Let’s paint together, you and me

As you know by now, I’m not very skilful. The same way there are mums & dads who can do everything: bake, assemble something, being really crafty, I’m the opposite. But I love to have fun and I’m a kid at heart and I know how to keep on being one.

As a kid myself, I used to love drawing and painting. I believe at some point I was even good at drawing (if I had a picture in front of my to use as a baseline). But not anymore. I can’t even draw a dog. But it’s still good fun.

Since she can hold a pencil or a brush, this is her favourite activity, like for like with jumping. She could draw circles from an early age and now she’s moving to draw the family. This is us. Daddy in orange, mummy in yellow and her in purple.

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Happy family #toddlering #drawing

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And this was us painting with water colours.

My grandad did really outstanding drawings with water colours. He says he misses it a lot. These are drawings from the 50’s!

The level of detail is just outstanding!

And now a bit more of painting (these are a lot more messy than water colours).

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Painting Sunday

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It’s not perfect, it’s not worth exposing in a museum, but it’s something we really enjoy doing together and she feels so proud of us doing something together like this 😀

Let’s embrace mess together!

What’s your favourite family activity?

Why are mums so competitive?

Have been looking to write this post for a while (well ever since Easter to be precise). Any of you with kids in school or the nursery will have experience at some point the Easter Hat.

The point of the easter hat is that you are meant to do it at home with your kids while having fun. But for a big majority of mums it’s all a competition. Yes, that’s right, a competition!

I was so naive, I took it literally that we had to build something together and I panicked, because I’m an absolute zero at any type of manual work. I can’t bake either. In essence, I’m a rubbish mum (from other’s mums perspectives).

Anyway, this is my first attempt of a hat… It’s so bad that i’s funny

Once I arrive at work my colleagues were feeling sorry for me. One even went to Tesco’s to buy a hat and she gave me some materials that she normally uses at home. In her own words “I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing this for Emily so she doesn’t feel embarrassed.” Initially I was like “Why would she feel embarrassed? We did “that” together and we had fun , surely that was the point?” Buh on boy did I know….

The second attempt was not much better. She was having more fun playing with the glue and glue stuff to her fingers than putting into the hat. But at least this one was enough to camouflage with the others.

2nd attempt

When I went to pick her up from school I couldn’t believe my eyes. The hats were gorgeous, without a doubt, and had zero interaction from the kids. At least in the nursery they were sensible not to nominate any winners in front of the kids. Emily’s hat at that point was destroyed because she was having fun destroying it.

I was happy that my friend saved my butt, because let’s face it, my first attempt would have been humiliating, not that she would care or notice (at this stage). But more than that, it was quite an eye opener. From now on this is it, just a competition to see who’s super mum and who’s not. My kid is the best at ballet, my kid is the best at whatever.

How about we let kids be kids and let them mess around and play together. Even if that means we won’t win any records, at least we would win a little heart and that is priceless!

So sorry, not sorry but I refuse to play by the rules. We have fun in this house and we have fun together 🙂

This mum explores sustainable choices

As some of you might know, I have been trying to contribute to a more sustainable living the best way I can.
I find all I am doing are baby steps, but I believe all together we can make a change.

Here’s a few things I’ve already implemented:

  • Replace Emily’s and my husbands toothbrush by bamboo one (I use an electrical one, and there’s no bamboo option for those yet)
  • Replaced shampoo, conditioner, hand-wash and body wash with soap equivalents – mostly sourced from Lush
  • I don’t do make up, but I like to cleanse my skin – I switched my Clarins mostoiriser by a Lush natural cleansing and mostoriser version. I recognize all ingredients, and the smell is just amazing! (you can check it here)
  • I buy the wonky vegetable box from Morrissons and end up doing batch cooking on Sundays (You can explore the selection here)
  • And the basics, like having my own coffee mug, tea mug and porridge container
  • I’ve switched milk to Milk & more so I can get fresh milk delivered on my door in glass, which I can then put outside for them to take away.
    It is more expensive than what I was buying before, but I feel that if I don’t do it, who will? I feel really good about the reusability of the
    glass bottles. That has to be worth something

Now I took a step further and decided to explore sustainable fashion. Before I moved house this year I did a massive decluttering, especially on my wardrobe and ever since, other than gifts over christmas (2 dresses and 1 skirt) I didn’t really bought anything for myself. I have been trying to be mindful about what I buy:

a) Can I spend a bit more so it lasts longer? (Side note: I wish I could do the same for my daughter, but she’s such a messy one that there’s hardly any clothing without stains…. other than trying to buy cotton, I rely on cheaper clothing because it’s not going to last so I could donate)

b) When it no longer fits me or is damaged, how will it be disposed?

c) What are the values of the brand I’m buying from? Should I encorage fast buying or local brands which take into account sustainable products, fair wages and care about the environment?

There are 2 items I really want to buy, one is a yellow/ mustard dress and the other is a backpack that can fit both my lunch box or my labtop. I have started this search more than 1 month ago and in the progress discovered a few really interesting brands. Yet, I haven’t found the products I want, but it’s worth waiting for to find exactly what I am after so I’m more inclined to keep them longer.

My list of sustainable brands

From Belo – I think I discovered them on instangram and go in love immediately, Not only they have a whole collection from recycled items (like seat belts and plastic bottles), but they also donate some of the profits to a charity in Brazil

I’m so in love with this bag!

Pixie Mood – They are based in Canada and they have an amazing collection of vegan leather. It’s a shame they don’t do international deliveries yet

Isn’t this bag a beauty?

Matt & Natt – Also based in Canada, but with international stores. Again really pretty elegant line

This one can actually fit my laptop!
Gotta love the colour, it only fits a 13” inch laptop.
This one also fits a 13” laptop

Pelcor – Couldn’t finish this list of bags without an old favourite of mine. They are portuguese and they’ve started quite a cork revolution. Their collection is absolutely pretty. I only have the passport holder

People Tree – They have some really pretty dresses, but a bit more casual than what I’m after. Probably they are one of the oldest, since they’ve started in 91!

DAI – German brand with really effortlessly elegant dresses. A bit expensive but they are indeed pretty.

If only this one was in mustard yellow!

Thought – Based in London with really good range of designs. I would definitely explore the socks collection

This one is really pretty

Finally just wanted to mention a few sub-brands from big brands which we should explore. I am a believer that if we do change our shopping habits the brands will follow and soon we should start see more sustainable options out there.

Mango Committed – Their collection seems to be increasing

H&M Conscious – They have the biggest collection in this range I believe

Zara Join Life – Again I’ve noticed their collection has increased, hopefully due to demand

I actually need to buy one of these T-shirts, as mine are getting old and I use them a lot at work

Which brands do you recommend? Did you tried to find more sustainable sources? In this search I’ve ended up not buying anything yet, which to be fair I don’t mind.

This mum welcomes 2nd hand (or 3rd?)

I never really thought about where I was going to buy stuff for my daughter until she was born, all I knew was that I didn’t wanted to buy her lots of toys and stuff she would get easily tired off.

Her first clothing was stuff my mum ordered especially for her, but from then onwards she even had clothing that had been mine (and my sisters) or from other kids friends. Especially at the beginning they only wear it for max 3 months (so unless if he/she’s a refluxer) most of the clothing will still be brand new. I would totally welcome any clothing that belonged to friends.

Even toys I took a few that were from other friend’s kids and they were pretty much brand new. Then I discover the charity chops (Like Shooting Star chase) and I’ve been buying a few jumpers from there. They are in very good condition and are so cheap!! I have donated most of her clothing to charity too, but either because of early reflux days or because she’s such a messy eater I have to admit quite a lot can’t be given away anymore 😦

I’ve bought stuff like the Jumperoo and other toys from online apps that sell second hand. This year, I’ve decided to buy her Christmas gift second hand as well. I know for a fact she’ll love it and she doesn’t care it if it’s new or not. Here’s what I’ve bought her (she can’t google yet so she won’t find this blog post before Xmas hahahah)

I don’t normally buy toys either for her, because they will pop over anyway. I mostly buy books and we play with random stuff in the house, like paper and boxes (and now xmas lights) and I’m quite happy that she has a few books that were mine because my parents kept them.

What do you get 2nd hand and what you never would?

Hope you have a lovely Christmas break (this mum is going to be lazy and what’s a movie in the couch while she’s at the nursery #guilty pleasures)

Toddler’s room – Inspiration

As I’m finally approaching moving date (where to I’m not so sure yet… long story but once it’s all sorted maybe I’ll get to share it), I have been saving a few inspiration ideas for her room.

Currently she has a really big room, her toddler bed, a single room (that was already in the house), my old working table and her clothing storage. For that reason she really only uses the room to sleep. 

Now that we are moving houses, I want to give her the chance to have her own space, where she feels cosy to sleep and also play. It’s the first time where she’ll sleep without the bars from her cot bed. 

For toddlers that love books – I’m so happy that she seems to love drawing and books as much as I do! So here’s a few ideas for a reading space

Storage & reading corner – sourced from https://www.futuristarchitecture.com/
Gotta love this pillow! (Sourced from peachyparade)
This is the perfect idea if space is running short! (Sourced from Ikeahackers)

For the artsy ones – If there’s one thing my daughter loves more than books it has to be painting / drawing. I have already 2 paintings framed in our living room and I would love to give her more space for painting, but her room is going to be a bit small. But here’s some ideas

You get storage and arts exhibit at the same time! Clever 🙂 – Sourced from habitots
This activity table is so versatile, I really love it (sourced from homedit)

And a few other ideas

I so want one of those teepee tents (sourced from scandinavian home staging)
Love this ikea furniture (sourced from ikea.co.uk)
And this H&m rug!
Gotta love yellow (sourced from the little big bell)

Feeling grateful

Somehow I find it’s a lot easier to feel resentful, depressed, tired than it is to feel grateful. We don’t always celebrate and cherish what we have, as most likely there will always be something missing.

Could be missing sleep, missing personal time, worries about financials, you name it. We have all been there, and most likely we are all still there.

I was checking her photo album yesterday and it made me smile to realise how much she has grown up. I feel grateful for that. I feel so grateful for her life (if you’ve read my birth story you know there was a point I thought I was going to lose her, so having just celebrated her 2nd birthday can only make me smile. Not to mention that we’ve finally won the battle of reflux and she’s now a healthy toddler!

I’m grateful for her smiles and for the time we spend together. Being a working mum (and being a workaholic one) I don’t have that many chances of playing with her. However, every day I ensure I leave the office on time to allow for some playing time before bed. On the weekends we play loads. Those are good times.

While growing up, I really feel I had an amazing childhood, and the best part of it was because my parents gave us lots of times. Times to explore around, times to play even times to cuddle on the coach in front of the telly. I realise now how many sacrifices they’ve made for us. They didn’t had a lot of many, just enough to give us a home, food and clothing, but that was it. No extras. Many times I know they would eat very little, or not touch any desserts because they didn’t had money to afford the same for us all. They’ve made us the priority and I’m so grateful for that. I feel even more grateful they gave me the sources and the opportunity to build a good future for myself, which means the sacrifices they did I don’t have to do them and she can have whatever she needs. However, I will never forget where I come from, so she will need to value everything she has. No fancy toys or clothing. (I hide a few toys so I can rotate them around).

I feel grateful for having grown up with unconditional love, safe environment where we could play and run outdoors, good family and opportunities in front of us. I feel grateful for the time my parents gave me and for the time I can give to her.

Finally grateful for having such a supportive husband & best friend. We are an amazing team 🙂

5 steps for de-cluttering

Ah, there’s nothing like a house move to ensure I declutter. I have been trying for quite a while to declutter. Every season I go through my wardrobe and check what I have not used at all so I either a) give it a way or b) put it in the clothing recycling bin. But I had never taken it so seriously as this time. I have already donated 2 full ikea bags and have 3 more to give away, and there’s stuff that went straight into recycling.

Step 1 – Decide a small area which you can declutter without spending too much time on it e.g. a drawer or your office table, and put everything on the floor.

Step 2 – Get a few bags 1) reclycling 2) donate 3) keep  and go through your own checklist. Here’s mine (You might want to consider a 4th bag 4) sell – there’s a few places where you can sell some stuff with potential. I for instance, have used shpock quite a lot, but if it doesn’t sell in there after a while it will go to bag 2 – donate).

  • Do I use it? And if I do, do I use it enough times that it’s worth keeping? – Even if you might have use it, it might just be once a year and therefore there’s no real usage for it
  • Is it still in good condition? – I had a few shoes that I liked, but there were not good enough so they went straight to recycling
  • (For clothing) does it still fit?
  • Do I still like it?
  • Do I already have something which is pretty much the same?

Step 3 – Put back the “keep items” where they were, or maybe try to organise them more efficiently. It’s always a good time to re-decorate

Step 4 – (Must be done straight after step 3), recycle what you need to recycle and find a local charity shop for the items you are planning to donate. I have donated my stuff to the Cancer research, but depending on the items you might know a local organisation or a specific place where they would benefit from what you want to donate. The reason I would recommend doing this step really fast is because you will see the items around the house and start to doubt your mental checklist (from step 2).

Step 5 – Celebrate your accomplishments and think about how you feel about it. Here’s my thoughts have decluttering

  • I had no idea about feeling so emotionally attached to things… and it’s actually quite hard to let go. I went months without needing them or even remember I had them, but when I saw them, it brought back memories or nice feelings which made it hard to give away (she had this gorgeous Christmas jumper which was so cute…)
  • I had stuff I liked but that I had not touched at all for ages (e.g. I had a really nice pair of denim shoes high heels), they were almost new!
  • In the end if felt good, because I feel lighter and I have helped somebody (or so I hope)

You can repeat this steps to a new area. Once you feel good about having done a small space, you will get the motivation to carry on another day.

Key lessons learnt:

  • Think before I buy and stop impulsive buying (I had stuff which I’ve bought and just wore once if any at all)
  • Think about the purpose before buying something – as per checklist – how many times will I wear it? Do I really need it?
  • In terms of her toys, well I don’t buy her any, I only buy books as toys keep on popping over. And I do hide some toys in another box and try to rotate them so she enjoys playing with them again

Have you tried to declutter before? How did you felt about that?

This mum can’t cook – Panda style

I should throw the towel, I’m simply not good at baking, or coking, or anything crafty. I’m not! Sometimes things go well and I can do a few things like scones and carrot cake, but most times it does not end well.

However, I keep on trying, yes because I believe if I try I will succeed. And especially if the occasion is my daughters 2nd birthday (in a few days). Knowing my disasters I’ve tried to rehearse before Sunday and I have to admit it ended up in a massive giggle at the kitchen. It would be a lot easier to order a cake in a nice bakery, but I still wanted to try. The 2nd aspect is that gets massive sugar rush and it’s hard to be sure they would follow my “low sugar” requirements. So I’m doing everything at home. It would not be fair to order a cake that she could barely touch.

Also, I’m doing something really small, just an afternoon tea break with her closest friends (3 girls max), because she enjoys playing in smaller groups. I have a small place, so can’t have much more (plus parents) anyway.

Because she’s mad about panda’s, I saw this recipe (which you can read here)

But instead of chocolate, I did a coconut cupcakes version (from here). It was not going bad:

But once I’ve started the decorations ( I did a yogurt coconut frosting), because the chips were too tiny here’s the result

So the outcome it’s quite funny. They don’t taste bad (but they are really low sugar) and with the yogurt they taste fresh. Still a funny result, worth a few giggles. Hope she likes the flavour 🙂

Are you good at baking? Any favourite recipes you would like to share?

This mummy cares – 8 ideas for reducing plastic

I guess it has been quite noticeable that a lot of people are trying to reduce the consumption of plastic somehow. Either because the supermarkets now charge for a bag, or even as you see people bringing their own coffee mug as opposed to take the re-usables from the store.

I have to say I’ve joined the club. I know every step feels too little and too late, but I would love for her to follow the same footsteps and care for the planet we live in.

Here’s some ideas I’m already doing

1 – Get your own coffee mug

This was really easy to adapt. All I had to do was to ensure I would go to my desk, wash my cup (if I didn’t manage to do so the day before) and then get my coffee. The beauty of this is that you can get a personalised one that fits your personality or even your mood.

I also have another mug for water & tea. I have the one below

2 – Bring your own Tupperware 

If, like me, you get breakfast in the office then bring your own tupperware. I eat porridge every day in the office (no, I can’t be ask to prepare breakfast at 06a.m when I’m leaving the house and it’s too early to eat!) so I bought myself one of these:

I have been asked by a few colleagues on where I got it from. It’s such a simple idea! All it takes is to wash it everyday, but if that saves some random plastic on my desk, why not! I also use normal cutlery and avoid getting plastic ones. If I do get a plastic one (the rare occasions I go out for lunch, I’ll keep on reusing it until it breaks).

3 – Replace liquid soap with traditional soap

I’m sure I’ve got this from my mum but I feel I need to wash my hands all the time! You’ll find liquid soap in every toilet and kitchen. And that’s a lot of plastic right there. So I’ve started to buy traditional soap. They are cute and they are packaged with just paper. No impact on my routine whatsoever, and they smell amazingly too.

4 – Get your own water bottle (and get one everywhere)

Here I would say this would work better if you have 1 bottle in your car, another in the office and a smaller one for your bag. I have bought myself a big one to encourage me to drink more water (stupidly enough I end up not drinking what I should because a) I don’t find the slots to go and refill it and b) because I always go to the loo last minute). So to at least cut point a) I have a bigger one now.

My office one is really similar to this one:

5 – Re-usable bags everywhere (or canvas bags)

I have re-usable bags literally everywhere to ensure I won’t have to buy a new one if I’m on and about. I also love the canvas bags because they are pretty and they can be folded and feet pretty much everywhere. Love these:

Some other really good ideas I’m not yet practicing

6 – Recyclable shoes

It’s because I saw this shoes that I got inspired to write this post. And no, this is not sponsored in any shape or form (who would sponsor such a tiny winy blog anyway?) These shoes are recycled from water bottled, that’s right! They look absolutely comfy and stylish at the same time. You can read more about them in their official website here.

7 – Shampoo Bar

Following from the liquid soap bar, there’s also shampoo bars. There’s some pretty good reviews, but I haven’t tried yet. This is mostly because I keep on forgetting about it when I buy more shampoo stock

 

8 – Reduce packing

If you have any stores around you that sell bulk, bring your own container and save some packaging. I get annoyed with the amount of plastic for something that could have been wrapped differently. For instance, if I can I will buy bread from a nice bakery and they will put the bread inside a paper bag. At home I keep it in a fabric bag. Places like whole foods allow you to bring your own stuff, at least for pasta, rice, cereals. I know, they tend to be expensive, but little by little hopefully this will become more common and hence more cheap.

Any other ideas that you would like to share?

 

Anxiety and mum’s guilt

Until my daughter was born I had never realised I had anxiety. The first time was a panic attack on her first week. I guess that would have been classified as a post-partum anxiety and it was right after a growth spurt. I thought it was a second effect of the anaesthetics but I realise now it was a reaction to the traumatic birth (emergency c section). I woke up feeling I was going to die, with my throat so dry I couldn’t breathe. At the hospital they make me go up and down the stairs and I soon realised there was nothing physically wrong with me, it was all a panic attack. They never said it, but I felt guilty for having gone to the hospital and by realising it was all down to stress.
As I wrote here, my first 6 months I was pretty much in tears every day due to the battles with GPs and for feeling so powerless in helping her. I mean, my job is pretty demanding and I was really used to handle stress, but nothing prepared me for motherhood and another factor for hidden stress: mum’s guilt!
One of those memorable moments was around her 1st birthday as I had to travel to work for the first time. I had already spent 1 night away from her, feeling so guilty that my job took me away from her, and then the flight got cancelled. I’m not joking if I say I did started to cry while on the fly and I’ve managed to keep on crying non stop for a good 30m until they gave me tickets for a flight later than night. I just wouldn’t stop sobbing. Other fellow passengers were like: “it’s just a fly, you’ll get another one”. I was panicking out that I would not see her another night (when I was only expecting one) and I had my boobs so full (first travel mistake, I actually forgot to take the pump with me so had to hand-pump which was not the same). I felt so horrible, no words could describe. I did manage to see her in the end because she was still not sleeping at the point. But I think it took me a few days to recover from that.
In January this year, because I was late from work and I had already been away, I was stressing out so badly that I was not going to arrive in time to see her. When the doors of the underground opened, I was going to race for the bus, my dress managed to lock my legs and had a massive fall on the floor. I still don’t know how I didn’t broke my leg. I did it in the end, but couldn’t hold her as I almost passed out on the floor with the pain.
I knew already that mum’s guilt was a powerful feeling but this Saturday I’ve felt at the edge of a breakdown. I seriously thought I was going to have a heart-attack. I had to go to the loo and try to breathe while watching her photos on my phone. I have a lot going on, like trying to find our next house and think about her needs for the space, schools around etc and work is really demanding right now but I know it all comes down to mum’s guilt. I’ve felt it in my heart.
I know I shouldn’t feel it like this because when we are together I do spend quality time with her and make her feel special and she knows I’m there for her. We sing together, we jump together, we draw together and run after each other. I arrrive home late every day but I make my priority to always spend at least 1h together and always put her in bed (unless if I’m flying for work).
But still can’t avoid the shadow and unconscious power of mums guilt.
In the end, I want her to grow up and know she can be strong and she should not be afraid to roll her sleeves and do whatever needs doing to get a career, to be successful but without ever forgetting her priorities. I just hope I can find better ways of coping with mum’s guilt.
I would love to hear your own stories. Anything you would like to share? Do you suffer from anxiety? I know it’s something really really personal, but I find the more we share, the more we start to convince ourselves that even though we are mum’s, we are only human 🙂