Thursday, 27 September 2007

Failed again..

I am supposed to be running three times a week, trying to gradually increase my distance up toward the magic 10k. Hands up who thinks I am managing to do this at the moment? No-one? Correct. I am just not managing to get out in the mornings, which is the best time for me to run. I blame the dark. And by that I don't mean that I am unwilling to run in the dark (or at least that pre-dawn sort of twilight) - I actually quite like it. No, what I mean is that when the alarm goes off at 6am-ish, the fact that the room is still dark means I don't really wake up properly as husband turns off the alarm. At best, I surface briefly like a breeching whale, register that yes, it is indeed dark, and drift back down into the depths of sleep safe in the erroneous assumption that dark = still nightime, and therefore more sleep.

I then wake up at 6.45 and give myself a hearty slap for falling into the trap again. Sigh. I will have to try some cunning ploys to fool myself (hmmm, beginning to sound like I have multiple personalities now). Maybe set myself a separate alarm over my side of the room before the main alarm goes off. Or buy my husband a sharp pole to prod me with. Go to sleep in my running gear and ask husband to just push me out of bed at 6am? (Probably not the last one: I suspect given my extraordinary level of talent at sleeping that I could probably cover a couple of km without actually waking up first. Not wise when you live on a busy road in a city)

Anyway, the effect has been: no running since last Saturday. In my partial defence, lunchtimes haven't been available and anyway 1 hour isn't really enough time to get to the gym, get changed, get a decent run in, get showered and changed back and return to the office. Evenings have been taken up with the usual stuff. Having said that, last night husband and I and both offspring went out for a walk for 40 minutes or so and I could, technically, have gone for a run then instead but I didn't want to miss the walk so, meh.

Glad I went on the walk though - it was up to the nice park near our house - a pleasant walk up there along a private country-ish lane and then while the kids play in the climbing-frame bit, husband and I walk round the perimeter of the larger playing fields. Every time we pass the climbing frame, the boys come scrambling over and invite us to their invisible restaurant/bar. We have to go over and order food and drink (invisible) which they then serve and charge us for. Last night I got nachos for 99p and husband got a seafood platter ("It's got prawns and lobster and scallops and....and......and..........caviar!") with 2 pints of whisky (!) for £2.50. That's cheap even for invisible money.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Back to normal

Well the small boy honeymoon lasted a whole 4 hours and by bedtime they were both getting a stern talking to about not torturing each other. They make each other's lives a misery sometimes by hurtful teasing or actual violence and when I intervene to stop it, somehow I still end up the bad guy. Why is that? Frankly, if I could be sure they only applied this treatment to each other, I would just shut my ears and let them get on with it. It's the worry, however, that if they are allowed to do this to each other at home that they will then do it to someone else at school that makes me dive in and do my UN impression.

I mean, how exactly do you teach a 7 year old boy the difference between mucking about and having fun making jokes on the one hand and deliberately teasing someone about something specific with the intention of hurting them on the other hand? Am I being too paranoid about this? The problem is Second Born is sharp with words, he's clever and quick and very perceptive. The result is that he knows First Born's weak spots (FB is very sensitive at the moment about being slightly overweight) and is very good at homing in on them and reducing FB to tears. You could argue that is just brothers engaging in a bit of rough and tumble (albeit verbally) but it is the fact that SB knows it upsets his brother and deliberately sets out to do just that which bothers me. The possibility that SB could turn this "skill" on other people worries me. That's just bullying isn't it? (And of course because FB has dyspraxia, I am more protective of him when it comes to that sort of stuff because he just finds it more difficult to interpret and cope with the human interactive stuff).

And FB is not quick and perceptive that way, but he is big. So, once SB has reduced him to a sobbing lump of snot and fury, FB loses the rag and lashes out physically. Again, when I own the lash-er and the lash-ee, I could just let it go and let them sort it out. But again, I can't allow that to happen if one of the parties isn't mine, and regardless of the provocation, I can't let FB think that fists and feet are the way to react if you are annoyed with someone. But I understand why he is upset.....

My brain hurts. I came down on the side of trying to explain to a 9 year old and a 7 year old that I fully expect them to fight over stuff, and argue and even engage in a bit of rough and tumble, but that there is a difference between that and engaging in behaviour the whole purpose of which is to deliberately hurt someone, either emotionally or physically, because that is bullying. What do you reckon my chances are? And since they now have to earn the right of access to the computer by not engaging in such behaviour, how long do you reckon it will be before they are back on their beloved Club Penguin? (And will their Puffles survive? Oh the drama!........)

Friday, 21 September 2007

Wellies back..........

......and so is the boy. And almost all of his belongings have also returned safely from camp. Except his waterproof jacket. Which is not a bad result, all things considered. And he must have washed at least once because his facecloth was wet. Of course, there could have been an all-in wet facecloth fight in the dorm, but I prefer to believe there was some hygiene involved.

It was really quite sweet in the school playground this afternoon. Lots of mature, sensible adults barely concealing their nerves as we waited for the buses. Just about everyone in sight had their arms tightly folded across their chests - the low level excitement was almost palpable. And then the first bus arrived and everyone was desparately scanning the windows for a glimpse of their child. Is he there? Is he smiling? Does he look like he had a good time? First Born was on the second bus, grinning like a loon and waving. Fortunately the lump in my throat had dissolved by the time he actually got off and sauntered over to say hi.

So he had a good time and the activities were fun and the food was okay ("I got fish one night which was DELICIOUS but the day everyone else had pizza they gave me sausages in this yucky brown stuff (onion gravy??) which nearly made me vomit!"). One night the teachers all dressed up as Disney characters and they had a game of life-sized Cluedo. First Born's teacher was a dwarf from Snow White, complete with shoes on his knees! I have nothing but admiration for those teachers. They all came off the buses looking shattered!

First Born even brought back a present for his brother, bought with his own spending money, which was a nice touch. And now they're arguing with each other about what they are going to watch on TV and jostling each other round the house. In other words, we are back to normal.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Second Born and Husband have just gone upstairs so Second Born can get ready for bed. They were both singing "Foux da fa fa" by Flight of the Conchords. They were doing the dance moves too. I wonder what it is like to live in a normal house.

Ho ho ho, I'm so witty!

So, hands up who thought that the title of the last post was a clever pun, carefully crafted by yours truly? (You know, "Well, he's off" = "Wellies off"??) No, me neither.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Well, he's off

This past weekend was a long weekend for us up in sunny Edinburgh. Which meant that I could have been spending my time reading and relaxing, or maybe doing some recreational shopping, or perhaps some nice outings with the family. But no. I spent the weekend welly hunting. First Born was due to go to camp this morning and I had eventually managed to get just about everything on the kit list organised, except for wellies. Who knew it was so hard to get wellies to fit a 9 year old boy? Plenty of little kids' wellies, plenty of adult wellies. Plenty of high heeled pink wellies with feathery trim (and oh how I wish I was joking about that) but none in a size 3 suitable for a boy.

Eventually in desparation yesterday, I spent the morning phoning around every place I could think of and making them look to see if they had the elusive items in stock. A pair was at long last located in one of those warehouse-type shoe shops and I set off in the pouring rain to get them, having been assured they had "loads". They in fact had precisely one pair but I did get them! (And a couple of pairs of shoes that were looking at me. I think I may be turning into a girl).

So that pretty much did for Sunday. Monday was spent packing the bag, hunting for the gloves that I know First Born has (I remember sewing the name tapes in), discovering that said gloves have been lost during some dressing up game outside and locating a scuzzy old pair of woolly gloves instead, sewing new name labels into those and muttering. A lot of muttering.

This morning I drove the kids to school, sent Second Born off to his class and went hunting for....well, wherever I was supposed to take First Born and his bag. Turns out FB was given full details on the arrangements for today on Friday but had either forgotten them or hadn't been listening in the first place. So we didn't know which of the 3 possible buses he was supposed to be on. We ended up just picking one on the basis that his bag will get there regardless and his teacher will (hopefully) make sure he does too! Whilst I was sorting this out, FB wandered off into his classroom so I didn't get a chance to say goodbye and wish him luck etc. I suppose this confirms that he was quite relaxed about the whole going-away-from-home thing but the mum in me wanted to send him off with a hug. Oh well.

He doesn't get back till Friday afternoon so we now have a week of pretending to be a one child family. And since FB is allergic to milk in all its forms but SB isn't, we're tempted to go out for pizza. Just because we can!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Run, you stupid bird!

Not me, different stupid bird! Went out for a run the other morning having told husband to prod me with a stick if the alarm didn't seem to wake me. He grunted "alarm" at me and I hauled myself up. It was 6am and it was still pretty much dark! I get the feeling running in the wintertime is going to take some serious willpower.

Anyway, I went out and the sun was just coming up. It was nice, it really was. I ran along a road which goes between a golf course and some fields where sheep, goats and horses are kept. There were rabbits grazing (is that what you call what rabbits do? Or nibbling?) and plenty of birds around. Then a large male pheasant wandered out of the hedge right in front of me. It took one look at the vision of loveliness that is me in my running gear (stretchy lycra crop trousers from Asda, knock-off Calvin Klein t-shirt now 5 sizes too big but I like it, and VERY red face) pounding towards it and it took fright. Naturally. But instead of either going back where it had just come from or indeed FLYING AWAY (cos it's a bird) it started to run away. Up the path in front of me. I kept going. Pheasant kept running. Straight ahead. It was obviously panicking that I was chasing it and was too dim to turn left. Or right. Or fly. Eventually it ran through a gap in the hedge and disappeared from sight, but only because the path turned a corner and the gap was therefore straight ahead. I suspect that if the gap hadn't been right in front of the bird's nose , I mean beak, it would have missed it and be running still. I will make no comment whatsover on the fact that the pheasant was male and any implications that may or may not have for its ability to find anything which is not right in front of it.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Dick Whittington eat your heart out

We had a little skirmish with Second Born last night. Nothing out of the ordinary, just him having a strop because we wouldn't let him go back out to play after 7.00pm (he needs a good half hour to wind down on a school night and then it's time to start getting ready for bed etc). He expressed his unutterable (is that a word? If not, it should be) contempt for this by throwing his training shoes across the living room. He was, not surprisingly, asked to leave the room, go upstairs and reconsider whether this was appropriate behaviour. He duly stomped off, arms folded, brow furrowed.

His elder brother meanwhile capitalised on this by being extra-nice and obedient and helpful, thus ensuring he got to stay downstairs for an extra half hour. No sound from Second Born. I sent First Born up to get ready and after a suitable period of time had elapsed, went upstairs to chivvy them through the last throes of teeth-brushing etc before story time. Discovered Second Born sitting on his bed, in his pyjamas, studiously ignoring me. In front of him on the bed were (1) his cuddly rat puppet, Ratty Guy, (2) £1.25, (3) a couple of unidentifiable pieces of plastic tat.

I was intrigued, but not going to be drawn in. I ignored him. Eventually, he asked "Do you have a cloth?"

Me: A cloth? Why?
Him: To wrap my stuff up in, I am leaving home.
Me: Oh. Are you going in your pyjamas?
Him: No, I am going to sleep first and go in the morning.
Me: Oh, okay. Wouldn't you rather borrow a rucksack? There will be more room in that for your food and stuff
Him: I don't need food. I am going to live outside and just come back in when I need food.
Me: Hmmm, don't think the rules allow that......pretty sure once you tie up your belongings in a cloth on a stick and leave, you're not allowed to come back in for chicken nuggets. I think I read that somewhere.
Him: (Silence)

I got First Born into bed and read the next bit of Harry Potter. As husband and I were giving goodnight hugs and putting out the light, a small exasperated voice said "Oh, ALRIGHT, I'll stay......"

Monday, 10 September 2007

Pay as you go calories

I went out early (ish) on Sunday morning for a run, intending to be out for about 40 minutes. I had no fixed idea of where I was going to go so I just set off down some lanes near the house to see where they took me. It was lovely out - really quiet and peaceful with only the sound of the rabbits running for their lives away from the awful red puffing thing thundering towards them.

I like to pretend I am a real runner by wearing a heart rate monitor when I am out. I don't do anything clever with it like interval training or trying to actually keep my heart rate in the recommended zone (that would be fruitless anyway: one of the first things I had to do with it was to turn off the sound as the anguished beeping it emitted every time my heart rate exceeded the recommended level was distracting me. Constantly). No, I use it primarily for two things: checking how long I have been running for ("Only 10 minutes???? You have to be kidding me, I am DYING here!") and monitoring how many calories I am burning ("Only 50????? You have to be kidding me!" etc.) It was whilst doing the second of these things that I idly watched how many calories were being burned and, particularly, how much running I had to do to burn off 30 calories.

When I am pottering about in the kitchen (which I do a lot) sometimes I just have to eat something......anything, and what I tend to eat is black sesame rice cakes. They are quite tasty and only have 27 calories per cake. It occurred to me, watching that calorie count on the HRM crawl past 27 calories as I struggled along the road, that if I was told that I could only have a rice cake if I earned the calories for it first, I probably wouldn't bother. It just wouldn't seem worth the effort. But because there is no-one doing that when I am mooching about making the kids' packed lunches, I just go ahead and eat one. Or five. Without even thinking about it. And that's when I realised that what all of us who find weight control so hard really need is pay-as-you-go calories. Some system that means you can eat whatever the hell you like PROVIDED you earn the calories first. That would really hammer home the connection between your activity level and your calorie intake. It's just a pity that what real life presents us with instead is a calorie credit card with no upper limit.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen

I was at a parents' meeting at school last night. First Born, who is currently 9, is due to go away to camp at the end of September for 3 nights. The meeting was to let us anxious parents (none of whom were thinking "Free for 3 nights! Wahoo!", no sirreee, not at all) know what was involved at camp, what the arrangements were and how much kit we would have to buy for our little bundles (answer: shedloads. And I have to sew a name label into every. damn. thing).
I have been worried at a low level, well maybe not worried, just slightly concerned, about how FB will manage away for 4 days. He is looking forward to it but of course I am focussing on the potential pitfalls. FB has dyspraxia and this tends to mean that as well as having difficulty with balance and movement, he finds it difficult to focus and concentrate and remember instructions. I mean, even more difficult than the average nine year old boy. It is not unusual, for example, to send FB upstairs to brush his teeth and get dressed for school and to go up 15 minutes later to find him wearing boxer shorts and 1 sock, staring into space, completely engrossed in whatever is going on in his head. He does not mean to be disobedient, he just.....well, something occurred to him and he went with it.
So aside from the performance that is going to ensue when they try to get him into a kayak, there is every chance he will just "forget" to change his underwear. Or wash. For a week. I am thinking of starting a sweepstake and taking bets on how many of his belongings which leave Edinburgh actually make it back with him.
I am, however, taking heart from the fact that when the head teacher asked if we could impress on our children the need to hang towels up otherwise they would not dry, EVERY parent in the room guffawed in a "Like THAT'S going to happen!" sort of way. Maybe FB is more like a normal 9 year old than I thought.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

No more silver men

Do you know what has been lovely this past week? Being able to walk around in Edinburgh without seeing anyone painted silver. Or blue. Or any 6 foot obviously-rugby-playing blokes dressed only in a nappy and carrying a dummy and a bottle. There has been a noticeable absence of gangs of posh young chaps attired as cleaning ladies, inclusive of pinny, Hilda Ogden headscarf and curlers. No-one has thrown themselves on the pavement in front of me declaring "I die! I die!" I haven't heard any pan pipes. Or didgeridoos. And nobody has tried to stuff leaflets into my pockets (or put them on top of the pile of files I am carrying - grrrrrrr!) because I won't voluntarily take one. No-one believes their entire happiness depends on persuading me to see their groundbreaking performance of Hamlet in medieval Serbo-Croat. In short, the Festival is over for another year. Thank God.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Forgive me for I have......strayed a bit

Right, time to own up.
Things I have eaten in the past fortnight that I shouldn't have (and what's more I hadn't eaten for months!):

1. Chocolate (lots)
2. Scampi
3. Chicken liver pate (bucketload)
4. Crisps (I don't even really like crisps!)
5. Pizza. More than once
6. Chinese takeaway. More than.........three times (!)
7. Chocolate torte, strawberries and cream (heavenly and it was at a wedding so I can be forgiven. But not for the fact that I ate two helpings because my friend doesn't do sweets)
8. Cheese. Oh god, lots of cheese. If it wasn't for cheese, I would be built like Kate Moss. Well, slight exaggeration but cheese is my downfall quite often.

Things I haven't done for the past couple of weeks:
1. Run, really
2. Any other kind of meaningful exercise.

As a result, I am feeling blech and I've put on about half a stone from the lowest weight I had got to. When I fall off the wagon I do it with style and dedication. So, this week, back on the straight and narrow. I know I feel better when I eat sensibly (ie have some of those things listed above but only a little and NOT ALL THE TIME!!) and get out and move my backside a bit.
I have amended my goals to reflect a black tie "do" I have to go to (and find an outfit for) at the beginning of October so I want to shift some of this weight gain by then and of course I have agreed to run the Bupa Great Edinburgh Public Humiliation of Death 2008 next May so I need to start a nice gentle training schedule for that.
Went out for a run yesterday morning - just 20 minutes to ease back in and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but it wasn't that good either. So, I hereby promise:

I will run at least three times a week on my own (ie not toddling along with one or other of the boys but proper running. I will still go out with the boys at weekends if they want but it won't count as one of my three).
I will get at least one session of some other form of cardio in per week (more if I can manage it)
I will avoid acting like a black hole and sucking all food within a 50 foot radius into the gravitational pull of my gob. (I will still have one chinese takeaway a week and some cheese though - have to keep my spirits up!)

Right, I have promised now - you (the imaginary person in my head who reads this) have to make me stick to it. Kate Moss watch yer back!

Monday, 3 September 2007

What was I thinking?

Um. I appear to have agreed to run the 2008 Bupa Great Edinburgh Run. In my defence, I was caught on the hop. One minute I was discussing the payment of a tax bill with the cashier in my office and the next minute.....I was saying "Yeah, sure, that would be fun!" in response to the question "How would you like to humiliate yourself in public and leave yourself unable to walk or get out of a chair without assistance?" Well, she didn't phrase it like that (I might have twigged quicker if she had) but that's really what the question meant.

I initially came off the phone thinking "It's only 10km, it's not till next May so I have time to prepare, it'll be fine". Then I looked at the route of the run on the web. And then I died. You have to run along Princes Street (people! watching me run!) and up the Mound (people watching me expiring on a hill!) AND THEN round a bit of Holyrood Park (another hill and I ran that one in the Race for Life and it is HARD!) and you're still not finished! Eek!

I think I had better get training. Or change my name and move.