Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Anna but no Elsa (do I have to buy one?)

Elsa and Anna dancing
S went to a friend's birthday party on her actual birthday (although it wasn't quite the friends one yet)...if you followed that.

I have to say what super folk these are and to make matters even better, C's grandma had made the cakes.  Aren't they amazing?  Now as you can see, she had not made only a cake for C for her party, but also one for S!  C's cake even has a edible, sugar cape.  Impressive huh?

S had a wonderful surprise when the cake was put in front of her as it was the last thing she suspected.  Naturally huh?  I mean, how many party guests normally get given a whole cake and sung happy birthday to?  Exactly!

Anyway, even better than the very scrummy cake and super surprise that S had actually getting a cake at someone else's party...she now has an Anna from Frozen doll (the clothes were sneakily given to me at the party to hide in my handbag).   She's been very popular since as you can imagine.

She's joined a bunch of Barbie's, Aerial and two Rapunzels (Tangled variety) already in the dolls dressing up box but I have a sneaking suspicion, an Elsa doll is now going to be wanted by N for her birthday. Unfortunately I am not up to the lovely Maderia cake making of C's grandma - I may just have to buy the doll and get a cake from Sainsburys!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Happy Birthday to our gorgeous 6 year old

Wow, 6 years. Where did that time go?  It doesn't seem that long ago daddy held you in his arms for the first time and we brought you home from hospital wearing the cute 'smurf' hat.  Here you are now 6 year old.

You are a bright, loving, kind, happy, wonderful little girl who lifts our hearts every day.

You are thoughtful and caring to your friends (but not always towards your younger sister of course).

You were shaking this morning opening your presents. You were so excited and love your new scooter most of all.  You were very quick to pick up how to scoot on two wheels around the house but don't want to take it outside yet in case it gets dirty :)

Your little face when our local radio station, Eagle Radio, announced your birthday as you were opening your presents. Yes, it was you they were saying happy birthday too.  How cool is that?

Cake is coming soon - your favourite - Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake with chocolate buttercream icing and Cadbury giant buttons on top.  6 candles of course.

We love you our sweet S.  Happy super-dooper 6th birthday sweetheart.

Friday, 17 October 2014


It's that time of year.  We've done so well with having a super summer and boy has is lasted but when it ended, it kind of missed Autumn altogether and rushed headlong into Winter.  One minute I'm in a maxi dress and flipflops and the next I'm in boots and a raincoat.  Can't complain though.

Trouble with this rapid season change is that it has affected me quite badly.  I've hit a chest infection and a cold at the same time.  I did my best to avoid going to the doctors for four days by increasing my inhaler use (I'm Asthmatic you see) but finally yesterday I caved in and booked an appointment. Glad I did.  I now have steroid tablets  (not good) and some antibiotics in case I start to get wheezy. I've popped those into my medicine cabinet just in case but I am hopeful I won't need those.  With luck the steroids will get me through.  The downside is that I seem to get rotten headaches with them and I bruise easily. Oh well, at least I'm feeling a tad better today.

Coughing and sneezing doesn't help my sleeping. Nothing worse than that feeling when you roll over in the night and everything moves from one nostril to the other.  Poor hubby was like a student last night kipping on the sofa.  At least that way he could get some sleep!

This is not the best weekend to feel unwell.   My head is a fog today and yet tomorrow I am on a training course for The Brilliant Club (leave me a seat at the back somewhere) and on Sunday is S's birthday.  Fortunately we are not doing a party until next month (it's a shared one with N) so I don't have to worry about making sandwiches, etc.  We are off to one of her school friends' party though in the afternoon so that will be nice for the girls. Of course J and I will make a lovely Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake for her birthday cake as that's her favourite and she asked for one.  Yummy...even if I can't taste it ;-)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Brilliant tutoring again

My new tutoring look
I'm off to be trained for another bout of tutoring for The Brilliant Club.  I'm delighted to say I have a lovely new school to head off to in Uxbridge (well, more Hillingdon when I looked at the map).  This time I'm going to be teaching Years 7 and 8.

Now, rather than teaching my own subject area this term, I'm teaching philosophy. Yes, I know. I'm going to have to grow and beard, and wear sandals and a toga.  How much fun is that?!

Seriously though, the course is amazing.  I can't imagine how much fun I'd have had at school if a tutor had come in to talk to me about "Can terrorism ever be justified?"  Bit different from maths and English now isn't it!  Don't panic though, these courses are put together incredibly well.

All the pre-designed courses allow the young people to focus their own thoughts and ideas about the subject matter in a university style tutorial.  They have homework and a final assignment to complete, building their knowledge as they move forward.  Discussions are encouraged. Getting you point across and defending it are all part of the experience.   Alongside this are the learning outcomes such as: pupils demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of key concepts and processes and theories; they show contextual awareness and use good examples to illustrate points made; they learn understanding of different ideas and perspectives; and most importantly (I think) they learn how to discuss and debate in a group situation.  See, university style lecture!

As a mum, I know that talking - especially for teens - is not always an easy thing to do. I'm sure if I texted them the lesson, or used Twitter or WhatsApp, they'd be conversing like crazy (I base this example on my own almost 16 year old daughter).  Having a conversation though...pfftt...that's hard work!

Here's a fab video illustrating what The Brilliant Club are all about. If you're a school who fits their criteria - get in touch.  You may get one of us turn up at your door, toga in hand ;-)  Honestly, I'm not on commission (just tea and biscuits at training), I just think this is such a fantastic thing for both us tutors and the schools who join in.

So perhaps now you can see why all of us PhD students or PostDocs need training on how to deliver these courses to young people.  There's a lot to this isn't there.  But what fun they are going to have as each tutor has their own style of delivery and way of engaging the young people.  Last term there were even Roman sacrifices going on in the school grounds. Now, that's what I call fun at school.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Steampunk search on eBay brings out the fetish in sellers

I decided to have a nose around eBay today for some steampunk gear (well, my birthday isn't too far off now).

As you may (or may not) know, the outfits are often quite Victorian in style and corsets are common - mostly over the clothes. So, clearly you'd expect a lot of corsets to pop up.  I do enjoy a good gander round the wonder range of corsets that are made for this alternative fashion.  I know I need to buy the right blouses for it, long skirts, coats, hats, goggles...yes the list is almost endless. Not a cheap style to acquire but a bit of window shopping is good for the soul (or something like that).
Buy me now!

Quite a few of the corsets are shown either as a 'white background image' (see above) or are modelled in the traditional 'catalogue' format by a real person - well real in the sense of someone who is a model and therefore nothing like most of us women who are buying the stuff. But then of course us girls need to see how wonderful these items would look if we were a size 8-10 and had 36" long legs don't we.  I digress...

However, there are some people who have - in my opinion - just got it wrong. Badly wrong. This lady is one example.  Really....what the fuck is going on here?  


Does she realise she's forgotten to model the knickers? Was she so keen to get the image up on eBay that she thought "oh to hell with the fact I can't find the knickers in my drawer, I'll just forget about them" or is she making the point of "I'm clearly not selling the matching knickers".  I don't know. I'm no prude but...really?  She's not the only one.  If you recall when I was looking to sell some bras, similar images cropped up (see here)

Next time love, just lay the corset/basque out on your bed or floor like most other people do or, if you're desperate to show how marvellous it looks on - do us all a favour and buy a mannequin! *shudder*  Suffice to say I've stopped looking on eBay and reverted to some of the better known alternative fashion suppliers.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

What diet?

I have been feeling quite 'lumpy'.  Yes, lumpy. That describes it well. I have lumps. They tend to be around my waist, thighs and man my butt looks more like that of Jo Lo's every day (I wish).  Anyway, I decided to try and diet.  Argh!  The very word makes me feel hungry. I joined Slimming World online.  Should have known that wouldn't work.  I paid my £60 for 3 months membership, bought a couple of books, cooked a couple of meals and....yes, gave up.  You see I struggle to manage on a flat teaspoon of Clover daily as I like a piece of toast or some in my baked beans.  I am happy substituting fry light for vegetable oil and even hubby is now using it when he cooks (that has to be good right?) but I found the rest of it quite hard work.
I'm not a bad eater.  We have lots of fresh veg, chicken (mostly), lamb (sometimes), beef (occasionally) and the odd fish finger (yeah, I know, I'm rubbish with fish).  We eat fruit and yoghurts and the girls and I drink lots of sugar free squashes.  So what was going wrong?  Snacking.  God damn it, those blasted biscuits really do shout loudly when I'm watching TV  relaxing on the sofa in the evenings.  How dare they. I've tried ear-plugs but to no avail.
As I became a bit more lumpy, I started to weigh myself.  My weight could fluctuate a whole 3-4lbs over night.  What?  Was I sleep-snacking?  How is that even possible?  My weight  resembled a yo-yo although going up more than down at times...you know, when the string all gets tangled up.  I digress...
I got to the "too heavy for my liking" point. It seemed no matter how little I ate during the day, my weight didn't budge.  Seemed a diet was the only option but sod it, that's not worked either.
My hubby works funny hours so getting to the gym just isn’t possible for me so all my exercise has to be at home (Zumba and Just Dance) or the occasional cycle out in the day when the girls are at school. I think I need stabilisers again though.  My poor bum too after my first ride.  Blasted racing bike seats.  I've just bought a gel one for next time as I looked like John Wayne for about a week afterwards!
I used to be content and very happy with who I was as a person.  Sadly for me, I once lost a lot of weight (a serious lot-ness).  I felt great then with my bones sticking out but according to everyone else around me, I looked ill.  I guess a forty-ish *cough* woman shouldn't find a size 6 in Next too big for her but hey, that never lasted.  I was soon back to my bouncy size 14.  Trouble is, my lovely size 14 began to feel a bit tight and I know why this has happened. I'm a student see. A full-time student doing my PhD.  Researching - for me - involves huge amounts of time sat on my (rather ample) bottom, at my PC, typing.  I often do this from the moment I get home after the school run to the second I have to run out of the door again to do the pick-up.  I'm at the point of almost falling over when I take my glasses off as I've been focusing for so long and everything goes just that bit blurry when I finally put them back in their case. Bit like a few drinks but without the giggles to go with it.
Student life is therefore useless for my weight.  So, despite having nearly 2 months left of Slimming World, I've not weighed myself for the past 2 weeks and today was another week the email popped up and I just resigned it to the trash.  Instead, I'm cutting down on portion sizes and keeping away from the biscuit packet or bar of Galaxy in the evening and eating a yoghurt or some oranges instead.  Do you know what?  My jeans are starting to feel less tight again already!  Hooray. My wobbly bits are still there but so what, I'm a mum of 3 so I'm entitled to have wobbly bits which I shall wear with pride (I decided that recently) as I had 2 of those 3 in my 40s.  Go me!
I'm beginning to realise I'm not going to be a 'thin' woman now. Hell, I never was as a teenager either. I had boobs, waist and bum.  That's me.  I am happy to be a size 12/14 and stay right there (also for financial reasons as most of my wardrobe is that size!).  I just want to feel a little more toned and less lumpy so watch this space!
P.S. I'm trying a new font. I kind of like it.