Can’t Fail If Ya Don’t Start!

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Introduction To The Memory Jar – Video Link

I always find it surprising when people remember things about me.
Little things rather than big ones. Such as cuppa preference, or when my birthday is, or whether I enjoy watching sports. I find it surprising when people can find out that kind of information, and keep it locked away in their mind.

I struggle with my memory. I’ve been called out on it by friends before, but I think people presume I am too lazy or ditzy to recall key pieces of information. When it’s a real struggle sometimes, and it worries me more than I usually let on.  So to live with a memory that has always been a little… lacklustre, for people to demonstrate hugely impressive feats of memory recall will always impress the hell out of me!

You were able to make your brain give you the right bit of info? Hell, your brain stored the info in the first place?! Wow. I am in awe.

As I’ve grown, I’ve come to associate memory usage and allocation to be directly proportional to how important a ‘thing’ it is that is being remembered.

So as a bear with very little brain, this became a tool that started to chip away at my sense of self.

Each time I couldn’t remember something, or remember it quick enough, it meant that I was being disrespectful, and a disrespectful person by extension.

So where are we going with this?

While the damage I have done to mental wellbeing and sense of self is extensive, there are moments of brightness that I perhaps would not have had chance to experience without the damaging journey to get there.

This is a story about feeling that burst of joy that fills your whole body when you realise that YOUR little details matter. It is almost euphoric. It explodes within you when you recieve a token or a gesture that shows soeone has taken the time to remember something about you and done something thoughtful with that information.

Everyone loves to feel appreciated, no doubt. Imagine that feeling of appreciation, coupled with a sudden blast of self worth in the void of self hatred. It’s intense. It’s intoxicating.

This is a feeling I got when an old friend of mine got me Starbucks and had the barista write my old nickname on it. I felt it when a woman I met once 6 months ago remembered I was doing a degree in Social Work and asked how it was going. I feel it when friends drive slow around country roads as they know I get motion sickness (although it might be less concern for me, but concern over their car’s interior!).

And I felt it this Christmas, when I opened some presents from my Dad.

A Kilner Jar. Some notepaper, and some pens.

In my last youtube video, I had mentioned – almost in passing – that I had always wanted to do a year long memory jar but never got around to it.

So my Dad and Stepmum helped remove the obstacle (myself!) so I could get around to it for reals.

The theory being that I’ll be making a conscious effort to notice the little positive moments in each day, noting them down to reread in a years time as I reflect on the time that has passed.

The dark days may find it useful too. The days where the nasty voice is curled right up in your brain and tarnishing every thought that comes through your head, the days where the black dog is lying right in your lap. Those are the days when I will be able to open up this little memory jar and see honest, tangible reminders that there is some good out there in my life.

So I’ve started noting down positive moments, and I’ve started vlogging some of them. Of course I shan’t share everything that goes into the memory jar, but even having it as a potential long running themed series is enough of a prospect for me to trick my brain into doing interesting and satisfying stuff.

I’ll be keeping the videos short as much as possible, and write more in depth thoughts on each moment here instead. That way I get to vent my soul, you get some juicy life stories to read, and I can condense my videos to be more engaging!

My hope with the videos is that by sharing positive stories, other people will think about and share their own positive stories, creating little ripples of positivity throughout the world.

Even if that world, is just your own. xx

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All of Summer in Just One Weekend.

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What kind of person sees a pile of cow poop on the floor, and decides THIS is the medium in which to express their joy at being in an area of outstanding natural beauty?

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I love this!
Even a big pile of shit can be joyful, and can bring joy if you just tweak it a little bit. It depends on how you view it, and what work you’re willing to put in to make a really shitty moment or situation a more positive experience!
I might be projecting too much here…

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The weekend of the 25th of August felt like the busiest few days we had ALL summer!

With the boys being away so much in the first 3 weeks of the holidays, and serious financial tightness felt for the latter few weeks, we honestly didn’t do much in the way of traditional Summer Holiday fun.

No trips to the beach, no  picnics out and about, no BBQ’s.

We spent a lot of time just hanging out around our new home, tinkering with room configurations and doing odd bits of painting and decorating. Sam was outside a lot playing on the street with his friends, and Callum would spend time online with his more distant friends.

But for the weekend of the 25th, we did ALL OF THE THINGS!
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Sam’s friend Roo came up from London and stole my baby away, so they could celebrate Roo’s birthday early. In return we stole her big kid Orlando and let him and Callum loose in the kitchen!

You know teenage boys have FEROCIOUS appetites, right? Turns out teaching them how to prepare their own food is the BEST thing you can do to save your sanity and efforts.

They cooked their own lunch, and made a few batches of pancakes! Not fully supervised or supported. I was hiding away in the next room while they did it. Close enough to run to aid if one of the kids stuck their hand in a blender (NO boys, you do NOT need a blender to make pancakes!) but far enough away I didn’t have to listen to their teenager boy humour.

Saturday felt very special, because we had visitors that I’ve not seen in freaking YEARS!
My niece and nephew live waaaaay south of us. It costs a small fortune and at least two vital organs to get the train to their area, so we’ve not been down to visit them since my boys father and I were still together.

The last time I saw my niece and nephew was about 4 years ago, when my littlest niece was still a wee baby.

They came with my ex brother in law whom I also hadn’t seen in a long while, and we were able to spend the day hanging out.

And by hanging out, it seems that means playing party games like Quiplash, and realising just how dark and twisted these young peoples heads actually are.

I wonder where they get it all…

With 7 of us playing the game together, there was such a great atmosphere in the room, with everyone laughing at one another’s jokes, and lots of fun mild natured ribbing.  Each player uses their phone or tablet to join an online session, led by the main game based on either a console or a computer.  In Quiplash, you need to try and make the funniest answer to a shared question prompt.

For example, one question we got was:
What would be the worst Salad Dressing?

Answers that were submitted were PEE and PHLEGM.
Cue vomit noises. Ugh.
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I adore how quickly Quiplash can bring people together, and pulls down any delusions people may have about one another being decent people!

After a god few rounds of Quiplash and other Jackbox.,tv games, I managed to rally all of the kids (and adults) outside into the sunlight and fresh air. Once everyone had acclimatised, an epic battle commences along the street, with all kids brandishing weapons and trying to defeat the opposing team!

And once everyone had been brutally murdered and/or got bored of capture the flag, out come some other items to play with, like devil sticks and musical instruments.

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Not only did Uncle Tim come play outside (woah) in the sunlight (Woah!), he also WILLINGLY  engaged in some object manipulation! Tim and Devil Sticks go so well together.

And when someone has a high level of enthusiasm for olde style black and whiten movies, he gets turned into his own black and white movie star!

Also, turns out my Niece Tegan is a natural talent at the Ukulele! I lent her our spare Uke to take away with her while she was staying with her grandparents, and by the time she left to go back home, she had bought herself a brand new Ukulele just for her!

I love the Ukulele. It’s almost impossible for it to sound bad.

No. That is not a challenge!

 

We were lucky enough to go on a trip to the lake on Sunday. Roo and Orlando’s Mum had hired a car, and drove us out there in two runs. We picniced, played in the water, and created all sorts of wonderful tools and contraptions and fires!

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The kids tended to separate off into their pairs, with the little ones playing mostly in the water, and the big kids conspiring on how to build a raft from dead wood around them, using tools they were making themselves from scratch out of sharp rocks, wood and string!2017-08-27 17.38.49

The lakeside day felt really amazing. It was pretty warm but not too much, and sitting by the lake listening to the gentle waves was almost hypnotic!

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Sam decided to build a fire, and what started out as a fun joke for him, turned into a real goup activity! Between all of us there that day, we managed to get a solid little fire going! It took some work mind. I mean, out of the 6 of us there that day, 4 of us are involved in Scouting, surely it should have been easier than it was!

It was an amazing day all around.

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And once we returned home we had my Niece and Nephew over again for a sleepover! It was legot the first time they had stayed over with us, and we did our best to ensure a safe and wholesome evening. (Read: we were introduced to Attack on Titan and binge watched the show ALL NIGHT!)

We did more things, and saw more people this weekend than we had done for most of the rest of summer. And it took some times to catch my breath afterwards and adjust back to having some peace in the house…

Sometimes I would rather have Quiplash than peace and quiet.

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Week One Status: Survived!

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It’s the weekend!!

We survived the week, just about.

A small bout of vomiting and incessant headache on Thursday (Me) and a potential vom situation on Friday night (Sam) is just par for the course of a first week, right?

We’ve all struggled getting back into an early morning /early to bed routine. For a family of night owls, mornings are never easy. We have to have a super strict morning routine in order to survive, or else the whole situation becomes one of demonic screaming (me), frustration (also me) and tears (the children).

I’m not a hugely routiney person normally. I’m a bit too lazy in all honesty, but having a set routine for the mornings means I have even more opportunities for laziness!

I might appear to advocate for self-sufficiency and independence in my children, but there is definitely an influence from my laziness.

Routine means you don’t need to think, or prompt (as much). It helps that the kids are older, but by knowing that to expect next, and what they have to do next, is a huge help.

I totally SUCKED at routines when the kids were little though. I couldn’t pick out the kids own personal routines (How long since their last feed? Do they always shit a 2am? Is it every half hour they wake up and cry?) and I was so swamped with Mum brain that I couldn’t even think about trying to create a routine. Early parenting for me was just a series of reactions and responses. No forward thinking, little planning and foresight. It was just taking one day at a time.

Maybe it was the post natal depression? Maybe thinking each day that I wanted to run away from parenting wouldn’t allow me to plan and think and assume that tomorrow would come. I couldn’t bear to deal with another bout of feeding, a period of crying (and baby) another nappy to change. Dealing with each of those moments as they came rather than planning for them may have helped it seem slightly less overwhelming.

Hey, I never said these were good coping mechanisms!

I hadn’t thought so far ahead to consider talking about my post natal depression experience, but I think it’d be interesting to write about in more depth in a dedicated post.

The Last of the Summer Weekends.

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QUICK!

Squeeze in the last bits of summer fun!

 

Lets go see some dinosaurs!

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Lets play at the park with our friends!Screenshot 2017-09-03 19.08.58

 

Lets build stuff with scrap wood!

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Lets have a friend over!

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Lets play with our new Bunny!

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And lets end the holidays with some sparklers

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So the last weekend has been pretty jam packed.
And a little stressful. As it always is going back to school after some time off. I mean, how on earth did these shoes fit these kids feet just 6 weeks ago? And what do you mean the school uniform is still in the washbasket after the last day of school in July?!

But for now, the summer is over. Lets get to bed early ready for another year.

It is NOT a Game – Weekend Tales Vlog

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Vlog Post Here

FRIDAY

Okay, full disclosure, it was a game. Mulitple games. It was games night with our friends Wendy and Rob.

A great deal of deliberation was taken in choosing the games we were gonna play. We took Upwords, we took Guess Who, Pictionary, Bears vs Babies, Frustration…

But the night ended up with us all mostly playing Quiplash!

Never played Quiplash? Now that’s a real shame, as it’s hysterical!

Being a party game, you need a few people around to play it. That has happened a lot the past few weeks over the holidays, so we’ve played it so much.

Every player uses their phones or tablets, and writes their own answer to a shared prompt from the game. Funniest answer wins by popular vote.

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Depending on the company you keep (or create, if you’re playing with your own kids) what counts of ‘funny; may vary wildly!

And as my children are (almost) as crass, sarcastic, filthy minded and shameless as me, it results in a very quick degeneration into the bottom of the comedy barrel.

What’s That Stain? JIZZ!!

BLANK for Tots? TITS FOR TOTS!

“Mum…. how do you spell Anal?!” – My youngest kid.

Yeah, it got gross FAST!

Wendy and Rob both seemed to really get into it too though, and the board games – so well intentioned and wholesome, were abandoned in favour of gutter mouth style humour.  There were breaks for Mario Kart and Pizza of course, but e kept coming right back to Quiplash.

Honestly, if you can get the game and get a few friends round, give it a go!

SATURDAY

We were going to go to a local geek convention today, but factoring in the entrance costs, the train fare, meals (either bought out or picnic’d) and merch availability, we just could not afford to go.

We did make the best of it as we stayed home, and had an enjoyable day. As both boys went off to play their own stuff, I sat down to watch 13 going on 30.
(Maybe you can see some name inspiration there…. I adore this movie!)

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Mmm dat dress! Dat dance!

Both kids just happened to pass through the room as it started. Probably on their way to the kitchen as it had been at least 12 minutes since they last had a snack. (#EndlessSummerSnacks) And they sat down and watched the whole thing with me!

I like sharing movies with my boys so much more when i don’t feel I am forcing them to enjoy the same stuff just cause I adore it.

After movies and dinner and normal hanging out alone in different rooms, Sam played out with his friends. I love how well Sam is doing socially now there are kids around. It’s a bit tough at times for him, but it’s such a big difference for him to have other kids around to play with and actually going out to play because he wants to!

SUNDAY

Of course, I almost forgot to film. That’s how low key our Sunday was.

Although Callum and I did gang up in order to fight past the sock guarding cat and steal away with appropriate foot coverings to protect my feet as I ventured out into the great outdoors.

(Read: The cat was sat in the sock bag.)
(Also, we don’t sort or match socks, we have a family communal sock bag. Yes it’s as simple as it sounds, and it drives some of my friends barmy!)

Making The Most of Missing Out.

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There’s a lot of things we don’t get to do as a family.
But this is balanced out that we DO get to spend time together.

Usually.

I spent so much time over the last few years studying for my degree, and working a job that was way above normal full time hours (with time spent travelling and working from home in the evenings) that I felt like I barely saw my own children.

A plus side of my mental health deterioration and subsequent time off of work was that I was home more, and home for my children in the morning and after school. I was told through their words and actions that they were pleased I was around more, and we were able to build up really positive relationships.

But time = money, and my time wasn’t being traded off for money anymore, which has made things a little tight, financially.

In a twisted way though, I relished being thrust back into poverty. This was a circumstance I was very familiar with, and knew how things worked for us.

It did mean a return to saying ‘no’ though. A lot of no.

Like wanting to go places and do things.

As a family, we missed a few big events over the summer holidays. Out biggest being Megacon – a small local con in our neighbouring city. Geek culture abound, and we had to miss it.  We’ve been attending this convention since the start, and find the atmosphere electric. This would have been the first year to attend while doing videos too, and I had grand plans for a fantastic con vlog.

 

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Megacon 2015 Cosplay – Foxy from FNaF/Five Nights at Freddy’s and Steve from Minecraft

Instead, we stayed home. Grudgingly. My youngest kid still wore his outfit for his cosplay throughout the day (he was Dipper from Gravity Falls). I could tell both boys were a little disappointed, but they didn’t put up a fuss as they knew that it wouldn’t be able to change anything.

We tried to make the best of it, and honestly we had a lovely day overall. But I still feel sucks for the boys missing out. It still gets brought up and talked about occasionally, and they’re already planning their costumes for next year! Hopefully next year things will be a much better position for all of us.

We did a vlog of our weekend, and honestly while we did miss out on something big, we got to hang out together. Knowing how hard life is away from my boys, I’ll cherish this time no matter what we’re doing while hanging out.

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Thirtyeen?

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I turned Thirty in 2016. This was the time when I should have had my life together.

Instead, By the time I finished my first year of being thirty, I had suffered a breakdown in my mental health, been signed off of work for months, and eventually quit the career I had spent the last 5 years of my life getting my education and degree for.

That wasn’t quite how I imagined my thirties to start.

I felt that the only way to go forward was to look back.

Or, more accurately, imagine back to the some make believe past, as the back I was imagining was not the back I had personally experienced.

In my time away from work, I spent a lot of time being very unproductive. Hours spent curled up on my bed, laptop next to me, taking in everything going on in the world while not contributing anything to the world myself.

Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. During the first stages of these mental health difficulties, I still cared for my children, and I feel that’s a good contribution to the world. Although that’s a conversation for another day.

A lot of Youtube was watched during this time. Binge watching shows I’ve watched again and again. Going through my favourite channels back catalogues hoping to find something new I had missed during my last run through. These channels had long histories and much to consume. Tomska, Ashens, I Hate Everything, Philip DeFranco (and Fam!), Jacksfilms… the list went on and on!

One channel though I had mostly caught up on, and they uploaded a new video which caught my eye.

Threadbanger took part in a video where they painted a car, with nail polish. 

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WTF?

Legit screenshot, it’s a thing that actually happened!

The video was one of these ‘collabs’ with another prominant YouTuber, Cristine from Simply Nailogical. I’d never heard of her (or polish mountain!) so went to check her out.

Cue next binge session.  From the humble nail art beginnings to the more comedic stylings of her channel now. I was hooked.

And damn, if this girl could do her nails, so could I, right?!failed
(The answer was no, I could not!)

So I went back to the start. I imagined I was Thirteen years old again and getting into make up and nail polish and stuff. Although it wasn’t something I did the first time around, faffing around in ‘I don’t care about looks and makeup’ land right up to a sudden swing to goth stylings (still with no makeup except eyeliner and black nail polish!)

So here I was at thirty with no clue. That could be entertaining, right? To see me flounder and fail frequently? I should share my incompetence with the world, because what’s the point of making a fool of yourself if no-one can see it?

(Of course this was carefully cultivated and approved failing, my fragile sense of self worth would only allow certain stuff to be seen by the public. )

So I taught myself video editing. Starting with the free version of Lightworks and moving on to Wondershare Filmora, I had a steep learning curve but found a great deal of excitement in learning how to bend these programmes to my will.  I started a Youtube channel and slowly started to gain some followers.

I ended up blagging my way to a beauty blogger event at my local Lush store, and decided to try a different style of video rather than the faux tutorials I had been putting together, and made my first Vlog.  Oh it was so much fun to do and to edit. I had to do it again!

So I filmed a town festival or two, creating vlogs of my families experiences at a Marmalade festival, and our local May Day celebrations. I was starting to plan my videos more, know what kind of shots I wanted to get to make my videos look better – such as the several shots stitched together of different angles of a huge fairground ride at Mayday! I even timed it to music. I was so proud of what I’d made, and that wasn’t a feeling I had felt for a while, given the mess in my head.

It grew from there, to the point I’m at today. I make random weekend themed vlogs with my kids, I help my son Sam Fizzpops make videos he wants to make, and I’m starting to plan out some sketches which I am so excited for – especially if the hundreds of pounds I have spent on my eldest son’s Razzmatazz Drama/ Dance/ Singing lessons pay off!

So. Thirtyeen is the mix up of me at 30 learning about stuff that I didn’t learn at 13.
Except now I am not doing that as much and instead vlogging my fantastic family (and I never quite matured past being a teenager anyway).

Thirtyeen it is then!