World Cup Fever

We’re a good, old-fashioned English family at heart. I was brought up on weekends in my grandparents’ house, watching football (or cricket, or golf, or snooker – but never rugby. Grandpa didn’t like rugby) on the television, rooting for whoever my dad rooted for, but knowing that, in this South Mancunian family, Manchester United were kings. Unless you’re my grandpa, in which case he supports Liverpool (no idea, either. Some say he did it on purpose to annoy my now-late Dad!)

I went to matches a few times with my dad, and since Old Trafford was a mere 10 minute drive from where I grew up, it was a very large part of my childhood. And, who am I kidding, United are still a big part of my life, now!

Pete grew up in Leeds, watching matches at Elland Road with his dad and Pops. However, when I met him, his love affair with the club was dying. After a horrific first part of the new Millenium, Leeds United’s fortunes have never quite improved, and, since Pete lived in Islington for some years, he became a localised Arsenal fan. When our children were born, I agreed Pete could ‘have’ their football teams, and, since Stevie was born in Islington, they are Arsenal fans, too.

At the end of this week, for anyone with their head underground, the World Cup starts. For the last two world cups, I’ve been extremely excited and buzzing with World Cup fever. Obviously, with 2010 being in South Africa (where just my parents and youngest sister lived, at the time) that was enormous excitement. Then, because the last one was Brazil, home of possibly the best footballing nation ever, that was also reason to celebrate (and get very drunk, as Raheem Sterling’s goal-not-goal in our opening game against Italy was a false starter). England always do terribly, but when you’re from such a big footballing family, it’s fun just to see the spectacle.

This year, I haven’t felt that excitement. Russia does have a terrible reputation for football hooliganism although they have been cracking down on this. But, primarily, having two small children this time (I fell pregnant with Stevie halfway through the World Cup 2014) I haven’t quite felt the same level of glee – I won’t be having spontaneous drinking sessions for the 1 o’clock kick-offs, and my kids have to be in bed at 7pm, which is the KO time for a lot of the matches.

So how to rectify this? Well, thankfully, Sky Sports have an app which updates in real time, which will be wonderful for when I’m in putting the girls to bed – as will the DStv Now app. Thankfully, our local, child-friendly places have televisions to show the daytime matches. And, for a whole 10 days, we will be in the UK on holiday! Which means long, lighter evenings and later bedtimes for the girls, which, in turn, means more football-watching time for Mummy and Daddy!

As for who will win? My money’s on France to sneak up and surprise everyone. Sorry for not being patriotic, but England, I don’t think football is coming home, this year (although we have a lot of future potential)!

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Losing my Mum Tum – the Healthy Way

It’s no secret that I need to be in shape for work. It’s also no secret that it can be damn hard to get into shape after having a baby. I refuse to use the term ‘back into shape’ as I don’t believe your body will ever be the same. But being fit and healthy and strong is so important, even for people who don’t wear bikinis for a living!

So here’s how I did it. I’ve written a food diary of the last week to show what I eat every day. My snacks (not written) are Woolies maple syrup infused prunes and Lindt 85% chocolate (2 blocks). I drink only red wine and sugar-free squash or water, and if I have a hot drink it’s either coffee or rooibos with one sweetener.

This is the eating plan which works for me. The cows’ milk aspect is obviously new, but otherwise this is the way I have been eating for many years now. There is no diet involved here. I eat what I like. My only rule is that I try to eat a good amount of vegetables throughout the day. I also exercise every single day.

Mummy’s, Daddy’s and Stevie’s

The reason I am sharing this is twofold – one is to potentially help anyone who doesn’t know where to get started on eating well. Because getting started is the hardest part! But the other is to show that there is effort and discipline involved after pregnancy – and during – if you want to get into shape again quickly. There is so much emphasis on how a woman ‘should’ look after giving birth, but there is a lot of effort there and it doesn’t just happen overnight.

Read on, enjoy – and if you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments section.

Monday

Breakfast: porridge made half almond milk, half water, with real maple syrup.

Lunch: oriental chicken wings with mini corn on the cob

I forgot dinner – very naughty, I know.

Tuesday

Breakfast: porridge made half almond milk, half water, with real maple syrup.

Lunch: Brussels sprouts and baby spinach cooked with garlic in coconut oil with chopped crispy bacon

Dinner: hake tacos made with coriander, cayenne pepper, cumin, parsley and chipotle paste, with peppers and onions on lettuce tacos with homemade guacamole, goats’ cheese and Relicious green jalapeño sauce

Wednesday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs on corn cakes with smashed avo and chopped spinach, with Relicious jalapeño sauce

Lunch: homemade peanut, chicken and coconut soup with rye bread (I didn’t make it, I’m not that good)

Dinner: 3 Woolies pork sausages with Mrs. G’s hot sauce

Thursday

Breakfast: 2 eggs, scrambled in coconut oil, cooked with goat’s cheddar and chopped spinach, on corn cakes with smashed avo

Lunch: Woolies lamb frikkadels with homemade sauce – beef stock, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and ginger with onions, garlic and peas

Dinner: ‘Southern style’ shell-on prawns, steamed with fresh coriander, chopped tomatoes, onions, chilli and cumin, with charred mini corn-on-the-cob

Friday

Breakfast: 1 apple, 2 boiled eggs and one extra yolk (Stevie nibbles the whites and gives the yolk to me)

Lunch 1: three Woolies pork sausages with avocado

Lunch 2: 2 chicken breasts with pineapple and salad

Dinner: half portion of chips – oops!

Saturday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs with chopped spinach and smashed avo on corn cakes

Lunch: 2 fillet steaks, 3 steamed prawns (with garlic, chilli and lemon) and garlic wilted spinach

Dinner: 2x beef tacos with lettuce, guacamole and tomato and onion salsa.

Here’s a little disclaimer – I am not, in the slightest, advocating missing meals. Unfortunately, as a busy mum, time sometimes runs away with us. I like my three meals per day – it suits me. Monday, unfortunately, was not a good day – and I’ve kept it in the diary for honesty’s sake.

When Did my Baby Become a Child?

I’ve been busy recently. Not busy with work (I’m still desperately trying to stick to my not-working-until-June plans, but I’m finding it difficult to turn options down!) but busy with my kids.

Something has happened to Stevie. A few weeks ago, she became whingy and stroppy and I was worried, for a minute, that I had the ‘threenager.’ It would be about right, karmically – I missed out on the ‘terrible twos’ and it makes sense that I’d be given the threenager in return. But, if that was the threenage stage, I understand it, now, and that makes it easier to handle.

She woke up at night. She cried for no reason throughout the day. She wanted to nap all the time, and was really relying on ‘boobies’ for sleep – more so than she has for a while (but not as much as when Elia was first born). I found myself wondering where my happy little girl had gone! Okay, so the strops with the folded arms and the pout were seriously cute, but still…

Then, almost overnight, the change had happened. First of all, she asked me to do her hair like mine. Of course I did – but this wasn’t a once off. For anyone who doesn’t know, Stevie has always hated having her hair sorted – but she has started asking for it. She chats non-stop – all day, every day. It’s exhausting but also amazing – and challenging. I find myself having to use my brain every time she asks “why,” which is about 254789 times a day. I refuse to be the “because I said so!” mum. I walked into the lounge the other day to find her cuddling Elia, who she claimed was ‘scared of the Neverbeast.’ Uh huh, we all know who was really scared, Stevie.

I have seen the biggest developmental change in my first baby girl. She has, somehow, turned from a toddler into a little girl. The most perfect little girl I’ve ever seen. Yes, she doesn’t shut up, and she still has mini-tantrums when she’s tired, but she looks at me and says “I love you, Mummy,” with such feeling, that I can forgive her everything. I love that she’s at this stage – and I’m excited to see where she goes from here!

Back to Work!

I never intended on going straight back to work after I had Elia. To be honest, I was still reeling from the 26+kg I put on with Stevie, resulting in a further 9 months of maternity leave after she was born, that I was assuming, due to being healthier this time, I could go back to work when Elia is 6 months or so.

But here’s the thing – I’ve lost my weight already. I’m back in my 26in jeans, and, much as I’m not in my favourite, model ‘shape,’ I’m not looking too bad. And with that, comes work.

So, this weekend, leaving behind a hard-worked for 3 litres (yes, really) of breastmilk in the freezer, I boarded a flight to Cape Town, to work with the lovely James Harvest crew. 3 days of work, 3 nights from my babies. Never had I dreamt I’d be doing this again with a 3-and-a-half-month-old baby.

And it was fine. My mum sent me a message on the Sunday, after spending part of the weekend with Pete and the girls, to tell me how proud she is of him for being such a good parent (well, duh, Mama) and how proud she is of me for going away. That was lovely, and so reassuring. Of course, I really missed the girls and Pete. Mostly in the nights, when I’d wake up to express milk, and have to go back to sleep in a cold, empty bed. And, much as I love FaceTime, when Stevie fell and hurt herself mid-conversation, it pained my heart to know I couldn’t be there to comfort her.

But we all came through it. I was very, very spoiled with my first trip back. Not a high shot count, amazing locations and food, well-organised and nice people: I felt like I was working 10 years ago! Such a lovely shoot to slowly get back into the swing of things.

I can honestly say, I’m still pushing for July to be when I make my first, official foray back into work. But if jobs like this come up in between now and then, I definitely won’t be turning them down. It’s a nice way to dip my feet back in the working waters. Pus, I got to eat a hot breakfast with both hands, which is always a bonus!

PS – the nicest part of the whole thing, of course, was coming home. Those two little faces lit up when they realised Mummy was back, and Stevie’s been telling every person she sees today. It’s worth going away just for that!

Millennial Friendships

Since moving to South Africa, Instagram messages, Facebook and WhatsApp have been my saving graces with my friends. At least once a week, I’ll chat privately to my friends in the U.K. (and some here in South Africa), and keep abreast of what each other is doing. These days, I’ll be honest, it’s usually kid-or-work-or-husband related. Because, you know, life.

But yesterday, chatting with Portia, made me realize how lucky we are. We millennials (own it, if you were born in the late 80s you’re a millennial) are so fortunate to have instant access to our friends’ lives. I can see Portia’s kids growing up, even though I see them once or twice a year. I relive my own pregnancies through Billie’s. I get to pretend I’ve met Milly’s daughter, even though the last time I saw her she was 34 weeks pregnant. I can read Rebecca’s blog (modeltypeface.com) and reply to her, pretending we’re chatting here and now. I can see Emma’s renovations on her house, moderate MC’s Facebook mum’s group and watch videos of Chloé’s daughter dancing, and read about her hideous Hyperemesis Gravidarium.

Most of my friends in England, I’ve known since well before Pete and I got together. We’ve known each other through various boyfriends and work problems, through multiple births and a few family deaths. We’ve been hungover together, argued over where to have drinks, been in foreign countries together and held one another’s babies (mostly – I still need to meet Olive). And through it all, we’re still friends – even though some of us live miles and miles from each other.

I feel so lucky to live in a time where communication is so easy. Friends are so, so important – they’re the people we chat to about our husbands, good or bad, and who we moan to about our kids, and who we tell when we’re excited about something (even like a new bottle of wine we’ve discovered – those things are important!). So, this is my homage to my friends, just to let them know how happy I am to have them, and to keep in touch with their lives from afar! I love you all!

Some blogs and accounts to follow if you want to know my friends:

YoungLdnMum

Platforms and Pushchairs

Modeltypefac

The Model Mama – Milly Simmonds

Sivad Media

Tamara Kester

MotherTHUD

Peppa Pig (kinda…)

If anyone in the Gauteng area with children has somehow managed to miss this, Peppa, George, Mummy and Daddy and their friends are at Emperor’s Palace for a few days. And, as a part of her third birthday present, Stevie and I went on a Mummy and (eldest) Daughter day to watch it.

I have been so excited for today. Since we’ve had Elia, Stevie has been very Daddy-reliant, as you’d expect, and I’ve been dying for us to do something nice, just the two of us. Stevie was excited for the Peppa Pig portion of the day – I was excited for her excitement.

Emperor’s was heaving. I have never seen so many giddy toddlers in my life. We managed to get ourselves a snack box, a George cuddly toy and a magic glow stick before taking our (fantastic) seats. Stevie had just woken up from a nap on the way, so she was taking a while to come round / but she seemed happy to be there, taking in the whole atmosphere.

The first half was fantastic. The compére, ‘Anna,’ was very charismatic and her voice was great – and the puppets were nice and realistic, exactly what someone Stevie’s age would enjoy. Everything was very interactive, and the end-of-act-one section was excellent, with giant, bouncy beach balls floated across the crowd and bubbles floating down from the roof everywhere! The kids were going crazy! Well… most of them. Hmm. Something wasn’t quite right here.

We went to the loo in the break, but before we could buy a ‘busy pack,’ we were called back in again. On the way we passed our friends, Alésia and her daughter, Nikki, who wasn’t feeling or looking great. Then we sat down. The second half started where the last one picked up, with great singing and dancing and entertainment for everyone to join in with.

But unfortunately I couldn’t really pay attention to this bit, and nor could Stevie. She cuddled into me, not wanting a drink or any of the snack pack (I had eaten the crisps already). Something wasn’t quite right here. And, unfortunately, 20 minutes before the end, I ended up with toddler vomit down my top, doing a quick shuffle out of the theatre with a very lethargic (and disappointed) little girl.

So here, my review comes to an end. Neither Stevie, nor I, knows how the show came to a close. We managed to snag ourselves a queue-free busy pack, which was great. But the fun was over, as Stevie seemed to have the bug that has taken over the school (I don’t think it’s listeriosis, no panic! She’s fine now). We quickly called Daddy to come fetch us, and she slept the whole way home, cuddling her cuddly George.

I honestly thought I was more disappointed than Stevie. But, hey ho, we had fun and she enjoyed what she saw. But she did, honestly, break my heart when she felt better later on, and said, “Mummy, I’m not sick anymore. I want to see Peppa Pig.” So, disappointment all around but she obviously enjoyed the show. I actually enjoyed the show. And, therefore, it gets top marks from us.

Peppa Pig Live is at Emperor’s Palace until the 2nd April, and tickets are still somewhat available at Computicket.

A Small Treat for a Busy Mama

I’ve not written a blog post for a while. Having two kids (and my MIL visiting) has got a bit manic! We’ve barely had time to sit down. It was also Stevie’s 3rd birthday this week (where has that time gone?), and Elia is 3 months old today!

My beautiful 3-year-old!

My beautiful 3-month-old!

But last week, joy of joys, I finally HAD MY HAIR DONE! To the layman, and to pre-baby Sophie, this may seem like the smallest thing in the world – a chore, even (minus the complimentary head massage, of course). But to mum-of-two Sophie, this was a lovely treat.

I took Elia with me, of course. Anyone who’s read my previous posts knows how much I despise expressing milk, so I left myself no choice. But she was good as gold! Everyone fussed over her nicely, and she slept (on my boob, of course) while I was having my hair washed and my head so nicely massaged.

It’s so nice for me to feel like myself again. I’m not the ‘girliest’ of girls, but my hair is something I’m very proud of. And now it’s back to its glory!

There’s something to be said for remembering who you were before you had children. Even for a tiny amount of time, before my hair got all messy and thrown back into a ponytail, I was model Sophie. And this is not something that should provoke guilt – this is very important, for me at least, to keep my sanity. Being a mum is the best job in the world – being a mum as myself is even better.

I have my hair done by Kirsten Carr Thomas at VNH Hairdressers in Bedfordview. Kirsten is making a habit of winning awards for her colour, these days, as well as for her amazing body in fitness competitions!

A Perfect Tuesday Morning

We’ve had a bit of a manic week and weekend. Most of it good – we had plenty of nice parties and events to go to at the weekend, plus my sister (Auntie Georgia, cheetah sister) and her man were in town, so we had lots of family time. But Cleo, our big dog, got a haematoma in her ear which has now become infected, and Stevie and Elia both decided to shout at me on Saturday – all morning – so it’s been just a bit much.

So, this morning, I woke up with the sudden realization that we have to hurry up with Elia’s passport paperwork (thank god we called to sort that out yesterday) – and this made me realise just how close I am to going back to work. Back to travelling and being away from my family.

I decided I’d get up and do the morning again this morning, to have some quality time with the two of them – and this happened…

What a way to start a Tuesday morning! We read books and watched Paw Patrol and snuggled until school time. It really cheered me up, so I thought I’d share it. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Boredom and After School Activities

A piece of writing went viral last week on the problem with organising your toddler’s day after they’ve finished school.

Stevie’s preferred after-school activity.

And it made me think.

Right now, with Elia so small and needy, it’s easy to organise every last aspect of Stevie’s life, to keep her occupied whilst I’m busy with Elia. But what if I’m giving her too much to do? A few days ago, Pete and I were busy and she brought her Duplo brick through to the lounge and happily played with them for hours. On other days, she’ll ask to paint or play with her Play-Doh. And, yes, at times she’ll want all of my attention, and sometimes have a breakdown if she doesn’t get it – but, surely, that’s a really important part of life for her to learn?

Oh hi, Rome!

I used to think I was doing her a favour when I organised things for her to do. But, having watched her deal with her own boredom by requesting to go in the pool, or play hide and seek, or help Daddy around the house, I can see that by letting her decide what she wants to do, I’m giving her a really important responsibility to control her own fun. In effect, she’s teaching herself a valuable resource for later life. So, from now on, she can decide what she wants to do on an afternoon, if possible (but not Tuesdays – horse riding is her one requested hobby, so that’s staying). Let’s see how it goes…

On Breastfeeding and Working

Elia is now 8 weeks old. This past week, I’ve started expressing milk for when I return to work. Oh, the joys!

On average, a breastfed baby needs approximately 1 litre of breastmilk per 24 hours. So, by the time I go back to work, I’ll need the very bare minimum of 3 litres in the freezer for Elia. Thankfully, Stevie hasn’t taken breastmilk from a bottle since she was just over a year old – otherwise I’d be pumping my entire life away!

Just a snippet of what I left behind for Stevie

3 litres will last her roughly 3 days, so that’s allowing for a one day job and travel time. Ideally, I can get 4 litres. But I absolutely despise expressing.

I don’t have an issue, as far as ease goes. I’ve been blessed with a plentiful milk supply (seriously, you wanna see this stuff go shooting across the room on a let down) and 15 mins with a double electric Medela pump yields around 150ml easily. I just struggle to find the time to sit with a cup of coffee and pump. I also hate the sound of the machine and the feeling of it – breastfeeding an infant is a nice experience, but having your milk sucked out by a machine is, honestly, cow-like. Moo.

But I refuse to be beaten. The first time I went back to work after Stevie was born, I left enough milk bar two feeds. This time, I will beat my own record and leave surplus. Now I just need to motivate myself enough to sit every single day and remove it. Wish me luck!