Why hello there, have you all enjoyed your vacation?
You weren't on vacation? And I wasn't on vacation. So why the long blogging break? Yes, you there in the back? Any ideas? Nope. Ok, let's just move along now then.
Life is plodding along here. We had 3 babies born within my circle of friends last week, so I've been busy assembling rotas to feed them, thanks to my "Meals for New Mums (and dads)" scheme I decided to set up to bless them with food, knowing how blessed we were when folk brought food over when we had tiny small babies. Ok, so mine were never that small, but I grow 'em big apparently.
Jaiden has more and more words everyday. And his cheeky personality is just shining through. We'd had a couple of nights where he was awake for aged in the night, so last night Menard got him up abut 9 and changed his nappy, and both Soph and JJ slept through til half 6 this morning, so that was a success, I'd say.
We need to get dressed in a bit and head out to meet a friend this morning, and this afternoon I've got small group which a friend has set up for mums with littles. The 3 pregnant ladies were all a part of that group, and still are, except now they're mums with littles too!
Today's accessory of choice is one welly boot (Soph's old ladybird ones, so two sizes too big). Every so often it will fall off, and much is the gnashing of teeth before it's properly restored onto his foot.
JJ's started having a name for himself. Especially if looking at a photo of himself, he gets very excited, pointing to the picture and then to his belly. He says "Ja-da" (Ja pronounced as in German for yes), or "Ja ja" - the variations of what we call him - Jaiden or JJ.
He's obsessed with Sophia's fluffy bear. Fluffy is the bear of the moment for Sophia, and consequently for JJ too. Fluffy has a nappy and soph often declares that he needs his nappy changed because he's done a poo-poo. Today I left JJ while I was in the bathroom, and I thought I heard him saying "poopoo". When I came back into the room he triumphantly waved bear's nappy above his head shouting "POOPOO!".
My lovely friend Julia set up a group on facebook for people in our local area to share and request 'family' items. Soph and JJ are modelling the lovely welly boots that we got today from two of the women in the group. Thanks ladies!
Quick post written one handed as JJ's sleeping on the other!
I bought myself a recipe book yesterday and today I've been writing in recipes from random scraps of paper, most of which I found yesterday when I gave my 'baking stuff etc' cupboards a good tidy up and clear out.
I found one recipe, which originally Bekki found somewhere, written on four different bits of paper,meaning I'd rung one or other of the family to get it on four separate occasions!
Do you have a popular family recipe you'd share with me? Either in the comments or on your blog, with a link in the comments. Pretty please? And I'll share the banana cake recipe one day soon when I have two hands to type with!
(It amuses me every time that blogger's spell check fails to recognise the word 'blog')
When I was little my dad was diagnosed with coeliac disease, this means (very basically!) that his body can't tolerate gluten, and he needs a gluten-free diet. Twenty plus years ago, the availability of gluten-free products was very limited, and those that there were didn't always taste good. That meant that it was better for my parents to get gluten-free flour, and make things from scratch.
I don't really remember what it was like before my dad was diagnosed, but I'm pretty certain my mum did a fair amount of cooking from scratch anyway, but after, they cooked pretty much everything from scratch, and I grew up thinking that was normal.
I am sooooooo thankful that that's the case. I was just looking on facebook and one blog or other was asking people their essential freezer meals, and then attempting to re-create them from scratch. I had a think about that, and realised I don't really even think of buying any freezer meals*, cos I just think that fresh/home cooked would be better.
I'm not saying I don't buy junk. sure, everyone does. But I've never bought a cake mix in my life - it just wouldn't even occur to me to do so!
I think what I'm trying to say is thank you mummy and daddy for the way you raised me, teaching me to cook from scratch. Cos it seems that's a skill a lot of other people are attempting to learn later on in life!
* In the spirit of full disclosure, I do sometimes by ready meals off the reduced shelf for Menard to take to work for lunch. But I wouldn't dream of eating them myself! I'd much rather have homecooked lasagne than the stuff you buy as a ready meal.
I've just been promoting my blog facebook page a little to my friends and I got a couple of new 'likes'.
That made me think that maybe I ought to actually write something on my blog. Oh the pressure.
( If you're on facebook and want to like my page, it's here
While you're at it, you might as well also like our business page too, go on, you know you want to! )
Well, it's Mothers' day here in the UK, so whether you're in the UK or not, if you're a mummy, then I'm wishing you a happy mothers' day. And to any of you for whom Mothers' day is tinged with sadness, then I pray that God's peace and comfort will be you.
This morning I've been productive in the kitchen and at using up things from my freezer that are from before my big de-frosting session last weekend (by which I mean the one ten days ago, and not the one that's just gone).
I made 'Healthy pumpkin banana muffins' roughly from this recipe. It's the second time I've done them, and the recipe is definitely a keeper (well, a keeper to continually mess with!).
I used all wholemeal flour instead of a mix of white and wholemeal, a mix of wheatgerm and wheat bran instead of oat bran. I made applesauce from scratch. Last time I used a mix of pumpkin that mum and I had cooked (two different pumpkins, a pot of each!). This time I had no pumpkin, so I boiled and mashed sweet potato and that totally worked! For the spices I did a good shake of mixed spice and a a bit more than that of cinnamon. Instead of nuts I put about 150g plain chocolate.
I also made 'sausage and vegetable mush'. Which despite it's name, is actually yummy and not as weird looking as you might think!
I took out of the freezer the sausagemeat, home cooked black eye beans, and mashed banana. I'll be putting back in 5 pots of sausage stuff, some of 46 muffins (depending on how many we eat first!), and two pots each of applesauce and sweet potato. Result!
We have lots of pregnant ladies in church right now, and many of them are due in the next few days, weeks, months.
We were so blessed when people brought us food in those early days, so I'm setting up a rota of people to take food over to them in the first week or two.
I was going to make a list of foods that would be good to take, but then a friend of mine shared this website with me, and I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you know someone who'd appreciate a meal, whether it be new mum, or old!
Sophia is at that fussy eater stage of life. And she's an especially fussy one. She *might* eat a baked bean or two, if you're very lucky and the wind is blowing in the right direction. She also likes to pick the beans out of Nan's rice and peas. But that's about all the vegetables she'll eat. Or that's what she thinks. I sneck them into her when I can.
Ella's kitchen baby food pouches
She likes the brown one and the purple one(see below)
Better still, she sometimes calls them liquid chocolate!
They're not the cheapest thing in the world, but it's gets some veg in, which is something her digestion desperately needs on occasion!
The other thing I do is make muffins with added extras of fruit and veg. I'll take a recipe which already contains some fruit or veg, and throw in some more, just for kicks!
Right now Sophia is sleeping, and I threw together some muffins which are reasonably low in sugar, almost fat free, contain wholemeal flour and oats and had... pear&apple puree (used instead of oil), a whole apple, a whole carrot, a whole banana, half a courgette and some sultanas. I just hope they pass the Sophia test later on!
The way I summed up the rest of my day yesterday on facebook...
"Today was a crazy crazy day, starting at
5.30am - thanks kids for graciously waking me up so I had time to fit in
a ton of things. And thanks for weeing on the floor so I'd give you
both baths, and tipping over a plant so I'd hoover the whole downstairs
and.... I love you Soph and JJ, even if you do change up my to-do list a
little." Today has not got off to the most auspicious start, with a rough night, but we're off to see my mummy and daddy (once all the people stop being asleep again!) so that will be lovely I'm sure :)
My children graciously decided that they would wake up at 5.30am to give me plenty of time today to do all the things. So before 7am came around I'd already got a load of washing in the machine and done almost all of yesterday's washing up!
It's not yet ten o'clock and I have thus far done breakfast, caught up with the online world, stripped and changed the bedding on my bed, put the wet washing out on the airer, sorted dry washing and started putting it away, dealt with wee on the floor, and consequently bathed two children. The one that did the wee, and then the little one wanted to jump in the bath too, so he also went in, dried and dressed the kids, half dressed me (the other half is still pyjamas) and started another load of washing (bedding and towels and all that was wee-ed on).
Now I am just sitting for a minute before I make white sauce and assemble some lasagnas.
Jaiden is doing something to my hair with a spoon. It feels a bit like when the hairdresser pulls two strands to check they're the same length. I suppose I should be glad it's a sppon he's holding and not something more dangerous!
Sophia is watching Cbeebies (TV channel for young children). I like to watch a bit of news and weather first thing and then we switch over for a few (or more than a few) children's programs. 'Tilly and her friends' just finished - that's one of the gentler ones, and quite enjoyable, even for mummy, as opposed to others which I turn off when they come on!
I am trying to be awake. JJ cried in his sleep a fair bit and Soph cried out at 2.30am. I went in, but she was actually asleep, but in going in, I woke JJ. He had a nappy change and went back to his bed ok, but coghed a lot over the next hour and cried and cried at 3.30am, so he came into our bed to stay! And that's that!
Last year I was sorting through Soph's clothes and had a bag of bits and pieces that we no longer needed, and that I wanted to pass on to someone, but I wasn't sure who would need them.
Why not get a bunch of friends together, all bring clothes their kids didn't need, and swap them, at the same time we could drink coffee and eat cake (Mums are especially good at multitasking!).
The idea (not original, but my version thereof) was born.
That clothes swap was in my house. Today we had our second one, in the meeting room of my church's offices. I think it was even bigger and better than last time. Here's how I did it... and how you can too.
Set a date and a location. If the date is quite far off (as this one was) make sure you promote the event nearer the time, and remind people lots, but in a non-annoying way. (I hope I managed that).
Our planned location actually changed twice over time, but it was fine!
So second I would emphasise be flexible and don't panic!
Once you've settled upon your time, date and location, start telling people. (I went for 10.30 start this time, cos that meant those of us setting up didn't have to be up at the crack of dawn. I arrived at the location about 9.20am)
Invite all your friends with kids. Set up a facebook group. Think about how big your location is, but don't be scared to invite more than double the number you can actually fit in your venue - not everyone will be able to make it. Go through your phone and text all your friends with kids there too.
Pretty much everyone will bring baby clothes, so also invite expectant mothers, or those you think might be planning to have kids (get cheeky, people can always say no!)
Co-opt a couple of friends to be your beautiful assistants. You could do it all yourself, but you'd probably get a bit stressed. And your friends will bring new perspective and together you'll come up with some great ideas. I've had Rachel, Claire and Corena as my beautiful assistants for my clothes swaps, and I honestly couldn't have done it without them.
Think about child care for your kids during the event, cos you'll probably be busy running it and it would be handy to have another pair of hands and eyes around. Last time I had my mum and today my wonderful husband (and Claire's) were these to help with the kids and be oh so gentlemanly and assist with carrying etc etc. (Thanks!)
Think about how to display the clothes - we used a variety of boxes (pretty much anything I could find!) Last time we had a hanging rail.
Make labels. If you laminate them, you can use them again next time. Stick the labels on the boxes, thinking about which sizes are likely to have most clothes. For us, we had a lot of baby clothes, so I had my biggest boxes at that end and put them in small age ranges (Newborn and 0-3 month, 3-6m, 6-9m, 9-12m, 12-18m, 18-24m, 2-3years etc)
Ask your friends to presort if you can! It's so much easier if you can come and just tip a bag into a bag and go, but be prepared that you will need to help sort on the day too.
Think about what else you want to swap and share - we had bedding, towels, toy, 'baby equipment', shoes, socks, etc etc. But try to have a place for each item, so people can find the right boxes to put things in, and find things to take away too!
Consider telling people with older kids about the event (I set a rough guide of newborn-age 10 for the event). But sometimes people with older kids are ready to have a turn out of baby paraphernalia and are happy to donate it to those with the littles.
Don't feel like you have to make all the cakes - buy some, or ask folk to contribute too. People like doing that.
Tell people as they arrive, what you want them to do - We asked them to sort their own stuff into boxes, and then they could start taking. But be prepared to muck in too!
Have a plan what to do with leftovers (you will have leftover!) - we gave to charity, including my church, and I sent the people who were around at the end away with a bag or two to take to their favourite charity shop. Last time we stored some of the baby clothes because a number of our friends were expecting babies soon!
Be prepared to feel totally exhausted afterwards!
Start small the first time so you get a feel for it, but be prepared for it to all take off.
Above all, have fun!
(Of course, we're considering changing this system slightly for next time, with potentially a bigger venue, and asking people to bring their donations the day before so we can sort them better)
JJ has some back teeth (a tooth?) coming through, which while it wiggles and jiggles about is causing him lots of pain, a high temp and general miseray. This in turn is leading him to wanting me all the time and making my life miserable too. After all, it's nice to share, mummy!
The house is a tip. The washing basket is overflowing, the washing up needs doing, not to mention anything else. But JJ is reluctant to let me out of his sight, which makes achieving anything much a bit tricky. Today I aim simply not to go mad :D
That's what Rachel in friends said in the episode she was hoping to go off ski-ing in Vale, but couldn't make the money in time.
And we have snow, and for some reason it made me think of that.
Snow snow snow.
By the time this posts, I'll probably be sick of it, but as I write this, it's the first day. I refuse to drive anywhere, and won't be until the snow and ice are gone! But we did have a walk in the snow along to the pub for some lunch (And to give the kids fresh air, since it'll freeze tonight and then even the pavements won't be that safe to walk on, and we'll be stuck indoors).
I haven't taken any kids in snow pictures yet and it's getting a bit dark now. We're (sort of) cosy indoors and Sophia is watching The Snowman. But I'll make sure I take some tomorrow :) (which for me is Saturday, but as you read this when it posts in Sunday, that will actually be yesterday).
This coming Tuesday, the 22nd, Swagbucks is celebrating the month of January with a bunch of Swag Codes - if you can get them all, you'll have an extra 65 Swag Bucks at the end of the day. They'll be happening all throughout the day, so check their blog, Facebook and Twitter for potential clues.
Also, if you have the new Toolbar installed you'll be able to check for Swag Codes all day long!
If you haven't joined Swagbucks yet, click this link to join the fun and start earn reward points that you can exchange for free stuff like gift cards! Use the code JANTASTIC during sign up - that way you'll start with 100 Swag Bucks instead of the usual 30. Enter the code exactly as it appears with no spaces.
I've been doing lots of the 31 blog post challenge, but to be honest, I'm finding it a bit frustrating. Yes, it was nice to have a plan of what to write, but some of the prompts just didn't interest me much, or didn't take my post in a direction I wanted it to go.
I'm also a bit frustrated about losing all my readers, or perhaps just all the commenters! (But I know how rubbish I am at commenting on other people's post, so I do understand). So, I've decided that I won't totally abandon the challenge, but I'm putting it on hold a bit so I can say some of the other things I want to say. After all, this is my blog, I should get to chose what to write! (But prompts and challenges are useful sometimes!)
Have you noticed that I have actually blogged 21 posts, one a day, for 21 days (if my counting was correct!). That may be my longest blogging streak I've ever had.
*ballons, hats and party poppers all round*
Now since my almost 13 month old is alternating between trying to climb the bookcase and grabbing my arm to make me cuddle him, I it's time to get back to real life, but I'll be here again soon.
It's a good reference for inspiration for dinner at short notice! And is written in a funny, readable way. I'd definitely recommend it :)
I don't read it start to finish, but even though Jaiden is my second child, I still like to check things out in the 'What to Expect' books. I got the pregnancy one out of the library, but I was lucky enough to be given What to Expect the 1st Year
and What to Expect: the Toddler Years
from a friend who had finished using them. I'd definately recommend as they cover things from feeding to sleep to nappy contents and everything inbetween!
Hm, I'm pondering over this one. It's been sat in my drafts with the title ready and waiting for me to write something. The two things that come to mine may or may not be the best pieces of advice I've ever been given, but they're pretty good all the same :D
1. "This too will pass". Sometimes it's one of those days (weeks) where the kids have been awake since crazy o'clock, the house is a mess (thanks kids), it's time for dinner but you haven't made any.... you get the picture. Say to yourself "this too will pass" and somehow you realise that it's ok, this crazy stage can't last forever. The day will end, the kids will go to bed, your hubby will cook (or go buy take away!). Whatever the solution, you can make it through!
"I blog because I'm happy, I blog because I'm free..."
No wait, that's singing. I like singing too. Especially when I'm happy.
I blog to remember stuff. I blog to share things I thought were funny (and then get deflated when noone comments, and decide maybe I just have an odd sense of humour). I blog to sharehighlights (and lows) of my life. I blog to be a part of the blogging community - I need to work on commenting on others' blogs more, I know. I blog cos it makes me happy, keeps me accountable in some ways, to share photos and mostly just cos it's fun :)
My sister Bekki helped me set up my blog. I didn't really know what I was going to do with it, just thought it would be fun to have one. My url is debbiemonster.blogspot.com cos that's a nickname in my family like "what's the Debbie monster up to today?".
'It's my life' came about because my sister blogged about her life, and I figured that's what I'd blog about too. So here it is, and I think it's probably been a pretty good way of recording some of the big and little events that have happened since 2005!
I found this blog challenge which gives a title or instruction for what to write for 31 days on a blog called 'While on this side'. I liked the idea, so thought I'd give it a go. The only thing I will say is that I retain the right to interrupt this series with inane twittering or random things my kids have said, so it may take me more than 31 days to get through this!
As you can see (click pic to enlarge), the first post is to be a recent photo and intro, I guess about me and who I am. Right, let's start with a photo....
This one is me being absolutely shattered my my kids' insistence at getting up at a time that starts with a 4.
This is JJ kissing me.
And this is me discovering I'm about to go change a stinky bum.
And that, by the way, is how I look when I've not had enough sleep for 3 nights in a row and haven't even combed my hair yet. Just keepin' it real :D And yes, those are birthday cards and Christmas decorations up still in the background.
So who am I? I'm Debs, I'm a wife, a mummy, a daughter, a girl who must have pink things (that's Soph's definition of a girl - they must have pink things. I'm more in to purple, personally, but there you go).
Most importantly, I'm a child of the king. I mess up, I get it wrong, get cranky and shout at the kids over stupid things (especially when I'm tired), but I love Jesus, and Jesus loves me, and has a bucketload of grace for me!
I've been blogging a looong time, or that's how it feels. When I started I was young, free and single. This blog has seen a lot of changes, and I alternately laugh and cringe when I look back over all I've written here.
That's all my sleep deprived brain can come up with at the moment, but I've gotta save something to write tomorrow, right?!
One of the thingsI really enjoyed over Christmas was the opportunity to play games with my extended family. Hannah, Be, Sarah and Sophie played cribbage and 'strip Jack naked', and then later Bekki, Be and I played scrabble. Even Jaiden got in on the action!
I've been watching extreme couponing all day today (admitedly on the 31st Dec when I wrote this, and not on the 6th Jan when it will post. I'm taking a leaf out of Kathleen's book and writing posts ahead of time)
I've found the ones who hoard it all a little sickening, and the ones who give it away to charity an inspiration.
I honestly don't think that we get as many coupons here in the UK as they appear to in the USA. But it's inspired me to look out for coupons and also deals like buy one get one free, and to consider putting aside the extra to donate to our church food bank.
Jaiden is getting to the stage where he'd rather feed himself that be fed. (Well, unless you're feeding him from your bowl!)
Anyway, I've been on the search for recipes for things I can make ahead, stick in the freezer, and just grab and go, that would give him a variety of things to eat and not always be having the same thing.
I've not (at the time of writing on the 31st Dec) tried any of these yet, but they're on the to-do list, and I'll give some feedback when I have :)