Blah

I don't really read blogs anymore.  Occasionally I might follow a link I see on Instagram but not often. Do you read blogs anymore, or have they had their day?

When I started blogging (7 years ago!) it was to document my our days.  As a way to keep our memories safe, to record all the little things which signposted our lives. 

But now I feel torn. Brodie is 9 now and in a few years will no doubt be taking his own part in social media.  Is it right for me to keep including him here?  Should I ask his permission?  

I suppose this is why in part, posts are few and far between these days.  I've used the kids as my writing material for so long I'm not sure if I have anything else to say.  Or have the confidence to say it.  I still have lots of photos to share though.  And a preschooler who is far to busy with dough to pay attention to me.  As an aside if you know little children Djeco dough is the best ever.  We usually pick it up in Waterstones. 

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Cups

There are 50 odd draft blog posts on my computer. There are 56784 draft blog posts in my head. I always have the best ideas when I'm about to fall asleep but I'm far too lazy to sit up and put the light on and record it in the beautiful (empty) notebook I keep by my bed.

I am so out of the habit of blogging - and taking photographs that it feels odd and uncomfortable to do it again. Yet here I am. The urge to write it down and perhaps get it out? Is insistent. I have 4 half read books on my bedside table beside that notebook. And a stack of unread, unopened magazine subscriptions. I have a queue of knitting projects I'd like to start before the kids outgrow the patterns. Baxter still doesn't have a quilt to call his own. 

If this sounds like a complaint, it's really not. It's a bit of acceptance that I have more than enough to fill my days. And when I do get time to read or knit or sew or blog or take photographs it's a real treat. Sometimes I get everything on my mental to do list ticked off so I reward myself with some time to do one of those things. Sometimes I feel the need to ignore the to do list and let myself off the hook and pick up the knitting until the school run rolls around or the kids find me. (They always find me, I love it really).

The notion of 'self care' needs re-branding. It sounds so indulgent and unnecessary. But to quote a well used phrase, you simply cannot pour from an empty cup. I imagine you probably already know that but do you really live it? For me, it's taken me a long time to realise that my cup is sometimes empty at an inconvenient time. Maybe I have lots to do, everyone needs something from me, the weather would be perfect for a walk, the ingredients for a complicated meal are going off in the fridge.  I've realised that part of the point of self care is that it needs to happen when you need it to happen - when possible. Some weeks things might seem easy - I might have some help at home from Greig, something to look forward to, a week when I should be feeling great. But it doesn't always happen like that. Sometimes those are the weeks I need to forget the washing pile, not empty the dishwasher, not plan fun days out for chlidren who are quite happy to play at home. And conversely sometimes the long hard slog of a week with no breaks don't weigh heavily at all.

I'm still working all of this out for myself. Experimenting on what makes me feel better when I'm worn out. I know that I need to eat a lot of vegetables and drink water. So boring but so true. It helps to exercise, sometimes to the point of sweaty exhaustion, sometimes more gently, sometimes with the heaviest weights I can lift. A bath with posh bubbles. A half hour with coffee in a quiet house. A cuddle on the couch with a little person all snuggled up. Phoning a friend. Cleaning out a cupboard. Finding a way to make an everyday task more efficient or just feel a bit more special. A face mask followed by a fancy cream. Abusing the husband's Amazon Prime to order a new book to add to the pile. A Pilates class with my friend P. A solo library trip - actually a solo anywhere trip, dentist, Tesco, Royal Mail sorting office................

 I feel like I'd like to ask my real life friends how they recharge their batteries or fill their cup or (yack) self care. But that's weird isn't it? It's so personal to each of us. One person's joy is another's idea of a chore. But if you felt inclined to leave me a comment you'd be indulging this nosey parker.

If there was ever anyone to teach mindfulness it would be toddler. In pyjamas at midday. Wearing a cozy hat. Reading a giant pile of books in bed. Whilst your responsible adult watches but is not allowed to help. Nailed it.

I was taking these photographs of Baxter as he was busy. He was still busy so I set the camera on his chest of drawers, focused on my chair and set the timer. I'm not sure what I was hoping to capture - the world's least glamorous self portrait? Wet hair, no make up, mum outfit.

Baxter started to tell me a fantastic story with hand actions and my camera caught my reactions. There is something about these photographs I love. It's me as my children see me as of ten as I can be. Not being self conscious. Not hurrying or worrying. Just doing what we do. Taking care of each other and hopefully, at least a little bit, taking care of ourselves.

Shorty. It's your birthday...........

Turning 36 was good. The sun was shining. I made it to 36 in one piece and largely unscathed by the ravages of modern life. I'm just glad to be here with so many wonderful people here both big and small. I'm also happy to eat frozen Toblerone cake.

See I even took a picture to commemorate the passing of another fantastic year.

They are all so lovely no?

I feel like I've made peace with my birthday which I appreciate is a strange statement to make. They always made me feel a bit melancholy. I think it's common for children of divorced parents to feel a bit displaced on 'special days'. I always had a sense that I was missing something or wasn't in the right place or just felt a bit off. I didn't want a big fuss but would be childishly upset if no-one made a fuss of me.

But now I have three little people who love having a day of celebration and it would take a heart of stone not to join in with their exuberance. 

Were you and I to have a chat on any normal day I would possibly moan about the little things. Whinge about the work. Prattle on about why there are never enough hours in the day. But I hope what you would hear would be how fortunate I am. The blessing of a house to clean, of food to cook and children to squeeze.

This life is the one I hoped was in front of me as I grew up. Being the middle of a noisy, messy, glorious family. A partner who I truly consider to be the best human being I know. And a small but amazing network of friends I know are always there. Yes indeed. 

The wrong side

Today was just an ordinary day. Nothing exceptional happened. Normal stuff was the name of the game.

The only difference was my all day, long lasting, deeply pervading, utterly foul mood.

This is how it happened. I woke up. I went about my day. The universe conspired to be as annoying as possible. I got annoyed. The more annoyed I got the more I thought about what a twonk I am. And eventually I came full circle and laughed at myself. Which is nice. I think this might mean I'm a grown up now.

I had to return a pair of stupid jeans to a stupid shop. When I bought the jeans I bought one pair of blue and one pair of black. Same style, same size, different colour. Thinking I was making a fantastic decision which would save me time and hassle. I only tried on the blue pair. The black pair didn't fit. I couldn't live with the resulting muffin top so they had to go back.

That's what started the terrible mood.

After getting lunch for the littles I tried to squeeze in some weights. Got changed. ( Hate getting changed into workout clothes, such a waste of time). Laptop ran out of juice before I finshed. Bah.

Realise I should clean the bath as it was still full of grass from last nights bathtime. The other parent in this family bathed the offspring after they'd been rampaging through freshly cut grass but didn't think to clean up the resulting mess. I could have left it but everytime I entered the bathroom the little storm cloud above my head would have grown a smidge.

Realise I've forgotten to marinade the chicken for tea. Do it in a hurry. Chop vegetables in a hurry. Get mad that eating healthy food requires so much bloody planning and shopping and chopping. All the chopping. Hence the hurry.

Drag hoover outside to clean car because I cannot bear it one second longer. It is really so mucky inside I'm a little ashamed. But quite proud when it's clean again. For at least an afternoon right?

Get mad that poor Baxter has a sore bum again. He really seems to have the most sensitive skin on his booty.

Welcome husband home actually laughing at my own ridiculousness.  Life is funny isn't it? The things that get us down and preoccupy us. I'm glad I don't have many days like today. And that I have some lovely bright pink macaron (thank you!) and the Great British Sewing Bee to watch.

Photos from the weekend when I was considerably cheerier:)

 

 

So that was April

The news I know you've all been waiting for. I bought a pair of dungarees. I have failed to wear them out of the house yet but I will!

I logged on to the old bliggety blog this morning and realised it's been a whole month since I've posted which might be the longest time I've not blogged since January 2011 when I first hopped on this train.

There's a whole host of reasons why, which you may or may not be interested in but I'm hoping to get back into writing here more regularly and keeping our family album up to date. Does anyone out there actually have a family album filled with printed photos?

I wrote last time that Whole 30 has been a huge change in my life. It has changed food, meals, shopping and more around here. I think it's sparked change in other changes of my life too. I'm trying to be more deliberate and conscious about all the stuff.

For years now when people ask me what I do I explain apologetically that I only work one day a week and the rest of the time I only at home parent my three small children. So I decided to stop doing that because it's rubbish. I work very hard when I'm at work and I work very hard when I'm at home, no apology needed.  And I do it this way because I choose to. This way what I earn contributes to our family finances rather than pays for childcare. This way I get to do most of the school runs and I get to spend as much time with my children as I can whilst they are young. I get to colour and paint and dress up and Lego everyday. I am making memories and shaping little minds. No need to be sorry about that so I won't.

I suspect people think that at home parents have more 'free' time than parents who work outside the home. I don't know who's right on that one I just know that while my kids are awake my time is spoken for. If I'm not actually doing, reading, changing, feeding etc I'm cleaning and preparing for what's coming next. Go me.

But I also know that even when no one 'needs' me I feel like I can't switch off. There's always something I could (should?) be doing. As a result I don't feel like there was much time left for me to choose what I want to do. Or there wasn't and that was making me crankier and grumpier than I needed to be. And no one was going to sanction that time for me so I had to take it myself. The one thing I do have is flexibility. There are a few times in my day when I need to be in a certain place at a certain time but the rest of the stuff I do I'm free to do anytime I please.

So I decided to change the way my day happens, to fit things in here and there, to prioritise some things over others and to see how I felt.

I felt like I had the food thing much more under control. I also know I wanted to fit exercise in to my daily life. Not just moving around - I already do a lot of that - but dedicated, committed breaking a sweat exercise. I want to be a good example and I want to feel fitter and healthier. It's that simple.

I signed up for Beachbody on Demand so that I could work out at home with my laptop. I completed 60 days of the Insanity workout. It was hard. Making time for that was hard. Missing other things to do that 6 days a week was hard. Working out at 9pm on work days was hard. But would you believe it worked? I'm fitter for sure and now I really want to continue. I've created a new habit which I wasn't sure I would manage. I don't want to recommend the Beachbody route specifically because it's definitely not for everyone. But I would recommend making plans to do something for you and sticking to it come metaphorical hell or high water. I'm excited to see what happens next.

Baxter has dropped his morning nap so I usually try to exercise when he is sleeping at lunchtime. That means for the 40 minutes or so I'm doing that Grier is more than likely watching television, sometimes drawing or playing. And I feel guilty about that but this is the easiest way for me to get it done and still be able to keep on top of everything else. 

So that's my long winded explanation of why the blog has dropped off the priority list for a while. I would like to find a way to make a little space for it but we shall see what happens. I feel like we all deserve a little time and space to do more of what makes us happy, don't you?

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