Thursday, 29 April 2010

Breaking the Bank

I spent yesterday in Richmond with a good friend who is also on maternity leave. We ate a leisurely lunch by the river and walked along sun-kissed Richmond Green. We chatted with our children and each other. The day felt complete.

I have not always felt that completeness, that contentedness for want of searching for my career calling. It’s a journey I’m still taking but am now more comfortable with. As a new mother, I’m acutely conscious that I must lead by example for LLC. I want to show her where there is a will, there is a way.


Like the Richmond riverboats before me
I bob on a sea of contentment
I don’t know what I want to be
When I grow up
But this moment is enough

It wasn’t always this way.

The writing was on the wall
From the job’s location
A high rise building so brimming with stress
It could burst at any moment

Attracted by an academic challenge
To take on what I knew not
I ascended my high rise
And reconciled the spreadsheet
Of my days

Little interpersonal contact
Processing, processing, processing
I ate late night jelly
Courted by domestic illusion
Until I took a taxi back to my own bed

A caged animal
Angry, Angry, Angry
If only I hadn’t been caught
Lugubrious and cynical
I became what I am not

I took a wrong turn
I had to escape
To break free
From the numbers
From my bonus

My head shot above water and I panted for breath.

My career is not set in stone
I saw this as a hindrance
But now see this as an opportunity
To pick up my anchor and set sail
With my aspiration & life’s opportunities


This post was inspired by Sleep is for the Weak’s Writing Workshop, prompt 1: What life path did you take a few steps down only to realise it wasn’t for you and come running back?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

CyberMummy Here I Come

I didn't understand the massive scope of the blogosphere when I began blogging.  I naively didn't recognize the force that is the parent blogging community on both sides of the Atlantic.

This was probably a good thing to start, as it allowed me to actually start writing and blogging rather than spend hours delving into other blog content.  I re-discovered my writing and established a blogging rhythm of some sort.  And then I stepped off the deep end into the blogosphere.  It's been a thought provoking and inspiring leap. 

The 2010 CyberMummy Conference is a testament to the UK parent blogging tribe that I now mix with.  It's an opportunity to talk blogging, exchange tips with and meet the characters behind my Google Reader.  I really wanted to attend yet at £100.00/ticket the price was a bit steep for my maternity leave budget.  

You can thus imagine my excitement when Huggies contacted me out of the blue and offered to sponsor my pace at CyberMummy.  I've graciously accepted and look forward to this eye and mind opening event.  Thank you Huggies.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A Day at the Races

A day at the races, or better said, The Race - The 2010 London Marathon.  Bursting with inspirational runners and emotional crowds, this grand race yet again rallied London with a magnetism like no other and proved an exciting day out for LLC and me.  

Two short years ago I finally pulled my finger out and completed the London Marathon after years of running regularly.  In fact, my marathon mission partially contributed to my starting this blog.  It was a real achievement for me and an electric experience but alas, I'm not one of those who "catches the marathon bug" after one under my belt.

This year was Chris' turn.  He's a strong runner with a healthy pace even when he doesn't run regularly; he's gotten into triathlons over the last couple of years; his fitness level is generally pretty good.  Yet I still thought he was slightly nuts to commit to training for a marathon during our early days with LLC.

He needed the support of his girls on the day.  So we bundled LLC into her carrier and she and I took to the course.  We met a lovely Scottish fellow cheering on his wife near the start but unfortunately missed Chris in the initial mad dash.  We then hightailed it over to the Cutty Sark where we cheered on many a runner but again never spotted Chris.  I fed her and we next took the train to Charing Cross and scouted out a ideal viewpoint on Victoria Embankment to "cheer daddy home."  I felt like I had just run a marathon.  My shoulders ached.  Yet I told LLC that we'd definitely catch daddy from this perfect position on the home stretch.

It was about that time that LLC conked out.  She'd been very alert throughout the day but no doubt had her fill of sensory overload.  She slept peacefully through the commotion and the heat of the growing crowd at our back until - bam! - she awoke with an almighty start and went into meltdown.  We were pinned in by people.  And I expected Chris any time in the next half hour or so if he was to achieve his sub-four hour goal.  (Yes, he sets his sights high).  I tried bouncing, ssshhing and stripping a layer off LLC, all to no avail.  The pensioner to my left's stare screamed judgement to the likes of  "Why do you have such a young baby in the heat of this marathon commotion?"

So I pulled out the final trump card in my bag of tricks - my breast.  Down I squatted behind the barrier, out of the carrier and into my arms came LLC, into my jacket I adjusted my top and presto - silent, happy, feeding baby!  Muslin in place, up I popped, back in the game, eyes searching for Chris.

We waited.  And waited.  And I began getting nervous Chris would not make his sub-four hour goal.   

Then my phone rang.  It was Chris.  He was finished.  Somehow we missed him.  Well, not somehow really... from his finish time we worked out that he must have run by just as I was squatting behind the barrier getting my boob out.  

But nevermind.  We supported him in spirit and he triumphed with a finish time of 3 hours 36 minutes.  LLC could not have been prouder of her dad, or of her Uncle Tom who also came home in under 4 hours, as you can see from these photos.  She could not wait to get the weight of gold in her hot little hand!

These portraits are for this week's Sticky Fingers Gallery.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Dear Sleepless Smiler....

Kat at 3 Bedroom Bungalow’s Dear So and So Series has tonight inspired me….

Dear Sleepless Smiler,

Why have you decided that 3:30am is the new wake-up time? You used to get up around 7am and mommy much preferred this. I need to care for you all day and I’ll have no energy left to play if I’m up for a good part of the night with you. Frustratingly, you are still so smiley and cute even in the midst of your late night antics but never mind that. Nighttime is for sleep!


Your tired mom


Dear Health Visitor,

No, I’m not going to express milk after every feed in order to further stimulate my milk supply. I do have a life.

LLC’s growth is slow but steady and she’s alert, happy and has plenty of wet nappies. She may be on the second percentile weight line – some baby has to be – and she just happens to be that girl. Please don’t mess with my head and make me think I don’t have enough milk.

Thanks a bunch,

One frustrated milk maiden


Dear Mr & Mrs Misery,

You're new to my road and already have our local neighborhood aloofness down to a tee. When we pass on the road and I attempt to make eye contact and smile, please don’t turn around. I won’t bite and I won’t even hold you up for five minutes chatting. I just want to say hello.

Consider it,


Dear Thermostat,

Seriously, there is no way it’s 21 degrees in this house! Are the lights in the hallway invoking your tom-foolery? Please reflect the actual temperature so Chris will agree to turn on the heating at night.

Your chilly resident,



Dear big woman and small woman chatting outside the elevator after Rhyme Time,

If you don’t call the elevator, it won’t come! Your presence alone is not enough to beckon the lift and you are holding up the entire line of mummies trying to get on with their day. A tad bit of common sense would be appreciated.

Hope not to see you later,

One tired and not amused mommy

Dear Readers,

I’m grateful that this blog has been nominated in a few categories of the MAD Awards. I really enjoy writing it and it's a honor to see that others enjoy the read.  If you also like my style, please cast a vote my way.

Thanks in advance,


How cathartic!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Never a dull moment

Sunday night, 8:30pm. We’re driving back to London after our revitalizing weekend in Bournemouth when Chris begins spluttering what sounds like garbled profanity at the dashboard.

“What’s wrong?!” I demand and explanation for his out of the blue outburst.

“The temperature gauge warning light just came on. The car is overheating.” On cue, the car goes into safety mode, Chris can no longer accelerate and we’re tottering down the left hand motorway lane at 50 miles/hour. Thankfully we make it to the service station just over a mile away.

We make an urgent call to AA. Thankfully LLC sleeps on. The cat (yes, we even have the cat on board) decides to add his protest by pooping in his travel box. The recovery engineer arrives, surmises that our engine’s water level was too low and sends us on our merry way, suggesting we keep an eye on the temperature gauge.

Two minutes back on the motorway, just as I’m calling Chris’ parents to let them know we are back in business, the evil warning light reappears.

Fast forward half an hour and we’re waiting in a lay-by off the M3 for a tow. Chris and Rico stay with the car; Chris’ folks pick up LLC and me and we return with them to Bournemouth. Amazingly, LLC continues sleeping.


Ironically I started my last post: We recently got a new car that we trust on the motorway. This is a smarting reminder that trust must be earned, not assumed. We just bought this car as well. Talk about bad luck and bad timing.

Then again, at least we weren’t stranded halfway around the globe at the mercy of volcanic ash. As I took LLC on a walk along the sea Monday morning, I decided that things could be far worse.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Plans for World Domination

We recently got a new car that we trust on the motorway so this weekend we finally took LLC to grandma and grandad's house in Bournemouth.  We introduced her to the sea, took her to meet her new gal pal best friend IDH (seven weeks her junior), let her stay up past her bed-time for a goodbye to dear friends JBT who are about to emigrate to Oz, treated her to a stunning, still evening walk on the front and took her exploring scenic foliage (and slightly misplaced apartment blocks) with grandma at Compton Acres

You'd think this would be enough to satiate LLC but it seems she now has her sights set on much bigger things, i.e. Earth as we know it.

This photo of "greed" nicely fits the bill for Tara at Sticky Fingers' weekly Gallery, this week's theme being the seven deadly sins.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

"Do you dance?"

Chris and I sometimes gaze at LLC and marvel that we made her. She’s our small wonder, and I almost can’t think about how a completely chance encounter eleven years ago sowed the seed of her fate. So I bring to you, Chris and my first encounter.

She wasn’t dressed for the club. Donning a gray “girls soccer t-shirt,” sneakers and blue jeans, she wasn’t out to impress. But they were her favorite jeans and she never expected that they’d be going clubbing that night.
He was in the midst of revision and didn’t want to go out. Well, perhaps he did but thought he shouldn’t…but since it was D’s birthday he didn’t need too much convincing. So the boys hit the pub and any thoughts of revision were soon thrown back like the shots that they downed in celebration.
The pub.

Who knew that pubs closed at 11pm? Not the seven American girls in Plymouth, England as part of their high school international studies trip. Fortunately, they’d found a flyer from a street advertiser for the dance club Rio.

The club.

After wandering for a bit they found it and made their way up the stairs past bulky bouncers and into a haven of bright lights and teen glamour, boos and brawn – the ultimate sex pot.
D’s birthday celebration spread into Rio and onto the dance floor. The night was hot; the music a giant heartbeat whose thump thump matched the bouncing breasts of the scantily clad girls strutting their stuff. Not that the guys minded.
She bought a vodka tonic with the added satisfaction that she wouldn’t be legal to drink in the States for a few years and scoped the scene with her fellow New Yorkers. Rich cologne and short skirts inundated their senses as they pushed through the crowds.
He stood by his mates and vaguely concluded that this was one of those nights where hard work and diligence took a back seat to well earned enjoyment. Sipping his beer, he relaxed into the moment, eyes drifting over the waves of bouncing bums and bulging biceps to rest on a petite girl in jeans and a black tie jacket, long brown hair cascading past her energized smile and down her back.
Her gaze swam across the pulsating room until it came to focus on a boy with light brown hair fashioned into a quiff, watching her, in her path. Their eyes locked as she approached and as reached his side, she paused and smiled. Their initial words, failed exchanges drowned by the music didn’t matter until she leaned into him and asked, “Do you dance?”

And then our worlds collided.

This post is for Josie at Sleep is for the Weak’s Writing Workshop.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Out & About, A Tooth & A Brit

It’s been a busy several days. Good busy; achieving our new life balance busy.

Saturday I had my first extended solo day out since LLC’s arrival. I went to the lovely LT’s hen do, which meant champagne tea at The Orangery in Kensington Gardens followed by bowling at All Star Lanes. It felt good to put on a dress and a non-nursing bra and chat about things other than nappies and how many hours LLC slept through the night. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for this talk with my mum friends but I was also grateful for the chance to hang up my mommy hat for several hours and talk weddings, jobs, politics and food uninterrupted by tears and poop. There was naturally some baby talk too but it wasn’t the main event. I enjoyed myself (even though my bowling was shameful) but couldn’t wait to give LLC a kiss and re-don my mommy hat by the end of the evening. Plus, my breasts were getting hot and firm and scarily fountain-like….

Sunday Chris, LLC & I met up with our NCT friends & babies. That’s 21 people, including babies. While we ladies meet regularly this was the first time since our ante-natal classes that the men got involved. We went to a fab local gastropub that actually fit all of us at a table in their bar area. We enjoyed delicious food, seven well behaved little ones (no meltdowns - amazing!) and discussing how we’re all coping through these early parenting days. Our leap into parenthood provided the root of our relationship and these are now growing into some great friendships. We’re all doting parents but still know how to enjoy a meal out, random natter and a cheeky beer or glass of wine!

LLC’s angelic behavior at the pub Sunday afternoon proved the calm before the storm of Sunday night. She went to bed as normal but woke up around 10pm, wailing, drooling and trying to eat her hand off! I had noticed she’d been drooling and chewing on her fingers a fair bit during the day but her discomfort had clearly reached a new level. Four and a half hours of crying later, we finally settled her and stumbled into bed with the scary realization that teething may have begun.

I hear that teething pressure can rear its ugly head months before any teeth appear. Poor LLC. It was difficult seeing her so distressed and not knowing how to help her. I had tried a teething ring but she wasn’t having it so I resorted to lots of cuddles. At least next time I’ll be prepared with some Dentinox Teething Gel, Nelsons Teetha or Calpol – thanks for the advice LG! Do you have strategies for coping with teething? Please bring them on!

My sleep deprived night left me feeling anything but fresh Monday morning and Monday was a big day for me. Why? I swore allegiance to the Queen and became a British citizen. After a couple of years of procrastination, I finally pulled my finger out and applied for dual citizenship. So now like my husband and my daughter, I’m a Brit. An official American Brit. Now can I vote in the imminent General Election, even though my choices leave me far from thrilled… Tired I may have been but that didn’t stop me from smiling, as you can see from this photo taken right after the big event.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

What a Production!

Walks in the stroller used to = sleeping, peaceful baby. Alas, those days are no more.

LLC fell asleep in her pram before I left the house and I made the mistake of delaying my errand-running walk in favor of a mad dash dance with the laundry and dirty dishes. Mission accomplished, I grabbed my jacket and approached my sleeping baby’s chariot only to discover that she was no longer asleep.

No problem, I thought. She’s due a much longer nap than this and once we getting rolling, she’ll be out like a light. And thus my new mummy error…

For roll we did but sleep she did not. With each step I took, her perky little eyes only seemed to get perkier rather than heavy with sleep. Cue small strong kicking legs, head manically turning from side to side and then, then her signature waa waa waa of protest.  I didn't have my camera at the time, but she looked something like this....

I stopped in a coffee shop and fed her once I realized that nap-time was a distant memory as she was due a feed post nap. This calmed her but her contentment proved short-lived for no sooner did I put her back in the stroller than her protests began again.

Geez. If LLC’s not sleeping during our walks she’s usually at least content. She’d been fed, changed and felt the right temperature. What was the matter? I chatted to her in soothing tones. Then I shuddered at the thought of joining the post office during this thunderstorm.

I tilted back the hood of LLC’s stroller and started to talk her through our movements. We’re just nearing the post office little one. Mommy needs to send a couple of packages. Yes, we’re by all the shops. This is where you usually sleep but today you can see all the people shopping. Mama needs you to quiet down when we go inside….

As I spoke her cries softened, only to return at full blast when I discourse. Ayeyeye. So I parked the stroller and picked her up for a cuddle. Instant silence.

Her eyes darted around the high street with hungry curiosity, registering the surrounding action. So I chatted to her more about this scene but then explained I’d now have to return her to her stroller.

Waa Waa Waa. I walked on. Then picked her up. Then put her down only for her to cry again. The cycle kept repeating itself. All she wanted was to be out of that stroller, observing and learning. Unfortunately for her, I couldn’t navigate the post office with packages, pram and baby in hand.

Oh, her spirit! It grows as she does. I’m so happy for that, but it made going to that post office a pretty stressful, embarrassing and trying experience. 

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Solo Sleep for LLC

It’s exciting every time we have a new addition to LLC’s list of firsts. (You know I love my lists – plus, I’m spurred on by my baby book and baby calendar which encourage me to chart LLC’s developments).

We had forged a fairly successful bedtime routine – bath with daddy; change; feed & story with mommy; bed in moses basket) but since everyone tells us once you establish one pattern it is likely to change, we decided to pre-empt that ourselves by moving LLC into her own room for bed last night. So much for the old adage that “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” – we figure we should start to sew her seeds of nighttime independence as she’s going on for 10 weeks and getting more attentive and no doubt astute by the day.

LLC’s room is not a fully kitted out baby themed nursery as it’s also our office and guest room rolled into one. This suits our space, our budget and our purposes but we’re still keen to have the room reflect her as best it can. The bookshelves hold her books, on the wall hangs her awesome name banner sewn by the hand of Aunt D, her dresser dons her music box and ABC picture and the changing table hangs over her until now “naked” cot bed. Yesterday I finally “dressed” the cot bed and it’s proved a crowning glory in helping the little lady’s room look more complete.

So the room looks good and LLC’s crib is a cozy sanctuary for sleep, guarded by a small brigade of stuffed animals. But how did bedtime in this new environment go?

I nursed LLC on the futon in her room rather than our bed. I read her story. I shushed her into that seven mile stare state between consciousness and sleep and slowly lowered her into her crib. I retracted my hand, slowly, gently and then “Waa, waa, waa” - small sounds but on the brink of a crescendo. Her small eyes darted left and right, frantically taking in her new surrounds.

I braced myself that this nighttime transition may not be easy and that tonight might be the start of a tiring journey for awhile. I scooped up LLC, rocked and shushed again for about a minute and then placed her back in her crib once she fell quiet. She looked up at me with big full moon eyes. Such a huge searching stare from such a little person. I explained that this was her new big girl bed and that mommy would be back to feed her in the night and then in the morning like usual. She stayed quiet, so I gave her a goodnight kiss, switched on her monitor and left the room.

She woke once in the night to be fed and went down again fairly easily afterwards. She then woke up a little after 6am, a bit earlier than normal but we’ll take it!

So her first night sleeping solo went surprising well. I’m not getting too excited as it’s only been one night, but I’m hoping this auspicious start will be a sign of bedtimes to come. A mama can only hope.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Get a Taste of This!

The fact that I'm craving and eating cake with the passion of Majorie Dawes cannot be a good thing.

Cake.  It comes in so many varieties and is often so good.  It completes my coffee afternoons with other mums.  Unfortunately, when eaten several times a week it's not doing much for my post-pregnancy fitness.  I'm not mad and suggesting that I deny myself cake in totality - it's just dawning on me that eating cake three or four times a week may not be the healthiest of  ideas. 

So I decided to cut back since I really couldn't justify the voracity of my sweet tooth.  That is until I came across the acceptable indulgence that are Milkmakers, which seriously take the cake, or should I say, the cookie!

Loaded with brewer's yeast and ground flax seed, these super cookies, designed specifically for breast feeding moms, will up the quality and quantity of my milk supply.  I'm not going to delve too far into the chemistry behind these cookies; I'm just going to roll with the retailer's promise that LLC will get more nutritious milk and I will get to eat tasty cookies, almost as good as cake, without guilt.  Everyone's a winner.  Everyone but my bank account, since at $44 for 30 cookies they don't come cheap!  Plus I don't know if they ship to England.  Sigh.