"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas Day....

Xmas eve was a much later night than anticipated! Emily went to bed with Al at 10.30 and I stayed up, going in a bath at 11.45.Before I got in the bath I checked she was asleep.The snoring I heard led me to believe she was :-) I got in the bath and was surprised when she strolled in to go to the loo! Alan was right behind her as he had heard her get up and wanted to see where she was going.

 She went back to bed and I left it another hour before going up myself,having set things out that I needed to;-)
She was still awake!! I snuggled in with her and she started to cry,she was so scared that Santa wouldn't come because she was awake :-( Her anxiety in the build up to Christmas is, in part, about whether she will get the presents she has wanted. It seems from the conversations we had that a larger part of her worry is that he just won't come at all.This has been the worst year for her in terms of her anxiety/excitement levels.
We have had some conversations about how she still believes Santa is real, even though she has heard some people questioning that.I have a post I want to do on that,and how we might have done things differently from the start, but that will have to wait, as Emily does still read here at times.
We have never told her that Santa wouldn't come if she wasn't good ,she has obviously heard it in many films and from other people and in her mind was playing over the things that might be construed as naughty :-(

 It took quite some time for her to doze off ( I saw 2.30 and she was still awake) and both Alan and I found it difficult to settle.I am sure we both managed to doze of at times.I know I woke at one point when Emily sat up to look over our bed at the clock to see the time(3.30) and then I held her hand til she went off again.the next thing I remember was her waking Alan (he sleeps near the door) excited because there was a stocking on the landing.It was 5.30 and our day began :-)

After the presents were opened and breakfast was had, they took Beauty out.Alan then retired for a couple of hours :-) Emily and I read about the frost dragon she had received and she wrote in her notebook from the wolf conservation trust and read the documents about the wolf adoption we had got her.There was a definite wolf theme to this years gifts.Santa had brought the necklace she had coveted of a wolf howling at the moon,Millie(teenage best friend) had decorated a notebook covering it front and back using images of all the things Emily likes (including wolves,Twilight and New moon images,Percy Jackson,Fairies and lots more) and wrote some inspirational quotes inside the cover and a personal message. She has also drawn a fab picture of a wolf and put it in a lovely frame,and A her cousin had drawn a wolf head and had it transferred onto a T'shirt.
We rang round family members and Emily spoke to A who had rang to thank Emily for her pressies.Getting a phone call from A(best friend) was a lovely surprise and made her very happy.We are normally the ones phoning and making arrangements and Milly feels it is a very one sided friendship and that A is moving away from her :-(

We lit some candles and watched a little TV.

Alan got up and I took my book up and read for a while before having a snooze for an hour.Then back down for a light lunch and after more calls to Alan's side of the family we set off for a walk to Crummock water.Stunning views along the way.

I am having a few probs with my hips at the mo so I opted for the flat path down to the lake and they went of on the more rugged approach.
Milly then climbed her favourite tree :-)

Finds along the way included an icicle and a couple of hearts that Milly spotted!

I thought the last one also looked like an angel,can you see the circles that look like a head and hair?

We were walking for an hour or so and got back home around 4.30 after a stop off at my sisters house for a cuppa.
I made our tea and it was eaten by candle light.
Dr who and a little more TV before Emily and I headed off to bed at 8.00.

I am so glad we have made the change to our day to allow Emily to be who she is. Some of us like to delay gratification and get enjoyment from the wait,some of us really just want to get all our gifts open and then enjoy playing with them slowly.The day goes much smoother now,she is happier and more able to enjoy her gifts.In the past we would always keep some back to open with relatives and knowing she had more to open kept the excitement levels high and constant questions as to when she would be able to open them.This lead to stress all round.

Having opened them all at once last year we talked about what she wanted to do this year and she decided that she would open most of her presents on Xmas morning but would be happy to have our family take their presents for her to my sisters on Boxing day.It worked really well. There was a little excitement about the presents she still had to open but she was calm and able to enjoy the anticipation rather than it taking over.

Last year when we had talked about things she did say that we should keep some back to surprise her in the afternoon of Xmas day, but then having thought about it, she said it wouldn't work because she would know they were there and she would probably keep asking to open them anyway.

We had to question why we were making her wait.I have got past the idea that children need to be taught to delay gratification or the thought that delaying gratification is in any way superior to the sheer joy of opening all your presents and then savouring them afterwards.

I give a present for the recipient to enjoy, I also get some enjoyment from seeing their reaction to opening it, but then that becomes more about my needs rather than the recipients.To my mind, the recipients joy is not reliant on my reaction to seeing the present opened.The present is for them,it should be given without attempts to influence the process and possibly spoil the moment for them.

Alan and I have grown in confidence and are more able to do what we feel is right for us as a family.

Milly knows what works best for her and she no longer needs to feel she is wrong in wanting to open all her gifts at once.

I don't believe she is going to grow up to be a selfish,greedy person.She is just like any other child ,some of the presents were not what she had hoped for,and some of them she didn't like.When she was younger she was (embarrassingly, for me) very vocal and dismissive of the things that held no interest for her.Over the years we have talked about people having the best intentions when buying gifts, but they may not always get it right,and how to be tactful (not lying or being been overly false) so as not to hurt peoples feelings.

She enjoys giving gifts as well as receiving and has picked out some really thoughtful gifts for the people she loves.We do make a point of thanking people for their gifts and do try to follow up with thank you cards.I believe that age will mellow that anticipatory excitement and she will not get quite so wound up.
Most importantly,I hope she will grow with the knowledge that we understood her.She will not grow up feeling bad because she couldn't wait as patiently as some.
I have been writing this on and off over two days ( Saturday and Sunday) Milly has been working her way through her gifts playing with/writing in/watching them.We were watching I Robot this afternoon and she had a folder with paper,envelopes,stickers in and was writing a letter to Amy that she wants to post tomorrow morning when they walk Beauty.She then became rather secretive and didn't want me to look.Then she asked to use a stamp.Shortly after, she went out to the hall and informed us there had been post :-)

Dear Mum and Dad thank you for this wondiful xmas I really love you both verry verry verry much xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Think we are doing something right for her :-)

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Now it really is Christmas eve!!

Been a busy bit very enjoyable day.

We started the day by opening a present.I always get Emily and I some new Xmas pjs and normally open them on the evening but was not sure if  the size I had got her would fit so thought it best to open them early and then we could have changed them if needed because I knew she would have been upset if she couldn't wear her new pjs to bed.Luckily they were the right fit and a big hit.

I will spare you a picture of me in mine ;-))
We finished the housework this morning and then I went into town to pick up a few bits and Alan and Emily took Beauty on a nice long walk.Town wasn't too busy but I was glad not to have to spend too long in there.

Lunch was followed by a brief period of respite before we set out to go into Keswick.Emily had been a few weeks ago with Al and decided it would be a nice to visit the Christmas market and wander round to see the lights on Christmas eve.We did wander and had a lovely time :-) We decided to share a bag of chips from the famous Old Keswickian chippy, tasty and really some of the nicest chips I have ever tasted.The fish is good too:-)

After a good walk round we went on to a friends house for her traditional Xmas eve open house.Had some nice food,did allow myself to have a rather nice buffet including a divine chocolate cheesecake without feeling at all guilty:-)
Saw some well known faces and met a few new.Hazels house is a Christmas wonderland for kids,there are fabulous displays and various singing/moving Santa's etc,all done in the best possible taste ;-) She is very generous and Emily always has a bag of presents to open.
Back home and out for a walk with Beauty,our traditional Xmas eve walk to see if we can see or hear Santa's sleigh.Lovely clear starry night.

Home and Milly had a baked potato ,she doesn't really "do" buffets and said she wasn't hungry due to major excitement.

We watched National Treasure and then Milly wanted to wash her hair.She had said it was feeling itchy and she didn't want anything to stop her getting to sleep and stop santa from coming.I blow dryed it and sang carols with her.

Alan has taken her to bed to read for a while.I am on late shift,Alan would do it, but I never settle on Chritmas eve and he can sleep no matter what!

Emily has asked me to ensure I am in bed by 12,I am going to go in a bath now and ensure she is sound asleep when I get out ;-)

I am expecting another early start to Christmas morning,but we have a very relaxed day in pjs to look forward to so its all good.

Night Night xxx

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Excitement levels high!! Tomorrow is not xmas eve?

Milly has devised a plan to help with the building excitement as the big day draws near :-) Tomorrow is not Xmas eve! She has decided it works if she thinks it is a normal day tomorrow and that way she will be able to get through the day without exploding :-))

Another full on day today,I had to use all my powers of positive thinking to get myself out of bed this morning!!

I was up first and had a chance to have a cuppa and eat breakfast whilst catching up on blogs.

Milly wasn't far behind and I made pancakes for her while she watched TV.I then started on the housework while she played,joining her on and off during the day for play and tickle fights.The first play session I joined her in included our two families (soft toys of various types) who lived near each other.She asked who my family was and I went through the family members and as I got to who the dad was she said it couldn't be because that toy is a female (I love how she remembers the names and where we got each toy and which sex she has allocated them). She suggested they could be lesbians which set us off on a conversation about IVF,sperm donation and adoption amongst other things.I do love how easily we can discuss any topic,it happens so naturally,even when playing with soft toys!

We made Beauty her Christmas breakfast cake.

Beauty is fed on raw food diet ,consisting of chicken carcass most mornings.Alongside this she has lots of leafy veg and other concoctions including grains and starch meals.I used a book called Give your dog a bone . We put all sorts of veg and fruit in the processor and  froze some for the rest of the month.We mixed some with marmite gravy and put it in her bowl with a couple of eggs and cheese on top.It is in the freezer ready to take out on xmas eve.Milly enjoyed doing it and wants to do something for Socks as well.

Alan has now finished work for the holidays and we are looking forward to spending time together.

A bit of shopping tomorrow to get the steaks for our christmas day meal and a few other bits and bobs.We found last year worked so well that we have decided to do the same again.I can't tell you how much less stressed I feel. Being at home just the three of us doing what feels right for us is a joy.

We are at my sisters with the rest of the family on Boxing day for a buffet.Looking forward to that .We are all contributing food and drink and will have some presents to open together.I will still make a full christmas meal but it will be on Sunday.We are thinking we might just get a large organic chicken instead of a turkey but I will see what is there when I go in tomorrow.

I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas,I hope it is exactly what you would like it to be.

Peace and  love

Lynn xxxx

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Last few days....

The last few days have included....

A whole day of batch cooking and freezing, firstly,Spaghetti bolognese and chilli con carne for Emily.I have a special tomato sauce I like to add in alongside the tins of toms I put in.
I boil up any veg I have available with a couple of tins of tomato and some stock,add garlic and basil simmer for quite a while so it reduces and thickens and then blitz and freeze.I use on pizza bases or in these two dishes.It adds a nice rich deep tomato flavour and has all the veggie goodness but in a way that is palatable for Em :-) I cook the bolognese and chilli for a long time on a low heat to make a lovely concentrated sauce.The chilli is frozen on its own to be defrosted and added to cous cous,but I mix the bolognese and pasta and freeze in portions for a very quick but nutritious meal.

I also made some sausage patties from a weight watchers recipe.

I froze them in portions ready for a tasty breakfast or lunch.
I also made a roasted red pepper and butternut squash soup that is very low in points and will be used over the Xmas period for lunches to balance out the festive foods I will be having :-)

There have been wintry walks with dog and Dad...

Not too much snow here but enough to get out with A for a snowball fight.

Making snowflake decorations for the sun room.

Shopping around for samples of wallpaper and paint samples for Emily's bedroom.

She saw some decs that had been reduced and thought they would look nice in her room.This one is now dangling from her dressing table mirror with some artistically positioned red tinsel.

 This one has not yet found a home.

This lovely bauble has been hung on one of the handles on her dressing table.

Playing imaginary games and having tickle fights.


Playing on the computer.

Listening to story Cd's.

Reading Percy Jackson.

Cleaning Emily's room.

Resisting this

and having this instead

 Getting weighed at the weekly meet and losing another 2 1/2 pounds.

Making cookies to take to friends.Twice cos I burnt the first lot:-(
Attending a pixies xmas party,well done again Millie,you really do put on a good party!!

Doing the Christmas food shopping.

Tomorrow is house cleaning, mince pie making and Alan finishes for the holidays :-))

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A week, with a fabulous 90th party and festive decs.....

Alan took a day off on Tuesday so I could go into town for Xmas presents and the weekly food shop.He took over my duties :-) I went out at 10.30 and got back at 4.30.He and Emily had been busy,they had played,cleaned her room,been on a long walk(playing all the way round) and when I got back she was in a bath washing her hair whist Alan read to her.

Wednesday was a very enjoyable home ed group day.We had visitors from another home ed group and it was lovely to put some faces to names I have been reading on the local yahoo list:-) really hoping we get to see them again.There were girls in the group!! We are short on girls in our group.Nothing wrong with boys at all of course ;-) However Milly would love the company of girls.She has been resistant to going to any other group.Doesn't like a car journey and also doesn't think anyone would want to be her friend:-( Perhaps now she has met the children she may feel able to make the step.

After group we went off to town.I had seen a dressing table at Impact housing the day before that I thought she might like.Milly is redesigning her bedroom and has decided she wants old furniture that we can personalise,so we have been checking regularly as they get new things donated all the time.She really loved the dressing table it has two deep drawers and a large three fold mirror.The chest of drawers I thought was perfect got the thumbs down though ,not to her taste! £20 for the dressing table is a bargain, now we have to decide on how to personalise it.We are talking about black gloss(she is having red walls,one white near her bed so she can draw on that one and wants red and black accessories) and then we will do some decoupage, using images she either draws or we pull off the Internet, then varnish it to finish.She knows exactly what she wants and I am putting ideas forward if I think she might like it, but I want her to have free reign to really design her room herself.

We had booked the car in for a couple of things to be checked out on Thursday and decided to take Beauty with us in the car to the garage and then walk back home.It was a fab sunny day and a very enjoyable walk back.We played an imaginary game and chatted the whole way back.Mum arrived just as we got home and we all had lunch together.I then got in a long bath and read while they spent time together.Mum took us to visit my sister and nephew. We picked up the car and headed home.Milly then decided she would like to go out with Alan and Beauty again.

Friday began in leisurely fashion,Milly had a lie in.She is soooo excited about Xmas and has had a couple of late nights because she just can't switch off to sleep, so she really needed to catch up. I managed to work my way through some paperwork and phone calls.Alan was going out to his works Christmas lunch from work and would not be back until later than usual so we decided to take beauty out to save him a job.It was another lovely crisp day and we had a good walk and got home to get ready to go into town to see Deirdre(our homeopath).It was the first time we had been into Cockermouth since the floods and we felt quite emotional to see the whole of the high street with scaffolding and boards up.The road was full of skips and builders vans.The reality of peoples lives turned upside down hit home.

We got back home just before Alan did and Emily asked if he would go out for a walk with her and Beauty while I got tea ready.Milly loves to walk and play her imaginary games with us ,so it is ideal to incorporate that with exercising Beauty:-)

Saturday was spent in Ripon celebrating the 90th birthday of my Nana.Car journeys can be trying as Milly really gets herself worked up.However she had made a deal with herself that if she was "good" (her word) and had a nice day then Xmas day would go as she had planned it to:-) we all had a good time.

Nice to see Nana looking well .There were loads of family members I have not seen for many years.I do wish I was better at these kind of things,I never find it easy to "mingle" at parties, even if they are family, we still don't know each other! I sat next to one of Nanas friends called Win who was in her late 80's but she was a fab character,really cheeky and great company. Milly had baby (not so much a baby now at 2 1/2) Emma calling out for her and sat and coloured with her.Emma fell in love with Emily on our last trip to Ripon in June.

I had said I would get up this morning and see to Beauty so Al could have a lie in but he said he would get up.I heard Milly getting up around 9 but felt I was stuck to the bed! My eyes just would not stay open.I surfaced and Emily and Alan went off for an icy winter walk.I got on with cleaning and making a chili for tea( I sometimes use braising steak instead of mince and long slow cooking in the oven makes for a lovely thick sauce with the meat falling apart mmmmm) they came back after a couple of hours ready for lunch!

This afternoon has been car washing (Milly voluntarily helping AL out) and decoration making, to make the hall a little festive. I gathered a box of foliage from the garden.I was armed with gold spray and red paint and lots of pine cones we got from our walk last weekend :-)

We set about making bits and bobs ;-) Milly sat with me chopping foliage and a sponge to make her own little tea light dec:-)

Some pics of the finished hallway.Sorry about some blurry pictures.Hydrangea heads and pine cones, dried and sprayed gold add a bit of  bling to the candle wreath,mirror decs and the vase of foliage.



Just finished a very very yummy chilli and am now going to curl up on the settee to watch X factor results :-)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Slowly but surely..

The weightwatchers meeting I go to has not been on the last few weeks,the church hall one of the many casualties of the flood.It was held in another venue tonight and although it is a journey that would normally take five minutes we were stuck in traffic for 50 mins!! Because the bridge is down in Workington people are having to travel long distances to get home and it is causing massive tailbacks and the smaller villages are being used in an attempt to find a shortcut.

We made it just in time for me to get weighed,3 lbs lost :-)) Total loss of 19lbs in around 3 months.Slowly but surely getting down to my goal weight of 11 st 7 .I have found it surprisingly easy to follow.I am taking each day at a time and am not banning any foods,if I feel like something I will have it.It is easy to do with the plan as you have the ability to save points and earn activity points.I wear a pedometer and that turns my steps into extra points and acts as a real incentive to be more active.It is quite amazing how many steps I can accumulate just going about my normal day to day activities in the house.

I have also found alternatives to fattening foods that I love like crisps,Weightwatchers do some nice things but they are expensive and alternatives can be found with the same point value but a more reasonable price,sainsbury do a very nice baked crisp that hits the spot:-) I found some caramel rice cakes in Aldi and I can have 5 of these (very slim) with a thin spread of peanut butter and a chopped banana as a sweet snack when I want one.I often get a craving for something savoury on a night so I have taken to having a cup of hot water with an oxo crumbled in and this usually takes away the craving.Sugar free jelly is another thing I have in the fridge all the time now.

I am eating so much more food than I was before,I eat regularly throughout the day and make sure that if I go out I always carry a snack.I am much more organised.I have always done a weekly menu plan but now work out all the point values for each day and I have been making meals to freeze so I have very healthy "ready meals" in the freezer labeled with the point value for the days when I am not able to cook.

I love food and refuse to eat bland! I adapt recipes to suit my taste as I know this will be key in the long run to sticking with it and not feeling deprived.

Here is a recipe I made last week that was a big hit for me and even my more traditional food loving husband loved it.

Servings: 4 ( I had 2 portions to freeze)

Preparation Time: 15 min

Cooking Time: 50 min

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Roasted sweet vegetables combine with cracked wheat for a full flavoured, sunrise-coloured, comforting dish.
5 spray low-fat cooking spray, low-fat
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into eighths and then in half
4 medium carrot(s), peeled and sliced in half and then into wedges
1 portion butternut squash, seeds removed, peeled, and flesh cut into small pieces (I also added 2 red onions and sprinkled dried rosemary over everything before roasting)
100 g dried bulgar wheat
600 ml fresh stock, vegetable (I used chicken stock and white wine)
2 sprig fresh mint, small bunch, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220ºC/425ºF and place all the vegetables in a large roasting tin.
Spray with the cooking spray and season then roast for 30 mins, turning occasionally, until softened and charred on the edges.
Transfer into a large saucepan and add the wheat and the boiling stock and seasoning. Stir together, cover and leave for 20 mins.
Add the mint and taste to check the seasoning before serving.

This was delicious! It could be eaten alone but as the oven was on to roast the veg I put two chicken breasts in foil parcels, poured over  a couple of tbs of sweet chilli sauce before sealing and cooking.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Bits and bobs.

Things have been a bit tough here,Alan had a week off work with a cough/cold,he spent most of that time in bed so I was nursey :-) Emily was also unwell for a few days that overlapped so it was pretty full on.AL got back to work but Milly was still under the weather and wanting to stay at home so we haven't been up to much. 

We had family over for a meal and I always ask Milly if she wants to set the table.She quite often says yes and on each and every occasion she does it in her own style:-)We have had flowers and individual chocs put into bun cases on each place setting,we have had packets of table glitter and place cards decorated specifically for each guest.On this occasion she set about making a table banner with BIG HAPPY FAMILY in the middle and hearts all around and then made place names with stickers.All the stickers conveyed a trait or something relevant to each guest (mine is below) and had their deamons name on as well.

we had a great meal and a fun evening.The next day I couldn't get out of bed! All the nursing and Xmas shopping and the busy family day topped off by a cold meant I needed a couple of days to recoup.

Sadly we missed a few meetings with friends,we settled into a few days of doing very little apart from watching TV.

Things have picked up since Friday and we have been busy bees.
W made some bird feeders,simply cover some cones with a mixture of peanut butter and oil(I made this too thin and will make it thicker next time)Then cover with seed and hang out.

The day then flowed from one thing to another with little effort.Browsing the bookshelves,perfecting juggling,checking out her birth chart,lunch, music and mask making.

Always time for cuddles!

Saturday was Christmas tree day,we managed to combine a walk for Beauty and a play on a park for Emily as well as buying the tree all in one place.We also got a look at the Go ape course and Milly is keen to have a go when it reopens in Feb.I managed to gather some cones with plans for some festive decorations for the hallway.

Today was to be tree decorating this morning and then a visit to a local Christmas Fayre in the afternoon.Plans were changed so I could have some time alone to wrap presents.The morning was taken up with decorating the tree and lots of soft toy play.After lunch Al and Emily went off to Crummock water with Beauty for a very long windy walk.Three hours later they came back to hot chocolate and waffles with maple syrup.I had a chicken in the oven and we all sat down together to watch a film.

Happy days!