Things I didn't really understand before becoming a mum

Being up and awake before anyone else in the house is

I used to read these magazine or newspaper articles where some famous/successful/interesting woman would be interviewed and she'd say something along the lines of: 

"My favourite time of the day is first thing in the morning. I like to get up at [the crack of sparrowfart, or earlier] before everyone else gets up. It's so peaceful, and I can have that time to myself before the demands of the day kick in".

and I'd be thinking to myself how crazy she was, and that she could be sleeping!

Oh, how little I knew.

Since becoming a mother, I have a window of approximately 30 seconds in the morning, where, if all goes well, I can go back to sleep. Anything beyond that and it's too late. I'm up for the day. I didn't used to be like this. I sometimes really wish I wasn't like this.

But…

There is something kind of magical about the peace and quiet in those early hours. The gift they give of being able to come in to yourself slowly. With a cup of tea and a book, or some knitting, or the breakfast you want, when you want it, without a tiny human hanging off your legs. To sit on the toilet without someone actually sitting on you. The time to be you. Not mum, not wife, not host. No demands, no conversation, no noise.

Magic.

Hand cream

I knew about hand cream before I became a mum. And occasionally I bought some, thinking that I should really use it, but I never really did.

Then I became a mum and the hand-washing really started. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I was a dirty skank before. I washed my hands. I just didn't have the need to wash my hands quite so bloody much before.

Never mind washing that man right out of your hair - babies will make you wash that skin right offa your hands.

Hand cream. Bloody brilliant. Current fave: Neal's Yard Melissa Hand Cream.

Spa Days

Sure, they're nice and all, but you can get the same effect just having a bath and doing stuff at home, right?

That was before I knew that actually having the time to run a bath, get into it, have a soak, a read, a relax, uninterrupted for at least an hour, was likely to be rarer than hen's teeth.

Sometimes, I fantasise about running away to a Premier Inn for a night. Just so I can have a bloody bath and not have to sleep with one ear open, in case Junior needs me.

That you can't call in sick to being a mum

As I enter week 3 of the virus that keeps on giving, I'm reminded again that no matter what else is going on, I can't just retire to my bed with a box of Kleenex Balsam and all of netflix for days, until I feel better. That's not to say that MrP doesn't help - he does, but sometimes, only mummy will do. So unless I'm out of the house, I'm very very rarely entirely off duty.

I know this will get better as he gets older, but sometimes, when I'm feeling really really awful, I just want to hibernate and not have to deal with anyone else's needs. 

 

Not in London Anymore, Toto

After 12 years and 26 days of living the London life, I took a deep breath and moved outside the M25.

IMG_0612.jpg

The commute is longer, but though I loved living in East Dulwich for the last 5 years, this feels better. The sky is bigger, the grass is greener (and there's a lot more of it, almost everywhere I look) and we're weeks away from having a home to call our own.

We're beginning to put down roots and I can feel my wings beginning to uncurl.

Whooga Boots

When I got pregnant last year, my feet did the pregnant thing of growing, unexpectedly, almost overnight. I went from a size 5 to a size 7 in quite a short space of time, leaving me irritatingly and uncomfortably shoeless (at possibly the worst possible time to be uncomfortable and unshod). In desperation, just before I was due to give birth, I bought a pair of knitted Ugg style boots, which, though not the foxiest of footwear, were at least comfortable enough that I could walk in them, and wide enough that my newly boatlike feet could fit in them.

Fast forward to January and the wind is blowing a gale through the (synthetic) knitted ankle and they're battered and collapsing and generally in that baggy ugly state that everyone associates with this style of boot, and often mocks. Not good. So I'm in York at the end of January, and it's freezing, and I'm thinking that I should really get a pair of proper Ugg type boots, maybe even bite the bullet and buy UGG brand boots, but the cost stops me in my tracks. They might be warm, but I don't love them nearly enough to pay that much for them. So I don't, and I go home, with cold feet and consider wearing two pairs of socks for the next couple of months.

Then a couple of days later I get an email, asking if I've got cold feet, and do I want to try a pair of Ugg style boots and do a review on my blog.

Well.

Yes. I have cold feet.

Yes, I was going to buy a new pair of boots, but didn't think my maternity pay would stretch to UGGs (I firmly believe that if you're going to cough up a lot of money for shoes that they should make you happy).

No, I don't usually do blog reviews of products because there's usually strings attached, or the products offered are things I wouldn't normally buy.

So I email back, somewhat disbelieving, and long story short, there were no strings attached. I was allowed to choose any boots I wanted, and have been free to wear them, keep them and write what I want about them.

So here's my review:

Short version

I love these and will not be parted from them. They are like walking in clouds. I may buy another pair in a different colour. Especially because there's a sale on right now making them less than half the price of their equivalent UGG brethren

Whooga Boots

Long version

Customer Experience

Working in UX I'm all about the customer experience, and although I didn't use the website to order, because they were ordered for me, I got all the steps from the point of order onwards, and I was very impressed.

I did check out the site though, and was really pleased to see detailed information on how to make sure you get the right size, as well as information about the materials used and how to wear (and care for) them, and after a bit of consideration, I chose the Classic Short Boots in Black.

I got a confirmation email as soon as the order was placed, with all the order details.

A day later I got another email to let me know that they had shipped, complete with tracking details.

A day later, they were delivered. Brilliant.

I did get an email that day saying that there'd been an attempted delivery (which was in reality successful, but I'd rather have an extra email in error than nothing at all), and three days later, a final email following up to make sure I'd received them, asking me to fill out a customer survey and giving returns information.

Cool. Never had that before.

But on to the important bit.

The Boots

Whooga Box

The Box. I'm a sucker for packaging, and though this was a nice try, it didn't entirely get me going.

Back View

The Boots. Nice subtle label. Reinforced heel, to avoid that collapsing thing that makes UGG boots look so sloppy.

The Boots. On.

The Boots. On.

Top View

The View from The Top.

I'm happy to report that despite my slight apprehension, the boots are a perfect fit. They're neat around my calf, which is great but I can still get my trousers into them, but does make them a wee bit more challenging to put on (these are not shove your feet into them and go boots - you have to put them on properly). They're also not too long or wide in the foot, which avoids the "swimming" feeling I've had with other similar style boots - and which has resulted in the most impressive blisters you've ever seen.

I went with the website's suggestion of wearing them barefoot and they were incredibly comfortable and warm. The only downside being the black colour, which transferred to my feet by the time I took them off. Still, a small price to pay for comfort, and not something I imagine that happens with the natural colour ones.

I've worn these to walk some fairly long distances (around RHS Wisley, around Dulwich Park with the local mums, etc. etc. etc.) for the last three weeks and they've been great. They've stood up to accidental mud (RHS Wisley + Mud + Pram Wheels = Woe), light rain, bitter cold wind and bright, warm sunshine. The inner pile has compressed a bit, but not too much, and my feet haven't felt hideously overheated at any point. I've worn them barefoot (and washed my feet a lot after), with thin socks and with thicker socks. If you were going to wear them with thicker socks a lot it might make sense to buy a size bigger, but it was doable.

As I said in the tl;dr version, I really love these. They're comfortable, warm and have withstood everything I've thrown at them. In the time I've had them I've only worn other shoes twice, and both times I've been less comfortable - make of that what you will.

Some Things I Learned in 2011

That even if you want to be pregnant and have actively been trying to get pregnant, there will still be a moment when you look at the positive test and think "Holy SHIT! I'm pregnant!" and your knees will go weak and you'll panic a bit. That my body, which has failed me so much and so often in the past, can conceive, carry to term and nourish a child. Not effortlessly, by any stretch of the imagination, but it worked, and it is continuing to work, and this astonishes me daily.

That really good friends can be found in places you don't expect, and that people you thought were friends can disappear from your life with very little warning.

That everything washes.

That making pastry isn't as scary as it seems.

That there's a very good reason that pregnancy takes so damn long, and even then, it isn't nearly long enough to adjust to the culture shock that is being a first-time parent.

That quality really is better than quantity in almost everything.

A New Life

On Thursday 6th October at 9.57am, our son was born by emergency caesarean section weighing 4kg (8lbs 14oz) and measuring 54cm (21.25") long. Baby with Daddy

We spent a few days in hospital while I recovered enough to be allowed home. Being able to get up, get dressed and hug my baby was a very good day.

Baby and Mummy

The first day at home, together, as a family, was even better.

Baby

Though I'm exhausted from lack of sleep and still recovering from surgery, each day brings a new joy and though I know there will be challenges ahead, I can't help but feel that the best days are yet to come.

Making Hats and Making Pizzas

The lovely Natalie at The Yarn Yard started a bloggy thing called "Making Monday" a couple of weeks ago, to encourage folk to share what they make. I wanted to join in before, but various things have got in my way. This week, however, I actually managed to make stuff, despite the best attempts of my physiology to get in the way.

Yesterday, I finished making a hat that I started (for the first time) several weeks ago, and screwed up several times, before finally getting it near enough right. It's for the first of the babies born to our antenatal group, and it felt like a huge achievement to finally get it done.

Hat!

The Pattern is Poppy by Justine Turner (Ravelry Link - requires login), and it charms me so much I have no problem with the idea of repeating it several times, in different colourways, for several babies.

Today, breaking from the (recent) norm, was a good day. Not brilliant, but better than I've had in a couple of weeks, and it was very welcome.

Today, I madefinished two things.

I made pizza, using a chunk more of the home-made pizza dough (Jamie Oliver's recipe) that I made a couple of weeks ago. It was really good.

More Home Made Pizza

I also managed to start and finish another hat. I'm now only one hat behind for the antenatal group. Hopefully, I should be able to finish the third before Saturday, when I'll hopefully get to see everyone (and the newest addition to the group) and hand them over.

Another Hat

Mostly, however, I've been working on something much bigger.

Mostly, today, I've been working on growing a person.

In other, happier news, baby is doing fine

Dear Dad,

62.365: Dad

I can't believe another year has passed. I don't know where the time goes. It rushes past so quickly I almost can't keep up.

This last year has been crazy. Work has been insane. More challenging than I could ever imagine, but for all the grey hairs (your estimates were a little off - I'm not totally grey yet but probably will be by the time I hit 40) and stress it's been an incredible year. As I write this I'm sitting in a hotel room in Denver, looking out to the Rocky Mountains and listening to John Denver (because you have to, really). It's a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining brightly and it's warm enough to be midsummer, but I can still see snow on the mountains. I'm here for a work conference and really enjoying it. I'm lucky to get such opportunities.

Karl and I getting married. Photo by Christine Tremoulet
Karl and I getting married. Photo by Christine Tremoulet

I've been married for almost five months now. It was an amazing day. The happiest in my life up to that point. We had a beautiful ceremony and an epic party afterwards and for all that it was wonderful, you were missed and never far from my mind.

Baby

Then, in January this year, when I thought that I couldn't be any luckier, I found out that I'm pregnant. We don't know whether it's a boy or a girl yet, but I'm looking forward to meeting this wee person currently growing inside me. I'm sad that you aren't here to share this experience with me, or to meet your second grandchild. You would have made a fantastic grandfather.

But, sad as I am that you won't be around to see them, your influence on me will filter down I'm sure. I can see many trips to museums (and by extension, cups of tea) and I'll try to remember to drop the newspaper before charging into the sea after a child chasing a beach ball.

I love you Dad, and I still miss you.

Ann

There In Spirit

Chairs in the Sunlight at Casino el Camino, Austin, Texas In March 2000 I finally got around to setting up a blog on Blogger and made my first couple of tentative posts. The next day, the entire blog community (or so it seemed) upped and left for Austin, Texas to attend SXSW 2000, and so began a multi-year cycle of envy and avid blog watching, wishing I could be there.

I made it there, finally, in 2007 and without exaggeration, it changed my life. My time there passed in a blur of learning and laughter. Something shifted in me that week and I didn't-couldn't-process at the time just exactly how much. I'm still not sure I can. I basked in the warmth of friends old and new and tried not to make too much of an arse of myself in front of people whose work I'd admired for many years.

From the woman who sat down next to me and started chatting when I grabbed a sandwich in the airport just as I arrived, to breakfast burritos and diet coke, to the yarn shop ladies who offered to take me to the airport if my friends couldn't because of family issues I was overwhelmed with the friendliness and positive of absolutely everyone I met.

I remember amazing salsas with handmade tortilla chips, pizzas the size of the moon and margaritas the size of my head. Chicken-fried Steak eaten outside in the balmy night air at the down-home restaurant with gingham tablecloths, trailers as restrooms and Sweet Home Alabama playing as we arrived. Chilli-fries that blew my mind (and cleared my sinuses) eaten while hiding in the patchy shade from the midday sun. The amazing steak I almost couldn't eat because I thought I might choke or spit it out because I was laughing so much.

I remember staggering back to my room every night, exhausted and overstimulated and almost too excited to sleep. Feeling like I was missing out because of my wimpish need to sleep. I remember having to obtain an additional suitcase to stow all the yarn related stuff I'd bought while there (and the comedy of the juxtaposition of said accoutrements and a US Army issue foam grenade in my suitcase).

When I read a tweet about breakfast on the balcony of the Hampton or frozen margaritas at the Iron Cactus, I'm there. If I close my eyes I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and hear the babble of conversation around me.

Eleven years after first following the yearly pilgrimage to SXSW, I'm yet again at home, wishing I was there. This year though, it's for a great reason. I'm pregnant, and pregnancy nausea is absolutely kicking my arse. Much as the part of my soul I left in Austin in 2007 is calling to me, I know it's better to be here at home, resting, putting all my energies into my growing child (and not throwing up).

So this year again, I watch and live SXSW vicariously through the tweets of others, there in spirit if not in body, but this year, I wouldn't have it any other way.