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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Technology Battles

I was torn between writing about my battles with my new phone and new provider or my battles with my youngest son. I chose the new phone because it won’t read this blog!

So last week our new mobile phones arrived in the mail. Note to self – we still have to fill out the warranty cards. I had been cajoled into buying a new phone by my youngest son who wanted to get one as well. Actually, he didn’t have to cajole me that much as my old phone was reaching the end of its productive life and had begun to turn itself off. We had also both decided to change providers, so we obediently went to the suggested website and chose the phones we wanted.

It took me a little while to navigate around my new phone and I admit I’m still navigating and often getting lost in the various settings. Most importantly I have learnt how to answer a call, make a call, send a message and read a message. I even taught myself how to download my own ringtones as the manual was totally useless. I still have to work out how to assign my own tone to message notifications – no matter how many times I select the music I want, the phone insists on using its own notification tone. How on earth did I manage to attract a stubborn phone?

I did have to call a friend of mine a couple of times in order to find some solutions. She has the same phone and gave me some helpful hints, especially about setting up calendar. Nowhere in the manual did it say you had to sync one of your email addresses to the calendar in order to set it up, but apparently that’s what you have to do. And here is where the fun begins.

At the end of last week I transferred my phone to a new provider whose rates look pretty good. There are no contracts so if I don’t like them I can transfer to another provider. My son also transferred a few days before I did. He got the extra $5 credit they were offering for transfers before 31 Jan, I didn’t. He got emailed instructions of how to connect to the internet etc, and I didn’t. It didn’t worry me at the time and yesterday morning I rang them to ask about the $5 of credit and they added it to my account without any problem.

Yesterday afternoon I tried to add a new event to my calendar but couldn’t. The phone asked me to log into my email account and then told me my password was wrong – it wasn’t. It then told me it couldn’t sync to my email so I couldn’t use my calendar. I should explain that I use my phone calendar on a daily basis. It reminds me when to pay my rent, when to take my son to the physio and who is having a birthday. It is my memory and I feel very vulnerable without it.

So I went on the internet to find solutions but there was nothing. After three hours of googling and fiddling and calling my friend again and getting frustrated I gave up and called my new phone provider. Apparently I should have received an email giving me instructions of how to access the internet. Sam, the very nice trouble-shooter from my new provider endlessly tried to sort out my problem over the phone to no avail. After a long time talking to Sam –far longer than I have talked to any of my boys over the past week – he told me he would call this morning and see if he could sort it out.

Sam called this morning while I was on the exercise bike. I hope my puffing and panting didn’t put him off. Apparently he had sent me some text messages which I hadn’t received. After a brief conversation he hung up promising to talk to his supervisor and get back to me. We are obviously building up some sort of friendship here!

So I sit and wait for Sam to get back to me with a solution. Until then I’m in the dark about what is going to happen this week as all my notes are locked away in my phone’s calendar. So much for technology!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

So Far So Good

It’s been a few weeks now since I started my health kick to lose weight and get fit and I’ve managed to keep on track. I’m pretty proud of myself as I’m not usually known for my staying power. So far I’ve lost 2kgs (about 4½ pounds) and I think I’ve lost a few inches as my clothes seem looser.

I thought I’d share my daily routine with you, just in case you are interested.

On weekdays my alarm goes off at 5.30am. I take about 15mins to wake up then I get out of bed and make sure my middle son is awake. I go back to bed and wait for him to leave at 6am. Once he leaves I meditate for 15mins or thereabouts. Sometimes I find meditation incredibly difficult as my brain doesn’t want to stop wandering. On those days I might only persevere for 10mins or so.

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I then do a few exercises. Using a thera band I work on my arms, I do some crunches and some back exercises. Every few weeks I change what I’m doing, usually when I find a different exercise to try. The whole routine takes about 10mins.

Then I start getting ready for work. I have a cup of black coffee and make a smoothie for breakfast that I take with me to work. If you want to know what’s in my smoothie, here it is:

¼ cup of uncooked rolled oats, 1 large tbsp LSA (a mixture of ground linseed, almond and sunflower seeds), 2 tbsp low fat or no fat plain Greek yoghurt, ½ cup frozen blueberries, 1 tbsp flaxseed oil and about ¾ cup low fat milk.

I did some googling on why middle age women have a problem with weight around their stomachs and, from what I read, it appears that after 40 years of age women make more testosterone than oestrogen and this is why weight gravitates to their middles. So I concluded that adding more oestrogen to my diet might help. Apparently flaxseed not only has large amounts of omega 3s which are really good for us, but ground flaxseed can help with oestrogen production and has lots of benefits for women. I haven’t found ground flaxseed yet so I’ve been using the flaxseed oil to start with. I’m no expert but I do feel better and have a lot more energy.

When I get home I change and get on the exercise bike for at least 30mins. I’ve cycled for 45mins a couple of times, but past that my butt hurts too much!

On weekdays my mornings are far more relaxed and often extend to afternoons. I still meditate but often for longer than 15mins. If it’s sunny I get up and sunbake for about 30mins. Then I get on the exercise bike for 30mins and after that I’ll think about breakfast. On Sundays I don’t have a smoothie because it’s Pancake Day! Of course I still have to fit cleaning into my weekends but I’m starting to look at it as another form of exercise.

I’m not too fussed about my diet. I limit the amount of wheat I eat – so far the only wheat I have is in pasta and that’s only because gluten free pasta is so expensive. I buy either spelt or oat bread and I use spelt flour for pancakes, etc.

I usually just eat smaller portions of whatever I’m cooking for the boys. Smaller plates and smaller bowls make the portions look just as big as normal. I drink heaps of water – I have to force myself because I’m not big at drinking much of anything. I eat more fruit than I used to. I’ve never liked sodas or sweet or fizzy drinks so it’s been easy to just drink water. I still have a couple of glasses of wine at dinner time.

I’m happy with my results and I plan to keep going. I would still like to lose another 3kgs and some of the bulge around my waist. Hopefully in a month or so I will have done that!

BTW – for those of you with small children reading this now – there is no way I could have had this routine when my boys were young. It’s only now that they have all left school that I can focus on myself.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Looking for Solutions

I’ve discovered that parenting and providing for adult children isn’t that easy. I no longer know when they will be home or where they are going. Not that I mind, as I’m happy they have plenty of friends and a busy social life. However, I still have to do the food shopping and prepare meals. Nowadays it’s not unusual for those meals to remain uneaten and, once their refrigerated life has ended, to be thrown out. Of course I do freeze portions and one of us takes them to work for lunch, but there is just so much sausage casserole or pasta bake that I can eat over and over again!

I hate waste and I especially hate seeing food that I’ve taken care in preparing later thrown into the garbage. So what do I do? My sons don’t live to any form of schedule or planned existence. Their friendships are based on impulsive meet ups and spur of the moment decisions. So when I ask them in the morning if they will be home for dinner they can’t give me a definitive answer. As my middle son has told me “I can’t tell you I’ll be home because if I decide to go out later you will be mad at me and I can’t tell you I’ll be out because if I stay home you won’t have enough dinner for me.”

The other day I called a family meeting to discuss this problem. We brainstormed for a few minutes, middle son suggested freezing all the meat in portions so that we can all take out what we want for dinner and cook it ourselves. It isn’t such a bad proposal, but it means I have to get out of the frame of mind of cooking for the family and that is difficult for me. Portions might be the way to go, but what if I’m cooking a casserole or pasta? Youngest son just suggested stocking the freezer with chicken schnitzels as they are his favorite right now.

Today, for example, it is nearly 3pm and I still haven’t taken anything out of the freezer for dinner tonight. I would like to have steak tonight, but the three steaks I have are all frozen together so I would have to take them all out if I want them for dinner. Yes, I know I should have frozen them separately, but I wasn’t thinking of solutions then. My youngest son is home at the moment but that could change at any time. My middle son is still not home after going to a 21st birthday party last night and I have no idea when he plans to return. So here I sit and wonder whether to take the meat out or leave it in the freezer. It’s a problem that will be on my mind until its time to cook and there is nothing defrosted.

Yes, I do have a microwave but I haven’t yet learnt how to defrost accurately. Nine times out of ten if I’m defrosting steak or chops they end up slightly cooked around the edges and I’m left unhappy. I do defrost some things, just not everything.

So what to do? I would be more than happy to listen to all solutions. Perhaps some of you have already been down this road and would like to share your experiences?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Year, a new beginning

I’ve begun this year by looking after me – my mind, body and spirit. I’ve decided to take 50 as the mid point of my life. Yes, I know that means I expect to live to 100 but, as long as I’m healthy and happy, I can’t see any problem with that goal. Besides 50 is a nice round number. For me it heralds the beginning of middle age and I’m planning a middle age that will be far from boring.

I’m already looking after my mind by continuing my study. However, I’ve also started to research my mother’s family which is definitely testing my problem solving skills. My mother’s parents came from Russia and before Russia it is possible that my grandmother’s family came from Sweden and my grandfather’s family was perhaps descendant from the Tartars. All of these possibilities are vague and I’m finding conflicting bits of information as I go. I’m planning a trip to Perth soon to visit both my father and my son, but also to go through some of my mother’s papers in the hope that there will be more information.

This year I hired an exercise bike – a spin bike – mainly to help my son regain his fitness after his operation. However, I have managed to cycle every day for at least 30 minutes and I’m very proud of myself. I’m slowly building up speed and resistance, but I find it difficult to cycle any longer than 30 minutes as, by that time, my butt is so sore I can barely move. I even bought a gel cover for the bike seat, which makes it slightly easier, but not much better. I never thought I would enjoy cycling, but I like the way that I can watch the news or do some reading while I’m pedalling and I don’t have to worry about being fashionable either. I can wear anything I want to, even pyjamas! I’m also doing some exercises for my upper arms and back and abs three times a week.

I’ve been trying to eat healthier foods. I am a bit stubborn in that I refuse to give up coffee and my glass of wine with dinner, but otherwise I’m doing alright. Ideally I would like to lose at least 6 kilos – about 12 pounds, but I’d be satisfied with losing inches and toning up. I’ve been lying in the sun every day for about 20 minutes to half an hour and am gradually building up a tan and soaking up Vitamin D.

Spiritually I’m re exploring the works of Florence Scovel Shinn and Catherine Ponder, both of whom believe in the metaphysical. I’m trying to develop a more positive attitude to life and I’m making a huge effort to watch the words I use and the thoughts I have. I believe negativity attracts negativity and being positive will bring positive things into my life.

So there you go – so far this year has been all about me and I can’t see it changing any time soon! Of course I still have to work, I would love to find more time to blog and I will always be there for my boys. But let’s face it – they are all adults now and have their own lives. I feel like I have been reborn – I’ll be 51 later on this year and I’m determined to make the most of my new beginning.