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

 

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The Dangers of Personalised Bags for Kids.

It is a sad fact of life that kids go missing everyday.   Some are found the same day, just a kid that’s wandered off.   However some do end tragically.   I can’t imagine how I would deal with that as a mother or a teacher.   But did you know that the personalised bag and/or lunch boxes you’re buying your children could be putting them at risk?  I often see children at school with the latest brands of bags or even stationery but lately I’ve noticed an increase of children walking around with their names on their rucksacks, P.E bags or lunch boxes.   I mean, sure, there are some cute designs out there but are they worth the risk?

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So, why is this a problem I hear you ask?   Well, it’s simply down to what we teach the children at school.  Stranger Danger.   We teach them what to do when they are approached by a stranger but what happens when that stranger knows their name because it is emblazoned on their bags?   If a stranger can call a child by their name, it will likely confuse the child into thinking that they must know them somehow.   For all they know it could be a friend of a parent or grandparent and they’ve just forgotten who they are.   The child becomes unsure and doubts themselves.  They don’t want to seem rude or upset their parents.  Before you know it, they have been abducted.   Everything we teach them at school becomes undone.

 

This poses a huge problem, especially with the younger children who may not even make the connection between their bag and the stranger.  So, I ask you, nay, I beg you, do not send your children to school, or anywhere public for that matter, with their name on their bags.   It is so very dangerous.   Think twice before you buy that bag/lunch box etc. for the child in your life and help to keep them safe.

 

Thanks for listening,

Monsterful Mama

Retiring the Boob.

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

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First Cuddles.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monsterful Mama.

Mindfulness: how to be mindful everyday.

 

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

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

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

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Mindfulness Watercolour.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

How do I let go and be in the moment?

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

Follow my 5 step plan to help you become mindful.

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

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

Inhale

Exhale

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

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

Step 4: Refocus back to your b

reathing. Taking deep breaths.

Inhale

Exhale

Inhale … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Exhale… 2 … 3 … 4 …

In … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Out … 2 … 3 … 4 …

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

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

Other exercises to try:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monsterful Mama

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