Saturday, 31 May 2014

If only I had more time...

If you had more time, what would you do with it?

I guess we are thinking about what amount of time we are dealing with here.

An hour?  Maybe get some washing done, get the hoover out, catch up on old work.

An afternoon?  Catch up with a friend, clean out an over-flowing cupboard, tick some chores off your ever-growing list.

A day?

Wow, a day.

A whole day?

In my mind, the limits are endless.  So much could happen if I had a whole day.  I would disappear to immerse myself in another city, pamper myself past the point of complete self-indulgence, spend time getting fit, creating wonderful meals and making things in front of my sewing machine. Volunteering. Planning my life. Writing my novel. Planting up the garden.

Or would I?

Would I use the time wisely, or would I find other ways to lose it?

So easy to become consumed in someone else's drama, someone else's nuances, someone else's dilemmas.  The time disappears in a friend's conversation about work, a neighbour's well-meaning chit chat, a check-up at the dentist.

Is time ever really our own or do we always owe time to other things?  How easy is it to let go of what you should be doing and go with what you want to do?

How much of what you want to do is considered time-sapping worthlessness?

Is anything worthless if you enjoy and involve yourself in it?

Ah, the conundrums of life.

Muse on that for a spell, if you will... your time though!


Friday, 30 May 2014

The Pain of Motherhood

Thanks, photoshop!

#1: The C-Section

Happy happy days.  Not one, but two.
First one was an alleged 'emergency' (which I dispute to this day), second one 'elective'.

What's it like?

Hmm...initially, fine.  It's fine - really it is.  I felt nothing.

Until I stood up for the first time after the spinal tap wore off.

Then, it's like you've been sliced in two.  You literally have no balance - your core muscles have been sliced in half, thus standing up alone is some kind of mission.

Then there's the lovely rope-burn-like pain of getting the one long running stitch out after 4 days.

Oh, and the burny burny injections of Fragmin that you have to get because of the risk of DVT.

And I got a body-wracking post-op infection which had me on a drip for two days.

The lovely catheter and ensuing bag of urine I got to carry around on a frame, so I could hang it beside me wherever I went, which was awesome. And totally made it into my baby photos.  Classy.

I had to sleep sat up for about a week.

But apart from that (and the occasional ache in the scar), c-section wasn't so bad.  Honest.

#2 Hips

My hips were ruined.

Due to the sheer weight of Tom, who offset my whole pelvis due to being massive at birth (10lb and 9oz!), and a growing Ethan, my hips and pelvis decided that SPD would be a nice addition to my second pregnancy.

I was on crutches for 10 weeks.

Pain is having to chase a toddler up stairs while crippled with SPD. Oh joyful, joyful condition.

#3 Back

I have just spent the last 9 months courting some horrible back pain and I'm pretty sure it's due to sharing my bed with small children in the night, perched on the edge, on one shoulder.  I went for X-Rays yesterday and am hoping it's not permanent damage.

Because kids don't just daintily sneak in and take up a small child-sized space.

Oh No.

They starfish.  And kick, and push, and shove and sit on top of the covers.

And no, I'm not moving them, because we have just been through...

#4 The Pain Of Sleeplessness

Yep.  And I mean physical pain.

Ethan had night terrors for 3 whole years.

That's 3 years of pure screaming, crying, and inconsolable anger and fear for 3 whole years.

Every. Night.

I don't know if you've seen anyone suffer from night terrors, but it's really fucking horrible for everyone concerned.  And the resulting interruption of your sleep pattern like that makes you physically and mentally knackered, grumpy and very, very sore.  All over.

Which is why, if the small child wants to sleep in my bed, he can sleep in my bed.  Any way he wants.

Because we are not going back there.


#5 Headaches

'I want to watch Peppa Pig'
'I can have more milk pweese?'
'My not like 'nanas!'
'But Muuuuuum, I wanted to play my game!'
'It's NOT. FAIR!'
'Muuuum, he pushed me!'
'Can we go to the park after tea and before bed?'
'Mum, I'm finished, but I'm still hungry!'
'My not WANT pasta!'
'My WANT pasta!'
'Can we have cake?'

It never ends.  Ever.

Pass the paracetamol.

And caffeine...

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Thank You Dr. Angelou

With the sad news of the passing of one of my literary heroes, I wanted to share a poem of hers and also a response I have written.

Thank you Maya - you gave women like me a reason to write and a voice.  You were so many things to so many people.


I hope you forgive my stab at poetry.  I wanted to think of you as a wise old oak tree - hidden deep in a forest, still absorbing life from this world and nourishing it with your thoughts.

Here's Maya's poem:

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”

-Maya Angelou


Thank You Maya

You rose up, my love,
And with your arms open,
Embraced us all.

From an age of malice, sprung understanding,
And in perpetual seasons of discontent
Spread forth your wings, shining light on the dark shadows of the world.

For the hopeless; hope
For the poor; a wealth of words
For the thirsty; a never ending spring
Which ran into tides
That pulled us all in, lifted us up
And kept us afloat.

In the forest, unseen, a wizened oak
Dips it's roots in the river
And tickles the trickle with tiny tendrils
Nourishing its decades with fresh water thoughts.
Laughingly peaceful and happy at home
In woods, where no man can find her.
Her thoughts keep her dancing,
And light up the world
As the leaves on her branches transform the air
Into something we can breathe.

When great souls like you die,
The world chants clear:
She existed, she existed
We can be. Be and be
Better because she existed.

-Genna Millar

Malmaison Dundee and a Happy Birthday Meal

Last night was a bit of a grown-up night.  I had a seriously great time with some seriously great people.  In a seriously classy and grown-up location. Not a ball pool, screaming child or yoghurt stain in sight (well, except on Dave's trousers - the kids asked for yoghurt before we left the house!)

This is the Tay Hotel as it has been ever since I can remember - a huge, landmark building in the middle of our City, derelict and full of mystery.

I love old buildings and am a huge fan of Urban Exploration sites like 28DaysLater.

I was always disappointed to see that nobody had attempted to enter this building for a bit of urban exploration.  It's like anything forbidden - you are just dying to see inside!

Since it's decline in the 1980's, this huge hotel has been boarded up and ravaged by time, hidden from the world.  Sitting in a prominent position in one of Dundee in one of it's busiest thoroughfares it was more than a bit of an eyesore.  Thus, it was great news when Malmaison put in a bid for the property way back in 2011, in line with plans for a whole of Dundee Waterfront redevelopment by the council, who are going for a thoroughly different view from across the bridge.

Just look at it now!
Malmaison has transformed the formerly derelict Tay Hotel into a grand, modern interpretation of classy chic in the heart of the city.

Dave and I were delighted to be invited to dine there for a very good friend's 30th birthday celebration. A great chance to dress up and finally get a nosey at what's inside!

 Mather's Temperence Hotel was built in 1899, during the Victorian era of alcohol prohibition and was a big pull for dock workers and travellers arriving from the neighbouring railway station.

Featuring some original Victorian iron-work inside on the staircase, as well as some stunning masonry and period features and a stunning domed roof, the new, swish and very fancy Malmaison is a true boutique hotel, offering some gorgeous surroundings in which to relax and enjoy.

The original wrought iron staircase and domed roof
When Dave and I arrived, everyone else was already seated (thanks kids for dragging out the long goodbyes) and we opened the glass doors, pausing at the foot of the stairs.

This being our first visit to the hotel, we were initially stumped as to where to go - but soon deduced that the only way was up (baby).

At the top of the stairs, the maitre'd was waiting to show us into the Brasserie, which was furnished with the most expensive-looking, flocked, mini-chesterfield chairs I have ever seen!  A living-flame fire was ensconced in the centre of the room, with faux-wooden panel wallpaper on the walls. A bespoke leather corner sofa was installed at the bay window, which looked out over the site of the new waterfront development; that's gonna be a helluva view when they're finished!

We finally go seated beside our lovely friends, and were immediately served a glass of filtered tap water and handed a menu.

It was so lovely to be out with our friends.  Old friends are the best friends, and although we don't see each other very often due to distance and circumstance, we all just gelled.  It was such a nice, relaxed and comfortable evening in lovely surroundings, where we all caught up and relaxed into it, with the nice addition of birthday cake!

Our meals were lovely - I ordered the Pan Pasta (which came served in an actual pan!)

Pan Pasta
A plain pasta, with a kick of red chilli and basil,topped with mozarella balls, it was very filling.  I couldn't finish it all.  Dave had Porcini Mushroom Risotto, which he said was very nice too, although perhaps a touch salty.  He ate it all though!

Porcini Risotto

Desserts were amazing - I opted for Chocolate Souffle with vanilla ice-cream which was perfect; well-risen and nice and gooey and hot in the middle. Dave went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was moist and served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream too.

Choc Souffle!

Heather and Hassan's Hot Chocolate!

The service was very good throughout, with ninja-like waiters, who filled your water-glass, sometimes without you even noticing, even bringing out tinfoil so we could wrap up bits of the cool Totoro cake Heather had baked for Isa.  
Isn't he amazing!?
It was such a lovely evening overall.  And I finally feel like a grown-up after all this time! Kind of.
Maybe my 30th year will finally be the year I stop being daft?

Happy Birthday Isa :)

It was just one evening though - don't get too excited.  Dave still can't pose like a grown-up for a photo!

Dave and the drunken lurch (he hadn't been drinking)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Beach Bums

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the beach is usually hell with young kids.

Not to mention two small children who like to do anything BUT sit and make a sandcastle.

Previous trips to the beach with my two can be summed up quite nicely by the poem by Just A Normal Mummy.

Please read if you have ever had a shit time at the beach with babies!  You will not be disappointed!

I'm going to be quite smug, and probably jinx the next 40 trips to the beach by saying this:

*big deep breath*

We had a really good, calm, happy time at the beach the other day.

With both children.

*looks around to see if sky has fallen in.  Nope.  Carries on, touching wood*


It was so good.

I drove us to the beach, after school and nursery, we ate ice-cream, the kids wore shorts and t-shirts and went paddling in the water, coming back to base to build sandcastles, be buried in the sand (which Ethan thought was absolutely hilarious!) and then at the end, clambered back into the car and went home for tea.

Maybe it was some kind of twilight zone on the go, but I have photos to prove it.



Monday, 26 May 2014

What The Blethering Boys Are Playing Today: Lego Fort

As it was a long weekend this weekend, Dave took some time off to look after Thomas while I was at work. And the boys both love spending time with Dad, so Ethan stayed off nursery too.

What a fabulous time they had!

The highlight of the day has to be a visit from Auntie Jacqui and a new toy (a Lego truck!), after a spot of lunch at a bar.

Thanks Auntie Jacqui!

Lucky boys!

As with all new toys, this fuelled their imaginations and led play into new territory.  Dad, Jacqui and the kids all built an amazing Lego Castle!

Check it out!

The Lego men had a good day too by all accounts.

They had a couple of new friends added to their number.

Lego Marge is pretty cool.

So is Lego Grandpa Simpson!

Our kids have never watched The Simpsons, so this is definitely one for us adults.  I can see us trying to collect them - they are really cool and a total ride down nostalgia lane for Dave and I! 

Happy boy!
It was great to come home from a long day at work to see two happy faces and a calm and cool Daddy.

Family time is the best time.  Next time I hope I get to join in too!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Where we're NOT going on holiday...#1 Port Aventura

Sadly, we will not be going on holiday this year due to some pretty dire financial straits, but hey, we went to Disneyland last year, so we certainly cannot complain.

I'm still not sure how we are going to break the news to the boys, who are desperately excited about summer holidays (all 7 weeks of them!  Help!), but hey, that's life, huh?

Here's a review of all the fabby places we were dreaming of going this year.  I'm running this as series of blogs so as to give each the proper dream-time it deserves.

Dreams are allowed. Always dream big.

1. Port Aventura

When we were last in Port Aventura in 2010, it was amazing!  I am a total rollercoaster freak and really know my Vekomas from my Arrows.

When we booked Port Aventura it was just 1-year-old Thomas, Dave and I.  And what happened before we were due to make a final payment on this amazing, all-inclusive holiday of our lives?

I fell pregnant.

Worst timing ever.

Not only is it completely not fun being hugely pregnant in a hot country, but if you are 'embarassades' you cannot ride. Anything.

I think I was the most gutted I have ever been.

Dave, however, was in his element.  Not only could he ride all of the amazing rides front row as a single rider in the single queue lines, he also had a ready-made baby and bag watcher.

He rode the amazing and completely perfectly named Dragon Khan... cooled down on some truly awesome water-rides...

...and got to take Tom on some of his first theme park rides.

I have to say, although it was pretty much one of the most soul-destroying things ever for such a massive ride and theme park fan to have to sit on the sidelines as a bystander, not all was lost.

Port Aventura offered some of the best themeing I have seen - it certainly rivals Disney in terms of photo-ops and carefully-designed amenities.  There was plenty for people who cannot ride, for whatever reason, including maurauding Mariachi bands, Sesame Street characters so many fantastic side shows like puppeteers, bird displays and tribal dancing, all themed to either Meditteranea, The Far West, Mexico, China or Polynesia.

Staying at Hotel El Paso, we had an all-inclusive holiday, meaning unlimited breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets which offered an astounding array of cuisines, including traditional Spanish fare.  We also had our pick of snacks throughout the day in both the theme park and the hotel as part of our deal, and free refills on drinks to keep us all hydrated.

Imagine starting your day with this!

Staying on-site with a toddler also meant that we were among the first up, breakfasted and to enter the quiet park, which was a lovely way to start the day.  And having 10 nights there meant that we could chill out and take our time to wander around, rather than trying to cram it all in.

We were very lucky to have gone at the 15 year celebrations too - there were loads of extra decorations and activities.

As part of the package we booked through Thomas Cook, we also had a day trip in Barcelona, where we visited the huge Barcelona Zoo and went on a wander down Las Ramblas, the main market strip, which was certainly an eye-opener!

Las Ramblas
I think if we go back (WHEN we go back - I NEED to ride those rides!) we will definitely be going for 10 days.  It was a perfect length of time to accommodate everything that we could do and meant that we didn't knacker ourselves in the heat trying to 'do' rides.

Although, with 2 small boys who take up space on aeroplanes and sleep in real beds rather than a baby cot, we shall have to do some considerable saving up.

Looking at their website, they are teasing me with such beauties as Shambhala, the sister coaster to Dragon Khan

and a great new area that the kids will just die for

I swear, if Dave knocks me up before we can go back, he will be dealing with a home-made vasectomy!

In the meantime, we are saving, saving, saving.  Port Aventura is the perfect mix of sun and theme parking.

Take me back!

Stay tuned for the next instalment....our dreams of Disneyland! Dream big!

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