Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Big Momma Challenge Week 17

This week was half-term so I was a bit more relaxed than usual.  When your normal routine is disrupted it can prove difficult to keep the motivation going, but despite that I still managed to lose 1lb this week, bringing my total weight loss to 21lbs so far.

I've been asked by a couple of people this week what sort of diet I am doing.  Well, as I've mentioned before I don't regard this challenge as a diet, but more of a change of lifestyle. I'm trying to retrain my eating habits and to lose weight gradually over time, rather than quickly for an instant result.  I reckon if I can keep this going until all the excess weight has gone - and I have another 49lbs to lose - then I'll be so used to making healthy choices that it'll be easier to maintain a normal weight.

So, to answer the question, what I have been doing is this: eating less and exercising more. That's it.

I've cut right back on snacks, which was my downfall, and eating three sensible meals a day.  I'm still eating the same sort of food I would  normally eat, by and large, just eating smaller portions.  For example this week these are some of my main meals:
  • Ikea meatballs and chips (it was that Sandy Calico's fault, she forced me......)
  • fish and chips (small fish, small portion of chips)
  • lasagne and veg
  • chicken kiev, baked potato and veg
  • mushroom omelette (3 eggs)
  • beans on granary toast
So you can see from that that I'm not starving myself.  I always have cereal for breakfast - always - and if I have time I make porridge, and for lunch I might have something like a sandwich, soup or scrambled eggs on toast.

In addition I am doing a lot of walking .  I take Tessie out twice a day for at least an hour in total.

I know that I could lose the weight faster if I ate less, but quite frankly, I don't want to feel like I'm dieting.  And I don't. And I think that's one of the main reasons I'm still doing this 17 weeks later.  

I'm dying to know how you have been getting on if you are following the challenge, and if  not why not join in?  Just add your blog post to the linky below, making sure you link back to me in your post, and the rest of us can pop over and offer encouragement and support.  Go on, you know you want to :-)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Being Single: Online dating, again.

For some reason that I am yet to understand I've decided to have another go at internet dating. Oh God, there, I've said it. This is probably the 20th or so internet site I've joined and I'm running out of dating sites where I've set up a profile and then deleted it in a hurry.  Usually when someone wants to meet me.  Too scary.

I'm still not sure if online dating is for me, but with a shortage of attractive, single men beating a path to my door and the fact that I never go out, it seems like one of the few options open to me. 

I've also been inspired by talking to other people who've met their partners/spouses through online sites, so if it works for some people maybe for me?  I'm trying to convince myself that this is a good idea, because inside I'm absolutely TERRIFIED of even the thought of going on a date.  Going on a date.  Something I just don't do, or at least haven't for over 5 years.  God no, it's more like 6. And a half.

What do people talk about on dates?  What happens if it's just Not Working Out? Emergency phone call from the 'babysitter'?  And what on earth do you wear on a first date?  I don't know, but it all scares the hell out of me and I'm not even sure if it'll come to that stage.

But what is the alternative?  Sitting in the house night after night, wishing I could meet someone? Feeling pangs of envy whenever I see happy couples together?  Going over and over my past relationships in my mind, wondering where it all went wrong?  I know that this cosy little rut I've made for myself is very easy to stay in, but it's very lonely in here.

So, I decided to do this. Again.  I uploaded a recent photo and wrote a chatty, honest profile trying hard not to sound like a desperate bunnyboiler.  Amazingly I received dozens of emails in the first few days. Wow! I'm so popular I thought, until I realised that most of them were so-called icebreakers sent to lots of people at the same time.  Duh.  Oh well.

So far I've exchanged several (non-icebreaker) emails with a few men on the site.   Most people seem genuine, although how do you tell?  Of course I've had a few emails from men in their 20s wanting to meet a 'more mature women', as well as one man who wanted to show me how to 'walk with God'.  And another, persistent man who wants to show me some 'sexy fun time' while I'm waiting to meet Mr Right. But I've also had a few men contact me who have profiles that seem normal.  And last night I actually had a chat on MSN with one of them. Gulp. That's a big step for me right there, chatting online. I would normally have cut and run by now.

And he wants to chat again tonight. He seems normal and intelligent. I'm wondering what to do next. While my finger hovers over the delete account button, I'm wondering whether I'm brave enough for all of this.
At 8pm tonight if /when Mr Possible is waiting to chat on msn I'll know.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

My 50th Birthday plans: Italy, food, fun and a bit of dancing

The plans for my forthcoming 50th birthday at the beginning of December are well underway!  After a lot of indecision about what to do I finally made some arrangements. 

Independent Ballet Wales
It's become one of our pre-Christmas traditions for the girls and me (and I?) to go to the ballet. We look forward to this little outing every year and this year I've bought tickets for us to see Giselle performed by the Independent Ballet Wales the day after my birthday.  We've seen this small ballet company on several previous occasions and always enjoy their performances, so this is a real treat. 

Gratuitous cute photo of Tessie
On my actual birthday we will be going to a lovely country pub that serves really good food in a cosy setting.  The service is good and we always enjoy going there, although it's not a regular thing, and an added bonus is that there is a special 'snug' where dogs are allowed in.  We've taken Tessie there in the past, and a bowl of water is always provided for her, and she sits happily next to the roaring fire while we enjoy our meal.  Perfect.

The big news though is that the weekend before my birthday we are going to visit good friends of ours in Milan! We're so excited about this, I can't tell you how excited we are. I absolutely love Italy although it's been many years since I've been there. In fact, I'm almost embarrassed to admit it's 28 years since I've been there....oh my god, I just shocked myself when I calculated that in my head. Good grief, talk about time flying....

The friends we are going to visit feel like very old friends, but in fact we only met them this year when we were all brought together during our trip to Los Angeles.  They are a lovely, warm, fun family and on our last day in LA we made promises to visit them in Milan, but instead of paying lip-service (and haven't we all done that? Oh, we must have lunch? And never actually do it) we actually knew it would happen.  Since being home we've been thinking of visiting Milan and the Teenager has been chatting to the family on Skype and Facebook, and was passing on messages about how much they wanted us to visit.  So, I managed to get some cheap flights with Ryanair and we're all set to go! We can't wait.

So after worrying about making plans for my birthday, and hoping it wasn't going to be a big let down it's actually all looking good for my birthday week.  Not bad, eh?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Big Momma Challenge week 16

This week I lost 1lb.  I nearly typed 'just 1lb' but it's still a loss, and I'm still moving in the right direction. That brings my total weight loss to 20lb, not bad.

To keep myself motivated I keep thinking of some of the things that will change once I've lost all the weight.  I like wearing long leather boots once the weather turns colder, but over the past few years I've had difficulty finding any that fit my chunky (fat) calves.  Over the last few years I've had to buy boots from specialist company or have had to suffer the embarrassment of trying on so-called 'wide calf fit' boots in shops, only to find they are still too small. So one of the things I'm looking forward to is shopping for boots  in regular shoe shops, with the confidence that they will actually fit comfortably. Small pleasures, I know, but it will mean a lot to me.

I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of you, have you had a good week?  What have you done this week that really worked for you? And if you had a bad week (and we've all been there) don't be embarrassed, just add your post and we can come and offer some encouragement.  Anyone else who is trying to improve their diet and lifestyle is very welcome to join in.  Just add your blog post to the linky below and let us know how you are getting on.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Next Baby Boutique Model Competition

Do you have a really cute baby? Do you think your baby is superbabymodel material?  Do you fancy the chance of winning a fantastic prize?

Well, today is the launch of the Next Baby Boutique model competition and it's all happening on Facebook.  Entrants will have their pictures posted in an online gallery and a public vote will determine the top 24 babies (12 from each age category) – all of whom will be invited to the photo shoot finale. Both winners will receive a £500 spending spree at Next and our winning models will participate in photo shoots for Next and Prima Baby magazine, plus win a year’s contract with top junior model agency, Urban Angels. Not bad at all!

Good luck!

*This is a sponsored post*

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

My ex-husband is a lesbian

Not my ex-husband you understand (he does sleep with women but I don't think that makes him a lesbian) but someone found my blog by typing that exact phrase into a search engine somewhere. How they ended up at my blog is just beyond me, and there must be other confused people on t'internet especially when they've been looking for information on the following topics:
  • single parent chihuahua
  • Why did Michael Praed get divorced?
  • famous couples tall and fatty
  • mummy my willy
  • goat banks
  • how to tell when my chihuahua is about to deliver? 
  • poem one brown dog
  • cuddly colon
  • sod's law supermarket
  • big cilit
  • shoes with wifi
  • giraffe running
  • can I leave my 7 year old at home on their own? (my answer - NO!) 
There are also four topics - with more or less the same phrases used - that crop up time and time again, all looking for details about these subjects and they end up at these old blog posts.  I hope they come in useful to the people searching for the information.
What's the oddest way someone has found your blog?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Mad (Wo)Men

I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I've recently become obsessed with the TV show Mad Men.  If you knew me well you wouldn't be surprised by my lateness, afterall  I only learned to drive when I was 27; went to university when I was 32 and didn't get married until I was 35 - so I'm used to being, well, a bit behind the rest of the crowd.  I just have one thing to say about it though: why didn't anybody tell me how good it is?

Image from Flickr
I happened to see an episode from the first season recently, then watched another one the following night.  Suddenly I was hooked and had to (yes really, I had to!) order the first 3 seasons on dvd so that I could watch every episode.

Don Draper is a deadringer for a man I once had a very long term relationship with - not in looks but in his ways.  For reasons I still can't fathom, I was with him for 9 years, on and off, and his laconic ways drove me crazy.  Just say something for God's sake!! Draper's mannerisms are unnervingly similar, the way he holds his cigarette (yeah, I can't believe I used to go out with a chain smoker, what was I thinking?) and the grimace when he takes a slug of whiskey.

Yet despite the cathartic nature of watching Mad Men, as I try to work though the failings of my previous relationships, it's the women in Mad Men that keep me watching.  Betty Draper, the ice-maiden; Peggy Olson the ambitious, liberated girl learning to be a woman in a man's world; and the utterly fantastic, voluptuous Joan.  Who would not want to be Joan, she is so beautiful and smart. In fact don't tell anyone but I think I have a girl crush on Joanie.

So I just had to tell you that Mad Men is a great show. Who knew?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

My brain hurts

You know the way sometimes you have no idea what to blog about, and you scratch around wondering if you will ever be able to blog again? I think we've all been there haven't we? Well the exact opposite is happening to me right now - I have so many ideas for blog posts in my head that I don't know which one to write first, so I end up starting one and then jumping to another - neither of which get finished or published.

For instance, I have whole list of toy reviews to catch up on for Toys R Us - which I'm sure you will find useful in the run-up to...ssshhh...Christmas.  Not only that, but recently I was loaned a fantastic car by Kia Motors to drive around in for a week, and I'll be telling you all about in the next few days.  I've also got to tell you about a couple of lovely children's books sent to me by Random House.

I also found some of my childhood treasures at my parents' house and have enjoyed showing them to my daughters but want to share them with you too. And what about my plans to celebrate my fast-approaching 50th birthday? (for which I'll have to renew my passport); not only that but I have some more recipes to inflict on you; I need some advice about my new foray into the world of internet dating; I want to tell you about a TV show I've become addicted to; plus how my male friends are all deserting me; and whatever other nonsense I can think about this week.

Yes I have a LOT to tell you about.

I'd better get my finger out.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Big Momma Challenge week 15

After last week's disappointment,  I lost 3lbs this week *fanfare* but the best thing is that I'm still feeling very motivated to keep going.  This week more people have commented on my weight loss, which is always nice, but it would be too easy to rest on my laurels and think I've lost enough for now. But I keep calculating the amount left to lose in my mind (51lbs) and it's clear that this journey is far from over.

Today I went to do some shopping and couldn't resist a visit to Debenhams to look at the Betty Jackson Black range again.  I love this range of clothing, and when I reach my target weight I'm going to spend a fortune there.  But as it is, I can't justify buying clothes that (hopefully) won't fit me for much longer, especially as I still have a wardrobe full of unworn clothes! So, I had to restrain myself today and just fondle a few things. I almost gave in and walked around for a while with a dress and a top over my arm, and eventually put them back on the rail.  But soon, my lovelies, soon!

So how has everyone else been doing?  Good weeks all 'round I hope?  Can't wait to hear, so don't forget to add your linky below.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Would you allow your child to visit a mosque?

Image credit
No, this is not a trick question.  I work in a small village primary school and this week I was due to take the year 6 class to visit a mosque in nearby Liverpool.  The school has a very small number of children from an 'ethnic' background, probably no more than 5 children in all, and to my knowledge none are Muslim. We are not a church school either, and most of the children at the school have little knowledge of any religions.  One of the school's objectives has been to open the children up to 'global culture' and we have spent time planning events and visits that fit in with that objective.

The visit was part of an educational visit, and part of the national curriculum for RE, to visit places of worship.  In the past the class has visited a synagogue, and last year we visited a local Anglican church and a Buddhist centre.  On those occasions the whole class took part and they all enjoyed the experience of visiting the different places.   

When I sent out the letters to parents about the mosque visit they were slow in being returned, and a couple of children said they were 'not allowed to go'.  I asked those children if I could speak to their parents at home time to find out if this was the case. 

What happened next was not totally unexpected but disappointing nevertheless.  One of the dads said "I didn't serve 5 years in the armed forces for you to send my child to a mosque."  Another said "there is no educational benefit in visiting a mosque, you could learn the same thing from showing them a video".  When I pointed out the his son had visited places of worship for three other religions, his response was "that's different, they're not terrorists."  The next day another child came in and said he couldn't go to the mosque because his dad said "we're at war with the Muslims."

In the end we had to cancel the visit as only 8 out of the class of 30 children had brought in their permission slips.  I find this extraordinary, or am I being totally naive here?  How can children make up their own minds about if they are not allowed to find things out for themselves?

From my point of view teaching Religious Education is not about preaching to children. Whether we like it or not religion is a major influence in many, many lives and RE is about showing children the differences in the world, learning about other cultures, religions and backgrounds.  It's about helping children to make up their own minds about the world, and learning to accept people as they are for who they are and not prejudging others. 

Children are generally very accepting of others, and so I'm hugely disappointed that this visit was unable to go ahead.  Is it just me, or is this response unreasonable?

I would be happy for my children to visit a mosque as part of an educational visit.  Would you allow yours to go?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Big Momma Challenge week 14

Okay, I'm not going to beat about the bush. It's been a difficult week and I have sought solace in food, wine and other unhealthy things.  As a result I've gained 2lbs, the only surprise is that it wasn't much more.

So I have to get my (shrinking) backside into gear and get a better result this week.  My only target this week is to get back on track and lose weight.

I hope everyone else has had a better week than me. 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Saying goodbye all over again

I'm writing this through a haze of tears.

The last four days have been very difficult.  Actually, difficult doesn't even come close to how hard it's been. Today we will close the door of my parents' house for the last time.  The house is being emptied of 40 years of belongings and memories and it's hard to accept that this will be the last day we'll be able to go inside.

We've spent the last four days packing and sorting, and trying to decide what will go where. And it's not just Dad's things it's Mum's too because when she died Dad didn't want anything moved or taken away, and so it's now that we're having to do this doubly hard task. It's been like losing both of them all over again and my heart feels so tight in my chest and the sobbing comes in big, sweeping waves.

The house was completely full of their belongings, our belongings. Every room was crammed with stuff. Mum was a voracious reader, she always had a book on the go and it's been heartbreaking packing her books up and finding the makeshift bookmarks with her distinctive handwriting on them - lottery numbers, shopping lists, people's phone numbers.  Just deciding what to do with those pieces of paper, that were just scraps used as temporary bookmarks, has been horrible.  How do you throw these little mementos of a much missed Mum away?  

As we slowly emptied the house we found things that had been there all along, hidden and private, and now for our reluctant eyes.  A letter written to Mum and Dad by my brother not long before he died, telling them how much he loved them; a birthday card made by Dad and given to Mum when times were hard - he made it out of some leftover wallpaper and wrote his own corny verse, but she loved it enough to keep it for all those years; cards written to Nana and Grandad; old photographs of a smiling and barely recognisable family; handwritten recipes; some of my favourite childhood books with my name written in my best joined up writing inside the front cover. A lifetime of one family.

When the wall clock with its steady tick-tock was silenced and taken off the wall it completely changed the atmosphere of the house, and I thought that was probably the saddest I would feel.  But nothing prepared me for coming back to the house after taking some things to the charity shop, and standing in the dining room feeling the echoes of times gone by.  I could almost see Mum bustling about in the kitchen with her pinny on, baking, cooking, making cups of tea. I imagined Dad singing while pottering in the garden and going in and out of the shed.  I went upstairs to check the bedrooms for anything left behind and saw Dad's worn blue slippers in his now empty bedroom, placed exactly where his bed used to be. That sight will stay with me for a long time.

Today I feel like a crumpled mess.  I miss Mum and Dad so much, and when we close the front door for the last time it will become so final. I just didn't realise how hard it would be.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Big Momma Challenge Week 13

It's that time of the week again, and I'm pleased to say I've lost 1lb.  That brings my total loss so far to 18lb.  1lb is less than I wanted to lose, but instead of feeling that it's a set back I actually feel more motivated.  This is BIG for me because I would normally have buckled by now and starting scoffing everything in sight. 

During the past 13 weeks I've found some things that have worked for me and have kept me going.

  1. I weigh myself everyday.  Yes, I know most advice will tell you not to do this but it works for me as it helps me to stay focused. 
  2. I drink plenty of fluids.  I try to drink lots of water, although that can be quite hard, but I also drink a lot of tea especially if I feel a bit peckish.  Somehow the cup of tea takes the edge off it. There was also recent advice about drinking some water half an hour before eating a meal, as this makes you eat slightly less.
  3. I eat fruit in the evening if I fancy a snack.  Oranges seem to be good for this, because by the time I've peeled it, cut it into small segments and eaten it I feel quite satisfied.
  4. I allow myself an evening off.  On the day I weigh myself, I eat whatever I want in the evening and have a drink or two *cough* and I really enjoy it.  
  5. I'm trying not to become complacent.  People have started noticing I've lost weight and as good as it feels to get compliments I can't lose sight of the fact I still have a lot more weight to go. 
  6. I keep reminding myself that this is Not A Diet!  No, it really has to be more than that for me, it has to be a new way of living.  I'm seeing it as a long-term lifestyle choice - to be healthy and take care of myself more.
  7. The main reason I'm still losing weight is because of you. Yes, you! I have been so encouraged by the supportive comments from everyone - thank you all so much, you have no idea how much it has helped me to keep going. And of course, I really enjoy reading how the other bloggers are doing with the challenge.
I'm looking forward to hearing how everyone else is doing, and please don't worry if you have a bad week (we all have them) it's still interesting to read about your week and what you've been doing to stay healthy.  If you fancy joining in, please do.  Just link back to my update before adding your post to the linky below. 

Good luck everyone, have a good week!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Today only - 25% off at Isabella Oliver

Every so often an email pops into my inbox and the information is just too good not to pass on - and yesterday I got one such email from Isabella Oliver.

On Friday the 1st of October (that's today!) Isabella Oliver will be celebrating their 7th birthday and they are offering a fantastic discount.  For one day only they will be offering customers 25% off Isabella Oliver branded products until midnight tonight. Sale items or other discounts are not included in this offer.

To take advantage of this offer just visit the website and enter the promo-code WeAre7 at the checkout.
I love Isabella Oliver clothes but have only lusted after them until now. But today I might just treat myself to something for my forthcoming birthday celebrations!