Just say hello

As schools are back this week, I thought it would be a good time for me to take Donut to a play centre.  It’d be quiet(er), and there wouldn’t be any “big kids” running around.  I had decided on taking him to a lovely little play centre, called Playdays Cafe, which is in St Helens (Merseyside).

Now, I’m a member of several websites, that encourages mums to make friends with other mums – so I decided to extend my little party of two to be a mummy social.

One particular website I’m a member of, is (ironically) called Mummy Social, and does allow you to set up events, and invite other mums in your area (or further afield, if you wish).  So I did.  I set it up about 10 days ago, and hey presto!  My invitations were automatically sent out to those in the St Helens and Liverpool area.

It was the eve before my “social”, and no one had clicked the “attend” button on the site.  However, I wasn’t disheartened.  As I said – I was already planning on taking Donut anyway.

I quickly made a post on a local mums facebook group, extending the invite there, and I did get a lot of interest – 4 other mums said they would be there with their little ones.

This morning started off as usual.  Gning and Donut decided they wanted “milk and cookies” for breakfast, and as soon as they were ready, we were out the door.  I dropped Gning off at school (just started year 1), and Donut got really upset, because he wasn’t going to school (he goes to nursery, three times a week).  I explained to him that we were going to play instead, so he hurried me back to the car…

I arrived at the play centre early.  A lot earlier than I had invited the mums for.  I had said 10am, but I was there for 9:30am.

I’m one of those people who suffers anxiety, and I did have a mini panic-attack this morning, thinking that people would actually turn up!  What would I say to them?  Should I just say hello?  How would I keep the conversation going..?

Donut quickly ran off and started playing.  He knows this particular play centre inside out, and has a habit of climbing up to the tallest part, then starts crying.  He gets “stuck”.  He isn’t really stuck…  He just realises that he’s at the top, and can’t remember the way down.  This is exactly what happened at 9:55am.  He stood at the top of the frame, looking down at me, sobbing.  One of the girls who worked there shouted up to him, “are you ok?”, she asked.  I replied that he always does this – he just can’t remember the way down.  I stood up and went to help him, but the girl had beat me to it.  “Don’t worry about it – I’m used to going up and down this thing.  You just sit down and enjoy your coffee”, she said with a smile.  Brilliant.  Mother of the Year award goes to a complete stranger, who shot up the climbing frame quicker than I could pick up my cup.

Donut made his own way down, with guidance from the girl, and was so happy when he reached the bottom.  He did his little happy dance, and even “high fived” her, before she made her way back behind the counter.  Next thing you know, he’s up at the top again…  Only this time, he remembered his new learned skill, and was back down!

There were plenty of other mums, and carer’s of children, in the play centre.  I looked around, looking for any glimpse of familiarity in their faces.  Was that the girl who replied that she would attend?  I’m sure I recognise that little boys face…

One mum was heavily pregnant, and looked really stressed out.  She had a little girl with her – I’d say about 18 months old or so, and the tiny tot would not leave her side.  The bump had to climb over the 1.5ft barrier occasion on occasion to force her daughter to play.

Another mum was there, and had what looked like a 3 year old boy, and a baby boy – around a month old.  She looked a natural.  Laughing, chasing the child around, whilst “wearing” the baby on her chest…

Then I realised that Donut had disappeared again.  I thought that he was up on the frame again, but then I heard him laugh.  I turned around, and noticed that he was in one of those coin operated rides, with another little boy of a similar age, and the machine was on.  Mum of little boy was at their side, smiling.  I shot over to their side, and apologised that Donut was taking over her sons’ ride.  She laughed, and told me not to worry about it.  Her son doesn’t usually mingle well with other children, but he seemed to like Donut.

It was now 10:20am.  I was getting bored, sitting at the table alone.  If anyone had turned up from the Mummy Social site, or facebook group, no one had made an effort to try to find me.

I hastily posted a status on the latter mentioned group, asking if anyone was there, and if they were too shy to say hello – because I was in the same boat.  I did get lots of replies, but all were “sorry, I forgot”, or “I didn’t know you meant today…”.

I called Donut over, and asked him if he wanted to go home and see daddy, which he said “yes” to.  On with his shoes, and home we went.

I think the point that I’m getting to here is not about anyone else turning up, it’s about something much more.  I was sat on my own, and apart from the other two mums’, who seemed to be there without any other adult company, there were other “groups” of mums / child-carers.

Did you know that 4 out of 5 people would rather use the statement “I’m depressed”, rather than “I’m lonely”?

If you’re with a group of friends, and you see a mum sitting on her own – smile at her.  Say “hello”.  It’s not much, and takes no effort at all, but you may just bring so much more to that persons’ day.

Seek out the mum who is focused on her smartphone.  Most of the time they will say, ‘Oh, did you mean me?  Hi.’  A little eye contact, a little smile, a little victory for humanity.

You never know – you may just have met your new best mum friend by one simple word.

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Oh, how life has changed.

It’s been exactly one month since my life changed, and I’ve been trying to work out exactly what I was going to write to update you all.

My hubby was offered a full-time job to start on 10 July, and if we were both to be in work, there would be problems with childcare.  Yes, we had the option to put the kids in to a private nursery, but even with both of our wages, this would leave us out of pocket.  So there was a decision to be made, and quickly.

On 7 July, I worked my last day with the DWP.  I am now a “full-time, stay at home mummy”.  I am now one of the people who I either envied… Or slated.

I was envious because they got to stay at home with their children.  They got to watch their children take their first steps.  They got to hear their children say their first words.  As a full-time working mum, I missed those moments.  I would never have them again, and it ruined me.

I slated the other “full-time, SAHMs” because they had no interest in working.  Their kids were in full-time school, and all they did was sit on their arses all day, watching Jeremy Kyle, or spending their dole money on alcohol and tobacco.  I am positive that most of the mums that fell in to this category were “baby boomers” – only interested in popping out another sproglet because they got more money…

Yes, I am one of those people who turns my nose up at the “minions”.  Yes, I do think I am better than all of the SAHMs that fall in to the latter category.

So now I can hear the comments, “what gives her the right to say that?”

Well, allow me to explain.

Today marks one month since I last worked for anyone.

Since then, I had enrolled on to an online course, and completed a new qualification.  I received my PDF certificate just a couple of days ago, and I am waiting for the “hard copy” to come through.  The certificate confirms that I had passed the final assessment with a “Higher Distinction”.  I have purchased various equipment that I will need to take my qualification further, started a Facebook page with my new “job”, created a Twitter feed, and built a website from scratch.  I am now “up and ready to go”.  My new career will allow me to choose my own hours; and means that I can do something that I have always wanted to do.

Meanwhile, it’s the summer holidays; so Gning is off school for 6 weeks.  I’ve had my two boys with me 24/7 (almost) since I left the DWP – we have had days out, here, there and everywhere…

Gning has been off for 2 full weeks so far (we’re just in to week 3), and so far we have been to:

Acorn Venture Farm (Kirkby)

Gulliver’s World (Warrington)

Treetops (soft play centre in Golborne)

Heysham, Morecambe, Knotts End and Sunderland point (all one journey – Lancashire)

Martin Mere (Bursough)

Windmill Animal Farm (Burscough)

Speke Hall (Speke, Liverpool)

I don’t think the boys have done too badly so far, and there are still (almost) 4 weeks left!

I’ve started a scrapbook for them, so they can keep track of what they’ve been up to, in the summer of 2017.

So what else have I been doing?  I’ve kept on top of the front garden – mowing, raking and strimming.  The back garden is much to be desired, and I really need to get out there, but the weather has been so bad recently, it’d just be like walking in a swamp.  I’ve also scrubbed the kitchen; got on top of all the washing; cleaned the front room – several times; and kept on top of the bookings over at the village hall.

I’ve got lots of other plans, but I need a bit of a rest first of all.  These past 4 weeks that I’ve been off work have been a bit of a whirlwind…  The first 2 weeks, I practically did nothing.  My brain was set to “holiday” mode, lol.

Here’s me, Gning and Donut – I took the selfie yesterday…  I think being a full-time SAHM suits me…

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It’s another Blogiversary!

Today celebrates my 6th year of my Insanely Normal blog.

Image result for blogiversary

It’s been fun, although a little slack, and I know that I have said it time and time again, but that can now change…  I have a lot more time to be able to publish, and I have all sorts of ideas!

So, without further ado, let’s revisit my top three posts…

At number 3…

This post has somewhat amused me since I published it in 2014.  It was a review (a negative one at that!  And badly wrote, haha) about a local franchised café.  I can remember visiting the place – it was bloody awful, and I imagine nothing has changed, because I’m still receiving messages agreeing with my post!  You can read about the Pound Café in Huyton here.

At number 2…

2015 seems to have been the year that brought in most of my subscribers (hello stalkers!), and top of the shot (again), was my Christmas Ham post!  My second most popular post in 2015 was for my slow cooker sausage casserole…  With just under 10,000 reads throughout the year, it definitely got the attention it deserved, ha ha.  You can try the slow cooker sausage casserole recipe here.

Drum roll please, because at number 1…

Every Christmas, I make a ham.  It’s by far the best thing I have ever made, and you all seem to agree, as the amount of views that post has received is amazing!  I first published the post in 2012, and it seems to be a recipe that is used right throughout the year, as it’s always my most read…  My “best” stats for this recipe was on 1 December, 2016, when I had a little over 4,000 views – just on that day!  You can read my Christmas Ham here.


So, it seems that my stalkers like recipes and negative reviews!  Ha ha.  Yes, those were my top three posts in the past six years, and other posts in my top ten include more recipes, a holiday post, and how parenthood drives me crazy.

So, here’s to more exciting times – more recipes, more random stuff, and I may even through in a mini-comp somewhere…

Live Video Stream NOW!!

Last week I published a post, to say that my husband is taking part in a 24hr live gaming challenge, raising money for Macmillan.  He’s now a little over 8 hours in to the session, and is still streaming LIVE!!

You can view his live stream HERE.  You do not need to register to watch, but you will need to register / log in to chat!

He’s been broadcasting from midnight, and will continue live streaming until midnight tonight…

The Just Giving page for donations is HERE.  Please consider making a donation to this great charity.  Even if you can only give a pound / dollar – it all goes a long way.

Thank you.

20 Satisfying Pictures

The work day can be pretty monotonous and deflate your spirits at times. Just when your day gets super boring, the internet, particularly Reddit, has a way of snapping you back to reality and giving you exactly what you need. I dug through the catacombs of Reddit to find you the most satisfying/pleasing/inspiring pictures, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Here are 20 pictures to lift your spirits today.

1. The way this peak comes through the clouds.

2. This man posted a before and after shot of his physical progress after ditching alcohol.

“One year of no alcohol has changed my life. I lost 53 pounds and I’m 1000 times happier. I tried to recreate my bloated pic,” said Klamsykrawl.

3. This kitty coming up for a quick boop.

4. The lengths these two brothers went to recreate this old photo from their childhood.

5. These beautiful cherry blossoms over the Meguro River in Tokyo.

6. “Every time I mow the lawn….” wrote joey_r00 on Reddit. 

7. This one-day-old kitten.

8. This wood has been dyed and totally looks like a brick of lava.

9. Are you as happy as this pug running through a garden of tulips?

10. This sandcastle that is so perfect it needs to be preserved forever.

11. This cute leaf that looks exactly like a dolphin.

12. This amazing shot.

13. How could this not lift your spirits?

“My son’s knee looks like a worried teenage mutant ninja turtle,” wrote danowar5000.

14. This amazing shot using some trickery.

15. “Home Depot’s cutest employee,” wrote pregglt on this adorable picture. 

16. This water is so clear in Sweden that Reddit user Suborb had to check for evidence that there was even water.   If you look closely, you can see the water around his wrist…

17. This awesome Easter photo from Jim Carrey.

18. This incredible piece of art found under a Denver overpass.

19. This person finally figured out what this compartment in his car is used for.

Wish I had one of those compartments…

20. This shot from a drone capturing a calf and mother humpback whale.

17 pairs of boobies that are practically perfect

1. Let’s just settle this once and for all, there is no such thing as a perfectly matching pair of boobies.

Let's just settle this once and for all, there is no such thing as a perfectly matching pair of boobies.

Lake Skinner / Via Flickr: pazzani

2. In fact, boobies come in all different shapes…

In fact, boobies come in all different shapes...

Mindstorm-inc / Getty Images

3. …sizes…

...sizes...

Estivillml / Getty Images

4. …and colors.

...and colors.

Kjorgen / Getty Images

5. Some pairs of boobies don’t even look remotely the same.

Some pairs of boobies don't even look remotely the same.

Chemistkane / Getty Images

6. While others look almost like twins. ALMOST.

While others look almost like twins. ALMOST.

Elisalocci / Getty Images

7. Some pairs of boobies like to face a specific direction together.

Some pairs of boobies like to face a specific direction together.

8. While other pairs of boobies face the total opposite direction from each other.

While other pairs of boobies face the total opposite direction from each other.

Mike’s Birds

9. Some pairs of boobies sit up high.

Some pairs of boobies sit up high.

Donyanedomam / Getty Images

10. Other pairs hang out down low.

Other pairs hang out down low.

Bartus Hendrikse / Getty Images

11. Some booby pairs sit far apart.

Some booby pairs sit far apart.

Jtstewartphoto / Getty Images

12. While others sit very close together.

While others sit very close together.

Drew Avery / Via Flickr: 33590535@N06

13. Boobies can appear long and lean.

Boobies can appear long and lean.

Bk-photos / Getty Images

14. Or short and squat.

Or short and squat.

Goddard_photography / Getty Images

15. Sometimes boobies point up high, while others point down low…even in the same pair!

Sometimes boobies point up high, while others point down low...even in the same pair!

Estivillml / Getty Images

16. Basically, boobies are the best…

Basically, boobies are the best...

Javarman3 / Getty Images

17. …and each and every pair is uniquely beautiful.

...and each and every pair is uniquely beautiful.
Bkk2008 / Getty Images
Repost.  Full credit given to this post on Buzz Feed

How to single-handedly run a cocaine lab

I have always enjoyed gaming – occasionally collecting the rings with Sonic; bouncing crazily around, with no point to the game, with “Thing on a Spring” (Amstrad game); and even building beautiful houses with The Sims; however my passion for the gaming world really started when my hubby came along.

I’ve had an Amstrad, where you had to hook up the cassette player to the system to load a game on a tape; an Atari (which I still have somewhere); a Sega Megadrive, 16-bit; PSOne; and a PS2.  I dabbled, but never really took it seriously.

It was 2008, and my (now) husband introduced me to the xbox 360.  Mainly I just played the poker game – “Texas Hold ’em”, and I often lost my temper with the “pussycat” who always made me raise, then fold, only for me to lose out to an “orange”.  Of course, I’m talking about AI characters here, and no matter how often you lost your rag with them, you’d still end up in the same situation – shouting at the TV.

I was heavily pregnant with Donut when I thought I would give Grand Theft Auto V a try.  I must have been about 7 months gone, and I felt like I had been sentenced to bed rest by my midwife and high risk consultant.  I had just finished work, on maternity leave, and I was already bored with poker, Minecraft and Fallout: New Vegas (yeah, really), when hubby dearest suggested I give GTAV a try.

I loaded the game, had several attempts of the first mission, where Trevor, Michael and a couple of others robbed a bank (spoiler alert!), and already I was getting frustrated with it.  I wasn’t interested in the actual story – I just wanted to play the open world.  Hubby said that I had to complete the first mission to be able to unlock the open world, so I sighed, and went back to it.  It took a lot of patience and tries, but eventually I cracked it.

Once I finally got in the open world, I cheated immediately by buying a few of those ‘Shark Cards’, where it fills your account up with cash.  I then bought my high end apartment, a couple of cars, and enhanced the performance of them before taking part in random races and missions with the hubby.

Almost 18 months down the line, and I’m still playing it now – although I am only a level 63 (still good, but when you see other players in their level 400’s+, then you realise you’re still a bottom feeder), I’m just starting to get the hang of the game.

A few months ago, Rockstar introduced a new expansion pack – “Motorcycle Club”, and I bit.  My best asset in the game had been my bike – a Dinka Double T, and I was a rather dab hand at riding it.  I had millions of (deliberate) near-misses, and after I supped it up to the maximum enhancements, it was a pretty smooth and speedy ride.  Very few outrun me, and I was always guaranteed to lose a 5-star wanted level from the police.  Granted, it took me a long time to be able to do it, but I got there.

Anyway, I digress…

I jumped straight in to the stunt races that were now available, as I realised they (along with solo missions) were the easiest way to raise a bit of cash.  Once I got enough funding, I went to the foreclosure site (on the internet, in the game) and purchased a clubhouse.  It wasn’t great, and I couldn’t afford any upgrades, but I didn’t care.  I had my clubhouse, and I was now president of my own motorcycle club.

Only I wasn’t.

Even though I had bought the club, I had to go in to the select menu to make myself the president (you have to do this in every session you enter, otherwise you are just a civilian).

I think I’ve had my own MC club for about 2 months now, and it was only this weekend (just gone) that I managed to save up enough of the cash (again!) to buy a sideline business.  I had a fair amount of cash, and a few different businesses to choose from.  I had the choice of buying a document forgery office, a weed farm, counterfeit cash, a meth lab, or a cocaine lab.  I had just enough money to buy the smallest cocaine lab, as, through research, this was shown to be the best choice for generating income.

Of course, as with any business – real or virtual – you have to have supplies to be able to create any produce, so that had to be my number one priority.

When entering the black market, you have a two options.  You can either buy your supplies, or steal them – where you have to go and get them yourself.

I’ve noticed that if you choose the latter, the more you do, the harder it gets.

If you’re a player already, you know that you can see who else is in the world with you, by pressing down on the digipad.  Alongside the other players names, you will often see either a picture of a motorbike, or a triangle.  Sometimes, there will be no icon next to the name…  If there is no icon, this means that this player is not a part of a MC, or corporation.  The triangle represents ‘Securoserve’, and they are a CEO of a business, or working for one.  The motorbike represents their status as either being a MC president, or a biker – in that gang.

The more players that are in the game – especially if there are more MC players, the more risky your supply run can be.

There is a simple reasoning behind this.  When you collect the supplies, a “blip” is put out across the world to say exactly what you have done.  This is a warning to other players, telling them what you have done, and they have the opportunity to literally chase you to steal the supplies for their own uses.

It’s the same as when the final product is made, and you’re ready to sell – it’s all about timing your stealings and sellings appropriately.  You don’t know who else is around, and who you need to pass to be able to complete your business needs.

My timings surround just that.  If there are lots of players in the world, I buy my supplies.  If there are just a handful, I steal.

Let’s backtrack slightly – after the stealing / buying, yet before you do the drug run.

When you have your supplies at your warehouse, always try to upgrade your business as quickly as possible.  Obviously, you need a fair amount of cash to do this too, but with the adversary modes that are currently offering 2x cash and 2x RP, it’s well worth doing an hour or two of those first of all (personally, I find the Deadline adversary modes hilarious!).  When upgrading, security should be your main priority, followed by the staff, followed by your actual lab.  It may make more sense to you to do it the other way around, but when your fiddling the law, securing your business from any raids or thefts should be the way to go.

On entering your warehouse, you get two new bars showing at the bottom right of your screen.  The top bar is your product; the bottom is your supplies.  I tend to use the black market computer in the warehouse to give me my options, as I find this a lot easier to understand.

When I go in to the “Sell Stock” option, I get two options.  Both are to sell my produce, but one is ‘safer’ than the other.

There are two amounts offered.

The lower is based in Blaine County, and is a much less hazardous route to take.

The higher amount is based in Los Santos itself, and can be incredibly dangerous.  You run the risk of losing all your stock by being robbed, or by being killed…  Which you can respawn and try to get your stock back, but it all depends on how far away from your death-spot you are, and who it was who killed you.  Some other players who have business interests of their own could hunt you, take your stock, and you’re at a loss.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, you just get a wanted level, and perhaps shot by the police, and then when you respawn, you can go and claim your items again.  I’ve been killed once by the police, and they did not confiscate my stock, but I cannot comment that it will never happen…

If I’m being honest, I’ve got a bit of a greed on me, and I have never taken the lesser amount.

So far I have made approximately 10 supply runs, and just 3 deliveries.  From the deliveries, I have brought in a little over $630k.  I could have got a lot more, but I’m inpatient.

Do’s and Don’t’s for Dummies

  • Do make every effort to steal your supplies.
  • Do buy your supplies when the servers are full.
  • Don’t steal from the lone biker…  Chances are that they have no one else in their club (same as me), and it’s difficult enough for them to do the supply run, with the general bad guys on their tails, than having you hunt them down too.  Chances are if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone too.
  • Don’t sell your produce at the lower level.  Take a chance, and it’ll be worth your time.
  • Do upgrade, but do it in order.  Security first, then staff, then the lab.
  • Do practice your flying skills.  There are a lot of selling opportunities that require you to fly a plane, or helicopter, so make sure you’re a bit of a dab hand to prevent crashing and losing your stock.
  • Don’t worry about the police being on your tail.  If you’ve outrun them before, you can outrun them now.
  • Do bare in mind that once you’re an MC president, you CANNOT go in to passive mode.
  • Don’t worry if no one accepts your invite for being a part of your MC.  No one ever accepts my invites (except for hubby, when he’s playing), and I’m doing pretty well for myself.
  • Do keep your eye on your map.  If you’re hunting for supplies / stock, look out for the red blips.  Also, if you’re the one being hunted, you can usually tell by the amount of players blips coming closer to your position.
  • Do make sure that you’re fully stocked up on your ammo…  Only got one homing missile left?  You need more…  You never know who’s coming after you in a fighter jet.

So, did I miss anything?  Probably, but I’m still learning myself.