Memories

As some of you may be aware, my son Ryan left primary school yesterday after eight years. He first attended their nursery class back when he was a tiny 3 year-old, and stuck with Brookacre Primary School right through to Year 6 and his SATS this year. He and his classmates are moving on to high school in September, and the teachers held a special leavers assembly yesterday morning. As well as performances, readings, and songs from the children of Year 6, the headmistress presented them each with a memory book to take home, filled with pictures and work dating back to their first year at the school.

It was a beautiful momento to bring home, and both Ryan and I enjoyed looking through it together and reminiscing about those earlier years.

It will definitely be something I am going to treasure. I have a box of trinkets and keepsakes that I have collected since he was born. In his early years of school, they sent a lot of his work home with him, and I have kept it all, every unidentifiable painting and mangled creation. They are all beautiful to me, because my son made them.

Yes, I'm a sentimental old fool, but I can't be the only one. There must be other parents out there who want to collect every moment of their child's life and treasure it. This will probably be the only chance I get to be a mother, and I want to make the most of every moment, and every memory.

This book, which Ryan calls the 'black book', but which is actually grey, is a brilliant touch to the end of his primary school education, and I am pleased with Brookacre for taking the time to create one for each child. It will probably go on to gather dust in a cupboard somewhere, but I will know it is there to refer to whenever I need to, a part of our family history.

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Weekend

At last, the weekend! I must admit, I'm still feeling a little deflated after yesterday's end of an era, but I have a week off work now so I'm thinking of ways to lift my mood. As my mum said last night, "It may be the end of an era, but it's the beginning of a new one." Words of wisdom, right there. My boy is growing up, and that is something I should embrace. 😊

Have a great weekend! 💜

End of an Era

So today, I'm happy because it's Friday, of course. But I'm also a little sad, because this Friday has brought with it the end of an era.

Today was my son's final day at primary school before the summer holidays, and then high school in September. It was his last day ever as a pupil at Brookacre Primary School.

I'm not sure who is saddened more by this, him or me. He doesn't seem to be bothered, but I'm not sure if it has actually sunk in yet. For me, it heralds the end of his true childhood, and in a matter of months, my boy will have left behind all traces of that childhood as he struggles to fit in with a new school and peer group.

Maybe I am being a little too pessimistic about it all, but with good reason. I have few endearing memories of high school. A shy child who never felt like I fit in, those five years were the bane of my life, and I hated every minute. I can't even pinpoint exactly what it was I hated so much. I just didn't enjoy it, and couldn't wait to leave.

Of course, Ryan may be completely different to me, and he may enthusiastically embrace his life as a young adult with joy. I hope he does find it easy, I really do. I want him to enjoy his schooldays. I don't want him to wake each morning with a sickening feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach, and be forced to die a little more inside each day.

I know, I know. I'm being melodramatic. I guess what it really comes down to is that I don't want to lose my baby boy. Very soon, he will become a stroppy teenager and not want anything to do with his old mum, and I'm not sure how I will deal with that.

So really, I'm being pretty selfish in my thinking, and should be looking forward to this next stage in my son's life, ready to support him in his journey through teenager-hood, instead of imagining a hundred worse-case scenarios. And I am ready for that, I really am.

I'm just incredibly nostalgic for the old days, when he was my baby.

But, I need to soldier on. I can't turn into one of those unbearable mothers who mollycoddle their son's and turn them into Mummy's Boys. Although it is tempting…

I am kidding, of course. I have encountered one too many Mummy's Boys in my lifetime, and would never intentionally inflict that on any woman.

So at the end of this era, hot on the heels of a fantastic and highly emotional leaver's assembly at Brookacre this morning, where the children gave an exceptional performance and left many in tears, I will raise a glass to Ryan's primary school years and the teachers who have helped him develop into the young man he is today.

And no matter what any body tells me, he will always be my little boy.

5 Tips for a Happy Existence

I have to admit, I haven't always been the happiest of people, and actually suffered quite badly from depression in my younger years. I had a breakdown in my early twenties and was consequently on strong anti-depressants for the majority of the following decade, which in hindsight I strongly suspect destroyed my ability to feel great happiness. I never experience the highs that people talk about, only lows or 'normal'.

At this moment in time, I am content, which suits my life right now. Saying that, my life is pretty boring, and this is because I have had to cut out a lot of the stuff that affected my emotions negatively, to basically avoid becoming unhappy again.

So I have to admit, many of you may not agree with my tips for a happy life because you aren't as boring as me. 😊

1. Avoiding drama. I hate drama and conflict. It just doesn't agree with me whatsoever, and makes me feel miserable, confused and uncertain. In the past, I have been dragged into unnecessary drama for no reason other than certain people wanted to take the blame off themselves. I must have seemed like an easy target at the time, and in the end I just withdrew from those people.

I find it difficult to understand those who claim to hate drama, yet surround themselves with volatile people or situations and then moan when the shit hits the fan. No thanks. I'll stick to my boring existence.

2. Staying positive. Okay, I admit, sometimes this is very difficult to do, especially when you are at a low point. Everything seems bad when you are in a depressive state, and thinking positively is easier said than done. In this case, please seek help and speak to somebody. You are never alone.

I was very lucky to be able to drag myself out of those murky depths after so many years of being down. It wasn't easy. The worse I felt about myself, the more shit I attracted, and I seemed to be stuck in a vicious circle. My relationships were a joke, and it took living with the most negative person I had ever met for 6 years to realise that it wasn't good for me at all. He dragged me right down into a pit of misery, and after hitting rock bottom, I decided enough was enough. I didn't need anybody to make me feel like rubbish. I could do that all by myself. My self-esteem, or lack of it, has always been to blame for my passiveness and ridiculous life choices, and my emotional fragility back then made it so easy for that one negative person to drag me down and make me believe that second best and heartbreak was all I deserved. These days, I try to stay away from negativity because it just isn't good for me.

3. Believing in yourself. I have to admit, this is something I haven't quite conquered yet, but I'm getting there. As I read somewhere recently "Nothing will work if you don't believe in it", and this is so true. Okay, maybe not when it comes to time travel, or turning water into wine (unfortunately!) But believing in yourself and your abilities can take you far. Intelligence and skill doesn't matter in the slightest if you don't have the confidence to see it through. So many of us allow self-doubt, vulnerability, and uncertainty to plague our thoughts, and this can get in the way of success. We just need a confident outlook, and this can only come from ourselves. Instead of telling yourself why it won't work, tell yourself why it will. I suppose that explains it as succinctly as possible. I'm working on this. 😊

4. Do things that you like. This may sound very obvious, but it's amazing how many people allow themselves to get bogged down by boring chores and hated jobs, and forget to use their spare time constructively. Don't forget the things that make you happy, whether that may be a cherished hobby, spending time with the people you love, or visiting your favourite places. Even stamp collecting, train spotting, or hibernating at home to recharge the batteries, as I so often like to do. If it makes you happy, then do it. Although try to keep it legal. 😊

5. Stay healthy. Now I have to admit, healthy people really irritate me. Dieting and calorie counting bores me to tears, and the gym is most definitely against my religion. However, secretly, I admire the motivation it takes to do any of the above. I'd actually love to be one of those people, but I'm far too laid back about my lifestyle. Since hitting the big 4-0 though, I have begun to see the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle. More exercise, less wine. Going for walks in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Getting enough sleep. Laughing more. I've been trying to include more protein into my diet, and less fat. But I'm not completely cutting out on the things I like, because that would defeat the object of number 4. I'm just taking more of an interest in my health, by cutting back on the bad things and doing more of the good things. This makes me feel better about myself, which in turn lifts my spirits.

I may sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I really don't. Everybody has their own idea of what makes them happy, and these are my own. I'm just trying to lead a better life than I have in previous years. 😊

50 Followers – Thank You!

So today, my little blog hit the 50 milestone, which is awesome! 😃 I just want to say a big Thank You to everybody who has followed, liked, commented on, and shared my posts. I am hugely grateful to you all for taking an interest in the stuff I write.

As a lot of you may know, I have been writing for years but have never had the guts to do it on a public spectrum. So this blog means a lot to me, and so does my audience. In the future, I am hoping to bag myself a custom domain and become a paid member of WordPress, so I would really like to make this work. Thank you all for joining me on my journey. 💜

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Stew

Okay, for those of you who are familiar with my other blog, you will know that I am no domestic goddess. In fact, I am much more of a slap-dash, frozen food, stick-it-in-the-oven-and-time-it kind of gal. However, following doctor’s orders after slightly disappointing blood test results (cholesterol!) I have vowed to attempt to eat a little healthier. I say a little, because I’m certainly not going to turn into Nigella Lawson overnight. 

So today, I am attempting the above – slow cooker Italian chicken stew. Ryan is notoriously moany when it comes to casseroles and stews, so I’m going to team it with a serving of pasta, because he loves it.

Slow cooker Italian chicken stew.

serves: 8 | prep: 0:10 | cook 8:00

Ingredients

1.2kg mixed chicken thighs/drumsticks (I used diced chicken instead)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine

1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock

1 large brown onion

2 medium leeks, sliced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 x 400g tins diced tomatoes

1 tbsp rosemary, chopped

Method

Season chicken pieces well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Brown chicken in batches and place in slow cooker.

Pour wine and chicken stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Scrape down pan and pour over chicken pieces.

Place vegetables, tinned tomatoes rosemary into the slow cooker with chicken.

Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.

Serve with pasta or mashed potato and green vegetables.

AFTERWARDS..

It went down surprisingly well with Ryan. He shovelled it down, so either he was extra hungry, or the pasta trick worked. I, on the other hand, found it lacking in something, and that may have been the leek, which Asda failed to deliver in my home shopping (they were out of stock, or some baloney!) Also, I used red wine instead of white. 

Top marks for satisfying the kid, but I’ll be doing some tinkering with the ingredients next time until I get it right.