Setting Some November Goals

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November Goals. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Guess who’s back?!? YAY! It’s good to be back. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to those who have stuck around.

It has been a long, hard two months being back at work full time, but now I am finally free. I’ll be working part time doing supply teaching so I’ll have so much more time to spend with my family and to blog. For me, giving up my secure job was a tough choice to make but one that needed to be made. When you start a family, your priorities shift greatly. Compromise is no longer an option when it comes to those you love the most. So I have many things planned in the coming months when it comes to spending time with my little family. We’ve recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary so we made sure to make it a special one that included our beautiful little girl. Zosia’s first Christmas is fast approaching and we want to make it one to remember, even if she wont! We’re planning more days out and about and I plan on attending more mum and baby groups in my local area.

Blog wise, I have so many posts to catch up on but to start lets think about setting November’s blogging goals.

  1. Catch up on brands posts and correspondences (sorry if you are a brand that’s reached out and I haven’t got back to you, you were always in my thoughts I promise!)
  2. Catch up on Bullet Journal things and blogging about it
  3. Write an update post for Zosia
  4. Christmas ideas for baby and you
  5. Baby Led Weaning – our experiences so far (possibly some recipe ideas too)

That’s only five points but it is a lot of work. I am looking forward to getting on with some things now as I have been chomping at the bit. Along side these blogging goals I would like to work on a few personal goals too.

  1. Cook food from scratch so that Zosia can eat what we eat.
  2. Start doing Yoga regularly again, either at home or part of a group.
  3. Get organised for Christmas – including hand making gifts and decorations.

So,  that’s it for me, what have you got planned for November? Are you as excited for Christmas as we are?

Much love,

Monsterful Mama

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Zosia – 6 Months Update

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Meeting the Penguins. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Nobody said motherhood was going to be easy. Nobody said that some days you would just want to cry all day long. Nobody said that teacher tired would be a joke compared to new mum tired and I can only imagine how bad it must be with two or more! Nobody told me that once you have given birth, time automatically goes on fast-forward.

Zosia is now six months old! I simply cannot deal with how quickly this has gone. 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.

I’m not going to deny that motherhood has changed me but I think it’s fair to say that we’ve adjusted to parenthood particularly well. Of course it helps that we have such a well behaved baby. She’s an angel really. She’s not a fussy, clingy baby. She is quite independent in the sense that she’s happy to chill with a toy while we work. She lets us know when she is bored or hungry. She rarely complains or cries. She’s always smiling, even if she is fed up. We’ve been so lucky.

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Summer Smiles. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

I know that things can always change of course. We are just beginning to teethe and will soon be toddling so we fully understand that things are about to kick up a notch. If I am completely honest I am looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see our little pudding pop crawling about the place, chatting to her toys. Watching her grow up, watching her learn through trial and error makes every sleepless night, every tear and tantrum worth it.

The update.

Zosia can now hold herself up whilst standing, but not for too long. She needs something to hold on to and I’m always right behind her, ready to catch her if she falls. She gets so excited when she realises she’s holding herself up. This often leads to an excited wiggle which topples her but she still smiles.

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Standing Tall. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

We began weaning at about five and a half months. She loves food. She was still hungry after full bottles (260ml/9ounces) so after speaking to the HV we decided to begin weaning early. We started small. One meal a day for a week and gradually increased as time went on. We introduced her to puréed vegetables as we were worried that baby led weaning this early would be terrifying. Turns out it’s terrifying no matter how old they are! She loves her vegetables, bananas and rusks. We use the reduced sugar ones as my hubby and I are both terrible sugar addicts! She’s now having a go at feeding herself. We first tried banana but it’s far too slimy for her to grab and hold. Then, on her six month milestone we treated her to some cooked vegetables and frozen yoghurt. She really loved being able to play with the food. She enjoyed trying to pick up the carrot and the cucumber and even though the broccoli was too soft, she loved trying to eat it. There was some choking. I come close to a heart attack maybe two or three times every meal time but she is learning to swallow. She can get a tad frustrated if she’s too hungry so we’re trying to pre-empt when she’s going to be hungry and feed her before she gets to ‘hangry’. Her meal times are pretty easy to predict which helps. As we transition into baby led weaning, we get to watch her learn and process new skills and we love it. Our little lady is growing up so fast.

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Print – Created by and Copyright of Monsterful Mama

She rolls over with minimal effort now but still can’t roll left. She holds her head up nice  and high when having some tummy time and has even been caught watching telly whilst on her front. She will often roll towards an object to try and get it and this makes changing her nappy more challenging. She will reach out for her bottle when you’re feeding her and when we feed her purée she will reach for the spoon to feed herself. She also enjoys grabbing chunks of my hair, even when it’s up in a pony tail or bun. She just wraps her fingers up in your hair and yanks.

She loves to play with her mirror. Smiles and laughs at it. Not yet realising it’s her in the mirror but it’s so cute. To be honest, she soon gets bored of it and ends up trying to eat it. Everything goes in her mouth these days. She can now use her hands to pick up toys and will reach for one if you offer it to her.  She will choose which toy she wants to play with out of a few on offer.  She even chooses which purée pouch she wants for lunch.

She’s always chewing her hands as she’s teething but she has been doing this since about 12 weeks. Her first little teeth have just cut over the last few days.  We didn’t even notice until she was chewing daddies finger.  There was no change in behaviour, no tears etc.  She is such a good girl.

She can now sit up on her own but tends to slump forward or fall to one side after a while. She’s slowly getting better at picking herself up. She rocks back and forth when sitting on your lap and we’ve guessed it’s to help strengthen her core muscles so that she can hold herself up for longer. She is also practising pulling herself up from laying down. She’ll let you know if she doesn’t want to lay down any more because she will grunt and do baby crunches.

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Ice Creams. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

She has now found her feet and it’s the cutest thing. She chews on her big toe and everything. Sometimes if she has been asleep in her downstairs bed, we will know when she’s awake because you can just see her feet popping out the top as she plays with them.

She can give a high five. Okay, we know she’s just slapping her hands on ours but hey! She thinks it’s funny. She loves to smack us! She laughs at a lot of stuff now. Including herself when she sneezes. She loves being tickled and she giggles when pretend to eat her up.

She is mimicking sounds more now. She gurgles her spit in her throat to make a funny sound. She can say mama. She doesn’t know what she’s saying and it’s mostly when she’s getting hungry, fed up or tired but hey, I’ll take it. We’re pretty sure she said ‘I love you’ this morning too. Obviously we know she didn’t actually say the words but she mimicked the sounds I made as I said it to her. She often spends time in her crib talking to herself and wakes us up by chatting to herself in the mornings.

She is now becoming more interactive when we go out. She used to just sit in her prom taking the world in but now she loves to sing the song of her people which isn’t too dissimilar to whale song! She will play with her toys too.

She loves it when friends come round. She will take a few minutes to recognise them but once she does she will smile at them and ‘talk’ to them.

If she is tired when you’re holding her, she will snuggle into you. She will just face palm you and rub her eyes. It’s so cute.

I can’t really think of anything else at the moment. As I’ve said before, each day is a gift. We love to watch her become a little person. Her character is coming through and it is cheeky. We can already tell that she will be a mischievous little imp when she’s older and we’re okay with that. We’re really excited for the next six months. The crawling, the eating, the growing, the talking. It’s all going to be a wonderful adventure and we cannot wait.

Thanks for reading,

Monsterful Mama

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Celebrating 6 Months. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

 

Mama Rants 2 – Parent Parking Bays

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So, today’s rant is bought to you by ‘twats that park in parent parking bays’.

So many times I’ve gone into town or to the local supermarket and stupidly driven down to the parent parking bays expecting to find a space. It’s silly of me to assume there will be any available spaces for us because it is quite obvious that the generously sized spaces that are conveniently located close to the store entrance are very enticing to some (lazy) people. Now, let me set this straight, this is not a parking ‘faux pas’. This is down right lazy and irresponsible. Most recently we witnessed a woman casually drive into a parent parking bay (she didn’t even straighten her car up – I also hate people that park REALLY lazily!). I watched and waited to see if she would try to get a pushchair out of the back of her car. She did not. She was wearing gym clothes so I assume her workout was so intense that she could not walk the few extra steps from a normal parking bay.

‘Won’t somebody please think of the children?!’

I’m honestly not sure why on earth you would do this. Are people really that lazy? Do they even realise the hassle of trying to get a baby or toddler out of a normal bay? The spacing in parent parking bays, or even a disabled bays are much bigger than normal parking bays for a reason. Not so you can haul your tired, post workout butt out of your car and so you can walk fewer steps to the shop. They are separated by a walkway for a reason, so that we can park and have clear access to our boots without the hassle of some twat who has parked right up our jacksie! They are placed closer to the shop so that there is less danger to any small children that may be walking to the shop with us. With cars reversing in and out of bays, many without double checking, the car park is an extremely hazardous place for littlies.

This young lady was not the first, nor will she be the last offender. Men are just as bad. I’ve seen countless men sitting in the parent bays, no child seat in sight, having a ciggi and a chat. These spaces are not a layby – if you need to pull up for a cigarette, do it somewhere else. I do not want my children having to breathe in your cancerous fumes. I am not sure how people can be so inconsiderate. Anyway, does anybody really know the law around these parking bays. We all know that you should get a parking fine if you park in a disabled bay without a blue badge and get caught (HA! I wish more people would get caught out by this!), but is there even a law or any rules to parking in parent bays? If not, should there be?

Should the government be able to ticket people who are taking up our parking spaces?

Well, after having a quick Google, it would appear that there is no law that is being broken (why on earth not?) when people do this. Although there are some leading supermarkets that apply their own set of rules for this (yay). The problem being, is how can they really enforce this rule without the help of the government? According to one source (Motor.co.uk), Asda have been known to hand out a Parking Charge Notice (not to be confused with a fine) to offenders for up to £50. This is however, fairly easy to avoid paying. Other supermarkets have their own rules in place but are quite relaxed about it.

So the question is, should the government; local council or even the police, be able to issue fines to people who are taking up our parking spaces? I think the answer has to be yes, not just for the sakes of us poor parents struggling to get a parking spot, but also so they can make more money to be able to fix the roads (pothole season is nearly upon us people), so that they can get more people out in car parks to help enforce parking issues and eventually make more money for the police departments (or Theresa May and her cronies back pockets more like) so they can better police our streets.

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As fairly new parents, I would like to add that for us it is purely about the space needed to get baby out of the car safely. We don’t mind having to walk a bit to the shop. We are the kind of people that even before we had our baby, we would park far away (less opportunity for simple folk to ding our car doors) from the shop entrance. I hate having to leave the push chair base at the back of the car in the road whilst I try to navigate a tight space to get Zosia out. I worry that somebody will try to steal the base, or the nappy bag etc. I am not silly enough to leave my handbag on the pushchair. I worry that if I try to put the shopping in the car first, somebody will either hit the pushchair or try to snatch her. I shouldn’t have to be worried about these things. I should be able to have my pushchair beside my car, not worrying about dinging the car next me or anything else, and safely get my baby into my car. Is that really too much to ask for?

I would love to hear about your parking woes (yes, I know it sounds dull) so let me know in the comments. Also let me know what you think about expectant mothers using these bays. Should they be catered for in these bays or have their own?

Thanks

Monsterful Mama

An Interview with Chloe Lee – Wedding Photographer

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If you know me personally, you’ll know that I don’t make friends easily. So, about a year ago I joined a little group in my borough. Most of the people in the group were older, by quite a bit. There was a few people nearer my age but admittedly I do tend to judge a book by its cover (I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t but it is an easy way to spot people who may have common interests). So when I first saw Chloe, with her big glasses, tattoos and quirky attire, I knew I wanted to get to know her.

Long story short, were now very good friends. We have a lot in common so get on really well. I knew I wanted her to do our photography the moment I saw her website. It’s full of great images that are bright and colourful. So after doing a bit of on-line stalking, we finally asked her to be our photographer. But, Chloe wasn’t just our photographer, she also had a place at our wedding as a friend and was involved in a lot in the build up to the big day and even helped with my hen do and the morning of the wedding. We’ve spent many hours together sorting the creative aspect of it all, hand making a lot of the decorations. My hubby and I consider ourselves very lucky to be able to call Chloe a friend.

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Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography

‘I prefer to document the day as it happens. I’ll still capture all the little details that you’ve planned and made, the family photographs for your nan’s mantelpiece and of course awesome portraits of you having fun and being super loved up.’

Whilst sipping coffee and having a catch up, I decided to do a little interview with Chloe. Having the chance to interview a friend is a strange thing, but it’s a great experience. I took the chance to ask her some questions about her work and life, so I’ll stop gushing about our friendship so you guys can get to know Chloe for yourselves.

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Chloe and I. Copyright of Monsterful Mama and Chloe Lee.

About Chloe

Chloe Lee (26), born and bred in Essex, is a Harry Potter obsessed wedding photographer. She studied photography at college and went on to do it at degree level in Bristol. Having dabbled in fashion photography for a while, she then found her calling as a wedding photographer and has been for two years. Her image style is alternative, fun and quirky, and is pretty relaxed and informal. Chloe becomes apart of your day with her insane ability to mingle yet be invisible so that she can catch those candid photos of your big day. You can find out more about her here.

What hobby would you do if money was no object?

If I had all of the money, I would love to get into property developing. I love up-cycling furniture but renovating a house would take that hobby to a whole new level!

What skill would you like to master?

I would love to play the piano, especially classical piano. I think when played right it is so beautiful and such a hard thing to master. Although I maybe would say it’s much like art in that I do think it’s a lot about having musical talent than simply learning a skill.

What are some small things that make life better?

Chocolate, tea, cheese, Netflix…

When did you first know that you wanted to be a wedding photographer?

After I photographed my first wedding! I helped a friend on a wedding as uni term was nearly over and I wanted to get out with my camera and it was like I’d stepped into another universe and literally was that cliché light bulb moment of “Wow! This is so much more than I thought it would be,” and from then on, I spent a few years doing the occasional wedding or assisting job to build up my portfolio.

What are you most looking forward to in the next ten years?

Hopefully buying a house, travelling and meeting lots of awesome couples!

What habit would you like to unlearn if you could?

Nail biting… it’s my worst habit.

What has been your favourite experience?

Ah there’s been so many! Going to France to shoot a wedding was pretty awesome though!

List five things you always carry with you.

Phone, pen, notepad, lipstick and business cards.

Who would you have photograph your wedding?

I’m super lucky to have lots of talented photographer friends but from the moment I discovered Camera Hannah’s work a few years ago, followed her journey and then met her earlier this year so, it would definitely be her without a doubt!

How would you describe your photography style?

Alternative, Fun, quirky, informal, creative, and colourful!

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So, if you’re getting married, Chloe is available and doesn’t mind travelling the extra mile.  I would definitely recommend her to you all. You can check out her gallery here.

Chloe on Facebook

Chloe on Instagram

Thanks for reading.

Peace and love,

Monsterful Mama

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

Retiring the Boob.

So, it’s July and I’m not sure if I can believe it’s been 18 weeks since I gave birth. The day will be etched into my memory for eternity.  The moment she was heaved out of my battered and tired body and unceremoniously plonked upon my chest will be my favourite memory of her because she was finally here.  At last we could say hello to our little warrior princess, and what a warrior she was. Screaming her beautiful purple head off, she was letting the world know that she had arrived.  I was instantly in love with her. I couldn’t contain my happiness and burst into tears of pure elation (with a pinch of exhaustion).  I watched as her daddy cut the cord.  There is not much in the world that will make you fall in love with your husband all over again than watching him in that tiny moment.  As he looks at you, and he looks at her and you can see that his love is, and will always be as powerful as yours.

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First Cuddles.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

I ushered daddy off to look after baby while I ‘birthed’ the placenta and was sown back up like a shirt that had been torn in bloody battle.  I was asked if I was going to breast feed to which I promptly exclaimed ‘Of course I am’.  The first time she latched on I was mesmerised by her.  I watched as she effortlessly found my nipple and began to suckle away at her first meal.  I was hypnotised by the unbreakable bond that was being strengthened by this most natural of motherly duties.  I was adamant that I would breastfeed exclusively as I imagine many new mothers do.  I had done my research and I was sold.  There was no way I was giving her formula. As some of you may know, that was about as good as it got.

Every mother makes a choice before their baby is born.  Each mothers decision is her own and based on her own personal circumstance and I will respect that but for me it was only ever going to be breast.  After a week in hospital exclusively breast feeding, I was finding things difficult but I was not going to give up.  We encountered all kinds of issues.  Firstly, Zosia has a tongue tie but we’re lucky enough that it doesn’t cause her any problems feeding.  Secondly, it f*****g hurt!  Nobody ever explains how much pain you experience when you first start breastfeeding.  Everyone pushes it because it’s best for baby etc. but they fail to mention the excruciating pain you get until your nipples toughen up.  I never even knew I would need ‘tough nipples’.  So when my nipples began to bleed and crack I was so scared (there definitely needs to more support and information available to first time mums).  Luckily my hospital was right next to a high-street baby shop so hubby popped over to get some nipple cream.  Now, if you are an expectant first time mother who is planning on breastfeeding I would highly recommend that you should pack some in your hospital bag ASAP!

As I had done my research, I was fully aware that my milk might take a while to come in but we pushed on.  She was feeding little and often but she wasn’t crying or complaining so we assumed she was getting enough from me.  It wasn’t until we had gone home and had our first midwife visit that we realised things weren’t right.  She had an infection.

NOTE: this part is a little difficult to discuss at the moment but I will come back to it one day.  I did however find that reading another mums recent blog post about how she dealt with her son being in hospital helped a great deal.  She was able to put into words a lot of the thoughts I felt at the time but am not ready to process just yet.  You can find her blog post here – http://frame.bloglovin.com/?post=5744541781&blog=13526577&frame_type=feed I hope that you may find it as helpful as I did.

Whilst at the hospital, I was made aware that I would need to top up with formula milk. Of course I was asked if I was okay with this but I didn’t really have a choice.  I’m sure you can image just how bitterly disappointed I was when I realised that I wasn’t able to make enough milk for her.  At this point my beautiful baby girl was stuck in a plastic box with wires everywhere and machines beeping constantly.  She needed more than I could provide her.

The feeling of self loathing was hard to deal with. Whilst Zosia was in NICU I cried almost every day.  I was really struggling with how much of a failure I felt.  I had failed my little girl at the one thing I was made to do.  Even when my milk finally game through properly, it still wasn’t enough for her.  As time went by, topping her up after breastfeeding became the opposite.  Before I knew it I was the appetiser to the main course of formula.  I will always find this incredibly difficult to deal with. When we have another child I will now know that I may need to include formula.  Not knowing that to begin with made the first few weeks of her life some of the hardest we have ever experienced.

Now as my supply has steadily diminished as the weeks have flown by, I have to deal with those feelings of being a failure again.  The supply is practically non-existent. Each time I try to feed her I’m almost in tears.  Dealing with this feeling of inadequacy several times a day, takes a toll on your mental health.  I feel like I have let her down.  It doesn’t matter how many people try to convince me otherwise, I will continue to feel this way. Today, as I write this, I have not breast fed her at all.  It feels strange, like the bond is weakened somewhat.  I have to remind myself that this is silly.  I’m not sure if I am imagining this but there is a sense that she had picked up on this and seems more needy lately.  In the last few days she has demanded more cuddles and in the morning she wont self sooth herself to sleep, she wants snuggles to help her drift off.  What I do know though, is that when she grows up she will not care how she was fed.  I know she will not blame me or accuse me of not trying.  She will still be my perfect little darling. She is such a happy little girl and will always know how much I love her.  I must remind myself that I tried my best and I should be proud of what I have achieved so far, but to save my sanity, it is now time to retire the boobs.

If, for whatever reasons you too are thinking about retiring the boob, the NHS does provide information to help you make an informed decision either way.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/stopping-breastfeeding.aspx

Thanks for reading.  If you have been through something similar please feel free to drop me a comment.  I enjoy reading about other peoples stories and knowing that I am not alone in this.

Monsterful Mama.

Mindfulness: how to be mindful everyday.

 

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Does it always seem like the busier you are, the less in control you feel? It’s easy to get lost in the mundane of everyday life, be it at work or at home. We are all guilty of being a mindless zombie, trudging through life searching for brains but what happens when you finally find one? Do you scoff it down so fast it barely touches the sides? Do you eat it without thinking about it is you’re actually eating in the first place. Now take out the analogy because it’s slightly gross and apply it to something slightly healthier and more appetising, like your daily bowl of cereal. Do you still scoff it down mindlessly? Do you eat your breakfast on autopilot every morning? Think about it, you had oats today but what did you have yesterday, or the day before or even last week? Living life on autopilot might seem like an effective way to get things done but where is the fun in that? Trying to do too much means we miss out on the beauty of every day.

It’s understandable that if you’re leading a hectic lifestyle, keeping things simple is the easy option but self care is just as important. The idea of self care is to make time for yourself. The simplest way to do so is to just pause. Take a break from the madness and stop. Stop the task you’re doing. Sit or stand where you are and think – not about work or the task you were doing but the spoon in your hand, the sound outside the window, the taste of your cereal, really think about it.

It sounds easy doesn’t it. Just stop and think about your spoon, it’s not a hard task. Stopping what you are doing and thinking in the moment, not the past or future but the present, this very moment but did you try it? As a teacher (and a new mum) I know all too well just how difficult it is to switch off. It’s not a 9-5 kind of job where home is the work free sanctuary. Home becomes an extension of work with half your marking piled up on the dinner table most evenings. You want to switch off but don’t want to become a hemp wearing, vege munching hippy (we love you really!). Mindfulness is an incredible tool that can allow you to switch off from work, from those mundane tasks, from whatever it is causing an imbalance in your life. Using mindfulness to take a break, a brief and intentional pause from your own thoughts can enable you to stop and reset, reconnect with your mind, body and surroundings.

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Mindfulness Watercolour.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

How do I let go and be in the moment?

At school I use one simple thing. The chocolate button. The kids love it because they get a treat, the teacher because the whole class is quite for 2 minutes and you’ll love it because it’s being naughty whilst being good to yourself.

Follow my 5 step plan to help you become mindful.

First things first, disconnect yourself. Turn off all electronic devices. We don’t want to be interrupted. Make sure you have some chocolate buttons in reach. Get a yoga mat, blanket or cushion. We want to be comfortable. Make sure you read ahead before you begin and just remember that we are all human, if your mind wanders don’t beat yourself up about it. Just refocus and move forwards.

Step 1: Make sure you are sitting comfortably with your eyes closed. Listen to the sounds around you. What can you hear? The fridge whirring? The neighbours getting ready for work or the birds outside chirping? Shut that out! That is a distraction that will lead your thoughts astray. Instead focus on your breathing . Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Inhale

Exhale

Step 2: Once you’ve refocused your mind, take a single chocolate button (only one is needed, this is not an exercise in eating chocolate!). Place the button on your tongue. Let it rest there. Don’t swallow it. Think in this moment only. Think about the chocolate, the texture of it, the taste. It’s melting. You’re salivating, it’s yummy. (If your mind wanders or you ‘accidentally’ eat the button, just get another and bring it back to the moment by focusing back on the breathes).

Step 3: The chocolate is almost gone. Don’t rush to finish it, savour it. The velvety chocolate resting on your tongue as it slowly disappears. Once it’s gone, don’t open your eyes, remain in the moment. Focus on the feeling in this moment. The euphoria of now. Let the moment wash over you. Let the corners of your mouth stretch into a smile.

Step 4: Refocus back to your b

reathing. Taking deep breaths.

Inhale

Exhale

Inhale … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Exhale… 2 … 3 … 4 …

In … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Out … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Step 5: Open your eyes. Continue to focus on your breathing before you get moving again. Stand up, stretch it out. You’ve just completed your first mindfulness exercise. How did it feel? Now is your time to reflect. Not on life but on the feeling inside. Do you feel ready to face the day? Alive and kicking? Good! Enjoy it.

You can use other foods such as a raisin or other dried fruit. Something that won’t disappear too easily but that will still excite the taste buds and awaken the sense. Try adding this to you daily routine and see the difference it makes. This is one of many mindfulness exercise that can help you you take back NOW, to refocus your mind on the moment and prepare for the day ahead.

Other exercises to try:

Walking: this is a great source of low impact exercise that can invigorate the body and the mind. The fresh air and the sunshine on your face helps to refocus your thoughts.

Making tea/coffee: the step by step process may seem like a mundane task but you focus on what you are doing in each step. You can be in each moment and you get to enjoy a cuppa.

This may seem like the opposite of what you need to do to refocus your mind but it is about taking time out and enjoying a bit of self care. Reflect on what you are reading and switch off from work and life.

Meditation: mindfulness is rooted in meditation. If you need that time to come back to the moment, to de-stress, you can take 5 where ever you are. Just find a quite spot and enjoy a moments peace.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. It’s really cheap as there are a lot of free apps available. They will guide you through each session and some even provide music to meditate to. Applying mindfulness to your everyday can bring about positive changes to your mental well-being and it’s so easy to get started.

I hope you like my little intro to mindfulness. As I said, there are so many great apps and guides out there so get looking and get trying. If you do try the chocolate button exercise drop me a comment and let me know how you get on.

Monsterful Mama

Follow my blog with BloglovinMindful everyday

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Presenting Zosia

The date it all began – Friday 24th February 2017. It’s my nan’s birthday.  She would have been 93.  I miss her with every inch of my soul and it breaks my heart to think that she’ll never meet baby Zosia. I wanted to make sure Zosia will always know about her great nan.  So we shared her name with Zosia.  Ellen Charity Kate was a little too long, so we chose to use Ellen as her middle name – Zosia Ellen.

Nan and Me
My nan and I. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

I’ve always wanted to be a mummy.  My way of showing affection is similar to all the things I loved about my Nan as a kid.  Buy them things and feed them up good and proper, so I often ply my husband with gifts of cupcakes, muffins, big bags of fancy crisps, lots of bacon… the list goes on (luckily he doesn’t get fat haha!).  I always hoped I would get a chance to prove myself as a fairly decent mum.  I’ve always loved other people’s kids. Being a mum has been one of my biggest dreams but until now, I’d never had the security to allow it.

playing mum
Playing Mum with my Sister. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

My past is scattered with failed, destructive relationships which often ended with me hitting my own self-destruct button.  I’ve always been the kinda girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, but there are only so many times it can get beaten, battered and bruised before one begins to bottle it up and not let it out again.  Apparently you have to wade through some pretty tough times before you can see the light.  And my light came in the shape of Aaron.  We met in 2009, married in 2016 and Zosia joined us this year – 2017.

My waters broke on this day, like a sign from my Nan that she was with us, watching over us from wherever she was.  I wasn’t sure at first. I thought it was my mucus plug but when I couldn’t get off the loo for leakages I began to realise what was going on.

THIS IS IT!  OH SHIT!  I’M GUNNA BE A MUM!

Zosia was born a day before her original due date, two days after my waters broke.  A labour lasting 51 hours, active labour lasting 19 hours. Infections x2.  I never do things the easy way or even the right way.  I had no signs of labour being imminent until my waters broke that morning. I will never forget those days or the two weeks in hospital afterwards.  Birth was traumatic and those first two weeks even more so (but that’s another story for another time). But here I sit, four months later, writing about that fateful day whilst the little madam catches some Z’s next to me.

She is the reason for my everything.   Her smiles when she wakes up in the middle of the night make it all worth it.  Her little coo’s, her squeals, her baby babble all make my whole existence worth it.  This is what I was made for.  She makes you laugh when she farts in her sleep.  She amazes you when she mimics sounds you make to her.  When she grabs your hand your heart melts.  She is my world.  My beautiful bundle of squishiness and I will love her forever.

Mummy - Daughter
Zosia and I. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

Monsterful Mama

 

What is a numpty anyway?

So I recently made a post on a Facebook group about sharing my new blog.  I said something along the lines of being a sleep deprived numpty and someone asked me what that meant.  So for anybody not from England or the UK, it basically means a silly person; a wally, a doughnut or a numpty!  The English language can be a funny one and this lead me to thinking about other words that mean something in the UK but might be completely meaningless to anyone else.  Most of these words are dated, as in we don’t tend to use them much anymore, unless were trying to be polite of course but this could be fun!

say what

Cack:  something that isn’t very good.  “This is cack mate!”

Chuffed: to be happy with the outcome of something.  “I was so chuffed with my new painting.”

Cheesy: something that is a bit tacky or outdated. “This movie is so cheesy!”

Dearie/Darling: a term of endearment.  “Your baby is such a darling!”

Fanny: this has several meanings.  It can be a term of endearment – “Alright Fanny-Anne?” It can mean stop being idle and get on with it. “Stop fannying about and finish your homework.” Or it is used as another word for ladies genitals.  I don’t think we need it in a sentence here!

NOTE – A fannypack or bumbag is a bag/belt/purse thing worn around the waist.

Faff: another word for being idle. “Stop faffing and start packing!”

Gobbledegook: nonsense.  Something with an unclear meaning. Also refers to some TV program from the 80’s/90’s- Goobledegook, Gobbledegook, that the way the talky turks!  “He is talking absolute gobbledegook, he’s not making any sense!”

Gibberish: nonsense again.  “Anyone know what he is trying to say? He is talking gibberish!”

Hogwash/Poppycock: nonsense similar to gobbledegook.  “It’s all a lie.  He is speaking absolute hogwash!”  “What a load of poppycock!”

Muggy: a word that means it is humid weather.  “It’s proper muggy heat today!”

Wee:  two meanings – wee as in something small or wee as in need to urinate.  “What a bonny wee lass she was.” Or “I was busting for a wee, I nearly wet myself.”

There are so many I could go on for days! If you can think of anymore, add them in the comments.

I’m thinking this might make an interesting bullet journal page.   I already have a spread for beautiful words.  Watch this space!

Monsterful Mama