A Glimpse Into The Future

This week DD1 ( Y7) and DD2 (Y6) went away with their respective schools for the week. DD1 left on Sunday morning, DD2 left on Monday and both of them came home tonight.

Last weekend went by in a blur of packing and labelling. DD1 wanted to go  buy All The Things; DD2 just wanted to squeeze into old stuff that was no longer suitable.  I sent DH out with them to the nearest shopping centre and they came back three hours later. DH looked shell shocked but both the girls seemed happy enough with their purchases.

We had 3 different lists in an effort to make sure we forgot nothing, and it seemed to work. There was no last minute packing emergency for either girl and the respective  drop offs were marked mainly by excitement  and last minute hugs.

The parents looked less thrilled. Yes, we had our happy faces on and were telling each other that our children would have So Much Fun, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found myself wondering where the years had gone. I stood waving wildly in the direction of the departing bus, just in case my daughter could still see me.

It’s been a funny old week. Yes, we still had two kids at home, and they took up a lot of time and attention, but two is not four, and the house did seem very empty. DH and I had hoped to go away by ourselves in the middle of the week, but things fell through, so there was a sense of disappointment hanging over our time as a family of four. This didn’t help my melancholy.

For the first time for years, I felt a bit bored. People kept asking me if I was enjoying the peace and quiet but the answer was no. The house wasn’t much quieter with just two children and I felt like I was missing a couple of non-essential, sometimes annoying, but often quite useful and amusing body parts.

I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what it’s going to be like when the kids get older and leave home, one by one. I could see I’m going to have some serious spaces to fill.

But that’s in the future. Today was the homecoming.

On paper it all worked out nicely; DD2’s bus was due between 5:30-6 and DD1’s would arrive between 7:30-8pm. DD1’s school is about 20 minutes drive from our house and DD2’s is a couple of minutes away.

Of course it didn’t actually turn out like that. DD2 got home late and DD1 got home early, so I was supposed to be picking up my middle daughter at the same time I had to leave to pick up my eldest. When they finally approve the cloning of human beings I plan to be first in line.

But somehow it all worked out in the end, and they are now both home; exhausted, dehydrated and constipated from having to share a bathroom with their friends for a week. They are both upstairs, in their beds, where they belong.

For now. Today they are only 10 and 12, and while they can survive away from home for a week, they are not ready to fly the nest for good just yet.

But that day is coming closer; I can see it approaching. Tonight I will ignore it and pretend that I will have a full complement of children under this roof for ever, but I know that one day, this past week will be my reality. One day there will be just three, then two, and then at last, only one. Actually, one isn’t the final stage, is it?

Where did my newborns go? The years go by so fast.

Off on school residential

 

The Five Stages Of Naming Clothes

DH and DS are off on a Beaver Scout camping trip this weekend ( yes, in this weather) and the two oldest DDs are off on school residentials the week after next. So kit lists are on my mind at the moment, and I’m going nuts trying to make sure everyone has enough of everything AND that everything is named.

It was while I was frantically searching for the last Sharpie in the house; the one that I had put in the kitchen drawer specifically so I could find it next time I needed to label something, that I reflected that my attitude to naming things has changed dramatically in the last 8 years. I have now come to the conclusion that there are five stages of  naming your children’s clothes, and where you are on this scale will depend on how old your children are, how many you have, how often they have gone away with school or other organisations, how much spare time you have and how lazy you are.

1/The Eager Labeller

Most Eager Labellers have a child just starting school or nursery.You order specially printed name tags with full name including middle names or initials on them, just in case someone else has the same first and last name as their child.  You will spend hours sewing or ironing the tags on everything, including socks, and get a great sense of satisfaction from completing the labelling. You feel you have achieved ‘good mummy’  status.

2/The Second-Time-Around Labeller

Once the first set of labels have fallen off, or your child has outgrown the first lot of clothing, you may feel a little bit less enthusiastic. You still order specially printed name tags but let your standards slip a little this time around. If you went for first and last names last time, you may just settle for a first initial, surname and a symbol of some sort this time. If you purchased sew in labels before, you may opt for iron on or the tags that fix to the clothes with a little button. You still spend a lot of time labelling your children’s clothes and still think labelling ‘properly’ is necessary to be a good parent.
However you will probably stop labelling socks this time around.

3/Second Child Labelling

At some point, most parents have a second child whose clothes need labelling. At this stage you usually start ordering labels that are as easy to affix as possible ( iron or button) and find ways to use the same label for both children. Unless you have a very common surname, often just a last name on the label will do and if you put both initials on the same label, you can just black out the irrelevant one. Even better, think ahead and give all your children names that start with the same letter!
If you haven’t given up labelling socks and underwear, now’s the time.

4/Giving Up The Labels

Once your child has been at school for a few years, there will come a point where you run out of labels and think ‘What’s the point?’ Let me introduce you to the Sharpie.

sharpie

These pens may look like felt tips, as they come in all sorts of colours, but they are permanent markers. DO NOT let small children get hold of them.
( If the worst happens, rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover can remove permanent markers from skin)
Sharpies come in different tip sizes and are perfect for writing your child’s name on their clothes, shoes and school equipment. Once you start with a sharpie, you will wonder why you ever bothered with proper labels.
You won’t get the same ‘good mummy’ thrill as you did from using labels but by the time you reach for the sharpie, you will have realised that your kids don’t care how, or even if, their clothes are labelled.

5/ The Ball Point Labeller
If you can’t find a Sharpie, any ball point or gel pen will do. The name will wash out after a few washes, and will have to be re done at some point , but it’s better than nothing. This doesn’t work on socks, so don’t even bother trying.

I have been labelling clothes for over 8 years now and am firmly lodged between stages 4 and 5. I prefer to use a  Sharpie, but if I can’t find one then any pen will do.

Of course labelling isn’t a magical prevention against lost clothes. It’s likely you will still have to brave the Lost Property box at some point, but at least you’ll have an outside chance of getting your kids’ stuff back.

 

Don’t Decide Not To Vote!

It’s 20 to eight and I have three out of four children still asleep.

No, it’s not an alarm clock malfunction, it’s Election Day, and our primary school is being used as a Polling Station. So the kids ( and teachers) get a day off and I get an extra six hours of childcare . At least I don’t work outside the home for someone else, aye?  As I type, the Polling Stations have already opened. They are open from 7am to 10pm and you can take the kids along with you. Mine love to tag along and one year we even took the class bear.

This year, 2014, you can vote for both European and council elections, so your opinion could have both very local, and also wide-ranging, effects.

The European elections operate under a kind of proportional representation, so your vote really does count there. It also means that the votes for parties whose policies you don’t agree with matter too, which just makes your vote matter more.

And even if you don’t care about Europe, there are local elections to consider. These  have a much more direct effect on your life as they will decide how your community is run. Rubbish collection, children’s services,  road works and rulings on that loft extension you’ve been planning are all things that  you might want a say in.

If you are a woman reading this, you should know that people suffered and some diednot so long ago, to give you the right to vote. Before 1928, women were considered unfit to vote ‘due to “want of understanding” ‘. So to not use this privilege that others earned for us seems a bit ungrateful doesn’t it?

But what if you are unsure of who to vote for? Perhaps you think ‘they are all as bad as each other? Or maybe you aren’t familiar with each parties policies?

I don’t know what people did in the ‘Olden Days’, but these days we have the internet,so all you need to do is take 5 minutes and work your way through one of  online questionnaires that can tell you which party most closely matches your opinions. Vote Match is popular, but The Guardian also has a good one. And if you want access to charts and information to peruse  in your own time, check out TickBox and this blog post by 38 Degrees.

So what are you waiting for? Read up opn your choices , then head down to your polling station. You don’t even need to produce your polling card, but you do need to be on the electoral roll. If you aren’t, then I’m afraid you can’t vote today, but you CAN enroll here, to make sure you get your say in next year’s General Election.

Get out there and vote. The only bad vote is a wasted one and if you don’t vote you lose the right to complain about politicians for the next 12 months.

votes4women

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Crafty

I’m don’t consider myself a crafty person. I’m not a great chef or baker, although I do manage to bake the odd batch of biscuits or banana loaf, now and again.

I can’t sew, and I’ve always maintained that I don’t know how to knit. But then my oldest DD’s school asked them to all start knitting 20 cm squares for blankets for African orphans. DD didn’t know how to get started and asked me to teach her, and I found to my surprise that I could knit after all. Not very well, but I knew what to do with the needles and eventually produced a perfectly respectable woollen square. Then, even more amazing, I managed to teach both my older DDs how to knit as well.

But eventually I remembered why I didn’t like knitting; it’s boring and takes ages, but I had a vague recollection of teaching myself to crochet as an young teen, and wondered if I could teach DD to do that instead. I ordered some hooks as soon as they arrived off I went. To be honest, it  wasn’t quite like riding a bike; it took me a few tries and 30 minutes or so on YouTube but it all came back to me. I busied myself making 20 cm granny squares for the school, but soon got bored again.

DD had a go, got into a tangle and went back to knitting, but I preferred crochet. I wanted to make something but it had to be interesting, not just endless  rounds of  double crochet stitch. Google suggested this Vintage Scrap Afghan  pattern from Etsy for under £2. What did I have to lose? I bought it.

wonky Zebra afghan
For a couple of weeks I just stared at the instructions comprised of abbreviations and numbers, but once I received some wool I started.

I’ve made all the granny square motifs now. I already knew how to do these and none of them get big enough to be tedious, so it didn’t take long. Choosing the colours has been my main stumbling block but I’ve now discovered that the kids enjoy doing this. Problem solved!

Here are the 6 squares I’ve made so far.

Granny squares for Afghan

They are not perfect, but that’s the beauty of these sort of things; they don’t have to be. Now I’ve put them all together like that I can see that I need to include more red, and less green. The Granny squares are the easy ones though, I was completely bricking it over the instructions for the next group; the star motif  squares.

I started on one last night and really enjoyed it. I had to concentrate  and had to do over a few places where I hadn’t counted correctly. Top Tip: if you know you are going to have to count stitches correctly, don’t use dark wool for that round, as it’s really hard to see what you are doing!

So here’s my first Star motif square.

Star motif granny square
I’m pretty pleased with it and I’m sure the next one will look better.

I’m quite impressed with what I’ve managed to do so far, maybe I do have a crafty side after all?

A Writing Blog Tour.

A couple of days ago, Ellen Arnison of  In A Bun Dance, asked me if I’d like to take part in a blog tour.
‘Sure’, I replied always grateful for something to write about. My blog is 3 years old now and I’m past the writing everyday stage; sometimes a girl needs inspiration.

But what’s a Blog Tour?, I wondered. I had only ever heard about Book Blog Tours, and I certainly haven’t written a book-yet. As far as I can tell, a Blog Tour is a little like a blog hop, with a ‘baton’ of questions being handed down to the next person (or people) after you’ve had a bash at answering them yourself. It’s a good way of reading a few blogs you haven’t seen before, and maybe getting a few extra readers yourself. For me, it’s also an opportunity to talk about writing; something that I haven’t discussed on my blog very often.

When I started this blog, one of the reasons I gave for its creation was to develop the habit of writing regularly. I’ve always enjoyed writing and felt that deep down I wanted to write something that other people would read, and enjoy. Ultimately my goal was a book, but as the years have gone by and the posts have gone up, my little writing exercise has taken on a life of its own. Not all writing products are books you know, there are lots of  people out there writing other things.

books

Anyhow, enough waffle. On with the questions…

What am I working on? 

Well, at first there’s the blog. There is always the blog. I aim to write a post 3-4 times a week these days and have found that it hasn’t affected my stats compared to when I used to write every day. I try and make it a priority though sometimes I’m not sure why.

Secondly, there are a couple of books.

One is a kids’ book about getting a puppy. I have the words down, and have done the illustration descriptions, but keep going back and changing bits. I’m probably just about ready for someone to have a look at this. I guess i’m hoping someone might take this on as it’ll need an illustrator, so I’m not sure self publishing is an option.

The other work is a YA novel about two 10 year old girls who accidentally somehow swap lives.  Bethany was born in the year 2000, but is flung into the Victorian era, while Eliza was born at the beginning of the 20th Century and finds herself having to survive in 2010. Both of them struggle at first, but eventually manage to settle into their new lives in a foreign time. I have spent a lot of time trying to decide at what point they give up on the idea of getting their old lives back but maybe they don’t?

This second book is a product of NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago, and has been slowly brewing ever since. I’m now at the early editing, chop and change, stage and am hoping to hand it over to someone for a read through in the next month or so. My aim is to self publish, probably through Kindle.

How much does my work differ from that of others?

I’m not sure it does. Obviously, all writing is a product of the author concerned, so no two people are going to have an identical writing style. If you are aimimg to copy someone else’s style, how are going to develop your own?

But judging by all the ‘People who bought this also bought…’ and ‘ If you liked this, try…’ categories you see on various websites dedicated to books and reading , I think the general public likes to be able to classify authors as writing ‘like’ someone else.

Do we need a USP? I don’t know, I think it’s enough to not think too hard about it all and just get on with writing.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I feel I have to. Writing for me is like a cough or a sneeze; it’s a urge that I feel I have to obey.

The blog is to give my friends and family, who live scattered around the globe, a glimpse of what life is like for my family. It’s not noncommercial- I will happily do sponsored posts and reviews as I like to bring some money into the house if possible.

I’m not sure how I feel about my friends who don’t live so far away reading my blog. It’s a hazard of the job I guess, but part of me cringes when someone from school utters those words; ‘I’ve been reading your blog ‘. I wonder what it will be like if I ever get around to finishing a book!

Blog post inspiration comes from day to day events, news stories, photographs, days out and conversations with friends or things my children or pets do.  Oh and holidays; I also write about our holidays and the challenges of dragging four children around the world.

Book ideas just pop into my head, usually when I’m walking the dogs. If I ever finish the YA book, I have a second book queued up in my brain that is ‘that book’- the one that everyone has always told me I should write.

The children’s book idea  is different and has come from the fact that there seems to be a gap in the market for that particular kind of book.

How does my writing process work?

I take ages over blog posts.  I spend too much time on social media and always manage to find something else to do. I try and write posts in the morning, before I do housework and go and walk the dogs. Basically, it comes down to the same thing as it does for everyone, everywhere. If you want to be a writer, you have to write.

Apart from the kids’ book, my longer bits of writing have all started out as NaNoWriMo projects. I do enjoy slogging away at something for a finite length of time. It’s taken me years to come back to my Time Swap novel, I’m not sure why. I think it’ll be a pleasant and interesting read when it’s finished and I know that some people will enjoy it.

It’s all the marketing and ‘getting it out there’ I’m not looking forward to.  I know that it won’t interest some people, and I want people to be honest with me. I’ve seen first hand what happens when people don’t feel they are able to be honest about someone’s writing.

And I’ve seen a number of authors of different genres take the inevitable poor reviews badly. These are strong, confident women who find it really hard when someone doesn’t like their work. I’m pretty sure I will be no different, although I am hoping to avoid tantrums.

This is all new to me, so I’m not sure how the editing process is going to work for me. Right now I’m reading through what I’ve done, changing various dodgy bits and adding the ending that I never got around to finishing. Then I thought I might draw up a time line, and play with that for a bit, but if anyone has any better ideas, I’m all ears!

 

That was a mammoth post! If you are still with me after that then pop over and take a look at the three blogs I am handing the Blog Tour baton over to. 

They are all proper writers, ie they write for a living, but only one of them writes books.  Check out the writing of  Rachael LucasCressida Downing and Lucy Dimbylow.

 

writing

A Different Kind Of Advent Calendar!

Christmas has got so commercial hasn’t it? Now the adverts start in November, urging us to spend, spend, spend and buy things. But do things really make us happy? So many people look so stressed during this time of year.

Here’s something to help you feel REALLY Christmassy. An Advent Calendar where you give instead of receive. Sign up here and each day of December you will be emailed details of a small task of kindness.

This is my first year of doing this, but I’m assured that I won’t be asked to do anything difficult or unpleasant. The examples given are ‘phone a friend’ and ‘thank the postman’. Most people can stretch to this kind of thing, can’t they?

And I’m going to open each day’s task in front of my children and get them to think about how they could participate too.

Does anyone else want to join me?

Blogfest 2013: Challenging

Mumsnet blogfest 2013

 

My first challenge was finding the venue, Kings Place.

Never one to read a map accurately, I failed to register the rather obvious presence of Kings Cross Station next to St Pancras, and shot up Pancras Road instead of carrying on to York Way. By the time I realised my mistake I could see there was a road that connected the two roads, and in fact delivered me right to the door of Kings Place. I could tell I was in the right place because there were hundreds of women of various ages standing in a queue inside. That, and the big sign over the door saying  ‘Kings Place’.

I stepped inside and joined the queue, and so began one of the most challenging days I’d have all year.

I’m 75% SAHM to 4 demanding children and 25% self employed , so it’s not like I sit around all day playing Candy Crush and watching Jeremy Kyle. I deal with tantrums, sibling arguments, school runs, housework, pets and clients everyday so I’m no stranger to challenges. But a lot of this stuff is routine and I am frequently painfully aware I have the remnants of a once half-decent brain circling the drain. Sometimes it’s nice to take my mind out of it’s bubble wrap now and again. And that’s where Blogfest comes in.

We all get different things from the internet; information, shopping, companionship. I’ve used it for all these things, but the thing I’d miss most about the world wide web if it were to go poof tomorrow, is its ability to challenge my very thought processes. It makes me think about things that I’d never even considered as requiring a second thought and things that I’d never dreamed existed. It doesn’t always change my mind, but it gets me thinking about things in a different way. It sways my opinions and helps me understand where other people are coming from.

This is one of the things I like about Mumsnet, the forum, and also about Blogfest itself; it challenges my thoughts and introduces me to new things. I went to last year’s Blogfest not knowing what to expect, and found it both enjoyable and thought provoking, so I had high hopes for Blogfest 2013.

It certainly started off well, with a short, sweet welcome  from Mumsnet, then a lively keynote panel about anonymity on the web. The star of the show was Stella Creasy, who argued that online abuse should be treated as real life harassment. Despite most of the audience tweets displayed on a huge screen hovering above the panel appearing to be in agreement with her, this was not a view shared  by everyone on the sofa. ( Yes Toby Young, I’m looking at you!)

On a personal level, my mind wandered back and forth, considering the opposing view points while following the discussion, until the topic turned to Ask.fm and the sometimes tragic results of the offensive comments made by users of the site. Upon hearing that many of the people  on Ask.fm are under 18 years of age, I wondered if it were somehow possible to to hold parents accountable for what their children do online. Or do the parents of the bullies on these sites know what their kids are doing to other kids and just don’t care?

The morning break was welcome, with plenty of coffee, but we could have done with more cake.

For me, Breakout Session 1 was  all about writing funnier stuff. I don’t set out to write to make people laugh but people have mentioned they find some of my stuff funny, so I went looking for tips to build on this. There was plenty of talk about whether ‘funny’ was something that could be taught or not, and it seemed that the panel thought that most humorous writers did have a genetic funny bone.  Day to day mishaps were a popular source of inspiration, but there was some disagreement about whether these mishaps had to be your own.

The following Think Bomb Session featured the always amazing Tanya Byron, talking about using technology wisely to allow us to stimulate the children we were ‘raising in captivity’; the colourful, but softly spoken Dr Sue Black who told us that tech savvy mums lead to tech savvy kids, which in turn produce tech savvy communities and Jon Ronson, who told us the tale of how a spambot stole his identity. This had us rolling in the aisles.

Prior to hearing these speakers, my opinion had been ‘technology is probably bad for kids but makes a damn fine babysitter’, so it was nice to hear a different message from such clever people. And after listening to Dr Black I resolved to make sure I take the time to keep my technology knowledge up to date for the sake of my kids.

Lunch time next. This was a bit disappointing after last year’s amazing buffet. I had beef and ale pie which was very nice but the only vegetable side dish offered was cabbage, which was an interesting choice. The pie was tasty, I could have done with a knife at one point, but I was too full for pudding, so I can’t complain too much.

We had an hour and 20 minutes for lunch which gave us plenty of time to eat, drink, mingle and bump badges.

mark warner drinks

Now I have to write about the badges because they were really rather clever. I wasn’t sure I was going to like them at first. They were heavier than normal, but not big enough that they caused a problem, and attached to them was a sticker with each attendee’s name, twitter name and blog name ( I think!).  To exchange contact information with another person, all you had to do was tap your badge with the other person’s and  a couple of lights on the bottom would flash to show you the information had been exchanged. The idea seemed very popular as people were tapping badges with anyone they spoke to. It was so much easier than fumbling through bags to find cards and pressing them on each person I met. Best of all I didn’t need to take a card in return while hoping I didn’t lose it. Instead I now have a handy little timeline of people I spoke to during the day, complete with multiple contact details thanks to Blendology!

Lunch time was also time to check out the Blogfest Sponsors and have a cheeky midday drink at the Mark Warners beach shack. I also popped into the blog clinic to see if I could sign up to anything useful but I was too late; the slots that would have been useful to me were already taken. By this time I was getting a headache from the constant buzz of other people’s conversations so I popped outside  for a breath of fresh air ( ironic really as there a bunch of smokers out there) and admired the coots on the canal for a bit.

coot on the canal
The first session after lunch was a panel on how to make money from your blog. I mainly went along to hear the lovely Rachel Lucas speak about how she used her blog to promote her writing career but also came out with a little knowledge about an affiliate scheme called Skimlinks, thanks to Tom Allin. After a bit of research, I have applied to join the scheme, so we’ll see what comes of that.

Breakout session three was fantastic; all about how to tell a better story. The panel featured Al Kennedy And Lionel Shriver (We Need To Talk About Kevin). There was talk about opening lines, both good and bad, and lots of advice about how to write. Not everyone said the same thing, which was interesting, but these are successful writers who have found something that works for them and it was an amazing opportunity to be able to hear them speak.

Penultimately, there was the now infamous ‘Can You Be A Mummy Blogger And Still Be A Feminist?’ debate. My challenge here was not to get sucked into the debate but just watch as chaos broke out around me.

So many people took this personally, and there were some truly ridiculous statements being made. The Big Screen Twitter Feed was seething before it finally got taken down with no explanation, which I thought was a bit off. Even if the powers that be had just said ‘It’s a bit distracting’, it would have been more respectful than just whipping it away from us, as people definitely felt like their voice had been removed.

I thought the original question was a non-starter really, as this flowchart encompasses my ideas about feminism.

Feminism flow cart

I also remembered that the same session last year featured Liz Jones, so I decided that this was probably Mumsnets ‘Wind Up’ session, so didn’t get too het up about it.

But once all the shouting was over, it was the moment we’d all been waiting for.

Jo Brand Blogfest 2013
Jo Brand, large as life and twice as funny, got behind the podium to try and settle us down again. She was wonderfully sweary and just hilarious. It’s such a pity she doesn’t do Twitter as I’d watch her like a hawk.

Once she’d finished, we all crammed in to the bar for some nibbles and a couple of very nice gin and tonics. My friends and I found a spot by the gin, where the waiters came out bearing food, and close to where poor Jo Brand was standing, so we could bask in her presence for a little longer.

At the end of the night, my challenge was to leave the gin, hand in my badge, collect my goodie bag and get myself home. (The goodie bag was one of the best I’ve ever had ( it contained a book, chocolate truffles AND marmalade!) and had enough stuff for me to share out among the kids with only a minor scuffle.)

Finally, slightly OT as this post is also a competition entry, as well as a Blogfest review, so requires a top tip for a family holiday.

My tip is ‘Don’t let having kids put you off something more adventurous when it comes to holidays. Make sure you do stuff for the adults too.’

Hopefully I’ll see you at Blogfest 2014. You can sign up for news here.

The Gallery: Selfie

image

7:49am
My hair is still wet from my shower but I’m dressed and ready for the day ahead.

I look tired. I am tired because I stayed up too late watching a stupid action movie. Tonight DH will be out late ‘with work’ so I’ve promised myself an early night.

There are only two kids dressed and breakfasted,  ready for school,  on the sofa behind me.

This because DD1 leaves for school at 7:15 these days. I miss my big girl.

And DD2 refused to get out of bed at 7am today, then had a tantrum because she had no trousers for school. We negotiated her wearing a skirt instead and she promised she would be up and dressed by the time we left for school if she was allowed to stay in bed until 8.

This is my ‘I’m really not sure how this is going to work out but it’s too early in the morning to argue ‘ face.

Happily, everything worked out in the end and everyone got to school fully dressed and in time.

Job done; now for a cup of tea.

For more Selfies check out today’s Gallery over at Sticky Fingers.

Galllery-Badges

I Don’t Wear Make Up

I’ve posted this statement on a couple of online discussions lately. Sometimes people have engaged with me about it; other times it’s been ignored.

I don’t wear lipstick, blusher, mascara or eye shadow  Ever. I used to but it made my face feel heavy and I was never very good at applying it. I didn’t like it; I just did it because everyone else did.  And I only wore it for nights out; I’ve never considered wearing it for an ordinary day at home or at work. I only ever wore make up to enhance my face, not to cover up my perceived imperfectations.

It’s not because I think I look fantastic without it. I don’t think I look fantastic at all. But I know I look like me, and that’s fine. I don’t need make up to be me. I’m okay as I am, despite what the cosmetic industry tries to tell me every day.

Me. No make up. grey hair

I don’t need longer lashes, blemish free skin, unnaturally coloured lips, or artificially reddened cheeks.

What horrifies me is that so many women feel they do.

No doubt some people will be looking at my photo and think ‘oh a bit of powder/mascara/ foundation/lipstick would make SUCH a difference’ . And I don’t doubt this, but why should I bother? I haven’t noticed people running away from me screaming when I walk down the street. Some people even smile at me and say hello. Others even stop and talk to me.

I’m not a terribly observant person, so I don’t usually notice if someone is wearing makeup or not unless it’s really obvious. But from reading various threads on internet forums, I can see that  an awful  lot of woman, maybe even the majority, wear make up every day no matter what they are doing. Some people talk about getting up before their partners and kids  do and putting their ‘face’ on. They joke they would scare people if they didn’t wear make up. Oh, come on!

Some of these women I don’t know from Adam, but others I have met many times and the vast majority of them are intelligent, strong, confident, educated, women.  Who apparently can’t leave their houses without a full face of make up.  I find that really, really sad.

I don’t wear make up  for many reasons. I don’t like the feel of it. I don’t like the tests they do on animals. It’s money I could spend elsewhere. Sourcing  ethically produced make up and applying make it takes time I don’t want to waste, and skills I don’t see why I should acquire.  I’m not against makeup though. I can see why people do it when they are going somewhere special. It’s a part of dressing up.  I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear I’m not into that either.

But I’m not hearing about make up being used as decoration in these threads. I’m hearing that women use it to cover up their ‘faults’. Their short eyelashes,  freckles,  blotchy skin, bags under eyes, thin lips; all these perfectly natural things that are part of our bodies at we live and age, have been declared undesirable by the cosmetic industry.

I have three daughters  and a son who are going to grow up and  may want to experiment with make up. I know this and am prepared for it. But if I am going to be truthful, I have to say that I would be upset if they felt they had to wear make up every single day of their lives. I hope they will understand that they are simply enough as they are.

I accept I am very much in the minority here but am interested to hear about other people attitudes towards make up.  Are there others out there like me? Do you wear some every day or is it only for special occasions? And what kind of attitude would you like your children to have when they are grown?

Regenovex: Good For Sore Knees?

I’ve suffered from sore knees for years now. When I was 14 I tore the meniscus in my right knee while doing Tae Kwon Do and ended up having surgery to trim and repair it.

For the rest of my teens, my knee didn’t bother me too badly but sometimes I would have a twinge, or my knee would lock. Sometimes I’d have to take a painkiller, but it was rare,

In my early 20s, my work as a vet put more pressure on my dodgy knee. 2 years of large animal work had me lying, kneeling and standing in all sorts of positions, but when I changed to small animal work, things improved slightly. I still had to get down on the floor occasionally, but I coped. I went to the gym and did a lot of cycling and had very few complaints about the way my joints served me.

Once I was 30, things all went downhill. Years of pregnancy, weight gain and carrying children around played havoc with all of my joints, not just my knees. I have remained fairly active but it’s been an effort sometimes, and my use of ibuprofen has risen from ‘every now and again’ to ‘once a day without fail’. My right knee especially has caused me a lot of pain.

In my late 30’s I finally saw a surgeon about it.  The pain was so bad it was waking me up at night and my knee was swollen and sore to touch. X Rays showed I had arthritis on the back of my knee cap and the surgeon recommended a patella scrape, a procedure he was overly cheerful about. ‘You’ll probably wake up from the operation in less pain than you went in’, were his words. He lied.

What followed were three weeks of excruciating pain where my leg was all but useless and I dragged it around like a dead thing. I was in constant pain despite painkillers, and found myself constantly tearful and exhausted. Finally I got some physiotherapy which helped me get function back in my knee, and eventually things improved. But I certainly wasn’t living the pain free life the surgeon had alluded too.

Now in my early 40s, my right knee can vary from day to day in how painful it is. More worryingly, I’m getting twinges in my left knee. and it’s also not just my knees that hurt in the morning. I’ve started to do pilates and stretch frequently and have been trying various nutraceuticals in an effort to reduce my reliance on ibuprofen. I think some have helped a little but my joint pain comes and goes. I’m definitely one of the 72% of people who find my joint pain gets worse during cold, damp, frosty or wet weather. No wonder I’ve been suffering more than usual this winter.

About 6 weeks ago, I got an email asking me if I’d like to review a product called Regenovex. Regenovex is a product formulated to help maintain the health of joints. It contains two functional ingredients from natural sources- a marine oil from NZ Green Lipped Mussels and Hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring lubricant that lubricates and cushions joints. Regenovex comes in three different forms; once-a-day capsules, a gel and a patch that can be worn for up to 12 hours.

I was sent a pack of 30 Regenovex tablets, a pot of gel and two patches to try. The tablets are small and are easily swallowed with no after taste. I took two tablets a day for the the first 10 days, as recommended, then just one a day and I’m happy to report my knees are feeling a lot better, even though I spent a week of this time in below freezing weather in Arctic Norway. I very rarely get achey knees at night now, and when I do, I have used the Regenovex gel on the affected joint with great success. I am less achy all over at night and do feel more flexible. I have also recently started doing a lot of walking and find the gel helps my achy feet as well. I haven’t got to use the patches yet, although I gave one to a friend with a sore back and she reported that it seemed to really help.

I am now on my second pack of Regenovex tablets, and will continue to take them. This pack was purchased from Amazon but the range is also available in most Boots stores. The RRP for 30 capsules is £23.99, the gel £11.29 and the patches are £2.49 each.

I would recommend Regenovex for anyone who has achy joints, whether it’s only one, or seemingly all of them. The tablets have made day to day movement a lot more comfortable generally and have decreased my ibuprofen usage by 1-2 tablets a day. Of course Regenovex products should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women or by anyone with a mollusc/shellfish allergy.

 

Regenovex range

 

Disclaimer: I was supplied with Regenovex products for the purpose of this review but all opinions remain my own.