Sunday, 23 October 2016

Navigating Pregnancy with a Toddler: Confessions of a Mediocre Parent

I'm sure many people can relate to the ridiculously high standards you set yourself as a parent with your first born child. From the moment you find out you are pregnant you start developing what I now retrospectively look back on as 'notions'. These 'notions' are the things you are certain you will never do when you have your own baby. They are the sugar coated goals you aspire to, as the perfect parent. You have a strict set of ideas about how you will do things, what your choices as a parent will be and are very definite with yourself that you will never do 'this' and never do 'that'. Ah yes, this all sounds very familiar to me, I was that soldier. I was filled with these said 'notions'. I was sure I'd stick to my guns and everything would play out just as I had planned. Oh how wrong I was. I have to say I admire naive, pregnant for the first time me, so oblivious to the reality of the journey ahead. Then of course to top it all off, 10 months in I decided to do something to make things that much easier on myself, I only went and got pregnant. Genius.

12 Things Being Pregnant with a Toddler has Taught Me
  1. Feeling sick for 14 weeks leads to mediocre parenting coupled with no will to live. When said sickness and nausea finally ends, feeling guilty for being a shitty parent for a further 6 weeks is likely.
  2. Sometimes the easy option is the only option: 'Oh you don't want the homemade organic meal I prepared for you?'...'Grand, here have a bit of cheese'.
  3. 20 minutes of television in the morning did not cause my toddler to spontaneously combust. I have now accepted this fact and made peace with it. 
  4. It's ok to accept the help of family and not always have your shit together. When they say they don't mind, I'm pretty sure they mean it.
  5. Bringing your child for a walk on a lead like a dog becomes a necessity, despite how weirdly hilarious it feels. My inability to walk, not to mention run made this a must. 
  6. Teaching your toddler to mimic the dog whilst climbing the stairs is genius, despite the dog like scratching and spontaneous barking that goes with it. When you live in a 3 story house with 4 sets of stairs you come to realise carrying your 2 stone toddler when 9 months pregnant probably isn't the best idea. Sure who doesn't love the odd dog like mannerism anyway.
  7. The sympathy train left the station back when No.1 was born, and my other half is so wrapped up in how tired he is with our terrific toddler, I'm pretty sure he forgets I'm growing human life most of the time.
  8. Tears. There have been lots of them. Mostly mine. Being hormonal matched with chronic tiredness does make you act a little crazy....though you will never openly admit this despite the fact you frequently find yourself thinking how unhinged you sound. Toddlers don't have time for Mommy's deep rooted emotional episodes, in fact they sniff this type of weakness out and tend to go toddler 2.0 on these days to see if they can break you.
  9. Lowering your standards is probably advisable. Laundry, dishwasher, tidying away toys. As a self confessed clean freak, this took me some time to get used to. Now don't get me wrong, things still get tidied and put away every evening, I just have to fight the daily urge to continuously walk around after my toddler like a personal one woman clean up crew, persistently clearing the trail of destruction he leaves behind.
  10. Teaching your toddler to love cleaning and tidying is the best thing imaginable. In the last few weeks, Luke has come to love playing with the pan and brush more than his cars. He hoovers along side me, cleans up spills with a cloth and frankly is weirdly enthusiastic about checking the floor for dirt and putting said dirt in the bin. Did you know tidying up toys is also the highlight of playtime? These skills have been nurtured through my inability to bend, my flare up of pregnancy related self-pity, with a touch of a genetic predisposition to get shit done. Yesterday at his grandparents I found him out on the lawn sweeping up leaves with a pan and brush.....let's just say that kept him busy for a while.
  11. Your toddler's nap time will become your nap time. I fondly recall in pregnancy number one, hitting the couch every time I let out a little yawn. Obviously with a toddler in tow, you dare not turn your back not to mention close an eye in their waking hours. Sneaky nap times in the afternoon will become your much longed for golden hour in the late stages of pregnancy. You will long for these naps and should feel in no way guilty about this. Adult naps are the business.
  12. The intermittent guilt about your terrible eating habits will haunt you. Feeding your toddler obviously becomes the priority which often leads to you forgetting to eat at all or eating absolute rubbish. The weird thing being I love eating, it's definitely up there with my favourite things to do. But pregnancy makes me behave like a small child left unsupervised in a sweet shop. Regarding skittles as 5 of your 5 a day, drinking milk as an alternative to eating (sure if it works for babies?) and falling asleep before actually making or eating dinner have become shamefully common occurrences. Then hitting the pregnacare and iron tablets hard in the hope that they counteract some of the irresponsible carnage you have inflicted upon your body that day. The worst thing is waking up the next morning and actually believing you will do better.
All in all as I reflect back on this pregnancy I recognise the stark differences between pregnancy number one and pregnancy number two. Has there been a steep learning curve and a harsh collision with reality? Absolutely. That said, I also recognise that good enough really is good enough, and for my own sanity I have happily come to terms with this. At the end of every day I have a little face smiling back at me that reminds me my mediocrity is just fine. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

8 Things I Wish I'd Known When Having a Baby

So I find myself in the familiar position of lying on my left side on the couch, doing a pretty good impression of Moby Dick the last few days. Sleeping more than is acceptable during the day. Eating like a starved gremlin and frankly I've taken my resting bitch face to a whole new level.....I, ladies and gentlemen, am 39 weeks pregnant and frankly need baby No.2 to get his act together and move out. 

Pregnancy is amazing. Hands down, it's one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced, and second time round is no exception. Growing human life is an honour and a great privilege and seeing how a little human grows over time is undoubtedly fascinating and awe inspiring. That said, pregnancy is also lots of other things like tiring, a bit gross at times, frustrating and let's face it, scary. In all honesty, first time round I came to learn the less glamorous side of pregnancy and birth and so I feel way more prepared for this time. They say ignorance is bliss, and boy were they right. That said, I really wish I'd gotten the heads up on some of the "glamour" associated with the end stages of pregnancy and what was really going to go down once I got to the hospital. As I sit here, over-analysing every twitch and stitch wondering if it's showtime, I find myself thinking back to St.Patrick's day 2015, when Luke made his entrance to the world. 19 months have passed, and I can report that I'm definitely older, and I think a little wiser on what to expect. So I've compiled a list of eight things I wish I'd known when heading to the hospital.

1. The Dignity
The prep work, I remember it well. From painting my toenails, to shaving my legs and moisturising said legs, the grooming and preparation that I underwent before my trip to the hospital knew no bounds. Sure things weren't necessarily going to be pleasant, but my nails and hair would be in check. As the day progressed, and the contractions set in, my make up slowly slid away, my hair looked more fuzzy than curled and in fairness if I hadn't shaved my legs in a year, I'm pretty sure the midwife or the consultant wouldn't have noticed. Just to note here, I would be discreet in my dressing habits, by no means an exhibitionist by nature. This is probably why my lasting memory of my time in the hospital was just after Luke entered the world, lying with essentially no clothes on in the middle of the delivery suite, being washed down by a really lovely care assistant with the equivalent of a j-cloth. I remembering turning to my midwife and laughing saying 'Jesus I'm glad I painted my toenails for this'. The first time they examined me I was nervous and a little embarrassed, definitely self conscious. Skip forward 4 hours, half a tank of gas and air and an epidural later and I would have invited the Queen herself along to have a look, you just stop caring and relax. Remind yourself, they have seen it all. That said there's nothing wrong with a bit of make-up or nail painting along the way if it makes you feel less gross on the day, but don't be putting yourself under ridiculous pressure and be getting in any way worried about it.

2. The Time
People love to retell their labour stories like war stories. In fairness, who doesn't love a little embellishment and drama to spruce up a good story. I remember before labour hearing how quickly or horrendously slowly labour went for different people. I remember wondering how on earth could you survive it going on that long?! I was induced early in the day and went into proper labour at 3pm. Luke was born 12 hours later. When I say that 12 hours flew, I mean it absolutely flew, I haven't a clue what even happened in that time. So although it sounds like an awful long time, time ticks away and you get to know your midwife very well because you spend a lot of time chatting. I had an epidural, so once that kicked in for a good part of that time I was quite comfortable and capable of full on conversation.

3.The Tiredness
I arrived at the hospital at 8am the morning Luke was being induced. I didn't give birth until 3 am the next morning and it was after 4am when I got back to the ward. Factor in an hour of pushing, the aftermath of an epidural and being awake for 21 hours, to say I was tired is a slight understatement. I remember just getting into bed in the ward, Luke being wheeled alongside me, my husband being sent home and the midwife telling me to set an alarm on my phone as I would have to feed the baby again in two hours. I felt broken. I had never felt such tiredness and all I wanted to do was cry. But I did what she said, and I woke and he fed and although those memories are vague and hazy, sleep deprivation is a feature of parenthood and I came to realise the amazing things my body could do with little or no sleep.

4. Babies are Terrifying
I remember when my husband left after I got back to the ward and it was just Luke and I for the first time, feeling an overwhelming sense of terror. This tiny person was my responsibility, and frankly I hadn't a clue what I was at. Throughout my pregnancy I worried I wouldn't take to the whole 'motherhood' gig. I was never the type to throw myself at people with babies and goo and gah at how lovely they were. In all honesty I kind of thought all babies looked the same, and my inherent fear of dropping someone else's baby led me to become the one who admired babies from afar. Now here I was, alone in a hospital, responsible for 'my' baby. I won't lie, I shed a fear tears and had a mini internal melt down but then swiftly got my shit together. Once the hormones settled down, the sleep deprivation eased and it dawned on me just how amazing this little thing was, the terror was promptly replaced with pride and excitement.  

5. The Day After
During labour and birth you are most definitely on a high (not just from gas and air), fight or flight kicks in and you instinctively know that you will get through it all, and afterwards its a hazy blur of a day with the ultimate ending being the arrival of a mini person. And as my due date approached I remember anxiously playing out all the scenarios of what might happen during D day. What I never really thought about was the next day. And for me the next day was tough, really tough. I was in a lot of pain, I was sleep deprived, I had a little person who was reliant on my failing body for food, I was cranky, hormonal and overly sensitive. I remember my Mom coming to see me and whispering to her 'I am broken....I will never be right'. She smiled and reassured me that I would, and sooner than I thought. Needless to say she was right and once I got through that day and the beacon of hope that was discharge the next day began to shine all was right in the world again and I was a little less broken and a little more together every day that week.

6. The Shower
After giving birth and once I was back on my feet I remember craving a shower just so I could feel like a human again. That said I had never really given much thought as to how difficult having a shower was going to be. Given that I could barely walk, couldn't bend and had stitches in unimaginable places I was unsure as to how things were going to go down. You're warned and encouraged to shower often to avoid infection and the likes, but it's not like home, the shower head isn't exactly detachable (for obvious reasons) and now really 
wasn't an opportune time for me to bust out the yoga moves, mostly because I was physically unable to walk straight, don't mind bend. I was terrified of what had gone on down there just hours previously and touching said area was a no go because of the pain. I wish someone had warned me of this, given me the heads up or mentioned how underwhelming and unsatisfying my first post baby shower would be. I also wish someone had thought to tell me to bring a squirty water bottle into said shower with me so I could have avoided the stress.

7. The Adult Nappy 
Could I ever be truly prepared for the love I would feel for a ginormous green maternity pad? Probably not. I remember shopping in Boots with my Mom before the arrival of Luke and being horrified at the sheer size of a maternity pad and in all honesty not really comprehending what I would need it for. I was edging towards the discreet 'slim' maternity pads and was a little irked at my mothers amusement when she practically forced me to buy the industrial looking ones. Let's just say I thanked her after. They may not be pretty, but they sure are cushioned, and although I assure you it won't last I definitely felt 'delicate' for a few days and these bad boys were very much appreciated. A midwife mentioned to me in the hospital to try and avoid plastic coated backing on said pads they can prevent 'breath-ability' and encourage infection. The Medicare brand are used in the hospital and can be picked up in pharmacies and are definitely your best bet.

8. The Love 
And so I sit here, patiently awaiting the arrival of number two. A mixture of excitement and apprehension. And as Luke runs around the room singing me a questionably recognisable rendition of Twinkle Twinkle, I am reminded how I hadn't a clue just how much I was going to fall in love with this person. The love is overwhelming. The love is intense. The love is your reward for all the bloody hard work you put in to bringing this amazing person into the world.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Chronicling Baby Moments & Memories

So as hard as it is to believe, Luke is going to be 10 months tomorrow. As I near the 17th of each month (Luke was born on St.Patricks Day) I get excited about doing our signature milestone photograph to mark the month gone by. Since Luke was born the focus of my camera lens seems to have made a shift from mouth watering food to 'aw' inducing baby. With this shift has come lots of cool ideas, challenges and rituals which I have been pretty good about keeping up in the last 10 months. 

Chronicling the journey of a little person is a big responsibility and not one I take lightly I'll let you know! I have such fond memories of growing up with countless photo albums of my brother and I, as my mother was constantly photographing us as kids. As a newbie mother in the digital camera age I now have such respect for her commitment to the task. Preserving memories is an important task that requires commitment, time and effort. That said it is also one of the most fun and rewarding things I now get to do in my day to day life!

This evening I thought I'd share some of my photo tasks which I set myself from week to week. Below are the 3 photo tasks which I have been really committed to since Luke came along.

1. Milestone Picture Cards
2. Month by Month Montage
3. Lifecake

Milestone Baby Cards
If you are looking for an alternative gift to give someone who has just had a baby......get them this little pack of memory making magic! I absolutely adore these cards. They are pretty, gender neutral (meaning you could use them for baby No.2 or 3!) and are such a lovely way of chronicling your little person's big achievements. As they say 'a picture says a thousand words'. The pack includes monthly milestone cards along with once off achievements like rolling, sitting and standing for the first time. I picked these cards up in Boots pharmacy although I have also seen them on Amazon. At €14.99 they aren't the cheapest thing you will pick up but as far as I'm concerned money well spent in the memory making department.


Month by Month Montage
When I found out I was pregnant with Luke, I committed to this great idea that I would take photos of myself week by week during my pregnancy and continue when he was born for his first year of life. Fast forward a few weeks to when gruelling morning sickness struck and with that my commitment along with my will to live went out the window. I instead decided to set a more realistic goal of taking a monthly photo (which I set up the same from month to month) so we could monitor how Luke changed in his first year of life. I picked up these magnetic letters and numbers in the early learning centre and with the help of a neutral background in the form of a cream blanket I was all set. I set up the photo the same each month and for his first birthday I plan on picking up a 12 picture wall frame to show off the shots. I love looking at the changes with each picture we take.This has been a really fun task to do with him on the 17th of each month, though I'm sure you can see the older he gets, the more difficult it is to get him to lay still!




Lifecake
Lifecake is the app that for me literally changed everything. Made by the clever people over at Canon, Lifecake revolutionises how you can share your personal photos with family whilst keeping them safe and backing them up at the same time. Its basically a timeline from birth. When you add a photo the app recognises what date it was taken and immediately places it in chronological order on your baby/child's timeline. The great thing about this is you can upload old photos in bulk and the app will place them in the correct order for you. You can download Lifecake to your phone, tablet and access it from you PC. It's completely private and only those you personally invite can see your photos. For me this app has been an absolute god send. Between two sets of first time doting grandparents and a brother in Australia, the 'love' and comment features mean that everyone can get in on the baby admiring together! And of course I forgot to mention you can upload videos too. The first 10GB of space are free and then there is a very reasonable annual subscription fee. That said if you invite friends and they sign up and start using Lifecake for their little one you can earn 1GB free space! So make sure to share the love!

  

E-D's Top Tips
  • When taking photos of your little one try and choose neutral non-fussy backgrounds if you can - this will really make your photos all about your baby and not about what's going on behind them.
  • Don't be afraid to use your computer photo editor so you can mix it up with some black/white and sepia shots.
  • Try and pick a date about the same time each month to capture a few special shots. This makes for lovely 'ah remember him then' material and ensures you have a snapshot in time for each month of their first year.
  • Make sure you back up all your photos!!!! I can't stress this enough, particularly if they are on your phone. This may seem obvious but in the age of mobile phones being our go to camera, a lost phone can result in losing a whole lot of memories which would be devastating. If you are not overly organised or committed to being pedantic about backing up your shots then Lifecake will be your perfect solution.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Christmas at No.3

Anyone who knows me, knows my obsession with the festive period and how I like to go all out to create a winter wonderland in our home. This has really been a running tradition since I moved out of home at 17 and went to university. Since this time I have been collecting all matters of Christmas paraphernalia to, quite literally, deck the halls with. This year is a very special year in terms Christmas as although it's our second Christmas in No.3 last year the house was in a semi-state of construction which took from my efforts a little. This year is obviously Luke's first Christmas too and it's so lovely watching his little face light up at all the sparkle and twinkly lights. This evening I decided to take a few photos of my efforts along with some of my favourite Christmas finds this year.

Our newest additions to the tree this year include a personalised snowman decoration I got from Trim the Tree for €13 with our names and the year. I also picked up these lovely gold letters on a 3 for 2 offer in Marks and Spencer that retailed for €1.75. For our main tree I always opt for traditional gold, red and green with warm white lights.


For the hallway banister this year I opted to use fresh ivy from the garden as the garland because I was so disappointed with the quality and ridiculous prices of the garlands this year in the shops. I love that I was able to incorporate some of the garden into this years Christmas display and it has lasted perfectly! I brightened it up with silver bobbles and cool white lights to tie in with the greys of our hallway. In our upstairs windows I bought some dowel in Woodies DIY and wrapped it in some coloured ribbon and battery operated lights. I then suspended some bright bobbles and stars I picked up cheaply in Pennys and I just love how they look from the inside and out.

            

A fresh Christmas wreath is a must for me and I picked ours up on Moore Street for €6, what a bargain. I attached some battery operated lights and a ceramic Santa Stop Here sign I made last year in my Moms ceramic studio. 

 

We have two cribs at No.3, one is a Willow Tree crib I splurged on about three years ago and the second is very special as Michael's Nana knit it for us and gave it to us as a gift. We have one in our hallway as you come in the door and the knitted crib has pride of place in our living room. I decided to incorporate some ivy into the Willow Tree Crib along with some battery operated lights to brighten up our hall space. I picked up the beautiful hand carved tree at a local craft fair last year which I love.
I am a firm believer that beautiful does not need to mean expensive and during my browsing this year I came across a huge range of decorations which look incredible and had reasonable price tags to match. I always feel decorations are an investment as you will have them every year and they somehow preserve a memory that you get to relive each Christmas when you root them out.                                                                                                                                         Some of my favourite pieces on our tree are handmade and personalised by my Mom. She makes beautiful porcelain decorations and personalizes our names and the year every Christmas. So each year I have an extra shiny porcelain decoration to admire. Now for a hot port, so I can sit back and enjoy my handy work.

What E-D Does Now

Incredibly a whole year has passed since I last posted and to say a lot has happened in that time would be an understatement. Life as I knew it is a distant memory and Michael and I have been lucky enough to move into our new, very old house and welcome the best little person imaginable, Luke. 'E-D Does It' has been a part of my life since 2012 and the last few weeks I've really been thinking about all the work and effort I have put into the site over the last few years. With that in mind I feel it would be a pity to hang up the oven gloves just yet. So I'm back, but perhaps in a different way this time around. Given the significant changes in my life since my last post, my content will be reflecting my new found priorities and passions as well as my love for the kitchen. So as it happens E-D Does a lot more than cooking these days and so I will be sharing insights into parenthood, my life with Luke, home, interiors, our adventures in photography as well as my culinary escapades. Thanks for your continued support in my year of absence and here's to what E-D did next.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Fresh Lemony Lemonade

So I'll go ahead and state the obvious that it has been more than a little while. Life has been getting in the way for the last few months and without saying too much with a mini Molly on the way in March, things have been hectic. Minimal baking, cooking or creativity to be reported and to be quite honest 'E-D' hasn't been 'doing' too much in the kitchen at all. But the haze of eternal sickness has now lifted, energy levels are beginning to recover, I can happily report, I am alive, feeling great and reporting for duty.

I blew the dust of my Canon at the weekend, dug out my tripod and re-familiarised myself with a supermarket, I am happy to report, it felt good getting back in the saddle. Why Lemony Lemonade in November you ask? Well although I would agree it is indeed more of a summer sizzler thirst solution, red wine isn't on the cards at the moment, and anything drinkable that attacks by taste buds is a welcome distraction to the absence of alcohol at Sunday lunch.


Fresh Lemony Lemonade

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1 cup lemon juice (approx 3 large lemons)
3 cups of cold water (to dilute)

Method
1. Start by making the sugar syrup. Add the sugar to 1 cup of water and place in a 
    saucepan. Continue to heat until all of the sugar has dissolved. Add the zest of two  
    lemons to the syrup when heating for extra zing.
2. Meanwhile, juice the lemons.
3. Strain the sugar syrup solution and pour into a large pitcher. Add the lemon juice, and 
    cold water a little at a time, tasting as you go for the perfect level of bitter/sweetness for
    your taste buds.
4. Serve over ice with a straw.

Simple as it may seem, no matter what time of the year, nothing beats freshly made lemonade. The key is dissolving the sugar over heat, otherwise when you add it to the lemonade solution all the sugary goodness sinks to the bottom. Make sure you add a few slices of fresh lemon for the wow factor and hold on to a few pretty jars to serve it for the ultimate non-alcoholic treat.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Spotted Zebra Birthday Cake

This evening I thought I would share this funky 30th birthday cake I put together for a friends birthday a couple of weeks ago. Shopping, fitness and fun were what I was given as a brief and here is what I came up with. This cake is made up of an 8inch base, 5 inch middle tier and 3 inch top tier. I opted for red velvet as the bottom and largest tier and chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing for the other two. 

I created a zebra print effect on the bottom tier by layering black and white fondant. Using a circle cutter and 5 shades of purple I went for a polka dot theme on the second tier. The board is a large 13inch board which allowed me to add a birthday message and additional fondant
decoration which reflected the birthday girls personality. 




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