Feeling Daft

On Monday I blogged about scaring myself silly. I'd been researching illnesses online and managed to convince myself that the worst was going to happen. Well I'm pleased to report that it didn't and now I'm feeling a little bit daft.

I've done it before and I think that's what makes me feel so stupid. I had been fretting all weekend about something that was really unlikely and funnily enough it turned out that all that fretting had been for nothing. That'll teach me to search the internet for information!

Scaring Myself Silly

I have often heard that researching health issues on the internet is a bad idea. Most often the people who say it are doctors or health professionals. I can understand why they say it because without proper diagnosis you can convince yourself that you have some terrible affliction. However, on the flip side if you're sensible, it can help you understand something you've been diagnosed with or help you find out about a particular word your doctor said.

Having been to the doctors recently I can totally understand both sides of this. While I was in the office the doctor said a word that I didn't understand and when at home I decided to do some reading on the internet. Although it helped me find what the doctor had said and understand what it meant I still managed to scare myself.

There are so many conditions, afflictions and diseases out there with similar symptoms that it is easy to mistakenly diagnose yourself with a terminal illness. When you find details online and you have the symptoms it is really hard to fight that dread that builds in your stomach. It makes you consider scenarios that you never thought you would and takes over every waking moment.

Although my symptoms are quite scary there is also the possibility that it's nothing to worry about. The reason my doctor wants to do more investigation is because she wants to be sure she's giving me the right diagnosis, which is obviously better for me!

Over the last few days I have tried to ignore that niggling voice in my head telling me to be prepared for the worst. I have tried my hardest to enjoy the beginning of the summer holidays and forget about health issues. Some of the time it has worked and I've been able to enjoy time with my sons, other times it has been hard.

Tomorrow I am at the doctors again and hopefully will have a diagnosis that is not scary. In the meantime I am fighting that dread and ignoring that voice, hoping that I'll be breathing a sigh of relief tomorrow.

Have you ever managed to wrongly diagnose yourself? 
What were your feelings at the time?

London Suggestions?

The kids have now broken up from school and me and the hubby have been spending a few days trying to come up with a few ideas for things to do. One of the plans is to spend a few days in London, stay in a hotel and find out what we could do while there. The hubby told me to search google to find some different things; we've been to London before and been to the Sea Life Centre and gone on the London eye. We've also done the National History Museum and a few galleries.

Given that London is such a big place I'm sure there's plenty of things to do that we've never heard of or never thought of and instead of typing in 'Things to do in London' on Google I thought I would ask you fine people for your suggestions, especially those of you who live there. Walking, active things, easy and relaxing things, whatever you can think of is welcome.

Trying to entertain my boys is going to be difficult and the trip to London will be a welcome distraction from the boredom.

Post Comment Love

Tips on Blogging and Social Media

Okay I'll admit it, when it comes to blogging and social media I'm a bit of a dunce. I don't blog on a schedule, I don't tweet everything I think and I'm not a good photographer. All of these things are meant to be high on the list of things you should do to increase traffic to your blog, so I have read. But what if you can't blog on a schedule? After all being a stay-at-home mum doesn't exactly work with a rigid schedule. What if you don't want to share every waking moment of your life with the entire internet community? And what if, no matter how hard you try you just can't get super-fantastic photos like everyone else?

I wish I had the answer to these questions. I don't so if you've come here expecting a list of tips you've come to the wrong place.

When it comes to site traffic my numbers are not great and I have no idea why. It may have something to do with the fact that I don't really know what I'm doing! Or it may just be a consequence of not blogging on a schedule. Or both. Either way it's not something that I can solve very easily. Learning about Social Media is do-able and possibly even getting better at taking photos but keeping the momentum is the hardest part.

There are ladies out there that seem to blog daily for years and I often wonder how they find the subjects to blog about. I struggle most of the time to find something to write about. I think that may be a consequence of spending most days in the house but still, it's a struggle. I'll find myself thinking of a subject and then dismissing it because it's not interesting enough or because I may offend someone.

Then there's the social media side of things. I tweet occasionally, not daily, I share things on google+ but I've never really used these things as a way of communicating with people. Am I doing it wrong? I know this whole blogging/social media thing is meant to be about forming relationships and getting to know people but half the time I feel like I'm being nosy and should just mind my own business!

Here's a list of some of the things I do:

  • Link to linky's and pin parties
  • Tweet links to my blog posts and link ups
  • Post said links to Facebook, Google+, Britmums etc
  • Occasionally share interesting reads I've found through Klout
  • Write blog posts

And that's about it. I do comment on people's blogs and try to return the favour when they comment on mine. Is there some magic trick I'm missing or is it just the topics I'm blogging about?

How do you use blogging and social media?
Tips, hints, advice all needed and appreciated!

Mama and More

Where's My Willpower?

Just lately I've been piling pounds on. Well maybe not piling them on, they're more like creeping critters that sneak onto my body at night to scare the hell out of me in the morning when I step onto the scales!

This is a consequence of my recent lack of willpower. I have consumed pizza, cake (loads of it), alcohol, chocolate... the list is fairly long. I have continued with my walking and running in a morning and I think this is part of the reason the weight hasn't piled on. But I can still feel it, the tightness of jeans, the stretch of clothes as my body begins to change.

Losing a lot of weight made me realise that it is possible to be slim and all I need to do is stick to a healthier diet. Even if I'm hungry I don't need to instantly trek to the fridge and grab the first largest piece of chocolate I can find. I just need to cling to that willpower and those pesky pounds will disappear, slowly.

My main problem is the weekend. Well, that and the hubby! At a weekend I tend to feel quite lazy, I've spent the week preparing meals, cleaning the house and keeping things generally tidy and by the weekend I'm ready for a rest. I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen for an hour while I make dinner, I don't want to have to clean pots and pans and put clothes in the washing machine. I don't want to but I have to. How do I make myself feel better? Chocolate. Alcohol. And the rest of the list.

This week I have found a glimmer of hope as willpower slowly returns. I know we're only on Wednesday but so far I have limited my chocolate intake and cut down portion sizes again. I'm eating the same kinds of things I was eating about a year ago and straight away, after only 3 days, I'm feeling better and more energetic. The down side is that my tummy is grumbling lots. Last night I had stomach cramps for a long time and wondered if I was doing the right thing but this morning I woke up ready to start the day and right now I feel bright and optimistic.

I have listened to so many overweight people saying they can't do it or no diet has ever worked. If I'm honest I believe this is just an excuse, they don't want to put the effort in that's required to get their bodies to change. And that's fine but if that is what you're doing don't complain about being overweight. I work hard to stay the size I am, I'm not super skinny and at the moment am slightly overweight (by about 2 lbs) but with the exercise and cutting down on chocolate that weight is coming off.

Every week I walk/run roughly 13 miles split into 2.5(ish) mile routes for every day. Some routes are harder than others and I have to cope with hills (not when running) but on those routes I feel like I've worked harder. These walks take about half an hour each morning after dropping the kids off at school. When the kids are at home, like in the summer, I will be doing those miles on the treadmill instead of being out and about. I probably won't get the opportunity to do quite so much but I will do some. This along with cutting down means that the weight I have gained over the past 6-7 months shouldn't take long to shift and I'm confident that I will be at my goal soon. As long as I stick to eating healthier.

Do you stick to a healthy diet all the time or do you find it hard to resist the chocolate bars?

Mama and More

Summer Suggestions?

Last year me and mine spent the whole summer holidays in Orlando, Florida. It was fun-filled, sunny daily and we ate scrumptious food constantly. It was such a fantastic holiday that I'm a little worried about the school holidays this year. We don't have any plans so far and it's looking fairly likely that the hubby is going to have to go away on business.

I feel like the summer holidays have crept up on me this year, it only seems two minutes ago that it was Christmas. Normally when the holidays creep up on me we don't do anything interesting and the weeks fly by before I know it. In Florida there was so much to do that no planning was required, we just stepped out of the hotel room and ventured off to find fun. Easy. This year, being stuck at home means I have to work out what we're going to do. I have to organise trips out, weekends away (if at all possible) and play dates with friends. The only problem with that is I have no idea what to do with them!

There are a few parks nearby which, if it's nice, I'm sure we'll spend some time in but what about anything else? My boys go to Alton Towers a lot, we have the Merlin Passes and have family that live nearby so that's a possibility but that's just one day, out of how many? Five and a half weeks. How do you entertain bored children for five and a half weeks?

I have a feeling I may be slightly insane by the end of these holidays!
Any tips or ideas that you have would be greatly appreciated.

Hungry

Having returned to smaller portion sizes and less chocolate I'm battling the monsters in my tummy. You know the ones, they growl at you constantly and tell you you should eat something. In order to lose weight you have to take in less food, which results in you feeling hungry.

That's been me this week, I'll have a small bowl of cereal in the morning and nothing until lunch time when I'll have a small portion of pasta or something. In between those two meals, at around 10:30am, those tummy monsters start talking and they don't quite until I've had lunch. It's been like that all week, they start again a couple of hours after having lunch too.

I'm sure that my friends think I must be starving myself with the sounds that emanate from my middle but I'm really not. It's a process your body needs to go through to get used the smaller portions and eventually those sounds will die off. I know this and thankfully I can cope with it, especially having lost 4.5lbs in 4 days!

How do you battle the tummy monsters? Ignore or feed?

The Reading Residence

Changing Friends

Over the past year one of my friends has been having a really hard time. Her marriage has broken down and she is now in the process of going through a divorce. She had spent a long time being unhappy in the family home and after trying to talk to her husband about it decided it was time to leave.

Although it was her choice to leave the family home do not think that she was happy to do so. At the time she left I believe that she thought there was the possibility of reconciliation and she clung to that for a while. Every day I saw her she looked tired, upset and hurt. She would have good days, those being the days she didn't cry every waking moment and she would have bad days. On her bad days my heart broke for her and we spoke about how much she was hurting. The instant I saw her in a morning I knew what kind of day she was having simply by how she walked into the playground.

For a long time she was upset and couldn't actually bring herself to file the divorce papers, she just wasn't ready. She had lots of 'advice' from people telling her to just get on with it, "What are you waiting for?" one person said. I think I can understand why she didn't want to do it and I told her that she should wait until she was ready. It didn't matter what anyone else thought.

Right now the divorce process is underway and she is alright. In fact I think I could go as far as saying she is almost happy. In recent weeks I have noticed a distinct change in her outlook, she is definitely more positive and is learning to be single again. Not an easy task, she tells me, but all I keep saying is 'have as much fun as you can!'

On a few occasions she has mentioned men she's glanced at while in Starbucks or someone she met at a friend's house. Her face lights up, her smile is wide and it makes me so happy to see her embracing her new life. This Friday she has a date and although I can tell she is nervous I also know she's happy about it. I think she's realised that not all men are like her ex and actually she is allowed to have some fun.

Even if this date goes nowhere and they don't 'click' at least she has had a good time, got out there and spoken to other men. She is learning about herself, she is learning about others but most of all she is learning that she can be happy. She still has the odd bad day but they are becoming less frequent and each time I see her in a morning I smile. My friend is herself again, her true self, and now she has no one there telling her she's wrong.

I have watched my friend change over the past year, like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. As a writer watching the process has been great and given me lots of useful insights into relationships and personalities. As a friend it has been both painful and amusing. We're entering the amusing stages now, each time we meet up we're like a couple of teenage girls talking about boys! And you know what? It's exactly what she needs.

Have you seen friends go through changes or is it you that's changing?
How does it make you feel to see the changes?

Linking to #AllAboutYou with Mama_andmore

My Endless Love of Writing

If you've read any of my posts this week you'll know that my eldest boy, BP (who's 9), has been away on a school trip. He gets back at 7pm and I can't wait to hear him tell us about all the things he's seen and done. I'm sure he will talk our ears off when he gets home.

Having BP away has been hard in many ways but the most surprising was my energy levels. I've been so tired this week because of having to occupy LP the whole time and I feel a long weekend of sleeping is well overdue. But the other thing I've missed out on this week is my writing time. I haven't written one word for the book and I'm definitely missing it.

Friday afternoon I stopped, mid-sentence, because BP was ill. I spent the weekend getting him ready for his trip and this week I've spent all my time with LP. Last night I was thinking about getting back to the book but the dreaded self-doubt hit.

What if I can't remember what I was going to write? 

What if it's rubbish? 

Why am I even bothering, I can't write well anyway.

And the rest.

This morning I went for a run outside. I don't usually run outside, there aren't many flat areas near me and I can't run uphill, not yet anyway. However a friend of mine invited me along with her on a route she had mapped out and there were no hills. As I ran along a path I was surrounded by greenery, fields stretched into the distance on both sides of me and a forest ahead. My feet hit the ground and the crunching of the stones under my trainers kept me going, like the beat of music. The wind blew and cooled my burning face. And my muse sat on my shoulder chatting and inspiring me. The. Whole. Time. Typical!

As many writers know the most likely time your muse will show up is when it is simply impossible for you to jot down what he/she/it is saying. After my evening of self-doubt I was so pleased to be hearing her words that I ignored the fact that I couldn't take notes and listened. Not only did her words keep me going on my run but I was somehow able to remember every word and as soon as I got to my car I tapped them into my notes app. And now my writing mojo is back. Yay!

The life of a writer is full of hills and valleys. Sometimes you feel like you can't write one word, it's as if there's something blocking the words coming out of your brain. Other times your fingers can't move quick enough over the keyboard. Your muse always sits in the background, watching. They don't often get involved but when they do it's a truly amazing feeling. The ideas and images they conjure up make you want to write immediately. But the very best thing about being a writer is that it never goes away.

I can spend months with the self-doubt imp or that nasty writer's block monster but sooner or later I know my muse will save me. Some inspiration will hit and I'll be back in front of the computer with my fingers speeding across the keyboard emitting smoke as they go. My love of creating worlds and characters is so deep that it won't ever leave. It's like my love for my children, endless.

Linking up to #AllAboutYou with the lovely Mama_andmore why don't you join us?

Post Comment Love

A Tiring Week

This week has been a tough one, namely because BP has been away and doesn't get back until tomorrow evening. It has been so strange not having him around the house being grumpy and stomping around when he can't get his own way.

The funny thing is that I never realised what BP does for me without really noticing, until this week. It is Thursday morning and it's a beautiful day but all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep. I am truly worn out. Keeping LP busy before and after school every day has been a tough job and I'm about ready to drop. Luckily this afternoon I have a little break while he plays with friends and I have a coffee with the other mums.

I have spent the majority of the week sorting out lego and building things with LP. We have built Mixels and are currently in the process of building a plane. A big plane, with seats and ladders and everything. It even has this tiny little drinks cart! Anyway, LP has requireI'd my attention all the time he's been at home and it's quite draining. Not that I don't love spending time with him but I feel like I've been smiling and laughing and using energy 24/7 since BP left.

My two boys love spending time together (some of the time!) and entertaining one another. They come up with games to play, sit together while playing on iPads or invent new secret handshakes. They have that sibling love-hate relationship and this week I've seen just how useful that is to me. Yes they drive me mad when they're at each other's throats but when they get on they can be left for hours on end while I cook dinner or even sit in front of the computer for a while.

I have missed BP so much this week and know that times like this will come around more often as he grows up. I know that I'm going to have to get used to him being away or being off on his own. I can see that coming and accept it. The thing I'm going to find hardest about it all is the fact that I will become the replacement entertainment for LP.

I think lots of coffee and/or red bull will be in order...

Letting Them Go

When I was a kid, about ten years old I think, all I thought about was going out on my own. Getting that independence was so important to me and I couldn't wait to see the world by myself. By the world I meant my local area but, you know, start small and all that. Not once did I consider how my parents coped with me being on my own, I didn't ask how they felt about it and, if I'm honest, I didn't care.


How do you let them go?

Back then there were no mobile phones, no tracking devices. When you were out no one was able to contact you until you returned home. If you got in trouble you had to deal with it, on your own. It was scary but exhilarating. Being allowed out on your own gave you a chance to learn in a way that you hadn't done so far. 

Fast forward 25(ish) years and now I'm the parent with the ten (almost) year old asking when he can go out and about on his own. He wants to walk home from school on his own, he wants to venture into the world and be independent. And me? I am absolutely terrified by the thought. Anytime I think about letting him out alone I panic and wonder what he would do if he got into trouble. No one has taught him and no one would be there to help. Even as I sit here in front of the computer screen my stomach turns thinking of him on his own.

Now imagine how I feel about my boy going on a week-long trip with school. Yep, petrified. It has been coming for months and I was the one that encouraged him. It sounded like a great opportunity to learn new skills, see some great sights and enjoy time with friends, all with some supervision from teachers. I was happy to sign consent forms and pay for the trip and didn't really think about him actually going away.

He leaves next week. At 6am on Monday morning I will be waking him and making sure he is ready for the week away. I'll smile and tell him to have a great time but inside I'll be screaming. My stomach will be doing somersaults, my heart will be aching and I'll want to cry. I know that he's really excited about going and he'll have a fantastic time, maybe even have some stories to tell when he returns, but none of that makes it easier to cope with the fact that my first baby will be out on his own. 

Given that he's not allowed to take a mobile phone I won't hear from him until he returns on Friday evening. I really don't know how I'm going to cope. I have LP to occupy my mind but I know that he will miss his older brother and probably spend a lot of time asking me when he can go on trips alone. I'm not even entertaining that idea yet.

This weekend will be spent packing and making sure he has all his things ready and when he's in bed I may well have a little cry. The coming week will be the scariest time I have spent as a parent so far.

Have your children spent time away from home? If so, how did you cope?

The Monster in the Mudball Book Review

A while ago we were sent The Monster in the Mudball for the purpose of review. Given that I have to convince BP to read most nights it has taken him a while to get to this book. After he'd finished it it took me a few weeks to get round to discussing it with him. We finally discussed it over the weekend and he let me know what he thought.


The Monster in the Mudball by S.P. Gates


"It was awesome" he said.

Monster in the Mudball blurb
The blurb
Trying to get specifics out of my nine year old is near to impossible but what I found was that he could recall certain parts of the story really well. He could almost recite the words and described what happened in a particular section of the book, even weeks after reading it.

He got through the book in about two weeks and for BP that's some super-fast reading. I didn't have to bug him every night to read the story and he looked forward to going to bed so that he could read. This is one of the first books to make that happen.

The book itself is a hardback and feels sturdy, it's good quality and has thick pages. The cover is brightly illustrated with a picture of a boy on the front which instantly got BP's attention and when he read the blurb he couldn't wait to start reading it. There are no pictures in the book and the type is quite large which, I think, makes it easier for younger readers. With just fifteen chapters, all fairly short, I'd say The Monster in the Mudball is a great starter book for older children.

Monster in the Mudball back cover