Thursday, 22 March 2012

In which I get my oats...

It's been a long, hard winter in more ways than one and it's only now that I realise how much it's taken out of me. But as the mercury in Athens' thermometers pushed up to the low 20s Celsius, blackbirds started staking their territorial claims in the suburban gardens and the daffodils in my window boxes burst into glorious in-yer-face bloom, a look in the mirror this morning delivered the message loud and clear.

I look tired, and although still relatively wrinkle-free for an old bird hurtling towards 48, my skin seems pasty, ashen and lacklustre. There's a monstrous subterranean zit lurking decoratively on the bridge of my nose (to ensure maximum pressure and prominence) and I have somehow managed to tear the delicate baggy skin under my left eye.

It's clear that this old boot need a Spring Re-Boot, and perhaps a little "ME! ME! ME!" time.

So, I resolved that from now on, I shall do at least one thing every day that is exclusively for me, and me alone, to boost my energy and confidence levels and bring this lethargic old bod back into my usual annoyingly-optimistic and bouncy Tygger-mode. 

It was a spur of the moment decision so I decided to start with something nice and easy, that wouldn't require any pre-planning or disruption of my daily keyboard-bashing routine.

So, ladles and gentlespoons, for Day One of Mandi's Spring 2012 Re-Boot, I give you....    (fanfare please)....   homemade oatmeal, yoghurt and honey facemask!!!

Yes folks, I was gonna get my oats. 

All went well in the preparation stage as my efforts to eat right meant that porridge oats, yoghurt and honey were all within arm's reach as I considered my first cuppa of the day (carefully saving the teabag for later application to baggy eyes). I ground up a tablespoon of oats, mixed in a tablespoon of yoghurt and added half a teaspoon of warm honey. 

So far, so good. It looked good enough to eat (I didn't, I just tasted a teeny tiny bit from the tip of the spoon).

Then came the fun part. Application.

If you ever played mud pies in a damp English back yard as a child, you'll get an idea of the consistency of the gloop I was about to apply to my poor middle-aged chops. Only this was white, and smelled of breakfast. Undeterred, I ploughed on, plastering the lumpy concoction over my face, neck and cleavage for good measure. 

Then, looking like a giant walking meusli bar with glasses, I sat down in front of my laptop to get on with some work. Thanking the Universe that I was alone and not likely to be hijacked by either of the mischievous male imps I share my life with, I starting dutifully bashing away at the keyboard, only slightly distracted by the trembling oat flake stuck right in my line of sight at the tip of my nose. Every time I breathed out, it did a little asbestos-coated dance.

I guess I was supposed to lay down and relax, listening to meditation tapes of whale songs or rutting badgers, for the 10 minutes that my edible facemask did its magic. But who's got time for such indulgence? There's work to be done, kitchens to be cleaned, clothes to be ironed, plants to be watered, Facebook statuses to be updated...

Rinsing the reviving gloop off produced what can only be described as the aftermath of a rampage in a porridge factory, with flecks of oatmeal flying everywhere and adhering themselves sneakily to the mirror, basin and possibly even our poor, much-abused U-bend.

But what about the result? Well, my skin does feel a little less stressed, but perhaps more importantly, I have officially taken my first step in my Spring 2012 Re-Boot.

What do YOU do when you need to revive your body and soul? 
Do you have any sure-fire methods that require minimum effort and expense you can recommend for me?

Answers on a postcode please - and don't forget the smiley faces!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Countdown to a Rite of Passage

Clothes are washed, tickets purchased, suitcase agreed upon and parents briefed. 
We’re in the final countdown for the first kid-free week we’ve had since the ManChild burst into out lives a little over 15 years ago.
Next Saturday, I’ll be one of 70 or more parents waving goodbye as our offspring head off for a school trip in Italy. And though it’s not the first time we’ve been apart, it’ll be the first time he’ll be away for days and not in the company of anyone he’s related to.

Of course, he can’t wait. He’ll be with his friends, herded noisily by a brave band of volunteer teachers through the streets Rome, Naples and Pompei (yes, I AM jealous). No doubt he’ll have a blast, not get enough sleep, eat too much junk food, forget to clean his teeth, and return to us with a suitcase bulging with badly packed, smelly unmentionables.

It’s a Rite of Passage - but not for him.

I, on the other hand, will be counting the minutes til he arrives back home full of cappuccinos, pasta al dente and tales of unlikely alliances formed during the trip to Bella Italia.

I’m a reasonable woman, and I hope not a clingy parent. I know he’s responsible and sensible and won’t come to any harm. I’m sure he won’t fall foul of mobsters in a dark alley in Napoli. I’ve sworn not to flood him with text messages. And I’m pretty sure that he won’t be invited to any Bunga-Bunga parties.

I shall smile bravely and say how lucky they are as the coach pulls away from the school. I shall be the very model of an easy-going mum. But inside, it will be a very different story.

Tell me, why do our kids have to reach these milestones on their way to becoming adults just as the Pre-menopause Fairy is sprinkling hormone dust over me as I sleep?  Isn’t it enough having to deal with my little darling turning into a monosyllabic moocher with more mood swings than a playground, without me going through my own little dance?

So, think of me next Saturday.
Or perhaps you should spare a thought for my hapless hubby as I juggle the joys of fluctuating hormones and missing my little monster?