Preparing to Jump Ship

OK, so there’s a new plan.

I had originally intended to give one months notice before leaving on 31 December 2008. However, there has been a small amount of upheaval and resulting panic in my office the past week.

One of the solicitors decided that she quite fancied leaving and did. No warning, no notice, nada. Just here today, gone tomorrow.

This means that her secretary is now left at a loose end and let’s face it, at the minute, nobody wants to look like they’re just along for the ride when the boss is looking.

So now the subject of secretarial redundancies has come up.

I’m amazed actually that it hasn’t come up sooner than this. A lot of other firms have already made redundancies and I expect there will be a lot more.

Everybody fancies the idea of working on the big high powered legal cases but at the end of the day the property department is the meat and two veg of most companies. The department that brings in a nice steady stream of money every month and if that disappears (which it has) then redundancies have to be expected.

I’ve spoken with my HR Manager and we’ve agreed that if I give my notice now instead of waiting until 1 November December*, she may be able to convince the company to put off considering any further redundancies until the New Year.

It isn’t exactly great and it doesn’t solve the problem that some people will lose their jobs, but in my opinion, I’d rather be made redundant in January than right before Christmas. Of course, maybe that’s just me.

* Error very kindly pointed out by Scifi Dad. This is the real reason I'm jumping ship people, because a girl who can't get her dates right would definitely be the first up for the sack.

The Market's in Town.....Well, Nearly

I’m getting really excited now. The Belfast Continental Market has been confirmed for 20 November to 19 December 2008.

I love me a day of full on eating.

Paella, bratwurst, salami and cabanos, garlic cream mushrooms, hog roast and wild boar, venison and ostrich burgers.

Not to mention the sweets, pastries and desserts.

Bring it on.

I always try to make at least one trip to the Market before Christmas, although I go alone and try to stick to a budget.

This year however, I think Toots is old enough to go. She enjoys mildly spicy food and I think she’ll enjoy herself. Although I might have to do a bit of explaining when she sees the hog roast. She understands pig = pork and cow = beef but I’ve certainly never cooked anything at home with its head still attached so it may take her unawares.

Still, we can actually all go to the Market this year and enjoy ourselves without having to be just as conscious of the pennies.

I will officially be coming out of work to stay at home with Toots and my last working day will be 31 December 2008. I’ve managed to cram in the rest of my paid leave before this so I’ll work until the 23 December and have just over a week off work before returning for one last nice quite last day, without any headaches or hassles.

The husband will stay at home with Toots on 31 December while I go to work. This means that because her day care fees are payable in advance I will be able to give notice to her crèche on Friday 21 November 2008 advising them that her last day in nursery will be 23 December, meaning that at the end of November I will only have to pay for three weeks care instead of four saving me £170.00.

Basically, found money.

I don’t have a credit card or loan to pay the extra money to and although I could make an extra payment to my mortgage company, I just don’t feel like it.

Don’t you judge me!

Besides, because I won’t have any day care to pay at the end of December, I’ll have my last pay cheque, plus Christmas bonus (contracted, can’t by gypped out of it), plus untaken holiday leave should leave me with around £2,500 total. I’ll use this to bolster the bank account for any emergencies that might come up, but that £170 in November is mine, all mine.

And I’m going to use it to treat my family, because it’s been one hell of a long year and they deserve it.

Just 30 days now until I get me some churros and hot chocolate…

Or stuffed crepes……..

Or maybe some Dutch waffles…….

WFMW - Toys up the Nose

Because if it looks like it's small enough to fit up you child's nose, they will probably try to fit it up their nose.

And don't think because it went in easily, it'll come out easily. Oooh no, it'll just works it's way in even deeper.

Toots decided on Monday night to find out if she could in fact fit a small rubber knitting needle topper in the shape of a sheep in her right nostril. Well it looked tiny outside of a human body, but let me tell you that kid looked freaky with one huge nostril.

It's the first time this has happened and I have to admit when they taught us what to do in baby first aid I laughed. Not at the thought that my child would ever be silly enough to stuff something up her nose, but the fact that I could keep my head on straight long enough to deal with.

Still I did, very chuffed with myself too.

Just cover the clear nostril with your thumb, cover their mouth with yours and blow hard.

Next thing you know you're getting hit in the face with a booger covered small rubber sheep.

Hopefully this will come in handy for someone, especially if you live somewhere where you have to pay for all those little visits to the doctor.

For more WFMW ideas head over to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Because secretaries are rarely given 'garden leave'

It’s always been the same for me.

Whether I move house, move away from an area, grow apart from someone or, in this case, leave work, I always find myself focusing on the negative.

And let me tell you at the minute, work gets a huge thumbs down. Everything is getting on my nerves and at times it feels like some people are purposely going out of their way to wind me up.

The worst thing about this scenario is that my supervisor has talked me into keeping schtum about the fact that I’m leaving. She doesn’t want anyone giving me a hard time about it or trying to come up with (completely unhelpful) solutions to my situation. And they would, I know they would. I would do the same thing so I can understand why she wants me to keep it to myself.

So on 1 December 2008, I’ll hand in my notice and my last day will be 31 December 2008. I had originally booked this day off as part of my leave but decided last week to work it and allow one of the other girls have the day off instead (because I’m nice like that).

But still now I’m stuck in the position of trying to keep up appearances, smile brightly at all the things and people annoying me. It isn’t their fault. Obviously, I’m just annoyed at the fact that now I’ve decided to stay at home with Toots, it’s the only thing in the world that I want to do. I can’t wait but I have to stay here…for two more months, when I’d rather be at home.

So I’m annoyed.

Everything’s annoying me.

Now all I have to do is keep calm and try not to yell “screw you I’m leaving anyway” after a bad day. Childish? Yes. Enjoyable? Absolutely.

Does anybody have a good mantra to stop me from going off on one?

T minus 10

Its ten weeks to Christmas. Why did nobody you tell me? The Christmas Plan went a bit skew whiff.

It’s looking like this will be my last Christmas as a working mum. Woohoo, bring it on. But this does mean that I’m going to have to start being really organised for Christmas. And I mean really, properly, grown up style organised. Not just sitting down at some point in September and making a handful of lists which I either never refer back to or I manage to convince myself that I’ve all the time in the world and still do nothing about the lists.

I’ve been a little better this year because I decided very early on that I would make all the presents I will be giving this year. I normally make some, but over the last few years I’ve noticed that the handmade gifts go down a whole lot better than the shop bought ones, so handmade for all.

I actually checked one of my lists a few nights ago and realised that I still have to knit, one glove, six hats, a hooded scarf, two washcloths and I need to finish a baby blanket all before Christmas (Eek). So I’ve started to knit in the car on the way to and from work. Hopefully this should fix that problem.

This still leaves the issue of baked goods for Christmas presents.

I had thought of giving gifts in a jar to some of my aunts with younger children, but changed my mind because I could well imagine Toots opening a jar containing brownie mix on Christmas morning and immediately wanting to make them even though every oven and burner in my house is filled to capacity and then crying her little heart out and ruining Christmas. Alright, that’s probably a worst case scenario, but still it could happen.

So I’ll be making all the gifts up in full since I have a couple of days off work right before Christmas.

I checked my freezer stash of things I’ve been putting aside for Christmas. Apparently, I either dreamt that I’d put away more things, or I’ve been dipping into the stash without realising it. I had 3lbs of frozen butter and slightly less than 1lb of frozen cream cheese (which actually still works quite well when you beat the living daylights out of it for frosting).

I did my monthly shop at the weekend and Asda had Dromona butter on rollback to £1 for a 1lb block. So I bought eight. Don’t worry, they’ll get used.
I also have around two dozen eggs frozen from an offer at the beginning of the month. For some reason they seem to freeze and defrost a lot better if they’re separated into whites and yolks and then frozen in twos.

But still, normally by now, I’d have already planned what I’m cooking on Christmas day and I haven’t. This means that normally I have my shopping list made and I can start to buy freezable things when I see them on offer, but I haven’t.

Normally, I’ve at least started to buy extra chocolate and peanut butter and pecans for all the cookies which I will make and freeze ahead of time so that I just have to bake when people are coming. But that isn’t done either.

So basically, if I’m completely honest, my plan just didn’t work this year. I didn’t stick to it, I thought I had more time than I actually did and I got sidetracked again and again.

What I need is some help. Do you have any great simple recipes which don’t need a 1001 ingredients, or a way to better organise yourself (bearing in mind that I haven’t been able to get my head round the home management folder yet, so I’m not that bright). What about a pattern for a one hour beanie hat, do you have that, can you point me in the right direction.

I’d appreciate it. A lot. Thanks.
Not technically a true WFMW, although the egg thing kid of qualifies as a tip. For some more ideas from properly grown up organised people head over to Rocks in my Dryer.

Dislocation, Doctors and a Helluva Runny Nose

I have had a day.

A helluva day.

And it all started out so well too.

Toot's spent the night at Nana's after her return from holiday. I had a lovely long lie in. OK, it was only until 8.00am, but I'll take what I can get.

I spent a very pleasant (free) hour on the phone with my mum chittering about my impending SAHM membership.

Then of course the not so pleasant things like cleaning and ironing and what not. All the things which have really fallen by the wayside the last week or so.

11.00am and mum's on the phone.

Toot's was playing with my brother and he was holding her hands and spinning her around. When he put her back on the floor again, she carried right on spinning and twisted her elbow and immediately the entire house exploded due to the incredibly loud screaming coming from the very small child now crying her eyes, clutching her arm in the middle of the room.

Mum put her in the car, came straight to my house and we all headed off for a day in the A&E room, our very first (and I wouldn't bet last) day in the A&E room. Of course, I had an entire bag packed full of toys and drinks and sweets and chocolate. All the really lovely stuff you feed your kids in vast quantities when thy aren't well, or you're feeling guilty about something. I figured we would probably be there for the better part of the day, what with it being a Sunday and all.

I checked her in at the reception and turned to look at mum, carrying toots. Her bum had barely grazed the seat when the triage nurse called us into her office. She cooed over her lovely hair and her pretty smile and gave her some ibuprofen for the obvious pain she was in and then straight away went to get the consultant to have a look and provide a referral. As far as I'm aware the normal course of action is triage, three hour wait, consultant, but hey I'm not complaining.

The consultant took a look, scribbled on a sheet of paper and sent us straight over to the x-ray department, where again my little queue jumper daughter was taken first.

It was awful. The single worst experience in my life. She screamed the place down. She told me it was sore. She told me she didn't like me anymore, that she wanted her nana instead. My heart literally broke in two watching this little quivering, red in the face, pile of curly hair. By this time her entire face was completely covered in tears and boogers and she was FURIOUS that the one thing I hadn't thought to bring was a tissue. Not that she would have let me near her with it anyway.

Four x-rays later and we were handed another scribbled on sheet of paper and sent back to the triage nurse who ushered us into the waiting consultant's office, again ahead of a line of people who were now starting to get a slightly murderous look in their eye.

The consultant explained that her arm wasn't in fact broken as feared and that she merely had a pulled elbow. Very common apparently. And that he'd just pop it back in again.

Quick look around, nope, no sign of anything to knock the kid out with. Considering I'd just endured hell in the x-ray department just trying to get her to move her arm away from her body, I could tell this was not going to go well.

The doctor started to explain all the ins and outs, only half of which I heard. He said that most of the time the elbow pops back in again and in ten minutes it'll be like nothing had ever happened and she'd be right as rain. But. Very occasionally the arm doesn't go back in, in which case toots would have to wear a cast for a week and return five days later for another go.

Have I mentioned I've had a run of bad luck lately.

The consultant wheeled his little stool over, I covered her eyes. My mum burst into tears. Of course, I was already crying like a recently dumped 12 year. The consultant grabbed her arm, she screamed like a banshee, he let go and said "well that should do it".

I swear I've heard plumbers say the exact same thing and they were wrong. I was dubious. To say the least.

We were sent back to the waiting room, both me and my mum in desperate need of an extreme makeover and toots strangely relaxed looking.

We sat down and she starting pointing and shouting about all the really cool vending machines in the waiting room.

Still it didn't register with us two dimwits that this meant her arm was fine. We sat on.

She was waving at people and playing with a dolly I had brought from home.

Still the penny didn't drop.

Fifteen minutes later the consultant reappears and pronounces her to perfectly fine now, we can go home.

A full ten minutes later, having watched her like a hawk, convinced her elbow was just going to fall back out again we went home.

So she's fine, in bed sleeping in fact. She hasn't mentioned it all day either.

It turns out all in told we were only a the hospital for a little under two hours.

So why did it feel like a lifetime?

And why am I still knackered?

WFMW - Vinegar

I recently paid a visit to Makro and managed to pick up 5ltr jugs of white vinegar for £2.00.

Unfortunately I went a bit over the top and bought 4 jugs of the stuff and I seem to have spent the last couple of weeks moving a jug from one end of the kitchen to the other and the husband trips over the other 3 every time he sets foot in the garage.

When I bought the stuff I was convinced there were hundreds of different things I could use vinegar for but now when I lift the jug and I'm faced with making cleaning solution and what not, my mind goes completely blank and I end up setting it back down again without actually using it.

So I'll add some of the uses I have for white vinegar here, while the brain is functioning and hopefully these ideas might be useful to someone else (and maybe they'll motivate me to make some).

And if you know anything else I can use this stuff for, please let me know in the comments. My husband's shins thank you.

1/4 cup added to a load of laundry will keep whites whiter, brighten colours and soften the load without adding any conditioner.

A little added to rinse water stops glassware from spotting.

Use it to clean smears from eye glasses.

Use it to wipe down shower walls and doors to remove soap scum.

Use it to remove old wood glue (hey, I did learn something in CDT).

Vinegar dissolves chewing gum.

Rub wooden chopping boards with baking soda and then spray with undiluted vinegar, leave for a couple of minutes and rinse with warm water to disinfect the board.

Soak a small cloth in a solution of 1/2 liquid soap, cup vinegar and 2 cups of water, wring out the cloth and keep in an airtight container to remove fingerprints and sticky marks from windows without having to do a full clean and without leaving streaks.

I use 1 tsp liquid soap, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 3 cups of water in a spray bottle for everyday cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

For more great WFMW posts head back to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Run it up the flagppole, see if it flies

First of all I just want to say a big thank you to Janmary, Steph at Problem Solvin Mom, and Annie Jones for their comments, kind words and hugs on this post.

One thing that has really surprised me since starting this blog (of sorts) is how much it actually matters and helps that someone, either close to home or on the other side of the world will take the time out of their day, and lets be honest, they're pretty busy days, to stop by to tell you "D'ya know, it'll be alright. You'll figure something out".

I had begun to think I was getting myself in a flap over nothing, obviously I'm the only woman struggling to keep her daughter in good, registered daycare instead of leaving her with just anyone, but it seems none of the other moms dropping their kids off in the morning have batted so much as an eyelid.

I don't imagine I'm the only one in financial diffs as the minute. I was starting to think that asking for an extra £50 a week was nothing, I'm just getting my knickers in a twist. But now people agree with me (not just my mommy, that's her job), it is a large increase and I do have something to worry about and a lot of things to think about.

Perhaps all those other moms are secretly having a fit and I just need to practice my "brace face".

I've wracked my brains all weekend and I've eaten a hell of a lot of chocolate.

Incidentally, can anyone explain to my why when I eat a 57g bar of Galaxy I gain 3lbs. Mystery?

Anyway, brains well and truly wracked and I think I've come up with a solution.

When I spoke to my Office Manager on Friday about this (completely in confidence, she's absolutely lovely, trust I've worked for some completely hateful people over the years), she asked if there was any possibility of me working from home.

Just like that, almost like "it's completely up to you, whatever suits sweetie".

Well, after I picked my jaw up off the floor, I quickly said that I didn't think I could. A lot of my work requires me to be in the office at my desk. Most of it is prep work for court dates, preparing court documents, that kind of thing. Well it turns out I think I may have answered a little too quickly.

You see a lot of that stuff is quite, well, it's boring, so I imagined that I was spending more time on it than I actually was, in truth these things probably amount to around a third of my day. I spent the weekend making lists of absolutely everything I do and *eureka and happy days* at least half of it on an average week I could quite easily do at home.

I work in a very up to date office. All dictations and instructions are digital and most correspondence and documentation leaves the office in email format, so I can actually work online anywhere as though I'm sitting at my own desk.

So now the plan is to work at home two days a week, a Monday and a Wednesday, that way my fee earner doesn't have to do without my presence for more than a day. I'll stay at home on Monday because the woman who works part time is in on a Monday so there'll be a fuller quota of people in the building and a Wednesday because most of the stuff I do that I need to be in the office for is in preparation for the following week so it makes more sense to be there for a block of two days at the end of the week.

This means that I can reduce Toot's hours in daycare to three full days, thereby reducing the cost from £170.00 per week to £105.00

Now all I have to do is sell it to the boss. Hah, small pastry items, easy peasy.

Or does this just sound like a brilliant idea in my own head, because I' know......still freaking out.

Let me know, please, is it actually possible to work at home with small children around?

I've tried the timer trick when I'm busy around the house, of setting a timer for 20 minutes and once the buzzer goes, she gets 20 minutes to talk non-stop and so on and so forth, she kind of gets the idea, but it's a definite learning curve.

Husband for sale, one good owner, full service history included

Do you remember the good old days, like Wednesday?

Wednesday was a lovely day.

Wednesday, I knew where I was going and what I was doing. I had a routine, sure it wasn't a great routine, but it worked for me.

Get up, get dressed, dress kid, drop her at nursery, go to work, come home from work, pick her up from nursery, go home, cook, clean, chill, sleep, wash rinse and repeat.

However, yesterday was a little different, it went, the usual, the usual, the usual, come home from work, pick up the child from nursery, get mugged, go home, freak out........etc.

Now if you ever think about getting mugged, you imagine some shifty looking bloke, probably lurking in dark corners just waiting for you.

It shouldn't come in the form of a relatively innocuous looking sheet of paper containing the emblem of your daughter's nursery and the words........."continually increasing overheads"............."necessary price increase"............."from £120.00 per week to £170.00 per week"........WTF?

Can you wait whilst I pluck £50 notes from thin air, this might take a while, pull up a chair.

Financially we're stretched to our limit as it is and I just can't think of any possible way to afford anywhere between £200 and £250 extra a month. I've been over a thousand different possibilities in my head between last night and this morning and I keep coming back to a single realisation.

I'll have to come out of work.

But can I afford to come out of work?

Can I actually manage to do a good job of looking after my daughter full time, or will I make a complete pigs ear of it?

I just feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's blatantly obvious I can't afford the new fees, but at the same time can we actually get by without the extra £300 a month I'm left with after the current fees are paid?

I could try to get a part time job in the evening or at night, but they're so few and far between at the minute and I see little enough of the kid as it is. Do I really want her thinking of mommy as the voice that tells her goodnight over the phone?

I could sell or rent the hubby. He's very good for garden work.

It would be so easy to just stick my head in the sand and hope everything will just work itself out. Maybe the bank manager won't mind my account dropping into the red by £250 every month.

I wish it was Wednesday again.

WFMW - Dustpan and Brush

This week's Works for Me Wednesday is a themed edition on Kitchen Management Tips (excuse me while I actually laugh out loud).

Now I don't have too many kitchen management tips. Usually chaos reigns supreme in my kitchen and somehow things just manage to happen, but one thing that definitely does work for me is a small dustpan and brush.

When we first bought the house, the kitchen consisted of a sink (without a base unit underneath) and the taps had been tied to a hook which had been hammered into the wall to stop the entire sink from falling forward onto the floor (lovely, no?) and a monster of an old fashioned wall unit which had been attached to the wall with hilty nails and both myself and Himself could happily swing from it without any fear of it coming off the wall (great fun to be had).

So when the time came to choose and install our new kitchen I went for the extra wide worktop as this allowed me to keep all my junk equipment out on the counter and still have the full width of a regular counter.

Great idea in theory, but I'm a really messy cook and manage to get crumbs and flour and...well, everything all over the counter.

Sweeping all the debris off the counter with a cloth into the palm of my waiting hand (in true mommy fashion) never worked. I wound up with crumbs and flour all over my clothes from leaning across the counter and most of the stuff I wiped off wound up on the floor, so then I had to brush the floor as well.

So enter the ickle dustpan and brush, which hangs there at the end of the counter, minding it's own business until it's called into action. I use it to sweep down my counter tops and also to sweep my larder shelves before giving them a quick once over with a sponge every now and then and it works great.

For more great kitchen management tips head back to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

And to hell with work, I'll be spending the rest of the day there myself to see if I can't put an end to the madness that is my house kitchen.