You’re having a bath!

I’ve never really been one to indulge myself or spend time relaxing or beautifying myself. Pre-baby, I may have painted my nails or dyed my hair but there was no luxury in it, no time taken or relaxation of sorts. I haven’t been one to relax with a face mask or go to a spa. I was always in a rush, nails barely dry as I shot out of the door to get to the party on time. I don’t think I really knew how to relax. Or maybe I didn’t appreciate what could be relaxing in these, what was everyday or regular tasks.

I used to take showers and baths, of course, but I never spent long in the bath. I didn’t read a book or light a candle. I would listen to music occasionally but that was it.

But now, now I need to relax. I need time to myself. Oh, how ironic is it that when I had ample opportunity to do these things in the past, I never did. I have seen and read frequently on twitter about baths. There’s plenty of adverts out there depicting women in a bubbly bath, eating chocolate or drinking champagne. I couldn’t understand what could be so good about a bath. It wasn’t something I thought of doing to relax (stupid I know).

So, today, my sister ran me a bath. She lit a candle and told me to relax. In the bath. She was going to look after Bubs and I could have some much needed me time.

Initially, I thought “I don’t want a bath”. But then, I thought a bit more.

-I could read my book
– I could listen to some music
– I could lie there and do absolutely nothing

And so I began to realise how advantageous this could be for me, so in I went.

It was lovely. It was like submerging myself into a warm bed. I had a lovely candle burning, a relaxing ocean scent, the bath oil was gorgeous and the heat of the bath just relaxed every knot in my body. I didn’t realise how much I needed that break, until I stepped into the bath. I read my book, successfully avoiding getting it wet. I listened to my favourite relaxing music (bat for lashes) and I just had some time for me. It was enjoyable. I didn’t rush, I didn’t feel bored, I took some time to just do….well, nothing. And I appreciated every single second.

Now I realise why a bath can be relaxing. Closing that door, and locking it most importantly, and submerging myself not only in the water, but in myself, for a short while. It was just what I needed. Now I keep wondering when I can do it again.

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A year at work

I have been back at work for a year now after my Maternity Leave. Part of me can’t really fathom that it’s been a  year,  or even the fact that I was actually pregnant over 2 years ago. Time has just flown by.

To start with, working was tough. I had just got into a little routine with Bubs and I was enjoying my time with her, at last. Not that I hadn’t enjoyed the whole ten months, but things were just getting that little bit easier.

It was hard leaving her with other people, even if they were family. I felt jealous, and worried that I would not have any influence over her life. Crazy I know. Having a Wednesday off has meant that I still get some time with her, and for that I have been really grateful.

Bubs started nursery in September, and that was hard. I couldn’t help but feel guilty and awful leaving her crying with strangers. My mind racing with all sorts of thoughts. But she has really enjoyed going, and seems to be really thriving from the interaction, and all the activities she can do there. She is really growing up, and I can see that she doesn’t need me so much. However I am the first person she calls for in the morning, and during the night. I know we have a bond now, a bond that doesn’t matter whether I am with her 24 hours a day or not. Her smile when she picks me up from work just tells me everything I need to know about that.

So, actual work. It’s been very hard to get myself back into a working frame of mind. I didn’t care much about what I was doing initially, my heart wasn’t in it, I was going through the motions. That is not like me – I am passionate about my role, and my profession, and have also strived to achieve more and do better. But going back I just felt like the enthusiasm was sucked right out of me.

One thing I felt was that going back to work – nothing had changed. Nothing. I was expecting to go back and there have been some changes, but there wasn’t anything at all. I felt like I had woken up from a dream, and that having a baby hadn’t even happened at all.

I think it started to change about 6 months or so ago. Life became normal, work wasn’t a novelty, we had a morning routine, childcare was sorted and things did seem easier.

I had to finish my degree, which was very difficult to start again after  having the break, but when I had finished it, I really felt energised and good about myself 0- it had made me think about my job and how much I am interested in the field I work in.

Another thing which really has helped, was that I have been able to go on secondment within the same place of work, but in a different team. Having this change has really helped me to get back in the zone, and feel like I am using my brain again.

It’s been an emotional year, a rollercoaster of a year in many respects. I feel more myself than I have done since having Bubs, and I feel more confident in who I am, and what I can do. In the end, I think I am glad I went back to work. I have loved having a day off each week with Bubs, and this has given me some special one to one time with her that I have craved. I have also liked the fact I can come to work and be ‘me’, not just a ‘mum’, if that makes sense.

Life has just started to feel like normal again.

Walk to School Month with Kiddicare

Kiddicare kindly sent us a buggy to review to help us support Walk to School Month this October. Walk to school month is an international day when primary schools and nurseries try and encourage as many people as possible to walk to school or nursery.

Walking is not only good for us and our health, but for the environment too. With me also losing weight it was a no-brainer for us to take part in the walk to school month!

The buggy we were sent was the Kiddicare Deko Plus Stroller Pixel Olive.

This buggy is compact and great for short walks like to nursery. The buggy comes with a raincover which is great especially now the weather has changed a bit! The hood gives good cover and has a little window so you can see your child even when it’s raining.

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The buggy is suitable from birth, and has a reclining back seat so that babies can lie flat. This is also great for when Bubs wants a nap! It’s easy to move the back into position too using the straps.

This stroller has added comfort extras such as a reversible padded cover and padded chest pads. which looks lovely and comfortable. The 5 point safety harness is also a reassuring safety measure and I found it easy to strap Bubs into the seat. The straps are easily adjustable to your little ones size.

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It’s easy to put together and putting it down is easy once you’ve figured it out! It is a little fiddly initially to put up/down but it’s something you get used to over time. It’s lightweight and fits easily into the back of my car as well for those times even you are going further afield.

It is lovely to push and feels quite sturdy, it was easy to manouver around corners and different terrain. Bubs did seem a bit big in the buggy however even though she is nowhere near the upper weight limit. The buggy has a lovely modern design and many people commented how nice it looked! There is a shopping basket underneath the buggy which is quite roomy too, which I was surprised about.

This is a great buggy for us at the moment, when Bubs loves walking but also needs a rest for a while as well.

We have really enjoyed using the buggy and getting out and walking to nursery, and also other places, during Walk to School month. I’ve felt so much better for walking and blowing away the cobwebs. Bubs has also enjoyed walking as much as she can, and having the buggy means that she can have a well deserved rest when she needs one.

The Kiddicare Deko Plus Stroller costs £69.99.

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Keeping Schmum

A few friends are having babies at the moment, and I am finding that I am increasingly having to keep my mouth shut when they speak. I am trying to keep schmum.

You know, I am sure loads of people were dying to roll their eyes at me when I was pregnant. But it’s so hard not to start chuckling and to start pissing on your friends pregnant parade. I’m smug – I know how it goes, what happens, the reality. Of course some aspects such as birth are individual but there are always relatable aspects. It’s not fair I don’t think to keep chipping in and telling people how it happened for you. Sure, if they ask for advice, then by all means give it. But it’s pretty hard not to feel smug that you know how it feels, and they don’t, but they soon will, the poor buggers.

I’ve found myself saying ‘get some sleep!’ Or ‘you won’t know what hit you!’ And I cringe inside. It’s so annoying when someone says that stuff. But I can’t help it. There’s other stuff I could say, so it’s probably better I say that, than the other stuff flying around my head.

Here’s just some of the thoughts I’m just dying to tell people, but I know I shouldn’t. Probably because they’d think I was insane.

Keeping Schmum:

– my initial thoughts on motherhood was that it was the worst thing I’d ever done. No unicorns farting rainbows here.

– Breastfeeding was not easy. And you just start walking around naked because it’s easier.

– yeah you’ll be awake for probably the first 168 hours after birth. Nothing can prepare you for that, even a week or two lying in till 11am watching loose women

– take full advantage of the only time you can ever justify takeaway 7 days a week

-You’ll smell sick and/or poo wherever you go. You WILL smell of poo. And sick. And it’ll be in your hair. And you won’t even care coz you’re too tired.

– Poo. In a few weeks all you’ll actually care about is poo.

– In 18 months time, no one will give a hoot how you fed them, trust.

-Meconium only comes off with sandpaper. (Well, it seems that way, or use at least a bag of cotton wool per poo)

-Try not using you’re arms for a few weeks before the due date. Get nifty opening doors and packets of crisps with your feet.

-you will never be alone, ever again. Even in the toilet.

– Yeah, sure you’ll take turns. It’s just you’ll have way more turns than he does.

-I guarantee you’ll argue about washing up within 2 months of the birth.

– but it’s all great and lovely and almost 2 years later, I can look back without flinching.

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Dear Little Sister

I heard you crying before I saw you.

Face, red. Tears and snot mixing into a salty mess across your face. Your eyes were black, and your arms were gesticulating wildly. Uh oh, I thought. Something is wrong here.

You are 6 foot something – tall. You are broad and what people used to call ‘big boned’. Yes, you are a bit overweight. You are a big presence – not necessarily in physical size.

You are wearing a metal headband in your hair; you are wearing what looks like a skater dress with white leggings – like you’re going out to a party. You have trainers on, trainers that are size 10.

You arch your back so that you look like a hunchback at times. Times like this, when you are angry, and shouting. And crying.

You wanted a doll. A Monster High doll. You want this doll, despite the fact you have already spent all your money this month. You think it’s unfair. You want Mum to buy it for you. You don’t care about Christmas. You want it NOW.

It’s not your fault you’ve spent all your money. You can’t help it, you need this doll. You don’t care you spent £20 on Lego Friend last week. Why can’t Mum buy it for you?

You stamp your feet. You shrug and shake your arms. You make groaning, angry glutteral noises. You start hovering over Mum, invading her personal space. You are in her face, pleading, asking, and demanding this doll. It’s only £15 you say. Mum can afford it. What does she mean she can’t afford it? Snot hangs from the end of your nose.

I tell you to take a walk round the shop. Calm down. We can’t talk about it anymore. You say no, you won’t, try to get to Mum. You don’t want to talk to me; you know I won’t buy you the doll. But Mum might. Your voice rises, chalk on a blackboard.

People stare, people back away. I wonder if security will come over in a minute.

I try and stay calm. Mum looks worn down. She can’t remember what she wants from the shop. She has mobility problems and I can tell that she’s struggling to stand up and talk to you at the same time. You start to lean on Mum’s shoulder, crying your eyes out. You want that doll. You’re sorry. You look like you are almost bent over double, leaning on Mum who is a good foot smaller than you. You just wanted that doll. You sob, you sob your heart out in the meat aisle at Tesco.

I know that it can go either way now. I hope Mum does not give in. It only makes things worse.

Mum tells you to go and get a Diet Coke, and you start to calm down. You walk off to find the drink, your sore thumb status really sticking out today.

How does Mum do this every week? Every day?

How do you? How can you understand the world, and be an adult, when all you care about is a doll. I worry about you. I wonder how can anything make any sense at all for you? You cannot shout and cry and wail because you’re 18. And 18 year olds don’t do that, according to the general public.

People stare and judge and look and mutter, because it isn’t what we all do. I don’t covet dolls or Lego. 18 year olds aren’t supposed to do that.

I think about myself at 18, and I think of you now. And that’s when it hits me. It hits me now, more than ever before. You are an adult now – an ADULT. But you’re not, are you? You are frozen in time. It was easy to think you’d grow out of it all, when you were little. But now that number just means you are out there in the world. A little girl, in a six foot tall, size 22 body. Things change now. You will never be like me. I will never be able to relate to you or you to me, in that way. I am your big sister, I take you to Zoos, and watch Disney films with you, and we talk about Eastenders. You don’t have any desire to go clubbing, you’d rather go bowling. You won’t have a career, not like mine anyway. You have no awareness of the world, or of yourself in it. I am glad you don’t understand when people gawp and tut and laugh at you. It doesn’t hurt you, like it hurts me, or Mum.

I wonder what the future brings for you. Your aspirations are so different from mine.

You will forever be my little sister, in every way.

One Stone Down! Weight Loss Update

So, on my weigh in on Friday, I lost a pound, and that means I have lost a stone! It has taken me 16 weeks to loose it, but that includes a two week holiday where I put on a little. It may be slowly but surely, but it’s coming off, and staying off, too.

I am noticing my clothes are much looser, and I almost can’t believe that clothes may be a bit too big for me! Clothes fit better,and I am feeling much more confident.

I was so surprised yesterday that I managed to fit into a pair of jeans which are a size smaller. They are skinny jeans too, not a style of jeans i’d normally choose but as they were in the sale, I thought I would try. I was sure they wouldn’t fit….But they did. And they looked good! It’s a good feeling. I am looking forward to more moments like this soon, as I go down a few more sizes, as that’s a start.

Confidence has really increased, I am dressing better, putting my make up on each day, and I am also wearing my contacts which I had been just not bothering with, more or less since I was pregnant! These are just little things, but by doing them I feel so much better. I don’t really know why it’s taken me to loose weight to sort myself out, but it’s beena  great motivator!

I have tried filling and healthy this last week too. This helped me in a week where I had used up all my weeklies in two days! I had been a bit naughty and omitting to track everything I eat, but I have started to track every single thing and its made a difference! Filling and healthy has really surprised me, in that it is actually filling and healthy! I am loving the Warburtons’ brown thins for sandwiches, and crumpets for breakfast. It’s nice to not track, but at the same time its good to focus on more healthy foods rather than junky foods all the time! the filling and healthy approach is similar to the slimming world approach (well, its similar, there are major differences) but I am familiar with that style of eating, where you eat until you’re full rather than point. It can be difficult though to know when to stop, and if you’re greedy like I can be, its very hard to put the fork down! It’s good to have the flexibility of trying both approaches though.

Some things I have enjoyed eating recently:

Cauliflower Egg Fried Rice

Quorn Style BLT on Warburtons Thins (8pp or free on F&H)

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Quorn style BLT with sweet chilli philli 8pp and really scrummy #weightwatchers #wwuk #wwchat #teamww #propoints #lunch #quorn

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Veggie and Chickpea Curry (free on F&H)

Chickpea and CousCous Salad (6pp)

Lentil Chilli (free on F&H)

Waitrose Mexican Yucatan Chicken Soup (5pp)

Some Evening Snacking:

Hartley’s sugar free/low calorie jelly (0pp or free on F&H) – not sure why i hadn’t eaten any jelly for ages, cos its lovely and really hits the pudding spot!

Haribo mini bags (1pp per bag)

Freddo 3pp

Satsumas (I am obsessed with these at the moment!) 

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0pp Satsuma loveliness. Love this time of year and satsumas always remind me of winter and Christmas! #weightwatchers

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Diet Coke (always a good choice when I really want something to eat as it ‘fills me up’)

So, here’s to another good week. 10 weeks till Christmas, I am really hoping I can lose 10 pounds by Christmas at least.

Egg Fried Cauliflower ‘Rice’!

I have heard a lot about cauliflower rice, but I wasn’t really sure what to do, or how to make it. However, curiosity got the better of me, and also the fact that I wanted to cut down on carbs. Cauliflower seemed the answer. I totally just threw this all together, but it was lovely, and I couldn’t have guessed it was cauliflower, and not real rice.

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If you are doing Weight watchers, then on a Filling and Healthy day, this meal is free, or if you are tracking points, you need to point the eggs and the peas. Pretty sure this would be free on slimming world as well, but best to check on that.

I used:

half a cauliflower, grated using normal grater to make the ‘rice’

1 Onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Babycorn, Courgette, red pepper chopped small (or use whatever veg you want)

handful of frozen peas

2 eggs, beaten

soy sauce, to taste

black pepper, to taste

What I Did:

I  started off by frying my onions and garlic really well, until translucent and just starting to brown. This can take a few minutes.

I then added my peppers and courgettes, and let them cook well for a few minutes. I then added the baby corn and again left to cook for a few minutes. I then added the frozen peas and stirred them into the veg.

Once your veg is all cooked through, add your cauliflower ‘rice’. Stir well, and let it cook for several minutes, stirring frequently. I wanted to make sure the cauliflower was well cooked so I left it for a few minutes, and tasted it to see if it was cooked enough.

Once cooked through, add your beaten eggs. I like to pour the eggs in, leave for a moment so it starts to solidify, and then stir quickly to break it up. This way you know your egg is well cooked. Add soy sauce and pepper to taste, and stir to ensure all veg and egg is thoroughly mixed through.

Serve and eat immediately!

 

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Museum Selection – Tea Caddy and Tea Cup Review

When Museum selection asked me if I’d like to review their tea caddy and tea cup, I thought it sounded a great idea! Museum Selection is a website that works with many museums and galleries providing gifts for their gift shops. Their items therefore are steeped in nostalgia and relate back to days gone by.

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The tea caddy I was asked to review is beautiful, and would make a great gift. One thing I would say however is that a few people have indicated to me that they feel the shape is a little urn like, but I love the elephant design and detail.

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The tea itself is very nice. I always worry that tea in such an item would be cheap and tasteless, but this is a pleasant afternoon tea that went down lovely. It’s an easy to drink tea that most people would drink and find agreeable. I would personally make this tea in a teapot, rather than in the cup.

The tea cup is beautiful. It’s bone china and has been hand finished with 22ct gold. It’s so nice I don’t really want to drink out of it. The design has a 20s/30s style to me, and it looks so elegant. Again, a great idea for a gift for a tea lover. I feel extremely elegant sipping on some tea in my posh cup and saucer.

Elephant Afternoon Tea Caddy is £9.99, Tea Cup and Saucer £24.99 from Museum Selection.

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I was sent some afternoon tea in a tea caddy with a cup and saucer in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bagabook Tote Bag Review

Bagabook are a unique company with a unique product – a book cover carrier which protects your book or diary, as well as being functional like a bag.

I was asked by Bagabook to review some of their new range which they have recently launched. I was sent a Tote Bag, but the range also includes matching book covers, iPad covers and a scarf. There are three designs in the range: liquorice, candy stripe or bouquet. I was sent a bouquet tote bag, and the design is bright, colourful and modern.

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The tote bag is a good size – it fits under your arm easily and there is lots of room inside for your book, your purse and anything else you may need.

The bag is made well, and feels sturdy. The ‘BB’ emblem on my bag looks a little at a slant but you can’t really notice this – I suspect that’s just my bag however. The pockets inside are a good detail, meaning that you have places to put your phone and keys. The phone pocket is nice and wide, making sure all sorts of phones can fit in – there’s nothing more annoying than having a bag where you can’t use the phone pocket! There is plenty of room in here for any other bits and pieces you may need to take out – for me it’s usually juice cups and wet wipes!

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The tote bag is great for when you want to take your book and a few other things out, it all fits nicely inside and it’s easy to wear on your shoulder.

For me, the bags price is a little out of my usual price range – it’s £39.95 – I would usually be looking at bags for less than this, so I would see this more as a gift item than something I would buy myself. If you know someone who has the Bagabook book cover, then getting the tote bag to match would be a great Christmas gift.

I was sent the bouquet tote bag from Bagabook in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Favourite Ten Songs

So I’m joining in with Michelle at Crowther Clan’s lovely little Linky about your favourite ten, and this week it’s your favourite songs. So here’s mine:

1. Dignity Deacon Blue

I am an 80s fan and I have always loved deacon blue. This song is just so uplifting, and I love shouting/singing it as I travel down the motorway. It’s a song full of hope and aspiration. Lovely.

2. Cloud busting, Kate Bush

I first encountered Kate bush as a 9 year old at my then neighbours house. She had a VHS of Kate’s music videos, and this one completely swept me away. I love the song, the build up, crescendo. I love the video and the interpretation of the song. It’s just a fab song and one of my very favourites.

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3. Avalon, Roxy Music

Love Roxy music, I told you I was an 80s freak. This song is just so very cool. Reminds me of sipping a cocktail as the sunsets on a sandy beach. I also love the woman at the end who does all the ‘ooooohs’

4.Underworld Born Slippy

Woah, that’s a tad different, I hear you say! Yes. Yes it is. I have such an eclectic taste in music. I love this song, reminds me of summer holidays when I was 13/14 and dreaming of being able to go clubbing.

5. Daft Punk, Da Funk

Again another song I saw the video of, and fell in love. This time it was on top of the pops. This is a bloody good song, and it just makes me want to dance. Like a robot.

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6. Bat For Lashes, Daniel

This song reminds me of moving to Bristol and when I first moved in with my partner. So this song reminds me of him, in a way. I love bast for lashes, Natasha is a fabulous singer and it’s truly relaxing to listen to. I was so pleased that I was able to see her live when I was pregnant, so her music has that connection for me too.

7. When I fall in love, nat king cole

This song has always been a favourite, nat king cole has a lovely voice and I love any song he sings (especially Christmas!). However this song has taken on greater poignancy in recent years. On the day that my nan died, we sat with her and played her songs. My grandad asked for this song to be played, and he sat there holding my nans’ hand. This song has always been one they both loved, and could have been ‘their’ song. It was a very emotional thing to see. That was really the last time my grandad saw my nan as he went home to get changed and whilst he was gone, she passed away. I am glad they got that moment together.

8. Diamonds Rihanna

I started singing this to Nancy from probably the first week she was born. It seemed to be on the radio every five minutes! However the sentiment to me, was that she really was my diamond, my precious thing. I couldn’t get over how lovely she was. And this song summed it up for me. Silly, eh?

9. Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler

The film Beaches means a lot to me, and I have probably seen it a hundred times. I can really relate to the characters. That may sound silly, but I do. It’s so heartbreakingly sad, and I cry every single time. This song reminds me of my sister, Lydia. That’s all I need to say.

10. The River, Bruce Springsteen

I could have picked any number of songs of Bruce’s, as I know them all, courtesy of my partner. He loves Bruce, and I got him a ticket to see him at Hard Rock Calling, the Christmas before I fell pregnant, meaning that when the concert came round, I was pregnant and had to endure standing in Hyde park in the mud and rain for hours, sipping water. It was a brilliant night, and this is one of his favourite songs, and has since become one of mine. I love the story telling within this song, and it’s a great one to sing along to in the car. Unfortunately he was in the loo when Bruce actually sang this live, or else that would’ve been a lovely moment to recall.

So, there you are, here are my ten. I probably could pick about ten, and another, just depending on my mood. That’s what I love about songs.