How did that happen ?

This week I became the proud owner of a teenager ! I’m sure it was only last week I was bringing home a tiny, but very noisy, bundle of joy. I blinked and he became a teenager…

He has been away with his dad for the last couple of weeks so I was looking forward to seeing him but wondering if I was going to get a hormonal, grumpy person back again. However, apart from growing a bunch, he’s still my lovely sweet boy.

For the last few months he’s been saving his money to buy a couple of ‘expensive’ items he wanted. So for his birthday he asked everybody for money to put toward them. And he did pretty well. One thing he didn’t know was that we had organised a holiday to Portugal for him, me and grandma. When I told him we are going to Portugal he assumed it was just the two of us, so I said ‘you have enough money to pay for grandma and still buy your new trainers’ (he doesn’t really) and he went and asked her if she’d like to come with us, which was when we told him she is already coming. Such a sweetie.

When we get home, from our next adventure, we will have a shopping trip where he can spend as much time as he needs, try on all the clothes and shoes he wants and hopefully come home with all the new things and some change (fingers crossed).

I’m leaving my allotment in the capable hands of two fellow plot neighbours, however the weather being as horrible as it has been I’ve asked them to only look after the greenhouse and the weeds can look after themselves !

 

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Health and well being

Recently I’ve not been feeling very good. My hernia popped a few weeks ago, not because of allotment digging but whilst sitting in work. And it’s been very uncomfortable. I managed to push it back but since then everything I eat sits very heavily high in my chest and makes me feel ill. Also working shifts has played an issue as eating later in the evening is really impacting too.

So I made a decision to try something different, I’ve tried it for a week now and it’s really made a difference but also some unexpected results too.

I’ve been having a yogurt/milk fruit smoothie for breakfast, with some porridge oats and a similar smoothie in the evening, when on a late shift (approx 3 times last week) and I have felt much better. I have used different types of fruit and change the combinations to vary the flavours, colours and textures to get the most vitamins, minerals and fibre possible. I have included nuts in some and oats in others. Also I’m having regular meals on the days I am home early enough to sit and eat with the family.

I’ve never been a regular breakfast eater, but I’m not finding it a struggle to have this as I can make it as thick or thin as I wish so can drink easily or take to work and slurp slowly during the morning. Also by pulsing rather than juicing I can leave ‘bits’ so have to chew a little making it last longer and more satisfying. Before starting this I would often not have anything to eat of a morning and be really hungry and grumpy by 11 o’clock and looking forward to finishing at lunchtime to get home and eat something, usually bread based and then suffer for it. However since having these I’m not feeling hungry, probably thanks to the slow release oats, and I’m not permanently thirsty.

I used to find myself making many cups of tea or coffee a day, and evening but when I’ve had the smoothies I’m not so thirsty, and this week has been exceptionally hot.

The biggest bonus is how I feel, less bloated even after eating a ‘proper’ meal, my skin looks and feels better too and I’ve lost 4 pounds this week but feels like much more as the bloating has gone, and my clothes feel looser so clearly it is having an effect. So I’m going to continue with this for the time being.

I’ve stocked up ready for the coming week, I have bananas, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, apricots, kiwis, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb and apples also walnuts and almonds. I’m mostly using fruit for these as I have plenty of veggies when eating my family meals. I’m hoping in the future to be using more home-grown fruit as they become available on the allotment. I have added ginger to some and honey in others, sometime just the fruit and no oats. They all have been different and I’m finding flavour combos that I like better than others but still lots to play with. I am using a natural yogurt and/or skimmed milk.

I’m going on holiday in a few weeks so any extra pounds I can lose is a bonus, especially as I’ve just bought my first ever bikini !

 

Another new job

Last summer after 14 months of working in the same place, on a temporary contract, work dried up and I was finished up. And so started the application process again, weeks of filling in forms and hearing nothing, then out of the blue a phone call and interview.

I started a couple of weeks later but the work and hours were not as described in either the application or the interview and I had no choice but to leave after a couple of months and back to the applying again. It was very disheartening.

Then out of the blue another phone call and another interview, after all the disappointments I didn’t hold much hope. I went along for an informal chat, which went well but again I wasn’t feeling very optimistic so when I got an email asking me to go for another ‘formal’ interview and tests I was surprised. It was a bit of a long shot applying for it, but sometimes you need to take the shot in the dark.

The second interview went well and the tests were simple enough, everybody seemed really friendly and chatty, busy but a good vibe about the place. I left with the words ‘we’ll be in touch’ I’d heard this before, so off I went shopping. I was just buying two new rose bushes for the allotment when my phone rang, I was offered the job ! I didn’t even need to think about it and accepted right there at the checkout.

I started at the end of November and it’s been a whirlwind few months, so much to learn, names, computer systems, and routines but everyone is really helpful and friendly. One thing that has come across since starting is the team-work is most important, they never recruit based solely on experience or knowledge but prefer to find someone who will fit with the team and a willingness to learn.

Just after starting my uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and they were so supportive and helpful during this very stressful time. In fact having a permanent, part-time job has given us stability. Being part-time means having time to work on the allotment, especially come summer and I can be around for Oscar.

One benefit of working is having a regular income and being able to have a holiday, but I’ll tell you more about that another time.

The ‘What If’ monster

This visitor decided to join our family recently and was a very unwelcome guest, who bought chaos and unhappiness.

It started about two months ago, when Oscar brought a letter home from school about options night, GCSE options ! Seriously, it feels too soon, where’s my baby gone. The letter explained that we would have a talk from the head of year about how the system worked and then would have the opportunity to chat to subject leaders to make an informed decision.

Oscar said he had already decided, with the compulsory subjects he was doing I.T,  geography and either art/music (or both). I was happy to support these choices. And then the monster appeared.

The closer we go to the school meeting the more we heard ‘What if’ ….

‘What if they don’t let me do the subjects I want ?’

‘What if they make me do subjects I don’t like or need for the job I want in future?’

At first I didn’t ignore the questions as such, but didn’t take the questions are seriously as I would a few weeks later. ‘They will’ ‘don’t worry about it’ etc, I didn’t realise how much he was worrying about and after a few weeks it was becoming unbearable because everything came with a ‘what if’ to the point that Oscar had started doubting and questioning every part of his life and even if it was worth living at all. He was refusing to do anything, go anywhere, other than school and home. He was struggling with everything, even sleeping and eating.

Once I realised how bad it was getting I needed proper help and spoke to a work friend, who is a trained counsellor, I explained what was happening, his behaviour and how he was coping. I had no choice but to acknowledge the fears and how great these where. So when he questioned ‘but what if’ I had to sit him down and show him I was taking it seriously and answer as fully as possible and discuss options for dealing with these fears. It wasn’t easy but over a few days he responded. It gave him security that the fears are serious and the options gave him choices, this put power back with him and slowly started building his confidence.

However the day of the meeting, and his fears hit a new high and panic set in, he got himself in such a state before we left that he had a panic attack. Thankfully I was able to talk him down and calm him, but he looked dreadful when we got to school. He couldn’t even make eye contact with friends and struggled to speak to his form teacher (who I emailed an explanation to later).

We listened to the talk, and looked through the information booklet and slowly he became more ‘Oscar’ again. He wanted to look at his chosen subjects to check they were correct for him. First was geography, one of his favourite teachers, but the subject matter for the exams didn’t appeal. However overhearing the history teacher chatting to another child/parent, he was suddenly interested. The first change of the night. Next we went to look at art (I didn’t want him to do this, but kept that to myself) again he said he wasn’t sure. Off we went, IT next, a no-brainer, always was going to be first choice and still was. But then P.E took his attention, and he started asking the teacher lots of questions, he was really interested. I’m not sure where it came from but he decided there and then, history, PE and IT, with music as an extra.

So after weeks of ‘what if they don’t let me do the subject I want to do ?’ he changed all but one of his subjects. I have used this to show him how fears can build and stop us doing things, or alter our opinions before we have all facts and information to make the right choices. Also life is flexible, and so are decisions, they can change often and that is a good thing. A choice made today could change tomorrow because circumstances change.

He is still doubting himself occasionally, but now he understands everybody does this, it is a normal thing, but not to focus on something going wrong beforehand, but deal with it afterwards, if it does and it probably won’t.

We won’t find out until later in the year if he will be given his chosen subjects, but there’s no reason he won’t and we will deal with whatever happens.

Life is very complicated and sometimes the pressure on kids is tough, but the pressure they put on themselves can be worse. Kids fears need to be taken seriously and as parents we need them to feel secure enough to tell us and be strong enough to help them deal with these, or find others who can help.

The biggest thing I have learned from this, TALK !

The latest (and last) reading challenge

I have attempted a reading challenge for the last 4 or 5 years but never completed one yet, mostly because there’s always at least one category that I can’t find a book for. Sometimes the categories are so random or vague that I spend more time researching than I get to actually reading, such as an epic romance, a 20th century classic, or a book with bad reviews.

So I took to good old Google for ideas for a new challenge and I found one that I know I can complete, although it will take longer than a year. The A-Z reading challenge, I am going to aim to read at least one book a month and will update the blog along the way. I’m not going to start at A and work to Z instead will read what I fancy and fill the gaps as I go. I will include E-books, as I read a lot of these on holiday,  but won’t include any audio books or podcasts.

I’m still enjoying listening to audio books too, especially when digging on the allotment, and I may run an A-Z audio book challenge also.

Any book recommendations will be happily received, here we go ….

 

Why ?

Why do I blog ?

It started a few years ago during a quiet spell in work, we were talking about our ages and things we wish we’d done by ‘now’ and it led to the 50 things list.

One of the things on the list was to start a blog, the original idea was that I would write about the challenges and the fun we had along the way, what I never expected was that life would throw some very difficult challenges my way, and that blogging would be one of the hardest things to do.

When I first started out it was easy, lots to write about, lots of ideas, but then life closed in and writing about it was really tough, so I found myself not doing it. However now, I’m in a better place, emotionally, and am enjoying setting myself time and routine to write about ‘me’ again.

Unfortunately the list was put on hold the last year or so, whilst I was looking for regular employment and concentrating on a stable family, and emotional life. Time is passing quite quickly so with only a few years left before the big 50 hits it’s time to get back to it.

I’ve been looking through the remaining ‘to do’ and have started making plans for some eventful experiences this year, although looking at the list I’m pretty certain some of these will never be done, so do I change the list, or leave them blank and unfinished ? and if I change them, what would I change them to ? Some of the challenges are very singular and I’d like, if possible, to make them a little more family based.

What do you think ? To change or stick ? Do I write a new list based on current circumstances, or wait until after the big birthday and start a new list ? Too many decisions… please help !

 

A day at the opera

I’ve always loved the ballet, the music, dance, grace and beauty but recently I’ve been seeing adverts and posters for opera performances, so for my birthday last year I was given tickets to see a filmed, live performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly from Glyndebourne.

We arrived at the beautiful Liverpool Philharmonic, and was greeted with a cold glass of Prosecco and  shown to our seats. The performance began, and from the opening of the first act to the interval everyone was mesmerised.

The costumes, stage settings, music and singing were beautiful. It was simply stunning. The performers were perfectly cast, Lieutenant Pinkerton had a very American soldier look, the marriage broker was very slimey, Cio-Cio San, the Geisha (Butterfly) had so much emotion, it was wonderful. Although I’ve never seen either this or Miss Saigon before I was aware of the story, and whilst it was sung in traditional Italian we did have the benefit of English subtitles.

During the interval we had a choice of a staying and having the full Glyndebourne experience with an indoor picnic or could venture out. We chose to pop across the road to an Italian restaurant and had an Italian Antipasto and Arrabbiata prawns with flat bread. It was delicious.

Then back for Acts 2 and 3, again the acting, singing and emotion was breathtaking. The lady next to me didn’t know the story and was very grateful when I handed her a tissue near the end. The experience was something I am looking forward to repeating, and will try at some point this year to see a live performance.

I would say, for anyone unsure about ballet, opera or even classic theatre the live screenings are a great introduction, especially for children. You get a look backstage, some insight into the production, cast, characters and story line.