Monday, 14 October 2013

Family Planning

So much has happened in such a short space of time. There is much to catch up on peeps. Let me commence post haste.

I have now completed 4 fast/starvation/nothing special to K days and lost a whopping whopping 6 pounds. SO EXCITING. Although this weekend may just have pushed the plan to its absolute limits as I seem to have gone a tad crazy. I am not entirely sure of the actual 'official' 5:2 plan as it will not surprise you in the least to learn that I have not read the book or in fact anything at all on how one is properly supposed to follow the diet. All I know is that I have to stick to the 500 kcalories on my two days and try to eat 'normally' the rest of the time. Sadly this weekend seems to have been entirely abnormal and I, seemingly powerless to control it.

This weekend was Bea's sleepover party and I let her and her friends go to the new local sainsburys (SO EXCITING - have I told you about this before? It recently opened literally around the corner from our house - you don't even have to cross a road. It has changed our lives and hopefully the house prices too - you know your area has made it when Sainsbury's moves in) anyway I let them go alone (Cybs and I were a safe distance behind) with a hefty budget to purchase their midgnight feast goodies and being over excitable 8/9 year olds they over bought in ridiculous quantities. They waited patiently until after they had devoured their pizza to commence on depleting the treat mountain and to be fair they did a totally amazing job considering there was only four of them.  However I did have to step inwhen they all started acting a little 'drugged up' on all the chocolate and sweets and remove them all but sadly that left them within easy reach of me, a confirmed over eater, and that is what I did today and last night. I haven't really eaten that much chocolate in the last two weeks but I have certainly made up for it over tha last twenty four hours. I am deseperate to fast/starve/average day for K tomorrow so that I can put an end to the madness.

Apart from the ridiculous over eating the party was a huge success, even if I do say so myself. I am in fact the only person who would say so as Bea is too over tired and too childish to spend too much time praising me for my brilliance and when I gently tried to coax some even mild praise from K on how it was going and whether Bea was happy, he simply said 'She seems happy enough'. Always one for a grand understatement. So, I shall be the one to say how brilliantly it went. THEY LOVED IT. It was everything she wanted for her inaugral slumber party and more. The buying of their own 'midnight feast' was super exciting and then we had an amazing few hours making their own jewellery courtesy of a lovely local jewellery maker (Kath Dare Jewellery - find her on FB) they hammered letters in to a copper horse and made it in to a necklace, created clip on earrings and threaded very fancy bracelets. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to entertain the tricky tween ages. Then Dominoes pizza was swiftly ordered and delivered just as the four had changed in to their new fleecy animal onesies (courtesy of moi) and they settled down for a non-midnight feast sensation of pizza, garlic bread and mountains and mountains of chocolate and sweets. I even managed to get two of them to sleep by 9.30 and the other two were asleep within the following hour. Or i think they were as K and I were fast asleep by then so we have no way of knowing. Cybs slept through all their shrieks and silliness and even slept past their ridiculously early awakening at 5.40am. The boys had mercifully been shipped off to Cybs' extremely kind Godmother so they could have fun with her andI her boys. Luckily so as they would have had virtually no sleep if they had stayed here.  And there you have it. Everyone survived, Bea was beyond happy and K and I got a fair amount of sleep to boot. I am greatly relieved to have it all over and done with. Her birthday was also a resounding success. Obviously the ipad mini (a controversial choice of gift according to some although I would hasten to point out that if I had got her a nintendo 3DS XL and two games we are looking at the same sort of cash and no one would have questioned it......) went down a storm and she was totally beyond thrilled to own one. It was very sweet actually, K and I pretended that the few token gifts we had got her to beef up the present pile, were in fact her only gifts from us, I even asked her if she had received everything she wanted to which she replied that she had and was very happy. Then K pulled out the doozy from behind the utility room door and when she opened it she took off like a firework. I think it was worth every penny. YES the fighting over who can use it and when and her utter frustration that we are currently without internet (a very dull annoyance - it seems we have accidentally been receiving free broadband from Sky for four years and so when it stopped working they wern't that fussed about fixing the problem and we weren't that keen for them to investigate in case they decided to charge us for the last four years) have been tricky but no more than when it was just my ipad they were fighting over.  The Birthday tea with all the extra children and her own siblings was just as much fun as a full blown party party. The balloons, biscuit tower, birthday tea and games were all greatly appreciated and I think it is fair to say that we have thoroughly marked the occassion of her turning nine.

In other thrilling news,  I have FIXED the tumble dryer. Only a person who washes as many clothes as I do will understand the sheer joy of this statement. After MONTHS of having to put it on twice to get anything dry, rewash whole loads of washing because I forgot there was a load in there and they had become damp and smelly, not using it at all and perservering with the broken drying stand etc etc etc I suddenly saw a small button I had never seen before in the main opening. Being inquisitive I opened it and a hiterhto unseen compartment in the bottom corner of the macihne magically opened. Inside I found a new fresh hell of disgustingness. It turns out that if I had bothered to read the instructions - I NEVER read instructions before using anything, I just assume that I must be able to work it and reading instructions is a total waste of time unless something is totally perplexing in which case I may give them a cursery glance - anyhoo if I HAD taken the time to do something properly for once, I am quite sure it would have alerted me to this little hidden 'gem' which I think is some kind of filter system and I might have tried cleaning it in the last 4ish years because hidden behind the secret compartment door was many years of dark matter (presumably once fluff) mixed with dampness which had congealed to make a truly revolting black mess of nastiness. It was a bit like the congealed mess in a plug hole, only in vast quantities. I removed the revolting fliter to find that it was entirely blocked by this thick black matter and quickly surmised that this was what was causing all the issues. It took a while to clean it and then even longer to clean the hole from which it sprang. I had to do that blind and with my bare hands - I know damp fluff sounds innocent enough but honestly, four years of damp black fluff really is quite something to behold in its grossness. Anyway, it is mercifully all over with now and the first load of test washing went straight in and was dry so rapidly I whooped with excitement when I felt it. I virtuatlly skipped in to the living room to tell K who I had assumed (wrongly) would be as jubilant as I. He MAY have muttered in response. He MAY have said 'oh really?' it is hard to tell with a muttering. He definitly didn't look up from what he was doing.

Men and women are clearly different breeds. I know this has been documented for many centuries and in many books but sometimes the difference still shocks me. I cannot understand how he wasn't more thrilled over the tumble dryer excitement but I would hazard a guess it's because he uses the dryer once a month at most and not twice a day like me so the effect of it being out of work was felt far more keenly by me.  And this is true for so many things in life that are predominantly 'female' (in our house anyway) - but also in the most major way as well. I draw your attention to the absolute and ludicrous inequalities surrounding birth control. I have no idea what it is like where you live but here in my corner of paradise one is no longer able to simply visit one's doctor for help and tools on the whole 'family planning' area of life. Instead this is now outsourced to one central place where all residents wishing to 'plan' families and not just have a baby every year, need to frequent. This place is no longer the 'family planning centre' as it was in my day.  It is now very refreshingly just known as the 'Sexual health clinic'. HOW lovely. So, at the doctors post G when I actually wanted to begin 'planning' I was given a list of these delightfully named centres and told to visit. I duly did.  What greeted me was a fairly run down place in a run down area with a first come first served 'drop in' service which saw me waiting for over two hours with a small child to be seen. Since G I have had occasion to go back for a coil removal (ted) a coil insertion (post ted) and then heavens of joy I was permitted to go back to my doctors since they changed the rules, for a coil removal (Cybs - hopefully rather obviously). Post Cybs I have been a little laissez faire with my attitude to birth control. Mainly becuase the breastfeeding debacle meant that I was not ovulating again until she was almost a year and secondly because I could not face going back to that sodding clinic. Even with a makeover between G and Ted's arrival and appointments being made available, I really couldn't  bring mysefl to get there. Until last week when I suddenly became incredibly fearful of a fifth. I rang up on the Friday to see if I could make an appointment. The service had changed again and now it was all drop in sessions with absolutely no appointments available. Oh joy. The slots for the drop in clinics were from 2pm -7pm week days (entirely useless to me on any level) and Saturday from 9.30-11.30am, BUT she warned, if you are not queueing outside from 9am you are very unlikely to be seen as we only accpet the first twenty people.  AHHHHHH - goodo the service has worsened during my four year absence, not improved. Jolly good.  Regardless of my apprehension I informed K he would be enjoying an early morning spell of cihldcare for all four and off I set.

I was thrilled to be the first in the queue. And there I stood, outside the sign for Sexual Health Clinic from 9am, on a main road, next to a huge local supermarket, in the cold for half an hour. I was joined fairly swiftly by all kinds of fellow patients. One lone male also joined the queue and a few more males who had clearly been forced to attend by their female partners who were dragging them up the path and in to the queue. I wondered whether they were there for an STD test or something - is that what couples do now? Surely they weren't both there talking about condoms and the pill? This passed the time for a few minutes.  Eventually on the dot of 9.30 a burly 'Green Mile' bouncer opened the shutters and told us to walk 'that way' and 'Not that window - the next one'. The receptionist asked if I had been there before and gave me a form to fill in. Standing up next to the rest of the queue I ticked all the boxes that applied and gave it to the other window. She told me a doctor wouldn't be in for half an hour so I would have to wait but in the mean time to see the nurse. She then efficiently called my name and in I went.  She asked some awkward (for me as I always feel a bit silly talking about 'it' with people I don't know and even those I do - it's like toilet habits - it's not something I really feel happy discussing to a stranger) then told me that I was too far along in my cycle for anything useful to be done and to come back to enjoy the whole shebang again another time. Oh and that they were moving to a bigger better clinic further away so to go there instead. NICE. Although on the plus side the new clinic has appointments available for a short period on a wednesday morning. Progress indeed. NOW. I have no problem with people wanting to look after their sexual health, in fact I think it is a jolly good idea. HOwever I have been married for over a decade, I am of advancing years and I have four children - I really don't understand why I am being forced to join the same queue as people who want to know if they have chlamydia or the bloke who wants more free condoms.  I mean it is just not a nice way to treat me. I know this was long and detailed and no doubt dull, but IMAGINE FOR A MINUTE THAT MEN HAD THE FRICKING BABIES.  There is no way in hell that would be the case.  It would be like some sort of Carlsberg advert where beautiful women greeted you at the door and handed you a drink - it would be pristine and white and so clean you could eat your dinner off the floor. Appointments would be available at all times of the day or night and if by some strange reason there was a delay in your appointment there would be all kinds of screens and entertainment systems to keep you amused.  The same would apply for all aspects of birth - I mean imagine the birthing centres if it was men doing the labouring! They would be like hotels and midwives would be amongst the highest paid professionals in the land..... Anyway I mustn't go on, you get my point. I am not being anti-men I am just being pro-women. I don't feel like I should get a reward for being boring and middle aged but I do feel that I at least deserve a comfortable surrounding in which to have my coil fitted.  Enough said.

Oh! and I forgot the biggest excitement of all - we have new carpet!  The transformation of our bedroom is now complete and looks rather good considering the budget and our living room is now happily covered in a clean and very soft carpet.  These are life changing advancements. It makes hoovering and tidying totally worth while. And discovering what was behind the sofa when I moved it toget the old carpet up, has spurred me on to clean behind more furniture from now on. It wasn't quite congealed tumble dryer crap but it wasn't pretty. There is now a STRICT no food beyond the kitchen boundary policy.

And on that Bombshell I shall leave you to your evening. I shall just say that luckily the carpet was fitted in time for an extremely rare visit from mother. She was staying with Shiny Life Sister and they came for a Friday afternoon playdate barely 24 hours after the new carpets were laid. It was an extremely nice way to round off a very busy week - but only because I knew it was extremely clean behind my sofa...

Adios mis amigos. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Worry and mess

Hello and welcome and howdy. You join me on a momentous day.  Today is the second day of my 5:2 intermittent fasting/starvation diet. I know, I know - this is absolutely not a very 'me' eating plan. I am more of a gluttonous, chocolate and cake eating fan but in recent months I have performed a very slow about turn with my thinking and on Tuesday I awoke with a tiny  bit of determination to give it a go. Sadly I didn't think it through fully as that is also the day of Great British Bake Off which is the very worst time to try and stick to a very restricted diet but stick to it I did and I have even done another day today - hoorah! I didn't realise when I first heard of the plan, that you were allowed to eat something on your fast days - I thought it was a nil by mouth type of plan, but the more I learnt of it and the more I realised what you could actually eat for 500 calories, I became more and more interested. And then a friend from the playground became very skinny on the plan and that seemed to spur me on more than anything else.  So, here it is. I am on the plan I have poo pooed and belittled for around six months.

I can't say it is the easiest thing I have ever done - especially as I am still breast feeding which always makes me feel hunger quite acutely - however it also is not the hardest thing I have ever done either. I have no idea why I can't 'just eat less' (as I am so often told by K) because I want to not be fat,  but I can't. I need someone to tell me what to do. It always amazes me that one day I can wake up fat and carry on eating regardless of my desire to do something about it, but then the next I can wake up and follow a strict eating plan be it weight watchers or fasting. Why I can't 'just eat less' every day of my life will always be a complete mystery to me. Anyway the fact is I do need someone and this book is now my 'someone'. I will of course let you know whether it works.

I suspect that my need to do as I'm told comes from my rather forthright mother. Last weekend I popped back to Suffolk  for Kent Sister's new baby's christening. There are numerous reasons why it happened back in Suffolk and not in her beloved Kent and at first I was less than enthusiastic about a weekend trip back and forth to the motherland. However, a quick shift in parental responsibilities with the big two (I have no extra children on Friday thank goodness) meant that I was able to leave at lunch time on Friday with just the little two.  After a fairly lengthy journey (the M 11 was clearly having its time of the month as it was in a hideous mood both for the journey there and back) we arrived in a very sunny Suffolk. It actually turned out to be a fabulous weekend and felt a little bit like a mini break. However, due to the christening party taking place at mother's on the Saturday afternoon, Friday afternoon and first thing Saturday morning were a little tense. I was on high alert not to make a 'mess'.  My laziness and messiness has now reached rather legendary heights within the family. I have no idea how I am now deemed one step removed from Stig of the Dump but the warnings from mother over how i must act and behave in the lead up to the weekend were so dire, at one point I was scared to arrive even an hour early. However I did brave it and spent every waking moment scared witless over the children making a mess (for actually it is them that makes the majority of the mess and it is I that decides whether I do or do not pick it up) and following cybs around wiping her hands/walls/putting away toys that she got out. I also used the same glass for my drinks every time I poured myself one. This is a BIG problem for me usually.  Apparently. Mother was kind enough to point it out and then when she saw me re-use my glass she followed with 'Well done - that does help - seeeeee you are learning.' It was all I could to bite my tongue and not to point out that the reason I repeatedly take a new glass for each drink I make, is because the very second I put my empty glass down on any surface and dare to look the other way is precisely when she swoops in, picks it up and takes it away. I then can't find it for my next drink and take another glass. The 'you're learning' helpful hints were not refined to my glass usage either. I hoovered as well, which she was most pleased about. You would think I was 14 and was using it for the first time. I did, in my defence use the hoover over the summer as well and I might add that I use the hoover in my own house almost every single day and manage to keep a family of six fed, clothed and in relative cleanliness comfort, but I didn't point it out as it all seemed futile.  I think in her eyes I will always be a messy freak in my mid-teens.

I AM a tad messy. However I am not revolting. I just prioritise my time differently to people who are ordered and neat and OCDish. I can turn a blind eye to toys that have not been put away. I am able to go to bed with dirty dishes left on the side. If I see fit I can leave piles of clean clothes for days on end before I sort them and put them away.  None of this keeps me awake at night. I don't think this is something to be upset about. In my house if I don't sort the dirty dishes when I go to bed that is because I know that they will still be dirty and waiting for me in the morning. Ditto with the toys and the clothes. I know that eventually it will all have to be dealt with and that I will be the person who does the dealing, so when I get around to it really doesn't upset me.  I would like to be the type of person that spends every waking moment cleaning and polishing and organising so that when I walk in to the house it is a gleaming example of cleanliness and organisational mastermindednes, but, I don't want it enough to spend every evening and spare moment making that happen. In a bit of a low point during the holidays Mother lamented my messiness so much that one morning I came downstairs to be told that it 'would be such a shame if your children turned out like you'.  She was quick to point out that she didn't mean my personality, just my messiness. I have to confess that it stung, regardless of her meaning.  I am pretty sure my propensity to mess (which to be honest I still refute partially - yes I am not the tidiest person on earth but I am not the sort of person who leaves cups out to grow mould in or who doesn't do the washing up for days on end so that you end up eating your pot noodles with a tea strainer - I do have a base level tidiness and hygiene) is actually at the very core of my personality and being as a whole. I am, therefore I am.  I have always, always, always been slap dash in everything I do. I have never EVER, EVER been neat. My writing is appalling. Almost illegible. Most of my school projects and homework books had splodges of drinks or food on them and I was never ever able to file or keep things in safe places and then find them again. That is just not in my genetic make up.  On the whole this is a good thing as it means I do not spend nights unable to sleep for worrying about every little thing. I am able to let vast swathes of worries wash right over me. This is an excellent skill to have. I am also able to spend weeks on end with my mother. If I were unable to let things wash over me this would be a totally untenable set up. Comments over my weight, parenting ability and proclivity to make mess and my general disorganisation as well as all of her quite bizarre views on people who appear on TV, would cause heated arguments and messy scenes if it wasn't for my incredibly laid back attitude. My messiness, my weight, my disorganisation - they all go together to make up my personality. They mix in well with my more positive attributes which I shan't go in to now lest you think me boastful and immodest and thoroughly unbritish. I am aware that along with all my negative points there are also many positives so I do try not to get too down about it all. After all it isn't really in my nature to do so.

I do worry almost constantly though. I assume everyone does. At the moment my worries are many and splendid in their ordinariness. A few of them are listed:

Are the children spoilt ?
Should Bea be allowed a mini ipad for her birthday?
Are they deprived?
Will we ever take them abroad/to disneyland/legoland?
Should I do more for them/with them?
Do I shout too much?
Am I too soft?
Do I treat them all equally?
Do I feed them too much?
Do I feed them enough?
Do I read with them enough?
Shit I haven't paid for their school dinners - will they feed them today?
I have no pension.
Children in Syria.
Nairobi. What would I do if I was in a siege situation with the children?
What will I do when the children are all at school full time?
Am I a bad role model?
Am I doing any of this right?
What if I get ill?
Am I ill ?
Can I keep doing this?
What on earth would I have done if I was doing this 50 years ago?

The latter worries me on a weekly basis. How on EARTH would I have coped with all of this fifty years ago.  I am pretty sure that I would have ended up sticking my head in the oven.  I know that sounds extreme and slightly odd to worry over but I do. I wonder how on earth women coped. It must have been so incredibly lonely to have to be a stay at home mother whether you liked it or not, to have to clean and tidy a house and prepare a warm meal for your husband every night whether you wanted to or not, to have no dishwashers, no grocery delivery service, probably no tumble dryers, no dedicated children's channels on tv, no free nursery places for three years olds etc etc etc. And the major life changers - no mobile phones or internet. It is totally unfathomable to me how different things would be for me if I had no one to talk to at the end of the phone which is not stuck in one place in the house but with me wherever I go and has the benefit of twitter, facebook and Words with Friends at the flick of a finger. These things make the unbearable monotony bearable. There are times when I can vividly understand why someone would deem sticking their head in the oven a peaceful resolution to the stultifying monotony and never ending drudgery of daily life as a housewife  (I must just say that the peaceful part comes from falling asleep from the gases and NOT from roasting your head as my university housemate had assumed - that would take an exceedingly determined woman and would be a hideous and horrific way to go although the idea of our friend assuming this was what they meant every time she heard/read about someone 'sticking their head in the oven' made us laugh until we peed ourselves. That happened more times than you would think probable actually....) Mercifully I do not harbour suicidal thoughts so I am not warning you of my imminent demise but sometimes as I clean the loo, pick up umpteen gazillion toys, make yet another bed, sweep the floor at least three times a day, get shouted out, shout at someone or close a frickin drawer that any member of the family may have 'forgotten' (read couldn't be bothered) to close, I always thank my lucky stars that I live now and not any earlier.  Sometimes I worry far too much about the housewives that have come before me.  Essentially I have it easy. And an electric oven.

The other worries are pretty normal I think. I can do very little about the hideous atrocities that are happening in Syria - although we are, in a typically middle class mummy fashion, organising a coffee morning to raise some money to send to the Red Cross so that they can help.  That is as much as I feel I can do at the moment.  I did risk a shopping centre today which was mercifully not under attack from terrorists so I didn't have to think about what to do in a siege situation and I did buy Bea the ipad mini - although it felt wrong and will no doubt come back to bite me firmly on the bum when every subsequent child thinks they will get one on their birthdays too but there you have it.  The fighting over her ipad and the worry over her breaking it will keep me occupied for many months to come. One thing I do not have to worry about is their Christmas jumpers - I am feeling incredibly happy as I already have one for every child!  It makes me feel exceptionally organised. It is only just October!  I shall sleep soundly tonight in my smug organisedness, surrounded by the piles of my clean washing.  And sleep I shall have to do as quickly as possible - before the hunger kicks in.

And with that I bid you adieu.  More excitement and news of weight loss and Bea's Birthday shenanigans to follow shortly. Worry not.