The evolution of bedtime

I’m back!..for a bit..then I may disappear again, probably. That’s as much consistency as I can promise 😉 Busy work and home schedules aside, I don’t often have anything that interesting to post so I’d rather not write at all.

Anyway, last night, as I was leaving Frances’ room after putting her to sleep, it hit me how much our bedtime routine, as well as our night sleep, has changed [evolved?] over the past couple of years so I thought I’d write about that.

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First 3/6 months – The utter blur 

I still have painful memories of evenings spent bouncing a screaming baby from 6 to 8/9pm [purple hour(s) anyone??] and dreading the moment that my husband would text me saying that he was going to be late from work. That wasn’t bedtime, it was pure survival.

Sleep was [very] broken but I somehow remember the night feeds [and night-time online shopping!] quite romantically. The downside was to have to hold Frances upright for half an hour on end because of her bad reflux.

6 months to 1 year old – The sleep training phase

6 months was a turning point for many things, including transferring Frances into the cot in her bedroom. By that point, we had managed to create a bit of a bedtime routine involving a nice relaxing bath and quiet play and she was falling asleep at the breast [and at the bottle from 10 months onwards] around 7pm and I would then put her in her cot.

She was still waking up 2/3 times a night but it wasn’t even hunger anymore. She was starting at 11pm and on/off throughout the night, so our levels of exhaustion were an all-time high. Most of the time she wouldn’t go back in her cot or she would wake up the moment we’d move towards the door so we had to keep her in bed with us, raised on a foam pillow, and my husband would, more often than not, sleep in the guest bed, as he was too scared of rolling over her in his sleep.

After reading anything we could find on sleep training, methods and pros + cons, we set our mind on controlled crying [don’t judge us!]. Ah, the hope! Ah, the guilt!

It did work pretty well for us initially, although towards the one year mark she started waking up again during the night and we resorted back to bringing her into our bed in the middle of the night.

1 to 2 years old – The co-sleeping phase

A couple of months after Frances turned one, we went on holiday and had to share our room with her again. She really didn’t like the travel cot, which was only a few feet away from our bed, and after 2 nights of transferring her from there into our bed, we just put her in the big bed from the get go. And we made a very important discovery..we could sleep all night (ish) without having to even get up!

Needless to say, once we got back home we carried on with that routine. Just imagine how many times I heard the phrase “you’re making a rod for your own back”! Our nights weren’t entirely peaceful and uninterrupted, especially once Frances started pinching my eyelids for comfort (!). Even without that painful practice, we’d still be woken up by her asking for water twice a night. On the flip side, we didn’t have to do our zombie walk at any point in the night to go pick her up and take her into bed.

Bedtime was still around 7pm, or even earlier on very busy days at nursery, and she was, more often than not, falling asleep at the bottle or she would ask to be walked to sleep.

2 years old – Present – The big independent girl phase

On the eve of her second birthday, just a few months ago, we decided to let Frances sleep in her cot. On and off for a few weeks before, she’d been asking to be put into her bed once half-asleep and then we’d still move her into the big bed once completely asleep.

Leading up to it, we bought a bed guardrail  and on the night before her second birthday we put her down after she fell asleep at the bottle and didn’t transfer her into our bed. That first night she woke up around 3am and at that point I went to pick her up and brought her in bed with us. I didn’t want to go back to the old ways when she’d fall asleep in her bed and we’d then bring her in bed with us every night so over the next few days, I let her play in her bed with the guardrail folded down and that taught her how to get on and off the bed herself. That did the trick and since then we’ve had a good balance of sleep through the night and middle of the night wakings when she’s walked into our bed herself.

The bedtime routine has also changed quite a bit. First of all, she now goes to bed a bit later, between 8 and 8.3opm, unless she’s completely knackered after nursery. Whilst before she’d have her milk whilst sitting on my lap and then walk into bed, now she wants to sit in bed with a pillow propped up behind her back and she has her bottle whilst I read a story. More often than not, she just rolls over and falls asleep as soon as she’s drunk all the milk but in the past couple of weeks, she’s wanted me to ‘lie down’ next to her [basically just my head !] when she finishes the bottle and keeps me in a headlock until her body goes all floppy and I can escape!

Who knows what’s next in the magical world of bedtime..One thing I know is that my little girl is getting more and more independent every day and that’s reflecting in all aspects of her life. I used to spend so much time wishing for the ‘next phase’ which I always thought would be better and easier but now I truly wish I could slow time down and savour the days when my little girl still ‘needs’ me.

 

One vs Two

I’m not talking about age, although I’ve  officially started to panic about F. turning 2 in less than a month! I’m talking about the number of children.

I am an only child and a happy one too. Growing up I don’t remember ever feeling that I was missing out by not having siblings as I had lots of friends, who coincidentally were only children too, and plenty of play dates. I’m sure that at some point I would have turned to my mum and asked for a little brother or sister but that never affected me much.

My husband has one brother and one sister. They are not close at all and have never been so he’s not grown up with the big family dream. It’s always been a ‘we’ll see’ scenario for us and he has always said that he was happy to take my lead on that as I’d be the one putting my body through pregnancy etc

Fast forward 2 or 3 decades and here I am, mum to a nearly 2 years old strong willed toddler, having to justify myself for not wanting any more children.

Why?

Pregnancy

2014-02-01 14.40.12I loved being pregnant and I had an easy one too. But it wasn’t easy to get to that point. In the grand scheme of things, mine wasn’t the worst struggle to get pregnant ever but I did have a miscarriage before Frances  and I still bear that horrible feeling with me. I’m all for ‘onwards and upwards’ but some things stick with you forever.
I’m not getting any younger either and am already in the ‘senior’ group for mummy age so that scares me too from a health point of view.

Labour and birth

Whilst my pregnancy was uneventful, labour and birth was a rather traumatising experience. Not going into detail just in case those horrible images come back to me! I also suffered from quite an ugly bout of depression and anxiety for the first few months. Not. to. be. repeated.

Sleep

2014-05-12 11.49.28I’m yet to have a whole night of uninterrupted sleep after 2 years. This alone should make up the argument! Jokes aside, we’ve had a very rough ride with sleep so far and that doesn’t fill me with one tiny bit of confidence about what we’d have to go through if we decided to have another baby.

Support

There are times when I seriously think about having a second child, maybe not now, but when Frances is a bit older and hopefully calmer and can communicate properly.

Then I think about all those fine balances we try to keep all the time. Two full time working parents with no support network around us, apart from one lovely babysitter who’s moving to India for a year in September.

People always say ‘if you really want it, then you’ll find a way to make it happen’. Then it probably means I don’t want it enough as just thinking about that one makes my nose bleed.

Money

2014-12-28 14.26.57I’m not going to deny that money plays a part in our decision. My husband and I both have good jobs and we have a comfortable lifestyle. I want my daughter to see the world,  and us with her, and I’d like to be able to make decisions about our future as a family without worrying that we are not going to get to the end of the month.

When I first had Frances, people kept repeating to me to ‘only do what works for you and your family’ and this is exactly it. I think we work very well as a team of 3 so whilst I have the out most respect and admiration for those people who decide to have more than one child and face all of the other above [and much much more], I think I’ll pass!

 

Discovering new blogs – Liebster Awards!

liebster2I have never been nominated for anything in my life really so when the lovely mummy blogger The Joy of Momming sent me a note saying that she had nominated me for a liebster award I initially thought Lieb..what?

But when I read about it I felt quite proud to be nominated!

The Liebster Awards help you discover new blogs with less than 200 followers so now that I have been nominated I will have to nominate other lovely blogs that need to be better known out there 🙂

Here are the rules to follow:

– acknowledge the blog that nominated you
– write 11 random facts about you
– answer the 11 questions that the nominating blog gave you
– nominate 5-10 blogs (less than 200 followers) and let them know you have nominated them
– give them 11 questions to answer

11 random facts about me:

1. I shaved my head when I was 18. It wasn’t a breakdown Britney-style but I was very much into my grunge years and the look went well together with my doc Marten’s and piercings. Or so I thought!
2. I could happily survive on just roast potatoes and melted cheese. And pizza.
3. Although I’ve lived in the UK for over 10 years, I still struggle to pronounce bed, bread and crackers correctly. That’s quite random indeed. And I’m sure there are many more words I still mispronounce.
4. I am terrified of jellyfish. Never been stung by one but these days I rarely swim in the sea although I used to love that as a kid
5. Favourites: book (The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe), song (Black by Pearl Jam), movie (Dirty Dancing)
6. I have about 5 pairs of heels under my desk at work so I just walk to work in trainers and then change shoes
7. I used to make jewellery and set up my own Etsy shop. Would love to start again one day when Frances will be able to be around small beads without wanting to eat them!
8. When I was 16 I tried to give myself a tattoo with needle and ink. Got bored after a short while but I still have 2 little black dots on my left wrist!
9. Until I hit my teen years (and started smoking..) I was a very fast runner. I have no idea about best time or anything like that but I could run the 100m faster than all the boys at school and I consistently won first place in the school competitions
10. Most nights I dream of my grandparents house, incorporated into whatever location my dream is set in. Sometimes it’s the exact house in the exact road or it’s just a room or two in another location altogether but definitely it. Always makes me smile when I wake up and remember it
11. When I have cereal I put a little spoonful of instant coffee granules in the milk. Only with the cornflakes type, not granola variety. When people see me do that they are between shocked and disgusted 🙂

These are  my answers to the questions that The Joy of Momming gave me:

  1. What was the last thing you ate? Porridge
  2. If you had to give your high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Put yourself more out there. Nothing to be shy about and the boy does like you back [I only found out years later!]
  3. You just won the award for being the best *blank*. What award did you win? The best hoarder 🙂
  4. What is your most prized material possession? A watch I got for my 30th birthday and my engagement ring
  5. Who is the best cook you know and what is the best thing they make? My mum. She makes the most wonderful Bolognese sauce
  6. If you won an all expense paid vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be? New Zealand
  7. Where is your happy place? The kitchen
  8. Are you more of a glass half full or glass half empty person? I tend to be ‘half empty’ but I’m working really hard to change that
  9. When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing that you do? Take my ear plugs off
  10. Which season do you like best? Spring
  11. Where do you do most of your blogging from? The office, at lunchtime

The lovely blogs I would like to nominate:

Playing House

Like Real Life

Two and a Half Socks

One Day at a Time

Trying to be a Good Mummy

Here are the 11 questions for them to answer:

  1. Sweet or savoury?
  2. What is the one piece of clothing that you wear the most?
  3. What’s your best cooking recipe?
  4. What was your dream job as a kid?
  5. Snowy mountains or sandy beaches?
  6. What’s the first thing you do when you have an hour to yourself?
  7. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
  8. What is your favourite TV series?
  9. What’s your worst pet peeve?
  10. Best childhood memory?
  11. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?

Well, that was fun! Hope you enjoyed reading it too 🙂

Desk lunch: Bulgur wheat with tenderstem broccoli and feta cheese

After a few months spent exploring all the lunch options around my new office, I have finally gone back to making my own lunches to bring in to work.

I’ve been making quite a few soups  [and baking my own bread which I love] and stews  [pretty sure I’ve already declared my love for the slow-cooker] and then at least one day a week I try to make a nice pasta/rice salad with whatever is left in the fridge really.

This time around I chose bulgur wheat which I was not very familiar with but I had it in the cupboard so I gave it a go. The result was really good and filling and it kept me going until dinner time without the need of a mid-afternoon snack [unheard of!]

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Ingredients :
– 1 cup of bulgur wheat
– 1.5 cups of tenderstem broccoli
– 1.5 cups of feta cheese
– 2 tbsp of green pesto
– 2 tbsp of olive oil

Put the bulgur wheat into a bowl and pour boiling water over it until it fully covers it and it’s 1 inch over the wheat. Cover with a lid and leave it on the side for about 20/25 mins.

In the meantime boil some water and put 1/25 tbsp of sea salt into the water. Chop the broccoli in 3-4 cm chunks and boil them for 3 minutes then drain.

When the bulgur wheat is ready, fluff it up with a fork and stir in 2 tbsp of pesto to add a bit more flavour. Then add the drained broccoli and finally crumble the feta cheese into the bowl.

Mix well and add olive oil bit by bit to make sure your salad is nicely [and lightly] coated.

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I had this salad cold straight from the office fridge but it would have been equally  yummy if I had heated it up.

Enjoy!

Healthy but yummy dessert

My husband and I love a good sweet treat at the end of a meal [who doesn’t?!]. It’s a habit that mainly started when we gave up smoking a few years ago and having a little dessert became a replacement for the cigarette. Definitely healthier but our waistline didn’t certainly benefit from it!

However it got a bit out of control lately and, with the added excuse of work-related stress, we just binged on chocolate and cake at any given occasion. Pretty much every night of the week.

This. had. to. stop.

For the past couple of weeks we have just been buying tubs of [fat-free] vanilla yogurt in an attempt to reduce calories whilst still enjoying a sweet treat. We pour it in pretty vintage tea cups and choose different toppings every time, to keep it fun.

It is yummy, healthy [depends on the topping though!] and it doesn’t break the bank!

 

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Here’s one I made earlier…Sugar sprinkles for hubby and chopped hazelnuts for me. Both topped with honey

Busy mum’s 10 minute make-up routine

As I already explained in a previous post, I get ready every day between 6am and 6.30am and then my husband and I switch places so I look after F. until 7am, which is when I leave the house.

Needless to say, I don’t have much time to waste and it is such a disaster when I’m not sure about what to wear or the outfit I had in mind really doesn’t look as pretty as I thought! A few months ago I cut my hair really short so my shower [and hair drying] time has reduced dramatically. This means that I have a good 10 minutes to put make-up on. Whoo-hoo!

I’ve never been that much into make-up but as time goes by [ie. more wrinkles to cover!] I don’t mind making a bit of an investment into good long-lasting products.

My make-up is very simple, really. I just rely on a good base, a bit of eyeliner and mascara and, when I’m really in the mood, a red or cherry coloured lipstick that I put on in the office after I’ve had breakfast [although I rarely re-apply it during the day so if you’re lucky you can see me wearing lipstick between 9am and 10am!]

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Here’s some links for you:

ConcealerBenefit Erase Paste applied with Kiko Milano Concealer brush
FoundationYves Saint Laurent La Teint Touche Eclat applied with Real Techniques Foundation Blending Sponge
Matting powder – MAC Blot Powder
BronzerBenefit Hoola Bronzer
Eyebrows shapingBenefit Brow Zings kit
Eyeshadow PrimerUrban Decay Original Primer Potion
Eyeliner – L’Oreal Black Eyeshadow [I bought this so many years ago that what you see in the photo is not on the market anymore! However you can use any other black eyeshadow, like this for example]. I apply it with Kiko Milano eyeliner brush [I just wet it a little and that makes the eyeshadow very dark and very easy to apply and ‘stick’]
MascaraEstee Lauder Lash Primer Plus AND Estee Lauder Sumptuous Infinite
Lip stainMeMeMe Cherub’s Blush
OR
Lipstick – The one in the photo is a very old Giorgio Armani ‘Brick Red’ lipstick, quite similar to this one – Colour 401]

 

Whatever works

Oh my, have I really not posted anything since July?!

I hate using the whole ‘I’ve been busy running after my toddler’ excuse but that’s not too far from the truth! I actually found myself with too many ideas about this blog and not a clue about what to prioritise so the result was not posting at all.

I can’t possibly  recap all that’s happened in the past 6 months but I can certainly give you a snippet.

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What a difference 6 months make!

Co-sleeping saved our life
It was just after our holiday [or during, more like it] that we completely gave up trying to get Frances to sleep in her cot. Up to that point we had made an effort to keep her in her cot at least for the first part of the night and then we would get up and bring her into our bed when she was starting crying around midnight. Failing to do that would result into getting up an average of 3 to 4 times a night to put her back to sleep.

Then, whilst on holiday, one night she fell asleep in our big bed in the hotel room, and we didn’t have the guts to transfer her into the travel cot. That night she slept beautifully, like she [and we] hadn’t done in so long. When we got home from holiday, we carried on with that arrangement and before we knew it we were fully fledged co-sleepers, and still are.

Now, I don’t want to get into the old debate about if or how co-sleeping ruins children and alters all balances in the family. It’s not that I’m in denial, not at all. It’s just that in nearly two years I have now accepted the fact that sometimes you gotta do whatever works for you, your child and your little family as a whole.

My daughter is happy. A happy and independent little 21 months old girl. She enjoys cuddles at night and we love seeing her cheeky grin first thing in the morning [even if she still doesn’t sleep past 6am on a good day]. We will get to a point where this solution is not going to suit everyone and we will find another one, like we’ve always done. End of.

Change is good
Unless it’s nappy-change and that’s still not fun! Around September time [which, like many say, is ‘the new January’] I decided to look around for a new job. I had been in my current place for 5 years, including maternity leave, and I was really in need of a fresh challenge. I had that thought in my head even before having a baby really, but for obvious reasons I stuck around. Then I wanted to make sure that F. was well settled at nursery and we didn’t have to leave work too often due to all her nursery-related bugs.

So, I started sending out my CV to a few places and one evening after work, I had a nearly 2-hour interview which was followed, the next day, by a job offer! I started the new job exactly 3 months ago, at the end of October, and I’m loving it. It’s the same remit I had before but the difference is that I am a one-person-team so all the responsibilities within the HR/Talent Development remit fall on me now. I wanted a challenge and I definitely did get one! I still work flexible hours so I can leave at 4.30pm and go pick up the little one from nursery an hour later.

Blah Blah Blah
Everyone says that, around 18 months, children have a ‘speech explosion’ [I’m pretty sure experts use a different term!] but I’d somehow missed the memo that said that the first word, and the second and the third, would be NO!

Would you like a banana / anything remotely healthy? NO
Let’s go change this stinky nappy? NO
How about we sit here and read a book / pretend to make tea / smear play-doh all over the house? NO [she may actually be up for the latter!]

Jokes aside, it felt like Frances’ vocabulary really did explode pretty much overnight. She started with the basics, Mamma and Papa, and carried on through to naming body parts, foods or names of toys. She can now put two words together, like Papa’s shoes or Mamma’s coat but she still doesn’t say her own name and refers to herself as Tata.

I only ever speak Italian to her and, whilst she speaks mostly English, she can understand everything I say to her and it’s amazing to see already that she doesn’t need any time whatsoever to elaborate that into her brain to understand what I’m saying. She just knows. Very fascinating. I’ve been told that it may take her a little longer to start talking properly because she’s learning two languages at once but I love the fact that for example now she can actually communicate her discomfort, by saying ‘itchy’ or ‘hand’ to point at something that is hurting. It has definitely made our life easier and her less frustrated as she’s now able to tell us what’s wrong.

Meet our new BFF, Peppa Pig
I am certainly part of that category of parents who swore they would NEVER put their kids in front of a TV or computer and I’m quite ashamed to admit that back in the day I also found myself feeling judgemental towards those parents who did.

Up to a month or so ago, I was kind of proud that F. wasn’t really interested in watching telly. We did try and leave the cartoons on, when we really needed a break, but she just wasn’t interested and I was happy with that.

Then during the Christmas holidays, we found ourselves stuck at home for a few days as the weather was so dreadful that it would have been crazy to go out plus F. had a bad cough too. We had a Peppa Pig’s CD and book which she loved and we were listening to it time and time again for weeks. So we just pulled an episode of Peppa Pig up on Netflix and we all watched it snuggled up on the couch and it was so lovely and probably the longest break we ever had all together at home.

Things have got out of hand a little recently as she’s asking for Pig constantly. She watches it before nursery in the morning and when she gets home [and we take turns to sit next to her]. I stressed about that initially but then thought of all the other activities that we do with her during weekends [playgrounds, aquarium, baby orchestra, etc..] and all the quality time that we have as a family.

During the week she spends 8 hours every day at nursery playing, reading, singing, running so if she wants to watch her little friend Peppa Pig and her colourful family I’m not going to stress about it any longer and I’m just going to join her on the couch and enjoy a break that we both need after a long day.

So, here I am! It’s good to be back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can we really call it a holiday?

Here I am..I’m back!

Apart from being very busy at work, the main reason why I haven’t posted anything in a while is that I’ve been on holiday! I’ve been away with the little one a few times since she was born but this time it was a ‘proper’ holiday. In a hotel. On the beach. With a toddler..

This time last year, Frances was 3 months old so we went up to the Alps where my parents have a house [see post here if you fancy]. It was fairly challenging but, in hindsight, it was a breeze compared to this year’s holiday!

We went to Rimini, a busy and bubbly town on the east coast of Italy, pretty much opposite Croatia.

Rimini

It’s quite a popular holiday destination mainly amongst the young crowds due to its nightlife but it’s also very handy for families with young kids like us as there are long and wide sandy beaches where the little ones can run around and play.

We were lucky as my parents came along otherwise I wouldn’t exactly call it a holiday. I would most likely call it same daily madness running after a 1+ year old but with less clothes on and in the heat

Recently, Frances had developed a weird fear of water..I say ‘weird’ as up until not long ago she absolutely loved bath time and splashing around in general. Then, one day, she just started screaming when I put her in the tub. We overcame that by putting her in the empty bath tub and then running the water with her in it [personally, that would freak me out more]

Given this precedent, I was so worried that she would be scared of the sea, and understandably so. First thing we did when we got there [after a rather challenging flight!] was go to the beach and give it a try..Well, not only did she like dipping her feet into the sea, but she was trying to drag us forward! It was heart warming to watch and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Such a big softy 🙂

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First time on the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the next two weeks, we played with sand..

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Favourite activity: destroying sand castles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..we splashed around in the sea..

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..and in the hotel swimming pool..

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It wasn’t all fun and games though..oh no no no!

First of all, her routine was all over the place. For the first few days there was no routine, really. We tried to keep her nap times the same as back home and we also let her sleep a bit longer in the afternoon [sometimes, she’d sleep over 2 hours..unheard of!]

Her usual 6.30/7pm bedtime was pushed back to 9/9.30pm which was the earliest we could do given that dinner in the hotel was at 7.30pm. Sadly, her waking time in the morning didn’t shift by even 10 minutes so she was up between 5.30 and 6am regardless. I’m sure she did it so that we could see the beautiful sun rise over the sea every morning. How thoughtful!

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She point blank refused milk both morning and evening and every meal time it was a battle to get her to eat anything other than crusty bread. Whilst away she cut 3 pre-molars so surely that’s got a lot to do with it.

Did I mention how much fun it was to put suncream on her? Let me show you how fun it was..

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Yes, you can see 4 hands in this photo..my parents’ hands. One would pin her down to the bed and the other would rub cream as fast a possible, like a ninja!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those two weeks away also brought a few new things in Frances’ developmental repertoire..Not only did she start saying No no no whilst shaking her little finger in front of her face but she’d also move your hands away with a stern No! if you were in her way.

She also started blowing kisses with her hand and smile on command when having her picture taken [that only happened on a few occasions but it was hilarious!!]. She also started saying bau bau every time she saw a dog as that’s the dog sound in Italian, as opposed to the English woof woof

All in all, it was a good break..break from the usual routine, from the rush in our every day life and from the same old toys back home. It wasn’t a breeze and it wasn’t the holiday I was used to [sunbathing and reading books. End of]. But even if I literally spent about 2 hours in total in the whole holidays lying down in the sun, I got to see my little girl discovering so many new things and that will never tire me out.

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I *had to* document the only time I lied down in the sun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before and after

I’ve been neglecting my blog a little in the past week or so. It has been a manic few days at work coupled with terrible sleep-lacking nights.

One word: teething.

Premolars. Ouch.

Poor little baba.

As you can imagine and may have experienced first hand, teething comes with a range of challenges, including poor eating,  for obvious reasons.

So I just wanted to show how fun these past few dinner times have been..

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….

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Sorry for the speedy post but that’s all I have time for before going to clean the kitchen!