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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Me & My Big Mouth

For the first time, in my time as a mother, I have understood the power of my words. 

William is now three months away from three. And he is now the little boy I couldn't ever imagine when I was pregnant. I didn't know how to be a toddler mum, let alone a little boy's mum. At the time, I could only just appreciate how a newborn would feel in my arms. 

And what I have learned is that children really are like sponges. Like trifle-soaked sponge, dripping in the good stuff. That's my son. Dripping with sweetness and things to share.

He can recount pages from books to me. And he knows not only animals, but types of animals. He knows his chameleons and isn't content in just labelling it as a "lizzer". And don't you dare call a Dalmatian a dog. Nuh-uh. That is incorrect my friends.

And it's more than that. It's the context he picks up. He knows when is the right time to use a phrase. And he now pipes up if we are having a "Mama and Mark" conversation in the car, particularly if we mention him.

This weekend just gone, we went to the farm, as you might know if you are unlucky enough to follow me on social media and the like. And we had such a nice time. I was just so happy. I was wandering around and smiling and enjoying myself and it only really changed slightly when William ran up to us - an only child - and asked if we would come and play with him on the bouncy castle. 

There were signs and rules. Big kids should try and avoid going on with little kids. Play nicely. Children must be accompanied by adults at all times. And there were weight and height limits in metrics I'm not that great with - I'm a stone and foot kind of gal. And other parents were getting on this beast of a castle, complete with tunnels and a passageway to the huge ladder and slide at the other end. 

And I just nudged Mark and said: "Mark will go with you. Mama's too fat."

And Bill didn't care. Mark didn't care. They went and I sat down and I did, at the time, feel sad, because I'd have loved to have seen what it was like inside (in fact, I sent Mark in with the camera in the end so I could see) and I wished I could play with my son. 

But I was frightened. I didn't know whether I might break it. And would I fit through there? Or would I fall over trying to get under that bit, or over that bit? I just chickened out. I let my past size and my terrible self-image hold me back. And while I loved watching them emerge every so often, with rosy cheeks and happy breathlessness, I did feel a little left out.

But it was soon forgotten when we were reunited, shoes back on, and watching the delight on Bill's face as he fed a little lamb a bottle.

That was that.

It was days ago. 

And I'd forgotten. 

Until my family stopped by briefly last night. Only for a minute or two to collect an iPad that I'd loaded with programmes for my Gramps who is in hospital for tests (he's fine and on the mend). And my Grandma sat me down and said:

"Now, I don't know if you told him this or he's just picked it up, but when we asked him about his trip to the farm, he told us about the bouncy castle. And he said that he played with Mark on it, but that, well, that Mama was too fat."

The lump in my throat was there. 

The dread in my stomach.

And the horror.

And actually, the pain. The pain in thinking of those sorts of words coming out of my innocent little boy's mouth. As casually as I'd said it. 

I hear women speak often of the responsibility we have in teaching our daughters to be proud of themselves and their bodies. And to love who they are. 

But what about our boys? 

I somehow thought I was immune to that. But that's the thing. Boys are no different. I want him to grow up and be proud of his mother and all women, and not become used to the negative words I so often use to describe myself. I want him to consider women for who they are and not their looks, something I place too high on a pedestal. 

And I never want to hear him describe himself in that way either. 

Health is important to me. I won't glamorise my previous weight with labels such as curvy, or womanly, because, in all honesty, that's better suited to the size I'm at now. But even now I carry excess weight. And my health could be improved dramatically. 

But I held myself back from having a moment with my son. From living my life. And from having fun. I put those road blocks up and I ruined it for myself because I was too self-conscious and too negative. 

And I also made an impression on my son. A massive one for me. And yet, I imagine, this time around, it was a new phrase and a simple offhand addition to his word bank that grows every day in his head. Of no real consequence and just the same as when he learnt the word 'violin' the other day. 

"Mama? What violin?"

Something this Mama plays too often. 

"Mama? What fat?" 

Right now, that's not something I want to fill your head with, little boy. 

Focus on learning the special words. 

And forgive me for polluting you with my negativity. 

And for missing out on how special you are. 

And for holding us back. 

My lesson learnt.

I'm going to try seeing myself through your eyes. Because you see things much simpler and much clearer than I do. 

For everything you learn from me, I learn my biggest lessons in life from you. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The B-Word

So, I have a confession to make.

And it's not exactly something new. I've written about it before.

But I am so broody I think I have become a giant, walking, talking womb. And images like the one above are not just cute, they are ovary torture.

And it's such a strange feeling and I'm really starting to get frustrated with myself. Because, ultimately, it is just not the right time. So as much as my biology is screaming - "GOD YES! GET A BABY IN THIS BELLY!" - my more logical self is slightly more concerned about the baby having a bed better than our sock drawer, losing a bit more weight, and the holiday we have booked in September.

But I just can't help it.

This time of year is very much a time of year that I associate with being pregnant. Three years ago, my bump had finally started to show and I knew I was having a little boy. And I was so excited.

I remember curling up to religiously watch One Born Every Minute, in the comfiest pyjamas I could find, smelling of Bio Oil and chugging my only craving - Irn Bru. And I remember folding tiny clothes and clearing out part of my wardrobe to house them safely, while the nursery was a plasterer's playground.

I look at my son now and I have to appreciate that he is way past the baby stage. Aside from the slowly-but-surely potty training - he's a little boy now. He is so eloquent. He asked me before: "Could you move your phone for me Mama?" I replied: "Okay, pass it to me please?" He gives it to me and says: "Here you go Mama, now don't forget to say thank you!"

And I just burst out laughing.

We've got such a strong bond and I love talking to him and I love watching him read along with us at bedtime. I love that he sleeps for around 12 hours a night without a peep - hey, I had a baby that didn't sleep through until he was one years-old, I'll take my wins where I can. I love that he helps out - running to get his toy vacuum cleaner when I do the chores. Or 'helping' me to cook or wash up. And I love that he can say "I love you too."

But he's growing up and he's becoming more and more Bill and less and less my baby. He'll always be my baby of course, but he's so very much his own.

And it's not that I want to replace him, or that I need a buffer baby, to help me in the days that I don't have him, it's just this intense yearning that I can neither control or understand. I just seem to feel hungry for it.

I want to grow our family. I feel like we're missing a member in a way. Is that an odd thing to say?

I want to give my son a sibling and see them hold hands, or let Bill feed his brother or sister a bottle or help with bath time. I want to give him what my parents gave me in the form of my little brother. Knowing there's always someone out there who has your back, and having that friendship to last a lifetime, and someone to wait up for Father Christmas with. Especially that.

When Mark and I went to see A Theory of Everything around Valentine's Day, we both had a favourite scene that we took from it. Where Stephen watches his children with his ex wife Jane, and he begins to form a message and it simply says: "Look at what we made."

And Mark spoke me to afterwards and said it made him sad because we rightfully can't say that about Bill. Because he does have a Daddy of his own. But in that moment I understood the pain and struggles that step-parents must feel sometimes. But I also felt extremely lucky in having someone by my side who wishes he was 'Dad' but is respectful and big enough to be completely happy in the role with 'Step' put in front of it.

But I do want this with Mark. And I am so excited about our future - he is too, don't worry, I'm not just leading him down the newborn path of hell blindly.

I'm excited to see him become a father - even though his future child may 'make' him a father, I already know that Bill taught him to be a dad.

And I think both children, maybe even more than both? Three? Well, all of our children, all of them are lucky to have him in their lives. Even if I'm not sure, more than ever, of how the dynamics will work or how they are supposed to work, I know that they will.

And I am ready.

It seems I'm just waiting for life to catch up with me.

For now, I'll just get excited about the new series of One Born that starts next week, and get giddy for the torrent of pregnancy and birth announcements now the rest of my peers are catching up with me.

Oh Broody. I never knew you until now, but you're a bugger. You really are.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Breville Halo+ Health Fryer - Diet Must-Have

I've been putting this review off for as long as possible, because I always try and put products through their paces, especially ones that cost a lot. I don't like the idea of anyone buying something on my recommendation if I can't be 100% sure.

 As you know, I've been eating healthily for a while now, and I have certain tools that make that easier - like a decent non-stick pan, Fry Light in all of its forms, meal planning and tupperware (hey - planning your lunches ahead of time helps!). But, the Breville Halo+ Health Fryer* is, hands-down, the best of them all.

I have not stopped using this from the moment it arrived. I love it, not just because it cooks things it a much healthier way, but also because it's bloody speedy and easy-to-clean too.

You can make your own chips, for a fraction of the calories, by par-boiling them first and adding a few sprays of Fry Light and whatever seasoning you like. The same goes for roast potatoes too.

I've used it to cook bacon, homemade breaded chicken for my Salt & Pepper Chicken recipe, or with panko breadcrumbs for homemade Katsu.

I've cooked Quorn nuggets in there, sausages, and even broccoli too.

You can either use it to grill food, or cook it as you would in an oven. It also has a tilt function so things like chips can be tossed around and cooked evenly, and this makes all of the difference.

You literally bung your food of choice in the large cooking bowl, close the lid, plug in the machine, enter the time you want it to cook for (there are handy instructions included that give you guidelines) and choose what cooking type you want, and you're good to go.

I've not stopped using it and it's been a blessing, especially when I'm in a rush after work. I don't have to wait for it to preheat and I find it much easier than using the oven if it's only something small that I want to cook.

If you're losing weight, or hoping to, I think this is brilliant took to cook some of your favourite treats for a hell of a lot less calories, not to mention less fat.

You can buy the Breville Halo+ Health Fryer online for £119.99. I think it's 100% worth the money, and if you can recreate your favourite takeaway or treat for less money and less calories, then it makes absolute sense.
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