Sunday, 30 March 2014

Year of Giving - Mummy March

It's Mummy March!

I am really enjoying my Year of Giving so far. I love planning who to surprise and this month I have decided to make it around the theme of Motherhood. I have a lot of friends who are either pregnant or who have recently had babies. It's a really tough time whether you are carrying your child on the inside, in your arms as a baby or on your hip as a toddler. Unhelpfully, children do not arrive with a manual or a how to guide and it's not always rosy, especially in the early days. I thought of a few mums in my life that I felt needed an extra boost and set about my scheming.

Feeding New Mums


My first gift was to my friend Paula who has just recently had a beautiful baby boy. One of my happiest memories as a new mum was when my friend Christine visited me after the birth of JC and brought with her a delicious home cooked meal. I had been living on tea, cold toast and biscuits so this gesture really meant a lot to me. I decided to do the same for Paula and when I went over for a cuddle with Joshua I brought with me some of my homemade stew, mashed potatoes and veg. I also arranged for COOK Morningside to deliver 8 meals to their house the following week to keep their freezer well stocked. This means that she can have a night off from cooking each week for the next 8 weeks.












Pampering Pregnant Ladies
My other charge this month was my cousin Leanne. She is due a baby in June and is getting to that fed up third trimester stage. She has been really tired and run down lately. She is doing so well though as she has a 3 year old and looks after her 2 year old nephew a few days through the week too. I decided to give her a wee pamper kit. I drew together a few bits and bobs such as shortbread (her favourite), a magazine, bump cream, peppermint cooling spray for tired legs, some nice shower gel and a calming reed diffuser. I popped it all in a gift bag and surprised her after nursery. Leanne is a salt of the earth kind of person. She would really do anything for you and always goes the extra mile for others, expecting very little in return.


Babysitting Service
Sometimes it's the gesture that means more than the gift. My friend Laura has 2 beautiful twin girls but getting out for the night without them can prove difficult. Laura's mum did a lot of childcare for her but she lost her fight to cancer just prior to Christmas. Laura was telling me how she had taken the girls and her hubby out for dinner but had to leave after the starters as the girls were a bit unsettled. I remember this stage well. In fact, on Christmas Eve the same thing happened to me. We went for dinner in a lovely Mexican restaurant. It wasn't lovely. Jamie cried from the moment we got there and John wouldn't stay in his seat. We rushed down our food as quickly as we could and left with me in tears. I think that Laura deserves a bit of chill time so I have gifted her my babysitting services for the evening to let them go for dinner together without the girls.

Preloved Rehomed
The last instalment of giving is something I think most mums are good at. Rehoming the old baby stuff you no longer need. I know that Jamie is my last baby so there is no need to hold on to things like clothes that were never or barely worn. I have bagged up my newborn clothes to give to my sister's friend Holly who is due her baby in the next month. I am also planning to give away my baby books to Homestart Lochgelly (a local branch of the charity that supports mums with kids under 5) as my boys outgrow them. I used my commission from selling Usborne books to buy £200 worth of new books for Homestart this month and the rest of my commission has funded the gifting this month.


Being a mother is one of the most demanding jobs and like most vocations it doesn't come well paid. You end up working your holidays and you are emotionally invested and on call 24/7. You can't take a sick day without feeling guilty and sometimes your efforts are not appreciated to the degree they should be. Motherhood doesn't come with a manual. Even on your best day you can still feel like you are failing. It's not without its benefits though. The smile of recognition when they see you enter the the room. The way they stretch their arms up to you to be lifted. The way they cling to you when feel hurt or upset. The way they curl their finger round your thumb when they are feeding. They way their little heads always smell so delicious. The way the look so peaceful and innocent when they sleep. The way they look at you with love in their eyes when you see them performing in their nursery show. The way the run to you and wrap themselves around you after 2 hours of separation like it has been forever. Its not always the easiest job but it is definitely the most inexplicably rewarding.

Happy Mother's Day
xoxo

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Easter Eggs for Grown Ups

I am a lover of Easter eggs. I've always thought that the chocolate at this time of year just tastes different or better somehow. When I was asked if I would like to review an Easter egg for Hotel Chocolat I didn't hesitate in saying yes. Every year I am normally dieting on the run up to Easter with it being around my birthday and I normally warn my family not to buy me an egg. It has been a few years since I have had my own Easter egg. 

When I received this beautifully presented package through the post,  
I knew it was going to be something special from the moment I opened it. Not only was it in a cute little gift bag but it was also not your average Easter egg. (The wine was not included, that was just my little treat to myself!)



This chocolatey take on egg and chips was a thrill to my taste buds. I loved the quirkiness of the idea but I loved the taste even more. It was deliciously chocolatey but without being sickly. The egg is made from a creamy white chocolate with vanilla seed and the yolk is a creamy caramel. One thing I do like about the brand Hotel Chocolat is their strive to have more cocoa and less sugar, making their chocolate better quality and better for your waistline and health. Going on pure taste alone, I have no negative comments to make, it was simply delicious. 
 
This chocolate gift is priced at £14 which seems a bit steep but when you compare it to what you would pay for the equivalent sized chocolate egg for a less than equivalent quality of chocolate, there is really no competition. 

I would highly recommend that you check out their range of Easter Eggs for the chocolate lovers in your life. 

disclaimer: i received the above chocolately goodness free to sample and review. All thoughts and opinions are unbiased and my own. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sweet Soup!

Due to their sweet tooth (probably inherited from me) both my boys were not overly enamoured with veg purées at the start of weaning hence the quick move to finger foods and self feeding. Soup was always the best way to get the veggies in. They both like it served with chunky bread or pitta. They are also known for dipping the occasional rice cake into their soup. I tried out a new soup this morning. I am usually a recipe follower but this is one I can lay claim to as my own concoction! It is deliciously sweet and creamy but easily made dairy free by using almond milk. Both my boys gobbled it up and I had thirds seconds. Enjoy ;)



Parsnip, Leek and Apple Soup

500g Parsnips
1 onion
1 large leek
1 apple
1 tbsp olive oil
500-700g vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Sprinkling of thyme (fresh preferably, dried will do)
Pepper
60ml milk/almond milk

  1. Prepare the vegetables – Parsnips peeled and chunked, Onion peeled and diced, Leek washed, trimmed and sliced, Apple peeled, cored and diced.
  2. Sauté the onion and leek in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft, stirring regularly to avoid browning.
  3. Add the parsnips, apple, vegetable stock, thyme, pepper and bay leaf.
  4. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat to simmer. Leave for 15 mins or until the parsnips are soft.
  5. Remove from the heat. Add the milk and purée.
  6. If you want to be a fancy pants you could add some of the lighter sliced leeks as a garnish!
  7. Serve with some crispy wholemeal bread. Delicious! 
(Adults could add salt and pepper to theirs according to tastes) 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Baby Led Weaning - A Typical Week



When I started this blog, the main purpose was to write about my adventure with weaning and specifically, Baby Led Weaning. I have been posting pictures of my Laid Back Boy self feeding and eating his solids on Facebook and I have had a few comments and messages from people who are welcoming these photos as they give them inspiration and ideas.

When I first started weaning with JC, I sought help and advice from one of my friends who had already been through this phase with her daughter and had great success. We discussed typical menus and what to feed when out and about and this was really helpful to me. I also invested in a cook book (I chose to buy Gill Rapley's Baby Led Weaning Cookbook, and no this isn't a sponsored post!) Before JC, I couldn't even make soup. I had no experience of cooking and what I did cook was pretty rubbish. I found that by sharing ideas with others and picking up a basic cookbook really helped me. When JC moved on from weaning and I grew in confidence with cooking, I bought a new cookbook called My Daddy Cooks, or as I like to call it, my saviour. This is written by a stay at home Dad and is just perfect for quick and easy family meals. He has a new book coming out soon (4th June 2014) and I can't wait to buy it!



So in the spirit of sharing ideas, here is our menu for the week. Our whole family will eat the same thing (give or take a few minor differences like cows milk, real butter and tomato sauce! It is designed to be varied within the constraints of my maternity pay budget and quick/easy to prepare with a 3 year old running around under my feet. Although not always listed here, I would try to offer a savoury followed by or accompanied with fruit. This is a contentious subject as people differ in their opinions on fruit and sugar etc but this is my choice and I am not a nutritionist. I am not advising here, merely showing an example of a typical week in our kitchen. I offer cooled boiled water from a cup with every meal and he still takes 2 7oz dairy free bottle feeds and 3 breastfeeds each day. The recipes for many of these can be found in the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook although I change and adapt them to suit myself now. I hope you find these helpful . . .


Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Monday
Porridge (not the baby stuff, real oats) and mashed blueberries. (Loaded spoons)
Lentil and Vegetable soup with bread dippers
Grandad Kevy’s Homemade Burgers with carrot sticks
Tuesday
Scrambled Eggs and strips of toast with pure spread
Tuna Croquettes, green beans and carrot batons
Beef and Onion Stew and Mashed potato
Wednesday
Dairy free Eggy Bread and tropical fruit salad
Lentil and Vegetable soup with bread dippers
Chicken Salad
Thursday
Drop Scones (like pancakes but thicker) and melon strips
Tuna Croquettes, baby corn, broccoli
Meatballs in Tomato sauce and  spaghetti
Friday
Porridge (not the baby stuff, real oats) with apple and cinnamon puree. (Loaded spoons)
Sardines on toast
Fresh fruit and soy yogurt
Bacon Wrapped Chicken with broccoli
Saturday
Egg and soldiers (Pure spread)
Pear strips
Tuna mayo pasta 
Meat Loaf with broccoli and carrots
Sunday
Drop Scones (like pancakes but thicker) and mango strips
Lentil and Vegetable soup with bread dippers
Roast Chicken Dinner
 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Random Kindness - February Facebook Friends

I know this is March but February was a blur! I have decided not to make this a linky since nobody is linking anyway. Here is my Kindness/Year of Giving post for February. 



February was all about friends for me. I met up with lots of my friends as many of them had agreed to have book parties for me. It was lovely getting out (with and without the boys) and reconnecting with people. I decided that for my February Gift Giving I would choose somebody from my Facebook friends list to surprise. I was watching my feed and one of my friends, who I haven't seen for many years, was posting a fair bit about February being dreary and miserable. She was longing for some sunshine in her life.

I went to school with Clair and we knew each other well. We were not overly close friends but we always had plenty of time for each other at school. We both started off at the same uni before Clair left to move to Australia. We lost touch I suppose somewhere along the line until one day, a Facebook request from her popped up. We got chatting and she was back here in Scotland, she had a little girl and was living with her partner (now husband). Over the next few years she and I both went on to give birth to handsome boys. We have since bonded over topics of conversations such as grazed nipples and nursery etiquette. She has been inspirational to me by watching her shrink in size over the past year with the help of Slimming World.

Despite her moans and groans about February being a rubbish month, I chose Clair as my person this month because she is an inspiring person. She hasn't had an easy time of things but yet she remains a positive person. She strives for the best for her family and is headstrong. She is a fiercely loyal friend and is compassionate, always seeking to see the best in others. She has been there for me through many an upset status! I have to admit that turning up on her doorstep last Thursday was a bit nerve racking. Despite all our chat and insight into each others lives through Facebook, we are not the little girls we were at school. I hadn't seen her in person since around 2001.

I needn't have worried. She welcomed me with a hug and the conversation soon flowed. I had brought her an Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatters Tea Party picture (lovingly handcrafted by the lovely Jo from Tinkability Crafts). I know she likes this kind of thing as her 30th Birthday theme was Mad Hatters Tea Party. I hope she likes it and I hope that when she looks at it hanging on her wall she is reminded of me and how friendships can be fluid. They are not a solid, unchangeable state. They develop and grow with nurture like flowers in a garden. Some flowers in your garden of friends will be precious and beautiful for a short time but die out with little hope of renewed growth. Some are weeds that you should really clear out. Some are annoying bushes that need little maintenance to survive but can take over your life if not cutback regularly. Others, like my friendship with Clair, are hardy perennials that will continue to thrive with the right amount of care and the right amount of sunshine. I hope that I have brought her some sunshine in this rather dreary February.  

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Random Acts of Kindness - January

Well at the start of the year I laid out my plans for a kinder 2014 and what a month it has been.

For my first act of kindness I decided to send a copy of my favourite weaning book to a friend of mine, Carrie, who has just embarked on this magical journey. She has been sending me supportive messages throughout my pregnancy and since Jamie was born. She had asked me for my advice on weaning just before Christmas so I knew it was something she would be receptive to (some people may find being sent a parenting type of book through the post a bit insulting) but she knows how much I loved the whole weaning process and I am just so desperate to share it. 





I also decided to treat my husband to a bit of random kindness. I often overlook him. He has stuck with me at times over the past few years when other men would've run a mile. He has been looking for a change of job for a while and he finally got one a lot closer to home. The night before his first day I put together a 'back to school' hamper for him with some essentials such as a few shirts, a jumper, a new tie, a manly packed lunch bag, water bottle, flask, some helpful post its, a notebook and pen. He was surprised I think and although he's the type of man who doesn't say much, I think he was touched.

I've also been on the receiving end of kindness this month too.

My sister Kate bought me a lovely bath bomb from Lush as she knows I'm finding it hard to make time for myself at the moment. She is my step sister and came into my life when I was 21 but I love her like she's always been around. She is quite a bit younger than me but I've watched her grow up a lot these past few years and she has really been there for me since Jamie was born. She gives up her Saturday nights after a long day at work to keep me company while my husband swans off to watch ice hockey. I hope she knows how much I appreciate her and I hope I can return the favour when I support her as her bridesmaid in the next few years.

I recently started selling Usborne books and some of my friends have been kind enough to host or attend parties to help me get started. Thank you so much xx

I parked in the car park at the cinema the other week, running late as usual, JC was excited to be having a mummy date. I got to the pay and display machine to put in my £1 for all day parking when I realised that my 10p and 5p collection in my purse only came to 95p.  How bloody typical! I went to walk away, my inner voice giving me a real good beating for being so late, disorganised and unprepared when a hand came from behind and slotted a pound coin into the machine.  A nice old lady had seen me struggling. She wouldn't take my 95p worth of dross! What a lovely example of a random act of kindness. 

My husband bought me these beautiful flowers this week, just because. 

Have you been kind this month? Has someone been kind to you? I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to link up below...




Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy 3rd Blogoversary

3 years! I can't believe that it has been three years since the birth of my Grumpinator Blog! What a journey we have been on together. Last year I did a round up of the year so I thought I would do the same this year. Thank you so much for supporting this blog by visiting, reading and commenting. Although I love writing, it just wouldn't be the same without an audience so thanks to all my readers!

January



In January I wrote a post about John Connor's toddler tantrums and the trials of being a working mummy. This was the month I found out I was pregnant so I was quite tired and ill for most of January. John Connor has made the months fly by during this pregnancy as I have been too busy dealing with him to focus every aspect of the pregnancy.









February


 I did the big I'm preggers announcement. We spent lots of family time together out on wintry walks and at the Fife Flyers Ice Hockey.  We love spending time together outdoors and I hope this is something we can do more of in 2014.

March 
I wrote about the trials of being pregnant. I don't do pregnant very well, it's really not enjoyable and I am glad that I will never be going through that again now that our family is complete! Both my boys were worth it though!

April 


This month saw me turn 30! Geez I feel old. I was so incredibly busy in April that it was the only month this year that I didn't actually manage a post! I was jetsetting to York with one of my best friends and to Benidorm for a hen weekend. It was a fab month and I was totally spoiled by friends and family. My husband took me to the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh for the night (a bucket list dream of mine!) and it was just perfect. I was too busy living to blog and I don't feel guilty for that!

It was also a month of extreme lows. My grandfather passed away, the first death in my immediate family and my friend's mum passed away the same week. It was a very emotional time for my family and I couldn't have got through it without the love and support of those around me.

I think at some point I should back blog this month because at the time it was just too raw.

May 


My dear husband joined the 30 club. I posted this blog post about my JC's conversation skills. He has a really good vocabulary and was/still is obsessed by dinosaurs. I wasn't sure what to tell him about great granddad. He has an interesting take on death as you can see from the video here, brings a tear to my eye. This was also the month of successful toilet training!


June 

 I wrote one of my most honest and raw posts in June about the fakeness of Facebook It certainly got the attention of my facebook followers and is the post I had the biggest response to this year. It was a pretty quiet month, getting sorted for my busy summer ahead and tying up loose ends at school.

July 


July saw me bravely go on two holidays abroad (Gran Canaria and Czech Rep). We had a fab time and it was lovely to spend some quality time together as a family of 3. The only post I wrote this month was a post about breastfeeding. Funnily enough, someone on my Facebook page found this photo highly offensive so just for their benefit I'm posting it again . . . Enjoy ;)
 August 

August saw my little Grumpinator turn 3 and start nursery. I was starting to gear up for the new arrival in September. In preparation I wrote a birth plan. It did actually all go to plan, just not as quickly as I would have liked!















September
 

I gave birth to my second beautiful boy, Jamie Alexander Douglas McLean. 10lb 8oz of gorgeousness. I didn't manage to give birth to him on Friday the 13th, missed it by a day! I think his blog name should be Laid Back JBoy because he is so calm and chilled!
October 


It was a pretty eventful birth story and it has taken me a while to recover from it. I am still dealing with issues surrounding the birth. I spent most of October in a haze! I'm dealing with PTSD from my post partum haemorrhage and I still don't like going in the shower. 3 months on and I'm still getting flashbacks, I'm hoping I can deal with that this coming year.









November 

I wrote about dealing with colic, bottle v breast and post natal depression. For some reason it seems to have a grip of me again but I'm getting there! I'm working through my anxieties and worries and I know there is a brighter tomorrow. It's even more difficult this time round as people look at me like I'm crazy. With John he was such a needy baby that everyone could understand my low mood but Jamie is so chilled that people question how I can possibly feel down. I know all this but I'm not in control of my emotions at the moment. It's like living with a black dog constantly circling round my ankles with it hackles up. I am trying to tame him.

December

It's Christmas!!! Jamie's first Christmas but a difficult time of year with a new baby. I blogged about my top five achievements of 2013, feelings about my post natal body and about my new Kindness Blog Hop I intend on starting in January.

I really wish that I had blogged about our Elf Buddy who stayed with us all of December as he was so entertaining! Another back blog I think!









It's been some year! I haven't blogged nearly as much as I would have liked and I hope to remedy that this year. I hope to have a bit more time to blog when Jamie starts playing more and needing less of me in the coming months. I'm not making resolutions this year but I am focussing on two words . . .

Positive
&
Calm 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!