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

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Studying sucks life out of me - 10 things to survive exam periods, mom's edition

Copyright © 123RF Stock Photos
I'm in a stressful place right now, with the first exam approaching and the feelings of "I can't do this!" creeping on me. I've spent the last two hours in a downwards spiral of feeling unwell and procrastination, with some bouts of crying and lots of pacing (and not looking at my notes, which is what I should be doing). Top it off with a teething, biting baby and a Partner who is not home, and you get the picture. It's not pretty.

In an effort to get back on track and escape a nervous melt-down, I sat down and wrote a 10 things... list about things I (and any other student-mom) can do to survive the last weeks of school. 

Here's what I've come up with: 

  1. Take a shower. A hot, steamy one, to relax and let go of some tension. If this leaves you sleepy and you are brave (I am not!), finish with cold water: this will wake you up in a flash, and many swear it's really invigorating.
  2. Take a walk. Fresh air and open spaces can do wonders for a tired mind. You can even bring your little one/s with you, and it may help them too!
  3. Snack. If you are like me, stress might leave you with a tight knot in your stomach, but food is what will keep you going. Raw nuts (almonds are my favorites), a yogurt and fruit smoothie, some cookies... Give your brain a but of sugar to munch on while it works!
  4. Stop, take a deep breathe and play with your kid. Your little one needs you more than you need those minutes of study, and seeing that smile and those twinkling eyes might as well help you concentrate again.
  5. Even if it seems like a waste of time, if you need it, take a nap. I can't stress enough how much this helps me, once I get over the guilt.
  6. Along the same lines, do something completely unrelated. You are trying to memorize Rome's emperors? Try some baking. Battling with perspective and the theory of colors? Put some music and dance.
  7. If you've got more than one subject to study, mix it up. Do not try to study it all in a linear manner, specially if it something like history.
  8. Also, break it down. Thinks are easier to digest if eaten in little chunks.
  9. Tell your little one what you've just studied. A month after Oath was born I had to resit an exam, and I managed to study by making up lullabies about the most important parts and singing them to put him to sleep.
  10. Timers! You can use them in many ways: time how long it takes you to answer certain questions; let them tell you when to rest for a while (before Oath I followed a 45 minutes of studying / 15 minutes to rest routine, now it's more like 30/10th. Whatever works, but rest every now and then); use them to study in intervals... They can make it so much easier!

Whatever you do, though, do not give up. You can do it.

And you? What helps you focus when it feels like you can't? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Oath's Mom

Friday, May 10, 2013

April evaluation

April's "Ready... Steady... Clean!" project at

So, the kitchen month. It was a very short month, what with being two weeks away from home and starting studying right when I got back, but I managed to do some things. In fact, going by feeling alone, I manage to do quite a lot of things (we'll see if it's true, in the end!).

What did I do?
  • Tackle the bags drawer. Get rid of the ones that can't be reused and fold the other ones, so that they aren't trying to take over the whole kitchen. Restrain those bags, ma'am! I'm halfway through it, and I'm keeping up folding the new bags that come home, so I'll consider it mostly done.
  • Clean the cutlery drawer. It is the most organized part of the kitchen, so it might not need much more. Oops. Not done.
  • Put some kind of order in the mixer and the bowls drawers. Done. Also, I cleaned it.
  • Organize and clean the "plastic containers + mixing bowls + baking pans + everything else that fits here" big drawers. Done! As above, also cleaned.
  • Same for the tiny cutting boards and wrappers drawer. Uhh... No, not really.
  • Clean the pots and pans drawers. Done!
  • Brave the fridge! Get rid of leftovers and food past its date (if any), clean, reorganize. I had also started reorganizing, but then a big meal with friends came and Partner took over it, and now any semblance of order is gone.
  • Organize under the sink cabinet. If at all possible, replace chemicals with homemade cleaners. Not done. I managed to keep Oath very far away from it, though, does this count?
  • Buy/find some alphabet magnets Oath can play with. My mom has some in his kitchen and he loved them! Not done, I haven't found any that I liked!
  • Review the plans, see what worked and what didn't. Post. Doing it!
Well, what can I say? It certainly felt like more!

Now, I know why it is: I organized the entry shoe-rack-thingie drawer, and the one in the kitchen that's full of warranty papers that I didn't think of while doing the plan, plus the one with the stick blender, the elastics and kitchen towels, and such. I also organized half the pantry cabinets, which aren't many, but there was quite a lot of work there. And, completely unrelated, tackled Oath's room again as we gave the beds back to Partner's brother. Keeping all of this in mind, I'd say it's been quite a good month.

8.5/10 for me, for the effort!

Oath's mom

PS: And yes, as I said, I have photos... but they aren't really interesting and it does not feel like they fit. If you want to see them, though, just tell me!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Green growth

Do you remember that I planted some seeds, what, more than two months ago? After a few weeks, the pots I so much hoped would be green and pretty looked bare with just the dark dirt there.

But I had so much hope! I tried not to water them too much or not enough, keeping them where light would be plenty but the Sun wouldn't scorch them. I kept watch on the other side of the window, sending growing thoughts. And then I left to spend some days back at my mom's, and I lost hope. They would never sprout! The pots would be dry and barren forever...
I didn't even ask Partner to water them while I was gone.

But you know what? Nature had it's own plans, and when I was away Partner sent me a photo of tiny green leaves with this caption:

"Your plants are alive!"

I spent a day smiling because of it. If that isn't the stupidest thing you've heard today... but I was so happy! I don't really know why I am so tied to these plants, but they make me happy (or sad). It somehow feels like I am their mom, or something...
Anyway, back on track.

When I came back home, I ran to the window and did a little dance before taking some photos:

On the next few weeks, the parsley kept growing and growing and growing and... creating a little parsley-jungle in that pot. Today it is still going strong, and I have to fight the urges to start using it already. Just a few more weeks, and then off to the kitchen with the parsley!

This is from a month ago. Now it is huge!

But the basil...

There seems to be a curse on my basil. Or maybe it just is a really fickle plant, I don't know, but only a handful of seeds sprouted, and the little buds never grew more than half a cm (half a cm! that's tiny!) before wilting and drying up. I don't know why it is dying, and Google does not help: too much water? not enough? too much light? is the sun burning them? is it too cold outside?

But I am not giving up, oh no (and even less now that I have tomatoes, too! Basil and tomatoes -and mozzarella- go so well together...). Last week I planted some basil seeds again, and if they go wrong too I'll take the pot inside and try yet again. One thing at a time.

Oath's Mom

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6th Menu plan

Hello, hello! I'm back on track.
Partner is not dieting this week, and Oath is already eating mostly what we do, so no need to do a different menu plan for each of us. You can't imagine how happy this makes me.

For all of us (yay!):

  • Lunch: Fusilli salad
  • Dinner: Puff-pastry roll
  • Lunch: Chicken fajitas
  • Dinner: Fish with caramelized onions
  • Lunch: Vegetable soup
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms
  • Lunch: Pasta with tuna
  • Dinner: Homemade pizza
  • Lunch: Fried rice.
  • Dinner: Mixed berry muffins with chocolate milk.
  • Lunch: Lunch with the in-laws.
  • Dinner: Pork ribs with garlic, parsley and white vine.
  • Lunch: Pasta with bacon and cream.
  • Dinner: Ramen or Leftovers, if any.

Possible breakfasts in no particular order

Oath's Mom

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mother's Day

The first Sunday of May it's mother's day around here. 

TV lottery adds remind us constantly from the middle of April onward, so you have to be really out of the loop to miss it. And, thankfully, Oath (or Partner, to be precise) didn't forget about it. I never thought I'd care about it, just the way I do not about my birthday, but I have to admit that I was so happy when Partner gave me the gift that it was ridiculous. I blame being far from my own family and friends, my "tribe".

So when yesterday Partner got home and handed me this, I was overjoyed:

A cherry tomato plant! Yay!!

Now, I do not like tomatos of any kind. They just do not taste right to me, and the textures are all weird and stuff. But I do not want Oath to dislike them just because I do, so I have to offer some to him. And what better to grow them myself, now that I'm starting a small windowsill garden and I am having so much fun with soil and seeds, pots and plants?
It's a gift that will keep on giving, to me and my family, and I love it.

To top it all off, Oath and I have gone for a walk at sunset: it was pretty warm (not wearing a coat felt so nice!) and the light was clear and golden, which made for some great photos. I couldn't resist taking one of our shadows, now that my little boy is about to start walking.

Mom, Oath and the stroller

It's been a lovely day.

So, happy mother's day to all the mommas, I hope your day has been good too!

Oath's Mom

Friday, May 3, 2013

May plan

I'm going a bit out of order here, as I haven't done my kitchen month evaluation yet, but I hope you'll forgive me. I'll tell you, though, that I'm quite sure I succeeded, and that there's some photos this time (not amazing photos, mind you: my pots and pans drawer isn't a beauty...)!
In this new Ready, steady, clean! 2013 plan installment I am supposed to tackle the master bedroom (which is, to be honest, the only real bedroom as of now). I've been itching to put away the winter clothes and get out the summer ones, but have been postponing it until this month, so I am so glad it is May already!
But it doesn't matter how much do I want to do this month's tasks, because I am in exam mode. This goes two ways, so who know how it all will end up: on one hand, I must study because I have my priorities straight (right?); on the other, the only think that makes me want to clean more than anything in the world is studying (procrastination at it's best! In fact, I should be studying now... and what am I doing? Talking about cleaning. So predictable!). If I manage to follow this month plan, prepare Oath's birthday (one year already! My, time sure flies by!) and pass all my exams, I'm going pass out of happiness.

So, back on track.

The facts:

  • My clothes need organizing. Badly. Specially because I no longer need five polar fleece jackets, and some more short sleeved T-shirts would be great to have on hand.
  • Partner's clothes are a mess, too!
  • But this month is full of things that need to be done: studies, birthday parties...

The plan:
  • First things first: season clothes switcharoo.
  • Organize my clothes.
  • Organize Partner's clothes (after all, I am the one who puts them away after folding, so I might as well know where should everything go!). I'll need his assistance on this one, so he knows where everything is, too.
  • That bit on the top of our small closet? Linens go there, and if I can organize them by bed-size, even better.
  • Towels should be rolled up and stacked at the bottom right, for easy access.
  • Organize under-the-bed storage.
  • Clean outside the window! I always forget this one, and then wonder why it doesn't look as clean as I know it should...
  • Review the plans, see what worked and what didn't. Post. 
I already did some things (like re-arranging the shelves and clearing the top of the dresser) before this month started, so it should be easy.

Wish me luck!

Oath's mom

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What I have been up to lately this:

Those tiny pajama-clad legs? Imagine them kicking: now mom's chin, now the box, now mom's chin, now the box...

No, not drawing (which I have also done, to get my mind away from everything for a while, and inspired by the lovely Naranjas y Zapatos blog. They're way better than mine, those drawings!). Studying. A lot. With a kid clinging to my leg/arm/head/boob (separation anxiety, anyone?) and books and piles of notes propped on a discarded box turned into a provisional desk. Because flat surfaces? In our home? There's none. It's clutterland around here.

But I'll be back as soon as I find a way to make routine, studies and blog work together!

 Oath's Mom

 PS. In case you noticed, I know I misspelled some names (specially Leonidas'). It bugs me a lot, but I did not have the time or strength to change it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15th Menu Plan + Baby menu plan!

It's been nearly a month since the last time I menu planned, which means I am really out of shape doing it now!
Back to basics, as I always do when I am feeling stressed (which is too often, sadly).

For me (and, sometimes, Partner):

  • Lunch: Onion soup chicken drums
  • Dinner: Puff-pastry roll
  • Lunch: Chicken strogonoff + rice
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms
  • Lunch: Broccoli and cauliflower with white sauce
  • Dinner: Hake fillets with caramelized onions
  • Lunch: Ground beef fajitas
  • Dinner: Homemade pizza
  • Lunch: Pasta with tuna.
  • Dinner: Roasted peppers and eggplant salad with tuna.
  • Lunch: Vegetable soup (zucchini, carrots, onion, cabbage and potato)
  • Dinner: Fried rice with shrimps.
  • Lunch: Pasta with bacon and cream.
  • Dinner: Ramen or Leftovers, if any.

Possible breakfasts in no particular order

For Oath (baby menu plan):

  • Mid-morning: Baked apple.
  • Lunch: Chicken pieces and bread crust.
  • Mid-afternoon: Baked apple, again.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Chicken, onion and carrot soup with rice.
  • Mid-afternoon: Pear.
  • Mid-morning: Orange
  • Lunch: Steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Mid-afternoon: Hake.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Beef, peppers, carrot, onion. Cut in small bits.
  • Mid-afternoon: Apple.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Pizza.
  • Mid-afternoon: Pear.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Vegetable soup, without salt.
  • Mid-afternoon: Banana.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Fish, peas and zucchini, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Baked apple.

Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday and at Erin Branscom's Menu Monday!

Oath's Mom

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April Plan

April's "Ready... Steady... Clean!" project at

Nearly half a month late, my Ready, steady, clean! 2013 plan comes again. This time I have an excuse, as I've been out of home until some years ago, but this is not excuse enough to completely give up. Oh, no: if I've learned one thing from having a child is that giving up is not an option. So there we go!

April is the kitchen month. I've been looking forward to it, because there are so many things that can be done! So many cabinets in need of a serious organizations, and so many drawers that can turn into quick and satisfying projects.
Now, I can fail very easily: less than 20 days to do it, with my exams coming up on May... it will be easy to get distracted from this plan. But now that I enjoy being in the kitchen, that I can bake again, I want it done. So it means I'll have to do it.

The facts:
  • Even though some years ago I wouldn't have believed it, I love being in the kitchen: cooking, baking, snacking...
  • A little organization would make my cook like easier...
  • there is hardly any organization right now!

The plan:
  • Tackle the bags drawer. Get rid of the ones that can't be reused and fold the other ones, so that they aren't trying to take over the whole kitchen. Restrain those bags, ma'am!
  • Clean the cutlery drawer. It is the most organized part of the kitchen, so it might not need much more.
  • Put some kind of order in the mixer and the bowls drawers.
  • Organize and clean the plastic containers + mixing bowls + baking pans + everything else that fits here big drawers.
  • Same for the tiny cutting boards and wrappers drawer.
  • Clean the pots and pans drawers.
  • Brave the fridge! Get rid of leftovers and food past its date (if any), clean, reorganize.
  • Organize under the sink cabinet. If at all possible, replace chemicals with homemade cleaners.
  • Buy/find some alphabet magnets Oath can play with. My mom has some in his kitchen and he loved them!
  • Review the plans, see what worked and what didn't. Post. 
I know it isn't much, but I think it is enough to make a difference (while still being manageable). I'm letting all the pantry cabinets alone for now, and the dishes and glasses ones too, as we (somehow) manage to keep them pretty nice.

Wish me luck!

Oath's mom

Friday, April 12, 2013

March evaluation

March's "Ready... Steady... Clean!" evaluation at

Now that I am back home, as I told you yesterday, it is time for last month's evaluation. It is late, you say? Very late indeed, but life was busy and time was short, so it had to wait.

On to the evaluation, then!

This was the living room month, and it was scary, both before starting and during. And now that's it's finished, even, I must say. It was well timed because this month Oath has turned fully mobile, and even though he's not actually walking yet, he just does not stop trying. Even if I hadn't planned to baby-proof the living room this month, I would have had to!

But, apart from that, what else did I do?

  • Organize the cabinet. Done!
  • Organize the table end where our printer, modem and some office supplies live. Not done, at all! My excuse? Partner has been working a lot on this space, and it was in constant use (lame excuse, I know, I know).
  • Get rid of the random stuff behind the big couch, so the mat can be properly stored there when not in use. Partially done. Even though the mat can be stored there now without any problem... I must admit I haven't thrown away or relocated what was (and is) behind the couch. Why? I have nowhere to put it and I do not dare to trash it!
  • Organize the small shelves and my university items (bags, books, odds and ends) corner. Done! Not that it isn't falling into disarray again...
  • Move the small sofa and rescue all the toys that rolled beneath it. I'm sure there will be a handful waiting patiently to be found! Done! Curiously, there weren't as many toys as I thought there would be... but let's not talk about the dust bunnies.
  • Turn the wine shelves into toy shelves. Move the wine into the bar-cabinet or down into the storage room. We don't drink wine, anyway, so we do not need it here. Partially done. They are now wine and toy shelves (wine on top, far away from little hands reach; toys on bottom, where Oath can go and help himself)
  • Organize the TV thingie, being careful not to leave anything dangerous within Oath's reach. Partially done, I suppose? No organization here, but relocation of several non-baby-safe items happened.
  • Empty the chair corner and put the chair back on its spot by the table. Done. Except for moving the chair back to where it belongs. I must get up and do it now.
    • Then, buy the extra chairs we need and move the mismatched ones to the storage room.
  • Baby-proof everything! Drawers, corners, sockets... We've already started on this one, so I am one step ahead. Yay! Done!
  • Take care of the plants. Get rid of the dead ones, replant some, clean the ledge... Done! I posted about part of it here, and will post more soon!
  • Review the plans, see what worked and what didn't. Post. Doing it!

It feels like I did less that I should have and, to be honest, I think the feeling is closer to the truth than the list is. While writing the list I was thinking I had actually done something but... no. It's not true. The days I spent with my family were many, and very nice, but they didn't help me get all of this accomplished.
I'll give myself a 5/10, right on the border of pass and fail. I hope April is better, though it hasn't been off to a good start either!

What did you this month?

Oath's mom


Oath and I are back home, tired but alive. He loves being back with his daddy, and can't stop smiling every time Partner walks in through the door.

I have many things to share with you, including my March Plan evaluation, my April Plan, an update about the pots I planted, a 365 project update, some more 10 things... posts... But not now.

It's past midnight, Oath has just fallen asleep (sleep is becoming a struggle in this household) and I am tired, aching (my arms! my back! All the mommy pains!) and have an open book about History waiting for me, reminding me that there's less than a month left until the exam.

I've missed this little corner of my in the web.

How have you all been?

Oath's mom

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I feel like my life is going at full speed these days.

I don't know what it is about being here, in my little island, that makes me feel like this, but I both love it and dread it. Days go by in a haze and I never have time to do anything, but yet, somehow, they feel like childhood summer days, both eternally long and gone in a second. I visit family and old friends, and just when I think I'll have some days to relax and stay home enjoying the sun and warmth... it's time to pack my things again and take a flight. But I miss Partner, and Oath does too, and I'm not sure I could manage to stay longer.
It is a strange mix of feelings, to be honest.

All of this, coupled with the fact that I do not have my own computer with me, have kept me away from the blog. This and Instagram, as I said in my last post... but now my Instagram app died on my and blew up my hopes of doing a 365 project. 3 days in and I failed. Again. I have taken the pictures, though, so maybe I manage to revive the app and make up for it.

For now, know that I'm alive, chugging along in the kind of alternate reality that is being far from home.

Oath's mom

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A new addiction - 365

I'm posting from my new phone.

A phone that, as the title might help you guess, has me addicted. The possibilities! So many games and apps! I resisted for as long as I could because I knew this could happen, but now that I've given in I might as well embrace it.

The app I love the most? No, not Angry Birds, curiously.

Instagram. (Yes, I know I am late to the party.)

I'm having a blast with it, and it has given me the tools to start (yet again) a 365 project (remember my 2013 goals? I hardly didn't!), this time with chances to finish. Do you want to see if I manage? I'm "oathsmom" there.

And now I should go back go playing with my new technologic toy!

PS: Happy Easter Holidays and Spring Break to everybody! I hope you are having an amazing time with your families... I know I am, with mine!

Oath's Mom

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Traveling alone with a baby: 10 things to make it easier

I'll be honest: traveling with a baby is harder than traveling without. When there's two (or more!) adults, things are bearable, but when there's only one? Then things get real. I can't imagine how it'd be to travel one adult with more than one baby... or a baby and a toddler. But that's not what I know about, so lets get back to the one adult-one baby traveling, shall we?

As you know, I am able to visit my family often (and they are coming to see Oath quite often, too, so I've seen them a lot this past year! This is strange, but nice). Oath is getting to know them despite living so far away, and I am really happy for it. I know I am blessed to be able to do it, though, as not every parent who lives far from home can, so I take every opportunity to go now. Nobody knows when things are going to change, right? 
Partner, on the other hand, can't come with us every time. Because, thankfully, he has a job to keep: a job that pays, and that pay feeds us. And food always goes first (well, not really, but you know what I mean).

This means that I and Oath travel alone. Since we cross the security check one one airport until we get out of the door of the other airport, we're on our own. One (petite and skinny) girl and her (stubborn and vocal) little boy.

I arrive exhausted, but I've been learning some tricks that make it easier for everyone (Oath, me, the other passengers...):

  1. Dress to walk, not to impress. This one is quite obvious, but I've seen some people at the airport that just make me wonder what they're there for. No stiletto heels, tight mini skirts, clothes too big they threaten to fall down... Tennis shoes, jeans and a polar fleece jacket (it can get chilly on the plane!) are my go-to clothes for traveling: simple and comfortable.
  2. Dress the baby in easy to change clothes, too. Chances are there won't be any messy accidents, but if there are you'll be glad you didn't dress her in that cute dress that's so hard to button, or those jeans that fit him so well that they do not come out easily.
  3. The less luggage, the better. Both checked-in and cabin. You'll probably have to carry a child most of the time, there's no need to burden yourself with even more weight!
  4. Backpacks are your friends. I put everything I'll need in a backpack, and this way my two hands are always free. Or they would be if I didn't have a baby!
  5. Put one change of clothing for the baby on the backpack... and one for you! There's no need to have some extra jeans in there, but a t-shirt is always welcome when that burp was a bit more than just a burp (it happens to the best of us, right?).
  6. Forget the pram, use a baby carrier. If possible, a wrap, because they have no metal in them and so you can pass through the control arc with your baby strapped on you. I wouldn't trust a ring sling or another kind of carrier to not set the alarms off, but I believe that it is much easier to navigate through an airport with as few things as possible... and a pram is a pretty big thing! (also, I know I wouldn't be able to fold it to pass it through the X-rays... and there's so many people there I can't trust there'll be a security guard to help me!)
  7. Bring some snacks for you and for baby if you are weaning. There's nothing that upset Oath more than having to wait in line at a cafe for me to get a sub or any other food, I don't know why. I try to bring some dry snacks (nuts, crackers, a sandwich...) and this way I can buy a bottle of water from vending machines (which Oath has nothing against).
  8. Bring one special toy. I have one that Oath only plays with while we're traveling. He loves it, and never gets bored of it because it's always new to him. Something small, that you can pop easily in your bag, it's best (ours is a rattle, and while I am sure some other passengers do not like me much because of it, I know they would like us less if Oath started his "I am bored, I want to go somewhere!" screaming!)
  9. Go with extra time, always. If you think you need one hour, plan for one and a half, and then add some. You'll end up waiting because you've been early, but that's much better than having to run because you are too late!
  10. And, last but not least, do not be ashamed to ask for help. This can be hard for some of us: if you are like me, you feel that if you have to ask for help you are a failure as a mom. But no, you are not. You just know your limits. Getting your backpack from the overhead storage can be tricky with a baby in your arms or in a carrier, and so can be many other things. If you need help, ask for it. There'll be many people glad to help you!
  11. And a bonus one: feed your baby at take-off and landing. It'll help with ear pain and, with a bit of luck, he'll fall asleep after and will sleep through part of the flight!
I have many more, but most of them might not work for other people: for instance, I always dress him with his cow socks, so when he kicks the bells in the cow heads jingle and he gets amused; or I let him have a pacifier, even though he does not use it, because he likes to chew it and play with it (it's like and extra special toy!) and it is hard to loose, what with being clasped to his clothes.

Any of you travel with babies often, too? What are your tips and tricks?

Oath's mom

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Spring is here!

A little, sleepy-looking, flower.
The other day we went to my in-law's and the weather was just gorgeous. The air was a crisp and clean, and a few lazy clouds were here and there. It was late afternoon, so the Sun was starting to get low and the sky was turning an amazing array of golden, orange and yellow hues. I tried to capture it but, as it always happens when I try to take wide, landscape shots, the camera did the world no justice. There's only one that captures mildly what it looked like:

Warm, peachy light.

But oh, was the light gorgeous for taking photos of any other thing! It was, indeed, the "golden hour", which it's seldom seen in winter around here (cloudy skies do not make for good golden hours). But it is spring now, so it should happen more often!
I took some pretty good shots of my nephew that will soon be printed and gifted to my brother in law and his wife. He's blond, and the few locks of hair you could see under the jacket hood turned out so shiny and golden! I would have loved to photograph Oath, too, but he was exhausted after a crawling marathon and was taking a nap. 
Instead, when the nephew got tired of me and my camera, I settled for taking photos of the dogs (who weren't keen on posing, either, so none turned out post-worthy, even if the colors and light were great) and plants.

Don't you love the little hearts?
Pity of the plant photobomb, because this green is the stuff Spring is made of!

I am in love with green, right now. I missed it so much that I was craving it, and now it's popping everywhere!

Happy Spring to you all, I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.

Oath's Mom

Monday, March 18, 2013

A gift for Partner

Today is Father's day around here. 

And, somehow, I remembered! (I have a foggy brain lately, but this I managed to not forget. Maybe I should thank my planner!)

It's scary, though, because I am not a good gifter. Sometimes I am just spot on and give the best gift in the world, and others... others it would have been better to just pretend I'd forgotten. It's that bad.
But as I had two bad gifting days this year (already!) towards Partner, I wanted to put a big effort in today's. It took lots of thinking, but I think that I found something that he'll like.

So, what have I prepared?

First, skipping his diet. I know it doesn't sound like a nice thing to do, but he needs some diet-free days (as everybody does), and what better that using them to celebrate something? Also, this way I can bake something for him (rainbow muffins!) and cook some of his favorite foods (homemade pizza!) before I forget how to do it. And I also promised a microwave mug-cake to him for breakfast. So there's my reason.

And then, this...:

Cthulhu f'thagn!
Look what it says!
(At first I was going to use this pattern from Cthulhu Crochet... but then I started changing it so much that I ended up not following it at all. But hey, I'm giving credit where credit is due, and it sparked my crafting, so there!)

...and this matching card, that Oath and I did together:

Oath played along with my crafty intentions until I pressed his hand onto the paper... I had to do the rest alone.
Ain't he a cute little fella?

The explanation? Partner likes Lovecraft, and Cthulhu is (in my opinion) quite a charming fellow. I've been crocheting Tiny Cthulhus for friends, and he asked for one some time ago... but I decided to go one step further and make a special (and not so tiny!) one for him.
I specially like the arcane symbol in place of the heart (on the amigurumi) and of the "A" in the word Father (on the card). That makes up for the words being completely off-center on both places.

Fingers crossed he'll like it too!

Oath's mom

March 18th Menu Plan + Baby Menu Plan

Another week is beginning, and we need a new menu plan. Last week I managed to follow it nearly every day, no scrambling without seemingly nothing to eat. I've had some tasty breakfasts, too! I never thought I would like to have breakfast (for many years, my body rejected any food that came my way the first three hours after waking up) but now it does not feel right to skip it. Everything changes, I guess.

What also changed is that we've borrowed a Babycook (today!) and now I feel the need to use it. Weaning Oath has been a difficult and emotional journey for me, but now that he does not shut his mouth tight at the first sight of a spoon and seems to be enjoying it, I think I should let go of the fear of him becoming less mine (does that make sense?) by eating solids. So, time to use the Babycook to make steaming and pureeing (if need be) easier. But I am short on ideas, so I'll add it to the menu plan. We'll see how that goes.

For me (and, sometimes, Partner):

  • Lunch: Chicken fajita mix
  • Dinner: Fish with caramelized onions.
Tuesday (Father's Day!)
  • Lunch: Baked potatoes with seafood, bacon and salad.
  • Dinner: Pizza.
  • Lunch: Spaghetti al pesto
  • Dinner: Hamburgers with salad
  • Lunch: Steamed broccoli and cauliflower, Caesar dressing and shrimps.
  • Dinner: Chicken strogonoff
  • Lunch: Rice "a la cubana"
  • Dinner: Puff-pastry roll
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Ribs with chimichurri or Soup

Possible breakfasts in no particular order

  • Yoghurt with diced fruit
  • Chocolate milk with cookies
  • Puff pastry roll leftovers

For Oath (baby menu plan):

  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Chicken, onion, carrot and red and green pepper, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Steamed pear and apple, mashed.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Fish, peas and lettuce, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Mashed banana with orange juice.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Beef, potato and carrot, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Steamed apple and banana, mashed.
  • Mid-morning: Rice with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Chicken, broccoli and cauliflower, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Pear with breastmilk, pureed.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Beef, pumpkin, onion and carrot, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Banana, by pieces.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Chicken, onion, carrot and red and green pepper, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Baked apple with orange juice, pureed.
  • Mid-morning: Rice with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Fish, peas and lettuce, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Apple, by pieces.

Woah, planning such amount of things is hard on my poor brain! But it's over for a week now... whew!

Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday and at Erin Branscom's Menu Monday!

Oath's Mom

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 activities you can do with your baby

So, you are a motivated parent that want to help your baby learn... but you don't really know how. That little being is so little! There are many doubts that can come to your mind, but the most usual one is a literal "What can I do?". This is not a school aged kid that you can teach the science behind baking some muffins, nor a toddler who you can play ball with. No maths, no reading, no running or walking or even crawling (some rolling, maybe), no talking. What can you do, educationally talking, with a kid that age? There doesn't look like there's much, does it?

But the truth is that train of thought is wrong. 

You can do everything. With minds that young, everything is an educational experience. Breathing, eating, listening, watching... all those things they've never experienced before are things your baby learns from. It will never be so easy to plan an educative activity for your little one.

Want some ideas?

  1. Give her different foods to eat. Even something so simple as a sip of water can be mindblowing for a newborn and, lets be honest, we're probably talking more about 6 months olds than newborns here, so no need to stick only to water. Of course, follow always your doctor's advice, but some drops of clear, pure water (boiled or bottled, so there are no nasty bugs at all) won't do any harm.
  2. Help him smell flowers, herbs, a perfume... No need to go all fancy here either: when you are cooking pass the oregano close to his nose, let him smell a rose when you come close to one, wear a soft perfume while cuddling him... anything will do. If you want to plan it a bit more, search contrasting smells: minty, sweet, flowery, spicy, soft and strong, good and bad: you can let him smell a clove of garlic first and then a lavender sachet, and see if he reacts differently.
  3. Tickles! Soft feathery tickles for the younger ones, closer to a massage than anything else; giggle inducing tickles for an older baby. Kiss the palms of her hands, gently scratch the soles of his feet, pass a lock of your hair through her face. Oath loves it when I try to eat his chin!
  4. Sing songs, and not only nursery rhymes: your favorite song, some mindless humming, a childhood favorite... the more varied the better. Sing some loud and others whispering, some more monotonous and others in full tune. And do not be afraid to get it wrong! Your baby loves your voice and it's different inflections, and doesn't care if you miss a note or got the words wrong.
  5. While we're talking about music, we shouldn't forget dancing. Dance in front of your baby, so he can see you, and dance with your baby. Different tunes, so he gets to experience the simpler rhythm of a vals and the not so rhythmic bouncing around you do when you're just being silly.
  6. Show her some simple colorful figures or things. A red ball, a yellow flower, a striped jacket... look for bold colors in big blocks at first (red, black and white are a good starting point) and get her attention to subtler things when she's older. Extra points if you tell her out loud what she's looking at (lots of "Look! There's a lamplight down there, Oath, isn't it pretty? And the green of all those leaves makes you happy, doesn't it?" have been heard a lot around here while looking through the window)
  7. Sensory books are a whole world worth's experiencing. You get the whole package with many of them: colors, shapes, sounds, textures... even smells! And a book is a great toy to get your baby used to.
  8. Lap games, as in games you play with the baby sitting (or laying) on your lap. Bouncing him up and down are the most common ones, but there are many others, popular in different countries. The one Oath loves more is to grab my hands, lean close to my face and then throw himself back until he's upside down, giggling.
  9. And, of course, reading! We covered that in another post, already, so you can go here for more details.
  10. Last but not least, a complete sensory experience that many kids love: bathtime. The warm water, the trickling sounds, splashing, soap bubbles and soap smell... and all the cute toys you can toss in the bathtub to play with!

Those are only 10 of the many that have come to my mind today. I'm sure you can find many more that you are already doing with your little one! Remember, anything can be a learning experience for them, so do not be afraid to show them new things!

 Oath's mom

Friday, March 15, 2013

Snap! went the hook

Last Wednesday was a strange day, both good (very good!) and bad (ugh-worthy bad). So many things happened on both categories, that I don't know what to consider the day itself, as a whole. Was it a good day? Uhmm... A bad day? Ehhh... Crochet-wise, though, it was mostly a bad-bad day.


For some days, I had been working on a handful of granny squares (my first granny squares!) and I was pretty excited about them and, specially, what I was going to do with them. Here, have a look:

I grew rather fond of the curly corners.

Love the color combo, inspired by my daily planner bookmark.

Already in it's place... or not?

Every day before bed there was a bit of crochet, to unwind and relax. It was good. And I had gotten to the point where I could start joining them! The joy, the excitement! So, Wednesday morning, I did. They are meant to be two identical things, each made of 6 single granny squares, so I joined 6 of them into something... that turned out to be too big. Like twice as big as it should. Ugh. It would not work at all. Bad crochet, bad (or, rather, bad sizing skills, OM, bad!)

Even though can't really see it here...
...I could fit both feet in one!

Then we went out to do some errands (although the first, and probably only and last, snow of the season covered a good three inches everywhere. That was the best bit of the day!) and when we got back home I was so tired that I decided the cleaning should wait, and I might as well finish the granny squares and see what could be done to size the slippers down. I hadn't even finished one round when, suddenly, SNAP! My hook broke in half.

Snappity snap!

True, it wasn't a good hook (it was very cheap) but really? Hrrmf. Now I've been forced to continue working on the squares (because damn if I'll give up!) with the smallest part of the hook, because it doesn't want to be glued together again and I do not dare use a bigger hook in my efforts to size them down.


This probably means I should invest in better (colorful!) new hooks.

Have you ever had a hook broke on you in the middle of a project?

Oath's mom

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"A" is for...

...daily planner!

It doesn't make much sense, does it? I've always called my daily planner (when I had one, that is), my agenda. And, of course, the fact that my name starts with "A" (which is what actually makes sense, isn't it?) also matters. You'll soon see why.

This year I had bought a cheap, boring daily planner. I wasn't using it much, but I found the need to use it grew as the days passed:

 When is Oath's next doctor appointment? I know I called a few days ago to check but now I can't remember...

 Oh, so you told me you wouldn't me coming for dinner today? I must have forgotten...

 If I just had a planner! Wait... I do, don't I?

These (or a variation of them) happened once too much and I decided I needed to start using the cheap, boring, not-so-pretty daily planner. What could I do to make me want to use it more?


Does the "A" make sense now?
I loved this color combination, even though I thought I wouldn't.

Two bookmarks.

Now, the execution isn't perfect, nothing near the perfect idea I had. The rainbow seven-strand braid I wanted to do as a bookmark was too chunky and I had to make two bookmarks, a regular and a four-strand braid... and now I don't know what to use one of them for (woe is me!). I didn't sew it all that well and it does not lay as nicely as it could...

But I love it.

I smile every time I look at it, and it's not only because rainbow-y colors make me happy. It is because for the first time in a (way too) long time, I've done something for me. I have believed that the effort to make me happy (even with something so simple as turning a boring "agenda" into a pretty one) was worth it.

Now if I could only find what to use the second marker for...

Oath's mom
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