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Life with Lavendar in London town

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Introducing Charlotte....

In early October, I ran a half marathon to raise money towards a cure for Retts Syndrome.  I did it because Charlotte has been diagnosed with this condition.  Once I started reading up on Retts, it was evident that it was not a well - known condition with lots of celebrity backing and a public profile; unlike conditions such as Downs Syndrome or autism. Ninety percent of people who donated to my campaign had never heard of it before.

Why is Retts so hidden?

Her mum Caroline started to write a blog about Charlotte's journey.  Here you can find out more about the day-to-day life of Charlotte in her mother's words.



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Do You Believe in Magic?

In the month following my birthday, I have been thinking a lot about magic.

Do you believe in magic?

I think you'll find that you do. Even if that is not the term you would use.

The Chinese call it chi; the energy or life force that is in everything. Catholics call it the work of miracles ( and yes, a virgin birth would be that indeed). Jung wrapped it up in his theory of synchronicity. Pagan traditions found that mysticism and nature were one and the same.

Whatever you choose to call it, whatever framework you decide to put it in, when magic happens, you know.

As adults, many of us try to rationalise what we see as extraordinairy or inexplicable events. It's tough being an "adult" to live with the openness that most of us are born with. With bills, mortgages, housework and all the other daily concerns that we must endure; it is hard to remain unblinkered. It is hard to do as William Blake says:

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man[sic] as it is; infinite. For man [sic] has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

Blake was considered a bit mad in his time. But I think most visionaries who are ahead of their time are. As Groucho Marx said:

Blessed are the cracked for they shall let in the light.

Another well known crackpot who we now revere, said:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He [sic] to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his[ sic] eyes are closed. - Einstein

As a child, magic was everywhere for me. I think it must be like this for most children unless they are dissuaded by their elders and taught to repress it.

Either that or you just forget. You "grow up".

What a shame that we allow that to happen. Some adults manage to hang onto it though. Some go on to do very well.  Someone who did very well out of it was the fellow below:

It's true isn't it?  If you don't want to see it, you won't.

But isn't life much more marvellous when you do?


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Birthday Bliss

It's my birthday. Another year under my belt and what a year it's been. I am pretty chuffed to be honest. I never thought that thirty-nine would feel......good.

I feel good.

They call it the Dirty Thirties.  Dirt has certainly been a feature of my thirties. I moved to London; the smelly, polluted city that I love. I had a baby whose poos are so legendary that they are known at her nursery as Dragon Specials. I learned more and more that life is not fair.  It's a crapshoot.

All you can do is roll with it and turn it to your advantage.

So in that spirit I decided that today was to be about INDULGENCE.

Breakfast at my favourite new spot in London,  the Delaunay followed by a new hair do at J. Moriyama. Then to Bliss Spa for their super dooper oxygen treatment which is probably a case of getting a few hundred quid out of your wallet and burning it (We'll see, watch this space) Then some time with Dragon before a night of latin dancing and dinner with the Husband.

Thoroughly frivolous and I am going to soak up every single minute of it.

Bring on the Naughty Forties. Living life the way you want and to hell with the rest.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Mortal Engine

A few weeks ago I found out that Chunky Move were touring to London to perform Mortal Engine at the Southbank Centre.

I am going to see Chunky Move, I told the Husband. Can you look after Dragon that night?

Who is Chunky? he asked. Why do you want to see him move?

Chunky Move is an Australian contemporary dance company based in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded by Gideon Obarzanek in the mid 90's, they have been on my radar since 2003 when I lived in Melbourne and took classes at their studios. Their HQ resembled a big bar of chocolate which had been gnawed at by a giant rat:

Cadbury or Nestle?
Inside the windowless studios which were painted a honeycomb yellow, I would take weekly contemporary classes, wondering if I would catch a glimpse of Mr Obarzanek looking artistic and moody. The dancers from his company often taught our classes and over time, I came to view Chunky Move as a dance home by default.

Artistic? Moody? Nah....

On Saturday night, I was the first to enter the empty Queen Elizabeth Hall theatre. As I took my seat and watched the audience come in, I saw Gideon Obarzanek walking down the aisle, takeway coffee in hand, looking like, well, Gideon Obarzanek. I felt like shouting Hi! before I realised he did not know me even though his company felt like a piece of my past.

Mortal Engine is known for being a contemporary dance piece which wholly embraces motion capture video and sound responsive projections as part of its choreography. The technology utilised is not an adjunct to the piece but very much an equal performer in its own right. In his notes, Obarzanek, describes the work as a dance-video-music-laser performance.

Usually this kind of thing turns me right off a dance piece. I often feel that if the work is good, it doesn't need the flashiness of lights and lasers to embellish it.

Mortal Engine proved me wrong. As I watched the piece unfold, I marvelled how he had seamlessly integrated all the different components together to create some wonderful performance moments that were fresh to my eye. The sceptic in me got a big slap.

There was also slightly too much laser and noise work at times, making me feel as if I were trapped in a bad rave venue. And some choreography which made me wonder if Obarzanek is bored with bodies.

Nonetheless I left excited about what this work it meant for the future of dance. And curious as to how quickly all the London creatives in the audience that night will start to adopt these methods into their own work.

Congrats Gideon. Good job.


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Goodbye to All That. Part II

Yesterday I deactivated my Facebook account.  For months I had been itching to do it but could not because of my fundraising efforts for Retts Syndrome. Love it or loathe it, Facebook is a great social platform for spreading the word.

The reason I have come off Facebook is that I wanted to get rid of half of my "friends". I didn't know how to do this without pissing people off.  So I thought I'd take myself off instead. I realised during my months of fundraising that many of these "friends" were not. I don't have it in me right now for people who take my energy and give nothing back in return. Adios!

Bye Bye Facebook. I'll miss you (for a week)

I also need time to work on a special project that has been in the pipeline for many years. Facebook is the best excuse for dithering and not doing what you should. So I figured, no Facebook. No excuses. We'll see. I have a two month gap in my life to give his project momentum. 

And for this project to take flight, I need the time to stare and dream and think. I need the creative space which I have made no time for in the past two or three years.

I need to create rather than react.

It's been 24 hours and it feels weird in this post Facebook space. I feel like an addict that is coming off her drug of choice.

I've promised myself that once the project is past it first stages, I can log back into Facebook and unleash my inner nosy parker.

Who knows. Maybe I won't want to by then.


Monday, 1 October 2012

Goodbye to All That

After I had given birth, running seemed as possible as flying. My life as a runner was over I decided. I stashed all my running clothes away in a dark corner of my closet where I expected them to moulder away. I knew that I would NEVER wear lycra again.

As my body healed along with my mind (yes, your mind also needs to recover from birth), I made a few feeble attempts of hitting the pavements. But it didn't feel right, My body was still awash with breastfeeding hormones and I felt like I was hauling around the body of a cow, not my own.

Over! my burning lungs screamed at me as I came back from the run/stagger around the block. Your running days are O-VAH.

Then winter came. The worst winter of my life. My baby got sick. And stayed sick for six long months.  Then I got sick and stayed sick despite seven courses of antibiotics. One day, I lost my rag. I pulled on my rusty trainers, went outside and ran.

I ran and ran and ran to escape the long, cold months of coughing, infection, medication upon medication, ignorant doctors, despair and the hard reality of parenting. I was so pissed off.

In my mind I ran like a gazelle but in filmed reality it was probably more like a goat.

On surviving that run, I set myself the goal of completing a 5K, 10K and half marathon all before the end of 2012. 

This coming weekend will see the completion of those three goals. I have done my 5K and 10K.  Once the Royal Parks Half Marathon ends this Sunday, I will have done all three. And also raised a sum of money towards curing Retts Syndrome.  Which makes it the most important race I have ever done to date.

Which will also make it the last.

The sum total of reclaiming running is that I realise that long distance running is not for me anymore.**

It's good to stop something when you want to rather than when you have to. I'm glad I ran again to know that I didn't want to anymore.

Gruelling long training runs in the cold and wet. No energy for anything else for the rest of the day. Repetitive strain on aging joints. No time for any other hobbies because of training.

Goodbye to all that.

** I will however continue to compete in 10K races due to the lower level of committmet to training they require, as well as trail running which I love.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Cha Cha Charleston!

I've been back at work now for three months and boy, those three months have been jammed pack. As any working parent knows, to work at your job, to look after your family, to look after yourself, to look after all the infrastructure (house, plants, etc) to have a social life, to keep doing some things that are important... you gotta be on the ball 24/7. You have to have the organisational skills par excellence. You need to be Superwoman!

Which I believe all mums are.

This mum looked after herself a few weeks ago and took herself, her husband and some friends to watch Cantina at the Priceless London Underground;  a carnival site that has been set up next to the Southbank Centre.  Cantina caught my eye because it is an Australian show that it is held in a Spiegeltent.  Spiegeltents really capture the romantic, lavish and slightly dark entertainment quality pertaining to carnival/burlesque/cabarte/circus acts of years gone by. The one that hosted Cantina was from the 1920s and looked something like this:

Inside the Spiegeltent during Cantina
Cantina itself was a show worth seeing. Dark, slightly twisted, humorous and at times, uncomfortable, it was not your normal cabaret-circus-one-trick-pony. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the performances, I loved the live music and I just loved the sections where the performers did the Charleston.

They all look slightly bonkers. What's not to love?

There is something about the Charleston that makes me happy. I am no expert but whenever I break out into those jerky moves, I can't stop smiling.

So inspired was I by the tone of the evening that I decided to go to a Charleston dance night. I found one happening four days later hosted by The Bees Knees at Wild Times which is an evening run by the London Swing Dance Society.

A friend gamely came along for the ride and after a swift drink at the local pub, we found ourselves flapping and swinging, twisting and kicking in a underground basement that looked like a studio den from the 1970's. Our teacher taught us a whole routine and whilst her teaching manner was a bit under par; the moves she taught us were pure 1920s jazz, baby!

It was a big dose of performance and dance bliss. Something I sorely needed and won't neglect for too long again.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Retts Syndrome

I am fundraising for Retts Syndrome.

My friends daughter was diagnosed with this recently. It's not news that any parent wants to hear about their child. If you want to know more about it, read this

I am all the way over here in London. She is in Australia. But at times like this, distance is nothing. If you really want to be there for someone, you can be.

Of course an email or a phone call sometimes can not substitute for a hug and a shared cup of tea. But needs must.

Since I received the news, I have thought a lot about the nature of giving. I have a theory in life.

I believe people are either those that lift, or those that lean. 

Aim for this in life

Life can change you of course from a lifter to a leaner or vice versa. Or you can be a lifter in one friendship and a leaner in another.

But overall, people have a basic inclination to veer towards one way or the other.

The leaners, on hearing of other peoples misfortunes tend to say:
Oh I am so sorry. If there's anything I can do, let me know.

And then they go back to their lives. Sometimes I think it would be better if they had said nothing at all.

And not so much this...unless you are doing a MJ dance move

The lifters on the other hand, are people who show up unannounced at your doorstep with enough cooked food to last your family at least a week. They go into your kitchen and wash up the mountain of dirty dishes that have accumulated. They do your laundry. They babysit and force you to have some time to yourself. They send you little things to remind you that they are thinking of you. They sit with you over wine/tea/coffee and keep you company while you cry.

They do this without asking,

Do you need any help?

Because when misfortune hits, that is a rhetorical question.



Monday, 30 July 2012

London Olympics 2012

Ever since I moved to London seven years ago, the spectre of the Olympics hung over the city like a wonky oasis. In the long, slow build up to this event of events, the jokes were many and the expectations few. After all this is a city where the transport system fails regularly, where bureaucratic cockups are the norm and where the citizens can't even queue in a straight line.

And also on top of that, we had to draw the short straw and follow the Beijing Olympics. Or should I say those Olympics where after the first ten minutes of the Opening Ceremony, the rest of the world was cowered into awestruck, stupified submission. Job done.

Yes Beijing. You own the world. We get it.

Many Londoners, after failing to get tickets in the Olympic ballot washed their hands of the whole affair and busted ass to sunnier climes to sit out the two week hullabaloo. After all this temporary migration had been fully encouraged by the government.

Leave Fair Londoners we had been told. Take your holidays now and go. There's not enough room for you here during the Olympics.*

Some stayed in protest because they hate the Government. Some stayed because they couldn't afford to go on holiday because Government policies had rendered them poorer than before.

Some stayed because they love this city and wanted to witness this moment in history.

My husband is one of those people. The moment I stepped foot on English soil to begin our journey into matrimony, he intoned at me:

Wherever in the world we are in 2012, we have to be in London for the Olympics

He said that sentence so often that after a few years, all I heard was this:


In the week leading up to the Opening Ceremony, I realised that something was happening to London. She was gleaming. Scaffolding that had been up since the Pleistocene era parted to reveal brand new shiny structures. Pink signs appeared everywhere. Pink! The number of cultural events to attend quadrupled. London started to buzz and hum.

Pink is the official Olympic colour. Love it.
On July 27 I watched the Opening Ceremony with bated breath. Weeks ago the newsworthy Metro had leaked Danny Boyle's vision of a rural idyll with sheep and pastures. National cringe followed. That was what we were going to present the world with? Sheep?!

But as the proceedings unfolded, national cringe was replaced by delight. British irreverence and tongue in cheek trumped over stuffiness and ceremony. A snazzy choreographic mash up of Britain's contribution to childrens literature and the NHS was a joy to watch. Emeli Sande's elegaic delivery of Abide With Me matched Akram Khan's pared down ensemble to provide a quiet, powerful moment amidst the cacophony of the ceremony.

Emeli Sande performing Abide With Me

And the Queen. In her first ever "acting" role. You gotta love a Queen who'll take the piss out of herself.

Queenie arriving in flashy style

As the Games proceed, the Olympic jokes that were on the tip of London lips only a few weeks ago are now replaced by smiles.

And London?

London is beaming.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Working Hard for (No) Money....

When I was studying economics in high school, my then teacher told us how the work of women at home, ie housewife, mother etc was not included in the GDP of the nation. He said that this seemed an inaccurate reflection of the population's real productivity as so much work goes on in the home and in the rearing of kinder. He asked what we thought the real value of such work would be?

He was an unlikely feminist with his Fair Isle knit cardigans and combover hair but what he said has stuck with me all these years.

A lovely selection of Fair Isle sweaters

And now it is time for me to stick my toe back into the dirty waters of paid work. It is time to take a break (yes, many women consider going back to work a break as child rearing is like non stop, unpaid domestic slavery) from my beloved 14 month old dictator and rejoin the masses.

But who'll have me?

Well I have a job interview next week; my first in years.  I like job interviews. I see them as little ethnographic field trips into the inner workings of industry. Although I am the one being summoned to be assessed as to whether they should hire me to work like a slave for £10 an hour (I work in the arts and hey, it's more than I'm getting at home); I always enjoy job interviews because I am very much also, interviewing THEM.

I like meeting a a panel of strangers who have dedicated questions in front of them to ask me. The same questions it seems that all potential employees ask their interviewees.  I like assessing what their work personalities might be like and whether I would like to work with  them. Would we clash or would we become work buddies? Did they dress up for this interview or do they always wear such stiff clothes?

It's so much fun for that hour or two.

If you get the job, well that's when the fun stops.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

International Dance Festival Birmingham

A few weekends ago I travelled up to Birmingham to attend the International Dance Festival Birmingham. I was on a mission to see a woman perform.  A woman who is fifty three years old and the mother of twins.

Her name is Louise Lecavalier; a prominent contemporary dance artist from Canada. Formerly of the company La La  La Human Steps. Well known for her kinetic, feral energy on stage and her triple barrel horizontal spins.

Does she look 53 to you?

I travelled alone, feeling the gap widen between myself and the demands of a 13 month toddler. I luxuriated in the ability to read, think, dream, gaze unhindered. I stayed in Birmingham the entire weekend, during which I read books and papers and magazines. I read as if I was starving for words.

Before the show, I enjoyed the time in the foyer alone; people watching over a glass of wine. Inside the theatre, the dancer from Canada showed that age and artistry are excellent companions. Her partner onstage was Patrick Lamothe who had a bit of a pot belly and looked like he'd been up drinking all night. He looked like a regular guy. I like it when dancers look real and then surprise you with what they can do on stage with their real looking bodies.

Where did his pot belly go in this photo? Photoshopped?
When the weekend was over, I returned to the squalling embrace of my pissed-off toddler and my relieved husband. We were all exhausted. He was exhausted by our child. She was exhausted (not really) because she is a non stop machine. I was exhausted by all the freedom I'd had .

Yet the outcome of all this exhaustion was that something in me had been reclaimed.  Through my trip to Birmingham, I had also made a trip back to me.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Baby Antidote

I have been told by non parent friends that I am a Baby Antidote.

People who don't want to have kids and want their decision validated are sent my way. People who do are ushered in the other direction. I haven't done any special training to warrant this title except speak about my first year of parenthood as it really was. A beautiful and unique Hell which I loved and railed against in equal measure.

My version is not dissimilar to this one here. We modern women who venture forth into parenthood for the first in our mid to late thirties. We who have lived lives of choice and autonomy. We are so unprepared.

I caught up with a friend on the weekend. She is due to give birth any day now and had lots of questions about baby stuff. Birth stuff. Pain stuff. And I, well I muted myself to an undecipherable level.

I'm scared mostly about tearing and bleeding afterwards, she confessed.

Hahahahahaha, I wanted to laugh hysterically, Are you serious? Is that ALL you're most worried about? but what came out of my mouth was: Oh don't worry about that. You'll be absorbed by the baby that's just come out of you. You won't even notice.

After our catchup I mentally kicked myself. I had just done to her others had done to me when I was pregnant. Smoothed the edges of shocking new experience that is parenthood for the first time. But what else can you do?

My powers are on the wane.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

When I lived in London in the mid nineties, I spent the first few months staying with a friend in Westerham; a small village in Kent. I arrived during a season where Kent was green and lush and I realised why the county is called The Garden Of England. I spent many hours walking in fields and woodlands, all the while marvelling how innocuous the environment was. As an Australian fresh off the plane, I couldn't quite get my head around the fact that there seemingly was nothing in the woods that could kill me.

Nowadays I live in a  green part of London. I am within walking distance to one of the best wild commons in the city. There are many lovely parks close by to go and visit. The streets where I live are thick with trees and flowers. Flora and fauna reside in abundance. Wild foxes roam the streets in broad daylight. The local riding school sees a calvacade of horses and ponies parade up the main street most weekends with young girls (mainly) hanging on for dear life.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes lollop through the common in a frenzy of unbridled joy at being out in a wide, open space. It is not a barren, urban landscape I live in.

It is all perfectly lovely. Yet something is missing.

During that time in Kent all those years ago, I read The Riders by Australian author, Tim Winton. In there I found a paragraph about the English landscape that I've never forgotten. Written from the point of view of a man surveying a rural English landscape, it sums up what is missing for me right now:

Lanes and hedges and strands of timber and boggy bordeens went out at all angles under his gaze as the wind tore his hair.  From here it all seemed orderly enough, leading, as it did to and from this very spot in every direction.  It was a small, tooled, and cross-hatched country, simple, so amazingly simple from above. Every field had a name, every path a stile. Every thing imaginable had been done or tried out there. It wasn't the feeling you had looking out on his own land. In Australia you looked out and saw the possible, the spaces, the maybes. Here the wilderness was pressed into something else; into what had already been.

I miss this view

The possible, the spaces, the maybes.

Arguably all wilderness has the above within it.

I just miss the brand I grew up with.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Tango Till They're Sore

Dance is the simplest, most eloquent and perhaps honest expression of the human condition that we have as sentient beings. Music comes a close second.  However when it is your body that is the instrument of expression, it doesn't get much more intimate than that.

My body has not been my own for many months.  It has belonged to Dragon. It has served her needs, day in, day out to the point that I did not know it anymore. I do not mean that it had sagged and bagged beyond all recognition. I simply did not feel a part of it. I had detached. Exercise and the physical demands of looking after a baby did nothing to re-engage me with my corporeal self.

I knew what I had to do and finally last night, I got to it.

I went dancing.

Tango in fact. Argentine style.

As my feet slid across the floor in the familiar sinuous shapes of my past, I felt serene for the first time in a long, long while. Tom Waits (of all people) flashed through my head

Well ya play that Tarantella
All the hounds they start to roar
And the boys all go to hell
Then the Cubans hit the floor
And they drive along the pipeline
They tango till they're sore
They take apart their nightmares
And they leave them by the door

Instead of the usual tango feet image, I give you Tom Waits. A man I'd like to tango with

Dance has been the longest relationship I've had with anything or anyone, apart from my parents. And I had been neglecting that relationship for far too long

The body remembers always and reminds you of what you have forgotten.

It's all there; waiting beneath the surface.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Death Becomes Her

I caught the train by myself yesterday to visit some friends and my god, was it exciting. Childless, I could sit quietly, look out the window and daydream. The friends bit was great too but the train journey - I could do that forever.

It was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue skies and crisp city air. I had on pink lipstick. Life was good. So naturally I started thinking about death.

My husband thinks I am obsessed. Just that morning I had dramatically announced,  I could quite happily die now. I would be ok with that.

He rolled his eyes. You just have a chest infection, You won't die that easy.

That's not my point, I replied. What I mean is that if I were to die now, I would be ok with what I have done with my life so far.

By this time he had found something more interesting to do such as pick lint off the living room floor.

I have written about death here before. I wrote about it when a close friend was diagnosed with cancer. Back then I was reflecting on what I would do to help him stave off death. On the train yesterday I was thinking about attending his funeral.

It occured to me that the measure of a relationship is whether you would attend somebody's funeral. Especially if it were difficult for you to do so. I have friends scattered all over the globe and I wonder if they died, would I attend their funeral? Would they attend mine?

Not Your Usual Funeral*

I think it's a handy marker for where your friendships are at. Family deaths rank in another category; it's not usually a question whether you would attend or not unless rancor had reigned for too long.

Who would you make the effort to go say goodbye to? If you had no money and couldn't get time off work? Which friends would you still go for?

*Pic - "Elisha Mitchells' Funeral" by Ian Brownlee

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Year of the Dragon

It's Chinese New Year again and it is the Year of the Dragon.

Yes! It's Dragon's year. And in keeping with the rollercoaster journey she's taken me on so far, welcome the to the first day of my Chinese New Year.

I start the year feverish and ill. Bad.

I go to the doctors with Dragon as she's come out in a strange rash. It turns out she has folliculitis. This is Not Great.

I bump into a friend in the waiting room whose little boy has a high fever. The doctor doesn't know what is wrong. They have to go to A & E.  I start to go with her but we are not allowed on the bus. She jumps in a cab. Dragon is looking peaky so I do not follow. They are still there in hospital. They were supposed to go to New Zealand for a two month trip this week. This is Bad.

Dragon spends the rest of the day with a runny nose and a cough. Sigh. Bad.

She starts bursting into tears frequently for no apparent reason. She has never done that before in all her months of illness. Oh dear. Bad.

Behold the Bad Tempered Dragon

    Unexpectedly someone sends me chocolate biscuits and someone else gives Dragon a beautiful gift for no reason whatsoever apart from the fact she wants to. This makes the day better and is Good.

    I am supposed to write my essay but my old wrist troubles have returned. De Quervains is the bane of my life post pregnancy. Bad. Bad. Bad.

    I spend the first night of Chinese New Year having an ultrasound scan of said wrist and end up having my fourth steroid injection in 10 months. A few hours later I am in agony and cannot move my hand at all. Despair.

    A friend unexpectedly drops by with some food she has made us for Chinese New Year, refuses to come in and heads straight off again on her two hour journey home. Oh the kindness. I can barely speak.  The definition of Thoughtfulness.

    I sleep very little for Dragon coughs throughout the night, as do I. Yes, you can guess what this is.

    By morning my hand is no better. I feel like crying. But I don't.

    I complete a good chunk of my second essay draft. Phew!

    I find out we owe £1300 to EDF. I feel like crying. But I don't.

    Husband brings Dragon  home from nursery. I take one look at her and take her temperature. She has a fever. Poor baby. Curse you whoever you are that causes baby sickness. I'd shake my fist at you if I could move my hand into a fist to shake.

    Hand improves marginally. Hope. Not a bad thing to have at the start of a new year.

    And here we are. The first day of the Year of the Dragon. Tumultuous? Yes. Boring? Never!

     Which really sums up my little Dragon quite well.

    Monday, 9 January 2012

    But What Do You Do All Day?

    When I was childless, it mystified me as to why people with kids always said they never had any time or energy.

    What's keeping them so busy?  I wondered.

    Sure I'd heard about the sleep deprivation that newborns could cause but that was a just a phase right? What did these parents do that used up all their time and energy? After all there is 24 hours in a day.  I decided they must be exaggerating.

    Well feel free to slap me.

    Because they were NOT exaggerating.  At all.

    After Dragon had been in my life for a few months,  non-parent friends asked me things like:

    Have you been following that story in the papers?
    Have you read any good books lately?
    Have you been to any good shows recently?

    Oh how I laughed. But I shouldn't have because I was exactly none the wiser myself before Dragon.

    So where does all my time and energy go as I sure as hell don't have much of either? I decided to take an inventory. Just a random day in the life of a mum of a nine month old.**

     Here goes:

    5.00: Dragon wakes and cries. I ignore her.
    5.15: Still crying. I kick Husband out of bed to go soothe her
    5.30: Dragon falls back asleep. So does Husband. I lie awake wishing I could.
    6.05: Dragon wakes again. Cries
    6.15: Breastfeed Dragon
    6.45: Sit with Dragon in steamy bathroom and do her physio (for a mucus issue - long story).
    7.05: Dress Dragon and change nappy.
    7.30: Plonk Dragon in front of TV. I get changed, make beds, tidy Dragon's room and get her and my breakfast ready
    8.00: Feed Dragon. Feed myself.
    9.00: Play or Skype Family/Friends
    9.20: Dragon nappy change and nap
    9.40: Clean breakfast mess, fold and put away laundry. Put in new load of washing. Tidy house. Cook food for Dragon for following day. Answer emails. Make phone calls. Do online errands.
    11.00: Dragon wakes. Check nappy. Give snack. Play if staying in or head out to meet friends or for some baby activities (paying exorbitant amounts of money for 30 minutes of singing and clapping, baby swimming, ie holding them in water for 30 mins etc)
    11:45 Hang out new load of laundry if home. Get Dragon and my lunch ready
    12.00: Feed Dragon lunch. Feed myself.
    13.00: Clean lunch mess if at home
    14.00: Prepare bottle and feed Dragon
    14.30: Dragon nappy change and nap
    14.45: Time to MYSELF!
    16:00: Dragon wakes. Give snack. Play or go out. Meet up with mum and baby group. Cook or shop
    16:30: Do second bathroom physio session with Dragon.
    17:15: Get Dragon dinner ready
    17:30: Feed Dragon dinner
    18:30: Bathe Dragon and get her ready for bed
    19:00: Breastfeed Dragon
    19:20: Clean up Dragon dinner mess and kitchen
    20.00: Eat dinner with Husband
    20:30: Get Dragon food sorted for next day. Pack any bags needed for next day. Shower
    21:00: Collapse. Talk to Husband. About Dragon
    23:00: Breastfeed Dragon
    00:00: Sleep
    03.00: Dragon cries. Husband and I pray to the Baby Goddess. Please, Please, go back to sleep.

    And sometimes, she does.

    It'll be just as busy when she is bigger*

    Not every day is as above. There are days where we are out and about from morn to night. Days where we have visitors. Days where surprises happen. Days where I get to go out and do whatever I want. Days where I go to uni and kickstart my brain.  But the one constant throughout is that Dragon needs a LOT of care; day in , day out

    And for now, I wouldn't have it any other way.

    *Image courtesy of Fotolia UK

    **To give him his full credit, the Husband is also the primary carer for Dragon. He looks after her most weekends and does her morning routine twice a week on weekdays too. And cooks and cleans and all of it.  And did 80% of the night feeds when she was a newborn. And gets up and soothes her when she wakes in the middle of the night. He is a Good Egg.

    Sunday, 1 January 2012

    A New Year Dawns...

    Wow. What a crazy year 2011 was.

    I pushed a human being out of my nether regions. That human being now can sit, eat and give me cheek.

    What will 2012 bring. This time next year, what will my little world look like?

    The very first blog entry I wrote here in 2008 was about whether or not children keep you young. I had heard this saying before but never understood it. To me, all parents looked permanently exhausted, not youthful at all.

    Now that I have joined the ranks of exhausted caregivers, I finally understand what it means.

    Having a young kid takes a lot. It takes all your time, energy, patience, sanity. But what you get in return is immeasurable.

    Hope springs eternal in human breast wrote Alexander Pope.

    It's true. In the dark hours of another sleepless night, your baby looks at you or holds onto you in a certain way and all exhaustion is forgotten and you are renewed.