Summer holidays are approaching…

Another school year is as good as over. I feel old when I say it but I really don’t know where this year has gone! My oldest boy, J, will be going into year 9 in September, and B will be in his last year at primary school. My niece will be starting nursery and I’m expecting major envy from my little girl who has a whole year to wait before she gets to go to school.

And so my inevitable holiday planning starts. This has become similar to new year’s resolutions in how effective and useful they are, but one of these years I’ll get it right! So far, both boys plan to practise their musical instruments regularly, and I think both are planning to take part in the local library reading challenge. B is keen to clean out and decorate the shed at the bottom of the garden, and while J is less willing to do the work, he doesn’t want to miss out on a potential man cave and so he’ll be helping. E will carry on much the same as now, being alternately gorgeous, frustrating and hugely lovable. And I hope to dye lots of lovely yarn to stock my shop in the autumn. We’ve also got three weddings to enjoy, and at least one camping trip, hopefully more. I’ve bought us a rail card and I’m hoping that we might get a couple of day trips on trains in – E has never been on a train but she loves Thomas the Tank Engine and so I think she’d be thrilled!

That’s it so far. I think you’ll agree that there doesn’t look like there’ll be too much time to get bored!

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Plans for 2013

I know I’m a little late to this party, but that seems to be the way it is at the moment! Time is flying by so fast, I’m missing all sorts of things. For example, a very good friend had her birthday one month and five days ago (you know who you are!) and I’ve yet to send her her birthday parcel. She’s going to have a lovely late spring surprise at this rate! The daft thing is that I had almost everything I wanted to send ahead of time, and then the days got away from me and I didn’t do it. It’s OK, I do realise how rubbish I am!

So, plans for the remaining ten and a half months of the year include;

1. Holiday – don’t know where, don’t know when but we will have a change of scenery and see somewhere new this year!

2. Redecorate Sweetie’s room before she moves in. Her cot is in our room at the moment, and I think will be for a little while. We need to work out how to put up a curtain rail, as there is no space between the top of the window frame and the ceiling. I sorted out everything in her room this last week though so there’s no rubbish in there any more! However, I still need to decide on a room layout and colour scheme.

3. Get a new kitchen sink. We have one of those beige plastic kitchen sinks at the moment, and since we moved in I’ve wanted to swap it for a stainless steel one. I can’t dye yarn easily until I do, as it would wreck our current sink. Our plumber should be coming out to replace a radiator soon though, so I’ll ask him about it then.

4. Fitness – improve it! I was almost immobile during the last few months of my pregnancy last year, and then it took longer than last time for the pain to go away. On the whole things seem to be more or less back to normal now, so I’m very slowly improving my fitness levels. I aim to go out for walks more as the weather improves, and I always run up the stairs (except when I’m carrying the baby of course!). Baby steps, but it’s slowly slowly paying off.

5. Get my Etsy shop back up and running. I’m planning and working on items for my shop at the moment. I hope to go back to the craft market later in the Spring too, if they have room for me! But I want to revamp my stall completely, so I need to work on that for the next couple of months.

6. Enjoy my kids. They are all three of them growing and changing before my eyes, and I don’t want to miss a minute! Well, maybe the odd minute here or there to go to knit night or Wonderwool Wales, but you get the general gist!

So, these are my overall goals. I’ve got more specific ones, such as improving my baking, or certain projects I want to make. Hopefully I’ll find time to talk more about these as and when they happen.

From another perspective…

When you have backache, a headache, toothache or you injure yourself and are in pain, you become very focussed on yourself. This is natural, your body wants you to work out how to deal with the pain and get better. I have found that it’s the same with depression, without the obvious and pinpointable pain. In my experience, and in a similar way to when I suffer a bad headache or feel very sick, if I feel miserable I want to isolate myself, do very little and retreat inside myself in an effort to find a way to heal. It’s quite a selfish way to be. I remember when I was struggling a lot with depression about three or four years ago, becoming very antisocial and wanting nothing more than to stay at home.

I am very lucky now that my earlier illness has dropped in intensity to only an occasional seasonal depression, but there’s still so many of the same issues to deal with, even with those infrequent episodes. I am lucky that my children, in the main, don’t see me looking miserable. They, together with my husband, are the three people guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. they are all three so selflessly loving towards me all the time, willing to drop anything if I feel like a cuddle.

In the interest of journalistic integrity, no sooner had I written the last sentence than I had to prove it to be accurate. I went directly to find my family. My sons immediately put down the wii remotes and gave me a cuddle on request, and my husband turned from the washing up bowl and dried his hands straight away in order to fulfil my wish for a hug!

However, my husband has often, over the years, had to take up the slack when misery renders me less than able for fulfilling my daily tasks, and I am so thankful to have such a lovely, uncomplaining man for my lifelong companion. He has never sighed if the dinner is unmade on his return from work, is never too busy or too tired to sit and cuddle me when I’m feeling low and never makes me feel anything less than wholly loved.

I do sometimes wonder how I’d cope if I were on my own. I very much enjoy and appreciate being in such a loving family group, and I wonder what I’d do to pick up my mood if I didn’t have them. I don’t often ponder the ‘road untravelled’, preferring to wonder about the future as being something over which I have a modicum of control.

I’m looking forward to a year with a couple of holidays, a bit of weight loss, a lot of dyeing and knitting and a new baby in the family! I’m looking forward to actually getting on with some pattern designing, getting back to having my market stall again, experimenting with different colours and yarns and maybe visiting a wool festival. I’m aiming for a well balanced year – one where I’m busy enough to make me feel useful and as if I’m achieving something, without being so busy that I have no time for fun.

In summary, I’m optimistic today!

Faster than an aeroplane, slower than a snail

A lot of the time, my life carries on at a comfortable, slow pace, my daily routine taking me from one week to the next quite happily. At other times, I really have to run to keep up! At the moment, I’m developing three hobbies with the hope that at least two of them might become profitable enough in a couple of years to enable me to leave my part time office job. Of course, doing two things at once is quite hard, but doing three means that I’m totally absorbed…in all three!

One new thing which begins soon is my having stalls at craft markets. On Saturday I shall be sharing a stall with my friend Alison, from my Thursday night knitting group, next door to my friend Ellie’s stall. I’ve been busily making jewellery for a little while, so I hope to be able to satisfactorily fill my little area (and have a little bit over in case I sell out – if wishing made it so!!). I’ll be thinking a bit about presentation this week, and have the willing help and experience of my Dad to call on for help with that. We’ve been talking about internet presentation, and Dad has ever so kindly offered (a big weight off my mind!) to take over the photography, until I’m producing more than he can photograph, of course!! I’ve already registered to have an online shop, and I’m hoping to be able to unveil that, later this week. I want to get a good few items in there before I direct you to it all. There’s no point asking you to look at an empty shop front, is there?!

So, all in all my mind has been very occupied recently with patterns, jewellery design (trying to make sure I’m not copying anyone else as well) and yarn, to the exclusion of all else! I’ve come to the conclusion that my mind has a definite limit to it’s capacity, and I regularly find that my memory can’t hold a half of what I would like it to! When I went to look in my jewellery box (the pieces I’ve made, rather than the stuff I already owned) I was pleasantly surprised by some of the items I found, having completely forgotten I’d made them! And if I had a fiver for each time I’d been to the bead shop in Cardiff and bought the exact same beads as I had on a previous trip, I’d be able to fund my yarn obsession for a fair while! I think this may be a large part of the reason that Dad’s offering to photograph my work, in order that I don’t forget it all as soon as I sell it! Oh dear, and knitters are supposed to have a better memory than non-knitters – there’s really no hope for my old age!

Ash Wednesday

Today is the first day of Lent, and so traditionally sacrifices are made until Easter. This is generally in the form of giving up certain items of luxury food. And so, as I have done before, I’ll be giving up chocolate, sweets and cake.

I’ve done it before, and feel better for giving up these things which don’t do me any good anyway! Today and tomorrow will be easy. I predict that by the weekend I may well start couting down the days to Easter, and next week and the one after I’ll find hard. Chocolate will appear to be everywhere, and I’ll get strong urges to bake stuff. But I know how it goes, having given up something most years since I was about twelve or thirteen, so I also know that by early March I’ll be feeling much less bothered by the lack of sweeties in my life!

What I have to fight against, though, is the urge to replace chocolate, sweets and cake with other snacky substitutes. Biscuit and crisp intake will not be increased!

Oh, and when I mentioned Lent to my husband yesterday, he suggested I should give up knitting for Lent! I got a little testy with him, and may have snapped something at him along the lines of ‘worst idea ever’, ‘what was he thinking’ and ‘not about to give up my entire social life for a month and a half’. I believe I also said something about ‘I’d consider it when you give up TV, computer games, beer, wine and all other alcohol’!

Cycling in Cardiff

I’ve recently taken up cycling again. The only time I remember feeling completely happy with my figure was when I was cycling almost every evening in my mid-teens, so as my doctor has recommended low-impact exercise for me I thought that cycling could be the way to go. Walking is not for me, not for the purposes of exercise anyway, as I’m too impatient and want to travel faster, so getting on my bike makes far more sense. I’ll have a much wider range of places to go as I can cover far greater distances, and I can save a little bit of petrol as well. My good friend Hannah (who you can see here dressed as Scarecrow) bought me a wicker basket for the front of my bike, so I’ve no excuse when I just need a couple of bits and pieces from the supermarket – I can just hop on the bike and get out in the (relatively) fresh air for a bit. I think I may have mentioned before about all the gadgets that I have on my bike. Well, tomorrow I plan to fit my cycle computer, so that I can track how many miles I do each week, and hopefully see an upwards climb in the distance I cover.

(My soundtrack as I’m cycling around has been ‘Bicycle Race’ by Queen. I don’t take an MP3 player out with me, I can just hear it in my head every time I get on the bike, especially the following verse;

Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah
On your marks get set go
Bicycle race bicycle race bicycle race

I can’t imagine why – can’t be anything at all to do with the fact that I’m cycling to lose weight as well as to get fitter :-). The other song which I can always hear is another Queen song – “Don’t Stop Me Now” – it’s my happy song, and I always can hear it in my head when I’m especially contented or excited about something I’m doing.)

The ride to my parents’ house is a good one on a bike. They live almost exactly two miles away, and there are a few up and downhills on the way there (only one serious hill though), and as I like to visit them a couple of evenings each week, that four mile round trip will be a really good starting ground for my new exercise regime. I can feel that I may start even to make myself feel guilty if I let myself drive over there in any but the worst weather now!

I’m actually quite excited about getting out on the bike more. I have waterproof trousers and jacket, so moderately wet weather needn’t bother me too much. And we have a bike rack for the car, so in theory I could go off and rather than worrying about turning round at the right time when I’d still have enough energy to get home, I could always phone my husband and ask him very nicely to come and find me and give me a lift home! I had thought that maybe one Saturday I could cycle into work and then go for a ride up the Taff Trail in the afternoon – he has already agreed to pick me up if I do something like that. Hmm, food for thought. I’ll have to start exploring good cycle routes a little further afield.

Having mentioned my desire to find safe places to cycle, I have been looking at the Sustrans website and the CTC website, and find that this area is really rather lacking in cycle paths. I know that for my journey into town I’m expected to share the footpath and then the bus lane (not too happy about the latter idea, and I don’t suppose that pedestrians would be too happy about the former!), but I wish that I lived nearer to a dedicated cycle route. However, for now I think I’ll have to stay in the quieter residential streets as much as I can, and avoid the roads with denser traffic.

I’m fashionable! (or at least, I might be, one day!)

I was reading the latest posts on my WordPress tagsurfer and I came across this post by Ms Single Mama, linking to this article on Problogger.net about blogs by mothers. They suggest that this type of blog is likely to become much more popular in the near future, due to the fact that mums will blog about a multitude of subjects rather than focussing on just one. Also, as Michelle Mitchell points out, mothers wield a lot of economic influence, considering that they are the ones who usually do the majority of the household buying, and therefore are well placed to make product recommendations and, if something’s not so good, to shout about it and warn others to stay well clear.

I can identify with a lot of what is said about the reasons that mothers blog. I have few ventures into the outside world apart from my school run and my weekly day at work, and enjoy the chance to communicate with even a faceless audience this way. I must admit that I’d like to see more comments to what I write, so that this could feel more interactive, but maybe this will develop over time as my readership increases. I certainly haven’t stopped enjoying this writing, and so it will continue for as long as I can think of fresh things to write about.

In the coming week i plan to do some baking, take a day trip (and take some photos), try to recruit more teams for Cancer Research UK Relay For Life Cardiff and attempt at least two new low fat evening meals for my family. I aim, of course, to blog about all of these things as the week progresses, and as ever I will be interested to see what unknown (as yet) things happen to catch my interest enough for a comment to appear here.