Just trying to keep up with life

Today is one of those days when I get on the tube and breathe a sigh of relief and then remember it is only Tuesday. How is it only Tuesday??? I feel like I have been running at 100mph so how can it only be Tuesday. Then I think ‘Come on Els. Don’t get too excited for the weekend. They aren’t how they used to be.’

Writing this, I now feel unbearably guilty that I have kids, a fab job, lovely family, husband, friends etc and still have low times. But this, I’m afraid is a low time. I can tell I’m low because the slightest thing added to my already full plate is enough to send me potty. This morning it was an email from Amazon reminding me to return an item. It is now all I can think about. I guess because the little things (like the amazon delivery) I feel I can control. It’s the Hamster Wheel of Life I feel that I have no control of and I just want to get off for 24 hours.

Every morning the same. Youngest child comes into our room and only wants me. This should be nice and I should love it but sometimes it’s just exhausting. Eldest child has the same strops I used to have as a child….my tights are uncomfortable, my hair has bumps. There is a scene in Sing (which we watch every day) when Rosita the knackered-mum-pig makes a recording of herself so she can leave the house and do something she wants to do. That’s what I feel like doing for the morning routine. I swear I say literally the same thing everyday at exactly the same time. 7:52 is the row about tights and 8:01 is the row about bumps in hair. Eventually they look presentable and we head downstairs to have a row about breakfast. “No you can’t have f&@£ing chocolate cake.” 10 minutes later….”f£&k it. Have chocolate cake but make sure you have a banana with it.” We leave the house. Youngest child is insistent on bringing a telephone on a string everywhere we go…consequently we are late. Have I mentioned that I still haven’t had a shower and I have last night’s dream dribble crusted around my mouth????

Finally I get on the tube to work and I start breathing again. Wow. Sometimes I feel like I’ve totally got it. Other times I feel like I am just pretending and I need someone to lock me in a room for 24 hours where I can just rock and hum random tunes to myself. The funny thing is, that this 100mph living becomes the norm. Almost a habit, so it becomes almost impossible to relax even when I have the time to.

I guess this is why blogging helps. For the last 15 minutes I have ranted at my 30 followers and I now feel better. So thanks guys and if any of the rest of you feel like exhausted hamsters, please know you are not alone and I feel your pain.

Motherhood Reimagined by Sarah Kowalski

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this novel.

This is a book which will stay with me for a long time. This is the first book on fertility issues I have read but the book was calling to me as I am now at slap bang in the ‘baby phase.’ My friends and I have moved on from weddings and we are now at that stage of having and trying to have babies.

Fertility is something which is taken for granted. When you first become sexually active you spend your life trying not to get pregnant and living in fear that a ‘mistake’ would be made and you would fall pregnant. As young women, we brazenly go through life assuming that we are all fertile goddesses and, if you happened to have unprotected sex, you will become a mother nine months later. When you plan your life do you ever allow for infertility problems, divorce, illness? Of course not. You assume you will breeze through life unscathed by the ups and downs. They happen to other people. People on Eastenders and Hollyoaks. Not to people like you.

Sarah Kowalski was one such woman. As a child, she loved children and assumed she would always become a mother. Like a lot of modern women, her career and life in general took centre stage ‘somewhere between my rocket-speed career and my jet-setting, single life, I’d completely lost my resolve to have children.’ She became a high powered  corporate litigator. However disaster struck and she was diagnosed with a type of repetitive strain injury called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. She went from an energetic, sociable woman to someone who was in constant pain. She didn’t have the strength  to wash her own hair or even put her key in the lock. She left her job and started to research alternative therapies like Feldenkrais and Qigong. It is through Qigong that Sarah met the most patient man in the world. Chris. Through Chris’s Qigong sessions Sarah decided she would start the journey to motherhood and she embarked upon Project Baby. As any woman knows, when Project Baby starts it is completely all encompassing. 

This is when the book became slightly frustrating for me. As a woman who struggles with depression, I have always gone for the quick fix….medication. Counselling didn’t work for me. I didn’t want to chat, I wanted a cure. This is where Kowalski and I differ.  I struggled with Kowalski’s initial objection to IVF, donations and her disregard to the information provided by the medical experts. The odds were so stacked against her, her time was running out and it was incredibly unlikely that acupuncture and Chinese herbs were going to make a difference. But that was her journey, and although the constant sobbing phone calls to Chris were irritating for me as a reader, Kowalski felt she had to run through all her options before she moved onto donation. On finishing the book, my feelings of frustration changed into feelings of respect. This was a process that Kowalski had to go through. She felt she had to exhaust all her options before she moved onto IVF and donation. Luckily Kowalski was not constrained by her financial situation. Money was no object in quest to have a baby. This is obviously not the case for a great many women out there and I wish Kowalski had acknowledged this. Her route to motherhood would not necessarily have been the one I would have taken. but it was her’s and that was an inspiration. 

I use the word ‘journey’ because that is really what this book felt like for me as a reader. Fertility is such a massively contentious issue. I was lucky enough to fall pregnant easily but I know a lot of people who didn’t. As one of the ones who didn’t struggle, I often feel like I am not qualified to have an opinion on fertility issues and I am so scared of saying the wrong thing. All I can say is, as a mother I can only imagine how it must feel when you are faced with the very real possibility that you might not have children of your own. For those amongst us who have always planned to become parents, to discover that you might not be able to fulfill that destiny. When you feel your body isn’t doing what it should. When everywhere you look, you see pregnant people. Utterly heartbreaking. 

Sarah Kowalski is a woman we should all admire. To go through this journey alone is utterly inspirational. In a sense Chris almost became her partner. Lacking the steady constant a partner or family member would provide, Chris took on the role. He helped her choose a sperm donor, channeled her anger and was even present during her labour.  I wonder had Sarah had that sounding board in the form of a partner maybe she would have come to the decision of donation quicker? If she had that person who could literally take the decision out of her hands things may have been easier. I wanted her to have someone to say ‘Stop. This isn’t working. Let’s try something else.’

As I have made clear, this was not an easy read. I feel like I went through the whole range of emotions with Sarah. Hope, frustration, excitement, disappointment, happiness. This was the kind of book that made me actually audibly react on the train which was often embarrassing. I also often felt quite stressed on arriving at work having read a few chapters on my journey. I want to make it clear that by no means is this a criticism of the book. I completely engaged with it and learned a lot. This book should be read by anyone who wishes to become a parent. Who knows if your journey will be easy but if it’s not I am sure Kowalski’s book will offer hope and comfort.

Thanks again to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Autumn Motivation

I completely love it when the nights draw in. The start of Strictly Come Dancing and the shorter days signify the countdown to Christmas and I am definitely one of those people who genuinely wish it could be Christmas every day. 

The darker nights also give me the confidence to go running.  This activity has to be done in the dark because………

I look like this

And also I love being nosy and running past people’s houses. 

This also comes at a time when we are thinking about having another baby. Both my previous pregnancies ruined me as I suffered with hypremesis gravidarum, umbilical hernia and also PND. I must be mad wanting to do it all again but I genuinely feel like I’m not done. Anyway I have set myself a goal. I am not even going to start to ‘try’ until I am fitter than I have ever been and I have managed to wean myself off my antidepressants.

So far so good. I even went running today after quite a heavy dinner party last night. I am slightly worried I have broken my dog though. 

I also wanted to list some podcasts that I use to keep me going.

  1. Casefile. Really good podcast which documents murder cases. 
  2. The Last Podcast On The Left.    This podcast makes me laugh a lot. Quite dark subject matter but the 3 guys who host it are hilarious.
  3. My Favourite Murder. This is also hilarious . Making murder funny should be so wrong but these 2 women manage to handle really dark subject matter in an often light hearted way and they also have a massive cult following.
  4. Woman’s Hour. Radio 4
  5. All The Books. Really good book based podcast. 

Winter fixes

Happy Friday folks. 

Just a quick one. This stuff is brilliant. I have been smearing it all over my 4 year old when she is asleep. How is it young children sleep so deeply???? Basically, Edie has really bad dry patches on her face and around her mouth at the mo and she is utterly against putting anything on her face other than MAC Russian Red lipstick. Therefore I am sneaking in to her room at night and basting her in this stuff. All I can say is STUPENDOUS. It’s pretty thick, has the consistency of Vaseline and a little goes a long way but it really does work.
Have a great weekend.

Punished by my kids

Is it just a coincidence that when you finally get a night off from parenting, you seem to suffer the wrath of your kids for days?

We had an opening night on Thursday so I went to the First Night party and then on to a bar. I had fun!!! It’s lovely going out with my work colleagues. To these guys I am just Ella. Not Ella with 2 kids, just Ella. It also massively helps that I am still the youngest member of the female chorus and yes I guess that does make me feel young. Well younger!!! Don’t get me wrong, I adore being a mum but I also like the fact that I have an outlet (my job) where for a few hours a week I can not only become Ella again but also a whole load of other crazy characters. On Thursday I was decked out like a Egyptian. 

Anyway, the show went well and I went out to celebrate. Since then, my youngest has come down with the mother of all colds and the RAGE. She has been up since 5 both mornings and unless I am cuddling her and watching nursery rhymes  on YouTube she goes nuts. It’s nice to be wanted and all but the RAGE that is contained in my 22 month old is just ridiculous. 

So having woken up at 5:14 yesterday after only 3 hours sleep, I had to get Edie to school. Of course it was pissing it down. We weren’t allowed on 3 buses as there were already buggies so by the time I arrived at school I was a very sweaty mess. I then sat through Edie’s first assembly. Who knew there were 4 different songs composed about turnips?!?!  My youngest daughter Ceci spent the time growling (yes actually growling like Regan from the Exorcist) at everyone who came near her. The RAGE surfaced. Not only does she growl she actually bats people away with her hand. I try to pretend that she is simultaneously clearing her throat and waving to people but it’s pretty unconvincing . The RAGE continued to bubble. We went to a new playgroup where Ceci continued the throat clearing and waving and then added hitting to the mix which I couldn’t pretend was anything other than hitting so we left. 

Oh Ceci you are one feisty woman. You look like an angel but definitely sting like a bee. I hope this is just a phase. A phase when you are just frustrated because you haven’t got the language you need to communicate. Anyway, until you have those skills, I definitely need more than 3 hours sleep and a clear head to deal with the RAGE.

BB Bloody Brilliant.

Firstly, a comment about my beauty posts. I am no beauty expert and I am not going to pretend to be. I have worked as an opera singer for the last sixteen years so I do know a thing or two about applying make-up, taking it off, putting your skin and hair through the wringer. I also have two kids, sleep with one eye open, seem to be up at least once every night and spend my life rushing around like a blue-arsed fly. Consequently, I look like a monster without skincare and make-up products that work. I have also recently had my hair cut short and now seem to wake up in the morning looking like Brienne of Tarth after a particularly violent battle. So, in a nutshell I need stuff that works -that makes me look like I have had more than 5 hours sleep, that I don’t drink endless cups of tea (and more than a few glasses of wine) and that I have the time and energy to look after myself. If you are a child free, clean eating, twenty something, these posts may not be for you…in fact they make may you think more seriously about contraception which I am all good with.

Anyway BB cream. I received a sample of the Beblesh cream in my beauty box and having tried a few other brands of BB cream with minimal results I had no idea that I was holding the Holy Grail of BB in my sweaty little hand. I honestly believe that this stuff is sent by the Gods, via Korea, specifically for me!

So what is BB cream? The brains at Wikipedia say it has the ‘perfection power of a foundation and the moisturising power of a skincare product. On top of that, it also provides a sunblock.’ This stuff is HUGE in Korea, indeed Skin 79 is a Korean brand which claims to ‘combine advanced technology with pure vegetable active ingredients for radiant results that have won the brand multiple awards.’

I mean look at this skin. I want to get me some of that. This woman laughs in the face of open pores, heavy nights and eye bags. YES PLEASE!

So, firstly, this stuff is thick. I am not someone who shies away from the word ‘thick.’ I need thick. I need coverage and the kind of coverage that clings to my skin all day. Amazingly the coverage is thick but it actually feels really light and it really does make your skin look luminous. You do actually glow….which is why I cover it with a little foundation. Don’t be put off by the word ‘whitening.’ I was slightly worried I would end up looking like Elizabeth I but I figured it was still worth a go because even Liz doesn’t look as bad as me without make-up.

I needn’t have worried as I use it as a primer and still cover it with foundation and a bronzer.

It comes in a bottle with a pump so you can control how much you use and you really don’t need much so a bottle will last ages.

As for the long-term benefits….hmmmmmm. Well my pores don’t look any worse and because it feels so moisturising I am convinced it is keeping the wrinkles at bay.

Anyway, give it a try. I think its brill!!!!!

Thanks for reading.

Three books

So a word about reading. This is my happy place. I am reading obsessed.

I tend to have 3 books on the go at any one time.

Book  1 has to be a library book. Since having kids I am in the library a lot. I think it is really important to make reading fun for children and I also think it is important that my children see me reading. Libraries are a wicked resource that we should massively support.

Book 2 has to be one of the many unread books on my book shelf. This is mainly because I have a book addiction and if I don’t read what is on my shelves the books will take over the house.

Book 3 is a dip in and out book. Poetry , play, something more factual.


Without further ado…..

This was my library book.

I really liked the blurb about this book mainly because it is a family saga. The story is told through 3 women. Grandmother Betsy, Aunt Bel and daughter Hetta. The story essentially centres around a devastating accident which changes all the lives of the Tye family but in particular between cousins Cele and Will.

I love a good family epic, but I felt this book was lacking something.  Because the story is told as memories of the three women, it feels somehow detached. I also really wanted to hear from Cele.  I think the combination of the memoir concept and the lack of Cele’s voice made me struggle to really care about the characters even though what they were going through was so emotional.

My favourite character’s voice was Betsy, mainly because it focused on WW2 and the fact that Betsy’s husband was a Concientious Objector. This was a slant to the story which I found really interesting in particular how the father’s political views affected the lives of the rest of the family.

The other interesting topic the book brought up was euthanasia……

‘So what should I do?’ I asked. ‘You know something about the sanctity of life but is there not a sanctity of death? There are occasions where there is such a thing as a good death, wouldn’t you say?’

This is topic I have thought about a lot since reading the book and it is impossible to not be moved by the plight of the characters but I think it’s the subject itself rather than Vickers’s writing that has made me think.

Book 2. I read this for my book club and I have to say I was really looking forward to it. There was so much hype around this book that I was massively intrigued. I also loved the idea of the pictures and it has to be said that the look of the book is great. Having said that, it is really hard to read such a hyped book with an open mind. Will the book ever live up to expectations? Also reviewing a YA novel as a 36 year old is also quite tricky. Without a doubt my 14,15,16 year old self would have loved it.

My 14 year old self would have loved the photos. Would have thought they were absolutely amazing. 36 year old me is slightly more cynical. It seems a little paint by numbers. Briggs describes a character and the next page is a picture of said character. So far so good. Unfortunately it gets a bit silly when you see a photo of some silly squiggles which are then described as Horace’a premonition. The same as the photo of the girl smoking a pipe and peeling potatoes. Really???? Did Briggs just find these photos and think ‘yup, I’ll just chuck ’em in the book.’

Sometimes I’d find a new photo that just demanded to be included in the story, and I’d find a way of working it in; other times I’d look for a certain type of photo to fit a story idea I had.

Raymond Briggs

I started questioning what the book would be like without the pictures?? This is slightly unfair as the pictures are a massive part of the book. Nevertheless, I don’t think the story alone is that impressive. All in all, I did enjoy it but I wasn’t blown away.

Should I read the other 2 in the trilogy????
Book 3

So with reading 3 books at a time I thought it would be a good think to read an book that would take me out of my comfort zone. I am a poetry novice. I have not read any poetry since A Level English and even then I am embarrassed to say it was a bit of a chore. I think maybe I just haven’t found my thang so my plan is to dedicate a bit of time to discover what it is I like. I don’t want to be one of those people who hate all seafood because they dislike prawns. I need to be open minded and challenge myself.

This book has been sitting on my shelf since Xmas. It is perfect to dip in and out. Alan Bennett’s commentary is brilliant and I think I preferred a lot of his words to the poems in question. His words on Larkin’s This Be The Verse:

Even if Larkin hadn’t got on with his parents, I still think he was wrong to complain about it. If your parents do fuck you up and you’re going to write, that’s fine because then you’ve got something to write about. But if they don’t fuck you up, then you’ve got nothing to write about, so then they’ve fucked you up good and proper.

So what new poems did I discover and love….

Last Words to a Dumb Friend  Thomas Hardy

Trilogy for X    Louis MacNeice

Les Sylphides   Louis MacNeice
I will definitely keep reading poetry. I love the challenge and I thinkit completely   centres the mind as I have to really concentrate.

What are my next 3 books???

All 3 books are to do with mothering/child rearing. I have already started the Kevin Wilson and I am loving it. I decided to look at the Biddulph as my 4 year old daughter is already asking me if I think she is pretty. She is insisting of wearing 10 (yes 10) hairbands at a time because with only 1 she is ugly. Terrifying and something I don’t feel equipped to deal with.  And The Mormon Girl…..well this is just a subject I want to know more about.

Anyway thank you for looking at my blog.