Category: Random thoughts

Happy new year!

I don’t have any fancy resolutions. My usual one is to Be Happy (insofar as that is under my control) and I feel like I accomplished that pretty well in 2018. I don’t think it’s so much about forcing oneself to be happy in desperate situations but trying to find the joy in life, no matter how small. Of course that is much easier when life goes your way and less easy when it’s all piling up against you. So I’ve been lucky this year and I’m very grateful.

We saw in the new year at home. We are lucky enough with our terrace that we get to see fireworks in both directions, and our local friends popped round and we drank some pink champagne and B danced to Madness on the telly (as that’s who was seeing in new year on the BBC). It was very understated and it was very nice. (Dog was out on the terrace with us, putting paid to any idea that he is scared of fireworks.)

There are definitely parts of my life that niggle. We need to get our flat sorted out. We have boxes and boxes of stuff from storage and I need to go through them and get rid of stuff. It’s a tedious admin job. So maybe I need to resolve to get rid of them all by the end of the year! I think that’s doable.

The other mild annoyance is work and not getting promoted. I was told by the big boss that they won’t consider it until someone’s been there three years, but that’s rubbish as people did get promoted before then. But then I remind myself that I quite like my job and it’s not horrific and they’re nice people and I get paid enough for what I do. (I’m not about the money because I want to be rich. I just want to retire as early as possible and spend time with my family.) I guess I just need to keep plugging away at that.

Funnily enough the online adoption community has gotten to be a bit of a joy sucker this year. I haven’t really blogged about it because I don’t want to give oxygen to it. But it’s always surprising to me how there seems to be a cycle of craziness and drama that comes around about once a year with these things.

Suffice to say that it got a bit out of hand this past year, resulting in some personal attacks, and that wasn’t fun. But did consolidate in my mind who my (online) friends are and also the boundaries that need to be put in place to deal with them. I think the sad fact is there will be difficult and vindictive people in every sphere of life, and it’s just something you have to minimise your exposure to if you want to be happy.

Other than that – B is a constant source of joy. Not that he tries to be. He’s heading into his terrible twos but I think he got there early! I think it’s difficult for me to be cross at him because I always find it cute and funny when he has a tantrum, and I also relate to him as a toddler because really all he is doing is expressing himself in an uncensored way, and wouldn’t we all like to do that!

It is really great to see how he’s growing and learning and developing. He’s a very physical kid. Always active when he’s awake (and often when asleep) and loves climbing over things. It’s quite scary but also fun to watch him developing.

He can say words but a lot of them are ones of his own invention. He has finally learned to distinguish between Mama and Papa – for ages he called both of us Mama! He likes singing and dancing. He adores a guy called Blippi (on YouTube and Amazon Prime – he’s a guy who dresses in blue and orange and explains stuff in a very enthusiastic way to young kids).

Our first NCT (antenatal group) #2 was born on Christmas Day. And B’s bestie (the little girl he caught chickenpox from!) has a sibling due shortly. Cue lots of excited photos and videos and tales of how amazing it is to have a sibling. It does sometimes feel like a bit of a jab when people go on about siblings because we can’t easily give B a sibling. I mean, we could try the whole process again (IVF, immune therapy, and might need an endo op before then) but it isn’t something we have chosen to pursue. I guess one day B might be sad about this and wish we had. I hope that if/when that happens, he will be happy enough with just us.

One thing I’ve found that now I’m squarely in my forties I don’t seem to have the appetite for self-admonishment so much. I spent so much of my time when I was younger feeling bad about myself. I don’t know if it is down to age or becoming a mother but I just don’t want to spend all the time berating myself any more. I feel more accepting of myself now.

I guess part of it is wanting B to know that his mother doesn’t hate herself. I know that’s a small thing but I think my mother always did a bit and that rubbed off on us. And some of it is developing my thoughts and feelings of being adopted. And forgiving myself a bit. Maybe forgiving both my mothers… I don’t know. It’s an evolving thing. My adopted sibling and I had a good heart to heart about it a while ago. I think it’s an ongoing process. But I feel it’s more important to be kinder to myself and others as I get older.

So – 2019! We are in the future!

Hope you have a very happy new year! I’ll just be here eating stuff from the hamper I won at work. (I never win anything… Finally I did!)

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Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve all! I’ve spent the day off work with my one and only, and my overwhelming feeling is gratitude. (Well, that and realising I really dislike wrapping.)

It took a while to get here. I was told I’d never have kids naturally, and after over a decade of infertility and loss, operations, IVF and immune therapy – we had our son last year.

I feel so lucky that I get to experience all this – Christmas through a child’s eyes; the beginnings of him understanding the magic of Christmas… visiting Santa… Christmas shows… trying to persuade him not to open all the presents before tomorrow… and all the matching clothes before he gets too good at talking! 😂

All of us who have “only” one child are conscious, I guess, that we will only do this stuff once. And that can feel bittersweet. He’s not yet two and I’ll never get to have a baby again. A bunch of friends are on #2 now and we’ll only ever have #1.

But once is one better than I ever thought I’d get. So I’m going to enjoy all the only times. Because we are so lucky.

I have friends who can’t have any and I still remember what that felt like. I have people close to me who’ve been fighting battles I can’t even begin to imagine. I have a friend who lost her battle this year. We never know what life will bring.

I say parents of onlies are lucky because they’ll always be our #1. And #1 is a pretty awesome position to be! We are the ones who get the time to savour it, and that’s a privilege I hope I live up to. (And I hope we still have a few years of twinning left! 😂)

Merry Christmas to you and yours! You’re all awesome! 💕

A word of advice for the winter season

Have yourself a sustainable lower impact economically sensible Christmas… (and Black Friday deals!)

So I’ve been thinking about this for a while: I bloody love Christmas – but the whole thing has gone slightly mad.

Something changed in me when I had B. Suddenly I stopped not caring about stuff. (Some would say my stone cold heart may have thawed a tiny bit.) There’s something about having a child that makes you care a bit about the world they’re growing up in and the one you’re going to leave behind.

I’m very very far from eco. I have always been a consumer. But the tide is turning (figuratively and literally, a giant wave of rubbish is moving across our oceans, smothering the sea life) and most recently here in the U.K. we’ve had a high profile advert imploring us not to use palm oil because it’s killing orangutans and the rainforest, and we’ve had Martin Lewis of moneysupermarket telling everyone not to go into debt for Christmas, and to give people the gift of not being obliged to reciprocate gifts.

Now, I love gift giving. And I honestly don’t expect stuff in return. (I’m a dreadfully ungrateful present recipient – I am really bad at pretending to like things I don’t like.) But it’s got me to thinking whether I should really be buying loads of stuff that I’ve done in previous years.

I’ve tended to go all out at Christmas and it probably isn’t necessary. If it’s not reusable then it’s just going to be wasteful. I love the high end luxury stuff but a lot of it is glittery disposable stuff that isn’t worth the premium packaging that gets instantly discarded. (I’m looking at you, Jo Malone / Molton Brown!) Plus I just don’t have so much spare cash now I seem to enjoy spending it on B!

I’m not quite at the wooden toy evangelist level. I don’t ban plastic from our home or anything like that. (One of B’s favourite toys is the €4 cleaning set with a dustpan and brush that his godmother bought him when we went to visit her. Yes it’s plastic tat but he uses it a lot.)

I’ve gently tried to steer anyone who asks towards some of the sustainable / wooden toy providers (Yes Bébé is my current favourite) but I also appreciate that people like to choose gifts or may not afford certain things and I’m not going to deny them the pleasure of choosing something for themselves if that’s what they want to do. I mean, B likes everything (especially the boxes it comes in) so it’s a win win.

Anyway, tonight I ordered a load of my Christmas stuff so I thought I would share because things like that make me excited and get me in the Christmas mood! Here’s my list so far… I am getting a lot of repeats so most people will have a combination of a few of them! Plus there are still some Black Friday deals on some of them!

Christmas tree

We had a potted tree last year in the hopes we could keep it alive and reuse it. That didn’t work! We ended up with two trees and we kept one alive until August but then he died… So this year we are getting a 7-8 ft tree from Patch London. Using code RUPERT0010 may get you a discount this weekend! We saw them (pic above) at Taste London and they look like great quality. So cutting down a tree doesn’t exactly fit with being eco, but Patch replace all the chopped trees and it seems better to use a nice tree for a few weeks and dispose of it in a biodegradable way than to buy a plastic one.

Christmas cards

Again I’m not going to sound any credentials for these because the true way to be sustainable is not to send cards. But I have family and friends who I still share cards with and so I’ve decided to send just to a few people and the others can go without as we’ll just message each other on Facebook or something. I’ve ordered ours from Vistaprint – they have a Black Friday deal code VP2711 for up to 60% off and that runs till 27 November.

Wall calendars

I’ve ordered calendars featuring the latest photos of B that we took in the bluebells. They’re the third session with our photographer who took his newborn shots and they are amazing. Obviously I’m utterly biased but he looks really cute and it’s a nice gift to give grandparents, aunts and uncles. Not massively eco friendly but they’re in use all year round and with the Black Friday code from Vistaprint they cane to just over £6 each, which is amazing! I’ve enjoyed seeing his photos from last year on our calendar and it’s up in my parents’ kitchen as well so they must like it!

Reusable drinks containers

So my big present this year is coffee cups from Stojo. The difference between these and others is that they’re collapsible so they don’t take up loads of space in your bag. I’m very excited about these. All the chains have now started charging for paper cups, and giving you about 25% off your drink if you use a reusable one, so I think these will come in handy. I found them in Robert Dyas for £5 under retail. And they come in a nice holiday red! I’ve literally bought 15 or something which is crazy but I think it’ll be a cool little gift for friends and family.

If you’re like me and drink a lot of water, you’re already carrying water bottles around with you. I love the brand Cotopaxi – it’s an ethical brand that employs local people in South America and Asia to make its products. I already have three rucksacks and a bag from there and I have this awesome water bottle – it’s a bit expensive to buy all my friends as gifts, but if I was feeling more flush, I would. You may have guessed by now I like red.

Organic cotton travel towels

Okay bear with me because this sounds boring AF but I am soooo pleased with these! I saw these at Taste London and the moment I felt the blanket I was sold (soooo soft!). They’re made from Turkish cotton (some kind of organic certification and whatnot) and the selling point is they are way absorbent but pack down really small, and they look cool and they also can be worn as scarves, used as blankets etc. I bought two travel towels for my best friend and her sister who always travel on holiday at Christmas, and I got the larger (sooooft) blanket for us. And now they have a Black Friday deal on where their new range of travel towels are like 40% off which is insane, so I just bought a load more to give to friends, because who doesn’t want a travel towel / scarf thing? Exactly! You can also get free shipping thru Cyber Monday with code BLACKFRIDAYSECRET!

If you could only touch this blanket you’d be able to feel how soooooft it is! Swoon!

Fair trade ethically sourced artisan scarves

Yeah that was a mouthful but these things are pretty gorgeous. Fair Fibres is a start up company selling gorgeous scarves and pashminas made by disabled weavers in Nepal and Kashmir. I gave my first one as a birthday gift and the recipient was over the moon. I think now people are becoming more aware of the provenance of things and they want stuff that is less disposable and that hasn’t been made in a sweatshop. After the glowing review the first one received, I ordered a further two for friends’ Christmas gifts. There are lots of different colours and patterns… of course I went for the red one!

Bamboo (and rainbow!) toothbrushes

I found these on Amazon… I haven’t bought them yet as I was debating whether to or not, as I’m not sure if a toothbrush as a gift is something my friends and family aren’t quite ready for! But I love rainbows and it would be a bit eco, so we shall see. Either way I’ll probably end up getting them at some point!

Finally I had a whole internal debate over packaging. I’ve always loved making amazing exciting looking presents. When I was younger I’d pride myself on my gift wrapping. BUT, that’s very un-environmentally friendly! As a compromise I have decided I’ll try and use up the wrapping paper from last year (if I can find it in the spare room) and I’ve also bought a load of red cotton totes off amazon that I’m going to decorate with gold fabric paint. Some of you will remember my projects from last year with the jute bags. I thought totes might be more usable in an everyday context because you can fold them up. And they’re cheaper to buy in bulk. So not eco in themselves probably (I doubt they’re organic cotton for that price!) but it’s kind of encouraging re-use so I hope that’s doing a bit.

So that’s my Christmas shopping so far! I don’t know if that’s really boring looking or what, but I feel like I’ve tried to be a bit more thoughtful in what I’ve bought. In the end it comes to quite a lot, but probably less than if I’d gone and spent £50-£100 on people to get them a “decent” gift.

My other plan is to put a handwritten (yeah maybe I’ll print it!) note in explaining the thinking behind the gift and also saying what I am really thankful for from that person. Because I want to give people the gift of time, and effort. If I have time I might even make some items of food, but I don’t know if I’ll manage that!

What do you think? Does this all sound whacko or is it old hat and you’ve already gone off grid and live a minimal carbon footprint life in a forest somewhere?!

Of course we’re not doing sustainable or possibly even ethical for little B… He’s getting a ride on train set in the middle of the living room on Christmas morning because that’s how we roll! 🤣🤣

We actually bought it at the Baby Show last year but he finally seems big enough for it now and he absolutely loved it when he tried it at this year’s show!

Train by Peg Perego

Why are all celebs so bloody fertile?!

Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan! I am really happy for them.

BUT…

Why are all celebs so bloody fertile?!

As if it wasn’t enough that all friends seem to get up the duff as soon as the ink is dried on the marriage certificate, the slew of celebs in their late 30s who seem to have no problems getting pregnant is kind of a kick in the teeth reminder that everyone else’s body seems to work normally.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m super happy and grateful to have had our miracle baby. And I know it’s 1000 times worse for my IF friends still in the trenches. It’s why I can be happy for the new royal baby and not really sad and jealous that it isn’t me. (Not the royal bit… No jealousy there!)

But seriously! Why does everyone get pregnant on their honeymoon?!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-45861683

How to eat vegetarian on holiday

So I may not have mentioned but I ended up going full veggie a few months ago. I’d been sort of mainly vegetarian but then decided it was hypocritical to continue eating meat when B doesn’t eat meat. (T does but I wanted B to make his own decision about meat. As a child I was very upset to hear about where meat came from and wished I’d have been able to be vegetarian but my mother wouldn’t let me! Even when I ate meat, I didn’t really eat meat that looked like meat, so it was just processed rubbish mainly.)

In case anyone is wondering, I checked with the doc who confirmed B is completely healthy at 20 months never having eaten meat. He is quite small but then I am small so he’s not really expected to be tall (although T is convinced that it may be stunting his growth – doc says otherwise). T still eats a bit of meat but we don’t cook it at home any more. B eats a lot of beans, grains and eggs for protein.

The thing I’ve found hard is how easy it is to eat meat thoughtlessly. It’s in everything for easy protein. So you do have to make some conscious choices when you are choosing what to eat when you are out for lunch or dinner. Also my favourite food group is probably junk food and it turns out veggie junk food isn’t really as nice. Although that does make me feel slightly better as maybe it just means veggies aren’t junk!

We went for our first ever summer holiday so put it to the test. We had half board so lots of dining options. I thought I might end up eating meat but with a bit of thought I managed not to! And it was totally fine and it was nice (for me) to relax and not feel bad that I was eating dead animals.

I’m not a hardcore vegan although I do think that’s the logical conclusion. And I’m aware the dairy industry is problematic, but it’s baby steps right now. I think at least I have reduced the animal products I’m eating and I’m not consciously consuming dead animals. And we try and shop for organic / free range stuff so there’s that.

Anyway for a holiday, aside from the weather being a bit of a washout we had a total eating fest! There were loads of restaurants and we tried a lot of them. It turns out it is possible to be veggie on holiday! It did get a touch repetitive but luckily it was mainly stuff I like.

A small sample:

Reblog: It turns out I have more to say.

Taming the inner parental tiger

We are on holiday. It’s B’s first ever summer holiday, at 20 months. He had seen a beach before, but it was in Wales and it was freezing so I don’t think it counts.

Of course for our first week (thankfully, I guess, only half a week) we had some pretty bad weather. It’s a total first world problem but was a bit frustrating when we have waited the whole year almost to have a proper holiday! We did go to see my best friend but this is our first one as a family. But the place we are staying is very child friendly – we found it after it was marketed as a child friendly holiday. It could be worse.

One thing I found funny is how I spotted a mixed race couple early on. I suppose we always identify with others. I clocked them early on and they’re the same races we are. Although she is totally skinny and doesn’t look like she could have had a baby, and their baby is younger than our toddler! I also realised this holiday how I need to lose a bit of chub, but half board food isn’t conducive to that!

Anyway I noticed they are always out without the baby! And I just thought that seemed a bit sad. She’s posing by the pool in her bikini and it just struck me as odd because I’ve seen them more times without the baby than with the baby. As it’s a child friendly resort there’s a crèche and lots of kid activities, but their kid isn’t even a toddler yet from what I can see. Each to their own but I can’t imagine why you’d come on holiday with the baby and then not spend time with the baby, but maybe some people just don’t really want or like spending time with their kids.

It got me to thinking also because there is a friend of a friend who lives where we do. Our mutual friends introduced us but I just didn’t get a good feeling about them and I didn’t really try and befriend them or anything. It turns out they spend every night in the pub getting drunk and their kid just has to sit in the pushchair (and he’s old enough to walk, older than B) and they shout at him to shut up if he ever wants to get out. I saw her dragging him along the road the other morning and it just seems like she hates being a parent. She told our mutual friend he wasn’t planned and she’s depressed being a mother and they didn’t want a kid. It makes me sad and it makes me wonder how bad something has to be or appear before someone intervenes.

And then we are on holiday and to make up for the bad weather they put on a kids disco. And it’s just so cute – B was shy the first time but he got into it and then when we went back again he was straight in there, dancing his little heart out.

B is tiny for his age. I’m kind of short so maybe it’s me. For a while he was first percentile and then last time we went to the doctor I asked if he was okay and the doctor said he was absolutely fine, just small overall (though the child has a monster sized head!). He’s 20 months now and wears size 9-12 months a lot of the time.

So during the dancing all the little kids and B are following the dancers at the front, and it’s just really cute. But there’s this one kid who’s been there every time. I am not a good judge of age but I think he’s maybe 7 or 8. The kids dancing are mainly 1-5 or 6 I’d say. He’s like double the size of them and much larger than B.

The little sh*t (as I took to referring to him as) was running around at high speed weaving in and out of the toddlers dancing. It was just so annoying and disrespectful especially as the guides (grown ups who work in the crèche I think) were showing them the moves at the front. He just kept running at high speed in and out of them and right by all the toddlers.

His parents didn’t give a toss. They were too busy fussing over his little sister. And I thought, wow. This event has been put on specifically to entertain kids and this little idiot is running in and out and then ended up recruiting other bigger boys to do the same, so there’s a little disco of toddlers with big boys running in and out of it in a dangerous (in my opinion) way. And the parents do nothing to stop it.

This all makes me realise that there are such different types of parents. Maybe we are overly attentive. (But then he is our one and only after infertility/loss and he’s still a tiny toddler.) Some parents just take it for granted and I guess if you haven’t been through a struggle to have kids maybe you do. Some, like our local mum, seem to hate having kids. And some, like the parents of the little sh*t, don’t care what their kids are doing. Some, like the bikini poser, come on holiday to NOT spend time with their baby.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. Maybe I just think it’s sad that some kids aren’t cherished like I believe all kids should be. I am definitely not perfect and I’m not trying to be judgy but I guess I am. It’s hard when you struggled to have a child to see people who don’t seem to show their child love, who neglect their kids or who raise them to be inconsiderate little sh*ts.

Of course the little sh*t on our third visit to the disco actually ran directly into B and knocked him over. Cue two fierce looking adults bearing down on the boy (who is really just a little boy… I get that, which is why I didn’t push him over myself). T asked him if he realised he had knocked over the baby and that he should apologise. And I said to him to please not run near the babies. He looked scared, and stopped for a bit, and then resumed.

His mother didn’t even look up. (T and I debated whether you can even say something to other parents and we decided you can’t.)

On the plus side, B absolutely loved the kids disco. We got some decent weather this week and we’ve had a busy week of swimming, beach, even mountain biking. It’s been fun. And in infertility and baby loss awareness month, I’m aware of how lucky we are. Just need to work on making sure B always knows how much he is loved, and raise him not to be a little sh*t!

To all the Childless Mums

Let's talk

We don’t know each other, but I expect I know more about the inner workings of your mind than your closest family and friends.

I know about the times you have quietly cried yourself to sleep, when you’ve sobbed in the supermarket buying sanitary products because your period’s arrived again or the time you feigned illness because you just couldn’t face the world.

More than anything I know about the loneliness you carry in your heart.

And I wanted to say that I am sorry.

I am sorry that something that is so easy for most, is so hard for you.

I am sorry that your sex life has turned into a military operation with scheduled appointments. That something so intimate and private between you and your partner has turned into a clinical process with medical professionals dictating what you can and can’t do, invading your body and criticising you.

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Zumba!

Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into an exercise nut. My local friend was a member and we realised if we went in on a joint membership we could save a bunch of money. So I joined the local club which is pretty much the only one I’m ever likely to go to, because it’s right by my house (well, like five minutes walk).

As far as I can tell, Zumba is like aerobics but with more Latin American music… and some slightly sexier dance moves (none of which I can actually do).

The thing is, it’s really quite fun! I’m terrible at it. I used to do some dancing as a kid and I was bad at it then. Turns out I’m just as bad at it now. But the fun thing is, nobody cares! You just keep moving and laugh a bit and sweat a lot. It’s all good.

I feel like it helps my friend, who’s the one recovering from cancer, because she put on a lot of weight during treatment and she has to try and lose it before they’ll operate further. (She needs a double mastectomy – pretty gruelling surgery.) It motivates me to go with someone else. And she’s a good friend so we laugh at each other.

The ongoing joke is about ACTIVEWEAR. If you haven’t seen this video you should take a watch.

It makes us a bit hysterical and is a long running joke between the local ladies I’m friends with. I feel lucky I’m finally in a position where I have a bunch of lovely local friends to joke around with! I used to feel really lonely and now somehow it’s worked out that I have mates who live nearby. It’s pretty cool.

I haven’t lost any weight but it does make me feel like I’m doing something at least! Maybe I need to stop eating so much cake! But that would be sad.

I actually have unlimited classes through my membership so that’s really cool. However they fall at 7 or 8 in the evening and that is nursery pickup / childcare time. I’ve always done way more of the pickups and historically B wanted me as we were still breastfeeding. We still are, but he’s now 20 months and he is less bothered about having it instantly (he’s still a boob monster though) so I’m thinking I could probably delay it a bit. It’s more whether T can get back from work on time. And also I still feel like I want to spend every part of my day that’s not at work, with B! But I think it’s good for mums to have something they do and it’s not for very long. With walking there and back plus a little bit of chat, it’s only just over an hour, which doesn’t seem that bad.

Anyway to demonstrate my commitment to activewear here’s a photo I took the other night of my Zumba outfit…

I think that pretty much sums up my attitude to exercise! 😂

Oh and here’s what I ate afterwards:

Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong?

Oh well, life’s too short!

We are off on holiday next week. Greece! A five star resort. I’m very excited. Don’t think I’ve been to Greece or a five star resort in like forever. We usually do more self catering or city breaks so it’s very exciting. I can’t wait to be off work for a while. We will have just over a week and it feels GREAT.

At least if I’m gonna be chubby, I may as well be brown and chubby, amirite?!