Mojo Q1 Results

I meant to write on April 1st, giving an update on how I was doing with ‘finding my Mojo’. But I got a bit sidetracked with other projects, a holiday & life.

Back in January, I found my word for the year using  Susannah Conway‘s method. The idea is this word will be with me for the year, focussing me & my efforts to achieve my goals for the year. My word for the year is Mojo. As I said in January:

Everything that’s a given or that I’m hoping for in 2015 is encapsulated perfectly by MOJO. Last year was about learning & finding my (our) feet. 2015 is about getting my (our) mojo back. And as Baby Girl becomes her own little person, she’ll be finding her’s too.

It has energy, it inspires happiness, it encompasses togetherness – the Other Half & I have found our groove as parents, now it’s time to get back to being a couple.

Well, so far, I think I’m doing pretty well.

The OH & I have had at least one date night per month (as documented in the Me & You series on the blog) & making time to be a couple, beyond just being parents.

I’m still job hunting, which is a bit disheartening. Though I’ve scored some freelance work recently, which is a step in the right direction & I’ve reached final round of a few interview processes now, receiving positive feedback but so far I haven’t been able to seal the deal.

But possibly the biggest step towards finding my mojo again is that I’ve agreed to go on a girls’ holiday this summer. In fact, I just transferred the money & booked. So I’m definitely, 100% going.

And I’m really, really nervous.

I’ll be leaving Baby Girl for a whole week at the end of June. The grandparents and the OH will each take a day looking after Baby Girl while away. I think she’ll have a wail of a time to be honest & it’ll be me in bits.

I wasn’t going to go initially as I was so worried I’d miss Baby Girl too much & be too upset. The last thing I want to do is ruin everyone else’s holiday because I’m an emotional wreck. But after talking it through with the OH & my best friend (who ironically, won’t be on the holiday so she was very impartial), I decided this is something I should do. Not least because I haven’t been on a girls’ holiday since I was 18 & I think I’d end up regretting not joining in the fun.

And in the OH’s word; “your life doesn’t have to revolve entirely around Baby Girl, Amie. You need some stuff for just you.”

But my one condition when we were looking for somewhere to stay was it had to have wifi so I could FaceTime & keep in touch easily.

So, come the end of June, I will be sunning myself in Greece with the girls, sipping cocktails by the infinity pool, probably FaceTiming home once an hour to check in. As it’s a summer holiday, I’ll conveniently be wearing sunglasses anyway, so no one has to see my red, puffy eyes…

55stars_gal10_12

Doesn’t it just look idyllic!

Now I just need to find a swimsuit that is even remotely flattering when surrounded by a group of twenty-something ladies who haven’t had babies… Hmmm…

Me & You: April 20

We recently discovered comedian Aziz Ansari (thank you Netflix!). A quick aside – watch his stand up, cry with laughter, thank me later. In his show, Buried Alive, he talks a lot about family life & relationships. I’ve searched high & low for a video clip to show you, but sadly the particular bit I want to share isn’t available so I have to share it in written form, which doesn’t do it justice. So if you have Netflix, fast forward to 18:02 minutes or you can download the bit from iTunes (track 6) for £0.79 if you are so inclined. In his own words;

You want to have a depressing conversation? Talk to a couple that just had a kid. Ask them about the last night they went out for themselves. They will describe the most boring, typical, mundane, evening out with the same enthusiasm a normal person will describe… a three way sexual experience. [For example…] “So we go back to my house, I’ve got these two, really hot girls.” “So we go to the mall. I’ve got two tickets to Rango.” I know what you’re thinking, Aziz, shouldn’t you update that to a more recent film? No. These people go to movies that are old as shit. They’ve been trying to see Rango for a couple of years now…

While I wouldn’t say our situation is quite that bad (yet), last night’s date night wasn’t quite what date night once was… This month, we wanted to do something fun together. Not that dinner isn’t fun, but I felt we should do something more with the precious time we had. But the Other Half has had a chest infection since last week & though now has antibiotics & is on the mend, he wasn’t exactly in the mood for date night (understandably). But he insisted we took the opportunity to go out just the two of us. My mom couldn’t get here until between 7 & 8pm so we said we’d eat at home to save money then go out for the evening. I called All Star Lanes to book a slot – in six years, we’ve never been bowling together, can you believe. Turns out they reserve all their lanes for customers eating Tuesday-Saturday. Bugger. Put that one in the back pocket for another time then. However, it’s now 3pm, on the day of date night, we have a sitter booked but nothing to do – the ultimate parenting faux pas. Determined not to waste a baby sitter, we checked the movies; timings didn’t really work out as they were all 9pm starts, which meant finishing after 11pm, which wasn’t great for the OH with work the next day. (I know what you’re thinking, we are just so rock’n’roll.) We considered a walk in the park – but I spend most days in the park so wasn’t overly keen. A walk down the River Thames – it’s not that warm yet in the evenings once the sun goes down. The OH went to book go-karting – awesome! – but their last session was at 6:30pm. Oh. Next time… “I know!” said the the OH, “we’ll go to the Mile End Climbing Wall. That’s different & interesting!” So he started on dinner while I finished bed time with Baby Girl, ready to head off once my mom arrived. But in reality, when we were sat on the bus, the OH said, “actually, I’m quite tired… we could just go to the pub for a drink?” At which point, we realised, he couldn’t drink because he’s on antibiotics. And we just started laughing, saying, “we should have just got tickets to Rango!” And so we got off the bus not at the climbing wall, or the movies, or the park, or the pub… Instead, we went to a little ice cream ‘parlour’ in Stepney Green. Cookies & Cream is a strange little place. Black tables, black boothes, black walls, club-style music blasting from the plasma TV at the back… it’s kind of like a club, but you eat ice cream instead of drinking alcohol. And there’s no dance floor (that we found). So I had the brownies with ice cream, the OH had a Twix shake, coming to a grand total of £10. So at least we managed to save money as we intended! In January, we said the point of these date nights was to spend some time just the two of us, without Baby Girl. So in some ways, it was actually a resounding success… After chatting away the evening, we were home by 10pm, yawning & ready for bed. We are officially middle aged before our time. But it’s ok, we have next month’s date night booked well in advance, tickets purchased in March and a sitter booked already. So we’ll redeem ourselves then…

A walk in the park

She looks so small!

Today, for the first time ever, I took Baby Girl out without the buggy or the carrier.

I.e., she just walked beside me. I felt this was rather momentous.

We only went to the park near our apartment. But this isn’t just any park – it’s more of a woodland. We walked around it during my labour; it was where we went for Baby Girl’s first outing the week we brought her home; we hosted her Naming Day picnic there & she’s gone for a walk in the carrier come rain or shine probably every week since she was born in this park.

And today, she got to walk around it for herself.

I carried her there (road safety & all that) & popped her on her feet when we were inside the gate. Her little face lit up when she clocked where we were; like she too realised this wasn’t just any trip to the local park.

I let her decide which paths we took & which plants we looked at. (Though we spent most of the time staring up into the trees looking for birds, Baby Girl’s current fascination.)

IMG_0366

“This way Mama…” Girl after my own heart, she leads the way, no excuses or apologies.

IMG_0368

PIDGEONS!!!

I did carry her on & off; between the adventuring & excitement, she got tired quite quickly and would suddenly turn and pull at my jumper, asking for a rest. So for the time being I won’t be venturing far without the buggy or carrier – arms wouldn’t last!

Most of the time, she’s just Baby Girl to me. But then I have afternoons like this, that I suddenly see her differently – she’s changing every day & becoming her own little person so quickly. Makes you realise, blink & you’ll miss it!

Running in Lavender

Parenting Hack #4: microwave eggs

IMG_0363

I didn’t realise this one was a Parenting Hack until the OH saw me making Baby Girl’s breakfast and was in awe. So I figure maybe some other people don’t know about microwave eggs either…

Scrambled eggs is an easy win with pretty much any baby. But let’s not beat around the bush; everyone hates washing a saucepan that’s been used to make scrambled eggs. It sticks like glue to the sides of the pan and hot water just seems to make it worse.

Cue a plastic dish in the microwave…

  1. Crack an egg into your baby’s plastic bowl; give it a quick whisk with a fork.
  2. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Whisk again.
  4. Pop it in the microwave for another 30 seconds.
  5. The mixture should be firming up now, sort of resembling an runny omelette; give it a stir with your fork and separate it a bit.
  6. Pop it in the microwave for a final 30 seconds to make sure it’s cooked all the way through
  7. Give it a final stir and break it up with the fork before serving to your bambino.

Best served with toast. Yum, yum.

Optional extras:

  • I crack the egg over two cherry tomatoes, chopped, & one baby courgette & Baby Girl gobbles it all up. But you could try any veggies your little one likes, see if they work. Not only is she getting veggies (though beware, the microwave does zap some of goodness) but it makes it a larger portion, keeping her fuller for longer.
  • Grate some cheese into the mixture before you ‘cook’ it – always a winner.

And that’s pretty much it. A great little store cupboard recipe that you can throw together in the blink of an eye. You’re welcome!

 

A change is as good as a rest

Since Baby Girl’s first birthday, if I’m honest, I’ve started to feel/realise/accept that singing nursery rhymes, changing diapers and watching the clock to check how long until snack time/lunch time/dinner time/[insert other daily routine element here] isn’t really enough.

Everyone said I would reach that point. But even in January as I started job hunting – because I had to, not because I wanted to – I wanted to be at home with Baby Girl rather than returning to work.

I’ve mentioned before I got made redundant when I went on maternity leave. So unlike many women, I haven’t had an ‘end date’. We all know the ups & downs of job hunting; I keep saying I’m on ‘extended mat leave’, but the reality is I’m unemployed & ‘a stay at home mum’ (SAHM for future reference).

The fact I kept avoiding calling myself that should have been my first clue that being a SAHM wasn’t my ‘end game’…

Last week, however, I had a bit of a change of pace. (Hence why the blog has been so quiet.)

I had a rather busy week with an interview on Tuesday and some freelance work on Thursday. Luckily, it was my mom’s last week before she starts back at work four days a week so she was all to eager to help with childcare. So Baby Girl & I decamped to Hetfordshire for four days so I could prepare in peace beyond a 40 minute nap time & without being surrounded by colourful all-singing-all-dancing plastic.

As I pulled ‘Professional Amie’ out from the back of the wardrobe mom & Baby Girl sauntered off to the swings to enjoy the sunshine. I’d be lying if at this point I didn’t just want to sack it all off & sit in the sun! But I didn’t.

On the Wednesday, I dutifully stayed indoors preparing for an ‘Understanding Social Media’ workshop I’d been asked to run by old contact for her new firm. They’ve decided the company needs more of a social media strategy, but like so many, couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

And finally, this weekend we were then at my in-laws’ as the Other Half & I have been saying we’ll refurbish The Little Auntie & Uncle’s old cot for pretty much a year now. At long last, with Spring arriving, we made a start & got it sanded down & the base coat done while GranPam looked after Baby Girl for us. (And Baby Girl was in her element following The Little Auntie & Uncle round all weekend, playing with their toys & the three dogs.) 

This evening (Sunday), for the first time in about a month, I feel more revved up & ready to go with Baby Girl. I’ve had pretty much five days with someone else being in the hot seat for Baby Girl. Although I’ve been busy & I’m shattered, especially after four night’s unbroken sleep (Baby Girl doesn’t sleep as well away from home) it is indeed true what they say; a change is as good as a rest.

Check out what’s been keeping me sane this past year without me even realising it:

  • Bump, Baby & Me
  • The ParentCast; launched in March 2013 with two other first time mum.
  • Bubele; managing their social media accounts, now editing the monthly partner newsletter & launching their blog in May 2015.

Eskimo Kisses

When I was little, my mum used to brush her nose with mine & say that was how Eskimos kissed. She said it was so cold their lips would stick together if they kissed properly.

(This was the 90s, people were only just becoming aware of racial stereotypes & what was considered PC…)

So since Baby Girl was born, without thinking, I would brush my nose with her’s & say, “Eskimo kisses!”.

Today, as I have done a thousand times before without thinking, I said, “Eskimo kisses!” and went to brush my nose with Baby Girl’s & before I even started to shake my head, she had lent in & started shaking her head, giggling.

As a result, we’ve now exchanged many Eskimo kisses today, all with lots of giggling. I was so excited the first time she did it I did a little wiggle in the middle of the pub garden.

And this is what I’ll always remember about my second Easter as a Mama.

The day Baby Girl gave her first Eskimo Kiss.

Happy Easter

Weaning Roundup: Stage 3

With Baby Girl’s first birthday came the end of Stage 3 – and arguably, the end of weaning. *gasp*

She’s now a toddler & can eat most things. But before I get ahead of myself, here’s what we thought of stage 3…

By nine months, weaning fun is well & truly underway. Stage 3 sees your baby starting to eat proper food (minus the salt & sugar content – read more about this in my Stage 2 Roundup), experiment with even more interesting flavours and start to learn to feed his or herself.

By now, your baby should be comfortable with finger foods & able to join in with more family meals. And if your baby is refusing certain foods, don’t loose hope; research shows the more times you expose a child to a food the more likely he or she is to eat it.

Baby Girl likes to keep all her bases covered

It’s worth noting that milk is still a main staple of your baby’s diet at this stage. Baby Girl, however, started refusing bottles during the day around ten months in favour of a snack. I decided to trust Baby Girl & gave up trying with the bottles as she liked her food and I made sure she got a balanced diet that included a range of vitamins and veggies. She seems happy & healthy, so I’ve not made too much fuss but this may not be right for everyone. We still have her 7pm feed of 7oz – I think it’ll be a while before she gives that up!

We also made the conscious decision not to give Baby Girl juice due to the sugar content and she only has water with her meals. But some articles you read suggest giving babies milk in a sippy cup with their meals during this stage.

Finally, keep in mind that from around this age (& thanks to Leap 8) you are now, officially, a role model. So watch your table manners. How you act at the table will start to inform your baby’s behaviour…

Baby Girl’s favourites:

  • IMG_0353-0Porridge!! (at long last)
  • Fruit in general but especially strawberries, bananas, raisins & grapes (no longer need to be cut up, just give them to her whole)
  • Pears (but only when given whole to eat herself; if you chop it up, she’ll refuse it)
  • Daddy’s homemade Spag Bol
  • Oragnix Goodies oat bars
  • Baked cod given as flakes she can eat herself
  • Put anything with spaghetti and I was pretty much onto a winner!
  • Sweetcorn Fritters*
  • Scrambled eggs with chopped courgette and chopped cherry toms in it
  • Lactofree cheese sandwiches (in fact, anything with cheese)

*beware: sweetcorn has very little nutritional value and also makes a very ‘whole’ appearance in diapers later that day… delightful…

Indifferent:

  • Any pouch or jar whatsoever – she’ll eat them, but only if there’s nothing else on offer

Complete refusal: 

  • Fish pie
  • Tuna pasta
  • Museli
  • Peppers

Sometimes, you just have to let it happen…

Note: Stage 3 coincides with Wonder Weeks Leap 7, when babies learn to manage a flow of events, such as using a spoon to feed themselves and Leap 8, when spontaneous temper tantrums begin to make an appearance. It can make meal times a struggle, especially as your baby gets frustrated they can’t feed themselves and food ends up everywhere. But hopefully you’re getting used to it by now. Enjoy!

    

 

Baby Girl officially becomes a Toddler. En Italia

Last September we went to my parents’ house in Italy for a week. Although in many way it was a relaxing holiday in the quiet Umbrian hills with nothing to do, as every parent knows, no holiday with a baby is entirely stress free. Baby Girl had just started weaning and had just moved onto full time formula – six bottles a day, lactose free and still sterilising bottles. Not to mention the nine hour delay in Rome airport on the way back… That was definitely a low point.

And last week, we headed back to the Umbrian hills for a bit of R&R as the Other Half had a few days holiday to use up before the end of March.

Admiring the Tuscan hills from Montepulciano

We couldn’t believe the difference in travelling with a one year old compared to last summer.

It’s so much easier.*

On the flight we couldn’t believe our luck. There’s a long standing joke that the OH that can’t believe how well I sleep on flights. Our first holiday together – all those years ago – was to Mauritius, with an eleven hour flight. I was asleep before take off. Well, thankfully it looks like Baby Girl has inherited more than just my eyes as she slept pretty much the entire flight there and back.

She’s not accepted a dummy since her teeth came in and after our first experience of flying we don’t give her bottles on take off & landing. So this time we gave her a banana to munch to keep her jaw moving and help her ears pop… she sat smiling & munching on her Daddy’s knee the whole of take off & then fell asleep, only waking up thanks to the ‘Doo Doo Dooo! Another successful Ryanair flight!’ announcement after we landed. And on the way home, she slept from take off until just before landing when she munched her way through three crackers and stared out of the window transfixed. We are still in shock by how well this went.**

Montepulciano, Tuscany

Exploring Perugia

Baby Girl is also fully weaned now and only has one bottle at bedtime. This meant carrying considerably less bumf with us as we only took two bottles and one can of lactose free formula – which we needn’t have bothered as we found it in the Italian supermarket! There’s also no need to sterilise anymore – hallelujah!

And despite her salt free and lactose free diet, feeding her was a lot easier this time round too. We bought a couple of Italian veggie baby jars to mix with cous cous or spaghetti; we made her baby bruschetta with fresh ingredients (looked delicious!); she could have toast, Pecorino cheese (sheep’s cheese is lactose free)… all in all, having a baby who eats actual food rather than spits out a few spoonfuls of gloop then wants a bottle is far easier to deal with on holiday!***

Chasing pigeons in Perugia

She was even easier in the evenings, allowing us to go out for dinner & not have her scream the place down or require us to take turns outside with her. One night she just sat & babbled away with us at the table then fell fast asleep when we got home about ten o’clock, shattered from the excitement and late night.**** Another night she fell asleep in the buggy after a quick whizz around the block and slept through the whole meal. Bliss!

And while we were away, Baby Girl finally decided to let go of the furniture. So now, we officially have a toddler. Though when out & about, she didn’t like letting go of our hands so much, which we figure is ok as less likely to disappear into a road. We’ll see how long that lasts. But Baby Girl is enjoyed her new found freedom and insisted we explored everywhere…

Exploring the basilica grounds in Montepulciano, Tuscany

Exploring the garden

A house with stone floors & stairs without banisters is not a baby’s best friend. Cue Baby Girl’s first experience of baby gates. She was not a fan.

*NB: I hold the right to retract this statement at any time in the future when full toddlerhood has grabbed hold of my baby and turned her into a wailing banshee.

***We are well aware that for every minute that she was an absolute angel on these two flights there will be an hour of another flight in the future when she will be the devil incarnate and that this is probably a fluke.

***We have been warned that this golden phase is short lived & soon we’ll be buying club sandwiches or bowls of Spag Bol for Baby Girl to take one mouthful & decide she doesn’t want any. Our bank account doesn’t look forward to that phase…

****Baby Girl was a tad grumpy the following day, showing flashes of the banshee toddler to come; but for now, we’re just going to sit back & enjoy this middle time of peace. Don’t hate us. Please.

Me & You: March 20

Love is: two chicken sauces together… right?

Friday was the 20th, which means, date night.

We had grand plans to head to #HawkerHouse; an indoor food market we like but haven’t managed to get to since Baby Girl was born. We went when I was pregnant & saw a few with buggies, the littluns donning their ear defenders & we thought, “brilliant! We’ll bring Bump when he’s born!” But the reality is we just never seem to get round to it…

Alas, plans are made to be broken. I had flu last week so we nearly didn’t make it out at all. But thankfully I’m on the up now – just in time for our mini break! – so forced us out the door for the all important ‘us’ time.

We’d also already booked my mom to babysit & unfortunately we’ve learnt the hard way to take these opportunities then & there. Because Baby Girl doesn’t really follow plans so you never know when the next opportunity may come about.

But back to the date. Incase my paracetamol wore off & I started flagging, we decided to leave #HawkerHouse for another time (i.e. probably never again… sad face) & opted for Chicken Shop just down the road. Definitely not a second best option: rotisserie chicken, crinkle fries, corn on the cob, no fuss, no muss. What’s not to love?!

And it has to be said, it’s one of the perks to being together six years; I can genuinely enjoy my food rather than worrying about what the OH thinks. Because let’s be honest, no one is attractive eating melty-buttered corn on the cob!