Thursday, 2 July 2015

Gym Instructors; No Match for a Gym Buddy.




I was fed up. What I wanted was a friend. My best friend, Anna, to be precise. That and a few glasses of wine, my body weight in chocolate, maybe even a holiday in the sun...

Nothing like a spot of PND to make you reassess your life balance. Much as the nightly glass of vino was doing a grand job boosting my serotonin, I had a nagging feeling there must be a healthier way off the tablets. Had she not moved away, Anna - an awesome Personal Trainer - would be kicking my mood into touch with one of her hardcore workouts and massage/ torture sessions.

We used to go to the gym together all the time. Back when she lived the other side of town rather than the other side of the world. Back before we had kids and were averaging more than quarter of an hour to ourselves in 24. Motivation wasn't a problem then. We'd chat on the treadmill. Gossip over the weights. We even had time for a cuppa and some carb-loading afterwards; all very pampering.

Then we had kids. Pampering became more about the brand of nappy we used than anything else.
Besides, Anna had moved away and I'd lost the only person I knew who could get my arse off the sofa.

The only time I broke a sweat without her was when the kids dragged me onto the trampoline. At least it worked out my pelvic floor. Clench! But it was doing sod all for my serotonin levels. No wonder I was slamming doors and hiding in the loo when the kids did my head in.

I think it was Anna who told me that when you're stressed or angry, the body releases flight or fight hormones. If you don't burn them off, you just stay stressed long after the moment has passed. Throwing toilet rolls and kicking the cistern wasn't cutting it. I was going to have to join a gym. On my own.

Enter the gym instructor. Tanned. Neon leggings. A bag of lettuce she snacked on like crisps. We were not gonna be friends.

She wouldn't let me hide in the changing room cubicle when I'd signed up for her class.

She didn't buy my delaying tactics when I spent most of the 'warm-up' untangling my headphones.

She wouldn't let me lurk in the back row till I found my groove. 'Beginners at the front where I can see you, please.'

She had no mercy when it came to floor-to-ceiling mirrors. 'Beginners at the front where you can see yourself, please.'

She had a tragic obsession with 90s dance tracks. And a Britney mic.

I had a feeling she wasn't that bright; always losing count of repetitions and taking ages to count to 12.

She thought I was just sweating when I was actually crying.

She said ridiculous stuff like 'don't forget to breathe,' when I was clearly hyperventilating. And 'find yourself a partner,' when there was only 3 of us in the room. (So I'd lost my Gym Buddy. Was she trying to rub it in?)

She wasn't shy about getting butt-naked and rubbing oil into her abs in the changing rooms.

She didn't even have the decency to go to reception for me when I forgot my locker combination after the shower, dripping wet, and wrapped in a too-small kids towel.

Basically, I hated her.

So it was weird that the more I started hanging out in her classes, the better I started feeling. Turns out, raising my heart rate still raised my mood. 20 minutes in, I felt the red mist rising off me like steam. Yes, it really, really hurt, and made me look and feel really, really hideous in front of someone who wasn't promising tea and gossip afterwards, but I won't be stopping anytime soon.

In fact, next I find myself getting teary and twitchy from being patient with the kids all day or snappy at the husband for being 15 minutes late when the kids have been screaming for 20, I'll be back for that gym instructor's 'Now, That's What I Call 90s' ASAP.

Lettuce though? Instead of crisps? She's on her own. I'll be raising a cuppa and some unrefined carbohydrates to Anna; still the best gym buddy ever. xx

Monday, 22 June 2015

Oglee Poglee Craft Workshop Review and Craft Box Giveaway!

Messy play. *Shudder* The mere mention of  glitter and glue used to have me twitching and reaching for the vacuum cleaner. Yes, I wanted to be cool, laid-back mama helping my children channel their inner Picasso. I just didn't want to do it at home... One spilt paint pot too far and the house resembled a crime scene; red hand prints on the walls, paintbrushes being brandished like weapons and a toddler in the corner inhaling Prit Stick. 

Which is why I was so thrilled to be invited to an Oglee Poglee craft workshop over half term. A chance to indulge the hooligans' craft habit and flee the crime scene afterwards. Get out of jail free!

I was more than a little nervous - in my experience, Glue + Toddlers =  'anti-social' behavior, but I needn't have worried. The leader, Claire, was well prepared with reassuring wipe-clean tarpaulings, aprons for all and a designated wash up area.  

The session began with a story about a fascinating made-up world starring the curious Oglee Pip and a chance to explore his box of treasures. The story was long enough to inspire the kids and introduce the 'Outer Space' theme but not so long that they got fidgety. 

Then it was time to roll up our sleeves and unleash creative chaos! My son went straight for the foam clay and got stuck into making an alien out of pipe cleaners and googly eyes. My daughter was transfixed by marble painting 'shooting stars' and 'meteors' on giant black paper. There was also shiny circles and textured paint to make planets - addictive stuff: so tactile! And a spaceship making area where my son got busy with matchstick 'nails' and a hammer. The younger kids loved the water play area with stars, planets and alien toys. And even the littlest fingers enjoyed squeezing drops of ink onto coffee filters to watch the colours make magic patterns.



I loved how Claire helped the children bring everyday materials to life - printing with lids, squirting with bottles and building with polystyrene. It was also fun to discover new things. The foam clay is a new favourite I might even bring out at home!

The session finished with a calming story and a biscuit before we left with our many creations. The kids also came away with a sense of pride in their new skills. The parents, with a new respect for the dark arts of messy play. Craft is no longer a contraband to be feared. It's just good unclean fun.

We weren't the only family think so. Ursh, Mum of Jack (4) and Charlie (4 months) said

'We absolutely love these workshops! The themes are great and well thought out and we get so much done in an hour, my little one is always asking me when the next one is whenever we leave. Good quality crafts used and overall a very enjoyable hour for both of us. Even my 4-month-old wanted to watch and see what was going on. Would recommend to anyone with young ones. ' 

Fancy joinning in the fun with your little one? Claire has generously offered one lucky reader a personalised Oglee Poglee Space Adventure Craft Box, RRP £17.99, jam-packed with everything you need to explore deep space, dodge flying comets and collect moondust. Each box also includes an Oglee Pip adventure story, a magic button and even PVA glue, so there’s no need to buy any extra bits!  

Don't worry there's no pressure to create a great masterpiece. Oglee Poglee Craft Boxes encourage ‘open-ended’ creative play. Each child decides what to make, thereby avoiding the stress of creating a picture-perfect craft. They can customise Oglee Pip’s story books, design their own creations and even take the magic button off on marvellous adventures all of their own.


To enter the give away visit my Facebook page here - if you enjoy it, please 'like' and share. Many thanks! Good luck!

Bring on the unclean fun!

Monday, 15 June 2015

I'm going to Britmums Live thanks to Pertz Leggings; the shape of feeling good!

So, Friday is a big day. I'm off to Britmums Live; the biggest blogging event of the year devoted entirely to a parenting audience and run by the UK's largest parent blogging network of more then 4K influential and engaged bloggers.
  • My name is Jude. I blog at http://www.makemeanearthmother.blogspot.co.uk/ - and no, I'm not an Earth Mother. I just wish I was. 
  • You can find me tweeting at @mmearthmother
  • I'm 5ft 2. I have dark short hair and blue eyes - and look like this;

  • This is my second Britmums and I'm in it for the long haul: I'm going both days.
  • I can't wait for The BiBs Awards Ceremony - lots of my blogging buddies are up for awards this year so I'll be on the edge of my seat, cheering them on. I'm also looking forward to meeting some new faces and discovering some new blogs. The Keynote Speech delivered by Deliciously Ella will also be a highlight. Ella's blog 'Deliciously Ella', is all about embracing healthy living and gets over six million hits a month! Her book has been the fastest selling debut cookbook since records began! Inspiring? Just a bit. 
  • I've been sponsored by Pertz Leggings so I'll be proud in my Pertz on the day. Pertz definitely deliver on their promise to give me 'the shape of feeling good.' Their unique design and fabric limits my ‘muffin top’, flattens my tummy and banishes the dreaded leg wobble, giving my thighs definition and support. Hello, canapes! Goodbye holding in my tummy and worrying about what I look like all day!

  • This year I'm really hoping to fire up my creativity and feel inspired by Britmums Live. I'll have been blogging for 2 years come September and sometimes I do wonder where it's all going. Events like Britmums help me refocus and remember that it's not just my lonely voice echoing around cyberspace. I'm part of a fab community! A day without the kids will also be a novelty.
  • This is my second Britmums so I'm by no means a pro but to the newbies, I'd say; relax and enjoy it! It is intense and there will be lots of hugging and squealing going on but don't be intimidated. Not everyone knows each other - and even the odd person who does will be up for meeting new people. That's what Britmums is about; looking up from our computer screens, making eye contact with the faces behind the avatars and reaching out to new blogging buddies. Look forward to meeting you! 
See you there! xxx

Monday, 8 June 2015

A Memo to Imaginary Friends

Dear Imaginary Friends

Apologies for the note, but pinning you down for a face-to-face is impossible when you're invisible.

As you know, I'm down with the kids, welcoming to their friends. But you're starting to take the non-imaginary mick.

Firstly, it's NOT O.K. to keep demanding REAL food. The clue is in the name. You are IMAGINARY. So are your biscuits, got it?

Also, hate to rush you, but getting out of the house is slow enough without you being left behind every time. Keep up!

Any chance you could work on the clumsiness? As if I haven't got enough cleaning up to do without you knocking over plant pots and upturning plates every two seconds. Enough.

Also, teeny bit annoying - and hard to take seriously - when you change the rules of our imaginary games every time you're not winning.

Take the shape-shifting. Are you a Rabbit or are you a Monkey? Or are you invisible? It's impossible to play along when I don't know whether I should be offering carrots or bananas. Or other invisible 5-a-days.

And that thing when you get all cliquey and leave out the younger sister? Not cool.

Any chance you could stop faking your birthday every other day? No one loves an attention seeker.

Also, I know you come from a parallel universe, so your sense of timing is probably out of whack, but on what planet is O.K to hype kids up at 7pm?

Lastly, that disappearing act. Terrifying. It must be great to take off at every tantrum, but would it kill you to take one for the team occasionally?


Believe me; you might be imaginary, but the struggle is real.

Yours, in real rage,

Mum.



Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Calpol Headlock and other illness lows.

So I've been off-radar the last week or so, not only cos it's half term, but also because we've been in quarantine.

The two-year-old was the first to go. Sick in bed. For a clean freak who's already terrified of what her bottom can do, the whole horrible-stuff-coming-out-of-her-mouth thing was a scream.

Next to fall, catching us off guard nearly 5 days later was the big dude. Yes, there was vomit but his speciality was ranting delirious nonsense cos he refuses to take Calpol even in a head lock. What are people's thoughts on drug pushing a four-year-old? We resorted to fannying about with a fan all night instead. 



Yes, it was a worry, and I did feel for him BUT when it became clear he wasn't in actual danger, I won't lie, I almost started enjoying the family illness thing for awhile. Bodily fluids aside, sick kids don't half know how channel primal parenting urges to care and fuss and feel needed. Nothing like a whimpering child to make the heart squeeze.

The excuse to batten down the hatches and veg for a day was also a bonus. TV on 24/7? Totally legit. At one point when they were both snoozing in front of Peppa Pig, I think I actually read the paper with my feet up. Result!

The pressure of meal times was also off. Oh, the relief of not having to sit at the table, battle with cutlery control and coax healthy food into them 3 times in one day. Mummy's little soldiers mainlining Cheerios from the comfort of the sofa? At least they're holding something down, right?

Of course, it didn't last. I'd forgotten the natural evolutionary sequence of all childhood illness.

High temperature = High demand
High demand = High volume
High volume = Highly-stressed mummy

Oh yes and then, wine.

Calpol headlock.

More wine.

And then it was my turn to crumble. Now, I'm no drama queen (ahem) but what is it about kids bugs that make grown adults cry? The last few days are a blur of aches and pains and cramps and violent ejections. I think I might have slept on the landing one night. I have no recollection of what happened to the library book left at the side of my bed, but I had to wear Marigolds to remove it the next day. 

My stomach has finally made peace but I'm a shell of my former self, quivering over dry toast and wondering if I can risk a cuppa. Not to mention the cabin fever. We were supposed to catch up with friends at the zoo tomorrow but they've wisely ducked out in case we're still contagious.  

Meanwhile, my diarrhea has gone verbal and the kids are like caged beasts. If we make it to the zoo, I'll be the pale and glazed-eyed one jibbering to the keepers. My kids will be the maniacs galloping about with the animals, howling at the sunshine.

All back to normal then. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Little Loves: Pizza for Pirates, Tea and a Feel-Good Scarf

This week I'm loving these little beauties;

Read
I was super chuffed to be gifted Pizza for Pirates by Adam and Charlotte Guillain and illustrated by Lee Wildish by Egmont publishers this week.


George, a young explorer, longs to meet a real pirate crew. So he sets sail with a cheesy treat to sustain him on his voyage.

I loved
The subject - such an easy win. Pizza AND pirates - two of my son's favourite things. How has no one thought of this before?
The illustrations - I'm a big fan of Lee Wildish and loved his illustrations in Dragon Stew, so it was great to discover more gems here; fab hairy pirates -one with a paper hat - and a just-scary-enough sea monster, who filled the whole page.

The kids loved 
The Baddies - from the mild peril of the whale to the terror of the sea monster, there was just the right amount of tension to keep the kids on the edge of the bed, but not enough to keep them up all night.
They also loved the pirate joke - extra helpings of cheese!


Made
This week I've gone all 'Deliciously Ella' and made my own Nut Milk. Yes, the double-shot espressos habit has rotted my brain.
Serendipity came in the form of an amazing Tea Hamper that I was gifted fromYogi Tea. I've gone left-field and invented my own Sweet Choco Nut Milk - a love-child of Choco Tea and hazelnut milk that tastes like Nutella. I'll be adding it to smoothies or drinking it straight and hot with a smug healthier-than-thou expression.



Ingredients
100 grams of hazelnuts (which become 125 grams after soaking)
500ml of hot water
4 bags of Yogi Choco Tea
40 grams of Medjool dates (without the pit)

Method
Soak hazelnuts overnight in the water
Strain and rinse the for
Soak the tea bags for 5 minutes
Blend
Strain over a bowl, squeezing out the last of the juice
Blend in the Medjool dates until smooth.

Wore 
My wardrobe is still a work-in-progress following the cull inspired by Donna's post on colours here, which led me to bin all my beige and sludge-brown mistakes. What I'm left with are colours for the soul! I added to them this week with this gorgeous Aztec scarf from Little Pieces. They sell online here, but I got mine from my new favourite high street shop; Cara London. Think fun, fashion-forward pieces, lust-inspiring shoes and edgy accessories without the spendy price tag. Am I signing up for a loyalty card? Hell, yes.



Heard
Great news! Lots of my bloggy buddies are through the final in the Brilliance in Blogging awards. Congrats to Wry Mummy and 3 Children and It and You Baby Me Mummy who are up for he Family Award (tough call, ladies), Brummy Mummy of 2 who's up for Video, Honest Mum who's up for Style and Hurrah for Gin who's up for Outstanding. Boomchiawowow, these bloggers are brilliant!

Watched

I've been getting into Ted Talks recently and love this series of talks to kickstart your creativity here, including this one by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love: Your elusive creative genius. Don't stop creating, peeps...





And finally

Happy half term all! Thanks for reading!



Friday, 15 May 2015

The Brunch of Broken Dreams

I've got that #Friday Feeling - you know, when your stomach does a little flip cos it's nearly the weekend? Except I think mine might be dread.

How can this be? Weekends are fab. A break from routine. The family all together doing wholesome* family things. A sliver of a lie-in, till oh, eight thirty, while daddy does daycare. What's not to love?

Saturday Brunch. That what.


Help yourself to disappointment! Side-dish of rage, anyone? Yes, the Misery is homemade!

This simple meal has become the low point of my week. I blame Fay Ripley and all her lovely Family Food. for raising expectations. Don't get me wrong, the recipes are yum. Baked Breakfast Eggs anyone? Or perhaps you'd prefer Breakfast Trifle? Dream on. Instead, we're having The Brunch of Broken Dreams.

I don't ask for much. All I want is for my family to sit down together once a week to share a nicer-than-normal meal without screaming. Here's what happens when we try;

Family Sitting Down Together
Daughter is standing on the table, laughing manically, threatening to jump because she doesn't like today's menu. Daddy is at the toaster, frantically buttering and flinging slices at her as peace offerings. The 4-year-old is under the table, feeding the cat and I am running a 'condiment relay' between table and cupboard, attempting to soothe the situation with ketchup.

Family Sharing a Meal
We forgot to shop so have scraped together scraps from the cupboard and stretched 2 baked potatoes between 3 - with just as many fillings. Daddy is 'making do' with last night's takeaway leftovers. (So selfless.)

Nicer-than-Normal Meal
Silly us. We should have known that anything longer than 2 minutes in the toaster would not be tolerated. And attempts to jazz things up with something a bit special from a cookbook would be met with suspicion. Sauce can not be trusted and is an insult to ketchup. End of.

Family Not Screaming
The 4-year-old is screaming because his mayo touched his tuna. And his tuna touched his sweetcorn. And his sweet corn touched his potato. And the outrage that comes of a potato being too potatoey.
Daddy is screaming because someone threw a knife at his thigh, just missing his femoral artery.
The 2-year-old is screaming, just cos.
At least I'm not screaming - I'm just sobbing in the corner, rocking, and using my potato halves as ear defenders.

Thanks God for Saturday dinner. Bring on the take-away on a tray, in front of the TV, when we can all ignore each other in peace...

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