A Long Overdue Post About Life.

Hi GUYYYYS.

(Occasionally I think I might like to film a video instead of writing a blog post, but then I come to my senses, so the closest I’ve come so far is starting my blog posts like a vlogger would.)

So again:

Hi GUYYYYS!

This is going to be massively self-indulgent and that’s coming from a woman whose blog title is her own name and nothing else. I make no apologies. Click away if you like. I thought I’d do a little life update because it’s been so long since I’ve blogged about anything other than books (and more about that below…)

So.

KIDS

Suddenly I’ve got a toddler boy and a girl on the cusp of starting school, which is strange. On the one hand I feel like I normally feel, which is that life is happening at twice the speed it should be and I’m watching my children unfurl into the adults they’re going to be like a sped-up film of a flower in bloom.

On the other hand, it feels like a very long time ago that my life revolved around Baby Things. In fact, we’ve just had a big clear out and I have very little Baby Things around nowadays.  The baby bath was replaced with a bath seat. The Moses basket and Next2Me cot (which, in the end, became little more than an appallingly expensive bedguard) were replaced by, you know, just a cot.  The muslin cloths got replaced by me not breastfeeding in public (or, occasionally, breastfeeding in public and just popping my boob out and hoping no-one noticed or cared).

(Also quitting breastfeeding didn’t really happen. I’m now doing what I never imagined doing, which is breastfeeding a child that has a) teeth and b) the ability to ask for milk. So that’s interesting.)

The sick stains on my tops were replaced by snot trails. (I wore a black top to toddler group the other day with my snotty child in tow. HUGE HUGE MISTAKE.) The mushy food was replaced with, well, mostly potatoes and pasta and cake (my toddler son’s top three foods.)

And so on. You get the picture. My little boy is growing up. He can say all of our names, and he can say ‘ball’ and ‘car’ and ‘shoes’ and ‘hair’ and ‘nose’ and ‘poo’ and ‘cake’. He can sing the Go Jetters theme tune and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. (Not with entirely recognisable words, but still.)

I love him more than I could possibly tell you.

Meanwhile, my daughter is determined to do everything herself, because she now sees her whole life as training for Going To Big School. I can now have proper conversations with her and she has genuinely interesting opinions (mostly strong opinions about food she likes or dislikes, or the amount of My Little Ponies she owns, which is apparently not enough and will never be enough.)

She spends her days setting up elaborate make-believe games, pretending to be a very bossy teacher, making up jokes, asking to watch YouTube and getting stroppy when I tell her no, dancing, trying to make everyone breakfast, lunch, and dinner, being pestered by her brother and being pretty gracious about it, and drawing people that look a bit like potatoes with arms and legs. (Also she likes to draw ticks. As in ‘correct’ ticks, not ‘horrible parasite’ ticks. She learned to do them properly recently and now she’s constantly marking her own ‘work’ as correct.)

I find out tomorrow which school she’s going to and I’m a jumble of nervous energy about the whole thing.

I love her more than I could possibly tell you.

So that’s day to day life with the kids …

BOOKS

I recently signed up to NetGalley, which essentially means I get to read new or not-yet-released books for free in exchange for a review. YAY! This is basically my dream.

However, I wasn’t sure I would be accepted to review so many nice new books, so I decided to apply for LOADS of them, just in case. Again, massive mistake. I’ve got a backlog of books so big that I actually feel stressed about it which is a nonsensical problem to have. One day I got eight ‘we’re-pleased-to-accept-your-application-to-read-our-book’ emails. EIGHT.

So that explains why I’ve posted about twenty book reviews recently and nothing else.

And when I’m not reading, I’m …

STUDYING

I post about this sometimes on Instagram, but I’ve started doing an access course with the Open University, which is cool. In October (fingers crossed) I will start my degree. So far I’m loving it and for the first time in my life I’m glad my teenage self was a total goon with no idea of what she wanted to do and no feelings of gratitude towards education. Nearly-thirty me has been waiting for a LONG time to do this, so I feel very very very grateful for the opportunity. Everyone is being really supportive (even though I’m technically spending thousands of pounds on an arts degree and not something useful and practical). Chris is being particularly excellent by proof-reading my assignments and putting up with me being really neurotic and stressy about it.

LIFE

Let’s see, what else has happened? My TN has been happening. Too much, actually. It sucks. I’ve been spending a lot of evenings either crying or clutching my cheek and dramatically shouting ‘I HATE MY FACE!’ whilst eating a lot of cake, which sums up my feelings towards it.

(I’ve just realised if you don’t know what TN is that’s a really strange image that I’ve painted. Oh well.)

I took a break from social media for Lent, which was interesting because I didn’t realise how addicted I was to it until I stepped away from it, but that’s for another post. I now see my phone as a kind of enemy to my happiness that somehow keeps appearing in my hand as if by magic.

We went on holiday with friends which was awesome. Also snow happened. The kids got to experience it for the first time (the verdict: exciting but far too cold.)

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Also we got a new rug and the novelty factor was so strong that we spent a few days just lying on it as much as possible.

Generally, though, apart from TN my life is really, really good and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude tonight now that I sit down to think about it.

Anyway. I’m so sorry, that was just stupidly long.

How have you been?

Safe danger, bobble hats, and other Small Things

We’re in the midst of Christmas mania in our house. The tree has been dragged from the loft (with caution, because of spiders). There is glitter on every surface. I am enjoying a small piece of low-quality chocolate every day after dinner.

Autumn came and went. The leaves that remain on the ground are turning into sludge. Sometimes, when we go out in the mornings, Jellybean shouts ‘IT’S A FROSTY DAY!’ and the journey to pre-school becomes a bit more exciting (for her anyway.) She likes seeing her breath.

I used to really love the winter. I loved the sharp coldness and the bare branches of the tree against a blank sky. I liked the frosty mornings. I liked seeing my breath. Now I have TN there’s a whole world of issues surrounding cold weather that have tainted it a bit.

I like autumn more now, for those last moments of warmth before the cold kicks in.

Time mostly slides by, but sometimes I catch myself in a moment and I think quick, take it in! and so I do; I just really look at things. I try to trust myself to file it away in my brain (but most times I cheat and write it down). There are little moments in life that you want to preserve in your memory forever, not because of their significance, more because of their present normality.

Like bonfire night.

We went for a walk with the kids (because tradition trumps pain-triggered-by-cold). Around the block a few times. And I had that moment. Quick, take it in!

I don’t want to forget the leaves backlit by a streetlight, rustling, casting shadows on us as we walked.

I don’t want to forget my baby boy in his bobble hat and coat. I don’t want to forget his little red nose and his pouty lips and his wide eyes and his chubby cheeks, still tiny in Chris’s arms.

I don’t want to forget my daughter skipping and fizzing with excitement at the sight of the moon and the stars, punctuated with the occasional surprise of a firework. I don’t want to forget her face as she enjoyed that thing that most kids enjoy: safe danger, the kind of exhilarating thrill that comes from being slightly closer to the edge of your comfort zone than normal, but at the same time comforted by the safe presence of your parents. I don’t want to forget her occasionally glancing in my direction, sometimes sidling slightly closer when a loud rocket made her jump.

I don’t want to forget getting them inside and taking off coats and shoes and scarves and hats and bundling them into bed, not because it was peaceful (because let’s face it, a rushed bedtime is not usually a peaceful bedtime), more for the happiness we felt when they finally conked out, snoring, undone by the thrill of a walk in the night.

Small things.

Sometimes the changing of the season reminds you.


Have you got any small moments from the last season that you want to remember? Share them with me … the writing of it helps to cement it in your brain anyway 😉

Further reading:

Adventuring, and other things we lose when we grow up

September: one year left before school

Linking up with:

September: one year left before school

So, it’s happening: you’ve started pre-school. You’re a September baby, so you’re starting at the grand old age of four. You’re my baby, but you haven’t been a baby for a long time.

I’ve always liked September better than January for new starts. I like the crisp summer days, the sense of possibility, the neat and orderly routines starting again. I like that last little burst of summer before the nights begin to draw in. I like September even more since you were born, on a muggy overcast day in a big hospital, where time seemed to swell and almost stop. It started up again at double speed from the moment air first hit your lungs.

This means that, this time next year, I will be waving you off to school. You will look tiny, despite probably being the oldest, in your shiny new uniform. Judging by my reaction to my niece starting school, a bafflingly long time ago now, I will probably be crying quite a lot. Not tears of heartbreak. Starting school is amazing and exciting and I’ve been looking forward to it. But tears of … longing? I suppose. Tears that come inevitably when one era ends and another begins.

Because what an era it’s been. I know it’s kind of uncool to say this, but you and your brother have changed me immeasurably. I’m not who I used to be. Becoming your mother has changed my life.

I’m not going to lie, it’s not always been easy. Having a baby is an incomprehensibly life-changing event. It flips your whole entire world upside down and when everything settles, your priorities are totally rearranged.

I gave up work because of you. I did like my job a lot, but I knew I couldn’t make it work. You were an anxious baby (to put it mildly). You needed me. And to be honest it was an easy sacrifice. I got to be your full-time, 24/7 watcher. I was (and still am) your gatekeeper, the one responsible for introducing you to our beautiful world. And I have loved every minute of it (well, almost every minute). I’ve watched, in astonishment, as you have learnt everything you know. Some of it taught by me and your Dad, but most of it just learned by yourself, as if by osmosis. I’ve rediscovered the beauty of the natural world, through your fascination with it. I’ve marveled at how complex and amazing human beings are. How quickly children grow and learn. I’ve watched your wrap your head around concepts like time, money, creation, and love. It all comes naturally to you – you’re a kid. You’re built to learn this stuff. But it’s amazing to watch.

You went from a tiny little 6lb 1 newborn, to a chunky, bald baby with a big beaming smile, to an adorable pouty-lipped toddler, to an intelligent (and sometimes, admittedly, infuriating) preschooler. You love to dance, and you do it with grace that astounds me and Dad (because where the heck do you get it from?!). You like … dinosaurs, and cucumber, Moana, and Paw Patrol. You have an imaginary friend named Amelia who accompanies all of our make-believe games.

I know you better than anyone. But I don’t know you completely. You’re not mine, you see. You’re just on loan to me until you become a grown-up. More and more, I don’t quite know what goes on in your head, because you are not an extension of me. You are you.

Next September, you will start school. And you will be spending much of your day away from me. This is exciting and scary and sad and wonderful.

We have one year left to go. One year of you being at home with me. One year of me and you getting grumpy with each other sometimes. One year of me trying to juggle keeping you occupied all day with also trying to write and look after your brother and keep the house from being completely filthy. One more year. After that, we won’t be as free to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We’ll be together, but on a more restricted schedule.

So let’s make this count.

Here’s to unbrushed-hair-and-pyjama days, where we leave the blinds closed and watch films and eat popcorn. Here’s to the weather growing colder, and reading snuggled under your duvet with a torch while your brother naps. Here’s to all the kinds of play I can think of in the tuff spot in the garden. Here’s to spontaneous walks to the park first thing in the morning, with the whole place to ourselves. Here’s to spontaneous walks to look for snails and insects and to gaze at everybody’s Christmas lights. Here’s to seed-planting in the spring. Here’s to random trips to McDonalds just because, followed by a run around Homebase looking at the pretend bathrooms and bedrooms and imagining that they are ours. Here’s to baking cakes because there’s nothing else to do. Here’s to making forts, playing shops, playing doctors, playing ‘camping trips’. Here’s to out-of-season holidays (amen!) and long, lazy, summer days where we get home sticky and exhausted and covered in dirt.

And for realism: here’s to days where we get grumpy, where sometimes we are poorly, where sometimes we are tired, where sometimes planned activities go wrong. Because we have plenty of those, right?

But I still treasure them.

Next September, I’ll be waving you off in your school uniform. You’ll be holding a book bag and looking small and fresh and new. I’ll be excited for you. Your whole life, stretching ahead of you, limitless possibilities, and I just have to watch in awe as you take it on bit by bit. Always here for you, always proud of you, always remembering the early years we had together, treasuring the memories we made.

Let’s rock this year together.