I love a newborn. That bunched up little bundle who fits neatly in the crook of your arm and weighs nothing. Snuffly, yawny little creature who smell like milk and sleep most of the day. That time is just a heartbeat in the scheme of thugs and it rushes by so fast it’s hard to grasp hold of. It makes me a little sad, but as I’m mourned those precious days as they zoomed by I forgot what was to come. I forgot how delightful older babies are.

Lady Mck is in that delicious older baby time now. All my babies have been happy souls, even the ones that didn’t sleep so well. At this lovely age she is just so delighted with the world and everybody in it. She gives out smiles and twinkles freely and I often find her giggling at something that has taken her fancy, often when we are all laughing but sometimes just because she thinks it’s funny. They are suddenly doing so much, changing so much. Waving, crawling, standing, working out how the world works and emptying boxes, bags and baskets is the extent of their naughtiness.

I don’t want to overstate this blissful time. She is still a girl who likes to be held and particularly likes to be near me, but when she isn’t tired or hungry or poorly, she’s quite happy to charm everyone around her and show off her latest tricks.

I’ve seen people in the past thinking their baby is no longer a baby once they reach one, but they still are absolutely 100% baby, just an older, different kind of baby. None of the head banging frustration that parenting a toddler brings. Like the newborn stage it lasts such a short time though. It’s over in a blink. Before we know it, she’ll be starting to walk and the baby will start to be replaced by a toddler, so I’m marking this time and holding on to the delightfulness of the older baby.

 

Please excuse Nano spitting out food purely for the entertainment of his sister, BUT she finds it so entertaining, I just couldn’t resist.

I have become rather addicted to making a monthly Instagram collage, but I am really a words person and I feel they need words. I’m not promising myself that this will be a regular feature, but I like the idea of reflecting on a month. I find memory such a subjective and moveable thing and I only get a true recollection of things when they are written at the time.

So many people say they find January grim and depressing. It is dark and dank and long. In fact I think I have felt the school runs more than ever this month. Turfing everyone out twice a day when it’s cold and not properly light is rather miserable. However, I’ve found January has sped and I’ve felt better than I have for months.

As much as I love Christmas, it all felt too much last year. The addition of a huge building project abandoned for the festive season half finished just left me feeling squeezed, emotionally, physically and mentally. In January we waved goodbye (kind of) to our lovely builders and started the mammoth painting and finishing task. It felt good to be able to crack on with it, at last and I’m so proud of how much we’ve achieved in such a short space of time.

I seemed to spend a lot of time alone with the children in January. We accepted that the quickest and least stressful way to get all the work needed in the house done was for Mckdaddy to get on with it, while I kept the tribe entertained. It’s forced me to make plans. We have been to the cinema, for long (too long) walks and had Lego afternoons. Crazily I’d often feel a little nervous of taking all three of them out for long periods on my own and January really helped with that.

I have such a long list of crochet projects that are want to do or have already started that I need a whole blog post on it’s own, but this month I really motored along with a project that I’d been struggling with. I did something I never usually do and unravelled a cardigan that I was making for Lady Mck. The yarn was just all wrong and since changing to the yarn that the pattern specified in a gorgeous peacock blue I’ve nearly finished it and luckily the rejected yarn is perfect for Nano’s blanket for his new room.

We finished January getting a little more sleep than we had been. Basically we’ve almost completely given up on the small cot in our room. It turns out that Lady Mck will sleep for hours and hours in her pushchair, so a combination of that and our bed has given us our evenings back and me the opportunity of early nights. I cannot wait for her to have her own room, although remain unconvinced that she’ll spend much time there.

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Two of my absolute favourite bloggers share the books they are reading. Laura has even turned her aim to read one book a month into a fabulous hashtag for others to share also. I really tried to join in with #ayearinbooks last year but could never quite manage it. I think that perhaps I felt the books I managed to read were not worthy or challenging enough.

However, recently, Sarah wrote about how her appetite for reading has returned now that her children are no longer babies and it hit me that mine are still tiny and the fact that I am reading anything is an achievement. When MM was a baby I don’t think I finished a book in a year, let alone a month and so I shouldn’t judge my choices so harshly. There are many years ahead for Hilary Mantel and Donna Tartt. For now I need something a little lighter, a little easier and that is perfectly fine too.

So, what have I been reading so far in 2015? I started with a lovely, familiar, seasonal novel. I adore Jenny Colgan, she’s funny, romantic and her novels are more than just boy meets girl. She writes about food so vividly, I am always delighted when she publishes something new. Christmas at Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop was no exception. Perfect for the Christmas period.

My second January book was on my Christmas list. Everything about Sali Hughes’ Pretty Honest is urging you to own the real, tangible book, rather than an electronic version, from the perfect shade of the pink cover, to the lovely photos and even the feel of the thick pages. The contents don’t disappoint either. Already I have totally changed my skincare habits and am covering my tiredness with make up.

I haven’t finished it yet so shall carry it into February together with my other book, this time on my kindle, bought in the sale. How to be a Husband by Tim Dowling has been another book I’ve been wanting to read for a while. It seems February is the month of the Guardian columnist and the month of non-fiction.

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For lots of other book recommendations have a look at Laura’s linky at Circle of Pine Trees. It’s a great source of ideas.

On the 27th November last year, two lovely builders started working in our home. They had a break over Christmas, but obviously we were still living in a muddle. On Friday they finished, leaving us with a lot of decorating to do and a big IKEA furniture order to make.

I won’t miss the dust, the noise, never being able to get my floors clean, having to wash my hands all the time. I won’t miss my dirty washing baskets being in my dining room, Lady Mck &
Nano’s clothes being in our bedroom and every single room in the house being in a muddle. I won’t miss having to make tiny decisions every day about door handles and where the plugs are going. I won’t miss getting those decisions wrong. I won’t miss people being in my house all the time, as nice as they are, I want our house back. I won’t miss the scaffolding and the bags of plaster and the garden that looks like a mudpit. I won’t miss them arriving just as I need to get the children in the car, I don’t think we’ve left on time since they started.

There are a few things I will miss though. Someone bringing in the milk for me, never having to remember to take my keys out with me and Nano having someone to chat to, although I’m sure the builders won’t miss this. I’ll miss having someone to reach something unreachable out of the shed. I will miss not having to do the cleaning, I gave up on that weeks ago. I’ll miss seeing it change each day and having people in the house who would get excited about bannister rails and light fittings. Someone to be here when parcels are delivered. I won’t miss not being able to do anything on the build. It all must wait until they’re finished and then oh my word, the decorating. So much decorating.

I’ve been trying to take some good photos and a video to show you how it looks now. Time, light and space are making this tricky, but watch this space.

Is it too late for a look back at 2014? I’ve decided to apply the same rule as I do for Christmas Thank You cards. That is, it’s still acceptable until the end of January.

I took the children to the park the other day. It was freezing and as we sat on a bench eating crisps, I was transported back to the very same spot, in August, where Mini Mck first rode his bike without stabilisers. It seems so long ago. Lots of things happened in 2014. Some big, some small. I thought I’d record some here to remind me.

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Lady Mck was born
Nano started pre-school
I learnt to sew a zip into a cushion cover
MM won the egg and spoon race on sports day.
We bought a new tent, our forever tent.
Nano stopped wearing nappies.
I found my first grey hair
MM started weekly football practice
I had a birthday with a zero on the end.
We finally had our loft conversion done.
Mini Mck learnt to ride his bike without stabilisers.
Lady Mck started crawling
I got my first grown up bike
Nano mastered whistling
I mastered Choux pastry
Nano went to his first football match
Grandad and Nanny Limited moved to a house 5 mins walk away
I gave birth at home
The boys went trick or treating for the first time.
MM ate mussels and loved them
Auntie Mckdaddy bought her first house
We took 3 children to a wedding…and had a great time
Mini Mck started playing with proper Lego…and fell in love with it.
Mckdaddy learned how to make really good handmade bread
Lady Mck went camping
The boys briefly shared a bedroom
We finally painted a blackboard wall in the kitchen.
Mini Mck became obsessed with “How to Train your Dragon” books
I bought a Kindle
Nano learned to ‘scoot’
MM started reading to us and writing little notes.

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All in all, I’d say a pretty good year

This is not the best time to be writing this. It is midnight. I haven’t been to sleep yet. When I do go to sleep I will be woken maybe twice more before 6:15am when my alarm will go off. Mckdaddy is snoring next to me. This is absolutely not the best time to be writing this. But here I am.

Sleep. It’s like a secret shame after a certain number of months. Six months, maybe? Or even earlier. Those who’s babies sleep through do not mention it because they don’t need to. Those of us who’s baby doesn’t sleep all night don’t mention it either. Probably, because we either feel we have failed in some way or more likely, are so bloody sick to death of people telling us how to fix it, that we just shut up and smile. Or maybe it’s a little of both.

This age is particularly tricky. Many people feel that at ten months I shouldn’t ‘indulge’ her by feeding or holding her when she’s trying to sleep. That she isn’t hungry and has simply fallen into bad habits and those two things are true, to a degree. However, she’s not at an age where I can reward her or reason with her and explain to her. She’s still working very much on instinct. The need to be close to a person, to be held. She hasn’t yet learnt to self soothe, she will eventually. I know this and I am not one for forcing the issue. On that note, I must just point out that I don’t think leaving her to cry for a bit would work. When she has been left, simply due to not having enough hands, she just cries and cries and cries and stops when I pick her up. It’s awful, the crying and I figure if you want a cuddle you should get one, especially when you are still a baby. If Mckdaddy wanted a cuddle, I wouldn’t say “No, it’s gone 7pm, you must learn to comfort yourself, I have washing to fold” So much of parenting is complicated into a ‘process’. A “put part a into slot b” approach. Follow the rules, pick a tribe, but in reality it doesn’t really work like that. We are all simply people trying to care for other people, in our own unique circumstances. Trying to tune out the ‘noise’ in order to hear our own instincts and more importantly to try and listen to the messages our baby is sending.

I think about the other two and inevitably compare. Nano slept like a dream from really early, although actually I may be remembering wrong. I see timehop posts that tell me there were periods of co-sleeping even with him. Mini Mck was a dreadful sleeper. Was he worse? I have no idea. I feel he was, but maybe that’s because we didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t give him what he needed enough. Is she worse? Or is she just a third child that should’ve been born a first child? I wear myself out trying to figure it out and it’s futile. What I should be doing is figuring out the best way for all of us to get enough sleep to function properly.

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So, we quietly battle on. I get more and more tired as each week passes and wonder how much longer I can do this. It all makes me so grumpy, angry really. Angry at anyone getting more sleep than I am, so Mckdaddy gets the brunt of it, (see: snoring next to me comment) but there’s plenty of grumpiness available for the helpful comment makers, the people who’s babies sleep, in fact, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD. Then I get some early nights and Mckdaddy and I start to work as a team again. I pull myself together and realise, that of course I can keep doing it. What’s the alternative, after all.

Time markers are strange things. New years and birthdays don’t really mean anything. It’s just another day, except it isn’t really, is it? Opening a new diary causes me to reflect and look ahead and I find myself feeling quite at odds this new year. A look at timehop or last year’s diary reminds me that I was in the last stages of pregnancy, still anticipating those hundreds of baby days. Now we are racing towards Lady Mck’s first birthday. She is ten months old and it’s all gone so SO fast. Babbling, crawling, waving and clapping her hands suddenly makes those newborn days seem so lost. Over in a blur. The hours of having to hold her in the evening make them seem less so. This year she will walk and talk and maybe my breastfeeding days will be over forever. Nano will start school. So many endings for me, so many exciting beginnings for them.

On the other hand 2015 feels like it could be a breath of fresh air. We will finally have a house that fits us all, once our building project is over. There is a chance that Lady Mck may start sleeping more, or at least needing me a little less and the idea of some freedom is most welcome.  I know from experience that often the things you don’t look forward to come and go with very little heartache and are often replaced with something just as good.

2014 has been a challenging year for us. I read somewhere the other day that life shouldn’t be hard, it should be a joyful thing and it really got me thinking. It’s true, and my life certainly isn’t hard and is packed full of joy. However, sometimes I think it’s inevitable that life is hard work and that’s quite a different thing. This year has been hard work. Three small children, including, in all honesty, not the easiest baby in the world, an allotment, tons of sorting and moving stuff to prepare for our builders and a teacher in the family, a job which seems to only get bigger and bigger as the years go on. We are always needing to *do* stuff, sort stuff, catch up, get organised and it’s been exhausting for both me and Mckdaddy. Any child free time, or should I say boy free time is taken up with chores and projects and whilst it’s still lovely to be around each other without interruption , it would be nice to not always be doing and I can see possibilities for that in 2015.

I want to be a better friend in 2015. I let things slide last year. Birthday cards didn’t get sent and thank you notes remained in my head. I didn’t contact the people who are important to me enough and we certainly didn’t make the effort to see those that are too far away for a coffee.  I want to change that this year.  I have been too passive, consumed with my baby and my tiredness and me. It’s the same with my blog and the blogging community. Passively reading and not commenting. It’s time to engage more with the world again.

I have been thinking of a word for 2015. Something I have seen over the past couple of years on some of my most loved blogs and an idea that originates from Susannah Conway’s blog. I have never been able to pinpoint a word before, but one keeps popping into my head when I think about 2015. I push it aside as it seems there is too much to do for this to be the right word, but it keeps coming back to me:

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We have so much to do after our builders finally leave. Decorating most of the house, moving the boys into new rooms, but even that project feels like part of the rest plan. Everyone will be able to test where they are to stay. In their own space that will be theirs for the foreseeable future. However, even with that flurry of work, I want 2015 to be the year where we rest. I need to make time to restore my reserves and we need to rest as a family too. I see other families spending their free time on days out or see others doing cool, fun stuff with my kids while we miss out or are left with the drudgery, nagging bits. Day trips and excursions will probably never be my style, but stomping around the woods, taking the bikes on a muddy track or even just a whole afternoon of Lego building are and we must make them happen more often, instead of tag team parenting every weekend.

I am all too guilty of getting caught up in the cult of busyness and it’s time to stop. Time to make time for the things that bring me joy and soothe my soul. Time alone, time with Mckdaddy, time with my little family and time with friends. The more I’ve thought about the word rest and what it means for me, the more it seems that rest takes effort. This seems counterintuitive and that’s why I’ve wavered on my choice, thinking that maybe, balance would be a better choice, but still I come back to rest.

The effort to make our home right for us, the effort to visit friends, the effort to get organised so we can spend more time having fun will all contribute to make my environment feel more restful and myself restored and rested, full of the things that make me happy.

 

How about you, what are your plans for 2015 or do you run as fast as you can from reflecting and planning when a new year begins?

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