January 2015

This is a great idea to focus on all the positives in your life and help you re-focus. Curtesy of Cathy Lavitoire at www.sweetthings.blogspot.co.uk

This is my thankful list.  I’m sure there are more things that could or should be listed (!) so may be added to/updated over time!  But this is my first go.  This has really made me realise what I have got to be thankful for. A great exercise to do.

1. My children. I am so blessed and thankful for my two children. My boy is 4 1/2 years old and my girl is 9 months old. Everyday I look at them and can’t believe they are mine. i may not have had the births I wanted but at least thank god I have them.  I cherish that every day.  They give me purpose, enable me to focus and make me a better person. They are both so beautiful, wonderful and perfect in every way. I think I’ve enjoyed motherhood even more second time round. I’ve realised how rewarding it is. Being a mother is a privilege and the best job I’ll ever have.

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2. My husband. If only he knew how proud I am of him. He’s the love of my life, my soul mate. I was lucky enough to meet him young and we have a wonderful life together. Together we have made our children, a home for our children and a wonderful life for our children. When times have been hard we have pulled through together. When one is weak the other is strong. A true partnership. The love of my life.

3. My mum. The strongest woman I know. My rock and my inspiration. So kind and generous, always there for me, always there for our family. She is the most wonderful nanny to my children, they are lucky to have her. I love watching her with my children and the close bond they have. I don’t know what I would do without her.

4. My home and where I live. My home feels like a home. It has heart and soul and keeps my family safe and secure. How lucky we are to have such a home. My family are all real home birds and we love spending time together at home. I know my children feel happy and safe there.  We’re lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the world, 5 minutes from beaches.  Being by the sea is so wonderful.  We really need to get there more!

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5. My job. Although I moan about having to work I realise I am fortunate to have a job which has given me a career to be proud of.  My job makes me part of who I am and a role model to my children.  My job provides my family with financial security, a home, and a future that is more promising.  

6. Family holidays and special time.  My family always spend lots of quality time all together at least once a week. From a special beach walk, to a week in cornwall, we always make sure we spend as much time together as we can, creating wonderful memories and experiences to look back on.  Our favourite thing is looking at photos of all the places we’ve been and memories we’ve created.

My fav view this year

My fav view this year

7. My best friends/my mummy friends.  You know who you are.  There for me when I need them despite how far away.  What fun times we had in the past and are having in the present.  I’ve got some amazing memories and many more to make I’m sure.  I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing fellow mummys and make some new friends too.  It’s a pleasure to share my time with these special mummys and my children.  So many special, inspiring people.

8. Health.  Thankfully my family and I are generally fit and healthy.  I have my mum to thank for getting me into health and fitness at an early age, so I’ve always exercised and recognise the importance of this both physically and mentally.  I hope I can pass this mind set down to my children.  Appreciating the simple things in life are important. Looking after myself for my children is important but I could do better!  I may not have everything I wish for in life but I have the people I  love in my life with me and that’s the most important thing.

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I should be the happiest woman alive, I have a wonderful husband, am blessed with two gorgeous children and have a promising career.  Yet I’m sat here wondering what makes someone depressed. Why me. Is there something in me, my genes, that makes me more prone? Maybe it’s just a state if mind, so I should just be able to snap out of it, right? On the outside no one would know there was anything wrong with me. I’m always outwardly happy and positive. A woman who looks like she is coping. I’ve realised one of my anxieties about going back to work is the impact it will have on my mind and not just about being away from my children (obviously that’s very significant too). I wonder, am I still capable of this job? So many doubts. Will I be confident again? My job, that I could once do standing on my head, feels very daunting. I’m feeling quite lost right now. I don’t know what I want. Should I be looking for another job? Is this just the PND talking? What am I really feeling? I feel relief that I’ve told work I’ve been diagnosed with post natal depression. It’s still hard writing those words. I swore after the last time I wouldn’t go back to that place again. Yet here I am once more. Needing some fixing. But it wasn’t within my control. I feel so weak right now and long to be strong again.

I’m trying to plan my last week of maternity leave which is next week. I cannot believe it is here. Every time I think about it I get a wave of butterflies in my tummy and feel slightly sick. It’s a combination of fear of not being able to do my job anymore and the guilt of leaving my children. I keep telling my boy ‘mummys going back to work soon’ and he doesn’t seem fazed. I wonder whether they will need me as much as they need me now. Will they learn to get on without me? I worry they will not need me as much and we will not be as close. Silly I know, but that’s what goes through my mind. I had a lovely quiet day today at home, just me and my baby girl. It was wonderful. Part of me wishes we had had more days like this over the last 10 months, just the two of us in our own little world. I spent a lot of time looking at her today. Really closely, inspecting her face. How beautiful she is. My gorgeous daughter. Growing so quickly. How long ago those days of struggling to breast feed feel now. But at the time it felt like a lifetime. A battle I would never conquer, but I did!

I’ve been ever so busy these last 10 months. We’ve attended every parent and child group going and made lots of new friends. The only concentrated time I had with my new baby where we weren’t gallivanting everywhere, was those first 6 weeks. Especially as I couldn’t drive for a while after my c-section. For a while it was just my baby girl and me during the day, while hubby was working and my boy was at school. How things have changed. There’s a whole big world out there of other mummy’s and babies. We’ve become part of that world now. It IS our world. But we’re soon to be leaving it for a different world. Where we may get to tap in to the old world occasionally but we will only be visitors then not permanent residents. I wonder, will I ever be a permanent resident of that world again? Mmm, maybe. For now I need to get myself strong again and have a new life to get used to.

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I had a lovely day today with some of my mummy friends. We arranged to meet for lunch at one of the pubs in town and then go on to the ‘stay and play’ group at the local children’s centre. It was absolutely peeing down with rain today, one of those days when really all you want to do is stay in with a cup of tea and the fire lit. Anyway, off we went out in the rain to meet our friends and have some lovely mummy and baby time. I’ve met some really great mums whilst being on maternity leave. Some of them I met at pregnancy yoga (which I loved!) and some I met at the baby groups in the early days. All our babies were born within a few weeks, days or even the on same day. It’s been amazing seeing them all grow and develop over the last few months. And an honour to share all those ups and downs with others.

When we arrived at the pub it was still peeing down with rain. I was able to park in the pub car park so I decided not to put baby in the pram (to avoid taking up too much room in the pub) and carry her in. So I grabbed her bag and my bag and quickly ran from the car to the door with my baby in my arms. Why is there always so much stuff to carry? I thought to myself. We got there just as my friends arrived and sat on the big long table in the corner next to the fire (lovely). Amazingly the pub had enough high chairs for all six babies! I was very impressed. It was quiet when we arrived so it didn’t seem to matter that some of the babies were squealing. However quite a few couples soon arrived, obviously looking for that cosy corner to have a nice quiet lunch. You could see the look of dread as they looked over at our table of 6 babies! That used to be me, I thought to myself, so I understood their looks of disapproval in some way. In another way, it annoyed me. At one point a lady came up to us and asked if we could move the pushchairs so she could see the fire. Fair enough I suppose. Anyway we had a lovely lunch, chatting away about our little ones and how tired we all are.

My baby was pretty grumpy after lunch due to a lack of sleep, so I decided to drive around the block a few times to see if she’d have a quick nap before the stay and play group. Funny thing was a couple of my friends did the same thing so we ended up following and passing each other in our cars! The things we do! My baby took ages to fall asleep so I ended up parking up and sitting in the car for 10 minutes so she could sleep. I think she would have slept a while but I really wanted to join the mother and baby group as it was one of my last opportunities to do so. So I woke her up and took her in. She played lovely with the other babies, but kept checking I was there, looking up at me with those big blue eyes and grinning sweetly at me.

It always feels so lovely being with all the other mums and their babies. I’m going to miss days like this so much. I hope I stay in touch with them all and hope we stay friends. I’ve met some amazing mummy’s. I remember I met some lovely mummy’s when I had my first baby and lost touch with them after I returned to work. I feel like I’ve become part of a life of mummy friends, from the school and from baby groups. It’s a completely different life, far removed from my other life at work. I really hope I can cling on to part of it.

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Today we went to my friends sons birthday party. It was fancy dress so my boy donned his batman outfit that he got from Father Christmas. We’ve moved on from the pirate costume now, which I think he has worn to the last 4 parties! When we arrived we had that ‘OMG it is fancy dress isn’t it?’ moment, when the first kids we saw were not in fancy dress! But phew then in bounded the birthday boy in his very own batman costume, perfect. And off they both ran together, two bat men together. There’s always the worry at parties that your child won’t join in, especially when the only child they know is the birthday boy. But I was surprised and relieved to see my boy joining in as much as anyone, dancing and jumping around with the rest of the children. He even won one if the dancing games by dancing the best to ‘superman’ by Black Lace! Does anyone else remember dancing to this 20 years ago at kids clubs on caravan holidays?! ‘Clap your hands, ski, wave your hands, hitch a ride, etc…’ Bizarre it still does the rounds at party’s now. So love watching him joining in and having such a happy time. He was so pleased with his balloon sword he had made for him as a prize.

My baby girl meanwhile was not doing so well 🙁 hardly cracked a smile whilst we were there and projectile vomited all over the floor! One minute I’m chatting away to my friend, the next minute my hubby is walking towards me with my baby projectile vomiting everywhere! So we all dashed to the nearest toilet and stripped her off realising we were the most unprepared parents ever for this, no wet wipes, no spare clothes! So she had to stay in her tights and vest (with sick on) and we hunted some wet wipes down to clean her. We all stank of sick for the rest of the party, joy. Meanwhile the sick was cleaned up by my friend and her mum. And it was not just a little bit, it was everywhere!! Why us?! I spent the journey home in the back of the car with my baby, both of us stinking of sick. Not sure what was wrong with her. She’s been waking up crying and coughing at night with seemingly nothing really wrong with her and she’s been sleeping a lot more than normal. Mmm might make an appointment with the doctor this week. That place has been like a second home to me the last few weeks we’ve been to the doctors so much!

Tomorrow I have another keeping in touch morning at work and my baby is at nursery again for another settling in session. I dug out my work bag this evening as I need to take my note book tomorrow. As I went through the contents of the bag I came across the receipt for the pram which I had collected on my last day of work from Mothercare. It seems like yesterday I came home that last day and hung my work bag in the under stair cupboard and that’s where it has stayed for almost 10 months. I don’t understand how 10 months has passed in such a flash. I shed a tear as I think back to how happy I was when I walked out that door from work for the last time before having my baby. I felt like I was walking on clouds. Elated and excited like a child. So I’ve packed my work bag, my babies bag and reminded my hubby what needs organising in the morning for my boy. For the first time I will be leaving the house before my boy goes to school. A little practice for us all for what is to come soon. So now I’m off to bed early and my alarms set for earlier than when the children wake. Not natural really but my new reality.

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This recipe is great for kids and for babies who are being weaned. Its so full of goodness and really healthy. You can use whatever vegetables you have in the cupboard so you don’t have to stick strictly to what I’ve used. I usually make up 1 batch as per this recipe which will Provide 2 meals for 2 children, or in my case 1 child and 1 baby!  There was also enough for me to have a small bowl on the second day!

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

What I used:

1 x onion
2 x carrots
1 x leek
1 x large potato
1 x sweet potato
1/2 carton of passata
Stock cube (I used chicken but any would do)
Approx 1 1/2 pints of boiled water
A little butter
Pepper to season

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What I did:

Firstly I fried the onion in a little butter in a large sauce pan. Whilst the onion was softening I peeled the carrots, potato and sweet potato and cut these in to small chunks. I then added these to the sauce pan. Then I chopped the leek and added this and crumbled in the stock cube to the sauce pan. I gave it all a good stir and then poured in the boiled water. I used approx 1 1/2 pint but you basically need just enough to cover all the vegetables. Finally I added the passata and pepper. The heat was adjusted to a gentle simmer and this was left to cook for about 20 minutes. You can eat this soup puréed or left With the vegetables whole.  I like it half way in between so there’s still some texture but it’s puréed enough for baby to eat easily. So I blitzed mine for just long enough for some of the vegetables to still be intact.

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So today it was another trip to work for me and another trip to nursery for my baby. I felt a bit out of my depth today at work, I’ve been out of the loop for so long I couldn’t join in with any of the conversations and I actually felt uncomfortable being there. I’m not sure I was even that interested. I sat there listening and looking at my colleagues and I wonder whether I need a change. Im not sure I’m needed anymore. I’m not sure stepping back in to my old role is a good thing. It doesn’t seem a lot has changed in the 10 months since I’ve been off. I’m sure this is a common feeling after so long out of the workplace. I must have felt like this last time after returning after my first child but I can’t remember. There was a distinct feeling that I didn’t fit in anymore and that I was not needed. But also that I was not really interested in the discussions or with what was going on. I guess my head is still switched on to full time mum mode. It’s going to take a while for this to change.

Meanwhile at nursery, my baby had a much improved day! Apparently she was much happier today. No tears this time. It’s a relief on one side but on the other side Im sad as she must be getting used to me leaving her. I must not be negative, I must not be negative. It will be a good thing for her. My boy was at nursery from 6 months old and he is an amazing little boy. Nursery didn’t do him any harm. So today she had fun playing in the indoor sand pit followed by roast chicken for lunch, followed by songs and story time. She has a diary now detailing what she gets up to with photos of her having a good time. This is a lovely idea and a great way to reassure parents that children are having a great time whilst they are there. I still have my boys nursery diary. A lovely keepsake. I still love looking through his now. Oh how it seems like yesterday not 4 years! A chapter in his life he will not remember but rests heavily in my memory. A chapter my baby girl is just about to start, 4 years after her brother did at the same nursery. I’ve no doubt she will thrive and love it as much as he did. And I am sure she will have a nursery diary full of great memories and pictures just as her brother does, for me to look back on in the years to come.

Everyone says when you have children ‘they don’t stay little for long’ ‘they grow up so fast’ and they really do!! In a blink of an eye my baby girl will be starting school just like my boy!! And nursery will be a distant memory once more.

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So my baby went to her second nursery settling in day today and apparently she was ‘more sensitive’ today. What that means is that she cried, a few times. I had forgotten to tell them she had been under the weather so explained this might have been the reason. Or was it because she missed me? It felt strange walking away and leaving her in the nursery. Work feels more normal, the more I go there. Today I was there to try and agree my working arrangements, which thankfully we did. I’ve been worrying about it for weeks now. I’m relieved they have agreed a temporary reduction in my hours and I’ll be taking some annual leave so I’ll be starting with 3 day weeks. This feels manageable right now. Especially with the realisation I have post natal depression again (I had it with my first). The reality of work is getting closer. I keep looking at my children and reminding myself that I’m working for them. For their future. Why I’m torturing myself over this I do not know. A new chapter in our lives is starting. It’s both sad and exciting at the same time. We have lots to look forward to this year so I’m focusing on that.

My baby is getting christened in 4 weeks and it’s been making me think about my beliefs. Something I’ve not thought about for a long time. I do believe in God and heaven. I believe that those we have lost have gone to a better place, are watching over us and that we will be together again one day. From my dad who died when I was young, my granny, grandpa and grandad, to the baby I miscarried so early. I do believe they are together looking after each other in heaven for me to meet again soon. Im not religious in the sense I attend church every Sunday. But I like to believe in heaven and life after death. Its a comfort to me.

I’m aware that life can be snatched at any moment. I had a car accident when I was pregnant with my first child. The accident was so severe the police and doctors said they were amazed I survived and it was a miracle I had walked away unharmed. Yet I walked away with my unborn child without a single scratch. Someone or something was looking out for me that day. I don’t know why and I never will understand how I survived that crash. It could have so easily been a different story.

I still think about that accident, 5 years on. Every now and then I flash back to being in that car, when I closed my eyes and thought to myself ‘I’m going to die’. That moment in time is still so fresh in my mind, like it was yesterday. No fear, just acceptance that it was the end. But it wasn’t and I’m lucky enough to still be here, with my hubby and both my children. I am so lucky and I try to remember this every day. When it’s tough and I’m feeling sad I remember that. Sometimes I can go weeks or months without thinking about it but now I’m thinking about it a lot. I’m appreciating my time with my family so much right now.

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This is a favourite of ours as so easy to make and my boy loves anything with rice or pasta. My boy is not keen on meat but loves mince meat so loves chilli, lasagne, bolognese, etc. so we usually make one of these sort of dishes weekly. We don’t have it that spicy though as my boy wouldn’t eat it but you can add as much or as little chilli powder as suits your pallet.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

What I used:

1 x pack of beef mince (could use quorn)
1 x onion
4 x garlic cloves
1 x yellow pepper
About 6 mushrooms
1 x small tin of sweet corn
1 x tin of kidney beans
1 x carton of passata
1 x tsp Smoke paprika
1 x tsp Basil
1 x tsp Chilli powder
1 x Beef oxo cube
A drizzle of Worcester sauce
Small amount of boiled water
Pepper to season

To accompany:

White rice
Sour cream and tortillas (yum yum)

What I did:

I fried the onion and garlic in some olive oil until soft in a large pan (I use a wok) and then added the mince meat. I then added the oxo cube and a small amount of boiled water (just to avoid it going too dry). Then I added the basil, paprika, chilli powder, pepper to season and Worcester sauce. I sliced the yellow pepper and mushrooms and added these to the pan. Finally I added the sweet corn, kidney beans and passata. This was then all cooked through for about 30 minutes. Whilst this cooked through I cooked the rice.

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All you need to do then is serve the chilli with the rice. I use large bowls and serve the chilli on top of the rice. All you need then is a spoon or fork and dig in!! Easy eating!!

Cuddle Fairy
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This is a lovely cake post christmas as not too fattening but still not 100% good either !! Great as a snack or as a pudding for adults and children alike. If you’ve got over ripe bananas to use up this is a perfect recipe. I measure everything in cups (I use a small coffee mug) as it doesn’t matter if you have a little more or less of something, it’s quicker and easier. You can chuck in extra after you’ve mixed it all up if necessary. I added more flour and raisins for example after I’d mixed this today.

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time 25-30 minutes

What I used:

2 x cups of flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 x cup raisins
3 x over ripe bananas
1 x egg
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of butter or margarine
A heaped tsp of cinnamon (the more the better for me!)
1 x tsp of baking powder
A few drops of vanilla essence

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What I did:

Set the oven to approx 170-180c. Lined a shallow baking tin with baking paper. I used a round one but any shape is ok. You could also use muffin cases to make individual cakes. I put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Some people like to cream the sugar and butter first but I find it works just as well by using the all in one method and just chuck it all in. I mixed the ingredients together using a wooden spoon. Then I spooned the mixture in to the baking tin and pop in the oven for approx 30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

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Gym Bunny Mummy
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I’ve not used our slow cooker much and it’s kept at the back of a cupboard so often gets forgotten about. I really should use it more as it makes the most amazing stews and casseroles. They’re convenient as well, you can prepare everything first thing and leave it to cook all day whilst your out or at work.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 6 hours

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What I used:

1 x pack chicken pieces
1 1/2 onions

4 x cloves garlic

4 x carrots
4 x potatoes
1/2 tin marrow fat peas
1/2 tin of garden peas
1 x cup of pearl barley (or lentils)
4 x bay leaves
1 x tbsp Rosemary
1 1/2 pints of chicken stock
Pepper to season

What I did:

I fried the chicken until brown and transferred this to the slow cooker. I fried off the onion and garlic, peeled and chopped the carrot and potatoes and added these to the onion and garlic. This was then all transferred into the slow cooker with the chicken. Then I added the pearl barley, peas, marrow fat peas,Rosemary, bay leaves and stock straight to the slow cooker. I gave everything a good stir and added some pepper. The slow cooker was set for 6 hours on the high setting.

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When I got home at the end of the day the house smelt amazing. All I had to do was quickly steam some vegetables (we had broccoli and cabbage with ours)band serve. The meat was so tender I was able to mush it all up for my 8 month old. My boy eats all his meat when it’s cooked like this in a casserole or stew so great for children and babies alike.

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