Thursday, 2 December 2010

Oh, the weather outside is frightful....

Being snowed in with an ill toddler and several Christmas magazines left me desperate to put the tree up. I held out until 30th November and finally FINALLY gave in.

I made a compromise this year due to a tight budget- new christmas lights for the windows in exchange for reusing our old pre-lit fake tree. So, no real tree in a pot but I still managed to pull off a Scandi theme.


The nativity made an appearance too- I'm yet to find anything to top this set. £1.50 traidcraft by Oxfam about 5 years ago. Bargain!


Finally, the advent calendar. This year we are mostly using Eric Carle's 'Dream Snow'. Every day there is a new decoration under the number to hang on the pop-up tree.


It fits in perfectly!

I still have the stairs and windows to do, and tomorrow will be spent making doily angels while trying to sneak liquid antibiotics into Small Roar.

Now, to find out who has hidden my Elf DVD and why!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Build me up, buttercup.

The house is getting there!

We have finally installed The Shelves. They are not quite the floor to ceiling we were after, but they are looking darn good. A sneak peek:



Yeah, I didn't tidy. 

Ikea Billy in white. 2 large units, 5 small units, 2 CD units. Approx £200 for a full wall of shelving. We love it!

The stairs are also complete. They are painted white, and look glorious. However. They are  not a friend to fluffy slippers and I fell from top to bottom this morning. A stair runner will be our next purchase.

There's a lot still to do, but this house truly feels like 'home'. Small Roar adjusted to the move with no problem at all (bar one small wobble where he thought Daddy Roar had stayed at the old house and we'd moved without him). I look around in the evening, with two puddles of cats draped over the chairs, and the higgeldy piggeldy collection of our education, interests, passions and every cementing feeling of 'family' togetherness filling that wall of shelves and feel a warm, purry contentment.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

That long and winding road, that leads me back...

We holidayed in Pembrokeshire this September. We always arrive back in Wales no matter how hard we may try to diversify. I finally decided this last visit that it is where my heart truly resides- I feel so refreshed and whole when I am there. Even in Swansea...

Some moments from our trip:

The pebbles at CymTydu, replete with toddler wellie.

Some of the carvings from the yurt. The yurt was handcarved in Mongolia and then shipped over here.



The view from the Yurt over the Preseli hills.

The yurt field at sunset

The farmhouse at dawn.

Yurtle.

Yurt interior- it could sleep 4 easily, and had a woodburner. Not so perfect when you have a 2 year old needing constant entertainment, but definitely recommended for grown ups!



The Yurt was on Tir Bach farm, run by a really friendly couple. The facilities are fantastic, both for Yurt-ers and campers (we camped there in 2007). If you want to see a part of the world that has standing stones, dolmans, wild rugged countryside, breathtaking bays and red kites swooping above you as you wind through country lanes and past revivalist chapels... then go to Pembs.

The cheese isn't bad either.

Which leads me swiftly on to the British Cheese Awards. We have long been fans of Caws Cenarth, to the point of deliberately holidaying near to Cenarth so we can buy direct from the dairy, and in one memorable case having a box of cheese couriered from Cenarth to Dudley as the cravings were just too strong. Golden Cenarth was one cheese we have been sampling throughout its evolution into the Great British Cheese Awards Best Welsh Cheese, Best semi-soft cheese and overall Supreme Winner 2010. It is an astonishingly smooth, tart, pongy, gooey, rich cheese that has to be tasted to be believed. It is now being served as part of the cheeseboard at The Ivy.  Along with Perl Wen (their standard washed rind) it is worth a 200 mile round trip to buy (something we have also done). If you ever see it- buy it.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

A blank canvas.

We have a house. It belongs to my parents, who have rented it out for years, and plan to retire in it eventully (they live in a Vicarage at the moment). Their previous tenants have left and so we are taking it on until they retire.

This is what we are working with:

Our room, with en-suite



Staircase



Bathroom



Nye's room (which REFUSES to load the right way up!)

The craft/ guest room:





Living room (plus extra sleeping Small Roar)








The garden





The kitchen





Phew!

My initial feelings are:

  • Paint everything white/ off white/ tinted white. *twitch*
  • Take up the carpet on the stairs and paint the floor boards.
  • Take up the carpet in the bedrooms and paint the floor boards.
  • Sand and repaint banisters/ stair rail.
  • Put white wooden radiator covers over radiators.
We can't do anything about the crappy laminate the previous tenants laid (and then neglected to look after. The only thing worse than laminate is peeling, cracking and scuffed laminate) and it may transpire that the floorboards are in too rough a condition to prime and paint. We also can't afford to replace the kitchen or bathrooms and the tiles are too raised/ patterned to paint over.

So, yes. Eeep!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results.

I have been pregnant 6 times. Possibly 7. Maybe 9 if you count the times I never got as far as testing but with hindsight, things are pretty obvious. I have one child. A fabulous child. A child who has saved me from the worst of myself and placed a buffer around my heart so nothing will ever hurt me deeply again. Not even pregnancy loss. Which is lucky as I am currently 7 (or 5) weeks pregnant and waiting for another scan at the EPU to see if my 7 (or 5) week sac has a heartbeat or if this is miscarriage #5. Or possibly #6 if the current theory of miscarrying a twin earlier 3 weeks ago turns out to be the case.


My current experience of pregnancy is this: Get a positive test. Have a bleed. Go for a scan/ HCG test. Then either HCG test falling, you’re out of the game (we’re so sorry) OR scan inconclusive, collect £200 and progress to scan #2. Then heavier bleed. Possibly with clots the size of badgers. Scan #2- sorry, it was a complete miscarriage, you’re out of the game (we’re so sorry) OR sac is growing, still inconclusive, collect a further £200 and progress to scan #3. Have the odd bit of spotting. Keep self in a state of cat like readiness. Scan #3- OMG heartbeat! Collect your last £200 and progress to the 12 week scan with all of the normal people.

There was the odd diversion from the script last time which included a hospital admission for a suspected ectopic at around the 4 week mark which came before Scan#1. That was fun.

We started trying for a baby in September 2005. We gave up smoking. I miscarried in October (very early and confirmed by the GP). Then it took us a further 11 months to conceive again, and I miscarried in Holy Week 2007 (confirmed by HCG test at the shittiest and most uncaring EPU I have ever encountered- shame on you Morriston Hospital). I was referred for fertility investigation by my GP and had the basic tests. We picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and I took a new job. 2 weeks before I started that job (in August 2007) I miscarried again, though this time I was seen by the amazing EPU at Russell’s Hall Hospital. I actually broke down because they were so nice. I was referred to a consultant who recommended aspirin. So I started taking low dose aspirin (though too high a dose actually, but that’s another story for another day and will include a rant against pharmacists). In December 2007 I found out I was pregnant (but bleeding) and found myself in A&E preparing myself for another miscarriage. I had 4 scans in the first trimester and- miracle of miracles- he stuck. Infact, he stuck so well he had to pulled out of me via the sunroof by a Surgeon stood on a chair after a 30 hour labour and 2 hours of pushing. On Sept 5th 2008- 3 years since we started trying- I finally became a Mother.


It took a long time to think about trying for another baby- I was emotionally scarred by both the previous miscarriages and my experience of pregnancy and birth (a 9 month battle with my body to stay pregnant followed by the little sodface not wanting to come out and a hell of a bleed in surgery). Also, parenthood drastically changed the dynamics in our relationship and we wobbled. Oh, how we wobbled. It was only when we back to actually liking each other again that we started to think about #2. We decided when Small Roar was around 15 months that we’d give it a go. We took the new year as the starting point, and I started taking aspirin again. I had experienced 2 very painful ovarian cysts in the 15 months since giving birth and was convinced the scarring would harm my already fragile fertility. I conceived on our first time trying. That was the pregnancy of hospital stays, suspected ectopics and eventually waking up to a scene from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was the most physically difficult (and shocking) of all my miscarriages. But it wasn’t the most emotionally difficult, because I had Small Roar. It also caused me to pose the question: if this is going to keep happening, when do I call time on trying for another baby, for the sake of my family? It’s only a matter of time before Small realises what is going on. DrRoar is hurting too.


Despite these fears, I got straight back on the metaphorical horse. Again we conceived straight away, and I find myself sat again at the scan#1 is inconclusive stage wondering what the hell will happen next. I am not too hopeful- my dates are 2 weeks ahead of the actual size of the sac. I have some more bleeding (I have been bleeding off and on for 6 weeks). I have some pain. The nausea is gone. When do I give up?


I just needed to say these things, and I am far more eloquent on paper than in person. I have some big decisions ahead of me. The craziest and most terrifying fact is that for all the pain, physical trauma and heartbreak I have been through, I would go through it again a thousand times over if it meant having Small Roar.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

There's nowt cute as folk

Remembering my recent Mumford and Sons rant, I want to balance out the cosmos a little.

I have discovered The Unthanks.






These girls are deceptive- this is not Laura Ashley dresses and soft-focus-meadows folk. This is dirty fingernails and no-knickers folk. They get in to the heart of a piece and lay every uncomfortable truth out to view. They thrust raw emotion, experimental blues-folk and unhappy endings into your head and they do so with simply exquisite harmonies and arrangements. It is knee-trembling, nod-and-a-wink music and every tune is an ear-worm.

The title track is haunting. Their performance of it is breathtaking. They have corrected every folk-by-numbers mistake of the past 12 months (I am looking at YOU Mumford). They tap dance.

Buy buy buy!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Lactivism makes me want to hit the bottle.

The Deputy Editor of Mother and Baby Magazine wrote an opinion piece on bottle feeding. It discussed her choices, reasons and was brutally honest regarding her view of herself and her body.

The Internet went a bit bonkers in response. Lactivists set up a pro-breastfeeding (anti Mother and Baby) facebook group to pressure M&B into a retraction, or at least a 'clarification' on the benefits of breastfeeding. I found this desire to censor one woman's experience rather disturbing. The majority of women do choose to formula feed their children. No-one is disputing that there are benefits to breastfeeding, and to expressed breastfeeding from bottles. Breast milk is obviously perfect for babies.  However it is not a political statement. It is not a lifestyle choice. It is not a badge of honour. We women with children are Mothers first and foremost, and want the best for our children- surely? Why the factioning, infighting and smuggery?

I like this blog response:
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/is-breastfeeding-creepy/

Anyhoo, I did some online digging as I love a bit of drama. I found the cafepress catalogue of lactivist products.

Some have very funny slogans. Among my favourites were 'Mother Sucker' and 'I make milk.. what's your superpower?'. I like that. It's nice. But 'Friends don't let friends formula feed'  (with 'formula feed' written in dripping red blood) and 'Your bottle offends me'  and especially 'Yes I'm still breastfeeding...jealous?' is a full retreat to High School politics. Tell me these are made for reasons other than moral superiority and to shame any Mother ignorant enough to stick a tub of Aptamil in her shopping trolley. It is the worst kind of self-righteousness and makes me wonder just what is being compensated for. I don't need a t-shirt to affirm my parenting choices.

The final decline into idiocy was a child's t-shirt informing the casual passer-by that the wearer is vaccination free, under a list of other benefits it has experienced up to that point. Why oh why would you go to such pains to proclaim everything you are doing is 'best' for your child and then contribute to the deaths of thousands of other children by undoing herd immunity?

You are not a special snowflake for breastfeeding. You are not an ignorant monster for bottle feeding. Your children will grow up just as noisy and difficult and lovely and amazing and perfect as each other.

I used a sling and a pushchair. I have both breast and formula fed.  My son has his own bed but we sometimes co-sleep. He is vaccinated and weaned. But do you know what is more important than any of that? He has a Mother who loves him. It should unite us all, that simple truth.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Baking and such

Church fete you say? Then I must bake. However, I left it to the last minute, and as the theme was 'The 60's' left myself little time to invent something spectacular. I finished the final icing at 11pm Friday night.
I went with sugar cookies and brightly coloured royal icing, plus the oddments of decorations and toppings I found at the back of the pantry.
Naming them 'Psychodelic Sugar Cookies' did cause some consternation amongst the conservative crowd, and I was asked at least twelve times if they were psychodelic cookies, nudge nudge.


Thursday, 24 June 2010

2010 News Years resolution- going strong!






About 5th Jan I saw an advert for a 'Learn to Crochet' serial on TV. Being easily influenced by advertising, I dutifully ran off to WH Smith and bought the first part- replete with DVD guide, 2 balls of yarn and 4mm crochet hook.

It was awful.

Then I bought the Happy Hooker book and lo and behold I had a go...




Since then I have made this and this and this and this and this and this:








6 months later and I have finished my 18th project, which looks like this:


I never in a million years thought I could make something beautiful out of a piece of yarn and a hook. It's a huge self-esteem boost to create something, too.

I have my eye on baby clothes, a poncho and another Clapochet for my next projects...


Ode to a Fig Roll

Ode to a Fig Roll

Oh, Fig Roll, there is beauty in thee,
Your inside is smooth and your outside is crunchy-
yet I've never known-
be you cake, or biscuit?
Plus with a runny bum, should I even risk it?
And so I lie in bed with thee,
and a long drunk cup of tea,
Contemplating all you are,
you little cakey biscuity star.

On the subject of Mumford and Sons...

OK, I have an admission to make. I like New Folk and Americana. I like it in a Cath Kidston n' Bunting kind of way. Basically, in an incredibly irritating Middle Class way. I like Eliza Carthy, Gillian Welch, Bright Eyes and The Mountain Goats. I hear a mandolin and get my wallet out. My dream decor is a mixture of shaker, Norwegian kitsch and random mis matched cups and saucers (preferably displaying hand picked bluebells from my cottage garden). My husband came home this week to find me in the kitchen, wearing an apron, and bread proving in the porch. I aspire to Orla Kiely and settle for Boden rip offs. I am, in a word, a cliche.

So, when I ordered my new smart phone (iPhones are so pedestrian, dontchathink?), and they sent a £20 music download certificate with it, I thought- Brillopads! Mumford and Sons for free. Score. They do twiddly guitar and foot stomping, yes?I really like 'The Cave'. That's the one you've heard on the radio. It is, in all seriousness, a very good tune. So is the last track, 'After the Storm'.

The rest.

Well.

If David Brent did folk, it would sound like this.It's a bit embarrassing, like finding your sixth form poetry when you're a married mother heading toward 30 (hypothetically *cough* ). The lyrics are clunky and self-aware, in a bad way. The music is folk-by-numbers (if you're in the West Midlands, try to catch Goodbye Lenin. They are what Mumford and Sons should sound like). I'll keep 'The Cave' and I'll keep 'After the Storm'. The rest I shall put to the back of my mind, along with that song I wrote when I was 17 and that time I interrupted a Hiroshima debate to rant about US Foreign Policy on camera. For shame...