A reason to celebrate

Last weekend we had one of those perfect experiences. You know, when you think, OK well this is happening, it could be OK, but it also could go horribly wrong and then it’s better than you ever hoped? One of those.

Ben’s maternal grandparents celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary last week (that’s 60 years people!) and wanted to mark the occasion by bringing their relatively small, but rather geographically scattered family together. It was a really lovely idea and something we haven’t done in ages! The family were all booked in to a small boutique country hotel near Kingsbridge, Devon and invitations sent. However, this really wasn’t the kind of establishment that leant itself to toddlers, so it was agreed both Oscar and his cousins Lucas (3) and Anya (16 months) would stay elsewhere. My sister in law easily found an extended family member to sit for her in their home in Plymouth. However all our family are also in Devon, not Surrey where we live. Finding someone who Oscar felt comfortable with and who had the space was not going to be easy.

This in itself could have derailed our weekend from the off. Oscar doesn’t often stay the night with other people, mostly because our family all live hundreds of miles away. And the last person he successfully stayed with was joining us at the hotel. He doesn’t really know his extended family well enough, or they don’t have the space. So it was with some trepidation we asked our good friend Michelle whether she would have him. As he’d recently spent a few days with Michelle and her 4 year old daughter Holly when they visited a couple of weeks ago, we figured she would be fresh enough in his mind to be familiar. Add that to the fact that I just knew that Michelle would be bloody marvellous with him, I felt really confident leaving him with her. Her daughter Holly was so excited Oscar was coming for a ‘sleepover’ it was all Michelle could do to convince her not to sleep on the floor next to his bed!

So on Saturday we headed off to Plymouth, with the boy in the back thoroughly enamoured of the iPad in its new holder attached the to the headrest. We’d downloaded a few films and some Thomas the Tank Engine and by golly it was the most peaceful four hour journey we’ve ever had. He’s not a bad traveller all told, but this is my little ball of energy we’re talking about and four hours is a lot to ask of him. Despite setting off at 8.30am, nowhere near his nap time, he did brilliantly and even snoozed for the last hour of the journey waking up 10 minutes from our destination. When we arrived he was happy and calm and easily distracted enough by the gazillions of new toys not to bother about us leaving. We ran to the car like escaping convicts!

Buckland Tout Saints Hotel, Goveton

Buckland Tout Saints Hotel, Goveton

The beautiful misty view from our room

The beautiful misty view from our room

The hotel we stayed in was the Buckland Tout Saints and we arrived with plenty of time to join the family in the bar. I was unwinding with a Pinot by 3pm and it felt fantastic. Everyone was in fine sprits (literally) and the fun began in earnest. It was just so nice to get to chat. I’ve known Ben’s sister longer than I’ve known Ben, but as Ben and I have been together 17 years this year, it always feels like catching up with old friends when the family get together. We talked about the children and our lives and this and that. My brother in law was most impressed by their bathroom, which was on a mezzanine floor in their room. I think we were all taken to see it at some point or another!

Sent to to my sister in law when we went to get ready for dinner

I sent this to to my sister in law when we went to get ready for dinner

Getting ready in peace was amazing. We put some tunes on the iPad and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of putting my make up on without feeling like a fugitive hiding from someone (also known as the boy!) I got to wear my gorgeous new dress and as promised here is the evidence. It was so beautiful and comfortable and felt both smart and fun. It wowed the family just as I hoped it would. Nice one Pepperberry!

Charlotte dress by Pepperberry Size 16 Super Curvy

Charlotte dress by Pepperberry Size 16 Super Curvy

Super smiley - 3 glasses of wine in. Or was it 4 ;)

Super smiley – 3 glasses of wine in. Or was it 4 😉

Dinner was just how a big family meal should be. Full of chat, laughs, debate and fun. Who knew Aunty Gillian’s inability to get her arm out of shot would cause such hilarity? But then that’s what it’s all about. Laughing at the silly memories that mean nothing to anyone else.

Fun and laughter

Family

I just love the joy on Ben's grandma's face in this one.

I just love the joy on Ben’s grandma’s face in this one.

Me and the hubster

Me and the hubster

Rachel and Ross photobombed by 'Uncle' Andy!

Rachel and Ross photobombed by ‘Uncle’ Andy!

After dinner we proceeded to take over the bar (again) and partied until the small hours. Not sure how, but I seemed to drink myself sober. I even took my make up off when I went to bed and woke with no hangover at all! Bonus!

We picked up Oscar the next day, to hear that apart from not wanting to brush his teeth, he’d been fine with Michelle and actually put himself into bed and had fallen asleep immediately. What a star! He had taken every toy in the house out though, which I did feel a bit bad for, so we ensured Michelle was rightly compensated with wine, chocolates and flowers. We can’t explain how much knowning he was OK allowed us to have the best night. So once again THANK YOU MICHELLE!

From Michelle’s we took Oscar over to his Great Grandparents house. Again it’s not somewhere he’s been in a very long time and we were concerned how he’d cope being in a strange environment with a group of adults he doesn’t known all that well. We shouldn’t have worried. He was absolutely fine, heading straight for the toys in the conservatory and playing with his Great Granddad (and his namesake. Oscar’s middle name is Frederick). And when Lucas arrived with his sister Anya, well that was that. Oscar’s not always the most receptive to other children, but for his cousin Lucas he makes an exception. Despite only seeing Lucas handful of times in his life and certainly not for the last nine months, they have some kind of connection I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand. Every time they see each other they are like the best of friends and this time was no different. Within half an hour they were chasing each other round the house, laughing like drains and even holding hands, something I never see Oscar do with his chums! I don’t know, maybe they look at each other and see something familiar (or familial!) in each other. Either way it was beautiful to see and we cant wait until Lucas is old enough to come and stay with us!

Despite the time between visits they're always the best of friends

Despite the time between visits they’re always the best of friends

Holding hands partner in crime

Holding hands – partners in crime

Follow me, I know the way to the trouble!

Follow me, I know the way to the trouble!

We tried desperately hard to get a picture with all the children in one shot, but you know kids. They are wont to move. A lot! This was the best I did!

What? All three of them are technically in shot. It was the best I could do!

What? All three of them are technically in shot. It was the best I could do!

And I particularly like this one of my niece Anya. She’s going to be tall like her Grandma I think!

Anya, 16 months old. Going to be tall like the rest of the clan!

Anya, 16 months old. Going to be tall like the rest of the clan!

We finished the lunch off with a celebratory cake, made by Ben’s mum. As soon as Oscar saw it he sat up to the table and started singing what I believe was his attempt at Happy Birthday! Bless!

image

Cake!

Cutting the cake once again 60 years on

Cutting the cake again, 60 years on

We left, sad to be going, but so pleased that we’d been privileged enough to celebrate such an amazing milestone with such an awesome couple. A couple who raised two children, supported two grandchildren and care for three Great Grandchildren. A couple who have so many interests and hobbies and friends and ‘joie de vivre’. A couple whose attitude inspire the whole family, every day.

So here’s to a great weekend, to a great family and to a great 60 years.

Here’s to Fred and Peggy

... to Fred and Peggy!

… to Fred and Peggy!

Slimming World Update – Week 52 – One Year Special

Hi there

I’ll start by telling you that at last night’s weigh in I lost 2.5lb which, despite not being all the weight I gained over the last two weeks, is a good enough start for me. It takes me back to 5 Stone 12.5lb.

But actually what I want to talk about today is not last night’s group, or even this weeks result.

You see this is a pretty special post for me, because last night’s weigh in marked the 1 year anniversary of my joining Slimming World and starting on this incredible journey I never believed I could make.

A year ago I was in a very different ‘place’. I weighed 6 stone more than I do now, had a very different relationship with food in general and my outlook on life was tired, sad and often on the negative side. I was so consumed with being a new mother and the associated challenges that come with that, that I’d almost ceased to exist as a person in my own right. I don’t think that’s wholly unusual in new mothers, but I was compensating for this lack of self worth by giving myself the one thing that I really didn’t need. High sugar, high fat food and lots of it. It’s sad to think I gained 2 stone after I had my son (and not, as someone assumed the other day, while I was pregnant), but I think I need to make it clear that I can’t blame my starting weight solely on motherhood. I have been obese my whole adult life. My weight’s fluctuated a bit, but except for a year or so I’ve been a size 22/24 all my adult life. The last time I wore the size 16’s I’m wearing now was in my late teens.

A couple of things happened to motivate me to change things in 2013. Firstly my son turned 1 in the April (I wore a size 24 dress to his party. It was pretty tight) and I realised I wouldn’t be able to the use the ‘new baby’ excuse for much longer. He wasn’t new any more!

Around the same time I also started keeping a gratitude journal via the Happier.com app, recording three happy moments a day. I did it daily and realised within a few months that all my happy moments were about Oscar and never about me. This got me thinking. So I started my blog to give me something of an outlet, with no intention of sharing it 😉 !

Then over the next few months I happened to see a couple of photos that shocked me rigid.

First there was this one.

May 2013 (c) Louise Phillips

May 2013 (c) Louise Phillips

At the time I told myself it was just an awful photo – that the boy was extremely wriggly and I was caught in an unflattering position, trying to keep hold of him. Now, I think it looks like I’m trying to hide behind by one year old son.

Then a couple of months later this was taken at Oscar’s toddler group summer picnic.

July 2013

July 2013

I was convinced this was going to be a great picture of the two of us and when I saw it I was heart broken. That dress is a size 26.

I knew something had to change, but funnily enough joining Slimming World wasn’t so much about losing weight at first. It was more about getting some space for me. So OK, so my reason for joining might sound odd to you, but it was hugely motivating at the time. I’m not sure if I had joined with the sole intention of losing lots of weight I would have succeeded in quite the same way. I went with no real expectation, putting no pressure on myself to ‘do well’.

But to my surprise, after a couple of weeks I did start to ‘do well’ and the boost it gave me was immeasurable. The ‘plan’ (I never call it the ‘plan’ – it makes it sound a bit cult like!) made me question how I thought about food. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what foods were nutritionally better for me than others, but this actually made me stop and think about the food I was eating, rather than blindly eating whatever I fancied. The group sessions, or Image Therapy as Slimming World rather grandly call them 😉 were also a revelation. I found, and still do find, talking about any issues I’ve had that week incredibly useful, but not only that it also gave me the space to be proud of my achievements, something I’d never done before. Accepting compliments is incredibly liberating. If you’ve not done it before, I highly recommend it.

The rest of the year you probably already know. It’s passed anyone’s expectations, probably because no one actually had any 🙂 . My SW achievements include:

  • Winning Slimmer of the Week 12 times
  • Winning Slimmer of the Month 3 times
  • Losing 10% of my body weight
  • Winning ‘Greatest Loser of the Year’ for Liphook 7.30 group
  • Losing 6 stone in just under one year

12 What a loser! 20140627-124559-45959549.jpg

But the achievements I’ve seen every day have been just as incredible

  • Going from a size 26 to a 16 Dress (with a stop off in my gorgeous size 22 Monsoon dress)
  • Getting back into my pre-pregnancy size 22 jeans and quickly slimming out of them again
  • Walking everywhere. I’ve halved the time it takes me to get anywhere, meaning I keep arriving early to everything!
  • Buying my first ever pair of skinny jeans – and living in them!
  • Finally fitting into Fat Face and Joules and other brands that don’t even carry plus sizes.

photo 4 - Copy

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But I guess my greatest achievement so far has been just to keep going. To finally understand that no one else is responsible for this journey. Only me.

It’s not always easy. I have hard times, same as everyone. I have set backs and disappointments. I have days where I just don’t want to care any more. Days when I’m sick and tired of thinking about food and whether the choices I’m making are the best ones. Weeks when I look at the scales and want to cry, be it a gain or a loss. But despite all that, I just keep going. Something in me wont let me not.

Because you see I’m not finished yet. I still have further to go than some people ever do, but I have lost more than I need to lose and that’s a great feeling.

Hey what am I saying, I haven’t lost this weight. It’s gone. I have no intention of finding it again!

So the coming year? Who knows. I still have no idea of what my final target weight will be, or even should be. It was so far away I couldn’t even think about it before. Perhaps this year I will. I have my next interim target (to lose 2 more stone, making a total of 8 stone) to reach and I’m happy enough with that for now. Scales aside, who knows? I’m looking forward to buying a new winter coat to replace my old size 24 one. I want to take up yoga or pilates. Little things really.

Most of all I want to keep this happy, confident feeling. I feel like I’m visible for the first time in so long, I don’t want to fade again.

See her? That’s Lisa that is.

Have a great week

xxxxx

 

 

My one year Bloggiversary

OK so I’ve just noticed something and I had to share.

I’ve been blogging for a year.

Well over a year actually. I wrote my first ‘proper’ post on 7th July 2013. I remember writing it like it was yesterday, on my phone, sat in the Friary Centre Costa Coffee in Guildford. It was about Primark. Random I know. Do I share it again? I didn’t actually share it the first time round. It’s not really that interesting. But hey, I guess it’s kind of important because it’s where I started. In that case here it is:

I’m having an afternoon off from mummy duties and spending a bit of alone time in Guildford. I needed to get Oscar some more short pyjamas (as the ones our friend Becky bought him for his birthday are proving such a hit). So my first instinct was to go to M&S. They have always been a staple of O’s wardrobe, providing good quality basics at reasonable prices. So anyway I went straight there and got exactly what I wanted. Short pyjamas, three pairs, for 12.

However, as all my maternity/holiday/savings finally ran out this month I’m on something of a budget drive. It’s not that I wasted money before but one of the things I always worked hard for in my life was the ability not have to budget. But needs must and anyway I think “hmmm I wonder if Primarni has anything cheaper?”

I don’t often go to Primark. Not because I have anything against it per se, just as a plus size I’ve never found anything to fit me in there. I have also found the children’s section, particularly for young boys, to be woefully small, especially in the Guildford branch. But as I’m trying to careful with my pennies (well not my pennies but that’s another post) I thought I’d check it out.

It was a mistake and a complete waste of time. Not because, as I suspected, they had nothing I wanted. They did have some really nice little boy clothes. No the problem with Primark was the people in Primark. I’m not talking about the staff, who seemed present and helpful. No I mean the customers.

I know that makes me sound like the worse kind of snob and to some extent it is the people themselves. The kind who will leave their babies screaming in the buggy whilst they rummage for a bargain. It upsets me but who am I to judge?

No, I think its the environment that brings out the worst in people. The low prices somehow send out a signal that this store isn’t really worth caring about thus clothes and shoes and accessories are thrown about with complete disregard rather like a jumble sale. I even found myself taking less care than I ever would in M&S for example. It was then I realised I needed to leave, empty handed.

If you do want to, I think Primark is one to do first thing in the morning and midweek. Other than that I think I’m going to stick to M&S and shop the sales.

Blimey! Don’t I sound posh! I like this post. It helps me see how much I’ve developed my own style – one much less formal than I began with!

I had no vision of where this blog would go back then. I still don’t to be honest. All I know is it’s opened me up to so much more in life than I could ever have imagined. I always secretly harboured a desire to write. Not a novel, I don’t have the patience, but something. I kept extensive journals as a teenager and I’m so glad I did. I love reading them back now. They show me how far I’ve come, but also remind me of the time with such clarity I can practically smell the 50p shots of whiskey and taste the kisses of teenage boys. It’s powerful stuff. Maybe I’ll feel the same about these posts when I’m older, or more to the point when Oscar is older. I’ll look back and wonder what on earth I was worrying about all those years ago.

I think blogging has also helped me to find a voice. To look at my life, really look at it, and decide who it is I actually am, or want to be. I’ve been much more honest in writing than I ever would have been in person. But being honest with myself has made me much happier and positive in real life too. Someone came up to me a toddler group to ask me about this blog a few weeks ago and then proceeded to tell me why she wouldn’t want people knowing stuff about her. I could only say that whilst it’s not for everyone, being so honest with the world (and consequently yourself) is bloody liberating. I’m not sure she understood and to be fair I don’t think I would have had I not pushed myself to do this!

My last post was actually written on my bloggiversary (is that a word? It is now!). It was also my 100th post. 100 posts in a year? I’m pretty proud of that. Proud of the volume of writing and proud of the fact I kept at it. Yay me! However, I think I mentioned my lack of patience before 😉 and I’m certain that I wouldn’t have kept going had it not been for the awesome feedback I get from the people that read my words, you, every time I write. It baffles me and yet at the same time makes my heart happy. So yay you too!

So here’s to us. To a year of writing. And to many more years to come.

Cheers!!!

Cheers!!!