Tuesday, 3 March 2015

You're The Devil In Disguise

Yes you are. The X-box. I'm convinced of it. As I mentioned in a previous post our little devil is now in the loft.  Its been up there for nearly 4 weeks and I have to say the house is a happier place without it. I no longer have to shout, at various times during the weekend, "COME OFF IT NOW!"  That was becoming number one on my top 10 mothering phrases.

So why the hating on the X-box? Asides from it eating away the soul of my eldest it was highly addictive. Now you won't find many parents who don't say "we limit the amount of time they play on it" but the truth is, yes there is a limit, but 9 times out of 10 the limit has been exceeded. This is easily done as you lose track of time - you can get stuff done. Its harder to be regimented with the use of the x-box.  The kids are happy. You want your kids to be happy and you're able to get on with jobs minus interruption. Its easy parenting. Its lazy parenting. Its armchair parenting. 

My son only played on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He always came off when he was told but the time at the weekends were slowly increasing. He would play in the morning come off - go back on maybe after lunch and that would be fine. We'd get out for a walk, he'd do his chores, guinea pigs etc. All was okay. Then slowly he wanted to play a bit before tea and then after tea.  

In addition, prior to this increase in game play, we let him have one hour (which was regulated) on a Tuesday and Wednesday when our youngest was in bed so he wasn't exposed to game play.  He is doing well at school and has never really been any great hassle to manage - where's the harm?

Well then that wasn't enough. He wanted to play on a Monday, he wanted to play before our youngest was in bed, he started to count down when he could next go on the X-box, when we were out he was asking what the time was - working out how much X-box time he could get in during the day. When he wasn't on the X-box he was on youtube looking at people playing his chosen game!! Are alarm bells starting to ring yet?  

In addition to all of this, I noticed a shift in his behavior (which could also be put down to his age - 11) he was more aggressive, swearing and generally a bit of an arse.  The final straw was when he'd joined a forum to ask for more players on his chosen game - Destiny.  

The plug was pulled.  I googled "son addicted to x-box" and the sheer scale of the problem is quite disturbing.  Mother's across the land saying exactly the same thing - one mother even said her son had started to punch her if he couldn't play his game. She hadn't told her husband as she didn't quite know what to do.  And if you want to really get a feel for how devastating having their X-box removed is for boys (primarily) then search it on youtube. Comical and disturbing in equal measure.

As exciting as watching TV indoors as a child in the 1970s/80s. For those of you too young this fixed screen appeared before some crap programme was about to start!
The trouble with this technology is we don't really know the effects of what it is doing to their young brains but I don't need to be a scientist to get a fair idea and it ain't pretty. In particular X-box live is a huge problem as the game is always live so the player feels they are letting down the team if they come off.  So you'll find your child can't just play an X-box game anymore it has to be live to make it worth their while.

No wonder we went outside for hours on bikes, skateboards, roller skates or played 'knock down ginger' where you'd knock on some poor old fella's door and run away. Hard core! 

So yes the plugged was pulled as ultimately I am the parent and know best. I regained control of the situation. I knew this was going to end badly.  My son, naturally, wasn't best pleased and thought it was the end of his life. I joked that he was on suicide watch for the first week but all jokes asides he was depressed about this turn of events.  He would flit between being okay to then remembering his world had been taken away from him.

Things brightened up in the 80's with a cassette and headphones after, of course, taping the Top 40 on Radio 1 on a Sunday evening. Some of us mastered the art of hitting the pause button before the next advert.

By week 2 there was a vast improvement and by week 3 we were pretty much home and dry. He'd gone cold turkey and whilst there were times when I wanted to give in and hand back his X-box - my hubbie talked sense and said "if he were a heroin addict would you give it back?" Of course not. An addiction is an addiction and whilst the child is going to hate you ultimately you're doing it because you love them. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Enter this bad boy - the height of technology with Tetris but even then we weren't addicted!
I have seen the effects of a youngster who was allowed unsupervised access to their laptop (taken to bed, no restrictions etc) from this age and was very bright. They are unable to function properly outside their virtual world which they seek comfort from. They are now failing at everything unable to focus their mind on anything other than mindless social platforms. Sad thing is they'll soon have years to do this as their prospects are bleak. Had restrictions been put in place and proper parenting then the outcome would certainly have been very different.

In the grand scheme of things the percentage of when your child is at secondary 11-18 is a short compared to their life in total. However, the impact of that short time affects the rest of their life.

Our favorite family game at the moment 
I know of parents that let their children have their x-box in their room. This will all end in tears. One parent found her son playing in the middle of the night. If you're child is doing well at school prepare for them not to be and if they're not doing well (incidentally most who aren't spend more time on their X-box than they do on their homework) well have a think about why that is.  Even high schools are noticing this distraction is having a negative impact on education. I looked up my son's high school reading recommendation list for year 7 and at the top it said "we know its hard to get children off computer games".  What a sad state of affairs when schools are having to say can you please get your child read a book.

I've told my son that when he's 18 and on benefits (if he'll get benefits by that time and its not just workhouses) he can play all the X-box games he likes.  He'll have hours to waste as will all his friends. This was after he said his friends were allowed to play for hours. These friends are also in booster groups at school and will always be trying to catch up. I bet they're on some great level on Destiny or Halo though as that'll stand them in good stead won't it? 

The best thing about all of this is the good old family activities that have emerged following the removal of technology. We've discovered Blue Peter and its competitions, draughts, darts, art competitions and crafting. The 1st week also happened to be half term but the kids decided to make body armour using recycling. Because they knew they weren't going on the X-box they would stay engaged in activities for longer.  There were no more countdowns when out for walks and life has been pretty good.  We may re-introduce it for Minecraft as my daughter wasn't addicted and is now unable to play her favourite game but I am very reluctant to do so at the moment. They have had the use of the Wii to do dancing and sports when it was cold and I've found that to have far less of an addictive influence. 

In any event, I'm pleased to say I've got my son back!  You have been warned!

Until next time...

Friday, 27 February 2015

3 out of 3

Finally, I completed Week 3 on the C25K app after a 4 week absence. It feels good just to be back in the game and free of pain and sickness.  I also completed my root canal treatment although I have to go back on Monday - seriously at this rate me and the dentist are going to soul mates -for my 'inlay' by all accounts this is the final stop before a crown. I also have to go back for another two teeth but will save that for next month as its crippling me!

I have to say I'm fed up with winter now. I'm bored with it. Today was a crisp sunny day and I saw the glimpse of crocuses coming up through the ground. Roll on spring time.  I'm feeling very fired up at the moment.  I'm excited for the blog - I have some things in the pipeline and feel a make-over is well over due as is the possibility of going 'self hosted' as they say in the game. To you and me that means having a .com address for the blog.

In addition to this finger in the blogging pie, I thought about selling cakes again. I used to sell them when no bugger was selling them. I didn't really take it further but its now so easy with the use of facebook. Its a great platform its much easier to start out in something that takes your fancy. In the old days you'd have to set up a website which would be costly and what not. The internet is wonderful for start up businesses. Anyhow, I'm not going to push it - just see where it takes me. I'm going organic.

I'm also thinking all frugal like. I happened to click on a mortgage over payment calculator type thing and if I were to magically have £200 extra a month (pah ha ha) you can reduce the term by 3 years. That's a big chunk off.  Speaking of which, this lady has been around for a while but is a great blog for all things frugal. Check her out at www.frugalqueen.co.uk - she might save you a whole bunch of cash!

Giving another shout out is this charming French teenager - yes you heard me right French, Teenager and Charming?!! He does cute youtube video clips of his baking creations. I found this fabulous one on giant cupcakes that I'm going to try out at the weekend. He also writes a blog in French and English. I would love to see him on UK telly - Mary Berry has had her day! Let the youngsters have a go! Check out William's cakes here.

So that's this weeks round up. I have my X-box rant to come up very shortly.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Minecraft Themed Party with Balloon Time

If you don't know what Minecraft is then..well...what can I say. Actually your life is probably fine and dandy and if you haven't a clue then I salute you! For those of us who are in the know, then I hope this post gives you a few ideas if you fancy staging one for yourself.

I have to say whilst there are loads of images for Minecraft cakes there isn't a huge stash of party supplies for Minecraft, however, there are some fabulous blogs out there giving great links to various Minecraft ideas. In particular, I like this one by MineMum where I was directed to free Minecraft invites that I could print off and other great ideas.

My brief was "I want Stampy LongNose, a creeper and dog figure. I think I filled the brief.
So, firstly the cake.  I managed to steer clear of using lots of little squares. I copied this cake idea from the vast selection of Minecraft cakes on google. I made this out of 3 chocolate cakes and literally threw it together in my trade mark bish, bosh, bash style when I have to make a cake during half term.  I put oreos in there, blackcurrent jam and covered the outside with chocolate butter cream with smashed up oreos to create a soil effect. I also had some black edible dust kicking around (as you do) so dabbed that on too. The top was pretty straightforward a square of green fondant and then green piping for the grass. Mental note to self and everybody out there adding colour makes buttercream go runny. I always forget. Then I added the figures which I hated doing as my daughter kept interrupting me every 10 minutes to see how I was getting on. They were all booted outside in the garden at this point.


For the Minecraft decorations, my daughter had made little signs like "gold" and "sticks" which we laminated and placed by the food. I ordered a green grass effect table cloth, creepy balloons, gold and silver paper plates/cups (as per daughter's instructions). Luckily a friend had off loaded her Minecraft paper boxes when she moved house which was perfect for putting on the table for decorations. We also used those boxes in pass the parcel with a chocolate inside. 

Square sandwiches and lots of blocks!

Of course we had to have 'lava'

Now I'm not one for staging parties and what not but even I was impressed with myself!  We used a treasure chest pinata and took off the pirate sign. 

My daughter's cakes all decorated by herself 
The balloon time helium pack was perfect for the finishing touches.  It only retails at £22 and you get 30 balloons included. I already had balloons but I will keep the ones in the box for future parties.  At first myself and the hubster thought the tank was empty. This is because we don't do reading instructions even if they are basic. Its very simple. You put the balloon over the nozzle turn the tap and then push down on the valve to inflate the balloon (we omitted to do that part in the first instance).  Once you do a few you soon get up to speed. I think you do need another pair of hands to tie the balloon etc.

The Minecraft balloons ready to go 
After actually reading the instructions the balloons started to fill up!

We only had one casualty
 We used all our Minecraft balloons and still have enough helium left over for my son's party in May. Given that I have often spent £6 to get two special balloons filled up at my local shop - I think this is fantastic value for money and will probably never have a party again without this handy kit.  I did think mmmm but I bet its a bugger to recycle. Fear not though - on the website it details how to recycle the cylinder - you do need a few handy bob the builder tools but seeing as my husband is Bob the Builder this isn't going to be a problem.
Have some of that!!

I don't do themed birthday parties but if I did.......
Tah dah!

One Happy 9 year old - I'm liking my new face!
I'm working with BritMums and Balloon Time as part of the "Celebration Club", highlighting inventive and fun ways of using balloons. I was provided with a Balloon Time helium kit and have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. 

Visit www.balloontime.com for more information and party inspiration.

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Pig Parent Part II

There were some seriously freaky pig mask pictures on google. In fact, I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep tonight. Are you a Pig Parent? Do you rustle your way through multipacks of crisps during a 90 minute film?! Pic Google

Just when I thought I had exhausted all avenues of ranting during the lifetime of this blog then WHAM! I appear to have be re-ignited in this department. I think it may have to do with the fact the that my son is now older - more of which later. Now where to start? Firstly, I have written about 'Pig Parkers' you know the ones that just kamikaze up to the car park without a care in the world. They normally park in such a way you 1) cannot park in the empty space next to them as they've literally crossed the line 2) you need a shoe horn to get out of the car 3) when exiting the two spaces they've taken up they can't be bothered to look out for pedistrians. I've often dreamt of just opening an instagram account soley for pig parker pictures. I must do that soon.  Whilst on that theme, have you noticed the speed in which people rock on up to a McDonalds drive thru? Seriously how desperate are you for your Fillet O Fish?! Does anyone eat those anymore? Remember the ad - "Fillet O Fish for my wife." Well if you don't check out the Youtube clip below - it took extensive research to dig that one out I can tell you.

I digress. So this is where 'The Pig Parent' stems from. I wrote about them in this blog post after a visit to the park. I like the title so much, more so then 'mums that need a slap', that I've decided its worthy of a squeal.

I used to enjoy the cinema (or cinema's as my children still call it) - watch a film, relax. Nice and easy. Have you been to the cinema for a kids showing (the adult films are much the same) recently? For the love of god STOP with the fucking picnics.  I can barely hear the film with all the incessant munching going on. You will eat again.  You will not die of starvation. Can you not last 2 hours (1 hour 30 mins for kids films) without troughing constantly.  Take Paddington bear for instance - a massive party of kids settled behind us on the back row and the party leader - had two carrier bags full of mutlipacks of crisps. The noise from that was just incredible.  

Now, I'm no kill joy and I do allow my kids to have a few nibbles. But the emphasis is on a few. I make up a small sandwich bag of a few treats i.e a handful of popcorn or like today a few minstrels and maltesers. I wasn't a bucket load and a fruity water bottle. I try and eliminate the need for rustling and if my kids do think fiddling around with the bag is acceptable its my job to tell them not to for the consideration of  others. Shame the rest of the parents in the cinema don't think about others.  

To add to my cinema woos today we went to a cheap deal showing of  The Book of Life - I actually thought it would be The Book of Shite but it was actually a rather pleasant film. Its very colourful and I liked the whole Mexican theme/tradition going on. Cue two mum's behind me who thought, seeing as it was just a kids film, they would chat intermittently throughout the entire performance. I mustered up all the energy I could not to demand "would you chat like this during an adult film?" but decided the answer would probably be yes.  Another pig parent in the venue thought that a baby crying was an insufficient enough reason to leave the cinema.  

That's where being a parent of an older child (11) I think is affecting my tolerance but I'm pretty sure I would have walked out of the venue had my baby started to cry. Basically parents of younger children piss me off no end. They seem to have notched up a gear in the inconsideration stakes and your older child isn't worthy in their eyes. They shouldn't be playing with their siblings in an area that is designated for younger ones even if they're just minding my little Buddy.  They look at you in disgust if you cross a crossing when the green man isn't present - my son needs to be able to cross a road in the absence of a green man and when his mum isn't around. 

But parents of younger children are not the only Pig Parent offenders - no the parents of older are probably worse. Why? Because they're the ones that let their children play 18 rated x-box games and the like.  They give them not just an x-box, a playstation and a TV in their room and treat them like mini adults. They'll later be moaning about the fact they're groan up so quick. Err you don't say - look a bit closer to home for answers to that one.

I have a separate post on this one entirely as our X-box has now been banned and is currently sitting in the loft. In short, my son was becoming addicted. He feels its somewhat unjust given he's doing really well at school - which I would like to stay that way. I had a little glance at his new High School and they give a suggested reading list - sadly at the top it said something along the lines of we know its hard to get your child to stop playing the x-box/playstation but if they could read that would be great. For the love of god - stop the maddness!!!!

As you were. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Monday Chit Chat

I am alive!! Literally - this is what I told my friend after having my root canal treatment. It wasn't too bad at all.  I can't say I enjoyed it but it certainly wasn't painful unlike my abscess which was horrendous.  I was in the chair for an hour and have a repeat performance in two weeks time.  Today, we made another trip to the dentist - as a family (minus the hubster who hasn't graced a dentist in over 30 years).  The kids are fine - still no fillings. Although my eldest may have slight decay - to my astonishment he had a glass of milk this evening. Clearly the thought of a filling is making him see his diet in a different light. He doesn't eat lots of sweets - you might as well give a child a spoonful of sugar if you do that - but he's not a great one for eating veg, fruit and protein. I think I might be able to use the threat of a filling as leverage.

1970s Milk Bottle - pic ebay
So, its half term and so far so good. After the dentist we went to celebrate our good teeth (although I need the other molar to have a re-filling and another tooth filled #sigh) with some cake at the vintage tea rooms. These places are very nice but I do wonder how much profit they make. Not as much as my dentist that's for sure - we'll be the best of friends at this rate. I reckon a chi ching sound goes off when I enter the room these days. Anyhow, back to vintage -  I think lots will spring up all over the place a bit like the cupcake boom.  I had a chicken sandwich and a sneaky cappuccino.

So week 4 of no running - I am going to re-start when the kids go back to school on my week 3 which includes the 3 min run. The inches are still down - 1 off my arm, 4 off my tum, 1 under the bust but none from my widest part i.e arse. I am about to enter the Race for Life to give me a goal in June.

Tomorrow, we have cheap movie tickets and a friend over, Wednesday its cake baking for my daughter's Minecraft party on Saturday and possibly another friend over, Thursday over to Cath's and Friday hopefully Big Hero 6 if the purse strings will allow and my friend and her 3 kiddies hope to pop over, Saturday is the party and Sunday is hockey - so not much then!

In other news, I will do my food saver review!  I need to for my fondant icing and I'm actually looking forward to using it.

Be back soon.....

Monday, 9 February 2015

Abscess Absence

Yarp. Not content with being ill 2 weeks ago I thought I'd add to my state of victim mode by having an abscess on my tooth. Monday I took a bite on something and then had this intense pain - I thought it might go but it had other ideas. By Tuesday I'm thinking mmm really should be gone by now - by Wednesday I was rolling around the floor wailing like a banshee. I actually cried with the pain - I didn't cry during childbirth.  The difference between this pain and childbirth is that during labour you actually get a break from the pain (not at the end). You don't get a break with toothache. The word toothache doesn't really do it justice.  Anyhow, I am still alive to tell the tale. Just.

I only managed to get to see my dentist on the Thursday who promptly gave me antibiotics.  Stupidly I thought I'd be right as rain within a few hours. It is Tuesday and I am only just about pain free!  I even visited an emergency dentist to see if I could get the abscess drained. The rather po faced dentist told me it wasn't big enough and to expect it to get bigger. What a biatch!! I can't believe in this day and age you get sod all for pain relief for an abscess.

The root (excuse the pun) for all my troubles was a hatchet job on my molar about 10 years ago. We moved to a different area (pre kids) and my husband suggested the dentist that lived above the pizza place. My gut instinct was not to go to a dentist that housed itself above a pizza parlour but hubster told me not to be so snobby.  I have since blamed him for my dodgy root canal every since.  I only went in for a check up with no pain and pizza dentist starting initiating root canal there and then. Not content with one drilling session I had to go back a second time and pay over £400 for the privilege.

I never went back and have never trusted a dentist again. I do have a dentist that is 20 minutes away from where we now live.  I am too scared to move having regained a ounce of trust in this one.  I probably should just join the one that is in our street.  Anyhow, it was bad job and was always infected. It has lasted over 10 years but my time was up. So to cut a long story short I have a re-root canal booked for Friday. I can get it on the NHS which will be half the £400 but by all accounts the private treatment will be a better job.

Now call me an argumentative old cynic but surely if you're doing the same treatment and have any shred of integrity the NHS treatment should be just the same? I mean if my leg was broken would a surgeon that also did private treatment and work at an NHS hospital do a patch up job? Its meant to be a vocation isn't it? I think I might just give my dentist all the pin numbers for my credit cards whilst I'm at it. So I'm about to get shafted big time on Friday. Can't wait.

Thank you Nessa x

To add to my misery, my sister had prepared her fine dining experience for me and the hubster. My husband was looking forward to this immensely as the food in this house, with fussy little fuckers, means its bland.  They don't like this, they don't like that. We were going to sample adult food god dam it.  So the 5 course meal was dished up to my other sister.

I think its fair to say I could have happily overdosed on pain killers this week - my husband read that a woman had killed herself by her over enthusiastic self mediation for earache. Easily done. I was popping pills like I used to pop lemon sherbets as a youngster. See above for effects of that.

So, no bloody jogging for week 3.  Might get out on Wednesday but seeing as I'm so far behind schedule its unlikely.  The kids are also off  - today and tomorrow due to a burst water main at the school.

The food I didn't get to eat 

On a positive note, my sister did send me some lovely flowers which was very thoughtful given that she had gone to a lot of effort Saturday and was just as disappointed.  I have lost 7lbs in weight and my stomach at its fattest has gone down by 4 inches since January.

So, my recommendation for fast efficient weight loss is to get a large abscess - not enough for the NHS to actually do anything though - I blame a 5 year term of nasty Tories who don't give a toss about anyone - then get an abscess on your tooth.

Oh nearly forgot the results of my blood tests showed I didn't have an underactive thyroid (fat excuse no 104 ticked off) but am anemic.  I have always had a bit of history of low iron levels - funnily enough I didn't feel tired or anything but my hands have been a bit dry.  I'm now on black poo tablets.

So that's all my news - be back soon to review the food saver and hopefully I'll be fit and healthy to carry on with my C25K programme.

Be back soon

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Saturday Sick Chat

Oh my, what a week!  I was all geared up to repeat week 3 of my C25K and sure enough on Monday I trotted off in the cold and wet and completed day 1 of Week 3 again then it all went tits up by Wednesday.

Pretty sure I don't do any of this!  I normally have bits I've purchased from co-op on my back - picture google pics
I normally give myself a rest day so as not to damage my 40 something bones and joints but by Wednesday I was feeling ropey, the hubster was already confined to our bed and the little fella had been sick and was sporting a high temperature. The best laid plans and all that #sigh.  So we were as sick as a small hospital in this household.  At one point all three of us were huddled up in bed together - which actually was rather nice albeit in a literally sick way.  Myself and the hubster took it in turns to hurl ourselves out of bed to look after the little fella and to do the school run.  I looked the paler of the two so got out of the freezing cold weather for the afternoon run. Go me!  I've always said there is nothing  worse than being ill and looking after small children.  You have to master the art of crawling again and willing the hours to count down until bedtime when you can just flake out.

I love nothing more than to cosy up with the kids and watch Wallace & Gromit - this is reason number 38  to have children as is Christmas time which is probably no#1 - oh and that they are really good fun when they're not telling you you're a wanker (in child like terms) although am sure the 11 year old will tell me that directly. All in good time.
In any event, the little fella appeared to be better by the afternoon. He indulged in a bit of Wallace and Gromit as did I as I couldn't move off the sofa and by Thursday I, to, was feeling a tad better. He whinged going into school but then he is a bit of a whinger so nothing new there.  When I got him in the afternoon - he looked very pale and I was told he fell asleep in the afternoon. Sure enough when I got him home he fell asleep at 4.30pm until about 10 am the next day.  Bad Mummy.  Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200. By the way, I appear to have rotten luck in this game my daughter whizzes around the board hoovering up all the affluent properties. I digress.

So he was off again Friday and has only really got better this afternoon. It would seem to be the case given his current condition playing Minecraft with his sister.  Speaking of which, she has decided on a Minecraft party this year. We've planned the cake, cupcakes and all the decorations and are most excited.

Steve is the main man - pic amazon where you can buy all things Minecraft 

So, the diet has been good but exercise non existent and I will certainly be raising a glass of water (I'm not allowed wine at the mo) when I finally complete the 8 week course.  What the C25K doesn't allow for is sick family members and being sick yourself. So once again I shall (on my 3rd attempt) complete week 3 of this programme. I am determined to finish it.

Speaking of exercise, I have enquired about my son joining a local Hockey club - he loves playing this at school as he does football (another enquiry although some mum's have given me the low down on football clubs and it doesn't sound appealing - training, parents etc etc).  I am sick of that bloody x-box which is his main hobby. He loves playing Destiny, Halo and Plant V Zombies which is all very well but a bit of sport will cut his gaming time.

So that's all my news. My husband is the diet police following on from my visit to the doctors this week. I am on tablets for my acid reflux (I went with a list of saved up aliments and was most impressed when he booked me in for an MOT set of blood tests, an x-ray and a course of treatment #saveourNHS) however, he feels that it will return when I stop them and will more than likely have to have a camera go down my oesophagus. Please god sedate me for that one.  I'm hoping I have more of a thyroid problem - every fat persons excuse - rather than issues with my stomach so we shall see.  In any event, I got a doctors appointment that morning and already have a dates for everything else.

I WILL be reviewing my food saver shortly - I think it'll be perfect for all my fondant that I buy for cake making as its a bugger to stop it drying out.

Until next time....