Friday 31 December 2010

Fitness Friday

I have decided to sign up to be a "healthier Monkey"  as part of my healthier me pledge in 2011 (failed in 2010!)

Name: Becky
Blog: Lakes Single Mum
Twitter: @LakesSingleMum

Starting Weight: too much to put on here!
Target Weight: 11.5 Stone
Amount Lost: N/A
Amount to Lose: lots

Dress Size: 16 
Target Dress Size: 12/14

2011... resolutions or not?

Is there any point in making New Year's resolutions? How many will be broken before the end of January? Hands up if you make the same ones every year only to fail to keep them...

So maybe we should make positive affirmations instead? Then we are less likely to fail and maybe actually get somewhere!

Here are mine:
I will get into better shape!

I will finish moving into my new home!

I will encourage my kids to be tidier - by leading by example!

I will start working out how to get myself off benefits and self-sufficient!

There you go that's nice and easy....

Thursday 30 December 2010

100 Books Challenge 2011

I admit I never properly kept track of the number of books I read in 2010 after challenging myself to read 100 books. I am sure I managed it as some weeks I read 3 books so hoping I did it...

So this year I'm going to try and be more committed by signing up to Book Chick City's 100 book challenge. Will see if I can finish off my latest C J Sansom - Heartstone before the end of tomorrow and then watch this space to see how I do!

If you want to join in then click on the link above or the icon appearing at the side of my blog and give yourself a challenge.

My year in photographs

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Monopoly - Like Marmite Love it or Hate it?

My 7 year old is really getting into Monopoly now. I started her on the Junior version a few years ago but tonight she was launched on the proper grown up version. She couldn't remember what the game was called when wanting to play at my parents and called it "Pinocchioply". Eventually we worked out what she wanted and my parents volunteered to play (I was distracting her little brother with a sticker book he got).

Monday 27 December 2010

My blog year in review

This has been the most amazing year of changes for me. It started with me working as a part time IT technician working in East Sussex schools whilst trying to balance single parenting 2 children and coping with sorting out the family home. Looking back to January I was hoping to get in shape for my big 40th birthday in October and read 100 Books over the year. Well I failed at the first and I'm not sure if I managed with the latter! I also tried my hand at Sleep is for the Weak's Writing Workshop.

I then had to decide in February whether or not to stay in Hastings or to move up to Kendal and in either case prepare to move to somewhere smaller. This downsizing operation took many months and required plenty of help from my fabulous friends and family. In March I had my first Guest Post from My Baby Adventure, I think this is a lovely way to add a new dimension to your blog. Another first that month was my Gallery post which I have found a fun challenge this year.

Friday 24 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 24: Christmas Angels

We've had a lovely start to the Christmas weekend with a children's service at our local church. When we got there they were looking for volunteers to dress up for a nativity. My 4 year old son turned down the opportunity to be a shepherd and opted to be an angel instead. He was kitted out with a chorister's surplice and a tinsel halo. His big sister asked to be a king and was glad in a cardboard crown and a velvet cloak.

By the time the service started a full cast of children were suitably attired. As the service went on each group was ushered on stage at the appropriate moment with the Innkeeper being acted by a rehearsed teenager and other parts voiced by adults. They then disappeared behind the curtain. In between we all sang carols. It made an interesting cast from age 2 upwards.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 23: Christmas Bugs

Why is it that so many of us or our families from coughs, colds and flu at the moment? It makes for a real downer on the Christmas celebrations when all people want to do is curl up in bed with a box of tissues!

A combination of bad weather keeping us all indoors plus lots of communal events such as school nativities and pre-Christmas parties are all helping to spread the nasty bugs that are doing the rounds. It doesn't help that many people seem to have lower immunity at the minute as they have so much going on they don't have time to take care of themselves.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Christmas Countdown Day 22: Christmas Theatre

Like many families we have a tradition of going to see a Christmas show or pantomime during the school holidays. For the last couple of years this has been at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal. This is a fabulous complex offering theatre, cinema, gigs, bars and cafes in its range of buildings. This year to have a bit of a change from a panto the Christmas show was Danny Champion of the World staged by the Spike Theatre company.

The Gallery: Love

It's that time of the week when Tara at Sticky Fingers challenges to post a photo or photos to fit this week's theme. This week its love which is a chance to look at some soppy photos from my archives!

Siblings that love each other really and so cuddle in their sleep:

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 21: Digital Christmas

I saw this over at Cheshire Mum and loved it so much I'm re-sharing here! As an ex IT technician this appeals on so many levels but is still true to the original. So please pop over to see Claire's blog for more fabulous posts after watching this wonderful video from You Tube:

and of course please go see the other Countdown to Christmas posts at Cafe Bebe

Monday 20 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 20: things I didn't want for Xmas!

There are definitely some things I didn't put on my list to Santa for this Christmas:

  1. Being snowed into a hotel instead of getting to my destination
  2. A possibly frozen water pipe on my return home (despite leaving heating on)
All things that I hadn't budgeted for but may end up costing me a packet :-( Oh well I'll hopefully be in a more positive Christmas mood tomorrow if my water comes back to life...

more over at Cafe Bebe

Saturday 18 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas day 18: Christmas journeys

Presents loaded.
Emergency supplies in boot.
A little bit of snow won't stop our pre Christmas trip to the south!

Friday 17 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 17: Christingle

My daughter's school ended term with a Christingle service today. The church was pretty full with families joining in the celebration. Christingle services were started by the Children's Society in 1968 as a way of raising money to help children in need.

The idea is to have a candle lit service which is a bit more reflective than the nativity service and to use the Christingle to symbolise 4 components:

  1. an orange - representing the world
  2. a red ribbon (or tape) - indicating the blood/ love of Christ
  3. a lighted candle - symbolising Jesus, the Light of the World
  4. four cocktail sticks bearing dried fruit or sweets - signifying the four seasons and the fruits of the earth and God's good gifts

Thursday 16 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 16: Visting Santa

Having read Karin's post today at Cafe Bebe about the failure of her toddler's visit to Santa its made me look back on previous visits to Santa over the years. As she said why do we force our children to go into a small dark room with a total stranger in a beard and expect them not to freak!

I remember my step daughter at rising 4 being petrified of Santa at her big brothers' school Christmas fair. When my own daughter was 2 I dutifully queued up with her to visit Santa in the grotto at Hastings Priory Meadow. She screamed on getting in and I had to make a sharp exit - the elf had to follow with her present! The next year we went to Santa in Debenhams instead as he was on the shop floor and not in a semi dark room - at 3 she found this non-scary. Her little brother has never been phased by Santa but then again he has always had his sister with him exuding confidence.

My spa day at Low Wood Hotel, Windermere

Yesterday I had a rather gorgeous day at the Low Wood Hotel's leisure club and spa thanks to my gorgeous best buddies from school who bought me a spa day for my 40th birthday. It's taken 2 months to actually take it but it was good to have a complete break from Christmas madness this week.

I found the hotel after driving along the shores of Windermere towards Ambleside. It is in an idyllic setting overlooking the water:

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 15: The Gallery - Sparkle

As it's Wednesday I have to combine both Karin at Cafe Bebe's Christmas countdown and Tara's Gallery with a selection of Christmassy photos that fit with the Sparkle theme! So here we go with three different Sparkly Christmassy pics from the archives:

My parent's accidental bucket ice sculpture doubling as Xmas decoration on drive!

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 14: Two sides of Christmas

Over the course of 24 hours I've experienced two very different sides to Christmas. The first was yesterday when I went to see my son in his nursery nativity with my parents. This was my first experience of a nativity at this age level as the children's old nursery didn't put on a show at Christmas.

There was an eager sense of anticipation as the audience of parents and grandparents perched on mini chairs and tables or sensibly stood at the back of the room! Then as the curtains were pulled open by the class teacher there were plenty of oohs and aahs from the audience and "hello mummy" etc. from the class. The teacher apologised in advance for the fact that as the cast were only 3 and 4 years old we should expect them not to be perfect!

hard to see the children for grown ups!

Monday 13 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 13: A time to reflect

As we are half way to Christmas Day its time to stop for a while and think about what has happened in 2010. For me its been an amazing year with a move from Hastings to Kendal and my posts on this blog certainly reflect this. I have also taken lots of photos which bring back memories. Here is a Smilebox slideshow showing some of my favourites:

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For more Christmas posts pop over to Cafe Bebe

Sunday 12 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 12: Eat, Drink and be Merry

OK hands up if you honestly don't overindulge at Christmas? .... Just as I thought not many hands went up! Most of us make the most of the "it's Christmas time" excuse to eat lots and lots of our favourite highly calorific foods and drink far much more alcohol than we normally do. Then come January 1st we all make resolutions to lose all the excess weight we've gained over the previous few weeks. And we repeat this cycle every year!

This is more as a result of the old Yule celebrations which were merged into Christmas when the date of Jesus birth was cunningly chosen to match the date of the celebration of the Winter Solstice when the Julian calendar was created. The people would sacrifice animals in honour of the festival and drink large quantities of ale to celebrate.

Silent Sunday: Pizza Express, Kendal

Silent Sunday

edited for Julia into one photograph!

Saturday 11 December 2010

Saturday Movie Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 3D

Would I be showing my age if I said the last movie I saw in 3D in the cinema was Jaws 3-D? Actually having seen the year it came out in cinema I really am getting old! This was with the traditional cardboard red green glasses and was pretty pathetic.. My daughter has a Barbie in 3D movie on DVD which still uses the cardboard glasses and is not particularly wonderful.

Any way until today I have resisted paying the extra money required to see a movie in the cinema in 3D. More and more movies are coming out in a choice of 3D or 2D with a premium paid for the 3D version. My children went to see Christmas Carol in 3D last year with their dad and actually didn't like the effect so I thought there was no point taking them. 

Countdown to Christmas Day 11: La Posada

Tonight my daughter and I welcomed some very special visitors into our home who are travelling to Bethlehem and need some shelter on the way. La Posada is a South American tradition which involves the whole community. Joseph, Mary and their donkey are carried to seek a different lodging every night. In South America this is an excuse for having a party after they have been welcomed with prayer.

We have made them a little home for the night and said prayers for those in today's world that are seeking shelter tonight as they have no home or are refugees like Joseph and Mary became after the birth of Jesus:

Friday 10 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 10: School Nativity

Today was my daughter's school nativity. It was the turn of the Infants (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) to entertain their families to half an hour of Christmas entertainment. As the head teacher said it's one of the highlights of the school year. 

The hall was packed with parents, siblings, grandparents and in our case great granny. I took my granny along as she has never seen one of the great grandchildren perform. My aunt was disappointed to be too ill to come along. The grandparents are going to have to wait until the DVD comes out to see it! The anticipation was mounting as we sat looking at the big red curtain:

Dear Inconsiderate Dog Owner *rant alert*

On the way to my daughter’s primary school there is only one route that has a pavement all the way there. For obvious reasons the majority of parents take their children this way to keep them safe from passing cars. This pavement is only on one side of the road and runs alongside the churchyard.

There has been an ongoing saga with dog walkers leaving their dogs’ offerings on this pavement and signs all the way along the wall politely request that people clean up after their pets. What has been nice is that during the really cold and snowy weather the instances of dog poop leavings have almost disappeared….

However, this morning in after a milder 24 hours its was noticeable that the dog walkers were back out in force and unfortunately it appears that their dogs have got an excess of poop. On almost the entire stretch of pavement, some 100 yards, there were dog poos left lying in the melting snow. This was forcing all the parents and children to walk down the middle of the road and into the path of vehicles on the road.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 9: Mince Pies

My dear readers I have been making a big sacrifice for today's edition of Christmas Countdown (can I blame Karin at Cafe Bebe for all the extra calories...?). Any way I've been sampling various mince pies to see which I think are yummiest. Of course the best mince pies in the world are made by my mum using my granny's top secret pastry recipe but sometimes you have to make do with shop bought!

I haven't tried all the available ones (that would be too piggy!) but over the last few weeks I've nibbled on a few. I started with Morrison's own deep fill mince pies and their lattice top ones. Very nice mince meat in each of them and the lattice ones were a lot lighter. Good value for money.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 8: Christmas Cards

There was an item on the radio this morning about the decline in the number of Christmas cards that are being sent in the UK. According to Mintel this really started in 2008 when the credit crunch hit. When I was listening today the reporter said that 1 in 4 "cards" is now an e-mail.

I know that I have certainly cut back on the number of real cards I send each year. If a friend or family member has an e-mail address then they get my e-version which is usually made with a photograph of the children. The cards I do send tend to be to the older generation who don't have e-mails and still love to have lots of cards on display.

Monday 6 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 6: Don't break the bank

I was listening to a lady from our local Citizens Advice Bureau talking on the local Lakeland Radio today about how not to get in debt this Christmas. Many families are really going to be feeling the pinch this year with redundancies and cut backs in so many jobs. So what can we do to enjoy Christmas without worrying about still paying for it in 12 months time?

Set a budget

Look at your family income and be realistic as to what you can afford to spend without running up huge credit bills or a massive overdraft. If you've been setting money to one side either in a special account or through a savings club such as Park stick to what you have set aside!

Saturday 4 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 4: Season of Goodwill

It's day 4 of Karin's Countdown to Christmas challenge and time to take a more somber turn. Listening to the news last night I heard about 2 people in the 80s being found dead in the snow in Cumbria. In this cold weather the elderly living alone are particular vulnerable but don't always ask for help. 

Do you have elderly neighbours that you are looking out for in this snow? Is someone near you trapped in their house and needs their essential shopping done? I went to visit my granny today and got her essential items as she is sensibly staying indoors whilst it is cold and treacherous under foot. Check out Age Concern for ways to help.

As it gets closer to Christmas can you go and help out at your local homeless shelter? Charities such as Crisis, Caring at Christmas and Shelter need donations of money and essentials as well as volunteers this Christmas (and throughout the year). Check out your local area and see how you can help those less fortunate than yourselves.

Friday 3 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 3: Alternative gift ideas

It's day 3 of Karin's Countdown to Christmas challenge! Time to think about others today and alternative gifts that can either help other people or that last longer than just Christmas Day...

Charity Gifts

Oxfam are one of the charities that offer a chance to make a gift to the Third World on behalf of someone else. With prices ranging from £5 for a bag of fertiliser to £1,700 for a classroom there is something for every budget! Helps you to feel good and prevents an unwanted gift being returned in January...

For other charities doing similar things check out the Charity Gifts website where prices range from £2 and you can do things like adopt an animal or send fermented cow's urine to Africa (apparently it a natural pesticide!).

Thursday 2 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 2: Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I've been a pretty good girl this year. As you may remember my Christmas last year was a bit of a washout as I was ill on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and then on antibiotics for the rest of the year! This year I think I deserve the best Christmas ever and so hope you can put a few things in my stocking:

An Apple iPad
You could grab me one from Amazon. My children have done so much damage to my current laptop it would be lovely to have a nice shiny new bit of tech just for me.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 1: Gallery Celebration 1st Xmas

Today I'm killing 2 birds with one stone! Firstly the lovely Tara at Sticky Fingers has challenged us to a gallery showing Celebration this week. Secondly Karin over at Cafe Bebe has laid down the gauntlet of a Xmas related blogpost every day until Christmas Day!

So in order to meet the criteria of both these in one post I bring you my daughter's first Christmas back in 2003:

Apologies to my son but photos of his first Christmas don't appear to be on this computer! I'm sure I took lots though....