A few of my thoughts lately…. 

Firstly, I really must apologise forbeing a bit lacklustre recently and not writing a blog post for a while. Work has had me so busy, and we’ve been having a bad run of sleep with the little one. So here are some thoughts…

Is it possible to find the right work life balance?

I like to think I was a relaxed Mum with H, but I think the reality was, I probably wasn’t! We were blessed with our first, H, he was reasonably chilled, happy, and a good sleeper from around 12 weeks. However, I think I was a bit of stickler for routine and probably a bit of a ‘Mum-zilla. 

I went back to work just before H was 7 months old (December 2014) which in hindsight was probably a bit too soon. I wish I’d stayed off longer as I missed so much. Anyway, I went back to work part time, working Tuesday-Saturday. I enjoyed my work, spending time with my colleagues and I enjoyed my Mondays with H and other Mummy friends. I was happy. Fast forward to February 2015, I took on a new role at work which meant going back to full time. I was sad to lose my Mondays with H and it did make me value my time on Sundays with H and Daddy more. Little did I know that L was just around the corner, literally! Shortly after accepting and starting my new role, I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant with L. Oops! 

I returned to work properly following L when she was 11 months old. It was ok to start with, but the endless list was tough going, I remember dropping L off at nursery and arriving at work on October 5th 2016, feeling like a terrible Mum for not being with her. I even shed a few tears! I’ve adjusted a bit more to my heavy workload and hours now and I feel like I manage it slightly better, but it is hard going. 

Managing a job, a house, a marriage, and two children is proving more difficult than just one child. And I’m still searching for the right balance. I currently work 5 days in my teaching job, which is actually 0.8. My husband has a long commute so I manage the drop and pick up and most bathtime. It’s quite tiring, but I’m managing with a small amount of sanity left. Roll on the Easter holidays for a ‘rest’ and hopefully less hours come September. 

Jumping From One to Two:

H meets his little sister

My second pregnancy whizzed by and October 2015 soon came, L arrived and so did my maternity leave, albeit somewhat abruptly [see birth stories]. I was determined to have longer off this time and had scrimped and saved throughout my pregnancy to help. The first 10-12 weeks were an absolute blur of expressing, sterilising, nappies, sleepless nights, but I was enjoying spending time with them and admittedly probably enjoying H more as at 18 months, he was just so scrumptious and cute. Poor L would get lugged around to toddler groups and passed around from pillar to post for cuddles. We were lucky enough to have H in nursery two days a week when L was here, which meant I got two days to myself with her. 

When number two comes along, you have to adapt. I had to learn to relax a little (this was quite hard for me particularly as my husband says I’m borderline OCD!). Having two 17 months apart was about survival (still is!). I still throw a tantrum when the schedule gets too much, and go on a cleaning rampage whilst my husband looks on exasperated! I don’t think that will ever change. 

Second and Third Babies:

Most of my Mummy friends I made when H was a baby are on baby two as well so we are in the same boat (which often feels like we’re up the creek without a paddle). Other friends are starting their journey with baby number two (and in some cases two and three!), and I am left pondering whether we should have a third and pining for another round of baby days. My husband isn’t keen (and on the 9/10 days L doesn’t sleep, I don’t think I could cope either!), and I’m fairly sure my in laws would think we’d lost the plot. I think my desire for more babyiesncomes from a fear of our two growing up. I dread September 2018 as it seems so close, yet H seems too little to start school (how is it possible it’s happening so soon!). 

I’m one of three (the forgotten middle child), my sister has three, so it wouldn’t be surprising if a third came along. I love my two; I’m really not sure we’d ever have a third especially as we’re getting on a bit now (over the 30 hill, 33!) and I’m permanently shattered with just two, but I’d never say never. Hats off to those with three, you are superhuman.

Everyday is a Learning Curve:

I’m still learning how to be a good Mum to my two, and I shudder (panic) at the thought of my big one turning three in a couple of months and our ‘baby’ turning two in the autumn. Why does it have to go so fast!? I really didn’t wish away the baby days, but I felt like they the milestones whizzed by in the blink of an eye (another reason I’d love a third, to relish the baby stage just one last time).

This made me giggle, although this is my life ALL the time!

What we’ve learned (so far) when parenting two, it’s ok if:

1. Your kids eat soil (yes both mine have done this and the pink one is very partial to a mouthful of soil)

2. Your kids eat cereal for dinner. 

3. You let them watch the iPad/tv for 20 minutes so you can drink a HOT drink or go to the toilet in peace (FYI: I don’t spent 20 minutes in the toilet!)

4. For your house NOT to be showhome ready all the time (or never!)

5. You have a bad day and feel a bit crap or like you’re not good enough. That right there means you have done a great job because you CARE. 

6. They eat ‘beige’ food. 

7. Not to care about washing your hair anymore, dry shampoo all the way or in my case, do neither!

8. To go out in snot covered jumpers/clothes. 

9. To ONLY wear jeans to go out in public, I’m all about the lounge pants!

10. Well, you can add your own one here…

P.S I’m pretty sure the husband doesn’t read my blog, but if he pours himself a LARGE whiskey tonight I’ll be certain he does read it and has read the comment about having a third!!

P.P.S Turns out, the husband does read my blog and has commented that he would ‘self vasectomise’ (yes he used this very term!) if we had a third child! Ha ha

Birth Stories

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how lucky you are when you get bogged down with the day to day slog. I, for one, am so so grateful to have been blessed with my two beautiful children and I thank my lucky stars everyday that they’re safe and well. But there is that odd occasion (60% of the time) when it’s 1am, and I have to be up for work at 6am, I wish the pink one would just go to sleep!

It amazes me how each and every one of my friends has a totally unique birth story, all different from the last, yet they’re all still precious because no matter how ‘it’ happened, it’s how we came to meet the wonderful little people who stole our hearts at first sight.
Now, I think I am one of those weird people who actually enjoy labour and delivery (although I hated pregnancy!). There is no better feeling than winning the race and getting your prize: the gorgeous little bundle you spent 9 months training for (well 40 weeks is actually 10 months but no one tells you that!). And us women all LOVE a good birth story. And I, am afraid, no different, I love hearing about people’s birth stories. Whether it be a quick labour, a lengthy labour, sweeps, flat tyres on route to hospital (yes, this actually happened to my good friend!), relaxing water births, hypnobirthing or a caesarean, your birth story is something to be proud of and embrace (even if it wasn’t what you had planned) because it is how you met your beautiful baby or babies.

With my first, I had quite a long labour and I don’t think I was quite prepared for how to deal with labour and wanted to lie down or float in the birthing pool, but my body wasn’t keen and consequently made my labour last hours and hours. For some reason my contractions were pretty strong and close together yet it took about 15hrs to go from 4-6cm. I enjoyed being in the birthing pool as it was relaxing, but I wasn’t progressing, so the midwife made the decision to move me to another room , by this point I was so out of it on gas and air that I didn’t care ( I think I passed out at one point!). Within an hr I was fully dilated and exhausted and in a position I hated, but too exhausted to move. I pushed and I pushed and finally, after an agonising (literally) 24hours, our little H had arrived and despite it all being a bit of a car crash down there and me feeling (and looking) like I’d been in a car crash, we had this gorgeous little bundle, weighing 6lb 8oz.

Little H; 10th May 2014, 1.02am, 6lb 8oz

 

Our second little bundle, who arrived just 17 months later; well she was a totally different story. I had measured small all the way through my pregnancy as I had with her brother (I must say that my wonderful community midwife, Alison, whom I was lucky enough to have through both pregnancies was so so thorough and for that I am truly grateful). At 37.5 weeks, I went for my last appointment with the midwife before what I hoped would be birth at 40 weeks, and again I measured small.

I managed to rejig some work commitments to attend what I thought was going to be another routine growth scan, I came away from the hospital late on Friday night being told to come back the following day for a sweep (I’d managed to convince the midwife I was wholly ill prepared for the arrival of No 2 and staved off the sweep for 18hrs). So I drove home in a daze thinking about how both the Moses basket and car seat where still in the garage unwashed. Yikes!

So at 38 weeks, I toddled off to the maternity ward, via Mothercare for some ‘tiny baby’ babygrows knowing the car seat covers and Moses basket sheets were drying on the line! A sweep (these aren’t that pleasant at the best of times, and at 38 weeks I wasn’t disappointed) and some monitoring later I was on my way home safe in the knowledge that if nothing happened overnight I would be induced the following day.

Despite the midwife insinuating I would go into labour overnight, I awoke as usual, still pregnant and no labour pains at all. So after breakfast we all went for a long walk, what would be our last as a threesome.

After lunch, I phoned the maternity ward and dutifully turned up to be induced at 4pm on Sunday night. My husband joined me later on around 7pm and nothing much was happening and at 10pm I sent him home. By midnight, my contractions had picked up and I was pacing the corridor to entertain myself. At 2am, the midwife came back to monitor me and I must say being monitored lying down in full blown active labour is horrific. She had barely strapped me up and my waters broke and in ran about 3 other midwives. I was measured at 7cm, so I quickly rang my husband mid contraction ordering him to come back now as, and I quote ‘it was getting pretty bad now’. I made the call at 2.30am, and I was wheeled round to delivery. I climbed on the bed, had one puff of gas and air and with the next contraction, L arrived at 2.42am. And my husband leisurely strolled in around 2.55am! Our beautiful baby girl, a petite 5lb 8oz was here and perfectly healthy if a little dinky.

Tiny L; 5th October 2015, 2.42am, 5lb 8oz

 

So, whether your birth was exactly what you’d imagined or far from it, be proud of what you achieved and every time you have a day that is less than desirable, just look at your gorgeous little bundles sleeping or playing with their sibling or just being ‘them’.

Review of Eastbank, Ballater

Wow, what a cottage!

If you ever venture to the Highlands for a Scottish break, then look no further. Eastbank in Ballater is by far one of the most superior holiday cottages we have ever stayed in. A beautiful log burner, thoughtful family touches, lovely garden, gated driveway, car port and only a short walk to the town where there is a good array of shops, cafes and a supermarket.


The cottage happily sleeps 6 adults in 2 double rooms (one ensuite) and a twin room, however, each bedroom has their own bathroom.

Downstairs, there is a beautifully laid out conservatory, gorgeous dining room (although we made that a no go room for our littles), a lovely office area, a twin bedroom and the lounge. Both the lounge and conservatory have Sky tv packages and there is wifi throughout the house. But by far, the pièce de résistance is the kitchen…

….the kitchen was like my dream kitchen! Farmhouse style, butler sink and the most wonderful Aga. I have never cooked on an Aga before, but it was wonderful and the dog certainly enjoyed sleeping in front of it in the evenings. The breakfast bar was also a fab addition and our son enjoyed sitting there having his breakfast in the mornings. Fresh eggs delivered each week and a lovely loaf of bread and bottle of wine to enjoy for our arrival. And I’ve saved the best bit until last…THE PANTRY!

I was green with envy when I opened the doors to the pantry.  So cleverly set back into the wall and better stocked than my own cupboards at home. Amazing!

The cottage is stunningly beautiful and you’ll be hard pushed to find any faults (I’m yet to find one!) and so ideally placed for a wonderful Highland getaway. Things to do nearby are:

  • Craigendarroch Hotel (1 mile)
  • Ballater Golf Course (1 mile)
  • Balmoral Castle (7 miles, Apr-Jul)
  • Royal Lochnagar Distillery (8 miles)
  • Braemar Castle (16 miles, Apr-Oct)
  • Spittal of Glenshee for skiing (31 miles
  • Aviemore (51 miles)

And plenty more as you are right in the middle of the stunning Cairngorms.
Jerry and Joss have made their family home into a 5* holiday cottage and when we next travel to the Highlands, we will definitely look it up again!

Disclaimer: a big thank you to Jerry and Joss for allowing us to unleash 2 toddlers and a dog into their family home, we had a thoroughly fabulous time. All words and opinions are my own.

Scottish Adventures: Part Two

Gorgeous weather, Castles, fussy eating, bamboozelling, night time monkeying around, Scottish edibles, and family adventures. Wowzers, it has all been going on this week!

Fussy Eating

Both my children have been through and still go through fussy eating phases. Currently, it’s the big one and it is so so draining. We deploy all the ‘bad parenting’ tricks in the book to get H to eat. He can never sit still for longer than 30mins and often gets up from the table mid meal. It’s taken me such a long time to get over my children missing a meal and telling myself ‘they’ll eat when they’re hungry’. It can be so frustrating sometimes when you prepare wholesome food for them and they don’t eat any of it, yet they eat all their food (and often seconds) at nursery. This week has been testament to that and I’m ashamed to say H (and consequently L) have eaten ‘beige’ food a lot more than usual this week. My saving grace for H is that he devours fruit and so I hope he gets some vitamins.  Anyone else have a fussy eater? What tricks do you use to get them to eat? 

Night Time Monkeying Around

Both H and L have tested mine and Stew’s patience this week. We’ve had every trick in the book from H: snuggles, stories, snacks, clean nappy, you name it we’ve had it. I find it hard to resist when he asks for a snuggle as I love having a cuddle just H and I, but I have to drawer the line sometimes and camp outside his room checking social media until he gives in and stays in bed.

L on the other hand is definitely a night owl. She goes to sleep (usually) straight away and wakes up around 10pm, my particular favourite time is at exactly the same time as my foot touching the bottom step as I trudge upstairs exhausted after a day at work and catching up on school work of an evening. We are regular co sleepers as it’s a quick and easy solution for us to actually get enough sleep to function! A bad habit to have gotten into, but the simplest and easiest solution. She can sleep through, and when she does it’s usually twice in a row and then not again for another 4-6 weeks. We had a sleep through on Thursday night, so that should be us now until at least March! Do you have sleep issues? How do you try and combat them? 


Scottish Edibles

Having never really visited Scotland until I met my husband, we’ve been quite a few times over the years as he is of Scottish Heritage. Since our visits, I’ve come quite partial to some Scottish delicacies. I do love some good honey, haggis, neeps and tatties, butteries, potato scones and our favourite is a steak pie from the bakery in Ballater. The one thing I have never gotten into though is whiskey; we did a tour of the Glenlivet distillery some years ago, but I spent the whole hour holding my breath as much as I could as the smell made my stomach churn, but my husband loves some whiskey and we picked up some Royal Lochnagar Whiskey this trip. What are your favourite holiday treats? 

Family Adventures

Landmark Adventure Park is somewhere my husband frequented every summer on his family trips to Scotland as a child, so we decided to take a trip over there for the day. Sadly, on arrival we learned all the play areas were closed (which was a shame as we’d driven an hour), but the ‘Bamboozeleum’ was still open, so we paid £6 to go in. H and L thought it was great fun, and Stew and I had fun messing in the funny mirrors and playing with the illusion pictures. My particular favourite was the weird hand grabber illusion…

L loves a good mirror and ever since Christmas, H loves some sparkly lights! There were crazy mirrors, sparkly lights, illusion pictures, an interactive floor tv, and some other pretty cool bits. We then went on a red squirrel hunt on the wooden walkway. Definitely worth a trip, and we’d go back when it’s fully open next time we’re in the Motherland.

After our jaunt up Craigendarroch Hill and trip to Landmark, H was quite tired so we decided a bit of a lazy day was in order, so we went for a walk around Ballater and visited the sweet shop and the park. The park is actually brand new after ‘Storm Frank’ caused a lot of flood damage back in December 2015. Both H and L enjoyed a run around and H especially enjoyed looking through the ‘telescooter’ (telescope).

L’s first flump, and H exploring the park

H was wanting a visit to a castle, so not wanting to disappoint; we popped to Balmoral, the Queens Summer Residence. Sadly she wasn’t there to say ‘hi’ nor was the castle open to visitors, but we did manage a walk round the village of Easter Balmoral and up a hill for some lunch which gave a beautiful view of the castle on what turned out to be a beautiful Scottish spring day. We sat overlooking the castle scoffing our steak pie from Chalmers bakery (Prince Charles’s favourite bakery).

On our way back down we searched for pine cones, squirrels, diggers and tractors. On our way back south 🙁 we stopped in to H and L’s Great Aunt in Braemar on what was yet another gorgeous spring day and popped to Braemar Castle for a sneaky peak and then had lunch in the ‘Bothy’ in Braemar. We even managed to see a red squirrel!

The long drive south was much less eventful for the kids. They napped until Johnstonebridge where we stopped for dinner and then watched the iPad for the last hour before we handed them over to Nanna and Grandad so we could enjoy a peaceful cuppa!

The River Dee; Looking for the Queen; Tree peeping; Cheeky grins; Balmoral Castle; Braemar Castle; Shadows; Lunch; View admiring.

Scotland, it has been a blast and we will most certainly be back, until next time!

Scottish Adventures: Part One

Driving – 11th February

After a mammoth car journey (6hrs driving with a 2yr old and a 1yr old!). We finally arrived at our Scottish destination, a beautiful cottage in the heart of Ballater. A quick dash to the supermarket and had a pizza for dinner.

Relaxing in the evening, I sat and contemplated how one can ‘best’ prepare for a journey of that length with 2 toddlers and a dog! Top Tips and Top Don’ts from us below:



How to Survive a Long Car Journey with Kids:
Top Tips

1. Download ALL the episodes of anything and everything you think your littles will watch on Netflix (yes, you can now download and watch later with no wifi on Netllll, who knew!)

2. Pack EVERY snack under the sun and chuck them into the back at the first hint of a whinge.

3. Make sure you have the dummy and/or comforter and a back up dummy or comforter.

4. Have adequate tunes for the journey, and by this, I obviously mean a nursery rhymes CD (kill me now!). I have no idea how they know, but as soon as you even try to flick to anything remotely close to being in the Top 40, they demand ‘my songs’!

5. Take a pack up tea for when you arrive otherwise you’ll face a fraught ‘quick shop’ where you will buy a bunch of food you don’t need in a frantic bid for a quick and peaceful dinner.


What Not To Do (Tried and Tested by us!)

1. Don’t pack just one measly snack per child; thank goodness for my Mum who baked us a box of cookies and absolutely saved my bacon. Half the box was gone before we’d even crossed the border!!

2. Don’t got without a pack up lunch,  which will mean you will stop at services and pay ridiculously high prices for mediochre food and drink, and whilst you  try to eat them, the bigger one will charge around like a nutter and NOT eat the sandwich you paid £3+ for.

3. Forget a pack up dinner, so will end up doing a mad dash to the supermarket for dinner and breakfast provisions as naturally the following day is Sunday and everything will be shut!

However, despite the lengthy journey and crazy 2hrs frantically trying to unpack the car, shopping and put everything away, we managed to get both kiddies off to bed around 7.30pm and instead of working like I usually would during the school term time or watching tv, I actually sat down to read my book. The second of what I hope to be a series of 12 in my #ayearinbooks2017 challenge. It was blissful! And the cottage is gorgeous!



Hill Walking – 12th February

After a somewhat challenging morning, trying to get the children to eat breakfast, shower, chase the children round the house, we made it out of the house at what I thought must have been close to 10am, when in actual fact it was 8.50am!! (we usually struggle to get out of the house by10am on a weekend, so this is some kind of record!) I thought we were going for a walk round Ballater and perhaps to the park; but no, we ended up hiking up a hill with both kids in tow.

Daddy carrying L in the backpack and holding the dog lead and me in charge of H. The hill was a 15 minute walk away from the cottage, but onwards and upwards (literally). It was a bit rough going for the first 10 minutes or so (H kept saying ‘it’s too slippery for me’) until we found the easier circular route, and thankfully by this time H was really getting into it and L was just starting to not get into it…..but we soldiered on. As we reached the peak (a whopping 315m), the snow got slightly thicker, but the sun was out. By this point, L had reached the end of her tether so we let her loose at the top along with her brother and the dog. A quick snack and we were soon on our way again with an even whingier L…..

We marched down as fast as we could trying to laugh about walking along with an overtired, crying 1 yr old, which is actually quite loud when she’s in a backpack! At the bottom, her brother decided he was too tired to walk anymore and needed a cuddle (his clever way of being carried). So we swapped over and I carried Chief Whinger and Daddy had H on his shoulders. We took a minor detour (aka wrong turn!) at the bottom but made it home in time for lunch: Scottish potato scones and cheesy beans, yum.


After lunch, Daddy and I were counting down the minutes until nap time; how am I going to survive when they don’t nap!? An hour later and the ‘sanity saver’ had arrived (Alleluia!) and I even managed a 10 minute zizz myself. Phew.

Stay tuned for some more Scottish Adventures….and hopefully some snow!

Comment with your top tips or top don’ts for long car journeys with children.

The ‘Mumchat’

Have you or do you have a ‘Mumchat‘? By Mumchat,  I refer to a chat or sometimes a group chat with friends which is often a brazen, to the point conversation with a general theme of TMI and/or overshare on topics not usually voiced in front of the general public. Whether it be about damaged body parts, leaky boobs, a POO-nami, or just good old embarrassing supermarket toddler tantrum. It is surprising what suddenly becomes acceptable chat when you become a Mum.

I know I had absolutely no qualms about sharing stories about stitches, cracked nipples, anecdotes from sharing an induction room (FYI: the curtain does not soundproof your farts!), the enormous amount of maternity (fanny pads) and breast pads you get through (I could have set up a trust fund with the amount I spent on those things!), and I proudly sent friends pictures of my first 30ml of expressed breast milk on day three like I’d pumped out actual liquid gold!

Mumchat isn’t just birth stories and embarrassing moments with the kids; yes, I’m talking about when your little cherub becomes ‘that child’ in public (i.e Next) and it takes you and your Mum five minutes to force a rigid 18month old into the pushchair through fits of giggles! ‘Mumchat’ is the lighthearted banter with a hint of brazen filth that can often rescue you from a stressful day, cabin fever or your sanity especially if you are already on your third episode of everybody’s favourite pig or incompetent postman and it’s not even breakfast time yet. So, go on, start that Mumchat….

I’m blogging……….

So here it goes….I already enjoy reading a plethora of Mummy bloggers, and have decided to jump into the unknown (well for me anyway).  After searching around, and annoying one of my oldest friend (http://www.hayleyfromhome.co.uk) to within an inch of her patience, I have decided to go for it!?! ‘Adventures With One Of Each’ is my new blog.  A snapshot into family adventures, random ramblings, and probably a constant stream of photos of my little cherubs (H and L). I hope you enjoy some lighthearted reading now and again and hopefully a giggle or two!