Thursday, 21 June 2012

Beautiful Bloggers

The lovely Polly at Caught Writing awarded me the beautiful bloggers award this week.  She nominated me for my ‘beautiful, lyrical pieces about my observations on life.’  What a super compliment. It really did make my day.  Thank you Polly.
The rules of the award are that if you accept it, you post it on your site, choose 6 people to pass it on to, and then share ten facts about yourself that others may not know.  I’ve completed a similar ‘ten facts you didn’t know about me’ in the past, and so have found the challenge of this award even more tricky,  as I’ve been scanning my brain for a further ten things.  I can’t promise they’ll be the most fascinating facts in the world, but if only for the reason that I wanted to spread a bit of blog love and share the links to some super blogs, I decided to take part.  Do take a look, they’re all great reads.

My nominees are:

Lynsey the Motherduck - An inspiring parenting blog about life with a special needs child and a toddler, and lots more too.  The amount the Motherduck packs into life is nothing short of amazing.

Postcards from Pramstead - Honest, straightforward and thought provoking posts on parenting in the leafy London suburb of Hampstead. With a few celebrity spots thrown in for a good measure.

Multi-Layer Mummy - A positive and uplifting blog from a mum experiencing parenthood for the second time. Features some very interesting observations on health and nutrition and also some great baking.

3 Children and It - a newly discovered blog and one I’m really enjoying reading.  Suzanne writes honestly and eloquently about her busy life with three children. I’ve particularly enjoyed her posts on attending parent craft classes, and her honest appraisal of how employing some of the suggested techniques at home has worked.

Three years and Home - Expat tales of parenting in Switzerland plus a whole lot more.  I love Rachel’s passion for enjoying hot beverages from quality china, and enjoy the sneaky peaks I get of her crockery collection.  She’s also a woman after my own heart as there’s usually an accompanying photo of some delicious cake too.

Making it as Mum - A parenting blog with an interiors twist. Catherine is an interior designer currently renovating a new home and shows you how creating a great place to live can be done on a budget.

And if you’ve read this are 10 fascinating facts about me:

1) I genuinely believe that there are times in life when a cup of tea can make the world seem a better place.  In times of angst or stress, one of the first things I do is put the kettle on.  A good cup of tea clears my mind.  If times are really tough, I add a spoonful of sugar (This is reserved for emergency situations only, but I’m sure the added sweetness does help in some way.)
Teapots not always necessary...
2) It took me five attempts to pass my driving test (and cost me a lot of money in lessons.) I don’t know why it took so many attempts.  Ironically, I’d actually describe myself as a ‘good driver’.

3) I do love getting dressed up.  Day to day I’m a jeans wearing mamma, but should we be invited to a wedding or the races, I really enjoy planning my outfit and injecting a little bit of glamour. I like the tradition and formality of the dress code for such occasions - to me it makes the day even more special.   (I’m off to Royal Ascot tomorrow and I am so looking forward to wearing my Kate Middleton-esque hat!)

4) I am a cup half full, sunny side up person.  I always look for the positives.  I believe that the human spirit is essentially one of resilience.

5) I really do call Little Pip ‘Pip’ in real life.  (Although that’s not actually his registered name.)

6) I’m a hoarder.  Especially when it comes to clothes.  I cannot throw away clothes that I’ve worn to sentimental occasions. I’ve still got my going away outfit and the dress I wore to Pip’s christening, and I think I’ll have them forever. This means I usually fare badly when I lament ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ because I do literally have a wardrobe full of clothes (it’s just some of them are just very old.)

7) I would love to own my own business one day.  What it would be I don’t know, but I’d love the satisfaction of building it from scratch and..being my own boss.

8) I used to be very superstitious but I am now far less so. The one superstition I can’t give up concerns Magpies.  I salute and say ‘Hello Mr Magpie, how are your wife and children?’ every time I see one.  Worse still, I’ve noticed Pip has started doing it too.  His version is different though; ‘Hello Mr Magpie, how are you today?’.  You can count on a 3 year old to keep it short and to the point.

9) My favourite meal of the year is Christmas dinner cooked by my mum.  She has turkey and trimmings down to a fine art.  I always feel sad when it’s over.  To me, it’s magic on a plate.

10) I have a fixation with collecting pretty notepads.  I’ve got so many that I’ve not yet used that I really need to stop buying them.  My mum and my husband also buy them for me, and the collection is now getting out of many unused notepads does a woman need?

At least it's easy to buy me a present...

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Books and Bikinis

In the not too distant future, we will be leaving soggy Blighty for sunnier shores.   I can almost feel the warm fingers of sunshine beckoning me; willing me to lie on a sandy beach, so that they can caress my body with their gentle rays.  I can’t wait.  The combination of pregnancy tiredness, the hectic pace of life in the Plum household and the recent terrible weather means I’m really looking forward to this holiday. 

This year I was organised when it came to buying any new items that Pip might need, purchasing them early in the season.  He has now has sunhats/ sunsuits/ crocs/ suncream and pretty much anything else he might need, in all the right sizes and factors. Husband and I don’t generally waver from our default list of things to take.  He always packs too little, I always pack too much. I never wear those 3 extra pairs of shoes I insist must come with us.  However, this time around, I’m facing one clothing dilemma I wouldn’t normally have; what to wear on the beach.  The question I keep turning over in my mind is....Should pregnant women wear bikinis?

When I hit the beach, I’ll be seventeen and a half weeks pregnant.  In my non pregnant state, I would have worn a bikini on holiday without hesitation.  Two months ago, when an early pregnant me considered holiday swimwear for this trip,  I was dead set on wearing a bikini (albeit with good coverage on the derriere front). But as the day when I’m set to bare (nearly) all draws nearer, I’ve started wavering.

I’ve always been a believer that a pregnant woman’s body is wonderful; a sight to be marvelled at and celebrated; that one’s bump is something to be proud of, and not something that should be hidden away.  However, as I tried on my swimwear choices yesterday, staring in the mirror at the reflection of my burgeoning bump, topped and tailed by bands of M&S deep blue Lycra, I started to have doubts.  We’re being joined on this holiday by some friends and their pre-school daughters. We’ve known them a long time, but, whilst I may feel happy lounging like an enlarged lizard in a bikini by the pool, is it going to be a complete stomach turner for them? I don’t want to put them off their Greek salad.  Equally, whilst I don’t usually worry about what other people think, I'm now wondering if there will be a throng of anonymous holiday makers made queasy by the sight of my pre-partum body.  And now I'm wondering, how all this might actually make me feel; I don't want to find I have an attack of self consciousness.  In short, I’m now questioning my confidence to wear my bikini with pride; to stand up and say, “pregnant and proud”.  I’m wondering whether I should dash out last minute and buy a maternity tankini. Although frankly, I don’t want to, because in 32 degree heat, it’s going to be hot enough as it is, without stretching some tight Lycra over my already tight, taut, itchy skin.  It’s a real dressing dilemma.   Should pregnant women be more demure when it comes to beachwear? Did you wear a bikini when pregnant?  If so, did you receive any negative reactions as a result?

My other packing dilemma concerns reading material.  Since I became a mother, opportunities to consume a book in a couple of sittings have become rare, and a few snatched hours on a sunbed whilst on holiday now tends to be the sum total of my annual reading quota.  Usually I have a book or two on my ‘to read’ list, but this year I’m really struggling to find a book that excites me enough to put it in my case.  Typically, I like books with a mystery element to them, if this encapsulates historical fiction, even better.  A few of books I’ve really enjoyed are: Fingersmith by Sarah Walters, The Secret History -Donna Tartt, The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett, Holy Fools - Joanne Harris, The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruez Zafon.  What’s your most riveting read? If you have any recommendations for a gripping blockbuster I can devour in the sunshine, I’d love to hear. (Must be available in paperback though, I find hardback is too cumbersome on a sunbed, and I don’t own a kindle.)

Once I sort out my book and bikini dilemma, I think I’m good to go.  The only other thing I need to remember is my flight compression socks, which according to my GP is a must for pregnant women. I’m sure they’re going to look just great with my new 'over the bump' capri pants. Glamour personified; that’s me.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

3 is a Magic Number

Tomorrow is Pip’s birthday. Three years will have passed since I held him in my arms in the quiet stillness of the hospital birthing centre, staring in adoration at his swollen, blue little face.  Sometimes I wonder if someone secretly pressed a ‘fast forward’ button on life when Pip was born. It’s as though the movie that I waited my whole life for; the one where I finally got the leading lady role, is whizzing past so quickly, I barely have time to capture and register each scene.  The other day he scooted through the park at breakneck speed; ‘You can’t catch me’ he laughed, propelling himself further and further from the mother ship with the power of just one leg.  Expelling a bit of puff and some precious shoe leather, I proved, much to his amusement, yes, I still could - but I know I won’t be able to forever.  Even at this young age, it’s apparent. Despite the fact he’s only three, already I find myself trying to make the most of every moment; to revel in the joy of his constant presence, whilst I’m lucky enough to share it.

Somewhere in the last year, between two and three, my toddler has become a little boy.  I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, it just sort of crept upon us, but here he is standing before me; age three; my small wrinkly, demanding baby has become a tall and lean, easy going, blond haired, blue eyed boy.  When he was younger, I lamented each passing phase, he was growing so quickly, too quickly; I wanted to hold onto each precious moment.  As time has passed, I feel differently;  he can now communicate and articulate so much more, have a proper conversation and make himself understood. I am finding this particular age, a wonderful age.

3 is a magic number because:

I see Pip exhibiting increased confidence without the limitations of self - consciousness.  Every time we go to the park he’ll say;  ‘ I’m just going to go and play with my friends, Mummy.’ And off he’ll go, approaching the first random child or group of children that take his fancy.  Watching how he opens communication and contact, or tries to break into their group is always interesting to me.  It’s not something I find easy as an adult. I watch as he mirrors their body language, copying the hopping or jumping game they are playing or as he unabashedly invites himself to join in hide and seek.  He makes ‘making friends’ seem so easy.

His imagination knows no bounds.  His wigwam play tent gets turned over to become a ship, a broom handle becomes part of the mast.  There are big storms ahead and we both get in and take cover. We sail to an island where we rescue his pet unicorn from a tree (with the broom handle again) and if we blow on the unicorn, we can make it bigger or smaller.  I love the imaginary games he plays, they fascinate me.

He’s starting to demonstrate knowledge of the world around him. Knowledge that I know he hasn’t gleaned from me. Sometimes it’s a little confused, as if something has been lost in translation, between hearing and comprehending.  Pointing to my laptop screen saver, a scene of outer space with twinkly stars, I was informed; ‘That’s the Milky Wave’.  That’s not to be confused with the microwave though, which has a similar sounding moniker;  the ‘Milky Cave’.  His interpretation of the world as he learns about it is amusing and endearing.

He has no fear. My little ball of testosterone, is quite happy to dive bomb into a pool without armbands, even though he can’t swim properly without them. Or jump down the fireman’s pole on the climbing frame, even though he can’t slide down it safely yet.  The daredevil in him also likes everything to be fast. I’m surprised he didn’t arrive in this world wearing his very own go faster stripe. ‘Drive the car faster Mummy.’ ‘Look at me, I can run fast Mummy, can’t I run fast? I’ll race you, Mummy. I’ll be the winner!’

Planes, Cranes and load carrying automobiles are the best thing in the world when you’re 3.  Rubbish trucks are pretty cool too.  Especially when they’re big, made of plastic, have flashing lights and make lots of noises. Putting dried pasta inside them and transporting it all over the house is great fun.  But, putting them all into Mummy’s bed (including the dried pasta) while she tries to have a lie in is the funniest thing ever.

He thinks that doing his ‘Crab dance’ in the middle of a shopping centre is the most natural thing in the world.  Inhibitions? What are they?  Surely they play music over the tannoy so you can dance if you want to? That’s what Pip thinks. 

Kisses, hugs and cuddles with Mummy and Daddy are still abundant.  I love the fact that my son is such a tactile, warm and loving child. I love the fact he demands kisses and hugs regularly. Even though I moan about him invading my bed in the night, there is something rather sweet about hearing his small voice whisper through the darkness; ‘ Can I come and sleep in your space?‘ (Translated - what this means is, I’m about to push you to the edge of the bed. Hold on, mother’) .Undoubtedly there will come a time when the thought of getting in Mummy’s bed will be abhorrent, when kisses will get wiped away, and hugs will get shrugged off, but right now, at three, they’re still warmly invited and reciprocated.

And my final thought; 3 is magical because...

For the last three years, we’ve had Pip all to ourselves. As the song says; we’ve been a tripod, a triangle, a trinity.  I always wanted another child, but, if it had never happened, three has been, and would still have been, a fantastic place to be.  It’s funny how life works out, but I feel very thankful that Pip has had the benefit of all our undivided love and attention for so long.

This time next year, three will have become four as we grow to incorporate one more. I’m sure, once we get there, four will be the new three, but in the meantime, in every which way, three is still a wonderful place to be.  This summer, I’m going to take the time to enjoy our triangle whilst I still can.

Happy Birthday, my wonderful boy. x

Friday, 8 June 2012

# Art I Heart - Monsieur III by Blanca Gomez

As a general rule, I don’t like wall decals, but when I saw this one, it instantly appealed to me.  I bought this two years ago when we’d just moved into Faulty Towers. I had no desire to spend lots of money on a house we were about to rip apart, so only wanted to add small touches to make the house feel more like home in the short term.  I bought this graphic to go on the wall in the old conservatory, also used as Pip’s playroom (for the six months of the year that it's not an igloo). I really like this illustration, I think it’s whimsical and charming. It always brings a smile to my face, and I like the way it compliments a child’s play space without being too childish.

The decal design comes from an illustration by Spanish graphic designer and illustrator, Blanca Gomez. Since purchasing Monsieur III, I’ve become a real fan of her work.  I’d love to purchase some other items from her ‘Cosas Minimas’ project.  Most of the illustrations are only available as prints either directly from the Cosas Minimas shop /Etsy store, and the only place I have found wall decals for sale is here.

Here are a couple of my other favourite illustrations: 

Source: via Mummy on Pinterest
Source: via

I think these would look great framed up as part of a montage of an nursery wall. Watch this space...

I'm linking this post up to the Art I Heart linky and also to the Making it Home Meme. Click on the links above for more information on how to join in.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Things I'd forgotten about early pregnancy...

This week I hit the 15 week marker.  According to the email I received from Bounty this weekend, I should be feeling a bit of ‘bloom’ by now. But like the suddenly disappearing sunshine, replaced with drizzle and rain, I feel a little ‘under the weather.’  Of course, the elation and joy of the pregnancy is still there, but physically, I feel pretty rough. Even formulating sentences as I type this this feels like an effort for my hazy head.  It’s three and a half years or so since I was pregnant with Pip, and I’m wondering if, over time, I romanticised his pregnancy, haloing it with a rose tinted glow. Perhaps I felt like this then, and I’ve just forgotten the realities of how I felt.  Maybe it’s because I’m older, I’m feeling the effects of this pregnancy more. Maybe I have also developed early onset amnesia, because it seems as though I’m doing this for the first time again; there is so much I’d forgotten about being pregnant.  Things such as:

Time goes incredibly slowly.  Every day of those first twelve weeks drags on as though it is a year. That 12 week watershed feels as if it will never come.  You can’t wait until you get past the 12 week milestone; have that all important scan and see your baby bouncing around.  But once you have, the worry still doesn’t seem to go away completely.  Little nagging voices still appear in your head... what about the Downs syndrome results - they seem to be taking a long time? Did you take the folic acid long enough before getting pregnant? What was that sharp pain you just felt near your bellybutton? Those cramping pains..are they normal? Should you have just eaten that feta? Is it pasteurised or not? And you start to wonder, will I ever relax?

Morning sickness is a misnomer.  In my case late afternoon is when I always hit the dredge zone.  Eating seems to be my only way out of it. I have munched my way through more carbs in the last few weeks than I care to remember.  Thankfully, the frequency of sickness seems to be waning now, and the recent warm weather has allowed me to compensate for my carb loading with some delicious, healthy salads and fresh fruit.

The excruciating tiredness of early pregnancy. Factor in running around after a young energetic boy all day, who also considers you a human trampoline, and that makes things even more exhausting.  I pray for him to resurrect his lunchtime nap, because then, perhaps I could just sneak off for forty winks too.  Sadly, my Duracell bunny of a son doesn’t seem to favour this option, so instead, we both sit after lunch staring into space on the sofa, he at ‘Curious George’ on the TV and me, in some hypnotic state of extreme fatigue.

The constant need to go to the toilet.  This seems to hit me most when I slide into bed at night, exhausted and ready to sleep.  My body then seems to think it’s highly amusing to make me get up at least twice in the night to go the the loo.  The days aren’t much better either, I can barely take a walk around the local high road without needing a loo stop.  Thank goodness for the high density of coffee shops (and the improved quality of decaf coffee since I was last pregnant.)  As I understand it, the pressure on my bladder should let up a bit in the next week or so, as everything ‘moves up’; I might even be able to venture further than a few hundred yards from civilisation without fear of being caught short.

It’s always the same foods that I can’t bear to eat.  Things I’d normally enjoy, I just can’t stomach. Namely, salmon and camommile tea. Bleurgh.  However, I have developed a great liking for tomatoes. Any which way really, but I’m finding a sprinkling of white pepper makes them taste even more delicious than normal. 

The clothes dilemma at the start of the second trimester.  Normal trousers are too tight, and tops are starting to not cover the bump.  But, there’s a gap between growing out of these clothes and fitting into smock like maternity wear or trousers with huge bump bands.  Finding clothes for this stage seems to be tricky.  There is one major upside though. Hello Breasts! Finally, I have some again.

The question on everyone’s lips. Once you announce your pregnancy, the first thing that 98% of people ask once they’ve heartily congratulated you is; "Are you going to find out the sex?".  I have lost count of the many times we’ve been asked this over the past two weeks - but I’ll estimate at least fifty (and that’s excluding my mother who asks me every single time we speak on the phone.)  The answer is, we haven’t decided yet.

So, yes, some things that I’d forgotten. (But obviously, now they’re written down, won’t forget again.) And just to be clear, this blog post is not a moan, I wanted this pregnancy more than anything, and even the less pleasurable bits, I’m determined to see as all part of the wonderful experience, it’s just I’d rather they were slightly less persistent in their frequency and fervour. Ah well, can’t have your cake and eat it...(unless you’re which case, maybe you can?)

As I make my way through the second trimester what other forgotten about joys do I have to look forward to?

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Good Week

There's been lots to be cheerful about this week. I like looking back on these posts and reflecting on the good things that happened each week in our lives. It's good to remember the little things that make a difference as well as the big ones. Without further ado, here's my run down of my reasons to be cheerful this week:

Sunshine: The glorious weather has made me radiate inside and out.  Good weather makes such a difference.  Pip and I have spent lots of time outdoors at play parks and picnics.  It’s been great.  Mothering seems so much easier in good weather!

Relaxation: On Sunday we packed a picnic and made our way to the Isabella plantation in Richmond Park.  Pip had a wonderful time climbing trees, pretending to use a stick as a fishing rod and navigating the stepping stones across the shallow water.  The rhododendrons were ablaze in a riot of orange, red, pink and purple and looked superb.  It was a really chilled and enjoyable family Sunday.

"PLEASE - Don't get your shoes wet"....

My new nail polish and a DIY Pedicure: The arrival of the good weather and an overwhelming desire to suddenly get footloose and fancy free in my sandals prompted me to give myself a DIY pedicure this week.  I treated myself to some new polish - I’m normally a deep red type of girl, but I decided I’d opt for something a little lighter and more cheerful. I’m very pleased with it.  Pip’s reaction to my newly painted feet made me chuckle too:

“ Mummy, your toes look so pretty.  Did you borrow my paintbrushes to do them?” 
(If I had borrowed his paintbrushes, I think it’s fair to say, the finished effect would have been far more...rustic.)

Not quite Plum, maybe Rose?

An inspiring walk with my camera: I’ve been trying to get my 'proper' camera out more recently, rather than relying just on my phone camera.  I managed this on Wednesday whilst Pip was at nursery.  It was good to focus on taking some pictures, and I really enjoyed fiddling around and trying to remember how to use the camera on manual settings rather than automatic.  I enjoyed trying to capture some of the fabulous flowers in bloom in the local park.

The bed to myself: For the first time ever, the bed invader decided that he would like to go back to his own bed in the middle of the night.  Hurrah!  On the two nights since this I’ve managed to resettle him in his own bed after night wakings without hysterics about ‘coming to Mummy’s bed.’  Could it be that we have turned a corner?  Fingers crossed.

Last but not least...

Sharing our news:  Finally this week after our 13 week scan I was able to start sharing the exciting news that I’m pregnant.  It feels great to be out in the open; as it was, a lot of people seemed to have already guessed.  It seems I’m not able to hide a bump at all!  Everyone has been delighted for us;  people have shared our joy instinctively and it's been wonderful to know that people care so much. x

For more Reasons to be Cheerful head over to Mummy from the Heart.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart