Monday, 21 July 2014

Une Question...

For those of you who don't speak ANY French, the above title is not pronounced with an English accent... Just thought I'd say that. And I suppose, on this basis, our French has improved a little in that we use regularly phrases (like I say 'C'est terrible' to F) like the above. I still don't think of it as French or that mine has improved much... Oh and I considered watching 'Planes 2' in French on Sunday. But couldn't quite face it. *sigh* Now I'm cross that they're not showing it any more and F is freaking at Dragons 2. But anyway, this is all TOTALLY off the topic of actually what I am posting about today...

Just to detract for a second again as well: aren't you lucky people that after I said I wasn't sure if I'd keep this blog going, I'm writing a 2nd post in a DAY?! What I may try to do is actually write the posts as I think of them, and publish at the same time. I'm a bit too much of a perfectionist normally to do that...

Anyway, soooo. A question.

I posted this on the facebook page:
I can't annoyingly, seem to get it horizontal. The red bag has a strap inside. And quite a few pockets. It is also twice the price of the yellow bag. The yellow bag is nicely simple and bright. But I like red. My question. Which bag do I keep?

Why am I asking such a question? Well for a few reasons and this post actually kinda made sense to me. I have just subscribed to notifications by 'The Minimalists' and this particular post, the last part where it says minimalism means different things to different people, really really does sum it up for me.

I do feel guilty about returning to work but part of me has justified it from the minimalist angle (as opposed to other minimalists who are that way in order to be able to stay at home). I could probably quite easily get by without either of these bags. And if I was to be truly sensible, I'd make my lunch each day and then leave my purse (out of view) in my car at work. But I figure it would be nicer to have a bag to take my purse into work in. Admittedly, realising it will probably only be my purse initially makes me feel a bit silly but I'm a girl, right?

And that is my big issue and fight with myself. I don't plan to raise my daughters to think that because they're girls they have to fit a stereotype, I sure as hell don't consider it myself. I am a strong believer that any female can achieve anything they want. It's not always easy and it's not the same, but they can do it. So why why why have I chosen to spend money on a bag, or in this case 2 bags, justifying it with 'because I'm a girl, right?' I hate myself for it. And then I think, if I hate myself for it, why not just take both bags back and be sensible about it. But I like them. *sigh* Being a girl and aspiring to be a bit more minimalist and maybe not the 'normal' lifestyle is sure tough at times.

So, which bag do you think I should keep? Or do you think I should keep neither? 

Toddler Thursday... On Monday!

Just having an impromptu art ('arts & crafts, mummy?!' As f said;)) session:

I experimented briefly from mixing paint with water & this was just normal paint. F changed her mind from blowing to using the straw as a brush... Toothpicks next! :)  This particularly worked because the table was clear! :)

I then showed F how to paint and fold the paper over... This resulted in the brilliant phrase 'can you get a plaster for it mummy?' because the paper tore and I got some sellotape for it! <3 a soon to be precocer! ;)

Hubby & I happened to have cleared the table up amongst other things last night so I was able to just put the cloth on and get it set up pretty quickly...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Job Prep...

I have now stopped my last declutter for a few reasons but I am preparing to start work in other ways. The next few months are going to be very busy for a variety of reasons:

  1. I start full time work on 1st August and my daughters start creche full time, at a different creche. The creche is also a little further away for the moment.
  2. In September there's a 2nd hand sale that I'm planning to try selling baby things at. It's 2 days before F starts precoce. So another 'milestone'.
  3. In October it's  Z's 1st birthday. I've already come up with a theme and bought some of the things for it. Well most of the decorations etc. So hopefully the most challenging part is complete.
  4. November sees us hopefully moving house and I'm having my 2nd 30th birthday. I was ill and Z was very young when it was actually my 30th so I figured I'd just celebrate this year instead. Which although it seemed a great idea at the time, now it's another thing...
  5. December is of course, Christmas! (and we'll have just moved house)

Soooo whilst minimalism to most people often means having more time to spend with their children and giving up work, I've found that now I really want to return to work. I hope that the time I do spend with my family and children as a result will be much better quality. Andddd because my children will be at creche or precoce all day, I expect them to need less toys because they won't be home as much to play with them. And the biggest thing I have seemed to read about minimalism is that it fits into what works for you.

I am planning tomorrow to do a lot of bulk cooking so I don't have to worry too much about food in the forthcoming weeks and months (the contract is 4 months initially so we'll see). Fish pie, 2 different chilli con carne (to use up some ingredients in the cupboard) and hopefully some macaroni cheese...

I've pretty much finished the latest decluttering and am just waiting for the 2nd hand sale in September, to hopefully get sold some of this stuff! It's getting crazy... I have also decided to wait until the girls start creche before deciding what other toys etc to potentially get rid of. Z has 3 baby toys 'out' at the moment & actually only really plays with 1. F's toy bins were at only 2 full, now all 6 (different sizes) are full again, following her birthday. So whilst I am kind of itching to par them down, I figure it can wait.

I have mostly sorted their clothes out. They have way more than they need but they still fit into a drawer each (plus I'm pretty sure it's under 33 items for each, I did do a quick count) and being summer and a transitional time, I'm not going to worry too much more for now... Also F has developed a very stubborn personality so we're lucky to get her to choose her own clothes and put them on, right now!

So most of my lounge is stacked up with stuff for sale and it's driving me bananas but I guess there's not long now until the sale, thankfully...
Tomorrow as well as bulk cooking I've just informed hubby that we must fill in Z's 'record' book 'cos otherwise we're going to forget all the things she's done and when! I can just about remember she got 4 teeth at about 7 months... :/
Their momento suitcase & I still have lots of photo's to sort out. I have gone through my email inbox & folders and my pc folders. It is just photo's. Those damn photo's...

For now, I think that's all. I am sorry that the blog has been so quiet but I've been trying to keep up with both girls and I suspect it will continue, as I transition back into working full time for an international company that is incredibly busy (and I'm going to be working in their very busy department). As they are very well known I am not going to say their name as I don't want to jinx anything.

I have considered closing this blog, in case anyone is wondering but I want to see how things go for now...

Friday, 11 July 2014

Top 3 Job Finding Tips.

The days of finding a job easily have kind of passed. A friend said a few years ago in the 80's when she was hunting the first time there was more than 1 job available per job hunter. A lot more. Even in my employment time frame, in 2003 jobs weren't too hard to find. In 2009 ish finding a job quickly and easily was a much bigger challenge. But I've always managed to, despite the challenge. And my mother said last week 'if anyone can find a job, it's you'. Which got me thinking. And today I thought id share my tips:

1. Follow EVERY single teeny tiny 'lead'. 
What do I mean by that? Well what inspired me to write this is I missed most of a good friends fight at Krav Maga (higher belts do a 2 minute free fight for their grading) to get the email address of someone. He offered to pass my cv on. It probably won't come to anything as he's in a different field & I already know someone at that company. But never ever assume, follow just in case.
When we first moved to Newbury in 2003 I literally took email addresses on the bus and sent my cv. 

2. There's no limit to how many agencies you can register at. 
I saw an agency on the back of a bus saying 'we want you'. I didn't know until I looked it up but anything like that should immediately spark your interest. You shouldn't have to pay an agency. As a recruitment agency companies give them jobs to source and they have to put you forward for those jobs. When they fill the job they are then paid commission from that new person's wage, by the company. During this job hunt I have had a company make suggestions on how to improve my cv and then email me daily with their package offers. I don't want them. 

3. When times get tough, try the unusual.
I have never actually got a job this way BUT I have had an interview. When I get really desperate and fed up, I print a lot of cv's off and do what I call 'cold calling cv drop'. I either drive to a business park I'd like to work at or I find somewhere with lots of businesses and I go in, give my CV and say what I'm looking for. I've literally just done something similar here - I heard of a job that would have been ideal at a company and said company is next door to where I was. I heard through an agency so it's very likely the position has already been filled but I still went in and handed in my CV and I've just rung and followed through to emailing their HR department. It may well not come to anything but it might and if you try hard for these things something comes up.

Don't get disheartened. My mum and a new friend have both said that you have to make a full time job out of looking for a full time job. You have to be incredibly flexible. I started looking last Monday. By Tuesday I was thoroughly fed up but had applied for a job. Wednesday I registered at agency number 1 in person and was put forward for 2 jobs. Friday at 5pm I got an interview for this week. And if the job I've just interviewed for doesn't come to fruition, I've applied for 2 other positions and a speculative option. And to think my husband said it couldn't be done! ;)

P.S. Writing this half a week later: I got a job offer! The first interview I had was a temporary job that I was offered! I am sure there's exceptional circumstances to this situation - they needed someone quickly and being temporary if I'm rubbish they can just end my contract but my point is that it IS doable! In 2 weeks I found something... Oh and another exception: Luxembourg has a low unemployment rate so I'm sure given that I was determined to find something plus this fact means it was easier. Butttt as a friend said, you have to be proactive and persistent...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Not so minimalist... Why I use cloth nappies.

I follow minimalist ideas and am trying to implement certain things. I say trying because a lot of ideas I hear I don't succeed with, but I'm trying...

One thing I do that is not minimalist but I am certainly not giving up on: cloth nappies. I never even really thought about cloth nappies until F was approaching 1 years old. I can't remember what made me think of trying them. Then someone who lives in Luxembourg told me nappies were mega expensive here and I decided to give it a go. I joined some groups on facebook because I literally had no idea where to start. I bought 2 of various types of nappy from a website... And I entered the massive, wonderful and very confusing world of cloth nappies.

I was surprised to learn that Minimalist Mom uses cloth nappies. There are numerous websites that sell cloth nappies, you can buy on ebay ('ebay cheapies') and there's a lot of terminology out there that's confusing ('fluff', 'stash'). So I'm going to tell you what I do. It's the simplest system for me. I know others who do different things who think their choice is easiest. So I'm not saying my system is simplest.

I bought various types of a type of nappy called 'all in 2/ai2'. I read up on different types of nappies and wanted something that I could change the inside, absorbent part but was quick drying. It seemed the best type. Lots of brand names make these types, as well as far cheaper sellers on ebay. There's also different styles - from a long strip of material that folds into the nappy, to strips that press stud into the nappy.

This is my current 'stash' or collection of cloth nappies and no, I did not buy them all in one go at the beginning:


This is our nappy changing table and I thought I'd include this picture as there's a few things that come with using cloth:

Above the table is 2 hooks (coincidence but useful) and on the left is 2 mesh drawstring bags. One is in a bin that I put the dirty nappies in, the other sits there ready for when they're in the wash. The other hook has a large wet bag (I bought it for something else and they're useful) and a cloth bag that I put empty packets of wet wipes in. I keep them for a charity that recycles them. If we must use them I want to minimise the negativity. 

To the right of the table holds a bin that has dirty disposables: wet wipes and nappies. Hubby prefers disposable wet wipes, creche use disposable nappies & sometimes it's just easier.
There's also a box that holds cloth wipes & spray. I use 'CJ's' - they have a spray for nappy rash & also cleaning spray (with names like 'monkey farts'!) that are ok for cloth nappies. To be honest I don't worry too much about whether things are ok on cloth but they smell gorgeous so I have them to hand... I also have a roll of flushable liners. 

So I lay Z on the table (didn't have this with F by the way), undo the nappy and wash her: I spray her with the spray (which mostly she giggles at) and use some wipes to wash her. I put the flushable liner either into the bin if it's just wet or if it's a soiled I put it to one side or ask F to put it in the toilet. I then roll the nappy and used wipes up and put in the bin to my right hand side, that has 1 of the mesh bags in. I then take a new nappy from the front of the box you can see. I put a flushable liner in it from the roll.  I then put the nappy on. It takes exactly the same length of time as using a disposable for me. The part that takes longer is that when the bin gets full of dirty nappies, which is normally every other day, I then chuck the bag in the wash. I use the same detergent I use for everything else for simplicity, I just use a little less (if you use the normal amount it affects the absorbency of the cloth, detrimentally). I put it on a normal wash and dry cycle, taking 5 hours, so normally overnight. Then for ease of use, I have to ensure all the 'inserts' are correct, so I sit with a basket of nappies & sort them all out and put them in the box. But it really doesn't take long and mothers that use cloth normally find it enjoyable, I think.

There is special nappy sprays, ways to wash with extra rinse cycles and all sorts. But I find this way is easiest for me. Nothing different or complicated for me to remember. They have some minor staining and when I plan to sell them, when Z potty trains, I'll worry about the staining. Yes, you can buy 'preloved' cloth nappies so I can sell them in the future...

Oh and lastly, I didn't use cloth with F until she was over 1 years old. I planned to use it on Z when she was born but frankly had so many issues and lack of sleep that just getting out of bed for F was challenging enough! So I think she was about 4 months old when I started using my old 'stash'. It was good to have them to hand though, for when we ran out occasionally of disposable nappies...

Cloth/Reusable Wet Wipes:
I had been using cloth nappies for about a year with F and then started using them with Z (she was about 4 months old) and decided to try cloth wet wipes. They are far easier for me to use as you chuck them in the wash with the nappy. And of course, on the topic of money and the environment, of course they're better.

You can use fleece liners and wash them out. But I feel that's more of a faff. I could also wash the flushable liners (when it's just urine) but they clogged up our washing machine more than once so hubby has insisted we bin them. So yes, I just have a roll of flushable liners, they sit on top of the cloth and then if baby does a poo you can just take both ends of the liner and flush. No hassle. I even get F to take them to the toilet and she actually cried the other day because I didn't give her the chance! ;)

A wholeeeee different kettle of fish: 'cloth menstration pads/ CMP':
You're probably thinking 'whattttt?!' and when we first heard about it, our initial reaction was 'ewwww'. But you can buy (or make) using the same materials, cloth pads to use when you have a period. I don't use them so I don't really know much about them. Here's a post that features briefly what I am moving over to using.

Family wipes:
The same as you can use cloth reusable wipes for babies, you can also use them instead of toilet roll for the whole family. We don't. Because frankly, my hubby would have a fit - he uses cloth nappies willingly enough but wipes have been a lot more of a challenge so trying to get him to use 'family wipes' is not going to happen. Also, to be honest, I'm not that good. I don't really want to be washing that much. I started using cloth not so much for the environment.

Oh and in case you haven't heard, you can also get 'kitchen roll' made from cloth. It's done in sheets that are press studded. Again, we do not. Partly because it's just an expensive way of having 'spare rags' to hand as far as I can tell. But if you're interested it does exist.

Cost/ Ways to make it cheaper:
I didn't do it as cheaply as I could, mostly for time and effort. I could have just bought lots of 'ebay cheapies' and a fleece sheet from somewhere like Ikea. Then cut the latter up into liners and wipes. But I bought some 'preloved' 'cheeky wipes' from a group on facebook and as I say, use flushable liners. I also have a total variety of nappies. 

You can also buy 'personalised' nappies. But these of course, cost more. I have some. Then there's dresses that match and show off the nappies - I have a Very Hungry Caterpillar dress and nappy. I think I'll probably keep them for my daughters to play with when they're older. Hubby hates it for some reason.

Ok, I use cloth for 2 main reasons: 
1. I just plain like it. I prefer the cute nappies to disposables. I don't mind doing a bit of extra washing. I keep disposables on hand so we do use them for certain occasions.
2. Cost. In mainland Europe brand name disposable nappies cost a lot. Admittedly I now use Auchan's own brand environmentally friendly nappies when I have to, but they're still not cheap.

I did no research whatsoever into the negativities of disposable nappies before I bought cloth. My friend has told me some of the negative points that she heard of. And in a quick google search, this post seems to give a lot of information in case you're interested:

Sooo, I finally did my 'cloth nappies' post for you! I <3 my cloth nappies. I will actually be upset and probably cry when Z potty trains. And I'll keep some of them for the girls to play with when they're older. My friend who uses cloth here made for F's 2nd birthday a little cloth nappy, wipes and bag set - I don't know who loved it more, me or F! ;) So cloth is a big part of my life as a mother now. But it's also not the be all and end all. I don't expect creche to use it (they refused and I'm not dedicated enough to argue in French, frankly). I don't judge or care what others do. And if I'm 100% honest, whilst it's lovely to think it's better for the environment, I couldn't really give a stuff and that is certainly not why I do it. This is just intended as an informative post for anyone who's interested...

Friday, 4 July 2014


On Facebook I said it would be easier to write a post. So here it is:

We recently went on a cruise. It was amazing but involved us buying the girls a lot of clothing. I said at the time that z was about to go into 9-12 month clothing so maybe we should buy in that size but hubby vetoed. I am now kicking myself. Cos we sorted their clothing last night. And it is ridiculous...

When I was pregnant with z I went through all the stored clothing - we had saved everything - and donated a lot. Well, having gone through it again last night we could easily donate half of it again! And no this is not due to time of year...

F was premature & despite my app insisting she's currently on the 50th percentile the same as z, she was in certain clothing for a long time & well past those ages. 3-6 months at a year, for example. So it's been great that z seems to be 'normal' & wear 3-6 month clothing at 3-6 months... This has meant she's gone through the stored clothes very quickly which as we're still adding to them & there's only so much room is a relief. We were given, for example, a bag of 5 year old clothing. F is just 3 years...! Hubby accidentally allowed f to pull the bags out & open them (labelled with perm pen vacuum sealed bags under f's bed) so the clothes needed checking & sorting so as z was going up a size last night we did it...

Omg! It took all night - we finished just before 10pm - to get them out, sort into sizes and store in bags. Then I went through the 9-12 month clothing & managed to get rid of at least half. We've been given clothing since she was born for example so she now has 8 dresses, before she had about 3 I think... She'll be starting crèche full time from next month so need different sorts of clothing. 

So I'm now severely kicking myself because we bought lots of clothing in 6-9 months for her (both their drawers before were fine, now are jam packed) and she's only going to get a few weeks wear out of a lot of it. The only small consolation is that I donate their clothing to 'Giving At Lux' (don't have friends with young enough babies) so I know it'll go to people who need it... 

The nice plus side is that I had a bit of a trip down memory lane last night with the new clothes - some of which F wore when we moved to Luxembourg so that was a bit weird - & there'll be another photo soon of F in a dress & Z in the same... F must have been just over a year so different ages, but still interesting I think... 

I will properly edit this later (done) but post now to get it finished... 

And I have a Toddler Thursday to write when I can! We made a sock rabbit yesterday, this is our last month at home and she'll be a 'precocer' in a few months... (Tho Z looks like she may overtake with the toddling...)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Day 2 & a quick update...

This is going to be a MEGA quick update as it's 10 to 11pm and I'm tired.

Well I haven't succeeded in getting dressed in work clothes or buying new trousers yet. But that's because I have spent virtually every waking minute thinking about or contributing to a job search. I have registered or checked how to register at about 4/5 agencies, I have mentioned to friends and as such emailed my CV to 2 friends, I have looked online. And today I applied for a job that I am really positive about! I wrote my letter of 'reasons for applying', read it to hubby and to my mother. Hubby disagreed that I was waffling and repeating myself so I was really pleased about that. And my mother was even more complimentary so we'll see. And applications aren't even looked at until 15th July so I have a bit of 'breathing space' where I can't affect it...

In the mean time I took the girls to a play date this morning that was awesome and then raced back and was late for my French lesson. My teacher seems to be implying I need to step up a gear and stop making excuses, which I agree with. But right now it's not number 1 on my list.

So tomorrow my plans are to FINALLY after 3 days of living in a tip, tidy our house, photograph items for sale and advertise on facebook groups - a friend has had a lot of luck so I'm hopeful that one last ditch attempt may work - and then in the afternoon register with at least one agency. I have filing to catch up on and the entire house to go through and 'declutter'.

I want to get a good head start on the moving house process. The less we have the easier the move will be. And it occurred to me today that I'm going to try to approach this job starting business like I did having a baby. Making meals in advance and getting the house 'ready'. So that when I do start the job (1st August, remember?!) I won't have to think about a backlog of jobs to be done at home and cooking dinners, they'll be in the freezer, washing will be easy to sort out and as the girls in childcare with less 'stuff' in the house, I hope it'll be easier to look after...
So I'm really pleased after feeling a bit fed up today, that having re-assessed the situation, it's only day 2 and I've managed to get some good leads, at the very least. I am also very much looking forward to being able to tidy my house and have it a bit easier to live in from tomorrow! Now to bed, to attempt a good night's sleep in order to be able to achieve all these things...