Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Tuesday Weigh In

Its back. Tah dah dah. I can avoid the scales no longer.  I'm down a 1lb and I'm thrilled! Yes, thrilled at a pathetic pound because I wasn't really "in the zone" as we all say. I kind of half heatedly put up my weight loss to date and hoped the magic pound fairy would sprinkle some dust over me and I'd be up and running. Not to mention a bit of  vodka, staying up to 1.30 am with my husband on Sunday morning and forgetting to put the clocks back meant Tuesday was looking bleak. I haven't re-started logging my food on my fitness pal but as all dieters say "tomorrow I'll start".

Today, I managed (afternoon again - I don't do afternoon jogging!) to finish Week 6 of the C25K programme. I would have gone out yesterday but it was absolutely lashing it down which should be no excuse as "Dame Kelly Holmes wouldn't be put off by a bit of rain. Would she now?" Yes thank you Mr 1970s Diet or should I say 1960s since that was the era he was born.

I should have completed it by Sunday so I will re do Week 6 this week if that makes sense.  Not only that, I can't quite manage to jog 22 minutes without stopping.  It was "hurricane" weather out there today, so said my daughter, I don't suppose that helped but I still don't think I could have managed it. My route isn't flat either there are inclines and then there is a rather large one.  I stopped 3 x today during the 22 minutes and reckon I walked at least 4 minutes during that time.  I reckon I can walk faster than I can jog!  I've always been a fast walker. On a positive note, I don't have shin splits which I can get when walking fast and my knees are baring up under the strain of my body pounding down on them. Poor things.

The Easter Holidays appear to be going quite well. We always have bickering just before school holidays then the standard pep talk of "you have to get along" "I'm not having this nonsense for 2 weeks" "They'll be no this (insert empty threat), no that (insert another) and early bed every night AND only bread and water for tea" This normally reigns them in a bit.

I have to say the absence of the X-box is wonderful.  I don't have to constantly say "get off of it now" and whilst there are crafty bits littered all over the house - I can live with it.  Yes, they have to use their imagination and its amazing what they can find to do with pipe cleaners and some paper cups.

We went to the local shops yesterday and picked up a few supplies. I couldn't help but put the dvd of Paddington in my trolley and my son worked out it was cheaper to buy 2 x boxes of Cadbury Creme Eggs and I quote "this is where maths comes in handy".

No one would have believed (best Richard Burton voice) that my 11 year old would come downstairs and say "look this has been transformed from this to this".

And my daughter's offering - she never stops painting, sticking, gluing and generally creating a mess!

I don't do crafts and I'm not a crafty blogger but I think this is worthy of a book deal don't you? How to spend very little during the Easter Holidays.

In other tittle tattle - our main computer has died a death normally my husband sorts this sort of thing out but sadly he's having no luck. We can never split up for this reason and possibly a few others but mainly this. If he ever left I wouldn't be able to work the TV let alone a major malfunction of the house computer. Thankfully, I recently ordered the latest set of photo's off the computer from Boots so if everything is gone at least I have lots of photo albums all up to date. What would you do if everything was wiped off your computer? I mean it might be easily fixed but then again....dah dah dah. Now that's my chimp talking.

Tomorrow, is Buddy's speech therapy review. His tongue tie has worked wonders and I think they'll sign him off.  After that, we'll have a baking day of easter nest cakes, one big easter cake and I may attempt hot cross buns. It is the season to stuff yourself silly and forget about the meaning of it all. I can churn this post By Jesus Its Cadbury out every year although I think people are a bit more restrained than in 2012. What do you think?

See you soon....

One mention of Richard Burton and I couldn't help myself. I love these pictures of when he was filming Night of the Iguana. They had a great time drinking until the early hours and bought a villa in Puerto Vallarta.  Its actually a very good film also.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Saturday Chit Chat

Week 6 and day 2 completed but it was tough today! Essentially it was a 5 minute warm up then 10 minutes jogging then 3 minutes walking then 10 minutes jogging. As my route has various up hill elements I only jogged 15 out of the 20 minutes. Still it was better than not doing it wouldn't you say? I could have so easily not bothered. The weather has been cold, windy and dull today - I should have gone in the morning but was too cosy in bed.

My parents took the kids to the woods and McDonalds as they hadn't seen them since February and the next visit will be May so myself and hubbie went to the garden centre. He knows how to treat a lady. We purchased (the royal we) vegetables for the kids to grow. I'm hoping that if they grow the stuff they might actually eat it. This is aimed more at my eldest but kids do love to garden. I see that Alan Titchmarsh is calling for it to be taught in the national curriculum and I have to say I agree. Read his Daily Mirror article here

I'm digressing somewhat - so basically I didn't 'run' until 3pm and I did find it tough.  I'm much more of a morning jogger. I feel more up for it and physically more able. Tomorrow I'll complete day 3 which will essentially be a 5 minute warm up and then 20 minutes of jogging.  I feel I have more of a chance to complete the majority of it if 1) I go in the morning and 2) psych myself up for it. The best thing about jogging to music I can narrow down my time to songs. I mentally say to myself if you can get to the end of this song then its one more to go. The added bonus is you can't hear yourself gasping for breath either!

So, school is now out for Easter!  The children had an end of year talent showed that lasted a very long time with an interval in between - my daughter was on the glockenspiels and eldest was in a play. The highlight for me was a tap dancing batman and year 1 girls singing Let it Go in their Frozen dresses. This finished about 11.30 am so I had to make a quick dash to get my hair cut. I think my hairdresser was relieved that I had returned as I left quite distressed last time - do you remember the short hair cut? Anyhow, I love my 'lob' hair cut now and think I'll be keeping my hair this length for quite some time.  Then it was a quick dash back to school to collect them at 2pm.

I hope you're liking the new layout on the blog. The fabulous Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely has sorted my header out for me. I'd spent an hour trying to do it on photoshop and she did it in about 5 minutes.  I need to take a better picture of the troll which I'll do tomorrow so that all the background is white but on the whole I'm loving it!

Did any of your watch the televised debate with Ed Milliband and David Cameron? Wasn't Kay Burley just awful?!  I watched the steady stream of twitter comments and I don't think I saw one single positive comment.  I had to add some of my own which included "Kay Burley was awesome said no person ever". Seriously though she was painful to watch and asked Ed ridiculous questions eg how are you and your brother? Who cares?! We care about the NHS you muppet. On a more positive note, she could have won Labour the next election so not all bad.

I have a few posts to entertain you next week and the re-emergence of Tuesday Weigh In!! Dah dah dah. Finally, never one to miss a fabulous bag let me show you this bad boy from Aspinal of London. Its their 'raindrop' bag and a mere snip at £796! I entered their facebook competition to win but have not heard that the bag is winging its way to me. I am pretty understanding though so they can just send it to me for free to review. No questions asked.

Look at their lovely shop front.  A must for me to visit if I win the other competition I entered - see previous blog post. Now, if I don't win I may have to retire from my entering anymore competitions even if they are infrequent.

Happy Saturday and see you very soon!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Couch to Losing 2 Stone!

Having recently taken up the C25K challenge (sofa doesn't have the same ring to it does it?) I was delighted when Nickie from www.iamtypecast.com blogging fame agreed to do a guest post for me about her success using this app.  

Now, I have followed Nickie on Twitter from the get go, when I started my blog three and a half years ago.  She is a proper hard core Northern blogger. Not content with one blog she has 5! A whizz on all social media platforms, vlogging and techno stuff and now rocking the weight loss. What an inspiration for this soft Southern lass who is still mastering the art of creating a new blog header and stepping up a gear on the weight loss journey front. Enjoy!

In May of last year I decided to start the journey that I'd been promising to take since my 40th birthday (2 years previously) and that was to get fitter and less fatter.  I knew that I'd never have the size-8 svelte figure of my 20-something self but Things Had To Change. 

“Back in the day” I had been a sprinter of National accreditation however an accident http://www.iamtypecast.com/2010/01/cough.html stopped me in my tracks (no pun intended). When I returned to training I had continuous problems with damage to my knees, plus I'd discovered boys and cigarettes.  My athletics career was essentially over. 

Nicki completing her 5k in August 2014

Fast forward 20-mumble years, three children and a good chunk of sitting on my backside I sought out my local diet group. Slimming World membership was acquired and I've been attending weekly meetings ever since.  During one Slimming World meeting, one of the members mentioned that she'd almost completed  a “Couch to 5K” programme as part of a community running group.  I'd heard of this running plan before - it has been devised by the NHS and there is a free app you can download http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/c25k/pages/couch-to-5k-plan.aspx from their website.  I'd attempted to complete this programme twice before on my own and gave up by week 2 or 3 each time. I had little motivation and no-one encouraging me to get up and do it and I probably hadn't been in the right frame of mind. I looked up when the next plan started and made arrangements with one of my weight-loss buddies to attend the first session.  I was nervous but needed a challenge and knew that just the dieting alone wouldn't be enough for me to change my mental and physical well-being.

On the day of the first session the hardest thing I ever did was lace up my trainers and step foot out of the front door. I needn't have been worried – the group leaders had all been through the Couch to 5K plan themselves so knew how difficult and nerve-wracking it could be and really pulled each and every one of us through. We ended the programme with a 'Celebration Run' which is where everyone ran the 5K distance but with a real 'ParkRun' feel.

I love this photo! Its so Yay get me!! Looking fit and fantastic another 5k in March 2015

Over those 9 weeks the balance of changing my eating habits and progressing through the running plan meant that weight-loss was steady but also my body was toning up too. The continued weight loss is slow but steady and I have almost lost 2 stone in weight. It could have been more (WAY more) but I like my wine and weekend take-away too much.  However, the biggest change in my life plan is discovering that I do actually like running.

I'll never be a gym bunny and lone-training is hard for me.  Even going out for a 2-mile run on my own doesn't feel right. I also occasionally vlog about my running progress  https://youtu.be/DE5wjXoc1Oo and host a fitness-related podcast  http://feeds.feedburner.com/Fitbitches and I'm in danger of becoming a running bore but I can't express how much this combination of changes has improved my life.

I love the camaraderie of mutual support and encouragement so I now volunteer three times a week to lead one of the groups through the Blackburn Couch to 5K Group Run http://www.5kgrouprun.co.uk/ programme. All of this is helping me with my own fitness and stamina and it is one way that I can 'give back' to the community group that helped me find myself again.

If that hasn't inspired you to have a go I don't know what will. Nickie is, like myself, on the wrong side of 40 and has never felt better. I can totally relate to feeling awkward when you take your first running steps. I still look like I've missed the bus rather than a proper runner. And I think we all cheered when she said she likes a take-away and wine! Thank you so much Nickie and please come back again.

If you would like to share your weight loss/healthy changes story on The 1970s Diet then please get in touch at the1970sdiet@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you.

Until Next time..

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Saturday Chit Chat

Well, I've completed Week 5 up to day 2 which means I need to run tomorrow to complete Week 5.  I had more sick children this week!! For the love of god!! Seriously what is going on?! I got a call on Wednesday, just as I was mid way baking my husband's birthday cake, to collect my youngest. Then at 2pm my eldest was coming home also.

The next day they both went back to school but the following day (Friday) - my eldest stayed off. He actually was so bored he did a practise test SAT paper. He wasn't well though - temperature, dizzy spells etc. Thankfully they are all well now. The light at the end of the tunnel was I got to miss the School's Choir concert that he was involved in on Thursday evening.  My friend confirmed that I had managed to escape an incredibly painful evening and I quote "it was alright for the first 2 minutes and I'm thinking yeah this is cute - but two hours later I was bored out of my mind. It was all a bit lovie and was just the council show boating. We didn't get home till 9.30pm on a school night." Phew thank goodness for the sickness. I'm not one for musicals either it has to be said. You just settle in to a film and then they start singing about going to the shops and what not. My friend (the same one quoted above) loves them and says we can't be friends (much like I can't be friends with someone that doesn't like prawns) when I said Mary Poppins is a bloody awful film. And don't get me started on Frozen.  I don't like Frozen. There I've said it. Deal with it.

Birthday Boy's cake - the base is made out of cookie dough (2 are on the side). There is cake in the 'bowl' and cake for the ice-cream coated in white chocolate. 

If people wanted to buy one I have a fancy pants box also

I am still tinkering with the blog. My husband pointed out that I need to take the picture of the troll at a reduced pixel so then it won't look so giant. So will attempt to sort the header out this weekend and also my Pages at the top.  You can now find me on Instagram and pinterest. Am I the only person that calls this Pin Interest?  I particularly like the Instagram as I've always wanted to post pictures of 'Pig Parkers'. Here are this weeks 'Pig Parkers'

See how the first car has created a chain of Pig Parkers. Now if those two cars leave then this car above will be guilty of being a double Pig Parker. Society cannot function like this!
And finally, the Brilliance in Blogging awards are up and running. Last year, I had a miracle and was shortlisted in the Health category. But alas, there is no such category this year so I've just had to plump for best writer because there is nothing else. So if you like the blog then feel free to give me a nomination as I think another little badge would look nice. Here's the link http://www.britmums.com/bibs-2015-categories/ Also, I'm now a .com INNIT!

See you later...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Domain Di-sas-ter!

Well it could have been, it so could have been!  For those who don't do blogging and I think its fair to say most of my readers don't, then I think I should explain. Having a blogspot address for a blog is not as cool as having a .com address. Even a co.uk seems to be inferior. Yup if you want to be taken seriously in the blogging world you need a .com address. I've know this for quite some time but I've also known that I FREAK out at technology and if you allow me to use my most over used phrase - "I am a serious LUDDITE!" As opposed to a non-serious one.  I can't work the telly for christ sake how an earth would I negotiate the minefield that is 'self hosting'.

Well my friends I've only (best Michael Caine voice) gone and done it!! Don't get me wrong it was a bit hairy over the weekend and I did think will I ever see my blog again. Sadly, I did think about it far more than I should have on Friday night instead of just enjoying my evening.

Get me a Domain! The fab-u-lous Michael Caine - image google - film Funeral in Berlin 

I did enquire about paying someone to do all this for me - the charges were reasonable enough but it meant I would have to move to Wordpress and I like Blogger. I'm a Blogger Blogger. I can't be preached to. I have been converted. No doubt you can do fancy pants things on Wordpress but like a comfy pair of slippers I wanted to stick with Blogger.  I discovered, within a few clicks on google, that I could actually have a .com address and still stay on blogger. I just had to buy my domain name.

I also had to find and input codes and even following google's instructions managed to cock it up about 4 times. This explains the blog being inactive for 3 days!! Now, I have to give these two bloggers a shout out.  There are bloggers out there who write blogs on how to sort your blog out! Did you get that? Yes, these lovelies as far as I'm concerned, are the bloggers in shining armour charging to your rescue. Here are my two life savers Niki at Geekalicious and Dana at The Wonder Forest.

I'm not sure that even if I had the knowledge that I could be arsed to share it, which makes my respect for them even greater. People are very territorial over their blog and when things go wrong its cue wailing and hysteria. I hope they have some idea of the virtual hugging that goes on following successful completion after following their instructions. So Mwah to you both. I now have a .com address and if you input .co.uk  or blogspot you'll come right back to me.

I've made a few changes and am still working on my lay out - I know my 1970s troll is a tad big up the top there. I'm liking the 1970s wallpaper though - what do you think? I figured it was time to get up-to-date with some content.

In other news, I completed Week 5 day 1 of my couch to 5k app. That means I am able to 'run' for 5 minutes without dying. I haven't weighed myself for quite a while - I am saving myself till the end of the app.  I took before pictures so I'm hoping the after will look good.  When I run it feels like my stomach fat is going but it could just be my imagination.

I need to get back on myfitness pal as all of that has been lacking since January really - we had a sick house, then I got my abscess and then we had a week of sickness for the entire family!  Things can only get better.......cue D-ream music.

See you very soon

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Do You Really Know What Dementia Is?

I didn't. And I still have a lot to learn but am so glad I was asked to do this post in conjunction with Dementia Friends and Britmums. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about this disease and what it really means to people who are affected by it.

We all lose our keys, can't find our phone - hell sometimes we can't find where we parked the car! I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who has said "I'm losing it" "I'm so forgetful" - my Grandad used to say "if I ever lose my marbles push me off beachy head!" All joking aside, its a bit more complex than forgetting your keys or where you've put things. And its not a disease that just affects the older generation. Early dementia can affect younger people also - like Chris Graham who is only 39 and has been diagnosed. He is the 4th member of his family to be diagnosed. He lost his dad at 42 years of age and his brother is only 43 and is in the latter stages of the disease. His story really moved me when I heard it on BBC Breakfast this week. You can read all about it here on his just giving page. He is trying to raise money, by bike riding across America, so that future generations (possibly his son who has a 50/50 chance of having the gene) may be cured. At the moment there is no cure for dementia. There are drugs that can ease the symptoms but no cure.

Having looked at the Alzehmiers's Society Dementia Friends website. I learnt that its not just about having memory loss. Its about being slower in doing the simple things - Gina, 61 describes how she is still coming to terms with being diagnosed with the disease. How it means she's slower in the supermarket queue as she can't work out how much she needs.  How she often gets anxious thinking an appointment is immenient when, in fact, it could be a week away. How she gets frustrated and sometime agressive and how sometimes when she looks in the mirror she sees a different person.

But we can all help in a small way by becoming a Dementia Friend and I urge you to sign up. Its free and you get sent a booklet about the signs and what you can do to help. For instance, the other day I was in the supermarket and an old man was taking his time. I mean really taking his time. Now 5 years ago I would have been mentally cursing him but even I am more tolerant these days. I thought he's old, it'll come to us all and what comes quick and easy to us can be very difficult for others. The lady behind me was huffing, puffing and was very agitated by the delay. She was actually annoying me more than the old man. He may have had dementia he may not have. But little things like being patient and thinking could this person have the disease can make the person feel less distressed.

You can also help by going into your children's school or local schools in your area to raise awareness by visiting the Alzehimer's website here. My friend is a solicitor and writes people's Wills for a living. She had gone on a course run by her firm and was so inspired by this campaign that she did just that. She emailed her child's school and local schools in the area and set up coffee mornings to raise awareness. She was delighted that people came and listened and felt she was doing her bit to spread the word. Here's what Esther said

"I attended a dementia friends information session and I felt inspired to become a dementia friends champion so that I could spread this important message and hopefully inspire others. In my daily job I encounter people with dementia and their families and have seen first hand the difficulties they experience. By making the wider community aware of the issues it will lead to more understanding and patience and help people and their families to live well with dementia. Since becoming a champion I have inspired 29 people to become dementia friends and hope to make many more."

It was a great opportunity for not only the adults but for younger people to hear what they could do to help.  By all accounts, a third of young people know someone with dementia. This link is for young people and gives them clear advice on what they can do to support someone with dementia.

My Grandad enjoying his Chinese meal on what was his 90th Birthday with my lovely Auntie 
I have also had personal experience of Dementia. My Grandad (not the beachy head one) had the disease in the latter part of his life. He lived in Devon which was miles away from our family.  When my family went to visit the house was in disarray and the neighbours said he would often go for walks without his keys, get lost etc.  He had always been so very independent - travelling all over the world after my Granny died.  He even brought back an envelope from a chap he met and I quote "he seemed a decent enough chap". My Grandad the drugs mule!

Unfortunately, others take advantage of the elderly and he had been sending cheques to people who claimed he had won some money. My family found bank stubs showing various amounts having been paid out. The final straw came when he tripped and knocked his head one Christmas Day in 2005. He was taken to hospital and he never returned to Devon. The family decided he had to be closer to them in a care home. Of course, he was most outraged by this as he felt he could live perfectly well on his own.  The family had to seek Power of Attorney which isn't an easy thing to do when the person feels like there isn't anything wrong. I know it caused a lot of angst about having to do this but ultimately they were trying to do what was best for their dad.  He lived to the grand old age of 92 - spending the last 4 years in the care home.  I think its fair to say he had a good innings and he had a good quality of life right up until the end.

So never mind about Jeremy Clarkson's petition and getting him re-instated for allegedly punching a man and saying nasty things.  Click on something that could make a real difference today.

Become a Dementia Friend!

I'm working with BritMums and Public Health England alongside the #BritMumsDementiaFriends campaign. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit the Dementia Friends site for more information and resources about coping with dementia among family and friends.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Monday Chit Chat

Forgive the delay but yet again I have a sick house. When will it end?!!  I thought the middle of January was bad when 3 of us were ill for a few days. Enter Reception germs!  My little fella has now had 7 days soon to be 8 days off school since he started in September. I don't know about you but I think that's excessive. Everyone says "ohh but they get lots in Reception" "their immune system soon builds up" but its of little comfort.

The little fella threw up at 4 am on Thursday and he continued to do so, every 20 minutes, until approx 8pm that night. He did a few more at 11pm before finally stopping at 2am. The next day was sick again (on and off) and then the diarrhea started. We had a brief rest bite on Saturday but he was tired all day so was cuddled up on the sofa. On Sunday, he started to throw up again and finished about 2pm.

Needless to say he's off today and, touch wood, no sickness.  Having said this you're meant to keep them off for 48 hours so he'll be off tomorrow given that he's had such a violent attack of the tummy bugs. My daughter then started throwing up yesterday and last night also. So she's off.

Thankfully my eldest doesn't appear to have been struck down. My husband had a day off and I've felt sick and had a dodgy tummy today but being the martyr that I am have soldiered on!  My eldest went off for his one week residential trip so I'm praying he doesn't start to feel ill.  I'm sure he'll be fine he's meticulous about cleaning his hands etc.

I will speak to my youngest teacher later - he's nearly had as much time off as my other two have in their entire schooling.  She'll probably think I'm being paranoid and its all very normal but I need reassurances of hygiene standards! We are very hot on hand washing before mealtimes etc but I don't know if other parents are.

So my life feels suspended at the moment. On hold. I was on fire last week having completed day 1 of Week 4 on the C25k app and now this. I haven't been able to go for a run in between clearing up puke and poo.  At this rate the 8 week programme will take me 8 months.  They should make one of these apps which allows for sick children!

So I feel fat and yuck having not exercised for so long. Soup tonight as food is looking very unappetizing at the moment. We are meant to be going to a friends 50th on Saturday fingers crossed that's not another thing that has to be cancelled.

Roll on Mother's Day. My favourite time of the year!

Be back soon with more cheery tales I would hope.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Get Crafty on World Book Day

Well today its World Book Day.  Now, since my children moved to a new primary school (their old one didn't bother with this day for dress up or many other days for that matter), we have entered into the spirit of dressing up in a book character. Maybe that's why I don't mind it so much - I haven't had to make these outfits for 7 + years plus I'm just happy that the kids now go to a school where some fun is going on.

Only last week, they had Paul Geraghty, Author who writes and illustrates his own children's books. The kids were so inspired by his visit and his drawings. So much so that when they came home they had drawing competitions and told me how you go about illustrating a scene in a book. In addition, they had their individual chosen book signed by the author himself. My son, who flits between wanting to be a spy, author, scientist and Tour de France winner feels now it would be better to concentrate on the children's book market as he feels its more profitable!

Anyhow, last year you may remember we got well and truly into the spirit of things with our Diary of a Wimpy Kid outfit.  Well, this years creations were Mr Bump, War Horse and Stick Man. I love the book Stick Man.  Now, my self imposed brief for making these costumes, is that it costs little or no money and all crafty supplies must be found around the house.  Cardboard is your best friend for World Book Day that and PVA glue, paints and a stapler. Oh and my husband.

So without further ado, here are our offerings...

Mr Bump - giant piece of cardboard cut out slot for eyes to see through and cover with a bandage.  We put a bandage at the bottom of the cut out so that it can be tied around my son's waist. He also has two straps going over his arms like a rucksack. Cost = nothing
Ok so its not all cardboard. We had an old pony (as you do) knocking around and my husband had put wheels on it. He sprayed it grey. I had an old hat from an Oliver Twist day, a smock top from a nativity and brownie leggings. Brown eye shadow for dirt on the face. 
This is possibly my finest hour as had no help. Copied straight from google images. Used a cardboard box (balloon time and stripped it back to give stick effect. Painted brown. Used loo roll for arms. Had to cut it short so he could sit down and added leaves.

Only thing is my youngest never got to wear it! He started throwing up from 4.00 am onwards and is currently lying next to me in between throwing up bile. Nice.  I have never known him to be so sick. I reckon he's had 7 days off sick since he started reception.  That's probably more than my other two in their entire primary school years!  He is a bugger for sucking his finger but I am religious about hand washing etc.  Urgh hurry up and finish reception year.

In other news, I completed Week 4, day 1 of the C25K - I did plan to do day 2 today but see above.  I managed to run for 5 mins without stopping and then later on another 5 mins so of it was up hill also so I felt very chuffed with myself. 

Happy World Book Day!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

You're The Devil In Disguise

Yes you are. The X-box. I'm convinced of it. As I mentioned in a previous post our little devil is now in the loft.  Its been up there for nearly 4 weeks and I have to say the house is a happier place without it. I no longer have to shout, at various times during the weekend, "COME OFF IT NOW!"  That was becoming number one on my top 10 mothering phrases.

So why the hating on the X-box? Asides from it eating away the soul of my eldest it was highly addictive. Now you won't find many parents who don't say "we limit the amount of time they play on it" but the truth is, yes there is a limit, but 9 times out of 10 the limit has been exceeded. This is easily done as you lose track of time - you can get stuff done. Its harder to be regimented with the use of the x-box.  The kids are happy. You want your kids to be happy and you're able to get on with jobs minus interruption. Its easy parenting. Its lazy parenting. Its armchair parenting. 

My son only played on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He always came off when he was told but the time at the weekends were slowly increasing. He would play in the morning come off - go back on maybe after lunch and that would be fine. We'd get out for a walk, he'd do his chores, guinea pigs etc. All was okay. Then slowly he wanted to play a bit before tea and then after tea.  

In addition, prior to this increase in game play, we let him have one hour (which was regulated) on a Tuesday and Wednesday when our youngest was in bed so he wasn't exposed to game play.  He is doing well at school and has never really been any great hassle to manage - where's the harm?

Well then that wasn't enough. He wanted to play on a Monday, he wanted to play before our youngest was in bed, he started to count down when he could next go on the X-box, when we were out he was asking what the time was - working out how much X-box time he could get in during the day. When he wasn't on the X-box he was on youtube looking at people playing his chosen game!! Are alarm bells starting to ring yet?  

In addition to all of this, I noticed a shift in his behavior (which could also be put down to his age - 11) he was more aggressive, swearing and generally a bit of an arse.  The final straw was when he'd joined a forum to ask for more players on his chosen game - Destiny.  

The plug was pulled.  I googled "son addicted to x-box" and the sheer scale of the problem is quite disturbing.  Mother's across the land saying exactly the same thing - one mother even said her son had started to punch her if he couldn't play his game. She hadn't told her husband as she didn't quite know what to do.  And if you want to really get a feel for how devastating having their X-box removed is for boys (primarily) then search it on youtube. Comical and disturbing in equal measure.

As exciting as watching TV indoors as a child in the 1970s/80s. For those of you too young this fixed screen appeared before some crap programme was about to start!
The trouble with this technology is we don't really know the effects of what it is doing to their young brains but I don't need to be a scientist to get a fair idea and it ain't pretty. In particular X-box live is a huge problem as the game is always live so the player feels they are letting down the team if they come off.  So you'll find your child can't just play an X-box game anymore it has to be live to make it worth their while.

No wonder we went outside for hours on bikes, skateboards, roller skates or played 'knock down ginger' where you'd knock on some poor old fella's door and run away. Hard core! 

So yes the plugged was pulled as ultimately I am the parent and know best. I regained control of the situation. I knew this was going to end badly.  My son, naturally, wasn't best pleased and thought it was the end of his life. I joked that he was on suicide watch for the first week but all jokes asides he was depressed about this turn of events.  He would flit between being okay to then remembering his world had been taken away from him.

Things brightened up in the 80's with a cassette and headphones after, of course, taping the Top 40 on Radio 1 on a Sunday evening. Some of us mastered the art of hitting the pause button before the next advert.

By week 2 there was a vast improvement and by week 3 we were pretty much home and dry. He'd gone cold turkey and whilst there were times when I wanted to give in and hand back his X-box - my hubbie talked sense and said "if he were a heroin addict would you give it back?" Of course not. An addiction is an addiction and whilst the child is going to hate you ultimately you're doing it because you love them. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Enter this bad boy - the height of technology with Tetris but even then we weren't addicted!
I have seen the effects of a youngster who was allowed unsupervised access to their laptop (taken to bed, no restrictions etc) from this age and was very bright. They are unable to function properly outside their virtual world which they seek comfort from. They are now failing at everything unable to focus their mind on anything other than mindless social platforms. Sad thing is they'll soon have years to do this as their prospects are bleak. Had restrictions been put in place and proper parenting then the outcome would certainly have been very different.

In the grand scheme of things the percentage of when your child is at secondary 11-18 is a short compared to their life in total. However, the impact of that short time affects the rest of their life.

Our favorite family game at the moment 
I know of parents that let their children have their x-box in their room. This will all end in tears. One parent found her son playing in the middle of the night. If your child is doing well at school prepare for them not to be and if they're not doing well (incidentally most who aren't spend more time on their X-box than they do on their homework) well have a think about why that is.  Even high schools are noticing this distraction is having a negative impact on education. I looked up my son's high school reading recommendation list for year 7 and at the top it said "we know its hard to get children off computer games".  What a sad state of affairs when schools are having to say can you please get your child read a book.

I've told my son that when he's 18 and on benefits (if he'll get benefits by that time and its not just workhouses) he can play all the X-box games he likes.  He'll have hours to waste as will all his friends. This was after he said his friends were allowed to play for hours. These friends are also in booster groups at school and will always be trying to catch up. I bet they're on some great level on Destiny or Halo though as that'll stand them in good stead won't it? 

The best thing about all of this is the good old family activities that have emerged following the removal of technology. We've discovered Blue Peter and its competitions, draughts, darts, art competitions and crafting. The 1st week also happened to be half term but the kids decided to make body armour using recycling. Because they knew they weren't going on the X-box they would stay engaged in activities for longer.  There were no more countdowns when out for walks and life has been pretty good.  We may re-introduce it for Minecraft as my daughter wasn't addicted and is now unable to play her favourite game but I am very reluctant to do so at the moment. They have had the use of the Wii to do dancing and sports when it was cold and I've found that to have far less of an addictive influence. 

In any event, I'm pleased to say I've got my son back!  You have been warned!

Until next time...