Midweek Musings: New skincare faves

Right, I promise today to not talk about babies or toddlers or anything mummy related. Instead, I thought I'd do a quick post on my two favourite things from my wonderful Liberty beauty advent calendar. And a quick note about that too: it was flipping expensive but really it was worth every penny, I LOVED opening it each day and best of all getting to try lots of different products that I would never normally even know about. So totally worth treating yourself if you can spare the dosh. This year, I think I'll try the Lookfantastic one, as I've heard good things about that too, and it seems to have more make-up in it (the Liberty one was quite skincare heavy). But I'm getting ahead of myself...

There were some real gems in the Liberty advent calendar. And only a few duds - as I said on Twitter I'm fairly sure that Night Brow Balm is a solution looking for a problem, and as for the two tubes of mini toothpaste - fancy they may be but still, meh.

But there are two products I've repurchased - here they are and here's why...

Eve Lom Cleanser

I know tons has been written about this already and it's also a bit controversial because it has mineral oil (Vaseline to you and me) in it, but it's literally THE BEST CLEANSER I HAVE EVER USED. It has truly transformed by skin. I was using Clinique's Take The Day Off before and while it did the job it also dried my skin out quite a bit. But the Eve Lom stuff seems to both exfoliate and leave my skin super baby soft, not a hint of tightness or dryness. It also comes with the best muslin cloth I have ever used (if you don't fancy the cleanser, maybe treat yourself to some of these instead - you can buy them in packs of three). Now, it's ridiculously expensive, and I used the entire advent-calendar pot up before buying it as I wanted to be sure sure sure before I splashed out that kind of dough, but no regrets. It means I need less moisturiser after and I've also given up my Alpha H Liquid Gold (which was great but did freak me out a bit with the burning sensation) because it seems to exfoliate so beautifully I don't need it. Hurrah. It's a bit smelly (I quite like the smell myself, clove oil I think!) so it's definitely worth testing before taking the plunge, but I'm a real convert and heartily recommend.

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Moisturiser

This is a super boring looking bottle and a very underwhelming product to use. It has no discernible smell and the texture is quite thin. But it's amazing! It leaves my skin soft and happy without being shiny at all (no need for loads of powder throughout the day) and it hasn't clogged up my pores or broken me out. Also quite pricey, but another one I really recommend - it's apparently great for sensitive skin too. A bit of an obscure brand (and I wish they could have put a BIT more effort into the packaging because it's THIRTY NINE BLOODY QUID AND I WANT SOMETHING PRETTY FOR THAT) but totally worth checking out if you want something non-perfumed and kind to your skin that does the job.

Both of these are available at Space NK so I am sure you can get samples if you fancy testing them out. I also loved the Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle Balm, but it's just stupid money, and the Laura Mercier hydrating primer, which really does help your foundation stick around.

Midweek Musings: Belated Resolutions

Might as well, right?

Might as well, right?

I'm a bit of a grumpy cow when it comes to actually celebrating New Year's Eve (as I've said before I'm allergic to organised fun), and this year was no exception. However, there's definitely something to be said for feeling refreshed and coming to the year anew, rethinking all that's gone before and deciding on some changes.

So, a little bit late I know, but here are my new year's resolutions:

Lose some bloody weight

Now, I'm not the sort of person who really obsesses about their weight but that's because up until about two years before I got pregnant I could eat whatever I liked and I really didn't put any weight on. But then my metabolism changed completely, and suddenly I understood all the neuroticism surrounding food. When I was pregnant I decided it didn't bloody matter what I weighed so long as the baby was growing (which she wasn't - cue my excuse to eat even more). Then I gave birth and felt a bit horrified by my new figure, and worked a bit to get some of those maternal fat stores off. But then Daph decided to stop sleeping. And we moved house to somewhere where the car is needed to get to most places, meaning I don't even get to go for long walks anymore. And then it got cold and then it was Christmas and I ATE ALL THE THINGS. And now I am about half a stone heavier than I was in the summer, and I actually feel gross. So yes, new year's resolution no 1 is the most boring and predictable one of all but I must stop EATING ALL THE THINGS. Specifically, sugar. And get off my arse more. I'm back doing the XBX plan which I love (apart from the lateral bends which are bloody HORRID), and once the weather warms up, intend to start jogging again.

Stop spending so much money

I'm not terrible with money - I don't really have any debt apart from my mortgage, but neither do I have a pension and I only save enough dosh each year to pay my tax bill in January. From next month I'll be getting less income each month (long and complicated story, but some of my revenue from selling my business was deferred, and this comes to an end next month). So I need to stop buying things on a whim. I am a terrible whim-buyer - I see things I like and I buy them, without really thinking twice. Stupid stuff like coffees I don't really need, a new umbrella because it's prettier than my old one, another lipstick that's identical to one I already own but a different brand etc etc. If frittering money away was an Olympic sport I'd ace it. So I've started a new budget - actually written down all my outgoings on a spreadsheet and given myself a fixed sum each month to spend on crap clothes, beauty etc. It's not much but it should be enough to get by. Just to prove I'm down with the zeitgeist, I'm calling it Mindful Spending.

Read more books

I make this resolution every year. It's pretty obvious. Stop pissing time away on Facebook at night and instead spend more time with my Kindle. Specifically I'd like to read some more classics, rather than just stuff that's in the bestseller lists. I didn't do English A Level (and I call myself a writer - shock horror!) and there are some serious gaps in my reading that I'd like to fill (Oli was disgusted to hear that I'd never read Wuthering Heights last week when we were watching the Bronte programme on BBC... *hangs head in shame*).

Sort out my career

Ah the biggie! I am trying, honestly. I have been totally lost in sleep-deprived motherhood career-wise and I have so many thoughts on it all that I'd love to clarify in my own mind (do I try to find a full-time job? set up another company? continue freelancing in an industry that inconsiderately decided to die on its arse while I was off having a baby? retrain as a librarian? (seriously, have been considering this!) if not then what what what?) and then share, but I don't have time because, well, I'm a mother. So yes, more soon. Hopefully. Once Daph's settled into the childminder!

Midweek Musings: Life updates

life-update-lifebylotte Long time no blog. I apologise. If I'm honest, I've been a bit stuck for topics. Now Daphne is older, there isn't so much to write about her on a regular basis (although she's changing all the time, of course, it's all quite subtle now and we've settled into a reasonably happy routine). I'd love to blog about the house but the truth is we've done a big fat NADA to it since we moved in. I don't know how people manage to do up houses with babies/jobs/lives.

But here are a few little updates, just to reassure you I haven't died:

  1. We have found a childminder! From January, Daphne will be going to a lovely lady in the village next to ours for one day per week. Even this feels slightly traumatic/scary, but at the same time, incredibly exciting as it means a whole day to myself to do whatever I like! Well, mostly work, of course, but still. I will have time to reply to emails, to plan stuff, to get ahead, to work on my book... I cannot wait.
  2. I have finished the first draft of my novel. It's a bit of a mess (a massive mess in fact) but still, I'm really pleased as now I finally know what the story is about, and how to fix it. I had my critiquing session with my group at the Faber Academy last week (we share our first 5000 words with each other and give feedback) and it went really well, which was reassuring. I am sure it's super boring reading on a blog about someone working on a book, but I have and I'm afraid it has been taking up most of my headspace lately, leaving little room for anything else. But I'm going to have a bit of a break from it over Christmas, and then get stuck in with the redraft in January. If anyone's interested as to what it's about, let's just say it's about new motherhood not turning out exactly how someone had planned...
  3. And on that note... I've been having a real think about the blog lately. When I first started blogging after Daph was born, it was as an outlet for all the experiences I was going through that felt so alien and new. But now I feel a bit more sorted (not much, but a bit) and also more like I should stop with the oversharing, as if I'm honest, I don't think it'll help me try to relaunch a career (more on that in a minute). So I'm trying to work out how the blog can fit into this new way of thinking. I don't go to glamorous events anymore. My restaurant review days are well and truly over. My life on a day to day basis is incredibly mundane. I'm not one of those supermums who does crafts round the clock with their offspring, providing plenty of blog fodder. I could blog more about interiors, but somehow that doesn't feel like it fits with the content I already have on here (plus there are a gazillion interiors blogs out there already). So yes. I need to make some decisions. I want to know what people find (and don't find) interesting, so if you fancy sharing what YOU want to read about, that would be awesome and very helpful. I try to be honest about motherhood, and these posts do seem to be the most popular, but then I worry I sound like a right moaner... Generally it seems my real life friends like reading the personal stuff as a way of keeping up to date with my life when everyone's so busy, but for those who don't, I'm sure it's a massive snorefest. Pondering pondering... and open to suggestions!
  4. Careers. Hmm, I shouldn't write much about this really, but I am feeling so so saddened by the state of my former industry (magazine journalism). I haven't done proper journalism for ages now, just bits and bobs here and there, but still, it was a bloody awesome job while it lasted. I found out the other day that the interiors website I worked on for four years from launch has been rebranded and basically turned into a shadow of its former self, with loads of staff being made redundant. I nearly wept! It is crazy how journalism has just died a death thanks to the internet. So yes, in 2017 I need to start making some firm decisions about what the hell I am going to focus on for the rest of my working life. SCARY stuff. I have written a list of priorities for my new career, top of which is not having to commute into London every day. More on that soon...

Midweek Musings: Simple pleasures

small-pleasures-3-lifebylotte Blame the fact I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale at the moment, blame the fact that November seems to be dragging on unbearably long, blame the fact that I haven't been out for dinner with friends for nearly ten weeks now as I've been totally housebound six nights a week, meaning adult conversation is somewhat limited - whatever it is, I've been in a very reflective mood lately.

The other night, I made Oli do some silly quiz someone had posted on Facebook - a bit like Mr & Mrs, you had to answer questions about the other person. One of them was 'What do you like the most about me?' and, somewhat incredibly I think, Oli said my 'positivity'. I nearly fell out of bed (we were just about to go to sleep). I try very hard to stay positive, but I do have a tendency to moan on - for me a bit of whinging is cathartic and I do love a good rant. Generally speaking though, I'm quite a content person. When I moan I'm trying to make light of things - it's my way of dealing with stuff, trying to turn it into some silly exaggerated joke.

Having said that, I have been trying really hard to be positive lately, which has been really tough, given the state of the world in general. There's an interesting message in The Handmaid's Tale which basically says 'we didn't know how good we had it until it all changed' and that's kind of how I feel about the state of things world-wise at the moment. It's all very good thinking change will be better, but what if it's not, what if it's worse?

small-pleasures-lifebylotte

Anyway, in order to counteract this rather deep-seated sense of malaise and fear - especially as I have a little one to think of, imagining the world she's coming into is terrifying quite frankly - I've been trying to appreciate the small things in life. Each day, trying to live in the present (which is one of my top tips for coping with life in general actually). I do think having a baby makes you appreciate the simple things - it's a cliche because it's true. I used to be all about fancy events, expensive clothes and handbags and, well... showing off, and while I do still like most of these things (!), they seem to come at a price. But it's the little things that now bring me those small thrills of excitement, like you used to get as a kid.

So, here are a few of my simple pleasures. Things that make me smile. I'd love to hear yours too.

small-pleasures2-lifebylotte

  1. Cold walks wrapped in big coats. Watching my breath mist in the air.
  2. Online shopping arriving (especially when it's something cute for the baby).
  3. The smell of Christmas candles. Candles in general. Let's be honest, they don't have quite the same effect on long summer evenings.
  4. Lebkuchen.
  5. My daily gin and tonic once the baby is asleep at 7pm.
  6. Writing. It's been hard - I've written about 76,000 words now, done over just nine weeks, and am nearly finished with the first draft. But it's so satisfying to be working on something that I feel passionate about.
  7. My blow fan heater. Economical it may not be, but god that thing brings me joy. #toastytoes
  8. The baby running around naked before her bath every night and being ridiculously excited about it.
  9. Getting a decent night's sleep after a year of not doing so. Just waking up and not feeling exhausted is amazing - I will never take sleep for granted again!
  10. The Missing. I don't watch much telly at all, but this is addictively good and I get very excited when I realise it's Wednesday and there's another episode on.
  11. Christmas coffees - OK, they are responsible for around half a stone in weight gain each year but still. No one has to see my white flabby thighs, it's winter.
  12. And on that note... no one has to see my white flabby thighs, it's winter. I don't have to shave my legs every day and faff about with fake tan. Hurrah for low-maintenance beauty.
  13. The colour of the leaves on the trees outside my office window. It's insanely beautiful. I have tried photographing them but my windows need cleaning and the pictures don't do them justice. Instead, please enjoy these recent pics by my professional photographer sister. Suffice to say, nature beats everything.

Oh god, have I just described hygge? Shoot me now.

small-pleasures4-lifebylotte

End-of-week Musings: the UK cat killer

percy3 Apologies! This post is late - again. I've had food poisoning/norovirus (no idea how you tell the difference) over the past few days and have been in an absolute state. On the mend now finally, thanks to lots of rest and dioralyte.

This week I wanted to do a quick post about the UK cat killer. A bit random, I know, but actually it's something I've been following lately and it's really upset me. For those not in the know, there's a horrible sick git out there taking great pleasure in killing (often decapitating) cats late at night, and leaving them for their owners to find. There's been more than 100 confirmed murders now, most of which have taken place around the M25. But the police are still no closer to catching the person responsible.

I wanted to write about this because since we moved house, we've wondered what to do about Percy and his access to the garden. We have a cat flap in our living room, but as our downstairs is completely open plan this means he can come and go as he pleases, leaving a trail of muddy footprints across our carpet/rug/sofa/dining table/everything (he loves the new garden, and he especially loves digging in the mud). So when we go to bed, we've taken to shutting him in the downstairs loo (should add, it's quite a big loo!), with his bed, litter tray and food etc. It feels quite mean to have him confined to a relatively small area all night, and we were considering getting a cat flap fitted on the loo window too so he could get outside that way, but we've decided not to do that until this terrible person has been caught. It's just not worth the risk.

So yes, that's what I wanted to say really. Just in case you hadn't heard about it and have a cat that you love and want to keep safe! Please spread the word. The official advice from the people investigating this killer is to keep your cats indoors at night - most of the killings have taken place over night. If you want to read more about it, there's an animal rescue organisation in South Norwood (the killings started in Croydon) who have all the information you could need, and there's lots of stuff in the press too. This is a good article.

Midweek Musings: Crushed fingers and karma

crushed-fingers-lifebylotte Sooo, there was meant to be a really fascinating (!) blog post coming your way over the weekend but then on Saturday I decided to shut the car door on my hand. This happened just as I'd met up with a friend and her four-year-old for lunch, and yes of course I had the baby with me and of course it was my right hand and of course I was parked somewhere I shouldn't have been about half an hour from home. And of course it was a Saturday and Oli was at work until 10.30pm.  So that was quite fun. We made it to lunch in the end, and everyone in Pizza Express was very kind and no one said anything about the fact that one of my hands was wrapped in a muslin soaked in blood. Hope it didn't put anyone off their pizzas.

The upshot of this moment of clumsiness is that I am now unable to use my right-hand ring finger - I don't think it's broken as it's not wonky and I can bend it without it hurting too much, but my fingernail is clinging on somewhat precariously and underneath it is an interesting black-blue-red pattern, complete with dried blood that I'm too scared to pick off. Oh and it keeps oozing too. Lovely. So, I've been trying to type as little as possible, hence the lack of blog post this weekend. I have to say, it's amazing a) how painful just crushing even one finger is and b) how much you need your bloody fingers. OK, I know that sounds really obvious but even washing my hair in the shower has been a challenge. I also seem to constantly be knocking it on things and it feels as though someone is electrocuting it each time - unbelievable how many nerve endings are bundled up in your fingertip. Ouch ouch ouch.

Along with that joy, I have also caught a cold and given it to Daph. Just last week I was smugly telling Oli that I 'never get colds' (while he was sniffling away) and so I am now a walking, snotty example that karma does exist and karma will get you. Daph seems to be faring better than me, but she still has a little bit of a chesty cough which sounds so cute and heartbreaking all at the same time.

So yes, with that cheery update, I will bid you farewell till next week!

PS I am up to 22k words on the novel. Woo!

Midweek Musings: Writing and Dancing

the-last-tango-press-night-lifebylotte Hello hello, sorry I haven't done a midweek catch up for a couple of weeks (and this one is a day late). Sometimes I get all cringey at myself and think, god Charlotte, midweek musings, what are you on about, who the F cares? But then I remember that, er, I care, and it's nice to have these little diary entries to look back on. Especially since I have the memory of an aged goldfish.

So, yes, it's been a busy old week or so. Oli opened with his show, The Last Tango. In case you haven't heard about it, or seen the posters on the tube, it's another dance show from the very lovely Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone, and Oli sings all the songs for it. On stage. He had to learn 17 songs for this show, which made for an interesting (read: stressful) two weeks when he was in rehearsal... But it's opened now, and is going well, and he's had some fab reviews which always makes me all proud and glowy inside. I went along to the press do last week with my sister and it was full of folk from Strictly, who are all universally lovely, it seems. There were also a few slebs there, but I'm pretty shocking at having a clue who people are (I swear I could be stood next to Angelina Jolie in Boots* and have no idea who she was), so my sister had to fill me in. Unlike at the press night for Oli's last show, she didn't get drunk and offend Brendan Cole (long story). No gossip, everyone was very well behaved. And everyone I spoke to told me how proud I must be of Oli, and how fabulous his singing is, which is always cheering.

On the subject of dancing, someone else in our family has decided to try it (I say someone else, Oli can't dance for toffee, and neither can I). We noticed this week that little Daph has now started bopping her body about when she hears music - it is SO. BLOODY. CUTE. She can even keep time pretty well - it's sooo sweet and funny. Especially as she doesn't really smile while doing it, which makes it seem like some kind of strange involuntary reaction - CAN HEAR MUSIC, MUST MOVE BODY kind of thing. Babies are amazing.

In other news, I started my six-month Writing a Novel course at the Faber Academy last week and am enjoying it immensely. Aside from anything else, it's so lovely having something to get a bit dressed up for (this sounds wrong, afear ye not, I'm not turning up in stilettos and a ball gown - I just mean putting on something other than stained jeans and a t shirt) and it's fab to be using my brain again and talking to creative types. We're in groups of 15, and my group is a really eclectic mix of screenwriters, actors, lawyers, journalists, film producers and even an architect. The best thing about this course so far is that every exercise is focused on the novel you are meant to be writing, so everything is relevant - there's no pointless academia or tests or anything like that. I've been making quite good progress with my novel, and I'm up to 12,000 words now. I'm setting myself a target of 10,000 words a week, which is pretty ambitious, but I'm at home five nights a week alone while Oli is working on this show, so I figure I ought to be able to get 2000 words done each time. Obviously this is creating the very model of a shitty first draft, but that's OK. I want to get my first draft finished by Christmas, so I can edit it next term. Fingers crossed!

*an unlikely scenario, granted

Midweek Musings: eBay agony and parenting solo again

lifebylotte-midweek-musings My god I am knackered! Oli has been leaving for rehearsals this week at 8.30am and getting home at 11pm (which I am sure is against EU working hours but anyway). And Daph has suddenly turned into Mrs Clingy/Whiny, and now shrieks if I'm not in the same room as her and looking at the exact same thing as her ALL THE TIME.

NO MUMMY YOU MAY NOT PASS GO AND GO TO THE TOILET FOR TWO MINS. NO MUMMY YOU MAY NOT DRINK OUT OF THAT GLASS. I WANT THAT GLASS! NO MUMMY YOU MAY NOT CHECK YOUR EMAILS GIVE ME YOUR PHONE NOW NOW NOW. NO MUMMY HOW DARE YOU TRY TO EAT SOMETHING OFF YOUR PLATE I WANT IT EVEN THOUGH THE EXACT SAME THING IS ON MY PLATE.

She's also started pulling on my trouser legs, which is kind of cute but actually quite painful when she decides to headbutt my shins. I need ALL the gin tonight, I tell you.

I have to say too what an ABSOLUTE IDIOT I was for gloating about her sleeping through the night in my last post, as she has now decided to do the most weird random wake ups ever. Her naps have also gone to pot over the last few days - 20 minute crap naps are the order of the day and then she wakes up screaming. God knows what's going on in her little brain but I think it must be developmental as I can see her personality changing a lot too. Oh, and she is very definitely pointing - hurrah! And also giving 'cuddles' (launching herself at you and biting the nearest piece of your clothing with an impressive intensity as she buries her head in your shoulder) and 'kisses' (blowing raspberries against your cheek) if you ask her. Which is just about cute enough to stop me leaving her out for the bin men.

In other news, we decided to sell some furniture on eBay last week and my god, what an absolute pigging palaver it has been. I do NOT recommend it. Not only is eBay's UI ridiculously un-user friendly, trying to sell something is also the most complicated process ever known to mankind. I just want £300 for this furniture right? I added a Buy it Now price but missed the fact that there's a 'Best Offer' button you need to untick, and so I am receiving offers left right and centre, accompanied by passive aggressive emails from strangers telling me to 'get back to me soon yeah so we can get this thing sorted', even though they've offered £100 less than I wanted. Then there's another handful of cheery chaps who keep trying to offer me cash and do it all outside of eBay, excusing the derisory amounts they're proposing by claiming I'd pay the difference on fees if I went through eBay officially. Then there's people asking me to arrange couriers for them. I did actually manage to sell one piece for the amount I wanted but now eBay keeps deleting my messages to the buyer because I want to include my contact details (which is fair enough right, when you've already sold something!?), causing all manner of bloody confusion.

I just want someone to buy this friggin furniture for the price I have asked and come and collect it themselves. How can it be so complicated? HOW! I want to defect to Gumtree (in hindsight I should have just done Gumtree to start with) but eBay keeps telling me I can't cancel the listing because I have offers I haven't responded to or something... I mean, god. Life is too short to spend two hours a night emailing people called chelseaponies354 and cables4u976 haggling over a tenner. How do people do this for a living?!

Midweek Musings: Exciting news and Daph updates

lifebylotte-daphne Phew! It's been a busy old week. Oli has started rehearsing for his new show, which has meant childcare musical chairs for everyone so that I can still do my in-house office work. Again, thank god for my mum. It'd be so much easier to get Daph a childminder sometimes but I don't think anyone would have us with our annoyingly inconsistent hours.

But anyway, the future is looking a bit different (read: exciting!) for me, as I found out last week that I got a place on the Faber Academy 'Writing a Novel' course. I applied a few months ago and it's been literal agony waiting to hear if I got on - I even googled myself into insanity by finding someone on Mumsnet who had applied for the same course and was offered a place about a month ago. I was convinced, therefore, that I hadn't got on.

For those not in the know, it's a six-month course, run by publishers Faber & Faber and based in their Bloomsbury office. It's spawned a load of exciting writers, including SJ Watson (Before I Go To Sleep) and numerous book deals. It's not cheap, and even though a few of my friends said I was mad to apply because a) one of its main aims is to get you a literary agent and I already have one and b) I could just spend the money on clothes and write the damn book on my own, I really really love working with others and meeting new people and collaborating and just sharing experiences. I'm a bit of a sucker for training/education in that sense. And it gives me a goal - I'd like to finish the first draft of the new book I've just started by the end of the course, and doing it also means I HAVE to take writing seriously for the next few months. It's so easy with writing to let it fall to the back burner in favour of bread and butter stuff (which is obviously essential!) but I feel a bit like it's 'now or never' for me. I'm really lucky in that I've still got money left from selling my business so I can afford to have a career break right now. Although I am still working a couple of days a week too, as well as doing my half of the childcare... hmm, hopefully my social life will still be there when I'm done?!

Oh, and eeep, the course I'm doing is run by Joanna Briscoe. Even more exciting. If a little intimidating.

Anyway, before I found out I got a place I started writing something new. Something a little bit different and a little bit risky but I'm feeling fired up about it which is such a great feeling after so long. I forgot how addictive and obsessive writing can become when you're excited about something!

In other news, we took Daph for her development check up yesterday. The doctor was pleased with her progression re crawling, but she's still not pulling up to stand, or standing by herself if we pull her up. She also always rests her weight on her tiptoes - in fact sometimes her feet kind of curl right over so that she's resting on the top of her foot which looks so painful and wrong! He said she has really tight calf muscles (weirdly so do I) and in fact her muscles are a little 'too strong' so we have to massage her feet and ankles to try to get her to put her feet flat. He seems to think she'll get there eventually, but she may walk on tiptoe for a few months. Like I've said many times, she ain't gonna be an Olympic gymnast, bless her.

He actually said he was more worried about the fact she wasn't using specific words for specific people/things yet. She's thirteen months old on Saturday and a few of my friends with babies of similar ages don't seem to think theirs do either, but perhaps they're being nice. Daph says LOADS now - makes a huge range of sounds and lots of baby googledegook with mixed consonants/vowels etc. But nothing really specific. She says Dee Dee and Daddy a lot, but not at anything or anyone in particular. She also says 'Dink' which my mum thinks means she wants a drink but I've yet to really truthfully spot a correlation there. So a bit concerning but I still think she'll get there - we know she's running on a slightly delayed schedule but she does seem to always find her way in the end. The doctor even said she might just be a bit shy at trying to do things she's not good at, which kind of makes sense, she's definitely a cautious soul! Anyway, he told us to come back in two months if she still wasn't using five or more words with meaning, and then he'd 'refer her right away'. So another little target for our little girl - fingers crossed she can do it!

Midweek Musings: Hedgehogs, Childcare and (not) Working 9 to 5

hedgehog-lifebylotte Did I mention before that we have hedgehogs in our new garden? Every evening they scuttle past the French windows on their way to two doors down, where our neighbour leaves food out for them. They're really fast as they zip back and forwards! Yesterday Oli did some gardening and we unearthed one hiding under a plant - he didn't look very impressed to see us but wasn't obviously injured, so we left him there. I was worried about him though, because it said hedgehogs that were out in the daytime were probably in trouble. And this morning he had moved himself about a foot onto the lawn and was just lying there not moving, so we phoned our local Wildlife Rescue centre and they told us to bring him in. We've left him there overnight and we find out if he made it tomorrow. Fingers crossed, poor mite.

In other COMPLETELY unrelated news, today we went to view a nursery. Oli and I have been back and forward on the subject of childcare for Daph - we both work pretty random and unconventional hours. For the past few months I've been working one and a half days a week for a company - one day in the office and half a day from home, and then freelancing as and when stuff comes in. So Oli is usually able to look after Daph when I'm working in the office. Then the rest of the freelancing I do when she's napping or Oli takes her out for the day, or I do it in the evenings. Either way, it's worked quite well so far, except for when Oli's been working away and my mum's had to step in (my mum is a lifesaver!).

However, Oli starts a new job next week - he's going to be the vocalist for Vincent and Flavia's (of Strictly fame) new show The Last Tango. Thankfully it's only in the west end, not a tour (he was offered the tour of the same show last year but given that rehearsals started the day Daph was born, it wasn't really feasible. Plus I'd been a tour widow for most of my pregnancy and it's a bloody lonely life so I confess I did do a bit of weepy pregnant woman emotional blackmail). But anyway, he'll be leaving the house at around 4pm to get to work, which means I can't work do my full day in the office any longer. Most people would just get childcare and we have considered it, but it's so expensive and feels like a bit of an indulgence when we can probably make it work with a bit of juggling (luckily my office job is flexible!).

As for work... I've actually been trying to work less over the past few months - in hindsight I was crazy to start trying to work when Daph was only four months old. I think it was just my pride taking over, trying to prove that being a mother wouldn't stop me from carrying on as before. But now I look back and think why the hell didn't I just have a proper break and relax?! I remember going in to do a freelance day when I'd had about three hours' sleep - it was such a struggle to get through the day and I just felt dizzy and disorientated thanks to the bucketloads of caffeine I'd thrown down my neck. I've turned down quite a bit of freelance work in the past month or so which is terrifying (usually if you turn stuff down you don't get asked again) but at the same time quite liberating.

I really want to have a proper break and thankfully I do have something incredibly exciting planned for the next six months (more on that soon). But long-term I need to focus on what the heck I am going to do next. As I've mentioned before I didn't plan on having no job to return to after having a baby but thems the breaks. Freelancing is great for the flexibility but boy is it lonely, and I really miss being part of a team and, well, office gossip in general. So, I'm seriously considering retraining, but that's a whole other blog post...