Me and Mine: A Family Portrait Project – February 2015

Last month my very first ‘me and mine’ photo had been taken on the very first day of the month. This month it was the very last one. The end of February has suddenly sprung up on me and I had thought I had the weekend to take our photos. I think that always happens with February as it’s so short. You think you’ve got a few days left before you start thinking about March and then suddenly it’s here, and it’s like ‘woah where did the rest of the month go’.

February hasn’t been much better than January really. The beginning was better but I’ve been struggling towards the end, with tiredness and feeling a bit down. I hate feeling this way and it’s made me even more desperate for the sunshine and warmer months. As I have mentioned before I am hoping this March is like the weird one we had last year and we have some lovely weather. And either way I have some nice things to look forward to. It is the boy’s birthday soon and we are going for a lovely meal and then a night out with friends so I am looking forward to that. I am certainly ready for a night out.

For the last few months I have been working a lot harder on my blog; trying to get more involved in the community and posting a lot more frequently, and it was nice in February for that to be recognised by being listed in the top 500 of parent blogs on Tots 100 for the first time. It was a nice feeling knowing that my hard work was making a difference to the success of my blog and hopefully that will keep on rising and I can keep improving.

It’s also been a good month fitness-wise for me. I have kept up with exercising almost every day and working harder in my workouts and I am starting to see more of a difference in my body. I haven’t lost much weight but I think that might be because I have got more muscle than I had before. I am definitely seeing more of them pop out, particularly on my stomach which is great. I had started to get a little bit demotivated after not seeing results as quickly as I did a couple of years ago when I started exercising more, but that has begun to change now and I can see quite a bit difference in some areas of my body. It has been a natural progression I think, but I love that I now want to have a fit body rather than just a skinny one. I want to feel and look strong and see some shape in my muscles and I’m happy that that has started to happen this month.

So, this photo was literally taken today; a bit rushed, a bit grumpily (as you can see from A’s face!), we certainly don’t look our best; completely the opposite from last month. But in a way I like that. This photo is more representative of our daily life, when we are busy, tired and have been lounging around the house for a bit and we look more like how we usually look when we are home (except I don’t usually have make-up on and I would most likely be wearing a big baggy jumper); hair in a bun, looking a bit tired and rumpled and not always with a big smile on our face. I hope to not always leave taking our family photos each month to the very last day, and I hope that I like our monthly photos more than I do this one, but at least it is representative of life. Imperfect but real.

Me and Mine February

You can find out more about Me and Mine: a family portrait project over on Lucy’s blog, Dear Beautiful.

dear beautiful

Ava: Three Years and One Month Old

Ava 37 Month Update
Loves: The usual; chocolate, chocolate buttons, chocolate fingers, chocolate ice-cream, chocolate cake. Ignoring me, picking on me along with her daddy and telling me I’m the stinkiest (I’m not), ‘the unwrapping things’ on YouTube, ballet, sausages, pizza, fake crying, saying “Can you wipe my tears and nose please” whilst fake crying.

Dislikes: Going for a wee, attempting to use the ‘big toilet’, being told off (especially by daddy – she mostly ignores me. #threenager), being told no.

Favourite foods: Pizza and sausages as always. If you ask her what she would like for dinner she will always say one of these two things, and then the other after that. She also likes chilli and rice (especially if there is creme fraiche involved), spaghetti bolognaise, pate sandwiches. Pretty much the same as usual but she has got very fussy recently mainly, I think, because she has been poorly but she’s milking it for as long as she can.

Favourite toy: She’s a bit fickle at the moment and changes her mind every day, but I think Bullseye from Toy Story stands out at the moment as one of the popular ones, whom she got for Christmas from her Aunty Emma.

Favourite book: Hairy Maclary’s Rumpus At The Vet – she loves asking me all of the animals names and counting how many of each animal there are on each page. She loves anything to do with animals.

Challenges this month: Trying to get her to do a wee! I don’t know what it is at the moment but she suddenly doesn’t want to go. She doesn’t seem to be in pain and it doesn’t seem like she’s holding it either so I’m not sure what she’s got against it. She generally drinks quite a lot of water but is just not going very often. I think I am going to take her to the doctors to get it checked out just in case. Also, asking her to do anything at the moment is a challenge no matter how small a thing it is. I usually get a “sorry” if I ask her to do something. It’s so frustrating. It takes quite a few firm requests to persuade her to do anything and it’s driving me rather crazy.

Best bits: Having little chats with her and just playing at home together. It’s not been a great few weeks due to poorliness and bad weather so we haven’t done loads, so it’s been the little moments in between the hard bits that have been nice.

Birds and Lilies

I’m at the Gym!

Running{The extent of my running ability}

I’m at the gym!

I’m at the gym while I’m writing this! I had a mini panic a minute ago that they didn’t have free wifi and I was like what I am going to do to distract myself from the horror of the gym if there’s no wifi. It’s not that bad really, although I have only been going 8 minutes and 16 seconds and this is my first time. I can’t help choosing the sitting down machines, even though I really want to go on the running machine. I’m trying to make myself get off this one (I don’t know it’s name) and move my whole body.

Anyway this is part of my new ‘I’m going to be a bride in five months, let’s get fitter than I’ve ever been, I will fit in that damn dress’ mission.

Update: 15 minutes in and I’ve apparently burnt 67 calories – wahoo, Cheryl Cole’s body double here I come!

So, the above was written whilst I was at the gym (clearly), and I was hoping to write this entire post whilst I was there, but then I got on the running machine and discovered I couldn’t blog and run at the same time (I apparently couldn’t breathe and run at the same time either, but that’s another story).

I was on the running machine for 22 minutes, burnt 87 calories and ran 1.19 miles; which apparently is funny to the boy, but I was quite pleased with that (apart from the calories burnt, which I’ll agree is a laughing matter). Last summer I attempted to go for a run and couldn’t even make it round the block, so 22 minutes on the running machine is an achievement to me. So is the fact that I didn’t fall off. I had visions the whole way through of me going flying off backwards like people do in those comedy sketches which I think made it more likely to happen and I struggled to concentrate on keeping my legs moving, and just kept picturing myself shooting off backwards and landing on my face and the entire gym bursting out laughing at me. I think it’s safe to say I’m not a natural gym bunny.

This first gym visit was a few weeks ago and I haven’t been since but I do want to go again; I just prefer doing classes or exercise DVD’s (I wrote video’s first = I’m old) at home. I have been exercising lots and am starting to feel fitter and see more definition in my body but I think starting running will step it up a notch and burn lots of calories hopefully. At the moment though as it is dark in the evenings I am not going to go out for a run on my own (the area I live in isn’t the best) so I will have to venture back to the gym and the running machine soon to improve my running skillzzzz.

Do you go to gym or do you exercise in other ways? Anyone ever fallen off a running machine?!

The Happy List #2

The Happy List No.2
We’ve had another crappy week of illness here. There has been very little sleep, a lot of coughing, one seriously stroppy toddler and a pretty stroppy mummy too. I haven’t had a cold this bad in a long time. I have felt awful for days and only started to feel slightly human again yesterday. Today I feel horrid again though. I think Ava is finally coming out the other side after many many days of wiping noses and trying to persuade her to have some yummy medicine. She has finally slept for a couple of nights after having a bit of Calpol before bed. I don’t like to give her medicine much but I think she really needed it this time.

I just can’t wait to get things back to normal again. I am behind with everything and it is so frustrating. I hate winter. I keep wondering why on earth I still live in this country when we get so little nice weather and I really need more of it to stay happy. If only it was a simple as ‘just’ moving abroad somewhere nice.

So! With all that whining it’s time for another happy list!

1. We have been discussing our ‘honeymoon with child’ lots and it is very exciting. I love the thought of going away for a few weeks with my little family and making those memories with Ava.

2. On Thursday our wedding will be only five months away! Scary? Yes, but very exciting. It just keeps seeming more and more real now. If I see a wedding on TV (Gavin and Stacey anyone?!) then I imagine that actually being me, which I never did before.

3. It is March soon(ish). Last year we had a really nice March; so nice we were in t-shirts outside so I am hoping the same will happen this year and we will be blessed with some lovely weather early on in the year. And if not at least we are one step closer to Spring.

4. I have been doing a (little) bit more cooking recently. I really want to get a few quick, healthy and tasty dishes down so that when we don’t have anything particular in I can rustle up something that we will all eat, for which we generally have all of the ingredients in the house already. So far I have made Deliciously Ella’s bean chilli which only takes about twenty minutes in toto but it needs a bit of tweaking to be as tasty as I’d like (I didn’t have the jalapeno pepper that is in the recipe) and Ava wouldn’t eat it at all but it is hard to know whether that is because she is being a fussy little bugger whilst she is poorly.

5. My little baby girl is looking and acting so grown up lately. We have some really funny conversations and I love chatting with her. She is still loving ballet and is starting tap dancing as well next week! It is only for fifteen minutes before her ballet class so it shouldn’t be too much for her.

Ava Ballerina

6. Friends and Family: I’m just feeling very grateful for my lovely friends and family right now. Even though I haven’t seen many of them much recently I know I am lucky to have them, and I can’t wait to spend more time with them during the summer and celebrating with them at our wedding.

What’s making you happy this week?

Birds and Lilies

It’s Worth It

Ava and Mummy

There are the days full of tears, and tantrums and tiredness. When you feel like the day and the emotional rollercoaster you are on will never end. There are days full of nappies, or wees on the floor, with fights over food and “please just eat one more”.

It’s worth it.

There are the battles over toys, getting dressed and getting out the door, the stresses and the struggles when you feel like a crap mother once more. The tiredness looms big and affects everything you do, everything feels difficult and you can’t help but feel blue.

It’s worth it.

It is all worth it. As a mother, as a parent, we work bloody hard to look after our children well and to be there for them, and love them and give them everything we have. The days can be long and completely exhausting and in between those challenging days we often don’t get enough sleep to re-energise us to start all over again the next day. It IS hard. It DOES leave you desperate for some time alone; to go to the loo in peace, without someone grabbing at your leg and asking for a(nother) snack or to watch some more eggs being unwrapped on YouTube.

But it’s all totally worth it. It’s worth it for the kisses and the cuddles and the incredible love. It’s worth it to watch them grow and develop in to amazing little people supported and loved by you. It’s worth it when they have been out at their Grandma’s for the afternoon and they run up to you and give you a big hug; so excited to see you and be with you again, their favourite person. When they make you laugh or even when they make you cry and you feel that intense rush of love for this little person that you have created.

I love being a mum; it is all I ever wanted to be. It is everything I always imagined and a whole lot more, it is also harder than I ever thought it could be. But it is really, really worth it.

Linking up with Twinkly Tuesday’s, Mummy Mondays,Share the Joy, PoCoLo, Brilliant Blog Posts, Share With Me and the Mad Mid Week Blog Hop.

The Honeymoon with a Child

So, we are getting married in July and obviously we did things the wrong way round and had a child first. We could go away by ourselves for a romantic week somewhere hot, sandy and beautiful for our honeymoon. But we are not going to do that for a few reasons.

For a start the husband-to-be is not a big fan of lying on the beach reading a book and doing very little else (silly boy) so we would never really go somewhere just to do that, there would have to be more on offer. But more than that we want to go away for a few weeks because when else can you do that, and we wouldn’t leave Ava at home with family for that long. Also, though, it will be an amazing experience to explore a country as a family for a few weeks, possibly a month. Ava will be just over three and a half when we go and old enough to understand things but not old enough yet to be missing school while we’re away. She is already very excited about our big holiday together and so are we. Yes it will be hard work sometimes; all the travelling, tiredness and lack of home comforts, but it will also be a lot of fun, interesting and creating all those memories together will be wonderful.

So, where are we going? At first it was between Thailand and America, with me desperate to go to California and him really wanting to go to Thailand. We have been to America and Thailand before when we went travelling years ago and we both love them both, but they both have their issues.

imageThe USA is very expensive at the moment; the exchange rate is poor which means that once we are there food and accommodation will cost a lot and so we would only really be able to go for a couple of weeks, and we’d both love to go for more than that. Thailand worries me quite a bit and even though I want to be cool with all the difficulties we could face there, I’m not. I love Thailand and even though I think a lot of it would be great for Ava; seeing elephants up close and the beautiful beaches; I’d be worried that food would be too spicy all the time, I’d worry about safety when travelling around (a taxi driver tried his very best to rob us, an entire wheel fell off the coach we were on and we tipped sideways, and belongings were stolen from our luggage underneath another coach), I’d never be able to let go of her hand when walking around because of the crazy traffic and I think she would have to have a vaccination which I wouldn’t like either.

The boy agrees about all of these issues now as well so we have started to think about going somewhere else, somewhere that would still be amazing, but that would be more straightforward and less worrisome. We will most likely be going to Spain and Portugal which I think will be brilliant. It should be the perfect mixture of beaches and cities, with great food, wine (La Rioja!), culture and beauty. We both love good food so we are excited about the big tapas culture in Spain as well as lots of lovely, cheap but very good red wine.

Our family on holiday

At the moment we are planning on getting the ferry over to Santander (which we have done once before with friends), and that means that we will have our car so we can get around easily and freely (and it also means I can take a bigger suitcase!).

I think it will be an amazing trip and I can’t wait to explore Spain and Portugal by road and by foot, stay in some gorgeous places, eat wonderful food, drink plenty of wine, possibly tour some wineries (if we are allowed to take children!), spend lots of time on the beach and in the sea and enjoy the sunshine, culture and people. I have been desperate to travel again for years, so I am so happy to be going away for a good few weeks; forgetting about the mundanities of every day life at home for a short while and enjoying some quality family time.

Have you ever been to Spain and Portugal; do you have a favourite place to go? I’d love to hear about them!

Super Busy Mum

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Birds and Lilies January Favourites

January Favourites
February is here! I can’t help getting excited about summer even though it is obviously ages away. It just feels like we are on the home straight to summer now we are in the new year and have got through silly old January, and I can’t bloody wait. The days are already starting to get longer and it’s lovely. Although it better not go too fast with all the wedding planning we have to do.

Here are a few things that I’ve been loving this past month….

Sarah Chapman Skinesis Overnight Facial:
In the quest for beautiful skin for my wedding in July I have been trying out some beautiful, highly recommended products that are on the pricier side. This serum-oil from Sarah Chapman is one of my favourites. It is a light, silky oil that promises a healthy, dewy glow whilst lifting, firming and helping to repair daily damage. It certainly delivers on the dewy glow part and when I use this I always wake up looking much better, with smoother, prettier skin. If I am going somewhere special the next day I always make sure I use this the night before. It is hard to know if this is improving my skin other than looks-wise but I have had much better skin since using a combination of new high-end products. The opaque bottle means that it is not affected by sunlight so does not degrade like a lot of products, but also means that you can’t tell how much you have left which is a bit of a pain. I thought I was going to run out of this really quickly but it has actually lasted me for months and I *think* I still have a decent amount left. I have already bought my next bottle of this though as I do not want to run out, it’s that good.

Green Smoothies: As I wrote about in this post, I am loving having lots of green smoothies to get lots of vitamins and minerals into my body at a time when I am probably not getting enough from my food. Roll on summer when I crave healthy nutritious salads. You can find out what I put in my smoothies here.

Jillian Michaels Exercise DVD’s: In particular, Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. After I was pregnant I bought Jillian’s 30 Day Shred which I really liked and I noticed a difference in my body quite quickly. Recently I bought the Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism DVD and I think it’s great. It is pretty hardcore (moreso than 30 Day Shred) but that is what I want at the moment and it is definitely getting more manageable for me after doing it on and off for a few weeks. It is broken up into six minute sections so you can just do as many as you have time for or want to do. I love Jillian Michaels (I know lots of people don’t like her style); I find her very motivating and honest about what you need to do to change your body and you can’t help but be inspired looking at her very fit bod. I also like how she explains how to do moves correctly and why you need to do them a particular way.

Next children’s summer clothes:
I was sent a Next spring catalogue and I got very circle-happy amongst all the lovely summery girls clothes. They have so many pretty summer dresses and great value sandals that I just wanted to buy them all for my little pumpkin, and in fact I did buy rather a lot with her Christmas and birthday vouchers that she got as presents. As she has just turned three I can buy mostly age 3-4 clothes knowing that they should fit her even in a few months time. We are all going away for a few weeks after our wedding (we haven’t decided exactly where yet!) so it is very exciting getting A some summer clothes knowing they will be good for our trip. I can’t wait!

Pukka Matcha Green Tea: I have been really enjoying one or two of these green tea bags most afternoons. I only have one cup of ‘proper’ tea in the morning as I don’t want too much caffeine and it keeps me awake at night if I have one later in the day, so I usually have some form of green or jasmine tea in the afternoons. Actual Matcha tea is really expensive so I am sure there isn’t much Matcha in these (it says 2%, so no) but I like the taste and green tea is very good for you anyway. It does taste a bit different to other green teas I have tried but I like it. Pukka teas are organically grown and use ethically sourced ingredients and 20p from every box of the Matcha Green Tea is donated to WWF, which is nice.

Ooh, you can tell it’s January and getting closer to my wedding with all the health-related favourites can’t you?! I’d love to hear any of your favourites of the moment; whether it’s beauty, fashion, health, food, child-related or whatever else!

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Me and Mine: A Family Portrait Project – January 2015

Since we have become a family we have taken lots of photographs of our adventures together, but as I am usually the one behind the camera, there are very few of us all together. I very rarely like photo’s of myself but I would hate to look back on photo’s in years to come and hardly see any of us all together or for my children to not have any of us as a family.

So this year we are going to be taking part in Me and Mine with Dear Beautiful blog and lots of other lovely blogs. Me and Mine is a family portrait project where you share a picture you have taken as a family that month, and then on the last day of each month we share the photo’s we took and a bit about what we got up to that month.

I think it’s a lovely idea and even though I have seen other people’s posts before I never really thought about joining in myself but I came across Lucy’s post a couple of days ago which was perfect timing as I get to start in January, and hopefully join in throughout the year.

This month hasn’t been a great one to be honest. It has mostly been a typical January where you are sick of the miserable weather and the cold and just can’t wait for it to be summer. I think I really need to start arranging a yearly holiday in January as I could always do with some sun and I think it would make me feel a lot better. I do get a bit down when the weather is rubbish and after Christmas it always feels like winter has just gone on for so long and I’m desperate for a bit of sunshine on my skin. I think I probably suffer from a bit of S.A.D. And of course we’ve suffered with the usual winter bugs. Last week him and her were poorly and this week it is my turn.

The beginning of January was lovely, however. For new years we were in Whitby with the boy’s side of the family and then it was Ava’s third birthday on the second, and despite breaking down it was a lovely day. The photo below was taken on the very first day of the year, in Whitby and we were there with family including the dog and our little nephew, for whom it was his first ever trip to the beach. I love this photo and I can’t believe we are actually all smiling. Ava usually tries her best to give me her best grimace and I far too often have my eyes shut. I think for future months I will most likely have to work a bit harder to get a photo of all of us.

Me and Mine Family Portrait January 2015The bobble hat family.

dear beautiful

Wedding Wednesday: Six Months to Go

Love, Flowers, Measurements and Invitations

We’ve now got less than six months before the big day! We booked the church and the reception venue over six months ago and the time since then has flown by. We didn’t really get much further with organising things until after Christmas which is a bit scary having to do almost everything in the next six months. But since then we have sorted some of the bigger things; I have bought my dress which is a massive weight off my mind, we are meeting with our photographer this week and will most likely book her after that. I have mine and my bridesmaids hairdresser booked and my make-up artist. We have looked at suits for the best man and ushers, and I have started looking at bridesmaids dresses. We have had our menu tasting and have chosen what will be served for each course, and our DJ is booked.

The next big things we want (and need) to get sorted are invitations and the flowers and once they are taken care of I will feel a lot better about everything. I am also going to try and arrange the cake soon. Then after that it is mainly just things that we need to buy rather than people we need to book for things. There are just so many little things that we need to buy and do that it all feels a bit overwhelming, so I’m writing lots of lists and trying to keep my notepad handy so that I can add every tiny thing that comes into my head so I don’t keep getting all panicked that I’ve forgotten something. I’m a bit of a worry wart.

I do have to buy my shoes sooner rather than later because when my dress comes into the shop around May I need to have them so that I can try them on with my dress and they can measure how much they need to take off the length (of course they’ll have to take some off, I’m a shorty). I haven’t found any that are perfect yet, apart from some Jimmy Choo’s that I’m not allowed. I’d also like to get my jewellery by then so I can see if it goes. By the way, what do people do about jewellery, especially if you are spending a bit more on it then you usually would? Do you order a few different things within 28 days of when you try your dress on that you like and think will work and then return it if it doesn’t work? Please let me know what you did.

So that is where we are at right now. It feels like we have been so busy recently that we haven’t had chance to sit down together and discuss things, so that is the plan for this weekend; that and deciding on our invitations together. I feel a lot better about where we are with the planning now than I did at the beginning of January, I think mainly because I now have my dress.

It’s all very exciting and a bit scary too! I’m so impatient and so I just want to have everything locked down right now, but it’s ok, we’re getting there slowly. I will update you again soon, hopefully having got lots more done.

Super Busy Mum

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What I Put in My Green Smoothies

Green smoothie before blendingGreen smoothie before blending

For about the past 8 months or so we have been making and enjoying regular green smoothies. I bought a Breville Blend-Active Blender, which is less than £25 and a total bargain in my opinion. I would love a Nutri-bullet but they are expensive so I was very happy to find the Breville which gets great reviews. We have found it really easy to use and the cups that come with it are great. I love that (as opposed to my juicer) there are only three parts to wash after use; the blade, the cup and the lid. It means that I use it way more than my juicer, which I do love, but it’s a lot more work making a juice rather than a smoothie.

Breville Blend-Active Blender

I try to have a smoothie at least a few times a week, and I usually have it for my breakfast. I was getting a bit slack with making them regularly, even though they are easy enough to make. So I have just started making two at a time so that I have one ready-made for the next day. It means they are not quite as good for you as you are not consuming them straight away, but I think better that than not having one at all.

I tend to stick with the same ingredients as they are what we have in the house and generally quite cheap but I do mix it up a little bit sometimes and I also really enjoy just a banana and almond milk smoothie for a quick snack.

Here is what I put in my green smoothies:

Frozen Spinach: I put a couple of chunks of spinach in. I sometimes use fresh if we have some in, but having frozen means that I don’t have to worry about it going off and wasting it.

Water: I put quite a bit of water in so that is not too thick.

Coconut Water: Sometimes I put a bit of coconut water in and a bit less water than usual.

Chia Seeds: I put a couple of teaspoons in to my smoothies. Chia seeds are full of nutrients and a great source of healthy omega-3 fats and fibre. They can boost energy, aid digestion and lower cholesterol. (I have read something about needing to build up the amount you consume when you start eating chia seeds, so please check that out if you haven’t had them before.)

Coconut Oil: I put about a teaspoon or so in. If you put more in then I think you do notice the taste but it doesn’t bother me, the boy doesn’t really like being able to taste it though. Coconut oil has loads of benefits; it is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal. It also has antioxidant properties and it helps in the absorption of other minerals. (I have a post coming soon about all the different ways I use coconut oil.)

Banana: I usually chop up one banana and add that.

BodyMe Super Energy Mix: I did a review on this here. It contains loads of superfoods such as acai, lucuma, baobab and guarana, and is a great source of vitamins and minerals, and a source of energy.

Wheatgrass Powder: Wheatgrass is a natural source of vitamins and antioxidants including vitamins A, C, E, and minerals manganese, zinc, magnesium and iron.

Flaxseed: I put a couple of tablespoons in. Flaxseed (also called linseed) is a rich source of nutrients, vitamins and a good source of omega-3.

Moringa Powder: I have about a teaspoon in my green smoothie. This is also full of good stuff and can boost energy and increase concentration, as well as loads of other benefits.

I don’t put an exact amount of any of these things I tend to just throw some of everything in. I sometimes put a small handful of raspberries or blueberries in if I have some, but I don’t feel like I need the sweetness. Occasionally I’ll put a bit of kale in if we have some in, and a bit less frozen spinach.

The great thing about smoothies is that you can just throw all sorts in depending on what you have in the house and get loads of health benefits. I’m not worried about the taste as long as it’s good for me and I think the banana stops it tasting too ‘green’ but if you need a bit more sweetness (I’m sweet enough! ;) you can always add a bit more fruit or a bit less green stuff, at least until you get used to it.

I get most of my ingredients from Amazon as that is where I have found them to be cheapest. I get chia seeds, the powders, Flaxseed and coconut oil (I get Lucy Bee’s) all from there. Some of them seem quite expensive at first but I find that most of them last me ages and I think it is worth spending a bit more on your health.

Do you have smoothies or juices? What do you put in them if you do? I’d love to find more great things to add to mine.

The List
Stopping at two