2016 – A retrospective

As regular blog posts go, this is about as good as it gets here. My annual round up of our year is now in it’s third year and it changes as the children do. Less big milestones and more little things that are rites of passage in childhood.  So, as we tucked into our fish & chips a couple of evenings ago, I got the rest of the family to remember some of their highlights. 

  • Mini Mck got his first pair of lace up shoes
  • Lady Mck stopped wearing nappies in the day and is now totally toilet trained
  • I made myself an actual wearable crochet garment. Twice
  • Mckdad trained as a football coach
  • Nano starting learning to read, now that he is in Year 1 
  • We expanded our animal family with two kittens 
  • Our old cat hated us for at least six months of the year, due to aforementioned kittens (he’s ok now)
  • We saw the seals at Horsey Beach for the first time
  • Lady Mck spent her first night away from the rest of the family
  • Nano started after-school drama lessons
  • Mini Mck learnt to swim without any buoyancy aids
  • I finally mastered a flapjack recipe – it’s all in the size of tray and the timing
  • Nano went on his first sleepover to a friend’s house
  • Mini Mck went up three reading levels and is nearly a free reader
  • Nano joined the a school sing along group
  • Lady Mck started sleeping in a bed. No more cots in this house
  • I learnt how to make swiss meringue buttercream, which is a revelation
  • I volunteered at the best blogging conference in town
  • Lady Mck started gymnastics
  • Lady Mck learned how to do a forward roll
  • Mini Mck also learned how to do a forward roll
  • I was shortlised for a Mum’s Voice award and went to a fancy luncheon in London
  • We finally put Lady Mck’s bike seat on my bike and so all went out on a family bike ride
  • Mini Mck went climbing at a climbing centre for the first time
  • Mini Mck started learning French
  • Lady Mck learned to scoot
  • Nano finally mastered the fireman’s pole at our local park 
  • Lady Mck discovered pink and decided she loves it
  • Nano made his first grown up Lego set, with no help
  • Lady Mck swallowed a penny and therefore had her first (and second) x-ray
  • Nano started wearing glasses
  • Mckdad started wearing reading glasses
  • I started wearing reading glasses
  • Nano started wearing an eye patch for 3 hours a day
  • Lady Mck stabbed me in the eye with a fork (and still apologies for this every week) It was a big year for eyes
  • Mini Mck took part in a Ukelele concert
  • Nano started riding a pedal bike with stabilisers
  • We went on a punt down the river in Cambridge 
  • I lost over a stone in weight
  • Mabel became an expert mouser, before she was even a year old
  • Mini Mck learnt Suduko 
  • Mini Mck learnt how to tell the time
  • Nano went to his first musical. The Sound of Music
  • Lady Mck had her first ponytails, side bunches and topknots
  • I mastered the messy bun
  • Mckdad got an office – NO more piles of school books in the dining room (mostly)
  • I gave something up and it was a brilliant decision
  • I made marmalade for the first time


I love looking back on our year, but I’m always a little concerned that as the children get older, there will be less firsts. Mckdad and I noticed that ours were quite hard to think of and it made us both agree that we should do more to learn new things this year. It was a quiet year, but all in all, a good one. 

Happy New Year

Hello friends! I hope you’ve had a lovely festive time, however you choose to celebrate and for those of you that don’t love Christmas, I hope at least you’ve had some restful days in this in between, nothing happening week. 

I wanted to just pop in and share our plans for New Year. I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Always so busy and expensive to go out and since having children I struggle to make it to midnight, preferring instead to enjoy the early morning on January 1st, which frankly I’m going to get anyway, with three early rising small children in the house. The last time we had a grown up celebration was when we all de-camped to friends for a few days and I was pregnant with Lady Mck. I think the fact that I knew there would be no hangover and the shared parenting duties that you get when you team up with other adults, made the late night more bearable. Plus, some friends are worth the tiredness. 

However, the last couple of years we have started to build our own, child-friendly New Year Celebration and this year the children remembered and asked for it. We will collect Fish & Chips and eat by candlelight. Dan and I will open something bubbly, the kids will have lemonade from plastic champagne flutes and conversation will no doubt turn to all the things that have happened to our family this year. (Which I will totally harvest for a blogpost in the next few days!) I know that there will be plenty of opportunity for seeing in the New Year in the future, when we are less tired, but for now letting go of the pressure to stay up late and finding our own way of celebrating has been so liberating. 


So, whatever you are doing tonight, I wish you a very happy evening and hope you all have a fabulous 2017. I want to thank you for popping in to read my words this year, it really does mean so much that you give me some of your precious time. I know I am not the most reliable blogger and I hope to be more so next year. Have a good one!

A festive pause

Hello friends! How are you all? Are you all ready for Christmas? Have you opened the After Eights and the Baileys yet? Or if you’re in our house, the Aldi equivalent, because, frankly you can’t beat an Aldi rip off, especially at Christmas. This pre-Christmas is frantic, no? Keeping the magic of Christmas alive is hard, but good work. I hope your lists are getting crossed and you are managing some rest in between the madness. 

If you follow my Instagram feed, you will know that I love living in my city and this year Norwich has really excelled itself with it’s festive lights. Moving pictures projected onto the side of the castle, the usual, but lovely clusters of lights in the trees and perhaps most impressive the Tunnel of Light. It’s just crying out to be photographed, but the hoards of people, not so much. 

I mentioned on my quickly snapped photo that I posted, that I was tempted to get up while it was dark and quiet to take photos, but that I probably wouldn’t. Encouraged by Kat, who knows her Instagram stuff, I started to wonder why I was reluctant to get up for an early photo shoot. I’m awake anyway, thanks to my children and I realised the main reason was worrying what people would think and that’s not a good enough reason. I also realised that Instagram or not, I wanted to see it with no people in it.

So, I persuaded Mini Mck to join me and we left the house just after six. I love the city when it’s deserted and we had a lovely time, both taking photos and running through the tunnel, with only the odd delivery van or early morning worker for company. 

This time of year is so busy, so many lists and things to be done by a certain time. It’s important to take a pause every now and again. The boys carol concert at the Catherdral is one of those moments for me and baking mince pies and sausage rolls in our warm and cosy kitchen is another. I never realised that leaving the house in the dark with my boy and my camera would be another, but it was. The cold morning air, the quiet city and the twinkly lights were the perfect start to the day. 






I want to take this opportunity to with you all a healthy and happy festive season, whatever you may be doing. I hope you all get some rest and lots of lovely time with those you love. I am sure that  Father Christmas will treat you well. I know you’ve all been good this year…..

Mum Burnout

I am staring at the cursor, blinking in the top left of the screen. A blank page to fill. When is it right to share the real, not so pretty stuff on a blog? Is it ever right? For me, it is when not sharing feels inauthentic. You don’t come here for a picture perfect life, you come for a real portrayal of life and I imagine, of motherhood, in particular. I have other posts I could finish off and publish and they will come, but when I find something is stopping me, I know it’s time to write whatever my fingers type. 

Do you ever feel that this should all be so much easier? That you should be doing it all better and enjoying it more? When does it get easier? I thought once the baby days were done it would become more manageable, but at the moment I am finding it harder, I think, than even those sleep-deprived hazy days. Perhaps it’s the expectation that it should be easier that makes it harder. When you have babies, just getting out of the house on time and with everyone in the right clothes is a cause for celebration and a good day tick earned. Maybe it’s that juggling the needs of a 7,5 and 2 year old is actually just as challenging, as juggling those of a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a newborn, if not harder. Perhaps it’s just the lack of balance for such a long time. The seven years of making snacks, mopping up spills, arguing about clean teeth and coats and what’s for dinner. Perhaps it’s tidying the kitchen everyday, folding endless loads of washing or trying to stop your car becoming a toy cupboard/rubbish bin and failing. I suspect it’s all of that, plus, and perhaps this is most important, giving so much of yourself, everyday and not even knowing if you’re doing it right. Overthinking it all or getting to grips with it all, only to have it all change on you, in the blink of an eye. 

Over the past few weeks (months?) I’ve noticed how short-tempered I am. Running on my emotions too much, in a house of small people, who are designed to live on their emotions too. And then a couple of weeks ago, it hit me. I looked in the mirror after the kids had gone to bed and thought “ I look knackered. When will I ever not look knackered?!” Mostly, I get plenty of sleep, aside from the odd disturbance for a child’s nightmare or a wet bed, we sleep all night and I realised it’s not really that kind of tiredness. It’s weariness. It’s burn out. On the same evening this blog was shared to facebook and it stopped me in my tracks. It was like she was speaking to me and the relief that this is how it is was overwhelming. 
A google search later and of course, Mum burnout is a thing that everyone else seems to know about. I just thought I was failing at it all. I’m not, I’m just burnt out. The extra to-dos of the festive season have taken it up a notch and my complete lack of enthusiasm for it all, in stark contrast to last year, show that things are a little off. It occurred to me today that I have felt more festive when pregnant or with a tiny baby or in the middle of a very long and expensive loft conversion. This year, it all just feels like a huge drag. I am hoping that the introduction of mulled booze and mince pies will rectify this, but they won’t if I don’t write some cards and wrap some presents too. 
So, what next? Well, I’m a bit of ‘this is how it is. Suck it up and get on with it’ type of person and I stand by that. It is what it is. My children are still quite young and take a lot of hard work and it’s not even that I am wishing it were over. Strangely, the last few months have had lots of moments that make me want to freeze time. They are all at such awesome ages and I can see their brains exploding, in very different ways, but all seem to be in a time of huge growth and I love it. 

However, I know that just sucking it up and ploughing on won’t be enough on it’s own. Even if I do find that by just acknowledging how I feel is often enough to help. Do you find that? I am a big proponent of ‘feeling what we feel’ and just sitting with it for a while. 
How do you prevent or recover from ‘Mum Burnout’? I’m thinking working on that elusive balance. A little more taking it easy on myself. A little less heaping on the guilt and pressure. Lots of early nights and things that make me happy, that ‘fill my cup’ How about you? 

Small Things {The Autumn Edition}

In the spirit of wanting less and being happpier with what we already have, I have been thinking of the small things that make these dark, blustery autumn months feed our soul. This week, I could so easily have written a post on the many things that irritate me, that everyone else seems to love, but I’ll strive to keep the internet a positive place and if you want that post, you’ll have to ask for it! Despite an attack of the grumps, there is still more to November than dark nights and soggy school runs. 

Finally having the chimney swept and building the first fire of the year, Bonfire season at the allotment, National Sausage Week. Having dinner bubbling in the Slow Cooker. Toddlers kicking through ankle-deep leaves. A crisp start to autumn that makes the tress put on such a show when the leaves are ready to fall. Discovering a child friendly cafe.

Treating yourself to a new herbal tea and finding that it is absolutely gorgeous and soothing. Paying off your library fines and so redisvering the joy of browsing the shelves and choosing some new books. Taking library books back, not only on time, but read and on time. Discovering a fresh, decaffienated coffee that actually tastes nice. Buying posh yoghurts simply because you know the glass jars will make nice candle holders and finding the yoghurt is delicious too. Closing the curtains at dusk, turning the lights on and knowing you don’t have to go out again for the rest of the day, putting your comfies on. Remembering to put a hot water bottle in your bed before you get in it. Good Autumn Tele (have you seen The Crown on Netflix? SU-blime!) New episodes of Gilmore Girls (FOUR DAYS PEOPLE)


Finding a new podcast that you love and can binge listen to. Baking a cake that you haven’t done before and knowing that it’s not quite right but that your’re going to keep trying until it’s perfect. Tate & Lyle’s Halloween Treacle tin. Cats who like to curl up next to you and purr very loudly. Starting a big knitting project, especially for yourself. Instagram, before the trail of Christmas trees arrive on December 1st. An evening of no TV after school, where the children all sit together, near enough for me to see and speak to them, all happy doing this own drawing/puzzles/homework. Making a fresh batch of Granola. 

Going to bed early to read a really good book. Staying up too late, reading your book and not caring that you’re going to be tired tomorrow, because it really is a good book. Finding a long forgotten piece of clothing and feeling like you’ve been shopping, even though you haven’t. Two hours child free time, to go Christmas Shopping with your partner and spending nearly all of it buying books for people. Finishing off homemade Christmas presents. Getting donations in for the school fair a week before the deadline. Parent’s Evening. Putting the children to bed on your own and getting it all done by half past seven. Going out with new friends. Staying in. Still getting the occasional day when you can hang your washing out. 


So, you see, there are in fact many good things about this dark and damp month. I guess we all just need to look for them. What is keeping you smiling this week? 

On wanting less

I want to want less, but if I am honest, I am terrible at wanting less. I don’t mean having less. I can de-clutter with the best of them and we live within our means, I mean actually wanting less in the first place. We live on a pretty tight budget. Don’t get me wrong, we have a nice standard of living. We don’t freeze, we don’t starve and we have many of the trappings of modern life. There are many people who really, properly struggle. The point of this isn’t really who has more, but how much I would like to desire less things. Things that I can’t justify buying and so don’t, but so wish I could and it’s the wishing that I would like to stop. 

It’s not an attractive quality when we really break it down, is it? Wanting more. Seeing things and thinking ” I want that” or “I wish I could have that” and if there is one thing I wish I could get better at, it is wanting less, coverting less. It’s that niggling feeling that I should be able to have nice things or go more places. I wouldn’t even describe myself as materialistic. I think if I truly was, then I wouldn’t feel as torn as I do. I would be happy to worship at the alter of consumerism and probably have a much bigger credit card bill. But I am not happy to do so. I feel uneasy with this side of myself, but that unease doesn’t make it any easier to stop wanting. 

It’s not entirely my fault of course, we are literally bombarded with advertising everywhere we look. Thousands of messages put in front of us every day trying to get us to buy this and go here. That this will make us feel better, make us happier and even if we resist most of the time, there will be moments when we are tired or sad or fed up, or even sometimes when we are happy and feel that we deserve a ‘treat’ and we will cave. We will give into one of these messages or images and believe that buying the ‘thing’ will make us happy. 

It is at this point that I am supposed to say that it doesn’t work and that things don’t make us happy and fundamentally they don’t. We need love and health and a certain standard of living for that, but can we we honest for a moment?Sometimes, things do make us happy. A new lipstick, a spruced up living room, a new house plant, your favourite mug, a night off from cooking. Alone, they do not make a life, but they certainly make my life cheerier and I may be shallow to admit it, but I also suspect  I am not alone in this. 

Social Media doesn’t help us avoid these messages to buy. Even when they are not delivered by the companies wanting us to buy from them, we are seeing small peeps into people’s lives and the ‘things’ they own. Sometimes overtly, I mean who hasn’t posted a “look at this gorgeous new thing I just bought” photo, but often just from seeing glimpses of homes and lives. 

New thing picture

We are bombarded from the other side of the coin as well. The simple, slow living, minimalist movement has mushroomed over the last few years and it talks a lot of sense. Encouraging us to think about what we own, what we really need and what we can take out of our overstuffed lives, but it can be problematic for us too. Aside from the fact that it’s proponents can come across as unbelievably smug and self-riteous, it can also seem like just another advert for stuff. Check out any slow living hashtag on Instagram and you will see some beautiful images. Some gorgeous views of course and most that give you a lovely sense of peace and serenity, but many of them will show you gorgeous homewares, amazing spaces filled with the highest quality soft furnishings, crockery, lighting and clothing. Sometimes the simple life can still make those ‘wanting’ senses tingle.  Hygge is a fabulous example of this. The Danish idea of enjoying life’s simple pleasures, of gathering with friends and the feeling of cosiness. At this time of year it sounds perfect for all of us. As well as sounding perfect it also makes me want to buy gorgeous scented candles and the cosiest blankets and throws. I suspect not the point of Hygge. 

Trying to want less in a world of stuff
So, how do we go about wanting less? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer and I am hoping some of you do. I read a thing this week, that suggested just feeling the feeling and I am always a fan of letting ourselves feel what we feel. So, simply acknowledging that we are having an urge to spend money, just as we would acknowledge the urge to eat something, or have a glass of wine can help us not to act on that urge. I have made the decision to stop following a lot of businesses on Instagram, to remove some temptation and am trying to satisfy my ‘treat urge’ by getting small or useful things. A box of lovely tea, a bottle of really cheap, but lovely bubble bath. I am hoping that taking these small steps and by being honest, I will start to want less and not feel I am somehow missing out. 

So, thoughts? 

A ramble and some treats for your ears

Hello friends. How are you all? If you are anything like me, you are probably feeling a little world-weary and fragile this week, after the news from America. The boys now understand a lot more of what they hear in the news and Mini Mck even discusses this stuff with his friends at school, so I have been fielding lots of questions this week. Having to explain to my five year old that of course he can be friends with Child X, even though they have a different colour skin and that yes, he can marry a man when he grows up, if he wants to, because we have the right values of love and friendship, unlike others who are stuck in fearful hate, is a bit heartbreaking if I’m honest. 

On the other hand, the same five year old has also informed me this week that he would like to be President and he would be kind and make the right choices. He also said it would be a good idea if we visited countries that had nice Presidents in the future, so that’s a trip to Canada on the cards, right? I have to admit that the look of bafflement on their faces, when I simplistically explained that the new US Presidient only really likes white people, gave me a warm glow. They just could not wrap their tiny heads around why someone would think like that. 

Anyway, I have some lovely blog posts I need to point you in the direction of, but I shall save those for another day, even though it will make them out of date and instead I thought you might appreciate some treats for your ears. This one is for all of you that need to turn off the news and surround yourself with stories and things that will make you smile and laugh. I think we all need some of that right now, so here are some of the things I’ve been listening to recently. 


Radio 4 seems to have had a bit of an Alan Bennett season in the last couple of weeks, with the utterly sublime reading by the author of his latest diaries. There is nothing more comforting than listening to Bennett witter on about the small things in his life and also his witty take on the wider world. This was followed by a great interview between him and Andrew Marr on Start the Week. I love Start the Week, even when I don’t really understand what they’re talking about. I can feel it literally stretching my brain and making it better, so I’d always recommend it for a listen. 

I was utterly gripped by a podcast that had been recommended to me by my friend, Heather. Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder was such interesting and fantastic story telling. Even though the actual crime was committed thirty years ago, it is still highely relevant today and related to lots of current and even future events. I listened to all ten episodes in about three days. If you were a fan of Seriel, this one could be for you. 

The Guilty Feminist is a new one to me, in fact I only discovered it this week, after someone mentioned it on Twitter and it is truly fabulous. Funny, clever and will have you nodding along and possibly shouting “Hell, Yes!” in parts. I think, this week in particular, I needed something that celebrates women and their fabulousness. It’s definitely going to be one of my must listens from now on. 

Another thing we all could do with this week is our faith in politics, particularly American politics and there’s no better place for that than The West Wing. I’ve been a fan ever since it was on Channel 4 when it first came out. You know, when we used to watch TV week by week at the time it was on and I’ve seen all of it several times since then. The West Wing Weekly is for West Wing nerds to relive this classic TV drama and they have some great interviews too. If you haven’t ever seen The West Wing, might I suggest that now would be an awesome time to start. Put your cynicism aside for 45 minutes and try and pretend that Martin Sheen is the actual President of the United States. 

Finally, a quick word about a couple of friends who have excellent podcasts that you should always be listening to. Kat has returned for the second season of the Blogtacular Podcast, with an interview with Instagram superstar, Sara from Me and Orla. Kate from A Playful Day is also releasing episodes at the moment and this is always a lovely listen, especially in the darker months. It’s a real curl up with a cuppa and blanket kind of podcast. 

So, there we are friends. Some rays of light to soothe you in these fractious times. I hope there is something new for you or at least something you haven’t checked in with for a while. 

Until next time xxxx