Tag Archives: parenting

Almost There

If you’re not singing ‘Almost There’ from Disney’s Princess & The Frog right now, we can’t be friends. 

It occurred to me the other day, as a friend rapidly approaches a big birthday, that I’m halfway there. Almost done. Seriously. I don’t mean to be morbid about it, it’s just a fact. I’m 36. With my high sugar diet and penchant for stressing over things out of my control, it’s highly unlikely I’ll make it to 80. Diabetes and its best mate, cardiac arrest are always watching.

Clearly I need to make a few life changes, which I’m working on. Back out running, attempting to eat less sugar and plan my balanced meals (now that all 17 Easter eggs have been inhaled). But this impending birthday (not even mine – see what I mean about stressing over pointless stuff) did make me stop and think. What have I actually achieved in my 36 years?

Society used to say that by the age of 36 a woman should be married and raising children. Ticked those boxes. Turns out kids are absolutely immense, husbands….mmmm not so. And besides society can kiss my arse. We’re marching to the beat of our own drums these days.

Are bucket lists still a thing? Is there a 2019 version (a short YouTube video maybe?) of making a list of stuff you really wanna do before you croak? Should it take news of ill health or a monumental life event to motive us to live more? Surely the biggest regret in life is to get to your dying breath and wish you’d done more? Taken more chances, worried less about the consequences.

My personal bucket list has gone from worldly adventures to ironing all the school uniforms on a Sunday. Or getting all the washing out on the line on a sunny day. Sometimes I set a target for my daily word count, other times its my step counter or calorie count on My Fitness Pal.

Maybe I’ve become uninspired and bogged down with the practicalities of parenting. The kids need a solid education, to be settled, see their friends, get enough sleep etc. And they get all that. But I’m always blown away to hear stories of people who’ve upped sticks on gone traveling with their young families for months on end. Can a school with ‘requires improvement’ Ofsted results really question the education of world travel?

In reality, the inspiration still burns inside (oo-err). I don’t want to be on my death bed content with never having travelled further than the M62 but its okay because all the laundry was done in a timely matter and I scored highest on My Fitness Pal for calorie deficit.

We’re all heading the same way. I’m almost there, but the second half of my story will take a different path.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

 

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Dear Liverpool, I think I love you

It’s been one of those on/off things for 36 years. I think it’s love. 

Adopted as my hometown, I grew up in this spectacular city. I’ve spent the longest time under one roof here (5 years) and moved away only to come running back when the shit hit the fan. I couldn’t be any more of a wool if I tried. Born on the other side of the world, my mums scouse roots pulled her back to Merseyside when I was just 7 weeks old.

Living in the North East for a while as a kid, my favourite memories of coming to Liverpool were going to the markets, bonfire night in Sefton Park and absolutely anything from Steve’s chippy in Aigburth Vale. Not much has changed.

I’d go back to my little market town with all the latest gear. Clothes, trainies, hair accessories. My country-bumpkin friends jealous of my modern threads. I first went to school in L8 at the age of 8 with a Geordie accent. Safe to say I was ripped mercilessly for that and it soon gave way to ‘shiiikkkkennn’.

After a stint in Germany I was back again at the age of 10 to join a rough as shit school in L14. Having the audacity to tower a whole inch over the tallest girl in my class, I got my arse handed to me one day after school and was promptly moved to the upper echelons of……another, much nicer L14 school.

I moved back home to Sydney in 2000 for a short time. After working the Olympics I fucked up massively and needed my family and familiarity. So I came home, properly home. That’s when I knew this thing with me and Liverpool was serious.

I’ve made life-long friends here. I made vows here. Twice. I made some of the most incredible memories within Liverpool’s cityscape that will stay with me until my last breath. I know this city like the back of my hand. Each and every bump. It’s soundtrack, pulse and layout.

Liverpool Women’s hospital is an important place on the map for me. It’s where I changed. I shed my skin and took a new path. I grew up.

All three of my incredible little dudes were born there. Aided by equally incredible, local staff who work around the clock delivering miracles. I left my dignity at the door in exchange for knowing what love really feels like.

I’ve truly lived here. My life has fallen apart here. I’ve grafted, cried, hurt, loved, messed up, laughed til it hurt. Walked home from town in the small hours, watched the sun come and go and stared, open-mouthed as the full moon passed over the illuminated Liver Birds – for real, this actually happened.

I love the people. The polar opposites of the north and south of the city, red and blue. The scouse-ims, the drive and ambition. I adore the ‘don’t give a shit’ and ‘because I said so’ attitude. More than anything I love the solidarity. Scousers care, they love hard. And because of that, so do I.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

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For Hire: Expert Juggler

I cannot juggle balls. 

I can juggle a young family, school run, parents evenings, dentist appointments, hospital check ups, daily nosebleeds, domestic shiz, seeing my friends, meetings, writing, sketching, way too much social media, running every day and dating – ish. That’s level expert kind of stuff right? Apparently not.

2019 is an age of influencers and the belief that we can be and achieve anything our heart desires. Manifest your best life, work hard, don’t drop the ball and you shall receive. Absolutely nothing wrong with a positive attitude and strong work-ethic.

I see that go-getting, ‘no-stopping me’ approach everywhere I go, especially on social media. Inspirational quotes based on having it all, reaching for the stars, it’s all about working on your hustle. I meet friends and colleagues who are constantly in a rush. Working on this, that’s in the pipeline, meetings for this, planning for that. It’s fascinating and fucking exhausting in equal measure.

Just because we can have it all, it doesn’t mean we have to.

I’m self-employed. I’ve juggled freelance journalism/copy writing for a number of years and I love my job. I adore it. Journalism, listening, writing, stories, meeting people, working with clients, planning media strategies, learning. It constantly challenges and frustrates me. The perfect mix.

But in 2019, is a little job satisfaction enough? How many of us believe the old adage ‘find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’? I love my job. But I also love switching off my laptop, muting notifications on my phone and re-watching Sex And The City for the 74th time.

How many of us feel that working as much as humanly possible is the only way to get ahead or be deemed successful now? How many of us, and I’m definitely counted in this one, feel like a day off work is a day wasted? Maybe its the nature of freelance work. Don’t work, don’t get paid.

I’ve officially adopted my laptop. You know the way people in the US can marry door knobs or classic cars? My HP laptop is now my fourth child. It’s not even my favourite (that’s Cleo) but it’s the most needy and dependent. Or is that me? Is it lazy to be satisfied with one job and simply, get by? Is it not enough to boast about on social media? Should I be spending every waking moment trying to be ‘successful’?

Juggling is great. I think I’m really good at it. I have glowing references and it pays alright too. I’m going to give acrobatics a go next. You know, as a side hustle. That’ll look good on Instagram.

 

 

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Can You Say That Again…?

My house is all about decibels. Friday night kitchen dance-offs give Alexa a headache from K Pop overload and Lee Butler’s 051 mixtapes…..

My three are early risers and so the racket begins from around 6am with renditions of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ as my alarm wakes the street. Cue jumping on the bed (them not me) and scootering around the kitchen when the washing machine hits full spin and Channel 5’s Milkshake presenters cry ‘Stomp and roar like a dinosaur’ for the 15th time that morning.

After hair dyers, tumble dryers, Radio City and Beats have been turned off and put away, the morning traffic, school kids, mobile phone alerts, blaring horns and schools bells replace the din.

 

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Day-rider toting, bus wanker complete with Kanye morning playlist turned up on Beats.

 

On the way to work the buses are packed with fellow commuters chatting too loudly on phones or to each other about how late/tired/overworked they are. Other people’s headphones vibrate with every genre, prompting me to turn mine up, much to the annoyance of the lady who sits next to me on the 10a from Knotty Ash. She’s not a fan of early morning Kanye.

At work the banter (I love that word, sorry not sorry) ranges from quiet words and carefully orchestrated meetings, taking turns to speak and listen in turn….to mad office sing alongs, multiple takes during filming and raucous laughter on location with clients. The thoughts, conversations and ideas running through my mind to their own beat.

Afternoon school run is again chaotic. Singing, chatting, talking about our day, what’s for dinner, homework and bedtime negotiations ensue. Dinner time at the table always, ALWAYS involves a spilled drink, which is swiftly followed by shouts of blame, rolling eyes and tired smiles.

Bedtime is a softer kind of noise, and man, I make those stories last as long as possible, knowing that when I’ve finished the 4th rendition of Oh No George….it all stops. At 8pm the only sound is the TV, or if I chance throwing the Dyson around.

The silence is deafening and it reeks of loneliness. You’d think that after a busy day with three kids, work and a 5km commute on busy roads, I’d be glad to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet? Sometimes I do, but it doesn’t last. The bird song and the far away sonic booms make me crave someone to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet with.

Alexa…….play…..anything

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Close All Browser Windows?

It’s 08:21 and so far this morning……..

I have stripped beds, put laundry on, made breakfast for the kids, washed up last night’s dishes, emptied the household bins, tripped out the front door in my pjays and ugg boots with said bin bags, re-wound my toddlers first yo-yo 3,985 times, checked to see what’s in for dinner, stuck the heating on, put cartoons on, organised colouring in, finally nipped for a wee and boiled the kettle……..twice.

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Whatever

I was supposed to be writing a minute by minute account of what my day is really like. It’s Thursday morning, the kids are off on half term break and I necked two Kopparberg and two glasses of wine while watching Sleepless in Seattle last night, so I’m less than fresh.

 

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Where Mummy’s go for a bit of peace

 

I’m taking the kids into the city today to do some cultural shiz, art gallery, museum, central library etc. They’re so desperate for a Gumball and Darwin figure from McDonalds that they’re willing to appease me through a couple of stories and ten minutes admiring my favourite Impressionist painting of all time. It’s the little pleasures that matter on days when you’ve got 469 mental browser windows open and battling with being all things to all people.

 

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I wont look better than this today

 

A friend suggested writing a blow by blow diary of a ‘normal day’ to see if I can take a different view on how I manage my time and commitments. It’s a great idea in essence but because I suck as time management I’ve not been able to fit it into my day – hmmm.

So here I am, typing with one hand, the other is holding Miraculous Ladybug as she kicks Spiderman’s arse, I’m being forced to watch Power Rangers and I’ve still got a 500 word article due before I bath the kids, wash breakfast dishes, grab a shower, iron, pack a day bag and head out the door for some R&R.

What’s your day looking like?

x

 

 

 

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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.

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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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