18 Months of Zosia – An Update

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So, I missed the one year update (sorry Zosia!) so I thought doing an eighteen month update would be a good idea. There is plenty of things to catch up on as she has gone from baby to toddler in the blink of an eye. As usual, time has flown by.

18 months
78 weeks
547 days
13140 hours
788401 minutes

Or there abouts.

It is madness. When you’re a kid you spend all of your time wishing time would hurry up so that you could do loads of ‘cool’ adult stuff. When you’re an adult you spend your whole time wishing for the weekend or your next pay day. When you’re a parent you wish, no you beg time to slow down. You ask it not to take our babies away from us, for them to not need us anymore. You don’t want them to grow up so fast, you want to relish every single little thing they do, all the new things they learn every day. Yet time ignores you, laughs in your face and before you know it, that tiny little bubba that you gave birth to, who would just lay there and do nothing much at all, is now walking around your house, grabbing everything, throwing a wobbly every time you change their nappy or move them away from the telly so that it doesn’t fall on them. Your darling angel baby is now a darling little terror or a toddler and through frustration and the distinct lack of communication skills will scream, shout and stomp their feet at you because they don’t want that drink bottle. You still smile politely though, as if they would give you a bad review on Trustpilot or something. You spend hours singing along to Hey Duggee and Tee and Mo songs because they make them laugh. You love them relentlessly. Eighteen months when you’re younger seems like a lifetime ago. Eighteen months of your little ones life seems so short.

As a mother, you have mastered many things. The swift nappy change, the one handed hold, the one handed tasks and the hip balance. People marvel at your apparent baby whisper skills, your ability to clean anything with a wet wipe and your inability to finish a cup of coffee before it gets cold, your multitasking skill has levelled up ten fold, (your arm strength also) you can now carry a baby and ten shopping bags (okay, slight exaggeration) in one hand whilst opening and closing car/front doors and if you weren’t a tidy person before, you are now. To the childless, you are a domestic goddess who is to be feared but also revered. To other parents, who smile at you knowingly (as long as it’s not your child screaming the place down) and who are just glad to see another adult, to them you are doing well so long as your child is still alive.

So, what about us as parents?

It has been, quite simply, the best year of our lives. It has been hard, don’t get me wrong. Some days are harder than others, especially when your baby is teething or poorly but every day is a blessing. There have been days where I could have murdered my husband and there have been days where if it were not for him, I’m not sure what would have happened to my sanity. Our relationship has changed. We rarely have time for just us. We haven’t been on a date night since before Zosia was born. We’re no longer a couple. We’re a ‘throuple’. Like I’ve said a hundred times before, being parents is hard and so there are bound to be things that tip you over the edge, especially when sleep deprived. This doesn’t mean we don’t love each other more than we ever have. As much as we have disagreements, we are still so happy and love our little family.

I guess we just kind of miss being able to just go out on the fly and the recklessness of not being parents. We miss the lay-ins on the weekends but love the snuggles and giggles with bubba too. We miss a table for two in pretty much any restaurant we like. Now we have to preplan a meal at a family friendly restaurant that will have highchairs that we have to clean before putting Zosia in. Despite this, it is such a cute thing sharing a meal out with her at the table with us. She gets to try different foods and although at times said restaurants charge an extortionate amount of money to feed your child (even though you asked for plain, boiled vegetables only and get charged £4 for it) it is worth seeing her process new flavours. There are many things that we used to do and miss, but they have been replaced with things we now do with Zosia and we love it.

The update:

During the last year Zosia has grown so much. In size and personality. Just reading back through the 6 months update makes my heart go funny. Time can be unforgiving if you don’t allow yourself a moment to just stop and take it all in. It’s been 12 months since the last update so I am sure you can guess, so much of her has changed.

‘The tiny creature that regularly kicked me in the ribs, has become this adorable babbling, giggling, chunky monster that wants to grab and eat everything.’

Watching her grow up is such a delight but damn, it was so much easier when she was little. She is still the same cheeky little monster. She still wants to eat everything. Everything gets tried and tested in her mouth first. If she can’t eat it, it gets discarded, thrown away. She is so vocal now too. Although she hasn’t learnt many words she is becoming the master of her voice. She plays around with sounds and pitch. She has the cutest toddler babble. Her favourite thing to say at the moment is ‘Oh dear!’.

Personality:

Her hair is so long we have to put it up so she can see. She looks so cute with a little pineapple ponytail on top. She is a cheeky little wotsit. She laughs at her cartoons. Giggles when we chase her and loves tipping her drink upside down so her ‘leak proof, chew resistant’ cup drips water everywhere. She loves her baths and playing with bath toys. She marvels at new things and for a short while will become fixated on them. She loves trying to work out how the world works. Like me, she is quite chilled out. She doesn’t get distressed when things change or faced with new challenges but is still quite shy when people come round. Even if they have been round in the last week. She can sometimes get upset seeing people for the first time in the week and although rarely, she can cry at them. I think we need to work on getting her out to more baby/toddler groups to increase her confidence in socialising. She is a little book worm. Books are one of her favourite toys and she will often bring one over to you on the settee. She’ll climb up and get herself comfortable and have a flick through. It’s all very cute.

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Christmas Reading. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

She is a happy little bubba but recently she has been getting frustrated when we stop her doing what she wants and has begun throwing tantrums. Proper leg kicking, scream the house down, flop on the floor tantrums. They said it was terrible twos, not eighteen months! She hates having her teeth brushed. We have to pin her down almost to get at them but as soon as you are finished, she will happily take the tooth brush and chew the bristles. I’ve taken to just putting her on the floor (off the settee or out of our arms) when she is having a tantrum. She soon forgets what has annoyed her and finds something to play with. She has only had a few melt downs and even those haven’t been that major. She is learning to deal with her frustrations and hopefully when she starts being able to verbalise her emotions a bit better we can work through them together. The plan will be to deal with our emotions in a positive way giving her plenty of time and space to talk about them with us when she is older. We want her to feel like she can tell us anything when she is older and not feel like she has to hide certain feelings or be embarrassed of anything at all.

She likes to play in sand and had her first experience of the beach when we visited my sister on the Isle of Man in May. She had fun and kept patting it like it was a dog. She hates having her face cleaned after each meal. She has just started to make eye contact and it is the cutest thing.

Food:

She loves watching her cartoons whilst eating. We do try to restrict her screen time to just meal times. Sometimes you just need to get s**t done. She loves to eat toast but if you give it to her too regularly, she will get bored of it and throw it on the floor. She loves fruit. Enjoys little tortilla pizza’s and eating cereal out of a bowl like a big girl. She is working on using a spoon effectively. She is getting there. She enjoys a fish finger every now and then, loves cream cheese, yogurt and drinking water. Recently we have been giving her some fruit smoothies type things as a treat. We don’t want to give them to her too regularly, we don’t want a little sugar addict but we did put them in fridge during the heatwave and it was a good way to help her stay cool. She also loves frozen yogurt which has been really good in this heat. Again, not too keen on giving her ice lollies or anything that is essentially pack full of refined sugar and chemically made sweeteners so are finding ways around it. We also suspect that she is allergic to watermelon as every time she has eaten some she has been sick in the night.

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Chicken Curry for Dinner. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.
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Healthy Breakfast. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Recently we have tried to move her into a more grown up food time. This means that she has her own grown up plate and we have been trying to get her to use cutlery. The problem we have had is that she throws a lot of food on the floor, so by giving her control of all of her food at once, although scary, seems to be the best option. She throws a lot less food now that she has it all. With the cutlery, our biggest problem has been the high possibility that Zosia is a left-hander. We have tried several sets of cutlery but to no avail so far. She can use her spoon if you preload it but hasn’t quite got the coordination to scoop yet. We’re not giving up though. Practice makes perfect.

Milestones:

She has lots of teeth now. At least sixteen including the most recent four cutting through at the moment and is currently waiting on the the last four big teeth at the back (they mostly come in pairs). She hasn’t been too bad with most of them but the back ones caused so nasty nappy rash. The dribble is excessive. She has had one big cold. The snot is unreal! The poor little thing was sick a few times (big girl sick now, not just milky sick-up) due to the phlegm running down the back of her throat. She soldiered through it though. She is such a little trooper. She has had her jabs. The last set (12 months) gave her a nasty rash but again, she barely even noticed. We we’re more concerned than she was.

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Walking with Daddy. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

She now walks (like a drunk little old lady) and we were surprisingly unprepared for this. We’ve had to buy a stair gate because she suddenly decided one day that they were great things to climb despite seeming to be intimidated by them before. Unfortunately this also means more trips and bumps than we would like but we’re also thankful fo no A&E trips yet. We have just bought her a little rucksack with lead so we can take her for walks. However, it has been far too hot to actually leave the house. Luckily for us, when we do leave the house she still loves to chill out in her push chair. She never complains about being in it or cries to get out of it. She is quite relaxed when it comes to a trip out.

Her vocabulary is getting there. A few new words since the last update but I think she has been focusing on being able to do other things before talking. We try to read to her as often as we can but she likes to keep turning the pages before we can finish reading the page.

Routine:

We are finally getting into some kind of routine with her, although this recent heatwave has not helped to maintain it. She wakes up at a regular time. She has her morning milk, a little play and then some breakfast. She then has free play until she starts to get tired and we notice she is ready for a nap. Bedtime can vary and seems to be quite late but she rarely fights it. She still sleeps through the night with the odd exception of course, nobody is perfect. She doesn’t always go down for her nap. She fights it. She now mostly sleeps alone in her cot (thank goodness!) and even goes into her cot when she has a nap, giving us some time to catch up with work, housework or just some down time.

It’s not perfect but we’re getting there. Going out tends to put her routine all out of whack but she goes with it. Like I said, she is a chilled out little girl (unless you take her toy off her).

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Exploring Ikea. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Are you a parent? How have you been coping with the tantrums? Let me know in the comments below.

I think that is about it. If you’re keen to keep up to date with the ins and outs of Zosia then make sure you are following me on Instagram as thats where I post most regularly. Thanks for reading guys.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz

”My

Musings Of A Tired Mummy
I’m taking part in the Mummy Monday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

Why you Should be Using a Journal to Improve your Mental Health

 

Using a journal

When I was a kid, about eight or nine, my nan gave me my first diary. A simple weekly spread to manage the supposedly hectic life of a primary school pupil. I began to use it as a way of documenting the little things I had done during the day; woke up, brushed my teeth, watched Pokemon, annoyed little sister etc. I kept things very simple. As I grew up my diary morphed, changed. It grew with me. As I became a teenager dealing with my parents separation, puberty, first ‘loves’ and being unpopular at school, my diary became incredibly important to me. I took it everywhere. As a teen I was so angry at the world and writing all of that down helped me to process my emotions. Of course, this didn’t suddenly make me a better person. I was still a terrible daughter, sister, friend but slightly less so. I felt so very alone growing up, as I am sure we all did but my diary was the only thing I could be truly honest with. I would pour my heart out to it. No holds barred. The great thing was, it never judged me.

As I ventured into adulthood, as I began my journey into serious relationships and discovered my own ideas of womanhood, my diary changed again. I started to include pictures, memories. Growing up my diary was a place to vent, rant, a place to be angry and sad. Now it had become a place of love and happiness. I had made it a document of the good times. Naturally, being only eighteen/nineteen it didn’t last long. Yet I knew that when I was in a better place, it would be something I could look back at with a smile.

Move into my early twenties and my diary (now a proper notebook, with lined pages and referred to as a journal because that’s more grown up) it went through one of its darkest phases. The anger I had felt as a teenager was nothing compared to what was happening to my mind at this point. I had gone from updating it a few times a week to writing in it daily, sometimes several times a day. I would write page after page about how low I was, what (or who) was causing it. It was a very negative place. I knew this would not be a thing that I would want to look back on. It often took me into a darker place as I became overwhelmed with emotions and as I processed the person I was becoming, hurtful, unfaithful, nasty. I no longer recognised myself. However, being able to express myself through writing, during this darkest phase is probably what saved my life.

The journey to recovery was not easy. It took years. A part of that recovery was during an emotionally abusive relationship where I allowed him to strip me back, to break me down and uncover this horrible woman I had become until I was no longer that person and unfortunately, I was no longer a version of me that I recognised. Despite of all that, it was writing at this point which allowed me to re-evaluate who I was and who I wanted to be. At my lowest point, it was my diary that was my salvation.

Then I met my hubby, my light at the end of the tunnel, my knight in shining armour. It wasn’t long before I didn’t need to write things down. I didn’t feel like I needed to furiously scribble down every emotion or vet the things I wanted to say. I could be myself again. Slowly (although he may not realise it) he allowed me to rebuild myself as the person I am today. After a while, I no longer needed the diary and I stopped writing. This isn’t a negative thing. Not needing to write has been refreshing after so long. I still write today but not because I need to. I write because I want to. I write to keep myself and my family organised and to process events out of my control. I write to vent things around the world that upset me but it is no longer so personal. But why did I start in the first place? Why did I feel that need, the need that at points felt so desperate? Personally, I think it was out of frustration, desperation and possible even self-preservation. To save my sanity, to minimise damage.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” – Oscar Wilde

Keeping a diary or a journal to document the good, bad and the ugly is no new thing. As early as human kind could write, they would document their daily life, the things they had learnt, seen, done etc. There is research from the University of Lancaster that suggests keeping a journal of your experiences can help keep your mind healthier as you get older. Expressive writing can be a way to get a clear perspective as you take time to reflect on something. It stops to obsessive loops we can get ourselves into when dealing with negative situations. It can make us happier and more successful. With this in mind I have come up with some of the benefits of keeping a journal and why you should be using expressive writing to help improve your mental well-being.

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Setting Goals. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

1. It Doesn’t Have to be Articulate:

It doesn’t matter if the spellings are correct or the grammar is perfect. Nobody is going to read it but you, and even you don’t have to read it once you’ve finished it. It doesn’t have to even make sense so long as it allows you to deal with things in your own time. You could try making a mind map if that helps you.

2. Offload the Negative:

You can use it as a brain dump, a way to empty out all of the negative stuff we have to deal with on a daily basis. You are quite literally just offloading some of the things that you either don’t have time to deal with or the things that need more of your attention. You can write the basics down for now and move on. Come back to it when you are ready to deal with it.

3. No Regrets:

Too often do we react on impulse to a negative situation and too often do we fell like crap after. We know we have said things we now regret and we continue to let the loop go round and round in our head. By writing it down, you can say all the things that are bothering you without fear of repercussion and free from the worry of upsetting someone. Once you have all of that out of your system you have time to re-evaluate the situation and approach it in a calm manner. Pouring your heart out on paper can help you to form rational responses to negativity.

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Reviewing the good. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

4. Don’t Just Focus on the Negative:

The process of writing things down, doesn’t have to be solely about the negativity in your life. I use a bullet journal to not only help organise my life but to help me regain control. Yes, there are times when you need to offload the negative but there are also times when you need to remind yourself of the positive. I have often kept a page in my journal to help me focus on the things I am thankful for and keeping a gratitude log is a great way to help you can a little perspective. I made a page about all the things I love about my husband so that I can focus on that when he is driving me mad.

5. Change a Habit of a Lifetime:

You can use your journal as a way to help change some of those habits which are leading to these negative emotions. Tracking habits and moods allows you to see what it is holding you back and means you can find ways to help you move on. Whether you are tracking how many times in a month you have exercised or how many days you have felt sad, you will be able to see what is happening and hopefully address any triggers.

6. Achieve your Goals:

By using a tracker like above, you can begin to work on achieving your goals. Documenting what you want to achieve, whether it be today, this week, this year or even in your lifetime is a great way to help you to actually achieve your goals. Writing the goals down makes them real and thus you feel more accountable for them. Achieving the goals you set yourself allows you to feel more successful, no matter how small the goal was.

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Goals to work towards. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

7. Unleash your Creative Side:

Writing of any kind is a creative outlet, but why stop there? Using a bullet journal is not just a better way to get organised or even to improve your mental health but it is a great way to brush up on other creative skills. I am not just talking about our drawing or painting etc. We also begin to learn a more creative approach to dealing with the pain, disappointment and difficult relationships. Plus you can have a good doodle.

8. Because it Feels Good:

Using expressive writing to help us process life can really make us happier and achieve positivity in our lives. As we go on this journey of self-discovery we can begin our personal transformation. We can manage stress better, we have a feeling of fullfilment. The less stressed we are, the happier we are. The happier we are, the better our mental health is. The better our mental health, the more successful we can be. It sounds quite obvious when you put it like that.

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Inspirational Quote. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

I am by no means an expert on this topic. I am merely sharing what has worked for me in the hope that it can help you. We all know that improving our mental health in todays often chaotic and stressful world is so important. If you ever feel like life is just too much to bare please remember that there are a number of channels out there willing to help you through the dark days. You are not alone. Nor do you have to suffer alone.

If you have any other tips to help with expressive writing or keeping a journal, or if you have used this method to help you during a difficult time, let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,
Peace and Love

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz
3 Little Buttons
Musings Of A Tired Mummy

My First Year as a Blogger.

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Can you believe it’s been a little over a year since I started on this journey as a blogger? I can’t, that’s for sure. So much has happened in those twelve plus months. To say that the last six months or so have been manic (what with Zosia turning one, Mum being in hospital for nearly eight months, work and other general life stuff) would be something of an understatement. If you hadn’t noticed, I have been pretty MIA for a long time. Life has thrown some major curve balls at us so far this year, but we keep on batting them off into the distance. Sometimes you realise just how much a person can take before they break and what truly matters in life. But I guess that’s life for you.

So what’s been happening?

Well, firstly we had a lovely little party for Zosia’s first birthday. The night before was very busy. I spent all night cooking, cleaning and decorating but it was worth it in the end. Budget wise we did pretty well and I think that writing the blog post Six Simple Steps to Planning a First Birthday Party on a Budget before hand really helped. She was of course, spoiled by all of our friends and family and she loved playing with the other babies and toddlers which was so lovely to see. If you follow me on SM you would have seen some of the pictures from the weekend. I’ll go into more detail about this in another blog post later.

The biggest thing that has stopped me from doing pretty much everything has been my mum. In December she was admitted into hospital. She has only just been discharged. Growing up and as a teenager, my mum and I never really got on too well. I think that is because we’re too similar. We get on a lot better when we don’t live together. Seeing her in a coma, fighting for her life made me realise just how much time we had wasted over silly, petty arguments and dramas in the past. Being the eldest in situations like this does make you realise that being an adult can really suck at times. Seeing her fight so hard to get back to some kind of normal hasn’t been easy.  Now that she is home we just remind her of how proud and grateful we are that she didn’t give up. Every night I would come home and give Zosia an extra squeeze. She makes everything seem better.

On a lighter note

So after a year or so of blogging, what have I learnt? I have had to think about this quite a bit really. Especially as out of the twelve months, I’ve only been really active for about eight. I’ve condensed some of the biggest lessons that I have taken out of this whole experience so far into seven points. I think for anybody considering becoming a blogger or influencer you definitely need to consider some of these before you start.

1. Make sure you have time

Time has been one of the biggest issues for me. Being a working mum means a lot of things need to be juggled and often that meant something wasn’t getting done. It took me a while to work on the balance of life as a parent, a teacher and a blogger. Too often did the washing pile up higher than the Empire State Building or the toys on the floor make an assault course during the midnight feeds. Of course my husband helps where he can , but he works too and it is easy for us both to be tired at the end of the day. We’re currently in the process of trying to set up things so that we can be more organised. We have a meal and chore planner in place which were hoping will not only help with keeping up with the work around the house but also keeping our finances in check. It also helps keep an eye on who is doing what which should help with the silly arguments about washing up! I try to get blog related things done in the evenings or on the weekends so that the hubby can focus on his work. That way I can keep up with the housework on my days off too.

I was most productive when I had a plan in place. I used my bullet journal to make a note of blog post ideas to use for the future. I would track what I was posting to the blog and when so I could see how many things I had posted each month. I have to admit that since Mum was ill, I’ve not been keeping up with anything, not even my bullet journal. The plan will be to start integrating all of the things that worked slowly but surely so that I can get back in to regular blogging again. I think I might start making a digital tracker as I don’t have the time to manage the drawings and creative side of a paper bullet journal at the moment. Keeping a planner and a tracker is definitely a useful tool for bloggers.

2. Know your niche

It is important that you know what you want to write about. Have a clear idea about where you fit in the blogging world but also make sure you know and care about what it is you’re writing. There is absolutely no point in writing about make-up if you only wear it on special occasions. Keep your content down to a few subjects that you’re really passionate about. For me it is parenting first and foremost, with a dash of creativity and a hint of education. There may well be the odd post about other things from time to time and some may over lap into other areas and that is ok. The point is don’t try to write about ten different subjects at once. ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ kind of thing.

3. It’s okay to have a break

I think that this was one of the hardest lessons to learn. In the first year I have had at least six months off in total. Returning to work as full time cover teacher at my old school just sapped the life out of me. I was no longer enjoying teaching. I couldn’t wait to leave. Every evening I would come home exhausted and I would just want to snuggle my little girl on the settee all night. I wasn’t a very good house wife during this time. The blog went on hold as did most of my life and friendships. What was difficult to accept was that it is okay to take a break from the blogging world and I had only had about a month off. This time around I’ve had about five months off but I wasn’t worrying about the declining statistics or anything. I had a week or so where I was facing the possibility of losing my mum. The blog become nothing to me. I was just trying to get through each day as it came. Each day a gruelling trip into central London, through blizzards and cancelled trains. Each day clinging on to the tiniest bit of hope. It was sad to think something so unimportant had taken up so much of my time before now.

As I am ready to process such events now, I can begin to focus on rebuilding what I have lost but also remember that it is not the end of the world if I am not present online. Family must always come first. This blog is about an outlet for me to process a great many things that I have, I am and I will have to experience in the future. That is what I must remember.

4. Try to make friends with other bloggers

This is one of the hardest things to do when you can be a bit of an introvert like me but having someone who knows what things you go through to keep your blog going is good for your well-being. Having a blogging friend can help you when motivation is low, being able to sound off ideas and someone to share your content is a massive bonus. Plus you get a cool new friend.

5. Social Media is a must

Having accounts on the big four social media sites is an absolute must. There are so many positives to having them all set up as your blog. Depending on your niche, you might also want to set them up as business accounts. Instagram is great for sharing the images you create for your blog but sharing links is a massive pain. Facebook is great for supportive blogging groups and setting up a page for your blog content should be on your to do list if you’ve not got one set up already. Twitter is has a great community amongst the bloggers but watch out for some sneaky, bitchy trolls. It is also great for sharing your content. Pinterest is one of my favourites and I have been working really hard on making sure this site reflects my brand. You can pin your content images and link them straight back to your blog. You can join group boards as well as pin lots of inspiration things to come back to later. Social media is your ally when it comes to getting people to your blog so make the most of it and although it can take up a lot of your time, it is such a valuable tool.

6. Don’t expect to become famous over night

I am sure at some point, we have all sat staring at our statistics expecting fame and glory to appear in a the blink of an eye. One of the hardest things I found was checking my stats almost constantly meaning I was always glued to my phone. Statistics are not everything. I know it is important keep an eye on them but they are not the only thing that is important about your blog. Not everyone’s blog is about becoming famous either. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place and if one day I can make any money on the side then that would be amazing. Sure when I started this blogging journey I thought it would be an easy way to make some money on the side but in fact it hasn’t been like that at all. It is incredibly hard work. It requires a lot of effort for little outcome and that’s where my last point comes in.

7. Don’t Give Up!

Sounds so simple right? Don’t let yourself get down hearted when a post isn’t as popular as you were expecting. Analyse it. Look at post similar to yours. See if you can spot what went well with their post that you may have missed in yours. Do some research. Have other bloggers had the same problems as you? You may well find that somebody has written a blog post about how to get more traffic to your site or ways to improve your content. The biggest lesson to learn of all, is to keep learning lessons. Make progress, no matter how slow. We learn best from our mistakes so of course, it is okay to make a few along the way.

What’s Next?

Well we are expecting more challenges throughout this year including a major move with a one year old but I hope to be able to get back into something more regular in terms of the blog. Change is not something we shy from in this household so we will try to keep a positive outlook on life. There are more posts in the line up and with the summer holidays coming up, I should have plenty of time to get through the back log of unfinished blog posts. I also have quite a few creative ideas that I am beginning to process as well, including learning to build and creating my own website for the blog, so keep an eye out for those updates.

I think that’s about it really. What would you add? What lessons were hardest for you to learn in your first year of blogging? Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow me on the four big social media sites for more regular updates.

Thanks for reading guys.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama.

JakiJellz
3 Little Buttons

Travel – Colchester Zoo

No matter what we do, or when we go, we always seem to attract the bad weather. However, we’re not the kind of people that let the weather dampen our fun. Many moons ago when we were a lot younger, we ached less, were less grouchy, had fewer grey hairs and before I had even farted in front of him, the hubby and I went to London Zoo for our anniversary. I bet you can guess what happened. To say we were a tad soggy by the time we were on the train home would be an understatement yet we loved it.

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Daddy and Daughter. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So our recent trip was, of course, no exception. To celebrate Zosia turning eleven months and to make the most of their online January discount, we had decided to make the trip up to Colchester Zoo. We had been before when our relationship was barely a few months old, so again like Greenwich, it seemed only right that we would take Zosia there too. We were hoping that she would be amazed, full of smiles, laughs and coos. Unfortunately I am not sure she was ready for it all. She seemed a little overwhelmed at times. So there are plans to take her in the summer when she is a bit older. Although, having said that, there were plenty of smiles for the giraffes.

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Exploring the map. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Colchester Zoo is a great place for a family outing.  It’s a nice day out, with some fresh air and is a great way to clock up some steps and get the heart rate going but there is an easier route mapped out to avoid steep pathways if you think you’ll struggle with the pushchair. Unfortunately for us many of the animals were inside due to the rain and cold weather but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t see all the animals. They have viewing rooms so that you can still see the animals indoors and so that you don’t miss out if they are sleeping or hiding. There are a lot of opportunities to watch the animals being fed or to even feed them yourself. I fed an elephant when I went for the first time and it was amazing (and somewhat snotty). You can also hold some of the insects including a Hissing Cockroach called Colin and a stick insect (great for kids that love Hey Duggee!). There are others but I can’t remember what else it was. We watched an encounter with the sea lions and learnt some fun facts about the differences between them and seals. There are plenty of shops and cafes for when you need a pitstop but personally, I would recommend taking a packed lunch as the food is a little expensive. For those of you with young children, you can find a few play areas dotted around the food areas to help those restless, energetic kids burn off some extra energy. You can walk through open enclosures allowing you a closer look at some of the animals. There is a wallaby and goat walkthrough which is great for little ones but we were advised that children under twelve months and pregnant women should not walk through due to certain germs and deceases that can be spread by some of the animals.

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Zosia and Colin. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

One thing I love about the zoo is their work in conservation. Much like the ZSL zoo’s, Colchester Zoo is working hard to help protect the animals home lands, their wild relatives and is helping to educate people who work with them. To help out, you can adopt a species through the zoo, which also makes a lovely gift, as do the Zoo experiences that you can buy either online or during your visit. The zoo has several breeding programs too which includes many of the animals at the park. The herbivore enclosures are some of my favourites as they include many species in one place, similar to their natural habitats.  You can also purchase a zoo pass, which gives you many benefits including discounts at the shops and on birthday parties.

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All Smiles. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Overall, we had a great time. Zosia may not have been as enthusiastic as we were hoping but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have fun. As I said, we will be returning in the summer with the hope that the weather is better and she will understand more of what she is seeing. Colchester Zoo comes highly recommended from us.

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Making Friends. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Have you been anywhere nice during the winter months? Any recommendations in the local area?

Thanks for reading.

Love and Peace,

Monsterful Mama

Want to find out more? Why not check out Colchester Zoo’s website and social media links.

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DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.

JakiJellz

2017 – a review

First of all, let me start by wishing you all a very happy new year. I hope that, regardless of how 2017 has treated you, 2018 will be amazing.

For us, 2017 was an amazing year. In February I gave birth to the most beautiful little thing. She has guided our life in a new direction and although some days it feels like we’re holding on for dear life, other days we’re thoroughly enjoying the ride. Every day with her is a gift. She is growing up so fast and I’m sure she learns something new every day! She keeps us in our toes now that she can crawl. She’s quite speedy too when she gets going. Her turning 10 months on Boxing Day means that we are about to begin the frantic process of baby proofing the whole house. She can now wave and can even say ‘bye’. That takes her word count up to four (Mumma, Dadda, Bubba and bye). If you make a gesture to kiss, she’ll lean in so you can kiss her forehead. She laughs at everything! She has 7/8 teeth. She walks when you hold her hands and easily climbs up furniture and toys so that she’s standing. She talks to her toys/herself a lot. She can recognise herself in a mirror or camera and laughs when we play back videos of herself. She’s beginning to throw tantrums too. Little strops if you take something off her or won’t let her roam freely. Soon she will be walking and we expect all hell to break loose. In a few months she will be one and that’s a very scary thought. It’s such a cute stage in her development though. Time is just going by too quickly and if I blink I fear I may miss it all!

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2017 also brought about a change of direction in my career. Unfortunately, many employers won’t make space for mums who are returning to work after maternity leave and who are in need of more flexibility. If I have one regret for last year. It would only be that I didn’t take more time off, even if it meant less or no money. In May I made the hard decision to leave my full-time job because as many will know, full time work (especially as a teacher) and motherhood do not bond well together. Whilst I fully appreciate family’s that can make it work for them, I think I’ve always known that I couldn’t commit to full time work. The decision was made with a tear in my eye. I had made friends, worked with some great people, made it through my NQT with grit, determination and a lot of bloody hard work. As well as all that I think it’s fair to say that I owe my teaching career to a couple of amazing teachers/HLTA’s who, without their support and guidance I would have easily given up in that first year. Naturally I was sad to go but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose contact with these ladies. I also promised that I wouldn’t allow myself to be over worked and under paid anymore so in November (after having finished late October) I became a supply teacher. The money is good, the hours are massively better, I can choose when and for how many days I want to work. The positives far outweigh the negatives in that sense. Yes, there are some really hard days and some days I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but being able to leave at a reasonable time and get home to my family before dark is a real bonus. Knowing that I don’t have to continue work when I get home is good. It’s such a relief to enjoy teaching again.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October. We went to Greenwich Park as it was somewhere we used to visit a lot when we first started our relationship. I’ve always loved Greenwich so it seemed only right that we took Zosia out for her first adventure there too. She celebrated her eighth month a few days later so we made it a double celebration. We wanted to go back to a restaurant we often went to but it had been closed down. It was sad to see it gone but it was going down hill in our last visit. Instead we went to Jamie’s Italian a little down the road. Zosia joined us at the dinner table in her own high chair for her first proper restaurant experience. She was so cute holding her dads hand across the table. It will always be a fond memory.

Being married has been the easy part. Trying to change my name has been the difficult bit. You forget how many loyalty cards you’ve got until you try to change your name on them all! Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is as much a pain in the arse as he was before we were married but he is now, as he always has been, my biggest support. He is by my side through every tough decision, when I hit the 24hr+ marker of labour and the Doctors we’re trying to make me take some form of pain relief, he stayed true to my prior decision and reminded them that it was my body and thus my decision if I took their offer or not. He held my hand through every contraction, every push, every moment of my exhaustion and my sheer jubilation at having finally, 51 hours later, given birth to our beautiful little girl! We stood together by her incubator, hand in hand. He dried my tears as I blamed myself. He held me up just as I felt the initial weight of motherhood pushing me down and helped me push back. He is and will always be my pillar of strength.

We have also just celebrated our first Christmas together as a family and it was just so magical. Zosia made a trip to another of our old haunts (Bluewater) to visit Santa and his elves. Although she didn’t seem too fussed about the whole thing, we will treasure the memories. We took her Christmas shopping and to have her first lunch at Ed’s Dinner. She only had a salad of course!

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Our Christmas Elf. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

We had our first Christmas Day to ourselves in a very long time. We got dressed before presents – something I’ve never done before. I wanted to make sure the photos were good for the future rather than a messy Mum. I know that sounds daft but when I also love to share pictures with our families so I was not going to share barless, unwashed and undressed pictures of me with anyone! Zosia was spoilt over the two days of celebrations. Families were visited on Boxing Day. She now has a mountain of toys and books. My house is awash with toys. My living room is an obstacle course. Luckily I got some nice storage boxes from the MiL so we can at least store some away. She enjoyed her Christmas dinner with us too. There was lots of love and laughter all day. It was perfect.

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First Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

It’s been difficult to keep up with the blog. Trying to find time between working and being a Mum and a wife is hard work. I’m trying to remain creative too, using my bullet journal more again and trying to make some prints to sell. I guess we’ll just have to see how the year will pan out as it goes. I’ve got plans in mind to help keep up the posts. Keep your eyes posted for a post about goals for the new year both personal and blog.

Thanks for listening

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

JakiJellz

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So, how is it Christmas Eve already? Where has this year gone? When you have a child, time sure flies. I’ve always loved this time of year but this year is going to be something special. We’re all prepped and ready to celebrate our first Christmas as a family. I’m so excited to see how she reacts to her gifts. Don’t get me wrong, we’re fully aware that she has no clue about the significance of tomorrow but she gets so excited about new things, how can we not be excited?

There will be plenty of love and laughter in this house tomorrow and that fills me with such a feeling that I’m sure I’ll burst! We’ll document the whole day so that we can share it with her when she’s older and share it with the family during the day.

This year has been a roller coaster of emotions but I’ve enjoyed every single moment. I look forward to what next year shall bring too. I’ll be setting up my bullet journal for next year and hopefully more creative work will come out of it. I’ve got big plans for the blog but it’ll be hard work preparing for it all. I’ll also be continuing work as a supply teacher which I’ve enjoyed more than I imagined I would.

So, thanks 2017! You’ve been great. Here’s hoping 2018 will kick your arse!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. Stay safe and enjoy it all.

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama and family!

 

Family

10 Things That Make Me Happy

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Copyright Monsterful Mama

I know that I have recently done a post about happiness, and those being the three main things so let’s make this one a bit of fun.  Call it a ‘getting to know you’ kinda blog post!

The Ten Things That Make Me Happy are…

  1. Family: So of course this is a given. My little family are my world. You can read about them in more detail here.
  2. Pens: Lots and lots of pens. Brush pens, fine liners, fountain pens, highlighters, bright ones, pastel ones, black and white ones. You name it I will happily buy it for the right price, which leads me on to number three.
  3. Bullet Journal: I love getting creative in my bullet journal but it is also a fantastic way to get organised. My motto before was that I was an organised mess. My style was organised chaos but now with my bullet journal I can manage appointments without forgetting them, track progression of my blog in my blog bujo and get to keep on being creative with the many challenges in hand lettering etc.
  4. Food: I have a love hate relationship with food. I LOVE to eat it … all… but it does not agree with my waistline. I love cheesy pizza, stringy, gooey pizza, salted caramel flavoured thing, peanut butter on toast, a good old fashion roast dinner, cake of many varieties, coffee flavoured things too, chocolate of course… the list goes on. It actually surprises me that I am not bigger than I am! I do have a bit of a sweet tooth. If we go out for dinner, I will often chose a vegetarian option because my husband is a vege-phobe!
  5. Washi Tape: There are sooooo many different varieties of tape out there in the world, and like in Pokemon, I want to catch them all! I use them quite sparingly in my bullet journal but I just love to collect them. They are just so pretty!
  6. Video games: I don’t mind which platform but would prefer the PS4 and PC over Xbox. I used to love Nintendo but they have made their consoles big and clunky and unnecessarily so. They had great consoles with the N64 and the GameCube so I dont know why they had to mess about with it all. I love to play games such as; Skyrim, Terraria, Minecraft, The Sims, Stardew Valley, Starbound, Anno, Don’t Starve, Legend of Zelda, Fallout 4, WoW, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Civilization, Life is Strange etc. I love a bargain on Steam or on the PlayStation Store especially if it is an indie game.
  7. Taking Pictures: I love taking pictures. I’ve been referred to as the happy snapper before. I won’t go so far as to claim I am any good at taking pictures, but I do okay. My degree is in Photography but again, there are no guarantees that, that means I am good. I mostly take pictures of my little girl now but the degree has helped with setting up a few flat lays for the blog. I am currently in love with using black and white film in my Instax Mini. I’m now very jealous of my best buds skills in photography, so much so I got her to do our wedding! Chloe is awesome at capturing the natural quirkiness at weddings. I have enlisted her help many times when it comes to my own photography.
  8. Travel: I haven’t seen much of the world but I have loved seeing the bits that I have seen. Japan has got to be the best place we’ve been. We love going somewhere with lots of history or culture. There are sooo many more places on our list but, what with having a baby, we know it will be a while before we can tick the big ones off. Meanwhile, seeing a bit more of the UK will keep us occupied until Zosia is old enough to fly comfortably.
  9. Self Care Time: Because I have spent so many years living alone, I do enjoy a bit of me time, alone time. It is great to get to grips with thoughts and feelings and sometimes just to clear some of the cobwebs away. I will often take a coffee break on my own (mostly with Zosia though) in a café in town. I will mill around town with no real intent to buy things, although that doesn’t mean I won’t buy anything! It’s not really about buying anything, it is about being by myself.
  10. Creativity: I have always been a bit creative but never really known how to channel it. I’ve tried performing arts, photography, painting etc. I still don’t really know what my creative ‘niche’ is but I am loving the process of trying to figure it out. My sister is an illustrator so I’ve always been jealous of her mad skills for drawing and using watercolours. At the moment I am trying to learn new digital creative skills with my hubby teaching me tricks on PhotoShop, Illustrator and CSS/HTML etc.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little more. Here are my tags for bloggers that you should get to know!

  1. itsallzara.co.uk
  2. http://thismamacan.com/

Thanks

Monsterful Mama

Things I Can’t Bullet Journal Without.

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Setting Goals.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So, it’s another one of these posts I know but I do love my bullet journal.  So much so I now have two (three if you count Zosia’s one!).  One for my blog and one for personal use. It is a fantastic way to keep organised. Keeping a bullet journal can be as minimalist or as arty as you like it.  So you can even manage one as a busy working parent, keeping track of your little ones appointments and events. I think I range somewhere in the middle.  I have tried to improve my creativity this year and have practised mostly in my bullet journal.  Over the last 8 months I have realised there are things you just don’t need and other stuff you just can’t live without whilst keeping a bullet journal. I may have spent a small fortune in the last months but I have loved every bit of it.  I am always the kind of person who finds it hard to stick to something so I was glad when I made it past the first six months.  So whether you’re someone who has just started or are a bullet journal pro like Boho Berry, these are just a few things you might need and are things I cannot bullet journal without.

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Anime Spread.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Dotted Journal (249 pages) and Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Dotted Journal (121 pages)

As I’ve said already, I use two different journals. One for personal use and one for my blog. I use a soft cover for my blog that I like to carry around with me. I do this in case I have a brain wave or idea that I need to jot down ASAP. I have the hardback for my personal journal as it has more pages and so I wont need to replace is quite as often. The paper in the Leuchtturm can lead to ghosting when using some pens but it will take water colour paints if used sparingly.

Buy Here (249pg)                                                        Buy Here (121pg)

 

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen

I always remember using a fountain pen when I was younger. We weren’t allowed to use Biro back then. So when I realised, several months into my bullet journal journey, that using a fountain pen was a thing, I jumped at the chance to own one. I spent a bit of time researching which one would be best, but also within my price range. There are so beautiful pens out in the world! So I came across this pen and WOW. I am in love with it. I use a fine nib, I would like to get a finer nib too as I love writing in thinner pen nibs. I have often use fine liners instead but they blunt if you use them for everything. This pen is a beaut. I love to do drills and handwriting practice in this pen. It’s so smooth to write with.

Buy Here

 

Tombow Dual Brush Pens – Pastels

Tombow’s are in many peoples bullet journal kits. The range of colours, the dual brush tips, the fluidity of these pens make them a firm favourite amongst many. The brush tips are firm but not too firm. You can great ombre colours easily and they blend nicely. You can also create a watercolour effect with these pens which I love!

Buy Here

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July Review and Hello August. Copyright Monsterful Mama

 

Tombow Dual Brush Pens- Full Pack (wish I owned ALL of these!)

This is really a WISH I had these than an I OWN these. I wish I had these so much. To have the whole bunch would be like someone having every single Pokemon on PokemonGo! The range of colours make it a dream purchase for so many people!

Buy Here

 

Uni Pin  Assorted Fine Liners

These pens are great for those who like to draw in pen. I use them for my ‘faux’ brush lettering, as I haven’t quite mastered it yet. I also use them for drawing grids etc. in my spreads. This pack contains 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8 nibs to help you get a range of line thickness.

Buy Here

 

Clear Ruler

This is an essential tool for creating spreads that need a grid or if creating mandala’s as you can see through the ruler to where your markers are.

Buy Here

 

Mechanical Pencil

I prefer these pencils as I don’t need to sharpen them all the time. You can use them very lightly and they are easily rubbed out where some other pencils (HB and so on) leave a dent or trace on the paper.

Buy Here

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Nursery Ideas. Copyright Monsterful Mama

 

Washi Tape

This should be in everyone’s starter kit! Now, obviously I am bias as I love, love, LOVE washi tape. I don’t use it as much as you’d think. I think less is more in terms of using it in your bullet journal but you can great that extra flare with all kinds of different patterns and colours. This set of washi is a good place to start, especially if you are after a more minimalist style in your journal.

Buy Here

 

Stabilo Pastel Highlighters

These are a little treat! They add a pinch of pastel colour to your spreads that, if you’re not so creatively inclined, can help give the appearance of it. I so often see people using them as a strike through their beautifully written dates or headers or use them to written in capitals behind beautiful script.

Buy Here

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Watercolour with TomBow’s.  Copyright Monsterful Mama

 

So what do you think?  What must you always have when creating spreads in your bullet journal?

Thanks

Monsterful Mama

 

DISCLOSURE:

Monsterful Mama is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Three Things That Make Me Truly Happy!

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Created by and copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So as life goes on, the things that makes us happy evolves.  Ten years ago I would have said something along the lines of; alcohol, sex, music, reading, video games, friends etc. Now things are so very different.  Firstly, I’m ten years older, the greys are beginning to show, I’m sure I am fatter than I was back then and I now drink coffee like it’s going out of fashion and smother most foods in garlic.  My life now is so far removed from what it used to be.  I was a confused girl back then.  I had no sense of purpose or direction.  I didn’t even know who I was let alone what truly made me happy.  You see those six things listed above are a lie.  Alcohol was damaging my relationships.  It skewed my understanding of what love was.  It replaced the need to be loved with this sickness for desire.  I yearned for someone to want me, need me, for them to not be able to function without me as I so often felt about someone else.  This sickness for desire corrupted a relationship I was in as I felt he didn’t want me enough.  You see it in the films.  A love and desire that’s so fierce that a person would do anything for you, including give up a dream job, because that’s just how much you mean to them.  I was becoming the kind of person I had hated so much as a teenager and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.  A few years later thing only seemed to be getting worse.  I was a mess and things were getting scarily out of my control.  I had lost myself in this other person.  I was no longer the bubbly, slightly in your face girl.

Now, ten years on, I finally have someone that gets that, that can provide all of that for me and has helped me grow into the woman I am not and that’s where number one comes in.

1. My soul mate:

We met eight years ago through a mutual friend.  We (my mate and I) went to the local pub for a drink as a foursome.  I remember the first moment I saw him as he walked past the floor to ceiling windows.  He looked kinda goofy.  All arms and legs with a mop of hair on his head.  I even remember the t-shirt he was wearing because it looked like a piece of paper with lines on it.  I spent the night getting a little tipsy on a drink that could’ve killed him (although I didn’t know that at the time) or at least caused a bit of swelling to the face. That evening I went home to stay at my friends house.  When we woke up the next morning, make-up round my eyes, hair askew, breathe a little stinky, I messaged him on her MSN.

‘Hello sweet cheeks!’ I wrote.

My friend and I giggled as I sent it.  We chatted with him for a while and then we went on with our day.  I didn’t speak to him much after that but I saw him again and my friends birthday party.  I spent the evening flirting with him and a week later we went on our first date.  I guess the rest is history as they say.  Eight years on this goofy, lanky, mop headed fool is my husband.  He has allowed me to be the best version of me.  He has given me the most beautiful and funniest little girl who is currently ‘singing’ to herself. He makes me laugh so hard I cant breathe and my laugh becomes a series of squeaks so high pitched that only dogs can hear it.  Yes, there are times where I could kill him but they are minimal compared to the good times, the fun times we’ve had together.  France, Belgium, Italy, JAPAN! The countless comic cons we’ve been to.  The endless hours of movie nights and the all nighter games nights.  Through all of the tears and tantrums, he has been my lobster.  Without him, the happiness I experience now, would not exist.

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Happiest Day of my Life pt 1.  Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography and Monsterful Mama.

2. My daughter:

I think it is safe to say that she is most definitely the apple of my eye.  My whole world revolves around her and her needs.  She is such a beautiful baby, inside and out.  She is only five months old but is already such a little character.  I could spend hours watching her sleep or play, listening to her test her voice with the sweetest coo’s or when she lets out a little giggle.  I love to see her reach little development milestones and I love being her mummy.  She makes me so happy that I swear I have ovaries growing on my ovaries and a heart the size of the moon.  This is a new kind of happiness though.  One I’ve never experienced before and I love every moment of it.  I cannot wait to see her become a more and more animated as she learns new things.  I am so excited for our first proper conversation and to start teaching her the ways of the world.  I look forward to seeing the woman she will become too.  It is all so new and exciting.

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Big Girls Lunch.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

3. Friendships:

Many times I’ve read that becoming a mummy means your social life will suffer.  Friends will disappear and family will only want to come round to see the baby, not you.  Yet, this is not true for me.  Since Zosia was born my friendships have strengthened.  The lads love to come round to see Zosia (they pretend they want to play cards but I know its cos they love our cheeky little monkey!).  I meet up with the girls regularly and it’s helped to rebuild bridges with a few old friends.  I am sure I will lose a friend or two on the way, I think that will be inevitable but I also look forward to making new friends, mummy friends, super nerdy, awesome friends!  Since I left my home town, I found it really hard to make new friends.  Sure, the lads are my friends too, but they were his friends first.  I was missing female companionship.  At university I made few acquaintances but nobody that would stick around for long.  So it makes me very happy that I now have a few gal pals to hang out and scoff ice-cream with every now and then.

What is happiness to you?  What makes you truly happy?  Leave me a comment and let me know.
Thanks
Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama