Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Gallery - Friendship

I've decided to have a go at this this week. This is for week 13 of the Gallery at Sticky Fingers and the theme is Friendship.

I've chosen a picture of my two children for this post.

This picture was taken just over a year ago. It was the morning of Monkey's 4th birthday party, which he shared with another child from nursery. The party was fancy dress optional and I decided to take some pictures of them in their finery. I have several standard poses of them stood up and smiling at the camera, but after a couple, they insisted, almost as a unit, that I take a picture of them like this.

This sums up my children. They were born around 16 months apart. It had to be that way because I was past 40 when I had Monkey and although I didn't adjust well to new motherhood with a baby that rarely slept, I knew by the time he was about 4 months old that I wanted him to have a sibling and therefore as time was not on our side, we'd have to start trying again fairly soon. Thankfully and rather scarily, it happened quite quickly and I found out that I was pregnant when he was 7.5 months old.

People thought I was mad, but the fact is that a 16 month old can't really be jealous of another baby as well as having similarish needs and Monkey soon forgot that there was ever life as the single most important person in the house. Yes, it was hard but not impossible, particularly as the second one was a girl and she was a dream to look after. Now that they are older (Monkey is 5 and Missy Woo will be 4 in July), it's like having twins although now, the gender gap is beginning to widen slightly and they're getting different interests.

Monkey started talking around the time that Missy Woo came along. His first word was "sister". (His second was "digger" - I think we know where his priorities lie.) They have always been exceptionally close. They have that close kind of friendship that only siblings close in age can really have -people often ask me if they ARE twins, which seems apt. They love each other but they hate each other too at times. They both instantly covet what the other has got. They fight over who gets prime spot in the car (oh, for them being in different stage car seats) and then, when it's most convenient for me to have them choose the same thing, they want different. It's frustrating but fun at the same time.

When they were at nursery together, Missy Woo got a bit unsettled when she moved rooms on reaching 2.  Whenever she cried, the staff just took her into Monkey, who gave her a big hug and she would cheer up. She got unsettled again when he started at school but it was more serious this time because Monkey was not there to give her a hug. It took longer to get over but we got there. She can't wait to go to school like her "big" brother. Hopefully, they won't need Monkey to provide hugs in class this time.

I chose this photo because I think it sums up their friendship. They are beautiful children, but full of mischief too. Missy Woo is the brains of the operation and Monkey is the brawn. They both blame each other when they are caught having done something naughty or destructive. Maddening but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Back on the wagon

Since February, I've been trying to lose weight and have been fairly successful so far. My strategy is twofold - I track my food on FoodFocus and keep it under enough to aim for about 1lb loss per week, and exercise using  EA Sports Active on the Wii.

Of late, the latter has been more successful than the former. I've now completed the 30 day challenge 3 times - once on the medium setting and twice on the hard setting and I've just started another. However, being away so much in the last month, the food side of things has definitely slid. Now, generally, I've been carefulish about what I'm eating but I know if I don't start being more contained, I will slide back into not caring and then put it back on. If I do what I perceive to be over-eating, I tend to avoid logging my food. And that's bad too. When I was away at the NCT conference last week, I got photographed several times and I realised that I still have a way to go, I still look larger than I want to even though my clothes are looser. The fact is, they aren't quite as loose as they were. This has got to stop. All my mad weekends are over now, so there is no longer anything that allows me to procrastinate any further.

So, I started again this week. As it turned out, some of my days have not been that good eating wise - partly due to bad planning on my part and being out at things over mealtimes. However, I have forced myself to log as much as I can. And really, you know, I've been pleasantly surprised. I've only gone over my allowance on one day by maybe 100 calories. And even today, where I was at a kids party at lunchtime, I am under and still room for perhaps a little treat later.

Maybe the logging of food is restraining me. Maybe trying to keep myself in blissful ignorance means I give myself permission to overeat so really, the answer IS to log everything and build it in. It is too early to see results, but I'm feeling better about it already.

I will get where I want to be - and I have a very clear image of what that is, and it doesn't involve me being stick thin - because this is the one thing I am doing, just for me. Me, and no-one else. This wagon is made for one, and right now, it feels very good to be on it.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Well, hello again.....

Um, it's been a while. Sorry.

The last month has just been *chaotic*. First, thanks to the airspace reopening, we went to Barcelona for 3 nights to celebrate a significant birthday of mr k. We ate at Asador de Aranda for one of the most memorable meals I think I have ever had, we went to the Nou Camp for a game on the same day and we got last minute tickets to see Joaquin Cortes. It was a lovely trip and we stayed at The Patio which was unbelievably peaceful considering it was in the heart of the city.

We got back from there, just about got unpacked and sorted when we then headed south for the bank holiday weekend to stay with my mother. mr k wanted to go on a Chi Running course in London so stopping there was convenient. Unfortunately, the course started at 9am on Sunday morning. In south London. With no feasible means of mr k getting there on time, so muggins had a 2 hour round trip to take him there.

Again, we get back from there and barely time to had to unpack before I was onto the next thing. One of the things I do is volunteer for the NCT and it was my local branch's Nearly New Sale on the following Saturday. That in itself is a busy day but this time was different. Firstly, I'd "sold" flyers to local businesses in that we charged them to put their flyers in our bags. Said bags had to be stuffed so we held a "bag stuffing" night at our house on the Tuesday and then our usual meeting to check on final details. It was a late night but worth doing - it costs us nothing, but we raised £280 by flyer sales alone. Worth doing.

On top of that, I had to get items ready for sale as I was also selling and keep on top of normal life. Then, on the Friday, I had to take the children to their swimming lessons for it was test week before heading down to the sale venue to help get it all set up. On any other normal Friday, mr k would have been around to take the children to swimming but with true perfect timing, he was at a wedding. Great.

Saturday was a long day. Until recently, I was the branch treasurer so I was working alongside my successor showing her what to do on the day. It was busy, but ultimately so rewarding. We'd moved venues and not only, moved our sale to a whole new town, so you can imagine how pleased we were when we realised that takings were up 10% on last May and on a par with our November sale, which is normally busier. Our new venue, a sports hall in a secondary school, was excellent and people came. We reckon we had as many people through as at our old venue and it would appear they stayed longer and bought more. For the first time in a long time, I didn't have to visit the nightsafe after so when I walked in the door at 4pm, I was told "You're early" which said it all.
That, still, was not the end of it. As we sell on behalf of sellers, we have to add up their shares and pay them out. As a result, I came away from the sale with a file full of tags which I had to check and enter on a spreadsheet which does all the calculation. Thankfully, that only takes an hour but we also meet up to write cheques and stuff into envelopes on the Thursday after the sale. Which took me out another night and I really needed to go as I needed to explain to new treasurer what to do next. It all got done and in record time. We are a bloody great team, our branch, and we are AWESOME, let me tell you. ;)

And still, not the end. The very next day, I was off to Telford. Cue much running round from me to pack for me and children etc. The reason we were heading there was the NCT's Big Weekend which was the charity's annual conference and AGM. Normally, it's my weekend away but this year it was more of a family event so the family came and went off whilst I did "my job" - which, for this weekend, was as Regional Coordinator for the North West region. With the other coordinators from other regions, we had a slot on the Saturday which we had to rehearse. Oh yes, be afraid. Be very afraid. I went along with it but there are other more extrovert (believe it!) members of the team who had been paying more attention during the week and therefore took a more prominent role.

I also ran a workshop on the Sunday morning - which technically meant I was a speaker which got me free lunch on both days. However, this did not go to plan. I had some lovely slides on a USB stick but the PC I used wouldn't load the file properly. To make it worse, I knew the file was stored somewhere on the internet, the internet connection was slow, and when I did get there, it wouldn't let me download it. So, I winged it. I had 30+ treasurers turn up and we just talked amongst ourselves, sharing tips, explaining how to do things. Much more interactive and everyone seemed to enjoy it, barring the lady who hadn't got a clue and seems reluctant to use the accounts system.

However, on the whole, I loved the whole event. There is normally a point each conference where something makes me cry and this year, there were two. First was a lady who was speaking in the same session as our slot. She was, as it turned out, a former president of the NCT and had been involved for many years. She spoke eloquently about her work as a rep working on maternity services liaison committees, as well as training other reps and even NHS staff to work more effectively. At the end, she mentioned that her husband had recently retired and that perhaps she should too when her voice cracked. She spoke for the last 5 minutes through tears - she obviously has a huge passion for the NCT and its work, she feels she's getting on but she just can't let it go because every little bit of work makes a difference.

The second time came a short while afterwards. When the main session reconvened in the big hall, an unscheduled speaker was announced. It was Gwen Rankin, who was a founding member of the NCT. I found out later that she is 82 and whilst slightly dodgy on her feet, her mind is absolutely 100% spot on and with it. She spoke well, amusingly and touchingly and just listening to her speak made tears spring into my eyes for perhaps the second time in an hour.

There were other highlights too. A new president got elected and in my view, the right candidate won, a lovely lady called Sue Saxey. Good luck to her in her 5 year term although I'm sad it is the end of Gail Werkmeister's term as President - Sue has a lot to live up to! James McQuillan, the funny bloke from The Apprentice last year, made a hilarious speech and also made friends with my fellow regional coordinator, Geraldine. And to close conference, Davina came to conference and interviewed Ina May Gaskin on stage, who then went onto talk about her work on The Farm Midwifery Center in the US. She is truly an inspirational woman who has worked against the tide of medicalisation of birth in the US and round the world.

Beyond that, I laughed. Conference is normally how I catch up with the fantastic ladies I share my "job" with. And we did have a blast. Even the 6.30 fire alarm on the Saturday morning turned out funny in the end.

So, erm, that's it. As you can see, I've done bugger all these past few weeks. To recover, I sloped off to Titanic Spa  on Tuesday night for some peace and quiet and it was fab. Tomorrow will be the first Saturday I've had at home with nothing planned for over a month (tho the men of the house are going to Wembley tomorrow to see Blackpool in the play off final).

I may be very lazy tomorrow, but hell, I'm going to enjoy it.

Do you forgive my absence now?!
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