Tag Archives: parenting

Cake & Balloons

Ever had one of those nights where you’re so messed up you think your nose has fallen off, you can’t stop hysterically laughing while devouring Cadbury Dairy Milk and watching Waking the Dead because that Trevor Eve is a solid 10 for an older man..?

That’s pretty much exactly what I was doing 12 years ago today, in fact right now, I was telling my anaesthetist, Michael Moneypenny (no word of a lie, that’s his name) to keep it down while he was putting a freakishly large needle into my spine to curb the crippling pain I was experiencing while attempting to give birth to my eldest daughter.

Ellie One

I was 11 days overdue, had been subjected to the most god-awful induction earlier that day and despite 12 hours of labour, the kid just didn’t want to come out. Typical obstetrics of 12 years ago…’Here, lie down flat, get comfy, you’re going to be here for a while’. As opposed to move your wobbly ass, get moving and let gravity/nature bring that little curly haired whopper out.

I was indeed there for a while, a further 12 hours as it goes. From a quiet, darkened room at 06:25……just me, my hubs, my mum and the most knackered looking junior doctor ever, to blazing strip lights, spot lights, may as well been car headlights for all I knew, a registrar, two midwives, a consultant, the blurry-eyed junior doctor, Moneypenny and what dignity I had left and 10 minutes and the clinical version of a Dyson later……Ellie was born.

 

Ellie Three

Picture Credit: Matt Bowen Photography

 

She looked like she’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, which isn’t too far from the truth I suppose. First thing she did was poop in the scales. Never lived that one down since. 8lbs 11oz, with a superman curl on her forehead (she’s still got it too) the kid with the cerulean eyes changed my life forever.

Ellie Five

I’ve barely spent more than a few days away from her since that tumultuous first morning, and she generally still causes a riot wherever she goes. She’s generous and loving, witty and smart mouthed, almost a little too smart at times, I know, chip off the old block. She doesn’t know when to shut up (gets that from her dad) she gives the best hugs, she can twerk like a champ and can speak Japanese with surprisingly fluency (providing its the lyrics to a RWBY song).

She can quote Ghostbusters beginning to end, she adores Bill Murray, she’s a budding artist, song-writer and digital genius. Yet she can’t make toast, boil a kettle or locate the iron. I’ve still some work to do.

Ellie Four

She’s also 6ft 9′ (slight exaggeration), wearing women’s size 8 clothes, the biggest stationery nerd going and has the biggest, curliest mop of hair that even Side Show Bob would be jealous of. Having just started high school, Elle (Smelly Ellie, Elles, Crap Bag, Curly Witch, Elspeth) is working out where she fits in the world all over again, and she’s doing it in her own sweet time.

She’s my greatest achievement and whether she’s still causing a riot or peacefully going about her way, I’m confident that she’s going to change the world.

Happy Birthday Ellie, love Mum x

 

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I’m a Story-teller, whats your superpower?

It turns out I don’t have super powers in the traditional sense, I mean I can’t fly, nor can I become invisible, although I can turn into the HULK when my kids really try my patience!

I do have some super skills though, in the form of being able to turn my hand to a number of jobs which over the years have kept me afloat and helped me to turn situations into stories that engage with readers.

When I was studying to be the next Stella McCartney, I cleaned toilets at Broadgreen Hospital at the weekends to afford bolts of Calico for my first ever clothing collection. I’ve been a call centre operative, a kitchen assisant, a merchandiser, a sportswear sales assistant, a facilities manager, an administrator, a auditor, a receptionist and an exectuive PA.

Throughout all of these roles, I’ve stored the memories and drawn on them when looking for inspiration for characters and searching for examples to give to clients. Plus interviews no longer phase me.

pigeon

I’ve also juggled full-time parenting during these roles as my little brood expanded from 1 to 4 in just 10 years. Being a mlti-tasker comes as standard.

Being a Journalist is all I ever wanted to do. I worked hard during my NCTJ course, juggling classes, work experience and my children. Just a year since I started out I’ve picked up a tremendous amount of experience, some incredile contacts and ultimately my dream role.

What I love about freelance work is that its so unpredictable, the absolute opposite to how my home life works. Everything is regimented at home. From packed lunch boxes to bedtime routines, it’s all done to the letter……because it’s the only way I can get us all out of the house by 7:45am.

The other aspect of freelance work I like so much, is the relationship building. Some clients I work with on long projects that involve developing and implementing strategy over a number of months. Some I work with for just a day. No two days, nor clients are ever the same.

I absolutely love hearing people’s stories. How they came to be in business, what they sacrifice for the sake of providing a service or developing a product and being their own boss. The long hours, taking work home, never being able to switch off. It’s an exclusive gang that only those who are self-employed, or closesly related to those who are, really understand.

Helping people is second nature to some, and being able to support businesses with their admin, marketing, social media and advertising makes me happy. Whether its turning my hand to tax preparation or writing advertorial articles……or even hand writing 100 company Christmas cards, to know I’m relieveing a little of the workload gives me great job satisfaction.

Can I help you? Drop me a line katereillyjames@gmail.com

 

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6 Months and Counting

I bloody love a countdown, about as much as I love a challenge and 2016 will test me to the absolute limit.

September is a busy month for me with three little dudes starting new schools, seeing friends after the summer break, birthdays and re-settling into nursery routines. So in my infinite wisdom I thought, why not make that entire schedule more pressured by adding a whole new dimension.

September 11th welcomes the Tough Mudder challenge to the north west. A half-marathon distance littered with obstacles to test even the fittest of participants including ice, fire and gulp….electricity…not to mention all the mud.

This morning I have happily paid the grand total of £90 to take part in this frankly terrifying challenge, and that’s exactly what I love about it. Its a challenge, not a race. Its about camaraderie, team work and sheer determination.

It’s also about commitment. I’ve now committed to six months of serious hard graft to build physical and mental strength as I have none, zilch. (I had to mop my kitchen floor yesterday to stop me and the kids eating any more snacks before dinner) see….none!

So that’s me done, signed on the dotted line. I’m feeling positive, apprehensive but positive. I can train, I can conquer my fears and I can do this. There’s only one question left to answer now.

Who’s with me?

For more info and to hold my hand through this terrifying experience, check out Tough Mudder here. …please….anyone!?

 

 

 

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Like A Boss

I make no apology for writing (once again) about how awesome women are. That’s not to say guys aren’t amazing too (especially Michael Fassbender, Corey Parker and Eddie Redmayne to name a select few) I’m totally pro-equality….however over the last few weeks of my college course, I’ve met some seriously incredible women.

A woman I met a couple of weeks ago is 8 months pregnant and has a toddler running around with her 24/7. Already exhausting right? Now add into the mix the fact that this lady is a ridiculously talented, original, clothing designer and decided during the latter stages of pregnancy to design, create and debut her collection at her first ever fashion week……toddler in tow! All the while she looked stunning, form fitting wrap dresses, beautifully braided hair and tailored dress coats….and heels….and she nailed it! Hats off to you Taya.

The second woman, or should I say women I want to tell you about are artists too. They run a phenomenal initiative and pop up store called OneArt. Every few months they move into a different store space at Liverpool One and revamp it themselves, rollers and Dulux emulsion at the ready!. After all that manual labor they then display their own and other local artists creations for the lovely people of Liverpool and beyond to buy. All the while they are consistently creating new spaces for local artists to sell their unique artwork, jewelry and ceramics. Freida, Karen and Katherine…you rock!

Childsplay Clothing Liverpool Fashion Week 2015

I can’t write about influential women without mentioning Fashion Week event organiser and mum of SIX…Amanda Moss. I’m absolutely convinced she doesn’t sleep, and if she does it must be standing up with her eyes open planning awards and auditioning models. Amanda always has time for a catch up and develops events and gatherings that encourages others to shine…..Patron Saint of Multi-tasking like a boss!

And to my female family, friends, old school mates and women I stalk…I mean follow, on twitter…seeing and hearing you achieve stuff makes me want to up my game, try harder, stop making excuses. From my friend Leah who, without fail hits the gym everyday at 6am and wakes me up with her motivational Instagram post….to an old school mate (and birthday twin) Hayley who despite having two teeny boys looks a million dollars wondering around Sainsburys doing her shopping. So much love and respect for my relative who is caring for her elderly mother who suffers from dementia and yet always makes it home to put dinner on the table…. and to my Caroline who has supported me tirelessly while I try and become the writer/journalist I always wanted to be.

Surrounding yourself with people who inspire you, make you laugh and support you is such a simple yet effective way to feel comfortable in your own skin. With so much opportunity on our door step that is freely accessible to women now its no wonder we’re unstoppable.

Here’s to you girls!

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Ten

This weekend I celebrated ten years in my job. Starting out at 22 I didn’t think I was ready for a full time career…..no prior training, demanding clients and round the clock shifts. However the rewards are endless if you’re willing to take payment in dry pasta pictures and heart-swelling pride.

Wonky Fringe

                  Wonky Fringe

My not so little girl is ten. I’ve been reminiscing this weekend saying things like: “Oh this time ten years ago I was at the Women’s Hospital being induced” I’m not sure anyone looks back fondly on childbirth…do they? But after ten years my memory has done a good job of glossing over the 24 our induced labour and walking like John Wayne for a week or so afterwards. I felt as if I’d been hit by a bus that morning when I realised the pregnancy was finally over and the real work had begun.

My girl spent her birthday jumping round at Velocity Trampoline Park with her friends. I spent her birthday wondering how I got so lucky to have her as a daughter. We’ve been through the mill a bit over the years, house moves and changes in our family circumstances and she’s just taken it all in her stride. I couldn’t have picked a better partner in crime.

She’s full of mischief, with her big curly hair and freckle-smattered cheeks. Her favourite prank at the moment is pulling my pjay bottoms down while I’m doing the dishes or hiding in the shower when I tell her there’s homework to do. (Three times she’s got me with that one) I get my own back by putting embarrassing messages in her packed lunch box every Monday and cutting her fringe wonky.

We’ve shared some awesome times. Our faces lighting up when the Statue of Liberty came into sight from the Staten Island ferry in New York. Watching the fountains at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. Summers spent picking/eating strawberries in rural France in 40 degree heat. We’ve broken a Guinness World Record, completed the Santa Dash 5k (dressed as a Christmas pudding) and chatted live on Radio City FM.

So many brilliant memories that make being her mum the best job in the world.

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Eat Sleep WAHHHH Repeat

This weekend I suffered the ultimate shame. I had to listen to a stranger apologise for MY behaviour. I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life. This is how it came about.

I started the NCTJ course in early September and since then my feet have barely touched the ground! I’m on the go from 5am until 8pm most days, furiously scribbling shorthand exercises all over the Metro paper en route to college and consuming every possible headline on Twitter. Lessons involve British history, political debate, discussing media law cases and commentating on football matches, plus learning hieroglyphics……no wait sorry…I mean shorthand (which after four weeks I’m finally beginning to get my head around).

It’s hard work and I’m not ashamed to say some days I feel like I’m struggling to keep up. I come tearing out of college after hours of lessons to collect my three kids from nursery and school to go straight home and start dinner, feed them, clear up, tell them to quit bickering and pulling hair, start the bath and bedtime routine, throw the hoover around, while soaking up the tidal wave in the bathroom and wiping sticky finger marks off the TV and then pack bags for the following day and set out clean uniforms. Once they’re all in bed after four requests for a drink, a wee and yet another raucous rendition of Room on The Broom I can finally sit down to look over the days notes and try to retain least a little bit of the information I’ve learned. Sound familiar? It’s all go……well until it all stopped, on Saturday.

I was taken to The Royal Liverpool Hospital by paramedics Eddie and Rich, who after learning that I’m a trainee journalist, went on to tell me just how deeply the NHS cuts were being felt by staff and patients. It’s a sorry tale, and one I intend on writing up in detail in the coming weeks. (See Eddie, told you I’d give you a mention)

The medical staff in A&E worked out I was suffering from some kind of virus and left me with a dainty little cardboard pot in a busy triage while they prepped my paperwork. It was at this exact point that I lost control of my faculties. Feeling a wave of heat rising rapidly from my feet I tried in vain to get my Superdry hoody off over my head……only to faint forwards out of the chair and vomit all over the shoes of two ladies sat to my left. The last thing I remember is a nurse running towards me saying ‘Oh dear, I’m so sorry about that’

I came around a minute of so later laying on a bed feeling utterly horrendous and being glared at by two angry-looking ladies wiping their shoes with paper towels. Not my finest hour. It turns out I have a stomach ulcer and coughing up blood all weekend is a symptom of doing something wrong! I’d run myself into the ground, my diet was pretty disgusting and trying to be the best at everything clearly wasn’t working out.

Armed with a medicine haul Walter White would be proud of, I’m now back at home resting up. I’ve come up with a better strategy to still be awesome at everything but also to take better care of myself too. And the silver lining….easy weight loss!

Thank you so very much to everyone who looked after me. Paramedics Eddie and Rich, A&E staff Laura, Kayleigh and Rob and especially to the lovely catering lady who said she’s save me chicken curry and rice in case I got my appetite back. Legends!

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Best Foot Forward

Over the last year I have suffered a brutal break up, I’ve kept a dignified silence on my social media accounts and even attempted reconciliation..but here’s the truth…I’ve broken up with shoes. I mean obviously I still wear them. I’m all for starting new trends but going barefoot in a big sprawling city is unlikely to catch on.

In my late teens I was swept off my feet. Finally freed from the school regulation low heel brogues and ballet flats, I fell in love with brands like Dune, Jones The Boot-maker and Ravel. l owned 130 pairs of shoes by my 17th birthday…..a constant source of drama between emerging fashionista and my practical shoe wearing, shift-working mum. Being taller than your average 17-year-old sixth-former (5ft 10′) I instantly loved wearing heels to further enhance my height and my passion for Mary-Jane’s showed no signs of slowing as I transitioned into my twenties and the world of office wear. I’d look down on those wearing kitten heels to work, thinking i was superior for being able to wear heels for the 9-5 day. I felt unstoppable.

The relationship grew intense with purchases of high-end, iconic footwear to mark the biggest events of my twenties. Dolce & Gabbana neon strappy heels, Vivienne Westwood pirate boots and a pair of the most stunning gold Gina courts among a sea of weekly high street purchases from River Island, Topshop and New Look…..I bought a designer pair for each of my children coming into the world (a Hallmark card clearly wouldn’t do)  I routinely take them from their dust covers now and admire them. (The shoes, not my kids)

So what changed, where did it all go wrong? In a nutshell I stopped making an effort for my shoes…and myself. I let myself get out of shape and stopped dressing up as much. I found solace in Nike and Converse, addicted to the comfort and less likely to break an ankle benefits of wearing flat shoes again. I also have a double Phil & Teds buggy to contend with on a daily basis and the 4 mile nursery/school round trip would take me twice as long in a pair of KG platforms. I felt resentful. Heels are a nuisance in my busy world of being a mum and championship multi-tasker. Elated to read about celebs breaking with tradition and rules at Cannes and rocking metallic, jeweled flats on the red carpet, I was convinced that it’s perfectly fine to live in flat shoes…

But oh the glamour of a svelte black platform court with a seductive red sole and those beautifully cursive letter spelling out Christian Louboutin…Carrie Bradshaw’s midnight blue jewel encrusted Manolo’s…..even Cinderella had it nailed back in 1950…… Oh heels I miss you!

Now that I’ve succumbed to practicality I realise just how much joy I gained from wearing impractical shoes. My confidence soared, my legs looked great and I felt young.

I’ve vowed to change, I’m only 32, we can get back to the good old times, I’m sure. By way of counselling I’ve booked myself and my favourite D&G neon’s into The V&A Shoes: Pleasure & Pain exhibition to rediscover my passion……and possibly my youth.

Wish me luck

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