Saturday, July 23, 2011

'Love is a losing game'...

Today we lost Amy Winehouse at the age of 27...

A talent like no other, yet the music couldn't save her from the darkness inside... RIP sweet girl...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music Monday

Losing my religion ~ REM

The mandolin evokes a wistful melancholy that takes me back to being a young teen, lying on my bed and looking out the window to the green trees that dwarfed our house.... Ahhh... If I knew then what I do now.

Seeing REM at Twickenham in 2008 was all that I had imagined it would be. Michael Stipe is awesome.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(anti)Social Network

I recently spent a weekend completely Facebook free.

For most people this would be no huge feat, but for me I'll admit, it took vigilance, making a conscious effort to ignore the laptop on the coffee table and most importantly stop. checking. my phone.

How did this happen? More importantly, how did this 'addiction' happen upon a self confessed 'technophobe?' I don't quite know. Should I partly blame G for signing me up to this think back in 2008? Probably not.

Let's start at the beginning...

For the longest time I believed that my attraction to Facebook was born living so far from all my family and most of my friends. I keep in touch with those that I miss terribly in Australia- seeing their photos, daily musings and having that contact at the touch of my fingers make me feel like the gap between us is shortened. I love that I can share up to date photographs with my Mum, Dad & brothers with ease. That my best friend Kate, whether in Australia, Canada or Fiji (yes, she has lived in all three since I joined in 2008) is only a short 'inbox message' away.

From that bore a need to express.

I could post notes, status updates, join fan pages, connect with 'idols' and meet people from around the world with whom I shared interests. This connection and creativity became important as I was living in Germany with few friends, surrounded by few people I had any commonalities with before then moving to the South East of England where that situation stayed pretty much the same. I wouldn't say I have difficulty making friends per se, but I have a very low tolerance for bull-shit. It is a fault. But I cannot shoot the shit with  folks that I have no desire to share with. This is also a fault. So what can I say? I retreated further into the Facebook world for my social stimuli.

My Facebook usage ramped up whilst pregnant with Avalon. Within the first few weeks I started exploring the option of birthing at home. I knew very few people (READ NONE) that had chosen to birth at home, wanted to, or didn't think it was kinda crazy. Enter Facebook and a myriad of groups and pages for every little thing, activity,lifestyle, activism you can think of. As I found myself making choices different from those around me I retreated to my on-line friends; these funny, amazing, loving, warm, supportive AND interesting women I had never actually 'met'- here I had found my 'people' and they saved my sanity on more than one occasion. My idea of parenting does not follow the 'maistream' and so I have relied on this forum for support and advice over the past 2 years.

But, like any good thing, there is a downside.

I spend WAY too much time on here. Here being the laptop, but more often than not, here is just Facebook.

The time I spend on-line aggravates my husband to no end.

I have met people who have said 'Oh you're [insert name here], I have seen you on Facebook.' WOW. That could constitute a problem.

I find myself constantly referring to it; 'I saw on Facebook...' 'I read on Facebook...' 'The other day on Facebook...'

Kind of sad. I know.

I have been absolutely aggravated, angered, saddened, repulsed and numbed my what I have read on Facebook extending to losing sleep.

I have lost friends, most of those 'IRL' (that would be in real life) variety and even those I have met on-line.
I am a passionate person, I make no apologies for that, but these passions boil over in arguments, debates, conversations over trivial AND serious issues--- all discussed in this forum.

Social networking is an open window into (some) peoples lives... By peeking into that window we see more than we ever should and know more than we ever should. I cringe when I witness the dissolve of a relationship, or snarky infantile, veiled comments from one poster to another. But I also wonder how often I reveal too much of myself?

So, I am going to make a conscientious effort to spend less time on Facebook and less 'computer' time in general.

My Facebook free weekend was positive. I spent some great time with my two favourite people, even though I do this anyway, before I was over-extending my time- or not being one hundred percent present for them. As the time was only 3 days 'leave' from social networking, I got the chance to read through some of my favourite blogs and reply to those emails I complain I never have enough time to.

I will try to limit the laptop time.

So yes. Less virtual me. More IRL me.


☆ Starry, Starry night ☆

Last Saturday morning I had the privilege of attending my dear friend Nina's homebirth.

Hers has seemed like the longest pregnancy in the history of mankind as she will attest and am so pleased that after the intervention-filled birth of her first daughter, her second was born into the calm and familiarity of their home.

Nina has known of my desire to train as a Doula for some time and with that in mind, she and her husband, Gez were gracious enough to let me attend the birth in this capacity (and as official photographer.)

To be included in such a momentous time in their lives is incredibly humbling and I will never forget this experience, so with that, this is my recollection of the night. This is not Roxy's birth story (as that is Nina's rite) but I wanted to share my feelings.

With contractions coming intermittently over the past 4 weeks, we knew that this birth was going to come quickly. I have spent a great deal of time with her and have felt the tightening of her belly as Roxy wriggled and moved. I joked that she was making it too comfortable for her in there, as Nina has been mentally prepared for this birth since 37 weeks, so suffice to say she was pretty fed up with being pregnant. Big sister Izzy made her entry into the world much sooner than 40 weeks so here she was hovering somewhere around 42 (the dates are confusing and a long story within themselves.)

Nina had called me early that evening to say her waters had broken whilst she was grocery shopping. Her contractions had started but were not very intense so I was on standby but not too over-zealous. I love that Nina has been so calm about the whole process; namely my role during her labour. I was so conscious as not to step on any proverbial toes of the midwife, not to be a hindrance to Nina or Gez and only support her as much as she needed. I was concerned about over crowding her, over touching her (or not enough) but she had the attitude of 'we will play it by ear' and she was so right.

I sent Nina a message at around 9pm Saturday night to say I was off to bed, my phone was close at hand if she needed me (I only live a 10 minute drive away), I could be with her in no time. She said that her contractions had stopped again and so I fell asleep not really anticipating another call.

At 12.45am the phone rang, it was Gez to let me know that her contractions were 6 minutes apart. I dressed excitedly, left Avalon & Grant asleep and drove to their house in the dark- filled with anticipation for what the dawn would bring.

When I arrived, the door was unlocked and soft music was playing courtesy of the radio. The birthing pool was inflated in the conservatory at the back of the house with towels abound. I tip toed in as not to alarm them (or wake their sleeping daughter) and found Nina was close to transition already, she was kneeled on the futon with Gez massaging her back. She could hardly speak and was breathing through her contractions. I went into what I can only describe as 'Doula' mode and kneeled beside her.

As Gez was rubbing her back for pain relief (we didn't know at this point but baby was posterior) I got a cold flannel for her face and neck and used it to cool her down, trying to soothe and calm her. We kept our voices low as possible. Nina breathed vocally through the contractions and despite the intensity of the room, there felt like an incredible calm in the dim conservatory and stillness of the night.

The midwife arrived 10 minutes after I and upon consent examined Nina. She was 9cm. Her labour had progressed so quickly within only 3 hours and I could see her body moving to push. Her breathing had changed to a more gutteral sound. The pool sat half full as every time Gez tried to fill it with more water his hands were needed to massage away her pain.

I will remember alternating between stroking her head, smoothing her hair from her face and picking up the camera to record these moments. 'Songbird' by Eva Cassidy was floating from the radio, such melody and calm in a room filled with intense energy.

I cannot describe how amazing it was to see this little girl emerging into the world, Nina on all fours on the futon as I stayed behind the midwife to photograph as she had wanted.  I remember seeing the full head of hair emerging and wanting to exclaim 'she has hair!' yet refraining as I didn't want to take Nina out of her zone.

Roxanne Myfanwy entered the world at 1.45am on Saturday the 9th of July as 'Starry Starry Night' played softly on the radio. She was passed between her Mama's legs for her first cuddle. Mum and Dad sat together on the futon with their new daughter, basking in the glow of her birth and the love that came from extending their family. Mum had skin to skin, Dad had skin to skin, Roxy opened her eyes almost immediately, such big brown eyes and stared at her surroundings. She was so alert and yet calm.

I got home at 4am and crawled into bed beside Avalon and Grant, Avalon usually wakes at this time for milk and I was too excited to sleep.

I am so honoured to have been a witness to Roxy's birth and am thankful that her parents were pleased with the photographs and support from the night.

Welcome to the world baby girl.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

shellac me.

I love nothing more than a little beauty pampering.

Since having Avalon I haven't had much chance (time/money) to indulge in one of my favourite past-times but today I managed to treat myself to a manicure at Polished in Godalming. It seemed the perfect opportunity as today was the Godalming Food Festival so I could managed an hour away whilst Grant and Avalon indulged in Louisiana Shrimp.

For years, on and off I have been getting acrylic nails. My nails do not grow. At all. And after years of having acrylics is it any wonder? I hate to think of all the nasties that I have had painted onto my nails at dodgy nail bars and have vowed N0 MORE. I can kiss the artificial length goodbye and am Ok with that- Gone are my days of looong french tips (circa 1998)- hello short, shiny, squared COLOUR.

I think I have found exactly what I always longed for- The holy grail of beautiful nails for those Keratin challenged; long lasting, chip-free colour polish that does not damage the nail either through filing and drilling OR *apparently* nasty ingredients.

Introducing... Shellac manicure.

Shellac is supposed to last 2 weeks before a re-do is necessary similar to gel or acrylic tips. Unfortunately I cannot afford that either financially or time wise so we will see how long these babies last.

The colour is Tropix. Perfect for summer. I am normally a 'Whore Red' kinda girl but thought I would change it up a bit and lucky for me I have a Nails Inc polish at home in 'Coral' to paint my toes and (sorta) match.

************************ UPDATE ***************************

One week on and my nails still look like I *just* had a manicure! I love it! Thank you so much to Amy & team at Polished, Godalming... I will certainly be back!

If you want to see how Shellac is done, check out Lisa Eldridge below:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Is it really July?

June was a busy month for us.

The weather has been warm, well, I would go so far as to say it has been hot so, like most of Britain, we got outside and amongst it because we all know it won't last long. Taking advantage of our National Trust memberships (thanks Mum & Dad) we have spent most weekends walking and exploring the local countryside; Winkworth Arboretum, Hydron's Ball & Heath & also Farnham Sculpture Park. Grant and Avalon also enjoyed a day out together to Devil's Punchbowl, taking in a 2 1/2 hour hike 9I had tthe displeasure of being at work.)

The area where we live has some beautiful scenery and countryside. It is what I like to think of as quintessential England... cottages, fields, ruins and greenery. It is this I will miss about the UK when we head to a warmer climate.

I also participated in the Race For Life at Guildford's Stoke Park for the second time, the last being in 2009. The Race For Life is a 5km run to raise money for Cancer Research UK. It was an emotional day for me as I ran in honour of my cousin Belinda who we lost way too soon in 2007. I sucked up the tears and powered on. The run also physically kicked my arse. I am really unfit, I have basically spent the last 2 years (pregnancy and post-partum not in a gym which is a surprise to no-one)- 5km took me 40 minutes to get around-- pretty shocking.
I MUST do something about my fitness.

Grant and I also enjoyed an impromptu date night to the cinema-- Avalon visited with her Grannie Leigh and Grandpa Tony whilst we had a quick glass of red and pizza at ASK in Dorking followed by popcorn and X-Men: First Class at the Dorking Halls... It was lovely, a little rushed, I was exhausted too- but you have to take these opportunities when they arise. As nice as it was to go on a 'date'- I really missed my girl and couldn't wait to get back to her.

I finally managed to get a couple of packages home to friends and family. I am terrifically slack when it comes to sending gifts home; I have every intention to do these thoughtful gestures, I swear, yet I get side-tracked- or the thought I getting to the post office seems to much (I know, I know). To add fuel to my feelings of being a terrible friend/daughter- my family and (a few) friends are too good to me and send me random goodies for no particular reason. I don't deserve it- but am forever grateful.

We took a trip to Petworth Food Festival last weekend and am heading to Godalming Food Festival tomorrow. The weather looks like it will be great too so looking forward to a wander about, and a bit to eat. I am also vainly excited by the prospect of a manicure I have booked tomorrow- my payday treat to myself.

Avalon testing out our new PUJ Go Sling

My two hams... two peas in a pod.

Never underestimate the awesomeness of bubbles

Pre- run (note smile and ZERO sweat)

Has half the year passed us already?

A night like this...

Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh