28 Feb 2015

My February 2015

These updates are fast becoming my favourite kind of posts. I love looking back at my months and reminding myself of all the small but precious moments and appreciating the little things. Corny, I know, but nevermind.

So here's the last month in pictures: 

1. A lovely trip to the beach for John's birthday. I love to be beside the seaside indeed. 

2. Cuddling up with Alex. This picture was taken after he had been really unsettled and struggled to nap as he was coming down with a bad cold. I snuggled up in bed with him and he quickly calmed  down and fell asleep - and me, too, beside him. 

3. Continuing my "fit-quest" and being really disciplined and active. I feel a bit better for it, but still have a long journey ahead.  

4. Admiring Alex'a grip as he pulls and grabs everything around him - including Daddy's hair. 

5. The best Valentine's Day present ever. Becky had made this card and heart shaped foot prints at pre school, and they melted our heart. John and I don't really do Valentines because we think it's a load of rubbish, but this was lovely. 

6. Out and about in the country side with the kiddos, enjoying some fresh air and our beautiful surroundings. 

7. Alex turned seven months and almost to the day exactly finally learned to roll over. He's been off ever since and rolling across the room. Have to start watching him like a hawk. 

8. Alex testing out his new Jumperoo and loving it. I can't get enough watching him bounce around and giggle. So cute. 

9. A nice lunch date with the hubby on my last day of maternity leave. Could sob into my pillow at the thought that one of the best times of my life is over. But c'est la vie, and all that. 
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26 Feb 2015

The Big Bad Wolf


Remember Little Red Riding Hood? I always thought that she was rather *ahem* a little bit silly and naïve to have fallen for the Wolf’s porky pies and that her and Gradma should have been a little more street-wise and they wouldn’t have been eaten in the first place.

But here’s the thing:  Little Red Riding Hood reminds me of Becky, and quite a few of her friends, actually. Kind, curious, open-minded, chatty and friendly, Becky, like most of her peers, has that innocence and naivety that defines children and makes them the wonderful and unique little things that they are.  

But with this innocence and purity comes danger, too. For we live in a world, where, unfortunately, we have to take some of that naivety away, and educate our children about the bad things out there, about the dangers they could be facing. The real life Big, Bad Wolf, if you will.  

Over the last year or so, as Becky has grown into a confident and outgoing little person, I have often wondered how we can teach her to be wary of strangers and the dangers out there without destroying this precious and indeed so delightful innocence and uncorrupted curiosity in life and the world.

How can I protect my gorgeous little girl from nasty people who mean her harm?

It’s a real challenge. I love the fact that Becky is how she is; that she is confident in approaching people. That she is chatty and friendly and kind and open-minded and curious and all those things. And I hate that we live in times when we can’t just celebrate these characteristics in a child and nurture them. But unfortunately we can’t.

For as much as I love that she is a confident little person who isn’t scared of people, one day it could be the wrong person she encounters, the one with the bad intentions, and then what?

We therefore speak to Becky regularly about “stranger danger” and try to instil a degree of caution and suspicion into her, while trying not to spoil that endearing trust she has in the world. We have read books that explain that there are nasty people out there and regularly point out examples of situations that she needs to be careful in. And she knows not to speak to people that she doesn’t know and only when Mummy and Daddy are there. She knows all that.

But out there, in the real world? I will always worry about the Big Bad Wolf.  And this worry will stay with me forever.
 
*Picture credit: Dreamstime


 
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20 Feb 2015

Project Me - Update #1

 
Back in early January I noted down my goals for this year and my ambition to get back into shape (you can read the post here). So, six weeks or so in, I thought I’d give a little update on how I’ve been getting on.
 
And so far, so good. I’m usually the type of person who, once I’ve set a goal or put my mind to something, perseveres, and overall I have indeed been very disciplined. Especially when it comes to exercise, I have been working out every single week day for ca. 45 minutes to an hour, switching from Mummy fit classes to being on my stepper to doing various fitness DVDs , such as Tai Bo (a type of boxercise) and high intensity cardio workouts.
 
I have also been trying to include a long walk each day, and apart from days when it was really really miserable outside, Alex and I have been out and about for at least an hour every day.
 
I’ve also been watching my diet more closely and have been paying attention to my portion sizes while focusing on a mix of superfoods, lots of protein and just a little bit of carbs, with only the occasional square of dark chocolate for when I need a sugar fix.
 
And I fee l so much better for it. While I haven’t necessarily lost weight, at least I don’t think I have, as I have no scales in the house,  I am beginning to feel a bit more toned and fitter overall, and it’s nice not to be huffing and puffing while walking up the stairs or pushing Alex up a hill in his stroller.
 
Let’s put it this way – on a scale of how bad I feel about myself, I have probably nudged up a couple of points (though there’s still lots and lots and lots of room for improvement, ha!).
 
Sadly, I’m going back to work in just over a week, so I won’t be able to include those long walks anymore, as simply there aren’t enough hours in the day, but I am determined to keep to my exercise routine and fit it in somehow. My intention is to also start running once Alex is at nursery and join a boot camp class that is being held in our village – so my “fit-quest” continues - small baby steps at a time, but steps forward nonetheless.

 

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11 Feb 2015

Alex - 6 Months

I know it’s a cliché, but I honestly can’t believe that Alex is six months already, almost seven, actually. As I’m writing this, he’s napping next to me on the settee, and I can’t stop looking at him and taking in all his gorgeous features, his little angelic face, chubby cheeks and cute subtle snore, with his mouth making small sucking movements as if he’s nursing in a milky dreamland.

He’s a right chunk by now, and long, too. I haven’t had him weighed in a while, so I’m not sure about how much he actually brings to the scales, but I think it’s easily along the 10kg mark and he has definitely caught up with his little mates, who initially were so much bigger than him (*note to self: must sort out weighing appointment asap*). I love all his folds in his chubby thighs and his round Buddha belly, and he just feels so solid and strong like a right little bruiser - typical boy and a complete contrast to Becky, who always was and still is just so petite and lean.

He loves attention and especially when I blow raspberries on his tummy or thighs, his giggles turn into the biggest of belly laughs, which just make me melt. He’s ticklish, too, and a little prod under his feet and his arms sets him off into fits of proper chuckles.

He’s a happy little dude and very rarely cries, though that’s not to say he doesn’t make himself heard. He’s developed this very noisy but extremely funny mix of  rrrrrraaaaaarrrrring and melodic gurgling which sounds like a crazy singalong, and when you listen carefully you can detect the first vowels. John and I have got a little secret competition going on whether he will say “Ma-ma” or “Da-da” first (Becky said “Da-da” and John is still smug about it, so I’m singing “Ma-ma” to him all the time so he gets the message. *Innocent face*. )

He’s nearly rolling over (he’s done it once or twice already, but his chunky bum and thighs are still holding him back a bit) and nearly sitting now, so I think it won’t be long before he’s mastered that skill, starts crawling and is off. His hand-eye coordination is brilliant, too, and he grabs anything in his sight and puts it in his mouth, so I’m having to be extremely vigilant about what is in his reach and make sure that he doesn’t choke on something, especially all the little toy parts that Becky leaves lying around everywhere.

Alex’s favourite toys at the moment are *drum roll* his feet, and he’s happiest when he can grab them and stuff his toes in his mouth. And he’s nosy, too, and doesn’t miss a thing, always looking around and taking in the world around him. You can tell he will be a clever little cookie like his big sister, who amazes us every day.

Unfortunately, he’s been teething badly for months now, and it seems to be really bothering him more and more. You can see how much pain he is in, with bright red and hot cheeks and lots of drooling. We’re trying some teething gels and powders, as well as the occasional dose of Calpol, but it doesn’t seem to help that much. I hope that his first teeth will make an appearance soon, as that’s the only thing that makes him miserable from time to time.

We’ve made a little bit more progress on the weaning front, too. He has gotten used to the sensation of a spoon in his mouth and has taken to some purees, though he definitely prefers sweet fruit purees to anything with vegetables or mashed up dinners. He’s also successfully devoured toast as his finger food, so we’re continuing on the route of combining traditional with baby-led weaning.

I’m soaking up every minute, and just want to hold on to this precious time while he is still a baby, because time really flies and sometimes I just want to scream “Slow down!”.
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9 Feb 2015

Beach Bums

This weekend we visited John’s parents, who live in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons in Wales, and decided to make a little extra trip down to the coastal town of Porthcawl, around 45 minutes drive away.

We had originally planned to go a little bit further West and explore St. David’s, Fishguard and Haverfordwest and stay overnight there as it was John's birthday on Saturday, however, we decided against it in the end, as the logistics of lobbing around all the baby paraphernalia put us off a bit, as well as the cold weather, and it was easier just to do a little day trip instead. But we vowed to do this particular trip another time, maybe in spring or early summer.

So we headed down to Porthcawl, and even though it’s not the most spectacular place, we had a lovely couple of hours walking along the beach front, playing in the sand, and soaking up some fresh and cold sea air and some much needed sunshine.

Below are a couple of shots from our day.
 
I love the beach, even cold and frosty ones in Wales. There's something very calming about a huge expanse of water.
Wrapped up warm against the wind chill.
Obligatory family selfie minus the smally who was tucked up in his stroller.
Trying their luck. As if!
Somebody's enjoying her day trip.
No words, just love her.
Building sand castles.
"The cold never bothered me anyway!"
Cosy cuddles.
Cheesy as, but I don't care.
 


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5 Feb 2015

Returning to work


I’ve got just under four weeks of maternity leave left before I have to return to work after eight months off. And knowing that these few weeks are going to fly by, and seeing the clock tick relentlessly, counting down the hours and minutes of my precious time with my baby son, is making my heart very heavy indeed.

As editor of a magazine, I work full time – it’s both a financial consideration, as well as a practical one. My job is quite demanding and time consuming, and I just wouldn’t be able to do it in less than five days. I frequently do a lot of overtime and at times the job can be all consuming, aside from the fact that I have lots of plans and ambitions for the development of the magazine, so reducing my hours would be false economy, and more stressful than it’s worth.

I have always been ok with being a working Mum, and working full time - and I still am. I’ve never felt guilty, as I know that I am supporting my family financially, and that without it we wouldn’t be able to afford the things we do. I also feel that I am setting a good example for my kids in teaching them that you have to work hard for your goals and hopefully instil a strong work ethic. But more than anything, I don’t feel guilty that I work, because I love my job, it defines me as much as motherhood does, and I am a much happier person because I have balance and both aspects in my life. That’s not to say that I don’t respect SAHMs – in fact, hat off to you, as it’s the hardest job in the world, and I know I am just not cut out for it. I wouldn’t enjoy it, and then my kids wouldn’t enjoy it and our time together, and that would be rubbish for all of us.

So whilst I’m totally at peace with the concept of returning to work, I just can’t believe that it’s already come round so quickly. Emotionally, I’m just not ready. My baby is still so small, after all, and truth be told, I’ve had such a wonderful time during this maternity leave, that everything inside me wants to cling on to it for a little while longer.

From coming home with my little bundle and being more or less cocooned up in our house and village for the first six weeks (because I wasn’t allowed to drive due to having had a c-section), through getting to know each other, snuggling up - just me and him - to going off on little trips and making great mummy friends - I will miss this special one on one time with my little dude and I am so sad that I will never ever be able to spend this much time with him again.

This is so different to my first maternity leave with Becky. Back then, I found maternity leave isolating, boring and lonely, and because I felt so out of depth as a mother, I longed for the “safety net” of my office, the banter with my colleagues and the comfort of knowing that I was good at my job and that I knew what I was doing there (as opposed to in motherhood).

Of course it wasn’t all bad. Becky and I eventually got the hang of it and I stayed off with Becky for ten months altogether, because even though I didn’t love being at home with a baby, I was still acutely aware of how precious that time is and I felt I kind of owed it to Becky to give her that one on one time with her mummy. And I’m glad I did, no regrets there, as it facilitated the strong bond we now have.

But this time round, everything was just easier, and hence I was actually able to enjoy it more, soak it all up and experience it properly. Rather than being shell shocked by the drastic change in our life as first time parents and our rough start due to a traumatic birth, colic, feeding problems and a spell of post natal depression, second time motherhood has been so much easier and therefore enjoyable straight away. Our life was already geared up to kids, and Alex slotted in perfectly.

And whilst my love for both kids is equal, all-consuming and eternal, I am simply in a different place as a mother. More confident, more experienced and more relaxed, which has allowed me to make the most of the last few months. The fact that Alex is our last (planned) child has probably also played a part in this, and I’m experiencing everything just that little bit more consciously than maybe the first time round.

So handing Alex over to nursery, even though it’s a brilliant place where Becky has already been going for the last couple of years, will be really really hard. And I already dread the times when I have to travel for work and stay away for several days, as I frequently have to. My mind knows it’s part of my job, part of life, but my heart and gut are telling a very different story.  

But even though inside I want to cry, I will not let that spoil my last few weeks with Alex, my little side-kick, and I will enjoy the time that we have left. And then, when the day comes to drop him off at nursery and fire up my computer in my office again, I will try to take strength from the time we had together and be grateful that I was able to be off with him for the time I have  (*whilst quietly sobbing into my coffee, no doubt*). I know that all good things must come to an end, and that eventually I will be ok – we all will. But right now, I just don’t want to think about it anymore. I want to take my little munchkin and squeeze him tight and not let go.
 
This is a linkie with "Brilliant Blogposts" over on lovely Honest Mum's Blog. Check it out here
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2 Feb 2015

On the Gruffalo Trail

This weekend we took a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum, a woodland with more than 2500 different trees set across 17 miles of accessible paths. The forest is currently also hosting the Gruffalo Trail to celebrate the children’s book’s 15th anniversary, and as Becky is a big fan of the story,  we decided to check it out.

With the forecast snow a no show, we donned our wellies as it was very muddy and explored the old trees and botanical highlights. Becky had lots of fun following in Gruffalo’s footsteps and making his acquaintance (in the form of a large wooden sculpture).

Below are just a few pics from our day.
 
Exploring the stunning, huge trees.
Becky and Daddy - best buddies going on an adventure.
The first "sign" of the Gruffalo.
Getting close ...
Aha! Oho! Here he is!
The obligatory family selfie.
Me and John sans kids - very rare snapshot indeed.

 
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