So many scribbles of ideas and thoughts in the middle of the night that are forgotten by morning. So many characters, fully formed with personalities and catchphrases that just don’t make it on to the paper.

So what’s the plan? How do we make it past that? I’m currently on chapter four of my first novel. I’ve plotted out beginning, middle and end. I’ve got subplots and minor characters and all these things that make me think “this is it… this is the one!” But what I need is help. My husband has promised to remind me to write on nights when I’m sitting in front of the TV, in the hours when my son is napping or just when the moment strikes. The other day he said “If you feel like you want to write then write. I don’t want to get in the way of that.”

But I’m scared. What if this isn’t the one? What if I get eight, nine, even ten chapters in and realise I can’t make this the whole way. The finish line is too close and the word count wouldn’t even hit 50,000. Is all that wasted time?

Writers of the blogosphere, twitter-world and further afield – I can’t be the only one scared of this. I need tips, tricks and advice. When the going gets tough I don’t want to put my pen down declaring “But there just isn’t any more to say.” It’s my first attempt at a novel, and I know there’s one in me. How do I get it down on paper? Help me to figure all this out. I’m so new to the writing game, the blog game, the social media interaction game and I’m scared that by the end of 2015 all I’ll have is a few chapters and a lost idea.

What do you do? What are your ways of dealing with the fear that strikes? How do you get past chapter one, chapter eight, chapter twenty-two… without it all just disappearing? I need help guys, and I need it from you – other people who are going through or have been through the same thing. Are you out there? Did you make it to The End?

Thanks for reading! Please comment and answer any and all questions asked in this blog! My plea for help is sincere. Follow me on twitter and instagram at @mumwriting. Share, like, comment, retweet… I’m only just at the beginning of this journey.