Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spider Cakes for Halloween Recipe



Ingredients

Chocolate Fairy Cakes

2 eggs
4 oz (110g) caster sugar
4 oz (110g) butter
3 oz (90g) self raising four
1oz (25g) cocoa powder

To decorate

225g Icing sugar
2-3 tbsps boiling water
Black writing icing

Method

  • With an electric whisk beat together the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy. You will know when you have reached this point as the colour will become lighter and the volume greater. It takes a while, even with the electric whisk
  • Fold in melted butter and flour
  • Divide the mixture between 12 cake cases in a cake tin
  • Bake at 180ÂșC for 15-20 mins
  • When the cakes have cooled, measure our your icing sugar. At first add just 2 tablespoons of boiled water and mix, ad a little more if required. Don't make it too thin or it will run off your cakes
  • When the icing has set, draw on the spider with writing icing


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scheduling!



I am not sure if I am insane, or if the years I spent in teaching are to blame (or both - perhaps they are related!) but BB and I now have a weekly timetable.

At the end of last week I had worked over 40 hours, many of them after BB was in bed, but several of them also while he was awake. The end result, I didn't get much sleep, BB didn't get the attention he deserves, and neither of us were as happy as we could be.

I am a mum because I want to be. Because I want to do mum stuff, like create art with my child, read, bake, play, explore. That last week I was being a mum between work tasks, and trying to encourage him to amuse himself for longer. He watched more TV than usual. I felt awful for him, and awful for me.

I sat down with a very well earned glass of wine of Saturday night and tried to come up with a plan. Initially I thought the answer would be to put him nursery for an extra morning a week. I then wrote little schedule of when I would work etc. It seemed ok.  It reduced the number of hours I needed to do in the evenings which was good, and I just needed to be disciplined and not do stuff when he is awake. But when I woke up on Sunday (without wine glow) things looked different.

At the moment we have just one weekday when there isn't something scheduled. If he has an extra morning at nursery that will be down to zero! Add to that the fact that DD visits at least every other weekend and it doesn't leave us much free time. In fact often on those weekends its good to just relax.

Currently, that one free day usually gets filled with something different and fun. Today we went to the beach with some friends visiting from down south, in a couple of weeks we are off to a soft play centre with all the mums and babes from our antenatal class. Sometimes if the weather is good we go to large reserve or a recreational park. We have been to stately homes, National Trust properties, the children's farm, and shopping for shoes.

I realised that losing that day would actually make things worse.

I needed a further rethink.

I also need to change my ways. I have always been a person to work until things are done, so when a client sends me all his paperwork for the last quarter in one huge unorganised heap the urge in me to get that all processed and organised is huge. I need to do it yesterday. I don't rest until its done. When someone emails me I feel I should respond straight away, while I think of it, even if we are at the park!

To cut a long story short, we now have a timetable. I am working every morning for an hour, straight after breakfast, checking emails, scheduling and prioritising tasks, maybe doing one or two little things if there is time. BB is happy to play for a bit by himself at this time. His toys are all 'new' in the morning. Immediately after my hour we are doing an art/craft/at the table kind of task together, though if BB is fed up being by himself he can come and join me at the table early (as he did this morning with his crayons) while I finish off... he is quite happy to do that. I am doing my second hour when he naps in the afternoon, and a further one in the evenings. I've cut the afternoon slot for our Adventure Tuesdays, and dedicated Friday's afternoon slot to activity planning for the next week. I have only scheduled an hour each day at the weekend - just to keep on top of mails and stuff. As emails arrive on my phone I am sending them to folders to deal with next time I am working, instead of feeling the need to respond right now.

We are only 2 days in, but its good so far... If I can be disciplined enough to stick to it I really think this could work and give us the best of both worlds.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Something Blissful


My son, and some sunflowers in the sun! This was taken during that last hot weekend in September.

Have your own Something Blissful to share... please do using the linky below

General rules (possible yet to be refined are that it should be
  • something that brought you joy and may to bring joy to others too
  • or simply something you are thankful for
  • can be an image, video, 'news' item or short story (each to be your own)
  • it can be from the last week, but doesn't have to be
  • if you quote someone, credit them
  • and make sure it's suitable for general readership (ie not x rated!)
Looking forward to your posts

If you want to know more, read The Story of Something Blissful


The Story of Something Blissful



Something Blissful has roots in many places.

As a teenager I remember I really wanted to start a Good News paper. One with tales of happiness, inspiring thoughts, uplifting images, acts of kindness. Something to challenge stereotypes, share the love, spread some joy. Anything from a tale a of the hoody who helps an old lady with her shopping, to  photos of happy people, to quotes form wise thinkers from around the world. My newspaper would be just one sheet per day and FREE. Given out on the tube and commuter trains, in the staffroom, at the supermarket, factory gate and so on. Such a thing would of course be quite costly to do, and seeing as I never became a millionaire it never happened.

Staying Blissful is something that this Mama does not always find easy. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is something that I often have to work at. My dad always said I had SAD syndrome - I didn't believe it until I moved to Australia, but now I definitely agree with the diagnosis.  I have to make an effort to get out into some daylight, no matter how uninviting the outdoors may be - if not, it will be even harder to motivate myself tomorrow. The study of meditation has also helped me to try and observe my mind rather than get caught up in it. I guess you could sum it up as becoming more aware of how I work, and then working to keep things in order.

A Blissful Life began as way of focusing on the happiness and joys of life. I had read just a few blogs when I started writing in 2008. I didn't really know what I wanted to write about, I wanted to share my life in Australia with my family and friends back home, I wanted a diary of sorts to help me remember special moments, places, people, things. I knew that I didn't want a whinging platform, which many blogs seemed to be.

Although as time has gone on, and I have become more open an honest about who I really am and what is going on for me, there have been posts that are not so Blissful. The first time that I posted Something Blissful was in May this year, immediately after I had posted about two things not so Blissful. I felt the need to restore the balance. I liked the concept of having a theme of Something Blissful, and used the tag on a few more posts. Then after a while, it sort of faded away.

I found myself thinking about it again recently. We have just changed the clocks here in the UK. Our days are short and dark, the weather has turned suddenly cold, and continues to be wet. I just miscarried  BB2, I had a trapped nerve in my back and still have pain in my arm and numb fingers. Just one dark and dismal day into what I officially call winter I can see that I could be on the brink. I need to be proactive.

So, Something Blissful is back on the radar, but I was thinking I would share it a little further. I have just learned about creating linkies and I'm thinking that this would be a great way for us to share a little happiness and joy. I am going to (try) to do a weekly linky with the title. I thought hard about the day I should publish. Most reports say that Tuesday is officially the most depressing day of the week. Other say Wednesday as it is the furthest from any weekend. Many think it's Monday. For some of us who parent and work from home 7 days a week, the day makes little difference. However, I settled on Mondays, though you can add your link any day for a week.

I imagine the rules may be refined but at the moment lets just say that it should be

  • something that brought you joy and may to bring joy to others too
  • or simply something you are thankful for
  • can be an image, video, 'news' item or short story (each to be your own)
  • it can be from the last week, but doesn't have to be
  • if you quote someone, credit them
  • and make sure it's suitable for general readership (ie not x rated!)

Let's see how it goes...

Click here share your Bliss!









Sunday, October 28, 2012

Miraculously Breastfeeding Again

When my nerve got trapped in my back I had to take some drugs that meant I had to stop breastfeeding. Although I really wanted to feed BB until he decided to stop, the pain was so huge that I changed my plan. I quickly rationalised that 15 months was a good time to have been breastfed for and took the pills on offer (Diazepam and Codeine).

 He was a bit upset about it at first, but actually started drinking milk form a cup without too much bother. Until perhaps Tuesday or wednesday this week, when he woke at around midnight insisting he breastfed. I did some googling. I hadn't taken the diazepam since Saturday, and the codeine was down from 60mg every 4 hours to 8 mg a couple of times a day. All the info that I could find said that this would be ok, so I went ahead and let him try.

It immediately soothed him and he suckled for about 20 mins and then slept. He didn't bother asking for it again, so I assumed that his hard work had been unfruitful, and it was just the action of sucking that he needed.

This morning he would not eat breakfast and keep telling me (in his way) that he wanted booby. I reminded him that there wasn't any booby any more, and continued to try and get him to eat or drink milk from a cup. But he wasn't having it at all.

Now there is a couple of schools of thought in terms of the 'advice' I have been given on this. Several people, including my mum, say not to go back to feeding now that I have come this far and he is just getting used to the idea. Then there are those that say continue until he decides no. I sit in the second camp, but I had stopped, and it was going OK, and although I had thought about it, I hadn't really made any effort to get the supply back.

When it came to it though, on both of these occasions, I went with my instincts. I haven't taken any codeine at all since Thursday, so there are no worries at all now. I thought that if I let him he would have a go, find that there was nothing there, and then it would be over. But no, he seems to have found some milk. There was some there right from that very first feed this morning. He has fed several times today and it would certainly seem that we are back on.

I wonder about what he knows. Just before I miscarried he was off feeding - then a couple of days after, like today, he grazed all day long. Perhaps he knows all the drugs are out of my system now.

Has any body else had this experience? It was almost 2 weeks of no feeding. I am amazed. But happy of course!


Silent Sunday

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Finally Functioning Financially (Fingers Crossed!)

As I harped on about it so much in previous posts, I thought I'd let you all know that it seems like I might actually be able to carve out a living for my little family without getting a 'proper' job.

I became self employed in August, and to be honest after purchasing stationery and other office supplies, registering my urls, finding web hosts, losing our healthy start vouchers, increasing our council tax bill and adding on child care costs at this point we are just about breaking even. But when my October invoices get paid I will actually have made a profit!

I am doing a few things:

Mainly I am The Virtual Assistant  I have one major ongoing client at the moment and since I launched the website a couple of days ago I have had an enquiry from a fabulous local artist who paints murals on nursery walls for both private and business customers, asking about a website, facebook page and twitter account so I am really looking forward to that. The Business Training Centre that I went to have also agreed to keep some business cards in their office and to tell new start up businesses about what I can offer, so hopefully this will bring me a bit of trade too.

I have also set up an online bookshop on that well known book selling site, but after just a few weeks I have decided that I am not going to put too much energy into that. It's hard to compete with bigger stores, and the postage that the website adds automatically sometimes doesn't cover the actual cost. I am going to keep it going with the stock I have but I don't think I'll spend too much energy seeking out more books for sale.

With regard to Blissful Mama, I have added google ads to this blog, plus written one review that could potentially earn me some £. I am going to a blogger conference in a couple of weeks to learn how to do this more. Don't worry, it is a priority not to compromise my blog, but if I can get paid to review toys (or essentially to play with my child) then I am going to go for it. Nice work if you can get it, and once the review is written it's there on the site for people to find and earn you money while you're sleeping.

I am also considering setting up another online shop selling things like the bibs BB wears, but I am not sure after my bookshop experience that this is worth the hassle either so it's on the back burner for a while.

In summary, I am feeling like we are out of the woods, and heading for an exciting future. I am not worrying about the money so much, but of course, I won't take my eye off the situation. I am also getting busier and staying up later at night to get the work done, so I think BB might have to have a second morning at nursery soon. I think he likes it there but it's hard to tell. They seem to do some good stuff with him but I think it will be better in a couple of months when he moves into the older class as there are more activities and things to do. At the moment most of the other kids in his room are babies. Once he moves up, I think we'll go for the second day. I miss him though!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Electric Shock!

This week I received a nice email from my electricity and gas supplier which reminded me to read the meters.  As you may remember I recently (June) changed energy supplier in an effort to save us a little cash. One feature of this new company, which many companies offer now, is the facility to add regular readings on line, so you can see what is happening with your usage. I though that sounded like a good feature so that I knew if I needed to be putting a little extra cash aside for the winter months.

On receipt of the email, I dutifully went outside and wrote down the values on the dials and came back in and entered them online. For the gas it accepted it no worries, a surprise really as the central heating has kicked in during the last month so I would have expected it to have gone up. For the electricity though it wouldn't accept my reading! "Are your sure this reading is correct" it asked, and went on to tell me that my electricity use had more than doubled this month in caparison to previous months. Of course I went out to check the reading again, but alas I had got it right - something crazy is going on with our electricity consumption.

So I have spent a few days analysing the situation. There are really just two things that I think could have changed; the use of lighting at the beginning and end of the day (and sometimes in the middle of the day!) as the days get shorter, and the use of the tumble dryer. Immediately here you might think that the tumble dryer is the culprit, but in fairness I used it for most of our dismal summer too, so use of that hasn't really changed a great deal.

I got the gadget out again (it was moved into the office when BB started 'playing' with it and never got reconnected). I placed in my office and watched as things like the washing machine and tumble dryer  whirred away, but it didn't make sense. I use them both everyday. It has to be something else. So I began the experiment of switching on various lights.

Of course there is background stuff going on here all the time, like the freezer and fridge, so I turned them off during the experiment, and of course I had to keep the office light on the whole time to see what the heck I was doing. There may be other things using energy all the time too, like my radio alarm clock, the wireless router and the phone, but let's assume they are constant.

Here are my results.

Office light only £7.99
Office light plus low energy light in kitchen: £8.11 per month
Office light plus under unit lights in kitchen: £29 per month
Office light plus low energy light in lounge plugged into the same power board as the TV, computer, wii, and sound system so that they all come on standby: £9.20 per month
Office light and low energy light in lounge, now in it's own socket: £8.24 per month
Office light and dimmer lamp in lounge: £8.79
Office light plus dimmer lamp in bedroom: £12



The under unit lights in the kitchen give a nicer light than the ceiling globe. Sometimes I use them during the day when I'm preparing food, and lately they will have gone on at about 4 when I get BB's tea and stayed on until I have gone to bed. The dimmer lamp in my room has also been going on when BB has his bedtime story, and lately I have been leaving it on until I go to bed (this week 6+ hours after him due to a crazy work load). The rationale behind that was so there is a constant light and I can see to get upstairs without turning the big light on and risking waking him. Pointless really. I've stopped now and am using the light on my phone to get up the stairs. The low energy lamp in the lounge is now plugged into its own socket (I had to move it for a while there as BB was playing with the wires, but he has outgrown that a bit, and the furniture is slightly rearranged, so I think it's safe to move it back. I am not sure why the dimmer lamp in the lounge uses so much less than the one in my room, but I can tell you the lounge one is a nice, expensive one that mum bought me for my birthday, and the one in my bedroom is from a budget store.

So, under unit lights off in the kitchen unless actually needed, no dimmer lamp in bedroom if no one is in the room, no stuff on standby. I am looking forward to entering next months figures already!

Incidentally, I am not going to name my energy co. here as I don't believe any energy company in the UK deserves free advertising, but they were cheaper for me, and this little warning is a handy feature. They have also sent me an email saying that if I recommend a friend by email and they switch, each of us will get £25! So, if you want to check out and and see if it's cheaper for you too, drop me an email blissfulmama at y mail dot com

The Pumpkin Trials - Lessons Learned!

Are you scared yet?

OK - so here's what I know now

  1. My pumpkin saw is a bit naff! It saws, but it wobbles in the handle.
  2. When you cut the lid, do a funny shape bit so that you can see which way round it fits
  3. MaKe it a bit bigger than I did this time so that it's easier to scrape out the middle
  4. Do the face higher up - especially if you are planning to put it low down on your porch
  5. Ditch the pumpkin muffin plan and make chocolate fairy cakes - there's only so much scraping one can handle




I'm getting the idea though, it was worth the trial - I might try and be a little more ambitious with the next one! Just a little!

Calling all SMC bloggers

Just a quickie, but you may notice that I used a 'linky' (my first) on my recent Halloween post. It occurred to me overnight that we should have had one of these for the post that we all did on "A Day in the Life of a Choice Mum"

I pondered it for a bit and thought I add one to my post. But then I thought that really it's not my place because I didn't initiate it, I was just a tagger on. But then I thought again and thought I would add the facility just to see - you don't have to use it, or we could move it to another blog (Ali was it you that started it?) because it seems like a useful idea to have them linked. Another idea is that we could all have a linky on this...

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below, or go to my original post if you want to add your link, and let us know if you decide to add your own linky

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Blissful Diet?

So I've done a bit more reading on this diet thing.

I didn't find a great deal that I didn't already know, but sometimes reminders are good

I decided to

  • use a smaller bowl
  • photograph everything that I eat
  • record everything on my weight watchers ap and stick to the points
  • try and have a short eating window and a long fasting window (the recommendations I found say eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 - almost possible with our schedule of breakfast around 7am and tea around 4pm)

This is how I did yesterday

Breakfast: 

Papaya and lime with coffee (0 points)
 Lunch:
Watercress, rocket, carrot, tomato, mozarella, and avocado salad, with balsamic dressing (8 points)

Banana and natural yoghurt (2 points)
Afternoon snack, when BB got home from nursery

Ryvita thins and low fat onion and chive cottage cheese (4 points)
 Dinner:
Stirfry vegetables and tofu (9 points)

and a small pot of fromage frais (2 points)

So - that was a total of 25 points, and it was great, and I had stuck to my eating window. Successful day.

BUT

As you know, I work at night, after BB is in bed. As a result of being out of action last week I am working twice as much this week - by 11.30pm I still had heaps to do and was ravenous. I quickly made a cheese toastie (11 points) and didn't photograph (in the hope that would mean it wasn't real!)

So - I broke all my rules on the first day, and proved to myself what I already know - that my problem is at night when I fridge raid.

Any strategies to deal with this?

I need help!!!!




Haunting Halloween Hints


What do you do for halloween?

I live in a small, child friendly cul-de-sac and my neighbours are great at halloween. Last year there were cobwebs and witches, pumpkins and spiders adorning nearly every porch. OTT? Well, maybe, but maybe not. I found it to be a sign of 'neighbourliness', an indication that we are in this together, between us we can make this fun, your kids are welcome to knock on my door - I liked it!



For me, with a three month, old this neighbourhood enthusiasm was a sign I should get prepared for visitors! I had no sweets in the house so I quickly knocked up some chocolate butterfly cakes, only instead of making a butterfly shape, I turned them into witches hats. OK, so they weren't great - I did have to explain what they were supposed to be - but everyone was impressed with my efforts none the less.

This year I have a 15 month old. I need to make a little more effort. I am going to carve a pumpkin for the first time in my adult life! I've been asking seasoned mums for hints - a pumpkin carving kit was recommended by each of them, so I have been onto a well known internet site and purchased this.


I have been searching for hints, and found some great images of brilliant carvings



But mine is probably more likely to look a bit like this



I have bought two - a practice one and another one. 

Then of course there are the treats! I feel I need to live up to my reputation of making nice cakes, but I also want to better my previous efforts... I have decided on pumpkin muffins (well, can't let all that pumpkin go to waste now can we!) which I am going to ice with white icing, and then paint on a spider  using black writing icing. Ambitious? For me maybe, but I can do a practice run on these too. I am thinking we could have visitors on Saturday night, though with the school holidays being a week later than usual this could mean that the majority of folks come on the actual day.

I'll let you know how it goes!

So what are you doing?

Any more halloween expert parents got some tips to share to help the rest of prepare?

Please comment or use the linky below to share with us all




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Confessions of a failing dieter!

So, I feel I can't go to bed without admitting that I skipped the weigh in today... I was running late to another appointment, but I think if I thought I had lost heaps I might have found the time! I checked on the Wii again, in my pj's, after my morning pee, and before a morsel of food or a drop water had entered my mouth - still 2 lbs heavier than when my supposed 'diet' began.

Things have to change.

I have to shift this lard.

I need a kick start!
Image sourced from internet


I have found a few interesting links - like Fasting Fitness for example. You may also remember me talking about fasting in previous posts Boosting your fertility when you're an old duck, fasting, and after the fast. A friend also recommended Six Weeks to OMG which I might check out if I can find a cheap copy.

Anyway - more immediate action is required. The plan this time is to have a fruit and veg only day tomorrow, then to try and be sensible on my two days out Thursday and Friday, and then a fast at the weekend.

I will admit everything here - honest.

I won't be able to weigh in next week as we are off to the beach, so the day of reckoning will be November 6th.


Ten things to do when you're not pregnant or breastfeeding

Although I am obviously devastated in may ways, I have to admit a small glimmer of joy about being 'free' to be me, if only for a while. I was pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 2 whole years.

I was in the kitchen tho other day when the thought suddenly came to me that there are now loads of things I can do now that I haven't been able to do for a while. But then when I started to think of them, they really weren't that great.

The first thing that came to mind was cleaning the oven, the next was to delouse the chooks. This is not all that exciting! There has to be better ones. I put my thinking cap on and came up with the following.


  1. Run - I used to love running. Not that you could really call it running, it's more of a trot. I am thinking that I might walk BB to nursery with the push chair, then jog home. Then jog back again to get him later. It's only about 1.5 km each way, but that will be plenty to start with I'm sure!
  2. Wear a nice bra - though I don't think I have any that fit these huge bazookas, but maybe when I've lost a pound or ten
  3. Drink as much coffee as I like - I am a fan, but actually keeping my intake to levels that are safe for pregnancy is good, but at least I wont have to refuse a nice coffee when I am out again, just occasionally.
  4. Sleep all night long - this is a good one, though BB is generally up before 6, but unbroken sleep is pretty cool
  5. Drink as much alcohol as I like - except I wouldn't want to be drunk in charge of a child, or get up at 5.30am with a hangover, or look after a toddler with a hangover for that matter... but if DD wanted to let me have a night out and a sleep in I might not turn it down!
  6. Wear a dress - a useless wardrobe item when you need to be able to pull a boob out at will, but I have many - some may even fit!
  7. I could even go away for a night - theoretically - I am not sure I actually could, I might miss BB too much, but maybe...
  8. Fast - I do enjoy a good fast for health reasons, and although I did once fast for one day when I was getting ready to conceive BB2 I haven't had a good cleanse for a while. I think I feel a fast coming on - hopefully with some weight loss benefits too.
  9. Treat the chooks - I think they would appreciate a good dusting with some mite powder (even though they may not know it. It doesn't sound all that exciting but I do want healthy happy hens.
  10. Clean the oven - well, it's been bugging me for ages, and just in case I do get pregnant again I really should...
Image sourced from internet


Monday, October 22, 2012

Weight Watching - Two Weeks in

I am dreading the weigh in tomorrow.

I missed last week because of my arm, haven't exercised because of my arm, have eaten bad foods (well, I was unable to prepare food for a few days there, so people brought me things - like fish and chips!!!).

Then of course there is the fact that I have stopped breast-feeding.

And the tablets that I am on make you retain water.

According to the Wii I have GAINED 5lbs! Hopefully that can't be true, but I expect I will have gained rather than lost.

Aside from the obvious problems with my arm, I struggled. On the first day I just reorder what I ate and it was 61 points (for those not in the know, the daily requirement is 26 - I should have been on 35 - a couple of extra because I am 'bigger' and then 7 more for breastfeeding). I kept going and recorded what I ate honestly. My points did gradually come down over that first week, and I walked a lot so that I did almost end the week without too much 'debt', though I didn't record all of day 7 as that was when my trapped nerve issue began.

Now I am supposed to be on 28 since the breastfeeding stopped. That's a huge difference from what I was eating. I think it's going to take me a while to adjust. My biggest problem is at night. I eat dinner with BB at 4.30pm, but then I am hungry again later and snack, often on things that are not good!

I have been considering a fast for a day or two, just to reset myself. Fasting is something I do feel I really benefit from in all sorts of ways, but WeightWatchers doesn't recommend it. It is also something I couldn't really do while breastfeeding - but I could now. I was really interested in the findings of Michael Mosley's TV Show The Power of Intermittent Fasting so may research that further.

Another thing came to my attention today. There is a new book coming out The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss which also sounds really interesting. I have put my name forward to trial it and blog about it.

So, fingers crossed they pick me, that you enjoy finding out more about it from my blog and that IT WORKS!




If you are interested in buying the book it is available at AmazonWaterstones and The Book People. It maybe be worth checking them all as prices do change. Amazon also have a Kindle Version 

Disarmed, emotionally enabled, and dreaming of youthfulness

Sorry I have been a bit quiet. Things here went slightly crazy on Monday when my sore arm became an intensely painful one. I sat in a meeting and things gradually got worse and worse. No matter what I did, or what position I put in in the pain was excruciating. I felt sick, was sweating, and almost crying. In the end I called my parents and asked them to come and pick us up.

Luckily we were with some great child friendly people who looked after BB while we waited.  I couldn't even look down to see what he was doing, or pick him up, or steer him away from things he shouldn't have been playing with. Luckily too there was an osteopath present. She is on maternity leave and couldn't treat me there and then, but did make me an appointment for the next day with her colleague.

Unfortunately though, things got even worse. By the time we got home I was in so much pain I was crying. I swear it was worse than contractions as it never stopped and gave me a break. I rang the doctor to see if it was possible to get some strong pain killers. As I couldn't actually speak properly my mum had to talk. When she explained the situation they said that we needed a paramedic, and because it was my left arm they were super speedy in their arrival - policy, just in case I was having a heart attack! I was given gas and air, and codeine and then an emergency after hours appointment with the doctor.

The doctor diagnosed a trapped nerve in my back (as did my osteopath friend earlier), gave me more drugs and referred me for physio. All of the drug options were not suitable for women that are breastfeeding, and as I really couldn't cope with the pain I had to say yes and not feed BB. That was heart breaking and so not how I imagined our breastfeeding relationship would end. I hoped that a day or two in the drugs and a trip to the osteopath would do the trick and I could come off the tablets, but alas no. The tablets take a while to build up in your system so it was 3 days before they kicked in. I was in a state of utter despair too, I couldn't even fill a cup with milk for BB, nevermind change his nappy or his clothes. My mum is a hero and came to do all those things for him and keep us both happy - she is amazing!

As for any hope of breastfeeding again I think I have to let that go. I have started to reduce the dose of the drugs now, but I think I will be on them for a while yet. I also had some further pain on the day after my first appointment with the osteopath, which is normal, but not nice. I went back to her on Friday for a second appointment. I was in much less agony now and things had progressed well since my previous appointment. She was able to manipulate my back, there was a very satisfying click, and my nerve was finally set free.

I am still recovering. The feeling still hasn't returned to my fingers, but finally today I received a letter from the physiotherapist saying that they had received my referral and that I was to call and make an appointment. I am glad I didn't wait for that - I would have died from the agony by now. I will still take up the appointment though. Some exercises will do me no harm.

The whole event has given me a great deal of time to pause for thought on what I am doing. Essentially its my own fault. I believe the root of the problem is a lower back injury which I sustained playing netball years ago. I learned the hard way that I need to maintain my back with regular treatment to keep it all aligned. Well, since moving back to the UK I have not. For several reasons I suppose, one being that no one seemed to know of a good massage therapist, another being the cost, and now since BB, no one to take care of him. I have been suffering all along. I have not even been able to walk properly since I had BB, particularly when I first get up in the morning I have to hobble around. I have also had some really bad back pain, disabling me on a couple of occasions so that I couldn't lift BB, and the arm thing has been there in a mild form for months.

I have woken up though and am going to go and have a series of appointments to work through all the knots and misalignments right from my finger to my tail bone, and then I will go monthly from the  on. Now that BB goes to nursery this is feasible. The woman that has been recommended to  me also has some really reasonable rates so I will hopefully be able to maintain it.

In all of that I am also feeling more like BB3 could be a possibility. After the miscarriage I was just feeling like maybe this was a sign that my body was just too old for this, but now with the thought of having it treated and how much better I might feel once that is done I feel like it really is an option. I guess another thing that has helped there is the fact that I took a test yesterday and all the pregnancy hormones have gone. As many of you will know, being full of hormones that tell your body that you are pregnant when your womb is empty is really no good at all, so I would imagine that my more positive outlook also has something to do with that.

The only thing that is not looking so good is my weight loss plan - but I think I'll save that story for another post as this one has gone on way too long.

I don't really have a picture for this post - my drugs? my arm? an "I'm still fat" photo? No, I think not!
Instead, here is BB in his new favourite toy. It's a car mostly, but the little scamp also knows that if you drive it into the kitchen and then turn it over and stand on it, you can reach lots of new and exciting things!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Spicy Parsnip Soup Recipe

I think this means he liked it!

Serves 2 adults and one baby

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil or butter
1 small onion
2-4 parsnips (depending on size)
2 cloves garlic
1-2 teaspoons medium curry powder (depending on taste)
500ml vegetable stock
a splash of milk

Method

Heat the oil or butter, add the onion and fry until soft
Add garlic and curry powder and fry a little more
Add parsnip and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for bout 20 minutes, or until parsnip is soft
Remove from heat and blend using a stick blender until smooth.
Add milk until you have the thickness you want, and return to heat to warm through

Serve with bread and butter


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Celebrating Generations of Family

I was inspired to write this post as the result of a tweet from Tots 100. The item calls for you to post your favourite baby photo. BB is 100% cute so I thought I would be sure to find a gorgeous photo of him, probably making mischief - but when I searched through the album, this is the one that jumped out.

Great Grandma, BB, Grandma, and Great Great Aunt Bette

The photograph features my Nana (BB's Great Grandma) who was just 2 days from her 96th birthday when BB was born. Then of course we have BB. BB is being held by my mum who has been the most amazing support to me throughout my life, and who is just amazing with BB - he has a special love for her and responds to her in such a beautiful way which shows me that he also know how special she is. If I can be half as good a mum as her I will be proud. Next to my mum is her aunt, my great aunt, and BB's great great aunt!!! She is my late grandfather's sister who had no children of her own but has excelled in the role of aunt (with however many greats) and Godmother.

I love this photo because not only does it picture people that I love dearly, but also it shows the importance of family. Regular readers will know that I returned to the UK so that my child(ren?) could have the opportunity to know extended family, and also to support my mum, an only child caring for her parents (now just her mum).

My Nan is old, in pain, her vision is poor, her mobility minimal - but BB brings her so much joy. We visit every week and she gets younger the second he walks through the door.

I am so happy to be able to raise BB with these folk around. They all bring so much to each other's lives, and to mine.

For the 100% cute pic though - this is one of my recent favourites



“This blog post has been written as an entry into the Tots100 competition in association with Boots Mother and Baby

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Joining the #WWBack2Best Challenge

So, I may be a little late starting, but today I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting and the challenge has officially begun.

The truth is that I retained almost 11kg of baby weight after BB. Then with my recent pregnancy, even though it only lasted 9 1/2 weeks, I somehow managed to add another 4 kg to that, (I was 85kg at my booking appointment with BB2 a couple of weeks ago) meaning I am now 15kg heavier than before BB.

I guess it's partly that I just want to have control over something after my recent loss, but also, I really want my body back.

I am still breastfeeding BB, which means I get to eat a few more points than I would otherwise, but hopefully I can gradually bring that number down so that I am eating like a normal person!

I haven't done particularly well today. You know how when you start a diet you have to eat a few things in the house to get rid of them... Well, today it was the ravioli that someone left in our fridge. I actually really don't enjoy it anyway, and it's not the sort of thing that I buy, but I couldn't see it go to waste (though much of it is in the chicken bowl!), and then I decided to finish off the ginger cordial. I did however earn 8 points for walking so it's not all bad news.

It's embarrassing, but I am going make my starting point really clear to everyone

Today I was 13st 4lb, which for my US pals is 186lb, and for the rest of the world, 84.4kg.

My goal is to get to 11st, which is 70kg or 154lb

And just to make it really clear (for my sake not yours!) that means losing 2st 4lb, or 32lb, or 14.5kg.

Here's a fat pic to get me motivated





Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fondant Icing Play Dough

After making BB's Birthday Cake there was fondant icing left over. I thought we may use it for something, but so far it has not been required. Seeing as we have been a bit house bound for a few days we were looking for some new activities, so the old fondant Icing has become BB's first play dough. 







Saturday, October 6, 2012

4 days later

It's now 4 days since I lost my baby. I am not really wanting to go on and on about it here, after all this blog is supposed to be Blissful, but I do need to process and this works for me. If you are getting bored of this topic please forgive me and don't feel you have to read, but I do have to write.

There have been so many thoughts in my head. Many of them around the topic why this happened, there are some feelings of guilt, and lots of questioning as to whether it could be something I did. I have also been wondering when.

I did have less pregnancy symptoms that I did with BB right from the start, but I did have some. Breastfeeding BB was very painful for a while. But that stopped, and I didn't notice. I still can't really think when that was. I also had some nausea and fatigue, these got worse in the last week or so leading up to the m/c. I took it as being a sign that all was well, but I guess it was because the baby had died inside me and my body was trying to process that. I have been wondering if it was something I ate, or did, like the Wensleydale cheese, or was it when I was bouncing BB, or lifting a heavy table top or a sack of chicken food.

I feel guilty for so many reasons. I never really bonded with this baby like I did with BB. Rationally I am thinking that is because it did not have so much presence, but now I feel sad that I didn't make the most of the precious little time we had together. Although I loved my pregnancy with BB, I really wasn't looking forward to doing it all again. I openly stated that I was looking forward to when this one was over and done with so that I could have my body back. I did anticipate having a baby first though and feel terrible for wishing the pregnancy away.

I am  also wondering if this is a sign that I shouldn't have another child. I will be 41 next month. Maybe I am pushing my luck just a little too far. I am so very grateful that I got to experience being a mum at all. Perhaps I don't have it in me to look after two (sometimes I don't do a very good job with just one!). Perhaps this is what was meant to be - just BB and me.

I feel sad for BB though. I wanted him to have a sibling, to play with, squabble with, love and annoy. Someone to share the burden of his mother with in her old age. Several people have mentioned trying again, but I can't really imagine that right now. Having said that, the fact that I did 'see' a future with 'the boys', and that I am annoyed with subconscious for assigning my favourite girls' name to the baby (so that it would be hard to use it if I did ever have a girl) tells me that I am already aware I might think differently in the future. However, trying again does have to be conscious decision - when you do it my way it's impossible to get pregnant by accident!

Physically, I am doing ok. I think the bleeding has finally slowed down this evening, and the headache has eased off. I have joined weight watchers too. I think I felt the need to be in control of something and losing weight is something that really wont hurt in my case. I was 85kg at my booking appointment last weds and I should really be around 70.

BB was a bit under the weather for a while there. He was a bit off breast milk for a few days and had a dodgy belly, but that seems to be back to normal and he was on a constant breastfeeding frenzy today. I am guessing my milk affected him but is returning to normal now.

So, in summary I think I am working through it, but saying goodbye to someone that I never got the chance to say hello to is so much harder than I could have ever imagined.

My BB2 Belly at 9 weeks 




Thursday, October 4, 2012

The body knows!

The news from the ultrasound is that my womb is totally empty. Although devastating this is the best news I could have hoped for after Tuesday's events. At least I don't have to take any nasty drugs, or go through a D&C procedure.

As you can probably imagine, I have been through a lot emotionally since I was last here. One of the most significant thought processes is the revelation that I knew so much all along. Right from the very beginning I found it hard to believe that I was really pregnant. I never really felt pregnant. I wrote a bit about it here and have confided in a few people that I was anxious for the first scan to see if everything was ok.

After making it to 9 weeks and seeing the midwife for my booking appointment I finally began to believe it. Feeling so tired and ill in the last week or so also made me start to believe it. One thing that I still couldn't resolve though was the sex of the baby. With BB I had a strong feeling that he was a boy, right from the beginning. With BB2 there was confusion. I really felt that it was a girl, but that didn't compute as whenever I thought of BB and the baby together, they were "the boys". 

As I lay in A&E on Tuesday I suddenly came to me that this baby was a girl. Thinking about this last night in bed, it makes sense with my previous confusion about the sex. I now truly believe that BB2 was a girl, and that the reason I could not see BB and her together was because she would not make it into this world. Thinking that I have lost my daughter feels much worse than just an 'unknown' baby, so I am not sure it's an entirely healthy thought, but I can't shake it. I guess it's all just part of coming to terms with loss and processing my grief. 

Physically I am doing OK. I have an enormous headache which I think is a combination of detoxing, crying, and lack of sleep, but I am drinking lots of water and taking my vital greens, so hopefully I will flush the nasties out soon. I think I will sleep better tonight too. 

Finally, I am really grateful to all of you. It is odd in many ways that I have shared the whole pregnancy with so few people in real life, but with the world via the internet. You have been an amazing support and comfort. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I hope to be Blissful again soon. 


Thanks

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has commented, texted, tweeted, facebooked and emailed.

It means a lot!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sad news

The sad news is that I think we have lost BB2.

On Monday night as I sat and wrote the last post, I had some cramps in my stomach. BB was off his food that day and didn't even have booby when he went to bed, so I figured that perhaps we both had some kind of bug.

Then when I went to bed that night I noticed some pinkish discharge. I never had that before with BB, but I know that spotting and even bleeding in pregnancy is normal so I wasn't crazily concerned. I googled a bit on my phone when I went to bed and was reassured. I woke up during the night and it was all clear, but then in the morning it was back.

I tried to get an appointment with the Doctor, but there was no appointments available until Thursday and so they told me contact the hospital. I rang and a midwife talked me through the symptoms, said she thought it would all be fine but booked me in for an ultrasound on Thursday just for peace of mind.

Gradually as the day went on the discharge went brown, then darker brown, then heavier. In the afternoon I had really bad cramps, like I was getting the worst period ever. I was pretty sure I knew what was coming.

BB had dinner and I bathed him, and put him to bed. Almost immediately afterwards I felt the need to rush to the loo. I gushed blood and large number of clots. It didn't stop. I was soaking a super high absorbency pad in just a couple of minutes. I rang out of hours care who told me to go straight to A&E. My sister came and babysat and my parents drove me to hospital. I continued to bleed profusely and pass huge lumps of what I assume was placenta for about 5 hours.

The tests all say that I am well, but the HCG levels were around 4000, which is the equivalent of about 5 weeks pregnant (I was 9 1/2). They wouldn't say that it could be that I had miscarried, even when I asked. They just said I need an ultrasound to determine what the situation is. When the bleeding slowed they send me home and said that they would call me the next morning (today) to go in for an ultrasound.

We got home in the early hours so I had a few hours sleep before BB woke up at 6am. Then I waited and waited for the phone call. Eventually at lunch time I rang the hospital to see what was happening, only to find out that the department that had promised to call me is closed on Wednesdays!

So, I still don't really know for sure, but I would be majorly astonished if I haven't miscarried. That HCG level and the amount of blood and clots etc that I have lost don't leave me with any hope at all. I still have the appointment for tomorrow that was made by the midwife, so I will go along to that and hopefully get some answers.

Meantime I am ok. I am feeling much better now that the cramping/contractions have stopped (I was quite uncomfortable for a few hours at the hospital) and the bleeding is now down to level of a normal period.

I am sad, very sad, as I was just starting to get used to the idea that I was really going to be lucky enough to have another baby.

I am mad, with the Obstetric Department of hospital for telling me that I would have an answer today when they knew they would be closed.

I am also OK. I am surprising myself with how rational, calm and matter of fact I can be about it.

Almost overwhelmingly I am so very glad to have BB. Without him this would be so much harder. He seems to be tuned in to the situation and is being very loving. He is amazing and I am very lucky mummy.

But I miss you BB2.




Monday, October 1, 2012

An Intro to Me - for the Blogfest Linky

Hi, I'm Blissful Mama and my blog is A Blissful Life

This is me and my son.



I am single by chance, but a mother by choice (more on that story here) .

Blogfest will be my first Bloggers' conference. I have been blogging since 2007, when I ran a different blog for work. I started this one as a personal one in 2007 and I mostly blog for fun (but sometimes it's my therapy!. I'm ready to take the next step - whatever that is!

The thing I am looking forward to most is meeting other people, and getting out, and being 'just me'.

I am not sure which workshops yet - I like the look of social media and getting published, but working with brands and photography also sound interesting.

I will be wearing clothes. Most likely comfortable ones. I am 5'6" and slightly plumpish.

I will be sans enfant, for only the second day ever since his birth!

I may try and squeeze in an after party drink or 2

I am smiley and friendly (and mostly Blissful) and look forward to meeting you.



Back to Blogfest Linky Post

BB's first walk to the shop

BB's new red wellies, one of our nearly new sale bargains!

Today we sold a book, which meant a trip to the post office. This is just on the corner, 300m (or 4 mins) away from our door according to Google maps. When BB came up to me with his wellies in hand (which means he wants to go and play outside) I decided we had time to walk. BB has some toddler reins that used to be mine (!) so we thought we'd test them out. I knew the journey would take us a while, so I recorded it on Map My Walk just to see. Although its only 600m, we did 820m  (a very long way for little legs!) and it took us 56 minutes!

We looked in everyone's driveway, over some low walls, picked up leaves, chased cats, barked at dogs, pointed at birds, found a discarded lotto ticket, saw lots of spiders, peered down drains, waved at kids in cars, put fingers in cracks, peered though holes and generally had a whale of a time. I was wondering what I would think of reins, I like the idea of them from a safety perspective, but I wasn't sure how i would feel with my child on a lead! But I liked them, they saved my back heaps. I would never have attempted a walk that long holding hands as I would be crippled by now, so none of that fun would have been had without them. I think to him it would seem like he had more freedom than hand holding, he has a little bit of room to move, he had both hands available to explore with too. So I think BB, the reins and I might go on another little outing tomorrow, weather permitting.

On a totally different note, I updated the Boy or Girl quiz today and we now have 5 for the boys team and 7 for the girls team. To clarify though, the changes were that my bed now faces north as I turned it around at the weekend, but I don't think it's going to make any difference to the sex of BB2. I am eating lots of fruit, and I don't usually drink juice but have been of late. As for craving sweets, it's not a craving as such, but if I am nauseous I find boiled sweets  help with that (last time it was ready salted crisps!)