Astrid’s birthday was almost a month ago now. I’ve been writing this a little bit here and there for weeks! It’s so hard to find time to sit and write these days.
It’s so weird that a whole year has gone by since my second beautiful little darling daughter arrived in the world. Last year was such a difficult year for me, and so I feel like I didn’t give her the first year of life that she deserves. I fully intend to make up for that this year.
She’s a funny little creature. Mostly she’s an incredible bubbly little bundle of joy, with a big cheeky grin and an infectious laugh. She loves music, and sings in babble at the top of her lungs while swaying from side to side. When she hears music she dances, and even if there’s no music she usually starts dancing on demand.
When she’s unhappy, she lets you know too. With an ear piercing scream followed by wailing that sometimes seems endless. She’s mostly been a bit of a mystery to me. With Iris I always seemed to just know why she was crying even if I couldn’t actually make her stop. Most of the time with Astrid I have no idea whatsoever. I don’t know if she’s a more complicated baby or if it’s because I’ve not been myself for most of her babyhood. When she was really tiny she often became completely inconsolable in public, and I couldn’t handle the judgemental stares of strangers or the stress of trying to get us all home with her shouting. It happens far less often now, but it still happens.
Her first word was ‘cat’ and I wasn’t surprised. She loves the cats. Margot isn’t interested in human affection at all and avoids her, but Galahad loves a snuggle and she loves nothing more than stroking him and laughing at him (and tugging his fur a little bit). He seems to know how she feels about him and he likes to hang around her. She also says ‘hiya’ regularly and loudly. When she spots a big sister, or when people walk into a room. Lots of objects have become toy phones, which she holds around the back of her head (nowhere near her ear!) and shouts HIYA at. ‘Dada’ is said in context, mostly called out when he leaves the room and she’s not sure why or where he has gone. Most recently she’s started saying ‘yeah’ when you ask her a question. She seems to sense the tone of a question even if she has no idea what you asked.
She’s crawling at high speed, and there’s no escaping her now! She follows me all around the downstairs and the days of being unable to go to the loo in peace are back. She also climbs, and it’s often really scary. I don’t want to be right behind her undermining her all the time, because climbing is clearly her thing and she’s good at it, but it terrifies me! I have to secretly cringe in fear from a bit further away. Rearranging furniture to stop her from climbing anywhere really dangerous takes up a lot of my day. I think walking is a little way off, which I’m a bit relieved about. She took her first steps on the afternoon of her birthday, and the odd step since, but doesn’t seem particularly bothered. She does let go and stand unaided for a long time quite often, and she whizzes around at high speed pushing a sit on ladybird that she can’t sit on because her feet don’t reach the floor. She’s my last baby, and I’m happy that she’s in no rush to stop being a baby!
Her sleep is fantastic compare to Iris as a baby. Compared to Iris now actually! She mostly sleeps all through the night, unless she’s got a cough or something or she’s disturbed by Iris being noisy. To the parents out there with babies who never sleep, please don’t think I’m boasting. I’m not. I haven’t done any sleep training or tried to make her sleep through. It’s just who she is. I can’t say I’m not relieved, but I do know your pain at the lack of sleep. Iris never slept as a baby and is still rubbish at 2 and a half. Unfortunately Astrid is an early bird and I am not. When she pokes me awake at 5am I am not amused.
Day time naps are down to two, usually around 10 and 2 but currently less predictable, which I think may mean they are about to change. If she’s up early (she usually is!) she’ll sleep at 9am and on a day when Iris goes to nursery in the morning there’s no noise to disturb her, meaning that sometimes she gives me a full two hours to get some housework done without her ‘help’.
Astrid eats like she’s got a bottomless stomach. Iris was the same but I think Astrid’s appetite is even bigger. She will literally eat all day if there’s food available. I have to be careful that she doesn’t, because when she overeats she gets tummy ache and trapped wind which really upsets her. Thankfully she will eat all of the healthy stuff. Apart from bananas, which she won’t even consider eating, I’ve not found another thing she doesn’t like. Over Christmas she even enjoyed a pickled onion or three.
Astrid loves being outdoors, especially now she can crawl. I’ve let her down a bit by not being outdoors enough lately, but I plan to rectify it. I’ve invested in waterproof trousers for her, and have no problem at all with her crawling around in the mud and wet grass. I was so looking forward to the crawling stage so she wouldn’t have to be restricted to the sling or pushchair while we were out, but I haven’t made the most of it at all.
She has just two teeth, the bottom front ones. The same two Iris had when she turned one. It seems I make slow teethers. It doesn’t hold her back from eating crunchy foods, and they came through without too much of a struggle. I’m half expecting her to get a whole bunch more all at once now, like Iris did. Her hair is getting long now, and hangs in her eyes. I can’t decide if I should trim her fringe or keep trying to sweep it to one side until it tucks behind her ear. She will not tolerate a clip for more than a few minutes! I was expecting another bald baby like Iris, who has only really grown hair since turning two. I’m amazed at how blonde Astrid is too!
She’s a much bigger baby, and is wearing clothes that Iris was wearing this time last year at 18 months. Unlike my long limbed Iris, she’s sturdy and more compact. She was weighed when she had her vaccinations recently, and weighs 20lb. That’s her first weigh in since she was tiny and probably her last for a long while. I’ve never really understood the point in constantly weighing babies unless you have concerns about them. She’s energetic and eating well and growing.
I really hoped we’d still be breastfeeding, but yet again we didn’t make it to the first birthday. It went exactly the same way it did with Iris, only I couldn’t blame it on pregnancy this time. She just lost interest. She was down to one feed in the evening at around 10 months, and then gradually lost interest in that feed too. Her last feed was a few days before her birthday, and I had no idea it was going to be her last feed. I offered several more times but she just didn’t care. I’m gutted but also relieved. I have so many friends who would happily wean their older children off the breast but can’t without a battle and upsetting the child. At least I won’t have to go through that. I think feeding older children is amazing, but I’m not sure I could handle it. Once they start wriggling I start feeling uncomfortable. It feels like an invasion of my personal space when they start trying to put their big toe up your nose during a feed. Astrid also liked to attempt to pick a mole off my neck while feeding which was painful, and she’d get cross and cry if I tried to get her to stop. She scratched too, and hit me several times. Our no-boob cuddles are much nicer. She’s a very snugly girl and loves a cuddle!
I hope that being in my dark cloud for the whole of her first year hasn’t affected our bond forever. She seems pretty attached to me, which is a good sign. I will forever feel awful that I’ve been here physically but not really in spirit for her months as a baby.
She’s a joy. She really is. Her big round squishy face makes me so happy, especially when she gives me one of her big beaming smiles and shows me her dimples and her two teeth. She’s lots of fun and already has a great sense of humour. I can’t imagine life without her. I barely even remember what it was like to just have Iris.
I’m determined that this next year will be a much much better one, and so far it’s going well.
I can’t believe January is over already. It’s usually a month that stretches far into the future and never seems to end. I think because I had focus and started new things it didn’t feel like that this year.
I’m starting to become obsessed with my weight and body shape again, and it’s really hard to take my mind from that and onto the important stuff. Like eating for nutrition, and eating things that actually make my body feel good. I’ve lost weight in January, but not loads. That wasn’t my main aim. In fact it wasn’t one of my aims at all.
Eating vegan food has been pretty life changing for me. I never really cooked before. When I had to I really didn’t enjoy it. Now I’m cooking all kinds of different meals from scratch, using ingredients I have never ever used. And what’s really stunned me is that I absolutely love it. I enjoy my time in the kitchen before dinner every night, even if Astrid hates me cooking and has to be nearby eating breadsticks or I won’t get away with it.
I’ve made pasta sauces and curries and sweet potato fries and casseroles. I’ve loved eating without feeling any guilt, and I really love knowing exactly what is in my food. I know what’s there because I put it there.
I tried to make a pros and cons to vegan eating list the other day and I just couldn’t. There are so many pros, and the only con I can think of is that lots of restaurants and cafes make it very difficult to eat out. I rarely eat out so it’s no biggie, and I think it’s something that is slowly changing anyway. There’s also the people who insist on commenting, but as most of their comments are either dumb (like “mmm, bacon” as if that’s going to upset me) or are from people concerned about my calcium or iron intake, I can handle it. With the amount of spinach I’ve been eating I’ve got no worries!
I barely ate any dairy or eggs anyway. I’d been veggie for years and years and years with just the odd hiccup, and I didn’t like dairy and eggs. They just taste slimy to me. I only had them as ingredients in things, like cakes and biscuits, and I’ve discovered that I can find alternatives easily for all of those things.
With so little left to actually give up, I wasn’t expecting to feel major benefits. So I’ve been surprised to find there are so many. It has had an impact on literallly everything.
My skin has been dry and flaky whilst also spotty for a while, and I was regularly getting great big horrible boils. Gross. My skin is clearing up rapidly, and while it’s still not brilliant it is getting there. My stomach doesn’t bloat and feel uncomfortable after eating anymore. I have totally over eaten a few times in January, but it hasn’t been as uncomfortable and horrible as it used to be. Once I’d got past the excess wind (soz -tmi!) of the first few days my digestive system seems to be working so much better. I’m not reaching for the peppermint tea to relieve tummy ache every evening. My energy levels have increased greatly. I still get very little sleep thanks to a combination of babies waking up and my own insomnia, but I’m coping with it so much better now. I think I’m less moody, although you’d have to ask Trevor to be totally sure on that one. I definitely feel less moody, and less anxious too. My mental health has definely improved and that was the biggest surprise. I guess there’s some doubt that it’s definitely eating well that has changed it, as it could also be because I quit my medication over Christmas. A friend told me today that she’d been quite concerned about me last year, and that I seem to be in a better place now. That’s good to hear. I’m glad I seem better on the outside too.
There’s no way I’m going back.
In fact, I think I’m going to take this further. I think my sugar addiction (I reckon most of us are addicted) is holding me back. Instead of feeling pretty good, I could be feeling amazing! I don’t think I’m ready to quit it all together, but I do plan to be more ‘sugar-aware’. When I eat sugary stuff I don’t notice when I’ve had enough and end up binging. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve had the odd bar of vegan chocolate recently, and I’ve been making myself eat it slowly and stop when I’m satisfied. I’ve found that I can leave a half eaten bar in a kitchen cupboard for days and days now. Previously I couldn’t know it was there and not eat it.
I’m really proud of myself for completing Veganuary, and for sticking with it too. I’ve saved animals, contributed less to global warming, spent far less on food every week, learnt to cook, provided my family with healthier meals than before, lost some weight, improved my health, made big steps in improving my mental health, encouraged a friend to change her ways, and learnt to like myself a bit more. That’s not small stuff.
I haven’t written anything down in quite a few days. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happy. I just didn’t feel like writing.
Tonight I went to my second roller derby fresh meat session (I missed last week with a rotten cold). There were a whole bunch of new people tonight, and I joined their group to recap a bit. It seems that the only thing I really missed was skating backwards, which I just couldn’t figure out at all!
Despite that, I had the best time. I feel like I’ve done some real exercise this evening and there’s every chance I’ll be quite sore tomorrow!
Friday 27th January
Today both of my little ones are tired from coughing all night so are sleeping the day away, while I lie on the end of the bed reading a book and writing this. Tonight the Roller Derby team are having a bit of a party to celebrate their 4th birthday. I so want to skate to let off some steam, but I’m currently battling with the guilt of leaving poorly babies behind to go out and enjoy myself.
Saturday 28th January
So roller skating has become my happy place as to be honest I’m not feeling the happy this week. Iris has been hugely challenging and Astrid has pushed me to my limits too. I’m tired because they both have a cough that keeps us all up all night. It’s partly just me, being hormonal and grumpy. But it’s partly being stuck in the house too. With the little ones having colds and with all the decluttering effort, we haven’t been out much. I have to change that, because Iris needs fresh air and adventures. That’s my aim for next week. Just get out and do stuff.
The party at roller derby was so much fun last night. We played games, and one of them involved lots of deliberate falling. It was so much fun, I was giggling like a little kid the whole time. I’m a bit bruised today but I can cope with that. Totally worth it. Tomorrow I’m skating again, taking the big girls with me for recreational skating. Then Monday is fresh meat training again. Lots of skating! It’s great, and it’s given me a way to let off steam.
I can’t stop thinking about buying my own boots already. I know where my birthday money will be going this year!
I’m scoffing down pasta as I type this, completely unable to remember why I ever ate any animal products. A lot of the books I’ve been reading and things I’ve been trying to change since new year are starting to become connected to each other. Before buying or preparing food I’ve been thinking about what ‘sparks joy’ thanks to Marie Kondo and what ‘adds value to my life’ thanks to The Minimalists. I’ve realised that even the foods that do spark joy often only do so for a little while. A huge cheesy pizza is the only non-vegan thing I really fancy (thanks to a table full of it at roller Derby party tonight!) but as much as I always enjoyed pizza, I felt bloated, stuffed, lethargic and guilty soon after eating it. There’s no joy in that. We’re going to make pizza from scratch tomorrow, as the kids love doing that, and I’m going to give it a go with some Violife vegan cheese Trevor picked up for me. However, I know that even if it tastes amazing I’ll feel rubbish after eating it. If it doesn’t work out it’s no biggie. I can live without pizza. I never thought I’d say that.
Saturday 28th January
I’ve barely eaten today and I’m not hungry at all. I’m not sure what that’s all about. I don’t mean to skip meals, but I noticed today that I don’t snack constantly anymore and that’s a great thing!
We did make pizzas this evening. After helping the kids with the dough and toppings, it was about 2 hours into pizza making when I finally got to eat mine. I didn’t really want it. Didn’t fancy it at all. Then the Violife cheese wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be and I couldn’t eat it anyway. I reckon it would have been nicer with just the sauce and vegetable toppings. I didn’t need the cheese at all. Next time I don’t think I’ll bother with it. Whilst the real cheese pizzas were cooking I had no desire at all to give in and eat them. I think I’m over it.
I’ve woken up today after no sleep at all with horrendous period pain! I think ‘shark week’ is probably going to be my biggest hurdle (hello chocolate!) so I guess it could be a good thing that I’m starting with it. I often lose my appetite when I feel this rough, so I’ve only managed a couple of slices of toast today (with dairy free spread!) and can’t even face having a coffee. Squash and paracetamol are my friends today.
Despite physically feeling rubbish, I’m excited for the month to come. We took the Christmas decorations down this morning, and it now feels like time to face the new year. I have been vegetarian most of my adult like with a few hiccups, so not eating meat isn’t going to be an issue at all. I don’t like milk, and switched to dairy free milk and butter substitutes quite a long time ago now. I can’t bring myself to eat eggs since having Astrid either. So my only hurdles really are going to be ingredients. Stuff that I eat and drink without worrying about it’s content, like cake and chocolate and alcoholic drinks, will need some thought.
I want to use this as an opportunity to work on my dreadful eating habits, my health and nutrition, my organisation and my (in)ability to cook. So I’m meal planning. I’ve already planned evening meals for much of next week, and although Trevor and the kids aren’t going vegan with me they will be eating what I cook in the evenings. I think it’s going to have a positive affect on all of us. I’m a little bit worried about Iris who has become a real fussy eater lately and doesn’t have much of an appetite, but only time will tell. Maybe eating better will help her.
My tummy is too unsettled for lunch today, and I’ll probably have something plain and light for dinner. I’ve just got to hide all of the Christmas chocolate that is lurking all around my house so that it doesn’t tempt me, and do some research into the best dairy free chocolates because I now it’s not something I can quit completely!
I’m still reading the Mel Wells book, The a Goddess Revolution. It’s about having a healthy relationship with food and your body, and I’m really enjoying it. It very anti-diets, which I think is great. I do need to lose weight but counting calories just sucks all of the fun out of life and I end up rebelling and stuffing my face.
Monday 2nd January
It’s been such an easy and awesome second day! I’m not sure why I expected it to be hard really. We’re not shoppers in our house. We don’t do a big weekly shop and we don’t do meal planning. We quite often decide what’s for dinner as Trevor leaves work and he picks it up the way home. It’s disorganised and expensive, and I’m determined to change it. I wrote a big shopping list based on my meal plans for the week, and today while Trevor and the little ones hung out in the park I shopped. I know it’s such a stereotype, but it felt like such a break to go food shopping all by myself. Who needs a spa day, eh? About 90% of what I bought was fresh fruit and veg. I’m trying to minimise the amount of meat and dairy substitutes because they can get expensive, and frankly we could use a lot more fruit and veg in our diet. I did pick up some Oatly oat milk though, because it was on offer and I have wanted to try it for quite a while. I’ve never brought or cooked a fennel bulb before, but today I did both! I made a ‘super-veg’ pasta sauce from an online recipe, while Trevor played with the kids. I really enjoyed cooking (which was unexpected because I’ve always really bloody hated cooking) and the sauce was amazing. I love the lovely fennel flavour, and I feel really good tonight knowing I had more than my 5 a day today, and no animals suffered for a single thing I ate. Including the chocolate I’m currently munching on, guilt free.
I have, however, discovered a downside! This is a bit tmi, but oh my goodness I am so windy. From reading the Veganuary Facebook group, it seems to be a common reaction to adding so much veg to your diet and thankfully it doesn’t last long. Phew.
Thursday 5th January
Wow, I’m really enjoying this! I’ve stuck to our meal plan every evening, and I’m really enjoying cooking. Iris has declared my food ‘disgusting’ a couple of times but she’s going through a phase of fussy eating and is the same with any food, so I’m not too offended. We’ve been eating a lot of pasta, and I’m a bit bored with it, so I need to have a think about alternatives. We’re not home from Breastfeeding Support Group in time to cook much on a Thursday, so tonight we had hoummous and salad wraps. So easy, and even Iris ate some. I’m still pretty windy (tmi, soz!) but I can’t quite believe how much better I feel already. I have so much energy and I’m managing to be pretty organised when normally I’m too tired to even keep up with the dishes. Go me!
Sunday 8th January
We’re a week in, and I am having the best time! My tummy has settled now, and my craving for sugary stuff have eased off. Cooking from scratch every day is still really enjoyable. I’m utterly amazed by how much better I feel already. I’ve completely banned myself from using the bathroom scales (because I get obsessive and I’ve vowed not to give a crap what the numbers say anymore) but I’d be willing to bet that I’m a few lbs down. My clothes just feel better on. I’m less bloated and have lots more energy.
There’s a vegan sausage casserole bubbling away in my slow cooker that has been making my house smell incredible and my tummy rumble all day. I’m hoping it’ll get Iris eating because she usually likes stews and casseroles. Fingers crossed. The little ones and Trevor aren’t going vegan with me (they had KFC yesterday!) but they’re having a vegan evening meal every night because I’m doing the cooking.
I’m not missing anything. An old version of me might have really struggled with cheese, but I went right off it when I was pregnant with Iris and my love of it has never really come back. I like an occasional pizza, so will have to look into vegan cheese for that at some point. Dairy free chocolate or Snowconut ice cream are easing the odd sweet craving, or if I’m out of those I’ll have a vegan hot chocolate made with almond milk.
I can’t really remember what the point in eating dairy and eggs is. I feel a bit repulsed by the whole idea now. I kind of hope that feeling lasts.
Today, after owning her scooter for over a year but showing little interest in it, Iris asked to take it out and after a little lesson from me she mastered it! Then on the way home we smashed up an icy puddle which is one of the joys of winter when you’re wild and two!
Thursday 5th January
Last night both Iris and Astrid were asleep just after 6pm, and I was pretty convinced that they’d be up again at 10 and stay up half th night after such an early night. Nope. Trevor and I watched several episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (we’ve almost caught up!) and I did loads of my knitting. Astrid woke a couple of times but was back to sleep pretty quickly, and they both slept until 6am! I feel like a new person! Tonight they were both asleep by 7:30. Having some time in the evening is so nice!
Saturday 7th January
Today has been pretty good all round really. It began with the little ones waking up at 5:30, but Trevor took them downstairs and left me to go back to sleep. I slept until 9! Lovely! Then once he’d walked the dog, he took them both out for most of the day. I love those two little stinkers so very much, but it’s very rare that I’m not with them. Having a breather and some silence is really soothing, and I needed it badly. I started off the day by trying out the new Zumba DVD Trevor came home with a few weeks ago. It’s got a twenty minute quick workout on it, so I gave that a go. It’s fast and really great fun! I’m not the most coordinated person ever so I doubt I was doing exactly what the instructors were doing, but I gave it my best shot. After a shower and polishing of the leftovers from last night’s super healthy pasta I set to work on decluttering and tidying upstairs. Not the most relaxing way to spend a rare day off, I know, but I am so set in getting this house in order and I know I won’t relax until I do. Trying to do it with the kids around is a hundred times harder, and actually I quite enjoy it. There’s still quite a bit of junk hiding under the bed and in the tops of our wardrobes, but the bits you can see without really looking now look really great! I’m chuffed with my progress!
When Trevor and the kiddos returned, I had just about finished off what I wanted to get done today. The little ones were both asleep pretty early and I even got some knitting done. I started a jumper for Trevor when I was pregnant with Iris, so over two and a half years ago! I didn’t anticipate knitting being really difficult to do once you have babies, so it sat untouched for a long time. I did have a moment of panic this evening, that almost turned into an outpouring of anxiety about everything and anything. It started with the realisation that I’ve got a hall booked for a party for Astrid next weekend, but I’ve done nothing else to get ready for it. Before I knew it, I was stressed about everything. I, including it here because I managed to successfully get a handle on it, and I’ve come up to bed without getting upset or angry and taking it out in Trevor. It’s a small win, but it’s still a win. I’m writing this in the dark in my lovely reading chair that was piled high with junk this morning, and listening to my girls snore.
Monday 9th January
Oh. My. Word. Roller derby is just awesome.