Taking a blogging break…

It was an exhausting end to the year. With both girls ill over Christmas, it wasn’t quite the holiday I’d imagined, although the magic and excitement of it all helped to buoy us up.

I was relieved to get back home, ready to start 2015 as I meant to go on, working on our family resolutions and getting us into new routines and habits, enjoying family life together.

Well, that hasn’t really worked out so far either as I’ve been laid low with a horrible bug – and I mean low, as it’s left me feeling stripped of much of my usual optimism. We’ve been in survival mode. I haven’t left the house for a week. The house is chaos, we’re even more tired and stretched than ever (if possible!) and I can’t work up the enthusiasm for anything really. It’s hard to shake a virus off when what you need to do is crawl into bed and hole up there for a few days but what you get to do is, at best, sit on the sofa and persuade your very energetic three year old to watch TV all afternoon! I’m feeling very thankful for preschool this week!

Anyway, it’s got me thinking about how, sometimes, something has got to give. And not just during actual illness.

We’ve been spread thinly since BabyGirl surprised us with her early arrival. It feels like we’ve been on the back foot ever since. Hospital stay for jaundice. Long hospital stay for scary virus. Bad sleeping habits. Illness ridden Christmas.

When I take a long, honest look at where we are and, importantly, where we want to be, I realise that there isn’t room to do everything. I have to let something go.

That’s blogging, for the moment. I don’t have time for writing posts, adding images, getting on twitter, joining linky parties and all the other bits and bobs. As much as I enjoy it all, when I’m feeling squeezed it actually becomes another pressure point. Another thing on the to do list. Another thing to feel fed up about for not being able to do properly.

Except I can take it off the to do list. The world isn’t going to stop spinning. It doesn’t even mean forever. This realisation has been a slight epiphany for me. It’s my blog, so who says I can’t stop doing it for a while?! So what if the stats suffer a bit? There are no important consequences to me taking a blogging break, so that’s just what I’m going to do.

If I get the odd five minutes, I may tinker around with the layout a bit. If I get a real urge, I may even write sporadically. But I’m not going to try to keep up with posting etc because I feel I ‘should’. I’m going to have a little holiday for a few months and give myself time to do the things that need doing at home.

So, it’s farewell for now. I’ll hopefully be back with new stories to tell in April/May :)

Our family resolutions

There is something so enticing about the start of a new year. Another twelve months lying ahead, fresh and full of possibilities. I find it energising, even with the knowledge that it may not live up to it’s promise!

Making new year’s resolutions is all part of this for me. A great way to think about what I might like to improve or do but I don’t beat myself round the head with them if they don’t work out.

Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it

Over the past couple of years, however, I’ve felt that I want my resolutions to make an actual difference to my life. Last year, rather than my usual, vague ‘be more organised’, I attempted to break this down into some specifics. Knowing myself as I do, this was more than a little tongue in cheek… A year down the line and I can’t honestly say I’ve stuck to many (any?) of my Project Get Organised goals. But, when I stop to think about it, I really am surprisingly becoming a more organised person. I’m no Martha Stewart (she’s organised, right?) but I’m encouraged by this progress!

This year, I’m approaching my resolutions slightly differently. Now ToddlerGirl is three, and with the arrival of BabyGirl, I’m noticing some reoccurring themes in the challenges of our everyday lives. There are aspects I’d really like to change for a smoother home life.

The husband and I have had a few (snatched) conversations about what sort of family we’d like to create. Happy and loving. Fun. Calm. Strong. Kind. Healthy.

Some of that is easy! Other areas need a bit of work, so we’ve come up with a selection of family resolutions to help us along the way. This post is something of a memo to make sure we remember the things we want to work on!

Our family resolutions

1. Be more organised
The old standard! But we have come to realise that being better organised really does improve our family life. Who knew, eh.

2. Shout less…
This is hard to admit but both of us have been yelling more since ToddlerGirl hit two and a half and really started testing the boundaries. I don’t want to be a shouty mum.

3. Be more patient and parent more positively
Linked to no.2. It can feel like we are constantly telling ToddlerGirl off and overusing the word “don’t”. She absolutely needs boundaries and discipline but I want to find some different ways of doing this that aren’t always so negative.

4. Allow more time
This is a big trigger for stress. I’m such a last minute person and definitely need to  learn to allow more time for most things – leaving the house, cooking, doing the boring essentials etc.

5. Be kind to each other as parents
We’re pretty good at this but it’s easy to be short with each other or bicker when we’re tired (so all the time right now!) or ToddlerGirl is testing our patience.

6. Create some one on one time
This is mainly for me and ToddlerGirl. I’m sure it makes the hard bits harder when you don’t get that quality time together and I miss doing things just the two of us sometimes.

7. Be healthy
One for me and the husband… We are both consuming way too much sugar and junk in our sleep deprived state. I really don’t want it to take as long to lose the baby weight this time.

8. Get more sleep
Ha! But we’ve slipped into ‘getting by’ mode, with BabyGirl downstairs until late and me cosleeping. This isn’t going to change unless we start doing things differently. It’s important as a lack of sleep is the single, biggest stress point for our family right now.

9. Make the changes we need to
As above, we all too easily fall into ‘short term gain for long term pain’ rather than vice-versa and often find ourselves going over the same ground with no progress, so we need to prioritise just getting on and doing things.

10. Calm the house down
ToddlerGirl is so incredibly active! This, coupled with things like our lack of organisation, means our home environment is often loud and chaotic, something I’ve really noticed since BabyGirl arrived. There’s a time for noise but also for quiet, and we need to learn how to calm things down a bit!

So, those are our family resolutions. Our next step is to find practical ways to translate each resolution into real changes, so I’ll keep you posted on how we’re getting on as we tackle the different areas! Wish us luck…

Do you make new year’s resolutions? Are they for you or your family?

Looking back, looking forwards

With Christmas done and dusted, the tail end of the year is always one of contemplation for me. I can’t help but run through the past twelve months, my own internal ‘year in review’ show!

Reflections - looking back, looking forward

Most years have their ups and downs but 2014 stands out for two reasons in particular:

1. It’s the year we said goodbye to my gran, somebody I was very lucky to have in my life for so long, who adored watching her great granddaughter, who sadly never got to meet great granddaughter number two. I’ve thought about her a lot these past months and especially so this Christmas time, when I’ve wished she could be here to see how grown up ToddlerGirl is getting, to chat with her (my gran was always a great one for talking to), to see what an amazing sister she is being.

2. And it’s the year we said hello to our BabyGirl and became a family of four. With her early arrival and our scary three weeks in hospital, not to mention all the usual adjusting to life with a newborn, it’s been an intense few months. But such a privilege to have our second daughter in our lives, with her funny little ways already.

It’s also been the year that ToddlerGirl grew from, well, toddlerhood into a proper little girl. It hits me every day at the moment how much she is growing up. There’s been a very clear transition from two to three, a huge amount learning and change – for us as parents as much as for her! I’m so proud of her, even amidst the exasperating moments (threenager, anyone?!).

Pregnancy, family holidays, highs, lows, little everyday stories and activities I would have forgotten if it wasn’t for this blog. Another year rolling by. They really do seem to go more and more quickly these days.

And so to 2015.

This is the one where I turn 37 and cannot deny I have hit my late thirties. Crikey. I’m not sure how that happened, particularly as I still think of myself as somewhere around the 30 mark! I always thought my late thirties were some far off point, one in which we’d all be in, I don’t know, flying cars or something.

(Actually, 2015 is the year Marty Mcfly travels to in Back to the Future II, so I would at least expect some hoverboards!)

I don’t know what I once thought I may or may not be doing at 37, apart from having robots at my beck and call, of course. But, at the beginning of this new year, I’m feeling happy with my life and excited about what’s coming next. And that strikes me as a pretty good place to be starting the next twelve months from.

2014 in blog posts…

My personal favourites:

Your favourites (according to the stats!):

Top five ‘activity’ posts

Top five ‘parenting’ posts

Twas the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house / Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

Well, that wasn’t quite true in our house earlier, with a hugely excited three year old and a somewhat bemused baby!

But our Christmas Eve preparations have been completed.

We’ve listened to Kipper’s Christmas Eve on CD, read a Nativity story and enjoyed some Christmas music.

We’ve sprinkled sparkling, magic reindeer food outside so Rudolf and friends can find their way here.

Father Christmas has a mince pie and satsuma left out as a snack for him.

‘Santa Stop Here’ signs, with each of the girl’s names on, have been hung on their doors.

And, very importantly, the stockings have been hung on the end of their beds.

ToddlerGirl has done all of this most carefully. The earnest expression on her face, tinged with a bubbling excitement, has just been so adorable. BabyGirl has watched it all from our arms and it feels like we are really beginning our family traditions for Christmas this year, the little things that make it so magical and that the girls will hopefully remember into adulthood.

We’ve been plagued by illness in the lead up to Christmas unfortunately, so I’m off to bed early myself and will no doubt be awake for many of the wee small hours with BabyGirl, as I have been all week!

But even illness and sleep deprivation can’t take away from the magic of Christmas Eve with my little family.

And I’ll be sure to keep an ear out for the distant jingle of sleigh bells when I’m up with BabyGirl…

Christmas baby play

Let your baby explore Christmassy items for festive sensory play

Christmas sensory play for babies

I’ve been doing lots of Christmas activities with ToddlerGirl so I didn’t want to leave BabyGirl out! She’s been enjoying watching her sister as always and I’ve been involving her when we read our Christmas story books and have some festive sing-a-longs. I decided she might like to get a bit more stuck in.

As she’s loving tummy time at the moment, I found some festive items to lay out around her while she was on her mat:

  • our Santa stocking, which feels amazingly soft
  • a toy snowman
  • a colourful Christmas book, open on an interesting spread
  • some sparkly tinsel
  • some jingle bells

These items were all for exploring under close supervision only.

Christmas sensory play for babies

She loved stretching her arm out to touch the Santa stocking, which is very tactile. She then spent a lot of time studying the book and trying to get hold of the bells. Of course she was trying to reach everything to put it in her mouth!

Having a variety of items in front of her gave her an interesting sensory experience, with the colours, textures and sounds of these Christmassy items proving to be fascinating! There was lots for me to talk to her about and the objects were obviously enticing enough to encourage her to reach out for them  and even attempt to move towards!

Christmas with children

I love Christmas – and that has nothing to do with the presents! (Or maybe only a little bit…) The decorations, the music, the food and, most of all, the family time really do make it the most wonderful time of the year for me.

But it has become extra special since having children. Our first Christmas with ToddlerGirl was so exciting – even if, at four months old, she had no clue beyond gazing at the pretty lights and shiny wrapping paper! – and it just keeps on getting better each year.

Now she is three and I have a feeling it will be the best yet. She knows all about Santa Claus and his reindeer, loved decorating the tree, and takes opening the next door of her advent calendar very seriously as we count down to the big day. The anticipation is already at fever pitch!

We’ve also been enjoying lots of festive activities, such as a trip into town to see the lights and Christmas market, a visit to an amazing grotto and a drive by to find yet more lights. We did all these things last year but it was definitely more for mummy’s benefit then! This year I love how she really ‘gets’ it and it’s brilliant seeing it all through her eyes.

Today, we had a Christmas sing-a-long at her preschool.

It was the first time she’s been in anything resembling a ‘show’ and I was so proud to be there. Not because she did anything outstanding; pretty much all the children looked a bit bewildered as they were shuffled into place and sort of sung the Christmas songs, probably wondering why all the grown ups were beaming at them! But it marked a real milestone as I realised it was the first of many shows to come and that my baby is growing up fast. Suddenly, she’s a proper little girl, taking part in sing-a-longs and everything!

The children all looked so cute in various festive headgear, ToddlerGirl sporting a reindeer headband. She went a bit off piste with the actions, attempting to coerce another girl to dance around in their own little circle! But she made an excellent reindeer at the front of Father Christmas’s sleigh for the finale, a very enthusiastic Jingle Bells. She held onto the reins, shook them vigorously to sound the bells and even added in some pretend trotting – what a performance! I had the biggest smile on my face watching and a wee tear in my eye.

BabyGirl adored every minute, straining forwards on my lap as if trying to hurl herself right into the middle. She had nearly as big a grin as me!

We still have a couple of parties to go to before heading to stay with my parents for the main event. It’s safe to say I just can’t wait! With it being BabyGirl’s first festive season and with ToddlerGirl throwing herself into the celebrations, I think Christmas 2014 is going to be one to remember.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Tripping the Christmas lights fantastic

There are many things I love about the festive season but seeing all the beautiful lights and decorations is a real favourite. Once the big switch on happens in town, you know that Christmas is coming soon!

Tripping the Christmas lights fantastic

Since having ToddlerGirl, I’ve started a new family tradition of heading into the city centre to look at the lights before going to dinner all together. Last year, this was mostly fun for me, with ToddlerGirl semi interested in it all. This year, though, is the year I have been waiting for. Now she’s three, she’s really enthusiastic about all things Christmas. In fact, we have one incredibly excited little girl on our hands – and it’s only the beginning of December! I admit I’m probably partially (er, mostly) to blame for that…

She absolutely loved our trip to look at all the lights, not least for the novelty of being out and about in the dark, which is usually equated with bedtime. She found it very strange to see so many people around, asking wonderingly: “Why is everyone out at night?!” It was only 5pm of course but it obviously felt very late to her!

Christmas lights

First, we wandered through the lovely Christmas market, which sits in the grounds of our cathedral (although ToddlerGirl doesn’t accept that and insists it’s a castle!) and has a warm, cosy glow after dark. With ToddlerGirl perched on her daddy’s shoulders, there were lots of interesting stalls to stop and look at. Mummy particularly enjoyed sampling some chocolate wine, with some not so subtle hints to the husband that it would make a great present!

Then we set about spotting as many lights as we could, finding them in all shapes and sizes: strung along the streets, twinkling in trees, hanging like icicles from shops… Some were brightly coloured, others wintery whites and blues. It was a festive dream! Our favourite find was a huge canopy of white lights over the main street, although a long line of Christmas trees, decorated by various charities and schools, and some giant baubles came a close second and third. It was a brilliant family outing, finished off by yummy burgers and thick shakes for tea.

Christmas fair

We had our second festive fix at a local Christmas fair this weekend, where the entire road was closed off and crammed with market stalls. The shops spilled out onto the pavement and there were delicious smells and tempting treats everywhere. The lights had a more traditional feel, with small Christmas trees sticking out over the shop fronts all the way along the street, although we also spotted a couple shaped like reindeer. We found a small fairground ride for ToddlerGirl and stopped to enjoy the brass band.

The street was heaving and it was lovely to see the local small businesses doing so well. I got the last of my Christmas shopping done, feeling smugly organised as the husband hasn’t started his – until I realised I’m the only person he needs to buy for!

Our two trips out have been the perfect way to begin the festive season. I’m not done hunting down Christmas lights, though. Now I’m looking forward to our annual drive by to find the best decorated houses in our area. Obviously by that I mean the ones crammed with the most novelty lights…! ToddlerGirl will love it.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


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