Wednesday 29 November 2017

Celebrating Wednesday's #28

Well here we are again. I must say, after such a long time of not doing our little Wednesday slot, it feels a little odd to be back, but in a good way. It's nice to have a day of the week where you know what you have to do and there is a definite focus. It does take the pressure off just a wee bit. Fellow bloggers will know that coming up with content can sometimes be a real challenge. Writers block is, indeed, a real thing.

Thankfully, that is not a problem today because here we are, ready to celebrate the middle of the week. Not only is it downhill to the weekend from here, but it is also a special day.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

5 Tips for Raising Your Teenage Girl

If you're a regular reader of Little Orange Dog, you'll know that I am mum to two girls, one teen and one tween. They're pretty amazing young ladies and if you've read my post A Letter to my Girls you'll know just how proud I am of them. Only today, I was immensely proud of Miss. D. Despite having had a migraine since yesterday afternoon, and still feeling very unwell, she got herself up, showered and ready for school. One look at her, and it was obvious she was being very optimistic. If I'd let her go in I guarantee I would have been collecting her by 9am and bringing her home again. It's those little things they do that surprise me and make me burst with pride.

It all sounds very idyllic doesn't it. The three of us sound like the perfect little family don't we? Well for the most part, everyone does get on. Of course the girls fall out from time to time. Yes they get stroppy on the odd occasion, dare I say it, Miss. L can get very moody and morose, but for the most part, it's all good.

So here's what I've learnt about raising Teen Girls.

1) Hormones start to kick in a wee bit before they hit their teens. They start getting all attitudey (I believe I may have created a word there) and it just gets worse. You never know if your sweet little girl is going to be just that, or if she's going to be an angry, fire breathing dragon. And even when you've worked out which version of your daughter is in front of you, the speed at which she can morph into the other version is unbelievable. My advice. Do not rise to the bait. If you take that angry monster on, you are not going to win, you will only end up feeding it and making it angrier. Pick your battles wisely; let them shout, stamp upstairs and slam their bedroom door and when they've calmed down - I repeat when they've calmed down, talk it out.

2) Periods this is number two on the list as it ties in with number one. Your teen will be a raging bag of hormones once a month, guaranteed. Follow the advice above, keep a good supply of chocolate in the house, and if you need to approach her, do so armed with said chocolate and a huge amount of caution. Be ready to beat a hasty retreat!

3) Sleeping is her favourite past time. She will become like a little hibernating creature. The little girl who used to run around the house like a loon, now needs to sleep, sleep and sleep some more. Even when she's not asleep, don't count on seeing her. She will still be in her room, which has now become her sanctuary from which she will only venture out in order to feed.

4) Eating is almost like a pastime. She will eat you out of house and home, then complain there's no food in the house. Know that you are responsible for replenishing food supplies that have been depleted, even though you thought there was still an abundance of said item (this will anger the teen, refer to number one for a quick refresher on how to deal with your angry hormonal teen). Note also, that when the teen tells you there is no food in the house, they mean, there is only healthy food left in the house and that simply won't do.

5) Friends are the cause of all happiness and all dramas. I strongly suggest not trying to keep up with who has fallen out with whom, it changes on an almost daily basis. Going out with friends is almost as important as sleeping. Be prepared to run a taxi service for your teen and her friends. Also be prepared for your teen to 'tell' you what her plans are, rather than asking (I'm going to point you back to number one here, there's potential for this to go very pear shaped). In addition to this, get used to the odd sleepless night (yes I know, you thought those days were behind you), when you have a teenage sleepover there's not a whole lot of sleeping goes on and they have no idea how loudly they are giggling.

So, those are my five key tips for keeping the peace and getting along with your teen. It's a bit tongue in cheek, but joking aside, these are the key areas I try to pay attention to when they're getting a bit stroppy. They're not doing it on purpose, they're just testing the boundaries a bit and trying to deal with their fast changing world. Take a step back, breath and think back to when you were a teenager. The calmer you're able to be, the quicker they will calm down and the more likely they will be to talk to you about their fears and concerns. Growing up is scary.

Other posts related to raising teen girls:

Tea, Teens and Consent


Monday 27 November 2017

What Happening?

Hmmm, I is spending a huge amount of time curled up on the sofa at the moment and I not sure why. Usually, my mummy take me out lots. Sometimes, her take me out too much and I really not want to go. Me has done moaning before when her take me out one too many times. Little Orange me walked very slowly and made quite clear me not a happy little boy.

I not know what happened. Me think that the mummy is not the real mummy. I not know who this mummy is, but something just not right at all. Her look like my mummy and her smell like my mummy. I done lots of sniffing of her because me not convinced this is my mummy, but her must be because she smell like mummy. Her not mummy though.

Her still feed me and give me water. Sometimes, her still brush me. Miss. L brushes me most of the time, she seems to enjoy it...I don't, I like to look like a scruffy boy. Mummy not take me for a walk for long time though. Her did take me, but when we got back she made funny noise and her eyes leaked.

Sometimes her play fetch with me, but not very often. She smell like my mummy, but I so sad because mummy isn't the same mummy and me miss her lots.

This mummy, not go out. Her stay indoors and do the funny noise, leaky eye thing lots and lots. Me sit on her feet and try to be the bestest boy in the whole widest world. Mummy loves it when me keep her feet warm so her eyes shouldn't leak, but me doing something wrong because they do still do leaking. Me fidget about in case me not keeping all her feets warm, but it not stop. Her smell like mummy, but it can't be.

Miss. L takes me for my walks. We have fun together. Me love both my girls so much, but me wish mummy would take me out too. My girls are the bestest. Them tell me mummy love me, but her not feel well at the moment. Maybe that why other mummy here. Me think real mummy is on a holiday somewhere getting mended. Me hope so.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Dying Your Hair - Read This First

It is a well known fact that we ladies like to look our best. We spend an absolute age on making sure we look just right. Come on girls, how long do we spend showering, exfoliating, defuzzing and moisturising? Probably far too long and that's before we even get started with our hair and make up. We might even indulge in the odd facial, massage and mani or pedi, oh, and don't forget the trips to the hairdressers. You see where I'm going with this now? You see for many of us a trip to the hairdresser may well involve having our hair coloured. For others, it will be a trip to the shops and colouring at home.

I colour my hair. I had a crazy idea back in August or September that it would be fun to just let it go grey to see what it was like, but frankly, I got bored and dyed it again. The issue I have, is that I have to dye it around once a week, once every week and a half if I'm really lucky. The reason being I can only use temporary dyes which last 6 - 8 washes (they never last that long, I hasten to add) because I am allergic to any other chemical dyes. Today, I went to the hairdressers, and not having tested a salon dye, we thought let's give it a try. Knowing full well what the likely outcome would be, I rolled up my sleeve and we did a patch test. This is the result.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Celebrating Wednesday's #27

It's been a long, long time since last we celebrated a Wednesday. I'll be honest, some weeks it was getting just a tad difficult to muster up the enthusiasm to celebrate what was on offer. I have to say though, that I have also, kind of missed it a little bit and so here we are starting over(ish) again with our 27th celebration.

It wasn't too much of a chore this week either because there is only one day to choose from, or rather, there was no choice, which makes it easier. It also makes it easier if it's something you can actually do. And so, please get ready to celebrate...

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Depression - My View

We're all different and we all view things differently. This is no less true of our individual experiences of depression and other mental health issues. There will be similar themes that run through our journeys, but none will be exactly the same. This is how I view depression, and how I try and explain it to people, or one of the ways.

As we all know by now, I live with depression. I was first diagnosed eight years ago and received some amazing CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) back then. Together with my medication, it has helped me to deal with the condition and to manage any episodes that I've had since my first diagnosis. That is until now. Now I have had my meds increased and am waiting for a fresh round of CBT. In my post Hippo Tours, I reflected on my depression and shared ways in which I was trying to manage it, or rather be distracted from it.

Monday 20 November 2017

An Eye Opener

Well, there I was yesterday afternoon, desperately racking my brains for something to write about, building ideas and what do you know? I end up getting exactly what I wished for, content. Let me go back to the morning though; trust me, none of this will make sense otherwise.

Much as I didn't want to, I had to get up before 8am yesterday. I had a delivery coming and the time slot was 8.30am - 5pm. So, I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and jumped (more like climbed slowly) into the shower in a vague attempt at waking myself up. It seemed to work, well sort of. I then had a dither about what I would be doing that day and did I need to put my contact lens in. I decided the contact lens would be needed as I was going to be on the laptop working whilst waiting for the delivery man to arrive. And bonus! That little lens went in like a dream.

A Letter To My Girls

To My Wonderful Daughters,

You are both amazing, beautiful, intelligent and funny. I am so very, very proud of you. Every time I think I've worked you out, you do something else that surprises me; usually in a good way.

You are both growing up now, you no longer need me as much as you used to. You go out with your own friends and do things you want to do. You are discovering who you are and where you belong in this World. You're working hard at school and achieving so much more than I ever did, you clever things. Who would have thought I could produce two girls who are such good mathematicians! I struggled so much in that subject, but you both seem to find it easy. Did I mention, how very proud I am of you both.

You are kind girls. You think of others and you're not afraid to stand up for people you see being bullied. You're not afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Don't lose that. It will stand you in good stead. You will do good things that will help change lives with your kindness, compassion and dislike for injustice, but be prepared, it will also land you in hot water from time to time. Don't worry. If it is something you truly believe in and believe it is worth fighting for keep going. People will always get upset if you show them something isn't right. I will be proud of you.

Follow your heart and dream big. You can do whatever you want to do. Only you stand in your way. Never walk on anyone to get where you want to go though, and never be walked on (I know you won't, you're too strong and stubborn for that). Be kind always, and work hard. The people who take short cuts to get what they want, are the ones who won't appreciate what they have, and won't work to keep it. Never give up. I will be proud of you.

I cannot tell you how in awe of you I am. I know that life at home is not easy for either of you at the moment. When I was your ages, I could not have coped with all you are dealing with now. I have always been very open with you about my illness. You know that I live with depression, and you have seen me suffer with it over the years. This time, I know that I am much worse than I have ever been. I try not to cry in front of you, but I have failed so much, and you have seen me sobbing my heart out uncontrollably. I apologise, and you both tell me it's OK, you know it's not my fault, you know I am not well. It fills me with pride and it hurts me too that you have to be so strong and understanding. I am so proud of you.

Miss. L, thank you for the endless cups of tea you provide. Thank you for walking our Little Orange Doggy because I cannot (I secretly think he prefers walks with you). Thank you for helping me to collect the shopping, cook dinners and with jobs around the house. You are awesome!

Miss. D thank you for being a fabulous big sister, I know you are always looking out for your little sister, especially at the moment. Thank you for understanding how difficult anxiety makes it for me to go out and do 'normal' things. Thank you for speaking to your teacher about your concerns over parents evening. You are such a thoughtful awesome girl!

I know that I am not myself. I know that your normal happy, laid back, crazy, fun mum isn't around. I know I am just an empty shell of myself at the moment, and I cannot begin to understand how difficult it must be for you both. Please know, I am trying so hard. Every day I try, because I love you both so much. I know that you worry about me and I know that it is affecting you so much more than you will ever let on to me. Talk to your Dad, talk to your teachers and your friends. Please, do not keep how you feel locked inside.

Talk to each other. Remember that whatever life brings, you will always have your sister. You may not always like each other, but I know that you love one another very much, even when you won't admit it to me or your sister.

You are amazing girls. I love you so much and I am so very proud of you.

With all my love,

Mum xxx

This Mum's Life



Tuesday 14 November 2017

Why I Love Twitter!

Before I entered the weird and wonderful world of blogging, I was a lover of Facebook. I liked it, it was easy to use, easy to connect with people and well, no character limitations on status updates. However, I have changed my mind.

For me, Twitter is the primary social media channel for blogging. With my personal Twitter account I found the character limitation a real bore, but with the blog account, no issue whatsoever, or perhaps I have just got used to it. Who knows? I haven't done a huge amount to grow my following on social media yet, but even so, I find Twitter much easier to grow than Facebook.

My main reason for loving Twitter so much though, is the fabulous sense of community. Unlike Facebook, people actually interact with one another regularly. OK, it's possible it's mainly us bloggers, holed up in our homes neglecting our blogs and having a good old natter instead. I put my hand up to that one. And yes, we are the ones who leave the room for a couple of minutes and come back to find the best part of 100 notifications. We clearly chat too much!

I'm not complaining though. Not at all, it's what I love, and if I'm honest, over the past few weeks it's what has kept me going. Having that sense of community. Knowing that there are people online at almost every hour of the day, has been a lifeline.

It's a place where I finally feel like I belong and people genuinely understand. OK it's possible they don't understand my crazy, sometimes random sense of humour, but they certainly understand the struggles I face with my mental health and the support I have received has been very much appreciated. They seem to understand the best way to deal with me is by using humour. No matter how low I may be feeling, after a couple of gif's I've forgotten about being sad. I've forgotten about feeling lonely and I'm chatting away to a bunch of crazy ladies (and the odd gent) as though we're all sat in the same room drinking tea and eating cake.

Sometimes, I think it's a real shame that we are scattered far and wide, but it may be a blessing; I know there are one or two bloggers whom, if we lived in close proximity, I for one would never get any work done and far too much cake would be consumed.

So, what then is the point of this slightly random and disjointed post? Well, it is essentially a great big thank you and a virtual hug to my fellow bloggers on Twitter. Thank you for being there, thank you for being crazy daisies, thank you for making me laugh and for laughing at me. You're all fabulous!

Run Jump Scrap

Mum Muddling Through

DIY Daddy

Sunday 12 November 2017

Hippo Tours - The Story

Somewhere, in a deep dark forest, in the county of Kent, is a very special place indeed. It’s a place like no other. A place where you can do something you cannot do anywhere else in the whole wide world. I have no idea how such a place came to be located in Kent, which is more famously known for its orchards and hop gardens, but that’s where this strange and wonderful secret attraction is.

It is a very secret place indeed. Only very special people get an invitation, and if you tell anyone you have such a thing, it instantly becomes void. It’s all terribly top secret and with good reason. If anyone were to find out where the forest is and what is located there, well there would be all sorts of repercussions, I can tell you. Before I tell you any more of this closely guarded secret, let me explain a little about how it came to be.

Friday 10 November 2017

Hippo Tours

So perhaps the title is just a little misleading? Many, very sincere apologies if you are expecting to read a piece about hippo spotting in Africa, but please, bear with, because it will hopefully all become clear as we go along (don't hold me to that though).

If you read my last post Moving Forward, you'll know that although it's taken me a while, I have finally given in and accepted that I really need help to fix myself this time. Depression is an absolute beast to live with, you never know when it might creep up on you and it really did creep up this time, and it's made a bloody huge mess.

Looking back over the past few months, I can actually see it creeping in. Little things were constantly playing on my mind. Things which should not have been an issue, but were. The absence of friends bothered me for a long time. It shouldn't have. I should just have let go then. Inconsistency in my working life. It's part of my job, normally it wouldn't worry me because I plan for it, but that was creeping in and becoming an issue too. It really is a sneaky little sod the way it creeps up so quietly before going in for the final kill.

Today I went to see my GP. I've seen her recently and we had a chat about how I was feeling. Today, we had a more serious chat and I admitted to her that I am really struggling. It's difficult trying to put yourself back together with just a handful of people to support you. Sometimes, you need a bit more help from the right people.

Working from home as I do is isolating anyway, but right now, it feels like a prison. I struggle to go out on my own. It just causes anxiety. That drives me absolutely nuts because I know what it is and I know I should be able to control it, but I can't, which probably makes it worse, to be fair. There is no probably about it, it does make it worse. Then when I am at home, I think too much about anything and everything. I can't switch my mind off and I have few distractions.

So, I have made a huge effort to keep myself distracted and to use my time for self development. I figure that by doing as many online courses as I possibly can, I'm keeping my mind occupied and learning new skills which I can use in my blogging, and hopefully in future work. It has helped, it keeps me more or less distracted and I am learning a lot. I should really give myself a pat on the back for that. I won't of course, but I should.

Thankfully, for those times when my mind is going ten to the dozen,  Martyn is always on the other end of the phone and it was during one of my 'help me' conversations that Hippo Tours came about.

Martyn, or SAF (Super Annoying Friend) as I like to call him, is one of the few people who actually 'gets' me. He knows when to let me sob my heart out, rant, or just be plain stupid. He will never, ever offer an ounce of sympathy, you don't get a 'there, there, it will all be alright.' What you get is the brutal, honest truth and being called a d*#k, and quite frankly, that works for me. He also knows exactly when to use humour with me.

Hence, this week when I suggested I took up something safe such as shark diving, lion taming or hippo wrangling (I can't recall why I suggested it), I forgot all about being sad for a few minutes and instead was laughing and formulating a crazy plan with Mr. K to launch Hippo Tours, the only tour in the world where you get to ride your very own hippo.

It's a crazy stupid fantasy, borne out of two frankly, rather disturbed minds, but whilst I am waiting for my counselling to be scheduled and to just start feeling vaguely normal again, I'm going to cling to Hippo Tours because it genuinely makes me smile to think of hippos waddling around with saddles on their backs. Who knows, it might turn in to a thing all of it's own. Now I wonder if there's an online course on hippo psychology that I can complete.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Moving Forward

I'm sat in front of this blank screen knowing I need to write something, but not knowing how to. Little Orange Dog has always been intended to be a creative outlet and a therapeutic tool for me, but I never wanted the therapy side of it to take over. That's not how it is at the moment though and honestly, I'm not sure how I'm going to get it back on track anytime soon. Each time I genuinely feel I've turned a corner and am on a clear path, a huge wall looms up ahead. If you read my post My Week on Beta Blockers, you'll know that I have already sought help, and so I was hoping things would get better, but it is just relentless.

I beat myself up over it regularly because I know I have all the tools and skills to deal with this situation, and yet I keep getting knocked back. I think, perhaps, I mean it's ever so slightly possible, that I am being too hard on myself and expecting too much of myself. I am my own worst enemy. I don't have time not to be OK and I don't like not being OK. Quite frankly, it sucks and I just want to get out of it. Being kind to myself is not a natural thing at all. I am my harshest critic and I expect way more of myself than I do anyone else.

Monday 6 November 2017

Lighting it Up

Before I start, don't get too excited, this is not a 'seasonal' post. It's far too early for that in my opinion. Yes, I realise that it is now November, but can I please get through Bonfire night first. Perhaps then I might start to feel a little sparkly and glittery. For now, I am talking about a whole lot of different lights.

Now I don't know if it's my age, stress, or if I am just very, very special, but I am beginning to think that now might just be a good time to put me out of my misery, because the list of things starting to go wrong with me are growing by the day, at least that's how it feels. Honestly, if I were a horse (OK I know I'm too short to be a horse, more a pony) you would likely have taken me out to a field and shot me by now.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Online Dating Disasters

Yesterday was a good day. The morning saw me prepping a beef stew in my pj's and popping the slow cooker on, then relaxing with a cuppa...all before 7.15am. How good am I? The afternoon was spent with my super annoying friend, Martyn. Now we always have a laugh together, but yesterday was just the cherry on the cake.

Let me explain. As a knee jerk reaction to being dumped, I in my infinite wisdom joined a dating site. Now I am clearly not ready to be dating anyone, anytime soon and frankly, that is just as well given the quality of match's I am receiving. I've been moaning to Martyn about it for a bit and decided it was time to show him exactly what the problem is. It's fair to say that it didn't take him long to see what I was up against.