Thursday, 23 September 2010

Coffee and Cheese

I'm not sure which blog this ought to go on!

We went to Sheffield yesterday, where my friends still firmly refer to Miranda as "the Cheese", or at least, Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeezey!!! For nine months I was thinking about nothing else except the Cheese, setting up this blog, writing letters addressed to Dear Tiny Cheese, even trying to scab freebies from the Babybel company. But now she is actually here, it is very very hard for me to think of her as anything but Miranda.

She is very much her own person now, determined to stand up, very alert and wanting to know exactly what is going on all the time. So determined was she to take as much in during our day out that she refused to sleep at all during the day, and got so tired she started going cross-eyed on the way home! She also has developed a liking of being upside down, hanging off my knee eyeballing the world, and drooling at everything (methinks there is a Tooth brewing in there and making her a bit uncomfy, poor baby.) Definitely my little Miranda, but not just a Baby-Bel any more.

We were in Sheffield to taste coffee. With the help of Simon at Pollards coffee company, I managed to get a unique blend of coffee together for our new coffee shop. I am going to call it Miranda's Blend. I would love to make it a Family Mission to take Miri to all the coffee-producing countries whose beans are included in the blend! I couldn't actually take her in to see it being roasted unfortunately, but she did get to stare at a lot of shiny espresso machines, shout at Simon when we dared to start talking to each other instead of giving her undivided attention, and I gave her some latte foam to try - I think she approved. That experience, along with riding on a train, a tram and in the back of Simon's car, and then being cooed over by Anna, Viv, Ol and Zara at uni made for a very exciting day for her! I was pretty exhausted too...

Coffee shop plans are slowly getting there. We found a new venue, and although very busy and frequently unwilling to answer his phone, the estate agent does at least return our calls, eventually. The unit is a good size, is in a great location, and is fairly affordable. There are several ready-made customer bases we can tap into, hopefully, including the local breastfeeding groups and mother-and-toddler groups, which I want to encourage so Miranda gets some company in there. We just have to negotiate the length of the lease. We should be in a strong position at the moment; the economy is such that there are very few others mad enough to try and start a business in Darlington at the moment, so we are not competing against anyone for the lease!

However, the agency's standard is a three or five year lease. For the same reasons I touched on in the last post, this is a very daunting prospect. That is an awfully long time to sign up for, especially from Miranda's point of view. She is going to change so, so much in three years that I don't feel capable of making decisions over that length of time. I especially don't want to be tied to Darlington by the time Miri reaches school-going age. Is it even practical to try and bring her up in a coffee shop? Will I end up neglecting her? Can I really juggle her, the cafe and the phd at the same time? aaaaaaaaaaargh. I just want her to grow up Happy.

I also have an uncomfortable feeling that if I carry on like this, she is going to turn out to be a tea-drinker. Bah.
With Auntie Tattoo-Jo in the unit we really really want!

And sporting a very sophisticated Peruvian (coffeeland!) poncho.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Decisions, Decisions....

Help. Brainache.
I hate making decisions like this at the best of times, but now Miranda is here, my decisions carry more weight than usual, because whatever I decide affects her as well. I want more than anything to do the best I can for her, but sometimes I am not sure what that is.

This isn't really a Miranda-blog post (she is doing great, growing incessantly, eating tons and filling her nappy at inopportune moments and then looking very proud of herself!) This is more about my own insecurities! My issue at the moment is What Happens Post-PhD. I am supposed to go back to it after maternity leave in January, and get it finished by April. But of course, as soon as I finish it, my funding dries up. It's a daft situation that gives no incentive to finish the thesis at all...The end of uni means suddenly losing a very large proportion of our joint income, and Carl cannot support all three of us.

The most logical thing for me to do would be to pursue a career in academia, although at 27 with only a years' experience in a graduate job to my name, I think I am past the point at which I can use the word "career" with any degree of plausibility. I've applied for four academic jobs now, lectureships in Sheffield and York, and the average salary for that sort of job would mean that I could happily support us all, so Carl could give work and spend time with Miri. He would revel in that, I think. It would also have other benefits like moving house and getting out of Darlington finally. However, I did not even get shortlisted for any of those jobs, and one had NINETY TWO applicants. It is utterly hopeless, especially since there are so, so few of them in the first place.

Unless Carl miraculously finds a better job; we can't afford for me not to work. The very last thing I want is to have to find a job that I don't want to do, just to pay the bills, especially when that would also mean a huge chunk of my wages would go towards childcare for Miranda. It is counter-productive and not something I want to consider at all. She's too young!

My coffee van isn't the answer either. I at best make pocket money off it at the moment, just doing the markets. Even if I tried to do more with it, the bigger Miranda gets, the more impractical it would be. I can't entertain her or pay her much attention when I'm serving coffee at the same time and she'd hate sitting in the van all day on her own, it wouldn't be fair on her. And I couldn't inflict winter market stalls in the snow on her either.

So, I did come up with another option, which is, running my own business and finally setting up the cafe I've been on about for years. Unfortunately this has to be in Darlington which I know is not the best place. However, the one thing that I do love about this place is my wonderful collection of completely batty friends. Two of them are coming on board with this project as well. We are planning on sharing the rent on a retail unit, and opening as a cafe and writers' workshop by day and studio for Burlesque classes by night. It's called Afternoon Tease. I am completely in love with the idea, not least because it is an opportunity to do what I love, but also gives me the freedom to take Miranda along with me, thus avoiding having to pay to abandon her with strangers.

But it is not as simple as that. Due to the disinterest of the landlord, we haven't managed to get in to the unit we wanted, which is more than a little frustrating especially since there isn't actually any real reason other than this guy's slowness. Plans for getting round this hurdle have included Body Parts Squashed In New Pannini Machine, and so on. On a more practical level, we looked round another unit today. It would do us very nicely and has a lot of advantages, but it is three times the price and involves signing a terrifyingly long lease agreement.

I am worried about this. I have got some much riding on this, because the cafe idea honestly feels like my only option. But then, is it a good idea to try and bring Miranda up in a coffee shop? Would I end up neglecting her? Shouldn't I be revelling in New Motherhood and not worrying about working again given that she's only three months old? I just don't know. And then there are the financial worries. The long lease means agreeing to pay a very high rent for a very long time, and I lack the confidence to trust in the fact that a coffee shop could make a lot of money relatively quickly. Without Miri, I am sure I wouldn' be worrying about this anything like as mucb. I do still have an income that can buffer the worse of the financial hardship we are likely to encounter, and I won't need to actually make a living off this for quite a while yet. But I don't want to get tied down into something I can't afford for so long.

I don't know what to dooooooooo!!!

Granny, Mummy and Miri outside what could be the Afternoon Tease coffee shop.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

DO IT!!!


Monday, 6 September 2010

Little Brain at 12 weeks.

When I had twelve weeks left of my pregnancy, I was already fed up with it and very impatient, and another three months seemed an impossibly long time to wait to meet our baby. Now, however, the twelve weeks that have passed since giving birth have just vanished! Miranda has changed and grown so much in that time but I still haven't got used to it all yet
We took her to see her Great-GrandNan (Big Nan) yesterday as she was vaguely in the vicinity for once. Of course, to her, Miri has grown enormously, as she wasn't quite a month old last time we did a great-grandparent visit. Nan had been a little optimistic though, knitting Miri a new outfit with a hat big enough to fit me! Never mind, it is incredibly cute all the same!

With Great-GrandNanny
The little brain in Miranda's head is now working overtime at the moment. She is sleeping through the night (Woohoo!!) and what's more, sleeping in her own room in her lovely tram cot, while I lay awake all night anxiously and obsessively listening to the baby monitor. This means, of course, that she is now awake for the majority of the day, and I struggle to find new ways to entertain her. I have been investigating the library again (during the Competitive Parenting classes, sorry I mean, Under 5s Rhymetime!) and we now have books in Spanish and English. Leo the naughty kitten and Lucia la Gatita are great fun, and Lucia learns a valuable lesson; if you save the little children from a TIBURON ENORME (huge shark), then Mama buys you a Helado Grande (a big icecream). Every child should know this. 'Augusto y su sonrisa' - about a tiger losing his smile is a bit beyond my level of Spanish, however but I remain confident in the fact that Miranda is not going to correct me. Yet.
I also envy Miranda's ability to be entertained for hours by her own feet. She has got the hang of reaching out and grasping things very well indeed now and grabs, glares at and bashes the rattly things hanging above her chair, and when she gets bored of them, she reaches for her feet and kicks the about. I've invested in an interesting array of brightly coloured socks just for this purpose.
Her motor skills, or lack of them, are beginning to frustrate her, however. She is so close to crawling! she can lift her head and shoulders with her arms, and lft her bum and wriggle with her legs, but she just can't get the hang of doing both at the same time. And she gets cross about it and shouts. She loves standing and walking though (with on of us holding her up, obviously) and showing off how tall she is. Babyzilla!!




***

At the twelve week mark I think I am just about qualified to hand out a bit of advice now too. Ahem. Well one friend of mine has she announced she's pregnant with her first, and another friend is now training to be a midwife. So to these at least, I suggest the following:

1. Breastfeed. Even if you think you can't, you probably can, despite what the companies who sell formula milk would have you believe. And stick at it - it really does get easier!

2. Do Not Read Parenting Books, especially NOT Gina Ford. The woman is draconian and utterly delusional! Babies, like everyone else, do not fit into nice neat little boxes, and find routines that suit themselves. Reading parenting books only leads to making comparisons between your baby and The Ideal, which doesn't actually exist, and then you just end up feeling crap and guilty and inadequate and worried. Trust in your own common sense and baby will be fine.

3. Set up a spam email account and then sign up for every single thing you can - it is possible to get tons of freebies this way!

4. Never be more than 3ft from a Yuk Cloth.

5. Buy a baby sling. Provided you tie it right, they are comfy, perfectly safe and infinitely easier than lugging round a pushchair, plus being so close to you is very comforting for the baby and will probably send her to sleep. Think "hands-free buggy".

6. Be prepared for Lochia. That is, the utterly humungous, disgusting flood of a period you get after giving birth. None of the midwives told me about this!!!! It is a period, basically, it's just huge and heavy because instead of all the lining that has built up over the course of a month coming out, it is what built up around baby for the entire nine months, and it goes on for weeks. Unless you are very brave and very quick to heal, you can't use tampons either, so you need the startlingly unattractive, mahoosive sanitary towels designed to be worn all night. I told Miri I had to go change Mummy's nappy too at times. I bled for ELEVEN WEEKS AND THREE DAYS.  It is soul destroying after a while, more so because I was never warned about it and worried constantly that it wasn't normal. Unfortunately, it is.

Any other Mums want to dispense advice that I haven't mentioned?

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BabyBel

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