Category Archives: Lists

New Year’s resolutions

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Happy New Year, Y’All!

I was hoping to blog more frequently, but this blogging business is a tough one. You need to think what you will write, write, edit, revise and revise again, etc. And I’m not a fast writer and I change my mind about what to write all the time. I have about four new posts just as drafts because I can’t finish them or decide what I’m really going to write.

And there goes a whole paragraph talking about nothing. What I am really here to write is about my new year’s resolutions, which are inexistent, very atypical of me. I might not follow my resolutions, but I normally have them, even if just stuck in my head.

I’m not even going with the obvious “be a better person”. Or with the even more obvious “find a new job”. That is not a resolution for me, although it might happen. A couple of weeks ago, I was planning to have a break and only start a new job in June (like everything can be planned like that). My idea was to be free in May, when my mom is planning her annual visit, so I can spend some time with her. Well, this is still the idea, but I’m also still keeping an eye on the new roles that come up on LinkedIn. I applied for a couple. So, what I am saying is that if the right job comes up, plans will have to be changed.

This brings me to a recurring point in all my resolutions: FOCUS. Goodness, how this is such a hard thing for me. I complain to my girls that they don’t focus, but I’m just a more mature version of them. It’s like I’m a kid and the world is a giant Toys R Us shop with a huge pic’n’mix section. Where to look? What to get? Where should I start from? Aaaaaaah! Unlike my kids, who would be running around like crazy, touching, feeling, stealing everything, I freeze, I don’t move. Too.many.options. Not good. Either that or I pick the first thing I see just to get on with it.

The trick for me is to stay focussed but plan for flexibility. Allow room for some distractions, predictable, worthwhile, limited distractions. Also think about the possible outcomes, positive and negatives, to manage expectations (and don’t get frustrated about the negative outcome).

All nice when put on paper (or screen), but honestly, I have this speech for years and years and never got anywhere with it. I’m still trying though, as it is with losing weight, it’s something worth pursuing.

Another tempting thing to add to my resolution list is to find my passions. True passions. Every time I find something I enjoy (baking, editing videos for example), I either get off of it in a few months, or the idea of making it a career puts me off, or I just discover that I am not that good at it and 1. don’t have the patience to improve, 2. don’t have the time to dedicate to it, 3. not THAT in love to justify the “investment”. So I wanted to see if there is something out there that I am so passioned about to the point I could make a living of it.

The third item in my potential list is one that ruins it completely. Not to have resolutions. Not to have objectives I want to achieve at the end of the year and just see what happens. Let it flow, you know what I mean? Let life takes its course and only interfere as and where needed. That could be interesting. And tricky.

How about you? Have you thought about your resolutions? All in place and on track?

Goodbye, 2015!

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Goodness, another year gone. I’m glad 2015 is coming to an end, but it is scary to see how time is flying.

I love lists and I love going through all the things that happened in the year, the good, the bad and the ugly. Most of all, I love planning the year ahead.

2015 was the year of sad news, dear people being diagnosed with terminal diseases, friends dying much sooner than they should. On a positive note, babies were born and, with them, hope in humankind is renewed.

We had a bad experience with holidays. After over a year since we had a decent break, our trip to Italy was a nightmare. Starting with an expired passport and the cancelation of the first week in Tuscany. We managed to spend a week in Jesolo, which was a bit “meh”. I love Italy, so not bad, but it wasn’t great either. On a positive note, although we weren’t entitled to any refund for the cancelation, the lady at the hotel in Tuscany took pity on us and managed to give us part of the money back. So Tuscany is back in the list of places to visit! And because they were super nice, I’ll leave the name of the hotel here, for future reference and in case you are interested: Villa Mazzanta.

Someone broke into our house, just as we returned from holidays. The signs are still around the house, reminding us that we are not safe anywhere, not even in our own houses. On a positive note, nothing was taken other than some cash.

I started and stopped Pilates. I had great results, but it was a nightmare to leave the house and as soon as I got back from the class, all the pain would be back. I am in a lot of pain but have been postponing going to a GP. I have finally booked an appointment… for tonight!

I didn’t read much this year. Got stuck in a John Grisham book for almost the whole of 2015 (The Brethren), but finally finished before the end of the year. On the other hand, I read The Circle, by Dave Eggers, in a couple of nights.

I didn’t even tried to lose weight properly in 2015. I did track what I was eating on My Fitness Pal, but that was it. I didn’t try to exercise either. It’s just way too hard to try to find time, to negotiate who will stay with the kids, to have to beg to have some “me time”. Things at home weren’t great this year and I confess: instead of fighting, I gave up.

And because life is like a football match, I managed to score a few goals at the very last minute of the year. My resignation, as you all know by now, is the main one. I cut coffee for for about 6 weeks now (although in the past week I had a few decafs) and sugar (for 3-4 weeks, I’m back to it until the new year).  But the little things I am the happiest about are all related to the house. I’ll write a separate post about them another time.

I think this is a good summary of 2015: the year I gave up. So I’m glad it is going away and a brand new shiny year is coming to the rescue.

Goodbye, 2015. Welcome, 2016! Have a great start of year, everyone. See you on the other side.

While Beatrice fights not to sleep…

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… I decided to check how things are going with this blog. Practically dead and I feel sorry for it.

Many months without posting and mainly because I wasn’t inspired at all. 2015 was a “meh” year for me. The folks in Lala-land will probably argue that I should be grateful for my health and for my family and for everyone being healthy and under a roof and… the list of “good things to be grateful for” goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I am.

But comparing to other years, 2015 was “meh”. Probably mainly my fault.

Now… 2015 ends with a twist. Because a “meh” year cannot end up “meh”, otherwise what’s the point? So, 2015 was the year I resigned my 4-years-old-job. Without another job to go to. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I’m not worried (yet). I can go to another similar job, I can go to a “worse” job that will pay less but also will take less of my soul, I can become a stay at home mother. The sky is the limit.

At the moment, I am enjoying a two week break, trying to sort out the thoughts and ideas in my head, spend some time with the kids and organise the house. Trying to find myself, as I have been lost for a while now. And, with the proximity of the new year and the prospect of starting again (I know it’s an illusion, but I like it), I feel more hopeful and… well, just hopeful. Let the countdown begin!

January: the bad and the ugly

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The previous post was about the positives of January (“the good”), but I would be lying if I said that it was all pink flowers in January and it was an easy month. January in the northern hemisphere is never easy – unless you live in Florida.

Anyhoo, lots of really bad nights with my little angels, which made me really moody. The vitamin D doesn’t seem to be as effective as before and I still have bone/muscle pain all over.

I’ve been eating like a pig and all sorts of bad stuff: Nutella, chocolate, cheese, bread, pasta… I know that, in moderation, these are not bad, but these are all I have been eating. Needless to say that I’m putting on weight… again.

I also get very affected by others’ bad news. Some people close to me went through some tough moments in January and I can feel the heartburns from my worries for others’ problems.

I’m still struggling to find the right balance between home and work and I’m letting one interfere with the other. I have loads of plans and ideas but very little will power to get moving. Energy levels are at the minimum here.

The biggest fail of January, though, is my bedtime. I mean, the time I go to bed. Only twice before 11pm (once was 10:55pm, the other just after 10pm), but most of the time just after midnight. I wake up at 6:15am, with the girls waking me up in the middle of the night at least once (2am, 3.30am, 4.30, 5am). I keep telling myself that I should go to bed at 9 or 10pm maximum, but I find it absurdly hard. Today, for example, the girls went to bed at 8pm. I was getting mentally prepared to sleep at 10pm, but then decided to organise the dining room (the table is finally clutter-free!!), clean the kitchen, tidy up the toys, prepare Laura’s school back, have a shower – don’t forget the cream – and finish this post. If I’m lucky, I’ll sleep before 11pm.

I know what I need to do to change things – but I’m not always happy with the solution, or I’m too lazy to start, or I’m too confused with where to go.

So, welcome, February, I have a few plans for you.

Check me out: I’m a tidy dining table.IMG_2930
This weekend I spent a couple of hours changing the girls bedroom a bit. Guess what’s the theme? Yeah, Lerigo.IMG_2912
After trying three different set ups, we settle with bed near the radiator (far from the door), cheat of drawers against the wall, leaving a little gap for the book shelf (we don’t want to nail it to the wall, so it needs to be safe from falling, as Beatrice climbs on it). I still need to remove some old stickers, but my nails and finger tips were too sore from peeling off wall stickers.IMG_2915
I’m thinking about getting a storage bench I’ve seen at Ikea, that can also act as a little stage. They love performing for us. I also ordered some snowflakes stickers for this wall (the idea was to paint the top half blue, but it won’t happen anytime
soon). Also planning to frame this poster. The bottom half was going to be to hang their own art, but I need to teach Beatrice to be less of a destroyer.IMG_2924
The best thing about the new decor is that Laura now wants to keep her bed tidy and she makes the bed!IMG_2911

January: the good

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So January is gone and we can no longer wish people happy new year.

Here is the summary of the good bits of my year so far:

* I read two books: Gone Girl and The Shock of the Fall. spoiler alert, don’t read the below if you are planning to read these books.

The first one was a very easy read, despite being a very weird plot. Everybody knows about Gone Girl, right? It’s a good book, well written and it’s hard to stop reading it (although I only read opinions of girls who read it – I wonder what men think about it: “a book about an idiot who
lets a crazy bitch control his life; so unrealistic and dumb”). But the end made me think it was written for a film (or a TV series), leaving it open for a sequence. Are there people as crazy as Amy in real life? I’m sure there are, loads, even worse, but what are the odds she will find the perfect match and lead a life together to the point of having a sick life and have a family (kids and all) like “normal” people would do? It makes me wonder if those kids that shoot random people at schools and malls are children of the Amys & Nicks of this world. I need to watch the film now. Or do I?
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The second one took me by surprise. I am used to reading books with lots of action going on: crimes, love stories, betrayal, jealousy, mystery, etc. The Shock of the Fall is nothing like that – it’s the story of a boy who lost his brother when they were both quite young and he felt guilty about his death and went a bit… crazy. But in a very ordinary way. Unlike Gone Girl, it’s a history that can happen to any of us, and in fact it does. It was very slow in the beginning and quite hard to be motivated and carry on reading, but I don’t like leaving a book unfinished and I’m glad I went all the way through with it. It made me think about several things: how parents deal with their children – protecting the “special” child, being hard on the “normal” one (we don’t need to go that far: how many people resent their parents for favouring a sibling?), dealing with the loss of someone close, a life changing event (the death of a brother and feeling guilty about it) triggering a dormant condition (the narrator is schizophrenic – was he schizophrenic from birth or was it something that developed because of his personal tragedy? I no nothing about schizophrenia). The ending was a bit… too optimistic for my liking. I mean, for 10 years he had been struggling with the death of his brother, he was ready to jump off a cliff to join him and after just a couple of hours chatting to an old acquaintance he had a “click” and understood what had to be done to give this chapter of his life a “closure” and bury his brother for good in his mind? Maybe it is all possible and it just take a simple gesture or something a stranger tells us to click and change our lives for good, but because I’ve never been through something like this, I’m a bit cynical about it all?
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* The girls moved to their bedrooms for good. Laura used to sleep with us, Beatrice used to come to our bed in the middle of the night (or sometimes sleep with us the whole night). Not only they are sharing the bedroom but also sharing the bed! It’s mean, I know, but since they are used to sharing the bed with us, I thought it would be easier if they were close to each other.

How is it going? Good. It’s no
miracle, no walk in the park, but it’s no tragedy either. Normally Mr. C and I put them to sleep together – he tells a story (or reads a book or both), I breastfeed Beatrice, we turn the lights off and leave the room when they sleep. Beatrice always takes longer; Laura is off within 5 minutes; Beatrice can take 30 minutes on a good day. Some days are better than others – today (31st jan), they both were sleeping by 8pm after putting them in bed after 7.30pm. So pretty easy. Some days they will sleep at 9pm, sometimes 10pm. A couple of nights ago, Beatrice only settled at midnight! In our bed! But she clearly wasn’t feeling well. So I think this is life with kids: usually is ok once you get into a routine, but you will have a couple of hiccups on the way and these are the ones we tend to remember.

It’s worth mentioning that several nights (most of them) they will both show up in our bedroom – Laura usually taking Bea by her hand – in the middle of the night (after 2am). I usually take them both back to their bed and stay with them until the fall asleep. The last couple of nights I was so exhausted that I left them in our bed. It’s ok, I suppose, if it’s not the norm.

* I organised my bedroom and the kitchen and have been maintaining some order. Every night (90% of the time since the kitchen was tidied up) I wash the dished, dry them, put them away, clean the sink and the counter, put stuff in the cupboard. Not always I have the energy to put the rubbish out (too cold). I’m quite pleased with myself. Mind you: there is still a bit of a mess around and they are not “magazine worthy” rooms, but I’m more than ok with that for now.

* I’ve started a routine of putting cream every day: once on my body, after I have my shower (I’m not one of those who have showers in the morning; and I’m definitely not one of those who have two showers a day), before bedtime and twice on the face: mornings and evenings. My face has never been that pampered in its entire life in the UK. I haven’t bought any new or special product, I had a few that were sitting on the counter for ages and I’m just getting rid of them before I can actually look for specific ones. I’m not going to lie and say that I feel 5 years younger, yadda yadda, but my skin doesn’t feel like the autumn leaves anymore. I will admit: it’s such a boring routine, as boring as it gets; but a much needed one.

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I think these are the main achievements of January. I would have loved to have a longer list but I’m past this stage of trying to fit an elephant in a Beetle (the car; the metaphor makes sense in my head) and trying to accomplish too much. It only leads to frustration. So for February, I will try to carry on with the ones above and maybe add a couple of items to the list.

(to be continued)

21 days: a (good) habit in the making

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Apparently it takes 21 days to create a habit. Just do something for 21 days and soon it will be part of your life as you were born with it. That’s the theory.

So here I am trying to create a new habit. A good one this time, as I’m full of bad ones.

Today I had a good day, for all the wrong reasons:

1) I had an extra two hours sleep, thanks to Mr. C who stayed with the girls. I needed this nap because the two came to our bed in the middle of the night and I took them back and stayed with them; I had a crappy night of sleep so hubby could rest and have energy to take them to the soft play near us.

2) He took them to the soft play in the morning and I stayed at home. To clean the house. I know lots of women that take this opportunity to meet with friends, have a massage or the nails done, or do nothing. I clean.

3) The cleaner was meant to come – she didn’t show up this week – but she was late and I had to ask her not to come. In the end it was good because I could do things at my pace.

4) Laura spent the afternoon at her friend’s house and Beatrice had a long nap. I could finish 70% of the work in the kitchen.

It’s the second weekend that we do that – he takes them out , I stay in, cleaning. I started with our bedroom. Fine, drawers and wardrobe need some love and attention, but it’s another full day worth of work. The bedroom hasn’t been messy since; not to the public’s eyes at least. Today was the kitchen. Eight bags full of rubbish and two bags full of stuff to give to charity. It still not great and there’s still some work to be done, but at least it is in a pretty decent state that can be easily maintained (so she hopes).

This is where the 21 day project start. I will try to dedicate half an hour of my evenings to keep the kitchen tidy – wash all dishes, dry them all, dry the sink, remove the rubbish, wipe the worktop, clean the microwave and the toaster. Then 15 minutes tidying up my clothes and ensuring the bedroom remains tidy. Next weekend I’m hoping to tackle the bathroom, and again, another 10 minutes to keep it clean. This will take less than an hour; pretty doable.

Living/dining, messy room, girls’ bedroom and guest’s bedroom are beasts that I’m scared of facing. I will probably work on the playroom and see how the maintenance of the kitchen-my bedroom-bathroom combo goes before I put too much effort in the others. I am actually considering taking time off work to deal with the beasts.

I’ll have to keep my progress here – in the shape of tiny posts – so I can track the birth of a habit. Bear with me.

Staring work: check out the mess behind me. This is just a tiny part of it. I also unclogged the sink and cleaned all the cupboards (got rid of old stuff, removed everything and cleaned inside). I didn’t clean the fridge or the oven (the hob was done); I only swept the floor, no proper scrub. 2015/01/img_2714.jpg
The things people collect: a drizzling pipe (whyyyyy?), a cake pop mould (which I’m planning to use) and a silicone cake tray written happy birthday… in French (whyyyyyy?). The first and the latter were freebies. I second one I bought.2015/01/img_2731.jpg
The final three bags of rubbish.2015/01/img_2735.jpg
Not too bad. Even Laura noticed. “Mummy, what happened here?”, “What do you mean?”, “the kitchen is magically sparkling clean”. This coming from a girl that doesn’t notice the chaos of the house.2015/01/img_2742.jpg
There’s still quite a lot on the table to be sorted, but I ran out of patience and energy. I have serious issues with this kitchen – I think it could have more storage (or I should have less crap), but I’m not planning in doing any work on it this year, so I have to work with what we’ve got.2015/01/img_2741.jpg
It is now to a level of mess and chaos I can live with. The “my house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy” type of house. At least the kitchen is.2015/01/img_2738.jpg

Every other day…

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… the girls have a bad night of sleep. One of them will wake up at least once in the middle of the night. Only I will hear and go to the rescue.

… Beatrice will throw a tantrum after not getting what she wants. And the other day she will throw herself on the floor, cry, beat Laura (also known as tantrum).

… Laura will shout and scream and throw things at us because she doesn’t get what she wants.

… I will have a headache at the end of the day. Every other day I’ll have a headache during the day.

… I feel like I should move somewhere warm, like Florida. And then I feel like the UK is the best place to be.

… I hate my job.

… I love my job.

… I want to redecorate the house.

… I want to sleep for 18 hours.

… I love cooking.

… I love looking after the house and deep cleaning it.

… I read a few pages of a book.

… I want to go back to school to learn something new.

… I sleep late. Or very late. Never early.

2015/01/img_2557.jpg I’m a celebrity, take me out of here!

2015/01/img_2659.jpg A colourful mess.

2015/01/img_2627.jpgNext holiday destination according to Laura.

2015/01/img_2583.jpgWhere’s Wally?