Saturday, 14 September 2013

Week 5: Going the distance By Marilisa

It's hard to believe we're already over a month into the challenge. When I think "nine months" I think "forever", but I'm starting to realise that's because I think of "nine months" in terms of pregnancy, and, in my case, HG. So it turns out that a month passes really quickly when you don't feel like you're dying - who knew?

In terms of training it feels like no time has passed, and that I've not done enough yet. But I'm looking at the figures and I can see that I am actually improving, at approximately the speed of a heavily-laden snail going up a very steep hill. But still! I may be far from anything anyone might call athletic yet, but I am gradually moving away from completely sedentary.

In keeping with this, this week I am very pleased to have completed the longest distance I've done so far in all three disciplines. Looking back at the numbers, I've increased my swimming distance by 50% since the start - and I'm getting much faster, too. Today I did my longest walk yet - and brought down my 5k time significantly. A quick calculation shows that my cycling distance is about 3.7 zillion times better than it was the first week, when I wasn't quite sure where the pedals were. They're all small improvements, but all moving in the right direction.

As autumn draws in, it's getting harder to get the right circumstances for training. A couple of weeks ago I was walking to the pool while it was still light; now I'm taking the bus as it's pitch-dark at the same time of day. I'm grateful to my husband for kicking me out to the pool twice this week when I just wanted to curl up on the sofa. And this morning my friend Lissa sent me a photo of a painted giraffe sculpture that's turned up near her office (a fundraiser for Colchester Zoo, it appears) - as I was short of a photo for this week's blog, I decided I would walk there after work and take a photo of one of the giraffes. That decision spurred me to take my walk even though it was raining. Here's the evidence:

Masai Giraffe! In the rain!

The boring numbers

Week 5
Swim: 2 sessions, 1100m total, 50 mins
Bike: 1 session, 3km, 16 mins
Walk: 4 sessions, 10.4km total, 1h 45mins

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Friday, 13 September 2013

The Pirate Family by Emilie

First off I need to apologise for my absence over the past couple of weeks. I went back to work at the beginning of September (boooooooo!) so have been trying to get used to juggling work full time and having two kids. Not easy! So what have I been up to these past couple of weeks... Well, it doesn't seem like much when I look back but I have been busy!

To help me kick start my whole 'getting into shape' I'm taking part in a six week programme aimed at new mums. This programme is still in its trial stage and I'm one of the lucky guinea pigs currently trying it! I have a diet plan to follow and a series of exercises to complete daily. I feel like I'm getting on ok; I'm weighing in weekly and have so far lost 4lbs which I'm happy with! When you put that with the 3lbs I lost at the start of the 'nine months of...' campaign, that's a good 7lbs!! Woooo! I'd be happy to keep going like this until I become a slender size 10! Pah!! As if I will EVER be a size 10!

I've also made it up another hill! I went up Ben A'an with Richard and the pup. And what an amazing hill it was! I loved it, it was so beautiful at the top, the views were amazing. 

View from the top.
I sat at the top, ate my chicken salad and texted an amazing lady I'm currently supporting through HG. This lady means a lot to me and my wee family, so it meant a lot to be able to share this experience with her. When I felt like I was dying and could barely lift my head off the pillow, she was there for me every day. It was her words of encouragement that made me decide to give myself these goals to achieve. It breaks my heart to think of her suffering now.

Half way up Ben A'an.

Richard had a graduation ceremony which we attended last Friday. It was a lovely day (albeit blinking cold!) and a great excuse to dress up all posh. The kids were all colour co-ordinated and I even put make up on! Then as soon as we got home Fergus got the treasure map and sticks (which he uses as swords) out and we became the pirate family again. This seems to be a reoccurring game with him, I say game but really it's more of a alternative lifestyle, I think. He changes his accent, we all get called by our pirate names; Pirate Mummy, Pirate Daddy, Pirate Dog, Apprentice Pirate - yes, Murphy is the apprentice. He even phones us from his imaginary pirate phone and it can last for days at a time! The only thing he hasn't quite grasped is the fact pirates like Rum... He's convinced they only drink tea! But I'll let him carry on believing that until he's at least 21! 

Fergus looking more like a pixie than a pirate.
I just love his imagination and look forward to every day with him and his brother. These memories are the memories that make suffering HG all the more worthwhile.

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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Butternut Squash Risotto by Muma Dean

Ok so I'm sure people would be up in arms about me calling this risotto when I haven't even used aborrio rice and slowly added the stock a ladle at a time, but lets get real... I've got three kids, a farm and a charity to run... Time is not on my side!

The beauty of this dish is the ease as a weekday meal. Although I've used bacon and chicken stock you can obviously make it veggie by omitting the bacon and using veg stock. You can also use whatever strength cheese you want from mild to vintage. It actually makes a really good baby food if you omit the bacon and use a weak stock or just water so as to reduce the salt content – Ideal for baby led weaning!

This is for 5 people but it's easy to adjust, it's also great cold and I tend to make extra for pots in the freezer and for packed lunches.

2 onions, diced up
A pack of bacon chopped into little pieces
A medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubed chunks, or there abouts
500g basmati rice
1.5l stock, chicken or veg
250g of cheddar cheese

Soften the onions in a little oil and a knob of butter in a big pan with the lid on – lowest heat. Soften them really well. Add the bacon and continue on a low heat for another 10 mins or so while you chop up the squash. Add the squash and soften that for a good while. I'm not sure how long, maybe about 20 mins, but basically until the squash cuts easily but is still in proper cubes.

Add the rice, stir it around and when it's warm add the stock – yes, all in one go, shock horror!

Stir and bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down and simmer gently for around 12-15 mins. It takes longer than it would to cook just as plain rice.

Once the rice is cooked take it off the heat and stir through the cheese.

Serve with a green salad and be warned... it's easy to over eat!

Obviously, you could do this “properly” with Arborio rice and adding the stock slowly, worth doing if entertaining friends, in which case I would suggest switching half the stock for white wine. But I do it like this as a family weekday meal and the kids love it!

Don't forget, if you like this recipe and use it a small donation to PSS via my BTMyDonate page is greatly appreciated – Thanks :)

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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

How hard could a heart be? - The crochet pattern challenge continues... by Amanda

Well, following on from last week's post, I am pleased to say that I have finally figured out how to get a lovely heart shaped motif onto the front of a baby beanie.

The problem is, I made the beanie slightly out of proportion. It fits my 2 year old's head perfectly around the circumference but it a little too long. It has ended up looking more like a "slouchy" beanie than a well fitting one, and that messes with the heart motif slightly.

But the hardest part is now over. I have figured out the hook size and number of stitches needed to get the right circumference and the basic heart shape is complete. Now all I have to do is adjust it slightly to fit into less rows to make sure the hat is the right size.

Honestly, if you had seen my frustration this week when trying to get the heart shape just right you'd have had a little chuckle! I tried visualising it my head, I then put it down on squared paper and it all looked right, but then I discovered that I had made a silly error... the stitch I was using is longer than it is wide and so a perfect heart shape on squared paper was becoming distorted in the actual hat. I made several attempts before I figured that one out!

Thankfully, my trusty "crochet guru" came to my rescue and suggested I use an excel spreadsheet to create a pattern where the length of the squares reflected the length of the stitches. And it worked a treat.

So hopefully this week I shall have chance to perfect the design and get the pattern tested and turned into a PDF download. Then you can all start having a go yourselves.

And if you can't crochet, don't worry there will be some of these hats in the auction next May as I will make a few more to test the pattern!      

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Monday, 9 September 2013

Week 5 – Planning, Preparation and Pre-emptive Pills by Helen

Nine months of 9k Week 5 – Location: Hampton Court Palace

Anna and I went on BBC Radio Surrey’s Breakfast show with James Cannon this week which was a hilarious disaster! While I attempted to tell Surrey about Nine Months Of Anna crawled around my ankles, squealed, laughed and then screamed at the top of her voice at length while the cat whinged in the background. A particularly brilliant demonstration of how not to do a radio interview. What is it they say about animals and children?

Nerves frazzled and planning emigration to another planet, we accidently did 10k this week. Another 27 degree day, we spent the cooler hours walking the grand halls of Hampton Court Palace and loitering in the manicured gardens, then in the intense midday sun we took to the Thames Path towards Kingston for our walk. Not the best plan ever made. 10k later we stumbled back to the Palace totally exhausted, wilting in the heat and desperate for a sit down. We collapsed in the shade of a tree in the gardens. Well, I did. Anna had slept the whole 10k (standard) and the minute she was released from her stroller, took off across the grass at warp factor 10. Sigh.

Ooh is this my new house!?

Excuse me, but you're in my Palace. Kindly leave. 

This is not a suitable throne. Resolve immediately. 

Time for a walk? Time for a nap. 

I shall destroy my new gardens as I see fit. Now, get me a rusk.

Thank you so much to my Mum and Dad for donating £50 this week! In week 5 of pregnancy my Mum was happily oblivious that in a week’s time she’d be flying down to London from Aberdeen to be a full-time carer for her own first-born!

Nine months of HG Week 5 – Planning, Preparation and Pre-emptive Pills

A previous encounter with HG led me to do a huge amount of my own internet trawling and research into the condition, and so planning, preparation and pre-emptive medications were on the priority list in week 5. A GP appointment was my first call and I was genuinely surprised and delighted to discover that my GP had previous patient experience of HG and was happy to support me should I need it. Tick. Second on the To Do List was the local pharmacy where I stocked up on Cyclizine and Vitamin B6 and took the first dose as agreed with my GP. Little did I know that this was the first dose of many medications to come!

Feeling pretty smug with my progress thus far and only feeling mildly queasy, I carried on as normal with great intentions of eating well, exercising and spending silly amounts of money on baby clothes. With my GP on board and already on the HG treatment pathway, I felt confident that this was going to be alright, actually. Piece of cake! Ooh cake…eating for two, yes!?

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