Friday, 23 February 2018

How many spoons do I have today?

Today is a hard day. Baobao has been ill for the last week and Xiaobao obviously caught the same virus. Last night, she woke up screaming with a temperature of 39.7'C. When I awoke in the early hours of this morning, that temperature had dropped down too far - 34.4'C. She seemed to be breathing and feeding fine, so I stayed awake, cuddled and fed her, until her temperature rose to about 36'C an hour later.

So here I am, sat on the sofa watching Xiaobao give Baobao as much play food as she can get her hands on. Surviving on 4 hours sleep is just that, surviving. The girls and I are fed and clean, although dressed in pyjamas. I've managed to put some washing on and hoover, the daily things I need to do to keep the house sort of ok, but at 10:30am, mentally I feel done for the day.

So now I need to decide how the rest of our day will go. Will we get dressed and go for a wander? An act that would undoubtedly raise my mental wellbeing and ease the anxiety caused by today's missed errands. I look to Xiaobao, happily playing away from me for the first time since Wednesday, and the thought of possibly making her feel like she did last night by going out in the cold today fills me with dread. So we will stay home, just for today, and catch up on errands tomorrow.

I catch a glimpse of the basket of ironing at the back of the room. It's amazing how quickly it builds up, if you don't keep on top of it every day. I should use some of today to at least get on top of the daily tasks that I have let slide this week. If I use some of the energy I have left to do that, will I have enough energy to cook? Maybe an easy dinner like 'jacket potatoes'.

I don't think I'm up for weekly tasks - even if that's just 30 minutes to deep clean the kitchen - but just doing the daily tasks should ease the anxiety levels that build as I look around the room. It's difficult, when you have both anxiety and depression. Seeing my house a mess makes me cross and scared and truly anxious. I worry that I'm not doing enough for the girls. That I'm not doing enough to provide a safe, clean home for them. The energy to fix it just isn't there and sometimes I just have to choose which spoons to give.

Right now, I am going to sit here a little longer, drink my hot chocolate in hopes that it might help me to recharge and use most of my remaining energy to be gentle with my children. I'll feed Xiaobao on demand and listen to Baobao tell me for the 5th time today that she is a microwave bean. I'll help them to resolve issues and arguments, and stop them from breaking things. We'll have a little bit more screentime than usual, but today that's ok.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Now That You Are Three......

As I write this, you are attempting to teach Xiaobao how to do the world puzzle map. You are infinitely patient with her, supporting her to turn the pieces and then allowing her to slot them into the holes. Throughout this whole interaction, you haven't shouted at her once, even when she takes one of the pieces you have claimed as your own. It's truly heartwarming to watch and I realise that as hard a year as you have had, adapting to being an older sibling, you have coped with it brilliantly and I could never have asked for more.

You move on to matching the puzzle pieces with the continents on our globe. Your curiosity and love for learning knows no bounds. Just this morning you were telling me how lions clean their young. You seem to be a generalist, not knowing a huge amount on just one subject, instead knowing a little about lots of different subjects. Everything holds learning for you and I hope it always stays that way. 

Your birthday this year has coincided with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This has ignited both your sudden interest in the world, but also a love of sport. You have always been a physical child, from climbing to running you know no limits. You've started gymnastics this year and haven't let the fact that you are at least 6 months younger than the rest of the children hold you back. Your favourite Winter Olympic sport is skiing of any form, from giant slalom, to the half pipe, you have enjoyed it all and I only hope I can allow you to experience it yourself one day. 

If I were asked to sum up your third year in two words though, they would me independence and music. Everything is a song for you. From tidying up, to cooking, to walking to a group, you name it, you can make a song up for it much faster than I ever have. I love hearing you sing and you clearly enjoy making up these songs. My whole day has a Baobao composed soundtrack and it brightens my day.

It is often difficult for me, as a parent, but you are fiercely independent and when we are not in the heat of the moment, I truly love you for it. From brushing your teeth, to getting dressed, you want to do everything yourself. 

Recently, this independence has manifested itself in you refusing to do things that I ask you to do. It is a difficult stage, for sure, but it is important. You are learning that you are your own person, with your own thoughts, something I have always known, and I love seeing the person you are becoming. 


Friday, 2 February 2018

Dear Xiaobao at 1....

My dearest Xiaobao,

A year has passed since you arrived on that chilly February morning. You took all night to arrive and looking back, you were completely worth it. You are affectionate and funny and I love that even at tender age of 1, you know exactly what you want.

Over the last year you've learnt so much. We found breastfeeding difficult at first, but we got there in the end, with a little work and a lot of help. One year on, you're still feeding like a pro and I suppose after a year, you really are.

You rolled early, crawled early, sat early, stood early, but waited until yesterday to take your first steps. You were too busy climbing stairs, chairs, tables and play kitchens to walk. You are my little mountain goat, ready to climb at a moments notice and while it means I need to be vigilant, I wouldn't have you any other way.

You're also a great communicator. Your words include "mama" "no" and "yay". No is definitely your favourite, used to great effect when we offer you the wrong food, the wrong toy or even the wrong parent. You love to shout "mama" across the room, when I'm a little too focused on something tat isn't you and of course, it works every time. My favourite has to be "yay!" though, because you always cheer when I offer to feed you. To see you gain so much joy from something I can give you, makes me glow inside.

And I suppose, we don't know what the next year will bring. All I know is that you have come so far from being that teeny tiny baby, born only a year ago and that you have so much more of a journey ahead of you than I could ever imagine.

You are so loved my darling

Forever yours

Thursday, 1 February 2018

5 Things I have learned during Veganuary 2018

So it's February 1st and Veganuary is over. While not back to eating meat, I am back to eating dairy, eggs and honey. This month has been both easier and harder than I expected it to be and while this hadn't become a permanent change for me, it has certainly changed my outlook on food.
So here are 5 things I learnt during Veganuary:

1. Vegetables aren't all bad
I have never been a big vegetable eater. I'd eat them if forced to as a child, but given a choice I wouldn't. I'm so passionate about the girl's having a healthy diet, but in all honesty, that didn't reflect on my own plate. I realise more and more that I need to model healthy eating and Veganuary as helped me do that. And it turns out that vegetables aren't all that bad.

2. You have to pay super close attention
I'll be honest here. I had a few slip ups over the month - like the time we accidentally ordered chow mein, forgetting that they are egg noodles or when my husband brought me a cup of tea in IKEA with milk in. I didn't want to waste food, so ended up eating or drinking them anyway, but it did serve to illustrate how vigilant you need to be, especially in the first month.

3. You need to be super confident
I struggle with my confidence, especially when asking people to change something on a menu etc. As a vegan, you have to ask for the special menu, or asking which items are suitable on the standard menu. You may have to mix and match. I didn't feel very confident doing that and that is how some of our slip ups came about over the month.

4. Health and Weight Loss aren't always enough
When I signed up for Veganuary, it wasn't for ethical reasons. I needed a way to kick start a healthier diet, after 2 years of surviving on mostly cereal, toast and chocolate biscuits. A diet where I couldn't eat meat, milk and eggs, seemed like the perfect way to do that. Did it work? Yes! I'm eating healthier than I have since having children. Was it enough to stick perfectly to plan over the month? No... As you can see from my slip ups, when we accidentally ended up with milk or egg, I would eat it rather than waste it. I suspect that, had I been doing Veganuary for ethical reasons, I would have reacted differently.

5. Tofu is amazing
Is this more of a silly one? I don't know. I've enjoyed tofu for years. I don't think you can truly enjoy East Asian food without enjoying it. The thing is, we have never seen it as a meat substitute. It is an ingredient in it's own right and that is how we like it. If you are looking for something with a meat texture, tofu is not for you. If you want something that takes on the flavour of the dish you are making and can be a variety of textures, depending on the type you use and how you cook it, then tofu is totally for you and tofu is totally amazing. It's not a meat substitute. It is tofu.