31 Dec 2014

Out with the old...

I'm not usually one to ponder on things that have past (especially when it's been difficult) but I had the urge to think and write.

2014 was a year of changes for me, I started the year very pregnant and apprehensive about the year ahead. I had a few blips with emotions and was genuinely terrified of child birth the second time around.

By the time I went into labour with my boy, I needn't have worried, my body (& me) stood up to the challenge and he arrived on gas and air alone. I've not really written too much about it but it all got a bit scary after that and I ended up loosing a fair bit of blood, a crash team got sent in and I had a doctor and four midwives working on me all at the same time. It was a blur of cannula's, monitors beeping and pain. I watched as my mum held my newborn son and I clinged on desperately to my also terrified husband wondering if I'd ever hold my boy again. It was the biggest shock to my system and not the best start but I am and will forever be so grateful for those women who got me through a potentially life threatening situation. They did what they had to do and they did it fast.

It's harrowing to think about but on the flip side it wouldn't put me off having another baby and I hope it wouldn't put anyone else off. I don't like those pregnancy and childbirth scaremongers who tell you their bad experience. It was what it was and that's that (no scaremongering here ladies).

My boy and I are both doing well now and I fall a bit more in love with my babies every day. Even on the bad days, they still having me counting my blessings.


It was also the year my girl started nursery school and loved it. So much so that she cried at christmas because she wanted to go to school. After the turmoil of nursery and preschool, it's such a relief and she is really flourishing.

We weren't without sadness too, my nan (& last remaining grandparent) sadly passed in her nineties. In the last part of her life, dementia cruelty took her from us and she never got to meet my boy. I took him to see her soon after he was born but she wasn't really in there and the sparkle in her eyes had disappeared. I do hope she knew he was there as she would have delighted in getting to know him.

I also underwent a transformation and have lost over two stone. My body has changed drastically and I have had to invest in new clothes and a new attitude. I think like a skinny bitch now and it's weird to get used to.

So where exactly am I going with all this? Well if 2014 was a year of change then I want 2015 to be all about strength. I want a stronger body that is lean and efficient. A stronger mind that is focused and to be strong for my family in whatever comes their way too.

I have to be strong because I am starting work in the next few weeks and my boy is off to nursery. It's going to be a juggling act with Bubba also at nursery school but I'm looking forward to work again. I need strength because I keep torturing myself thinking that I may miss out on a vital part of my boys development. What if he starts crawling at nursery or eats a new food for the first time? A stranger (who cares but not in the way I do) might get to see the milestones. Every time I think about it, it makes me cry, I was lucky to see Bubba's firsts but I don't have that luxury this time around.

My girl will start school full time too, a full day where I won't know what she's up to. I'm excited for her and look forward to  finding out what she learns (& teaches us).

So I joined a movement called Embrace Happy where we share and record our blessings each day. It's easy to find three things to be thankful about, even on the worst days. Do pop along and follow on Instagram as it's such a brilliant idea or visit the website, it's truly a game changer of an idea.
http://embracehappy.com

So please do love those you are with, count your blessings and find yourself a word to guide you through next year.

It's all about Strength for me xx

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23 Dec 2014

Peppermint Creams - Christmas Gifts

I remember when I was around eight or nine, one valentines day I took some peppermint creams into school for all of my class mates, they were pale pink and heart shaped. It's one of those strange memories that stick with you no matter what.

So when I was trying to cobble together some presents for Bubba's teachers - lets face it, I forgot totally that I even had to get them a present! I immediately thought of peppermint creams (see just weird isn't it, why would I think of them first?!?)

Anyway, I went out and purchased all the gubbins to make them, including little cutters and pink and green food dye (chosen by Bubba).


If you want to make them, it couldn't be easier and they are so child friendly although at this stage I mostly just let Bubba roll the mixture and cut out the shapes. She did help with the early stages but it got a bit messy and after a few minutes she doesn't tolerate having sticky hands.


Ingredients:

225g Icing Sugar (sifted)
115g Condensed Milk (I used Light)
Peppermint Extract
Food colouring of your choice


Method:

Mix the icing sugar into the condensed milk slowly until it forms a dough, mix in the peppermint and food colouring (to your taste).

Roll out and start cutting your shapes. Leave somewhere cool and dry for a few hours and then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

It really is that simple.

You can drizzle chocolate on them or get all arty with it but we just left ours plain.

These bad boys last about three weeks (but in our house about 10 minutes).


We put them in an airtight container until the morning we took them into school in cute little bags. I do hope it's just something a little different from the usual box of chocolates.

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22 Dec 2014

Heartbreaking

I never realised that being the mother of a girl would be so emotional. As bubba gets older, things don't seem so simple any more, I watch her as she tries to navigate the changes.

When her forehead furrows and a flash of fear or indecision clouds her eyes, my instinct is to rush to her side, smooth out the changes with kind words and affection. I have to stand back and watch, I need to push her forward alone and tell her from a distance "It'll be alright, I promise"

But I can't promise really, there will be hurt, there will be fear and she will have to go it alone and find friends (or not) and venture out into the world without me.

I have a brave girl who when she falls, gets back up, dusts herself down and in her self deprecating way says "yeah I'm alright mummy"  When she had injections and cried with the shock, at home she was slightly more inconsolable when I told her she was brave "Me's not brave mummy, I cried" but I will explain when she understands more that being brave means crying is ok and as long as you get back up and dust yourself off and if you want it enough, try again you are brave.

She wants to make friends at school but can't understand that not everyone wants to be her friend or cares enough. I want to be her friend just to get make sure she doesn't get hurt, I'm starting to realise I can't make everything ok any more. I don't know how we will navigate the teenage years seeing as I'm already struggling with her being only 3!


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20 Dec 2014

Quick and Easy Food Around Christmas Time

In this festive season, it's really difficult to remember to eat the right things whilst all the chaos goes on around us. I crave quick and easy meals that can be put together quickly and things that won't interrupt the wrapping rituals with fussy over complicated preparations. I'm also trying not to overdo the sweets and chocolate because I'm trying to protect my weight loss so far and there are so many things that could tip me over the edge. For instance, one mince pie costs me upwards of 11 Syns which considering I am encouraged to have 15 or under a day, could really set me up for disappointment after the christmas period is over.

So when I got the Birds Eye Food Saviours flyer, below, I knew the foods fitted in with my need to keep it real whilst also having emergency food covered in case people popped in over Christmas (which they invariably do and then stay longer than any one thought and you end up having to feed them!).


I've got a real thing about pea's at the moment and try to eat them with every meal (and have done since I was pregnant with Bubba). Also as I'm following the Slimming World plan, I try and have vegetables with every meal (1/3 of the plate should be super free vegetables) so the Steamfresh vegetables from Birds Eye are right up my street. It's also great if you have more people round for dinner as well because it's quicker to make seeing as all the prep has been done for you.


We especially liked the Mediterranean veg in a herb butter. It added a bit of va va voom to our pork and at only 1.5 Syns on Slimming World it was a winner for me.

I'm also keen on the Fish chargrills which take all the hassle out of an evening meal and are something I'm planning on serving the girls when they come to dinner in the new year. As we will all be watching what we eat again, they are pretty light on the syn value for me.


My girl loves the mashtags and seeing as it's not only us adults that need feeding, these are great with some grilled chicken (& veg that she'll chase around her plate but I'll keep trying) before we go off out to visit family. It's also something I'm going to put a bowl of on the buffet table when family come over between family and new year.

It helps me to fill up on all these sorts of foods before going out to a party where I can be susceptible to grazing like a woman possessed at any snacky bits laid on by a host. I need to eat and know what's gone in before any alcohol is consumed (as otherwise it makes me feel immune to weight gain if I snack of one hundred stodgy sausage rolls after a few glasses of wine). Here's hoping my weight gain is minimal and my enjoyment levels are high this year.

We were kindly sent vouchers to try some of the foods that Birds Eye offer.
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18 Dec 2014

Practicing Patience

I've had this phrase going around in my head for the last few weeks.

We all know children can test us and mine have both been testing my limits recently. Bubba has been pushing all our boundaries and making life a struggle and the boy has been having a tough time with teething and we haven't had a lot of sleep.

So my patience has been null and void for a while. I used to be very patient with Bubba and I was proud of myself, now trying to juggle two children with different demands I'm a little ashamed to say my girl has been short changed by me when it's got to a critical stage in negotiations.

I've let her know that I'm frustrated and as things escalate out of control I end up shouting, I never wanted to be (and still don't) a shouter. Obviously there are times when shouting works and is needed, say when your little one is about to step off the pavement without looking on a busy road. This doesn't apply to our house and after I've shouted, I feel remorseful and know that once I shout, I've pretty much lost control of the situation.

Thankfully it's not that often and it's really when I'm pushed to the breaking point so since I realised, I've tried to practise patience. I take a deep breath, I smile because that not only calms me (whilst bamboozling the toddler) but it starts me in a frame of mind that doesn't lead to a shouty moment.

I keep my voice neutral and low and try to get on her level and in my head I keep repeating "I'm an adult, she's a child, practice patience." I'm no saint and it doesn't always work but I am back to being more patient and understanding of her struggles.  It's definitely a work in progress but we have got back to the point I can mostly talk her down from a stand off and win her round again.

One thing I'm very sure of though is that my girl has a lot of attitude and personality (in a good way).



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16 Dec 2014

Am I doing this right?

We've reached the stage where things seem to be a struggle. Nearly eight months in and each day is a struggle with two children, I ask myself daily "am I doing this right?"

I'm so consumed with trying not to muck up my children's lives, the weight of the honour of being able to raise them sits heavily on my shoulders at the moment.

My boy is getting clingy and also resists sleep when he can. This makes me nervous and panicked that I'm doing something wrong. It's so strange because I've done it all before and where I am more relaxed in some areas in others I'm just as anxious as I was first time around.

It's the self doubt and what ifs that get me, I wasn't expecting this stage to be the one to trip me up. Up until now I've really enjoyed having two children and my boy has been a happy, joyful thing. But now he gets frustrated and those pesky teeth are giving him grief so some days all he does is moan. 

Often by the end of the day I'm an emotional wreck, I often cry and my poor husband doesn't know what kind of wife he is coming home to. It makes me feel like I'm rubbish at motherhood or I'm doing something wrong because I'm really not enjoying it at the moment. Most days are stressful and I feel like I could split in two because both children want and need something different at the exact same time. Is it supposed to be this difficult, is this normal or am I making it more difficult than it should be?

Please let me know because no one else seems to struggle like I am and they all make it look really easy...and it's not!
 
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14 Dec 2014

Our Perfect Holiday #Markwarnermum

As the nights draw in and the mornings are crisp, thoughts usually turn to holidays in our house. We currently don't get enough sleep and it's a shock to the system when Monday rolls round again.

Hubby often looks longingly at travel brochures (received on behalf of our houses previous owner who it seems was fairly prolific in his choice of destination). After another long and sleepless night I hear him grumble about how we used to sleep off hangovers on a sun lounger in an exotic location. He loves to explore on a holiday and make the most of his time, happy to find out about what's on the other side of a hill or beyond the usual tourist spots. He likes to sample the local food and drink and immerse himself in the holiday.


Our past is long forgotten for me, now a family of four, it's all about the children.

If you were to ask Bubba, she would say "can we go to the beach?" She'll ask this on any given day, whether it's hot or the rain is falling heavily from the skies. She's only ever had a UK holiday, which is fine, so is fairly hardy on that front. Her other perfect holiday would involve ice cream (again she isn't fussy as to climate for this).


My boy felt the sun on his face and sand between his podgy little toes for the first time this year. It was fascinating to watch him explore this strange sensation for the first time. His perfect holiday would be anywhere that mummy goes (we are at that difficult but lovely 'separation anxiety' stage). What can I say, my boy loves his mummy.

For me, the perfect holiday involves watching those 'firsts'. First time my girl gets to go on a plane which would be the biggest adventure she has had. I don't really have a destination in mind, we'd have fun no matter what (neither of my babies have really experienced snow either yet). I want to watch the first time my boy gets his toes wet in the foaming surf and see his reaction. Or the first snowball we aim at daddy and the giggles as we dodge one coming back to us. The first time my hubby doesn't have to go to work but can panic whether we have all the passports at the airport. It's all about being together and doing things we haven't done before, to me that is the perfect holiday.

Hopefully as a family we have many adventures ahead of us and many years to experience holidays in whatever format.  I'd love to be part of the Mark Warner family in 2015 as I've heard nothing but good things. We are new to family holidays abroad and I'd like to hear how 'newbies' get on abroad and this is why I applied, to represent this sector. It's an exciting year for us, my girl at four is getting to grips with the world and my boy will turn one and just be starting his adventures. I can't wait to record more of our memories here.

This is my entry to be a #markwarnermum and to be a lucky 2015 Ambassador 



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12 Dec 2014

Direction

I haven't been too interested in writing for a while, well that's not entirely true, I can't help but think in words and write it down whether on scraps of paper, in my head or in another lovely new note pad.

I just couldn't seem to write it down here and commit it to paper, I got stuck and didn't know where to begin and soon it seemed to long since I last wrote and I felt the pressure. I think I got caught up after Blogfest on how after all this time, my little space is still just that...little. What's the point in writing as there are so many great blogs about and mine isn't getting any bigger, others have better opportunities, exposure and content. I know, I really did wallow in it and I'm sorry because I never set out to become a 'top blogger' and still now I don't think I'd want that much attention on me.

That for me is the trouble with attending a blogging conference, in themselves they are great and I'm still happy to go. I end up comparing myself unfavourably with others and getting all defeatist about it. That combined with my current level of 'no sleep' it sort of sent me over the edge, so I gave myself a break.

Just as suddenly, I have now tapping away on my computer and scheduling and already I feel lighter again.

So the essence of this garbled post is to say I'm sorry (to myself mainly) for my absence and to remind myself that I need to focus on what I'm doing and living my life rather than comparing myself to others. We are all in this together and we all deserve and need or own space.
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11 Dec 2014

This hand

I remember staring at those impossibly small hands and falling in love. The cute, pink podgyness as those little hands reached out to me.

The way those arms twirled in the air as you got excited or wanted to be picked up is something that will stay in my memory.

Now those hands reach out for mine, the slender little fingers twitch and twirl seemingly of their own accord as energy courses through you. Now nothing phases you and doing up buttons is easy, mastering a zip seemed effortless.


We hold hands as we walk home from school (not an altogether easy task whilst also pushing a buggy). I wouldn't have it any other way, I love how comfortable it feels to have that tiny hand encased in mine.

I'm sure my time is limited, there will come a day I will have to gulp back tears when you no longer want or need to hold onto me. The thought of it makes me sad but I know it won't be 'cool' to hold hands or you'll be busy holding a friends hand.

I'll be forever hopeful that just once in a while you will still reach out for me. For now I'm content to hold your hand whenever you want and no matter what else is going on.
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24 Nov 2014

Rewards and Cake Dates

For a few weeks we've been struggling with Bubba's behaviour, she can fly off the handle without warning and her favourite word is 'no' on repeat and without pausing. It gets infuriating and upsetting all at once and we haven't been able to move on from it.

It came to a head at the weekend, I felt I was loosing myself and the bond with my girl, there was shouting on all sides and it felt horrible. So I did what all good mothers should do, I went on a cake date with one of my besties and she helped me sort through the muddle and suggested lots of things to break the cycle. I had only had three hours sleep as both children had been up at the same time screaming, I'd had a crying fit myself and the husband was out drinking so wasn't about to help us all. So cake was the only option for me alongside a cappuccino and it helped immensely.

The biggest suggestion my friend had was to use a reward chart, although we have tried these before (we never really needed to do one properly until now) as my girl may be strong willed but she is still fairly laid back and could be talked around. So that night whilst still high on sugar and caffeine, I whipped up a dog related reward chart, dug out some special stickers and we were off.

The girl likes dogs and is convinced she will be getting a dog for Christmas (she's not) so it had to be Dalmatians. I did it so each day for a week she will need to get three stars and at the end of the week she gets a surprise. The surprise isn't actually a surprise anymore as I told her we will go to Build a Bear factory and get her Clarice the Reindeer (which I was going to get anyway for me...err I mean her).

So each night she has to stay in bed or if she wakes then she has to go straight back to bed (last week she had been refusing to do this and instead sat at her gate moaning and whining to go downstairs usually around 2am...joy!), the second star is to be happy, she has to stop refusing to do everything I ask of her and to stay calm, third star is earned if she goes to toilet in the morning and evening - the girl can seriously hold her wee and won't go on waking up (sometimes waiting until about 10am before she goes).

So far so good, she has risen to the challenge and earned all three stars on the first day, although we had a few issues at times. I feel more positive already and got on really well with Bubba which was a blessing, the week can and probably will bring lots of challenges but so far so good.

The morale of the story is that when you don't know what to do or whether you can carry on, go out with a friend, forget the diet and just eat cake. The answers will present themselves and if they don't well you've still had some lovely cake and a good natter.

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19 Nov 2014

In the shadows

Whatever the struggle, where ever you are, just look into the shadows as I'll be there. I'll be ready to hold your hand, stroke your hair and tell you that you are and always will be loved.

When life seems too hard and you can't make sense of things. Look to the skies, I'll be there lighting your way, showing you the silver linings and making stars twinkle for you.

If all you can see are clouds, rain and puddles, hold out your arms. I'll keep you dry, hold your hand to jump in puddles and remind you that day turns to night turns to day. What seems bleak now will soon be gone to be replaced by blue sky again.

When you get scared of the dark, let me be the light that guides you. Remember strength and peace come from within, I will always give you my strength, my peace and my life. You will never be alone.

When you arrived in this world, a piece of my heart stayed within you and you, in turn, fill my whole heart with love. Whatever passes our way, I will try my hardest to protect you, make you feel loved and remind you how special you are. I'll endeavour to be there no matter what and every day I feel lucky and blessed to know you and to be your mummy.

Painted just for me
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17 Nov 2014

My Day at Blogfest 2014

This year I spent a rare day alone (without kids) at Mumsnet Blogfest. Obviously I wasn't alone but in a throng of over 300 bloggers and boy can they talk!

On arrival there was a queue to get in which added to the anticipation and nerves, after stalling until the last minute I'd only booked my tickets a few days before. Having also been to Britmums live (last year), I found arriving a lot less intimidating mostly because the venue is more sprawling and you don't walk directly into a wall of women (& a smattering of men) instead you glide down an escalator which helps acclimatise you.

The facilities and staff were great and from a delegate point of view it all ran smoothly. The main hall didn't feel over stuffed and the seats were comfy. There was always someone on hand to take your glass away or direct you towards the next destination.

The programme had a mix of brilliant speakers and experts but the subject matter stayed at high level. This is no bad thing but I found Britmums had more sessions and they delved deeper, I'm at the stage where I need the nitty gritty of how and why rather than a general overview.

The people I met where lovely and interesting. I'm fairly introvert so I was very nervous. My best advice is to just go and sit next to people in sessions. I had some of the best conversations like this. There is nothing worse than sitting two seats away from someone and then another person leaving a gap - suddenly you become an island!

I'd definitely recommend this conference to a newbie as it's a great way to meet people, learn some things and see what all the fuss is about without loosing your mind on the way.

My only grumble would be (and it's so minor it doesn't really matter) having the lights up a bit whilst a session was under way because for anyone taking notes, it was slightly more difficult in the dark.

My favourites from the day were the lovely Tara from The Sticky Fingers blog as she gave great advice on how to tailor your blog if you want to make money. Paul Armstrong spoke quickly, provided lots of information and its the second time I've seen him speak and it's always informative. The Keynote speaker and panel debates were really interesting to listen to and helped motivate me. All in all a great day and I'd highly recommend going.
I'm not sure whether I will return next year but that's more to do with me than the conference, I find it really difficult coming away from events like this. You get the high of attending and seeing like minded people all together but this also leads (for me anyway) to a sense of what is it all about! I can't help but compare myself to others and see them doing better/more imaginative/more readers/better photographs...on and on the list goes and I get a bit numb and don't want to carry on writing.
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7 Nov 2014

School Run Mums

Dear SRM's (School Run Mums)

I know that on a Monday morning you just about manage to leave the house after locating lost PE kits and stuffing packed lunches but please spare a thought for us newbies.

I too have struggled with convincing my three year old that yes she does need to wear trousers and not a fairy tutu. With lack of sleep and a moaning (teething) 6 month old, I too am in no mood to be doing this. What would help enormously would be you not standing like a gaggle of geese right in the way of the nursery entrance. Yes I'm aware that your child also goes into the entrance next to ours but that's not until my baby is safely playing in her classroom. 

We have to run the shecain of older siblings running into our way, book bags being swung and hitting my kids head (yes her head and thanks SRM for not even apologising on behalf of your errant child). My preschooler doesn't need much convincing that she shouldn't be going in and this becomes her main evidence.

Again, I'm aware a lot of you nursery SRM's have older children and don't need to make any more mum friends or particularly want to stop and chat but we are new to all this and a bit eager. It's upset me in the four weeks we've been doing the school run that people aren't pleasant, you don't even smile or nod hello. Our children are all in the same class and I was always brought up to be polite. Surely a smile isn't too difficult. 

As you may be aware, my new tactic is to smile broadly and say hi to you, especially those of you who avert your gaze (Ffs! what is that all about?). I may come across as manic but it helps me when I'm feeling isolated by you in your little mum coven.

Oh and as we walk out of the playground again it would be fantastic if your three children don't take up the whole pavement, making me wait for you all to pass. Then no one has the courtesy of thanking me (again a nod and a smile would be fine instead). 

Sorry to go on a bit but we are new to this, I love the idea that my girl gets to go to this lovely school and all that entails. As I mentioned, we are a bit keen so I'll probably be one of the offenders this time next week.

K
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28 Oct 2014

How Life Looks 6 Months In


This is my boy at six months old - He seems to be growing at an alarming rate and it's fun to watch but scary all the same that time is passing so quickly.

So far he likes to eat - the most unfussy child ever, he just keeps opening his mouth for more food, regardless of what it is. His current favourites seem to be sweet potato and petit filos

He has started to shun sleep during the day, preferring to fall asleep on me rather than in his cot. Great for him, nice sometimes but a bit difficult with a unruly three year old in the mix.

Cub wants to walk and isn't happy laying down any more, he now sits unaided but still falls if he is tired. More than anything he is happiest on his feet.

His sister is his world, he tries to touch her hair at every opportunity and laughs if she even looks at him. She in return seems to be thawing towards him and wants him to sit in the back of the car with her and she sometimes holds his hand. A real improvement.

A new sound he is making is "ga ga" and he also now moans a lot too. It seems almost constant! 

On that note, I'm hoping its teething that makes him moan as we now have two bottom front teeth of which I'm immensely proud.

His preference is always to have his legs up and arms behind his head. A proper little lad.


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20 Oct 2014

Nursery School Friends

We've been doing the school run for three weeks now. It's a stressful fifteen minutes and often a blur, thankfully Bubba is still buying into the whole walking to school business.

She goes in fine and has a little friend who she wanders off with. The problem is that no one wants to be my friend, I'm aware that makes me sound stalkerish!

Our first morning (I had to stay) I chatted to a few mums who also had to stay. I came home feeling optimistic and excited for Bubba and myself on this new journey. I smiled and chatted over the next few days to the same woman (& a few others). I'm not naturally an extravert and find it difficult to push myself out there but I do try my hardest.

Over the last two weeks some women seem to have bonded and stand in little gaggles together. A few already know each other as they have older children at the school, a few have made friends as they wait. The same woman who I spoke to and asked how her son was getting on in those first days, she ignores me now. She has made a friend and the two women wait for each other, stand together and she will literally blank me now.


Hubby tells me not to worry and who cares. But it's not so easy when you are the one seeing the same women each day and nobody talks to you. I feel invisible and don't want it to rub off onto Bubba. I can't often think of what to say, anxiety floods my brain and I can't think of intelligent things to start a conversation off.


It feels like I'm back at school being ignored by the popular girls. I'm more relieved than Bubba that it's half term this week. It's nice to get away from the feeling that I'm in a live version of Mean Girls, it's honestly like being back at school myself. Oh well, only another year of this class, next year we get to go to big school and then it'll be the same parents throughout her school journey.
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16 Oct 2014

Copying Sentences


This girl started nursery school last week and already she has an air of maturity about her, in that 'I know best' way.

She has become like a little parrot, repeating things we say in context and at a later date, it can be fairly funny but also slightly mortifying.

Shamefully one of my sayings "Oh God" has been something she has started to say, So now if she drops something like lego, she'll roll her eyes and say it. I'm now trying hard to say 'gosh' instead but she hasn't picked up the change.

The other day she said "mummy don't come downstairs, I've made a right old mess", that comes from hubby and I found it really funny as it sounded exactly like he says it.

My other two bad habits are saying 'right' at the begining of every sentence and now she copies that. I also say 'ok?' at the end of a sentence which again she now says.

The other week, weary with tiredness I managed to drive the car into the side of a kerb at Bluewater, damaging one of the tyres (our third in two weeks) so I became slightly distraught and said 'sh*t' and all I could hear through my shocked tears was "sh*t, sh*t, mummy what does sh*t mean, mummy what's sh*t". As you can imagine, not my finest hour!

It's funny but also alarming that what we say comes directly out of their mouths and I'm hoping that they don't come out at school!
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14 Oct 2014

Wonderful Weaning - 5 Step Weaning Plan

Now my boy is fast approaching six months, it's about time his taste buds get a look in. With Bubba it was a flurry of activity and excitement, I couldn't wait to get started making huge batches of home cooked meals and purees. I had everything I needed: bibs, spoons, tiny pots and a raft of Annabel Karmel books to get me started. 

I started her at 5 1/2 months and took my role very seriously, this time I'm slightly in denial and I don't want my baby to grow up. But he is ready and so I'm going to try a combination of puree and baby led weaning, taking it easy and slowly.

The wonderful people over at Cow & Gate have created a brilliant '5 step weaning plan' on their website which provides information on the five stages of weaning and gives recipes and suggestions along the way.


 I love the simple, uncluttered approach on the website, we've always been fans of Cow & Gate as we use their baby milk powder anyway. I read the first few steps on my phone, after a long day with the children. I didn't have a great attention span and this site was really helpful in letting me digest the key information quickly. It's sometimes difficult to take it all in and conflicting advice can have your head in a spin, let alone adding in a healthy dose of sleep deprivation.

I love the little snippets of advice along the way, it wasn't condescending or waffley but clear and simple.

"They all get there in the end, so don't rush - it's fine to repeat steps until your baby is ready to move on".

I found this helpful and comforting because even as a second time mum, a lot of what I learnt last time has got lost in my vacant mind. The steps give you goals to work towards and it explains what you should feed your baby and why.

I especially loved the top tips section which has a nice conscise summary and advice you sometimes forget although it's so simple

"Smile - if you show enthusiasm for a new food, its more likely they will too!"

You get to see lots of recipes and a precise shopping list and you can add your details, pictures and recipes to your own page too so it becomes a very interactive place.

It's actually getting me excited again where as before I was slightly fearful on how I'd fit in feeding my boy new tastes as well as all the pressures of family life.

As you can see from the photos: So far he wasn't keen on carrot, liked the Cow & Gate pouch of apple and pear (Bubba also demanded some of this so the two shared a pouch at lunchtime). Most of all he loved mashed banana.

Next week it's parsnip, butternut squash and another pouch as it's easy to take these out and about on our travels.

If you are thinking of weaning or just want a reminder, do go over to the website for a quick peek. There is also a great competition at the moment where you can win if you upload a video of your baby trying new tastes.

I want to thank Cow & Gate for bringing this fab website to our attention and the extra bits to help us on our way.



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12 Oct 2014

The Grind

I've written and scrapped this post several times as it just sounds like a whingefest. So I apologise in advance but thought it important to document the difficulties as well as the fun times.

I'm weary, tired and down right lost somewhere in this motherhood maze. I seem to turn a corner thinking "this shizzle isn't too bad, I can juggle this kid business" only to go three more steps and wonder why the hell I'm doing this and the children don't even seem to like me very much.

My preschooler has started big school nursery and I can feel her worry and tiredness seeping out the edges every day. The boy has decided he wants to be on the move but unfortunately hasn't got the ability yet. So he moans.all.the.time.

Sleep isn't on our side which always makes things feel worse. The boy wakes and we put the dummy back in, then Bubba wakes from a nightmare (seriously these darn things are regularly waking us all up). This is an ongoing situation.

I'm trying to loose weight and I'm now 1 stone 7lb lighter but it's getting harder to keep myself motivated. I often wonder what the point is and yeah I'll just have a bloody cupcake if I want one.

I feel rather inadequate, one of those 'am I good enough, does anyone like me, will my children learn the right things from me?' How am I supposed to teach them to love themselves when I'm making such a shambles of it.

How can I tell Bub to make friends at school when I struggle with the mums in the playground. A smile but chewing over in my brain 'how have these women got so much to say to each other?' 'Do they know each other'.

My mind is in overdrive and the grind is getting to me a bit. How do you cope with it? What can I do to get myself out the other side?
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10 Oct 2014

Sleep No Sleep

Another weary morning where my eyelids feel like they have sandpaper attached to them and scratching at my eyes. Sleep was interrupted several times in the night and it was another early start with both babies. They seem unaffected by the early start / night waking and are as lively as anything.

My brain feels like its dripping with treacle and my throat is rough and tender (stress always attacks my throat first).

Last week I was fairly philosophical, telling hubby "Well they are kids, they don't always sleep, we have to suck it up" as he grumbled  through the morning.

This week I'm not so easy going, I actually feel right royally pee'd off.

Lack of sleep breaks you when its consistent, you can't remember what sleep was like and for me I feel like my soul weeps. It's hard to focus my way through another full day with two mini dictators.

The worst bit is that it isn't even the littlest causing us the most pain, you'd think at five months old that he is within his rights to get us up and keep us up. He is, after all, a baby!

But no one told me that by 3 1/2 my lovely girl would be a regular night waker. Her motives are a little more complex than the boys 'I need a wee' or a slight accident in bed (we've been lucky it's happened only a handful of times but these are fairly concentrated in to a few weeks).

The biggest surprise is that her imagination is keeping us all from our sleep 'mummy I had a dream, a moth with bright blue eyes was chasing me'. That was enough to give me the willies too! Or 'talking dogs daddy, they woke my sleep up'.

She does now (usually) go back to sleep but no one ever chuffing told me that nightmares could be so disruptive for us all.

At least twice a week we have been woken by her, 1am and 3am seem to be when her mind is the most active. We follow a relaxing bath, book, bed routine and leave a light on as she isn't too keen on total darkness.

It feels like we may never get sleep ever again. At the moment the boy seems to be a good sleeper but a few teething issues have had us up and I'm sure those darn teeth will start to keep us up more and more.

I can't imagine a time when we will get sleep again and it becomes a rare occurrence that we get woken. Well I can imagine that time but not for many years yet! At least the little one gets to catch up on his sleep.
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8 Oct 2014

Easy Meals - Flashy Beans

As a mother of two small people and a Slimming World convert, my meals have all become full of veg as it's easy to cook and quick.

So now, at any opportunity I try to pump as much veg into each meal as I can.

We decided to have jacket potatoes for dinner and I do like normal beans but sometimes I want something a bit different. Now I don't think we will go back to 'normal' beans any time soon as this packs a punch on flavour and texture.

Ingredients:
Red onion
Borlotti Beans (tin)
Plum tomatoes (tin)
Mushrooms (cut up smallish)
Chicken stock cube
Smoked paprika
Onion granules
Garlic Salt
Cayenne (or chilli) powder
Sweetener 

Method:
 Fry the onion and mushroom

Add the plum tomatoes and all the spices

Boil vigorously for five minutes to reduce the tomatoes

Add the beans and turn the hear right down to a simmer

Add water (1/2 tin) but it depends on how juicy you want it

Cook with lid on for another ten minutes

Enjoy

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3 Oct 2014

Book Buddy Review - Life Canvas Stationery

As part of the Parragon book buddy scheme we get to review a fantastic selection of books.

This month is a little different as we got sent a lovely Paris set which is part of their Life Canvas range.

I love a notebook and they are scattered around our house, much to hubs amusement.

My girl also likes a book to write in or pretend to use as an order book for her pretend restaurant.


But this book is just for me, so far I've used it to make our holiday prep lists and now it's used to jot down ideas for the blog. I like that it's small enough to take around in my bag and I do have to have a bit of a tussle with Bubba as she tries to scribble in it.

I have relented and allowed her to take charge of the set of sticky notes. She likes the Parisian theme and I'm finding them stuck on walls everywhere.

Check out more reviews over on the Parragon Facebook page.


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24 Sep 2014

A day like this

Some days I'm tearing my hair out by 8am and know I can't stay in with the kids all day. Other days it's all going well and then rapidly goes down hill. Then you get those rare days that just seem to be relaxed and we end up ambling through a whole day at home.

This day I knew my little man needed a couple of decent kips as he was coming out the other side of a cold and hadn't slept well during the day as we'd been doing so much.


He'd already had a long morning sleep, then fell asleep again at his 2pm bottle. 
Us girls filled our morning with stickers, tv and baking cakes.


And decorating and then eating them

She decided to do a bit of play cooking too and I managed a quick sit down before the boy woke up demanding attention.
And a quick cup of tea for her brother...
(This picture wasn't as cosy as it looks, the whole time Bubba was squealing and shouting 'eehhhh he's getting slime all over my cup' followed by prolonged screaming).

This day was made more special because I know as of next week we will not have mornings like this because school starts and she'll be in the system. No more lazy mornings unless she is unwell (which is rather not have those days). No more kicking back until school holidays.
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21 Sep 2014

The holiday...

My little girl started to grow up.

As we neared the end of our holiday and hubby was reading to Bubba, I looked at her and saw her hair seemed a little longer and straighter, her arms and legs more sure of themselves and her confidence brimming over.

She had a ball on holiday, making new friends nearly every day which was a first for her, confidence in the swimming pool and an ability to climb, it seems, almost anything. She took each new development in her stride whilst I was sat wondering how my baby had grown up.

I realised that she is going to continue stretching her boundaries and I'll have to keep up. Her fearless nature is brilliant and she can follow through a plan with a steely determination. 
At Peppa pig world she was insistent that I sit in the back of Daddy Pigs car, which I dutifully did, because she was driving. So I had to be content with looking at the back of her head, at first I felt like the hired help but I realised that it was great she wasn't bothered doing something new alone and as long as she knew I was there, she didn't need me to be sat beside her. I hope that she keeps this up as she gets older because it's a key skill to have.
With two children it was never going to be a relaxing break and our girl certainly kept us busy. Although I came home slightly exhausted, it was great to see her embracing open spaces, new ideas and experiences with such gusto.

Not forgetting my boy, he experienced a fair amount of firsts too. First time on holiday, sleeping in a completely new room (didn't faze him at all, a few mornings he slept in until 8am - he goes to bed at 6pm) and his first time at the beach and swimming. As usual, he took it all in his stride and continued to be my little smiley boy.

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4 Sep 2014

I'll miss...

My baby has been off school for almost ten weeks and although at first I worried, now I'm aching for it not to end. Never will id get this moment in time back, next year she will be older and wider and not so full of wonder. 

I'll miss...

The way she demands I wipe her hands 50 times a day when she's right next to the wipes

How she says "mummymummymummy..." without pausing or waiting for a reply a million times a day

The heart stopping race to the toilet when she's bursting because she refused to go when we were actually near a toilet.

Leaving the room tidy only to come back a minute later and it looks like a tornado has ripped through our house.

Finding piles of wipes where she takes it upon herself to wipe her hands.

Not having an audience every time I go to the loo

The noise. When she's here it's loud and I often say I can't get a minutes peace but when she's gone, it's oh so quiet.

The way she asks what we are going to do today, tomorrow, the next day etc even before today has started.

Cuddles, when she's tired or bored or wants my full attention, she asks for a cuddle on my lap.

How she constantly asks for food, sometimes I wonder how she fits it all in.

Most of all I'm going to miss the chatter, the laughter and her giggles. I'll watch the clock until she is back with me again.

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29 Aug 2014

Right of Passage - A Nose Issue


In some ways, it was a week if like to forget but then it's always going to be a right of passage kind of event. I thought we'd gone past the time my daughter would experiment and put something up her nose...I was wrong!

I had suggested we go to the library or Sainsburys (we have a massive one near us with toys and clothes) but the toddler was playing up. She decided she wouldn't put shoes on and get ready, the baby was late having his feed and when Bubba said she didn't want to go out anyway (or rather shouted it at me), I told her that was fine but I would ignore her if she continued to shout at me, so settling down whilst the boy fed, I put Homes Under The Hammer on and as she was next to me I thought nothing untoward would happen.

A few minutes later she sidled up to me with a huge smile on her face, "mummy I've got one of your flowers" all said in a sing song voice. I looked confused and wondered what flowers "up my snozzie" and she tipped her head back and I could see, sitting at the opening of her nose, a pussy willow catkin - it was only when she snorted it back that I realised we had a problem and I wished I'd acted as soon as I saw it. Poor little man got almost thrown back into his bouncer and I stood up and did my best impression of a headless chicken. I swore a few times and almost cried, I then shrieked at her not to move or do anything else, I asked her to try and sneeze the catkin out but she hasn't really got the hang of blowing her nose.

I then ran upstairs swearing under my breath and again did a headless chicken dance trying to work out what to do and where I'd put the tweezers. I called hubby, my mum and my dad and nobody answered their phones. I rushed back downstairs and made bubba put her head back on the cushions, she saw the tweezers and she then freaked out, started crying and saying sorry.

Without almost thinking, I reached in and managed to grab at the little catkin (thank god it was hairy as otherwise we would have been straight to A&E), in one fluid movement I'd got the tweezers in and the poor drenched in goo catkin out. I got a massive adrenaline hit and sat there giggling whilst Bubba was just shocked - probably because of my initial panic.

I also promised her loads of stuff and so we headed out to Sainsbury's and she came home with a new toy because I was so relieved I didn't need to haul two kids to hospital and it had come out so easy. Hopefully she won't do it again but hey you never know, I hadn't realised how prolific sticking something somewhere for children is and heard a few stories along the way!

The summer holidays are anything but quiet for us! Roll on school...


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26 Aug 2014

Post Birth Body - 4 months in

Bikini ready, er no! Not in any way, shape or form. The annoying thing is that in the picture below, I am back to pre pregnancy weight but not shape. I'm still in maternity trousers and loose fitting tops. I've lost a stone in four months by following the Slimming World mantra as previously blogged about.


My main trouble now is that I incurred Diastasis Rectus Abdominis which is where the muscles tear apart to allow for baby to grow but don't knit back after pregnancy. The way to check if you have this is being able to insert fingers in the hole near your belly button (google it and there are various youtube videos on how to see if you have this).

So in the picture above, that there is some fat undoubtedly but also my internal organs poking through the thin layers. Eewww! My bump was extremely front loading which at the time I thought was good but turns out it put too much of a strain on my now flabby muscles.


I've done my research and had some brilliant advice on what to do via Instagram (I'm @bubbababble if you want to find me). As I now need to strengthen the muscles and try and get them to fuse together it's a case of doing specialist exercises and no crunches or planks as these make it worse. I hate that I still look pregnant and my daughter mentions my big belly.

Looking on the web I came across Bikini body mommy on YouTube and she has a whole (free) fitness program on post pregnancy. I tried but needed a slightly shorter work out so at the moment I'm doing Vicki Pattinsons 7 day slim. It's perfect in that it's 10 minutes of cardio a day, all simple exercises that use your own body weight rather than extra equipment. Just what I need as I tend to an exuberant toddler in the summer holidays and a baby.

I'm also doing the Postnatal Slim down by Lindsay Brinn and concentrating on the core exercises especially for this condition. It's hard work but I really want to wear my own clothes again and not buy the bigger sizes because they don't fit.


I hope I'm slowly getting there and I've been out a few times (although I felt completely self conscious). I still can't bring myself to put a swim suit on but hopefully by our holiday next month I will be able to wear one. Fingers crossed.


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18 Aug 2014

Peep inside Kids Books


We love books, Bubba has so many that her shelves are bulging under the weight. I love buying things (especially books) so you can see where my problems lie. The 'Peep inside' Zoo book by Usborne has been a firm favourite in our house for a long time and it appeals to my girls love of animals. It takes you around the zoo and in a fairly adult way explains about the animals. It's a real feast for the eyes...



So you can only imagine my overexcited sprint to the tills in the book shop today (I was fairly giddy to be at Bluewater as it was anyway - money was burning its way through my pocket). Usborne have done it again and produced a peep inside animal homes. I'm already in love, it's beautifully illustrated and informative.






This isn't a collaboration, it's just the love of a really good book series.
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