Sunday, 25 June 2017

Birmingham bound!

So we have apparently just experienced a 'heatwave' or as I would say, a few days of lovely weather. 

Yes it was hot but blink and it's sadly over.

Thankfully, I guess, it was cooler for our trip to Birmingham - the next stop on our University Open Day Tour! School had an Inset day on the Friday, so Sophie and I got the bus to Bristol, then train to Birmingham, staying in a Premier Inn overnight. We spent the afternoon 'doing Birmingham' so Sophie could get a feel for the city, as the University is campus based and just a train stop out of the city. Birmingham has really improved from when I used to go 30+ years ago. The train station alone is vast and then there's the Bullring Shopping Centre and the lovely Brindly Place by the canal. We met an old school friend and her daughter on the Friday evening, which was a great chance for a catch up and for them to chat about where they were looking at for uni choices.

So up bright and breezy on the Saturday morning, we enjoyed a good breakfast at New Street Station, fuelled ready for our day at the University. The campus was huge but had a great feel. We ticked off the Economics talk, followed by a tour of the accommodation area, quick bite to eat, then a campus tour. With a couple of hours to fill, we explored the Subject Hall and Student Guild, a quick peek in the Library, then headed back to the train station for a much needed coffee and sit down.

It was a great day and as a result, I think Birmingham has jumped into 'top spot', with Exeter now in second place. Still the matter of getting an offer and the subsequent 3 'A' grade entry requirement but I think she may have found 'the one'. We still have a few more to see - Surrey next Saturday, with Cardiff and Southampton the weekend after, battling it out for the insurance uni choice. 

I'm really enjoying it, having a good look around. Much to Sophie's annoyance, I'm one of the Mum's asking lots of questions but as I keep telling her, this is your one chance to ask actual students about their experiences there and more often than not, I think the students are glad to be asked, rather than just standing there waiting around. So I now have been tasked to do some accommodation research, as Sophie's working all day today and work out how to get to Surrey next Saturday!

Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

It's been a hot one!

What a week of gloriously sunny weather, at last and.....

....... I've certainly been making the most of it!

 I've struggled working inside, when there have been gorgeous blue skies outside.

Although alfresco dining is a must!

Today is Father's Day and Jeff has spent a day relaxing in the garden. A big shout out to my Dad and Jeff's Dad too, who I hope are enjoying a gloriously sunny day, relaxing too.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Ready for the weekend

Wasn't the best start to the week and back to school after half term. I don't feel like we've really started Summer yet, more warm sunshine is definitely needed.

I've been in school all this week, scribing, reading, invigilating and teaching, so a busy week for me and more of the same for all of next week too.

We have thankfully, finished exams in this household. Sophie sat her last Physic's exam on Thursday and we all breathed a sigh of relief. It's felt a bit of a slog and I do hope all her hard work is rewarded on results day in August. If it were down to effort, she deserves A's all the way!

So last night I sat on the sofa shattered, looking forward to a day at home pottering today. I've done a big food shop, two lots of washing, caught up on other bits and pieces and am just about to do lunch. Jeff and Sophie are at work, so a quiet afternoon to catch up with everything. Sadly no sunshine in the forecast but it's dry, so may potter out in the garden and tidy things after the windy day on Tuesday. Love a quiet weekend at home with no plans - have a good one x

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Half term hols

So the half term is over! It's been a busy week, mixed weather and a few house/garden projects started but a week is never enough.

My sister and niece came over for the day on Wednesday, then my Mum and Dad brought Granny up for lunch on the Thursday. We were treated to a lovely sunny day, which meant eating outside was a 'must'. 

Sophie and I were up and out early on Friday, for the first on many University Open Days. Exeter is the closest and was a good one to start with. She's done lots of research about the course content and place, grade entry requirements and accommodation etc. Exeter and Birmingham are 'on paper' her top two, as they offer the best courses but also have the highest entry grade requirements. Southampton and Cardiff may offer a slightly lower grade requirements and then Surrey is in the mix too but I worry about how expensive it will be, once she lives out in a house etc. Lots still to see and consider for us all, with Birmingham next to see.

Then to end the half term in style, Jeff and I headed to Birmingham to see Take That! last night

Car essentials 

As always, they put on a fantastic show

(not my photo)
All Saints were the support act and were good too - I'd forgotten some of their old hits.

(not my photo)

(my photo)

I didn't get too many good pics but as Jeff said ' just enjoy the show'. I think I may have converted him into a Take That fan after 3 shows now!

Of course you leave these shows on such a high and I must say, for the first time once it was over, I did feel a sense of relief once we were out and in the car. My thoughts were with those at the recent Manchester attack and then as we drove down the M5, news of the terrible London attacks were unfolding. It must be heart breaking for all those affected, but I do believe we must keep doing things, going to events, sharing just as much the enjoyable things in life or why live.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Heightened Senses

Last night I settled down to watch my normal TV viewing - Britain's Got Talent, followed by Doctor in the House on BBC1. I love any medical, people type programmes but unknowingly, tonight's episode was about eating, food and weight - of particular interest, a girl who had a limited diet of 7 foods, which made me sit up and listen! She was diagnosed with 'Avoidant & Restrictive Food Intake Disorder' or ARFID and on further investigation today, also commonly known as 'Selective Eating Disorder' or SED. This is it, this is what I would now say my Sam has, as a result of his 'Heightened Senses' from birth.

This Doctor - Dr Chatterjee spends time with the families, more than the usual 10 minute appointment given, to delve into the route cause for a particular condition. It was an emotional watch for me because I have always placed a massive amount of blame at my door for Sam's eating habits and have loads of  'Mum Guilt' at what I could have done differently but it really wasn't my fault! I've felt so pressured by those around me to 'sort him', 'it's easy', 'he's just fussy', 'he'll grow out of it'. I would have paid those who made faces out of his food to get him to eat, coaxed and bribed him, a £1000 if they could have 'sorted him!' at the time. Well he hasn't grown out of it, Sam is now 14, his diet is still very restricted, he wants to eat 'normally' but he just can't and the programme really hit home about the fear he must have, when new foods are pushed in front of him to try - perfectly illustrated by a adult encouraged to eat a bowl of insects.

I then came across this video this morning and it perfectly describes Sam and what he must feel.

He has always had issues with food and all his senses from birth. He would projectile vomit up his milk, he never weaned, when a normal baby would posset up a mouthful of food, Sam would empty the contents of his stomach. As we were living in a boarding school, I was conscious of those around us at meal times, so to eliminate the inevitable sickness that followed any new food, I gave him 'carby safe foods' when around other people, foods he seemed to cope with.

When he was two he had delayed speech and we were referred to a speech therapist. By the time we had our appointment his speech was fine but I mentioned his eating and senses issues and was advised to 'paint his lips with flavours' and 'put him in a paddling pool with cheerios'!!! Because he was always a good weight and healthy, nothing more was done, we just 'managed' his condition the best we could. On further investigation, years on, I found the condition 'Heightened Senses' more commonly known in America and this best described all his difficulties.

He had his food issues and couldn't 'do' textures, it was best described as 'an orchestra playing in his mouth'. I would make him a packed lunch and at parties and other mothers would comment 'was he a fussy eater then?' I couldn't communicate what he was going through but when a child is sick on a chocolate finger because they can't cope with the chocolate and biscuit texture combined, I wouldn't describe this as fussy! It took him 3 years to eat cake because he couldn't cope with the way it crumbled in his mouth.

He would be sick due to certain strong smells - seaweed at the beach. I remember him retching in the car park at Ilfracombe and saying 'I can't like that smell'.  He couldn't cope with loud noises and would 'headbutt' me at music groups, until the noise stopped. He didn't like to touch certain things and couldn't control his body temperature. If he got too hot, he'd be sick! At the cinema he have to take his socks and shoes off and be near the door in case he got too hot.

Over the years his condition has improved. He still has issues and is still super sensitive, hates the heat (makes holidaying abroad interesting!) but he's learnt how to deal with it. The main issue still is his eating and as he grows older, he wants to be more like his friends. Simple things like eating chewing gum or having a fizzy drink, eating sweets - he's never done and we joke about if he will ever drink a beer, things people just take for granted. We have worked on him being able to eat garlic bread, so he can go out for a pizza with friends and in just the last few weeks, he can now eat chicken - it's taken us 3+ years to get to that point.

 I write this, not for sympathy but if one person reads this and thinks 'oh my god, that's my child' it will have helped someone. I was surprised at the number that commented and private messaged me on Instagram last night, when I posted a comment about the programme. For me, the programme was just clarity, the feeling that we're not alone, that it's not our fault and now I have a named 'condition', I have a new source to research and help Sam as best I can. I think hypnosis could be the way forward but he's not keen (yet!)

If you have struggled with this or have a child going through this, you have my sympathies and understanding. I hope improvements can be made and I hope I can help Sam, get the help he needs to overcome this condition, that has been with him since birth. Relaxed social eating, something we assume everyone enjoys, is Sam's worst nightmare. Normalising his condition was a huge breakthrough for us, as a family. We no longer make a fuss if he doesn't eat something, we are led by him as to what foods he might like to try. Social occasions/family meals are still difficult for him, as he thinks people watch and judge him but I no longer feel it's my fault and go with the flow.

Sorry it's been a long post and is probably of no interest to the vast majority of you but as I said, if it can help one person, then it'll have been worth writing. Plus it's a good outpouring for me! I'm off to do some more research, as I hope I can find some way to further help Sam, deal with this condition.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Working week!

I've pretty much worked all this week invigilating - it reminded me of one of the plus side's self employment had - choosing when to work when the sun was shining! It's been frustrating being inside, knowing it's gloriously sunny outside. Oh well, something to get used to again but on the flip side, I get to enjoy this whole Bank Holiday weekend, without having to promote a sale or pack orders or deal with enquiries for the first time in years. 

The weather has been glorious and it's been a joy to still have the doors open wide to the outside, at 8pm in the evening. We did however have the most incredible storm last night - thunder and lightning continuously over us, for a good hour or more at 3am. Sam somehow slept through the whole thing, goodness knows how!!

Yesterday afternoon, I treated Sophie to a surprise trip to Bath. She's been studying so hard for her exams and is working all this weekend and next. The 5 available days in half term are busy and full of more revision, so I whisked her to Bath for a little retail therapy and......

A reminder of our fabulous trip to Sorrento, Italy last summer x

A glorious afternoon of sunshine, shopping, people watching and gelato x 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Two Year Anniversary

 Today is my 2 year Slimming World 'Target' Anniversary.

On the 22nd of May 2015, I reached my Target weight of 9 stone and felt over the moon. With the stress of moving house etc, I continued to lose weight and lowered my target weight to 8st10lbs. Incredible things followed after appearing in the local paper, which was then shared in the National Media.

My target weight wasn't sustainable in the long term and in the May of 2016, I changed my target back to 9 stone. I started running and found a love for something I'd previously hated and had never tried - running my first 5k for Cancer UK.

Struggling to keep in this 7pound bubble, in the September of 2016 I changed my target weight to a more realistic 9st3lbs and that's where I've stayed. I know it was only 3 pound difference but each pound makes a big difference to maintaining.

Being at target is hard because you know it's forever. I'm so determined to keep the weight off this time, that putting the weight back on isn't an option. Finding your 'perfect, happy weight' is key. I feel I am at the right weight for me now. I can wear size 8 jeans and size 12 tops. I am fit and healthy and eat the most delicious food on a daily basis, whilst maintaining my weight loss. 

I am genuinely the happiest I've ever been in my own skin and it's all down to my Slimming World group, fab consultant and the inspiring Instagram community. I still go to group to be inspired, take home fab tips and meal ideas and basically for motivation you just can't get anywhere else. I've not got to group as much as I'd like recently, due to work but I think that staying to group whilst losing the weight and subsequently since being at Target, has kept the weight off today.

I woke to this view this morning when I got up to go to the loo at 4:55am
Life is good, life is for living and I am determined the rest of my life will be at a healthy weight and it's all thanks to Slimming World.