Friday, 30 March 2012

The tyranny of hand-me-downs

Look at that. Every day that is one of the first things I see. It makes my lovely and spacious bedroom like a rubbish dump only less smelly (unless the Panther has had an eventful encounter with a lamb bhuna recently). 

Those bags contain clothes suitable for boy children aged from one to three. Most of which have been worn by Boy Three. He was fortunate to be the last in a long line of hand-me-down chaps, which is how come he ended up with a more extensive and fancier wardrobe than he'd have had if it was left to me.

I'm very grateful - it has saved us a fortune. But since Boy Three outgrew the last lot a few months ago, they have sat there in the corner of the room, draining my energy. 

A friend whose twin boys are about 18 months old said "yes please, she'd have some", then life got in the way of us meeting up. I'm hoping to see her next week. 

Then I realised that she'll probably turn me away from her doorstep if I pitch up with this lot - her house (three boys and a husband) is probably bursting at the seams already. I'll just pick out the best bits. 

But then what. I feel duty bound to pass the parcels because they were given to me. I am too lazy to ebay them, I distrust charity door collections and I've run out of needy parents of boy children. Supersister said: "No thanks we've got plenty." When I suggested it but what she really meant was: "Don't even think about it."

And while I was wondering what to do with my body weight in children's clothes, I realised that I have a bit of a case of hand-me-down syndrome. The symptoms are an inability to get rid of other people's cast offs because they were given to me, pangs of guilt during the exercise of off-loading and crossness with myself for letting it confound me again.

I don't have much problem - beyond domestic inertia - in pitching out stuff I bought, however ill-advisedly, but gifted stuff is a different story. I agonise, try to find a willing recipient, then finally sigh with relief if I find an excuse to dump it. 

My home has been variously blighted by a globe-shaped cocktail cabinet, a 1960s sideboard, a table-football game, a very heavy and inefficient lawnmower, a nearly broken food processor, a totally broken answering machine and countless bits of baby and child paraphernalia.

Now Boy Three is rapidly outgrowing his current wardrobe which means even more will be joining the heap and I need some help. How do I rid myself of the current piles of stuff and how do I ensure I don't gather too many more? Anyone? 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

My problem with the BiB awards...

On reflection how to decide who to vote for. 

Honest, I look at the categories and so many of them have some of my very favourite bloggers up against each other. And then, never being one for snap decisions (except unwise ones) I click off the page. 

For example in the New Voices! section, would I choose Edinburgh exile and fellow Scottishrounduper Dorkymum , my new blog pash Grenglish or the awesome tour de force that is Mammasaurus?

The Change! award is just baffling. A Boy With Aspergers and Aspie in the Family vie with our old chum Dorky. But it doesn't stop there, there is Typecast , the ever groovy Kate On Thin Ice, Anya the Older Single Mum and the inspiring Making It Up. Deciding is impossible, it's like having only one Easter egg and lots of children. 

Then to the Inspire! category. No easier here. Talented and generous Crystal Jigsaw is fighting it out with Doing it all for Aleyna and Touch and Tickle, all of whom have taken delivery of some tough stuff yet come out blogging beautifully. And all of whom were a great help when writing my book. 

Lit! Hmmm. No respite from indecision here. Susan K Mann, CJ and Hello It's Gemma are all worthy winners in my book. 

Obviously I'm a million miles from a Style! contender unless they introduce a Style As Long As It's Really Comfy! section. However, Transatlantic Blonde, Geek is the New Chic and Slummy Single Mummy are knockout, fashiony and also lovely, in fact Transatlantic Blonde almost persuaded me that false eyelashes might be a good (OK not ridiculous) idea.

I'd say the shortlisted nominations represent much of what is just brilliant about blogging - I suppose that's where the name came from. There are one or two bloggers listed I don't know, so I'm off to investigate. 

Not that any of this takes me any closer to knowing who I'm going to click on. Maybe everyone who reads this could vote for my friends in turn so they all get some love. If you wouldn't mind. 

And then, right there in the last section, this blog has been nominated too. To say I'm chuffed purple would be an understatement. Thanks so much to whoever nominated me. 

Oh, and here's where to go to vote for the Brilliance in Blogging awards.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Competition: Five sets of Crazy Soap for bathtime fun

Ducky nestles on foam under paint sun!
Three children - three different attitudes to personal hygiene.

Boy Three hasn't actually noticed that baths are for something other than playing. Washing him is a very damp experience for all concerned. 

Boy Two is nearly ten and a very reluctant acquaintance to the damp flannel.

Boy One, looking down the barrel of puberty, is taking it's physical changes seriously and spends prolonged periods in the shower. I don't ask. 

So when we got offered some Kids Crazy Soap to test I jumped at the chance. We got sent some goo, some foam and some paint. Both Boys Two and Three had a ball - wallowing, painting each other and making stuff out of foam. 

What we liked a lot: Crazy Soap is a huge pile of fun. It really did turn bathtime into a treat. They would also be really entertaining to use in the garden on a hot day with a paddling pool or hosepipe. I had wondered if the soap and chemicals would have an adverse affect on my boys' skin, but it didn't.

What we liked slightly less: The blue Crazy Paint actually left Boy Three's torso a ghastly shade of pale blue. I had to warn the nursery that he wasn't suffering some odd ailment. 

If you would like to have some Crazy Soap fun, I have five sets of Foam, Goo and Soap to give away. Just tell me who you'd most like to share a bath with to enter the draw. 

Crazy Soap is on Facebook. 

The competition closes on April 13 and all decisions are mine and final. 

Maria Knight
Sam from Testing Time
Ashley Allan
Kelly Hooper

Monday, 26 March 2012

You know you live with a toddler when...

For two mornings in a run, you wake up with "There's a worm at the bottom of the garden, and his name is Wiggly Woo." going through your head.

You find yourself sitting cross-legged on the floor in the Glasgow Science Centre singing Old Macdonald and you don't fear arrest. 

It's not uncommon to prepare a breakfast of lollypops on bagel. 

You find yourself offered a stone smoothie and are warned "it's a bit lumpy and tastes of stone".

Three-in-a-bed is a bad thing. 

You are familiar with the ways of Team Umizoomi and Bubble Guppies. 

Knowing your outfit is likely to be accessorised by dried bogies, you dress accordingly.

A soothing session of yoga is anything but. And what do you call a downward dog with a toddler hiding underneath, or a pigeon with added small boy on the back?

There isn't really any point in trying to find out why your glasses case is being filled with salt. 

"Me too," strikes a cold note of fear.

And so does: "Do it again."

Quiet, ordered and unsticky, however briefly, is a cause for celebration... only under your breath in case he hears.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Potty training for reluctant parents... please

If you have the entirely understandable attitude of not giving a flying fig about the continence or otherwise of my children, look away now. 

But it has come to this. Boy Three is two and three quarters. He's a big lad, he communicates well (and frequently) (and forcefully) and as far as I can see has a good understanding of what's going on in his body (once we established that fart does not, in fact, come out of his willy). However, he is not potty trained - far from it. 

There is a notion I'm fond of that one day, when he's ready, he will get up and say: "Mummy, today I will not wear a nappy because I am a Big Boy and will use the toilet."

In fact, it's not so much a notion as something I'm hoping for fervently. A dream. If I think it hard enough it'll come true. It will, won't it?

You see Boy Three is a wilful little mite. Actually, scratch that, he is wilful and not a little mighty. Battles must be picked with care and fought to the death. There will be yoghurt on the walls and Lego on the floor. 

Add to that the fact that his big brothers will do quite a lot for an easy life and his father is something of a pushover. Yes, you Panther. "It wasn't me, Boy Three made me do it." Ha.

So we have tried sitting him on the toilet, he's now too big for the potty. Out of dozens of goes he once produced one tiny dribble of wee to thunderous applause. 

Now we talk about it. "Would you like to have a wee on the toilet?"
"No thanks, I'd like a nappy."
"Big boys like you use the toilet."
"I'm too small. Can I have a nappy."
"What about the potty?"
"I'm too big. Get me a nappy."

Whereupon he helps himself to a nappy from the packet and climbs up onto the changing table.


Please tell me that my dream will come true and one day he will get up and the job will be done.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: Bombata 10” micro iPad briefcase – grown-up but not stuffy

Once upon a time there was a satchel….
It’s not easy this bag business, is it? I’ve long struggled to find the right thing to carry whatever I need for whatever job I happen to be doing.
Actually it isn’t really a satchel that sticks in my mind from school, but a bright orange shoe bag that with a wonderful (though probably highly toxic) smell. Does anyone remember them? There was a choice of sporty designs on them, wasn’t there?
And I’m sure the designs – footballers, basketball, hockey and the like bore no relation to my singularly un-sporty primary pupil self.
It was the start of a life-long work-bag related difficulty.  My high school bags – heavily laden – were practical and dull. I was gripped by envy at the girls who had funky, flimsy colourful ones. I never saw them falling to bits, but presumably they did.
At university I flirted with nudism – bare heaps of notebooks and files lugged about in a pile. Can’t remember why, but then I can’t remember much from those days.
In business desperately trying to look professional I tried old-school hard angular briefcases. They were either rattlingly empty or stuffed and impossible to navigate. Deeply unsatisfactory.  
My last briefcase got its marching orders shortly after my then husband’s mother’s dog weed over it. I took it to be a sign.

Journalism meant all I needed was a bag or pocket big enough for a notepad and pen. We didn’t even have phones in those days. But handbags have a way of swallowing all the pens that work so you are burrowing for one when you should be scribbling.

I never got it right in the world of PR – I was a jumble of briefcase/folder and bag. How were you supposed to carry everything you needed and still look effortless. Lord knows, ’cos I didn’t.

Now, I am occasionally called upon to visit professional people and look like I might, actually, know what I’m talking about so the problem has surfaced again. Worsened by the fact I don’t do it everyday…

But now I have the solution. Meet the Bombata 10” micro briefcase in the funkiest of purples (though available in a rainbow range) stocked by The Luggage And Bag Shop

What does the blurb promise?

Italian/European Look iPad Briefcase (I don’t have an iPad, but it’s perfect for my Samsung Galaxy Tab.)
Very light, made of high quality vinyl and silicone
Three pockets to store documents (There is also a zippy pocket and one for pens. The document part is A4 sized.
Shoulder strap and dust bag Included for travelling. (Does anyone actually use a dust bag for storage? Maybe I should start. Straps are long enough to use as shoulder straps or across your body)
Straps hold a netbook or tablet securely.
Laptop compartment dimensions: 9.6" x 7.5" x 1.5"
Size: 13" x 10" x 2"

What’s good about it? 

It looks very funky yet still manages to give an air of being grownup and tidy. I’m apt to let my handbag loll on the floor with the contents showing which does not give an air of professional competence.
It’s comfy and easy to carry.
There is space and you can find things.

What’s bad about it?

The handle on the short side takes a bit of getting used to. Weird, I know.
When using the cross-body strap the case can stick out a little.
You want one? 


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

My day in numbers: counting to ten slowly

5     bananas eaten by Boy Three
10   minutes taken to consume bananas by Boy Three

1     edition of cake-making part work delivered

2     things broken in kitchen due to cake-making by Boy One

1     sets of PE kit lost today

3     sets of PE kit lost since September 

1     deadline met

0     in boxes emptied

2     pairs of trousers soak by Boy One (various fluids)

45   minutes waiting for someone at Tax Office to talk to me

46   minutes children were quiet before rumpus erupted

16   fish fingers consumed 

6     interventions needed with Boy Three's cooking help

0     kitchen surfaces unscathed by Boy One's cooking

1     fantastic new band discovered 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Newspapers: what are you seen to read and does it matter?

I'm writing this fast to get it done before the Panther of News gets home from the Coalface of Truth and requires my attention. 

Today, in hopeful sunshine, we visited Glasgow's Botanic Gardens. The world had come out of their winter burrows and was enjoying the whiff of a new season. People were loafing about reading the papers and smiling. 

As the Boys chased the pigeons (badly, I swear the birds were laughing at them) and rolled down the hill in the mud I overheard a brief conversation. 

A couple were reading the papers on a bench. Another pair, obviously friends, hove into sight. There were hellos all round, then: "The Sun! Why are you reading that?"

The blushing paper reader was flustered at been caught in the act by a friend, and a rude one at that. There were blustered and stumbled excuses about some hideous mix-up in the paper shop but "seeing how I'd got it I thought I'd better see what was in it".

A likely story. 

One of the most interesting things about the Kindle revolution is that people now can read exactly what they want and on one knows. Previously, in the time of real books, you picked not just because of what you fancied, but of what you wanted to be seen reading. 

The same goes for newspapers, however they are consumed. When I worked for the Daily Star of Scotland, it was always the paper that disappeared from the piles in reception before its more grown-up stablemate the Scottish Daily Express. But no one ever liked to admit to being a Daily Star Reader. 

Similarly, the Daily Mail has become shorthand for anything wrong-headed, reactionary and illiberal. Who would want to be associated with that? Except that many, many people must be because it is extraordinarily successful and good at what it does, particularly online. 

My point? It's that the gap between what people want to read and what they want to be seen reading is ever widening. There must be a fair few folk who guiltily sneak a read of a red-top tabloid because the stories are good, well-written and  considerably less effort than the broad sheets. I did tweet with someone this week who quietly confessed the Daily Mail was her guilty pleasure - she's not alone, is she?

Maybe it's time for plain brown paper covers for our shameful favourite reads or, instead, to acknowledge that we're all going to be taking our laptops and tablets to the park instead of the papers. 

Review: 3D Eiffel Tower puzzle by Ravensburger

 When there's a jigsaw that requires testing, there is really only one boy for the job in our house - Boy One. He likes a jigsaw... a lot. 

So it fell to him to put the Ravensburger 3D Eiffel Tower puzzle through its paces. 

The blurb says: "Each jigsaw (there's also Big Ben and the Empire State Building, among others) has 216 pieces that are uniquely curved and hinged meaning no glue required. Using new technology, Ravensburger have been able to create fantastic puzzles to suit everyone from Big Ben to the Empire State Building and adding a new dimension to one of Britain's favourite pastimes. It's for children aged 10 and over - Boy One is 12.

What was good about it? It made a very satisfying, instantly recognisable Eiffel Tower. It kept Boy One busy for a couple of hours and hasn't fallen to bits yet - quite remarkable in this house. 

What's not good about it? The instructions frazzled my brain, but I didn't need to worry about it because Boy One understood. 

What Boy One said: "The 3D tower thing is OK. It's a bit hard, but it's worth it. The folding pieces are quite fiddly to get in place."

The puzzle costs around £16.

Review: Electric Plane Launcher

OK I am a little late to this party, but if the National Science and Engineering week lasts ten days then I think it's fine to join in at the end of the week. Perhaps they have achieved, by science and engineering, time travel.

National Science and Engineering week ran from March 9 until today and there were loads of events on the theme our world in motion. See, I told you there was time travel. 

There were more than 4,500 events throughout the country - none of which we attended. However, it's through lack of interest in matters sciencey. Regular readers will not that this is the family geek when it comes to outings and we are regularly to be found in the Glasgow Science Centre, or any other boffiny part of a museum. The Edinburgh Science Festival next month is already ringed in the calendar.

However, we did take part in our own little way. We were sent an Electric Plane Launcher kit to celebrate the event. 

It is for launching paper planes by means of electrics rather than launching electric planes, if you see what I mean. 

Boy Two - who is nearly ten - fancied having a go, although the kit is aimed at slightly older children. 

It didn't take too long for him to construct it, but what it required was carefully and symetrically folded planes. 

What was good? 
When we finally got it to launch planes that didn't jam or nosedive, it was impressive. Very satisfying. 

What wasn't good? 
It requires patience and attention to detail. 

Boy Two's opinion: "It was very, very, very, very, very fiddly and does not work unless you fold the paper plane right. But it was good when it worked."

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Thursday, 15 March 2012

This Mother's Day give yourself a pat on the back... you deserve it

So it's that day again, the Sunday where there will be whispering and plots, tea and toast in bed.

It's Mothers' Day.

Apparently it's all about appreciating us mums. Because we're worth it. Only quite a few of us don't believe we are. 

Have you noticed? The number of mums who are quick to label themselves "bad"? Only the other day a pregnant pal - first child - called herself "bad mummy" for scoffing a huge heap of chocolates. I was shocked, she hasn't actually given birth and she's setting herself up for the guilt trip. 

You see, theories about how to "parent" are legion. Are you baby weaning, baby wearing? Is Gina the queen o' your nursery? Will you be a SAHM or a WAHM, do the school run or hire a nanny? Are your kids veggies, will you tell them "no"? Make them do activities or let them slob on the sofa? Montessori, home ed, gifted or precocious? Are you a helicopter mum or a tiger mother? 

And whatever we opt for - or stumble into in a haze of broken nights and frustration - there will be strong opposition. The other way is best. How we bring up our kids, it seems, is everyone else's business as much as our own. 

And everywhere you turn there are celeb mums looking bloody marvellous, bright eyed, coherent and slender. Remember they are not role models, what you are seeing is a tiny stage managed sliver of an apparently pampered and glossy existence. Pay attention to them at your peril. 

And before reality TV and Spanx, there was a time when "parent" was still a noun and mothers weren't to blame for everything. Mums made things up on the spot while more or less doing the same as their mother's did... or the exact opposite, if they'd hated it. 

And are we deficient in any way because of it? Nope, thought not. I expect we turned out the same as the next generation and the one before us. Why? Because none of it makes a difference worth fussing about.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your children fed? 
  • Are they clothed? 
  • Are they protected from harm and abuse?
  • Are there books in your house? 
  • Do you talk to them? 
  • Do they get cuddles?
  • Do you tell them you love them?

If you answered yes, then you are a good mother... good enough, and that's the only measure you need. 

So please, this Mothering Sunday appreciate yourself and vow to stop this "bad mummy" bullshit - you are not a bad mother, so stop even thinking it.

Being a mum is demanding enough without thinking you're rubbish at it because you have failed to live up to the standards set by some, arguably crackpot, parenting expert. Or worse still, the Daily Mail. 

Happy Mothers Day.

PS I couldn't decide if it's Mothers' Day, Mother's Day or Mothers Day so I've used all of them. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

This week's daft questions and it's only Tuesday

This week I have been asked some special questions. Really special. 

In no particular order: 

Please can I have an iPad for my birthday? (Boy Two)

Can I have a subscription to a cake icing and sugarcraft partwork? (Boy One - talking about cake icing is a current obsession)

Did you know that when you get to puberty you get cheese stuff under your foreskin? (Boy One)

Are you working this week? (Panther of News)

What is the make and model of your router? (Seven different men from Talk Talk)

What is it like to have your period? (Boy One)

Can I have a lolly? (Boy Three)

Where is my ..... insert item? (Everyone)

What will you do with my room when I leave home? (Boy One who is only 12)

Is it my birthday? (Boy Three, after presenting me with a mother's day card, saying "it's for balentines" and singing happy birthday)

Monday, 12 March 2012

Playing space invaders with an Aspie

How do you help someone with Asperger's learn about personal space and other people's need for it? 

Honest, it's our current challenge from planet autism. Boy One seems to just get as close as he likes - in fact often ends up stood on or poked with an elbow. We know he can't help it, but it is fascinating to watch how it unsettles the rest of the world and how they react.

Some move away and some get cross. But Boy Three yells, really loud. 

I've been trying to work out why so many encounters between the brothers ends up with some high-volume altercation and I think some of it has to do with space. OK, there are quite a few instances where Boy One will deliberately poke his baby brother just for sport... but there's nothing unusual in that among siblings. 

No, what I'm talking about is Boy One getting into Boy Three's face for want of a better expression. He gets too close and Boy Three's siren goes off warning him to clear off. 

How can I stop him making the horrible sound? And, more importantly, how can I explain such a concept as an invisible area of private space to someone who doesn't understand? Especially as the space designated as private varies depending on who's doing the invading, where the invasion happens and the day of the week.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Silent Sunday

Review: Olly The Little White Van

Olly the Little White Van
Just when you were sure the world of children's TV didn't need any more talking vehicles, along comes one that leaves the peculiar Animal Mechanicals and deranged inhabitants of Bob's builders yard in the shade. 

Introducing Olly The Little White Van

He's white, van-like and tries to help. He also has a nice line in irritatingly catchy songs and is voice by the ubiquitous (but we don't mind really) Justin Fletcher

Where can I find him? He's on CiTV, on the internet at and, unsurprisingly, there will be toys and games on sale after Easter. 

What's good about Olly? He's cute, the stories make some sort of sense and he does try to help which is a good message for kids. Most importantly, though, Boy Three loved him - and demanded more "van". 

What's bad about Olly? Did I mention the irritatingly catchy music? And the whole thing has a vaguely familiar air about it, but let's not split hairs about whether or not kids' shows need to be innovative. 

Overall: Olly is the kids' telly equivalent of the nice boy your mother loved when you brought him home.

Disclosure: We were sent an Olly DVD to review.

PS There is a competition running on Olly's website giving children a chance to feature in the titles of the show.

Hands up if you find Justin Fletcher fascinating

We love Justin, Mr Tumble, Shaun the Sheep, Gail Force, Anna Conda or simply Justin. He's fantastic doing Makaton, falling over and especially looking in the spotty bag. I've spent hours gazing at him - while the kids watched, you understand - trying to work out just what it was about him.

So it was with great excitement that we put his new CD - Hands Up The Album - in the machine and cranked up the volume. (We are among the lucky few to get a sneak preview - it's available soon.) Within minutes we were all jigging around the kitchen. All of us, that is, except Boy Three who was having a puberty moment and saying: "Stop it now please. This is soooo embarrassing. Please stop. It's horrible."

We ignored him and carried on to the Hokey Cokey, Music Man, The Teddy Bear's Picnic.

"Stop it. I hate you," as Boys Two, Three and I did Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Nellie the Elephant and The Wheels on The Bus.

Proper good old fashioned top-of-your-voice fun for everyone, unless you are of a certain age like Boy One.

So Justin would still be on my Christmas card list if I had one, not least for giving me another guilty indulgence... singing along to his CD. So far, I have resisted putting it on when the kids are out, but they don't have to be in the same room for me to be giving it: "At six o'clock their mummies and daddies will take them home to bed..."

Thank you Justin for some good clean fun.

Disclosure: we were sent a copy of the CD to review.

PS Is it me or is JF's utter goodness and wholesomeness slightly unsettling? Does he have a dark secret?

PPS You too can stalk Mr F in cyberspace on twitter @_JustinFletcher or facebook.

Note: This was originally published last year, but taken down at the request of, ahem, Justin's people because the album release was delayed. It's out now which is why this is back up. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Why shouldn't gay people get married and other puzzling matters...

Moon for howling at
The rest of the world has gone chips-up-the-nose bonkers and I'm part of a tiny band of sane people left scratching our heads.

Here is this week's list of things I am bewildered by:

Gay marriage. Why shouldn't they? After all if Britain is broken and society more flaky than a Gregg's pasty, shouldn't more happy, legally-tied family units be welcomed? I'm astonished at the air time and column inches given to this when there are so many more pressing concerns.

Seeds sold as a snack. They are impossible to eat. I may as well empty the packet down the inside of my shirt.

Why Stacey Solomon is becoming the living embodiment of evil for having a fag or two while pregnant. Ok it's not the best, but shouldn't we save some bile for abusers, thieves, rapists, racists, and drunk drivers?

Wires. My house is full of them. Headphones, ear phones, chargers, connectors and other mysterious ones. Where do they come from and what can I do with them?

And trousers. As the nests of wires continue to expand, trousers are vanishing. Despite buying what feels like dozens of pairs of sensible ones for school, both Boy One and Boy Two say they can't find any. 

Oh and what did Boy Three do with the cheese grater? I can't find it anywhere, not even next to the rolling pin under the sofa.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Review: Without the right bra yoga is a bust

via Flickr Alan Weir

via Flickr Scott Ableman

via Flickr chijanofuji

via flickr Commonorgarden

You have probably gathered that I like the occasional downward dog, pigeon or half moon.

In other words I am no stranger to the yoga mat. I know that pose of a child doesn't mean looking shifty while quickly trying to hide a half-eaten sweetie.

But if you thought that getting my leg behind my ear was my biggest challenge, you'd be wrong.

It's not holding in a fart while maintaining an elegant pose. Nor is it not sniggering during oms.

No, it's finding the right bra for the job. A yoga bra. A karmic chest garment. Scanties for sun salutations.

What? But it's not as if you're jogging or doing start jumps.

True. But that's not it. Holding things entirely static is easy. Lots and lots of elastic, sturdy engineering and some cunning cantilevering. The result is a solid monoboob - a Lycra-covered buffer.

Obviously if you are from the species of the slender and willowy you can stop reading now and take yourself off to do some headstands.

And that's where the real problem lies - the inversions. These are the poses where you are upside down one way our another. 

If you are a sister to whom the titty fairy brought a bonus delivery, you find your bosoms fall upwards. Actually it's downwards like normal it's just the rest of you is the wrong way up.

The effect, particularly in things like a shoulder stand where your chin is tucked in is somewhat muffling. Imagine breathing deeply with a chubby toddler pretending to be your  scarf and you'll get the picture. I can lend you a toddler, if you aren't sure. 

And wearing a rigid exert-yourself bra with its resultant monoboob is even worse - there's no give, like a chubby toddler having a tantrum.

Add to this that yoga requires you to move freely - especially the ribs and back - and have some awareness of buried things such as your sternum, you begin to see the difficulty. 

So when Fionaoutdoors asked if I'd like to try a sports bra from Simply Sweat I jumped at the chance. After much dithering I picked one by Pure Lime that offered separation, compression, breathability and promises not to irritate. With features like this my hopes are high.

I have given it a whirl and so far, so stable and separate. I haven't hit the mat with quite the intensity I did the other week, but when I do I'll report back. Meantime, om shanti. sent me a Pure Lime bra to review. 


Friday, 2 March 2012

Acceptance: Feeding bananas to the mind monkey.

Speaking of monkeys... 
I can never decide if my urge to blog is similar to the restlessness athletes get if they don't run, or just another way of procrastinating...

Today I felt the itch but wasn't sure where to go. Another post about my yoga weekend (nah, really, who cares?), wondering why my nephew has a Scots accent yet my son doesn't, or something funny about an imaginary bar where they bring you the drink you look like you need?

No. So I asked the good folk of Twitter in the spirit of Ready Steady Cook. Sheonad from Touch and Tickle replied with "acceptance" and possibly "lubrication". 

Acceptance is clearly not my strong suit - especially as I so obviously know better than most people, particularly those with whom I live. Mission impossible would be accepting nose picking, unpracticed guitars, hands in pants, dropped clothes, cheek and poor lavatory aim. 

Instead, I'm going to try a new approach to dealing with my monkey mind. I'm not good at concentrating, never have been. My mother used to say I had a grasshopper mind. To which I'd reply: "Yeah, yeah, whate... what's that over there? the shiny thing?"

For my line of work it's idea. It means I can find out lots about one subject fairly quickly and then move on from it the moment it gets boring - usually about eight minutes later. 

But even I'm getting fed up with being unable to get the thing to sit still for a while. Worse than a toddler on Irn Bru. I'm always hopping from Facebook, to the news, to Twitter, to the work I'm actually supposed to be doing, to Twitter, to Outlook, to the middle distance, to Twitter and so on. I get so distracted it's hard to remember what I opened Google for or what I went upstairs for (yes, yes, I know..).

I had long convinced myself that this was a Good Thing and a sign of mental agility and versatility. Although I was beginning to have my doubts, I didn't concentrate on them long enough to arrive at a conclusion. 

But during last weekend's yoga immersion I learnt that Ms Monkey really isn't a very welcome guest. Focus, instead, was what it's about. You can't balance or meditate properly if your mind is swinging from branch to branch miles away. And, indeed, that focus is one of the harder things. Harder than having your leg over your shoulder, almost. 

However, as with all things yogi and most things in life, you can't achieve that much by simply shoving as hard as possible. Or you can, but it's exhausting. Understanding, cunning, patience and creativity will yield - in my experience - a better result. However, it's much harder to get going with these things than it is with a mindless display of brute force (even the mental kind). 

So, I'm not going to banish the monkey, I'm going to welcome it, lob it a banana, laugh at its antics, rub its sore head better and hope it might learn to be a good monkey and sit quietly for a while so I can do something productive.

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