Memories: Reykjavik, Iceland

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant!

So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories!

Should I stay or should I go?

Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant…this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go.

A little panic…

Memories: Iceland This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant! So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories! Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant...this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go. When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice - I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore! I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing! One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!). Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs! Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland! I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice – I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore!

Exploring!

I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing!

One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!).

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs!

Being pregnant and local Icelandic delicacies

Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland!

My thoughts:

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

Art and Crafts With Pumpkin

Ziplock-pain-non-messy-play-no-paint-on-me-Toddler-Art-Paint-Messy-Play-Stickers-Collage-Glue-Sequins-Diamonte-paper-glue-fun-crafts-pumpkin-learn-through-arts-and-crafts

Up until a month ago, Pumpkin loathed all things to do with Art, crafts and messy play. The moment he glimpsed the table loaded with paint, paper or crayons, he would let out an ear piercing shriek and would grab the paper and screw it up. This would be followed by an almost involuntary movement, as his arms would suddenly sweep left to right like windscreen wipers, sweeping all traces of anything arty or crafty from the table and onto the floor.

I must admit, I felt so disappointed that he didn’t like doing art or crafts, as I loved doing them and couldn’t wait to do them with him. So, what did I do? I tried the non-messy variety; where you squirt paint into a zip-lock bag and it can be squished about with no little fingers getting paint all over them and technically no mess anywhere. What was Pumpkin’s response to this? An ear piercing shriek and the Zip-lock bag being screwed up and thrown across the kitchen.

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I decided to leave all things art and craft for a while, and packed away everything. About a month later, on a particularly wet winters day, Pumpkin and I were stuck indoors, and he was drifting from toy to toy and not finding anything particularly interesting to play with. So, I decided…no, let me rephrase that, I seized the moment to get some paper, pens and stickers out. This was greeted by one very curious little boy and lots of ooo’s, aaah’s and ooh mamma’s! This was responded by a happy little dance in the kitchen by me!

The paper, pens and stickers were a success, so much so, that Pumpkin asked for more “Paper and sticks” that I took advantage of only having Christmas themed stickers and started making some christmas cards too!

Toddler-Art-Paint-Messy-Play-Stickers-Collage-Glue-Sequins-Diamonte-paper-glue-fun-crafts-pumpkin-learn-through-arts-and-crafts

Pumpkin’s growing love for art’s and crafts has enabled him to make Christmas and thank you card’s for our family. We are now at a place, where a day doesn’t go by without Pumpkin asking for his “Paper and sticks”, although Pumpkin now loves to stick his stickers in all sorts of places! Yesterday, I found a unicorn sticker on my bum, this was six hours after we had done sticking and after a trip to the supermarket!

Over the next few weeks and months, I will be adding lots more to our art box and I am excited to see Pumpkin get stuck in with as much confidence and as many belly laughs as he has done so far! I just wish he was as enthusiastic about the clearing up afterwards or washing the paint off himself…cue another ear piercing shriek and more sharing of his art work by me!

Toddler-Art-Paint-Messy-Play-Stickers-Collage-Glue-Sequins-Diamonte-paper-glue-fun-crafts-pumpkin-learn-through-arts-and-crafts

 

What to feed a teething toddler

Slow-cooked-chicken-curry-what-to-feed-a-teething-toddler-yummy-healthy-food

This last week has been all about teething in our home, poor Pumpkin is cutting another tooth and that means he is hardly eating a thing. Pumpkin cut his first tooth at eleven and a half months old, yet he showed all the possible signs of teething from when he was six months old. Even now with his five teeth and three more on the way, he really struggles as each new one comes through. Not only does teething put him off his food, it also knocks him right out of his sleep routine and I can guarantee at least two nights this week will again see Pumpkin wide awake and full of energy for anything from three to five hours in the middle of the night. So, as you can imagine, we are all exhausted, grumpy and a little bit tearful out of sleep fatigue!

Over the past week, I have posted a few photographs on my Twitter and Instagram feeds of meals that I have made for Pumpkin; these are my go to meals when teething, as I know he will eat them. If he doesn’t, then I know he is really in a lot of pain and I will then go back to weaning basics and give him his favourite mushy foods and Calpol!. I have had some requests for the recipes, so I am going to share them in this post, please note that I am not a chef or nutritionist! I make most meals up as I go along and use what I have in cupboards and the freezer, so please feel free to adapt as you go along too!

I cram/sneak as many vegetables as possible into my cooking, as since Pumpkin hit toddlerhood, he has become adverse to vegetables and this is one of the only ways I can sneak them into his diet. As a baby, he would happily eat a wide range of vegetables, I don’t know why this changed, but I still continue to offer vegetables at all meals, but it always is treated with the same reply ‘no no mamma’ then it is thrown onto the floor…

Here are two of Pumpkin’s go to teething meals:

Sneaky Veggie Bolognese Sauce

Teething-Toddler-hidden-veggie-bolognese-all-veggies-are-in-this-fail-safe-carrots-courgettes-mushrooms-spinach-tomatoes

Ingredients:

Oil (1 Tablespoon)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Garlic Clove (crushed or finely chopped)
500g Beef Mince
1 Vegetable Oxo Cube
Tomato Purée 1 Tablespoon
500g Passata
1 Carrot (Grated)
1 Courgette (Grated)
5 Small Mushrooms (Grated)
1 Frozen cube of Spinach (Grated, whilst frozen or use fresh and chop finely)
1 Red Pepper (Grated) – Optional – this was our new addition this week!
Oregano
Worcestershire Sauce (1 Tablespoon)

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan
2. Soften onion and Garlic in the oil
3. Add the beef mince to the onion and Garlic, and cook until the mince is browned. Once browned, I like to drain the mince in a sieve to get rid of any excess fat and then return to the pan.
4. Put the pan back on the heat, sprinkle in the stock cub, add the Tomato puree and stir well.
5. Add all the grated vegetables and stir until well combined.
6. Add the Passata and stir, if required add some water to loosen the sauce (remember that the vegetables will reduce and this will add some additional liquid as it cooks down)
7. Add oregano and the Worcestershire sauce, stir and bring to the boil.
8. Once at boil, reduce down to the simmer, partly cover with saucepan lid and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.

Additional seasoning can be added if required, please feel free to swap and change ingredients for your family’s tastes. You can freeze any leftovers, for quick and easy meals too!

Sneaky-Veggie-Bolognese-Spinach-courgette-Carrot-Mushroom-grate-and-hide-teething-toddler-delicious

The next recipe that I posted was a slow cooked Chicken Curry, this recipe is a great way to introduce curry to your little one, whilst making a soft and gum friendly meal for when they are teething! Plus, once it’s in the slow cooker, you can pretty much forget about it and get on with your day! Feel free to adapt the recipe and add vegetables/spices to suit your little ones tastebuds!

Slow Cooked Chicken Curry

Slow-cooked-chicken-curry-what-to-feed-a-teething-toddler-yummy-healthy-food

Ingredients:
1/2 Onion
1 Jar Mild Salsa (I didn’t have any passata when I last made this, so substituted with a jar of salsa, and it tasted much better and Pumpkin agreed!)
Mild Curry Powder (1 Tablespoon)
2 Chicken breasts, cut in half
1-2 Teaspoons of Cream Cheese per serving (see Method for details)

Method:
1. Put chopped onion, Salsa and Curry Powder into Slow cooker and stir well.
2. If required, add a little water to loosen the sauce.
3. Add Chicken breasts.
4. Cook on High for 4-5 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked (occasionally stir the sauce).
5. When ready to serve – remove a portion (one half of the chicken breast) and shred into a bowl, add some of the curry sauce and stir through a teaspoon of cream cheese. Add more cream cheese if required for your Toddler’s tastebuds!
6. This can be frozen, just don’t add the cream cheese if you are going to freeze!
7. Serve with Rice or Couscous.

Teething Friendly Snack Ideas:

Mini Bread Sticks – the best ones I have found are from Waitrose
Raisins
Rich Tea Finger Biscuits – given sparingly but he adores them!
Petit Filous
Fruit – All kinds in finger sized portions
Ella’s Kitchen Fruit Smoothies – a fail safe snack when teething is really bad!
Oat Cheerios – dry without milk, make a great finger food snack
Mini Bread Sticks & Cream Cheese Dip
Frozen yoghurt and fruit purée ice lollies

Sometimes Pumpkin is just not interested in lovingly home cooked food, like he used to be when I was weaning him. This can be frustrating when I have made a meal only for him to spit it out and say ‘no no mama” and drop it on the floor. If I am honest, it makes me wonder where I went wrong, I spent hours when he was a baby, making a wide range of different vegetable combinations to match the brightest rainbow to be gleefully munched by him. I just don’t know where and when it changed, suddenly he just isn’t interested in my flavour combinations or the luscious greens. No, Pumpkin is interested in Chicken Dippers, Fish Bites, Sweet potato Crocodiles, Baked Beans, Peas and Sweetcorn.

However, I should be grateful that he is eating something, and I should embrace that and the fact he does eat some home cooked meals, I am currently working on some more hidden veggie meals with him and try to work at his speed and not mine when it comes to new tastes.

I also need to stop taking his food rejections personally, it maybe that his gums are hurting, or his tastebuds are still developing and what tastes nice to me, tastes really nasty to him! After all, don’t we all have days when we would rather have convenience food over cooking a big home cooked meal?

I hope your little one enjoy Pumpkin’s ‘current’ favourite meals, if you have any questions please get in touch and I will be happy to help!

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Happy New Year!

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As many of you were getting ready to welcome the new year in, I was tucked up in bed fast asleep. As a parent to a very active 15 month old little boy, sleep is a luxury to me and my fiancé and therefore to us, it’s more appealing than staying up to welcome in the New Year. Call us old or boring, or even both, but that’s our life at the moment and we wouldn’t change it for the world.

2018 will be a year of big changes for me (more of this to come at a later date) and I am going to try to embrace this with a positive and open mind. Yes, there will be times when I will feel anxious and question what I am doing and whether it is right for our family, but ultimately we are doing this as a family and this is what I am keeping central in my thoughts during all moments of self-doubt and when my old friend anxiety creeps in.

New Year’s Resolutions

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, as I know I am crap at sticking to them and I can’t be done with putting any additional unnecessary pressures upon myself. Let’s face it, I know I need to loose weight, I know every gym in the country would eagerly sell me a contract that I would only use for a month and stupidly pay for the next year and feel guilty about it every time I drive past the gym on the way to the shops to get some more chocolate. Likewise, I know I need to cut down on coffee, chocolate and other delicious food groups (yes, when you are a parent, coffee becomes a food group), but the cravings will beat me down by the end of day 2 or 3. If I need to do these things, I will do them when I am ready to, not just because it’s the start of a new year.

Daily Positive Reflection

Instead, I try to make time at the end of each day, before I go to sleep to reflect upon and find three positive things from my day. These three things do not have to be big things, they can be the small things such my ones for yesterday 1) My favourite song coming on the radio 2) Seeing the absolute delight Pumpkin gives his Nain and Taid, and, 3) Listening to the wind and rain outside, whilst we are all warm and snug inside playing with Pumpkin’s favourite toys.

I openly admit, I don’t always remember to do this every day, sometimes I am just too tired and fall to sleep and other times if I find myself awake during the night worrying about things, I try to reflect then. As I find this helps ease the worrying and gently coaxes the sleep back.

What did 2017 teach me?

Whilst I am writing about reflecting upon the day, I am going to take this opportunity to reflect and be honest about what 2017 has taught me and try and take these lessons forward into 2018.

1. Dreams are there to be chased, sometimes all you need to do is take a leap of faith into the unknown and you may just land in a place where your dream becomes a reality! I have always wanted to live in the West Country and this year we took that leap into the unknown and now we love our new home in Somerset and couldn’t be happier

2. Sometimes our dream challenges are not all they are cracked up to be and no matter what positives we try to throw at them, the negatives just outnumber the positives and we just have to let that challenge go. 2017 saw me achieve something that I had wanted for a long time, only to discover it was not all it was cracked up to be. Despite trying my best, it was not going to change, so I held my head up high and walked away, as there are other dream challenges out there too!

3. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to baking, Christmas tree decorating and organising Birthday’s, moving and erm anything else really…hmmm that makes me a bit of a control freak too, doesn’t it? However, when I am doing this with Pumpkin, I need to let the perfectionist go and just get on and enjoy myself too, after all isn’t that what he is doing? I learnt to see things through the eyes of a toddler, if they oooh, ahhh, laugh and clap then I know I am doing things right!

4. Believe in yourself, if there is something you want to try and you have the opportunity do it! I spent nine months of 2017 deliberating whether or not to start The Lupie Mummy. I was always too shy to share my writing/thoughts with others, I was worried what people would think and self-doubt crept in and stopped me repeatedly. It was my fiancé that gave me the final push and I am so glad he did, it has been my escapism and more importantly it is slowly but surely helping me regain my identity again.

5. 2017 threw my little family a lot of obstacles and we jumped over every single one, at times it was a challenge but we never once doubted our strength as a family unit to be able to get through each challenge life decided to throw at us. I absolutely love and adore my little family and watching Pumpkin grow from a baby to a toddler has been amazing and so much fun, I really couldn’t wish for anything more. Even in the tough times, comfort and strength was be found close by and I don’t need to take on the world by myself, I have my family (both immediate and extended) around me and we do it together!

Looking Ahead

Let’s look ahead, I hope 2017 was fun and 2018 will be kind to you and your family. If you have made resolutions, do not put unnecessary pressure upon yourself to achieve them, make them fun, so they become an enjoyable part of your year not an energy drain.

2018 is going to be an exciting year for The Lupie Mummy and family, I hope you will join us over the next few months as our adventures will begin to unfold (don’t get too excited it doesn’t involve another baby, a cat or a puppy!).

So, on that note, Happy New Year!

The Lupie Mummy xx

Ten things I have learnt from having a Toddler

1. Pumpkin may have little legs, but those little toddler legs can run fast, especially when there are clothes to be put on or a nappy to change.

2. Dressing a toddler is like trying to stop the drunk person dancing at the end of a wedding…no matter how many times you try to reason with them, they will continue to wave their arms and legs around like propellers and throwing their head back, as if they are singing along to their favourite wedding disco song!

3. A Toddler will inadvertently use an inappropriate word, as they broaden their vocabulary! Pumpkin is picking up lots of new words, particularly ones from his favourite nursery rhymes; his current favourite is “Hickory Dickory Dock” and whilst we were in the queue at the chemist, he proudly pointed to the clock and at the top of his voice he declared to all that this was a “cock”!, cue pitying looks from other customers and smirks from the sales assistant who was trying not to burst out laughing.

4. What a Toddler may love to eat one day, he will absolutely loathe the next and will behave as if you have poisoned him if you attempt to give it to him again. This will be particularly the case if you try to feed him in public.

5. Whilst on the subject of food, a toddler will start to eat all kinds of lovely home cooked meals at nursery, which you would have tried on numerous occasions to feed him at home, but with no success, however at nursery he will be demanding seconds.

6. When a Toddler learns the word “No”, this will have all sorts of meanings to him and you will need to learn from the tone of his voice to whether he actually means yes. This minuscule difference, will determine whether you will have a “love you forever” smile, tantrum or a riot on your hands!

7. You get to watch the sheer delight on their face as they explore the world around them. As grown ups, we have long forgotten the simple things like how interesting a little stone is on a pavement, or how it feels to just let the rain fall on us and feel the wind blowing around us (and messing up our straightener hair), and do you know what it’s a pleasure to rediscover those things again, who cares about straight hair (ok, maybe I do a bit!!), but just hearing Pumpkins delighted squeals and beaming smile, is absolutely priceless.

8. A Toddler will start putting you through training for when they become bigger children; Pumpkin loves Mega Bloks and I am forever tripping or standing on them and yes it hurts. This is just the training for the big guns…Lego!

9. In a Toddler’s mind, what is yours, belongs to them and what is theirs, belongs to them as they are still mastering the social skill of sharing! A fine example of this was this morning whilst getting dressed, Pumpkin grabbed my bra and toddled off at speed (see point 1), so whilst tying retrieve bra and provide an alternative toy, alternative toy was also taken and Pumpkin was off down the hall waving both arms in the air with bra and toy in each hand…it was too early, not worth the battle, so I gave up and got another not so colour coordinated one!

10. A Toddler will give you an enormous sense of confidence, my fiancé and family never heard me sing before Pumpkin was born and now I spend most of my day singing with him, whether this is indoors or out and about. It makes pumpkin happy and that makes me happy.

The list could go on, but Pumpkin is waking from his nap and I have some serious Megabloks building to do, whilst singing Hickory Dickory Cock, oops I mean Dock!

Returning to work

Yesterday, I returned to work after taking 16 months extended maternity leave to have Pumpkin and to relocate to Somerset.

Returning to work felt huge – my stomach was in knots, I wanted to cry at the thought of leaving Pumpkin at Nursery all day (the longest I have ever left him). This thought alone made my heart and chest physically ache. I know he will have a fabulous time with his new friends, playing with all the new toys and the mud kitchen in the nursery garden. Although in my mind, I still feel so guilty and writing this doesn’t make it feel any easier at the moment, as usually I find writing therapeutic.

I have started a new job, one that I have wanted to do for a long time; this is both exciting and yet it makes me feel vulnerable. Will I live up to their expectations, will I live up to how I portrayed myself at my interviews and will I remember everything? One my little worries is remembering everyone’s names, I admit it, this is something I am absolutely terrible at (sorry!) Luckily, I was given a company structure chart to who is who, so that helped, as long as nobody swap desks for the next month!

Yesterday, I started to regain part of my own identity again and not just being Pumpkins Mummy, although, I couldn’t be prouder and think of anything better than being his Mummy. Sometimes, over the past 16 months, I have felt myself get lost in the journey into motherhood, so wrapped up into caring for Pumpkin, that I forgot all about me. Me, the woman who loves baking, painting her nails, singing loudly and out of tune by her self in the car (to anything but the Wiggles!), who has an addiction to buying converse trainers, who is a bit of a coffee snob and loves peanut butter M&Ms.

OK, so I may not get all that back in my first week returning to work, but I will get to drink a hot coffee in peace, have adult conversation without bursting into song about “whose in the Wiggle House” (I will update you later to whether this happens involuntarily or not…), and go to the toilet without a toddler speed emptying all the cupboards in the bathroom! However, I may just order that kilo bag of peanut butter M&Ms to reward myself for surviving the first week!

 

The Autumn Tag

 

Thank you to the lovely Amy at The Rolling Baby who tagged me to do the Autumn tag. As we all know, I am new to the blogging community and so at first I had a moment of dread when I read Amy’s post as I didn’t know who to tag and then I thought about it for a moment (once I sent Amy a panicked message, sorry!) and thought I would seek out other new/newish bloggers to pass this on to. So here goes:

What is your Favourite Autumnal Lip Colour?
To be completely honest, I prefer lip balms and have a huge basket full of every different type available. I am a huge fan of Sephora tinted lip balms and tend to stock up when I go to see my Sister in France, normally I opt for light natural looking tones, so I don’t actually have a seasonal colour change.

What is your favourite Auntumnal Nail Colour?
Now, we are talking! I love all things nails! Sadly, this is one thing that I have seemed to have neglected since Pumpkin was born, I used to spend hours painting my nails or attempting to perfect gel nails at home. I have a purple MAC nail colour that I adore and looks fab in the Autumn. Perhaps, I should invest in some me-time and go and get my nails done!

Favourite Autumn Drink?
This is easy, I love Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, I eagerly stalk Starbucks on Twitter and Facebook awaiting the launch of their Autumn drink range and will be clawing at the doors at opening on launch day. OK, maybe I’m not quite that dramatic and crazy about them, although it’s pretty close. All this talking about them, is seriously making me want one.

Favourite Autumn Candle?
I am a huge fan of Yankee Candles and I have two favourites that I use throughout the year: Pink Dragon fruit during the Spring and Summer and as soon as Autumn starts to appear I bring out the Christmas Eve Candle as it just smells amazing: it has all kinds of lovely autumnal/winters spices that just make my home smell lovely.

Favourite Autumn Accessory?
This would have to be a scarf, I like to have a nice, long, warm and snuggly scarf to wrap myself up in on Autumn walks. I have quite a collection too, I didn’t realise how many until we moved recently: I have ones for work, for the weekend, for when it doesn’t matter if they get messy (cue going out on walks or to the beach with a toddler in tow).

Haunted House or Scary Maze?
Haunted House any day, the thought of a Scary Maze freaks me out and fills me with absolute dread and panic. I used spend many cold and dark evenings running paranormal tours in haunted locations in the UK, so find all things ghostly intriguing, so wandering around a Haunted House would not bother me in the slightest, I may just need my scarf and a Pumpkin Spiced Latte to keep me warm though!

Favourite Halloween Movie?
It has to be the Halloween films, they absolutely scare me silly, I never used to be scared of these films until I had nightmares about the main character “coming to get me” for months when I was in my late teens, when I stopped watching one of the films midway through it. To me the whole point of a Halloween movie is to be scared, so although I am actually frightened watching it, at the end of the day it’s only a film – although I have to watch the whole film, I cant just leave it midway – otherwise, I worry that I will be plagued with bad dreams again!

Favourite Halloween Sweets?
After spending a year in America, experiencing their Halloween and seeing just how big “trick or treating” is out there, I got to sample a lot of sweets/candy. A firm favourite for me is Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, I am so happy that you can buy them here now (through reading my blog, you will soon get to know that I have a bit of addiction to peanut butter sweets!).

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?
I didn’t dress up for Halloween this year, as my little one is still too young for the whole dressing up part of it; he did however choose a Frankenstein top, mainly because it was green and that’s his favourite colour of the week. I didn’t dress up, as it would have freaked him out too much, I did try on a witches hat and it made him cry…so I left it at that!

What’s your favourite thing about Autumn?
I love the changing colours in the countryside, watching the leaves in the trees and hedgerows change colours each day as I do the nursery run. We are fortunate enough to have an amazing view from our home and it has been just beautiful to watch the gorgeous Somerset countryside change over the past month.

The lovely bloggers that I tag are:

Lisa: Less Stuff 

Daisy: Daisarella

Amanda: Amanda Millie

First Shoes

Since moving to Somerset and having more space for Pumpkin to move about and explore, he has quickly reached the milestone of walking/stumbling around like an extra on the Walking Dead.

This only meant one thing…Shoe shopping! The fleeting thought of taking Pumpkin to the nearest town and letting him choose a pair of Converse, was abruptly pushed aside at the reality of the task ahead. After all, Pumpkin is still learning how to use his feet, they are still developing and growing and we need to give them the best start they can have. So all, thoughts of a lovely bright pair of Converse were pushed aside (incidentally, when Pumpkin was shown pictures of them on the iPad, he chose a pink pair…that’s my boy!).

The next day, off we went as a family, phones in hand to document this milestone, to one of the nearest shoe shop that offered a specialist fitting service for a child’s first shoes. Unfortunately, they didn’t advertise that their staff had a distinct allergy to small children/mini beasts. Pumpkin, picked up on this allergy immediately, the mischievous sparkle in his eyes was on high beam, as he yelled “shoeeeeeys” at the top of his lungs and promptly lunged for the nearest shelf to sample the shoes on sale. The shop assistant put on her best fake smile, whilst looking like she was sucking on a “Sourz” sweet, and came at Pumpkin with the foot measuring device. At this point, I should have called it a day, but the foot measuring device had caught Pumpkin’s eye and miraculously he had calmed down and was taking a keen interest in what was about to happen.

Please, picture the scene: Pumpkin is now sat angelically on my lap, beaming his best smile at the shop assistant and there is an eerie silence in the shop…I am putting on my best Mummy voice telling Pumpkin what we are about to do and that he will get a pair of shoes of his own etc etc. When suddenly, he makes a grab for the measuring device, no one is quick enough for this, he is delighted at this moment of glory as he swings it around, narrowly missing the shop assistants fake smiley face. Somehow, in this mayhem she has worked out his foot size, to this day I still do not know how she has done this, for the measuring device did not once go near his foot. Off, skuttles the shop assistant (probably to seek cover in the stock room) and I mouth to my partner to quickly gather our things and go.

However, in this moment, this one moment that we could have done a runner…this one precious moment where we could have avoided the horror of what was to come next…Pumpkin had caught sight of the toy box (let me just edit that, toy box is a very loose term, it was a plastic box, with tired, broken toys, that no child in their right sense of mind would want to play with, apart from our darling child of course!) and he had emptied it’s contents across the floor, grabbed the nearby shoes off the shelves and was sat in the middle of the mayhem looking thoroughly delighted with himself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or still walk out the door leaving the mess behind us. However, before I could make a decision the shop assistant was back (face now looking like it was about to explode) with the most hideous pair of shoes, I have ever seen (cue, horrible flashback childhood memories from me). I sit here writing with my hand on my heart, I can honestly say, they were the most hideous things I had seen, this includes the horrors that I tried on as a kid and had no choice but to wear as I had such wide feet. I did not want Pumpkin to wear those horrible things, to some that may seem petty, but I remember the feeling of wearing horrible shoes as a child, when all my friends had gorgeous dainty shoes and I had big clumpy ugly ones. So, I put my foot down at this point. I declared that Pumpkin was getting grumpy and I felt this should be attempted again another day. We tidied up the toys and the shoes and left as quick as we could, retreating to the nearest coffee shop for a caffeine and sugar fix to recover from what had just happened.

The next day, with Pumpkin in a better mood, we set off to a more well known high street shop, a little bit further away. We were helped to find the perfect pair of first shoes by a brilliant assistant called Megan. Megan became Pumpkins new best friend, she let him wreck her immaculate shoe displays, in fact she helped him do it and they had fun with the shoe measuring device, he wanted her to hold his hand as he walked around the shop to get used to his first pair of shoes. We were able to take photographs to make memories of this precious milestone in Pumpkins life. In the not so distant future, shoe shopping will become a mundane task, but for that moment, it was precious and fun for a little boy who is making his first little steps into a big world.

Parent Shaming

I have noticed over the past month, there seems to be a growing trend on many of the parenting forums of what I am going to call “Parent Shaming”. This is the numerous posts mocking other parents for yes, you guessed it being a parent.

Last night on Facebook, I saw a post shaming a mum who was “being over dramatic” in a coffee shop. Her crime was simply reading stories to her toddler and role playing with his toys in the way that we all know toddlers love, with enthusiasm to bring their imagination alive and ultimately to keep their attention.

This post stuck a chord with me, it was as if the post on Facebook was written about me, for I am that parent who sits in a coffee shop and will read to their child and play in the same “over dramatic” way.  Why?, because that is the way we read a story at home and play with toys in the same way – why should we do it any different anywhere else? We do lower our voices a little to try not to annoy other customers, but we can’t always contain the excitement that may ensure, but that is the delight of childhood.

Let’s delve a little bit deeper into the parent who was subject to the parent shaming, who after all, for that particular moment in time, was only being the best parent they can be for their toddler. Perhaps, like me that parent was trying to manage their PNA (Post Natal Anxiety) that unfortunately, on that day crept up on them unexpectedly and that was the best way to do it whilst keeping an active toddler amused at the same time. Maybe, as a parent, they are simply keeping their child occupied until his snack and drink arrives, and their “over dramatic” interaction is just trying to avoid other customers hearing how loud a toddler can scream and yell! Or, maybe, they are supporting their child in managing an over stimulating environment, through distraction techniques.

Who knows?, and that’s the lesson here, we don’t know what’s going on in the person’s life sat next to us in the coffee shop, and likewise nor do we with other parent’s. Social Media has become entrenched in day to day life, what was once a passing comment in person, has become a comment that may go viral in a matter of minutes, and like this one it may strike a chord with a parent who is guilty to the act that is being so openly shamed. For a short moment, I felt my confidence being knocked and then I kicked myself, for I love story time and role play with my son, so why on earth would I change that for a flippant comment that probably never intended to go viral on social media.

So, let’s give parent’s a break – it’s one of the hardest jobs on earth, after all who works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for no salary, but the undivided attention of a little person dependent upon you. For me, it’s the best job, I have ever had, although I feel at times I felt that needed a degree to do it!

 

So, why the name Pumpkin?

Since starting this blog, I have been asked a number of times why I refer to our son as “Pumpkin” and not his real name.  There are a couple of reasons for this, Pumpkin is an affectionate name I often call him and have done since he was born and it seems the most appropriate name to use on my blog to protect his privacy at this time in his life.

The name Pumpkin stems from my labour being brought on early by a Pumpkin Latte (Thank you, Starbucks!*).  I had managed to avoid coffee all the way through my pregnancy and I had just 6 days left until my planned C-Section, when I had the biggest craving ever for a Pumpkin Latte.  Luckily for me, Starbucks had launched their Autumn Menu that week (Thank you, Starbucks!), so I dragged my partner out for a 40 minute drive to our nearest Starbucks to drink Lattes in a September heatwave!  I was feeling all very smug, until a few hours later when I had my first show, this was not supposed to be happening and my Midwife reassured me the following morning that this does not necessarily mean that labour will follow immediately and it will be more than likely that I will still be delivering as planned next week.

With a big sigh of relief, off we went with plans of how we were going to spend our last weekend as a couple before we become a little family.   Our weekend commenced with…yes a Pumpkin Latte.  After we made the 40 minute drive to Starbucks and were walking in, I jokingly said “I bet I go into labour after this” and how we laughed at how ridiculous the notion was.  Roll on 10 hours later, and I wasn’t laughing so smugly then, as labour had well and truely started (Thank you, Starbucks!) and 19 and a half hours later, this is how Pumpkin got his name!

The main reason for not using Pumpkin’s real name is, as parents we both want him to have a say when he is old enough, to whether he wants to have his real name used on this blog after all he is a person in his own right and will he want his childhood exploits easily found by his friends?  This is a conversation to be had will him when he is older, hopefully before the grunts and bedroom door slamming starts.

Additionally, for the same reason, I will not be using any photographs of Pumpkin, as I will leave it up to him to whether he wants his photograph to be used upon my blog at a later date, or not.

For us as parents, we grew up in a world where we are lucky enough not to have all our childhoods, experimental teens, and twenties shared on Social Media (Hooray!!!).  It’s a different world for Pumpkin, so until he is old enough and ready to make his own mind up, as parent’s we are going to protect him for as long as possible.

*This post is not in anyway sponsored by Starbucks