Thursday, January 30, 2014

Health Matters: Part Two

So since I last spoke about my health (or lack of it), I have been to see the doctor (as I got ill AGAIN) and was referred for blood tests. And yesterday I got the results. I had the tests last week and casually rang the doctor's surgery on Monday to see if they were back. The woman on the 'phone said yes and I was to make an appointment as the doctor wanted to see me. Cue immediate panic. Over the top panic in fact, where I found the 'C' word (no not the rude word) circulating around in my head. I had 48 hours from the 'phone call to the actual appointment to wait and in that time I had dreamed up all sorts that it could be and was certainly a bit of a nervous wreck.

Anyway, I get into the doctor's office and he is as cool as a cucumber, waiting to deliver my long awaited results. Turns out I have 'enlarged red blood cells.' Hmm ok. Don't quite know what that means and to be honest, he wasn't that clear in his explanation. The words 'anaemia' and 'folates' and 'folic acid' were bandied about before asking me I was a vegan, I certainly am not! (Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I could not give up bacon or chicken curry!) Because of that, he didn't really have an explanation as to why those red blood cells would be like that. From the little bit of research I have done, it could have started when I was pregnant as I had to take iron tablets then as I was low on iron. He says I must have had it quite a while as they are very enlarged and if left untreated I would basically become officially anaemic. Even though I already have the symptoms of anaemia anyway. The whole conversation, in truth, was quite confusing and lacking in detail and explanation (I'm an English teacher so I live for detail and explanation unfortunately). He did say though, that I would be feeling poorly and lethargic until we could get it under control. I worked out from the NHS website, that I would have a lowered immune system too, so would be catching all sorts.

So at least I now know why I have felt so dreadful since the end of September. I have a course of tablets to take, for about four months and then see how it is then. I have to have more blood tests in a month to see if the cells are any different after a month of tablets. It seems that this is something I possibly could have to live with forever, again, from what I can see from the research I have done. So I will have to wait and see.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why won't my baby sleep??!

So you might remember back in October, we were having trouble with getting Charlie to sleep, either going to sleep by himself or then staying asleep. I talked on my blog here, about our attempts at sleep training and it seemed to work, for about a month. Once he hit 8 months, it all started to go wrong again.

At first, I thought he had started the separation anxiety phase and thought that if we just persevered for a few weeks, then he would go back to how he was. However, he is now nearly 11 months and there is no sign of him going back to his old sleeping habit. He used to go to bed between 7.30 and 8, depending on how tired he was really. But the routine was always the same: bath after tea and then Pjs on, cuddles with Daddy and then some milk. He'd be sleepy enough to put in his cot half awake and within 10 minutes or so, he would be asleep. He'd wake between 3-5am for a feed and go back down.

Now he won't even entertain the idea of going down in his cot awake. He screams and screams. Last night he screamed so much he started chocking and almost being sick and when I went to him he clung on to me sobbing his eyes out. Now the no nonsense parents would probably say to me that I gave in and that's what he wanted, but there is no way that I am leaving my sobbing baby to cry like that. I can generally work out when he's crying as if to say 'how dare you put me in my cot awake and not feed me to sleep.' This was very different. Eventually I managed to place him in his cot half asleep and had to stay there stroking him until he drifted off. He was then awake within half an hour! I gave in and fed him back to sleep and managed to get him back down. He then woke up at 1am. But it was really, really cold last night and his grow egg was on blue, so I am not sure if he was just cold. He ended up in bed with us at 1am anyway.

So I am left with wondering what to do. I don't feel I can go back to sleep training based on last night as I cannot leave him like that. He managed to get himself to sleep the night before though, with much less screaming, so I know he can do it. I just don't know what to do. I just want him to go to bed at a reasonable hour and stay there until about 4-5am, I don't mind that, I can work on that later on, once we've cracked actually going to bed! I really need some advice. I'm reluctant to speak to the health visitor as she told me to just do controlled crying, which I don't agree with. Although I can see the benefits and I know that it is proven to work. I know that he's older now, so it's not as traumatic for him, but it's still not nice.

So what do I do? Do I bite the bullet and go back to sleep training and endure his screaming for a few nights? If so, at what point do I cuddle him and then put back down? Or do I just give in and feed him to sleep until he weans himself off??? Help!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Birthday wish list

In about 6 weeks I am going to be 30. Eeek. I'm not sure how I feel about it to be honest. Normally, I love birthdays. They have always been a big celebration, whatever the age, when I was growing up and into adulthood. My family do celebrating rather well. However, turning 30 feels like I am getting old. Being in my 20s I could kid myself I was still quite young, but this feels different. People tell me I certainly don't look 30; I don't have any wrinkles yet and I get asked for ID when buying alcohol. But it feels like I need pack my skinny jeans and hi-tops away and start wearing sensible, plain old things from M&S. I know I am being dramatic, but that's how it feels.

Anyway, I certainly won't be packing my skinny jeans away and in an attempt to cheer myself up I have put together a little birthday wish list, just in case the birthday fairies need some inspiration!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Recipe book challenge 2014

One of the goals for 2014, that I forgot to include on my non-resolutions post, was to try and be a bit more creative in the kitchen. I can cook pretty well (or so I believe!), but our meal planning tends to revolve around the same things - curry, chilli, spag bol, casserole, risotto, lasagna, fajitas, Kiev's. So I'd like to try and expand my cooking and my cooking skills. I've made other stuff in the past, it just comes down to laziness and can't be bothered.
I've so many cook books and I do actually read most of them fairly frequently, but then tend to cook the same things out of them, rather than try different ones.

My favourite book, or actually the one I get the most use out of, is probably Jamie's Ministry Of Food. That book actually re-taught me some of the basics of cooking again. I tend to go to that one should I want a curry or check my lasagna recipe. But I don't want to be stuck with one book. I also want to try more sweet recipes, as I hardly ever bake anymore or indeed never make a pudding. Preferring to buy one.

So my cookbook challenge this year is to try a new recipe from the books each week. One will be a minimum, but if I manage more than that's even better! I'm always interested to what other people cook, so if you have a great recipe that you think I should try, then please link it up or tweet me with it (@lilamy84). I also used to join in with Mrs M's meal planning Monday, so I am going to start that again from this week, including my one new recipe too!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Recipe Time: Cheesy pasta bake

I never used to be a fan of pasta bakes. I hate the ones out of jars that you're supposed to mix with tuna, yuck. I can't stomach tuna that well at the best of times, but hot?! Yuck! Anyway that's just me.

However I found a four cheese pasta bake in The Co-Op a few months back and it was yummy. It lacked some substance though and was a bit pricey for what it was so I decided to create my own. Below is the result of that! I didn't use four cheeses as that would make it quite expensive, so I used mature cheddar and Parmesan. I also added chicken and chorizo to make it a bit more substantial as a meal and I added a salad to go with it. It was really comforting and tasty and even the hubby enjoyed it!

So here is how I made it:

300g pasta (I used)
tin of chopped tomatoes
1 garlic clove
150g cheddar cheese, grated.
100g Parmesan (I buy already grated)
100g chorizo sliced
200g chicken (cooked beforehand), chopped into pieces


Turn the oven on and preheat to about 180c. Boil the pasta for about 5 mins less than the packet instructions. As that's boiling away, pour the the tinned tomatoes into a saucepan and add the chopped garlic. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 7 -10 mins.

Drain the pasta and pour into a baking dish. Pour the tomato sauce over and mix in. Add the chicken and the chorizo and then layer the cheese over the pasta and give it all a good stir so it all mixes in. Grate more cheese over top and sprinkle some more Parmesan over. Sprinkle some basil over the top and some olive oil and then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Serve with salad and crusty/garlic bread. Yummy!

The before picture doesn't really make it look very appetising, but I assure you it was yummy! Very comforting and moreish. Being greedy guts, I forgot to take a picture once it was cooked.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Health Matters

In the past, I have never been a sickly person. When I was younger I think I got mumps, shingles, I broke my little toe and got the odd cold and cough but I was hardly ever off school ill. Partly because my Mum wouldn't allow me to anyway, unless I was really ill, but mainly because I didn't need to be off as I was never that ill.

I started teaching in 2006 and in my first year I was off for nearly three weeks, all at different times, for various colds, coughs and stomach bugs. I was told it was normal, that your body is adjusting to being around so many germs and the immune system needed to get used to it.

Since then, from about October to March I seemed to get every cold that was going, not enough to make me need to have time off, I still felt a bit off, but it didn't warrant needing time off all the time. However, it's got progressively worse since then. I think the trigger was getting glandular fever and tonsillitis at the same time about three years ago. I felt more ill than I ever have done in my life (from what I can remember!). I remember I started feeling ill on a Saturday afternoon and by 8pm I was in bed shivering. I never do that. I didn't even have wine! The hubby knew something was properly wrong as I can't remember the last time I didn't drink on a Saturday (until I got pregnant!). That was the start of three weeks off work and even when I went back, I didn't feel 100%. Since then, when I do get a cold or a cough etc it completely floors me. I can't shift it for weeks. When I was off on maternity leave, my health improved slightly; I only got one cold and I managed to shift it within a week. But since I've been back to work in September I have been off three separate times with the exact same thing. It starts as pain in my face and jaw, all around my sinuses and then a headache. Then comes a cold and a cough and sore throat. My neck stiffens up and I can't move it properly and when I do my whole head throbs. It's absolutely horrible. I got this in October and had to take 5 days off and then just before the Christmas holidays it made a return and this time with gusto and I had 10 days off! I was actually signed off this time and put on antibiotics. However as soon as I stopped taking them, this awful cough developed and the pain in my face came back.

I (unwisely) googled the words 'constant sore throat and cough' and braced myself for the results. But it was a bit inconclusive. A constant chesty cough is apparently down to reflux and you should take antacids for it! I don't really think the cause of my cough is that though. Anyway, I clicked the link that said how to get better and typically it said rest. How do you rest with a full time teaching job and a 10 month old baby who wakes up at 1am every day?! I rest as much as I can when I get home, but I just cannot take anymore time off work. It also said to sip water throughout the day, drink honey and lemon, don't drink alcohol or caffeine and avoid warm stuffy rooms. This was all information and advice from a reliable website so I have decided to heed its advice.

For the first time ever I have decided that this weekend is going to be a dry weekend. No wine for me! I actually feel quite good about it. I am determined to get my health back on track and not get ill or let it linger. I have been having at least three bottles of water at work from 8.30-3.30 when I finish and at home I have been having cordial and water rather than tea or coffee or fizzy vimto to ensure I am not having too much caffeine.  I need to be fit and healthy to make sure I can be the best Mum to Charlie. Also, I am tired of being ill. It's getting me down and I want to feel normal again. I am taking vitamin C and D and using Cold Defence spray every single day. I don't know if all these things will work, but I have to give it a go. If not, I'm going back to the doctor to ask for some tests. I only had blood tests a few months ago (for something else) and nothing showed up then, so perhaps I just do have a weakened immune system. Why do I keep getting ill? Why do I catch everything that's going? Fortunately (and touch wood), I seem to avoid tummy bugs now, but I always have some sort of cough, sore throat, cold type bug. I know that we have to expect a certain amount of colds throughout the year, it's normal to some extent, but the constant feeling ill is not normal. Is it because of pregnancy, does it lower you immune system afterwards?

Anyone got any tips on how to deal with things like this?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Do I feel guilty?

I often get asked if I feel guilty for leaving Charlie and going back to work. Indeed, I see lots of blog posts from Mums who have gone back to work saying they feel guilty about leaving their baby. I don't actually feel guilt. I know that Charlie will be a rounded person and will benefit from having interaction with other children and adults from an early age (that's not to say if you're a SAHM that they won't be the same!).  He has so much fun with the childminder; they go to Mums and Tots, Songs and Rhymes and he gets to play with the other children she looks after. So I don't feel guilty for leaving him. I did at first, but he had smiles for the childminder from the second day I took him there, so I know he enjoys going and I know he likes her and feels at ease.

I always knew, that when we planned a baby, I would always have to go back to work after six months, our finances just wouldn't be able to take it. We could have saved for years in order to ensure we had some money so that I could have extended my leave, but I knew that would have taken years. My hubby is diabetic, and older than me, and often diabetics can have problems conceiving, especially as they get older. So I didn't want to risk waiting much longer. And I didn't want to be an old mum! I wanted to be hip and trendy. Although, I can't say I am that hip and trendy anyway!

So what I do feel about leaving him is sadness. Sadness that I couldn't have had longer with him. Even nine months instead of six, or even until he was a year old. I think perhaps, a year would have been my goal if I could. It would have meant that I was there for important moments, like crawling and first steps etc. I feel sad that we don't get to enjoy things just the two of us anymore. When I was off, it was just him and me whilst hubby was at work and it was blissful; we did what we liked, when we liked. I miss those days and that's what I feel sadness for. I think, also, that as Charlie is getting older and starting to take a few steps and be more independent etc that I am missing him being so tiny and fragile and so utterly dependent on me for everything, particularly feeding. I know they have to grow up but I wish they wouldn't do it so fast! And of course, I miss him immensely. Like nothing I ever thought possible.

I also feel jealously. My instagram feed is cluttered with pictures of SAHMs doing lots of fun and interesting activities with their children. And for me, those pictures are limited to the weekend when I get to spend time with him. I'm jealous of all those mums who get to stay at home with their babies.

What I find ridiculous, is that women are made to feel guilty for leaving their children in the hands of someone else, but then they are ridiculed for being a stay at home mum. They are asked do they feel worthless now they don't have a job. It seems that there is no right answer, labelled whichever path we choose. I'm jealous of these women who stay at home with their children, but I certainly don't ridicule them, or moan about them or think they are worthless human beings. In fact, shouldn't they be praised?! They have given up their career to dedicate their life to another little person and surely that is the best job in the world?

I need to start remembering that I do like my job; it many ways it defines me. From being a small child I would pretend I was a teacher. I'd get my blackboard out and dress up in my Grandma's skirts and tell my teddies and dollies off for not listening. Teaching has been a part of me since I was so young. I need to remember that and focus on that when I am having a bad day and missing Charlie terribly. I am, for the most part, good at what I do. I am creative in terms of lesson planning, but seem to have lost it along the way.

So back to my original point, no I don't feel guilty for ensuring that I am providing for my child by working. But I do wish I could afford for it to be different.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Happy New Year!

I don't really 'do' resolutions. I always make some, in my head, but rarely, if ever do they get stuck to. So this year I am just not going to bother. It's funny actually, as I have read quite a few blog posts lately also declaring they aren't doing resolutions. Is it the mummy force that is making a stand against resolutions?

That said, there are things that I would like to change this year. However they cannot be started in one day or indeed, fulfilled in one day. They are goals I want to achieve and things I want to achieve, but they take time and therefore, are not 'resolutions.' Here is my list of wishes and goals and things I would like to achieve in 2014:

1. Take our first family holiday as a four. You may know, we live away from my family so we often take trips to visit them for a few days, but since Charlie was born, we have not been away.When I say holiday, I don't mean anything exotic like Barbados for example. Just somewhere modest, that has entertainment and facilities for a 9 year old and somewhere that we can relax and chill out for a week. I have been looking at Hoseasons. Hubby and I used to go to one of their get away lodges every Easter and Summer and we even went to one for our honeymoon. You know the kind - hot tubs, forest settings, adults only etc. But clearly, life is different with an almost one year old! So we are looking for something a bit more family friendly. Reading that back it looks like I am digging for a free holiday! I certainly am not, in fact we have nearly chosen the site we are going to and I very nearly typed in my card details this morning to pay the deposit.

2. Plan, organise and host my baby's first birthday. Coincidentally Charlie turns one the year I turn thirty, in fact he is one the day after My birthday! Therefore I am planning a joint birthday for all our family and friends. I am planning to bring in a hog roast company as food and make it dead easy, but still provide nibbles etc. I am also planning to make my own invites. Now this is not something I take lightly! If you know me then you know I am not very arty or indeed creative. I have been saying for three years I will make my own Christmas cards (incidentally this is my third wish for 2014, see below) but never get round to it, so this will be a big thing for me, if I can pull it off successfully that is! I am planning a few presents for Charlie at the moment - one in particular is a memory bear that I am very excited about. If you haven't heard of these, they are soft toys, made out of old baby grows/sleep suits or even baby clothing so that you have a permanent record or reminder of their tiny days. I have chosen a Lion for Charlie from

3. Make my own Christmas cards! This may seem a little early, but I need to get organised. As I said above, arty stuff like this is not my forte, therefore I need some time to think about this and get it right. I have saved all our Christmas cards this year and intend to use bits of those cut up etc to make my cards.

4. Keep my house tidier/more organised. Since we moved our house has been a bomb site. We are now slowly learning to find places for our stuff, but it's taken a while for things to feel like they are in their right place. I also want to make my life at home easier; I don't want to come home after work and spend hours tidying or cleaning. I want to be able to spend that time with Charlie, time that's precious. So I am following the Organised Housewife and have even started using some of her tips and organisational ideas. Her tip about how to clean the oven is this weekend's task! I've been really fed up at home, don't get me wrong, it's never dirty, but there's always a coat that needs putting away or mail that needs filing etc. I want to enjoy our new house; I love it, it's our family home and I want to get more on top of the housework.

5. Keep up with my blog. I definitely neglected this last year, but I had had a baby. But also, I have read lots of blogs of women just having babies and still blogging on a regular basis. I think I juts became lazy.

6. Budget better! Our finances have definitely seen a decline since we started paying for childcare. I always knew this would be the case, but once you actually hit the reality it is very different! I used to just buy something if I wanted it. Now I have to think carefully about if we can afford it and how much we have until the end of the month. I need to keep more careful track of our money and what we spend it on, so that it's not going on junk.

7. Curb my enthusiasm for sour skittles. This started in pregnancy, I loved them and whilst it wasn't a craving, looking back I did eat them a lot! However it continued after having Charlie and even now writing this, I am thinking about which shop sells them near my work (they are hard to come by on the Isle of Man for some reason). However, I don't eat many other sweets or chocolate, so I am not going to be too hard on myself if I fancy a bag now and then. Just not two share size bags over one weekend!

And that's it, I think. These are the things I hope I can achieve and the wishes I have. If they don't come to fruition, then so be it. I certainly won't beat myself up about it.

Are yo writing resolutions?