Wednesday, 30 June 2010


You’re a cheeky monkey
A free spirit
Innocent and true
You don’t smile on demand
But when you do
My heart glows

And your hearty chuckle
That burst out
When moo cow bounced on your belly

Half squeak
Half gag
Music to my ears

We hold each other
And dance
And laugh

I look at you
And the world slows down
My mind no longer busy, just happy

This post is for the joined up Sticky Fingers Gallery & Josie's Writing Workshop.

CyberMummy Here I Come!

I’m excited to be attending the much anticipated CyberMummy blogging conference this Saturday July 3rd. Huggies, who sponsored my ticket, has recently already afforded me the opportunity to meet some fellow bloggers but by and large, this is my first opportunity to meet the people behind the words, which is fantastic and also a little daunting too.

In an effort to get to know each other a bit before the day, Carly at Mummy’s Shoes initiated a ‘Meet & Greet’ so attendees could share a snapshot bio with each other. So here’s a bit on me.

Name: Tanya
Blog: Bump2Basics – Random Musings from an American Mom in London
Twitter ID: @Bump2Basics
Hair: Long brown
Eyes: Brown
Height: 5ft 1, but probably will be wearing some type of heel, though nothing too ambitious
Will be wearing: Something non-breastfeeding friendly; it will make a refreshing change!
Likes: Running, writing, pilates, fine wine with family & friends, long walks, exploring, yoga, salsa dancing and talking (please come say hello on the day!)

I’ve been inspired, surprised, educated and engaged by the UK blogging community once I realized it existed so Saturday promises to be a day to learn a lot, and to remember.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Child Safety - How far should we go to protect our babies?

Becoming a mother has definitely heightened my sensitivity to stories related to child safety. Fact or fiction, when I hear about a child’s wellbeing at risk it can easily reduce me to tears.

My mom taught me that the world isn’t always pretty, and that you need to be aware of this to cope. So when those tears come, I try to remind myself to toughen up and look for the lesson to be learned.

I’m pretty sure it was an episode of 'CSI Miami', that presented me with a mother’s worst nightmare. A woman was walking her baby in its stroller when a couple accosted her and made off with her child in its pram, shouting how she (the real mother) had attempted to kidnap their baby. Passers by believed the true victim to be the perpetrator. Horrible.

Yes, this is very CSI, but it’s also very scary and not beyond the realm of possibility in this crazy world. It made me wonder what I would do if, god forbid, I ever faced a similar situation.

Particularly in this great weather, LLC and I head out to crowded places almost daily and I don’t live in fear of nutters. Still, I always make sure I stay by her pram’s side and also keep my wits about should anyone start to invade our personal space. I’ve never seriously considered taking any additional proactive measures. Should I or would that be bordering on paranoia?

GPS gadgets and child safety tattoos are now available for small children lest they stray from their parents’ side. Should similar measures be taken for small babies who don’t understand stranger danger and would be less likely to protest than an older child if in jeopardy? Such measures would serve as a link between parent and child, rebutting the claims of a CSI-like maniac. But is this a step too far? I’m interested in your thoughts.

This post was written for the Babyrambles Keeping Children Safe Carnival, sponsored by PleaseCallMum.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

A Walk on the Wild Side

One of the things I love about maternity leave is discovering my area. I’ve lived in these parts for over seven years and I’m finally starting to learn street names, to realize that this road links up to that road and to discover pedestrian pathways I never knew existed. I’ve also found some great new parks and child-friendly green spaces that make a nice change from our more urban strolls.

Yesterday LLC and I were “rolling,” (when I take her out in the stroller, I always tell her "let’s roll!”) in one of those newly discovered parks. I’ve recently converted her Bugaboo from the carriage carrier to more upright, buggy-like seat; she loves her improved view of the world and I love her reduced number of stops because she can’t see.

Anyway, we rolled on by the children’s playground complete with swings, climbing frames and other apparatuses I don’t know the names of; a large sandpit with water features; a pond with ducks and an array of birds; a lovely rose garden just coming into its glory; a couple unabashedly shagging on one the lawns adjacent to the rose garden, yes a couple seemingly doing the nasty in a not-so secluded -space next to the roses!

My running commentary of our surroundings ground to a halt as we made a swift about face. All I can say is it’s a good thing LLC doesn’t really know what she’s looking at!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Hot off the Press

One’s hot, one’s warm and one’s more tepid, but all are pregnancy/mommy stories in the media that caught my eye.

First, today’s report about introducing carbon monoxide tests on all pregnant women. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence suggests that exposing the elevated levels of carbon monoxide in smokers' systems will show them the error of their ways; The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) opposes the idea as a non-supportive, guilt-inducing practice. While I think expectant mothers could do with the wake-up call, I doubt this test would really make a difference to already smoking pregnant ladies. I’m more concerned about financial implications; in light of yesterday’s emergency budget, how would this monitor be paid for?

Next, Lorraine Candy’s article in The Mail about the plethora of conflicting studies on pregnancy and motherhood and the maternal guilt that these generate. This excerpt sums it up:

I think we have fallen prey to battered mother syndrome, where we're bullied into believing everything is our fault. Quite frankly, if a headline read 'women who wear kitten heels have dwarf babies' we'd believe it. “

I’m definitely “thinker” who is all about knowledge being power, but since delving into the black hole of pregnancy and parenting studies over the last year, I’ve realized it is important to take this “advice” in small doses, consider my personal situation and keep things in perspective so I don’t waste spend my time worrying rather than enjoying LLC. This is sometimes easier said than done.  Do you think today’s society fuels maternal guilt and are you a victim?

A couple of weeks ago the BBC ran ‘Is that woman Pregnant or Fat,’ which discusses how many commuters don’t offer their seat to pregnant women for fear of offending someone who is instead overweight and shares tips for “identifying” pregnant women. This identifying list seemed a bit ridiculous, as most of the “pregnant symptoms” could apply to those who are overweight as well. The comments provide some interesting reactions, but mine is, as I determined while commuting pregnant, that if pregnant women want a seat, they should simply ask for it as should anyone else who is unwell. Sure, it would be nice if commuters offered but they may not for a host of reasons (their head is buried in a book, they’re not sure if you really are pregnant, they just don’t care, you're not displaying any physical signs of fatigue) and if you don’t ask, you may not get.  Drama averted.  Would you agree?

Friday, 18 June 2010

Mum's not the Word - Call me Mommy!

I have lived in England for almost eight years. I embrace and use British English in my daily life but I don’t have a British accent.

I’m not one of those Americans that attempt to affect a British accent, but instead sound scary and frankly ridiculous. I’m also not naturally susceptible to accents. Yes, my intonation has changed and I say isn’t it and doesn’t it rather than ask a question outright (this used to annoy me but I’ve succumbed!) but all in all the sound of my voice is still pretty much intact with my American roots.

I’m happy about this. I see my voice as one of my key identifying factors. My accent represents the American at my core and I don’t want to let that go.

I’ve always viewed British English as another matter. I live in England and want to fit in. In my daily life, say pavement, not sidewalk; bin, not garbage; rubber; not eraser; hob not burner. I also love British slang – strop, leary, cheers, gutted, slapper, chuffed, manky, broody….what great, colorful words and at such a wider variety than their American equivalents.

Conversely, when I’m in the States or talking to Americans I revert to American English. (That’s why this blog is a splattering of British and American English.) I naturally adjust my vocab depending on my audience. This may sound bizarre but it works for me and usually, but not always, avoids people from both sides of the pond commenting on my use of language.

LLC on the other hand, will sound British. She was born in England after all and I’m certain her voice will be a product of her surroundings and I think this is only right. When she does start to speak, however, I’ll just have one request: I want to be a mommy and a mom, not a mummy and a mum. British English I do embrace but like my voice, I identify being a mother with my own roots and want to be a mommy to LLC as my mom was a mommy to me. I wonder what LLC will have to say about this when she actually starts to speak?!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Motherhood to Me

This story began
When you were a mere twinkle in my eye

For each word we read
About cows jumping over the moon
Giant peaches & runaway bunnies
Corduroy & engines that could

Our own chronicle unfolds
A tale of entwined life
Mother & daughter
Who both play student & teacher

You can’t yet speak 
Yet your eyes tell me you’re listening

And my sometimes wise,
Sometimes wacky
Always loving words, as your mother, come

This post was written for The Gallery on 'Motherhood' over at Sticky Fingers.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Busy Bees

It’s been all go in our neck of the woods....and beyond.

The week following our Cornwall vacation, LLC and I supported Chris take part in the Blenheim Triathlon. It felt like we deserved a prize in our own right for running around and cheering Chris on during each leg of the event. We’re getting skilled at beings daddy’s cheerleaders and he managed a personal best. All this supporting has me itching to book into a 10K or half marathon for later this year.

The following morning we trekked to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square to file for LLC’s American Citizenship. Note to any fellow Americans travelling to the current London US Embassy with children: it has no ramps or lifts (very helpful when you have a stroller!) Come with another adult if you can.

Then Grandma S came to visit from Dorset for a few days and showered LLC with extra cuddles and attention. One afternoon the three of us drove to Sevenoaks for afternoon tea with LLC’s great grandma F, thus celebrating four generations of our family women under one roof!

Last Friday, Chris took the day off and we drove to Devon to spend the week with some of our dear friends Family H. We always love these trips but this last one was particularly memorable as it was LLC’s first trip to Devon and our first trip to Family H since their little girl arrived seven weeks after LLC.

I now understand, for real, that navigating parenthood is no small task and adjusting to life with a baby is wonderful and manageable but also scary and hard at times too. Having good friends simultaneously ride this wave has been exciting and supportive. We share tips and war stories, reflect on how the dynamics of our life have shifted and remind each other that we’re doing pretty damn well.

The seven-week age difference between LLC and Baby I made for interesting observation at this early stage; if I moved an object back and forth between them Baby I would follow it with her eyes while LLC now follows with her head as well. LLC chatters and shrieks a bit more but Baby I is already coming into her own with gurgles and softer sounds. It’s a reminder how each week brings so much right now.

So this weekend our before babies “four-way” became a “six-way”. The weekend proved better than ever, aside from LLC’s Friday night breakdown that kept Chris and me (and fortunately not Family H) up for a good portion of the night. We had a BBQ, took a couple of walks, caught up as we always do – at times like these, I feel that we really are rolling out that new life balance I often speak of and I’m loving it.

Monday, 7 June 2010

We're on a Roll

A few weeks back LLC rolled from her front to her back, much to Chris and my delight. It happened a few times and then she seemed to forget the manoeuvre.

Not anymore. In the last week she not only re-mastered the front to back roll but also threw in the back to front roll (in fact, she's now more adept at at this and if left on her back, it's only a matter of time before she ends up on her front - this gave me a shock at nap-time!). She's also found her foot, clearly the most tasty treat in her book after milk and can now really grip her toys for more than a minute or two. Last week while out with my NCT friends she made a real grab, rather than random jerky swipe, for my water bottle and gave the table and some of our friends a shower (note to self: screw top firmly on water bottle.)

Unlike her weight which is gradually increasing but doesn't strike me by the day, I love being able to see her acquire a whole new skill or trait by the day. The pages in my leather-bound book are filling up and I'm psyched for what's around the corner. Before long I'll have to start thinking about child-proofing this house....eeek! I can't see myself going nuts in this department but I do need to give it some thought. Any tips?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Goodbye Unfinished Business

Like an itch in the middle of my back just out of reach, it nags me. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, like drinking orange does after I brush my teeth. It’s looming, but simultaneously intangible. It’s unfinished business.

Frustratingly, this unfinished business is a beast of my own creation. When I’m out and about with LLC, I let go and enjoy, but when we’re at home, I find it hard to put my feet up and read a book while she’s happily batting at Pete the Parrot on her play mat.

Instead, I dash off to do the dishes, to hang out laundry, to do my online banking, to fill out a passport application, to clean the bathroom....often simultaneously and subsequently with half-assed success across the board. My perfectly good day ends but I don’t feel completely satisfied; instead I feel this distant sting of unfinished business.

Kelly at A Place of My Own’s recent post about her need to slow down and take things one step at a time so life didn’t get on top of her really resonated with me. I see a way forward – employ my love of lists, keep my goals for the day limited and realistic, then tackle each to-do one at a time. Think glass half full rather than glass half empty.

Our recent vacation was the wake up call I needed.  I slowed down and relaxed; I didn't focus on what I had not achieved; I didn't have a to-do list a mile long; I went to bed feeling more content.  So I returned determined to part ways with dear unfinished business. I want to set a good example for LLC. I want to feel relieved of this self created pressure. I’m ready to slay the beast, or at least not to feed it. And hopefully if I don’t feed it, it won’t grow.