31 October 2009
30 October 2009
29 October 2009
28 October 2009
When I grew up I wanted to be a grown up.
When I was 22 and married and finding my first grey hair, I thought is this it? Is this my life? I had to question it because I wasn’t sure. It felt strange. It felt like this life belonged to someone else.
I had a lovely little house. It was a teeny tiny two-up two-down semi with a postage stamp garden. It never felt real. I always felt as if I was playing house. I cleaned it, constantly rearranged the ornaments and planted daffodil bulbs in the garden . My mum nagged me to choose a dinner service to collect. I never did this, I was only playing at being grown up after all.
It wasn’t always like this. At middle school I wanted to be a vet. I loved animals and I enjoyed science. I was well-behaved and studious at school. Then I got to the upper school and found that physics, chemistry and biology were not streamed by ability. Take chemistry for instance, instead of studying the periodic table and mixing potions in test tubes, a girl called Tracey Pope used to thump me and give me a dead arm every five minutes. The teacher spent half the lesson making, then drinking a cup of coffee.
Then I decided I would be an actress – who said Drama Queen? My skeletal, chain-smoking drama teacher asked me if I would sell my grandmother for a role. I said I wouldn’t, so that was that.
After that I had run out of career ideas.
I left school at 18 and was planning to study English at university, but I didn’t get the expected A grade at A level, so I didn’t get in. I re-applied for the following year, to study history (I did get an A in that).
To earn some money I took a job at a local building company. I was a wages clerk with a desk, a calculator and a dumb computer terminal connected to the mainframe computer. I was allowed to make coffee whenever I wanted and I drank it as I stuck stamps on holiday cards. I was at work, I was an adult.
After a few months someone Spotted My Potential. I was offered the job of trainee accountant. By this point my childhood sweetheart had proposed. He said if we got engaged I couldn’t go to university.
We got engaged and I started to study accountancy. I thought that accountants earned loadsamoney so I decided to give it a go. If I failed any of the exams I would give up.
Five years later I qualified. I had letters after my name, but I still didn’t feel like a grown up.
When I was 30, newly divorced, I took a gap year. I worked and travelled in Australia and New Zealand. I broadened my horizons and gained confidence, but I also met people who seemed far more self-aware and self-assured than I was.
I realised the world was my oyster.
So I came home to live with my Dad, who had been ill while I was away, and got another job in finance.
I did more grown up things. I bought a house. I had boyfriends (not all at once you understand). I had cats. I started doing yoga. All the while I felt like a child when I compared myself with anyone older than myself.
If anything ever went wrong in my house I rang Dad’s Handyman Service. He would ask me to describe the problem and get annoyed that I didn’t know which tools would be required for the job. He would turn up half an hour later with an old ice-cream tub containing the right tools for the job and some others besides and always a dirty rag. In the ice-cream tub would also be a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. I would put the kettle on and Dad would fix whatever was wrong. My Dad could fix anything. Then we could have a cup of tea and a natter.
I guess I only grew up when he died.
I grew up when I was 36.
I’m now 39 and a bona fide adult. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband. I gave birth to two amazing children. I write a lively and popular parenting blog (you know my tongue is firmly in my cheek as I write this sentence). I’m a member of a writing group. I go to live literature events on my own and have made friends there. That’s what grown ups do.
Today I didn’t act like a grown up when Presley stomped up and down wearing my shoes. I crawled around on the floor chasing him, pulling faces and laughing.
Presley later held Cash, round the neck, in a half-nelson. I screamed at him to stop. When he didn’t I prised his arm away and threw him in the playpen. As I was comforting a screaming Cash and trying to ignore a crying Presley I blinked back tears and wished I could hide under the duvet.
Sometimes I hate being a grown up.
27 October 2009
25 October 2009
- Ecover Multi Surface Spray Cleaner – RRP £2.84 (500ml) – twice as powerful as Ecover’s previous spray surface cleaner, SquirtEco3 thanks to Ecover’s Eco-Surfactants, this versatile spray cleaner is safe around food. It cleans as efficiently as Flash Multi Purpose Spray, leaving all washable surfaces sparkling clean. // Agreed!
- Ecover Window & Glass Cleaner – RRP £2.69 (500ml) - this brand new product can be used on windows, mirrors, glass and chrome. Up against Mr Muscle Window Cleaner, it took victory on performance and finish, and was described as ‘efficient’, ‘very effective’ and ‘easy to use’ in consumer research. // Agreed, no smears, wonderful.
- Ecover All Purpose Cleaner – RRP £1.59 (500ml) - the concentrated form of this new formulation is over 70% more powerful than the old one. It naturally and hygienically cleans all hard washable surfaces just as well as Flash All Purpose Dilutable and was found to ‘remove stubborn marks’, be ‘good in the bathroom’ and ‘make taps sparkle’ in consumer research. // I gave this and the Flash to my mother in law to test. I didn't tell her anything about Ecover. I just asked her to clean her kitchen floor with it and let me know how she got on. And I quote "it was really good. No leftover suds. I'd definitely use it again. It's the green one, isn't it?'. So there you are. High praise indeed!
- Ecover Power Cleaner – RRP £3.99 (500ml) – this new power degreaser is great for tackling grimy ovens, bbqs, cooker hobs, extractor hoods and grills and consumers have found it to be as effective as Cillit Bang Power Cleaner Degreaser when it comes to ovens and pots and pans. // This is the reason I took so long to write this review. I kept putting off cleaning my cooker hood. When I eventually got round to it I had mixed results. The Ecover didn't remove every scrap of grease, but I couldn't leave half a cooker hood to soak. The Cillit Bang removed the grease and the coating from the other half of the cooker hood. I had to clean the Ecover half with Cillit Bang to even it up. Now both sides are dull. :-(
24 October 2009
23 October 2009
‘You’ll have your hands full!’, laughed my mother in law. We’d just told her that I was pregnant again and the baby was due on Presley’s first birthday. Laughter and incredulity were common reactions to our pregnancy announcement.
What did the other parents know that we didn’t? Why did most families leave a gap of two to three years between babies? I guess we hadn’t thought it through.
Presley was such a ‘good’ baby that we thought having another would be a doddle. Also, I was in my late thirties and we didn’t know how long it would take for me to get pregnant (erm, one month)!
I thought, mistakenly, that one year olds walked and talked fluently. When Cash arrived, three days before Presley’s birthday, we found ourselves with two babies to look after. Two babies with different needs, in different routines, both demanding attention. I was rushed off my feet and constantly tired.
With the wonderful gift of hindsight I suppose it would have been easier if Presley was potty trained, communicating well, eating at the table, walking along the road safely, before Cash arrived.
I found it difficult to take them to baby classes (these are mostly age specific) and impossible to take them swimming alone. Our local Surestart Children’s Centre doesn’t allow pushchairs, so I struggled to get them both inside. I would describe my role as that of baby juggler!
There are some positives though. Cash wears Presley’s hand-me-down clothes. They are the right season too. Also having two so close together means they will play together. I still live in hope of them playing happily together. At the moment Presley builds a tower and Cash knocks it over. They have quite mastered the concept of sharing. Presley thinks all the toys are his and Cash wants to play with whatever Presley is playing with.
On the face of it the cons of having a one year age gap outweigh the pros, but I have two adorable sons and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Advice, hints and tips:
- Do as much as you can before the new baby arrives. You won’t have time to blow your nose, let alone decorate the downstairs loo once he/she arrives!
- Encourage your partner to establish a bedtime routine for the older child that is continued after the new baby arrives.
- Shop online.
- Stock up on loo roll, washing powder, nappies and wipes.
- Cook and freeze meals for all the family in advance of the new baby’s arrival.
- Have a few ready-meals/jars and the pizza delivery menu handy.
- Routine is important so you know what happens next.
- Be flexible. This may sound contradictory but everything you try to do will take that little bit longer!
- If both babies are crying deal with the older child first as their issue can usually be resolved quicker.
- Accept all offers of help. Family and friends can either take the older child out, or hold the baby while you spend time with the older sibling. Better still they can do the housework while you relax with your babies.
- Keep your changing bag packed at all times so that it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re trying to leave the house.
- Put the baby down in a carry cot on table out of the way of grabbing hands.
- Rotate toys so your older child has regular ‘new’ toys to keep them occupied.
- Try to get both babies to sleep at the same time so you can rest (do NOT do the housework)!
First published on Parentdish UK
21 October 2009
20 October 2009
19 October 2009
- Mention who tagged you.
- Go to your photo files…Select the 6th photo folder.
- Select the 6th photo in that folder.
- Post that photo along with the story behind it.
- Then challenge 5 blog friends to do the same!
18 October 2009
16 October 2009
14 October 2009
- Presley walked to and from playgroup today. He held on to Cash's pushchair all the way and stopped patiently on the kerb as I taught him the Green Cross Code.
- At playgroup the boys were spectacularly well behaved, (if you ignore Presley trying to open the main door - my 'UH UH' cut through the hubbub and he walked sheepishly back). Today was the first time Presley asked to join the craft table. He glued some paper and felt on to a squirrel-shaped piece of paper. It's lovely *wipes away a tear*. Yes, child art work is still a novelty. Yes, it's going on the fridge!
- I managed not to pass out with the pain when Cash whacked me round the face with the potty. I saw stars. Unfortunately not the George Clooney/Johnny Depp kind of stars.
- We survived day five without CBeebies. I will write a post on this soon. Incidentally, our television was unplugged before the news report about the Aussies banning it for the under-twos. I just couldn't watch another episode of 'Big and Small'.
- I'm proud of being involved in all this blogging erm... stuff:
- The Best of British Mummy Bloggers Carnival is being held by Antonia at Family Friendly Working.
- A Mother's Secrets has a collection of posts on pregnancy lows.
- I've written another Blogger Basics post for Carol at New Mummy's Tips, this time on adding images to posts.
- I've reviewed the best children's dressing up costume in the world ever on the Great Toy Guide. If you're looking for a Halloween costume you'll find the best twelve here.
13 October 2009
This is a difficult post to write.
I’ve been putting it off for a couple of weeks, but I’m ready now.
You see, I’m in this complicated relationship. I’ve been in this relationship for thirty years. This relationship is with food, and it’s not a healthy one.
If I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol or drugs I could go cold turkey. It would be difficult (and I’m not making light of addictions here), but it’s possible. I used to smoke twenty cigarettes a day. On 6th June 2003 I stopped smoking. I just stopped. It was hard, but I haven’t smoked since.
If your unhealthy relationship is with food, you can’t just stop eating. You have to eat every day, several times a day.
I wasn’t a skinny child, but looking back though the photo albums I now realise I wasn’t that big either. I certainly wouldn’t have been filmed from the neck down, eating chips, for an ITV news report on childhood obesity.
I was teased at primary school though. Some of the boys called me Big Bertha or Two Ton Tessie. My best friends Joanne and Wendy used to sit on me at lunchtime to make my tummy smaller.
When I was nine my mother put me on my first diet. I don’t blame her. Throughout the 1970s she only ate cottage cheese, Ryvitas or lettuce. She didn’t know any better. She used to make me wear huge ‘tent dresses’.
I was allowed to eat 1000 calories a day. Everything I ate was recorded on a chart stuck on the back of the larder door. I was only allowed about 100ml of milk per day.
I can’t remember whether I lost any weight, I suppose I must have done.
The following year, when I was ten, my mother started to work in the evenings. My father also worked in the evenings, but in his workshop at home. I remember night after night feeling bored, rifling through every cupboard in the kitchen looking for something to eat. In secret I would eat a couple of chocolate biscuits, a packet of crisps and a kitkat. I would then eat a bowl of cornflakes covered with sugar, then wash and dry the bowl and spoon and put them away.
I repeated the starve/binge cycle for years and years and years.
I was either on a diet, or not on a diet and binging.
I have tried most diets over the years. I’ve been to Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Rosemary Conley and my mum’s slimming/aerobics club. I’ve tried the Atkins Diet and the Low GI Diet. I’ve read slimming magazines. I know so much about dieting that I’ve made a up a few of my own. I can tell you how to lose weight by eating a low fat, low sugar diet. I’ve tried not eating after six o’clock and I’ve tried not eating before six o’clock.
The most weight I lost in one go was six and a half stone. Then I started eating ‘normally’ again and put all the weight back on again – and then some.
I’ve failed at every single diet I’ve been on. Do you know why?
DIETS DON’T WORK!
Diets set you up for failure because you can’t stay on them forever. You’ve been deprived of your favourite foods for however long you’ve been dieting and as soon as you stop, you eat and eat and eat and eat. Well, I do.
If diets worked I’d be a size ten and wouldn’t be writing this.
So where does that leave me?
I’m not the heaviest I’ve ever been, but I'm getting there, slowly but surely.
Around the time I met Andy, a few years ago, I lost weight. I lost it without trying. I ate what I wanted, including chocolate. We ate out in restaurants and we cooked for each other. I was so happy I didn’t think about food. After I had lost four stone I realised that I hadn’t binged or eaten in secret for months.
Then, when I was pregnant with Presley I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was put on a strict diet. I continued this diet for a few months after he was born too and lost even more weight. No wonder I had problems with my milk supply. The diet couldn’t last though. I was back on the diet/binge cycle once more. The Christmas after Presley was born I ate two large tins of chocolates before mid-December and had to buy more. I couldn’t stop eating.
Then I got pregnant with Cash. Again I had gestational diabetes. This time the diet wasn’t so strict, but I still had to follow a diet. I only put on ten pounds throughout the entire pregnancy. Once Cash was born I ate loads to help my milk supply. I haven’t stopped eating since. I’m pretty disgusted with myself.
So I’m overweight and rather unfit at the moment. I’d love to have more energy to play with the boys. I’d love to be able to shop for clothes anywhere but Evans. I don’t want the boys to be teased at school because they’ve got a fat mummy.
I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to go on a diet.
Thank Bob for the lovely Jo Beaufoix. We’d been emailing each other following a comment on a blog post. She asked me if I’d read the book ‘Beyond Chocolate: How To Stop Yo-Yo Dieting and Lose Weight For Good’ by Sophie and Audrey Boss. I hadn’t, so I bought it and read it.
What a revelation! Beyond Chocolate is not a diet. You can eat what you want when you want, so long as you tune in to what your body really needs. There are no ‘bad foods’ , no calorie counting, no points, no scales. You eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. You move your body because you enjoy it.
Yes, it is simple, but I wasn’t sure where to start. There was a lot to take in. We looked into the weekend courses that they run, but Jo and I live a fair distance from each other. There is an alternative...
A couple of weeks ago Jo and I started the twelve week Beyond Chocolate Ecourse.
The Ecourse breaks the book down into bite-sized pieces. Sorry, that joke was in poor taste. And so was that one.
There’s full email support and a website forum to join. Also, Jo and I are supporting each other too. It is nerve-racking, but exciting. I’ve got nothing to lose, apart from some weight. I hope to gain body confidence and to get back in touch with myself. Go back to basics.
I’ll let you know how I get on.
12 October 2009
10 October 2009
The lovely Peggy from A Mother’s Secrets has asked for posts on the subject of pregnancy lows. This is my contribution.
All my adult life I wanted to be pregnant. I couldn’t wait to start wearing maternity clothes and walking with a waddle. I wanted to be treated differently, reverentially. That’s how I saw pregnant women, I was in awe of them.
When it finally happened to me I was thrilled. I had to keep popping to the loos at work so I could have a grin to myself. Mostly I loved being pregnant. It’s an exciting time, a time to make plans. I studied my baby books and each week read about the baby’s development. I also checked the mother’s symptoms guide and read out snippets to Andy. This week I will get a rush of hormones, apparently. This week I should have my first scan. And so on.
With Presley I sailed through my pregnancy until about 28 weeks. I narrowly failed the Glucose Tolerance test for gestational diabetes. I had to keep a food diary and regularly check my blood sugar. After a week I went back to the diabetic clinic at my local hospital. They said some of my readings were too high. Why had I eaten white bread and pizza?
This was the start of the low. I hadn’t even seen a dietician, yet I was prescribed insulin injections. I asked the doctor if there was an alternative. His caring reply was ‘your baby could die’.
I had to inform DVLA and my car insurance. If I had a hypoglycemic episode I could pass out at the wheel. I had to tell everyone at work that I was a diabetic and give them instructions in case I became ill. I had to inject myself twice a day, immediately before eating. I got used to this and could discreetly inject myself in restaurants.
I followed a low GI diet and kept my blood sugar under control. I lost weight. In fact I weighed the same the day I went into labour as I did the day I got pregnant. I probably wasn’t eating enough, but I was terrified that a single polo mint would harm my unborn child.
I had a couple of scans to check that the baby wasn’t getting too big. They estimated an 8lb baby. It was reassuring to see my child on the screen.
All through my pregnancy I had been planning a natural, active birth. I went to a wonderful yoga class to prepare my body. Andy and I went on an excellent active birth weekend. I was following a natal hypnotherapy course too. I was adamant that no one would force me to lay on a bed to give birth.
At one of my weekly diabetic clinic visits I asked the antenatal consultant whether having gestational diabetes meant my labour would be any different from normal.
I was told that I would have to be induced early. I would have continuous foetal monitoring. I would have insulin and glucose drips.
I asked if I would be able to be upright, move around? I was told no, you’ll have to lay on the bed.
When you are pregnant it is almost impossible to see beyond the birth of your baby. You can’t imagine what it’s like to have a baby at home. So hearing these words was pretty devastating to me. I was worried sick that my baby would die because I had gestational diabetes and I was terrified of an inactive labour and medical intervention.
My labour was traumatic, the medics intervened, but Presley arrived, all 6lb 10oz of him. Andy jokes that he wasn’t delivered by stork, but by Dalek (venthouse)!
After a few days in the Special Care Baby Unit we took our precious boy home.
Once you’ve had the baby, and you start to take care of it, the labour and birth gains some perspective. It’s only a day or two out of the rest of your life. The most important thing is holding your new baby and caring for it. All of the worry, fear of the unknown and the pain is behind you.
You’re a parent. Now the real worrying can start!