Tag Archives: Abbi

100 Happy Days…Days 11-20

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Day 11 – our Merlin passes have been a godsend this year and every time we’ve used them I’ve enjoyed that ‘value for money’ feeling. Ordinarily it would cost a small fortune for us to take four kids on the London Eye but we were able to conveniently forget the sizeable fortune we paid for the passes in the first place so it felt like free fun! No queues and relentless rain motivated us to take two ‘flights’ on the Eye sandwiched by a trip to the London Aquarium. Merlin passes suitably maxed out!

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the creative freedom and artistic expression that messy play affords young children but I just can’t face scrubbing poster paint off my kitchen table anymore. So Day 12‘s happy moment came during Arties, a singing-nursery-rhymes-whilst-gluing-yoghurt-pots-together group for preschoolers. Niamh loves it and I can relax, safe in the knowledge that my furniture survives unscathed.

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Day 13 was another Tuesday, another work day, another round of extra circular activities to contend with. Dave was out for the evening so I simply celebrated the fact that I managed to collect, drop off and pick up all four kids in all the right places at (just about) the right times. Phew!

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Day 14 involved the calmest commute to work I’d had for weeks. And the tube looked so empty and clean that I couldn’t resist photographing it.

20140414-001220.jpgDay 15 – Both my personal and professional lives have been breastfeeding-focused for just about the last decade, so watching Niamh ‘naturally’ trying to breastfeed her doll (after she’d earlier discarded the plastic bottle accessory it came with) was an immensely satisfying and amusing experience. That’s my girl!

20140414-001234.jpgDay 16‘s photo was a very personal one of my baby girl, snapped secretly during our pre-bed feed. Her little face was framed by her golden ringlets and she looked so peaceful and pretty that it was a happy moment I filed under ‘commit to memory’.

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After days of downpour (during which damp patches had begun to appear on our lounge walls – stress!!), the rain stopped and the sun came out on Day 17. I was also able to nab the front seat on the top deck of the bus on my way to work. It’s the little things….

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Day 18 remained dry giving us the perfect opportunity to take the kids to the park. Having been cooped up inside for most of the winter weekends, their energy and enthusiasm was infectious. What’s more, I’d forgotten how much fun the zip wire can be even when you’re a 36 year old mother of four! #noshame

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Thanks to the fact that most of our in-car CD collection has been damaged, lost or flung from the car window in a fit of insanity (that only happened once…honest!), Niamh has learnt the same six nursery rhymes by heart in an impressively short period of time. She did her first public performance of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on Day 19 and melted all our hearts 😍

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Day 20 heralded a small personal victory in that I was seemingly the first parent to arrive for Beavers drop off. As a result I nabbed the hugely coveted prime parking space just outside of the church hall entrance. One nil to me against the Universe (that all too frequently conspires against me!)

100 Happy Days…the first 10 days

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About three months ago I noticed that a few of my friends had started posting pics on their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pages with the hashtag ‘100happydays’. Intrigued as to what this new social media craze was all about, I did some googling and found this article: http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/5123744
Curiouser and curiouser I thought…(I’ve always fancied myself as Lewis Carroll character!) I’d recently finished re-reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin as part of my New Year’s resolution to “be happier” so the idea of focusing on the positive each and every day for 100 days in a row seemed like a good idea with this goal in mind.

So began my own happiness project. Had I been more organised and thoughtful from the start, I might have started blogging about this sooner. And as my 100 days draws to a close, I now realise with a sad sense of regret that I soon won’t have an excuse to take daily photos of my favourite things. My Instagram ‘family’ have been brilliant at supporting me with their cheerful comments and reassuring ‘likes’ but I can’t expect them to put up with my daily dose of smug sentimentality for very much longer. So when day 101 comes around (in a little over a week and a half 😳) I want to reflect on my happy pics, collate them all in one place and essentially review and evaluate the project to work out…am I really any happier?

The first 10 days:

20140412-221632.jpgOn Day 1 there just so happened to be a perfect rainbow stretching over Enfield as Niamh and I left the library. Perfect I thought, all I need now is a few butterflies and a chirping blue tit and I’ll have a true Hollywood happy moment. Instead I settled for a sinister bloke dressed in black and a few empty crisp packs blowing in the breeze. Oh well, I was off!

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Day 2; some weeks before, a friend had suggested taking our older kids to the local planetarium for an evening of stargazing. It was a unique experience, atypical of our normal Friday nights, so it felt good to not only do something special with my boys but also (in all honesty!) to be seen to be doing something educational and interesting. Cue a few parenting points…

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Day 3 offered a candid camera moment whilst walking with the kids to a friend’s birthday party. The boys were swinging Niamh (1-2-3-wheeeeeee!) and she was squealing with delight. Fuzzy feel good feelings aplenty ☺️

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Day 4; growing up as a child, Sunday afternoon walks in the woods were routinely part of the weekend and I remember sulking my way through them most times. As an adult with a family of my own, inflicting the same experience on them elicits a strange satisfaction – I’m now a proper grown-up! The fact that we were able to met our lovely friends with their kids that afternoon too helped to ensure that even my grumpiest offspring went to bed smiling that day.

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Day 5 was a Monday, rarely a funday, but Niamh and I decided (well, I decided) to treat ourselves to a Starbucks to help lift our moods (well, my mood) and expand our waist lines (well, my waist line as Niamh doesn’t yet have a waist). I tried not to dwell on the 240 calories in my chai-tea-damn-delicious-latte though.

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Day 6 was a work day; 5 hours spent in Holloway prison followed by a frantic dash to collect the kids from their various childcare settings before shovelling a poor quality processed dinner down their necks and shipping them off to Beavers and football training. It was therefore the sight of my lovely bed, all neat and tidy with its smoothed out covers and plumped up pillows (thanks to my daily OCD routine) that offered me the happiest moment of my day.

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On Day 7 I combined business and pleasure by having supervision with my BfN supervisor at a scrummy veggie curry house in Turnpike Lane. BfN supervision sessions aren’t renowned for their entertainment value and when running supervision or attending it, I often do so with a weary head and an energy shortage. Dinner with Claire helped to renew my enthusiasm, address a few niggling issues and inspire my confidence as both a Breastfeeding Supporter and a tutor and supervisor. All good then!

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How rare and satisfying to find the perfect pair of jeans in my size AND in the sale. Day 8 gave me just that opportunity. Happy days indeed!

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I always vacuum on Fridays. It’s part of my pre-weekend ritual and helps me to relax in the knowledge that my house is a bit cleaner. And as weird and warped as it sounds, leaving tracks in our thick pile carpet contributes to my happiness high. On Day 9 I did just that. As an added bonus, one of my oldest friends (who incidentally used to be a Kirby cleaners salesman) also commented on my Day 9 photo on Instagram which brought a smile to my face and happy memories to mind.

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Day 10 and dad was still staying with us, working like a Trojan to finish fitting our new kitchen. As he is an insulin-dependent diabetic who frequently adopts a very sad expression when reminded of the limitations of his restricted diet, I can’t resist spoiling him every now and again. But it makes me feel good and guilty in equal measure. I want my dad to be healthy and happy so it’s a tricky balance to strike.

I run, therefore I am…(ageing a bit more gracefully?)

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If someone had told me in my early 20s that I’d be a ‘regular runner’ in my early 30s, I’d have laughed them out of the pub! In school, PE class heralded my weekly dose of public humiliation and ‘cross country’ were swear words in my book. Before each and every sports day my mum would remind me that it didn’t matter if i was first or last, it was the taking part that counted. I was usually last (but remain eternally grateful to mum for always being the loudest spectator cheering me on).

Sports never used to feature fully in my life and throughout university; my definition of a workout was a brisk walk to the offy to buy wine and cigarettes. My friends weren’t jocks either. Occasionally someone would make the token suggestion that we could play a game of tennis or go for a swim but this would be brushed aside after a strenuous game of table football in the Student Union. Besides, I was good friends with the president of the Sky Diving Soc which made me feel suitably athletic.

When I first moved to London, my job and social life took priority over any form of exercise. After multiple interchanges on the tube and navigating through Soho to the office, my heart rate accelerated enough to satisfy on a daily basis. And when a post-work drink turned into a bar crawl and midnight curry, my dash for night bus felt like fitness enough.

It wasn’t until a Christmas at home in my mid-20s that mum tactfully pointed out I’d gained a few pounds; two stone in fact, when I asked the scales for a second opinion. I was gob smacked, dumbfounded and mortified! Til then, I’d never really worried about my weight but now I was panic stricken. That New Year I enrolled in Weight Watchers and my local gym and it didn’t take long for me to realise that I far preferred the company of health fanatic, fit people to self-conscious, depressed chocoholics.

And so began my love affair with running. I tried spinning, rowing and weight lifting (!) before finding my stride on the treadmill. And bonus, you could watch MTV and listen to music whilst clocking up the miles, which put paid to the boredom factor I had so frequently associated with exercise.

Admittedly my commitment to fitness fluctuated during the following few years but after the birth of my first son, my best friend and fellow university ‘jock’ suggested we enter a 5k charity race. On the day, having inadvertently ended up in the elite runners’ paddock, we started the race upfront before being swiftly overtaken by countless ladies in Lycra. But it was fun – a fun run and thereafter I tried to make running a regular and consistent part of my life.

Fast forward six years and three more kids and shock, I’m still running! Don’t get me wrong, I’m really not very good at it and when I say I’m going for a run, what I really mean is that I’ll be jogging at approximately 8k an hour for as long as possible before collapsing into a breathless heap.

And no matter how hard I try, I never quite look the part either. My running shorts make me look dumpy and my earphones make me look extraterrestrial. But even with a pair Oakleys and Dr Dre’s, I’d still struggle to look cool and athletic.

I’m also an antisocial runner. Running partners and clubs don’t appeal as not only do I find it impossible to talk and run, I’m also a self-conscious runner who prefers to turn puce and pant in private. The only company I keep on one of my runs is with Molly, my dad’s dog. Her silent support as she trots along at my heels is comforting but even Molly throws me the odd pitying look as I gasp my way up anything steeper than a slight slope.

However, I’m well practised at hiding my physical discomfort when passing fellow runners en route. From a fair distance I can usually assess how ‘serious’ a runner my counterpart seems to be. This then dictates the extent to which I suck in my stomach, steady my breathing and force a relaxed facial expression.

So, although my running habit is rarely that ego boosting or socially satisfying, I do it because running makes me feel better about myself. It can often take a gargantuan effort to drag myself out of bed or off the sofa, don my running shoes and pound the pavement but once I do, I enjoy the solitude, the satisfaction and even the hard slog itself. I’m no Paula Radcliffe by any stretch of the imagination but as I run towards my early 40s, I hope to do so with a little more confidence and a little less middle age spread.

 

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