Monday, January 27, 2020

101 things in 1001 days

There was a video I saw awhile ago where they asked people of all ages what advice they would give to someone younger. It starts with the youngest person being interviewed and ends with the oldest. One thing I couldn't help noticing was that most of the older people tended to give advice about doing the stuff you want to do now and not putting things off. Recently, I've been feeling inspired by Bev's 40 before 40 and Risha's 101 things in 1001 days lists and I loved the idea of doing something similar. Sort of like a short term bucket list. Initially coming up with 101 things was quite hard so I ended up looking at other people's lists for some inspiration but I have been trying to choose things that are relevant to me.

I'll be starting in February as January is almost over at this stage. So 1001 days from then would be October 29th 2022.. At that stage I'll go back over my list and see what percentage I accomplished! Ideally at least 90%. Realistically maybe only 70%. As you'll see I tried to put a mixture of easy and difficult to accomplish tasks in there.

I've divided my list into categories.

Health & Well being
  1. Exercise more (ideas- swimming, dancing)
  2. Eat 2-5 portions of vegetables a day 
  3. Get eyes tested again to see if eyesight has worsened
  4. Get skin checked for moles
  5. Flu vaccine
  6. Check all vaccines are up to date
  7. Train for a 5k
  8. Do a 5k run
  9. Cut out dairy for at least 2 weeks
  10. Cut out processed sugar for a month (or at the very least go a week without eating dessert)
  11. Dentist checkup and teeth cleaning

  12. House
  13. Hang more paintings and photographs
  14. Declutter our entrance hall
  15. Declutter our bedroom
  16. Declutter Mini's room
  17. Declutter attic
  18. Declutter basement
  19. Declutter living room
  20. Declutter kitchen
  21. Get rid of old clothes
  22. Tidy up bathroom cabinets and find better ways of storing things
  23. Plant some flowers
  24. Create a vegetable patch

  25. Self improvements /style
  26. Update my style
  27. Get a makeover
  28. Try out several new hairstyles
  29. Read some self help books
  30. Improve my upper body strength. Not sure what a good goal here is. Would be cool if I were able to swing from monkey bars at a playground or do a decent number of push ups without collapsing(10?)

  31. Family
  32. Take Mini to local swimming pool once a month to get her used to the water and teach her about water safety
  33. Get a yearly zoo pass and use it
  34. Create a photo book /milestone book
  35. Reduce screen time - no phone during mealtimes
  36. Connect with family abroad more often
  37. Get professional photographs taken
  38. Bring Mini to a kid friendly museum
  39. Bring Mini to an aquarium

  40. Marriage
  41. Take a class together
  42. Try to have a regular date night
  43. Write a love letter
  44. Read a book about marriage together
  45. Celebrate our wedding anniversary
  46. Try 5 new-to-us restaurants for dates

  47. Travel
  48. Go on a holiday by the beach
  49. Visit Barcelona
  50. Go on a trip away with friends
  51. Visit other parts of Germany I haven't seen yet such as Hamburg
  52. Travel to other parts of Ireland
  53. Go camping or glamping

  54. Fun
  55. Get a massage
  56. Get a facial
  57. Go for afternoon tea
  58. Take more photos
  59. Make pancakes
  60. Bake scones
  61. Build a snowman
  62. Bake and decorate a cake
  63. Create some artwork/crafts. I used to enjoy painting when I was a child but now I can't even remember the last time I painted or took on a creative project
  64. Sort of random but I've always loved the idea of dressing up like I was from another decade - 1920s or 1950s probably being my favourite looks. Would be a fun photo shoot
  65. Go to a show /play
  66. Plan a party for someone else

  67. Blog
  68. Write a featured blog article
  69. Update old posts and labels
  70. Post at least twice a month
  71. Finish and publish posts in my drafts folder
  72. Join in more blogging challenges
  73. Write at least one MicroblogMonday post a month
  74. Post pictures of recent meals I've enjoyed
  75. Get my blog or part of it printed as a hardcover photobook

  76. Hobbies / skills
  77. Read at least 15 books
  78. Write a short story
  79. Submit my writing somewhere, e.g short story competition
  80. Learn how to cook a turkey and make stuffing for Christmas dinner
  81. Try 10 new recipes
  82. Create a family recipe book ideally with photos
  83. Get some driving practice in Germany
  84. Do something that scares me (eg. public speaking) /get out of my comfort zone
  85. Watch 5 films in German
  86. Read 3 books in German
  87. Learn a new skill (e.g. dress making/ cake decorating/ photography)
  88. Take a class
  89. Learn 100 new German words - write down new words or phases into a notebook

  90. Friends
  91. Get in touch with some old friends
  92. Host a dinner party
  93. Host a game night
  94. Mail someone a birthday card
  95. Have friends over for brunch
  96. Throw a birthday party
  97. Send a card to someone “just because”
  98. Send someone flowers
  99. Skype a friend abroad

  100. Making an impact
  101. Donate to at least 3 charities
  102. Offer my time to help others
  103. Give away old stuff to charity
  104. Use less plastic
  105. Throw a clothes swap party
  106. Vote
  107. Use bamboo toothbrushes
  108. Write to a politician about something I feel strongly about or campaign

  109. Admin
  110. Write a Will
  111. Scan old photos so I have digital copies
  112. Save old photos to a hard-drive or buy storage space online for photos and keep them all in one place

Monday, January 20, 2020

We can't all have marriages like the Obamas #MicroblogMonday

Would you believe I'm still not finished reading Michelle Obama's book, Becoming? I first mentioned it back in October. The thing is I have been really enjoying it and I am almost at the end of it by now, it's just been so hard to find time to sit down and read without interruptions. Anyway I need to finish it soon as my book club have already started reading The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

There's a section in the book where Michelle talks about the now famous date with Obama where they flew to New York for dinner and a show which caused some controversy among their opponents. Anyway she writes about how much they enjoy each other's company and conversations and constantly erupt into laughter when together. The day I read that passage hubby and I had just been squabbling about some household thing as usual. I presume other couples also have countless silly arguments about things around the house - who hasn't put their laundry away? why haven't these dirty plates been put into the dishwasher? I could easily go on but you get the idea.

There are many times when hubby tells long stories about work while I'm barely paying attention. I know he often doesn't listen to me a lot of the time either since I end up having to repeat myself. This just felt like a stark comparison when I imagined the Obamas sitting there during their dinner dates finding each other totally fascinating! They seem to have a strong happy marriage which I admire.

Recently when hubby and I did finally get a moment to ourselves we ended up talking about how parenting a young child means our minds always seem to be distracted and elsewhere a lot of the time! It's rare to have opportunities to give something our sole focus (apart from when we are in work). So I think (and hope) that it's pretty normal that these days we don't have a perfect marriage like the Obamas but hopefully one day again in the future we will!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

5 things I love about Christmas

Spending time with family and friends
Without a doubt, for me the best part of this season is spending quality time with loved ones. Hubby and I typically take turns spending either Christmas or New Years with each other's family and it's always so nice to spend that time together. Considering the fact that I live hundreds of miles and overseas from my family in Ireland, this makes the time we do spend together even more special. Now at some point we will choose to stay at our house in Germany and create new traditions around that but in the meantime we'll be enjoying going back and forth between our relations. 

Creating your own traditions 
I love the fact that everyone can decide for themselves what traditions they would like to uphold. For instance with my family in Ireland we have taken to wearing our silly Christmas jumpers and taking funny pictures. We'll also play games like trivial pursuit or Cluedo and watch Christmas movies. Or maybe we'll spend all morning in our winter pajamas. The nice thing is, anything goes! I've written a bit about our traditions in Ireland versus Germany before.

The food
Ah the food, the glorious food....! Germans don't do mince pies and that's one thing I really miss each year so when we make it over to Ireland we'll go crazy eating them and buying some to bring back to Germany. (Hubby loves them now too!). Heated mince pies in custard or cream are even more delicious. The Christmas dinner itself is also yummy. We typically serve turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, roast vegetables, roast potatoes...And because it's the holidays, there's always an excuse to eat lots and lots of chocolate.

The Christmas spirit
This time of year it's nice to make an extra effort to think of others less fortunate. There are usually collections for Christmas hampers where you can donate food items in the supermarkets and at work. You can give to charities and/or visit your local nursing home. Now of course people can do charitable things all year around but I'm often busy with various things and this time of year really reminds me to stop and do something nice for others. 

Being off work
I like my job but it's still work and it is nice to have time off to relax and regroup! The way Christmas and New Year's fall means you can usually end up with two whole weeks off without having to use up too many of your annual leave. 

Honorary mentions - all the Christmas parties and get-togethers - it's a nice excuse to catch up with friends before the end of the year. Germans celebrate Christmas like no other with their wonderful markets - they are really beautiful.

Those are the first five things that came to mind.. What would make your list? Maybe I'll follow up with the five things I *don't* enjoy about Christmas, haha...

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Sustainable living

Inspired by Greta Thurnberg and also wanting to reduce my carbon footprint, this is what we have been doing. 

Reducing flights
We plan to only fly to Ireland at most twice a year instead of three or even four times. Ideally we would aim to stay there longer each time to make the most of our visit. Flying is one of the worst things you can do for your carbon footprint but as an Irish person living in Germany, of course this one is difficult for me! I make the most of Skype and Whatsapp for keeping in touch but spending time in person is always the ideal. 

We plan to also cut back on holidays abroad in general. Honestly I love travelling so this sounds hard initially. However living in Europe is a great base for visiting other places and we should still be able to plan some fun trips by train/car.

Cutting back on the amount of new clothes we buy
Ok, to be honest ever since having my daughter I've mainly been too busy to find time to shop like I used to. But the fact is I realised I already own plenty of clothes. I saw a video about how many fabrics and shoes can end up in landfill and it made an impact on me. I'm planing on organizing a clothes swap party with a bunch of people here which seems like a great idea!  I rarely buy new clothes for Mini either, instead getting lots of second hands things from other people who don't need them anymore. It was often only a matter of asking around. There are also many flea markets in Germany worth checking out.

We have been making an effort to reduce plastic waste
We don't use plastic straws. When we go shopping we always bring our own reusable bags. Some supermarkets here are also including a section where you can bring your own jar for dry foods like nuts and pasta. We also don't own a car, mainly using public transport or cycling (and occasionally doing car sharing).

I'm aware there's probably a lot more we could be doing as a family but it's a start! I am continually on the lookout for other ideas for little changes we could do that would make a difference. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

First words

Mini is 20 months old now and says over words. She has really come along since I last wrote about her language development. You can count sounds that constantly refer to an object as a word. So for instance one of the first words she said was "wa-wa" to mean dog. Overall she seems to use German words more often which is probably to be expected considering she hears German at daycare and all around. 

It's really since around 19 months that the language explosion started. I think the words themselves are somewhat random based often on which is easier for her to pronounce at the moment than words she necessarily finds useful. Although it's already been great for helping me comprehend what she wants. Like at the playground a few weeks ago she started looking for something in my handbag/backpack and I wasn't sure what she wanted until she said "bap". Bap is what we call a soft bread roll in case you use a different term where you are from!

Anyway now she often says "bap" when she is hungry. She still does the sign language sign for milk when she wants to nurse but that can also just mean thirst and she uses the sign for "again" a lot. She uses "owa" the German ouch when she hurts herself but also when she or an object is stuck. So for instance if she pushes her doll pram around and it gets stuck behind a chair she'll call out "owa" until someone helps. She can't pronounce B words yet so instead of "bye, bye" it comes out like "die, die" which she says while smiling and waving at everyone!

German words: ja, nein, Müll (rubbish), Kaka (poop), bitte (please) mehr (more), owa (ouch), Gurke (cucumber), Hahn (chicken), Tassa (cup), Oma (Granny)
English words:yea, no, hi, juice, eye, knee, shoe, cheese, bap, keys, nana (banana), tights, die-die (bye-bye)
General: wa-wa (dog), neigh (horse), ee-hor (donkey), dac-dac (for duck), mama, dada, papa, uh-oh

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Memory snapshot

I wish I had a better memory. As I get older it seems to only be getting worse. One thing I try to do is when I find myself experiencing a particularly nice moment, is to just pause and remind myself to be more present. I'll focus on what's happening, the details around me, how I'm feeling. Then I attempt to capture it all into my memory, just like taking a mental snapshot. 

Recently hubby and I went for a cycle using the new bike trailer attached with Mini inside. It was a particularly pleasant autumn evening; the leaves already a mixture of vibrant shades, the sky a beautiful shade of blue, and the air was slightly crisp but not yet cold. As we cycled along through a pretty wooded area I found myself feeling happy and I tried to capture the moment with my mind. 

I felt grateful that all three of us are in good health right now because you really can't take your health for granted. This time last year I was in hospital recovering from major surgery and the thought of being well enough to go for a cycle would have felt so distant. I was also grateful that hubby and Mini were healthy too. And something about cycling through the woods that day just made me feel free and carefree for a few lovely moments.

Of course in typical Murphy's law fashion we ended up getting a puncture on one of the bike trailer wheels and haven't been able to use it since until we get around to fixing it! Worse than that however, Mini picked up pseudo-croup at daycare a few days later and has been pretty miserable with it since, the poor little thing. 

How has your autumn been so far? 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Life Lately

Michelle Obamas's Becoming. I started this months ago and haven't been able to finish it but that's not a criticism. Firstly it's really long but secondly I rarely have time to read it! It's a big book so not one that fits into my handbag to pull out when I have a few minutes on public transport. Whenever I have a free moment, I usually end up doing something else but when I do have a nice 10-20 minutes of undisturbed time ahead of me then I have been delving back into the book and really enjoying it!

We finally got around to watching two very different films, "The Greatest Showman" and "Avengers-Endgame". The former has been one I've been dying to watch for ages and the latter my husband was keen to see!  I think I can safely say we ended up loving both. 

The Greatest Showman is a story around Barnum who comes from poverty and has big dreams. I don't want to go into the story in more detail as I often find that even watching trailers these days can have loads of spoilers and it's nice to watch something without knowing too much in advance. The screenplay, music and dance numbers were amazing and it was just entertaining and good fun. The songs are catchy too and I find myself humming along to them weeks days later!

You've probably heard of Avengers: Endgame even if you aren't a fan because it was a massive hit this Summer.  I enjoy the Marvel stories and films though at times find the format somewhat predictable (time for another huge fight scene with lots of special effects anyone?). That said, this one was particularly entertaining and well done!

Well now it's autumn we've been making pumpkin soup and curries again - yum! My main favourite German treat are pretzels though! A lovely freshly baked pretzel with butter and cheese or avocado on top with a cup of tea is just perfect.

In August we were in Ireland on holidays which was lovely. This month apart from our usual outings to all the local playgrounds, we went to the zoo for the day which was fun.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Greta Thunberg, one badass teenager

Most of us have seen Greta Thunberg's recent speech to the UN or at least heard of her. She is an amazing young woman. As she looked at everyone at said "how dare you!" it made me feel uncomfortable as I'm sure it did everyone else. She was visibly angry and when I thought about it more myself, I realized how absolutely justified she is in feeling that way.

Young people growing up today have been failed by those before them that more has not been done to protect the environment. It's frankly impressive how she is stirring up other school children around the world to be activists. I hope they will continue to care about politics and use their votes when they are old enough. Though I also wonder why the voting age is 18 and whether there could be case for reducing it to 17 or even 16.

When I hear all the negative comments about Greta, it upsets me. Why all the hate against someone for caring about climate change and doing something about it? All I can think of is that she makes people uncomfortable about their inaction and they can't handle it.