Personal

Jayne’s Addiction…to the Coffee Machine!

Back when I started trying to get my weight in check and live a healthier life, I realised a few things. Firstly I realised that I had a fairly serious addiction to food, which might sound like a cheesy way of saying ‘greedy’ but it was more than that. Buying and eating food gave me a buzz like nothing else, so kicking the habit was going to be hard. However, giving up carbs seemed simple compared with the prospect of giving up my other love – COFFEE!

Coffee is something that I would seriously struggle to give up. I usually get at least one latte per day from the coffee machines at my local Waitrose, as well as using our drip coffee maker at home all day. I’ve recently also looked into buying a milk steamer so that I can have my own lattes at home, but the market is huge and I’ve struggled to work out which one would be best for me. The beauty of my diet, however, is that coffee is positively encouraged, so I’m okay!

As I’ve got older, I’ve got more of a taste for strong, properly brewed coffee from a machine; in the past, instant was okay, but I blame that on working in a lot of offices where freeze-dried coffee was the only thing that got us through the day! Now that I work at home, I’m able to be a lot fussier about it all. There are so many different blends out there and I do look out for the stronger ones. I’ve even been tempted to look for a Sage coffee machine as I know they’re one of the best you can get, but they are a little pricey.

The funny thing is, even though Burrito Baby is only 3 and a half, she already loves coffee! Just the other day, her lunch request was “plain toast and a cup of coffee” – I joked in Facebook that it was like having another 33 year old in the house! Obviously, we make her decaffeinated coffee because, you know, we do like sleep sometimes, but having coffee from a young age is pretty normal in other parts of the world. Husband’s family is German on one side and they think nothing of letting their little ones have a milky cup of coffee each day.

Coffee is proven to be beneficial in many ways. As well as being packed with antioxidant, which fight off disease and the ageing process, it’s also shown to be good for digestion and studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases. All of this seems like a perfect reason to continue my coffee consumption with gusto – I almost wonder if my lack of broodiness is because I never want to go nine months without caffeine again!

Are you a coffee lover? Do you use a proper coffee machine or is instant good enough for you? I’d love to hear from any fellow coffee addicts out there, so do leave me a comment below!

Anger · Parenting · Personal

Parenting Groups: Five Reasons for Quitting

parenting groupsFor a fair while, I’ve been part of a few different parenting groups on Facebook, places where mums and dads can go to ask questions about anything from “does this rash look like chickenpox?” to “which shops have Hatchimals in stock?” and largely it’s been good. I’ve asked plenty of questions myself and try to help others where I can. But, as of yesterday, I’ve removed myself from these groups (all but The Motherload) because it’s just messing with my head. There are questions which get asked over and over and OVER again and they’re things which make me so cross that I can actually FEEL my blood pressure rising. Here’s just 5 of those questions:

1. Vaccinations

This was the one which prompted me to remove myself yesterday and it’s probably the one which makes me the MOST angry. Someone asked “Have any other parents refused vaccinations for their kids and has is caused them problems with school and nursery?”. The comments are full of people who think they know better than the World Health Organisation (despite the fact that they get their info from American websites with URLs like VacTruth.com and nothing with any basis in actual science). Just in the last month, I’ve seen people cite the inclusion of mercury and aluminium in vaccines as a reason not to give them as well as one woman who claimed that the flu vaccine contained MSG which is, WAIT FOR IT…WORSE THAN GIVING HER CHILD COCAINE. (FML)Another woman claimed that she knew all about herd immunity and it meant that her child didn’t need vaccinations, thus proving that she actually knew nothing about fucking herd immunity.  I was one step shy of spamming the group of pictures of kids with smallpox, so I decided it was best to step away.

2. Baby Names

I’m aware that what people on random parenting groups name their kids is absolutely NONE of my business, but every time there was a “can I have suggestions of names for my unborn child?” thread, I’d read through with my head in my hands, feeling really sorry for the future generation of children who were going to have names like “Aliviyah” (pronounced Olivia, just in case you were wondering) and feeling like I was living in a real life Idiocracy.

3. Nub Theory

“Oh hi everyone. Can you look at this scan picture of my baby (who is probably too young to have even properly developed reproductive organs yet) and guess what their gender might be based on a totally theoretical and unproven method of working it out?”. Nub theory is a THEORY. Asking strangers to guess the gender of your unborn child is stupid.

4. Keeping Up with The Jonses

Do you know what I found myself Googling the other day? Matching Christmas dresses for me and the girls. Thanks to the people on Facebook parenting groups who go absolutely fucking OVERBOARD every Christmas with their EXPERIENCES and their CHRISTMAS EVE BOXES and their “BOOK-A-DAY” ADVENT CALENDARS and ALLLLLLL the other overblown shit that everyone MUST do and MUST talk about at length so that they can lord it over everyone else, I am seriously considering matching outfits for myself, my eight year old and my two year old for Christmas Day. And I’m pretty sure that makes me a massive twat.

5. Nastiness

I’m aware that what I’ve written above may seem like a bit of nastiness but this is NOTHING compared with some of the vile behaviour I’ve seen from grown people in parenting groups. There’s a LOT of stuff which gets discussed that I don’t agree with but I always try to be respectful and give replies to people based on actual knowledge and not just knee-jerk reactions. Often though (I assume on days when there’s a full moon and everyone’s menstrual cycle is syncronised) things can get NASTY. Simple threads about bottle feeding can lead to struggling Mums being called c*nts and being left wishing they hadn’t asked in the first place and it’s that kind of behaviour that I just don’t want to be a part of.

Are you a member of any of these kid of online groups? Do you find that they enhance your life or do you step away from your phone or PC feeling like your head is going to explode? I’d love to hear from you!

All About ME! · Personal

No Time to Read?

Time to ReadAs soon as I was old enough to read, I became something of a bookworm. The Hobbit was the first “proper” book I read when I was about 6 and it was an ongoing love affair from then. When I was in my early teens, I’d wake up on Saturday morning, go into town to buy a new book and then spend the rest of the weekend reading it, usually finished by Sunday afternoon. My mother was so concerned by my lack of interest in being a street-raker that she actually consulted a doctor about my behaviour (although I think most  parents would be delighted by a child who chose to stay at home and read, but hey, sometimes you just can’t win).

The last time I read a book was a couple of years ago now. Carrie, by Stephen King if I remember rightly (which I highly recommend, if you haven’t already read it. In fact, read ANYTHING by Stephen King.). But since then, I’ve not picked up a book. I have plenty of access to books and I also have a Kindle, so that’s not the problem.

I keep claiming that I “don’t have time to read”, but that’s not really true, either. I have plenty of time for Facebook and Netflix and Candy Crush and all of the other things which hog my attention. I might CLAIM to be time poor but that only seems to apply when it suits me. I think the problem is inside my brain…what I once loved about reading is the thing which is making it hard for me now. Bear with me while I elaborate.

One of the appeals of reading a book was that feeling of slipping inside the story, losing myself in the words and in my own imagination and being taken away from reality into a finely-woven tale which could completely consume me. These days, I seem to have an absolute inability to disconnect myself enough to lose myself in anything. Even when we’re watching a film or TV show, I’m picking up my phone to browse Facebook or Reddit or occasionally Twitter (I say ‘occasionally’ because, is it just me, or is that place just tumbleweed central these days? No-one seems to chat on there like they used to).

People have noticed how attached to social media I am and it’s become a bit of a running joke, but it’s also starting to worry me. It seems like my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has become all-encompassing. It’s definitely a lifestyle thing; when I was young and single, I literally NEVER turned down a night out or a chance to socialise. I could be settling down in my pyjamas, get a phone call and be in the pub in half an hour flat because I couldn’t bear the thought that people were having fun without me, and I think Facebook has become a substitute for that – I can still be sitting in my pyjamas, not NEEDING to go out and still be connected to everything that’s going on in my friends lives.

I’ve seen other people take a social media detox and I genuinely wonder how they do it. Going on Facebook, either by app or desktop, has become almost like a reflex, something I do as a matter course and I really feel like I need to take a break. The main fear is that, because so much of my work is social-based or reliant on a social media scoring, stepping away means losing money but I think I need to give it a go and see before I let it consume me. From next week, I’ll be removing the app from my phone and only accessing Facebook via my laptop, and I’ll only be using my laptop during “work” hours.

I need to re-learn how to read. How to watch a TV show without picking up my phone every two seconds. How to interact with my kids and Husband without there being a screen between me and them.

And the stupid thing is, the thought of it fucking terrifies me.

Kids · Parenting · Personal

“You Look Like a Girl”

boy dressed as princessThe other day, I needed to buy some new pillows so I went to the supermarket and was wandering around the clothing and home wares department having a browse. It was pretty quiet in there as it was only about 9.15am and there were only one or two other shoppers in the whole place. One other customer was a woman, probably in her mid-to-late twenties and her son, who obviously wasn’t quite school age yet, but still looked roughly 4-ish.

The kid was wandering around fairly unchecked and at one point started to try things on from one of those free-standing jewellery and accessory displays that turns – you know the ones, right? Anyway, he became particularly enamoured with a pair of novelty sunglasses which had red, heart-shaped frames. He put them on and after admiring himself in the tiny mirror for a few seconds, turned to his Mum and, with huge amounts of pride and happiness said “Mum! Look at me! I love these glasses!”.

The mother turned to him, narrowed her eyes and with pure vitriol in her voice said “Oh my god, take those off, you look like a girl”.

My initial reaction was one of sadness as I watched the boy, clearly deflated after being rebuffed by the mother from whom he’d so wanted a little bit of praise and affirmation, take off the glasses and put them gently back on the shelf. He looked really sad, and not in that “I wanted something and Mum wouldn’t buy it for me” way that kids do, but in a genuinely confused and upset way.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the madder I’ve felt.

Firstly, what is it about red, heart shaped glasses which is designated as a GIRLS ONLY thing? Even if you do subscribe to the (bloody annoying) notion that colours are somehow gendered, surely red is a pretty neutral colour? And hearts…I mean, do only girls have hearts?! Err, no.

Secondly, even if you do think that red, heart shaped glasses are ‘girly’, SO WHAT if he does look like a girl? How is that somehow a negative thing? Is it really so bad to let a child experiment with what they feel comfortable in and form their own notions of femininity and masculinity? I know loads of guys (Husband included on one or two occasions) who’ve worn pink and absolutely rocked it. They didn’t look like girls, they looked like MEN IN PINK, just like this little boy simply looked like a boy in heart-shaped glasses. There’s a big difference.

Also, I genuinely thought we were getting past the days of negative gender stereotypes? I see little boys on my friends’ Facebook timelines playing with dollies, pushchairs, vaccums, ironing boards; all toys which, even in my lifetime, would have firmly been in the girls toys aisle and equally, I see MANY girls playing with Thomas the Tank Engine – Burrito Baby got her own tool kit and farm vehicles for her 2nd birthday whilst Sausage’s favourite things are Pokemon, Match Attax and her NERF guns. But these are “boys toys”, no? Or, is it possible, that we can just have fun with things we like, regardless. Well, yes, obviously it is.

It makes me so sad to think that little boys are having their joy, their individuality and their creativity squashed by parents with an archaic notion of what it is to be a boy and I really dread to think about the issues that this could cause them as they grow up. As a parent, I strongly believe that, although it’s our job to guide our children in terms of morality, safety and care, it’s also really important to allow them to develop their sense of self.

What do you think? Would you allow your sons to wear red, heart-shaped sunglasses? Or do you think that boys should be boys and girls should be girls and that the old-fashioned line in the sand between the two genders should remain? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Family · Life · Love · Personal · Relationships

Almost a Third of my Life…

Today is a bit of a special day here in the MTW house – it marks the exact day TEN years ago that Husband and I became a couple. Ten years have passed, not without some major ups and downs, but quite honestly, I think Husband and I have basically beat the odds. No-one expected us to last as long as we did, especially when we announced our engagement just six weeks after meeting, but a decade later, almost a third of my life, one dog, two babies, eight house-moves, new careers and a whole load of life in between, here we are. As much as I’d like to remain dignified in my self-satisfaction, what I actually want to do is give a MASSIVE middle finger to all of our doubters.

via GIPHY

I think most people who’ve been with someone for a whole decade will agree that marriage takes work. Unless you’re one of those weird couples who never argue (and I’m not sure they truly even exist, if I’m being honest), there will always be friction. Sometimes that friction feels too much to bear and I’m terribly guilty of failing to communicate at times, but Husband and I both work to make sure our relationship stays strong.

What I will say, though, is that although we sometimes argue, although things aren’t 100% perfect all the time, I’m still convinced that I made the right choice. I still find Husband absolutely hilarious, I still love our shared interests and tastes in music and films, as well as our differences and the fact that we learn from one another all the time. And, obviously, I still fancy him rotten *blush*.

With all that in mind, in honour of a DECADE of not killing one another, I thought I’d write some new vows for the next ten years together, just because no relationship is completely unchanged after ten years and I’m certainly not the same person I was when I was 21.

I promise…

…to do my best not to turn into my mother.

…to try to keep my tendency to over-react and be passive aggressive to a minimum

…to avoid rolling my eyes when you tell me how much you hate washing up

…to try stay awake through at least ONE film per week

…to be considerate of the fact that you’re not a happy passenger in cars and not take it as criticism when you point things out when I drive

…to never use the kids as a weapon or use you as a method of discipline when you aren’t here

…to put up with your farts…as long as you put up with mine

…to serve you smaller portions of dinner because I KNOW you can’t not clear your plate

…to try to stay young at heart and enjoy each other as the years go by

Romantic, huh? Maybe not, but sometimes it’s the practical considerations that we make for one another that remind us how much we’re loved. The fact that Husband knows how I like my coffee, or when he hoovers the car out even though I’m the one who let it get disgusting, or when he listens to me talk endlessly about the dramas which have turned me upside down over the past couple of years, always remaining on my side. That’s love, that is.

So, here’s to another ten years with my best friend and the best Dad I could wish for, for Sausage and Burrito Baby. Now, if he’d just vow to put his clothes in the washing basket, life would be perfect…!

Maldives, August 2006
Look how young we look! (Ignore the random Maldivian man in the background…!)