Mama needs a bloggy break

It’s been another busy week – though even more so than usual, if that’s possible.

I’ve been to Sarah Beeson, MBE‘s book event, BritMums Live & the House of Mamas launch.

Baby Girl also had another sick bug – that’s been fun.

I’d been looking forward to BritMums Live for so long. Two whole days of talks, sessions, networking, chatting to like minded people, sharing a passion for parenting & blogging – & there was promised to be tea & cake. What was not to look forward to!?

But in reality, the whole thing was quite intense & overwhelming.

And on the Saturday morning, they ran out of tea!!! Thankfully the venue were quick to rectify this insanely rookie error (it’s a mummy conference for Pete’s sake!) & peace & harmony was restored.

But I’m sad to say that overall, I left feeling uninspired and exhausted, asking myself, “why do I blog?!”

I met some lovely people and it was great to catch up with some old faces I’ve met at previous events but I also met some people who weren’t so friendly, which was disappointing.

Where as back in November, after BlogFest ’14, I came home absolutely buzzing, raring to go with hundreds of ideas for how to take my blog forward, this weekend I came home feeling as though I might just throw in the towel altogether.

In hindsight, I think I’m tired. Between looking after Baby Girl, job hunting, interviewing & blogging, I haven’t had a moment to myself for some time now. Any spare time I have is spent trawling job listings or trying to pull a blog post together – I’ve been lucky to get one live a week this past month.

I feel I need a break. Those who don’t blog won’t realise the amount of work that goes into it. A single post can take multiple hours to put together; writing, editing, re-editing, designing, photography & photo editing… Then there’s the promotion; Facebook, Twitter, multiple blogging networks to add your latest post to… whether a post goes live or not, I spend at least one to two hours per day keeping up with other blogs I follow online & finding new ones, networking via Twitter, etc.

A fellow blogger recently called it a hamster wheel & I can think of no better analogy.

Amidst all this, I feel guilty if Baby Girl catches me on my phone or those days when I’m watching the clock til nap time when I can get stuff done.

I’ve said before on the blog I feel I would appreciate the time with her more if I had some time away. In truth, I think I would appreciate the time with her more if I wasn’t constantly thinking of everything else I had to get done in a single day.

So, it’s decided. I’m taking a break.

I’m on holiday with the girls (no Baby Girl or Oh! ah!) next week, which originally I had expected to take my laptop and do one or two hours of writing a day – probably in the morning before the rest of the gang are up because my body clock doesn’t allow for lie-ins any more! But instead, I think I’ll take a book & actually take some proper time out for myself.

Of course, I’m completely addicted to social media, so you’ll still find me on Instagram – my happy place – & no doubt Twitter (either as myself @amiecaitlin or as my blog profile @bumpbabyme). But Facebook & my other platforms will go quiet over the next few weeks while I take some time to recharge & reassess what I really want from blogging.

Thank you so, so much to everyone who has read & supported the blog over the last 18 months. You’ll probably never know how much it’s meant to me that someone more than my mom & the OH reads my blood, sweat & tears (though I do also appreciate their never ending support as well).

While I take a little break, why not check out some other awesome parent bloggers and some uber cool fashion bloggers:

Mama Duck Quacks@mamaduckquacks
Colour Me Woman
Giggles Family Vlog@thegigglesblog
Budding Smiles@buddingsmiles
Mothering Mushroom – @MushroomsMum
Run, Jump Scrap@runjumpscrap
Single Mum Ahoy!@singlemahoy
Running in Lavender@lavenderheledd
Side Street Style
@laurasidestreet
Wacey Style@waceystyle
Style Me Sunday@stylemesunday

And an Instagram shout out to New Young Mum who’s photos of the beach always make me happy (& uber jealous!)

I’m so sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone!

New shoes!

What do you mean Daddy’s boots are too big? But my feet have grown!

Just two months on and Baby Girl has already outgrown her first pair of shoes. Crazy.

She got a blister on the arch of her foot about three weeks ago, so we popped back to Clarks to get her remeasured. They said she was on the cusp and recommended I waited another week or two until she was definitely the next size up.

Then Monday, she woke up and I couldn’t get her shoe on her foot. So that was that.

To be fair, the signs were there and Baby Girl was trying her hardest to communicate that the pink, frilly, polkadot pumps just wouldn’t do anymore. (Thank God.)

We’ve gone for something more summery this time; no more sweaty toes for Baby Girl! And at only £18, these felt positively frugal compared to the £32 I shelled out last time.

Though we do seem destined to only be able to purchase the girliest of shoes in the shop. At least neon colours are in fashion this season?

Showing off her new swag to Mog. I think he approves.

Running in Lavender

Baby Girl’s first love

I think this is one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken.

Last weekend we went to the lovely Cemetery Park near where we live for a picnic. Afterwards, we went for a wander and Baby Girl was playing with Mog (her bunny) in the dirt – as you do. I was snapping away when suddenly she turned, ran to her Daddy and gave him a massive hug. It was such a spontaneous moment and such a tender one. I’m forever grateful I had the camera in my hand, ready to go.

NB: the photo is blurred for the purpose of the blog as we don’t like to show Baby Girl’s face, not because I can’t focus a camera!

Running in Lavender

First weekend away from Baby Girl

I wrote on Friday explaining I was en route to a Hen weekend; my first weekend away from Baby Girl since she was born.

Back in January, when I spent my first night away from Baby Girl, I cried three times… But not this weekend! After a tough month or so with Leap 9, the MMR, job hunting, teething & more, I was so raring to go on Friday morning.

A whole weekend not thinking about what time it is – snack time, nap time, lunch time, did I get something out of the freezer in time for dinner? – or worrying that Baby Girl is getting enough stimulation & education; not having someone hang off my leg when I made a cup of tea; not being woken up in the morning by the sound of ‘Dadadadadadadada!!!!!’ or slapped in the face every 30 minutes… No one pulled my hair this weekend; no one threw their food on the floor; someone was sick, but there was absolutely no expectation of me to clean it up & I just walked away.

What liberation!

Although the weekend was entirely about my dear friend & bride-to-be Rosie, it was also, in it’s own way, entirely about me. And I relished in Every. Single. Moment.

A friend of mine with a nearly-six month-old recently said the very baffling words, “I miss hangovers”. At the time, not going to lie, I thought the sleep deprivation had finally got to her & she’d lost her marbles. But this weekend, I actually understood what she meant.

On Saturday, I woke at 7:30am, the light streaming through the curtains (who doesn’t have black out curtains these days!?). I simply pulled the sheet over my head & dosed back off to sleep in a grumpy, delirious haze. Because I could.

At 9:30, I woke again, gently, quietly, tentatively. I lay in bed for about ten minutes; the house was strangely quiet and still, even with eleven other girls staying in it. Even with a hangover, how peaceful the world seemed first thing in the morning for the first time in fifteen months. I plodded downstairs for water, tea & toast, which I made in the quiet of the empty kitchen, at my own pace, in my own time. I then actually enjoyed my tea & toast. No one else trying to grab it off my plate or spill my hot tea down themselves.

What bliss.

On Sunday, I woke to a message from the OH; 9:57am, “Off to the farm [photo of the two of them ready to go]”. Between 10 and 11:15am, came an onslaught of photos of Baby Girl at the farm. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. I’ll let you fill in the blanks of my reply:

  
Do I miss hangovers? Good God no. But man have I missed the ability to shut out the world, to wallow in my own self-pity & to be utterly selfish for a day. When was the last time any mother (or father for that matter) can say they had a day like that? I certainly don’t remember the last one I had.

When I got home on Sunday, the OH said it was probably one of the best weekends he’s ever had. He thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with Baby Girl. YES! Don’t worry, I’ll happily go away more often so you can have more Daddy-daughter time.

And, indeed, as predicted, he not only manage this weekend, but his exact words were, “I was surprised by how easy it was!” [Insert murderous thought…]

I’d be lying if I said this didn’t grate slightly… I’d like to see him do it for fifteen months, day in, day out, then let’s see how easy he finds it.

The truth is, in the car on the way back on Sunday, I was dreading coming home. I feel terrible for saying this, but I hadn’t missed it. And the idea of coming back to the same monotonous routine – now jaded from a Hen weekend suffering from what would turn out to be a three day hangover (such a shadow of my 21 year old self!) – the same brightly coloured singing plastic, the same battles with Baby Girl day in, day out… it just wasn’t very appealing.

And this is where I find myself now, coming down off the massive high that was the weekend, back to reality.

Seeing the energy the OH had with Baby Girl, his enthusiasm, his joy at spending so much time with her has made me feel as though I’m not doing a great job at the moment. I feel exhausted all the time (even before the weekend away); even when Baby Girl sleeps, fifteen months of sleep deprivation, worry & confusion have taken their toll.

I thought the weekend away would rejuvenate me, bring me home with a new lease of life & a new passion for Row Row Row Your Boat.

I was wrong.

It’s just made me realise how much I hate Row Row Row Your Boat. On the Saturday we ‘Paddled to the Pub,’ canoeing down Beaulieu River and the girls all started singing Row Row Row Your Boat; I nearly threw myself overboard.

  Umm, so… this wasn’t where I saw this blog post going when I started writing. It was originally a really happy post, filled with glitter & joy from the weekend! (It was a sparkle themed weekend; we all looked like a fairy played fast & loose with her pixie dust!) They say blogging is therapy – now I know why.

First weekend away from Baby Girl: it begins

So, I am sat in the car on the way to *location omitted as currently a secret from the Hen* for a very old friend’s Hen Do – my first ever Hen Do. 

I am majorly excited. 

My mom spent the night last night to look after Baby Girl today as I was leaving at 10:45am, then the OH is flying solo from this evening until my return on Sunday evening. 

It’s a big weekend for us all. 

Baby Girl was in a funny mood this morning, she knew something was up & kept trying to take things out of my suitcase – slightly unhelpful! She also wouldn’t say good bye to me or let me hold her. Which was quite hard as it felt like I didn’t really get to say good bye.  But I’m feeling ok at the moment, only very, very mild separation anxiety. 

The OH has been left a crib sheet to refer to if in need, with the all important, “CBeebies is channel 121″ at the bottom. 

The crib sheet is more for my piece of mind though. The OH isn’t your average guy. I’ll return on Sunday to find the apartment spotless, laundry done, Baby Girl with extra meals in the freezer. He sometimes gets a bit frazzled about timings for Baby Girl during the day but I’m confident they’ll have a brilliant time. 

As will I! I’m ready for a few days away to be someone other than Mama. After the tough month with the MMR & Leap 9, I’m raring to go!

See you on the other side…

The Adventures of Mog

On holiday in Italy, in March, my dad & H took Baby Girl to visit some family friends to meet their menagerie of pets. As they walked into the kitchen, Baby Girl locked eyes on a  little toy bunny (one of their grandchildren’s), hanging solemnly by his ears from the washing line.

“Da!” She cried, pointing at the bunny furiously. They all laughed & handed her the bunny. For the remainder of the visit, Baby Girl never let go of that bunny. Even when she met the two dogs, the four cats, the rabbits…

By the end of her visit, it was clear, Baby Girl had no intention of leaving the bunny behind. When they returned home, Baby Girl was clutching the bunny & has barely let go of him ever since.

One of the family’s cats was called Mog. In homage to his original home, Nana H named the bunny mog. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Baby Girl’s best friend.

Baby Girl & Mog share everything – even when Mog doesn’t want to…

 

Mog comes with us everywhere.

 

Very occasionally, Mog gets left behind…


Mog is always there for support & confidence.


Always ready & waiting to play


Partners in crime, stealing older girls’ skateboards…


Ready for a weekend away, God forbid Mog should be left behind!


Even when Baby Girl needs both her hands, Mog is never far away

 

And of course, Mog is there to help chase the pigeons.

Running in Lavender

BritMums Live 2015 Sponsor: Baby Monitor 3G app & give away

UnknownI was looking for a sponsor I felt relevant (i.e., probably a baby brand) and that I believed in, liked and supported already. Although they’re kindly paying for my ticket to BritMums Live 2015, I didn’t just want to give space on my blog and my time over to just any old brand.

Enter Baby Monitor 3G.

I approached Baby Monitor 3G as the OH & I have been so impressed with their app. BritMumsWe’ve been using the iOS version for about six months and it’s never let us down yet (there was one time we forgot to switch the app on… but that’s our fault, not their’s!).

You can read my original 5* review here, written long before I approached them about sponsorship.

Luckily, they were very excited at the chance to get involved and we started planning. We’ve held off announcing the partnership as they had some exciting to new features coming to the app, just in time for BritMums Live 2015.

So, with one month to go until the big event…

Let me introduce you.
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Baby Monitor 3G is a fantastic iOS and Android app that allows you to turn two Apple or Android devices (or one of each) into an audio & video baby monitor using a wifi or your mobile data (3G/4G) network.

The initial set up with your two devices takes just 30 seconds.

“But won’t that use up all my data?” I hear you cry. The guys at Baby Monitor 3G are one step ahead; if you’re using your 3G or 4G network rather than wifi, the app will send you still images using the camera on the baby station device, rather than a livestream video, to conserve your data.

Still not convinced? Baby Monitor 3G guarantee you’ll only use 1MB of data for every hour you use their app using your mobile data package (i.e., on a mobile operator network, not your wifi).

Key features:
  1. realtime audio and video monitoring with adjustable volume
  2. pair two Apple devices, two Android devices or one of each
  3. soothe your baby from afar using the microphone in your device to talk to your baby
  4. use your device’s flash to act as a nightlight, which you can activate via the parent station device
  5. never miss a whimper with vibration alerts; leave your phone locked in your pocked & the app keeps running in the background.
  6. relax, the app monitors your battery life and connection on both devices being used and alerts you if one is running low or your connection isn’t strong enough.

Baby Monitor 3G is compatible with:

  • iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch (£2.99)
  • Mac OS X (£4.99)
  • Android tablets and smartphones (£2.89)
  • Windows 7 coming soon
  • Chrome OS coming soon

You can read my original 5* review here, now updated with the new feature information.

IMG_0206The give away

I’ve got 10 free Apple downloads of the iOS or Mac app to give away to ten lucky readers.

To Enter: simply comment on this blog post answering the following question;

Now you won’t need space in your luggage for a baby monitor, what will you take instead?

Remember, once you have downloaded the app on one Apple device, you can download it on your other Apple devices for free.

Don’t forget to Tweet @bumpbabyme with the #bumpbabyBM3G.

Find out more about Baby Monitor 3G on their website.
Find Baby Monitor 3G on Twitter & Facebook.

Good luck!

The competition will be open from Monday, May 25, 2015 to Monday, June 1, 2015. Winners will be contacted on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. One code per person. Codes only work in the Apple App Store.

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THE PRIZE(S) IN THIS GIVE AWAY WERE PROVIDED TO ME FREE OF CHARGE FROM BABY MONITOR 3G IN ORDER TO OFFER A GIVE AWAY COMPETITION ON THIS BLOG. THIS WAS PART OF MY BRITMUMS LIVE 2015 SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH THE BRAND. HOWEVER, THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN, THOUGH SOME OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ABOUT THE APP ITSELF WAS PROVIDED BY THE BRAND IN PREPARATION FOR THIS ARTICLE. 170x30bwi

 

Me & You: May 20

IMG_0448Last night was date night once again & this month, we had planned ahead to avoid committing the ultimate parenting faux pas once again of having a baby sitter & nothing to do!

The back story…

Christmas 2013. I was heavily pregnant & everyone was struggling with ideas of what to get me. I didn’t really need anything, clothes (usually a Christmas fail-safe ) were definite a no-go zone & the only things I could come up with were baby related, which no one was willing to buy me. “It needs to be something for you,” they all said.

So, I suggested theatre tickets to use before Bump was due in the February, knowing we probably wouldn’t get much of a chance after he (yes, I was convinced Baby Girl was a ‘he’) arrived. The OH was particularly keen on The Book of Mormon, especially as the tickets were well out of our price range.

So my parents kindly bought us two tickets to see this notorious musical. Alas, we never got to go. Unfortunately, they booked the actual tickets rather than a redeemable voucher without asking when we were free. The OH had his last hurrah before fatherhood in January, a week long boys’ ski trip… Guess when they booked the tickets for…

So we gave the tickets to the OH’s parents instead, who said they would buy us another pair when we found another date we could go…

17 months later…

We finally got to see The Book of Mormon!!

I was right; we didn’t get a chance to go to the theatre after Baby Girl was born. It was indeed, rather low down on the to do list, even for me, a total theatre nut.

But two months ago, we planned ahead & booked two tickets to see The Book of Mormon. We had amazing seats – centre of the front row of the dress circle (it pays to plan ahead!).

Now, we’ve all read the reviews. “It’s amazing!”, “sidesplittingly hilarious!”, “not-to-be-missed!”. So I was expecting great things from The Book of Mormon, even though I’m not the biggest South Park fan (the OH is) & had originally suggested these tickets so that we would both enjoy the theatre rather than just me.

Well. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much in the theatre, so continuously throughout a performance. (And I’ve seen a lot of shows!) It was absolutely brilliant.

I cannot recommend this show enough; if you have a date night opportunity, go see this show. The tickets are expensive, but worth every penny.

The only downside to a theatre date night (on a weeknight especially) is that it’s all a bit rushed.

The OH scooted out of work at 5pm so we could meet for dinner beforehand, but I ended up held up on the phone to a recruiter regarding my job hunt at the moment.

So eventually, we met at  Bone Daddies Shackfuyu in Leicester Square about 6:30, giving us just 45 minutes to wolf down some (awesome) modern Japanese food and practically run to Piccadilly where the theatre was. (Me not being so used to heels these days, this was fun. And I ended up with a stitch.)

If you’re a Londoner, you need to check out Bone Daddies Shackfuyu. It’s a great little place that “playfully highlights foods current in Japan today”. I’d recommend the Korean fried chicken wings (OMG.), picanha beef (my favourite of the night) and prawn toast with BBQ sauce (so, so good).

And the Bone Daddies Punch – you might want a few of these.

Bonus Date Night!

This month, we’ve actually been lucky enough to wangle two date nights! I mentioned the other week my mom took Baby Girl for 24 hours as between the MMR reaction and Leap 9 we needed a break.

To be honest, we both just wanted to sleep. But determined not to waste some child-free time, we dragged ourselves to Street Feast at Dalston Yard – “the food market that knows how to party”. If you hadn’t realised yet (given most of our date nights revolve around food in some way or another) we’re big foodies, the OH in particular.

Baby Girl actually joined us at Street Feast last year at just three months old. But now she’s toddling, we fear this might just end with her having various types delicious dishes thrown on her head as she trips everyone up running between their legs!

We had great visions of Street Feast sans Baby Girl; beer, good food, music… The reality didn’t disappoint: the food was delicious (Kimchinary, Korean burritos, yes, really, were mouth-wateringly good), the beers were cold & we even bumped into some friends we didn’t know were going. But at 8:30 we turned to each other & said, “I’m knackered. Shall we go home?” We were in bed by 9:30pm and slept for a eleven straight hours.

Utter bliss.

At 8:30 when we woke up, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. I was bouncing round the apartment, not used to so much energy & we actually struggled to find things to do to fill the time until my mom brought Baby Girl back that afternoon! All we kept saying was, “what did we do before we had Baby Girl on a Sunday?”

And that’s when it hit us. If we could go back in time and have baby-free lives again, we would be so efficient. We’d probably have solved world peace by now if we had that kind of time again!

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Mama Badge: Surviving the MMR vaccine

  Time & time again my parents tell the infamous story of me, age two, a few weeks after having my MMR, repeatedly banging my head off the floor, distraught with swollen glands.

Twenty-four years on, my mum friends who had had the MMR before us warned me it would be bleak; fever, crying, the usual fall out of a jab but up a notch or two now they’re older.

In the UK, babies now get the MMR around their first birthday. However, I delayed ours by about a month as we were going on holiday, then I had some freelance work on… Safe to say I’m very, very pleased I waited for Baby Girl to get her MMR when I had the time to deal with the reaction rather than trying to deal with it on a plane to Italy.

The MMR is a live vaccine. That means the reaction isn’t immediate. The virus stays in your baby’s system for some time, ‘working it’s magic’. It’s hardcore. And hellish.

Phase 1: Measles

Baby Girl just gave up and put her head down on the changing table for a nap.

Between five and ten days after the jab, measles begins to rear its ugly head. Baby Girl had a rash down her back and around her mouth. She had a light fever, looked a bit sorry for herself, seemed a bit under the weather & was a bit grumpier than usual.

But this felt manageable.

Phase 2: Mumps

Between three and five weeks after the jab, the mumps part of the MMR comes to play.

The NHS website says:

one in 50 children develop a mild form of mumps. This includes swelling of the glands in the cheek, neck or under the jaw, and lasts for a day or two.

 Just take that in for a minute. One in 50. That seems a low chance doesn’t it?

Well dear reader, I’ve taken bullet for you. Because Baby Girl was that one.

Oh sweet Jesus.

Baby Girl was in a fowl mood for about three days. Cried at almost everything. Didn’t want to be held, didn’t want to be put down. Didn’t want to eat, but then would bang at the kitchen cupboard, howling, as though we were starving her. Nothing was right. At all.

On the Tuesday, I was house hunting in the afternoon then going to an interview so my mom was coming about 11am to hold down the fort. By 8am, Baby Girl was absolutely inconsolable. The crying started, honestly, for no apparent reason. She was playing on the bedroom floor while I dried my hair then just started wailing. She was red in the face, tears streaming down her cheeks, her voice hoarse with the screaming, rolling and writhing around on the floor. If I went near her, she crawled away, crying louder. I was beside myself. I didn’t know what to do.

I tried forcing paracetamol down her neck with a syringe (a baby friendly one that comes in the packet I hasten to add!) but she just batted me away, flailing & flopping this way & that, nearly whacking her head numerous times. So I gave up.

By 9am, I simply grabbed her & tried to clasp her tightly to me, rocking her gently, desperately trying to sooth her. The screaming reached new decibels & in her desperate attempt to escape, she kicked so hard she smacked her head off the floor. I let go defeated and let her crawl away from me once again, still crying.

And that’s when it started.

She knelt up, threw her head back then flopped forwards, banging her head off the floor. Again & again & again. Exactly as my parents described me doing 24 years ago. No matter what I did, I couldn’t make her stop.

By 9:45am, we were on opposite sides of the room, both sobbing. I was completely spent & I felt utterly useless. What good is a mother if they can’t make you feel better?

NB: I don’t usually take photos of Baby Girl when in distress rather than helping her. This was taken to send to the OH while he was a at with the caption, “I don’t know what to do!”

Some time after 10am, she finally calmed, lying on her side, whimpering quietly. I slowly crawled towards her & started stroking her head, singing softly. We stayed like that for some time.

This was the only morning it got this bad. The following morning we had about an hour and a half of solid crying, though thankfully no head banging. After about three days, she was just a bit grumpier than usual but otherwise back to normal.

Phase 3: rubella 

Things quieten after phase two for most bambinos. You might be dealing with Leap 9, just to add insult to injury, but usually, you wouldn’t have had as severe a reaction to phase two as Baby Girl did & you’re on the home stretch.

Then BAM! Rubella swoops in & ruins everything.

Up to six weeks – six weeks! – after the initial jab (giving you just enough time to forget about it…) your baby can suffer from a rash & fever. On Saturday, Baby Girl woke up with a runny nose. By bedtime, she had a fever and a rash around her mouth & creeping up her right arm. Bedtime was long & arduous. She screamed for someone to comfort her, then cuddled Ewan the Sheep like her life depended on it while you rubbed her back softly.

But fingers crossed, this is it now. We’re done & dusted…

We’ve had more than a few long, loud, nights as a result of the MMR & a few long, tough days as well.

So, I do believe we’ve earned another badge. And that’s about the only silver lining there is to the MMR.

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