Normal service

OK. I’ve calmed down. The last couple of posts were a mixture of anger and frustration, but I’m better than that.

In order to lighten the mood, I’ve amalgamated the 3 posts that have been sitting in draft.

Whole lotta đź‘… going on
The usual Friday bedtime routine consists of me explaining to the cubs that they can’t sleep in my bed. Sometimes I mean it. This time I did.

They have a workaround. First thing on Saturday morning, they jump into bed with me and we have a cuddle and watch a movie. This time, I even let them consume a bag of popcorn in my bed.

Bad idea.

At a glance, I would say that their success rate for popcorn to mouth was roughly 50%. Give or take a 5% margin. Once the film finished I told them that I wanted all the uneaten bits cleaned up while I was in the shower.

Whilst brushing my teeth, I heard a commotion followed by silence. I resisted the urge to look.

When I did emerge, the bed was clean, the duvet turned down and they were nowhere to be seen. Nice work cubs.

That evening at bedtime, whilst reading Dig dig digging for the millionth time, I thanked them for tidying my bed.

“That’s ok dad; once we’d got the big bits we just licked the rest clean”

I sat silently, asking Jesus why he’d let something like that happen.

Getting my own back
Tonight’s routine was a little muted. They’re both under par so there was little resistance.

Tucking in the eldest, she remarked that she felt awful with the flu. Her temperature was elevated and she had a headache.

“Dad? How does flu spread?”

Well it’s a virus that is very clever once it gets in your system. It can hide, it can change, known as mutation and will act differently in different people.

“Yes but how does it get into your body?

This is where it gets really interesting; it’s so clever that it knows it prefers to be inside new people to survive so what it does is to make you cough and sneeze and it’s then carried in the thousands of water droplets that come out of us when we do. If you breathe those water droplets in the virus gets into you. It can also survive for 24 hours on hard surfaces like door handles. You’ll then come along and touch that door handle, then touch your face. The result is the same.

She silently takes it all in and begins to process it.

“So when we were in the car with you daddy, that’s when we got it?”

No. I kept licking your face while you slept.

“DADDY!!”

Sprint finish
” Dad; I think you need a new workout. I’ve made one for you”

Ok sounds good. What’ve you got?

“Well you start of with 25 star jumps..”

Ok; then?

“Then you move onto 25 press ups..”

Sounds good. Anything else?

“You should touch your toes 3 times..”

Sounds like a spell now but go on..

“Then finish with a small run; say 13 miles”

I’ll pass.

BSD

Ignoring my own advice

It seems my tactic of not arguing with the ex isn’t working.

I have the cubs with me. I’ve had them since yesterday. The youngest has a fever, sore throat and runny nose. I’ve kept him off nursery.

Following the school run, my eldest is complaining of fatigue and a high temperature. The back of my hand on her head confirms this. On the way home, they both fall asleep.

I message the ex and tell her that both cubs have the flu.

Surprise surprise. Almost as if they’d been exposed to someone with the flu early last week.

She asked me what their temperatures are. I tell her that they’re both above average but he is hotter. This isn’t good enough. She asks if I have a thermometer. I don’t.

I rely on a method my mother taught me; using the back of my hand for a rough guide and my cheek for more accuracy. I love it.

She insists on dropping off a tympanic thermometer on her way home. I tell her it’s not necessary. The kids are monitored and medicated as necessary.

Not good enough. She’s coming anyway; lectures me on my paternal skills and obligations, again, and says she’ll be there shortly.

By the time the doorbell rings, both cubs are under a blanket with me on the sofa, having been fed and duly medicated.

I answer; extremely annoyed. She wants to see them. They’ve heard her voice. She comes in but not before I tell her she’s out of order. A good old British saying straight out of the East End of London.

She takes her shoes off and sits down, preparing to take temperatures. Both within tolerable ranges. Almost as if I’d looked after them.

She then starts advising me on dosages and checking regimes. I flip. Nicely though, as the cubs are present.

I remind her, that anytime the cubs have been really ill, it was me who discovered so. Me who made her call ambulances, told her what to say then conversed with medics.

It was me, who walked around her to get to our choking daughter, whilst she stared at her, totally unaware of a problem.

I also reminded her that it’s me, with actual medical training, that I have used to save lives over the last two decades.

She’s out staying what little welcome she had; I politely ask her to leave. I know, that youngest is going to be deeply upset at mummy’s fleeting visit. She’s off to the gym again. She’s done a similar thing before.

He breaks down in tears. Offers of hugs and his favourite blanket are rejected. This lasted for 15 minutes.

Luckily, the Power Rangers appeared on the Red Bull soapbox race and made him smile.

I breathe.

I’ve left elements of this exchange out, especially peripheral (and perpetual) pseudo arguments that have been rumbling for a while now.

My own advice has got me nowhere and now I intend to fight fire with fire.

I guess it takes two to argue.

leo-animal-savannah-lioness-55814.jpeg

BSD

Inappropriate reflex

And I don’t appear to be able to control it.

Allow me to elaborate. There is a lady on the school run, well actually she’s the mum of one of my daughter’s friends. She’s also one of the carers in after-school club and I can’t stop this inappropriate reflex when in her presence.

It’s happened about 7 times now. No, not about 7 times, 7 times. Exactly 7 times. I’ve counted.

It happens when I sign my daughter out of the club and we have a conversation. She’s a lovely lady and we get on really well; we always have done.

As I sign the time and we say our goodbyes, it happens. It always happens.

I wink, and walk away.

As I walk away I always, always ask myself why the heck I just did that? but whenever it’s her, I always do.

Now let me add some back story here. I have no intentions towards this lovely lady. She has a great personality and is attractive but I have no improper intent towards her for a multitude of reasons, not least because she’s not interested and that she has a fantastic husband who I regularly converse with whenever we see one another.

I started to think it harmless and she doesn’t respond in any way but I think I’m now conditioned to close our conversations in that way.

Not just her

I’ve only ever caught myself doing it once before, in a meeting with the Head Mistress of the school when we thought my daughter was being bullied. After a rather terse exchange I threw a wink and cheeky smile combo which wouldn’t have looked out-of-place in a bar.

With the speed of an echo she threw one back and met my smile with one of her own. I felt uncomfortable. I, felt uncomfortable!

I dismissed it as a nervous response to my wink which was so out-of-place in the whole conversation.

I did try to stifle a wink once but the result was a cross between a sneeze and a medical episode.

I feel like a cad from a vintage film.

I’m laughing at this now but it could be fever.

pexels-photo-469676.jpeg

BSD

Guess what’s annoying me now?

We have this thing here in the UK. I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the world, but here in Blighty, we have this phenomenon.

It’s called ‘man flu’

It’s actually more of a paradigm than a physical thing but it comes with its own constructs and behaviours.

It’s usually an extension of flu, but in the literary sense, it is the absolute to any notion of an illness.

I have flu. I know this. I’ve had it before. No, it’s not a cold, it’s definitely flu. Have I been to a Dr? No. The few times I’ve had flu historically, I know that there’s little they can do and you actually spread the virus to everyone you meet in the process.

I know it’s flu because I’m awake at 4 am and sleep at 11 am. The last meal I had was breakfast (on Wednesday) and I’m shivering, fully clothed. I sneeze about once an hour; cough every half. Strong coughs too. The kind that wake you up at 4 am.

I’ve also felt crap for two weeks so I’ve a pretty good idea. I wish the whole thing would just cough off now.

But recently, I have discovered this. I can’t have flu.

Third parties have deemed it either unlikely or impossible.

“You have a cold” said the mother of my cubs, whilst advising me to “Suck it up”

Look out Med School; here she comes.

But the proxy diagnosis that really gets me, is

Aw, have you got man flu?

Cough off.

leo-animal-savannah-lioness-55814.jpeg

BSD

Taking my own advice

And sucking at it.

2018 has got off to an interesting start. I have the flu. I’ve been feeling crap since New Year’s Day, but I thought it was karma for drinking a bottle of Prosecco after being dry for so long. After 4 days of feeling poor, I suspected something else might be at play.

Dr Google; such a bad idea.

Not something I usually do but I had a bit of time on my hands. Within 15 minutes I was both diabetic and suffering from Meniere’s disease. Not good. I quickly ruled both out from no basis of logic whatsoever.

I then self diagnosed as suffering from exhaustion. Feasible, as I’m known to regularly give myself a hard time. But it didn’t add up; I’d had lots of time off over Christmas and the ex and I were getting on quite well. The kids had a great Christmas and I even managed some charitable giving, which made me feel great.

Slowly dawning

Back in spasm, shivering, going to bed fully clothed (I was freezing and boiling) and a constant headache. Throw in a cough that hurts the already hurt back and you’ve got the picture.

H3N2

Well hello. Britain has been hit by this little mix of numbers and letters, colloquially known as Aussie Flu. It really sucks. In the same breath, it’s not the end of the world; a bit of rest and plenty of fluids and all will be well.

flu

This is not what this thread is about.

Too good to be true

I said earlier that the ex and I had been getting on better in recent weeks; that has since come crashing down.

My tank is on empty, even to the point where I found it hard to blog. I have 3 entries in draft that are no more than headlines. As we Brits say, I’m knackered (extremely tired).

After having the cubs last weekend it is customary for me to have them one day in the week. For the first time, I really couldn’t manage it. The school and nursery pickup seemed like a tall order; I couldn’t face it. I reached out to the ex, asking her to have them for one extra day this week.

What I got back was a torrent of abuse, questions on my abilities and priorities as a parent, a quick lesson on the differences between flu and the common cold, and the helpful phrase, ‘suck it up’. This was topped of by a short paragraph on why she wouldn’t be picking them up later, regardless of whether she heard from me or not.

goats-competition-dispute.jpg

I picked them up and luckily they didn’t mind tired daddy at all.

Ironic

The plot twist to this is that the day before, she called to ask me to pick them up as she would be late collecting them. This is a regular occurrence. So much so, that she actually called me this afternoon, telling me she was stuck in traffic and asking my location.

Quite incredulous, I informed her that I was in bed, with the flu. I also asked her if she remembered berating me not 48 hours earlier. I was told that me laying in bed and not helping her, was a choice.

I hung up on her.

Do as I say; not as I do

So already in today’s post, I’ve broken a few of my rules. I’ve always stated that I wouldn’t use this as a platform to beat her with, as I hope my cubs will read this in later years and enjoy how much I enjoy them.

At the same time, I have a simmering anger at this latest exchange. These aren’t new behaviours. A solipsistic theme ran through our relationship but I thought I was now immune to it. I was wrong.

At the time of her original rebuke, I followed my own rule quite well, in that you cannot have an argument with only one participant. Strangely, I knew that she would be in touch sooner rather than later with tales of her lateness. I didn’t have to wait long.

pexels-photo-136351.jpeg

Pawns?

I thought long and hard about this one.

My job, as a dad, is to act in the best interest of my children; always.

  • How did my request differ from hers?
  • By not helping her, I usually do, was I just being an ass and digging in out of some petty revenge mode?
  • Was I using my beloved cubs as pawns?

I don’t think so.

Teamwork was something I never experienced with the ex. It all seemed to flow one way and I slowly got bored of that. It looks like nothing has changed.

Mike on Cliff light sky

Moving forwards

I’m going to change tack in my relationship with her. The thing with people who are naturally takers is that they will continue to do so, as long as you keep giving. If you keep giving, they don’t learn and fail to grow.

There will be no more 11th hour pickups because she’s late. It happens so regularly that it reeks of a failure to be organised. Historically I have even compromised my work in order to cover for her inability to keep time or commitment. That’s gone.

Apologies if this read as a rant; normal service will resume shortly.

But not for her.

BSD

Not quite there yet.

Has everyone had a nice Christmas?

I have, and so have the cubs. It was so far removed from what I endured last Year that it’s incomparable.

In those 365 days I’ve learnt so much about myself and the people that come into my life and more importantly, those who remain.

The cubs have had a brilliant time and have been showered with love (and presents). So much so in fact that I have decided to donate some to a local children’s hospice. I want to give back and the only reason I’ve written about it here is to maybe trigger thoughts in others as to how we can give back or help those less fortunate.

This isn’t my review of 2017, in fact I’m not going to do one; I’m not that interesting.

I will be doing one more post and that will be regarding the second part of the race to zero.

Resolutions

To read more of your blogs. I love doing so as it gives me inspiration, advice and makes me chuckle.

They also serve to remind me that I’m not the only one pushing forwards and trying to make sense of this all.

Keep on keeping on folks xx

PS.

Like a glutton for punishment I had both of them in my bed last night as they’ll now be with Mum for a week or so.

Both of them expanded like magic bath toys, moaned every hour on the hour, leaked a nappy onto me and said bed and I’m so sleep deprived I feel I may expire but, I couldn’t be happier.

BSD

Could it get any more Christmasy??

Firstly; Christmassy isn’t a word. Either with one or two s’s. 

But I had to share this scene with you.

First mistake

Letting the cubs bed down with me; I should know better. I do know better. I even had a warning from the ex, when I told her that that was my plan this evening.

It didn’t matter. I hadn’t seen them for a while and wanted them near me, so after bath-time, they both clambered into my bed.

Cue singing. By him, at the top of his voice; much to her annoyance.

One threat of ‘You’ll go back to your own bed..’ seemed to do the trick.

monkeys

Second mistake

When I eventually turned in was not putting them into their own beds as they slept soundly. I tiptoed around my bedroom as I prepared for bed, trying not to disturb the status quo.

I use the light from the bathroom to gauge their positions in the bed, noting which side has the most room and where I have some chance of getting some sleep. Ablutions completed, I get in.

Third mistake

Getting into bed.

I’m a big unit; about 6’5 and about 110 kgs but, I moved with precision of a cat, stalking it’s prey. The duvet moved as skillfully as if performing surgery. Every muscle straining to smooth the whole movement into one, seamless motion. I lay back.

Onto a tiny arm.

Well, I might as well have entered the room with a small orchestra getting their ear in, whilst 10 waiters carried 10 trays of glasses in a 7.2 earthquake. He squealed and started to cry which woke her with a start. Yay me.

Fourth mistake

Not seizing this opportunity to put them into their own beds.

Instead, after the kisses and cuddles, we tried to make it work. All was still.

A tiny arm flopped over my face. Then a chubby foot settled itself in my armpit. Then my daughter protested of a foot in her back. The boy is flexible; I’ll give him that.

He turns.

‘Stop breathing on my back! it’s dangerous!’

I’m too tired to challenge this theory, or make enquiries into its origins.

He’s clearly now heating up so he pulls his knees up to his chest and extends his feet downwards, clearing himself from the duvet. And us in the process. She was having none of it.

The row that follows sees him sitting up and asking for his water, which is on the bedside table nearest her. She passes him his bottle; he erupts into tears.

‘I WANTED TO GET IT!!’

She fires back at him with increasing volume to match, then puts the bottle back down, making him cry even more.

Please just give him his water bottle.

Now she starts to cry. ‘I WAS ONLY TRYING TO HELP!’

Christ.

Now would’ve been another of those good opportunities to put them into their own beds. I didn’t take it. More cuddles and a sort of peace descends. We settle.

Moments later, my neighbour starts drilling; or sawing up a small oak tree; or starts his motorbike (that he doesn’t have) or cranks up their helicopter.

industry-vintage-old-fabric

How can a 3 year old snore so loudly!!? he’s only just fallen asleep! and he’s only 3!! Did I mention that he’s only 3??

I gently, turn him to face his sister. ‘Daddy; I know what you’re doing’ she states quite correctly. She’s right, but I thought she was asleep.

I promise his breath isn’t fatal darling; you’ll be fine.

Winter Solstice

The problem with the day following the shortest day in the northern hemisphere is that it gets dark early and stays dark early. You can imagine my joy at hearing my 06:00 alarm going off the moment I had settled the cubs to some sort of sleep.

That was a terrible version of a good night. Sleep deprivation is a terrible weapon.

feet up

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. Pray for me.

BSD

 

 

 

Time to reflect.

It’s that time of year again where I like to take stock of the last 12 months. It’s a thing I do that allows me to press on into the oncoming new year with vigour and determination.

I try to weigh up the good and the bad in an attempt to learn the lessons that I was supposed to.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

The cub’s mum

We had more downs than ups. It’s still new and the wounds are still open I guess. This morning we managed to have a row after I asked how she was; the accusation? I phrased the question incorrectly.

I backed off. Part of my philosophy; it takes two to have an argument and I’m not playing.

stress

The lesson

This was one of a few flash points that we collectively experienced over the last year. So how do I avoid them in future, and why should I?

The easy answer is the stress that arguing brings. I just realised that my teeth were clenched whilst typing!

Some disagreement is inevitable, but it’s the handling of such that is all important; the reasons to avoid it are pretty obvious:

  • Poor health
  • Poor relationships
  • Unhappy cubs

The last one is crucially important.

I’ve spoken before about the fact that I will never speak ill of her in front of the cubs. It’s not fair; they only have one mum and they deserve to hold her in high esteem. I will do nothing to change that image.

This is where the teachings of the ‘7 Habits’ come in; seek to understand, before being understood.

In future, I’ll choose my words more carefully; consider my tone and watch my timing. Communication, not confrontation.

Failing that I’ll ignore her until the end of time, plus 15 minutes.

My home

I’ve mentioned already that I’m not overly happy where I am at the moment; it’s too far out for where I need to be, most of the time.

home

The lesson

Stop moaning! It’s warm, it’s dry, there’s food in the fridge. Some folk have none of those.

I’m sure that I will move in the not too distant future but for now, this is one blessing that I am counting.

Relationships

I’m single. I have been for a while now; the longest while in over two decades. For once, it actually feels ok.

love

The lesson

Historically, I used to bounce from relationship to relationship, without a break, without ever reflecting on why the last one didn’t work. Sometimes, perhaps inevitably, I’d go on to make the same mistakes again, and again.

I had to stop and ask myself why this was.

  • What was I compensating for?
  • what was I afraid of?
  • what was lacking in myself that I sought from a companion and could that ever be the successful driver of any relationship?

I know that I need to be the complete article before I can share that place in my heart.

I believe in the Law of Attraction; thoughts become things etc.

I also believe that the Universe will keep giving us the same lesson, until we learn it. I’m just thankful that the Universe is very patient.

I’m getting nearer to those answers by spending time with myself, discovering who I am, after all this time.

In the meantime, the most important relationship is the one I’m proudest of; the one with my cubs. They give the most amazing cuddles.

I’m sure that when the time is right, she’ll find me, or we’ll find each other. Then I’ll have to change my pen name.

Finances

Tough! as they no doubt are for us all. Everything seems to be going up apart from our wages.

green shoots

The lesson

Take control and keep control.

If you’ve read my last post on clearing my debt, you’ll know that I plan to smash this one in 2018.

My ultimate goal is to have 3 income streams. Something recommended by the successful out there. I’ll give you more on that one in 2018.

Health

I know the benefits of exercise, especially in the world we live in today. You absolutely have to do it. I use it to defuse stress too. See my first point, above.

why train

The lesson

Schedule my workouts!

I schedule everything else important, so why should this be any different?

I’m fit; I’m healthy and I’m thankful; truly, truly thankful.

More of the same next year and maybe something to aim for..?

So that’s about it for now. The planning is the next phase and the important thing is to set my goals early and write them down.

Commitment is everything!

XperiaZ3 762

So that’s it for now. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I know what I need to what I need to stop, what I need to start and what I need to keep doing in 2018.

Bring it on!

BSD

A quick breakfast discussion with the cubs

Son: My sister is not a he…

He’s just getting to grips with gender, after caller her ‘him’ for about six months now.

Correct

Son: He’s a girl!

Almost right

Daughter: I’m a she!

Son: Yes. And I’m a boy!

Yes

Son: And daddy is a man!

Correct

Daughter: and mummy is a lady; isn’t she daddy?

Daughter: Daddy?

Daughter: Daddy??

Bath time

BSD

Holidays are coming…

And I’m talking finances.

For some reason, one of the obvious factors of becoming a single income household, the halving of the number of earners putting in to the family coffers, had not registered on my radar of anything, until that dip in income started to bite.

There is no pressure like financial pressure as it can feel like an ever descending spiral. This can lead to worry and depression which can itself lead to mood swings or some other harmful coping mechanism.

So the lead picture is Santa squaring up for a fight – you get the analogy; Christmas is coming and that can present a real financial squeeze, if you’re not prepared.

Speaking from experience, I’ve done the splurge for the festive season thing. It’s short term gain for long term pain. Historically, I would do this weird thing where I would pay most of my bills, before spending what I wanted to spend. This eventually led to problems, as you can imagine. When bills aren’t paid, companies (rightly) grow concerned and want what is owed them.

Then the letters start

Dealing with them is easier said than done and they are extremely easy to ignore. However, problems rarely go away if ignored so if you find yourself in this uncomfortable situation, give your creditors a call and explain your situation. It’s in all of your best interests to come to a solution.

This post isn’t about that; it’s about this

I want to talk to you about projecting forwards, as prevention is better than cure. I enlisted the help of a dear friend of mine,  Zane Groves, an entrepreneur who happens to be a bit of a financial whizz. Good job really as he’s a financial advisor.

He owned his own mortgage consultancy at age 26 but more impressively, manage to grow his business when large institutions were folding as the world experienced the deepest recession in living memory.

He’s a planner and he’s come up with a short and sharp, 6 point plan for a financially fit future. Over to him.

green shoots



1) What are your goals.

This may seem very obvious but have a plan. This can be from saving for a holiday to a deposit for your first home. Once you know what your goal is, plan how you’re going to get there and the sooner the better!

2) Make saving a habit.

We often say “I can’t afford to save” or I’ve only got ÂŁ50 to save, what difference will that make. We let me tell you, you’ve been saving for that rainy day for 2 years and the boiler breaks, guess what you’ve got the money so you can pay for it immediately and not get into debt with your flexible friend. If you’re lucky enough not to need it then great!

3) Work pensions.

Pay! your employer does (UK law) and the younger you start the better. The average pension pot at retirement currently stands at ÂŁ50,000 which isn’t going to go far. If you want a comfortable retirement save as much as you can afford. The same if you’re self-employed.

4) Protect your income.

In most cases spending 1% of your annual salary will protect the other 99%. Don’t rely on the state, incapacity benefit is currently around £88 per week, try living on that one.

5) Reduce your debt.

Where ever possible try and pay down your unsecured debt and focus on the higher interest rate charging vehicles.

6) Invest in yourself.

If finance really isn’t your bag, employ someone who’s it is. You wouldn’t after all get a baker to look after your car so find a suitably qualified financial advisor and let them work with you.

Money

 


He doesn’t mince his words. As a thank you to him I’ve included a link to his website througout the post.

I want to quickly dig a little deeper on some of his points, which if you look at them again, have one key personal factor involved; self-discipline.

The success depends on your ability to delay your gratification; want it now will lead you back down the rabbit hole.

Finally

My plan for Christmas this year is to splurge, in a controlled manner of course. I’m in a position where I can guarantee overtime for most of 2018. My plan is to put in some extra hours and ‘snowball’ my most expensive debt away. It’ll be tough, but it’s the trade off for running up the cards over 2017.

Please remember this; over the festive period your children ultimately want your time.

Looking back to my childhood, I can’t remember if I ever got that train set, or the Evil Kenevil Rocket Edition, but I can remember being loved, warm and safe.

I can remember spending time decorating the tree and I can remember falling asleep on the sofa, full of food and watching Christmas films. Relax and be happy!

tunnel light

BSD

If you are struggling with debt, please seek help; there are some great free resources available online.

If you’re in the market for financial products as well as good advice, please check out Mr Zane Grove’s website