Wordless Wednesday

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2014 – the complete Mama’s reflection

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At the start of 2014 I had pretty much never read a blog unless I’d stumbled upon one accidentally, I had no idea that there were these lovely online communities of people who share their every day waffle with each other, I was half way through my maternity leave and, actually, I was struggling.

At the start of 2015, I am an actual blogger, I know what widgets, Tots100, linky’s and sticky posts are (the last one I’m less sure of!), I feel comforted by a group of wonderful parents online, I am fully back at work and tired beyond belief, but I am happy and motivated.

I have a great big diary (a lush, gorgeous 100 year diary) that I fill in every few months as a reflection anyway so I suppose this post is just the online, sharing version of the end of year entry.  And let’s face it, there’s only one way that I could break this down to review – blogging life, teaching life and mama life!

Blogging highs

  • I have had had a blast since I set this blog up in April by finding out many weird and wonderful things from fellow bloggers.
  • Being part of a parenting community. I was the first of my friends to have a baby and was totally bewildered and unsure, I love that every day I get online and share my stories and read other people’s stories of parenting highs and lows. It most definitely gives me comfort to know that I’m not the only one winging it!
  • Almost 10,000 views, almost 500 twitter followers and a new love of Instagram…I’d never even been on it this time last year.

Blogging challenges

  • Increasing my audience was something that stressed me out for quite a while once I realised that I quite enjoyed blogging.  Once I found some linky’s and got involved in the social media side of things though, that soon came.
  • I’ve not always found it easy to post original or interesting content.  I work full time. And that’s not just 9-5 full time, that’s teacher full time which is close to 60 hours a week, if not more as well as looking after Sprog.

Teacher highs

  • Honestly, just going back to work and being ‘me’ again. I loved being off with Sprog and a much more leisurely lifestyle but I felt like my brain was rotting.  Going back to work has been amazing for me.
  • The social time with colleagues has given me space to be ‘me’ again and to relax.
  • Surviving. There has been an awful lot of challenges. Tiredness. Complete lack of time. Being too emotionally invested in students. But the great big positive in all of that is that I am surviving and just about managing to stay on top of all of my spinning plates.

Teacher challenges

  • Lack of time to do anything.  I am constantly up against a lack of time to do all my planning, marking, phone calls home, interventions with students, revision sessions, trip planning, meetings with colleagues, moderation of exam work, CPD programmes and it can feel one feeling a little inadequate no matter how hard you are trying.
  • Missing my little Sprog like mad.
  • I’ve actually had a really tough term with some of my GCSE students who have admitted that they don’t like History, they don’t know why they choose it, and their behaviour and effort has therefore been…difficult.

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Mama highs

  • So so many that I don’t know where to begin.
  • I suppose the key thing is just the genuine joy and happiness that Sprog brings to my life, my husband’s life and to everyone else he meets.  He is honestly the most smiley and cheeky little man going and luckily (or not) for him, he has inherited my great big gobby grin!
  • He is kissy, huggy, smiley, loving, angelic (I would only guarantee this whilst he’s asleep though), monsterous and amazing!
  • He just makes my heart melt.
  • Too soppy?! So how about the days out that we’ve had together – a summer and a winter trip to London, an epic adventure to America, days out at the farm, trips to the library and great baby activities. O, and making my loving group of Mummy friends!

Mama challenges

  • I will just pick two things as we all know that this parenting gig is no easy one. In the last year, I have left a whole range of emotions.  Far beyond what I have felt before.  There were really low times – this time last year I was really struggling to feel ok, to want to get going and I actually felt quite useless as a Mama.  But I’ve also experienced incredible highs like when Sprog took his first steps and I’ve never cried at so many happy things! The rollercoaster of emotion is one of the toughest and best things about being a parent.
  • Secondly, the utter, unrelenting and constant tiredness. Enough said.

I hope that when you sit back and reflect upon 2014 that no matter what chaos the universe has thrown at you, you can see positives and that as you plan for 2015, which we inevitably all do, you can look forward with anticipation and eagerness.  My plans involve shedding the remaining Mama tum… eek, and actually just remembering to enjoy my family as much as I possibly can.

It’s been lovely ‘meeting’ everyone this year and all that remains is for me to wish you all a fantastic New Year and a wicked 2015.

P.S.  If you’re stuck for ideas for NYE with a toddler, I came up with a few this week!

If you like what you’ve been reading, how about following me on Bloglovin’

Belle du Brighton

New year… new start, right?

New Year… new start, right?! We’re all at it now, how can we be better people in 2015? How long can we stop drinking/smoking/eating chocolate for? How much weight can we lose?

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On our honeymoon in 2012, only 3 months before getting preggers, and at my smallest in years!

I’m definitely in the last camp.  For years I have maintained a reasonably healthy weight after I gain and then lost a significant amount at university. When I was pregnant, I didn’t go silly but equally I did enjoy the odd bit of cake, the extra helping of desert at family meals, or the chicken drumsticks WITH the skin left on!

After Sprog arrived, I lost 65% of the weight gained fairly easily and last Christmas I rejoined Slimming World to help to lose the remainder.  And I’ll start this post with a great big positive –I did it.  I lost just over a stone and I reached pre-Sprog weight! However, that did mainly happen in the first 6 months of the year and since then I’ve been faffing around loosing and gaining the same 3 lbs continuously and I am bored of this now.  At the bottom of this weight range I am happy, at the top, I am not as that’s where my clothes are all too tight.  I’m still not close to being back into my pre-Sprog ‘normal’ clothes as the weight is distributed a little differently now.

So, New Year… new start right?! I’m determined that it is time for real change now.

A new approach is needed I feel.  I have previously tried to hold myself accountable on here but failed miserably…I obviously wasn’t mentally ready and Friday’s weren’t a good day for me. I’m going to try a new plan.  Tuesday is my weigh in day and unfortunately, because work is so busy, I’ve been unable to stay for the group after the weigh in a lot of the time since September. So my pledge to myself is to stay for group for at least the whole of January to kick me kick start my journey. It may well have a negative impact on my work and marking load but I have to begin to draw a line and make sure that I am important too, I bit fed up of feeling like the fat friend, in my mind, having had a child is really not a good enough excuse to still look and feel this uncomfortable in my own skin.

2015 is the year of one of my best friends’ wedding, and hen do, and as a bridesmaid I have no way of avoiding pictures of myself being taken. After that, I will be starting a new job in September so I want to feel confident for that. It may also be a funny logic but I don’t intend to have another baby yet so my body is not going to be put through that change again for a while and I don’t want to look back on my life feeling that my late twenties were a time where I forgot about myself and put everyone else first, I want Sprog to see a healthy lifestyle from both of us and at the moment, my eating habits are probably not ones that I want to be passing to him.

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So as I’ve written this, I munched through the last of the Christmas chocolates and any biscuits left at the end of the day will be going somewhere far away from me. It’s weigh in tomorrow evening and a completely fresh start, I think I’m going to set a new and lower target, and a non-food related reward for when I get there.  I’ll decide on that treat in time for next week’s post. Weekly weigh in posts will now happen and be completely honest… because it’s a new year, so a new start right?!

Personal Goals 2015

Seeing in New Year with a Toddler

This year many of my friends will be dashing off to Margate for a big New Year’s bash… so far the plans include home made chicken kebabs, Rapidough, beer pong, lava flows (something lovely and deliciously alcoholic originating from a girls wedding in Hawaii), and possibly some table tennis. Not the smashing roaring times of our late teens and early twenties but still some drinking, partying and a late night.

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The ghost of New Years’ past – 2007 – lots and lots …and lots of alcohol!

My plans this year are still hazy and undecided. Last year, Sprog was so tiny that we were still working on the basis that when he slept, we slept. This year, I’m tempted to do just the same but I’m not sure so I thought I’d see what the options are.

1. Let the kids stay up
Some people might suggest that this New Year, you let the kids stay up late with you. Erm…. mine is only 16 months old. There is no way on earth that this is an option. He will go stroppy mental toddler meltdown mode on me. Nuh Uh… he sleeps!

2. Find a Babysitter
Others might suggest that we find a babysitter. Does anyone get a good case of the guilt’s when they ask for babysitters? I think it’s probably because Sprog spends a lot of time with family during the day when I’m at work that I don’t like asking for anything extra and it also makes me feel like a rubbish mum. New Year is the same as asking for a babysitter on Valentines Day, no-one would really choose to give it up for you so don’t ask.

3. A kids movie night

popcornOne lovely lady suggested that she would offer to be the family babysitter for all the kids of all the family members and have a movie night for all of the kids. I totally love this idea and if Sprog was not the only small child in the family then this would rock! We could take it in turns each year!

4. Sleep as usual

zzz One of my favourite options… do nothing different! Sprog needs to sleep, we need to sleep, he’ll still be awake at 7 a.m. and there’s no magic fairy who is going to take care of him if we want to sleep then. I don’t know about you but as I get older (you know, the grand old age of 28 now!) I really can’t be bothered with the hangover that comes from more than 2 glasses of wine, especially with an early rising child so sleep always sounds like a good option.

5. Have an early evening party

crown I’m coming round to this idea the more that I think about it. A small early evening gathering of family, friends, just the 3 of us…whoever really, with some music, some party hats, balloons, a ‘special’ drink for everyone to toast with (could be as simply as some orange juice for the little ones) and some party poppers. Just a little something to mark the New Year in with. I loved a few of the ideas I saw about making party crowns together … I mean even a small baby can splodge some paint on the page before it’s cut out into a crown shape. Another idea, which I think is beautiful, is making a wishes tree. Grab a twig/branch from the garden, stick it in a pot and then on bits of paper write down wishes for the New Year. They could be as simple as ‘learning to write my name’ or thoughtful like ‘seeing grandma more often’ or (probably more likely from children, and husbands) silly ones ‘have a penguin as a pet’ then stick a hole in the paper, loop some string through it and tie to the tree. Leave them for a couple of days, come back to them and choose one each to stick on the fridge. I think this is a truly lovely idea but am a little bit sad that Sprog won’t be able to do this yet…maybe next year.

When I tested the waters with hubby earlier, he didn’t seem to be a fan of the last option (sad face) partly because he wants to get on with painting the kitchen in the evenings this week. We have some make over work to do on the house as we are planning to put in on the market soon. I’m thinking that I might rebel a little bit though. I shall have to see what wondrous things one can find in the local supermarket to help me create a bit of a New Year partay vibe all up in this house!

What do you think you’ll do? How old do you think a little person should be before they can stay up and be involved?

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The List

My secret santa gift

So a while a go the lovely Victoria at MylittleL organised a Secret Santa for a few of us blogger types.

When we got our names drawn and given to us, I did have a bit of an anxiety moment but I do hope that my giftee (is that correct terminology?!) is pleased with their pressie…I’m waiting to see their reaction still.

We agreed to post gifts ahead of time so that we had them to open today (Christmas eve) so here is the gift that I received.

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Firstly, what beautifully packaging is this?! It did inspire me into presenting our gift bags a little nicer as we prepared them this evening.

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As I got to this point, I was genuinely giddy and a little excited!

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And ta dah! This beautiful little mirror is absolutely darling and so cute. It’s so wonderfully made and such care has gone in to it.

So, whoever you were, thank you very much to my Secret Santa #ssbloggers14. And a tremendously big thank you to Victoria for organising, I’ve really enjoying linking up with some new bloggers.

Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope that you all have a marvellous few days xxx

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My Sunday Photo 21st December

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During our day out in London last week, we had a casualty. Ted. He was lost from the buggy at some point.
The following day, he was rescued. My friend found him on a hedgerow near her house. Hooray.
He’s been having various adventures this week without Sprog but this is how he spent his Friday night…..hanging out and drinking wine!
Lucky Ted!

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An udderly wonderful gift

I’d been thinking about a way that we can build in something charitable to our Christmas routine right from the start with Sprog, he’ll be almost 17 months for Christmas this year so he doesn’t really understand..  We’ve bought him a few presents and then we’re going to give a donation from us as a family to a charity.

When Send A Cow got in touch, I was so pleased that I would be able to work with them to raise awareness of their wonderful campaign.

Right so I’m hoping you’re all in the same camp as me on the Christmas jumper front… I blooming love them!  However, not a huge number of round neck jumpers really suit me so my best shot is this beaut with my penguin on!

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Imagine my delight and giddiness when I saw this….

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This is Gloria. With her ultra-cool Crimbo jumper. It has Velcro straps and she didn’t bat an eyelid when she was fitted for it… a very cool customer!

Replacing the traditional jumper pattern of snowmen or crackers, this udderly stylish Christmas jumper has been created to showcase Send a Cow’s latest gift catalogue, and was custom-knit with maximum comfort and fit in min for the fashion-conscious cow.  It is hoped that Gloria and her wonderful knitwear will help to raise awareness of Send a Cow’s aim of selling 20,000 festive gifts that will make a difference to poverty-stricken African families.

Send a Cow’s Christmas catalogue contains gifts that make a difference to poverty-stricken families in seven African countries. Gifts range from ‘Local Cow’ (£205), which provides a farming family with milk and manure; ‘Little Donkey’ (£9) which helps families take good care of their four-legged friends who transport farm produce to market; and ‘Tip Tap’ (£10), a bestseller which improves hygiene levels in areas where soap and water are luxuries.

You can see the gifts here: www.sendacowgifts.org.uk I was so impressed with the range of gifts available and once Sprog is a bit older, it’s the type of charity that I’d love to work more closely with.  He would be able to learn so much about other cultures and other people through us choosing a gift together which would be so special to me.

I urge you to find a little something at Christmas this year for Gloria and her friends at Send a Cow. To the people on the receiving end of a clean latrine, a chicken or even just some straw, your donation could make the world of different this Christmas.

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Mami 2 Five

Balancing Act… Papa Tont

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I have been fascinated by the reactions that people have had to me when I was on maternity leave, when I was getting ready to go back to work, and now that I am back at work. I find that some people are very judgemental about how they expect families to work. Well, I’ve got news for you everyone, we’re all different, we all have different needs and that is one of the amazing things about us.

My aim is to share the stories of families of all different types and spread the word that we are all playing a #BalancingAct to get through and raise our little people the best way we can. Let’s celebrate the diversity between our families, let’s not judge each other.

So, this week I’d like to hand you over to Tony from PapaTont.

I know things have changed a little bit for Tony since he sent me this but here’s how life used to be for him and his family!

1. Tell me about your family
I am Tony Pitt, I am 34 years old and I’m a soldier.  I am married to Vikki, who is 28 in a couple of weeks and is a stay at home mum; we have two children: Olivia who is 6 and George who is 3 in January.  I currently work in Germany and Vikki runs the household in the UK.

Tony Pitt

2. What was your job/position before you started your family?
Soldier

3. What was your work-life balance like?

Generally ok, I would work an 8:30 – 5 working day with every weekend off.  Every now and then I would have to go away for a week or so, but without kids that was manageable and quite stress free.  I would get 38 days holiday a year including bank holidays, which is excellent, and the flexibility of work being able to let me go if I needed to get home for any reason.

 

4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity/paternity leave?
I loved being away from work for the paternity leave (I love being away from work on any kind of leave lol), but I knew that the work wasn’t going away and no one was doing it for me, so there was a sense of dread that when I went back I had 2 weeks worth of work to catch up.  Being at home full time was great, getting to help out with the baby and share the responsibility, but after a while I knew that Vikki wanted me to get back to work because it did feel like I was getting under her feet.

 

5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?

Yes, as it was only paternity leave and Vikki had always decided to be a stay at home mum, me going back to work was the most sensible plan.  The money I earned far outweighed that which Vikki could earn as well.

 

6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?

Work has changed dramatically.  I have been promoted twice since having the kids and the work load has increased significantly.  I have been spending more and more time away from the family, either through longer hours in the workplace to meet deadlines and targets, or away on courses, seminars, meetings etc.  The stress that comes with such a demanding amount of responsibility had taken its toll as well at one point me deciding to quit and handing my notice in as it was significantly affecting the atmosphere in the home.  After a bit of rational thinking, though, it made more financial sense for me to stay in the job and us just bear the burden of this amount of discomfort until my contract ends in 12 years.  We are now in a position where I work away from home and only come home at odd weekends.  At the moment we manage once a month or there about.
7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.

Needs dramatic improvement.
8. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?

Yes.  I wish I could be at home more often to help out, I wish my future was more defined so that we could plan farther than 1 week in advance.  I wish Vikki could have the opportunity to go back to work as she so desperately needs adult conversation and a bit of independence after spending 6 years with the kids.

Details

Website: http://www.papatont.com

Twitter: @Papa_Tont

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/papatont

Google+: https://plus.google.com/102614750848751045975/posts

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/papatont/

See previous posts from Mummascribbles, Mum in a Nutshell, Bubbablue and me, Single Parent Pessimist, L Plate Mummy, and The Triplet Diaries.

 

Wicked Wednesday 17th December

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Mama, I’m not sure about this bloke! Also, there’s a funny lady with bright red cheeks dressed as an elf behind us…isn’t that a bit weird?! Surely elves are small so that they can go through the letterbox… She’s huge…almost as big as you and daddy! Mama, I don’t think I like it very much here. Why did we queue for sooooo long?! Mama, let’s go!

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