What a lovely day this is. Summer has gone! At last. I know this is will be a wildly unpopular opinion but I hated this summer so much. It was quite literally like living through the Nicolas Cage film – The Knowing. I was wondering if we were all done for, if this beautiful earth of ours was about to ignite into a massive ball of fire. To be fair, the way we are treating the planet we probably deserve such a horrific end.
Autumn is the most beautiful of all the seasons. The colour changes in the trees have to be one of my favourite things of the entire year. There is a journey that we often take, a motorway surrounded by countryside. As you come down into the valley you are greeted by swathes of oranges, reds and yellows. If you’re lucky, there will be mist deep in the valley. It is quite magical. Even as a child I would try to take mental pictures every year. I’ll have to see if I can get a proper picture one day.
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
Autumn by Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914)
The air changes. It becomes crisp and fresh with an earthy dampness to it. Temperatures drop but the sun still shines. Sun rises and sun sets glow like the sky is on fire. Red berries burst from bushes and creatures scurry about in preparation for winter. Pumpkins grow fat, hay is baled and harvest is celebrated. I couldn’t imagine a better season. Sure, I know by the time it comes around again, spring will give autumn a run for it’s money but after a long, dry summer, autumn is a refreshing reprieve.
Personally, I long for a woolly jumper, a wonderful cup of hot chocolate, lazy afternoons in front of our new log burner with blankets and Netflix. I want to make stew again, and bake apple pie. I want to scuff my feet around in the piles of leaves and snuggle down deep into my coat against the chill air. I long to climb into bed with a thick duvet and cold sheets, to stretch my chilly feet out across the bed and warm them up on my husband. I’m looking forward to creating autumn inspired pieces in my bullet journal. October is our wedding anniversary too, so we will also be celebrating that somehow.
As a family, we have many things planned for Zosia to experience. I am looking forward to picking our own pumpkins and taking cute pictures of her wandering around the pumpkin patch. I want her to experience walking through puddles and kicking up the leaves. I can’t wait to buy her some wellies. I want to see her amazement at all the wonderful things that autumn will bring us, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. I want to take her to her first fire works show and to create autumnal works of art with her. Being a winter baby, I hope she likes the colder seasons as much as we do. Having a child makes the seasons come alive. I cannot wait to explore autumn with Zosia, to teach her about conkers and learn about the creatures and animals.
Our top 10 Things to do this Autumn:
Visit a local farm
Make our own autumnal wreath
Go to a ‘Pick Your Own’ Pumpkin patch
Craft with fallen leaves
Make a pine cone bird feeder
Make apple or pumpkin pie
Explore a local woods or forest
Use the new wood burner
Splash in puddles and run through crunchy leaves
The best thing of all, is that autumn leads to Christmas and winter and I cannot wait for that this year! I’ve created an autumn bucket list and I hope to get as much of it done as possible. What do you like most about this time of year? How many things do you think you’ll get ticked off? Drop me a comment below.
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.
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.
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!’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you been anywhere nice during the winter months? Any recommendations in the local area?
Thanks for reading.
Love and Peace,
Want to find out more? Why not check out Colchester Zoo’s website and social media links.
As we all know, a new year means new goals, or rather refreshed goals that we may not have achieved last year, or the year before. For the last ten years at least my New Years resolutions have featured weight loss of some kind. Some years have been more successful than others, but nevertheless my weight has increased. Most recently I had lost 2 stone in the run up to our wedding. Naturally, having a baby has impacted my ever increasing waistline and here I sit, writing this blog post at my heaviest. So what’s to be done? Do I repeat the same old goal of weight loss as I do every year, no matter how much I’ve failed? Or do I mask it as something else? ‘Stop eating takeaway food!’?
One of the goals that I have already set myself is positive thinking. So I’ll take a more positive spin on things, I’ll make my goals steps toward positive thoughts rather than remarking on the negative. Having glanced around google, I’ll try to make my goals SMART. They will be Significant steps broken down to be Meaningful and Measurable steps that are easily Attainable. These steps will be Rewarding and kept Relevant and of course I will find ways to make them Trackable in my bullet journal so I can measure the time it takes to achieve them.
To begin with, I’ve spent some time thinking about what is truly important to me this year. Determined not to get stuck in the monotony of the seemingly unachievable ‘lose weight’, I looked for ways to make my goals much more positive. I think this year will be more focused on breaking bad habits. Changing how I think about my goals and how I feel when I don’t achieve them. I’ll need to break down each goal into smaller steps that are easier to achieve. I will need to review the goals regularly to see how I am getting on. The plan is to review once a month. I will also be looking at ways to incorporate mindfulness into the everyday, a kind of ‘Practice What You Preach’ sort of thing. I will need to think about how I can be mindful of the things I am doing or thinking that will have a negative impact on my progress.
As I’ve said already, I plan on using my bullet journal a lot more this year to help me stay on track (keep an eye out for a post on how to utilise your bullet journal for goal tracking later this month). I am in the process of creating spreads to help me manage this. I recently read somewhere that writing your goals down will help to make you more accountable for them. As if having them written down makes you more aware of them, less likely to forget them. I also read that sharing them with people helps with this too. I always share my goals with my husband so that he can help to keep me on track and of course, I am now sharing them with you. I should also mention that my word of the year is discipline and I aim to remind myself of this every time I slip up.
So with all that being said, what are my goals for this year? To start, I’ve broken my goals down into six categories. I’ve chosen these categories as I feel they are areas that need the most work.
Hopefully this will make it easier to keep organised, to visualise each goal and each step within each goal. So let’s begin.
I know my problem with food stems from my mindset. I see food as a comfort so I need to break the habit of binge eating, and reaching for the snacks when I am bored or tired. Just looking at the scales is upsetting enough yet still I reach. However, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t want to set a ‘lose weight’ goal. Instead I want to focus on how I can lose weight by changing some bad habits. I began to compile a list of things that needed to change. I thought about the poor food choices I was making, the lack of water I was drinking, the lack of exercise I was doing and how often we rely on take away food. Then I thought about how to make it positive and achievable.
Fewer Take Aways
– No more than one takeaway a month
(Can I make a tracker for this…?)
Make better food choices
– Start cooking meals from scratch again
– Make time to cook
Make sure you eat all three meals, no skipping lunch
– Stop making excuses, get up and do it.
Drink more water
– Get a glass of water (or squash at the very least) when you make your first coffee
Start Yoga at home
– Get a yoga app
– Make a yoga tracker in my bullet journal
– Use yoga at least 3 or 4 times a week
– Get up early to do it (even if you’re working)
Exercise More Frequently
– Create a tracker to monitor exercise
– Go for walks with Zosia
– Complete a ‘fun’ run for charity
Remember why you are doing this!
How can I begin to change my habits? Habits I have had for most of my life. I think first of all I need to start thinking about my triggers. I already know all too well that my bad eating habits stem from three things; a lack of discipline, boredom and negative moods. Focusing on negative moods is where my mind goals will coming from.
– Don’t create unnecessary drama
– Don’t get sucked into other peoples drama
– Remain calm in difficult situations.
– Try not to over react to the little things
– Remind yourself of the things that keep you going every day
– Help others in need more
– Regular meditation time
– Spend less time plugged in. Step away from social media for at least 10 minutes a day (to start with)
Be more positive
– Think happy thoughts
– Keep a list of all the things that make you happy in your bullet journal
Learn to love yourself
– Accept the little slips and move on
– Remind yourself that nobody is perfect
– Stop making negative comments about yourself
– Be kinder to yourself, you know if you’re doing the best you can do or not
Last year my goal was to get creative more often and for the most part I was successful in this. I have improved my hand lettering and been braver using water colours more often. This year I want to take this a step further and hopefully start making some money out of it.
Write a children’s picture book
– Start with a book for Zosia this year, then go from there
– Work out how you want it to look
– Think about what the moral of the story is
– Make time to get this done
Start Zosia’s scrapbook
– Enlist the help from bestie
– Don’t be afraid to commit to it
– Make note of all the important milestones
Keep going with the bullet journal
– utilise the blog journal more
– Make sure it is as practical as it is pretty
Create more things to sell on Etsy
– Scan in work you have already
– Create a calendar for 2019
+ Scan it in to make a digital copy of it
– Finish setting up Etsy shop
– Share the s**t out of it on social media
– Create digital planners for bloggers to use
– Write more blog posts about my creative side
Believe in yourself more
– Remind yourself that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.
– Remind yourself that if people get paid millions for calling stuffed sheep and upside down urinals ‘art’ then your few pounds for a hand made print is reasonable enough
There are a lot of things that need sorting at home. With the arrival of a tiny human chaos has ensued. So these goals feature a lot of tidying up and organising rooms.
De-clutter the house
– Go room by room and clear out stuff that either hasn’t been unpacked since we moved in or hasn’t been used in the last 6 months
– SPRING CLEAN THE S**T OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!
Sort Zosia’s room
– Go through the boxes and clear out the rubbish
– Buy and assemble new furniture
– Move crib in after 1st birthday
– Put up wall decorations
Buy better storage and new furniture
– Book shelf for under the stairs
– Organise kitchen cupboards better
Create a cleaning schedule for the house and put it up in the kitchen
– Try not to use the word ROTA
Start washing up after every meal. Make this a habit not a chore
Stop only tidying up or cleaning when people are due to visit
With money, things are always tricky. Even more so when you have a child. Working part time is proving challenging so I need to think of other ways to save or make money.
Spend less on the things you don’t need
– If you do go shopping take your time to think about the necessity of the purchase.
Look for cheaper alternatives to the expensive brands
Start putting more aside for Zosia’s future
My numbers are picking up again after a few months off due to work commitments. However they are still quite low. I will need to work on raising numbers before I can approach brands but I am hopeful.
Start seeing this as a business, not just a hobby
– Think about why you started this
– Think about a plan of action for 2018
– Be a full time blogger by 2019
Raise viewer and visitor numbers
– Promote more often
– Join more Linkies
Start writing content to cover busy periods so that you always have something to post
– Compile a list of potential blog posts
Create a list on brands that you would like to work with
– Create assets to promote yourself to brands
Work with Hubby to begin migration to self-hosting
– Learn how to create your own subscription emails
– Set up email list
– Add ‘Subscribe Now’ pop up
– Learn more about SEO
– Get Hubby to teach you how to code for yourself
Keep working on your ‘Mummy Rants’ Series
– Open it up to guest bloggers??
So, I know this makes your goals seem harder to reach as there are so many little things to worry about but trust me when I say that breaking them down into smaller more achievable goals as I have done above really does help. I still have the big goals in mind but I know that I will be able to complete them by creating little ‘To Do’ lists within each one. You will feel a sense of achievement if you are able to tick a box every now and then which ultimately will help with some of the other goals. Setting yourself goals is vital to stay proactive and productive in life and business. You don’t need to wait for the new to set or evaluate them either, it just feels good to start a new year with a fresh head on your shoulders.
What goals have you set yourself this year? More importantly how are you going to achieve them?
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!
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.
Mummy and Daughter. Copyright of Monsterful Mama
Daddy and Baby. Copyright of Monsterful Mama
Beautiful Baby. Copyright of Monsterful Mama
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
Catch up on Bullet Journal things and blogging about it
Write an update post for Zosia
Christmas ideas for baby and you
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.
Cook food from scratch so that Zosia can eat what we eat.
Start doing Yoga regularly again, either at home or part of a group.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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!
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.