Run Forrest Run


Its that time of year when its starting to warm up and my thoughts are once again turning to getting fit for summer. I am one of those lucky people who are without trying, naturally slim. Unfortunately this also makes me unlucky as it lulls me into the false sense of security that because I am slim I must be healthy and fit and therefore I don’t need to exercise. A glance in the mirror this morning after squeezing into my favourite skinny jeans was a bit of a wake up call. Well, less a wake up call and more a sharp slap in the face with a wet fish. How long have my butt and my knees been planning this merger for? Some time, going by the 80’s high-waisted jean clad mum bum look I’m rocking in the back. Time to get off the couch, dust off my trainers and start running again.

I’ll be honest here, I don’t really enjoy running. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a naturally gifted athlete. Have you seen that episode of Friends when Rachel takes Phoebe running? Of course you have, Friends is still on, what, twenty, thirty times a week? Well, anyway, when I run, I wish I were Rachel, but as you’ve probably guessed I’m Phoebe. I’ve never been quite sure what to do with my arms. I am very aware of them, especially as they seem to do such stupid things when I run. Think whacky wavey flappy flailing arm inflatable tube man. I have been known in the past to punch myself in the face whilst running down a hill. I am just not co-ordinated. But while I don’t enjoy running, I enjoy the after effects. The extra energy. The warm glowy feel of healthiness. The being able to dash quickly up the stairs without feeling like I’ve just scaled Mount Everest without oxygen.

After I had Biggest, and before I had Smallest, I was the fittest I’d ever been. I was going to the gym three times a week. I was running five times a week. When I fell pregnant with Smallest it all came to an abrupt halt. No amount of platitudes from my midwife that it was perfectly safe to continue could convince me he wasn’t going to either a) fall out of my foof, or b) be born with googly eyes from all the bouncing around in there.

I’ve only run once since I had Smallest, when he was about four or five months old. It started off well enough. I put all my lovely bright running gear on. Warmed up with lots of stretches. Then started off with a brisk jog. After about a minute I was congratulating myself. This wasn’t so bad. Running around after two boys all day was obviously doing far more for my physical fitness than I thought. A minute later and I was lent up against the nearest tree convinced I was going to puke/have a heart attack/die/all of the above. I waited for my heart to stop trying to explode through my ribs, and then set off at a slightly slower and more sedate but easier to maintain speed. And was promptly passed by two buggy pushing yummy mummies out for a relaxed Sunday stroll and a natter. One of them nodded a friendly hello. I tried to say hello back, but as I literally had no breath left with which to speak by this point it came out as a growl, during which I may or may not have dribbled down my front a teeny bit. They sped up in an effort to get away from the quite clearly insane sweaty mess of a person, I tottered on concrete legs to the nearest bench to collapse. Then limped home wearily with my tail between my legs. Did I warm down? No, I believe I headed straight for the treat cupboard to snaffle me some chocolate in an effort to raise my severely depleted blood sugar and to take the edge off my embarrassment. I also seem to vaguely recall walking a bit like a cowboy for a few days afterwards.

I’m beginning to wonder, whilst remembering this little nugget, why I’m so keen to start it up again. The truth is that for me running is the far lesser of exercising evils. Despite going for eight months I never got into the whole gym bunny thing. While I told myself that nobody was looking and that we were all here with the same purpose, I’ll admit the girls in full face make up and teeny tiny crop tops mulling around the entrance to the weights room to perve in giggling gaggles convinced me otherwise. Besides which, there is only so many times a girl can fall off of the cross trainer before admitting it’s not her bag. I’m also no good at games. My aforementioned unco-ordination does not lend itself well to team sports. Being patted patronisingly on the back and congratulated on a ‘good effort’ gets old pretty quick. I hate being responsible for everyone else losing the game at best, and at worst for someone being accidently smacked in the face and ending up in A&E with a sideways schnozz. At least with running the only person that ends up on the receiving end of my uncontrollably wayward arms is me.

So, partly inspired by a friend of mine who I am sure will agree with me is approximately my level of fitness awkward,  I’m off to download the C25K app to give it a whirl and see if I can’t just ease myself back into it. She has, after finishing the app, just completed her first Fun Run. Although I will say right here, right now, those are two words that shall never feature together in a sentence formed by my mouth. I will settle for raising my fitness level and toning up a bit. And maybe waving goodbye to the mum bum.

The C25K app can be found here:


I Am Not Perfect


So its been a wee while since my last post. I kind of had the wind taken out of my sails a week or so ago  after I posted my blog to my Facebook, and someone I’ve known for years commented ‘I hope your kids never read this’ then promptly defriended me. Ouch. At first I laughed it off, the person in question must have a right old stick up their arse, right? But it must’ve bothered me more than I thought because I haven’t been able to write properly since.

I don’t know if it were the general act of telling the great wide t’interweb about our life that caused such offence, but I’ve been pretty careful not to name the boys, or disclose our location other than in a general sense, and you won’t ever see a picture of them on here. So unless you’re a friend or family member you won’t know me or the kids from a block of soap should you ever happen across us in real life. Maybe this person thought I was embarrassing them, but I haven’t written about anything untypical of a 4 and nearly 2 year old so I’m sure any mother reading this is laughing WITH me and not AT them. Growing up in a household with me and Mr O and our shared wicked sense of humour means the boys are bound to inherit it, and hopefully they will find this hysterically funny when they are old enough to read it. Biggest told his first joke aged two, when he walked into the room, told us he had a ‘sore foot’ then pulled a toy Handy Manny saw out from behind his back and proceeded to pretend to saw his foot off. (Get it? SAW foot?) At the very least they will know why their mother went prematurely grey. And anyway, it’s a mothers prerogative to embarrass their children. I know my own did on many many occasions. (Sorry Ma, but its true. Remember that time when I was fourteen and you told the checkout operator at the supermarket I still played with Barbies? Well she was sixteen and a year above me at school. Uncool Mother, uncool.)

This was never meant to a mummy blog, but as a stay at home mum it turns out that right now that’s what I enjoy writing about. Anyway, in the interests of fair play, I decided to write down a few of my own perceived failings as a mother, and even the scoreboard a bit. I can rip the piss out of myself a bit. I’m a Kiwi, its what we do. Take that, de-friender.

1)      I am not a morning person.

I always imagined when I became a mother that I would be up bright and early, getting showered, dressed and made up before the kids were up, and doing a quick whip round with the Hoover while they enjoyed scrambled eggs and toast and fresh squeezed juice and had a quiet shared giggle over some brotherly joke Mama wasn’t allowed in on. The truth is I’ve never been a morning person and giving birth has unfortunately not changed that. My alarm goes off in plenty of time for me to achieve A State of Perfect Mother Nirvana, but I just end up repeatedly hitting the snooze button until I can no longer ignore Smallest shouting for me from his cot. I roll out of bed seriously grumpy (roll might even be an exaggeration, more drag myself heavy hearted and foggy headed from the comforting softness of my lovely warm bed), and skilfully avoid all attempts by my kids to draw me into conversation until I’ve slugged at least two cups of coffee. The days Biggest has school are the worst. Due to my own inability to get up at a reasonable hour I barely have time to get dressed, never mind get showered, I’m THAT mum in the school yard with the jumper on inside out and hair that looks like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. Most mornings you can hear me shouting FAST FEET BIGGEST, FAST FEET, WE’RE RUNNING LATE as I drag him down the street to get him to the classroom before the door shuts. He doesn’t need, and I certainly don’t need, the shame of having to go through the late door. Although the way I’m going, its only a matter of time.

2)      I shout. A LOT.

I don’t know if its to do with my growing up in the country where it really didn’t matter how much noise you were making as long as you didn’t wake Dad up from sleeping off the night shift, or if its down to my slight deafness, but it appears my default setting is shout. Sometimes, I don’t even REALISE I’m shouting, although Biggest is all too swift to point it out. The flip side of this is I suffer something called Misophonia (from the Greek words misos and phone), which literally translated means ‘hatred of sound’. Repetitive or incessant noises stress me out (*cough* understatement *cough*), I can’t BEAR it when the kids shout. One of those Do as Mama Says, Not As Mama Does things. The list of noise that drives me spare is quite comprehensive, but mainly concerns any noise coming from the mouth. Chewing, drinking, slurping, yawning, coughing, people kissing, or people talking too loudly all sit firmly at the top. A Twitter user I came across stated a more appropriate translation for Misophonia would be ‘Chew with your mouth closed or I will throw a large rock at your face’. True bloody story. Sometimes, when the kids forget their manners, I have to leave the table and eat elsewhere least I lose the plot entirely. Thumping the table and shouting STOP SLAPPING YOUR CHOPS is not an appropriately motherish thing to do.

3)      I don’t bake.

When I was growing up me and my sisters LOVED baking. Our bible was the great New Zealand classic, the Edmonds “Sure To Rise” Cookery book. Mum has had it forever, its held together in places with sellotape, missing the front cover and probably a fair few pages but we regardless spent countless afternoons paging through that book looking for the perfect cake or muffin. We would bake until we ran out of flour, or sugar, or eggs, and then we’d ring Mum at work and ask her to bring some more home. However with two kids, I don’t bake anymore. I should, but I don’t. I just don’t seem to have enough time, there is always something that needs my attention, a nappy that needs changing, a spilled juice that needs mopping up, a scraped knee to magic better. I did try to bake WITH Biggest once, we successfully made a rather tasty courgette cake, but I think my control freakedness over the mess he was making stirring things kind of ruined the experience for him. Mummy fail.

4)      I take over art projects.

My control freakedness also extends to projects with the kids. Biggest and I are nearly finished a submarine we made out of an old nappy box. I actually had to shelve it for a time while I got over myself. We cut the box and taped it into a boat shape and papered over it with kitchen roll and PVA glue to toughen it up and smooth it out. I found myself getting the kitchen roll and glue out at night to go over the bits Biggest hadn’t ‘done properly’. I mean, who DOES that? We recently restarted it and I can happily say its not perfect, but its his project, and he is damn proud of it. I’m getting better at letting my need for perfection go a little.

5)      I take too many photos

I do. Just ask Mr O. Since getting a smart phone I near permanently have it out with my finger hovering on the button ready to snap a picture, least I miss something. The truth is I am missing something, I’m trading actual memories for digital ones. I don’t really need nineteen pictures of Biggest smiling in front of his completed reward chart or forty two pictures of Smallest in his brothers gumboots. One will do, then I can properly congratulate Biggest instead of cajoling him to stand still for the camera, or actually enjoy Smallest walking around looking for all the world like a drunken cowboy. Mental note to self: Leave phone in pocket. If this is too tempting, leave phone in bedroom. If there’s an emergency, people will just have to call me on the house phone. I don’t really want Biggest and Smallest to remember me as that lady hovering in the background with her face obscured by her phone.

There are a lot more things I could add, but as it turns out waxing lyrical about my faults is turning out to be far easier than I thought, a fact I am not entirely liking too much. So I think I will leave it there for now. But at least it looks as though normal (blogging) service has resumed.

Credit where credit is due, my references for this article were:

I Do Not Like Pea Soup

This morning, probably as it’s gotten really cold and miserable these last few days (yes, sorry UK, apparently I jinxed us all earlier in the week with my post about how mild this winter has been), I woke up with an insatiable craving for a big bowl of proper chunky deliciously warming-and-comforting winter soup. As Mr O is on a late shift, leaving it just me and the boys for dinner, I decided for convenience sake to dash out and buy some rather than spend two hours chopping vegetables and fending off Smallest’s grabby grabby hands and telling Biggest that while I know he is hungry he CANNOT have another biscuit. And that if he does not stop opening that bloody fridge door he won’t be getting ANYTHING, FULL STOP. No, there is NOTHING you can have to ‘snack on until dinner’ in there. SMALLEST! Get OUT of the DISHWASHER! GIVE ME BACK THE CHEESE GRATER!

As it turned out, the local shop ain’t big on soup. Catering mainly to the student population the cold shelves are stacked up with pasties and microwave burgers, and it left me with a choice of two soups. Italian Vine Ripened Tomato and Lentil, which the kids wouldn’t eat, and Pea and Wiltshire Ham, which I couldn’t eat. I have a real aversion to pea soup. Pea soup makes me a bit sicky in my mouth. When I was pregnant with Biggest I went through a mad craving for it and I ate it every day, twice a day, for an entire week. On Day Eight of Pea-soup-a-thon I put the spoon to my mouth, and before I even tasted it was overcome with an instant wave of nausea. I had my head down the toilet for an hour afterwards. The brief and torrid love affair was over, along with any residual feelings I may have had towards garden peas, minted peas, marrow fat peas, mushy peas, canned peas or any other pea you can think of. I’ve never got over it. However, lack of choice left me with no option but to get one Tomato and Lentil for me, and one (shudder), Pea and Ham for the terrors.

Upon opening it, I thought I would be alright. Despite the claims of being ‘Blended with 100% British Crème Fraiche’ it was a rather startling bright green and very runny, but I managed to get it into the pot without even a tiny bit of splash back (which would have been a disaster, if the damn stuff had got ON me), and I definitely did not feel pukey. Once it started warming up however, it was a different story entirely. Not even the rich earthy scent of my own soup bubbling away, or the enticing aroma of the garlic bread baking in the oven managed to counterbalance the pungent pea-ness emanating from the pot. I stifled a teeny tiny dry heave. Extractor fan was upped to full, tea towel clenched tightly to face, but even so by the time the damn stuff was warmed through I was dry heaving so much I’d given myself the hiccups. I broke up the garlic bread in record speed, poured the soup into the bowls whilst hopping from one foot to the other, snapped a quick pic for a daily dinner post on Facebook I’m part of, and then basically threw it at the children in my attempts to get it as far far away from me as possible in the quickest amount of time. As I fled the room I shouted over my shoulder that I was just going to eat my soup in the kitchen. Shout if you need me.

I immediately threw open the window, and took a few deep breaths before I tried to attempt my own soup. Once I was a few mouthfuls in I began to feel a bit better. It was tasty. Oh, it was lush! As I finished up I silently congratulated myself on being So Awfully Grown Up as to be able to control myself (fancy that?!), and went to check on the kids.

I congratulated myself too soon. As briefly mentioned in my first post, Smallest loves throwing his spoon/bowl. Usually at the end of a meal after he’s shouted ‘ALL GONE!’ and we haven’t been swift enough in clearing his plate. Sometimes, there is still food in the spoon/bowl. And while I’m sure he didn’t mean to, on this particular occasion he threw his spoon just as I walked into the room, hitting me on the shoulder and splattering pea soup right the way down my arm. Instantly, I threw up in my mouth. I charged up the stairs, and emptied near enough the entire contents of my stomach into the great white ceramic church. It erupted with such force some came out of my nose. I may have cried a little. And all that beautiful tomato and lentil soup I’d just demolished, wasted. Oh good god, it was awful. The whole experience was regretfully repeated a few minutes later trying to get my pea stained t-shirt off, when some accidently got on my face. And then afterwards, when I blew my nose, a lentil shot out. My humiliating defeat was complete.

Needless to say, pea soup shall grace my stove top no more.