Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A dramatic week

It’s been a funny old week.

My other half has been working nights so I am feeling like a single parent.

Despite my remonstrations, Little Bean has started an amorous relationship with the toilet brush.

Someone from Hollyoaks asked me for directions (the interesting bit of this is that someone asked me for directions. I’ve mentioned before that this is rarely in their best interests).

I discovered bulgar wheat is much tastier than it sounds.

And, after eight years at the same company, I handed in my notice.

It was emotional. So, as of 19th October I will be relying on the whims of the freelancing editorial market and perhaps working part time. I will also hopefully be witnessing Little Bean’s first steps - I’m convinced she isn’t yet walking because I’ve been at work and neglecting her motor skill development (ridiculous, I know but there you have it).

So there you go. Get in touch if you have any freelance editing/copywriting work. I’m available. And can somebody on Dragon’s Den please invent a wall-mounted toilet brush?

Update: As it turns out...I have been offered a wonderful part-time position for the most fantastic, dynamic, family-friendly company! 'Put it out there to the universe,' my friend said. I did and the universe was really very generous in return.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Where's Wally and his missus

The other day on entering a trendy north London office, I came across a life-size cardboard cut-out of (Where’s) Wally in the entrance. As Wally and I curiously checked each other out, someone in the very open-plan office chirpily called out (loudly, so everyone else could hear). ‘Oh, look. Which one’s Wally?!’ Then she pointed. At me. It was at this stage that I realised I was dressed in a nautical red-striped top, with my glasses on and there wasn’t much to tell me and the cardboard guy apart.

Annoyingly, the ground refused to open up and swallow me so Wally and I stood there grinning like idiots while everyone had a giggle. Mortifying? Slightly.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m unlikely to be granted front row seats at any fashion show, but it appears that if I’m not to be mistaken for cartoon characters I’m going to need a little help from the professionals. To Topshop!

Well, that was shortlived. It looks like I’ve outgrown Topshop. Has anybody else noticed all the neon that’s around at the moment? Is this because the clocks are due to go back soon and we’re going for a high visibility look? Or is fashion really backtracking to the Eighties?

I quickly decided that looking like a highlighter was not for me so headed home to do some ‘style research’ online. And this is where my wonderful fellow bloggers came up trumps.

There’s the unfairly gorgeous Amanda at the Online Stylist whose bags/shoes/shawls/hair I covet.

Then there’s the style section on Mindful Mum that always inspires me.

And if you’re having one of those days and can’t decide what to wear (and have had it with the other half’s ‘it’s fine’), you can upload a pic of you and your outfit to Avenue 57 where other mum’s will happily comment on your choice and advise (they’re very nice so don’t worry, no one’s going to say your butt looks big in that).

Personally, I’m off to cull my wardrobe of anything that smacks of cartoon characters. Out go spots (Minnie Mouse), anything pink (Peppa Pig) and obviously all stripes.

That leaves me with just black and grey - so I'm either channelling the grim reaper or Kate Moss's rock 'n roll look. No need to comment which, thanks very much, I can work it out myself.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Why Did Nobody Tell Me?

Pre-Little Bean I did my homework. I read every pregnancy manual/website around so I knew when her eyelids would be developing, when to expect indigestion, and how long stage two labour would likely take.

The big day came, everything went (relatively) smoothly. All the carefully curated knowledge I'd assimilated in the preceding nine months was a huge help and I felt decidely smug at being so well prepared.

And then…I came to the shocking realisation that I had done absolutely no reading about post-birth. I didn’t even know which way round a nappy went. This was not good.

Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it) I had lots of reading time, usually in the wee hours when feeding. The pregnancy books were quickly replaced with the most popular baby-rearing books (you know which ones I mean). My plan was to read as many schools of thought as I could and then come to my own conclusions. One of them must suit my/our lifestyle?

Apparently not. My Little Bean had obviously not done her homework either and wasn't giving any of the clear signals indicating hunger, tiredness, over-stimulation etc. that all babies are supposed to. Instead she went from happy baby to manically unhappy baby within a few seconds, with no eye-rubbing, glassy staring, opening of mouth or anything else to give us the slightest inkling what we should be preparing for. We were reactive rather than proactive in my house.

The manuals, I have to say were all pretty useless. I got most of my info from the internet, googling random searches like ‘why won’t my baby go to sleep?’, ‘will I go to hell for giving her a dummy?’, ‘is it acceptable to kick in the shins the next person who tells me theirs slept through the night from week one?’

Tips from other mothers were a godsend, online forums a lifesaver and founts of anecdotal but incredibly useful information. Which is why I highly recommend this book.

Why did Nobody Tell Me Mumsnet

Drawn from the message boards of it’s full of useful tips and observations from other mums sharing their wit, wisdom and frustration. My favourite chapters include 'Drink wine and hide: the art of playdates', 'Don't call it a Twinkle', 'Let them eat dirt', 'Don't buy a Moses basket' and 'If you prefer his brother, take it to the grave'.

My advice for new mums (because as a mum already I am now qualified to dispense uncalled for advice at any given moment) is to save yourself a fortune in baby manuals and rather find your own parenting way through other mum’s input, common sense and trial and error. And if you need a laugh, because let’s face it the only way you can get through parenthood is by hanging on to your sense of humour for all you’re worth, then treat yourself to this book to keep you entertained during the early hours. You’ll soon discover, that no, it’s not just you.

Why did nobody tell me? They just did.

*This book was sent to me by the publishers for review

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

One year milestone

Today is a momentous day in the Bean household. Little Bean is finally an actual age and no longer needs to be quantified in weeks, which her mathematically challenged mother stopped doing when she was about 4 weeks. She is officially one whole year old. 

The past year has been alternatively stressful (especially for my poor washing machine which has never been so overworked) and emotional (me when the aforementioned washing machine briefly broke down).

So, time then to reflect on the year, to think about what we have learnt and what we can improve on in the future.

Is it bollocks. It’s time for me and hubby to crack open the bubbly that has been gathering dust since we got it as a gift a year ago today and toast each other’s brilliance competence at being first-time parents. It's been wild (although this definition has changed slightly since a few years ago), and involved less sleep than any human should be able to survive on. Still, we're here. Little Bean still has all fingers and toes, and seems to be fairly well adjusted. And the only real argument Mr Bean and I have is about where she gets her 'big personality' (i.e. temper) from. Obviously his side of the family. Overall though we're quite pleased with ourselves.

Cheers to us!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Back from holiday

So we are back from a fabulous holiday in Northern France. Despite my fears, the house was not a scam and was actually even more idyllic than I pictured. We were in the proper countryside (with occasional wafts of cow poo to prove it) and it was honestly the most beautiful setting you could imagine.

La Hideaway

The garden was so…French. With a grapevine and gooseberries and a hammock. Although we did take along an unwelcome guest (the Norovirus hitched a lift and generously spread itself around to each of us in turn) we still managed to consume vast quantities of cheese, wine and Toulouse sausages. The weather was glorious (amazing what a little bit of channel separation does for the climate) and on the odd night where there was a bit of a chill in the air, we merely used the indoor fireplace to cook our food – now how’s that for a must-have home appliance.

There’ll be more in the next few days but I thought I’d best point out to followers that I haven’t in fact fallen off the face of the earth. Hope I didn’t miss much?

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A French Holiday

For the past two weeks Mr Bean has been talking in a French accent and throwing random French words and phrases into everyday conversations.

Me: What shall we have for dinner?
Him: Ouvrez la fenetre! (Open the window.)

Me: How was your day?
Him: Tournez a gauche. (Turn left.)

Me: Is our car insurance coming up for renewal?
Him: Voulez vous...etc  (Would you like to...etc)

Strangely I haven't yet found it annoying. This is probably why:

We have booked a holiday in a sweet little cottage in France. 

Although the owner has lived up to the stereotype and been particularly blunt and uncommunicative when we’ve asked about local shops, parking etc so am really hoping the cottage really does exist and is not a cobbled together scam. If it is you’ll no doubt see me back on here tonight ranting about it.

There will be cheese. 

Lots of cheese. Fellow tweeter and cheeseholic @Grannyteeth has confirmed this by sending me this photo of the Camembert aisle. Yes, that would be an entire aisle dedicated to one type/genre/species? of cheese.  Not a plasticky dairy item in sight. Cheese nirvana.

There is a hammock. 

I intend to while away many an hour swinging blissfully under the trees reading a book and sipping crisp French wine. Or Champagne. Of course, this particular plan has conveniently erased the fact that I have an almost one-year-old. So in reality we’ll probably have to revise that to ‘I intend to while away many a five-minute interval swinging blissfully…etc.’

We will be in close proximity to the Belgian border.

So if we tire of the French wine and mountains of cheese we have the option of  crossing the border and heading to a Trappist brewery for world-renowned beers, and moules and frites.

Yes, I know. I am going to stop being all smarmy and go sniff out the escargot. A plus tard!