Friday 29 January 2016

Weekends Mean Work

It's the weekend, so the mental list of tasks which must be completed has begun to build in my head. It is very rare to have a weekend without the to do list these days and I long for the times when I can simply ask C 'what shall we do this weekend?' But it hardly ever happens.

So far the to do list for this weekend consists of:
  • Mark two sets of books - English (extended piece of writing, so in depth marking of 27 books) and Science (and intensive week's work in all 30 books). I reckon this is a solid five hours work, or longer since it will almost certain only happen once C is asleep, I am tired and not terribly efficient.
  • Remove and replace the marking symbols sheet in the front of my English books
  • Laundry
  • Change the three blown light bulbs around the house. I've been putting this off for a few weeks now because of painful shoulders, but the house is starting to get dark.
  • Book a groom for Wicket. He can't see properly!
  • Grocery shopping. This is actually getting a bit urgent!
  • File household paperwork and tidy the dining table so we can actually dine at it
  • Take C's 4th birthday photo
  • Empty the bins (yes, I know this is a small task but it all adds up)
This is all before I add in time for cooking and clearing away meals and other general bits of housework (thank goodness for my brilliant cleaner!).

Obviously the most glaring omission in the list is spending quality time with C, which is the most important item on the to do list. It means that a lot of the rest of the to dos are shoved into the post 7:30pm slot, when C is in bed and hopefully asleep. It means a lot of pressure to get the jobs done in limited time, and it usually means some of that time comes from sleep time.

When I write it all out like this I can understand why I start most weekends feeling like they have already gone!

Friday night, on the way home I am always full of great intentions of knocking several items off the list. In reality, with a small child in the mix, it never quite happens. Perhaps I should just post this, do the bedtime routine and then pop on a wash load.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Being Fat is Not a Choice

It has taken 24 years for me to write this post, but now seems like a good time to share my thoughts. Let me be clear; I love my body. I love the home it gives to my brain, that it lets me get up in the morning and see, hear and feel the world around me. I love that it means I can go places and have amazing experiences in it. It works well. Yes, there are some aches and pains but it is mostly pretty healthy.

I don't love its size. My fault, right? Should have been more careful, did it to myself, just need to stop eating the wrong stuff and do more exercise, right? Right? Well, no! In the simplest terms possible, you might be partly right, and I might even agree with you. But becoming overweight is not a simple issue. I did not wake up one morning and think "I know, I think I'll put on weight so that I can spend my adult years fat, and ridiculed by strangers".

I was 18 when I started to gain weight. I am not going to go into the contributing factors but I will simply say I went through a series of traumatic events which left me with depleted self-esteem and major paranoia. I didn't gain weight fast - it was a slow, hardly noticeable at first, process. And since I didn't really care about myself then, and I barely ever looked in a mirror, I didn't really notice.

Being fat is not a choice - more like a pit that you accidentally fall into. It's not an easy pit to get out of either. You can't just walk out of it. You have to fight, and dig your way out, and you have to have the right combination of tools too. You have to have to have energy, motivation, patience, self-esteem, encouragement, time, persistence and strength. I have had all of these tools at one time or another, but never all together. I'm still working on that. And I'm still fat. Don't hate me for that - I'm actually a good, hardworking person.

It seems to me that overweight people are the final remaining group that it is perfectly acceptable to publically abuse and discriminate against. It is not ok to discriminate on grounds of gender, race, religion, sexual preference, gender choices or disability, but if you are fat, for any reason, you are fair game - and 'it's your own fault'. When you judge me as lazy, dirty, a fat slob, a blimp or a whale or any other countless assumptions and unpleasant taunts, you write me off. Why is it ok to do that, just because I am overweight?

And yes, I did use the word discriminate, and yes it is a strong word. I am overweight and I'm pretty big, but not the biggest, yet when I travel on a plane, the seat arms dig into my thighs the whole journey. Tube seats are the same (and I can tell when you are deliberately digging your elbows into me, even though I am pulling my arms in front of me in an effort to make myself as small as possible. Passive aggressive much?). I avoid restaurant seats with arms too. And I have done the walk of shame, getting off a fairground ride because I didn't fit, to the sniggers of the other riders. These are just a few examples. So yes, I feel discrimination.

Can we all agree that the outside of one's house is far less important than the inside? After all we spend most of our time on the inside looking out. I don't dismiss the outside, it needs to have some curb appeal, I get it. I don't truly believe that being fat takes all your curb appeal either, though I have to fight my preconceptions on that, based on the constant bombardment of media properganda that only thin will do.

Yep, I'd love to be thinner. And I'm not going to give up trying to get there either, but I am fed up of being bombarded with messages from all angles that I am not good enough, that I should hate myself for being fat, or that it is a choice that I should snap out of, or that I 'just need to eat healthier and start exercising more'. It is not that easy and it is not that simple and it was definitely, never a choice.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Back to Blogging

I'm back! I have massively missed my blog but circumstances have meant that I had to take it down for a while. However, I can now reinstate it and it feels great to be back. There have been a number of occasions when I have had a random thought or two and thought 'that would be a great blog post' but I just never seemed to have the discipline to jot it down as a draft post.

So, here we are back on-line. I will try to be more disciplined about posting although, I now have a small person running round the house which makes life both more entertaining and more busy, so we shall see!

Latest paintings

Being on adoption leave has many advantages, one of which is that I finally get to attend one of Brian Campbell's painting summer schools; something I have wanted to do for some time. I had one painting which needed to be finished but my main painting came from a photo taken only a few days earlier during our trip to Allonby beach. I expected that this painting would take me most of the three days I had booked, so I was very surprised when I managed to start and finish this in two days, leaving me a day to start another.

Flying a kite (finished):

You can see how it developed here.

Four on the beach:
Source photo

So, having unexpectedly finished an entire painting, I needed to start another. This time I decided to really challenge myself, choosing an image which has lots of fine detail. The final picture is where I got to by the end of my final day. It still needs a good couple of hours work on it.

Mayesbrook pond:
Source photo

Saturday 9 March 2013

Cutting Back

Matching panel was very positive and brought huge relief as panel were happy to recommend the match. It has lifted an enormous weight from my shoulders and now, knowing who is going to be my child has freed me from the uncertainty of the whole process and allowed me to concentrate on getting everything ready for their arrival.

Finishing up all of my work commitments is obviously a priority and I am going to feel quite a tug leaving my class part way through the year. However, this is the point in my life where my priority shifts from work, to home life and it has been a long time coming.

Getting things ready at home is progressing well and honestly, my child could move in tonight and we would cope just fine. There is still a list of stuff to buy and a couple of small jobs still to do but on the whole it's done.

As for the cutting back, that was today's theme. Wicket went to yet another new groomer, who turned out to be great (and local). He looks super cute in his shortest cut to date. He should make a good first impression with my child in a few weeks.

The garden also had some major cutting back in the form of some major tree surgery. My great willows, planted as saplings 12 years ago and now taller than the house, had a 30% reduction and trim in order to let more light into the garden and make them safe. This should allow me to reseed the lawn after a damp and shady year which resulted in a large mud patch. Hopefully, this summer I will have a lawn for toddler and Wicket to play on.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Nearly There

Only a few days to go before matching panel. The moment when the potential future of my family is decided. This has been a roller coaster of a journey especially since I was approved as an adopter and matching began.

I am feeling quietly confident about a positive outcome but with everything that has happened I know that I also should be cautious.

The room is ready, my introduction books are ready, I am mentally as ready as I can be until my child arrives and I feel like everything is holding its breath.

Please send out good thoughts and keep your fingers crossed for us.

To Do List 2

In 2008 I made a To Do list of things in London I wanted to get around to doing. I thought it was time to revisit my list, especially as my life is about to change so dramatically.

This is my list from 2008.
My mum brought up a couple more:
  • Visit Columbia Road Flower Market
  • Visit Petticoat Lane
To my shame I have only got around to completing three of those goals, and I had already joined the orchestra. To my further shame, a lovely sushi restaurant opened up in Barking, virtually on my door step, but I only went twice, and now it has closed down. Not my fault entirely, I know. Perhaps Barking is just not ready to swap chicken and chips for sushi, but I could have patronised it more regularly. I have been to Spitalfields a couple of times now and think it is wonderful. Definitely somewhere I'll go again especially since they are dog friendly.

So my new list goes like this:
I am sure that there are more things I can add, but at and average of 3 met goals in 5 years and the hopeful addition of a daughter next month, I think it will do for now!

A Bit of a Scare

This is what I looked like yesterday during the worst of an allergic reaction which started very slowly on Friday morning with a swollen eyelid and a line of itchy spots which I though were bites. During the day the itching and spots spread gradually and by lunch time the itching was quite bad. By afternoon things were progressing fast. My back, neck and back of my head were covered with hives and I couldn't stop scratching. A phone call for an appointment to the doctors for an emergency appointment ended in being told to go straight to A&E.

The suspicion was that I was having an allergic reaction to the Amoxicillin that I was taking for my loss of smell and taste (still not returned) following a bad virus a few weeks ago. Untreated this can develop into Anaphylaxis.

After waiting for an hour and a half to be seen at the hospital, the hives had spread and were all over my chest, stomach, top of my head, round my face and even onto my legs. I was checked for wheezing and heart beat to establish that there was no onset of Anaphylaxis, and thankfully there wasn't. The allergy was treated aggressively because it was spreading fast and I was given an immediate dose of steroids and a prescription for more, along with strong antihistamines which I needed to take as soon as possible. I took one of these as soon as I got home. After falling asleep for and hour or so I wok up feeling a lot less itchy and with signs of the hives going down. they certainly weren't spreading any more.

Today I still have slightly swolen eyelids and there are still a few faint hive marks, but I am more or less back to normal - tired but otherwise fine. I have another 4 days of steroids and antihisamines to take and hopefully that will be the last of the allergic reaction.

The only mystery which remains is, what did I react to? The doctor felt that a reaction to the Amoxicillin was unlikely since I had been taking it for 8/9 days. However, I can think of nothing else which I have recently changed. I haven't eaten anything new, my washing powder and conditioner are the same I always use. I have been using my current toiletries and cosmetics for a while now. This only leaves the Amoxicillin. On reading up about it there are a few sources that say that allergy can start at any time, even a week after treatment has stopped. This seems to be the only explanation. I am certainly not going to finish the course I was on.

This was a scary experience and difficult to cope with on my own, particularly that hour and a half in the waiting room as the itching spread. Thank goodness for the support of friends and family via texts and Facebook, not to mention the support of my friends at school who looked after me and covered my class at the end of the day so I could get to the hospital. To all of them, I send a huge thank you.

Monday 31 December 2012

Christmas Trollbeads

This year I have not really bought myself any Trollbeads - there have been other spending priorities. However my collection has still grown a little, mainly thanks to gifts for Christmas.
Artisan bead - Beach-combing (my only purchase this year)

Left to right: Giraffes (birthday gift 2011), Beach-combing, Hydrangea (Christmas gift) and, behind, Three Siblings (Christmas gift from my three nephews)

The Dog and The Beach

Newly groomed, it was inevitable that Wicket would find the quickest excuse to get mucky again. He had plenty of opportunities on the beach. Mawbray is a fabulous place for a dog walk; a lovely wild stretch of beach with ever changing colours and moods. Considering the time of year, it was relatively mild and the wind was not too biting.

This time last year it was blowing a gale, and bitterly cold. Wicket, at just 3 months old, was quite quickly over the excitement of a new place and looking for a lift in my arms. This time we managed a good hour running around on the beach with Snoopy and he showed no signs of having had enough. Both dogs were reluctant to return to the car.

Snoopy shows off his confidence in jumping small streams. Wicket doesn't.

A beach-eye view of Scotland across the Firth.

Wicket digs a hole to stick his nose into.

The sunset painted a Turner sky.

While the dogs played on.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Just Call Me Mummy...

Five years ago I was heartbroken at the prospect of never being a mum. I was starting to resign myself to the fact that I might never have children. In May 2010 I made a decision not to resign myself to childlessness, but to adopt a child who needed the kind of loving family I could give.

At the end of March this year, to mark the end of three days of prep group training, we all placed a star in a cake and made a wish for the future. Yesterday I came one step closer to that wish becoming reality. I recieved the phone call which confirmed that I have officially been approved as an adopter.

Today there is no doubt, I am going to be a mum, now it is just a question of when.