Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Walking this weekend

I've been trying to think of what to write under these photos for a while, but I don't really have words to describe how brilliant this weekend was. Friends, family, babies, dogs, beaches, walks, pubs, drinks and good eats. Best one in a while. Some highlights: seeing Arlo offering Monty the dog a harmonica to play so he could join in with him, helping him change into spare dry clothes and get all cosy in the back of the car after he fell into a rockpool at the beach (felt like a proper mum and dad thing to do), and drinking prosecco three nights in a row. All the best things.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Waiting for the swell

When I look at Arlo's little cheeks, or hold him in my arms for one of those long sleepy cuddles that are getting rarer and rarer, or think of his last little life achievement as I gaze out the train window on my way to work, I get that thing that every parent talks about. The big swell of all the emotions and feelings bubbling up in your chest that make tears prickle at your eyes and a big smile spread across your face. All the mums I knew told me to prepare for it, that it would be bigger than anything I'd ever felt, that it was a new kind of love. Grand claims were made, like:

"the moment you meet your little baby for the first time it will feel like your heart breaks because it will just swell to twice the size to contain all the new-found love you will now feel"

"you'll feel like you never loved anything before because this will be actual love"

"forget everything you know now because it won't mean shit once you've pushed a little baby out of you"

I know right? WOW.

So I prepared for it, for the 'swell'. I got ready and couldn't wait for it, but where the bloody hell was it?! For a long time, it didn't come. I feel like now I finally get what it's all about, but I took the long way round to get here.

I'm not saying I was unhappy when he arrived, quite the opposite. I wouldn't say I was depressed, although obviously there were a fair few weepy moments. I think I was just a bit numb. Overwhelmed. Happy but blindsided. I spent all my time trying to do all this 'parenting' and figure it all out, and along the way I forgot to stop and enjoy it. Think about it. Try and feel some feels. 

So now, when I stop and think about how far we've come, or have a moment where I feel I'm about to burst with pride because Arlo can say his own name (he can now and it's the best thing I've ever heard) I think I feel doubly happy because now I 'get it'. The thing everyone said I would 'get'. Better late than never.

Arlo, I promise I'll make up for it from now on. I've spent a while feeling guilty for not being happier when you were teeny tiny, for not appreciating you as much as I felt I should, or really making the most of my maternity leave, but I've decided to stop. To draw a line under feeling guilty, move on, feel happy to be where we are now, and generally just get over myself.

So if I could go back two years and give my 'about to give birth' self a message, it would be not to worry about the things I'm supposed to feel, and just go with whatever comes. Not to compare what's happening with us to what other people had going on, just to be. It's OK to feel a bit blue, it's a pretty bonkers thing all in all. Oh and also you really really don't need to worry about taking your make up bag with you when you go into the hospital to give birth, just FYI.

In terms of being in touch with my emotions, I think I'm making up for lost time now though, because I'm writing this on a packed commuter train to Waterloo, wiping away tears and ruining my eyeliner in the process. So I'm going to leave it there. Because smudgy eyeliner is the WORST.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday I'm in love... with bathroom tile

Sorry if that's the most boring post title ever, but I have a pretty serious thing going for bathroom tiles at the moment. As I may have mentioned, we didn't inherit the nicest bathroom when we bought this house, and it's not my favourite room to be in. We have a million other things we want to do to the house before we get round to the bathroom - it functions fine, it just doesn't look that pretty, but given that a fairly small amount of actual 'hanging out' happens in there, it's pretty low on our priority list at the moment - so I am enjoying daydreaming in the meantime.

Here's a few of my faves that I've been pinning away over the last few weeks. And actually, since I've been discovering all these beautiful tiles, I'm thinking it would be amazing to do the kitchen in a lovely patterned tile floor too. That's a project that might actually happen before the bathroom does, so watch this space!

But in the meantime, if you love all things tile too, you can find all kinds of inspiration here.

Ooh, and while we're at it, if you liked this, you might like these posts with beautiful wallpaper inspiration and colourful kids' rooms too.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Adventures in scrapbooking

Warning: if you're not a massive stationery geek, you may not love this post. If you are, then let's be friends. 

I have a new something that has been taking up a lot of my time these past few weeks or so. It's something that combines my intense love for new stationery with my love for taking photos and documenting things. I've got into scrapbooking in a big way.

Since Arlo was born, I've tried to make an effort to take lots of pics of all the things we get upto, and also to try and actually print them. There are literally thousands of photos on my phone right now, but without printing them out, how often are they actually going to get seen? So every few months I order a massive batch of prints and get them all put in photo albums. But I found that, as well as the photos themselves, I also wanted to make notes so we could remember more - the things that might not necessarily be in the picture, so might get forgotten about in years to come when we flick through for the hundredth time - the date, who else was there, where we were and why. The notes sections in the albums I found just weren't big enough, and some pictures had more to tell than others, and I felt like I needed a bit more space to capture it all.

Come in scrapbooking, answer to my stationery prayers - you can add photos and notes and any other keepsakes you want, be creative with layouts and make it as colourful as you like (I like). You don't need glue or scissors (unless you want to be a fancy-pants and go all out, in which case I salute you) - all you really need to get started are the photos and a pen.

I bought this Project Life album and photo pockets, and also started off with what they call a 'core kit' which has lots and lots of the pretty note cards you can see dotted around in the pics above - there is literally the perfect one for any note you could ever want to make. You can use them to introduce a theme, occasion, or just some colour. I use them for memories - for example, I have one on one page, next to a picture of him eating peanut butter straight out of the jar, that lists all of Arlo's favourite foods, because it's something I don't want to forget.

I've also subscribed to Messy Box, the newly-launched scrapbook subscription box from A Beautiful Mess - a blog I have followed for a loooong time. Their scrapbooking albums are a bit smaller and I preferred the Project Life format because it works really simply with standard 6x4 prints, (and I don't have time for photo printing that's any more faffy than ordering one of everything in the standard size), but their insert cards and extra fun stationery bits are AMAZING and getting my first delivery yesterday was the most exiting post I've ever received. The final pic above is a snapshot of some of its contents - lots of gorgeous spring colours, and a little stamp that I can't wait to have a go on. Although I kind of had the basics covered with the stuff I bought from Project Life, everything in the Messy Box is going to add so much colour and fun that I reckon it's well worth it (and shipping to the UK was only $3!) I promise this isn't an ad, I genuinely just geek out about this stuff.

So this is how I've started - there's lots to be getting on with, but I couldn't help taking pics of how it's going so far. I originally started scrapbooking photos from the beginning of this year, which is where our last photo album runs upto, but to be honest I'm having so much fun doing this that I want to go back to the very start (i.e. when Arlo was born - I can barely remember anything that happened ever before that point) and re-home all the early pics into scrapbooks instead of the plain albums we've currently got.

Basically I'm in stationery heaven right now and I don't want it to end. I'm making something to keep in the family forever, and I get to use pretty pens while I do it - what's not to love?

Friday, 17 April 2015

Weekend walking

Some quick pics taken on a weekend walk to to look at boats and ducks. For Alex and I it was definitely a walk - for Arlo, more of a carry, because for some reason his little legs didn't want to take him very far. So he took it in turns to sit on our shoulders, pointing and yelling "DUCK!" at anything with wings. The sun was out, and the sky was so blue, it felt only right to finish the walk with a little refresher at a local pub garden. Summer, I think we're ready for you.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Happy hundred

Well this is a bit of a milestone. Blog post number one hundred. I can't quite believe that there have been one hundred different things that I've wanted to talk about and remember here, but apparently there have! So I've taken a scroll down memory lane to remember some of my favourite posts - and some that I've had lovely feedback on too. I still genuinely do a little shocked face whenever anyone tells me they read my blog (let alone enjoy it!) because I never really write imagining anyone reading it, I just enjoy the process of doing it. But it's lovely to get good feedback - my fave so far being a friend, someone whose taste I trust, telling me he has had a read and that "it's actually not shit". It was the best compliment. So with that in mind, here's some of my fave posts from the last one hundred - the actually not shit ones...

Nice to look back on times and feelings that may have been a fleeting thought, quickly replaced by something more mundane like "why are ALL of Arlo's socks odd?" or "what day is it again?" But I managed to capture them, write them down and keep them. Thanks to anyone who's read even one of the hundred posts so far, and don't worry, I won't do gittish ones like this too often.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

My favourite corners #3 - Arlo's play kitchen

Alex and I spent a long time, late on Christmas eve, putting this together (because it was very complicated - not in any way because of all the late-night Amarettos we'd enjoyed).  Watching Arlo's little face as he walked into the room to discover this the following morning was just the best. Since then we've spent many a happy while at his little kitchen, putting the kettle on and making soup at the hob. I've also spent a large part of every single day since Christmas picking up all the little plastic versions of vegetables and roast chickens and putting them away. Over and over again. But I guess that's what this parenting stuff is all about, right? All worth it to hear him come over and tug at my hand and say my two favourite words: "Mama? Tea?"

So until Arlo is old enough to make me an actual, real-life cup of tea (the main reason anyone ever has kids, surely) this little spot will remain one of my favourite corners of the house.

Missed my other favourite corners? Here's #1 and #2.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Spring dressing for boys (not babies)

Sometimes clothes-shopping for kids is a chance to have fun and buy many things in bright colours with pictures of dogs' faces on (see here for visual proof). And then there are other times. Like when you all of a sudden find yourself shopping in a whole nother part of the shop that you'd never even glanced at before, because you're shopping for someone who doesn't fit into the 'baby-24months' bracket, and is now considered a BOY because he's in the 2-8 year bracket (bye bye baby). And for some reason it ends up being a bit of a freak-out because you're not quite ready to say bye bye to your little baby actually, and you wish you could go back 18 months and dress him in tiny little pure white babygros so he'd be little for a bit longer.

But then you realise that's never going to happen (and it's a bit weird of you to think it) and so instead you embrace it and use it as chance to buy them something a little more grown up. Just a little mind you - we found robots, stripes and cute little duck prints, but in muted tones rather than primary colours. I picked up the above on a shopping trip to Southampton for me, that ended up being for Arlo. The whole lot is from Baby Gap (or maybe that's technically Gap Kids now?!), except from the shirt which is h&m. (All sale items, obvs). Muted tones with pops of colour, graphic baby chick prints and flashes of yellow. Feels like Spring.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Our Easter

The Easter Bunny vommed all over our kitchen table yesterday. It was a bit mental round here for a while. For one day only we only ate things in the shape of either a duck or a rabbit, and a Lindt chocolate bunny was a whole-ly acceptable breakfast item. Arlo had his first ever egg hunt and took to it like an Easter duck to water. Luckily, he took more interest in the foil than the chocolate inside, so once he'd peeled every single scrap off, he dropped the naked egg on the floor, which meant we got to avoid a toddler sugar crash (although we might have had a couple of our own). The sun wore his hat, we spent lots of time in the garden, and spent happy days with lots of family. Thanks Easter Bunny.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Making friends with ducks, wallabies and parrots. And a dinosaur.

We thought we'd make the most of a rare day off with nothing to do this week and take Arlo to a wildlife 'encounter' near us. And encounter we did! Arlo is a big animal fan anyway, but this was particularly nice because most of the animals were roaming free. So we set Arlo off to roam among them, making lots of friends along the way. Favourite pals of the day: the ducks that ate all his corn, the wallabies that he gave tentative pats to, the carp that popped their heads out of the pool to say hello, and a rather big snake and dinosaur (above) which were also 'roaming free', much to Arlo's delight.