Breaking out of the gloom – January

Logically I know we have had a great month. When I think about our little family it’s all loveliness, but the outside world is encroaching so darkly.

Good stuff first though. Thanks to lots of time at home over Christmas we have been able to keep the house as under control as it can be with a toddler who likes taking everything out of everywhere she can reach then scattering it far and wide. I have even managed to do a bit of decluttering as and when I see it, which also helps as there is less general stuff everywhere.

Trike & ducks
We have managed to find a few new groups to go to which fit with Felicity’s nap time and we fill my non working days very happily with lots of trips down to the park, Library, feeding the ducks or toddling about our little town. Her latest obsession is her push along tricycle which she points to ever so hopefully every time we open the garage to get the oh so much more practical pushchair out. Most of the time I can’t resist either…

A lot of time has been taken up with planning our kitchen renovation, which is very exciting. Ignoring how much our savings are going to disappear the thought of a working oven and dishwasher is so wonderful. And the fun of looking  at storage solutions – under plinth drawers and pull out spice racks make me genuinely shudder with delight. Felicity has been so patient with us spending a large percentage of our weekends at kitchen showrooms too. She is going through a phase of loving to nose in cupboards, so going to places where there is nothing to do but open and shut drawers and cupboard doors seems to be a hit way to spend a weekend in her eyes.

I have also been keeping in mind my word for 2017 and have been crafting almost every evening for the first time in a long time. It has definitely helped to have something relaxing to focus on rather than just drifting the evening away messing about on the Internet. The only trouble with my tactic of using up random craft kits is my makes aren’t necessarily things I need. Anyone want this owl? I don’t trust Felicity to not chew the felt bits off.

Handmade owl

All lovely and yet I feel gloomy – the news from the US has literally been keeping me up at night, with the Muslim ban being signed just as I was up for Felicity’s first wake up and stupidly checked the news. It was all so horrifying that I then couldn’t get to sleep for hours watching the developments.

I desperately feel I want to be doing something but managed to completely miss that the Women’s March was happening until it was too late to go. We would have loved to have taken Felicity as I worry so much about her growing up in this kind of environment for women. I feel guilty for worrying about kitchens which I know is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. All the things I hold most dear: human rights, the NHS, even actual facts (I’m a librarian, verifiable sources are kind of important to me), are being chipped away at the moment.

Yet I know that just obsessing about these things – rather than resisting them in a useful way, I’m obviously going to do that – won’t make them go away. So I will continue choosing kitchen flooring, taking my daughter to the park and making. Then ramble on about all that on the Internet.

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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!

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!

Our new home

After several months of stress and uncertainty about whether we would actually move we have now been in our lovely new house for about 4 months (it was 3 months when I started writing this post…)

I have to say I would not recommend moving whilst in the early (sicky) stages of pregnancy, although my midwife did assure me it is better doing this than trying to move nearer the due date with all the stress that involves – such as whether you’ll be in a new home before the baby arrives! We were lucky enough to have loads of help on moving day itself from Will’s parents which was really appreciated and made everything slightly less manic. I did manage to scare our removal people though when a wave of nausea came just as they’d removed all the furniture it was possible to sit on. I retreated to a little ottoman we had in one of our built in wardrobes, and they obviously thought I was a bit odd as I was sitting in a cupboard for no apparent reason – especially as we didn’t share the fact I was pregnant.

This is the first house we have chosen together, so feels like a bit of a big thing, but also the first house I have ever bought. Despite watching many hours of Location, Location over the years, we ended up with something completely different to what I thought was my typical dream house. Our old house backed onto fields, and felt very peaceful and rural, which quickly became something we didn’t want to give up. Then there was the fact that we really liked the village we were living in, it has nice pubs, enough shops but still feels small enough to be an actual village. We didn’t limit our house browsing to just one place, but really we wanted to stay here if we could. I’m a typical blogger in that I’m a fan of period features, open fires or wood burners and Instagram worthy rooms – and our new house has none of this on the surface. We soon realised that living in a village with a Georgian market square meant a lot of houses were lovely enough to be listed buildings (which we just don’t have the resources to take on, having known a few people who have had to make huge outlays to fit in with the regulations). Or there were gorgeous, non-listed, houses, but they were crammed in the middle of the village on fairly busy roads.

House

Then we found this house, very new, on a small development built about 15 years ago. There were no Instagram worthy rooms, no open fire, but it is much nearer the market square, whilst still miraculously backing on to a small piece of woodland (with our own private secret garden style gate) which then leads to open countryside. It had oodles of space inside, upstairs was almost double the size of similarly priced period properties we viewed. In the end we decided we could personalise and decorate to our own taste, but the space and the location was too good to miss. We had already decided to start a family, so wanted somewhere where we could properly settle, and also minimise the chance of ever having to buy and sell a house (and move, ugh) in the immediate future!

Our secret garden gate

Kitchen

However, the change from a small house with one living space – living room/diner and small kitchen, with two bedrooms, to a four bed with living room, kitchen/diner, conservatory, study and an extra room (probably a dining room come library but we haven’t really decided what it’s going to be yet – an unbelievable luxury I know!) – was quite ridiculous when we got our furniture in. Our large sofa and not-so-large TV were the only things in the living room for quite a while and it looked a bit mad – like a waiting room. The one thing we had a lot of in terms of furniture was bookcases (7 in our tiny house may have been a bit excessive…) but ironically these didn’t immediately fit anywhere obvious in the new house.

After the initial moving stress I’m finally getting into the excitement of having a whole house to decorate and make a home – some rooms are almost sorted and straight now after lots of delays when the morning sickness really kicked in just after moving day. There have been lots of conversations about exactly what are the most important things for us to get done before the world changes in October with the baby’s arrival. Then there’s balancing how much we can physically get done ourselves, costs and what we can live with even if it isn’t what we’d have chosen to do with the house (hello turquoise carpets everywhere that are in too good a condition to think of replacing lightly).

As always happens, we knew there were a few things we wanted to do before we moved in, and we discovered a few more once living in the house for a couple of weeks. Some are plumbing and builder type things, and a lot else seems to involve painting everything white and debating the merits of super expensive wallpaper online.

So this is the start of quite a long journey of changes to the house, and I will update you on what we’ve done so far. But I thought you’d like a sneaky peek at our new home in the meantime!