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Saturday night at the movies

Well actually it’s a Friday night and the film is watched at home…

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I am one of those people who can never decide if I like routine in life or if that gets too dull and I need to mix it up a bit. So, I have come to the conclusion that having a few traditions is nice but too many makes life feel prescribed. The beauty of having Lu is that I can now start to invent lovely new family traditions for her and me, probably a reaction to my somewhat flux filled childhood, but whatever the reason one of the things that Lu and I do together is our Friday Film Night.  She chooses the film, but to avoid having to watch the same Barbie film each week I usually preempt it by ordering a film from Amazon that I can bear to watch happily. This means that I can revisit some of my childhood favorites. Recent screenings have included- Labyrinth (when Bowie died), Pinnochio – which neither of us liked, Despicable Me 2 – again, The Secret Life of Pets, Finding Dory, Top Dog – a dreadful American childrens film about a sausage dog race which I may be forced to ‘lose’ lest she makes me watch it again. There has also been a variety of Barbie films (I bought a box set, I know!) which aren’t that bad really. My GP told me that Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses was her favorite (most bearable) when her kids were little, I love my doctor.

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I  make popcorn (in the microwave, I’m not that good) and I order those cardboard cinema popcorn boxes online so we have the whole experience but before the popcorn Lu and I have a bubble bath together, get into our pyjamas, light some candles and light the open fire if it is chilly. Then have a little carpet picnic made up of all the things she has requested that I buy from M&S on the way home from work. Usually hummus, carrots, chorizo slices, cherry tomatoes and crisps. As Friday is also Lulu’s Sweetie day (mean mummy, sweets only on the weekend) we usually end up with Percy Pigs too. It is the best time, I relish it, and she is always so excited about Fridays because of it.

If I am having a bad day illness wise and am just too tired and overwhelmed we get into my lovely super king size bed and watch the film on my TV or the IPad, and have our little picnic there. No damn illness is going to spoil my time with my baby.

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A slight caveat; Lulu now does Beavers on a Friday night from 6-7.15pm so we have a Saturday or Sunday Movie Night instead. But never fear, she still gets her sweets on a Friday.

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Sometimes I let my mum join in…

This is it, this time I know it’s the real thing

No, this isnt about love, its about something far more important. My PhD. I wrote a little while ago about having to give it up after many years of planning and one short term at uni. At the beginning of this year my Supervisor sat me down and did some honest talking – my favourite kind. I really wasn’t well enough to get all the required work done and was already behind – arghhh, so she said “Take some time off, get better, come back and start again.” So I listened to her. I wept a bit, but I completely agreed. In fact I was so distraught that I went for a run – I know!!!! Clearly I was out of my mind with sadness and confusuion..

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Just wanted to post cute pics of my puppy

The idea was always to start again this September but I must be honest and say that there have been many times when I felt that it would be impossible, that I wasn’t really improving very much health wise and that I would never be able to do it. I want to be realistic and I feel a little pressurised, all self inflicted. If I started again in September and it doesn’t work out and I have to give up again it will be the absolute end, I just won’t be able to muster the energy to contemplate a third attempt.

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Sleepy puppy

But I am feeling a little improved and being realistic this may be the best I ever get health wise, it could get worse or better but I can only deal with the here and now. So I had a chat with my liver Consultant, who I have been seeing for may years, and he said “just do it, it will be fine”, so I emailed my Supervisor last week and said “please have me back” and she said “of course”.

I have no idea what will happen between  now and September but at the moment I am feeling really really excited about going back to uni. Of course I shall still be working full time, I am still a single mum but that is all fine with me, I’ve taken those things into account, it will be hard, it would be for a completely well and able person, but I am ready. Now, if only I hadn’t spent all my refunded fees money on clothes and expensive candles to cheer myself up!

Ps The images of Livia. my mini sausage, has nothing to do with the content of this post but who doesn’t love a cute puppy picture?

Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?

As a lawyer I am very familiar with the ‘clean break’ theory that is trotted out when discussing divorce but obviously when one had children, providing all is well with both parties, then this is just not possible, financially or personally.

So where does that leave the grown ups? In general, and as far as can be expected, my relationship with my ex husband regarding Lucia is pretty much based on reading from the same hymn sheet. However since she lives with me and he moved an hour and half away there are some decisions that I make for Lu that aren’t going to go in his favor but realistically someone will inevitably lose in situations like this on occasion.

I have no interest whatsoever in my husbands life, beyond his relationship with Lucia. Of course his health is important to me as he needs to be able to look after Lu but we aren’t friends, it isn’t how he wants the relationship to work despite my suggestions and that is fine – kind of. Being honest, I still find it odd that he can walk out on me after 14 years and feel ok about throwing all that history and shared experiences away, but each to their own.

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A few weeks after my ex husband left

But (isn’t there always a but?) recently my ex husband’s girlfriend of 4 years broke up with him. This was further complicated by the fact that he lived with her and her two young children. This of course had a knock on effect on Lulu which of course had a knock on effect on me. When did life get so complicated? That my ex husband’s break up should effect me in any way is ridiculous but of course Lulu was very upset as her dad was moving out of the house she stayed in with him, his home. Also the fact that she wasn’t going to see her dad’s girlfriend’s children anymore all added to making her feel very unsettled and I was left picking up the pieces. Through gritted teeth mind, muttering “for fucks sake hasn’t this six year old had enough disruption?” grrrrr. Next came Lucia’s expectation that now her father was single he would be moving back in with us. She was utterly heartbroken when I explained that wasn’t going to be happening as that wasn’t what her father wanted. Lucia’s distress and the tears she cried while I cuddled her broke my own heart all over again. It truly feels so bloody unfair.

 

Everywhere I am there you’ll be

I had an awful dream this week. I was about four months pregnant and my waters broke and I knew that I would lose the baby but I went about my everyday life. Not able to accept the inevitable but being so so sad as I knew it was hopeless and the loss felt overwhelming. I thought if I can keep the baby inside me everything will be okay and none of this is real.

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Didn’t think she would make it through the night, day 5 after she was born

And the reason this was so realistic and horrible is because I had lost a number of babies before I was luckily enough to have my daughter, Lucia. With each of those pregnancies I got a little further along before the sonographer said ‘I’m really sorry I can’t find a heart beat’. When I was pregnant with Lucia my waters broke at 28 weeks and while I thought ‘oh, how lovely we will be able to take our baby home later today, earlier than planed but hey ho’, Not able to accept that really it was unlikely she would live and really I thought that this was just another pregnancy that was a little further along than the others and that realistically I would probably have another number of miscarriages before we actually managed to carry a baby to full term, ridiculous huh?.  As if that is how it works, that you get a bit further along each time you are pregnant until you hit the magic 40 week mark. But my 28 weeker did live, nine week in intensive care and then we could take her home,

With miscarriages, or in my experience anyway, once you are told your baby no longer has a heart beat you can wait for ‘nature to take its course’ and expel the baby or you can have an operation to have it removed. They do these ops on specific days of the week so you carry your dead baby inside you for at least a few days. These are only really options with early miscarriages. I know this sounds disturbing to some but to me I wanted to keep my baby inside me as long as possible, keeping it safe. I didn’t drink during my pregnancies but when I knew the babies had died I could have a drink if I wanted but the act of swallowing that first sip of wine felt so final, that when I took that sip it was acknowledging that the baby I was carrying was dead.

And then this week, a few days after my dream, a Facebook memory popped up of me at a cousin’s wedding a few years ago (see main picture). It was a few days after I had found out I was pregnant with my first baby and I was so thrilled. Little did I know that a few weeks later I would be in A&E bleeding and then a few weeks later being told ‘I’m really sorry…’.

Maybe subconsciously I had remembered that this time of year is the anniversary of my first pregnancy, I don’t know, but it made me feel sad. I always feel sad when I think of my lost babies, it make me weep, that never changes. The passage of time has enabled me to be able to not wake up crying even morning, to not cry every time I see a new born baby in the street, but the intensity of the pain in my broken heart doesn’t change however it no longer stops me in my tracks.

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The day Lucia came home after 9 weeks in intensive care

I wholeheartedly believe that having Lucia has helped me deal with my grief hugely. I am grateful every day that I am lucky enough to have her, she isn’t a replacement for my lost babies, but for me I knew that the only thing that would help me after losing my babies was to have a baby in my arms. This isn’t the same for all people, I know this. I wanted to try and get pregnant again as soon as I had physically recovered from the operations but my ex husband was reticent, he thought I needed to psychologically recover first but I was desperate, I wanted/needed a baby. Getting pregnant was never a problem, usually happened with in the first two months of trying. Keeping them alive inside me was the problem. I found great comfort in the people and forums on social media I encountered who were going through  the same thing. Whenever someone got pregnant you wished them luck and hoped that they had a #stickybean.

So, am I feeling nostalgic as a friend has commented? yes, I think I am, but not in a ‘wasn’t that a wonderful time, if I only I could relive it’, but in a ‘goodness wasn’t that a painful time in my life, and my, it still hurts now.’ I will be mindful of my self, look for signs that I am getting depressed and address them should they appear. But right now I am just a little wistful, wondering what the babies would have looked like, missing them and grieving them still, as I shall always do.

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Now its just Lulu and me, her daddy left when she was two. She is my hope, my reason and my love. xxx

Starfish and coffee Maple syrup and jam

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It’s a 2 coffee kinda morning

Last week I posted a photo of two mugs of coffee I had on the train to work which I captioned “Its a 2 coffee kinda morning” and I got a comment from a friend of mine, Helen, a super solicitor, we worked at the same law firm in London. She suggested the unthinkable ‘Have you thought of giving up coffee?’ as she had done so a few years ago and felt much better for it. She did acknowledge that it may be a step too far for me! Wise woman.

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I wish I could remember where this was??

But I did give it some thought. I know it has caffeine in and is generally believed to be not very good for you to have too much but I just can’t think of not having it. I don’t just down coffee for its energy giving benefits, I genuinely love it. I look forward to having my first cup everyday with great excitement (maybe I need to get out more?). I tweet with some lovely coffee aficionados such as @BrianCoffeeSpot and when I go on holiday I always research the local coffee shops in order to find the good ones and make a point of trying them out. Also, since I no longer drink alcohol, meeting for a coffee is a treat and a lovely way to conduct my social life. I realize that one could order a different drink and on the days that I am feeling a bit coffeed out I have Earl Grey tea. Mainly because I am so ridiculously fussy about the tea I drink. It is aways Yorkshire Gold, milk and two sugars and I never let anyone else make it for me. But Earl Grey is okay when out and about. I despise the taste of green tea and oddly enough fresh mint tea gives me a tummy ache.

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A very cute place in NYC

My ridiculous plethora of illness and diseases have meant that I have had to give up a lot of the things that I enjoyed. I gave up smoking ten years ago in preparation for getting pregnant and I gave up drinking three years ago as even one glass of wine would give me a hangover. Not something on wants when single-handedly dealing with a six-year-old. I was diagnosed with coeliacs disease 20 years ago, so am entirely gluten free. Considering the fact brunch and afternoon tea are my two most favourite meals of the whole day and that they are predominately gluten based feasts. I moderate my intake of the nightshade family; tomatoes, aubergine and potatoes as it exacerbates my arthritis, as does orange juice. I don’t eat take aways or pre prepared food. I cook from scratch because I can and I enjoy it. So taking all of these things in to account as well as the absolute pleasure I derive from each mouthful of coffee I think I shall continue to worship at the altar of caffeine a while longer.

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Pat Val, an old fav

P.S. Prince – Your purple reign shall never end in my heart xxx

And I know its gonna be A lovely day

Mornings are my nemesis, always have been. I am a night owl through and through, from writing uni essays at 1am, to all the years I spent working in the club industry and the long night shifts as a criminal defense solicitor attending police stations to see clients. I long to be up and at ’em at 5am, doing my sun salutations and journalling or whatever I would do with all the extra time, maybe taking over the world. Though of course I would be so exhausted by 12noon that I would need a lie down but that sort of stuff is frowned upon at my work place. My mum, on the other hand, literally wakes up singing, it irritates me beyond belief. The mornings are for the radio, coffee and NO talking.

I have read lots of blog posts about how to have a better morning, which in turn leads to a better day, and I have really tried to implement the things that I think would work for me and my lifestyle – single mum, chronic illness, commute to London, full time job.  I read a very amusing post recently titled how to get up when your alarm goes off and not hit the snooze button, I scrolled down and it literally said – alarm goes off, you get up, done! Made me laugh. None of this setting your alarm an hour earlier than necessary to facilitate the endless snooze button pressing. My uni friend Caroline reminded me recently that I used to have to put my alarm clock on the other side of my room as when it was next to my bed I had been known to turn it off in the fog of tiredness and go straight back to sleep missing my lectures.  So I have started just not pressing the snooze button, believe me I want to but compared to the anxiety of rushing around fearing being later for work, resisting the urge is worth it.

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I make sure my coffee machine is good to go the night before, fill it with water, clean the milk frother out, who wants to be scrabbling around washing up at 5.30am before your first cup of coffee? And that even if the kitchen is a bomb site then I have at least one cup available. I also make sure that any containers I need for lunch are clean. This next one is for those of us who take loads of meds, or who takes loads of supplements. Instead of popping out the 26 tablets I take each morning and risk making a mistake or missing some, I prepare a dosset box every Saturday morning that lasts 7 days. Basically I have two boxes, split into seven compartments and labelled Saturday to Friday and I fill each one with the days tablets so in the morning I just flip open the relevant day lid and into my mouth goes my pills.

I usually have a big glass of green juice first thing as food makes me feel nauseous. A green apple, 1/3 cucumber, small head broccoli, half thumb fresh ginger, half peeled lemon, half head fennel, 2 sticks celery. But I am lazy and have no intention of peeling, cutting etc first thing so I make up portioned bags of the veg three days at a time so I just grab a bag out of fridge, shove it into juicer and bang, breakfast.

I have also spent many a morning searching for my f***ing keys, as I fondly refer to them. So, as simple as it sounds, I now leave them in a bowl on my dining room bookcase, it is their home. As soon as I walk in the door there they go to rest until I need them in the morning.

See, nothing earth shattering, nothing new, but things that mean I don’t start my day in a right grump. So even if the rest of the day is not a super success, after all I can’t control everything, then at least I know my morning started as well as it could have.

While we devotin’ Full time to floatin’ Under the sea

When Lulu’s dad first left she was still at nursery so he would often take her out for a day to spend time with her (without the fear of a fine) and on those days he would often take her swimming. She was a real water baby, and still is, hence her love of all things mermaid I think. Ariel is her favourite princess of them all, this may also be to do with   the fact that she also has red hair just like Lulu. Anyway, as she got older it was time for her to have formal lessons. Especially as we holiday by the sea in Suffolk each summer, for both safety reasons and to be able to have a full appreciation of the gorgeous sea that surrounds us. So she started lessons at a local pool last year. As a side issue, as you know I am always hot and sweaty but oh my goodness, how hot are childrens pools? Sitting and watching in shorts and a t shirt in the height of winter still doesn’t keep me cool. I am also most cross that I haven’t lost at least a stone from all the sweating.

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Lulu, like most children her age, is a little obsessed with YouTube, and it was while browsing that she came across the mermaid tail swim suit. It is literally a tail, that fits from the tummy down and covers your feet like a sleeve, and you can swim around in the pool with it. It looks fantastic but Lu isn’t a strong enough swimmer yet to merit one. Instead, at Christmas I gave her a gorgeous mermaid tail blanket which I adore but didn’t quite cut the mustard for her. I often find using her pyjama legs as as tail, by shoving both her legs in to one pj leg, like a very tight tube skirt – remember those? I have therfore had my eye out for a mermaid type tail she can actually try out and use in the sea and so when the lovely Leanne at Simply Swim did a shout out for those with children having swimming lessons to try out some of their range I shoved my arm straight in air and starting shouting ‘pick me, pick me, pick me’. And you know what? She did!!!

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She asked to go me to the website and choose some things with Lulu and there it was the holy grail of swimming, THE most perfect pink mermaid tail by Finis, practical and oh so pretty. Into the basket it went immediately, it also comes in blue. To be perfectly honest beyond the obvious joy of the tail, Leanne appeared at a very fortuitous time as all of Lulu’s swimming class friends have googles but she doesn’t, so into the basket went  a beautiful pink pair by Aqua Sphere (currently on sale!), there were lots of pink ones to choose from. It was a hard choice for Lulu. And she needed a new swim suit – I think she is having a growth spurt. Unsurprisingly all the items Lu chose were pink. A super pair of swim shoes by Speedo (also on sale), so useful for our summer hols as the beach we go to in Walberwick is predominately stones. A good old fashioned kick board by Speedo, so she can practice her kicking, a lovely long foam pole, a Zoodle by Zoggs, which I have my eye on for tucking under my arms and floating on my back in the lovely sea but for Lu it can again help with her kicking, on her back or on her tummy. It’s just like the ones they use at her swimming classes.

The swimsuit has been a big hit, she has taken to wearing it in the bath. It is the prettiest  pink with blue shiny metallic hearts on and bright green edging. It also has some extra straps on the back which Lulu and her friends seem to think is the height of sophistication. Finally, she chose a very very pink water bottle by Funkita which she now insists I carry around in my bag for her at all times. I am secretly hoping to sneak it off her at some point as I am rather fond of it. Did I mention that pink is my favourer colour too?

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All the products were true to size and she loves each and everyone, how on earth am I going to get all of them, plus Barbie’s essentials, and the suitcases into my car for the summer hols I do not know.

PS I have tiny feet so I have tried the mermaid tail on which fits (very Cinderella) and I cannot wait for our holiday, I may be more excited than Lulu.

A massive thank you to Leanne and Simply Swim for letting us have such fun with your lovely products.

All opinions are obviously my own.