Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ukulele ♥

'Longing to Belong' from Eddie Vedder's forthcoming solo album, Ukulele Songs.

Hmmm... Let's face it, if this album was nothing but Eddie playing the kazoo I would probably still buy it.


Mother Mother

My Mother is a poem
I'll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a powem to my Mother.
~ Sharon Doubiago

Avalon, Mum & I May 2010

“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” - A.A. Milne

Ahhh my beautiful girl... almost 14 months old. I hardly know where the time has gone, other than in a sleep deprived haze.

Last week we were a family of 2 for 5 days, Grant was in San Francisco so it was just Avalon and I hanging out together. It was also half term here so there was no La Leche League meeting or Natural Parenting Group get-together for us to attend and the weather was far from desirable. So a quiet-ish time. I took the Wednesday off work to take G to the airport and also to just focus on Avalon as I didn't want to be leaving her when one of us was already away.

It was a hard. couple. of. days. I cannot paint it any other way.

I rely hugely on G's support, especially at night so have struggled with only a couple of hours sleep a night. I know, I know, I feel like this is becoming a little repetative but it I get out out 'here' I will feel better about it. To top it all off, Avalon would only go to sleep between 10-11pm each night and was up at 4am which is far from ideal for me. But, hey, what can I do, huh?? Taking a multi-vitamin, drinking lots of water and taking each hour as it is.

The poor poppet was also teething something horrid and hopefully we have seen the end of it for another month as seems to be her pattern. 3 gnarly back teeth have cut their way through and her gums look awful. It breaks my heart to see her so distressed.

I have said it more than once but THANK. GOD. FOR BREASTFEEDING-- it got us both through the past week. Her teething led to a snotty nose and to add salt to the wound, Mother Nature also chose Wednesday to catch up with me after 2 years. Bleurgh.

I think A missed her Dad immensely. When we met him yesterday at the airport she gave him a huge smile, buried her head into my shoulder and then burst into tears. It was emotional for all of us but I imagine especially hard for her as she doesn't yet understand why Daddy is (temporarily) away. Hopefully no more time away for awhile.

Avalon now has 9 teeth, she is getting up and down off the couch herself, she is speeding around the house on her little feet, chasing the cat and walking loops through the lounge, kitchen and dining room. She is in LOVE with any and all animals... including snakes. She can spot a dog a mile away with a 'woof woof' and any bird-like creature is a duck-- although she says chicken too. She sings 'Row, Row Row, Your Boat' and pulls this face which never fails to get a laugh from her Dad and I:

She loves her friends and lights up excitedly when she sees them- she is very social, smiles at everyone and yet seems to enjoy her time playing on her won. It appears her most favourite thing is to read her books-- we have so many and she pours over them, talking to herself. She says thank you and gives the tightest hugs I could ever hope for and lingering kisses (READ- face smashes against my own.)

I love her to bits and she makes everyday brighter.

So what else have we been up to? We spent an afternoon at a bonafide summer fayre in Bramley, the three of us took a drive to Weybridge and had lunch and a play in the park. Grant had a day off a couple of weeks ago whilst I was at work and he and Avalon enjoyed a Daddy & Me day, going to trilakes to see the animals.

I am happy as Grant is off work now for the next two weeks so lots of family time for the three of us.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baby Mine...

Baby mine, don't you cry.

Baby mine, dry your eyes.

Rest your head close to my heart,
Never to part,
Baby of mine.

Little one when you play,

Don't you mind what they say.
Let those eyes sparkle and shine,
Never a tear,
Baby of mine.

If they knew sweet little you,
They'd end up loving you too.
All those same people who scold you
What they'd give just for the right to hold you.

From your head down to your toes,

You're not much, goodness knows.
But you're so precious to me,
Sweet as can be,
Baby of mine.

All those same people who scold you,

What they'd give just for the right to hold you.

From your head down to your toes

You're not much, goodness knows.
But you're so precious to me,
Sweet as can be,
Baby of mine.
Baby of mine

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


My dear friend Sarah of Birth Mate UK* has asked me to write about me experience with waterbirth.

When my husband and I started talking about birthing options, I knew I wanted to at the very least labour in a birthing pool. Many hospitals and birthing centres will have (maybe one?) birthing pool but as I was already leaning toward the idea of homebirth, having my very own pool guaranteed for me was another positive to being at home as it is common to get to hospital and find another labouring Mama has beat you to the facilities.

My midwife was very supportive of the pool idea and I started to look around at what was on offer for purchasing or renting a birthing pool. In my ante-natal yoga class, there were a few mums that had homebirthed before and two names kept coming up, the La Bassine pool or the Eco Birth Pool in a Box- which is what I eventually decided on. I purchased the regular size (I am 5'8, if you are on the shorter side I would go with the mini) from Biz-e-kids. It arrived a few days later and sat compactly boxed up until a week before my labour began.

It wasn't until the end of my pregnancy that I decided as part of my birthplan I wanted to deliver in the water. I figured that the warm water would help relax me (much as a warm bath) not to mention aid with the softening of the perineum, and if I was comfortable in the pool then there I would stay. My midwife had warned me that I may not even like the pool once in labour so I kept a an open mind about it all.

The pool was very easy to assemble. We gave it a 'dry run' about a week before my estimated due date (EDD). Unrolling it, inflating it to make sure it was without punctures and fitting the liner.

It is recommended not to fill until it is needed so we asked around and found the pool would fill within about 45 minutes. We also bought an additional pool kit which had, amongst other things, a fixture to go on the kitchen tap that the hose would run from the tap straight into the pool. It took Grant about 20 minutes to unroll and inflate the pool. Easy peasy (says I who observed all this from the comfort of the couch.) After seeing all was in working order, we deflated it again as a) it was much bigger than we realised and b) we have a cat. With claws. You get the point. We also purchased some old towels for the floor and a painter's drop sheet to protect the carpet.

When the big day arrived, I had a bath while hubby assembled the pool again. Labour was progressing well so I could get in pretty much as soon as the midwife arrived (it is thought that the water may slow labour so it is good not to get in too early.) With my contractions at 5-ish minutes apart and dilated 6 cms I sunk into the deep, warm (37 degrees) water.

FORGET what I said about it being relaxing like a warm bath. That is an understatement.


The water was so much more than I could have imagined. I had been using a TENS machine up until that point for pain relief but the birthing pool just blew it out of the water (no pun intended.) After feeling heavy for so long, it was absolutely heavenly to sink into its warm depths- yes, you read that right, the regular is perfect for women up to 6 foot tall.

Being able to move so freely, and to float around was bliss. I spent much of my labour with my arms flung over the side and kneeling in the pool (the base was padded so that was perfect.) I recommend keeping a cold flannel close by as it does get quite hot, not just from the labour but the pool needs to stay at optimum temperature (37.5 degrees) for delivery.

The pool retained its heat perfectly. I am sure that Grant only had to bucket out water and fill again with hot from the tap 2 or 3 times over the next 5 hours (I entered at 9am and Avalon was born at 2.15pm.)

I would absolutely, 100% use a birthing pool again. I cannot recommend it enough for pain relief and relaxation. I don't need to tell you it made clean up a hell of a lot easier too. With the pool kit we bought additionally, there was an electronic pump so the pool water could be syphoned into the toilet after we were all done (another job for hubby.) In my recollection it probably took about an hour to empty and pack away the pool.

If you are thinking about waterbirth, I recommend checking out Waterbirth International.

Happy Birthing!

*Birth Mate UK is a great resource for women exploring their birth choices (and rights) within the UK. Check out the facebook page (a link on the left hand side of this blog) or email Sarah and the team at help@birthmate.co.uk

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My name is ROCKgirl and I am a Homebirth Junkie.


This is probably going to be a very long post as the subject matter is one close to my heart:

Homebirth Advocacy

If you haven't yet figured out from my previous posts, I am a teeny bit obsessed with all things birth related. Mention homebirth and I am all over it, whether the discussion be about women's choices, homebirth, intervention, natural waterbirth, lotus birthing, placenta encapsulation, hypnobirthing, birthing centres, midwifery, doulas, unassisted? You name it! I wanna know about it and hear about your experience.

I won't lie, this wasn't a subject I gave much thought to prior my pregnancy. Even in the discussion of having a baby with my husband and trying to fall pregnant, I hadn't thought too deeply on how I wanted to give birth. As a self proclaimed wimp I had moments of *hoping* I could have a cesarean section (yes I was younger, I swear) which is crazy considering the path we chose.

When I entertained the idea of natural homebirth I started researching online and finding supportive forums- I can by and large thank my wonderful midwife and the power of suggestion as I am sure if she were not so supportive, I wouldn't have had the amazing experience I did. In those 10 months of pregnancy I was like a sponge and absorbed everything I could about pregnancy, natural birth and attachment parenting.

As the 10 months wore on, I became more and more 'obsessed' with all things birth related and unlike some of my friends, I was actually excitedly looking forward to experiencing labour.

The homebirth of our daughter was the most defining moment of my life, so to me, being passionate about the way babies come into the world and the Mother's experience feels only natural, even 14 months on.

I am a self proclaimed homebirth geek. My cheeks hurt from smiling when I hear a positive birth experience. I clapped like a school girl at the news that my dear friend was planning a homebirth in June, and probably looked positively goofy when she asked if I would be present as her doula.

In the year since I had Avalon I mulled over a career change to reflect my awakened passion. I toyed with the idea of midwifery but feel that the politics of working under the NHS would not be the place for me. Then I researched what it meant to be a doula ( I would love one if we have any more children.) So my plan is to train as a doula, eventually working for myself and offering birth support to families as well as breastfeeding support to Mother's; Yep, consider me a  proud lactivist too.

For me birth is not a medical emergency- women have been doing it for thousands of years under varying conditions and in all cultures and backgrounds. Every woman has the right to have a peaceful birth; the birth she wants and it CAN be a beautiful experience. I understand there are times where intervention is necessary but in a healthy pregnancy a woman should have the right to birth wherever she wants and that folks is why I am so passionate about birth choices; wherever a woman is most comfortable and happy is where she should be- and for me, that was my living room, surrounded by candles and books and music.

A quirky story for you; last week I found out my neighbour (who I do not know at all) is planning a homebirth (as I type her estimated due date is in 9 days.) So how did this information come to me? I was sitting in my car in the driveway enjoying a cup of coffee and catching up on Facebook with Avalon fast asleep in the backseat (as she has a habit of doing in the car) and not wanting to disturb her. A car pulled into the neighbour's driveway and out jumped who I could only assume was her midwife, with 2 canisters on Entinox thus confirming I had a homebirther in my midst!

I (embarrassingly) asked the midwife if she were in labour and she gave me a quick 'No', only after the question was out of my mouth did I realise how intrusive it was and as she returned to her car I apologised for asking. But I was so excited... why?? I didn't even know this women! But knowing that she had made an informed choice for her and her baby made me want to do a happy dance inside and felt a kinship with her.(Please note; I am not saying hospital birth is NOT an informed choice, but I can sure as heck say that homebirth definitely is!)

I cornered my neighbour later that afternoon and after very small chit chat asked her where she was going to have her baby, when she replied at home I could have hugged (inappropriate I know!) her. She said she was also going to have a doula and asked if I knew what that was ("Oh yes!") I felt a little ashamed we had not spoken before (Ok, I had tried somewhat, she seems a little shy.) Here was 'one of my people' living right next door to me. She seemed happy too to find out we had Avalon at home and Grant spoke to her as well about what a great experience it was (God I love that man!) I told her she can call on me for anything (her partner is in Afghanistan) and I hope she does- even a neighbourly cup of sugar.

This week I am attending the NCT homebirth meeting to take the reigns starting from June as the coordinator. I am so excited to be able to be a part of such an empowering philosophy. I hope I can make a difference and meet some like minded Mamas (and Dads) along the way.

Quite frankly, Homebirth ROCKS! \m/

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

awesome because...

How cool is this photograph? I hardly know where to start.

The shoes speak for themselves (I really must find Avalon a pair!) plus being a freakin' cool breastfeeding photo of a baby much older than the 'standard 6 months'?? Nothing short of awesome.

I really wish I knew who to attribute this gorgeous photograph to... If anyone knows, PLEASE enlighten me; credit is well and truly due here.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

“Time is swift, it races by; Opportunities are born and die... Still you wait and will not try - A bird with wings who dares not rise and fly.”

So it has been a busy couple of months in our household.

As I mentioned before, hubby is well and truly in the throes of his resettlement study. He has been on courses for weeks on end, all to further his IT qualifications and spends most nights studying too. I am very proud of him and how hard he works, it has been difficult to get quality time together (other then our weekends) but I know the pay off will be grand.

Things are certainly looking promising for him on the work front too. He put his CV into cyberspace and had a number of contacts regarding work. I have a lot of faith in him and his abilities- I know he won't have any trouble securing a new job. It is such an exciting time too as he is leaving the security of the 'army life' after almost 8 years-- but it certainly is time to move on. Once he secure a position we will be moving; hopefully we will stay around the same area.

I started back at work 6 weeks ago... so far so good. I enjoy my days in the office, although it is work I enjoy being back amongst it and have managed to secure a little me time on a weekly basis. Avalon spends Tuesdays with her Granny which is going really well. On the Wednesdays (I only work 2 days) she has gone to various friends places- for the most part it has been fine a part from one very grizzly day-- the fact she was cutting 2 new teeth and fighting a cold didn't help and if I had known that at the time I would have stayed home and had milky cuddles all day long. But thems the breaks of being a (somewhat) working Mama.

My friend Nina is looking after her now (today being the 1st day) and with a daughter of similar age I am sure she is having a blast, she has kept me updated and so far so good.

Avalon is doing brilliantly. I know it is a terrible cliche but she is such a joy to be around. She changes every day and she is just so... fun! I don't know how else to describe it? I love being with her and whenever I am away I cannot wait to get back to her. Seeing her face light up and squeal when I walk through the door at the end of the day is priceless.

She is a bonafide 'walker' now... She toddles around the house- arms akimbo, chasing the cat. 'No' seems to be her favourite word at the moment (hmmmm.... I know) and is so clear! We fall a part with laughter as we can hear so clearly her 'voice'. She also says Dada, Mum, Bye and Duck... She LOVES ducks (well any animal really) and every bird is a duck. Apparently.

She loves going to the park and having a ride on the swings; namely she loves to find her own way and walk, walk walk! We take her out of the Ergo a lot now and just toddle along with her. She is very self assured; she knows what she wants and I love that. It may call for some interesting times in a few years but I wouldn't want her any other way.

She has 6 teeth now. They seem to come through in pairs and the last 2 really had her bothered. The nights are not so great and she has been quite grumbly when I am not around.

On another note, I am really excited at the prospect of my Mum and Dad visiting in October for my birthday... the big 3 0! Where has the time gone? I do not know.
I am already brainstorming day trips for when they are here and the best part will be seeing them with Avalon- they miss her terribly. They have offered to have her for Grant and I so we can have some time away together- the prospect sounds amazing but in reality I am not sure how we will do without her (nor my parents do the nights!) It is still 5 months away so time will tell.
I would love to go away to Sweden, Italy or Spain... 6 years I have been in England and have not seen anywhere else other than Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France.
I think we will be due a romantic time away so I'll get to planning.

I went to my first La leche league gathering last week. It was so validating being with other Mums who have similar philosophies on parenting. Yes, yes, I know that sounds hokey but hey, it makes my heart soar just a little bit. I am hoping to make this a regular thing and will be seeing the ladies again tomorrow. I love having sling wearing, breastfeeding, natural birthing friends around too. I have relied so heavily on my online community of friends that having coffee and a yarn with these women is fantastic.

I have been asked to be the Homebirth Co-ordinator for my local branch of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT.)  I am beyond thrilled. I will take over the post from June and can't wait to be a support to local mums-to-be exploring their childbirth choices.

Exciting and busy times ahead for our family.

What else have we been up to? Lot's of weekend family time; we spent a day at Wellington Country Park with friends, shopping trips in Basingstoke & Guildford, breakfast out at Giraffe, The Garden Room & Caffe Uno, walking at Blackwater Canal, picnic's in the park and BBQ's at home. Yep. Life is good.


.... at 12 months old ....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

March & April Bookclub

So... as per my life, things are running a little behind schedule.

3 months into my monthly book reviews and already I am falling behind with keeping the blog up to date.

March (and April) we had a lot going on; I started back at work and hubby is well and truly into his resettlement work. Also we had Avalon's birthday so I think reading AND blogging have fallen by the wayside.

Anyway, I am playing catch up so here are my reads for March and April.

I didn't know a lot about Jimmi's life before I strated the book; a few hit songs, Woodstock, living in London and an early death. Knowing what I did of his music, As a fan of his music I thought it would be an interesting read. I chose Cross's book as I have read his biography of Kurt Cobain's life and found it quite in-depth. Cross has a way of really getting to the heart and essesnce of his subject.

 But this time I was not as 'drawn in' as I was with 'Heavier than Heavan.'  I found it easy to put it down and forget about. It was well written but I think you would need to be a fan to really enjoy it.

Here is what others had to say:

Jimi Hendrix continues to fascinate, and sell huge quantities of albums, even 35 years after his death. Quite apart from his influence on musicians and fans, a large part of the appeal of his sensational life story lies in the thrill of the era whose values he came to stand for. The Sixties still exert a massive pull over pop culture and this is genuinely a book for anyone interested, not only in Hendrix but also in anything to do with the pop culture of the last 40 years.

Meticulously researched and sensitively and beautifully written, this is a labour of love that reveals the nuances, foibles and tragedies of the human being behind the iconic image.

This is the sweeping, authoritative and colourful biography that Jimi Hendrix deserves and that his legions of fans, young and old have been waiting for.


I just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

The title The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (or the curious incident of the dog in the night-time as it appears within the book) is an appropriate one for Mark Haddon's ingenious novel both because of its reference to that most obsessive and fact-obsessed of detectives, Sherlock Holmes, and because its lower-case letters indicate something important about its narrator.

Christopher is an intelligent youth who lives in the functional hinterland of autism--every day is an investigation for him because of all the aspects of human life that he does not quite get. When the dog next door is killed with a garden fork, Christopher becomes quietly persistent in his desire to find out what has happened and tugs away at the world around him until a lot of secrets unravel messily.
Haddon makes an intelligent stab at how it feels to, for example, not know how to read the faces of the people around you, to be perpetually spooked by certain colours and certain levels of noise, to hate being touched to the point of violent reaction. Life is difficult for the difficult and prickly Christopher in ways that he only partly understands; this avoids most of the obvious pitfalls of novels about disability because it demands that we respect--perhaps admire--him rather than pity him.
--Roz Kaveney

I really enjoyed Haddon's book. It was new and fresh to write from Christopher's perspective and to see his world through such a literal sense. I recommend to anyone looking for a light read.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pour a glass....

... of fine Italian red and loose yourself in this...

Glory Box by Portishead is a song to put you in the mood, whatever that may be...

It is featured in one of my favourite films, Bertolucci's 'Stealing Beauty' and for me it oozes melancholy and sensuality... I will always think of Firenze when I hear it; olive groves, siestas and warm nights.

I travelled to Tuscany in 2003 and played it on repeat during my time there. I remember the bus ride through the region, discman in lap, listening to this as we drove past the rolling hills and villas, monasteries and valleys.

I holds such a special place for me.