Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Angels and Rainbows at Christmas Time - Coping with Loss over the Festive Season

I would like to preface this post with a few statements.

I am Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas, and Chanukah is not overly important to me. This does not mean that this time of year is not hard.

Everyone grieves and remembers their Angels differently and that's okay.

I cannot speak to what others feel; only what I feel. I cannot speak for those who have had miscarriage or stillbirths, but I can empathise with them.

I have lost a parent, grandparents and friends; no loss can compare to the loss of one's baby - it is just not the same. We have no memories to comfort us. This in no way diminishes your loss or your pain - it's not a competition.

This post may be triggering or difficult for some people.

These are my thoughts. They may be wrong, but they are still in my head.

This time of year is one of those seasons where there is a huge focus on families and fun, blessings and gratitude, birth and renewal.

Images of happy families and frolicking children abound and films about joy, redemption and happy endings are everywhere.

Our pain is real

For those dealing with the pain of losing their babies, this time of year holds a special kind of terror and sadness. Regardless of how many other children there are, how much fun is had or how much time has passed, there is always that little piece of heartbreak that can never be healed; that little corner of what could have been that haunts us.

Seeing other people's children or pregnancies can be particularly hard at this time of year and the more time passes, the less compassion others have. They believe that you can just move on and that you should be able to be normal again, so they don't have to feel uncomfortable or deal with your issues.

This is where neonatal loss, stillbirth or late term miscarriage differ from all other kinds of loss - we can never get over it or move on. There is no salve for our hearts. Our rainbow children are beloved beyond measure, but they do not replace our Angels, just like subsequent children do not replace their older siblings. Our pain, regardless of our beliefs or whatever else is happening in the world, looms large at this time of year, simply because of the celebratory kind of vibe going on.

We deal differently

We all handle things differently, and right now is where it shows. 

Some of us may decorate our babies graves, which may seem morbid to the layman, but consider that the first real act of mothering many of us could do for our children was to bury them, and if this is the only thing we can do for our children, we do it with great care.

Some may include their Angels in all their celebrations; hang stockings up for them, buy gifts, which they later donate, or try to find subtle or overt ways of keeping their memory sacred and alive. The last thing we want to do is to make our Angels feel left out or forgotten. It's not crazy. It's love.

If I go a day without thinking of my Angelica, I feel terrible. Since she was born we have lit a pair of candles for her every single night, no matter where we are or what we are doing. (We have been known to forget and wake up in the middle of the night and do it).

Some of us struggle more than others. We don't talk about it but may seem quiet and sad. If we have other children, we try to hide our pain from them, but we know they see it, and we know it spoils things. It's not selfish. It's loss.

For those of us who don't celebrate the holiday, it's all kind of strange. We want to do something to affirm the life that was lost and is missed, but we don't really have a platform for our story. Chanukah isn't really that kind of holiday, at least not for me. At least it's more of a celebration than other holy days that are more serious or sad. 

Maybe I just feel that way because we have no local family and our rainbow is still too little to celebrate with. Having said that, I am really doing okay this year; it isn't as bad as I thought it might be.

The point is, the essence of "the season" is infectious and those who are merely witnesses have to find other ways to express their love and grief, be they of other religions or none, and it can be hard.

Support is a life saver

Support can make a huge difference and it is so important to find some, be it in your "real life" or your virtual one. I went to a grief counsellor (Mr C insisted - he was right because it really helped us both) and attended SANDS meetings at first.

Talking about how you feel and how you are coping is okay and your people should not be afraid of talking about your Angel - tell them it's okay - they don't actually know that. Most people avoid the subject for fear of upsetting the mother. Angel mothers love to know that their Angels are remembered; that people acknowledge that they existed, even if they never had the chance at having a life.

Throughout this time (I refuse to call it a journey), I have had the support of some incredible women I have never met. I belong to a few secret Facebook groups (three actually) for women that have lost their precious little ones (one for those who have lost, one for those who have lost and are expecting a rainbow baby, and one for those who have lost and are raising their rainbow babies). Each one of us is different, from all over the UK mostly, and each one of us has a different experience, outlook and perspective to share. 

These groups have changed my life. They have answered my questions without judgement, lifted me up when I was down, allowed me to support them so I can feel strong, made me feel normal and shared their stories so I do not have to feel alone in my grief, or guilty in my joy.

We honour our children by sharing them and their stories. These groups have given me the community I needed to do that, and in that community, I have found some precious friendships that live just there in that space that to me is so sacred.

We do not expect others to understand our hearts, that is why we have each other. These women are so central to my life now, that I cannot imagine not laughing and crying with them, or even occasionally rolling my eyes at them.

It's okay to be happy. It's okay to be sad

From one day to the next, none of us know how we are going to feel. That is part of living with loss. It is part of our new life that some days we will be okay, and then we see, hear or remember something that will make us feel anger, guilt, anxiety or sadness (or a whole gamut of confusing feelings), a little or a lot.

The one thing I know is that to survive this, we have to be okay with that and deal with each day as it comes. We cannot be hard on ourselves for feeling what we feel. We must be kind to ourselves and show ourselves as much compassion as we hope to receive from others.

Right now, I am in a good place. Other than struggling with sleep, my Rainbow baby has brought light and joy into my life that I never expected to feel again. She is a treasure and although I am still sad, in this house, we talk to and about Angelica all the time and we bless her like we do her sister on every Sabbath. Today I am okay, and that is all I need.

With that, I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas / happy Chanukah (etc.) and a season of kindness and compassion; whatever your beliefs. May you find warmth and support for a good New Year.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Nappies and Wipes and Creams, Oh My!

For something that was never even in my consciousness before having a baby, the subject of nappy changing accoutrements has taken up residence, along with friends feeding, bathing and sleeping, in the centre of my thoughts and occasional dreams.

We fight an endless, epic battle against blow-outs and nappy rashes in an effort to keep our younglings cooing merrily and comfortably.

When it comes to changing nappies, every mother's quest is to find the ultimate nappy/wipe/cream combination and pair it with the perfect technique for their  baby's bum, wrestling with such questions as do I use talcum powder and risk Cancer (I think this is nonsense by the way)? Do I apply barrier cream at every change or only when rashes are imminent? Do I give the little toosh a warm water wash every time I see a poo? (While we spend some time analysing and agonising over poo colour, texture and frequency, I will not go there in this post.)

My journey began at the baby show where I received free samples of nappies and wipes. While I am still unsure of our nappy choice, This sampling led me to a wipes pack that I would not have otherwise encountered.

We use Aldi's Mamia wipes and have a healthy store of backup packs to boot. This is mainly because we never otherwise shop at Aldi and do not have one local to us. 

We started out with Water Wipes, and although they are very nice, they did nothing to soothe a rashy tooshy. So I delved into the sample cupboard and tied a few options. When I got to the Mamia wipes, I hit paydirt as I saw a massive difference after just one nappy change. I did try the other things we had samples of but have no been that impressed.

When it comes to nappies, it's not that simple. We haven't really seen much difference between Pampers (we really like the product, the price; not so much) and supermarket brands. We currently use Mamia, which I find adequate, despite recent upwards and sideways blow-outs. (I am tracking this and if it continues beyond this week, we will be investigating alternatives.)

Our collection of nappy creams is a bit democratic. Basically, I've found that no one cream does it all so we use a bit of a mix, alternating between Bepanthen, Metanium, Sudocrem and a tube of Aloe Vera Gel. Surprisingly, I don't really over-think this part as  I have found that the randomness and mix of products works best. Also, when she is borderline, rashy, I do use talcum powder to make sure she is super-dry before applying creams (I wipe it off with a flannel so there is no residue).

In terms of texture, each cream is different. Bepanthen has a greasy cream texture and slides on rather well, becoming translucent on the bum. Metanium is very thick, dry and chalky like that colourful zinc stuff you put on your nose, it coats the skin and remains yellow. Sudocrem has a an almost whipped texture. It is hard in its jar but applies smoothly and softens on the skin. 

There are a couple of Hero Products that deserve a mention here. They are not changing items, but they make the experience much smoother. 

The Manhattan Toy Wimmer - Ferguson Double - Feature Mirror

And the Baby Shapes 4 Books and Mobile Set, which Liora loves. We put the mobile together and attached it to the changing station so it hangs above her head keeps her fascinated.

What are your go-to, hero products for nappy changing?

Please comment below. I may give them a go.

Oh, and another thing: We use one of those plastic changing mats with inflatable sides, covered by a terry cloth cover so it's not so cold for her. We discovered, very quickly, that if we wanted to avoid washing the covers daily due to contamination, we would have to find a solution, so we always have a disposable changing mat over the top (or, rather, Pound Store disposable bed mats). We fold it in half and change it when accidents occur.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Our Baby Setup

By way of introduction into some posts that will follow, I want to share with you the basics of our setup for baby Liora.

In our home, the living space is downstairs and the bedrooms are upstairs. As we live in the UK, this basic principle is unlikely to change as most houses follow this arrangement.

As I may or may not have mentioned before, our bathroom is downstairs and has no tub; not the most convenient arrangement, but not the end of the world by a far stretch.

Liora has her own room, in which she does not yet sleep . In her room is a cot-bed bought for £60 from a charity shop (new mattress bought at Mothercare), a Brimnes chest of drawers from Ikea, a Hensvik changing table from the same and a cupboard that covers one whole side of the room. (Apparently the landlord had a lot of clothes). There is decor and stuff, but due to one thing and another, it isn't finished, and at three-months of age, she doesn't care, so it's not a priority.

Almost all the changing stations we saw when we were baby shopping were side-facing, which we believed would be awkward to change baby. So we opted for the front-facing changing station that turns into a bookshelf. I have since discovered, having changed the baby in public changing places, that is isn't always awkward and can actually be quite good because you do not constantly stand in your own light.

HENSVIK from Ikea

Don't get me wrong, I like our changing table, but an elbow height dresser with a changing mat on top would have done the trick in a pinch, even though there are some advantages to our layout.

She sleeps in our room with us. Sleep is an issue. I will talk about it. Not today.
She had a Moses basket, which, frankly, I am still not sure about. We resisted buying one for the first month or so; Mr C built a unit that would go next to the bed to but the pram bassinet onto and lock it in place.

She refused to sleep in it, so out of desperation, we bought the Moses basket. She hates it too (she has no problem lying in it if I am right there and she isn't sleepy / being made to sleep. If she is there to play with her toys, she is happy; once sleep comes into the equation, it's a no no. Strange but true) . She only likes to sleep on us. I am working on this. Moving on.

Downstairs, we have a bouncer; not a fancy one that can teach her the classical harp, a simple one from Argos that is bouncy with a button for vibrating and one for music. She loves this. It puts her right to sleep.

We have a travel cot from Mothercare that we occasionally use and we have her Babyzen pram. It is incredible and we love it. We do not use the seat thing yet; just the above-mentioned bassinet that she will now happily sleep in (go figure) and her Recaro Young Profi Plus car seat.

We have one of those playgym things with the criss-cross bars arching over. She doesn't play with it much yet. It is a simple one from Argos as we didn't want to buy an expensive one in case she hated it. she is interested in the thing but the mat is quite thin so I don't bring it out too often. She does most of her tummy time on our bed, or on us.

We bath her in a Mothercare baby bath or use a top and tail bowl with plain hot water and a flannel (face cloth / gant de toilette). We wash her while she is on her changing station. The water in the bowl may be hot, but by the time the cloth touches her skin it is barely warm, 

That's basically it, really. Not much more to tell, unless I go into brain-numbing detail. 

Liora, who is currently lying in her crib, is tired and therefore starting to fuss. 

Please leave a comment to let me know you've stopped by. I would love to hear from you.


Monday, 30 November 2015

I am More than One Thing

Now that Baby is here, I find myself completely focused on her and her needs. This is normal, natural and I have no problem with it at all.

It is a lovely, wonderful thing, lack of sleep not withstanding.

The thing is, now that baby is a little older and sleeping a little longer, I am suddenly inspired to write, mainly about baby stuff. But I don't want to give up on the beauty and skincare thing. I still love that too.

So, even though I was contemplating changing the focus of this blog, I gave the idea a moment's thought and decided not to, and rather grow the focus. As I have grown, so shall the blog. As I can be more than one thing, so can the blog.

Having said all that, my skin has taken a serious back seat lately and an even more serious beating.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing and I wouldn't change it for anything, but it does require conscientious hydration. If you don't drink enough water, your skin will become dull, dry and Itchy. All. Over!

I am terrible at drinking enough water as it is and while I was super good when we first started, once we got used to it, and the weather got colder, my drinking habits have really taken a nosedive.

It also does not help that my routine is out the window. I am still trying to get to the place where showering every day is a possibility, so forget about morning and night skincare routine.

Fear not! I will redouble my efforts and drink more (or so I tell myself regularly), while I look fondly set my face mask in the vain hope that I will find a gap to use it.

When it comes to makeup, I have some really nice things to try, including an Urban Decay palette, but when your skin feels crap and you don't really go anywhere... You get the idea. (I do want to go on a lipstick binge soon and haul some. So pass on some recommendations!)

Don't even ask me about hair and nails. I stopped painting my nails when I got pregnant and have not done them since. No drinking also means dry, brittle nails so they remain short ( plus I don't want to scratch the baby). When they look better, they will be treated better. (hair is another story.)

So although I will be writing about beauty stuff, I have little in the way of good news to report right now.

I am tempted to try all the body products I have and never use, now that I come to think of it. Let's see how we go.

I'll keep you posted.

See ya.

Parenting is Scary

Parenting, I thought, would be a sinch.

Surely it can't be that complicated. I mean, it's been done billions of times.

At the end of the day, it isn't complicated; it is simply the most terrifying experience of my life.

From the moment I knew my girl was there, I feared for her. Having lost her sister, I knew that her pregnancy would be full of anxiety. Little did I know that my levels of fear were amateurish in comparison with what was to come.

Don't get me wrong, I am figuring this parenting thing out and I am trying not to be too judgemental at myself, but I am not good with failure and I thought this would be a little more straight forward. I did after all help a lot with my brother when he was born.

They say it will be different with your own, but you never quite believe it until you spend the whole night awake, while she is happily sleeping away, just because you are terrified of losing her to SIDS or any other of the myriad horrors that can take one's precious infant away.

I try to be level headed, but when my little rainbow cries she looks so terribly sad, that I spend much of my time ensuring that she is happy and contented, while trying to figure out this whole mystical routine everyone keeps banging on about.

I am trying to get her to sleep in her own bed (or just sleep). I am currently trying a combination of either a swaddleme or a growbag. Both have their advantages and challenges, mainly that she isn't a huge fan of either, but I need to keep her warm and out of trouble. This baby flails around like an Olympic backstroke swimmer, kicking off blankets and freaking herself out in the process. I can only swaddle her once she is asleep, or she fights it. Once she is alseep and in it, she is calm and warm and it's all okay.

On top of the physical issues, there are all those pesky psychological concerns; I do not want to raise her to be a bully or spoiled or a homicidal maniac. Neither do I want her to be an introverted, anxious, door mat.

I do not spend all my time overthinking like this.

I spend my time feeding, changing and trying to figure out when and how often to do what, like bathing or play / tummy time, especially in this next phase of my daughter's life (She is now 3 months old).

It was easy when all she did was eat and sleep, but now, she spends more time awake and in need of stimulation and entertainment.

This is where I worry about doing the right thing and keeping her mind occupied and growing along with her body.

I love my kid and I want her to be happy and well cared for. I just hope I am doing everything I can to get her that, and not leaving anything out. (I have already missed out on getting her hand and feet prints and getting her those cute milestone cards for photos - and those are just the things I am aware of).

What are your fears?
What are the things you always try and do or remember?

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Big Ideas and Failed Plans

During my pregnancy, I had the bright idea to take pictures daily to document my growth.

With this, that and the next thing, (mostly being tired, feeling unwell and forgetting) there are many missed days - Many. but I do believe that, while I doubt I will be able to make one of those cool age progression videos, I have enough to document the pregnancy well.

I also have a nice amount of scans as we got pictures every two weeks or so.

I also wanted to do the daily picture of baby but so far, I have not remembered to do it. I mean, I have taken a bunch of photos, but just quick snaps on my phone, rather than doing it properly.

Once all the family has gone home, I will probably start on the project. I don't feel that losing two months is an overwhelming crisis.

I wrote this last year and the baby will be 10 months old this week. Talk about failed plans. It seems that for someone as disorganised as me, life just gets on top of you and you never get things done.

The daily pics never happened. The milestone pics never happened. The hand prints never happened. We managed some 6 - 7 month foot prints. I recommend doing these in the first week when babies sleep a lot and don't wriggle too much. I'm not exactly sure what to do now...

I will get there. I live in hope or is it denial.
Keeping up with house work is tough but that has less to do with baby and more to do with me.

Since I last blogged, we have moved out of the awful nightmare house into a nice and cozy house with no damp.

Unpacking and organising is a bit tough when your space is limited, but we are nearly there. We are making this space a home like we couldn't with the last one.

I am still adamant that I will make some youtube videos, but I have to figure out what and how to do it with little miss mover and shaker wanting to touch all of creation and put it in her mouth. Every time I set up the tripod she's like Cool something to stand against... Oh no wait, it's moving.

Her sleep routine is improving and we are getting away from her napping on me for hours so we may eventually be able to get somewhere during baby naps.

Don't get me wrong. She is the most incredible human and the absolute love of my life so all this other stuff is just white noise. As long as she is happy I don't really care about anything else. (Deep down, that is - on the surface, I suffer from daily , almost paralyzing anxiety, which irritates me no-end)

I just had a little moment at 2 am to do a quick update on my phone, so no pics and if there are typos, that is the reason.

I am going to attempt some sleep now.
Good night.

Also, kidney stone removal op yesterday. Pain levels today 6-8. Not fun. Paracetamol and codeine help, even the little doses I take that will let me continue breastfeeding.

That is all.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

My Pregnancy and Birth Story Overview

Two months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl by caesarean section.

This is her story.

The loss of Angelica, her older sister, devastated me beyond measure. 
I was finished. 
I was a mother yet not a mother. 
I had a baby yet could hold none. 
My heart was full of the most bitter pain. Sometimes it was hard to breathe.

As I slowly managed to emerge from the fog of my loss, I felt a desperate need to have another baby; hopefully one I could take home.

We found out we were pregnant on Christmas eve. Mr C was standing in a South African shop when I called him. I was still in the toilet; hands shaking and tears welling, I made the call and he nust melted in tears of joy.

Thus began a journey that would test us and force us to face our worst fears, our guilt and our nerves.

Pregnancy after loss is a minefield of complex emotions and is no easy feat.

Every twinge is catastrophic, every silence spells doom. 

And that's on top of all the fears about what may go wrong in labour or after baby comes and things like will I be able to bond or will it be too hard. Will she look too much like her sister or not enough, plus all the normal inadequacy fears of parenting that crop up out of nowhere.

We became pseudo-celebrities and regular fixtures at our antenatal ward and were recognised by a&e staff, who, by the way, were incredible, compassionate and professional.

We had specialised ultrasound scans every other week and I was admitted twice; the first time, I was in for four days and was given steroid injections which hurt like hell! (and I know what I am talking about - after you've had a 1cm diameter kidney stone and lower back surgery, you know what serious pain feels like. And yes a kidney stone can be worse than a contraction). The second time was right at the end, for 6 days.

Our vigilance paid of and our paranoia was appeased because despite my constant pain and fears of reduced movement, our little rainbow baby  was born healthy.

This time around, my morning sickness was not nearly as severe as with my first and, thankfully, I did not get a super boost to my sense of smell. I did get anaemia, heartburn, constant belly and ligament pain, tiredness, the most terrible stretch marks ( they coveredmy entire belly), a serious sweet tooth, late stage swelling, but no awesome hair and nails (which I was rather looking forward to). I tracked all of these in a symptom diary, which I eventually stopped.using when all the entries started saying the same thing.

Some people have lovely happy pregnancies.

Mine was scary and stressful. Every day, if I couldn't feel her, I was convinced that my precious little baby was dead.

Despite my anaemia, scans always showed a healthy little girl, and anterior placenta and slightly elevated fluid levels. She was scanned as having an abdominal cicumference in the 95th percentile, which towards the end, made them give me a second glucose tolerance test. I tested positive for late onset gestational diabetes. I was regulating through diet for a week and going in to hospital for daily monitoring. What a way to spend you last week of pregnancy.

Eventually I was admitted - for the final three days as my pain was getting unreasonable.
I really wanted a natural birth and a fought hard to get it. But, in the end caution won the day.

You see, I am not an easy patient. At 39 weeks, my lovely little one was head down but not engaged; my cervix was unfavourable and I had developed polyhydraminos at the end of my pregnancy. This means that my fluid levels were abnormally high. The risk is that if waters break, the cord could sneak out first and place baby's life at risk, which would require an emergency c-section.

This is where it gets tricky. Usually they give you an epidural (for pain relief in normal or section delivery). In my case, they can't. I have titanium screws in my spine from a previous back surgery and my anatomy is distorted so they can't feel gaps where thwy need to insert the needle.

No worries... Worst case, they can give me a general anaesthetic. Wait, no they can't - the anaesthetic given in such circumstances contains an enzyme that my sister is allergic to. I could not get tested because results are distorted due to pregnancy hormones.
So basically, when it comes to a anaesthetics, I have special needs.

Scans and doctors predicted that I would have a gigantor baby of at least 4.5 kg. That, combined with the diabetes meant they would induce a week early.

With induction comes a certain degree of risk. In my case, a higher degree. Induction isn't always smooth sailing and doctors were concerned that if my waters broke in the middle of the night and the cord came out first, there would be trouble and an emergency section was risky. I needed a spinal and they can be tricky (night staff is junior) and my consultant said it would be safer to have a senior consultant do the spinal in a calm, relaxed, planned section.

So eventually, I relented. My heart was sore over it, but my body was not overly phased.
There are pros and cons to each labour experience and to the aftermath of each, but I made my peace with it and got a perfect, healthy daughter who, I might add, turned out to be normal sized at 3.5kg and has remained at the 50th percentile ever since. In fact, Mothercare newborn size was too big. We had to buy tiny baby. We did this when she was a week old cos none of her clothes fit.

Everyone always says buy a bigger size because it lasts longer. It doesn't. It just stays in the cupboard longer. Bigger clothes meant she was uncomfortable and she kept getting her little legs trapped in the body section of her sleep suits. Get clothes that fit and that your baby won't disappear in. Plus when they grow, you will be able to accurately remember how truly tiny they were.

After a couple of days, we got to go home and so began this amazing and sleepless adventure of love and madness.

We, Mr C and I, are basically alone here in the UK, and even if we weren't, there are not many people who would understand our journey. My lifeline was my secret Facebook group. All its members had lost and were either pregnant or had babies. We shared fears and syptoms, jokes and stories and while we had never met, we had this amazing bond of fear and hope.  I do not believe I would have coped without them. They made me feel validated and normal. They picked ne up when I was low and I hope I was able to do the same for them.

Pregnancy after loss is unimaginably hard, but so worth it. I love my little rainbow. She has brough love and light back into my heart.
I miss Angelica every day and still light her candles, but her sister is helping my heart mend just a little.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

I Had a Secret and it is Out Now!


Long time no see!

This time, my excuse is totally legitimate.

Basically, I cannot keep a secret and I was totally preoccupied by a really big one; one that was growing day by day, and inevitably difficult to hide.

Although committed stalkers would have figured it out (I was not overly cautious on Twitter or YouTube), the casual social media connection would have been completely oblivious to the not-so-simple fact that I was pregnant. (I diligently avoided being in photos and made no mention of my condition on Facebook ).


My daughter, born on 26 August 2015, five days after I turned 38, is the most precious, perfect little thing.

newborn baby

The pregnancy was very stressful and frightening, with so many feelings that I could not keep things straight. That, coupled  with newborn sleep loss are the main reasons for my absence.

Welcome! My perfect, precious little lady!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Getting into the Groove

It's been almost a month since my last post and the house is still not finished.

It's nearly there, though. Mr C spends a great deal of his "spare time" fixing things and sorting out little bits.

The garden has been improved dramatically. We did a massive chop and clear out a few weeks back and it looks far more open and bright now. The grass doesn't grow though, which is odd. I'm not complaining mind you, no growth no mowing.

I planted a few store bought herbs in the flower beds - Lavender, Rosemary, Parsley, Basil and Mint.
I am not a gardener so we will see if they die or not...

The pets are adjusting as well as could be expected considering they don't get along.

The lounge is now kind of done.

The downstairs wall still needs to sanded and painted white, and hopefully the handy man guy will come collect the broken dishwasher today - So that's more than 2 months without a dishwasher - first-world problems, I know.

It's slowly coming together, even though I still keep finding new and interesting ways this house has not been looked after or cleaned. I don't think I will ever mange to get this house 100% as clean as I want.

The next house I move into will have to be sparkling and spotless. I kid you not. or there will be hell to pay.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Mr C and his Big Adventure

Mr C went to South Africa last week.

He went for one week.
His parents were moving from JHB to Cape Town and his mum had never moved so far in her life.
She was taking a lot of strain and her stress was really upsetting him.

He is a really good son and a really kind person, so he decided, he wasn't going to let his mother suffer. He booked a flight and off he went to save the day.

And save the day, he did.

Naturally his mum tried to feed him constantly, between nagging him repeatedly and generally driving him nuts, although with great quantities of love and gratitude. He took it in his stride because he could see she was on the verge of a mini-meltdown.

Between them, they got everything done and ready for the movers, and Ma and Pa C are now hopefully enjoying the sun and the beach in the fairest Cape.

It wasn't all work for Mr C, though. He did manage to see some of our old friends and to spend some time with my mum and brother.

Driving around JHB was not a very happy experience for my husband. The state of the city would apparently make me sad. With power cuts and potholes, crime and disrepair, it is not an easy place to live. The people are still warm and friendly, the weather is still idyllic; It's just a pity about the management.

Despite this, he also got to do a little bit of shopping, when the shopping centre had electricity (he went with an empty suitcase), including buying me the most beautiful cashmere pashmina I have ever seen. Nice and warm for UK winter. So soft and lovely. I can't wait to wear it. Mr C has incredible taste (which is a problem because I generally try to force him to go shopping with me and he hates it).

The week without my sweety pie was not easy. It was also not the end of the world. We Skyped and Whatsapped every day, which makes one appreciate technology so much.

I missed him very much and I am very glad he is home.

He isn't allowed to go away again for a while. Mr C has a very clingy wife.

FYI - I really like my mother in law - I am one of the lucky ones who scored with a nice husband and a lovely mother in law.

I will definitely show you the beautiful exquisite blanket Ma C knitted. Oh my goodness! I have never seen anything like it. She even chose the colours based on the palate I like. Plus she sent me her boy back in one piece - tired, but whole.

Thanks Ma! *hugs n' kisses*

That's all for now.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Time Flies and a Giant House Moan

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I have even thought about this blog.

I really want to keep it going and not give up on it and I do feel guilty when I neglect it for so long.

There has just been so much going on that it simply falls by the wayside.

We had Pugsleigh spayed a few weeks ago and that, coupled with the move and changes in our lives has sent her into a bit of a behavioural tail spin. She is not being a total terror, bu she seems very hyper/anxious and does not listen too well. She also is not eating like she used to.

The very is not concerned about it so neither am I. It is just a bit annoying. I am currently working on trying to get her to be calm and to listen when I call her or tell her to leave the cat (or the stones/leaves/twigs/snail shells/anything remotely chewable in the garden) alone.

I worry that she is bored, so she has too many toys. I try to take her for walks regularly (we live by a park) and that works well but the weather is not always accommodating.

The cat has been out in the garden twice (with a harness and lead, poor thing) as I am still afraid that something will happen to her. She is not a fool, but we now live on a main road and the drivers are selfish and inattentive so she is housebound and unhappy about it. We have had a few vomiting incidents to drive the point home. To her dismay, these have had no effect whatsoever.

The house is still not ready. It has been so difficult; I cannot actually express the revulsion and frustration of trying to get this place cleaned to a liveable standard.

I cannot believe the estate agent chalked it up to the owner being a first time landlord. I also do not believe for one iota of a second that they had professional cleaners in, let alone twice, as they claim.

When we moved in, there were those obnoxious air freshener things all over the place and it took a few weeks to get rid of the sickly smell. To be honest, that should have been our first clue.

I don't think the owner of our home has ever cleaned his house at all. Everywhere just grime. The washing machine was so full of grime and slime, I burst into tears!

Slowly, but surely, I have managed to resolve the dirt issues I have found. The only problem is that I keep finding new ones.

The latest little gem is that the kitchen skylight leaks really badly and the kitchen sink has gunk in it so it doesn't drain well. Oh, and the dishwasher doesn't work. Awesome!

We still need to paint the black walls and I still need to come to terms with the black carpet. I am starting to think that wearing shoes on the stairs will soon cease to be an option - it's a drst trap like I've never seen.

Over all the house is not that bad and I quite like it, despite everything. It's homey and just the right size to make it comfy.

We have spent an insane amount of money at Ikea lately, but I am more than happy with the pieces we have bought.

I doubt I will do a house tour because I can never manage to get the low level clutter totally under control; there always seems to be a corner in each room where things just accumulate.

Just so you know, I am not a clean/neat freak, Just sayin'...

House winge over!

See ya!

Monday, 27 April 2015

I've Been Away - We Moved

The past few months have been filled with mixed emotions for me and I have tried to adapt to my life as it is now and get back into a more positive routine, especially when it comes to my skincare, which is what brought me to the blogging world in the first place. This has been very hard and I have struggled to cope with it all. My low moods and emotional struggles have left me with dry, wrinkly skin and extra weight that I really do not need.

I have also been physically unwell recently, so blogging and stuff was the last thing on my mind. I have, however, been reading blogs and watching YouTube videos, and one thing that I have noticed recently is a definite shift in my interests. Certain YouTubers no longer seem to hold my interests. Their interactions seem contrived and set up. A few still feel genuine, but many of the younger, more successful ones appear to lack depth and have lost much of their lustre.

 I have changed more than you can imagine and I don't think I want to go back. My grief has changed me and that is who I am now.

This month, we moved house again. We moved just down the road to a slightly smaller place with a better layout (mostly - except for the bathroom which is down stairs and has no tub)

The house we have moved into was quite dirty and has black floors, black carpets, a black kitchen and some of the walls are black too, We have been given permission to repaint them white, which we will get to soon, I hope. We've been in for two weeks and I am still cleaning.

The furniture the land lord left behind (2 sofas, a table - currently used as a desk, and a bed, which we have dismantled and put in the loft) is black too.

Last year we moved across London to an unfurnished house after having stayed in a furnished place. As funds and time seemed limited, we bought many items from the local charity shops.

When we moved again, we redonated many of those items and decided to upgrade some of our things to more suitable choices.

Here is where I confess to joining the dark side - we shopped at Ikea. We do not enjoy the maze that is Ikea, so we generally choose online and inspect in person while seeking out all possible shortcuts and the fastest way out.

We have been twice in as many weeks. Once during the week, which was not too bad, and then (stupid us) on a Sunday afternoon. You read correctly. We went to Ikea on a Sunday afternoon. Never Again!

Okay, it was not that bad, but it was really irritating - very busy and full of selfish oblivious people who think you are invisible.

We bought a book shelf for our home office, a desk for me and some of that funky square shelving for the lounge (plus a few little odds and ends).

I love our new stuff. It is so pretty and sleek and grown up.

I especially love my desk. A lot. It's perfect.

Thank you Mr C for putting it together already so I can set up my stuff and for being so super fantastically awesome throughout this move and this month!

I love you the mostest!

When the house is ready and done, I may let you see it ...

For now, Good night all.

I've Been Away - My Baby's Birthday Update

Hello again!

I've been away for two whole months and I did miss this.

I have been struggling and bit and having a hard time with things lately.

As we approached Angelica's 1st birthday, things got really hard, but we have survived that incredibly sad day.

We went to visit her grave - something we do not do very often. We connect with our daughter in a different way. Some people connect at the cemetery, but we have a special nightly ritual where we light candles for her and have a chat before bed, every night. We also buy her flowers on a weekly basis (depending on the longevity of the flowers) so their is always a pretty bouquet for her.

For her birthday, we got her a beautiful bouquet of South African flowers, including Proteas, from Tesco. It seemed fitting and is lasting pretty well. We also bought her a Rose scented candle, which we burned over night as well as a couple of fairy/angel figurines. (one to keep here and one for her grave.)

I did try to organise her stone, but when we found out it would not be ready for her birthday, it took a lot of the pressure off, so now we are just making sure we get the exact design etc that we want. I must say, choosing wording for your baby's grave is not easy. Nothing seems to work.

In fact, this whole thing is just crazy. I cannot tell you how heartbreaking it is to be planning a gravestone for your child's 1st birthday, rather than planing a party.

To commemorate our little Angelica, we invited our family and friends from around the world to send us little stones from where they lived with their names and locations written or painted on them. Jewish people, traditionally, do not put flowers at graves; they place stones and pebbles, so we thought it would be nice to have some from all over the world.

I do admit that I was surprised by certain people who did participate. I was also surprised by certain people who did not.

Right now, we are collecting them and displaying them at home. When Angelica's stone is ready, we will weather proof those than need it and put hem there.

I think I will end this blog post here and continue my update on another post.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Nothing Update

Today, I just felt like blogging.

There isn't anything earth shattering that I need or want to share, but I had an urge to update you.

The weather is getting better sunnier and warmer. (Not by much, but every degree counts.) I am still using my electric fan heater from time to time though, so inevitably my skin is very dry and my hair is equally dry and static.

I tried out my new GHD and it worked really well, but to get things done around the house, straight, static hair that gets everywhere is not practical; in fact it was downright irritating, so up it went. I do look forward to playing around with hair stuff and my GHD some more. It was refreshingly easy and quick.

I have also tried on the Clarins lipsticks that I bought. It did not occur to me when I swatched them to smell them. Oh my goodness. Just to give you a heads up - They smell divine. The nicest smelling lipstick I have ever owned. Well done Clarins.

The pets are really enjoying the above freezing temperatures and are being super-cute (and super naughty). Can someone please tell me how to get muddy puppy foot prints out of a cream couch. I washed it in the machine and nothing. We will most likely replace the covers soon, but it looks awful. I washed them this week and I put the base back yesterday. This morning I took the dog out for her pee and in she ran and made footprints on the tiny little spot that was not covered by blankets. I was not a happy mummy.


I am planning more YouTube videos. I have a few ideas, but if there is something you want to see, please feel free to ask me.

There's not much more to tell really.
So see ya.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Professional Beauty YouTube Haul Video

So I have joined the world of YouTube.
Well, sort of.

A few weeks ago, I made a video before the epic haircut.

This weekend, I went to the Professional Beauty show at the excel in London. I didn't vlog it, but I did a little haul video.
It's quite chatty and long, and took me HOURS to film. I am learning a lot about the process so I am not being too perfectionist about the whole thing.

I left out a few things that I got in the interest of time but it is still 15 minutes long, so be warned.

So far, all I can say is the key for me is preparation (not my strong suit) and patience (haha).
Blogging is so much easier!

Anyway... here it is:

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

My New Hair Courtesy of Vanilla Hair Studio


I got a haircut this weekend.

I did not plan it. Well that's a half-truth; I have been toying with the idea of cutting my hair for a while. It's lovely but I am not coping with it right now and just wanted to get rid of the hassle of it.

This weekend was it. I was not going to fight with my hair a moment longer. I called Vanilla Hair Studio in Borehamwood and made an appointment for that day. They had a cancellation. I got lucky.

That's my MO. If I can get an appointment, it's meant to be if not, I try again another time. I almost never make advance appointments. Weird. I know.

They were very nice and offered me a hot beverage. It was very cold outside.

Everyone was watching because I had explained over the phone that my hair was super long and that it was coming all off. I made quite a buzz I think. I confess, I did enjoy the attention a lot.

The stylist suggested that since I had Virgin hair (no artificial colour)  and it was al coming off anyway, why not donate it to a Cancer charity. So I said yes. I have no idea where my hair went or anything, but I don't care. It's not about the recognition or kudos, it's about the gesture. Someone, maybe two people will benefit from something that will grow back before I know it. I will definitely do it again. My hair grows reasonably fast and is a renewable resource, so why not.

I had considered this option a few years ago, and had done some research, but had not found an easy and convenient way to do it, so it did not even occur tome to ask. In, fact, I had totally forgotten about the idea at all, so I was very pleased when it was recommended.

If you are cutting a lot off, always ask about donation!

She plaited my hair and snip. Gone. It was shorter than I had planned. Instead of being distraught, I felt liberated. Free to let the stylist do whatever she wanted as long as it suited by face. Those were her instructions.

She did a fabulous job and I looked great. It really suits me. (although I have yet to see how it looks curly - I can straighten it - it's short enough to take very little time.)

My hair has not been this short in more than 15 years.

I really like it.

What do you think?

I went from this (hair down to my bum):

Cut off this:

To get this! 


Thanks to the guys at Vanilla Hair Studio!
You guys were super awesome!!

ps. Just to give you an idea, Last year, in July, I went to Vanilla and got my hair done and it was this long:

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Re-evaluating Life

There comes a time when you have to have a look at yourself and your blog and decide what you are going to do with it.

For me, these moments are generally spontaneous and have no concrete thought behind them.

I have not, I must confess, been overly successful in my resolutions, but it's a process and I will get there. I reckon if I can say, by the end of this year, that I am better off than when I started, it's a win.

The last month has been a tough one for me. I have been in a bit of an emotional roller-coaster and have not been feeling to well. Therefore, I have not had the energy or desire to do any blogging. (Also cooking and cleaning and looking after my skin, my health or anything else for that matter.)

That is basically why I haven't done any (blogging that is) - No excuses, no apologies. That's life.

But really, what do I want out of this blog?

I do like my skincare and beauty bits, but I do not buy or try out that much so there honestly isn't enough to really talk about a few times a week.

At one point, I started thinking about the blog more commercially,  but then, I don't know, that's not exactly what I want, to be honest.

I think, even though I can't (and don't really want to) share all the details of my rather boring life, I do want this blog to be more of a personal one. A blog about my life, rather than my skincare.

So that's settled then. I will just write randomly about stuff that I find interesting.
It could be about a YouTube channel I like or a website, shop, restaurant or whatever. I like that. It makes more sense to me that way.

I hope you agree.

Let's see what happens.

Have a good week.


Friday, 9 January 2015

My Foray into Hydraluron

I have been using serums for a while now and I quite enjoy the oils I use as well. I have a few to choose from and they do work quite well.

This year, the Winter has taken a serious toll on my skin and I am very dry and dehydrated. My skin looks dull and the texture is rough and all just bleh.

Part of the reason is that in the last few weeks, I have been feeling quite down and under the weather. This means that I have not been overly kind to my skin.

I am not getting any younger and there is no time to mess around. So, I decided to take some advice from all the skin loving people out there, including Mrs Hirons, and get myself a tube of Hyluronic Acid to help with the moisture issue. Apparently it can attract 1,000 times its weight in water.

I was surprised, when I finally went and bought the stuff from Boots, that it was £16.66, instead of the regular £24.99. I did, however, buy it with points so it was like a gift to myself.

I am very excited to finally add this little gem to my collection and look forward to trying it out and finding our for myself if it lives up to the hype!

I will let you know.

Have you tried it?
How do you rate it?

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Skin Pep Brightening Enzyme & Acid Peel Review

Last year, I decided to try out this whole beauty box story, and although the boxes themselves have been quite handy for storage (go figure), I was not entirely impressed with my little experiment.

The box I went with was a three-month Glossy Box subscription. I don't think I've really tried any of the stuff I got, so I decided it was time to get on with it and give one of the skincare samples a whirl. 

The September Glossy Box (my last one) included some peels from Skin Pep.

I decided to try one last night.

It did not blow my mind. In fact, I don't think I saw a difference, but that's just me.

The inci list is quite impressive, with peptides Glycolic and Lactic acids, vitamin C and enzymes, fruit extracts and other nice things, so I don't think it did any harm.

It didn't feel bad, but my skin has been very dull and unhappy lately, so I was hoping for a bit more zing and pop. I mean it does say it's a brightening peel.

The Skin Pep Brightening Enzyme & Acid Peel has a gel texture with a mild aroma which I can't describe but is not offensive and I would say pleasant.

The 3.5ml sachet is plenty for a face application, which you massage into your face to remove dead skin and then leave for a few minutes. The product dries and you can wet your face to reactivate it. Then you wipe it off. There is no peeling per se. It felt like a mask to me.

I was a bit apprehensive to try it because of the hardcore nature of the product implied by the packaging. I was more than a little disappointed that it appeared to do nothing at all.

I did not feel any difference. If anything, it was a bit drying for me, but that may be because I left it on for the "deeper peeling" time. If you have oily skin it may be what you're after. It's just not for me.

I have another sachet, but I doubt that I will see any miracles, so it's probably best to avoid it.

Verdict: Meh...

What are your favourite masks, peels and treatments?

I'm quite keen to explore!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

Hello All the people!

It's the first day of 2015! Yay

I just wanted to pop in and say Happy New Year to everyone.

Everyone had a different 2014, but for me, it was one of my worst years,if not The worst year.

Mr C and I have suffered a lot and done a lot of crying and mourning and healing. We are now in a better emotional place (subject to bad days), but the year has taken its toll.

We have made some changes recently and are looking forward to a better year in 2015. Mr C will be joining me at Weight Watchers next week and I hope to embark on an exercise regime and get my health back in check.

Mr C will also be having some knee surgery done in late Jan so we hope that will help his pain.

In general, do not like resolutions. I think that you shouldn't need a New Year to commit to something just like you should not need Valentine's day to express your feelings to those you love.

Having said that, A New Year is as good a time as any to turn a corner, take a step forward or even re-affirm your commitment to something, so, with that in mind, I will do what Mr C says I do best - State the blatantly obvious. These are my little resolutions for this year. They are not mind-blowing. They are, for the most part, blatantly obvious.

In 2015,
  1. I will continue to remember and honour my beloved child; I will mourn her loss while I learn to live in the world and find some happiness and some peace.
  2. I will be kind to myself and show myself compassion.
  3. I will take better care of myself and my health.
  4. I will continue my weight-loss
  5. I will be more physically active
  6. I will be more sociable
  7. I will continue my work on this blog and improve it.
  8. I will nurture and share my interest in skincare.
  9. I will get better at my skincare routine
  10. I will learn to cook
Please note that the word try is not in this list. I could go all Yoda and say Do or Do Not. There is no Try but I won't. The truth is that saying you will try is like saying you won't. It is not a commitment to do something; it gives you an escape clause where you can deceive yourself into giving up.

I do not want to give up on myself. all these goals are for my own personal benefit. I will feel better and be better by doing them.

Some of these are harder than others and sometimes I will falter and lose my way. but that's okay, as long as I am honest with myself about it and get back to the path, facing the right direction.

I have learned that the only way to get anywhere is to take small steps. I run out of steam way to quickly for giant leaps.

These are not revolutionary changes in my life but I will be going up against 37 years of self-sabotage and bad habits so I am not expecting miracles. (I already think the cooking thing is a bit of a stretch - all they way to wishful thinking - but I will have to start some time)

That is my list. It was not intended to be 10 (I put the numbers in afterwards) but it works.

How do you tackle the New Year? Do you make plans and resolutions or do you just "Call the whole thing off?" Do you track them or give up after six weeks?

Let me know what your plans are and how confident you are that you will achieve them.

I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great 2015. May it touch you softly and be gentle with your heart.

Be kind to your skin and love yourself.