"At the beginning of 2010 I came across my diary from last year. I had a quick flick through and was hit with the realisation of exactly how much my life has changed since January ’09. My diary is littered with words like ‘Golden Globes’, ‘Baftas’, ‘Brits’ and ‘The Oscars’ – all of which my working life revolved around...

Fast forward a year and my January is barren. The pages are a wasteland of days and dates and woefully empty pages. My poor, poor moleskin must have been sobbing into its perfectly intact spine at such a pitiful sight..."

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas Time...

... Last year, mistletoe. This year, wine.

2009



2010

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

So Much To Do, So Little Time

TO DO LIST: w/c Dec 7, 2009

  • Get time for KR's hearing test at Edgware Hospital
  • Book baby massage course
  • Get times for Mummy & Me yoga at Triyoga Primrose Hill
  • Register birth at Camden Town Hall
  • Fill out child benefit form
  • Register KR at the doctors

TO DO LIST: w/c Dec 6, 2010

  • Buy Secret Santa present
  • Get babysitter for work Xmas party
  • Send thank you cards from Kaila-Rose (for her 1st birthday presents)
  • Organise press tickets for Cinderella @ Sadler's Wells and The Snowman @ The Peacock
  • Organise Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with Robbie

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Reformation Act

I remember the weeks of November in 2009 as a blur of midwife visits, trips to the breastfeeding clinic and being utterly unable to be left alone. One evening when The Kiwi threatened to attend a meeting, my hysteria was such that he had to cancel. Hormonal overload like never before.

In my 2010 Moleskine the biro inkings are taking their first tentative steps into a re-found social life and a re-formed sense of identity. I never actually went to anything while Kaila-Rose was settling into nursery, but there are press nights, shopping events and evenings with friends, written in alongside big, scribbly question marks. Which says much about my state of mind when I first went back to work.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Picture Perfect

I still remember the feeling when I set off for hospital the morning my induction was booked. I felt like I was going on holiday, it was exciting, it was unknown. I remember the ensuing mayhem of four days swerving in and out of labour as the inductions didn't quite kick in as they should, and the drama of the day that Kaila-Rose was born.

I remember the smell of her breath after she fed, her warm face fitting into the nook of my shouder and the first time she looked at me with her little blue eyes.

All of the gruesome stuff I've forgotten - my brain and my hormones have done me a real turn there.

I remember so much from that first year, some things that I can describe, some that I can't. Most were fascinating only to the Kiwi and I and no-one else. How endlessly we discussed napping, feeding and sleeping; how hysterical we found her first spring in the bouncer; how moved to tears by her first smile; how proud of her first step. Stuff that would bore the sh!t out of almost everyone else. Stuff that people only find amazing, joyful and hilarious when it's their own kid.

But I wanted to keep a record, a reminder of these precious memories. So, I put together a book called Kaila-Rose's First Year on www.photobox.co.uk. Painstaking work it was too - I scoured every pic, from The Kiwi's professional photographs to the snaps taken on my mobile phone. You can design the pages to have up to 9 images on each in a grid format for the bad quality ones (taken for the most part by yours truly), then the better images can fill a whole page.

It's a pretty perfect picture book if you ask me.

One Year Old

On this day last year:



12 November this year:


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Pause. Rewind.

Monday November 9, 2010: Induction booked at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead (overnight bag packed, new pyjamas bought, newborn outfit ready to rock).

Monday November 8 2011: Settling in at Hedon Day Nursery (Kaila-Rose has her own rucksack and a new pair of shoes).

Friday, 5 November 2010

Back To Work

This time last year I was off work and loving it. After a particularly hair-raising overnight stay at the Royal Free, I was advised complete bed rest. So, I took up knitting and watching daytime TV and was so overloaded with some kind of pregnancy chillax hormone that I positively basked in it. I knitted all day, and watched movies in the evening. Except I don’t think I ever saw the end of a film as I fell asleep every night at 8.30pm. Bliss.

This week, I’ve been back at work. And I have really enjoyed it. OK, so I might shed a little terry as I head off every morning, but getting back into the office and being invited to the Harry Potter Premiere, the Xmas launch at Harvey Nics and an on-set visit and interview with Will Young has all been quite fun. I know in the early days of Babydom I thought I’d never want to return to this, but to do it 3 days a week will be orright, I rex.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Inside & Out

This time last year I used to sing “hips so wide” to the tune of Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie. I couldn’t sleep due to the unbearable weight making my sternum feel like it was going to crack – really annoying as all everyone kept saying was “ooooh, make sure you get your sleep in now!” with knowing winks, that I totally didn’t get at the time. I was kicked pretty hard (no wonder The Midge was walking at 10 months, what with all the womb-house karate practice), and a tiny little upside down bottom pushing up into my diaphragm meant I had to crawl around on all fours after dinner, to create space.

Today, the two of us spent the afternoon dancing around to Russian Folk music in Russell Square for the Bloomsbury festival. We ate vegetable fritters together, made funny faces at strangers and laughed at nothing.

Tonight before bed, she held out those arms that last year were just bony little elbows poking my insides, put them around my neck and gave me a big hug.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Holiday Heaven

We’ve just got back from our first holiday as a family of three in Skye.

This time last year The Kiwi and I were on our way home from our Babymoon in Cornwall.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Mental

This time last year I was 31 weeks pregnant and undergoing vigorous hospital checks for pre-eclampsia. I was practically part of the furniture at the Royal Free's maternity day assesment unit.

Today, I have a healthy baby who is almost one year old, has five teeth, has taken her first steps and will only eat from a fork.

Mental.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Filthy Fun With Amy Winehouse

This weekend last year there was NOTHING in my diary.

Lo and behold, on Friday night, I went out... of my flat... with friends, to an actual, social event.

There were real life people there! I drank a beer! Take that, me of last year. In your face. (My face… erm…)

Anyways, contrary to the boring mc-snoringness of my ’09 empty moleskine page (at 31 weeks pregnant, I probably spent the evening like a beached whale on the sofa watching the tellybox) , I put my heels on and got me down to the Good Mixer for The Millstain’s birthday.

Well if you’re going to go out, you might as well do it in one of the filthiest places in the Big Smoke. But I am happy to report that it didn't smell like vomit quite as much as it used to. Also, seems I'm not the only one that's changed. Amy Winehouse's new boobs are really quite nice in the flesh.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Abbreviationsville

This time last year I fell in love with WTF and OMG, and went around pretending to be in Gossip Girl, “ex-oh-ex-oh-ing” everyone in sight. I tried to TTYN whenever I could, in the style of Paris Hilton (in an ironic way, you understand). However I often chastised people for LOL-ing me in txt msgs (don’t know why I didn’t like that one so much, but it really bugged me, and certainly never made me LMAO).

Nowadays, I am down pat with a whole other land of lingo – I chat with HHM’s (Happy Hippy Mummies) about EBF-ing (Exclusive Breast Feeding) our LO’s (Little Ones), discuss the antics of our DH’s (Dear Husbands) and ponder the pros and cons of CIO (Crying It Out) and PUPD (Pick Up Put Down).

Above all though, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is probably my most oft’ used abbreviation, from which I frequently suffer serious cases. Nights out are seriously few and far between. OK, so I have only actually attempted it once for one of my bestest buddies. She had a 30th birthday bash at her house – I stayed for a few hours but had such serious separation anxiety that I was home by 10.30pm – LO was 8 weeks old at the time.

Perhaps it’s time I remedied the situation…

On This Day… 75 Years Ago

OK so I’m veering somewhat from the 1 year ago rule, but thought this was worth adding. We recently attended the 75th anniversary celebrations at the De La Warr Pavilion in the whirling metropolis of Bexhill, home to Nanny Babs and Big Tel the Merciful.

They re-created an iconic picture that was printed in the Daily Mirror in 1936:

And guess who had a starring role? Check out the Mini Moon-Pig and her Nanny in the modern day version:

Bad Days

Last year, a bad day mainly revolved around not hitting a million unique users on the Sky Showbiz website, or not having enough news content (how rude of Britney to not have another meltdown! How boring of Posh to stay with her husband! How outrageous of Paris to not get off her face and puke in a gutter!).

A bad day these days begins with a 5.30am wake up call – a wail, not a chirrup – and entering Il Babbino’s room to find it reeking like an open sewer.

It is tripping over The Kiwi’s bike in pursuit of a fresh nappy, getting KR’s babushka door stop covered in bike grease and smashing a new picture frame in the fall.

It is giving KR porridge that ends up in her hair, up her nose and on the walls.

On a bad day, I give her some bum-airing time, where she wafts around sans nappy, immediately poos on the floor, tries to put her hands in it, and then busts out of her Bumbo when I’m trying to damage control the scene.

Or having 99% success in face-catching a standy-uppy, but failing in the 1% when she headbuts the floor.

And yet for all the hard stuff there is SO MUCH good. Stuff that is hard to write about without sounding like a smug w@nker – stuff that would give The Kiwi more ammo when he says maternity leave is like a year-long holiday.

My bad days these days seem better than my good days in the olden days.

All For A Good Cause

This time last year I was usually reporting at celebrity events, not being invited to them.

But this week the kind folks at BornFree invited me along to their Celebrity Baby Shower in association with Action for Children.

Celeb parents and parents-to-be flocked to the event where they were treated to some amazing gifts from the BornFree range. The likes of Lauren Laverne, TV presenter Giles Vickers Jones, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott Lee, WAG’s Boutique favourite Nicola T, Absolute Radio’s Ben Jones, Emmerdale Actress Danielle Brown and Faye Tozer amongst others, were on hand to indulge in the latest products from the range along with some fantastic kids clothing, super cute children’s bedding and even maternity skincare.

In addition, the celebs were on hand to show their support for the charity Action for Children by autographing a gift bag to be auctioned. Guests were invited to get involved with a great cause by producing special pieces of artwork for the charity’s ‘Celebrity Journeys’ auction which invites famous faces to illustrate their professional or emotional life journey, to highlight the difficult life journeys that many youngsters face.

Action for Children is a fantastic charity that works in communities across the UK supporting the most vulnerable and neglected children, young people and their families, as they embark upon their own transformational journeys. Founded 140 years ago, Action for Children is one of the UK’s largest children’s charities and works with more than 156,000 children, young people and their families across the UK.

* BornFree™ and Action for Children would like to thank the following celeb favoured brands for helping with the exclusive baby shower: Babyface, Cheeks and Cherries, Tantrum, HotMilk, Comvita, Truffle Shuffle, Fabric Flavours, Boo Boo Organics, Alice Apple, Simply Colors, Merino Kids and Cheeky Rascals.

For more information on BornFree visit www.babybornfree.co.uk. For more information on Action For Children visit www.ActionforChildren.org.uk.

Overheard Conversations

Last year:

The Kiwi (to the bump, in a weird voice): “Hellooooo. Hello. Hi.”

To me: “I don’t know what to say.”

Me: “Just say anything, it doesn’t matter what you say, she won’t understand. It’s just to get her used to your voice.”

The Kiwi (to the bump, in an even weirder voice): “Hiya. Helloooooooooo. Hi.”

This year:

The Kiwi to Babysaurus Rex: “You have milk breath. I have coffee breath. Together we’re a latte.”

Weaning

This time last year I was shouting about all the things I wasn’t allowed to do. Being pregnant meant I couldn’t eat salami, soft cheese, mayonnaise or sushi. My rebellion, combined with my immense pregnancy hunger, meant all I wanted to do was scoff the things I wasn’t allowed to scoff. But I never gave in. Despite gasping for a glass of vino, I drank Becks Blue instead. Once, when swinging by Maccy D’s on a particularly Hank Marvin’ day (don’t judge me – pregnancy brain makes you do crazy things) I took a bite of my McChicken Burger, realised it had mayonnaise in it and almost stuck my fingers down my throat for a tactical spew on the north circ, such was my fear.

These days my life is all about what Shark Bait will (or will not, as the case may be) get down her gullet. Yes, we are weaning. An aversion to the spoon has resulted in enforced baby-led weaning (sort of, sometimes), and an aversion to a sippy-cup has resulted in drinking (messily) out of open topped tumblers. (The best one so far is the Doidy cup). Anyway, I have some advice (based purely on my experiences with Il Bambino Miglio and not on any real research), that may (or may not) be helpful…

1. Avoid weaning for as long as you can. The health guidelines say 6 months – quite apart from digestive systems working well enough, not having to puree everything to a runny pulp, iron stores depleting after 6 months etc etc, it will save your sanity for that little bit longer if you wait
2. Don’t sweat it if your little one only likes sweet stuff to begin with – just get a little something in their tummies so that they can learn and experience chewing and swallowing – the taste for savoury comes, miraculously, all by itself
3. Get one of those bibs that catches the fall out
4. If the Babby doesn’t like being spoon fed, give him/her a bit of banana or a softened mini weetabix to hold and see if they would prefer to do it themselves – then think about baby led weaning
5. To minimise the whole ‘Are you cooking baby food yourself’ mayhem (usually asked by smug supermummy types), choose food that will suit you as well as your baby so that you can just mush your dinner for Toots. (*Please note: It’s not always easy to cook babyfood from scratch, so don’t give yourself a hard time about it. Ella’s Kitchen and Organix ranges are super healthy options from the supermarche.) I have some super ace recipes that are right easy to make, cheap for your groceries and tasty too. For example…

Recipes that will suit both you and your weaning baby (at 6 months +)

Lamb Casserole

1 tsp oil
500g lean diced lamb
1 1/2 cups beef or vegetable stock
1/4 cup of cauliflower, diced
1 small potato, peeled and diced
1/4 cup frozen peas

1. Heat oil, brown lamb. Add stock, cover and simmer for 30 mins
2. Add potatoes, cook for 30 more mins then add cauliflower, cook until veggies are tender
3. Add peas, cook for a further few mins

Yummsville for Ma and Pa, then mush and go for Il Babbino. Sweet as.

Meaty Hotpot

500g diced beef/lamb casserole meat (beef chuck/blade steak or boneless lamb)
420g can baked beans (low salt and sugar)
1/2 small swede or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cups water
2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp oil

1. In a casserole dish add meat, beans, swede or sweet potato, carrots and onion
2. Stir water into mix
3. Cover with tin foil and cool at 180 degrees for 1/2 an hour
4. Remove from oven, top with sliced potatoes and brush with oil
5. Return to the oven, uncovered for 1 hour.

How easy is that? Basically just chuck it all in a casserole dish, and shove it in the oven. Serve with seasonal veggies.

Shepherds Pie

1 Tbsp oil
500g lean beef or lamb mince
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 courgette and/or other seasonal greens, finely chopped
2 cups mashed potato

1. Brown mince in oil in hot pan
2. Stir in veggies, except potato
3. Cover and simmer for 15 mins
4. Spoon mixture into a pie dish
5. Top with mashed potato
6. Bake at 180 degrees for 15 mins.

This’ll go someway to getting your 5 a day too. Primo, eh?

Betty Swollocks In My Mankini

This time last year I was on a hen weekend in Center Parcs, celebrating with the aforementioned Naomi-then-Vaisey-now-Burl.

The Peanut was about about four months foetal and starting to pop into a little round tummy bulge. I was just out of morning sickness, but still a little exhausted, so not too upset that I wasn’t allowed to bomb down the waterslides or partake in the bowling. I still had a rollocking time, and let me tell you, the hilarity I experienced while watching the girls descend into drunken mayhem was PRICELESS.

After a fairly civilised day in the spa and a spot of horse riding for Nay, we trotted off to the restaurant for a bit of nosh. On the way we recognised a fella off of the telly, holidaying with his mates. I would like to say that we played it cool, but Naomi practically pee’d her pants, waving her arms in the air, jumping up and down and shouting in a voice that only dogs can hear: “OMG! He’s my FAVOURITE! That’s so funny he’s in my top five! OMG! Don’t tell Eric! SQUEAL!”

Hilariously, we were sat at the table next to them and as such the majority of dares revolved around us whispering furiously, then packing Nay off, her head wrapped in toilet paper as a bridal veil, to ask them to do stupid things. Cue much bonding with Telly-boy.

Like the ladies we are, we left TV-boy and his buddies to their beers and headed off for a spot of bowling before retiring to our chalets to carry on the after party. I flaked at around midnight when my poor pregnant eyes could stay open no longer. Dagnammit I should’ve stayed. In the morning the gals were in fits about the arrival of Telly-Boy and his rowdy rabble who turned up at the chalet to crash the hen party. The highlight of the evening came, they told me, when three of them locked themselves in the bathroom and emerged wearing the bikinis that were hanging out to dry. I reeled in horror… “Please tell me none of them wore the green Sea Follie one” I whimpered, only to be presented with photographic evidence of Telly-Boy striking a fetching pose in my very own swimwear, the tie-up bottoms barely containing his meat and two veg. They peaced out fairly quickly after that, but it sure was a hen night to remember!!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Preened And Not So Perfect

Today, while driving to meet Jojo on the Heath I spent most of the journey peeling remnants of baby rice off my cheek. My trousers and t-shirt were covered in it too – either from the fallout from spoon to mouth, or the aftermath from stomach to bib.

There’s something really refreshing about not being waxed and polished; sleek and in heels 110% of the time.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Bright Futures

One of my most favourite people in the whole world had a beautiful baby girl today. Welcome to the world, little Isabella Burl, to a future full of endless possibilities with your incredible mummy and wonderful daddy.

This time last year thinking about the future for me was too much to contemplate. The thought of housing a real, actual person, no matter how small, was enough to send my brain into meltdown. And imagining the task ahead – of expelling said small person out of my body and into the world was just too major to comprehend.

This year the future is all I can think about: Weaning, teething, coming off the boob, going back to work, nursery, pottery training, walking, talking, schools… But it doesn’t stop there. My mind runs away with me and before you know it The Baby’s a delinquent teenager and I’m on HRT.

Woah Nelly, right? But I just want what’s best for her, as every nervous new parent inevitably does for their first born. And while my future contemplation is magnified by the forthcoming move out of The Big Smoke, I wonder, does it ever stop? Or will my life forever be full of thoughts constantly bouncing two steps ahead of the next?

The Moon Pig is thankfully oblivious to such deep thought. All she needs to concentrate on is the next mouthful of mashed banana, or how many dogs we’ll count at the park. Her future’s so bright she needs herself some sunnies. And as long as I can keep it that way, I suppose we’ll be a-OK.

What's In A Name?

Kaila-Rose Coral Colombus currently has nicknames a-plenty: Babysaurus Rex, Little Lady Norks-a-Lot, Trumpet Bum, Monkey Bum, Splodge, Midget, Moon Pig, Squishfest, Tiny Dancer, Gypsy-Rose and Kiki, to name but a few.

But her first ever nickname comes to mind today…

On this day last year I thought I was going to lose my baby. I was nervous. I didn’t know what was going on. The receptionist at the doctors told me there were no appointments, and I started to cry. When I told her what was happening she called a doctor who was on her lunch break. The doc saw me, gave me a reference to the Royal Free, and told me to get there immediately. Anyone who’s ever been to the Free knows how much ‘immediately’ can turn into three hours, but within 20 minutes I was being seen by a midwife. On the drive there I tuned into three different radio stations, all of which were playing Pink’s Please Don’t Leave Me. I sang along with tears burning my cheeks and a pain in my heart that I’d never felt before.

That was my first pregnancy scan, and the first time I really realised I was going to be a mother. When, after what seemed like an age, but in reality was only a couple of minutes, I was told there was a heartbeat in my belly, I burst into fresh tears. A whole new world of indescribable feelings swept over me – relief, thankfulness, protectiveness, sureness and love. I looked up at the screen, saw a tiny round blob, and called her Peanut.

Handbags and Gladrags

There was a time when handbags were most oft used for dancing around. Gone are the days where I could chuck in a lipstick, cash and keys and bowl out the door, ready for a night on the town. I can’t even remember what I didn’t have in mon sac last year, but my-oh-my, it was tiny. Sometimes I even left the house with a clutch purse! Imagine!

These days I pretty much need to haul around a suitcase alongside la bebe. We are prepared for every eventuality, from poo stained attire (change of outfit, inc. vests and socks in case of major butt explosions) to ravenous mummy who didn’t have time to eat lunch (granola bar/chocolate buttons). There’s a change purse, real purse, bib, baby wipes, muslins, nappies, sudocrem, toys, teethers, hats, shoes… I could go on. Not even Mary Poppins is prepared as I am these days.

---

This time last year I was probably starting to pork out a little bit, with the beginnings of life starting to blossom in my uterus. I wasn’t chubby though, and you defo couldn’t tell I was preggers. Up until about this point I had enjoyed being a gym-going, diet-loving size 8.

My, oh my, how things have changed. While my booty was beginning to enlarge a year ago, now I have enough junk in my trunk to travel the world. Twice. Baby got back. (Me, that is, not the actual baby. Her flab folds are cute as opposed to repellent). Seriously though, KR, yo’ momas so fat she go to the cinema and sit next to everybody.

My hen night dress was a size 6! And while I admit there may have been a little pre-wedding starvation going on, it’s a good story to tell the grandkids ain’t it?

I jest. You may be able to tell in my past life that I really cared about things like flat tummies and non-wobblesome bot-bots. Now, I wish I could travel back in time and give that slender, toned biyartch a slap upside the head and tell her to chill out and eat some chocolate. Life’s just too short.

The Most Dangerous Place In The World?

I had to call the police today. On my way to Hampstead I walked past a young blonde woman viciously beating an old Asian man. I panicked – I had a baby with me, what should I do? If I go over, Kaila-Rose might get hurt. If I don’t the old man is going to get even more hurt. I shouted across the road and the blonde stopped kicking and punching, and made towards me.

Thank god for traffic. It’s just a real shame that out of all the 50 or so people driving past, craning to get a look at what was going on, not one stopped to help. I turned to a guy sitting at the bus stop and asked him to do something, or call the police. His response? “Nah mate, I’m just watching.” I turned back to see the blonde headbutt the old guy. Blood was pouring down his face. Bus stop guy said: “She’s gone mental. F*ckin’ brilliant innit”. I called the police.

Around this time last year I called the cops too. It was 3am and a man and woman were fighting just outside the flat. She was kicking and hitting him, screaming “Why don’t you just f*cking hit me then!” Eventually, he did. I called the police.

When we first moved into the flat, we called the police. Within a few days of being here we came home to find our home broken into, trashed, and robbed. They took all the jewellery my Nana left me.

I am sick of this sh!t. Of the crack houses, the dog-fighting, the gangs, the smack heads outside B&Q, the pikeys in the pubs and the local schools with metal detectors.

That all might have been OK when it was just me that ran the risk of danger.

Thank god for the traffic – if that woman had come anywhere near me and my baby, who knows what I would’ve done.

Cricklewood isn’t the most dangerous place in the world, but the ground between mother and child most definitely is.

On The Right Path

Today when I was walking down the road, pushing the Moonpig in her buggy, there was a single feather in our path.

It reminded me of when I first arrived in Sydney, fresh off the boat, penniless and slightly burnt out after some serious South China travelling. I hadn’t yet met up with any friends, was pasty and unfashionable in stark opposition to the bronzed Bondi beach goddesses, had a bed in a dorm that smelled like vomit, a rucksack full of cockroaches and a vague snobbery about the Australian 18-30s-esque travelling scene.

While mooning around Glebe I met an aged hippy (y’know one of those leather skinned, Tibet flag waving, yoghurt weaving Aussie types) who stopped me, picked up a feather that I was about to tread on, and said “There’s a feather in your path. That means you’re on the right path.” He said that it was from a spirit guide. I was a bit like “Err, I have to go and… stand over here now…” and brushed him off as being a loon. But what he said stuck with me and I remember him better than I remember the scenery of the Blue Mountains, the 4-wheel drive on Fraser Island or the yachts in the Whitsundays. I obviously was on the right path back then in 2002, otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today, married to The Kiwi and with a down-under half-breed inhabiting our lives.

This time last year the only thing in my path was a foot – one in front of the other. Plodding along on the same old relentless routine: Morning news, news on the radio, newspapers, newswires, Sky news, news briefs, news meetings, writing news, editing news…

It’s true that you lose part of yourself when you become a mother. But I think perhaps I lost myself before that, amidst the coffee cups and post-it notes; red carpet invitations, film premieres, press releases and invitations to Bungalow 8.

Perhaps that feather on the streets of North West London was nothing more than a rabid pigeon shedding its filthy winter coat, and perhaps that old yoghurt weaver was just a stoner with an avid imagination.

But a little part of me likes to think that maybe, just maybe, this is my destiny.

GUEST POST: Where Did I Go?

By Louise Perkins

About this time last year I was 35 hours into labour with my first child. The nurses wheeled an empty crib in to my room. Apparently, my bub was going to be placed in it sometime in the near future! It sat across the room from me and I’m sure it winked. I was thinking: “Sure I’ve spent 9 months working up to this, but it can’t actually be true? Me a mum? My bub in that crib? Woah!”. I was still battling to place it in my mind as another contraction took hold…

Finally, after an epic 42 hour labour there she was in my arms, a perfect baby girl. Moments after the birth, the midwife squeezed my boob very unceremoniously. Miraculously, out came milk and bubs munched happily away for the next hour as if she’d been doing it forever, and as if nothing insanely traumatic had just happened to both of us.

So what next? A nice Becks and lie down? I think not. All I can say is, pregnancy is like 9 months of being on that up-hill climb to the pinnacle of a massive roller coaster. From birth on (and that’s the moment you give birth, not a nice 12 hour nap afterwards when you’re rested and ready, thanks very much!) it’s all free fall and you have absolutely no control over your life any more.

I won’t bore you with the typical sleepless nights, stinky nappies and sore nipples stuff, which although very near killed me, honestly speaking, was not what shocked me the most about motherhood. What shocked me the most, and I guess still shocks me a year on, is figuring who the hell I am now? I no longer have a minute in the day where I can be ‘me’ any more. I am a 24/7 robot programmed to serve the needs of its master. I have no choice in the matter, my life as I knew it is irrelevant. I’ve just got to do whatever it takes to keep my flesh and blood, fed, clean and safe at all times. Nature seemed to have neglected to consult me before setting the wheels in motion on that one.

This time last year, who was I? Well, I was someone who’d travelled the world more than once, had worked as a tour guide in Asia, started writing a book, rode camels in the Sahara, drove a beat up Kombi van around the coast of Aus, got a degree, taught at University, got her nosed pierced (several times), ate rats, snakes and pigs brain in the Mekong, survived dysentery alone in India… and Nepal, loved to read, loved talking philosophy, saw live music, ate out every other day, phoned my friends… more than once a month… actually socialized… in person!! And now…

Well now, who am I? I work harder than I ever had, have longer days (and nights) than I’ve ever known before. The thought of travelling again is a reality that’s slipping through my fingers a bit more every day. I’m now know as someone’s Mummy and ‘primary carer’, not a jet setting adventurer who follows her own path in life, not the Cultural Anthropologist, guitar playing, hippy, wanderer of the world, free spirit and muncher of Asian oddities. Just a typical Mum, living in the burbs, changing stinky nappies, rinsing spew off her fresh clothes, then getting spewed on again 3 seconds after changing… you know the drill.

Talk about identity crisis. One I’m yet to figure out to be honest. But ‘losing myself’ has bought me the greatest privilege I could ever know. In getting lost, I found the most amazing person I know. Every day she changes and evolves. Every day she eagerly learns a plethora of new things, she has life milestones every week, she trusts everyone she meets, she wakes up smiling and is the most honest and true being ever to cross my path. I challenge anyone to compete with such a list of achievements! Every day I’m amazed and filled to bursting point with love for my gorgeous girl. To my recollection I can’t remember a single thing that came even close to this feeling in the 28 years of my life prior to Motherhood. Identity crisis, yes… but worth it? You bet!

Brangelina Vs Bath Poo

Things I said this time last year:

“There’s a rumour that Amy Winehouse is going back into rehab… Can someone please get onto that asap? Need a reputable source to run with it. Get onto it please.”

“Just heard that Brangelina have got married in secret! Check it! Need pictures! GO!”

“Apparently Britney’s got a new boyfriend – someone get on the phone to LA ASAP! You have 30 seconds to get this story up! LESS CHIT CHAT MORE WRITING!”

Things I say now:

“There’s research that babies shouldn’t be weaned until 6 months though… Can you Google that? What does Annabel Karmel say? Can you check now?”

“Kaila’s sitting up for the first time by herself! Check it out! Get the camera! GO!”

“Apparently it’s fun to poo in the bath. Uh-oh, that’s a lot of poo – can you get me a towel ASAP! You have 5 seconds until our baby is engulfed by her own poo. It’s spreading! TOWEL!”

Lost

Last night was spent watching Lost, the ninety millionth episode of its seventy fifth season. Or thereabouts. Last year I was doing the same. This year I’m all, “What? What did he just say? What does it mean?” Last year I was saying the same thing. In fact trying to work out what the hell all these freaky dudes are doing on this random Island has been keeping me awake at night since I was 24 years old. The only difference this year is that I’m not sure how fit Sawyer is anymore. He used to be number one in my Top 5… Now I’m not sure if it’s me that’s changed, or if he just isn’t the hunk he was in the olden days.

Anyways, the end is in sight (23rd May, to be precise) and just in case you haven’t managed to keep up with the ridunc-a-dunculous plot, I thought I’d be nice and summarise it for you:

Season 1: A plane full of well fit birds and blokes crashes on a tropical Island and it’s all crazy and exciting. Something about giant polar bears and OMG Sawyer is the most delicious thing you’ve ever laid eyes on.

Season 2: Crash survivors, make-up still intact, fight with dirty, sweaty land-clan, aka The Others. Something about a hatch and Sawyer becomes a permanent Top 5 fixture worldwide.

Season 3: Is this about heaven/hell/purgatory or the science of time travel? Do we care? Or is it more important that Sawyer gets all hot and sweaty and takes his shirt off?

Season 4: An escape off the Island and Sawyer’s shirt is back on. Bah.

Season 5: A whole lot of time travel, mascara still intact, and are we nearly there yet?

Season 6: Too many crashes, Others, time travel escapades and romances with Kate than my poor brain knows what to do with. However, the end is in sight. I’d like to say I’m excited, but quite frankly this programme is more exhausting than bringing home a new baby.

Friday, 9 April 2010

GUEST POST: A Thoroughly Cheesy Anniversary

By Robbie Solomons

Last Sunday afternoon I went to Sopwell House for afternoon tea, to celebrate my first wedding anniversary.

We had sandwiches, assorted mini-gateaux, scones with jam and lashings of clotted cream… and tea, of course. It was a lovely couple of hours spent recalling the wonderful celebrations in that delightful corner of Hertfordshire on that day 1 year ago. I indulged myself, and all in the company of my favourite two people in the whole wide world.

It goes without saying that one of these people was my darling wife, Alice, (celebrating my 1st wedding anniversary really wouldn’t have been the same without her). Whilst I watched her spread an extraordinarily large amount of clotted cream onto half a scone and proceed to get some of it in her mouth, and most of it spread liberally around her face, I couldn’t help but marvel at just how lucky I had been to find, fall for and marry this beautiful human-being before me. I don’t believe in soul-mates, I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I do believe that I couldn’t have met a person who makes me any happier than she does… cheesy, but true.

Talking of cheese, that brings me on nicely to the other person there with us that fine day. Burped up breast-milk, when left to cultivate in flabby neck folds, smells remarkably cheese-like… who knew? The neck folds (and cheese smell) belong to my wonderful daughter, Phoebe, who drew her first sweet breath on the afternoon of the 1st March this year, and has been belching milky screams ever since. She is beautiful and already has many talents, including:

  • The aforementioned cultivation of ‘neck-cheese’
  • The impressively high production of sticky/crusty green ‘eye gold’
  • Projectile pooing (I now approach her from side on when changing her nappy)
  • Various other assorted smells and discharges

Seriously though folks, she’s lovely and amazing and beautiful and sweet and with every day that passes I find myself falling more and more head-over-heels-life-will-never-be-quite-the-same-even-prefer-her-to-football(-but-only-just) in love with her.

Alice has been taking care of her during the days and through the night and I am in awe of how amazingly natural she is at the whole ‘mummy’ thing.

As I sat there, watching the two of them in the warm glow of the mellow early-spring sun, I knew I was blessed and happy. Never had face food looked so wonderful, nor neck cheese ever smelt so gorgeous.

I feel so lucky to have them both and if my 2nd wedding anniversary is anywhere near as good as my 1st, then I can’t wait.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Working Out

Oh exercise, my old friend. It’s been so long. I’ve just put together a running playlist, including

I’m all hyped up and ready to squeeze my big wobbly bum into my running leggings of last year. But, I have some questions…
1) Will it come to 7am, Bubs in bed, The Kiwi home, dinner plans a-go-go, and I be tempted to crack open the vino and veg on the couch rather than hoppety-skippeting up the road?
2) How on earth will I strap my gargantuan bazoongas down while I run? Last year my boobs were incy-wincy and I could flatten them down to pancake proportions with a runners top. What now? Gaffer tape?
3) Will I run around the block once, get halfway through the first song, then give up and never venture out in my trainers no never, no more?

Last year I was still yoga’ing at this point, until the big realisation. At my next Hatha class I told the teacher, who mentioned the ‘M’ word again. I was SO shocked. She said that this was the riskiest time for pregnancy, and concluded with ‘I am neither a pre-natal yoga teacher, or a mother, so I cannot tell you what to do here.’ Obvu, I left the class and slagged her off all day. But I was also well too scared to carry on exercising, and what will all the pre-eclampsia m’larkey, I haven’t done much in the way of working out since then.

Monday, 5 April 2010

GUEST POST: Change Is The Essence Of Life

By Jane Rainford

In the days Before Son I was carefree, drank too much, swore too much, drove too fast, went to bed too late and thought junk food whenever I wanted it was OK. Pregnancy and motherhood changed all that.

These are some of the things I have noticed:

Selfishness

I no longer want to eagerly unwrap my presents. In fact I no longer even want presents. Just get something for my offspring. I don’t need anything. In fact I never feel the need for any material things now. I always put my child 1st and last. Of course this is not necessarily a good thing. Ask Hubby, or ask anyone who says I need a break.

Sleep
When he is not here I sleep so well. When he is here, a pin could drop and I can hear it.

Squeamishness is no more.
Sick, poo, blood... None of it even phases me, as long as it is his and not someone elses. Super Mummy comes out and deals with the situation and thinks about it later. Becoming a nurse would be another matter entirely.

Mummy brain takes over.
When he is not here I absentmindedly watch CBeebies, or scan though photos of him on my PC, or talk incessantly about him (without even realising it) yet when he is attached to my leg shouting “My Mummy! My Mummy!” I wish he was always the good-as-gold angel I have in my head.

Priorities change
That parachute jump that I always wanted to do just doesn’t seem important anymore. I don’t take risks. Someone is depending on me for everything. I can’t drive too fast. A nice safe car is so much better than something that looks good and drives fast. A trip to Pontins seems attractive, because he would enjoy it. It doesn’t matter that in a previous lifetime I would hate every moment. Now his joy is my joy.

This quote seems to sum it all up perfectly, I don’t know whose it is but it is beautiful and so true:
"A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for
."
In what ways has being a parent changed you?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

I Wish This Was An April Fool... But It Ain't

The first page of the book I was reading on this day last year:

"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn't sound like much, I know. But in that flinch and bite of the chain, when it's all you've got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.
In my case, it's a long story, and a crowded one. I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum-security prison. When I escaped from prison, over the front wall, between two gun-towers, I became my country's most wanted man. Luck ran with me and flew with me across to India, where I joined the Bombay mafia. I worked as a gunrunner, a smuggler and a counterfeiter. I was chained on three continents, beaten, stabbed and starved. I went to war. I ran into enemy guns. And I survived, while other men around me died. They were better men than I am, most of them: better men whose lives were crunched up in mistakes, and thrown away by the wrong second of someone else's hate, or love, or indifference. And I buried them, too many of those men, and grieved their stories and their lives into my own.
But my story doesn't begin with them, or with the mafia: it goes back to that first day in Bombay. Fate put me in the game there. Luck dealt me the cards that led me to Karla Saaranen. And I started to play it out, that hand, from the first moment I looked into her green eyes. So it begins, this story, like everything else - with a woman, and a city, and a little bit of luck."

The first page of the book I am reading this year:

"I am Boo Boo."

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

GUEST POST: A Reason For Living

JO CLARE SAYS:

If someone had said to me a few years ago that I would lose the two men I loved most in the world within 8 months of each other, I’d have laughed in their faces and told them to do one. But, here I am blogging about it, because it did in fact, sadly happen.

In March 2008, my husband left me at six months pregnant after ten years together. I remember the day so clearly, even now. I was cooking cod in our kitchen that we’d just decorated, and he just came out with it… like a huge knife to my heart. I've never felt so many emotions all at once: ‘how am I going to cope’, ‘I can’t do it on my own’ ‘I don’t want to do it on my own’ even, ‘who will want me now!!’

Those following few weeks were a blur of just trying to survive, trying to eat and drink to nourish my kicking baby, feeling terribly guilty that he/she knew nothing of the despair I was feeling on the outside, and yet I was forcing myself to keep her ‘safe’.

But I did, slowly, carry on attending antenatal sessions/hospital visits on my own, and only got through all of this with an overwhelming circle of friends who cared for me, whose help I will never forget.

As the due date grew closer, I received another blow, the biggest probably if I’m honest - my dad was diagnosed with cancer. We knew the outcome wouldn’t be good from the start. We are a very close, strong, traditional family and I was a typical Daddy’s girl. I love my Dad so much - we had the same interests, (except for his train spotting!), the same bad habits. I just wish I had his brains (brother seemed to nab those) so to live with the fact that one day I will loose him... I just tried to keep from entering my mind.

July 18th came and my beautiful daughter arrived - not without difficulties. She was born not breathing and with a broken shoulder. But her spirit and strength got her through and to this day she is my sunshine and my reason for living. My dad sadly passed 5 months later. The pain of losing someone so close to your heart is a pain that only someone who has lost will know. Most of all I miss how much of a wonderful Granddad he would have made and of course I miss him as a doting dad.

So it’s been a whirlwind, and tough to say the least. But one thing that’s kept me going through the dark days is a snippet from a mine and Dad's favourite film, Castaway. At the very end of the film, Tom Hanks says: ‘You have to just keep breathing’. Such a simple line, but so true. The sun will come up every day, and night will fall, and life will go on, whether you want it to or not. You will never forget your loved ones that are not with you, but somehow as time goes on, you learn to live with it slightly better. And with a cheeky, happy, monster toddler that I have now… how could I do anything else but live life?

Monday, 29 March 2010

A Sweet Set Of Wheels

Good on Jenson Button. I hear he won the Grand Prix yesterday. This time last year I followed Formula One (no, not just because Lewis Hamilton was getting down with that Pussycat Doll) – I actually had a mini pash for F1 ever since I was given a press pass to the Melbourne track in 2002. I even paid to see it in Montreal with the Kiwi a few years back. It's pretty exciting what with all the gut-vibrating noises, smell of burning rubber and eye-straining speeds – if a little difficult to keep up with. In Canada '08 we found ourselves standing in the Brazilian section (the only place with shade enough for my pasty skin) and cheered alongside our amigos. "How terrifically sporting to support Lewis Hamilton as well as their own driver", thought I, as I merrily whooped along. We later found out that we were actually cheering for Felipe Massa, who was also in a nice shiny red fast car, and that Hamilton had crashed out after the 19th lap. Whoops.

This year, I am driving my own Maclaren. No, I haven't had a midlife crisis and bought myself a sports car (seriously, where would I put the baby seat?). And no, I'm not doing a red letter day – a couple of hundred quidditch for two laps in the passenger seat? No ta. The Maclaren I speak of is beautifully sleek though. It has a smooth steer and superior red and black bodywork. Its sturdy wheels have traversed many a terrain from Cricklewood Broadway to Hampstead Heath, and pit-stop confusion has been lessened thanks to an easy-on rain cover. When it's not parked in the boot of the car it's full of big, squashy baby, muslin squares and fleecey footmuffs. It's a Maclaren buggy, and a jolly good purchase it was too. Not quite as expensive as a McLaren motor, but infinitely more fun.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Happy Actual 30th Birthday To Me… The Epilogue

The daffodils are out, and I am 30. Or, as I like to put it, 15 again. After a 6.30am wake up yodel I eat chocolate cake for breakfast, open gifts from The Kiwi and family NZ then dance around the living room to You Are The Sunshine Of My Life, Walking On Sunshine and Let The Sunshine In (anyone seeing a theme emerging here?).
Big T The Merciful and Babs (aka Grandpa and Nannie) pop over and are delighted at the antics of La Bambini El Petito. Big Tel informs me that "The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits." (We thanks ye, Hervey Allen).
After a smidgen more of the extreme chocolate cake (approximately one hundred thousand grams of choc, 1g of flour and stuff and a bit of sugar) we head off to The Hollybush in Hampstead.
Friends dribble in, some with their offspring, some with a minging head ache from the night before, all with an appetite for a good Sunday roast.

Nannie takes Bambi for a gander around the shops (as one of my friends so eloquently puts it: "You've invited all the other babies and binned off your own") but it means that I get to mingle with my buddies –
some who go as far back as Brownies, some from as recently as the day the dinkydots were born – and engage in actual adult conversation. However, I seem to spend most of my time being far too excited about the fact that I am wearing a dress, heels and make-up for the first time in about a year and don't have any baby-vom in my hair. Binned-off-baby then graces us with her presence post-roast, shouts and dribbles at a few folk and we take her for a walk on the Heath.
Generous gifts aside (it has become clear that I'm more Cath Kidston than Topshop, but who gives a schizz? Not I), I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. From Tinseltown to London Town – Merci Marmont, but I'd take this rabble over Loony Li-Lo and Skinny-Briches Richie any day.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Happy 30th Birthday To Me… The Prologue

My birthday celebrations last year were strung out over a week. The Kiwi binned me off on my actual B-Day for a stag do. Such was his guilt at this abandonment that I managed to prosper – he treated me to a two night stay at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. Yes, the very same place where Led Zeppelin threw their TVs out the window and rode Harleys through the lobby; Jim Morrison scaled the drainpipe instead of taking the lift into his suite; John Belushi died of an overdose; Britney Spears reportedly got kicked out of at the height of her lunacy and Lindsay Lohan used to live.

With Harry Cohn’s words “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont” ringing in my ears I did my best to channel my inner rock chick. But we actually had a pretty chilled time, sitting opposite Nicole Richie in the lounge bar, chatting to Jerry Stiller and eyeing up Milo Ventimiglia on the patio. We swam in the pool overhung with jasmine blossom and eucalyptus leaves alongside Californian models (never have I felt more like a mozzarella-coloured blimp alongside these long-limbed bronze goddesses) and strolled up Sunset Boulevard to Hollywood.

Imagine my devastation when just two days after we left, Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson had a very public break up at the Chateau, screaming at each other out of the hotel windows and the police being called to eject La Lohan. Bah.

So anyhoo, on March 21st as the Kiwi was Go-Karting his way around Stagsville, I was hanging out with my best girls at Champneys in Tring. A blissful time was had by all as we swam in pools, lounged outside by the Jacuzzi in our fluffy white robes and free slippers (yep, still got ‘em), gossiped in the lounge rooms, spotted Eastenders stars over a macrobiotic lunch, water aerobic’d, yoga’d, had facials and drank mint tea.

This year I'm having just one party to rock the party... A Sunday afternoon gathering of my nearest and dearest in a quaint old pub in Hampstead. Babies welcome, of course.

TBC...