Plans for 2014

2014 plans

I know we’re a few days into the new year already so I thought it was about time I wrote about some of my plans for 2014. These are not resolutions as such, just some things I hope to achieve in the coming year.

1. Continue to lose weight.

I’ve not been back on the scales yet but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back to square one after my Christmas eating! I’m not going to do my usual trick of just giving up though. My Fitness Pal was working well for me before Christmas so I’m going to carry on the calorie counting and hopefully try and fit in some exercise too – even if it’s just making sure I get out for a walk with Toby in the buggy a couple of times a week. After years of faddy diets and crazy exercise regimes I know exactly what I need to do. I’ve found a really simple way to lose weight. Shall I let you in on my secret? Here it is: Eat less, eat better, move more. That’s it. You can have that one for free!

2. Watch our spending.

I’m to used to having two pretty decent salaries to go at so although we’ve never been well off, before Toby came along we didn’t have to worry too much about our spending. I’ve always been quite money savvy and make sure I find the best deals for things like the mortgage and car insurance. Where I’ve been getting a bit slack though  is with the supermarket shopping. Now we only have one salary and maternity pay though I need to be a bit more careful. I always used to plan our meals for the week before doing the weekly shop, and I still have been, in my head. But without a proper list I always seem to forget something, and when I go back to Tesco for one thing I always end up spending twenty quid and a lot of baby clothes manage to find their way into my basket! So from now on it’s back to meal planning and proper lists and hopefully, therefore, a reduction in our day to day spending.

3. Continue blogging.

I’d like to try and post more regularly and I’ve got lots of ideas for new posts. I want to write some more about cloth nappies; I know I found reading other peoples’ experiences helpful when we started out using them. We’re also just starting weaning with Toby so there’ll be plenty about that too. I still want to join in with Silent Sunday and The Ordinary Moments and maybe find some other linkys to join to. I really want to work on the design of my blog too – I’d love to get a custom illustration done. If anyone knows someone who could help with this without it costing the earth please do let me know! To this end I’m also going to look at going self-hosted this year. I’ve got my own domain name already but I think moving to will give me more options design-wise.

4. Go back to work.

My employment situation is quite complicated and as I’m a teacher working for the local council I can’t really go into much detail here. Basically I was on a temporary contract before maternity leave so I still don’t know if I will have a job to go back to, or if I do then I don’t know where it will be. If everything works out though I should be going back to work in August and hopefully back to the school I was at last year. I initially thought I would want to go back to work part time (and that would still be my plan in the long run) but I’ve started to think that, due to new year’s intention number 5, I might be better going back full time for a year. Which brings us to…

5. Baby number two!

I know Toby is only six months old but we’ve always said we want two kids and I’d like them two years apart. The main reason for this is that my brother is exactly (to within one day!) two years older than me and we got on really well growing up. So, if we want our kids two years apart then I need to be pregnant again towards the end of the year. And if I go back to work full time then I’ll get full maternity pay instead of it being reduced to part time pay. I know I might change my mind when it gets a bit nearer, and we might choose to delay things a bit, but at the moment this is the plan.

And that’s it. I think I’m going to leave it at five. Of course I want to have lots of family time with Toby and the hubby – hopefully that will include our first family holiday abroad too! I know this year is just going to be amazing watching Toby grow and develop. The first six months of his life has been the most awesome, overwhelming and brilliant six months of my life. I can barely imagine how exciting the next year is going to be!

Toby’s first Christmas

Baby's First Christmas bauble

Throughout the run up to Christmas I read lots of blog posts about ‘Baby’s first Christmas’ and to be honest I was slightly baffled by the efforts some people seemed to be going to when their babies weren’t old enough to even be aware of Christmas let alone remember it. Toby was just over five and a half months old on Christmas day and I knew for him it would just be another day. He quite liked playing with our fibre optic Christmas tree but apart from that Toby had no idea anything was going on. And so I didn’t really see the point of doing anything to make his first Christmas ‘special’. Some people may think that’s a bit mean-spirited of me but I think it’s just that I’d rather save the fun stuff for when Toby is old enough to get excited about it.

We did make one concession to it being Toby’s first Christmas and that was to stay at home on Christmas day rather than go to my parents’ house like we usually do. That was a bit of a political decision too really – my in-laws usually go on holiday for Christmas so for the three years we have been together the hubby and I have always gone to my parents and there hasn’t been any worry about offending anyone. However, this year my mother-in-law is recovering from an operation on her neck and can’t travel so they were staying at home. My parents live in Blackpool and my in-laws in Manchester while we’re up here in Scotland so visiting everyone in one day just isn’t possible. By choosing to stay at home we didn’t have to decide which set of grandparents Toby would be with on his first Christmas morning. Instead we stayed with my parents on Boxing Day so we could see them and my brother and sister-in-law too and then we went to visit hubby’s parents for a few days after that which worked out well for everyone in the end.

I did buy a ‘My First Christmas’ bauble from Mamas and Papas but it does have the year on too so it’s a nice keepsake and something we can put on the tree year after year. We didn’t get Toby too many presents either. A couple of toys and books and some clothes. Seeing as Toby wouldn’t know what he was unwrapping (he did manage to help a bit with pulling the paper off though!) I didn’t tell the hubby any of the presents I’d bought and he got Toby something that I didn’t know about. That way at least someone got a nice surprise when the presents were opened. I don’t think I would have even bothered wrapping them this year if we had both known what was inside!

Playing the keyboard
Toby playing with his present from daddy

We still had a lovely Christmas day together and I got the chance to practice cooking my first Christmas dinner. But for Toby it was still a normal day. I did get him some new pyjamas for Christmas Eve but I didn’t bother with a Christmas Day outfit – he’s just moved into his 6-9 month clothes so there are lots of things he hasn’t worn yet. We managed to fit most of the day in around Toby’s usual routine pretty well though. And after weeks of waking up at least once during the night Toby gave us the best Christmas present he could – he slept from 6:30 pm on Christmas Eve until 8:30 am on Christmas Day without waking up at all! So then after we all got up and had our breakfasts we opened a few presents. Toby then went back to bed for his morning nap, we opened some more presents and I got started on the prep for dinner. After nap time we opened the rest of Toby’s presents, had lunch and a bit of a play then it was back to bed for Toby. The plan was to have our starter while he was still asleep but he woke up slightly earlier than planned. He was quite happy having a play on his baby gym while we ate though. Then we put in him in his new highchair while we had our main course and we gave Toby his first solid food to play with. We are planning on going down the baby led weaning route (more blog posts on that to come!) and although Toby isn’t quite six months yet we thought Christmas dinner might be a nice time to give him something to have a look at. So he played with a few carrot and parsnip sticks (although none made it into his mouth) while we ate our dinner. After that it was bed time for Toby and we eventually had our dessert (sticky toffee pudding – yummy!) at about half past eight.

Christmas dinner with baby
Christmas dinner!

So for us there was no disappointment, no anti-climax. Toby’s first Christmas was exactly as I expected it to be. It was a bit strange for me not to be with the rest of my family for only the second Christmas in my life, and I actually had a little bit of a cry in the evening because I realised I’d missed them, but overall we had a lovely time just the three of us. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing next year. The idea of going to my parents’ is actually quite tempting – at least then I might get a bit of a break. Although our Christmas day was great we still had to do all the things we do every day; nappy changes don’t stop for Christmas! I even had to do a nappy wash because we were going away the next day. And I had to cook Christmas dinner! At least at my mum and dad’s someone else would do the cooking and there would be other people to entertain Toby for a bit. I might even get my traditional Christmas afternoon nap myself! I know next year will be totally different anyway. Toby will be 18 months old and I’m sure he still won’t understand what Christmas is about but he might be able to open his own presents and maybe enjoy playing with some new toys – or the wrapping paper and boxes anyway!

If you had your first Christmas with your baby I really hope you managed to have a good one. If you want to read more about how babies’ first Christmases don’t always turn out how you planned then Donna has written a great post over at Redhead Babyled. And if your baby’s first Christmas wasn’t quite how you’d hoped then remember there are lots more Christmases still to come.

2013: A year in review Q&A


I was tagged by the lovely Donna at Redhead Babyled (Thanks Donna!) to complete this blogging Year in Review post as started by Kerry at Oh So Amelia. I’ve only been blogging here since October so I don’t have a huge number of posts to choose from for some of the questions but I’ll have a go!

There are just a few simple rules:
1. In your post, be sure to link back and thank the blogger that previously tagged you
2. Answer the questions below and tag at least 5 other bloggers and;
3. Include the badge in your post

So here goes!

1. Your top 5 new favourite blogs to read in 2013 

I only really started reading parenting blogs when Toby was born in July and I’m sure there are loads more out there waiting for me find them! These are the blogs I read every post on and that inspire me to carry on with my own blogging.

Redhead Babyled – I’m not saying this just because she tagged me, honest! I’m always impressed by the quality of Donna’s posts and I’m amazed at how she manages to blog so often – if I managed half as many posts I’d be happy!

The Laughing Owls – Probably the first parent blog I started reading. Becky is a fellow teacher and knitter – it’s great to read a blog of someone with similar interests to me.

Hurrah for Gin – Katie’s posts make me actually laugh out loud. And she’s very friendly on Twitter too.

Life With Munchers – I was amazed to find this blog hasn’t been going much longer than Toby Goes Bananas – it looks so professional! There are posts about lots of different things too which always makes for an interesting read.

Make Do & Push – I just think Hannah and her blog are cool! And I was really pleased when she chose me to feature on her ‘What’s in your changing bag?’ feature.

2. List Your 5 most read blog posts in 2013

Toby Goes Swimming

A breastfeeding story

Living with a reflux baby

In the news: Paid to breastfeed

Toby is 4 months old!

3. Name one blog you wish you had found sooner

All of them! Seriously. I wish I had started reading some of these blogs while I was still pregnant. There’s so much great advice and experience out there.

4. Your favourite blog post of 2013 

Silent Sunday: 17th November 2013 – I don’t have that many blog posts to choose from yet and I know it’s cheating a bit that I didn’t actually ‘write’ this one. I just love the picture though. Toby is concentrating so much on what his daddy is telling him!
5. What would you like to improve (if anything) on your blog next year?

I’d like to blog more regularly and try and build my readership. I’ve also started learning how to use the hubby’s DSLR so I’d like to have better photos on the blog too.

6. Name one blog you have a blog crush on

Just a Normal Mummy‘s posts are hilarious. I wish I could be so funny, but then it wouldn’t really be ‘me’ writing.

 7. How often do you post? 

I was trying to post three times a week but have been a bit slack over Christmas. I don’t have (or want) a strict blogging schedule but I would like to post a bit more regularly as (hopefully) the blog grows this year.

8. Share your first post of 2013

My first post of 2013 was the first post of this whole blog – Let’s start at the very beginning

9. Name one thing you would be doing if you weren’t typing this post right now.

Looking at Twitter on my phone (or playing Candy Crush Saga – I know, OK!)
10. What have you loved the most about blogging this year?

I’ve just loved getting Toby Goes Bananas off the ground and all the lovely bloggers and parents I’ve met on Twitter.

So there you go. 2013 has been pretty short for me in blogging terms. I can’t wait to get cracking with 2014 now!

I tag the following bloggers:

Emma and Alfie

Mum turned Mom

Daddy Space

Me, The Man & The Baby

Lou & Nate

2013 // It was a very good year

2013. What a bloody brilliant year it has been. I could ramble on for ages but instead I’m just going to give you a few bullet pointed highlights, because who doesn’t like bullet points? In fact after four months out of the classroom I’m itching to make a PowerPoint presentation but for now, bullet points will have to do!

  • At the start of 2013 I was just three months pregnant. We had our 12 week scan in the first week of January and started to let everyone know. It was lovely how pleased for us everyone was.
  • The start of January also saw the end of morning sickness and I started to enjoy being pregnant. For the first time in years I was happy to wear clothes that hugged my figure and I took the opportunity to eat what I fancied without feeling guilty about it. (In hindsight this wasn’t such a great idea but I bloody enjoyed it at the time!)
  • At our 20 week scan in March we found out we were expecting a boy – and then we managed to keep it secret from most people for the rest of the pregnancy.
  • At Easter I went on a one week Spanish immersion course in Malaga which was entirely paid for my EU funding. It was a lot of fun and it was a great help for my Spanish too.
  • I came home from Spain just in time to celebrate my first wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband.
  • The summer term at school was hard work as I got more and more pregnant and tried to work out how to teach while sitting down. Teenagers, it turns out, don’t really have a lot of sympathy for tired pregnant teachers.

2013 - the year of the pregnancy bump

  • I made it to the end of term though and started maternity leave at 37 weeks pregnant, 19 days before Toby was due.
  • And then a week and a half later the Chief made his appearance after an uneventful and speedy labour. As far as births go I think I had it pretty easy!
  • The next couple of months passed in a whirlwind of crying babies (and parents on occasion), sleepless nights and dirty nappies. Shell-shocked pretty much covers it.

2013 - the year we got a new baby

  • By about October I actually started to really enjoy having a baby and life settled into something of a routine. This probably coincided with Toby starting to smile and laugh and generally be a lot more fun to look after.
  • The last few months of the year have been amazing. Toby seems to do something new every day and as we head into 2014 we are starting a whole new phase including baby-led weaning. We’ve given Toby a few bits of food to play with but nothing has made it as far as his mouth yet. I don’t think it’ll be long though. I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings – I predict we’ll be seeing teeth, sitting unaided, moving (one way or another) and hopefully a return to sleeping through the night (I don’t want to jinx it but he’s managed over 12 hours undisturbed sleep the last three nights!).
  • And of course I can’t forget that the last three months of 2013 saw the start of this blog. I’m having a lot of fun writing it and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment. A big thank you too to all my new Twitter pals – I know I’ve not been at this long but I already feel like part of a community and I’m looking forward to getting to know more people (and maybe even meeting a few) in 2014.

And there you have it – my 2013 in a nutshell. I’ve had an absolutely amazing year and I’m so lucky to have shared it with my wonderful husband. It’s hard to believe I hadn’t even met him this time three years ago! He was an amazing support throughout my pregnancy – always there to rub my back or pull me up off the sofa. And since Toby was born he has shown me that he is just the best daddy ever. It melts my heart to see him and Toby  together, they love each other so much!

Happy dad and baby

I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for our little family. I’ve got a few plans of my own too but that’s for another blog post. So for now I will wish you all health and happiness for the New Year. And seeing as I am in Scotland after all – Happy Hogmanay.

Grandparents (The Ordinary Moments #7)

I’m linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy Me again this week for some more ‘Ordinary Moments’, or rather this week some ‘un-ordinary’ moments.

Grandparents - Grandma and Toby

Both sets of Toby’s grandparents live about 250 miles away, which means they don’t get to see him very often. I update Blipfoto with a picture every day and we do try and Skype but that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like for one reason or another. Last time we saw either lot of parents was in September, and as we decided to spend our first Christmas with Toby at home, my mum and dad came up to visit this weekend. It was lovely to see Toby playing with his grandma and grandad and even though he mustn’t remember them from last time he saw them he still gave them lots of big smiles and was happy for them to hold him. We’re actually going to see them again in a few days – we’re going to stay with them on Boxing Day because my brother and sister-in-law will be there and then we’re heading across to Manchester to see the hubby’s parents too.

I hope Toby starts to recognise his grandparents soon and gets to see plenty of them as he’s growing up – it should be easier in the few years time as our five year plan is to move back to the north-west, and then these ‘un-ordinary’ moments will hopefully become more ordinary.

Daddy, Toby and the Grandparents

mummy daddy me

Knitting Friday #4

Alright, before you say anything, I know it’s Saturday – but it is Christmas so I think you can forgive me!

So last week I posted pictures of the (almost) finished elf hat. And this week I actually finished it. I’ve added the pompom to the top and sewn in an inner fleece hat which serves the dual purpose of making it warmer and also keeping it on. I didn’t use any sort of pattern for the fleece, just cut a piece out and then shaped it by using pins worryingly close to Toby’s head!

Fleece lined hat

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out in the end though – and I’m sure you’ll agree my little elf looks very cute in his new hat.

Christmas elf hat

Becky over at The Laughing Owls has a Knitting Friday post too – Christmas Shopping has got in the way of her knitting a bit this week but she’s getting there with Little Owl’s jumper!

When will my baby sleep again?

All I want for Christmas…

When will this baby sleep again?

…is my happy, smiley, sleeping-through-the-night baby back. (Or his two front teeth!). Will my baby sleep through the night ever again?

It would seem Toby is teething and already I hate it. I know this is only the beginning, that once these teeth appear there will only be more to come. It’s just so horrible to watch him in pain and especially as these are the first teeth he has no idea what is happening to him. There has been a lot of dribbling and hand chewing for a while now but at the weekend the inconsolable crying started. And bless the little bear, he was trying to smile but then would just dissolve into tears again. We’ve given him Calpol and Nurofen, and teething gel. We’ve got a few teethers but he doesn’t seem interested in them at all (although I know his Nana has bought him a Sophie la Girafe for Christmas so we’ll see if that’s any more successful). He does like to chew on a muslin though so I make sure he’s always got one nearby. The teething seems to be affecting his appetite as well – after half a bottle he is shaking his head and pushing it away. Which of course then means he is hungry and waking up for a feed in the night, or just waking up crying because he’s in pain. It doesn’t help that whenever I try and give him medicine (even firing it into the back of his mouth with a syringe) he spits half of it back out again. And while we’re on the subject – why does Calpol have to be so bloody sticky!!

So anyway, my conclusion is that teething sucks! I just hope this first tooth (or teeth) shows itself soon and then we have a bit of a break before the next ones show up. If anyone has any miracle cures then please do share them and spread the Christmas cheer our way.