Letter to my son on his first birthday

Today it’s your first birthday! Behind there are those two years where we were searching for you in a thousand different ways. Fears, concerns, frustration and sometimes even despair. Today we celebrate that we have been together for 12 months, growing together, sharing beautiful moments that we will always treasure.

In a near future all of this will be engraved upon the very bottom of your memories and your heart. I doubt you will be able to remember them, that’s why I’d like you to know a few things so that when you’ve reached the age when you can not only read them but also understand them you will be able to appreciate them:

The day you were born was the most painful one I have ever lived in my life, but you know what they say out there is true, the moment I saw you and held you in my arms all the pain just vanished. Thank you so much for giving away so much love on just the first look without even barely known us at all, apart from what you’ve probably been told up there 😉

first-birthday-feature

When we finally got home your big sister didn’t know how to handle so much excitement. We had never seen her so happy and cheerful before. You are her favourite people, although she squashes you sometimes, hugs you to the point of almost make you choke yourself or kisses you  until she leaves you breathless. I know you kinda like it too. I can see how you look at her, how you search for her and need her. One day, not too far away, you will become the support of one another, you will trust one another, and that relationship, if you both take care of it, will never be able to get broken.

Thank you little E, though you were always be my baby, I won’t be able to call you so for too much longer, we are eternally grateful to you because in a world of so much darkness you have brought us light. Your name means Eternal, Constant, Everlasting. That’s what you are for us, along with your sister, an eternal blessing that reminds us of a family’s true worth.

You still have many adventures to live, you’re not running yet, even though you would love to and you’re very close to achieve it. You haven’t said your first sentence although there’s probably interesting conversations up in your mind. We look forward to sharing all those amazing moments with you, we pray daily to our Heavenly Father so that we can be the type of parents you need to keep growing up, developing and reaching your fullest potential.

With our dearest love,

Your family that adores you,

Sam, Eli & J

the-greatest-mums-feature

Why we are the greatest mums

There is a song stuck in the back of my head lately, and that’s The Greatest, from Sia. My husband told me the other day that I probably like her music since it’s not the first time I’m talking about her. I thin he’s right. After a few years,  I’ve realised that yes, I like that singer.

Anyway, I’m not planning on talking about music today, nor that I wouldn’t mind cause I love the way music inspires us, brings memories to our minds, situations, smells, people…On this occasion though I want to share with you my thoughts on why we are the greatest mums. I’m including YOU too (sorry if you’re a male reading this, nothing sexiest here -just pass the message to a mum or apply it to yourself, either way it’s fine! :D)

SO..Why we are the greatest mums?

Let me explain it to you using Sia’s words:

Uh-oh, running out of breath, but I
Oh, I, I got stamina

How many times I’ve felt that I’m running out of breath! Too many since having our second child, who is 9 months old now. This week everything felt like chaos at home, all the clean clothes piled up, dirty ones spread all over the place, floor waiting to be hoovered, dishes multiplying themselves…where was I, oh well, I was chasing my son making sure he wouldn’t choke himself with the things that he picks up from the floor, I was helping my daughter sound the letters in a language that is not my mother tongue, I was sitting down with Sam, trying to help him organise his own goals and projects.

So many things…think about yours, you probably have a long list too. Let me tell you what you also have. You’ve got stamina, just as I did too. I was about to lose it this week thinking too myself, too many things, no time, and I feel SO tired, I don’t think I can go on. Then I realise that as soon as I had that thought something else got my attention (probably baby needing to be fed) and you know what, I kept going. I went and did the next thing on my list.

STAMINA is about keep going. Do what you’re supposed to do. Have the strength, the energy to achieve what you’ve planned. Why we, mums, are the greatest? Because we ALWAYS keep going. Being the greatest is not an easy job, nobody said it would be…so let me move on to the next bit of the song.

Uh-oh, running now, I close my eyes
Well, oh, I got stamina

We are the greatest because we know when to close our eyes and focus on what’s more important. Wonder-woman is a sci-fi character. Mums are the real super-women. Countless times I needed to close my eyes and see things as they really are. Again. We’ve got STAMINA, we can handle it. Life gets too heavy sometimes to carry all on our shoulders, but we have family, friends, we, particularly, have GOD as well, but even if you don’t have any of those things, you know what you’ve got? You’ve got stamina. Our own worth as human beings, regardless of our circumstances, should be enough to help us keep going.

 

the-greatest-mum

far from perfect but still the greatest.. 😉

 

And uh-oh, I see another mountain to climb
But I, I, I got stamina

Being a mum is a constant challenge, whenever you think you’ve mastered something with your son or daughter there it comes, another mountain to climb. But, us mums, don’t get scared of those mountains, we dare them. We know that life can be a constant uphill path, otherwise we’d be stuck, don’t grow, don’t learn, and that is not good. You know the only people who are greater than mums? Grandmas, not for the sake of it, but because they’ve experienced motherhood, have the right perspective and enjoy the fruits of their children. They care for what matters the most. They do have stamina as well, and we can learn from them.

Uh-oh, I need another lover, be mine
Cause I, I, I got stamina

No please! No breaking marriages here, don’t add another lover to your life if you’ve already got one. 😉 But this just makes me think that we need to find the passion on the things we do. If we are living life everyday, just because we are breathing and we are just moving with the flow we are missing the greatest. Life is meant to have joy. I’ve discovered a new passion sharing my feelings and stories with all of you on this blog. We, mums, are the greatest because we find different ways to motivate ourselves, to help us keep going, to have stamina.

so mums…

Don’t give up, I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no

 

I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive
I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest

Are you alive? (rhetorical question obviously -I’m not talking to the walking dead) THEN You are the greatest. You’ve got STAMINA to keep going. I am and we are the greatest mums, cause you know what, no matter how many times we fail, how many times we think enough is enough, or how many we’d like to just give up, or sleep, no matter all that, we’ve got stamina. We wake up every day. We are strong and we can do it. Remind those words to yourself daily, you are alive, you’re the greatest, if you don’t feel like it, you’ve got the opportunity to amend it. I wouldn’t suggest that if I didn’t apply it to myself. Of the many times I’ve felt too tired for anything, I’m still here, I’m alive, and I’m the greatest.

 



The best places to breastfeed in Manchester

“May you find your own way with confidence and pride, as you experience the womanly art of breastfeeding”

The Womanly Art of breastfeeding 8th Edition

My baby boy is 7 months and a half and I can proudly say I am still breastfeeding him. This “pride” doesn’t come from thinking that whoever decides not to breastfeed has chosen the wrong path, this pride comes from the feeling of achievement that I have because of overcoming the pains from the first month, because of not paying attention to uncomfortable situations where I had to do it in public or to the many times where my t-shirt was stained due to an overflow… I love that I can give my baby what I think will be the best support for him.

 breastfeeding

Not everyday you are able to breastfeed within the walls of your own home, on your own rocking chair (I don’t have one by the way) or doing a skin-to-skin contact with your baby. So for any of you that are around the city of Manchester here are our recommendations for the best facilities to breastfeed your baby, from my own experience:

intu Trafford centre

Everyone in Manchester has been to this shopping centre, probably because it’s the biggest one in the city! so if your little one gets hungry and you’re around that place you can go to the Nursing room located right next to the toilets on the food court. There’s another one on the upper floor. Because in peak times it can get really busy and that is just an individual room. You can find there a rocking chair, a normal chair for the partner, and a sink. It’s quiet and clean.  So perfect for a relaxing time with your baby.

Manchester Arndale

Located on the food court, the main toilets have next to it a nice and quiet nursing room as well. Quite convenient if you’re looking to escape from the noise and the crowd from the town center.

Mothercare Store in Stockport

We have been to that one because we were doing some shopping and had to ask around to see if there were some facilities. I was quite surprised to find out about this one, since they have a nice, tidy and comfortable space for feeding your baby. It can be shared with other mums, but I don’t think that’s something, we women, bother that much… We were in Stockport at that time, so this one is the one we know of but if you go to their website you can probably check which ones have this type of facility. We know of this one for sure.

The Creche and Play area at intu Trafford Centre

Almost forgot to mention but if you have any older kids playing at this indoor playground may you know they have a quiet room, with a couple of comfy sofas for you to nurse your baby. The only thing is they ask you to not leave your other child unattended so either you have them with you or your partner can look after them.

baby_e

Breastfeeding is a right and a privilege so for most uncomfortable that you may feel remember that most of the times you will be able to do it almost anywhere. So don’t get shy and remember your why. I’ve breastfed at the airport, at the cinema, at a park,  at restaurants…sometimes with a blanket, sometimes without one because little E gets fed up with it… just forget about the people and focus on your baby, he/she will give you the confidence you need.

Any other recommendations of places from your own experience? I’m still planning to breastfeed him for a while, so we will appreciate any other suggestions! 🙂

Happy Mondays #4 :watch videos for kids on YouTube safely

FINALLY! We have found the right app for our 4 year-old to watch videos on YouTube safely. And that makes us very very happy.

I was the other day reading a blogpost on Digital Motherhood about how to keep your children safe in the Internet and Sarah gives quite good tips about it. For us, the one that stood out the most was the YouTube Kids app. Have you ever wondered how to set up some sort of filters on YouTube so your little one doesn’t end up watching some very dodgy content instead of Peppa Pig?!

youtube kids app

Well, that was our issue for quite a long time, since our little J started to become a little YouTube addict we were quite reluctant about the whole thing. I remember once, for example, she was watching an episode of My Little Pony when another video showed on the recommendations.I suddenly realized how all the little ponies were getting all high, smoking pot and doing all sorts of things. I took it out immediately! I was so angry with the whole situation because who could waste their time doing that type of thing?! Anyway, for me it doesn’t make sense at all. So we are very careful and always make sure that she is with one of us while she watches the videos.

watching videos

With this app you can at least lay back a little bit more, because the videos that are showed ARE for children. You can adjust the settings for preschoolers or for school age children and you can even limit the time they watch. We recommend you to try it if you’re child is into YouTube videos. Maybe you already knew about it, but for us that was the first time we heard about this app, and yes, it has made us quite a happy family!

Which other child friendly apps have you heard of? We will tell you our little list with our top apps for kids on another post! 🙂

Am I no longer the mum with “no village”?

I recently read a blogpost that it made think about my motherhood experience in this country. I recommend you to read it, it was called When You’re the Mom with no village by Jay Miranda.  I felt quite related to her feelings of solitude away from family. The phrase itself says “it takes a village to raise a child” and is basically talking about the support community that a child needs in order to grow and learn, being the community: family, friends, educators, etc.

But what about us, mums? Do we need a village as well? Back in Barcelona we used to have my family side on a 10 minute drive distance and my in-laws on a 30 minutes drive. Not too bad, right? It’s not only we had family close by, but for us, family equals friends, cause the relationship we have with them is so good that we love spending time together, having a good laugh and sharing moments. We also have good friends that we can hang out with so our life there was quite well-balanced except for our jobs and finances.

Moving to UK helped us settle our finances down and be more self-reliant but we lost all the other part of the equation. For quite a while I was and I felt like the mum with “no village”. We met people at church, we met people on other groups, some of them young parents like us, some of them older or younger than us and single, but we never got to “click” with them. I don’t know, it was maybe us, but so many times I wished I could hold a conversation with someone without actually trying to make an effort of bringing up topics, or being nice but it never happened. Well, being more accurate, it did happened with a few people, but apparently the feeling wasn’t reciprocate, so I was turned down! haha…

We are no longer without a village, more family have joined us in the UK, and even though they will live an hour away from us, I know it will be good for my children to visit with them regularly. Sam’s family are a hard-working loving people so it was a pleasure spending two weeks with “Tia Nati” (auntie Nati) and “Vovo” (grandma). J was so excited every day and her Portuguese skills increased significantly of just this exposure. Our little E used to fall asleep quite easily with his vovo, just like it happened with his yaya (my mum)…there’s something in a grandma’s body that seem to have this hypnotic effect when they hold a baby, LOL

I must admit though that for the first few days I couldn’t stop thinking on MY family, my mum and dad, my brothers, sister-in-law and my little cheeky super cute niece. I missed them more than ever and wished they would join us here as well. Something unlikely to happen…But I couldn’t be more grateful to God that is giving us the opportunity to have more family around. I wish I could tell you how to be the mum with a village, but unfortunately I don’t think my social skills have improved that much since then. My only advice, the one that I give to myself, is to keep trying, and among those many attempts someone will come your way, and you will have a village, you will be able to trust someone, to laugh with someone, to hold a conversation without making an effort.

What is your story? Do you have your own “village”?

 

Why I will never yell at my daughter again

“Children grow, and we grow with them. Childhood is fleeting. May our obsession to correct it don’t stop us of enjoying it. ” (Carlos Gonzalez – Paediatrician)

I was sharing the other day on a different post that I came to the determination that I would never yell at my daughter again. Now, I need to rectify here, cause I’m in the process of it and not achieving it 100%. It’s hard to acknowledge our weaknesses but it’s good to recognise them so that we can change. And rather of this post being some sort of “confession” is just a conversation, between you and me, where I’d like to explain why I have decided this and maybe you can come to the same conclusion, just like me.

IMG_2171

A few weeks ago, probably over a month I was going through much stress, but not on a daily basis, I would just have some peaks every once in a while, it might have been because of feeling too tired, or because I was losing hair due to breastfeeding, or feeling weight guilty…any how, if I continue with the list this post is going to sound depressing and I’m going to depress myself just by writing it! LOL …

The thing is that my patience with J was decreasing in inverse proportion. She was just HER, as usual, the cheerful cheeky monkey that likes to play around and many times wants things on her own way. But I, I was yelling more than usual, anything would drive me round the bend. It was so unfair for her and then I remembered some wise words I read a long time ago. It was actually when I was pregnant with her and I used to read all these books about parenting, childhood, or even watching “supper-nanny”! I remembered the words from Carlos Gonzalez, a renowned Spanish paediatrician, on his book “Besame mucho” (Kiss Me) where he explained that us, as parents have the ability to control our behaviour, that when we discipline our children there is no need to raise your voice or instil fear in them. It is wrong to say “You drive me crazy” or “You’re making me mad” The blunt truth is that we are the only agents who have made the decision to get angry because of an specific situation. If you think that’s impossible, try to remember that time when you were with your boss, or some friend or a stranger, and they did something to you that you didn’t like, did you raise your voice to them or could you control yourself because otherwise you would get fired or lose a friendship or feel ashamed? See, we CAN do it! we can control ourselves, there is no excuse, and specially there is no excuse for the person you love the most.

So now, I think before I speak, I breathe before I yell and I remember that my daughter is a child, that is growing, just as I am growing,..I remember that childhood is fleeting, and that I should enjoy it along with her, because I don’t want to get fired by her! 😉

You can read more about Carlos Gonzalez on this interview. (most of the content you can find about him is in Spanish but you will probably see some works written in English as well) He is an advocate of natural upbringing and I share his views in many of these matters.

Share your thoughts with me on this! Leave a comment. 🙂

10 absolute truths you will only experience with a 4 year-old

Having a 4 year-old can be quite an interesting adventure. They’re not in the stage of completely dependency as a new born baby but they’re not miss/mr independence either, even though they believe they are. So after a week where I have committed myself to not raise my voice to J again (I will have to tell you why in a different post) here comes, the 10″absolute” truths you will only experience if you have a 4 year-old.

Truth #1: I don’t like this food! I wanna eat out. 

IMG_1525 (2)

It doesn’t matter if they’ve helped you in the kitchen, or if you have tried to hide all the “good-green stuff” so it looks more appetizing, as soon as they sit on the table, they switch their auto-mechanism of “I’m going to give a hard time to mummy” and start whining about it.

Truth #2: (maybe only applicable to girls?.. I don’t know!) I don’t like these clothes!

4

J at 18 months…a very early fashionista

After taking off the closet 4 dresses, trying out 2 trousers, leaving them on the floor, trying to put a long t-shirt as a dress, and who knows what else! our little fashionista cannot decide what to wear! I can’t wait for school to start so the only options she will have will be blue and grey!

Truth #3: Power Rangers is serious stuff…

Power Rangers Movie

Really, how many versions of The Power Rangers are currently out there?! Dino Charge, Mystic something.., and how creepy can be that all the cast look alike from one version to the other! BUT she loves them! She’s into the pink one now by the way, she used to be the red one. Apparently pink is cool now. I still can remember the time when I was telling her off because of something she did and she started pointing at me with both arms extended and making a noise like “ssshhhh”..and I was like, “WTH?! what are you doing J?” -“Trying to destroy you! like the Power Rangers, mummy!”… 😀 such a cutie, right?!

Truth #4: Bedtime to infinity and beyond!

So now, all the characters from her favourite book stories have suddenly acquired new names… we will have “Snow white – Rainbow dash” and her “Prince- Apple Jack” and of course, the prince’s horse named “Beautiful Twilight-J.C.T” we can never forget to say the “beautiful” first please. That means that a story that would take less than 5 minutes to read is told in like forever! By the way, you can tell the influence of My Little Pony there…

Truth #5: I will always leave the park crying.

IMG_8703

It doesn’t matter how long you stayed, how involved you were in their games, they will never accept the words  “It’s time to go” For them “Home” means depriving them of their freedom and wildest dreams. And it gets even worse if you were on a play date with another friend. Then it’s a whole good bye drama “I’ll miss you J! – I’ll miss you too S! Come play to my house soon!”

Bless our little J though, she is indeed such a character, and this probably sounded as if we were complaining about her but let me tell you the other 5 truths:

Truth #6: She always accepts my apologies.

And this probably applies to your little one. It doesn’t matter your mistake, as soon as you say you’re sorry, they will be there kissing you and hugging you again, like nothing happened. No hurt feelings.

Truth #7: Any day is a good day to wear a princess dress!

Isn’t it right? Life is not to be wasted waiting for the perfect moment! just like a 4 year-old does it, you fancy wearing a santa dress in the middle of april? Go for it! they know it well, live life to the fullest.

Truth #8: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. 

They might not have consistency but they do have commitment. Specially if you’re the one who promised to do something. They will make you keep your word, every bit of what you said. They do it as well. They’re quite serious for that, specially if it involves playing. 😉

Truth #9: You will always be their hero.

IMG_1796 (3)

Embrace this stage, I heard it gets quite difficult in a few years! so this is a time to enjoy because no matter how tired you are and look and feel you will always be beautiful to them, daddy will always be the strongest and mummy…mummy will always be “mummy” (I think that implies a lot!)

Truth #10: they will always appreciate your time.

No matter how expensive the toy or if it didn’t cost you anything at all, if they don’t have anyone to play it with, it will be pointless. They will always appreciate the time you spend with them. The memories you are building will be the ones that will stay with them. They are your perfect boss, the one that really acknowledges that you are needed and loved, and abundantly rewarded for spending time with them.

IMG_1728

These are not “absolute truths” at all! every child is unique, but these are our truths, the ones we embrace and we learn every day from our little J. What have you learnt from your little one so far?

 

Cuddle Fairy

Just another Sunday…

in our lives. What do you do on a Sunday with an almost 2-year old little one when you have 10 hours after going to church just for you and her to be at home?? Yep, that’s basically the big sort of “challenge” Julia and I face every week since Samuel started working at the restaurant. Since then, weekends are not the standard “Saturday-Sunday” anymore, now you call weekend to a “Tuesday-Wednesday, Monday and Thursday…” and so on, if you know what I mean..

So what are the things we like to do?

DSC_0260Take a nap! Yep, that’s a nice option, since I usually go to bed quite late on Saturdays waiting for Sam to get home from work. Sleeping is free, relaxing and it keeps you “busy”!

But we don’t take 10 hours nap,so after that, Julia loves to watch her favourite movie in her whole world, Gru (Despicable Me2) AKA, “Ghu” as she calls him. She loves the little minions! I actually do as well…;) She can watch that film twice in a row! That gives me at least a couple of hours to be on my own, and I cannot afford to miss those opportunities! While she’s entertained I usually read whatever falls into my hands, news, articles, scriptures,…but I like to watch some series as well, good thing I have internet in my mobile phone, I couldn’t compete against her over the laptop!

I also take sometime on my Family History…ok, to be honest, I started today, again… BUT, I want to commit myself to be more consistent in that though. In fact, Sam and I have talked about the idea of writing like a “Family Diary” sort of thing. We think it could be very helpful and interesting for ourselves and for future generations to read about our experiences, after all, you don’t need to be a celebrity to do such things!

DSC_0261

Anyway, the rest of the time Julia and I just hang out together, play around, read some Animal books, she loves them! and we basically enjoy the time mommy-daughter, because, if you really think about it these are precious moments that won’t come back again.