Category Archives: The Native

That’s My Daughter in the Water

When I got a promotion at work about a year ago it meant that I had to up my working days to 4 (plus a little more).  As a result and in order to make things work for our family, The Native arranged to go down to 4 working days.

Mondays are his Daddy/Daughter Day with The Duchess and to be honest, I never anticipated they would become what they now are.

He makes such an effort to take her out and do things with her.  It has genuinely become a time that he cherishes.  With my marathon of a maternity leave now only days away, we are both grieving losing that Monday because we know what it means to her and we both understand and see that it has really come to be something quite special for him, too.

Today they had a day out in Wells in Somerset.  They visited a tractor shop – as you do in the West Country – and then went on to the stunning Wells Cathedral.  Image

They trundled around the Cathedral, charming (at least in The Native’s account of things) the older visitors.  But the best bit of the day was walking around the moat.  The Native showed me this picture when I got home.  I love her mischievous face.  It tells a story.  And there is definitely a story there.  Image

“I told her that if she caught a pigeon, she could keep it.”

Thankfully she hasn’t yet inherited my insane fear of pigeons and seagulls (and I will argue that there is a VERY good reason to fear them).  She took the challenge seriously.  As a girl should.

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“But then she came across this freakishly over-confident pigeon.  The thing wouldn’t move and came right up to her.  She was reaching out to grab it and I had to scream, ‘DON’T TOUCH IT!'”

Hey.  He set the challenge.

Even when The Native “loses” his Mondays, long may Daddy/Daughter Days reign.

Bump Update: Week 17 & Birthing Plans

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Today I tweeted a lady who had a bowl of sick in her lap on her drive home because she is 9 weeks into pregnancy and struggling with morning sickness.   That is pregnancy (or one part of it, anyway).  I am SO glad to be on the other side of all of the nausea and am feeling really good, despite some occasional hip pain.

I saw my lovely midwife when I hit 17 weeks and we started talking about birthing options for this little one.   When I was pregnant with The Duchess, The Native and I were pretty relaxed about our birthing plan, opting to use the birthing centre and pool if it was free (there is only room to facilitate one birth at a time there), knowing that we’d likely end up on Labour Ward instead.  We were possibly a bit TOO relaxed about it all because I nearly popped that kid out in our upstairs bathroom – only making it to the hospital in time for the grand finale.   We are talking a Richard Curtis style labor.  Yeah Rich, call me if you want some ideas for your next film.

While speaking to the midwife this week, we got onto the topic of home births.  I was only curious about how many women opt for them.  Genuinely.  It’s not something that I know is commonly done in the States, but we have known a few people here who have gone that route, including our very best friends with their 2nd child.

It was then that my midwife is all, “You would be PERFECT for a home birth.”  And that is when, friends, I got this image of my husband’s face that will be forever seared into my memory bank.  That look he had when I woke him up in the middle of the night shouting, “THE BABY IS PUSHING!”  That is the look I knew I’d likely get if I went home and said, “Hey honey, Let’s do this thing in the family room.”  Because when we nearly unintentionally had The Duchess at home, it was pretty freaking terrifying.

Who knows?  We have time to think about it.  I know planning to stay at home is different than not having the choice.

Anyone reading who can offer guidance/thoughts on home birthing?  Would you or wouldn’t you?

Staying Put

About a month ago The Native and I agreed that some holiday time was long overdue.  In the UK, it’s typical to get around 28 days of annual leave each year, excluding national holidays.  You guys, that is a guaranteed 7 weeks off EVERY YEAR.   Crazy, right?   How does this country get anything done?  I mean forget relaxing, warding off sickness, managing stress, and spending precious time with your family – you have an empire to re-build, Britain!

We toyed around with a ferry to France, a cottage in Cornwall or booking an all inclusive place like Bluestone Wales, but with a baby on the way and my impending maternity leave, we are being responsible adults and trying to stash as much cash away as possible which means seriously questioning whether a booked holiday was the best option.  Our recent day out on the water challenged us that being refreshed is about how we choose to use our time, not about where we go.  So, we are currently on a staycation.

Can you spoke her stone? Hint: It's white and not going in the direction you think.

Can you spot her stone? Hint: It’s white and not going in the direction you think.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a staycation – it is where you become a tourist in your local area.  You plan days out, choose to dine out instead of cook, and live as though on holiday, all while being able to return to home comforts at the end of the day.

We have just seen out week one with one more week to go.  Week one took us to Paignton Zoo and the beach.  Image

By the way, if you ever take a 2 year old to the zoo, strap them into their puschair and NEVER release them.  I admit that before our arrival I may have said to The Native, “Okay, so to enjoy this experience – I need to make sure she is completely safe and not too close to the edge of the enclosures at ALL times because I have read  the news TOO much. ”  We got there and took her down from her puschair and she did not.stop.running.  The way she was parkouring through the Desert House, I really thought we were going to lose her to a poisonous dart frog or a komodo dragon.  Image At one point The Native may have shouted, “If you don’t get back here, we’re buying reigns!”  By lunch, we were exhausted from trying to herd her away from danger.

If you live within driving distance of Devon, we certainly suggest a visit to Paignton Zoo.  We had a  great time and loved the feel.  Although it had its fair share of uphill treks, it has plenty of animals to see and is in beautiful, leafy surroundings.  Image

ImageSeriously, there were actual homes overlooking the zebra enclosure.  Mmmm- imagine the smell on a boiling hot, summer’s day.  Good thing those don’t happen here often.  Image

Choosing Not to Plan It All

I moved down to Somerset and The Native and I were still in the early stages of our relationship.  We had been getting to know each other long distance for a number of months and now were finally in the same place where we could venture beyond the shallow waters of the beginning stages of a relationship, to the dark, murky waters of properly getting to know each other, unearthing the good and bad of what would lie beneath.

One summer’s evening he turned to me with a smile on his face and said, “Come on!  Let’s take a drive.”  On the spur of the moment he had decided to hop into the car and drive up into the picturesque hills of Somerset to try and catch the sunset.

And that is when he found out I don’t do well with spontaneity.

We were in the car and I questioned where we were going, how long the drive would be and doubted that we’d make it there for sunset.  Yeah, I know.  I hate myself for it, too.

There are things to plan for – a family, a marriage, buying a home, your work week – sunsets should not be on that list.

Time hasn’t entirely changed my hesitancy to throw my arms up in the air, toss my head back and enjoy the ride, but being with The Native has made me more aware of the things in my life I need to refine – like letting go sometimes.

So today when we made our way to a local lake and The Native had decided that it was time to go home, you can imagine my surprise when some women’s voice, that sounded very much like mine, rose from my throat and said, “No.  Let’s stay and let’s go out on a boat.”  It was beyond nap-time, I had weekend work to get back to, we were going to put a 1 year old in a capsize-able boat in freezing water.

It ended up being one of the best days we’ve had in the last 12 months.

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How Clean is Your House?

Oh hi. (Stretches out on sofa and dramatically drapes back of hand against forehead.)  I feel a confession coming on.

Last week, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law dropped The Duchess off after having her for the day.  This is a regular fixture on a Tuesday and usually I’m not yet home from work by the time they drop her off.  That Tuesday was an exception.

We chatted for a bit downstairs, seizing the opportunity to catch up on life a little, until we each moved onto our own evening rituals.  But as we chatted, I also dashed from job to job trying to make the house more presentable.  And I prayed.

I prayed that they wouldn’t need to use our bathroom.

But with a sister-in-law who is a good 6 months pregnant, the request came.  As it surely would.

The problem was, our bathroom was a mess.  A lot of the house was, but downstairs it was somewhat contained.  Upstairs was a different story.

I fessed up before she discovered the grime herself and begged her not to cast judgement.  Since returning to work 4 days a week, it has certainly posed more of a challenge to tackle household chores but in the last few months we had really found our stride.  It just turned out that due to recent sickness, significant changes at work, and a serious motivation problem in the week precluding “the drop-off”, it had gotten a bit on top of me.

Thankfully, I have supportive in-laws and they smiled and reassured and said all of the right things.  Still – even when people understand the challenges of being working parents, it can be humbling when the message your house is sending is, “Look at how WONDERFUL I am at keeping all of my plates spinning” while you blatantly kick shards of glass under the nearest pile of laundry.

So the moral of the story is: We get it wrong, The Native and I, and we have family who are big enough to see that life is sometimes messy.  But there are also things we have learned about trying to stay on top of it all and it has highlighted what helps.  Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Find a routine and stick to it EVERY day.  I’m sure it’s just in my head but with no dishwasher, a washing machine that can literally handle 3 towels at once, and a tumble dryer we BARELY use – chores can feel harder work in the UK.  Household stuff is easiest when we face it.  Sometimes, I have to swing my foot backward and give myself a swift kick in the bum – but I know it will be easier each day, each week,  if I just get on with it tonight.

If you are married or live with a partner – find how to share the load practically.  I have a husband who knew how to cook 2 things when we got married.  He now cooks (and I fear has become a better cook than me) most nights since he gets home from work before me. Becaue he cooks, I will wash up.  This carries on until The Duchess is soundly asleep.  We’ve even established and kept to a weekly shopping day, sharing out who does the list and who does the shopping.  And it works.  Mostly because he’s awesome.  He doesn’t always clean the ways that I would – but he is helping and I am learning just to let him (ahem: not always a strong point for me without professional cleaning commentary).

When you are on top of the small things, the big things start to become more manageable.  When I stick to the routine – I work faster and daily jobs are done in minutes.  It frees me up and I find that cleaning out the cupboards – a job I’ve put off since the dawn of time – has suddently become much more achievable.  The things that have lingered on my to-do list for ages actually start to get done.

And if you’re desperate?

Invite people around regularly.   There are those friends you can invite around to have a cup of tea while you both sit perched atop your laundry mountain and they wouldn’t bat any eyelid.  Don’t invite them.  They are great, but if you really need to light a fire under your bum inviting someone over for a meal often does the trick.  It may be more stressful, panic-induced cleaning – but at least it will be clean…..until the next guest comes around.

Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a working one – what works for you?  Or are you dancing on that damp towel on thefloor next to your unmade bed having taken the “Life is too short” approach?

Happy Birth/Mother’s Day

My birthday was last week.

Mother’s Day is today in the UK.

Apparently, the proximity of the two became too much for The Native to handle when sorting out a card from The Duchess because this is what I opened this morning.

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Amazing.

Happy Birth/Mother’s Day to all of you whether you hold your babies in your arms or must hold them in your hearts, whether you are an expectant mother or you have taken on the role of mother/mentor to someone who really needed it.   There is good reason to celebrate you.

Sucker

We have been back from America for well over a month.  When we initially returned I made a number of allowances for The Duchess during her bedtime routine.  And by routine I mean “bedtime free-for-all.”  (Because that’s the same thing, right?)

I blame myself.  I totally do.  But when you arrive in America and your child looks like this for the first 3 days:Image

And then looks like this upon your return:Image

It meant that I wanted to be patient with her preciously tiny little body-clock, fully expecting we’d soon be back on track.

But we are nearing the end of February and bedtime has instead become an hour long (+) process filled with impromptu Thomas stories  and the ever-present request to join her in her bed and hold her hand.  And it gets REALLY cramped in there.

Tonight was the night.

I clenched my jaw and steadied my hands as I prepared myself for war.  I sometimes watch Supernanny when there is nothing else on TV.  I knew what I was in for. Hours of screaming?  We’d just have to endure it.  Cries for Mommy?  I was doing this for her own good.  Claims that she’d pooped herself?  My nose would be the judge of that.  I know her tricks.

I read her final book of the night, reached over to switch off her lamp and placed her in her cot.

She was asleep in 20 minutes.  

(Ahem) It might have been 15 if I hadn’t run in there, convinced that she was going to use her crazy climbing skills to Parkour her toddler behind over the side of her cot.

20 minutes!!!  We have been doing this for 7 weeks.  SEVEN.  I am such a sucker.