The Turk

I thought this picture might be apt, the pineapples above the arch are said to be fertility symbols!
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For those who have read my profile and/or initial post it may have become apparent that my husband, aka the Turk, is not from the UK.  Unsurprisingly he’s Turkish (hence the name) so I thought I’d take this opportunity to preempt any of the questions (yes seriously) I get asked when people find out I’m married to a Turk:

  1.  No I did not meet him at a bar in Turkey
  2. There was no holiday romance, we met in London at work
  3. No he is not my mail order groom
  4. He did not offer any camels in exchange for my hand in marriage
  5. Yes, major culture difference
  6. I do love kebabs it’s true
  7. He supports Galatasaray (which oddly my computer keeps trying to autocorrect to Taramasalata…my favourite food!)
  8. Yes he speaks English
  9. No, I don’t speak Turkish
  10. No, my inlaws don’t speak English or live in the UK
  11. I realise that the above means I am indeed lucky

It’s an odd thing actually now that we have a child, there’s always been a culture difference (just compare the Turks idea of a good breakfast; a variety of cheese, bread, eggs and green peppers, with mine; full English – extra hash browns and bacon with brown sauce) but this is highlighted when it comes to child-rearing (more on this in a later post).  I often catch myself thinking about what Jem will be like when he grows up, a little bilingual boy with parents who can’t agree on a holiday destination or type of sausage.  I hope that he takes the best from both cultures and fortunately we live in a very multi-ethnic part of London so hopefully he won’t feel out of place when he goes to school, our little Turklish boy!

Damp

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The dehumidifier rumbles on…

drowning out voices saying “damp be gone”

Rising, dripping, seeping through…

We stare in wonder “what shall we do”

pipes and leaks, they have all been tested…

But still the water comes, never arrested

Love your house, love your home…

With all this damp we’re never alone.

Returning to work – the plan and how it worked…

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I am a domestic goddess…

I am a supermum…

I can handle ANYTHING….

This is my plan:

Now that we are a few months in I thought I would update you on how it’s going…or not…or maybe it is…

The first couple of weeks went really well, I left work on time, convinced that I would overcome the mahoosive workload pretty quickly, returned home, dinner was on the table and after the boy was in bed I prepared the next day’s meal.

The Turk took to housekeeping like a duck to water, laundry was done, he coped well with Wednesdays (the day he cooks) and after the first fortnight we had a fab first fun Friday (I have every other Friday off work) in the park with our NCT friends in glorious surroundings, sun, and wine ;)

 

My motivation did start to drop off rather, by week 4 the Turk complained that I hadn’t cooked a meal all week, I managed a night out and was staying late one day a week at work.  My formerly flexible employer who had allowed ad hoc working from home and provided a laptop was no longer so flexible.  My workload was as large as it had previously been, which I have no complaints about, but whereas I had always worked an extra 1-2 hours a day I was now pretty much restricted to my working hours, I work through lunch every day and was gaining about an extra hour a day but when I added in the much needed second hour I missed the boy’s bedtime.  By week 6 after finding out that I wouldn’t be allowed a laptop to work the additional hours at home I had my first ‘crying at work’ incident since I was a trainee.  I have no objection to working extra, it’s the nature of my job, but I had relied upon the former flexibility I had experienced.  I negotiated with the Turk that one day a week I will not be coming home and I will need to decide if this is to go out or to stay late at work, it seems fair to me, I know what it’s like to be stuck at home all day.  This relieved my mind somewhat but I still find the unfairness of the decision is so frustrating that part of me doesn’t want to do the extra work, although I know this will put my job at risk.

 

In the Turk’s world he is also finding it difficult, keeping up with the boy is tough particularly when he is so cleaning focussed and wants to do other bits and pieces – it is getting easier as he is able to entertain himself more and more but I know he finds it frustrating.  Jem has developed a real love of CBeebies over the last few weeks which I don’t know if I am entirely happy with having managed to entertain him without tv for the first 14 months…but I know how difficult it is to get anything done.

In short, it’s going pretty well despite the glitches.  I am spending far too much time in the evenings working on my blogs and not enough time cooking, doing housework or with my husband.  The Turk is spending far too much time doing housework and not actually playing with the boy (I’ll tell you about the locking out of the house incident another time).  He is taking him to singing once a week and playgroup every week though which is going really well, he let’s Jem be much more adventurous than I ever would and that’s great.  I don’t have it all, the house is still in the same state as it was in April, I am stressed about work and sometimes Jem misses me.  These are all solvable with a little more flexibility from my employer so I am going to keep working on that and not just give up, nothing ventured nothing gained…maybe I need to become a full time blogger lol!

Autocorrelation correct

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What does it mean I hear you ask?

Well, I’m not sure, I wanted to write “autocorrect” but apparently my phone doesn’t recognise this…or have any facility for me to add a new word…since I changed phones I have made even less sense than normal.

My fingers seemed too big for the QWERTY keyboard but the predictive text function appears to be gibberish…is it a sign of my age?!

I have always loved autocorrect, but recently it doesn’t seem to love me, I cannot work out how to add my husband’s name so consequently I always refer to him as a food type, I’ve stopped explaining it to people.  The default setting on my autocorrect for “I” is “g” which makes for odd conversations…again I have reached the point where that’s just what I do I can no longer be bothered to stress about it or explain it – if you don’t know by now what the issue is then I don’t speak to you often enough and should delete you from What’s App.

I think the biggest shock might have been “crap” it’s one of my favourite words, but with autocorrects insistence I must resort to other words: unfair, rubbish, poo are good alternatives although when I really am tired I just leave it as “bras”.

There is one distinct advantage since I have developed my autocorrect inability, and that is that I am more likely to use proper words rather than abbreviations as my phone won’t recognise them…”ur” no longer cuts it *sigh* I feel middle age approaching.

Happy eBaying

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I have never really been much of a fan of eBay, I mean, buying other people’s used stuff…?

However, as some of you will know, my attitude to “pre-loved” stuff changed in recent years, shortly after I discovered the joy of Freecycling.

I didn’t really get into eBay though, I saw a few things but I never felt very happy bidding, it was only when I was pregnant that I became slightly addicted!  There were so many things I wanted but I couldn’t justify buying them, after several unsuccessful attempts I managed to nab a Baby Bjorn in excellent condition and I’ve even been known to send my parents to North Yorkshire to pick up a coat stand (£1 BARGAIN!!!)

Anyway I’m not writing about my shopping…because no one needs to know the true extent of my guilt

I want to talk to you about selling.  The truth is no matter how much you can get from Freecycle, Gumtree, gifts or eBay there are still things that you want or need.  Put buying a house and trying to extend it in two places and rennovate it from scratch whilst on maternity leave and finances become very tight.

I decided to venture into selling on eBay to try and raise a little extra cash.  I have an embarrassing (not) amount of shoes which perhaps I don’t need (especially as post pregnancy I’m really not up to +4″ heels no matter how much I kid myself) and several items of clothing I either have never worn, can no longer fit into, or just don’t actually wear.  Usually when I have an annual clear out I end up with bin liners full of clothes to take to the charity shop so I felt a little bad about trying to raise funds for myself rather than for someone else, but needs must.

Now, given my purchases I was expecting a bidding war when I put my items on.  I decided to start with a pair of brand new shoes bought at Faith years and years ago.  They were black leather and absolutely stunning.  They had cost around £35 in the sale but I had worn them once, they were uncomfortable, a little too big and slippy on my work floors.  I put them on in front of the mirror many times but would never wear them again.  I popped them on with some fab pics and…

…BOOM…

I got my first bid :)

Ok so £2 isn’t great…I waited and waited, but it was my only bid.

I had put on my postage cost correctly but overall by the time I had packaged and sent I was doing it for virtually nothing and wished I’d just Freecycled them or taken them to the numerous charity shops lining my street.

I was rather scared off and just carried on as I was, as I opened up bin liners of clothes that had been wrapped up for a year I just took stuff to the charity shop or kept it under the bed.  That’s when I decided to do a bit more research into eBay and give it another go.  Whilst I’m no expert and don’t make a fortune, it has been a good way of raising a little bit of extra cash whilst clearing out unwanted stuff from our home.

I should feel embarrassed that I have eBayed gifts, second hand things people gave us (family not Freecycle) for our home, baby things and things that I have bought and never used.  But I don’t.

Ultimately if there are things in our home taking up space that we don’t use or wear then they are, to some extent, costing us money in the form of space.  I am a real hoarder so I do find it difficult to get rid of things and have had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t always get the money I want for things.  However, I have now instigated a strict one in one out policy for personal purchases, so selling something makes me feel pretty good as I know I can go out and buy something else!

Ok, so that’s not really a good motivation, and certainly doesn’t fit in with the amazing Say No to New campaign…which I do really want to take part in…but ultimately I love to shop and will do it regardless, so if I can get rid of a bit of the tut it makes us all a bit happier!  It also helps me to save (…no seriously…keep reading…) because my PayPal account stores up the money from selling, I pay the postage fees out and then get a pleasant surprise when I have more money to draw out than I think (because I forget I’ve already paid postage…)

As it has been such a positive experience I thought I would share my top tips with you:

  1. Get a great title – the best eBay titles are not necessarily catchy or appealing.  What they are is informative, remember people aren’t going to search “cute little gold shrug” but they might search “evening” “outfit” “bolero” “short cardigan”.  It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t really make sense as long as it has all the relevant information.
  2. Describe your item well, it helps prevent questions (although you will still get some stupid ones and some pertinent ones) and protects you if there are any complaints about your item in due course.
  3. Keep your tape measure handy – accurate charges for postage are key.  The Royal Mail Price finder will help (I have it saved as a favourite) and I picked up a leaflet at one point with the sizes of packages so I could check them at home easily.
  4. Get to know your postie – as above be careful with your postage and don’t be afraid to argue if the post office tries to charge you for a small parcel when you know you have packed a large letter (yes I have…no I’m not proud of it).  For example our large Post Office always does this, but our local branch always double checks the size with their measurement thingy (technical Post Office equipment name).  I like to go along with a post it of what I am expecting to be charged on each parcel.  If in doubt make sure you err on the side of caution when setting your postage cost.
  5. Charge realistically – remember your postage isn’t just the cost of sending it, you should package well (see below) and remember you pay commission both to eBay and PayPal on your postage.  If you charge £2.80 and that’s what you will pay to post it, you can expect to lose over 40p of that to commission, leaving you out of pocket.  If you don’t mind taking the hit that’s fine, but if it matters to you set a realistic postage cost.  I like to put a line at the bottom of all my adverts warning buyers that my postage costs may seem high, but they reflect the actual cost of sending.  I don’t aim to make a profit on postage but I also don’t subsidise it, my view is I am up front and if people don’t want to pay it they don’t have to.
  6. Be certain you want to sell – as with my first sale I was drawn into the guidance on eBay to start the sale at 99p.  If you just want rid that’s fine, but if not then set a starting price you won’t be disappointed with.  The majority of my sales go on the first bid (and I’m often known to just close the auction when I get a bid because I set my prices as what I want) so if you would be disappointed selling at that price then either raise it or don’t sell it.  I have a few things I really like and have hung onto or kept relisting when they don’t sell, it doesn’t bother me not to get rid of them.  On the other hand I had a dress that I had little attachment to and had never worn despite paying £30 for it over 10 years ago, it never fit and was never going to, so I kept reducing the price until it went.  I made a loss but it was better than nothing!
  7. Don’t be bogged down with feedback - I had one very unfair poor review and it upset me. It’s not stopped others buying and now I couldn’t care less.  If you do get poor feedback have a think about it and if it’s fair then you need to tackle it, but if not don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s not an actual job!
  8. Package well – I am really careful with packing, if it’s a nice item I will wrap in wrapping paper or the thin paper you wrap gifts in…can’t think of the name…then place in a carrier bag and then wrap.  The reason is (a) everyone likes to unwrap something, it adds to the excitement! (b) a carrier offers some (albeit minimal) protection if the packaging gets torn or wet.  I like to use large envelopes if the items will fit, they tend to be more secure, but if it’s too large I buy brown paper from Poundland.  I go through tonnes and tonnes of tape, brown all around the package/envelope and clear over the address.  Maybe I overdo it but no one has complained!
  9. Don’t pay to list – i only ever list on free listing days/weekends.  The more you sell the greater your selling allowances become so be wary of overlisting on those days!  I have paid some fees, if someone messages me and makes an offer I have relisted at a buy it now price so that we can complete straight away instead of waiting until the end of the auction, but otherwise I just won’t pay!
  10. Get excited when something sells!

Seriously, if you are wanting more information check out Money Saving Expert or eBay itself for more top tips!

A sticky situation…

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It’s a bit tiring now the boy is on the move so much.  He is fascinated by cupboards and this has been an issue.  We don’t have any safety things to tie them together (…are you really surprised?) and sadly some of our cupboards aren’t technically attached to anything…

We had an incident at the weekend where a floor cabinet fell on the boy, luckily he wasn’t hurt (it was terrifyingly close) but shocked (chocolate buttons helped…) but it really did demonstrate how complacent we have been about the dangers of our half finished house.

We now have elastic bands round some of the door cupboards, but this won’t work with the single ones so I’m at a bit of a loss.  The doors have only been on a couple of months and I’m loathed to put holes in my new kitchen if I can avoid it.

The point of this story (no, seriously, cabinet falling on child wasn’t the point) is that when I came home from work today I was met by a delighted boy and a red cheeked Turk.  The story was that whilst the Turk was making a salad (dinner was in the oven – see my journey to having it all!) he had his back to the boy who promptly went into the breakfast cupboard (yes – it needs it’s own cupboard – if you haven’t read the post then don’t ask!) and feasted on the honey jar.

I can just imagine the look on the Turk’s face when he found the boy eating his stash!  He was licking it off the silicon stirrer / drizzler thing apparently and there’s honey EVERYWHERE!!! Including all over his sticky sticky face.  What is pretty impressive is that he got my ceramic honeypot out of the cupboard without dropping it – I totally know he can walk he just doesn’t do it when anyone is looking!

 

…if he gets his grubby paws on my nutella there’s going to be a fight…

Positive mental attitude…or just attitude

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I’ve always struggled with a poor opinion of myself, since having a baby it hasn’t taken much to either spin me off into a tantrum or tears…either way it’s not ideal and I would like to have a bit better grip on my emotions.

Admittedly sometimes it’s acceptable, being sad about the following is understandable:

  • watching Oxfam adverts;
  • films;
  • your cat going missing, even if they turn up the next morning (because one day the worst could happen…);
  • hearing about bad things on the news (especially if these involve children).

Sometimes it’s right to get mad, acceptable causes of red mist include:

  • the Turk referring to the need for him to look after our son about one evening a fortnight when I do voluntary work as babysitting;
  • people who waste food;
  • people who try to get into lifts/buses before me and the buggy have left the lift/bus.

But sometimes it’s not really acceptable, a few weeks ago a man walked virtually into me (making me shift my buggy and my lazy backside) grumbling that I was going in through the exit at the supermarket (for the record I wasn’t, it’s one big opening…in and out…it made no sense) and I had to bite my tongue to stop me kicking off big stylee in front of (a) my 10 month old and (b) the potentially crazy old man and (c) the 30 dodgy looking yoofs hanging outside Morrisons…so I stayed quiet, then promptly burst into tears when the Turk met us inside the store.

A couple of days ago I got my first negative feedback on eBay (with hindsight I can see some of the points being made but relatively unfair criticism) and I actually had to fight back tears.  Why does it matter?  I will never meet this person, who cares if they don’t buy anything else from me there are thousands of other eBayers and all I sell are old clothes and shoes, it’s just a way to declutter, not my sole income.  But this interaction did make me realise just how close to the surface my emotions are at the moment.

It’s a bit like having permanent PMT, which always leaves me on a knife edge.  I was very emotional during pregnancy but thought that this far on I would have settled back down to “normal”.

So I’m going to attempt to change it, when I was a child my dad used to send me potty by talking about how all issues could be solved with a positive mental attitude (“PMA” he would shout up the stairs as I stormed off…).

Tomorrow I am going to have a positive day, I will not feel rage, I will be the bigger person and rise above anyone who riles me.  I will not shout at my baby when he pulls out my hair or bites me, I will instead calmly distract him with toys or breadsticks.  I will not get annoyed at the Turk when he leaves plates in the sink rather than the dishwasher or turns up late for every meal.  I will not be sad about the news, I will think instead about what I can do to help the situation.  Charity adverts will not disturb me but move me to pick up the phone and donate…giving me warm fuzzy feelings.

Yes, I am turning a corner, I will no longer have attitude (or an ugly crying face)…I will be positive…

Just for one day mind.