What are my happy thoughts this week?

1. We had a fantastic weekend. We got the back garden sorted with lawn mowed and new hanging space for laundry sorted. We were pleased to pick up new glasses for all the children ready for the Back to School. We bought rugs and runners for the house. We also squeezed in charity shopping and a long walk in the countryside.

2. My teen son continues to bring me little treats. He also comes on the days that he finishes school early to the junior school to join me and the other two children on return school run. He really is a very lovely boy once he has woken up properly which seems to take longer every day.

3. My daughter has come to her senses and got rid of her first boyfriend. I was horrified when I was told she was “going out” with somebody. I will probably be shot down in flames but is my firm belief that girls lose focus on their own hopes and dreams when they get caught up in all the boys stuff.

4. My youngest son continues to take everything in his stride. He is one of those children who is good at everything and the one I worry about least.

5. My husband is clearly enjoying the children. He reads to them most nights. I catch him swinging arms with them and just generally showing extra affection. I think the separation period really woke him up to the pleasures of family life.

6. I am enjoying blogging more and loving starting the day by posting my Dad’s memoirs. I am learning so much about him as a young man as well as such detail on the war.

7. I have asked my husband to take some time off work so we can have some couple time and he happily agreed.

8. I am back to healthy eating most of the time and linking up with Wobbles Wednesday again to help with my motivation.

9. I am refusing to give up on my ideas about volunteering so am applying for a new opportunity every day until somebody has the courtesy to reply.

10. I had a lovely day yesterday when 3 people asked for my company at BritMums Live. I hate inflicting myself on people so it was great to know some folks would actually like to spend time with me.

11. Hold the front page! I actually got into conversation with a mum at the school gates yesterday.

I think I have worked out that a good weekend really does help set me up for a more positive week.

Losing weight – why do I struggle to do it?

I know how to. I have lost stones and stones in the past.

I am returning to Wobbles Wednesday the linky which I established months ago and is now in the very capable hands of @AutismMumma. Putting on size 22 trousers yesterday and having to really pull to do them up shows I need to get back on track.

I am an emotional eater so as soon as my husband got news of his redundancy last May, the weight piled back on. I was furious as I had made such strides in losing a lot and feel it is just another thing that the Royal British Legion took away from us.

Let’s focus on the positives

1. I know how to lose weight

2. There is a local Slimming World group which will help me shed the pounds and meet new people too.

3. I walk nearly 3 miles per day on the school run so must be getting fitter.

4. I did a big online shop and stocked up on lots of fruit,vegetables and fish.

Here are my current challenges

1. I bought biscuits for the children and the tin keeps screaming at me from the cupboard. It would be rude to ignore it.

2. I go to the shop after school and buy a sarnie that I don’t need plus chocolate too sometimes. This needs to stop.

So I am back to #WobblesWednesday and about time too.

Wish me luch.

How to talk to a girl about her period

My daughter brought home a book on periods the other day. She read it cover to cover in one sitting,

I remember my Mum buying me a book by Clare Rayner back in the day. I can’t remember reading it far too interested in Mallory Towers no doubt. I have always had a habit of avoiding the more troublesome aspects of life like periods and boys. Mum used to do her best sending me for her “nappies” out of the drawer even when I was very little. She was aware she was an older mum and so tried to be modern about matters like sex even suggesting I should go to the GP for the contraceptive pill on my 16th birthday. I remember being horrified at the idea and telling her so. I had no intention of having sex ever – if a knight turned up on a white horse, fair enough but otherwise no deal!

I am working my way through the book on periods. Chatting to my husband, it turns out her knows far more about the mechanics of it all that I do. I remember being intrigued as to the state of my hymen when I was little. I seem to remember reading dire warnings that tree climbing could break it. I might not have wanted sex but I was quite the little tree-climber.

How to do I feel as my little girl grows up?

I can see her excitement at the idea of getting her period. I remember those days well and the conversations at school. “Have you started yet?” and all that.

I was 13 when the milestone came along and for some reason I kept it secret even from my Mum initially. She sussed it and asked me outright. She then sent Dad off to get a cake “because your daughter has become a woman”. I have always been quite impressed by how she recognised it as a milestone to celebrate. After she died, I found out from my Auntie that Mum had telephoned all the family to let them know. My Auntie said she did it in a way “as if you were the only girl who had ever had a period”

Like most girls I suppose, I started using sanitary pads and then moved onto tampons. My daughter has already whisked me off to the supermarket to buy sanitary pads so she is prepared. She even got a free tin to carry them in. Now that is progress!

I know it is weird but I don’t like the idea of her using tampons. I remember Mum being the same with me.

There is also that worry that growing up means getting hurt and me not being able to protect her from that. I don’t want to see my daughter in physical pain from periods. Worse, I don’t want her to have her heart broken by some idiot boy.

Whatever I may think or feel, my daughter is growing up. Yesterday, a boy walked with us all the way home so he could stay with her chatting away. She was flirting telling him a pack of half-truths that made me and my son giggle. Anyone who knows me will know that it is most unlikely that my daughter would be a netball champion but out this line trotted yesterday to impress the boy.

Ah well, at least when she starts there will be cake!

We have escaped to the country and have a much longer and prettier walk to school. This made it very easy for us to join in Walk to School Week, the national campaign to help encourage UK children to go to school on foot.

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We had a fun treasure hunt too as M&S in partnership with charity Living Streets have created one to make the school run entertaining and educational too for both parent and child.

The game offers an A-Z of fun things to spot from amber lights to zig zags.

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We did really well although struggled for a long time to find a red door or a yellow car. We were delighted to finally tick them off our list and declare ourselves Kings and Queens of the school walk.

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With some of the clues, we did get a little creative and that was all part of the fun. There’s our pelican crossing!

As a parent, it was good to have a tool to instill those reminders about how to keep safe on roads.

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Walking to school:

– Is Healthy – Children need at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day. The journey to and from school is an ideal time for children to be active. Going one way for us takes 30 minutes and it means I am getting healthy exercise too.

– Is Educational – Walking to school helps children build independence, road safety and social skills. In a study by Living Streets, 84 per cent of the children who walk to school regularly meet up with classmates on the way to school. As newcomers to the area, it is great to see the children chatting with friends on the way home from school.

– Saves money – Walking to school instead of driving saves, on average, £400 per year. Saving cash is always a bonus.

– Is better for the environment. One person switching five journeys of fewer than 2 km a week from the car to walking would reduce their carbon footprint by 86 kg a year.

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M&S sent my children shoes to review. I was delighted with the quality and look of the shoes. The children found them comfortable to wear. I was pleasantly surprised by just how affordable the shoes were too.

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ALS

What does inspiration mean to you?

I find myself on the finalist list for the Inspire category for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2014. I look at the others on the list and am humbled to be in such amazing company. These are bloggers who are overcoming adversity or at least learning to navigate a way through it. These are bloggers who step up and make a difference to other people.

I check some dictionary definitions on what the word inspire means.

To stimulate somebody to do something: to encourage somebody to greater effort, enthusiasm, or creativity

Do inspirational people set out to do this or does it just happen?

The people who have inspired me would run away from the label and be very self-effacing about it. I suspect that the Inspire finalists may react in a similar fashion.

Although it is lovely to be on such a list, it is also a bit uncomfortable. Remember, I know my dark side. I can be moody and give in to pessimism too easily. I can be lazy. I don’t deal well with criticism. I am rubbish at the practical aspects of keeping house and so on despite my best efforts. For goodness sake, I often struggle to say hello.

I spoke with my family and here is what they had to say about how I do or don’t inspire.

My 13 year old son said “Of course you inspire Mum. You encourage people’s hearts and that is really important” My own heart melted at this point.

My 8 year old son said “You do things well and that encourages us and other people to do things well”

This reminded me of meeting a school bully on a train years later. She was in her mid-twenties and on her way to study for her degree at the local Polytechnic. I was nervous remembering her harsh words of the past. She came up to me and said that she wanted to thank me because I had inspired her to go back into education after failing all her O-Levels. It was lovely to make peace and know that she was on a much better path.

My 10 year old (rapidly growing up!) daughter said “The trouble is Mum because I am already good, I don’t really need to be inspired” Well, you can’t win them all!

I emailed my husband about making the finals and this is what he replied.

“Why do you question the fact that you are included in a group of pretty amazing people?

Think back to what your dad once said that people wouldn’t invite you to a party if they didn’t want you there.

You wouldn’t have been nominated/voted for if the voters didn’t think you deserved to be.”

Another part of my dark side is that I over-analyze things.

I think on looking at the blogs in the Inspire category, what stands out is that they are written by people who keep on keeping on and who try to do good when life is going well and also when it throws some pretty rotten challenges. And perhaps that is what being inspirational is all about?

If it is, everyone can inspire and that is a lovely thought.

Little Hearts, Big Love