Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Monday, 23 November 2009
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
(reproduced from Homecoming Revolution)
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Thursday, 9 April 2009
It's the same feeling I used to get when 4.50pm would approach when I was languishing behind my desk during my (incredibly boring) days at an insurance brokers - a quick aside, I worked with a younger man who had the knack of making me laugh every day, the pranks we got up to were legendary but I think our crowning moment was having him "ordained" as a minister over the internet and performing several "inter office" marriages one day when we were the only two people in our department - the feeling of "it's nearly home time".
That and copious amounts of caffeine.........
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Monday, 16 March 2009
Let's recap. You get pregnant. You get morning sickness/nausea/metallic taste in mouth/bizarre cravings (tick all appropriate). You wait a few weeks before informing - no, not the grandparents-to-be - your credit card company/bank manager (delete as applicable) that there will be some unusual activity on your card in the forthcoming months i.e. you're going on a massive shopping spree for baby things.
You buy a moses basket. You tell aforementioned grandparents-to-be. And other close friends.
You make a booking in appointment with the midwife and tell her you want a water birth, can she book the pool now please.
You buy some clothes - neutral colours - because even though you know the grandparents-to-be are about to buy shares in Mothercare and baby will (at some point) inherit some hand-me-downs from varying cousins, there was a gorgeous sleepsuit in size "new baby" (so anything over 8lbs, forget it) that you had to have.
You do your research on your pram. Do you want a pram or a pushchair, or perhaps - darling - one of these travel systems would be better. It doubles, nay trebles, as a pram, pushchair AND a carseat. Ingenious. Rear facing or forward facing? Neutral colour scheme or slightly bolder colours - navy, black & cream.....but nothing gender specific. Not yet anyway. You decide on a three wheeler that looks like a mini John Deer tractor when up and functional, but folds down small enough to be put into the boot of your smart girl about town car, with matching raincover, cosytoes, sunshade and parasol (for the back seat of your smart girl about town car, the boot having been taken over by some three wheeled contraption).
You research cots. Fixed sides, drop sides, full size, junior sized cot bed? How about the really cute ones that drop the side altogether and you can have baby sleeping next to your bed, making night feeds so much easier. That doesn't mean however that you will co-sleep with your baby, but it's nice to know that he/she will be right there where you can keep an eye on them all night. You decide on a junior sized cot bed, after all, baby will spend - oh at least - the first few months of life in the moses basket because there is nothing cuter than a tiny baby all swaddled up in a crisp new moses basket.
You buy linen for the cot bed. And matching wallpaper, border, curtains, uplighter, waste bin, nappy stacker, changing bag and toiletries box. Plus the linen for the moses basket matches too. How cute is that going to look lying in the cot bed all matching?
Changing bag - mentioned above - now this was a tricky one. Again you had to do your research. Is it big enough for all the paraphernalia you are going to need when transporting baby around town via the car seat section of the mini John Deer tractor and then into three wheeled contraption? Nappies, changing mat, wipes, baby bottom cream, change of clothes (or 3), bibs x at least 5, spare bottles (if bottle feeding), spare formula powder, spare dummy (if using one and let's be honest, you probably will, even given your firm "I'm never going to put a dummy in my child's mouth" attitude), pocket for mummy's mobile, attached clip for aforementioned dummy. At this rate you're going to need a steamer trunk. Eventually you settle on one that promises to take all your "caboodle" and tell yourself this is going to be the only change bag you'll ever need. Of course it is.
You have your 20 week scan. You either find out sex of baby (cue gender specific clothes buying) or decide to go with the surprise (cue more neutral colours clothes buying).
You buy yourself, and pack, your hospital bag; with your five new nightgowns, your significant other's tee shirt to give birth in (they don't want it back and their smell is going to be comforting during your natural labour), your toiletries, your chewing gum, your glucose sweets (for energy during labour) and your latest edition of some pregnancy/parenting magazine (which you can always update nearer the time) for swotting up on those useful tips whilst in early labour.
Toiletries - you buy yourself some ridiculously overpriced "mummy to be" toiletries, because there was an article in the first pregnancy/parenting magazine you bought all those months ago that said these were the latest must haves. It doesn't matter that you may not get to use them, or by the time you remember to use them you cannot get in or out of the bath without a JCB standing by, at least you'll have them to hand should you need them. And they do smell incredibly pretty.
You start to get bigger and if you're unlucky, start to retain water. Suddenly your ankles and calves merge into the dreaded "cankles" and your fingers swell to the point where, if married to the baby's father, you cannot wear your wedding ring as it cuts into you.
The time is getting nearer, you buy a baby on board sign that your husband/partner/significant other points out matches the junior sized cot bed/moses basket linen. Of course it does, don't be silly.
You do some research on slings and baby wearing. Your neighbour's sister's cousin's daughter had one and "wore" her baby all the time and it was great for both her and the baby, and besides, looked fabulous. You decide to buy one of each type of sling you have researched, just so you can be sure of getting the right one.
You promise yourself that you are going to breast feed, for as long as baby wants to. But just in case, you buy bottles, teats and sterilising equipment. You buy an electric steam steriliser but then your neighbour's sister's cousin's daughter points out her microwave one works really well, so you buy one of those too.
You buy nipple shields and breast pads. Your husband/partner/significant other puts breast pads on his eyes, wraps a muslin round his neck and pretends to be Biggles. You laugh because at this juncture you still have a sense of humour. Just wait.
It is quite possible that at this point in time (d-day minus whatever) your credit card company is sending you "you have been pre-approved for a £5,000 increase on your limit" letter because of all the spending going on, or if having gone down the route of using your savings via the bank, your bank manager is apoplectic.
You buy maternity towels, otherwise known as the world's unkindest sanitary towel EVER. Your husband/partner/significant other takes time out from being Biggles to joking how he's going to build an air raid shelter with these.
You buy yourself a rocking chair because the pregnancy/parenting magazine (last month's issue) says that it helps to get a screaming baby off to sleep. Course it does.
You buy a travel cot - because you are going to go camping with a newborn. You've camped before, PGL holiday at school, it wasn't that bad.
Your husband/partner/significant other announces that your smart girl about town car is no longer adequate for your growing family and is going to trade it in for something a bit bigger. He returns home with a Grand Voyager. There's going to be three of you at the most in this beast plus all the equipment - the mini John Deer Tractor 3 wheeled contraption plus car seat version thereof, changing bag, parasol, sunshade, raincover et al - so although outwardly grieving for your smart girl about town car, you're secretly pleased that he bought the bigger car because now you're going to fit right in with all the other mums and their seven seaters/four by fours at baby/toddler group.
You buy an electric swing that gently rocks your baby to and fro. See comment about rocking chair.
You buy a cd of "sounds from the womb" because the pregnancy/parenting magazine said it soothes a newborn. Again, see comment about rocking chair.
You buy some "developmental" toys. And possibly cds and dvds that promise to turn your bundle into a genius by the time he/she is.....say 2 or 3 moths old.
You fend off daily phonecalls from the grandparents-to-be asking "anything happening yet?". You give your husband/partner/significant other a list of all the people that must be called upon (a) you going into labour and (b) you giving birth (this part of the list is prioritised). He promptly looses it but only mentions this after baby is born. Or when baby's head is crowning.
You ring the midwife/maternity unit to make sure your birthing pool is still booked after seven months and a few extra days.
You buy "how to bring up/placate/feed/change/wind/swaddle your new baby" books. Given half the chance, if you were to sit an exam on them you would come out with a first class honours degree. You pick up lots of useful tips that you know you will use bringing up your bundle. Of course you will.
You try a hot curry, followed by a hot bath, declining the offer of hot sex from husband/partner/significant other. You try walking up and down the stairs, drinking raspberry leaf tea.
You settle down and make sure you have everything ready, you do an inventory on all your equipment, from the junior sized cot bed to its sheets, to the mini John Deer sitting in the boot of your new Grand Voyager. You realise that you haven't made the decision yet about disposables vs washable nappies. You have sixteen packets of newborn disposable nappies sitting in the nursery waiting, but your neighbour's sister's cousin's daughter was round yesterday with her baby in a really cute nappy wrap extolling the virtues of washable nappies and you'd quite like to look into it. You make mental note to do so. Because a woman's brain INCREASES in memory power whilst pregnant (of course it does).
You wake up at 2am on a Sunday morning with a pain like you have never felt before. And either that damp patch is where your water has broken or someone has some explaining to do.......
You give one last enormous push (if not having a section of course) and all the planning, buying, researching, worrying, arguing over names disappears as you look at this little soul who has entered, and more than likely completely captivated, your world.
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
So let's get past the fact that I hated the outward and return journeys with a passion.
And let's move on to the fact that I understand completely now why Mr H fell in love with Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City if you prefer).
Saigon is, quite simply, mad. Mr H had forewarned me of the fact that there are countless numbers of scooters being driven in this city and you just have to step off the kerb and "go for it" when crossing the road. Nothing prepares you for this spectacle, it's insane but somehow it works perfectly well. You do just step off and go for it, I became quite the expert by the end of our time there. The streets are lined with shops selling all sorts of lovely things you would want to buy, from hand made lacquered items to beautiful (and cheap) material. In the midst of these shops you will find a Louis Vuitton boutique, primarily for tourists I suppose.
The restaurants, oh I could wax lyrical about these for the rest of the day, range from the local version of a fast food outlet to a sumptuous Sunday brunch at The Sheraton. Two of the best restaurants we found were local; on the roof of a building you sit at your table with it's inbuilt barbecue, you order your food raw from the menu and you cook it yourself, such a simple idea yet absolutely brilliant. We had two fantastic meals there. The other was along a similar vein, you sit at your table, you order what you want to eat, the waiter takes your order outside to one of the many booths furiously cooking food and about 10 minutes later, your order is delivered to your table. And this was the restaurant where the Mister and I discovered Black Sticky Rice as a pudding, an unexpected treat, in fact so much so that upon returning home it was the first thing I "googled", found a recipe for and tried out at home (needless to say the four H's were not interested but the Mister and I had yummy puddings that night). Sunday brunch at The Sheraton was cheap as chips and a culinary experience the likes of which I have never, and probably will never, experience again. It was worth it for the Fillet Mignon alone (I have never, in all my 38 years, had a fillet mignon so that was a first), oh and the vodka passion fruit slushies went down well too.....
On a more touristy note now, we visited the Cu Chi tunnels (lifted from Wikipedia: are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The role of the tunnel systems should not be underestimated in its importance to the Viet Cong in resisting American operations and protracting the war, eventually persuading the weary Americans into withdrawal.)
These tunnels were mystifying to me, how on earth did they stay down there for so long, weren't they incredibly dark and dank? Our tour guide was particularly enthusiastic about the day, which was as well otherwise I think my slight claustrophobia would have set in and I would have dismissed it entirely as being a waste of time. But it wasn't, it was fascinating. The highlight? watching 6ft 5 Mister descend into the darkness and re-appear at another exit some 50m away (and he does have claustrophobia, so bravo! - the tunnels have at some point been heightened and widened for tourists but I'm not sure for one as tall as he). The other highlight was sitting on the coach being driven through the Vietnamese countryside towards and from our destination, watching paddy fields, (incredibly scrawny) cows, more scooters and children of various ages going/coming to/from school, all in their neat uniforms.
We also had a day out to the Cao Dai temple about an hour's drive outside of Saigon. Now this I was extremely interested to visit as I have lately (well over the past two years at least) been drawn towards the serenity I feel from Buddhism. Caodaism is the third largest religion in Vietnam, after Buddhism and Catholicism and is made up of elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism (more info can be found here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/caodaism.htm). The visit to this temple was the highlight of our trip for me, we were privileged to arrive in time for the noon prayers and to be able to stand on the viewing gallery and watch was beautiful, I felt such peace and tranquility and came away refreshed. The simplistic prayers and absolute faith of the followers at worship was extraordinary and it was wonderful to feel enveloped for at least a short while by this.
One of our mornings in Saigon was spent jumping from taxi to temple, to taxi to temple. We were lucky to arrive at one of the smaller Buddhist temples in time to watch a young monk make his morning offering. And to watch the locals coming in to burn incense and offer their prayers or thanks. A particularly small baby girl held in the arms of her mother was completely and utterly oblivious to it all,sleeping soundly with such an air of peace about here, her mother was there to give thanks for her safe arrival into the world. She was a darling little thing.
The Continental Hotel was officially a four star, but to be honest, it felt more like five. The room was huge, there was a king size and a single bed, a separate little seating area complete with an old steamer lounger - Mr H had to tell me on many occasions that no, it wouldn't lend itself to the flight home or look in place in our garden. Shame really......
I wasn't brave enough to ride on the back of a scooter but I was brave enough to partake of a small journey in a bicycle rickshaw, although upon getting off declaring it was second only to my terrifying experience of go-karting and I would never be doing that again.
There is an air of family in Vietnam, no matter (I think) where you go. Children are clearly adored and it shows. Every evening families with young children would gather in a particularly lovely flower filled area with a fountain, where the children would spend the evening splashing their hands in the water and running around playing with balloons that their parents had bought them from a nearby vendor. To see a family of three, four or even five, on a scooter riding through the streets with no air of nervousness about them was incredible - some children are mere babies, some being bottle fed by their mother as their father negotiates the traffic.
Saigon was an uplifting experience, I came home feeling renewed but once again that overwhelming ache that I feel whenever we land back in the UK took hold, and even though I had a wonderful time, spending quality hours with my beloved, the journey back home made me realise once again that this is not where I want to be.
And yes, the four H's were pleased to have their mama and daddy back. And I was glad that they were happy.
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As I have just this morning found out that a second good friend is preggers with her second baby (October's going to be an expensive month, ooh I feel those knitting needles beckoning), I know where I'm heading for my congratulatory greetings.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Monday, 2 March 2009
My favourite day of the week is Thursday. There's still enough of the week left to get excited about tomorrow being Friday and then the impending weekend, but most of the week gone to make me happy.
My favourite number is 7. I'm not entirely sure why, but I've always like the sound of the word seven.
My favourite animal is a cat, they're pedantic and cranky, but heaps of fun. I miss my cat.
My favourite time of the day is between the hours of 10.00am and noon, as Monday to Friday that's usually when son no.2 is having a nap and the other three are in school, Mister H is at work leaving just myself and the dogs to either savour the peace or have music playing in the background which makes all the laundry/housework/blogging (delete as applicable) an easier task.
My favourite car that I have owned was a 1983 Datsun Cherry (in Cherry Red). It's name was Marvin, after the ubiquitous Martian. I loved that car.
My favourite place in the world is South Africa. If I could lift and move my house and family in one easy go it would be to there. I love the sounds, sights, peoples, smells, languages of Africa as a whole but SA is my favourite. I love their patriotism, their all encompassing love of rugby and sports in general, their laid back attitude to life, their absolute joy of family and friends and spending time with them. I love a thick SA accent, Mister H has lost his somewhat over the years although it does come back with a vengeance when he speaks to relatives on the phone.
My favourite pieces of jewellery are my wedding, engagement and eternity rings. 9ct gold and sparkly diamonds, I cannot help but smile every time I catch sight of them.
My favourite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I was 13 years old when I first read this book (at school) and fell in love with all the characters immediately. I named my jack russell Scout after the character in the book.
My favourite film - this is a tie between Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (yes, really!) and The Green Mile.
My favourite song of all time - again, a tie between Blue Monday by New Order (love love love) and Insomnia by Faithless (quite possibly the greatest "dance" track ever).
I don't have a favourite tv show as I don't watch enough tv to warrant one. I did however used to love Saturday Morning Swap Shop with Noel, Cheggers and Posh Paws when I was younger, and Wilo The Wisp voiced by the late, great Kenneth Williams.
Anybody care to share their favourites?
Sunday, 15 February 2009
feeling very happy and enthusiastic:
Are you getting excited about your holiday?
I kid you not, the first example of the word excited underneath was wholly appropriate this morning. My answer would be "well, yes".
My only negative? leaving the children (albeit in the safe and loving hands of my mother) and knowing that for a few moments after leaving home en route to Heathrow, I will be a blubbering wreck. I have already apologised to Mr H for this momentary, and completely necessary, lapse in excitement.
So lovely souls happily scribing away in blogland, adieu.....I will beseige you with details of the trip upon return.
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Monday, 2 February 2009
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Monday, 26 January 2009
So here's my take on my own personal job description for being such a SAHM:
SAHM - full time (24hrs x 7 days) carer, cleaner, cook, laundrywoman, dishwasher filler and emptier, pet carer, rugby coach, ballet practice partner (badly), nappy changer, linen changer, bin emptier, nurse, teacher, agony aunt, chauffeur, singer of songs, player of games, mediator of arguments, picker upper of various single socks lying about the place minus their twin, toilet scrubber, toothbrush from dog's mouth rescuer, answer machine as no one else hears the phone ringing, furniture mover (to hoover all the crap out from under the table/chairs/sofas/beds), expert sewer (see sub section in contract about last minute Sunday evening hem repairs), world record holding speed sandwich maker, towels from floor picker-upper, extractor of dvds/cds/childrens toys from dogs mouths, toilet roll changer, emergency fringe cutter.
Pay: Non negotiable and not much
Holiday Entitlement: Zero, unless it's to go abroad/in the UK with family and repeat all such duties as above (if holiday is taken without children in tow, spend entire time away from them worrying about whether or not they're ok, eating well, sleeping etc.)
Perks/Benefits: Giver and receiver of kisses and cuddles, inhaler of sleepy baby smell first thing in the morning/just after bathtime smells
Social Benefits: few and far between. Various toddler/family groups/music groups/tumble tots etc. attended. Arrive with good intentions but invariably revert to slagging off other half for being a lazy bas*ard and coming home paranoid because your child is not reciting his ABCs and 123s IN FRENCH like little Luca who's mother is impeccably dressed, walked 1.5miles to group because it's better for the environment and looks like she didn't put on a single pound whilst pregnant and whose French nanny is at home cooking Coq Au Vin.
Various Girls Nights Out allowed, maybe once or twice a year (NOT to be taken as holidays nor the day after because of self inflicted hangover). See point above re. good intentions.
Saturday, 17 January 2009
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
1. Been to the drs and got my immunisations for Vietnam
2. Picked up son no.2 from Mr H at home and hot footed it over to a music shop to buy reeds for son no.1's clarinet
3. Dropped reeds/clarinet/music book at son no.1's school
4. Come home and persuaded (he didn't need much) son no.2 to take a nap
5. Checked emails etc (and typed this)
6. Brewed coffee which am about to enjoy now as I've only had one cup this morning
The laundry? - still waiting and still unloved
Monday, 12 January 2009
2. Persuade son no.2 to have his morning nap
3. Drink copious amounts of coffee
4. FIND previously mentioned felt for various crafting projects
5. Plead with son no.2 that it really is time to go to sleep and have his morning nap
6. Finish half hearted attempt to do the laundry
7. Figure out what to have for lunch
8. NOT spend more than 10 minutes in the morning checking emails, facebook (the horror) etc.
9. Drink some more coffee
10. Wake son no.2 from morning nap (alternative option here is to fetch him out from his bedroom as he bangs on the door having already awoken from morning nap)
Spend the afternoon lamenting the fact that yet again, the list is unaccomplished.
daughter no.1 never wanted to learn ballet. She was a tomboy through and through at age 5 (not that you would know now, she's by far and away the most feminine young woman you'd want to meet, albeit slightly glowing every now and again due to overly liberal use of fake tan).However, daughter no.2 is a "girly girl". Loves everything pink, flowery, fairy inspired, fluffy bunnies, wearing her hair in pigtails, pretty dresses. When she asked Mr H and I last November if she could learn ballet, I actually clapped my hands in that annoying way they do in films (minus the excited squealing though thankfully) because I was so happy. After years of standing out every Sunday morning during the rugby season in the cold, rain, wind, snow, freezing cold (delete as applicable) watch son no.1 training and playing, my time to sit at the back of a dance studio surrounded by ballet slippers and little girls in tutus had come along at last.
So off to ballet we went. It wasn't quite the start I'd wished for as we almost got lost and couldn't find the dance school but by sheer luck and some slightly dubious navigating, we managed to arrive with five minutes to spare before the beginning of the lesson. The first lesson she sat and watched for the first half, then joined in as best she could in the second half. The next lesson though was a triumph, she quickly mastered the most basic of little galloping steps, a very sweet little fairy dance and some (although I do say so myself) intricate little tap steps. And was promptly moved up a group after just 1 week. By this point I'm bursting with pride and having visions of attending her debut performance with the Royal Ballet......
At the end of the penultimate lesson before the Christmas break, she was moved up to the next group. Cue excited hand clapping from us both upon telling Mr H when we got home.
Last Saturday was her first lesson back after the Christmas break. And in my eyes she was extraordinary, I would have expected her to forget at least half of what she'd already learnt, but she hadn't. In fact she did the best I'd seen from her so far. And at the end of the lesson, the teacher came over to tell me that she was moving daughter no.2 up to the first Exam Group as she was progressing so well and so quickly, and that her discipline (sometimes severely lacking at home due to a lot of daydreaming and arguing with older siblings) was excellent. We watched the first ten minutes of the next class - the one she will be attending from this weekend on - and when we got home she was keen to practise First and Second Positions.
To say I'm proud of my little girl is an understatement. She has embraced dance with all her heart and it truly is lovely to watch.
Last Tuesday, my home town was the coldest place in England - imagine that, we're usually only famous for an air show. http://www.prisonplanet.com/global-warming-at-10c-britains-colder-than-the-antarctic-and-experts-say-it-will-get-even-colder.html
It's now lunchtime, I have basketfuls of washing that need to go into the tumble dryer, which is (in)conveniently stored in the shed, it's bucketing down outside and son no.2 is happily watching a little blue steam engine on dvd.
The dogs are asleep, says it all really.
Friday, 9 January 2009
1. Write up my childminding policies
2. Make a start on some more felt cubes for son no.2
3. Make a start on some felt cookies and other goodies for daughter no.2 for her new Cherry Blossom Stores
4. Tidy up the back garden
5. Change son no.2's nappy - oh wait, I have to do that RIGHT NOW!