Parent break

Today myself and hubby had a rare chance to be together because it was raining. He couldnt work and the children were booked in with my Mum while I was supposed to be helping him with the job. They were still desperate to spend the day with Granny even though our plans had changed so myself and hubby found ourselves in the luxurious position of something to enjoy together without the children (and not the obvious….and slightly naughty option).

We went swimming.

I havent swam since July. Hubby hasnt swam since…..well he couldnt remember.

I used to be able to crack out 40-50 lengths without stopping, now I need to take a much needed breather after 4. Likewise with my hubby who has shifted from being a tree climber to an office worker so is less active. It is depressing how quickly fitness diminishes.

After 20 lengths we called time out and went for a well earned coffee and resisted the cakes. We enjoyed talking without interruptions about fixing toys, preparing food snacks and loo breaks. We also had a very civilised quite time flicking through the papers. Then we grabbed a baguette still warm from the oven in a local shop and set off for a walk with the two dogs without two little voices complaining of tired legs 5 minutes into the journey.

The same goes for the children too. My Mum gave them chocolate no questions asked and didnt balk if they asked for more. She role played with them til their heart’s content without forgetting seconds later and falling out of character or getting distracted my a mobile phone or an email. They also got plenty of ‘bosom time’ – lots of cuddles with my well endowed mother who did not pass those particular genes down to me. My baby son said to her once ‘I love your barbies’.

Kids need a break from parents too.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Yes woman

Unlike Jim Carrey’s character in the film ‘yes man’, I have the opposite problem – I find it hard to say no.

I am a change junkie, I love change. If my husband said tomorrow that the whole family were leaving for Australia, within minutes I would be researching flights without a backward glance. I was once told I have a higher than average sense of mortality (which is a bizarre observation when you think about it), I am not one of those people who say ‘it wouldn’t happen to me’, more like ‘what if it happened to me?’ So I believe in living for the here and now (you might have guessed by now that I am not a huge fan of saving, but surprised to hear that I have been paying into a pension since my early twenties……i am also an optimist).

The trouble with being a yes woman is that pretty quickly your life can fill up. Just in responding to adverts publicised in my locality since giving up my job because of childcare costs, I have said yes to: a job working from home for the council, an interview to be a cycling instructor and become a member of a netball team). This is aside from two children, helping my husband with his business and helping look after horses 3 times per week. Oh…..and I did sign up to bootcamp on the village green every Wednesday from September.

Thinking about it, the only time I say ‘no’ is normally in response to my husband asking me if I can do something……because I am too busy doing everything else. I am also (on the whole) successfully saying ‘no’ to sugar (although ate an eton mess for pudding earlier…..whoops).

This blog is for Unicef.

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Private Baby Benjamin

Now I am nearly a stay at home mum, i am thinking of what i can do to increase exercise with baby boy tagging along.

I have already tried interval running, which involves me pushing baby boy in the buggy (not one of those expensive jogging buggies, just my bog standard mclaren). I run and push for 1 minute, then walk for 2, although baby boy makes a good personal trainer, nagging me as soon as his buggy slows down.

I have been powerhooping once a week, with baby boy sat in the buggy in the corner of our village hall passing quiet judgement on us ladies spinning around. He even joins in for the stretching bit.

So with a bit more spare time, i am going to embark on ‘boot camp’. This concept has been popular for some time but i have yet to give it a go. Like most people, i will do more if pushed so figure it will be a good, if slightly painful experience. The boot camp lady will also let you bring your child, but quite what they do while you are being put through your paces is a mystery. I did notice at the school summer fair that the pre-schoolers of boot camp mums did do particularly well in the under fives race. So watch this space…..

This blog is for Unicef.

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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.


Fading photos….but not faded enough

I made a nasty discovery in my mum’s old photo collection today…….me when I was fat.

I recall listening to Sara Cox on the radio one day when she remarked how old and inferior she felt when watching 19 year old girls walk by with amazing figures and not terribly much on. She described them as 100% prime beef with men all queuing up at a meat market.

This was not me at 19. Before university student life I had an OK figure, then I started drinking cider and eating at greasy spoons and trying to keep up with my boyfriend’s daily calorific intake. When I look back I recall it not being the healthiest episode of my life and that I may have crept up to a size 14, but the picture is shocking. I literally look like someone pumped me full of gas. Even my facial features have been lost to the landmass that is my bloatedness. Thankfully I can look back on it now and feel relieved that the wind didn’t change and that I didn’t stay that way. It is a shame though that I bhdidn’t look my best when my skin was still in its ‘youth’.

Now in my thirties I have finally grasped the concept of ‘my body is a temple’, yet i have lots of grey hairs, wrinkles  and a few saggy bits where things haven’t ‘sprung’ back to shape. Its all a little bit too late. But as you get older, concerns about your appearance hive way to preserving your health, which is why i am fitter and slimmer now than when i was in my teens……back then i did whatever i wanted and thought about the consequences later.

So to prevent me from ever ballooning like i did when i was 19, that photo is stuck to my fridge as a reminder whenever i get tempted away from an evening’s exercise or tempted towards sugary treats.

I decided not to put the pictures of my semi-naked mother (she seemed to like going topless on all of our family holidays) and my father with george best hair and a podgy tummy on the fridge. Some photos are best left in albums, or better still in our memories… fade with time.

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An inevitable tide

I am about to embark on the Sport Relief challenge but something even more challenging has come my way……potty training.

Not me, I hasten to add, I have been ‘dry’ for about 32 years now, except in I999 when I shouldn’t have touched the bottle of Metaxa….. I am referring to the potty training process of my 2 year old son.

It started with the purchase of Mickey mouse pants (I love encouraging him to repeat that phrase as he has a lisp). Once home I wasted no time getting him on his new pants and saying bye-bye to nappies after over 2 years. Then the ticking time bomb commenced. When would he need to do his first wee? I encouraged him to sit on the potty and then remain on it, reading half of his book collection in an effort to key him on the throne. But to no avail. After a play in the garden, I saw he started to walk like John Wayne and he announced to me that he was ‘wet’. So with minimum fuss I changed him into another version of his Mickey mouse pants and then commenced the frequent reminders of ‘potty’.

After he woke up from his afternoon nap I thought he might need a wizz but 5 books later the well of the potty was still dry. The focus on toilet routines had the opposite effect on me, I wanted to go to the loo even more frequently than normal. So, I decided to lead by example ably assisted by a baby Bjorn trainer seat. He seemed to be happier perched on this but even so all the children’s literature in the world could not encourage the waterworks, not even with the taps running.

So I know he has control, he just needs to learn how to release that control. I fear that will happen in his sleep tonight but I am confident that by this time next week we will be nappy free.

I have just enjoyed watching the Sport Relief programmes on the BBC, including the reports from Africa, which were incredibly difficult to watch but reinforce why Sport Relief is so important. You just get the feeling that much more could be done if our world operated slightly differently (I am referring to programmes, such as last night’s channel Four programme on the customers of Rolls Royce). How many malaria vaccines could be bought with the equivalent capital to buy one person seven Rolls Royce.

But until re-distribution of wealth is sorted, causes like Sport Relief do their best to make do on the generosity of people wanting things to change, if only they could change for good rather than stem the tide of poverty that seems to be inevitable across the world.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. For this weekend please support Sport Relief. The rest of the year please support Unicef when you can.

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gap between developing and developed countries, rich and poor

Project bottom reduction commences

I had the misfortune today of catching site of my bottom in the bedroom mirror. Has Christmas had this effect or has it always been this way? It looked bloody awful. Last year I managed to reduce my overall size significantly but one area that has proved particularly stubborn is my derriere. So, I am adding to my project list another attempt to reduce its size. The source of my problem rests with my hips. To my horror, I can actually grab the flesh on my hips and lift it like a skirt, which has the much pleasing effect of lifting my whole butt into a much more streamlined shape. The minute I let ‘the hip skirt’ go the ‘old saddlebags’ return…gahhhh!!!

I thought about running but I just can’t keep it up. Swimming keeps cellulite at bay but has no impact on butt size. Spinning is apparently a good exercise for that area but I don’t want to have to pay for a gym class on top of my Zumba and power hoop expenditure. So, I am thinking of researching some dance dvds with the idea that Beyoncee is defying her genetic make-up by having a tight ass so booty shaking to a beat may be a step in the right direction.

So, after a slap-up meal tonight at Jami’s Italian, my butt reduction campaign (or BR) commences tomorrow.

My butt is 89 Cm in width – I will add updates to my measurements throughout this blog to see if my efforts are working in a effort to keep me motivated (I hope). If I succeed then I will have identified the successful formula to help fellow ladies with ‘does my bum look big in this?’ issues feel a whole lot better.

My friend’s butt is so tight she can squeeze into a child’s car seat – I am not intending to reduce it by that much but I will give it a damn good try.

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This week I will be mostly having a go at…

Underwater hockey courtesy of the ‘Octopush’ association. Has anyone heard of it? Apparently we have a Team GB (although since the Olympics there seems to be a ‘Team GB’ for everything including tractor pulling and maybe even tea drinking).

It looks like a combination of water polo and ice hockey. The hockey sticks are very very short – more like the length of Captain Hook’s Hook. They use pucks like in ice hockey that spin along the surface of the pool and special gloves are worn to protect you from shaving your skin off every time you push the puck along the abrasive bottom of the pool.

I am always game to give anything a try once (amazingly that has yet to have got me into any trouble, with the exception of shacking up with my husband). Kids can do it too and my soon to  be 7 year old daughter wants to have a go. The matches last about 20 minutes and you wear snorkel equipment so that you don’t have to attempt to hold your breath for the entirety of the match. It’s quite a workout too, as you obviously work against the resistance of the water all the time. I can’t see it catching on as a spectator sport….unless you have one of those pools they have in zoos so that visitors can watch penguins and dolphins swim underwater. Assuming this was arranged it would be pointless if the crowd were singing songs of support and whooping and hollering. So they would probably resort to sign language – come to think of it there are quite a few ‘signs’ used in football, particularly directed towards the referee.

My nearest partipating pool is about a 30 minute drive away so I may not get round to having a go this side of Christmas, but as soon as I do, you guys will be the first to know.

For more info check out

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Enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading.

The diet starts tomorrow

I am sat flanked by kettle crisps to my left and sausage rolls, honey glazed cocktail sausages, potato wedges, bacon twizzlers and other finger food delights to my right. In various tupperware boxes in the kitchen are homemeade cupcakes and cookies. The fridge has a few cream filled and chocolate iced treats. Yes we had a kids party today – can you tell? It feels like an early Christmas, lots of family, lots of food. It was my baby son’s birthday party (although his birthday isn’t for another few days yet) he is a bit like the Queen – an official and unofficial birthday (the next party is specially for his baby mates).

I did attempt to mimic Mary Berry in the cake making category but my oven had other ideas. I followed the recipe on the back of the good old Betty Crocker pack perfect but it still ended up a bit lopsided. One side rose very well the other barely rose at all. The oven company who comes up with the ‘auto correct’ button will do very well indeed. It was a very tense process when I had to go through what seemed like a ritual to get the picture off the rice paper backing. On the instructions it said – “rub the backing paper vigorously on the edge of a table or cupboard until the picture starts to lift off”. If anyone had been walking past my house during this moment they would have seen me bent double rubbing a piece of A4 paper up and down on the edge of a table – like I was giving it a massage. Anyway, to my astonishment it worked. But to my horror it fell off quite quickly and landed face down on the floor (think I was a bit too vigorous) I will move away from this innuendo bingo to say that thankfully it stayed intact and with the carefulness and precision used to handle uranium, I succesfully planted it on top of my lop-sided cake. The picture was a photograph of my son’s favourite toy. “Right, now to tidy up the edges”, I said as I reached for my spray on icing complete with pipework attachments. Despite my best efforts it looked like something my daughter did when she was 2. I withheld from attempting any further work on it for fear of adding insult to injury. I decided my cake was a birdseye cake (it looked good from a birdseye view). Thankfully this was good when taking pictures of it. It went down well with my son who inhaled it.

Pound in the pot for yesterday I know. We didn’t get back til after midnight thanks to stuffing our face in a restaurant (the platter to share for starters would have been sufficient) followd by a screening of Skyfall – which was good but cheesy. I wasn’t entirely clear why Bond took that disc thingy to a a gambling house in Shanghai to get a case full of money, do nothing with it, meet up with a woman have a chat, beat up her bodyguards and then join her in the shower? It felt a bit like the director had a checklist of film ‘must haves’: car chase “check”, computer, car and watch product placements “check”, casino scene “check”, steamy scenes “check”, a moment of doubt about the world and its purpose “check”. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the overdose on patriotism – for one moment I thought it was directed by Michael Mann – actually if they had filmed the union jack in slo mo I would have been convinced it was the work of Mann. I’m sure he suggested a few shots (M by the line of Union-Jack festooned coffins, Bond gazing over the cityscape with the flags dotted here and there, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Jaguar, the prime minister etc etc). But it wasn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours – I particularly enjoyd the trailer “Seven Psychpaths” – more my strada.

Right, I have now eaten all the crisps – will endeavour to swim lots this week and do a bit of Zumba and cut the calorie intake in half – parties do not help the butt reduction campaign…..

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She’s a perfect 10 – but she wears a 12

…baby keep a little 2 for me (Beautiful South lyrics, in case you are too young or too old to remember!). The theme for today’s post after a week of chocolate guzzling followed by starve and swim (I could create a new fad diet) is… body image.

Earlier while enjoying an M&S ‘dine in for £10’ meal (slightly more upmarket than a Mcdonalds Happy Meal – it really is great value though main meal, side dish, dessert and bottle of wine for a tenner) my husband commented on the new shape of Christina Aguilera. “You remember Christina used to be rifle thin”, “Yeeees…” (I reply with what might be detected as excitement at the thought that a well-known celeb may be…..big dramatic pause followed by drum roll…FAT!) “Well she’s huuuge now” (he said while making the same gesticulations he uses when describing a very large and old tree trunk – he is a tree surgeon hence the above average regularity of discussions about tree trunks in our house). He brought up some crap story where a journo with nothing better to do had listed a before and after shot of Christina (The journo isnt that stupid as I couldn’t resist the temptation to scroll down and measure the accuracy of my husband’s decription). See The Sun story.

I have to say she looked stunning. I said “She’s not fat she’s curvy in a very Marilyn Monroe-esque kind of way”. At which point my husband detects that he may be stepping on to dodgy territory and quickly backpedalled fast, “Yes she’s curvy, just right…that’s what all women should be like……dont know what they’re going on about.” At which point I did a Marge Simpson impression “Hmmmmm” while staring at him. He then (rather cleverly) changed the subject by saying, “Do you think I am getting fat?” (My husband is the kind of guy that has to hunt for fat to pinch – yet eats chocolate and crisps almost every time he pulls into a garage for fuel – NOT FAIR.)

Back to body image, Lady Ga Ga recently made a stand against comments on her weight by posing semi-naked at all angles so people could judge for themselves (See Sun story …yes The Sun again!) Its sad that celebrity women feel the need to do this – damned if your thin and damned if your fat. The same is true walking along the street – women are their own worse critics. I would just like to say that this is getting fucking boring. If you are technically obese then yeah you may want to cut back on food for a while. If you get short of breath getting to the top of your stairs, then you might need to work out a little, but other than that JUST LET IT DROP…. ……. …. But in reality….

It is not possible for me to get up in the morning without checking my reflection (mainly my butt) to see if it has ‘grown’ a little overnight. How sad is that?

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