Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that it’s a year full of love, health and happiness for you. We hope you’ve had a brilliant Christmas and Santa delivered everything you wished for. My two (and me) have been spoilt and got to spend some gorgeous time with our family too. We’re feeling blessed.
I have mixed feelings about 2021. I mean another covid year for a start, but it gave me my wonderful son. So who could be happy to say goodbye to newborn days, the new baby smell and all the newborn cuddles? But besides the loveliness, there’s been some moments I’m happy to be leaving behind in good ole ’21.
With January 1st comes the refreshed hope for the new year and version 6.8 of our best selves. And for the last few years I’ve not taken part. I’ve well and truly left the resolution making to the well meaning and permanently optimistic among us. I’ve honestly not made a single resolution, for at least three years, because I’ve given in to the forgone conclusion that by the 8th I’ll be no longer doing my best or chasing the resolution. On lucky years, I have probably last till about the 23rd of the month max, then those old habits have crept back in.
This year however, I thought I’d give a no spend January ago. Its only and month, that’s simply 31 days to not buy anything absolutely necessary. So here’s the plan. Pay the bills, meal plan and stick to a list for shopping, and anything apart from the essentials will be staying in the shops while my pennies stay firmly in my own pocket for a change. Anything saved from this endeavour will be planted into savings.
I intend to meal plan weekly, I’ll share my plans as I do them. They’ll be in keeping with slimming world and family friendly meals so I’ll link any borrowed recipes and share any I make up too. Weekends we will utilise local haunts and free things to do, packing picnics and snacks if the rain holds out or we find indoor picnic spots.
I’ll be plotting out my incoming and outgoings for the month with you, which I know will be tight as I’m currently on maternity pay, coming off that and going back to work which will leave me brassic for a week or two because where the mat pay stops and my wage starts there’s a lull in the middle. This will actually be the first time I’ve ever committed to a no spend month, and I know my bank account will be looking forward to it. I’ve always found money difficult to manage and talk about(I’ll go into why another time), but I’d really like to change that this year.
How about you? Will you join me? Have you done a no spend month before? Do you think I’ll stick it out?
Euan is sixteen weeks this week, and our breastfeeding journey started a few moments after he was born. It’s luckily been, after his initial weight loss, a pretty straightforward journey. Not that it particularly felt that way at the beginning.
I am, as you know a second time mum this time round but it made me none the wiser on breastfeeding. Delilah never took to it, she had a tongue tie and due to not holding out in fear of her losing too much weight I took to pumping and combi feeding for her. Pumping lasted 6 months and then it became too time consuming along with everything else I was trying to do at the time.
This time, I had read up a whole load, I was so much more determined and I knew it was a normal occurance for a newborn to lose some weight a few days after birth (because these are the things they don’t tell you before you have babies). Euan was pretty easy to latch, we didn’t struggle but despite this being the case and havijg our latch checked by every midwife we saw, he lost 9% of his birth weight over the first 2 weeks. We were referred to “the feeding team” who failed to help in the slightest, not even a phone call. It was suggested that I use formula to top up initially to get his weight in check, this bothered me no end. It was however the right thing to do for my boy to help him get started.
Along with pumping after every feed, topping him up with the expressed milk and one bottle of formula every day, we managed to get on track but the help and support was somewhat none existant. Hubs bought formula and heavily suggested to go that way too, which killed me inside even though I knew he meant well. Failure this time round was not so option in my head, so I battled it all. Even my grandmother who had 2 kids herself bluntly ask “why the bloody hell are you doing that?”. I’m still met with “well how long are you going to feed him” to which I now simply say un-flustered, “till he decides otherwise”.
Being stuck to the sofa for weeks with our newborn schedule was tiresome but I was so determined not to give into the formula pressure from all sides. I just knew it wasn’t the end of our journey, I knew formula wasn’t right for us. And because of that I will be forever proud of us for sticking with it, the lack of support has been the hardest thing to get through. For a community of midwives, Dr’s and health professionals I was perplexed at how easy it was for them to all say “formula” despite me being so avid about breastfeeding.
Dont get me wrong, I’m on the side of “fed is best” but I was 1000% sure I wanted to breastfeed my son, so the lack of guidance or help postpartum has been diabolical. Maybe it was just because of lockdown? Postpartum care in fact has been lacking. As an individual I’ve been lucky enough not to suffer with any baby blues or depression despite having a history of mental health issues, but one phone call asking “how are you” in regard to the purely physical aftermath is not enough.
Why are we not looking after new mams? The lack of care for us mums after this monumental change is possibly the most shocking thing. We’re checked up on at regular intervals over our pregnancy, yet as soon as baby is born we get one phone call and no further check ups. What has your experience been like with postpartum care? Was it the same as mine? What’s your postpartum story?
Going back to breastfeeding, we’ve hit leap 4 and I’m not going to lie I’m finding feedingbcrazy tiring. Euan constantly wants to be feeding. He will not nap and it’s so hard to put him down for even 5 mins. Trying to go for a wee holding a baby is all kinds of hard, pulling up your jeans after is beyond difficult. He naps on boob, as soon as he falls away I’ll try put him down but he will be right awake within seconds most of the time. Mix that with very nearly 4 year old who would like all the attention still, it’s been a rough leap so far. It seems delivery drivers always call when he needs feeding or mid feed too. Typical.
I’d just like to say, to mums (dads) all over, breastfeeding or not, well done! Parenting is hard. Bronze, silver, gold awards for breastfeeding boobies, higher awards or not at all, you are doing amazing things everyday just raising them little humans. As long as they’re loved, fed and cared for you are winning.
I’d love to hear your feeding stories, share them in the comments with us and know that this is a judgement free, safe space.
Hubs surprised us on Friday by having the day off work and we made the most of it.
We packed up the kids and headed straight for Bolton Abbey. We haven’t been in an age, and absolutely love it there. Delilah hasn’t been since she had just gone one, it was great to see her in the same spot a few years later along with her new baby brother too.
We quickly pre-booked parking for the Riverside carpark online because its pre-book only at the moment. Dumped the car and had lunch at the cafe. Delilah played on the pirate ship playground then we headed off into Strid Woods for a walk. There’s something about being in the woods and near water that’s so grounding. I really just feel like it’s so good for the soul, and if I could choose to live anywhere it would be close to the River Wharf. This stretch of the Yorkshire Dales is honestly my hearts home. It is so calming to me.
An ice cream for us and feed for Euan later we walked the other direction and headed up to the Abbey. Hubs wanted to do the stepping stones and after we explored the Abbey, he and Delilah gave them ago. Less than a minute in, and probably about 2 steps across Delilah got wet and Hubs ended up carrying her across. She is the most uncoordinated little person I’ve ever met; but all in her good spirit she thought it was funny and kicked off any water in daddy’s direction. They did get to the other side only to come back across the bridge so Delilah could feed the ducks with the crusts from the sandwiches we had saved.
Homeward bound, one hungry babe was treated to McDonald’s for tea. She scoffed the lot and then on reaching home way passed her normal bedtime passed out pretty soon after hitting the pillow which for anyone who knows Delilah is not normal. She’s a night owl which causes some bedtime issues occasionally.
Saturday morning brought a cake make for my niece. Well decorating it at least. My niece has an allergy to dairy, so ovbs I can make her a dairy free cake for her cake smash to celebrate her 1st birthday. For what ever the reason the dairy free “buttercream” was not cooperating in the slightest. I had bulges and setting issues all over the joint. No matter how much I smoothes and reset, remover and readjusted this cake was just not doing ad it was told. There was a point I was so worried it wasn’t going to turn out edible let alone photograph-able I text my sis to tell her. Anyway it turned out okay in the end, but by no means perfect. I think it just goes to show if you roll a cake in enough sprinkles really hard you can fix pretty much any issues. So here is wishing little A the happiest 1st birthday. We love you and can’t wait to celebrate with you this weekend coming.
Saturday evening brought movies on the projector after dark. It was just so nice to be sitting in the garden with the air getting cooler; film on, fire pit burning and a glass of wine in hand. Laterally the perfect at home date night even it was crashed by a tiny human who feeds on demand (constantly at the moment).
Sunday was salmon brunch and introducing Delilah to retro games on an emulator via the projector. She adored it. She’s a huge sonic fan, so having her play the game and see her excited little face was so good. She got so involved, jumping up and down and shouting at daddy to “whack it with the sword” when they were playing a fighting game. We only really got it out because we were expecting rain to be honest. It didn’t rain, but we had such a good Sunday we don’t regret a second.
How was your weekend? Do you plan in advance or are you like us and just wing it?
Making something seem the sweetest way to pass some abundant time during lockdown. If like me you’re totally sick of eating your baked good right now and do not want to put on another half pound, pound or hell even a stone, then might I suggest a treat for our four legged friends?
Dee and I make “Aro Doggie Biscuits”. Super simple, “easy squeezy peasy lemons” as Dee would say (then follow it up with “I’m a funny thing mummy” and a big cheesy grin on her darling face). There are only 4 ingredients (3 if you dont count water) and super great for little ones to help you out with or just take over till its time for popping them in the oven. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found online, if I can find the link again I will post the original.
1 & 1/2 cups of Plain Flour
2 tbsp of peanut butter (optional)
Water enough to form a dough
You guessed it, combine all the dry ingredients till thoroughly combined. Add in the peanut butter and tablespoons of water until it forms a soft (but not sticky) dough. We used our hands but feel free to use a dough hook in a mixer or a fork or spoon or whatever is to hand. I ain’t prescriptive about these things.
Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and then use a cutter to make small shapes. If you have no cutter, just get creative, use your hands and make little shapes that way. On a lined tray, bake for around 12-15 minutes at about 180. Perfect little treats, made by you for your furry friends.
How simple right? A tiny activity to get on with in lockdown. That’ll take up at least half an hour (including the washing up).
I hope the majestic floof in your life enjoys as much as Aro Doggy does.
This is my plan for a mini spa evening. Little one will be in bed, I’ll be turning on the shower and getting my mini home made spa treatments going. I can not stress to you how important it is to take time out for yourself. Especially at the moment when there is an endless pile of washing up, clothes washing, cooking, cleaning, entertaining small ones and yourself. It is paramount. Give my little home spa treatments ago and invest some time on yourself.
First thing is first, grab everything you need and shut the bathroom door. No distractions, you deserve your full attention. Get the shower on; as hot as possible and create some steam. This will help open up your pores and let which ever products you use do their magic. My essentials for locking myself in my steamed up bathroom are; some icy water (add in some fruit or cucumber, mint if you have it), body brush, body scrub, razor, shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, face mask, hair brush or comb, body lotion/cream (your favourite, this is about what you like).
My recipe for body scrub is super simple and just below, but if you have your preferred which you use anyway, go with what makes you happy. First get your hair mask on. Give it enough time to soak up into your hair and do what it’s supposed to do. Time is the essence with this my lovelies. Spend the time on yourself, you owe yourself.
Let’s talk body brushing! I love my body brush. I aim to use it every time I shower or take a bath. Mainly on legs, but I’ve been using it over my entire body these days. The benefits of body brushing are endless, but to name a few; Exfoliation, getting rid of the dead skin cells that build up between showers is a really good idea if you want to have glowing skin. Dead skin cells make you skin look dull, and not one person I know wants that. Also supposed to be good for cellulite, I’m sceptical about this but it certainly dose promote blood flow to the area you are brushing. Ergo no downsides, in my opinion at least. Brush upwards, make you sure you are brushing towards your heart. Keep sipping that icy water.
Get your scrub on, but firstly turn down the shower. Hot water, as good as it feels aint all that for your hair; and that comes next so get prepared! Exfoliation is amazing, and with my DIY super simple body scrub you just have no excuse not to scrub your pins. The simplest recipe ever. 2 part granulated sugar to 1 part coconut oil. The coconut oil should be liquid form, I normally melt mine quickly but gently on the hob, but if you don’t have coconut oil, try olive oil its great for your skin. Mix thoroughly, and let cool. When you’re ready to use, slather your legs in it. Work it in to your skin in circular motions and then rinse off under a warm shower (not hot), before shaving your pins to leave them gloriously smooth.
Hair pep. Get under the warm (not hot, warm is better for your hair) shower and soak your hair and shampoo your roots, not your tips – just your roots. This will clean your scalp and save you drying out your ends. I’ve switched my products recently to a natural product. I’ve really enjoyed using it so far and its paraben and sulphate free. It’s good for the curly girl method which ive been doing for about 6 weeks now, it’s a work in progress but my hair seems to have improved in texture already, so my current method is based on my findings (if you like) so far. Remember, just your roots, not your lengths or tips. Same for conditioner. Use it like a wash, only on your roots and leave it in for the suggested time. When you rinse the product out the water will help work it through the rest of your hair, it is your scalp that needs the attention. While you’re waiting for the conditioner to do its thing use your fave body wash. Rinse that wash off and as you do use either a comb or your fingers to untangle your mane and rinse your conditioner out.
Before jumping out of the shower, when your hair is still sopping wet run a little leave in conditioner through your lengths and tips. Do not get close to your scalp, if you do you’ll most likely be oily before the drying process is out let alone the day. Squeeze out the water with your hands and t-shirt dry your hair. Yes, you read right, use an old t-shit. It is less harsh on your hair. Towels create frizz; they are simply too rough, and no matter your style -curly, straight, wavy or coiled no one wants the frizz. I ‘plop’ my hair at this point after some scrunching with curling creams and gels (curly girl method – post for another day), but get it off your face regardless of the method your using and apply your face mask. I’m using Garnier’s moisture bomb sheet mask at the moment which I have on subscription through amazon. I buy two a month, so aim to do one every other week. This one is really hydrating, but feel free to use your fave or get creative and make one.
Enjoy your face mask and as you do smother your body in lotion or body butter as soon as you can to lock in the moisture from your shower. When your face mask timer is up, rub in the remaining serum if there is any and get a toner on your skin; again to lock in the moisture. Running theme here, but skin hydration is a must.
Dry your hair in your own fashion, I’m avoiding heat when using the curly girl method meaning air drying for me. Get in your comfies et voilà. Basic spa evening completed, add in mani/pedi for extras. Most importantly, feel good and do this for yourself. Enjoy, you deserve it.