Saturday, 31 January 2015

Just like honey: resolutions revisited

Come to Mama !!
You know how the new enemy is sugar ? How we keep seeing diet plans encouraging us to 'kick the habit' of sweet stuff ? Even Davina has got in on the act and her latest New Year plan is to ditch sugar in five weeks. Well I've got news for everyone that will save you the money (or you can send it to me - I'll add it to my fundraising total for Comic Relief I promise !)

I've done it.

I've broken my dependence on sugar and no longer crave it.

In a month.

In January I decided to give my body a break from the rubbish I had been filling it with over Christmas. I stopped eating chocolate, puddings, cakes, 'treats' and alcohol. Not for money, not as a precursor to going sober or anything. Just. I did it last year and lost half a stone. This year I also cut back on bread and started making green smoothies in the morning which has been a whole other journey. In the mornings I've been blending up banana, spinach, avocado, coconut water, chia seeds and random fruit and drinking them on my way to work. I'm not sure if they've had any miraculous effects on my health, but I'm pretty sure it's better for me than a latte and a pain au chocolat.

Ok, it doesn't look green, but it actually is :) 
Anyway, I digress. So, I've cut out chocolate before and what I've noticed is that everything tastes far too sweet even a few days after stopping eating sweet stuff. I don't have sugar in my tea or eat cereals and I don't drink fizzy pop or squashes either. I do, however, work in an office were there are always 'treats' around and it's very tempting. I've been out to eat with friends a few times since I started this and I've skipped desert and stuck to water or soft drinks. It's been fine. No one even notices really.

So what happens tomorrow ? Well. I had been telling everyone that I'm going to have a binge on sweets, cakes and biscuits tomorrow and I did buy a nice bottle of wine this evening. Truth is though, I'm not sure I'll want to stuff myself now I'm out of the habit. I'm now used to stopping to think about what I'm going to eat and considering whether or not I'm hungry or just bored.

The greatest breakfast there is. 
I'm not saying I'll be blending green smoothies every day of the week or that I'll eschew french pastries in favour of porridge when I'm getting into work at some unearthly hour. What I will do is try and maintain some of the momentum I've gained from ditching the unhealthy food. So there's that.

Now where did I put that bag of giant chocolate buttons ?

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Pigs can fly actually - so long as they're female

My boy: "Mummy can you put a lady driver into the helicopter please ?"

Me: "Of course I can sweetie."

My boy the feminist :) 

Peppa the pilot :) 

Monday, 26 January 2015

You will always be my special one

You will always be my special one. The one that I carried for 9 months - and then some - you were comfy and I was in no rush either. The one that I talked to, sang, "I love you baby" to. The one that I talked to when I couldn't sleep because you were such an active, bouncy baby.
Christmas Baby
When you ask me what it was like to meet for the first time I will tell you that we already knew each other. That when I felt you in distress I kept reassuring you that it was going to be ok and I was there. I talked to you and to myself. I prayed for you and for me. I heard you before I saw you. Hubbie looked over with moist eyes and the look of a tired, overwhelmed and immensely proud Daddy holding his precious first born for the first time. He brought you over to me and I held you close and kissed your face. I closed my eyes and said a thank you prayer for your safe delivery. 

If only I could remember how many teeth you had at one year old. I'm sorry now that I didn't document every moment of every day of your life so far. I have so many photos and some videos and many, many memories, but I wish I had been able to have a permanent record of all of it instead of the snippets I have now.

Neo posing
I remember your first steps in this house - confident and brave. The face you made when you first tried chocolate - pure joy. How you were stunned the first time you realised that Neo could move around and wasn't a stuffed animal like all your teddy bears and toys. Ok, he chooses to be still, but that is a cat's prerogative.

Now you can write your own name. You can hold a conversation. I have to explain everything to your satisfaction. You are a boy and not a baby any more.

Serious writing
But you are my baby. You crawl over to sit in my lap and ask me to put my arms around you. You rest your head on my chest and put your fingers in your mouth and hold your much-loved, old teddy bear to your nose. Complete peace. 

No one will ever take your place as my beloved first born son. 

You will always be my special one.  

My precious boy

Friday, 23 January 2015

The playlist of my week: from manic to epic in five days :)

I've had a pretty full on week so I've been blogging less frequently than I had intended. To ensure you don't feel too neglected I've put this week to music. Just for you here's the playlist of my week:

Manic Monday pretty much sums it up for the day I had:

On Tuesday I went to Northern Ireland for the first time this week, so I've chosen Belfast Child:

Wednesday saw me take my second flight of the week - the one that brought me home to my boys:

I was totally shattered, but still taught yoga on Thursday evening - felt so much better for doing it:

And then we have today - an epic Friday and one that deserves a big resounding anthem:

Have a super weekend and I hope it's a bit like this:

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Don't tell me to relax !!

Blue skies

This morning I was up, showered and dressed before my son woke up. I crept into his room, kissed him softly and whispered, "I love you." 

The cab arrived to take me to the station and I arrived at the airport with hours to spare. I had time to eat breakfast and to drink more than one (hot) cup of tea. 

As I boarded the flight I smiled as I remembered the last time I went on a plane it was with my boy and he was suitably excited - as a 4 year old should be.

The plane I travelled on
The flight was smooth and my meetings went well. I checked into my hotel and it's suitably comfy. After a swim and some hot food I spoke to my boy on FaceTime. We blew kisses and said "I love you, sleep well, see you tomorrow." 

I'm going to watch a movie in bed - uninterrupted by the 4 year old or the cat - I'll wake up at a time of my choosing rather than when one of them wakes up needing something. In the morning I'll be free to go for a run, a swim and have a relaxed breakfast. Oh the luxury.

We need cooler names for London airports !
So with all these indulgences why am I sitting here blogging instead of chilling out ? Well, I'll tell you. It's because I miss all of it. The early starts, the missed breakfasts, the demanding child and cat, the military planning with Hubbie to squeeze in a swim. 

Is it relaxing if I'm not with them ? Yes, sort of. Is it quieter ? Yes, of course. Is it enjoyable ? No, not really.

I'm looking forward to getting back to all of them. Relaxing is overrated :)

A bed to myself ? That truly is luxury 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

How are you ? Oh, wait, don't tell me.

You know when you ask someone how they've been and they say something like, 'fine' or 'not bad' - unless they're not British, in which case they might take you literally and actually tell you. Well, I had one of those unexpected conversations when it became a bit too informative for my comfort. I mean it started out as a casual reference to having been hospitalised a while back so later in the conversation I said, "so what were you in hospital for ? Unless you don't want to talk about it." See what I did there ? I gave them an out while also implying that if it was a bit personal / icky it was not to be shared.

Now, bear in mind I've had a few friends who've had proper serious health issues over the years. One friend who came back from death - which would make her a zombie I guess, but I'm not going to tell here that you said that. Ok, I'll back up a bit here, her heart stopped, while in an ambulance with paramedics who had the paddles that brought her back to life. When I spoke to her afterwards she described it as an 'incident.' Then there's the friend who survived breast cancer and when we talked about it she would say, 'when I was unwell.' Understatement and brushing over it to get back to talking about shoes and shampoo is the done thing with my friends really. So when this chap went into great detail using words like 'gouge' and gave a visual representation of how much was removed - honestly - it was a bit disconcerting.

I think it must be a man thing though. My father-in-law will happily share his medical woes - in great detail - with anyone who is within hearing distance. This isn't so bad unless he's referring to body parts I don't want to hear about or functions I'd rather not discuss. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not a prude. Heart friend and I have had very detailed conversations about very personal matters. Breast cancer friend (I don't call them that to their faces of course) and I have barely any secrets having shared the trials and tribulations of infertility with each other. Maybe it's the ickiness in the detail of boy parts going wrong that surprised me. I mean aren't men supposed to be circumspect about sharing intimate details ?

Maybe it's me. I find myself listening to my hairdresser's problems and asking them if they're going on holiday. When I'm with the doctor or dentist they end up telling me about their stress. I've been known to have long intense discussions with people known for not talking and I recently counselled my own manager about work life balance. I clearly have a look that says, "Welcome, tell me what ails thee." 

What I'm not trying to do is put my friends off from talking to me about important things. After all I've had a baby, so to be honest I've seen my fair share of icky too. Instead, I've created this handy guide to help manage future conversations that could go out of control. To make things simpler I've suggested some acceptable answers to common questions:

Me: How are you ?
You: Fine thanks, you ?

Me: Oh that's a shame.
You: It is, mustn't grumble

Me: Did you have a nice holiday / weekend ?
You: Yes thank you.

Me: Are you better now ?
You: Marvellous, thanks for asking.

I'm glad we had this little chat :)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

You wait for ages then 17 come along all at once :)

Marking down the first bus we saw
My Hubbie loves buses, my boy loves buses - I'm pretty keen on them too. So when my sister sent me a link to an event taking place in London involving our collective interest we all took notice. It was a collection of sculptures commissioned to celebrate the Year of the Bus and they were placed around London and also Croydon - where we just happen to live !

My boy loved this one
Hubbie loves this bus
Last weekend we decided to follow the bus trail which was a route marked around Croydon where you could go and see all 17 of the bus sculptures that had been chosen for Croydon. Each of them had a different design and most reflected a feature of the local area. All of them were really great and creative.

This one took some finding ! 
Crocus bus - quite elegant
I've been meaning to go and see these for a while and with being away over Christmas we didn't get round to it so having a rare Sunday to ourselves we decided to do it over the weekend. It was just as well as it was the last day and we'd have missed them if we'd left it much longer !

Fancy shiny bus
There's a big cat face on this one ! 
We printed off the map of the route got on our scooters and whizzed around town making sure our boy ticked them off the map and we took photos with all of the buses. It was quite hard work as some where a bit harder to find than others and at the end it was a race against time to see the last one before it got dark and we risked getting locked in the park where it was located. I'm pleased to report we made it, took a family selfie and got on the tram home with a sense of a job well done :)

Library bus - one of our faves
The bus outside the radio studio
I'm so glad we got to have a family day out doing something active and fun with an element of a game to it too. My boy loved having the map to mark off what we'd seen and he even took a few photos on the way round. I see him being a great asset in my future blog posts with his fledgling photography skills.

For Croydon Aerodrome
Patchwork bus
I hope as the weather improves in the Spring and the days get longer we can do more outdoor challenges together and can't wait for the next family scooter adventure :)

The very last bus in the trail

This post is being shared with the lovely Fiona of Coombe Mill's linky #countrykids

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Finding my wings

One of those things that people always say they'd do if they won the lottery is to travel - or buy a tropical island if you're one of my friends. Seeing more of the world is an ambition that most of us have had at some point and unless you have a pathological aversion to travel it's one that is pretty achievable. My in-laws didn't go on foreign holidays when Hubbie was growing up, but as soon as their sons left home they were off on long haul holidays and gallivanting all over the world on cruises too. My parents only ever went on holiday to India to see family so my Mum often laments that she travelled from India to England and never saw anywhere in between. If I won I'd take her on holiday to the places that she wanted to see. Of course I'd have to actually play the lottery first to be in with a chance of winning.

In my own adulthood I've been fortunate enough to be able to go to some fascinating and beautiful places. I went scuba diving in Egypt, skiing in Canada and worked with children in Romania and Sierra Leone. I've done my fair share of flying alone and it's been ok, but I'm not a joyful or willing traveller by air.

Apparently when I was a toddler my Mum took me to India and during a scheduled stopover we had to disembark the plane and I flat refused to get back on as I was so terrified of the plane that I had boarded earlier at Heathrow without seeing how big it was. From the tarmac in Germany it looked far too scary and it took most of the cabin crew and some maternal cajoling (bribery) to persuade me back on board to complete our journey. I didn't actually know this so when Mum told me it reawakened a fear of flying that I had no idea I ever had.

Once upon a time flying somewhere was an exciting experience that was magical and fun and made us feel like we were doing something special. Now it feels like an exercise in enforcement and the process is unpleasant and designed to make you feel uncomfortable. From the long list of forbidden items to the series of security checks it's a conveyer belt of fear and anxiety.

I was booked to travel on the 12th of September 2001 - the day after the events that led to liquid limits and shoe removal being a normal part of travel. Now I was travelling from Stansted which is possibly the worst airport I've ever been to (and I'm including that tiny airstrip in Sierra Leone where we sat for half a day waiting for the fuel to arrive for our plane and where I saw a bit too much of Andy Kershaw as the bus we were travelling on had poor suspension and his shorts left little to the imagination !) and it was the first day of the newly created security measures so it was complete chaos. It took over 2 hours to check in and I only just made it to the plane in time. It was RyanAir so there wasn't even any solace in free snacks as you get jack all on their flights unless you pay through the nose for it.

I'm telling you this because my new job requires some travelling and will involve flying to a few places too. It's a strange experience going to an airport for work rather than a holiday. Instead of buying magazines and sunglasses in the departure lounge I look for wifi and a spot to sit with a cuppa. Where I'd usually go shopping in Fat Face for some additional holiday outfits I'm only travelling with hand luggage so I can't add anything to my bag and instead of reading my book I start to ponder what the boys are doing while I'm away. The main thing is I'm putting off the fear of flying alone. When we were on a plane with our boy I was so concerned that he not be scared that I forgot my own fears entirely.

In recent years Hubbie has dealt with my fear of flying in two ways. Firstly he takes the mickey out of me mercilessly during a flight saying things like, "oh that isn't normal is it ? That wing looks wonky." which doesn't make me feel any better but distracts me from the genuine fear I'm feeling. The other thing he did was bought me a flying lesson which I put off doing for over a year. When I did actually do it I was terrified, but so exhilarated once I'd done it.

I'm still not the best flier, but is it too much to hope that the next crew I fly with are the Foo Fighters ?

Saturday, 10 January 2015

I'm making a clean start to the New Year

As I type I'm making a mental list of all the jobs there are to do in the house that I haven't got round to yet. Since we got home from our Christmas break I've been restless as the house just feels like it's full of clutter and mess. I spent all of last Sunday sorting out and a few hours today too, but it still feels like there is a mountain to deal with.

Usually I find the process of cleaning and sorting therapeutic. I put on the radio and get stuck in with whatever tasks I've decided to tackle and get on with it. For some reason I'm a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount there is to do right now. I think it's because I'm working all week and I only have the weekends to do the chores that it's become such a big deal.

When I was at home every day I didn't stress as much about getting everything done, but then I did have time every day to keep on top of the cleaning and washing and other random things that I tell myself I need to do. Like folding all the towels the same way and lining up the cushions. It's safe to say I can be a bit fussy about things like that.

In fact Hubbie suggested I make Youtube clips of common household chores the way I like them done so that he can follow them. I think it's a great idea and will get onto in tomorrow with the first instructional movie: "how to fold bags for life the 'right' way." I can see it being a big hit :)

Ideas for future 'how to' clips include: how to fold sheets, how to load the dishwasher and how to hang the washing. I'm sure there are plenty more that you could add to the list. In fact I will make sure I keep them so that my boy can watch them too. I've already started talking to him about doing chores so some handy videos can only help can't they ?

Right, I'm off to prepare for my close up.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Hey, Ho, let's go... back to work and school.

So today we've gone back to normal after what feels like almost a month of holiday and late bedtimes and eating between meals. Everyone had to get up at a reasonable time and eat a normal breakfast and be dressed and ready by the front door in time to travel together.

Our boy is back at school and we're both back at work. To be fair Hubbie was at work last week so he's not feeling the pain as badly as I am. I went back yesterday and my desk had been moved so it was all a bit unsettling, but it was good to be back into some semblance of order after so long without any fixed plans from one day to the next. Our boy has been asking when he's due back at school for a while now and this excitement about seeing his friends again was helped by having new school shoes and a swimming lesson first thing.

The only one of the family who wasn't looking forward to this return to normality appears to be Neo. This morning the cat sat in the middle of the stairs observing our chaotic departure from the house with a mixture of curiosity and bemusement. I'm fairly certain he was a bit put out that he would be left alone all day having had company all day for weeks now, but also secretly was hoping we'd leave the door to our boy's bedroom open so that he could snuggle down on his bed. I'm slightly offended that our bed is no longer considered fluffy enough for him, but it might also be our insistence that he's not allowed in that makes it far more appealing.

When I got home this evening - later than usual - our boy was asleep and the cat was snoozing on his comfy bed by the radiator in the front room. I took over from Hubbie so he could go out for a swim - I had mine earlier today - and got myself sorted for the morning. I think it's fair to say that we are a family that does better when we have a routine.

Anyway, I'm off to bed now - I have to be up early :)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

On go on it's Sunday...

                           2B                                                                      Not 2B


That is the question :)

Friday, 2 January 2015

It's the second day of the rest of your life :)

Don't you tell me what to do !! 
I realise that resolutions is a dirty word and everyone keeps going on about how they've decided to make 'life changes' instead of resolutions. Well, I've decided to go all old school and just set myself a few things to do and not do. It's terribly dull hearing about how other people are giving up drinking or going on a diet so I won't actually go into that. On the basis that the hardest part of any life change is just making a start, what I will do is tell you how I'm getting on so far. You can work out from that what I've set myself as aims. It's like the US game show Jeopardy.

So today on the second day of this year I have managed to:

  • Wake up (not that early really) and made myself breakfast - I don't always eat breakfast as I rarely have time so that was a massive achievement
  • Get out of the house to go swimming - the pool was empty and it was proper blissful :)
  • Not shout at my boy - admittedly it helped that he was staying with my Mother last night, but still. I think I might just have cracked this parenting thing.
  • Avoid any chocolate passing my lips, even when the man in Thorntons offered me a free sample of a smiley face chocolate. I realise this sounds all wrong, but it really was a genuine and innocent offer.
  • Stop myself eating yet another mince pie I chose a healthy 'real food' snack this afternoon - it even involved fruit. Go me !!
  • Progress from thinking about making green smoothies to actually going out to buy the ingredients to make them. I hope that tomorrow I will actually get round to making one - can't promise I'll keep it down though.
  • Begin the great declutter. I have given away my 'spare' toaster, kettle and filter jug. For me this is big news as I hoard everything.

So, I'm making good progress on some of my aims for the year.

It's only two days in so I think that's a pretty good start.

That is going to make a lot of green smoothie !!