My son, Kian

Here’s a snippet of a home video with my son Kian (16 months) having dinner earlier today, that I just had to share with you guys! It’s moments like this that make motherhood truly the very best job in the world!!!


 

 

 
(photo by Everything Between Photography)

Baby’s Christmas is always so special- especially for first-time parents in trying so hard to create memories and wanting to do everything right. Read what we decided to give to Kian as his second Christmas present.

If you have a baby, you’ll know how much effort goes into making Christmas special for them- and a lot of effort goes into spoiling them with gifts! Last year, I gave this a lot of thought. About the message I wanted our gifts to give him. As Kian’s very first

Gift of Giving - last year's gift

Christmas gift, we decided to give him the gift of giving and made a donation to help less fortunate children through NSPCC in his name (read more here.)

And this year, we decided to give him the gift of experience and quality time. Yes, we try do this everyday, but as his Christmas gift, we took him to Winter Wonderland in London and watched his face light up as he saw all the lights and went on his first ride! I loved him taking in his new surroundings and new sights and he looked fascinated by the London tube! We had a beautiful day as a little family and have made some lovely memories.

I want him to know that first you give, and then when it comes to yourself, the most valuable thing you can give anyone is your time and nothing more precious can come from it than an experience and memory. When all is said and done, we don’t remember that great outfit we got, but we remember moments that made us feel good, with the people we love. Granted – he is too young to fully remember all of this, but I think that lessons are learned through our everyday interactions and being able to set an example.

Hope you’re all having a beautiful Christmas with your loved ones and making the most of your time together. Sending you all lots of love.

Melody

xx

 

No-make selfie going into my social enterprise ‘BETTER’ gym . Lady at reception said “oh we haven’t seen you in a while!” That’s because I haven’t been for over 1.5 months. Pre-pregnancy I was 49/50kg. Post birth I was 62kg. Right now, exactly 10 months on, I’m 57.5kg. All my old clothes don’t fit! Of course I want to be back at my original weight.

However my daily choice between priorities is:

  • spending time & caring for Kian (cooking his every meal, as well this I spend so much time on his development of mind and character doing my own exercises to refine his communication skills).
  • business. I run @inspirengage and absolutely love what I’m doing. I have 3 international trips & projects coming up as well as launching new projects. Needs my time.
  • family & friends, quality time with my husband (who really helps with Kian so much thankfully)
  • exercise and time for pampering (hair, nails, exercise).

It’s a struggle sometimes to do it all- especially to a high standard. It’s a matter of priorities. And because of that, the ‘me’ time including exercise, frequently comes last.

It’s all good-  I’m learning to find balance and feel truly blessed. Can you relate?

PS – I wrote all this whilst on the treadmill! See, I’m a juggler!!

Tweet/ig: @Melody_Hossaini

Sun, sea, sand and relaxation – lazy mornings, sun tanning by the pool and lot’s of chic-lit reading. That used to pretty much sum up my beach holiday pre-baby! Post-baby, the picture was a little different! Here’s my blog on our first holiday with our 9 month-old baby Kian and my tips for those going away with their little ones, including how to reduce your luggage weight!

It’s very exciting going away for the first time, as a proper family as opposed to a couple. To be honest, I didn’t really think it would be that hugely different, but it really is! Firstly, when my hubby and I used to go away, we were still always over the limit! This time, we packed the bare essentials and reduced it to one suitcase to create capacity for all the stuff that the baby needed, and boy did he need stuff! From swimmer diapers, to formula milk, to food pouches to a steriliser!

We thought a lot about where we wanted to go- somewhere not too far away (as didn’t know what he’d be like on the flight), somewhere relatively warm with an all-inclusive resort and somewhere with not a huge time difference to disturb his routine. After considering Greece and Portugal we decided on a 5*, beautiful resort in Tenerife. The weather was perfect (warm enough for him to swim and not be too cold, but not too hot with maximum temp of around 29), plus there’s no time difference at all!

Was worried about how he would cope with the flight but he was absolutely fine! Feed them milk as you take off, let them nap after that, then we read to him and played the rest of the way and then we were there!

Babies have to adjust to changes – so with daily temps so much higher than England, Kian’s body was constantly hot in the first couple of days- he even had a little bit of a high temp at one point. But by the third day, he’d adjusted perfectly.

Hard parts:

  • Putting him for naps in the buggy, instead of his comfortable bed back home! Sometimes would take a while for him to sleep and find a comfortable position.
  • Sitting in the restaurant for evening meals- past his bedtime (he usually sleeps at 6.30pm at home), sometimes he was playing, sometimes happy but other times he would get frustrated and yell out and ruin people’s dinner!
  • When you just want to sit in the sun, read a book and relax, but your baby has other plans!

Magical parts:

  • Simply spending, uninterrupted quality time together! That’s the best part. Your baby changes all the time, their personality coming out. So, this trip, was all about us getting to know our rapidly changing baby.
  • Seeing him get into the pool for the first time and his laughter as he loved it and would splash around at speed! So lovely!
  • Seeing him interact with different people! This is one of the great character-building positives of travel. He has to get used to different kinds of people and being out of his comfort zone.
  • At a resort, there’s always lots of music, by the pool, live music at dinner and evening entertainment. Kian really likes music and was even dancing along!
  • Taking LOTS of photos and making memories together, as a family!

My tips:

  • When it’s your first time packing for a trip with a baby, you don’t know how much to take of each essential. We took one big pack of diapers but it wasn’t enough. We bought some out there, which were fine. For formula- we use Aptamel and needed just over one pack (we brought some extra in a plastic freezer bag. You need lots of wipes! We brought 2 packs and still needed to buy one here!
  • You definitely don’t want to pay for excess luggage but with all this stuff, it’s hard not to! My friend Gemma came up with a good idea to avoid this! Airports always have a Boots which sell the baby things, and if you get your stuff from there, past security, it’s not put towards your luggage allowance! Genius! Go into your local Boots, and if you have 2 weeks until you go away, they can order it all in for you (we ordered food pouches, his milk, swimmer diapers, wipes and sun tan lotion). If you don’t have time, you simply get the number for that Boots directly and call the evening before you fly, and they will put it all aside for you.
  • About 20mins before boarding, we gave Kian some calpol. He may have been fine without it, but it doesn’t hurt and helps them if they are in a little discomfort from the flight. 
  • We took 3 swimming suits for Kian to try- one all one one with buttons around his legs from John Lewis, one all in one with only a zip at the top (from Next) and also a 2 piece- top and shorts from Ralph Lauren. The all in one with buttons was definitely easiest.
  • Take lots of toys (from those that light up, to little soft blocks to bigger toys they can pull etc), because when they’re sat in their buggy on a day out, or sat in their high-chair at dinner, it really helps to keep them happy and preoccupied! We also took his books which were so useful as he loves reading.
  • Take a thermometer- helped to check his temp when his body was hot.
  • Make sure your resort is buggy friendly and that you have a room on bottom floor if no lift. Unfortunately, our resort wasn’t with its endless annoying up-hill paths and also 2 flights of stairs to our villa.
  • Upgrade to a villa if the cost suits you. We did this, which meant we had 2 balconies, a living room with a sofa and a large bedroom. Came in handy!
  • We took a travel steriliser which was great but forgot a bottle brush (you can get a compact one with a case from poundland).
  • Although a baby has lots of needs and may cry or need food or sleep – try to take time to enjoy yourselves, go to dinner, sit out and enjoy the entertainment, the baby has to learn to adjust and can’t be the other way around, as you’ll end up doing yourself a disservice and you’ll have a baby not capable of adaptation on your hands! Afterall, that’s the beauty of travel – change and experiences!

 

 

 

Why are we limited by society's gender specific toys?

From birth we are programmed to follow the usual ‘blue for boys’ and ‘pink for girls’ – so much so that we don’t even question why things are so gender-specific, even for babies who don’t even know what they are! Last night, I was forced to stop and think.

These little teddy comfort rags come in blue & in pink. Society has forced us to robotically purchase blue for boys and pink for girls- but why? Babies enjoy colour- any colour! So why do we surround boys in blue and girls in pink? And also why is it so impossible to imagine a boy having a pink rag or a girl a blue?

Last night I was invited to a family dinner to reveal the sex of an unborn baby in our family! Kian was there and in the middle of dinner, he began crying- unfortunately, I realised I had forgotten his little rag toy (the blue one someone bought us as a gift). Our friend was kind enough to lend us theirs (pink one). But instead of it looking odd that he had a pink one- instead it made me think- why not!?

Kiki has a pink and a blue now. I think he probably likes the variety. But it made me think how society limits or pre-determines boundaries for our children by way of gender. I think that’s wrong. Furthermore, why isn’t there more gender neutral colours available like yellow, orange and gold? I will set my own boundaries for my baby- not society. And my parameters will be as wide as possible to allow him to explore and be free to be creative and to become what he wants to be. That goes for gender colours as it does for life. Mindset is built from an early age.

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini – interested to know what you guys think!

 

Finished Product! Pasta Bolognese

Last week I implemented Kian’s first week of solids food plan- see last blog with meal plan details:  http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2015/04/weaning_mealplan/ My favourite meal we made was the Pasta Bolognese- simple, healthy and tasty! It’s also a really great way to introduce red meat (iron) into the meal plan.

Ingredients

The recipe is inspired by Annabel Karmel with my own little twist on it!

Heat a little oil in a pan- sauté onion, garlic (crushed), carrots (raw, peeled and grated) mushroom (thinly diced) and celery (finely chopped) for 5 mins. Add 120g lean minced beef and sauté until browned (keep stirring and break the meat into small pieces). Stir in 3 tomatoes (skinned and chopped), a little tomato puree and some chicken stock (see my last blog on how to make it- http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2015/04/weaning_mealplan/) Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. Transfer the mixture to a blender to a smoother consistency (but not too much) – I also added some fresh herbs (parsley) before blending.

I served Kian this with baby star pasta (can get this at most places- I got mine at Tesco) and also served a portion with rice for him. He liked both and a great way to introduce meat into his diet.

Before going into the blender

Last blog of 2014

It’s been a year of enterprise booming in Britain (most notably social enterprise), of Gogglebox making us laugh and Google becoming more valuable than Russia! As always, the year has flown by way too quickly, packed with exciting developments both at InspirEngage International and in my personal life. Here are my highlights.

InspirEngage International has had an exciting 2014:

  • Startup and Stilettos has been growing and helping more women to launch their social enterprises. One of the ladies, Patricia made her dreams come true by setting up a business selling her art, using profits to help young people in her area have something to do

    Startup & Stilettos

    and create their own Art which they can sell! We also branched out and for the first time ever delivered a Social Media Bootcamp in partnership with Hillcroft College and Astonish Email. This is vital for adult women and it was really well-received inopening a whole new world of possibilities. Blog on this here > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/07/startup-stilettos-social-media-for-adult-women/ Another highlight was attending and contributing at G8 Summit in London on women in the Arab world attended by the World Bank, Eve Branson, Cherie Blair and Royal family members.

  • Social Enterprise Revolution – Embedding social enterprise into the curriculum, this year featured in the Lord Young ‘Enterprise For All’ report. Our first year has come to an end with our Pioneer Colleges. We’ve seen several social enterprises being born by students- impacting their communities, making money and being assessed in their curriculum. Here’s an insight into our work at Harrow College > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/08/social-enterprise-revolution-harrow-college/
  • InspirEngage Grows! – This year InspirEngage has expanded our team by taking on new expert Trainers as well as extended our intake of Young Ambassadors, Patrons (including Princess Badiya of Jordan) and Mentors. A special thank you to everyone who make up the InspirEngage story.
  • Personal news: Kian… My 2014 is defined by me becoming a mother. On 10 September, I gave birth to a little boy who has changed my world. We named him Kian (name of the ancient Persian Kings – pronounced ‘Kee-aan’). He’s a happy little boy and a social entrepreneur in training! I regularly baby-blog; keep an eye!

Kian and I

Wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful 2015 ahead.

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti!

 

Christmas is a magical time- especially, since having grown up in Sweden, we have lots of Christmas traditions but this year it was made more special with Kian being here! It’s his very first Christmas.

Dressed in his ‘My First Christmas’ outfit which my sister got him, he took his place by the tree to watch us all opening presents! There were a lot of presents but he sat quietly and patiently for 2 hours taking it all in! The first present of the day, we opened was his gift from my husband and I. I thought a lot about what we wanted to get for him for his first present. Perhaps new clothes (he grows out of them so quickly!), perhaps a toy (as he loves flashing lights and movement)… but nothing felt just right.

I am aware that Kian is a very fortunate and lucky boy. Not just for the material possessions available to him, but more importantly because he is so loved within a safe family unit. Sadly, not every child is that fortunate. For this reason, as his first gift from us, we made a donation in Kian’s name to a children’s charity (NSPCC) working to help vulnerable and innocent children. His first gift is the gift of giving.

As parents, the greatest thing we can give our children, aren’t material things- but teaching them values- the importance of being thankful, of giving, of caring about the world we live in. In order for this to become inherent within him, we have to truly live it. From my own childhood, I have very little memories of me receiving material things, but my most beautiful and vivid memories are of sitting around the dinner table with my family and my mum telling funny stories and us laughing. Those are values.

Our Christmas was also made special by my sister visiting from Dubai. I miss her dearly since she moved there just under a year ago. The beautiful thing with a new addition to the family in Kian is that it changes the dynamic of family and brings you all even closer. A sister becomes an aunt and a little brother becomes an uncle.

Hope that you’ve all had a beautiful time with your loved ones. Thank you so much for your continued support. Sending you my warmest wishes in the run up to the final days of 2014.

 

 

 

It’s been just over 2 months and already I can not remember life before changing-mats, dummies and sterilising bottles! People ask you if it’s what you expected and honestly, regardless of how much you prepare, you will never be able to expect what is to come. This blog is a little insight into the first 2 months on the outside for the baby and adapting to this big change as a family.

The first few weeks, you just stare at him- not believing he was actually inside your body. How can it be possible? You stare at every little move he makes. Everyday there’s something new. So far we’ve had first smiles, first time he grabs hold of a toy, the first time he starts gurgling! Must say, it’s not all easy and smiles. Becoming a first-time mum has its difficult days. The sleepless nights, the constant demand on your time as well as a change in identity (you’re predominantly now a mother, as well as the other identities you previously held.). It’s a personal journey and it’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s taken 2 months for things to settle.

4 important things have happened:

Routine- For the first 6 weeks a newborn needs all the care it demands, but it pretty much takes over your every minute of the day. That can not continue as you will either go mad or simply not have time for anything else! One day we simply decided we wanted to implement a strong routine for Kian, and decided for feeds only every 4 hours and that we wouldn’t hold him when he was fed and changed- and we stuck to it. It changed our life! Both Kian and parents are happier with this!

Making Memories- As well as a video diary (which I share with our family on a whatsapp group as we go!) we booked in for a photoshoot! A lot of people take photos when the baby is newborn in the first 2 weeks but I found waiting until he was 8 weeks meant his face was more settled and he was more alert, yet still little and cute! With photos as important as these, it’s so important to pick the right photographer. I can thoroughly recommend Paul Ward Studios in Birmingham- he took the photo above. He is patient, talented and has multiple sets in the same studio for varied shots. We took 3 outfits -one of them was a cute Christmas outfit for his our Christmas cards! One casual and one dressed up! I was blown away with the photos! Paul is offering 10% off to my readers and followers. Just quote ‘Melody’. Info on > http://www.paulward.net/melody/

Date Night- BC (before child), my husband and I used to go on date night regularly- but that becomes difficult with a baby. However, it’s vital to make time for eachother and so we left the baby with my mum and went to a lovely dinner together (steakhouse since I couldn’t have my steak medium cooked whilst pregnant!. It was nice to catch up, reflect as parents and focus on our relationship as a husband and wife.

Baby Talk isn’t cheap!- The most important thing you can do to benefit your child’s development (even if they’re newborn) is to talk to them. Each morning, during his morning feed, I tell Kian what day it is, what the weather is like outside and what we have planned for the day ahead. I speak to him constantly when I am with him. People think babies can’t communicate but they’re naturals! The key is to speak to them then pause, and they will speak back (ok, gurgle obviously) – this is helping him to become alert as well as learn the basics of communication.

 

I want to thank you all so much for your constant support. This week my facebook page hit 31,100 people- thanks for following and your kind words! You can tweet/ instagram me on @Melody_Hossaini.

 

 

Sep 162014

My first blog as a mummy! Been meaning to write this blog for a few days now but finally getting round to it while my angel is napping.
Wow… where do I start. I’ve experienced a lot in life but nothing comes close to giving birth and becoming a mother. In this blog, I want to share my labour story, sentiments in these first few days of motherhood and introduce you to our angel!

Contractions- During the latter stages of my pregnancy, I’d been wondering how my birth would go and what would happen… everyone’s experiences of labour are so different. My baby was due on Sunday 14th and although people kept telling me your first one is very likely to be late, I had a feeling my baby would come early.
I woke up on the morning of 10th September with minor cramps- which grew in intensity but still felt too mild for me to think I was in labour! I was walking around saying to my cousin (who was visiting at the time) and my husband, “hmm well this hurts a little… hmm here it comes again…what could it be?”

We called the labour ward- and they told us to come in, which I felt was strange- I kept telling my husband (who quickly grabbed the pre-packed hospital bags, and was walking in circles in a nervous & excited tizz!) that there was no way I was going to give birth that day- I can’t possibly be having contractions. How wrong I was! I got to the hospital and turns out I was 6cm dilated and ready to be moved into the labour room to give birth. It’s very important how you go into something- especially something you consider challenging (that’s what I speak about in my motivational speaking engagements), so I knew labour was no different. I remember walking into the hospital and even during the latter stages of contractions, and kept saying out loud- “it’s ok, I’ve got this- I can do this”. Going into it saying, ‘I can’t’ or ‘I don’t want to do this’ will make it 100 times harder.

Labour - They encourage you to make a birthing plan – and I had decided to try water birth on gas & air. However, in reality, we had no time for that as I was moving along so quickly and the baby was ready to come. Although a quick labour is great, all wasn’t perfect. The baby’s heart rate was going too low and the baby was distressed, which left no time for pushing. The emergency button of my labour room was pressed twice and the senior consultant and various doctors were at my bed (I had no idea what was happening and was focusing on following instructions that they were giving me to get the baby out).

I distinctly remember the senior consultant coming close and saying; “Melody, listen to me- we have to get your baby out right now” and me just replying, “Fine- just tell me what to do.” The baby was pulled out with forceps, without epidural. I never knew I had the ability to scream the way I did- the immense pain. But he was there and that’s all that mattered. Got to the hospital at 12.30 and he arrived at 14.16, weighing just over 3kg.

Meet our angel… - Lots of you have been asking me what we named him. His name is KIAN (pronounced ‘Kee-yaan’ as opposed to the Irish version which is pronounced ‘Kee-en’) . It’s a Persian name, after the second dynasty of Persian Kings. I always said, if I one day have a son, I will call him that. Can’t believe that just a few days ago I was still awaiting the arrival of my angel and today is his 5th day with me and l can honestly not even remember my days without him. People ask me if it feels weird but it feels like the most natural thing in the world- like he was always meant for us. The Love I feel for him and our connection is something that only another mother can comprehend. Beautiful & gives life its true meaning…

I’m excited about this new chapter. In this note, I also want to thank my husband who has been an incredible source of support and love (he says something just clicks!) and my beautiful family who have made sure I eat healthily and rest lots (they’re nagging me to put the laptop down right now!!). It’s really added a beautiful new dimension to our family (being the first grandchild!). More to come- going to cuddle my angel- can NOT stop!!

Thank you so much to all of you for your extremely kind wishes. I truly appreciate it. Follow the rest of the journey- connect with me on twitter and ig: @Melody_Hossaini and facebook ‘Melody Hossaini (The Apprentice).