Gilded Cage by Vic James

I downloaded Gilded Cage by Vic James on the recommendation of Chelley Toy from Tales of Yesterday Book Blog, it is one of the Debut of the Month books for January for the British Book Challenge 2017. And I am so glad that I did! From start to finish I didn’t put the book down once, even for my scrumptious tea cooked by my long-suffering husband.

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy? (Goodreads)

When I read the Goodreads summary for Gilded Cage I wasn’t particularly excited, but within 5 minutes of reading this book I knew that I was hooked and would greedily devour the trilogy without a second thought. The story is based in a sort of alternative reality for the world today, same countries, regions, traditions but with one big difference – the presence and influence of Skill in the world. Skill is magic for want of a better word and the aristocrats of England have it they are the Equals, the commoners are those without skill and those who must give up a decade of their lives in slave labour (think national service). This difference has led to a gaping difference in how society has grown and developed.

It is in this new society that we meet our main characters, you are first introduced to this world through Luke, a commoner, who is about to be dragged from his comfy family life and into the slavetown of Millmoor. His family has made the decision to complete their slavedays now, all together, but of course something goes wrong. So whilst Luke’s parents, sisters Abi and Daisy head off to the grand estate of the Parva-Jardines Luke heads to what is essentially a work camp. There he meets a ragtag group of revolutionaries and his story unfolds. I liked Luke, he is a believable character and you do warm to him easily. You feel his pain as he takes the beatings from the guards, his worry and concern for his family, his determination to make a difference no matter how small.

As for the rest of the family, their plan for all of them to serve their slavedays at Kyneston estate didn’t quite turn out. Instead Abi, Daisy and their parents are delivered to this grand family as a broken unit, Abi feels she is to blame as she sought out this assignment for the whole family in the first place and now they are split and Luke is alone. Curious about the world of those with Skill, Abi, a clever but naive girl has spent too long reading romance novels which seems to steer her in the wrong direction. Despite being accepted to medical school and having more than enough brains, it is this schoolgirl fantasy of forbidden love which gets her into trouble. I found Abi harder to warm to than other characters, flitting from determined and level-headed to girlish and just downright silly.

However, the characters that most fascinated me were those with Skill; the Equals. You are supposed to be fascinated by them, they are different, secret, holed away in their estates with the power to delete the memories and knowledge of any commoner who finds out something they shouldn’t. The development of these characters was what I found the most addictive part of the book, you start with impressions and ideas and some of them are wholly flipped on their head and some characters you just keep learning more and more about them.

The book is told from multiple first person narratives, switching between protagonists at a brisk pace keeping you interested and eager to find out what happens next. There are plenty of twists and turns, some of which you see coming and some that you don’t and leave you sat with your gob open like a right sexy minx. Overall, there is a dark and gritty feeling that you aren’t quite expecting from the opening few pages and it draws you into their world in such a way that its impossible to escape, it becomes your reality whilst you read. This is undoubtedly why I picked up and finished this book in under 6 hours, I cant honestly say another book has gripped me like this for quite a while.

Whilst I’m not a hardcore fantasy reader, I do like to get stuck into the big stories and as a fan of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and more this is a trilogy I am really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into!

British Book Challenge 2017

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Escape by Kate Cann

Kate Cann was one of my favourite Young Adult Fiction authors and I read quite a few of her books in my mid to late teenage years, so when I spotted Escape as one I had missed I was very excited to pick it up.

Escape by Kate Cann

Rowan thinks spending her gap year in the USA will be the best thing she’s ever done. Her family’s driving her mad, and she desperately needs to get away from the relentless what-are-you-going-to-do-with-the-rest-of-your-life? parental pressure.

America, land of the free here I come…

But after starting to work for psychotic Sha and her hot-housed kid in Seattle, Rowan feels more trapped than ever. Enough is enough. Taking Iggy the unloved iguana with her – he deserves some freedom, too – she hits the road. Suddenly, with only a rescued lizard for company and California in her sights, she’s sure escaping to America was the best thing to do after all… (Goodreads)

As usual Cann’s writing style is easily accessible and instantly engaging. Escape is pure escapism – sorry I had to say it – bringing you into Rowan’s world and whilst this isn’t as fun when stuck in the cramped Nanny room, once you get to the lake its pure heaven. Cann has you drooling over scents, landscapes, food and *ahem* men in this story the way only a good story-teller can. So whether you are snuggling under a duvet in December or sunning it on a sandy white beach in August, this is the perfect book to warm you up.

You warm to Rowan easily, which is handy as a main character, you feel her frustration, excitement, trepidation and go through her romance woes right along side her. Although at times you feel like screaming at her its part of the pull of the story, you have to see if she gets through it.

I loved the addition of Iggy the iguana, he gives another dimension, another pull to the story and although used mainly as a catalyst I love his cheeky character.

One thing that stood out to me about Cann’s books when I first started to read them was the sex scenes, at the age I started reading them this was a new addition as my previous young adult fiction had skirted round the edges of an age group not quite ready for this. Cann focusses on the 18-21 character age group, so sex is starting to be a key point of their life and she uses this in her writing to explore and understand the characters further. In Escape, these scenes are written well with no awkwardness and add to the story well – not to mention a very enjoyable bit of escapist sizzle…

Overall, this is a great easy read book that is well written and provides a great opportunity for escapism. As a fan of Kate Cann’s writing this book was as expected and I thoroughly enjoyed it, looking forward to many more from this author (including the ones I’ve already ordered and got stashed in the corner).

British Book Challenge 2017

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The painful painful joy…

The moment a friend calls, messages or arranges to see you and then goes on to present you with that grainy black and white blurry image, the first picture of their soon-to-be bundle of joy. Oh it is lovely, heart warming and exciting isn’t it?

That is, unless, you are on the trying to conceive journey yourself.

Then your heart starts to sink, your throat starts to tighten and the corners of your eyes to start prick. Your head is going into overdrive, trying to calm yourself down, present a strong front, don’t cave, be a grown up.

Then it is just straight painful, in more ways than one.

First, there is the selfish kick that takes over you, the jealousy that they got the thing that you want the most. Their hopes and dreams had been answered, but yours haven’t. This feeling is almost overpowering as it engulfs you that the thing that you have been hoping, trying and praying for has come to someone else.

Secondly, you feel like a horrible person as instead of being excited for your friend and loved one you have jumped straight to thinking about yourself. When actually, you are very happy for your friend, that they have now got the chance to embark on such fantastic journey and welcome a new little person into their lives.

You want to go through this journey with them and enjoy each minute. You want to look at little socks and scratch mitts with them without breaking down inside wishing it was you and not them. So what do you do? Do you tell them? Do you bottle it up inside? I suppose the answers to these totally depend on who the person is to you.

The alternative is of course, when it isn’t a grainy blurry photo but instead a teary phone call or a white face at the door asking for help and advice. Then of course, you really do have to pull yourself together and support your friend through their feelings and decisions, because right now what you want and what you think doesn’t matter. That’s the way it should be, because as painful as it is for you talking about this; getting pregnant is a personal thing and you can’t pin your hopes, dreams and feelings on other people’s experiences.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to write this post is just to show that you are not alone and it is totally normal to feel these things. When you are trying for your own child, no matter how long you have been trying, it is always difficult to deal with the totally messed up mash of emotions when a friend or family member tells you that they are expecting. The best way I have found of coping in these situations is to let myself wallow for a small period of time, assuming that the person hasn’t told me face to face I can have five minutes to cry it out, or sulk like a proper grown up. If the husband is feeling particularly loving I might get a hug and a consoling pat, as a Yorkshire man that’s about as effusive as he gets. Then I log onto MumsnetMumsnet or Babycentre and talk to some of the longterm groups I am on, or just have a nosy at other people’s posts and stories and this helps me feel a bit more normal, reminds me that other people feel like this. Then I focus on the positive, my friend/family member is soon going to be welcoming a squishy little bundle that I can coo over and spoil.

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Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs Dalloway is a book that I have started, put down and started and put down a thousand times. After graduating with a degree in English I am not quite sure how I managed not to read it until now but, now that I have ill have a go at reviewing it.

Mrs Dalloway Cover Image

So just to start with, here is a quick summary from my Wordsworth Classics copy –

Virginia Woolf’s singular technique in Mrs Dalloway heralds a break with the traditional novel form and reflects a genuine humanity and a concern with the experiences that both enrich and stultify existence. Society hostess, Clarissa Dalloway is giving a party.

Her thoughts and sensations on that one day, and the interior monologues of others whose lives are interwoven with hers gradually reveal the characters of the central protagonists. Clarissa’s life is touched by tragedy as the events in her day run parallel to those of Septimus Warren Smith, whose madness escalates as his life draws towards inevitable suicide.

I did find the book a little difficult to get into at first and so had to return to some advice my mum gave me as a kid when I started reading Lord of the Rings at aged nine. “If a passage confuses you, read it twice and then move on – if its important it’ll slot in, if it’s not it won’t matter.” It was the best advice I was ever given for tackling new texts. This was a tactic I had to employ a lot with Virginia Woolf’s novel, not because the text was necessarily difficult but because of how it was written. Mrs Dalloway is written from the point of view of each of the characters switching from one to the other in a stream of consciousness style. This can make it difficult to get into when reading it, however once you have settled in to the style you are transported and are well and truly in the minds of Woolf’s characters. A true form of escapism into someone else’s world.

The imagery throughout is beautiful, taking you into little corners of London and showing it in ways you had never thought of before. The writing really truly does draw you in to the world and time of Mrs Dalloway and her contemporaries. You see the world from their point of view, through their memories and personalities, from Septimus’ depressive and manic states to Hugh’s ambition and pompousness.

I have to say, although I found the book difficult at first as a reader who enjoys chapters and structure (even though I write more like Woolf) I became inevitably sucked into this world. I enjoyed learning more about the characters, their pasts and the way this influenced how they see their lives and the world around them. I’m going to leave the academic reviews and insights into the meanings and interpretations of Woolf’s texts and characters to those much cleverer than me. Overall it was a fascinating way to travel London in the summer of 1922 and I would recommend this book.

British Book Challenge 2017

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Personal Reading Challenge 2017

Personal Reading Challenge 2017

For 2017 I have set myself a personal challenge to read a book a week or 52 books before the end of the year!

British Book Challenge 2017

This is also linked in with me taking part in the British Book Challenge 2017. Which is being hosted by Chelley Toy at Tales of Yesterday Book Blog.

Tales of Yesterday

In this post i am going to link to each of the 52 books i have read and reviewed, another way to make sure i do it!!!

  1. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
    • For The Fat Girl’s review click here
    • For Goodreads reviews click here
  2. Escape by Kate Cann
    • For The Fat Girl’s review click here
    • For Goodreads reviews click here
  3. Gilded Cage by Vic James
    • For The Fat Girl’s review click here
    • For Goodreads reviews click here
  4. Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson
    • For The Fat Girl’s review click here
    • For Goodreads reviews click here
  5. After You by Jojo Moyes
    • The Fat Girl’s review to come shortly
    • For Goodreads reviews click here
  6. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
    • The Fat Girl’s review to come shortly
    • For Goodreads reviews click here
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Well meant trying to conceive “help” and “advice”

As most people can attest, when trying to conceive, when you are pregnant and when you have kids is a joyous time. Your closest friends and family, work colleagues and even strangers on the bus will share their experience and know how with you – whether you want them to or not.

Have you tried? yep

We have not told many people that we are trying, however there are a few people in each of my social circles who have either figured it out or who I have confided in that we are hoping for our own little bundle of joy. In doing this I have learnt a lot about my friends and their hidden, secret selves, the secret selves who have a doctorate in fertility specialisms, who know everything about everything and you must listen to what they say and follow it to the letter! Or god help you as you will never be blessed with a child.

I’m sure you all know just what I mean… and have experienced just this!

Most people are happy and excited for you and as such eager to help see you on your way, others lean more toward the smug-I-know-better-look-at-me-and-my-perfect-kids end of the spectrum. (Can you tell I’m losing patience?) Angry OvarySome of the gems I’ve received have been hilarious! From advice on positions, technique, products to *ahem* enhance, diet, weight , personality types, drugs, even the fact that owning dogs makes your eggs shrink!

Some of the advice has been genuinely helpful, reassurance and relatable experience, however to my dismay most of it has been prescriptive and judgemental. The assessment of myself and my husbands every move, weights, dispositions, diets and general attitude to life. And this is help and advice which is not welcome, not helpful and just downright rude. 

But perhaps the most painful has been the criticism of how I am coping personally. As a type A organised personality I like to know what is happening when, organise it, plan it, prepare for it and god no surprises. But I know, trust me I know, that this is not possible when trying to conceive as it just doesn’t work like that. However, I am coping by understanding, reading, researching and tracking things, this is what helps me sleep at night and not stress all day. It’s great if relaxing and just enjoying a whole load of Russel Brand style sex helped you, honestly it is and way to go girl.  But please, don’t tell me off or make me do it your way and I won’t make you do it my way.

RELAX!

So, I say this with respect and gratitude, and probably for couples everywhere, I appreciate that you are excited for us and hopeful and want to help. But unless I ask? Please don’t give me advice or tell me the way that I am coping is wrong, I’m coping and getting on with my life and that takes strength every day of this journey.

(Also I solemnly swear that when I’m a smug-I-know-better-look-at-me-and-my-perfect-kids you have permission to shove a sock in my gob!)

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Paris Lady 50 Denier Plus Size Tights

The Paris Lady 50 Denier Microfibre Tights from The Big Tights Company are what I’m shouting about today. And shout I shall because they are amazing plus size tights!

I am already a big fan of The Big Tights Company, after reading about them on Georgina Horne’s blog Fuller Figure Fuller Bust I had to try them out. As a woman with a sizeable arse and thighs that could crush melons I really struggle to find tights, plus size or not, that will cover my hams and as such end up living in leggings. I love my vintage dresses and they really demand some silky nylons, but with these legs that seemed hopeless until I found TBTC and these fantastic plus size tights.

 Paris Lady 50 Denier Microfibre Tights - my new favourite plus size tights

Paris Lady 50 Denier Microfibre Tights worn by the lovely George from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust

I bought their All Woman 180 Denier Tights first as I was intrigued by the style and their full coverage was just what I needed in winter and I was hooked from there. I have also bought their All Woman anti chafing knickers with lace for our honeymoon in Barbados, you can read my review of them here. There are now a number of their items on my wish list and not just their plus size tights!

Now, to the task at hand! The Paris plus size tights were bought to accompany a slinky off the shoulder number for a night out in Manchester this month. I’d read the reviews and was sure that, although a bit pricey at £16.95 each these were the tights for the occasion. I opted for black out of the three choices of black, deep pink and deep purple and they arrived promptly and with no issues.

At first glance they are no different to the tights you can get in M&S and I admit I was worried that they were not going to fit as they didn’t seem to have much stretch on my hand. But they went on with ease, well as much as you can get putting on a pair of tights. I am 5’5″ and around a size 20, with most of that focussing on my hips and thighs so I always struggle when I get past my knee; but in these beauties there was not one moment of panic. Loads of elasticity and enough body in them to cover my bust if I wanted, but they held their shape and had no baggyness in them whatsoever. Most importantly no signs of being too fragile, normally I put my badly manicured nails through anything but not these tights. I was able to shove and twist and pull and shimmy and pretty much be as ungainly as if I was putting them on my rugby playing husband without an ounce of worry about them ripping or laddering.

My legs looked shapely and slinky in them, no signs of elephant style sagging. The denier was good, not too opaque or see through and gave me a good vintage style look to match my outfit.

In wearing them for a full day and night they were comfy, lots of give, no chafing or awkward positioning. The only thing that I found a bit difficult was pulling the gusset into place under layers of petticoats after nipping to the loo, but I think that was more me and the prosecco than the tights.

So, all in all I am still a massive fan of the The Big Tights Company and really recommend their products. I just wish their pricing was a bit more suited to a tighter income, but that isn’t going to stop me shopping there – after all the first pair of tights I bought from them are a year old and still going strong!

The Big Tights Company - Purveyors of my favourite plus size tights

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How/Why Do I Track Body Basal Temperature (BBT)?

DISCLAIMER – I think it’s really important that I put this at the top. I am not a doctor, I do not have any medical training and everything in this post is purely anecdotal from my own experience and things I have researched myself. 

Okay, still here? Good. Well as you know we are trying to conceive our first at the moment and have been trying for around 7/8 months now and its kind of passed the exciting stage and is now more in the difficult “why the hell isn’t it happening?!” stage… With that in mind I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt along the way as they may help someone else and today I am focussing on charting body basal temperatures, BBT or temping for those who are used to the short hand.

I started off all excited and eager and to help pay into my need to understand I threw myself into researching what happens when you are trying to conceive. In particular I was shocked about how little I knew about how my own body worked and wanted to know more about this and how I could track what it was doing each cycle. Temping was one of the first things I started to do because it was cheap and easy and it helped to feed into my need to control know what is going on. So here goes with my explanation on how to help you get started and what you can learn.

The Thermometer

Firstly get yourself a good little BBT thermometer and you do not need to spend a fortune, you actually get them pretty cheap. This is the one I bought, click here for the link.

BBT Thermometer

I like this one as it is pretty handy, it holds the record of your temperature until you take the next one. This is a handy little feature as it gets difficult to read it at stupid o clock in the morning each day, this will make more sense in a minute. It has a very easy to use large on/off button, helpful for half asleep movements, and has a little beep when it is turned on, when it has finished taking a reading and when it is turned off. It also comes in a handy little clear plastic clippy box which helps to keep it clean and stop me losing it between my pillows.

Something important to check is do you use celsius or farenheit? Make sure that you get the thermometer with the correct read out or one that comes with options. Personally I use celsius just because farenheit is total gobbledegook to me.

Right, so, have you got your handy little thermometer? Now to get started. There are lots of good websites out there to help you guide you through things a bit better than I can but here is my layman’s description.

When do I do it? (ooh err)

So the not fun thing about temping is that it must be done at the same time every day after at least 3/4 hours sleep. It also must be done before you move, sit up, talk, have a scratch, take a piss or jump on the bed like a child to wake up your husband – I know totally unreasonable isn’t it. This to me is the worst bit because I usually wake up at different times throughout the week and kept forgetting to sit like sleeping beauty with the thermometer sticking out of my gob. So! I have an alarm set every morning with a different tune to my normal alarm, it is also at least half an hour before I have to wake up on my earliest morning. At first this was a total ballache but now ive gotten into a routine – alarm goes off – turn thermometer on – stick thermometer in gob – wait for the beep to signify it is finished – turn it off and put it back in its box – go back to sleep for as long as possible – then when I finally wake up I can turn my light on and read my temp in my own time.

I know everyone has their own morning routines and I tried for a while to avoid the earlier alarm as I hated it, but I just kept forgetting and in the end it was the best option for me.

Why can’t I do it when I visit the loo when I get up?

Well some people do and it works fine, however in my experience and from what I’ve read this isn’t the most reliable way to do this. When I tried doing mine in the loo after waking up my temps were all over the place and it wasn’t at a consistent time every day which only made things harder. Medically speaking moving or talking in any fashion will change your bbt, this is why it is so important to do it after a long rest period and before moving, Also going from a nice snuggly bed to a cold bathroom will inevitably affect your temperature.

Why does it need to be the same time every day?

Honestly? I don’t know, I probably have read it but that bit of information hasn’t stuck in my head. But what I can tell you from experience is that if you don’t stick to the same time each day it really does mess with your chart. If you work shifts there are some really good websites out there with better advice than I can give. But if you are just like me and hate alarms and morning in general this is one of those things you will have to suck up if you decide to temp.

Right so I’ve not moved and I’ve done it at the same time each morning, now what?

Okay, this is where it starts to get interesting and help you see what is going on. Firstly decide how you want to track your temperature; you can do this on paper with downloadable and printable charts like this one.

Celsius_Basal_Body_Temperature_Chart

Or you can use an app on your tablet or smart phone to record your temperatures. Because the key thing is that you should record them and plot them out on a graph, this is where you will start to understand what is going on and how your own cycle works. I’ve used the babycentre, Ovia and Fertility Friend apps on my phone and settled with FF just because it suited my needs best but there are lots of options out there so find one which suits you best.

When it comes to tracking your temp you can be as involved or stand offish as you like. Most apps/graphs will give you an opportunity to record other things as well; such as any symptoms, cervical mucus or cervix position, when you’ve had sex, when you’ve had your period, any tests you’ve taken. But these are all things for another post! But do have a look around and see what your options are.

Okay, I’ve taken my temp, plotted it on my graph/app now what?

Now you wait and see what happens, your temperature will tell you quite a bit about where you are up to in your cycle. Here is the basic guide to what it will usually do.

For the first half of the month your temp will generally be low, in celsius terms it usually ranges from 36.00 to 36.40 depending on the individual but it can go up and down.

During ovulation your temperature will drop significantly and be followed by a quick rise that will continue to rise and stay high for the rest of the month. Usually your temp drop has to be followed by three days of higher temperatures to be confirmed as ovulation. 

After ovulation your temperatures will stay high until you get your period or confirmation that you are pregnant. If the former happens your temperature will plummet to the pre-ovulation temps around the first day of your period, if the latter happens your temp will stay high or even continue to rise. This after ovulation, pre-period time is often referred to as the two week window/wait or more medically correct as the Luteal Phase.

I have included my chart from my first month of temping properly, as you can see it stayed high and I stopped temping on day 32 – this is the day I got a bfp (big fat positive pregnancy test) but unfortunately I had an early miscarriage and started temping again in August. It is however my most “typical” chart. You can see I had ovulated on day 15 and my last temperature was taken on the day I got my bfp and so stopped temping for that month. 

My July Temp Chart

And just for you to compare below is my chart from November, test yourself see if you can figure out when I ovulated etc.

My BBT Chart Nov

Now I am conscious that this post is getting really long so please do bugger off whenever you feel like it! I just want to clarify a last few bits that I asked all the time when I first started –

What are the red horizontal and vertical lines on everyones charts?

These are the cover/base line and the ovulation mark respectively. The horizontal line is called the cover line and is based on your typical pre-ovulation temperature, this is used to help you confirm ovulation and track your post-ovulation temps and predict if your period is on its way. The vertical line is to show the differentiation between the first and second half of your cycle clearly.

The important things about these two lines are that every app produces them in a slightly different way with slightly different meanings, IE. dotted lines/dashed lines/solid lines mean different things so it is important to check which yours uses and what the different meanings are.

My temperature fluctuates a lot either above/below the line pre ovulation, is this a bad thing?

Nope, it is pretty normal for most women. As you see in my chart this happens quite regularly. Now if your temperatures are massively rocky up and down, despite following all the instructions on how to take your temp properly and this is consistent each month it could be something to ask your nurse practitioner or GP about. Certain medications can cause this, as well as conditions like PCOS – but like I said I AM NOT A DOCTOR so please don’t freak out or panic – it is always best to ask a professional.

Can I confirm I am pregnant through taking my bbt?

NO! Any site that says otherwise is lying to you. The only way to get a positive confirmation is with a test. Unfortunately. If you are in the tww and desperately looking for answers, I feel your pain but step away from the pee stick and the thermometer and go do something to keep yourself busy! Unfortunately temps can stay high until the day of your period and there is just no way to be sure so do not count on them!

This is genuinely just my take on temping and why I find it useful, this journey is a long, complicated, difficult and exciting one with lots of ups and downs. The most important thing is to try to stay as healthy as you can. I don’t mean physically here, I mean emotionally and mentally; I am one of those people who needs to know and understand all the time to help me cope and so temping is a great option for me. However, if you stress and obsess and worry maybe you should step away and find another way to distract yourself because it can become very easy to pin everything on that little digital read out every morning and have your world come crashing down when it isn’t what you expected or things happen that you weren’t expecting.

Also and I mean this seriously, get yourself on one (or several) of the great ttc forums out there – mumsnet, netmums, babycentre etc etc the advice, comradery and support you receive there will generally be the best you can get.

Right, I think that is everything I can think of but if you have any questions please do leave me a comment or go look at some of the great advice out there from proper advice websites.

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Oh Christmas Tree, you’re leaves are such a pain to pack…

Christmas Tree Undecorated

Here is my question for today – when do you take your Christmas Tree down? This includes those with fake trees and real trees!

Traditionally Christmas finishes on the 6th January and this is when trees Christmas Tree Lightsusually come down, well at least as far as I’m aware. This is also the day that traditionally my husband and myself take ours down, but I am starting to realise this isn’t the norm.

My Mum for example? If she had a choice her tree would be down Boxing Day morning. Seriously by the end of Christmas Day you can see her twitching and ready to get “tidying”, as it is we only manage to hold her off until around the 28th at the latest and this is a woman who loves Christmas. She usually has her tree up by the last weekend in November!

Christmas Tree BaublesOn Instagram and Twitter as well the last few days I have taken note of the number of people who have already taken down their tree. BEFORE NEW YEARS EVE! What the hell dudes? I mean come on, I thought my mum was odd and alone in the tidy tidy tidy brigade – but is she really?

Personally I’m not crazy on Christmas, but I love having my tree and decorations up until at least the days after New Years and ideally take it down on the 6th. This year I am a little bit gutted as we have friends coming to stay and it will have to come down sooner so we can get all the paraphernalia out of the spare room and back in the attic.

But I will miss my tree and my fairy lights, they make my house so pretty!

Christmas Tree Stages

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New Years Resolutions?

Last year I wrote a post about my new years resolutions, to get healthy not thin, this is still sort of the plan but less of a dedication and more of a general way of life. This year I’m not really sure if I want to make a resolution, or if I did what should it be?

Getting healthy was all part of my excited, looking forward, eager to get started and become a Mum kick. A year on a bit of that has faded, who am I kidding? A lot of that has faded. I think everyone goes into the process of trying to conceive eager and a little bit blind to reality. The number of times I exclaimed “I know it could take a while and there might be issues, but I’m ready for that” and I honestly thought I was. I thought I was prepared and ready for all that it had to throw at me. Boy was I wrong. So SO wrong.

The emotions of this process are inevitably exaggerated by the associated hormones, as well as the undeniable longing for this something. Most people don’t tend to have any problems when conceiving, even if it does take time, so in theory it is pretty much guaranteed when you start trying. So why is it not easier to achieve? Why is there not more research? Why do I only have a 1 in 5 chance of getting pregnant each month – even when I do everything right? Even when I follow my new years resolutions and behave and be healthy and follow all the tips. I don’t know and neither does my doctor, it’s just life, it’ll happen, just relax and enjoy it…

Trying not to sound like I’m on a downer is difficult when reality sets in, because I am still positive and keeping my head up and excited about what the possibilities are each month. But it is undeniably a shit process and generally makes you feel shit at least once a month, no matter how proactive you are and how much positive thinking you do.

With all this in mind I think instead of focussing on new years resolutions, what I am going to do instead is focus on the way I think and act. I’m not going to let the “LOSE weight”, “only eat salads”, “no sugar diet”, “become ‘healthy'” police bully me into a resolution I don’t want. This will be an effort in and of itself working in education, if you have ever worked in education you will understand the madness that takes hold every January.

So what I will do?

British Book Challenge 2017

Well I will focus more on doing things that make me happy like reading, a lot. This is why I have signed up to the British Book Challenge 2017 and have a lovely great big stack of books ready to get stuck into. This will also help to keep me distracted – even in the dreaded two week wait! I have also set myself a personal goal of aiming for 52 books read by this time next year.

I will also blog more, writing is something I’ve always enjoyed even if I’m not very good at it! This will also hopefully help me improve my confidence levels as I focus not only on book reviews but clothing reviews as well. This will mean *gulp* photos of me on the tinterweb for all sorts of people to gawp at and recoil in horror, well I hope not but you get the picture.

THINK POSITIVE AND RELAX. Ugh just writing that I can feel my blood pressure rise, but its a good thing to commit to I suppose. Not so much in that it will “help” us get pregnant, more that it will help me to deal with disappointments and the down days.

So with those sort of new years resolutions and as I technically still have one day of 2016 left, what to do? I know! Amazon book sales…

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