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I have always been drawn to and looked for patterns in time, in the way events fit into and around each other. It's just one of the little quirks of my brain.

In the last month or so, one pattern has been on my mind. We conceived B the cycle immediately after E turned two and a half. Three weeks ago, B turned two and a half and this week I have been fertile. I ovulated yesterday. For some reason there was a symbolism to this regarding our decision not to have any more children (of our own - there may be more donor children born in other families with my genes). I am almost entirely at peace with our choice but still this month there's been a real sense that I should be trying to conceive, NOW, even though I know I don't really want that any more. And then last night I ovulated, and for the first time ever I felt both ovaries pop. This helped a little. Twins - therefore four kids to raise would have probably sent me over the edge!

R and I actively discussed the possibility of another child quite recently. After a blissful almost 7 years of no, or manageable period pain my endo symptoms have started to return. The prospect of suffering like that again, especially now that I have dependents is quite terrifying. I can't let it get that bad again but things are worsening quickly. I've asked to be referred and my hospital letter came through today so I'll be off to discuss options sometime soon. I've yet to have a positive experience with any kind of artificial hormones and the only other options are laser surgery (which I've had three times before and has worsened symptoms every time) and a hysterectomy. We needed to be sure we had completed our family before we could properly discuss this as a possibility so we allowed ourselves a few days to ponder the idea of another child. We both came down on the side of no. I'm still not sure how I feel about the thought of a hysterectomy and I don't know if there are other treatments I could consider but as my pain gets worse month by month I want to take action, and soon. Another pregnancy (which although laden with all kinds of other complications is less painful and would still allow me to work and actively parent our existing kids) is now, absolutely and finally, not on the cards.

When the pain got bad last month I found myself fantasising about labour! It says something when I've given birth twice with no need for pain relief but I can't get through a period without prescription painkillers. But anyway, I'm now wandering. There will be no more kids here, but my fantasy third conception is going on right now. And it's twins.
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I'm not going to Bicon. Since missing the Big Bi Fun Day the other week I've regretted not thinking about trying to get to at least some of Bicon, but short notice just doesn't work around here any more. It will probably be next year before I get to go to any bi events now and given I'm feeling the desire to reconnect there it does feel a bit of a shame, but everyone will still be there and I'll have just as lovely a time catching up with folk next year as I would this.

So those that are going, have a blast. Those that are organising, I salute you. I'll be spending the weekend in a field with a large tribe of free-range children and a smaller tribe of frazzled adults and will be having a lovely time too. Write it up well folks. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it.
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I just heard that 14 of the 24 eggs they collected have fertilised. Now it's just a matter of seeing how they divide over the coming days before they decide when to transfer and see if there are any to freeze. There's a fair chance they'll get some frosties with that number. How fab is that?

On the down side my over stimulation issue seems to be worsening instead of getting better. Bah. It will ease eventually - I'm already on the meds - but I'm going to be sore and swollen for a while.
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They got 24 eggs. This is about double the average amount they normally collect and I'm now at risk of late-onset hyperstimulation so I have new drugs to take. The tablets are tiny little things, which is good, but the list of side effects includes things like 'an extreme out-of-character compulsion to gamble' and I can't drive on them which is a pain given it's the school holidays and I'm on sole parent duty in the daytime from tomorrow lunch time onwards. Lots of playing in the garden and inviting people round I think...

The collection itself was fine. The sedation was very effective and I slept through most of it, and dozed on and off fo the next 6 hours or so. It's hurting now though. It feels like I've been given a very good kicking, but I guess they did have to do a fair bit of prodding about in there. It's done now though and I'm loving the thought of the looks on my recipients faces when they heard they got 24 eggs. :)

I came home to a big bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates from them which was very lovely indeed. And they gave me a card, thanking me and signing off with the words: "Thank you. The rest is up to us. We'll do our best. x"

There's nothing to add to that really. You go guys. x
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My ovaries are huge. At my scan on Friday morning there were 28 follicles over 10mm cross, and several of those were over 20mm. Anything over 10mm can contain a viable egg and as I still had two more days of stimulation meds to go so it's likely there are more now. I am enormous. I look as though I'm about 5 months pregnant. Thank goodness for trousers with elasticated waists!

I just took my last injection. This one wasn't for stimulation, it was for ripening so it was a nice big syringe full of HCG - the pregnancy hormone. Before I go to hospital on Monday morning for egg collection I need to do a pregnancy test and it should be positive. I find that strangely amusing. Here I am trying to help someone else get pregnant and I'll be getting a positive pregnancy test in 36 hours. This is a strange old ride I've been taking.

And it's nearly over, for me at least. In two days time all those eggs that are currently getting ready to pop in my belly will be sitting in a petri dish getting busy with a few million sperm. A week from now there will hopefully be an embryo or two settling in to someone else's womb. I'll be off enjoying the beginnings of my post-baby-days freedom at the Big Bi Fun Day with all of this behind me and someone else will be desperately hoping that her opportunities for socialising are about to become severely compromised.

Despite the discomfort of the last week I am already pondering the possibility of doing this again. I certainly could - I have 18 months to go before I get 'too old'. There are so many things about it that I really like. It's so interesting! I'm fiddling with my body to make it do things it wouldn't, probably shouldn't normally do but the benefits of doing those things for someone else are monumental. I get to have fun with the science experiment and someone else gets to deal with the consequences. And pay for it. This kind of thing is not cheap.

I don't know if I will though. It's only been in the last few weeks that I've really started to tune in to what this really is for my recipient I feel bonded to her much more now I'm in the thick of it and I'm so glad I was able to donate in a way that meant that we could have some contact. The various people who have met us both talk about how eerily similar we are. We do the same job and have similar interests now and in our pasts. We are thinking about this process in similar ways. I have never (knowingly) met this woman but we definitely have a bond and if this treatment works we will have a kind of connection that few people get to share. I may never meet her, but she means something to me, something unique. So sudddenly the idea of donating again - to someone else - feels strange. I think I'm enjoying this process so much because I feel that bond with this woman who has hair the same colour as mine and who loves to walk in nature. I'm doing this for her.

And so I need to know how this pans out before I can contemplate doing this again. Will my eggs fertilise well (I have a good track record - 2 full term, healthy babies from 7 cycles of inseminations - and that's with the added complications of endometriosis and PCOS)? Will the embryos implant? Will she miscarry? Only time will tell on those. I also need to give my body time to recover so I won't even try to make a decision until the autumn.

But I definitely will consider it. How can I not?
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I'm typing this one handed with a sleepy baby on my lap. What a wonderful thing to be able to say!

In case anyone didn't already know, our son, Brennan Gray popped out on January 31st. He was born at home as we had planned but after keeping us waiting 10 days past his due date he was having none of the lovely relaxed water birth we'd anticipated. The labour was just over three hours from the first contraction to birth which was quite a contrast to Ember's 27. The birth pool had about three inches of water in it and I didn't even make it down the stairs, let alone into it. His birth involved no pain relief (even the tens machine was missing a lead when I came to put it on) but rather a lot of noise and choice language, and the bedroom carpet will never be the same again. It was pretty damn fantastic really. I'm part way through writing the birth story up in full so it may get posted here at some point.

So, we have a son! He is of course stunningly beautiful and adorable in every way. He even proves his extra-special-ness by having two webbed toes and a birth mark in the shape of a heart on his thigh. I'm not quite sure what super powers that combination of physical anomalies will give him, but I'm sure he'll have fun trying to figure that out. Ember was determined throughout the pregnancy that she was getting a brother, so is rather pleased with him and we've had no signs of jealousy or any other arrival of new sibling behaviour issues. They seem to get a great deal of pleasure from each other already - Bren grins at her more than anyone else and she loves to cuddle and sing to him. It's all very cute and way more preferable than the alternative. :)

Not only that, but Bren is an extremely chilled out kid. We had some issues with thrush in the first few weeks but despite them he's fed like a dream from the start and already he's sleeping 7-8 hour stretches at night. Ember still rarely does that at 3!

Life now is complete chaos, in every way, but we seem to be muddling through. R's work is as stressful and time (and thought) consuming as we anticipated. It will be October before we get any let-up so I am having to carry the majority of the home/parenting workload in a way I didn't have to when Ember was born. It's not easy and I've been having some wobbles but mostly seem to be holding up OK. The anticipation was worse than the reality and my newly local parents have been stars, offering childcare regularly and being rocks generally. It's made a massive difference. I thought it might be strange having them close by after never living anywhere near them since leaving home at 18 but it's been pretty marvellous actually. I just hope we can be equally cool parents to our kids.

Our kids. There it is. We've got two of them! Life is manic and the prospect of having more than 30 seconds to myself ever again seems like a distant dream, but I signed up for this and I couldn't imagine a life more fulfilling and joyous. We are lucky buggers, we are. :) (The turkey baster is now officially retired though. There's only so much joy and fulfilment these girls can take...)

Current Mood: sleepy knackered

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I know that the universe did us an amazing favour by letting us have this house. There was so much stacked against us winning it, but it came to us and we will always be grateful for that. We are paying for it now though, as though we used up all our karmic grace and are now in significant debt. So far in the last few weeks:

o my car has died.
o the new one had to go back twice for repairs in the first fortnight.
o the boiler has broken down three times (I'm waiting for the repair man to come today. The ambient temperature in here is currently twelve degrees.)
o Rae's car has died, though it's now working again. How long for is anyone's guess.
o Our fridge freezer has died, taking with it our fruit harvest that was going to last us all winter.
o We have discovered we have mice in our pantry and they've eaten half our stash of dog food.

These things on their own are manageable, but it feels as though we're living in an endless cycle of moderate disasters right now and our resources (both financial and psychological) are getting very low. When will it end?

One the plus side, we're all healthy, we can still afford to pay the mortgage if not a lot else and we have a wood full of free fuel for our open fire out the back so at least one room can be kept warm. So we're OK, just feeling a bit fraught and as though we're just waiting for the next problem to come along. We'll weather the storm, but if you have a bit of love (or the odd woolly jumper) to spare then we'd appreciate it right now.

Current Mood: cold cold

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Today I ran two workshops at the annual conference of the Association of Radical Midwives. I was pretty nervous beforehand. I've only been working in the pregnancy and birth field for four and bit years so I felt a bit junior to be presenting at an event alongside some of the biggest names in the business. I felt a bit better when I'd been there a little while and realised that I already knew quite a few people so perhaps I wasn't a total novice and fraud. Then several people came and found me because they 'had heard of me and wanted to meet me'. They were all very nice so I dared to assume that whatever they'd heard had been reasonably positive. And then I ran a workshop, and people seemed to like it. Then I ran another and people seemed to like it even more.

I also displayed some of my artwork in the main hall. There were always people around the display and I sold several cards and one painting. Given that the event cost me nothing and included my meals I left it in profit, and with quite a few new and interesting contacts.

I like midwives. Especially the radical ones. I feel energised and inspired, and very at home within that circle of vibrant, determined and wonderfully grounded women. If I needed any more convincing then today provided it. It may be a while off, but I'm going to become one of them one day.

Current Mood: amused alive

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Well, we've reached that point. We always knew it was a possibility when taking on the hefty mortgage for this lovely big old house, but four months in it's clear we need more income, so it's time for me to bite the bullet and find myself a job.

I wish that my doula work and Natal Hypnotherapy classes were earning enough. I had quite a busy summer on the doula front, but since August I've had just one booking, for a client due next week. I've nothing after that, and despite getting a few enquiries recently for both doula and Natal Hypnotherapy work no actual bookings have materialised. I'm now in debt and there's no way out of it without getting some work.

On the plus side Ember has had almost full time parenting for her first two years which is more than many kids get and we have found an excellent local childminder - on a farm that always has hordes of children running around it manically.

So if any of you hear of any work going that I could do then please let me know. Anything in graphic design or branding, adult/community education or voluntary sector promotions, media or project management would be possibilities. The only problem is that I now live in rural Shropshire so a regular commute isn't really feasible. It would need to be local or involve a significant amount of home working. I'm applying for one post I've seen in the local paper but could do with spreading the net wider. I'm about four years out of touch with the job market so pointers from those more in the know would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Current Mood: busy busy

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Yesterday was the kind of day we always dreamed about in our plan to move out into the sticks. We coppiced some of our own hazel rods to make a leaf mould bin, made it, then spent a happy few hours filling it with assistance from Ember, who kept wanting to take breaks to be pushed around the garden in the wheelbarrow. Then I used the off-cut smaller branches from the hazel to make a ring to use as a base for our solstice wreath for the front door while Rae and Ember collected firewood. When it started raining we moved inside and turned 2kg of frozen plums harvested from our own tree a couple of months back into chutney. We got 7 jars and the house still smells of vinegar and spices. This evening some of our new neighbours are coming over for dinner so Ember and I will shortly be making chocolate brownies. The house will smell really interesting then!

Today I need to start getting my head around more professional things as well. I'm running a Natal Hypnotherapy workshop and three drop-in sessions at the Association of Radical Midwives conference this weekend. Apparently my workshop is already fully booked so there'll be 50 midwives there. This is a little outside my comfort zone and the nerves have started, but I know the content and it should be fine. I want to do a lot of prep this week though, to make sure I'm as relaxed as I can be on the day.

I've also surprised myself by being very tempted by an almost full time job I saw advertised last week. I'm so tempted I've pretty much decided that I will apply. It's for between 25 and 37 hours a week and the lower end of that would probably be manageable, especially if I could fit it into three long days, and the pay is enough that it would cover childcare and still give a reasonable wage. It feels very strange to be considering something that isn't doulaing, but it is kind of related - working for a charity that supports vulnerable families with small children. Doula work has been so slow of late that my overdraft just keeps growing and at some point I have to take notice of that and realise that this just isn't sustainable. *sigh*

Anyway, that's today's ramble. I'm off to stick labels on leaflets and probably a few on a small child in preparation for this conference.

Current Mood: busy busy

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Phew, what a busy few weeks!

We've had a second birthday to celebrate, which was great fun. Our little girl has certainly left her baby-hood behind. Just this morning she was playing in the laundry basket (she was apparently in a boat going to the seaside) when she fell out with a thud on the floor:

Ember: Bumped my head.
Mummy Rae Rae: Shall I kiss it better?
Ember: No, juice will make it better.

When Rae turned 40 last year I offered to get her a canoeing lesson for her birthday. It took us until this week to get it sorted, but on Tuesday Ember had a full day at the childminder (who lives on a farm which is Ember's idea of heaven) and we went off to Llangollen to a private canoeing lesson on the river Dee. It was fantastic fun! Our instructor was very patient with us but had us doing all kinds of things in different types of river flow by the end of the day. I still hurt quite a bit, but we had a great time and I think we'd both be up for trying to do it more often. I'm looking at local swimming schemes to see if there's anything we can start going to with Ember so that she can learn to swim in readyness for trying it herself in another year or so.

The trip to Llangollen (which is about a 40 minute drive) was the last nail in the coffin for my car though. I went out to the local shops yesterday and a few strange noises were soon followed by smoke and although it seems it could be repaired, the cost doesn't make sense for us. The car does have life left in it but we've needed a bigger car for a while and we're clocking up a lot more miles since we moved out here, so we'd kill it off pretty quickly I think. So today I'm ringing round second hand car places and exploring what loans we might be able to get. More debt! Yey!

In other news, we've managed to negotiate the purchase of half an acre of the woods at the back of our house. They're completely unmaintained so we'd like to clear them, remove the dead and very ill trees and replant varieties we can coppice for fuel. In doing our research for clearing and keeping down the undergrowth, we've found a number of sources that recommend the best way to do it is to get some pigs on there, so quite unexpectedly, we're exploring the possibility of welcoming a couple of piglets to our family. That's on top of the chickens we're already planning to bring home in the spring. Who'd have thought it?
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Today was rather celebrity filled. I didn't get to speak to Ricki Lake but she was there doing her presenter thing and she was very friendly and approachable - it was a pretty small event with maybe 150 people present so it was all very relaxed. I got to chat to James McQuillan from The Apprentice and he later attempted to auction off some of my paintings, though only one sold. That was to Jane Garvey, presenter of Women's Hour, much to my inner glee. Janey-Lee Grace did a bit of presenting and was selling her books and CDs, although I didn't get to speak to her. Marcus Bridgstocke was also there but not for any celebrity-type role. His wife is a doula and he was accompanying her. It was as glitzy a thing as I've ever been a part of and it was really good fun. I got to have lots of good gabbing with various doula folk and drank vastly more champagne than I'm used to before brunch.

So I didn't sell much, just the one painting and six greeting cards. I think I'll pop the rest on ebay over the next few weeks as I did make them to sell and frankly, I need to get some financial reimbursement for them.

And the night before all of this I ended up having an unexpectedly lovely social evening with becksydee and cloudwalker_3 and their extremely cute new addition. It could have been very stressful when I realised that my purse was no longer in my pocket moments after getting on the bus to meet them. It was only a brief panic though, as miraculously I received a phone call within minutes from a refreshingly honest man who had picked it up and I arranged to meet him later to get it back.  becksydee and cloudwalker_3 were exceedingly generous, treating me to dinner and then ensuring I was accompanied to meet the Honest Man who returned my purse along with all its contents, including the cash. A very lovely evening indeed.

I'm now home, back in my rural world away from the urban sprawl. I found being in London very claustrophobic this visit and I'm sure it's to do with the huge contrast between the two environments. I'm so not a city girl. I love my open spaces, a million stars in the night sky, the calls of owls, hawks and foxes around me and a world in which the dominant colour is green. How wonderful it is to be coming home to here.
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Right, I'm here, courtesy of a friend's internet connection this evening, although we have just found our way back into cyberspace from home at last too. It took two months to get connected following the move, which was a pain in many ways, but it's over now. :)

The really good news is that we are now living in our dream home. Ember is thoroughly enjoying playing in her half acre play ground and we moved in at just the right time to benefit from the many fruit trees in the garden so she's spent the last month or two helping herself to plums, pears, apples, damsons and blackberries whenever she fancies it. We've been rather enjoying doing the same, although we look forward to better harvests in a few years time once the trees have had the chance to benefit from a bit of general pruning and TLC.

We love it. Going home there is the best feeling. There are too many wonderful things about it to list, but it is wonderful. We did have some concerns about being the only gays in a very traditional-seeming rural village, but we invited all our new neighbours round a few weeks ago and everyone came and they've all been wonderful. We've had offers of babysitting, invitations for dinner and I've already managed to secure myself a small amount of employment crocheting things for the local alpaca breeders out of their own wool. The other week I invented a pattern for a stuffed alpaca toy by looking at the alpaca that the wool I was using actually came from. I think any issues there might have been were successfully quashed when we chopped down the enormous, untouched for years conifer hedge that was blocking out all our light - it ran along the entire front boundary of our property which happens to be the south side. It was also causing a traffic hazard to anyone trying to pull out of the lane by blocking all visibility and the single action of removing it seems to have endeared us to the whole neighbourhood. We now have a fantastic view - and lots of light, and we're also now open to view from all passers by which I think says subtle things about our openness to everyone else in other ways. It's all good.

I'm in London this evening, staying with a friend ready for an early start tomorrow. Tomorrow it's the 'Doula of the Year' award ceremony which will happen over a champagne brunch hosted by Ricki Lake. I'm one of four or five artists that have been asked to exhibit there, so me and a big bag of paintings landed here a few hours ago. It was lovely to be asked, and it's given me a kick up the bum to get creative again. I've made myself a site for my birth art type stuff if anyone fancies having a nosey. I'm hoping to sell enough stuff to have made the trip down here worth it from a financial perspective, but even if I don't I plan to have a very enjoyable time.

And that's me for now. I'm going to go and be sociable with my friend before he has to disappear off to a gig he's playing tonight.

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We've now been in the new house for a week and thanks to the valiant efforts of various members of our families and several friends, including the lovely redandfiery , we have now almost finished painting the kitchen and dining room, the snug, the three main bedrooms, the stairs and landing and hopefully by the end of today, the utility room. We also now have a new fuse box, new exterior lights, an oven and hob instead of gaping holes in the kitchen units, windows that lock, smoke alarms, heating and hot water and an almost complete dog run in the garden. We've cleared the driveway and it's now over a metre wider and we've nearly filled the first skip. There's still tons to do, but with clean painted walls it at least is staring to look the part. We're off carpet shopping today, and the new front door is going in today too. Two more weeks until we're in.

We're knackered already and we haven't even started thinking about packing for the move yet. We'll get there though. I fall more in love with the house every day we're there. We've started to meet the neighbours, and half of them are related to each other. They keep referring to the people who lived there before us as 'funny folk'. I can't help but wonder what they're going to say when word gets round that a couple of queers have moved in. I strongly suspect that we really will be the only gays in the village, but reading between the lines I think that if we keep the hedge trimmed neatly they'll accept us well enough.

Right, off to get into my painting gear to get a few hours of rollering in before we hit the carpet showroom...

Current Mood: busy busy

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Well I've had a rather nice weekend on the acquiring of material possessions front. I don't have them often.

Yesterday we had all day babysitters in the form of R's parents, so R and I did some shopping. First we went to a reclamation yard - something we'd never done together before - and we had a fantastic time wandering around and falling in love with all kinds of old and character-ful items. We only made one purchase though, the one we'd gone to make, and that was a new-to-us front door for the new house. It's a big chunky wooden thing and we really like it.

Next we trekked off to a timber yard where we once again did some perusing and went on to buy 19 round fence posts and 50m of stock fencing for the dog run we will be erecting in our new garden. That way Digger can have space to run free but he won't be able to dig up our veggie beds or escape through the many holes in the hedge. And then it was off to the DIY store where we bought lots of paint, and some new paintbrushes and rollers, some cleaning supplies, and a few other random items.

When we got home and after Ember went to bed we jumped online and bought ourselves a new electric oven and hob for the new kitchen, a somewhat amusing green man door knocker and a selection of iron door furniture for our new front door.

And then today I popped out for a short while and came back with my new toy, an iPhone. I am liking it rather a lot. It was essential I change networks because my current one has no signal at the new house, and it seems that O2 is the only network that does. Once I'd had a play with the various phones and options available to me I decided to go for the fancy gadget, partly because it's yummy and also because it will act as a GPS/sat nav type tool when I'm out visiting clients. New toy! But I've no real time to play with it because tomorrow I need to call the solicitor, buy more staples for the gun for the fence, sort out our new council tax arrangements and go and buy an electricity key for the prepayment meter at the new house in the few hours of childcare I have.

That's assuming neither of the clients I have at the moment call me. The first had her waters break on Friday but there's no sign of anything other than the mildest of contractions so far. The other is due on Wednesday and has been niggling for the last two days. Thank goodness I have back-up!

redandfiery , are you still thinking of coming over next weekend to throw some paint around? It would be lovely if you were. I'll try to call you tomorrow.

Current Mood: busy busy

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We've exchanged! It's ours, all ours! We get the keys on completion next Tuesday! Yey!

Current Mood: relieved relieved

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This house-buying malarky is a bit stressful isn't it? Our Birmingham house exchanged and completed last week, a week late, but it is done and dusted now. We were hoping to exchange on the new house todayonly to find when we went in to our solicitors office this morning that neither our formal mortgage offer or our buildings insurance documentation had arrived with him. Grr. We knew they were both late in the middle of last week, chased them up then and were assured that both were in the post. I've spent the last few hours on the phone to various people trying to get it sorted so that we can at least exchange tomorrow, but it seems we won't know until the morning if that is possible or not. I've been placating Ember with Shrek 2. I really dislike using the TV to distract her, but it's been necessary today. I think I've given up now so we'll go in the garden for a play to make it up to her. She does really like Shrek...

In other news we had a very lovely holiday in Derbyshire last week with my parents, my parent's best friends, their two (grown up) children plus their son-in-law and granddaughter. We had a couple of cottages on a farm and we had such a good time we decided to book to go again next year. That's when they told us that  they were introducing a 'no groups' booking policy (which we interpretted as 'you're noisy/annoying/offensive buggers, don't come back'). This upset us somewhat, until they recommended we try another farm complex down the road which turned out to be even better. So next July we're off to Wheeldon Trees Farm and I'm already looking forward to it.

Current Mood: stressed stressed

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Things are moving. We've signed mortgage papers, engaged surveyors and solicitors, been to measure up and have written a list about as long as the new garden of things we need to get done. Our lovely budget spreadsheet is a scary thing to behold, as we see all our savings diminish to nearly nothing as the various costs pile up. It's very scary. It's equally very exciting, but that first burst of elation has very quickly transformed into a big heap of stress. It's good stress, that ultimately leads to something amazing, but my goodness, this feels like a very big and grown up thing to be doing. We just need to keep reminding ourselves that we can be grown up enough to manage such big things.

Assuming all goes as it should, we'll get the keys in July 3rd. From July 7th, we will be spending almost all our time for the next fortnight working on the house. We'll be moving in the first week in August. *gulp!*

There are moments of great joy though - like looking through online catalogues of front doors. I've never chosen my own front door before and it's such a pleasurable thing to do. Ours will be a front door with a small window of commissioned glass art from my Dad, and a rather funky door knocker that we've found. This will be our long term home, so suddenly the choices we make become all about what we want, rather than what is affordable for now, or what will be acceptable to a future buyer.

I still can't believe that we're going to get to live there. Thank you universe. We did a lot of manifestation and magic to try to bring us to our dream home. Even when we found this place, the thought that we might actually get it was one we barely dared to consider. And then we did! It's served as a good reminder of how sometimes, when we wish for the right things and the universe smiles at us, we really can create our own good fortune.

Current Mood: busy busy

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They accepted our offer. We are going to buy a house. Not just any house, but this one. It's going to be speedy and all being well we should have the keys on July 3rd.

I have momentarily forgotten how to function in all capacities other than those involved in telling the world about this amazing news.

Ember will get to grow up there. We will get to grow old there. What a wonderful place to grow!

Who wants to come and visit?

Current Mood: excited incredibly excited

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I wish I knew a miracle way to help my body shift whatever nastiness is currently inhabiting it. I'm sitting here looking at a packet of antibiotics and feeling very torn, especially as I'm still breastfeeding, and prone to thrush. I haven't taken them in years but am getting to the end of my tether. I'm now entering week six of a sore throat that makes swallowing extremely painful, with on-off associated headache/earache accompaniments, and a nice dose of exhaustion thrown in. And I'm teaching all this weekend. Bah.

Current Mood: tired knackered

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This evening we put in an offer on the house. Fingers crossed!

Current Mood: nervous nervous

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It seems we've found a house that we might like to buy. It has everything we've been looking for, minus a paddock but plus a ton of mature trees and more space in the house itself than we ever thought we could afford. It's only 15 minutes drive from R's new office in Shrewsbury, one mile's walk along pretty country lanes to the local village centre which has a post office and general store, pub and primary school and the property itself back directly onto woodland. It's gorgeous. We've now been to look round the garden and local area three times and have been inside the house itself once. The grounds look to our untrained eyes as though they're getting on for half an acre.

It needs some work. It needs decorating throughtout, it probably needs a new central heating boiler (which gives us a chance to go straight onto solid fuel for heating and hot water - yey!), the downstairs shower room only has a gaping hole where the shower should be, some of the floors need seeing to and it will need a new kitchen before very long. It's also only single glazed so new windows will need to feature at some point and it needs new exterior doors. However, that level of works feels manageable to us for what would then be a truly magnificent home. The estate agent's details are here. We're going back on Saturday with a builder friend to get an idea of the actual cost of the work to make sure it's manageable, but from what we've researched so far it seems likely it will be.

We may not get it though. It's been repossessed so is being sold by a bank who want a 28 day exchange. Although things seem to be ticking along quite nicely with the sale of our Birmingham house we don't yet know if getting that completed in 28 days will be possible or not. There is also a lot of interest in it - not surprising really - so it will probably go to best and final offers in the next couple of weeks. We can put in a bid, but whether or not we'd get chosen is in the hands of the gods. Or the bank, which is probably a bit less preferable.

However, it is very exciting and we are really enjoying feeling the love for this house whilst simultaneously trying not to get too excited about it in case we don't get it. But if we did, wow. How amazing would it be to live there?


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It's been a while since I updated. I figured I'd better get round to it before too much had happened to possibly document. Brief highlights of the last month or so include:
  • Ember taking to walking almost overnight. She now toddles everywhere and has permanently skinned knees.
  • Two births within 48 hours. Not the way I'd have planned it, or either of my clients for that matter. One was a home birth at 35 weeks that ended up in SCBU, and the other was an attempted vaginal breech birth that ended up in a section.
  • Another previous client being investigated by social services and seeking my support.
  • Ember deciding to call breast milk 'beer'. Quite cute, until she starts demanding 'beer! beer!' in the supermarket and I end up saying 'You can have some beer when you get home'- in full earshot of at least ten other shoppers.
  • A visit up to my folks for a few days whilst R went away to Wales.
  • Developing a minor cough that turned into a rather major one following two nights without sleep in one weekend (thanks to the good timing of the aforementioned clients). Miracle cough cure suggestions would be gratefully received.
  • Ember moving into her own bedroom and after the first week of settling in, taking to sleeping through the night more often than not.
I'm sure there's more, but that's the basics of it. I'll add more as I remember them. My brain is fried tonight.
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I've spent the best part of the last two days at a Natal Hypnotherapy practitioners study event. It was very enjoyable, energising in all the right ways, and I've come away with lots to think about and both the opportunity and the desire to get much more involved. We were also given a crash course in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and I'm now going to have to learn more about it. It's already improved my own slight vomit phobia (not the best phobia to have when around women in labour) although that's yet to be really put to the test. It's all good.

Yesterday, R was off work so was on Ember duty whilst I was at the study day. Today, she spent the day with R's parents. They had a lovely time - Ember adores her Nanna, probably because she gets royally spoiled - and went out to the park and played at home. It was there that Ember took her first unaided steps this morning, a feat she repeated several times. On one level, I feel quite sad to have missed it (but if that gets too much I can always use the EFT techniques to take away the sting) but on another it feels quite appropriate that she took such a symbolically significant step towards independence when niether of her parents was with her. And of course, Nanna was made up.

So my daughter is now walking and talking. She 'aint no baby anymore!

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

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We're supposedly having a holiday. R has a week off work so we decided to stay home based and catch up, but have managed to book social things into every day. It's lovely getting to do things together, but not that restful really.

I'm really enjoying E at the moment. It's made me realise how tough I was finding it a few months back, and in retrospect, I think the ongoing sleep issues and the need to get out and have some non-mum time were the biggest issues. However, the no-cry sleep training worked. Now Ember sleeps in her cot with the side up so she can't come and join us/climb all over us in our bed, and she wakes once, twice, and occasionally even no times a night. This improved sleep has meant she's generally awake and raring to go at about 6am but we get hours of unbroken sleep before that so it's a manageable compromise. We're in the process of discussing how we're going to go about moving her into her own room, and we'll be doing that imminently. There's no escaping the fact that she's a baby no more, and it feels right to give her her own space and to be reclaiming our own. A little scary, but right.

This week she had half a day with a local, highly recommended, child-minder. She'll be going back every Monday morning from here on, and for an extra session or two whenever I'm at a birth. And I'll be doing that again any day now. My first post maternity-leave client is due in another week or so so she could go into labour any day. We've had a series of great antenatal sessions and it's a planned home waterbirth, so I'm really looking forward to it. I have several other doula bookings over the coming months and I spent this weekend teaching Natal Hypnotherapy to a very lovely couple who seemed to get a lot out of it. I did too. There's a lot more workstuff coming up, but I might save that for another post.

Overall I've been spending a lot more evening and weekend time working, and R has been stepping up to the mark on the parenting front. It's made a difference to all of us and brought to light a few inequalities/power imbalances in our parenting that we seem to have resolved. And E is being a total charmer, which makes it all the more pleasurable. She's a real little chatter box and at 16 months is coming out with new words every day. Animal noises and 'no' are big favourites at present. And despite us using the word 'mummy' to refer to us both she seems to have decided to call R 'Raerae' - very cute. She's walking more all the time, though still hasn't tried it without something to hold on to. She has no fear - she happily climbs up and slides down storey-high slides at the play places we go to, and she smiles almost all the time. I've found my parenting joy again, and it's fabulous.

My parents came to visit for the day today and we ended up going into the town park to play on the swings and slides and watch the ducks, with a detour into the shopping centre where they bought E her first pair of proper walking Clark's shoes. They're very cute, and the fact that we ended up choosing a pair from the 'boy' section wasn't an issue in the slightest with the shop assistants, which was heartening. The whole 'gendering of children's clothing/toys etc' rant is one that is well brewed within me and could go on for aeons, but I wouldn't be saying anything new, just venting frustration so I'll keep myself mostly in check for now. However, this instance was really just dumb. There wasn't a single pair of shoes in the 'girl' section that wasn't pale in colour. These are shoes designed for small children - they're specialists in mud and grime and strange stains of unknown origin. We're very happy with our funky brown and red, chunky soled shoes, but I'm sure there are many parents out there who are stuck trying to clean their toddler's white, gold or pale pink shoes and cursing the fact that the girls range features nothing but them.

photos under here...Collapse )

Anyway, it's past my bed time, so I will pause for now. Night!
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This weekend we were supposed to be down in Surrey visiting R's sister and her family. Instead, we're having a chilled weekend. R came home from work last night feeling a bit rough and within a few hours was being sick and feeling terrible. She's now having a weekend of bed rest and seems to be slowly mending. E and I are having an unexpected opportunity to do fun stuff that we don't often have the time to do. Earlier today we went over to Shrewsbury and went out for a pub lunch and a soft play session with bi_dancer13 who happily was willing to spend her spoons on us. :) E is now napping and I think that a walk to the park might be in order later to make the most of the fabulous weather. Tomorrow it looks like we'll be off to the in-laws for sunday lunch. With luck, R will be feeling better by Monday when she has a day off work so we'll hopefully get to have some family time then.

I really ought to be using this E nap time to do some work but I'm not in the mood. I think I might cut out the fabric for my latest crafty project instead.

I've been having real crafty success lately. More mums have asked me to make them clothes for their kids after seeing Ember in some of the stuff I've created. I've just bought myself a domain name to make a little site for it all so I can take commissions from further afield. It might make me a bit of pocket money if I'm lucky, but even if it doesn't I'll get to enjoy making Stuff.

And the diet is going OK. The weight loss has slowed down dramatically, as I believe it tends to, but even though it's slow it is still coming off. Six weeks in I've lost a quarter of the weight I want to drop, so we're getting there.

Oh, and we've accepted another offer on the house. We're not counting our chickens though. We won't be celebrating this time until we've got a signed contract in our hands.

Current Mood: artistic crafty

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It seems they chose not to play my interview. Oh well! Apologies if you made an effort to listen under false pretences.
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I've been asked to be interviewed by BBC Radio 4 about MMR, more specifically, about our decision not to give it to Ember. They're going to pre-record it later this evening. There will be a news feature about the increase in parents choosing not to give the vaccine tomorrow morning between 8 and 8:30 and my interview will be a part of this.

Just thought I'd let you know in case you fancied giving it a listen. I know this is a very emotive subject and I'm not interested in getting into lengthy debate about it here. We put a lot of research, careful thought and discussion into making this decision and it is the right one for us. I would never question any parents' choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate their child, but if anyone is interested in why we made the choice we did, have a listen to Radio 4 in the morning. :) (You can hear it online here.)

Current Mood: Trying not to be nervous...

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Some of you may remember that we won a family photoshoot at a fancy photo studio late last year. Today I went to pick up our photos and they're great!

You can see them here if you're interested.
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You know how I ended my last post saying how it was good that we had choices? Well, it seems we don't need to worry about decision making any more because the buyer of our Birmingham house has pulled out. We found out on Monday and it tipped both of us into feeling really very low. I don't think we'd quite realised what a weight had been lifted until it dropped back onto us again. And finances are looking very grim. Paying for two houses on one income isn't the easiest thing in the world.

And that's it really. No more house hunting, no more fantasies, just a big bundle more of sitting here in limbo waiting for the house to sell. Joy.

In other news, the sleep training routine we started a few weeks ago seems to be working. Things went off the rails a bit over the weekend while E seemed to have a bit of a cold but it didn't last long. She's now waking 2-3 times a night instead of 7-9, and twice has slept for 7 hours in one go!

So we're now awake enough to be fully aware of how crap the whole house situation is. Bah!

Current Mood: grumpy grumpy

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