When multi tasking goes wrong

Let me set the scene….

Recently the village we live in has been inundated with flies!  We’ve purchased a UV thing that they fly into and get killed (the smell of burning fly pervades the house!) but there is something quite satisfying about a good old fashioned fly swatter:

Fly swatter

This evening I was cooking (well, warming up what had already been cooked – but using kitchen utensils anyway!)

In one had I had a fish slice, in the other a fly swatter.

You can imagine the rest…………………..

 

 

 

 

 

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My name is Libby and I’m a Fitbit addict…

I have been a massive fan of my Fitbit Charge HR since I got it for my birthday in 2015, I’ve worn it religiously since and so monitored every step, flight of stairs, minute of sleep for many months.

Fitbit

So imagine my devastation when it stopped working last week.  After a particularly energetic boxing session it just stopped counting steps – and no amount of resetting would get it to work, and then the screen died completely.

Now I know Fitbit customer service is brilliant and will send you a replacement (and they subsequently have – thanks Fitbit!) – but that would mean waiting for 5-7 working days, which seemed like an eternity stretching out in front of me (pathetic I know!) and I’d also secretly had my eye on the new Alta – so with Amazon Prime I could have that the next day so I ordered one immediately (how did I ever function without Amazon Prime?!  Even if my mother doesn’t approve of their taxation arrangements, they do make my life much simpler!!)

So the next day – after a seemingly wasted 24 hours (steps without wearing your Fitbit are just so pointless………….) my shiny new Fitbit Alta arrived.

Fitbit Alta

I very excitedly set it up – but couldn’t get the ‘buzzing’ function to work.. I read online that the vibration is a lot more gentle than the Charge HR – but unless the feeling in my arm was going, I was certain it wasn’t working.  I Googled (oh dear, more people my Mum doesn’t approve of tax-wise) possible fixes, but nothing worked.  Therefore I contacted Fitbit and a new Alta was on its way.

Thankfully the initial one still counted steps (phew!) – but I hadn’t realised just how much I relied on the vibration function for alarms / call alerts etc, so it was a real relief when a fully functioning Alta arrived a few days later.

A number of friends have asked me for my views on the Alta (being an oversharer means people always know I have an opinion) so here goes!!

 

FitBit Charge HR

Pros

The Charge HR monitors EVERYTHING – including the one thing that makes it unique amongst the FitBit stable, your heart rate.  This is really interesting (yes, I’ve checked it after many different activities!!) and you can get pretty graphs when you log on to the website.

The Charge HR also counts the flights of stairs you’ve gone up and down (I’m still not sure how it does that – potentially magic?!).  This has made me park on a higher floor in the car park and walk up and down the stairs more regularly at work rather than saving everything I need to take down until the end of the day.

It automatically registers sleep and exercise (I think some of the other FitBits don’t do that – although don’t have any personal experience)

You can set it to buzz for an alarm and when you’re receiving a phonecall.  This worked brilliantly for me as I often don’t end up in my own bed come the morning (annoying children, nothing more exciting!) but I know I will still be woken up.  It also means if you’ve left your phone on silent in your handbag you don’t miss a call (or if you’re in a meeting you can still be alerted without looking rude and having your phone out!!)

Cons

When I bought an HR they only came in black – since then the range has increased so you can have it in 6 different colours.  However, whichever you buy you’re stuck with that colour – you can buy ‘bling’ to brighten it up, but the base colour remains the same.

It is quite a chunky size, and so looks quite cumbersome and not very feminine – particularly if you’re going ‘out out’!  (And you couldn’t not wear it, as then you wouldn’t get all of the steps when you’re dancing / walking home from the pub etc).  The strapmark I have after a week in Scotland getting a tan makes it look HUGE!

It’s not splashproof so you need to be careful when you wear it.  I didn’t wear it for the mud run I did because of this (I’m still a bit bitter about the missed step countage!)

** Edited to add:  I’ve just been shown by a friend that it is splashproof just not fully waterproof – I shall be less careful in future.**

FitBit Alta

Pros

It’s BEAUTIFUL – sleek and stylish and much less ‘functional’ in its looks.  You can also change the bracelet for other options – leather, metal, beautiful designs – meaning it can look more like jewellery.

You can set it to alert you with a gentle buzz as an alarm, when you receive a call or text message (it tells you who it’s from – and with a text also shows you the content) and also if you haven’t done your 250 steps that hour.  Pretty much all the buzzing functionality of the HR and then some.

Again, as the HR, it automatically monitors your sleep and exercise.

The battery seems to last a lot longer than the Charge HR (even though I’ve perfected the ‘charge it in the car to not waste a single step’ routine).

Cons

It doesn’t measure flights of stairs.  I didn’t realise before I bought it and was a bit sad to start with. But this was mainly because it was the one target I managed to hit most days – so I guess, if I already hit the target it doesn’t matter?!

It doesn’t measure heart rate – I don’t think this is the end of the world though, I guess it depends what you want your FitBit for.

Sometimes it doesn’t want to sync with your phone app.  I never had this happen ever with the HR.  However if I turn wifi off and on again it tends to then work – so who knows why!!

 

Overall I am a total FitBit convert / addict.  The customer service has been great with both problems so whilst reliability has been an issue (and even worse for some friends) it has never been a major issue.

I also love the fact that you can connect with friends who also have FitBits and do workweek hustles or weekend warriors to see who’s done the most steps.  One of my workweek hustle groups is lovely – we chat most days, and whilst it is a bit competitive – mostly we’re just competitive with ourselves and hitting our own 10,000 steps per day (even if that means walking around the house / garden as midnight approaches!!)

And it’s definitely got me walking more – 100% – so that’s got to be a good thing?!

My name is Libby and I’m a FitBit addict………………………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Break Point by Lee Stone

Bookshots is a new concept by the author James Patterson.  To quote the Bookshots website “BOOKSHOTS are all-new, original stories that feature a complete, cinematic storytelling experience in 150 pages. Characters include favorites like Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, and the Women’s Murder Club. For readers with busy schedules, BOOKSHOTS is the answer.”

Some of the books are written by Mr Patterson himself, others by authors he’s chosen – and that is where this book comes in – and most excitingly, it’s written by someone I went to school with (well, he was at the boys school next door – but we shared a sixth form block!)

When Lee posted on Facebook about this (he’s been writing for years at random times of the day and night whilst also working for the BBC and having a gorgeous little – very little at the start as she was really prem – daughter with his wife) I immediately pre ordered it from Amazon.  But I’m always nervous reading something written by someone I know – I want to be able to write a glowing review – but what if it’s really cringey?  Or just downright bad? Or, biggest crime to me, full of typos and bad grammar?!

Well – I need not have worried one bit – it was fantastic!

Break Point

This is what the Amazon blurb had to say:

“One point away from winning the French Open, tennis star Kirsten Keller breaks down and flees the court in tears.
Keller has been receiving death threats. Terrified and desperate, she hires former Metropolitan police officer Chris Foster to protect her at Wimbledon.
As the championship progresses, Keller’s tormentor gets ever closer. And the threats become horrifyingly real.”

The book had me intrigued from the start – and I immediately wanted to know more about the characters.  One of my concerns about it being short was that they wouldn’t be fully fleshed out – but they really were.

I was also concerned (honestly, I shouldn’t have read this with all of these ‘concerns’!) that it would have to be predictable because there wouldn’t be time to build the story – but again, I was very wrong!  I smugly thought I’d predicted who the ‘baddy’ was early on – but I was totally and utterly incorrect.

The setting of Wimbledon was very timely given that it’s in a few weeks – and having been to the championship, it was nice to recognise the setting – similarly with some of the London narrative.

It is fast paced and difficult to put down – you could easily read it on a plane flight to Europe this summer in a oner – but I didn’t feel short changed, and that the story should have been longer (which interestingly I do often feel with some longer books!)  I would definitely consider downloading more Bookshots in the future for when you don’t want to wallow in a book for ages.

All in all a fantastic read – and I look forward to reading more of Lee’s books in the future.

Phew – concerns all answered!!

 

The morning after – Wicked Wednesday 15 June 2016

I haven’t linked up with BrummyMummyof2 for Wicked Wednesday in a while – but this photo was a definite.

We’d been to friends to watch the first England game of Euro 2016.   The grown ups drank a lot (Kenny’s cocktails being the major issue) and we all got home at midnight – including the 4 and 5 year olds. #badparents

The next morning it’s safe to say everyone was a bit ‘tired and emotional’ – well, apart from my husband who’d moved to coffee rather than booze mid evening – he was fine (just unbearably smug) – but he made me breakfast in bed, so is excused his smugness.

Anyway – ‘Elsa’ couldn’t find her crown (it had been left at the friends’ house along with all manner of wet clothes following a bouncy castle / rain / washing up liquid incident) so we had a full on meltdown which lead to her falling asleep on the rug in the hall.

Elsa

To be honest I think quite a lot of people who watched England the night before felt similar…….

 

brummymummyof2

Book Review: The Unmumsy Mum

The Unmumsy Mum

“THIS IS NOT A PARENTING MANUAL. THIS IS REAL LIFE.

The Unmumsy Mum writes candidly about motherhood like it really is: the messy, maddening, hilarious reality, how there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and how it is sometimes absolutely fine to not know what you are doing. The lessons she’s learnt while grappling with two small boys – from birth to teething, 3am night feeds to toddler tantrums, soft play to toilet training – will have you roaring with laughter and taking great comfort in the fact that it’s definitely not just you…”

I’m not sure I’m target market for this book – as I’m already 13 years into my Mum ‘journey’ and with my ‘baby’ being 4 and a half – but I really like what The Unmumsy Mum posts on Facebook and her blog, so I downloaded it to my Kindle.

I LOVED this book.  It was laugh out loud funny at times – but also had me weeping today (the chapter where she talks about being a Mum but without her own Mum being around – it was so beautifully written and so moving. It made me think more about my husband not having his Mum around whilst we’re going through our own stab at parenthood as she passed away exactly a year before our eldest was born.).

I think this should be bought for every first time Mum so they can know what parenthood is really all about.  I was lucky that a friend had her first baby about 9 months before me – and we were very similar control freak / career girls until then – and she freely admitted the first 6 weeks were HIDEOUS.  It was such an unusually honest opinion and helped me no end – and having that written down in the public domain in a book is such a great support for people (the only book I read before having my first was Gina Ford #howstupidwasI?!).

Despite having 4 kids, I am most definitely not a mumsy mum – in fact I remember my oldest friend’s Mum being shocked when I had more than 2 kids, as apparently I was the least maternal amongst my sisters!! Therefore I empathise totally with The Unmumsy Mum lots.

The style of writing is great – and honest (and sweary – which is totally me)  Whilst it’s primarily about being the parent to small people it does cover other topics really well.  The ‘why have kids if you’re going to moan about them?’ section was excellently written.  It also  made me think a lot about comparing the sh*t you’re going through with what other people go through.  A friend recently lost her 11 year old son to a brain tumour which was utterly devastating – and hopefully something I never have to experience first hand – but I was at risk of thinking everything in my life was inconsequential compared to that – but some things, for us, are still important – and this helped me realise that, whilst still being there to support my friend and her family.

But don’t for one second think it’s all deep and meaningful!  It is brilliantly funny and, to quote The Unmumsy Mum herself, full of sh*ts and giggles – exactly like parenthood is.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Sunshine and Biscotti Club by Jenny Oliver

The Sunshine and Biscotti Club

First things first, I must confess an interest in this book.  Back last October, at a charity auction, the author Jenny Oliver had donated a ‘money can’t buy’ prize of being a named character in one of her future books.  My wonderful husband bid lots of money for fabulous causes (Brain Tumour Research and Birmingham Children’s Husband) and I was the lucky winner! I had no clue what the book was going to be about, just that Libby Price would be in it – and that it would be out in May 2016.

I then got to read the blurb on Amazon:

“The ovens are pre-heating, the Prosecco is chilling…and The Sunshine and Biscotti Club is nearly ready to open its doors.
But the guests have other things on their minds…
Libby: The Blogger
Life is Instagram-perfect for food blogger Libby…until she catches her husband cheating just weeks before her Italian cooking club’s grand opening.
Evie: The Mum
Eve’s marriage isn’t working, but she’s not dared admit it until now. A trip to Italy to help Libby open The Sunshine and Biscotti Club might be the perfect escape…
Jessica: In Love with her Best Friend
Jessica has thrown herself into her work to shut out the memory of the man who never loved her back. The same man who’s just turned up in Tuscany…
Welcome to Tuscany’s newest baking school – where your biscotti is served with a side of love, laughter and ice-cold limoncello!”

So not only was Libby Price a named character – she was the main character – excitement overload. The blurb also contained one of Libby’s friends being called Evie – which is one of my daughters (interestingly I found out from one of Jenny’s friends that this was a typo in the blurb, and throughout the book Evie is Eve – but then so is my Evie, legally!) However, there was also an unfaithful rotter of a husband – thankfully not called Mark, which might have been a bit distressing!!

I was very excited on publication date to receive some flowers through the post from Jenny Oliver and Carina (the publishers) and a copy of THE BOOK!

I read the first sentence to my husband: “As the church clock struck midnight, Libby Price was attempting to haul a double mattress up a flight of stairs on her own.”
His response – “well, that’s obviously fiction, you’d get staff to do it”.

So off I went to see what this Libby Price was all about!

I was instantly sucked in to her Tuscan world and what she needed to do to get The Sunshine and Biscotti Club up and running in a slightly dilapidated hotel left to Libby by her Aunt.  It also brought about  the intertwining lives of her old friends who all rallied round to help her. The descriptions of Italy were wonderful – you could almost taste the limoncello – and the scenery –  the hotel itself, the surrounding countryside and the blokes – were perfectly described!  Each chapter was told from the point of view of one of the female leads – who all had very different lives now, years on from when they were first mates.  I have to say because my reading isn’t devouring a book in one sitting any more (the joy of 4 kids!) I dip in and out – and sometimes I had to go back and re-read to remind myself who everyone was – particularly the male characters, as there seemed to be lots of them, and I don’t feel I got to know them as well as the female ones.

Whilst the book was a lot about friendships it touched on other topics – particularly the Instagram perfectness that many people portray on social media, which isn’t their real life at all.

At the end of the book you’re fast forwarded a full year.  I have to confess to feeling a bit short changed – I wanted to know what had happened in the intervening period (I don’t like missing out on the goss!) It concluded nicely – but with enough’what’s going to happen next?’ to make you want a sequel – or to want to go on holiday there yourself!

This is a perfect summer read – even more perfect if you’re sipping on limoncello and nibbling on a biscotti in the sunshine whilst reading it!

Definitely far more perfect summer read then reading about this Libby Price’s exploits anyway……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trying not to be a hysterical wife

The husband was working late tonight.  Tomorrow we hand over a huge project, so I completely understand, and was trying really hard not to bother him.

So when the little 2 accidentally turned the hosepipe on the rabbit hutch, I got the big 2 to come and clean the rabbits out (this is not slave labour, but I am horribly allergic to fur, and so can’t do it – and I’m totes sticking to that excuse!).  But I didn’t call him to moan.

Hosepipe

So when the little 2 accidentally turned the hosepipe through the bifold doors on to the family room wooden floor, and I couldn’t get the mop to stay tall, I just used the mop at half height to clear up all the mess.  But I didn’t call him to moan.

But when child number 3 fell over and head butted the kitchen floor and there was blood pouring everywhere, I did phone him (remarkably calmly!).

Thankfully she’s fine now (still insisting on holding a flannel near her face in case her nose starts again, and feeling very sorry for herself) and I’ve just heard his key in the lock.  Phew!

 

 

Coming out

** Set the scene: 2 nights ago, about midnight, I’m sat at my computer as Mark is walking past the door and heading up to bed. **

Mark:  “What are you reading, I thought you said you were logging off your computer?”
Me:  “A really interesting article that Adam has posted about coming out.”
Mark: (incredulously) “Mandy’s Adam is gay??”
Me: “Er no, out of Europe”

Eu flag

Another ridiculous anecdote from life in the Price household………….

Blue playsuit?!?

Blue playsuit

Get in from work, open up the Next delivery that has arrived during the day.

First item – nice tunic top, size 16, sensible length, capped sleeves – perfect for a 40 something mother of 4.

Then the next item – ‘blue playsuit, size 16’.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?!
It’s that internet shopping after too much wine again,
Why on earth would I have thought that I’d look good in a playsuit,
I’m going to have to trog into Redditch to return it or get the slightly creepy delivery man to come and pick it back up…..

Check item tag – it’s the age 16 one I ordered for Daisy as her age had sold out.

Panic over.  The people of Alvechurch are safe and will not need to see me in a playsuit. Phew.