Saturday, 20 March 2010

Recession over???

Apparently the recession is over, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. I'd be exaggerating if I said we were really struggling but to be honest we're not as comfortable as we were a year or so ago. I'm not going to go into our financial affairs because that's our business and I don't think it's right to talk to anybody about how much you earn. But I also think it can be really unhealthy to bottle up any sort of problem you might have.

This is why we've had to become more money smart...

Firstly, we have a fortnightly meal planner. This really helps cut the cost of our weekly food shopping because we know exactly what we need. Why a fortnightly meal planner? I think it can get a bit dull if you have the same thing every week so it doesn't seem as repetitive this way. I also only meal plan for Monday to Friday and at the weekend we have something a bit special, such as a roast dinner or steak pie. And if you can do homemade it's even cheaper. You'll spend a wee bit more the first time you buy all your store cupboard essentials such as spices, herbs, flour etc but they keep for so long you won't need to keep buying them everytime you make a meal.

I keep a spreadsheet of all the incomings and outgoings. We're lucky that one of us is monthly paid and the other is weekly paid so we're not scraping together whatever we can come the last week of the month. Seeing exactly what you're paying really helps you keep on top of your expenses. Budget is key here! If we go over budget then we can't do the nice things we like to do, like going out for a Chinese once a month or taking Wee Z to soft play.

We use the supermarkets to get the kids' clothes and shoes. I'd love to be able to go into Debenhams and buy all my kids' clothes but I can't and let's be truthful here, they grow that quickly it's almost crazy to spend £10 on a t-shirt there when you could spend that on a full outfit in Asda or Tesco. Of course, if the grandparents want to buy them something from Debenhams or Next...!  I also found sites like ebay and Freecycle really good for getting baby clothes when Wee Z was young. We've also been lucky to have friends who have given us old baby clothes their little ones don't wear anymore and we've done the same back.

Days out are to the park in nice weather or to the library on a rainy day.

In a fantasy world I'd have enough money to be able to buy my children everything and anything they ever wanted. They wouldn't need for a thing. I'd love to be able to go out to the cinema with my hubby every time a new film came out. I'd love to be able to change my car every 3 years for a shiny fast new one...I'd love to have a car each LOL! I'd like to be able to get my hair done every 12 weeks! To go on holiday once a year! To buy myself some new clothes! But this is reality and the fact is, we can't. It's not ideal, it is hard but at the end of the day we chose to have our family and we have to make the best of the situation we're in. I'm sure there are plenty of families out there who are in similar or worse positions than us.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Top Tip Friday

Truffles! Yummy!

These are one of my favourite treats to make and they are really quick and easy too! Wee Z loves helping to roll them and pour sprinkles or icing sugar on them. Here he is enjoying them when he was 1!

There are loads of recipes out there for making truffles and you can add all sorts of things to them to make them a bit special. But here's the basic recipe I follow and this is what you'll need:

1 pack of digestive biscuits
1 pack of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder or drinking chocolate
1 or 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut (optional)
1 tin of condensed milk
Icing sugar, cocoa powder or sprinkles for coating

Start by crushing your biscuits into crumbs either by hand or if you've got one, use the food processor. You can use the full pack or half the pack, it doesn't matter, it just depends how many you want to make. Add the cocoa powder or drinking chocolate and the coconut if you're using it. Melt the butter. The quantity of butter you use will depend on how many biscuits you're using. If you're using half the biscuits then I'd use a 1/4 of the butter or 1/2 the butter if you are using the full pack. Add the butter to the biscuit mix and stir until all the crumbs are coated. Then add the condensed milk until the full mix is sticking together, again how much will depend on how many biscuits you've used. Pop it in the fridge until the mix is ready to roll, usually about 30 minutes. The best way to check if it's ready to roll is by taking a small piece in your hand. If it is still quite sticky or if when rolled into a ball it starts to sink then it needs a bit longer. When you roll them you can make them as big or as small as you like. To finish them off you can roll them in cocoa powder or in chocolate sprinkles or dust them with icing sugar.

You can make different variations by using different biscuits, such as Ginger Nuts which are really tasty. So long as it's a plain biscuit then it will work. You could leave the cocoa powder out to make plain truffles and then dip them in melted chocolate or make a toffee or fudge sauce. Yummy! They are also really lovely to give as a gift at Christmas or to a nursery/primary teacher at the end of term. They keep nice for about 3 days either in the fridge or in a cool cupboard. You might want to hide them though because once you've had one, you'll want to keep going!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Mothering Sunday

Happy Mother's Day to my Mum. Wish we were spending the day together! Happy Mother's Day Bella from Wee Z and Miss C x

Happy Mother's Day to my Grandma aka GG x Happy Mother's Day to my cousin V, fab mummy to Miss A and Wee L x And to my Aunt L and Aunt J x

Happy Mother's Day to my sister aka Auntie P x And a special Happy Mother's Day from Wee Z to his God Mum x

Happy Mother's Day to my Gran, who is sadly no longer with us. I wish you were here so many days! I wish you could have met my little family who I know would have adored you and your witty ways...

My Gran was quite an incredible woman I think. A rare gem of a woman. My Gran was fiercely loyal and protective of my Mum and her 2 daughters. She would have done and quite literally did anything she could have done for us. Some of the stories I have of my Gran are some of the funniest stories. Her sense of humour was that of real old school toilet humour. It was never called farting though, always passing wind. My Gran used to say that people would think she was a witch because she had this huge Witches' tree in her front garden surrounded by rose bushes and she had a black cat called Lucky. My Gran believed that 13 was her lucky number. I never knew my Grandad well as he passed away when I was only 3 but I know that my Gran missed him deeply when he passed. She would always say she couldn't wait to be with him again. My Gran passed away on Friday the 13th. She always said 13 was her lucky number and whilst we all miss her I know she's happy wherever she is...cackling away at a passing wind story!

Although Mother's Day is a day for us all to make our Mums, Grans or Aunts feel special, we should cherish every moment we can with them.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mums, Grans, Aunts, God Mums and to all the other special ladies out there!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Dream job

I think I may need a career change. Do you need to change jobs, seriously, when you walk into the office after 10 months off and feel like it was only yesterday that you walked waddled out that same office 2 stone heavier?

The last 2 days have been fairly stress free and I've enjoyed the time away from Wee Z and Miss C and enjoyed coming home to them even more. I guess it really does make you feel better just spending a few hours doing something for yourself every now and then.

I'm one of those rare people who actually enjoys their job. It's fairly easy to do and I work with really nice people but I can't see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I've always wanted to do something medical. I did fairly well on my GCSEs but lacked the motivation to stay on at college and do my A Levels. After a few weeks of term they asked me to leave because I had missed too many classes. I was too busy doing things that I really wish I hadn't done but have gotten me where I am today. Unfortunately this has left me with only the basic of qualifications and with 2 children and a mortgage to take care of, going to college may be an option that will have to wait a bit longer.

My dream is to become a midwife, even more so since having my children. I'm not naive. I know there are literally no jobs out there for the most qualified midwife in the country so I have chosen to go into general nursing and then specialising as a midwife. This way I can be more versatile. I am also fascinated by hospitals. When I had Wee Z, I spent 3 days in hospital prior to having him and I loved it. The excitement, the noise, the smells. I know I'm sounding a bit strange but if you have a passion then everything about it just gets you hyped up about it.

I am going to apply to college and I'll see if I can afford to go. I need to do this for the better of my family. I need to do this for the better for me.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Off to work I go...

One of the best things about having a baby if you are a full time (or part time) working mum is maternity leave. The money isn't great but the fact that you can be off for 39 weeks and receive maternity pay is fantastic. In some cases you can be lucky enough to have a full year off work. Unfortunately it has to come to an end for me and as of Monday I will be back to the working world.

Of course I will miss being with Wee Z and Miss C all day everyday however I think it will be good for me to get out and have a bit of adult conversation. Sometimes you just need it, you know, or you tend to go a bit insane.

One of the big worries I think a lot of mothers have about returning to work is childcare. We are not in a position financially to put Wee Z and Miss C into nursery or to a childminder. I did look into it and for me to put them into nursery part time I'd have had to go back to work full time. It is just crazy how expensive childcare can be, not even the little amount we receive from the government helps! I'm also not lucky enough to have my mum near me, which is hard as she's probably the only person aside from Daddy who I'd fully trust to leave my children with. It's just something about leaving the children with someone who isn't "your own". Is that just me? As a result I've had to request to work hours that fit round Daddy's shifts so he can look after them when I'm working and vice versa. Thankfully my work have been very accomodating! I think it will be good for Daddy to have some time alone with the children mostly so he can see how hard it is to look after them both, clean and maintain the house, cook a meal or three and then go out to work. Daddy says he doesn't dispute how hard it must be for me and always says how great a job I do but I think there's a difference between saying it and actually living it yourself. At the end of the day at least I know who Wee Z and Miss C will be with and don't have to worry about anything happening or them not settling. Well, of course, there is the hurdle of getting Miss C to take a bottle for her feeds but I'm sure if she is hungry enough she'll take it!

I am looking forward to going back to work on Monday but if my numbers come up tonight on the lottery...

Monday, 1 March 2010

I just want to...


That pretty much sums up the weekend I had. Do you ever get them? It doesn't have to be a weekend, it could be a day, a week...longer?

My particuarly hellish weekend started in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Miss C decided she wanted to have a good old waking up session at around 2.30am and proceeded to cry for a good half an hour. I'm a big believer in allowing them to cry for 5 minutes before I go in. Nine times out of ten, they settle themselves without much fuss. After 5 minutes she was still going so in I went, did some reassuring as best I could still half asleep myself and bursting for the loo (really, when does the pregnancy bladder go away????!!) and after a few whispered but slightly cheesed off Sssshhhss she settled down with her favourtie teddy and nodded off. As soon as I walked out the room she was at it again. She eventually settled back to sleep until 5am. Again she cried, again I went in, again I peed and again she fell asleep. I stumbled back into bed and fell asleep for what felt like a minute but when I was woken again, 5.50am clock told me otherwise. This time I was woken by Wee Z shouting. Daddy got up this time and settled him down. Sods Law would have it that as soon as he was settled Miss C woke again and after her crying, she woke Wee Z back up. All in all a fabulous start to the weekend!

It felt like the entire weekend all I said was "Please stop shouting, please leave your sister alone, please stop snatching, please give me peace for 2 minutes, please share, please get down, please do as you are told, please behave, please go to sleep...!"

We took the kids swimming on Saturday afternoon. Daddy takes Wee Z every Saturday and I try and go along with Miss C when I can. They are both real water babies! Wee Z's swimming is fantastic and Miss C loves splashing and getting dunked. When bedtime came, Daddy and I turned to each other and said "Well, that will have tired them out, hopefully Wee Z will sleep until 8!"

Wishful thinking! At around 6am Miss C starts to stir which isn't too bad because she wakes for her feed at 6.30am. When she woke up I brought her into bed and turned the light back off in a hope she'd feed and go back to sleep when in walks Wee Z bright eyed and bushy tailed. Daddy decided he was going to lie in, so I got up and took the kids down for breakfast. We had to make a detour to the living room to change Miss C's bum. Nothing like a big baby poo to wake you up! The day panned out with more "Please don't do that, please don't shout, please sit down..."

By the time Sunday night came my head was thumping and I was ready just to curl up in my fresh new sheeted bed and forget the whole weekend.

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