Wednesday, July 01, 2015

the anatomy of a run

It's the 12 day countdown until the Brit and I run our race around London for Sands.

And in case you missed it, this is what we are doing. All for charidee, and in memory of Molly. So if this is something that means anything to you, or you want to help, it's not too late to show your support.

In the meantime, the HIIT I've been doing has definitely helped. See what I did there? I even used short-hand. Only people who are really erious about getting fit do that. And my lungs are like two massive hot air balloons right now. (I just need my legs to move faster.)

I am now doing a 6-7 km run every second day, in between 45 minutes of HIIT. I've fitter than I've ever been, even if I definitely don't look like it. (Still a bit wobbly, if you ask me.)

Training for this has been fun, and emotional. I often get quite tearful on the treadmill, as I think of my children and hope they'd be proud of me. Also ecause running for a long time is quite taxing, so maybe that's why I cry sometimes.

This is the pattern I've noticed:



I am going to aim to do this thing in ONE HOUR.

I know. Absurd and preposterous.
I think I'll manage it in - if nothing goes too wrong - about 1 hour 10 minutes.

But I am gunning for an hour.
The Brit in the meantme has been training by running around the common a few times. His JustGiving page needs some love, so if you can't decide who to support, please support his page.

I even treated myself to some shiny, new Nike all-sweat-eradicating threads today.

My Best Irish Gay Friend and his boyfriend are going to babysit Sebastian for us and meet us at the finish line.

I think it's going to be emotional.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

three point turns

I literally watched him try to do a three-point turn for about three hours over the weekend.

Bash...bash..bash...bash between the door frames.

And wondering how on EARTH we could've produced such a cute little chunky boy as this.*
I can't even.
 I.

 Can't.
  Even.

 Move. This Thing.
[Excessive grunting and drooling as the concentration starts to become an external force of wills]
 Jesus, can somebody do me a favour??

I am enjoying this little boy just so so very much at the moment.


*If you think he is even slightly cute, times that cuteness by 796 896, because that's how cute I think he is. When he isn't kicking off.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

my boy and his chair

It was pretty intense coming back after 8 solid days in the US, and seeing the change in Sebastian.

Yes. Eight days away from a constantly developing child is a long time.

I got back and already saw that his little face had changed, and he was doing things like HIGH FIVING.
He can high five now, what the fuck?

One of the brits friends taught him. and one of the things I noticed is that more than ever, when you teach him something, it sticks.
Teaching him stuff is so rewarding suddenly - from his high fives, I taught him just on the weekend to touch my finger as a greeting, and now we have this thing that we do where I stick out my finger to him and he touches it.

Like that scene out of E.T:
It is so cute, I literally almost die everytime he does this with me. And a great big grin and giggle envelopes his face.

He also learnt to claim his own throne.
He has a little chair at home that's kind of been sitting there waiting for him to use. I pulled it out, and suddenly, there he was, climing into it and practicing getting on and off over and over again.

He finds the concept of sitting on his own chair so novel, that he now missions off to find his chair and just sit and chill in it every morning.

I find this ridiculously cute, and also sadly, quite grown up. My child is a full-on toddler now.
The other morning, he went to the lounge to play with his toys, and everything went quiet for 5 minutes.

This usually means only one of two things:
1) he is sticking his fingers in the plug sockets;
2) he has taken a crap so large, that he is now smearing it all over the floor

No, in fact, there he was; curled on his chair - with chimney detritis smeared all over his little face - reading a book.
The fantasy every mother toys with before and after having a kid; finding her child, perfectly happy on their own, engulfed in the pages of a book.
 Oh, hai.
 Just on my own, eating a biscuit. On my chair. Self-sufficiently.

 The same thing happened the next day. Off he went, it all went quiet, I wondered whether he was pulling apart the electric cables in the TV cupboard, and instead, was just sitting there.

In his chair, in his onesie, thinking.
 Literally, staring into space having a little daydream.

Fuck me. But the love you feel for your child when he indulges an ultimate fantasy - especially when he is a boy and therefore doesn't usually sit still for more than 4 seconds, nevermind quietly, and in solitude - outdoes anything you ever imagined possible in the world.

Only hours before, was he pulling my hair and screaming, for no reason at all. And loud enough to wake the neighbours.

That is all forgotton when you find him quietly talking to himself, while reading a book.

PS: My boy is still an avid fashion blogger. His mother is still a determined baby stylist. aI hope he doesn't hate me for this one day, but I can only hope he boils it down to "My mother took great pride in all of my outfits."

Monday, June 22, 2015

the four pillars of american shopping

So, shopping in America is a special kind of purgatory reserved for those who love being harassed and who also like stuff for, practically, free.

It's no secret that when people from the UK (I got my greenbacks; I got my benjamins), shop like they've been stuck behind the Iron Curtain for thirty years.

But it's not like shopping in Thailand or Dubai or other shopping meccas across the globe blessed with diminishing exchange rates.

America: it's landscape, people, entire value system, is based around how people consume stuff. Love it or hate it, it's there. And if you've got some pounds to spend [realised that you don't, in fact, have "disposable income" to spend anymore but go right ahead and do it anyway], you can come away with a builder's van full of stuff if you're not careful.

Why? Because there is a sale going on at any one time, at any store, on any day, always.

Americans know how to do sales. Actual sales. Not this whole "End of summer sale!!" Bullshit. "Come in and get 3% off on selected items!! Between the hours of 8-10am!! First come, first served!!"
This is why fights break out in these kinds of places, with women completely losing their shit, as they play tug 'o war with a [pretty average] pair of trousers, for example. Hair-pulling, queue-jumping, sweary-talking; civilised department stores that end up looking like Primark with people throwing clothes around like how people throw powder around at a Holi Festival. Would I plan a day around going to a sale in a UK store? Would I fuck.

But America! Not only do they slash prices on multiple items, all the time, they slash a further off "just for being foreign."

This is a conversation I had in Banana Republic in San Francisco:

"Hello, it says here if I spend more than $100, I get $50 taken off?"

Shop assistant: WHY HELLO THERE, HOW ARE YOU, SUPER, THANKS FOR ASKING! SO, THAT IS CORRECT! AND BECAUSE YOU HAVE TWO ITEMS, YOU GET THE THIRD ONE FREE TOO.

"Third one free, plus $50 off?"

"YES, OH MY GOD, WHERE ARE YOU FROM? AUSTRALIA? I LOVE AUSTRALIA! I'VE NEVER BIN, BUT I LOVE IT! BECAUSE YOU'RE FROM AUSTRALIA, WE GIVE YOU AN ADDITIONAL 10% FOR TAX."

"................[sorry eyes].... actually, I live in another country, not actual Australia, but it's practically the same thing, so do I still get my 10% tax off?"

"OH MY GOSH, I AM SO SORRY! OF COURSE YOU DO! WHERE IN AUSTRALIA ARE YOU FROM?"

"London."

"OH MY GOD, THAT'S MY FAVOURITE PART, I LOVE LONDON!"

[pause]

"OH AND HERE'S A COUPON. IN CASE YOU COME IN TOMORRAH. WE'RE HAVING ANOTHER SALE TOMORRAH; BUY ONE GET THREE FREE. GEDDIT? GET THREE FREE!"

------------

In America, they pay you to buy stuff basically.

It's fairly reasonable

Even if in the [highly unlikely] situation that a store isn't having a sale, [but I mean, this is so highly unlikely, it's not even a real possibility], you can buy quality stuff at low prices.
In some countries, clothing is dear in comparison to cost of living prices. South Africa is a good example of this; even as a sterling earner, I thought clothes there were really expensive.

In the UK, it really depends where and how you shop.

In America, they'll throw five [genuine] Hugo Boss polo shirts at you for a twenty each. Which is why the Brit now has a replenished polo shirt collection in his wardrobe right now.

When you enter a store muttering the words, "Shit. The. Bed. It's 70% off," realise that you are in a lot of trouble.

It's plentiful

America is built on strip malls, a grid network and wide super highways. There's a lot of free space. Everywhere you turn are shops, shops and more shops.

There is just not enough days, resilience, monetary endurance, foot massages and mental dexterity to really even scratch the surface of what is available to buy in the United States of Sales.

The shop assistants will assault you

We had a discussion amongst ourselves before leaving to go on this trip. On how to deal with shop assistants in America. Their persistence is nothing short of Olympiotic.

This is what will happen to you when you enter a store, even if you avoid eye contact and try to hide behind a rack, like I do, because generally I can't deal:

"HEY THERE! HOW ARE YOU HOW CAN I HELP YOU TODAY, SUPER, THANKS FOR ASKING!"

Hello! Just browsing thanks! [cue left, immediately perform illegal U-turn and head towards a rack of unassuming jumpers]

"ARE YOU LOOKING FOR ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?"

Nope, just browsing thanks!

"IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, ANY QUESTIONS AT ALL, MY NAME IS CHERIE-JO, AND YOU CAN FIND ME RIGHT HERE. STANDING RIGHT OVER HERE IN CASE YOU MISS ME."

Thanks Cherie-Jo!

"WOW, THAT LOOKS AMAZING WITH YOUR SKIN TONE! THAT IS SOOO CUTE! ISN'T IT CUTE? I THINK IT'S SO CUTE. I EVEN HAVE ONE MYSELF. AND SO DOES MY SISTER. IT'S ALSO 50% OFF BECAUSE YOU'RE FROM AUSTRALIA."

50% you say?

"YEAH. LET ME TAKE THAT FOR YOU TO HANG IN THE CHANGING CUBICLE SO THAT YOU CAN TRY IT ON. AND YOUR OTHER STUFF. HERE, LET ME TAKE THAT FOR YOU."

But I want to hold onto my shirt, please. The one I'm wearing.

"OK, WELL YOU JUST LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU'RE DONE BROWSING. YOU CAN FIND ME RIGHT HERE. STANDING RIGHT OVER HERE IN CASE YOU MISS ME."

[Once in the change room.]

[BANG BANG BANG BANG] HELLO, HOW IS IT GOING IN THERE? DOES IT FIT? CAN I COME IN? I BET IT LOOKS REAL CUTE!

It's great thanks, I'm just naked. So all good thanks!

"IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, ANY QUESTIONS AT ALL, MY NAME IS CHERIE-JO, AND YOU CAN FIND ME RIGHT HERE. STANDING RIGHT OVER HERE IN CASE YOU MISS ME."

------
God bless America.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

murica

So, this is my fifth day in America. And the fifth day I have been away from my child.

(Will he remember me? Does he even miss me? Does he know I'm coming back if he does? What's going through his little mind? Does he think about me ever?)

And thus far, these things have happened.
Jet lag. Intense.
I nearly went to Tijuana.
Over the weekend, a group of us stayed in Santa Monica/Los Angeles for the weekend. We all went out to a Mexican restaurant on Saturday - in fact, I think we pretty much ate Mexican food for 48 hours running - hashtag winning - but we also indulged in what seemed like endless pitchers of maragaritas.

Now. I haven't drunk a tequila-based beverage for about 5 years. I'm one of the many that dry heave when the substance is bought into my proximity, and let's face it, as I am out of practice in the general booze capacity stakes, tequila was only going to do one thing to me: take me for everything I am.
Happy hour in LA.
 
I remember fragments of the evening (Lashtag! MumsOnTour!), where I was scooping up nachos drizzled in beans and guacamole straight into my face, endless maragritas, a sombrero and sunglasses inside.

Sunglasses Inside has always been an old party staple of mine. I'm having a GREAT time when I wear my shades inside. I am also drunk and obnoxious and do things like suggest going to Tijuana.

Cabs were called ("Only 2.5 hours away guys! Ten can journey at least!" <----wtf 20="" about="" and="" checked="" for="" i="" literally="" mexico.="" minutes="" on="" our="" out="" p="" regulations="" think="" to="" visa="" way="" we="" were="">
Luckily we didn't go. One voice of reasons in our party (She Who Also Loves Tweed: "We are not going to TJ. An hour into that journey and we will all hate our lives,") clearly managed to convince us otherwise, but I still woke up in the morning with a discarded Corona next to my face and think, "Oh my fuck. Are we in Mexico?")

So that was fun. Being 18 again.
 Hangoverising on Santa Monica beach.

On that.
I feel like I don't experience much joy or laughs or fun anymore. The joy I get out of life at the moment is pretty much drawn from my son and husband. I am meant to be using this trip to find a bit of the Old Me again. She's in there somewhere; I just haven't seen her for a while. I find it hard to relate to her anymore, but gradually she has resurfaced over the last few days and it's been quite something.

I miss Sebastian like I would miss my arm if it fell off. I just pore over the pictures the Brit sends me of him, and I feel sadness and guilt crop up at all hours of the day.

I also think about Sebastian and Molly. The last time I came to the US, I was three months pregnant with both of them. I remember the trip well (mostly because I was sober for all of it), and thinking I was taking my twins to America. I was going on a little trip with my babies.

I am also staying at the same hotel as last time. How very different the prospects are now.

I am training though! Hell YES mothersticker. I ran, alongside my team, an 8 kilometre run in San Francisco yesterday. I almost died, but it happened. I am hobbling around liek an 80 year old, but I am glad I've done a road run now.
I also hit the treadmill the other day, so I am keeping fit.

We cycled to Venice Beach.
One of the nicest [sober] parts of the weekend was hiring some bikes, hitting the promenade that stretches across the coast of LA, and cycling along it, next to the beach. My skin even picked up some sun!

We have shopped.
and this time, I have a serious budget. I have spent hours poring the shops with my workmates, and have bought some amazing stuff on sale for my Brit and Sebastian.

We are going to Napa Valley tonight.
This is anaother thing I have never done on my trips out here. But tonight that changes, as we are all going on a wine tour.

Hooray!

Gosh I miss my boy. If only I could've bottled up his smell and cuddles and brought them with me.

Popquiz: what country am I in?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

running up hills and america

I'm training hard. I'm eating tons, but training hard.

So, I'm clocking up 5 kms on the treadmill a day, and can't seem to go further.

I've realised why.

"What incline are you running at on the treadmill?"

"Oh, about a 4. Sometimes a 4.5, and then I add some uphills and raise it to a 7."

"Er...you mean a 0.4 surely."

"No.....I almost certainly run at a 4."

"Show me."

[We walk to the gym in my building]

"Ah.....So you're training to run up hills, basically."

Now, this has to be a good thing surely? That I've been running for hours on end up hills and not on the flats?
I just thought a 4 was most realistic, ie more like a real-life road, than running at a 1 on a treadmill. So I wanted to cover my bases. 

But, apparently it's better if I do 10 minutes of pure interval training (sprints and cool down) than run for 45 minutes, even up hill.

So I'm going to give this a go.

As of today, I am sitting at 77% of my funding goal to help Sands. So if you're thinking of donating, or even just toying with the idea, every penny helps! Please support this cause, come on, do it!

I am going to America

I am doing my first real, long work trip away from my son.
I'm going to California on Saturday, for a whole week.

I've never been away from my child for more than a night here or there, and certainly not inter-continentally.
I am a bag of guilt and anxiety; and I am also very, very excited. I swing between both.

On the one hand, I worry about him and the Brit and whether the Brit will cope looking after Sebby full-time for almost 8 days, all by himself. I think he will cope fine, and he will make it work, but I also think he is going to be strung out and exhausted by the time I get home.

On the other hand, he does work trips all the time, so it will be good for him to sit on the other side of the river bank and experience it as the Stay-At Home Dad.

Then there's the positive.
I'll be, like a normal person for a week. I'll do what normal people do. In that, I'll feel like a person who perhaps has a full-time nanny, or who doesn't have a baby for a week.

This is pretty exciting, in terms of:

1) I can sleep. Jesus Christ, I can sit on a 12 hour flight and sleep, watch movies, do absolutely fucking nothing, then land, and if I feel like it, go straight to the hotel and sleep. Even more.

2) I can lie in. Until at least 7:30am every morning.
Only people with babies will get this, but yes, that is a lie-in. When your baby wakes up between 5:30 and 6:00am, this is a lie-in. I can also wake up to the sound of an alarm clock and not wails.
Just my luck, I will wake up at 5:30am anyway, and will miss his wails. I bet that will happen.

3) I can go out on a bender.
And not worry about the aftermath that awaits me the next morning. Hangovers are shit, there's no getting around it. As we age, the three glasses of wine you had the night before suddenly feel like half a bottle of tequila.
Add a baby into the mix, where you have to just keep on keepin' on, and continue the day, not indulge in your headache or nausea for one second, and you have the Super Hangover.
I used to think going to work with a hangover was stupid. Where pushing a mouse around all day, avoiding any career-limiting conversations, avoiding eye contact with the boss, while necking cans of Coke, just wasn't worth the trouble.
Now, going to work with a hangover I've realised, is about 8 000 times easier than staying at home with Sebastian, with one.

4) There is sunshine in California.
Oodles of it. I'll basically be wearing sunglasses all day long. Possibly even inside. This is exciting.

5) Shopping.
This is where guilt and/or anxiety really peaks. Shopping for Brits on the dollar is cheap; and it is plentiful. Especially when you're staying in Union Square in San Francisco. Whenever we go, we always shop.
This time I have to really stick to a budget (I just don't have the disposables for crazy shopping anymore), and I will probably come home with things mostly for father and son.

6) A few of us are going to LA for the weekend.
I've been to San Francisco a bunch of times, but never LA. A few of us have decided to fly to Santa Monica for the weekend prior to our conference and hit up the beach and shopping; Hollywood style.
I'll be looking out for Caitlyn Jenner while I tan my child-bearing hips on the sandy shores of the Pacific.

7) I can sleep. Did I already mention this? I'll be very jet-lagged and it'll be nasty, but I can sleep if I want to! Sorry, did I already mention this? I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. Not that Sebby wakes up in the night regularly, it's just that he wakes up extremely bloody early in the mornings, and I haven't had an afternoon nap in two years, so yes. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep. I can sleep.

8) Mexican food.
Southern California does it very well.

As long as I can park the guilt and missing my baby so much I won't know what to do with myself, I'm sure I can manage a week. Right?

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

three things i've learnt to be true

Life is incredibly busy at the moment.

I know everyone everywhere always says, "Oh you know, I'm so busy." "I'm just so busy." Oh honey.

But I actually mean it. I'm going to pretty much bet you're not as busy as I am right now.

I have taken on a bunch more things at work - projects are falling from the sky like drones -  and I am just about managing not to drown in the tidal wave of work completely. When I say every hour is accounted for in every day, from the moment I wake up to the moment I lay my head to to rest at night, I am not exaggerating.

"But you have time to write this blog post," you're thinking. "Clearly you're not that busy."
Make no mistake; I have had to account for this, by clearing time in my diary and entitling it, "Personal creative outlet meeting" in my corporate calendar. 

So let's crack on.

Life is one big ball-busting learning curve of fuckery, and now is as good as any other, to realise the following:

I wish I was better in a [medical] crisis

I'm not naturally good in any crisis, if I'm honest. Medical aspect to the side for a minute, I've really had to work at this, especially in my job. It's taken a good few years to approach and manage a crisis situation with cool, calm grace. I have to check myself. Take a deep breath, put down the fire extinguisher and remember that there is other more crazy stuff happening in the world than the seemingly small thing happening in in my world at that moment
It's the part of my job I find challenging and interesting, and it keeps me on my toes.

But I always thought I'd be better in a medical crisis. That I'd down my tools and attend to anyone who needed help with solid, thoughtful dexterity; that I'd be a fucking amazing doctor [had I only had the grades to study medicine.]

The other day, while 8 000 of us were piled all but in each other's armpits on my tube journey to work, a woman, standing within inches of my face, started to fall forward - all in slow motion - and land on me, then kind of slide down, using my body as a human slide.

A normal person would've thought, "Ooh, I should catch her! She's falling/fainting!" No. I stiffened up, leant backwards to avoid her crushing me, all the while thinking, "SHE'S DEAD. OH MY GOD. THERE'S A DEAD WOMAN FALLING ON ME."
I don't know why it's the first thing I thought of, but I, in 0.02 seconds had convinced myself this was a dead person. She looked a bit stiff and her eyes were open, so maybe I wasn't totally bonkers for thinking so. It also took her 5 minutes to come to, after someone had pulled that big red alarm.

"Is there a doctor anywhere?" one lady called, while another simply gave her some water and stroked her hair.

I wanted to be the person who thought quickly to ask if there was a doctor on board and give her water and tend to her like a normal, rational, quick thinking Crisis Manager.

Instead, I burst into tears because I immediately thought she was dead.

So. A few things to deconstruct there....

One has to get out of the city even when you're so busy you can't see beyond the front of your nose
 Actual. Flowers.

We headed to Devon on the weekend to attend a friend's wedding. It was beautiful. So green your eyes literally sting when you look around you. Fresh elderflower grows in wild flowers along the country lanes, and buttercups fill the fields with yellow.
To top it off, the wedding we went to was of a wonderfully informal, hippie nature - with yurts and camp fires, in a field, with the lovely bride running amuck barefoot, children playing, food made by friends, bunting, daisy chains, and I'm sure I saw a ukelele somewhere.
Sebastian was with us during the day, and we got a sitter for him at night.
It was lovely to just get out of London. We stayed on a farm, right on a paddock, in a small wooden hut.
Dreamy, really.
Citizenship really comes down to whether you can buy it/afford it

I officially have Indefinite Leave To Remain in the UK! I was very lucky to have my company foot the hefty bill for this (about £3 000 all in), but the race isn't over yet. Having ILR doesn't really change anything, it just means I can live here forever now.

This is half the race. The prize for me [and South Africans in general] is citizenship, because 1) we get a better sense of belonging in a country we have made home; and 2) Travel is easier because you don't need a visa to visit other places even fart in the direction of Europe, America.

But what immediately strikes me is if I didn't have savings, there is no way I'd be able to afford, once off, to essentially "buy" myself a passport, given the fees. All in, it'll cost me about £2 000 when all is said and done.
And probably the most ridiculous, is the first step: retaining my South African citizenship. It is the only country that insists that you need to apply to stay South African. And before you become the citizen of another country. If you want dual citizenship - which is what most of us want - you need to do a lot of form-filling-in and fannying about, while throwing about a few hundred pounds in the process.

Just yesterday, I had to send a letter to the Home Office to state that I wasn't a British Citizen...in order to become a British Citizen. This is an SA requirement.
And for the privilege, they charge £168.
It all really comes down to whether: you're happy to jump through a mound of pretty meaningless, ridiculous bureaucratic hoops; and kiss goodbye to thousands of pounds.

I'm sure it'll all be worth it in the end, but they intentionally make it fucking difficult on all levels, lemmetellya.

PS: Please donate to our cause, which we will be running for in July!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

please support us

I took a few days off last week.

After the ILR process in Croydon't, (six hours waiting, and I'll kindly list the things I did while waiting, next time,) I wanted a few days to regroup.

During this time, I did some thinking. Inspired by many people who are doing inspiring, tough things to raise awareness about the sad state of the world.

It just seems the logical next step. It came to me suddenly and it was just "Yes. This is something we just have to do."

It would be therapeutic, raise some funds and awareness of something so important to us, keep us fit and healthy, something the Brit and I could do together.

We are doing a marathon *run folks! I run thrice a week, but I'm not very good at it. Running is something that I have always wanted to be good at, but sadly the glass ceiling sits just above my head.

Needless to say, to push beyond our boundaries for a worthy cause, and something I hope would make my Molly and Sebastian proud of me one day, we are going to do the London British 10k in July.

For Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity - who provide support and ongoing research into why babies seem to die, sometimes, for no reason at all. 

I have to hit the training hard now. I tend to dabble a bit on the 4 km point on the treadmill, not managing to go much further, so God knows how I will run through the streets of London, but here we are.

I'm not good at running. And I'm not good at asking for things.

But here I am: I would very very much love it if you could donate to my JustGiving page.

Proceeds, however small, will go such a long way. It's not for me, it's not for my husband. It's for little babies like Molly who died unexpectedly and no one is really sure why.

I will run every step of the way thanking you with every step.

* This is a marathon to me. Make no mistake.
This is a gif to show you how this might end.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

two new things

How weird is this: the Brit is in Johannesburg right now.

Now I know he went there once before without me (then we met, and forever after he has come with me or to me in South Africa), but now that he's taken on a project there, he is flying there a few times this year sans moi.

It's all quite weird. It's not like I am gagging to go right this instant (it's warmer here, from what I hear), and besides, my passport is sitting in the Home Office, but still.

Two new beginnings for me at the moment: Britizenship and a new very special mums group.

Tomorrow I go to Croydon to sit in five different queues to five different little windows, where I take a ticket, and amongst refugees, working people, spouses and everyone else, apply for my Indefinite Leave to Remain. And hope the jobsworth who has been there for 35 years with the chip on his shoulder doesn't give me a hard time.

Getting the paperwork has caused a motherlode of stress (How many times can one person ask one bank for the right bank statements? Thrice. That's how many.)

But I can hardly believe it - I can see my Britizenship. It's the dot that has sat on a five year horizon, which is now suddenly loomingly close. After my trip to the US in June, I will apply for my passport, and if all goes to plan (although, what plan ever has?), I should be a British citizen by August.

Anyway, one has to deal with the bureaucracy, paperwork and cost in chunks, otherwise one might lose their minds, and for now, the next step is sitting in the Home Office for nine hours tomorrow. If I get out early, I will go to the pub and drink a massive glass of wine. Because I took the day off. And I'm sure by then I'll need it.

In other news, I met the most inspiring woman last week. She lost one of her twin boys eight months ago. Hearing her story made me sob endlessly. It's amazing how something like losing a twin can connect you to someone who has been through the same thing, immediately. I know nothing about her life, but for the fact that she has been through hell and back with losing a child that most people seem to forget about.

She has also connected me to a group here in the UK who meet regularly. This is huge. To be able to meet other people who I can tell my story to, speak about Molly, hear their stories, every detail, and know that I am definitely not alone! This is massive. Our pain, grief and situation is so unique - to feel like I actually belong somewhere has been what's missing in my lonely little journey.

South West London is full of [smug - oh, I was one of them once] twin mummies. So to find other mummies nearby who have lost, is really a massive lifeline. There was a time where I belonged to twins groups, and after I lost Molly, my exclusive little clubs fell away. I couldn't belong to it anymore. I wasn't "special" like them anymore.

Now I have a new group where I can belong when I need to talk about my twins.
And they all just get it. I don't know how many people a year on average lose a twin. Maybe 1 in every 100 000 pregnancies? I don't know. But it's hard to find people that have gone through exactly the same thing, and who fight, just like me, to preserve the memory of their lost twin.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

things that didn't happen

A few interesting things have almost happened lately.

Almost. But didn't happen. Or haven't happened yet. I've just been made aware that if they had all happened, they would've shaped my life a little bit further, or set me on a different path or direction than I anticipated.

But here I am. And everything is still the same.

I nearly went to Greenland and Jordan this month.
Greenland.
Jordan.

Two massively interesting places that most people don't go to. Ever. One freezing cold; one boiling hot. Both would've covered the same kind of work project, and I would've pilgrimaged through both of them.

But didn't. Things came up, and schedules got bumped, and shifted around. Then in the middle of it all, I was sent to Madrid. (Which was nice, of course.)

I am on country number 49. And Christ, is it difficult (now with child) to get to my half century. Jordan would've put me there.

Greenland, strictly speaking, wouldn't have. It's a "crown state" of Denmark ( < --- wtf is that anyway?) Going to either of these places would've been completely insane and amazing to see. Such vast, crazy landscapes, both shrouded in mystery. Jordan ever-so-slightly almost dangerous, as it's surrounded by an ISIS hotbed. (er, all the very scary extremist countries.) Greenland, not dangerous in terrorist terms, but perhaps I could've put my leg through an ice cap. Or been eaten by a rabid sleigh dog. Or dry humped by a frisky Eskimo.


I wouldn't have travelled to either of these places on holiday, so going for work might've been the only opportunity I got. And for someone who is trying to go pretty much everywhere, I can't help but feel a little bleak about this.

I am meeting a mum who has also lost a twin, face-to-face for the first time.

While all the forums, groups and other screen-related support channels have been useful and a bit heartbreaking (if I'm honest), meeting an actual mum, here in London, face-to-face, who has also lost a twin is going to be...well, also heartbreaking and helpful.

A mutual mum friend has put us in touch, and having lost on of her twins, we already have so much to talk about and commiserate together. We are going for coffee this week with our survivors in tow.
It'll be good to really see how another person actually copes, what she thinks of day-to-day, how she shapes her thoughts around the whole thing, what her plans are.

I've only ever communicated with others who have lost a twin via email, a group or by phone. So sitting somewhere with someone else who has gone through it too  - well, I can't wait, to be honest.
It's going to be extremely emotional to hear her story. But I know she will also really hear mine.

We have a working garden.

It is a patch of spring, green grass, bordered by thick railway sleepers, and a sandpit craved into the flower beds, for Sebastian.
We spent the whole of Sunday out there, weeding, potting, watering, mowing and digging, while Sebastian played with the wet soil, ate a little, put rocks in his mouth, got grubby and dirty, laughed and crawled everywhere, just exploring.
Watching a child take delight in the outdoors and discover leaves and flowers and crawl around, is absolutely amazing.


 Sebby's sandpit.
We ate out there, had cups of tea and just marvelled in the fact that a garden - however small - really is food for the soul.

It's been a long, arduous slog getting the concrete out, finding more concrete underneath that concrete, then more concrete underneath that concrete, endless digging and raking, bagging the rubble, dragging it away, collecting top soil, then reselling the top soil, making it flat, and laying patches of lawn, fertilising it and watering it so that it would 'take.'

My husband did 90% of the above, and his hard work has really paid off.

Now if it could just be sunny a lot over the next few months, that would be great. I'd really like to make the most of what we have this summer.