My Third Letter To My First Daughter

Cheeks, in less than a week you will be 2 YEARS OLD, needless to say these were the fastest 2 years of my life. I’m writing this so I remember what you were like and to try and embarrass you and maybe make you cry when you’re older and hopefully read this.

I’m going to start with my favourite photos of you of all time.

Look at those cheeks! Look at that smile, you’re really cute. I can’t resist, here  are some more (mummy is obsessed with taking pictures of you!):

 

I’m not sure where to start, you might want to know what you are like…well you are quite the character. You are EXTREMELY independent, “me do it” is one of the things you say the most. Determined is another characteristic of yours, if you don’t want to do something well basically I have to force or bribe you. For example yesterday, we went out for a walk and you were wearing your “bellies” once you realized there  were no puddles outside so you couldn’t do “splash”, you decided you would stop walking and just stand by a wall:

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I had to pick you up and carry you down the road. The power struggles are a daily occurrence, usually involving not wanting to go in the buggy or hold my hand in the street or let me brush your teeth etc etc. Sometimes it makes me want to scream (and sometimes I do but clearly it doesn’t help the situation at all), sometimes people give me pitying looks in the street and sometimes I’m actually quite pleased you seem to have such a strong character but I don’t think we’ll know if this is your personality for ever for a few more years as it is also quite typical behavior of other monsters your age.

You love the following:

  • dinosaurs
  • playing catch
  • watching telly (mainly Frozen, Shrek 2 and Bing)
  • having a bath
  • doing chores – helping to cook and stirring things is a particular favourite
  • having tea parties
  • having your own seat on the train
  • feeding the ducks
  • doing anything by yourself basically!

You definitely have your habits and know what you like, this is what happens on a typical day:

  • wake up and chat straight away, you always have something to say, nowadays it’s usually “Elsa, Anna?”, you could watch Frozen all day, mummy bans you in the morning but every evening you watch it. The morning is for Bing and Postman Pat, you used to love Bing more than anything, Elsa has taken over

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  • You then come running over to sit on my knee, the minute you notice I have started eating breakfast and basically proceed to eat as much as my breakfast as I will let you
  • When we leave for nursery, I have too force you into the buggy by bending your legs, EVERY SINGLE DAY
  • Your BFF is called Maya, you are both so happy to see each other every morning
  • EVERY SINGLE DAY you whine when I leave you at nursery but are then fine within a minute
  • EVERY SINGLE DAY you come running up to me when you see me in the evenings as if you hadn’t seen me for weeks, it’s the best part of my day, sometimes the best part of my week. You cheer me up, wipe away any work or life stress and make me happy EVERY SINGLE DAY
  • Nowadays, you insist on walking home in the evening, this is fine as long as you hold my hand…
  • To be honest you are quite easy in the evenings, as long as there is Elsa and milk everything is fine until it’s time to brush your teeth…

This is the bit where I get a bit less objective, here are some of the things you do that make you “you” and make me think that you will probably turn out to be quite clever…

  • You started smiling at 3 weeks old and haven’t stopped since!
  • You have taught yourself some of the words to the Frozen songs, here you are in action:
  • You never forget anything and remember the most random of things – for example a few months ago we went to a new pub one rainy Sunday  afternoon and you had apple juice. Over a week later, we went past that pub again and you started shouting “juice, juice!” outside the door, I don’t know how you recognized the front door, to this day you still ask for juice when we go by that pub…
  • We were folding washing recently and you remembered that a nightie I was folding belongs to “mamie”
  • You know how things are “supposed” to be – if anybody doesn’t take their coat off and walks past the hallway, you are very quick to remind them!
  • You know how to have a good time! You were recently dancing for ages in a local pub even though nobody else was!
  • You have compassion and empathy and it is very sweet and makes me proud. Talking of mamie, when she had to leave for the airport a few weeks ago, mummy was very sad and you saw this on my face, came over, gave me a hug and stroked my back, my heart skipped a beat. It was so sweet and probably the only thing that could have made me feel better.

I could go and on and on about you, all I want you to know is that I couldn’t love you more if I wanted to (and I am sure daddy feels the same), you’ve been one of the most challenging parts of my life so far because I want to do the right thing and sometimes that means not screaming or getting angry when you just will not do something you need to do – I had never realised how difficult it could be to deal with somebody that only weighs 12 kilos but is stronger than me in many ways!!! Stay the confident, funny, lovely girl that you are, I am already so proud. You are not only challenging but you are very fulfilling too, you were definitely missing from my life.

I also want you to know that even when mummy escapes, it’s not because I don’t want to be with you, it’s because I need to be with myself for a while and with other people and come back a happier mummy (the below pic is from the day I came back from Ibiza, 12 hours before mummy was dancing under a flight path and some of my makeup is still visible! You can also spot some of the grey hairs that have appeared since your birth…)

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What do I hope for you in the future?

First of all, I hope you get to travel and go to some of my favourite places in the world such as New York City, Ibiza and France . I hope you have great friends like I am lucky to have, I hope you get to live in different countries like I have but unlike me I really hope you do a job you are super passionate about like some of these ladies. Mummy has a great job but it’s not my dream job (that’s having a cooking programme on TV in case you’re wondering…), maybe you could be the first female President of the USA? I just want you to be HAPPY and have fun, lots of fun. As one of mummy’s good friends says “the first rule of fun is to have more fun” , which is very true.

Mummy loves you and will be there to guide up, dance with you, pick you up when you fall and high five you when you reach the dizzying heights that I know you are destined to reach. Carpe Diem Cheeks!

 

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5 Things I Hated and 5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding

*The original version of this was posted on the Huffington Post Parents blog section
A was born at the end of 2014, for those of you who regularly read this blog, you’ll know she was born with tongue-tie, which meant breastfeeding started off very badly. However after having her tongue-tie clipped (twice!), I continued feeding her for 19 months and 2 weeks, I can tell you that on day 2, when my nipples started bleeding and I fed her in absolute agony, I would never have believed that would happen. I had a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding and here’s why:

5 Things I Hated About Breastfeeding:
1.Tongue-tie bloody tongue-tie -, it was so painful and stressful, it ruined the first month with my baby. It’s simply a nightmare and I’d recommend getting it fixed ASAP if it happens to your baby. I wrote the story here
2.The time it takes at the beginning, especially if you have a “comfort” feeder, you can basically spend your life feeding. Newborns love boobs and so you better get used to your sofa and using one hand. Don’t even get me started on growth spurts…
3.The fact that you’re basically the only person, who can feed your baby and the stress this implies if you leave them too long. Because of the tongue tie A had a bottle every day for the first 3 weeks but then I made the mistake of stopping and she wouldn’t drink from a bottle for the next 10 months! Once I left her for a few hours and my mum had to spoon feed her milk!
4.You have to wear tops that can be opened or lifted up AT ALL TIMES. Goodbye good old bodycon dresses that obviously you used to wear on a regular basis!
5.It ruined my boobs, I lost 3 cup sizes, my boobs were “my thing”, I no longer have “a thing”

However, as with most things in life, it’s not all bad! On the contrary, in my humble opinion and experience, the good outweighs the bad and I have no regrets. There is indeed a silver lining in everything…

5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding
1.Tongue tie may have been very painful but thanks to my blog post about it, all sorts of opportunities came my way – including speaking about it on national TV.
2.I loved the fact that you have to stop and feed, it did stop me from running around like a mad person and made me slow down and share special calm moments with my daughter
3.Breastfeeding was the one thing that would CALM my baby, PUT HER TO SLEEP anywhere!

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Post boob nap

Comfort her and generally have a magical effect on her. It would have been a hundred times harder to get her to sleep on planes, trains, stop a tantrum and generally calm things down when there was a crisis! Also killed a lot of time during said plane and train rides.
4.She loved it, it made her happy, and it made me happy knowing I was doing something healthy for her (to make up for all the TV and biscuits she’s been consuming!)
5.It sure burned a ton of calories over 19 months, yes my boobs are gone but so are quite a few lumps and bumps and for that I will forever be grateful.

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The last time I fed her

For any of you, who breastfed, what did you enjoy about it? What were the bad bits? I would love to know!

A Much Needed Spa Afternoon at ESPA at The Corinthia

I got a voucher for some treatments at ESPA at The Corinthia from a very dear friend just after I gave birth to A back in November 2014, I had a great experience and today I went back for the 3rd time. There are times in life, especially in a working mum’s life, when you need to treat yourself and escape. For me, the ideal way is to go here:

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The spa is on the first floor of the beautiful hotel, just walking in to the impressive lobby puts a smile on my face:

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I was greeted very nicely and enthusiastically by the lady at the reception desk and offered a drink (chamomile and mint tea, it wasn’t very warm and I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or not…))whilst I filled in a medical questionnaire (I should have asked why I was doing this as I had done this before). There is a café next to the reception area where all the products are shown, I didn’t use the café. There is complimentary water, fruit and nuts in the actual spa area in the floors below.

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You are then taken to the changing rooms, where everything you could ever need is provided (slippers, robes, hairdryers, magazines, all sorts of products, showers, sauna etc).

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I had about an hour and a half before my massage and mini facial, which I spent very happily sitting in the massive Jacuzzi, which is next to the pool on the thermal floor, which is 2 floors down from the ladies changing rooms:

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I also had a lie down in a “sleep pod” and then finally sat down to read on the heated beds by the fire in the changing rooms, despite the lack of privacy, this was my favourite bit as it was so warm and cozy. Honestly just reading Marie Claire in peace was such a treat, I’d pay just for that.

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I probably came across 10 other guests in total, it was really nice and quiet.

I was then taken to a really nice treatment room (one of 17) for my massage and express facial. The therapist was seriously good, she listened to me and gave me the exact massage I needed. She focused on my shoulders and upper back and told me at the end that indeed I had a LOT of tension and knots in that area and that I need to have massages more often, well if she says so 🙂

All the ESPA products they use are natural and ethically sourced and smell and feel lovely!

I actually enjoyed the facial a lot more than usual, I don’t know if its because the products smelt so nice or because I was already super relaxed but it was really enjoyable, apparently I need to drink more water, quelle surprise!

Anyway, here I am “glowing” afterwards:img_0109

It’s amazing what 4 hours in a Spa, far away from reality can do! It’s definitely a luxury spa with high quality treatements and facilities but if you want a treat, you can go wrong by choosing the Corinthia.

And guess who was very happy to see me when I got home?

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I Have Found The Perfect Work Dress

Dresses are my go-to outfit for work because you don’t have to think about more than one thing (just add tights in the winter)! I work in the City and have to look professional  but don’t have to wear a suit so smart dresses are perfect. Now, finding a dress that fits all my criteria (comfort, style and durable) and doesn’t blow the budget isn’t always easy. Over the years, I’ve found some great bargains at TK Maxx, had some great Isabella Oliver dresses when I was pregnant and also have some really nice ones from LK Bennett, however recently I’ve found one that tops them all!

Rose and Willard are a British premium workwear brand that creates modern, stylish and feminine clothes. I came across them on Twitter, noticed they had a 50% sale on and got browsing. I chose 2 dresses, the Helix Central Drape Dress and the Hiera Diagonal Panel Dress. So far I’ve only worn the first one and it’s PERFECT! The only downside is that it is dry clean only, I will just have to be really careful so it doesn’t have to be cleaned too often.
Here’s why this is one of my favourite dresses ever:
-the material is super luxurious, it’s soft and you can feel the quality. It’s made of soft Italian luxury jersey, designed and made in the UK.
-the cut is amazing, it’s definitely perfect for me. It’s tight and the top and then sits just right below.


-the V neck top is super flattering and as its right and lined, it gives a polished look

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-the colour is beautiful
– it’s super comfortable to wear and sit in for 8 hours straight!
-it’s super light
-it’s the right mix of modern/chic/feminine
– it was 50% off!

I haven’t worn the other one yet but will do soon and will report back! I’m also very tempted to buy it in black too.
Get shopping ladies!

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My Usual Post Girl’s Weekend in France Soul-Searching…

I grew up in France and left when I was 18 in the summer of 2000 after passing the infamous “Baccalaureat”, Bac S nonetheless… At “lycee” from 1997 to 2000 I became great friends with E and P and spent this weekend with them. The same thing happened 3 years ago last time we met up, the minute I step on the plane to go back to London, I question EVERYTHING! These are the thoughts that go through my head (some rational, some not, some philosophy 101, some ridiculous but none a reflexion of my friends’ lives…):

  • Could I ever live in the same place for ever?
  • Could I live in a small town?
  • Will I ever be happy?
  • Is London the right place for me?
  • Why don’t I live in France and have 40 days holiday?
  • Why do I feel the need for so many “things”?
  • Why don’t I do more cultural things?
  • Why don’t I make the most of living in London?
  • Isn’t it incredible how much your life can change in a few years?
  • Is my life how I imagined it to be when we were at school together?
  • Should I not do a job I am more passionate about?
  • What else do I want in life?
  • What is wrong with me? Maybe I just need a holiday?
  • Why didn’t I bet more money on Brexit and Iceland to beat England then I bet I wouldn’t be feeling like this, would I?!
  • Why am I listening to sad music on the train home, this is only making things worse…

I guess seeing them makes me think about my childhood and the different paths people take but every time it really disturbs me, it’s really weird. I miss my friends and I am super happy we are still friends nearly 20 years later and I hope our daughters all get to meet one day. In the meantime, it’s back to reality and enough with the questions!

Out of interest, anybody else ask themselves these questions?

Working Mum Life Hacks

2 months ago I went back to work (I can’t believe I just typed that!). I thought maternity leave went by quickly, well working weeks go by even faster!

I thought I would share a few “life hacks” or tips for mums about to go back to work as a few changes here and there can really make your new life as a working mum easier!

  • My main advice would be: do not combine your first day back at work with the first day of childcare because you’ll spend all day worrying about your baby and if you’re like me, you’ll probably cry so will turn up looking a mess on your first day back! The other reason to start childcare before work is to have some time when you are neither working nor looking after your child, this is your last chance for some well-deserved “me time” for a while. Family holidays are lovely but nothing beats spending a weekday afternoon at a spa whilst everyone is at work and somebody else is picking up your baby’s lunch from the floor…
  • I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, it’s really important to have a plan for emergency childcare. Indeed s*** happens, case in point: I’m writing this from a plane on my way to my first overnight work trip and was called earlier today by the nursery to go and pick up A as she has a temperature. Thankfully Mister B is looking after her but let’s just say calls like that 2 hours before you’re about to leave for the airport add to the stress…(then your plane is delayed and that’s when you really have to take a deep breath!)
  • Get your clothes and your child’s clothes ready every night. You don’t really want to have to think much in the morning!
  • Talking of clothes, I underestimated the effect nursery can have on children’s clothes, basically they get wrecked! So buy second hand or cheap clothes that can get stained or lost, without you being bothered about it. I now separate “nursery” clothes from “nice” clothes one.
  • I was really struggling with the whole week-night cooking thing despite being quite an organised person and doing online shopping. I just couldn’t plan far ahead enough and would lack motivation after the whole “train-nursery-home-bedtime” thing that I decided to do something before our diets suffered too much (and I started spending all my money at M and S at the station!). People, there is a solution and it’s called Hello Fresh. Every Sunday evening they deliver 3 meals worth of delicious food with very clear and easy recipe cards. Each meal takes between 20 and 40 mins to prepare. I don’t have to go food shopping, I don’t have to think of what to eat and in exchange we try new foods (pearl barley anyone?), learn new techniques and eat delicious healthy food Monday to Wednesday (Thursday is Chipotle Burrito day and I’m off on Fridays so have time). I love it! The second delivery was 90 mins late but their customer service was great so I’m sticking with it for now.
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  • Stay on top of washing during the week (a washing machine with a timer helps), you don’t want to spend all weekend doing washing and those dirty nursery clothes need washing asap!
  • If you can, get a cleaner! I’d rather not buy coffee than spend Saturday morning cleaning. It’s the best 20 pounds I spend every week, I’m convinced cleaners provide one of the best value for money services around.
  • Try and negotiate some kind of flexible working arrangement, part time or at least a day working from home, I have Fridays off and it keeps me sane!

All in all, 2 months later I am happy I’m working but wouldn’t want to be doing 5 days a week, all the little things above make our lives run smoother, I also happen to have a very helpful and tidy husband, which makes a massive difference. Behind every great working woman, there is a man, who cleans the kitchen every night and never leaves his stuff lying around!

What are your tips?

A Week of Firsts

This week was A’s first week at nursery, you might think this means I went back to work this week but think again! Nope, I am a planning genius and have given myself 2 weeks of no baby and no work, which is equal to a life of leisure basically!

Anyway back to the harsh reality of leaving your baby at nursery for a whole day for the first time, it can be summarised by this: she screamed, I cried, I nearly called work to resign and take her out of nursery and then we both got over it and she was fine when I picked her up:

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By the time I picked her up last night, she was even happier after a week of stimulation and fun and tons of food it seems (this has had some very annoying consequences, which I won’t go into here…)

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She still screams every morning when I leave her but I’m not crying anymore and as soon as someone picks her up, she stops (I’ve spied through the window to check). On Monday, I had a lovely “sisterhood of mothers” moment when another mum noticed how upset I was after leaving her and spent 30 mins chatting to me and making me feel better. I got home and it felt WEIRD, it was even more strange to go on the tube WITHOUT A BUGGY, go shopping without her, have lunch with my aunt and uncle without a baby etc. Still the only clothes I bought were for her, Bella-Roo you are always on my mind!

On Wednesday, I took baby steps into the world of television…I will write a whole post about it with links etc. but if you’re interested, tune in to Sky News next Wednesday around 8.50AM and all will be revealed for 2 WHOLE minnutes! One of the most exciting parts involved having professional make up done, which hasn’t happened since my wedding!

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Yesterday, I finally got to use one of my best presents EVER! A great friend of mine gave me a spa voucher after the birth of baby A for what must be the best spa in London. 

  
I had a one hour body massage and then a facial, it was bliss. The facilities are amazing!! It was virtually empty so I had the whole “Thermal floor” to myself, it was such a treat and SOOOOOOO needed.

This was also the first week I didn’t breastfeed in the day and I am happy no report there were no embarrassing leakages, would definitely not be a good look on TV!

Next week, the life of leisure continues with shopping, afternoon tea, lunches, pedicures…