Parenting, profundities and humour

Round and Round — June 10, 2016

Round and Round


(For the avoidance of doubt this entry is not a homage to Spandau Ballet. Although I do love Spandau. So if that is what you are after jog on.)

So I may have mentioned before that my daughter is sporty. That is a massive understatement to be honest. She loves football and hockey and netball and running. She is quite good at swimming and apparently cricket. But currently we are in the rounders season at school.

Rounders is not her favourite. She is a good catch and has a huge throw. She can also run like the wind and so fields deep. But her batting is a bit hit and miss, often miss. I sympathise. At school I was not great at batting. And I couldn’t catch or throw either. Or run.

This year I managed to miss the annual ritual humiliation that is the Cub Scout Family Rounders Evening. I can’t remember why. Some fortuitous Governing Body meeting or ferrying task.

And so I didn’t have to go through those few seconds standing in front of a bowler wondering how not to make a fool of myself. Watching as hairy men slog the ball 100 meters into the bushes. And trying to field on the right of the batter to avoid having to make a crucial throw or, shudder, catch. Result.

Of course nothing is ever that simple. Just as I was basking in this narrow escape an e mail came through from school advertising Women in Sport Week. The Sports’ Department had decided to host a number of events for mums to attend. And one of those was a Year 4 Mums and Daughters Rounder’s match.

Of course there was no way Youngest was going to let me get out of this one. The temptation to humiliate her mother was too strong. A fortuitous emergency Governing Body meeting failed to materialise. And so today I rolled up at school to face the bowler. The fact that the bowler was only 3 feet tall should have made me feel better. It didn’t.

In anticipation of this event Youngest and I had been up the field with our rubberised baseball bat and a tennis ball to have a practice. We were both quite good at it, slogging them into the undergrowth. She reminded me that a rounder’s bat is much smaller and a rounder’s ball much harder and again smaller. Cheers love.

On holiday in Devon I roped everyone in to a match on the beach. With the aforementioned baseball bat and tennis ball. It went quite well until husband managed to hit a strolling man in the nadgers with a well placed slog. He was carrying a bucket of water at the time (the strolling man not my husband, although it might have been a good idea to handicap him in such a way before letting him loose with a bat) which cascaded all down his front. Woops.

So we had got a bit of practice in. I still wasn’t confident. That wasn’t helped by Youngest repeating repeatedly that her team were going to ‘thrash’ us. Competitive much?

Have you ever been ten pin bowling? I know this seems a bit off piste but bear with, bear with. I used to go quite a lot as a student. And here is the thing. Some games I could get strike after strike after strike. And some games I struggled to get above fifty pins. Often such games would be in the same session consecutively. And I have no idea why.

Well clearly rounders is like that for me too. Today after an entire life of never hitting a rounders ball I managed to score two and a half rounders off 3 balls. Astounding. I did run Youngest out whilst achieving the half. Woops. But it was a genuine mistake.

The mums were beaten 6 to 5 but for a bunch of ladies who haven’t played for twenty to thirty years (some of them are disgustingly young) we did OK. In the mixed teams Youngest and I also lost out again but only by the one rounder.

So credit due I think. Of course the only thing Youngest focussed on was me running her out. Not on my 2 and a half rounders. Which nearly killed me. The pitch is bigger than it looks.

I tried to explain to the offspring that in the scheme of things this feels like a major achievement to me. And perhaps with a bit of practise I might have been better as a child. Although it was probably just a ‘ten pin bowling’ moment.

Let’s hope the fixture doesn’t get repeated next year. People will expect things. Which is gently worrying.

And I already ache.




Health Kick — May 26, 2016

Health Kick


So you may remember a while back I mentioned the snugness of my black choir concert trousers and my desire to shed a few pounds. Well since then  I have been on a bit of a health drive.

To start with I base-lined myself using my Fitbit which you may recall was purchased by my husband for my birthday in January. Quite pleasingly I was usually able to hit the government recommended guidelines of ten thousand steps a day quite easily.

Although the more I thought about it the more depressing that fact became. The snugness of my concert trousers had occurred, therefore, despite my hitting this step goal, albeit unknown to me, and as such it was clear the number of steps in question was not sufficient to allow for the amount of Doritos in my diet.

Thus I was faced with two options. One, cut out the Doritos or, two, up my exercise game. Doritos are a non negotiable. I am not bothered what flavour. Plain, chilli heat wave, barbecue…..hmmm…barbecue…. So suffice to say only option two appealed. I use the word ‘appealed’ here advisedly.

A friend and I started a weekly exercise class. Once I got over the shock of turning up to our first session and being made to exercise outside I got into it. It is mainly strength based though and I felt a bit of sweat may be in order.

So I girded my loins and dusted off my Jillian Michaels DVDs. I had a fairly prolonged flirtation with Jillian about five years ago when I had finally packed Youngest off to school and decided I needed to get to grips with myself. A bit like now. But without the concert trouser snugness.

At that time Jillian was a presenter on one of my favourite shows; Biggest Loser USA. Well when I say presenter what I actually mean is torturer. I am sure you know the concept. A group of seriously large, in a way that really only Americans seem to be able to achieve, people go to a ‘camp’ to lose drastic amounts of weight. A lot of it is diet, no Doritos in sight, but another large part is the exercise regime put together by the competing team leaders. Of which Jillian was my favourite. The exercise regime is brutal. It consists of lots of shouting, bullying, sweating, collapsing and quite often vomiting.

Quite why, then, I thought buying her home DVDs was a good idea is slightly beyond me.

At the time there were many threads on Mumsnet about her 30 Day Shred DVD. See even the name is scary. The upsides. Each session is only 20 minutes long. That is the main selling point. It is apparently easy to fit in to your day. Of course in reality it isn’t really 20 minutes long. Once you have rearranged the lounge, extracted your trainers from the kids dressing up box, discovered the cans of beans you were going to use as weights have been eaten, warmed up, cooled down and showered. But still shorter than the average DVD.

Another upside. It seemed to work if the mums on Mumsnet were anything to go by.  Some had even posted headless ‘before and after’ selfies. They were probably following the specially designed diet plan as well though. I took a cursory glance at that part of the DVD. There was no mention of Doritos so I decided it wasn’t for me.

The downsides. You need to do it at least 5 days out of seven. Great the weekend off.

So it seemed perfect. I removed the complete works of Trumpton from the DVD player and inserted the disc.

Clearly I had expected pain. And possibly vomiting. But I knew things were going to be bad when there were jumping jacks in the warm up. To me a jumping jack is a cardio move and has no place in a warm up. The other thing a jumping jack is is a strain on my pelvic floor. I need a warning before attempting jumping jacks. To clench.

Warm up accomplished I staggered through the rest of Level 1. Jillian introduced me to muscles I never knew I had and not really in a good way.

By the end of the (27 minute) session I was a spent, red faced, gibbering wreck. With only one thing on my mind. That I would have to do it all over again the next day.

The next day dawned and I could not move. Seriously. My children learnt some new words as I attempted to get downstairs, sit, put on my socks, etc.

I returned to Mumsnet and sure enough the threads contained many, many references to being unable to walk for a week. How had I missed that? The cure? To keep going.

So I struggled slightly less enthusiastically through day 2. Trying not to ‘phone it in’ or ‘cheat myself’ and ‘remembering all the reasons you bought this DVD’. The reason I bought this DVD was because of some loons on a parenting forum. And because I was wearing my ‘bad news’ filtering goggles.

I grew to love and loath Jillian. I finished the Shred and progressed to other scary sounding DVDs such as Ripped in 30 (!), Killer Buns and Thighs and, my personal bete noir, Banish Fat Boost Metabolism. Which is basically an hour of being so out of breath you feel like your lungs are coming up through your throat. In fact at one point the lovely Jillian even says ‘I want you gargling your own heart by the time this work out is over’. She isn’t joking.

Anyway I stuck at it for quite a while. And then I stopped. I am not sure why. Probably the long summer holidays.  The children find me doing exercise hysterical. I find their hysteria contagious. And I find it hard to laugh, clench and do jumping jacks all at the same time. Stopping, however, is a very bad idea as when you start up again the aches come back. Big time.

The other reason I stopped was that I  got slightly disheartened by all the uber mums on Mumsnet upping the anti and doing more than one DVD session back to back or pressing 8kgs. I don’t even possess 8kg weights. I can’t even begin to contemplate pressing them. My shoulders would literally seize up. My weights are a set of 1, 2 and 3s and the 3s are permanently used as bookends. It put me off to be honest.

So anyway 5 years on and it is still as horrible. I still don’t need the 3kgs. Which is a good job, tidy bookshelf wise. I ached for the customary week. I am on Level 3 currently which seems to be designed to make me swear out loud at the television. Between gasping for air like a drowning fish. Each session nets me a disappointingly low amount of steps on my Fitbit which seem totally out of proportion to the level of effort required. A gentle stroll to Budgens to buy Doritos is ‘worth’ so much more…

And of course I haven’t lost any weight. I like to kid myself it is because muscle weighs more than fat. But really it is because I get so hungry after shouting at Jillian that I eat more Doritos. But my thighs are more toned and I feel better about myself. And I get to tick it off my to do list. Always a bonus.

Soon it will be half term and I will stop to avoid being the butt of pre teenage jokes, which are never funny. And then I will have to go through that week long pain again. The burning question is whether I will be bothered.

A Weighty Issue — March 8, 2016

A Weighty Issue


So last evening I sang with my choir in a Music Festival. I may have mentioned that before. I joined the choir about 5 years ago and in the run up to our first concert had to find an all black outfit.

I may have also mentioned before that I wear jeans. All the time. And not black ones at that. And so I made an emergency dash to Primarni and purchased a pair of black trousers with an elasticated waist and a black fitted T shirt. For about ten quid. Thinking that they would do ‘pro tem’. I ignored the little voice in my head mithering about child labour. And the elasticated waist.

Of course in every concert since I have reached in my wardrobe for that exact same outfit. Pro tem, it seems, is at least 5 years.

Anyhoo. Last night I pulled on the trousers and was slightly disconcerted to find that they were…a little snug.

So there we have it. There has been creep. A depositing of extra pounds around my, how can I put this politely, arse. OK so not very polite, but then I don’t feel very polite about it.

I don’t weigh myself. For a few reasons. Firstly because the batteries in my fancy fat percentage weighing scales are dead. (Don’t use in socks. It gets all confused and throws a hissy fit). And I keep forgetting to replace them. And by now a combination of the steam from the shower and leaving dead batteries in there for over a year has probably knackered them beyond all repair. Which begs the question why am I still dusting them every week? (OK, OK, every month…ish…).

I also don’t weigh myself as I do not want to obsess about my weight and transfer any eating issues to my kids. Who are already bombarded with enough ‘healthy living’ advice at school to be sufficiently paranoid that Eldest has designed his own sit up and press up routine.

But if I am brutally honest I don’t weigh myself because it is better not to know. There I said it. Ignorance is bliss. Was.

But now I have failed the ‘concert trousers’ test. And have until May to do something about it. I really don’t want to admit defeat and have to go back to Primarni and buy elasticated trousers in a (whispers) bigger size.

So this is my plan of action.

Stop buying large packets of Doritos in my Friday on line shop. I buy them to accompany our weekend salad lunches. But I have noticed a tendency between hubby and I to ‘forget’ to serve them to the kids at lunch. So we can then eat them ‘a deux’ on the sofa in the evening in front of The Night Manager.

Crisps are really my downfall. It is a well known fact amongst my inner circle. In fact so much so that on my birthday some dear friends bought me some individual sized packets of Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips. A catering sized box full. From a wholesaler. Hmmm they probably haven’t helped. Much.

Start dusting those weighing scales more often. Obviously I don’t just mean the scales but dusting and other such pursuits more generally. Housework is a great calorie burner. Although tedious as hell. But cheaper than a gym membership. And with pleasant side effects. However temporary.

Eat less biscuits. This is tricky. My afternoon pleasure is a cuppa and a couple of biscuits (unless I am still wading through a catering sized box of salty delights, oh, OK often as well as…). You know to reward myself for not dusting. Somehow a cuppa alone isn’t quite the ticket. I could chow down on carrot sticks and a cuppa. I suppose. Sigh. It doesn’t help that my children (well actually my husband) bought me two packets of luxury biscuits for Mother’s Day yesterday. So now I am in that quandary. Eat them gradually over the course of a few weeks risking staleness and poundage creep or eat them all in one sitting and ‘get them over with’? I suppose in the latter case I could just counter-act the huge calorie in take with extra (shudders) dusting.

Walk more. The weather is improving. Finally. That yellow thing in the sky has actually come back. So although it is cold still at least I feel like venturing out. And so I need to do so. And not sit on the sofa watching re runs of Friends…sorry I mean dusting.

Eat less cheese. And pork pie. Bigger sigh. I have finally finished the Christmas cheese so that will help. Pork pie is a different issue. I clearly have none left over from Christmas. That would be insane. But a medium Melton Mowbray does come up in the top ten of my ‘Favourite’ items on my Sainsbury’s on line ordering system. Says it all really. May be I should deliberately run out of Branston pickle. Rendering the pie unappetising. But that would incur the wrath of Youngest. Who is pickle mad. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Keep going to my exercise class once a week. Which is fun. And not reward myself afterwards with an extra cuppa and couple of biscuits. Bad mummy….

That is it really. I don’t want to lose a lot of weight. Just a ‘couple’ of pounds. Or so. Obviously I don’t actually know how many I want to lose as I can’t weigh myself. But I am guessing seven will do it. By May. Do-able. I hope.

Wish me luck.



You Fit Bit You — January 20, 2016

You Fit Bit You


So last week I turned 46. Oh my actual god.

In a bid to make me feel better Middlest pointed out that I was probably only half way through. Life I think he meant.  If I am honest that depressed me even more. I pointed out back that the first ‘half’ is probably better than the second. All things considered. Even if I live as long as 92.

Of course my children maintain that being a kid is just dreadful. All of us who are no longer kids know this to be a falsehood. How many of us wouldn’t go back in an instant now that we can see how little fun being a grown up actually is versus our perception of it when we were ten.

Once I get my reluctant children to bed of an evening they imagine me up to all sorts of fun. I don’t believe they consider emptying the dishwasher fun. And so, like me, they are going to be sorely disappointed by adulthood.

Anyhow. I have long since stopped ‘celebrating’ birthdays. I am at that difficult age. I no longer look forward to a new year in the manner of a ten year old. And I have not achieved an age where I am to be congratulated on ‘getting this far’. I imagine I will like birthdays again when I have reached 92. They will be an accomplishment. Rather than just a grim reminder of another year passed by.

Even so my husband made an effort present wise. Thanks hun.

At some point I must have mentioned my desire for a fit bit. Probably not to him. Well maybe by accident in a kind of involuntary way when watching TV of a Sunday evening. I was ,of course, thinking of Poldark. With or without a scythe. Or clothes. Not fussed really. (And no I care not that they used make up to accentuate his assets. Really people (and by ‘people’ I mean middle aged men) who are you kidding? To accentuate assets assets are needed in the first place. And plenty of those were on offer in those Cornish fields). Or at a push Benedict Cumberbatch. Sans deerstalker. Or that guy who has played a gay Renaissance painter and now some Russian aristocrat on War and Peace. Brooding either way…

Anyway whatever. What I actually got was a small black piece of plastic and a pink wrist band. It was then I fully grasped the importance of punctuation. He had bought me a fitbit. Note no space.

Well anyway nice thought. Although with worrying under tones. Maybe he was wishing I had better assets. For the accentuation of. No amount of make up, or stepping, is going to help there matey. Myopia will though. Eventually.

In case you live on Mars here is a synopsis of the fitbit. You wear the pink (I don’t think it has to be pink by the way) wrist band after charging and inserting the piece of black plastic. It then tells you how many steps you take in a day. That is it in a nutshell. Mine also tells you if you sleep well or not. And you can set yourself goals. And talk to other fitbitted people. And even challenge them. To duels of step walking.

I have worn mine since half way through Sunday.

Here are my observations to date.

It is remarkably easy to clock up the recommended 10,000 steps per day. Either it massively over estimates mine. Or some people are seriously lazy. My average count by 9am is 3k. That is just morning routine stuff. With three kids. And laundry.

It is making me more likely to do housework. In fact cleaning is starting to become attractive. Very worryingly.

Never, ever, ever accept a Daily Challenge. The person asking you to join their Challenge already has at least 20 thousand steps planned for their day. You cannot hope to compete. Especially when waiting in for a sofa delivery.

People who walk weirdly on the spot are wearing a fitbit. And partaking of a daily challenge set by someone doing a half marathon.

The app in my I pad does not register steps that I do whilst carrying the I pad. And yes I have checked. And so now I know what one circuit of my kitchen diner is. Step wise. With or without I pad. Without about 23. With zero. Odd time/ space dimension stuff happening there.

I now try not to move at all in the shower. The fitbit is not water proof and so I have to remove it. I do not want to waste precious steps abluting.

I have no idea when to charge it. Perhaps when I am in the shower? I will have to sacrifice all those lovely statistics about my sleep in order to ensure I do not run out of juice mid step count. Would anything be worse? If only the provided charger was not three inches long I could plug myself in as I sleep. But it is. Three inches long.

And ah the statistics. As you may know I love statistics. Even if they are damn lies. As soon as this is published I will be pouring over bar charts and maps cooing over the geographical spread of my readership. And so the fitbit adds another statistical frisson to my day. Lovely.

Interestingly my increased level of senior moments are increasing my steps. Which will hopefully reduce the incidence of my senior moments. Exercise supposedly being good for mental agility. But then that will reduce my steps. Cool circular argument. I must have burned 500 of the buggers scouring my house last night for that three inch charger. I didn’t find it. Until this morning. When the replacing fairy had put it on the dining table. Weird.

And so there you have it. I like it. Not sure I will get much fitter. But it is enlightening. Being a ‘stay at home’ mum is not sedentary. Nice.




Stuff what I have learnt today — October 8, 2015

Stuff what I have learnt today


So here goes. Some random stuff I have discovered today.

  • It is possible to drive to my kids’ school and back in under 15 minutes when on a games kit/ cello induced mercy dash.
  • If you turn up 15 minutes late to an exercise class you just miss the boring warm up and only semi important station explanation. Although I may discover tomorrow how vital that warm up is.
  • Deleting about 18 months worth of text messages will turn your phone back into a relatively responsive tool.
  • The shops are no longer full of orange hued home accessories now I have decided that orange is to be the accent colour for our newly decorated lounge.
  • It is apparently Christmas already.
  • Allowing the kids off music practice in the morning so they can get more sleep after a school induced late night will see us all falling out.
  • It is quite pleasant to write blogs in Costa.
  • Belgian chocolate tea cakes make that even pleasanterer.
  • My phone’s predictive text will predict good when I want home and home when I want good. Which makes that sentence really hard to get right.
  • One should keep an eye on boiling potatoes rather than ignoring them to write.
  • It is best to wait for the ceramic hob to cool down before clearing up boiled over water. Unless you like the smell of burnt J cloth.
  • Allowing Eldest to have a phone not only heads off games kit/ cello induced emergencies but also allows him to text me cute messages which make me feel better about the tiredness induced morning arguments.
  • I enjoy employing deliberate grammatical errors in my writing. Not sure why. Probably so I can claim any actual errors are supposed to be there. And to annoy pedants.
  • My reverse parking sensors are wildly over cautious. And I actually need gate post sensors.
  • Asking Middlest to be quick out of school will make us late for football training.
  • People are still wearing leggings that are see through enough to be correctly categorised as tights.
  • It is impossible to watch the final of the Bake Off a day late and not discover who the winner is during that day. And I don’t mind that much.
  • As much as I love Billy Joel he doesn’t cut it driving music wise. And I still prefer soft rock.
  • If I would like Youngest to practise her times tables I must threaten the removal of football training.
  • I can’t do bullets on my phone and will have to add them at home later before the scheduled publishing time. Home more to do at good I mean good more to do at home.
  • We can still name all the characters on In the Night Garden. And Makka Pakka is still our favourite. Isn’t that a pip?
  • I still don’t know when to use practice and when to use practise. So I looked it up. C for noun, s for verb. So I need to practise and get some practice in.
  • I care about accent colours.
  • That last discovery worries me most.

So there you have it. Just a normal day. One is always learning.
If you are my husband then obviously the Costa is not part of my normal day. Honest gov.

No Pain No Gain — September 20, 2015

No Pain No Gain


On Thursday I went to an exercise class.

My good friend had hunted high and low for a class we could attend together. It isn’t easy. All evenings are basically a no go. We can’t go too near school pick up or on Saturdays.

We don’t really want to commit to a gym and then never make it to any classes. The gym itself holds no appeal. We are not tread-millers or weight lifters.

After searching diligently she finally found a class on a Thursday morning called Sculpt Mix.

To my mind that sounded promising. The word Sculpt held great connotations. Mix sounded as if it wouldn’t get dull.

So last week we turned up on a bright autumnal morning. Once I had got over the shock of being told we were going to do the class outside- in full view of the wet suited men using the water skiing lake, and amongst the duck and rabbit poo- the actual class was OK. It was quite fun. Once I stopped trying to compete with the pregnant lady who was out squatting me despite her large bump. In fact I made quite a play of my lack of any form of exercise over the last six months.

The instructor, very annoyingly svelte despite having two kids much younger than mine, did warn us that we would ache. And she wasn’t wrong. My quads were on fire until at least Sunday evening.

Of course this week rolled around and, in the manner of childbirth and house moving, I had conveniently forgotten the pain.

This week I began aching during circuit 4.

I didn’t think it was going to be as bad as last week so I decided to spend quite a bit of Friday gardening. And it wasn’t ‘pottering around with a small fork and deadheading’ type gardening it was ‘digging away at the largest, deepest rooted weeds ever seen’ gardening. The sort that spending exactly zero time since May out there engenders.

And today I literally cannot move. Changing level is agony. I am thinking twice, possible three times, before bending over. This makes laundry quite hard. And going for a wee. And don’t get me started on stair climbing. I had to crawl up here earlier.

Nurofen is not helping at all.

Somewhere inside me a few muscles are more sculpted than before. They are not visible yet. I am probably at least 5 pounds and a year of classes away from that.

I have signed up for two more sessions. And then half term hits and I will have two weeks off.

Goodness knows how it will go when I return. At least the pregnant lady will have had to leave. To actually give birth. She will probably be back a couple of weeks later.

I don’t think exercise is good for me. Not really.

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