Thursday, 10 September 2020

Which hats are you?

A blonde woman with a black hat in the woods

We all have different sides to our personality, right?

It’s like having lots of hats for different occasions, sometimes you have to wear your mum hat, sometimes you want to put your creative hat on, sometimes it’ll be an ultra-femme hat for when you’re feeling all womanly etc.

For me, I have 5-6 hats, and each one is often battling the other.

The tom-boy hat

This one likes gaming, being ‘one of the lads’, drinking beer, listening to metal and watching UFC. This is a pretty strong side of me and one that started when I was becoming a teenager. I used to live in jeans and mens shirts when I was a young teen. Proper tom-boy. I wasn’t into makeup etc. I liked listening to Nirvana and Guns n Roses, and loved gaming. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I really started feeling a little more feminine. I pretty much swapped my mens shirts for a cute vest top, wearing an open Slipknot shirt over it, and baggies. Proper mosher.

The Elle Woods hat

I can also be pink and fluffy, ultra girly. Loving designer handbags, getting my nails done, buying nice makeup and feeling womanly, maybe even sexy sometimes. Years ago in my late twenties this was a bigger part of me, it’s waned in recent years to make way for the mum hat, which isn’t the most exciting hat, but does what it needs to.

The Mum hat

The most practical of them all and the one I wear the most. I imagine the hat much like a donkey with saddle bags carrying everything we could possibly need. This is the me that feeds the kids, cleans the house, washes up, does the laundry, stops the kids from fighting, makes the snacks, signs the School permission slips, tucks the kids into bed, reads them stories, plans the food shop, kisses their boo boos, cradles them when they're sad or crying, does the food shop, runs the errands etc etc. Over the years, this hat is probably the most worn, because it’s me every day all day. It’s a hat that has me makeup-less and in a permanent mum-bun and day’s old clothes with random bits of playdoh stuck to it. A very practical hat, but much needed.

The Crafter hat

One of my favourites this one. I have a lot of hobbies, mostly creative ones like art, lino printing, mosaics, and most prominently, crochet. I have this hat on most evenings for a couple hrs. But it’s a constant battle of which hobby to spend time on. I’d love to spend time on them all, but given the amount of yarn I have, it’s usually crochet that wins. This hat I used to wear a lot more, before kids, now it’s a bit old and dusty, but still loves being worn.

The Hippy hat

This is a hat I cannot ignore. Deep inside my soul, I’m such a complete hippy. I’m forever drawn to hippy aesthetics with interior design and clothing. I’m a gentle parent (not saying that’s a hippy thing, but it’s more hippy than being an authoritative parent, which I’m not). I love mindfulness and meditation and have done for years. I’m passionate about normalising natural term breastfeeding. In my heart of hearts, this is who I am.

The Pagan hat

This hat is pointy, and is adorned with the 5 elements, with mother nature, sage wraps, pentagrams and with owning our mistakes, not blaming others for things we have done. This hat used to be worn a lot when I was in my twenties. It’s very dusty now, but still there. It’s not a hat I tell people I have very often, it’s a quiet background hat. It’s a love of mother nature hat.

I figure we all wear our versions of these hats, and our personalities are in a constant flux over which one you'll wear each day.

What hats do you wear?

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

What has lockdown meant to you?

A little boy in the woods with his daddy and little brother

What a weird time it's been, right?

Everyone has had different experiences of this pandemic, no two truly the same. We’ve all had to go into full survival mode, doing what it takes to keep our families safe, and get through this.

Fairly often Squidge looks at me and says “Mummy, lockdown has been hard” and with his eyes shrink-wrapped in tears (thanks Fight Club for that amazing line) he waits for my response.

I used to reply with “Yes my lovely, it’s been really hard” and I scoop him up and give him lots of cuddles, because I know he’s really feeling how difficult this situation has been. We’ve really aired on the side of caution, we didn’t go on daily walks (we live on a busy main road), we didn’t go to the beach every weekend since lockdown eased, we haven’t been on a stay-cation. We’ve played it safe, because it still feels very unsafe out there and we want to protect ourselves and loved ones.

He’s had to see some of his friends have the summer of their lives, with parents who were furloughed, or able to spend all day with them, go to the beach lots, go away on lots of trips like camping, centreparks etc. We haven’t done any of that. Two weeks ago we took them to a quiet beach, as it started to fill up at lunch time we left. The holiday we did have booked, for Easter, was cancelled and re-booked for next year. And once we went to our favourite National Trust place (Dyffryn Gardens), keeping social distance and remaining outside.

It’s been 6 months of house and garden for our little ones. Both the hubby and I have worked full time through this and for the most part, with no childcare. It’s only been since we were able to form a bubble with another household that the kids were able to spend one day a week with their grandparents.

Do I feel guilty about losing such a precious summer? Of course, but I’m also glad we’ve managed to stay safe. But despite this easily being the hardest time of my life, I’ll be eternally grateful that I’ve managed to spend so much time with the kids.

Now when Squidge looks at me, ready to cry and saying the words “Mummy, lockdown has been hard”, I reply saying “Yes darling, it really has, but so many wonderful things have happened, we’ve been so lucky”. I go on to explain that we haven’t lost any loved ones to COVID-19, both me and Daddy have kept our jobs, that we have a lovely home, that they’ve had wonderful weather for the most part, that we’ve kept food on the table, they’ve had a refresh of their toys, and most importantly, that we’ve got to spend so much time together. Yes, it’s been hard, but when we look back on this time, I want us to remember how lucky we were, not how incredibly hard this has been.

And that’s not to say his feelings aren’t valid, they absolutely are. They’re acknowledged and addressed, but I think trying to shift the focus to the silver linings and not dwell on what’s been is also important. Squidge and I are very similar, we’re both empaths, we both feel emotions strongly and wear our hearts on our sleeves. Feeling like that and thinking about how hard things have been does nothing for our mental health. Through my own experiences I’ve found trying to find the silver lining really helps to keep perspective.

One thing we do every day that I really love, is at dinner we sit around the table and I start by asking Squidge what he’s grateful for today. He usually reels off a list of good things that have happened, even when we haven’t done anything, he’ll always find something. Then I ask Dot, he often says the same as Squidge, sometimes adds something. Then I ask Daddy (he’s usually thankful to me for cooking everything and the boys being good) 😊 Then it’s my turn. I love how we round off the day talking about the things we’re grateful for, it brings the day to a positive end.

However lockdown has been for you, you’ve done amazing. We’ve never been through anything like this, and hopefully won’t ever again. Big warm hugs coming you’re way if you’re still struggling, things will get better x

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Breastfeeding a 3 year old

An image of a mother breastfeeding her toddler

I have to say, these aren't words I ever expected to write. When I was pregnant with Dot, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, especially as I never managed it with Squidge. 

Initially, my goal for breastfeeding was to reach six months. To feed for a year felt like a bit of a pipe dream, but that would have been wonderful. I had friends who had toddlers they were breastfeeding, and I was one of those people who thought it was odd. Breastfeeding a two or three year old, hmm, not for me.

Yet here we are, and I'm breastfeeding a three year old. Does it feel weird? Not at all. Was it what I'd planned? Nope, but I'm rolling with it. I do feel like if lockdown hadn't happened he'd have weaned by now. He'd started to drop some of his feeds, but then we were all locked in a house together and he started feeding like a newborn again.

People often ask me if I'm going to stop soon. "I'd like to" I say, but in reality I know it won't be soon. He's got lots of big changes coming up and I don't want to take his one comfort away from him. He's starting School in just a couple days, in a couple/few weeks he'll be moving out of his cot and our room into Squidge's bedroom. Maybe once those changes have happened we'll talk about winding down. But for now in this crazy time, I'm happy to be one safe place for him to find comfort and solace.

I only wish more mums fed through to toddlerhood (and in public), normalising this beautiful act.

If you're reading this, and have breastfed, I'd love to know how long you fed for in the comments. However long your journey was, be it three days or three years, you have done something utterly amazing and you should be proud of every moment of it.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Working from home and how we're homeschooling

Counting with Numicon

For what it’s worth, I am by no means any expert on this. I’ve never homeschooled before, and don’t profess to now either. I have a five year old child and he’s been given work by the school to do during the time that they’re off. I also work 32 hours a week from home, and hubby works just under 40.

We’re a few weeks into this now, and we’re finding a little bit of a rhythm. Some days are better than others, but they days that are best, we’ve found, look something like this:

7:30 am – Kids up, give them breakfast
8:00 am – Cartoons
8:30 am – Get kids dressed
9:00 am – School work starts around now, and until 10am (read more below on the kinds of activities he does)
10:00 am – Kids may play in the garden if they like, or other toys etc
12:00 pm – Lunch
1:00 pm – More school work (see examples below)
2:00 pm onwards – free play

We’ve tried to keep his activities diverse, and don’t put too much pressure on him to complete them. He’s only little, and his wellbeing is number 1. Sometimes he’ll do the full hour, sometimes it’s just 10-15 mins, we take his lead with gentle encouragement. For example, yesterday he didn’t do any school work, it was a difficult day. But last week one day he spent a straight 1.5 hrs reading, which was completely his choice.

Writing with his Julia Donaldson songbirds book

Here’s some of the activities he’s done:

* Work from the books his school gave him (reading, writing, maths)
* Sorting out images to match with words and pictures
* Sorting colours and shapes (i.e. a box of plastic animals into the right plates, or grouping baby and adult animals, playing farming games like ‘Veggie Farm’)
* Exploring educational maps on Minecraft (like the human eye)
* Joe Wicks workout
* Cosmic kids yoga
* Finding mathematic shapes in his toys (cuboid etc)
* School educational apps like Sumdog and Purple Mash
* Reading books in both Welsh, and English
* Watching kids programmes in Welsh on S4C
* Listened to kids audio books
* Crafts – like making rainbows, making a cardboard train, decorating paper easter eggs etc
* Cooking – we created a ‘family soup’ where we all chopped up veggies to make a yummy soup
* Life skills – he wanted to help around the house, so he’s helped with washing up and mopping the floors etc

Again though, our goal through this pandemic is to try and get him through it as emotionally un-scarred as possible, that’s really important to us. We have found that having a couple simple rules has really helped, like he can go in the garden to play each morning but only after completing a school task. Some mornings he just won’t, and we leave it at that – I feel like if he’s not in the right frame of mind, he probably won’t get much out of the task anyway. It’s balanced by other times he wants to spend longer doing things, so its all good.

Me working while the kids do school work behind me

As for the work side of it... I'm still trying to find that balance. I'm pretty much managing to do my 32 hrs a week, but at what cost I'm still not sure yet. It's certainly taking its toll mentally trying to do all of this, it's by far the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. If I could work fewer hours and get paid the same I would, but that's not possible, so I somehow have to keep plodding on for as long as it takes, giving everything to both, and hoping that I don't fall apart in the process.

You cannot underestimate the strain this puts on your mental health. I've relised it's not possible to be a good mummy, and good worker (i.e. putting your hours in) while doing it all from home and both full time. So go easy on yourself, advice I need to take myself.


Wednesday, 8 April 2020

I've lost a bit of weight...

Banner image with illustrated fruit saying 'Weight loss update'

Last Easter (2019) I developed really achy hips. The more I walked, the more they’d hurt, eventually I’d need to stop and rest as they were causing a lot of pain. I also couldn’t sit with my legs up on the sofa next to me, as the rotation of the hips hurt too much. Without feeling particularly motivated, I thought I should probably try and lose some weight, as that would probably help.

I’d had a flyer that a new slimming world group had started up at weekends at my sons school, perfect. Off I went one Saturday morning, half asleep, and enrolled. It was very scary. This wasn’t my first time joining, it was my 4th. The first time I’d lost just over 3.5 stone about 10+ years ago, then I did it online twice, with absolutely no success.

Our group leader, Emma. Well she’s a bit bonkers, in a good way. She’s great and keeps us accountable and on-track. Then there’s the members, some more bonkers than Emma. I’ve made some friends there, which never happened at previous groups. They're a great crowd, I really do love my Saturday morning group :)

Progress photos of me showing my weight loss
Left (before the loss), Middle (now), Right (after 4 stone loss, still a long way to go!)

I’ve found motivation harder than ever this time, and each week struggle (usually around Weds/Thurs). The first time I did Slimming World I was incredibly motivated and didn’t waiver until I got to about 3.5 stone loss, and barely lost any more, then I stopped going and put it all back on. This time, and I think it’s because I didn’t have crazy motivation when I joined, it’s a weekly struggle, but one I’m no-less committed to. 

I certainly find it more challenging than many thanks to the diet restrictions:

No dairy (Dot’s allergy – I have to exclude due to breastfeeding)
No soya (Dot’s allergy – I have to exclude due to breastfeeding)
No banana (my allergy)
No fresh or tinned tomatoes (my allergy)
No meat (my preference)
White onions (my allergy)

But somehow I’m muddling through, mostly making it on red onions and copious amounts of mushrooms with a bit of Oatly crème fraiche. 

So far, 8 months in, I’ve lost 4 stone. I’ve dropped 3-4 sizes in tops, and 1-2 sizes in jeans, and 3 sizes in dresses. I can cross my legs again while sitting down (on a sofa at least) and have lots more energy when I’m out and about. My hips are a little better, but not dramatically. But still, I’ll take that improvement! But really speaking, this is just the start of my journey, I still have a very long way to go and need to lose a lot more before I’m any semblance of healthy in terms of my weight. I don’t have a goal set, I figured I’d know when I get close.

I’ll start sharing some of the recipes I’ve been using too, as well as some of my own creations.


Monday, 6 April 2020

It's been a long time

Me taking a selfie in the woods with my hood up

It's been a long old time since I updated this blog, but in recent weeks I've really felt the urge to start writing again.

Why this blog and not Makeup-Pixi3 just doesn't really fit who I am now. I barely ever wear makeup for starters, and I want the freedom to talk about more than just beauty and mummy stuff. So here I am, ready to write again. I'll kick off with a little life update to bring you up to speed. I can see the last update I wrote was a Christmas post from 3 years ago. Well a fair bit has happened since then!

Dot is now just over 2.5 years old. I never envisioned I'd say this, but we're still breastfeeding. I somehow never expected to be breastfeeding a toddler, and a toddler past the age of 2, but here we are. He feeds to sleep about 8pm, usually pretty quickly as he's dropped his day nap now. Then he often wakes 1-2 times in the night for a feed, if it's after 4am I'll pop him in bed with us to feed and we'll snuggle and sleep until it's time to get up. Then he likes a feed first thing. And now that we're in lockdown, he asks countless times during the day for feeds too - most of the time I can distract him with a cup of almond milk but sometimes he just needs the comfort, and that's ok.

Now to Squidge. He's 5.5 now, he's a smart, sassy and witty little boy. He's adorable and makes us laugh daily. When he's upset, he screams with every ounce of breath in his body, often much to our horror. He's doing well with his school work, being one of the top readers in his class (in Welsh) and his writing and maths is coming along really well too. Don't even ask about home schooling, I'll write a whole separate post on that.

Hubby and I are still happily married, this December (2020) it'll be 12 years married and 19 years together, absolutely bonkers. Matilda our cat is still going strong, she'll be 15 in November.

Coronavirus - so far with this we've been lucky, and none of our family have been affected by it. Many of us might have had it, mildly, but all in all we're good. I know to count my blessings though, because situations can change quickly, but for now, we're one of the lucky ones.

Despite not actively blogging in a while (about a year in total), I've still been updating Instagram daily, mostly just stories.

Well, that's it for now. I have a few posts in mind I'd like to write, I'll do an update on Dot's dairy and soya allergy as he still has that, and some posts around what we're doing with home schooling etc. Ooh and I have a couple renovation posts to do too, that'll be nice. Oh and my weight-loss as well, I've lost 4 stone on Slimming World since August 2019 - I'll write up some posts about that too.
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