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I’m moving…

I’ve realised that staring at the words ‘sanity challenged mum’ every time I try and type is not making me feel good.

I have started a new blog called braindribbles.  You can catch up with me there.

Temper, testosterone…

We have a lovely seven-year-old boy. He is generous-hearted, not too boisterous and has a strong sense of right and wrong.

Well, a strong sense of what he thinks is right and wrong, anyway.

Sometimes he suffers a disappointment, and especially when he’s tired, this can lead to a spike in his temper.  Generally a gentle soul, I have seen him kick his younger sister just because she happened to be there, even hit the seven-month-old baby because he feels wronged.

Once upon a time I read a book called Raising Boys, I think it was by Steve Biddulph?  Please correct me if I am wrong.  Anyhow, it talks about these periods in a boy’s life where his testosterone will spike.  I seem to remember one was at age 4 and the next was between 6 and 7.  And we all know about the one at puberty.

So, how do you get them to control this sudden violent urge?  We are trying to be understanding, but not hesitating to come down on him like a ton of bricks discipline-wise if he gets violent.  And I’m hesitant to say it, but if he hits the baby he gets a big smack as well.

What works?  What doesn’t work?  Of course, as parents, the only way we know if we’re successful in our parenting is 10-15 years down the line (and even then sometimes it’s just down to luck and the combination of your personalities).   There just aren’t any obvious answers are there?

So, have I been successful?

On and off, I’d say.

Last night we went to Harry Potter, getting back after 11pm, and I just couldn’t get to sleep till past 1am anyway…  Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

I have realised, though, that knowing I only have myself to blame when I’m late to bed does give me more of a ‘get on with it’ attitude the next day.  I no longer mope around feeling sorry for myself.  I get on with what I need to do, and if I get the opportunity to catch up on some sleep (unlikely) I do; if that’s not possible I do a relaxation.

The main thing is not being grumpy.

And trying to get a good nights sleep as often as I can!  On that note (it’s just coming up to 10pm), I bid you adieu…

The smell of Christmas…

You walk into someone’s house at Christmastime, and with any luck you are bombarded with a series of Christmassy smells.

Imagine as you enter, you sniff something cooking in the kitchen, hopefully with cinnamon and other seasonal spices, a green pine smell from the Christmas tree, the fire burning…

Smells can make Christmas come alive, and conversely the lack of them can deaden the spirit of Christmas – now imagine you walk into an identical house with no smell at all.  In spite of any decorations, it would be like walking into an unused office.

We place so much importance on how a place looks at Christmas.  But all the fairy lights in the world will never make a place ‘feel’ Christmassy without smell.  This is partly an evocation of memories of good things, but also of a place feeling lived in.  Christmas, as much as it is about anything, is about life.  No smell? No life.

I have only just realised this after thirty-something years.  So this December, I’m trying to bake as often as possible.  And when I don’t bake, I fake it with scented candles.  We are currently on ‘Christmas Cookies’.

I have to keep reminding myself not to get up to fetch the wonderful cookies I can smell…

It’s funny, every year until this year I used to get really annoyed with shops proclaiming their festive gifts from even before halloween.  I used to humbug loudly should anyone put anything Christmassy out till December.

So why do I feel differently this year?  Ever since the nights started drawing in, I’ve been itching to make preparations for Christmas.  I’ve got mildly irritated when the residential decorations – especially if they are in the form of those horrid blue lights – start inching into view before Advent Sunday (which, incidentally, was still in November this year), but that’s all.  In the past I’ve been ready to dig out my soap box to proclaim how wrong any Christmas stuff is before Advent has truly begun, so something must have changed.

I think it happened when a very old, very good friend and I got chatting about Nigella and her practical yet heartwarming approach to cookery, and he sent me a surprise present of her latest book, Kitchen, a few days later.  I hadn’t seen the TV programmes, but as I turned over each page I found myself warming to her desire for a home where the kitchen is the life-affirming and  soul-nourishing heart. So much so, in fact, that it stopped me resenting cooking as a chore and appreciate it as a way to make everyone happy.

I enjoyed the book so much that I bought the Christmas book very soon after, thinking that if Nigella approaches Christmas in a similar way, it would surely be a great thing.  And it was, even more than I had hoped.  What surprised me was her introduction.  How she was not ashamed to combine the two aspects of Christmas without feeling guilty for not being solely about the birth of Christ, and embracing the original pagan festival of Yuletide as part and parcel of the whole joy of the season.

Once I realised the two didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. it was as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  Suddenly it didn’t matter so much when preparations began.  Obviously it was important not to forget the Christian aspect of Christmas, but that didn’t prevent me from starting to mentally plan out how to make our mid-winter holiday as cosy and heartwarming as possible.

So here I am in December, simply bursting at the seams with plans and ideas for making this Christmas special.  Why am I still sitting here? I have spiced jellies to make, decorations to hang, candles to light, presents to wrap, etc.  Best get to it!

Hungry felines

Today is the  third day in a row that I have texted or emailed my man to find out if he remembered to feed the cats before leaving for work.  I emailed at about 9.30am; I have yet to receive a reply.

Today is probably the third day in a row that I will get a text about two hours before he comes home saying, whoops, sorry, forgot, please could you do it?

Now…I’m more than happy to feed the cats on a daily basis, and indeed I do so whenever I am home alone (that is, if you ignore the three small ones and the two smaller feline ones), but I need to know that I’m not going to make them sick from overeating, an all too common occurrence. So, I wait and wait to find out if it’s necessary.

In the meantime the cats sometimes meow at me, but sometimes not.  They don’t generally ask me for food as they are aware that they have to wait till I’ve cleared the breakfast things before they get anything.  Which can take a while.  And is actually the reason why my man became the regular feeder – he just got around to it a good deal sooner than me…

Of course, when the reply arrives, it’s usually at a really unhelpful time, such as on the school run or when I’m trying to cook dinner/feed the baby/supervise the homework all at once.  So then the poor cats get forgotten.  Again.

Clearly they are fiercely loyal as any sensible cat would have foraged elsewhere for food and abandoned us a long time ago.

In the meantime, perhaps I should just ‘officially’ feed them once more.  They’d be fed late, but at least they’d be fed.

Now, I didn’t post anything yesterday as I was sooo busy getting started with WeightWatchers online.  Diets, fitness, it’s all so time consuming.  But to be honest, with all that going on, plus the headache from screamingkidscentral, I just plain forgot to post.

Anyhow, once upon a two and a half stone lighter, WeightWatchers, much as I hate to admit it, helped me get and keep to my wedding weight.  Even after my first-born, though I still have suspicions that that time was stress-induced weight loss trying to cope with a full-time job, motherhood and a 4-hour daily commute. Argh.

I have not returned to WW in the last 5 years, partly because I resented paying money when theoretically I could do it myself… Then my man had a business venture along a similar vein and it felt like it would be sleeping with the enemy, as well as stupid to pass up an opportunity to do the same kind of thing for free (I was a beta-tester).

However, realistically there are three things that make these online diets work. One is internal motivation.  I don’t just mean thinking ‘I’m a bit porky, better do something about it’, I mean, having something important to lose weight for.

My most, erm, only major success on the weight loss front was for my wedding.  So ultimately I lost weight because I was vain enough to care about how I looked on our special day.  And, looking back, I am so glad.  I would hate to have looked at those photos to see a porker looking back at me.

Secondly, I believe you have to have the time to actually focus on losing weight.  It’s got to be your number one priority.  Well pretty high on your list at any rate… This may be the reason behind the lack of weight loss chez moi recently.  Losing weight is important to me, really important, but not as important as trying to keep the family fed, watered, clothed, educated and completing my own studies.  How can weight loss compete with all that?

Thirdly, I believe you have to have a financial need to lose weight; i.e. you need to spend money on the process and make it worth having spent that money.  Once you have spent the money you feel morally obliged to make it work by putting in some effort yourself.

Now, I don’t have much to go on with regard to the first two reasons.  I have not so much motivation.  Choose between a healthy meal and a double cheeseburger from the drive-thru round the corner? Then factor in extreme tiredness and no spare time?You see where I’m going with this.  Also I have no wedding, or other, special occasion to buff up for, so the vanity thing isn’t kicking in so well.

And as for focus and prioritising? Hah!  I struggle to clean up the kitchen every day, and that’s my number one household priority, so how would I ever have a hope in hell of focussing on a diet?

But money?  I have less of that than I did before.  So this time it really matters if I don’t make the money work for me.  Not only am I doing WW but I am booking myself a full morning in the municipal gym once a week (they have a good deal with the creche that’s as good as I’m ever going to get).  Payment in advance is always a good way to ensure you go, I find.  (No doubt they do too, which must be why it’s the only way they’ll do it).  Better still, third-born adored the creche so I feel it’s a good way for her to socialise; double bonus!

So, the fitness regime has begun.  Two and a half stone to lose, but if it gives me more energy it’s going to be so worth it.

Whoops, my bad, posting this way after my electronics-off-at-9.30pm rule.
(Slaps wrist)

Morning after … with kids

Now, I think we have a good deal.  Somewhere along the line  the kids learned not to wake up before 7am.  I hear horror stories of people who are regularly woken up at 5am or worse by their dictatorial tyrant offspring.

I had a fairly late night last night (deliberately – girls night out) and on Saturday mornings the kids generally go downstairs on their own to watch TV until we surface around 9am.  On the whole this tends to work.  Then we can have a lie-in and they get TV time.  That horrible phrase ‘win-win’ springs to mind.

However if you adjust the mix by removing the remote control (I don’t know where it’s got to; I suspect the sofa has swallowed it whole), things get trickier.  Heaven forbid, they start – gasp – TALKING!  And then the lie in is somewhat spoiled.

Add a 7 month old baby to the mix, your lie-in is well and truly scuppered.

All I can say is, thank HEAVEN they don’t get up before 7am, or the household would be one big blur of mummy grumpiness…

It’s taken around 18 months to get the habit of a daily laundry, and I feel I can finally say, I have just about got the hang of it.  I have been taking Flylady’s advice, which is do a load every single day unless there is not enough laundry to actually put a load on.

However, I have yet to get to grips with putting this laundry AWAY.  So we are surrounded by heaps of clean laundry.   This is because I tend to finish off hanging up non-dryer items just before bedtime (I’ll have forgotten to do it earlier) and, being late for bed most days, don’t feel I can afford the time to put the clothes away as well.

So I feel we are kind of halfway there.  As long as you don’t ask me about the ironing.

So my boobs are currently twice their usual size as I’m breastfeeding my baby daughter.  And they weren’t that small to start with.

First of all, tops that look good are really hard to find.  If you go for any kind of tight top you look like Dolly Parton, only more trashy.   If you go for a nice boring shirt that used to fit nicely, your chest starts straining at the buttons and you get that gaping look.    If you go for a bigger shirt so as to avoid the buttons straining, you look like you’re wearing a tent.

I have just about sussed the top thing.  On days when I don’t have to see anyone I wear massive t-shirts and sod the looking good thing.  On days when I do, I wear a tight scoop-necked top (with openings for feeding or else you expose more spare tyres than a car mechanic would know what to do with) but with a cardigan to tone down the busty look.  When I run out of those, as I only have two (aren’t breastfeeding tops ridiculously expensive?) I wear a shirt without the buttons done up with a vest top underneath.  I still expose a fair bit of flesh whenever I’m feeding, but generally the shirt and the baby hide the worst of it.

But those nice scoop-necked tops?  I don’t know how people cope long term with these tops because EVERYTHING ends up falling into my cleavage.  Obviously this is worse because if baby has anything in her hands when I pick her up, that goes in too, but being the clumsy sort, I don’t really need her help.  When I take my bra off at night, I literally have to give it a shake over the bin for all the crumbs and things that fall out.  And if it’s particularly bad you may see me during the day with my hand down my top trying to scoop the worst of it out.

I went and got a haircut on Tuesday.  Wearing a scoop-necked top.

*Shudder*

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