Lidl Vs Aldi & Pea Crisps.

The fact I am even writing about this makes me chuckle.  That’s why I am writing about it though.  I was driving home from my first shop in our brand spanking new local Aldi and all I could think about was a Facebook status I could post to describe my experience. But it wouldn’t suffice, so a blog post it is.

In our house, we love Lidl.  I think over the years, it has really improved, and I’m astounded week after week when I get a trolley full of lovely grub for very little.  I can stick to a budget there, and I know what I’m getting.  Chris loves the wines, we get a bit excited when we get the magazine and see what next week’s ‘theme’ is, and we now don’t need to shop anywhere else.  Sad I know, but we are approaching middle age.

However, today I decided to give our new Aldi a shot – just to see.  It would be on our way home from our day out so it made sense.

Fast forward a few hours and I was driving home, feeling flat after my shopping experience, wishing I could return it all and go to Lidl.  Then it hit me – 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, I wouldn’t even be thinking about this!  What have I become that this weekly shop has me comparing notes and regretting my purchasing decisions!

I was weirdly excited about going to Aldi.  We’d had a great day out, and popping in on the way back was the last thing we were doing before heading home.  There has been a lot of talk locally about it, a grand opening, and friends who have shopped there, so I had high hopes.  I talked it up to Lylah, building up her excitement at the chance of seeing a brand new supermarket!  She was also weirdly excited, and even exclaimed to Malachy  as we arrived “Look Baba, we’re at Aldi!”, like it was some local substitute for Peppa Pig World.

I was especially excited about the ‘pea crisp’ snacks that a friend of mine had found in there.  Malachy seemed to like them, so happy days, a new snack, only available at Aldi, it will all be worth it just for that!

It didn’t start well.  I didn’t have a coin for the trolleys (before you wonder, my handy trolley coin is on my other set of keys), so I had to go into the shop, ask for one at the busy tills, go back through the exit and follow the checkout girl who had to leave her busy till to help me.

The trolley seemed small compared to my usual large Lidl one, but that aside, I wandered down the first aisle.

I never realised how much of a creature of habit I’ve become.  Every week, I do a very similar shop to the week before, bar the occasional exception, it normally comes to around the same price, and it’s all in a place I know around the store.  Walking down the first aidle made me feel slightly uneasy, like I was lost on a weird budget food planet I’d never visited before, and I didn’t know where to begin.  The 6 selected vegetables on at 29p each settled me though – yes, I thought, this will be worth it.  Chris phoned me at this point, and I told Lylah to tell him where we were like it was some big reveal.  She was all excited telling him, but while she was revealing our exciting location, I was having a minor meltdown at the price of mushrooms compared to Lidl.  I spoke with Chris on the phone and explained my dilemma…should I buy the same size pack as I always do at nearly 30p more?  I’ve saved so much on the 29p veg selection, I assured myself, I can let this one slide.  At which point, I saw a bigger, better value pack, and it felt okay again.  Phew.

I wandered round the store, but nothing seemed to flow.  Nothing was where it should be, and I nearly decided to leave, but with half a trolley of fruit and veg, I decided, that even if only for a week, this week we’d shop at Aldi.  Then I came across a free-from and health food section, and they had Quinoa!  Not just one type, but two types!  Aldi was slowly getting one up on Lidl – they only have Quinoa sporadically!

I carried on and got my usual bits, filled the trolley, but without with a few things that I can only get at Lidl, but honestly I didn’t enjoy it.  I felt like i was just going through the motions, but not really taking it all in!

Then I realised I hadn’t seen the pea snacks!  I can’t leave without the pea snacks!  That’s essentially why I have cheated on Lidl in the first place!  They weren’t in the crisps section, so I travelled back to the health food section.  There they were, so I grabbed both flavours and felt immediately happier.

I loaded up the till belt with my purchases, but noticed a few things I always buy were missing.  I was disorientated here, I’m missing out essential items like honey and butter.  This wouldn’t have happened at Lidl.  But Lidl don’t have pea snacks…

In the car, I mused over our new local Aldi.  I’m not concerned for the future of our fab Lidl store and it’s amazing Gin and Deluxe steaks.  My shop looks similar to usual, but without that Lidl sparkle!

Gone are the days I treat myself to weekly shopping in Sainsburys.  Those trips are only reserved for special occasions.  And Waitrose is only for free coffee and posh picnics.  So I’m left with comparing Aldi to Lidl.  I’m 33, a mum of two, and have hit a stage in my life where that’s okay to do.  That excites me, it makes me tick now, and that’s okay!

I wasn’t convinced by Aldi…not sure Lylah agrees though.  When I asked her tonight at bedtime what she enjoyed about today after seeing lots of friends and visiting an old palace, she said, wait for it…”going to Aldi”.

Next week, I will be back to my usual routine, perusing Lidl for anything new in the Deluxe range and hitting the aisles like a pro.  All they need now is pea crisps.

 

 

My West End Dreams

Growing up, my sister and I loved the theatre.  We watched musicals at home for hours on end, knew all the songs and dances, and we were very fortunate to have parents who took us on theatre and cinema trips from a young age.  I have these same ambitions for my own family, but I didn’t realise that along with anything else, a child has to learn to about these new experiences, and they can actually be big and daunting.

I’ve think I’ve been fairly ambitious with my two children and taking them to various cinema and theatre trips.  I remember taking Lylah when she was about 2 1/2 for the first time.  She was a real fidgeter, still is, and I did wonder whether she would still for nearly 2 hours in a really big dark room with a massive screen (the screen looks big to us, imagine it through the eyes of a 2 year old).

We’d not long had Malachy, but Chris and I wanted to take her as a treat for being a good girl at pre school and to celebrate the end of term.  The film was the Minions movie, and the bribe for sitting still for long amounts of time was plentiful snacks and cinema ice cream.  It worked for the most part, and I remember that trip being fairly successful, a good sign for cinema trips to come!

I still wasn’t convinced by theatre though.  There is something pretty scary about the theatre.  You go in, the lights are on, you’re chatting away and looking at the programme, and suddenly you’re in darkness and the orchestra starts to rumble!  Our first trip to the theatre was with a friend and her also 2 year old.  The girls (and mums) were excited to be seeing Chris & Pui live on stage!  Lylah has always been a little bit wary of things in general.  She likes to know situations and people well before she is fully relaxed, and to be honest is a trait that I hope sticks with her.  However, in a theatre situation, when your heavily pregnant mummy is pushing through the laps of other attendees, telling you there us absolutely nothing to worry about while you’re screaming and crying, this trait appears to be more of a nuisance.  Children at that age still don’t have the knowledge to know what to be afraid of and what is absolutely fine.  Can we blame them?  We teach them to be wary of strangers, and yet in a theatre situation, plonk them next to someone they don’t know in the dark.  After sitting like a statue, staring at the stage for the entire first half, I wasn’t sure whether she was enjoying it, but she assured me she was.  Her face said otherwise!

I left the next theatre trip to about a year later, and this time the show was Mister Maker!  This one was a resounding success!  Lylah was in love with Mister Maker at the time, and his arty party stage show was lively, colourful, and engaged the children.  Maybe she’s turned a corner I thought?

I next took her to see a local production of The Little Mermaid.  Being Lylah’s absolute favourite film, and as she has an obsession with all things mermaid, I was convinced this would be a success.  She brought her mermaid with her, sat like a big girl next to me and enjoyed the opening scenes.  When Ursula appeared however, it all changed.  She wasn’t just frightened, where a cuddle from mummy until Ursula exited stage right would do, she screamed and we had to leave the auditorium.  She got herself in such a state.  She wanted to go home.  While I absolutely don’t want her to be scared or upset, I also want to try and show her that it would be okay, as I knew she’d absolutely love the rest of the show, and she’d miss out on so many fun outings like this if it became a phobia.   She was won over by some gentle words, lots of cuddles and a tub of ice cream, and as we were stood near the door of the theatre, we could hear Ariel starting to sing her famous song.  That was enough to get Lylah back inside, and by the end of the show, Ursula was one of her favourite characters!

When Malachy was about 18 months, Chris and I took both of them to see Trolls.  I wouldn’t normally subject other cinema goers to a toddler in the aisles, but it was a weekday showing and it was practically empty.  There was two of us to manage them as well; I certainly wouldn’t have attempted it on my own!  All was going swimmingly until Malachy started shouting “poo poo” at the top of his voice.  I took him to the baby change and proceed to change his nappy, but nothing was inside.  He was squirming and screaming, obviously trying to shift something,  For the rest of the time, he was a very unhappy little sausage, and as it was nearly finished, we put up with it for a few minutes, then I took him out.  He screamed all the way home and it turned out he was extremely constipated – what timing!

I haven’t considered taking Malachy again, but might attempt the new Peppa Pig cinema hour – although whoever thought another hour of Peppa Pig was a good idea has obviously not watched 1200 of them in a row.

So, last night, I took Lylah to Peter Pan.  She’s older now, I thought, if she’s frightened I can reason with her.  I never mentioned Captain Hook.   She was so excited, we were meeting friends, and she knew one of her little friends was going to be in the show.

Since the Little Mermaid experience, Lylah has been in a ballet show herself, so I thought we were well past any worries.  In the car, she started listing the characters.  “Oh no’ I thought!  Then she says “Is Captain Hook going to be in the show?”  I replied calmly and reassuringly “Yes, he’s in the story isn’t he?  But he’s nothing to worry about, they are all pretend”  Not looking too convinced, Lylah was noticeably worried from that point on.  She was obviously trying to be brave bless her, and sat next to me and watched the first few scenes in silence.  I braced myself when Captain Hook appeared, promptly handed Lylah a sweet and took a sigh of relief when all we had was a bit of a squirm and an extra squeeze of my hand.  Lylah wouldn’t clap before that, but as soon as that moment was out of the way, she clapped and cheered through the rest of the show.  My dreams of our West End theatre trips together aren’t shattered!  She likes going to the theatre!  It takes a little perseverance and faith that as children grown, they learn to know their senses and can differentiate between reality and play.  Let’s just hope Malachy follows suit!

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This race is for us…

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In October last year, I could barely run 10 mins on the treadmill.  I was unfit, lazy, and wanted to be better.  Going to the gym regularly and keeping it up made me excited to be getting fitter, and changed my attitude towards exercise.  It makes me feel good, healthier, happier and I’m proud of myself and my mini achievements so far.

Entering 2017, I said I wanted to set myself some challenges this year, so I decided to run a race.  I googled what there was around the 5/10k mark in the area around summer time, and I was pleased to see Sherborne is holding a 10k around the beautiful castle.  That’s it, I thought, that’s the race I’ll do.  I roped in my sister to join me, and we pencilled it in, at the back of our minds!

More recently, we have gathered up a dream team of girls, all of different running and fitness abilities, to join us in our race.  Our common goal?  To run this race to raise some money for Cancer Research UK.

Cancer has been very close to home for my family recently.  A couple of years back, my beautiful mother-in-law was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  For 6 months of last year, she underwent rigorous treatment for both the cancer via Chemotherapy, and also went through treatment for her autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Disease.  She has come out the other side of it, fit and well for the most part, but has suffered with infections and hospital stays as a result of her weak immune system.  We don’t know when she might next have to face treatment, hopefully not for a long time, but it is so wonderful to know that because of that treatment last year, which somebody researched and spent time developing, she is with us alive and well today.  Maura, this run is for you.

Also, the past 12 months has seen my elderly Nonno suffer with prostate cancer, which has spread to his bones.  He has been in a hospice, and is now in a nursing home, fighting on and even seeing in his 90th birthday recently.  My Nonna, his wife of 65 years, suffers from dementia, and their whole lives have been turned upside down.  Nonno & Nonna, this run is for you.

10 years ago, my husband’s Aunt Paula died after a short battle with cancer.  She was taken too suddenly at such a young age, because of this disease.  Paula and all the Boyd family, this run is for you.

Also, his Aunt Anne has suffered with breast cancer in recent years, and with treatment, has come through it.  Anne, this race is for you.

One of my best friends has a dear friend Lucy, who at the young age of 33 has discovered she has cancer for the 4th time in her life.  We all admire how strong she has been in her life, adventurous in travelling the world and making the most of every opportunity presented to her.  She is doing her own amazing things for cancer research, and will be cheering us on at this 10k.  Lucy, this race is for you.

My mum has all too often seen cancer in her family.  She has lost aunties and her cousin, all too young and I am sad that I haven’t had a chance to get to know these amazing people.  Mum, this race is for you and our wonderful relatives gone too soon.

I have got to know a lovely lady, Franny, who I first met when she photographed Lylah when she was a baby.  We have family and friends in common, our girls do dance classes together and she has taken some amazing family photos with her talent and her camera that I will treasure forever.  She is battling cancer as a woman and a mother and everyday I admire her strength and positivity.  Franny, this race is for you.

This race is for everyone touched by cancer.  The ones who know people and see it from afar, the ones who are living it every day, the ones who have come close with scares themselves, and the ones who will get it in the future.  This race is for all of us.

Back to my running.  I had to set myself a goal for this race, and initially it was to complete it!  In my training I have achieved a 10k, so I know I can do it.  So I’m stepping it up a notch.  I ran 10k in 1 hour 6 mins on my first attempt.  I will be aiming to do it in under an hour on 18th June.  Apparently this is completely possible (!), so there it is.  I will run a 10k in under an hour.

Please support me in this race, and the wonderful work of Cancer Research UK, by donating (please see link below).  I will try my hardest and work hard to reach my time.  But if I don’t, please donate anyway,  this race is for US.

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/annmaries-fundraising-page-16

Thank you x

running meme

 

Mummy Fitness

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This post is for every mum who wants to get fitter, lose weight, feel better about themselves, and have some time to themselves.

This morning, I got up with the kids at 7:30am, and by 8:15am I was in the gym, on the treadmill. I did 5km, my weights routine, 10 press-ups and stretched.   I introduce you to a newer version of me, one that likes to go to the gym now.

Before I start, I imagine a good number of you will have already groaned, or had some kind of thought about this being a chance for me to show off about my new hobby.  It is absolutely not.  Believe me, I’m not one of those.  I used to be you, in fact I still am you.  I used to groan if I saw someone post about the gym, scroll past and carry on devouring my chocolate bar.  In reality, I was jealous.  Jealous that someone could find the time, the energy, the money and the willpower to get themselves fitter and healthier.  This post is just a little insight to the start of my journey (uugghh I sound so clichéd), but if it helps to inspire any other mums, or anyone at all, to start on their own fitness journey, then happy days.

I’ll begin by saying I’m nowhere near where I want to be fitness or weight wise, and judging by some of the conversations I hear from very slim, fit looking people, we never will be.  However, I’m on the road to it,  I’m doing it every week, and I’m finally seeing some progress, which makes it all worthwhile.

Having children did things to my body that I’ve had to face and come to terms with over the last 4 years.  Stretchmarks, aching pelvis, fat in places that I never had fat before, more grey hair, mood swings, mummy rage, irritability, tiredness…just a few in a long list of ailments you suddenly encounter.  After Malachy I lost feeling in half of my right leg and toes for a few months post birth, and I could barely walk to begin with, but as with anything, time heals.

That’s point number 1: Allow yourself time.  Having a baby is traumatic for your body so you need to let it rest and recover.  I’ve heard that it takes the length of the pregnancy, post birth, for your body to get back to what is was before, so allow your body that time.  So hitting the gym at 6 weeks post natal isn’t always the best way to get rid of that baby belly.  Take small sensible steps, and eat well.  After Lylah, I didn’t worry about weight.  A lot came off straight away, and I walked everywhere during the summer of my maternity leave, which I think made the world of difference.  After Malachy however, I was more obsessed with it.  I wanted to lose weight quickly, so after the 6 week mark, I started slimming world (I was breast feeding so had to do this carefully so as not to affect my milk supply), and lost 2 stone pretty quickly.  I had stints at the gym between the children, but have never really stuck at it.  I went to the gym and saw a trainer at the same time as starting slimming world, and after 10 minutes on the treadmill, I could barely walk my pelvis was hurting so much.  Not advised!  Take it really easy, and re-introduce exercise into your diet gradually, doing stuff that works with the children.  Go for walks, run round the park, get lots of fresh air and dance around the kitchen.  Eat well and drink lots of water and the weight should fall off.  It won’t happen overnight, but you can exercise more later.  Enjoy the baby cuddles and rest your aching body.

In October last year, I realised that I really needed to get fitter and lose weight.  The weight had crept back on (yep, that 2 stone I lost at slimming world) and I was feeling really rubbish about myself.  My mood swings and temper were starting to get worse as well, and I blame a lot of that on tiredness and a bad diet.

I started back to the gym with a good friend and fellow mummy.  Her baby was only about 4 months old at the time, so she had to take it really easy.  When discussing how often we should go the the gym, we decided to commit to just 1 night a week, at a set time.

This leads me to point number 2: don’t over commit.  You’re a mum, you may or may not be working as well, you’re doing school runs, ballet classes, bath times, bed times, plus you’d quite like to actually see your family occasionally – when are you going to fit in gym sessions?  The chances are that if you start by committing to 4 sessions a week, you’ll fail.  But luckily, exercise is addictive, and it can become a habit fairly quickly.  It was manageable for us to do 1 session week in October.  Last week I did 4 sessions and a ballet class, and I would’ve done more if time allowed.  The key to fitting it all in is organisation. There is time in your day (probably when you’re sat watching TV when the kids are in bed), and if you organise work, childcare etc around your gym slots, and manage to do 1 or 2 a week, then you’re winning.  And believe me, when you want to do more, you’ll make time. Mu husband was off work today, and normally I’d enjoy the lie in and late breakfast, but instead I was on the way to the gym at 8am.

3: Find a workout buddy – things are so much more fun with friends, and this is especially true with exercise.  Our gym sessions are not only a good chance to exercise without the interruption of dirty nappies or a 4-year old wanting her princess dress put on again, but a lovely time for us to catch up, have a chat and clear our minds from the everyday clutter.  Saying that, we quite often talk about the children, but the point is, its our time to talk about whatever we wish.

The other thing I’ve found with keeping up the exercise is to find a little variety.  We always try to do a different exercise, or take advice from others at the gym, to keep our workouts varied.  I’ve also just done 2 sessions of adult ballet, which is amazing.  I came away and my calf muscles were shaking, and it was a completely different workout to my gym sessions.  So, point number 4:  find something that works for you, exercise that you enjoy, and mix it up.  Then you won’t get bored, and your body will feel the benefits of everything you’re trying.

I’ve liked talking to new people about exercise, mainly in the gym, and have taken tips and advice from a few different people about things I’m doing right/wrong.  The main thing I’ve taken away from this is to not worry about feeling stupid or doing something wrong – the important thing is you’re moving your body, and you can work on technique and more advanced exercises as you progress.  These people (Sarah, Mel, random gym man 1 and crazy fit gym man 2) have also made me realise its important to set yourself goals and targets.  Point 4:  try and improve.  Every session, try and do something more than you did last time.  This relates back to my point about variety, you’re trying something new, pushing your body that bit more, and improving your fitness as a result.  My goals for this year are to run 5k or 10k race, and to learn a ballet routine.

5: Motivation and Inspiration.  It is easy to feel inspired by someone or something, less so to get motivated by that same thing.  I’ve found that I get inspiration from lots of different places, my super fit Facebook mummy and non-mummy friends, my gym obsessed buddies, the Khloe Kardashian ‘Strong’ book, my sister doing a boot camp for a month, my little girl working hard in two dance classes every week.  There is so much to be inspired from, but you’ve got to turn it into motivation.  If you are seriously ready to get fitter and healthier, then the only person that can do that is YOU.  You can take help from others, be inspired by others, even say you’re doing it for others (I am doing this not only for me, but for my family), but your key motivation has to be that little voice inside you’re head egging you on, as opposed to keeping you down.

6 months into this new lifestyle, the one thing I’ve learned which is the thing I believe stops most people in their tracks early on, is to manage your expectations.  Point number 6: it won’t happen overnight.  Work hard, stay motivated, allow time to heal and then grow, enjoy it, get inspired and listen to the voice shouting “YOU CAN DO IT” and you’ll get there.  I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.  We all have little slip ups, a week can pass with no gym trips, but don’t let that stop you going for ever,  just get back on the bike.  I feel stronger, I can do things I couldn’t before, my moods have improved drastically and those endorphins feel good.  The best thing is I haven’t had to diet to lose weight.  I eat far more sensibly now because I don’t want to undo the hard work I do at the gym, but I allow myself treats and certainly don’t feel guilty about them anymore.

At soft play last week, I held my 2 1/2 stone son in my arms whilst bounding up a rope bridge without holding on.  I could feel my core working and my legs aching, but I could do it, and I climbed that soft play energetically 3 times, so my kids could go down the slides over and over again.  I can dance round the kitchen with them for 1/2 hour solid, and feel good rather than feel exhausted.  And it’s only going to get better.

Get up off the sofa, get outside, to the gym, to a class or on your bike.  Do it for your future,  do it for your family, but most of all, do it for you.

Booby Milk – The Final Chapter

Well, I’ve got to hand it to my boobs, they’ve done a pretty good job since they were first introduced to the mammoth task of breast feeding an actual human being almost 4 years ago.

I’ll never forget that time.  It is etched into my memory now, the overwhelming feeling of love, the bond, the feeling that I was so needed by my first-born.  At the same time I felt exhausted, like a cow, every last drop of energy being sucked from me, and mentally drained from the constant worry of whether I was doing it right.  My nipples were always sore from the round-the-clock feeding, I was making up tunes to the humming of the breast pump, I do actually think, in fact I know, looking back, that I was going a little crazy.

And now, with my second and most likely last baby, 17 months into his little life, he has finally opted for the bottle over me.  There isn’t much there now, and bless him, he knows it, and the hitting, biting (!) and constant climbing up and down means it isn’t much fun anymore.

It is so surreal to have to finally let go of that attachment.  He is growing up, I understand that, and he doesn’t want that from me any more.  But it makes me feel so sad.

When you start on this journey of becoming a mother, everything is so mind-blowing.  There is so much to learn, and you are always questioning yourself.  Breast-feeding was no different to all of the other new experiences.  It was hard work, tiring, painful…excruciating sometimes, nothing can prepare you for the amount of energy that is consumed being awake during the night, worrying, settling, feeding, settling, winding, settling, feeding, winding…you get the picture.

Even when Lylah was about 4 months old, and I settled into the feeding routine, there were constant problems that popped up.  And don’t even get me started about trying to get them to take a bottle!  Yet now, as if it is nothing, Malachy takes hold of a bottle and sups, smiling, happy that there is milk the other side of the teat.

With this comes something else though,  a small sense that I’m getting some independence back.  A chance for me to separate my body from my children’s.  This has happened gradually with Malachy.  With Lylah, we cut some feeds when I went back to work when she was around 10 months, and she was happy with a bit of boob and a bit of bottle.  With Malachy I have been so fortunate to be working far less, and therefore the feeding has continued for much longer.  Recently it has cut down to just morning and night, and the fact he happily drinks from a bottle or cup means I have some freedom back.  I speak to new mums who are desperate for a break, a night out, a drink with some friends or their partners, just a taste of freedom for one night in the chaos of it all, and I get it, I was there, needing that break, wanting that glass of wine.

The independence does mean one thing though – more nights off, more sleep, the ability to get more done – not that that’s what matters, but it does take the pressure off a little bit.

But this 4 years has gone in a flash, and it makes me want to cry.  What I would give to be back at the start of it all, embarking on the greatest journey of my life.  I was so excited by it all.  When we decided to have children and I fell pregnant with Lylah, everything was so new and I couldn’t wait for any of it.  This feeling comes over when you become a mum, that nothing will ever be the same, because you are a mummy now, you own a buggy, you make up bottles, breast feed, have a steriliser on the side in the kitchen.  You talk about babies, their poo, their eating habits, their sleep.  Oh the baby sleep talk!  This was my life, for a year or so, then Lylah got bigger, the mummy independence crept in, I even went on a hen do.  But in my head I know…I’m hopeful for number 2, the chance to do it all again, but this time without the stress.  Oh but there was still stress, but then that’s having multiple human beings living in your house all at one time isn’t it?!  With Malachy, I knew what I was doing.  I fed and fed and fed him…they normally lose weight at first, he piled it on.  He was in my arms constantly, my baby boy, needing me, and I was able to nurture him.  That feeling didn’t go.  As he grew, he frustrated me in other ways, but at the end of a stressful day, I was able to cradle him and connect with him in a way I don’t think you can understand until it happens to you.  That’s what I’m struggling to let go of.  His little face lighting up as I settle down on the sofa at 630.  All I have to say is ‘Mummy Milk’ and he will stop what he’s doing and be by my side.

Stopping breastfeeding once and for all, means the end of that new experience I was so excited for 4 years ago.  I know I have so much more to be excited about now, a whole future with my little sausages that I when I think about, I can barely breathe.  But the first chapter is done.  Booby milk is diminishing, and again, that makes me so sad I could cry.

Well, I did cry.

My boobs and me have been on quite a journey over the last few years, and I feel so blessed to have been able to experience it.  Here’s to your milky boobs and the miracle job they are capable of.

As a side note, I realise it has been 6 months since I last posted.  What can I say, but that I don’t have time for much anymore!  I have wanted to post so many times, and have so much to fill you in on, but haven’t put digits to keyboard.  But tonight, after boob snub, I thought what better way to get back to it, than to talk about my breasts!  Happy Saturday everyone x

Our Children and Their Technology

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I was talking to a man in the pharmacy this week about this exact subject.  Technology, and the fact that it makes the world so fast, and that our kids know nothing else.

I have had children in an age where everything we need is literally at our fingertips.

Music, photographs, groceries, any baby item we may need to purchase, the gym timetable (!), videos, the latest episode of Paw Patrol, or Peppa Pig on loop, all at the touch of a button or two on our phones.

Despite growing up without such luxuries, it is something that as an adult, I have become accustomed to.  I don’t really have to make a lot go effort to access any information I need, and I get frustrated if I can’t get it it quicker than the few seconds of load time my current iPhone operates at.

It goes without saying then, that my children will know no different.  They have only ever known me with a phone in my hand, tapping away sending messages, checking email, watching YouTube videos for some downtime, or checking Facebook.  They don’t know the old version of me, where I actually went to a record shop to purchase music.

Having children in this world has meant that there have been quite a few helpful shortcuts in parenting.  From even before you find out you are pregnant, there is no doubt that many women are on Google, checking when they should be ovulating via a number of online calculators, or checking out the symptoms of early pregnancy, even though I can’t imagine  that there are many of us that don’t already know what these are!  Then the moment arrives, you’re pregnant!  Cue the downloading of one of the many available pregnancy apps, which detail what stage you are at, how you should be feeling, what you should be eating and even what your little fig looks like at 13 weeks.

Then pass months of checking out every twinge you have on every pregnancy page you can find, downloading books, the Mothercare app, and shopping for your forthcoming arrival.

Then the baby arrives, and those little pieces of technology really come into their own.  There were nights where Lylah was screaming and screaming, and we didn’t know what to do.  Do you know what I can remember from those nights?  Chris hunched over a faint blue light on the edge of the bed, frantically Googling what to do with a 2 week old screaming baby who likely has colic.

The Mothercare app was a Godsend.  Lylah fell asleep instantly to the hairdryer noise, and that soon became our go-to solution.  Never mind singing lullabies, rocking her to sleep or anything else; we tapped the screen, let the hair dryer noise come out and watch her drift off to sleep.  I discovered YouTube on our Smart TV and played white noise that way as well, meaning naps in the living room in her chair whilst I was able to do stuff in the rest of the house.  It has come in handy the second time round as well, but with baby number 2 I found an app with an advanced feature.  It switches on as soon as baby cries, and fades out again!  Pure genius!

As Lylah has grown, her access to technology has only increased.  TV watching (no matter how much I said before children that it would be rare occurrence) allows me to get some housework done.  The smart TV means that I can access anything she wants on YouTube at any time.  Sky Plus means box sets and instant downloading.  If Lylah asks for something and I say sorry, it isn’t on at the moment, she says “but Mummy, just load it up!”

This terminology presented itself in normal conversation in the car yesterday.  We were on our way to the shops, and she asked me whether we could play a game (where we pretend we are Anna & Elsa) when we were in the car and going.  I said yes, but asked why we couldn’t play it while we were getting into the car?  She said it’s because the game hadn’t finished “loading up”!

The other day, we were playing a game of musical chairs.  She send she wanted to do the music, which was basically her singing a song.  She said “the music is coming on” and pretended she was holding a mobile phone, tapped the screen and said “bleep”.  My three year old thinks that music comes from a mobile phone!  Which, in her world, it does.

As parents, we can control and monitor our children’s access to technology.  Reading the above back to myself, it sounds like Lylah is constantly on some form of gadget, which actually isn’t the case.  But is she familiar and aware of it?  Yes, of course, because we live in 2016.

Yes, it would be good to slow down.  Yes, it would be great to have more patience and not rely on technology for everything; that’s down to the individual to control.  We need some balance, yes, between the world of everything being ‘right now’ on the other side of our phone screens, to playing outside in nature and forgetting what time it is.

Could I have brought children up without the helping hand of technology?  Well, yes, people did, and I would have had to.

Am I grateful for the white noise app?  YES! Yes  I am.

That Perfect Photograph

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I have written before about how social media has turned us into a society of people who are constantly documenting our day to day lives, our most cherished moments, our big announcements & life-changing memories.  We do this mainly through photographs, and use various Apps like Instagram and PicCollage to make sure every detail looks perfect.

Position photo opp, take photo, apply filter, apply hashtag, post, await the likes and comments.

I think we are now more than aware that it can be dangerous to take this too seriously, especially when viewing others lives through their Facebook feed, and more often than not through a rose-tinted (or in the case of my Instagram shots, a Valencia filtered) lens.

This trend is especially true of those with little ones.  Cue lots of photos of kids with animals, children on days out, little angels grouped together on play dates, mummies & babies lunching.  Not a snotty nose, grubby face or crying meltdown in sight.  I am especially guilty of this, I am not writing a preachy post here, I hold my hands up and admit that when I look at photos I’ve posted of my two children, I get a little tingle of pride, and those photos represent great times and memories, and do a great job of erasing any bad moments we may have had on those particular occasions!

It used to bother me if Lylah wasn’t smiling perfectly at the camera, but now I’m used to having a temperamental three year old, it is something I’ve had to let go of.  No more true than on Malachy’s Baptism Day, in the church, when all I wanted was ONE photo of us as a family, just Chris & I with our two babies.  Lylah’s face says it all in the photo that I have proudly framed in my living room.  I look at it now and chuckle, and still laugh about my nan plying her with sweets trying to get her to smile and stop wriggling to get down for one minute!

What I’ve started to see a little more of recently, is people posting more realistic photographs of their little ones.  I’ve seen more crying in photos, more grumpy faces, and less of the “I will stand here as mummy told me to” type photograph.  And it’s so refreshing to see!

Let’s take each occasion I mentioned above.  In every one of these scenarios, as any one with children/or has hung out with children knows, there is often only one or two “perfect” moments!

Kids with animals = meltdown because they are scared of something and won’t go close enough to get into photo frame.

Children on Days out = many moments of screaming, tiredness, boredom…do I go on?

Little Angels grouped together on play dates = if you get this shot then you’re a miracle worker!

Mummies & Babies lunching = no sign of the food on the floor, the struggle of squeezing them into the unfamiliar highchair or the overpriced cake that has gone to waste!

Chris has been off this week, so we have and a few family outings and a little party at home for St Patrick’s Day.  Cue lots of opportunities for cute photos as perfect mementos of our time spent together.

I’ve posted some beautiful photos on Facebook this week of my family, but what I haven’t posted are some of the classics on my camera roll, or documented the happenings around each shot!

First, there was our day out at an animal sanctuary, which overall Lylah loved.  Lots of cute photos of Lylah looking angelic, but not one of her screaming whilst being chased by oversized Bantum Chickens!  Or moaning for about 27 minutes because she was cold and she wanted to go home and watch Kinder Surprise on YouTube (don’t ask).

Then there was our walk in the woods.  There is a wooden carved chair in our local woods that people often post photos of their children sitting on.  I wanted this photo!  Have a look at the camera roll evidence of Lylah’s progression into a meltdown.  And the smile on my face moving slowly to a grimace!  I also just about managed to save Malachy from being wheeled down the hill and off the edge.

 

Then there was St Patrick’s Day morning.  I wanted a nice picture of the two of them in their green outfits, sat on a flag.  Standard.  These were just a few of what we had before I was happy!

 

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The one where Lylah was squeezing Malachy in a head lock shortly led to him toppling backwards when she let go quickly, followed by 5 minutes of crying and snot and a puffy red face.

So, you can see, not all of life’s moments are filled with picture perfect memories, but they are memories all the same and make us what we are.  It is okay to show people these, it might even make them feel a little more normal about their own lives.

We are going to Peppa Pig World tomorrow, and I promise that as soon as Lylah has any sort of meltdown I will photograph every moment of it, along with the bright backdrop of Peppa and George’s house and Mr Potato’s city, or whatever it is we are in store for!

All of that photo stress is so worth it though, when I get to capture my two looking like this…

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P.S.  I often find that bribing children with Kinder Surprises helps capture that perfect “smile”

 

They need me…

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As a mother, your children, naturally, need you a lot.

They need you from the minute they wake up, until the minute their lights goes out, for a variety of reasons.

With Lylah these include; pulling up bottoms after a wee wee, cue “mummy, this is the hard bit!!”, making her breakfast (even though Miss Independent does get it all out and ready for me these days, she still hasn’t quite stretched to putting it all together, she is only 3 after all!), dressing her, plaiting her hair, helping her put Anna and Elsa’s dresses back on, (then off again, then on again), doing her puzzles, finding the lost parts of Sylvanian Families (they are soooo small!), writing letters, writing numbers, more post-toilet help…it goes on and on and on.

This all runs alongside Malachy also needing me, but needing me far more than Lylah does.  From the minute he wakes up, he needs me for comfort, for milk, for basic hygiene, for breakfast, for playing, for moving…he’s a baby, you get it!

Often, all this neediness can get on top of you.  Even though you know this motherhood lark is going to be demanding, you never quite realise it for real until its happening to you.  And then you get a small segment of your day, where they are maybe both napping at the same time, and there is a fifteen minute period, where no one needs you for a moment.  That moment goes far too quickly, though the rest of the day, somehow does not!

This all happens without thought.  You don’t stop and think about your every action being crucial to your children’s happiness, development, health.  You just do it, because, well, that’s what you signed up for.

Then there are times when they really need you.  And this happened to me yesterday.  It made me stop and think.

Malachy was feeling poorly, and had woken yesterday with a temperature, and after his afternoon nap, he was burning up again.  After Calpol, and whilst I was waiting for it to kick in and cool him down, he just wasn’t a happy bunny.  Nothing I did made him happier, and you realise, that although they really really need you, you don’t actually know what it is they need.  After a long snuggly feed, he eventually rested his head against me, and I began to stroke his cheek until he fell asleep.  After some tossing and turning to get into the exact right position for his maximum comfort, he finally fell into a deep sleep on me.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the same sofa, I noticed that Lylah’s head was dropping up and down.  Monster’s University just wasn’t entertaining enough, and the little lady was nodding off as well.  I got her comfy as best I could with Mally lying on top of me, and they both slept like that for the next hour or so.

There wasn’t much I could do.  I debated putting him back in his cot.  But this was a different sleep.  This was a sleep that was relaxed and comforted because he had fallen asleep on mummy.  He was warm from my body and full from the warm milk he had just guzzled.  I had made him feel better from whatever he was feeling a moment before.  No, I thought, this sleep is for us.  He wants to be comforted and to lie on mummy and cuddle in close.  Lylah was comfortable and lying against my legs.  I felt like I could burst with happiness, and was overwhelmed with a feeling of love.  They both NEEDED me.  Not in the usual, every day ways, but in their moment of tired, exhausted, poorlyness, I was needed to be a mummy, someone they could snuggle into to everything better.

It is the most beautiful feeling in the world being needed.

Why I’m falling out of love with Facebook

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Whilst I was busy hoovering my kitchen a moment ago (STOP PRESS!!), I was aware that I was muttering away to myself about a subject that has been bothering me this week.

It has to do with the ‘Motherhood Challenge’ Facebook game that has been circulating our news feeds.

Cue lots of retorts from non-mothers about why its okay to be a non-mother, further response from mothers defending their right to post pictures of their children etc etc…it goes on.

It’s things like this that really get my goat with Facebook.  It’s not a friendly place anymore.  We seem to live in a cyber world where it is okay to make someone feel bad about just about anything they choose to post on their social media pages.

Back to the ‘Motherhood Challenge’ posts.  I myself have been nominated to do such a post (I simply haven’t got around to it), and I personally don’t see any harm in it.  I have seen lots of friends posting their happiest pictures, and these have made me smile.  I’m almost certain this would have been my reaction to their pictures if I didn’t have children of my own, because, well, I quite like cute babies.  I say almost certain, because there is a small part of me that saw the posts, and cringed slightly.  There are so many women out their who can’t or choose not to have children, and posts like these do form a kind of us and them situation, whether you choose it to come across that way or not.  If I was in the no children camp, would these posts have started to upset me?  Well, yes they probably would, if children is the one thing you wanted most in the world.

There is no right or wrong here – Facebook is a place where people should feel free to upload whatever is going on in their lives at that time, and believe me that can change drastically over the years (believe me I WISH I could post as many holiday shots as I used to!).

I think my point is that we shouldn’t make each other feel bad about it.  The people on our Facebook pages are (supposed to be) our friends.  It is not a competition.  I LOVE looking at people’s drunken night out photos, because quite frankly, I want to be them.

The “Be Like Bill” posts were beyond annoying.  Again, post want you want to – it’s your page.  I have resorted to unfriending someone if they annoy me that much.  Yes, it really is that simple!  This also doesn’t mean that an unfriended Facebook friend can’t be a real-life friend.  Because, people, Facebook isn’t REAL!

So for now, my 9 year love affair Mark Zuckerburg’s brain child is luke warm.  I still love it for celebrating special occasions, posting pictures of my children and commenting uselessly about my day, and of course to share these words with you lovely people.  I just think I’ll approach it with more caution these days, and I certainly won’t use it to make someone else feel bad about their life choices and personal situation.

 

 

 

 

 

Vom Bears

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This week we decided it was a good idea to take a nearly 3 year old and a nearly 6 month old on a 4 hour car trip to Colchester.  In hindsight, thinking this journey would be smooth runnings may have been hugely optimistic, and thinking back over the 2 day escapade, I’m surprised we returned relatively stress free and still with hair.

My friend Debbie, who I met at University, and her husband Bryn, have just had a beautiful baby boy, and as half term meant they’d be at home together as a family, we decided that we would take a two day, one night trip to Colchester.  On the packing front, this wasn’t too much hard work.  A couple of changes of clothes for Chris and I, 4 each for the kids (it will become clear later just how crucial this decision was), a few toiletries and snacks, and a tank full of petrol, and we were set.  Of course, our aim was to leave nice and early, and we set our alarms for 6ish, ready to be on the road for 7am.  Forward to Tuesday morning, and we were finally ready to go at 745.

Still, we were all packed up, kids in tow, all set for our family adventure to Essex!  I was excited; I hit the road with enthusiasm, listening to a NOW album of Christmas songs at Lylah’s request.  Of course.

The first thing that struck me as we were an hour into the journey and Lylah was fast asleep, was that she may need a wee.  She’d gone before we left, but the last thing we needed was a car seat stinking of fresh and then stale urine!  A quick stop at Fleet services, and the toddler was toileted and the baby was breast fed.  Time to hit the road again.

All was going really well.  We were on track time wise, our destination being a quaint little farm the other side of Colchester, where we would meet our friends and their new addition for lunch and partake in a trail around the farm to see the animals.

With a couple of hours left to go from our pit stop, we made sure Lylah had plenty to snack on in the back seat, not wanting her to go hungry or dehydrate on this epic journey.  About an hour left to go, and we were set to have achieved a stress free journey.  Result!

“Mummy, I feel a bit sicky.  I feel sick”

“You feel sick Lylah?  You’ll be okay, just close your eyes and put your head back and you’ll feel better”

“Mummy, I need medicine, I feel sick!  I need medicine”

“Lylah, you don’t need medicine!  You’ll be okay”

“Mummy, Daddy I feel si…BLLEEEUUURRGGGHHHHHH”

What.  The…..???????

My poor Lylah was vomiting all down herself.  I was trying to negotiate fast moving cars on the M3, whilst glancing at Lylah who was covered in orange coloured vomit.  Chris was looking around from the passenger seat trying to reassure her whilst she screamed and cried.

Chris pointed out there was nothing we could do as I panicked about just how much sick she was covered in.  Then Lylah said exactly what I was thinking; “But these are my best clothes mummy!!”, still crying, with sick dripping from her mouth.  Sorry.

She did calm down a bit and at one point was pointing out the contents of her sick to us.  Look mummy, there is Pom bears!  And its also got some weetabix!!

About 15 minutes later we were able to pull in to a services and get her out to get her cleaned up.  Out came the perfectly packed items from the boot, so we could get the change of clothes, wipes, new shoes, in order to get Lylah not smelling of Pom bear sick.

All sorted, and the car seat cleaned up, we were on our way, when Malachy began his new favourite thing, SCREAMING in his car seat.  He’s done this for a while, but 20 mins of it when you have been in a car for 4 hours, and have just cleaned up sick does tend to try your patience.  We arrived at our destination, and as soon as I lifted him out he was back to his angelic smily self.  Of course.

After a delicious lunch and an autumnal walk around the farm, we told Lylah it was time to check into our hotel.  When we left that morning she had informed us that she didn’t want to go to the hotel and she wanted to sleep in her owl bed at home.  Rewind back to our summer trip to Devon where she told us for 2 days straight that she didn’t like holiday and wanted to go home.  However, all was well upon arrival at the Premier Inn A12 Colchester, and Lylah thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the reception staff and setting off the fire alarm by opening the emergency exit door.

We settled into the room, when Chris informed me he wasn’t feeling too well, and I was thankful I’d packed drugs for us as well as the necessary Calpol, teething gel, teething salts etc for the children.

That evening, we arrived at Debbie and Bryns house, and Lylah had fallen asleep in the car, so woke up feeling a little grumpy.  You never know what Lylah you might get when she wakes up.  Tonight, we had the Lylah that instantly stated to our hosts that she wants to go home.  Delightful.  Bryn pulled out the CBeebies card and all was well again, and by the end of the evening she was making herself at home, with Bryn her new best friend, bossing him around and making best friends with their dog.  Poor Chris was still feeling unwell, and couldn’t finish his portion of banoffie pie, and anyone that knows Chris will understand that this is not normal.  I however, had 2, non slimming world friendly, delicious slices of Debbie’s home made mouth watering dessert.

We went back after a lovely evening, and I longed for a night of minimally interrupted sleep in the hotel bed.  Of course this was not on the cards for me.  Malachy woke every couple of hours without fail, and I woke up feeling like I was hungover from the severe lack of sleep.  We treated ourselves to an all you can eat breakfast and ventured into town for a play in the park.  But it was peeing it down, and the park equipment was covered in wet slippery rain.  Not that that stopped Lylah and Chris, they had a great time running around, tiring her out for the journey home.

Before we left for the final leg home, I felt absolutely brilliant.  In spite of the vom episode, Chris feeling unwell and the sleepless night, I was bright eyed and ready for the stint home, kids asleep in the back.  After a necessary pit stop 2 hours into the journey, we continued on, and were on the home straight until we hit traffic around Stonehenge.  It was 4:30pm.  Bad timing.  We were trickling through this traffic, when Malachy decides to have one of his screaming episodes.  We took the opportunity to pull over and give him a feed.  Lylah also needed a wee, so we asked her to go in the grass in the layby.  Oh no…tantrum and full meltdown time (kicking seat and screaming style) meant that we couldn’t convince her to go for a wee in the grass.  I wasn’t convinced she could hold it for another hour or so, and I was past the point of being tolerant, and it all got a bit too much inside our VW Golf.  After snapping at Lylah that she has to go for a wee, her tantrum only escalated, so we decided to leave her be and if we have a soppy car seat as a result, then so be it.

Malachy screamed for the remainder of the journey, and the pinnacle was Chris and I singing “Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose” at the top of our voices, attempting harmonies, to a) make him stop crying and b) drown out the sound of his crying.  Lylah slept through this nursery rhyme karaoke session, and Malachy had moments of quiet, but he came out on top overall as I don’t think I’ve ever been so relived to pull into the driveway.

Lessons learned from our road trip:  Don’t feed Lylah Pom bears on a long car journey, pack lots of clothes and wet wipes, take ear plugs.

Totally worth it though to get warm cuddles with baby Thomas.