Today I parked at the ‘wrong’ side of a railway bridge, so I could march up the stairs and across it and walk down into the village to go to the Post Office whilst waiting for my daughter’s train home from school.  Part of this was to rack up lots of steps and flights of stairs on my Fitbit.  A great plan.


Until I got half way back and went to check my steps and realised my Fitbit was still plugged into my computer at home being charged.


Times when I would like a drink

As I wrote a few days ago, I have given up booze for 30 days.  This shouldn’t be too onerous – but I keep coming across situations when a nice glass of wine would not go amiss……

  1.  Half term.  Juggling 4 kids and work over half term is fun. The nanny being on holiday for the week is making it even ‘funn-er’.  Doing all of this whilst knowing I won’t be sinking into a large glass bottle of wine each night is just like the funn-est thing ever……………….
  2. My sister visiting.  I have 2 sisters, and the middle one of us has the occasional glass of wine, but isn’t the hardened drinker that the youngest sister and I are.  My little sister (she is 35 before you get the impressions she’s underage!) did ‘dry January’ this year and reckons it was one of the toughest things she’s ever done – and made her think about booze ALL OF THE TIME.  She came to visit on Saturday, and normally we’d share a bottle of prosecco or two – but this time I wasn’t drinking!! My brother in law tried to get me to drink ‘Go on, have a drink, we won’t tell anyone’ and ‘Have a drink now and just add on an extra day at the end’ – but I held strong – just look at me with my mug of  tea whilst the BIL is on the beer!!Mug of tea
  3. Christmas cake making.  In fact, anything Christmas related. The reason the aforementioned sister was visiting is that we make Christmas cakes with all of the kids each year. I am renowned for my lack of Christmas spirit – which I offset with spirits during the cake baking process – but not this year.
  4. 4 year old’s birthday party. I was attending this party as a punter – and it almost drove me to gin.  I have realised that my own youngest daughter’s 4th birthday party – to be held at the same soft play centre – is going to be within my 30 abstemious days.  Oh dear………….
  5. Parties in general.  I spent Sunday afternoon at a party where all of my friends were drinking beer / wine / prosecco / gin – and it was very hard to resist!  But seeing as the guest of honour at the party was Finlay – whose fundraising I am supporting with my attempt – I couldn’t really fall off the wagon!

I fear I am not cut out for a tee total life of sobriety forever.  Still time to sponsor this effort if you so wish?! My mother told my yesterday that if I actually manage this (nice faith in me there parentals!)  they will make a sizeable donation!!

Just the 20 days to go………………

No Vino November

Social media appears to be full of people giving up booze and Going Sober for October, or giving up fags with Stop-tober (imagine people doing both – bet they’re fun to be around!!)

Nicotine is not one of my vices, but alcohol is.

Profile pic

Had a good day?  Celebrate with a glass of fizz.
Had a bad day?  Commiserate with a G&T.
Bad period paid?  Self medicate with a chilled sauv blanc.
A freakishly sunny day in the UK? Pour an ice cold lager.
Etc etc!

I will sometimes decide to ‘be good’ and give up booze, but within a matter of days (usually 5 if I started on a Monday) giving up booze has become ‘giving up drinking in the week’.
Then the next week, well, we don’t have childcare until Tuesday, so that’s really when my week starts, so I can still have a glass of wine on Monday night, right?
Then – well, Thursday is allegedly the new Friday – so that makes the weekend 5 days.
So I’m managing 2 booze free days per week.

**go Libby**  #ironicfont

Now I’ve been pretty abstemious each time I’ve been pregnant and that’s been 3 years of my adult life – without also counting the time I was breast feeding and so was also reasonably reduced in my booze consumption. No spirits, and with the boy no champagne as it gave him bad wind. It also did if I drank orange juice – so guessing if I’d had a Bucks Fizz he may have exploded?!

But since then (and the baby will be 4 in a couple of weeks) – I’ve never quite found the willpower.

I had decided I couldn’t go sober for October as the husband and I were going away for 3 childfree days – and that means booze too – especially when it’s free in the lounge, on the flight and at happy hour at the hotel!  (Clearly it’s not free, it’s included within the prices of the plane tickets and hotel room, but they are sunk costs – so Libby logic says it’s free!!)  The first 2 days were a fabulous combination of sunshine, quality time with the husband, sleeping and booze!  But then the last night there I could not sleep at all.  I put it down to the espresso martini I’d guzzled (I don’t usually do caffeine – so it was somewhat foolish to drink one at 9pm!)  The next day I had a horrid headache – and it got worse as the day went on.  I tried to push through with wine in the afternoon – but wasn’t feeling it.  Then I tried again with a G&T at happy hour – but still I didn’t really feel like drinking.  By the time we got to the airport I was sweating ridiculously and white as a sheet – not quite how I expected to be after a chilled few days in the sun!  The husband knew it was serious when I turned down champagne when we got on the plane and asked for orange juice instead.

Once we got home I pretty much took to my bed for 3 days – which, like refusing free fizz, is unheard of!  So – I’ve not had any booze since Friday 16th October.

I was planning ‘No Vino November’ – but seeing as I’ve had a kickstart, then it’s starting now!  This does mean next week’s dreaded combo of ‘no childcare and half term’ will have to be survived ‘sans gin’ – but I want to prove to myself that I can do a month without any alcohol.

Now I can imagine this causing much mirth and amusement amongst my friends (and potentially a profits warning for both the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Italian prossecco producers, as well as gin and tonic suppliers nationwide) so I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and do this for a good cause.  Hopefully that way my ‘friends’ won’t try and tempt me from my path of tee total-ness!

So – I will accept this mission on behalf of my liver, waist line, occasionally fuzzy headedness in the morning – and one of our lovely friend Finlay’s charities – Brain Tumour Research.  In fact – if I donated what I would spend on booze in the 30 days, we could come close to matching the Angels Without Wings Ball fundraising total (it was £55k – so maybe not quite!)

If you would like to make a donation then Fin’s Just Giving page is here – it would mean a lot to me, Fin and the Church family – and hopefully inspire me to stay on the straight and narrow (until mid November at least!)

Cheers!  (With a raised mug of hot water, honey, lemon and ginger)


A lesson in spray tanning!

Now I do love a bit of a spray tan –  the weird smell, the paper pants, the shower cap –  all add to the experience – but the finished result is worth it!  (And thankfully my spray tanners have always been loads better than Ross’s in the legendary Friends episode!!)


Long gone are my days of lying on a sunlounger attempting to turn brown on holiday (I do red or freckly – but not brown) both due to the fact that everyone now knows it’s not good for you – oh, and I have 4 kids who don’t particularly let their parents just bask in the sunshine!!

But I do feel happier and marginally more body confident with a healthy glow – whether it’s for a big night out – or at the start of a foreign trip where I know I’m gong to have body parts exposed that don’t usually see the light of day in Worcestershire!!

This evening I am part way through the process.  I was sprayed a few hours ago, but won’t shower it off until the morning to ensure maximum development.  However, I had to go and pick my son up from Scouts.  I flung on a huge wrap (to disguise the fact that my non-bra wearing bosoms were somewhat lower than usual!) but this did not disguise my face!

A Dad at pick up commented ‘have you been away?’ – to which I replied that I’d had a spray tan as we’re going away tomorrow.  He was incredulous as to why someone would need to do this – so I then had to explain the benefits of a spray tan.  I wonder what he’ll go home and say to his wife (who is beautiful and wouldn’t need a spray tan to look better in swimwear!)  Still – at least he’s had a bit of an education – even if it is somewhat TOWIE based……

Next week I can fill him in on vajazzles……………**NOT REALLY**

Guest Blog: It’s all about me

Yesterday I blogged about my boobs, and it made me think about this excellent blog post by my friend – who is currently recovering in hospital from an op – and has far more important things to say about boobs than me.  She writes so eloquently, I wanted to share it with you all – so here goes.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

It’s all about me!

Most, if not all of you, will remember the “No Make-Up Selfie” craze that swept social media last year. I duly took part on my personal FB page. I remember loving the unity between women as they complimented each other, understanding that a photo without make-up was a hard thing for many to do. There was sense of unity & it was lovely to see women supporting other women, not to mention the fantastic comments from lots of men. I also remember being surprised by the criticism about the craze. Cancer charities saw a rise in donations & it definitely raised awareness, which can only be good in my book!

It raised my awareness & prompted me to check myself as I’d not done so for a while. I then wished I hadn’t, which was a stupid thing to think but better than the thoughts that raced through my head when I found a lump. I went to see my GP who talked about breast mice & dismissed any concerns around cancer or simple links to hormones & the migraines I’d experienced.  The GP went through the tick list for identifying cancer from a lump & mine didn’t tick any of the boxes. I did what all internet savvy peeps do & googled breast mice as soon as I got home. Everything the GP had said tied in with what I read. I still felt a sense of disatisfaction with the GP’s approach, but I breathed a sigh of relief & carried on as normal.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. The lump seemed to be more uncomfortable on an increasingly regular basis. I was still convinced it was linked to hormones, although the migraines have become less frequent. It was really disconcerting to have a lump in my breast that I seemed to be increasingly aware of. I went back to the GP. The infamous breast mice were discussed ago. The difference was, this practitioner decided to take a “peace of mind” approach & referred me for tests.

6 weeks, 2 mammograms, 2 ultra sounds, 3 fine needle biopsies & a mammotome later I have a diagnosis of DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), described as pre-cancer cells, in the lump & another area. The spread of these cells means I am having a mastectomy & reconstruction in September. The after treatment will be decided after the removed breast tissue has been tested.

So, I have met my surgeon & have avoided the temptation to request 2 new Double D numbers! I know what to expect in September. As long as I have a plan I am fine. I will be busily preparing endless lists & filling in calendars in preparation for the family members who will be stepping in to cover my Mommy duties. My “Northern Bird” sister in law is intending to come round to devise a spreadsheet. The title of this blog entry stems from the numerous conversations we’ve had since all this started. She gets I don’t want a fuss but is concerned for me at the same time. She expresses this through taking the pee out of me!! Her approach is perfect!

Obviously a mastectomy is a big thing to have, it took me a while to learn how to spell it properly. It’s a big thing to have, both psychologically & physically. However, I am grateful it has been diagnosed now rather than further down the line when it could have been a lot more than pre-cancer cells. I only have a tiny idea of how someone would feel if being given a  true diagnosis of cancer. Whilst this is still a possibility, it should only be a small one. What will be will be.

The reason I am writing this is a) to save myself needing to send numerous texts to let people know or ruin completely pleasant conversations and b) to raise awareness. It was the someone starting a trend to raise awareness that has brought me on this path. I also want to say to people not to be afraid to question the professionals. I questioned mine, but I should have done it a lot sooner.  If I had not gone back to the doctors for a further explanation……well you can imagine the what ifs & maybes. I want my story to be a reminder to others both male & female to check all your lumps! If you have something suspicious, make sure you are thoroughly checked & examined. It’s better to make a nuisance of yourself & be safe, rather than sorry.

In the meantime, I have a good few weeks to fit in work, holiday & fun with my boys. After the op I will have plenty of recovery time.  I will need to ensure I relax, which isn’t my strongest assett. Guess what I’ll be doing, other than hospital trips, sleeping etc, to fill my time……

………………………….CRAFTING!! Yay!

So, nothing more to see here. What are you waiting for? Off you go…go check yourself right now!!

Think about nothing…….

So today was the day I got to be a geeky guinea pig!

I arrived bright and early at the University research area ready for my exciting day. Initially that was blood pressure readings, blood samples, height, weight and body fat analysis (yep – that wasn’t the best reading, but I hoped my stats would improve as the day went on!)

Then I had to complete a questionnaire about how I felt / feel about certain things – pretty bog standard questions that you might get in a survey in Cosmopolitan magazine – although there were less (although not none!) about sex, and some were a bit weirder.  The weirdest being ‘for each of your children (and there was enough space for 4 kids, which is quite rare!) do you get on with them worse than average, average or better than average?!  Totally unsure how you benchmark such a thing against other people?!?

Then started the memory and IQ tests.  This was like some weird Krypton Factor (or The Cube if you’re under 40) / Tap the Frog / 11+ exam hybrid.  Lots involved shapes and sequences and patterns which, in places, I found REALLY HARD – but I think I made up for it by bossing the numbers and words.  Although in places that was really tricky too.  There was a list of about 20 different word pairs – some related to each other, and some not.  The researcher read them all out to me – and then went back and asked me to name the second word for each first word.  I was RUBBISH.  I couldn’t believe I was so rubbish to be honest!  But we had to repeat the thing – with the same words – four times.  Third time I got one wrong, and fourth time I got a full house – BOOM!  Lots of the tests were talking to the researcher, some were written, some involved cubes (my eldest’s pet hate when doing her non verbal reasoning for the 11+) and then some was on an electronic tablet.

This was the particular bit that felt like Tap the Frog – just without any frogs!  It was incredibly intense and lots of the tests were clearly designed to scramble your brain (I described it as a headf*ck to the researcher – and she neither confirmed nor denied that that was the technical term!!!)

After that – and a quick sandwich lunch – we were over to the old hospital campus next door for an MRI.  Whilst I’d had one of these on my knee before, I’d never actually been totally inside the tube – and people told me it was VERY claustrophobic and noisy.  I had to remove anything metal (apart from my underwired bra – apparently those are fine!), lay down on the bench, put in ear plugs and on headphones and was slowly wheeled into the tube.  I’d been warned to bring my own music as the music the university have isn’t the best – so 80s love songs it was! There were then about 6 different MRIs.  These all had slightly different noises – there was one like the photocopier was persistently jammed, one that sounded as if you were in the spin cycle of a tumble drier, one that sounded like someone was using a pneumatic drill to get into the machine, and other banging noises.  However, I still managed to fall asleep!!  After each 5 or 10 minute MRI the lady doing the scans would talk to me / wake me up.  For most of them I was allowed to close my eyes – but for one of them I was told I had to keep my eyes open and think about nothing!!

Of course, when you’re told to think about nothing you brain, which is used to juggling kids / home / work / organising charity events / planning a Florida trip for 12, immediately starts thinking of stuff.

So I tried to imagine nothing…….

  • An empty room – what colour is it?  Why is it empty?  Are there any windows?
  • An open field – what’s over the horizon?  What crop is growing?  Are there any cows?
  • A blue sky – are those clouds? Ooh, it’s like the Philadelphia advert!

Right Libby – visualising ‘nothing’ isn’t helping you think of nothing, so just focus on the inside of the MRI scanner……

  • Hmm, what’s the scuff mark?
  • Did someone with a big head scrape it on the side?
  • And why does that look like there was tape on there before that’s been pulled off and left a residue?
  • Why would you hold an MRI scanner together with tape?

Right Libby – focusing on the inside of the scanner isn’t working.  Blur your vision and don’t think of anything.

  • Hmm – why don’t I do some pelvic floor excercises rather than waste time?
  • Wonder if that will show in brain movement?

So all in all – I’m not very good at thinking about nothing!!!

It’s been a great day – I’m exhausted but really enjoyed it (I am such a geek!)  I don’t know my results (which is tricky for a control freak) but hopefully should get some feedback in the Autumn.

And if anyone in the Birmingham area would like to take part – they’re still looking for volunteers!!

Geeky guinea pig!

I have to confess to being a bit* of a geek.  In fact when we were doing The Big Hoot last weekend, the kids were asked if they were taking such interest in all of the names etc because they were doing a school project – and I had to confess it was just me who was really into it!!

Recently one of the Mums in the village – who is a doctor – mentioned she was doing some research into the Neural Effects of Steroid Hormones.  This triggered an interest – mainly because a friend’s son is being treated with steroids, amongst other things, for a brain tumour, so it was kind of on my radar.  This particular study, though, is for people with a specific genetic disorder of the adrenal gland – but they need some healthy adults with which to compare results – and that’s where I come in!

I offered to be one of the guinea pigs.  I was given lots of literature and counter indications to consider, but I still was eligible.

So – next week – I will be heading off to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for 4 hours of IQ tests, 1 hour of psychological questionnaires and an hour having my brain MRI-ed (don’t think that’s really a verb – but you know what I mean).  I am a bit nervous – but more excited in a geeky kind of way!

People have asked if I’m worried about feeling claustrophobic in a MRI machine for an hour – and I’m sure it will be a weird experience – but hey, I know an amazing boy who has to be in there for double that time, so I’m sure I can channel just a little bit of him and get through it.

Obviously I will overshare about how it all goes………..

* Actually a lot, possibly one of the biggest geeks ever?!

Putting your back into it!

A few weeks ago I skimmed over the fact that pilates had sorted my bad back out – but thought I should probably elucidate!

I have suffered with a dodgy lower back for pretty much all of my adult life. It’s flared up at random times – sometimes with something specific (pregnancy) but at other times seemingly random (getting out of bed!). I relied on seeing a chiropractor as and when it flared up but thought I’d just have to live with it as both of my parents had suffered periodically with bad backs so I assumed it was just the way I was built.

When I was moaning about it on Facebook one time (I do like to overshare!) a fellow local Mum suggested I should try pilates with her.

Now, I had (misplaced!) ideas about what pilates involved. To me it was what ladies did at David Lloyd (other gym chains too I’m sure!) who didn’t want to get too sweaty or mess their hair up. You know, the same ladies who swim breaststroke with their heads out of the water so they can chat as they dawdle up and down the pool?! I thought if you didn’t get ridiculously hot and sweaty you couldn’t possibly be working hard! I also thought it was just done on a mat in a big studio – and was nervous of looking like a tit in front of all of these lithe, toned yummy mummies (perhaps I should have realised that they must do something to look like that and so maybe it did work?!)

Anyway – I agreed to have a 1 to 1 session with Steff at the studio that she works from.

When I arrived I thought I’d stepped into Christian Grey’s red room (or what I imagined it be like having never read the 50 shades books!) The equipment looked ‘interesting’!!!

Pilates - Cadillac 2

Steff talked through my back issues – and then we did lots of little things for her to look at my posture, flexibility, strength etc.  I have to say that the first time I did come away feeling like I hadn’t done much – but thought I’d try a proper session the next time – and I was soon hooked!

Because I was rubbish at lying down (cue rude comments!) we did a lot of work initially on the Core Align so I could be upright.

Pilates - Core Align

It really made me think about how I hold myself and how I walk (who knew your bum was supposed to assist in walking – my legs were doing all of the work – which could explain why my bum is so wobbly?!)  It really was back to basics with all of my core and pelvic stability (especially after 4 kids, and 4 natural births of enormous children!)

We progressed onto other equipment soon (although these aren’t me – they are photos of the Balanced Body equipment that we use!)

Pilates - reformer Pilates - ladder barrel Pilates - Cadillac

I’ve also realised that pilates is about my whole body – not just my dodgy lower back.  Sometimes my feet / neck / upper back aren’t feeling great and we’ll address those in a session rather than just the ‘normal’ work.

My husband has also got involved – and we even ended up buying a cadillac (the bottom of the pictures above) for at home.  Although he does admit to a penchant for the ‘fluffy bunnies’ that your feet have to go into – and might be being a bit more ’50 shades’ about the whole thing than me!!!!

I’ve also become aware of the equipment being used by other people – the Beckhams have a cadillac, I’ve seen pictures of Andy Murray on one – and have read in magazines about ‘slebs going to their ‘reformer pilates class’!!

Pilates really has totally changed my back issues, posture, the way I walk – and the understanding I have of how my body works and fits together.  I hide this well under excess upholstery – but it has helped no end.

Now we’ve got the underlying issues sorted we are getting more hardcore – and maybe I will end up suspended upside down one day!

Life begins at ……… 41

I posted a few weeks ago about how I wanted to address my fitness and associated weight – and this was a bit of a theme for my birthday this week – along with other fabulous presents – chocolates / candles / flowers / jewellery / perfume / clothes / vouchers / smellies / GIN & TONIC LIPBALM!

Birthday 3

I had asked for some specific things to assist my mission:

Birthday 1

The Fitbit and sports bra were at my request – but I also got some body analysing scales (frightening!)

So not only will the Fitbit record my exercise and steps – it will also record my sleep. I see this as a useful tool in the ‘I was up so much with the kids last night’ discussions we often have! Perhaps all new parents should be issued with a pair of Fitbits to ensure there is evidence to back this up the next morning #newmarketingangle

Birthday 2

I’d read about Ella of Deliciously fame in Red magazine and thought the book looked great – then a friend made some of the fudge for me and it was AMAZING – so this was also on my birthday list.  It’s basically plant-based, gluten and dairy free cooking – but not dull, bland, ‘diet’ food – this is real, tasty food that is also good for your body.  Win / win!

What a lucky girl I am.  All of this has really got me motivated again.

I set up the Fitbit and scales last night – whilst drinking champagne and eating chocolate – now that’s ironic Alanis!!

So onwards we go – 2,000 steps just doing my normal morning routine with the kids before 9am #boom

Health and Fitness – The Photo Gallery week 219

I have blogged before that I haven’t represented my country at sport – but even that could overstate my love of things sporty.  At school my best friend was off being BRILLIANT at hockey / tennis / skiing – in fact, anything vaguely sporty that she turned her hand to – whilst I was really good at quadratic equations and playing the flute.

Since my Uni years I’ve worried about my weight (although looking back at photos of then – WHY??) and have been anything from a size 8 up to a size 18 and everything in between, with 4 pregnancies thrown in too.

After my second child I discovered ‘The Idiot Proof Diet’ (basically low carb-ing) and was really successful with it – hey, I even appeared on the ‘before and after‘ page of the associated website. To be honest, right at this moment I’d take the ‘before’!


But children 3 and 4 and associated 5 stone (yep – count ’em!) weight gain means I’m up near the top end of the last 20 years weight-wise.

I’ve always adopted the Meghan Trainor approach to size:

“Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places
I see the magazines working that Photoshop
We know that sh*t ain’t real
Come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that’s what’s you’re into
Then go ahead and move along”

But – it’s not ‘all about the weight’ (do you like what I did there?!) – it is about my health and fitness.  We’re just back from an amazing family holiday at Bluestone in Wales – where we did loads of brilliant activities – but they nearly broke me.  I am black and blue from clinging onto a cargo net for dear life – partly fear of heights, partly fear of being pretty damn close to the weight limit for the equipment.  In one way (the shallow way) it’s the fact that I don’t like the size of myself in the photos I can see from our trip – but more importantly, I have 4 fabulous kids who I want to be able to be ‘Woodland Warriors’ with in years to come, without nearly passing out having walked up some steps through a forest.

And maybe if I write it down here, I have to stick to it?

I am really lucky in that as my own boss I can factor exercise into my daily life – I do pilates once a week (which in 2 years has sorted my dodgy back out amazingly) and I have PT sessions twice a week, so the exercise side of my fitness should be covered.  However, I’ve been told that 80% of health / fitness / weight loss is what I put into my mouth – and I am the only one who can take responsibility for that. So that means healthier food, limited booze and really grasping the nettle (perhaps to make some nice tea?!?)

This was supposed to be a photography feature – as usual with The Gallery – but has turned into a bit of a heart to heart with you all – sorry!

Dumpy and determined
Dumpy and determined
Ready for yoga
Ready for yoga

Do go and see how others have interpreted ‘Health and Fitness’ – hopefully with much better photography than me!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery