Why I don’t make resolutions.

I know I’m a bit late to the game here, we’re already into the second week of January (how did that happen???), but bear with me here.

I used to make resolutions. Big long lists of them. Usually ones about diets, or ‘how to be less fat’, more exercise, drinking more water, eating better, doing more meaningful things. Generally ways I could, and should be a better version of me.

Inevitably I would break those resolutions, one by one, and feel guilty and generally terrible about the fact that I had, again, failed.

As the family got together on the eve of 2015, as we do every year, I didn’t make any resolutions. Not because I’d had any great epiphany about them but because I’d forgotten. My mum loved grandmother had been rushed into hospital on Christmas Eve after aspirating a piece of Salmon, she’d been discharged on Christmas Day but she was still critical. I didn’t have the head space to think about how I was going to better myself through the following year. She passed away in early January and I grafted through the year dealing with the loss, graduating from University and getting married.

The family got together again, and together we welcomed in 2016. I didn’t think about making resolutions, we’d gone on holiday over Christmas – an attempt to distance ourselves from the events of the year before – and I’d developed a urine infection. I felt sick, achy and generally crap and all I wanted to do was eat lots and drink bubbly. As it turns out these were the first symptoms of my very surprise pregnancy, as I found out on the 2nd January. So any ideas that might have been lingering in the back of my head about weight loss went out the window. I started my new job, I worked hard, I finished and then I had my daughter.

Again we met to celebrate the change of the years, and saw in 2017 in the way we usually do. My daughter was four months old; honestly I think I’d forgotten that resolutions existed. We’d also travelled up to see Liam’s Nana, as she rapidly lost her battle with cancer. Last year was one of the most emotional and special I can remember, so many moments that I really do cherish and will remember for a long time. My daughter learned to sit up, to crawl, to talk and to walk. She turned a whole year old. I got a new job and have colleagues that I really like and I’m enjoying it. My husband also got a new job that I hope will bring him happiness. I made some fantastic friends, and hopefully these friendships will continue to flourish. We had loss too, my Nana-in-Law passed away early in the year, but I am thankful forever that she met and loved Pippin.

So, true to form we met again to celebrate the coming of 2018. My husband stepped outside to welcome in the New Year, as he does every year.

And I made the conscious decision to make no resolutions. I’d not lost anything by not making resolutions apart from a sense of guilt. A year is a long time and things can change a lot in a year, your priorities can change a lot in a year. This way I might decide to do something, and then actually give it up – no pressure, no guilt, no remorse. I just changed my mind. Life is too short to try and pin yourself to some ideal vision you have of yourself, just go ahead and enjoy it.

And have a fantastic 2018.

If money were no object: The play kitchen of Pippin’s (my) dreams

I had a hand-me-down plastic kitchen when I was little, and we played with it so much I absolutely knew I wanted to get Pippin one too. They’re so versatile and encourage imaginative play.

We used that play kitchen an awful lot. It was white plastic, with a little yellow fold out table and a plastic tiled work surface. It had seen a lot of tea making, mud pies and plastic food over the years and it had held up really well. But it was a bit ugly.

I remember reading about a play kitchen, it might have been in one of Louisa M. Alcott’s books, that had a proper working oven and was built into a bay window. That was the kitchen I wanted.

I’ve definitely scaled back my ideas since then. But if money really were no object I would be creating the play kitchen of my dreams for Pip, and living vicariously through her.

The base kitchen would absolutely be IKEA’s Duktig. It is a brilliant blank canvas to make something really one of a kind from, and there are some amazing hacks out there.

Ikea Duktig Picture Collage
Miss Audrey Sue // This Haus of Ours // Peachy Parade // Anchors and Honey

It would have all the pans, pots and casserole dishes: because you really can’t cook your pretend fudge without having the proper equipment.

 

Utensils and Cookware Collage
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

 

Of course, Pippin wouldn’t be doing much cooking if she didn’t have any food to cook with. So what she needs is some shopping. And of course it has to be wood, because I love wooden toys.

 

Basic Groceries.jpg
1 // 2 // 3

 

And lets face it. We all want a treat every now and again.

Extra Groceries Collage.jpg
1 // 2 // 3 // 4

So, two thoughts have now occurred to me.

  1. I’d need to take out a second mortgage to pay for all this, and
  2. Pippin’s toy kitchen is probably going to be better stocked than my actual kitchen.

Baby Clothes and Tears

We are really, actually really this time, on the final stages of the renovation. I could actually do a happy dance and I probably will when we get over the finish line.

My job for today was to start unpacking some of the many boxes of crap that we packed up on our retreat from the building site. I’ve made a little promise to myself that only things I love or we need will find places in our home again. I can’t be bother to have all the stuff cluttering up everywhere again, especially since the small one now has plenty of stuff of her own to take up space.

As Pip has moved up through the sizes I carefully washed and folded her old clothes, packing them away in boxes labelled by size. Lots of clothes, more clothes frankly than she has ever actually worn.

Why? I couldn’t tell you. After the trauma of having her, and the near certainty that I will develop gestational diabetes again meaning they want me under their care from pre-conception my husband and I have decided that we are one and done, as far as biological children go.

I don’t plan on having another pregnancy, and yet I’ve kept my maternity clothes. Something in me didn’t want to let go, and today as I folded the tiny vests and pairs of leggings I felt a really deep sadness. Maybe it is because I know we possibly would have more if circumstances were different. I don’t know.

So this huge pile of clothes will be working its way to new homes, hopefully to be used by new mums and babies. Which is admittedly a much better use for it than sitting in plastic boxes in my loft. I look at it that it’s good for the environment too, or something.

I know my husband feels sad too, he came and hugged me as I sat in a sea of soft jersey and tiny jeans. Our baby has grown so very fast, it is hard to remember her being so small.

I have kept some bits, hand knitted cardigans and some of my favourite outfits. I don’t know if that is silly or not, but I wasn’t quite ready to let go of everything yet.

Another thing struck me after I took this picture. I really, really have to stop buying her clothes!

What we did for Pippin’s Birthday

It has only taken me three weeks to write about what we did for Pip’s birthday.

As you’re only one once she actually had a four day long birthday spectacular, and I am pretty sure she loved it. I am also equally sure she had absolutely no idea what was going on at all.

I had been hoping to have a little party for Pippin and her friends, but the weather and the house renovation had other ideas. So we all got together at my friends and destroyed her house with cake and paint. Which was lovely, and they enjoyed themselves. Pippin’s particular trick is to stroke her friends faces whilst saying “awh”. This is what we taught her to do to the dogs. I’m not yet sure if she thinks her friends are dogs or the dogs are her friends…

 

On her actual birthday we took a trip to the zoo. It was absolutely boiling and very busy. But we had a really nice day, and Pip loved seeing all the ‘Ack Acks’ (Ducks), Dogs and ‘Oooow’ (Cats). Currently anything with wings is a duck, and cat and dog are used interchangeably for anything with four legs. She really liked the big dogs with a horn.

We then went to Zizzi’s for tea. We love eating there, it is one of the few places you can get a dairy free, gluten free pizza. They also do a children’s menu which can be adapted for allergies, and they even do a pasta and garlic bread for really tiny tummys. Of course she never wants her own meal and always wants mine, but the option is there at least. Allergy mummies, if you haven’t been already then I urge you to check it out.

On the bank holiday Monday we went out with family for a birthday tea and Pip had her second birthday cake. She put her toes in it, which is clearly what chocolate cake is for.

Then for her final birthday day she saw the family that couldn’t make it to her birthday meal and had her third birthday cake, and got more presents.

Birthday Photo Shoot with Milk and Cuddles Photography

For Pippin’s birthday I wanted to have some photos taken. I adore photographs, I love taking them, I love having them and I love looking back at them and remembering the time they immortalise, and when a friend shared the photos take for her daughter’s first birthday I knew I wanted Lauren from Milk and Cuddles photography to take them.

She didn’t disappoint.

We didn’t want to do a cake smash, and initially we were going to have a studio shoot that took elements of our wedding. But then Lauren suggested we go to Dunham Massey and it was perfect. We have been to Dunham quite a few times since Pippin was born, we’re National Trust members and we love exploring with her.

The weather wasn’t brilliant, and we nearly moved everything to the studio at the eleventh hour, but Lauren was really flexible and we pushed things back to the afternoon and, luckily, the rain held off. Although I did have to do some last minute outfit changes because the little romper I had picked out was a definite no go!

Lauren was divine with Pippin, she made her feel comfortable and I think she made a friend for life after presenting her with a pink balloon (or ‘Baaaaall’ as she calls them)! Pip doesn’t warm to people easily, but she acted like Lauren was an old friend, which led to some really beautiful photos.

Oh and she did all of this whilst being heavily pregnant.

My only problem now is picking only a few to put up around the house.

I was reading a few blogs, as you do, and came accross the concept of Zero Waste.

So, I want to be a bit more commited to looking at the stuff we throw away.

We used to be quite good, but then we had a baby. A baby who never sleeps and, quite frankly, somewhere around the fifth day my brain stopped functioning correctly. I’m never quite sure if I’ve remembered to brush my teeth, so actually getting my head around dealing with our waste output felt a bit too much to handle. Then my dad came round, and he took five bags of rubbish from around my house to the bin, and I was horrified. We’d gone from meticulously sorting rubbish to throwing away colossal amounts of rubbish and it felt grim.

Yet another thing that fell of the wagon when the baby arrived, and yet it was probably one of the more important things we could do for our daughter. Not only to help safeguard the planet that she will be living on, but also to teach her (and through her future generations) about the importance of minimising our impact on the planet (and how nasty landfill is, obv. We live near a skip company, if the wind is against us we can smell how nasty it is.)

Zero Waste Week was launched in 2008, to raise awareness of the impact on the environment of the things we throw away. It runs for one week in September, and this year it starts this coming Monday.

So we’ve made a pledge at No. 1: this week we’re going to attempt to cut down on the rubbish we put in our general waste bin, and hopefully go into our next collection without an overflowing bin.

We’re hopefully going to achieve this by:

  1. Bringing less packaging into the house.
  2. Making sure we recycle everything that can be recycled.
  3. Wasting as little food as possible.
  4. Making use of our green bin for what food waste we do have.

One year of Pippin

I didn’t think I’d feel so emotional about Pippin turning one. I was ok until I looked at the clock at 10pm on the 25th and had a vivid flashback to leaning over the windowsill on the maternity ward breathing through a contraction. An artificially induced one mind as the second pessary began to do its work. I wouldn’t be in full blow labour until the 26th.

I still don’t like thinking about the birth. It leaves me feeling a little sick, and I struggle looking at the pictures of those first few days, which is sad because I should have been happy. Birth isn’t always easy though, it can be traumatic for mum and baby. I didn’t expect to become a mum, and sometimes I still look at Pippin and can’t quite believe I am one, but I couldn’t be without her. I’m glad she unexpectedly appeared in our lives.

 

I feel like I’m writing a lot of sad things at the moment, and if I’m honest I am the happiest and most stable I’ve been in a long time.

It is hard to know what to write about Pippin. I couldn’t be prouder of how well she is doing, not just because of her achievements – but also because of her little personality. She’s bright and bubbly, she’s caring and happy and she’s independent and fierce too. She’s fearless, determined and loving. She delights us every day.

I can really put into words how I’m feeling. I haven’t found parenting easy, but I’m pretty sure it has made me a better me. Pippin has pushed me to do things I struggled to do before.

As a family we’ve had a lot going on over the past few years. With bereavements, and buying a house, getting married, graduating, having a baby and now renovating our house. These are big life events and in some respects it feels like I’ve not stopped.

I’m looking forward to spending the day with my two favourite people, and just spending time in the moment.

I am sad that it is going so quickly, but I’m excited about the future.

Particularly about the fact that she can walk!!!

Pippin’s Adventures: Dunham Massey, The Lost Carnival

I make no secret of the fact that I adore having a National Trust Membership. We’ve used it so much since getting it, and I like the fact that pretty much wherever we go we can find a wonderful place to visit.

So when my cousin wanted to do a meet up for Pippin’s birthday a Trust property seemed perfect, so we headed off to Dunham Massey.

Dunham Massey is an 18th Century House in between Manchester and Cheshire, with impressive grounds filled with deer and a beautiful Garden. It isn’t the first time we have visited, but it is the first time we’ve visited when there was an event on!

Currently the house has been transformed to tell the tale of the 7th Earl and his scandalous marriage to London Celebrity Catherine Cox.

Little Pippin was really getting some steps in wandering up and down the hallways of the house. She had great fun pointing out all the different dogs in the portraits too.

The garden’s are currently home to ‘The Lost Carnival’.

Essentially a treasure hunt, but filled with performances and fun. Including hula hooping, which I think the adults enjoyed more than the littles on our trip!

And we made sure to say hello to the ‘Ack Acks’ (for the uninitiated that’s my daughter speak for Ducks)…

Before heading to the café for tea and cake.

The Lost Carnival is running until the 30th of August, so you still have a few more days to catch it!

Pippin’s Adventures: Rufford Old Hall Barefoot Walk

I am pretty open about the fact that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was diagnosed when I was twenty, but it something I’ve been dealing with a lot longer than that. I think probably from around aged ten or eleven. It affects my life daily, and influences a lot of things I do.

OCD-Uk describe OCD as:

“a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.”

In other words, I get a thought (and it’s usually a grim one) and then I have a behaviour to deal with that thought. Usually the thought will go on, and on, and on and I’ll analyse and perform the behaviour. Then the thought comes back, and I’ll do it again. Then I’ll beat myself up and obsess about why I thought that in the first place.

It can be exhausting, and I am lucky that my OCD is pretty mild, and most of the time I can manage it these days.

So, naturally, when my friend invited Pippin and I on a Bare Foot Walk at Rufford Old Hall, I immediately began thinking about everything her little feet could come into contact with on the grass. I also just as quickly said yes. Bare Foot Walking is a form of sensory play which basically does what it says on the tin: you walk outside with no socks on and feel the floor.

I don’t like Pippin to miss out on any experiences because I don’t see things in the same way as other people, but the idea of letting her walk outside with no shoes felt a little bit sickening. But I packed up her bag and off we went to Rufford.

Rufford Old Hall is a five hundred year old property run by the National Trust, set in small(er) grounds that include and Orchard, Vegetable Garden and canal.

Part of the ’50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4′ the Bare Foot Walk was a series of trays with different materials in, so one had logs and pine cones, one had grass clippings, one had sand, one had cut up kitchen sponges (Pippin hated that one) and the last had water.

So far so good really. I could absolutely cope with bare feet in a contained environment of plastic trays.

Then we sat on the floor to picnic. The girls were bouncing off each other, crawling and walking off. Pippin was pulling up tufts of grass and putting them in her mouth, they tipped the pasta I had made for lunch on the floor, then tried to eat that.

 

Argh!

Floor pasta.

But I didn’t completely lose it, just removed the pasta from reach and we carried on.

As we left the Orchard I put Pippin’s little shoes back on to let her walk, my friend let her daughter go bare foot. Poor Pippin was desperately trying to pull her shoes off and let her feet go free.

So, against my OCD’s judgement, I let her.

Her little face when she put her bare foot into a muddy puddle was a picture. She whipped her foot out so quickly and stood on one leg. Then she watched my friend’s daughter splashing happily and she jumped in. She loved it, and I loved seeing her so happy.

Of course I gave her a lovely soapy bath when I got her home, but I did it. Allowing her to put her feet in that puddle was as big an achievement for me as it was for her to put her feet in it! And I couldn’t be happier that I let her have that experience.

 

 

 

Baby Birthday Guilt

I’ve written about mum guilt before, and I’ve felt guilty a lot before. I’m not sure I ever felt as guilty as when I realised that Pippin’s first birthday wouldn’t be spent in her own home, and wouldn’t be celebrated with a homemade cake and party.

Logic dictates that she won’t know, and it also tells me that if she ever realises that we didn’t throw her a first birthday party she won’t even care. I have no idea if my parents had a party for me, I’m guessing probably not and I’m pretty sure that hasn’t caused me any hurt.

I guess I didn’t expect the renovation to be going on quite as long as it has been, I thought we would be home in plenty of time for her birthday. It wasn’t to be.

I shouldn’t be looking at this as a negative though. Pippin has enjoyed spending time with her grandparents, and I know they have enjoyed spending time with her.

She’s also hit lots of her milestones whilst living here; she’s learned to cruise, and to say her first proper words. She can now also show you Mama, Dada and her toes when asked, which I am sure will stand her in good stead for the future.

Living in another part of our town has also led me to meet some new people, who I can now count as friends and their children are now Pippin’s friends too.

In the last few months we’ve moved from what was a quite difficult time in a house that wasn’t suitable, to a very positive future, and I know that Pippin’s second year of life is going to be filled with as much, if not more, fun than her first.

When we get back into our home it is going to be a safe and wonderful place for Pippin to grow up, and I’m excited for the memories we are going to make there, but I’m going to look back fondly at the time we’ve spent living here too. She may not have the homemade cake, or the bunting and party we’d hoped, but she will have a birthday surrounded by all the people who love her and I am absolutely sure that whatever we end up doing her grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousin will make it a lovely day for her.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin