Thursday, 21 August 2014

Our Thursday Photo #15

Well, here we are at week 15 already. It is strange to think that by the time Libby was the age that Lia is now, I had gone back to work full time. I was commuting for just over an hour each way, getting up at 5 am to feed Libby and leaving the house at around 6.30 am. I would be back shortly before 6pm, to spend a short time with Libby before feeding her and putting her to bed. Lia seems so young and so dependent on me, I feel terribly guilty that Libby wasn't with me during the six weeks when I was back at work. 

I was incredibly lucky that I then found work that I could do from home, and I haven't looked back since. Whilst I am now doing different work, it remains an absolute godsend to be able to do it from home, so that I get to spend so much time with both children. 

Libby has been really well behaved this week, enjoying the different outings that we have had together. We never do anything too exciting or costly, but just enjoy short trips out and make the most of each other's company. Lia is also starting to pay a lot more attention to what's going on around her. It was particularly surprising for her when she woke up yesterday in her baby carrier and found herself face to face with a reindeer. 

This week's photo isn't the best I have taken, or even the best out of the few photos I took at this time. I did have a couple where the girls were both smiling and looking at the camera, but I love how this one shows how interested they are in each other these days. It is difficult to get either of them to focus on anything but each other when they are together. Long may it continue. Here is our Thursday Photo #15. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Our Thursday Photo #14

Week 14 has been all about sleep deprivation. Libby has always been an amazing sleeper. Really amazing. She slept through the night from the age of 8 weeks. She has a couple of hours sleep every afternoon as well, even now. Lia on the other hand, doesn't. 

Lia has never been one for sleeping and I don't think it's her fault. The problem is that we are always running around doing something with Libby, so it is really difficult to get Lia down for decent naps. Today I'm trying to get her to have a sleep this afternoon at the same time as Libby, but it's not going well. It seems that babies don't sleep so well when they get overtired, and as she doesn't sleep much during the day, she is exhausted by night time. She sleeps from around 8pm until around 2 am, but then she can be up another two times before we get up at around 7.30 to 8am. 

As I tend not to get to bed until around midnight (I often go running at around 10pm so can't sleep for a while after getting back), I'm really not getting much sleep at all. The sleep has got worse over the past few weeks. We had a few nights early on where she slept through, then she went to waking up once in the night and now we're up to two or three times. I don't know what I will do if it gets any worse, especially as I should be starting work soon. Any suggestions as to how to sort this out would be gratefully received. 

In the meantime, here is our Thursday photo #14 and I'm off to try to get Lia to sleep... again! 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Healthy alternatives

I've never been very good at diets, particularly because I suffer terribly from food envy. I hate the feeling that I'm missing out if someone else has something good to eat and I'm on a diet. As a consequence, I have to look for alternatives to dieting. These days, there is the added issue that I can't do a fad diet because I don't want Libby to see me eating like that, I would hate to give her body confidence issues just because she's seen me trying to lose a bit of baby weight. 

So as well as getting back into sport, I'm trying to make my diet a bit more healthy to shed the last few pounds of baby weight. I'm mainly doing this at breakfast and lunch, because evening meals are the time that we all sit down together and enjoy a nice meal and pudding. I'd rather stay fat than miss out on that! 

Two of the things that I really can't give up are ice cream and cake. As well as my usual sweet tooth, I'm finding that I'm craving sugar to keep me going on the lack of sleep. Lia still wakes up a couple of times in the night, which is a bit of a shock to the system as Libby was sleeping through from 8 weeks old. So I've come up with a couple of slightly healthier alternatives. 

First, the cake. A few weeks ago, I bought a juicer. There is nothing better than fresh juice, and having my own juicer allows me to use a lot of veg in the juice, rather than all sugary fruit. I tend to go for apple and beetroot or carrot and orange. I have tried a few other alternatives as well, and often put some fresh ginger, lemon or even herbs in with the juice. 

The only problem with a juicer is that after the juice has been made, there is quite a bit of waste. This takes the form of very finely grated fruit or veg and someone gave me the idea of making the waste into cake. 

So I don't have a recipe as such, but I take a good couple of handfuls of the juicer leftovers, make sure there are no lumps, pips or sharp bits in it and bung it in a mixing bowl. I visually add an amount of self-raising flour and dark brown sugar that look about the same amount as the juicer leftovers. To this, I add two eggs, a teaspoon of baking powder and some ground mixed spice. Then, I stir in enough vegetable oil to make the mixture nice and runny. After a good stir, it all goes in a lined cake tin in the middle of the oven at about 180 until it looks cooked. 

Sometimes I add a lemon drizzle, or use cocoa powder and dark chocolate to make it into a chocolate cake. The chocolate cake needs to still be slightly damp in the middle at the end of cooking or it can be a bit dry. If I don't use chocolate though, the cakes are fabulously moist and are always devoured by anyone I give them to, despite being somewhat healthier than your average cake! 

As for the ice cream, today Libby and I made some ice lollies using natural yoghurt, honey and frozen berries. I tend to prefer soya yoghurt, so I'd use that instead if we had some. The regular natural yoghurt tastes a bit sharper when frozen, so is much better when mixed with a generous amount of honey. The idea of making our own lollies was shamelessly stolen from my friend Maz on her fabulous blog. As you can see, Libby was rather happy with the result! 

I would love to hear of any other healthy recipe suggestions that can satisfy my sugar craving without being too unhealthy, please feel free to link to relevant posts on your own blog in the comments. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Getting fit... again!

The problem with having children (well, one of many...) is that after having each baby, I have found myself virtually back to square one with my fitness. It's also really difficult to get fit again when you have a baby that is breastfed, making it difficult to find time to go out and exercise. 

That's where running comes into its own. I have always loved swimming and even now I'm managing to go once a week, but running is just so much easier to fit in. I can be changed and out of the door for a 20 minute run and be back, showered and changed again and ready to feed the baby within half an hour. I also find it convenient to add a few stomach toning exercises onto the end of the run when I get home. 

I've managed to run 4-5 times a week for the last few weeks, along with one swim. Last week I managed a long run with a friend, which is going to become a weekly thing; we ran 7.25 miles across the hills. Alongside eating a little more healthily at breakfast and lunch, running has helped me to lose nearly all of the baby weight already, I've now got less than half a stone to go. I do intend to keep up with the weight loss though, I'm in the swing of it at the moment so it seems like a good time to lose a bit more. 

I'm not someone who can be inspired to train just to look good or lose weight though, there has to be something more than that. I haven't got time to train enough to do a fast time in a race this year, so I'm planning on waiting until next year and doing some aquathlons. The longer runs and triathlons will have to wait until I have a bit more time on my hands. In the meantime, I have discovered Parkrun, which seems like a great way to keep motivating myself to improve my 5k time. I've only been once so far but I can't wait to go again next week and try to beat my current Parkrun PB! 

The other little bit of motivation I'm going to use is my brand new Garmin watch, currently sitting at my neighbours house because it was delivered when I was out. I can't wait for them to get home so I can get my hands on it! 

Losing weight is much easier for me when breastfeeding, although I know it doesn't work like that for everyone. As I mentioned in a previous post, Lia will be weaned onto solids at 4 months, so I've just got four more weeks to make the most the weight loss that is the result of keeping her this chubby!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Our Thursday Photo #13

Unlucky for some, but Lia's 13th week has been fabulous. She has really developed this week, both physically and mentally. She is very clearly teething, which has led to her learning to grasp her toys (purely to put them in her mouth). She is also sitting nicely in her bumbo chair and has started to roll over from front to back. Perhaps most noticeable though is the fact that she has started to babble, quite noisily! She has obviously learned from Libby that the way to get noticed is to make a noise! 

Libby has also had a good week, we did her favourite outing yesterday - a trip on the train to get a milkshake at the station and watch the trains coming and going before we got the train home. She was allowed to choose anything she wanted to eat while we were there. She went for a rather crushed pack of plain digestive biscuits. Each to their own! She also did really well today at coping with disappointment. We were supposed to be meeting everyone from her playgroup at the park for a picnic, but couldn't go because the chap took longer than anticipated fitting a tow bar to our car. Remarkably, she wasn't at all upset when I said that we'd just go and eat the picnic in granddad's garden instead. In fact, she had a lovely lunch, especially as her aunties, granddad and two of their cats all came to join us. 

For me, the week has been hard work but quite satisfying. I managed to get out for a long run with a friend last night, running 7.25 miles across the hills. It took us ages because I'm really slow at the moment, but we made it and it was the furthest I'd run since the very early days of my pregnancy with Lia. We're off camping this weekend in our newly purchased folding camper. Fingers crossed the weather is kind! Here is our Thursday photo #13. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Future is Online

Yesterday when we were driving to Libby's singing group, our car radio was playing up and I ended up listening to a local radio station that we don't usually listen to. They were chatting about an opportunity that made me tune out of Libby's constant requests for "more music" and give the radio my full attention. They were looking for people to volunteer to live without their technology for a week. 

This got me thinking about how much we rely on technology these days. For me, it has been an absolute godsend. Virtually all of my work for the past two years has been done over the internet. I ran an internet based business, produced SEO content for various businesses and now I'm going back to the legal field to do some transcription work, still all internet based. This has allowed me to stay at home and look after my children myself, yet still hold down a full time job with the associated salary. 

For anybody running a business these days, technology is key. In particular, every business needs a good website, online marketing, SEO etc. etc. The only business person I can think of that survives entirely without a website is the chap that mends shoes and cuts keys in our local town. He's always busy because it's such a niche business, goodness knows how he'd cope with the extra business he'd generate through online marketing! For everyone else though, online presence is essential and finding someone to manage it can be the key to your success. Total Media Digital agency London are a great example of how outsourcing your online presence can be beneficial to a business. 

Could I live without technology? Yes. But it would mean that I couldn't work. That wouldn't be the end of the world these days, we would just about survive on one wage, but if I'm honest, I love working. Of course, I could go back to working away from the house, but even then, it would be unlikely that I would find a job that didn't utilise technology at all. The kids would have to go to full time childcare, and I would miss out on moments like this: 

So I for one am grateful for technology and I have no desire to give it up any time soon! 

Please note, I will be given a small gift for writing this post. Views, opinions, sumo babies and a love of working from home are all mine. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Making the cut - a knife review

I have been lucky enough to review a few products from Ozeri over the past few months and I am learning a lot about quality. All of the products I have reviewed have been of a much higher quality than anything I would have bought myself. That's why I was so delighted when I was asked to review a knife set, the Elite Chef Black Ceramic 3-Piece Knife Set. As you can imagine, I was even more delighted when they arrived and they were THIS shiny! 

The knives and the blades are black, and yet they are shiny enough to see my hands in on the photo! Anyway, enough about how shiny they are and on to the practicalities. 

Ceramic is nearly as hard as diamond, meaning that the knives are not only ultra sharp, but they will remain that way for ten times longer than metal blades. This sharpness is coupled with an ergonomic handle to make cutting incredibly straight forward. I always hate cutting hard vegetables and fruit, but it really is easy with these knives, taking no effort whatsoever. 

The other thing I like about these is the honesty of the manufacturers in terms of their limitations. As you can imagine, ceramic is extremely hard but is totally inflexible. This means that you have to keep them straight when cutting, as bending and rotating whilst putting pressure on the blade will cause it to snap. You also can't put them in the dishwasher, since they will chip if anything lands on them. Despite telling my husband this, he has already forgotten and put one in the dishwasher, resulting in a small chip in the blade. Mercifully, it hasn't made the knife any less effective, and they can be sharpened in the same way as regular blades, which will get the chip out. 

Needless to say, I am delighted with these knives, which were sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. However, I won't be throwing away all of my metal knives, as I will still need them for cutting that can't be done without the risk of bending the blade.