Thursday, 26 December 2013

Class dismissed

Not sure why this old post has jumped to the front of the que? Please refer to Octopus envy (below) for latest post.

Hubby and I are attending our antenatal classes.
I’ve learnt quite a few useful things, including the fact I can play George Michael songs in the delivery room.
Mark has learnt quite a few useful things, including the fact that I am not very vocal in a room full of strangers.
“I noticed yourself and the young Chinese girl at the front were the only ones who didn’t contribute," said hubby.
“I’d forgotten how rubbish I am at public speaking," said I.
His words transported me back to the shy school girl I once was. And to be honest, I wasn’t comfortable remembering those awkward years.
I used to envy my mother’s confidence regarding speaking to strangers, or engaging in conversation with more than a handful of people. I also recall she would constantly remind me that most of the time, confidence came with age.
She was correct with her age theory. As the years have rolled by, my confidence has grown. I no longer panic when left to my own devices and it’s necessary to speak to a total stranger. And the more meetings I attend at work and become accustomed to relevant colleagues, the chattier I have become.
But a room full of complete strangers, who are obviously more self-assured than me (apart from the young Chinese girl at the front), well that’s a different matter.
I was disappointed that I’d reverted back to my quiet school years. But I guess some habits are hard to break away from, and I slipped back into my absorbing rather than contributing mode.
What was I so scared of anyway?
Saying the wrong thing?
Everyone staring at me and feeling conscious of my cheeks flushing pink?
My timid voice not being heard above the fearless speeches?
Or all of the above?
I decided to test myself during the next antenatal class.
I made a deal with myself and I was not going to let myself down.
My school days are long behind me. I am now a full-fledged adult whose answers and opinions matter!
I can’t recollect my precise words, but I know I answered a question which was proposed to the audience, by the bubbly midwife at the front of the class.
And it wasn’t so hard after all.
Okay, I did not continually shout out answers, like the attractive lady at the back. Or query the McDonalds milkshake allowance (etc), like the school teacher sitting behind me.
But small steps and all that.
We can’t pretend to be someone we are not, yet we can certainly remind ourselves that we are capable of improving ourselves should the occasion arise.
And that, dear readers, is exactly what I did.
Next week, I shall try to answer two questions.
Maybe even more.
Yeah, maybe.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Octopus envy

I did not think I would ever be envious of an octopus.
Until recently, I have never considered the cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda a lucky creature.
Apparently, they are supposed to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates, capable of complex and flexible behaviour.
And they have eight arms.
These mentioned eight arms are the reason behind my envy. I do not care that they live in the sea, I don't even really like the sea. Their habitat is of no interest to me, I can barely swim and deep water scares me.
It's those eight arms which leave me wistfully thinking about an octopus.
I have realised, since little Tommy was born, that two arms are not enough when caring for a new born.
Especially when you are home alone and you have a teeny baby relying on you, two arms and two hands are not sufficient.
I've reached the conclusion, that if I was an octopus, I could hold baby T and comfort him when he was hungry, and at the same time prepare his bottle, ensure his nappy was clean before feeding, and the special feeding pillow and bib were at hand, plus check television was on and interesting channel was chosen.
Or, when baby T was content and settled, if I had more than two arms it would make life far easier. I could place him in his swing chair, and fill dishwasher/empty dishwasher/fill washing machine/empty washing machine/feed myself/dress myself/hoover/clean bathroom/wrap Christmas presents/make Christmas cards/order Christmas presents. With merely two arms it is necessary to perform these actions at top speed, as I never know if his sleep will last three minutes or three hours, and despite all efforts I often fail to complete all tasks.
I do hope you can understand, after this little insight into my recent world, why I am dissatisfied with my human arms.
Oh octopus, how simple caring for a baby would be for you.
Alas, I do not have the benefits of the number eight, so dear readers I must dash. Tommy is stirring, therefore peace and harmony no longer reign.
It was nice while it lasted.
I must head back to my two armed world and stop dreaming of an octopus.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Life begins at 40

For as long as I can remember, well at least since my 30th birthday, I have been mentioning my 40th birthday.
Silly really, thinking about the next milestone when you've just reached and are enjoying your current one.
Especially when no one can guarantee where you will be in your life when you do meet this mentioned milestone.
I've spent far too much time and wasted far too many conversations discussing and planning my 40th. Whether it was listing my options of preferred celebrating, should I throw a party, book a weekend away, or visit a posh restaurant? Or whether it was trying not to be too horrified that I would soon be in the 40 year old age bracket.
But little did I know, I would not be throwing any parties, or visiting any bars on this day, or any near by days. Far from it!
In my wildest dreams I did not imagine I would be lying in a hospital theatre, surrounded by strangers singing happy birthday to me, after slicing me open and presenting me with my son.
And what a birthday present!
The best, unexpected, 17 days overdue, birthday present.
It proves to me once again, that sometimes you can't plan everything in life. It has a funny way of showing you not to get too complacent, it can bite you on the bottom and shout, "Surprise! I bet you didn't think this would happen!"
Fortunately, I'm overjoyed with my latest surprise.
Life, for me, really has begun again.

Friday, 6 December 2013

It's the most magical time of the year

A gingerbread man, a rocking horse, a train set, just a few of the items nesting in the Christmas tree.

And then there were three. The third stocking is waiting for Santa.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

What happened next

I would like to point out, before alarm bells ring inside your head, and to prevent any doubt that you should inform social services of my behaviour, that I do not think of my son as an animal, i.e. a dog.
However, whilst heavily pregnant I must confess to admitting I was a little apprehensive regarding the responsibility and care of my unborn child. Yes, ahem, several jokes were cracked to colleagues and friends that I'd twice owned a dog and perhaps the upbringing was similar.
Of course I am fully aware babies and dogs are not quite the same. Babies should never, under any circumstances, eat Pedigree Chum, or any other form of dog food. Babies should also never be taken out for a walk on a lead. Reins are fine, but please, no leads attached to collars, this would be totally unacceptable.
But dogs, particularly puppies, rely on first their mother, and then us human beings to feed and protect them. And it's the same for babies.
I will never, ever, forget the first time I looked at and held my tiny son, Tommy.
"Hello, I'm your mummy," I said.
He immediately stopped crying and peered at me in a somewhat bewildered manner. This look continued during our first night together at the hospital, and all the way through to the next morning, our car journey home, and carrying him through the front door to our front room.
He still looked bewildered, and now it was time for myself and hubby to feel the same.
Mark and I stared at each other and both thought, so now what do we do?
It was then we realised there was no instruction manual, batteries were not included. There was no permanent helper by our side, explaining what each cry meant and how we should be reacting.
It was just us, and him.
Somehow we survived those first, incredibiliy exciting but exhausting and frightening, few days. Instinct really does take over, and you learn from your innocent mistakes. Google is also a godsend.
We didn't even have to resort to a squeaky toy, or a dog bone.
Don't worry, I'm joking with you!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Meet Tommy

Minutes old

Days old

Oh life, why are you never half as romantic as I'd imagined you to be?
When I wrote my birthing plan (this was recommended by the midwife during antenatal classes), I distinctly remember requesting:
Birthing pool please.
George Michael music to be played.
Gas and air only, no epidural.
Mark to lift baby from water.
Mark to cut umbilical cord.
Baby to have vitamin K injection.
Must remain calm and spiritual and dignified. (Alright, I did not actually write this, but that was my general feeling about the whole thing.)

The brutal reality was, the birthing plan did not leave my over packed bag, all requests were left on paper when real life kicked in.
In fact it would be true to say, it was not at all romantic.
It was long, painful, and at times barbaric.
Without a hint of a birthing pool or George's voice!
Yes this is the story of how Tommy came into the world, seventeen days after my due date. With a grand total of four days in hospital.
(And no seventeen days overdue and four days in hospital is not considered a common occurrence.)
However, it was worth every single, unromantic, second.
Because then I met my beautiful, bewildered, son, for the very first time.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The colour of Autumn

Apparently, pineapple, raspberry tea, and walking, can hurry the labour process. I've been trying all 3 in abundance!
Pictures below are from our Sunday walk, in the forest behind the cottage.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The unknown

The unknown can be a mysteriously dark and murky place.
Hiding in shady corners could be daunting prospects, behind closed doors there may be frightening dilemmas.
The unknown often keeps you awake at night, aiding your over active imagination, until finally you are too exhausted to think.
Or the unknown can sneak into your peaceful dreams, disturbing and interrupting, until you awake with terrifying thoughts etched into your mind.
But the unknown is not always unpleasant.
Sometimes the unknown is a sunny, welcoming, far away land, you love to escape to.
It could be full of your favourite fantasies.
The unknown could be somewhere you drift to, at the end of a rainbow, at the bottom of the turquoise ocean, or on a shining star in a velvet sky.
I am being faced with my own personal unknown.
Some days it's a joy. Other days it's a nightmare.
Oh unknown, how you can tempt and tease, and confuse me.
I am now 4 days over due. Baby T does not want to join the outside world yet.
I am full of mixed emotions about the most challenging change I have ever faced in my life.
Of course I am ecstatic about meeting him, the son my husband and I have created, and I've carried inside me for 40 weeks.
Alas with every high you can't help but dwell on a low.
Child birth is beginning to scare me a little, the pain, the concerns, that pesky unknown.
The huge responsibility of parenthood and the well being of a life you brought into the world.
And then I think about his tiny face staring back at me, and I am overwhelmed with a fierce love and protectiveness towards someone I haven't even met yet.
One thing's for sure about my forthcoming unknown, dear readers, you can be sure I'll tell you all about it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Home is where the heart is

Erm, had a lot of time on my hands today. So more pics from the cottage. 
View from the sofa. 
Our first anniversary cards. 
The dining area. 
The kitchen. 
On top of the cupboard. 
Bath time. 
Bed time. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The cupcake calm before the baby storm.

The alarm clock struck and hubby groaned.
"Ten minutes longer," he mumbled as he switched it off and turned over to snooze.
I couldn't help smiling to myself. Ten extra minutes did not apply to me. I was entitled to all the snoozing in the world.
Because I am now a housewife, dear readers.
I'm not a mother at this precise moment, as baby T is yet to make an appearance.
But I am no longer a career woman.
My maternity leave has commenced and I'm rather enjoying the calm before the baby storm.
It was strange at first, waking up as a lady of leisure and wondering how to fill my time. For the past 24 years I've worked in the publishing industry (apart from the odd bout of redundancy) and it was hard to switch off.
I couldn't help thinking about the office I'd left behind, the press days, the schedules, the banter with colleagues. Each time I glanced at my mobile phone or the clock in the kitchen, I was imagining my desk and the tasks I would be performing.
I guess it was only to be expected in the beginning, when you've said goodbye to people and a job you actually care about.
However, it did not take too long for me to adjust.
Especially when invites flooded in for lunch dates and shopping trips.
So far I've entertained friends in the lounge with cheese and broccoli quiches and vanilla cupcakes.
I've sampled hot chocolates and marshmallow cakes at my local high street with mother.
I've sat in a camper van in a Mexican restaurant, celebrating a friend's birthday.
I've browsed in shops, and laughed at the shop keepers reactions when they've seen the size of me and commented, "Goodness, you can't have much longer to go!"
I've visited the hairdressers for a much needed cut and colour.
I've also attended midwife and doctor's appointments.
And I've shopped on-line and purchased a 'baby on board' furry snail and blue and white baby clothes.
Oh I've also done some housework.
So now it's the waiting game until baby T decides he's ready to join the outside world.
And that, dear readers, will be the next, much anticipated, humongous change in my life.
Until then, I'm going to bake more cupcakes and pop to the pub over the road for my next lunch date.

Friday, 27 September 2013

We're all waiting for you

In the nursery,
Big Ted, Winnie The Pooh and Eeyore,
the bunnies,
Peter Rabbit,
even the knitted cardigans and teddy slippers,
not forgetting the baby record books and photo album. Everyone is waiting for you baby T! 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

B is for bored

He looked at me with a mix of pure horror and utter confusion.
“What will you do with your time?”
“Oh I’ll think of something,” was my calm response.
I’m working late, dear readers. It seemed like a good idea at the time when I agreed to work late so hubby could football train. I mentally noted I could donate extra hours to the paper contract extension, and any other important matters.
The problem is, it’s been a quiet period in the office, so I’ve completed the paper contract extension and all other important matters. I’m entirely on top of the work load and my hand over folder to my maternity cover. I'm now awaiting for the next printing schedule/crisis. (This is very rare, might I add.)
Hence my maternity cover’s reaction when referring to the fact I would not be rushing out the door at 5pm on the dot.
But in my mind, there are always things to do. Whether I’m left alone in the office or the house, or I’ve been abandoned for football, I never struggle to fill my time.
I literally can not remember the last time I moaned I was bored. Bored is not a word in my vocabulary.
Take last night for instance, hubby was watching football and it was not a particularly interesting match. I was trying to watch The Great British Bake Off on the ipad, but to my annoyance, it kept crashing. Instead of slouching on the sofa complaining the match was boring and I was bored, I decided to plonk myself upstairs and make forthcoming birthday cards. Once this task was completed, I surfed the internet for forthcoming birthday ideas, and then I finished off with a bubble bath, scented candles, and a magazine. Bored? Nope, not me sir.
Likewise with tonight. I could sit here moping and staring out the window at KFC, thinking how boring this is, but what good is that? Besides, I can always think of something to do to amuse myself. My brain hardly ever switches off, and I am not a fan of wasting time.
So tonight, from the office, I need to chase the company I ordered the Peter Rabbit nursery linen from.
I must text a friend to make arrangements for her daughter’s birthday on Sunday.
I should finalise another arrangement to see another friend’s new born baby.
I will telephone the Indian restaurant to book a table for Saturday night, our first wedding anniversary.
I’ll read the emails hubby has sent me regarding Cornwall holiday cottages for next year.
I will also do some work stuff, such as shredding old finances I’ve come across as a result of cleaning out my drawers.
As well as shredding I will recycle old magazines to make way for new ones.
I think I'll finally get round to clearing out the contents underneath my desk, and fill my carrier bags with books, shoes and cake tins.
I’d like to stroll over to the desk at the end of office, and help myself to the chocolate shortbread, which a colleague kindly brought into the office, to celebrate six years in employment.
All this must be completed before my (later) train home!
So yes, there are plenty of things to do with my time, and I’m afraid, dear readers, there is no time left to blog about it.
And certainly no time to use that b word.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Man verses woman

I have interviewed and employed my maternity cover. And he’s a man.
I mention this fact because, my once female dominated working environment is gradually being over taken by men.
It has been noticed and remarked upon. Only yesterday lunchtime a male colleague, in between munching his chips in the staff canteen, said to me, “As you’re the only girl at the table can we talk about pen knives and Star Wars instead of make-up and shoes?”
“When do I ever talk about make-up and shoes?” was my puzzled reply, after taking a gulp of my spicy tomato soup.
Yes I may be female and wear make-up, but I’ve never considered cosmetics particularly exciting. If I’m reading a magazine I’ll often skip the pages containing the new season lipstick colours and one hundred different ways to wear blue eye shadow. Plus I have the most sensitive feet in the world, therefore I hate buying new shoes as I associate new foot wear with blistered toes, bleeding heels and aching arches.
I guess this was just a general reference to girly stuff, but it did make me question whether I could be placed in the she’s-so-girly category?
And for the record, pen knives don’t float my boat either, but I do like Star Wars. Star Wars films are classics from my childhood, not forgetting the modern day version. Ewoks, from a galaxy far, far away, are also very cute. Although I don’t suppose you’d catch a man admitting his fondness for these furry animals? He’d more likely comment that Darth Vader was the ultimate baddie, or he wished he had a lightsabre to fight battles with.
Hmm, now it’s my turn to gender define. I suppose we can all be guilty of this, and not wishing to sound sexist or politically incorrect, but we are different.
There are female and male hormones, sometimes they meet in the middle and over-lap, but generally I think we can be separated due to our genes.
Is this such a terrible statement to make? I’m all for equal rights but sometimes we have to admit, we are built differently and this could mean men and women behave differently.
I was even more aware of this when I waddled into the office the very next day and asked my female colleague if she’d watched The Great British Bake Off the night before.
“Those trifles were amazing," was her reply, as we discussed ginger cake bases and coconut toppings. Whilst commenting on oven temperatures, I couldn’t help noticing my male maternity cover was rolling his eyes, after scanning his computer screen for the cricket results.
Of course men can bake as well, and there are many expert bakers on TGBBO, but it’s not every man’s dream. Hubby and I usually like watching cookery programmes together, but there’s something about baking which does not appeal to him whatsoever. When I settled down to view trifles and meringues, he opened his tool box and disappeared upstairs to screw together the nursery wardrobe, much to my delight.
I noted that watching this series was an excellent way to encourage him to leave the room and participate in DIY!
Maybe this gender difference isn’t such a bad thing either.
Definitely not in our house anyway, on a Tuesday evening in September.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The perils of a sickness bug and missing birthday plans

I’m really glad last week is over.
It began in its usual manner, full of hope and plans. Then it spiralled gloomily downhill, until I was thankful to see the back of it.
Monday was fine, the start of a brand spanking new week. Clean diary pages in the office, awaiting for tasks in anticipation for my maternity cover. A trip to the supermarket, our favourite meals sought, with tubs of cookie dough ice-cream for pure indulgence.
Tuesday followed pleasantly enough, the sun was still shining, and receiving email correspondence from friends is always nice. Fresh floral sheets covered the bed, after a long soak in vanilla essence bubble bath.
Wednesday I allow myself to look forward to the following weekend, without fearing I’m wishing my life away. Arrangements were made for husband’s birthday, the promise of chocolate brownies, and the company of family and friend’s.
And then Thursday struck. Without prior warning, out of the blue, it happened. 
I awoke feeling sick. I tried to shrug it off, “It will pass,” I naively told hubby, as I forced myself to eat my two Weetabixs.
It did not pass. I spent a rather unpleasant car journey, followed by two trains commutes, accompanied with an unwelcome queasiness.
I arrived at the office, fearing the worst. I could no longer contain myself, I rushed to the ladies and violently vomited. Twice.
I thought I would then gradually feel better. Alas, the opposite occurred, gradually I felt worse. Two separate trips to perform the same action were necessary. I was deteriorating.
A concerned Mark (I'd e-mailed him body function updates) left his office to collect me and assist me to the doctors. Being pregnant, it’s not only my health I have to fret over but the health of the unborn child inside me. How could I provide him with essential nutrients whilst this bug was causing such havoc? And what if this was something more sinister than a common, sickness bug?
It wasn’t anything sinister. The doctor informed me he’d seen five different people in his surgery with the same condition. He also assured me that the baby could feed from my placenta, although it was important I did not dehydrate. Therefore, he prescribed me tablets to banish my sickness, and drinks to rehydrate my body.
Finally, I arrived home and headed back to the safety of my bed. Mark concocted a blackcurrant rehydration drink for me to sip, and I eagerly swallowed a tablet to aid my recovery. I tried to sleep, but by this time my body was shivering and burning feverishly hot. I tried to position myself comfortably, which is hard to do with a large baby bump. (Cute bump has been replaced with feeling like the size of a small kingdom.)
At last, the tablet kicked in, I stopped constantly feeling on the verge of vomiting, and my body surrendered to peaceful sleep.
I was advised by the doctor to starve the germ. This resulted in a new sickness; the terrible hunger pains in the pit of my stomach, when I stirred from my sleep. But I was determined to beat this bug.
So Friday was a weak day. Another trip to the doctors was required for temperature and baby position check, and a cancellation for Mark's family birthday meal.
A cancellation for Mark’s family birthday meal! This was not pleasing. Unfortunately I was informed I could still be contagious to other humans, and plain food was essential for the healing process. So no chocolate brownies for me. Not to mention the guilt I felt that Mark’s birthday meal was replaced by a night on the sofa, gingerly nibbling on toast (spicy take away pizza for Mark).
Saturday was not a good day either. We'd arranged a friend's lunch for Mark's birthday, with pre-drinks in our garden. But I still felt weak and woozy. I couldn't risk passing it onto two pregnant ladies, three young children, and seven other adults. I couldn't stand the guilt of Mark missing another planned event, so I insisted he still went ahead, and met his friends in the pub opposite. I reluctantly sat on the sofa, dozing, feeling sorry for myself, and watching rubbish television.
You'd think Sunday might have improved, alas it was not so. I was gradually feeling better, yet a hungover Mark was not. I was itching to leave the house but birthday Mark wanted to watch cricket. All day long. You might or might not know, I detest cricket. As it was his birthday and I'd mucked up his arrangements all weekend, how could I refuse?
I'd rather not dwell on Sunday and the torture of watching grown men throwing balls and trying to hit them with pieces of wood. (Apologies if I've offended any hard core cricket fans.) 
Yes, I'm really glad last week is over. 
How easy it is to take our health for granted, until something reminds us how fragile and vulnerable we can be. 
This week I am obsessed with dirty germs, scrubbing my hands and surfaces with anti-bacteria wash. I'm dosing myself with fruit and vegetables, hoping my body will forgive me for the lack of vitamins I've allowed it over the latter part of last week.
And I'm so excited about the prospect of a weekend away from my bed and sofa. 
Roll on the busy weekend, and a germ free, healthy, non-vomiting body. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Prince George

Could you imagine buying your weekly groceries, hunting around in your purse/wallet to pay for your tins of baked beans and packets of frozen peas (or whatever you’d purchased), and staring right back at you, on your crumpled £20 note, was a picture of your nan?
Would you find this a teeny bit weird?
Or maybe it would be even weirder if you couldn’t purchase your groceries at your leisure, for fear of press intrusion. Huge camera lenses flashing before you as you reached that shelf to remove the washing powder.
Or even worse, if you walked along the streets without the security of a body guard, you were risking life and limb with the threat of kidnappers.
Is this the way you’d like to conduct your life?
It’s not the life for me.
I’d rather have anonymity and freedom, than history and privileges.
I’m trying to imagine being part of the Royal Family. In particular, putting myself in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s (expensive, shiny) shoes.
It’s not something I often think about, I am not an obsessive Royalist. However, recently I have been pondering about such situations, due to the birth of their child, Prince George, who happens to be third in line to the throne.
As soon as it was announced the Duchess of Cambridge had arrived at St Mary’s hospital, to give birth to our future King or Queen, the UK press and newsrooms were in a frenzy for snippets of information.
For hours reporters stood outside the hospital, commenting and speculating, and waiting for the first picture of the little Prince or Princess.
I couldn’t help feeling a tad sorry for the new mum. Labour must be exhausting enough, without knowing most of the country is waiting for you to leave hospital and wondering what dress you’ll be wearing/if you’ll have a flat tummy/what your son or daughter will look like.
For the record, it was a blue and white polka dot dress, she still had a tummy (she may be a member of the Royal family but she’s not super human), and he looked like, erm, a baby.
But she looked lovely, happy, beaming, and calm. Posing for photographs and waving at the crowds.
I’m not sure if I will be looking half as decent as her after enduring hours of labour. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t.
I imagine I’ll have a make-up free, pale and exhausted face. My lank and sweaty hair tied back, and wearing whatever outfit I can fit in/remembered to pack in my panicked frame of mind before leaving for the hospital.
But I wouldn’t wish for it to be any other way.
Sometimes, I’m glad I’m just common old me, living my easy, modest life.
Oh and welcome to this crazy world, little Prince George.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Morning has broken

It would be fair to say, I have never been a morning person, and never thought I would ever be one of these morning people.
For various reasons to mankind, I’ve often struggled with the concept of getting out of bed.
When I think about these reasons, the words too cold/went to bed too late/had problems sleeping/can’t wake up/slight hangover, have always been high on my list of excuses.
I have spent years using and abusing these dilemmas. Years of rushing to the school gates, just as the bell was ringing, to signal the start of school. Followed by years of practically running to the train station, for my journey to the office, toast dangling from mouth and questioning why I can’t remove myself from my bed at a reasonable hour.
I must admit, the getting-up-at-the-last-possible-minute-lifestyle changed when I joined my current place of employment. It was a long commute and I wanted to make a good impression. So I actually set my alarm earlier than required, sneaked off to bed at normal o’clock, and rose with my alarm.
Finally, I’d cracked it!
I think it helped matters that I was leading a calmer existence. I was living back at my parent’s abode where it was no longer acceptable to be guzzling wine at a ridiculous hour with a houseful of friends.
However, I still did not particularly like mornings. The idea of being bright eyed and bubbly before 10am was alien to me. I was still kind of zombified. Dressing and eating took longer than necessary, and the thought of participating in conversation with anyone filled me with pure horror.
Then suddenly, my life and this aversion to mornings changed.
Or should I say, I fell pregnant and I became Mrs Sensible. Tiredness in the first 12 weeks kicked in, drinking was banned, and so I found myself retiring to bed earlier and earlier. Not only was I being responsible during the week, but my weekends changed me from a night owl, to can you believe I am actually saying this, a morning person.
Amazing what adequate sleep and clean living can accomplish!
I feel like a new person at the weekends, a much nicer and happier person. I no longer snooze, and snooze, until I run out of snoozing and excuses for not getting out of bed.
I wake up, I feel pretty good, and I want to get out of my bed. Yes, your eye sight has not failed you, I actually wrote that!
Okay, baby T is fond of pushing on my bladder and I have to dash to the loo, or he is pressing on a nerve and my leg is numb. So I figure I might as well get up and stay up.
The garden and the weather should also be held responsible for this personality transplant.
In the UK we are experiencing summer weather during the summer months. This is almost unheard of. We may see the sun’s rays peeking through in May, but the following months are usually grey and wet. Normally during summer holidays, Wimbledon tennis tournament and Glastonbury music festival, the weather is a wash out, worn with a light weight coat.
It’s finally a hot summer in England! It’s a pleasure to wake up with the sun streaming through the windows, to walk downstairs in our cottage and pull back the blinds. I potter around watering the flowers in the garden, and I often sit amongst the greenery with my breakfast, gazing at the scenery and smiling.
I’ve never had my own garden before, or ever contemplated eating breakfast outside, in the UK summer, in the morning!
Forgive me if I am waffling about liking mornings, but it’s quite an achievement for me.
And let’s face it, I need to make the most of this serenity before Baby T arrives.
Ask me if I like mornings when I’ve been up all night feeding, with my screaming son in my arms, probably with a little bit of his sick in my hair, and a slight glint of madness in eyes. I have been warned by friends and family that this is how it will be for a while.
Ask me if I like mornings then, as I’m wondering when I will ever have time to dress and feed myself, and I think you might know what my response will be!
Therefore, I shall cherish my new found love of these splendid mornings for as long as I possibly can.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Daisies, strawberries, and tennis racquets

Phew, never before in the history of my life has one afternoon consisted of so much preparing and organising.
We invited hubby’s family to lunch. The occassion being welcome to our new home/it’s summer let’s have a barbecue. Naturally, I wanted everything to be perfect.
Invites were sent via Facebook (with map to our house and parking facilities) and word of mouth.
Next, I planned the menu by trailing through barbecue ideas online, and al fresco dining.
I then remembered that al fresco means flies, and wasps, and I rather dislike the thought of either creature landing on my food. So I purchased ladybird decorated food covers, and daisy and strawberry themed food covers. I’m a sucker for things looking pretty.
Whilst considering the amount of people invited, it became apparent we did not have enough chairs, plates, glasses and cutlery. It would not be considered polite to expect guests to stand, or eat with their fingers. Therefore, operation chairs and eating/drinking equipment began.
The previous tenants at our cottage left behind 3 tatty stools. After staring at stools and wondering what to do with them, I realised painting them white would inject a new lease of life. And 3 more seats for our guests. Actually, I delegated this task to Mark, after he questioned whether paint fumes and pregnancy should mix. He painted them in the garden, the weekend before the afternoon, and I also asked nicely if he would mind painting the bedroom furniture white too. Luckily he didn’t mind, if I supplied him with beer and Madness songs on the iPad. Deal.
I also scouted my parent’s house for suitable seating. Here I found a lovely green wicker chair, which parent’s have now passed onto me, as I kept mentioning how much I liked it. My mum also very kindly painted another wicker chair white, for our nursery, and for another family member’s bottom to sit on.
The seating problem became more or less solved with these extra additions and a text from Mark’s cousin. She reminded me the Wimbledon final would be shown during our family lunch, and as it looked likely a British Andy Murry would be competing, could we possibly have it on in the background? The answer was a definite yes, as it meant tennis fans could sit in the lounge by the TV. Hey presto, everyone has a seat!
Pink plastic cutlery, rose patterned paper plates with matching napkins and bowls, were ordered online to avoid messy finger and lap eating.
I even purchased brightly coloured plastic cups, to prevent my pink glasses from smashing (I am always paranoid about this) and so our thirsty guests could each have a drink. See how thoughtful I am!
Polka dot bunting for our wooden area in the garden was something I’ve had my eye on for a while, and now I had the best excuse to buy it. See, I really like things to look pretty.
The garden centre, walking distance from our cottage, provided me with tubs and white, pink and purple flowers (no idea of their names, I just liked the colour) to liven up our decking area.
Okay, now it was time to spend money on the food and drink, before I cleaned out my bank account and we all had to drink tap water and eat fresh air.
A trip to the supermarket, accompanied with a very long list, was required. With a detour to Argos for light bulbs and a doorbell. We’d actually not had a working doorbell for 3 months, but this was essential for hearing our guests.
The day before the event I weeded the garden, disposed of fallen leaves, and rubbed marks off walls with a very handy magic marker for such matters, and retired to bed at a sensible early hour.
On the day of the event, after dreaming about disastrous food and drink, I awoke very early and practically jumped out of bed, shouting, “I have so much to do!”
First job was to bake cakes and this was when the first catastrophe struck. Well, it wasn’t really a catastrophe, I’d unknowingly run out of caster sugar so I sent Mark to the supermarket to buy some. Unfortunately he was too early for the supermarket, he had to wander around the streets waiting for it to open, whilst I kept looking at the clock and muttering, “Where is he?”
During his long absence I decided not to waste any further time and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and prepared the salad. Pots of coleslaw and beetroot were opened and emptied into my baskets. Onions were chopped and cheese was grated.
Finally, a hungry and sweaty hubby returned with caster sugar!
Cakes were baked and decorated, potatoes were boiled, rice was cooked, rolls were buttered, crisps removed from packets, breaded turkey unfrozen.
All food was prepared whilst barking out orders to Mark re hovering and cleaning bathroom, and I also swept, cleaned windows, wiped surfaces with disinfectant, and arranged seating and cushions in garden.
Dear readers, by the time everyone arrived, I was shattered. And very hot. It was the hottest day of the year so far, the temperature was sweltering. Us Brits are experiencing a heat wave. And we are not used to it.
After oven on for 3 hours, and bending with pregnancy bump and dodgy leg and swollen feet and ankles, all I wanted to do when they arrived was lay in a cold bath and not think about all the food and drink that I was fed up with looking at.
Of course, I was not unsociable and I did not disappear into a cold bath, I was the perfect host. At least I like to think I tried my best under the circumstances. It was lovely to see everyone, and they all came bearing gifts of flowers, chocolates, fruit cake, etc, whilst remarking how hot it was.
Plus, Andy Murray won the final of Wimbledon. The first British winner since Fred Perry some 77 years ago. Not that I care much for tennis, but I am a little patriotic about these things. It was also nice to stay out of the heat and watch some of the celebrating in the cool lounge.
So all in all, not a bad day. Although I’m not quite sure if I will be in a hurry to entertain for 19 people again for a very long time.
At least not during a heat wave and nearly 7 months pregnant.

Polka dot bunting.

Blooming tubs.


Al Fresco.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Apply within

The voice at the other end of the telephone laughed.
I politely laughed back.
We said our goodbyes and I replaced the handset on the telephone, his laughter still ringing in my ears.
He had not just hit a raw nerve with his laughter and words, he’d crashed into it, 100 miles an hour, with a fantastically hard and loud, wallop!
How’s that for impact?
Of course he was only joking.
But many a true word can be said in jest.
I glanced at the CV’s on my desk, which he was referring to.
Okay, time to lighten up.
Time to make a sensible and intelligent decision based on the facts and my professional opinion.
I’m recruiting for my maternity cover.
I must find a replacement for the 9 months I’ll be missing from my desk and up to my eyes in nappies and bottles.
It’s an important task.
I want the hand over process to be as smooth as possible.
I will be training the successful candidate before I waddle off into the sunset.
But printing and publishing experience are essential.
It would not be ideal for my replacement to make costly mistakes, and then blame their lack of knowledge or training.
Returning to work will be hard enough. Financially it’s a must, so it’s imperative I don’t come back to chaos and mayhem.
I am very particular about my responsibilities.
I take great pride in my spread sheets and organisation.
And the thought of someone messing my methodical work load makes me feel quite queasy.
So they must be experienced and organised.
They must also be an excellent communicator with internal departments and external suppliers.
A proven track record in budgets and tenders is key, problem solving skills and able to work on their own initiative is imperative.
And then I remembered the laughter from earlier, and my suppliers words came back to haunt me.
“You don’t want someone too good Nikki. They might be better than you, and you won't have a job to come back to!”
Ha, ha!
Imagine that?
I eyed certain CV’s with great suspicion.
There were degrees.
Fluent languages speakers.
Confidence in bringing new ideas and creativity to the work place.
Are these the kind of individuals who will take over, belittle and undo all my hard work, and boss me around when I return?
Surely I’m being paranoid.
My supplier was only teasing after all.
Wasn’t he?
Damn you and your laughter!
I must be responsible and employ the right person.
I should be confident in my achievements and recognition.
Yes, of course he was pulling my leg, they won’t be better than me.
Will they?
I’ll let you know how the interviews proceed.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The last one

Our last holiday as just the two of us is over.
Next time we'll be packing for and catering for another.
No more relaxing on sun loungers and partying at bars (not that I've been partying whilst pregnant).
It will be family orientated holidays from now on.
But first, let me show you our last one.

My sister-in-law's parent's Spanish villa was our home for a week.

Mark and nephew on the balcony.

The balcony with the harbour view. It's big enough for a barbeque which was one night's entertainment before playing cards.

The villa pool. For chilling and reading by.

Walking into town.

Many a morning was spent shopping.

Some stunning handmade crafts.

Now I love cheese, but this cheese stall stank!

For the sweet toothed customer.

Nice view whilst eating breakfast.

The best way to eat scrambled eggs is when looking at the sea.

The view again.

Lunch consisted of dipping doughnuts into hot chocolate. My kind of lunch!

We dined out a Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Italian. The only restuarant we didn't visit was Spanish. Funny that.

Steak on a sword.

Cocktails for Mark. Banana milkshake for Nikki.

Strolling around the town.

The castle ruin.

Sand castles.

I love beach huts.

As you can see.

I really like beach huts.

No life guard today.

And that, dear readers, was our last holiday as just the two of us for a long time.
Well, apart from my brother and sister-in-law, and nephew, holidaying with us!