Thursday, 28 July 2016

What the blog?

It feels like a hundred years ago that I had Archie but sometimes I really can't believe I have a seven year old already, and I still feel like some part of me just stopped when I had him at 22.

I think it feels like such a long time ago because a lot has changed since I had him. For a start the blogging community has come on leaps and bounds in the last seven years and it seems almost a requirement for new mums to document their journey to parenthood by way of  a blog or Facebook page. I can just picture each Bounty pack coming with a 'how to blog about your baby' guide. (Do they even give out Bounty packs any more?!)

In my day (ha!) I wasn't even aware of parenting blogs. If I wanted to know something I headed to Netmums and desperately scoured forums for answers to my questions or someone to relate to. I think it's really fantastic how there's so much more for new mums (and all parents actually) out here in the Blogosphere. Mums and dads from all walks of life share their experiences online and it's great to see how others do and feel about things.

I can't help feeling a bit regretful that I didn't document my journey with Archie more clearly. I still  have my old, abandoned and deactivated Facebook account to look back on. I deleted it a couple of years ago when I felt weird about loads of people I hardly knew anymore seeing pictures of me, my life, my family. I keep it there and secretly log in from time to time to rediscover all my old posts as I navigated my way through new mum-hood. And single mum-hood. It doesn't feel like enough though. I feel sort of guilty that I haven't kept a diary or a blog with more of my thoughts and feelings about the whole parenting thing, especially as I have found it so tough. Perhaps I didn't want to share too much or be disloyal to my precious, beautiful baby boy. My hardships weren't because of gaining him, they were about feeling I'd lost me. I didn't want him to one day read them and think he made me unhappy, because he didn't.

Apart from being a parent to Archie, there are other things in my life that I feel bad about not documenting better. Even now I am going through quite an emotional time, wondering if and when I will ever have another baby. We want one, but it's not happening. Should I write about it? Does it feel ok? Not sure. I also started a degree last year which I should probably talk about more. Being a mum and a wife and working full time is HARD WORK - will I want to look back on these times? Will it help me to get through if I write about them? Then there's our move to Kent which I rarely talk about and it was (and still is) bloody hard living hours away from friends and family. Would it help me to share the homesickness, the regret, the joys? I don't know... 

I think what I am getting at is I seem to have a reluctance to share anything on here that I might later regret. Does every blogger feel this? What's the point in keeping a blog if it doesn't actually share anything genuinely me? Does anyone care about my recipe or crochet posts? Doubt it. Do I really want to post about that stuff? Not really - I'd rather tell you how I ate 6 bags of crisps coz I felt like an ugly piece of shit only to realise life is worth living because Archie drew me a picture of a mildly perturbed reindeer. 

Mum-hood is confusing. Life is shitty and confusing too. Blogging is weird and confusing.

Lots of love, 
Amy xxx

Monday, 18 July 2016

Crochet, babies and broodiness...

I have been thoroughly enjoying my summer off uni so far and I don't want it to end. We've been camping three times and have lots planned for the summer holidays, like friends visiting and a holiday to sunny Dawlish in Devon.

Being free from essays and reading has unlocked time in my evenings and weekends to crochet and I have been loving it!I didn't realise how much I had missed sitting down and making something - of course I did do this when I was studying but I always felt really guilty about not doing my work! It's given me the opportunity to try my hand at baby clothes for the first time and they're so quick to make and of course so cute I can't seem to stop. I have decided to set up a little Etsy shop to list the stuff I'm not going to give away as gifts. It's called MOOSE of Margate, come and give me a wave :-)

I think my crochet frenzy was sparked by the news that Nick's sister was expecting a baby. He was born last week and is very cute! We are meeting him this weekend and I have made this little baby grow for him...

It's so soft and cuddly, I hope they like it! I can't wait to see him and give him a cuddle. Everyone seems to be having babies at the moment, I think it's that time of year. The whole thing has made us both quite broody!

My best friend has asked me to crochet a hooded cardigan for her friend's baby so I ordered some Stylecraft Aran this evening. I am looking forward to trying out Stylecraft yarn as it's so popular and a bit cheaper than the WI yarn I've been buying from hobbycraft. Fingers crossed I can get it done by the end of the month as she is leaving to see her on the 3rd August!

I also bought a little yarn winder this week and have had lots of fun winding my untidy skeins into beautifully neat little yarn cakes of joy...

Aaaanyway I just thought I would keep you updated as my hands are hardly free to type with all this crocheting! I hope you're all enjoying the warmer weather and have lots of fun stuff coming up through the summer.

Until next time,
Amy xx

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sutton Vale Country Park

We stayed at Sutton Vale Country Park for one night this weekend, to test out our camping gear before our week in Dawlish in the summer holidays. 

It did feel a bit strange packing the whole car up to camp 17 miles away from home, but living in the Garden of England means the scenery of the countryside and the fun of the seaside is always on our doorstep. 

It was also our first camping trip as almost-vegans. This wasn't a big deal of course, but the smell of bacon sandwiches made on a tiny stove on the grass the morning after a slightly damp night in a tent is how I remember so many of my childhood holidays. So to make it special for us, I bottled up some vegan pancake mix and enjoyed those for breakfast. I'm hoping we've started our own family camping tradition!

The camping field was surrounded by countryside with lovely views. There was a road behind the field so you could occasionally hear passing traffic but it wasn't very busy and we hardly heard it.

The pitches were well spaced and there was plenty of room for the children to run around and play. We were allocated pitch no. 31 which was in the middle of the field. At first I was a bit disappointed as I liked the sheltered feel of field-edge pitches that back on to hedges, but actually being in the middle meant we had lots of space all around the tent and we were able to park next to our pitch which was very handy. 

Archie had loads of space to fly his kite!

There were lots of other families staying in the same field as us and most pitches were occupied, but it didn't feel crowded at all. Archie made friends with some other boys and played football with them. He asked me to go over with him to ask to play which was really sweet, it's not often it feels like he needs me anymore! 

The ladies' loo block was a bit dated but very clean (I was impressed!) and perfectly usable. Nice hot water, hand soap and paper towels. Nick said the men's could have been a bit cleaner, and there was some water puddling on the floor. 

Whilst Wales v. Northern Ireland was on I took Archie for a swim in the Park's indoor heated pool. It was a little shabbier than I was expecting from the pictures on the website - think a big farm shed with corrugated plastic roofing - and the inside of the pool probably could have done with a lick of paint as the chipped blue it was painted gave the water a slightly green tinge. It definitely wasn't as 'polished' as it looks on the website, but it was still a massive bonus to have a warm swim on a rainy day at a UK campsite! And there were changing cubicles, lockers and hot showers at the poolside. Fine for a splash around!

In the evening (and during the huge downpours throughout Saturday!) we played Charades for Kids which was hilarious (particularly Archie trying to make himself look like a chair!!) and Archie and I read six chapters of Mr Stink by David Walliams. 

The sun did come out sometimes! 
To top things off, the staff were very friendly and the permanent residents of the site were also friendly and welcoming - they chatted to Archie whilst we waited to be checked in. The drinks were reasonably priced, too and Archie was very happy to spend 50p of his pocket money on a bag of sweets at the bar!

All together we loved Sutton Vale and think it's great value. We'd recommend it for families and despite it being really close to home (so not much reason to go back) we probably will head there again if we fancy a camping trip without having to travel for hours!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

KM Colour Run 2016

I ran my first 5k a couple of weeks ago in the KM Colour Run at Betteshanger Country Park. It was so much fun and I am very proud to have raised money for such a worthy cause. I also managed to complete the whole 5k without walking, which was the first time I'd ever done that!

I was a bit nervous about running it on my own as I have only done two parkruns before and both times I ran with Nick by my side. I must admit this was easier though, I think perhaps I went entirely at my own pace rather than trying to run a little bit faster so as not to hold Nick up. And no shin splints or stitch whatsoever!

Everyone was so excited to be there, the atmosphere was great and at 1k intervals around the route there were colour stations manned by kids who were more than happy to chuck yet more powdered paint in your face! I had several mouthfuls!!

I paid £15 to enter and I received a KM Colour Run t-shirt, a pair of sunglasses and a packet of powder paint to throw. I really wanted to wear my EKM t-shirt though and I am glad I did because I felt like I stood out from the crowd a little bit.

It has both spurred me on and made me that little bit more scared of the 10k I have booked in September at the QE Olympic Park.

If you're thinking of signing up I'd say absolutely go for it. It was fun and very do-able. I didn't even complete my Couch to 5k programme and I managed it just fine! If I can, you can!

Here are a few pics from the day...

Archie getting his moneys worth of throwing paint over me! 

My first medal!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

SW Best Bits #1

Being new to Slimming World - especially as an almost-vegan - has been a bit daunting for me. I've found most dairy free options are synned and I learned that the hard way this week when I used 12.5 syns on 3.5 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise! (But if it's any consolation, Tesco vegan salad cream is only 1.5 syns per tablespoon...)

So in this series I'd like to share the low-syn or free vegan foods that I've discovered and loved. I hope they're helpful, and I'd love to hear about your finds too!

Alpro Go On Passion fruit yoghurt - 1.5 syns of pure heaven. A thick fromage frais style yoghurt on top of a delicious passion fruit compote. Can't quite believe they're only 1.5 syns!

Spicy Lentil Soup from the Slimming World website. It's syn-free, filling and delicious. We had it for lunch and Nick loved it too. Apparently you can buy it ready made at Iceland? But it was so quick to make, and I assume cheaper too! I skipped the sweetner as I didn't think it needed it.

Alpro almond dark chocolate milk - 250 ml can be used as your Healthy Extra A. Bargain. I prefer yoghurt for breakfast so most of this week I've gone without my hex a. But now I've stocked up on this I will be able to meet my duties!!

My veggie 'chicken' and pea risotto - hearty and filling and one of my fave dinners ever. Recipe here.

Just Wholefoods jelly crystals are made up with boiling water to 1 pint of jelly which is 14 syns for the lot. I served up a quarter of a pint (3.5 syns) with 2 tablespoons of Alpro soya single cream (2 syns) and some fresh strawberries or raspberries. 5.5 syns for a satisfyingly sweet and cruelty free pudding! They're available in Holland and Barrett.

I hope you've enjoyed my best bits for the week, I certainly did! Until next time...

Amy xx