Love is. . .

Emily at My Petit Canard has started this new meme just in time for Valentine’s Day. The only rules are…there are no rules! All you need to do is write a post about what love means to you – it can be funny, serious, soppy…the choice is yours. You can read Emily’s original post here. I’m also doing something I don’t usually do, and that is to also use this post for The Prompt. I just haven’t had chance to write a new post this week and seeing as this one fits it seems a shame to miss a week.

This week’s prompt was another quote:

Happiness is anyone and anything at all, that’s loved by you. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

And here are my thoughts on the matter. What is love to me? (And it is love that brings happiness, above all else). Obviously I love my baby boy and I would do anything for him…even suck bogeys out of his nose several times a day and clean up his gruesome, stinky teething nappies. But that love is something organic, that comes from growing a baby for nine months and then giving birth to that baby who is a part of you. Love for another, who you meet as a adult and know nothing about, who you learn to love as you get to know one another, that’s a different kind of love.

  • Love is a husband who always lets me be in charge of the remote control.
  • Love is taking it turns to get up at 5 am with the teething baby.
  • Love is a husband who doesn’t mind staying at home with the baby so I can go and get my hair cut.
  • Love is a husband who knows when I turn my back to him that’s his cue to give my shoulders a massage.
  • Love is getting text messages every day just to check we’re doing OK.
  • Love is a husband who thinks I’m funny, and pretty, and lovely, and tells me every day.
  • Love is letting Toby grab and pull his beard because he finds it funny.
  • Love is cuddles on the sofa, knowing our little bear is sleeping peacefully upstairs.
  • Love is a husband who lies awake while I chat about our day when really he should be sleeping because he has to be up for work in six hours.
  • Love is a husband who is always there with a hug and a kiss whenever I need one
  • Love is a husband who holds me while I cry, even if he has no idea what I’m crying about.
  • Love is an awesome husband who also turned out to be a fantastic daddy.
  • Love is finding someone who just gets you.
  • Love is being a family.

Love is... the mr and me

I tag –




Operation shift the baby weight – three month update

Malteaser bunny

Another monthly update on my weight loss progress. After a fantastic start to the month when I did Exante Diet for a week and lost 6lbs things haven’t been going particularly well on the healthy eating and weight loss front. I know there aren’t any excuses but this miserable weather has really not been helping matters. I’m still planning our meals every week which is brilliant. It saves me having to think what to cook every night, and it has helped reduce our food shopping bills this month. However, I have had a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Malteaser Bunnies and have just been eating far too much chocolate. I need to refocus and get back on track next month. I was doing so well before Christmas, it would be stupid to let that go to waste now. So the plan for the next month – get back to tracking calories on My Fitness Pal and cut down on the chocolate!

So time for the stats: (Figures in brackets are my original starting weights and measurements):

Weight: 12st 11lb (13st 8lb) – lost 11lb

Waist: 33.5 inches (37 inches) – lost 3.5 inches

Hips: 43 inches (45.5 inches) – lost 2.5 inches

Bust: 40 inches (42 inches) – lost 2 inch

I’m not overly pleased with this but things are still moving in the right direction. So, to next month. Onwards and upwards!

The mummy tag

Mummy and son

Lucinda at Teacher2Mummy was kind enough to tag me in this mummy meme and I know it’s always nice to find out a bit more about the person behind the blog so without further ado…

1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum, or a Working Mum?
I’m currently on maternity leave from my job as a secondary school teacher. All being well I will be going back to work in August.
2. Would you have it any other way?
Before Toby was born I always thought that I would love to stay at home with him and not have to go back to work. Although I love spending time with him now, I’m actually looking forward to going back to work! I think having time away from teaching has actually made me realise how much I enjoy it. Ideally I’d like to go back part time but I think I might end up going back full time for a year for a variety of reasons.
3. Do you co-sleep?
No. When Toby was really little we sometimes had the odd nap together but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable having him in bed with both me and the hubby. And now on the odd occasion he wakes up early and I bring him in to our bed in the hope of getting a bit more sleep he just wants to wriggle and punch in the face!
4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?
Muslins! We use loads of them. For general wiping/mopping up but also as bibs and mostly for Toby to chew on.
5. How many kids do you plan on having?
Two. I have a brother who is exactly two years older than me and we got on great when we were kids (and still do). I’ve always said I would like a boy and girl and to have them two years apart…but that does mean getting pregnant again scarily soon!
6. Date nights? How many do you have per month?
Ha! We have only been out together without Toby twice since he was born. It’s quite hard not having any family close by – it means there’s a distinct shortage of willing babysitters. My mum is coming up in a couple of weeks though so we’re going to leave her in charge while we go to the cinema and try not to fall asleep.
7. Your child’s favourite show?
He doesn’t have one. He loves watching the TV but he just watches whatever we’re watching. I haven’t started showing him children’s TV yet.
8. Name one thing you bought before you had the baby and never ended up using?
I can’t really think of anything. We had lots of clothes that he only wore a few times before growing out of.
9. Your child’s favourite food?
He’s only just started eating solids but so far toast seems to go down well, as does fromage frais – we’ve not tried them together yet though!
10. How many cars does your family have?
Just the one.
11. Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now?
I put on about three stone during pregnancy. I’ve lost about a stone of that, so two more to go. Which reminds me, I really must write another weight loss update post soon.
12. Dream holiday with your kids?
We’re hoping to go camping in France this summer. That was what we did for all my family holidays growing up and I absolutely loved it. And I think when we have older kids we’d like to take them skiing. (I quite fancy going to Disneyland and Universal Studios in Florida but I think the hubby might take a bit of convincing!)
13. Dream holiday without your kids?
There are so many places I’d love to go. I’ve been on two American road trips – one on my own to San Francisco, LA, Arizona, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, the other was our honeymoon to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC and all down the east coast. I absolutely love America and really want to do another road trip round the Deep South; New Orleans, Nashville, Memphis… But then I’d also really love to go to Australia and New Zealand.
14. How has your life changed since having kids?
I don’t think you can really imagine how much life will change, no matter how much you read or how much you think about it, until you actually have kids. I miss some of the freedom of our life before Toby, everything takes much more planning now! Having total responsibility for a tiny human being is a bit overwhelming at times but I think I’m finally starting to get used to it.
15. Finish the sentence “It makes heart melt when…”
Toby looks at me and gives me a massive gummy grin.
16. Where do you shop for your kids?
Mostly supermarkets! Usually Tesco or Asda. I did get quite a lot of things in John Lewis in the January sales too. There are so many lovely baby clothes out there but I just can’t justify spending a lot of money on things that only last a few months. Toby’s clothes are all getting a lot of use though. My friend has twins three months younger than Toby so all his clothes go to them.
17. Favourite make-up and skincare products?
I hardly ever wear make up. My skin is really dry so I tend to just use E45 on my body. I do like Clinque Moisture Surge for my face but it’s quite expensive so I always get my mum to buy it for Christmas and birthdays.
18. Huggies or Pampers?
Neither! We are cloth bummed all the way. We did use Pampers for the first six weeks or so after Toby was born though. And we use Huggies Little Swimmers in the pool.
19. Have you always wanted kids?
When I was younger I just always sort of assumed I would have kids. But then when I got to 32 and I’d been single for eight years I started to think maybe it wouldn’t happen. But then I met the hubby and the rest is history!
20. Best part of being a mum?
Watching this tiny human, who I grew in my tummy, develop and learn new things every day. I love seeing the concentration on his face when he’s trying to figure something out.
So that’s me, now it’s your turn… It’s seems loads of people have done this tag already so I’m not going to tag anyone specifically – if you want to do it just grab the questions and away you go.

Toby is seven months old

Seven months old and standing

Yep. It’s that time again! Another month has gone by and Toby is now seven months old, so what’s he been up to since his last update?

Well, there have been quite a few developments since last month. Toby now weighs 18lb 11oz  and is already wearing 9-12 month sleepsuits and vests! Weight-wise he has gone from being in the 9th centile when he was born to now being in the 50th. And his height is still in the 91st centile! He’s almost grown out of his first car seat now so we’ll be having to buy a new one in the next few weeks.

After his random, only being able to sit up at Baby Sensory, Toby can now sit pretty well unsupported. He still topples over sometimes if he reaches for something but most of the time he can stay upright. He still prefers to be on his tummy though and is really pushing himself up on his arms and trying to get up on his knees too. He has started shuffling himself backwards sometimes now too – especially when I am trying to change his nappy when he rolls onto his tummy then pushes himself backwards off the changing mat (we’ve been changing him on the floor for quite a while now!). He can now roll to either side to get on his front, and roll back again! I wrote in last month’s update how he’d learnt to roll onto his tummy but would shout when he wanted to roll back again but it only took about another week before he worked out how to do it himself. Toby is also now able to stand up holding onto the furniture, but only if I put him there. He has started trying to pull himself up a bit on his cot too – I don’t think it will be long before we have to lower it.

We have teeth! Well, teething symptoms have ramped up again this week. It feels like both bottom teeth have just about broken the gum, although it’s hard to really see anything at the moment. Luckily teething hadn’t bothered Toby too much (until yesterday!). We’ve had lots and lots of dribbling, lots of chewing things, red cheeks and a few very nasty dirty nappies and then yesterday (typically while I was at work for the day and daddy was in charge) Toby was really, really grumpy – he didn’t want to sleep, he cried if the hubby tried to put him down and it was generally a very miserable day for them both. I’m hoping that now they have broken the gum things might ease off a little bit. Fingers crossed eh?

Weaning is going reasonably well too, although Toby still doesn’t seem that interested in food. I wrote a guest post about our first few weeks of baby-led weaning on Redhead Babyled a few weeks ago. Since then Toby has tried lots of different things. He has started trying to get things in his mouth occasionally but mostly he only eats if we hold the food for him. He does seem to like trying to feed himself with a spoon though – so far porridge and fromage frais have been favourites. With these things I give him his own spoon to try and use himself and feed him a bit with another spoon which seems to work pretty well for us. We’re just going to continue offering Toby lots of different foods and combine giving him a chance to play with his food and feed himself along with holding things for him so he can eat that way. I’m sure he’ll figure out how to get things in his mouth himself soon enough. His manual dexterity is improving all the time and he has almost worked out his pincer grip now.

I think that’s about it for this month. I’m absolutely loving this phase of babyhood – it’s just awesome seeing Toby learn new things and become more and more like a little boy every day.

Desert Island Discs

So the lovely Aby from You Baby Me Mummy tagged me to do this ages ago. I hadn’t forgotten about it but I’ve only just managed to find the time to write it! All I needed to do was come up with my eight favourite songs – but that is harder than you might first imagine.

Although I like music, and I love a good sing-song, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever really been ‘in to music’. I don’t really have a favourite band or even a favourite style of music. So, here, as they say, in no particular order, are my eight favourite songs (or my eight favourite songs for today anyway, they do have a habit of changing sometimes!)

1. All I want is you // Barry Louis Polisar

I love this song. It’s from the Juno soundtrack (Juno is a great film – you should watch it if you haven’t already seen it). It just makes me feel happy every time I hear it. This is the song we walked danced out of the room to after we got married. It was hard to pick a song from this soundtrack – I really like them all. Another that almost made the list was ‘Tire Swing’ by Kimya Dawson as this was the song that gave me the idea for Toby’s name. It has a lyric in it: ‘I’ve never met a Toby that I didn’t like’. I was listening to it on the way home from work one day and just thought ‘yep, Toby it is!’

2. Feeling good // Nina Simone

This is such a great song. Nina Simone’s voice is amazing. And this is the song I walked down the aisle to. It was the only part of the wedding (apart from my dress of course) that I kept secret from my future husband. We let the first part of the song play until ‘….it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good…’ and then I walked in with my dad to the ‘du-dum, du-dum, du-dum’ bit of the tune. I loved it!

3. Hold up a light // Take That

I’m a massive Take That fan. I loved them the first time round (although a bit in secret because I was 15 and it wasn’t really cool) but never got to see them live. So when they got back together me and my friend Claire decided to go to the reunion tour and we’ve been to every tour since. I just love them. To be honest I could have just filled this list with Take That songs but that wouldn’t be very interesting. I chose this one because it brings back good memories of dancing and singing along when we saw the Circus tour. And because Mark has the lead vocal and he’s my favourite! This stripped-back update of Hold Up A Light,  with Mark Owen alongside pupils from Grasmere Primary in North London has be released as a fundraiser. Everyone involved in the track’s, and associated video and artwork, creation has given their time for free. All profits are being split evenly between the Salisbury Hospice Charity, and the Stoke Newington school’s FROGS appeal to build an outdoor play space.

4. Over the rainbow/ What a wonderful world  // Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

I love musicals and have appeared in lots of them myself. I was in The Wizard of Oz a few years ago and Somewhere Over the Rainbow has always been one of my favourite songs – I often sing it to Toby before I put him down to sleep. I also play the ukulele a bit (although I’m out of practice at the moment) and so I love this version of Over the Rainbow and What a wonderful world (which is also a great song). We had this at our wedding too, while we signed the register.

5. You grew on me // Tim Minchin

I was a massive Tim Minchin fan from the days he was still playing 80 seat rooms, before he hit the real big time. I used to travel all over the country to see him and made some really good friends among his fans. There were a few of us who he knew and we would always hang around after gigs to speak to him. But then he got really famous and started playing big venues and making TV shows and stuff so I’ve not seen him for a while. Anyway, he’s another one that I could just fill this list with his songs but I chose this one because when I first met my husband our relationship grew out of Twitter DMs and emails while I was on an American road trip. I had only met him once in person and before we met up again two months later I already knew I was in love with him! I remember one day, before we met up again in real life, sending him a link to this song and just saying ‘this is what I wanted to say’. And it always makes him cry! We were going to have it as the first dance at our wedding but chickened out in the end because we didn’t think people would ‘get’ it.

6. When I grow up  // from Matilda the musical

Now actually this is another Tim Minchin song – he wrote all the music and lyrics to Matilda the musical. I have seen it twice and have the soundtrack on my phone. If you ever get the chance to see it you really should. It was hard to choose one song from a musical but this one is so joyous and uplifting I had to share it.

7. Jolene // Dolly Parton

I love a bit of country music. I’d love to visit Nashville one day. And what more can I say – it’s Dolly isn’t it.

8. Ghosts // Laura Marling

Again, I could have chosen any number of Laura Marling songs. I saw her live at Latitude a few years ago and she was great live too. This is from my favourite album of hers ‘Alas I cannot swim’.

So there we go. There are so many amazing songs that I love that haven’t made it onto this list. I love almost all The Beatles songs (apart from Ob-la-di, ob-la-da), Simon and Garfunkel are another favourite. I love all the songs from films like Grease and Dirty Dancing, and loads of musicals; Singin’ in the Rain and Chicago are probably top of that list. And lastly a few less well known acts that didn’t make it; a great band called 6 Day Riot and a singer/songwriter called Gavin Osborn who is just brilliant. If you have a chance you should check them out. (Oh, and Jack Johnson, and Johnny Cash, and Kate Rusby, and Norah Jones, and and and…there’s just too many!)

Thanks Aby for tagging me – sorry it’s taken so long! If you’ve read this and you fancy writing your own Desert Island Discs then please do. I am also going to tag Donna at Redhead Babyled, Chauntelle at Seychelles Mama and Jo at Not a Frumpy Mum.

Living Arrows 6/52

It’s week six in the I Heart Snapping Living Arrows project. I’m really enjoying using the big camera more and hopefully my photos are getting a bit better.

This week we had one day of sunshine and it happened to coincide with a day that Toby had woken up early from his morning nap, so we decided to go out for a walk – nowhere exciting, just round the houses where we live. Toby was giving it big yawns so I put the SnoozeShade on the buggy but when I peaked in to see if he had fallen asleep he was still wide eyed. So I took this picture through the zip hole!

Living Arrows 6_52

The garden centre (The Ordinary Moments #13)

I love linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments. It’s nice to take a few minutes every week just to appreciate the little things that otherwise might pass us by.

Coffee and cake

This week we had our monthly visit to the local garden centre for coffee and cake. For £12 a year you can be come a member of the Dobbies Garden Club. With that you get 10% off all plants and bulbs, earn reward points, and, the most important part, you get vouchers for two free teas or coffees every month. The best part about this, which is already a pretty good deal; we paid for our membership with £4 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers! I really do love a bargain.

And so once a month we go to Dobbies, we use our vouchers for free drinks and we treat ourselves to a cake. This is the second year we’ve had membership of the Garden Club but since Toby was born he’s been coming along too. In fact, his very first trip out after he was born (other than a walk round the block) was a visit to Dobbies. It really is an ordinary moment for him.

They had these really cool garden sculptures which we’ve never seen before. I’d love one – if we had a spare £150 or so! Toby wasn’t that impressed though.

Garden sculptures

mummy daddy me

Toby doesn’t like swimming anymore

We started going to Turtle Tots baby swimming classes when Toby was just over 3 months old. He’s never really seemed to love it but up until Christmas he didn’t have any problems in the pool and only ever cried for a couple of seconds, if at all. But since we went back, after a few weeks off over the holidays, he suddenly seems to hate it.

For the last three weeks Toby has spent at least part of each lesson crying. Sometimes it’s just a bit of sticking out of the lip and wimpering, but sometimes it’s full on screaming and it breaks my heart! This week he even had me crying too because he sounded so upset. I think getting Toby used to the water, and hopefully swimming while he is still very young is a fantastic idea but I’m not sure I can keep taking him when there is something about it which is clearly upsetting him. This week he started crying before we even got in the pool.

There are any number of things that might be wrong with him. First of all, the lesson is at 9:30 am a twenty-five minute drive away. Normally, Toby gets up about 8:30 am, has a bottle, a bit of a play, then another bottle and back in bed by 10 am at the latest. On swimming days I have to get him up early, he only has one bottle and (unless he has a quick nap in the car) he doesn’t get his morning sleep until after swimming is finished. The second problem could then also be that he is hungry – he’s normally had one and a half to two bottles within a couple of hours of being awake. Although, having said that he will never take a bottle straight after swimming so I don’t think he’s that hungry. In fact he’s always fine again as soon as we get out of the pool. So the last thing I can think of, and I’m hoping it’s this because it’s more easily fixed, is that he is feeling the cold. I don’t know why this would be bothering him more now than it did before Christmas, maybe the pool is a bit colder than it was. Anyway, he already uses a BabyWrap which I have mentioned before but I have now ordered a Warm in One from Splash About which is a full wetsuit with arms and legs. It’s fleece lined too so if he is cold then hopefully this will help. If not then my only other plan is to try and move to a class at a different time and see if that helps.

I don’t think I can go through many more weeks of my baby crying and screaming because of something I am making him do. I know I shouldn’t really blame myself; my husband has been great and tried to make me feel better by pointing out that Toby cries when I put his pyjamas on too, but that’s something that has to be done. I don’t have to take him swimming. Our Turtle Tots instructor has been great too, telling me that lots of babies have wobbles and Toby will get back into the swing of it. I hope so. I really don’t want to stop swimming lessons with Toby so if anyone else has any suggestions of what the problem might be and how we can fix it then please do let me know. Fingers crossed the new wetsuit does the trick and I’ll be sure to let you know how we get on. We have an underwater photo shoot booked for the end of March so I hope we get it figured out by then and Toby starts to enjoy his swimming again!

Happy after swimming