Coughs & sneezes spread diseases

The village has the flu, my neighbours either side have it, the lady I work with has it – most people I know have had it. So when tonight I started to feel a twinge in my throat and a sniffin my nose I reached for the Lemsip.

I have a friend in the village who teaches Tai Chi and believes in nature as medicine. She has just recovered from a chest infection by ‘tuning into nature’. I love all that hippy stuff and drink it in. Its like a scene out of Avatar, just grabbing your tail and plugging in and everything is good. But, like Father Christmas, you have to really believe in it for it to work.

But my friend was glowing with health when she was talking about how she conquered illnesses through meditation and ‘tuning in’ – brilliant!

This admiration for all things natural does not stop me from reaching for man-made drugs at the first sign of weakness. I’m a Mum so ‘I dont have time to bleed’. I am more like a bug shield, absorb the virus, act as a host but dont pass it on. I have successfully done this with tummy bugs but they only last 24 hours.

A friend in her eighties though has been ill with the flu since Boxing Day despite having had the flu vaccination and she hasnt been out of bed since.

Health is like fitness, you take it for granted until you lose it, then life is suddenly a lot harder.

This blog is for Unicef.

Atchoo!

Thanks for reading.

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Pinch, punch, sneeze, puke

Its the first of September baby boy woke up and promptly vomited and my daughter started sneezing. Then it rained. On the plus side I discovered I had £48 in Tesco clubcard points and that, even better, this week was the final week where you could double your points value to pay for products. So my daughter and I commenced some online shopping. I tried to stay away from the shoe department but am afraid it sucked me in. At least it will come up on the statement as a supermarket so I could get away with saying it was groceries…..if we starved for a week.

But today, on a serious note, we found out my husband’s cousin (who we spend more time with than his sisters) has breast cancer and is due to have an operation on Friday to have the tumour removed. She lost her mother to cancer so although she is being incredibly brave she must be very scared.

I have tried to call her and left a message to say I wanted to speak to her when it suited her. For some reason it is difficult to talk about cancer, but so many people dance with etiquette that they skirt round the subject. I want to send her a card with the Scarlet Pimpernel flower that she picked and pressed for us on holiday. I am also making a very complicated loom flower – anything to make me feel like I am doing something to help and support. Powerlessness is the worst feeling.

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.

 

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…..to fade with time.

I am blogging for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

 

Testy tummies

Having quit sugar now for 8 weeks, i am starting to notice there are severe consequences if i deviate.

The other night i mentioned i had invited some friends round and ate more than i should in crisps and dips. While i didnt eat anything sweet, i probably ate more than my usual intake in sugar – I was as sick as a dog later.

My baby boy was then ill a few days later, so then i thought it must have been a bug.

Not so.

Yesterday I succumbed to  a small slice of my brother-in-laws cake. I felt so bloated afterwards i wanted my stomach to be pumped. This feeling continued through the night, into this morning and hampered my appetite for the rest of the day, making me feel slightly nauseous…….and that was one slice of cake.

After these two major occurrences, i then thought back to other occasions recently when my stomach felt uncomfortable and i have felt nauseous – like the time i sucked on some dark chocolate when it was time of the month.

This quit extreme reaction to sugary foods, after having cut it out for a while, surprises me. But when you think about how careful you have to be to alter the diets of horses and dogs (to avoid problems such as colic), it is no wonder that i have been feeling iffy.

Just like the IQS diet, i read an article in RED Magazine about Ella Woodward, whose reaction to drinking alcohol and consuming copious amounts of sugar while a university student, led to her being diagnosed with PoTS – postural tachycardia syndrome – a rare condition that affects the nervous system, causing nausea, exhaustion, dizziness and weakness. Now, like IQS, she has a diet of raw vegetables and unprocessed food and lots of green smoothies. Interesting recipes include sweet potato brownies and courgette noodles using a spiraliser gadget that you can pick up for £30 on amazon. For inspiration check out deliciouslyella.co.uk.

I’m feeling better already.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

 

Taking candy from a baby is as easy as taking candy from a baby

So far so good with quitting sugar for life. I am in my third week and have been impressed with my resistance fending off cheesecakes, cadbury’s chocolate and iced buns without a backward glance. In her book, Sarah Wilson states that as you cleanse and r-train your palate the urges for sugar lessen. For me this has extended to even avoiding a little bit of honey during ‘time of the month’. I am doing so well on this diet that I fear even a little taste of sweetness is going to set-off all the cravings again. In many ways it is like nicotine addiction (I gave that up about 5 years ago and have certainly never looked back).

My children too are benefitting from this and I have noticed this crazy thing that has happened….if you don’t put sugary snacks in their lunch box they don’t ask for them. Instead I have been putting in far healthier ‘sweeter’ snacks such as pure fruit and fruit based snack bars (which do have a sugar content but nowhere near as bad as a biscuit or a cake) and i haven’t heard one complaint. I keep waiting for the moaning to start and it doesnt happen. I have given them ice-cream for pudding occasionally and I don’t prevent them from eating chocolate if it is given to them but i am now resisting the urge to give them a sugary treat favouring the far healthier alternatives – i just  didn’t believe it would be so easy. It just goes to show how much,  as parents, we unwittingly guide our children down the same nutritional path as we follow as well as the eating habits. If your child sees you comfort eat, chances are they will become a comfort-eater too. Just like so many things in life it is lead by example.

One big change I have noticed in my fridge since beginning the no sugar campaign is the lack of yoghurt and juice. I was astonished when I glanced at the nutritional content of a low fat yoghurt and saw the amount of sugar contained in one pot. Yoghurts are now in my’ do not buy’ category and I avoid them like the plague. Once again I feared my children’s reaction to no yoghurt on the menu but was surprised to find they didn’t even miss it let alone ask for it.

This goes to show that Western children are not really that fussy about eating. As long as they have a healthy appetite (ie not fed crap every 5 minutes to the extent that they never feel hungry enough to eat a proper meal), then kids will eat most food offered to them when given a steer as to the right foods to eat by the family (home cooked meal versus mcdonalds).

Check out some good recipes on www.iquitsugar.com

This blog is 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.