Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Only silly people do housework during a heatwave, and other realisations

It's so flipping flopping hot.

Why am I always pregnant when there's a heatwave? Last year, I can't remember there being a heatwave like this. Or the year before that. 2013, though? Heatwave. When I was eight months pregnant and working full time in a nursery on my feet all day feeling like I was slowly suffocating minute by minute.

This year? Pregnant. Heatwave.

I actually haven't been coping too badly this time, mainly because I have been able to stay at home, and therefore wander around in minimal clothing, and because we have a paddling pool, which is currently my favourite thing that we own. I'm also only just twenty weeks pregnant, meaning that I'm not yet at the stage where I feel like I'm carrying around a giant watermelon in my belly. Which helps.

Yes of course you can use my legs as a water slide for your toys. Anything you like. Just don't make me move from here ever.

Speaking of. I convinced myself that my twenty week scan was on Wednesday. It was actually on Tuesday. I realised this on Tuesday about ten minutes before I had to leap in a taxi to go there.

Yet another spectacularly stupid pregnancy brain moment.

This baby looks like Jellybean did in her twenty week scan (I thought, as I lay on the bed, sweating and getting over a minor quick-we've-got-ten-minutes-to-get-out-of-the-house panic attack). Same lips, same nose (what I saw of them). Which is lovely, and suddenly the whole thing seems very real and it also seems a million years until it is actually born. Jellybean feels the same way. She made this very clear when she threw herself onto our bed the evening after the scan and started moaning whyyyy isn't it Christmas time when the baby is coming TOMORROW?

People laugh at us in England because we spend approximately 95% of the time whinging about how cold it is. The other 5% we reserve for moaning about how hot it is. But seriously, we aren't built for any kind of extreme weather. Nowhere has air conditioning. When you do find a place with air con, you see loads of people lingering around making excuses to stay longer. Or you see people hanging around for an unreasonably long time in the freezer aisles in supermarkets. Because they are the only cool places in the world.

It is seriously hot though. Last night I was lying perfectly still, like a statue, and I was still covered in a sheen of sweat.

It is the opposite of fun at night. It is unfun.

Anyway, I caught myself doing housework today. Non-essential housework. (Cleaning the kitchen a bit and spilling up puddles so no one slips over is, in my mind, essential housework. Also washing because it's warm and all our clothes dry fast). Then I thought: why? Why am I doing this? Will the house fall down if I don't do this? No. So don't do it.

I seriously need to get rid of this stupid idea that my brain has, where I can't relax until the house looks reasonably tidy. It is July. I am trying to write a novel in a month. I'm having to keep my own bad temper in check whilst dealing with a grumpy overheated toddler. Also, my pelvic joint pain is back, meaning that at any moment, my leg feels like it might just go numb and collapse from underneath me. Collapsing in any way, shape, or form, is not ideal whilst carrying a person inside you.

So anyway, I told myself off. Shut up, brain. No housework on stupidly hot days for anyone. It is just not worth the extra movement. I give you all permission to do the same. Flop on the sofa in your pants and eat a Solero or something. It's all about survival, people!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Summer reading list 2016!

Hey! I recently treated myself to a new book or seven and so I thought it might be a good time to do a little summer reading list. Long, hazy (and probably rainy) days are perfect for reading, right? Mind you I think ALL days are perfect for reading no matter what's going on around me. Anyway, I love reading these posts on other people's blogs. I like sharing in other people's happy reading-planning-joy. So here's mine:

1. Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer

Annoyingly this is not the cover I have for this book! My covers look like this:

Beautiful, beautiful books.

Acceptance is the final part of a sci-fi trilogy about Area X, a mysterious wilderness shut off from the general public. One by one, a secret agency called the Southern Reach send teams of investigators into the area to discover its secrets, and quickly discover that they are fighting a losing battle with something way more powerful than they could have imagined.

The first book in this series, Annihilation, had my heart racing the entire time. The second, Authority, dragged on a little bit but had genuinely terrifying moments. I have high hopes for the finale!

2. Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

I read another book by Bessey, Jesus Feminist, earlier this year, and it had a profoundly healing impact on me. Out of Sorts discusses what happens when your faith evolves into something different than it was before - on how to handle the journey. I've started to read it already and even the introduction had me welling up. What I love about Bessey is that she is so kind-hearted and gentle, that even when she is speaking strongly and passionately about things she cares about, she still manages to exude grace and love.

I only wish I'd downloaded it a year ago!

3. The Surf Guru Stories by Doug Dorst

Doug Dorst is the writer of S, a book I recently wrote a lengthy and excited review of. This is a collection of short stories written by him. I really enjoyed Dorst's writing style, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into these.

4. Becoming Unbecoming by Una

This year I really wanted to get into graphic novels, because it turns out there's a world of them out there that aren't to do with a) superheroes or b) zombies. Becoming Unbecoming has been on my list since before Christmas, and I picked it up in Foyles last week for my birthday. 

To give you an idea of what it looks like:

Amazon describes it as 'a devastating personal account of gender violence', one woman's (true, real life) journey in a world where violence against women is both accepted and normalised. Not an easy read, but an important one.

5. I'll Give You The Sun - Jandy Nelson

It's not a summer reading list without a bit of YA, right? 

I'll Give You the Sun tells the story of Jude and Noah, twins driven apart by a tragedy. The book chronicles their journey to reconciliation (at least that's what it looks like anyway). It's been described as 'blazing' 'dazzling' and 'heartbreakingly honest' and I expect I'll finish it in a day because I can't put these kind of books down once I start them.

6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I know next to nothing about this book other than the fact that is a) supposed to be thrilling and b) topping every best seller list at the moment. I nearly picked it up on holiday and chose a Dawn French book instead which I hated (oh the regret!). It is a psychological thriller about a girl. On a train. Can't wait to find out what all the fuss is about.

7. The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner

Ever feel like every day is the same and you just don't have enough time in the day to do anything for yourself? Have you hit the point where you feel so ground down by meeting everyone's needs that you've forgotten what yours are?

This book may well be for you.

Written for busy, exhausted people, The Fringe Hours is described as a 'permission slip to carve out some space in your day for the things that give you joy and feed your soul'. It is apparently packed with tips and creative ideas to do with time management and prioritising. Which sounds very useful to me.

8 The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

This is a feminist classic, the kind of book that crops up in every blog post and discussion I read about standards of beauty and the pressures women face to look perfect. I've wanted to read this for so long, but never got round to ordering it, and then realised there is a short edition on the Kindle for £3.49, so I'm going to give it a go.

Wolf explores the topics of beauty, youthfulness and the pressure to conform to impossible beauty standards. I expect to come away from this book feeling fired up.

So, have you got any books picked out for the summer? Let me know what you're reading!

Linking up with:

Pink Pear Bear

Brilliant blog posts on

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

All My Unwise Ways

I turned 28 yesterday!

This time a decade ago I was just turning 18. Going from teenager to Officially An Adult. Depending on my mood, it either feels like an age ago with a vast ocean of experiences between now and then, or a moment that has slid by in a flash.

A couple of birthdays ago I wrote a blog post about things I have learnt from growing slowly older. I don't feel like doing that today (is that a reflection on me having learnt nothing since I wrote the last one? Not sure). Today, I feel like telling you all the things that I have not learnt to do very well despite growing older by the day. So in the spirit of self-deprecation:

Seven Things I Suck At

1) Taking care of house plants. Our house is where plants come to die. I'm sorry. Our outside plants seem to do quite well, mainly because nature takes care of them. We only remember to water the inside ones when they look like they are about to drop dead. I've got two house plants that have survived our married life, and I genuinely don't know how they keep hanging in there.

2) Engaging in real life debate. I am the neurotic person that will lie in bed after having a good discussion with people and be internally berating myself for forgetting all the clever things I was supposed to say. Doesn't matter how well informed I am on a subject or how well I know people. Stick me in a group of people having a heated discussion and my brain leaves the building, taking all my helpful pre-prepared facts with it. I'm also really, REALLY scared of offending people. It's like I took the childhood lesson 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all' and distilled it down to a fine concentrate of 'just don't say anything at all.'

3) Keeping on top of Life Stuff. Every now and then I do some mundane house thing - like clearing out the cupboard under the stairs or finally emptying the washing basket - and I feel the most smug I ever feel in my life, and I think to myself, without a trace of irony or self-doubt, 'Never again will I let this thing get on top of me. From now on I will keep on top of things because that is what grown ups do.' Two weeks later you will find me weeping into a full laundry basket. Which leads me onto...

4) Not crying at stupid moments I cry when I'm angry. It is without doubt the most frustrating thing about myself. Inside I could be bubbling with rage like a volcano about to erupt and on the outside I look like a sad, wounded puppy. NO! My tears do two things. They elicit sympathy, which is frankly the last thing I want from someone I am arguing with. And they make me even more frustrated. Which, guess what? Makes me cry more. I give up on myself.

5) Understanding how maths works. The other day I considered asking a very knowledgeable friend how the pound works. How do people know the pound is weakening? Who officially decides and announces this? I decided in the end not to ask because I know I won't get it. I'm not playing up my dumbness here: something happens in my mind when people start talking numbers and it's like all I can hear after a few seconds is just tuneless roaring in my head. I do genuinely want to know these things: I just can't.

6) Being a grown woman Occasionally I watch YouTube videos to teach me how to do 'girl stuff' properly, and I resolve to change from now on. Then they start saying ridiculous things like 'make sure you remove your make-up every night' and 'don't let your toenail varnish get chipped because it looks scruffy' and I realise I am never going to change and it's not worth even trying.

7) Knowing where I am going This is a bit of a stretch, because I'm not entirely bad at knowing where I am. Once I've walked somewhere once, I've got it. My feet seem to memorise pavements. On the other hand, while I'm good at taking in landmarks and things to see along the way, road names? Nope. This is not at all helped by the fact that once in a car, I shut out the rest of the world and go into a daydream immediately (you might be relieved to hear that I don't drive).

And Two Things I Am Good At

1) Being grateful for people who are good at the things I am rubbish at Really, I truly am happy to have people in my life that are good at the things I am not good at. We all work together. Like separate pieces of a big happy puzzle.

2) Realising it's okay to not be good at stuff. The older I get the more I poke fun at myself. But also, the more I realise it's okay to let things go. Some things I get better at with time, other things I plan to get round to conquering sometime in the future. Some things just aren't worth the effort in changing. I'm not superwoman. Doesn't make me less needed or valued: just means I don't stress out so much.

Here's to another awesome year of growing older but perhaps not wiser in everything ;)


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