Our little miss has started playgroup. Playgroup/preschool /nursery whatever you prefer to call it, 2 mornings a week LM is now in the care of some lovely childcare professionals.
I’ve known the day was coming for a while as our local playgroup take them from age 2 1/2, but then it has suddenly snuck up on me. With being away on holiday last week we have been away from a normal routine, then on his first day back at school today, Monkey has gone on a farm trip (his first proper school trip which is a big enough deal in itself), then he got a bad cough on Sunday and was quite poorly so I wasn’t 100% sure he was going.
So last night lying in bed I was suddenly thinking about the fact that my little girl, my baby, was starting preschool the following morning. It’s not like we were completely unprepared for it. She had her trial before the Easter holidays and loved it. We’ve been reading “lulu starts nursery” at bedtime and talking about how she would be going soon and she has been excited. I just don’t think I fully processed it until last night. So I had all sorts of dreams, dreams where we were late, dreams where she was upset, honestly all sorts.
But of course this morning dawned and all was fine. We weren’t late and she was excited to wear her playgroup t-shirt. She adored wearing her backpack too!
We took (a much less poorly) Monkey to school for his trip then walked over to the playgroup. The ease of the location in relation to the school is one of the reasons for choosing this playgroup. It makes pick up and drop off so easy but also means a lot of the friends she makes here will go on up to school with her. One of her friends (who is actually about a year older) already goes here and I think that helped this morning.
We arrived and LM went straight in with no fuss. She sat down to play puzzles with her friend then we said we were going. We gave her a kiss and she waved us off quite happily with a “bye mama. ”
It did feel odd walking away without her but I have known for some time we were both ready for this. I got home and did some exercise and some cleaning and pottered about. There are always tonnes of things I can keep myself occupied with for a couple of hours. It was lovely though, too, actually. To have the house to myself. Some time to myself. It’s not like I’ve never had that, since Monkey was born, but it certainly hasn’t been a regular thing. Now it is. Now I get to have 2 mornings a week to myself, and still have the rest of the time with my girl.
I picked her up and they said she had been a star. She hadn’t been upset at all! Yippee! She played with her friend a lot of the time, but not all and took herself off to play with others and on her own too so that’s nice. It’s lovely she has her friend to play with but also that she isn’t dependent on her, if that makes any sense.
It’s the first day so I know there could be upset to come but I’m so pleased of how well she did and so proud of her. Love my fierce and independent little lady so much.
I love to travel. I’ve travelled the world (literally) and can get quite itchy feet in between holidays so am always planning our next adventure. Much as I do like a bit of a relaxed holiday from time to time, I do prefer a bit of an explore. Hubs isn’t great at sitting still either and with active kiddies we, in general, prefer to be out and about a lot on our holidays. We have been abroad with the kiddies but we love our UK holidays too. There are some stunning places in the UK, and our recent holiday took in one of my favourites, the Lake District.
It’s been a bit of a cheeky one as it is in term time. Monkey isn’t yet 5 so as he’s not yet of “compulsory school age” we can get away with doing it without getting a fine. As the timing worked better for my parents, and little brother and fiance to join us, we decided to do it. Plus of course it was much cheaper.
We rented out a lovely, and very large, cottage for the 8 of us in Lakeside at the south western edge of Lake Windermere. I have been to the lakes a few times before and just love the lakes and mountains.
In short we’ve had an amazing week. I will write some more posts about some of the specific places we’ve visited over the next few weeks but on the whole we’ve done so much! Here’s a brief rundown (with tonnes of photos, obviously!)
We’ve seen a castle and an aquarium.
We’ve been on a boat trip up Lake Windermere, visiting Ambleside and Bowness along the way.
We’ve been to Beatrix Potter’s cottage, Hill Top and had afternoon with a gorgeous view at the hotel next door. We’ve been to the Claife viewing station on the edge of Windermere and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead.
We had a day close to the cottage, with a nature trail and adventure play area followed by a yummy lunch at a nearby hotel, before taking an amazing walk through the stunning woods opposite our cottage.
We visited Coniston and Tarn Hows where we saw some stunning waterfalls and amazing scenery before stopping at the Bobbin Mill to learn how bobbins were made. (This was actually fascinating and the tour was much more interesting than I thought it would be!)
Finally we visited another lovely castle with the most amazing gardens I have possibly ever seen, and a lovely wild adventure trail.
So it has been a busy but amazing week. We have seen and done so much… and yet we’ve barely touched the surface in terms of things to do up here.
It was my birthday at the weekend, and it was a very lovely birthday. It’s difficult as you get older, to know how to celebrate your birthday sometimes. We thought about having a big bbq with friends and family round but in all honesty I couldn’t be bothered. I do love hosting things like that but it is a lot of work and actually, for my birthday, I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to relax instead.
So on Saturday I left hubs with the kids, and popped down to London to see some friends. I was armed with a picnic and hoped the weather would be kind as I headed to Greenwich Park. As it turned out the weather was perfect, warm and dry but not too hot either, and I had the loveliest day with my girls, just sitting doing nothing but chatting. It’s so rare to do something like that and I enjoyed every second.
I was home by 11 so it wasn’t too late a night and wasn’t too hungover the next day for my actual birthday.
Thankfully LM slept in for us that Sunday Morning so I had a relaxed start with tea and presents with hubs and Monkey. I had a nice hot bath and got ready while hubs sorted a picnic for our day out bluebell hunting.
One of the things I love about having my birthday at this time of year is that it is very much bluebell season. There are some woods not far from here that I have visited regularly over the years, but this year I wanted to try somewhere new. I saw that Brampton Woods were supposed to be nice, and are only about 20 minutes away so thought we would try there.
Uncle Mark & Auntie Fran came with us and, well, we weren’t disappointed. Almost as soon as we entered the woods we were greeted by some beautiful bluebells.
I had read online the best spot to find the bluebells so we headed in that direction and wow it wasn’t wrong. There were bluebells as far as the eye could see, it was stunning and everything I had hoped it would be.
We spent a while larking around and taking pictures and just enjoying the bluebells, then had a lovely little picnic before carrying on exploring the woods.
There were areas in the woods where it almost looked like it was showing, or like we were in a misty swamp or something as there were fuzzy spores everywhere. Think like the seeds from a dandelion clock, but everywhere!
We spoke to one of the rangers and apparently it is the spores from an aspen tree. Normally they get washed or blown away but because it has been so dry recently they are just gathered together. So it’s very unusual but was kind of cool and felt pretty ethereal. Even during our picnic there were spores flying around us, at points it felt like ash falling in the scenes from Avatar after “home tree” burned down. Even though it was quite cool I was glad to be in the non fuzzy areas again as it was just everywhere and it felt like you were breathing it in!
We had great fun and it is a lovely wood as it is so diverse, with open areas and ponds as well as the more dense woodland areas.
We had a lovely day and it was just perfect for my birthday
The Easter holidays are over and I honestly can’t believe how quickly they have flown by. We’ve had lots of ups and down but mainly ups, thankfully, and lots of fun as a family while Monkey was being off school, so I thought I’d share a little run down of our adventures over the past couple of weeks rather than trying to write separate posts about what we got up and what is going on.
I’m going to start with the negative first as there has been a bit of a shadow cast over the last couple of weeks that I’ve hinted at but not really talked about. Deep breath, here we go. My amazing aunt was, very sadly, and shockingly diagnosed with cancer just before the start of the holidays. My aunt, who is the fittest 70 yr old I can imagine, who treks all over the world. She came back from a trip to Sri Lanka in February and got a cough. The cough got worse so she saw the Dr, they did an x ray and referred her to a chest specialist. It got worse and they got her in for a scan. The scan revealed an aggressive tumour in her lungs, another on her spine and cancer in her liver and kidneys. This all happened incredibly, incredibly fast and it was hard to catch our breath. They started radiotherapy, then she lost the use of her legs and was admitted to hospital. The speed this has happened has been mind-blowing and there’s obviously been a lot of sadness and coming to terms with things. We don’t know what the future holds exactly but we so know that she probably won’t be with us into her nineties as we had hoped previously.
I’m not going to go into it more than that, and it may sound like I’m being cold and matter of fact but that’s the way I have to handle it. My aunt is an amazing lady and she is positive and upbeat and we have to be the same on her behalf. And I have to live my life. Below the surface I am obviously incredibly sad but I can’t let that overwhelm me as I have the kids to focus on and to think about. We’ve explained to Monkey that she’s poorly and the Doctors are trying to help and that they may not be able to. And that is how it stands at the moment. I’m sure you can imagine that this has dominated the last few weeks for us so I couldn’t talk about our Easter hols without mentioning it. Well I suppose I could, but I didn’t want to.
Moving on to the lovely things we have been up to during the holidays. It got off to a brilliant start with some tree climbing for our Monkey, a lovely family bike ride and some gruffalo spotting while enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. Sadly that Sunday night our Little Miss had croup. It was nowhere near as bad as she has had previously, she didn’t have the wheeze (that they call stridor) just the horrible bark like cough. She even slept ok, while Hubs and I were awake and worrying for half the night! So we had a quiet day on the Monday as her cough thankfully became more normal. Hubs took Monkey to work with him which he loved.
On the Tuesday, hubs had some time off work so he came on a bike ride to our local country park with us which was really lovely. The kids had a whale of a time in the sand and water play area there and we had lunch together in the café. That evening my stepdad popped over for tea that evening as my Mum was down in London with my aunt.
That night I drove down to London to see my aunt and my mum. Hubs and the kids had lots of fun together the next day with another cycle ride and café trip
I was feeling pretty drained on the Thursday after the trip to London but we had previously arranged for a day out, going on a bear hunt, at our local country park. The kids loved it, though Madam did have a major tantrum (as she wanted to go to feed the ducks while we were on the trail so couldn’t) which I struggled to deal with with everything that was going on, though thankfully I had a very good friend there who supported me through it. She did get over it and once I explained that the bear was just a man in a suit, she liked him, and she loved the journey back on the little train, so all ended very happily.
On Good Friday we did a couple of errands, one of which was looking at bikes for Monkey’s birthday next month. We were planning on just looking but there was a fantastic one, which was on offer over the holidays, and because only the display model was left available we got an even better price for it, so we couldn’t resist. It’s bigger than we thought we would get, with 20″ wheels, but Monkey is so tall and the smaller ones just felt like he would grow out of them so fast. It is much bigger and heavier than his previous bike and while he is fine when he is riding it, he did start off with lots of wobbles when he was standing up, starting or stopping bless him. My older brother came over that afternoon so Monkey loved showing him his new bike and we all went out to help and encourage him. We also did a bit of Easter baking on the Friday, with Easter nests and some Creme egg brownies, yum!
The Saturday of the Easter weekend was a beautiful day and with rain forecast on Easter Sunday we did our little easter hunt then instead. Monkey loves a good map so I made a little map for the kids to follow. We tend to just give the little eggs, and this year we gave them some little troll toys too (they aodre trolls atm). They get so much choc from all their relatives so they don’t need much from us! That afternoon my little brother and his fiance came over too.
Sunday was a roast dinner for lunch at my Mum’s which was lovely and another little Easter egg hunt there. Monday we had Hubs’ family over, including his aunt and uncle from Yorkshire for a lovely bbq. I didn’t take many photos but that afternoon we went back to Hubs’ brother’s house and the kids loved playing with their cats and tortoise including giving the tortoise a bath!
Tuesday was a quiet day for the kids and I as hubs took my parents down to London to visit my aunt in the hospital. This kids and I pottered at home and went on a bike ride to play on the play area. We also had a bit of a princess party which you may have seen! The kids were so good and it was nice to have bathtime fun with them as that is normally hubs’ time with them.
Wednesday we visited one of our favourite farms with friends and had such a lovely day. Just so full of fun and probably the fullest day I’ve ever spent at the farm so there was a tired Mummy and children that night!
Thursday was nice and chilled and we saw hubs’ parents for a play in the morning and just had a little play on another local play area in the afternoon. My phone also broke on Thursday which was just a pain, then when I took it into be repaired I was persuaded to upgrade as I only had 1 month left on the contract instead. So apologies for the pants pictures at the play park here, they were taken on a temporary phone.
Friday was at the park with friends in the morning, testing out my new phone. (more to come on that in a separate post) and we had a fab time with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. That afternoon was at my Mum’s house for the afternoon for some snuggles and hot wheels fun.
So there we have it, 2 weeks went by in a flash! As mentioned there were definitely ups and downs but on the whole it was really lovely. My house is a tip though so I’m ready for Monkey to be back at school, no matter how much fun we had!!
10 years ago my life was very different to the way it is now.
10 years ago I had a failed engagement behind me and no clue what I wanted to do with my life after deciding a career in TV wasn’t for me after all.
10 years ago my father had recently committed suicide.
10 years ago I didn’t really know who I was or what lay in store.
10 years ago I packed my life up and headed off on a worldwide adventure.
When I say worldwide, I do mean worldwide. Over the next 12 months I visited 19 different countries and slept in goodness knows how many different places. I did a skydive, a bungee jump and a canyon swing. I got over my fear of snorkelling and even went diving. I climbed mountains and glaciers, took helicopter rides over waterfalls and the Grand Canyon. I slept in the bush in Australia and the freezing cold mountains of Canada. I walked the Great Wall and saw the sun rise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia and at Machu Piccu in Peru.
I started my adventure with my Mum in New York then I continued solo from then on. There were wobbles along the way. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was away and I so very nearly came home. But thankfully they caught it early and she insisted I stay while she was treated. I still carry guilt about that but have to be glad that all ended so well.
I had my wallet stolen and my back up credit card cloned in South America leaving me with only the kindness of friends I met until I could have a replacement card sent to Australia . And boy did I meet some wonderful people. Some of us met up again for New Year’s eve in Sydney that year and I have met up with so many of them time and again over the last 10 years and I hope that our friendships will last a lifetime.
It’s hard to reconcile that year with the life I have now. Now I’m a mum and am responsible for 2 tiny humans. I wouldn’t change that for the world, but my travels and experiences are things that I am incredibly proud of. I can’t wait to return to some of these places with the kids when they are older to share it with them and the hubs.
My Monkey turns 5 next month, I’ve been a SAHM for nearly 5 years and a blogger for a little over 4 years. And in all honesty I’m not sure how much longer that I will be either of those things. I have loved my time at home with the kiddies while they have been small, and my blog has been a real lifeline for much of that time. Connecting with other mums, sharing thoughts and ideas. Sharing the updates about my beautiful children. Sharing the downsides and hardships of being a SAHM and sharing my postnatal depression.
I’ve had ups and downs with blogging but for the most part I have loved it. For a while though, that love has been waning. I’ve struggled to give it the time and energy my blog really needs to be successful. I’ve stopped minding whether it even is succesful, and have just carried on sharing as and when I have felt like it.
I still have ups and downs. Days and weeks where I seem to find more time and more inspiration and resolve to do better to give more attention to my blog. Then I have days and weeks where I just can’t be bothered, to be honest. So I wonder how long to keep blogging… And I don’t really know the answer.
As for being a SAHM, as I mentioned above, it has been wonderful… But I don’t love it as much as I once did. I feel somehow wrong admitting that. I’ve been so lucky that I have been able to be a SAHM, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. LM starts preschool in a month, just a couple of mornings a week, but both she and I need that time. As we gradually increase her time at pre-school, my plan is to start working part time in some capacity.
The truth is I need more now. I have raised my babies at home with me. I have taken pride in their achievements and seen many of them as my own too. I taught them to count, to recognise their colours, to be kind and for the most part we’ll behaved. That’s been my job. But I feel I need something other than being mummy. This isn’t going to happen over night as there are many things to consider but I think my days as a full time SAHM are limited.
I think that may be one of (many) the reasons my love for the blog is waning. It is called Becoming a SAHM… if I’m not going to be a SAHM anymore… What do I do? Change the name and the whole purpose of the site?
I’m not completely ready to hang up either Cape quite yet. There are some more things I would like to blog about (having one of those weeks I mentioned before, where I want to do it again) and a couple of PR things to complete, though I’m not sure I’ll accept any more. Apologies to anyone who has emailed recently. It is hard enough to find the time and energy to write things I want to write these days, let alone writing things for someone else.
We managed to do quite well this month getting family photos. First up was on our day out looking at snowdrops at Easton Walled Gardens, I love this shot!
Then hubs for this lovely selfie of us in front of the lions at Whipsnade Zoo.
We also got some other fab photos of our extended families which I thought I’d include as they we don’t all get together very often, let alone get good family group shots, yet we managed one with both sides of the family this month! First up, hubs side of the family, with Granny & Granddaddy, his brothers, Uncle Simon, Uncle Andy, and Auntie Julie, and us of course
Then on a trip to the farm at the weekend hubs got a shot of my side of the family, Nanny & Pops, my big Bro Paul and his wife Ericha, and my little Bro Mark with his fiance Fran.
So it really is a lovely round up of nearly all our me and mine!
If you’ve ever read my blog before then you probably know that I love taking photos. I’m not an amazing photographer or anything and probably never will be, but I love taking photos. I love capturing the moment and the memories that are contained within photographs. I love that in that frame, a moment of truth and reality is stilled and can be kept forever.
My dad always used to take a lot of photos and while endlessly posing for the camera did my head in as a kid, I always adored looking through our family photo albums. Oh and we had hundreds. I mean literally, hundreds. Every photo my dad took would go into an album. We would have 7 or 8 films (with 36 exposures of course) for one 2 week family holiday and it all went into albums.
Since things have gone digital of course none of us think anything of snapping away, taking hundreds of photos in the blink of an eye without really thinking about it. But what do you do with all those photos? Do you share them on social media or on a blog? Do you go through the pictures you take and label each with a title so you can find them easily? Are they backed up online with thousands of photos with random file names making it almost impossible to find a specific picture ever again?
Because physical photo albums were always so filled with happiness for me as a kid, I have tried to carry that tradition on a bit. Not quite to the extent that my parents did, mind you. Instead of multiple albums per year I am trying to limit the amount of albums. Squeezing 1-2 years into one album to try to keep the amount of physical albums manageable. So, how do I do it? How do I get down from the thousands of photographs that I take every year (and I do mean thousands, I recently found a folder on the computer with 10,000 photos taken in the last 6 months) into a manageable amount that be squeezed into half a photo album?
Well, it takes some organisation.
We have online storage (currently one drive though we have used Google drive and Livedrive in the past) and every photo we take on our phones are automatically uploaded via WiFi, then downloaded onto our home computer and laptop. I then try to routinely organise the folders from my camera roll into other folders. It is easier if I do this frequently, I have left it months before and it is a daunting task at that point! I tend to create a folder per year and then have sub-folders within for events such as days out, birthday celebrations, even a nice walk where I took a lot of photos.
In the past I have just moved every photo from a specific event into a folder “to be sorted at a later date” but this year I am really trying to only move in the best pictures that are really worth keeping and then deleting the rest as, seriously, there are so many photos! I also have a subfolder specifically for photos of Monkey and LM. I am often snapping them painting or playing etc and I love to keep some of those pictures of them too even though they don’t fit in to a specific event category.
Then, every 6 months or I so, I look back through the folders and copy my absolute favourites into another folder, in preparation for making an actual photo album. I do this in a couple of goes, going through them again to weed out ones that are too similar and keeping the best, or funniest, or ones with a story to them, and making sure I have shots with family members and friends included too.
The actual albums I prefer are the ones with big self adhesive pages. I’ve never been a fan of slip in albums as all the photos have to be the same way round, and there isn’t any freedom in terms of getting lots of photos into an album. With slip in albums you can fit so many photos of a particular size into the album, and that’s it. With self adhesive albums there is more freedom.
I’ve always loved a nice collage. Even back in my uni days when I would get my films printed out, I would cut up my photos and do each page of an album as a college. I like to think my collages now are a little more sophisticated but the idea is the same. Getting as many pictures onto one page of an album, as possible. I’ve tried a few ways of doing this over the years, but I think I’ve found the nicest way to do it. I create collages using pic monkey (always a blogger’s friend) and have the collages printed out. I have a big collage with about 14 photos printed onto a 10×8 print, and small collages of 2-3 photos onto 6×4 prints and can just squeeze one big print and 2 small prints onto each page, with a bit of trimming taken into consideration.
I know this is a lot of pictures on each page, and for some it would be too crammed… But I love it. I love being able to see lots of shots per page and for me having more pictures per page means fewer albums in total, taking up less space, which is important to me. I then use some little coloured sticky tabs to add notes to the pages, just to give a rough indication of dates, locations, and at the moment, the kids approximate ages. I love being able to look at a page and immediately see, right that was June 2016, Monkey was just 4 and LM was 20 mths old.
It takes a lot of time and effort to do all this, but for me it is so worth it. Do you organise your photos? How do you do them? Do you have physical albums? Or digital ones? Or you scrapbook? I’d love to hear how you do it. For me, I am have started the task of organising photos from July-December to last year and am enjoying the process of creating my next photo album, so my word of the week, is, albums.
I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and I thought I would explain why. It is largely because I have finally got back into doing my crochet! I did loads when Monkey was little but after making my Granny square blanket I set my needles aside. Then LM was born, and well I haven’t picked them up again, until now. So my word of the week, is Crochet.
Hub’s mum has a gorgeous ripple blanket I always admire and I have loads of wool hanging around so I thought I would have a go at making my own. I have to admit that after a long break I could not remember at all how to crochet. The first evening involved a lot of false starts and head scratching and you tube watching! But once I remembered how to do it, I was on a roll. I’m following the fab tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24, though using different colours.
It was slow going on the first evening!0
One of the reasons that I have chosen to pick the needles up again now, is because I have also started a new diet, and doing the crochet keeps my fingers occupied so I am less likely to stuff my face of an evening!
Now, I know that I wrote recently that I am who I am, and that I was going to stop trying so hard to change myself all the time. Now, I do stick to that and I know I am never going to be super skinny or lose my curvy shape. I am trying to be kinder to myself in all areas. But, and there is a but, the trouble with the “I’m happy as I am” philosophy is that it can sometimes lead to a change of a different kind. As in the scales moving up, kind of change, and that’s not what I want either. So I needed to make a change.
A good friend of mine is a big advocate of the 5:2 diet, where you fast (only eat 500 calories) on 2 days of the week and then eat a normal amount the rest of the week. Now a normal amount isn’t the same as what I was eating before, believe me. So anyway I decided to give it a try.
I’m finding the fast days pretty easy to manage so far, which surprised as I thought I may get really hangry! I still have eggs for breakfast, a big bowl of soup for lunch and a carrot and a little hummus later. It’s not loads but it seems manageable.
What has also happened is that I have really paid attention to what I normally eat. The amount of food that I hoover up off the kids plates, treating my body like a human dustbin, with the argument “I don’t like waste” when really it is pure greed. So let’s just say that even on the non-fasting days I am eating a lot less than I was!
It’s been 2 weeks and so far I haven’t really lost any weight (possibly due to a rather boozy night in london last weekend) which is demotivating. I’m really not a patient person at all, and especially with diets. After Monkey was born, I went on a diet and lost quite a lot of weight, really easily to be honest. It was brilliant. Since LM it has not happened that way at all. Every pound lost has been hard-won and put back on almost immediately which has been hard. I know that in truth I’ve given up too easily each time, so I am determined nor to give up this time.
Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??
There are bound to be ups and downs and I need to find a balance between enjoying myself on the rare occasions that I go out, and not berating myself for that…. But also expecting that that will slow down my progress. I have to stop comparing this weight loss to the diet of a few years ago as clearly my body is different now. As a slight aside I was reading a really interesting article (I know, I know, apologies that it is from the Daily Fail, but it is interesting!) the other day about diets based on the bacteria found in your gut, as there are bacteria that are super efficient at extracting every calorie from food, and other bacteria that are less ‘good’ at that so help you not to gain weight. Fascinating and a reminder that we know so little of the way our bodies work and the reasons things are different for different people.
I’m not about to get my poo tested though, so for now I’m just going to stick with the eat less and move more philosophy. And to help with that, crochet in the evenings or whenever I am tempted to eat out of boredom rather than hunger!
I have to admit I am rather pleased with my blanket so far, a long way to go but it is really getting there, LM seems to like to it too… Though Monkey is moaning at how long it is taking to finish haha.
Do you find it harder to lose weight than pre children or as you’ve gotten older? Any hobbies that help you?