16/09/2014

how to make time for yourself when you have a toddler



I am an expert on this subject. I was born to write this post.

The answer is unless you are blessed with a baby Jesus type child (as apparently my darling husband was when he was small), you are fucked! Yes you are. Add a small person to your life equation and you have one seriously big fly in the solitude ointment, peace might as well be a small town in Alabama with a toddler running around your house.

As an introvert I feel this pain more than most. I absolutely have to spend some time all alone every day otherwise I go completely bat shit crazy. The times are too numerous to count when I have just handed over the baby baton to Darren as he walks in the door from work and scurried up the stairs to the soothing calm of the darkened bedroom leaving him alone to deal with the chaos queen and her bag of intrepid toddler magic.

Single mothers I salute you.

I am eternally grateful also for the famous toddler nap. Betsy still naps, Betsy loves naps. Long may the napping continue. God bless the nap. All hail the lunchtime nap.

Fully two hours of time alone every single day and it is heavenly, I literally am in love with it. I can tidy up, eat some food, do some yoga/reading/crochet/knitting/writing, have a poo all by myself (only those with toddlers know this joy), drink a full cup of coffee, watch something other than Team Umizoomi on the telly and sometimes I will just sit there and be; drifting off, spacing out, unplugging for a bit.

Spacing out is one seriously underrated pastime.

The trick is to really, really enjoy the little parcels of time you get alone. Whether it's a sneaky wee whilst everybody crazy shakes (she loves that Umi shit) or the chance to crochet a row whilst food is being devoured, own that time, flood it with love potion and you'll be on the right track.

When little smellbum wakes up from her lunchtime nap the fun and fury begins all over again but I've got my mojo back, I'm loaded up with coffee, carbs and tolerance and letting chaos reign ain't no big thing.

Just don't ask me what I'm going to do when the napping stops!



ps. illustration by the amazing saskia.

06/09/2014

back to school


Yeah, me and my bro circa 1970 something or another....evidence, if evidence was ever needed, that I have always looked slightly evil and menacing...Darren is seeing a distinct similarity between me and Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining! I'm inclined to see his point.

Back to school is the theme for today, this week, this month, for obvious reasons. My girl isn't old enough for me to get stressed/excited about uniform buying, how to make a school cardy last a whole year or whether to buy the Dora or the Hello Kitty lunch box. Instead I'll share my excitement of the season via the medium of blog because there must be more than a few of you who also love that whole new pencil case, new shoes, change of season back to school feeling?

I still do and it has been twenty six years since I left school, the excitement doesn't go away, I might be quite insane.

The difference in the air from summer, still nice but with a cooler edge always makes me think of the long drive back to boarding school every September, full of excitement with new shoes on and a school bag loaded up with pens, pencils and all manner of pretty stuff ready to be swiped, destroyed and lost over the coming weeks and months.


Hundreds of us would arrive back at school slightly dazed at how quickly the summer holidays had gone but stupidly excited at seeing one another again, immediately slipping back into old ways and alliances, happy to be free from parental supervision and boredom.

Now I no longer get shipped off to another world, I still find September to be a productive and busy month after the long, lounging days of August. I feel all ready for action and set myself a new timetable for getting shit done. Not quite so easy with an almost two year old who requires plenty of amusement pretty much all day long and who laughs in the face of plans.

I've got lists about lists, timetables and action plans, I am an all round geek and organiser of stuff - mundane and inconsequential for the most part - but that's the point for me, making the mundane a bit more colourful.


I have a filofax for organising life, a filofax for organising blog stuff, my phone organiser, a business book, a journal, a writing book and a calendar on the kitchen wall too - it's a full-time job to keep my organisers organised, says she with mock disdain.

Now I just need me some lessons to go to, a new PE kit, bad haircut and Clarks shoes. I will then be suitably prepped and ready for the new school year.

02/09/2014

the last few august photo challenge pictures


I did it. I completed a photo challenge and am suitably amazed because I'm usually such a lazy arse about these things.

Occasionally, and more often than is acceptable to my self-imposed, often ridiculous high personal standards, I'll start projects and then get bored halfway through; can't be bothered, forget, fanny about doing other things, procrastinate and since having a baby, who I swear sucked all the brains out of me, am unable to summon the mental energy required to complete the most simple of tasks.

Argh some days were definitely harder than others, the selfie day was the worst, I hate the shit out of them bitches. I wasn't keen on the jump day either, tried to get a shot of Darren jumping and it was an epic fail, or the my guilty pleasure day because I don't feel guilty about my pleasures cos life is way to short for guilt isn't it. Yep.

Anyway my favourite picture is the last one. Me and my love.


For soft, well there isn't one thing softer than this gal.


Nature excited me so much I took two pictures. One of an apple tree that we walk past every day on our afternoon walk that Betsy is obsessed with "apple, apple, apple, apple, apple" soon as we get to the apple and I hold her up to it so she can touch it, she freaks out, her head turns away and "you do it mummy" hmm.


Then this moment presented itself in the park. Too good to miss and dog photo bombed as well, brilliant.


That's me done then. I completed the challenge and am well pleased with the results and with myself. What I love most is that it provides a snapshot of my life in August 2014 that I will treasure forever.


It shows my life, how I'm living right now; all toddler, dog, toddler, husband, writing, toddler and a smattering of pretty stuff. I only wish it hadn't taken me this long to getting round to doing a photo challenge. Probably just make it an annual event though, still lazy.

28/08/2014

sharing summer with a one year old



It has been the best summer ever has 2014.

How ace that I got to spend it with my gorgeous, growing girl, we've been busy feasting off the full cupboard of life, romping in meadows, skipping through daisies, that kind of thing.

It is quite safe to say that Betsy has had the greatest summer a one year old could have, technically she has been 20 to 22 months so a bit older and more able to enjoy doing summer stuff, I know non-parents hate us saying "she's 22 months blah blah blah" rather than she is one but there is a massive difference in a 12 month old to a 22 month old so deal with it.

She has become a pro dog walker and swing swinger, proficient in French, lover of tarte aux framboises and in possession of the most amazing bouncy ball collection and summer wardrobe I've ever seen (thank the lord for h&m and her aunties Vicky and Emily). I love her dresses, skirts, patterns, pinkness and brightness, I'm gutted it's all going to get packed away and won't fit next year. She has a quite unique style of her own, in the way that toddler girls do, a combination of bizarre hat choices, upside down sunglasses, a bracelet obsession and her habit of carrying a bear with her wherever she goes.

erm nothing to see here, move along
She loves walking, which is a good thing given that it's the main thing that we do and given that we have a giant dog to exercise regularly. It's our 'thing' is walking, we walk mornings, we walk afternoons, we walk up the road, round the park and if stopped by the evil that is a rainy day (you have to be a parent of a toddler to appreciate the bad juju a rainy day brings), we are flummoxed, stumped, bored, left twiddling our fingers. She is quite tall and very slim even though she eats enough pasta to sink a battleship most days, I think all the walking burns what she eats off, not to mention the running ("race you mummy"), ball kicking ("you kick it") and Tilly chasing she does.


She loves Peppa Pig (what kid doesn't), her wellies, her mama and her daddy, Bruno and Bunny, apples, sleep, chocolate buttons, blueberries and yoga, man does she ever do a mean downward facing dog. She happily goes down for her nap at twelve, sleeps for two to three hours and then happily goes off to bed again at seven, she loves baths, showers, swimming and colouring.

bunny and bruno are swingers
She does not like being off routine, gets all confused and grumpy, she doesn't like jelly, giving kisses or having her nappy changed when she's had a pooh (?), she is fierce and independent, confused by ice lollies, not cuddly in the slightest, chatty, polite and full of energy. I love everything about her.


She has a curl that kills me every. single. day. I love it, it's the most commented on thing about her, the killer curl. Sometimes I'm half tempted to cut the gorgeous thing off and keep it in a box for a forever memory but it becomes her, it's her statement, her gorgeous, lovely statement so it remains and maybe one day there will be more curls and I can cut one off and not feel like I'm snipping a little piece of personality away.


I'm sensing a pink theme, are you sensing a pink theme? We like pink in this house.


What I will say about sharing summer with a one year is this. I am knackered, we are knackered. We are like her servants, following her around and providing for her every whim, she is exhausting because she is so full of energy and life. I feel bad sometimes that I'm so old and so knackered, I would like to keep up with her but honestly the girl got some super strength life force going on and I'm struggling. I would like some sleep, I need some more sleep, have fantasies about sleep, I would sell a kidney for some sleep and she isn't even that early a riser so that tells you something about what it feels like to have a toddler when you're in your forties!

In conclusion I know I'm the lucky one, I know I have many more exhausting days and sleepless nights ahead of me but they are going to be so bloody worth it so I put my slap on to cover the bags, drink a gallon of tea every morning and just get on with my job.

26/08/2014

this shawl



Meet my 2014 summer holiday yarn project. I made this! I actually made this. I still can't quite believe that me, so clumsy and a bit fat of finger can manage to turn a ball of yarn into something as pretty as this.

This shawl has been on my 'one day' list for an age. I always quite fancied it, never thought it would happen though, there always seemed to be other things to do and easier projects to be getting along with. Plus I'm on a 'not allowed to start any new yarn projects until I've finished the bag of incomplete ones' year and so far I've been really good, purchased hardly any wool at all. Hardly. Any. Wool. At. All.




I had my eye on the pattern ever since it graced this front cover. You can see why I wanted to make it, how pretty?




To make sure I could do it, I swatched it (yes I swatched! I'm a goddam crochet hero!), this was to check I could understand the pattern (sometimes it's like reading Greek!) and to see how it looked. Well it looked nothing, NOTHING like the finished article in the magazine. In fact it looked a bit shit.



I was thinking that I'd completely buggered it, rampant thoughts of under achieving swirled around my head but I was reassured (by the powers of instagram!) that it just required the blocking of it's life. Block the hell out of it woman, BLOCK it like MAD!

Thus off I went to the south of France with my bag of silky yarn and every night I sat and happily crocheted (rock and roll), following the pattern like my life depended on it. After a while, a really long while (probably because of my excessive consumption of French red), I fell into the rhythm of the pattern and it became quite meditative, soothing, I didn't want the shawl to ever end.


But end it did, unlike other shawls I've made, this one is constructed long edge first so it is a set length, you can't make it any bigger unless you do the maths and start with a longer opening chain (too much brain work for me). I finished it on our last night in France and it sat in a bag for a few weeks while I plucked up the courage to block it.

I swotted up on 'aggressive' blocking and found out it means submerging the whole piece in warm water, wringing it out in a towel and then stretching the piece into the shape and size you want it to be. It sounds so harsh, too much room for error and I was convinced I'd bugger it up. Sometimes you've got to take the bull by the horns and just do it, so I did, fretted about it the whole time, even once it was all stretched, pinned and sitting up on the dining room table to dry.

Then tick tock, tick tock, waiting, procrastinating and pretending not to see it for a few weeks. Kept telling myself I had to make sure it was dry even though it probably dried that first day I did it. One day I woke up and knew that it was shawl reveal day. I faced the challenge, unpinned it, held my breath the whole time and after all that drama I needn't have worried at all, it came out lovely and I'm already planning another one in black.

The best bit of this story is that I've now got a lovely new shawl to wear. Brilliant.