Thursday, 11 February 2016

Throwing up in Dunlem Mill



When Ebony was little, I realised I couldn’t go back to work. The commute was too long, work was too far away, and I hated the idea of being away from Ebony for so much of the week. It wasn’t an easy decision to make because I loved my job and really felt like I was making a difference in the world. But, when I became a mama, my world got smaller, and that little baby girl was really all that mattered.

Shortly after I made that decision, Ebony got pneumonia. It wasn’t really that serious, but it was pretty scary, and I felt really glad that I was home with her and not stuck on the other side of Manchester. I’m really appreciative that I can stay home with Ebony when she’s poorly, that I don’t have to give her a quick kiss before running out of the door. And it wasn’t an easy and obvious solution for me to stay home, we had to make sacrifices financially in order for me to stay home. But it’s always been worth it. Even when all of my DINKY friends (double income, no kids yet) were going on amazing holidays, perfecting their homes and showcasing new dresses each time we met up.

I started working as a pregnancy and parenting writer and have now been happily doing that for three years. I love what I do. I am fascinated by pregnancy, birth and parenting, and love nothing more than hearing about other women’s experiences. I love the gentle parenting site I write for. I love the ease of working from home, and the fact I never, ever have to fight for a seat on a sweaty, miserable commuter train. I love that I control how much work I do each month and that I can easily take a day off to get to the beach or play in the snow.

And, most importantly, I love that I can be there for Ebony when she needs me. If she’s ill, I don’t have to ring work and try and negotiate a day off, I can just stay home with her (and feel only moderately stressed about the work I should really be doing). It doesn’t happen often because she only ever seems to catch colds, but when it does, it’s nice to spend a day on the sofa with her.

A couple of Saturdays ago, Laurie took Ebony to a birthday party. I was in the bath when they got back (I am always in the bath. It is a side effect of the pregnancy), and Ebony came straight in and puked up a lot of chocolate into the toilet. I thought this was because Laurie had let her eat two packets of chocolate buttons and a cake (what sort of person doesn’t think this is an excessive amount of sugar for a four year old?!), and she seemed fine for the rest of the night.

The next day, Laurie took Ebony to Dunelm Mill. The lovely folks over at Ocean Finance sent me a £50 voucher for Dunelm Mill so I could treat my house to a little bit of love this Valentine’s Day. Our house is a funny place, I love the kitchen but it’s still not really finished. It’s just finishing touches left to do, but we just haven’t got round to them yet (see above for the bit about making financial sacrifices for me to stay home. One of those sacrifices came in the form of a new kettle and toaster to match my beautiful kitchen. Sob).

The rest of the house still has a long way to go, and I know it will take us years to get it all done. I’m really hoping we’ll be able to sort out our bedroom before the baby arrives in August. It’s definitely the worst room in the house (think 1970s built in wardrobes), and I really don’t want to be stuck breastfeeding all night staring at those magnolia walls. As a step in the right direction, I decided to spend the voucher on something for the bedroom, to take us just a little bit closer to my dream of having a nicer room. We decided to get some wooden blinds, I know, that’s not massively exciting, but it really is if you could see what we were using before (I can’t tell you here, because it will make you all feel too sad for me, but, erm, it wasn’t wooden blinds).

So, Laurie and Ebony headed down to Dunelm Mill to pick up some white hardwood blinds for our bedroom window. Ebony said her legs were tired, so Laurie picked her up to carry her through the shop. And then she threw up down his jumper. Like, not down the front of the jumper, which would have been bad enough, but down the neck hole. When he came home, he had a necklace of encrusted vomit. She also threw up on the floor a bit (you’re welcome, Dunelm Mill). So, Laurie brought her home, where she immediately fell asleep in my lap. There is a 48 hour rule at nursery, and Ebony managed to throw up again on Tuesday so ended up having four whole days off thanks to this sickness bug.

I was having pretty bad morning sickness at the time, so we spent our days watching each other vomit into the toilet. Ebony likes to provide a running commentary to my sickness and sometimes leans so far over the toilet to peek in that I can no longer be sick into it without spraying her head.

I was probably feeling the worse I have felt this pregnancy, so it wasn’t exactly an ideal time to have Ebony want extra attention. I mostly tried to convince her to nap during the day with me,and encouraged her to play alone when she was awake. We also played a lot of boardgames. So, I probably wasn’t the best caregiver, but I’m still glad I got to be there. Even if it means I’m now four days behind on my work. Aaaand breathe.

Monday, 8 February 2016

My Valentine's Wish List



1. One of the best and worst things about being vegan, is that it’s not always easy to get hold of the junk food you want. This is bad because junk food tastes good. But also it is good because junk food is bad, so the less chocolate I can eat, the better. Anyway, I have noticed that being pregnant means I can demand almost any food I want, and Laurie will try his best to at least appear to be trying to find it for me. So, for Valentine’s Day, what I really want is one of these vegan marshmallow waggons (yeah, vegan waggon wheels, basically). So good.

2. Continuing down the theme of vegan food, there’s another treat for the tastebuds on my wishlist this year. A meal out would be totally wasted on me now, pregnancy sickness pretty much guarantees that I’d puke the whole thing back up again. But, I hate to miss an excuse for a meal at a nice vegan restaurant, so vouchers would be ideal. We went to Lolo’s, a new vegan and raw restaurant in Ramsbottom, a couple of weeks ago. The food was amazing, unfortunately I threw it all back up, so it would be lovely to go back once this damn morning sickness passes. I did manage to try one of the vegan jaffa cakes and it was amazing.

3. I’ve started thinking more about when this baby arrives, and the various things I’ll need. Luckily, we won’t need much in the way of baby things because we have plenty of stuff stuck in the loft (and some very kind friends have offered us some extra hand-me-downs). However, I would love to be able to take some nice photographs of the new baby. When Ebony was born, I was crap with my DSLR camera so all the photos are taken with a lot of flash and very little in the way of composition. Things have improved slightly over the past four years, but it’s still something I’d like to work on. I’d love something compact that could easily be used out and about, and these Panasonic Lumix DSLRs look like they would be perfect.

4. Being 13 weeks pregnant and still fighting the waves of pregnancy sickness, this isn’t going to be the most romantic wish list ever. One thing I really want, and that has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, is a maternity pillow. I didn’t have one last time and I am forever jealous of everyone who has ever slept in such luxury. So, this time I really need one. I have no idea which one is supposed to be the best, but this Dream Genii maternity pillow looks pretty amazing.

5. Like most pregnant women, I have been dividing my time between the bed and the bath. When I am not asleep, I am sat in the bath, moaning about feeling sick. I am, truly, a joy to be around. To make those baths a little more enjoyable, I would love some new products. Lush is a personal favourite of mine, I’m a big fan of their ethics when it comes to animals, and their products smell great. I think this Ray of Sunshine gift box would be the perfect way to unwind at the end of a long nap.


Monday, 1 February 2016

10 Things I Learned During My First TV Interview



After the article about us being a vegan family appeared in the Metro last week, I got an email from an Australian breakfast TV show asking if I’d agreed to be interviewed. Sadly, they weren’t offering to fly me out to Australia, but I figured it might be worth doing anyway. I’ve never given a TV interview before, and if I ever decide to step back into my previous life as a charity campaigner, it would be useful experience to have. Also, I’m really terrible at interviews so the thought of it only appearing on Australian TV was quite appealing. I once did such a bad radio interview that I shouted at the presenter. It’s safe to say, I’m better on paper.

The show organised studio hire at Media City and the interview was pre-recorded on Saturday night. Here are some things I learnt about doing television:

1. Morning sickness lasts all day
I started throwing up at about lunch time on Saturday. I’ve basically thrown up every single food item that’s passed my lips over the past week or two. I spent most of the afternoon in bed, smelling of vomit, wishing I hadn’t agreed to go on TV. I bought some polos to take with me because last week they were helping to stop the nausea. This is not the case anymore. The polos were way too minty and made me feel even worse. I was really thirsty (side effect of all the vomiting), but every sip of water felt like a risk. There was a 40% chance I would throw up on Australian breakfast TV and ruin the reputation of vegans everywhere. Luckily, it didn’t happen, but it really could have.

2. Going to the BBC is really exciting
The email sent to the BBC to book the studio said, “The talent’s name is Fiona Peacock”. Talent, yeah. There was a pass with my name on it. It was exciting, but I played it cool in front of the security guards. The BBC studios are a lot like the studies in W1A (is that what that television show is called? The one after 2012?). There are weird circles with two chairs facing each other, they look like the setting of the world’s most awkward meeting. Nobody was sitting in them. There were a lot of screens. My dad told me I would probably be in a booth, he is an old hand at TV interviews, so I was expecting a crappy little room. Er, I don’t think so. It was a big fancy studio they use for, maybe, North West Tonight or something. I had a desk on which to place the water that was making me want to hurl, a chair on which to place my sweating butt, and a camera to awkwardly avoid eye contact with. So. Exciting.

3. You shouldn’t wear tight dresses to go on TV
Dressing for TV is probably always tricky, but it’s way harder when you’re 12 and a half weeks pregnant and fit into approximately none of your clothes. Most of my pre-pregnancy dresses are, erm, way too tight around the best, and I figured that’s the sort of thing viewers might notice. My maternity clothes are way too big, so I was left with just one dress to choose from. It’s a nice dress, but it has a tight band above the waist. This is fine until you have to try and pass a massive microphone through it in front of a stranger. Awkward.

4. Having an ear piece is the most fun thing ever
Wearing an earpiece was really fun. Like, I was a news reader or some kind of television presenter. For a while before the interview, even though I knew the technician could see me, I kept pushing it into my ear and practising my listening face. I figure the technician must see over excited interviewees all the time. I’m not letting pretending to be cool come between me and my only chance to pretend to be a TV presenter.

5. Sometimes TV presenters don’t know you can hear them
They had technical difficulties, which meant I was sat waiting for about half an hour before the interview. During this time, I could hear everything the hosts were saying. I can tell you that the male host likes to make sexual jokes about his microphone and that he’s really not on board with vegetarianism, nevermind veganism. Why would vegetarians want to eat fake meat that tastes like meat? Hahahaha. [In case you are also that ridiculous, it’s because vegetarians don’t stop eating meat because they hate the taste. It’s because they don’t want to eat animals, they might bloody love the taste. So a nice vegetarian burger that tastes like meat is right up their alley. Simple, yeah?] They were reading the article on the Metro and had stumbled across this story which they thought was the funniest thing ever (it totally is).

6. There was ‘staggering criticism’ to the Metro article
This is what the presenters said, and I’m not sure it’s really true. I mean, there were comments of course, from douchebags, but who doesn’t expect that? I saw the post shared in a lot of vegan groups, and the most critical comment I read was, “They seem to eat a lot of soya.” It cut deep. I’m assuming that’s what they what the hosts were referring to when they talking about criticism.

7. I have a northern accent
I never really hear myself, so it was a bit weird to suddenly hear my accent. It’s less Burnley than it once was, but it’s still pretty damn Burnley.

8. I should probably look at the camera more
I think I looked slightly crazy in the interview because I kept looking off to the side. This is probably because staring into a camera is terrifying. I couldn’t see the presenters, but I knew they could see me. That’s an unfair power balance. At the end of each answer, I tried to smile at the camera and each and every time ended up pulling the most mental face ever. So bad, in fact, that they cut it out of the segment by plastering a photo on the screen each time I finished a sentence. That’s how scary my nervous smile is.

9. I should have worn lip gloss
I thought lip gloss might look a bit much for breakfast TV. People would be hungover in their pyjamas, and there I would be like some cheap vegan hooker staring out at them from the TV. I thought lip balm was the way forward. But, I have now learnt, if you are drinking water whilst trying not to puke for 30 minutes before an interview, the lip balm disappears by the time you answer your first question. Next time, I’m going to wear all the lip gloss and I’m not even going to apologise if my hair gets stuck to it.

10. Even if you think people won’t see it, they will
The main reason I agreed to do it, was because I thought nobody I knew would see it. I figured it was a cheat first chance at a TV interview. I’d get to experience a TV interview without having to experience the humiliation of everyone seeing it. Remember, I once shouted at a radio presenter about my rabbits, so I didn’t really have high hopes for the interview. The problem with social media is, everything is bloody accessible to everyone now. So within hours of the video being uploaded, I’d been tagged and the video had been shared by people I know. Actually, it was ok because I didn’t shout at the hosts or vomit or look like too much of a tit. Just a bit of a tit, but that’s ok, right?

So, since it’s already out there, here you go. My first TV interview, it’s not very good, but remember, I didn’t shout about rabbits…:

Friday, 29 January 2016

7 Reasons Why I Shop Online Now I'm a Parent



I am a fan of the occasional shopping trip to buy clothes, makeup or Christmas presents. It’s nice to make a day of it, start with lunch and end with cocktails, and spend the day with someone I love. It’s not something I like to do with Ebony in tow, however. Trying to enjoy a day of shopping with a small child is, quite frankly, ridiculous. It is destined to end in tears for everyone involved. For this reason, I have embraced the wonder of online shopping. It’s just so much easier when new things appear by magic. I love not having to leave the house, especially in this weather. Here are seven reasons why online shopping is the way forwards for parents:

1. There is no extortionate Peppa Pig car ride
It is physically impossible to guide a child aged between two and four years of age past that stupid Peppa Pig car. They just need to go on it. Peppa Pig cars are like crack for preschoolers. The flashing lights, the obnoxiously loud music, the repetitive rocking mechanism that makes onlookers want to kill themselves… it lures them in. They are drawn to the Peppa Pig car ride. The Peppa Pig car ride signals the end of your day. You have two choices, either you spend all your shopping budget on the damn thing or you say no and rush straight home to list your child on eBay. Well, which is it?

2. Can eat crisp butties
When I’m shopping online, it’s totally ok for me to wear pyjamas and eat crisp butties. This is not ok in Manchester. Well, probably you could get away with the pyjamas, but the crisp butty would be pushing it. I always include lunch in a shopping trip, and for a small child, Ebony costs a ridiculous amount to feed. We might go for pizza or falafel or a burger, but it always ends up costing more than I expected. Online shopping is a good way of avoiding the extra cost of eating out.

3. Ebony can’t hide in the clothes rail
When you’re shopping online, you can be wherever you want to be. I suggest, in the comfort of your own home, surrounded by toys to distract your child. You do not have these luxuries when you are shopping in real life. In real life shops, there are no toys, unless you are in a toy shop which you shouldn’t be because this is a shopping trip for you. Your child will use their ‘wonderful imagination’ to create their own games. These games will mostly consist of hiding inside circular clothes rails whilst you run frantically round the shop trying to find them. One shopping trip in a busy city will age you approximately five years. Shop online, it’s better for your mental health.

4. Can use discount codes
Discount codes are the best, aren’t they? Everytime I buy something online, I do a quick search to see if there are any valid discount codes available. If you’re shopping at JCPenney, for example, simply search for JCPenney discount codes and you should be able to see if there are any working codes available. It only takes a few minutes and can save you a decent amount off your purchase. This is something that can only be done online, I would never walk into an actual shop and ask the shop assistant if I could get a discount, but it’s totally not embarrassing to do online.

5. Don’t have to make diversions
Any parent will tell you that certain shops have to be avoided at all cost. For me, it’s the Disney shop. I physically cannot drag my daughter past that damn shop. The ridiculously huge eyes of the princess hypnotise her into a consumer-trance and she gravitates towards the shop. Once in there, she will touch each and every single thing on sale asking if she can have it. After 45 minutes of extreme product touching, I invariably agree she can have something. I then spend another 20 minutes trying desperately to find the cheapest thing in the shop. Guess what? It’s an Inside Out toothpick and it costs £15. Great.

6. No snacks needed
Probably about 80% of my income goes on snacks. Ebony could happily snack all day long. She loves fruit, she loves crackers and hummus, she loves raisins, she loves gingerbread men, she loves falafel. She loves all the food. Everytime I take her into Manchester, I spend a fortune on snacks. Also, I am then forced to carry around half eaten snacks for the rest of the day. This does not happen at home when I am shopping online.

7. No distractions
Online shopping happens at one shop. You pick your shop, but your stuff in the basket, pay for it and move on with your life. You go straight to the shop website by searching for it on Google, you aren’t forced to walk past hundreds of other shops on the way there. This is always my downfall with real life shopping. I physically cannot walk past shops. I must go in. What if they have that thing I want? What thing? Pah, there was no thing, I tricked you and now look, I’ve bought another skirt ha. Evil high street.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Little News



I have a little news to share today, I’m pregnant. I’ve just got home from the dating scan, and this baby will be born sometime around the 10 August. Estimated due dates are, obviously, a load of wank, but even though I know this, I’ll be expecting the baby to arrive promptly three days late just like Ebony did.

Even though this pregnancy is already really different to my last, I can’t help but imagine everything being exactly the same as it was last time. It’s hard to think of the baby as anything other than Ebony (sorry, new baby), my imagination is so hindered by the four year sleep debt that I’ve accrued that I simply can’t think outside the box anymore, apparently.

Ebony came to the scan with us. My dad kept her busy in the waiting room until we knew everything was ok, and then Laurie went to get her. She seemed pretty fascinated by the ultrasound probe, but told me later that she was disappointed she didn’t get to see the gel going on.

When we went to Ebony’s scan, I was only about ten and a half weeks pregnant and it’s crazy how much of a difference that week and a half made. This baby looked a little bit more like a baby and a little less like an alien (sorry, Ebony) and was moving around a lot. The ultrasound scan seemed to be over in minutes and didn’t feel as scary as it did last time. As soon as I knew there was a baby and a heartbeat, I felt like I could just relax and enjoy seeing the baby.

We decided not to have the nuchal translucency test, so the whole appointment didn’t take very long at all. Ebony wanted a photograph of the baby to keep for herself, so we got an extra one printed out. It seems to be printed on the thinnest paper imaginable so I can’t imagine it will last very long in Ebony’s care.

I’ve been writing weekly updates throughout the pregnancy, so will upload those over the next week or so. I want to say next few days, but all I do at the moment is sleep, throw up and moan so it might actually take me a while to get around to doing it.

Ebony is really excited to be a big sister. After initially being set upon a little sister, I think we’ve managed to convince her that boys and girls are the same, so it doesn’t make any difference what sex the baby is (I obviously don’t really believe this because I like tiny newborn dresses, but it’s important to set a good example).

The baby should hopefully arrive about a month before Ebony starts school, which I think is pretty good timing. Laurie is planning to take a month off work so hopefully that will allow for a smooth transition from a family of three to a family of four. Four! Holy crap.

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