Sunday, 30 November 2014

Things I'm thankful for - an honorary Thanksgiving list

So it was Thanksgiving this week, and although that's not something I celebrate, I love the sentiment. So instead of letting life rush by, I wanted to take a moment to be thankful for all kinds of good good things that I want to remember this week:

  • Hair. specifically Arlo's. Because he has grown his first little curl! It's right on the top of his head, and I know it to be very cute. After a year and a half of being a baldy, he's looking so grown up all of a sudden. (Exhibit A: this picture above that captures said curl. Bookshelf arrangement needs some work).
  • Sofas. New pink ones. After going on and on about new sofas (and specifically pink ones) for ages, we finally plumped for one. I never thought a new sofa could rock my world as much as this one has, but for the first time we can all three of us fit comfortably onto one sofa, which makes for for some very nice cuddle scenarios. Last Sunday we had a sofa marathon that included Wallace and Gromit, cheese on toast and comic reading, and it was the BEST. (Exhibit B: arm of said sofa peaking out in picture above).
  • The promise of the Xmas break. And not just for all the daytime boozing and pyjama wearing, but also for two weeks of all three of us off work and hanging out together, doing all kinds of family pursuits (i.e. daytime boozing and pyjama wearing). 
  • New music. Got this this week and we can't stop playing it. All kinds of nice play-while-you're-cooking type sounds.
  • Santa Claus. I had a realisation this week as I bought bits and bobs for Arlo's stocking: this year, I AM FATHER CHRISTMAS. It's our job to do the stocking thing now, and it's not a responsibility I'm taking lightly. I expect practice stocking 'stuffs' will need to be done to get the present order vs. lump ratio just right, because that stuff's important!
  • Lights. Seeing them pop up day by day in front gardens and rooftops as we get closer and closer to Xmas. God I love fairy lights. I love that they're decorations you put up for everyone else to enjoy, rather than yourself. Gives me the warm and fuzzies to see them twinkling away.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday I'm in love... with kid-friendly Xmas trees

OK, I apologise in advance for another Xmas post, there might be a theme developing here...

I have been having an internal debate with my own mind for the last week or so about this year's Xmas tree. I'm torn between two options. Either the usual massive, sparkly tree full of the baubles I religiously buy from Liberty every year (the Liberty Xmas room is as close to god as I get), but that Arlo will no doubt try and manhandle every minute of every day, OR a small, reserved tree up high somewhere that will stay in tact because he won't be able to reach it, but ultimately I fear won't be big enough to be a true physical representation of quite how much I LOVE Xmas.

What to do? For inspiration, I've been looking at Xmas tree alternatives that will be more kid-friendly, and good old Pinterest has delivered - what did we do with our spare time before there was Pinterest?!? All these festive ideas, and more, can be found here.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Busy doing nothing


Just lately I've been working a little bit more than usual. I'm not complaining - I love my job, it's good to be busy and the extra cash is VERY welcome four weeks (four weeks!!) before Xmas - but I've definitely noticed the difference. After a particularly long couple of days in London for work, a quiet day with Arlo and my mum was very welcome. We didn't do much in particular; a winter walk, park visit, trip across the river on the chain ferry for a spot of shopping... that's the best thing about busy work days - they make you really appreciate the quiet 'nothing' days.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Raincoats and red cups

We headed out for a walk last weekend on what was a pretty grey and drizzly Sunday. Alex and I picked up coffees on the way for the journey, and Arlo insisted on carrying one of our red cups round with him the whole way (empty of course - that boy has enough energy as it is!) Halfway through, the rain came, which was the perfect chance for Arlo to test out his new raincoat. Arlo's favourite part of the walk? Making friends with the dozens of dogs we met along the way. My least favourite part? The similarity of the woods to the Walking Dead set - I was imagining zombies lurking round every corner. Might have to stop watching that show for a while!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The sound of silence

I am sitting in a quiet house, being quiet. I would call it a silent house, but I can hear the sound of the rain tap tapping on the window outside, which is an even better sound than the sound of silence if you ask me. This is a pretty rare occurrence, due to Alex going out for the evening, and Arlo sleeping soundly upstairs. Usually I'm one for noise - radio on in the background all day long, TV on to fall asleep to, favourite albums on repeat when I'm working from home - but this evening I'm just really savouring the quiet. It's unusual. It's calm. It's really nice actually.

The pic above I took today, and captures another calm moment - watching Arlo and Alex feed the ducks / watching Alex try to stop Arlo falling into the duck pond. We're having a quiet family weekend so far - the most fast-paced part of our day today was building a den in the kitchen out of chairs and sheets and I plan on doing nothing more vigorous than that tomorrow either. Quiet weekends are the best.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Friday I'm love... with a wish list for Santa

By the way, it's nearly Christmas, in case you weren't aware? I usually get quite over-excited about the festive season anyway, but as this year will be Arlo's first where he *might* be able to get a bit excited about it too, I just can't wait. I've been looking for inspiration online this week to decide what to get him, and may have just bought one of the above things for him to find on Christmas morning. But I'm not going to say which, JUST in case he learns to read in the next five weeks...

one: I've been meaning to get Arlo a height chart for ages because he just seems to get taller and taller, and this one is really lovely

two: this is something Arlo needs probably more than wants, but the boy still doesn't have much hair and it's getting cold out there! These guys make the most amazing range of hats (and other knitwear) that I've just spent a good while pouring over. They're a) based in the US and b) pretty pricey as hats go, so it's fairly unlikely that Arlo will be discovering one of these under the tree, but really bloody gorgeous all the same

three: so sweet, and Arlo hasn't ever had a rocker before so I'm intrigued to see if he likes it

four: I love this Brio train set for incorporating so many of the things Arlo loves to do - stacking, pushing along little cars and trains, building with blocks

five: given the amount of time Arlo spends in our kitchen cupboards, taking things out and putting them back in again, I figure a little kitchen of his own would be a big hit

six: these bright blocks come in more unusual shapes than most, and are fair trade too so what's not to love?

seven: this is on the list for no other reason than it looks mega fun!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Guilty pleasures

My sentiments exactly Dave. Although probably a bit less sweary, because I'm not allowed to swear these days. (Picture in the background is from Halloween eve when we danced around the kitchen to Thriller)

I've been dropping Arlo off at the childminders for almost exactly a year now. For quite a while he'd have a little cry as I left, and that felt pretty horrible, even though I know it only lasted seconds and he'd soon be distracted by all kinds of different fun. Then for a while he wouldn't even look back at me because he was so excited to see his pals and try lots of new toys. That was obviously better, but still made me feel a bit glum as I set off for the day.

But on Friday this week something so lovely happened. Arlo understood I had to go, said "bye bye" with a wave, gave me two kisses, and gently closed the door behind me. I like to think he was letting me know he's cool with it, happy to be hanging out with his pals for the day, and knows I'll be coming back to collect him later. It felt good. I never ever feel guilty for being a working mum - it's  what the whole family needs and has been such a good thing for us all for many different reasons - but on that day I definitely had more of a spring in my step than usual when I set off for work. 

I try not to use the word 'guilt' too much in general. I try not to feel it much either. I don't want to make myself feel bad for spending some days at work instead of with Arlo, or for watching some trash tv at the end of a long day, or for having a delicious hot chocolate if I want one. I've never really understood the term 'guilty pleasure', because isn't that just something that's a pleasure? Pleasures are there to be enjoyed, not immediately regretted. I hear some mums talk about 'guilt', used in reference to everything from their working choices to not being able to get their kids to every birthday party they're invited to. We're all prone to it from time to time, but I think we could all be a bit easier on ourselves. We're all doing our best to navigate all this stuff and we should all be proud of that.

So rather than guilt, I'm trying to find pride on a daily basis. After all, I have to be doing something right. So now I try to be a bit less "I wonder if Arlo will be emotionally scarred for life because I'm not there with him every moment of every day?" and a bit more "My child has a clean face today - high five!" or "I finished my work to do list - big up!" or "We all managed to sleep through the whole night - pat on the back time!" (That last one is just an example. But I live in hope.) It's easy to focus on the bad things and beat yourself up about them, but if you look you'll find lots and lots more really good things to be proud of. So high fives to you too.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Soft play day

Some pictures from a little trip we took across the water to visit my sis and her little boy Archie a few weeks ago. There were lots of things to entertain Arlo over the course of the day, from top to bottom:

1. A trip on the train where he sat on the little table, nose to the glass, and and watched everything whizzing by.
2. The chance to cuddle Archie in the ball bit (he's all about the cuddles).
3. The soft play 'disco room', full of all kinds of lights and shiny things - just look at his little intrigued face in the pic!

I had one very tired boy on the way home - a day well spent.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

One year, six months

It's the first of November today, which is significant for a few reasons - it's officially Xmas NEXT MONTH (eee!), I don't have to set eyes on another pumpkin for another 12 months (phew), and it's also exactly one year since I went back to work after having Arlo. What started out as a six-month maternity leave has turned into much more than I ever thought - being a working mum has made me so happy, and that in turn makes for a happy Arlo, and happy Alex too. A year ago today I was a sleep-deprived, seriously forgetful new mum who was a worried she'd forgotten how to do a full day's work, and now... well, the first two haven't changed much but I definitely didn't forget.

But that's not the only mini anniversary happening today - the 1st Nov also marks exactly six months since I started this little blog, with this here Very First Post. Just look at little mini Arlo! The pic above I took today - what a difference six month makes. It's really nice to look back at the pictures from this day back in May, when we were all excited for the start of summer, and think that it might have been forgotten about if I hadn't made a little post about it here. This blog has helped me capture lots of lovely moments over the last six months, and along the way I've had some really nice notes from people who actually read and and say nice things about it, which is a total bonus and always makes me smile, so fanks pals :)