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.

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!

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.

img_4432

– 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.

August, already? 

July has whizzed by at a quite scary rate. Home after our long trip, there has been much catching up to do, both with friends and starting to do stuff on the house for the first time in ages. As a result life has felt pleasantly busy and full, without seeming too manic. I have also been starting to look towards the end of my maternity leave in September/October, and have been  discussing plans to return to work on a part time basis. Simply because I feel like I’m counting down towards the end everything has obviously sped up.


Felicity is becoming more fun every day, learning new things all the time and properly interacting with everything around her, which is a joy to see. We’ve spent lots of time outdoors in the glorious recent weather, and she loves her paddling pool. She has even started napping in her cot (rather than on me or in pram, sling or car), it just seemed to happen one day and having around two hours to myself is amazing. It’s also made her happier too as I can get on with things whilst she naps rather than her getting bored whilst I do the things that have to be done like ensuring we have some clean clothes and food to eat. It’s also made me more relaxed about sleep at night as I just have to have faith that, like naps, it will just suddenly click and get better. Fingers crossed naps are a fixture for a little while at least, as it will help when she’s at the childminder as well.

I had a bit of a freak out when going to meet our lovely childminder for the first time, at the idea of leaving her and whether she will be OK. It was all a bit illogical as we’d talked and talked about the right thing for us as a family and decided this was it. Logically I know it is better to start her at the childminder earlier for a very gradual introduction to the new environment away from home. Everything I’ve read says it’s best for her to have a really gentle handover, to ensure she’s comfortable before I leave her alone for the first time, but at the same time it feels like I should still have two months, not be thinking about ‘abandoning’ her already. Aside from these wobbles I’m actually looking forward to getting back into the swing of work so everything is crossed that she settles quickly. The two times we’ve been round to the childminders she’s been off harassing the older children without a backward glance, so hopefully that will continue.

Our social calendar has calmed down, with only one wedding and a Christening since my last catch up post(!)It has been the most lovely summer of celebrating friend’s happiness. There is also the perk of getting to go on mini breaks in nice places – most recently York. Sure I’ll talk about this in more detail at some point (when I get caught up with all the other travel posts I want to write…)

Wandering round York was also a chance to catch some Pokemon – yes I sadly wanted to be in on the latest craze. I tend to have limited attention span for these things but wanted to understand what Will was on about – I swear I had five minute conversations with him where I had no idea what he was on about until I started playing too. I have to say in terms of seeing the effects of it out and about I have never known any – I guess you could call it cultural – event like it. Once you get your eye in you see people wandering around slowly staring at their phones and doing the characteristic upward swipe all the time. Or saying random things like ‘there’s a growleth somewhere around here’. It might all be some distraction tchnique and the world is about to end while we’re all too busy trying to catch cartoons – but at least it’s something a bit happier right?!

As it’s July 2016 I also have to mention – the new Harry Potter play scripts have come out! I have just reread all the books again so it was very exciting to get a new part of the story. I was also incredibly lucky we were heading back from York so I had a car journey to read it in, I was sure I would never get the opportunity to read it in a day, as I did with all the novels, with Felicity rampaging about. Long car journey whilst baby napped saved the day though. I did enjoy it although it isn’t as good as the main seven books (no spoilers here beyond that!), the play itself must be an amazing spectacle though so if you’ve got tickets you are in for a treat, and I’m jealous!