Friday, 28 May 2010

Think Frock it's Friday

I have been following the fantastic Think Frock it's Friday campaign on Lottie Loves for the past few weeks and been desperate to join in. I love the idea of wearing a dress because ... well, just for the hell of it. Who needs a because? Sometimes it's just nice to put the jeans to one side and wear something with a spinny skirt, just to lift your spirits.

I would have joined in earlier but for one problem. Despite me having a wardrobe full of dresses, there are very few I can wear at the moment. Some of them are too small (eBay here we come) and some of them just aren't suitable. I am breastfeeding C who, although now on solid food, still needs milk feeds throughout the day. My preferred method of discrete feeding is a stretchy vest under a normal top. The vest gets pulled down under my bra, the top gets pulled up and voila, we can feed away without flashing anyone who happens to be in the vicinity a glimpse of my Mum Tum or anything further North! Obviously you can't pull up a dress though!

There are dresses specifically designed for breastfeeding, with a dual layer top section, but they almost universally seem to be dull in both colour and design, hideously expensive or made from very non-summery sweaty polyester material.

And so began my hunt for the perfect non-breastfeeding dress which I could breastfeed in!

I did a lot of online research, looking for something with a stretchy front section which could be pulled to one side, paired with a long cardy or light shawl to cover up the top of my boob. In the 'proper summer dress' category (cotton and bright) with straps wide enough to hide a bra there was remarkably little.

In the end I had a chance high street encounter with this lovely thing from good old M&S

It is just what I wanted! The front section has plenty of give thanks to the lovely smocking at the back and it's a perfect just below knee length. I've lost just over half a stone in the last few weeks and, standing in the changing rooms, the shop assistant had to fetch me a smaller size. Result! It was also bargainous, coming in at less than £20.

Now you will see that, contrary to the 'rules' of TFIF that's not me in the picture there! Given I'm currently alone in the house with a baby and a toddler, neither of whom can use the camera or resist trying to knock over the tripod whilst I make an attempt at self-timing, you'll have to imagine what it looks like on me. I'll try and rope my husband into taking a picture this weekend and post it next week.

In the meantime, I'm off to swirl my skirts, kick up my sandals and revel in the fact that it actually just might really now be summer!

(This is a scheduled post. I'm actually off on my holidays now and will be back after the Bank Holiday weekend. If you know where I live, please don't break into my house. Lets cross our fingers for frock weather!)

Thursday, 27 May 2010


T has a maddening capacity to eat very, very, v e r r r r r y, slowly. Of course he can eat quickly if he wants to, inhaling ice-cream comes to mind, but should we be talking peas (one at a time) or breakfast cereal (tiny amounts on the tip of the spoon as he natters on, and on, and on) we're on to a loser.

Yesterday I was the loser. Faced with a bowl of Weetabix rapidly starting to resemble concrete I lost my temper and shouted.

'Will you just eat a bit more quickly. Have a big spoonful. Now!'

Brown eyes wide he looked up, duly loaded his spoon and forced a mountain into his mouth.

He chewed carefully, squishing the mush from one side to the other. Then he looked at me.

'There Mummy, are you happy now?'

Two going on thirteen.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I am a lucky blogger

This has been a busy week. No sooner were we home from Leicester on Monday afternoon than I needed to start packing for our upcoming Bank Holiday weekend away in Wales. This basically involved tipping everything from a bag, into the washer, pegging it out and putting it back into a different bag. Well, until the sun went in. The forecast for Narberth this weekend is now looking suspiciously wet, as befits a British public holiday of course. I haven't unpacked the summer stuff, just in case, but have also added warmer clothes, raincoats and board games. Hmph.

Anyway, in my whirwind state of writing lists and creating piles this week I have been lucky enough to receive not one, not two but THREE fabulous parcels through my door which have all made me stop and smile and cheered me up for different reasons.

The first was my Secret Post Club parcel for May, sent by the fabulous Wendy at No More Excuses. I ripped open the envelope to find a book I've been meaning to read for ages but never quite got around to buying. Wendy had wrapped it beautifully and included a lovely note saying how much she'd enjoyed it. It's What Mother's Do and I can't wait to get started. As an aside how fab do Wendy's classes look? As the not so proud owner of a Mummy Tum I'd love to learn how best to get rid and definitely wish she was nearer!

The second parcel was a brilliant surprise from a lovely friend. Who knew you could buy cake, by the slice, online and have it delivered next day? Well now I do of course, and what AMAZING cake it was. I had the chocolate and raspberry which was dense and sticky, kind of like a brownie with chocolate cream in the middle and frosting. I absolutely loved it and will definitely be using The Cake Nest to order treats next time I'm looking for something to send. Go there and treat yourself, or even better a friend. I would have added a photo to the post at this point but I accidentally fell on the cake with my mouth open and inhaled it in one fell swoop.

The third parcel was a present to myself. We'll be doing a lot of swimming this weekend (indoors in a well heated pool rather than in the sea thank goodness!) and I have been desperate for a new cossie for as long as I can remember. I bought my current one when I was a student which was (cough) ten years ago now and it's not only too small but also bobbly around the bum and almost transparent in places where the chlorine has eaten the fabric away. Not a good look. I found a fabulous swimming costume on the Next website (my bikini days are long gone!) only for it to be out of stock for a fortnight, so I turned to the man who sends me more post than even my bank, the lovely Johnnie Boden. I had some account credit for prostituting my friends, sorry, suggesting they might like catalogues, and used a discount code and it ended up being the same price as the Next one. It arrived this morning and it is truly the cossie of my dreams. Nowhere near as garish as it looks in the pics, lovely fabric, fab fit and definitely what you need to cheer up a wet Welsh weekend.

I hope your postie has brought you some treats this week too.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Other people's houses

Imagine if you can the most child unfriendly house in the world. Then add ornaments, and more ornaments, and some pot pourri.

We spent the weekend in my husband's 'Daddy flat', his temporary home away from home until we sell our house and buy a family one in our new area. It is almost perfect. A Granny annexe to a large house with oft-absent residents it has a fabulously large garden with swing seat, dark places to explore and plenty of grass to roll and play on. There's a park at the end of the road with a cricket pitch (toddlers like cricket, who knew?) and great play area. There's even a local duckpond. Then you go inside. I'm using artistic licence here, it's not that bad, but this Granny flat was until recently lived in by a real life Granny and she liked things pink, frilly and most probably found in the magazine that comes with the Sunday People.

Decor issues aside we had a lovely sunny weekend. I even got a lie in. On Monday I snuggled into the duvet as my husband came to tell me it was time to get up as he needed to leave for work. I ignored him. He started to pull back the covers so I resorted to desperate measures. 'Can I have a love?' He's such a sucker. He pulled me close and I fell back into almost-sleep, still relaxed enough to not care about my morning breath, but awake enough to clutch him closer when he tried to leave. Anything to avoid having to properly wake and Deal With The Children.

He soon sussed me of course and insisted he really HAD to go unless, you know, I fancied, well, you know ... quickly? I couldn't quite manage opening my eyes so I made a mental assesment using my ears. I could hear the strains of CBeebies from the living room. The baby was giggling. In hindsight she was also giggling when I found the toddler pressing a pillow on her face, so this probably wasn't a safe indication we were free to go ahead, but no-one was crying and he did say quickly.

'Have you got any ...?'

My husband jumped across the bed and rifled in the dressing table drawer for a condom. I waited. He rooted and cursed. I waited. He chucked a couple of t-shirts on the floor. I waited. He banged about a bit. Still waiting.

'Where did I put the damn ...'

The moment had gone of course. One of the children started crying. It's a good job the flat's shower also has a habit of going cold every couple of minutes.

Packing to go home in a moment of wifely generosity I grabbed the bag containing two weeks worth of his dirty washing, reasoning I'd probably be doing it if he still lived with us. We're going on holiday on Thursday and I do like him to look vaguely presentable when I take him out in public. Once back, as I dragged t-shirts, pants and trousers out of the machine something glinted and caught my eye. I pulled and four Durex appeared, safely hidden, as he'd thought, under a pile of clothes. They'd managed to survive a 40 degree stain removal cycle with added Vanish spray.

Still, maybe I should be thankful. All of those pink frills in the bedroom would probably have put me off my stride anyway.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Oh Seven Oh Oh

A little hand tugs at my arm.

'Mummy, it's oh seven oh oh'.

I reach for my phone on the bedside table and groan aloud. It is, in fact, 5.37 am.

'I just get in with you Mummy'.

I bury my head in the pillow as he takes over my husband's side of the bed. Stage whispering, to avoid waking his sister, T tells me variously that he is hungry, needs a wee, wants to wear his yellow t-shirt today and that the sky he can glimpse through the crack in the curtains is blue.

My, also hushed, admonishment that it's actually too bloody early to open my eyes never mind hold a conversation is ignored. Reaching for my phone he tells me he can see a seven on its digital clock so it MUST be time to get up. It's now 5.47 am. I admit defeat and crawl out of bed.


I love my blog stats. It's fascinating to see how people find this blog and how and what they read when they get here. One of the most interesting things is the Google searches that direct readers to these pages. I'm pretty sure that the individual searching for 'toddler locked in the house all day' will have been disappointed I don't have any advice for them, but of course a lot of people looking for advice on 'toddler sleep' (and variations on that theme!) click here and actually, in the last few months I haven't had much to say on the subject! Well, from the toddler side anyway. The baby's another matter, but who wants to read 'adventures of a sleepless baby'? It's not exactly headline news is it.

Anyway, luckily for all of the Google searchers out there, T has decided that sleep is for, well, babies. Unluckily for me he's timed his new super early wake-ups perfectly, meaning he's bouncing around about 15 minutes after I've gone back to sleep after C's last feed. Knackered does not cover it!

Sadly I think, as with most things child related, time might be the healer we're desperately looking for. We have had wakeful periods before, often coinciding with leaps in his development or times of change like the one we're going through now, and come out the other side, slightly darker of under eye. But time doesn't make an interesting blog post does it? So we're trying something new. We've purchased a Gro clock, a sleep training device with a simple star and moon on the face which aims to encourage toddlers to stay in bed until it's 'officially' morning. As an added bonus, it also features a digital clock, so T can double check it's 'oh seven oh oh' before getting up for the day.

Online reviews are generally positive so I have high hopes. I'll report back in the next few days and let you know how we get on. The sleepless toddler is back!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bath poo

I feel I am relatively lucky on the poo front. With a toilet trained toddler and a baby on solids we now have very few poonami anecdotes to tell, until tonight that is. I listened gleefully at tea-time whilst T told me about one of his nursery peers who'd done a giant poo in the playground this afternoon and the ladies' attempts to stop the others standing in it whilst cleaning it up. I should have taken it as a sign.

All three of us were in the bath. 'I need a wee wee' whined T. I toyed with telling him to do it in the water but thought he'd probably grass me up to Daddy, so securing the baby under one arm I heaved him over the side and onto the bathmat. He did a great impression of a scrawny drowned rat. I fed him instructions ... stand on that little ledge, now onto your step with your knees, now turn around, bottom down, look you got on all by yourself! He's a titch - two and a half and still in 12 month trousers - being lifted on and off each time he needs to go so this was a major achievement, plus I didn't have to get my wobbly bits cold. Result. He sat and made a familiar grunting sound. Sigh. I fed him instructions again ... OK, now down you come, turn around, pass me that packet of wipes there. I did the necessary one handed, still in the bath, and chucked the dirty one into the loo, hole in one! Thank heavens for small bathrooms. T passed the antibac soap from the sink ledge and, once heaved back into the water, we both washed our hands thoroughly.

I was feeling quite smug. There we were, all pink and cosy and warm in the water. Only snug stories, milk and sleeps to come. Then a noise. The water's gone a strange yellowy colour. Ah, that'll be the baby then. Evacuate! Evacuate!

I drained the water and showered the children. Once they were asleep I bleached and scrubbed the bath, and the bath toys. I cursed my earlier laziness. If I'd have speeded up that toddler wee, that baby poo would have landed in a nappy rather than just above my left knee. On the phone my husband reminds me that last time he was on the receiving end of this treat, but it was a toddler poo which needed to be caught rather than washed away. I put away the Flash and think it could have been worse.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A Little Less Conversation

I am fascinated by the idea of comfortable silence, the notion that if you're truly happy with someone, if you know them inside out, you don't need to talk. Well obviously you need to talk - pass the ketchup, that sort of thing - but not all the time, and certainly not the sort of nervous garbling I tend to revert to when faced with a roomful of people I've not met before.

One of the things I've missed most about my husband being away is actual adult conversation. This morning I'm ashamed to admit in tiredness I cried down the phone to him as I described the awful night we'd had (there's a post on sleep coming soon!) and, with toddler T at nursery, he suggested baby C and I had a lazy day today so I could rest. I cried harder, 'But I don't want to stay in the house all day, I want to talk to someone'. Yesterday I said only a handful of words to other adults, a quick transaction in the Co-op and more than half of the other ones with my mouth wide open to the dentist, 'ahhh ah ah ahhh, ahh ahh ahh ahh ahh', well he appeared to know what I was talking about. I wasn't schtum for the rest of the day of course, but there are only so many conversations you can have about 'cloud monsters' before you start to go a little crazy.

This afternoon I met a fabulous friend for a catch up chat. It felt very, very good to talk. But as we put the world to rights over hot chocolate and smoothies (yes I know real grown-ups drink tea and coffee, but not us two!) I wondered whether this week in a fit of melancholic pique I am actually mourning something I never really had.

Were my husband here right now, what would we be doing. Well I'd probably be doing this, typing on the laptop, rubbish telly in the background, and he'd probably be doing what I assume he's doing right now in his new flat, playing on his phone, rubbish telly in the background. Even in the same room, sharing the same sofa, chances are we absolutely, definitely would not be talking to each other.

So instead of complaining about the lack of conversation, maybe I should be celebrating the fact that the comfortable silence remains. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Week Two, here we go!

Look here I am! This is me, typing these letters right now, so I must have managed what I was so worried about and survived my first week solo with the children.

I must say at this point that I know I am actually very, very lucky. I'm not a single parent, I do have support at weekends, and I'm not trying to compare my experience to those who do a wonderful job on their own all day every single day without any help whatsoever.

God it's bloody hard though. Well, maybe hard's the wrong word, relentless would probably be a bit more apt. We all made it to Friday evening without too many tears but the days did sort of blur together in an endless cycle of preparing meals, watching the children eat/throw them on the floor, cleaning up the mess and washing up. I love my children, adore them even, but aghhh if I'd had to retrieve one more Tommee Tippee spoon from where it had been flung on the floor (small) or applauded one more mouthful of peas (big) I might have exploded in a giant ball of pent up frustration. Luckily Daddy took over and did meal supervision on Saturday and Sunday.

I know this is just teething trouble. We're in the early days of weaning C, the frustrating period where she'll happily play with her food for hours whilst eating very little, meaning I need to squeeze meal times around just as many breastfeeds as ever, and I'm still finding my flying solo feet, learning the little tricks that help speed up the whole process.

One thing I didn't manage particularly well last week was feeding myself. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not going to waste away, I might even have sneaked a midweek McDonalds, but could that dry skin at the side of my mouth be the start of scurvy?! Once I'd finally settled both children it was a mammoth effort to get of the sofa and make something for myself that wasn't cheese toast. So, sitting here with another five days stretching ahead of me, my task for this week is not just to survive, but to survive in style, maybe even with some added vegetables.

Small steps. In a fortnight I might even be enjoying it!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

What a difference a year makes

Spring 2009, making an awful mess

Spring 2010, a clean t-shirt and not a drop wasted (he licked his lips afterwards)

We love ice-cream

Saturday, 15 May 2010


My husband walked into the room, naked. It's a good job this blog is anonymous because if you knew him you'd have to stop reading now for a drink of water, or at least a few deep breaths.

Having woken too early, the other three of us are lounging on the bed. Well, I'm lounging. The small one is chewing the bedding, the large one is trampolining.

'I'll just go for my shower now'

'You can't go yet' says my husband 'I'm not dressed'


'Well I can't keep an eye on both of them and get dressed at the same time'

Yes dear. That's why, for the last week you've been away I've done the nursery run, shopping, visiting friends, music and ballet classes all entirely stark bollock naked.

In his defence he did concede I might have a point.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


It's charity week at T's nursery. Each year they pick a theme and ask you to sponsor your child to wear items that fit that theme. Last year it was spots and stripes, this year the theme was pirates.

So that's T, ready for nursery this morning: denim cutoffs, striped tee, kitchen roll 'telescope' and a pirate hat made from an old pizza box, some tinfoil and the last of the ribbon I used to make one of my best friend's wedding invitations. I also painted on an eye patch using toddler friendly face paint, knowing he wouldn't keep any other type on. He was overjoyed with his reflection in the mirror. What's not to love about an outfit that gives a toddler boy the excuse to shout 'arghhhhhhh!' at the top of his lungs.

Walking into Toddlers this morning though I was gutted. T was the only child with a home-made costume! There were children with plastic cutlasses, felt tri-cornered hats, skull print bandanas and waving blow up hooks. We had the only tinfoil and cardboard in the room.

The ladies were polite of course, the telescope was 'very, erm, creative' and he's too young to tell the difference between his and his peers' outfits, so why did I feel like the poor relation? I could have bought him something to wear, although the time it would have taken to get to the shops with both children would probably have been longer than it took to stick on the black sugar paper and cut out the foil 'skull'.

I know people have busy lives, or don't have the idea, skills or kit you'd need to make a costume. I'm sure some parents just don't want to, but I do, and I hate the feeling that that somehow makes him stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

La La Shoes

I have posted before about T's eclectic taste in music, thanks in no small part to my husband's fabulous personalised mix tapes*. He swings between artists and genres in an instant. There was a time I knew exactly how many plays of 'Yellow Submarine' it took to get from home to nursery with the CD on repeat. He enjoys Take That and songs from Glee, music from the Lion King and The Proclaimers. And don't even start me on his year-round passion for Christmas tunes or Julia Donaldson calypso-murdering 'A Squash and a Squeeze'.

Then came a request: 'Mummy, I want the la la song'. But which la la song was it? I wracked my brains. Hey Jude? No. 500 Miles? Nope. I asked friends, they suggested Kylie's Can't Get You Out of My Head (also no) or something by The Offspring. I have to admit not even suggesting the latter to him given the likelihood he'd ever have heard it. He asked, and asked, and asked, but it wasn't The Stylistics, Goldfrapp or even Deck the Halls with Boughs of bloody Holly he wanted. Stuck, I changed the subject and turned up Radio 2, introducing him to Girls Aloud and saving my sanity at the same time.

Then it happened. Months after the initial request there was a squeal from the back of the car. 'Mummy, it's the la la song!', and the culprit? Is This the Way to Amarillo of course (Peter Kay version). Having had that annoying 'answer on the tip of your tongue' feeling since he first asked I could finally breathe deeply again. Until, moments after it had finished, he said 'I want the la la song again'. I explained patiently that we couldn't rewind the car radio but that Mummy would put that song on a CD so we didn't lose it again. 'No not that one, I do like that one, but the OTHER la la song'.

It was back, that feeling that you just can't find the right word or remember where you know that person from, a deep pervading frustration that I must know the song he wanted but couldn't think of it! Eventually, in the way these things have of working themselves out, just as we'd forgotten the trauma of the whole experience it transpired that the original, best, first requested la la song he really really wanted was Paris 1919. To avoid future confusion we have now taught him the song's official name, and artist, should he feel the need for a hit of ex-Velvet whilst we're not around, saving everyone some heartache. The Youtube version is even bookmarked on the laptop, just in case.

To express just how much he loves this song, after a trip to a well known department store on Saturday to buy some new sandals he proudly told his keyworker we'd gone to 'John Cale' to get them and they were his la la shoes.

*C also has two, one of music to go to sleep to and one for wide awake time!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Greater Good

My husband moved out tonight.

It's day one of the New Normal, a sort of half-life that we flail in whilst we tie up the ends in Manchester and make a move down the M6 to the Midlands. A house that wont sell and one, soon to be two, children needing childcare means we're not able to just pick up and leave here, but nor will my husband's new job wait, so for now he goes and we stay.

The goodbye was perfunctory, after all he'll be back on Friday. I'm not unused to him staying away overnight, I can watch what I want on the telly and not have to worry about cooking a veggie option at dinnertime, but tonight with the house quiet it just feels different.

This is the start of a big change. We've known it was coming but now, with a weeks worth of suits packed and on their way to his home for the next week, it's really happening. Soon it will be our turn to go, and we wont be coming back at the weekend.

My children deserve an energetic father, one who isn't constantly exhausted from long and antisocial shifts and can enjoy his time off rather than existing in a constant state of jet-lag. I am looking forward to meeting my new husband, a man who can stay up past 10 pm and doesn't need a daytime nap. I know we will be happy in our new life, in the village we have chosen for its schools, parks and commutability. It's not even too far to come back and visit. The positives are stacked in the corner in a great big pile.

But tonight my heart breaks a little at the thought we will never again live as a family of four in this, the house we were married in, to where we brought home our tiny firstborn, where our daughter was conceived and born where we became the family that now stands on the edge of a change that's exciting and terrifying in equal measure.

Friday, 7 May 2010


T, up too early, is rolling around on my bed.

'I bought a present for you Mummy!'

'Thank you darling, that's very kind. What is it?'

'A chocolate rabbit!'

'Wow, thank you T. I like chocolate rabbits. Where is it?'

'In the shop. I buy it for you next week'


Thursday, 6 May 2010

With apologies to his future biology teacher (TMI sorry)

'Mummy, my poo comes from my willy doesn't it?'

'No darling, poo comes from your bottom. Wee comes from your willy.'

'Nooo Mummy, it comes from my willy! I want it to come from my willy.'

'Well it's not really up to Mummy, it's the way you're built. Everyone's poo comes from their bottom. Mummy doesn't even have a willy!'

(crying now) 'Nooooooooo MY poo comes from MY willy'

(noncommittal) 'OK darling'

Sometimes you have to know when to give up the argument.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

You can come too ...

When T was almost exactly six months old we took him for a day out at Chester Zoo. That's him in the top picture, in the backpack carrier. I remember that we swapped him between us a few times that day, posing for pictures in front of the elephants, giraffes and lions. Looking back, we were immensely proud to be enjoying a family day out, Mummy, Daddy and son. I thought he was so grown up and that the hours spent peering through windows at everything from snakes to apes were 'educational' and crucial in his early development. I remember getting stressed at the end of the day because he was getting tired and grumpy and we hadn't yet seen everything. We trudged to the far side of the zoo to look at Przewalski's horses, disappointed that as we carefully explained about endangered species to our precious firstborn they actually looked pretty much like any other type of horse.

As I look back at the photographs I realise how ridiculous this all was. At six months old T was a baby. We might as well have strapped him into the carrier and walked him around Tesco, he'd have been just as entertained by the colourful creatures wandering up and down the aisles and we could have done our shopping at the same time. Like all parents, we've striven to give him the very best in these early years, but as yet he hasn't shown any childhood genius in taxonomy. Should we have given ourselves a break from the hectic new parent do-it-all schedule of days out, exposing him to sights, sounds and colours, and taken it easier?

Last week, on a particularly sunny spring day, we went back to Chester Zoo. Daddy was at work this time, so a friend and I were both solo with our two children. That's T in the second picture, very taken with the penguins. C was six months, exactly the same age as T on his first zoo trip. So where is she in this photo? She's in the buggy of course, my much loved parent-facing pushchair, which gives a great view of Mummy but achieved a remarkable feat in whisking her around the zoo without seeing a single animal. Oh no, I tell a lie, there was a particularly vicious duck which attempted to steal our picnic lunch from the hands of the older babes. She might have caught a glimpse as I abandoned her midday breastfeed to help shoo the predators away from toddler fingers.

Two years ago, keeping my six month old son awake to see a horse was the holy grail, this time it was getting my six month old daughter to sleep. As I lifted her brother to get a better view of the elephants, she watched a school party walk past in a crocodile of pairs. As I took the penguin photo above, she chomped on a teething ring and listened to the sound of her brother and his friend screeching with delight.

Coming to terms with giving your children different experiences is remarkably hard. It's taken me six months to realise that not doing with C what we did with T doesn't mean I love her any less or care any less about her development. Two and a half years of parenting has taught me that often less is more when it comes to babies. As her brother rests his tired legs in the buggy she absentmindedly chews one of the straps on the sling and I celebrate the fact she's enjoying quality Mummy close time. We walk past the sign for Przewalski's horses and I kiss her soft downy head tucked six inches underneath my chin. I'm still doing my best, but my best has changed.