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Happy Earth Day

22 Apr


Today we celebrate Earth Day!
We should think about and take care of our planet every day but this special day turns the spotlight on green issues and allows us to plan events that bring green living to a wider audience.
Speaking of events, I’m very much looking forward to Maplewood’s Green Day coming up this Saturday 27th. I’m helping organize and will be volunteering on the day. It will be fun!




The day after the hurricane

31 Oct

After the storm

This tree was felled by Sandy last night and we came across it in our local park. Luckily she fell into the park, avoiding the road, the houses opposite and the power lines. In fact, the direction she fell could explain why we still have power when so many in our town are without.
This time 24 hours ago I was hunkering down at home as the winds howled outside, rattling windows and making the trees around us bend and twist. It was more than a little terrifying. But I’m grateful that we’ve emerged unscathed, bar a fitful night’s sleep. We even have power when others in our town and the state do not. So many, from Haiti to close by us in New Jersey, have been so terribly affected. Hurricane Sandy was mother nature at her most devastating.

So much has happened since I last posted. We packed up our life in London. We said goodbye to wonderful friends. We spent a month living on the 34th floor of a building in midtown, with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. We found an amazing house to rent in Maplewood, NJ. We’ve spent lots of time with my in-laws, which the children love (and we do too). And we moved into our house in Maplewood a little over a week ago.

So to be suddenly faced with the worst storm in living memory was quite a challenge after the staid old weather we’d been used in London. We filled everything we could with water. We stocked up on candles and made sure our torches (or flashlights as I should say now I’m in America!) had batteries. We moved everything off the floor of the basement. We kept track of the storm online and we made contact with loved ones, both those in the path of the storm and those in Ireland and the UK.

Walking around today, seeing the beautiful trees felled and maimed by the wind, made me think about how we’re putting down new roots even while these trees have been uprooted. I’m glad we’ve made the move, despite the sadness I felt leaving London and the wonderful life we had there. I’m hoping we build an equally happy life here in Maplewood.


Father’s Day

17 Jun

I’m taking the opportunity to wish my wonderful husband a very happy Father’s Day!

I am so lucky to be walking my path as a mother alongside your path as a father. You’re not just a hugely fun parent – the sound of you and our children laughing together is one of the biggest pleasures in my life – but you also truly share all the ups and downs. You’re as willing to wash a load of dirty nappies as you are to sit with our 2 year old son playing blocks as long as he wants. You’re also the best cook I know, as well as patient enough to still prepare amazing food while having our son “help” out! You balance the demands of your career with the demands of your family, which is no easy thing.

I am proud that our children will grow up with you as their father.

Especially as I know how important a father is. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful father myself. A man who put his family first and was very present and hands-on, when it wasn’t fashionable (this was 70s Ireland after all). But he died of a heart attack when I was 8 and my world collapsed. I still miss him nearly 27 years later. We named our son after him and I look forward to telling him about his grandfather as he grows. My father would have admired you.

Right, I’d hoped to bring you coffee in bed but I can hear you getting up with our daughter (12 weeks today) and our 2 year old. So much for your lie-in! I love you xxx

Mothers Day

18 Mar

Today is Mother’s Day. And a lovely day I’ve had too.I feel so lucky to have a wonderful son (and husband) and to have another baby so imminently on his or her way.

My day started when my son (who turned two on Friday) brought me breakfast in bed, which consisted of a glass of orange juice and two hot cross buns, with a small jar of the blackberry jam we made last year (he was ably assisted by his dad).  The three of us sat in bed eating hot cross buns (or eating spoonfuls of jam, in my son’s case) while I admired the lovely card he’d made.

We spent the morning at Finsbury Park playground. We gave our boy a micro scooter for his birthday so today was day 3 of his scooter love affair. His favourite thing is to scoot to the park (or scoot to the local high street…or scoot the length of the flat…or scoot anywhere really!). It certainly makes walks easier, as he has no desire to be picked up. Which is great as carrying him is not easy for me at the moment. We walked home via the parkland walk, where the little ball I’d hidden in my handbag came in handy (it was too muddy to scoot, but certainly not too muddy to dribble a ball!).

Then it was off to South West London for my niece’s 5th birthday party. I remember her birth day so clearly, that it’s incredible to imagine that five years have passed. In fact my due date (23 March) is actually her birthday…and she was born on her due date, so it’s amazing to think myself and my sister share a due date 5 years apart. Though I went to 42 weeks with my son (when I was induced) so I’m trying to be prepared for the fact that my baby may not arrive for some weeks yet! Much as I’d love a due date arrival I’m not holding my breath.

It’s been a wonderful start to maternity leave. After a lot of stress, I finished up at work on 2 March. And since then I’ve caught up with friends, spent a lot of time with my son and husband, sorted out some of the clutter of the flat (though my hospital bag is not yet officially finished – it’s sort of packed but I need to edit it down, so to speak). Our son had his first hair cut last week and was instantly transformed from baby to boy. I had been so emotional about it, but I’m happy that he looks more like an older brother to be.

I’ve not been enjoying the internet much, which is why my blog has virtual tumble weed blowing through it! For some reason, I’ve not had much desire or energy to blog or tweet or browse Facebook. I’ve had a lot of time for the Childbirth section of Mumsnet, but that’s about it!

When I was pregnant with my son, I was so impatient. I wanted to meet him, and tried all the old tricks – I walked for miles, I bounced on my ball for hours at a time, I devoured whole pineapples, I ate more hot curry than is sensible, I mainlined raspberry leaf tea, I took so much evening primrose oil I thought the baby would be born capsule shaped…I even bought castor oil but was too scared to use it. My mum kept reminding me that babies in our family, particularly first babies, go overdue but I just ignored her. We were so sure of our dates (I’d had ICSI so knew almost the hour of conception) that I was convinced our baby would arrive close to the due date. So I spent those last weeks in a cocoon of impatience and mounting anxiety. After a text book, easy pregnancy, I was suddenly facing pressure to be induced. Each day that passed was another day further from my planned home water birth. Finally, I gave in and was induced at 42 weeks.

This time I’m going to wait for labour to start naturally. This baby will arrive when he or she is ready and while I’ll hope that’s sooner rather than later, I’m happy to wait as long as it takes. And making that decision has made me relaxed enough to enjoy these final weeks of pregnancy. So I’ve been enjoying my bump, enjoying the rhythms and rolls of this baby who has been my constant companion for months but who is still shrouded with mystery.

I’ve enjoyed this Mothers Day, my last as a mother of one.

Happy Leap Day!

29 Feb

Leaping Lizards, it’s Leap Day!

I love the Leap Day. I love the extra day-ness of it. I had a neighbour growing up who was born on a Leap Day and I found it incredible that he was older than me but technically younger in age years…

I have a friend from university who proposed to her husband on this day 8 years ago. It makes me smile to remember how happy they both were when she did.

I’ve been so busy these last weeks that I appreciate the extra day more than ever. I worked late tonight as this Friday is my last day in the office before maternity leave starts (and I don’t work on Thursdays) so this was my last chance to just get my head down and wrap up as much as I can. And I finally feel like I’m ready to go on maternity leave. Well, as ready as I’ll ever be (ie I’ve accepted that some things can’t get finished in time and that’s Not The End Of The World – instead they’ll become Someone Else’s Problem).

I’ve been so busy that I’ve not even had time for the internet. So my poor blog has been neglected somewhat (blows away any lingering tumbleweed) let alone with properly keeping up with my favourite bloggers or Twitter. But I’ve been preoccupied with finishing work, with turning a breech baby (which I’ll blog about properly some other time) and seeing as many friends as I can before baby number 2 arrives and makes traipsing around London a little trickier.

But thanks to this extra day I feel like I’ve turned a corner. I’m ready to leave work behind and focus properly on looking forward to meeting the newest member of the family. That’s my great mental leap today.

Liebster love

11 Feb

The lovely Tracey over at Single Married Mum has very kindly sent me a Liebster Blog award. I was absolutely delighted to find out yesterday, as it brightened up my week no end (it’s far more fun than the poorly, vomiting toddler I’ve spent my week with!). I’m honoured that she thought of me, as I’ve not been blogging long and it’s great to get some virtual blogging love.

Tracey is a very talented writer and she blogs about life as a parent when her husband is overseas with the armed forces. Join her at Single Married Mum while she counts down the days until they’re reunited and you’ll enjoy her funny, witty and touching insights into life (though you may be jealous of her ever increasing number of crochet granny squares – though that could just be me and my guilt at the unfinished granny squares blanket I’ve now been storing for, oh, 12 years…).

Now, according to the rules of the award I’ve got to nominate five other blogs I love that have 200 followers or less. I’ve got no idea how many followers the blogs I’m going to nominate have, but they’re such lovely bloggers that I don’t really mind if I bend the rules slightly!

So here goes:

For parenting with a Montessori twist, check out Rachel over at Sparkling Bay. She writes beautifully about raising her young daughter and her posts often leave me with a smile on my face, as she reminds me of the value of enjoying the small moments in life. Her weekly “Living, Learning” posts about how our children learn through life are particular highlights.

For funny (and useful!) posts on life as a working mother check out the wonderful Yummy Mummy, really?. She writes brilliantly about the realities of juggling a family and work while also maintaining a sense of self. Her posts really brighten up my day (especially as I usually read them at work!).

Ruth over at Mixed Bag of All Sorts also writes a lovely blog about her life raising her young son while also being a wife, a linguist, a food lover and, most importantly, herself. Warning: her recipes will leave you with cravings for delicious food! Not that that’s a bad thing…I just wish I had the time to try them all!

For a French slant on raising a family in Britain check out the excellent A Frog at Large. I love reading her thoughtful posts on raising her baby daughter. She has a refreshingly practical approach to parenting that I really enjoy. Plus she’s currently on the baby led weaning adventure with her daughter and I’m jealous of the foodie fun they’re having!

Finally, for another “foreign” view on Britain, check out the lovely Living Life as an Expat Parent written by an American woman married to a British man. I particularly enjoy this blog as my husband’s American, so her American view on Britain resonates with me. Her writing is very funny but remains thoughtful and insightful too.

I really hope you go and check out these wonderful blogs – may the blogging love go forth and prosper!

Taking the time to count my blessings

6 Feb

Things have felt quite hectic recently. As my pregnancy progesses, the to-do list before the baby gets here seems to be getting longer and longer. I’m starting to look around our flat and just see things to decluttter and organise to make some much needed space for this little one.

I’m washing and sorting bedding and 0-3 month clothes (they are so tiny! I have such fond memories of my son in them! But where the devil will we store them?!). As part of decluttering, we’re freecylcing and ebaying anything that can’t be passed onto friends and family.

Luckily, we’re remembering to practice our hypnobirthing so do relax a little (even if we sometimes seem to tired or stressed to actually practice in the first place!).

I have now got less than 4 weeks to go at work before maternity leave and still have a lot of projects to wrap up. I know that things will get done in my absence but I want to leave things shipshape for the colleague covering for me.

So many things to do, so little time…

We’re also planning to move to the States in September (though no dates are confirmed yet) so that looms on our horizon too. I worry about my greencard and sorting the children’s medical records creep. I worry about whether this is the right thing for our family – are we mad to tear up our roots in London in order to make new ones? How will I handle leaving Britain, with its beloved NHS and a job I love? How will I feel being so much further from my family in Ireland?

But today I read this post over at Salt & Caramel and it made me stop and think: wait a second, my problems aren’t problems at all.

I am in fact incredibly lucky. A husband I adore who adores me back. A son who we both adore, and who continues to delight us every day, with another baby due soon. We have each other and we have our health. These things are priceless, so it doesn’t really matter what we do or where we do it.

Our “problems” seem so trivial in comparison to other people’s. Other people like Aillidh Kinnaird.

Aillidh is 8 years old and seriously ill. Very seriously ill. She has Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and is going through yet another round of chemotherapy. She desperately needs a bone marrow transplant.

Her parents are doing everything they can to find a donor for her – see their Facebook page for more information. She has a mixed heritage (white Scottish & mestizo), which makes it hard to find a match for her.

Unfortunately no one in her family matches. So the net needs to be spread as far as widely throughout the world to try and get her the life saving treatment she needs.

This is where we come in. We can help Aillidh and others like her.

If you’re not already registered, please sign up for bone marrow register where you live (see Anthony Nolan in the UK or Be The Match in the US or the Bone Marrow Registry in Ireland). The more people sign up the better the chance for Aillidh and people like her. I signed up with the Anthony Nolan trust several years ago and it’s an easy process.

If you’re on Facebook, then please Like Aillidh’s page and share it with your friends. If you’re on Twitter, spread the word by tweeting about this. Email your friends and family and ask them to sign up and to spread the message in turn.

The more potential donors sign up then the higher the chance of helping Aillidh or another Leukaemia sufferer.

This is a blog hop – check out Salt & Caramelfor the code and link up.

Take this chance to help save a life. Take the time to count your blessings.