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Saturday, 18 April 2015

On Being a Mother with Anxiety

There will be many disclaimers before I write this post because I don't really feel 'qualified' to write it; because my anxiety is only minor, because I had therapy for it when I was sixteen and never again since, because I've never been on medication for it, because I can interact with people on a daily basis and they never know there's anything 'wrong' with me. Because because because. And yet I feel this post needs to be written. No matter how minor, I suffer with social anxiety and it affects my life on a daily basis and I haven't ever really written about that here, mostly because online it's not important. Online I can censor myself before I speak and avoid the endless hours of 'why why why did I say that?' , online I can take my time and mostly - not always- be the best version of myself. Maybe online I can write something that makes sense of the feelings I have.

I've always had problems being in big groups, even big groups of people I know. I never know what to say and I hate that awkward silence thing so I talk a lot to fill the gaps and then spend hours (days, weeks) afterwards totally freaking out that I sounded like a moron or that everyone hated me or thought I was rude because I didn't talk more/ask them more about themselves etc. This may sound familiar to those of you I have met and whose numbers I have (Laura, Hanna) and who I have text after said meetings apologising for some tiny thing I may have done to offend you. Let me be clear - this is not particularly debilitating to my life. Not in the way that it is to some people at least. It doesn't often stop me from doing things I really want to do (anymore), but it does mean that I obsess about them for days before and then afterwards as I've already mentioned. On occassion I will spend an entire trip or meet up worrying and worrying about what people are thinking of me but it's not the regular occurrence it once was. Thanks to a wonderful therapist and very supportive friends I've somehow managed to overcome the worst of it, and yet....

Since having children I've been forced into way more social situations than I'm comfortable with. I know that if I want them to be good with people I have to put them in social situations, be it playgroup, baby rhyme time at the library, or even just trips to the playground. In our local area we have some lovely groups. Today we attended a monthly kids group at our church where we're just starting to get to know people and it was lovely except that Ben shouted 'I don't like it' the whole way through the story and prayer and I felt like everyone was staring at me and judging me for being a horrible mother and unable to make him stop. Probably they were just sitting there sympathising silently, but I always worry. Don't get me wrong, I talk to people at these things and they are generally lovely, but I always feel incredibly awkward and the conversations are almost always very short. I know that two is a difficult age and everything can seem overwhelming but when playing 'What's the Time, Mr Wolf?' Ben continually cried and told me it was scary and I couldn't help but wonder if my tension in new situations and in big groups is somehow feeding through to him in the same way that he's picked up a fear of bees from the way Rhys is around them?

I didn't think that my anxiety was obvious to an outsider but kids are intuitive and it's impossible not to worry about how my behaviour affects my children. Only in this case it's difficult because I don't know what I can do about it. I hope that being around my more confident siblings and their families will help my boys.

It's difficult and I don't have answers, I just needed to write this.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Fairytale Fridays

A little while ago I posted about my new monthly fairytale meme and now I'm back to announce that the first Fairytale Fridays will take place on Friday 24th April! I'd love it it you'd join in on (or around) this date and come back here on 24th and link up your posts and share the fairytale love. You can write about anything fairytale related - original tales, movies, retellings, experiences, anything. As long as it's fairytale, it's ok. 

In case you'd like some prompting, I've got a list of topics you can write about. If you're like me and have a little bit of an obsession I'm sure you won't need any encouragement to jump right in and write about whatever you're currently reading, watching or talking about, but just in case you're on the fence and would love to take part but are stuck for ideas, here's some inspiration. I've not assigned dates to them so just feel free to use the list as reference and use whichever prompt whenever you feel inspired! 

I'll be back every month on the last Friday of the month and you'll be able to link up your posts then. Please also feel free to borrow the image I've made for it or make your own and spread the word! The more the merrier! 

  • What is your favourite fairytale? 
  • What is your earliest fairytale related memory? How did it impact your life?
  • What is your favourite retelling of a fairytale and why?
  • Favourite character from a fairytale/myth?
  • Most influential moment from a fairytale?
  • Quirky fairytale related facts
  • Recommended fairytale reading
  • What do fairytales mean to you?
  • A folktale from your country or culture
  • What are your feelings about how men are portrayed in fairytales? Who are your favourites/least favourites? 
  • What are your feelings about how women are portrayed in fairytales? Who are your favourites/least favourites?
  • Witches - evil or misunderstood?
  • Do you think fairytales have any relevance to forming a moral and ethical code to live by or are they just nice stories?
  • Why do you think people love fairytales?
  • Poor good vs rich bad - Social class stereotypes in fairytales. Discuss. 
  • Feminist fairytales. The Best, the worst, or your feelings about them. 
  • Are happily ever afters really happy?
  • Your visit to a place associated with myth/legend/fairytale
  • Best fairytales for kids
  • Best fairytale adaptations
  • Most popular fairytales. Why do you think they are the popular ones?
  • Disney - love or hate?
If you have ideas of your own that we can add to this list, please leave them in the comments! I'm also planning some kind of a 'watch the movie, read the story' kind of event, details to follow. This list will be permanently accessible via a link in my left sidebar. If you'd like me to remind you when the next Fairytale Friday is coming up, please leave your twitter handle or email address below (or email it to me via the link in my left sidebar) and I'll be happy to do that!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Sorting through Pinterest: Stuff I Want to Make Soon

Inspiration on Monday

I've been excited about Inspiration on Monday since I first saw the (gorgeous) graphic for it on Trish's Instagram. Of course now that the first one has rolled around everything I want to post about is not a valid option - either I only just started or it's finished and I forgot to take photos and it has been eaten. However, rather than miss out on the first week I thought I'd just jump in with some stuff that's been inspiring me. 

If you follow me here or on twitter or instagram you'll probably have seen all my #yearofmaking posts. Although I've been a little lax about actually photographing and posting pictures lately, I am still going strong with it and have several Pinterest boards full of things I want to get around to sooner or later! In the interests of self-motivation (and discovering what it is that I've actually pinned...) I thought I'd share a few of the things I'm most looking forward to with you. 

Image credit here

This skirt was the first thing I pinned and one of the first things to go in my Ravelry library when I joined years ago! Oh and if you're a knitter or crocheter and not already on Ravelry, that's hours of free inspiration for you right there! The pattern is free and beautiful and I love skirts and don't wear enough of them. Also I've been craving to make something really pretty for a while. There's been lots of the useful and necessary recently but not a huge amount of pretty. 

Homemade Coconut Oil Lime Shaving Cream - Moisturize your skin while you shave with this refreshing homemade shaving cream. You'll love the luxurious feel of this homemade shaving cream and how simple it is to make. Oh, and did I mention it's much cheaper than store bought shaving cream? Added bonus!
Image credit

Coconut Oil Lime Shaving Cream -  I have all the stuff for this already, I planned to make it for Rhys a while back but hit a stumbling block in the form of not having a jar to actually put it in once it's made. I'm going to get around this soon though because the coconut essential oil I have smells too good not to make it! 

Image credit

This is one of the pages from the Ultimate Quiet Book. I really want to make this for the boys, it has so many pages of awesome stuff and I think Ben especially would love it! Now I just have to motivate myself (ah, the age old problem!). 

denim craft aprons hanging on clothesline
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Kids Craft Apron made from old jeans! I have at least two pairs of jeans which are too holey to wear anymore and the boys both need aprons to cover themselves while making extreme amounts of mess painting. What could be more perfect?

Kids Kitchen Slipcover
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Kids Play Kitchen Slip Cover. This just goes over a chair and so needs no space for storage - a bit plus in my house! Once I've got over my slight nervousness around my sewing machine I'm going to be all over this! 

Writing this post two things have become apparent. Firstly, that I pin waaaaay too much stuff that I actually only have the vaguest of interest in, and secondly that I don't have enough stuff that I actually want to make for myself! If anyone has any helpful blogs/websites full of inspiring stuff please point me in their direction!! 

To see everyone else's Inspiration on Monday posts, head over to Trish's blog!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Currently 05/04/2015

This week lots has been going on! I was back at work after nine months of maternity leave - just two days - which was great. Very nice to see friends again and get back into the swing of some non-mummy things! We've also had my lovely friend Rachelle staying which has meant lots of chatting, cooking and long walks. Amazing.

Time and place 8pm on Easter Sunday evening.

Reading Coot Club by Arthur Ransome. I'm finally back on a roll with my big Swallows and Amazons read and I'm excited to finally post about Peter Duck and Winter Holiday this week! I'm loving all the adventures and kids learning to do stuff for themselves. It's brilliant. I'm also still (slowly) reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and still enjoying it, but the boats and adventuring are taking precedence at the moment. I've finally admitted defeat with War and Peace as I'm just too far behind to catch up now and the library want their copy back anyway. I do also own a copy and I do intend to carry on and finish it once my enthusiasm for it comes back from wherever it's gone. Massive thanks to Hanna for the readalong though as I now realise that I really enjoy it so I probably will actually finish it one day!

Watching The series of Terry Pratchett's Truckers which was made the year I was born. I need to finish it up as we got a bit distracted chatting while it was on. Also rewatching the first series of My Mad Fat Diary while we wait for the second series to arrive from eBay. I'd actually forgotten how amazing it is, but I've now got Rachelle into that and Rainbow Rowell so I'd count that as winning!

Listening Still so much Muppets. All the Muppets. And managed to catch a bit of Elaine Page on Sunday, our favourite Radio 2 show - 2 hours dedicated to showtunes. Hooray!

Blogging I'm hosting my first ever readathon in May! It's a week completely dedicated to re-reading old favourites and books you've not read for way too long. I'm calling it the Re-Readathon (because I'm imaginative) and I'm hoping to have a twitter chat and possibly some kind of challenge/giveaway although I'm not going to do too much as it's the week before Bout of Books which I also fully anticipate taking part in. If you have anything you'd like to re-read please join us by signing up here. I also posted a review of Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad and a discussion post about pre-ordering books

Also the first post in our Meet the Ninjas series came out over on the Ninja Book Swap blog yesterday, featuring yours truly! There will be lots of other swappers in weeks to come so do go have a read whether or not you've heard of the swap before!

Finally, I added a new page to the blog. It's called 'Books for Beanstalk' and contains all the books I currently have for sale as part of my fundraising efforts! I'll be updating the page as I have more books to add and am eagerly trying to finish my TBR tin so that I can get started! I also plan on doing a car boot sale with whatever I have left plus some other stuff at the end of the summer with all funds going to the charity. Head over there and have a browse through what I have. All money raised will go towards helping kids to read.

Recommending My Mad Fat Diary to everyone who stands still for long enough. Did I mention how excited I am that there's going to be a third series? So excited. Also Chocolate Tea. Love it this week!

Loving #yearofmaking and One Little Word for making me more creative and more mindful of how much stuff I have and making the most of things. The prompt for this month for One Little Word is all about the photography and I'm really enjoying it. I used to do lots of photo taking as a teenager but haven't really in recent years and I do love taking photos of the boys and seeing how much they've grown! Also Easter. For the first time ever I haven't got a ridiculous amount of chocolate and I actually really like having less. I feel less like I have to eat it all in one go and feel sick, it's nice.

Making So this week has been all about the making! I've made Vegan Shepherd's Pie from this recipe and it was so good! I also made a chocolate loaf cake which failed as a cake due to our oven taken ages longer than it was meant to to cook it, but did spectacularly well as chocolate pudding, chocolate brownies, carrot,sultana and cashew cookies, and tea loaf. And I started knitting a blanket, because my knitting needles had been idle for too long. It's the Community Afghan from this pattern, and I'm doing it all in blues and purples. It's pretty so far, and I've knitted six squares so only ninety to go before I'm done...

Bout of Books
Anticipating the 24 hour Readathon coming up! I won't be able to take part in all of it due to having to look after small people but decided to do it anyway because I know I'll be sad and feel left out if I don't! Also hugely looking forward to my Re-Readathon and to Bout of Books! Offline, I'm excited about having my sister and her boyfriend and my other sister and brother-in-law coming to stay with us this week. My sister and brother-in-law haven't seen the house yet, so I'm looking forward to showing them around! Also nervously anticipating my second (techincally third but the first was over five years ago so obviously doesn't count) attempt at my driving test on Friday. We shall see.

Aaaaaand while writing that post I ate my entire Easter egg. And now I feel sick.

Happy Easter everyone! What are you reading?

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Preordering: Yes or No and Why? - Discuss

I have a habit of asking Rhys questions he has a) no answer for and b) little interest in. When I most recently did this while scrolling through twitter I decided a better idea would be to turn these questions into posts for the blog and ask people who might actually have answers and interest what they think, which is my way of asking you to talk to me please!

So here's my question. 

Do you preorder books? And if you do, what are your reasons for doing it? Do you just preorder books from your favourite authors or do you do it for anything you're particularly excited about? 

Honestly, this is a phenomenon I don't really understand. The last book I preordered was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and then I ended up cancelling my preorder because I went on the spur of the moment to one of the 'dress up like a wizard and queue up outside Waterstone's at midnight and have a picture taken of you holding a book' events and bought one anyway. I am speaking as a person who also doesn't really like or buy hardbacks though, so obviously I have no problem waiting to read things. Is it just the price reduction that draws you to preorder or do you like the feeling of being assured a copy as soon as the book comes out? 

I sort of understood it with Harry Potter because there was that whole thing where they actually did run out of books and lots of people who wanted to read whichever book it was that happened with had to wait for a whole other print run to happen before they could, but as far as I'm aware that doesn't happen too often. Generally if you want to read a book all you have to do is go to a bookshop/ask someone/order it and there it is, and it's not like I'm going to run out of stuff to read while I'm waiting for the book to arrive or come out in paperback. I think we've already established that it would be a minimum of a couple of years before I'm even going to start looking like I might run out of reading material. 

So those are my thoughts on the whole preordering thing, and I am genuinely curious to know what you all think about it and whether you do it or not and why (or why not). Let's talk in the comments! 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Re-Readathon: May 4th - 10th

As I was putting my boys to bed this evening I was gazing through the gloom at the books on my keeper shelf and realising that there were quite a few on there that I haven't reread since first reading them, in some cases, years ago. If I'm never going to read them again, what's the point in keeping hold of them? So I came up with the idea of a re-readathon - an entire week of only reading the amazing books I've already read and seeing if they hold up to my memories of them.

I'd love it if you'd join me to talk about the books you love and generally wallow in comfort reading. After taking part in the Bloggiesta twitter chats a while ago I decided I need to be doing more of them, so hopefully I'll figure it out enough to host one for this readathon at some point during the week but if not you can just use #rereadathon to talk to other people on Twitter. Sign up all month by linking up your blog below, and let me know if you post pictures or post about your planned reading, I love to be nosy!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad

A couple of weeks ago I read a lot of Terry Pratchett in memory of a great author and I'm just now getting around to actually talking about what I read. 

I read The Bromeliad (Truckers, Diggers and Wings) for the first time and now I can totally see why it's so many people's way in to Pratchett. Incidentally, if you'd like to see my recommendations for where to start if you've never read any, I wrote a post about that!

The basic premise of the trilogy is that our world are full of little 4 inch high creatures called nomes who move so fast that humans have no idea they even exist. The story begins when the few nomes left living outside, led by Masklin, leave their home on the back of a truck and arrive at 'the Store.' The store nomes think that the store is the entire world and that its founder, Arnold Bros (Est. 1905) is God, and the nomes from outside have their work cut out for them to fit into their new surroundings! 

All three books are very short and packed full of Pratchett's trademark satirical wit. Personally I loved how well big ideas were slipped in while making them seem like just part of a book for kids. I also loved the subtlety of the story, and towards the end of Wings particularly there was a really lovely bit which made me go 'aaaawwwwww'. If you enjoy Pratchett's writing you should definitely read these books. If you've never read any Pratchett, Truckers is a great place to start.