Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Things the Teenager has said to me this week

image source
Can you still get pregnant if you use a condom?

My friends' mums are soooo cool...but they're a lot younger than you...

I just can't figure you out sometimes Mum!

I like having a messy bedroom, it feels cosier.

I just don't understand algebra - I mean, numbers and letter together is just SO wrong!

Can you still have sex when you're pregnant?

It's not my turn to empty the dishwasher....I did it last week.

OH MY GOD you are SO not allowed to call anyone a babe!!

Mum, you are just so embarrassing....

You have NO IDEA how well behaved I am compared to other people my age.....

Please don't sing Mum, please don't sing....

I can't wear that to the party, I've already worn it once before!

Are some people born gay?

Why couldn't you have had me a few months earlier 'cause then I'd be in year 10....

Go out and have some fun Mum, go mad for once!

Love you Mum

Monday, 27 September 2010

Confessions of a Single Mum ~ Guest Post

I'm delighted to have a guest post today by Kairen of Confessions of a Single Mum which, if you are a single parent and haven't visited her website, is a brilliant source of information.  Please go and have a look....but not before you read Kairen's post!

So with no more ado, here's her view of life as a single parent.

"I don’t fit the stereo type family of 2.4 children complete with doting husband so when people hear my story they often ask what I would change. Well for one the likelihood of a wish fairy skipping down my garden path is about zero. Secondly if the said fairy did knock on my door I would honestly say no thank you and turn her away. Now that might be thought of as odd, bizarre or just a sign of complete madness but it’s the truth.

Let’s pretend for a moment she has skipped down my path and has granted me a wish. It’s just one wish these days as the hard times have affected everyone.  Now the first obvious choice, for someone in my circumstances, would be a time machine to undo my single mum status and second would be money. Neither of which I would change. Why? When I divorced 8 years ago I suddenly had to find a home, a job and face hurdles complete with a 2 and 6 year old. What I learnt though, was to change my perspective of things. Yes it’s no secret that being a single mum is damn hard work but once I viewed hurdles as challenges it became easier. I had to learn to believe in myself. Not an overnight process granted. But as I faced each challenge I realised I was still alive, still standing and not beaten so I grew stronger. With each challenge this would and does happen.
Thinking back 8 years if someone said to me ‘they’re not hurdles they are challenges ‘I would probably cheerfully punched them. At the time they’re certainly weren’t hurdles, they were huge great mountains to me. For example I had passed my driving test many years previous but never drove. The thought of having to drive was a massive mountain. Anyone else couldn’t understand why I saw it as a mountain as it was an everyday thing to them. I had no confidence to drive, let alone with my two precious children in the car. When I found a home, which was out of the town, and a job I had to tackle the mountain head on. I would leave so early to avoid normal traffic my children would have to eat their breakfast on route. The car would be full of toys and books to keep two youngsters happy as we got everywhere too early or we had to wait for the traffic to get quieter. I would come home each night and finally breathe normally, I had done it.  A few weeks in I no longer saw it as a hurdle. It was a challenge I had won. I had become stronger.
If I was still married I might not experienced a complete lack of money. Another challenge. I have had, and still do have times, when I don’t know where the next meal is coming from. The lack of money for basic things like food can completely bring you down. I got through it though and learnt how little money I can actually live on. I have learnt what actually is important and what things I can live without.
Of course my children were all a part of this. They have learnt the value of money, the value and importance of good friends and how to view life’s hurdles as challenges.  I look at my children and feel proud.
If I was still married I would probably never be as strong as I am now. I wouldn’t appreciate and love the smaller things in life. Through the last 8 years I have grown, changed my view of life and learnt to love myself and my accomplishments and all because I am a single mum doing it my way.
Someone once said to me that women are like tea bags. You don’t know how strong they are till they are in hot water."

Okay...now you can go and look at Confessions of a Single Mum.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Big Momma Challenge Week 12

Whoa!  It's week 12 already - where has the time gone?  I'm quite proud of the fact that I'm still going after this long and I'm determined to see this through.

This week I lost just ¾lb, which isn't great (I wanted to lose 2-3lbs) but it's still a loss and brings my total loss to 17lbs so far.  However, if I want to get to my total weight loss target of 70lbs it'll take me forever if I'm only losing such a small amount each week. 

So...this week I have to get my backside into gear and get this weight off! I've looked at my calender and figured out that it's 9 weeks until my birthday.  If I can lose 2lb a week until then I'll have lost another 18lbs which would be fantastic.  Knowing that has really got me thinking about how I'll look at that stage, and I'll also be halfway to my final target.

Another thing that happened this week is that I tried on some of the unworn clothes from my wardrobe - the clothes that I've bought but never worn because I was too big.  Now I can get into some of them but when I tried them on they looked, well, frumpy.  It made me realise that I've been trying to disguise my shape with shapeless clothes. An interesting strategy!  That means that instead of having lots of clothes to wear as I gradually lose weight I'm going to have to rethink the way I dress.  So some of those clothes will be heading to a charity shop this week and I'll be planning to buy some essential key items to keep me going.

Please feel free to join in - the idea of the challenge is to change my eating habits and adopt a new, healthier lifestyle.  I'm not calling it a diet because I don't do well on diets, and I need to choose a healthier lifestyle that I can maintain in the long term.  Please have a look at this post which explains why I'm doing this, and if you'd like to join in just do a weekly blog post and link to this update, then add your post to the linky below.  Thanks and good luck!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Our favourite homemade soup: Vegetable mulligatawny

Making soup is one of the best things about the onset of autumn.  When I feel that first nip in the air my soup recipes are dusted off and the big soup pans come out of the cupboard.  Homemade soup is also an easy way of getting children to eat vegetables without them realising it. Genius!  It was years before my girls realised this soup was made with courgettes, because they hate courgettes.

The original recipe is in my dog-eared copy of Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course but I've tweaked it slightly over the many years I've been making it. It's still one of my favourites and - more crucially - my daughters love it.   And, it's dead easy to make.

3 large onions
4oz butter
3 or 4 large unpeeled courgettes (or a marrow)
one tin of chopped tomatoes
1 large or 2 medium sized potatoes
3/4 pint vegetable stock
A good splosh of Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon of mild curry powder (or hot if you like it really spicy)
long grain rice (up to the 3fl oz in a jug)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the chopped onions and cook until they're golden brown.  Cut the courgettes into cubes, and dice the potato.  Add these to the onions along with the tomatoes and stir well. Season well and let the vegetables cook (with the pan lid on) over a low heat until soft - this will take about 30 minutes, but check and give it a few more minutes if necessary. 
Meanwhile, cook the rice in another saucepan - I'm not going to insult you by telling you how to cook rice, but my tip for perfect rice is to measure the rice out and then add 3 times the same amount of water, add salt, give a good stir, cover with the lid and LEAVE to simmer gently.  Don't stir it again - just test a few grains when you think it might be cooked, then drain and rinse with boiling water.

Next, when the vegetables are soft put them into a blender and puree. I usually pour  each pureed batch into a big bowl after each until it's all done then pour back into the main pan.  Then add the cooked rice to the pureed soup, along with the stock, Worcester sauce and curry powder. The soup should have quite a strong flavour so season to taste and add more curry powder if you like it really spicy.

Reheat for another 10 minutes before serving.  Delicious with freshly baked crusty bread.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Ewan McGregor in Naked Film Shocker

Okay, now that I have your attention, please take just two minutes to watch this film by the UNICEF UK Ambassador Ewan McGregor as he urges the UK public to help Pakistan's children whose lives have been devastated by the floods.
Thank you.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Big Momma Challenge: Week 11

Bigger snacks mean bigger slacks.  ~Author Unknown

To lengthen your life, shorten your meals.  ~Proverb

It's that time of week again for the Big Momma Challenge and I'm going to keep it short and sweet.  This week I stayed the same weight, which is no surprise to me if I'm honest. Last weekend I went to my niece's wedding and over indulged (champagne, chocolate profiteroles and wedding cake anyone?) and then on the Sunday we were having a very lazy day which meant a fish and chip supper.  I know, I know....not the healthiest choice.....but they tasted sooooo good!  I also managed to polish off a bottle of wine over the weekend too.

As a result it has taken me all week to lose the weight I gained over the weekend!  But although that might sound negative, for me it was a big change in attitude.  Previously, I would have thought 'oh sod it' and pigged out from that point on, the healthy eating regime would have been out of the window and I would be back to my old ways. 

But not this time.  I knew I'd had an indulgent weekend, so I set about exercising and eating healthily for the rest of the week.  I was really impressed with myself!  By the end of the week I was back to the same weight as last Saturday, so I need to get myself moving this week and lose a bit more.

My targets for this week are to lose another 2-3lbs; and to do at least two different types of exercise.

If you'd like to join in with the Challenge please jump in - even though it's week 11 for me I'd love more people to join in.  If you'd like to see how this all started have a read of this post - when I realised how big I'd become - and this one from Week 1 of the challenge.  Good luck to everyone!


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Mr Right

He's such a lovely man.  Really lovely. 

He's tall, about 6' 2" with broad shoulders and strong hands that have been used for manual work over the years.  His face is attractive but not in a Mr Darcy type of gorgeousness, more of a kind face with laughter lines at the corners of his eyes.  One of his most attractive features is his salt and pepper hair which I've always had a real weakness for.

He's got a very similar sense of humour to mine, we laugh at the same things and we laugh often. 

We share a love of cinema, theatre and art so at weekends we can be found visiting art galleries, watching films or going to see a show.  He loves to plan these weekends in advance so that we always have something to look forward to.

He can cook too - boy, can he cook!  He's much better than me - which to be fair isn't difficult, and amazingly he finds cooking therapeutic.  He likes to cook with a glass of wine in his hand and music on the CD player while I sit at the breakfast bar watching him in action.  And eating the results!

He doesn't smoke and he's not a big drinker either. More of a social drinker and we both enjoy a good bottle of wine with a meal.

And I'm relieved that he's not a fanatical football fan - I had enough of that growing up with 4 football mad brothers. 

He has emotional baggage of course (who doesn't at our age?) but he carries it with ease.  He has a good heart, he's honest, he's one of the good guys.  And most importantly, my daughters like him.

If you know this man, or recognise him from this description please point him in my direction.  I've been looking for him for years and I'm exhausted.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Big Momma Challenge: week 10!

I'm not overweight. I'm just nine inches too short. ~Shelley Winters

Gluttony is not a secret vice. ~Orson Welles
Sorry this is a day late, but I spent yesterday at my niece's wedding. I can't believe it's week 10 already!  I think this is the longest time I've ever done anything like this, which just shows how important everyone's support is.  I'm sure that normally I would have given up and just kept on doing the same old thing. 
So, let's get down to business and see how I got on with last week's targets:

  • a 2-3lb weight loss.  This week I lost 3¼lbs which I'm really pleased with, bringing my total weight-loss to 16¼lbs;

  • to do at least two different types of exercise. I had very good intentions of going to a Beginners Pilates class this week in a bid to help strengthen my back which has been giving me problems for several years now.  I'd even gone to the leisure centre where the classes are held to check the times and whether I needed any special equipment.  Unfortunately, and ironically, later in the week my back was too sore to go to the class - but I'm hopeful for this week.  Because of my back problems I could also only take some gentle walks with Tessie this week, but we still managed to get out;

  • to prepare my lunches in advance. This worked out well, and I kept to healthy choices.  Not only that but I didn't eat any of the packets of chocolate biscuits in the staffroom!
I noticed a big change in my body shape this week.  I started to feel and look like I'd lost weight, and have been trying on some of the clothes I'd previously been too big for.  Being able to wear something that was too big a few weeks ago is such a satisfying feeling!  What a boost to my confidence and a great motivation to keep going and fit into more of those lovely, unworn clothes.
If you are following the Challenge could I please ask a big favour?  I've been really encouraged by reading everyone else's experiences but sometimes it can be hard to see who is taking part.  Please include your linky at the bottom of this post - this enables others to visit your blog and offer support and encouragement; plus if you can include a link to my weekly updates in your blog posts it means your own readers can visit here and join in if they want to.  The more the merrier!  Thank you x

Friday, 10 September 2010

Reasons to be cheerful ~ for a change

I was having a bad day the other day and the feeling  of exhaustion, sadness and anxiety stayed with me up until yesterday.  Since then I've felt a little clearer about things, the dark clouds seem to have lifted and I'm feeling much brighter and more relaxed.

Every time I have one of these episodes - and they happen two or three times a year - it really takes it out of me and I've been going to be bed very early and sleeping the sleep of the dead.  I try to take care when they occur because in the past they have lasted a long time, sometimes weeks, and I end up barely able to function properly.  I know that even the slightest thing can tip me over the edge, so thankfully that was avoided this time.

So, it feels great to share some really good news with you.  My gorgeous, talented, brilliant Tall Daughter has been made School Captain.  It's an honour that is only bestowed to one person each year, and she came home from school today proudly wearing her badge.  She was chosen because she is mature, always works hard, is popular with her peers and has previously been a school councillor.  She now gets to run the school council and make suggestions for improvement to the school.

I couldn't be more proud of her - she's a really fantastic girl, and I'm so pleased for her. *beams proudly*  I'm seriously considering making a badge for myself that says "Proud Mum of School Captain".

And just to top the day off, when we got back from school there was a delivery waiting for me. I don't know about you but flowers always cheer me up, so when I got an email from a PR agency asking if their client Interflora could send me a 'surprise' it didn't take me long to say yes.  And today the surprise arrived - and it's gorgeous!  There was a card with the flowers from the team at Interflora saying  "...we've personalised this bouquet's colours to match your blog. We hope you like it."  What a lovely thought, thank you. And I love it.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Being a Single Parent part 5: Running on empty

Sometimes being a single parent is shite.  Sorry, there's no other word for it.

I've written in the past about the positive side of raising children on your own, but sometimes...well sometimes I can't see past the negatives.
  1. There's nobody else to help out at home. Putting a shelf up, mowing the lawn, settling an argument between the girls, speaking to a teacher who my daughter says is 'picking on her', nipping out to the shops for a forgotten pint of milk, making a meal, paying the bills - all done by me. 
  2. Lack of emotional support - who is there to reassure me when the going gets tough?  To pour me a glass of wine or put the kettle on and tell me why everything will look better tomorrow?
  3. The Teenage Years - I need help with the hormonal surges in this house (mine and theirs!).  The Teenager knows how to push my buttons, and today she told me that I'm not a real mum because if I was I would know that she was upset about something;
  4. Facing the future alone. One day in the not too distant future my girls will fly the nest and I will be home alone. 
  5. Illness: when a single parent is ill, and I mean really ill as in stay-in-bed type of ill who is there to take care of everything else?  Or even worse, when you get taken to hospital and told you have to stay overnight - who is there to look after the children?
  6. No social life.  I have one or two babysitters I can call on, but more often than not I have to turn down social invitations because it's just too blinkin' difficult trying to sort out childcare arrangements.  Or, if I do go out it has to be an early dart home, just before things get going,  to get back in time for the babysitter.  Although as time goes on I can't be bothered staying anyway. Or even going out in the first place.
  7. The loneliness of being a single, single parent. You know, single as in not having a boyfriend. When do I get to go out to meet anyone? And if I did meet anyone, the times we could see each other would be very restricted (see point 6).
  8. Exhaustion. I'm tired of being the only parent pulling their weight. Tired, tired, tired.  Being a single parent can sometimes be an unremitting, grinding slog. And today it feels like one of those times.
Tell me tomorrow will be better. Please.

Monday, 6 September 2010

When I'm an Old Woman

Here's my homage to the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph

In years to come I want to be known as the eccentric old woman of the village
and will defend my title by behaving appropriately.

I will cycle my three-wheeler down the street with my scarf fluttering in the wind
and call out to children shouting "hello" or "don't drop that litter there"
My hats and leather gloves will be in rainbow colours
and there'll be doggy treats in my basket for passing canine friends
I'll complain loudly in shops when the assistants are slow or chatting behind the desk
and ask to see the manager

I'll visit the cinema during the day and laugh raucously without fear of embarrassing my daughters
and I'll learn stories off by heart to keep the children rapt
when I become the flamboyant storyteller at the library

Trick or treaters coming to the door will be met by a witch with a water-pistol
and I'll keep carol singers for at least three full carols
whilst joining in at full voice before a mince pie is offered

I'll get a tattoo that says something rude in latin so everyone thinks I'm clever
and take a younger lover who can visit me in the afternoon
when we can laze decadently in bed eating chocolates and drinking cider (organic of course)

I intend to grow old disgracefully
fancy joining me?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Big Momma Challenge: Week 9

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends. ~Author Unknown

Food has replaced sex in my life; now, I can't even get into my own pants. ~Author Unknown

It's week 9 and I wish I had better news.  This week I have gained weight. Yup, I've gained ¾lb.  This is Not Good.

The reason?  Erm, well there's probably lots of reasons. Complacency - I returned to work after the summer break and the comments on my weight-loss so far went to my head; chocolate - somehow (!) I started eating small pieces of it, and before I knew it I was eating a Kitkat with my cup of tea; not planning my meals in advance - I forgot to take my lunch with me to work on Thursday and had to have a school lunch (curry and rice, very tasty but not the healthiest choice); alcohol - I treated myself to a mini-bottle of wine this week when I normally only drink on a weekend. 

My focus has drifted this week but I'm determined to get back on track as I have so far to go with this. 

My targets this week are a 2-3lb weight loss, to do at least two different types of exercise and to prepare my lunches the night before to avoid going off piste as it were.

I hope you've all had a good week - and now that the children are back at school and the normal routine has returned I'm hoping that more of you will join in with the Big Momma Challenge.  I know some people were waiting for the end of the summer holidays before joining in - so please do!  Just add your blog post to the linky below to let us know how you do each week.  Good luck!

**In week 6 I mentioned that Dorset Cereals and Jordans Cereals had offered to send sample packs to anyone taking part in the Big Momma Challenge (UK based bloggers only).  But if anyone else just fancies a sample pack anyway to try these healthy breakfast cereals please let me know as there are 10 samples of each one available.  First come first served.**