Monday, 29 September 2008

And another one bites the dust

Yup, I've waved goodbye to another pound of lard. Not quite sure where it has gone from, but frankly, so long as it has gone, and for good, I'm not going to enquire too deeply. Possibly as a consequence of this vanishing act, I need some new jeans. Perhaps my arse has been silently shrinking this week?

Not that I've got any money left for purchasing new jeans. After much discussion, we decided that it was time to give the Kids some pocket money. Thus far, we have avoided this issue simply by occasionally chucking them the odd pound here and there, but a few things struck me. In bygone times, when I was a child, a pound pocket money would buy me a comic, some sweets and some caps for my gun, with even a bit left over to rattle around in the bottom of my money box. These days, a pound might buy them the use of a shopping trolley for half an hour but that's about it. Additionally, it seemed to me, having random lumps of cash appear gives them no sense of the value of money, and no idea about budgeting.

So, we have elected to give each child a lump sum on pay day, to last the month. A pre-determined amount is to be put into a Charity Box, and similarly, they have to put the same amount each month into a Holiday Savings Jar. Taxes, if you like.

The contents of the charity box will go towards filling next year's shoeboxes. For the remainder of the money, we will pick out a couple of charities each year and get the kids to research what it is they do and how they help; the kids can vote which one gets the contents of the jar. The Holiday Savings Jar is to pay for some kind of treat/excursion on our annual summer holiday - to be voted on by the children. They will also be expected to buy a small Christmas present for granny.

They have a couple of basic daily chores that they have to do, and on pay day, their room has to be tidy or no dosh. Once they have put their donations and savings into the relevant jars, the rest is theirs to do with as they will. However, they have a list of things that they are now expected to pay for: sweets, magazines, toys, texts and phone time for the two that have phones, tuck shop money for school discos, general crap purchased at church fairs and so on and what I consider to be "unnecessary" clothes (fancy dress items from Asda for instance).

I am hoping that this arrangement will help them learn to budget, appreciate the value of hard-earned cash, and actually, save me a small amount because now I have a record of who's getting what instead of the constant drip-effect that we were suffering before.

And on Saturday, we had our first family outing with children who had money in their pockets. It was interesting to see how my three very different offspring dealt with this new situation.

Kid-in-the-middle and her Little Sister both wanted to go to Build-a-Bear to purchase outfits for their existing teddies.

Little Sister wanted glitz and glam, and carefully dragged me around the whole shop, asking the price of each glitzy and glamorous outfit. I pointed out that if she bought one of these, she'd not have any money left for the tuck shop at the school disco this month, and wouldn't be able to buy a comic later on either. She then made me work out how much money she needed to keep back for these items and dragged me back round the shop looking for an outfit that didn't cost more than she now had.

Kid-in-the-middle ran round the shop in the manner of a deranged granny at a jumble sale, grabbing seemingly random items and without once checking the price. She had a gleam in her eyes: I can get STUFF! We made her add up the total cost of all this stuff and it became apparent that her budget wasn't as amazing as she'd first thought. Reluctantly she put some of the stuff back on the shelves. I wasn't going to stop her spending every last bent ha'penny, but I did feel duty bound to point out that if she did this, there'd be no halloween disco, and no sweets, and no texts for her phone. Looking less like a triumphant bargain-bagger and more like a man heading for the gallows, she trudged back round the shop and deposited a few more items back in their original places.

We left Build-A-Bear, proudly sporting shopping bags, for the first time ever, and headed to Game where Eldest Kid wished to spend his money. Or at least, I say that, but Eldest kid wasn't in a hurry. He slowly perused the shelves. Twice. And then, he gravitated towards the section of the shop with the big "BOGOF" sign. Which he scanned, slowly, and several times. Eventually, he made his choices, and paid for two games with his birthday money. His pocket money was still intact. And no, he had no other purchases to make. He wanted to go home, play his games and stroke his money. That's my boy!!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is Kid-the-Eldest's 11th Birthday. Happy Birthday! It would also have been my mum and dad's 48th wedding anniversary - I'm sure today isn't easy for mum, but I hope she's thinking about the happy times they shared.

The boy wanted fish for his birthday, so yesterday we went to collect a shiny new fish tank from the pet shop. We also have a quarry-ful of gravel, a heater, light, filter, plastic plant and the smallest Orca ever seen. Tonight we'll have to start the process of setting up the tank - there's going to be much washing of gravel and arguments about where to set the tank and complaining from Kid-in-the-middle because she now wants fish. She requested (and received) a guitar for her birthday but seems to have forgotten all about this now!

Kid-in-the-middle is struggling with life. And oh boy are we feeling it. This last week, she was complaining, as is her wont, about how unfair it was that her elder brother is entering discussions about being allowed to get the train to town with his friend, while she, two years younger, is only allowed out to play in our immediate neighbourhood. We agreed that if she took her phone, and if she was making specific arrangements to meet one of her friends, she could go out of our small quiet estate and make her way to the large, new estate, complete with play park at the other end of the village. She made the arrangements, and having been told to return by 5.30pm, cycled off. Needless to say, she wasn't back by 5.30pm at all.

I wasn't home either, as I'd had to do an emergency run to the shops. (I only realised at 5pm that I'd neglected to buy any food this weekend. The prospect of five hungry mouths meant I had to go and brave the aisles. Certainly no-one else was volunteering for the job.) I came home at 6.30pm and The-Man-I-Married informed me that Kid-in-The-Middle had returned at 5.45pm to ask if she could stay out a bit longer and had been told yes, but to be back at 6.15pm. We waited half an hour before phoning around and scouring the village. No sign of her. It turns out that she'd left our house with one friend, and when that friend had been called home had wandered around to find someone else to play with; exactly the scenario we were trying to avoid. They were in yet another friend's garden. Why hadn't she phoned? Because she hadn't take her phone with her. She has been grounded for three days and "Village Privileges" have been withdrawn until after the October break. I am the meanest, most unreasonable mummy on the planet and, of course, I must love her big brother much more than her. Imagine a small yellow smiley face with its eyes rolling round at this juncture in the blog.

We are also struggling with homework issues. Two weeks ago she was given a project to do. It is to be handed in after the long weekend on Tuesday. Yesterday (yes, yesterday) she informs me that she and her two pals are going to do the work on Friday. Well, she can't; we're going camping on Friday and won't be here. The pals have told her that they're going to do the work on Friday without her and have essentially dumped her. And this is my fault. It's my fault that I've arranged a fun weekend away for all the family. It's my fault that they've left it until the last minute to do any work. It's my fault that her so-called friends are fickle and selfish. It's probably my fault that it's Tuesday.

Diet-wise, things are looking pretty good. I have rediscovered several items in my wardrobe that now fit properly again, although I haven't yet needed to go out and buy anything new. This is probably just as well, seeing as this morning I found a letter to dh telling him that his unpaid parking ticket was now going to cost us £90. I very nearly reached for the fridge in response to this, but at the last minute decided that a baseball bat would be more effective!

Today I'm wearing housework clothes, but later I'll be all decked out in....

Dark chocolate brown satin skirt - size 16 (rediscovered now that I've lost some weight finally!)

Bright mossy green top - size 16

Dark chocolate brown cashmere cardigan with feather trim - size 12

Stonking great 1920s-like high heeled flapper shoes

Oh my!!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Oh yay! Oh yay! Oh yay!

Good news from the western front. Two whole pounds of unwanted me have evaporated into thin air. I guess this means we're back on track! (Yes, that's a stack of track in the pic!)

This has been a busy week. I started out in recovery from two sleepover parties, and segued into ill health in the form of a virulent cold virus. Virulent virus....I likes that. Anyway, this meant lots of what my granny would have called "mullygrubbing" - hanging around the house going nowhere fast, achieving very little other than perhaps lots of mugs to wash. But not necessarily washing any of them.

In between bouts of idleness, I forced myself to function in the real world sometimes too. My mother has been away on holiday and asked me to go and pick her raspberries so that they wouldn't go to waste. This should have been a fun, rewarding activity as I gleefully harvested the delicious, free crop of juicy fruit. However it has rained non-stop for a fortnight and the raspberry canes were standing in what can only be described as a quagmire. It's not easy to scrabble around for raspberries while your boots are sinking faster than your heart and you're not sure if it's rain or snot that's dripping from your nose. Couple this with the presence of a lazy wasp that found its way into the car, purely, it seemed, for the purpose of terrifying kidlets and it didn't make for a whole heap of fun. Still, we got raspberries out of the deal; free-range organic and in purely monetary terms, not costing anything either. Although I might dispute that when I take into consideration the extra laundry!

What else did we get up to? Let's see. Well, since kid-in-the-middle started full time education, the school has introduced a range of initiatives to help parents feel more involved in the whole process. Five years ago, it was a case of "Your child has reached school age, we'll take her now, come back at three", and apart from the odd parent/teacher interview session, and the occasional mumble of "Nothing much", that's all you learned about what your kid was doing there all day. Now, they've got workshops and talks, and slideshows and Involvement Days. Consequently, I feel like I've been at school all week.

As well as the Numeracy Session that I was volunteered for (which turned out to be a Literacy Session, and involved me being in charge of a smart board and was really rather fun), I also attended a Literacy Workshop. Quite how this ended up with me being covered in glittery sand I'm not sure. It did seem a little bit like a hardsell timeshare presentation, with people being signed up as volunteers for all sorts of extra-curricular activities, but on balance I think it was "a good thing." At least this time, I know what the teacher looks like. When kid-the-eldest started school, I was labouring under the impression that the tall lady with frizzy hair was his teacher, and it was weeks later that I discovered that she was actually the classroom assistant; the woman I'd suspected of loitering with dubious intent was the teacher.

Saturday saw more raspberry-picking, and a mercy-stop at a rather pathetic coffee morning. I'd nipped into the church office to offer some apologies; I wasn't going to be able to help them out with the Harvest Festival flowers afterall as I had no-one to look after the kidlets. The-Man-I-Married is away in London, Mother is on one of the Orkney Islands and I can't stick flowers into oasis very well with three whiny children hanging off my knees. At least, not with any kind of positive result. So I was excusing myself from floral activities, but while there, was directed over to the church hall where they were evidently desperate for customers. It cost me six of my finest pounds to purchase a coffee, three orange squash (I sent up a silent prayer to the god of e-numbers to please be kind to me later on), three scones and jam and three strips of raffle tickets (non-winning variety). I'm still not sure what the coffee morning was supporting - at the rate my purse is being emptied lately, I might hold one in support of me.

Sunday was Harvest Festival. It has become traditional that instead of cans of soup and loaves of bread, the children bring in a Christmas-wrapped shoebox filled with gifts for a family in Romania. I'm assured that our church, and the organisation behind the boxes, don't add any literature to the boxes, and there's no requirement for conversion before the recipient can have their goodies. Assuming this to be the case, (because while I go to church, and believe whatever it is that I believe, I don't feel good about forcing other people to think the same way as I do), I actually love filling these shoeboxes. I started doing it after one of my miscarriages, as a way of remembering the person who wasn't with us. And each year, I'd fill a box with goodies for a child who'd be the same age as the baby who didn't make it. Now, I fill one for each of my living children, and it's like another excuse to play Father Christmas.

Last year, for reasons I've now forgotten, we neglected to take our boxes. Consequently this year, I had most of the bits and pieces already. I was feeling quite smug about being organised for once until Kid-in-the-middle asked in her loudest stage whisper "Is this all the stuff you forgot to give last year?" as we walked up the aisles.

During the service, one of the stalwarts stood up and asked for volunteers to deliver the festival flowers around the village. As I was already feeling guilty (and we're protestants...why I always have this Catholic Guilt thing going on I'm not sure...I blame all these ecumenical services) I volunteers not only myself, but my children and my son's best friend at the same time. Kid-the-Eldest was not happy. Kid-the-eldest was not shy about making this known. Kids with Aspergers don't really "get" tact and diplomacy and so I really should have been prepared for what came next.

We collect various bunches of flowers, all labelled and addressed, and head off for our first delivery. Kid-in-the-middle rings the doorbell and a rather frail elderly lady comes to the door. Her face lights up: flowers and company - what a treat. She's delighted and her delight is infectious. "Oh!" she says. "Oh! How lovely. Thank you so much. You've fair made my day. And you young kind to come and deliver them." We all smile back, beatific. Except for Kid-with-Aspergers. Oh no. He steps forward in a most determined manner and says "I'm glad you like the flowers but I think you should know that I'm here against my will. I did not volunteer and I wasn't given at least two week's notice that this was happening. I've been forced." Fortunately she was also deaf and just kept smiling at us. "Asperger Boy" was left in the car for the next delivery.

Talking of deliveries, the post man has just been. Harridan has sent cake and coffee. The coffee is for me, the cake less so. She couldn't have timed it better as Kid-the-Youngest said only last night that she wished we could have "that homemade melty pud". And now she can.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

And the incentive today is....

The good news about having a streaming cold is that I'm not hungry. The bad news is, all I want to do is crawl back to bed.

Today, I have been volunteered to go and help up at the school with a numeracy session. I have no clue what this is going to involve. Hopefully, given that it is a bunch of five-year-olds we're talking about, nothing too mind-stretching. For a long time, maths was never my strong point, and I find it interesting that I have two children who from early on have seemed quite switched on to it. I can only sympathise with Kid-in-the-Middle who struggles. I can sympathise, but she still has to get on with it. Now in year 5 of primary school, I've resorted to paying her to learn her tables. She might not be able to tell me what seven times eight is equal to, but she understands the concept of cold hard cash!

I am toying with the idea of walking up to school. The only snag is that I don't really wish to be seen in public with paper hankies stuffed up my nose en route. I know, it's not a nice image is it? Sorry.

I know that walking is the right thing to do; it's exercise which can only be good, and given the increasingly steep rise in the cost of living, it's also free which is probably even more of a plus point. It might even make me feel better. But oh I don't want to!! Perhaps if someone gave me a pound when I reached the top of the hill? Actually, today, I don't think a pound is enough. Fifty quid and I'll get my boots on.
Today I'm wearing:
Brown linen trousers, size 18, bit baggy around the waist - yay!
Cream smock top, size 16 - doesn't make me look preggers anymore, yay!
Cream ribbed cardigan, size 12, vaguely working on the S&T principal.
Footwear....undecided. Funky crocs or green suede walking boots...will update later!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Same old, same old

Quick update tonight. My weight stayed the same this week. Although judging by the quantities running out of my nose right now, I should be practically skeletal by next week.

Also, I tidied Kid-in-the-middle's bedroom for her this afternoon. OMG. You have never seen such a tip. She was moaning this morning that she didn't have any clean socks. I found about fourteen mismatched socks down the back of her bed. What does she do in there? I swear I'm getting CCTV. Or maybe I'm better off not knowing? Anyway, by the time I'd pulled all the furniture out, swept and mopped the floor, lugged bin bags of rubbish ("But I lurrrrrrrrve that bit of gravel. It was from granny's house. PLeeeeeeeeese let me keep this bag of broken buttons...."etc etc) and re-arranged the furniture again I ran out of energy for anything else.

I wonder what Rosemary Conley has to say about very stiff hot toddies?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Easy Like Sunday Morning


So, finally, it's Sunday. The day of rest. And finally, I can. The last couple of days have felt like I've been running some kind of marathon. Although actually, it was more like a game of catch-up. Don't let anyone tell you that sleepovers are easy!

Big kid, and Kid-in-the-middle were both born in September. Yes, I know. The-Man-I-Married only gets sex at Christmas. We've heard that joke before. (Kid-the-youngest disproves the theory. She must have been the result of too much self-medication at Halloween.) All of which means that this month, as well as our wedding anniversary, my parents' wedding anniversary, and sundry other relatives' wedding anniversaries, we have two birthdays to contend with.

Big kid turns 11 in a week or so, Kid-in-the-middle was 9 last week. Both wanted sleepovers in the tent in the garden. It seemed logical to do them both on the same weekend. Pah to logical says I. And never again.

It isn't the camping thing that's the issue. My lovely new tent goes up in around half an hour and is the envy of all who sail in her. Camping is my new best favourite thing. No, it's the organisation, the shopping, the baking, the decorating, the the thinking up games, the remembering cake candles, the last minute, "Did you get charcoal?" and the frantic re-cleaning of the house between parties and my stupid assertion to the lady at church that "Sure, I can do the flowers this week...I've not got much on", that have knocked this idea into Hades as far as I'm concerned.

Having said all that, don't listen to me. We've had a blast. Kid-in-the-middle had her party first: three friends, pinata, treasure hunt, pass the parcel, talent show, tacos and burritos, toasting marshmallows, birthday cake, DVDs and popcorn in the tent, chattering till 1am. Frightening themselves silly and de-camping to the house at 1.30am. More chattering till 3am, and up with the sparrows at 6.30am.

Then we did it all again. Only this time, apparently 11 year olds are too cool for school and didn't want pass the parcel. But they did want a treasure hunt and a pinata! And a BBQ, toasting marshmallows, birthday cake, DVDs and popcorn and chatting till 3 am. Thankfully, they managed the latter part without any help from me and I scooted off to bed early with the beginnings of a cold to keep me company.

Diet-wise, it could have been worse. It could have been better, but it could have been worse. I stuffed my burritos with more salad than sour cream and I had BBQ chicken not hot dogs. And more salad. But there were two birthday cakes to dispose of, wine was required for sanity purposes on Friday (one bottle over the whole weekend - The-man-I-married couldn't have any because he was dosed up on Tramadol following an emergency tooth extraction on Friday afternoon. He came home, way later than promised, looking like someone had punched his lights out, blood oozing from the side of his mouth, unable to talk. Halloween's next month matey!)

And now, finally, it's Sunday morning. The coffee pot is sizzling away, the cold I mentioned has burgeoned into a full-on snot-fest, there's chattering from the tent in the garden, but really, there's nothing for me to do. Well, nothing that needs doing right this minute anyway. I'm giving church a miss this only real prayer is that the flowers I flung together yesterday afternoon are still upright and that The-man-I-married is fit enough to go out and buy some Olbas Oil. Apart from that....nada. We've even got leftovers for lunch.

Today I'm wearing

Pyjamas mostly.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, nag. Please.

I have a friend, we'll call her Harridan, and she is nagging me. I don't like being nagged, but this is why she is a good friend. She knows, as I do, that the fact that I have updated neither blog nor food diary is not a good thing. She knows, as I do, that I've been slacking. I let myself get discouraged and gave up. And then I felt bad for giving up so I gave up some more. I'm not related to Spock that's for sure.

I dug out some old photos recently and was struck by the fact that right up until the age of about 25 I was a skinny little thing. A bit too skinny sometimes. But I never worried about food. I never iced a cake and worried that a nibble of marzipan would botch the scales. I never considered it a disaster if two days before my period started I ate enough chocolate, bread and pasta to feed three cows. Not that cows eat chocolate.....

I started to put on weight when I was living in America. All that food! In those mahoosive portions! But at that point, I was still active enough with swimming and daily gym sessions, plus a lorra lorra walking that it wasn't that much of an issue. It was when we came back to Scotland that the problems started. I went back to a desk job. At home. No walking anywhere, no free gym membership, no Californian sunshine to swim under, no motivation and a huge dollop of depression. And then I had a baby. Or three.

All this time, I was getting progressively bigger. After each baby, I lost the weight, but then gained more with the next one. And I thought, really thought, after losing all of it four years ago that I'd done it for good. I wasn't going to have any more babies, I was a slim, trim size 8-10 and life was good. Then dad died. And mum, having nobody else nearby, turned to me. Not just for grieving purposes - that would have been hard, but bearable. No, she wanted me to be dad, be her buffer against the world, save her from having to deal with it. And I am finding that job the hardest of all, because, frankly, I don't want it.

I know I can lose weight. I've done it before. And I know that the diet plan I'm (trying to) follow will work for me. But I have to find strategies for keeping myself on track when real life hits the fan. I'm great at sticking to stuff when it's going well. Aren't we all? And it's not that the diet wasn't going well, it was more that I had a psychological set back, when my new scales were reading heavier than the old ones. I had still lost over a stone in weight. I should have been pleased!

So, Harridan is nagging, and with good reason. She wanted me to update this blog and I have. Hopefully she's right, and my return to these little meanderings will also indicate a return to the straight and narrow path of the righteous and thinning.

Today I'm wearing:

Dark blue wide legged jeans, size 16
White tent-shaped blouse, size 16
Suede pointy boots with tassels
Earrings that Pat Butcher probably wouldn't wear

Monday, 1 September 2008

I had never realised quite how much I depend on the scales for reassurance. This last couple of weeks have felt awful, and all because I can't check what I weigh. As someone who likes to weigh themselves daily, this has been a struggle. Perhaps, if I buy some new scales, I'll leave them alone a bit more. Perhaps, I worked my scales to death?!

This morning, I hopped on the scales and after about 15 attempts, decided to go with the most likely reading....12 stone, 12lbs. This was the smallest loss that it gave me, and I knew I had lost something because the tape measure shows that my bust and waist are smaller.

If this reading is even vaguely accurate, it means that I've lost about 1 stone 4lbs over five weeks. I can't help thinking that this is mainly down to my reduced alcohol consumption; not only the lack of wine-cals but also the lack of snack-cals that go hand in hand with the wine-cals!

Kidlets are all benefitting from this diet too. Like most children, they lurve their puddings. When I'm not on a diet, I don't really "do" puddings. I prefer to eat three times as much of my main course and kid myself that it's alright because I'm not eating dessert. This diet is helping me to spread my calories out over three courses, without overindulging in any of them. This means that Biggest Kid gets a regular custard fix and Kid in the Middle thinks I'm the best mummy in Scotland.

We are about to start the third week of school since they went back after the summer. The routine that I thought might fall into place is still sadly lacking. I've decided to blame my husband. He's not a bad man, but he gets "ideas", and they usually involve drilling holes in my walls. Thus far, he has various projects on the go, including the garage, the study, Biggest Kid's room, Kid in the middle's room, and Kid at the bottom's room. There is also stuff happening in the dining room, the kitchen light is still languishing in the garage and I can't get into my airing cupboard for the big pile of "stuff" that he has deposited in front of the doors. He tried to start a discussion about "landscaping" the back garden but I gave him "the look" and so far at least he has backed off. The look is usually only a temporary measure and I may yet have to give him "the talk".

Today's outfit comprises:

Slouchy jeans, size 18.....won't be able to keep these up properly for much longer!
Orangey ethicnicky top, size 16
Fabulous tan suede pointy boots with tassles and heels you could kill with.
Concealer under my eyes....experimenting with ways to reduce the appearance of these shadows!