Monday, 28 February 2011

How To Embarrass Your Teenager

Image source
If you're lucky enough to have a teenager in your household, or you can't wait for those interesting teenage years then I have a little something for you.

Together with my lovely friends Bubblecow (not his real name) and Caroline we've found some easy ways to embarrass your teenager. Yep, we've done all the work for you so you don't have to.  No need to thank us, really.

Just so you can see how well you're doing, there are points allocated to each activity. 
  1. Lick their face (don't ask),  iPod or mobile phone (1 point each);
  2. Do any of the above in front of the teenager's friends (an extra 2 points);
  3. talk to their friends (1 point);
  4. kiss your teenager in front of their friends (3 pts);
  5. leave 'funny' comments on your teenager's Facebook page (1 pt);
  6. post photos of your teenager looking happy with their family (1 pt);
  7. tag your teenager in said Facebook photos (2 pts);
  8. ask your teenager if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet (1 pt) and if you can manage to do this in front of other people you can add another 2 pts;
  9. use words like cool, groovy and wicked (2pts);
  10. try talking street, or even better, gangsta (3pts) and if you can do it in front of their friends add an extra 3 pts you deserve it;
  11. when talking to your teenager litter your conversation with LOL, ROFL and OMG (2 pts)
  12. use punctuation when texting your teenager (1 pt);
  13. when driving, beep your horn and wave at passing friends (1 pt);
  14. when driving, beep your horn and wave at teenager's friends (2 pts);
  15. when dropping off teenager at friends house, get out of the car and talk to their friends (2 pts);
  16. tell them your best jokes (2 pts);
  17. refer to your teenager's friends as 'nice boys/girls' (1 pt) and on no account describe them as 'respectful'  (2pts) or 'a potential son/daughter-in-law' (3 pts);
  18. dance in the kitchen to your favourite song (1 pt);
  19. dance at a social event in front of your teenager (3 pts);
  20. dance at a social event in front of your teenager's friends (5 pts);
  21. sing along to the radio (1 pt);
  22. learn the words to your teenager's favourite song, then sing along to it whilst driving the car with your teenager and friends in the back (5 pts)
  23. if you can learn the wrong words to the song, even better, award yourself an extra 2 pts.
There are quite a few points available but you need to be scoring upwards of 22 points to be reaching the required embarrassment factor.  If you are scoring 28+ points you are well on your way to being a real embarrassment to your teenager, and a credit to parents everywhere.  Well done!

If you have any other tips about the best ways to make your teenager hate you, do leave a comment and share your words of wisdom. We're all ears.

Dispatches from the Chalkface part 5: poverty, swearing and Jesus' friends

During an RE lesson about the Last Supper I showed an image of the famous Da Vinci painting and asked the children to write something about it in their books.
Lily wrote: "The Last Supper was a meal where Jesus gave bread and wine to his disabled friends."
Me: Lily, do you mean Jesus and his disciples?
Lily: Yes Miss.
Lily goes back to her desk to change her work, and returns with this: "The Last Supper was a meal where Jesus and his disciples gave bread and wine to their disabled friends."


During a lesson I mentioned the word poverty.
John: What does that mean Miss?
Me: Who can tell me what poverty means?
Tim: *puts hand up* Miss, is it bowls, plates and cups?
Me: No Tim, that's crockery.


Last September, one of the children in a friend's reception class was a lovely little girl called Hannah. Unfortunately, she had a habit of swearing. In an attempt to stop it, the teacher suggested to Hannah's mum that they give her a target that if she didn't swear in class for a whole day she would get a treat at the end of the day.

The first day went well and when her Mum came for her at the end of school Hannah ran out shouting "Mummy, I didn't f**king swear all day!"

Kids, don't you just love 'em?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Dear So and So ~ stalking, cookery lessons and cartoon ties.

Dear So and So...

Dear darling Teenager,
Please do not come to me at 10.45pm on a Sunday to tell me that you have a food technology lesson on Monday morning and need a long list of ingredients, none of which we have in the cupboard.
Thanks so much,
Mum x

Dear Mr Headteacher,
After being on a training course with you this week can I just say that your constant stream of innuendo, corny jokes and hysterical laughter (for no apparent reason) was incredibly annoying after the first 30 minutes.  The fact that we all had to listen to you for TWO WHOLE DAYS was almost unbearable. You are not a stand-up comedian, I didn't think you were funny, I didn't want to have to look at your cartoon ties and I also don't want to hear your mobile ring tone of 'Sex Bomb' every ten minutes or so.
from someone who is thankfully not a colleague of yours.

Dear Moshi Monsters PR people,
For weeks now I've been receiving emails from not one, but three of you, so just to be clear about this: I AM NOT INTERESTED IN MOSHI FLIPPIN' MONSTERS, STOP STALKING ME!
an anti-Moshi Mum

Dear Readers,
If you feel the need to rant or want to read the rest of this week's letter, click on the link for Kat's place, the 3 Bedroom Bungalow.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

What sort of message is the fashion world sending to our daughters?

Image source:
There were several photos from the runway show for the Erdem label at London Fashion Week, mainly due to their use of this model.

I'm horrified at how thin and skeletal she is. Look at her sunken cheeks and eyes. Is that supposed to be attractive? Yet by using such a thin model, that is the message designers are sending to our children.

As the mother of two clothes-mad daughters I'm totally appalled at the insidious message they are receiving from some areas of the fashion world - that being unhealthily thin is desirable and fashionable.  Most girls could only achieve this look by developing an eating disorder (and ironically this week is also National Eating Disorders Awareness Week*) and most normal people don't look like this so it begs the question: why on earth does a designer include such a model in their show? And don't tell me the clothes look better on a skeletal model, because they don't.

I showed this photo to my two girls, separately so they couldn't hear what the other said, and asked them what they thought of the dress (without mentioning the model's thinness).  The Teenager said "She doesn't look normal, what's wrong with her?" Tall Daughter looked at it and asked "why has she been starved? What's wrong with her eyes? Why is she doing that when she's not well?"  Neither of them commented on the dress.

A few years ago there was a lot of discussion in the media when Madrid Fashion Week made the decision to use models with a healthy BMI (body mass index) of 18 and over. I had hoped that this would be adopted by the other big fashion shows but sadly this doesn't seem to have happened.

The Body Mass Index scale is used by the World Healthy Organisation (WHO) as a guideline for healthy height-to-weight ratios and is used to estimate the portion of fat in the body.  A healthy BMI is considered to be anything between 18 and 24, and the World Health Organisation considers anything below 18.5 to be underweight, yet the typical BMI for a runway model is 16.3.

This is all wrong.

I would be more inclined to buy from a designer who uses normal, healthy looking models. I'd be happier seeing more of the so-called plus-sized models in magazines fashion spreads and in TV adverts, and I'd like my daughters to learn from the media that being healthy is much more important than fitting into a size zero dress. Is that too much to ask for?

*Thanks to Rosie Scribble for this information and link.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Big Momma Challenge 2011 ~ Week 8

As expected I didn't do so well this week, it was half-term here and I was out of my normal routine and as a result I didn't lose any weight. However, I did get out and do some longer walks with Tessie and I ate mostly healthy options (although the was a bag of Doritos that crept in..) But the main thing is that I'm still losing weight overall and even when I don't have a 'good' week, like this week, I can still see the long term goal and I'm still determined to get there. 

My next target is to get to my half-way goal - a 35lb loss - and I'm going to focus on that. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about how important it is to eat a healthy breakfast and the same people have sent me some wholegrain recipes that are healthy and filling. Wholegrain are generally low GI and can keep you feeling fuller for longer. This can therefore reduce the desire to snack and as a consequence help to manage a healthy weight, and I'm all for that. I'll post one recipe each week, and the first one is on my list of meals for this week.


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Per serving:
Calories: 431 kcals
Fibre: 3.2g
Saturated fat: 2.71g

200g brown & wild rice blend
2 sirloin steaks/lean beef (475g), cut into strips
2 tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 red pepper, sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
125g savoy cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp soy sauce

Cost per serving: £1.28

Cook the rice according to pack instructions and drain.

Meanwhile, mix the beef and 5 spice powder together. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the beef for 3 minutes. Add the pepper and carrot and stir fry for a further 3 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and soy sauce and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Serve immediately on top of the rice.

Cook’s tip
Use brown rice mixed with some chopped spring onions as an alternative to the brown and wild rice blend.


So, how has your week been? Let me know how you're getting on, and if you leave a link to your blog post I'll add it into the body of this blog post so that other people can read it too.  Good luck for this week, and don't forget to keep your eye on the long term goal - a healthier you!

Silent Sunday ~ The Teenager, then & now

Silent Sunday

Thursday, 17 February 2011

I've had a blog makeover, come and have a look around!


Come in, sit down and have a cuppa. There might be the odd bit of furniture still to be moved around and I've got a bit of cushion plumping to do but this is the new gaff. Whaddya think?

I love, love, love it and it's all the work of the brilliant Liz at Violetposy. Seriously, if you're thinking of a blog redesign then not only is Liz very talented but she also works at the speed of light. No kidding, I went out for an hour and when I got back she'd done all....this!

Have a look around, and come back again soon. The kettle's always on.

Monday, 14 February 2011

When is a writer not a writer? When they're a blogger/journalist/author.

It all started innocently enough when a writer friend asked this question on her facebook page: 'What's the difference between a writer and a novelist?' and there followed a short debate about what the difference was between the two.

Then I read this post by the excellent Mark at Views from the Bike Shed which really put the cat amongst the pigeons. Blogging for writers? Not writing for bloggers? Intriguing.

These two things got me thinking about what the difference is between a blogger and a writer. I mean after all, aren't all bloggers writing on a regular basis? We all like to have labels for who we are and what we do, even if we hate being labelled we like to know where we stand.  ("Yes, I'm a writer darling, my shopping lists are second to none.")

Having said that I don't consider myself a writer at all, not for one second. I have no aspirations to be a writer and I don't have 'a book in me' which is what I hear a lot of aspiring writers say.  I blog for fun and before I discovered blogging I kept handwritten journals and they served the same purpose for me at the time, documenting my everyday life.

I often feel a little intimidated by the various writing workshops that take place on some blogs. Not because I disapprove, far from it - I think they're a great way for bloggers to practise or hone their creative writing, but because I don't feel qualified to take part. I shy away from them mainly because I find writing quite difficult, it's not something I find easy to do, but also because I imagine other more erudite bloggers sniggering at my cheek. (Although not you, of course not...)

When I started blogging 3 years ago I had no idea how much it would bring to my life. New friends - online and real life friends - invitations to take part in exciting events (and some not so exciting ones...), new areas of communication, an enjoyable hobby and, of course, the freebies are not to be sniffed at. Not by me anyhow.

But I've started to think that the lines of distinction between the different disciplines are beginning to blur. There are bloggers who have become published writers, and there are writers who keep blogs. There are also journalists who blog, ex-journalists and marketing professionals who are very successful bloggers and PR peeps who blog. Confused? Yes, I was a little but then I usually am about most things.

So, off I went to find some hard facts. What are the dictionary definitions of the terms author, writer, journalist and blogger? Here's a brief summary of what I found.

writ·er (rtr)
n. One who writes, especially as an occupation.

au·thor (ôthr)
1. a. The writer of a book, article, or other text.
b. One who practices writing as a profession.
2. One who writes or constructs an electronic document or system, such as a website.
3. An originator or creator, as of a theory or plan.

jour·nal·ist (jûrn-lst)
1. One whose occupation is journalism.
2. One who keeps a journal.

The term blogger is simply described as "someone who keeps and updates a blog."

There's a very interesting article from last year about this very subject which I found when I started looking for these definitions.  Blogging vs. Journalism puts forward different views of what makes a journalist and a blogger, including a quote from John Berman, a well known US news correspondent:

 “I think there can be great reporting on blogs,” Berman says, “but that all blogs do not necessarily contain great reporting.”

And I agree, but surely the same can be said of newspaper reporting? And here's a thought, are bloggers becoming social journalists? Is there even such a thing? I don't know, I'm just throwing it out there for you to think about.

I also stumbled upon this blog post by Jolie O'Dell asking the same question and she has some very clear distinctions between the two.

And then of course you can look at the Urban Dictionary which has some alternative definitions for people who blog.

Me? I'm still undecided. How do you describe yourself? Are you a writer, a journalist, a blogger, or something else altogether?  Come on, I'm all ears.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Big Momma Challenge 2011 ~ week 7

Just a quick update this week - it's been a good week and I've lost 3lbs! Whoohoo!

It's half term so I'm at home all week and will have to resist the habit of over-eating. It's so easy to do when you're not at work, I know I will fancy some tea and toast mid-morning and then the odd snack here and all adds up.

My plan for this week is to keep busy (I have a huge To Do List!) and to take Tessie out for some long walks, and also to do some cycling for the first time this year. If I could manage another 3lbs loss this week I'd be a very happy camper.

How has your week been? Good, bad or ugly?  Do tell...

Silent Sunday ~ Cheesecake

Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Seven surprising things that you didn't realise you didn't know and needed to know about me. Or something like that.

I've been tagged by Second Time Mummy to share 7 things you didn't realise you needed to know about me.  But first of all the meme demands that I pay Second Time Mummy a compliment, although that's not exactly a hardship.  I met her at the recent Snap, Crackle and Blog event at Kellogg's in Manchester and apart from being a really lovely person, she also has the most gorgeous little boy. That's two compliments!

How much do you really need, or even want, to know about me? I decided to come clean and reveal my true identity:
  1. My real name is Edna;
  2. I am a 70 year old retired traffic warden;
  3. I have every record ever released by the legend that is Engelbert Humperdinck, and have been lucky enough to see him perform in concert several times. I'm also a member of the Official Engelbert fan club. He's still a very handsome man, although I prefer him with the sideburns;
  4. I'm a keen taphophile. It's a great way to get out in the fresh air and meet new, dead people;
  5. In my spare time I paint garden gnomes;
  6. I'm quite well known in my street for keeping a tidy front garden, and I like to keep a weather eye on how my neighbours are doing. Sometimes I'll  pop a little note through their front doors if I think they're letting the side down. It's not to criticise, just to give them a bit of a nudge and although they've never said as much I think they appreciate my help;
  7. Some or all of these facts may have been slightly embroidered *ahem*.
I'm going to tag the following bloggers:
The Curry QueenKelloggsville, And One More Means Four..and 1 more, Cherished by Me, Rosie Scribble

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Big Momma Challenge 2011 ~ week 6

This week has been a bit better for me, I feel my focus has returned and I've got the long-term goal in sight again.  I've lost 1.5lbs this week, which is okay but even more important than that is the renewed emphasise on the need to get fit as well as losing the excess weight.

For the last week or so my asthma has been pretty bad and I've been wheezing and coughing and feeling quite tired because of it. I've been going to bed at 9pm and sleeping fitfully.  Then yesterday when I was leaning over the laundry basket sorting out the dirty washing my back just suddenly 'went'.  Why do we say that - where does it go? Anyway, the agony was immediate and I managed to hobble to my bedroom and lie down for a while.  Since then I've been taking painkillers and sitting with a heatpad on my lower back, which is where the pain is, trying to take it easy. Not always easy with two children and a dog who needs to be walked. 

The main problem is that my lower back is weak because of my weak abdominal muscles. I know that. I've know that for many years, eleven years to be exact. How can I be so precise? Because my already weak back was put under further strain when I was pregnant with Tall Daughter.....who's now 11, and I've done little to fix the problem. *Hangs head in shame* On top of the back pain and the asthma I also get knee pain undoubtedly due to carrying so much extra weight.

Every time I have a bout of back pain I vow to do something about it. See a physio, do some back strengthening exercise, etc...but as soon as the pain goes my plans go with it. 

It was The Teenager who made me realise how much my health was suffering.  This morning when I struggled to get downstairs and she made me a cup of tea, she said "Mum, there's always something wrong with you. You need to get fit."  I could really sense her feeling of concern but also frustration with me and I felt bad about it.

And of course she's right. I promise to make amends.

By the way, just in case - like me - you're looking for inspiration on maintaining your healthy eating challenge, you need look no further than this blog post by the Menopausal Old Bag (her description, not mine!). She's lost an incredible 6 stones (84lbs) in one year. That's right - in a year!  Read her account of why she did it and how her life has changed and prepare to dust off those walking shoes.

I hope you've had a good week - please leave a comment to let us know how you've got on. There's no Linky tool this week as the service I was using is now charging for use and since only a couple of people were leaving post links I'm not sure whether to pay for the service. 

Instead, please leave a link to any post in your comment and I'm sure we'll find you that way!

Silent Sunday ~ A very special school assembly

Silent Sunday

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Remembering the unhappy times

Tomorrow, 2nd February, will mark 15 years since I got married. Last month marked 8 years since my husband and I separated and I became a single parent. Next month it will be four years since my lovely Mum died, and then in April it'll be the first anniversary of my dear old Dad's death.

The Teenager asked me why do I still remember my unhappy anniversary as well the date her Dad left, but it's not something I go out of my way to remember - it's just there, always haunting me. Reminding me of what once was, and what could have been.

The loss of my parents is still fresh, still raw with the repercussions still not fully played out. Losing my Mum was the greatest loss of my life and I miss her every single day. Every single lonely day. And Dad's death marked the end of an era. Our family - never particularly close - has become more fragmented than ever before.

I feel guilty for saying this but as much as I want to (and will) pay respect to my parents and remember them at these times, I feel that my life is punctuated by this sort of bittersweet anniversary. A failed marriage, the loss of my parents, the amount of time I've been a single parent. Permanent reminders of these less than happy times.

I'm feeling a bit maudlin and I know that this too will pass, as the saying goes, but it does get tiring of always looking back.  Have I become so used to doing it that I'm unable to look forward anymore? It's hard to break a habit, but I think I need to try with this one.  How can I learn to look forward to the future? I might need a bit of help with that.