|Wednesday 27th January||Chicken & Quinoa Stir Fry|
Monday, 25 January 2016
Friday, 22 January 2016
My eldest will be 18 years old this July. In that time, there have been many things that have made me go 'hmm' in relation to parenting. Also - 'Aargh!', 'Noooooo!' and 'WtAf?!'. Lots of deep breathing and eye closing and slow counting to ten needed on occasion, such are the joys of raising children, especially teenagers. It doesn't get easier as they get older, sorry. I like to share the highlights of my week on Facebook from time to time, status updates that fully encompass what it is to raise children and how they like to make it fun for us. Facebook gets a bad rap, being called 'bragbook' and passive-aggressive memes being posted about who posts what. I just choose to say it how it is.
I will tell you now - I bake with my kids. We enjoy home-made meals that they sometimes help me cook. We spend afternoons cuddled up on the sofa reading books and watching movies together. We enjoy great family days out and holidays. We love each other. We have fun. In the interest of balance - sometimes I can't be arsed/simply don't have time to cook after all the daily running about & they get fast food or the bag of emergency chips from the freezer with whatever I can find in the fridge or cupboard. I spend about 25% of my time refereeing various spats, topics of which include but are not limited to 'He's breathing too loud, she's looking at me' etc., the other 75% is spent picking up/running around behind them. I go away without my kids. Sometimes they drive me completely bloody crazy. But we still love each other.
So for fun, here are just a few of the things I have had to endure in recent months. This does not include the time J kicked his shoe off apparently into thin air (later found up a tree) and I had to take another pair in for him otherwise he would have been hopping home, nor the time that he got caught scaling the fence with his buddies to ditch the end of term assembly which he's now had 3 after-school detentions as punishment for. My favourite thing about sharing these status updates is reading the comments after - 'I feel your pain!', 'Glad it's not just my kids', 'Sounds like my day!', 'I feel so much better reading this, makes me feel normal'. Hang in there ladies and gents, we've got this.
(For anyone unfamiliar with our family - A is 17, J is 15 next week, L is 12, H is 10, E is 5)
18 January at 16:02
Seriously considering forming our own travelling circus... The boys can be the contortionists since they usually have their heads up their arses (today is no exception), E can do a bit of trapeze, and A can be the freak since she came home with a metal bar through her face on Saturday. Might as well make some money out of them, help pay for the gin.
8 January at 21:00
The joy of having teenagers - one of them came home from school with bright blue hair today. Sometimes it's just best not to ask.
23 December 2015 at 12:32
My three sons have just willingly worked together and tidied the bedrooms without being asked, including hoovering, and making of the beds... If it wasn't almost Christmas I'd be convinced that the apocalypse was upon us.
21 December 2015
Please tell me that it's not just my kids who are feral this week? Ridiculously over excited, I'm having to peel them off the ceiling every hour or so - I think there's a very real danger of their heads exploding by the time we get to Friday.
20 December 2015
Currently wondering where the hell E found a bloody bell and why she is choosing today to ring it incessantly. Going to have to lose that behind the sofa later. No, YOU'RE hungover.
10 December 2015
Some of my favourite phrases to hear first thing in the morning are "I've got PE today, where's my shorts/trainers/rugby top (delete as appropriate)", "I have to dress up like a book character/evacuee/Victorian school kid/it's non uniform today and I want a specific item of clothing, where is it?" and today my particular favourite, "Oh I forgot, there's a hole in my trousers - can you sew them up?"... 10 minutes before the school bus.
Nothing that you could have told me the night before, then.
2 December 2015
“Mum can we put the tree up? Mum can we do the decorations? Please mum! Please! Please can we have the Christmas tree up!?” - all of the kids, every hour, for the last two days. Get the tree & decs out of the loft... Everyone pisses off and leaves me sat here decorating the bloody thing on my own.
24 November 2015
I told H to shower and change after football club today, he asked what he should put on. I suggested a clown suit, to which he replied “Why do you want me to wear your clothes?”... Torn between being annoyed because he's a cheeky sod, and impressed with his quick wit.
19 November 2015
A successful day of parenting teenagers I think — one has been sent home from school after a bad afternoon (the less said about that the better), one should probably have just slept there this week since he's spent almost every afternoon in detention, and the other has had a letter sent home questioning her attendance since she apparently doesn't bother signing herself in.
If anyone needs me I'll be rocking back & forth in the corner of a darkened room.
26 October 2015
The Mister & E bury J in the sand. The Mister decides to give him sand boobs.
J: "One's bigger than the other"
A: "Yes. Welcome to LIFE."
24 October 2015 travelling to Kos island - GREECE from Heathrow
I had to drink H's bottle of water at security... The kids thought it amusing & appropriate to chant "Drink! Drink! Drink!" as I did so. Thanks for making everyone in the terminal judge my parenting, guys.
27 September 2015
One day I would like to sit on the sofa without every member of the household (including both dogs) inviting themselves to come and sit on my lap.
22 September 2015
Waking my boys for school this morning — nice & gently whispering to them, stroking their hair and telling them it's time to get up... L opens his eyes, and says "Are you watching me sleep, you creeper?".
That's what I get for being nice. Tomorrow it's an air horn.
16 September 2015
Two weeks into the new term and I've already had letters from the senior school for trips totalling over £200 so far. If anyone is after organs, limbs or sexual favours, now is the time to ask.
9 September 2015
L was holding this sign up in his classroom window yesterday keeping passers-by entertained, A happened to walk past outside and catch him. Delightful isn't he.
Thursday, 21 January 2016
My favourite thing about this link is that it gives everyone the opportunity to share something that they are really proud of, to take note of an achievement or milestone no matter how big or small and to feel free to do so without being made to feel like it is wrong to enjoy and celebrate success - because it isn't, so come and shout about it.
Weight loss or fitness progress, non-scale victories, getting your teenager to actually wear a coat to school, sports or musical achievements, first steps, first words, or even that the bloody dog has finally stopped chewing everyone's shoes - anything goes. If you're happy or proud about it, then come & share with us and let us celebrate with you.
Want to know more about #LoudnProud? Check out the 'rules' here.
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
H has been playing rugby since he was 7, he joined at U8s level after trying it out during Summer training and absolutely loved it and the rest as they say is history. He is now U10s and enjoying it even more now they have progressed to full contact and he loves nothing more than being covered in mud and throwing himself about on the pitch. Last Sunday we had an away match and it was utterly freezing - horrible spitty rain, soaked muddy pitches and bitterly cold. By the end of the matches most of the kids were in tears or at least making their distaste at the weather very well known, and half of the home team had actually left at half time. However, there was my son with bright red cheeks, wet hair sticking up at all angles and completely covered in mud, laughing his crazy little head off as he and his friend J went tearing off across the field back to the car when we were done. Absolutely loving it, the weather didn't bother those two one bit.
On our return to the car we realised that we had very stupidly forgotten the wet wipes, which led me to the idea for this post. I wanted to share the things that we (usually, clearly just not when we need them) take to rugby with us on Sundays, a list of what you should pack in the kids' kit bags and things to keep handy in the boot of the car. You won't need all of it every week, or maybe even at all, but it's useful to have - just in case.
Kit - H's lives in his bag, but he changes into it before we leave of course. H's kit consists of his club's short sleeved top, a pair of shorts, and knee socks, and he also has a training jacket for when it's particularly cold and/or wet. Under his kit he wears thermal leggings and a long sleeved base layer top to keep him warm, these are relatively inexpensive and H couldn't do without them. I bought his new ones at Sports Direct for less than £20 for both. We keep a beanie hat in his bag too but he rarely wears it.
Rugby Boots - I really shouldn't need to explain this one. We usually buy ours from Lovell Rugby or Sports Direct.
Gumshield - Vital! I also keep a spare one in my bag just in case H's goes for a wander.
Water Bottle - Or indeed two, H drinks a crazy amount and it'll save numerous journeys to the clubhouse to refill.
Snack - Something like a banana or a flapjack is good, take more if you're at a festival.
Spare clothes - Joggers or shorts, t-shirt, hoody, pants, & socks are all handy to have to change into after a match/training particularly if you plan to go in the clubhouse after.
Change of shoes - Most of the kids at our club wear crocs or similar, I have noticed.
Wet Wipes/Tissues - For muddy hands/legs/everything, general cleaning, a quick wipe down of child's face after post-match hot dog, there is pretty much nothing that you can't use a wet wipe for. Tissues for runny noses out in the cold.
Bin Bags/Carrier Bag - Ideally a large wheelie bin liner size, for the back seat of your car after a particularly wet/muddy match or training day. Also keep a spare for muddy kit and a carrier bag for boots.
Folding Chair/Picnic Blanket - We always forget to bring ours, though we have several of both, particularly handy for festivals which can last all day. The blanket can be used to wrap chilly children in the Winter months.
Flask with hot drink/Change to buy food & drink - There is almost always somewhere to buy a coffee and a bacon roll, so if you haven't brought your own refreshments take some cash.
Wellies/Umbrella/Gloves (for you) - Trust me.
linked up with #TheList.
Monday, 18 January 2016
|Wednesday 20th January||Home-made turkey meatballs with tomato & herb sauce and spinach (served with spaghetti for the kids)|
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
It has never just been about a dress size or how I look to others, I knew that I wasn't taking care of myself and that it wasn't healthy to be overweight and unfit no matter how much I liked cake and sitting on the sofa. That wasn't the example I wanted to set for my kids either, I don't want them to think it's okay to be unhealthy because it isn't. It's fine to have treats, to enjoy chocolate and ice cream, but it has to be within reason and there has to be a balance. I didn't have that balance, but now I do and I am also making sure that they have it too. I also didn't just want to go on a diet and lose weight, that wasn't good enough - a perpetual state of calorie counting and turning the dessert away was never going to work for me. Joining Project 6 Pack has enabled me to lose weight, tone up, improve my fitness, and given me knowledge and understanding of nutrition and how to fuel my body in the right way - meaning I don't have to feel guilty when I treat myself to something or have a 'cheat meal'. This is a lifestyle, not a diet.
Aside from the obvious benefits of training, it has done wonders for my mental health - I came home from the gym the other evening and L said to me "You always seem like you are happier when you have been to class", which speaks for itself. I do feel better, it does make me happier, which in turn makes me a better mum. I don't want to be run down and tired all the time, eating well and exercising enables me to be the best mum I can be and we all - my family as a whole - reap the rewards of that. It's 30-60 minutes a day, a few times a week. Out of all the hours a day I spend doing things for other people, to be honest it is the very least I can give myself.
2015 saw me lose a lot of weight and make huge changes to my body, so what for 2016? I've thought about it a lot and I still don't really know what I want to achieve. I feel I have achieved what I initially set out to do. So what now? I've signed up for the next round of Project 6 Pack which starts next week and I fully intend on continuing to attend classes as I have been. I don't want to lose any more weight but I love the social aspect of the classes as well as the fitness, I have made some great friends and we always have a good laugh (when we're not gasping for breath and trying not to throw up). We had a great night out for our Christmas party & awards, when I was awarded "Most Famous Bottom" because to be honest most everyone has seen my before and after pictures now.
I think that my main aim for this year is going to be toning, concentrating on my lower body, and also improving my form so that I can get the most out of the classes and PT sessions at the gym with Laura. I'm excited to see what I can achieve in another year.
Monday, 11 January 2016
|Spaghetti & home-made meatballs|
Wednesday, 6 January 2016
In September 2014 I travelled to the Greek Island of Rhodes with Mark Warner Holidays after winning a place on their Blogger trip to Levante Resort. I thoroughly enjoyed a few days away with some lovely ladies and lots of fun and relaxation was had. Also cocktails.
At the beginning of the October half term we packed up the car and headed down to Mullion in Cornwall for a long weekend. We took the opportunity to make the most of the natural beauty of the area, visiting National Trust sites and enjoying coastal walks and delicious Cornish ice cream! We look forward to visiting again very soon.
In March 2015 the Mister and I set off for Adelaide, South Australia for a friend's wedding, it was the trip of a lifetime and I can't wait to go back again. I've completely fallen in love with Oz & I hope to be able to take the children next time because I know they'll love it just as much as we did. A beautiful country with so much to see & explore.
In June 2015 we were offered a last minute getaway with Mark Warner Holidays to their San Lucianu Resort in Corsica. We were at the end of a very long, difficult school year with L and it was the perfect opportunity for us to have a week away and recharge. Corsica is beautiful and San Lu is a fantastic resort for kids. Highly recommended.
October 2015 brought with it our week away as #MarkWarnerMum family ambassadors, we stayed at Lakitira Resort in Kos during half term and got to enjoy everything Mark Warner has to offer a family like ours - an inclusive holiday experience for teens and tweens as well as little ones, and outstanding provision for special needs children within their kids clubs, at no extra cost. What more could we ask for!
We are currently in the planning stages of holidays and days out for 2016 although the Mister has already surprised me with a trip to NYC this March! I can't wait to visit and see all of the sights, and will be sure to share our highlights and photos from our trip here on the blog and on instagram using #NYCSheps. Where will 2016 take you?
linked up with #MarvMondays
Tuesday, 5 January 2016
A couple of weeks before Christmas our family welcomed a brand new addition - my very first great niece, Clara Eloise, was born to my niece Chloe, and she is absolutely breathtaking. She reminds me so much of Chloe when she was a baby, she looks just like her. I went and visited them both in the hospital with my sister for new baby squishes and walking into the maternity department where my first and last babies were born brought all of the memories flooding back. It's coming up six years since my youngest, E, was born, and almost eighteen since I had my eldest (don't - I can't believe it either) but memories from pregnancy and birth always stay with you - the good and the bad.
I was very fortunate and had five straightforward pregnancies and deliveries. The most exceptional thing to happen was my fourth baby weighing a whopping 10lb 1oz when the other four all weighed between 7.5 and just under 9 pounds each. I have no idea what happened to H but I can only assume it had something to do with all the Mars Bars.
During all of my pregnancies I was inundated with (mostly unsolicited) advice and stories of personal experiences of labour and delivery. Some people seemed to want to share the most horrific of stories, almost as if they wanted me to be scared, and often it seems painted pregnancy and birth in a negative light. You couldn't say anything without someone putting their two cents in... "I'm tired" was met with "Oh you think you're tired now, just you wait!", or "I've had enough now, can't wait for baby to arrive" got "Babies will come when they're ready, just be patient" or "You could have weeks left yet if you go over!" because simply passing comment that you were tired/uncomfortable meant that you were somehow insisting baby be born immediately. Yes yes, we all know how long a pregnancy lasts thanks - you are allowed to whinge a bit when you get to the end, it is allowed. Even with my fifth, people still said the same things as if I wasn't fully aware - the difference was by then I knew to tell them what to do with their 'advice'. I understand that most are well meaning, but sometimes just a simple "I'm sorry to hear that, hang in there" will suffice, or perhaps an offer to help in some way if you can - cook dinner, babysit other children, do the washing up or even just make them a cup of tea!
I remember how uncomfortable I was in those last few weeks of pregnancy (that seem to last years - especially if you go overdue like I did 4/5 times), my maternity wardrobe consisted of comfy stretchy black trousers, ruched 3 quarter length sleeve jersey tops and my trusty maternity jeans though to be completely honest I could quite happily have spent the last trimester in my pyjamas if it had been socially acceptable.
If you're not dealing with pregnancy and birth advice you can often find yourself subjected to everyone's opinion on your baby name choices. By the time we had E, we just kept it as quiet as possible because frankly it was nobody else's business. On top of all of that, you then have to navigate the minefield that is new baby gifts - my niece specifically asked for books for Clara (with a very sweet little rhyme on the baby shower invitation), otherwise she probably would have been overwhelmed with all sorts of things she wouldn't have ended up needing or using. We bought her Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet & Alan Ahlberg and Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, two of our own personal favourites that I hope baby Clara will love & enjoy sharing with her wonderful mummy for many years to come, and just as much as my own children have.
Monday, 4 January 2016
I have treated myself to The Body Coach's new #LeanIn15 recipe book and I am keen to give his ideas and recipes a go alongside my own fitness training, so you'll be seeing a fair few of his meal ideas on my planner for the foreseeable. His 15 minute meals are perfect for a busy mum like me as well as being healthy and suitable for my whole family to enjoy, not only that - they work alongside the nutrition advice from Project 6 Pack & most can be pre-prepped and made ahead - meaning everyone's a (lean) winner.
|Wednesday 6th January||Indian Spiced Lamb with broccoli and mange tout|
Friday, 1 January 2016
I've split this in two so it's not some enormous overwhelming post, because I'd actually like people to read it and I know for me breaking it down makes it so much easier to digest. If you'd like to read My Big Fat 2015 Review - January to June, just give that link a click. Right, where was I? Oh yes, July...
J U L Y
After our wonderful trip to Corsica, I shared our experience of flying with a child with Autism. On our return, we planned our Summer Bucket List for 2015, full of all the things we wanted to do together over the Summer holidays. We got most of it done too including the Summer Reading Challenge at the library, making our own lollies and enjoying the occasional nothing day because sometimes getting dressed and going out is just too much. We had a magical afternoon out at the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio for their Sweets & Treats feature, and then at long last it was the end of term for which we were all very grateful because we were all quite frankly just completely knackered. At the end of the month, A celebrated her 17th birthday.
|[JULY] Because Nans love Harry Potter, too.|
A U G U S T
We kept our Summer activities cheap & cheerful by doing things like feeding the ducks, going to the park, and swimming, and Bath Rugby club put on a fab free family day out at The Rec for their 150th anniversary celebrations. We also went to the cinema (certainly not cheap but has to be done) to see the brilliant Inside Out which we absolutely loved. It was time for my 30 week weight loss results and progress update, and I took time to reflect on our family time together over the Summer as we prepared for a new (& A's last) school year. During the school holidays, L turned 12.
S E P T E M B E R
It's back to school time, but we haven't taken any time off over the Summer. E & H completed the Summer Reading Challenge again, and E passed badge 8 at gymnastics. I kept everything crossed for a smooth beginning to year eight for L, after the rocky beginning and end he had unfortunately experienced in year seven. This month I took part in the Bath Midnight Walk to raise money for Dorothy House Hospice Care as well as celebrating my birthday... with a day at the zoo...
|[SEPTEMBER] Their excitement about their return to school was almost palpable.|
O C T O B E R
October rolled around and we were all back into our routine, the kids were all back at their clubs and sports including H's rugby, and I completed my sixth round of Project 6 Pack. Half term came along which meant that it was time for our #MarkWarnerMum ambassador holiday to Lakitira Resort in Kos which we were all so excited for and had looked forward to all year. Taking teens on holiday and coping with Autism abroad is no mean feat but we had the most fantastic and memorable time away - enjoying life's simple pleasures & building up J's confidence.
N O V E M B E R
The month before Christmas, and the month that H turned 10 years old - double digits! With Christmas fast approaching I mused over the price of stocking fillers, and shared some ideas for gifts for older teenage girls. It was also a year since I had made the decision to join Project 6 Pack, and what a year it had been - by the end of the month I was about to complete my seventh round! I am still very much a work in progress and there is so much more that I know I am capable of and that I want to achieve, but I have come so far. [If you like, you can follow my progress on Instagram.]
|[OCTOBER] Chocolate-ice-cream-faced child photobombs selfie.|
D E C E M B E R
This month E earned a spot on the development squad at gymnastics and started additional training, and also passed her recreational badge 7. The festive season was in full swing and we planned our Christmas menu right down to the dessert. December had been a flurry of activity, so much to do and prepare for before 'the big day' - shopping to be done and presents to wrap. We managed to get it all done had the most wonderful day, and under the tree on Christmas Day was an extra special present for me that I knew nothing about - the Mister has booked us a trip away to the place at the top of 'must-visit' list and I am now counting down the days! New Year's Eve was spent at home just the seven of us (though A worked until late) and we welcomed in 2016 with fireworks on the telly and a glass of fizz for the grown ups.
I'd like to finish by saying how much I appreciate everyone's continued support, for reading my blog and commenting, for sharing my posts, for interacting with me on social media so I'm not (always) talking to myself. For all of the amazing opportunities I have had this year, for travelling with me, for laughing with me (and at me), for basically caring enough to come back and visit my little corner of the web time and time again. From the bottom of my heart - thank you.
"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." - Neil Gaiman.
H A P P Y N E W Y E A R .
|[DECEMBER] I'm past waiting for all of them to be looking the right way and smiling normally.|
Let me start by wishing you a very happy new year, whatever you have planned & whoever you are planning on doing it with - I hope 2016 brings you everything you want and more. I know that for me, 2015 was pretty bloody brilliant and I can only hope that 2016 will follow the same trend. I met some amazing people who have touched my life in ways I can't even describe, I don't think I'll ever be able to make them understand the difference that they have made to me physically, mentally and emotionally, and the things they have done to my body! I have occasionally ended up covered in bruises, & I've ached in places I didn't know existed but it has absolutely been worth every minute.
J A N U A R Y
Here is where my story began, the start of my lifestyle overhaul and my first tentative steps into the world of health and fitness. I had no idea what I was doing and it was scary, but I got on with it and was determined to see it through. I had to learn how to eat better and I struggled my way through the exercise classes but three weeks in, I had made amazing progress which spurred me on to keep going. At the end of the month I introduced the newest addition to our family, our miniature dachshund Joseph (aka Joey), and also shared some proud moments and achievements by the children, because as I said then - "Children can be exhausting and infuriating at times and as a mum of five I am fully aware of that, but I firmly believe in celebrating their efforts and achievements because as well as all of that, kids are just bloody amazing and should be told so every day."
|[FEBRUARY] When you take teenagers out for a birthday meal.|
F E B R U A R Y
February brought with it J's 14th birthday, and some reflection where I mused about how to raise a successful human being. With my eldest fast approaching 18 and J now almost 15 I often find myself wrestling with my desire to mother them as I always have, and the understanding that they need to start doing more for themselves and accepting more responsibility. We are still finding the balance but mostly, it's going 'Ok' but we have some time before A heads off to uni to get it right and prepare her for an independent life outside of our home. I also reached the end of my first six week course of Project 6 Pack and shared my progress pictures and weight & inch loss results.
M A R C H
In March we were busy planning for E's 5th birthday in April including choosing some Frozen themed gifts fit for a snow queen, and getting arrangements finalised for her party before the Mister & I headed off to the land down under for a friend's wedding, which was absolutely out of this world. After making it through the long haul flight, we visited some beautiful places including Cleland Conservation Park, Glenelg, and Semaphore, and had the most wonderful time - I can't wait to go back again, but with the kids next time because I know they would love it as much as I did.
|[MARCH] This may look sweet, but I am actually rather terrified.|
A P R I L
It had been three months since I changed my diet and lifestyle, and while it was still a challenge I was getting into the swing of it by now. We also celebrated my favourite time of the year, Easter, in the glorious Spring sunshine with lots of fun and delicious seasonal food and of course last but certainly not least, my little E turned 5 years old.
M A Y
In May it was time for the primary school's annual swimming gala, and this was H's second year competing. He is a great swimmer, and can't wait to do it all again this year. At the end of my third round of Project 6 Pack I shared my 18 week weight loss results and progress pictures as well as some of my own hints and tips for a successful lifestyle change. In addition, I shared some of E & H's own successes at school and in sport, and packed H off on his very first school residential trip. At the end of the month we enjoyed an impromptu family trip to the beach on the train, something I have fond memories of from my own childhood.
|[APRIL] Happy Birthday Mini Moo|
J U N E
A local village puts on their fantastic scarecrow trail in June every year, and 2015's theme was Heroes & Villains. It was so much fun, I can't wait to see what they do this year. This month I also completed my first 5k, the Race for Life in Bath with some friends from P6P. I took time to reflect on the first six months of my health and fitness progress and shared my 24 week weight loss before & after pictures. They still amaze me even now, I can't believe what I have achieved. We jetted off on a last-minute trip to San Lucianu in Corsica with Mark Warner Holidays at the end of June, which meant a whole new challenge of maintaining my diet & fitness on holiday, and the kids got to test out their sea legs and try some awesome watersports during an amazing and very much needed break in the sunshine.
C O M I N G U P . . .
|[JUNE] Five out of seven in beautiful Corsica.|