Word for 2017: Make

As I mentioned in my 2016 post, last year I didn’t do very well at concentrating on my hopes rather than drifting into making-myself-feel-slightly-guilty resolution territory. Feeling bad because of a date on the calendar isn’t something I really want to do deliberately! At the same time the turning of the year is still the main benchmark of time passing, along with birthdays and anniversaries I guess (and my birthday is pretty much at the end of the year so all gets bundled together anyway!) so I still like to mark it.


I’ve seen lots of people choosing a word to sum up the upcoming year for them. I think this started with this email course, which I confess I haven’t done. ‘Make’ just kind of came about organically. I started off trying to write about my hopes again and the post just wasn’t working, although I realised that every one of my hopes revolved around making, so much so I was trying to find synonyms so I wasn’t overusing ‘make’. This seemed to be a good indication it is something I should focus on this year.

I want to make by crafting more – if I’m making something (anything) I’ll be happy. I’ve already kicked this off by starting to use up various craft kits I’ve never used. I’m not worrying about what I’ll do with the finished item, just enjoying the process and making some space in the cupboards too. I’m also looking forward to starting to do some basic crafts with Felicity – she’s just starting to enjoy scribbling and I’m looking forward to some crafty fun with her this year.

It’s also about making the most of time this year. I find that my ‘free time’ is limited – on a good evening we get around an hour and a half after Felicity is in bed to relax. Often we have chores or life admin to be doing, and on the bad nights she wakes regularly and I’m up and down stairs all evening. It’s too easy to sit and mess about on the internet rather than actually making the most of my time – by crafting, reading or putting a little thought into really enjoying our downtime (otherwise known as hygge).

It’s also making time to do fun stuff with Felicity and engaging with her properly. I’m aware that sometimes my phone is too much of a distraction, I don’t want this to be the case. I’m not going into a smartphones are evil rant as they’re not. Having busy whatsapp groups constantly chattering is a wonderful way of feeling connected with the people I like best. But I probably don’t need to check Facebook twice an hour (especially as I don’t often post) to get that connection. Not frittering, not being super productive, just making the most of my time.

Another element to ‘making’ is that 2017 is the year where we’ve got to get a lot done on the house and make it into even more of a home. We need a new kitchen, which is going to be a huge project and will be one of the first (and definitely the most expensive) way of putting a permanent stamp on our house. I’m hoping to continue getting pictures on the walls, as we still have things propped up on the dining room floor – two years in is getting silly – and generally just nesting.

I’m really looking forward to seeing if using a single word like this is going to be something I enjoy thinking about over the year too. We’ll see how it’s gone this time next year!

Farewell December and 2016 hopes 

Happy belated new year to you! This post is a little bit late as we saw 2016 out with Will’s parents at their new house on the North Norfolk coast, which is internet free at the moment – is near a rather lovely beach where we saw a stunning Winter about to set sun.


Our November run of illnesses and breakages unfortunately continued into December. After a bout of a vomiting bug, more colds and the house still being a tip after the leak that happened whilst the boiler was being fitted (they’d had to rapidly move the piles of stuff we’d cleared for them to do the fitting all over the place as they were trying to find the leak as quickly as possible and we’re taking the floorboards up!) we called time on the plan of us hosting Christmas, as Will’s lovely Mum offered to cook lunch at their house instead. 

We were so grateful and it was a good thing we’d changed the plan as the oven then conked out a few days before Christmas. What with that and the dishwasher breaking, and the fact that the rest of the kitchen is heading towards the end of its life anyway we are going to replace the whole thing (if it’s in anyway in our budget from the money we’ve been putting aside for the purpose – a big if!). What with all this, and the general grimness of the world more generally – I am not sad to say goodbye to 2016.

December wasn’t all bad though – we celebrated my 30th with a trip to the Ritz for afternoon tea. It was lovely and I’ll write a whole post about it at some point! After we recovered from our various bugs and finished work for Christmas we did manage to have a lovely relaxed time, pottered about at home, had a wonderful Christmas Day thanks to Will’s Mum and Dad, had a day out to London Zoo using the membership we got as a Christmas gift, then topped it off with our trip to Norfolk. Hoping this means a good start to 2017!

2016 Hopes

I’m not a big one for New Year resolutions – mainly because I tend to make lots of ‘must do better’ resolutions and changes throughout the year and I prefer being a bit gentle and hopeful with myself at the start of the year in the dark and the cold. I think last year’s hopes strayed a little bit into resolution territory and I didn’t do so well with them as I did the previous year as a result. I’m going to take a different approach for 2017, but I thought this was a good time to reflect back on my 2016 hopes.

They were:

Being more thoughtful: this was all about remembering to think about our wonderful friends and family more, and generally I think I managed this quite well. Going back to work has meant I have ‘the book’ of organisation which if I lost it would mean we don’t know what we’re doing, eating or anything really. This has helped me keep track of things more which is great at feeling less reactive and guilty when special days for people go whizzing past.

Enjoying my particular life: not overly comparing myself to others (especially where parenting is concerned) – this had mixed results. I can definitely not claim to have never got stressed about Felicity’s sleep in comparison with others, or doubted my decisions, not helped by Health Visitors who just tend to lecture me about how all her sleep habits are wrong when I see them. But generally I’m aware we’re doing things the best way for our family and we’re all happy and healthy. I also read a great polemic by Zoe Williams about the sometimes toxic nature of modern parenting advice and judgement which helped to clarify things – I’m now reccomending it to pregnant friends!

Making – this just did not happen. Aside from helping out a bit with a friend’s wedding (lots of pom poms) I haven’t really been making anything. This is entirely due to a lack of free time, and energy to work out what I should make. I haven’t given up though – this is making a reappearance this year.

Sleep. Ha! Felicity’s sleep is so much better than this time last year, but I still might have cried if you’d told me that her sleeping through the night, even once, hadn’t happened yet. I have had seven hour stretches of sleep a couple of times, but generally I’m functioning on a few two or three hour spells over a night, which after fourteen months is rather draining.

A lot of thes were a bit too much like a resolution to actually work in the way I wanted. I hoped to think of things that I could achieve the spirit of which I will try to do in 2017.

November – blah blah blah 

Autumn leaves My looking back at November post was all ready to publish, the general tone was a bit of a moan about feeling like the whole month had been about everything deciding to break at once and everyone being ill. How our boiler had started to go wrong, dishwasher suddenly completely broke (the worst – I love it so!), a light bulb exploded glass everywhere and we’ve also had a mouse infestation in the loft. All very first world problems, but combined with the three of us alternating colds and various bugs all month I was very ready for November to be over. Especially as all our lurgy meant cutting short one planned weekend trip to see friends and having to cancel going to Jennifer’s for Thanksgiving. I then went on a happy little burble about how much better December would be.

Why did I do that? December then got worse! The boiler replacement (always a horribly expensive thing at the best of times) ended up bursting a pipe and causing a bit of a dramatic leak through our hall ceiling and meant lots of floorboards were ripped up and had to be reassembled. At the same time Will came down with a nasty case of what we think was sinusitis, so I was doing the cleanup/parenting on my own. Thank goodness for grandparents living nearby! I also have no idea how single parents manage with toddlers – I’m doing the Hunger Games solidarity salute thing in your direction if that’s you. I was (not even just metaphorically) on my knees after a few days.

So I’m counting December as actually starting from today when we had a lovely grown-ups only day in London for a celebration of our birthdays. The rest of the month is looking happily busy with Christmas, my 30th, and family catch ups. So a bit better than November hopefully!

October: birthday and back to work 

October is now a special time for us as it’s Felicity’s birthday month. A year has gone very quickly and she is most definitely a toddler, she’s rampaging everywhere now and we have even had a few tantrums – eek!

Look - a butterfly!

Butterfly house exploring

We had such a lovely time celebrating her birthday though. The actual day was one of my working days, so Will and I booked the day off and took her to the zoo with my parents. She was very very impressed with the butterfly house, it was small enough that she could toddle round and admire (chase) the butterflies. Elephants were dull in comparison. We’re currently debating whether we should get a membership so we can go back with no pressure to see everything in a day.

Happy birthday baby

First birthday puffin cake

We also had a little birthday party with lots of baby friends, it was a little manic but very enjoyable. I even managed to make and ice a cake half-neatly. My grand plans to make elaborate decorations didn’t happen, but luckily my sister-in-law had crafted an amazing puffin to go on top – Felicity’s favourite book is about a puffin, quite a lot of the presents ended up being puffin themed too.

October also saw my proper return to work, rather than just the odd day. I am really enjoying this, but I have been putting a lot of  energy into getting back into the work mindset, as well as getting Felicity used to her new routine and making the most of our days together. And that’s without making sure we’re all clothed, fed and living in a vaguely clean house. 

My big hope for November is that I can maybe do something that isn’t work/Mama-ing/housework or watching Gilmore Girls whilst slumped on the sofa exhausted. Gilmore Girls is obviously time well spent, even if we’re only averaging an episode a night, but I’m hoping I can maybe get my hygge on with some candles at the same time, or actually pick up some knitting or crochet. Wild ambitions!

Bonding and books – reading with Felicity

I always say to people who ask what it’s like being a parent that it is a world of extremes – you’re either bursting with love or want to jump out the window and run away with the overwhelming nature of it all. A few weeks ago I had a bad parenting day. Felicity was going through a clingy and upset phase, I think down to a mixture of teeth and frustration at being able to toddle a bit but not really walking well. She was similarly grumpy just before she got the proper hang of crawling. We’d been to get her first shoes in the morning, which wasn’t a roaring success – she hates shops if not in a trolley where she can peer about – and randomly having her feet prodded did not endear her to shoe shopping either.

I then made the error of deciding to pop into Toys R Us next door to look at potential first birthday presents. I assumed they’d have a little section, like our Early Learning Centre does, where she would be able to have a little crawl and, you know, play with some toys. How naive. I hadn’t grasped the whole ‘it’s a massive warehouse with too much stimulation with nothing she can actually play with to maximise parental stress and likelihood of impulse buys and therefore our profits’ element of the shopping experience.

By the time we came out Felicity was so tetchy and fresh air starved that I decided I couldn’t face half an hour of screaming if I stuffed her into the car so went to get a coffee for me and a snack for her before heading home. This then meant we were late for her lunch, then she wouldn’t nap and was generally quite cross about what a terrible day I’d given her. I was very tired and stressed by the time she had another meltdown when I gently dared to try to get her to nap as she was overtired and unhappy.

I’m sure a lot of parents can identify with these days when there’s nothing overtly wrong, just timings have been off, the baby didn’t want to do what you wanted/needed them to participate in. After all, they get no say on whether they feel like going shoe shopping. You haven’t quite got the magic ratio of doing stuff/going out/food/sleep right. As a result you’re worn down by constant demands on you and feeling like you’re failing as a parent as all you want is to have five minutes of peace. By this point they’re so overtired peace is the last thing they can give you. These days are fairly rare for us but still draining when they arrive, always on a day when I’m least equipped to deal with it as well!

This particular day did get better though  because after failed nap attempt number three I reached for a book: A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown. I inherited this copy from my grandmother as she used to read it to me when I was a little girl. I’d put it on Felicity’s book display although thought it would be one for when she’s a bit older. Will had picked it up after she pointed at the cover and discovered she loved it.

If you’re not familiar with the book it follows a black cat around lots of dark creepy places only to discover (spoiler alert) a very adorable mouse all tucked up in bed at the end. I find it completely charming and it’s a great slightly spooky but not really scary book for Halloween as well. I think it’s generally classed as a book for older children although the one sentence every page turn works well for Felicity as the story moves quickly and there is a lot to look at thanks to the beautiful illustrations. She also gets the point of the plot- the first time Will read it and she reached the end and saw the mouse she squealed with delight. She still grins and points when we get to the last page.

All this is a very long winded way of taking a moment to appreciate how magical sharing books can be for both babies and parents. On this day, still sitting in her darkened ready-for-nap-bedroom we must have read that story five times over as she gleefully squealed at the end. Seeing her enjoy it so much immediately relaxed me as she was happy again, and sharing something I’d loved as a child is a special moment of bonding. The whole day went from tiring and stressful to joyful and content.

I wanted to record it on this space as this isn’t something I explicitly realised would happen when sharing books with my child. I think a lot of people would say they read for pleasure, escape and distraction – and children need that too. I obviously had it in the back of my head that I wanted her to enjoy reading. But I also know I’ve been guilty of thinking too much about the utilitarian and educational ‘you can learn a, b and c’ side of things. It was a much needed reminder of the magic of reading.

September, September: Autumn’s here

Autumn fruits

Parents in the UK may recognise my blog title from the month specific song on CBeebies, all about the joys of chillier days and falling leaves. Not actually the most appropriate as it has felt more like Summer for a lot of the the month, although now we’re into October it is definitely Autumn with crisp, cold or misty mornings and hedgerows laden with berries, hips, haws and other fruit.

My poor little blog has been very neglected this last month. I have been working on a few posts but was shocked to discover I haven’t checked in at all since my last monthly round up post. The weeks have just flown thanks to a last minute holiday away, and more settling back into work for me and the childminder for Felicity. I’m very much hoping to get more into the swing of everything when we’re in a proper routine, and catch up on blogging as well as life!

Beachy days

Bucket and spade

Beach crawling
This is the first September since I left full time education that I’ve had the really strong ‘it’s the end of the Summer’ feeling. I think because we managed to time going down to my family holiday home in Kent for a heatwave in the middle of the month we really savoured Summery things. We were incredibly lucky and basically had a bucket and spade holiday a bit late. We swam in the sea and were on the beach for hours every day. Felicity loved it and would have crawled for literal miles if we had let her.

Then all my lovely Mum friends are making decisions about heading back to work (or not) and the routine of mine and Felicity’s weekly meet ups and activities are about to change. Properly feeling like end of the holidays – although maternity leave is definitely not a holiday – September was filled with lots of last days out with the babies, culminating on Saturday with a Mum’s only spa day which was just heaven.

Dahlia

Dahlia festival

Anglesey Abbey

Despite the summery mood we have been embracing the new season with blackberry and sloe foraging, which will soon be transformed into crumble and sloe gin respectively. We also continued our accidentally created tradition of going to the dahlia festival at Anglesey Abbey. We must have been for the last 2-3 years and I think it will be a nice tradition to carry on as Felicity grows.

October is shaping up to be an exciting month, with Felicity hopefully perfecting her walking, her first birthday and getting into our new routines. Also I’m aiming for at least one more blog post than in September!

Some postcards from August

August has vanished under a pile of lovely trips out and lots of sunny days, with a bit of going back to work stuff thrown in. The last half of the month disappeared with crafting for my friend’s wedding. It seems I can do one hobby type thing at a time as from the minute I started making lots of poms poms for the reception venue my blog writing disappeared. Here are some pictures from our August adventures.

Lavender

– We are lucky enough to live near to Hitchin Lavender Farm so one sunny afternoon in early August we spent an afternoon picking some lavender from the fields and taking lots of posey photos of Felicity. She absolutely loved the sensory experience of the amazing smells and all the bees buzzing. There was a lot of excited noises and pointing.

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– I’m in love with our tree surrounded garden this Summer.

Sharing books with Daddy

– Felicity has really got the hang of books now, and is a little bit obsessed with particular stories, this book about puffins is a  favourite.  I have so much to update on my Reading with Felicity series as well!

Family walk

– We’ve just invested in a proper hiking backpack for Felicity and we test drove it round Wimpole Estate, taking in the art installation examining the work of Capability Brown (we just used the giant mirrors to take a family selfie though).

Alpacas

– The alpacas at a farm day out with our NCT friends got a very impressed response, complete with squeals demanding the buggy be moved to follow them along the fence.

Ickworth

– Another National Trust day out, such glorious blue summery skies at Ickworth in Suffolk visiting my Aunt.