Ignoring the Scales (For Now…)

Ignoring the ScalesAs most of you probably know by now, I’m on YET another weight loss mission having failed about a million times in the past, but I’m doing something a lot more enjoyable and sustainable this time in the hope that I can stick to it. I’m following a low sugar, high fat (ketogenic) diet as it’s been proven to reverse type 2 diabetes, something which is hugely appealing to me. I’ve got a family history of type 2, so theres still a chance I’ll need to be medicated even when I’m down to a healthy weight, but there’s also a good chance that it will reverse altogether.

Willpower is something I’ve struggled with in the past because food is as much of an emotional crutch to me as just simple nutrients but I’m at a point where I’m just so bloody bored of gorging on junk food all the time and the prospect of dying in my sixties (if I’m lucky…) because of a lifetime of greed is enough to make me get off of my arse.

One thing that I’m trying not to do is micro-manage my weight. Every time I’ve ever ‘dieted’ (I put that in inverted commas because I don’t actually see keto as a diet, it’s an eating plan that we should probably all be following on a much more regular basis for optimum health benefits), I tend to get fixated with the scales and weigh myself on a daily basis. This is negative for two reasons – firstly, not all victories happen on the scales. I’ve also started weight lifting, and this usually adds muscle and makes changes to the shape of your body, things which aren’t always positively reflected in terms of “weight”. Secondly, it puts me into a downward spiral of demoralisation.

Today is a prime example. Last week, I made a grand declaration that I wouldn’t be weighing myself until my birthday in mind-June, so that I got to see one big change rather than lots of little ones. However, curiosity after a week of eating well and exercising got the better of me and I stepped onto the scales and happily discovered that I’ve already lost half a stone since New Year’s Day ( YAY ME!). But this is where things go wrong – I weighed myself AGAIN this morning, only for the scales to show I’ve gained two pounds back again.

I can already feel the disappointment weighing heavy on me, even though the logical part of my brain is trying to tell me to chill the f*ck out. This is a marathon, not a sprint. SO many things can play a part in such tiny changes like hormones, water retention, even down to what clothes I’m wearing. But all of the logical explanations aren’t snapping me out of it.

There are various issues that I’ve had when it comes to weight loss, and keeping my head in the game after even the most minor of disappointments is one of the biggest. In the past, if things haven’t gone my way then it’s completely turned my head back around to the “screw it, I may as well binge again” mindset and that’s the demon I’m battling today, but battle it I shall. Instead of letting get the better of me, I’ve had coffee and biltong, I’m drinking water, I’ve taken my supplements and I’m going to the gym before I collect Sausage from school. As long as I stick to that plan and don’t wake up in an hour buried under 800 empty crisp packets, I reckon that’s a win…even if the scales ARE trying to sabotage me. Forgive me for tearing the arse out of the metaphor, but I think this is all about winning the little battles in order to win the overall war against my own laziness and greed.

I think i’ll start weighing myself either weekly or fortnightly – I need a little bit of feedback, just to motivate me and assure me that I’m moving in the right direction, but a six month wait will just be torture!

Tune in next week for “How to deal with toddlers who try to force feed you Quavers when you’re on Keto”. LOL. Not really.

Cleaning and De-Cluttering After Christmas

Post-Christmas Cleaning and De-ClutteringI don’t know about you, but when the tree finally comes down, it feels like a really good time for a big cleaning session and declutter. My kids are still at an age where their toys take up a LOT of room, and Christmas usually means finding even more room for all their stuff, so in order to maintain a tiny bit of decent living space (as well as hanging on to my ever-precarious marbles) I tend to have a bit of a blitz, including all of the things that don’t get cleaned as regularly. Here are a few things which get deep-cleaned at this time of year:

Glassware

Husband has quite a large collection of glasses, ranging from large litre-sized beer glasses from Europe right down to special vodka glasses, and everything in between. It’s not the sort of glassware which gets used every day and is kept on shelves in our dining room, so it does tend to collect dust and this is usually the time of year when it all gets taken down, washed and polished before being put back on the shelves.

Fireplace

Our wood burner gets used a LOT during the winter, in fact it’s roaring away as we speak, but it does need a good clean up every now and again. The ash gets thrown away each time we use it and I vaccum the hearth almost daily, but the glass on the front and the metal parts can get grimy and need a polish.

Doors and Light Switches

Unless you’re a cleaning machine like my friend Sam, there are probably areas of your house that you don’t even NOTICE until they got dirty and things like light switches and doors are a prime example. When you’ve got kids with grubby hands who insist on TOUCHING EVERYTHING, stuff gets sticky, which them attracts dust and can end up looking grubby. Now is the time to give them all a scrub.

Down the Back of the Sofa

If you’ve got a sofa with cushions on it, there’s a good chance that there’s a whole load of crumbs, dust, stray hairs and tony toys hiding down the back of the cushions. Get your vacuum pole down there and give it a good clean out, then a spray with Febreeze. It’ll freshen up your sofa and make it seem much nicer.

Inside Your Cupboards

Go through your cupboards and check the sell-by-dates on everything – I guarantee you’ve got at least one can of food which is well past it’s best. Get rid of anything you can’t use and if there’s anything which is still in date, the local food bank will probably make excellent use of it. This will also make cleaning the shelves a lot easier!

Redefining Relationships – A Reflection on 2016

Redefining Relationships - A Reflection on 2016As most of you probably know by now, I stopped contact with my mother in 2013, when I was pregnant with Burrito Baby. Although she’s tried to control the narrative, telling people that it was because she showed concern about my weight because of my pregnancy or that it was because I was being controlled by my Husband or that I was bipolar, none of these things are true and were constructed by her in order to make her look like the victim of the situation.

The facts are these: I was systematically groomed and sexually abused by a family member for several years of my childhood. The person in question was technically still a child himself (which, by the way, is NEVER a justification), but a lot older than me and certainly old enough to know that what he was doing was wrong. I never told anyone about this but my mother read about it in my diary when I was 13 and chose to ignore it. I was then forced to tell her about it when I got engaged to Husband because my whole family decided to attempt to bully me into inviting the person who abused me to my wedding.

In the years that passed after it came out, it was kept secret from certain family members and even those in receipt of the knowledge continued to maintain a relationship with my abuser. I’ve been questioned, accused of lying, treated like was the one in the wrong, told that it was “all too stressful” for my mother and that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Being told that “I can’t congratulate you on your pregnancy because the last one was stressful for me” was the final nail in the coffin for my relationship with that woman.

I mourned the loss of our relationship for a long time, but not the loss of HER, just the loss of a mother in any form. I felt like I’d been robbed of the chance to have a decent mother/daughter relationship and I felt hugely resentful to other people who had close, nurturing relationships with their parents.

After a while, it occurred to me that my life was actually less stressful. I realised that I’d spent my ENTIRE LIFE being the butt of their jokes, being called nasty names, being taunted for being a “calamity” (which, incidentally, was as a result of meningococcal septicemia leaving me with gross motor function issues), having the mickey taken out of me for the way I walk, my weight, the way I held my bag, having my self-esteem chipped away bit by bit.

What it also made me realise is that relationships aren’t defined by blood. My husband, the one she’d accused of being controlling (seriously, can anyone who knows how much of a gobshite I am REALLY imagine me being controlled?!), has my back constantly and reacts with love and raw emotion when he thinks I’m being mistreated, something she never managed to do. I’ve forged friendships with people who GET me and who’ve been properly fucking loyal to me in a way that certain blood relatives have never been.

Let’s not forget my Dad. The man she worked SO hard to decimate in my eyes, to destroy our relationship beyond repair so that he’d never get a look in. He’s man enough to admit that he made mistakes in the past and hasn’t always been a perfect parent but he’s been there, properly been there for me when I’ve needed him. I hadn’t told him about the abuse until he read my Mother’s Day post this year and I heard his heart break when he called me to talk about it. I hate the fact that it’s hurt him but I wept when I heard how sad he was because FINALLY one of my parents had acted like they give a shit instead of trying to deflect blame and make it about them.

I’ve kept a dignified silence for SO long and not risen to the barrage of messages to both me and my friends and family, the “accidental” phone calls, the self-satisfying Facebook posts where she pretends to be the victim of MY cruelty (what a fucking joke…) and allowing her friends to call me names and question my character  but NO MORE.

This is my line in the sand.

So, this is my Happy New Year post. Happy New Year to my friends (the ones who cook me crumpets and watch girlie films with me and call my Facebook trolls a c*nt and offer me help when I need it and just generally have my back, as well as the ones who I never see but speak to on Facebook who tolerate my ramblings and political posts) and my family (the best in-laws I could ever ask for, the mums and sisters and aunts and uncles and beautiful nephews and cousins by marriage who’ve been my rocks for almost eleven years, but especially in 2016, as well as my Dad and Tracy, my baby brother who’s a foot taller than me, and Uncle and Aunt and Joe and everyone else who I love) but most of all to my Husband and our girls, my reasons for living and trying to be a better person. I love you all.

Turns out, I’ve got everyone I ever needed.

MUM’s Office Diary Review and Address Book Giveaway

You’d think, given the amount of time that I spend on my smartphone, that I would be using it’s calendar to its fullest potential, using it to organise the family, but regardless of what device I’m using I’ve just never really liked using a digital calendar. I think it’s because I like it all just there to see, on a page, in my own handwriting preferably. I’ve been looking for a paper diary for 2017 for a while now, something that I can use to keep track of the whole family but haven’t been able to find anything which has everything I need…until I discovered MUM’s Office!

This is the Mum’s Office MUMs Diary 2017, with a week-to-view on one page and a grid arrangement on the opposite page, allowing me to have a column for myself, Husband, Sausage and Burrito Baby. I chose the French Navy colour which comes with teal print inside, basically my two favourite colours, and it looks really stylish (something I am usually NOT!).

MUM's Office Diary 2017

What I love about this diary is that it has SO many little clever touches to make your life easier. There’s an elastic loop on the side to keep your pen attached (how many hours have I lost to spending time digging in my bag for a pen?!), there’s a cardboard pouch on the inside back cover for keeping slips, receipts and all the other annoying bits of paper which usually end up on my car floor, there’s a whole section for logging pocket money (the ex-accounts assistant in me finds this very appealing!) and it all just looks lovely. 

MUMs Office Diary 2017

Another part which is absolutely genius is the “In Case I Lose my Mobile” section, a whole area for writing phone numbers just in case your mobile phone goes walkies, as well as term planners, important info for you, your partner and your kids and even a section for planning travel. You might think that a diary containing this many pages would need to be huge, but it’s a really good, baggable size without being heavy or cumbersome. Honestly, I’m in love.

The lovely folk at MUMs Office also make address books and they’ve kindly given me one to give away to my lovely readers. All you need to do is fill in the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win! I’ll draw the winner on Christmas Eve at 5pm and the prize will be sent out as soon as the postal service resumes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas Gift StashI don’t know about you, but there have been Christmasses past where I’ve been well and truly caught out. Times when I’ve been convinced by the middle of December that I’m completely done with all of my Christmas shopping and that I have no more gifts left to buy, only to remember a whole bunch of people who I really should be buying for! Times like this are when a good gift stash comes in handy; a handful of generic gifts that you can buy and put away in case someone gets left out or turns up unexpectedly so that you’re never caught out. Here’s a list of five things that make perfect ‘gift stash’ buys:

Vouchers

Picking up a couple of gift vouchers for a department store is a really good idea as they can be given as gifts, or even spent by yourself in the January sales if it turns out you don’t actually need them. As long as you check the expiry on them, they could even be put away as birthday gifts for people throughout the year if you want to be super organised!

Scarves

If you choose the right colour, such as grey or black, a good quality cashmere or merino scarf will make a good gift for an adult of any gender and will be appreciated by anyone who receives it. Things like this never go out of fashion either, so could be put away for NEXT Christmas if it doesn’t get gifted this year.

Smellies

Smellies are another great non-perishable gift which can be kept around until they’re needed. Pick up a gift set for both male and female  (you might find a bargain with https://www.myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk/debenhams-voucher-codes)  and you’ll be well and truly covered for unexpected gifting needs.

Board Games

Board games are loved by both young and old and are such a lovely gift to buy at Christmas because they encourage the family to spend time playing together. Classic games like Mousetrap and Monopoly never go out of favour and can be picked up pretty cheaply if you search out 3 for 2 deals or similar.

Preserves

If you’re the crafty type and you’re also handy in the kitchen then making some festive preserves a little earlier in the year and keeping them on stndby as last minute gifts could be a great idea. Foraging for local fruit and freezing it, and saving jars throughout the year could also mean that it’s a free or very cheap option and well-presented preserves make really pretty, thoughtful gifts which can be enjoyed over the festive holidays.

Do you keep a spare gift stash? What’s in your stash? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Age Gap Kids at Christmas

Age Gap Kids At ChristmasIt’s been a pretty eventful week for us, here in the Mum’s the Word house…I’m sad to say that this is the week that Sausage has become an un-believer. Sadly, a child who used to be in her class but has now moved up a year decided to spoil the magic for almost the whole class and tell them that Father Christmas wasn’t real and on Monday afternoon Husband and I had to deal with a very confused and upset Sausage who wanted to know the truth from us but was too scared to ask.

Husband, in his inimitable style, managed to explain it to her in a way that made her feel happy again, using a combination of history and humanism; the broad strokes that Saint Nicholas was a real man and the origins of that story, and that although there’s no “man in a red suit with a big beard” popping into our lounge each year, Father Christmas lives in all of us who want to buy presents and make our loved ones happy. I was actually quite impressed with how he managed to turn it around and make her feel happy, but I’m also gutted that it’s another stage we’ve waved goodbye to. She seems more grown up, somehow and I won’t deny that I shed a little tear.

I had a message from one of my oldest friends, Sarah, which actually made me feel a lot better. She has two much older brothers and said “If it’s any consolation, I don’t think I believed in Father Christmas post about 6 or 7 – (having brothers who are a generation above you makes it tricky!) BUT Christmas is still my favourite time of year I still think it’s magic and listen to Christmas music way before it’s acceptable. I know Sausage will still have lots of magical Christmas – just a little different. Proper gutting I know but lots of scope to create weird and wonderful new elements hopefully!”

Having one kid who’s well and truly ‘through the looking glass’ is all well and good, but we’re all still intent on keeping the magic alive for Burrito Baby, who isn’t even three yet, and is excited about Christmas like never before! Her first Christmas was a total washout – she was 10 months old and we were both horribly ill, spending most of the day asleep. Last year, she was coming up to her second birthday and still a little too young to properly “get” the whole idea of it. This year it’s totally different – she’s talking at length about Father Christmas and going to Nanny’s for dinner. She’s totally in love with the lights that we see on people’s houses and she’s enjoying grooving along with Sausage and I during our Christmas-themed car discos each morning. The Christmas bug has well and truly bitten our BB!

We’re lucky in the respect that Sausage is a really good girl and has absolutely no intention of ruining it for her baby sister, nor her friends who still believe, and she actually seems to enjoy being part of the “backstage” element of Christmas, where she’s being allowed to see gift we’ve bought for other people and keeping conspiratorial secrets with Husband and I. I think Sarah was right – it’s still possible to make the whole thing magical, even if Santa is suddenly fictional and I’m really looking forward to having our best Christmas ever.

In case I don’t get a chance to say it to you all in the next ten days, I’d like to wish all of Mum’s the Word’s readers a really Merry Christmas…even if you’re an unbeliever! 😉

Waitrose Party Food – A Family Review

At this time of year, one of the things that I love to do is try new food and recipes and I can usually be found watching some Christmas-themed cookery show or another, such is my obsession. However, this year I’ve decided to dial back the stress and try to have a more chilled-out festive period, which is why I was particularly interested to try out the Waitrose Party Food range. One of the main appeals is that everything that needs to be cooked goes in at the same temperature, so although you have to get your timings right, you don’t have to wait for an oven to heat or cool between cooking sessions, which made life SO much easier when prepping it all. Here’s some of what we were sent:

Waitrose Party Food

  1. Waitrose Christmas 12 Bourbon BBQ Pork Waffles 230g (£6.00)
  2. Waitrose Christmas Cheese Toasties Selection 110g (£5.00)
  3. Mixed Mini Pie Selection – Chicken & Gravy 400g (£6.00)
  4. Mixed Mini Pie Selection – Beef & Stout 400g (£6.00)
  5. Waitrose 1 chipotle 4 chilli sausage rolls (£2.49)
  6. Waitrose Party pork crackling straws 130g (£4.00)

We were also sent Christmas olives with snowballs 320g (£5.00), Waitrose Chai Spiced Chocolate Nuts 220g (£4.99) and Waitrose Maple Caramelised Cashews 175g (£4.99) but they got devoured by my lot before I could take a picture! We have a bit of a family ritual of going to my MILs on a Saturday evening and either cooking or having a takeaway together, so I took the party food with me to get some varied opinions and basically everything went down really well!

The waffles were definitely a hit and the smoky, almost sweet barbeque sauce added a lovely flavour to the softness of the waffles. The cheese toasties were lovely little savoury morsels that I probably could have eaten about ten of, all by myself! My Sausage found the chipotle sausage rolls to be a tiny bit too piquant for her taste, but the rest of us loved them so just beware if you have chilli-wuss kids! The pork crackling straws were like an amazingly delicious alternative to a breadstick and went beautifully with the apple sauce, but BEWARE if you have any dental issues – they’re really hard and crunchy and only get harder and crunchier as they cool, so definitely not or anyone prone to breaking of teeth!

The only thing which was a little hit-and-miss were the mini pies – the beef and stout ones were really tasty, with a rich gravy and crisp pastry, but the chicken ones were less of a hit – not bad or unpleasant, just not really a flavour that any of us found massively appealing.

Largely, we were really impressed with the quality of Waitrose Party Food and the ease of cooking, and for a small family gathering it would be ideal as party nibbles, however I’m not sure that the individual prices would be ideal if you had more than around 10 people to feed. Having said that, people usually shop at Waitrose for the quality of their items, not in order to get a bargain, so maybe this is a moot point?

Everything was sent to us about three weeks ago, right when the family was in the middle of a nasty bout of gastroenteritis, and I was able to freeze everything which is also a huge bonus, meaning that it would be really easy to buy ahead of time and bring out for cooking closer to Christmas, and I’m actually planning to go and get us all a few bits for New Years Eve as they’re ideal for a casual evening at home with Jool’s Hootenanny and a few bottles of fizz!

Have you tried the Waitrose Party Food? What did you think? Leave me a comment below.

Alternatives to a Winter Coat

Alternatives to a Winter CoatOkay, so let it be said that I’m no fashionista – if it’s clean and it fits me, it’ll usually do and co-ordination be damned! However, at this time of year, one thing that I find tricky is outdoor wear, particularly big coats. I spend quite a lot of time driving and I hate feeling bunched up in thick layers, unable to move my arms properly, but I also hate being cold more than almost anything. I’ve been thinking lately about alternatives to a winter coat and thought I’d share some of them with you here:

Ponchos

Ponchos are actually super on-trend at the moment and come in a million different styles, from full-on South American print to sporty or feminine. One of my favourite ways to wear a poncho is with a roll-neck jumper, jeans and long boots, which works as a look for just about any casual occasion and can be easily glammed up with the right jewellery.

Merino Layers

Wearing lots of thick layers might keep you warm but it can feel very restrictive, so thinking about the types of materials that you layer can really help. Opting for a material like merino wool, which is light, very warm and breatheable will allow you to add more layers without feeling like the Michelin man, and merino is also very trendy right now.

Cardigans

On days when it’s not wet, chucking a chunky knit on top of your clothes can sometimes be enough to keep you warm and will usually allow you to still move around unencumbered. Cardigans come in all shapes, sizes and colours and go with just about anything but remember that the looser the knit, the less likely it will be to keep out the wind!

Rain Mac

Global warming means that our winters are seeming less chilly, which means that sometimes you can get away without wearing a coat, although with this being Britain the threat of rain is always real! There are some really funky rain macs around which can fold up to pretty much the size of a purse and can be kept in a bag or pocket in case the heavens open.

Gilet/Bodywarmer

This is the one that I opt for the most, as I have a decent quilted bodywarmer with a fur-lined hood which allows me to move my arms whilst driving but still keep my body warm. I tend to layer it over a fleece, and wear a t-shirt beneath which keeps me super warm on even the coldest days.

Do you have an alternative to a thick winter coat that you swear by? I’d love to hear your suggestions so please do leave me a comment below.

 

 

Staying Safe on the Internet with BT and Unicef

When I was little, things were very different to how they are now that I have children. The Internet was unheard of until I reached senior school and phones were something that sat on a dedicated table in the hallway and could only be used after 6pm. Bullying was obviously a thing, but it seems now that the Internet and mobile communication has made the scope for bullying SO much wider. Before, bullies would wait for you in corridors at school, whereas now they can reach you even in the privacy of your own bedroom through the ‘net.

BT has linked up with Unicef to create The Right Click, a series of workshops for parents and kids around internet safety, which not only looks at cyber-bullying, but also at helping kids to find safe, appropriate content and use the internet in a way that is both empowering and secure. Watch this video for more:

Pete Oliver, commercial and marketing director, BT Consumer, said: “The internet is a powerful tool, especially for children. The time children are spending online is continuing to grow, particularly with children aged 8-111. This can be daunting for parents that aren’t necessarily digital savvy and most parents (94 per cent) have worries about their children online. However, with the right knowledge, communication and parental controls in place, we can all ensure that the internet can be a safe place.”

Catherine Cottrell, Unicef UK Deputy Executive Director, said: “We’re working with schools across the country to create safe and inspiring places to learn, where children are respected and their rights are protected. The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters workshops empower children to become confident and responsible digital citizens, enabling them to enjoy the enormous benefits that the internet has to offer, with the help of parents and teachers.”

I think workshops like this are SO vital – Husband and I are both pretty tech-savvy but I know SO many adults who have more or less resigned themselves to the fact that their kids are more adept at using technology than they are which creates almost a power vacuum around the subject of internet usage. The kids know more about it all but are almost expected to self moderate because the adults don’t know WHAT the kids need to be protected against! Keeping knowledge fresh is the only way to increase safety, which is why I commend BT and Unicef for creating this programme.

Head to the BT Internet Safety Matters page to test your family on how much they know about the internet.

Take Christmas Cards to a New Level with Fotor

Part of making Christmas manageable for me is learning where to make an effort and where to dial things back. I adore crafting and cooking with the girls so make an extra effort with this, but tend to do a lot of online shopping to keep my “beating my way through crowds” time to a minimum to preserve my sanity as much as anything!

One thing that I do love to do is make personalised Christmas cards. Last year, we took the girls to have some professional photos done and then sent the prints to be made into cards, which looked great but weren’t cheap. This year, I’m making the cards myself using Fotor, the hoto editing and collage software. As well as offering an app for mobiles, there’s a desktop site AND offline software that can be used to edit photos, add overlays and effects, make collages and just generally tweak things until they look exactly the way you want them. Here’s a Christmas photo collage I made using random pictures from the internet:

Fotor Christmas Card

I literally knocked this image up in two minutes using the collage maker and an art overlay to give the image texture and I think this would actually make a really sweet Christmas card – now imagine if it were personalised using photos of your own kids and decorations! The images are saved at a high resolution and printing them off at home is super simple.

Fotor even offers its own photo card creator, allowing you to do everything I’ve done above, add text to the photo, and then making it into a savable, printable card that you can print off in whatever format you like – amazing!

It would be so easy to just go and buy a packet of cards from the supermarket, but this is one thing that I really enjoy putting effort into at this time of year and the results are always so much better, and more memorable, than generic cards. It gives family and friends a yearly picture of the girls (and Chuck!) and I’m really looking forward to being able to look back in many years time and seeing the changes in my kids on a yearly basis.

Do you ever make your own greetings cards? Would you use Fotor to make your life easier? Have you been put off of doing it in the past but are now considering it because you’ve learned about Fotor? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts!