Thursday, 18 September 2014

Stockpiling for Dreams

As I walk with baby in the pram, dog by my side, I take in the scenery; sights, smells and sounds of nature and pretty stone cottages and pergolas covered in bougainvillea. There is so much to take in and it sends my imagination into overdrive. I get excited at the simplest of thoughts. Little ideas of how I could recreate something I've just seen. Noticing a trio of colours in the trees and saving it as a colour palette to apply to a crochet project in future. My mind is buzzing.

I wouldn't be surprised if passers by see huge grins make their way across my face, or looks of "Ah ha!" when I realise how I could make that dog house out of pallets. Crazy lady.

I'm definitely a dreamer. I dream big, and to the point where they actually become a reality to me. It's amazing how positive thinking like this can make your day brighter, and other people's too. The key is, as long as you are content with where you are in life and appreciate what you have, there is nothing wrong with dreaming big.

"I want to build a little stone house on a nice plot of land."

 It sounds materialistic, I know. It's the "I want.." that can make people cringe. However, there is a difference between "I want" and "I need" and I don't see anything wrong with wanting the outdoor space for my children and pets to play and run free, without the fear of them being poisoned (it happens here in Cyprus - some don't like dogs.. they love children though, I must add!). No, I don't need it. I am happily making wonderful memories where I am.

I know what my dream family home looks like. I have drawn up the plans. I have researched building materials. In the corner of the kitchen, I'd like a little wooden trough, lined with a burlap sack, to store my freshly-picked, home-grown produce in. This is the detail that my imagination takes me to. Because of these little things that make up a bigger dream, I have kept an eye out, every morning when I pass the rubbish bins, for other people's unwanted items, eg furniture. Yes, they could do with a hose down, dry out, sanding and a good waxing, but for the cost of a piece of sandpaper and wax, I could have the perfect table for my little boy to create his wax-crayon masterpieces on. If I put the elbow grease into these projects and someone were to see the beautiful finished article, they might say: "and to think you saw this by a bin, how lucky!" or "What a blessing!" but if I didn't believe my dreams were possible, I wouldn't have collected that grubby wooden room divider a few years ago. Or the pretty wooden blinds, hiding under a layer of dirt, so this is where it isn't luck, or a 'blessing' it is our choice of positive thoughts of making our dreams a reality. (Note: an interesting read here, regarding material possessions and blessings for my Christian friends)

I have recently started calling this 'Stockpiling for Dreams'. It's wonderful to have faith in what might seem impossible. I absolutely love my life, the people in it and I appreciate everything I have. I am content. That is where true happiness lies. So if your mind runs into overdrive like mine, don't feel guilty for your 'materialistic' dreams, as long as you are grateful and know you don't need such things, keep making amazing memories with what you have, while you stockpile for bigger dreams.

Anything is possible.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Raccoon Scarf/Stole By A Sewing-Competent Mum

I've been a busy(ish) girl. I can now announce that I am competent on my (what was intimidating,) sewing machine!

I should have overcome this fear many years ago. It's my mother's trade, after all; dressmaking, craft, embroidery... but I always avoided the loud stuff and opted for peaceful creativity instead.

As my profile says, I love to crochet, especially now that I have a little one to give my creations to. 'Friendly Floppy Fox', my own design, accompanies little man's various trips in the pram, and occasionally takes a trip to the woods. Here he is slumped nonchalantly, at his favorite spot:

Living in Cyprus, the weather reaches some crazy-hot highs. I love it, always have. However, this creates a teeny tiny problem when it comes to baby-wearing, which I also love... a lot. Obscure items are not readily available in this country, such as baby slings made from swim wear material, so I knew it was time for me to grow a pair and run to Mum for some sewing lessons. An easy mini-cushion, with plenty of help. Then a baby bib, a bit of advice along the way. Then I felt overwhelmed, so I took a break and went back to crochet... until a couple of weeks ago, while organizing my craft project folders, something jumped out at me...

This fox scarf by Prudent Baby

 It was a project I fell in love with many months ago, at the time just a wishful dream; "I can't really sew, but I'll print it out anyway". I didn't want to forget it, but I also must have had some belief in myself, somewhere, that I'd one day be capable of creating such a cute creature (although in my mind I saw him as a raccoon).

It's funny how things work out. Before becoming a mum, I'd always imagined myself as a mature, sensible parent, a true nurturing type. An earth mother, in natural, bohemian clothing. One who perhaps used organic, cloth nappies. A woman who tended to her vegetable plot but who also pruned her roses, complete with sage green gardening gloves protecting her clean soft hands. In the oven, a hearty casserole, the smell of 'home' radiating from the kitchen. The cook wearing a floral apron with a lace trim. As I write this, I realise I'm mostly describing my Grandma and my Mum. It's what I recognize as home. Although when I became pregnant, I didn't really feel like I was any of these things. Definitely not maternal. I also strongly believed that I wasn't going to try and change, it had to come naturally (I didn't think it would at all). But slowly, beyond my control, things ARE changing.

So there it was, now with a baby boy by my side, this strong urge to create a friendly animal to cuddle his delicate little neck in the winter months. The times when we'll take trips to the forest in our wellies.

Out came the material I had set aside, including the faux fur from a gorgeous coat. A coat too hot for Cyprus, but too sentimental for a second-hand shop. The coat that got me the nickname 'Eskimo' at school, as I paired it with a pair of black Dr.Martins (I was more influenced by styles from 8 years before, than I was by the modern time's fashion - my older siblings are to blame - I idolised them all). And I just dived into the deep end and got on with it!

Tracing patterns, adapting from a fox to a raccoon, cutting out, forgetting to account for seam allowance, trying to sew too many layers of thick fabric together, googling 'sewing machine tension problems', fixing problem by re-threading machine too many times to count, sewing the tail on backwards, unpicking, re-sewing...

... This, in my opinion is the best way to learn, getting lost in unknown territory and finding your way out, so to speak. I believe I'll never forget how to thread a sewing machine again. The below phrase comes to mind (it adorns my positivity board):

So, here he is, in all his imperfect glory (he is yet to be named), adorning my wall of stuff!:

Sleeping on the bed head:

Hangin' around:

Showing off his lighter underside:

I have Prudent Baby to thank for this, although I've made some changes. I suggest you head over to her, then if you like the raccoon look, let me know and I'll upload the additional pieces. What now? Now I'm in the mood to make a floral apron with a lace trim. Hmmm...

Monday, 7 July 2014

Mental Cleaning Rota - It's Totally Mental

Balancing cleaning and being a fun mum is a fine art. At the moment, as my little boy is so young (5 months old), there is never a time I have to be serious with him. It's all play, giggle, play. He's also not on the move yet, other than a few minutes in his baby walker (you don't want to find yourself in his path when he's piloting that thing!). So we're just having a ball most of the time, even when I'm dusting and scrubbing, he finds it hilarious. This enables me to keep most chores in check. Although I plan to keep cleaning a fun part of the day, I'm also thinking realistically and I'm quite sure he'll cotton on eventually that this cleaning malarkey is a bit too repetitive to be an exciting activity. Not only that but in a few months he'll be 'go! go! go!' and obviously I prioritize his safety and happiness over a spick & span abode.

I don't know how long this phenomena called 'baby brain' is supposed to last, but it's showing no signs of departing any time soon. In fact I believe I'll be suffering from 'toddler-brain' to 'teenager-brain'. One side effect of this condition is me cleaning the same things twice and leaving others for far too long. Plus I'll always opt to do anything over cleaning the floors (after all, it's much easier to just keep cleaning my feet - am I the only skank that does this?!). With the likelihood of having less cleaning time in future months, something had to change. 'What are the minimum cleaning jobs during the week?' I pondered. I do laundry all throughout the week and the kitchen almost everyday anyway, so those aren't a worry.

Everyone does things differently, but I chose the following:
Main Bedroom (everything inc. changing sheets)
The Nursery (same as above)
Outdoor jobs (hosing balconies down etc)
Sofas (vacuuming & replacing throws)

I once had a cleaning rota. I had a checklist for each day and specified colours for different jobs. I even laminated it. Yep, laminated it... whiteboard markers were purchased to tick off jobs as I went. It lasted a week. The truth is, even the ticking felt like a waste of time. I'm now really determined to find a way that works for me, to have all jobs covered each week, so, staring at my new list... hmm, there are 7 there... 7 days in a week. I know, I'll assign 1 job to each day of the week. How will I remember? A play around with letters and words would definitely work for me.
Ok, Floors on a Friday.
Main bedroom begins with M. That's a Monday job.
The Nursery. Th. Thursday for sure.
Bathroom can be called Toilet instead and become Tuesday's task.
What's left? Dusting. Outdoor jobs. Sofas. Wednesday. Saturday. Sunday.
Well with allocating Saturday for Sofa duty, I'll play with the 'sun' of Sunday to remind me to get outside and pick up the hose. That goes well with my lifestyle too, as I was brought up in a home of outdoorsy Sundays; tea parties with teddy bears in the shade of a tree, the smell of freshly cut grass filling the air while my parents tended to the garden around me... I digress... There is no ring to 'Wednesday Dusting' so I swapped Wipe Down for Dusting.

Monday Main Bedroom
Tuesday Toilet
Wednesday Wipe Down
Thursday The Nursery
Friday Floors
Saturday Sofas
Sunday Sun

It's been a week of following this routine now and it's going extremely well, mainly because rather than pottering-about-cleaning in the morning, I have a specific task to crack on with. I used to let my eye catch a bit of dust from afar, which I'd then go and wipe down even though I was already half way through something else. But that has stopped now. My jobs are complete by lunch time, freeing up the rest of the day for other things, be they extra cleaning or meeting friends. 

So now it's just a case of remembering which day of the week it is. Hmmm.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Mottos To Live By (Part 1)

Along the journey of making positive changes in my life, I have picked up a few 'mottos' that when I've applied them to my situations, I have seen vast improvements in my well-being. In fact it wasn't until writing this blog post that I realized how many I actually have! So these are a selection of many. I will start with a quote from one of my favorite films, 'Our Idiot Brother', said by the main character, Ned:

1) "I live my life a certain way. And that is, I like to think if you put your trust out there, I mean you give people the benefit of the doubt, see their best intentions, they'll want to live up to it. It doesn't always work out, clearly, but I think that if you do people will rise to the occasion."

I have chosen this one first, as I had completely forgotten about it until recently, yet it is the most important to me. I've had people in my life who's seemingly kind actions usually had ulterior motives behind them. Although I'm distancing myself from those with this insincere trait, I had definitely got into a bad habit of assuming that every kind gesture of theirs was to get some kind of personal gain. As Eckhart Tolle (author of my favorite book, 'A New Earth') says:
"When you pronounce judgment upon someone, you confuse those conditioned mind patterns with who they are. To do that is in itself a deeply conditioned and unconscious pattern. You give them a conceptual identity, and that false identity becomes a prison not only for the other person but also for yourself."
So if you notice yourself groaning or mentally saying "oh here we go" as someone approaches you, nip it in the bud and open your mind to them.

2) "If you haven't got anything good to say, (you're probably not thinking hard enough, however it's still best that you...) don't say anything at all."

This one is generally for strangers and acquaintances. I'm a strong believer in being completely open and honest (even if it will upset the listener) however with unfamiliar folk, I'd rather leave them with good vibes. I like to think I help my good friends pursue hopes so a bit of constructive criticism could help them go a long way. Also, I'm sure the friendly morning jogger is only being polite when he asks "hi, you alright?" as he runs past. I'd definitely choose to respond with a smile and a "good thanks" over stopping him in his tracks so he can hear a brief low down of a terrible day.

3) "If it's not your story to tell, don't tell it."

Enough said.

4) "Disarm guilt as a weapon"

The defense's lawyer would have no chance in the courtroom if some folk I've encountered took to the stand. They could make anyone break down with guilt, even the innocent. I'm happy to have known people who do this, as I've learned to recognize the behaviour and can turn it around. If you've ever made a change in your life, that you feel is the right decision, there's a chance you too, have left one or two sullen people in your wake. You're not quite living your life how they want you to, so the attempt of taking you along for a ride of guilt transpires and suddenly, your life decisions are in their hands. Disarm guilt as a weapon and regain control.

5) "It always seems impossible until it is done." - Nelson Mandela

When I was pregnant, I made a positivity board. The idea behind it was, that if I ever had to pace up and down with a crying baby, close to tears myself, I'd glance at board of uplifting (but not patronizing) quotes and pictures and feel better. Although "imagine babies with mustaches" was a good one, it was trumped by "It always seems impossible until it is done". Thankfully I've never had to use it for the way I intended, but the words still stuck in my mind. It has been repeated so many times now, that there's even a tune for it. While out and about, trying to figure out the best way to calm a grizzly little one, I've almost gotten a little stressed. Then I would start thinking "I'll just pack up and go home". A few minutes later, the baby boy is asleep and it seems like it wasn't such a big deal after all.

So have you got any phrases you apply when you find yourself needing a bit of a boost? If you have, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Friendship Refreshment

The people in our lives come and go with change, a new job, moving house, we've all experienced this. These people we surround ourselves with influence our lives tremendously. So here's a thought: what is the role of the people in your life? Do they elevate you to be the best person you can be? Or do they hold you back? It might seem silly at first, "Why would I spend time with people if they hold me back?", but for some of us, the truth is, we do. It might be because these are the people that we have met through chance encounters, who kind of hung on, or because of a bad habit of our own, eg indulging in gossip. Surprisingly, few of us choose the bulk of our friendships deliberately. We don't necessarily make the choice of who surrounds us consciously. So what if we think about changing that?

I'm not one for getting too close to those who are extremely negative anyway, but when I think of people holding me back, I also think of those who, after having a chat with them, I have that feeling of being drained of energy. Being there for a friend in need is one thing, but I'm talking about the ones who seem to create problems for themselves to complain about. And not just the complainers, but the ones who clearly have no intention of looking on the bright side of life any time soon. The ones who I've often gone against my own principle of pushing 'help' onto them, by sharing a brilliant flow chart with them (they often aren't looking for help, just crave sympathy, so when you do offer alternative ways of looking at things, there is zero interest).

Looking at it from all angles, to be honest, if I choose not to give the sympathy-cravers the "oh how awful for you" responses that they're after, perhaps their lives would be better without me too? 

Unfortunately, some people I know are really held back by those they call friends. You could call it adult bullying. Dreams quashed: "Ha! Yeah right love, dream on!"... "I wouldn't bother if I were you, it probably won't work out". It is such a shame to see. But it's important to realise that there is a choice here. They allow it to happen. Perhaps to avoid confrontation, or for fear of upsetting, but this is where a subconcious (or concious) decision of loyalty is made; "With whom shall I remain loyal to? This 'friend' or myself?". Ultimately, they choose the friend. Now I've spoken about this before and I accept others' opinions of this seeming selfish, but I truly believe that taking care of ourselves should be high up on our list of priorities (the Bible's quote of "if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit" comes to mind), often before looking after others.

I have adopted quite a few mottos recently, as I'm making positive changes in my life. It wasn't that I felt like I needed to, but why not? One of these mottos is "drop the bad, add the good". I've applied it to habits (a blog post will be coming soon regarding those) and I'm going to apply it to people too ("what a bitch!"). Obviously you don't go around getting rid of people, at least I really hope not, but in my opinion, there is no reason why we can't lessen or eliminate the time spent with the people who have a negative effect on us... "drop the bad".

What about "add the good"? Well the exciting thing about this 'friendship refreshment' is that dropping the bad frees up space and time for meeting new people (actually for me, adding the good is also about increasing the get-togethers with the people who are already in my life). Not only this, but it can bring about new hobbies, it can fulfill lifelong dreams. For example perhaps you are craving interaction with more adventurous types. The ones who take risks. Is a sky dive an ambition of yours? 2 birds, 1 stone, right there. Or maybe you're tired of the gossipy coffee mornings with the girls and have always fancied learning to crochet? Swap the caffeine fix for a craft one and join a crochet workshop instead.

I have learned a few things recently, but one is pin-pointing a trait in others who I have allowed to cloud my sunny skies. That trait is not accepting responsibility for their own actions and emotions. At some point in their lives they have picked up a habit of blaming others for the things they have done and the consequent feelings that have come with it. Probably because it got the results they were after. But since noticing this negative behaviour and allowing myself to take the trip of guilt a few too many times, I have decided to walk away from it. At least, until they realise how unhealthy it is for themselves and others. In my opinion, the day they stop relying on others for their emotional attention is the day they gain a healthy self-esteem and a general low level of neediness with people around them. This will set them free.

So where to start? Well, the advice I had was to think about the people you spend your time with. Write a list. It can be short, long, depending on your circumstances. Now ask yourself, do you want to become more like these people? Yes or no? Is anyone a bad influence that causes you to backslide? Are any of them a beacon of encouragement that help you flourish? And go from there. Get creative. Think about new, fun and exciting things that the world has to offer and take the positive folk with you. The negative ones will catch up, one day, and join you on the bright side of life.

Here's a lovely paragraph from Steve Pavlina's blog:
"The kinds of relationships I seek out today are those which have the potential to be win-win, where both people can help each other to grow in positive ways without holding each other back. Not one person using the other — synergy. I’m always open and inviting of new friendships of this kind. If I ever feel like I’m stuck in a cage, I know it’s time to reach out and make some new connections and/or loosen up some old ones."

Monday, 16 June 2014

Paradigm Shift

Everything around us is constantly evolving, but I am currently going through (what I would call) some life-changing experiences. We all learn things gradually as we walk our chosen paths, veering left and right, taking u-turns.. but there are certain times, when you are thrown off the path completely and you have to make some tough decisions. Sometimes we prefer the comfort of simply finding our way back. It's easier - to backtrack. Other times we opt for the harder task of creating an entirely new path. Either way, these experiences can teach us so much, IF we are willing to learn.

I feel I am now entering the third chapter of my life.

The second chapter began during the months of leaving secondary school. Something happened, and during a matter of minutes, a paradigm shift began to take place. The event itself wasn't a big deal, however it was a testing of my principles that caused me to have a think about things. Things I knew had to change. It was so hard at the time, but I was reassured of my decisions being the right ones after a couple of years.

I felt the beginnings, or potential at least, for a third chapter 2 years ago. I kept getting flashes... sparks of realizations, but no 'oomph' to really fuel those sparks into a roaring fire. In my opinion, you can't make these things happen. You can try and you'll go a little way, but something out of your control needs to happen. You need to be thrown, thus forcing you to deal with things you may not want to have to deal with.

Believe it or not, I'm not necessarily talking about experiences such as marriage, or starting a family - at least not the case for me anyway. It could also be a single moment, a 'glimpse' if you will, where suddenly something just comes to you. A snowball effect ensues and you find yourself with a hundred answers, some you didn't even know you had questions to. For me, there are many questions as well, but once the scariness of dealing with change has passed, it's incredibly exciting, and I have found these are the times when I really feel I'm 'growing up'.

Apologies for the vagueness of this post, but the details aren't important and they're kind of personal :-) Have I left you completely bemused or can you relate? I'd love to know x

Friday, 30 May 2014

Just Be Good

My sister has a blog, 'Geraldine Jayne' which I absolutely love. She blogs about her experiences, through her eyes as a Christian. So the fact that I am not religious in any way (in fact I love my science and nature programs about evolution), you'd think it would surprise me that I love her blog so much. But it doesn't, because her posts have a theme - a theme I feel strongly about - and that is growing 'spiritually'; learning how to better yourself, showing compassion for others and focusing on the positivity of things. I literally get excited when I see she has just posted on her blog - I sometimes even save it until I can't resist a good read!

I love our chats, too. We don't push our beliefs on each other, however we do share them and often agree, replacing words like 'ego' with 'flesh' and 'Mother Nature' with 'God'. There is a quote from my favorite show of Ricky Gervais', 'Derek', that reminds me of our relationship:
"I've met people who believe in God that are good and that are bad. And I've met people who don't believe in God that are good and that are bad. So, just be good. I'm good. Not cos I think I'll go to heaven but because when I do something bad, I feel bad. And when I do something good, I feel good."

And that's it for this post... so for now, just be good :-)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Getting the Best Out of a Situation

I have a wonderful friend, who is one of- no, let's say 'the most', balanced person I have ever known. She embraces everything that life throws at her, and with a smile on her face (a cheeky-up-to-mischief grin actually). I could not put a price on the advice she gives, it's invaluable to me.

When I've found myself stressing over a particular problem, there has been one phrase that she has said to me (on more than one occasion), and that is; "Realistically, what do you want to come of this situation and how can you best achieve it?". I've been thinking back to this phrase a lot recently... in fact it can be applied regularly each day. It seems too simple, but it does a few things for me. Firstly, it makes me pause to think, before letting my ego control a situation. Secondly, it changes my mentality from idly complaining, to getting proactive and making changes to make my life happier. Thirdly, the "how can you best achieve it?" part forces me to really try to understand another's viewpoint.

With each time I have asked myself these questions, I feel my understanding of others comes about more quickly (it's amazing how this makes your feelings of irritation just melt away!). This doesn't necessarily mean I agree with them, and that's ok, but that I can at least be more willing to see their point of view. Once I have put myself in the other person's shoes, I find it enables me to think up more realistic compromises. After all, It would be extremely narrow-minded to assume we could alter another's viewpoint to match ours, so we should never aim to 'win'. Eg, in an argument.

A quote from Steve Pavlina:
"In a typical argument, each person tries to prove themselves right and the other person wrong. Of course, we all know what happens in the end — each person only ends up more entrenched in their views, regardless of who seems to deliver the most dominant argument. An argument cannot be won with resistance. You will only strengthen the other person’s resolve. At best you will both leave in a state of stubbornness, but little communication will have actually occurred."

 Once I have a good compromise in mind, I then have a think of the personality of the person in question. For example, politely and quietly informing a boot camp sergeant that it upset you a bit when he called you 'weak' will likely have little to no effect whatsoever. By the same token, shouting at a timid individual will probably have too strong an impact on them.

My wonderful husband is a cheeky, lovable so-and-so. A few years ago, it really irked me that although we both worked full-time, it was me that did the vast majority of housework. I desperately wanted to change this, but how? I tried a rota. Of course he found loop-holes, as he did in any agreement of this sort. On the rare occasion that he carried out a chore, it wasn't quite up to standard (he lacked the no-need-to-iron-this-shirt-if-I-hang-it-out-properly skill). So what did I want to come of this situation? Reward or appreciation of what I do would be nice, at least some kind of balance, in a clean home. Realistically? He simply wasn't as driven as I was, he just wasn't bothered, so I couldn't expect him to do a great job, especially frequently. And anyway did I really trust him with the delicate clothing items? Honestly? If him doing laundry made more ironing work for me, I'd rather it not be done by him at all. Hmm, did he fake a bad job? I had to play him at his own dirty (excuse the pun) game.

Now I do all the laundry. That was the compromise. BUT... If he rolls up his dirty socks before throwing them in the laundry basket (I hate that!), they get put back in his drawer and, my favorite bit coming up right here... If he doesn't empty the pockets of the clothes he wants to be cleaned, I reward myself with their contents. That's my housekeeping money (and cotton buds!-ew). But here's the really dirty bit... If he's had a heavy session one evening, his dirty clothes will get a little strewn across the apartment. So early the next morning "Do you want these washed darling?" (I know his answer will be yes) and there's the housekeeping bonus! I'm sure most husbands would avoid any conversation with their wives regarding how much they spent on alcohol the night before, so both parties will keep quiet, the poor (another pun, sorry!) husband too afraid to ask how much, if any, money was left. Luckily for me, as my husband's friends will agree, he often (somehow!) comes home with more than he went out with!!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Baby on a Pedestal

Recently, my baby has started to cry when he is being handed over to others who want to hold him. At first my head told me 'he should get used to it' and I'd let him cry with the 'stranger' for a minute or 2, going against my heart's wishes of holding him close to me while I reassure him. Well that idea didn't last long and I started to have a little think about things.

Having a baby with you seems to give genuine strangers a license to make a bee-line for you and interrupt your current conversation with a friend so they can interact with you and your baby. I'm learning to be more open with folks like this as I know they do this with a fondness for children (although I still get an automatic response of feeling rather irritated by their lack of regard for my or my baby's personal space).

If I had little control over my body and I was still in the survival mode that I believe babies are in, during their first stage of life on the outside, I too would probably be horrified if I was taken away from my protector/s. In fact, force me into a room now, with someone I don't know and you're putting me into an extremely uncomfortable position. Get me to embrace them? Haha, my inner hippy wants me to say yes but being honest I'm too reserved for it to be genuine. Cringe.

I've come to realise that many of us expect quite a lot from babies. In fact I bet some mothers have been made to feel awful, that they have 'created' this whingy 4 month old, by lack of socialization. Not me, thankfully as I have caring people around me and anyone who would attempt to imply this to me wouldn't get taken notice of anyway, but I do hope these other mothers gain the confidence they need to take no notice and keep doing their thing.

Having had little to no experience with babies in the past, I tend to think "how would I feel if I was him?" regarding my baby in certain situations. One of these situations I include here is when he is tired. I think, 'ok, no noises too loud, although some noise is good... erm, let's see... not too much "in your face" stimulation, certainly no intense playing of any kind'. This has worked well for me so far. Something that surprises me then, is the behaviour of the other mothers or grandmothers who I don't know that come up to me. For example, if I say "Oh he's tired at the moment" suddenly a big grin and an "Oh! You're tired little one are you? Oh! Lovely! La la la la goo goo gaa!" aaand cue the discomforted noises of my little one. Sometimes I've even had "oh let's have a cuddle then if he's tired!". So what I would like to know is, what is your experience? Is this what worked for them when their babies were tired? Or do they just want to be close to this baby knowing that they don't have to handle the consequences of an irritable baby? It's only strangers that do this, so perhaps there's also an element of them getting the most out of this (likely only a) one-off event. Maybe it's been that long that they've forgotten? Unless they are simply just not thinking at all?

For now I'll give these folk a break and embrace (ha!) their friendliness. And to all the mothers out there; give yourself and your baby and break and just keep doing your thing. Let's stop expecting too much from our little ones, after all it's a pretty dangerous image; a baby on a pedestal.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Busy Mum's Cupcakes ('Lazy Cakes')

Having simple go-to recipes doesn't only make my life easier, but I like to think that one day when the little lad is a little older, a fun and fuss-free recipe will encourage him in the kitchen by boosting his confidence. I already have a really cute apron for him, waiting to get messy!

I test recipes and when they are both tasty and mega easy, I jot them down in my little blue book. In this book is a quick and easy vanilla cupcake sponge that I'm sharing with you today! There is also a simple buttercream frosting, but I still struggle to spread it on the cakes nicely, so I recommend Nutella, Peanut Butter, or even Jam, but I'll include the frosting recipe at the bottom of this post anyway.

This sponge recipe is so easy, there's no careful folding with a metal spoon or being careful not to curdle the mixture, you literally just whisk all the ingredients together!:

90g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
2 eggs
150g (1 cup) self raising flour
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Whisk all ingredients together, divide among 12 cake cases and bake for 20 minutes!

If you want a little something extra than simple vanilla sponge cakes, add any one of the following!
     > Chocolate: 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder mixed with 2 tablespoons of milk
     > Rainbow Speckles:  3 tablespoons of Hundreds 'n' Thousands sprinkles
     > Chocco Speckles: 3 tablespoons of chocolate sprinkles
     > Lemon: 3 tablespoons lemon zest
     > Orange: 3 tablespoons orange zest
     > Lime: 3 tablespoons lime zest
     > Coffee: 1 teaspoon coffee extract (or mix a tablespoon of coffee granules with
         a little water)
     > Passionfruit: replace the 2 tablespoons milk with 60ml passionfruit pulp
     > Cherrie: 100g sliced glacĂ© cherries

Here's the yummy frosting that I struggle to decorate the cakes with.
Beat all ingredients together and try to spread on the cakes:

125g butter, softened
240g (1 & 1/2 cups) icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk

Happy baking!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Procrastination & Unnecessary Worry

I procrastinate. I'm currently trying to change this statement to 'I used to procrastinate' (oh the irony). The fact is, I like to be laid back with things. A bit too laid back according to others, and the law. My husband used to take care of things like banking/insurance/bills but as he works away now I'm going through the process of organizing everything to change this and become familiar with these 'mundane' (but highly important) tasks myself.

I also worry. Mainly about official stuff, but also about small simple tasks. I tend to think of myself as happy go lucky and laid back, although my worrying side would seem to contradict this. For at least 10 years I've been practicing 'positivity' and my life has reaped the rewards of this. But this slight worry is so automatic that it hasn't really taken a back seat yet, but at least I can recognize it and change my thoughts. I'm currently doing an application for my baby's first passport. I'm totally legit and so is he, but I still worry about what could go wrong, so I've prepared for every eventuality (actually I can't as the passport office still writes annoying stuff like "it is within our right to ask you to send us further information and documents if we feel it is required"... the buggers).

One example of a simple task in which I find myself a bit panicky, is finding a place to park. The thing is, I know the roads well, I know where the building is, but still, I seem to care more about the (not-so-skillful) driver behind me, worrying that I might add a minute of slight inconvenience to his journey (even though he's been driving as if searching for something in my car's boot - er hello, baby on board!). It starts with a heavy thumping in my chest before I realise what's happening. Really quite pathetic, but like I said, I cannot control it, only recognize it and tell myself to grow a pair and behave.

Another task I seem to dread and put off, is withdrawing money from the ATM with a baby. Get in car, baby in car seat, 2 mins down road baby falls asleep, reach bank, hmm do I leave baby in car with door open? Of course not you fool! Take the baby to the ATM! But he's asleep! So! You need money!.... and it goes on. Then I get back in car with baby and money and it really was no big deal.

So I've done my spring clean, organized my files and bills, got a diary on the go and I'm feeling pretty confident. I really ought to get a calendar out with big clear boxes for me to write future tasks in, but I've been kind of putting that off...

Monday, 28 April 2014


Opinions. We all have our own. Some of us like to stand up and shout them from the rooftops. Others keep theirs to themselves. Some like to push their own onto others, while many fall out with friends due to a difference of them.

I'm responsible for all of the above, at least I have been at some stage in my life. It's only in recent years, however, that I've learned to not take other's point of view to heart. If you do, it can really spoil an otherwise beautiful day. I like to try and give people the benefit of doubt, that is, when I hear something that can only be described as unnecessary negativity, I'll mentally label it as one of the following:
A) A dry sense of humour (this I like!)
B) Honesty (matter-of-fact-style, perhaps a critiquing)
C) It came out of their mouth with little thought
D) They're only trying to help
If it's none of the above, it's probably;
E) They're putting others down to make themselves feel better

Growing up, I heard a majority of E's. Probably due to teenagers' lack of confidence. Then over time, as I've filtered out the nasties, I'm a recipient of a lot of A's. Perfect. Oh and a few B's - as an arts 'n' crafter this has helped improve my work. However I do hear an occasional E still. It's easier said than done to just ignore and move on, as the ego gets defensive and wants a fight (I don't see the harm in an imaginary pummeling of the bully ;-) ). The last time an E was dished out to me, it was aimed not only at me, but also at my son (yes, a 3-month-old baby). My primitive instinct screamed in my ear to get the claws out and launch myself into the nasty piece of work that stood before me, but thankfully my intellect took over, I smiled and walked away. I was so happy as I really wasn't in the mood to mop up several pints of blood.

Anyway, I read somewhere that an argument is a form of verbal martial arts and I've found this to be so helpful. If something is verbally aimed at you, if you don't respond to it, it doesn't affect you. Better still, you can deflect it back at them with a question, eg: "Do you feel better now that you've said that?". This is a great one as it surprises them and you can see the look of disbelief on their face followed by what looks like overwhelming discomfort at not knowing how to respond. If you respond or not, just know it is a choice you make, whether or not you let it affect your mood.

Indulging in a bit of imaginary fisty cuffs, where you win of course, is always a bit of a pick-me-up too!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Celebrate Yourself!

I'm a firm believer in looking after number one, yourself, before others. It may seem selfish, but I think it's healthy. I don't mean every decision I make is to benefit me, I just like to generally keep myself happy.

When I was about 17, I read an interview of a celebrity who was turning 40 that particular year. A question put to her, was "What would you tell your younger self, if you could? Is there anything that has taken you 40 years to learn?" I can't quote her exact words, but her answer was learning to say no. That it's ok to say no (one of my favorite mottos now). Why this answer stuck with me, I don't know..  I definitely admired her, and I suppose at that time in my life I found myself saying 'yes' to keep others happy, making myself miserable in the process.

A friend invited me over for a barbecue and my answer was no. My head told me I should accept the invitation, as this was the polite thing to do, but in my heart I just didn't fancy it. I didn't have any other plans, but I was enjoying my home time with my little boy. When she heard me decline and my (lack of) reason, her response was "Now I like that. That's refreshing. Honesty. Others would have probably said 'oh thanks that'd be lovely', then text to say they can't make it. No bullshit with you!".
And so, I had a lovely day in with my son.

My son. The lovely little person that has put a bit of a hold on me looking after myself first. Having children kind of does that to you :-) but as another of my favorite mottos goes; 'Everything in moderation'. To have a happy child, I believe, requires having a happy parent. So it's all about balance. Although so far, I couldn't be happier, BECAUSE I have this child.

Well today being a wet weather day, I'm going to have another one of my quiet days at home, tending to my boy's every need - just doing what makes us happy.

One day when the boy is a little older, wet weather days will be spent splashing in muddy puddles... if he likes it, that is ;-)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Learning to Let Go

During some random googling a few days ago, I came across this article: "The 5 Hardest Things About Being A Mom". It covers a few topics, but the ones that got me thinking were of the theme of 'Letting Go'. Now, I am at the beginning of my motherhood journey, but I still think about how I would like to parent in future, however letting go is something that I don't think you can quite prepare yourself for.

So according to the article I found, Mom Challenge number 3 is separation anxiety (yours):

For weeks Kathie Papera, 36, dreaded 4-year–old Ella's first day of preschool. "I pictured her crying and holding on to my feet," says the Manhattan Beach, CA, mom. To her surprise, however, Ella, who is usually of the hide-behind-mom's-leg variety of shy, stopped acknowledging her mother's existence after about 10 minutes with her new teachers and friends. "At some point Ella ran up to me and whispered in my ear, 'It's okay, Mommy, you can go now,'" Papera says, so she slowly backed out of the room and cried the entire drive home.

Similarly, in Tanis Miller's blog post, "To India and Beyond" she talks about her first born's first day at school:

"Letting go was hard to do that morning. It was only with time and the arrival of the little yellow school bus bringing her home that I was able to exhale. My baby was home.".

It's funny, I believe it's in these situations that you have to allow your head's logic to rule over your heart's parental instincts. A hard habit to break when you've been practicing it every minute of every day since your child was born. A new habit must form, from the first time with a baby sitter, then with each school etc. The answer of how to cope according to the article is thus:

For starters, recognize that your emotions are separate from your child's. "You have to know that what you're feeling is your own anxiety and sadness and not theirs," Raskin says. Even if your child is bawling and freaking out, you must realize two things: (1) He'll probably be fine five minutes after you leave (most kids are), and (2) the challenge of adapting to a new environment is one of those life experiences that will help him grow and develop. "If you block the separation, you end up fostering excessive dependency," Raskin says. "Remind yourself that your goal is to raise a happy, independent child." And when you break down in tears anyway in spite of all the logical reasons not to, go sit in your car and have a good cry. "It's okay to feel sad. You're grieving the loss of your baby on some level, even if that baby is 18," Raskin says. "But by the same token, you get a little piece of your life back!" Maybe you get to take an unhurried trip to the supermarket or read the newspaper — the whole newspaper — for the first time in years. "Your child's independence is a mixed blessing," Raskin says. "Find the gift that's in it for you."

Miller goes on to say:

"I'm not sure I know how to let them go. This time, there will be no school bus to bring them back to me. This time, I have to trust they will be able to find their way back to me on their own... As I swallowed, I realized, I am not scared for their futures. I am scared for mine. All of these years I've held the comfort of the familiar around me like a warm cloak to keep fear at bay and now I find myself standing at another precipice, that warm cloak slipping off my shoulders."

I have to hand it to my mum and dad. I understand how it must be extremely hard to 'let go' (dad if you're reading this, "insert joke here") and I wonder how I'll handle it when the time comes. My mother will always be my mother, my father always my father, and they will always have a level of care for me deeper than any other relationship, however, gradually as I grew up, they let go of certain aspects of the parental role, until the day came that the 'parent' relationship became more of a friendship.

They have kept me safe, provided wisdom and guidance, and watched me make 'mistakes' and deal with the consequences, never telling me what to do. The same goes for all of my choices - they might think they're a terrible idea! However they wouldn't dream of trying to talk me out of them, rather say: "That's our daughter, the crazy one!".

One area of my life in which I appreciate this the most, is my relationship with my husband. They never interfere, and most importantly, they completely understand that my husband and I come before our respective families. This, I feel, is the ultimate acceptance of 'letting go'.

I think this is where hobbies play a part in a happy, fulfilled life. I'm sure my mum would agree with me when I say that her countless hobbies where she can indulge in her creative side has kept her too busy to be sad or worried. Gardening, crochet, dog walks and beach combing are just a few of my family's shared interests.

On the other side of the coin, I do feel that my parents have "done their bit" and now it's my turn. I would never expect free babysitting or other services. Yet they and I know if there is any help required, we are here for each other.

So, I shall remind myself, everyday from now, that my goal is to raise a happy and independent child, encouraging them to be themselves and with confidence. As proud as I am to be this little lad's mum, if I can maintain Lorraine's hobbies and interests as well as being 'mum', then I think having other focuses could work out to be the key to a healthy balance. Easier said than done? Yes probably, but it's a happy goal to work towards. Plus if any worries I might have are fueled into gardening, playing music and crocheting, I'll be surrounded by gorgeous handmade blankets and cushions in a beautiful, well-maintained garden, where I can just be 'me'. Funny, that, as we have an on-going joke in my family, where I am not referred to by name, but by my relationship with others; "I know you, you're AJ's wife"... "Ah! You must be JK's daughter!"...

I've yet to hear "You're 'little lad's mother aren't you?" though...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Busy Mum's Pancakes

I love making these at the weekend. Easy and delicious 'American-style pancakes'... or if you're American... 'Pancakes' hehe.

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
300ml milk
1 egg

 Whisk it all up! Don't be precious about lumps.

Heat a pan, medium heat, drizzle in a little oil, then wipe it around with kitchen roll.
Once pan is hot, spoon in some mixture. I have a large metal spoon that I use - you don't want to put in too much batter as it will spread out. A large spoonful gave me pancakes approx 12cms in diameter.

You'll notice some bubbles forming.

When the batter has a matt surface to it, flip the pancake over and cook for a few minutes. Check the underside until it's golden brown. Before cooking the next pancake, wipe that kitchen roll of oil around the pan. Do this each time.

Put the oven on low and keep them warm in there, placing a sheet of kitchen roll between every couple of pancakes.

Check out Mickey!

Now for the drizzles!

For the icing one, I just sifted some icing sugar in a bowl and put a spoonful of water in and mixed.
For the peanut butter drizzle, I put half butter and half peanut butter in a cup and microwaved for 15 seconds, them stirred until the lumps melted. If you have a sweet tooth like me, add a little icing sugar. Naughty but nice.
Top with sprinkles! I used chocolate sprinkles on the peanut butter drizzle, and 100s 'n' 1000s on the icing drizzle.

Let the kids decorate their own!
Now enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

My 'Accidental' Discovery Of Co-Sleeping

The day after he was born, the little lad and I came home from the hospital. I felt a combination of nervousness, relief and excitement. At the hospital, the nurses on the night shift were there to tend to the babies and allow the mothers some well-needed rest (my chosen everything-in-moderation approach to mothering meant I didn't mind the little lad being given a little formula at the start).

The hospital's 4-hour routine meant I was only up once during the first night. The following morning, baby and I got the hang of breastfeeding so from there it was feeding on demand (no more formula, yay!). Like clockwork, I would notice his early signs of hunger at 2 and a half hour intervals. I knew this was where I might find myself becoming increasingly tired as the days went by, and I did, but I was never even close to exhaustion. He was sleeping a lot, in the Moses basket which at nighttime was beside our bed.

One night, after a couple of weeks, I was sat up in bed, baby having his late evening feed. I knew that you could breastfeed lying down and that it was something I wanted to try. With nothing to lose, we gave it a go. He nursed himself to sleep, so with him nestled in the crook of my arm, I closed my eyes. A little while later I was opening my eyes, the first thing in my sights being my baby; safe, secure and close to me. We had both been asleep for a couple of hours. After a few minutes I heard the little lad's grunts of 'I'm stirring now, it's time to feed me'. When he opened his eyes, I was the first thing for him to see, although I felt he knew he was in the safety of my arms when he was stirring.

It felt like the most natural thing in the world, far more reassuring to both of us than a separate sleeping arrangement. Plus it was the best night's sleep I'd had since leaving the hospital and my instinct told me baby was more at ease too. I woke up with a surge of a eureka moment: "This is it! This is what's right for me and my baby!".

Before I gave birth, I was against the idea of a baby in an adult bed, fearing the dangers that are often written about and verbalized. For this reason, I was loath to admit my new-found sleeping habit to others. But I'm lucky enough to have wonderful sisters whom I can confide in, thus I discovered that I'm not the only one who favors what I later learned is referred to as 'co-sleeping'.

Soon I might be hearing the words 'rod for your own back' and I accept that. I accept that others like to give their advice, even when it is not asked for. I accept that everyone believes they know best. I also keep an open mind. 

For now, I choose a wonderful nights sleep for both me and my baby, over hours of pacing and calming him from the side of a cot. The parents who have their babies sleep in a cot will not have the trying 'transition' of removing their child from the adult bed that I am likely to face. But this is the decision I have made and I'm also not one for worrying about what may or may not happen in the future...

... I have made my bed, and WE will lie in it.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Life is Pretty Peachy

I live in a village that has seen many changes over the recent years. Modern buildings are popping up alongside very traditional, quaint stone-built homes. There are many ruins, their stone walls crumbling away and their wooden shutters held together with rusty nails. On the morning dog walk yesterday, I thought I would take some photos. There was one particularly wonky door, ajar, revealing climbing weeds - a tempting invite to a secret garden. As I went to take a closer look, however, I realized it was still a home to someone.

It got me thinking about how times change and the stories my mum tells me about her growing up, my grandma not having a lot of money. But they're not stories of sadness, they're stories of one lady raising her children in the best way she can, not with material things but with love and care.

Then, coincidentally, I read this write up on The Crochet Crowd's website::

"I dedicate this new afghan to my mom. I'm not ashamed to admit that my early years of my childhood, we needed thrift stores and a helping hand. To save money, my mom would cut up our old clothing and make them into quilts. None of the quilts had any rhyme or reason to the colour. They were warm and that's what mattered. We went to bed with extra hot water bottles in the hope they would retain the heat over night as our home was heated with a central fire stove. I firmly believe that growing up in this manner makes me a better person for understanding and being empathetic to others.

When I see afghans where the material is unusual or appears to be old clothing... when the colour doesn't make sense. It lifts my spirit because I know that this was love as a child. Growing up in the way I did makes me extremely grateful for the luxuries and opportunities that have come my way."

It makes me appreciate all that I have (including the iPad used to take pictures and write this blog), but also how trivial our 'problems' are too.

Life is pretty peachy.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Being alone doesn't mean I'm lonely

When I go to a nice little pub, with a book or newspaper under my arm, people often feel the need to come over to join me or invite me to their table. I'm sure they have the best of intentions at heart, but isn't my chosen reading material a clue that I'd like to be left alone? Apparently not.

My dad and I often meet for a pint and a crossword or some kind of mathematical brain teaser. We also have a lovely chat, where we muse at other people's need to be with a group of people, a need we don't possess. I think it's lovely that there are so many people that regularly try to inject some social 'fun' into our lives, but it often feels like we're the only ones who just like some quiet time alone.

Then I read this article...
... and it all made sense.

Here are some points it makes:

> You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
Yes! Don't get me wrong, it's not that I dislike people, not at all. It's just that it feels like a bit of a waste of both of our time.

> You go to parties -– but not to meet people.
I guess you could say "Why go to a place as social as a party (or in my case, a pub) if you want to be left alone?" and I suppose my answer to that would be "It's not that I need to be completely alone, I just sometimes find idle chit chat a bit draining and I'd rather spend time with 1 or 2 quality friends than a large group of acquaintances."

And here's a point that I truly believed only I 'suffer' from.. in fact I never admitted it to others until I read it here (realizing others do it somehow made it acceptable):

> You screen all your calls -- even from friends.
I can relate to Dembling, who says: "To me, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go 'BOO!'... I do like having a long, nice phone call with a friend -- as long as it's not jumping out of the sky at me." Now this may sound a little pathetic, but, like the article says, it is like I need to mentally prepare myself and gather the energy for the conversation.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I put myself in the extrovert's shoes;

I see a lonely person who is obviously craving a group of people to sit with. I go over to invite them to our big table. They say 'No thank you.'. They would rather be lonely than sit with me?

I wonder if they feel a sense of rejection every time an introvert turns down their invitation? So, on behalf on all of us oddball introverts, I apologize for snubbing your offer, dear extrovert, but please don't take any offense... It's not you, it's me.

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

So Many Projects

I nearly titled this post 'Too Many Projects', but then I don't think there is such a thing as too many... hehe. I have a terrible habit of starting another project before finishing others that I have on the go. I get inspired! I think about what kind of yarn I'd like to use. Then I pick the colours out. I print the pattern, and before I know it I'm getting the crochet hook out! I tell myself  "I'll test it out first, just to see..." And it has already added to the many other unfinished projects.

It's not that I get bored of current ones, not at all. I just get too excited about a new one. However, weaving in ALL those ends does feel like a bit of chore... until today! A blanket (pictured above with Maddie my dog) I started, err, let's just say a 'while' ago, began twisting (the granny square twist!). I wasn't sure how I wanted to remedy it as I still had the idea of turning into a bag like the beautiful one below, crocheted by lizacorrea and designed by Gosyo (for the free pattern PDF click the link under the image).

So, in the meantime I started weaving in the loose ends. I decided to straighten the twisting by surrounding it with smaller individual squares which is working beautifully. Anyway, it's been a gorgeous sunny day, so my dog, the little lad and I have sat in the warmth on my balcony as I weave in some more ends - and I'm enjoying it! This, I believe, is the key. A bit of crochet, then sort out those loose ends as you go. Today it felt so therapeutic - no counting stitches, it was more of a form of meditation. Also, when you leave the ends til last, isn't the finale of "Look! It's finished!" a bit of an anti climax, when it's kind of been finished for a couple of hours already?

Learn to be easy on yourself, don't beat yourself up about not finishing projects quickly - when you're crocheting for your own pleasure anyway - it spoils the fun! I still have a few more rounds I'd like to do on this one, so I better get hookin'. A time will come when you will be in the mood for going back to 'that unfinished blanket' like it did for me today.

So people, let's hear it! Do you have super-human will power and only have one project on the go at any one time? Or do you indulge, like me? Are you a fan of weaving in those loose ends as you go? Or do you wait until all stitches are stitched? Please comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Busy Mum's Breakfast

Every morning, the little lad and I snuggle in bed while he has his liquid breakfast. When he's finished and we've had a few minutes of highly intellectual conversation, I don my fuzzy robe and with babe in one arm I prepare my breakfast.

I first had this idea about 2 weeks ago, when the little lad was 5 weeks old. I'm so glad I discovered this 'lazy cooking' when he was so young. I've done it many times since and it will come in extremely handy on those days in future where he is spending less time asleep, and more time awake and in need of entertainment. I'm pretty sure breakfast preparation is not an exciting spectacle, so the less time spent on it, the better.

This breakfast is relatively healthy but at the same time, indulgent. It's like having a fry-up, but the whole idea is not having to watch over a frying pan, plus we're not cooking in oil - better for the body! Anyway, first get the kettle on (a cup of English tea is a priority). Next, find a small to medium oven dish. Now for the ingredients. You can choose many different items, but I'll just go with what I had this morning.

1/2 tin of tinned tomatoes.
1/2 tin baked beans
1/2 tin sweet corn
2 frankfurters
1 egg
A chunk of cheddar cheese.

Put the toms and beans in the dish. Put it in the oven. Turn the oven on to fan assisted, at 180 degrees Celsius, and set alarm for 10mins. Now the kettle's boiled, make that well-deserved cuppa. You have 10mins to relax with the babe/clear up randomly placed baby-wipes and slurp tea.

Beep beep! Now, chuck the frankfurters (I slice mine up) in the dish, add the sweet corn, stir and crack the egg in. Set alarm for 10mins again. Another spare few minutes! During this time, baby is taking in the scenery, on his way to slumberland, so I spend the time strolling around my apartment, chatting to him.

Beep beep! Plop in some cubed up cheddar, set alarm for 5 mins, wait for 'beep beep'!

My receptacle of choice is a cereal bowl, and a one-handed-friendly spoon delivers the cheesy beany goodness to my belly!

Check out the stringy cheese hanging over the bowl! Yum!

Other potential ingredients
I've used frozen broccoli before (yes fresh is best but we're busy mums and a freezer of good veg is a must, for me anyway.) and that goes in at the start. It tastes great with the toms 'n' cheese!
Mushrooms, fresh or tinned, put in at the start.
Onions, put them in at the start.
Anything else you find that you fancy!
Keep it simple, don't try too hard, you want to save your time for fun kiddy stuff or quiet 'me' time.
Enjoy, x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rockin' and a Rollin'!

I became a mother 7 weeks ago.

That's not so long ago, but apparently long enough for my little guy to out-grow most of his clothes. Now I like to think I'm good at maths, but I've started to doubt myself... 7 weeks is less than 3 months, right? Well this 7 week baby-shaped peg is not fitting into these 3 month clothes-shaped holes. A short time for something to grow so quickly and it reflects my increasing fondness for this little guy.

Bye bye tiny baby clothes.. 'til next time

I've never been a 'baby person' and I'm also not one for 'mine's better than yours' playground antics, so I find it sad when I hear other mum's stating they have the cutest baby, especially when they're so blatantly wrong as my little lad is obviously the winner of the cute wars ;-) All jokes aside,  it's incredible how Mother Nature takes over, turning beer-guzzling rock chicks who avoid babies and children, into tea drinking, house-keeping baby-carers who love their new role (Roll? Did someone say roll?! The little lad rolled over for the first time today and I'm very proud, but what makes me happier is that it was witnessed by Daddy, via video call!).

I always knew I wanted a family of my own one day and although I imagined becoming 'motherly', I did want to raise a son who shared my love of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Before I became a parent, my sister was talking about being moved to tears of happiness at 'baby sensory', when her son was clapping to the song "Reach" by S Club. I made a promise to myself that if I ever cry to a song like that, it would be because of my pain of enduring such a naff tune.

I broke that promise.

The little guy was crying. A tired boy. 'Singing?' I thought. Singing could work... so I started with a gentle Smashing Pumpkins track, but then I forgot the words, so tried a few others to no avail, so I moved on to a less cool tune, but at least the lyrics had a nice message; Richard Marx's 'Right Here Waiting'. But then something happened. I started to think about things. Over-think things. "Oceans apart, day after day.." (My husband works away) then the tears started to flow. Crying baby, crying me, and I didn't even get to the nice bit of the song!

When I finally composed myself, the next song to randomly pop in my head (not a proud moment..) was the campfire classic, "Ging Gang Goolie". Worst part of it all? As I rocked the little lad, he smiled softly and drifted to his slumber.