Just after Christmas someone I know on Facebook started a ‘Creative Pay it Forward’ status chain.  I immediately joined in as I love to buy gifts for people.  It’s my way of showing affection I suppose and I think I’m pretty good at it (if I do say so myself!)

At the time I tweeted, wondering out loud how to bring this kind of loveliness into the blogosphere so I was really excited when I saw that Clara had started her own Random Acts of Kindness post.  

I love the idea of paying it forward, of being a blessing to someone entirely unprompted, completely unexpectedly, from the goodness of your own heart.  It just makes me smile.

So, I am posting this as a promise to send a gift – a surprise – to the first 6 people who comment on this post!  I won’t tell you when it will arrive, just sometime before the end of 2013.  It might be something handmade, it might be a book, or an accessory…it could really be anything!

If you’d like to take part please leave me a comment at the end of this post.

The only prerequisite is that if you comment you must blog and promise to send something to as many people as you choose in order to pay the kindness forward.

As Clara has so brilliantly put it in her original post, “This isn’t about money or extravagance, it could be anything from a  handwritten letter to a knitted blanket or a doodle or favourite book…literally anything. The point is to think of others and spread a little unexpected happiness.”

I look forward to paying it forward with you!

(If you do want to take part you can email me your address to catchasinglethought@gmail.com)


Wot So Funee?

We try to make it a habit in our house to say “love you” to Meg and Eli as often as possible, especially at bedtime and there’s no greater feeling than the first time they say it back to you, especially if it’s unprompted.

Meg being the age that she is however, we do often find she’s a bit fickle with her affections as she demonstrated quite nicely the other night:

Daddy (putting Meg to bed): “Goodnight Meg, I love you lots and lots.”

Meg: “Goodnight Daddy, I love Mummy.”

About half an hour later when Daddy was helping Meg use the toilet.

Daddy: “I love you Meg, do you love Daddy?”

Meg: “Yes! *Pause* But not when you smack me on the bottom”

Daddy: “Meg, I’ve never done that”

Meg: “A long time ago, when I was 2.  Was it last week? *thinks hard* No, yesterday”

Now not only is that a total fabrication as we have never smacked our children (we prefer to use long hard, probably ineffectual, warning stares), but Meg is almost 4 so how on earth she thinks it was last week is beyond me!


Last week I had a taste of what it would mean to have my working life back again. 
I went back to work when Eli was 5 months old for 3 hours a morning, 5 days a week.  It’s been a struggle but the job was one that had a lot of potential and I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass me by.  Now 18 months on a change in circumstances has meant we’ve had to move my hours around and for the first time in almost 2 years I’m working one day a week 9am-5pm.
It was a major shock to the system!  By about 3pm I was completely worn out and felt like my brain was reaching overload point.  But, I also really reallyenjoyed it.  I don’t know whether I should feel bad about saying that it was nice coming home and not having to pick the kids up as my Other Half was back and able to do that.  Not having to fight to make dinner during whinge hour because the kids had already eaten so I just had to sort two of us out, and we could eat whatever we wanted!  Playing with the kids for an hour or so, bathing them and then putting them to bed and sitting down to relax was way way better than spending an afternoon trying to entice two worn out children to engage in craft activities or walks in the wood.
It made me want to do it a bit more often, is that a bad thing?
Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t do it 5 days a week as I think I would miss my time with the kids but it certainly has made me consider what would be the best work-life balance for me going forward.  I have Wednesdays off with the kids now so we have a full day to do whatever we like, instead of a couple of hours in the afternoon and there is the possibility of me taking another day off and working another full day in the week and to be honest I’m a bit torn.
I’ve always been on the fence over working and not working.  I only just earn enough to make it a viable way of life but I don’t think I could be a full-time stay at home mum.  I admire so much the mums who are as I’ve never been very good at it.  If I’ve got the time to make a plan of activities then it usually goes a lot smoother but I become easily disheartened if the kids don’t want to do the things I’ve set out.  They often spend a great deal of time moaning for me to put the TV on when we’re at home and I’ll hold my hands up and say some days it doesn’t take a lot to break my resolve and for me to get the Peppa Pig DVD’s out.
It’s also hard work (in my opinion) trying to balance having my head in work mode for a couple of hours, coming home and engaging for a couple of hours with two energetic toddlers whilst trying to plan food menus, make sure the washing is done and the house remains (semi) clean and tidy.  Last Wednesday was my most productive day yet as I felt I had all the time in the world to achieve what I needed to.
BUT!  It was only my first week.  I think I’m afraid to jump feet first into changing another day as it might just be the rose tinted view of something new.  Then there’s the added dilemma of what happens come September when Meg starts school.  If I’m working from 9am-5pm how am I going to be able to pick her up and drop her off?  I don’t fancy paying a childminder to do that job for me as it’s one I always envisaged doing myself.
Finding a work-life balance is tougher than I thought!  


TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

The weeks seem to be whizzing by now, I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of January!  This week I tried not to take too many photos of the kids playing in the snow but it was difficult, it’s just so much fun when you’re 3 and 1!

20/365: What’s the best thing to do when you’ve just come back from a long, cold (and possibly ill-advised!) sledging trip?  Put your pyjamas on and snuggle up under mummy and daddy’s duvet with some hot chocolate of course!

21/365: Playing a game of ‘wake the sleeping child’  Hours of fun are had taking it in turns to be the one sleeping!
22/365: “Mummy, Mummy, we’re hiding in the woods playing Gruffalos!”  Of course you are Meg…
23/365: Watching Room on the Broom and hiding behind her hands just in case the Dragon should make an early appearance!
24/365: What happens when we leave our toys out on the lounge floor…they get Alfie-d 🙁
25/365: Our resident big daddy fox (and also the one I think is responsible for the demise of Peppa…)
26/365: The best place to hang out in our entire house…

It’s funny how other mums always tell you that when you’re in labour you’ll just “know”.  If I’m honest I really didn’t believe them and spent the last three months of my pregnancy convinced it was happening every time I had a bout of braxton hicks.  I even went as far as timing some of the episodes when I thought they were coming regularly!

But, as it happened, when it did all kick off I definitely knew about it!

The Saturday before I went into labour I had the worst back pain.  It was so awful I spent the day alternating between being in the bath and lying on our bed crying.  My due date had been the day before so my Other Half even went as far as to call the labour ward to see if they could offer any advice.  We were told it was “probably early labour” and to just wait and see.

Wait we did, for the entire day!  By the time Sunday rolled around everything had settled down and gone back to normal.  No back pains or anything.  I probably should have twigged that this was the calm before the storm.

At the time my Other Half was working in Burnley and couldn’t drive so he usually got a train back up on the Sunday afternoon, which took him about 8 hours.  Sometimes though (usually when I begged!) he wouldn’t go home on Sunday but would get up incredibly early on a Monday morning and head up then.   

This particular Monday morning I had woken up at around 3am, my Other Half had stayed and was planning to leave at 4am.  I managed to get to the toilet, notice a bit of spotting and get all the way back to bed before I realised something was happening.  Something intense and painful!  

At first I wasn’t sure if it was labour, on timing for a few minutes I realised the ‘contractions’ were coming every 4 minutes apart which isn’t what any of the books had said would happen.  I remember dithering next to my Other Half who was still snoring away wondering whether I should bother to wake him up or whether he would think it was all a ploy to get him to stay at home a bit longer!

Eventually I did wake him, we called the labour ward who asked if I felt able to stay at home for a bit longer.  Cue some very angry shouting from me and they said to make our way in.  We called our very lovely friend who came with her 8 week old baby at 5.30am in the morning to drive us the half an hour to the hospital (we will owe her forever!!)

I remember that despite all my careful planning we left home without any of the snacks we’d put aside.  I did remember to take a large bottle of juice out of the fridge but managed to lose it somewhere between arriving at the hospital and getting onto the labour ward.

I was quite pleased when the midwife examined me and said I was 6cms dilated.  At least it explained why everything felt so intense!  I was set up on a ball and given some gas and air.  At this point it all got a bit panicky.  The midwife left the room to go and check on another mum.  My Other Half left the room to go and get himself a drink.  I was sat on the floor with my gas and air when suddenly I felt sick.  I’d completely forgotten the midwife’s advice that I had to continue breathing the gas and air through the nausea and eventually it would pass so I attempted to haul myself across the room to the sink to be sick.  When I was halfway there I was hit by another contraction and became trapped between trying to get back to my mouthpiece and continuing on my journey to the sink.  Naturally I did what any woman in labour would and stood in the middle of the room and let out a bloodcurdling scream about WHY I WAS IN LABOUR AND ON MY OWN!

In flew the midwife, in flew my Other Half and I demanded an epidural!

At the time I was upset that I hadn’t managed to ‘do it on my own’ but looking back it was the best decision I could have made to have an epidural.  Everything went from being crazily stressed to being nice and relaxed.  I even managed to have a little sleep whilst we waited for me to reach 10cms.

The thing that really sticks with me about my first labour is the expectations I had.  I listened to a lot of opinions beforehand about what I should do and how it should be and I made some very strong statements on my birth plan such as “I will not have an epidural” which left everyone very confused when I started demanding one.  The second time round I didn’t even bother writing a birth plan and I wish someone had told me to just do what felt right for me.

It left me feeling like I’d somehow been robbed by not having the perfect birth.  I suppose I had pictured my labour as going a bit more smoothly (there wasn’t any OBEM to watch beforehand to prepare me!) I didn’t imagine that I would shout at the anaethestist and accuse him of being a character from Scrubs, I didn’t imagine I would terrify the male nurse who came to put my drip in so much so that his hand was shaking.  I didn’t expect that my Other Half would almost faint and the midwife would tell him to get out of the way as they didn’t have time to deal with him.  I didn’t expect that my daughter would present as a compound delivery with her elbow literally dragging it’s way down and I didn’t expect that I would have severe second degree tearing because of it.

But…when this little chubby cheeked wide eyed baby made her appearance I did fall in love instantly.  And it almost makes all the rest of it worth it (almost!)

And heck, I did it again so it can’t have been so bad can it?