Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Appreciating Life

I have been a bit quiet on my blog lately. In part this is because the keyboard for my Mac spent some time upsidedown in the airing cupboard (I'm guessing as a result of an unfortunate incident with a glass of water), my computer has been slow and the internet connection temperamental ...  but I can't blame it all on that. I have had some ideas for posts moving in and out of focus in my head but none of them have screamed at me to be written and other things have taken priority.

My life is busy and at times chaotic. My blog is important to me but sometimes it takes a back seat. I never want to feel that a post has been a chore or at the expense of something else.

One 'something else' has been spending time with my sister in law who has been staying with us for the last few days.

Recently 'rnty jan' has made some life changing decisions which one day I hope I will be able to write about (with her blessing). Being able to offer her some support and show her our love has made me feel so much closer to her. Although she will have difficulties to face, I am excited for her and the new path she is about to travel. It serves as a reminder to me to grab life with both hands. Don't we  owe it to ourselves and the people who love us to be the best we can be and seek happiness and fulfilment? Why settle for ordinary when the extraordinary option exists - even if it does require more effort?

I strongly believe that there is magic all around us although sometimes it can be hard to connect with when the daily struggles or the mundane blind us to the possibilities. I am making a concerted effort, especially in the run up to Christmas, to connect with the magic at every opportunity!

Somebody who has been making her own magic is New Mum Online, Liska. Although I have not spent much time online lately, I couldn't help noticing the amazing #Healing4Kerry campaign that she initiated to support fellow Mummy Blogger Multiple Mummy whose life has been tragically struck by serious illness. Much was spoken about cyber bullying during Anti-Bullying Week so it was refreshing to see the power of social media being used for good as people came together to send a flood of good wishes and positive energy to Kerry and her family.

Of course, the hope is that Kerry will be well on the road to recovery and home with her family for Christmas. I always appreciate time spent with family and friends over the festive period but this year, I think I might find myself appreciating it just a little bit more.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The babies that never were

One of my favourite ladies in the mummy blogdom commented on a recent post that her beautiful little boy would have been called Lottie had he been a girl. It got me thinking about my own 'babies that never were'.

It is an option for pregnant mums these days to find out the sex of the baby they are carrying. I suppose it enables one to plan in a gender specific way, make a strong emotional attachment to the foetus as a real person and means you can focus on choosing just one name.

Despite some potential advantages, I NEVER wanted to know if I was carrying a boy or a girl. It wasn't, as some have suggested, that knowing would spoil the surprise, like opening your presents before Xmas day. It was more that in the scheme of things it was fairly irrelevant - so irrelevant in fact that with my last child it was some time after the slippery little mite was delivered onto my tummy that we even bothered to look at the business end of things.

I certainly speculated often enough about whether I was going to be a proud mummy to a son or a daughter - I even came up with a theory for predicting gender - but it was always an idle speculation. The outcome did not matter. It is a complete cliche but as long as the baby was healthy I really couldn't find it in myself to mind either way.

With my first child I just knew I was having a daughter. Of course anyone can say that and have a 50% chance of being right. I was right. It was just as well because I only ever had a girl's name for my first born. In a pethidine induced haze I had a brief moment of knowing that she really ought to be called Jane as she burst into the world, then quickly reverted back to my original selection before the name stuck. As it happens, I think Jane would have suited her - and I do wonder if it would have made a significant difference to her life had she be known by this alternative moniker.

My next two daughters would have gone by the names Daniel and Dexter had they been endowed with maleness. I honestly can't remember the alternative name I chose for daughter number four (must be my age!) but my little Addy would have been Dylan.

Looking back over my accumulation of unused boy names, I clearly have a fondness for the initial D! When I did finally give birth to a son, it felt a bit of a cheat to steal the name of one of my 'D babies that never were' because it was impossible not to have invested emotionally in the alternative realities. However, in the absence of any better ideas, that is what I did. Incidentally, had little Dylan stayed true to my tendency to produce female offspring, he would have been called Delilah!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A pre-Xmas clear out

I've seen the fridge magnet that states "A clean house is the sign of a boring person"

I have tried to subscribe to this view on the occasions that the enormity of household tasks gets the better of me. What difference does it really make if I haven't dusted/vacuumed/cleaned the bathroom/made the beds etc? Why waste time with housework when I could be doing something much less 'boring'? But for me, it does make difference. A huge difference.

When my house is clean and tidy and well organised, I feel ready for anything. I don't want to stagnate in front of Jeremy Kyle - I want to get up and do something.

The something that I am currently trying to get up and do is 'Christmas'.

Where the sparkly seasonal aisles of my local supermarket have failed to get my festive juices flowing, a good clear out at home has succeeded.

I am far from finished but three black sacks for the dump and three sacks of old clothing waiting to be recycled are evidence of the progress I have made.

Clearing out my cupboards clears my mind - a mind ready to fill with all things Christmassy.

Today, I put the fruit for my Xmas cake to soak in brandy. I am much later than I would have liked but as the saying goes, better late than never. Never would have deprived me from the sheer pleasure of stirring the glistening bowl of fruity jewels and breathing in the promise of richness.

I've not yet started my Christmas shopping but I have had some ideas - ideas that excite me rather than the desperate search round crowded shops to find anything vaguely suitable.

Christmas dinner is a big event for me. As a vegetarian, I always want to produce a show stopper that satisfies on many levels and does not leave me dreaming wistfully of the pre-veggie days when a golden, aromatic turkey took centre stage. I have no idea what the 2012 show stopper will be but organising the larder as part of my pre-Xmas clear out has re-ignited my passion for cooking and culinary experimentation. Hopefully, this passion will not wane until long after Xmas dinner is nothing more than a spectacularly happy memory and a few extra pounds on the hips to be shifted with a NewYear run.

The next time someone mentions with an Eeeek! - only so many more weeks/days to Christmas, I refuse to be panicked.  I am going to relax and enjoy every tinsel adorned moment.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Lottie Doll - a British rival to the Barbie Empire

I'm not sure that I subscribe to the view that playing with impossibly slender, long limbed, giraffe necked, pointy-breasted fashion dolls is going to leave a legacy of body image issues and age inappropriate sexual behaviour amongst our impressionable young girls - but I do whole heartedly agree with the notion of choice.

British company Arklu have launched a new Fashion Doll to challenge the market domination of the likes of Barbie and Bratz. In a complete rethink of what a fashion doll designed for girls in the 3-8 year age group should be like, 'Lottie' was born.

I was sent a Lottieville Festival doll to review.

Lottie has a distinctly childlike body and outfits that are fun and fashionable but not overtly sexy. With an appeal that doesn't rely on make-up, high heels and scanty clothing, Lottie offers a wholesome alternative to the long established fashion doll traits.

The Lottie Doll stands at 7" tall which makes her easily portable but possibly less impressive than her 12" rivals on the shelves of the toyshops. The packaging is designed to be re-usable as a carry case. Unfortunately, ours was discarded fairly quickly after the cardboard handle was damaged irreparably.

The festival outfit that Lottie came dressed in was gorgeous - well made with attention to detail. Disappointingly, the detachable velcro patch designed to mix and match with other outfits, lost its velcro. I did try to glue it back but without success.

I was very impressed with the quality of Lottie's long black hair which thus far has not tangled at all despite some fairly rough handling.

Lottie is poseable and reasonably stable in the standing position.

The different Lottie Doll sets are based around the seasons (the Lottieville Festival doll celebrating summer) which I think is a lovely idea and creates a very collectible product.

The tag line for the brand is "Be Bold, Be Brave, BeYou" - an admirable set of values to aspire to. If through relating to this little doll, my daughter felt empowered to be bolder, braver and herself then that could only be a good thing (although four year old Addy is a feisty little minx who probably needs no further encouragment!).

I have to be honest and say that Addy is quite fickle when it comes to toys and has never demonstrated any great interest in dolls. She did not fall instantly in love with this one. However, if she were to attach to a fashion doll in the future, I would be very happy for it to be Lottie.

RRP: £16.99

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Jump in Muddy Puddles

When I received a text message from my daughter that started 'jcbmudrun', I thought she was having problems with her predictive text option. As I read on, I realised that she was in fact letting me know about a charity race that might interest me organised by JCB of the bright yellow digger fame. This was no ordinary race. Specially designed muddy obstacles were put in place around the course to challenge (and dirty) the battling competitors.

For some reason that I do not understand on any level, I really really really wanted to do this.

The race took place last weekend. Unfortunately I was not able to participate this year but the photographs I have seen online have not put me off at all. I want to do it more than ever.

My husband is fully supportive. My prim and proper 15 year old daughter wants to do it with me. The rest of the family think I'm completely mad.

A mud run of some description will almost definitely appear on my '50 things to do before I'm 50' list.

By coincindence, I received a toy in the Peppa Pig range from Character to review. The toy was "Jump in Muddy Puddles Peppa".

With the insertion of 3xAA batteries and the press of a button, the happy, muddy little pig will jump up and down snorting, counting or delivering classic Peppa phrases.

As well as reminding me (in the cutest way) of my determination to jump in some muddy puddles of my own, the kids love it.

I learned something new about my little boy as well. After he had finished delighting in his new piggie playmate's jumping antics, he went and helped himself to a washing up brush and cloth. "Pig grubby" he told me as he did his best to clean the 'mud' off Peppa's face and dress! I'm sure I can put that desire to see things neat, clean and orderly to good use as I start my pre-Xmas house blitz!

Suitable from ages  3+, Jump in Muddy Puddles Peppa retails for £19.99

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Winter Wonderland of Wax

I have really been enjoying banishing the dropping temperatures by putting my fire on in the living room some evenings. It creates such a beautifully cosy atmosphere and makes me feel completely relaxed. Perhaps too relaxed. I failed to notice that the large candle on the hearth was a little close to the source of heat. Not surprisingly the candle responded to the unforgiving flame by melting... but  the way in which it melted was quite beautiful. It brought to mind my frozen water fountain from the winter of 2010.

Here is my Winter Wonderland of Wax, a gentle reminder of what may lie ahead weather-wise in the months to come. Time to stock up on the de-icer and start dreaming of a White Christmas.

Special K Cracker Crisps

Since I've been running 3 miles three times a week, my appetite has increased. There is also a sense of I've done all that exercise so I can eat whatever I want. Sadly, this is not true. I am definitely noticing that my trousers are a little tighter.

I do not want to go on a calorie controlled diet but I am being more mindful of what I eat and if I can make some lower calorie substitutions to get my weight down before the excesses of Christmas, I will.

I was very happy to be offered some New Special K Cracker Crisps from Kellogg's to review.

The bag of salt and vinegar crisps in my larder waiting for me to pick up and eat in a moment of need contains 135 calories and 12%  fat. In contrast, a 21 crisp serving of Special K Cracker Crisps has only 95 Calories and 3% fat. A considerably more virtuous snack. But do they hit the spot or leaving you wanting?

The Cracker Snacks come in individual bags or 100g boxes and are available in three flavours: sea salt and balsamic vinegar, sweet chilli and sour cream and chive.

I was sent 100g boxes of the salt and vinegar and sweet chilli varieties.

I am not a big fan of sweet chilli so I opted to sample the salt and vinegar. It did feel more like opening a box of cereal than a packet of crisps but the contents quickly pushed thoughts of bland breakfast food out of my mind.

The flavour was good and strong as I would expect from a crisp. The texture was much more like mini poppadums, which I really liked. I was surprised how good they were. Unfortunately for my resolve to eat more mindfully, over the course of the day I ate far more than a 21 crisp portion. The open packet was just too tempting!

I am planning to serve the sweet chilli crisps with a dip next time the family are all together. I think they will be ideal for that ... and a guaranteed way to reduce your calorie intake is by sharing!

Find Special K Cracker Crisps in the Crisp Aisle of all major supermarkets and convenience stores for a retail price of £1.99 per 100g box (60p for individual bags)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Drugs are bad....

.... And if you don't believe me, ask your dad.

The sort of drugs that Eminem was referring to in those lyrics that I have made use of in my title, are the illegal sort associated with addiction and crime. This post is about the sort that your GP prescribes. The sort of drugs that you take in good faith, believing that they will restore you to health. It doesn't always work out that way.

My daughter was prescribed Trimethoprim for an infection. The box of tablets included an information leaflet that detailed some possible side effects. The size of the text was tiny - unreadable to my middle aged eyes. We did make more of an effort to read it when she developed an itchy rash and burning sensation on her legs and arms and in particular, her feet. Sure enough, the fourth bullet point of possible side effects was skin rashes which may be itchy. 

The first bullet point outlined possible allergic reactions - puffy swollen face, tongue or body..... shortness of breath.. collapse.

My first husband claimed to be allergic to eggs. He was not as allergic to eggs as he liked to think and did develop a taste for fried egg sandwiches.

He also claimed that a wasp or bee sting would kill him. When he was stung by a wasp through his cotton handkerchief, he claimed that it was the handkerchief that saved him from death.

I never paid much attention to his claims. I was sure that they were unjustifed fears instilled into him by an overpowering mother who possibly was allergic to everything.

I did on one occasion regret my dismissal of his supposed allergies.

He had been unwell. He was prescribed penicillin. He was feeling quite empowered that he had completed the whole course without ill effect and perhaps was made of stronger stuff than his mother would have had him believe. It wasn't until about a week after he had taken the last capsule that the allergic reaction occured.

It started with a hot red patch on his arm.

The patch spread.

He began to feel so uncomfortably hot that he decided to immerse himself in a cool bath.

There is much that I am happy to forget about the years that I spent in that marriage but I never want to forget the image of him lowering himself into the water. His throbbing, red buttocks had swollen to resemble the rear end of a sexually receptive female baboon. You could almost hear the hiss of water turning to steam as he lowered! It was undeniably funny!

The reaction was so far removed in time from the taking of the penicillin that we did not associate the two immediately.

It all happened so quickly and the comedy of the moment turned to concern when the cooling effect of the water offered no relief.

We called the doctor.

By the time the doctor arrived (doctors still did house calls in those days) his tongue was swelling in his mouth making it difficult for him to breathe. It was all very scary. According to the information in my daughter's Trimethropim, the next stage would have been collapse.

Antihistimines provided the relief that the cold bath stood no chance of doing. He made a full recovery. The doctor said that it was common for the allergic reaction to take place some days after the penicillin was stopped.

Did I feel guilty that I had found the early stages of his allergic reaction funny? Yes, I did. Do I still feel guilty all these years and one acrimonious divorce later? Yes, I do. Will the image in my mind of him lowering his mighty red butt into the cold water ever lose its power to make me need to suppress a smile of mirth? Never!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Taylor's 'tache

One of my greatest pleasures as a mum is to see my children inspired by something that I do.

I have been doing a lot of knitting in the last year. I have made a MeerkatXmas decorations, zombies and even the Queen. It can be challenging and relaxing and always gives me a sense of achievement when I finish a project.

My daughter Taylor decided to cast on with me.

I can't take credit for teaching her the basic skills that she needed to get started. She learned from a tutorial DVD. But I have got her out of the odd tangle (much as my mum still does for me from time to time) and I did lend her the DVD!!

Her first success was to make a little penguin that she presented to her boyfriend on Valentine's day. The pattern was from one of my many knitting books - All You Knit is Love. (This is a beautifully illustrated book with some quirky ideas but we have found some mistakes in it).

For her next project, she found inspiration on the internet and without the slightest bit of assistance from me produced a rather magnificent moustache.

Fairly pointless you might think, but a lot of fun and perfect for Movember.

In support of all the people raising funds and awareness for men's health issues by growing upper lip hair this month and in celebration of my daughter picking up the needles, I give you my little Addy modelling Taylor's 'Tache.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Fifty Things to do Before we are Fifty

Seven years ago, I was in a failing marriage. My kids were all growing up fast and my eldest was preparing to leave home. I had an overwhelming sense that the best of my life was over and all that was left for me was waiting to die. I wasn't chronically depressed about this. Just accepting and defeated.

The feeling did not last for long. Whether I found some inner strength for the sake of my children or just because my spirit refused to play dead I don't know but the truth is I started imagining life after divorce. I started believing in the possibilities.

I dabbled in internet dating, I thought about potential careers, I met up with an old friend that I hadn't seen for twenty years who promised to teach me to sail.

Seven years later, my old friend still hasn't taught me to sail - but he did marry me and he gave me a brand new son and daughter. My life now is chaotic and wonderful - full of love and laughter. It is the polar opposite of waiting to die.

Yesterday, my husband celebrated his 49th birthday and in 5 months time, I will be about to do the same. Having known a time when life had very little value to me, I am determined to make the most of the years I have left. My husband feels much the same. With this in mind, we came up with a plan. We are compiling a list of "Fifty Things to do Before we are Fifty" and giving ourselves a budget of 50 x £50.

It is good fun simply thinking of things for our list but of course the real enjoyment begins when we start doing them. We have until 30th April 2014 to complete our challenge and if all goes well there's aways "60 Things to do Before We're 60" and "70 Things to do before We're 70"....

Life is good.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Being a Mother

There have been times this year when I have felt desperately unhappy. One of my daughters was having a difficult time adjusting to changes in her life and it seemed that whatever I did to try and help her would backfire and make things worse. It was frustrating and emotionally draining and the effects on the whole family were far reaching. I felt a complete failure as a mother.  Thankfully now, for the sake of everyone involved, things are very much better although I don't doubt that the odd crisis will continue to challenge us.

Being a mother is the most fundamental part of who I am and when I feel that I am failing, it strips me of any sense of self worth. The flip side to this particular coin of maternity is that when something positive happens it is totally life affirming. It can be a simple as my little Addy telling me that I am the best mummy ever (although yesterday she told me that I was the naughtiest mummy ever and if I didn't give her cake she would leave home!) - and it can be completely unexpected.

Today I was reduced to floods of happy tears when an unexpected and life affirming moment happened for me.

My eldest daughter is many things including a blogger and a writer. At a recent meeting at our town's local Writer's Club, she was tasked with writing a poem. She published the results of her rhyming masterpiece on her blog. As an avid reader of her blog, I chanced upon the poem this morning and this is what I read:

A misplaced coffee cup, half full, gone cold.
A photo in your underwear, who says you’re too old?
John Denver on the CD rack, right next to Eminem.
A puzzle book left open, to dip into now and then.
Knitting needles, cast on, making zombies, skulls, the Queen.
A mountain of fresh baked cupcakes topped with buttercream.
Worn out clogs sit by the door, bleached by summer sun.
She’s chaotic, crazy, beautiful,
My Mum

The poem is a near perfect snapshot of me (not sure about the 'beautiful' bit!) and to know that she sees me so clearly and embraces all that I am was the catalyst to precipitate my emotional response.

Being a mother has certainly taken me to the extremes of joy and misery. I have been stretched to near breaking point yet remade in an instant.

I am struggling to end this post in a way that does not sound cheesy and cliched. My life isn't always easy but I am a Mother...  and wouldn't want it any other way.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Skeleton Day Magic

At the weekend, my daughter Taylor made her first visit home since starting University. It was such a joy to welcome her back and to see that, despite my fears that she wouldn't eat properly, she was looking healthy and happy.

As we had missed out on our Hallowe'en festivities last Wednesday due to illness, our weekend took on a spooky theme to make up for it. Right from the start, 4 year old Addy had referred to this year's  Hallowe'en as 'Skeleton Day'. It was much easier to call it Skeleton Day than to try and celebrate Hallowe'en on a day somewhat removed from October 31st. Addy does sometimes have uncanny intuition and perhaps this was an example of it.

We got in the mood with a little fancy dress.

Charis modelled the wonderful Hotel Chocolat Coffin Chocolates sent to us by a friend who never fails to make me smile with his generosity and how well he knows exactly what we would love.

Friends and family were invited round to join in our celebrations.

I had spent a good deal of time in the kitchen so there was plenty of food for everyone and my girls helped me with the cake decorating and presentation.

We had fireworks, a gorgeous roaring fire in the chiminea and in a slight deviation to our usual vegetarian food code, we had meat sausages for the barbecue. This greatly pleased the palates of the more committed carnivores who as a general rule will politely endure my meat free offerings without complaint!

The highlight of the evening for me was when Taylor performed some card tricks. She has always had an interest in magic. I bought her some simple magic trick sets when she was a little girl and she would diligently perfect them before demonstrating her skills. One of the many clubs and societies available to students at Warwick University is  Warwick Illusion - a society for the performance and appreciation of magic tricks. I was so pleased when Taylor joined and delighted when she came home with a handful  of tricks to baffle us with.

She's not quite up there with Dynamo: Magician Impossible yet but everyone has to start somewhere! Certainly after my mood was mellowed with a Hobgoblin Ale or two, I was mystified and demanding to know in an unnaturally high pitched voice how she had done it. I had to settle for the explanation - magic!

Of course the real magic was in the bonds of love and friendship that brought us all together for an unforgettable Skeleton Day.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The 5K Challenge

I'm not really a morning person. I joke that I'm not worth knowing until after my second cup of coffee and sadly for the people that have to live with me, there is a lot of truth in that. This Saturday though, I was up bright and early without even one cup of coffee, dressed in my running gear and ready and waiting for my daughter (and running partner) to call round so we could take part in the first 5K Challenge of our Running Club.

The idea of the challenge was to give ourselves a realistic idea of our time for running 5K under race conditions - a baseline upon which future improvement could be measured.

Since starting the beginners programme with the club, my aim has always been to complete the 5K course in 30 minutes. I was still hopeful that this might be possible despite the fact that I was getting over a cold and had missed my mid week training. I held onto my dream but had a gut feeling that my time would actually be a tantalisingly close 33 minutes.

Why 33 minutes? It's odd but whenever I wake up in the night and look over at the glowing green digital numbers on my clock, more often than not, they will display something:33. This is not because my clock is broken! Thirty three seems to be one of those numbers that  crops up in my life with more than random regularity. I have tried to cash in on my mystical number when choosing lottery combinations but without success, not even to the tune of a tenner.

It was a cold and drizzly 9am start to the 5K Challenge but there was a level of excitement amongst the expectant participants and I admit to being a little thrilled by the "Caution Runners" signs in use. It all felt very much more formal than our usual Monday and Wednesday evening jogs. The route was down a lovely country lane, pretty muddy in places, and involved running out to a cattle grid that was the turnaround point and running back.

I set off at a reasonable pace but almost immediately lost my daughter as the runners separated out. I hoped she would catch up with me so we could share the experience but the only times I saw her were once when I passed her on the return half of the route and to cheer her over the finish line a couple of minutes after I completed the course.

It took me about half a mile to warm up properly and find my stride, by which time it had stopped raining. I was struggling with my breathing a little and was grateful for the tissues I had stuffed in my jacket pocket before I left home.

Reaching the cattle grid was a good moment. Halfway. All I had to do was keep going.

Keeping going would have been easier if I hadn't started to feel decidedly light headed and a little bit like I might be sick. I was determined not to stop but I did slow my pace down to barely above a walk just to try and regain my composure. This was not a good moment for me to spot my husband who had cycled out to offer support and take a few photographs.

I want my husband to be proud of me. I want my husband to see me as graceful gazelle striding effortlessly towards the finish. Instead, there I was struggling with every fibre of my being to keep putting one foot in front of the other without keeling over. He smiled, he shouted encouragement and took a bad photo!

I knew that my husband would stay where he was until our daughter had passed so he could offer her the same encouragement as he had me. I found myself picking up my pace a fraction to put some distance between myself and him and the embarrassment I had felt at being so rubbish. The longer I went on feeling faint and nauseous without actually fainting or being sick, the easier it was to ignore it. I didn't have a lot left to give but I was definitely starting to give it again.

A short while later I saw my husband speed by on his bike to wait for us crossing the finish. I allowed myself the luxury to consider how much I wished I had a bike at that precise moment then pushed on, every step a step closer to the end.

I started to look forward to the finish - husband waiting to congratulate me and take me in his arms. I was fairly sure that my 30 minute goal had already ticked away but I did my very best to open up and give it one last push as the end came into sight. I was putting in a lot of effort for what felt like very little actual improvement in speed but I did my best to go for it. Runners who had already finished were there cheering, along with my husband and other supporters. Rather than being spurred on by this, I started to feel somewhat self conscious. My final exertion (and no time to make use of my tissue collection) left me with a snotty nose and I was sure I must be glowing beetroot. I would rather have sneaked in quietly and unobserved!

As my time was called out I was not at all surprised to hear my familiar number: 33 minutes 26 seconds.

I felt a mixture of euphoria for having made it all the way without stopping and extreme wobbliness. I remedied the wobbliness by sitting on the ground  (remedied the snotty nose with a good blow!) and then simply basked in the euphoria.   I was fully recovered in time to cheer my daughter on as she made an impressive final push to the finish.

It is quite hard to explain exactly how I feel about the whole experience. There were times when I was running that all I wanted to do was stop and never run again. There were times when I wondered why on earth I had ever started. But the euphoria upon completing the challenge cancelled any doubts.

I cannot wait to run again.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ella's Kitchen - Apples Apples Apples to keep the Doctor away

My little ones have not been at all well for the past couple of days and it has been difficult to get them interested in food. Then I remembered that I had been sent some smoothie fruit pouches from Ella's Kitchen to review, including the new Apples, Apples, Apples smooth puree - perfect for the season.

Not only are these 100% organic fruit snacks ideal weaning foods, they are also great for lunch boxes and on the move snacks. My kids love them, making a very easy contribution to their 'five a day' fruit and veg requirement.

As I found out today, they are also fantastic for those times when illness strikes and appetites are suppressed. Both children excitedly selected their preferred colour (the Purple One for Dylan and the Yellow One for Addy) and made very short work of them. It did perk them up and I was happy that they were getting a much needed vitamin boost.

As the saying goes An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away. I am hopeful that the Apples Apples Apples variety will do just that. If nothing else, I know that it will bring smiles.

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