The Seven Year Itch

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I met my Lovely Rock God Husband seven years ago today. I can now pinpoint that day as when my life changed completely. I had spent my adult life up until the previous year bouncing around aimlessly, lurching from disaster to chaos, making bad decisions and terrible choices. I wasn’t a complete write-off, thankfully, as I had finally pulled myself out with my two gorgeous toddlers and my sanity almost intact. But it was a close run thing.

I always say that the first year of my real life was that year alone with my babies. I felt in control, without anyone else’s toxic input. For the first time in my adult life I was neither co-dependent nor cowed. I was able to put my own needs, and those of my babies, above anyone else’s. I had a job, and a flat, and we had enough money to not only have a good life but to service the debt my bad choices had left me with. I was at college in the evenings, I had my family nearby and I was finally in a good place. I honestly didn’t think life could get any better.

And then I met Rob, and it did.

You know that feeling when you wake up disoriented from a bad dream that you thought was real, and then you realise that not only was it a dream but that it’s Sunday and you don’t have to get up yet? That floaty relief like being enveloped in a warm hug? That’s the feeling I wake up with every single morning since I met him.

In seven years we have never had an argument. Now, I’m not telling you this in an, ‘Oh we simply agree on everything, aren’t we wonderful’ way. We don’t always agree, but we are on the same side. We both had past relationships built on drama and shouting and conflict and it was a revelation to meet each other and discover that trust and kindness and support leads to MORE passion, not less. We deal with our disagreements by discussing our issues and coming up with resolutions that suit us both. I don’t want to shout him into submission or throw a tantrum until he gives in, because what would be the point of that? We are reading from the same book most of the time anyway, so disagreements are rare, but we’ve never raised our voices or stormed out or slammed doors because, well, why would we?

We were a family from very early on, he has been Daddy to the Chums since about a year after we met. We bought a house, got married, had a baby, went to court to make our family safe and strong, built up our savings, paid off our debts, and are about to move into our ‘forever home’.

Along the way we’ve weathered redundancy, severe drops in income, bereavements, career changes, illnesses, behavioural issues, an assault, spiraling debt and the unmitigated stress of selling and buying houses. Just in case anyone thinks we’ve had a nice easy ride of it. We’ve had our moments of depression and despair, but the low points are far outweighed by the sheer joy of our everyday life.

I wake up every morning feeling like I can take on the world, and that’s in no small part down to the support and love I have from Rob. He believes I’m amazing, and tells me every day that I am. He supports my dreams and gives me the space and the tools I need to follow them. When I was made redundant and lost my rented flat within days of each other, he insisted we move in with him and supported us all while I was a stay at home parent for nearly a year. When his flat proved too small, he sold it and we bought a house. When I decided I was starting my own Childminding business he didn’t flinch, and he never complained about coming home to a house full of other people’s children and toys. When I announced I’d had enough of Childminding and started working out of the house, he changed his hours to be at home for school pick up, learned to cook properly, took over with the bulk of the laundry and housework and takes time off work when the kids are ill.

I often think I have the better deal, here, but Rob is insistent that he does. He is my favourite person in the world, and I’d rather spend time with him than anybody. He is the cleverest and most talented person I know. Nobody else can make me laugh the way he does, and I still get that delicious tummy-flip sensation when I see him. We hold hands walking along the street because touching him makes me feel grounded and safe and happy. After seven years we still do small things to make each other happy. I come home at lunchtime to hang the washing out so he doesn’t have to do it when he gets home. He brings me coffee in bed and wakes me gently in the mornings before he leaves for work. I cook his favourite meals and he cooks mine. He gets up at the weekends so I can lounge in bed. I let him watch the football sometimes.

And although we strive to make each other equally happy, nothing ever feels like a compromise. I am mindful every day of how lucky we are to have each other, we don’t take each other for granted and we put time and energy into making our marriage and our family a happy one. And I think we do a pretty good job.

So, there’s no seven year itch here. Just a post to pause and reflect back on the last seven years and remind myself of how fortunate I am. I am generally winning at the game of life, and Rob is my coach, my cheerleader and my winner’s trophy.

Big huge love to everybody reading xxx

 

Molly Pie’s Grand Adventure!

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Molly asked for a night in a hotel for her birthday treat. As far as we’re concerned, ten is a special one. So we went all out and booked dinner and a night’s stay at The South Lodge, a five star hotel near to home, with Michelin star dining.  Just because we do like to do things properly, and with aplomb.

This is our photo diary of our great adventure. Molly pronounced it ‘the best birthday ever’, so no pressure for next year then 😉

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When we arrived, Zoe at reception greeted us by name and made a huge fuss of Molly. While I checked in, Molly was given a little tour of the lobby and shown where the toys and dvds were for later. Then our bags were carried down the corridors for us and we were shown around the hotel on the way to our room. Our room was competely breathtaking, I have lived in flats that were smaller and I plan to borrow some of the design elements in the new house, all the bold patterns and chunky frames for example.

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After unpacking, we dived into the biggest, bubbliest bath in the whole world. I need more baths like this in my life. It was divine. It was deep enough to swim in and had lights and jets. We were in heaven.

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After dressing for dinner we went to the bar for some delicious fruit cocktails. We sat at our table and the staff brought us drinks, and olives, and special birthday chocolate brownies as well! Then we were given menus and made our choices from the amazing food on offer before being invited through to the restaurant.

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We enjoyed an amuse bouche before our starter, to tickle our tastebuds before the meal.

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I had pork belly…

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Molly chose melon…

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My main course was salmon…

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Molly’s was cod and mash…

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With of course more chocolate brownies for pudding! Every single person who came to our table wished Molly a Happy Birthday and made sure we were having the most special time possible.

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After dinner we went to reception to choose a couple of dvds and went back to the room to get our pj’s on. Zoe knocked on the door to bring us some popcorn, because you can’t have film night without it. We stayed up until nearly midnight watching Despicable Me 2 and chatting and cuddling.

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The next morning, despite deciding we’d have an extra long lie in, we were both awake early. It must have been partly due to the excitement and partly due to the deep and comfortable night’s sleep.  So we got up, had a luxurious shower (it had five jets. FIVE!) and went down to breakfast.

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It was the most wonderful breakfast in the world. Molly chose lots of fruit and smoked salmon and a croissant. And had a posh hot chocolate to wash it down.

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I ordered a full English with poached eggs. It was the best fry up ever.

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Then we spent our morning exploring the hotel and its grounds. We discovered a secret rockery, ran up and down winding staircases, hid round corners and explored the cellar. It was a bit like living in a Disney film.

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But in the end it was time to leave. Our bags were taken to reception and my car was brought round (just like in a film), we said our goodbyes and came home, utterly pampered and probably spoilt for staying anywhere else ever again.

I think we’ll make this a yearly treat for me and my Pie. She deserves it, and frankly so do I! It was one of the best experiences we’ve had and will be a memory we’ll treasure forever.

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The Big Pre-Move Declutter!

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I’m starting it today, properly. I have been clearing odds and sods for a while, but the sun is shining and I’m off work so I’m psyching myself up for a Grand Purge.

The Pie is well on board, I have given her a box and a bag with instructions to fill both (bag for the bin and box for charity). I am going to start small, with the bedroom cupboard of doom, and work my way up until I’m brave enough to tackle the loft. Rob is going to attack the garage when he gets in.

I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to order a skip or whether we can do it all in runs to the tip and the charity shop. But honestly, the mammoth task is keeping me up at night. I know it’s going to be one of those jobs that is nowhere near as bad as my brain is telling me, but I am a bit wobbly about starting it.

The loft is mainly full of stuff I planned to take to the charity shop. My routine decluttering of clothes etc usually goes as follows: clear through clothes, stuff unwanted clothes into a bag for charity, walk past the bag every time I leave the house, eventually get the arse and throw the bag in the loft. Rinse and repeat.

I intend to be ruthless with the rest of the house. If I haven’t used it or thought of it in a year, it’s gone. I need to convince the Chums to do the same. My sticking point will be Rob who is much more attached to his things than I am and who will find a potential use for every manky old bit of carpet and broken camera unless I put my foot firmly down. I have a garage full of stuff as testament to that. But we are both in agreement that our new house will be a haven of calm and no clutter, so it must be done.

Right, less talk, more action. Wish me luck, Amigos.

 

 

 

The Pursuit of Happiness

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I like to think I’m very good at being happy, it’s kind of my thing these days.

 

I made a decision a long time ago to just be happy and I took control of my life after years of bouncing around like a demented pinball. It was a game changing decision.

That’s not to say I glide through life on a magic carpet of rainbows and glitter, but I do my best to put a positive spin on most things and I have become increasingly convinced over the last ten years or so that the Law Of Attraction is a real, viable thing. Now, before you all shout at me for spouting Woo bollocks, I have evidence. Sort of.

When I was in my teens and early twenties I was very depressed, and life was shit. It was a vicious circle of things being awful, me expecting them to be awful, and things continuing to be awful. I made very few good choices. My late teens saw me jobless, homeless and basically a big pile of fuck up. I started to take control by applying for a volunteer post far far away (well, Basingstoke), but I didn’t make any real changes and although I completed my year’s voluntary work I didn’t get to the root of my unhappiness and the cycle started up again. I ended up living in what can only be described as the grottiest flat in the world, in a block that was due to be demolished, barely surviving on benefits and the goodwill of my rapidly dimishing circle of friends. So I did what any rational, right thinking person would do. I got pregnant.

I know right? Not good choices. It was a theme. But it was the start of something. I’m going to gloss over the next four years because it’s boring boring boring and I don’t want to give it a second’s more thought, but I’ll sum it up by saying I fell into an awful marriage, had another baby, eventually decided life was far too short for this shit and finally, finally took control of my own life.

So life began. My babies and I started our real lives. I went to college in the evenings and worked in a shop during the day. We rented a beautiful flat. Our home was full of love and cuddles and potential. I did affirmations every day for a year, literally standing in front of a mirror telling myself I was worthwhile, that I deserved happiness. It sounds jaw droppingly cringy, but I really would love everyone to do it, it works.

Being happy led to more happiness. The universe decided to send me Rob. In fact, I asked the universe for him and he came along. I’ve often said that the timing was perfect as I wouldn’t have been ready for him before, I was too needy and didn’t value myself. He came along when I didn’t need anyone, when I had my life in my own hands, which meant we could build a solid, grown up relationship.

My wonderful husband. He is gorgeous, talented, funny and kind. He supports me with my every hare brained scheme and crack pot  idea. He believes in me. And it’s reciprocated. Our life is based around making each other, and our children, happy. We have never, in seven years, had a cross word. He shares my positive attitude to the world, which has led to our friends gently mocking us for our ‘it’ll be fiiiiiiiine’ catchphrase.

But that’s the thing. It will be fine. We have decided to be happy. Which isn’t to say nothing bad ever happens, of course it does. But we can always weather it, I have been through enough shit (usually of my own making, to be fair) to know that I can take anything on.

We have so far sailed through income crises, debt the size of a small country, house moves, job changes, illness, bereavements, the whole nine yards. By sailed, I mean that the water was often choppy, but never what you would call stormy, because we’ve always been able to keep our eyes on the horizon and keep our course set.

I know I probably sound unbearable, I’m sorry. It’s really difficult to describe what I mean without sounding smug. I’m very far from smug, I promise. I do know and appreciate that luck plays a big part in happiness, but really and truly I think that you can make your own luck. Expecting good things, believing you deserve them, making real steps towards getting them and being thankful for the things you already have makes a HUGE difference to life.

My life now is so far removed from my life ten or fifteen years ago that it sometimes feels like it happened to someone else. But those experiences are what enabled me to have this life. I chose happiness and worked for it. I know, because I’ve done it more than once, that making huge, life altering changes is possible, if a little scary. You just have to believe that the life you want to have is within your reach and then grab it with both hands. Don’t compare your life to other people’s and grumble that they have more, because you will just end up with less. Law of Attraction, you see. Instead, tell the universe that you want more, believe that you deserve more, and then go and get more. Live well, have control of your own life, do right by others as well as yourself, make good choices and I promise you will reap the rewards. Don’t sit back and expect life to just happen for you. Because it will just amble by.

Anyway, that is my Saturday morning rambling life advice done with. I don’t have all the answers but I think I’ve mostly got my own shit together, and you may find it interesting or you may just want to punch me in my smug mouth please don’t.

Now I’m off to enjoy the weekend. I hope yours is amazing. Be excellent to each other, dudes.

 

 

😀 xxx

 

 

 

 

Happy Mothers Day!

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Oh I have had the most gorgeous morning. It’s been a wonderful weekend, actually.

I woke up to the sounds of clattering crockery from the kitchen, and came downstairs with trepidation. It was my Molly Pie, emptying the dishwasher. She’d also tidied the front room, plumped cushions and cleared all the assorted junk off my desk, and she then made me a coffee and gave me the pile of handmade gifts from all three Chums.

 

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Harry then made me a breakfast fit for a Queen (bacon with chilli, the boy knows me well) and cleared up behind himself. I am so proud of my babies, they really have made an effort for me and showered me with love and affection. And so far, there’s been no bickering and they’ve done everything I’ve asked with no drama. It’s been amazing.

Rob is away this weekend on his once a year jolly with his university mates. Although I’ve missed him, it’s been a really good time with the children. I’ve been stuck in a cycle of work/sleep/stress lately. So it was really nice to have the chums to myself, and it’s forced me (in a good way) to engage with them and spend time with them instead of delegating it to Rob.

On Friday we ordered a takeaway and watched Catching Fire. We had a blast, and a really nice grown up chat about the film as well, which warmed my heart. Molly slept in my bed with me ‘to keep me company’.

On Saturday we had a tidy up and a snuggle, and then went to Mum and Dads for the afternoon. Molly and I went to Tescos to get some bits for dinner and had a really nice time together, she is an angel when she’s not competing for my attention.

When we got back to Mum’s, two of my little nieces had arrived, so all the children played and sang the afternoon away.

Then we cooked an epic Chinese feast for everyone. I forgot that Rob eats more food than the rest of us put together, so in his absence we have enough leftovers to keep us going for a week. Oops.

We threw all the kids in the bath together, well except Harry who is a bit old for that now 😦 And then it was into pjs and home for an early night. Well, for the kids. I stayed up until 11, which means it was really midnight once I’d done all the clocks. I can’t remember the last time I stayed up until midnight without it being a party. Rock and roll.

And then on to today. The sun is shining, I have amazing children, my gorgeous husband will be home soon and the stress of the last few weeks (keeping the house ready for viewings, panicking over paperwork and worrying about selling the house in time to secure the new one) seems a distant memory. The move is all on track and we are exchanging contracts in two weeks. I am able to feel calm (well, calmer) and almost back to my it’ll-be-fiiine self.

Wishing you all a lovely Sunny Sunday, whatever your plans xx

 

Today has been a really good day.

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So on New Year’s Day we decided we were going to move home. After a wonderful but cramped Christmas we finally decided that our house was too small to consider eking out another year of the boys sharing and no separate downstairs space for the nearly-teens.

So we started down this path. I’m not kidding when I say it’s been more stress than I ever imagined and I haven’t coped particularly admirably with it. When we bought this house it was an easy peasy transaction, we were on the market for less than a week and we sold Rob’s flat to the people whose house we bought. There were no real viewings, the couple who bought ours gave it a cursory once over for effect but I think by that point they were so desperate to sell (they’d been trying to downsize for the best part of two years) that when we said we’d do a swap they nearly chewed our arms off.

We LOVE this house. We’ve been here for five years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere other than my childhood home, and we have poured heart and soul into it. We initially bought it mainly due to the proximity to my parents (it is about 100 yards away) but it has been a labour of love since then and a hard one at that. We have completely redecorated throughout the house, made it very much ours, replaced the kitchen, but really in most cases we have been literally papering over the cracks and the bodges of old. It is a proper homey home, strung together with love and memories, but I have been yearning (as I am wont) for a blank slate that I can start from scratch. Those that know me will know I love new beginnings and fresh starts.

The first house we thought we would buy next, back in January, was a very similar house to this. Someone else’s project, an extended semi built around another family’s needs. The location was perfect for us, being just around the corner, and with my usual bullish aplomb we would have snapped it up. With the benefit of 20:20 hindsight I am very glad that they weren’t ready to sell (again, we were going to swap but it would have been after months of the vendors sorting out their divorce…) as the universe had a better plan for us. Ultimately we would have been moving into twice the house with double the problems so I’m very glad the brakes were applied which gave us a chance to regroup and rethink.

On a whim I dragged Rob and the kids to snoop around a show home in a local village. It was just out of budget (and completely mind blowingly gorgeous) but it made us focus on a whole different direction. By looking out of town, and by looking at new builds with all the associated incentives and extras, we would be moving, quite literally, into a whole different ball park.

So we did some sums and were chuffed to the rafters to learn that our actual dream home (and I don’t say that lightly) was within our reach. Our compromise,and there is always one, was the area. We’ve loved our time here, being within walking distance of my family and my best friends. BUT. By moving just three miles out we can achieve the mega house utopia and still be within striking distance of our nearest and dearest. You can probably gather that I do have massive guilt about the move from our little ‘sacred triangle’, painfully so. But we are a five minute car journey from them all, and The Boy in particular has already planned out his bus route and budgeted for a spare bike to keep at Nanny’s to ride round to his chums’. So it’s all good.

But Oh My God the process has been gruelling. Having to do actual viewings here (we’ve had about thirty) has been horrendous. Not so bad when we have notice and I can shove everything in the shed but properly nausea inducing when the estate agents call you at work to say they are on their way round and you realise there’s a nappy on the floor and knickers in the bathroom. Ironically, one of those last minute viewings led to a cash offer of nearly asking price so there’s a lot to be said for slacking on the housework…

Added to that has been the high speed chase involved in mortgage shenanigans. Hell’s bells. We went with a recommended mortgage advisor initially, because we’d been told that my past crappy credit excluded us from the best deals for a big mortgage, and that we’d need help. He was seemingly a hero (well, we paid him enough), and to be fair got us a low cost deal from a high street bank for the first house. However, when we went with the New Build we had to use their own bod (it’s in the contract for the freebies so whatevs), and I thought we’d stepped on to another rollercoaster of can-we-can’t-we, because with past defaults and three dependants it looked hairy. But we worried for nothing, in the end. Apparently we are supersonic and they will give us the moon on a stick, a sound system that goes up to 11 and a Delorean that gets to 88mph. Scary stuff, really, but nice to know we aren’t mortgaging to the hilt. It’s been a white knuckle ride and I have been at Stress Con 1 and maybe not very nice to be around, but it’s the home strait now so you can all relax. I promise.

So that’s it really, that’s how we got from here to over there. It’s been a weird experience where mostly I’ve had that ‘this is happening to someone else’-ness going on but it is a thing now, we are reserving our new house tomorrow (I imagine this process involves them trying to flog us wardrobes and curtains?) and then apparently we are moving in in a month. I love change, as you well know, and this scratches my newness itch in a completely, head tingly, gorgeous way.

Party at mine, soon, innit.