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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