Friday, 26 June 2015

Just keep running...

Well, its been a few months since I finished the Couch to 5k plan and so I thought it was time for another update on how things are going.

Truthfully, although I'm still running, I've not been feeling the love for it the whole time.

The same routes, the same distance, three times a week - all a bit monotonous really.

I had been wondering how I was going to get out of this rut, push myself a little harder and further, but I didn't think I would be able to manage a greater distance than the 5k I had been used to.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I was going to push myself. The weather has been much better here and so the country lanes are no longer flooded and unusable.  I combined two of my usual 5k routes and thought that I'd see how far I could get (I had no idea how long the route was).  I could always end the run early and stick with the 5k distance if I was finding it tough.

So off I went, and I carried on, ignoring the timings and just concentrating on the running and being relaxed.  No pressure.

I passed the 5k mark and then 6k and before I knew it I was on the road back home and hitting 7k!

And it felt great.

My first 7k run!

My run didn't feel quite so boring and I wasn't tired or out of breath.  I could totally do this now.

No longer a 5k runner, now I was a 7k runner.

I was so keen to prove this that I ran the same route three times that week.

I was understandably exhausted by the weekend, but it has been a massive sense of achievement for me.

Can I run 10k by the end of the year I wonder?

I don't know, but it is something to aim for, isn't it?

In addition to that I've started to take some extra supplements recently.  Not related to running as such, but I was sent some Perfect 7 Woman supplements to try by the people at Seven Seas.

They claim to help skin and nails, hair (will they stop it turning grey, please?), energy, brain, vision, heart and hormonal activity.

I have no idea if they've helped in any of these areas yet, although my energy levels are better just recently, so who knows?  Despite the fact that I eat a varied diet already, it feels good to know that I've got all these areas covered anyway.

The Seven Seas online shop also stocks various supplements for Joint Care.  With the increased distances I've been running recently I have been considering taking something like this as I've had various issues with one knee or another following completion of Couch to 5k.

The twins have also been trying some Haliborange Mr Men and Little Miss Calcium and Vitamin D soft and chewy supplements.  Since they've started school I have no idea what they eat at lunchtimes anymore and so again this gives me some extra peace of mind.

Strong and Smiley

They are pretty happy about being given a chewy sweet before school too!

So there you have it!  Still running but running further and with a bit more energy to boot.

We were sent a selection of multivitamin supplements by Seven Seas but were under no obligation to write about them.  All words and opinions are our own.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Summer term, the home straight - a survival guide

So, half term's been and gone and we're in to the home straight of the school year - just four more weeks.  Which sounds straightforward enough, or is it?

Well, just when you think you've made it there comes the email reminder for three of the most time consuming Primary School based events of the year, which all happen to be in June and July.

If the run up to Christmas wasn't bad enough, what with all the nativity costumes and glittertastic homemade decorations, then this is somehow far worse because you cannot duck out of attending them (or else face your children's sad little faces). I know, I have tried.

1.  Sports Day
2.  The Summer Fair
3.  The End of Year Concert

If these three events in the school calendar are making you roll your eyes at the very thought, as they are me, then here are my tips* for making it through in one piece.

Sports Day

Things you will need for this:  Lots of cold drinks and a loud cheer.

Urgh... Just the very name makes me feel like rocking in a corner somewhere but I'm a mum now and this means only one thing.  I have to sit through every millisecond of bastard well sports day, or else face the wrath of my offspring who will hold it against me until they are in their forties (I know this because I still do this too...).


Don't they know that I'll miss Homes under the Hammer AND Judge Rinder?

I could pray for rain but usually this backfires and we end up with the hottest day of the year instead.

But timing is everything.  Ours is an all day extravaganza - also entitled The (School Name) Olympics - I thought the teachers were joking but no,  it lasts nearly as long and is probably as expensive, if the price of the PTA tea and coffee is anything to go by.

It turns out that while I stupidly did attend all day the first year (it is to be noted that I was also heavily pregnant with twins at the time and therefore slightly brain dead) there was no need - as long as your kids see you there at some point then mine at least seem quite happy with this.

If its warm go only to the outdoor events.  If you venture inside any primary school on a hot day, not only will there be too many people inside to actually see what is going on but you will not be able to breathe - do they suck all the air out of the school hall for maximum parental discomfort or something?

Ergo it stands to reason that if it is raining then I will only attend the indoor portion of the day, which is perfect as it is only about half an hour long...

The Summer Fair

Things you will need for this:  A painted on grin and a second mortgage.

I do not know anyone who, having baked cakes, filled sweet jars, donated tombola prizes and sold raffle tickets for the two weeks prior to this event, is happy about attending it.

From my point of view the £2 entry for adults and £1 for children relieves me of nearly a tenner before I've even seen the inner sanctum that is the school playground.

After that, its £1 for every ice cream, biscuit decorating, milkshake making stall and don't get me started on the charcoal coated burger offerings which have the price tag of a Five Guys.

My tip is to go early and beat the crowds.  Spend an hour doing whichever class stall your child's teacher is running, eat an ice cream and then leave.  Maximum visibility and minimum spend.

The End of Year Concert

Things you will need for this: A winnebago and a good singing voice.

What a joyous occasion the end of year concert is, honestly, I do love it.  I still get a lump in my throat every time I think about DS2 and his classmates singing "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles in Y1 - "do you know this one, Mummy?" *sniff*.  See, I'm not a completely harsh old cow.

What could be nicer than seeing your offspring performing a turn on stage in the open air (yes, ours is an outdoor affair with no ticket restrictions - #winning).  Its kind of like watching Glastonbury only without Jo Whiley and Mark Radcliffe interrupting all the time.  There are of course caveats to that, like the time that the PA system blew up just before it started, or when it went on for ages and we were so hungry we briefly considered ordering a Dominoes with extra hot wings to be delivered to the school gate.

Which brings me neatly on to the best thing about this particular event - you can bring a picnic.  And with that comes the greatest excuse ever for drinking on school premises - Gin in a tin and miniature bottles of Prosecco, because they are picnic components and for some reason this means they are not frowned upon at all.

But there are other things you still need to know too.  Namely, no matter how inviting those Robin Day designed classic school chairs look lined up in front of the stage area, only a fool will voluntarily sit upon one.  They are not conducive to comfort when enjoying one's self (and after several gins in a tin they are really slide-y).  What you need here is the comfy collapsible chair - Aldi Special Buy an advantage because you will only ever use them for this one event.  Alternatively, you could always take one of those fold up picnic tables with attached benches.  I once saw a family arrive with one of these, and listened as all the other mums and dads oohed and aahed at its genius.

Also think about seating arrangements - not right at the front of the stage, no, because remembering the lack of ticket restrictions, you will end up having to wait for everyone else behind you to move when the concert finally finishes (or trip over the tangle of plastic chairs and fancy picnic tables).  That could take hours, so you want to aim for a nice space at the back and to the side nearest the exit so you can pack up and disappear as soon as the head teacher has taken their last bow.

And every year when all of these events are over, I like to breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that there are six whole school event free weeks before the academic year starts again.

Which I suppose gives me plenty of time to get practising for next year.  All together now, "We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, yellow submarine...."

*  not really tips

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Home Made Play Dough

Not a recipe (I haven't completely taken leave of my senses), but a picture to illustrate what happens when your child's teacher decides that home made play dough is a far preferable activity to the usual biscuit baking, and then sends it home.


I'm of course linking this up with the fabulous and funny Em, over at Brummymummyof2 as I prepare to bring you some more pictures of family disasters over the ever-approaching summer holidays (which basically means I write even less than usual and stick the crappy shots from my phone on the blog while its the summer holidays - sorry about that.).


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Things I am thankful for

What things am I thankful for?

Sometimes it's the small things that pass you by, like finding the last chocolate biscuit at the bottom of the biscuit tin or being able to spend a sunny day in the back garden without interruption (rare in this house as it goes).

Then, there are bigger things.  Things which almost overwhelm you because you realise how grateful you are, and yet maybe you can't find a way to express it.

As some of my regular readers know already, our experience of parenthood hasn't always been a smooth one.  Our eldest child (the teen) was born with a congenital heart defect, which was only diagnosed when he was a month old.  I have written about that here on the blog before but despite this I still find the whole thing massively hard to talk about.

In addition to that, when our twins were born five years ago we discovered that DS3 (twin 2) also had a CHD.  Different to his eldest brother's condition, and not nearly as serious but it was a blow to us nonetheless.  Because of this I am always terribly nervous every time we have to visit Alder Hey for a check up with him.  His condition needs long term follow up to check that there are no changes.  If there are then it almost certainly means an overnight hospital stay and some form of operation.  Understandably we are keen to avoid this.

And so, back in February his annual check up rolled around again.

And despite my nervousness, it went very well.

But that's not the only thing I was thankful for.

For 15 years we have been going to that clinic every year.  For 15 years we have always seen the same consultant.  He has been there to guide us through some tough times as well as some good ones.

And now he has gone.  Onto bigger things, a change in direction for his career.

That appointment was the last one we will have with him.  15 years of putting our trust in one person, and now we start all over again.

While it is a little unsettling having to get used to a new consultant, who may have a different opinion or a different way of doing things, I am thankful that our boys were both able to have such a long period of care under one amazing doctor.  To have had the same point of contact and the same expert advice since they were both babies is something that we have maybe taken for granted at times, but it is a relatively rare thing to have.  I feel lucky that we have had that.

I am hopeful the boys' care will continue in the same vein with their new doctor.  We won't meet him until next year but he comes highly recommended.

When we do meet not only will the doctor be new, but the hospital too, as the new Alder Hey will have opened by then.  Which is another thing I am thankful for (lightheartedly) - exiting the old cramped car park for the very last time.  No longer will we have to trawl it for a parking space minutes before our appointment is due!

Exiting the car park for the very last time
(yes, I really did take a photo)

Count Your Lucky Stars
Little Hearts Big Love

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Beautiful Game

Ok, so exciting news in our house, the twins have started an after school club.  It's great.  An honour usually only reserved for the big kids, they are now allowed to spend an hour after school every Tuesday doing "Multiskills", which is a new way of saying extra P.E.

This week was their second week of going and, as they ran out to me in the playground afterwards, I noticed DS3 was clutching yet another letter from school.  "It's about football", "Can I go?  I am going to go", he said resolutely.  "OK, let me look when we get home, and we'll decide", I said (quietly wondering how much the school were planning to fleece me for now).

To my delight I discovered that this would be a free event Praise the Lord.  The caveat to that, it was for BOYS ONLY.

As I read the letter and the words slipped out of my mouth DD2 yelled "What?  Girls can do football!"

She has a point there.

In fact, she is quite good at kicking a football.  Better than her twin.

So, Everton FC, what the hell are you playing at?

You have a Women's team, they are good from what I've heard, and yet, no similar events are being held for young girls to be scouted for your football academy.

In a time where we are being told that #thisgirlcan and Women's football is featuring in regular programming on the television and even has its own league tables you are sending a message to girls everywhere that they are not really welcome unless they are on the sidelines watching their brothers.

Women's football has gained popularity lately, but matches are still no where near as well attended as Men's football is.  Do you know why?  Perhaps it's because youngsters like my daughter and her female classmates are simply not included at your events.  They are not equal.  These children are only five years old.  This age is where their interest in football should start, not where it should stop.

I have wrongly assumed that "fun" events like the one you have organised would be open to every child.  Maybe if they were, more girls would be encouraged to try out football as a sport.  Maybe they would enjoy it and maybe you would also spot some genuine talent?

Look at your own website here:

Sons only *sigh*

It seems that your message is clear.  So why bother even having a Women's team then?

I am a mum of girl/boy twins.

They do everything together.  But it seems that they can't do this.  

Not because one of them is unable to play football but because one of them happens to be a girl.

I am exasperated I'll admit, but have you ever tried reasoning this argument with a five year old?  I have and it isn't easy.

Football may be the beautiful game, loved by many, but it sure as anything isn't an inclusive game at Everton FC.

Needless to say if one of my children isn't welcome at your event then neither of them will be attending.

Nil satis nisi optimum - nothing but the best is good enough.  Just as long as the best happens to have a penis, eh?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

It's Hot, Hot, Hot! - a pre and post children guide

So, the weather is finally getting better.  You may even be starting to call it summertime.  On the television yesterday there was talk of a heatwave over the weekend, although they were probably referring to London, after all, the rest of the country doesn't even feature on daytime TV.  Up here in the North West this forecast means a balmy temperature of 18 or 19 degrees and my mother constantly comparing it to the summer of '76, (which I can't remember as I was only two and we lived in Scotland at the time so it was more than likely a perfectly acceptable temperature for that time of year anyway). Still, we mustn't grumble. Instead, let's get prepared for the sunshine with my handy comparison/guide to dealing with the increase in temperature, pre and post children.


Pre Children:  Oooh, it's summer!  Let's go shopping and spend half a month's salary on new clothes, bikinis and sandals - you're going to need them, not only for the warm weather in this country but also for the amazing holiday you've booked yourself abroad later on in the year (off peak and cheap!).

Post Children:  Oh, bugger.  The weather's getting warmer.  Blow half a (pre-baby salary) month's wages on your credit card in Baby Gap and M&S Children's Wear so that the kids looks their best/are on trend/have a different outfit every day for a week.  Spend more money that you don't really have on pointless essentials they'll never wear like Baby Banz sunglasses (with matching train shaped case and hat) and Clarks Doodles with a cute pattern on.  Does their swimming costume still fit?  Do they even need swimming costumes?  When you are not going on holiday ever again this year?  Really?

Sun Protection 

Pre Children:  Perusing the shelves at Boots you ponder the wide selection of expensive sun oils that promise sun kissed golden brown skin.  Choose one (you don't even look at the price) and buy it.

Post Children:  How high a factor sun cream is it possible to buy?  Is there one that ensures milk white skin in temperatures higher than the legendary summer of '76?  Good.  Buy that one, never mind the fact that it's thicker than cream cheese and a b**stard to apply (if your children will stand still long enough, that is), as long as it's less than a tenner.  Buy several more for all the childcare establishments that require labelled bottles for each child.  Don't bother with anything for yourself. Nobody will care if you are sunburnt or not - not even you. You probably won't be in the sun long enough anyway.

Leisure activities

Pre Children:  It's Saturday.  Grab a sun lounger, put on your new bikini and get out into the sunshine so that you can start off your tan.  Spend the whole day there.  Have lunch in the garden, have a bottle glass of wine.  You can put it right next to the sun lounger, on the ground.  Safely.

Post Children:  A day out at an overpriced theme park or a day spent in the back garden with the sprinkler on for the children to run in and out of? (Channelling your own childhood here). Get DH to mow the grass, he might even put the paddling pool up, if bribed with a cold beer.  Yeah!  This will be great!  Spend most of the afternoon breaking up fights over the paddling pool and who splashed who, or picking grass cuttings from your saturated lawn off the wet feet of the smalls because they "don't like it mummy!".

The theme park option might have been better, only at least when you are at home there is wine...

DON'T put your glass of wine down anywhere - no matter how safe you think it is a child will knock it over and smash it with a football.

On the plus side, rejoice in the amount of laundry you'll be able to get washed and dry on the line in less than a day!  #winning


Pre Children:  there's nothing much in the fridge but that doesn't matter because you aren't really very hungry anyway.  Maybe you'll make yourself a sandwich later.  In the meanwhile open another bottle of wine.

Post Children:  everyone is hungry.  They want a barbecue.  This involves 27 trips to the supermarket for the right type of sausages, burgers, buns (with involves an actual bun fight with another barbecue crazed mum), relishes and seven types of salad that nobody will eat.  You are required to cook it all and then do the washing up while they all continue to have fun outside.  Unlike the pre-child you, your freezer will be fully stocked, if by fully stocked you mean eight boxes of Iceland's finest pretend Cornettos (six for 89p, by the way, what's not to like?) and Magnums.  Ice cream and children go hand in hand to the point where you are bulk buying ice pops and rocket lollies at the mearest sniff of a warm breeze creeping accross from the Mediterranean Sea.

Dealing with the hot summer nights

Pre Children:  Stay outside in your garden until late.  Very, very late.  With wine.  You can even invite other adults to share in the late night garden wine drinking perfection.  After that, go to bed, with the windows open.  In the nude.  Sleep well.  Wake up refreshed the following day.

Post Children:  Don't drink wine in the garden.  You'll need to stay inside the house in the hot oppressive temperatures to attend to your children who will all find every excuse in the world available not to go to sleep.  "I need a drink". "It's too hot to sleep".  Open the windows to lower the temperature and they'll want them shut "in case of burglars". Don't go to bed naked because you need to get up in the night to get "more water, please" because it's too hot...

Be hot, be tired, have the worst nights sleep ever.

Ah, the summertime, don't you just love it?  

Pass me that box of Magnums and the Factor 50, I'm off to do the washing... *sigh* ;)
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