Friday, 20 November 2009


The bloody engine light has come on in my car again. It came on a few weeks ago, so I drove up to my mum and dad's so I could take it into my dad's work (car dealership with garage) to get it checked. By the time I got there the light had turned itself off, and my dad said I just had to wait for it to come on again. And this evening it did. I was kinda hoping it would just go away: that if I ignored it, somehow the problem would miraculously solve itself. This is something I used to like to do a lot, but when you have a child it's not really the most sensible way of dealing with things. I have cut my ostrich-like behaviour down to a bare minimum, and this really isn't the situation to start behaving like a strange bird again. I think partly I want to bury my head about this because I got the car from my dad, and he and my mum do so much for us that I feel guilty presenting him with more work on my behalf. Especially since I know we probably won't be able to afford the repairs ourselves, and that my dad will have to sort it out for us. I hope my little car is ok and that the 'engine malfunction indicator' light has just come on by accident, or is nothing too serious.

I still feel like I'm in a bit of a daze without Calla here. I kinda lost track of this week and I can't believe it's Saturday tomorrow already. We'd made loose plans to go up and visit my family on Sunday if Calla was here, so I guess we could stick to that at least, as it ties in well with getting my car seen to. I want to go to Bluewater while we're there (it's like 15mins from their house) and start my search for a new pair of boots. My last pair finally gave up the ghost after 9 years and I haven't found a replacement yet. I was trying to explain to Bobby why I find it so hard to choose a new pair. Basically, if we were millionaires I would have multiple pairs of boots to go with every different outfit. But we're not, and so the pair of boots I choose has to be versatile enough to match different outfits and occasions. I am asking a lot out of one pair of boots, particularly as I have stupid chicken legs (read: really skinny) and need a pair that will fit my calves and not make me look like I'm wearing wellies. I don't want a high heel, I don't want chunky heels, not too rounded in the toe, proper knee length, preferably with some sort of buckle/strap option and of course a zip not lace-up. I failed my search last year and spent last winter without a pair of boots, which is not something I wish to repeat. Bootmakers - don't let me down again!

Thursday, 19 November 2009


My birthday was fun, I ate a lot of Indian food and caterpillar cake (thank you Marks and Spencer!), and generally just enjoyed life. I made a flying visit to London, stayed at my Mum and Dad's for the night, and came home to get on with prepping our house for the imminent arrival of our Canadian visitor. Unfortunately she fell sick and couldn't come. So gutted! Obviously we're so upset that she couldn't come but how awful for her to be too sick to travel - hoping she feels better soon. I know we will get to see each other again soon! Last time we were meant to see each other, we had flights booked to Canada and then I fell pregnant with Pearl. By the time we would've been due to fly, I was so far along and was on the cusp of requiring a doctor's note, and I had been super sick while pregnant so didn't know if we'd even get it. Also, because of the aforementioned pregnancy, money was tight. So we had to come to the very grown-up decision that it was better to just say goodbye to some of the flight money, rather than have to spend even more while out there. Anyway. It would appear that some strange karma has come between our paths again, but I know we will meet again some day. She's my Canadian soul mate. If you read this Calla - we love you and hope you are feeling better.

Without our special guest, this week it's just business as usual here. Every day so far while Pearl has napped, I've been cracking on with ironing. Today I decided that 'Murder She Wrote' was calling me, and so I've sat down with this mini laptop and put my feet up for a while. I'm going to look up some more recipes for the spare bananas we've got in the kitchen. I've started intentionally buying too many bananas so that we'll have enough left to use in baking. This morning we made another banana loaf, but I'm thinking something involving peanut butter would be good this afternoon. I love cake!

Thursday, 12 November 2009


It's my birthday tomorrow. We're not doing anything in particular to celebrate, as far as I'm aware. Pearl has only started recently accepting any sort of evening routine (previously it was ever-changing in terms of time and structure - her choice, not ours). That routine culminates in laying down with me to go to sleep. I just don't feel it's fair at this point to try and force her to go to sleep for somebody else when she's not ready. If she hadn't been all super disrupted with sleep the past few weeks I probably would've considered trying it. Not at the moment tho.

It's not a special number birthday, it's only plain ol' 26. I'm not excited about it. I mean, I'm not one of those birthday hater types, but it is just another day really. I'm just gonna go about it like I would any other Friday, except for I know that Bobby has bought me an awesome present. I know what my present is and I spoiled it for myself, but I don't regret it because it's fucking rad! Plus it's only a day early, so whatever.

Basically, we're not exactly swimming in buckets of cash, like most people really. So for Bobby's birthday we decided that instead of spending money on a present that he would like, but not necessarily get lots of use from, he'd choose a new pair of boots. Practical and exciting, I know. But he was more than happy to do it (it was his idea in fact), and I did wonder whether we'd do the same thing for my birthday. However, Bobby said he wanted to get me a specific present, and it's not that I don't believe he'll get me great presents: he always does. I just didn't want to feel like we were being frivolous. This feels dumb to type so I'll cut to the chase. He got me Lips, that amazing XBox equivalent of Singstar. I love Karaoke, I love singing and this is actually my idea of heaven! He brought it home this evening and I wanted to test it out right away, but I've gotta wait till the morning because Pearl is asleep. I think she'll love it too because she already sings into the microphone on her toy piano, and music (as they say on Yo Gabba Gabba) is AWESOME!

So therefore, I am now excited about my birthday because I get to wake up and play Lips while I eat breakfast. Amaaaaaaazing!

Anyway. Time to go watch that Seth McFarlane almost live thingy, I'm half watching it while typing but it deserves my full attention because so far it's been hilarious. See you on the other side of my half century of life!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


I've been meaning to do this but never quite get around to it. I'm going to put it here so I have a proper hard copy for future reference. At 15 months, Pearl can say the following words:

Dada (Dad)
Dog (doorg)
Duck, and quack, these are interchangeable and have the same meaning
Grandad (ghan-dah)
Grandma (ghan-mah, or an-mah)
Frank (ank, or rang)
Apple (Pah, bah or praah)
Banana (narn)
Up (UH! UH! UH! UH! UH! UHUHUH! etc)
Down (dah)
Shoes (Soo, or oos)
Yes - comes out as yeh, or sometimes yep.
Bath (bah)
Please (klees, or clhease)
Thanks (sanks)
Mickey (Kaka, this is also used for Minnie Mouse)
Sling (clhin)
Bread (rehd)
Milk (Gilkh)
Butter (bahr)
Flour / flower (Flaahr)
Toast (Toosh)
Cake (Cack! Cack!) (For rice cakes as well as proper cakes)
Sausages (Sssssoooooos)
Drink (glink)
Igglepiggle (guh)
Upsydaisy (day)
Crisps (clisp)
Phone (ohhhn/ohw)
Spoon (boon)
Fork (orc)
Hot (oht, or a noise made by breathing in quickly, like 'ooh ooh', so she knows it'd hurt)
Chocolate (cockluch)
Biscuit (isk, eeskee)
Fish (shhhhhh)

Words she's only said a few times but she's still said 'em:

Moomoo (her cousin's nickname)
Fiona (Nona)
Dylan (Deegh, or din)
Keke cat

If she sees food she likes, she'll say 'mmm nom nom!'.

She makes the noise of a the following animals if she sees them either in book, on tv, or as a toy:
cow (moo), pig (a very cute snorting noise), sheep (haah haah haaaah) (yes, literally that noise!), snake (sssss), cockerel (a very high pitched COCK!), dog (oof). Any sort of lion/tiger/dinosaur/monster all get the same 'roooooarghhghgghghggggggggrrrrrrr' sort of noise. She does a fab tractor noise too, its all brrrrrruuuuumgrrrrrrmmmmmhhhh and amazingly cute.

She can sign the following:
Nappy change

She tries out new words what feels like every minute of every day, I'm sure I've forgotten some for this list, but I needed to write it down before I forget. She's growing up so bloody fast!

Today is an oatmeal day

Pearl did not sleep last night. Well, she did sleep but it was incredibly fractured and interrupted by bursts of crying and lots of writhing around and having milk and coughing and more crying and strange whimpering and it just went on and on and on. Usually if we have a night like that, I try to keep the following day fairly laid back. I usually try to keep the following day laid back because if she's tired and I'm tired, we're both grumpy and irritable and I thought that it worked best if we didn't have any pressing arrangements to attend to. Today was the exception to that, and much to my surprise it actually works far better if we just keep on keeping on. First thing this morning was all tense and there was lots of whining over breakfast, so I decided that we needed to get out of the house, so we left bright and early to go to our Tuesday morning toddler group. I wore Pearl in the Moby Wrap there and back. It's our sling of choice, we've tried others along the way but this has been our true lifesaver, I have no idea how I would have coped without it. I feel like that closeness helped us both to get out of our cranky-tired moods. It's like wearing her resets our relationship, cancels out any bad mood vibes and it honestly calms me right down.

She ran around like a crazy little imp at toddler group, climbing everything and exploring and playing alongside her friends (occasionally getting walloped by another child, or pushing somebody else over if they dared to get on the slide before her!). On the way back she fell asleep. I stopped off in the mini Tesco to get some bits for lunch and dinner, she stayed asleep. When we got home I put away most of the bits, then decided to screw the housework and just take advantage of my sleeping babe, so I sat down and watched some daytime TV. I got to sit down for almost 2 whole hours! In total she slept for 2 and a half hours. Pearl hardly ever sleeps for that long at a time, even at night, so it was a real treat for her and me. She woke up super refreshed and I felt like I was more ready to continue auditioning for the role of 'world's best mummy'. We ate lunch and then set about doing some errands. Usually on a Tuesday afternoon I do a cleaning job, but I ended up only being able to do half of it because our quick errands turned into getting caught up in queues in the Town Hall and subsequently in the bank.

We came back and I prepared and roasted vegetables as quickly as our puny little oven would allow. Pearl was getting all antsy and tired and hungry, so I decided we'd make some fruity flapjack while we waited for our dinner. She loves baking! She helped me pour out the oats and measuring the ingredients, and stirring the oil and sugar, and mixing it all together, and lining the baking tin. While I put it in the oven and then boiled some spaghetti to go with the veggies, she decided to sample the delights of cat biscuits, from their bowl on the floor. Apparently they don't taste half bad. They even taste better than roasted squash, which she refused to eat once we finally got to the dining table.

I love how she eats spaghetti, all slurpy and with both hands, shovelling and mouth warped and frantic, and all over the place and then that final satisfied 'smack' as she sucks the last bit into her mouth. We finished dinner, and she found a piece of Cadbury's finger on the floor that she'd discarded after lunch. I asked her if she was tired, and she signed yes, so we put on our nunights winding down music. After we'd read a few of her favourite books, she asked for a massage so I obliged - it is so nice seeing her little face with that blissful smile. I wish I had somebody to give me a full body massage every evening! Quick change into a night-time nappy and pyjamas, she is ready for bed. We wave goodnight to everything on our way to the bedroom: music, toys, sofa, bathroom, cats, kitchen. We gather Mickey and Minnie Mouse and her bedtime duck, lay down on our bed and 20 minutes later she's got a tummy of milk and is absolutely fast asleep. I zip up her sleeping bag and creep out of the room.

I just ate a huge chunk of the flapjack we made and it is damn tasty! It's not just oats, it's got my favourite seeds in it - pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, as well as chopped almonds and dried apricots and cranberries. Sooo gooey and amazingly more-ish. I'm hoping Pearl gets better sleep tonight, not just for my own selfish purposes, but because it can't be nice for her to feel so tired all day long either. Bobby is working late tonight so I'ma go grab the rest of the box of chocolate fingers and our sofa blanket, and watch this programme about why we talk. Tomorrow it all begins again. Although I guess it never really ends!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

I need something

I need something to channel my passion. Now that I've finally figured where my passion lies, I need to use the motivation it gives me, and start using my brain properly again. My passion is breastfeeding and child-centred parenting and basically anything that involves using your instinct and being led by mother nature to nurture and raise your child.

I've done the La Leche League breastfeeding peer supporter training (a 12 week course) and instead of fulfilling my need to learn, it just fuelled the fire in my brain. I want knowledge, I want to help other parents, I want to spread the word about how your baby knows best, about how truly wonderful it feels to wear your baby in a sling or wrap, about the miracle of clearing a baby's blocked nose with one squirt of breastmilk. I want parents to never have to feel the mental anguish of listening to your child crying: going against your natural instinct to follow "advice" from health professionals who are themselves following "advice" that stems from some seriously antiquated practices. It scares me how prolific these practices still are in this day and age. How low the breastfeeding rates are in this country (in fact, how low they are in so many first world countries around the world), how fervently people defend their right to feed their child a subpar alternative to breastmilk. How blase people have become about breastfeeding - I hear too many pregnant women say that they hope they'll be able to breastfeed. What on earth do you think your breasts are there for?! Only around 2% of women have a true medical reason for being unable to breastfeed. The rest of you: that's choice. I suppose it's all so closely woven with people's need to work, (which btw, it is still perfectly possible to breastfeed even if the mother has to return to full time work, it just takes a little more effort), or just to continue living their life as they were accustomed before baby came along. People have busy lives and they are heavily scheduled, this just doesn't work with a new baby. You have to let go! There are huge misconceptions that people still have about what a newborn baby needs, about how foreign independence should be to any human that young and yet it seems to be what parents strive for. How warped our perception of what a "good" baby is. How formula companies infiltrated our healthcare systems and that they are still allowed to advertise... all this confuses and upsets me and infuriates me in equal measure.

I could type and type and type and still probably not write down every topic that peaks my interest in this area. I hate that I may come across as judgemental: this isn't my aim at all. People make decisions that they believe to be in their (and their baby's) best interests: obviously, this I don't doubt. What I doubt is the generations of poor practice and misinformation that has filtered down to make some strange stuff the norm. Just because something is popular doesn't make it right. To steal a quote from elsewhere: never confuse prominence with significance. I think I get frustrated with how easily people are led. Well, it's not even that they're led, it's just that they only see one path and it's easy just to keep on trucking, I guess. Use your brain!

"Breast is best" isn't just some anti-formula campaign: it's the truth! It is what mother nature intended you too nourish your infant with, it is the way we are designed. I see smart people choosing to let their milk dry up (or in some cases, never even let their baby suckle to stimulate milk production) so that they may get back to their "normal" lives asap. Dude, you had a fucking baby: your life will NEVER be the same. How about putting them first? They are only going to be this tiny once. I guess what gets me is that perhaps I feel like it devalues all the hard work I put in parenting Pearl. (I'm not so pigheaded that I can't see my own character flaws.) Breastfeeding wasn't always easy for me! It was hard, sometimes when she would have woken for the 19th time in one night, when I'd been sitting up feeding her for what felt like hours (and sometimes it was hours), when my nipples were sore, through engorgement, through growth spurts (oh the torture!), when I'd see my husband sleeping soundly next to me. I worried endlessly about whether she was getting enough milk, about whether my letdown was too forceful, about whether she had wind or was sensitive to something I'd eaten. I pondered over whether she would be sleeping better if I just gave her a bottle. I wondered (and still do) whether I will ever know what it feels like to have a full night's sleep again. But as with everything, this too shall pass. And I fucking ploughed on through every little hiccup, I did what I had to because Pearl comes first. And because I like using my brain, while I was pregnant I spent many hours reading all about how amazing breastmilk is. Like, literally amazing. Seriously. So if I ever got any doubts about what the heck I was doing, I just needed to visit the filing cabinet in my head, and pull out some facts about what my breastmilk was doing for Pearl physically (and what feeding her was doing for our attachment) and I'd put any crazy thoughts I had aside.

Of course there are legitimate reasons why people can't breastfeed, I am not denying that for one second. Some women truly have low milk supply. I've met them and it is heartbreaking but not their fault, and thank fuck for breastmilk alternatives in these situations. (Although as an aside, in bygone days when women had low milk supply, their babies would be nursed by a relative or friend who would either re-lactate or was already feeding her own child. This is still widely practiced in many cultures around the world.) There are circumstances in which it would be impossible for the mother to maintain her mental health or any semblance of normality if she were to continue breastfeeding. I salute those mamas who fed for as long as they were able to.

I am not saying formula is poison, as people like to assume I think. But don't tell me that it is just as good as breastmilk because it straight up is not. How can it ever be, for starters it's based around cow's milk (milk made for baby cows!). Breastmilk is a custom made, one time only offer kinda thing. Human milk for human babies! I'm just saying: give yourself a chance to do something amazing.

This stuff just spins around in my head every day, and while I am not so naive as to expect that I can change the world, I'd love to give it a go. Only trouble is, I don't really know where to start. I guess my peer supporting stuff is a good start. I volunteer multiple times a week at breastfeeding drop-ins, and it's lovely to see mums come to us with a breastfeeding obstacle, and help her and her baby get past that and then see them continue coming to the drop-ins to socialise with other like-minded mamas.

Booby power.

Monday, 2 November 2009


I don't feel that the British really 'get' how to celebrate Halloween. Having spent a Halloween in NYC (the year before the 9/11 incidents), and having experienced how truly wonderful and awe-inspiring that was, any subsequent non-NYC Halloween was of course going to pale in comparison. The Halloween in question was spent with my Aunt and Uncle and my two gorgeous cousins, we took them trick or treating and on a Halloween parade, and on some sort of Halloween version of an Easter Egg hunt. Everybody seemed to get into the spirit of it (aka, have fun!) and it was just an all round good feeling kinda affair.

I guess maybe it was more memorable because I was watching my young cousins enjoying all the amazing Halloween events. When I was younger, me and my brothers and sister would sometimes dress up for Halloween. I remember going to a couple of themed parties, one with my Brownie pack. My Dad would take us trick-or-treating but usually only to the few neighbours that we knew, and in the car round to my Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents who lived nearby. I remember (and have since seen photo evidence of) my parents going in fantastic fancy dress to parties. But none of this really comes close to what I experienced in NYC that year.

Anyway, last year I put Pearl in a cute pumpkin outfit that one of my Mum's friends had bought her. (She'd also bought one for my niece, so they were super cute and matching for the day). It didn't really matter too much last year as she was only 4 months old, and still in the "I'm just going to lay here and wriggle and burp and pull faces" phase. I didn't want to buy Pearl a costume this year; not just for lack of money, but also because they mostly fucking sucked. Plus, at this age it is only something that would last her one Halloween, therefore one days' worth of wear. No, no and no. So I decided to go with something that I could make from things we had at home. Nothing that required a sewing machine (too little time, not enough skills). Nothing too elaborate (she struggles to keep socks on, never mind some ott costume). I settled on a pirate! We have got an awesome red and white bandana that used to belong to Bobby's Grandfather: which incidentally he wore as part of a sailor costume many years ago. I decided that a bandana would be do-able, since she sometimes likes to wear one when I do. She's got lots of navy and white striped clothes. We bought an eye patch to sit on her head and clip on earring in a Poundland shop. I cut up some old blue pyjama trousers of Bobby's to make a sash to go round her waist. The piece de resistance was a stuffed toy parrot that I pinned to her shoulder, although that only lasted all of 20seconds before she was frantically trying to rip it off her t-shirt!

All in all her costume was a success, and we even went to visit our friends to share some Halloween fun together. We ate delicious home baked pumpkin based treats - pumpkin and chocolate brownies, and pumpkin oatmeal and raising cookies. Pearl played with her friend, who was dressed as a verrrrry cute witch. Then we went to Grandma's house to show off the costume, and that was as far as it lasted. She ripped the bandana and eye patch combo off her head, signed to me that it was finished and then went about the rest of her day. I think that while I still feel that Halloween in the UK doesn't have the same feel as in the US, maybe with Pearl around we can make it awesome in our own way. Can't wait till next year and she'll be old enough to do some proper fun activities together.

We did manage to get some lovely photographs before she de-costumed, I must remember to ask my MIL for a copy of them soon. Maybe one day I might have the time to use our proper computer with a harddrive (the one I use to browse the net in the evenings doesn't have one) and maybe one day I will actually post photos with my blog. Sooooooon.