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
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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

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

 

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

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