15.4.16

MY HAPPINESS NON-NEGOTIABLES

I've been nominated by Hannah over at Obliviously Awesome to do a post on my happiness non-negotiables - the things I absolutely have to have in my life to be happy. 

I'll admit, I was stumped. What DO I need to be happy? Everything I could think of has become a lot less important now that Annika's arrived, and it got me thinking about how my happiness non-negotiables have changed since my Little Bird arrived. 

My pre-baby happiness non-negotiables 

My bed. Man, I loved sleep. My favourite thing ever was to pop on my PJs at 8pm and have a nice early night. Now I still wear my PJs a lot but sleep is a little more elusive. 

Quality time with Matt. And quality time with my friends. I really needed proper date time with Matt when we could talk to each other uninterrupted, gaze into each other's eyes and do now unheard-of things like kiss. I also loved spending time with friends and would have at least two lunches/dinners/catch-up drinks in the diary every week. I don't need to tell you what's happened to my diary now... 

Reading. I've always loved to read and could happily while away a Sunday afternoon devouring a book in one sitting. Since Annika my reading range has been restricted to magazines only, with the occasional dip into a chapter or two of a parenting manual. Baby-Led Weaning isn't quite the gripping read I'm used to. 

Chocolate. I simply had to eat chocolate every day. Even if it was just a square after dinner, I had to have it. Gestational diabetes and my current elimination diet have taught me that, actually, life without chocolate is perfectly doable (if only a tiny bit miserable). 

Coffee. At one point I was on about six cups of the hard stuff a day, and I was never one to refuse an offer to do the coffee run, though the colleague offering would instantly regret their offer when I rattled off my ridiculous order, which got more ridiculous when I was pregnant - "decaf skinny hazelnut cappuccino". 

My post-baby non-negotiables

Annika. Obvs. Not only would I not be happy without her, but I'd probably just crawl into a hole and die. Dramatic, much? Yes. But true. I wake up every day to her staring up at me with those big grey eyes and it totally melts me. It's the best way to wake up and guarantees I start the day with a smile on my face. 

Coffee. This one stays but, as I'm only on the  decaf now (breastfeeding) and with the dubious accompaniment of oat milk (it sort of cooks and undulates in the cup - boak), it's more of a ritual than anything. I still love to start the day with a cup, and still reach for the jar when I'm feeling low on energy; even though it doesn't provide the physical pick-me-up I'm craving, I still derive some psychological boost from its placebo form. I've invested in a fancy coffee machine to make me feel like I can have the posh shop coffees of yesteryear, but the faff of warming/making/cleaning means we only use it at weekends. 

Baths. I used to hate baths and can count on one hand the number I'd had in the year preceding Annika's birth (2). I think it was because I didn't like my body much, and being in a bath, with your flabby bits magnified by water, forces you to confront your body insecurities. Then when I was pregnant baths were off the menu as I was scared off by all the things you read that tell you not to have hot baths when pregnant (and I like them hot). But since having Annika a bath is one of my regular pleasures. I LOVE passing Matt to Annika for an hour while I soak in a hot, bubbly bath with a glass of wine and a magazine. It's pretty much the only uninterrupted me time I get, and I love it. Matt's got into the (amazing) habit of buying me fancy bath treats from Neal's Yard and, weirdly, my body insecurities have disappeared since Annika was born. My tummy is a whole lot flabbier but I do not give a flying f-bomb. 

Chocolate/wine. The chocolate's dairy free and the wine has to be minimal, but mama needs a vice at the end of the day. I don't mind which (preferably both, of course). 

Other mama friends. Be they real, actual friends or people who don't even know I exist but whose blogs I read. Having a baby is a big deal. Even if they slot nicely into your life like Annie did and aren't 'difficult', it's still a MAHUSSIVE change. It helps a hundredfold to be able to share that experience with others. 

And, speaking of Mama friends, I nominate Catherine over at Spot The Girl to write about her happiness non-negotiables. Off you go! 

8.4.16

BEST BABY BUYS: 0-6 MONTHS

Now Annika's 6 months old, I feel sufficiently experienced as a mama to impart some 'wisdom' on what I've found to be the most useful bit and pieces for baby rearing so far. 

So here it is...

6.4.16

SIX MONTHS

Happy (belated) half birthday, Baby Girl! 

I wrote a totes emosh, gushy post all about how Annika changed my life and how much I love her, and then I realised the only people who are going to want to read that are me and her, so that one's staying personal. Instead, here's a little round up of what Little A is up to these days. 

Moving
I'll be the first to admit, Annika's not the most advanced when it comes to getting her move on. We have no signs of sitting, other than flopping over, but she's recently learned how to roll and now she won't stop! Eschewing the usual first front-to-back roll, which she's done twice ever, Annie seems to be unable to stop herself from rolling back to front, the second I put her down. She always goes to her right, and without fail gets frustrated within about ten seconds of being on her front. I roll her back, she instantly rolls over, cries, and repeat ad infinitum. My life is one long stream of rolling her over now. 

Chattering
I can't call it talking, but she looks so intense as she "abdabdabdab"s at us, desperately trying to tell us something. Matt swears she says Dada, and I KNOW I heard her say Abu Dhabi the other day. Of course, she said neither. But it's super cute. 

Eating (watch this space) 
We intended to start weaning Annika on her half birthday, but a combination of the blender not getting the broccoli smooth enough and us being pushed for time meant we've put it back a couple of days. Annika's still struggling with food allergies/intolerances, so weaning will be a slow and careful process, but I'm excited to see how she reacts to food. 

Sleeping
Or not. Annika has seriously regressed in the sleep department of late. Gone are the days of her once per night wakings, and now I'm contending with 4+ times every night, beginning with a killer 1.30am wake-up that ensures I lose the opportunity for any significant stretch of sleep. If you'd told me a year ago that I'd be woken up every two hours for the entire night, every night, I think I'd have wept but it's actually not that bad. You deal with it, you adapt and you just get on with things. She's worth every yawn-making minute. 

Wearing
Not a lot. Don't worry, I'm not letting her go naked, but her wardrobe is seriously diminished at the moment. She's outgrown some of her 3-6m stuff, whereas some has loads of room left (M&S babygros for the win), but she's not big enough for 90% of her 6-9m clothes as she's too little. Again, I have no idea how 5'9" me managed to make a 9th-centile-for-length baby, but I did, and Titch is a long way off filling a lot of those 6m+ sleeves and legs! 

Doing
Laughing. Mostly hysterically in the evenings and almost exclusively on her changing mat. I have no idea what it is about being on the floor on cold, padded plastic that makes life so darn hilarious, but she chuckles so much down there. I'm totally in love with her little laugh, it's amazing. Annika also loves blowing raspberries (a LOT), putting anything and everything she can get her hands on into her mouth, and kicking her legs wildly at every given opportunity. A recent favourite trick is to pull off her socks and shove them in her mouth, which send my choking fears sky-rocketing and means she's rarely left unattended for more than 30 seconds unless she's sockless! Annika's love affair with singing continues, and there's nothing better at calming her down than a cuddle and a song. She also still loves bathtime, and doesn't even protest when Mama manages to pour water/shampoo over her face. We haven't been doing any formal baby groups since Baby Sensory ended, but we're giving Baby Ballet a whirl from next week so I'll be sure to update on how that goes! 

All in all, Annika continues to be a super happy baby and, while her sleep isn't great, she's still not a cryer and can mostly be found smiling at anyone and everyone she meets. I'm almost too scared to ever have another as I know we won't be this lucky next time! 




2.4.16

AROUND HERE LATELY (AGAIN)

Yes, I know I've used that title maaaaany times before but if it ain't broke...don't waste precious brain cells trying to come up with a snappier post title. 

So what have we been up to this week? 

+ we switched the bassinet part of our pram for the seat part. I'd been putting it off for weeks as it means my little baby is growing up. Too fast! I almost cried. Yes, I'm a loser. But Annika seems to love her new up-high perch from whence she can survey the landscape and get all nosy about everything that's going on around her. Of course, that means she's sleeping less than before in the pram - those boring bassinet walls were sending her to snoozeville a lot more successfully. 



In memoriam. 

+ we went to Brighton today. It was super sunny when we set out so I pulled on a sun-high induced outfit that looked as if a toddler has thrown it together - my new grey Selfish Mother sweatshirt, highly patterned pink/blue/black Capri pants and some black & luminous pink trainers. Of course, about 45 minutes after arriving the sky clouded over and it got all chilly and I sorely regretted opting for free-range ankles. We ate chips, played some 2p machines, I won a torch key ring and gave it to the nearest child (who looked deeply unimpressed - ungrateful brat) and then we called it quits and headed home. 


+ Annika might finally be getting better at sleeping at night. Not through the night, of course, she still wakes up 3-4 times each and every night, but twice this week she's actually stayed in bed when I've put her down at 7ish. Whoop! 

+ we went to stay with my folks for a couple of night this week and got to go to our wedding venue and sample our wedding menu. We took Annika along - crazy needy mama doesn't like leaving her and there's no way she'd have gone the four hours it took without booby milk. I was worried about the inevitable car crash of the young baby + fancy restaurant equation but she was actually really great. The food was totally amazing, as was the wine (a glass of prosecco and one each of white and red and I was feeling a little squiffy) so we're really pleased with our choice of venue and food options. Hopefully our guests will feel similarly. We also hung out with the animals on the farm at our venue. Annika had less than zero interest in the reindeer/goats/alpaca/pigs/sheep, which was surprising given her love of 'Old MacDonald'. 


+ I picked up my engagement ring and Matt's wedding ring last weekend. The jewellers we used have made a fantastic job of repairing my sparkly - it had had a poor repair job at some point between being set in the 1920s and now, and the jewellers completely re-set the stone so it was all straight and pretty in a completely new basket, and filled in some little imperfections around the shoulders, as well as sizing it down a few sizes (every time I'd worn it before I'd been pregnant/a bit fat). We're over the moon with how great it looks. 


+ I'm currently enjoying some down time while Annika sleeps and musing on how on earth we've got this far already. Annika is six months old tomorrow! The last half year has been utterly incredible - just the most perfect time in my life. I'm such a ball of emotion right now - I'm so sad that she's growing up so quickly but I'm also excited to get to know the little person she's becoming. Tune in tomorrow for what I'm sure we'll be a nonsense-filled, gushy post about how much I love that little squish... 

28.3.16

SLING REVIEW: THE BUCKLES - ERGO 360 VS CONNECTA

I covered a little of my first foray into babywearing here and declared my undying love for the Close Caboo. Now, I'll always love the Caboo, but there comes a point when you want a little more structure to your sling. For me, that point was when Annika hit around 14lb, which was something like... 3.5 months? Ish? Baby brain is real. 

I was so prepared for this. When I was pregnant I'd read up on the best structured carriers out there and had parted with £140 for a brand spanking new Ergo 360. It's designed to be ergonomic and comfy for mama and baby, and doesn't put any nasty strain on your little one's hips (I'm looking at you, Baby Bjorn). It also does 4 positions - parent-facing (front), outward-facing, hip carry and back carry. It feels very secure and well made, with a system of buckles and buttons to transform it for the different carries. Sounds fab, right? Not so much for me.

26.3.16

WEDMIN: AN UPDATE

Sooo... I was supposed to post this last Thursday (yeah, over a week ago, and what?) but life got in the way. 

Last Thursday marked six months to go until our wedding. Exciting! But also scary. Not because I'm having any doubts about marriage, but because there is SO much to do to plan the day. 

So far, I have bought my dress (though it needs altering) and booked the first fitting, booked the ceremony and reception venues, ordered Matt's ring and sent my engagement ring off to be resized, booked the photographer, and bought dresses for Annika and our little bridesmaid, Matt's niece Sophie. I know that sounds like good progress, but I don't feel like that's true! I still have soooo much to do! 

Adult bridesmaid dresses - this one is proving SO difficult, mainly (wholly) down to my somewhat-hard-to-please sister. She's great, but she definitely knows what she likes and doesn't like, and all the dresses I suggest sit firmly in the latter camp. Sure, she can find dresses she likes for £200 apiece, but that doesn't really fit my smaller-than-average wedding budget. 

Invitations - these are one of the things I didn't realise were super-expensive until I started wedding planning (other things in this category are dress alterations, photographers, flowers and about a million other wedding items). I was planning to get some designed by someone on etsy (still might) but that's still coming out at like £200. For paper. And that doesn't include the postage to actually get them to people. I'm contemplating making them myself but we'll see how that goes... 

Guest list - kind of an important one and very necessary for the above. We're having a teeny tiny wedding so it'll be a teeny tiny guest list, but there are a handful of people who at the moment are on the 'out' list and I'm trying to find a way to put them on the 'in' list. But at £130+ per person, a handful of people can blow your budget. I'm already having to go against my perennial insistence that I would never have 'evening guests' at my wedding... 

Flowers - jeepers are these expensive! All I want is a bouquet for me, two smaller bouquets for the bridesmaids and a few buttonholes for the menfolk. That'll be £250, thank you. Erm...no. I think I'm going to end up doing these myself. 

Make lots of decisions about things - we're having our menu tasting this week to firm up options for the wedding breakfast. I'm rather excited about that - it's not often we get to have a fancy meal out nowadays. And it's served with the wines for our wedding = lunchtime drunkenness. I probably won't be able to eat 80% of what's there due to Annika's potential intolerances, but I'm still excited! Then there are plenty of decisions still to make about the ceremony - Bells? Organist? Hymns? Readings? 

Book hair and make-up (and actually find someone to do this who, again, doesn't cost the earth), pick up our rings, make playlist, find Matt a suit, make orders of service... 

So progress is being made, but slowly. I'm really going to have to up the pace if we're going to get everything organised in time. I'm aiming to get one thing done per week, which doesn't sound like a lot, but when you have a baby and the 'one thing' needs some combination of designing/deciding/finding/ordering/obtaining, that can be a challenge. But we'll get there. 

Onwards and upwards! 

16.3.16

A DAY IN THE LIFE: 5 MONTHS

I've been meaning for months to bore you with an excruciatingly painful minute-by-minute account of my boring life, so here you are! You're so totally welcome. And, yes, I drafted this over two weeks ago. So sue me. 

00.30 Annika wakes up and feeds
02.30 Annika wakes up and feeds. Again. I get her back to sleep, having to restrain her hands so she'll stop scratching her head and waking herself up. 
04.40 Annika wakes up and feeds, mistakenly thinking she's a newborn. You're not, Little A; time you did some more sleeping. I make the mistake of looking at my phone for some blog reading. 
05.15 I'm still awake, and force myself to put down the phone and go to sleep 
06.20 Annika wakes up and feeds. Seriously?! 
06.30 Annika goes to sleep just in time for Matt to come in asking where his shoes are. I shush him loudly and ask him if he's looked under the bed. He hasn't, he does, they're there. 
06.45 Matt comes in again, asking where his travel card is. I shush him loudly again, and tell him it's on the floor in Annika's room, where he left it. 
06.46 I close my eyes for some sleep, knowing I'll be breaking the rule we learned at the sleep workshop last week to make sure Annika's awake by 7am 
08.28 I wake up to Annika's new favourite habit of trying out different sound effects with her voice. This morning it's a creepy, breathy sound, punctuated by grunts and accompanying loud farts. Contemplate sacking off everything I had planned for today (not much) and scale back my plans for world domination/baby-entertainment, before remembering that a day at home will result in nap-fighting for Annika and 4pm wine-craving for me. 
09.37 Annika falls back to sleep so I take the opportunity to race through my morning chores - shower, dress, unload dishwasher, laundry into tumble dryer, put on another load of laundry, have breakfast 
10.10 Annika wakes up so I hastily gulp down the last of my porridge and go get her up and dressed 
10.28 take a gratuitous Instagram shot/waste some precious time