We wake early here, usually before 6am. MM has always been an early riser, but he learnt from before he even left a cot to play with toys quietly or look at a book. Nano always used to sleep much later, but now he is the first one awake and we are finding it much harder to persuade him to stay quietly in his room and at the very least he will go to his brother for company. Once they are awake, I am awake. That’s just how it works, unless Mckdaddy gets up and takes them downstairs, then I could probably sleep until lunchtime.

At the weekend this time, the hours between 6am and 9am are so often wasted. Lazy mornings can be enjoyed and should be relished, but mostly I spend them feeling tired and annoyed that I am awake. I should just go to bed earlier and embrace this time. The rest of the family are usually fairly occupied doing their own thing and the baby is yet to make an appearance. I should reclaim this time for myself and so here I am, inspired by my friend Kelly, spending 15 minutes giving my poor neglected blog some much needed attention. I’m not quite sure how she gets a whole post written in 15 minutes, but I shall give it a go.

I am not sure why, but I am finding the whole blogging thing difficult at the moment, Gradually I have found that I am unhappy with what I am publishing here and that now I am getting in my own way. Spending too much time thinking about what others are doing and not enough just enjoying what has become a really important thing for me to do. I have been reading some lovely, beautiful blogs, but sometimes when we consume it becomes harder to create. Do you find that?

I wrote a post recently that still sits in drafts about giving everything in my life more attention. Concentrating on one thing, rather than flitting and thinking of ten other things. In it, I imposed rules on myself. At least one post a week and not written on my phone, while holding a sleeping baby and whilst this feels lovely to be typing on an actual keyboard and not doing anything else, it is unrealistic and unnecessary to impose such boring rules on myself. This is how it is. I still spend a lot of time holding a sleeping baby in one hand and an iphone in the other, so why not just accept this and make it work. It is not what I write on that makes me give something more attention, it is my attitude to it.

I am off to Blogtacular in a couple of months and whilst I am excited, I am also feeling that all those amazing creative people in one space will make me feel my contribution is inadequate. I am hoping that it has the opposite effect of inspiring me, that it gives me some direction and reignites my enthusiasm for this space.

My 15 minutes is up and Nano is asking me to help him play Monument on the ipad. Have you heard of it? Apparently Kevin Spacey plays it in House of Cards. It is such a great game and I am in awe of how my nearly 4 year old can work it out as well as, if not better than I can. This has been rather rambling and I hope that it gets across how I feel. What do you do when your confidence slips or you suddenly find that your blogging mojo has left you? How do you get that spark to return?

Ooh – no photo. That feels weird, but my 15 mins is well and truly up, but you can always follow me on Instagram. You will find me there more and more these days. 

On Wednesday my iPhone broke. The already cracked screen was trodden on and turned black, with the occasional blue line on it. Completely unreadable. Here is a list of things I’ve learned since then. 

  1. Having a almost useless phone the week before your child’s birthday party, when people are still texting their replies is an absolute pain. 
  2. However Siri is really good at reading your latest messages and replying. 
  3. Siri will only read and reply when they are new. 
  4. There is a fantastic program called iexplorer that allows you to read your texts, in fact all the contents of your phone on a computer. 
  5. I could give up Facebook  tomorrow. 
  6. I love Instagram. Not just posting there, but the creativity it sparks and the inspiration I get from the people I follow. If I follow you, it’s because I love your photos, so thank you. 
  7. Turns out having someone looking at their phone whilst you are supposed to be watching Masterchef together is extremely annoying. Who knew?! 
  8. I don’t know my passwords for anything. 
  9. It’s the little things that I never realised I used my phone so much for. Checking the weather. Reminding myself how to wrap Lady Mck with a YouTube video. 
  10. How to make socks. Well, one sock, so far, but still quite a thrill. 

  

I am a total sleep nerd. Any article about getting more sleep or better sleep is guaranteed to make me read it. I love an eye mask, a relaxing room spray and ear plugs, especially when combined with fresh, clean linen and an early night. However, ironically I’m always tired. My bedtime routine had slipped and the addition of a baby just about finished off my good sleep habits.

As I was wading through yet another treacly day, caused by too little sleep and too many wake ups, I wondered to myself just how much better I would feel if I went to bed really early for a whole working week. I mentioned it to a blogging friend and it seems she’d been having similar thoughts. We decided we would do a little experiment and encourage each other. Perhaps it would be easier to get ourselves organised and turn off the Internet earlier if we had someone watching over us. So, of course being bloggers, we automatically needed a hashtag and #5earlynights was born.

My aim was to be in bed and screen free by 9pm from Monday to Friday and have lights out by 9:30 and I was really interested to see if I would notice any differences with a decent run of early nights. So, how was it?

Firstly I did pretty well at sticking to a lights out time and I was definitely always asleep by 9:45. I was disturbed after only 30 mins of sleep by Lady M a couple of times, but only briefly as Mckdaddy took over. Obviously I knew that this could be an issue, but to my mind if I was ready for bed and winding down with a book while feeding her, then that would still be an improvement. Being strict with that half an hour of wind down time was more of a challenge. Often it is 8pm before Lady Mck is asleep and out of my arms and I still have niggly chores that need doing. That only leaves me with maybe an hour before having to go to bed. That isn’t really enough for me, but I wanted to know if the extra sleep would be more beneficial than longer evenings.

 

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As the week went on I did find many differences in the day. I was more productive and the usual 4pm slump was definitely better. This, despite, Lady Mck having quite a tricky week on the sleep front. Mckdaddy noticed that I was up in the morning and was more helpful, rather than the usual grunting. I would be offended by this, if it wasn’t absolutely true. So, I would say that five early nights in a row really did make a difference, although I’m not sure if it was the extra sleep, which was sometimes only 45 minutes earlier than usual or simply that I was observing better bedtime habits, such as a longer screen free wind down time. I definitely came away from my little experiment, realising that perhaps my ‘early nights’ need to become my normal bed time, at least for now, the thought of which I find a little dull.

I also found that once the five nights were over, I slipped straight back to my bad habits and so I plan to resurrect #5earlynights from Monday or even Sunday night. If you think you could do with a little replenishment or your sleep habits could do with a shake up and you need some encouragement to turn off the TV/laptop/phone, then feel free to join me and see if you notice any difference. I realise that my times are super early, remember I’m still getting woken in the night. Your target early bedtime may be quite different, but we can still chivvy each other along. Let me know you’re joining in by tagging your tweets and Instagram pictures with #5earlynights. We can be boring and yet refreshed, together.

It’s amazing how giving yourself a break can instantly return the joy of something. Since deciding that I was going to stop being so pompous about my current reading choices I’ve found myself reading more and loving it. One of the side effects of this is wanting to go bed earlier so that I can manage more than two paragraphs of my book and so I am joining Circle of Pines The Year in Books again this month.

I managed to finish my February book before the end of the month and am excited to start my March choice. One book a month, that’s the plan, slow and steady. I loved How to be a Husband and I mean really LOVED it. The kind of love, that makes you not only recommend to everyone, but read big chunks out to your long suffering partner. (I know he won’t read it. He never reads the books I recommend) It made me laugh out loud, but I found myself smiling through most of it. Such a sweet, accurate portrayal of a long term relationship. Just delightful.

I seem to have a real appetite for memoirs this year. My boom for March is Love Nina by Nina Stibbe. A collection of letters to her sister from when she was a nanny in London in her youth. I heard parts of this last year on Radio 4’s Book of the Week and have wanted to read it ever since. I took a solo trip to the library during half term and as well as a heap of camping books, to start planning our summer escape, I picked up a copy and am excited to start it. I’m interested, through these posts, to see if I read more when the book is on my kindle. I love the feel of real books but I have to admit that using the kindle is easier when I am rocking a pushchair or feeding or cuddling the baby. Last month’s was an electronic book, so let’s see how I do with real paper and ink.

 

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When Appleyard London contacted me to ask if I’d like one of their Mother’s Day bouquets to review, I didn’t have to think very long. Fresh flowers are such a treat, particularly at this time of year. I love all the spring colours and even though I am usually drawn to bright colours, I find that as soon as March arrives I want everything to be pastel pretty. Lilac, yellow and pale pink.

The flowers arrived on Monday morning, the day after Lady Mck’s birthday and were the perfect way to chase away the blues. The Liberty bouquet is crammed full of lilac memory lane roses, with bold purple eustoma and country garden blue veronica, there are oriental lilies ready to burst open and scatterings of lilac, a particular favourite of mine, I just adore the heady scent that they give off. My bouquet was tied beautifully, which meant I didn’t have to do too much rearranging and I was delighted to see a really good mix of open and closed blooms. I suspect they will last much longer than the 7 days that they are guaranteed for. Thank you Appleyard for my lovely early Mother’s Day treat.

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I always struggle with ideas for Mother’s Day for both mine and Mckdaddy’s Mum. It falls pretty close to both their birthdays and so it is a relief that Mother’s Day Flowers are always a winner with both of them. There is something about a beautifully arranged flower delivery that feels like such an indulgence. My mother in law lives many miles away and Mckdaddy isn’t known for his organisational abilities, so Appleyard’s next day flowers option is absolutely vital for us.

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I am delighted to be able to pass on a bit of the flower love to you and hopefully your Mum’s too, as Appleyard are offering my readers a 40% discount on their luxury bouquets in the run up to Mother’s Day. Just use BLOG40 at the checkout and give your mum an extra special treat this Spring…..or maybe just treat yourself.*

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*please note that this generous offer isn’t available on the Flowers by post range

I was sent a complimentary bouquet to review. All words, pictures and opinions are as always, mine. 

An unashamedly positive post for my girl’s first birthday, because if you can’t be told how fabulous you are on your birthday, when can you?

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I love the way you were born, at home, quickly, safely and with no fuss. Arriving overnight to greet your brothers when they woke. I love how you took to breastfeeding like a pro. I love how your oldest brother fell in love with you instantly and how that hasn’t waned, only become stronger as you’ve started to give back. I love how your younger brother has slowly become more interested in you and you him and how much you enjoy his boisterousness and craziness. I love that you are a girl.

I love that your hair doesn’t know what colour it wants to be and it has curls at the back, the rest of us all have straight hair. I love how beautifully you sit, a relaxed straight back and long neck. We should all look at a baby’s posture for tips. I love that you look like Nano did at the same age, except when you’re asleep, when you look just like Mini Mck.

I love that you love to fling yourself around. Backwards to see the world upside down, forwards off the bed into your Dad’s arms. All the way over if I tip you upside down. I love how a bath never fails to cheer you up and that you already love books, even if that does involve a mostly eating them. I love how you light up when you hear music and that your favourite song is “All about the base” (the radio edit. Obv)

I love that you still need me but I also love that you are much happier with others, especially your Dad. I love that you want to sleep close to us and that you somehow manage to take up most of the bed. I love that you have a comforter. Felix Bear gets cuddles and kisses when you’re awake and soothes you when you need to sleep. I love your big, smacky kisses, right on my lips and that you save them only for me. I also love that you refuse to let me video them. You do not perform on demand and nor should you. I love that you can be soothed and drift to sleep with a back rub or a stroke of the head.

I love that you do so much. Waving, clapping, wiggling, sitting down when asked, slow blinking, making car noises, saying na’night, passing things, emptying EVERYTHING and that you delight in it all. Discovering and living life with such zeal.

This last year has been very hard in lots of ways, but I love how you are absolutely, completely worth the hard work.

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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.

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