I see you Daddy – an open letter to my love

To my love ,

I really could not have dreamt for a better Daddy to the ankle biters , nothing is too much for you. The phrase hands on Daddy was created for you.

Daddy I see you getting up at 3.46am to give our youngest a bottle even though your alarm is due to go off in 2 hours for a 12 hour shift , you don’t sigh or moan you just get on with it.

You can tell that mummy is frazzled when you get in so you take over the minute you walk through the door. You cook , tackle the washing mountain , entertain the ankle biters , bath them – whatever it takes for me to have that hour of relaxation.

I see you taking the tots to soft play for the afternoon so mummy can sleep , shop or just chill with my own thoughts. You get that I need this to keep a float and function.

When you come home and see we have had “one of those days” and you mutter those words “let’s go out for dinner” you will never know how grateful I am to not have to cook , then wash dishes. You give that break from routine that is oh so needed.

I see you calming me down and helping me rationalise thoughts and worries when my anxiety is high. You break down my thoughts , give me solutions and tell me it will be ok , it always is.

I see you working hard to provide for us and give us the best. You do a physical job , your out in all weathers. I never hear you moan you just get on with it. Without your strong work ethic I would not have been able to stay at home with our babies and watch every milestone as it happens.

I see you teaching the ankle biters about life and bringing them up to be the well-rounded happy tots they are. You don’t mind getting the craft box out and playing frozen or my little pony. I just know you love building pillow forts and rockets out of building blocks.

I see you always wanting the best for me. Whether its pushing me to make those plans with friends or encouraging me to go and treat myself to a haircut or outfit. You can see I’m burnt out and you want to help me re-charge.

I see how our babies absolutely adore and idolise you. They hang off your every word , the excitement on their faces when you get home from work is priceless.

I see you loving me even more than before the ankle biters despite all of my flaws and the changes that motherhood has brought.

Thank you my darling for being the man you are , I could not have chosen a better father for  our children.

All of my love

Lianne xx

Easter mini egg chocolate tray bake

Easter Tray Bake

I love a tray bake recipe they are so simple and easy to make , especially when you have two toddlers “helping” I decided to make a chocolate one with mini eggs to get some practice in for Easter.  I loved how colourful this cake was.

Ingredients

  • 6oz/170g of butter unsalted
  • 6oz /170g caster sugar
  • 4oz/115g self-raising flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2oz/ 55g cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt

For the frosting

  • 3oz/85g of butter unsalted
  • 6.5oz/185g icing sugar
  • 2oz/55g milk chocolate

For decoration –

  • Melted white chocolate
  • Micro mini eggs
  • Chocolate sprinkles

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan or gas mark 5. Grease  a square baking tin.

Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix until creamy.

Sieve the cocoa, flour and salt into a bowl and add the eggs. Stirring all the time you should have a smooth thick batter.

Put the mixture into the tins and spread using a knife. Put into the oven and bake for 25 mins. Take out and leave to cool.

Now to make the buttercream melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over simmering water on the stove. Leave to cool but make sure the chocolate stays in liquid form. Put the butter into a bowl and add the icing sugar and mix.

When the cake has totally cooled spread the buttercream on.

Melt the white chocolate again in the microwave or on the stove.  I just used a spoon and quickly splattered it over the cake in a diagonal motion.

Sprinkle the chocolate sprinkles on and micro mini eggs.

Grab a cuppa and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Old school sprinkles cake – Dairy free recipe

Old school sprinkles cake

I love this cake , my mum used to take me to the bakery in the village after school and I would always choose this. It is the absolute best comfort food served with hot custard.

I love to re-create this with the ankle biters. We make it dairy free so Frankie can enjoy it too.

Ingredients

225g/80z of Self – raising flour

225g/8oz Vitalite spread (at room temperature) or you can use butter if you prefer

225g/8oz Caster sugar

4 Eggs

1 Tea spoon of baking powder

225g/80z Icing sugar

2-3 Tablespoons of cold water

Sprinkles of your choice

Method – so simple

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / gas mark 4
  2. Measure all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl
  3. Mix all of the ingredients using an electric whisk or wooden spoon
  4. Pour the mixture into either a square tin or loaf tin
  5. Place them in the oven till golden brown 15-25 minutes
  6. Cool before icing
  7. Mix the icing sugar and water together , when the cake is cooled smother on top of the cake and cover in sprinkles
  8. Wait until the kids are napping , grab a cuppa and LARGE slice of cake

Loneliness in motherhood , because yes it is a thing

When I first moved back home to Wales we lived in Abergavenny. I was in a brand new town and was also a brand new Mum. Even though I had my beautiful boy and was also pregnant with Frankie by the time he was 6 months old it was probably the loneliest time of my life.

Some may say how can you feel lonely when you have a baby as all of your focus should be on them. Or you shouldn’t feel lonely , it’s selfish as you have your baby and that should be enough to stop you feeling lonely. But feeling lonely as a mum is a thing. Yes you love the bones of your baby and they are the centre of your universe , but you still exist too and need other human interaction and friends.

When we moved to Abergavenny I literally didn’t know one single person there. Archie was 10 weeks old and I was a first time mum still trying to find my feet. I was desperate to meet some other mummy friends and fantasised about going for coffee and play dates and chatting to loads of other Mums at playgroups. Isn’t this what being a stay at home mum involved? Yes in a perfect idealistic world it probably did.

Archie basically hated sleep so I was very sleep deprived and always up at the crack of dawn. Most days James would leave the house by 6.30 am and would not be home until around 6pm. This was such a long time to go without talking or interacting with another adult , some days I would literally see no one. I did start to feel really isolated and lonely.

I decided to join a local baby group. I was so excited and off I went with high expectations. It was awful I hated it!  I had never felt so awkward in my whole life. I’m a really sociable and outgoing person and always have been , not afraid to chat and say hello.

There were a few Mums at the group they all seemed to know each other so I sat myself down amongst them in the circle. I attempted to start a conversation with the woman next to me but she near on blanked me , just nodded and literally put her back to me and started chatting to the other Mums. I will never forget that it made me feel so low , I actually cried when I got out of there.

I continued to go to this group because it was good for Archie and seeing him smile and enjoy the music was enough to keep me going back. I will never forget how long those days were. Looking back I think I was definitely low and not myself in those early days. Being alone most days , sleep deprivation not having anyone to relate to really did contribute to that. I was never diagnosed with post natal depression but only now can I admit that I probably was suffering with it but thankfully managed to pull myself out of it.

I was so lucky that when we moved I found the most beautiful mother and tots group and have definitely made friends for life. Could not have asked for a more down to earth group of mummies. They make me laugh daily and never get bored with talking about tantrums , poo and sick.

I love my babies so much and they are my world , but they can’t chat about fashion and have a glass of vino with me. You do need friends when you are a mum and people you can relate to and count on to keep you going . When you are having a really crappy day its amazing even to just pop a text to your friend who just gets it. Being able to share with them that you’ve just stepped in shit because you’re trying to potty train your two-year old but he isn’t quite getting the grasp of it.

Whenever I see that mum who was me 3 years ago wanting to have a coffee and chat I always make time and be as welcoming as I can. Because loneliness as a mum is most definitely a thing.

 

 

My online mummy squad

Over three and a half years ago I joined a baby centre January 2014 birth group. Little did I know the ladies I met on this group would be such a huge and influential part of my life. These ladies are my motherhood sisters. I have been through two pregnancies , births and every developmental milestone that my babies have gone through. We have celebrated three years of our gorgeous babies birthdays together and the younger siblings that have followed.

I speak to these ladies every day in some shape or form. We share our highs and lows without judgement.  They are my go to ladies with just about everything. There is always one of us there day or night to help celebrate or a shoulder to cry on or talk things over.

If one of us is hurt or upset we all are and we are on the hunt for who has caused it , a big group of angry mummies on the warpath – scary. We never get bored of listening to each others problems and someone always has a solution to almost every problem shared. I have learnt so much about being a mum from these women and they have made me the mummy I am today. These special ladies always rally around when someone is in need or going through a mummy meltdown.

We are all going through the same thing whether it be terrible twos ,  the threenager stage , potty training , sleep deprivation – you name it we’ve been there.

I always feel any negatives I have about being a mummy are made normal by these gorgeous women.  I love this as if I didn’t have them to talk things over I would just sit here thinking what an awful mum I was for not enjoying weaning or feel pathetic for crying because my three year old wont stop screaming at me every time I say no to something. Instead one of you will say yeah my little one is being a complete demon child today or man I hate potty training.

You ladies were there with me during my labour step by step with both babies from the moment my waters went. Some of us were in labour together , spurring each other on and had babies born just hours apart. You were number one on Facebook to see the precious first pictures of my babies. I came to you as soon as I got that positive test with Frankie ,  of course everyone else had to wait till the 12 week scan to find out but you knew as soon as I did.

We share everything , no such thing as over sharing in this group. We know each other inside out and can read each other like a book. If someone is down we know , if someone is pregnant we know. Nothing gets past us.

During the early days of motherhood the mummies kept me going through night feeds , winding and poonamis. Always there for a chat at 3am , 4,30 am and to share a coffee with at 8am. Some days when I was finding it impossible to get through on 2 hours sleep I had my own personal cheerleaders cheering me on to get to that finish line called bedtime and wine.

You will always be a part of my life no matter how big our babies get. I know I can always be 100 percent raw and honest with you ladies , with no judgement just kindness. You are and always will be my first port of call for support and encouragement. Thank you for being my motherhood sisters ,  always and loving me and my babies the way you do my online mummy squad.

Lianne xx

 

Mummy you need to look after you too – an open letter from the ankle biters

Dear Mummy ,

You need to start looking after you too.

Your always busy making sure we are looked after.

But what about you ?

When we wake up you fill our bellies with organic cereal and fresh berries ,  full of goodness. You sit there and drink coffee and grab a biscuit. You need to have goodness and be healthy too Mummy.

You get us dressed in our smartest ,  cutest fully coordinated outfits every day. You fix our hair and make sure we are preened and polished. You grab the nearest clothes and throw your hair up in to a mum bun. You deserve to be preened and polished too Mummy , curl your hair or put on some make up , do something for you.

Your last penny is spent on us , after all we need that other pair of boots or cute dress. What about you Mummy ? Treat yourself get that top you saw and loved , go on do it – you deserve it we have enough.

As soon as we show signs of illness or have a strange rash off to the doctors we go.  Mummy you have had a bad back since I was born , I’m now three don’t you think you should go to the doctors too ?

You take us to all of our toddler groups every week , gymnastics , dance class and always do fun things with us. You need to have fun things to do too Mummy – go for a spa day, get nanny to look after us , go shopping and eat a nice lunch or go on a date night with Daddy.

A lot of your time is spent trying to get us to take a nap. You say you were up all night last night you must be tired now , come on nap time. Mummy you were up all night with us too , now we are sleeping you sleep too. Leave the washing and the cleaning , crawl in to bed and pull back the duvet and sleep.

Mummy you make us the best bubbly baths with our favourite toys. You just jump in after us when daddy gets us dressed amongst all of our toys for five minutes.  Why don’t you have a bath with your favourite things when we go to bed ? Treat yourself to those bath bombs you like and read your book , go on Mummy you will love it.

 

So basically what we are trying to say is you need look after yourself. You matter too Mummy and need to be at your best to look after us.

Lots of Love

The ankle biters xxxx

 

 

An open letter plea from an allergy Mummy – NHS please don’t do this

Dear CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) and the NHS ,

I am a mummy to two children who both have milk allergies. Archie who has just turned three was lactose intolerant , he grew out of this by the time he was 15 months old. Frankie who is 22 months old has cows milk protein allergy and is also lactose intolerant. Frankie is yet to outgrow her allergies and still has a dairy free diet. She is prescribed Neocate , an amino acid based formula and will continue to be prescribed this until her second birthday.

We went through a horrendous period in parenthood instead of enjoying and embracing the new born stage we were filled with worry and upset trying to work out what was making our babies so ill. Archie wasn’t diagnosed lactose intolerant until he was 5 months old. He used to cry in pain , projectile vomit after nearly every feed , have trouble feeding and was generally unhappy and unsettled. This was heart breaking watch as a parent and I felt like such a failure for not being able to help my baby.  Watching them cry in pain for hours on end and not being able to help is completely soul destroying. Archie was prescribed SMA lacto free formula and was a changed baby within 48 hours  , he was almost symptom free and we had a happy baby.

Frankie was diagnosed when she was 9 weeks old her symptoms were more severe than Archie’s. She would cry for hours on end in excruciating pain , she also had severe diarrhoea after every feed and eczema that was infected and oozed puss.  It took three different milk trials and a hospital admission to get the correct treatment for Frankie. Once Frankie was started on the Neocate formula she was also almost symptom free and happier within a week. It was a struggle to get that prescription for her as it carries a price tag of £38 per tin , these are half tins and we were using four tins a week at one point.

 

Having access to these formulas was fantastic as breast feeding was not an option for me , I had tried and not been physically able to breastfeed. This in itself was truly crushing and so stressful for me. Some mums with allergy babies can breastfeed if they also have a dairy free diet as dairy can be transferred to the baby via the breastmilk. If babies have various different allergies this can be more difficult for the mother as its hard to know exactly what is causing the baby to react.

I’m totally shocked and appalled at the decision the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) has made to ban writing prescriptions for dairy free formula in some areas in the UK. If this had been brought in to place when Archie and Frankie were babies I know that we would not have been able to afford £608 a month in formula for Frankie’s Neocate milk. Croydon CCG has already brought this proposal in to place.

It is so stressful having a baby with allergies and watching them cry in pain and see how unhappy they are every day. Even though it’s not your fault as a parent you convince yourself it is. I did exactly this and felt guilty and blamed myself for not being able to breastfeed. I would sit down at night and sob and  think this is all my fault if I was breast feeding her she wouldn’t have this allergy and she would not have to go through this.

If I had to see Frankie in pain any longer and not be able to get the milk on prescription I would have sunk in to the grips of post natal depression. To be completely honest I think it had already set in and had a hold on me before her diagnosis , it has taken me nearly two years and writing this blog post to admit that to myself. Seeing her the way she was is something I would not wish on any parent.

I also had a 15 month to look after and with a baby that cried literally all day and night and would only settle on me,  this was getting increasingly harder and taking its toll on all of us. Archie must have been so confused as to why this other little person we had brought home was so sad and also made mummy sad – this is how he would have seen it in his eyes as he was far to young to understand.

It would have had a huge affect on us financially , even though James works and does have a decent job we wouldn’t have ben able to find an extra £600 plus a month. I would have had to go back to work and give up on the idea of being a stay at home mum , which is something I always wanted to do.

Even if I had got a job it would have had to be full time which would have meant paying childcare fees for two and covering the cost of the milk. I would have also had to leave Frankie at 10 weeks old to be able to do this. The other option would have been to get a loan to cover the cost of the milk for two years which would have been £15,000 plus this would mean high loan repayments each month which would have destroyed us financially.

We are lucky that Archie has grown out of his allergy and we are hoping Frankie will too. They are now both happy toddlers but things could have been so different if they did not get the treatment/prescriptions they needed , they could have been very poorly.

CCG if you are reading this please don’t do this. Think about how this will affect thousands of babies and parents.

From ,

An allergy mummy

 

 

Things they don’t tell you about the hood (motherhood)

As a first time mum you are just starting out on that journey they call motherhood. I was in such an idealistic bubble when I was pregnant. I had this , read every book and been on all the baby sites. I knew it all now didn’t I? That was until they handed me that tiny baby and I fast realised I had no clue and there are loads of things they don’t tell you. 

They don’t tell you they will be there every second of the day no matter what you’re doing. Your having a shower , they’re pulling the curtain back and throwing rice cakes in to the bath. There is not one single bit of privacy where motherhood is concerned. Your having a pee , they are there then they are running out with the loo roll. I’ve even had to sit on the toilet holding Archie or Frankie because they don’t want to be put down. 

They don’t tell you that you are literally owned by this small person. They decide when you eat , sleep and take a pee. They always know when your just about to eat that’s when they will wake , the minute that hot coffee or piece of choccie cake you’ve waited for all day hits your lips – they are awake and want your full attention now !! 

They don’t tell you that some days you will feel like a complete failure and totally helpless. Your baby has been crying for three hours straight and no matter what you do , you can’t settle them! Your toddler is ill and you would do anything not to see them in pain. Your their mummy you should know what to do right ? In every situation because that’s what the book says.

They don’t tell you about the epic tantrums and meltdowns they are gong to have. You know the ones where they scream the shop down because they wanted to come out of the pram ,  but you know they will do a Houdini as soon as those straps come off. So they scream and bash themselves against the pram. Everyone is looking , some are shaking their head , you hear someone say “if that was my child” you feel yourself going read and hot and just want the ground to open up. The first time this happens you feel like the worlds worst mum but then you get used to it when it happens 98 times a day. You could do what the book says and put them on the naughty step , yeah right ok let me just find a step in the middle of a crowded shop and of course your going to sit there like the angel you are.

They don’t tell you how much of a mess you will look. Some days you can’t find the hairbrush amongst the mountains of toys on the floor so you use your fingers to “brush” your hair and the only bobble you can find is an Elsa one , that will do. Dry shampoo becomes your best friend because it takes longer to wash your hair in the morning which equals the kids trashing the place while your stepping out of the shower with shampoo on your head to see what they are doing. You walk around in your maternity clothes until your babies first birthday because you don’t want to buy yourself anything cause you feel mummy guilt as they need that cute dress and denim jacket. 

They don’t tell you will never sleep again. As soon as your head hits the pillow and you’ve been asleep for five minutes that’s when they decide it’s play time. You are literally so tired you walk round like a zombie putting fabric softener in the fridge , forgetting family members birthdays and health visitor appointments. Your desperate to sleep all day but the minute they are in bed you want to party. By party I mean parent party, which involves eating your body weight in Haribo and staying up till 1am watching movies , your free the night is yours!

They don’t tell you how lonely it can be some days , yeah sure you have your babies but you don’t speak to a single adult all day. So when he gets home from work you talk at him for three hours straight. You end up telling the woman sitting next to you on the bus your baby doesn’t sleep and how tired you are , she’s an adult and she’s listening so you’re talking! 

They also don’t tell you that you will love them so much your heart will burst. Even though they have turned you in to a sleep deprived emotional wreck , who cries at literally anything. But that doesn’t matter they are your whole world. This little person will love you more than anything , you are also their world and they adore you. 

They don’t tell you how rewarding this is. When you see how happy and confident your little tot is. Or how they can now say mamma or dadda – you taught them that! 

They don’t tell you how much you will laugh and act silly all day. Toddlers are hilarious. Like actual lol moments when they go to bed and you look back on the day. 

They don’t tell you that you will love their daddy even more,  if that’s possible because you see how he’s grown in to this amazing daddy who they idolise.

They don’t tell you about all the amazing adventures you will go on throughout this hood they call motherhood. 

It’s tough , but you’ve got this – you are amazing !!

Open letter to my toddlers close in age – Sorry not sorry 

Our plan was to have two babies close in age. When Archie our first born was six months old we started to try for baby number two Frankie. It had taken six months to conceive Archie ,we thought Frankie would take roughly the same. She was in fact conceived from our 1st try !! Later that month we got our positive test ! Much quicker than planned but we were beyond happy. There would be a 14 and a half month age gap between Archie and Frankie.

When I was pregnant I thought the transition from one to two would be easy , I was ready for this , it was all fresh in my mind. Not quite that simple looking back at my naive self. We did quickly get used to this hectic way of life. 

To my babies ,

Frankie my youngest sorry you had to wait to be fed sometimes while I had to settle your brother with a snack and  Peppa pig on repeat just so I could get a chance to make your bottle and sit and feed you. Your brother never had to wait and cry like you did , those few minutes you cried for whilst I was quickly chopping an apple and frantically looking for the TV remote seemed like a lifetime and mummy guilt well and truly set in.

Archie I couldn’t cuddle in with you whilst you were watching Peppa pig  like we used to. I had to hold your sister in my arms and rock her to sleep.

Archie your food was batch cooked freshly made and blended in little individual pots all labeled neatly when we weaned you. Frankie yours was served up every night along side ours and it was fork mashed , but don’t worry it still had all the goodness your  brother’s did. Mummy just didn’t have the time she had when it was just your brother and her.

Frankie my heart used to break when I would hear you scream whilst making your bottle because your brother had squeezed your nose or dropped his toy car on your face. He didn’t mean to he was just excited to play with you and show you his car. Now you’re a toddler you hold your own and exclaim it’s MINE when Archie tries to take a toy off you or if he tries to squeeze your nose you tell him “naughty Archie no”

Frankie your brother had to wait till way past his first birthday before he had a happy meal , you had one when you were 7 months old because you cried when you saw what Archie was eating and you wanted to try a chicken nugget. 

Whilst Archie was playing in the park , running around , on the swings , whizzing down the slide you were sitting in the pram because you couldn’t walk yet. You more than enough make up for that now , you are sitting in the swing along side Archie and running after him to fight over the car on springs.

Sorry that I can’t always give either of you my full undivided attention 24/7. I promise it won’t always be this way. Just sometimes I’m dealing with Frankie who is upset because she is teething and wants a cuddle. Archie you want me to play blocks and I tell you I just can’t right now !! You look so disappointed I’m sorry. 

Sometimes Mummy wants a coffee and to sit down for ten minutes so I’ll pretend I can’t see you pulling a whole packet of wet wipes out because it’s keeping you quiet long enough for me to drink a hot coffee. Sorry I should be building bricks or reading with you for those ten minutes but instead you’re sitting in a sea of wipes. But hey your loving life !!

Archie you love to paint and do crafts. Your so disappointed when Mummy has to rush this because Frankie still isn’t old enough to understand she can’t eat paint and put little plastic eyes in her mouth. We will have all the time in the word to do this soon not long now until Frankie can paint and make things like you and you will teach her.

Archie sorry that half of your toys have the little bits removed away in a safe place to stop Frankie putting them in her mouth or up her nose. Soon you will have them back , if I can find them!

I’m not sorry for how close you both are and how you are always there for each other. You are best friends and can’t bare to be apart. I’m also not sorry that your big brother has taught you so much already and helped you through each stage of development. Your little sister has also taught you how to be gentle and loving and that you just have to share. You both have an extra person who loves you just as much as Mummy and Daddy.

Love you both millions , 

Mummy

When you just click with that mummy friend 

It’s so hard to make mummy friends and motherhood can feel like such a lonely place at times.  When you click with that mummy friend it’s amazing. 

You go to a baby group or join a baby group online , you meet mummies and get chatting to one and know instantly you are going to get on well. 

You get to know her and start to think where have you been my whole adult life. Think of all the fun you could have had in your wild pre kids clubbing days. 

You like the same fashion , share a love for coffee , both love a wine and are box set compatible.

You talk about life , love , everything. You actually have a conversation that isn’t baby related for the first time in 3 months.

You laugh and cry together. Even though you have not long met you have a strong bond and just know your going to get along great.

Your toddlers love play dates indoors and picnics in the summer. They play and squabble like siblings, they are now inseparable and besties for life. It’s lovely how she cares for your little ones like her own and vice versa.

She’s always there for you no matter what. When you haven’t slept all week , your baby is teething and you feel drained. She is there to pick you up and encourage you to keep going. Her words of encouragement pick you right up and your ready to take on the rest of the week.

She’s never bored with you talking about your toddler and his poo habits or how he’s having 100 tantrums a day. She tells you how she’s going through exact same and makes you feel so much better , that it’s not just you. Your not a bad mum because your toddler throws himself on the floor and screams noooooo because her toddler is on the floor next to him doing exactly the same. She shares your hate for Peppa Pig and agrees Peppa Pig is the reason for your toddlers acting bratty. 

She doesn’t care that you wear your hair in a permanent mum bun , you have weatabix smeared on your jeans or that your house is a mess. As long as you have an ear to listen and coffee she’s happy.

You can’t imagine life without a meet up and a good old chinwag. When one of you can’t make it that week you miss each other like mad and can’t wait to catch up. It seems like an eternity . You have a whole weeks toddler life and the last episode of suits to catch up about.

Your so happy you have found your mummy friend soul mate and just know you have made a friend for life. You will still be meeting up when you have moody teens , when they are off to uni or travelling the world. You will see your babies marry , have babies and you will start the whole process again when you meet up for nanny play dates.

Thank you for being in my life and helping me through the scariest hood there is – mummyhood.