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.
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