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Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Chip on My Shoulder

I'm at that stage now where the people in my year at school are starting to have babies. And that makes me feel very old. And very excited. And it also makes me reminisce an awful lot about my time. The time I became a first-time mum and the time I fell in love like never before.

These memories are happy and full of dozy maternity days, heavy eyelashes falling on tiny plump cheeks, and that newborn smell. I just remember being so deliriously happy, sore and tired all in one, but I was so secure in that feeling.

It wasn't until I was sorting out my files this week, ahead of future plans, that I came across a printed spreadsheet.

It was full of sums. Full of subtractions. And notes. And as I took a closer look, my heart ached as I realised it was my 24 year-old self trying to work out how much maternity leave she could afford.

And it was then that I realised that it's my chip on my shoulder. I suppose, as mothers, we all have one. We all have that one thing that makes us feel frustration, or a desire to go back and do it right.

I remember making that spreadsheet. I remember hitting sales figures. And saving every bit of money I could find. I remember the relief in still fitting in my pre-pregnancy clothes as I got bigger - because I was already big. And I remember the pride in finishing my new baby's nursery in time - the feel of a new carpet under foot, and the smell of fresh blue and cream paint. All things I'd tried hard to get sorted so my baby would have everything he needs.

Except me. Or at least, in the way he should have had me.

In the end, the house needed to be done. My son's room had a sagging ceiling. And a carpet so dusty and worn that it no longer stretched to the edges of the room.

I had 11 weeks in total. That may not seem like very much to some, but for me, finishing at 39 weeks and four days pregnant, it felt like a holiday.

But he was late. And I was heartbroken. Not just because I was fat and bored - I was that too - but I felt like someone had turned the hourglass too early and I couldn't stop the time from slipping away. In the end, he was just shy of nine weeks when I found myself sat at my desk - a desk that hadn't even had the chance to grow a dusty layer.

I know that, ultimately, I didn't have a choice. I stretched myself as far as I could, because, as we all know, love just isn't enough to raise a child.

Now I see my friends having children of their own. Watching their bellies swell. And wondering whether their baby is blue or pink, I just want to say one thing.

It's not "enjoy the rest while you can" or foreboding warnings of how their lives will change forever and they will never have fun again.

Because motherhood is by far the best thing to of ever happened to me.

I want to say this.

Grab every second that you can with your baby. Because it really does slip through your fingers. And before you know it, that baby is a toddler. And you have to say goodbye, sometimes for days, and you can't rewind.

The future is always a brilliant thing to look forward to. But while your future is my past, make sure you take every second you can get.


This article is also brilliant. And kind of relates to what I've spoken about. I can't understand why we don't do more for mothers. And fathers. Families.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

How to involve children when planning a family holiday

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we have already booked our holiday for this year, which we weren’t expecting to. But we were able to book on Boxing Day, and we’re going back to Menorca again as a trio.

We’re off to Protur Aparthotel Bonaire, in Majorca, which is even more exciting for us after reading Emma’s review.

We fly in September, so it’s months and months away yet. But I’m so excited. We’re at that stage where we’re trying to teach Bill a little more about planes and holidays – he sees our photographs from last year and he recognises the beach and the ‘pad’ pool’ as he likes to call it.

I have a huge urge to travel, and there are many places I’ve yet to see. And I also want to make sure that, whenever I can, I help my children see parts of the world too. So, as Bill gets older, I’m going to try my best to get him involved too.

Here are some tips on how to get your little ones excited for holiday. Wherever they go.

Choose a destination

If you fancy a week or two away but aren’t sure where to go, a family brainstorm could lead you to an exciting or luxurious destination - such as those offered by Tots Too - you might never have thought of. Kids can come up with great ideas and by getting them involved you’ll hear exactly where they want to go – and why! Sure, they might be young but they’ve probably already heard of places that interest them, be it the beaches of Spain or the rides of Disneyland Paris, so it’s worth getting their input. Of course, if they choose somewhere way off budget you may have to think again, but putting your heads together as a family can be extremely productive.

Research places of interest

Once you’ve decided where to go, encourage your youngsters to research places of interest and create an itinerary of what they’d like to do while away. Not only is this task extremely educational it’ll also help them learn more about their destination of choice and hopefully get them interested in travel. There’s plenty of information online about some of the world’s best attractions and you could even use an atlas or globe to show them exactly where you’ll be taking off from and landing. Travel brochures also have lots of pictures and if you want to make the most of technology view satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings using Google Earth.

Go holiday shopping together

Whether you need a new tent for your family holiday or walking boots, why not go shopping together? Buying necessary items is all part of the preparation and while taking the kids might be more time consuming it’ll help them get in the mood for a trip away. Of course, you could always sneak off for an hour or two alone to buy the basics, but if any big and exciting purchases need to be made, doing it as a family could be really fun. Turn it into an adventure and you’ll have very excited children who can’t wait to go on the holiday they’ve prepared for and planned.

Encourage them to pack

Ok, so letting your children pack their cases without inspecting the contents might be risky but you could at least get them to lay their clothes out on the bed. Ask them to pick what they want to take with them bearing in mind the weather and the various activities you’ll be doing. Tell them they can choose one or two toys/electrical devices and remind them to gather together toiletries such as toothpaste and shampoo. When they’ve finished, check over what they’ve gathered before getting them to put everything in a suitcase ready to go.

*PR Collaboration.

My Huevos Rancheros

I posted my meal plan yesterday, and this dish has been on my "must try" list forever. Eggs, heat, crisp tortilla. I mean what is not to love?

I have seen a few recipes of how to make this brunch dish, but I just picked my favourite bits and made my own version, which makes use of store cupboard items, and I like to think it's a little lower on the cals too.



Eggs (one per person for brunch, two for tea).
Corn tortillas.
Chopped tomatoes - one tin.
Refried beans - one tin.
An avocado, chopped.
A bunch of coriander.
One lime.
Chilli flakes.
A big clove of garlic.
Salt and pepper.
Cooking spray - Fry Light.
A tiny crumble of feta cheese (optional).


Pop your tomatoes, chilli (as much as you like, but it's so much better if you ramp up the heat) and garlic into a saucepan to warm through and reduce. You don't want a watery mess. So get this bubbling away.

In another pan, transfer you refried beans (that will smell like dog food but taste like heaven - trust me) and let them warm through. Add a splash of water if they are a little stiff.

Then, warm a non-stick pan on a high heat. Take your tortillas and spray with Fry Light. A couple of sprays will do. Heat up the sprayed side, and spray the other side while it browns and puffs up a little. Flip. And then pop on your plate to serve. Repeat, until they are all cooked through.

In the same pan, pop your eggs in to fry. If it's non-stick, you won't need a thing. If not, try some Fry Light.

While your eggs are cooking through, pop your refried beans on your tortillas, followed by the avocado, with a squeeze of lime, and as much coriander as you like. Then pop on your cooked eggs, followed by your tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and add a little extra coriander and some feta if you like, and even some extra chilli flakes.

Try not to face-plant it. Try.

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