Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Watery Reflections

Last night whilst Paul was multi-tasking (playing ‘boardgames’, and babysitting) I enjoyed a late night swim, and lounge around in the Jacuzzi at the gym. Not too surprisingly my thoughts turned to a friend’s observations on Jacuzzi etiquette. I have three observations of my own – which since I’m lacking inspiration and motivation to write anything else, I will put here.

1) My friend, Steer is right that there is an unwritten rule that when the bubbles stop whoever is nearest the steps (and consequently nearest to the Jacuzzi ‘on’ button) is expected to get out to turn it back on. However, there also appears to be a chivalrous element to the male gym members and if it is a woman nearest to the bubbles then she isn’t expected to get out. There’s not even an ‘are you going to go or am I’ questioning look – as soon as the bubbles stop there’s a chivalrous man half standing up to get out. (And I double checked that it applies to women generally not just me – so it can’t be explained by them not wanting to see my blubbery body!)

2) No body speaks to anybody in the Jacuzzi, unless they already know them. In fact, there is almost a London Underground determination not even to make eye contact – let alone say thank you if some presses the on button. I particularly notice this, because if you are sat in non-bubbling hot water in the toddler pool there is almost an inverse expectation that you will chat to other parents as your child refuses to share floats/toys with theirs! Yet I can’t be the only person who sits in both places – such situational conditioning!

3) Far too many times when I have been recently (late at night without Ellie – with the main intention of going of sitting in the Jacuzzi and avoiding all exercise), the Jacuzzi has been out of action. I am sure this is linked to the extra frothy water which often occurs and which Steer and I have speculated is possibly due to people failing to rinse their shampoo. Anyway, last night I found floating in the Jacuzzi a half full travel size shampoo bottle (thankfully with lid on), which I fished out. I suspect it says a lot about the gym prices that it was a bottle of Molton Brown shampoo!!!

As you can tell, it was a lovely evening – very relaxing, and completely switched off from work and motherhood!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Last week, most of my working week was spent on a training course on supervision. Today, I had an unexpected ‘difficult’ conversation with one of the people I supervise. At the end of the conversation, it struck me that the conversation had been almost identical to a role play I had done on the training… if only I had realised earlier maybe I could have actively used the strategies discussed at the end of the role play to improve the outcome. (On the other hand, two hours later the worker informed me they had now done all the tasks I had asked of them so something about the conversation must have worked!)

It’s probably an indication of my level of overwork last week, that although I am contracted to work 2.5 days, it was a three day training course. And that was only ‘most’ of my working week! But my jobshare partner is back at work today after 10 weeks off sick – I was so glad to see her….!!!! I feel a spring in my step, a song in my heart, and an all over glow of happiness. (Which will probably last until Monday since I’m not working again until then).

Terrible Twos or Terrific Twos?

Ellie is now two! She stirred on her birthday morning at 5am, then woke properly shouting for “mummy” at 5.30am. She often wakes early, so this isn’t really unusual. However, it was also a strange co-incidence since two years earlier, she had woken me up with a strange pain at 5am (at which point, for reasons which I don’t really understand, I got up and did the washing up from the night before) and at 5.30 very strong contractions started. Luckily for me, the rest of her birthday this year went very differently… with a really enjoyable birthday party, with friends, food, drink, pass the parcel, and much fun. As opposed to a stream of midwives, a few glucose sweets and far more drugs than I’d expected!

A few moments reflection has left me amazed at how much my life has changed, at the strength of feeling in unconditional love, at the enormous number of clothes Ellie has grown out of, at the number of nursery rhymes I have learnt/remembered, at how toys creep into every corner of the house despite attempts to contain them in boxes and tubs, at how brazen I have become at ignoring tantrums in the middle of shops, at the way my heart still skips a beat when she takes my hand in her tiny one… Friends, books and even complete strangers all told me how different life would be once I’d had my baby. It’s not that I didn’t believe them because I did, but I really had no idea about just how different it would be. Or how it would be constantly changing as Ellie changes, with new joys, new challenges and new experiences.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Water Water Everywhere

I’ve always found it quite hard to understand why on an island surrounded by water we often have water shortages. I’m finding it even harder to understand how Thames Water have a hosepipe ban when I pass at least a dozen flooded fields on my way home from work.

Assuming flooding is better than drought (at least where both are in moderation) this is yet another reason why it’s better to be ‘up North’.

Breast is best

Depending upon your views on breasts, or more specifically extended breastfeeding, you may be advised to read no further…!


I read on a friend’s blog a while ago (I’d do a link if I was clever – but I’m not) that you know you’ve been breastfeeding too long if your ‘baby’ says “The other side Mummy” and you hear “The Udder side”.

In relaying this anecdote to another friend, she laughed and assumed I’d reached the end as I said “The other side, Mummy”. I assume she felt babies were too old to breastfeed once they could speak.

Ellie is 2 next week. Initially I wanted to feed her for 6 months – because I’d read that had lots of health benefits. By 6 months we both enjoyed the feeds – and I’d learnt by then that the WHO believe there are health benefits in feeding up to 2 years – so we carried on. Although I’ve kept the idea in the back of my mind that I’ll stop feeding Ellie when she’s 2. Which, as I’ve just said, is next week.

I’ve got mixed feelings though. It’s just so lovely having her feed and snuggle against me when she’s just woken and I’m still half asleep (after all, if I don’t feed her I’ve have to properly get up at 5.30am!). And being able to use a feed as instant paracetamol substitute if she’s had a bad fall, or is ill, and needs more comfort than a ‘kiss better’. And having that quiet time together at the end of a long day at nursery/work.

On the other hand, not only does she demand “other side, mummy”, but she’s also told me “I got snot on mummy-milk. Tissue, mummy”.

And yet I’m having a hard time preparing to stop feeding her – sometimes I amaze myself!!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Paul and I went out to our Salsa class last night. We only started going a few weeks ago and have had to miss a few weeks as our regular, trusted babysitter wasn’t well, so we are still very much in the beginner phase. I’m amazed by how much I enjoy it - which I’m conscious sounds a little odd given that I was the one who talked Paul into going.

I thought it would be a fun thing to do together – some time for us as a couple rather than a family. I also thought that it might be a good chance to show to Paul that actually he does dance well. (Paul consistently gets better scores than me on the occasions when we go on our playstation dancemat but dismisses this as ‘it’s not dancing; it’s just moving in time to the music’!)

Salsa is much harder than I expected. There’s a lot of different steps and moves - even within the limited ‘beginner’ repertoire. There is also an emphasis on it being a social dance so the aim is to be able to ‘mix and match’ these moves on the dancefloor – with the guy leading and the woman hopefully understanding what’s expected of her as she follows rather than being choreographed. I know that given a choice, I don’t usually undertake things in which I expect not to be at least vaguely competent. I think it’s partly a confidence thing – I don’t like the risk of looking like an idiot when it’s avoidable. I also think, why do something when I’ll almost certainly not be good at it, when I could use that time for something which I am better at doing. It’s probably got a lot to do with my perfectionist streak. All of which are reasons why I am amazed at how much I enjoy Salsa.

I like that Paul and I are doing something together, but that because we constantly change partners it’s a very different experience for both of us. I like feeling virtuous that I am doing something which could be (loosely) described as exercise on a Friday evening. I like that I need to use a part of my brain that I don’t usually use – the bit that co-ordinates my body to move in a planned /structured way rather than automatically. Trying to create from scratch the physical and intellectual memory for Salsa is a real challenge, and one of the things I most love about it. When I’m in the class, my whole brain power has to be applied to dancing – there’s simply no room left to dwell on any of the events of the week. It is a perfect and total switch off. And on top of that, it really doesn’t matter that I’m not any good. Lots of the other people aren’t any good either – but we’re trying, and having fun whilst we do it. And it’s an added bonus when I do get a sequence of steps right!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My life in a pint glass

I was supposed to be going out with friends to a club on Saturday night (although due to sore throat, laryngitis and a toddler who hasn’t properly slept these last few nights, I didn’t manage it). I was asked earlier in the week if I had any preference about which pub to go to beforehand. Once upon a time, this would have been a simple question; that time I now realise was quite some time ago.

I hadn’t realised that I no longer went out drinking in town. It was never a conscious decision – I still think about myself as someone who goes out for a few drinks. However, the fact is that I no longer have any preferences about which pub to drink in, because I can hardly remember the last time I went out to one. Actually that sentence is inaccurate on two counts. Firstly, I do have pub preferences ie ones with child-friendly lunchtime menus, buggy access and no smoking areas - but that’s not helpful in choosing a pub for a Saturday night out. Secondly, I can remember the last time I went out to a pub (in fact I can remember all 8 places I’ve had a drink in over the last 2.5 years). It’s probably that fact that makes me realise how much I’ve changed!

Over the last couple of days I’ve idly wondered: How did my self perception become so separated from reality? But I suspect this question is really the result of too little sleep and too many painkillers. The real question is “how do I (re)discover my favourite pub?” which will be much more fun to find the answer to!