Friday, 12 August 2016

The Dog Days are Coming

I am now 30 years old.
This is an age I always looked forward to, much like Jenna from 13 going on 30, I saw my thirties as a time for ME, 'thirty, flirty and thriving.'
My twenties can definitely be labelled the "family years". My entire twenties were taken up with getting married, buying a house, two pregnancies, birthing four children, and breastfeeding for a long, long, long time. This equated that for 42 months (or 3.5 years) in which my body was not my own. It stretched to grow people, it deflated to birth them and it leaked to feed them too (sounds glamorous huh).
I always viewed my twenties steeped in creating a family and building a home, and while I wouldn't change a second, I also saw my thirties then spent achieving other, possibly more selfish goals. Things for ME, things I want to do, or always wanted to do now that I'm an 'adult'. Yes for me turning 30 finally puts me in the realm of adulting.

After three and a half years my body has been lived in and used to sustain others.
And now it's mine again.

 I want to make something of it. I'm exercising more (and actually enjoying it) and chuffing down bags of crisps and plates of cake (the hazard of small children) far less than before. I am at a point where I want to be healthy, physically fit and able to accomplish runs, swims, climbs and sports. I always saw my body as a machine, a machine that should be able, if called upon, to run, walk, swim and climb my way through any situation. Rather than turning into a gelatinous sofa-blob monster.
This isn't to say I want to be thin (though a little off here or there might be nice) I just want to be healthy. I don't want to run a marathon - I just want to run through the park without collapsing after.
I want to work hard to grow our business into a thriving, multi-outlet venture.

So, I did something new.
I say I because I may have unwittingly strong-armed, (some might say bulldozed) the Hubster into it.

For the longest time I have wanted a dog. A canine friend to go on adventures with, exercise, have fun with. I quite like being on my own but when I'm out in the world, I prefer company, someone to share the scenery and to explore with. And oh, how I wanted a Dog.
Ever since I was a kid. I used to pretend to walk 'Sandy' my imaginary labrador to school each day, he would meet me to walk home each night, and as a grown up - that feeling never lessened (though I did stop walking an invisible dog down the street - its the stares that did it).
I heard the warnings that my life will never be my own again, and how I'll have to factor a dog into everything - but since having triplets wasn't exactly conventional - I have to factor them into everything anyway and my life is not my own anyway - why not factor a dog in too.

So - officially being an adult now and everything......I got one.

The Hubster - (and boy did I pick a good hubby), got how I felt. We had waited years for the time to be right to get a dog and now, it just fit. He figured that people already think we are crazy anyway, so we casually enquired about a rescue puppy - who happened to be the breed we had both wanted (smart, clever, agility potential, good with the kids) - expecting this will be a long, road of disappointment before we finally do get a dog - only to my utter shock, they rang us back later that day to say she was ours.

Our nine week old puppy Caliope "cali" joined our family on the 5th of August 2016.

I may have had a slight meltdown the first few days after she arrived with us (a story for another day). My dream had finally and overwhelmingly come true. Only now, despite hours of reading and watching dog training information. I wasn't sure how to handle it happening for real, and ended up freaking out I might just be making a huge mistake (since plenty of people felt like telling me I was).

Many thanks to the terrific Hubster for taking the lead (I may re-title this post, 'oh hubster, how great thou art' ), giving me space to regroup and recover my sensibilities. Thanks also to the really good people in my life for reminding me that I am raising triplets, I have totally got this.

My thirties shall henceforth be known as the Dog Days.
Long may they last.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

As Mighty As The Ants

The news is portraying a very sad and dark world this week. So many attacks, injuries and deaths. It feels almost overwhelming.

I left my house this morning and almost directly outside, a man and woman were having a fight in the street, her imploring him to calm down and him adamant he is going to go kick someone he was out with last night's, head in.
On the bus we have to redirect as the main road into town is closed. There are ribbons of police tape cordoning off the street, a riot van, police car and another car with its boot open. I don't know what has happened there, but you can guarantee it's not good news, it feels like the world is going mad.

I sit on the bus and think how right George Lucas was; fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to the darkside.
I'm scared.
I'm scared and I'm angry, not angry, I'm furious at how out of control things seem to be, how it feels like we are sat in a trolley, hurtling down a hill with no way of stopping before it crashes at full speed into a brick wall.
I'm angry that the chaos feels out of my hands, how it feels like parts of my life are spinning off their axis and I am powerless to stop them.

And then I remembered the ants....

Yesterday I was weeding our front garden while the kids were eating ice creams on the front steps. Next to the steps was a large mound of soil with plants growing on it. I pulled up the plants and a very large wad of soil came with me, along with a decent swarm of red ants.
I plopped the earth back on top and told the children it was time to go inside. Then I fetched a shovel, boiled the kettle, and went out to wage war.
I dug up the entire mound of earth, pouring boiling water on the ants and their desperate attempts to rescue the eggs. I dug and dug until there was no longer a live ant in sight, and no mound of mud on my concrete path, just a tiny hole in the concrete where I can only assume the rest of the red ant nest thrives on below my house.

(I am actually itching all over as I just think about that)

When I was a kid, from the first time I ever drowned a mound of ants - I felt guilty, such senseless destruction, and why, because I didn't like them being in my way?
With red ants it was different, taught at school they would bite me I always felt vindicated in their destruction, I would tell myself "well they had it coming, they are evil".

Yesterday I was afraid of the ants biting my children.
The very idea that whenever we walk down the path to leave the house, or when Quinn shuffles her bum down the earth mound to reach the ground or whenever we sit on the step they could attack them, made me afraid.
I decided to remove them, and I became angry. How dare they build a nest on my path where we walk everyday, this is my house, what do they think they are doing! This was a personal attack on my and my children, and I began to hate them, with their swarming masses, their bites just waiting to hurt us, their disgusting egg sacks. I felt victorious in every ant I killed, every egg broiled alive, every shovel of mud removed.
Last night a hedgehog was out snuffling around their corpses, eating a few survivors, bringing it's own destruction to their lives, I felt further vindicated in my act of destruction and I was glad, glad they were gone.

This morning, as I was leaving the house I saw something that really made me pause.
I killed hundreds of ants yesterday, possibly thousands, and now, maybe fifty, were carrying dirt and rebuilding the home I had destroyed. A couple were even bringing back the eggs that had swept away down the path in the rivers of boiling water, trying to save them, trying to rebuild.
I had wrecked such immense havoc on them, and there they were, just keeping going.

I'm not sure I have the heart to kill more of them. Who am I to argue with that utter determination. And while they are hardly some higher functioning intelligence or consciousness, they sure have some guts.
 Plucky bastards.
I'm going to have to relocate the mound, probably to the other end of the garden, away from the path - and fill the tiny concrete hole, because the mound is in the way, but that utter destruction  I wrought? It was mostly unnecessary.
These survivors, really don't deserve my rage, hatred, anger or fear. I just need to encourage them to come away from the path, it's not going to actually negatively affect my life to have them living across the yard, or round the corner from me.
I feel guilty.

There is so much going on in the world right now, that makes me want to bury my head and give up on humanity. The ants faced a massive cull to their numbers, their home, and they still rebuild.
There is so much anger in the world right now, that it can feel justified to be angry too, to be livid even at everyone, and everything, and all those opinions that don't match your own, and all the stupid people doing, saying and being things you just don't agree with. But that's not okay either.

No darkness is so all encompassing that you cannot shine a light through it.
So I have a challenge for you, I don't care if you are reading this the day I write it, when the world seems to have gone mad and lost it's way, when the angry voices are louder and seem to be the majority, or if actually its years later and you stumble upon this by accident.
But please, today do one selfless and kind thing.Hold a door open for a stranger, send a friend a text of love and support. It doesn't need to be a big act, just a small one, the only way to turn this tide of darkness, is to shine a light.
Be as mighty as the ants who carry such a small mound of dirt to help make something big together, do just one small act of good, and together these small acts can add up to something incredible.
There is so much dark, and sad and angry in the world right now, the world needs you to do something good today.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Shrimp Girl and the Emergency Situation

Today I am feeling EPIC.
I took the gang into our local town center so they could each buy a football (of their chosen colour) from the poundstore. To kill time before our bus journey home I was letting them play on the large assortment of those stationary "penny" rides which can be found in the shopping mall while the Hubster has gone to the post office.
Ayla is pretending to ride a carousel horse (because I won't put any pennies in it), Gaius is serving me ice cream through the bus window, Zarek is scoping out the new Thomas engine and Quinn is pretending to drive a digger.... when disaster.
The Mall fire alarm goes off.

For any mother of three or more kids, I'm sure you can understand that this is a living nightmare.
I'm quite content to ignore the impending blaze (sure it's a false alarm) rather than attempt to extract four small children off their respective rides - but no, a flood of other shoppers and general shop staff are sweeping towards the exit, and it looks like we have no choice.

We are in emergency mode.

I call Ayla to tell her to come to where the boys were playing, but she can't hear me over the noise of the fire alarm.
I go to her and usher her over to the "bus" where the boys are. Both boys are hiding in the bus, the picture of fright, confused and alarmed by the continuously loud noise.
I tell them to stay put while I go to round up Quinn. I grab Quinn from the other side of the rides and shepherd her towards the others, who, as it turns out have ignored my suggestion that they should stay put and are following me across the mall.

I realize for a moment, that while I'm sure this is a false alarm, we can use it as a trial  (who knows if we will ever be in this situation for real) and they can learn what to do in an emergency. Particularly as we know that children under the age of 4 are more likely to hide from a fire, than try to escape it.
I bend down, anxious not to lose my kids in the stream of exiting shoppers and tell them "this is an alarm, it means there is an emergency, you need to hold hands NOW"
Quinn is, of course, trying to escape to climb back onto the digger I am dragging Quinn back off the digger.
Ayla and Zarek link hands, Quinn is shepherded back to the others and forced to hold Gaius' hand.

Happy that I now have a clear vision of my four, I tell them to link hands together (into a line) and walk calmly through the exit (with me following behind).
They walked brilliantly, calmly, and holding hands.

Outside, far enough away from the building I tell them they can stop now and I sit down on the ground. They are all afraid and bewildered. I explain that the alarm means there is a fire. It might be a little one, or it might be a big one, but that the alarm means we need to get out of the building to somewhere safe.
We discuss whether Fireman Sam might arrive, I give them all high-fives for staying calm and doing good listening in a scary situation and answer their general questions and curiosities, they are all quite concerned that daddy is still inside. (he's not, he's in another part of the town centre)
Eventually the security guards get the all clear on their walkie-talkies and we can go back inside.

I feel awesome for having kept cool under pressure. While the building was hardly burning down around us, it had the potential to be a very stressful situation, with four kids running off in four directions.
I consider now whether I looked panicked on the outside, all I could think is dear God, I'm going to lose someone in the rush. But I kept calm, authoritative, and they did a brilliant job listening and following instructions.
I'm proud of all five of us.

Shrimp Girl just being awesome

(What? You haven't heard of Shrimp Girl?!)

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Peanut Butter Jelly Biscuits

There is nothing better on a wet and windy day, than rustling up hot treats from the kitchen.
One of my favourite recipes for cooking with the kids, are these moreish peanut butter and jelly biscuits (courtesy of Jack).
The best part of baking when I was a kid, was the weighing and measuring. The quantities for this recipe are mostly measured by counting out spoonfuls into the bowl, which makes it a wonderful toddler-friendly activity.


50g butter
Greaseproof paper
2 tblspoon caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
8 tablespoons of plain flour*
1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda*
(*or swap for 8 tablespoons of self raising flour)
4 tablespoons of jam

Makes approx 10 small cookies - so I tend to double all quantities and make two lots

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4

Cream the 50g butter and 2 tablespoons of caster sugar together in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until soft (or cheat like I do and whisk it).

Add the egg yolk

Add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
Mix until the peanut butter is evenly distributed - if you got it out of the fridge giving it a 10 second blast in the microwave helps melt it.
Spoon in the 8 tablespoons of flour and one teaspoon of bicarb* and then stir to make a soft dough.

With lightly floured hands, break off a walnut sized piece of dough. Place it on the greaseproof paper and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand. Repeat with the rest of the mix. Using your thumb make a deep well in the centre of each flattened ball of dough (they will spread slightly as they cook)

Melt the jam slightly in the microwave on low for 30 seconds and then spoon a little into the centre of each cookie.

Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.

Expect tears when your toddler realizes they need to be 'patient' while they cook.

Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack - allow the jam to cool before eating!!!

I find the best cookies have been the ones I squashed very flat before digging my thumb into them. The thicker stacked kind are nice, if a little crumbly.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Im just being honest

So I’ve been feeling quite the terrible mother recently. On the back of sending all the kids to nursery in a morning and finally having some actual alone time after four tiring years, I’ve been rediscovering the old “me”. This has come at quite a price. I’m struggling to balance the old ‘me’ with the ‘mama’ and ‘worker’ I usually am.
On one hand I feel the need to clean, tidy and declutter the house, plan fun activities with my kids, take them on outings and play with them. On another hand, I have a massive workload to get through, jobs that won’t get done by anyone else, paperwork and deadlines to get through and a whole social media boat to steer. Then on the third hand, I want to swim, run, be romantic, hang out with my friends, read, watch movies, bake, eat and do all of this in near to utter silence without a small audience to negotiate round.
Much like when my triplets were small, I’m reminded I don’t have three hands (as much as I’ve always needed them) and that all this stuff just can’t be carried with two hands, something has to give. So I’m behaving more like an unmotivated, selfish, tired, fed up person; than the vibrant energetic, engaged individual I was hoping to emulate.
I don’t want to give up the old ‘me’ but I also don’t want to sacrifice relationships, work and my children’s happiness in order to achieve it.

I have spent so long taking care of everything; feeding, working, clothing, tidying, carrying and just endlessly grinding through each day that I’m not entirely sure I’m not actually having some kind of mini breakdown. When faced with the image of all this work to still be accomplished, I just want to sit back and say “no” someone else can do everything, I am going to sit here, with headphones on and read my book. But then inevitably the guilt, the thick hot roiling mass of it hits me and I get out of bed and start doing all the work again.
I think I’m tired, but it doesn’t feel okay to be tired, it feels like now they are at nursery I should be well rested and revived. In reality I think it might just have suddenly hit me, in that moment when I could finally stop moving for just one morning, and the whole exhaustion of the past few years piled on top of me its overwhelming mass colliding with my previous propulsion. And I’m not sure quite how to move on.

I’m desperately trying to find the balance between getting all the housework done, doing a few things a day for myself, going to work, doing my job plus raising and nurturing my kids.  And no matter how well I think I can schedule it in, there is never enough time to achieve it all, yet all of it feels so vital.
The times when I can stop to smell the roses, I am racked by guilt that I’m not doing something more productive (you have seen how much there is to do right??!) that I can’t enjoy the peace, or the book or the moment. Instead, much as when I was breastfeeding three babies, is that nagging voice in the back of my head saying “hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry this up, you’ve still got so much to do”.
I feel as if a third person has turned up into my previously balanced life, and is refusing to go away, despite how busy I am and keeps trying to elbow her way into my life.  

In an evening I’m too tired to do much beyond a quick tidy, bathing (if unavoidable) and then slumping on the sofa watching tv, reading or doing work until such times as it’s a decent hour to go to sleep (that means I won’t wake up at 5am and then feel even more tired tomorrow). In a perfect world I could fit the “me” stuff in then, but by bedtime, the cup runneth dry.

I read this back and I realise I am exhausted, I’m not unhappy or disappointed with my life, but I am so, so very tired.  My blood test results continually show something is wrong there (Vit D and calcium at all-time lows) which is affecting my energy levels so hopefully once that is fixed I can feel less exhausted and get some of my usual drive back. While this is a work in progress I am trying to spend more time doing things solo (aka without kids); swimming, dinner out, movies to get lost in all to just pick me up a bit and keep me moving forward, but much like a drug the more I do, the more I feel I need to keep doing in order to keep me satisfied, and there is not enough time for everything.

It feels a little like when you have finished a huge project at work and just need to take a couple of weeks to recuperate from all the late nights, missed lunches and massive amount of time and effort you have put in, only the job isn’t over (although the baby years are) and the idea of having a holiday away from your already very full life is laughable.

I supposed it doesn't exactly help, that I'm writing this as I recover from the flu, my head aching, my face full of fluid and feeling like I need to sleep for a week. 
I know there must be a balance to find, that it might just take time to find it, but at the moment even that thought makes me feel shattered. But everyone has bad days, this one's just kicking my ass.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Turning 30

So I'm reaching the end of my 29th year. I have one business, a very busy household and four super kids. Said kids are now ALL at nursery together for 3 glorious hours, four mornings a week and I'm rediscovering the 'me' underneath everything. I've been feeling like I do so very much "adulting" in keeping things functioning, responsible and on track that I have slightly forgotten what the not-mother-not-wife-not-business-person me is like. In between decluttering three years of baby gubbins from the loft, garage and crevices around the house. I'm discovering I feel like the exhasting hardwork side is starting to take over the sit back and enjoy it, fun stuff. To get the "fun" part back on track I figured I can add some excitement by creating 30 things I want to do before the end of my 30th year. This gives me a little over 15 months to enjoy life and have a few rewards for all the heavy duty adulting that needs doing each and every day.
In no particular order;
  1. Swim a mile in one session (we've worked this out as 64 lengths)
  2. Hire a Jacuzzi for the weekend and have a night of bubbles under the stars
  3. Go to Cosmo for dinner (All you can eat chocolate fountain!)
  4. Graffiti the Viaduct with chalk pens. (It's already covered in graffitti, at least ours will wash off!)
  5. Champagne on the golf course in the middle of the night
  6. Climb a tree (and climb back down without the assistance of the fire department)
  7. Pass my driving test
  9. Have a Spa day - (gym, swimming, sauna, jaccuzi and lunch)
  10. Have a silly string fight
  11. Go to Sundown Adventure Land.
  12. Get a Dog
  13. Kill the Ivy growing on the house - removing it all is impossible (it''s possibly the only thing holding the house up), but cutting the roots so it can no longer grow is possible
  14. Do 4k every single day (I'll accept an average)
  15. Do a new sport/hobby for at least three months.
  16. Bake a sweetie cake
  17. Take all four kids swimming (doesnt need to be all in one day)
  18. Swim in the sea
  19. Ride a horse (it's been 14 years since I last sat in the saddle)
  20. Rockclimb
  21. Go to the 2016 triplet mummy meet-up in Newcastle
I only have a few so far, but it's all things I really, really want to do! I am noticing my list becoming filled with things I dont think I can achieve in one entire year. But it's a start.

Friday, 4 September 2015

War and how it (doesn't) affect me.

I think it touched a nerve with all of us. My kids are a different time, a different situation that might have been my little boys.
War never changes, but we need to do more to help. I'm not saying swing the doors open and invite everyone in, but if you were fleeing from war with your tiny people scared for your lives, desperate about the future. Would you want the rest of the world to turn it's back on you and say, 'no thanks, you don't deserve our help, we're all full from helping ourselves today so sort it out yourself. It's your fault for being a resident of a country at war, your fault for being born there. Don't come here, go away. Don't let your problems touch me.
I once played Zlata in a rendition of Zlata's diary. Reading her diary and the things happening in her country and studying the history of it and having to act out her life was jarring, horrible and heartbreaking. It wasn't a story or a make believe. It was her actual LIFE. Much like Anne Frank she didnt write a book to be a good story (which is how it can seem as a child). She wrote it as an account of what she was going through day by day. They were living through war.
We were at war once, but we've never been invaded. We've never had our homes ransacked, our families murdered, gun shots fired and battles fought in our streets. We lack the true sympathy and understanding of what they are going through. We get bombarded by images on the tv of war and violence and just shrug it off, turn the channel over, that's what its like sometimes, it happens all the time everywhere else, but here. We see it on movies and it's all make believe so sometimes the real world images can pass us by unnoticed. But to actually live that war torn life. I can't empathise, I can't pretend to empathise. Not fully, not truly because I don't understand what it's like, I haven't got the faintest inkling of what it feels like to run for your life and I don't believe you can understand unless you live it. But we are all capable of compassion and the pity seen in that man's face as he carried that tiny toddler boy away from the shore is being shared by many.
The thing I do understand about it all is that if I was so frightened and desperate to protect my children and take them away from a terrible situation, as any parent in this world would feel. That I would have gotten on that boat, and those could have been my little boys.
We are judged on how we care for the smallest and weakest members of our society. We can't stop war, but we can change it's outcome and the future of the survivors.