Monday, 23 December 2013

What a Year...

...one that has been filled with happiness, optimism and yes sadness.

I was nearly three months pregnant in January and Hubby and I couldn't wait to let our parents, brothers, sister and heck just about anyone who listened, that we were expecting.

February and morning sickness had taken a gentle but strong enough hold to make me feel 'off' most evenings. My sister made a surprise (and very welcome) visit and I felt the first flutter of our little one - a movement that over the coming months would increase to turns and rolls and the start of 'Bump Watch' where I'd spend a few hours each evening just waiting to see movement.

March, April and May saw us celebrate birthday's, what seemed as never-ending visits to the OB and lots of planning. Oh boy the planning! Which crib to buy, stroller, car seat and what name. Choosing a name is the reason why it takes 9/10 months to bring a child into this world...and it took us practically the whole of my pregnancy to find a name.

June was a hot month and the hottest day of the year was when we had to move from our 4th floor apartment to the 1st floor (that's the ground floor in English). I held the illusion of being able to help Hubby. I insisted, he insisted we move the dining table and chairs where I would sit and take it easy. The fact that I had to stop half way up the stairs only carrying our little one wasn't a deterrent. Hubby was right...yes I've admitted I was wrong!

And then July. A devastating month, one which at times I still can't believe. I was nearing the end of my third trimester and whilst my thoughts flitted from names to strollers to wondering which Disney princess our girl would prefer; throughout I thought Mom would be there giving me advice, laughing at my worries and then calming them down. And even though I have an amazing set of people that I can speak with and friends have said talk to your Mom anyway, she'll hear you, there are times that I just need to hear what she has to say.

When we came back, August became a blur of activity - car seat arrived, crib chosen, confirmation of a pediatrician and the minor issue of finalizing a name for our little miss. D-Day arrived (that's delivery day) and my main concern was I had to have breakfast at 6.30 in the morning as there was a likelihood that I wouldn't be eating for a while. I could only have ice pops? Hardly filling eh... The anesthetist came in giving me advice on having an epidural. I was all, 'thanks, but I'll be okay.' His return look was 'a-ha sure I'll see you later.' After enduring nearly 4 hours of  waving pain (they don't do 'gas & air') boy did I need it. Oh and one other thing, I became a published author.

The following months have been emotional to say the least. Joy, fear, worry, laughter...and the pure bliss that I've felt has been (and is) bittersweet. There are very few moments when I don't think of Mom and whether she would think me a good mother and be proud of me. Whilst I wish she was still here, I remind myself that she is at peace, she's no longer tired or suffering. My little girl has a few things that remind me of Mom and that eases the pain to know there's a little part of her still (physically) around.

As the little miss grows and changes everyday, as Hubby continues to make me laugh, as my sister is on her journey to becoming a mother, I'm grateful for all that has happened...the good and the bad. Life is for experiencing what it has to offer. It doesn't mean it will be all rainbows and unicorns, but just taking each day as it comes.

So, I'll raise a glass on December 31st and share a hug and kiss with the two most important people in my life and look forward to 2014 and whatever it has in store for me, for us.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Nighttime Feeding in Six Easy Steps

It's a wondrous thing having to be fully alert at two in the morning. Just as I'm about to fall asleep, the little lady decides to wake up with a zealousness that would have been much more appreciated during the day. You know, my sweet girl, the time when normal people are up?

But having endured several nights of waking up at midnight and not actually getting back in to bed until 5am, I've perfected the steps that must be followed for me to attain some kip.

1. The Hula Dance
Once feeding has finished, I let bubs rest in my arms for a few minutes (read: half an hour or before I nod off and I hear a thud as the little one rolled out of my arms (NB. that has never happened, so step away from the phone to call NSPCC or Childline)). I walk to the crib in a swaying motion as if on the beaches of Hawaii and Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole is strumming on the ukulele, so as to keep her lulled.

2. The Friends
This is taken from the episode when Ross gives advice on how to stop cuddling in bed. You're with me right...the hug and roll. Still swaying I slow down the rocking and then give her a quick hug and gently place her down on to the mattress.

3. The Hover
She's in the cot, still asleep - but no celebration just yet as there's a slight whimper. Thankfully, nothing more. Still I watch, hovering like a hummingbird just in case.

4. Tip Toe Through the Tulips
This is my walk from crib to bed. I place my feet on selected areas so as to avoid any creaking floorboards lest I wake her and Hubby up. Around 3.30 in the morning, the tip-toe may become a trample as I'm too tired to care.

5. The Slide & Pull
My maneuver of getting back into bed without waking Hubby; in one swift movement, I slide into bed and pull the duvet over me. A hint of a smile as I sink my head into my pillow...

6. Ninja Stealth
I'm finally in bed, yet can I fall asleep? No is the simple answer. Instead, like a martial arts expert on a mission, I lie awake waiting, expecting the beginnings of a whimper to turn into a cry and then a short shriek. At this point, I will leap from the bed, throwing the covers over Hubby, stomp over the tulips and lunge at the crying child to start soothing or more likely change her nappy.

The great thing about these 'steps' is that they can be repeated countless times of no detriment to the little one...only perhaps to my sanity but that's not important is it?

Oh and when I said 'perfected' it is - in my mind. The reality is I am a slave to her demands and sometimes none of these techniques work. Ah who needs eight hours of sleep a night? Not me, I'd be happy with just two...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Mum

As I enter the world of motherhood, I find myself missing Mum more and more - she was the one that I would have called and asked 'am I doing this right?' Having said that, when I had to asked Mum a question (some months ago) she responded, 'how old are you Shalini? Well, that's the last time I looked after a baby, I can't remember...' but that didn't stop her from passing on a few words of wisdom.

It's been a couple of months since I heard the phrase, 'Mum has died'. Three words I, perhaps naively, didn't think I'd hear for a very long time.

A calmness surrounded me when I heard. Yes tears were shed, but essentially I was calm. Did I think I would be hysterical, beat my chest wailing if and when I would hear the terrible news? Perhaps, but I'm rarely that demonstrative and the truth be known, I was more at peace with Mum going than I thought I would be. On that day, having been told that Mum had gone into hospital, I didn't panic or start to fret like I normally do but I simply said to myself, 'she's in your hands now God'.

So many ordinary things make me think of her and it's amazing that despite the tantrums I threw and the arguments we had, all I remember are the times we had a laugh, when we would just share a hug or work quietly together in the kitchen preparing dinner. As I think about how I will be as a mother, I hope to pass on a few things that Mum taught me such as how to treat other people, having faith, a good sense of humor - as well as my own little nuances...

Some people call their mum/dad their best friend, but I never saw mine like that, she was just Mum. And it would be easy to be upset at not being her best friend, but I'm proud to be just her daughter. She knew everything about me even when I said nothing. She knew what made me tick, how I would react to a situation. As I got older, got married, our conversations changed and she talked to me as a grown woman - but still as her youngest.

A stylish, hard working woman who could make the most delicate sugar-paste flower to wallpapering an entire room single-handed, what ever she turned her hand to, it worked. She had a great sense of fashion, loved her 'bling' (her middle name should have been Swarovski) and wherever Mum went, she made a friend and had a smile for a stranger.

So as I tend to my daughters needs, I'm both excited and sad. There have been many little things I know I would have called Mum to tell her about for me to hear how she would have handled it or her experiences with raising me, my brother and sister; it's very bittersweet.

But as Hubby said, our daughter wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Mum because she had me - so there's a little bit of her in our little girl. It's a comforting thought and I can't wait to tell our little one about her remarkable Grandma.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name...

The recent news of Kanye and Kim calling their daughter North West, highlighted the difficulty of choosing a name and well, the stupidity of some parents.

With our little one on her way we have that important/arduous task of choosing a name that will be with her for life (obviously). They say a name makes the man or woman - why else would Norma Jean become Marilyn Monroe, Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, Michael Caine or Marion Robert Morrison be better know as John Wayne?

But they're celebrities, you understand why they changed their names. Yet why is it that certain celebrities, who have 'normal' names choose a name that the child may feel compelled to change? Or is it because they are born into a world of money and status that it's of little consequence what these children have to 'suffer' because of the choice of their parents?

What would you say if you knew a Peaches Honeyblossom (Bob Geldof/Paula Yates' daughter), Blue Ivy (Beyonce and Jay-Z's daughter) or Moon Unit (Franks Zappa's daughter) in your primary school? Admittedly, children are very accepting of what's put before them. There may be the slight 'huh?' when they hear the name but as long as you're willing to pitch in a game of baseball, who cares.

I spent last weekend looking at 1500 names. Yes there are that many and then some...I've amended the list of names we've put together, looked at them, coupled them with our surname and revised it (again and again) crossing off the ones that SO won't work. Hopefully we'll find something that we agree on...no Hubby and I haven't quite seen eye-to-eye on some names. We both have at one time or the other given each other looks of "are you serious?" Once we've chosen a name, I'm planning on having a couple on standby as she may not 'look' like the name we've chosen. Regardless, the search continues...

However, what I am sure on is that we won't be calling the little one Beetle. Yes that's the name of this boy in the UK somewhere. Can you imagine being in the playground - "hey, bug boy - pass us the football!"  And when he's older, sitting at an all important interview; "Hi my name is Beetle,"... poor child.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Birds

A post for the feathered creatures of the world, or at least the ones outside my apartment.

I love hearing a good dawn chorus. It's uplifting, brings the promise of a new day filled with sunshine and laughter. It's also noisy.

I have no intention of stopping your morning song, but could you perhaps lose one two of the chorus line? Perhaps even drop a few lines of the song, a little less tweeting and chirping more of allowing a tired pregnant woman another hour of sleep?

And what's with carrying on in the evening? I figured a three hour performance first thing (in the morning) would be pretty tiring...no? Ah well, I can only ask.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Prom Night

The headline on CNN caught my attention the other day. It stated that Georgia was having it's first racially integrated prom: read article. I took a double take - first racially integrated prom? Are you serious? It's 2013, segregation ended about sixty odd years ago...?

It's things like this that makes me just sad. America claims to be this great, forward thinking nation and I agree in terms of science, technology and medicine. But in aspects of life which are just as important - race, gender, sexual orientation and money - the divide doesn't seem to get any smaller.

I could write all day about the injustice of this world but I'm not going to go there - narrow-mindedness annoys me. I'll move on to the lighter side of life. Thestory did remind me of my own prom.

As a fairly new concept to the UK, I remember being pretty excited about going but then the realization that I didn't actually think anyone would take me to the prom dawned. Lord how embarrassing! But I had a group of friends who didn't seem bothered by this concept. And me being me was deep in the background getting the snacks and drinks sorted out, a vague memory of decorations...

So imagine my surprise when this guy I was friends with asked me to go with him. I said 'yeah alright' to find out that the guy I kinda fancied wanted to ask me too. Talk about the proverbial bus, no dates for the entire five years and then two blokes want to take me to the high school prom. Ah well.

The big night arrived and I wore a red two-piece with diamante's thrown around the top. I felt stunning, but to be honest wouldn't have looked out of place at a Carrington (Dynasty) soiree - not really hip. But my date arrived looking very handsome and off we went.

All was going well until he decided to dedicate a song to me. As we stood at the back of the hall waiting for the DJ to play the song, my heart pounded. What was the song going to be? I smiled politely waiting and then it came on. As the opening bars of Color Me Bad's 'I wanna Sex You Up' boomed, I closed my eyes and...well, I can't actually remember me saying anything (to him) or how I ended up in the girls bathroom praying that the song would finish.

My friend came in to find me, I believe struggling to keep the smile off her face, and said that I couldn't stay in here all night. I thought why not? The rest of the evening was a blur, I can't remember if I said anything to my date for the dedication. It was a lovely gesture but...And yes, I still cringe when I think of that moment.

Well, even if they had to campaign for it, I'm glad these teenagers enjoyed their prom together. It's a time to vote for prom King and Queen and have a dance and a laugh with your friends, before entering the new world of work or college.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

This week baby is the size of...

When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately started looking at baby sites. And believe me there are countless ones out there. But I didn't want to become obsessed with looking at all of them.

I finally settled on The Bump - a fan of its sister site 'The Knot' (a fantastic site for weddings), it seemed a natural progression. When you sign up they send a weekly newsletter filled with different articles that, as a new mom-to-be, you'd like to know.

And the main article in the weekly email is - You're Belly : Week X

It's a great, informative snapshot of what baby is doing as she's growing as well as what's happening to you, the mum. I'm fine with all of this, happy to read them. Except...the comparison to fruit and veg of how big your baby is.

Now maybe I need to take a step back and just accept the news that baby is the size of an onion at week 17. But the cook in me just had to say 'eh? An onion? Are we talking shallot, white, yellow, Spanish?' There are many sizes of onions out there. At week twenty, she's now the size of a banana. Again, we've all seen countless sizes of the potassium filled fruit, so it is a tad difficult to make a comparison. Nonetheless, I should stop being pedantic; it's a lovely little bit of insight and I'm looking forward to the email that says she's the size of a watermelon, but obviously not one that's been grown for the county fair's 'largest watermelon contest'...

Oh and I can share this produce fact with friends and family on Facebook - but I'll spare you that joy and just create a shopping list from all the fruit and veg. And when the little one arrives, as I chop away at a courgette/zucchini, I can tell her 'you know you were once this size...'

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Boston Strong

After a winter that didn't seem to end, the sun shone brightly on that April day. As people basked in the warm rays, countless people cheered for those who spent the best part of a year training to run twenty six miles. Whilst others, cheered on the Red Sox all silently praying, 'this will be our year'.

And then the mindless act of two people shattered the lives of so many there at the marathon, even those safely watching the event at home.

How can any individual or organization justify taking the lives of innocent people? People who are consumed with their own little part of the world not religion, who may sympathize but have to get up to go to work, school, college. Questions are still being asked but until the second terrorist makes a full recovery will we ever understand their motives?

I've only lived in Boston for three years, but like to consider myself an honorary Bostonian. It's a great city, brimming with vitality and people from all walks of life. Boston is making its recovery, slowly but surely - and I couldn't feel more proud of a city and it's people who are not going to let this tragic day stop them living their lives. I'm glad we stand 'Boston Strong'.

One Fund - a charitable fund set up for those victims of the bombings.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Times Crossword

I love a good puzzle but always shied away from crosswords often because I'd read the clues and think "what in heavens name are you talking about?" Bizarrely enough, whilst I found crosswords difficult, I'd skip through 'codewords' like Mary and her little lambs on a spring day.(Codeword is a crossword grid with two starter letters and using the alphabet you break the code to find the remaining words).

The nearest I'd get to them would be the Daily Mail's back of the page brain teaser. But as soon as I lifted a pen to fill in a clue, Mother's radar would go off in her brain and she'd yell from whichever room she'd happen to be in with, "you'd better not be doing the crossword!" Reluctantly, I'd put the pen down and hunt for the codeword mumbling that I was just going to fill one in...simply because it was the only clue I got.

Nowadays, I'm a fan of the Times' efforts on this puzzle. At first I'd get about five answers out of the thirty odd clues. But as I got used to their quirky hints my prowess improved and soon I'd be left with three pesky answers that eluded me.

On the days I'd just stare at the black and white squares I'd search the internet for some help. And this is when I came across Crossword Solver, an absolutely brilliant site to help answer those clues that just bug you. And it was here that I came across the Forum.

Most days it's very helpful as often the clues I'm stuck on so is everyone else. But of late it's been bugging me as I'm increasingly seeing, "it's my last clue!" and "oh thanks for that, I'm finished," which is fine except I'm still looking at a lot of blank squares.

It certainly does nothing to alleviate the grumpiness that occasionally rears it's head. So whilst I sound like Mutley as I read, "just need the answer for 23 Across to finish", when I've just started the bloomin' thing, I try take a zen approach and say thank you for at least not leaving me with the final three pesky clues and you've helped me finish in 34 mins or less and not 12 hours. Yeah, whatever...anyone know 1 Across?...

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Just call me Grumpy...

Seems like I haven't started this year in as good a mood as I thought I would. Let the ranting begin...

Shock, snow in winter?

As Hubby and I decided to take a quick dinner out, we ambled down to our local restaurant in freezing temperatures. As we rounded a corner, a tall almost lanky man came towards us. Shoulders were hunched over, face pinched in the typical 'wowzers, it's cold people!'. Then I cast an eye to his attire...a zipped up jacket rather on the thin side but perhaps he wore layers followed by peach shorts. Yes SHORTS. Now, these weren't the typical runners Lycra material, nope these were your, "it's a particularly hot and humid summers day, I need some breeze" type shorts and lets not even go there with the color. Seriously? It's minus 6 and you're wearing that? No wonder you're cold mate - did you not look out of the window before you left home? Call me crazy but perhaps a full length pair of pants/trousers would take that frigid look off your face?

Words with Friends

Can anyone say SCRABBLE? Ooh "triple letter, double word...play against a friend, it's a great crossword building game"...yeah it's scrabble and that particular game has been around for quite some time now.

Brock Lesnar

He's a bully and nothing else.

I blame Hubby for getting me into WWE. Every Monday he'd flick it on and whilst he claimed he was watching it, he'd spend the entire two hours (now three!) reading his Twitter feed, doing some research. Me, I'd sit and stare at the sometimes stupid actions of these wrestlers. Before I knew it, I cheered my favorites, booed the baddies...and, yes I'll admit it, join the audience with the actions (Cena's 'you can't see me' hand wave across the face for example).

Then Brock Lesnar made a reappearance and pummeled whoever came into the ring with him. Except, it wasn't 'entertainment'. It was plain old bullying and no matter what, children watch this. They get influenced and seeing this thug of a man being encouraged to act like a complete buffoon just annoyed me. My ranting to Hubby about Brock's behavior and the WWE universe showing it was met with a chuckle and 'I take it you're more into this than me?' plus a 'it's not real', I'd nonchalantly reply, 'pah I can take it or leave it.' But still, it's real to the kids out there and Brock (who doesn't have a good theme song) shouldn't be applauded for his thuggery - go back to the UFC mate where you belong.

Punxsutawney Phil

He should be fired. February 2nd and he didn't see his shadow which meant an early spring. We're now entering our SIXTH winter storm warning this weekend in the NE. Don't get me wrong, I love snow and can even abide the arctic winds, but c'mon, this is silly.

Phil, as cute as you are - you are so wrong and I'm losing faith in you...(shaking my head)

Ranting over...for now...