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Planning for Christmas

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There’s lots going on for me and Mr MilkChic right now. Sadly most of the things we’re excited about I either don’t feel right blogging about or I can’t blog about until they’re signed & sealed, leaving me feeling like I’m about to burst!!

One of the wonderful things is that, after nearly 18 months waiting I finally have an appointment with the consultant about my back and as the NHS has referred me to a private hospital, the eternal optimist in me is hoping that things will progress rapidly and I might be back running marathons before small one starts school 😀

MCCALL HOMEMAKING COVER, XMAS TREEWhile it’s all good news (or will be, when I’m able to shout about it), it does mean we’re going to be even more busy than usual in the run up to Christmas and I need to get pretty much organised by the end of the month, which gives me… erm…. 7 days(!) to get my house in order (literally and figuratively), get the kids to write Christmas lists, buy Christmas presents, hide them somewhere small one won’t look (shed?), buy, write and post Xmas cards and organise myself so Parcelforce can collect all the parcels for those people I now know I’m not going to see before Christmas in one lot.

I have about a million blog posts rolling about in my head, things I want to make and do, and people I really want to see before time gets spread even thinner. On the personal side, I also need to get my hair cut and buy some new clothes, all while spending as much time as possible with small one.

Of course this now means I need to write a lot of lists. Luckily for me my friends know me very well – as part of my campaign to see all my best friends at least once before the end of the month, I went out for dinner last night and was given a belated birthday present of a gorgeous hand stitched Paperchase notebook, which is now blissfully full with random jottings and things to do.

While I’m here, if anyone has any great ideas for Christmas gifts you can post, please send them my way!!

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Gimme, gimme, gimme: What do I want?

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I was tagged by Lucy from The Princess Poet’s Life Adventures and it’s taken me ages to write this post. Funny how you can feel generally dissatisfied with things but still not be able to express your desires in any cohesive form!

1. I want to feel like me again
It’s been 3 years since small one came kicking and screaming into the world and life has changed immeasureably, largely for the better. But I miss the me who ran marathons for the buzz, started and completed craft projects. And I miss the friends that I did those things with.

2. I want to look like me again
I’m aware that I am a healthy weight and that thanks to my unfeasibly large, still not deflated after 12 months breastfeeding boobs, that I have the optical illusion of a small waist. But I’m a stone heavier than I was pre-pregnancy, when I was still carrying a good 1/2 stone of marathon fuelling pies and pasta. I want to lose enough weight, and more importantly tone up enough that I feel confident in my skin again. How I’m going to manage that when I can’t exercise properly due to my back is beyond me, as willpower is not a strength of mine… which brings me to my next “want”…

3. I want my back sorted
I’ve waited long enough. It’s been 3 years and 6 months since I started getting the twinges of SPD / disk pain / whatever they’ve decided it is now. I’ve had painkillers, physio, hydrotherapy, steroid injections, an MRI scan, denervation, acupuncture and I’ve been waiting over a year for disk provocation just to prove that it is a disk causing the problems. If that ever happens, then I guess I’ll have to wait another year for them to do something about it. I still worry that my disability is going to affect how people view me when I apply for jobs I’m overqualified for and I hate not exercising and the black moods and lack of confidence that brings.

4. I want more hours in the day
I need them. There must be a way to fit in working, sleeping, caring for a toddler and still finding time for yourself, right?

Finally, and probably the only one which is at all realistic right now….

5. I want my laptop to do as it’s told without question
My laptop has been all “computer says no” lately. It might be something to do with the coffee thrown over it when it was only a few months old, it might be the missing ‘O’ key that my loving daughter managed to slice off, it might even be going through an attitude phase like my sweet toddler girl… but it would be nice if I could get things done without waiting for it to catch up. Or leave it off charge for more than 10 minutes. Or be able to do anything without wanting to throw it through a window.

Wait, wait, wait… there’s one more!!

6. I want a knitting machine
Desperately, passionately… (worryingly?) More accurately, I want two as my mum wanted one first, and I’d feel honour bound to give her the first one as she gave me the first sewing table she found, even though it’s better than hers. Did I mention my mum’s amazing??

Actually, scrap all of that except the working laptop and knitting machine(s)! I’m bloody lucky – I have a loving partner, a fabulous and healthy daughter and stepchildren, family and friends who are there for me when I need them. I have friends who are in far worse positions. I guess what I really need is a reality check – someone to come along and shake me out of these black moods so I can actually make the most of the things and time I have.

So, who’s next Snaffles Mummy and Coombe Mill. What do you want??

 

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Fresh starts and new beginnings

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snödroppar ~ snowdrops
Photo: Per Ola Wiberg

Firstly, an apology for going AWOL over Christmas and New Year… just when everybody needed party dresses and sale bargains. I am a bad blogger and I am sorry 🙁

Over Christmas I took redundancy from my “real job”. We also moved house. Not optimum timing really, especially when I decided to combine the two with a bit of a meltdown.

Unemployment has been a long time coming – I have been trying to get back to work fully since I developed a back problem in pregnancy and recovery has just taken too long. I’ve improved a lot from where I was, but I am now waiting for more diagnostic tests, and at least one more operation. My daughter is now 2.5, I’ve already waited nearly 6 months for these latest diagnostics, and it will be another long wait for the op so the path to recovery is likely to stretch on. In the meantime, my chance of finding fulfilling work flexible enough to allow that recovery with a new company who doesn’t know my abilities seems minimal.

It’s taking a lot of getting used to. I’m unemployed for the first time in my life, and am trying to come to terms with the fact that I may not be able to return to work as a retail buyer – the career that I love. I think that if I was giving that up to be a stay at home mum, or for part time work that gave me a better work-life balance, I’d be handling it better. But at the moment the future is uncertain and I’m scared.

The people in the benefits office don’t really help your confidence – on finally ringing up to ask about job seekers allowances and NI stamps, I was told that realistically I’d be better off applying for ESA (sick pay for the unemployed) until I’ve had my operation. Last time I went to the job centre, there was a guy drinking Special Brew while he waited for his appointment. If they think he’s employable and I’m not, things are not looking good!

We need my income. Or a significant part of it. So if I can’t find regular work, I need to find other ways of earning my crust. I will clip coupons and do focus groups and surveys. I will use my “transferrable skills” doing freelance admin and CV writing (ironically, I am very good at writing CVs for mums and those who have been out of the workforce…), take on craft projects and rebuild my Etsy account…. most of all, if it is to continue, I am going to have to bite the bullet and make MilkChic actually fund itself.

MilkChic has always been profit-making in theory, but it was set up as a maternity leave project which I could do in fits and starts as I felt up to it. On paper, the tiny profit it makes through advertising and commission has never justified the time, but it has given me a sense of purpose and identity when I’ve been low, and made me part of a community of mums and business women whose humour and support make me proud to be female. It is something very close to my heart and I am scared of making changes.

But change is a good thing and if I take this opportunity to ring the changes, and am able to justify the hours I spend on it, then MilkChic will be sustainable long term as a resource for breastfeeding mums. Who knows? I might eventually offer myself a fulfilling, flexible job that pays just enough to support my family…!

I don’t want to alienate the people who have always been so supportive of MilkChic by going all corporate and money-grabbing. So I’m trying to keep things as transparent as possible about the changes by blogging about “behind-the-scenes MilkChic” at Busting Out Mummy.

Happy New Year! This one’s going to be a good one!
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D-day!

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I’m having an operation today.

I have been struggling with back pain since pregnancy, and am still unable to walk more than a short distance without the pram. Not ideal with an active toddler.

I’m hoping that this will be life-changing. Or life-returning at least.

Wish me luck!

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