January Blues (AKA why I wish I could hibernate)

I hate January. I always have. It’s cold, it’s miserable and there are no twinkly lights to distract from the misery outside. I don’t hold much belief in that ‘Blue Monday’ thing (although I like the New Order song), but I do think January could learn from its more cheerful friends. Such as March. Add to this that the last week has been awful, especially Thursday and Friday and it’s made me desperate for a) a series of snow days so I can stay at home legitimately and b) February.

I’ve agreed to trial an online stress management course with Yoga in Sardinia. I have practised yoga in the past, but don’t have time these days for a full class. The course is designed to help more with mindfulness rather than the physical aspects of yoga. Ironically, I wanted to start this a couple of weeks ago, but work and other things made me too stressed to remember to start! Anyway, I look forward to the next eight weeks of trying to be mindful. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

I have also been stockpiling books since my book buying ban ended on Christmas Day (although it did feel weird to be buying them again and I may have gone a tad overboard. Oops.) I am reading like it’s going out of fashion and I think I will probably do the ban again later in the year when my ‘to-read’ pile becomes huge again.

At least the TV is better- one of my favourite drama series ever, The Bridge, is back on. I love Saga and Martin.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

I also have stocked up on teas from Whittards and Palais des Thes. So, snow, make your entrance whenever you like. Just make sure you arrive on the days I’m supposed to be at work, yeah? Thanks.

How are you getting through January?

 

27 things I’ve learnt about being a parent

On Wednesday, D will be a year old. I have no idea how that happened so quickly, but there it is. As I have been a mum now for 51 and a half weeks, I thought I would share some ‘interesting’ nuggets of information that I’ve learnt through the School of Hard Knocks (Parenting Department). Feel free to leave any others in the comments.

1. The best bit of advice I was given, pre-baby, was from a colleague. “It’s OK to want to throw the baby out of the window. As long as you don’t throw the baby out of the window.” Oh, how I heard her voice telling me this many, many times during D’s colic stage.

Image: Dadcentric.com

Image: Dadcentric.com

2. I learnt that big babies are a godsend for the baby-inexperienced like Benn and me. I once told my health visitor that I felt that D would bounce if I dropped him.

3. Don’t post a status announcement on Facebook expressing surprise that you’ve got to six months without any major incident. The baby WILL fall off the bed that day. And then again two days later.

4. Oh, God, THE GUILT. About everything. Seriously, now I understand why Catholics encourage people to have children. It heaps MORE guilt on already guilty feeling people.

parentsclue1

5. Children’s programming is actually a lot better than what I remember having as a kid. Except when they tamper with the 80s classics and make them CGI. No. (Also, avoid Milkshake on Channel 5. Way too much makeup and enthusiasm for 6am.)

6. Babies are essentially tiny drunks.

7. As soon as you get used to a lack of sleep/getting enough sleep (sort of), the baby will change its routine JUST TO SPITE YOU.

8. Babies are more effective at helping you make friends than vodka.

9. You never, ever get used to what are euphemistically termed ‘toxic nappies’ in the Pomfrett household. Never. You just invest in better air fresheners.

10. The relationship between cat and baby goes from fear, to love/hate, to a thing to behold.

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11. It is not always necessary to take the entire contents of the baby’s room when popping to the corner shop.

12. I really felt sorry for Prince William when it was revealed that he’d changed Prince George’s first nappy. I remember what that looked like. *Shudder*.

13. People will express surprise if you manage to do anything that’s not involving the baby: reading a book, painting your nails, baking etc.

14. If you say you don’t want another baby, people will tell you you’ll change your mind. But they won’t say that to your (male) other half.

15. Reading aloud anything by Julia Donaldson will make you sound like a master storyteller.

Image: BBC

Image: BBC

16. Libraries with good children’s areas are a complete godsend. Even if you do have to crawl around with your son, apologising to everyone when he tries to eat their food.

17. Weaning is lots of fun and it is OK to occasionally chuckle at the faces your child makes as he tries broccoli for the seventh time.

18. Derek Jacobi is under no threat from my re-tellings of In the Night Garden stories.

19. Once the baby could crawl, pyjamas became a godsend.

20. You can never have enough of the following: vests, sleepsuits/pyjamas, Sock Ons, plastic spoons, books.

21. Although I have fully accepted that D sees Benn as the cool parent, I quite like the fact that I’m the one he wants when he’s poorly (even if it means being pinned to the sofa all day watching endless CBeebies programmes.)

22. As much as I would like it to be true, I highly doubt D is speaking Russian when he says ‘da’ repeatedly.

23. Babywearing is cool, but impossible when your child is determined to grow into the BFG.

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24. It is very  important to ask for help if you need it.

25. It really is easier to provide grandparents with an Amazon Wishlist for birthdays and Christmas.

26. Even if you’re not a mushy parent, you do feel immense pride whenever your baby does a ‘first’.

27. I am genuinely looking forward to when D is old enough to enjoy the things we do. I need another Doctor Who fan in this house.

In ten years’ time…

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post looking at how my life had changed since a certain photo was taken.

So, let’s take stock of where I am now. This is me (in a not brilliant selfie- I put it in black and white to make it more presentable!):

meblackandwhite

Where am I, at this point in time?

Well:

-I am 29 (six months until I’m 30- strangely not bothered by this.)

– I have a husband and a son who is about to turn one. We also have a maniacal cat.

– I have a good job, although I am cutting my hours in order to spend more time with my family.

– We rent a little house that I love, but that is too small for three humans and aforementioned maniacal cat to co-exist in long-term.

-I live in a city that I love, but that can be a bit overwhelming at times.

-I am usually very tired.

Where would I like to be in ten years’ time?

-I will be nearly 40 and D will be nearly ten.. eek! So, alive, with most of my teeth left would be a good start! (Now I have a half decent dentist, this is a distinct possibility.)

-I would, of course, like the family situation to be the same! Maybe the cat will have calmed down.

-I’d like us to own our own house somewhere quiet. (I keep suggesting Greendale, but Benn’s having none of it. Spoilsport.) As long as I have decent internet access/postal service, I’m good to go.

-I’d like to be my own boss, either through owning a small business or by freelancing as a writer, the latter being more likely, if I’m honest. I also wouldn’t grumble about being a best-selling author. I can dream!

-I’d like to have been on at least one holiday that involves a plane journey!

I don’t think that this is wishing my life away, but is a list of fairly achievable goals. I have a friend who firmly believes the universe provides when you need it. Not sure I’d go that far, but I do think that I can work towards all of these over the next decade. I’m not wishing to be a millionaire with a menagerie of… llamas or something.

I’m going to try going down the route of positive thinking. Just got to get my confidence in gear now!

Ten years on…

leedsfest2002

Recently, my friend from college, Bee sent this picture of me and our friend Kerry to me on Twitter. After the initial ‘Oh my god, what was I wearing?!’, it made me think about how much I’ve changed since the photo was taken. It was taken at the Leeds Festival of 2002 (looking at the line up it reminded me of waiting over two hours to see Guns ‘n’ Roses because my then boyfriend was desperate to see them, despite Axl Rose being a bad tempered bugger and also that I saw Pulp give one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.)

The photo would have been taken a few weeks before I started uni. Here are some things that have changed since this photo was taken:

  • I’m totally not in the job I would have expected to be in at this point.
  • My hair is no longer that red, although I sometimes wish I had a job where I could dye it that colour.
  • I (hope) I dress better.
  • I broke up with that boyfriend, went through a self destructive phase for a while, but discovered The Smiths, so it wasn’t all bad.
  • I would never had believed you if you’d have said that ten years later I’d have been married with a child on the way. I was VERY anti-babies.
  • I have more self confidence, although not a huge amount. Must try harder.
  • At 21, I made the best decision of my life- to move to Brighton. I’ve been here ever since.

Things that I would have thought would happen, but didn’t:

  • I haven’t travelled half as much as I would have expected.
  • I never was brave enough to move to London.
  • I don’t have a dog.
  • I’m not a journalist.

As I’m turning 30 next year, I do think about how life has changed and how it will continue to change. I look at D and marvel at how he has his whole life ahead of him and I wonder what he will become. And then I remember that I am still young (ish) and have plenty of opportunity to do some of the things I’d like to. It’s interesting to look back though- and cringe at my teenage love of huge corduroy flares and velvet smoking jackets.

Positive Mental Attitude.

So, last week, I wrote about my anxiety and how it had been flaring up in various guises recently. It’s really easy to feel anxious when you have a small baby and a lack of sleep. However, I’ve decided to try and help myself relieve some of the symptoms and worries. I find that, if it’s a relatively mild attack of anxiety, I can help it through being proactive.

Happy Cat

With regards to the things that were immediately bothering me, D’s jabs were fine and the dental work is… well, hopefully over (although it was more serious than the dentist thought, but at least I didn’t lose a tooth. Ho hum.)

To kickstart my positive mental attitude, I am going to:

– Look into exercise classes that take me out of the house. Tomorrow I’m learning to Charleston and I’m hoping to learn to lindyhop as well. I may also look into a yoga/pilates class, although doing two exercise classes a week may end up being quite pricey quite quickly.

– Try and get some freelance writing. It’s been a while since I’ve done any freelance and, if I’m honest, I’ve lost a bit of confidence. I have sent a pitch to a magazine, but I’ve never really done it with a view of it as a viable job. Any tips would be appreciated!

– I always hate January. So I am going to do something I haven’t done for a couple of years and order some pretty wild flower and sweet pea seeds. I can start growing them soon and look forward to some flowers in the summer.

– Try and keep things in perspective. Easier said than done, but at least it’s a start!

Any positivity tips welcome!

New Year’s Resolutions

I know, I know, TOTAL cliché  but 2012 has been an interesting year and I think that some resolutions will stand me in good stead. However, I’m not a complete fool; I’m only going to set resolutions that I can actually keep… so, y’know, giving up chocolate is a bit of a stupid one to set myself.

I hate New Year’s Eve, so I’m hoping that we have a fairly quiet one, baby permitting! I do like looking forward a little bit though and wondering what next year might bring. Who would’ve thought last year that I would have a baby a year later? It still seems a bit surreal, really, especially when I consider that I’M SOMEONE’S MUM. Last New Year’s, all I was bothered about was the fact that I wasn’t as fit as I was normally and dreading going back to work. Now, I’m all like “Oh, I hope that this colic goes/I’d really like some sleep.” I’ve changed, maaaaaaaaaaan.

Funny New Year's Ecard: This year I resolve to be less sarcastic. Yeah right.

Learn to bake– Brilliantly, you can join me on this epic journey, which I’ve written about here.

Use stuff up- I am a hoarder, although I will never admit it when Benn says it. My worst area seems to be toiletries and skincare- lip balms, body lotion and facial moisturisers. Maybe 2013 will see the start of me doing ’empties’ posts. I’m not allowed to buy any more products in these categories until I have used some of them up! I’ve been giving stuff away that I don’t think I’ll use and I feel lighter already. I just have to walk on by exciting offers in Boots. IcandoitIcandoit.

Do some fun exercise- Last year, I started jive and yoga classes (before I found out I was pregnant!) and I would like to do something along these lines now that D is here. At the moment, I’m thinking lindyhop classes and yoga at home on DVD…

Not need any more dental work- My teeth are rubbish; they always have been.  I needed a tooth out just before Christmas. I am never, ever doing that again. I need another filling next week (joy- most of my mouth will be metal) and I’ve bought a whizzy toothbrush. Cutting down on fizzy drinks (I was terrible, especially in pregnancy when I used them as alcohol substitutes.) I’ll do everything I can on this one!

Take the baby to some mum and baby things- I’m not sure which ones though, but I do need to be brave with this sort of thing so that he socialises with other children. I can’t imagine having a shy child, really. Might as well start him young.

Drink more water– I just need to do this!

What are your new year’s resolutions?

Christmas traditions old and new

xmas1

He knows if you’ve been bad or good…

This year, Christmas is a bit different at our house, what with having a small baby. We’re doing things much more quietly and this means traditions are changing.

The above decoration was made by my mum. She made nine and said that each of her children, as we moved out, could take three with us. I like this Santa (each decoration has a different type of Santa on it), I think he looks pretty traditional and friendly! Every year, these are the first baubles to go on the tree after the lights and the tinsel. I like the idea of collecting decorations for D as he grows up so that one day, if he wants them, he has some decorations of his own.

I think it’s really exciting that we’ll have new traditions in the coming years. D is too little now and probably will be next year as well, but I’m looking forward to visits to Father Christmas and watching A Muppets Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. I’ve always loved traditions; as a child, we would have Burger King for tea on Christmas Eve and my mum would put the turkey in at midnight, so we got up to the smell of it cooking in the morning.

A camp reindeer hides behind some tinsel

A camp reindeer hides behind some tinsel

This year, instead of our annual Christmas Eve meal out with Benn’s parents, we’re staying in and will probably have an early night, so that we can deal with the inevitable night feed with Christmas cheer instead of the usual exhaustion. Then I reckon there will be a Skype call to my mum (we’ll be up there next year, all being well), and a breakfast of croissants (part of Christmas that hasn’t changed!) Maybe we’ll go for a walk in the park, weather permitting, and watch all the kids on their new bikes. Then we’ll go to Benn’s parents for lunch and visit his grandparents at some point too.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I think traditions are wonderful and it’ll be fun to see which ones we develop over the years. I have a feeling that they’ll be a mixture of our own from childhood and new ones.

Merry Christmas!

Because preparation is key, right?

This week, I am starting to turn my thoughts to the fact that I will soon have to go into hospital and, er, produce a baby. Still a bit in denial about this, to be perfectly honest. (What do you mean, the stork doesn’t deliver these days?) Also, I forgot how pregnant I was and had to refer to the blog to check. That’s pretty bad.

Next week is my last week at work and I can’t say that I’m sad; it’s been weird not teaching. I also have feet that look like they belong to this man:

File:Fredflintstone.jpg

Image: Wikipedia

Unlike the trendy ‘mommy bloggers’, I am not going to subject you to the horror of looking at my feet. Just imagine them, if you want to. I bet Wilma never had to deal with horrid feet.

Anyway, so I’ve decided that this weekend I have to get everything into some kind of order, so my friend Jacqui and I will be going shopping for stuff for my ‘hospital bag’. Apparently, this is not a carrier bag filled with Twixes (my current chocolate of choice), but a bag filled with such ‘goodies’ as maternity pads and spare nighties. I have been studying the books very carefully and have drawn up a list of what I need. We’ll be hitting Primark, as apparently everything gets covered in… goo.. and needs to be something you’re not bothered about being nice. Which I’m sure will be TOP of my list when I’m shouting abuse at my husband whilst delivering a baby. I might treat myself to some nice smellies for when I come out, though.

We have pretty much everything we need for when Fidget arrives and this is… weird, because I’ve always been a bit rubbish at organising my life. His room is a bit messy with all the stuff, but we don’t have drawers or anything yet. We really just need to get new mattresses and then we’re all set.

Looks like I’m actually being rather grown up, doesn’t it? And, despite my whingeing about pregnancy, I think I’m actually starting to get properly excited about meeting the little chap! I still can’t quite believe it’s going to happen.

Reality starts to sink in

So, we’ve been a week in our little house and I think we’ve settled well. The cat is still skittery and the two of us have cabin fever, due to the fact that a) she’s not allowed out for another week and I’ve not been out much and b) she’s really quite annoying at times. But still, it could be worse.

My family are down for a few days and we’ve been to buy a pram. This has been a massive step in mentally preparing for Fidget’s arrival, which is now in about nine weeks (or less. The midwife thinks he’s a big baby, so could could decide to make an entrance a bit early.) We hadn’t bought the pram because we didn’t have room in the old flat and also my parents wanted to save up and get us something we wanted. We also have a little crib, thanks to some friends who gave it to us as a gift. This is now in the second bedroom, which alternates between being the ‘spare room’ and the ‘baby’s room’. We’re a bit reluctant to label it definitely, I think, until he arrives. Similarly, Fidget does have a name (and has had for months), but is still most often referred to as ‘the baby’, ‘Fidget’ or, if he’s really causing me organ pain, ‘YOUR son.’ Anything else just feels like it’s a bit… jinx-y.

The thing now is to get my head around everything else. I think I started to come to terms with the fact that my life will change; in fact, bawling my eyes out at 11pm a few weeks ago, it did kind of hit home. Also, I can no longer see my feet when I stand, I have a bump the size of Jupiter that suddenly came on overnight and I have stretchmarks more complicated than the London Underground map. It’s pretty hard to be in denial when you have the evidence squarely in front of you. Can I also mention that I miss my toes?

In just over two months, a whole new person will be here. A whole new person who will need at least seven clothing changes a day just to showcase all the clothes he’s been bought so far. He is so going to rival the male models in London Fashion Week on that score.

Moving day!

Today, after four years, we’re leaving our flat. Although some of our happiest memories are of here, it’s time to move on. I won’t miss the damp patches, the moths or the upstairs neighbours. I will miss the garden, the higher disposable income and the seemingly endless built in storage…

Anyway, I won’t be posting for a few days until we get the internet back up and running. I thought I’d leave a perfect moving playlist (warning: it’s a bit 90’s-tastic!)

Supergrass- Moving

Everyone needs a bit of excellent Britpop when on the move, I think.

Primal Scream- Movin’ On Up

Bit apt this, really. We’re moving on up… to a house with actual stairs and everything.

Five- Keep on Movin’

Although I’d rather not keep on moving, but this is a chirpy little song nonetheless. I don’t understand why there’s a man washing up in the video though.

M People: Moving on Up

Another song about moving up…

See you in a few days!