When I first started up this page, I was on maternity leave from work and was studying for my degree. I had a lot of free time on my hands.
Well, as much free time as a student mum ever has.
3 years on and I have free time on my hands again.
I’m back at work of course.
But I graduated last year and now I have my BA (Hons) in Criminology.
Then we learned what Coronavirus was. I’m sure 20 years from now it will be in the history books.
I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones that had to spend 12 weeks in doors, unable to go outside at all. To start with it was an exercise in self restraint. No shops, no fresh air, not even a trip downstairs to retrieve the post.
At 10 weeks I thought I’d finally been granted freedom.
But it wasn’t quite as free as I thought.
Over the weekend I found out that I am in the group of ‘extremely vulnerable’ individuals that has to continue shielding until August 1st.
When the first 12 weeks were introduced in March, it seemed like a lifetime.
Now we are facing month 4 and it just doesn’t seem that strange anymore.
How much can change in 6 months.
Today’s post is a short one but…I FINISHED UNI!
I’ve drunk a life times worth of coffee, attended more hospital appointments than I can count, worked night shifts and generally not slept as much as I’d like to have done, but not only have I finished uni, I did it whilst raising my beautiful baby girl. I’ve balanced my princess on one knee with my laptop on the other, I’ve read uni books on breaks at work and handed in assignments minutes before deadlines but I’VE GOT MY DEGREE!
Hard work pays off!
2 Year Update
Amelia’s birthday was the beginning of last month. It seems like she’s gone from this tiny little thing that blinks up at me to a mini person over night.
She asks questions and has things she wants to do. She sings nursery rhymes – twinkle twinkle is one of her favourites – and if you ask her what she wants for dinner she’ll answer you. Today she made her own sandwich, buttering the bread and gently placing the filling in between the slices. (I can’t take the credit for that one – she learned that with her daddy.)
She had her two year review and got 60/60 for every section. She’s doing so well both at home and nursery. She’s the sweetest child and always says please and thank you. She says sorry whenever she thinks she’s done something wrong – even to inanimate objects when she walks into them.
She’s so tall – already in age 3-4 clothes. She helps herself to snacks, even getting ice lollies out of the freezer.
Getting photos of her sitting still now is virtually impossible but Rob took a cute one of her taking our drinks this morning when we went out of breakfast so here it is:
How would you describe yourself?
A pretty common question in job interviews and dating (not that I’ve had to worry about that one).
I find the first thing that comes to mind when I have to answer that question is that I am a mother. A young mother. I’m 22 and have a 2 year old. I’ve had more than one random person make comments about this, especially as I don’t look my age, but that’s a whole other conversation.
But being a mother isn’t describing ME. I am a mum. But I’m also an adult. I like reading and cooking. I like tattoos and piercings – I have my fare share of each. I’d do a post on this but it would take me forever to write about and photograph all of them. I’ve got a degree. I’ve had some very interesting and challenging jobs. I’ve been vegetarian so long I can’t remember what bacon tastes like. I’ve kept guineapigs for nearly as long – currently we have a guinea pig called nibble. These are the real answers to ‘describe yourself’.
Being a mother doesn’t mean you cease being yourself.
(And for anyone who is wondering how the photo relates to the post – I am made up of 75% coffee)
5 Things That Would Shock 10 Year Old Me
1- You won’t always be scared of needles. In fact by the time you’re 21 you’ll have spent nearly 30 hours being tattooed. (You’ll also have more than your ears pierced, despite mum having to take you to Claire’s accessories repeatedly just to get your ear lobes done because you were too scared.)
2- You’ll not only finish school, you’ll get through college and uni too (Even if you’ve never revised a day in your life, despite your year 8 maths teacher insisting you should.)
3- You’ll end up having the cutest little girl. (She turns 2 the same year you turn 23 which is insane.)
4 – You’ll seriously regret cutting all your hair off into a bob. (And spend years growing it back only to consider cutting it all off again. Not happening no matter how much it gets in the way and gets used as a chew toy by Amelia.)
5 – You’ll actually choose to wear skirts. (Yes, your preference for trousers and tracksuit bottoms goes out the window. Not surprising once you see the brown trousers that are part of the secondary school uniform. Anything is better than those.)
In reality 10 year old me would probably be amazed by pretty much everything I’m doing now. My job, my home, my relationship, my daughter. But then at ten years old do we really know what we’re going to do when we grow up?
It seems absolutely crazy to me that we expect kids to know so early what career they want, asking them to pick GCSE subjects that are going to affect what A-levels they take which in turn affects what degrees or jobs they can get. I picked two creatives which I loved doing but they couldn’t be further from what I do for a living now.
And I bet plenty of people had some pretty interesting job aspirations at age 10. I know plenty of people I went to primary school with who wanted to be famous actresses or football players and completely changed their minds as they grew up.
I haven’t posted in a while…
It’s felt like I’ve continuously had a thousand things to do but I think as a Mum I will always have a never ending to do list so it’s a pretty poor excuse. A never ending supply of caffeine is needed and I don’t know how people who don’t like coffee survive.
I saw a post this morning on a Facebook page about a student who had to take his baby to class with him because of childcare problems and his professor helped him by wearing the baby in a chest carrier whilst he taught. I’m reasonably certain it was an American news story but the point remains – it was a lovely and very human gesture. It made me think about my own experience as a mother and a student.
I’m currently in third year at uni and I work part time whilst juggling running a household and raising my beautiful toddler – she’s nearly two where has the time gone? – and trying to remember my partner and I are adults (easier said that done when you know the theme songs to every CBeebies cartoon off by heart).
My first year personal tutor was really kind and compassionate, if a little clueless. I was pregnant from the start of first year and he apologised straight away for not knowing what to do because as a young male he had never himself experienced pregnancy or raised a baby and as a tutor had never before had a pregnant student.
But he tried his best. He arranged for me to have an unlimited number of 7 day extensions without requiring evidence and made sure I wouldn’t be chased about my attendance if I couldn’t manage to get to lectures. He filled in all the right risk assessments and offered to find a female member of staff with children when it came to questions like breast feeding and midwife appointments if it made me more comfortable. It didn’t bother me at all talking to him, but it was kind of him to offer (I think in all honesty he felt slightly out of his depth and was thinking a tutor who had had a baby would be more helpful). Amelia’s due date was around the time of my final assessments but she arrived well before that so I even managed to get all the work completed for the final dead lines. Much to my surprise I passed first year.
I went into second year with a baby the size of a newborn – she was 3 months old and around 8lbs when my new class schedule came through – and as I was breast feeding her it wasn’t easy leaving her for long periods of time. (Think loads of pumping to leave a supply of milk and continued pumping while away from her.) I was also recovering from a csection which anyone whose had one will know can take a long time. There is a reason the people who work in the costa near my house know my coffee order without asking.
Second year was not easy. They also changed my personal tutor in second year and I didn’t see this tutor once. In fact until I started third year I wasn’t even certain of my tutors name.
Add to the work/uni/baby balance that I have a rare medical condition and my whole third year experience is really not like most secondary school students would envision.
My dissertation is due in the next few months along with a list of other assignments and group presentations and honestly it’s more luck than design that I’ve managed to hand things in on time and turn up to the right lecture hall.
It’s all worth the effort though when you have this little face waiting for you when you come home.
Okay I’ll admit my blog has been mostly forgotten about the past month or two.
Between working full time, finishing second year and looking after my increasingly sassy 14 month old free time is a concept I’ve forgotten the meaning of.
Her vocabulary is coming on leaps and bounds; she now says ‘oh dear’ ‘oh no’ ‘yes’ ‘dog’ ‘dad’ ‘Mum’ ‘Nan’ and various variations of the above. She also shakes her head for no and nods for yes, although the nod uses her entire body. If you have food and she wants it she comes over and says ‘mmmm’. The little lady also runs full pelt into walls and doors, just to make life interesting.
Today is a more or less free day and Amelia has been busy making a mess. Today she has been a titchy tornado, pulling out clothes and tipping out toys at a speed I’ve given up trying to keep up with.
It was good job I had a relaxing bath and coffee to start the day because I’m now past the point of tearing my hair out. It’s like Amelia has hit the terrible twos very early.
But what else are weekends for?
Amelia and I have been so busy I haven’t had chance to post in a long time. Between work, uni exams and the little lady turning one there’s just been no time to sit down and write.
Our little baby is turning into her own person. She’s got such a caring nature and always shares her food – even if you don’t want her chewed up raisins!
She runs around everywhere scaring the life out of my mum – her Nan- on a regular basis.
It wouldn’t be a post about Amelia if it didn’t involve food. Our princess is ruled by food! I can’t identify her favourite snack because she will eat everything and anything. She loves beans at the moment and picks out the kidney beans and butter beans in her dinners first.
We let her lose at nanny’s with an ice cream the other day. Below is the aftermath!
The weather has been lovely the last few weeks and Amelia has thoroughly enjoyed spending time outside. She is particularly pale like me so sun cream is a must but seeing her little smiling face as she runs round is worth the tantrum she has when I’m trying to cover her in lotion.
We’ve made more cakes than I can include photos of – Amelia’s favourite pet is stealing a melted chocolate covered spoon and running away. Below is the latest one:
We’ve gone to soft play, to the park, to the zoo and to lots of places I’ve probably forgotten to mention.
(the featured image is off our comfy area where we spent one Saturday snuggled up with snacks and watching movies – obviously Amelia was more interested in the snack part but we tried)
I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone!
There isn’t really a specific point to this post. More just to say that it’s okay to prioritise different things for a while. And for me enjoying my time with my baby girl has been more important than writing.
The Reality of Work and a Degree with an 11 Month Old
It sounds like a real juggling act doesn’t it? Working, studying and ensuring this little human is fed and clothed at the same time? Well it sounds like it because it is.
If you look at my Instagram or my uni hand ins which are all neat and on time and the fact that I’m never late for work and always in clean uniform you’d think I’ve got it all well and truly organised. But the reality is more often than not I’m typing essays on my phone and eating a cereal bar for breakfast in the car.
If I’m having a particularly good day then by half past eight when rob gets home Amelia and I will both be dressed, have had breakfast and both our lunches will be made and in the fridge – mine to take to uni or work and hers to have while I’m gone so that her daddy knows exactly what to give her. If Amelia’s in a happy mood – which thankfully is 99% of the time – I might even have done the washing up and the laundry.
However if I’ve manage to do all that in the few short hours I’ve been awake then the chances are I haven’t turned my laptop on or even considered looking at a text book. The required reading list is all well and good until you have to work all weekend and can’t put your teething tot down to have a wee because she’s clingy and in pain.
And when my lecturer casually mentioned last week that we should all know what our dissertation question is going to be by now so that we can get started over the summer I nearly laughed out loud. The laughter gave way to concern when at least half of the other students raised their hands and began chatting out various ideas and research proposals. The concern was promptly forgotten as I walked back down the high street and remembered that Amelia had run out of her favourite snack – goodies date and banana bars – and there wasn’t enough soya left to make a cup of tea.
Don’t get me wrong I work hard on my essays and have every intention of passing uni. But for me it’s not a life style the way it is for so many students. I don’t live in a house with other students, I don’t go out clubbing – haven’t stepped foot in a club in nearly two years – and I have not spent one whole day in the library in the two years I’ve been doing my degree. The last time I read one of my text books was in my car outside our flat because Amelia had fallen asleep on the way home. Id love to sit in costa with my head phones in and type out my essays in peace but it just isn’t going to happen.
And I don’t see a problem with that. At the end of my course I’ll still have a degree, regardless of whether I completed my course work in a coffee shop or with Amelia sitting on my lap trying to grab the my phone whilst I try and type my essay up one handed on notes.
I’m getting everything done and I’d like to think that’s what really counts.
Butternut squash and potato soup
350 grams butternut squash and sweet potato (if you want to cheat a bit tesco sell a bag this size of them ready prepared)
2 garlic cloves
1 large onion
Salt and pepper
1 tsp of nutmeg
Splash of milk
2 stock cubes mixed with 500 ml of boiling water
A third of a celery stick
1. Cook the sweet potatoes and squash. I steamed mine but roasting would work fine too. They usually take about 40 minutes in the oven.
2. Dice the onion and the celery. Cut up the garlic finely or crush it.
3. Heat a little oil in the bottom of a large pan or pot. Add the onion and garlic and some salt and pepper. Add the celery. Sprinkle the nutmeg in. When the onions are mostly cooked, pour in the stock.
4. Bring to the boil and add the potatoes and squash. To make it easier to blend I mashed the vegetables up a bit with a fork.
5. Using a hand blender, blitz the vegetables and stock so it starts to thicken. (I kept the soup on the heat to do this but you can take it off if you prefer)
6. When the soup is smooth add a splash of milk to thicken. Taste to check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. If it is too thick add a bit more water.
7. Either eat immediately or cool and store in the fridge and heat up within 2 days.