Monday, 30 January 2012

Exercise and Me

I've always had a love/ hate relationship with exercise. As a child I swam a lot, did the odd bit of netball for school but I didn't work my way through the BAGA badges or go to ballet. My exercise was mainly tearing up and down my road on my bike and running around with the other kids in the street. As I got into my teens I didn't really do anything exercise wise (apart from running about after boys!), it was only when I got to university that I started being more body conscious and that was as a result of going out with a Sports Science student who made me feel fat most of the time and wouldn't hold back from commenting on how I could do this and that to improve myself. I went to the gym on and off for years as a result of that relationship.

Eventually I realised that I was throwing my money away, I would join, go a lot for a month or two and then never go again. Instead of going to the gym I started to enter into fitness challenges, like 5k and 10k runs and a swimathon or two. And that kind of thing really is the way to float my fitness boat. I can safely say that my best motivation to get fit in my life was my wedding. I went to a personal trainer and did boxing and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The confidence it gave me and the way I felt about my appearance was brilliant. I didn't wimp out of my sessions with rubbish excuses and I found I could wear the clothes I wanted to.

Since then I've had two kids and in between having them I used the excuse that I was going to have another child at some point so there would be no point me getting into shape until I'd had baby number 2. Well now I find myself in that position. Child number 2 is on the scene and 6 months later I'm now urging myself to get out and do some exercise! And guess what in the last 3 weeks I have! I have Zumbaa-d!!! Three times!! And I've done 30 lengths at the local pool. I also bought some new running trainers so I have to get out in them and I've also signed up to this years Marie Curie Swimathon.

I intend to blog about my fitness and exercise achievements as and when, it won't necessarily be a weekly thing but I do think that making some commitment to write about it will make me do at least 1 thing a week.

What do I want to gain from exercising? To be honest, it's not really weight loss that I'm after. I'm 5 foot 11 inches and 11 stone 4lb if you really want to know, so well within the normal weight boundaries for my height. Obviously if I'm going to exercise and be healthy I probably will drop a few pounds, but what I really want is to tone up and *feel* fit. I want to get to the point that exercise makes me feel energised, pretty hard when my nights are interrupted by the baby and my daytime's are super busy running around after 2 kids. I want to fit into some jeans that have been in the back of my cupboard for a couple of years now. Favourite ones that I had to wave the white flag to. So there you go. I commit to get fit.

I'd love to know if you're also on a fitness drive and what you're up to, let's spur each other on - tweet me, facebook me. We can all do with encouragement sometimes when it's winter and the TV and comfort food are calling......let's do it together!

Photo When I Feel Like It... Noah

I'm not a cannibal but he's just so scrummy I could eat him sometimes!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Photo When I Feel Like It - My Boys

Farmhouse Breakfast Week - How did we fare?

As I mentioned in an earlier post we were asked to take part in the Farmhouse Breakfast Week Challenge and I think we did pretty well, here are the day by day photo's to prove it:

Day 1: Porridge, Orange Juice & Tea

Day 2: Muesli with honey and banana & Orange Juice

And here's a little montage (using my new Frametastic App!) of days 3 (Muesli), 4 (Toast with Blackcurrant Conserve & Banana), 5 (Breakfast Energy Bars) & 7 (Toast with Blackcurrant & Blueberry Preserve).

Day 6, there was a breakfast but I forgot to take the pic! Saturday mornings are always so manic as I'm on my own with the kids and we have to be out of the house by 9.15 to go to MAD Academy.

Research conducted about breakfast suggests that:
  • breakfast eaters have lower levels of stress
  • a bowl of cereal in the morning could help ward off PMS
  • people who eat breakfast are more likely to be in the ideal weight range than those who don't eat breakfast
  • breakfast is essential for breast feeding mums - vitamin D is key and this can be found in many cereals
How did I feel?

Well I would say that I agree with the notion that breakfast benefits your mood. With my baby boy getting me up around 5am most days of late I would say my mood is definitely a bit off key until breakfast time! I am happier after breakfast and I think a healthy breakfast sets a person up for the day. I have found that far from being rabbit food, muesli is actually quite filling!

What did I learn from it?

As I'm off work on maternity leave I would say that my breakfast habits are generally quite good at the moment as I have two kids to give breakfast to and so it would be weird for me to not sit down with them and eat while I'm feeding them/ they are eating. What I have learnt is that it is nice to vary what we have for breakfast, we don't have to have the same things every day and also this week was the first time Isla had honey. I told her what it was on the first day and where it came from and the second day she was really sweet and asked 'Mummy, can I have some bees please?' I knew exactly what she meant! It's nice for the kids to learn things over breakfast! She also liked the idea of having banana cut up on a plate and taking as much as she wanted for her porridge. Anything we can do to encourage her to further improve her eating habits is good in my book.

Will I keep it up?

My breakfast habits tend to go haywire when I'm at work, so I would like to think that I would keep up the good habit of having a healthy breakfast everyday. Sometimes I'd have it but really late when it's almost lunchtime, other times I would skip it altogether.

Here are a couple of recipes and ideas for you to liven up your breakfasts:

Breakfast Energy Bars - make these up to munch when short of time

100g Butter
200g Clear honey
200g Rolled Oats
150g Mixed Seeds
100g toasted flaked Almonds
100g Sultanas
50g Ground Almonds
2 tsp Sesame Seeds

Pre-heat oven to 180C

Heat the butter & honey in a saucepan until the butter has melted. Stir in the remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and press into a 22cm square baking tin. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds.
Bake for 15 mins until golden. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into 12 bars. Leave in the tin to cool completely before removing.

Honey & Yoghurt Porridge with Banana - A must on a winters day!

50g Jumbo Oats
1 ripe banana
50g fat free greek yoghurt
350ml semi skimmed milk
2 tsp clear honey

Place the oats in a saucepan. Mash half the banana and mix with the yoghurt (keep 1 tbsp aside), milk and 1 tsp honey then pour over the oats. Heat to just below boiling and simmer gently for 7 - 8 mins, stirring.
Pour into a bowl, slice the remaining banana and scatter on top, add the 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt and drizzle over the remaining honey.

If you'd any further breakfast recipes then go to

We were sent a hamper of breakfast items to help us on the way to a week of healthy breakfasts. Thank you for asking us to take up the challenge, we thoroughly enjoyed it!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Project 366 - Now called a Photo When I Feel Like It....

I didn't last long before I stopped posting photos every day! It wasn't the photo taking that was a problem (I take millions of these kids, Isla is so over it now!), it was the getting on the blog bit! Evenings are tricky. I'm tired by 8pm. Knowing I'll be up in the night means I skip to bed at 10pm. So I've renamed this "Photo When I Feel Like It", and it'll be sods law that I'll probably manage this daily (yeah right!)...So here's my favourite of today. Isla with Cousin M.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Friday, 20 January 2012

Weaning with HiPP Organic

HiPP Organic recently sent Noah some of their lovely organic baby food to try which got his weaning off to a great start! I used HiPP a lot when I weaned Isla. She loved most of it - I'd say Spaghetti Carbonara was her favourite HiPP recipe back in the early days.

Noah has really taken to food, I kind of knew he would as he's a big lad and milk really wasn't cutting it for him anymore. He was beginning to watch us so closely while we were eating, even moving his mouth mimicking us. He'd grab for food if I was snacking on something while I was holding him.

The HiPP range is so varied and best of all it's organic so you know its full of goodness. I started Noah off on the baby cereals that you mix with formula and he wolfed those down, as he did with the fruit pouches (winner of the gold award for Best Baby food Product in the Mother and Baby Awards) and then the jars. The only one that he really didn't take to was the tender potato and carrot, I don't blame him though, if you're given the choice between that and My First Sunday Dinner, I know which I'd choose!

I filmed him tucking in so you can see how much he is enjoying his food.....

Things I learnt from weaning with Isla is to not get too precious about mess. I used to get really stressed about food going everywhere. This time round I'm more relaxed about it. I realise now that food must be fun and there should be no negativity associated with it. I've noticed that quite often Noah likes to hold his own spoon so I have a few spoons on hand so he can have a play with it too (the more the better as he's going through that dropping everything on the floor phase!). Since being on maternity leave we always try to have meals altogether as a family and I think that is really important. With Isla we would give her meals at a different time to us and I think that really didn't help with all the fussiness we went through with her - I'm relieved to say that she is actually getting really good with food now and I do attribute that to our family mealtimes. Although the majority of Noah's food at the moment is being fed to him by me, I'm also giving him finger food so that he gets used to handling food himself.

All in all, weaning is going really well so far. Thank you to HiPP Organic for sending us their yummy food. It can be bought from all good supermarkets and recently in Sainsburys they've had a deal for 10 jars for £5. Bargain!

Project 366 - 20th January 2012 - Noah

Umm, I've just noticed that I seem to be favouring one child, and here I go again! Tomorrow will be an Isla day!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Project 366 - 19th January 2012 - Noah

This challenge is getting the better of me, but anyhow, here's my big boy at 6 months, sitting up nicely! Got to admit that he's still a bit wobbly and I wouldn't let him out of my sight sitting like this yet (his face and the carpet would get to know each other quite well if I did that!) but he's loving his new perspective on the world. Today he also had his first settling in session at nursery - with me cramping his style. Tomorrow he will be without mummy for 2 whole hours!

Farmhouse Breakfast Week - Shake Up your Wake Up!

Next week it's the HGCA Farmhouse Breakfast Week and as part of that they are running a Breakfast Week Challenge which I will be having a go at. It's a well known fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but busy mums often skip it or merely take a liquid breakfast of tea/ coffee (GIVE US CAFFEINE!) and that's not going to set us off to a good start is it?! Apparently busy mums have at least 9 tasks to do in the mornings, I definitely agree with this.
The campaign is being fronted by Melinda Messenger and here she explains about Farmhouse Breakfast Week in more detail and the challenge whereby you could stand to win £1000 of holiday vouchers!

Go to the Shake Up Your Wake Up Facebook page and register to take part, even by registering you could be in with a chance of winning one of 20 Melinda Messenger Cook books. Then fill in the details of your breakfasts during the week on the page and you could possibly win some holiday vouchers but if not then you may have started a great habit in having a healthy breakfast every day.

I'll keep you posted about my Farmhouse Breakfast Week Challenge experience!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Baking Biscuits with Isla

We made this really simple recipe from Rachel Allen's book Rachel's Favourite Food.

6oz Plain Flour
4oz Butter
2oz caster sugar

Pre heat oven to 180Celcius

Rub the butter into the flour. Then add the sugar. Bring mixture together to make a dough. Roll it out to half centimetre thickness and then cut away! Cook for 6 - 10 minutes or until golden brown.

I love Rachel Allen and have all of her books. The food she makes is so simple and these biscuits took no time to make and Isla loved making them. I got some fab gingerbread men cutters and she cut them out and decorated them herself with red and blue icing, silver balls and sprinkles. I really want to continue cooking and baking with Isla as she seems to really enjoy it. The only thing that sometimes puts me off is the time it takes to clear up all the mess! Oh and she also has a tendency to want to eat mouthfuls of flour and butter, that isn't so great either!

Here's the end result (excuse the haziness of the photo - think I got butter on the lens!), I think she did a pretty good job and they were tasty!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Project 366 - 14th Janaury 2012 - Noah

We're well into weaning now. I'm slightly wishing we hadn't gone for pink when we got Isla a high chair and if this photo showed a bit more you'd also see him using Isla's old pink cup and pink spoons!

Noah (and me) at 6 months

The last dedicated Noah post was at 7 weeks. I can't believe how we've got to 6 months this quickly but life is just so busy with 2 children.

I have to say that the first 4 months with Noah were actually quite easy on reflection. He slotted in so easily and I had a lot of help from our mum's and Isla goes to nursery 2.5 days so I hadn't felt too swamped with having Isla and Noah to look after all the time on my own. I'm very lucky to have such supportive family and since having Noah I really have a lot of respect for mums who do it single handed or those who don't have family on the doorstep.

Since 4 months though my darling boy has really taken to the early mornings. I think he may have been doing this pre 4 months, but it's only in the last 2 months that it's really starting to grind me down. He regularly wakes around 5am (at worst could be 4.30am or at best could be 5.15am) and unless I jump into bed on the dot of 10pm I feel terrible in the morning, especially if he's also been awake in the night. I'm not handling it all that well and I've been pretty miserable in the mornings, regularly in floods of tears as my OH heads off to work at 5.30am. Pretty much my mood improves as I get a cup of tea and then when Isla gets up at around 7 I've become more human. The more I get told that this won't go on forever the more fed up I get. I KNOW it won't go on forever, I mean when he's 15 I'll be crow barring him out of bed I'm sure but at the moment, I feel like SH1T.

I also know that things could be worse, I get told this a lot too and when that happens I feel bad for bemoaning my lot, after all I have two healthy children - what more could I want? When you feel hard done by on the sleep front it really can make you think irrationally and get easily stressed over things. Well I do anyway. The littlest things really grate and minor comments from the OH can cause me to get a bit shouty. I've also found that my periods have really affected my mood more than they ever did pre-kids. I mean I used to get a bit moody but now for days before it arrives i feel rubbish - I say all the usual things - I'm fat, I haven't got any nice clothes, my skin looks awful, this house is too messy, wish we had a bigger house, wish we had a better car, repeat to fade.... This list goes on and on and as I go into a downward spiral. My brain becomes over loaded and I feel like I have too much to think about.

So that's me. What about him? Well he's into rolling over and over and over. He's eating like he's eaten all his life, there won't be any leftovers with him around. He's a lot more whiny than Isla ever used to be (he doesn't have a dummy - not for want of trying!) and is far more into mummy than she was. If he's being held by someone else he will always want to be with me if I'm in the room and he can hear my voice. It's nice to be loved but I can see how boys are a lot clingier to mummy than girls and when I go back to work in 3 months I see him being more upset about it than  Isla was. Two of his favourite things (after me of course!) are Isla and Bobcat (sorry Daddy!). He follows both of them round the room, his eyes gleaming with excitement whenever they are near. I love this. It makes me feel so happy as it feels like he has fitted in so brilliantly with Isla. He stands in his activity station and Isla pretends he is the shopkeeper and she 'buys' things from him. Of course he doesn't have the faintest idea what she's on about but smiles and really loves it.

He still continues to be a 'beefy' baby, he's only 6 months, weighs 24lb and is in some 9 - 12 month clothing already. He's been a bit of a sicky baby - regular pukes after milk and had really terrible painful wind in the early days, so I'm hoping with the weaning will come less of the puking.

We had a fabulous photo shoot recently and this was my favourite photo of Isla and Noah together. They really are beautiful children, I know I'm biased but they are and I'm so proud of them and hope that they continue to thrive and make me feel like my heart could burst.

Photo's by Sarah Jones

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Project 366 - 11th January 2012 - Noah

I love a bobble hat I do! I got this one from Sweetheart Knits. Noah must have a really big head though as it is a little bit snug and on putting it on Isla it seems his head isn't too far off the size of hers and she's 2 years older!!! Still looks a cutie in it though!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Project 366 - 9th January 2012 - Toys

So today I've actually not managed to take a photo of my kids at all! A new high in my attempts to take a photo of my kids every day. When I started I really didn't think it would be that difficult but it's harder than it seems! Anyway, this picture really captures how these munchkins have INVADED my home. Look, where has my grown up living space gone. I've gone storage box crazy since we had kids, but I still need to pay another trip to Ikea to cage these toys......

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Project 366 - 8th January 2012 - Isla

Today has been tiring. We spent the whole day with my mum and dad while the OH plays golf. Don't get me wrong it was lovely but Noah is especially tiring at the moment, night time waking and early waking and Isla is great but no daytime nap (this only happens now if we go out in the car over lunchtime) combined with ice cream, cake and a biscuit make for extreme high spirits!! So my photo today is Isla asleep in her bed after a great day at Nanny and Grandpa's house. Isla was actually due to stay at Nanny and Grandpa's tonight but at the last minute she decided to change her mind, so my little break in the morning of only have one small person to care for is blown but her little face tonight when she was saying she didn't want to stay couldn't be refused!

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Project 366 - 7th January 2012 - Isla

Oh dear, I've already failed - missed yesterday's photo! I did take a photo I just couldn't get on the blog. Anyhow, I'm going to carry on and see how many I can actually manage and not beat myself up if I can't do it. Here's today's photo. As you can see it looks a whole lot better than any of my efforts and that's because an excellent photographer took it! We had a fab hour having a family shoot today and the results are gorgeous.

If you're interested in following other people's Project 366, click the badge below to check out The Boy and Me's Linky!

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Project 366 - 5th January - Bobcat

Hmmm, so I know this isn't Isla or Noah but I felt like I should include the other baby in our house:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Year that was 2011!

Well that whizzed by in the blink of an eye didn't it?! 2011 been and gone. Must be something about having kids that makes this happen, and given that we had our baby boy Noah this year I put the blame solely on him ;-)

Anyway, seriously, 2011 has been a pretty fantastic year for me and my little family. I spent half of the year pregnant (the last 12 days when the baby was overdue feeling longer than the previous 6 months!) and the other half of the year running round after Isla and Noah like a blue arsed fly and battling extreme tiredness (again!). So here's a quick run down of what we got up to in 2011.

January - This month I started Bump Watch on my blog. It began at week 15 when Noah was a teeny tiny thing in my tummy. I love having this record of my pregnancy. It's fascinating to see my tummy grow week by week.

We were also fully in the grip of the Annie obsession. It's funny because a year later we still have days where a random burst of 'Tomorrow' can be heard. It really was the start of Isla's love of films and I actually rather love that film too. Which is far from what can be said about her new fascination with Princesses - particularly all the Barbie Princess films that have been on Nick Jnr over Christmas!

We were also having regular swimming lessons thanks to a blog review opportunity from Swim Baby Swim.

February - This month we found out we were having a baby boy! We were gob smacked - I know it's a 50/50 chance but in my mind I always had a picture of 2 little girls running round together, so when the scan revealed it was a boy we were speechless but happy!

This month was also where I had a starring role at The Baby Show - I brazenly wore a maternity bra on the Bras4mums stand. It was a great way of getting attention for them and it also really boosted my confidence. It is something that I would never have done had it not have come up through my blog. I really think that my blog has given me so many opportunities and it has made me far more confident and interested in the wider world. 

March - Nothing really happened this month, it passed by with me getting huge, doing lots of pregnancy yoga and preparing for the new baby.

I posted two of my personal favourite blog posts Spectacular Puke & POO!

April - This month one of my good friends and his partner came over from Australia and I got to meet his little boy and they got to meet Isla and see the bump! His parents were also kind enough to invite his friends over to their place in France so we could all spend some time together. It was fantastic but so different to our previous visit where we all stayed up drinking most nights! There were 5 children in tow this time and 2 bumps. They organised an Easter Egg hunt for when we arrived and as usual made us some lovely meals - we were thoroughly spoilt and the weather was pretty nice too!

May - We went to the Lollibop Picnic! It was fab!

I found out I was a MAD Blog Awards finalist which was very exciting!

I was also really in that Mamas and Papas supplied me with some absolutely fantastic maternity wear and I showcased it on the blog. They really were my saviours to be honest and I felt great wearing the clothes! Far better than I actually feel now post baby about my clothes!!

June - I went to Cybermummy, waddled my way around and met up with some of my blogging buddies. All in all it was a really good day, meeting some old and new friends.

I also finished up at work for maternity leave. It felt so good not to have to trek up to London carrying my massive bump around on the train and around the Circle Line!

July - We had our bouncing baby Noah! He was due on the 1st and arrived on the 13th. Weighed in at a whopping 9lb 14oz and has become a real little character. 4 days after Noah's birth we celebrated Isla's 2nd birthday. She was really brilliant to be honest about the arrival of her new brother. We had some melt downs and it felt like she'd gone deaf sometimes when I was asking her to do things but this all worked itself out within a month or so.

August - This passed by in a hazy newborn fog! Loads of visitors to see Noah. We managed to get up to London for the Lollibop event - we didn't have a great time - this is no reflection on the event which would have been fabulous had it not bucketed down with rain the entire time we were there and we didn't have a 3 week old baby with us!!

We had a slight scare with Noah and I having an overnight stay in hospital for a dodgy rash. He was fine in the end but it was a bit frightening.

September - We took our first holiday as a family of 4 to Cornwall. We went on a fantastic farm holiday to Coombe Mill, Isla had a great time and we'll definitely look at a return in the future! Isla still talks about it now, she will never forget that the goat knocked her over, however if asked what her favourite animal is she will always say goats!!!

It was also the MAD Blog Awards night. It was fabulous, I didn't win but that didn't matter a jot. It was nice to be part of a community and the evening was my first out since having Noah, all made more fabulous by my outfit sponsor, Debenhams, who made me feel wonderful!

October - My Dad had his 60th birthday, a low key lunch with mum, sis, OH and munchkins. It was lovely! We also had Cousin M's second birthday and the OH became a God Father.

November - The OH and I had our first night away without the rugrats! Did we go all goo-ey and romantic? Did we hell! It wasn't the best evening we've ever spent away in each others company but all we wanted to do was sleep! We did but admittedly not as well as we would have done in our own bed, so next time we will be having a child free night in our own home, just need to get the Grandmothers lined up!

I also went to a brilliant event for Give As You Live, read the post and see how you can do your bit for little effort!

December - Noah's first Christmas and the first Christmas where Isla had some understanding and we could start to weave some of the magic about Father Christmas. If I'm honest it was my most tiring month so far as a mum of two. After finding things getting slightly easier they have started to feel harder but I might save all that for another post.

So that was my year. It's been brilliant. I'm particularly happy about all the opportunities my blog has given me and all the wonderful people who have liked what I've been doing here. It's my hobby and I don't get too hung up on stats but it's always nice to be appreciated. That leaves me to say:

Happy 2012 one and all - hope it's a healthy and prosperous one! Hope you'll still be following me this year!

Project 366 - 3rd January 2012 - Isla

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky