Monthly Archives: August 2017

Working Practice

As you know, I work from home the majority of the time. I’ve got used to my work space being my work space and doing the hours that suit me and getting other stuff done around working. I am conscientious enough to do the hours I need to do whilst managing to do the washing, school runs, etc.

K has been told by his line manager to work from home more often as they don’t want to pay his mileage. Great news for him, as his daily commute to whichever office he has to go to is well over 100 miles each way. Not fun, especially when the M25 is involved. Not such great news for me.

While I have the benefit of working out in the office away from the main house (I’ve made it sound very grand, it’s not: it’s a room off the back of the garage but you can only access it from across the garden. So, far enough away to allow the feeling of being in a work space and away from distractions in the house, and the children know that when I am out there I am working and they should only really disturb me if it’s important. Like: Can they have something to eat? Can they go out with their friends? Can’t I smell that the house is burning down?) K has to work in the dining room. This is fine, but when I go in to make a cup of tea for myself or check on the washing or pop to the loo or answer a knock at the door (the only reasons I go back into the house) he is there. I feel obliged to make him a cup of coffee. He NEVER offers to make me one. I feel resentful that he is sitting there and must have heard that the washing machine has clicked off. In fact, sometimes, I will come in and he has opened the door and nothing else – the washing is still in there waiting to be taken out and hung up.

K has two modes of working. Full on, nothing stops him, don’t try and talk to him, busy busy busy, no time for lunch, et, etc. OR, chatty, wanting to talk about stuff to do with the extension, shall we pop to the kitchen place down the road, what are you having for your lunch (it’s 10am, I have no idea!), have you emailed so-and-so about such-and-such, I’m just going to take the shed apart and build a new one (OK that’s never happened but he has serviced his bike and other random things).

It’s REALLY annoying, mainly because his work mode isn’t the same all day. Not even the same in the space of one hour. Sometimes he can start off the day a bit “can’t be bothered” and if I am not busy I start to get thoughts that maybe he will offer to collect the kids from school or take me out for lunch, and then BAM he’s into Full On Crisis Mode and I have to shuffle back to my desk and forget it all.

Take today, for example. WARNING: ranting ahead. He came back mid-afternoon (while I was out picking up A and friend) as he was out on site and didn’t want to trek back to the office afterwards. He was able to drop off an iPad that he’s sold on a Facebook selling network on the way home. He was able to make himself a coffee and a sandwich. He wasn’t able to wipe down the worktop or open the windows to let some fresh air in (I’m a bit of an open- windows-at-all-possible-times freak) or to take the washing in from off the line (probably just as well as I have a system – don’t ask). He barely had the time to say hello or to ask about my day. In fact he didn’t. I gave up trying to talk to him. A while later he came out to my office to show me some brochures he’s been sent with doors and flooring in. I gave him short shrift – I had work to catch up on after picking A up. I went into the house again later with the washing (all nicely in layers in the basket so that each person’s washing is together to save time putting it away – which each person has to do themselves, I hasten to add. I’m not a maid. Glad you asked?) and he was MAKING HIMSELF A CUP OF COFFEE.  He showed me a nice kitchen in one of the brochures. I took the washing upstairs. I came down and he was SITTING AT THE TABLE DRINKING HIS COFFEE. “Nice cup of coffee you’ve got there”, I muttered, very sarcastically (I’m not proud of my behaviour). “Oh, would you like a cup of tea?” he answered, all surprise and shock. “That would be lovely, if you have time”. (Again, not proud). “I’ll bring it out to you”.

I am still sitting here 40 minutes later. No tea. He appears. “Did you still want that tea? Sorry a complaint came in and I had to deal with it”. See? Full On Crisis Mode, means NO TEA CAN BE MADE. THERE IS NO TIME.

What I am worried about most is that, if and when the extension gets built, “we” have plans to refurbish the office a bit and make it a proper home office that we can all use. I’ll say it again – that we can all use. All of us, in one room, working together. Me and him during the day and me and him and *gulps * the kids when they get home. All of us!

I will have to endure the very loud telephone voice. The huffing. The muttering about “w***ers” and “f***ing idiots”. I will have to endure the very annoying thumping of the mouse pad – he won’t use a traditional mouse as he’s not old-school. (Maybe, I should be relieved as the clicking could possibly be worse than the thumping.) I will most certainly have to be in tune with which mode he is in and adapt my thinking accordingly. I’m not sure I am up to the challenge.

Maybe they will miss him at the office. Or maybe that’s why he was told to work from home?

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pure Joy

When A went to her induction day at secondary school last July she met another girl, O, who was going to be in her new form. She hit it off with her at the time and although she didn’t get to see her over last year’s summer holidays she was in touch with her by text and the usual social media ways that (pre)teens use to keep in touch these days and they became firm friends when they started school in September. The friendship is brilliant. O is bubbly, fun, kind, lovely. A has made lots of other friends in the last year, she’s been invited to tea after school, parties, days out. One of the best things about her friendship with O is that they are not jealous girls. They have no qualms about each other having other friends. O doesn’t bat an eyelid if A is busy doing something with someone else and vice versa. Almost like the way that boys conduct their friendships, but with prettier hair and nicer clothes and a bit more squealing.

This summer they have seen a lot of each other, but they haven’t been in each others pockets the whole time. A has seen other friends and she has had days when she hasn’t wanted to do anything other than slob around in PJ’s and re-arrange her room for the hundredth time; bake cakes; we’ve been on holiday; we’ve had family time. She has finally seemed to find her place. She has slotted in and she is happy. She refers to other girls as “populars” but has no designs to be one; she is happy with her place in her world.

O has just arrived at our house to spend the day here. I beat A to the door and O announced “I’m here” as A came squealing down the stairs “is it O?!!!” They hugged and squealed a bit more. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the squealing, but they were so happy to see each other (it must be, at most, 36 hours since they were last in each others company) it made me smile and was a proper moment of pure joy.

I’m trying to throw off my old habit of expecting the worst. I’m not going to say “touch wood it will continue”. I’m not going to say any of my usual ‘fear the worst and if it doesn’t happen then that’s good’ mantras. I am going to enjoy seeing her happy with her friends and try and ensure that she can go to things she gets invited to – she has a good few years of making up to do on this front and if it means I have to taxi her all over the place then it’s a small price to pay to see her happy.

I know from my own experience that friendships change: people make new friends, fall out, move groups, move away, and she may well not be friends with O in six months, a year, two years time. But for now she is having a great time with a great friend and I love it.

 

 

 

Ex-tension

The plans have been submitted to the planning department. The plans have been sent out to building companies by The Architect. And now we wait – for planning approval and quotes  – and it’s a bit nerve-wracking. I’m not used to getting calls on my phone, apart from ones from school or the dentists, so it’s a bit odd to be answering calls from builders (whose names I never catch and have to hope they bring a business card with them) and arranging meetings.

I made myself a promise: that I wouldn’t get stressed out by the whole thing, because what good will it do? It won’t change anything.

If the council decide not to grant permission we will just have to think about how we can change things to make it more approvable (no, that word’s probably not in the dictionary, sorry), which is why we have hired The Architect, so it doesn’t mean it has to be game over at the first try.

It may well be that the first quote we’ve had is completely over our budget (if we didn’t have to pay VAT it would be fine!) and it doesn’t even include stuff like flooring (quite important) but there’s nothing to say that we won’t get 6 other quotes that are all affordable and so won’t have to worry about whether we will have to wear shoes in the new extension until we can afford some flooring in 5 years time.

I know all this is right and I keep telling K this. I think I am telling him more for my own benefit than his, so that I don’t sit in the armchair wailing, “it’s never going to happen” or, “we might as well just book a Sandals holiday to Mauritius and to hell with the mortgage repayments”. So I keep telling him the rational thoughts, the ones that are fighting to be heard over all the much louder ones that are shouting that I was stupid to think we could ever make it happen.

I am allowing myself to make little doodles of how I would like the shower room to look. I am allowing myself to think about what lamps I would like in the new “snug” (as A has already named it).

I am also allowing myself a little bit of tension. Because that’s just me.

When it starts to keep me awake at night (I refuse to admit that I was awake at 3 o’clock this morning for any reason other than a stiff neck) I will probably need to book myself into a spa for a few days (yeah, right!) or just stop answering my phone or looking at emails – until the right quote comes in at the right price and until we get the all important go-ahead from the council.

What I’m not going to do is panic. I’m putting in my ear-plugs and ignoring the shouty thoughts. What do they know?

Finally….Facebook Free

I’ve been holding off and holding off. I’ve made excuses like “I’ll miss seeing this person’s posts” or “I need it to keep up with Book Club”.  The problem with it is: it gets under your skin. You start by ‘just looking’ at specific things, but then before you know it you’re liking things and then your friends who don’t even know the person whose thing you’ve liked will see that you’ve liked it and how odd is that? It gets to a point where all you see is that someone you know has liked something from someone you don’t know. And then before you know it you find yourself throwing your hands up in the air and screaming at the screen “FFS, why do I need to see that X has liked that thing by Stranger Z?”  or words to that effect.

Anyway, today I had a message from the lovely people at Facebook to say that the Groups App is being discontinued and after a few more weeks will be no more. I have managed to keep away from the main event by using the Groups App to look at For Sale groups and Book Club. When that goes, I can see that I will just end up with my hands in the air an awful lot and saying ‘FFS’ all the time. Not Good.

So, I have taken the proverbial bull by its pointy bits and I’VE DEACTIVATED MY ACCOUNT. I’ve set up a WhatsApp group for the lovely Book Club ladies so I am still in the loop – hoping they will all be kind enough to humour me. I’ve created a new profile under my work email and a pseudonym so I can still manage the work Facebook page and I have left. I’ve left! I’ve actually bloody done it. The kind people at Facebook have told me I can come back whenever I want (when hell freezes over) and they will continue to allow me to be invited to stuff (gee, thanks) and I can still get messages – frankly, anyone who needs to contact me and doesn’t have my number should be ashamed of themselves. (I have hastily gathered together people’s numbers that I didn’t have previously, while hanging my head in shame at my neglect).

So, no more FFS’ing at a small screen while wondering why I can’t be stronger and JUST STOP LOOKING.

I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s just wrong for me.

 

The results are in

I know at least one of you (probably only one of you, in fact) is dying to know how the list-less holiday went. Well, I can happily report that we didn't forget anything crucial, we didn't have any disasters and we all lived happily ever after. K had a brief moment of not-quite-but-nearly-panic when he realised that the boot of the Mercedes is considerably smaller than the one in the previous car (S-Max) and that we might struggle to get everything in (we did, struggle that is) but we got in the essentials (clothes, cool-bag, bodyboards) and it was All Fine, until the repeat performance for the return journey when he wasn't quite so calm as there was no option to leave stuff behind.

Not having a list (or lists, or lists of lists) was liberating. Packing at 10pm the night before travelling was interesting. Repacking the next morning  - the mini suitcase I had opted to take was causing no end of distress to the car boot-packer so I had to resort to the only (tiny) holdall that was left (everyone else had already nabbed the bigger ones the night before)  - was slightly unnerving but I actually only wore two-thirds of the severely downsized pile that I ended up taking, so lesson learnt for the next holiday (in 18 days and, yes, I AM COUNTING).

Not having a list of must-see places or any sort of itinerary was inspired, because it meant that the 2 days of solid rain we had didn't spoil any plans, we just had to go along with it and make the most of the lovely sunny days we had. The only planning we did was to look at the forecast the night before (still not a cast-iron guarantee but we had to base it on something) and think about where we would like to go. I had a mental list of possible places and the house we were renting had a whole host of leaflets for days out, so we had no shortage of ideas. We managed to see all of the places we wanted to see – Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Kimmeridge fossil beach (a wave-cut platform, actually, not a beach, as I was informed by the soon to be year 11 GCSE'er) and Studland Bay. All beautiful. All made me fall in love with the UK coast all over again. All made me wonder why we ever think about going abroad – until it rained again.

One thing I did remember to take was my camera. K bought me a camera for my 40th birthday and has berated me ever since when we go to places and I don't have it with me. I've got so used to using my phone camera and instantly "sharing" my snaps that the camera just gets forgotten. But, as part of my 'going off grid' plan for the holiday I decided that if I took my camera I wouldn't be tempted to go online and share stuff and subsequently get caught up in what the world at large was up to. Another winning idea. Apart from checking the weather app (for what it was worth), keeping an eye on emails (you never know when you're going to get 20% off something you had no intention of buying) and looking at directions, I haven't really used my phone that much. And since we came home I have uploaded my photos onto the laptop and I've really looked at them. They are now in an album which I have added to my Google Photos and I can look at them whenever I want to. And they're far better than ones I take on my phone – no filters, no messing about. Just really good pics.

It has to be said, sitting on a beach while your, thankfully much older, kids are messing about in the sea or laying around listening to music, is very relaxing. Being able to tell your, thankfully much older, kids that there is no more food and that the "loos are that way – see you in a minute" and not being met with any complaints is quite nice. Being able to walk down to the local shops from the house your renting, with your husband, while the kids are still laying around in bed in the morning is quite nice. Mainly because they aren't there to nag you to buy twice as much food as you need and they can't complain about what you have bought because "they should have got up and come with us" (no! please don't!). I know I keep saying it, but the older they get the more and more I like them. Don't get me wrong, they can still be very annoying (teenage brains letting them down on the remembering stuff front; A hitting a sugar low around 4pm and crashing in the mood stakes; not to mention smellier feet than I ever imagined; and not going to bed til really late) but they are also really good company and actually quite interesting and knowledgeable (wave-cut platforms, etc). Being away with them is quite easy and er, hmm, I quite like them. Being told by someone you think the world of (you know who you are) that they are "a credit to you" makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and pretty proud of myself. Yes, you heard it right. Proud of myself. I'm even starting to almost like myself as a parent.

So, all in all being list-less was a winner. The holiday was great. Coming home not so much, as it always heralds the return to normality with work looming on the close horizon – even having a whole weekend to get used to the idea didn't really help as it was 2 days of torturous thinking about Monday being only 2 days, only 1 day, tomorrow… and it's here. But I have started my countdown on the lightbox – only 18 days to go! No lists, no plans, no suitcase. Just a few clothes, my camera and, this time, my bike. And off we will go.