Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 days alcohol free

Do you know how many units of alcohol you drink per week? I was recently asked by a Doctor. It wasn't something I have really considered lately. I never go out. I share a bottle of wine with DD if he's here, or if one of my sisters visits. As a quick estimate I said about 5 units a week.

On the way home though I got thinking about it. Occasionally I have a bottle of wine myself over 2-3 nights. The week that I was actually asked the question I had been to Blogfest (2 cocktails and 2 gins), had dinner with DD (half a bottle of wine) and dinner with my sister twice (another 2 x half a bottle of wine). Thats more like 20 units!

OK so it was an extra ordinary week, but it got me thinking. I do have lots of extra ordinary weeks. Our holiday in France for example, wine every day. A few weeks ago when my other sister was visiting, I noticed that if I drink for a couple of days, the following day I am actually thinking about drinking again. That can't be a good sign. It worried me a bit. I have a close friend who is an alcoholic, and really, I don't want to go there!

Image from here
I did some googling and found out about the stages of alcoholism. This made me laugh a little - according to this I have been in the second phase of alcoholism for about 26 years. That is, my first alcohol related black out was when I was about 16 (courtesy of a friend's mum's homemade rhubarb wine), but I haven't yet started sneaking alcohol into my coffee!

Having been pregnant a couple of times, and done the elimination diet and the whole 30 I have had a few spells of spells of being completely alcohol free in the last few years. As a result I have become much more aware of how alcohol effects me when I started drinking it again. Just a small glass for wine makes me feel a little rough the next day. Half a bottle, which is generally what I have if I am drinking, actually affects my sleep.

I have thought many times that I should just give it up completely, along with the grains that I have recently removed from my life, but I haven't - that's no fun is it!

On Monday my parents were over and I gave Mum a bottle of wine that I had promised her for taking care of BB for me the week before. My Dad announced that he wouldn't drink it - he had watched a program on TV about how much we are drinking in the UK right now. Apparently we drink 40% more alcohol that we admit (based on how much is sold and how much we say we drink when researchers ask!). Yep - I more than contributed to that discrepancy in the data.

On Monday night I thought I might do 30 days alcohol free. It would follow on nicely from the fitness30 and it would really give me the opportunity to identify what effect it has on me. It occurred to me that if I counted the Monday that had already passed as day 1, 30 days would take me nicely up to Christmas.

Yesterday I thought I might as well go the whole hog and do a full on detox. This is something I have done quite intensely prior to getting pregnant both times, perhaps I should do it again anyway, just in case? So here I am, day 3 of no alcohol and day 2 of taking this new detox liquid which I haven't tried before, and feeling already like my liver and kidneys are being purged.

The lady in the shop where I bought it pointed out that the lead up to Christmas is a tricky time to give up alcohol. She's probably right, I hadn't thought of that, but I do like a challenge. I'll let you know how  I go.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Maybe I just need a new sofa!

I am aware that this sounds rather glib, but it is a thought has repeatedly entered my mind so I thought I'd share as it illustrates my present state of torment.

Maybe its not a baby I want, but a new sofa.

I first had this thought a couple of weeks ago. We were staying in an enormous holiday home with my folks and I was laying on the most comfortable three seater sofa, reading.  Suddenly a thought popped into my head "If I can't have a baby, maybe I'll get a new sofa!".  I chastised myself for even comparing the idea of a baby with a sofa - how could I even think that way. But when I got home I sat on my own sofa and had the thought again, I actually started googling!

My lounge suite is not the best. I bought the whole lot for £70 from a charity shop when I first got the house, and then spent the same amount on 'sofa savers' to stop you from sinking right through them to the floor. It's a good colour though - a rich orange, reminds me of the Simpson Desert and brings a little warmth into my home. Its great that I don't care what BB spills on it, but it's old and smelly and not all that comfortable either.

The thought of a new sofa keeps coming back. I even confessed it to DD when he was last here. It's hard to ascertain whether I am being practical, or if it is just my brain's clever way of protecting me from the fact that the results of the fertility tests might come back against me. I am finding it so hard to know what I really think. I went for the scan and blood tests last Friday, and I get the results in a couple of weeks time. Reality is though, despite what I first thought, with all the added costs, I can't really afford IVF. IUI  probably won't be advised at my age, and could just be money down the drain. Maybe I should just forget the whole idea and move on.

red leather sofa
Red Leather sofa (image taken from here)
So here I am investing lots of thought into the type of sofa I want, just so I know what to spend my money on if the need arises! Leather I think, for the feel and practicality of being able to wipe it clean. I would love a deep red one, just to keep the warmth in my lounge, but maybe brown is more practical when you have a toddler with pens to contend with. I found some sofas I really like at Furniture Choice . They are really affordable compared to other places I have looked. I think I'd want to lay on them before I purchased though…

Aaaaarghhhh! Roll on two weeks time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Memories of Blogfest 2013

Last Saturday I had a grown up day out all to my self. A rare occurrence, which I appreciate immensely, but it's also a reminder that I wouldn't would to go to work every day. The event was Blogfest 2013. I went last year and loved it. It was my first grown up day out alone in 15 months, I was blown away by the quality of the speakers and loved being in the company of some intelligent professional women - and a man!

My blog has come a long way since then. I have written a lot more frequently, and I like to think I am getting better at it. I have started using Twitter, and Google + and Pinterest. I have even made a little money - who'd have thought. Still, I wanted to go back to Blogfest 2013 for another great day, to meet more brilliant people, to be inspired and entertained.

All of this occurred - and more. Having been to a couple of blogging conferences before and attended the practical 'how to' sessions, my focus now is on developing my writing skills, so the sessions I chose reflect that.

Here are some of the things I will remember from the day:

  • I personally found the first keynote session, The New Wild West, a bit of a strange way to start the day. If I had organised the agenda,  I would have started with a more positive and uplifting topic than internet trolls, bullying and rape threats. Still, I enjoyed the session and the stand out speaker for me was most definitely Stella Creasy, what an amazing and articulate woman.
  • Writing Funnier Stuff was a very entertaining session - I am not sure that I will become a comedian as a result, but I did enjoy the session a lot. Viv Groskop for me is one of those people you feel like you know - I'd probably say hi in the supermarket and be thinking, now where do I know you from, and I'm sure if she did know me we'd be mates! Andrea Mann was new to me, but definitely someone I will be looking out for in the future. I also got to meet Kate who writes London with a Toddler, a blog I have read several times, and it was great to say hello
  • Future Minds: How will technology shape the way we think? was one of my favourite sessions. All the speakers were brilliant, it was thought provoking, inspiring and funny - why didn't the day start with this?
  • How blogging and social media can change the world  I had never heard of Helen Lewis before this, but she was an amazing chair and I will definitely be looking out for her work in the future. I also loved how all the bloggers were just ordinary people who did an ordinary thing, which became something quite extraordinary. 
  • Cracking yarns and tall tales, how to tell a better story was another excellent session - things that will stay with me are a few quotes from AL Kennedy - 'as a writer you have the utmost privilege of being in someones head' and 'bad writing is like having a little piece of shit in your stew' 
  • Other thought provoking things I wrote down but have no idea who said them:
What are people going to get out of reading your blog posts? 
Always write in a way that you are practicing writing at your best!
Write as if you respect the person who is going to read it 
Write lots and lots, but only put a small amount out into the public domain 
Remember there is always a gap between what you write and what other people perceive 
Stick to one topic per post  
  • Can you be a Mummy Blogger and still be a feminist? Could you ask a more stupid question? We touched on this last year and it annoyed people then, so a whole session was dedicated to it this year. It was a debacle. I don't really want to give this too much space, but it has to have some as it really p*$$ed me off! The way the question was worded ensured that everyone entered the room in defensive mode, having already been insulted by the title (unless you are a man of course, then you were just excluded from the outset). Things like this annoy me as they make women look stupid. It makes a mockery of feminism, dividing women and pitching them against each other, and sets the debate back rather than furthering our cause. Hmph! 
  • Whilst I'm having a grump, the food was rubbish, signing in took forever, we queued a lot, and the drinks reception room was too small. The location was great though!
  • And Jo Brand was great - we were all extra pleased to see her after the 'heated discussion'. She actually squeezed past me in the drinks room and for a brief second out bottoms touched - that can be my new claim to fame! 
  • As for whoever it was that said that all 'Mum's' that blog write the same thing, here are the blogs I discovered as a result of my trip to Blogfest 2013

         Quite diverse, don't you think?


I do need to think more about what I write on here. I write for me mostly, but now quite a lot of other people read it, which still seems a bit odd, but perhaps I should make some changes. 

Am I happy to direct someone to this site to see examples of my best writing? No, probably not!

I really really want to read more - I need to find a way to make time for that.

This post breaks the rule of only publishing your best writing - this is far from it I know - but I need it done and to free my brain for the next thing - I have a 2 day training course this weekend and I need all the brain capacity I can muster.

An overriding thought of the day was how young some of the presenters are. How can these people be so brilliant and so young? And why didn't I get to that point yet when I am older than they? 


And now to break the rule about one topic per post, here's my Top Tip for Family Holidays

If you maintain their eating and sleeping routine, you can do pretty much what you like in between

On trips with BB I always make sure that the thing we do in the morning provides him with lots of running around and activity time, then after a good lunch we do something he's less interested in so that he sleeps. Happy child, happy Mum, happy holiday! There's more in my Paris with a Toddler post.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Clinic

I have been delaying writing this post as my thoughts change from moment to moment - whatever I say now will be old news tomorrow! For the sake of my own pursuit of clarity though, here it is.

I did actually go to the appointment on Monday. I nearly cancelled it so many times, but finally I made it to the point when there was less that 2 working days notice before the appointment, so I couldn't!

Reasons why I nearly cancelled? I have a nice life, I am happy with BB, it's causing trouble with DD and PP, I am setting myself up for more emotional turmoil, I am not that rich, I am just starting to get on with my business, being pregnant is hard work, I might not cope with two kids, I might get twins or triplets, I might not get pregnant, I might miscarry, I might die in childbirth and leave BB behind, I might be sick in pregnancy and not a good Mum to BB

Reasons why I didn't? I really want BB to have a sibling, being pregnant is lovely, I feel I have enough love for one more, I feel scared of having all my eggs in one basket with just one - scared for me and for him - I might be over protective or smothering as a result, I want reassurance that I am physically OK anyway, I need an end to the what if?

So I went.

It is a nice clinic. Friendly people. Lovely old building.

The appointment was planned to be on CD2, so that I could have all the blood tests and scan etc. but AF decided not to show. I did have a consultation with the doctor though, and a physical examination. The good news is,  as far as she can tell I am fine physically. The blood tests and scan will tell them about my egg quantity. She said given my age they will probably recommend IVF, which is what I was expecting her to say. She also said that statistically 90% of my eggs will be no good. I asked if they screen eggs for IVF and she said it is not routine, but an option for an extra £3000!

The cost is considerably more than I thought. Not for the basic stuff - that was clearly outlined on the website, but there are other incidental costs that could be quite high, such as if they have to inject the sperm into the egg which would be an extra £1275. The medications were also not included in the price I saw, and are estimated at £1500. There is even a possibility that I will have to pay extra if I use DD's reserves that are in their bank - apparently it is different as he then becomes a known donor and there are 3 years of storage costs that they may want compensating for (I think that's out of order personally - surely they factored that into the price of a vial!). The initial assessment will add up to £800+. It's pushing it out of my league really, one round of IVF could wipe out ALL of my savings if a couple of things go wrong and a couple of 'incidental' charges are added.

So I came back on the train on Monday a bit disheartened. A big part of me was telling me to just forget it now. Don't even bother with the next £600 worth of tests and scans. The fact that AF was late is a sign. Give up, save your money, enjoy want you have.

Then I thought, I should just do the tests anyway - so I know.

I expected that CD2 would be today (Weds).

But, I am really busy right now with work, conferences, training courses and all sorts. I was on holiday last week too, to add to the pressure. So I then started thinking that maybe its best to wait until next month. Maybe by then I will have decided not to bother, and so will save my £600. Also, the talk  with DD and PP takes place at the end of November, so I could wait until after then, when I know what their thoughts are. That made lots of sense.


Then my thoughts changed to wanting to know all the results before that meeting - so we know where we stand.

I do have a sense of urgency.

AF didn't show up on Tuesday, so I spent that day thinking that Thursday might be test day. That could work? As long as I can take BB along. I was still thinking that this morning, in between the thoughts of not going at all!

This morning came - no AF. I was still being a bit cautious about my plans for Thursday though - she might show up. At lunch time I switched back to forget it - it's a sign. Its all a sign. The miscarriage was a sign, the timing is a sign, the universe is telling me to stop.

I made plans for Thursday.

Then late this afternoon she showed up. Within half an hour I'd made the appointment. How could I not? It's on Friday.

For the interested - the bloods I am having are FSH, LH, Oest, Prol, AMH.

The results should be available 2 weeks after that.

First run since becoming Mum #fitness30

I just got back from my first run in three years!

It was awesome.

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long really. I always blame time, needing to use every second that BB is at nursery to do work, or cleaning, or something else. I love running. In the past it was my therapy. I like to run alone. I find it meditative as well as exhilarating. Yet the more time passed, the harder it was to gather the motivation to do it.

Having BB go to nursery for a second morning a week was all part of the plan to allow me time to exercise. He started that second morning in September, and I have been to the gym and for a swim a few times, but I still didn't run.

I think part of me was scared of how hard running might be, and that it would indicate just how unfit I have become since becoming Mum. I do feel much fitter and healthier since adopting a paleo/primal diet though (when I stick to it that is!) and do actually feel like need to move more to use the energy I have.

Finally the motivation I needed to do it now began with the news of the forthcoming Team Honk Blogger to Blogger Relay

Team Honk Blogger to Blogger Relay 2014

I signed up immediately. I am not sure how I am going to do it yet, but I'd like to be able to run my section (assuming I'm not pregnant, which I doubt, more on that coming soon). Then my sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday I asked for things to help me get off my butt and run - she bought me running socks and gloves, and an iPhone carrier, and some energy boosters.  She runs too, and so is also going to join me on the relay.

Then during a #paleohour (8-9pm Tues) conversation on Twitter, it emerged that several of us felt the need to move more, so we set ourselves the task of a #fitness30, in which committed to getting of our butts and doing something each day of November.

My month so far has been fairly typical of my usual activity levels. 

1st - Swimming with BB
2nd - Swimming with BB
3rd - 30 mins on Wii Fit
4th - travel in the car for 6 hours to go on holiday - then some hill walking with a push chair
5th, 6th and 7th - lots of hill walking with a push chair, sometimes on rough terrain, definitely more of a work out than I am used to!
8th unwell - hard to tell if I had BB's stomach bug (he was vomiting the day before) or if it was just that I ate food I wouldn't usually eat, like battered fish, and Birthday Cake.
9th - I was at a conference, but I did walk a bit from the train station etc
10th - Lots of walking in Cambridge - shopping 
11th - I went to London to the fertility clinic - walked from Kings Cross and back, google says that was 1 hour walking, and I ran to make my connections too.
12th - nothing really - other than digging out my iPod, loading it with  Podrunner and psyching myself up for today

13th - Today I ran!

It was great. The weather is perfect; sunny and cool, and I was so ready for it. I began right back at the beginning of the First Day to 5 K, which is where I started when I first began running. It wasn't too hard - I managed all that I was supposed to with relative ease, at no point did I want to stop, or feel out of breath and ready to collapse in a heap. I am looking forward to going again, though I know I can't go frequently I can definitely go once a week, twice on the weeks DD is here - I need to make the most of it.

Next time I am going to pop some mini bacon quiches in the oven as I leave, so I can tuck in to a yummy cooked breakfast when I get back.

I am thinking I might want to sign up for a little 5km run early next year to keep me motivated - know of any?

Other #fitness30 bloggers

Primal Park Girl
Irish Paleo

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Book Review

At two and a quarter, BB is becoming aware of the changing seasons. The dark is very intriguing, and now that night time descends before bedtime, he loves to go out to look at the stars and moon. We have also been enjoying some relatively good weather for the time of year, and last Wednesday, BB and I took a lovely walk along a wooded track, and soaked up some of the autumn sunshine.

I love this time of year, when the sun shines in a clear blue sky and the air is as crisp as the falling leaves. I missed the autumn leaf drop during my years in the desert and was keen to get out and show BB the joys of kicking though the crunchy leaves.

He needed no showing at all. It seems that kicking through fallen leaves is an instinctive behaviour, as is rolling in them. Watching him delight in these simple pleasures was great. How brilliant is childhood. Several times he rolled on his back and just lay there, looking up, saying "Hello trees" and in the end I had to join in!

Hello trees

When we got home, a large letter was waiting. Inside was a new book, Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear

Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Book Review
Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Cover Illustration

Big Brown Bear doesn't want to go to bed - he'll miss Autumn, with it's crunchy leaves, and Winter, with it's sparkly snow. His friends promise to wake him up, but nothing works! So they come up with a clever plan...
We couldn't believe it. How perfect that a book about the joys of rolling in the autumn leaves should have arrived - we had to read it at once!

As you might predict from the description, the story is about a bear who doesn't want to hibernate (described as a long sleep) as he know this means he will miss out on Autumn and Winter. He wants to roll in crunchy leaves, jump in giant puddles and make a snow bear. His friends promise to wake him up when the forest is a carpet of leaves, and when the rain comes tumbling down…

But they can't. Big Bear won't wake up!

His friends have some very clever ideas though.

Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Book Review

Obviously we loved this book just because of the timeliness of it's arrival, but now that we have read it a few times, we love it for other reasons too. It is a tale of friendship and doing nice things purely for someone else's pleasure. It is beautifully illustrated and well written. It gives you the opportunity to discuss changing seasons, and hibernation.

The only thing I don't like is that the text is all different sizes. I am fine with that in some cases, for example when they are shouting wakey wakey at the bear, larger text works well to show a big, loud voice, or  just using a larger font for the dialogue in general is good too - but there are too many different sizes here, it appears quite random and to me it seems untidy.

Don't let that put you off the book though, it is a great little book for toddler that loves exploring the natural world and deserves a place on the book shelf.

Disclaimer - we received this book free of charge for the purpose of this review as part of the Parragon Book Buddies Scheme. No payment was received for writing this post, and the opinions are entirely our own.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

BB's friends

Whilst we were getting ready for BB's bath tonight, his attention was drawn to this friendship stone from the bathroom windowsill.

He was curious. He thought it was a bit egg shaped, and also wondered why I have a stone in the house. He wanted to take it outside, something I frequently ask him to do as he is a bit of a stone collector.

So I sat down with him to tell him about this stone. It is a very special stone. It was given to me by one of my closest friends, the friend that connected DD and I, without whom BB would not exist. I told him about my friend, and then we started talking about his friends. I started the list. Lily is your friend. Thomas is your friend… and he continued "Fia my friend, Noah my friend, Daddy my Friend, Mama my friend…"

He listed pretty much every one we know.

Everyone, except me!

"What about me?" I asked, "Am I your friend?"

He looked at me like I was crazy! "No, [giggle - interpret as don't be silly], you're Mummy!"