Monday, July 29, 2013

Seasons of change

July is about to end, which means that here we've just navigated through half this season. Not the astronomical season, and not the meteorological season either (we've had one week of real summer weather so far, it's driving me mad!), but what I always considered summer: the two whole school free months. They are supposed to be the months of relax, calm and fun. No obligations (well, not many) and lots of opportunities. But this year is kicking my ass really hard, and this July has been the month of stress, anxiety and changes. Things do not look much calmer for August, and September...

Next September things are going to change a lot around here, both because of going back to the usual parts of our routine (housekeeping, university...) and because of new things that we will have to make a place and time for (job hunting, Oath starting daycare, English tests, competitive examinations...). I am feeling so stressed just thinking about all I'll have to do in so little time, and I know that I tend to unconsciously hide my anxiety, even from myself, so seeing I am stressed means it can easily get out of control. And nobody wants an out of control stressed OM, hmm?

So, I've decided to start working on it now. How? Timetables, plans, schedules. On one hand, planning helps me relax; on the other, if I manage to get our lives into some sort of routine now, then I'll only have to manage it.
Without further ado, then, I present you OM's Summer Schedule:

Click to enlarge.

Now I only need to learn how to stick to it!

Oath's Mom

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Life goes on

How are you all doing?

Here, life has been hectic. Exams, cleaning that didn't get done, colds, teething, new crafts... Off-line life has been so intense, so packed of activities and worries, that I haven't been able to add yet another thing (blogging) to it.
Now that it is slowly coming back to normal, I hope I can come back and keep posting: blogging keeps me accountable, it keeps me doing things, be they part of our much needed routine of new activities that look worth trying. I can promise, though, because this summer seems to come with plenty of stress and hardly any quiet time.

Whatever happens, though, I'll check in every once in a while to see how you're all doing, and to tell you we're still alive!

Oath's Mom

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

10 ideas for Father's Day gifts

Father's day is right around the corner! Well, for some of you it is, anyway. For me... not so much. Here it was a long time ago (many months!), but I remember how much I worried then and how much I scrambled trying to find the perfect gift. 
I did not have any idea what to gift Partner: buy something? make something? make Oath make something? (because, lets be honest, he wasn't going to do any gift by himself, at 9 months old!) pretend I forgot?

In the end, this is what we ended up doing, but in the process of searching the perfect thing, I came up with some of these ideas:

  1. Photos. Be it a big print of the two (or more!) of them or a series of pics of the baby holding letters that spell "dad", it's the easiest way to remind him of his kid and all the good times they have spent (and will spend!) together.
  2. Write a little story about how great a dad he is, and illustrate it with some picture of him with your little one. If you are good at being sneaky (I am so not!), you can take the pictures specially for this without him knowing it, like a little secret photo shoot of just the two of them.
  3. Handprints / Footprints. Dip your little one's feet and hands in water soluble, non toxic paint and use a sturdy watercolor paper: you can use the dad's favorite team colors if you want to make it extra especial. Or, if you are a little afraid of the mess you can make with the paint, press the kid's hand and feet on a layer of modelling clay.
  4. If it is possible, let him sleep in and, when he wakes up, bring a favorite breakfast to bed. This will be specially nice for him if you co-sleep and the baby is an early riser, or if he is the one to get up for night / early morning feedings.
  5. Cook his favorite foods and add a little extra: a nice dinner with a special dessert, buy some of his favorite beverage of choice..
  6. Pack your bags, put the baby in the stroller or the carrier, and go somewhere you used to go before the baby's birth. Do what you used to do, but with your new addition: go watch a sports match, have a picnic, hike an easy trail... as a family!
  7.  How long it's been since the two of you, dad and mom, were alone? Leave the kid with a babysitter and go out for dinner. Then go dancing, or star gazing, or to the movies... do something he enjoys like you would have before having your child: we all know how easy it is for kids to take over the spotlight... let dad be the one there for a day!
  8. Buy (or make) the baby something daddy related. A hat of dad's favorite movie character (R2D2, anyone? I know Partner would love it!), a onesie with a funny quote ("I listen to Dire Straits like my daddy", or the more common "I love Dad")... or maybe some matching shirts for baby and dad!
  9. Buy (or make) him something non-baby related. He's a dad, yes, but he's also the same person he was before! Go with something you'd gift him any other day.
  10. Ask him what he wants, if you have no idea. It's not perfect, and some fathers might not like it, but at least it shows that you care and that you want to do something he really enjoys. His answer might surprise you!

The best thing? You can do a couple of those, as many of them aren't really expensive. What about dressing your kid up as Luke Skywalker while dad sleeps in and bringing him breakfast to bed on a tray where a card with your baby's hand and footprints says "Happy Father's Day, Daddy!". I bet he'd love it!

Oath's mom

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A weekend to catch up

It's a fact: a busy off-line life means a lack of online life. 

The silence on the blog just means that I've been running up and down, with lots of things to do and too little time to do them, not that I am gone. My mind has been occupied by my studies, mostly, and Oath's increasing taste for danger (his passion for outlets, power cords and trying to throw himself off of beds, cribs and couches are a constant source of activity in this house!) hasn't made things better, either.
But the blog hasn't been the only thing to suffer from my absence: our house is a mess. If I got a penny for every time I say this, I'd be rich soon, but it's true. When I have to let go of something to retain my sanity, order and organization are some of the first things to go (as is food, which explains my lack of menu planing lately). And oh, have I let go lately!

The old me would be so appalled that this happened that she would not know what to do. The new me (the mom me) knows what she has to do: start again, keep trying, not give up. Preferably before Monday.
Why? I do not work well when there's people around: if I feel watched, I turn into a clumsy bunch of nerves and nothing gets done. But Partner is gone this whole weekend and this means it's the perfect time to do a quick home rescue mission! Oath is here (but I can clean with him watching me, thankfully!), so a bit of organization and planning ahead is needed:

Click to expand

This is how my weekend will hopefully go. What about yours? Now that summer is just around the corner, are you taking time to relax or, like me, frantically trying to get everything in order?

Oath's Mom

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Oath's Birthday

Some days ago my little boy turned one. I had expected it to be an emotional moment, or that at least I'd spend the evening thinking about all the feelings and pain and nerves that I went through one year ago. But nothing of this happened. I didn't even notice it when 07:07pm (the minute he was laid on my chest for the first time) went by. It was when we were coming back home, near 10pm, when I looked at him, so peaceful in his car seat, looking at the sunset and smiling at the trees, that I thought that he had been by my side for longer than a year.

So hard to believe, and yet so easy!

I had never cared about birthdays before, they just seemed like an excuse to celebrate and eat cake. Not that eating cake is bad, but... well, it wasn't something I looked forward to. Even my last birthday I felt like this. But with Oath's... Suddenly everything made sense. This is why we celebrate them! The joy of having lived a whole Sun revolution by the side of such an amazing human being was too big to not be celebrated.
And so I did.

I had wanted to host a party at our flat, and started preparing for it: I planned a cake, some party favors, invitations, some bunting to hang and under which to take a family photo... Things never go exactly as planned, though, so we ended up at my in-laws. Part of the reason was that my mom and my sisters were visiting, and our apartment is too small.

I had already done the crocheted bunting, which is now hanging on our bedroom's window, waiting patiently for the day Oath's room will be ready. Hopefully, that will be soon and he'll have a place full of color to play in (and our living room will have less toys on the floor!)

I also made the cake, and oh, was it good! It was just a striped yogurt and chocolate cake, with Nutella, straight from the jar, as frosting/glue (so yummy!). While decorating, I discovered that fondant is easier to work with than I expected, though it is extremely sweet.

And a batch of cookies following this recipe, but there are no photos: we ate them fast! I did not use vanilla (I don't like it, so I skip it in many recipes), and they tasted like pure cocoa, not too sweet. Perfect after the extra-sweet cake!

Everything else did not get done, but I don't mind much. Close family does not need an invitation, and I can still do the photo book with the best of this past year's photos. What is important is the joy, the celebration of the time spent together, the renewal of that mother's oath (which I may re-write soon, because life changes and grows and so do my promises to my little boy).

I love you, Oath. Happy birthday, my son.

Oath's mom

Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 things you can do for a studying mom (or not mom!)

The first set of exams is over. Now I just have to wait for the grades, and then we'll see if I am definitely free until next September, of if I have to go to the resits. Whatever happens, though, I get a break now. Just in time for Oath's birthday!
I'm preparing a post about it, but every time I work on it I get so emotional I can't finish (my little boy turns one year old! Already! *teary eyes*). I'm such an emotional mamma.

So, instead of that post (which will come soon, I promise), I have another 10 things list, for those of you who know someone still deep on the exams season.

What can you do to help a student mom?
  1. First of all, and for me that's one of the most important: make sure she eats enough. How? Insisting that she eats might just stress her out, so why not cook for her instead? The time she does not have to spend thinking and cooking the food she'll eat is time she can invest on studying... or maybe taking a much needed break.
  2. While we're talking about food, let's talk about breakfast. I never ate breakfast, and it still does not come as a habit to me, but if there's one time I feel I need it is when exams are close. When Partner offers me a healthy breakfast (for example, a homemade smoothie with berries and full-fat yoghurt, a couple of homemade cookies and a handful of almons) I'm much more able to concentrate and put my brain to good use.
  3. It's never easy to study with a toddler tugging on your pants, a baby crying close to you, or a kid playing loudly in the same room. Give some moments of silence to the student and take the kid out: go for a walk, or visit some friends, maybe go grocery shopping.
  4. Of course, mom also needs fresh air and to see something apart from her notes, so if you see it's been days since she stepped out of home, take her out: a walk, dinner...
  5. This one is my favorite: a massage! What's better on times of stress than a shoulder rub? Hand down, this is it!
  6. If there's one thing that students usually are short of, apart from time, it is sleep. If she's the one usually getting up with with your early bird, let her sleep in while you take care of the kid. Of course, do not let her sleep until too late: she has to study!
  7. A dirty house, or even just a messy one, makes it harder for one to focus, doesn't it? Clean a bit and straighten it all out while she prepares!
  8. When one is studying every little thing seems bigger, and those little annoying facts of life can turn into real problems. Lift a student's spirit with a little present: some sushi, a flower, an impromptu hug and "I love you".
  9. Do not let the feelings of "I can't do this" or "It is too hard" rule in her head. Your encouragement can go a long way! Tell her that you believe in her, and that she certainly can do it.
  10. And, of course, ask her what she need from you! Everybody needs different things at different times, and she may very well ask you for something you (and I) would never think of.
Just a little note: I am talking about student moms because I've come up with this list from my experience, but they probably will work for every student parent, moms or dad, even grandparents and siblings. And, of course, for students that are not parents yet!

See you soon!

 Oath's mom

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Halfway through

Half of my exams are done: if I've made it this far, I can make it till the end, right?

Apart from studying, there's plenty happening around here: we're getting ready for Oath's first birthday (presents to buy, bunting to finish, cakes to bake...), I'm trying to unload a bit of stress by baking (chocolate cookies, hot-dog buns... whatever works) and rearranging Oath's room, the parsley and the tomatoes are growing (I even used some parsley the other day! It was tasty), the basil refuses to sprout again... and even though my crochet hooks sit idle in the yarn basket, my mind is boiling with inspiration and new ideas.
Hopefully, once the exams are over, I'll have lots of time to update you on everything.

Meanwhile, it's study time.

Oath's mom
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