Thursday, November 11, 2010

Long over due post - adoption panel

The last fe months have been exhaysting - balancing work, exam revision and practise with the adoption process which has pretty much taken up a day a weel (almost) for months.  We've had homework and have gone through our lives with a fine tooth comb, but finally we had our date for panel.

It was at 8 so we met beforehand for food (a bit of a nightmare for various reasons) and then met our SW.

We sat in the waiting room (was like waiting outside the head mistress's office) and chatted and I kept on jumping every time someone opened the door. Eventually a smiley woman came in and introduced herself as the vice chair and showed us through.

We walked into a room with 10-12 people sitting around three sides of a large table - we sat down and they introduced themselves. It was a range of SWs, lawyers, medical advisors, councillors and also a couple of women who had been adopted themselves.

I realised that I was shaking uncontrollably. They asked us a "warm up" question which was what did we think of the process and then they complimented our SW on her report and asked her what we were like and she was complimentary about us, and the cats got a special mention (they even had a picture of them!)

Then they asked a couple more serious questions - things like what sort of child did we see ourself with and other things. I realised that my quiet hubby had suddenly developed verbal diarrhoea and I couldn't get a word in edgeways. I was also still shaking.

They then showed us out and we went back to the waiting room, but hadn't had time to sit down when we were called in. We sat down and they told us that they were happy to let us know that they were going to recommend us for approval!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They also commented on how we are very open and obviously mutually supportive and how we have a very supportive network around us.

So very good news, we are absolutely shattered. And very happy, though it seems a bit surreal at the moment.

We have some nice things lined up - a weekend in Vienna and Christmas and a some concerts and a trip to Aus while we take our mind off waiting for a match. Not to mention the new kitchen that we need and the sorting out of rooms that we have to do!


Friday, March 05, 2010

Joseph H Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883 from Greek ancestory. A sickly child he decided to devote himself to improving his health through fitness, coming to beleive that lifestyle, posture and inefficient breathing were the source of bad health in "modern" times.

He devised a series of exercises and became a gymnast and body builder, eventually moving to England and working with various bodies, including Scotland Yard, training people in self defence.

During WW1 he was interned in a prisoner of war camp due with other German citizens and started to work on an integrated, comprehensive system of physical exercise, which he himself called "Contrology." He used this on the other prisoners, training then in fitness and exercise - and it is believed that the inmates survived the flu pandemic of 1918 thanks to their physical fitness.

After release he worked as a hospital orderly, using bed springs to offer light resistance exercises to patients, an idea which later evolved into the Pilates Cadillac or Trapeze Table. He also worked with others, like Rudolph Laban (a dancer, choreograper and theorist whose work laid the foundations for Laban Movement Analysis and other more specific developments in dance notation. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of European contemporary dance. I trained at his school in London).

In 1926 he moved to New York and married Clara. Together they established a studio and worked on developing Contrology, encouraging the use of the mind  to control the muscles. It focuses attention on core postural muscles that help keep the human body balanced and provide support for the spine. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of breath and of alignment of the spine, and strengthen the deep torso and abdominal muscles.

Among his clients were dancers such as Martha Graham and George Balanchine, who appreciated how the exercise method created long, lean muscles without building bulk. Soon, some of his students ("disciples") began opening studios of their own.

He died in 1967. Most of his disciples have gone on to set up schools of their own. Moira Stott Merrithew, trained under Romana Kryzanowska. She had been the principle ballerina with the City Ballet of Toronto and a neck injury prompted her to adapt some of the principles she learned in New York to be more in tune with contemporary exercise science, founding Stott Pilates, the discipline I'm trained under.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I get a lot of people asking me about what Pilates is.

Firstly, the name is Pilates and not Pilate. It's named after Joseph Pilates who founded the movent early in the 20th century. More about him later!

It's a form of exercise that is designed to strengthen and lengthen the muscles. It's primary focus is the core - so the muscles around the pelvis, abdomen and spine - but also the other muscles in the body. It also trains the deep muscles (local muscles) which are essential for spinal and joint stability, as well as the global muscles which are larger and more superficial and tend to be normally the focus in a standard gym environment.

Most people have seen or heard of Pilates in the gym as mat classes. These can be great but often the classes are large and people come and go so you might not get the full benefit if you've not had the basic foundation before you start.

There is also equipment involved - I teach the reformer at the moment and am about to train in the cadillac, barrel and chair. These are fantastic pieces of equipment that allow us to really cater for all levels. The reformer can be used in small classes or in 1-1 training whereas the other equipment is better for 1-1.

The reformer has a sliding carriage which glides along rollers and has a system of springs for resistance. It can be used for a wide variety of exercises. We don't use weights but instead the springs allow for gradual resistance as the muscles contract - this means longer leaner looking muscles and not bulky ones! it also means that the muscles are being used to their full capacity in a safe way with less stress on the tendons and ligaments. Additionally we can work on flexibility as well as strength.

I trained with STOTT PILATES® which is a modern take of Pilates' original method - they've worked with people like physios and sports medicine and fitness professionas. Whereas other methods work with a straight back, for example, we focus on the spine's natural curves aiming to strengthen the muscles around the back and shoulder. Read the info on the link as it's really interesting!

But this means we can train people from those who need rehabilitation from injury etc all the way up to elite atheletes.

I hope that helps some. Will write about Joseph Pilates more at another point.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Check up at the Marsden

You must all think I'm mad getting so worked up about a check up, but it's odd as my brain knows rationally that everything is probably ok but my body reacts differently - it's a physical thing and it's always worse at this time of year because it's also the anniversary of my chemoradiation and my body reacts to that before I remember.

This time was worse as I have a lump under my left boob. It's huge and moves and is uncomfortable if I wear a sports bra. Any how they do think I should have it removed but don't think it's anything sinister so will have to wait for a referral and everything else is fine.

So am very relieved. I've seen so many people have recurrences over the years and have lost some dear friends and I think that although I feel fine (good actually) it's in the back of my head that I was feeling ok (apart from being really tired) before my diagnosis.

Still feel a bit better after a chat and cake with my mum. It's a good tradition.

Z x

Monday, February 08, 2010


As an aside I decided to track my weightloss - it's been a long slow process, with a few glitches on the way but is a downward trend and definately very positive!


My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

Friday, February 05, 2010

Another step forward

We had our first adoption workshop on Wednesday and I found it hugely beneficial. Both of us were pretty apprehensive as we'd seen the agenda and it was all about dealing with loss and grief. I was worried that it would force us to bring up some things that we dealt with and also that it might be a bit touchy feely.

We were even more stressed when we got there as we'd been caught up in traffic and it took us 2 1/2 hours to get there and so we were very late. Not a good start!

There were quite a few other couples there (about 8) and one single woman. As the day progressed it was interesting to hear people's stories about why they want to adopt - some were like us and dealing with infertility in various guises and others already had children and wanted to add to their families. We talked about the relevancy of the workshops to all of us and had various exercises to work through some of the issues.

The first and the one I was nervous about was feeling cards - I was worried that we'd have to talk about emotions and things, but instead it was cards with statements on them such as "I'm not sure this is relevant to me", "will there be other people in my situation" and so on. They described the feelings and scenarios of different types of adopters and we discussed them in small groups. It was interesting to step into other people's shoes and consider how they might be feeling about their situation and adoption.

Then after a cuppa we were split into gender groups and talked about the motivation behind the adoption, about our experiences with infertility, other people's reactions to us and how we felt about it. Again it was great to share with the others about it and realise that in many cases although our circumstances were different our feelings were very similar. We also watched a couple of short dvds which I thought were a bit strange, one was quite 70s and a bit idealised whereas the other was from the man's perspective and was rather blokey - as women we thought it was quite funny.

We had lunch and were able to chat with the others a bit more, then straight back to the workshop.

To combat post lunch fatigue we had to create road maps of our lives, our desire to be parents and so one. This involved some Blue Peter creativity and glue, scissors and coloured pencils - was also interesting to see who could share valuable assets like scissors. It was a lot of fun and had us all sitting on the floor like we were at play group. We were using images of road signs and there was some hilarity at finding where some images would fit!

We also did an exercise where we talked about loss - not necessarily about fertility but other events in our lives that have been significant. This could be anything from loss of a parent, or a job or even identity, and how we felt and dealt with the grief it caused. There are several different stages of dealing with loss - things like anger, grief, denial, acceptance etc. Then we moved on to talking about how a child may be dealing with loss when he or she is adopted - loss of birth parents, loss of foster parents, then being moved away from school and friends and so on. And how loss can come up for adoptive parents and children over the years.

It was a long day and very tiring but I think we both felt pretty positive afterwards. It gave us a lot to think about, and also answered some questions. I also think that it helped me to meet other people who are at exactly the same stage as us and that was reassuring because you hear lots of adoption stories but it's good to have people going through it at the same time as us. Also we all found a lot to laugh about and that was also helpful to break the ice. Some of these people may become friends and others not, but they will be part of our future in a way and it's good that all of us can see the funny side of things.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Of cars and craziness

I have decided that Prius drivers are the new BMW drivers - but what makes them worse is not only do they not seem to have indicators and like to undertake, they also seem to have a holier than thou attitude because they are doing their "bit" for the environment. I wonder what else they've done? Of course it annoys me even more that they don't have to pay congestion charge.

(brief interlude as I panic as I think I forgot to pay mine yesterday and go off to check)

I had forgotten to pay. Luckily remembered before the barstwards could fine me. Am coveting a cute Fiat 500 - they are v popular but ideal for driving around the narrow streets of London and much easier to park. I do love our Audi, but would love to be able to parallel park in smaller spaces.

Have been really busy at work - the early mornings and late nights are tough (and are going to be harder as I start to have 6 am clients but have jiggled my hours and will have wednesdays off. Of course some of those are going to be absorbed by the adoption workshops. The first one is next week and I'm quite nervous about it as it's really looking into if adoption is the right thing for you and talking about dealing with your fertility. I think I am pretty much over it but it will be hard to go through the process of talking about it again.

But after that, assuming everything is ok, the next lot sound really interesting - talking about different children and scenarios and challenges that we might face. Of course the annoying thinig is, that it clashes with my pilates training and so march is going to be a tough month, trying to be in several places at once. It's all a bit overwhelming but we will manage. I guess we just have to be a little more organised!

Wanted to add a shout out for my friend's shop  - some lovely lovely tattoo inspired cards and jewellery and other fun things, arrives beautifully presented.


Chicken and mushroom Risotto for 2

The lovely Wendy asked me to post my recipe, so I will!


1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
250 g mushrooms (the brown ones)
75g aborio rice
200 g cooked chicken (left over from roast!)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
125 ml white wine
hot chicken stock (around 750 ml)
grated parmesan (about 20 g)

Sweat the onion and garlic in the oil and add the mushrooms, cook until the mushrooms start to soften. Add rice and stir until the rice starts to glisten. Add the chicken, thyme and wine and stir until wine is absorbed. Keep adding stock and stirring until the rice is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add half the parmesan. Serve with a green salad, and top with the remaining parmesan and ground black pepper.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Butter or Marg?

There was a debate on the Motley Fool website about butter, if value butter was any good and if butter was better etc etc I was reminded of this poem - I used to love AA Milne's poems, still do really!

The King's Breakfast
The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Dairymaid:
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"
The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid
Said, "Certainly,
I'll go and tell the cow
Before she goes to bed."

The Dairymaid
She curtsied,
And went and told
The Alderney:
"Don't forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread."
The Alderney
Said sleepily:
"You'd better tell
His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade

The Dairymaid
Said, "Fancy!"
And went to
Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
"Excuse me,
Your Majesty,
For taking of
The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It's very

The Queen said
And went to
His Majesty:
"Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people
Think that
Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little

The King said,
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

The Queen said,
"There, there!"
And went to
The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid
Said, "There, there!"
And went to the shed.
The cow said,
"There, there!
I didn't really
Mean it;
Here's milk for his porringer,
And butter for his bread."

The Queen took
The butter
And brought it to
His Majesty;
The King said,
"Butter, eh?"
And bounced out of bed.
"Nobody," he said,
As he kissed her
"Nobody," he said,
As he slid down the banisters,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man -
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"

Alan Alexander Milne

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Roast pepper and tomato soup

Made this tonight - perfect winter weather food. Diet friendly, delicious and easy. Adapted from an Asda recipe.

  • 900g Tomatoes, halved
  • 2 red peppers, quartered and de-seeded
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 stock cube (veggie or chicken)
  • 1tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4tbsp creme fraiche
Preheat the oven to 200C/180CFan/Gas 5. Put the tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic cloves in a roasting tin and drizzle over the olive oil. Toss the vegetables so that they're well coated. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes, turning the vegetables half way through.

Dissolve the stock cube in 500ml of hot water. Puree the roasted vegetables with the stock in a blender or food processor (you may need to do this in two batches), then pass it through a sieve if you prefer the soup without the tomato seeds and tiny flecks of skin

Pour the soup into a pan, add the sweet chilli sauce and Worcestershire sauces and reheat gently. Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche.

Snowed in again

Well wasn't expecting this much snow again. Apparently nor were the council who managed to not grit ANY of the main roads. I realised I wasn't going to make it in by 7.30 and called my colleague who was in with an early client - she agreed to take my client (who apparently didn't show up anyway). Attempted to make it in for my 9.30 but scared myself when driving in so stopped, turned around and drove home. A 20 minute round trip took over an hour.

Most people were driving really sensibly, especially the lorry driver behind me who was keeping a 100 yard distance. Apart from a couple of UTTER numpties - like the German woman in a mini who pushed in and cut me up and thought it was funny. She had a child in the back. Did she not realise that the reason everyone was driving slowly was because it was DANGEROUS? Idiot. It's just not worth risking your life or someone else's?

Any way home and safe now. Was amused by this - cheered me up anyway!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Argh - frustrations abound.

The snow still is hanging around and is starting to get annoying now. I'm over it. Am am very glad that we invested in a wood burning stove - it's making a big difference to our winters. And contrary to popular opinion, it's not a bad thing to have one either. There are enviormental benefits - we are using less gas as the thermostat is lower and we are keeping our main room very toasty; even though our area is a smoke control area, the stove is so efficient and clean it's fine for us to use, we use seasoned wood which burns more efficiently and most wood you get here is from sustainable sources.

Yes you do have a bit of work to do (well Matt does in our case) in keeping it clean, but it's not much as there's very little ash. And you do have to keep an eye on it - but that's fire. There's very little better on a horrible cold winter's day than lighting a fire and cuddling up with the cats.

And this morning I'm doing invoices - very boring but at least I get paid at the end! Need to do my tax return this week, which is more boring and does not involve payment at the end. Some times it's depressing being grown up!

I got a bit pissed off last week having been so pleased about the MacMillian report (see last post) I posted it on Jo's and promptly got told by another poster that I might be scaring people who might then not take treatment. You know, it's really really important that we talk about these things. When I had treatment I made sure that I was well researched and knew my options, BUT there's very little known or published about radiotherapy side effects.

I know a few people who have had cancer and are dealing with side effects, or recurrances and need to talk about these issues and I know that as an organisation Jo's is really supportive of that. It was set up as a support for people dealing with cancer. Sometimes, because of the Jade thing, it seems like the focus is on CIN, but we should not be afraid of talking about cancer related issues. WE HAVE TO, it's so so important. Ultimately I'd rather people make informed choices than get half truths, and in the end to have or not have treatment is a personal decision.

The fact is that cancer is terrifying, but if you have a diagnosis of CIN you've not got cancer and frankly it's easily treatable. When we talk about what has happened to us POST cancer it should never ever be an excuse not to have treatment. And I think that those who are going through the cancer treatment should also have honesty about what might happen afterwards. I think sometimes these things are glossed over by the consultants because really they want to get us well.

When we saw Dr Andreyev talk at the Let's Meet it was very informative - he has a huge waiting list of people who have had pelvic radiation and need after care on bowel damage. He's only one of FOUR in the world (I sound like Jeremy Clarkson) who specialise in this. I think that's dreadful. So for me to see this article was a celebration. And I know that Dr Andreyev is very frustrated that the oncologists work so hard to save our lives but forget about what happens afterwards. (as an aside I know of men who have had prostrate cancer and have had major problems with this)

In the end treatment is about working so hard to save lives and it's incredibly important to have that in perspective. I am so glad that I'm still here and am very very mindful of those of us who are not. I absolutely refuse to stop talking about the fact that cancer can kill and that being a survivor is a wonderful wonderful thing but it also brings heartache and other issues that are hard to talk about with people who have not been through it. And I'm not, absolutely not, going to stop talking about those things.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Who knew that we'd start this year with snow? It seems fitting for a new decade to start so pristinely white. But of course it's chaos and dirty ice so soon and the novelty is fading fast. And it's damn cold for the UK in January.

Funny to think that I saw the millenium in Sydney's summer and how much has happened since then.

In those days I was living in Sydney and had been working in the internet/advertising/business consultancy world. I had been very happy in the small consultancy I was in but we'd been bought out by a large advertising agency and it got horribly political with some nasty people pushing me out. I was freelancing and when at a wedding in the UK heard about another job, applied and after some weird interviews (phone and flying back for a weekend) came back to London as Managing Editor for an internet portal.

Loved the job - had some "interesting" experiences when my bosses decided to allow porn on it!

The 9/11 happened and the owners used that as an excuse to make us all redundant. Since then I retrained, became a manager of an online mail order company, got made redundant, and a day later got another, similar job.

While all that was going on I made new friends and Matt, bought a house, got married and adopted Blue and Berry. And then, of course my cancer diagnosis and the start of this blog.

This decade sees me start my next round of pilates training. My boss is pregnant so I will be taking on a lot more when she goes on maternity leave. And we are moving ahead with the adoption process and start prep workshops next month.

My goals are pretty short term on the whole - to get through all of that in one piece. We hope to go to Aus to see Col in early 2011 and hopefully be approved for adoption by then. Those outcomes will effect the rest of the decade hugely. It's all positive and I am looking forward to the next decade with Matt.

We've overcome so much together and while I know we've many more challenges ahead, I think we get through it all!

As an as aside I was very pleased that MacMillian has highlighted the issues that we face post cancer and the lack of support that we get. Oncologists do a great job in saving lives but without much thought to what happens afterwards and while I am so grateful to the job they do I do wish that there was more support for radiotherapy damage. I don't think that things will ever be the same.

Z x