Why a trip to Clarks is like a trip to Ollivander’s Wand Shop {The Wonderful Ordinary 7}

We tentatively entered the store, new to this world of shoes and looked around. There were so many to choose from, lining the walls and shelves around us.

“Can I help you?” said a polite shop assistant.

“I was hoping to get a pair of shoes for my daughter?”

The shop assistant smiled. “Come with me,” she said & led us to the back of the store. As I got Baby Girl out of the buggy, she whipped out a tiny foot measurer. I sat on the padded seat & Baby Girl stared in amazement. It felt like only yesterday I had been sat having my foot measured for my school shoes each summer…

“Hold out your left foot,” the lady said softly as she gently took Baby Girl’s foot in her hand and placed it on the measurer. She slid the top to her toes and tightened the tape measure round her little foot. Next came the right foot.

“Three and a half, F,” she exclaimed, “with a narrow heel, high arch and shallow toes. Let’s see what we have for you.” We walked to the back wall, lined with tiny shoes. “She’ll need Walker shoes, which are from here down, ” the lady gestured. “But most of our walker shoes don’t come smaller than a size 4, so perhaps it’s best if I bring you what is available and you choose from those? ” I nodded, remembering so many years of torture trying to find a pair of shoes that fit my narrow little feet…

She reappeared with a handful of tiny boxes.

“I can see already, these won’t support her arch,” she said as she opened one box.

“And I don’t think the red sandals will work; it’s only early Spring,” I said.

“Not to worry, we’ll find the perfect match here somewhere. Try these,” she said as she pulled the dusty purple pair with flowers on the toes from their box. We fastened them to Baby Girl’s feet.

“Good length, good width,” she said as she wiggled Baby Girl’s foot this way, “hmmm…”  I popped her on her feet. She wobbled & reached for the seat for support. Then flop! Baby Girl tripped and landed on her bum. Pulling herself up she tried again; “Not quite right…” the lady said as we took the shoes off Baby Girl’s feet.

“Try these,” she said as she produced a pink polkadot pair with a frill on the toes. I winced at how girlie the little shoes were but Baby Girl presented her little foot, ready & waiting. “She’s getting the hang of it now,” said the lady.

“Good length, good width, heel doesn’t slip…” She wiggled Baby Girl’s foot again, pinching her toes through the shoes. Baby Girl slid off my knee and took a few tentative steps. She looked at me then out towards the shop… & that was it, she was off towards the door.

There were no red & gold sparks flying, but Baby Girl made it clear these were the shoes that fit like a glove. I smiled and clapped as Baby Girl wandered around the store with a big smile on her face. The shop assistant smiled, “Oh yes indeed, very good.”

She took Baby Girl’s new shoes, placed them back in the box and wrapped them in white paper, still smiling down at a cheery Baby Girl. I paid £32 for Baby Girl’s shoes & the shop assistant smiled, handing me the bag. 

Because you see, it doesn’t matter if you want the navy desert boots, purple trainers or awesome little yellow wellies. They may not come in your child’s size, or support their little feet in the right places & God forbid they should slip on the heel! The Clarks’ assistant might as well have been called Ollivander & said; “It’s really the shoes that choose the child…”

Keep up to date with Finding Our Feet on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts. 

Brilliance in Blogging Awards: get voting!

IMG_7360I am completely & utterly over the moon to announce that my little blog has made the shortlist for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2015!

I can’t begin to describe how proud, honoured, grateful, flabbergasted & absolutely ecstatic I am. And I can’t thank anyone who nominated me enough for taking the time to do so. Just to be shortlisted is such an achievement for me, thank you.

I was actually in the waiting room for an interview when I found out – & being oh so professional, I actually yelped of shock & excitement.. Oops!

But now comes the hard part. I’m listed in the Family Category alongside some of the best parent bloggers in the country, pretty much all of whom have been writing for a lot longer than myself.voteforfavs-ROUND-145x145

So, I have one more favour to ask of you; if you enjoy my blog, please take just five minutes to vote for ‘Bump Baby Me’ in the Family Category here.

(If you’re on a mobile or tablet, click here to vote.)

Voting closes on May 15th, 2015 and the finalists are announced on May 22.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the blog to date; whether you’re a new reader or have been with me on this journey since our ‘oh shit’ moment. I am truly humbled that so many of you take the time to read my blog each week, let alone nominate me for an award. Thank you.

Wish me luck!

Speed Mumming

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Baby Girl has no trouble making friends in the park…*

Now Baby Girl is walking, our trips out have changed somewhat. With the nice weather, we’re spending lots of time in the park & we’ve recently discovered the play park. (The slide is her favourite.)

She toddles all around, picking up sticks, watching the older children play, chasing pigeons (of course), etc, etc.

Baby Girl is also extremely friendly. She happily plops herself down on other families’ picnic blankets, helping herself to their toys, even patting younger babies on the head saying hello. Naturally, I then follow (not with the head patting & toy stealing).

And so the polite chit chat with other mums begins.

Baby Girl is thirteen months old, so I’m not new to this. At swimming last summer, I exchanged numbers after the first class with two women as we realised we lived close by & could walk together – now we even text & meet up outside of swimming for playdates. Woohoo! Mum friends! (Please remember this success & vision of normality as you read what follows…)

But this is different. There’s no ‘excuse’ to exchange numbers here, no definite second meeting if you say something stupid the first time round. Because instead of us walking the same way every Tuesday & getting to know each other over time, you have the attention span of a toddler to make a good impression, gage whether this is someone you want to swap numbers with & chat enough that it’s not weird to ask for their number but not enough that they are inclined to say no.

All whilst praying your toddler doesn’t suddenly do something utterly unacceptable like smack the six month old on the rug, or refuse to give their toy back. (Thankfully, so far, all hypothetical.)

It’s basically speed-dating for mums.

And it’s my worst nightmare.

I should say at this point, I’m a friendly, likeable, relatively normal, chatty person. I can talk til the cows come home to almost anyone (thanks for this trait Mom).

But I find this Speed Mumming really hard.

I think there are two main issues at play.

1. I am 26 but look 16, with a baby. And let’s be honest, no matter how intelligent & interesting a person you are, if you’re 16 with a baby, people make certain assumptions.

I had a bit of a negative experience with this last summer, when a group of mums didn’t even feign interest in speaking to me at a coffee morning until they overheard that I worked in marketing at a large telco before mat leave (i.e., I wasn’t 16). Safe to say, I haven’t gone back to that coffee morning & I’ve been a bit more choosey about who I bother to spend my time with.

2. I’ve never been in the dating game. I’ve never really been picked up in a bar or had someone ask for my number & to be honest, I’ve never been on a proper first date.

So basically, I have no game.

I was so utterly terrible at the whole thing at school, I just didn’t bother – I was always terrified a boy might realise I liked him but not like me back, so I’d just pretend I detested him instead. It was easier.

(I can see your eyes flicking back to the ‘sane, normal, etc, etc’ part. I did say ‘relatively.’)

The few times I have got my act together in the romantic department, on the whole, vodka was the catalyst. With the OH, for instance, we’d been friends for some time, hanging out, ordering take away, watching movies – classic ‘non-date-we’re-denying-our-feelings’ stuff – until finally I had a couple of shots too many & the rest history.

Even with my now best mate, Baby Girl’s Odd Mother, we met on the first day of Uni in our introductory lecture & all I could think to say was, “I like your glasses”. Really!? That’s all the game I have!? Really!? Another girl from my halls saved the day by bemoaning lectures with a hangover, swiftly changing the subject, meaning Trini gave me a second chance & our friendship was sealed over many vodka based drinks throughout our first year at Uni.

But something tells me if I show up to the swings with a bottle of Grey Goose under the buggy & a selection of mixers, it won’t quite have the same effect…

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Baby Girl took rather a shine to one family’s tiny dog, which meant the mum & I stood chatting for nearly a whole seven minutes.

Last week at the park, on two separate occasions, I got chatting to two separate mums, both with three year old boys Baby Girl followed round (a trend the OH will not enjoy, I’m sure).

We chatted for maybe two minutes or so before both mums (clearly more experienced at this than me) said, “So, do you live round here?”

They may as well just ask, “So, do you come here often?”

When I was telling the OH about my day later, he said, “that was your in, Amie. They were clearly open to exchanging numbers.”

Oh…

So long story short, I never asked for their numbers. And I’ve fumbled my way through another chat in the park since, when no ‘in’ was given, so I didn’t risk asking.

But as my mom always says, “tomorrow is another day”. And practise makes perfect… right?

*NB: the baby in the photo above is actually a friend’s daughter who we bumped into after I had failed dismally at Speed Mumming earlier that day. I have her permission to post the photo here; I do not take photos of random people’s kids & post them on my blog. That really would be the nail in the coffin for Speed Mumming!


Mojo Q1 Results

I meant to write on April 1st, giving an update on how I was doing with ‘finding my Mojo’. But I got a bit sidetracked with other projects, a holiday & life.

Back in January, I found my word for the year using  Susannah Conway‘s method. The idea is this word will be with me for the year, focussing me & my efforts to achieve my goals for the year. My word for the year is Mojo. As I said in January:

Everything that’s a given or that I’m hoping for in 2015 is encapsulated perfectly by MOJO. Last year was about learning & finding my (our) feet. 2015 is about getting my (our) mojo back. And as Baby Girl becomes her own little person, she’ll be finding her’s too.

It has energy, it inspires happiness, it encompasses togetherness – the Other Half & I have found our groove as parents, now it’s time to get back to being a couple.

Well, so far, I think I’m doing pretty well.

The OH & I have had at least one date night per month (as documented in the Me & You series on the blog) & making time to be a couple, beyond just being parents.

I’m still job hunting, which is a bit disheartening. Though I’ve scored some freelance work recently, which is a step in the right direction & I’ve reached final round of a few interview processes now, receiving positive feedback but so far I haven’t been able to seal the deal.

But possibly the biggest step towards finding my mojo again is that I’ve agreed to go on a girls’ holiday this summer. In fact, I just transferred the money & booked. So I’m definitely, 100% going.

And I’m really, really nervous.

I’ll be leaving Baby Girl for a whole week at the end of June. The grandparents and the OH will each take a day looking after Baby Girl while away. I think she’ll have a wail of a time to be honest & it’ll be me in bits.

I wasn’t going to go initially as I was so worried I’d miss Baby Girl too much & be too upset. The last thing I want to do is ruin everyone else’s holiday because I’m an emotional wreck. But after talking it through with the OH & my best friend (who ironically, won’t be on the holiday so she was very impartial), I decided this is something I should do. Not least because I haven’t been on a girls’ holiday since I was 18 & I think I’d end up regretting not joining in the fun.

And in the OH’s word; “your life doesn’t have to revolve entirely around Baby Girl, Amie. You need some stuff for just you.”

But my one condition when we were looking for somewhere to stay was it had to have wifi so I could FaceTime & keep in touch easily.

So, come the end of June, I will be sunning myself in Greece with the girls, sipping cocktails by the infinity pool, probably FaceTiming home once an hour to check in. As it’s a summer holiday, I’ll conveniently be wearing sunglasses anyway, so no one has to see my red, puffy eyes…

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Doesn’t it just look idyllic!

Now I just need to find a swimsuit that is even remotely flattering when surrounded by a group of twenty-something ladies who haven’t had babies… Hmmm…

Me & You: April 20

We recently discovered comedian Aziz Ansari (thank you Netflix!). A quick aside – watch his stand up, cry with laughter, thank me later. In his show, Buried Alive, he talks a lot about family life & relationships. I’ve searched high & low for a video clip to show you, but sadly the particular bit I want to share isn’t available so I have to share it in written form, which doesn’t do it justice. So if you have Netflix, fast forward to 18:02 minutes or you can download the bit from iTunes (track 6) for £0.79 if you are so inclined. In his own words;

You want to have a depressing conversation? Talk to a couple that just had a kid. Ask them about the last night they went out for themselves. They will describe the most boring, typical, mundane, evening out with the same enthusiasm a normal person will describe… a three way sexual experience. [For example…] “So we go back to my house, I’ve got these two, really hot girls.” “So we go to the mall. I’ve got two tickets to Rango.” I know what you’re thinking, Aziz, shouldn’t you update that to a more recent film? No. These people go to movies that are old as shit. They’ve been trying to see Rango for a couple of years now…

While I wouldn’t say our situation is quite that bad (yet), last night’s date night wasn’t quite what date night once was…

This month, we wanted to do something fun together. Not that dinner isn’t fun, but I felt we should do something more with the precious time we had. But the Other Half has had a chest infection since last week & though now has antibiotics & is on the mend, he wasn’t exactly in the mood for date night (understandably). But he insisted we took the opportunity to go out just the two of us.

My mom couldn’t get here until between 7 & 8pm so we said we’d eat at home to save money then go out for the evening. I called All Star Lanes to book a slot – in six years, we’ve never been bowling together, can you believe. Turns out they reserve all their lanes for customers eating Tuesday-Saturday. Bugger. Put that one in the back pocket for another time then.

However, it’s now 3pm, on the day of date night, we have a sitter booked but nothing to do – the ultimate parenting faux pas. Determined not to waste a baby sitter, we checked the movies; timings didn’t really work out as they were all 9pm starts, which meant finishing after 11pm, which wasn’t great for the OH with work the next day. (I know, I know, just so rock’n’roll.)

We considered a walk in the park – but I spend most days in the park so wasn’t overly keen.

A walk down the River Thames – it’s not that warm yet in the evenings once the sun goes down.

The OH went to book go-karting – awesome! – but their last session was at 6:30pm. Oh. Next time…

“I know!” said the the OH, “we’ll go to the Mile End Climbing Wall. That’s different & interesting!” So he started on dinner while I finished bed time with Baby Girl, ready to head off once my mom arrived.

But in reality, when we were sat on the bus, the OH said, “actually, I’m quite tired… we could just go to the pub for a drink?” At which point, we realised, he couldn’t drink because he’s on antibiotics.

And we just started laughing, saying, “we should have just got tickets to Rango!”

And so we got off the bus not at the climbing wall, or the movies, or the park, or the pub…

Instead, we went to a little ice cream ‘parlour’ in Stepney Green. Cookies & Cream is a strange little place. Black tables, black boothes, black walls, club-style music blasting from the plasma TV at the back… it’s kind of like a club, but you eat ice cream instead of drinking alcohol. And there’s no dance floor (that we found). So I had the brownies with ice cream, the OH had a Twix shake, coming to a grand total of £10. So at least we managed to save money as we intended.

In January, we said the point of these date nights was to spend some time just the two of us, without Baby Girl. So in some ways, it was actually a resounding success…

After chatting away the evening, we were home by 10pm, yawning & ready for bed. We are officially middle aged before our time. But it’s ok, we have next month’s date night booked well in advance, tickets purchased in March and a sitter booked already. So we’ll redeem ourselves then…

A walk in the park {The Wonderful Ordinary 5}

She looks so small!

Today, for the first time ever, I took Baby Girl out without the buggy or the carrier.

I.e., she just walked beside me. I felt this was rather momentous.

We only went to the park near our apartment. But this isn’t just any park – it’s more of a woodland. We walked around it during my labour; it was where we went for Baby Girl’s first outing the week we brought her home; we hosted her Naming Day picnic there & she’s gone for a walk in the carrier come rain or shine probably every week since she was born in this park.

And today, she got to walk around it for herself.

I carried her there (road safety & all that) & popped her on her feet when we were inside the gate. Her little face lit up when she clocked where we were; like she too realised this wasn’t just any trip to the local park.

I let her decide which paths we took & which plants we looked at. (Though we spent most of the time staring up into the trees looking for birds, Baby Girl’s current fascination.)

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“This way Mama…” Girl after my own heart, she leads the way, no excuses or apologies.

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PIDGEONS!!!

I did carry her on & off; between the adventuring & excitement, she got tired quite quickly and would suddenly turn and pull at my jumper, asking for a rest. So for the time being I won’t be venturing far without the buggy or carrier – arms wouldn’t last!

Most of the time, she’s just Baby Girl to me. But then I have afternoons like this, that I suddenly see her differently – she’s changing every day & becoming her own little person so quickly. Makes you realise, blink & you’ll miss it!

Keep up to date with Finding Our Feet on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts. 

Parenting Hack #4: microwave eggs

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I didn’t realise this one was a Parenting Hack until the OH saw me making Baby Girl’s breakfast and was in awe. So I figure maybe some other people don’t know about microwave eggs either…

Scrambled eggs is an easy win with pretty much any baby. But let’s not beat around the bush; everyone hates washing a saucepan that’s been used to make scrambled eggs. It sticks like glue to the sides of the pan and hot water just seems to make it worse.

Cue a plastic dish in the microwave…

  1. Crack an egg into your baby’s plastic bowl; give it a quick whisk with a fork.
  2. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Whisk again.
  4. Pop it in the microwave for another 30 seconds.
  5. The mixture should be firming up now, sort of resembling an runny omelette; give it a stir with your fork and separate it a bit.
  6. Pop it in the microwave for a final 30 seconds to make sure it’s cooked all the way through
  7. Give it a final stir and break it up with the fork before serving to your bambino.

Best served with toast. Yum, yum.

Optional extras:

  • I crack the egg over two cherry tomatoes, chopped, & one baby courgette & Baby Girl gobbles it all up. But you could try any veggies your little one likes, see if they work. Not only is she getting veggies (though beware, the microwave does zap some of goodness) but it makes it a larger portion, keeping her fuller for longer.
  • Grate some cheese into the mixture before you ‘cook’ it – always a winner.

And that’s pretty much it. A great little store cupboard recipe that you can throw together in the blink of an eye. You’re welcome!

 

A change is as good as a rest

Since Baby Girl’s first birthday, if I’m honest, I’ve started to feel/realise/accept that singing nursery rhymes, changing diapers and watching the clock to check how long until snack time/lunch time/dinner time/[insert other daily routine element here] isn’t really enough.

Everyone said I would reach that point. But even in January as I started job hunting – because I had to, not because I wanted to – I wanted to be at home with Baby Girl rather than returning to work.

I’ve mentioned before I got made redundant when I went on maternity leave. So unlike many women, I haven’t had an ‘end date’. We all know the ups & downs of job hunting; I keep saying I’m on ‘extended mat leave’, but the reality is I’m unemployed & ‘a stay at home mum’ (SAHM for future reference).

The fact I kept avoiding calling myself that should have been my first clue that being a SAHM wasn’t my ‘end game’…

Last week, however, I had a bit of a change of pace. (Hence why the blog has been so quiet.)

I had a rather busy week with an interview on Tuesday and some freelance work on Thursday. Luckily, it was my mom’s last week before she starts back at work four days a week so she was all to eager to help with childcare. So Baby Girl & I decamped to Hetfordshire for four days so I could prepare in peace beyond a 40 minute nap time & without being surrounded by colourful all-singing-all-dancing plastic.

As I pulled ‘Professional Amie’ out from the back of the wardrobe mom & Baby Girl sauntered off to the swings to enjoy the sunshine. I’d be lying if at this point I didn’t just want to sack it all off & sit in the sun! But I didn’t.

On the Wednesday, I dutifully stayed indoors preparing for an ‘Understanding Social Media’ workshop I’d been asked to run by an old contact for her new firm. They’ve decided the company needs more of a social media strategy, but like so many, couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

And finally, this weekend we were then at my in-laws’ as the Other Half & I have been saying we’ll refurbish The Little Auntie & Uncle’s old cot for pretty much a year now. At long last, with Spring arriving, we made a start & got it sanded down & the base coat done while GranPam looked after Baby Girl for us. (And Baby Girl was in her element following The Little Auntie & Uncle round all weekend, playing with their toys & the three dogs.) 

This evening (Sunday), for the first time in about a month, I feel more revved up & ready to go with Baby Girl. I’ve had pretty much five days with someone else being in the hot seat for Baby Girl. Although I’ve been busy & I’m shattered, especially after four night’s unbroken sleep (Baby Girl doesn’t sleep as well away from home) it is indeed true what they say; a change is as good as a rest.

Check out what’s been keeping me sane this past year without me even realising it:

  • Bump, Baby & Me
  • The ParentCast; launched in March 2013 with two other first time mum.
  • Bubele; managing their social media accounts, now editing the monthly partner newsletter & launching their blog in May 2015.

Eskimo Kisses {The Wonderful Ordinary 4}

When I was little, my mum used to brush her nose with mine & say that was how Eskimos kissed. She said it was so cold their lips would stick together if they kissed properly.

(This was the 90s, people were only just becoming aware of racial stereotypes & what was considered PC…)

So since Baby Girl was born, without thinking, I would brush my nose with her’s & say, “Eskimo kisses!”.

Today, as I have done a thousand times before without thinking, I said, “Eskimo kisses!” and went to brush my nose with Baby Girl’s & before I even started to shake my head, she had lent in & started shaking her head, giggling.

As a result, we’ve now exchanged many Eskimo kisses today, all with lots of giggling. I was so excited the first time she did it I did a little wiggle in the middle of the pub garden.

And this is what I’ll always remember about my second Easter as a Mama.

The day Baby Girl gave her first Eskimo Kiss.

Happy Easter

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts.