Wednesday, 25 June 2014

And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

My children, like most other girls under 10, are completely obsessed with this woman and her song.  Hattie likes to roll around the swimming pool singing the chorus over and over again.  She really wants to be Elsa when she grows up, and is looking forward to building her own ice palace and letting all of us go just as soon as she can.  My baby is growing up, and while she sometimes clings on to her babyhood - baby voice, refusing to have adult cutlery or china plates, she's got one eye on the horizon, keen to get a move on with it all.  It makes me a bit sad to think about too much, so I don't.

What I focus on is the whole "fuck it all" selfish liberation aspect of the song.  Let it go, the cold doesn't bother me, I don't care what they're going to say, I never asked to be born, just put up with it.  It's a gateway song to other adolescent shouting songs, and it says volumes about my musical taste that I genuinely love this song, and encourage the girls to sing it whenever they want.  I even love the sexy make-over Elsa gives herself; why not wear practically nothing in the middle of coldest winter in history, I am the SNOW QUEEN.  It's no different to the ripping up of the uniform and writing on school shirts that we did at school - you made me wear this, I'm going to do this to it.  In short, it's very adolescent.

I'm not so keen on the selfishness; after all, Elsa might not mind being cold, but the rest of the kingdom did, and her rejection of the good girl she was expected to be was also a rejection of her sister who only ever wanted to love her and be loved in return.  We talk a lot about the film, analysing it in a very amateurish way; it's Lucy's first introduction to critical thinking, and the film is so different to other Disney princess films, so it provides good contrast.  Lucy is impressed that the girls rescue themselves, and she's starting to understand the message of the film, which is, as I read it, learn to love yourself as you are.

Cleverer people than I have written about the song and the film here and here, and this is a genuinely interesting musicologist's view of the song, which is worth 10 minutes of your time.

In the meantime, plait your hair, slip on your turquoise nightie and belt out the song at the top of your voice.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Trying to get away, into the night, then you put your arms around me and we tumble to the ground and then you say

Yesterday I ran just as fast as I could, which isn't that fast really, but I kept on doing it until I couldn't anymore, and it turned out that I ran for 4.5 km.  Which is only half a kilometre off my personal best.  It took rather a long time, but I don't care so much about that, it's still 4.5 km.

Earlier in the day, I ate cake, and read this rather silly article on the "My Fitness Pal" website.  Written by someone very fit, who has been running for a long time, and entitled "How to Learn to Like Running".  If you have been doing it for a long time, and you still don't like it, you must be some kind of idiot at best and some sort of sado-masochist at worst.

Anyway, I feel that with my new attitude towards exercise and the great outdoors, I could write something much better than that, and something less contradictory; point 4 - love your alone time, point 5 - run with a friend - proof reader to aisle 6.

How to Learn to Like Running, by a seriously unfit beginner

1. Get an app.  Seriously.  Download the Couch to 5 K programme.  Look at it.  Read through all the weeks, and properly scare yourself.  Close the app, and leave it for a few months.  There's lots of time.

2. Have a very minor health scare.  I'm pre-pre-diabetic.  I'm a bit overweight, and my waist measurement has just dropped from "high risk of heart disease and diabetes" to "risk of heart disease and diabetes"; when I was pregnant with Hat, I had gestational diabetes; last year, I was told that I had lots of plaque on my teeth, which is another weird little pre-diabetes thing; my grandmother has diabetes, my dad is pre-diabetic, I don't want either.  So either stop eating things I like or do exercise.

3. Sign up for a race before you are ready.  Once you start the programme and have done about a week, sign up for a 5k.  Don't do it the next weekend, that's just silly, but do it before you get to the end of the programme, ideally once it tells you that you are capable of running for 25 minutes without stopping.  Or collapsing.

4. Run on your own.  Race with a friend.  Particularly a supportive friend who sees you as a project.  My running friend runs marathons and can do 5km in about three minutes, so she was definitely there for the lunch afterwards.

5. Find your power tracks.  I like Cheated Hearts by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fuck You by Cee Lo Green, Closer by Tegan and Sara, and Like Eating Glass by Bloc Party.  It should be clear that I have a magpie approach to music.  And poor to little taste.

6. Walk sometimes. You are still running faster than the person sitting on the sofa, playing computer games.  It's not a race against anyone else, it's you pushing yourself to do something.

7. Get another app that tracks your distance and time.  Although it can be dispiriting to hear "Time 20 minutes; distance 2.08km; time per kilometre 10.04 minutes".  Shouting FUCK OFF at the top off your voice can help at these points.  NB.  Do not do this when there are people around, unless you don't mind being looked strangely.

8. Buy expensive trainers and work out how much they are costing you per run.  Mine are now only £11 per run.  Buy cheap running clothes.

9. If you don't feel like doing it, don't do it.  It's not compulsory.

10. If you do like it, don't stop.  From looking at the photos of friends of mine who run, I don't think it ever gets easy, but it does get more enjoyable.  I'm actually starting to like it now, and I'm starting to call myself a runner.  Only in my head, but that's where it counts the most. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Camping without beer is just sitting in the woods

Despite this, or perhaps because of this, we went camping this weekend. We didn't go far, just along the M40 to near Henley, to a lovely site near the Icknield Way.  It was basically a field, with a loo block and a couple of showers, and somewhere to wash up, and that was all we needed.  I didn't take many photos because my phone died and the camera died, but I did managed to take a few of the red kites bombing our campsite. Someone was feeding them, which gave us an amazing view, but probably isn't the best thing for the kites.

I did take a few of them dive bombing, but they are appalling.  You can see the colour of sky too.  So gorgeous.  Of course, it was Solstice, so it stayed properly light until about 10, then it slowly got dark until about a quarter to 4, when it was light again.  Fantastic for insomniacs, less so for parents.  Fortunately the girls slept through the dawn, and didn't rise to salute it until about 7.  Simon woke up, and I was only sleeping fairly lightly, so we were all a little bit tired yesterday.  

The other wildlife we saw were 10 ducklings and their mum, some pigeons, a load of rabbits, two ponies and a moth.  We were hoping to see either a hedgehog or a bat, but it wasn't dark enough early enough for any of us, even though we went for a stroll along the Icknield Way for about ten minutes.  The girls are not great walkers.  Yet.

We completely inadvertently were taken part in the RSPB and Project Wild Thing's Big Wild Sleep Out.  I only found out about it via Twitter, and we weren't doing it officially.  Still, it was great fun, and I'll send the RSPB a tenner too. Next year, we'll do it properly.

Anyway, the camping was great fun, even though I forgot to bring my jumper.  I wasn't cold in bed, my Mock Crocs and thick socks made me look like a recently escaped inmate from an open prison for the terminally confused, and despite the wee-d in sleeping bag (not mine) dyeing the washing a funny shade of yellow, a good time was had by all.  Our next camping trip next month, and we're heading to the Isle of Wight.  I'm genuinely looking forward to it.  I've even made a "camping" tag.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Whoever said orange is the new pink is seriously deluded

Hnnngh.  A couple of weeks of the 52 project.

Week 24:

Hattie's first ballet lesson.  She is a natural.  Do not think of this:

Lucy part way through another mammoth bike ride.  We cycled from West Ealing to Syon Park and back again.  That is 15 kilometres.  She did very well.  

Week 25:

Hattie at the Henley adventure playground. Faster mummy, make it spin more.  She wasn't sick, despite the enormous ice cream immediately before this.

Lucy learning to row.  Surprisingly, she wasn't very good at it.  I had to crop this photo, after my friends on Facebook pointed out the unflattering angle of Simon's legs.  The world is not yet ready for that picture.

Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2014.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

I like on the table, when we're speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine.

There is just so much to do.  Reports.  Assessments.  Justifying the assessments.  Preparing for my performance management.  Reading for my NASENCO course next year.  Writing IEPs for some of my children.  Reviewing IEPs for other children.  Making a file to justify why I should be paid more.  The list goes on and on and on, until I can't be doing with it anymore and have spent tonight drinking pink wine spritzers and dancing around the kitchen.  Then I ran out of fizzy water and just drank pink wine and danced until I fell over. It's taken me 20 minutes to type this paragraph.  Whoops.

Alan Bennett says that private education is basically not fair, and if you don't realise that at the end of your education, it's been a waste of education.  I might expand on that at some point, but I broadly agree.  He said a lot more than that, and you can read about it here in the Guardian.

What else?  More running.  More abs challenges.  I'm managing to follow the prescriptive programme although I've been doing crunches and oblique crunches, owing to not being able to do a sit up properly.  Simon sat on my feet tonight, and it turns out that I can do them, so I will incorporating them into my routine tomorrow.  110 crunches is a lot of crunches.  I've still got to sign up for that 5k race next month; it's in Richmond Park, so will have hills.  I don't like hills, but I managed one the other day, so it should be ok.  I hope.

Oh golly.  No sewing for weeks, some light knitting on the very fabulous MYRNA cardigan, more soon.

I have to go and lie down now.  Friends don't let friends blog after a few glasses of wine, but husbands do.  The stinkers.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Dress every day like you're going to get murdered in those clothes.

I decided to do another internet sewing challenge, this time an Outfit-a-long, where you make a dress and a cardigan, specifically to wear together.  I didn't want to buy yet another pattern that would live in the cupboard, never to be used again, so I used the Anna dress from By Hand London.  What a lovely clear pattern, with super instructions, and the dress is looking great. I didn't have enough fabric to make a maxi dress with a massive thigh high split, plus I'm not sure that would look very good on me.

It helps that the fabric is absolutely adorable, and carries a lot of the dodgy sewing and wonky seams.  I tried French seams on the shoulders, which was great, but I'm going to pink the seams on the skirt.  The skirt is made up of about 7 panels, so it swishes round beautifully when I twirl.  It's not quite finished, it needs a zip, a hem and a good press.

I'm just finishing off a sock for Simon, but after that I'm going to start the cardigan.  The designer is new to me, but her Miette cardigan is a favourite of sewing bloggers, possibly because they aren't knitters, possibly because they all seem to be about 7 with tiny little figures that suit cropped vintage styles.  I don't fancy the Miette, but the Myrna looks very nice, and I'm looking forward to knitting it.  Mine is going to be light blue, not a colour I often choose, but it matches my gorgeous little raccoons very well.

Are you interested in making matching things?  The fun I had during "me-made-May" (still can't say it) has highlighted a lot of gaps in the wardrobe, so I'm happily filling them with lots of lovely handmades; I'm aiming to knit a version of one of my absolute favourites in the next few months. watch this space.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Wait, you want to make the cheerleading squad to prove to a girl that you are not a loser?

It's been a few weeks....

It's not that I haven't been taking thousands of photographs, it's more that I've run out of the energy to put them up on the blog.  I dare say you are all devastated.

The last few weeks have been a blur of ice cream, half term, face-painting, new hair cuts, bowling, Norwich, lost teeth, swings and rainy days.

Weeks 21, 22 and 23.  Collage courtesy of picmonkey - I love that site so much.

Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2014.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

A 12 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile.

Or why I don't care that it took me 40 minutes to run 5 kilometres.

I did it; it wasn't easy at all.  For a start, it was pissing with rain when I was getting ready, which really wasn't any fun at all, and my feet were still wet when we got home.  Then, when it finally stopped, it was really muggy and close.  Then I'd forgotten about my totally irrational fear and hatred of large groups of people all doing the same thing; turning the corner at 3 kilometres to come back meant that I was running into big groups of people bearing down on me, which was really, really horrible.  I turned the music up, did lots of staring at flowers, but had to walk for a minute or two, which was a bit disappointing, but actually I'm really glad I didn't just burst into tears and refuse to continue.  I've had panic attacks before, so I knew what was happening, and actually there must have been a massive surge in my adrenaline just as I was starting feel like hyperventilating because I was able to keep going, and actually went faster at one point.
I'm really pleased with my run.  I'm really pleased that I've gone from being able to run for about a minute, a minute and a half, to running almost continuously for 40 minutes.  My friend who runs marathons has suggested doing another 5k later in the summer, and I've said yes.  I can't quite believe it, but I'm going to do this again this year.  One of my other friends who loves to run has said that it gets fun when you can run 10 miles, so I am aiming for that.  If it turns out that he is lying, I will be on the plane to foreign parts to punch him on the nose.   

Anyway, if you have a few quid going spare, do please sponsor me. It's a very good cause after all.

Monday, 2 June 2014

‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

It's on Saturday.  5km.  Running.  I know that I'm not going to be able to run the whole thing, but I should be able to run and walk it in a reasonable time; right now I can run for 25 minutes without stopping, and that's about 3 and a bit km, so we'll see.

I really have to run more; I've spent so much money on these, admittedly extremely comfortable, trainers, so I need to do as much as possible in order to bring down the cost per run to something approaching £3, rather than more than £30.  *coff*

In other fitness news, I'm doing a 30 Days Abs Challenge, along with 2.6 million other people on Facebook.  I've done 2 days.  It wasn't too bad; obviously all this excess stuff I'm carrying around my hips isn't actually stopping my muscles from working.  It has only been 2 days, so we'll see how it goes after day 11 with its 65 crunches.  I lose count after about 20, so I'll probably just keep on going until I pass out.  At least it's easier than the dreaded Shred, which is my project for July.  Or August.  Or September. 

I don't really know what's got into me - all I seem to want to do is run, do sit ups and go to work; I've not been knitting that much, I've barely been cooking and even my sewing machine is on hold.  I've got a whole load of pictures from May to chat about, plus I need to catch up with the 52 project.  I had such a nice compliment from someone who reads my blog and likes my happy, messy, silly children; I think I should dig out the photos from the last few weeks and put them up.  

More news as it comes along.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Lemon, lesbian Frankenstein wants her shoes back.

Or what I wore during Me-Made-May 2014, days 18 to 31.  Warning.  There are a lot of photos.

Day 18: My mum's vintage skirt, upcycled - ie I put a zip in the side and sewed a side seam and a button on a wraparound.  

Day 19: Butterfly zippy top, by See Kate Sew.  It's a bit big, but I love it anyway.

Day 20: Upcycled skirt and knitted cotton cardigan from when I first started knitting.  

Day 21: Same cardigan, same top.

Day 22: Stripy Coco with no funnel neck, M&S jeggings.

Day 23: Twitter dress with one of the first cardigans I made.  Cosy for May.

Day 24: Fleecy Coco, jeans.  I think I might have been for a run, hence the mad lady hair.

Day 25: Butterflies again.  Love it.  It's so comfortable to wear.

Day 26: Spotty Coco - photo taken in the bathroom just before bed.  Class.

Day 27: Gorgeous warm woolly jumper, perfect for May.  Pattern is Idlewood, if you're interested.  

Day 29: Butterfly top.  Photo taken by Lucy at an unflattering angle.  Thank you Lucy.

I ran out of energy/oomph/interest in taking pictures, although I did wear handmade clothes every day in May.  Hurrah.  My wardrobe basically needs everything - from nice tops to skirts and more dresses.  I need things that go with other handmade things, and things that don't have mad prints, although I really do love a mad print. 

Roll on next May.