Friday, 15 June 2012

Storming America

We are making our way to the US right now but I thought it might be fun to see a few high lights from the last trip almost 18 months ago.
On the way to America snoozing in the sling

Merry Christmas

In infamous pickle debacle on Christmas day

On the way home 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

We leave tomorrow for our first big family holiday. J and I travelled to the US for six weeks when she was just 4 1/2 months old.  I have gone back and forth on my own an number of times since I moved over, and Philip came over to meet my family while I was at home arranging my visas but Philip and I have never travelled together.  We have taken a number of short weekend get a ways together but never a long vacation.  I am looking forward to it and to be honest looking forward to the help with J.

While I have researched travelling with toddlers and done my best to set us up for success if there is anything I know for certain about a toddler is nothing is certain. Tomorrow's flight is going to be luck of the draw.  Will she happily take her morning nap in the car on the way to the airport and be bright as a daisy for the rest of the day and what comes?  While she appreciates routine she also loves a little adventure so I am hoping we can find a good balance of both.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bookstart turns 20!

J and I started attending out local library's story rhyme almost a year ago and I have to say it in one of the activities where I have seen J grow the most. It is a 30 minutes session which includes singing, nursery rhymes, musical instruments, role play and of course a story.  When we started early fall after she turned one she was very clingy, still not sure on her feet, and sat on my lap most of the time.  While she enjoyed taking in all the sensory input, she very rarely joined in. Now as soon as we get get out of the lift to the lower level of the library where the children's section is she if off and when it is time for story rhymes to start to marches over and happily takes a seat on the mat.  She loves singing the hello song they start every session with and is usually warming up her hello hands a minute or two before the song actually start.  I have seen J come out of her shell so much and it amazes me as I have watched her become more interactive, learning the different hand motions for song, following instructions from the ladies who run the group, and now starting to learn the words and actually singing along with the songs.  What amazes me more is seeing how these skill come to play in day to day life. It would be easy to write off J knowing to put her musical shaker behind her back when always asked in story rhyme "hide it" but she will do this pretty much when ever she is ask to hide an object now.  Also seeing her learn to sit through activities like a whole story and actively listening is amazing.

I have only just realize that the story rhyme out our library is funded by Bookstart.  While I knew that Bookstart provided a pack of books to all children at two different times before the age of 4 I didn't know they also provided funding for activities in the community like story rhyme as well.  I can't imagine not going each week and to be honest while there are a million different classes you can sign your toddler up to do most cost between £7-10 for a 30-60 minute session and that isn't something we can afford on a weekly basis.  Story rhyme has been such a benifit to us and I am so happy when found out about it.

Today's story rhyme theme was party to celebrate Bookstarts 20th birthday and there were lots of party games and cookies and juice to celebrate J had a fabulous time. Happy Birthday Bookstart here is hoping for another 20 fabulous years of helping children learn to love books!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

no no no no NO NO NO

It seems we have hit the terrible twos a month or two early there are sometimes during most days I really don’t want to be around Jocelynne due to her attitude, anger, and frustration.  I am well aware it is a phase and that if I can keep my cool and be there to help her navigate this period I should in theory have a well adjusted child when she comes out the other side. In practice however there are many times I would just like to stick her in her crib and close the door and not go back until she and I have both calmed down.

I try my hardest to not force the issue Jocelynne is particularly head strong (she gets that from her mother) I read things about trying to distract children with other toys or activities when they are doing something you would not like them to do but this has never work with Jocelynne even from an early age.  If she had to do something she didn’t want to or if I needed to keep her from doing something that was dangerous or unacceptable there was nothing in the world that was more interesting than the activity I was trying to keep her from doing.  

In the same spirit if Jocelynne has decided she does not want to get dressed or put her jacket on or have her diaper changed there is very little that will persuade her other wise.  I don’t force her to get dressed against her will unless it is 100% necessary to leave the house for example on the mornings I work.  She is getting better about understanding and her desire to “go bye bye” usually eventually trumps any desire to go against the wishes of her mother.  So while I can’t say lets get dressed now, I can wait for her almost predicable desire to go bye bye to which I reply “Okay if you want to go bye bye we need to get dressed”.  Sometime this take many attempts or we may get a shirt on and then have to go back to square one as she does not want to get pants on.  I calmly reply “Sorry we can’t go bye bye until you are dressed” and walk away waiting for her to come back to me to ask again to go bye bye.

While this works as long as I know there is something in it for her that is more appealing than not doing the task at hand some things don’t come with such incentives.  Diapers need to be changed no matter what and I am not at a point where I feel comfortable leaving her is a soiled diaper because she is throwing such a tantrum to not have it changed.  As mentioned above some mornings we have to be out the door at a certain time (I am toying with the idea of just taking her to her my mother in laws in her PJs with the understanding my mother in law does not let her start playing with the toys until she is dressed).

With all of the best intentions my patience usually wears out before her will to defy what I want to accomplish.  I waver between a fear of raising a child who is spoiled and you see and think my god what did her parents do wrong to end up with such nasty child and feeling like I am stifling Jocelynne’s freedom and her ability to feel like she has certain rights and can make certain decision for herself.  I don’t want to rule with and iron fist I would love to find that happy medium where both Jocelynne and I feel like our needs are being met and that I have raised a child who feel respected as a human being.  I praise and secretly love every time she does a task I have requested and take really deep breath many times a day for all the other times, hoping we get there in the end.

Monday, 11 June 2012

slightly less up tight

We leave for the US on Friday and in a reversal of roles Philip is being the prepared one.  That use to be my role the planner, preparer, slightly neurotic in every way.  Not any more, I attribute this to motherhood.  One reason is I don't multi task as well as I use to and I need to finish up with work tomorrow before I can completely turn my attention to packing and getting us organized.  I have have done research into traveling with children and planned and pack Jocleynne's carry on but that's as far as I have gotten.

The second reason I seem to have chilled with my planning is if motherhood has taught me one thing it is flexibilty. You can plan all you want but really doesn't matter with kids there are to many variables, you do your best but a good portion of it is if the stars are all aligned properly.  Jocelynne's age also give us a lot of freedom, while she drinks better out of sippy cups she does fine with a normal cup, she eats almost everything, and running around like a crazy idiot is her favourite activity.  I have also learned that pretty much everything the might be forgotten can either be lived with out or purchased.  

I remember the first changing bag we packed to take Jocelynne out it could have lasted us weeks, I am sure it had no less than 10 diaper in it.  Yes even with a newborns love of filling their diaper 10 would have pretty much made it through most of a day and we were only planning to be out for a day or two.  Actually with the exception of number of diapers packed I think our first changing bag had more "stuff" in it than her carry on bag.  I guess that is the learning curve that come with parenthood.

Here is hoping that I haven't become too free style.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pinterest Success

One of my earliest memories of staying with my grandparents was bread and butter pickles that my grandmother canned and could be found in the fridge in mason jars.  I loved the sweet and tangy flavour they had, I found this recipe on Pinterest  pinned by a amazing blogger who not only am I impressed with her amazing talent as an artist but her theory on life and true ability to "have fun" with her kid.  Ali Edwards is amazing but I digress back to the pickles.

The recipe turned out amazing, I too halved the recipe and unless you are truly crazy about pickles it makes more than plenty.  Moving the cucumbers from the colander where they had been salted and drained to the Kilner jar turned out to be a perfect job for a certain almost two year old. I used Splenda in the place of sugar and feel it tuned out just as nice.  Word of warning you should use a fork instead of your fingers to pick the pickles out of the jar as the turmeric will stain your fingers yellow.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

One Year On

Before joining Weight Watchers 
One year ago today I got to my goal weight with Weight Watchers. At the time I set it I choose to have it be at the top range of my healthy BMI 10st 6lb or 146lbs for a number of reasons. One I still was amazed I had managed to get to a healthy weigh, I had been over weight most of my life.  The few times in my life I had not been over weight I had either been on fad diet and gained all the weight back after I stopped dieting or I had been eating really unhealthy and doing silly things like only eating one meal a day (let me stress I did not have an eating disorder I was in my early 20 working a crazy job that was 14-18 hours a day with few breaks it just kind of lent it self to crappy eating habits some how I was surviving on coffee, cigarettes, and way to much booze and really it wasn't a pretty sight).

I was only slightly over weight but on a whole happy when I moved to England at the tail end of 2005 but trying all the food that came with a new country and settling into a relationship where I quickly started to match Philip on portion sizes meant the weight started to creep on.  It was slow and also the fact that clothing sizes are different in the UK I half didn't notice and half ignored as it was happening.

The summer of 2008 a good friend at work joined Weight Watchers and in desperation not to be the last "fat friend" I went along as well I had an amazing weight loss and by late fall I had lost almost 30lbs I still had about that much to loose again to be a healthy weight but excited about how well I had done and knowing that we wanted to start trying for a baby soon I decided to give up smoking.  My weight plateaued for a number of weeks and started to move up by a sneaking 1/2lb here and there, add to it that Philip was made redundant and money was tight I told myself might as well give up Weight Watchers to save money as I wasn't loosing anyway.  It took 6 months for Philip to find permanent work and by that time we seriously wanted to start a family so I told myself no point in going back to WW I would be pregnant soon.  Well in the 6 months it took for me to fall pregnant I had put on every bit of the 30lbs I had lost and I was miserable.  Just before I found out I was pregnant I was measured for a uniform and the tailor made a jab about my size and I was horrified. I went into the bathrooms and cried I was so upset.  I was well and truly uncomfortable in my skin.

A week later I found out I was pregnant and the happiness was short lived.  On my first visit to my midwife at 10 weeks she let me know that my BMI was in the clinically obese category and that could cause problems in my pregnancy.  She told me not to gain more than 30lbs while I was pregnant but didn't really offer any advice on how to do that.

I went away and decided that while I was not going to actively try to restrict what I ate while I was pregnant I was not going to let pregnancy be an excuse for eating what ever I liked.  By 36 weeks I had managed to only gain 28lbs and while I am sure I went over I didn't weight myself after that.

By 2 weeks after Jocelynne was born I was back to my pew pregnancy weight and by the time I had my 6 week check and could rejoin Weight Watchers I had already lost 5 or 10lbs. ( I attribute this to nursing because I was eating like a horse).

Weight Watchers made a lot of sense for me because they catered for a nursing mum and even provided information about good foods to include while you were nursing to get the nutrients you needed.  They also set realistic weight loss goals for nursing mums while most women can expect up to 2lbs weight loss a week nursing mums are told up to 1lb a week as not to compromise their milk supply.

I had a fabulous leader Jackie Parsons and on a whole I had what most would call a straight forward weight loss journey.  If you average out the weight I lost over the weeks it took to get to goal I lost 1lb a week.  If you look at it on a week to week basis there were weeks I stayed the same, weeks I lost 1/2lb, and weeks I lost 3lbs.

Activity was a huge part of not only getting to goal but being able to maintain for the last year.  I can honestly say for the first 6 months I was loosing the only activity I did was walking.  I know some people think you have to be out doing high intensity activities if you want to make a difference but if your not use to that kind of thing I think jumping into something that hard can actually put you off it.  About six months into my weight loss journey a friend form our birth class invited me to start going to a mummy and me class where I could take Jocelynne.  It was just basic Jane Fonda aerobics but from there one thing led to another.  About the time J became more mobile and less willing to play happily while I worked out one of the mums introduced me to a kettle bell class that I could make some weeks.  The thrill of doing something I considered "hard core" like kettle bells gave me the guts to start doing a Sunday morning boot camp.  Philip's job changed again and I was unable to do the boot camp and kettle bell classes so I looked at joining a gym with a creche so I could work out during the week when Philip was at work.  J hit a clingy phase and refused to go in the creche so I went back to mainly walking and getting to a class at the gym when Philip had an early.  We seem to have found an good rhythm now and most weeks I get to 2 Spin classes a week and try to lift weights after at least one of those classes.  The rest of my exercise still comes from walking, I wear a pedometer (mine is a  WW's one but i urge anyone looking to up there exercise to get one and see if they are getting to the recommended 10,000 steps a day) I just have to get crafty with getting more walking in, we go to a park that is 1.5 miles away instead of the one 5 minute walk away and its a nicer park anyway so a win in both regards.  I walk us down to the nice beach 2 miles from our house and let J have a run around so she is more willing to chill out in the push chair so I can get a decent walk in on the way home. I can honestly say that with out being so conscience of including activity into my day EVERY day I would not be able to say that I have now maintained my goal weight for over a year.

I am not going to lie it has been something I have had to work on every one of those 52 weeks I still weigh in almost every week and attend a meeting as I know the group support is key to being able to keep the weight off.  I am so much happier in my skin and not because I am as skinny as Kate Moss because I am not, but because I am healthy I can now buy clothes at the normal shops I don't have to go to the Plus size shops or look in the plus size sections hoping that everything is not just a tent.  I have  leaned healthy eating habits and I am able to pass those on to J and I hope that with any luck she won't have to do what I did in my 30s she will just grow up enjoying healthy food and know how to regulate a healthy weight.
June 4th 2012

Friday, 8 June 2012


Philip loves candles, potpourri, room spray, oil burners, pretty much anything that makes a room smell nice.  He even has strong opinions on what scents should be used in what room and why.  It isn't that I don't like stinkies I just really don't think much about it.  If I find a smell that is offending I tend to search out the problem fix it then spray oder neutraliser. Don't get me wrong I find it kind of romantic that Philip is so into making our house an inviting home, so when I stumbled upon this recipe for air freshener/stinkies on Pinterest I immediately thought of Philip and made sure I picked up the ingredients at the next shopping trip.  Supposedly it is the scent they use in William Sonoma stores.  Philip appreciated the thought and I enjoyed the citrus scent filling our home all day. I used twice as many lemons as the recipe calls for as I found it to have an over powering rosemary scent to start out with.

What scents do you love to use in you home?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Pinterest Fails

The problem with Pinterest is it can become a great place to dump all the stuff and ideas you see and love never be used or looked at again.  I was starting to feel like that, I would see fab recipes or great craft projects or even really cool manicures and they would just sit in their respective board sometimes forgotten. So in a bid to not have that happen I have been trying to work my way through some of my pins.  Some have turned out amazing and I hope to share those in the future but I also thought it might be fun to share some failed projects.

Photo via The Beauty Department
This manicure was both a success and failure.  I did a friends nails going from the lightest shade to darkest and on a whole it turned out really well.  I then tried to do mine going from the darkest shade to the lightest and failed. One of the reasons was it just took to many layers of nail polish, working from lightest to darkest while I had to use two coats of the lightest shade the medium and dark shade only required one coat each making for six layers including a base and top coat.  From darkest to lightest required two layers of dark, and medium shade and three of the lightest shade to get full coverage.  I also had a problem with the stickers ripping up the nail polish which I have since learned is because I left them on too long. You want to remove them as soon as you have pained the colour on for a clean line.  On a whole though very time consuming and as I can only get 3-4 days out of a manicure before it starts chipping not something I would invest my time in again.

Photo via Our Best Bites
I was very excited about this recipe I can't remember how I came across it but so excited I made poor Philip run to the grocery store in the pouring rain to pick up more cucumbers so I could make it.  I think most of the reason it failed was error on my part as the flavour was good, the cucumbers however were slime.  I am not sure if I did not let the dressing cool down enough, or if my cucumbers were cut too thin ( I think they were) or if I didn't salt the cucumbers enough or give them enough time to release their water. As I said the flavour of the dressing was good it was just the texture of the cucumbers so I think I will give this another go in the future.

Photo via Juggling with Kids
This just didn't turn out any where as nice as the photo from Juggling with Kids, I sometimes wonder if formulas for things like baby oil are slightly different here in the UK or maybe I lost count when I was measuring out the flour.  I also have to say this was a fail on my part for lack of fore thought.  This activity was a little beyond age appropriate for J and her friend who was over at the time.  Not only that due to the fact that 20 month olds don't sit nicely at the table and keep the mess in the container I ended up with a mixture of flour and baby oil ground into my carpet. Amazingly Philip was able to get it out I am not sure how but he is amazing.  If I tried this again I would definitely make it an out door activity.

Have you had any epic fails or epic successes with ideas you have found on Pinterest?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Bank Holiday Hangover

An extra long Bank Holiday, plus an extra day off for Philip last Friday, plus picking up a bunch of extra hours at work, plus a whole lot of fun, plus cousins down for a visit led to me waking up this morning with an overflowing laundry hamper, a large stack of dirty dishes, house work that had been semi neglected over the weekend, and a toddler who was out of routine with a look that said "well the last five days have been a blast Mom what are you going to do to entertain me today?"

After pulling myself together J and I did a quick blitz of the dishes and started what ended up being 3 loads of laundry before heading to Grandma's house for one last visit with the cousins before they went back home (and a use of Grandma's tumble dryer lest our whole flat be taken over by racks of clothes drying). 3 loads of laundry, a nap, a trip to town on foot to run errands and blow off some energy as well, 45 minutes in the queue at the post office, a batch off home made soup, and a few more loads of dishes and our rhythm is slowly returning.  It amazes me how much can be accomplished if J is in a good mood and willing to entertain her self with her toys or the contents of the kitchen drawers while I work.  It is also amazing how little I can accomplish when she isn't!

Just to round our day off nicely J said purple this evening, clear as anything.  She was repeating something I had said about her shoes being purple. It wasn't burple, or purbble it was purple.  Gives me hope she might say please one day instead of puh.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


I signed up for Pinterest a while ago but wasn't quite sure how or why I wanted to use it.  It took me a while and I am still learning on a whole, but it is helping me to keep all those millions of things I see and think "that might be useful on day" all in one place.  When I have a few free minutes here or there I do love to just have a look on the popular posts section.  On one of those occasions I came across Nutella Puppy Chow.  Puppy Chow held fond memories from my child hood, not literally dog food but Chex cereal that has been coated in chocolate and dusted with powder sugar.  I have to say it was messy and time consuming but was worth the effort.  Make sure you have a large party to serve this at or you will having an overwhelming desire to sit and eat this until you are ill from the amount Nutella Puppy Chow you have consumed!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Ice Lollie Anyone?

One of the best things we did while I was pregnant with Jocelynne was attend a birth class.  We did one run by the National Childbirth Trust or NCT and while there wasn't much I hadn't already covered in my obsessive reading on the subject it did allow me to meet some amazing couples who were all due with in a month of each other.  We have all remained in contact some we see on an almost weekly basis and some maybe only a handful of times each year.  It has been such a comfort to have someone else who understands just what sleep deprivation does to you, or has ideas on good children's food, or is just willing to stand in silence with  you at the park as your child goes down the slide 3097 times and not feel like you have to make polite conversation because you both are so tired that stringing more than a few words together is a chore. It has also been brilliant to see that even though we run the spectrum on parenting styles that all of our children are thriving and meeting their milestones and we can all have a non judgemental discussion about what works for us and what doesn't.  The kids love the time together as well and I hope that our meet ups formal and informal will go on for a long time.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Well done Ma'am

Jubilee celebrations to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee have begun all over the country and will continue through till Tuesday.  Today I am watching the Flotilla on the Thames with over 1000 boat going up the Thames and tomorrow we are joining my mother in law as her road like many around the country are holding a street party.  To see all the Union Jacks, the bunting and the pictures of the Queen hung in windows makes my hear swell with pride to be a part of this great celebration and building memories as a family to share as J gets older.  Hoping to have lots of pictures to share of the street party later in the week.  Hope everyone has a brilliant weekend.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Give us this day

Making at least some of the bread we consume as a family is something I am interested in doing but at the moment between working part time and being J's main care provider M-F as Philip works doubles does not leave me what I feel is the time to invest in bread at the moment.  I know things will change, J will get older and a year from September she will start nursery 15 hours a week or what usually works out to 3 hours a morning 5 mornings a week.

In the mean time I thought I would start trying some soda bread recipes as it is quick and easy.  Instead of using yeast as a leavening agent soda breads us bicarbonate of soda or (baking soda) and buttermilk.  It makes for a much heavier loaf but also a much easier quicker loaf no need for kneading or long periods of proofing either. I started a few minutes before 8am and by 9.15am I had the loaf above and that included 60 minutes of cooking time.

J loves it which was a big bonus as I have yet to really get her to enjoy normal whole wheat bread.  While it did not work out as cheap as a normal sandwich loaf I did use organic flour and it would probably work out as cheap as a similar loaf from a bakers.

I am posting the recipe I used but I would say to use twice the salt and I might try using 3/4 wheat and 1/4 next time just to see if it lightens it up a bit.  I used a food processor to mix the flour, butter, salt and butter the rest I did in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  It also makes a massive loaf so you might think about halving the recipe if you don't think you can go through a whole loaf in 24 hours as there are no preservatives to keep it fresh this will change the baking time as well.  Happy Baking!

Soda Bread

            675                g                                  Whole Wheat flour
35                  g                                  unsalted butter
10                  g                                  bicarbonate soda
10                  g                                  salt
280                ml                                buttermilk
250                ml                                water


Mix the flour, salt, bicarbonate soda and butter to                     breadcrumbs
Add the buttermilk and water mix together and roll in to a ball (do not over work the mixture) cross the top of the dough and sprinkle with porridge oats
Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to prove
Cook at 1600c to 170oc for about 1 hour.
(When cooked if you tap the bottom of the bread it will make a hollow sound)

Friday, 1 June 2012

Who Needs Sleep

Since J was 6 months old (maybe earlier anything before six months is kind of a blur) she has woken between 5am and 5.45 am.  We have tried everything under the sun, or moon as it may be, to change this. There have been black out blinds, controlled crying (yup swore I would never do it but sleep depravation does funny things to you), moving bed times later, changing nap times, giving up night feeds all together, you name it we tried it the kid wakes up before 6 am.

With the new found skill of basic communication her early morning wake up calls now come with the question “Mama Go Bye Bye?”. Yes that was my daughter first sentence and one she repeats from the time she wake until driven to insanity you are out the door at some ungodly hour okay 7.30 but pretty close to ungodly.  It really is easier than hearing her say “Mama Go Bye Bye?” on a continual loop.

These early morning outings has lead to many interesting observations.

1. People look at you strange if you are out pushing a pushchair with a child in it before 7am.

2. If you get to the park before 8am your child will be the only one there meaning you can sit on the sideline and not have to make sure they are interacting with the other children in a socially acceptable way. J has a new found love of screaming if anyone gets on a peace of equipment she has used at the park in the last 12 months so while she may be happily going down the slide if someone she does not like the look of tries to use a swing it can get ugly.

3. It is much quieter at 8 in the morning than late afternoon and as long as J is in a good mood in the push chair I can loose myself in thought while we walk.

4. There are a lot fewer people in the grocery store at this hour making it quicker and easier to do a shop.

5. J seems to generally be in a good mood at this hour where if I take her out in the afternoon some times she has the umph.

6. You get incredible views of the sea front.

I by no means enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn but have made peace with the fact that it is where we are right now.  It won’t last forever and even if it does in a few years she can pour her own cereal and milk so it won’t matter as much any ways.