Wobbling the right muscles and jangling outdated British culture

I have been walking like a cross between John Thaw and John Wayne today after having strained muscles right the way down my right hand-side trying to get my new bike on its centre-stand. I struggled to even pass various bits and pieces from the front car seat to baby boy sat behind me because of all the twinges (the usual back seat demands…..Mummy I’m thirsty, Mummy I’m hungry….I can’t find my toy car aaahhh!). Of all muscles, my right hand side is not the place that needs ‘work’. What will it take to pull muscles in my thighs and buttocks? That’s the bit that really needs some tightening, as emphasised when I ran to the bank (to pay in a cheque) while my husband sat on double yellows …. Running is a great way of focusing attention on the wobbly bits because they can’t help but wobble. I am not a runner, so wonder if I started, would my wobbly bits eventually Wobble off? It’s worth a try…

Daughter is at a sleepover today at a friend’s gorgeous house…..however they are camping in the garden. Her Husband makes his money selling billion dollar floating gin palaces, so they have lots of nice stuff. They are Canadian, so they are friendly and talk to us and are happy for our daughter to socialise with theirs. (apologies to any wealthy British families I am about to offend by this statement, but…..) I have yet to meet a wealthy British family who are happy to socialise with a family whose joint income is less than a child’s private school bill. But Canadians (and many other nationalities for that matter) are completely unaware of our ridiculous class system and, as a result, do not uphold the unofficial screening process before commencing friendship (house, car, schooling, accent). 

Us Brits could learn a lot from other countries, Nigel Farage take note.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Egg on the hips

I am guilty about a family tradition passed down from Mother to Mother at this time of year – the task of absorbing some Easter egg calories so your children don’t have to. 

Easter is a bad time for women who have a weakness for chocolate (and are trying to remain/return to sugar free). If you have children it’s even worse. Eggs, chocolate bunnies, sweets, cakes (helped by a birthday party thrown in for good measure) are all sitting in the kitchen saying ‘eat me’. Cadburys chocolate are the worst, I can consume a small Chocolate egg in seconds. Today I ‘helped out’ baby boy with his chocolate buttons egg – I had the egg and he had the bag of buttons – I was taking the brunt of the calorific hit to retain my son’s health ( well that’s what I kept telling myself). I then felt so guilty I wanted to run a mile in shrink wrap before it had a chance to adhere to my hips…

My Mum did the same thing. In fact when I was older I had to hide the eggs so my Num couldn’t get to them. In an effort to save us both she put them in the bin one year. Then later that night retrieved them out of the bin…..it was a new all time low but resistance was futile.

If you go back another generation, my granny was nearly 20 stone …..gulp….you can understand why we are trying to resist – a good metabolism is not in the genes….

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Shun shun sugar

OK, sugar free 2015 isnt going well.

I had been doing well since July 2014, then along came Christmas…had a minor fall.

Then along came my birthday….so a continuation of Christmas.

Then along came a load of life’s s*** which made me turn to sugar.

Then along came Aunt Irma (AKA my period)…..so more sugar.

Then just when I thought I was getting better and not being too naughty by eating a hot cross bun, I decided the hot cross buns were some of the tastiest I had ever had (thought to myself maybe the ones I had bought before were a bit too bland) so I decided to have another one. As I was licking my lips I glanced down at the plate and noticed a couple of chocolate smudges…CHOCOLATE! I then checked the packet and yes, for some bizarre reason, I managed to consume rare hot cross buns containing belgian chocolate and fudge….and I spread butter on them thinking they were plain old currant…AAAH I now can feel the bun progressing to my larger buns as I type. The hips will be bulging like a muffin top over my jeans before the month is out if I carry on like this.

Well, as Scarlett O Hara said, tomorrow is another day – I will wake up shunning sugar for life…

I will keep you updated on how that goes..

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Love handles and seagulls

My obsession of washing machines was thankfully short-lived. We now have an ex-rental Bosch that is actually washingpur clothes hurrah! Having the ability to wash is vital and when you are denied that ability it is more than just frustrating, you feel like a student all over again..

My new obsession is tackling my love handles. It seems I cant escape them. Next year is my 35th and a friend once said to me that once you hit 35 anything stuck to your body by that point remains there til you die. So I have 6 months to shift unwanted lumps and bumps before everything is set in stone (or flesh). I have resigned myself to the ‘junk in my trunk’ bum, which I have learnt over the years to ‘package’. Love handles on the other hand just cant resist to give me a little ”muffin top’ regardless of what I am wearing. If I could choose a cake to resemble it would NOT be a muffin. I am thinking more along the lines of a chocolate eclair (brown and slim). There is a cake in my local cupcake shop that you can buy called a ‘Dolly Parton’, which consists of a meringue top, with a cherry. My favourite is the ‘Clark Gable’ which has a coffee fondant (to be alittle more up-to-date it should be re-named the ‘George Clooney’.

Next, why the seagulls? We have a small boat moored in a harbour on the South coast. It has now appeared on the Seagull version of google maps as ‘a good place to hang out and poop’. Last time we we t to the boat, the gulls had really gone to town. I refused to embark until all the poo had gone, so I bobbed up and down on the tender while hubby scrubbed and I occasionally threw him the odd baby wipe. So I have been reading reviews on the best things to repel gulls and have opted for this rotating mechanism that spins with the wind.

But while I was bobbing up and down on the sea waiting, a huge splash sound came from the starboard side and as I turned I caught sight of the end of a tail of something very big. We were in the shallow waters of the harbour so I struggled to think what it could have been. Then a movement caught my eye and I turned to see a seal about 30 metres from us, its beautiful head and huge eyes looking at us – I shouted for my hubby to catch sight of it, then it disappeared and popped its head up further along the channel. It was a lovely moment to be on the sea and catching a glimpse of such a beautiful creature sharing eachother’s environment. It made all the seagull shit worthwhile.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

The rutting season

I could barely walk this morning. Yesterday i powerhooped, jogged, rode and jumped my way through the day and paid for it today – i was all out of high-kicks.

I swam during my lunch-break, which felt good although i do find it frustrating. Swimming is one of the few sports where the more effort you put in, the less progress you make, hence the frustration. It is not about effort, but technique. I have a friend who seems to effortlessly glide and tumble turn through her lengths, while i am gasping for breath at each end. If i attempt a tumble-turn, i always end up in a different direction of travel. So i do what i do in most situations, i try harder, which only serves to slow me down more aarrgh!

My husband’s career is a bit like swimming. He has tried to work harder to get better qualifications but so far he isnt even getting job interviews, let alone jobs. He is trying to switch jobs, albeit in the same industry but having worked as a tree surgeon for 20 years, employers cant see him as anything but a tree surgeon.

For me, in my existing career, i have all the qualifications and experience i need o progress, but having a family and taking a couple of years off for children has stalled my earning potential. I have had at least 2 potential employers turn me down simply because my current salary doesnt look good, despite my skills and experience. They find it difficult to take me seriously, hence the dead-endedness of my job.

As for ambitions to be a social worker…still waiting for that 1 year magic conversion course o materialise. Until then i will carry on ploughing this furrow (albeit not a bad one as furrows go).

With the boot on the other foot, we had a few job application forms to sift through for my colleague’s maternity cover. For some reason i honed in on the birth-date and my boss questioned short-listing someone in their early 60s arguing that they would not have enough knowledge of social media. On paper this particular person seemed o be the most experienced of the lot of them, so i am interviewing her. This remark comes from the same boss who asked me in my interview if i was going to have more children…..

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

 

A bottomless pit

I have put on 5 pounds on the IQS diet. Dont blame the diet though. Before I reach for a spoon of sugar in my coffee again, it has dawned on me that i may have been eating more than the rda on peanut butter, which has an effect, even the reduced sugar and salt version. So over the next month peanut butter has been put on the naughty list and i will continue my mission to be sugar free in a bid to be healthier.

A magazine article on body shape featured a comment from a woman that struck a chord with me.  She said her focus wasn’t on her lumps and bumps but on healthy eating. So, i figured if i focus on health, the lumps and bumps will follow (or rather drop off). In the meantime i continue to be repellent to sugar, in the same way that a ex-smoker dismisses offers of a cigarette, today i declined chocolate muffins and mr whippy ice-cream.

However, it is hard to focus on health when all you really want to do is decrease the land mass of your rear-end. My baby boy has discovered it as a new form of entertainment to spank it so it wobbles, a habit inspired by the actions of both my daughter and husband. I am now wondering whether it is impossible to get rid of extra bum – if your born with it you have just got to sit on it – like Kim Kardashian.

Or is it years of bouncing up and down on horses’ backs. Maybe my body’s reaction was to create a buffer, hence the big butt.

Of course there are many more things to be worrying about than the size of bottoms. Us women have to shoulder the burden of achieving the ‘ideal’ figure but ‘ideal’ for whom?

Now my husband has started to comment that my daughter’s bottom is ‘filling out’ and i instantly retaliate with an exclamation of what a beautiful butt it is.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when women are more relaxed about their body shape? Or is it a culture that will continue in perpetuity?

Maybe the way to address it is through a process of elimination, a bit like weeding out an allergy. For example what would happen if high-fashion was excluded from the public conscience for a year, or it was insisted that only plus size models (aka normal size) were used for all advertising campaigns?

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Duracell no added sugar

I am almost a month in to my ‘i quit sugar’ diet and i have found one benefit that i wasnt expecting. It is not to do with weight loss (although thankfully i havent put on any weight), it is actually energy levels.

Today I was like one of those Duracell bunnies. I kept waiting for a wall of tiredness to hit me so i just kept going and going. In fact now (21.23 pm) is the first time i have actually sat down. Every time i thought i had a chance to momentarily put my feet up, i kept saying, ‘i will just do the washing/ washing-up/ prepare dinner/ water plants/feed horses / dogs/ clean bathroom while washing kids in bath……and this is after power-hooping in the morning and walking round the countryside with the kids and dogs all day…..and while feeling below par with a grotty cold. Its not bad this cutting out sugar lark.

It makes you wonder what it is about sugar that zaps your energy long-term? A friend of mine said she couldnt quit sugar because she would feel too lethargic. When in fact cutting it out would be the best thing for her. I find my energy levels are consistent, i dont have the peaks and troughs in energy levels like i used to. So, where in the past i would turn towards something sugary mid afternoon and later in the evening, i dont feel the need for it.

Coconut is also my new best friend and the children both enjoy drinking coconut water, it is amazingly refreshing and more hydrating than water. I am looking forward to having a go at a sugar free bounty bar recipe as they were one of my favourite sweets.

A few times my husband has complained that there is not enough ‘unhealthy’ stuff in the cupboards and the children seem to have re-discovered fruit.

Not that we exclude treats, we went to the chocolate cafe yesterday and all three of them had chocolate (apart from me with my glowing halo). My husband couldnt finish off his brownie and i declined it so my daughter wrapped it up in a napkin and put it in my bag for later.

Later on that evening, i found an empty slightly chewed up napkin next to my rather sheepish looking dog, she is becoming a dab hand (or should i say paw) at rifling through my bag. Last time she did that she finished off a bag of maltesers.

I wonder if they do a ‘quit sugar for dogs’?

I am blogging every say for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Happiness is perfect yet perfect isnt happy

I read an article by actress and stand-up comedian Francesca Martinez. It was brilliant and inspired me to order her book ‘What the f*** is normal?’ It also made me re-evaluate some of my views, particularly relating to parenting disabled children. I had always thought that parenting a disabled child overwhelming, although I could never have brought myself to abort a baby based on a predicted disability forecast by health professionals – a predicament that would have no doubt finished our marriage. My husband’s views on bringing up a disabled child are in contrary to his own childhood, which was marred by severe hearing loss due to brain damage.

Francesca looks at it from a different angle, ‘Most parents-to-be still fear that their beloved Newborn will turn out to be -oh, the horror – disabled. My personal fear is that my future child will turn out to be unhappy. I don’t care what he or she can or can’t do, how they talk or walk or how many fingers and toes they have. Because I don’t think that is a good indicator of happiness. Forget aborting babies because of the suffering they might endure. What about the suffering they will create? Wouldn’t it make sense to develop a test to check for the arms-dealer gene, the advertising executive gene, the corporate-overlord gene, or the gossip-magazine editor gene? That would eliminate quite a lot of suffering.’

I wish I had read Francesca’s article in The Guardian before I passed judgement on my daughter’s maths test mark. She described the scale of marks to me with 6 being the top score. I cant pretend that I was disappointed she had got a 3, they then get a sub mark in the form of letters, with A being the lowest and D being the top. Her total mark was 3B. I couldn’t hold back this disappointment and said that I didn’t  think her mark was ‘that good’ and that if she wanted to get into boarding school (her wish not mine) she was going to need to get a 5 or 6. What made me suddenly turn into a mother with the support and encouragement skills of an amoeba? Why did I turn into one of those pushy mothers who focus so much on grades they don’t recognise their daughter’s anorexia and anxiety attacks because of this unnecessary pressure to perform. Most parents say they just want their child to be happy, but also gets lots of qualifications and a high-earning job, the stress of which will put them into an early grave? I managed to halt the destructive path I was proceeding down when she explained to me that she had done her best and I later described it to Daddy in front of her as a ‘good’ mark, to which he said, ‘well that’s OK, it’s average’ gah! So I quickly added that no doubt Mummy and Daddy would have scored a 0 or a 1 if we had taken the same test at her age. Then I thought about the research that found those  who doubt their own maths abilities pass this down to their children. A fine case of how not to support the school life of an 8 year old. Next time I will apply duck tape to our mouths.

So tests are meant to give the teachers a steer on how the child is progressing and what additional support the child needs. I just wish teachers would give parents a steer  as to how we handle the news of the scores and whether we do nothing, praise regardless or encourage to try harder.

I agree with Francesca that kids and adults should just aim to be happy, so why as parents are we so f***in obsessed with perfection, when we are anything but.

I am blogging for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

Own goal for Sports Direct

Dear Sports Direct,

Thank you for sending me another giant mug that I do not need and a magazine that seems to assume most of your customers are male. When I placed the order for football boots and socks, I saw that you had pulled your trick again of sneaking another item on the bill and was glad to see that you had the decency to allow me to press ‘the remove from bill button’. Last time it took me so long to figure out how to remove the unwanted items, that I gave up. This time round, however, it still snuck its way back onto the check-out section.

Searching for and finding football boots on your website wasn’t great. The only way to navigate the boots on offer was to click individually on each brand. One brand appeared to have wiped out 50 per cent of the population when displaying boots for ‘men’ and ‘boys’. I can’t remember exactly when women started playing football but I’m pretty sure it has been a while, so you might want to update your records, hence why my daughter is playing football (and why I was searching for football boots).

My daughter loves her new boots but i’m glad she didn’t read the magazine. I had a glance through it and came across the double page about Andy Murray playing tennis in ‘a dream world’ where all the ball girls are models. Next to the article was a full page picture of a woman in lingerie. It ended with a ‘loaded magazine’ style leer about this particularly scantily clad woman appearing on the tennis courts in future and once again the writer mused at ‘what a dream world’ that would be. To avoid ‘sexism’ he inserted the word ‘ball-boys’ although the picture of Andy Murray surrounded by lots of pretty ball girls did not include boys as well so that was an extremely lazy attempt to avoid being sexist.

Two things irritated me about this article. First, the writer assumed the readership is male and heterosexual (I am not a lesbian so, being a heterosexual woman, I do not consider female models being ball girls a ‘dream world’. Lets stick to boys and girls, preferably those kids who thoroughly deserve to get close to the action in professional tennis.) Second, I had to close the magazine when my daughter walked into the room as I was worried about her reading the article and thinking a man’s job is to play a professional sport and a woman’s job is to look good on the side-lines.

The magazine has now taken its rightful place in the recycling bin.

So in writing this letter, I expect you to think about the following:

– Review your customer base, particularly for football goods (I think you will find some of them are female)

– review your editorial policy for the magazine (I am assuming the editor is male, if so he should know better)

– stop putting items in the online basket that have not been selected by the customer

I hope you will take my comments on board.

If not I will shop elsewhere and forward this letter to a few people who may test the capabilities of your PR department.

With regards

Tom Marter

-ends-

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

Hooked on quitting sugar

I am hooked on quitting sugar. I have just uploaded the book ‘I quit sugar for life’ by Sarah Wilson and already I am entranced. Like most of us, I have a sweet tooth which, if indulged, will keep going and going until I feel mildly sick. While I am experiencing one of these gorge fests I keep saying o myself’ this isn’t good for you’ but the other less cautious voice in my head (that most of us have got) says ‘f##* it eat it anyway’.

I counteract this sugar rush by not eating much else in an attempt to keep my calorie intake low – healthy isn’t it?

Which is why this book could potentially change my life. So, as I progress through the book, I have started to make small changes to my daily diet. The first big change has been to shift my attention away from the back of packets listing calories and analysing the ‘crabs of which sugars’ section o the nutritional content table. It is an eye opener. My lovely low fat yoghurt comfort foods have now transformed into sugary devils that must be avoided at all costs (or just re-directed to my husband). My lovely big bowl of cornflakes topped with sugar is also now in the devil’s food category. However foods that were previously on the ‘no no’ category, like cheese, are now in the angel food section. The only sticking point with Sarah’s approach is the meat protein and she advises against soya – not good for the half-hearted vegetarian like me.

Going forward, the biggest temptations to resist will be skipping puddings at work and ignoring the presence of sticky buns in our local shop.

I am also particularly worried when Aunt Irma visits (period) as my need for sugar doubles during those periods. I hope there is a chapter in the book that covers that.

This blog is for UNICEF, if you can support the campaign, click here.

Thanks for reading.