Invisalign Update and Doing It!

Two part post:


Invisalign is going okay. I switched to my second tray last Thursday. I was nervous, wondering if I would have five days of horrendous pain again, but it was fine. Some tooth tenderness for the first two days, but no headaches (or crying, ha!).

I am concerned that my teeth are looking really brown. Especially the ones with the attachments on. I drink a couple of cups of decaf tea a day, and have since I was a teenager, so I have two theories:

1. My enamel is more porous from all the cleaning and brushing and is absorbing the stains from tea.

2. The plastic is somehow discolouring my teeth.

Every Invisalign comes with free whitening, which makes me wonder if they don’t know that this happens to a lot of people? I didn’t read about it anywhere. I will ask the dentist when I go in for my checkup on Friday.

Doing it!

I am so fed up of having a post-baby body. I’m 43, so now I have a post-baby, middle-aged and getting-older-rapidly body and it just makes me feel so depressed when I look in the mirror. I know I am comparitively slim, but I am so self-conscious of the flabby tummy and the thighs that are far weightier than they used to be.

It shocks me daily how freaking old and tired I look. I should have started running again by now as I’m running the Great South in October, but the weather has been bloody awful (the daffodils are out and we’ve just had two days of snow – it is insane at time of year for it to be so cold).

It’s time I started. I was also thinking about how I have successfully weathered two and a half weeks of no snacking and hardly any junk food simply because I have braces in, so why don’t I build on that? I don’t have to go through all the crappy withdrawal and cravings at the start like usual – I could dive headfirst into a really healthy eating plan and hopefully see some real changes.

I thought that stopping snacking would see my weight drop a little, but no such luck. My body is clinging on to that fat like nobody’s business, so obviously just cutting out sugar and alcohol isn’t enough (that alone is totally unfair and depressing – sometimes I feel like how far do I have to go to see the changes I want to see?).


I’m waiting for confirmation from my Dad that he can have the kids in 8.5 weeks for a 10k run in his village that I have done before. It’ll mean couch to 10k in 8 weeks and some serious commitment to better eating but I think I am ready to do this. I don’t want to feel and look this way for the rest of my life – and lets face it, it’s only going to get worse.

My plan is something along the lines of:

1. Three super nutritious, balanced meals a day

2. One green juice/smoothie per day

3. Follow a beginners/returners 8 week running plan and include hills on my route

4. Ensure I do some form of strength training at least once a week

5. Set up an 8 week, weekly reward schedule for congratulatory (non-food) treats

6. Join an online bootcamp for support

7. Measure progress weekly

8. Blog weekly for eight weeks to stay accountable (obviously!)

I think, for me, the shorter term the goal is, the more likely I am to achieve it. I get distracted and side-tracked in life so easily. Can I stay focused for 8 weeks I wonder?

If I actually see results it will be easier – that is half the battle for me. I so rarely see any change worth commenting on. I think the only way my body will respond is total immersion, all variables at once. Otherwise the impact is so small so then I give up because it leaves me feeling it’s not worth it, which has happened over and over and over again…

I think I’m going to go for it. All in. See if I can actually see some real changes for once.

Filing Cabinet Clear Out

A little while back I cleared out the conservatory. I should have taken a before picture, but I didn’t think about it (I just got stuck-in on a whim one afternoon). Here’s some after pics, bearing in mind I have three lovely children, so nothing is ever spotless:

minimalist conservatory

I cleared out loads of boardgames that the children weren’t using and Steve took the bench that ran along one side that held all the games and toys. All the board games we use are now packed in the left hand cupboard of the cabinet and all the little pieces have been rescued from the floor, under the sofa and around the house.

I also convinced Steve to take a floor lamp and the TV that I won rather than buy a new one (we’re now a single TV household again which makes me happier anyway), so that cleared off the cabinet top too. The rest of the stuff just didn’t have an assigned home, so I either got rid of it or found a place for the things I wanted to keep. It looks much better and the children really like playing on the floor space in here.

minimalist conservatory

Just for fun, here’s a couple of pictures of how the conservatory used to look in the earlier days of my minimalist journey. The first one was when I had a 2 year old and baby:

messy house
The horror!

This one was when both boys were toddlers. Oh man:

messy house with kids
More horror!


Anyway, moving on from my trip down memory lane, and getting to the point of the post:

Behind the French door on the left as you go in is a large, four drawer filing cabinet, known as The Bisley. You can see it through the glass on the second picture down. Everything goes in The Bisley. All household paperwork, kids artwork, research, documentation, manuals, printer paper, envelopes, folders, the lot. I have a plan, at some point in the future to go completely paperless, but that’s still a way off.

However, The Bisley was in need of a clear-out, so this morning I ruthlessly went through my papers. Three of the drawers I had already tackled because they contained stationary-type things and kids artwork that I am in the process of scanning/photographing for our family photo books.

The final drawer is filed in alphabetical order and contains everything about everything about the house, finances, insurance, pensions, medical records, and everything else.

home filing system

I went through every single folder and I think I managed to recycle about 30% of it. I also tied up a couple of loose ends that were knocking around for household bills, banking and pension forms (I’ve been consolidating all my accounts down to one main one – this is a still a work in progress).

I’ve got a couple of outstanding things I’ve added to my master to-do list, but now the conservatory is officially TIDY – Marie Kondo tidy (well, apart from the fact that she throws all paperwork away, but ANYWAY).

recycling paperwork

home filing system

And it feels great!

I absolutely love a neat and tidy space. It makes that area feel so light and airy and pleasant to be in. Not to mention that paperwork is one of my pet hates and to have it all dealt with and filed away makes me almost as happy as inbox zero :-).

Getting Better

F woke up every single hour from 9pm to 4am last night. I kept an eye on her temperature and got very little sleep. She woke up and asked for water every time until 4am. Then she puked everywhere.

Oh man. She was in the bed with me, so it wasn’t even contained within her cot. After a major clear up job, I think we both finally slept between 5:30 and 7.

At 7:30, as the boys were asking for breakfast she puked all over the sofa with the water I’d given her (she was crying for a drink).

Then L dropped his breakfast bowl on the floor and it smashed to pieces. I finally got everyone out the door and drove up to the school and to the bus stop. I asked a mum from each school to see each of the boys in and took F home. Thankfully no sick in the car.

She wanted to go back to bed, so I did also, only to be woken by the shopping delivery coming 40 minutes earlier than the allotted timeslot. Sigh!

But F woke up then and seemed a bit brighter and her headache had gone. She lasted until 2 and slept again til 4.

Steve took the boys swimming and she’s in bed now (7:30pm). No sick for 11.5 hours, so hopefully the worst is over. She is a lot happier than she was yesterday. I am SO relieved, and my stress levels have gone right back down, which I am very grateful for.

The Raw Food Diet

Long, long ago, one of the things I started blogging about was the raw food diet and trying to eat a greater proportion of raw food. Somehow amid the craziness of the last few years my raw food quest has gotten lost. Although it was never forgotten. While all raw is a bit extreme, I would definitely like to be eating way more salads and fresh juices and smoothies.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, especially since I’m on an enforced 3 solid meals a day regime with my Invisalign. We’ve been a vegetarian household for a while now (not sure of the last meat we all ate, but sometime in January). I have also been aware that sometimes I eat a vegan meal inadvertently, which I am pleased about. However, sugar and alcohol have always been my achilles heel(s), and I could just never see a way to get really fit and healthy until I cracked both of these things.

Well, it seems the alcohol has finally (mostly) run its course and just doesn’t hold the appeal it once did. And the sugar habit has been forcefully smashed to pieces by my braces.

My energy levels are more stable than they have been for ages, and I can now go 5 or 6 hours without eating without having a physical or emotional meltdown. Sugar makes me hungry, cranky, and is a major contributor to the last of the babyweight I’m carrying around.

Eating three meals a day, so difficult in the first few days now seems so much easier and simpler. I actually like preparing all the things I’m going to eat and then sitting down to a proper meal. Then I don’t have to give food a second thought for hours! And because I’m not on the sugar high-low rollercoaster, I just slowly get hungrier for my next meal without any angst or dizziness or weakness or wobblyness I am used to. I was spending every waking minute thinking about what to eat next, so it’s been a real revelation.

Anyway, I say all of that because I’m thinking about getting back to juices and green smoothies and a lighter, more nutritionally dense way of eating. Just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll start something in April – that will be a month in my braces and a good 31 days of better eating as a good foundation. We’ll see.

The Trouble With Mother’s Day

The trouble with Mother’s Day is that I don’t really like it very much.

Today started out amazingly. My two boys – completely of their own accord – snuck downstairs and made me a bowl of homemade muesli (oats, cashews, raisins – they mixed it themselves), and then brought it up for my breakfast. I was half-awake and heard them go down, but I assumed that they were going to secretly eat the cake that we brought home from a party on Saturday. How wrong was I? Steve had helped them with cards and presents, but the breakfast idea was all theirs and I was so happy about it!

Even Francesca, this morning, as the boys came into my room to give me my breakfast, rolled over and said,

No! Mummy’s sleeping!

So the day really did start wonderfully and my little trio were awesome.

Then we went to visit my mum.

When we arrived, we buzzed but Mum didn’t answer for ages. This always means that she has taken sleeping pills and hasn’t woken up yet, and today was no exception. She was in her pyjamas and had clearly only gotten up to let us in. I said happy Mother’s Day and handed her a little flower in a pot I had bought for her. She took it off me and said nothing. She wandered into the kitchen, put it down somewhere out there and then came out and shut the door behind her. No “thank you,” or any other comment.

I gave her the card and she did at least like this. She said thank you and commented on it with approval, so I got that bit right.

I asked if she was sleeping okay and she explained she’d taken some sleeping tablets she’d bought off the internet (don’t ask – I have no control over what she does, honestly). She stumbled around for a bit and then started getting things out that she had bought the children.

Mum is always buying stuff for them – not just a little bit here and there, but two or three things every time they see her. I know she wants to treat them, but she is confusing love with STUFF. And the worst thing of all is she buys them totally unsuitable stuff that she finds in charity shops. She is obsessed with antiques and is always buying them 20 year old toys and models. Last time it was two sets of CB radios from the 80s and two cap gun sets from the 1950s (I looked them up – they were selling for £60 on ebay). Today is was colouring books and crayons (which are actually quite cool), a microscope from the 1970s, model planes, and two fidget spinners.

She buys compulsively all the time. And it drives me crazy. Firstly we live in an 840sq/ft house and we have no space for the inflow of things from her. Secondly, I hate material stuff. Thirdly it teaches the children to be excited about presents rather than about seeing Granny – they always say I wonder what Granny has got for us this time! Fourthly, that money would be SO much better spent on clothing for the three of them. Or to help me out with the weekly food bill. Or to cover school trips, or maybe to save up for a weekend away. She wastes it all on stuff that ends up broken and either in the bin, or in the charity shop bag at our house because there is no room for it. Fifthly, she sometimes buys totally random shit because she doesn’t really look properly at what it is. Example: a few months back she bought Lucas a tin of football boot studs.

hate her obsession with buying crap.

And then, she sits down and tells me she’s sorted out Eric.

My uncle died last year and she had his ashes stored in the cupboard at her house. We were going to wait until it was a sunny day in the spring and then take them to the pier, where he wanted them to be scattered – as requested in his will.

Unbeknownst to me, Mum was getting antsy about the ashes being in her flat. She didn’t want them there. She apparently asked my brother for help, but he said he wouldn’t be down for a few months, so she took it upon herself to deal with it.

She took them on the bus to the pier and tried to scatter them, but she was approached by a couple who told her she couldn’t scatter them into the sea without permission (if I’d been there I would have told these interfering arseholes where to go for so callously poking their noses into a 68 year old’s grieving time). So she got back on the bus and instead of taking them home and calling me, she just scattered them in the park across the road from her flat.

Now, I was upset about this. I was upset, because my mum runs her life by the motto “it’ll do”. She uses it as an excuse for her behaviour and always has. When she doesn’t want to put the effort into something (which is a lot of the time), she just does a half-arsed job and says “Oh, that’ll do.”

When my uncle died, she turned up at his funeral wearing an ancient old jumper and scruffy trousers. I was upset about it because you make an effort at a funeral. You dress to show respect to the person who passed away, and to show respect to yourself. I told my Dad afterwards that if I die before her he needs to insist that she makes the effort to dress properly when I’m gone.

And because Eric’s clothes were cleared out of his flat long before his body was released for cremation, Mum got him a charity top t-shirt and a pair of HER old jeans and knickers to dress him in. I spoke to the funeral director and then managed to convince her that he could go in just the funeral gown, which they provided. Can you imagine if he was alive, what he would have thought about going to the crematorium in his sister’s jeans and knickers??? 

My mum once left Eric waiting for her in the middle of town as they wanted to look in separate shops, but on the way back she decided to go and get her hair cut. After nearly an hour Eric thought she was lost, so he went to security and they put a message out over the shopping centre tannoy. She honestly couldn’t see what she’d done wrong.

There are billions of example throughout my lifetime I can use, but I’ll be writing all night if I carry on. I was upset about the ashes because Eric requested they be scattered over the sea. It was a denial of his last wish, because it was too much effort to take them home and wait for me to accompany her so we could do what he asked. Because she needed them gone, and the park would do. She told me not to get upset, and that they spent a lot of time over there, and she can walk past him all the time, which I admit is true, but I was upset anyway. I was upset that she had to face two dickheads telling her she couldn’t put ashes in the sea because I wasn’t with her. I was upset she hadn’t said to me that she wanted to get rid of the ashes sooner rather than later – that she’d even asked my brother, rather than come to me.

She told me I was so busy, and my life is so full, but that isn’t a problem when she gets my brother to ring me at 5pm, in the middle of cooking dinner for the three children, so he can ask me to drive over to the psychiatric hospital and pick her and take her home because she’s been released and she’s waiting out the front for me.

My Mum loves me, I’m sure, but her way of loving is not like other mothers. She never had a decent mother figure to learn from (hers was an abusive woman who beat all four of her kids and hated them for tying her down), so I know she has done the best she knew how to do.

But I have to admit that sometimes I just wish she was more of a mother to me than I’ve had.

And today, as every year, I have to avoid facebook. I posted early this morning and then stayed away. Away from the countless status updates tagging mothers and talking about how they are the best mum in the world.

Sigh. I love Mother’s Day for my kids, but for my own mum it always feels like a forced affection, and that makes me so sad.

And then this evening I ended up taking F to A&E. She was poorly yesterday, but today she has been complaining of head pain. Obviously headaches immediately make you think meningitis, and she has been particularly distressed. By 4pm she was crying so much and holding her head that I took her to the hospital -she’d already had calpol and I was so scared something wasn’t right. I am so afraid of losing her or the boys. My miscarriages have left a scar that bleeds whenever any of them are sick and it leaves me panicked and unable to think clearly.

A&E was heaving. Adults were puking in the main waiting area and there were loads of screaming kids in the children’s area. Pretty quickly a nurse looked F over, did the usual O2 sat/resp rate/temp thing and then gave her a big dose of ibuprofen to make her more comfortable.

Thirty minutes later, F was a different child. The ibuprofen had kicked in (I’m sure they give them a bigger dose at the hospital because my oldest son had one once and he was happy as Larry for about 5 hours afterwards), and she was wandering around, playing with all the toys, chatting away, just like normal.

We waited for two hours with no sign of a doctor, so I asked the nurse if I could take her home. She said that was fine. I was so tired and pissed off and hungry so we went home and F went to bed and went to sleep.

Now I am super paranoid that she really is sick, but the painkiller masked the problem. It just doesn’t seem normal for a 2 year old to have severe head pain to me. The nurse tried to say that a lot of toddlers point to their head when they mean their throat, but she hasn’t met F. F is articulate and smart and knows damn well it’s her head that’s hurting, and she’s had no trouble swallowing. The pain is worse when she’s upright, and it just seems meningococcal to me. I’ve had viral meningitis before and the head pain is no joke. She has no other symptoms – no vomiting, only a low grade fever, no rash, no stiffness, no sensitivity to light.

All I can do is wait until she either gets better, or gets worse enough that someone at the hospital will see her over and above all the other vomiting, sick kids in A&E.

I’ve had a crappy day really, and I’m feeling pretty low and down in the dumps anyway (I’m still coming off sugar I guess – 11 days into the braces and I remember from when I’ve done this before than my mood doesn’t really stabilise until about 2 weeks in).

The best part of my day was my happy morning with my beautiful kids, so I’m just going to focus on that and go to bed and check on F and hope that the morning brings us some peace and wellness.

Falling Out Of Love With Alcohol

Me and drink have had a long, mostly happy, relationship. I can’t remember when it first started – I suppose I was around 17 or 18, so I was late to the party in some respects, and it was far later than my early stumblings with boys.

I loved alcohol right from the start. Yes, there were a few nights where I drank too much and regretted it, but generally it was a party from the word go. I lived in London until the end of my twenties and drinking was almost a daily thing. Things did take a more sinister turn in my last years in the city – there were more than a few episodes of drinking to excess in a way I hadn’t done before. I partied harder, and felt worse in the mornings, but I managed to reign it back in (there’s only so many times you can go out and vomit horrendously before a) you get fed up of it and b) you start to feel ashamed of your behaviour).

Then in my 30s, drink became something I turned to at home. Going out all the time was getting old, and alcohol was about a thousand times cheaper to buy in a supermarket. Nothing could beat that glugging sound of a fresh bottle of nice wine being poured into a glass after a long day at work.

That carried on until after I was married and got pregnant. But even then, I still drank a little. A glass of shandy now and again was one of the few things that seemed to settle my morning sickness in the beginning, and then later in my first pregnancy as long as only had half a glass of wine I didn’t see the harm in it.

I had a long period of not drinking after my son was born, but I felt so utterly broken and crap and exhausted that I would not have noticed any difference.

Once he started sleeping better I was back to my nightly glass of wine.

This repeated with my second son, and then while I was trying for my daughter I found that not drinking was something I resented. I didn’t drink as regularly as I was afraid it was affecting my fertility, but I never completely stopped. I craved it all the time, and as soon as my period arrived it’d be a nice bottle of wine open and a sigh of relief that I could drink again.

I’m still on the border of getting my sleep back after the birth of my daughter over two years ago, as she is not a good sleeper, but the wine has gradually crept in regardless.

Last summer I reached a point where I knew it had a hold over me that I didn’t like any more. It was the first time that I’d admitted to myself that I needed that glass of wine at the end of the day to relax. I remember driving with the three kids in the back of the car on the way home from the school run and realising that there was no wine at home. Panic! I drove them all to the shops and took them all in, just so I could pick up a bottle – because the thought of not drinking that evening was terrifying. My life was miserable. I was tired, exhausted, unhappy in my marriage, and it was the one thing that blotted everything out. It made life fuzzier and less arduous.

That was the day when I knew it had to stop. I didn’t want my kids to grow up remembering me as the mum that always had to go and buy wine, and the mum that was always drinking wine in the evenings. It wasn’t the role model I wanted for my kids and it wasn’t making me happy either.

The next morning I tipped away all the alcohol that was in the house. It was the 6th June and I remember it well because I cried. I actually cried in the morning. I never drank to excess at home – it was a glass or on some nights two. Never more. But I couldn’t manage without it – the thought of not having it made me realise that it was probably only time before one glass regularly became two. And three. And then what?

The first two weeks were awful. I had a constant headache and I couldn’t sleep. I was surprised at how much of an effect on me stopping drinking actually had. And the cravings – my god I wanted it so bad between the hours of 5pm and 8pm – the time when I would usually pour my first glass.

And then came anger. I hated alcohol. And I hated the fact that I wanted it still.

And then, slowly, it got easier.

I lasted 28 days before going back to it. At first it was in moderation – not every night. But then my uncle passed away and left a mess of stuff and emotions. And then my mum ended in hospital with psychosis again because she couldn’t cope with the grief. And I drank every night again, as I had done for the best part of 20 years, to make it all easier to bear.

On the 10th September I stopped again. I wasn’t enjoying it like I did when I was younger. It used to be associated with fun, going out, flirting, dancing and generally having a ball. Now it was false comfort for a middle-aged woman who should know better.

I lasted 69 days, and I felt great. The cravings were less, I didn’t get the headaches and the insomnia this time around. But I still missed it.

It was a pub lunch that broke my streak. I had a large glass of white wine and boy was it great. A few days later I bought a bottle for home. And that was it. Christmas was coming and you know what it’s like. I bought Bailey’s, port, wine, beer, the lot. I drank every day and at Christmas I started on the sherry in the morning.

Hurrah for alcohol!

But it made me feel like crap. The mornings were awful and my skin broke out horribly. I decided to do dry January, and got really drunk on New Year’s Eve. Things at home had been difficult and I had partly been drinking to forget about it all. To ignore the big decisions about separation and how badly our marriage had deteriorated. I lasted 6 days and then my husband moved out. So I started drinking again, but it was suddenly different.

After the initial shock of the change in the status quo, I realised that now I was on my own I could really focus on what I was doing and I didn’t really enjoy anything more than the first couple of sips. Everything else just made me feel crappy. I got a mild headache if I had more than a glass, and I slept terribly whenever I drank anything at all.

So on 28th January I stopped again. After 24 days I bought some wine experimentally. It wasn’t that I really wanted it, it was more curiosity. I had a glass for two nights, but it made me feel horrible, so I left it in the fridge. I finished the rest a week later. I decided I was done. And then a client gave me a bottle as a thank you, so I drank that over three nights just because it was nice wine and I am not the kind of person that can keep wine in the house and not drink it. I was glad when I finished it. That last bottle was like a message. It told me that I have finally fallen out of love with alcohol.

Will I drink again? I probably will.

Will I go back to drinking every night? I hope not.

I find my quiet peaceful evenings on my own (when the kids aren’t waking up), to be restorative in a way that alcohol has never been. I’ve had to find alternative ways to relax and reading is something I have started doing at the end of the day. It’s nicer than drinking.

I am surprised to have finally gotten here. What started in June as a desperate attempt to release the hold that it seemed to have over me has taken nine months to get a handle on. And I’m sure there will be more bumps in the road ahead. But for now, I can say that I am really glad to not want to be drinking any more. It was always the longing for it that worried me, not the amount I consumed. It was fun while it lasted, but in the end it wasn’t fun any more.

I sleep better, and feel better, without it.