Monthly Archives: July 2012

Anything Etsy can do…

My blog writing partner tonight.

Saturday

What a weekend. I got up Saturday, excited about the start of our Bradley classes. Bradley is a 12-week birthing course, designed to prepare the couple as a whole for a natural childbirth. 12 weeks seems a long time (one 2 hour class per week), but Bradley’s rationale is that the woman is preparing for a intense endurance exercise which you should try to enter at peak performance, which takes time – a lot of 5K programs are designed to be conducted over 12 weeks; and heck, running 5K (which I first did with no prep) is quicker and easier than giving birth. So, Bradley is designed to teach you optimal nutrition, exercises for fitness, and also proper relaxation. It is also partner / couple-  centric. The idea being that the ‘other half’ supports the labouring woman with full understanding through helping with positions, breathing and massage. When she transitions and wants to give up, it is him that stops her giving in too early. Maybe it is too much… all this ‘preparation’ – after all, didn’t women just give birth without preparation since forever, and don’t women still do it all the time now? Sure, but Wes and figured a few things:

(1) Babies are bigger, our fitness is not as optimal, and our endurance is probably lower than ‘since forever’

(2) Sure, women do it all the time without preparation; but intervention rates are soaring, and many people do not report a happy experience (many do). Why not prepare to make it as good / positive of an experience as possible?

(3) This is a good way for Wes to be involved: reading blogs and talking to girlfriends about birth over coffee is not exactly his style… coming along and learning how to be useful is

(4) The social / emotional aspects are appealing. We are both looking forward to learning massage and relaxation together, and to meeting some people here in Houston (more on that later).

Plus, it is only $250 for 12 weeks… pretty impressive. The only annoying thing, was that I was preparing for a 2.30 class… kind of annoying time. It basically makes it hard to do anything in the morning or afternoon: midday would have suited me better. But, hey ho, I decided to do a manicure in preparation:

RCM Envelope Please

For my birthday, my Mum got me a whole gel polish kit. Gel nail polish is awesome: you apply a basecoat, 2 coats of polish and a top coat, allowing each one to ‘cure’ (read: dry completely) for 45 secs under an LED light. The polish is extremely chip resistant, and your nails tend to be fairly protected against flaking and breaking.

After the final coat was on, I looked up the address for the Bradley class, and found that it was at 12.30 after all. Score one for having a better time, lose one for having missed the class. I was mortified. I texted our class leader to apologise and she was ever so sweet, saying we could come on Monday evening to learn the exercises for the week. Phew.

Not sure what I did after that: tidy up, unpack from NYC, sort and clean out the bathroom. Then I felt at a loose end… which is odd as I have plenty of hobbies I can do at any time: reading, working, gardening, exploring Houston, piano playing, movie watching… but none appealed. Going and getting some craft stuff to start to make things for Firework’s nursery appealed, but didn’t ‘click’ I just felt lonely. I realised: I miss female company. Mostly, I miss hiking with Stella or David, going and playing with Sasha, Liam and Rachel (who will do anything with me), cinema trips and chats with Kat and my bookgroup 😦 It’s fine; we have only been in Houston 6 weeks, and building up those sorts of friendships takes time. But… I do miss it. So, Wes came with me to Hobby Lobby and patiently waited an hour (OK, patiently waited 40 mins, then was a pest for 20 😉 ) while I got some craft stuff. Dinner out, and then home to organize all my craft stuff. Everything put in neat draws and filed away before bed.

For the crafting

Meanwhile… Wes was back in the attic trying to locate the source of water dripping through our ceiling. Joy.

Sunday

Sunday was… dramatic. We left for church in separate cars so that I could go to IKEA after and Wes could go to Home Depot so he could solve the dripping water, which by now was staining our ceiling, causing little holes in it, and threatening to ruin our new laminate floor. More joy.

Wes left 5 mins before me, and then I got stuck at a train crossing for ages. So. I was surprised when Wes was not at church. Very surprised. I called him – no answer. I couldn’t fathom why he had not called if there was a problem… or why he was not answering now. Unless she had been in a horrible accident. So bad, he could not even call to tell me. Cue slow tears descending into complete hysterics as a further 4 minutes passed. Then Wes turned up… no explanation. He forgot to charge his phone and had made his way there. Must have gone a different route. It took me a full 15 minutes to calm down… I do blame hormones.

So, off I went to IKEA. I hate IKEA. The whole thing is stressful. I hate most things in there. I 1/2 believe that Satan sends his minions for training there on a Sunday. BUT, my beloved Clio is coming out, and staying in Firework’s currently empty, save a beautiful changing table, room (also currently called ‘Clio’s room’). She must at least have bed linen and blinds. Blinds are hella expensive (if you want them to look decent), except at IKEA. So, in the interests of Clio sleeping, in something other than bright morning light, I braved IKEA.

It all went quite swimmingly, with me hankering after this for FW’s room:

For the nursing

until I got to the actual blinds. The walls are going to be a fairly dark grey. I could not picture wooden blinds against that. I just couldn’t. I had been all set on them, now I couldn’t see it. I called Wes. 45 minutes I spent discussing / researching blinds and alternately thinking I might like white drapes against the grey. Wes said everything right; from offering opinion, to saying ‘if you like something, get it and I will love it – really, this is your room’. But, I was overwhelmed. Possibly precipitated by the fact I had just fallen down the stairs (shoe broke as I was descending) and in an attempt to protect the bump had bruised my ass (isn’t there enough cushioning there now??) and smashed my teeth into the railing, I just dissolved into more tears draped over a stack of blinds. Not a few – but streaming, snot inducing, dress staining tears. The sight was quite pathetic: pregnant woman in floaty floral peasant-style dress, with broken flip flops weeping into the textiles at IKEA. I grabbed dark grey roller blinds, white drapes, fixing and high tailed it out of there.

To decide on the way home that maybe white blinds would be best.

Which made me cry.

I made it home. Just. My broken and emotional state was faced with the news that the plumbing is up the spout, can’t be fixed until we can get someone in, we can’t get someone in until we speak to the people who deal with our home warranty and so no air conditioning for us. Let me repeat: no air conditioning. It is some 90-100 degrees during the day and 80-100% humidity. NO. AIR. CONDITIONING.

Yes, this is a story of first world problems… but… still.

Wes took me out to buy me a craft table from Walmart ($35 steal) and insisted I bough a ‘chocolate turtle cake’ and bottle of wine. He is a wise man. I went up and crafted myself into calmness (see? I need Bradley. I need to learn how to relax). I am quite pleased with what I made for FW’s room (not Clio’s room, she shall be spared the infantile decor):

To be bookends?

I will make several of these into a tableau

and came down somewhat better. If not. Hear my no air con plea? Yeah. Hot. Comfort food of pizza, and turtle cake and wine later, and I was ready to tackle my plants, which had survived my NYC trip with varying success. They had dried out somewhat, and needed restaking – sadly, some of the stems had snapped under the weight of the leaves 😦 Hoping that they can regrow?

Quite a forest here – hoping they will be ready to acclimatise soon, and be put outside for increasing periods of the day.

So, as above, my seeds grown in a mixture of potting soil and perlite were doing very well. My seeds grown in peat pots, not so much:

Ugh.

But, whatever the outcome, gardening further calmed me. I am now sitting downstairs (it is slightly cooler) on a made up bed, with the dregs of my wine, preparing to read this:

Walter is sitting with me. He got into my chocolate Philadelphia and ate a pot of it, and would have been told off, had he not been looking so ridiculous:

My pot

So proud was he of his steal, that he carried the empty pot EVERYWHERE with him, even into bed with me.

Oh, some good news though. 2 crafting episodes, 1 IKEA trip, 1 gardening trip and 2 sorting binges and check out my manicure:

LOVE gel nail polish 🙂

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Tourist-time in Houston and New York

I have been being a tourist. First up, in my new hometown of Houston. Last Saturday I was at somewhat of a loose end, so decided to explore my local ‘hood a little. Houston is huge and so I quite cherry picked a few smaller things to do. First up, antique shopping in Midtown. Midtown has a toad with a lot of antique shops along, each with quite a different flavour and I had fun perusing all the nik-naks. I photogrpahed this for Wes who loves antique highchairs, but as I am not a fan per se, he decided not to get it.

Then I went onto ‘The Orange Show’; quite a unique little place. And very hard to describe: just a $1 to see, it is basically an old, but very very small, theatre build by an eccentric who after writing a book on health and longevity wanted to encourage people to eat oranges. Throughout his life, he collected lots of ‘scrap’: pipes, wheels, seats and so on, and build a tiny theatre / maze in bright colours for people to watch his show. The show is no longer running, but the theatre is restored and you can wander around and just ‘play’. It’s kooky, fun and quite engaging.

Next up: Hermann Park and its Museum of Natural History, including their incredible butterly garden. The onto B&N for a coffee, a cookie, and a curl up with a new book on their big sofas 🙂 I had forgotten how much I like just going out and exploring.

The next day I flew to NYC for a training conference. I go to the hotel at 3, and knew I only had one afternoon to ‘see’ New York so I forwent the usual tourist options (which I would love to see sometime) for a 4-mile stroll (trying to get the exercise in). I walked from my hotel in Harlem (Harlem in itself is quite a fascinating site) down to Central Park, and was shocked at how beautiful and large Central Park was. It was nice to see so many people out and about being active, and how diverse the groups of people were: in their ages, their dress, their race, their activities.

I explored the park for a while and was ejected out – oh how convenient, on 5th Avenue. I meandered the shops, and admired the architecture

Learned there is a place called ‘Trump Tower’ the contents of which intrigued me, but turned out to be quite predictable:

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I went to the Lindt store… But really, where I wanted to go was:

[caption id="attachment_1333" align="aligncenter" width="535"] Tiffany & Co

Yes, with my new brown hair I totally put on large sunglasses and pretended to be Audrey Hepburn.

I am not the most conventional person in many ways, and rarely ‘fit in’, but I can also be very conventional in others, and sometimes… it is nice to be a cliche. I love Audrey Hepburn, I love her style, and by proxy, I love Tiffany. My parents (rightly) did not shower me with the 17th birthday VW Polo, and the endless parade of Ralph Lauren and Kickers shoes many of my peers got (I was not deprived in any way… I went on up to 4 holidays a year for freaks sake.. they just didn’t see the point or value in filling my life with those sorts of luxuries). But, on my 16th birthday: ta dah! A Tiffany necklace. Someone once said to me, “I don’t know why you wanted the necklace EVERYONE had”, but that was why I wanted it! It was sort of like a rite of passage (it wasn’t even an expensive one, just the Elsa Perretti small open heart in silver) and I got to do it, and got the magic blue box with the white ribbon (yes, I am a sucker for advertising). I loved it! And since then… I loved Tiffany & Co jewellery. Sure much of it is very affordable now – and T&Co made a decision to make it so – but heck, I can still choose to feel like a Princess. I think the jewellery is pretty, and extremely well made, and why not decide it is special? I am easily pleased 🙂 So, I went and wondered around THE 5th Avenue store and enjoyed it.

After that all sorts of pregnancy aches and pains were kicking in, and I was limping, so I got a cab back to the hotel, and ate take out pizza with netflix, surrounded by my goodies. Who says the life of an academic is hard?

What a haul 🙂

At 31… this much I know…

Making a wish

Had a great birthday! Got to speak to my parents in the morning and then had a really good day at work (my latest paper wasn’t rejected WITHOUT REVIEW until exactly 4 hours after the end of my birthday 😛 ). I came home to decorations on the house,

and a beautiful birthday dinner laid out for me.

After presents (gel manicure nail kit & smashbox eyeshadow palate from ‘rentals; maternity PJs, a maternity dress, a toaster and a waffle iron from da husband; sock money, eraser and key-chain from Sasha, Liam and Rachel respectively) there was of course: the return of the ‘A’ cake.

It was a perfect day.

I reflected that on my last child-free birthday (I hope) I am older but not much wiser… I know very little, but (in the words of The Guardian): this much I know:

1. Revenge is very tempting, pointing out people’s weaknesses with wide-eyed innocence and making them squirm just to appease my own feeling of being hard done by… but I always regret it.

2. Grace is much harder, and takes longer to reconcile peacefully as the right decision, within myself. But I have never regretted extending forgiveness in the long term.

3. Losing control of a situation is a failure: usually a sign of bad management and poor planning. Losing control of a person is not. People should be left to be free.

4. Jealousy holds me back and makes me unproductive; being inspired by where / who what I want to be is a springboard to greater things.

5. I have never regretted staying late to finish a project or task. I have regretted letting things slide.

6. I have never regretted sharing an idea. Ideas are like people: they should also be set free to find the sustenance to grow.

7. “I am so sorry, I must have got it wrong” has opened the most doors for me.

Not much… but a start…

Happy 4th July!!

Time to appease the American right and wish y’all a happy American Independence Day! Some people are thoughtful and ask if I ‘mind’ being invited to a July 4th party. Not at all! To be honest, America is such a powerful nation, which Brits think of as quite advanced, that the English can quite easily forget the fact that America was ever a colony of England. Plus, our attitude towards the colonial past is generally one of awkwardness and embarrassment, and the modern take on our overseas territories is “take a vote… if you want independence… it is yours!” so there is no worries about those who defeated us in the past and separated off, as we tend to think “Yeah.. probably shouldn’t have fought that anyway…”. BNP withstanding. Plus, ya know, aside of worrying about their poor human rights record, it did Britain pretty well that America gained freedom; German doesn’t suit us 😉

Terrible pre-4th July decision to cut my own bangs 😦

That being said: I have not celebrated July 4th before. It is the day before my birthday; on my first year in the US I went camping for a long weekend, for said birthday, and forgot about it. For my second year, I was deep in grant writing mode – trying to catch up from the wedding – and similarly forgot (I think I only realised when I rocked up to an empty office). For this, my third, year I am a PERMANENT RESIDENT (which is about as close to a citizen as I will ever chose to get myself) and I was going to celebrate. We didn’t have any invites in Houston (sob) so no parties… so I insisted on a parade. Wes was wary about the quality of a small-town parade, but I explained that we don’t really have parades at all in England, so it would all be new an exciting to me.

Fire trucks!

Apparently I got the true experience: the mayor in a posh car, marching bands, annoyed looking children failing to complete some focused activity adequately enough for the parents (this time: skipping), mediocre fire trucks, stacks of cars of varying interest (CHECK OUT THE LINE OF DELOREANS IN THE GALLERY), political parties handing out propaganda and some poorly decorated floats. Oh! And stacks and stacks of candy which parade participants lob at the crowd. I think this is the main point of parades actually… so much candy.

The main problem was that the candy and beads were mostly aimed at children… and I didn’t have a child (apparently it is bad form to knock children out of the way for candy). Next year my pretty…. next year.

Oh, but next year I want to be IN the parade. I am serious. It is a new goal. And I also want to wave a Union Jack for a joke… but Texans have too many guns 😦

Tonight: Fireworks. Whoop!
Tomorrow: My last birthday without a stinkin’ child getting all the limelight: double whoop!