What a difference some months make

Can you believe it- after about 20 minutes of trying to remember my password for my WordPress account, here I am

So what’s new with you? There have been quite a fair old few changes round here that I’ve been wrangling with, most of them entirely expected but that’s not to say they haven’t been a shock to the system!

I went back to work last November, following 9 months of being at home and I was SO glad to be back- back to something that I’m vaguely competent at as opposed to the mysteries and minefields of parenthood. I was full time for two months while Mark took a bit of time out to spend with Sid, and now I’m doing a longer Wednesday to Friday in the office and a few hours at home so am practically doing a four day week.

To add something else to the mix, I decided to shake things up a bit and have signed up for my first module of a degree in history with the open university.  Technically, according to my detailed study plan, I should currently be reading Dr Faustus while I’m on the tube but instead I decided to blog. Procrastination already and the post doesn’t even start for a week *slaps wrist*

We’re planning on putting our house up for sale later this year so I really need to get a move on with doing some painting- I’m going to be hugely sad to leave but thinking practically we’ll need to be closer to our parents by the time Sid gets to school age (nb- we’re not talking about an epic move or anything- we’re looking literally two miles up the road.  London school catchments are mental! )

And yes, can you believe it,  my tiny baby is nearly one already- can’t believe a year ago I was contemplating the joys of maternity leave and now we’re trying to sort out a birthday cake!  Crazy times

So that’s a wee update at least- I’ve most making random outpourings, so expect more!

The summer so far

Hello! Yep, I’ve done my usual summer disappearing act. I don’t know what it is about July but I seem incapable of blogging through it.

So, a brief update on what I’ve been up to…

-Weaning… I really wanted to get going on the fun process of giving Sid proper food, so (sshhh, don’t hate me), we started a little bit before the recommended six months. From about five and a bit months, I started offering up little tastes of various fruits and veggies, and for quite a while he was entirely uninterested, until one day, he stole the quesedilla I was eating for lunch off of my plate and stuffed it in his mouth. We’ve been doing food ever since! It probably deserves it’s own post in full, because there’s a lot to talk about. I really really wanted to do baby-led weaning (where you give small baby sticks of food and let them get on with it), but it was SCARY! So we’ve settled on a mixture of finger food and spoon feeding, but over the course of the last three weeks, we’re slowly moving more towards self-feeding, which is cool.

-Holidays… Not yet, but next week, we’re off to Devon with my family. Probably in for a week of drizzle and windswept beaches, but that’s what holidays in England are all about, right? I’m currently making multiple packing lists, in an effort to try not to just pack up the contents of the entire house.

-History… For several years, I’ve been threatening to do another degree, and after putting it off thinking ‘oh, but in a few years, I might want to start thinking about babies, and then where will I be?’, I finally realised that I had the baby and my life really hasn’t changed that much, so there was no reason not to follow the dream. What I don’t have is the cash to fund it, so unfortunately for me, after signing up with the Open University, I have had to put it on hold for six months while I save up the funds. In the meantime, I’m doing lots of interesting reading about medieval history (and watching lots of Time Team… which is history in itself- in one of the early episodes they had to explain what GPS was!).

-Yoga… I’ve been doing post-natal yoga classes for the last three months or so and was interested in doing more, so I did a very very brief search on youtube for beginners’ yoga videos and happened across Yoga with Adriene. I was instantly in love- her teaching style is right up my street and I started doing one of her videos about three times a week, as well as starting on her ’30 days of yoga’ series. Inevitably I fell off the bandwagon, and had a week or so off, but I started again today on day 1 and am going to make a promise to do the 30 days consecutively (rather than every so often, like I had been).

-Slimming down… In the six months since Sid was born, I resolutely hung on to six or so pounds that I wanted to get rid of to get back to where I was before I was pregnant. This was no  stubborn weight that was impossible to lose, it was me eating the world out of crisps and biscuits, so it actually turned out to be no big deal to shed the weight. I signed up to myfitnesspal again and started tracking my calories, and signed up for a buggy workout class and got back to where I wanted to in four weeks.

-Buggy workout… Deserves its own little mention- Twice a week I’ve been joining a group in running round a park with a group of other ladies, with babies in buggies. As well as the running, there’s some pretty punishing hill work, plus circuit training type stuff like tricep dips, press ups and the like. It’s brilliant, a nice bunch of people and is definitely working, given how much my various body parts ache the day after! My only slight worry is that I’m stuffing my decidedly pansy-like wrists up by pushing a reasonably heavy buggy

-Hair dye… I had sort of decided that when I was on maternity leave, I’d dye my hair red again, so I did. That’s it really. It’s a bit of a sod on the upkeep, and needs redoing every three weeks (courtesy of Mr Mark- I can’t afford that many salon visits!), but I’m very much enjoying being a red head, rather than my natural blonde

Yep, I think that’s enough of an update! I shall be back more regularly, honest!

Birthday 2015

I’m having a ridiculously extended birthday- It was well over a week ago now, but I went out for dinner on Friday with Mark, followed by pub, while nanny Sue babysat, then on Saturday (actual birthday day), I had lunch with my fam, and after whinging for about two ages that I couldn’t be bothered to go, I dragged myself out and was very glad I did- not quite for my birthday, but some friends were going to StreetFeast in Dalston, so I went along for the ride. It was a hell of a lot colder when I left the house than I thought it was going to be, so as StreetFeast is sort of semi-outside, I took a quick dive into Westfield and Stratford to panic-buy a jumper!

For those not in the know, StreetFeast is a collection of bars and food stalls. My main regret of the evening is that I got too involved in the cocktails (which were admittedly a bit disappointing but pretty deadly) and didn’t eat enough food- I only ate one measly portion of gyoza, which were fricking amazing- I was burping the coriander dipping sauce for about three hours afterwards, and am not ashamed to say that it wasn’t altogether unpleasant! After the deadly cocktails, we took a cab back to the motherlands and went to an awful awful nightclub which was full of teenagers, and danced to Busted. I’m cool like that.

On Sunday, after a birthday party for Mark’s grandad (and a buffet, obvs), I went out with the family Ad for Prezzos, thus ending my food-based birthday weekend. And it’s not over yet- Mark bought me a groupon thing for cuban food in Camden, which we’re going to redeem soon, AND we’re off to the theatre with my sister and bro in law, and there was talk of lunch before that. It’s a good job most of my trousers are elasticated.

Attempting to not look fat

I was in the happy situation that during my pregnancy, I only put on 1 stone and 10 lb. I’ve no idea how that happened- from Christmas to February, I ate basically everything, so I guess I just got lucky! After my baby was squeezed out of my nethers, I was only 10lb off of where I started, which was very pleasing indeed. Because I’d read a lot of scathing articles in Closer magazine of various celebrities who had lost their baby weight too quickly, I thought I would wait a while before I started thinking about trying to lose my tiddly 10lb of excess baggage.

Stupidly for me, I spent the month after giving birth eating basically every item of junk food in the kitchen cupboard. There was a LOT of it- In the lead up to labour day, I’d stocked the cupboard both with sensible dinners and crap snacks which I’d never usually buy, and various friends and relatives kept our biscuit tin well stocked on their visits. I think by the end of the first month, I’d actually put on a couple more pounds, and decided enough was enough.

A month after that, I decided that really, really enough actually was enough and it was time to have a bit of goddamn discipline. Luckily for me, that also coincided with feeling confident enough that my pelvic floor wouldn’t fall out of my body for me to start running again.

I’m slowly chipping away and hope to be getting back to where I started in the next month or so- 10lb over 4 months sounds more than sensible to me. While I’ve never been bothered enough about my body to totally buff up, I have been a running fan for quite a few years, and quite liked having toned legs and a reasonably slim frame (hips and bum aside). I’ve been exceedingly lucky in that I didn’t gain any stretch marks or anything while the boy wonder was living on the inside, but babydom has definitely made its mark on me and I’m more than happy with what is likely to be a slightly softer look even when I get back to my original weight- Support underwear is an amazing thing!

Being a judgypants

I’ve made an executive decision to stop being such a judgypants. We all do it, don’t we- it’s just too easy (and too much fun) to bitch about people particularly, I’ve found, in the realms of parenting.

Case in point- I was talking to a friend about how her new daughter was sleeping, and she said the only way any of them can get a night’s sleep is if the baby slept laying on her front on her mum or dad’s chest. In my head I thought ‘for pity’s sakes, what a ridiculous way to live your life- just put her down and let her cry’, while thinking in my second head  (yeah, I have two- what of it?!) ‘shut up Gem, you’d never just let Sid cry if you could comfort him- you’re not Gina sodding Ford’. Outside of my head, I asked if that meant that my friend or her hubby could get a decent night’s sleep, and she said yep, they slept fine- they weren’t being woken up by a crying baby, they weren’t worried about her being on her front in her cot, and they’d got pretty used to sleeping laying on their backs. And that was when I decided to stop judging other people’s choices.

While I think there’s nothing worse than people that are absolute martyrs (you know the type ‘woe is me my life is so difficult, but oh no I couldn’t possibly do anything to change it, that would be too easy’), if someone’s doing something that works for them, who cares if it isn’t the way I’d choose to do it

The 18th Photo Project

I am a massive fan of those slightly pointless ‘news’ articles along the lines of ‘this man took a photo of his beard every day for 18 months- here’s what happened’, and decided that with a baby imminent, I wanted to start a little log of my growing family. The day I put my plan into action was the 18th of the month and because I know how lackadaisical I am (it took me three months of thinking about this amazing non-plan to actually do anything about it), I decided that a photo once a month, on the sofa, on the 18th would be do-able, and thus the 18th photo project was born.

I’ll be honest, sometimes the photo wasn’t taken on the actual 18th, but the ‘once a month when I can be bothered photo project’ didn’t really have the same ring.

I actually got my act together in January, so here are the photos for January, February, March and April. Mark isn’t exactly a willing participant in this- he likes the idea, but generally can’t be bothered with it, so the photos are very much a quick snap and hope for the best- I get maybe three go’s at most to try and get a decent shot and some of them are looking a little bit rough! Still, I’m hoping as we build this up over years, it’ll be a lovely little archive

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A whole packet of jaffa cakes

It is an absolutely miserable day, and all I can give as an achievement is that I’ve eaten an entire packet of jaffa cakes

I realised a couple of nights ago that I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep for well over 12 weeks, and even though Sid’s pretty much dropped down to one feed in the night now, I’ve been in charge of it because Mark has to get up and go to work in the morning, where as I can have a vague lay in/afternoon snooze. Mark, however, does have Thursdays off, so I’m going to be having a night of respite on Wednesdays (no sign of sleeping through from Sid just yet!). Thursday is now, and I had a very nice night’s sleep, only punctuated by Mark telling me on his way back from the 3am feed that he’d forgotten he had the next session on his tattoo booked for today and so (apologies, wife), we wouldn’t be able to do anything fun as is our usual Thursday wont.

I didn’t mind- genuine mistake and all that, but it’s now 4 o clock and I have been pretty bored, if I’m honest. I’ve run out of ways to entertain a three month old (he’s pretty much doing it himself now- absolutely entranced with a muslin while sitting in his bouncy chair cooing away- no idea why I bothered with a full hour of ‘games’), watched several hours of documentaries (Wartime Farm at the moment, and before that something about early queens of England- my medieval history knowledge is severely lacking- going to have to do some more reading up, I think), done a couple of loads of washing and cleaned the bathroom, and continued with my work on learning the names to the different sizes of champagne bottles… I’m sure it might come in handy one day for pub quiz knowledge (magnum, jeraboam, reheboam, methusela, salmanzar, balthazar, nebuchadnezar… I think… might have got some spellings wrong, mind), and then half an hour ago I found the aforementioned jaffa cakes. They’re all gone now.

Still two hours until Mark returns from the tattooist and I get a kebab for dinner, which after my recent exploits I really don’t deserve.

A little bit of me time

When I was pregnant, I did some prenatal yoga classes, which were absolutely awesome- so relaxing and really sorted out my niggly aches and pains. The teacher also ran a postnatal class and said she’d be in touch six weeks post-birth to tell me more. Eleven weeks went past and nada, and I was a little bit sad about it but thought hey ho, until an email pinged up to apologise that there’d been a break in the classes, but they’d be restarting in the first week of May if I wanted to sign up.

I surely did, even though it meant my Fridays would be a little bit jam packed. Typically the one class that I go to with Sid takes place on a Friday at 11.30, and yoga would be at 2. Class in question is Baby Sensory, by the way. It’s ok I guess- Anyone that has ever been to a baby sensory class will know that you have to sing this song at the start, with actions, called ‘hello to the sun’, which quite frankly I feel like more of a nobber singing with each passing week, and I can never remember any of the actions. The class basically involves variations on a theme of bouncing babies on your legs to a song, waving various things in front of them and a bubble machine. Sid tends to have a look of ‘what the hell are you doing, mummy?’ on his face for most of it so I’m not entirely sure if it’s money well spent, although it is a good opportunity for me to show off when we do tummy time exercises, because my boy is totally bossing tummy time. Seriously, he rocks at it </competitive parenting>.

Anyhow, I decided I wanted to do the yoga, and my friends were paying for another term of Baby Sensory, so I’ve reluctantly signed up too, just on the off chance that Sid might miraculously start actually enjoying himself and will be doing the journey from one side of the borough to the other between classes, conveniently with enough time to stop in for a cuppa at my mum’s.

So anyway, postnatal yoga- what was it like? Well, not anywhere near as relaxing as prenatal, that’s for certain, but relaxing in a different sort of a way- Everyone brings their babies, and they recline on blankets next to us while we do the exercises. The teacher’s little boy was there, running in and out and making stuff out of playdoh, and her mum was on hand to soothe or feed any babies that needed it, so everyone could concentrate on themselves for a bit.

We started off with some stretching on the floor (Sid made sure I remembered he was there by repeatedly hitting me in the face), then moved on to some poses, aiming to help knit everything back together again- pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, that sort of thing, then we finished off with a tiny bit of guided relaxation. We used to do this in prenatal for quite a lot of the session, and I’d regularly fall asleep or phase out, but this was much shorter and had a sound track of various babies squiffling around so there was no danger of nodding off! We all had eye pillows which really meant that you didn’t open your eyes and Clare, the teacher, came round with oils and gave everyone a head massage, which oh dear lord was fricking amazing.  At the end of the class, because the hall was available for another hour, Clare made everyone a cup of tea and we all had a chat, which was really nice and I left the class feeling, while not quite as blissed out as I did when I came out of prenatal, certainly ready to face the world!

Lazy Thursday- election special

At the start of the year Mark changed jobs and now he works on a Saturday, but gets a Thursday off. It’s meant quite a bit of change for him- no rugby for a start, and it still doesn’t seem right to not have two days off in a row, but on the plus side, Thursdays are very much our sacrosanct family day.

This Thursday, we had intended on taking Sid swimming for the first time, but realised that as the majority of schools in the area would be used as polling stations, the swimming pools would probably be overrun with kids off school, so we decided to jettison that idea for another week.

Instead, my day started with tea, cheerios and throwing on of running gear. I walked out to the polling station with Mark and Sid, cast my vote (I was still tossing up the options literally until I was at the booth… went Lib Dem in the end, in spite of the fact that the party really aren’t very prevalent in my area- we didn’t get one leaflet during the whole of the campaign, but I’d done my reading up and I like what they stand for. Plus I think Ed Milliband is a bit of a dick, and I really don’t like the way that our current conservative MP has voted in the past, so couldn’t bring myself to go for him), then headed out for a little spin around the park. I’m still building up slowly- did just over three k today, before turning round and heading for home.

When I got back in, we tag teamed out, and Mark went out for a cycle while I got showered and ready to go out. When he got back, after a brief bit of faffing around, we went out for lunch, to the classy mecca that is Harvester. Not quite the Savoy, but I am a massive fan of the free salad bar…. and ribs… and blue cheese dressing. Merrily stuffed, we took a little wander around the shops to get some bits. I picked up some hair dye, so watch this space on that front! Oh, I should point out that Sid snoozed the whole way through lunch and the shopping- a grand total of about 4 hours. He’s just gone up to bed but I’m not holding out much hope for getting a big stretch of sleep this evening!

Aaanyhow, home time- we indulged in some warm chocolate brownie and ice cream action, on account of the fact that we were too stuffed for pud after our lunch and Sid finally woke up for a bit of a play. On account of the fact that it seemed like we’d done quite a lot with our day, we merrily minced away the rest of the afternoon doing very little and actually, it’s now half nine and the most constructive thing I’ve done is put Sid to bed- We were both so full from lunch, we didn’t even bother having a proper dinner- I’ve just had a slice of toast, some strawberries, and I think I’m going to have a second glass of wine while I watch the Last Leg election special.

Happy election day everyone!

Four years later

A couple of weeks back, we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary- Time has totally flown, and this year obviously is a bit of a bigger change than most what with the arrival of young Mr.

After three years of anniversary year-related presents (you know, wood, paper, cotton, that sort of stuff), we made an executive decision to not buy presents from now on and instead to go for a cool day out, which would involve eating somewhere posh. Happily, last year, I was very generously given afternoon tea for two at the Savoy, as a thank you for a conference I organised, so that was that pretty much sorted.

We dropped Sid off at Mark’s mum’s for a few hours and hightailed it to town. I kinda wanted to go to the London Transport Museum, but when we got there with only a couple of hours before our tea reservation and discovered it was fifteen quid a person to go in, I satisfied myself with a look around the gift shop instead! After a bit of a bimble up the Strand to Trafalgar Square, we had just enough time for a very quick whizz around a couple of rooms in the National Gallery which was mercifully free of charge, but absolutely rammed! Still, was nice to do something vaguely cultural before we stuffed ourselves with cake.

The Savoy was, as expected, ridiculously posh- the sort of place that feels vaguely intimidating and where they have someone in the toilet waiting to hand you towels and stuff. We started off picking our menu- the classic afternoon tea or for a tiny supplement, high tea, which involved more savoury stuff. We chose the classic version, a decision which I’m still kicking myself about weeks later- I’m infinitely more savoury than sweet and am basically an idiot. We decided to upgrade to pink champagne too in homage to the fact that we had pink bubbly for the toasts for our wedding.

First came sandwiches. Little tiny finger sandwiches. I’ve never had such an impressive ham sarnie- seriously, it was something else! Then scones, with clotted cream and home made strawberry jam and lemon curd. We got extra cream and then extra scones. Course three was pastries. In what can only be described as abject gluttony, I asked for one of each of the six on offer. Then got overwhelmed, panicked and couldn’t finish any of them. Around this point, the tea started flowing- There was a choice of about eight million different types and I always go for English Breakfast, because I’m boring, but this time I went for ‘afternoon blend’ which was basically the same thing. By the time the pastries had been cleared away, I started feeling more than a little sweaty, and decided not to take any of the last course of ‘Savoy Signature Cakes’… until our waiter came over and I stupidly asked for a slice of banana and chocolate. When that arrived at the table, I was seriously considering doing a Mr Bean and mashing it up and hiding it in the vase of flowers. The shame! The gluttony and shame!

We really wanted to go up to the American Bar for a cocktail afterwards, but I’ll be honest, I felt like I was going to go bang, and so we reluctantly waddled towards the station, promising ourselves that we’d go another time- Maybe next year!