Monday, 29 October 2012

Colour my world

In an attempt to be crafty last week, I created a stained glass window for my soon-to-be toddler. He has made me see the world differently, so I figured it was time to repay the favour.

It's simply coloured cellophane cut to size and sticky taped to one of our windows, but it has altered an everyday view into something a little more extraordinary. With one row at crawling height (he's sitting, rocking forward, wriggling backwards, but I'm sure a proper crawl is coming soon) and another at standing height, it has been an intriguing addition to our lounge room for this little adventurer.

It has made me wonder even more what he must think of this world. I see a courtyard in need of a sweep, he might see an exotic jungle teeming with birds, twinkling webs and butterflies. I see shrubs and vines, he might see a green kaleidoscope of mint, olive, forest green and lime on every leaf.

Well, now he sees pink leaves too!

*Do you have any crafty ideas for toddlers you'd like to share?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A new focus for Latte Mum

I need to get something off my chest.

When I started writing Latte Mum three months ago, I had every intention of writing post after positive post detailing my time as a mum. I thought it would be interesting to share the fun things I did with my new baby, like endless coffee catch ups, picnics and beachside frolics. I really didn't want this to be a forum for D&M's and airing dirty laundry.

I've changed my mind.

Perhaps it's the pages of posts or the hormones or something about the little guy that's come into my life, but suddenly life is making more sense. As such I've decided I no longer want to talk about "things", because motherhood to me is most definitely not about things. It's about soul, feelings, heartache, inspiration, harmony, joy, love, and piles of dirty laundry (because who wants to do that when there are giggles to exchange, cheeks to kiss, blocks to stack and new food to taste).

Why the change? Well firstly, Latte Mum has reawakened the writer in me. I'd forgotten that writing is one of the few ways I can make everything in my head and heart make sense, and I've really missed it. As you may have picked up through my ever evolving posts, I am on a little journey here. OK, a massive one. And I guess I'm figuring this all out as I go.

Secondly, while I've been living it up in Mummy World I've realised I can't imagine ever going back to a life that's organised, ordered, colour-coded, buttoned up. I'm sure there are perfect mothers out there raising angelic children, but I for one am enjoying life on this side of the fence, where things are a little chaotic, mostly unplanned, and definitely ruled by the heart instead of the head.

So, selfishly I've decided to indulge myself and change my focus slightly. While I vow to keep the overall tone of this place positive (just because that's who I am), and will still share activity ideas, bits of advice and anything else that's useful, I'm also going to share the words being written on my heart too.

Ultimately I want to write with a purpose, and share the things that matter (however big or small). So if it doesn’t help you, give you an idea, make your life easier, open your mind to new possibilities, make you think or make you smile – I won't post it.

*What is your heart telling you today?

Friday, 19 October 2012

rock a [maternity] frock

It's baby season. Yep, it seems to be that time in our lives when more buns seem to be cooking in more ovens, and I have loved watching my gorgeous girlfriends blossom into yummy mummys.
As I've been one of the first to tread this daunting path and I'm not shy in sharing my humble opinion (can't you tell?!), I've been asked for advice on everything from baby monitors to breastfeeding to labour. So I thought I'd share what I tell my friends on one of the more popular topics... clothes that fit that baby bump and work for breastfeeding too.

I'm not a fashion stylist, just an everyday girl that has been known to rock a frock or two over the years, so from one friend to another there may be some tips and ideas here that make sense to you...

Buying for the bump...
Before you go crazy with the credit card you may already own pieces that will fit as you grow, like longer lycra tops, floaty loose fitting camisoles, maxi dresses and cardigans or jackets to add layers.
You can then invest in a few key maternity pieces such as: maternity jeans, a tank top or two, a pretty top that you can dress-up and perhaps a dress (instant outfit). If you're in the corporate world, a pair of stretchy black pants and a pretty skirt that you can mix and match with tops will probably be enough to see you through until you go on maternity leave. Leggings and trackies are great for the weekends too. Don't be afraid to wear clothes that hug your gorgeous curves and show off the bump!
My top tip: When buying specific "maternity" wear, look for pieces you can easily breastfeed in too so you can get some more mileage out of them. Generally anything that's a crossover top, or has buttons or a low bust line is ideal (basically, if you can pull the top down or across to expose a breast, it will work)!
I still wear these maternity numbers: Black casual wrap dress, long maxi dresses with oversized bag and shawl
What to wear when the baby's here...
I've written a bit about this here already. I found I enjoyed my maternity wardrobe for months after the little one arrived (partly because my body was still adjusting and partly because I loved some of the pieces too much to give them up). It's also fun getting reacquainted with old favourites slowly but surely. Note to self for next time around: remember you've just had a baby and your body needs time to recover, so there's no point popping a button and getting disheartened when you can wear your maternity jeans and be comfy for a few more months!
Lift your spirits by popping on some bright nail lacquer (news flash - nails are immune to baby weight, and a quick lick of paint gives an instant feel of pampering) and accessories, and feel free to keep your mummy make-up to a minimum. Naomi at [Not] Just a Mummy has some great tips on how to get a fresh and pretty look with minimum fuss here - great for those days when you want to look and feel great but can't be bothered with make-up (which, let's be honest, is most days). 
If you haven't already, invest in a couple of maternity bras and also a soft cup strapless that you can wear with maxis. These and breast pads will become your bosom buddies!

My top tip: Raid your bag collection and utilise one of your larger ones as your nappy bag. I found I had a few that worked just as well as the expensive ones in the baby shops. Also, dig out your wraps/shawls to use as automatic privacy shields when breastfeeding in public.

Great for breastfeeding: Stripey maternity tank, cream cardy, Seraphine knit with buttons, with nappy bag and bright accessories

*Please feel free to comment if you have any style tips you'd like to share or maternity shops you can recommend x

Monday, 15 October 2012

Life Lessons

I thought I knew a bit about life and myself, but it seems that while my baby son has been learning how to clap, crawl and catch, I've been learning a lot too.

I've learnt I'm a worrier and a warrior, but I'm being more of the latter and doing less of the former.
I care more about others than I do myself, but that's not a bad trait for a mother to have.
Writing makes my soul sing, but only when I'm the client.
And there's no point in having a nice car if you don't have a happy family to drive around in it.

I thought life was about survival, but here in Mummy World it's about love.

Lately I've been wondering when the bubble will burst and I'll wake up in the real world. Back in a world more complicated, less forgiving, with smaller hearts and not as much light.

But maybe this is the real world, and I've finally arrived. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Surviving the first stages of parenthood

It doesn't matter what you read, who you talk to or how many classes you attend, nothing can truly prepare you for the rollercoaster ride you embark on as a new parent.

I'm only 9-months in but have soared, dipped and loop-the-looped more times than I can count. I've been so joyful I've cried, I've been so exhausted I've wept, I've been so amused I've thrown my head back and laughed so hard my neighbours heard. It has been fun, crazy, rewarding, amazing. And as I near the end of my first year as a mum, I've been thinking about the stages I've survived thus far...

I was thinking: I know I'd be feeling euphoric if I wasn't so tired and overwhelmed, so I better plaster a smile on my face so everyone knows I'm happy. Is that gorgeous little bundle really mine?
I was saying (to the midwives): "What do you mean 'sleep'? How can I when he could stop breathing at any moment?! Are you really going to let me go home with him all by myself, with no midwives to help with feeding in the middle of the night?!"
Survival tip: Learn, love, don't be too hard on yourself and sleep when the baby sleeps. Yep, that old chestnut. I decided I needed to clean, bake cookies and paint my nails when the baby was sleeping, but next time around I'll be favouring the pillow over housewife duties.

Me 200,000 hours old, my baby 1 hour old

Stage 2 - LOOK AT ME!
I was thinking: It's getting easier, and I'm actually doing this! I still have time for showers, cooking, cleaning and book reading in between the feeds and nappy changing - am I missing something?!
I was saying (to everyone via Facebook, 20 times a day): "Look at me, breastfeeding like a pro in public and coordinating my nail polish with the pram to walk my baby round the block. And look at my baby, sleeping through the night at such a young age and reaching all his milestones early."
Survival tip: DON'T. No one likes a show off and now you've attracted an audience to watch while you do a plunging looping corkscrew!

At the races, as you do when you have a 3-month-old and you're in Stage 2

I was thinking: OK, so I've had the occasional weekend where I barely slept but I've never neglected myself this badly. Just a couple of hours sleep a day in however many days is really starting to catch up to me.
I was saying (to my husband): "Why can't you do the breastfeeding?" "I don't know how much longer I can do this for" "I just need some me time".
Survival tip: Thankfully this stage went quickly for me, and just when you think you're going to fall asleep standing up, the baby gods smile down upon you and allow you a full nights rest. You'll wake up with dewy skin, clear eyes, no headache and feel like you could conquer the world.

No more weekend sleep-ins

I was thinking: Finally! This is what I had imagined motherhood to be like. The chubby hand reaching up to touch my face, his big blue eyes looking trustingly into mine, the little games he plays with his toys, the uncontrollable giggling. Oh the giggling. The days of picnic playdates and lunch by the beach with my little boy stretch endlessly in front of me. Bliss!
I was saying (to my friends): "Isn't the world amazing, aren't children so precious, don't you just love motherhood!" "When and where shall we meet up?" (I started Latte Mum in this stage, can you tell?!)
Survival tip: Enjoy every moment.

This moment is perfect

Stage 5 -  HEAD SPIN
I am thinking: Whoa, where did my newborn baby go? I've woken up to a toddler standing in the cot, with a mouth full of chompers, a head of hair and a cheeky personality. He's even discovered likes and dislikes, and, his voice.
I am saying (to the bambino): "Be careful with that" "yes, mama and dada" "good boy!" "nooooo, give that to mummy" "what are you getting into over there?" "weeeeeee weeeeeee weeeeeee!"
Survival tip: Please, tell me!

My cheeky little boy (on the right) with his mate Harrison
Stage 6 - to be discovered, and I just can't wait to see what's round the corner!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Anywhere but here

After a day of cooler weather favouring the indoors, I'm feeling a little caged. The walls of our townhouse are closing in and our dark downstairs lounge designed to stay cool in the summer is starting to get me down.

Despite saying this earlier in the week, no amount of positive talking will make me feel better. I need to get out. Thank goodness for this sunny Sunday.

The little one is awake with the birds again, but that's technically an hour later this morning thanks to daylight savings. I feel like we're off to a good start.

After breakfast and a quick shower, I slather myself in the sunscreen we bought when we were in the South of France, the one that smells of holidays. I slap on some make-up, pretending like I have a date with someone important. I pull my favourite maxi dress off its hanger, knowing it's probably too cool to wear it, but I just want to pretend I'm anywhere but here. I grab a warm cardy as an after thought. I pack up the baby, and shove everything else into the pram, before opening the front door and bumping us down the steps.


My oversized sunnies hide my tired eyes, and it really does feel therapeutic to have the sun on my face once again. I flick my iPod to a playlist I made when I was at uni, and march to the beat en route to the leafy park that is my destination.
© Capturednuance | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
The sunscreen scent, old-school tunes and blue skies make a delicious combination, and we reach the park in what feels like lightening speed. After a large skim latte pick-up and quick swing in the playground, I choose a shady spot with a water view and fluff out the picnic rug. I get comfy before reading a chapter or two of Fifty Shades on my kindle, stopping from time to time to help my baby boy get a toy that's out of reach or give him a sip of water. I imagine, just for a second, that I'm reading poolside with a cocktail nearby.

We reach home a couple of hours later after a wonderful morning out and about, and the house doesn't seem as small anymore. It's only when I walk in the front door that I realise I'm not on holiday. A little escapism never hurt anyone, right?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Lightbulb moment

Perspective is a wonderful thing.

I haven't always been a glass-half-full person, but after a series of wonderful and disastrous occurrences in my life I decided to live with as much passion, laughter and gusto as I can muster (minus the self-help audio tapes).

Don't get me wrong. I am not about to set forth to conquer Everest or visit Antarctica or even run a marathon. I just want to be a good person; to leave this life feeling like I didn't stuff up too much. And if I know I can influence whether a moment has a negative or positive impact by simply viewing it differently, then I should try and view everything through those positive Prada sunglasses, right?!

This may seem obvious to some of you, but it really has been a lightbulb moment for me.

The rain on our wedding day couldn't dampen my spirits...
These days the challenges are plentiful and sometimes confronting, and with a busy 9-month-old to entertain all day every day, I'm in hot pursuit of positivity like never before...

For example, when the little one is hungry and awake with the birds at 5am, instead of listening to the pounding headache behind my eyes and cursing about how "I'm not a morning person", I try to cherish and look forward to this early-morning breastfeed. It's the first time in hours that I get to walk into the room-that-smells-like-babies and give him a cuddle. I get to see the sun slowly rising in the morning sky, hear the birds calling out to each other, and check if there are blue skies ahead. Us non-morning people never get to do this usually! This morning ritual wakes me almost as much as the coffee that will soon follow.

And as I dodge the pram and highchair to get to the kitchen, I could get frustrated at the lack of space in our shrinking 2 bedder (and sometimes I do). Instead, I think about how it will only take one hour to clean this house from top to bottom which means more time for stories and play. At the end of the day, that house deposit we've been busy saving will be spent on a family home someday soon and then I'll be cursing the extra bathroom and bedroom (and child) I have to clean!

And so on and so forth, you get the idea. At the end of the day, I've realised I would choose this life a million times over because it led me to this partner, this child, this me. So I may as well get on with it, as chipper as I can possibly manage on a few hours sleep! Thank goodness for caffeine.

Tell me, how do you chase your positive mummy vibes?
Disclaimer: I have written this post on a good day, when the birds did tweet this morning, I got all the housework done and had time to write before heading to bed (if I was having one of those hideous days when it was hard to get... out... of... bed, I'm sure this post wouldn't have been as rosy) xx