Then and now

If you’re a parent I’m sure you often fantasise about the days when you were young (er) and carefree. The days before you developed those dark circles under your eyes. The days of spontaneous dinner dates, boozy weekend lunches that lingered into the evening and gig-going (our personal favourite). The days of..okay I’ll stop before I sound like a whingebag.

Your spontaneity isn’t the only thing that seems to change after 2 become 3, your conversations do too. Some days I do have to stop and think “Have you heard yourself?” when talking to Mr.S.

Couple conversation, then vs. now –

Then – “How was your day huni?”

Now – “Thank GOD you’re home. She’s been a bloody nightmare today. Did you get wine?”

Then –  “You smell nice”

Now – “What the hell is that smell?” (Cue sniffing of toddler’s bum)

Then – “That film you wanted to see is out on Thursday, shall we go?”

Now – “I think we’ve used up our babysitting credits for this month”

Then – “Have you seen my red heels with the bow?”

Now – “Have you seen Cinderella?”

Then – “Ooooooooh your sex is on fiiiiiire

Now – “Let it go, let it goooooooo

Then – “Oh look *insert name of band/singer* is playing, shall we get tickets?”

Now – “Oh look, Frozen on Ice. The tickets are HOW much?!”

You get the picture…

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2010

 

Any others you’d like to add?! Pass the wine.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

 

 

Re-evaluating the blog…and other ramblings

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If you know me you’ll know how passionate I am about music. I completed a music production degree at university and music is a huge part of my life. It always has been.

It’s been there through every significant, as well as everyday, moments of my life. Through my love of music I met Mr. S, after doing work experience at the music company he worked at, and some of my dearest friends.

I can tell you what song reminds me of starting little school (Gabrielle’s ‘Dreams’), the band that defined my teenage years (Lifehouse) and the one that evokes memories of a hot August bank holiday, driving to Brighton, the air salty and fresh on a first date with my now husband (Modest Mouse ‘Float On’).

Music is a powerful force and I just cannot imagine life without it. As the poet Victor Hugo said,

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent

I don’t wish this post to come across as pretentious in any way and I swear I will get to the point…now! So, I feel a little like I’ve been drifting a bit with this blogging lark. Initially, as it still is, it was a platform for self-expression and somewhere I could write freely about life, fashion, beauty, my pregnancy and now Aria’s toddler years. But, as you’ll agree, life gets in the way and I’m all for spontaneity but I feel like my blog needs a little more structure. And so, my point being that I want to introduce some regular features, one called ‘The Listening Booth’ being one of them, that are more ‘me’ rather than just ‘me’ the ‘Mummy’

If you read my blog already, this may or may not be something you’re interested in subject wise, but I want to start writing a little more about my passions, music being a big one! So I thought a monthly feature where I share what I’m listening to at the moment, artists old and new, would be a great addition.

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and reading about toddler recipes and potty training as much as the next Mum (well, not all day every day but you get my point!), but I’m also still my own person and think a little more self-expression can only be a good thing.

So, if you’re still reading to the end (after all my rambling!) I hope you’ll come back and read more!

Thanks for reading,

Em xx

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t believe I just said that

I remember very clearly the things my Mum used to say to me as child, I like to call them ‘Mum-isms.’ You know, things such as ‘Get down from there or you’ll fall and break your neck’, ‘If the wind changes you’ll get stuck like that’ and ‘You’re NOT going out dressed like that’…you get the idea.

So I guess it was inevitable I’d start saying these Mum-isms sooner or later. Here are a few that have escaped from my mouth in the past few weeks –

“I’m going to count to three and you’d better be on this changing mat. One, TWO…TWO AND A HALF…”

“What did I JUST say?”

“Are you allowed to do that?” “No Mummy” “Then why are you doing it?”

Don’t like it” says Aria pushing her food away. “There are children starving in Africa who would LOVE this food”

“Get away from the TV or you’ll get square eyes”

“I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall”

“Am I talking to myself?”

“Sit down while you’re eating or you’ll get indigestion”

  

I’m sure there will be many more to come as Aria grows up and even when she’s an adult I’ll be uttering them, because as my Mum tells me, your children are always your babies whether they’re 3 or 33.

What have you found yourself saying to your children? 

Em xx 

 

Beware – Toddlers have no filter

You know some people  who say exactly what’s on their mind? Positively described as honest, negatively described as blunt. Sometimes I love these people. “I wish I could be that honest” I think. Other times I think “Ooh that was harsh, don’t you have a filter?”

Well, let me tell you toddlers do not have this filter! And if you tend to have a bit of a potty mouth (don’t we all some days), control it, control it now! For your delightfully cute little one will repeat EVERYTHING YOU SAY! And I mean everything. Hence Mr. S and I training ourselves to replace our thoughtlessly uttered expletives with words such as ‘sugar’, ‘bother’ and my current favourite ‘fudge sticks’. Particularly hard when driving I’ve found!

“So”, I hear you say, “I get it, keep my language in check in front of my little one” (and out of sight because THEY HEAR EVERYTHING) – “check”. But it’s not just your language you need to consider. These adorable tiny humans have a way of saying exactly what they think, when they think it.

Take Good Friday for example. There we were, family Smith 3, enjoying a sunny afternoon at Bateman’s, a National Trust property in East Sussex. Taking a break from our Easter egg hunt to enjoy our picnic, people watching and enjoying the sunshine, when a shall we say larger lady comes into our vicinity. Aria, darling daughter, pipes up from behind her carrot sticks “Lady, big tummy.” Cue husband and I, beetroot red trying desperately to drown out her honesty, “ARIA ARE YOU ENJOYING YOUR LUNCH?” “Lady, BIG T..” “MMMM YUMMY CARROT STICKS”. “LADY, BI..” “LOOK AT THAT DOGGY.

Thankfully, I don’t think the lady heard her honest outburst. We however, are going to have to learn to deal with more of these types of situations. Because when you’re two, you really do say what you think.

Has your little one come out with any embarrassing things? I’d love to hear them!

Em xx

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Darling daughter, enjoying her chocolate bunny

 

 

 

 

Raising a tiny human – 104 weeks (ish)

Two years! That’s 104 weeks. Roughly 104 weeks since the little girl, who has the cheekiest smile I’ve ever seen, came into the world. I can’t believe that the past two years have gone by so quickly. This post is a little late, as Aria turned two last month, but I wanted to reflect on the past two years.

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When I was pregnant and in the first year of her life,  I was blogging a lot with updates and recording her milestones on the blog. That’s fallen by the way a little in her second year, mostly due to the fact life is pretty hectic!

I think in the early days, certainly for me, it was so hard to see beyond the baby days. the sleepless nights and tiredness that go hand in hand with the wonders of watching this little person develop their personality. I can’t count the amount of people who told us ‘enjoy this time, it goes so fast.’ It sounds like a cliche but it really does!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows, some days have you tearing your hair out, fighting over whose turn it is to get up in the night, crying from sheer bloody exhaustion, but I guess that and my permanent eye bags are part of raising a tiny human.

These two years have really been a ‘getting to know’ each other time as well. As strange as that sounds when talking about your own child, you really do have to learn their quirks, the things they like, what makes them happy, like anyone new that you meet.

I’m amazed at how kind she is and funny to the point she makes us cry with laughter. True to her name, she loves music and like us is a fan of seafood and silliness. Sure she has irrational outbursts, like the time she cried because she wanted to see the neighbour’s cat who dared not to be in the garden, and she likes to test how far she can push that cheekiness of hers – terrible twos are true to their word. God help us when she becomes a ‘threenager’!

I don’t want to turn this into a post about how wonderful she is, with my rose tinted glasses after a full night’s sleep, but she’s truly a wonder and I can’t wait to watch her grow into the beautiful person she’s becoming.

A quick and easy meal for when you can’t be bothered 

I don’t know about you, but we seem to get to the end of the week and have various bits of veg left in the fridge. One of the quickest and easiest meals I love to do is a stir fry. The great thing is you can literally throw anything in.

I tend to start with a teaspoon of coconut oil on a high heat in the wok, then add spring onions and the hardest veg – tonight it’s broccoli, red cabbage and carrots – with a dash of tamari (gluten free soy sauce). Cook for a few minutes and add grated ginger, peppers and courgette (or vegetables of your choice) plus more tamari. 

  
   

Next, add cooked rice noodles and cook for a further few minutes until your vegetables are soft. Then voila! Your meal is ready to serve.

Sometimes, I also love to stir in a tablespoon of tahini at the end and sprinkle over a few pine nuts for extra crunch!

I know this is a super simple and easy recipe, but it’s something that’s perfect to throw together at the end of the week or on a night when you really can’t be bothered to stand in the kitchen for ages!

What are your favourite quick and easy meals?

Recipe: Buckwheat, blueberry and raspberry pancakes

Over the past few years I’ve really got into cooking and experimenting with different flavours. This has grown since having Aria as I love cooking for her (even if she is fussy sometimes!), and have made all her meals since we started weaning.

Interesting breakfast ideas can be tough and we tend to alternate between porridge and scrambled egg most weeks. Looking through some books the other day, I came across a recipe for buckwheat and blueberry pancakes in my Clean & Lean Cookbook and couldn’t resist giving them a go. Safe to say they were as delicious as they sound and I even added some raspberries – wild huh! They were a hit with Aria too so I thought I’d share the recipe below. I’ve adapted this slightly by adding raspberries and almond milk:

Serves 3-4 (Depending on how big you like your pancakes!

Ingredients

1 cup milk (I used almond milk, but unless you have an intolerance semi-skimmed is fine)

1 large egg

1/2 cup wholewheat flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

olive oil for cooking

maple syrup for drizzling (optional)

Method

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In a large bowl, whisk the milk and eggs, then gradually add the flours and whisk well until you have a smooth batter.

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Add the blueberries and raspberries and stir.

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In a frying pan. heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Once hot, spoon in a small ladleful of batter and keep in a small round shape.

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After 2-3 minutes, flip and cook the other side for the same amount of time. Repeat until you have around 8 pancakes.

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The result! I like to serve them with strawberries. Delicious!

Isn’t it time the fashion industry stop portraying skinny as normal?

If you know me, you’ll know I love fashion. I also love reading fashion magazines. At least I used to. But recently, when that month’s Vogue pops through my letterbox I’ve started to feel uneasy as I read it. Not just Vogue, but the majority of ‘fashion’ magazines are chock (that’s a word right?) full of adverts and models that are skinny. Not just slim, but unhealthily, unattainably skinny – ribs bared, hip bones jutting out, many, I’ve noticed recently, who look about 14. Why would I, a nearly 30 year old, desire to buy into a brand who uses models like this? I can’t relate to them.

What worries me more is, now that Aria is becoming more aware, the thought of her seeing these types of bodies as ‘the norm’ scares me to death. Why would I want my beautiful, healthy girl growing up thinking she has to look like this.

Other than Vogue, I’ve recently become a subscriber to Women’s Health and the contrast in images between this and the fashion magazines I used to pore over is vast. Healthy, strong women adorn the pages. Recipes that make me want to eat better, do more exercise and look after myself – for my health, not to be skinny. These are the types of images and messages I want my daughter to grow up with.

And, as the news comes today that an advert by Yves Saint Laurent has been banned for portraying a model who is unhealthily thin, it gives me hope that things could be changing and people won’t see these images as acceptable.

Don’t tell a parent they look tired

So this is a little bit of a ranty blog post. Sorry for being negative, but some things really do get my goat (where does that expression come from?!) and if you’re a parent, they probably get yours too. So instead of imploding from keeping in the mum rage, I thought why not blog about it!

Recently I’ve felt the best I’ve felt since having Aria, in fact since being pregnant…so we’re getting on for two years here. Since giving myself a kick up the bum to do some actual exercise, that doesn’t just involve wrestling Aria to the floor as she tries to crawl off after a massive dirty nappy, I’ve felt calmer, brighter and more energetic. More importantly, I’ve felt happier.

Just as you’re feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, feeling more confident with this parenting thing, thinking – “Yes! I am not completely useless. My child only had a tantrum once today,” some bloody “do-gooder” decides to utter the words “you do look tired.” Tired? TIRED?! Are you f**cking kidding me?! Now, is this just something people say for the sake of something to say to someone with a young child (Hubby thinks this is true), or are you doomed to look tired until your child turns 18. Actually, probably beyond that, as you spend your nights awake until they come home after a night out.

Either way, if you’re reading this and you’ve said this to a parent, STOP, stop now and think of something nice to say. Or keep your mouth shut.

What other things get on your nerves now you’e a parent? Leave me a comment below or tweet me at @Em_L_Smith

Thanks for reading!

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"Did you just tell my Mum she looks tired?"

“Did you just tell my Mum she looks tired?”

 

The weaning journey at 11 months and 16 days…

As I write this, my husband is trying to get Aria to eat chicken and butternut squash tagine. Lovingly made last weekend, this delicious meal doesn’t seem to appeal to my darling daughter’s tastebuds. How do I know? She’s behaving as if he’s trying to feed her poison, by squealing and wriggling, her face bright red as she tries to escape from her highchair.

This isn’t a rare occurrence and there have been many tears of frustration over the last 6 months or so since we started the weaning journey, and that was just from me!

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From the beginning, we’ve made all of Aria’s meals from scratch, using the Annabel Karmel book and making up a few of our own along the way. I think this has made it even more upsetting when she’s refused to eat them, as we’ve put a lot of effort into making sure she has the best we can offer. I’ve felt, at times, like it’s a personal insult when she’s refused food. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

As I’m sure mums reading this can sympathise, trying to get your child to eat a variety of meals is a challenge. There have been several days where Aria will refuse to eat anything from a spoon, only wanting to eat finger food. Then for a few weeks she’s loved everything we’ve offered – from cottage pie to salmon and broccoli with pasta. Now, we’re going through a fussy stage and I’m trying to remain calm.

Although I’m certainly no expert, I wanted to write a post that other mums could relate to and offer a few tips I’ve found have helped over the last 6 months of our weaning journey.

1. Offer finger food at every meal (and an extra spoon!)
Aria is very independent and loves to feed herself, including finger food and eating with a spoon, although her aim isn’t usually that great! I try to offer finger food that’s easy to hold, including homemade fish goujons, slices of cheese, cucumber sticks, homemade salmon footballs and sweet potato wedges. I also find this is a good distraction, as is letting her hold her own spoon, whilst I slip some food into her mouth unnoticed!

2. Use distraction
Aria loves Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom so we tend to have this on at meal times as, quite often, she is engrossed she will let me feed her. I know not everyone will agree with this method, but it often works!

3. Make meal times fun
Nobody likes to eat alone so I try to time our meals together as much as possible. Aria’s more likely to eat if she sees us eating, although she often wants what we have rather than her own food, and it makes it more social.

I’ve also recently discovered that Aria will take food from her spoon if I let her pig puppet ‘feed’ her. Strange but true!

4. Stay calm
Easier than it sounds but take a deep breath…..or ten. I found, not only was me getting wound up when Aria wouldn’t eat making me feel exhausted, it wasn’t making meal times a pleasurable experience for either of us. The more frustrated I became, the more Aria refused to eat. Now I just think – she won’t starve, so maybe today she’s just not as hungry as the day before. Like us, she’s not a robot when it comes to how much we want to eat on any certain day.

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What stage are you at on the weaning journey and what are your tips for staying calm?

Let me know in the comments below or tweet me at @Em_L_Smith

Thanks for reading,
Em xx