Stolen Moments

I wrote this post on my phone last week and then completely forgot to upload it. As I snuggle on the sofa with Charles right now, whilst Harry plays on the floor, it seems really appropriate to publish it.

Being a mummy to two boys can be very busy. Can be? I mean, is always very busy.
Days of relaxing on the sofa are long gone and are replaced with chasing the boys around the house, making them drinks, food, trips to the toilet, nappy changes, tidying the house and doing washing as and when I can.
The only time I sit down is when feeding Harry, (or if I'm on the toilet!), I don't even sit down to eat my lunch!

Quality time with the boys together is easy, but one on one is hard. Although I have time to myself with Harry in the afternoon it is spent clock watching. I'm hoping that after Christmas I can give myself a kick up the bottom and actually DO something and GO somewhere during this time. So far the most we have done is a couple of shopping trips to a neighbouring town, but still I'm constantly clock watching.

Harry rarely naps so one on one time with Charles is almost unheard of.
I have to steal moments whenever I can. Like sending Harry to bed first so I get an extra 15 minutes with Charles. On a Monday I leave Harry with my husband whilst I take Charles to school and those 5 or 10 minutes alone is amazing.

I sometimes hope for him to have a restless night, just so I can go into his room and read him a story, talk about things we've done in the past (like holidays, days out and similar), and to give him a "tickle back". Although this time is only successfully lovely if Harry remains asleep throughout.

This morning I decided to give Charles a shower, he needed a hair wash too, so I sent Harry downstairs and had a lovely 30 minutes with Charles. We laughed, he cried (hates having his hair washed, which isn't helped when he applies shower gel to his washed hair rather than to his body, hense then needing another hair wash!)
As he got out of the shower he grabbed his underwear and a jumper and came and asked if I would dry his hair. I had planned to let it dry naturally but took the opportunity to steal a little bit more time with him.

As we finished he went downstairs and I headed for a shower. He called up to me "I love you mummy".
It was almost like he appreciated that stolen moment as much as I did.


Sky News and Me

When I woke up on Thursday morning I was in a real down mood. Weeks of broken sleep and poorly boys in some form had got to me, and as a result sent me into an emotional, anxious mess.
It was also the morning I was to meet my new therapist. My fourth therapist in a year, so understandably I was feeling anxious about this too and ready to be let down.
As it turns out, the therapy session was really positive, something I'll write about separately, and once I left my appointment I parked up for a bit to catch my breath, listening to my Ellie Goulding album which is always sure to put me in a good mood.
And then I went home.

My husband had a meeting in the city so wasn't going to be home until around 1.30/2. My mum had been looking after the boys for me but left for work at 12.
I was feeding Harry and noticed a Twitter notification on my phone.
A few dms and a telephone call later and I was scheduled to be interviewed by Stephen Dixon the very next morning. A cameraman was due to arrive at my house at around 8am and I would go LIVE on Sky News at 8:40am. I would be talking about my birth experience with Harry and about the campaign to introduce screening for Vasa Praevia at the 20 week scan.

My mum was shocked and told me to really think about it first.
But I couldn't. I had to say yes.
When I was 15 I had my school work experience working with adults with head injuries and brain damage.
I loved it so much that I volunteered in school holidays and whenever else possible.
My A Levels then got in the way and I had to give it up but the feeling of giving up my time to help people, or sharing my time I should say, was amazing.

I'm never going to run a marathon.
I'm never going to jump out of a plane.
But I could go onto national news and talk about this campaign, this condition and my experience.

I didn't feel too nervous. I guess part of me thought they wouldn't turn up, or that they would drop me in favour of someone else.
But at 8am the Satellite Truck arrived.
This was happening.

I had a phone call with a lady at Sky News, running through what we would be talking about, whilst the cameraman set up.

The cameraman was amazing. Such a lovely guy and really put me at ease.
If I'm honest, I was quite looking forward to wearing an ear piece and pretending to be Holly Willoughby for a while.
I was an A Level Media student, and for our GCSE coursework was the Floor Manager for our Christmas school broadcast so this all fascinated me.

With my earpiece in and a microphone clipped on I sat on the sofa, camera in front of me.
Then I heard a voice;
"Hi Lauren. Can you hear me?"
"yes I can"
It was a very weird experience. Especially to think that there were people in London who could see me, just sitting in my lounge, yet I couldn't see them.

I then became nervous.
I was shaking.
I find writing about Vasa Praevia and Harry's birth quite easy, it doesn't matter if I cry, no one can see me. But this was a different level. I was talking about it, to a lot of people.
3 people(ish) spoke to me through the ear piece, and then I heard the item my interview would be coming off the back of.
The piece was about Henry Samat, a baby boy who lost his life due to undiagnosed Vasa Praevia.
My eyes filled with tears and I told the cameraman that I couldn't listen to this, he told me there was no way of switching it off so I distracted myself and then heard the words:
"Here you go Lauren....."
I was on.
Looking at the camera was hard, when talking to people I don't always look them in the eyes, or look at them at all, I look around, I don't know why. Nervousness maybe? Or just habit?
But it's weird looking in a camera. It felt a little, well, silly.
I didn't know whether or not to smile, I tried to relax but then didn't want to look like I had rubbish posture and didn't know what to do with my hands.

I felt like I stumbled over my words quite alot, I wasn't sure how much detail to go into or how long I had to talk, so I kept it brief, whilst trying to give as much information about our experience as possible.
There was also a delay so when I stopped talking, there would be 2 or 3 seconds until I then heard Stephen reply.

As we came to the end Stephen asked after Harry and stupidly I responded
"He's really well, although he's not very well at the moment"
I really hope that people know that I meant that he is doing really well development wise and so on but is poorly. I felt really silly after watching it back.
I also asked my husband to go and get him, we had wanted him on  my lap or in the same room but he was too unsettled and as soon as I sat down with him he stuck his hand down my top. Although, one thing I am yet to do is breastfeed on National TV so it's a shame I couldn't add that to my list.

Once the interview finished I burst into tears. The feeling was overwhelming and I felt maybe I had let down the whole campaign by not saying the right thing.
Then in my ear I heard a voice saying I had done really well.
Although we were now off air London could still see me.
And hear me.
How very embarrasing.

I was then asked to do a few prerecorded bits, I think I messed these up so much that they weren't shown but still it was a cool experience.

Am I glad I did it?
Would I do it again?
Would I recommend it?

The Sky team were absolutely amazing and I've felt so well looked after by having tweets and emails from the team to thank me.
Without their support before, during and after the interview I probably wouldn't have done it.

The odd thing was that it only hit me that night that I had been on Sky News.
We watch Sky News everyday.
And not only that, my family in Somerset saw me.
And my lovely internet friends saw me.
And my beautiful friend Sarah recorded the show so she could see me.

I can't believe how completely supportive and amazing my internet friends were and seeing their tweets and messages after the piece made me feel on top of the world.

My real life friends didn't bother to watch. But that's fine.

I know that my piece and my tweets following meant at least 3 people then went on to Google the condition and although 3 isn't many, it's still an achievement.

If you saw it, or look at the photos, I promise I'm not really as grumpy as I looked.



Crashing into a Wall

Sometimes things can really get on top of you. You feel like life is going at a much greater speed than you can handle, you can't keep up but in an odd way you seem to be about to smash into a brick wall. You have no control.
The wall is just coming, and coming, closer and closer.
And at some point you are going to just smash right into it.

The results of the crash are just as daunting as the crash itself.

No one else seems to see you going at this speed.
In fact it hardly seems like anyone see's you at all.

Will they even notice when you do crash?
Maybe that's the other scary thing, they may not notice.

And then you are even more alone that before.


Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes {Recipe}

One thing that's exciting for most of us at Christmas is the food. I've said before that I'm not a HUGE chocolate fan, I prefer sweets or crisps, but Christmas I tend to indulge a little more than usual, although by that I mean I'll have 4 chocolates from a selection box rather than 2! I know what you're thinking, I'm a rebel.
One chocolate that I can never ever ever resist is....a Ferrero Rocher. Oooooo, aren't they lovely.
Now Ferrero Rocher's are also the only chocolate I can eat lots of in one go. I *might* have polished off a pack of 10 a couple of weeks ago.

Thinking to the end of the school term I want to get gifts for not only Charles' keyworker, but also the other staff members at his preschool because every single one of them is lovely.
I thought about getting cupcakes made but it would completely break the bank (small budget) and I didn't want to buy 8 boxes of chocolates.
And what better than Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes!

150ml Vegetable Oil
170g Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
150g Caster Sugar
40g Cocoa Powder
100ml Full Fat Milk
Ferrero Rocher

First mix together the oil and eggs in a bowl, gradually adding sugar until all combined.
Then add your flour whilst mixing.
Add the cocoa powder and milk and mix.
One all the ingredients are combined devide between cake cases. I was able to make 15 cakes using the same units as above.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 175 degrees.
Once baked, leave for around 5-10 minutes.
Once they have cooled slightly scoop a hole in the middle of the cake, discard (into your mouth) the scooped piece of cake and add a scoop of Nutella (you could use anything, I thought Nutella worked well though). Then simply add a Ferrero Rocher to the top and you are finished!



A Day Bursting With Pride

If yesterday was summed up into one word it would be "Proud".
It was a busy day. Charles went to Preschool in the morning, always a rush! And then in the afternoon he was due to have his preschool boosters.
I was dreading the day. I had very little sleep, in fact for a long time I've been coping on very little sleep and it's now starting to catch up on me. Sunday night though I was faced with a very awake baby who just kept wanting to play, who wouldn't go to sleep without a boob in his mouth.
Charles has had a slight cold the past 2 weeks, I worried that his school photo would be taken with a streaming nose. I really wanted to stay with him, to be ready to be on nose wiping duty, but also to tell him to smile. I worried that he would be too shy or go all silly and we'd end up with a photo of him with a straight face.
I almost told the preschool not to worry about having his done. Afterall, I didn't want to buy any because I can take photos of him in his uniform at home. I have some lovely ones from his first day in particular.
Knowing his key worker has a child too I thought I didn't need to mention the nose wiping if needed and surely someone could get him to smile, and if not, it didn't matter when I didn't want to buy them anyway.

The whole morning I kept wondering what he was doing. Was he now having his photo done? Was he smiling? Was he sat being quiet and grumpy?

The time came to collect him. I was suprised to be greeted by his keyworker with an envelope.
Look at these! These are his photos!!
Inside this envelope was a sheet of paper with passport sized proofs.
As we looked at the four photos together she sounded as proud as me. He was smiling in all of them, and more than that, he was POSING.
I had absolutely nothing to worry about.
I was bursting with pride and had to hold back tears until we reached the lane where I grabbed him for a cuddle and told him how proud I was and started to cry.
I looked at the pictures he had painted at school and in there was a perfect rainbow...perfect for a three year old anyway!
"It's beautiful isn't it, mummy. Of course it is, mummy, I made it"
He skipped and ran home, thoroughly enjoying his morning at school, chomping on the small stick of rock all children were given as a reward.

I couldn't be prouder of him. And I couldn't love his preschool anymore than I do.

I felt awful when we got home. Here was my boy, on a high from his amazing morning, having his "cool photos taken because I am cool" (his words) and in 2 hours time we would be taking him for his injections and causing a meltdown and screams and tears.
I prepped him as much as I could, and he seemed to understand what I was saying.
He ran into the doctors surgery, kept singing and playing whilst we waited for his name to come up on the board.
As soon as his name beeped onto the board he ran down the corridor towards the nurses room. He still seemed quite excited and I felt sorry for him with the shock that was coming.
He sat on my husband knee and the first needle went into the top of his arm. We prepared ourselves for a scream.
I looked at him and he was smiling, with a slight giggle.
The three nurses all laughed and said they couldn't believe he didn't cry, but that he definitely would with the second because it is the worst one.
So, in went the second one. He flinched a little and then....nothing.
No tears, no screams.
Everyone cheered him and told him what a brave boy he was.
He got a sticker and was able to choose a bag of Magic Stars or Buttons.

And off we went home.
He didn't complain at all and jusr kept reminding me that he is a "big brave boy".

As he ran into preschool today he headed straight for his keyworker and proudly showed off his plasters stating "I didn't even cry!".
She was proud of him and told him he was so brave and so grown up.

And the fact that she is proud of him too, makes me even more proud.


Peppery Parmesan Potato Wedges {Recipe}

I love potato wedges. Simply because I think they make a great alternative to chips and can be served in many different ways. I love how the are suitable for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Served with Salad, Chilli or Pie.
Earlier this year I posted a Cajun Potato Wedges recipe.
Today I think I may have beaten this recipe. In terms of flavour and ease of making them.

Using just one potato you can get a portion for one person.
Before I used olive oil and heated my wedges in the microwave before adding the flavouring and then transferring into the oven.
I wanted to reduce the time needing to cook and reduce the methods of the potato being cooked.
So, I experimented and shockingly, was really pleased with my first attempt and will be making more to serve with dinner tonight!

Potatoes (for my experiment I used one medium sized potato)
2 tablespoons of parmesan
2 tablespoons of natural breadcrumbs
1 egg

First chops your potatoes into wedges. I keep the skin on mine.
In a bowl mix up one egg.
In a seperate bowl, mix together parmesan, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. I used big chunks of peppercorns and sea salt.
Roll the potato wedge into the egg mix, then transfer it into the dry mix and cover well. Then place on a baking tray.
Do this for all wedges.
Place in the oven at 200degrees, for 25-30 minutes, or until the wedges are cooked.
Remove from the oven and serve.

I sprinkled a little more Parmesan on mine and served with mayo.



Forgetting Breastfeeding Achievements

When I was breastfeeding Charles everyday seemed like an achievement. On the 14th of every month I would cheers my boobs and celebrate another month done. I wanted to get passed 14 months with Charles, simply because my mum breastfed me and my twin brother for 7 months so it seemed to beat that I would need to double it to make it fair!
We ended up reaching 18 months and then I fell pregnant with Harry and my milk supply lowered and I was in pain.
It just so happened that Charles stopped all by himself.
It broke my heart but still I'm so proud of what we achieved.

This time my goal was simple.
18 months. I am putting pressure on myself, which I know a lot of people frown upon and think isn't good but it is for me. It's important for me to reach this goal.
I guess I'm a bit OCD about certain things.
I like that Harry was born at 39+6 and Charles at 40weeks. Although would have preferred it to be exactly the same but for obvious reasons (if you've read my birth stories) Harry may not have been delivered safely.
I like the boys to have the same things. And feeding them both for the same amount of time satisfies this silly *need* of mine. Although I wouldn't stop at 18 months, I would/will carry on because I would have done the same with Charles had he not have chosen to stop.

Every month on the 5th I say a quiet woohoo for Harry being a month older and give myself a pat on the back.

Last time I seemed to have a lot more support from people. People couldn't praise me enough, which is good when it can be full of doubt and criticism from most other areas.
This time people just don't mention it. It's fine. But I'm the kind of person who every now and then just needs to be told I'm doing well.
Harry isn't amazing at eating meals so I know that most of what he is getting, most of what is making him strong, most of what is making him healthy, is coming from me. From my milk.

I took photos all the time of Charles feeding. My husband had to take photos whenever I fed in public, just for me to look back on and say "I did that!" Yet now I have very little in terms of photos and it upsets me.

I am forgetting my achievements, forgetting to treasure and record this thing that I love doing, and mostly because I feel like it doesn't count now.

Maybe people expect me to still be feeding which is why it isn't an issue.
"You did it before so why wouldn't you be doing it now?"*shrug*
I imagine that's what people think.

But now I'm going to shout it loud. Because any day could be my last day of breastfeeding. Ever.
And that day really will break my heart.

We have just 2 months to go until we reach the same length of time I fed with Charles.
This makes me very happy.
Ultimately it's up to Harry when we stop, I'm happy to keep going as long as he wants and needs my milk.

So...yay Harry and yay my boobs for **16 MONTHS OF BREASTFEEDING**



Old School Cornflake Tart | Recipe

I was always a fan of school dinners. I either had a mixture of school cooked dinner, packed lunch or I went home for lunch.
High school would normally involve us all having a slice of pizza and a cheeseburger in the break, then home for something light or nothing at all. It was a nightmare to queue up at lunchtime and the school had a silly system so it was easier to eat a bigger meal at morning break.

The food cooked at Middle school was, now looking back, a mixture of junk and yummyness. They occasionally had a really nice flan. I remember it so clearly and wouldn't know how to recreate it! In those days too we were also served Jamie Olivers nemesis....Turkey Twizzlers. I'm not ashamed to say that actually, I quite liked them. The flavour was always quite nice. They were something like 20p per Twizzler and I would spend the majority of my £1.50 on as many Twizzlers as I could, with also a lump of mash potato and dessert, if I could afford it.
Some desserts I liked and some I didn't.

It seems, through various discussions, that everyone has vivid memories of school dinners, specifically desserts and there is one in particular that comes up as a strong favourite.
Cornflake Tart.
I used to mix it up a bit by having chocolate custard poured over mine rather than the normal custard. Rebel, I know.

This week I all of a sudden fancied one and looked into how easy they would be to make.
They are super easy! Literally anyone could make one.
And I did just that.

I used a ready made sweet pastry case from Sainsburys
200g Strawberry Jam
115g Cornflakes
135g Golden Syrup
70g Butter or Margarine (I used stork)
40g Dark Brown Sugar

Firstly, take your sweet pastry case and place it in a quiche dish to ensure it will keep it's shape during cooking.
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Then gently fold in the cornflakes until they are all coated in the syrup mixture.
In a separate saucepan, gently warm up the strawberry jam. You don't want it too hot.
One this is warmed, pour/spread onto the pastry case. Making sure there is a nice, evenly distributed layer.
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