Back to School – Setting Goals

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

“You’ve Got Mail” – Nora Ephron

You’ve Got Mail is one of my favourite films. I just love cheesy chick flicks, that are usually so predictable you just know that the girl and guy who hate each other at the beginning will fall in love along with some kind of misunderstanding along the way. But there’s something about it too. I think it feeds into my love of New York but also the fact that it starts with “Fall” well Autumn here in England.

I love this quote because it makes me think of “Back to School” season. As I write this Jaxon is on his third day at school. After the first day, he said he wasn’t going back. Then yesterday morning he was a bit more for going to school. Today the debate was which side of the road we had to walk and then where to cross outside the school (there’s a pelican crossing but about five metres away there’s also a small traffic island in the middle of the road so you can wait for the lights to change and then still cross the road further along – if that makes sense!)

So what have I been up to with my days so far of “freedom”? Well, lots actually. I’m almost up to date on the washing and have managed to clear some other bits of clutter that have been gathering around the house. I even got the bedding and towels back into the airing cupboard instead of them migrating across the landing.

My bullet journal. On the left page there is a tick chart for the jumper I'm currently doing and on the right side is my to do list for the 6th September.

I may have got distracted by pretty highlighters too. Interesting colourful spreads make you more productive right?

Well I’m sure it might but not 100% I was as productive as I could have been!

Then I got onto longer-term goals. What did I want to achieve next week and in the rest of September? Well, I might have got to a “Before Christmas” stage as well but decided to pause that one.

SMART Goals.

So I don’t know about you but when it comes to making goals that aren’t just a “cross of a to do” kind of goal I often end up back at SMART goals. (For daily goals I sometimes try the 1-3-5 method that my friend Rickie introduced me to. 5 little tasks, 3 medium tasks and 1 big task each day rather than a long to-do list like I normally do. You can read more here).

Back to SMART goals, so let’s go back to the beginning. What does SMART stand for?

Specific – Make sure the goal is well defined. What do I want to accomplish? Why is the goal important? Who is involved? Where is it located? What do I need to achieve it?
Measurable –  Make sure the goal is obtainable – think about how will I know when it is accomplished? (For instance, rather than ride my bike more, I might set a goal like ride my bike 10 miles a week)
Achievable – how I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal?
Relevant – is the goal relevant? Does this seem worthwhile? But also is this the right time?
Time-Bound – Every goal needs an end day so that you have a deadline to focus on. Maybe it’s the day of a big race (like London Marathon is always around the 25th April – actually it’s nearly always the weekend before my birthday!)

My planner is definitely more of the appointments along with daily to do list kind of goals. I’ve decided to try and start a new insert in my standard TN for the longer goals. With Jaxon now being at school on weekdays, I’m trying to be more proactive and try and achieve some of those goals that I kept putting off because I couldn’t do them with Jaxon in tow.

September started with a lot of decoration, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and even if Anna’s September stickers weren’t technically HP and Hogwarts themed they did work perfectly (with some additions) to decorate the week leading up to what is the day everyone catches the Hogwarts Express to school. I paired the stickers with red and yellow washi. They were the closest I had to the Gryffindor colours (although I did discover at last year’s Jingle and Mingle that technically I’m a Hufflepuff. Have you booked your tickets for this year’s Jingle and Mingle? They are available here)

This post was originally shared on Mrs Brimbles’ Blog here

When FOMO and Comparison Take Over…

Around a decade ago, I started my first blog. I guess the Grandma of this one in a way. I would write about what I’d found on the internet that day or what had been going on. It had seen me through grief, happiness, becoming a superhero (of sorts), becoming a foster carer, dramatically changing jobs and becoming a mum.

But somewhere along the line I started worrying about what I was writing rather than just getting on with it. I was getting caught up in the SEO and readability of my posts, whether the post was in my niche and whether people would read it.

For along time Julie and Julia was one of my favourite films, even now it still is in the Top Ten. I loved how she’d cook and then blog about it and somehow the readers would come. Okay I get it wasn’t that simple and when Julie Powell was blogging about the Julie/Julia Project it was 2002/2003 and blogs were a new thing. We were on dial up and it was all about MSN Messenger!

Oh and of course the film gives a more glamourised version of what was going on. I used my Cineworld Unlimited card to go and see it at the cinema. By myself of course! I got home, got my copy of The Joy of Cooking by Irma Raumbauer off the book case and learnt how to make scrambled eggs properly. Wasn’t rocket science but up until then I had almost been scared of getting it wrong or something.

But I wanted to be that kind of blogger. And here is the issue. I think comparison and FOMO got the better of me. Rather than putting fingers to keys (or on the screen as I write this from bed when I should be sleeping!) I’d save yet another draft to my blog and then analyse and edit it until I was frustrated rather than happy and leave it there forever to be a draft and not to be read outside of the draft folder. Then I’d analyse the photos I’d taken and still not happy I would save the post again and back it would go into the draft folder. I think at last count I had around 20 drafts. Time to get them out into the world I think.

So here we go a line in the sand. I’m going to try to write for me. For the thoughts that belt around my head at midnight. For the thoughts that mean when my body is saying good night my brain is pleading “just five more minutes” in the way Jaxon does to avoid bedtime or to avoid going to school or church.

Monthly Review: August

I stumbled across Belle’s review posts over on her blog by accident and decided to attempt to revive my own Monthly Review posts. This is August’s review. You can see others here.


August

Highlights from August

  • August started with Chris being away at Newday. Combined with Jaxon being in the middle of the school holidays. Things felt a bit crazy all week.
  • Chris arrived home on his birthday. I hadn’t really made any plans because I didn’t know whether he’d want to go out or stay in but in the end we ended up going out for dinner. My brother and his wife were busy but Mum and Dad were able to join us for dinner which was lovely.
  • Across August, my Dad was amazing and had Jaxon once a week (Sometimes more depending on what was on) which mean I was able to buckle down and get lots of work things done which was great.
  • Once Auntie Rachel was back from her big adventure, she was able to have Jaxon as well for a few hours here and there which meant I was able to have some more “solo” time to clear the decks a bit more which was lovely and added to my gratitude.
  • Mum, Richard and I had decided we were going to see Antman and The Wasp. We asked Dad if he wanted to come and he said yes so we all went together. We got dinner at Wagamama’s beforehand. Not sure Dad was so convinced about it but we all loved the food again. I introduced everyone to Chicken Gyoza.

Top Posts Viewed in August

Projects Worked on in August

  • Stormy Skies Jumper (Pattern by Nicky at Handknits and Hygge)
  • Jaxon’s Jumper
  • Autumn Breeze Sweater (Pattern by Paintbox Yarns – downloaded from LoveKnitting)

Books Read in August

Series Watched (Not full seasons btw!)

  • Elementary
  • Doctor Who
  • Reverie
  • The Catch (Another Shonda Rhimes show!)
  • 9-1-1
  • For The People
  • Burden of Truth
  • Cheaspeake Shores
  • Instinct
  • Eight Go Rallying: Road to Saigon

Films watched

  • Girl in Progress
  • Of All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (Janel Parrish as a sort of “goodie” instead of her “Is she a goodie or baddie?” character in Pretty Little Liars was a little strange!)
  • PLaying nice
  • Brimming with Love
  • Freshman Father
  • Love Blossoms
  • Bramble House Christmas (it turned cold, I was doing Christmas planning, I kind of couldn’t resist! Don’t judge me!)
  • Birthday Wish
  • Jumanji (new one)
  • The Boss Baby
  • Moana
  • Frozen
  • The Clapper
  • Public Schooled
  • Love on the Slopes

Goals for September

  • Clear some of the UFOs (unfinished objects). Across the summer I started three projects and none of them are close to being finished so definitely going to work on those, especially the Stormy Skies Jumper. That is definitely more of a challenge with all the repeats etc and the fact it’s in the round for some of it but I am determined that I will finish it and not give up on it. Maybe if the boys go off for an adventure, I will take up residence on the sofa and work my way through the sleeves as far as I can.
  • Getting my small business back on the rails properly. I think a lot of the summer had been able keeping my head above water rather than actually getting anywhere. I’m hoping with Jaxon now being at school full time I’ll be able to get better at structuring my days and clearing the decks each day (rather than working into the evening/night instead of having self care time)

Self-Care in the Crazy Hannah Bubble

This was originally posted on Mrs Brimbles Blog here.

The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.

It might not be a broken bone or rash that is visible but mental health is important too. It’s massively important. Did you know that a lot of mental illnesses show with physical symptoms too? Sometimes it’s things like Insomnia or Hypersomnia, sometimes it’s things like a change in your diet or the way your body processes what you are eating. 

I would say I’m a bit of a logophile then again I thought something like etymologist would be more official (not to be confused with entomology which is the study of bugs! Always makes me think of Gil Grissom in CSI). I like reaching for a well-known search engine to look for the dictionary definition of terms (especially big words – the bigger the better sometimes! For instance, today I used discombobulated in a tweet during BedsHour!).

But what’s this got to do with my planner or journalling?

Well certainly this week has been about self-care. For one week in August, it all goes a bit crazy and Mum and I along with 15ish other volunteers run a Holiday Club at a local church. It always seems like a good idea then by the time we get to this week we start to question our sanity!

Along with this my amazing Dad and Sister in Law have taken Jaxon for a little across two days which meant I could try and get my head in the right place and clear the decks a bit!

I worked through my emails, wrote some tweets and did some work tasks but I didn’t make it to this week in my planner (As you can see below). It crossed my mind to do it Friday morning when Sister-in-Law had Jaxon but I woke up with a bad head and decided to snuggle on the sofa instead. (As Mum said, I was burning the candles at both ends and that’s why I’ve had a bad head twice this week!)

She’s exactly right. I get up with Jaxon around 8ish then I’m on Mum duty until he goes to bed. Because he’s been at Holiday Club too his bedtime has been later than usual. I’ve got home around 9pm and then started to try and fill in what I need to get done. Any parents who survive on minimal sleep because their kids think sleep is for the weak, I applaud you because I’m one spoilt Mummy when it comes to sleep! Ever since Jaxon was born he’s been a good sleeper overnight – nap time was a different story but overnight – I’m spoilt!

But on Thursday when my Dad/Jaxon’s Grandpa had Jaxon for nearly the whole day I managed to get September sorted out. With Jaxon starting school, I can see the monthly view coming in handy to make sure we’re organised and keeping up with washing uniform and things like that. When I saw the fairytale/woodland stickers, I wasn’t 100% sure they were my thing but then I got thinking about how as kids we’d go conker hunting in September and October once the leaves started to change and things like that. So I decided that I’d use them across the September Monthly and actually by the “end” I wanted to try and fit more stickers into the spread so actually decorated the first week of term too!

I cleaned down the kitchen table, got the tripod out and decided to go for it. I could edit out the rubbish parts and talk over it later when needed. As I was stood there mid filming, Our Sidekick arrived in the kitchen chatting away followed by Our Sidekick’s Social Worker coming for a visit. Part of me was tempted to load it at the end as a blooper reel! The SW got all excited about how my tripod was set up and how I was using my phone and things like that – It was kind of entertaining to listen back to it while editing! But we got there in the end! I think I’ll go back and do the August Monthly one as a memory keeping kind of thing because I’ve done zero journalling.

So when I’ve actually had time to do self-care, what have I been up to? Well, I’ve been knitting a jumper designed by a lovely lady called Nicky. It’s all knitted in one piece and from the neck down (Rather than back, front and two sleeves like most jumpers I’ve done in the past). It’s knitted in DK on 4mm needles so feels like it’s taking ages but it’s at a point now where I can do a couple of rows, put it back in my bag and carry on with something else so it’s perfect for knitting groups etc. This week I had two knitting groups. I ended up talking Disneyland Paris to one lady as she’s off on an adventure with her daughter, son in law and grandkids next year and wanted to know every piece of information I could bestow on her! I also caught up with my lovely friend who’s recently opened her own shop in town. The two knitting groups I attend are definitely my self-care slots. Even if I’m having

Well, I’ve been knitting a jumper designed by a lovely lady called Nicky. It’s all knitted in one piece and from the neck down (Rather than back, front and two sleeves like most jumpers I’ve done in the past). It’s knitted in DK on 4mm needles so feels like it’s taking ages but it’s at a point now where I can do a couple of rows, put it back in my bag and carry on with something else so it’s perfect for knitting groups etc. I’ve now got to the arms which have a lot of lacework so at least for a little bit it’s taken a back seat.

This week I had two knitting groups. I ended up talking Disneyland Paris to one lady as she’s off on an adventure with her daughter, son in law and grandkids next year and wanted to know every piece of information I could bestow on her! I also caught up with my lovely friend who’s recently opened her own shop in town. The two knitting groups I attend are definitely my self-care slots. Even if I’m having bad day and want to miss group, I know that if I can just get out of the house and get to the group after 10-15 minutes I will feel better. I know that once I get through the door someone will watch Jaxon if I just need to go have a little cry in the corner or someone will hug me tightly and tell me it will be okay, maybe not right away but it will be okay. And you know what, right now it’s exactly what’s needed.There’s  been various things on top of the holiday club crazy and I’ve been so grateful for those lovely ladies picking me up and giving me a hug.

This was written and submitted to Anna but now today Jaxon starts school and I can see things getting a little loopy again. I think once he’s in school this morning, I will feel that bit less stressed because he will be there and that will be the first day in progress but at the same time I’m still a bit anxious about how he will be in school and things like that. I spoke to a friend of mine who runs her own business amongst other things. She told me to take a break for a day or two. You’ve gone from being a “full time” Mum as far as Jaxon being with me all the time to now him being at school five days a week. Well, I had a few plans but when my friend said “Let’s catch up” it turned out that today is the best day for us both so I’m off to see her and her children for the morning which will be lovely. (and more self-care!)

That’s It – School Holidays DONE!

And like that, the school holidays have finished. 

Last week, Mum, Jaxon and I went to purchase school shoes. At the beginning of the week before we went shopping, I took a look on the Clarks website. Were they going to have Jaxon’s sizes and in the right styles for the school uniform list? His feet had changed a little bit but just half a size. It was also fine because they had shoes for him that would fit.

The young lady who was looking after us used the clever iPad and step measuring thing to measure Jaxon’s feet. I think he was nervous that he’d break the iPad by standing on it. After all if he stood on mine I think I would get very cross with him and he would have to sit in time out. 

He was really good and stood there as long as she needed him to. The young lady then went out to find a couple of sets of shoes that had velcro fastenings. Thankfully they actually did have a wide selection for school appropriate shoes in Jaxon’s size. He decided he liked the first pair and that was enough. We also tried on trainers as there was an offer on in Clarks. As part of his PE kit he’s supposed to have plimsolls or trainers with light soles that can be worn for indoor PE and things like that. However because he has insoles in his shoes, really he needs to have proper trainers rather than canvas plimsolls as they don’t give very much support. We tried to find a pair of trainers that had a light sole but were still fairly school approprate. In the end we’ve gone with black ones that have a black sole too. The one pair that Clarks did have in Jaxon’s size had a toggle fastening and wouldn’t have really been easy for him to get on and off.

It’s now Monday evening and Jaxon starts school in the morning. When I got up this morning there was a plan. Some of it went a little to pot when Jaxon fell down the stairs in Pizza Hut and then when we got caught in traffic. At Pizza Hut in Centre:MK, the toilets are upstairs. Having been up the stairs to the toilet we then came back downstairs to join the queue and be seated for food. We were about four steps from the bottom and Jaxon had just gone. I think he’d tripped over his own feet (getting used to his new trainers) and was slightly just out of reach of me so I couldn’t grab him. In the end he was okay but it did sort of throw me a little. Anyway, once I write this post and get my phone backed up then I think I can go to bed and that means I’m almost back on track. His uniform is laying out upstairs ready to go (down to pants and socks too because he’ll faff otherwise!). I think I am about to lay out my outfit for tomorrow so that I know that, that is done and ready to go and one less thing to think about in the morning! 

I’d read this on one of my friend’s feeds on FB and then shared it: 

Dear Teacher,

“I know you’re rather busy, first day back, there’s just no time, a whole new class of little ones and this one here is mine.

I’m sure you have things covered and have done this lots before, but my boy is very little, he hasn’t long turned four. 

In his uniform this morning, he looked so tall and steady, but now beside your great big school, I’m not quite sure he’s ready. 

Do you help them eat their lunch? Are you quick to soothe their fears? And if he falls and hurts his knee will someone dry his tears? 

And what if no-one plays with him? What if someone’s mean? What if two kids have a fight and he’s caught in between? 

You’re right, I have to leave now it’s time for him to go I’m sure he’ll learn so much from you, things that I don’t know. 

Yes, I’m sure they settle quickly, that he’s fine now without me, I know he has to go to school, it’s just so fast. 

You see, it seems like just a blink ago I first held him in my arms, it’s been my job to love, to teach, to keep him safe from harm. 

So, when I wave goodbye in a moment and he turns to walk inside, forgive me if I crumple into tears of loss and pride.

I know as I give him one more kiss and watch him walk away, that he’ll never again be wholly mine as he was before today.

By Emma Robinson. Source: Poem – Motherhood for Slackers. Photo – Working Mother

I shared this on my Facebook and I needed to share where my heart was at and somehow this got it. I’m excited that he’s going to school and that he’s going onto newer things but he’s still that little boy that I cradle when he cries, he’s that little boy who uses me as a human climbing frame then kisses me on the cheek for no reason. Jaxon has been to preschool or he’s been out with family but we’ve always still spend a lot of the week together. From tomorrow that all changes, and although I’m excited for him and I want him to learn things and be able to achieve greatness. He’s still my little boy, he’s only just four. He seems so little in his uniform that’s kind of too big for him. 

So the school holidays are done and Jaxon’s been to his last Lemon and Ginger knitting group this morning. He’ll be back in the school holidays but that won’t be until October. It’s the same with Cofffee Morning – he won’t be back until February Half Term because of where it falls and then he’ll be four and a half. (I think cake might have to be smuggled home when possible!)