Be Sex Positive

Children & Young People

Sex education and discussion is something very close to my heart, and without going into my personal story- I’ll leave it there.

I recently became a member of an organisation called Brook that I’ve been following for a while now, on twitter etc. (Unfortunately, they don’t have many opportunities to interact with them this far north, but I’m always hopeful). They spread a message of positive sex education- something that I think is so important. They believe in the greatness of young people, and respecting them. That they can make their own choices, and navigate a path for themselves- but that they do need access and support and honest discussion. This goes beyond ‘always use a condom kids’ (which is all I got at school it seems), to discussion of relationships, enjoyment, consent, abortion, emotions & feelings.

Just look at this latest blog post from their CEO Simon Blake ; Harder no, Different yes.

Proud to be one small part of their great work.

Sex is so often a secret thing, and in a young persons brain things can get so confused with no trusted adult to discuss it with. Sometimes very important personal things get only discussed with other equally confused young people, and or not discussed at all but instead secret-ed away- increasing their feelings of isolation.

Some myths I remember;

‘it’s just body parts connecting, it’s not a big deal’

‘if you’re drunk it’s your own fault what happens next’

‘if you have anal sex you’re still a virgin’ (the whole concept of virgin is one for another day..)

‘if you’ve tried bases 1, 2, and 3 you gotta have sex next’

‘If it hurts that’s just what happens’

‘You can’t stop doing it if you’ve done it with them before’

There was never any discussion of it being fun or pleasant.

When I began university, two years older than most of my class mates, it terrified me to hear stories of near-rape situations- which they laughed off (though of course I don’t these were their real feelings). Some of them didn’t believe that there was anyone kind enough to consider their feelings, that ultimately all men just want sex and you have to go ahead with it for cuddles and affection. They didn’t value themselves, because they had never met anyone who treated them right. Makes my heart twist just to think about it.

I like to think I played a part in empowering those around me, to demand respect and to keep themselves safe- regardless of other people’s opinions.

 

5 Things I Really Dislike; Kid Edition

Children & Young People

Some thoughts from the past fortnight, whilst out and about. 

  1. Milk bottles of juice propped up on blankets straight into baby’s mouth 
  2. Condescension; ‘ooooh because you’re soooo sweeet you can choose your own’ 
  3. Denying feelings; ‘you’re ok’ ‘it’s not hot’ ‘it’s not scary’ ‘it doesn’t hurt’ ‘it’s only a scratch’ 
  4. Little girls in high heels; as their actual shoes, not dressing up. 
  5. Smacking. 

discipline without shame

juice bottle teeth

the happiest kids don’t have to smile 

p.s. couldn’t bring myself to say hate :) 

My Personal Diet

Food & Eating

… is not a diet. 

It’s this; 

poster healthy eating

Or at least, I try. 

It was gradual process-

// turning away from bread/products – viewing them as a special treat, almost always wholegrain (which I think taste a hell of a lot better), picking the small size loaf. 

// portion sizes- downsizing wherever possible, forget what a meal conventionally looks like – convention is wrong- serve yourself when eating at other peoples houses. 

// don’t eat just because it’s dinner/lunch time – listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry- but don’t let it get to food-frenzy-levels. 

// eat slower. eat mindfully. I need to remind myself of this every time. 

// food diary- just being accountable, the only person I was tricking is myself. This goes back to my childhood. I remember sneaking 4 pieces of toast wrapped in a napkin and sprinting to my room- if no one sees you then it’s didn’t happen right? wrong. 

// watching the balance- up the veg, down the dairy/sugar/meat/carbs. Try going grain free for a day – it makes you think (and it makes you hungry!). 

// black choc not milk. One square not a bar. Once a week not daily. I was never a big chocolate eater though I suppose. 

// don’t set yourself up for a crave-y day. limit sugars, especially in the morning. 

It’s nothing new. 

Oh, and exercise. I’ run twice a week – and starting each (but not every) day with press ups and leg raises (and stretching/yoga, and failing at pull ups). I walk when I don’t run- through our gorgeous local forest next to the river. Healthy eating alone won’t do anything if you never raise your heart rate. 

Just being kind to myself, and appreciating my healthy body. I want to feel a little stronger, and make changes that will stick, no gimmicks. 

 

P.S. This is not the blog post I intended to write but oh well- that one will be up soon. 

Keep on Keeping On

Reflections

I told my parents about my decision to leave my course almost 2 weeks after my meeting with my personal tutor, and after I’d already signed to say I was leaving. This was because my dad had an operation coming up, and I thought it best to wait. I found that really nerve wracking (see prior post!) but it was definitely the right move. Telling them went fine, I chose to do so by email and invited them to then call me to talk about it. They said a few strange things but all ok.

Fast forward to now- two weeks later almost and I’ve come to London to see them while they’re back in the country for a bit. We went out for dinner (dim sum, nom) and things were fine but I knew they wanted to talk further about my plans. This conversation began just before we got the bill.

It’s important to me that they feel heard and that they can express their opinions. Unfortunately they come at things with a very different world view, although there are many things we agree on. As a lawyer and a doctor, they find it hard that I won’t have a job title, or be very well paid for my efforts. They don’t want me to do foster caring mainly as they don’t value looking after children as a worthwhile use of time or talents (hence us being kinda raised by nannies), and I won’t get any recognition for it.
Some phrases used ‘you seem to be narrowing down your life’ ‘what are we supposed to tell our friends’ ‘this won’t use all your talents and skills’ ‘you didn’t give nursing a fair chance’ ‘you keep giving up on things’ ‘you would have been an excellent doctor’ ‘you’re setting your sights lower and lower’ ‘if you’re up against someone with a degree you’ll always lose out’ ‘to do fostering you really need a child psychology degree’.
They have some things that I’m interested in a box marked ‘acceptable’ and others in a ‘disregard’ pile, it seems. Roots of Empathy instructor – tick, fostering – bin, Place2Be training – tick, nannying – bin.
They said they wanted me to be able to support myself (‘I believe in feminism – that you should be independent’. Interesting interpretation, because I thought feminism was about my right to choose what I do). My sister is a box called Artist, so is ‘allowed’ to work at things she hates (restaurant, cabinet painter) to make money to fund her art time. For some reason I’m not allowed to do something I love (nannying/childcare) to fund the things I really love (RIE training, Roots of Empathy, mentoring). Oh but tutoring is ok for some reason- which I’m also planning on doing, of course (why would I not want £20/hour!). They’ve spoken about how my other eldest sister is considering doing some Montessori or Steiner teacher training so that she can have an independent income just in case (tick- sounds legit) but the fact that nannying will pay the same, as my just-in-case option, isn’t ok.
They need to give me a chance to build up experience (some of it unpaid), so I can go forward with my plans (getting training along the way), in order to perhaps in 10 years time be someone who people value the opinion of and who can speak up about things.

I feel like this is it, that I’ve lost their support – though of course not their love. This will rear it’s head many times until I reach a level they’re happy with, and we will rehash the same conversation over and over.

But I remain confident that pursuing my passions and interests is the right thing to do.

Panic?

Nursing, Reflections

So, this leaving-the-course decision.. I’m really not good at this.

Case in point, yesterday there was a choice between 4 different trains from London to Gatwick airport, all spaced within 15 minutes of each other and I was completely paralysed by it. I just couldn’t understand why there were so many, or the differences between them and therefore couldn’t make a decision. I also wasn’t sure I was even booking enough or too much time, and maybe I should book a flexi ticket? But then I would just be delaying the problem. Anyway it turned out that they weren’t all going from Victoria station, so that whittled it down and I made a decision pretty quickly after that. 

Back to my point. I usually make a decision and then am pretty zen about the consequences of it, as I did my best and had considered all options and outcomes. With this … it’s not so easy. 

I go through periods (hours and hours..!) where I’m completely happy and relaxed about this, and know it’s the right thing to do. Then, I’ll read an account of some excellent care delivered by a neonatal nurse, or about the role of a school nurse and just freak. My heart rate goes up, and my brain starts shooting thoughts. The same happens when I remember that I’ve not told my parents, and I’m not doing so until next weekend (as my dad has a pretty important operation on Friday). The reason this concerns me more than normal is that back in May we made the decision together that I would stay on. I had been so sure I had to leave, but a few days later they’d changed my mind. Now I’m sure I’m going to leave (and it’s almost too late to go back now), but I’ve not had any kind of conversation with them about it. But I do think not telling them is the right thing to do, for a little while. 

It kind of whittles down to this, which I texted to my boyfriend earlier today; 

‘I’m making up my own role*, and I just have no idea if it’s going to work or fulfil me’ 

Being an adult, eh? It’s the worst. (And the best) 

 

* For those interested, I’m planning on building up being involved with a variety of projects/age groups/companies. This will hopefully include respite caring (during day time or overnight visits), Roots of EmpathyNightstop host for troubled teenagers, Befriender to teenagers leaving care. In the longer term, I hope to include a relationship with teenagers regarding relationships, consent, sexual health and mental health. I hope to do further training for all the previously mentioned schemes, but also with Kids Company, and Place2Be. I also want to start a family.

As far as I can tell- I don’t need a children’s nursing degree to do any of those things. Therefore I’m OK to leave- right? (What is it with me and needing permission..!)

Open Eyes

Nursing, Reflections

I’m in a strange place right now.

Throughout May, since my last blog post about it, I fretted and worried about my future on the course. It got to the point where I was sure I was going to leave. However I went to France for 4 days with my parents and little brother, intending to keep my doubts to myself, but ended up spilling the beans. I spoke to both my parents, individually, for hours. I made a decision to stay, and felt better for having made a decision. I decided to try to do many of the volunteering things I hadn’t signed up for due to the unpredictable nature of the course. I put the doubts to bed, and continued on to my second placement.

I hated it, in summary. Again. It was in fact slightly worse than my previous placement. I just thought to myself, ‘well – I’m obviously not destined for a hospital. This is a stepping stone to whatever it is I want to do, which I have yet to discover (but isn’t nursing).’  My mental health remained good this time, and I was able to live a slightly more normal life whilst doing the shifts.

I then organised a routine compulsory meeting with my personal tutor. I filled out the form beforehand, quickly summarising that I had had doubts but was now staying on the course- and the volunteering things I’d recently signed up to do, as well as a brief bit about my home life and interests.

The meeting was yesterday, and it was not what I expected. She was so lovely. In a nutshell, she said ‘why are you doing this? If you’re going to stay, you need a very good reason- someone specifically saying that you need a child nursing degree to do what you want to do. No one is making you do this, and it sounds like you hate it. I want you to be happy. For most students, the placements are what get them through the hard times- but they are your hard times’. She had a point (understatement), and over the course of the almost 2 hour chat (!) I realised I’d started speaking about the course in the past tense.

Since May, I’d put the decision to the back of my mind because I was so relieved to have made a decision. I was too hasty. If my tutor thinks that, then I shouldn’t ‘just wait until the community placements… just wait until you can choose your own placement in 3rd  year.. now you may as well finish’ which is the line I get from the other students on my course. In some ways, if I’m going to leave, it needs to be now- a dignified exit, not dropping out because my flimsy ‘decision’ doesn’t stand up to the pressures of constant placements and the academic work on top.

She also said that I should have children sooner rather than later, if that is what I want- there is nothing stopping me. And I should foster, if that’s what I want- again, there is nothing stopping me…Apart from my fears of what other people think; my parents, my boyfriend’s parents, my siblings, my friends from my school. She said I need to make decisions for myself, and for our future. I felt pretty empowered.

///

So I’m now in the curious position of still attending two tutorials today, but finding out the awesome local nannying job I applied for last night want to see my CV, and registering my interest with Barnardo’s to accept emergency teenager night placements, and with Leeds Council to begin the fostering process.

I can see this. 3 days a week nannying, which would be making more than my current allowance. The remaining 4 days a week filled with training with various organisations, occasionally hosting a teenager, and soon fostering; respite placements, arranged short breaks or support care.

Living my life- not just waiting. (sidenote- We could also arrange a wedding without me being a ball of stress..)

As my tutor said- staying would be the easy option, as it would mean no changes, but it’s an incredibly difficult ‘easy option’ to put myself through, and doesn’t make a lot of sense. So I guess I’m saying goodbye to the course.

But really, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Doubt, again.

Children & Young People, Reflections

Just writing this on my phone in our living room.

Boyfriend is away this weekend so I’ve had a thoughtful day, with 2 more days to go.
I’m watching a programme called ‘wanted: a family of my own’ about adopting, and therefore also fostering. I know it’s an idealised tv version of the truth. But. The doubts are back.
Should I be doing this course? I know I don’t want to do much nursing work once qualified but I also do enjoy the course, and I’m learning so much useful stuff. But. I just know that adoption and/or fostering is in my future, as well as children of my own if we can.
There was a tick box exercise where they had to say yes or no to certain problems and conditions and they’re (potential adopters) sitting there saying no and I’m saying yes and maybe. I’m thinking through my answers for the panel when they go there. I’m wondering what it would be like to go to one of the adoption activity days they go to. I’m thinking how there are so many little boys not placed purely on gender- and I’d love a little boy. I’m thinking about what age groups I’d consider.
These thoughts come in waves- sometimes I can’t stop thinking about it and sometimes I put it aside for a while.
This is coupled with the fact that although he is supportive of any choices, Boyfriend doubts I’ll want to go right the way through this course. That if his business is highly successful still by this time next year say, will I still want to keep writing pointless essays when we can have a family of our own- one of the few reasons I’m staying on, to learn more for them.
Sometimes I think of this, and my nannying experience, as a parenting internship.
I just know that I have no real idea what being a foster carer, or adoptive parent is like but then no one finds out if you’re suitable to be a birth mother either. There’s no test. I can do all the research I want but I’ll never truly know until it’s happening, and then I’ll learn on the job. I know it will some days feel impossible and some days feel the best and most important thing I’ve ever done. Or both, every minute.
I of course wish to parent alongside Boyfriend, but these feelings have been present from before he was in my life, and I don’t want to speak for his feelings. All I know is that he’d like a biological child first if we can, which is something I can happily agree to!
So hard to know. I guess I’ll put it aside for a little longer. But I don’t know what I’m waiting for.

Hello

Reflections

it’s been a little while, I’m not going to apologise because erm I’m not sorry? This is a space I’m going to continue to use, when the mood strikes but has been slightly overtaken by my own daily journalling on the Day One app, and my university course. I’m in a place now where I absorb, via bloglovin’ and instagram but don’t make any/much public content myself. Like all the other blogs that are closing down, or slowing up, at the moment.

I’d love to see you over on the gram, where I’ll be updating a little more frequently, and at the same time keeping things a little less anonymous.

Round Up

Nursing, Reflections
Written in early January.
So, my initial thoughts (as always) is that 2013 was a good year- just fine you know? But let’s sum it up and see if I have anything more to say by the end..
// January.
[Bad start to this post, hazy already.] Boyfriend was working hard at his job, and I was just going with the flow.
// February
Ditto? Set up this blog, here on wordpress rather than on tumblr. I gave up chocolate, which lasted for 6 months. Boyfriend bought me a huge bunch of roses for valentines day. He bought a fish tank, and began collecting strange things in it; Shrimp and snails etc. We did some yoga together.
// March
It was still snowing. His job was hard. I learnt and wrote about unschooling. I beat everyone at bowling at my neice and mum’s joint birthday party.
// April
He got fired/left his crappy/well paid job, and started working as a courier. Cue, crazy month where I was adjusting to him being home so much, and he was adjusting to being free. He turned 24. We considered the idea of him getting a job in London and me skipping Uni but decided to go with the original plan. He set up a business renting our marquees with a couple of friends. I reached 1000 views and 100 likes here on the blog.
// May
He bought a new van. We signed the lease for a new flat, closer into town. Was at the birth of my third niece in London. Boyfriend was still sleep talking. I confirmed my place at University. Boyfriend’s family bought some land in Canada!
// June
We moved house, and realised that it really is the nightmare that people have described it as.
My sister came to visit me. I started working full days with the eldest boy; bad times. Had to stop working at a local special needs nursery, where I had fallen in love with a little boy who was up for adoption. I did a collaboration on the blog, which I got very excited over. The middle girl had a traumatic violin lesson, that really affected me. I bought a rice cooker.
// July
My parents came to visit 2 weeks after we’d moved into our new place. My nannying job ended and I hung around for a while. Bit of an identity crisis- that continued for a while. I watched lots of Nip/Tuck and Vikings. He began applying for more jobs; train driver, for a charity, etc.
// August
Went to France to my family’s house; Boyfriend there for the first week and by myself the second week. Don’t like being by myself! Lots of interesting discussions with my eldest sister about life and love, etc. Doubts about upping sticks to very rural Canada. Began daily journalling, first on Oh Life. Caught a bit of carnival in London, woop.
// September
Progressive nerves about big changes. Apparently I had dreams about my teeth cracking. Started University, and it wasn’t quite what I’d expected, but slowly got into the swing of things. Sold my old car. We celebrated 2 years, minus the actual celebration. Began journalling on evernote instead. Boyfriend did the important exam for his personal pilot’s license. Gave up on alphabet project. The noisy neighbour saga began.
// October
My brother came to stay with us. I had my first student rep meeting. Went to dinner with my old family. I got obsessed with listening to podcasts.
// November
I met his extended family down near London. We had a lovely fireworks night. My first placement, on a tiny baby ward. Nerve wracking, and unpleasant. Made me doubt the course in general. Tried Days app for photo journal but didn’t like it. Boyfriend had a very important job interview- we’ll hear the results before end of Jan! Celebrated birthdays in London with a family brunch. I realised I’ve made a real university friend.
// December
Boyfriend made a new flying friend. Bought a new car, fiat 500! Signed on to a new flat. I turned 21, with my best birthday in memory. Chauffeur, hotel, trampolining, decadent if slightly strange carrot cake, dressed up frozen pizza living room picnic. We moved house, and it was pretty stressful but not as bad. I went France to see my family, queue more life crisis. Switched daily journal to Day One app.
So, lots happened. 3 different houses, 4 different vehicles between us. Start of Uni, end of both of our jobs, many job applications.
Some Goals
/ This year is going to be the year I grow my hair back. No more donating blood (big sad face for that) and gotta take my iron supplements every day. Had blood tests last week to rule anything super bad out, and at the doctors a few days before that he informed me I had had an iron level of 14 in October 2012; normal range being 10 to 100 (but some doctors say 20 to 100)- so thanks for that, GP surgery- you were supposed to call me if anything looked strange.
I will grow this hair back, I want it thick and lucious like it was when I was a kid- and like all my siblings.
/ I want to stay active- not slip back into passive like I was while Boyfriend was at his tough job. It was necessary for survival at that time, but now I need to make sure I represent myself and make my choices, not let them happen.
/ I want to keep working on widening our list of meals, making them more veg-heavy.
/ Who knows what 2014 will bring?
Potentially; essays and placements for me- lots of learning and discovering, engagement, total life gear change & happiness if he gets this pilot job (though it wouldn’t start till 2015)  Fingers crossed no more house moves this year, and no babies just yet,

Stock

The Rest
Making : the mistake of eating sugar, creating an endless crave consume cycle that may never end. 
Cooking : nothing yet, but later hot dogs and tomorrow broccoli frittatas for my January new recipe. 
Drinking : nothing – but you’ve inspired me to dig out my bottle of water
Reading: blogs- what else! 
Wanting: my headache to go away 
Looking: into quitting sugar- one day a week or cold turkey for a bit? 
Playing: Milky Chance remixes from the fantastic soundtrack of the youth blog. 
Wasting: Nothing really. I have nowhere I need to be, nothing I need to be doing. Tomorrow there are things to do but not right now. 
Wishing: we knew the answer to this endless job application opportunity 
Enjoying: this song 
Waiting: always waiting – though doing my best to appreciate the every day, don’t want to be a wait-er. I said that exact sentence last night, when I realised the joke but it was too serious a time to point it out. I also don’t want to be a waiter, but doubt I’ll ever be one. 
Liking: a funny text 
Wondering: about this course, and my future involvement with it.. 
Loving: my boyfriend 
Hoping: he’ll be back soon, and be a whirlwind of happiness not grump. 
Marvelling: at how one blog post breeds more. 
Needing: the last instalment of a trilogy I’m into 
Smelling: nothing. my conditioner a little 
Wearing: jeans and a black cashmere jumper (ultra lux) 
Following: this music blog in future more closely 
Noticing: I shouldn’t have sat for so long on this kitchen bench at my laptop
Knowing: that all is well      
Thinking: today is better than yesterday. concious effort. 
Feeling: more calm, more pleasant, more happy. 
Opening: up my tablet for some netflix time 
Giggling: I hope so 
Feeling; this improved my mood, or maybe that was the music.
 
18.38 30.01.14 it’s code!  

Days

The Rest

I wrote this a few weeks ago. 

Inspired by; http://residencyinmotherhood.com/mothers-days/#!prettyPhoto

/ Sunday /
midnight- our dinner guests are still here 
1.46- They leave to go home 
1.50 I take out contacts, brush my teeth and unpin my hair to put it into a pony tail. Sleep after analysing our conversation with the guests. Tell him he shouldn’t have brought up homeschooling. 
11.40- Boyfriend stirs and starts browsing on his phone. I think it’s about 8 oclock and try to stay asleep. 
11.53- I ask what time it is, he tells me it’s past 12. This is very unusual. Can’t remember last time we slept past 9.30, but we’re usually in bed by 10.30pm. 
12.10- After chatting for a while, and phone browsing my stomach is growling too much so I get up. 
12.12- He gets in the shower and I head to the kitchen to take iron pill with some water, and contraceptive. Put on some frozen toast. 
12.14- it’s burnt, put on another piece 
12.16- eat it standing up. take zinc tablet. 
12.30- I have a bowl of cereal, finishing my milk. We make a plan to go to supermarket to get me more milk and some pate for him. I get dressed. I put the dishwasher on. 
12.45- we drive to get fuel, and I can’t unscrew my own fuel cap. 
1- In morrisons, shopping. Get tangerines, pate, ham, baguette and 2 bottles of milk. 
1.30- Home. put dishwasher on properly this time.  I read more Mother’s Days while slowly eating baguette with pate and strawberries. He’s watching a war documentary, but since it’s narrated by Jeremy Clarkson who I hate, he considerately uses headphones. 
2.20- I make myself some ‘instant tea’- sugar and water effectively, with a nice flavour though. 
2.48- I write this. I google an ancestor who was first sea lord in the uk, to find he has his own wikipedia page. I email the link to my dad. 
3.01- we decide to go for a walk so i get changed and we put our wellies, coats and scarves on. 
we walk down to the river, up along the crest past the new built lovely houses and loop back down to the river’s edge then back through the village. 
3.45- get back, make tea for us both and sit down to our computers. i open out my newspaper and magazine bundle from yesterday, my saturday ritual. 
4.01- clipped a recipe for pear muffins (reasonably healthy) 
4.04 – opened dishwasher to allow the things to cool 
4.27 finish reading an article in the magazine about babies on the neonatal ward – where I have a placement coming up soon for my course.
4.57 I finish reading the family section of the newspaper, and look at a site dedicated to returning soft toys to children
5.01- Finish reading the cooking section 
5.05- halfway through muddling through a will self essay i realise I need to do some homework for tomorrow. 
5.21- Finish the article anyway, over a snack of spinach and a bread stick. Reply to a text from neighbours confirming drink tonight at 8 over the road. 
5.28- eat more spinach leaves, this time with balsamic 
5.40- call my mum back for a bit 
5.46- finish looking at biology notes and work out how the term is going to go from that information 
6.00- finished every single mothers day piece. 
6.05 looked at blog posts on bloglovin, including the weekly blog link roundups
6.13 really liked this 
6.30 pasta craving 
7. cuddles then start cooking, then eat.
7.58 get to the bar over the road, sir down with beer and g&t 
8.09 they’re late
8.11 they arrive. Good chat
10.05 get home
10.21 in bed 
10.30 finish updating to do list then sleep. 

Respecting Children

Children & Young People

I’m currently writing an essay for my child nursing course about communication and relationship building with children and their families. I hit a bit of a lull, so I was googling to find some more articles. I typed in ‘lack of respect for children’. Immediately it became obvious every single result was the opposite of what I’d intended.’Children lack respect for their parents’ ‘a lack of respect is a big issue with children nowadays’ ‘need a rant- my daughter won’t respect me’ were just a few of the 125,000,000 results. It hurt, to see that. It seems very few people respect children, and all too many are demanding it from them instead. I already knew it, but to see it displayed so visually. Jolts you out your comfort zone, of thoughtful kind-to-kids blogs such as Janet Lansbury and Girls Gone Child

My List of Books, 2013

Reflections

Back over here, I decided to write down every book I read in 2013, with a star rating and very short description.

I read 53 books, and 20 of them were awarded the highest rank of 4 stars.

My highest month was January, with 11 books completed, whilst it was normally more like 4 per month.

I’m going to keep doing it this year.

Let me recommend; 

The King’s Concubine, by Anne O’Brien

My dear, I wanted to tell you by Louisa Young

Belle, Lesley Pearse

All of the Crowther series by Imogen Robertson

The Examined Life, Stephen Grosz (non fiction)

All of the Game of Thrones books which I re-read some of last year.

Jodi Picoult just you know, in general.

Empress of Rome, Kate Quinn (next one perhaps later this year?)

Kiss An Angel, Susan Elizabeth Phillips- my third read.

Both the Cromwell/Henry 8th books by Hilary Mantel (new one out 2015)

 

Christmas Questions

Reflections
Q. A sign that Christmas is coming?
A. Christmas tunes playing in the supermarket
Q. Favourite Christmas Song?
I find myself humming In the Bleak Midwinter the most. I like driving home for Christmas too.
Q. Favourite Christmas Movie?
I don’t really watch any! In fact I can’t think of one I’ve actually watched more than once.Q. Opening Presents.. Morning or Afternoon?
Morning, opening our stockings with my siblings in one of our bedrooms (and swapping where necessary). Then downstairs to exchange any personal gifts out from under the tree.

Q. Smoky eyes and sequin dresses for Christmas dinner or tacky jumpers all the way?
I usually wear some nice blouse/trouser thing for the meal. We don’t really do make up though, any of us. And I don’t think anyone owns any tacky jumpers- I did buy my brother a blow up santa one year. 

Q. Christmas Eve Plans?
My sister is arriving from England so I’ll probably go get her to save her the solo parent trip when she’s frazzled from the journey. My mum will cook something, probably pork.Q. Favourite Christmas food or drink?
I like brussel sprouts, and champagne. And mini sausages wrapped in bacon. And brandy butter.

Q. Favourite Christmas memory?
Not sure I have one.. How sad. All I can think of is the time I threw up because I had some hot chocolate earlier that day, made with milk (#intolerance)

Q. Who are you spending Christmas with this year?

My family- can’t get away. This might be my last one separated from Boyfriend, woop! I’ll then be in sync with my sister with the alternating families for christmas.
Q. Top of your wish list this year?
I didn’t want anything at all but my mum said if I didn’t write her a list she’d get me things I didn’t like. So I put on things like a specific cushion cover, and a specific book, etc. My real top wish is for Boyfriend to find the gas meter at our new place, and wash the bed sheets at his parents as I can’t figure out how to use the machine effectively.Q. What’s on your plate?
Minimum turkey, maximum sprouts/cabbage. Stuffing, cranberry sauce. Bit of bread sauce, and some wrapped sausages. Then, a mince pie with brandy butter and definitely no christmas pudding bleugh.

Q. Favourite Christmassy Scent?
Baby smell.Q. What is at the top of your tree?
At home- nothing, here in France an angel in a purple dress.

Q. Boxing day?
Phewf- over. Eating turkey sandwiches.

Q. Best thing about Christmas?

People looking happy around town. Boyfriend having a good time with his family, and telling me funny stories.
Laura did this first, great blog!

A strange feeling

Reflections

I was making a new pinterest board, and I decided to see if there were any other boards on there with the title ‘Maybe Next Year’. There were. Tons of them. But the more I looked, the stranger it felt. There were pins of holidays, and exercise routines, there were picture perfect houses and smiling babies. My board is perhaps much the same, a collection of expensive things I’d never buy or ask for. Dipped bowls and snow boots, huge calendars and photo shoots.

On a related note, do you ask for presents? My mum makes me write her a list. I said I didn’t want anything extra for my birthday or Christmas as they bought me a car (!), but she said if I didn’t write one then she’d just get me things I don’t like. So.. I did. Practical, cheap, postable items.

Christmas is a funny time.

Show and Tell

Sundays

Again, it’s been a while. Exactly a month today.

Tell You

/ He booked a viewing at a flat in our old village, in fact in the same courtyard. We went, both hoping to dislike it because of the inconvenience, but we absolutely loved it. Exposed beams, stone work, huge windows, lots of room, lovely bathroom. And of course, back in our old village that we’ve been missing.

/ We went ahead with it, and signed for it last weekend. We’ll be moving starting on the 14th!

/ This meant we had to buy a car, which we did- a little Fiat 500 in jet black. He is so cute, we’ve nicknamed him Dino (as his license plate looks a little like that).

/ Boyfriend’s been giving me driving lessons- not so bad actually! Obviously I’m useless still (over a year and a half since I last drove manual- the day of my test) but I didn’t get upset about it. It’s interesting to compare to the last time I took lessons off him- August 2012. I cried and hated every moment! But this time, I guess we know each other even better.. Also- the pressure is off, because I don’t have a job that relies on it, just my drive to Uni.

/ The insurance cost was amazing- so so happy about that!

/ We went down to London to celebrate 3 out of 4 sibling’s birthdays (including mine). It was good! A lovely late brunch, followed by some sister time.

/ So yes, I turn 21 on Sunday! Last birthday I was a brat and complained that the day wasn’t special enough, probably because I didn’t put the effort in and organise much. I wanted champagne and cake but I didn’t buy any or bake one.. Anyway, I think I might have overdone it as on Friday a chauffeur is picking us up from home, and I don’t know where we’re going!! So excited though.

/ We spent bonfire night at a huge free event with booming music, a massive stack of pallets to burn and a big fireworks display. I had a million layers on (and was declared ‘kind of puffy looking’) but he didn’t have enough and so had freezing cold toes. It was nice though!

/ Nothing happened on Halloween- maybe next year! Not that bothered about it though, no kids to get excited about it!

/ I had a TB injection- permanently scarred for the good of the herd, so to speak, as Boyfriend hasn’t had one. Luckily, no sign of a horrible scar yet!

/ We called the police on the woman upstairs, because the boy had been screaming and running for about half an hour and we were just so worried- we don’t want to read about it in the newspaper you know? Anyway, she fobbed them off and said that it was because she refused to help him on the computer..

/ Boyfriend sent off his application to British Airways (lots of drama) and got an interview the next day, for the following week! Woop! Interview went really well, as did the simulated flying but he’s very worried that he completely messed up the physics section. Anyway, they told us it’d be a week till we heard but then other people have been told not until January! To be fair, that fits with the timeline we originally thought of- and works quite well as it doesn’t put pressure to start revising for the next round.

/ He’s been doing quite a bit of flying with a friend- and absolutely loving it!

/ I spent 3 weeks on placement for my university course. I’m going to write up a separate post about it, but by the end I quite enjoyed myself. Back to normal Uni now, as of Monday.

/ Our boiler is broken, as is the sink. But we’re dealing with it- but I really pity the people who move in here after us. The place is falling apart it feels like!

/ Met up with a girl from Uni a few times whilst I was on placement, just us- it’s been really nice. Not awkward at all, just like.. real friends hah

/ Downloaded a new app based on the ‘don’t break the chain’ mentality called Good Habits. It’s working really well for me, helping me make sure I eat at least one piece of fruit or veg a day. Starting small..

Show You

An awesome new kind of cycle helmet 

Newborn twins in the bath

Lovely series of graphic stories about somalians

Show and Tell

Sundays
pancreas book
To Tell 
/ We went to see his extended family on his mums side this weekend- I hadn’t met them before. There was a couple of ‘oh I’ll probably see you next year at the wedding’ wink, ha! They were all really nice though had a great time!
/ Excited to start trampolining at a sports centre I’ve discovered/ and he’s gonna go swimming! Starts next Saturday.
/ Been reading a lot of feminist focused stuff- APW, and how to be a woman- makes you a bit.. Angry at no one understanding! But must not take this out of boyfriend who is doing his best lol. It’s more frustrating at having to bite my lip when my new friends say things..
/ Only one week until placement- eek! Tiny babies. I think I’ll be alright- it’ll be great to get started.
/ He’s going to apply for BA training next Monday- would be very exciting! Unfortunately it’s 20 weeks in Oxford and 20 in (drum roll) Arizona!! But we’ll work it out. Actually, we’ll see if he gets it first- we’re assuming he won’t so it’s either great news or neutral.
/ My brother came to stay for a bit- it was great. Tried a new street food court place which was lovely, and watched Breaking Bad together while eating copious amounts of chicken. The next day he flew off to Morocco  I was so jealous!
/ I’m student rep for my year (of 38 students)- and went to the first meeting.
/ We’ve been thinking of moving out once our contract is up on 28th of December (partly because of this). But we looked a few flats already and found a beautiful one on our old road in our old cute village! Top floor, exposed stone, huge windows, 2 bed rooms. But yes- it’s too far away. And we’d have to buy a car again. Plus my mum just booked my flights home from family trip in France- don’t get back till 29th oops. Not sure what we’ll do.
/ I’m writing this up on the bus in to Uni- didn’t have a chance yesterday. It’s a long day today- Mondays always are.
/ I went for the first time to a all you can eat multi-cuisine buffet. It was awesome! Delicious. BBQ, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Sushi, and puddings.
/ Had my first look at the real paperwork and charts we have to do as nurses- so exciting.
/ We didn’t do anything for Halloween but we’re going to a huge park show tomorrow for bonfire night :)
Some Links

The Upstairs

Children & Young People, Reflections
We live below a family; two boys and their mum. We all moved in at the about the same time, back in June. We heard nothing from them over the entire summer, and it wasn’t until September that we started hearing them, at night in particular. It was every night for about a week; shouting, jumping, running and screaming until 10, 11 at night.
I love the sound of children, but I don’t like this. They always sound so upset, and their mum is always shouting. We’ve been meaning to write a note to them, but every time we say we’re going to do it we don’t because we don’t hear them for a few nights. It’s obvious the mum doesn’t have ‘control’ over them; or she just don’t have a good relationship with them so I’m completely aware that a note, however gentle or harsh, is going to be futile. I can’t fix their problems.
One evening last week I heard the sound of a child crying uncontrollably, sounding both angry and upset. It was clear he was out in the hallway, where they keep their shoes. I instinctively went halfway up to their floor. His brother came out asking ‘what happened?’ and at the same time the little brother saw me and bolted back inside (separate note- who knows what their mum has been telling them about us!). The elder boy fixed something that was blocking the door and said that he’d be ok. I could tell that wasn’t true as I could hear him crying and shouting ‘I hate you!’. Things got quieter, but I then realised they had gone down the stairs passed the flat and were making their way back up- whispering past our door. Very strange.
I wish I could help.
They’ve actually been away somewhere for the past 3 days- which happens quite a lot. If they went away regularly we’d probably be able to handle this, but it’s all so random. 

University

Nursing, Reflections
I haven’t really rambled about any of this yet so here goes;
/ In some ways I’ve been feeling like I’m existing on a different plane to other people. Loads of students walk past a visually impaired guy with a stick, and only I offer to help (nevermind that when he said no, I said ‘ok (smile) see you later’ awwwwkward). People start packing up before the lecturers are finished- they’re people too! People get up and walk away, or don’t listen when someone is sharing an incredibly personal and difficult story- when I could sit there reeling and processing for another 5 minutes. It sounds ridiculous, but it does feel a little that way. I guess it’s just that you never know what other people are thinking, or why they’re doing something, so it’s easy to think you’re the only one thinking it.
/ I volunteered to be student representative for my group (39 child nurses)- and I went to the programme meeting on wednesday- it was so interesting hearing what’s to come in the next few years, finding out the pass rates for the modules I’m doing right now- and the feedback it gets!
/ We’ve got a little group of 5 of us who usually sit together, and can be relied upon to wait for each other or meet up. It’s nice to have someone ask about you or want to sit with you. It’s interesting not to be an ‘add on’ member of something. We all don’t live in conventional Uni halls; 3 with their parents (under different circumstances); S, B, G, then me with Boyfriend and the other girl, L, in some private student halls with no one else from our course. We haven’t met up outside of Uni yet but we’ve hung out a lot, over lunch etc.
/ I tried trampolining club last night with S- it was awesome. We finished lectures at 5 and it didn’t start till 7 so we caught the bus back into town and wandered around then went to Barburrito to get some food. She told me lengthy stories of her summer, and boys. We got the bus back up to Uni, walked through campus to the sports facilities, found a changing room and found the sports hall where it was. It was awesome! We chose the wrong group though- we went total beginner but we weren’t really. We both got sore hands, and scratched elbows. It didn’t finish till 10, then of course I had to wait an age for the bus. It was a lot of fun but I felt terrible when I woke up the next morning- so groggy. While I was out Boyfriend had a steak & beer night with 4 friends but they’d already left by the time I was back. I’d love to go trampolining again but £85 for sports club membership I’m not gonna use, and then £50 for the team. Stacks up! I’m gonna think about it.
/ I’m really enjoying the real ‘nursing’ parts. Thinking about ways to get a child to eat their lunch, finding each others pulses, and learning to bath babies. Some of the modules are just… silly. I can see what they’re trying to do, get us to thinking about how to work effectively in a team that has different disciplines in it, but they way they’ve chosen to assess it is just mad and pointless. Oh well! I’ll survive.
/ There is always a part of me, that in the back of my mind is saying – you don’t have to do this you know. You’re not going to work as a nurse most likely (because we plan to move to Canada). You could just stop now, and start living; start a family and get on. But on the other hand, I do really want to do this. It’s really interesting so far, but who knows how I’ll feel once it steps up a gear. Apparently the second year is the hardest year, because you’re out the community the whole time, which is not something I’d be interested in doing really which makes it doubly hard. I don’t know. I’m giving it a proper chance, and most likely I’ll finish- as long as I don’t get pregnant by accident before I’m done!
Related Posts
1. Uni

Show and Tell

Sundays

Some Things

/ I feel as if I’m in some kind of hibernation. Sorry I’m late. I’m absorbing so much each day at Uni that I don’t have much to give, to output when I get home- nor the time to do so. That’s ok though, it’s not a bad thing. I’m enjoying life!

/ Here, in England, eating pumpkin is just .. not a thing. We don’t have cans of pumpkin puree. We don’t do that. So, all those recipes I’m seeing on blog after blog for muffins or cakes, are just not relevant to me. I’ve eaten pumpkin in ravioli one time but apart from that, you just scoop out the insides and carve the outsides! You throw the guts in the bin, and they get on the floor and you find the slimy seeds everywhere.

/ side note to these side notes, I still insist on spelling recipes with an extra e; reciepes. What is going on??

/ I think part of this little low-volume-output is because I entered a competition a while back (bloggers in the north of england) and I didn’t get shortlisted or commended, not even in the under 23 group- and I had talked myself into thinking I had a chance! Bad person jealously icky feelings.

/ a little while ago, the kids (from my old job) texted me off their mum’s phone. She ended up inviting us for dinner, where we went last Friday night. I didn’t see the kids for nearly long enough, I wanted to just cuddle them up and chat forever but they went off to play. They invited another guy round, and we sat and talked from 8 until 3am. It was so interesting.

/ my mum was on radio 4 last week! I think she forgot she wasn’t giving a lecture, because she started her point very slow rather than jumping right in- so she got interrupted. Poor thing. She had good facts though!

/ We’re getting into a routine I think, with boyfriend at work and me at Uni. Some days I’m in 9-5, some days just 1-3, and some days nothing at all, now that the introductory series each Wednesday is gone.

/ my brother is coming to visit- he just booked his train last weekend and he’ll be here tomorrow for a short stay before he goes to Morocco (!) with some of the rest of my family. We have such a big family it feels like now. He’s going with 4 adults and 3 kids- but there are still 3 other adult members of my immediate & extended family who aren’t going! I’m looking forward to seeing him.

/ My first placement is 3 weeks long, and it starts in 2.5 weeks time. I’m on a neonatal ward, which is exciting but also nerve wracking- just a little more delicate than those on other wards! I haven’t called to find out my shift pattern yet.

/ Boyfriend is almost finished with getting his private pilot’s license- yay! It means a lot to him. It gets him through driving a van all day- if he knows he’s progressing in another area. Though he still has plans to set up some kind of gambling investment company.. He can’t stop, that guy. :)

/ Been listening to podcasts- especially radiolab ones. So good, so nice to get a dose of interesting discussion first thing in the morning.

Some Links

These are amazing

Russell Brand vs Westboro Baptist Church

A film set entirely on a computer screen and mobile phone display

Midweek Memory /9

The Rest

I remember just this summer when my siblings were talking about a game we used to play- a variation of Mercy. The elder one would crush the younger one against the side of the car with their feet, until they cried out. We played this because it had been  done to us by our older sibling. Therefore, the youngest (my brother at #4) had never done it to anyone else, and the eldest had never had it done to her. We suggested a righting or connection of this circle. My now 6 ft, 16 year old lanky brother compressing my 26 year old mother of 3 sister. Predictably.. this never occurred. Maybe when we’re back together this Christmas?

More of these here