Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 bubbye

I hardly knew ye

photo from
This is the very first year I feel no anticipation of the new year.  This year has been big in many ways. A move. (again) A baby. (so happy) A boy turning 3.  (wha?) A readjustment. (ongoing)

As they say with small children, the days are long and the years are short. 

My Greatest Hits lists feels more like the The Things That Kept Me Sane List. 

  • family hugs - especially when requested by the boy
  • Words With Friends
  • iPad
    - where've you been all my life
  • local in law grandparents - solicitous, cheery, generous, helpful, solid
  • Alice - the most cheerful person I know who wakes with a smile and explodes my heart.  My best girl. 
  • Derby stores: bagel Thursday, animal crackers and good cheddar
  • generosity and connection of siblings
  • Newnham - so local, so easy, so friendly, so freaking quaint
  • St Mark's playgroup Toddles
  • Newnham friendly real-deal mums
  • Lewis - my threenager. My mood mirror. My challenge. My golden smarty. My best boy. 
  • Cousin's Butchers steak pies
  • Mushroom Park - watching Lewis conquer each playground as he gets bigger and bolder
  • Mark's great day rate keeping us in organic fruit and taxis
  • Lewis dates - babychinos at Bills/Giraffe
  • Netflix (in bed)
  • The Market - for a destination, for bread, for interesting goods
  • Mark- biker commuter, bring home the bacon, dedicated to our small people
  • Lewis Glasgow Birthday weekend and reunion with our pals
  • Number 18 bus full of Newnham grannies, taking our weary, fully loaded pram + 2 into town for 2 quid
  • Becco Butterfly owl sling (where Alice spent the first 6 months of her life)

I guess when I write it all down it underscores for amazing things are. Hard sometimes. Fun usually. But very very lucky girl I am. 

I am realising -- this life is my happy ending. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

eyes up

Today I thank my husband and co parent.  Because of him I've had the last 2 Saturday mornings "off" ...

Just me. Doing things.  I've chosen low hanging fruit -- the most crucial of my personal beauty needs to address first... hair and eyebrows and feet.  Doesn't take much to recenter me. Or make me feel the gentle wave of a perspective re-jigger.

Yes.  taking care of myself feels vital.  Small gestures of pampering feel miraculous. The simple act of walking alone down the street feels freeing and light.  My brain synapses are re-aligning.  Oh yes.  I am still here.

Makes me feel hope for more time.  To write. Read. Think. Plan. Want. Dream. Sleep. Miss. Remember. 

And the small time loosens the vice-grip of managing and shuffling and carrying and feeding. Keeping hunger, sleep and mood regulation all in balance for 3 people. 

Yes. There is a life inside of me still living.

Even when all eyes are used to pointing down.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Complaints I retract

When we first moved back to Cambridge I was in deep stress. Veerrry pregnant and exhausted and in a chronic state of worry. I found loads of things to complain about. Adjusting was Hard Work. Hell, walking was hard work.

Time, she is a funny bird. Three months in and life is lighter. In the spirit of gratitude and keeping my heart open to more goodies, I retract the following grumbles:

1) We have no community here.

We moved into one of the nicest family neighbourhoods in Cambridge. Within weeks we met and befriended 3 families On Our Very Street. All super nice. All with kids. We found a playgroup At The End Of Our Street. Hello Handy. There we met several more very kind folks. Then you add the butcher, the local chemist and 2 local shops within 2 blocks who know us now (because we frequent them every freaking day) and -- boom-- community. I can walk through our hood and run into people to chat with. I Love This.

2) The English aren't as friendly as the Scottish

Perhaps this is still a bit true. But the English warm up nicely. They might initially look at you loud American talking to her rowdy toddler with quiet disapproval but on 10th viewing they realise you are ok and start to engage. Old crabby people smile at the antics on the bus. And no one No ONE can resist the soft and sweet charms of a newborn.

3) It is hard to get around

Well, I am no longer pregnant, nor recovering from a section. I am getting used to teeny narrow sidewalks. I figured out the buses. The bus from our neighbourhood changed (yay!) the fleet to a pram friendly model so we can take it. Lewis rides his tiny red balance bike through our neighbourhood errands. We can walk 4 minutes to get to a kick ass play park.

We have library cards
We have 'regular' hangout spots

In short, we belong. Which in essence is really what anyone wants. To be known. To be seen. To be understood.
For this, for this time, however long we are here, I am grateful.

Sometimes I feel tired of beginning again. We have moved and moved and moved. And I need to remind myself that how I show up is what I shall receive. Reap what yee sow. We are never 'done' with new experiences and growing if we are open to the new and unknown next thing. And man, it is way easier to ride the wave of change than trying to paddle against it.

I hope I can remember this the next time (and I can count on a next time.-- we all can) I am stiff arming some new change.

For now, a bus ride, a friend, a smile on the street and knowing where to go feels very very lovely.

P.S. Plus I am writing this while getting a pedicure while the tiny girl sleeps on my chest and the sunny boy plays with his grandparents. I have MUCH to be grateful for.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Pause: 2 years 10 months

A big boy
Running with ease
Climbing with confidence
Conversing with charm
Biking fast and sure on red balance bike
Listening to EVERYTHING
Curly gold sunshine hair
Can shout NOOOO to shake your brain fittings
Knows everyone's name and how they are related, where they live
Loves a tv show obsessively -- repeated in the dozens and then abandons them utterly and completely
Could eat cherries, chocolate, crackers and fresh peas exclusively.
Loves cars, trucks, buses, diggers
Enjoys hiding from monsters and crocodiles
Baby Alice is cute and for hugging with whole body weight yet cries too much
Puzzles puzzles puzzles. Especially if they have cars, trucks, buses or diggers
Excellent lunch date
Safety commissioner reminds us to walk on the sidewalk, not get too close to the edge and not to stick fingers on a cage
Infectious enthusiasm for exploring, adventures and co piloting daddy's bike
Loves the concept of underpants. Not using nappies less so.
Blue eyes that startle by sheer size and loveliness
Can change from light mood to temper storm with aplomb
Has taken it as his job to close all open gates in Cambridge
No more naps but will rock a 12 hour night sleep
Darling, sweet, confident, challenging comfortable, friendly, promising, loving, gorgeous boy

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

She's ...


Monday, 4 June 2012

my dears ...

Dear Baby Girl-

You are supposed to come out on Wednesday.  This freaks me out a little. Not just that we 'know' when you are arriving (which indeed feels strange) but also because I feel I haven't prepared myself emotionally and mentally to be 100% with you yet.  We just moved houses. Countries. And life has been really busy getting sorted. Your brother is lovely and has also been really really taking up a lot of energy since we have been in our new house. I am equal parts excited and nervous about how he will be with you. He has been telling everyone he has a sister in his tummy and talks about you, knows your name.  I hope when you are here he will understand that you will need me. A lot. And that he can share me with you with a bit of patience. You can see why I am nervous.

I am just starting to get really excited to meet you. Girl. Brown eyes? The recessive blue gene again? Pointy chin? Baldy? Who are you going to be? Will you be a easy going person? (your gyrating and dance moves this last month make me think otherwise)  Or will you be all energy/all day like your brother?  In my heart I hope you are a relaxed kid. And if you aren't we will work with it.

Mostly know we want you here. We are ready in all the ways that matter. Our hearts and our love is on deck, ready to welcome you into the world, our family. Life. Come safe. Come healthy. Come.

Dear Big Boy-

You ARE my big boy, as you keep reminding me. And you are also my baby as you keep reminding me. I know things have been so different at our new house. You have adjusted so beautifully to all the new circumstances, people, situations, I am amazed by you. And now we bring in a sister for you, making things all manner of different again. I worry that you will be OK with more change. And with my arms being full of baby when you are so used to them being all yours.

Know that you, my best boy are always going to be that. And I hope that your new role as big brother is as fun and sweet as I imagine it to be... in time. I understand that you might not think so for a while and I totally get it. I hope we can be understanding as you get used to it all. Together we can figure out what it looks like. You will always be my beloved baby.

Dear Husband-

It has been a rough 3 months. And we are finally here. Cambridge. Job. House. In. Baby. It has been a really tough time for me. And you. And we are here. We made it.

I wish we had more time to be just us for a bit before a family of four.  I miss our time together. And things are as they are. I trust that we will grow through this and with it as our family reforms into some new shape. And we will eventually reclaim our couple hood. Or at least steal moments to drink wine in the garden when the kids are asleep. (that WILL HAPPEN, right???) Thank you for your patience with me. And for creating order from chaos. For showing up for us when we need you. For being the devoted dad you are. And for knowing what's important. We'll need more of that in the months to come. I can't wait to see you with your baby girl. I hope she doesn't take too much advantage of the softie you are in  your heart.

Dear Me-

You have been doing the best you can. I know this. It hasn't always been pretty, and I know that this move has tested your innards a bit more than you banked on. But you did it.  See how strong you can be? And I know you can be strong again for baby girl. Surgery isn't fun but your body is super capable of fast healing. You have enough love for all the people who need you, including you.  Be brave. Allow yourself to be excited. Things will be OK. Let go of the control and enjoy the ride.

Dear Rest of my Life-

I am sorry I haven't been paying attention to you... brain, family, friends, blog, fashion, healthy eating, news, facebook. We've had the waters rising up to our chins. But I imagine them receding. In time. Please be there when we come round to the present tense. I'll need you a lot for comedic relief and sanity.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012


I am lying on my bed while 5 Glaswegian men with a mostly unintelligible brogue pack my family's most precious and useful belongings and cart them down huffing and puffing down 2 flights of stairs into a 2,300 cubic feet volume moving truck.

I am lying down not to be a princess. Or because it is the only soft spot left (which it is.)  It is because I must. All my cells are crying to stop.

All the culmination coming to this day... the worry about money, the fret about a job for Mark, the decisions about moving, about selling, about nurseries, the finding of a neighbourhood, a house to rent, the culling, the good bye-ing, the minutia of moving and quotes, and millions of squillions of details... it is all coming to its ready to pop head.

It is now all happening ... the domino has been tipped and I watch as many many more fall into place and they click click click taking this life, this world and change it into the next.

I lie down because I am overwhelmed with this truth.  And my baby girl inside is heavy and I ache. And I feel unable to watch the dominoes straight on. I can see them from the corners of my eyes. And it is enough. I have been in the drivers seat or the map reading seat for most of this journey and now I want to be driven.

Wake me when we are there and you need to put the flowers in the vase, arrange the pillows and stock the fridge.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

will be missed

The fact that we are moving is quickly shifting from an abstract, scary future event into a hard and present tense fact. We have movers coming to quote. We have lease papers to sign. We are selling some of our Giant American furniture that fits our Giant Glasgow flat but will be ridiculous in our tiny Cambridge terraced house.  I have change of address things to fill out for the mail redirection. We have a new nursery for Lewis all signed up. I have started good-byeing, knowing that in 2 short weeks or so, we won't (gulp) LIVE here.

It always helps me (as any of you regular readers know) to list it out. Properly annotate just the very things I am processing. It helps me move through the treacle.

So my beginnings of my endings here. I am sad about leaving Scotland. Full-Stop. It has been a most welcoming country. It likes Americans. It  is not pretentious or snobby or competitive. It has a live and let live feeling. And a sense of culture and collective spirit that is enviable. People are friendly. I have friends.  I have people. It is home. And I hope in some ways it always will be. 

In no apparent order, things I will miss:
  • Hearing random bagpipes playing
  • Kelvingrove Park- so close, so big, our big garden 2 blocks away
  • An Clatchan cafe's easy, perfect park location, caramelised onion sausage sandwiches and open toy policy, a respite for the weary parent with great cake and an outside seat to watch the playpark while you sip
  • Biblos chocolate cake, reliable lattes and owner gossip
  • The 44 bus
  • Grassroots Charlie, always ready with a fun chit chat and a welcome for a local shopper
  • Kilts
  • Seeing wedding parties walk down the street to the civil ceremonies place
  • Lupe Pintos access to all things Tex Mex and oddly necessary American things
  • Our large, tall rooms to roam all on one floor
  • Having a baby in the familiar if imperfect princess royal hospital
  • Dear pal Rhona, real talk and real laughing with kindred spirit, movie nights at GFT
  • Acorn Nursery's sincere and relentless staff friendliness
  • My sunny yellow kitchen so lovingly upgraded by Mark
  • Scotland's space, absence of crowds and heat
  • My dear fellow mothering pals to commiserate and kvetch with, learn from, and watch our littles grow big together. I am sad I won't be here for more of the journey together. 
  • My supportive and earthy acupuncturist Maureen, seeing me through 2 natural pregnancies
  • My first home purchase of lovely historic flat with 16 foot ceilings and more rooms than we knew what to do with
  • The place where I became a mother, we became a family and Lewis had his first home
  • The toy room, TV room. big bed, tiny bed
  • Friendly, open non judgemental Scottish people
  • Kick ass curries
  • Trips to the elephant museum/transport museum
  • Park Circus views
  • Glaswegian blether 
And when it makes me too sad, I try to think of the things we are looking forward to in our relocation to Cambridge.

  • more chances of actual sunshine
  • flat biking 
  • a truly international community
  • a (more) non smoking & healthy environment
  • English country pubs
  • being a 1.5 hour drive away from grandparents
  • no more climbing 50+ stairs to our flat with a baby, a toddler, a pregnant belly or shopping
  • the Cambridge market
  • seeing old Cambridge buddies
  • another step closer to home
  • train ride easy access to London
  • coming full circle to where I started my UK adventure and Mark & I stopped just dating and started our lives together
  • posh accents
  • seeing Mark Love his job again
  • my baby girl being born English
 So as I process and we move forward at a speed I feel a bit dizzy from, it rips the band aid off. It would always be hard to leave. I would always be sad. Maybe fast is better. Maybe, like Lewis like to say, we are sailing to the sunshine next.  And that can only be good news.

    Thursday, 5 April 2012

    come together. right now.

    I can scarcely believe I have stolen this slice of the clock to sit and reflect. It feels suspiciously intended for me to gather and comment.

    Moving house, late stage pregnancy, managing toddlers, selling a flat: what are things that are complicated. what are things that are stressful. what are things that are tiring.

    All true. And yet, here I am with an hour on my own. Chores done. Lists crossed off (for now). And  a sense of not calm exactly, but more okay-ness with it all.

    I feel like I have been staring at a mountain of puzzle pieces that someone dumped out -- all the same colour and no picture as a guide. Daunting and brain-achingly big. But somehow we've managed a few of the edge pieces together ... and a few of the central ones. I still don't know where many of the pieces go, or what the picture looks like, but I now see it is possible.

    It helps and soothes enormously that my partner is deeply committed to problem solving, puzzle piecing and is not scared to put an excel spreadsheet to good use. I just keep turning the pieces over and lining them up. Once in a while I find one that fits.

    No big lesson here or lofty epiphany here, just a deep sense of relief that things, which seemed endlessly complicated, are actually fitting quite nicely. 

    Sunday, 18 March 2012

    sharp left turn

    Image: cbenjasuwan /
    We have been sadly been living a Bon Jovi song ... living on a prayer. Which is a bit tough for an agnostic and a very lapsed Catholic.

    Jobs end, money stops, mortgages and bills carry on.
    Not real fun.
    And now, we are half way there (continuing my Bon Jovi theme.)

    A nice juicy contract position and a future to lean into ... ahhh.

    And it is in Cambridge.

    Not. Glasgow. Not even Scotland.

    So here we are on the eve on this all beginning. The kick off.

    After a long, cold winter of worrying and waiting for change, tomorrow it starts.

    Tomorrow he begins this job.
    Tomorrow we begin time apart while we work on moving forward.
    Tomorrow things change.

    I think the AA serenity prayer is particularly handy right now.

    As well as trust. Faith. Hope. Connection. And most of all love.

    We know that as long as we are together, happy, healthy and comfortable, our home is together. And that together is just going to be somewhere else.

    Selling the flat, packing, moving, explaining it all to a 2.5 year old all while carrying the load of a 3rd trimester at my advanced maternal age with my tiny tolerance for chaos may test my mettle. And my sanity.

    So we take this sharp left. We aren't sure what it looks like. Or how it will be. But does anyone? Every time the Universe has asked demanded change and I can go without attachment and with an open heart and a clear vision, it has blown my expectations wide.

    So we begin with eyes open, hearts full.

    Friday, 24 February 2012

    sheer poetry

    Every once in a while you come across a new idea that some smart person has executed and it makes instant sense.

    Thanks to my dear friend and inspiring human, Hanna Cooper, I've been turned on to a brilliant site.

    Simple, inspiring and the kind of thing that stops you for that oddly important moment to get out of your grumbling navel-living and gives you a tiny peek into your bigger world.  Which feels like a deeply welcome respite.

    It is called Bentlily: one poem a day, the art of noticing your life -- and the inspiration of a woman called Samantha Reynolds.  It is poetry about love, parenthood, the beauty of nature, creativity and this tender and curious life. Yum.

    You sign up to get a new poem every day, handy-like in your email. I've only gotten two so far and I am already hooked. You can even make an "insta-poem" and use this cool little app to create your own poem by providing key words.

    Here was yesterday's poem by guest poet Grace Kenina.

    The next act

    Being present
    does not mean ignoring
    the future

    plan for the next act
    of your life
    as you would a special guest
    coming for dinner

    scrub down the unkind voices
    the ones that tell you lies
    like you are not

    write love letters
    to your future

    stand knee-deep in the moment
    feel the buttery mud under your boot
    the blunt air of winter

    press your attention
    against your breath

    look deep inside

    tomorrow’s dreams
    are already

    Thwack. It hits me centrally in my solar plexus. As I stand precariously on the tippy top of a next chapter, it reminds me to relax into change. I want to feel the buttery mud. And trust that tomorrow's dreams are on their way.

    Poetry. Like music. Like art. Like beauty. Can serve to remind that the world is bigger than your walls, more magical than you imagine, and offers slender slices of hope.

    I urge you to not deny yourself that.

    Saturday, 4 February 2012

    talking bout my girl

    I was just looking back at old blog posts to see when I started to look actually pregnant and not just like I have a big gut (about 5 months) and I was reading old posts from that time of pregnancy. I was to interested. I was so switched on. So passionate. So not exhausted.

    So I am 21 weeks pregnant now with our baby girl child and I have yet to really think of what it is going to be like, much less what is happening down under. In one short birth experience have I become so blase and uninterested? What a difference experience makes ... takes a lot of the unknown and the fear out ...

    I find that what I am doing now, besides eating chocolate digestives, is thinking ... this is a GIRL.

    Girl. Girl. G-I-R-L!

    Purple things and hair treats and the possibility of not having to brooooom cars (or not as constantly), of mother/daughter closeness, of adolescence and menopause clashing, of being a woman role model. Funny, I didn't feel those things when we were expecting a boy ... what did I know of a boy? Foreign country. And they still are .. lovely & different. But girls ... I AM one. What am I expecting to be different?  Easier? Harder?  I guess I think I have expectations, which I really did not with a boy.

    Must try to erase those expectations as girl or boy babe... this is a new person, first and last of her kind, true original.

    As she continues to grow and become more of a peson, I want to remember to honour this soul, this individual as she comes and just hope and pray she likes stripy tights.

    Sunday, 29 January 2012

    birthday eve

    photo from
    Tomorrow I am 44.  Forty-Four.
    It has a nice, even, symmetrical quality about it, even if it is a number that feels a bit too big and a bit too foreign. In my mind, I think about 38 is right.
    Even more so, since I am now 21 weeks pregnant with a baby girl child.
    Being 44 and half-way there to birth is far more knackering that it was at 41.
    I am tired and not so very patient.  Makes me want to take a bit of stock on just what and where I am today on my birthday eve.

    I am:

    • pregnant
    • almost 44
    • OK, we covered that
    • tired
    • ditto
    • often blank of mind when I have 10 minutes of quiet
    • in love with my bed
    • illogically laundry obsessed
    • disinterested in most current affairs
    • nervous if I don't have both a book to read and a book to listen to
    • eating much cheese
    • scared to drive our newly acquired car (I haven't driven in the UK since the DAY of my test. In 2006. Hello)
    • worried about having 2 children drain my waning energies
    • worried that child 1 will be sad not to have his mum all to himself 
    • worried that I have no recall on how to care for actual baby
    • realising this list is not as whimsical and light as I imagined it
    • trying now to think of really positive things
    • blank of mind
    OK. Let me try something else ... here's what I want for my 44th year
    • endurance
    • patience
    • flexibility
    • light-heartedness
    • giggles
    • family hugs
    • embracing change
    • ever expanding love supply for all my important people including myself
    • financial stability
    • ability to find the silly
    • be the best mother, partner, daughter and friend I can be
    • appreciate the many magical tiny moments I have each day
    • one eye on the horizon so I can picture where we are going and start to get excited about being there
    • gratitude for the ways which I know, I already have all of those things