London · Move Over · The Kidlets · To Move

The Moaning

…and not of the sexy variety.  Moaning about the weather is part of being British and I’ve embraced it whole heartedly.  Ordinarily my complaints about the weather are different to everyone else’s but I think everyone’s cool with that.  I’m a gloomy weirdo who’s fond of the rain, cool weather (10-15 degrees is my favourite!  5-10 degrees whilst sunny is even more glorious, but very rare) and I even adore the snow and ice now that I don’t have to drive in it.

Anywho!  The moaning I’m referring to is over the 2012 London Olympics.  I know there have been big issues over the past 12 or so months (eg. the ticketing and more recently the private security company hired for the games messing up) but all in all I think the Olympics are something to be hugely proud of.  I’m crazy excited about not only living in this wonderful city whilst the games are on but also to be seeing 3 events (albeit not very exiting ones, but hey! we took what we could get).  It makes me want to puff my chest up proud to be a Londoner!

I completely agree that the strain on London’s Transport System is going to be a pain in the behind.  Already travel has become more difficult and we’re still a few days out from the Opening Ceremony but considering the huge amount of tourists who have already started to pour into the city, is it really surprising?  So many times I’ve heard moaning about the Olympics being a huge waste of money and resources and a big disruption to everyone’s lives.  I just don’t get it!  Isn’t it an honour to hold such a huge event in the U.K?  Won’t it bring thousands of tourists who will spend money on accommodation, food, sight-seeing and more?  Isn’t it something to be proud of?  A huge achievement and the opportunity for the U.K to be in the limelight.  Sounds like a positive thing to me.

Yes the adding an Olympic lane business on London’s roads is a disaster just waiting to happen (have you heard that they are ditching some “bus lanes” and painting over them with the silly olympic lane logo? currrraaaazy town!) and I cringe to think about the chaos that is about to ensue.  In the end though those are all obstacles that everyone will work around and it might even be worthy of a giggle in years to come (maybe).  The whole planning process certainly hasn’t been perfect but in the end, we get to host a huge event that will have the worlds eyes looking at London and that’s got to be worth a bit of inconvenience.

Londoners already expect travelling to get a little annoying in the summer time when we’re inundated with tourists.  As a foreigner who was once one of those tourists most of the time they make me smile.  I love seeing them wide-eyed taking in the sights with their map in one hand and camera in the other.  It’s refreshing seeing the little things I take for granted through a visitors eyes.  A little nudge reminding me to appreciate all that London has to offer.

I happily take people’s photo for them when asked and I even kinda love it when someone asks me for directions and I know the way (for the record I’m atrocious with directions but boy do I try!  I can picture it in my head but it comes out of my mouth a bit gobble-dee-gook and I’m sure half the time they smile, nod and ask the next person they see).

Yes certain things annoy the heck out of me (Please, for the love of all things stripey, Stand on the Right when travelling down the escalators!) but all in all it’s part of living in a big city and I’m okay with that.  If anything it makes me feel proud to live here because other people appreciate all those things that drew me to London.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I curse tourist season. Last week with all the kids in tow I had two run in’s with the crowds whilst just trying to go about our normal routine.  The first time was on the way to the Dentist.  I should have seen that one coming since we had to go via Westminster but the groups of tourists gawking at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament blocking the walk way were frustrating all the same.  The second time was at Baker Street Station on our way to Fencing lessons, the groups mulling about waiting to go into Madame Tussaud’s made my head feel like it was going to explode.  I was a flustered sweaty mess by the time we got to our destination!  I’ve had to accept that sometimes I just have to be rude and loudly excuse myself whilst pushing through groups of people.  It makes me feel a bit mean and rude, but It’s part of living here and one day I imagine these moments will make for fond memories.

Yes, things will be a bit more hectic and over run in the next few months but I’m trying to look on the bright side.  I don’t even like watching sports, or playing them for that matter (unless there’s a who-can-sit-on-their-bottom-the-longest-without-it-going-numb Olympic event?) but hosting the Olympics and showing off this great city to the world feels awesome!

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Move Over · The Kidlets

Master 11’s Birthday Sleep-Over

Can I just say that after having 6 rowdy boys under one roof for the past 24 hours, 3 boys is going to seem gloriously quiet at 4pm today when Master 11’s mates head home.

I won’t make this a wordy one, I think the photos speak for themselves.

Cake, water-fight’s, lots of playstation and a pile of boys watching movies and hanging out in our living room for the night.  Oh and food, lots and lots of food!

Star Wars 3 tier cake

star wars cake 3-Tier

Move Over · Weight Loss

Fighting the Internal Tantrum

It’s been 3 and half years since I took an interest in Diet and Nutrition and decided to make big changes in my lifestyle and eating habits.

By the end of 2008 I was at a low point.  I weighed more than I ever had before.  In fact I weighed exactly as much as I had whilst 37 weeks pregnant only without a baby growing in my belly.  I was emotionally and compulsively eating, my biggest danger zones being eating whilst driving and snacking in front of the computer after midnight.  I was sneaking around, throwing out packets and wrappers on the drive home so I wouldn’t be caught having consumed such ridiculous quantities of junk.  I was racing out to the shop to replace packets of corn chips and biscuits to cover up my latest binge. I was out of control and my weight was climbing at an alarming rate.

January 2009 came around and I was so totally over being fat and miserable. I knew I needed to make changes (big ones!) and so I started researching healthy diet and lifestyle.  I joined the gym and started slowly improving my eating.

Here’s a brief overview of the kinds of things I was doing wrong:

  • Skipping breakfast 4 out of 7 days
  • Eating a McDonald’s breakfast on the way to drop the kids off at school on the other 3 days
  • No set lunch just endless snacking on crap from mid-morning right through until the kids bath time
  • If I did eat lunch it was normally take-out and it was usually whilst driving, possibly not until I was on my way to pick the kids up from school at around 2:30pm
  • I’d eat some kind of baked good (and not the kind I baked myself, think 7-11 donuts and a whole packet of chocolate biscuits) at least twice a day, normally more
  • I ate large quantities of pasta or white breads at least once a day
  • Vegetables were only ever incidental (the onion on my pizza counts, right? That burger had two whole pieces of tomato on it…)
  • The worst time of day was after 11pm, when I’d begin snacking and continue right on through until 2 or 3am
  • I drank zero water.  Unless you want to count the water I made my coffee with then it’s zip, zilch, nothing!  On Friday night’s I’d have dinner at my Mum’s and drink her bottled water so Friday’s I probably managed 800mL’s
  • Walking was incidental, yes I’d do that thing where you park a long way from the entrance to the shops so you’re forced to walk but that was the total sum of my exercise on any given day

The sad thing is that I was feeding the kids mostly nutritious food yet I stuffed myself with sugar and empty calories all day long.  I served the kids vegetables with their dinner every night and often at lunch time yet I very rarely ate any myself.  I’d pester the kids to drink more water but I drank none.  I wouldn’t let the kids eat too much sugar yet I stuffed my face with it on car journey’s several times a day.  I made the kids go into the back yard to play during the day so they’re run around and get some exercise yet I sat in front of my computer screen all day, every day not moving at all.  Craziness!

Why am I fighting the internal tantrum of late and needed to come here to vent?  I’m feeling a bit shitty and down because I’ve made so many changes over the past 3 and a half years yet I step on the scales each morning to find myself not far off my starting weight (5kg’s lower most days but the number creeps up regularly).  It makes me mad.  Mad at myself for having tiny slips every now and then that somehow add up to the same weight gain from years gone by.  Mad at my body for being so sensitive to weight gain despite 99% of what I’m eating being really healthy.  Mad because sometimes being angry is all there is left when you’ve tried and failed time and time again and you just want to scream and cry.

I look at the changes I’ve made and whilst on a good day I’m proud, lately it feels so unjust to still be struggling with my weight so many years on.

The permanent changes I’ve made:

  • I eat breakfast every morning
  • I drink my coffee black and my tea with a tiny splash of milk.  I’m not saying that to be healthy others should drink their tea and coffee this way.  For me I just feel like that’s a huge leap in the right direction from my former life where every morning I made myself a milky coffee with a shot of flavoured syrup (pure sugar) and my tea with milk and two sugars
  • Breakfast is either a high fibre cereal or eggs (no toast).  Yes I realise the cereal doesn’t fall under low-carb/paleo but I figure I can cross it off the list when I eventually manage to eat enough veggies that I don’t need the extra fibre in the mornings (baby steps)
  • I’ve cut out sugar almost all together.  On birthdays I find it impossible baking a cake without licking the spoon and having a slice.  I’m just not strong enough
  • The only baked goods I ever eat are the ones I bake myself.  This doesn’t always equal healthy (think birthday cakes and cheesecake!) but at least I know what I’m eating and once it’s gone I’d have to go to the trouble of making more myself if I want to continue the gorge-fest.  It’s a mentality more than anything.  The old me would eat a donut I bought after filling up the car at the 7-11 and then want more.  I’d go through the next McDonald’s drive through to satiate my sugar craving and then when that was finished the cycle would continue…
  • I eat salad/veggies with dinner every night and often with lunch too and they’re served with a healthy piece of meat or eggs, not stuffed onto a white bun with a crappy sauce and greasy burger patty
  • Snacks even of the midnight variety are raw nuts and seeds
  • I drink at least 1.5 Litres of water every day.  I know I should drink more and most days I do but a bare minimum of 1.5 Litres isn’t anything to scoff at when you compare it to zero
  • I don’t drive any more, I walk
  • I walk a minimum of 40 minutes on a school day

All these changes yet fighting off the weight gain is such a painful struggle.  Worse is that I lost over 10kg’s and let so much of it creep back on.

I know I could do better.  I know I should do better, but some days it just feels so damn unfair.  I watch people eating ridiculously large portions of crappy fast food and they are no bigger than me.  I watch my own husband diet full on for a measly 6 months and lose all his excess weight.

I know I should just be thrilled for him, but I burn with jealousy.  It eats me up inside and makes me want to shout and scream at the universe.  It makes me want to throw myself on my bed teenager style, kick my legs and bawl my eyes out like the world is falling down around me.

Logically despite still being a fatty I’m sure my insides must be healthier than they once were.  Surely some good must come out of all the things I’ve changed, all the treats I’ve given up.  Right?  Is that enough to make it all worth while?  It certainly doesn’t change that my belly fat puts me at higher risk of heart disease and type II Diabetes.  Eating right but still being overweight certainly doesn’t make my self esteem any higher.

There’s no easy solution here.  I’ll keep plodding on, trying not to slip when one of the kids brings home a snack size pack of oreos from a party bag at school and offers me one.  I’ll try and make even more changes (though at this point I feel like all the quick fixes have been done and only the nit-picking like drinking the full 2 Litres EVERY day are left) but just for the moment it all seems very, very unfair.

London · Move Over · United Kingdom

Death Stares From Your Children…

…happen when you lump them in a large crowd beside the Thames and then break the news to them that we’ll be waiting 2 hours.  A tedious 2 hour wait for the chance to see the Queen and the Royal Family heading down the Thames in the flotilla celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!

The boats in front of us were filled with lucky people (slightly richer people?) who had paid for a much better view.  We were happy with our free view amongst the crowd.  Sure I hate crowds almost as much as seeing the number on the scale go up instead of down but the atmosphere was kinda fun.  Crazy peeps dressed in Red, White and Blue donning flags and funny masks of the royal family whilst boozing it up in the rain.  How much more British can you get?

All in all it was a great experience.  Yes we would have seen more in front of our t.v screen but it felt like we were part of something standing out in the rain with thousands of other eager onlookers!

There was however one down side and it came in the form of a middle-aged woman.  Skip this next bit if you like, it’s purely a bit of after-the-fact venting!


First, take note of the woman behind Master 11 with her feet shoved right in between his feet (brown shoes, grey and pink striped pants) and her raised knee (I didn’t notice this at the time).

…now take a look at how much space she had behind her to “take a step back”.  The only thing behind her is an older gentlemen’s camera case (minus his camera).

…and let me tell you, in the crowds along the river bank yesterday she was one of the few who could move in any direction other than with the ebb and flow of the crowd.

This middle-aged woman continued to berate out kids for “leaning on her”.  On and on she went every 15 minutes making another snide remark at Master 11 and Master 8 telling them to, “stand on their own two feet” or “stop putting all your weight on me” or “stand up straight will you!”.

At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt and told them to stand up straight and lean on the wall.  I know my kids are used to leaning on me so it might have just been force of habit leaning on an adult behind them.

…as time wore on (we waited 2 hours) I started to notice that the kids space was getting smaller and smaller and the space between myself and her and Mitch and her (we switched places about an hour in so I was in front of him) was growing larger and larger…

I did mention loudly that the kids space was getting smaller and smaller to Mitch during one of her requests for them to, “stand up straight”.  I did however once again gently remind the kids to lean forward on the wall and not lean backwards.

When the flotilla had reached our part of the river and she had her camera out she had begun inching forward even further.  Then she made a big error in judgement and she complained to me, as though I would be on board ready to give my kids an earful right along with her.

As you can imagine after standing on my feet for 2 hours, trying to keep 3 kids from moaning too loudly, poking each other with their flags or wriggling terribly much my patience was hanging by a thread.

I took a deep breath not wanting to make a scene whilst trapped beside this woman with a large crowd all around us.  I gave her a stern talking to about her being welcome to take a step back instead of crowding my kids in further and further by the minute, Mitch jumped in with a few helpful tips, “we’re all squashed” and “if it’s not your cup of tea maybe watch on the telly next time?”.  I don’t think she got the response she was hoping for.

When faced with the likes of two grown adults she was too cowardly to continue and became all of a sudden very, very quiet.

We watched for a little while longer and then made our way out of the crowd for a pretty wet and sludgy, but gloriously un-crowded walk home.

I began to have a laugh with Master 11 about how unlucky he was to have had such a moaner behind him, and then he began to fill us in on the whole story.

Not only had this woman been nudging up closer and closer to the front but she had actually put her feet between his and begun kneeing him in the back and poking him with her knuckles.

Yes, you read that correctly!  A grown woman kneeing, poking and using her greater height and strength up against an 11-year old boy who was trying not to squash his 8-year-old brother.

I wish he had told me whilst it was happening or had cried out telling her to stop hurting him.  I saw him holding his ground and complaining he had to put his knee up on the wall in front of him to stop himself being shoved against the wall but I had no idea this vicious woman was childishly trying to over power him to make him move out the way.  Master 11 had just tried to stand his ground and protect his brother.

Master 8 and Master 11 then went on to explain how the whole drama had begun, not long after we arrived.  A different woman had been up against the wall at the front of the crowd and had decided to leave once the rain started to fall (can’t blame her).  She had seen our children (clearly at a disadvantage being too short to see) and had told them they could take her spot.  As this lovely woman moved out of her spot the horrid woman moved forward to take the empty spot.  Our kids got there first, after being told by the lovely woman that they could stand there they didn’t hesitate (they didn’t shove mind you, they were nearest to the spot and didn’t even consider that it was a race between them and another woman).  Clearly this horrid woman had felt herself robbed of a better viewpoint and from that moment on decided to try and muscle the kids out through silently using force.

I think perhaps she thought that if she demonized our kids for “leaning on her” that I would move my kids out of the way and let her take the spot she felt was rightfully her’s.  Or perhaps she thought they might cry and feel bad and leave of their own accord.  Maybe she’s so childish she didn’t know what her own motives were other than being steaming mad and needing to lash out at some one.

I was so disgusted once I heard this and was tempted to walk back and speak with her, if only to make it clear that I knew what she’d been doing and to tell her to grow the heck up. Unfortunately I don’t think it would have done any good and the crowd was pretty thick behind us.  I guess if you can make it to your 50’s without growing-up then a peeved mother giving you a piece of her mind probably isn’t going to make any difference.

I can’t believe I was so blind to what was actually happening to my kiddo’s.  If Mitch and I hadn’t been behind this woman holding off the rest of the crowd then she would have quite happily allowed our kids to be squashed right up against that wall.  All for a better view and a few photos?    You can see from our photos that I could barely see a thing (being quite short and with a man taller than I in front of me) but there’s no point being so vicious, especially when it’s directed at children.

…Vent Over!


There wasn’t a hope of us being able to see the Queen from this distance without some heavy duty binoculars but just knowing she was just over there and we were all cheering and celebrating together was enough for me.

Happy Snaps Diamond Jubilee Flotilla Tower Bridge

How have you celebrated the Diamond Jubilee long weekend (even with the frequent down-pours and slightly muddy surroundings)?

London · Move Over · The Kidlets

Empty Boxes : You Never Outgrow Them

Most parents have experienced buying their baby or toddler an age appropriate and rigorously researched gift only to have their little one spend the next 3 hours playing with the wrapping paper and/or box.

 

We finally got a new fridge (oh how I love cold milk and yoghurt!), but our 6, 8 and (recently turned) 11-year-old kids were much more interested in the giant box it came in!

From morning until late in the evening the box got a good work out and we ended the night with a long nerf battle (the box was used for cover).  Needless to say they passed out within moments of their heads hitting the pillow that night!