Time for holidays – What we got up to last week

So, it’s that time of year school’s out and we have time to spend doing… well, anything! Of course, on the first day off it rains! I was sent out to get some bake-your-own pain au chocolat, or as Martha calls them “Big buns”. Usually on a Saturday, Martha and I get up early and go to the shop to buy pastries for our breakfast. This has become a bit of a tradition now, a tradition that has led Martha to recently announce at her day care that “Daddy has big buns”

On our way up the hill on the railway
On our way up the hill on the railway

We then decided to visit Aberystwyth and do something we haven’t done in a while – ride the vehicular railway up Constitution Hill. While up there we had lunch (yes there’s a restaurant up there) and a walk about on a very windy  hill.

Martha has developed a routine at bedtime, and now likes to replicate this by reading, singing and kissing her mummy goodnight – no matter what time of day it is!

On the way to the Wedding
On the way to the Wedding

At the end of the week we attended a family wedding where Martha played and ran about and generally had a good time. She was on best behaviour in the chapel.

Checking to see if dolly is ok
Checking to see if dolly is ok

We took advantage of the lovely weather at the end of the week and went for a lovely walk in the countryside – of course Martha had to take her dolly for a walk in its buggy as well, stopping every few metres to check if it was ok.

 

 

Technical issues…

You might have noticed that mamaandbabybear.com has been down for a while, and even now posts are missing. This is a result of us moving to a new host for the site, and of course the back up that was made before moving could not be retrieved!
In order to salvage anything we had to look for any trace of the blog on an older host (which there was still text – no photos unfortunately), and also via old cached snapshots of the site through the Way Back Machine

So, through doing this we managed to save posts up until July 2015 and then nothing until February 2016. So essentially there is a missing year on the blog (argh!).

Our aim will be to retrieve as much as we can if we figure out if we can. So here we are back up and running.

Easter and new beginnings

Hello there! It’s been a while, I hope you had a wonderful Easter and ate ALL of the eggs?
It’s been that wonderful time when Winter seems to be eventually fading and the promise of a little sunshine, lighter mornings and daffodil clad borders trim the country lanes. It fills me with a little sense of change as we look forward to the hazy days of summer. It’s been a tough old winter; they say when it rains it pours and it really did. Literally and figuratively. It started with a damp patch on the carpet in the living room, which gradually got bigger and bigger. One inspection from a damp proof specialist revealed the insulated wall was pulling water into the house and it was pooling in several places. There is nothing like watching your sodden plaster board peel off like butter when pulled with bare hands!

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Fast forward several months and were about a week away from having the whole situation resolved. I’ve seen the intricate details of meshing on the bare bricks, suffered the smell of liquid damp proofing on the floor and made several trips to the tip. Days of entertaining a toddler in the howling gales when isolated to the upstairs and eating our tea on the floor of the spare room has been….challenging.

We decided with a new wall that would need painting we would take the opportunity to repaint the muddy colour choice and rip of the one messily wallpapered wall. Whoever put that up must have thrown a bucket of paste at the wall, as we spent hours scraping the gloopy mess off. We decided that as the conservatory had the same said paste covered wallpaper and muddy paint we would extend into there as well. The end is finally in sight now clean white walls have really opened up the space and our carpet is ordered for a fitting in one week. It has been months since I felt cozy in our living room and I may just cry when its finally all back to normal and we can feel like we live in a house again not a scrapyard!

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Anyway, this weekend was filled with baking, chocolate, Easter baskets and egg hunts. Easter hasn’t really been exciting for me in many years but this year Martha’s little face as she tucked into her Easter basket and followed the trail of little eggs down the stairs was just lovely. She is a bit obsessed with Kinder eggs (we buy one every Friday after work as a treat.) I bought her the large Kinder Egg and she shouted “a big Egg!” with such excitement at the end of her hunt, it just made my heart so full. Isn’t it amazing how things suddenly become exciting again? A little occasion you had long forgotten suddenly takes on new meaning and I’m always humbled by it. I realise all over again how we are making memories and setting our own little family traditions.

Perfect cookies!

A few weeks ago on a bit of a whim I decided to make Chocolate Chip Cookies with Martha. They were so delicious (and only lasted a matter of days) I thought I would share the recipe. Super easy and very moreish!

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I used a variation of the Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies. The bitter dark chocolate works beautifully with a pinch of salt and the contrast of the sweet biscuit. If dark chocolate is not your thing you can always substitute.

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Ingredients:

225g Unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 Eggs

350g Soft Light Brown Sugar

400g Plain Flour

225g Dark Chocolate (roughly chopped)

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

2 1/2 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

 

The original recipe calls for 4 lined baking trays I only had two and cooked the cookies in batches which was not a problem.

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The method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/ 325F/ Gas Mark 3
  2. Mix together the butter and Sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs individually and continue to beat. On a slower setting beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. Add the Flour, Salt and Bicarbonate of Soda until the mixture becomes a much thicker dough like consistency.
  4. Roughly chop the chocolate (some chunkier pieces work well), add to the dough and stir to thoroughly disperse.
  5. Arrange 6 equal amounts of dough balls on a lined baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Smaller amounts spaced apart will work better, as the cookies flatten out a lot.
  6. The cookies may still seem soft after 10 minutes. Allow to cool and they will be soft and chewy.

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Enjoy!

Part time Mummy

The end of this week marks a small but significant passage of time for me. I will officially have been back at work for one whole year. Looking back at our vlogs from the first time I dropped Martha off and trotted back to work, I can see that I have mixed feelings about my new (albeit) temporary life.

Leaving Martha has been without question so very hard; I have hated it, every second and if I’m honest that has at times torn me to pieces. The plan was always for me to return to work full time, but after several issues with finding childcare that we were happy with and Mummy being reduced to a quivering wreck, we weighed up our finances (and my personal well being) and made the decision that I would reduce my time at work temporarily, to 3 days. It has been the best decision we could have made; we have struggled with our money, but the snippets of time I have treasured with Martha in between my time at work, have been such a blessing to me.

I have found it hard to be ‘part-time’ in every sense of the word. I am a part-time worker; I miss out on things, I have to re-adjust every time I have days off with Martha and get my work head on, I have to work bloomin’ hard when I am in work, knowing I won’t get chance to finish things later and I try at all costs not to work on the days I am home with Martha, but work commitments have meant I have had to go into work during several evenings on my ‘home’ days.

The guilt that comes with being a part-time Mummy has also been a bit awful; I’m here and Martha is happy and settled and then I’m gone again. There is no doubt that Martha has to constantly adjust to a different routine between myself and the childminder, which inevitably interferes with her sleeping and eating pattern. There are days when Martha seems so content with me I worry about what I’m missing out on. I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought about doing something with Martha for the first time and thought “I’ll save it for the weekend” only to come home and read in her little daily book that she did it that day.

Working part-time is sometimes the best of a bad situation, there are times I feel so thinly spread between trying to do my job (the way I did when I was single and it was everything) and being a good Mummy; one who isn’t stressed about working, has time to play and dance around to the Peppa Pig theme tune.

Martha has had some great experiences with her Childminder (who she utterly adores), she thoroughly enjoys her spacious garden, trampoline and room full to the brim of different toys every day! I remain very grateful to have found our Childminder, she made the hardest battle I have ever faced just that little bit easier.

The battle of course remains internally within me; I know I need my career, it matters, it is stimulating, bloody hard and ridiculously rewarding at times. It awakens a part of me I like about myself. Being a Mummy still remains the most overwhelming part of my life; it is the part of me I never knew was there, it nourishes my soul, pushes me to breaking point and blesses me every single day. It is difficult to let go of either – it is hard to be just ‘part-time’ not fully present in either side of my life, but constantly pulled between the two and often not feeling adequate in either.

I’d love to hear your comments !

Stay Happy x

A little update

Hi everyone,

Oh its been a busy, busy couple of weeks! Work has been intense for both of us but more so for Aled. This has left me flying solo with Baby B (as well as keeping the house going and going to work myself.) We are both exhausted and haven’t spent any decent time together as a family for weeks. We do have a couple of more rough weeks to go and then we will be spending quality time together, uninterrupted by anything or anyone thank you very much!

So here are a few snaps I’ve taken over the past couple of weeks….

Eating healthy delicious breakfasts.

 

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and some not so healthy, but still very delicious nutella filled cookies….Baby B usually likes to pinch Aled’s blueberry muffin but one bite of this and she lost all interest!

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We celebrated Father’s Day; beginning with a little tea / milk for Baby B in bed with cards and Ben and Holly!

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Then a special Father’s Day breakfast – Baby B was so delighted with her “caca” (pancake), fruit and nutella filled croissant…

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 The weather has been grim lately, meaning we have spent a few days trapped indoors. I have discovered a new favourite playtime activity for Martha; playing in the bath with a bowl of water in her swimming costume, with lots of toys and bubbles!

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Hope you enjoyed this picture heavy post!

 

Stay Happy!

Lancome Grandiose Mascara

When it comes to mascaras I am a picky customer. I have sensitive eyes and the fragrance/ingredients can make me an eye watering mess, not to mention that I have quite long lashes and can get those funny cartoon flecks on my brow bone (not attractive come the end of the day.) I recently had some accumulated Boots points (and a big old voucher) to spend. I decided to try something new.

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Although I didn’t stray far! I have long been a fan of of Lancome Hypnose; it performs well, lengthens, doesn’t irritate my eyes and no smudges. However, I have always felt the volume was somewhat lacking. So I went in search of the much talked about Lancome Grandiose which seems to have some people torn.

Can we just talk about this packaging?!

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Unbelievably fancy and the swan neck wand also seems a little extravagant. In my opinion, the wand isn’t the making of this mascara, in fact it took a little getting used to. This mascara just has a fantastic formula! It simply does it all; volume, length and thick black lashes with no transfer. My bottom lashes transfer but honestly the only mascara I have found to cope on my bottom lashes is the clinique bottom lash and I think I will probably use that forever!

At £24.50 it is obviously high end, but I have to say for me it is just so hard to beat!

Have you tried Lancome Grandiose?

If you love a good candle…

I have a confession….I am addicted to candles! I love everything about them; the soft focus they cast, the gentle flickering flame, the delicious scents and the ritual of lighting one at the end of the day as we settle down for the night. I just love a good candle!

I paid for this with my own hard earned pennies; I just wanted to rave a little because they are just so lovely! A few years ago at The Royal Welsh Show I saw a little local company called Busy Bee candles and was intrigued by their products. The Royal Welsh is always packed and I ran out of time to go back. Recently, I looked them up on line and they have a really nice website packed full of the most delicious sounding scents you have ever heard of! My preference in terms of scent always leans towards the spicy autumnal or the foodie scents. These are mostly seasonal with other brands but I can get my fix from Busy Bee’s all year round!

Firstly, let’s just take a look at this little oil burner, I’m not normally the biggest owl fan but I just thought this was so adorable.

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With a tealight candle underneath, you pop the ‘Magic Beanz’ on top and your set. The ‘ Magic Beanz’ melt down to an oil, filling the room gradually with the most beautiful fragrance.

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These pack quite the punch and the ‘Beanz’ are listed on their website in terms of strength of fragrance. I picked quite the selection and so far I am loving ‘Buttered Popcorn’ and ‘Sugared Fig’ but I will work my way through the others.

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I am absolutely in love with this little guy and am finding myself excitedly returning from putting Martha down to bed, to choose a scent and light my candle.

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Have you tried any of the Busy Bee’s range? Are you a self confessed candle addict (let’s share the burden!)

Stay Happy!

Happy Father’s day

For the advice, the kindness, the unquestionable support, for going without so that we could have more; for giving us the happiest times, the smiles and the memories. For making us stronger, holding us close, teaching us what matters and making us the people we wanted to be. For holding our hands and raising us well….THANKYOU.

Happy Father’s Day!

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For holding us together, for being strong and for the unconditional love. As a husband and Father you are everything I had hoped for and more.

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Martha’s 18 month update

I have officially been doing a monthly update for Martha for a full year! On my first update she was 6 months old and I can’t quite believe my baby is now 1 and a half years old (sob sob!) Martha is so much fun now she is her own little person; strong willed, determined, funny and such a happy little girl.

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Daily Routine

Martha was very unsettled after her time in hospital and her throat infection dragged on for weeks. She was not sleeping well at all and we have been battling through. Only recently, she has started sleeping through again. She seems to be cutting back on her morning nap (especially at the childminders) and is generally doing one and a half to two hours.

 

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Bedtime Routine

We still stick to the same routine with Martha. She has her tea and then goes for her bath at 7pm. I brush her teeth and am having to wash her hair a little more often (it is getting so long!) Then its lotion, pjs, milk and asleep by 7:40pm. Martha is still very good about going in her cot awake (but sleepy) and falling asleep without fuss.

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Eating

If I could summarise Martha’s attitude to eating this month it would be: fussy. She likes something one day and not the next! We are just pushing through it and hoping she just decides to like her meals again, in the meantime it is very frustrating! She has even turned down banana (that has literally never happened before….)

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Size

Martha is different sizes depending on the brand and the garment at the moment! In some brands she is 12-18 months and in some 18-24 months. She still wears Pampers size 4 and shoes in size 3.

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Milestones, moments and likes….

  • Walking…everywhere and walking long distances she loves to walk holding my hand by her buggy
  • Lots of new words added ca-ca (cake) bag, boots, coat, car, door, keys, boo, mummy, daddy, bubbies (blueberries) and bubbles
  • Still loves to dance to any sort of music, especially her musical toys and the theme tune of Peppa Pig/ Ben and Holly
  • She still loves Peppa Pig but has recently got into Ben and Holly
  • Gives lots of hugs and kisses
  • Runs to greet me when I pick her up from the childminders, apparently whenever anybody rings the doorbell she runs to the door shouting “mummy, mummy”
  • In protest Martha throws herself on the floor, often lies down and sometimes goes completely limp when she doesn’t want to get in her buggy.