Tagged: Christmas

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! 💕

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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

Christmas crafting project

So what with our busy year this year and buying not one but two apartments, I’ve had barely any time or money to do the normal Christmas preparations I usually like to do. (Aka shopping.)

This Christmas will be a smaller scale Christmas with some less expensive (but hopefully more thoughtful) gifts we’ll be giving. I am hoping people will be slightly forgiving what with B being a rather active 11 month old and me working full time and whatnot.

Anyway, I decided to try my hand at a Christmas craft idea… not sure where it came from, but I had it in my head it would work out okay and I think it did! I haven’t had much chance to make any cakes this year and I think it sort of uses similar skills (like piping icing… but with paint instead!).

Actually I do know where it came from… There is a shop called Fortnum & Mason in London which does really nice shopping bags. They are usually blue with black writing but at Christmas they’re red and gold. They look great and they are nice for giving gifts but people also like to use them for shopping. And the bag I made for my friend’s hen do, she seems to use all the time so I thought I’d do my own take on a shopper / gift bag that people will hopefully like to re-use.

You need:

– Red jute bags (varying sizes)

– Gold fabric paint

That’s it!

I just did freehand and I think they worked out pretty well!

Let me know what you think! And link me your Christmas crafts…

After the calm…

So I made it all the way through NaBloPoMo and so I had a few days off blogging. Phew! Somehow when you don’t blog for a few days, you find it hard to remember what you did… or is that just me?!

Fortunately, I’m a photo taking addict so I can look back and jog my own amnesiac memory. (I take snaps not actual posh photos so won’t be winning any photography awards any time soon!)

As it turns out, I’ve been moderately busy this past week…

Sweet like… diabetes 


I have been attempting to control my “gestational diabetes”. I put this in inverted commas as I’m still not convinced I have it. My blood glucose readings have been mainly within target which at my hospital is 5.3 for fasting (when you get up) and 7.5 one hour after meals. 

I had my appointments with the diabetes nurses and the dietician. The nurses were fine and happy that I was keeping my GD under control with diet. (I went over once or twice but it was more when I tried something new.) I noted with interest that neither of them looked particularly healthy. 

The dietician was super annoying. I mean, it was just a really frustrating appointment. She seemed like she really wanted me to go on medication. I said I don’t want to go on meds and I’ve been keeping my levels under control. Anyway she said my post lunch levels were “too low” (5.something to 6.something). So she wanted me to eat some bread with lunch and if it took me over the limit (7.5) they would write me a prescription for metformin!

Err why? If I can keep my levels below the magic 7.5 why should I purposely push them over and then take drugs to bring them down again? So annoying. She said it was to give me energy and said I must be feeling tired due to not having many carbs at lunch. (I usually have soup.) I was like, umm I’m 33 weeks pregnant – I think that most people are tired at this stage!

Anyway I’ve been experimenting and it appears the above breakfast (Greek yoghurt plus Jordan’s crunchy cereal) seems to work well. Soup is okay for lunch and if I add carrot sticks and hummus it brings it up a bit but within range. Dinner is usually chicken / veg based. Dullsville. I seem to be okay with hot chocolate and whipped cream so there is a saving grace!

Autumn tales


I saw this little guy on my travels and I stopped and went right up to him and he just carried on nibbling his nut! Cute! 

Babies and biscuits


We did our second NCT class. Above is the part where she taught us about labour… based on biscuit sizes! (Cookies for my transatlantic buddies.) The chart part is the contractions / intensity. The red but is pre-labour and then there are a bunch of subsequent stages wherein the cervix is dilating and corresponding roughly to the size of the biscuits! 

The first biscuit is an iced gem in the red phase. Then it’s a Jaffa cake, then “proper” labour begins and gets you to Wagon Wheel size! Then finally it’s (not a biscuit) Dairylea cheese wheel time and out comes the baby… The small kidney looking thing by the baby doll is a soft toy placenta! (I’ve no idea where she gets these things from!)

We are both quite enjoying NCT. It is what people say – paying for pregnant friends – but it’s kind of reassuring to realise you’re not the only ones and also that we seem to be possibly slightly more thought through than some of the couples! I’m amazed some of them don’t appear to have thought about anything including which hospital they’re going to give birth at. 

Also I kind of feel like I am more relaxed about the idea of childbirth than some of the other women. It’s really odd considering I was Ms Medicate-Me when I started out, but I think some of the reading and research I have done has changed my mind. 

I’m quite enjoying the hypnobirthing book I’m reading, which is a sentence I never thought I’d say! It’s not to say I’m complacent or that I’m even going to do self hypnosis (not happening) but I think that understanding the theory behind it and trying to approach birth with “calm excitement” rather than fear and expectation of pain makes a lot of sense. We shall see!!

Family dinners and Sunday roasts


On Sunday we went for a nice roast with T’s family. It was good to see his folks especially his mum who seems on good form after the shocking recent events. (See my previous posts!) Fortunately there was no need for CPR or hospitalisation…

The one thing I felt uneasy about was T’s sister… B’s aunt. She is so excited about B’s arrival and bought us tonnes of stuff for the baby shower. I guess I feel sort of worried when she is so excited and also I feel like I am already feeling defensive / putting up emotional boundaries. I really don’t have a reason to feel this way, I don’t think, but I do. Like everything about her is really full on and I am worried that her expectations are she wants to see him all the time.

For example she bought the book I wanted for B (Love You Forever, about a mother’s love for her baby) but then wrote a long gushing dedication to him in the front of the book about how she loves him and now I just feel a bit like… I don’t want to read him the book and see that every time. Which probably sounds really awful. 

Also she had loads of photos on her phone of clothes she wanted to buy him. They’re all from a shop I never shop at and don’t like, and she was asking whether I liked them and I really didn’t. I don’t want her to buy all those clothes! He would look like a chav! 

I feel bad for even thinking these things as I know she means well. We just are really different people and have completely different styles. I think the style thing is less of a big deal but I feel like her pushing for closeness is something I am really uncomfortable with. I don’t know why. I was really close with my ex’s sister even though we were really different. 

I don’t know how to explain it other than I feel like she is massively encroaching on my space. I realise because of her situation she probably won’t have kids so B will be the most important kid in her life. But I didn’t think I would have kids either, and I just want to be able to enjoy that without her being so pushy all the time. 

I guess we will just work it out as we go along…

I’m dreaming of a white (office) Christmas…


It’s even looking festive in our office! I was quite impressed when I came in on Monday and found they’d created this Christmas scene in the foyer. They also have been pumping a Christmas smell out so it smells like cinnamon and spices! Awesome!

As part of my job I have a team of guys (because they’re all guys) working for me on a client and then a bunch of client stakeholders, so I decided to host some pre-Christmas drinks and had a mini party in the office. I booked out a room and ordered in a load of drinks (fortunately on consumption pricing so if you don’t drink it they take it back!) and some nibbles too. 

As it’s my first few months working with this client I was a bit worried if it would be a success. Like maybe nobody would turn up… Or the food and drinks would be awful… Or it would just be me in a big room on my own! Especially as hardly any of the clients accepted the invitation. But my guys said they usually don’t accept but turn up anyway, so I was hoping…

Anyway, the catering crew did a great job!


And to my surprise (and pleasure!), loads of people turned up! It was awesome! I was so happy!



Well, I can’t drink right now so I have to get my kicks somewhere! 3 hours of standing in heels whilst weighing about twice what I normally do and drinking water (yay gestational diabetes)… I was fairly tired by the end! But was so pleased it went well. My team told me at the end they loved it! They were so happy. (Of course maybe they were just saying that as I’m their “boss”… maybe I’m deluded?!)

I’m getting pretty tired at this stage of pregnancy. Tomorrow I’ll be 34 weeks and I’m also organising our team Christmas party (with my boss and most of them are senior to me… eek). I seem to have gotten this job by dint of being one of the only women in the team. And having an interest in event management! 

I am fussy about things so I like it when I’ve organised it and then men seem happy to let me! We are doing a mixology (cocktail making) class followed by Christmas dinner (#2 after my baby shower!) followed by bar and dancing… at which point I will not-so-gracefully retire.

That’s the plan, anyway. What will actually happen is anyone’s guess. I wonder if I’ll make it through the night? I kind of feel like I need to be in hibernation as of now!

One more week after this one before Christmas holidays kick in…

In pictures: Christmas beginnings

Today we had a local Christmas festival to mark the opening of the Christmas season. I love Christmas! And so great we got to see it all on our doorstep. Strictly speaking, I try not to think too much about Christmas before December, but it’s too much fun to avoid!

So here are some pics of today. It was freezing, but we bundled up Dog in his little jacket and braved the cold. It was worth it! Lots of fun! 

Creepy big santa puppet…

Fireworks! I love fireworks! Dog didn’t mind them at all. He’s grown up hearing them so luckily he doesn’t care at all.

School lantern parade. I felt really emotional seeing them all with their home made lanterns! It was so sweet.

Creepy Santa on parade!

A *cough* diabetic treat!

Our local celebrity opening the Christmas show.


All in all, we had a lovely time. Every year we go to Paris for our pre-Christmas Disney and Christmas markets trip, and this year I’m not traveling in December because it’s too close to B being born, so this kind of makes up for it!

Almost time for Christmas countdown to begin!

It’s 2016: Back to work!

It’s that time again…

Time to get back to work tomorrow. I can’t fully put into words how much this is not thrilling me.

First of all, having to go through all the hassle of actually getting dressed like an adult. I think I’ve spent the majority of the past week wearing a variant of what I call Holiday Dress. This comprises what I’m wearing currently, which is some Mickey Mouse sweatpants, a Mickey Mouse t shirt (do you see a theme here?), a sweatshirt covered with emoji (including my favourite pizza emoji) and topped off with a bright pink hair towel (because I can’t be bothered to dry my hair, ever).

Notice what I didn’t include: bra.

Now, I like bras. They make your boobs look a nice pert shape. They stop you from feeling like your puppies are heading southwards during meetings, and for some unknown reason they seem to be attractive to men. But I am the kind of person who takes every opportunity possible to loaf around not wearing one. I get home after work and immediately revert to my betracksuited state. It just makes me feel nice and relaxed. I even take the dog out without one (me, not the dog – he never wears a bra!) although it is winter so I think it’s okay as I’m wearing a coat and I don’t think you can tell the state of my boobs underneath it. On some holiday days I don’t even wash my hair! Cripes! 

So the first thing I’m not looking forward to is this: Dressing like an adult. Including harnessing those puppies into “business attire”. Ugh. 
 
Included in the yuckiness of going back to work is the idea that I have to get up approximately 5 hours earlier than I have become accustomed to over the past two weeks. In the beginning, I got up around 9am but over time this has stretched to 11-something. I know. It’s terrible. But I figure I may as well get some benefits of not having a baby / having to go into work. I gotta say, I enjoy the lie ins although I think I’m probably sleeping similar amounts – I just stay up really late reading books in bed. (The kindle is both a wonderful addition to my life and a sleep-sucking machine.)

Dog has not been 100% over Christmas so we’ve tried to rest him at home, which means we haven’t gone on long walks like we usually do and have spent most of the time hibernating. It does mean I’ve had the chance to read a good few books, which was nice. T has been back at work for the past few days – he didn’t have all the time off in the in between time – so I’ve had lots of nice quality time with Dog just lying on the sofa and reading. He’s a good snoring companion!

We also got to do lots of fun stuff over the break. I posted on my last post about all the fun stuff we did in the lead up to Christmas… We also had a really nice Christmas and new year. It’s a great time of year I think!

On Christmas Eve my parents arrived. Our place is too small for them to stay (we have some sofa beds but it’s not really suitable for my parents!) so they stayed in a hotel. We went out for dinner on Christmas Eve to a nice local pub, and I think it’s just nice to have reached that stage where you can treat your parents (though they still treat me a lot). On Christmas Day we had them round for a traditional Christmas dinner and T’s parents came too, so it was really lovely. They actually met for the first time last Christmas Day! Fortunately it went well so we did a repeat. I even managed not to burn the turkey or the veggies, although T probably did most of it!  

Our flat is completely Christmased out. I don’t really think you can believe it till you see it, but let’s just say the usual reaction ranges from “OMG!” to general expressions of delight (young people) and being flabbergasted (older people). One entire wall is a fairy light wall. The entrance hall has a real 6 ft Christmas tree and then in our living room we have a giant artificial tree which goes to the ceiling. It is decorated with all the decorations we’ve collected over the past few years, mainly from Disney, and presents we’ve received from friends. (Thank you MPB!) It feels really nice and I’ve insisted on putting the lights on every day I’ve been at home, so I can enjoy them before they’re gone! We exchanged a lot of presents and I got some really cool stuff. Although not as much chocolate as I would like! (This is probably a good thing.)

T got me an automatic milk warmer to make hot chocolate (my favourite drink). And a huge box of chocolate spoons which you stir into hot milk to make hot chocolate. He also got me the biggest pack of marshmallows I’ve ever seen! I got him a remote control drone – it’s really quite fun although Dog goes a bit nuts when it’s flying around the flat. We got lots of silly little presents too. I love Christmas!

 

We did have one moment which was slightly awkward when my dad remarked on all the Christmas and Disney stuff (including my latest Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast, who sings Be Our Guest… Awesome), and said “All this stuff, who’s the child around here?” – I think my mum almost killed him with her death stare. Anyway… I’m okay with it. I think that yes, we do have a lot of childish stuff. We enjoy Christmas and we enjoy Disney… I think that’s okay. Maybe we never have a kid and we carry on enjoying it. Maybe we do, and the kid gets to have parents who love childish stuff (which I reckon can’t be a bad thing either way).

Anyway, I digress… Christmas is over. New Year has started. It’s 2016. That’s nuts… That’s the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2016. What I do know is how I’m starting it. Fatter than I’d like! I figure I have around a month to try and lose some weight before we start IVF #2. I don’t want to go too mad on it as I’m not sure what would be worse – crash dieting or being overweight. I think there’s so much for us all to feel guilty about and I keep telling myself that fat people get pregnant all the time! And drunk people… And smokers… Neither of which I am. I actually felt sick after new year’s drinks and I wasn’t even drunk, so I think I might do a Dry January like most people seem to do. Anyway, we need to try and get as healthy as possible, within the time frames. I put on weight during the first cycle and I haven’t lost it… And it’s been Christmas… So everyone is fatter, right?!

We had a nice new year celebration. A few people in our building had a party and we were invited, which meant we had a nice social event without having to leave the building! Dog even made a guest appearance – he was chased around by our neighbour’s cat. I think the cat came out better. Anyway I made another cake to celebrate 2016… It was very chocolatey!

  
It was really nice to see lots of people who all live in our building and new year saw us up on the roof watching the fireworks over London. It was freezing but we had a pretty good view!

Ah, the holidays. Still… Half a day left! Eek! I have 10 minutes of my Scandinavian thriller to finish reading, and I’m wondering if I can manage to read another book before tomorrow’s reality kicks in?! I managed to do my first attempt at knitting yesterday. It’s on a loom I bought from one of those random shops where you end up buying loads of stuff even though you’re not sure what you went in for. I am bad at finishing things so hopefully I will finish this! I probably won’t!

  
My face tomorrow morning…

  
I really am NOT looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow. Aside from the dressing-myself-in-stuff-without-pictures-of-pizza-on thing, and the having-to-wear-a-bra thing, I am NOT looking forward to seeing that woman (the b**** who asked me if I was pregnant) who unfortunately before Christmas I ended up having to do some work on the same account as. She’s an absolute cow and I can’t avoid her if I work on a certain client as she works exclusively on that account. Without going into a big whinge fest she also managed to upset me before Christmas so I really don’t want to see her again. Also she could sit at any desk in the office but decided to sit on my row! Seriously! It’s like she’s just trying to annoy me. The other point is that she is now really obviously pregnant so it just is a daily reminder of how I’m not pregnant. (Typical that the biggest b**** manages to come back from mat leave and pretty much immediately get pregnant.) Life isn’t fair!

Other than that, I’m hoping I can manage to get on a good project in the new year. I have a few things in the pipeline but nothing confirmed and I think it’s more than my sanity’s worth to end up on something like last year’s where I ended up working 18 hour days and travelling and not sleeping, all during IVF #1. I’m hoping that I can try and get more balance this year and particularly for our second attempt at IVF. I bought a load of extra vacation days so I am intending during stims that I’ll take time off rather than try and fit all the scans in between work stuff, which was really stressful last time round. Hopefully I will be all calm and zen like rather than stressed and worky!

 

So… Happy New Year everyone! (Everyone knows new year diet only starts tomorrow, amirite?!) 
I’m not really into making new year’s resolutions (other than my perennial desire to lose some of the excess weight and get fit etc) and so I’ll try and leave it fairly open-ended. I want to be happy, and for those around me to be happy. That’s all.

I don’t know how or when this happiness will come about but I’ll try and do my best to encourage it. That includes trying not to feel bad about stuff that I can’t change. I can’t help being infertile but I can try my best to make things happen and focus on the good stuff rather than the frustrating, horrible stuff. (I can ignore work b**** until she goes on mat leave I guess… I need to stop getting riled up about her even when she’s clearly being annoying and awful.) I can try hard at work and do my best to get good results. And I can spend quality time with Dog and T and my friends and family.

It’s not all a trick of the mind, but we do have some stuff within our control… How we choose to live our lives, in a positive way or a negative way. I’ve kind of had enough negativity in 2015 so I’m hopeful that 2016 is gonna be more positive! And if it isn’t, I’ll deal with it!

Go get ’em, 2016!

  

Christmas season…

Or: T’is the season to be jolly, and if not jolly, then busy!

It’s that time of year again and we are on the wind down to Christmas. T and I have tag teamed over the past two weeks (where did they go?!) with social stuff – a couple of things together and a couple of things separately. We always try to make sure that Dog gets enough attention so usually if one of us is working late or out socially, the other one will cover on Dogsitting duty. 

I’m not sure what it’s like in other countries as I’ve spent my adult life in England, but I reckon it all starts to cool off in December. Not seasonally, as we’ve had unseasonably warm weather! No snow! (This is a good thing; I dislike snow unless it is on a skiing holiday. Bah humbug!) I mean everyone gets really busy with Christmas parties and finishing up work for the holidays, so it’s a lot less organised at work and stuff. And everyone starts doing the social stuff. 

I love Christmas. It’s a good excuse to catch up, and everyone is looking forward to the break. It’s been a tough year for a lot of us and so in a way I’ll be glad to see the back of it. But it does mean I’m another year older and no closer to having sorted stuff out with my ex, or being a mother, which is frustrating. Quite frankly now I’m not sure which is less likely as they both seem out of my reach right now! But I guess time will tell. (I really hope to look back on this next year and for things to be different!) I had several times lately where I’ve thought to myself I should be pregnant now. I would have a bump now. I’d be six months now. It’s sad thinking that. 

Other than that, it’s quite nice. We had our annual trip to Disneyland Paris that I covered in my previous post. That kicks off Christmas! We had a pre Christmas party at our place which we went completely over the top for. (Do you know anyone who has a Christmas mulled wine shed in their living room? Now you do!) Before I met T, I thought I was a bit over the top with Christmas, but he puts me to shame… Even Dog has got in on the action (though mainly to turn up looking hopeful at any sniff of turkey).

It’s a time for catching up with people, which can be good and bad. Good because it’s the one time of year that people make the effort to catch up. Bad because it pretty much always includes children. I’m actually pretty good with kids. I’m used to it. I’m the good aunt, the attentive friend. But I do feel like it’s sort of painful to have to be handed a baby (because everyone always thinks you want to hold their baby) and have to think this should have been me.

Still, the weekend before last was double-baby weekend. First of all, I was summoned by my friend from uni who had a baby back in July – I hadn’t seen her for ages and I did feel like a catch up was overdue. The other thing is my friend is quite fragile (without saying too much as it’s not my story to tell, she had additional support from the NHS during her pregnancy) so I wanted to check that she was okay – even though clearly she must be as it’s been five months! 

I had to get up early and hike over to the other side of London to see her. I guess them’s the breaks when you don’t have a bub. You’re always the traveler. Anyway, we had a really nice day. Her baby is gorgeous, a little girl, and was so well behaved that she barely cried or anything. Her husband works at the weekends too so I think it made me realise how difficult it is to look after a baby. She really didn’t have any time to herself at all. I mean, you have to put the baby down in a carrier or something just to go to the loo! (Of course I know these things intellectually but I don’t really know them emotionally.) I guess I just thought, you know what, I am kind of thankful about the fact that I can sleep in until almost midday like I did today (first day off work!). I guess those past 8am lie ins are gone now!

The other thing is that it brought home to me that other people have their worries as well. They find it harder financially than we do. I guess nobody can ever have it all – or maybe they can, but I don’t know anyone like that. I had a really tough few years financially after splitting up from my ex, and I’ve worked my butt off at a [nasty at times] job to get myself out of debt and to try and be more comfortable. It’s the payoff for working 18 hour days sometimes! Thankfully I’m not doing that right now but I have been really busy at work in the past few weeks, hence the lack of blogging… I finished at 1am the day before yesterday, but now I’m off until the new year – yay! 

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is… I think everyone else always has something we want. I would love to have a gorgeous little baby like my friend does, but that’s not how it’s worked out. And she’d probably love to have a bit more money and fewer health problems. I can’t do anything about the health problems but at least I got to play fairy godmother as we took the baby out for a walk and she mentioned she really wanted a footmuff for the pram. She’d managed to find the pram second hand (a Bugaboo – my eyes water at the price of these things) so I really wanted to do something nice and fun for her, so sent her a footmuff through the post. (Us non parents did laugh about the word footmuff!)

The next baby weekend thing was taking my nephew to the panto. I don’t know if you get pantomimes overseas? I assume they’re a British invention but I could be wrong. Only the Brits could come up with something so odd, surely! Anyway we took another kid last year so this year we got a box at the theatre and took my brother’s family. I’ve talked about my feelings before on here – my brother is the guy who has everything – the perfect family (one boy, one girl). I spent most of my childhood feeling jealous / resentful but I think we’re grown up now. Most of the time we get on very well. He’s very thoughtless when it comes to the whole kids thing but really I don’t think he’s known a day of hardship in his life so who could blame him for thinking the world is a lovely place? 

Nephew is the cutest thing – miniBro. He also asked for an elephant for Christmas, so I had to oblige. I think he wanted a real elephant, but this one is pretty much nephew size.  

That’s Ellie on the tube. (Bagged for protection – there were air holes; don’t worry!) He arrived safely and was installed in nephew’s seat in the box in the theatre, so it was really funny. He loved it, insisted on trying to ride it and renamed him Kiki. What can you do?

I ended up being handed niece to hold so held her for ages… She was very cute. But honestly, I do have this thing where I wish people would stop handing childless people babies to hold. I feel like they are trying to convince us to want a baby, or something, and I’m already there. I don’t know. I’d probably feel miffed if I didn’t get offered the baby. They can’t win. But really, I think maybe Christmas is the time where it’s brought home to you that you don’t have one. Still, nephew had a lovely time (although the adults possibly enjoyed the panto more than he did, and were shouting out more!). And it did feel very Christmassy, although the panto itself was rather surreal. (I think wine like we had last year goes some way to making it feel less nonsensical, or maybe you just don’t care!)

The good thing about Christmas is all the fun stuff we get to go to beforehand. Plus the long holiday of which half comes free this year! I think I only had to take 4 days leave and the rest is enough for this (Christmas Eve Eve) to be my first day off work and no more until January 4! Awesome.

T and I decided we had to do some Christmas things (apart from having an entire flat full of Christmas decorations and two big trees, one of which is shedding needles all over our hall). One of the things I wanted to is catch up on all the Christmas films I’m definitely supposed to have seen. The first was It’s A Wonderful Life. We went to see it at Backyard Cinema at Winterville, which is a temporary installation in Victoria Park in London. 
 

I didn’t take any pictures inside the cinema but it was in a big tent, and then you walk through a wardrobe with coats into a winter forest (like Narnia!). Inside we got our own sofa and popcorn. It was great! I enjoyed the film too, although I am the kind of person who questions everything so I was asking about various things about how it worked until T told me I probably wasn’t taking it in the spirit in which it was intended! Anyway, definitely recommend it if you are in London and want to do something a bit different!   

  

Also went for a pre Christmas night out with one of my girlfriends. We had Christmas cocktails, wandered round the shops and went for funky food and bubbly. It’s definitely a good excuse just before Christmas! My friend is someone I met at work years ago, and it’s really funny as we never got on at work but we get on great outside of work. Funny how things turn out. I made her a little stocking (well it was a Michael Kors bag, but it had silly things in) as she split up with her boyfriend a while back and so didn’t have anyone to make her a stocking. Not sure how she’ll feel on Christmas Day when she gets the stupid presents! (I did put one or two good ones in there just in case.) We had a good time shooting the breeze and stalking her current love interest on social media! Ahhh girls’ nights…

Then I didn’t have much time at all, but it was one of my friend’s birthdays. We were due to go out to a meal and a comedy show and I had hardly any time to sort out a cake, so I chucked this together. It really was quite messy but effective. I usually like to have lots of time to make my cakes but once I’d baked this, I only had about a couple of hours or something to put it together! (It takes a while as you have to crumb coat it first and chill it, which I didn’t fully have time to do, and the chocolate went on a bit warm as I didn’t have time to cool it!) It is a vanilla madeira sponge cake, sandwiched together with white chocolate buttercream and black cherry compote. Covered with more buttercream (sprayed gold; why not?) and then drizzled with dark chocolate ganache, and topped with black cherries in syrup. I was quite happy with it as it was kind of what I had in mind, but I would have spent longer getting a better finish… Still, the people attending the meal enjoyed it, including me! 

Oh and if anyone is into comedy, the comedian (comedienne?) was Sofie Hagen and she was awesome. I mean really awesome. I’m terrible as T is really into comedy and I’m not – I like laughing and funny stuff but I have a bad sense of humour, not the highbrow sort or the cool sort. I generally fall asleep in comedy. But she was so funny. It was the best comedy I’ve seen this year and probably the only one I haven’t fallen asleep in. High praise indeed, I think you’ll agree. Anyway, she’s very funny and clever and interesting so you should totally look her up. And if you’re in London, I think she is playing until early January.

After another busy week, last weekend we went out for our annual dinner with my BFF (who lives overseas). We have started a tradition in recent years of always meeting up before Christmas for a little dinner and exchanging presents. They always spend Christmas somewhere else far away so we have to be organised and get everything wrapped up in time!

We had Christmassy cocktails. (Do you see a theme here?) We went to a fancy hotel for Christmas lunch which felt rather decadent. The funny thing is, we had a complete misunderstanding and we had for the past two months thought the lunch was on the Sunday, not the Saturday, and we had booked a different Christmas lunch and cinema… and I only found out the night before when my BFF messaged me saying “Can’t wait to see you on Saturday!” – I almost died! Anyway, we managed to sort it out but that goes some way to explaining the vast amount of food on that day! Here are some pics…   

  

  

  

After a short break at home with Dog, we then popped off to the Elf Quote-a-long… Another of those Christmas films I’ve never seen! (Don’t worry, I have seen Love Actually… I love Love Actually!) I wore my Christmas jumper and they showed the main quotes on screen so I could join in!  

This was so funny. Although people did keep shouting “Santa!” – but what do you expect from a quote-a-long? I’m definitely adding this one to the Christmas films list. (Funny though… I mean, it’s about adoption. It’s not really clear if he stays with his adoptive family or goes back to his first family… Like I said, I tend to overthink these things. But apart from that – funny. I wonder what the adoption activists make of it… Steps away from Google!)

Another big wheel in Leicester Square. And the fastest carousel I’ve ever seen! Think the operator might have been a bit squiffy but it would not have been a relaxing ride!  We also went to m&ms world which I love, but tried to steer T away from the personalised ones as I’d already ordered some for his Christmas presents. Usually I’d be the first to insist we go and get some of our own!

 

And another dinner! It was a full day of eating, but we managed to cram it in! This one was in a kind of speakeasy type place, in the way that it’s a secret door and you have to knock and be let in and its’ down in the basement. It was fun although T has been sort of sick this week and that was the day he was not feeling well, so we didn’t really get to enjoy it as much as usual. He’s had a fever and headaches (man flu?) this week, so I’m hoping he’s well again for Christmas. (Being a typical man, he refuses to go to the doctor!) Still, it was a nice meal and fun to go out on a date night!

  
 

Finally for this catch up post… Some Christmas truffles I made. They are purposely a bit misshapen (or that’s what I’m telling myself!) as I’ve done them almost perfect before, but then people think you’ve bought them! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! 
Now I need to get on with tidying the house and wrapping presents… T is out and it’s the only chance I’ll have to sort his. The folks are coming round tomorrow. Which is exciting. But slightly worrying as the flat is still a mess!

I also have some exciting news on the IVF front! We are going to be starting earlier than expected, probably the end of January! I’ll do a proper IVF update soon but thought I’d drop that news – we just found out this week, which was the best Christmas present. Maybe they were trying to manage our expectations with the 4 month thing. Either way, it’s a nice thought that we should be starting after my next cycle… It depends when my next period comes, but as long as it comes when expected in January, I’ll start down regulation at the end of January and have my baseline scan mid Feb. 

Right now I am going to concentrate on enjoying Christmas. I’ve got hardly anything done today because every time I move, I have to go and cuddle Dog! Poor Dog! He’s currently snoring on the sofa next to me.

And if we don’t talk before Christmas… Merry Christmas! I hope 2016 is the year for all of us! X

Catching up

Wowzers, it’s been a bit of a week!

Firstly, we went on our annual trip to Disneyland Paris! It’s our pre Christmas tradition (yes, I know we were just back from Orlando – what can I say?!) and it’s always a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit. We have already done all our decorations and our tree has been up since November – this is the kind of kickoff into the Christmas season!

As you’re probably aware, there were recently some terrorist attacks in Paris so we weren’t sure what to expect. Also we went during the week as we thought it would be less crowded and it really was – maybe a combination of the two things but we hardly had to wait for any rides. I think that Disney always feels like another protected world, separate from the real world. It is the perfect place to escape to. We had a really lovely time getting into the Christmas spirit, having mulled wine and nice food! And Dog went to stay with our friends who absolutely adore him so that was great! I always feel bad he can’t come but I think he spent the time being spoiled!

Here are some pics…

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 
All in all, we had a lovely trip. We also spent a day shopping and went to the nearby outlet village which was great! I got a load of Christmas presents and also discovered they had Sephora… I was happy! There was some heightened security like we had to have our bags checked in the shopping centre and there were soldiers/police with guns (something we don’t really have in England apart from in airports) so that was noticeable, but other than that it was really just our normal trip. It was nice to get away for a bit. Everyone at work is getting into the Christmas spirit so that helps!

As luck would have it (not) I got my period whilst we were away. It was really awful and early so involved going around trying to find sanitary products – they do sell them at Disney but only in one shop and not to cope with really awful heavy flow. The doctor who did my fibroid op did say it might be worse. Man, it was pretty awful and the only reason I could cope with the pain (and shedloads of blood and clots) was that we were at the happiest place on earth. And the queues were short and there are lots of bathrooms! But not fun! I eventually managed to get some strong painkillers on the last day but ugh, I really don’t think they’re getting any better. 

That meant when I got back I had to go and get my bloods done for IVF and also the baseline scan. Which is a bit nasty when you’re still bleeding although it was tailing off by then. The really weird / concerning thing is that the ultrasound technician said it looked like I had a fibroid… right where is supposedly had the op to remove it?!?!? I don’t know. I called the surgeon and he said that there may be some left as he couldn’t get rid of all of it. I asked the tech what that meant and she said that it was up to the doctors to decide. But confusingly / frustratingly I’m just in this process where I have to wait for them to come back to me so I don’t know if they’ll look at the scan before or after the four month wait – we are on a waiting list for IVF round two so I’ve no idea when they look at it. My surgeon was private so it’s all a bit “He said, she said”. 

I’ve spoken with T about it and we are definitely up for some sort of private consultation but it’s figuring out who to go to and what to ask for. This whole thing is really confusing. Also we don’t want to jeopardise the cycles we are in. I doubt we can really do anything over Christmas anyway so I’ll just give it some thought. 

The sort of nice thing was that when I was in the waiting room for the scan, I got talking with another lady who was there for her first round of IVF. She was there with her mum and because we were the only ones in the waiting room we had a good chat. I was able to explain a load of stuff to them as I had already been through it at that hospital (like where the blood testing is, stuff like that, but also what to expect). We both felt like they don’t give you much info and you sort of find it out as you go along so she said it was nice to be able to ask someone. I told her I’d been blogging and found out a lot through this online community and she said she’d been looking at blogs too. It felt great to be slightly useful in this process! I guess I feel a lot of the time that it’s all outside of my control so it was nice to be able to answer her questions and hopefully put her mind at ease a bit. 

Other than that I ended up having another cake commission that needed to be done when we were back from Disney. I didn’t have much time at all to do this and had no prior experience. I just sort of think of things in my head and it is a challenge to try and make it a reality (in cake!). Anyway I was asked for a golden rhino… I rarely turn down a challenge! Even though I don’t always know how it will work out!

It really was one of the hardest cakes I ever had to make in terms of not knowing how to do it. Firstly I don’t do fondant or Sugarpaste usually so I had to make him out of buttercream. Secondly I wanted to make him 3D and not lying down or in a swamp or something as it felt like that would be cheating. Thirdly I couldn’t figure out how to remove the buttercream palette knife marks for a while and make the rhino skin. And fourthly I didn’t know how to do gold as I’ve never done gold icing before!

In terms of reception a lot of people seemed to like it a lot. Personally I felt a bit dissatisfied with him as I wanted him to be cuter. My other animals like the turkey are more smiley! And his legs were much chunkier than I wanted but I needed to make sure he would stay up and not collapse. I think I was kind of beating myself up a bit. But to be fair to myself, I only had one evening to ice and assemble and I was working late so only able to start after 21:30 so I did what I could! Actually T said he thought it was one of my best but I think he was trying to make me feel better! Anyway, the person who commissioned it was really happy with it so that was good. 

Happy golden rhino time and hope we all enjoy this pre-Christmas week!

  

Life ain’t a cakewalk

Wowzers. I did a whole day class and I’m absolutely exhausted! And now have to go and ice a commission for early tomorrow am… Why on earth do I agree to these things?! It was fun, and I learned some new techniques. I usually only do buttercream so this was a bit of a stretch. Sugarpaste and royal icing!

I ended up with some cute Christmas cakes and cookies. Gotta tell you though: 1) My friends aren’t getting these for Christmas – it takes way too long! 2) I’m not quitting the day job to start a bakery just yet… The effort is immense! 😂

Anyway I’d better go have a snack and cuddle Dog before getting started on the cake… It will probably take me all night! Hope you like these little ones…

  

Sometimes the world seems a terrible place

(or: All is not lost)

I’ve been feeling a bit grouchy/depressed lately about the state of the world so I thought I’d do a brief update and reconnect with my blogfriends to try and cheer myself up.

Because you guys are cool!

Anyway, I’m not properly depressed or anything; I just feel a bit of existential malaise at the things going on right now. It seems bloody crazy that there are random terrorist attacks on people just living their lives; people fleeing from war zones; hatred and xenophobia and misunderstanding. Not to mention the sheer amount of stupidity on the internet, of which I’m probably a part!

I try not to think about those things. If I thought about all those things on a macro level that bother me: polar bears swimming in seas with no icebergs to sit on; rainforests and orangutans dying; people fighting and bloody well killing each other over a difference of opinion… AAAAAAH. I don’t think I’d be able to carry on.

And I see stories like this one that particularly strike a nerve for me – the story of a baby who’s been taken from a father who didn’t want her to be adopted, who looked after her for the first two weeks of her life and yet got taken and given to adoptive parents who knew that her father wanted to raise her but took her anyway. And it’s times like these I just want to yell “Stop the world… I want to get off!” The baby has now been returned begrudgingly to her biological mother (the one who signed away parental rights under duress from her religious parents) and the baby’s father who wanted her, and never signed away his rights (because under Utah law you don’t need the bio dad’s permission – wtf?) still hasn’t seen her at time of writing. 

This stuff cuts close because I was adopted as a baby and I don’t like to think of adoption being used as a tool for rich white people to take babies away from poor weak people. I don’t like to think of a child being “given up” for profit rather than more altruistic reasons. I don’t like to think of a child who has a living, biological relative willing to raise him/her to be cut out of that child’s life. It makes me examine my own adoption story a little more closely, and whilst there’s nothing to suggest there was anything untoward about it (my parents met my bio mum) I still don’t like to think that there may have been a balance of power there that swung it towards something less than ethical. I love my parents and they’ve never shown themselves to be dodgy – but ultimately I don’t think anyone likes to examine the reality behind these things any more than I love eating bacon but don’t like to think of the animal that was killed to make it.

Anyway, maybe it’s just PMS or something. Perhaps it’s the miscarriage in my family and the personal tragedy… Perhaps it’s the thought of another birthday and Christmas without being a parent. Perhaps it’s the thought of our IVF #2 appointment coming up next week. I’ve actually kind of enjoyed the not hoping aspect of not actively trying. (We’ve done the traditional way of course but hold out no hope!) Perhaps it’s all the new babies that keep arriving, who don’t stop arriving because I happen to be infertile or miscarried.

So I figure the only way to deal with this is to have things to look forward to and projects to focus on. Right now this mainly involves cakes.

T needs a turkey themed cake for his work tomorrow for Thanksgiving. It’s becoming more and more common for people to do stuff in the UK around Thanksgiving but it’s still a niche thing mainly if there are Americans or if you work for an American company.

I have made all the cakes for the next few days. Here they are, cooling…

 
Tonight I have to make one or more of them into some kind of thanksgiving turkey themed cake. I’m thinking I’m going to go for the live turkey rather than the roast turkey look. I think it’s more appealing!

   

Other fun stuff: Our bathroom has now been transformed into a vista of NYC. (Look at the bottom left corner.) I think it’s funny as you can sit on the loo and pretend you’re looking over a skyline of Manhattan! It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears for T to put this up… It’s vinyl stickers and it takes a lot of effort to get them lined up straight! He was cursing a bit! But now it looks really cool! We rent our place but our landlord is kind of absentee so probably won’t notice – and anyway, it’s an improvement on what was there before (a kind of horrible peeling paint wall). In theory you can peel off the stickers when you leave, but I reckon we would just leave it. It’s a tiny bathroom and it adds a bit of oomph.
  

My mug that our friends from DC gave us – the Starbucks mug you can get from a variety of places. With hot chocolate. (Ashley you know about my hot choc fixation! This is not Ghirardelli as we ran out of the stuff you gave us, so it’s double strength Cadbury’s!) Plus a whole heap of marshmallows and cinnamon… Why not? It’s been cold and miserable here so we have to do something to counter it!

  

Finally, we put up our tree. Yup, you read that right – we are big into Disney as well as big into Christmas! We are like all the things people complain about rolled into one! This has cheered me up no end. It’s nice to come into the house and see a giant tree and lights and things. One wall is totally fairy lights which looks magical. Dog doesn’t quite know what to make of it, but he’s had two Christmases so far and enjoyed the turkey dinners a lot. And we are having a sort of Friendsgiving this weekend which is super exciting! I am planning a big cake project for it (hence the cakes, not all planned to be a turkey) so I will post more when I’ve done that! The week after that I have a huge chocolate 50th cake to make, and then a huge golden cake to make the week after that – all rather optimistic / ambitious, so they’ll keep me busy.

And before you know it, we’ll be starting IVF again…

That’s all for now folks. Work to do; cakes to make. Hope you’re all well – tell me your plans for spending these cold winter nights! Tell me your stories of cheer! I’m sending happy thoughts your way…