Saturday, May 20, 2017

nine months


Today T turned nine months old. He has been in this world for almost as long as I carried him, though not quite, staying put, as he did, for as long as possible. Now he is here though, he has made himself just as at home, and just as comfortable in our world, becoming our world in the process.

As you can see from the photo above, he is now the proud owner of six teeth, with another two just about making their appearance.  His eyes are a mystery, varying from a deep blue to a slate grey depending on the light. We thought he had lots of hair when he was born, but looking back at pictures now we realise how much it has grown. He has a floppy fringe, and a little curl at the nape of his neck, almost a pony tail, that could probably do with a trim but we can't quite bring ourselves to cut it. His hair lies very straight, and neat, often looking like it has been brushed to one side, except for when he has been cuddled up with me and I can't resist the urge to stroke it into spikes!

It is so interesting to me to read how he was just three months ago, and realise how far he has come. He is now eating everything in sight, and after those few weeks where he seemed to be showing no interest at all, the joy of him enjoying food still hasn't worn off. He is far more adventurous than his dad, enjoying a whole variety of fruit, vegetables and fish that The Husband doesn't touch, loves to drink water, and has a slightly frustrating habit of dropping (or flinging with great glee) something that he has tired of onto the floor. I am trying to curb this by saying a vaguely firm "No" when it happens, which he responds to with a bright-eyed giggle that is rather infectious, making my attempts at admonishment someone ineffective as I laugh right back in return.

Perhaps an even greater change is that fact that we have gone from having no pattern to our days to having a very definite structure that seems to be suiting us well. When sleep seemed to be particularly elusive, something that seemed to keep coming up whenever I read anything was about a consistent routine and regular naps. I decided it had to be worth a try and it has occurred to me since that perhaps my little boy is more like me than I had realised, and relishes a structure and predictability to his days just as I do. After a few days of settling him to sleep at around the same time each day, he suddenly started to do it without any input from me, and now I find that each morning and afternoon, given the opportunity, he drifts off himself quite contentedly, seemingly very much his mother's son. He won't go to sleep easily in his cot, but in his pram, the car, or my arms he can drop off almost immediately, like clockwork. 

He now sleeps better at night too, whether because of the routine, or because he is eating better, or because his teething and general snottiness have abated a little, I'm not sure, but I love that he has settled into his own rhythm and seems so content with it. His interest in the world around him still takes precedence though, and he will fight sleep with every inch of his being if there is fun to be had, often dropping straight off after a sing at the library, or a splash in the swimming pool, but only when he knows all the interesting stuff has finished. I also must admit that I still take pleasure in sitting each evening, for much longer than I need to, holding him before I put him to bed. I will never tire of the feeling of his head against my shoulder, his palms splayed across my skin, occasionally gripping gently as though checking I am still there, as he drifts into a deep sleep. It is complete bliss to hold him, fresh from his bath, slightly damp hair and the gentlest of snores, watching the occasional smile play across his face and hoping he is having happy dreams, knowing he is safe in my arms.

He is a happy boy, gloriously happy. He usually wakes with a smile, and quite often of a morning will sit chatting to himself until we go in to see him. His noise of choice is babababa, but he also hums, squeals and blows raspberries as the mood takes him. Mama and Dada have not yet made an appearance, but he has quite animated conversations at times, and I can't wait to able to understand him and listen to what he has to say. He can now crawl at a lightning pace, and in the past week or so has been able to pull himself up onto his feet if there is something particularly tempting on the sofa that he would like to help himself to. His favourite things are phones and remote controls, though I am increasingly trying to keep those out of view, the dvd player, fireplace and oven, which are proving more difficult to hide! I find myself seeking out more play sessions out of the house, where I know we can go and spend a few hours in a relatively baby-proofed environment.

He doesn't really have a favourite toy. Millie will always capture his attention, and she is coping very well with the frequent ear grabbing and hair pulling that his new found mobility is bringing. He likes to bang things, and play with whatever toy I have just started putting away. A tower of any sort will be rapidly knocked down, and throwing anything up and down with sound effects is guaranteed to elicit raucous laughter for as long as the game continues. He is drawn to noise and screens, but also enjoys twanging the doorstop in our bedroom, and is definitely a fan of books, playing with them at length. I've quickly learnt that babies have board books for a reason, with one or two paper pages becoming the casualty of his over-enthusiastic scrunching.

He loves to watch the light when the car door opens, and still loves songs, now joining in with clapping his hands against mine with surprisingly accurate timing. Whenever he gets excited he waves his arms and kicks his legs, especially each morning as we head to the kitchen to see Millie for the first time that day, and he is a big fan of waving hello and goodbye, loving to be held up at the window so he can bang on the glass as anyone leaves. He has just recently started to interact more confidently with other babies, rather than just watching intently whenever we are in a group. His preferred method of introduction seems to be to nuzzle his forehead against someone else's, and I sit trying not to interfere in his first forays into making friends, whilst also trying to gently stop him grabbing hair, cheeks, and eyes, once his head rub has been accepted! 

His close family are the lucky recipients of his biggest smiles, he lights up when someone he knows walks into a room, particularly his daddy or his great-grandad, and though he has occasionally started to wobble his bottom lip when I try to stop him doing something he is determined to do, he is easily distracted from his imminent tears, and in general is incredibly good-natured. I feel like he makes motherhood incredibly easy, he is such wonderful company, and makes me feel like he thinks the same of me. I have laughed more in these last nine months than I can ever remember, and although his mobility brings an increasing fear of danger (for me, definitely not for him!) I am also in awe as I watch him grow and develop. 

He has even more of a personality now, and he seems to be a fun-loving, determined, adventure-seeking, happy boy who loves his family so whole-heartedly, and with such joy. I hope he knows we love him just the same way, and have felt so unbelievably lucky to share our lives with him, every single day of the last nine months.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

wonderful wednesday #11


Hello, I hope you are having a good week. Thank you for popping by for another round of Wonderful Wednesday-ness.  There are lots of happy little moments to reflect on this week, and yet again, I am frantically typing this during nap time, so I will crack straight on!

Join the Club: After doing the muddy 5k with me recently, my mum's neighbour's daughter, who also happens to be a good friend that I have grown up with over the years, invited me to join a running club with her. It is a beginners' club, doing a couch to 5k programme, and we went along for our first session on Saturday morning, with another one due tonight. It was great to go and be part of a group, and nice to feel like we have gone from friends through our parents, to being friends who socialise together (or exercise together!) of our own accord. It was also good to feel like the starting weeks of the couch to 5k are actually quite comfortable now, and realise that I have progressed from my first forays into running all those years ago.

Watermelon: I bought watermelon fingers for T to try, and as with any food he eats, most of it ends up on the floor. Millie tends to do a good job of hoovering it up after meal times, but if there is ever a new food I always check to make sure it's dog friendly, especially something like watermelon that might have hidden pips in. I googled "dog watermelon" and got rather more than I expected, when the images appeared under the search bar. See here, you won't be disappointed. 

Camera Time: Slowly but surely I am catching back up with the year with my camera project, after falling quite far behind. Once I got over the shame of posting homework that was two months late, I've really enjoyed getting back into playing with pictures, and have been gradually getting a bit more efficient with my editing/uploading process to, which always helps.

30 Second Mess: I am that unfortunate mix of someone who likes tidiness and organisation, but who also finds it easy to make a mess just by walking into a room. Often I would call or msn (remember those days) The Husband when we were both at our different universities, bemoaning the chaos that was my bedroom, and he would always describe it as a 30 second mess. It was always much, much worse than that, but he took the approach of spend 30 seconds and one bit will be tidied up, and then another 30 seconds, and so on. It has always stuck with me, and last night after a busy few days, the house was feeling a bit cluttered and so after T went to sleep we did a dash around the house. He did the hoovering with his headphones on while I sorted the bins and the recycling (I shall resist the urge to make satirical comments about boy and girl jobs), we got the dishes done, the washing sorted, and did a quick tidy round. It was so good to wake up this morning to a cleaner house, and has started today off in a positive way.

Calligraphy: Having splashed out on lots of new stationery with my earnings from my sugar challenge I have been enjoying doodling with my calligraphy pens. I even got a calligraphy book from the library and have been having a play with some of the projects in that, mostly though I'm just relishing the fact that I can spend 10 minutes being creative without having to make a huge mess (see above!) and that I can dip in and out easily without it feeling like a huge endeavour. 

Celebrations: It has been my stepdad's birthday this week, so we have had a few gatherings to celebrate, and we have big family celebrations planned later this week for my auntie's birthday too. It is lovely to spend time with my family, and now we have T, it adds extra joy too. 

So that is all from me this week, but if you would like to read some of the other wonderful posts:

Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

word of the week









You might have seen this recent post where I casually dropped in about having not eaten sugar for 60 days. As anyone who visits this blog regularly, or follows my instagram feed, will know, that isn't quite as casual as I made it sound, having a penchant, as I do, for all things sweet. This is quite a lengthy post, as I wanted to write this out so that I could reflect on my experience, now that I'm just over a week since I finished, so apologies for all of the words (particularly if you're visiting from word of the week, as I realise this is much longer than usual!)

I consider myself well-informed about nutrition, I usually cook meals from scratch, enjoy a varied diet, and understand how to read food labels. I know that most sauces, cereals, and yoghurts will have added sugar (particularly those labelled low-fat) and so I deliberately buy the least processed versions, or just make my own. I also disgaree with the idea that adding honey, or maple syrup is better than adding sugar and have been disappointed in the past by sugar-free cookbooks (Davina I'm looking at you) where every recipe seems to include a boatload of syrup instead. I even limit how much fruit juice I drink because it provides more sugar, and much less nutritional benefit, than eating the whole fruit.

So what was the problem? I was great at looking for hidden sugars, great at trying to avoid things that had been unexpectedly sweetened. Unfortunately, my issue is when it comes to the not-so-hidden sugars, the things that are quite obviously supposed to have sugar in, the chocolates, cakes, biscuits, sweets, and yes even those syrups and honey. While I would be sure not to be caught out by surreptitious sugar, I didn't have the same reservations for food that I knew was packed full of the stuff, and whether I was baking my own or buying it off the shelves, I couldn't leave it alone.

I've always had a sweet tooth, and food, particularly sweet food has always had an emotional element. Bad day, have a biscuit, good day, have some chocolate, celebration, eat cake, trip out, not a treat without an ice cream. Food has been so ingrained into every aspect of life, for me it is an incredibly social thing, and I tended to experience most events and emotions with a side order of sugar. I have long-joked that I have a pudding-shelf, by which I meant that however full I was, I always had room for dessert. Not only that, but I would very often say, at the end of a meal, that I "needed" something sweet. This has always been fascinating to The Husband, who enjoys chocolate and biscuits too, but with a completely different attitude to me. While he loves eating out, and going for celebratory meals, he eats when he is hungry, he doesn't crave sweetness for its own sake, and though he can chomp through a packet of biscuits while watching a film, he can also leave well alone for weeks at a time.

For me, I've never had the willpower. If I know there is something sweet in the house, I didn't need much excuse to raid the cupboard. Being home on maternity leave had brought it to a head somewhat, a couple of biscuits with each cup of tea (having to eat everything one-handed was an added justification), a few more if he went down for a sleep, a few more if it had been a tough hour. Even though I have been doing more walking than I have in years, often five or six miles a day, as well as regular runs, I knew my snacking was incredibly unhealthy. Additionally, now T was starting to eat meals with us, it was feeling particularly hypocritical to be tucking into to sugar-laden snacks while knowing I wouldn't dream of serving him the foods that I was relying on to get through the day.




I always tend to have an all-or-nothing approach to things, and this was no different. I initially thought about giving up chocolate for lent, until I realised we had got my Grandad an afternoon tea and a chocolate making workshop which was on Ash Wednesday, so that scuppered my plans a little! Instead I started on the Thursday and decided to extend it to 60 days. I ruled out everything sweet, with the exception of whole fruit, but even then I ruled out having it as dessert, as I wanted to be sure I was addressing the habit of needing something sweet after a meal. I accepted that naturally occurring sugars such as fruit sugars and milk sugars were fine as long as I didn't start cooking or pureeing the fruit, to make some kind of dessert or sweet smoothie. Honeys and syrups were a no go, and I also ruled out crisps and popcorn so that I wouldn't turn to a different snack, as well as alcohol, fruit juice, and flavoured coffees and hot chocolate.

My only exceptions were pre-bought savoury foods, such as breads, pizzas or curries, and my cereal, which is low in sugar but not without added sugar. As I said, I try and pick better options of these kind of items anyway, and I knew that for me, this wasn't the problem I was trying to address. After a discussion with The Husband we also agreed to an incentive, of a small amount of money for each day I succeeded. to treat myself with at the end. However The Husband also cleverly suggested that if I were to lapse, he would receive any of my earnings to that point!! I did a chart, resplendent with clip-art, stuck it up in the kitchen, and diligently set about marking off each day.

And do you know what, I did it. And I really didn't struggle. I think once I knew it was off the cards it just flicked a switch, and I could happily open the cupboards that had anything off-limits in without so much as a craving. What I found hardest was when I was poorly and I wanted builders tea with sugar, and mugs of honey and lemon. Otherwise, I went on quite happily. I did find that I became less hungry during the day, running round with T meant that if I couldn't raid the biscuit cupboard I'd quite often just grab toast or oatcakes. I also felt like I ate well, there were still trips out for fish and chips, cheese scones at the garden centre, cooked breakfasts at Ikea with my mum and T, pizza nights, the cookery calendar challenge. I still enjoyed food, and cooking, and even baked a cake for a friend without licking the spoon! I could also enjoy the pleasure of sitting and getting to drink a hot cup of coffee in it's own right rather than just using the drink as a receptacle for biscuit dunking.

The thing that has stuck with me most, is that we had a lot of celebrations during the 60 days. Easter, Mother's Day, our family holiday, a night out with The Husband for dinner and a film, trips out with my parents and countless movie nights at home. None of them felt any less special, or any less enjoyable through lack of sweet treats, and it was so refreshing to realise that having a good time isn't contingent on having a "treat" to eat. Similarly, there were plenty of sleepness nights, rough days, and low moments, and with the exception of missing my cold remedies, it was liberating to find that these moments passed just as quickly without inhaling a handful, or three, of hobnobs (the chocolate variety), I actually felt generally better because I didn't have the sugar induced highs and lows to go along with them.




So it has now been just over a week since I finished the challenge, and what has happened since? I have treated myself to some beautiful new calligraphy equipment, pens, watercolours, ink, and a light box, and also a nutribullet with my earnings! I have also started a new challenge, having enjoyed the sense of achievement and the positive changes it brought. But the big question is about the sugar. Health wise, I didn't notice much difference. I lost weight over the 60 days, which wasn't the reason I did it, but wasn't a surprise when I knew how many snacks I would be cutting out, and it finally took me to my pre-pregnancy weight which felt like a good goal to reach. Interestingly, although I wouldn't have said I noticed any changes during the 60 days, since I've reintroduced sugar, my skin and stomach seem to be flaring up, but only a little.  I haven't continued to exclude it entirely, for all I don't think too much sugar is good, I also think that ruling anything out completely (unless for health reasons) is not the route to a happy life. I genuinely feel though, that I have changed my relationship with it. We have a cupboard full of Easter eggs, and I have been able to have a taste, and wrap the rest up and put it back, which is a completely new for me. I have also avoided having anything during the day, unless I've been out for a trip somewhere.

In the last day or so I became aware that I was tempted to reach for the chocolate because I was tired, or the pile of washing up looked daunting, or just because I felt like a pick-me-up. I was able to reign it in though, and when I do have something sweet I feel like I able to savour it in small amounts, even the biscuit served with a coffee in a cafe tastes much sweeter and I enjoy it all the more for that. Do I consider it a success? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Without hesitation. However, I hope that I don't get to the point where I need to. I hope I can continue to eat sweet foods occasionally, like today where I went out and enjoyed a meringue with my Grandad, without suddenly needing to raid the cupboard mindlessly.  I wouldn't ever want to live completely without a pudding now and then, I love my food too much to never be able to sample a dessert menu! But I also feel like I have dissociated sugar from being a reward, and an emotional crutch. Food will always be part of celebrations for me, I love cooking, baking and sharing food with those I love, or eating out as part of a special occasion. It will always bring me joy, but now I look forward to making memories that don't all centre around eating, and look forward to knowing I can handle bad days and low moments in a healthier way.





Thank you for reading all of that, if you made it to the end! I'll be back soon to tell you about my next challenge, as I've realised it might be more reader-friendly to do it smaller chunks! Do let me know what your thoughts are, are you the proud owner of a pudding-shelf? Here's to good food, happy celebrations, and a sweet life, with and without added sugar!



The Reading Residence

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

wonderful wednesday #10



It's time for another look at some loveliness from the past week, and it's been a great one.

Marvellous Millie: That gorgeous little hound turns 4 years old today. We have celebrated with sunbathing in the garden and a trip to the park for a meet up with my friends, their children, and most crucially their dog who is Millie's playmate of old. They had a happy reunion, and I'm sure there will be treats for tea later too. She's such a wonderful companion, and has coped so well with the turmoil of a baby brother in the house. All she ever wants is company and cuddles (food obviously goes without saying), and I do enjoy the fact that now T has a more predictable bed time, we can have a couple of hours curled up with her just like the good old days.

Sunshine: It has been glorious here, although that has made me realise that I urgently need to purchase some suncream in order to be a responsible parent. The weather makes such a difference though, I've been walking T everywhere, and it feels so good to get out and about.

Cooking: The book I chose for this month's Cookery Calendar Challenge is proving to be a real success, I've already made three recipes from it and am planning a few more before I have to return it to the library! Everything I've made has turned out really well, and it has felt really good to be in the kitchen and making some more unusual dishes.

Getting Muddy: I took part in a Race for Life Pretty Muddy event over the weekend. I signed up on a whim, and then completely forgot about it. I was chatting with my mum's neighbour about starting going running with her daughter, we have grown up together over the years, and our two families are incredibly close. I suddenly realised the race was this weekend, got in touch to see if she fancied joining me, and three days later we found ourselves scrambling through cargo nets, bouncing on space hoppers, sliding down inflatables, and crawling through mud, mud and more mud, in the glorious sunshine. It was brilliant fun, all the better for having company, and felt like a real achievement. My family all came along to cheer us round (and take some brilliant pictures), and we are already thinking about doing a 10k one in June. My legs have been aching, and I've bruises everywhere, but I still get a huge grin whenever I think about it.

Impromptu Visits: The Husband's best friend from uni got in touch out of the blue to see if we were around. He lives a long distance away but happened to be in the area this weekend, so once I had managed to de-mud myself, we went for Sunday dinner followed by milkshakes, then had good chats over coffee at home. It was lovely to see him, really good for him to spend time with T, and it was also one of those occasions where we realised how happy we are where we live. It was so nice to be able to walk two minutes and have lots of options for things to do, yet also to be able to retreat back to home after and sit in the peaceful sunshine. A lovely weekend all round.

I think that's plenty of wonderfulness for this Wednesday, I feel like I could go on and on, I haven't mentioned photography, or stationery, or free gifts from fabulous companies, but instead, go and read some of the other wonderful posts:

Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

wonderful wednesday #9


I hope May is treating you well so far, it's time for another round up of some of the loveliness that's been going on round here:

The Breakfast Club: I met up with some close friends for breakfast in Manchester and it was lovely to see them and put the world to rights. As with last week, I'm finding that the early starts that come with parenthood are finally suiting me, and I was home just after 12 feeling like I still had most of the day left, while already having spent a good few hours in good company.

Impending Middle Age: My friends and I were reflecting on how life has changed since we were at university together, over 12 years ago. One friend was off to look at bathrooms that afternoon, while I was relishing in having no weekend plans. I did then manage to outdo her in the grown-up Saturday afternoon activity stakes by visiting a garden centre, and as I told them, taking an active interest in a rack of fleeces and waterproof jackets. There then ensued a conversation about the necessity of a good fleece and the joys of potential national trust membership. At least I am in good company!

Gardening: Just to further fit the stereotype, we returned from the garden centre and spent a happy hour in the garden. The Husband did some weeding, and I planted up our hanging baskets with plug plants we had ordered online. I also added some basil to my much-adored new herb pot, but this is my second attempt at planting a basil plant in amongst all of the other herbs, and it is looking like it may have failed again. 

Running: After a month's absence I have finally been back out on a few runs. The longer it goes the less inclined I am to start again, convinced that I will have lost any progress made, but actually, my pace has remained quite consistent with where I was at previously, and it has been rather enjoyable to get out for a quick burst of activity in the sunshine.

Library Love: I have always had a thing about libraries, my mum used to take me regularly when I was younger, at at University, I always felt most studious if I took myself over the library and holed up there. I love libraries, the peace, the sense of endless books to be read, and in the case of the university libraries I have visited the history within the walls. Having dropped out of using the library since starting work, yet reading more than ever in recent years, I have now rediscovered my love for them through T. I started by taking him to a session of songs and a story, which is twice a week at our local library. It is a brilliant activity, free, half an hour, and is one of the things we have done most consistently since he has been born. It was first attempt at any kind of baby group, and helped me build my confidence as a new parent venturing into the terrifying world of interacting with other parents! Since then, I have started to realise what a wealth of things I have been missing out on, and last weekend came home with a new recipe book and a DVD on loan. My favourite thing, though, is that it is the same library my mum used to take me to, and although it has changed in many ways, the layout, and the bright, welcoming children's room where we got to the class is the same one I used to spend hours in as a little girl. I love the fact that history is repeating in the nicest way.

f you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

first things first



The first of May.

I love it when the first day of a month is a Monday, it just feels like everything is nicely lined up, but when the first day of the month is a Bank Holiday Monday, well hurrah, that's an added bonus, with the promise of an extra day as a family, and a shorter countdown until the weekend.

The first morning waking up after a sleep in fresh bedding, with a day stretching ahead, and no real plans.

The first day today, when I can indulge my sweet tooth, after sixty days without sugar (or crisps, or alcohol). More on that in another post, but I'm intrigued to see whether chocolate will hold the same appeal now, I feel like perhaps I have beaten the craving, but I'll see how the next few days go!

Unfortunately, while my diet has improved drastically, I haven't kept up with the running. Having taken a week off when I got poorly, it stretched on into two, and then three weeks, and now it is over a month since I have had the trainers on. Last night I ventured out on my first run, just a mini one, determined to get fit for the 10k I have planned in a few months time. It wasn't horrendous, and I've been walking 3-4 miles regularly taking T out and about to the park and the library, so I'm hoping that has helped. After my sister-in-law ran the London Marathon this year, I casually suggested to The Husband that we could look at doing one together, maybe in October. I might be mad, I don't think there is anything casual about a marathon, but we have both wanted to do one for a while, and I wonder if signing up might be the prompt we need. The Husband has started looking at running watches today, so I'm wondering if I may have tempted him. Watch this space!

This month also brings with it our first family holiday with our extended family. My cousin and his family, and my aunt and uncle are joining us, my parents and my grandad for a week in a holiday rental property. It seems to have come around quite quickly, and I am very excited, especially as the property has a swimming pool, games room, and cinema room. T might be a little young for table tennis or movie nights, but he loves swimming and I can't wait to be able to take him for a splash each day!

Saturday was the first time I had a girly meet up with my close uni friends since T has been born. Once they got over the shock of me, queen of the all-nighter and steadfast night owl suggesting meeting at 9am (oh motherhood, thou hast changed me), we arranged to have breakfast in Manchester. It was a beautifully sunny day, I made it to the train in plenty of time, had a glorious few hours catching up, and was home before T woke from his nap ready for his next feed. It felt like everything went to plan, and it is still a revelation for me to be able to go out for a few hours and not worry that he might be hungry, particularly as he was never great a taking a bottle. It was a long leisurely breakfast (much to the chagrin of the staff I think, as the place was packed!) and a brilliant catch up. 

Finally, on the train home, I started the first few pages of Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. I haven't read her previous books though I had obviously heard of Eat Pray Love, but had read about this one a few times. It kept appearing in magazines, and I kept thinking it sounded interesting, and then I read a blog which referenced it, that I now can't for the life of me find (if it was you please tell me as I have hunted for it, and would love to link it back). I decided on a whim to buy it, and I'm glad I did. I did rather too many embarrassing snorts of laughter on the train, and the words have been popping up in my head, making me itch to pick it up and carry it on. It reminded me that the joy of being creative, in whatever guise that takes, is enough reason to carry on writing here, to carry on dusting off the calligraphy pens, to carry on trying to catch up with my camera projects. Not through a desire for comments, or approval, or popularity, but just through the joy that it brings me, the small pleasure I find, and so here I am.

Wishing you all a wonderful May, whether it be full of firsts, or enjoyable familiarity. 



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: April

I gave The Husband the choice for this month's book, and he went for the other James Martin book I have "borrowed" from my mum, My Kitchen. Although I was a little reluctant at first, having used a James Martin book for the challenge last month too, I remembered cooking some recipes from this book when I took part last year, and finding lots in there that appealed, so I let the choice stand! I like that this book is arranged seasonally, so I went with summer recipes again, and having realised, thanks to Christina, that it was perfectly acceptable to cook more than two recipes (it would never have occurred to me otherwise, being such a stickler for following rules resolutely!), I actually made three this month, as so many were tempting.



The first dish is the one I cooked most recently, and although I did make it, and did take pictures, I have alas not found a way to make koftas look in anyway photogenic or appetising on the plate, so I thought I would give you a glimpse of the book, and the much more successful photography within. These were simple to make, and were a nice alternative use for mince, that I would definitely try again. I did find this recipe a bit bland, but that may be because I used chopped fresh fennel rather than ground fennel, and some subsequent internet searching suggests that this may have resulted in a much milder flavour. I found they took a lot longer to cook through than the recipe suggested, though perhaps I made them thicker as I didn't mould them around skewers, just into small sausage shapes. I served them with pitta, homemade tzatziki, and the corn. I think the recipe is quite small in terms of portion sizes, it definitely needed the additional accompaniments to make a meal, but as one dish for a barbecue, which I guess was the intention, it would be a definite success.




The next dish was lemon and rosemary lamb with tahini aubergines, Again, I think it was designed as a barbeque dish, and so I added some garlic crushed potatoes to make it into a full meal. We don't usually eat lamb, I find it quite a fatty meat, and it can be expensive for small cuts, but I do enjoy the flavour and will often order it when eating out. The flavour of the lamb was beautiful, though again, it required longer cooking times than the book suggested, but this was likely due to our cutlets being quite thickly cut, as I bought a rack of lamb and carved them from that. The aubergines were a little overpowered by the lemon I thought, and the specially bought tahini paste got a little lost (any tahini suggestions welcome!). I will forever love this dish though, as it was the first time The Husband had tried aubergine, one of my favourite vegetables, that he has resisted up until now. T also tucked into a piece with gusto! Alas, I wouldn't say it was aubergine at its best, but I have bought another one, in the hope that an aubergine parmigiana might be an acceptable offering!




The first dish I made from the book was by far the most successful, despite inauspicious beginnings. Having bought all of the ingredients, the night when I had planned to make the tomato, basil and mozzarella pizza came round, and I was absolutely not feeling in the mood for making dough. I persisted though, and am so glad I did, it was declared an outright success by my pizza fiend of a husband, and I know for a fact we will be making this regularly. We eat pizza pretty often, it is such a quick meal, and with salad and sweet potato wedges it is a staple of our weekly meal plans, but I know shop bought pizza is not the healthiest option usually. This was so much better, and tasted so much more flavoursome, that I shall be rustling them up again very soon.

Next month, I will be using Rick Stein's Long Weekend, which I took out from the library on Friday as it sounded particularly apt as I browsed the shelves with T. I expect this might be another month where I make more than two recipes as just a quick flick through has revealed loads I want to try! I have made a few dishes from the internet this month too, and a particular success was the cauliflower pizzaiola, which used up a few ingredients that were languishing in the fridge, and provided a hearty meat free meal too.

The Cookery Calendar Challenge is the wonderful creation of Penny at The Homemade Heart, do use the button below to check out the other bloggers taking part and see what recipe books people have been dusting off this month.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

wonderful wednesday #8


I'm back with a wonderful Wednesday round up after a few weeks away, and trying to rattle this out while the baby naps so we shall see how far we get. I'm not sure why I've been absent from this space, there has been plenty of wonderful around these parts, and even though I haven't been writing about it, I do think having done just a few of these posts has already made me better at spotting the good stuff as it happens!

Early Mornings: Yes. I, the lifelong night owl have gone over to the dark side (should that be light side), and rather than fight the baby-inflicted early starts, have learnt to relish them. Sunday found us wandering through the park with the dog and the baby at half eight in the morning, admittedly when I suggested getting out and going for a walk, The Husband's first response was "do you mean [insert incredulous tone] before breakfast?", but even he agreed after we got back, and breakfast was being consumed, that it had been a good idea. Admittedly, early starts are all the easier after some sleep, which brings me nicely to....

Sleep: Not exactly sure how it happened, or how long it will last, so while I can I'm celebrating the fact that at the moment T seems to be enjoying sleeping overnight. It has made such a difference, from really struggling a few months ago with lack of sleep, and him not really eating, we now have a baby who eats anything and sleeps well. I know all of these things are likely temporary, and I know how hard it feels when those things aren't happening, so I'm not bragging, just celebrating my own little victories when they come around!

Television: We've never really been into tv in a big way, with the exception of Bake Off in my case, but we seem to have found a few programmes at the moment that we really enjoy. Line of Duty, which is usually in the realm of the too dark and grim for my liking, has got me hooked this season, after half listening while The Husband watched the last series. We've also been enjoying Masterchef, but my goodness, how much of a time commitment is that programme?? Just when I've caught up there's another three episodes waiting to be watched.

Sunshine: So it's still absolutely freezing, as I discovered at dog class with Millie on Monday, when my hands actually wouldn't move when I came to drive home, and there are still occasional downpours, which I experienced on the walk to the library on Monday, managing to get rained on and then dried off in the same half a mile walk (Monday was not a great weather day it seems!). But, despite all of that, more often than not I'm waking up to bright blue skies, and sunshine, and that just makes life cheerier. It makes it more tempting to leave the house, and it's generally good for the soul.

Work: Well, not actual doing of work, but getting in touch with my supevisors, and starting to make small steps to having plans for my return. Happily it is a long way off still, but it felt good to make contact, and being reassured that I hadn't been completely forgotten. I also took T to my old workplace on Friday, (I will be starting a different placement when I return) and it was lovely to see my boss there who I get on brilliantly with, and for her to get cuddles with T.

So, I'm quitting while I'm ahead as there are definitely sounds of a baby starting to stir, if you want even more wonderfulness,  then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too:
 JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: March

This month I cooked two recipes from James Martin's Masterclass, which is one of the many books I have on, ahem, extended loan from my mum! First up was polenta with wild mushrooms and parmesan. I chose this as I have been keen to try polenta, and also wanting to try and incorporate a few more meat-free dishes into our diet. Unfortunately, I overlooked the fact that I'm not a great fan of mushrooms, and so perhaps this wasn't a wise choice!




I also didn't realise that the cooling time required for the polenta was a lot longer than the cooking time for the mushrooms, as the recipe wasn't clear on how long to cool it for. Having already ended up making it on a night when I just wanted a quick dinner, because the mushrooms needed using, I'm afraid impatience got the better of me and I forged ahead with the frying of the polenta "squares" despite the fact that they were clearly collapsing as I tried to cut them. So, it was not a successful dish but more down to user error than anything wrong with the recipe! The Husband raved about it, and I must admit whilst texturally dubious, the polenta tasted delicious, although I think anything with that much butter and cheese in it would! I want to try and use the polenta again, with proper cooling time, and as there is plenty left in the bag, I may well do!




Next up was tandoori cod steaks. The fillets I got weren't as thick cut as I'd expected, I think cod loin would have been better, but this was a brilliant dish. The spice mixture was easy to make, and I had all of the various ingredients in the cupboard from previous curry recipes. After marinating the fish for a few hours, it cooked under the grill in ten minutes, and was full of flavour. I always enjoy curried fish when I choose it from a menu, and it was great to be able to recreate that style of dish at home. A great way to incorporate more fish into our diets, and a recipe I'll definitely be returning to again.




In a bid to use up some of the polenta, I tried to make these sweet potato fries from the BBC Good Food website this week. Alas, mine turned out dusty, rather than crunchy, so I continue on the hunt for a way to make my home-cooked sweet potato fries taste like the crispy coated ones I have eaten elsewhere! Any suggestions welcome!

The Cookery Calendar Challenge is the wonderful creation of Penny at The Homemade Heart, do use the button below to check out the other posts and see what recipe books people have been dusting off this month.

first things first



The first of April.

Last month was the first month since October when I didn't complete the running challenge I signed up for. Whatever bug I've had seems to have really wiped me out this time, and I decided to stop trying to push myself to carry on with it when my body seems to be in need of some rest. I'm hoping to get back out soon, especially now the weather is nicer, as I always feel good when I've been for a run, but for now I'll try and get back to full health first.

Monday marks The Husband's first day in his new job, having finished at his previous role on Friday. It will be big changes for him, travelling by train, working in a new organisation, taking on a more senior role. It is very exciting but having been in his last job for several years it feels like a major transition. 

For me, life has hit a gentle lull of routine. T and I pass our weeks with regular trips to the library, the swimming pool, walks to the park and visits to my parents and Grandad. Time is flying by and he is looking more and more like a little boy rather than a baby. It's easy to feel that there is nothing new happening, but every week brings changes, a myriad of tiny firsts, that are so small, and happen so quickly, I barely notice them. Then suddenly, I look back, and realise that he is doing so much more, and growing up before my eyes! Here's to noticing the little firsts that April brings, as well as the big ones, and savouring the smallest moments.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

wonderful wednesday #8



Back once again for another Wonderful Wednesday (I started writing that and I got intense flashbacks to this, which has simultaneously embedded itself in my head and made me feel very old indeed). Despite not being able to shake off another bout of the lurgy for nearly 2 weeks now (babies are germ factories it seems) there is plenty of wonderfulness to celebrate.

Baby Bliss: The picture above sums up the past week with my lovely little boy (with double chin artfully cropped out admittedly). He has been a delight this week, endless smiles and giggles, a particular fan, it transpires, of the chorus of Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs (mostly the aahaahaahaahaaaah bit), still loves balls being thrown and caught with accompanying sound effects, and being swung around and tickled under his chin. He has now taken to eating with gusto, and I am much relieved, and spending increasing amounts of time trying to satiate his ever increasing appetite. We had quite a few weeks where everything was being spat out, and it brings me so much joy to see him enjoying (and swallowing!) food. Sleep has improved a little, or a least 4am starts are now 5am starts since the clocks have gone forward which feels much more humane somehow. This week has been all about the wonderful parts of parenting and I am feeling very lucky, and very in love!

Monday with Millie: On Monday night I took Millie to an obedience class. It is not that she has become particularly disobedient, if anything she is much better at ignoring other dogs when we are out walking, but I had a scary moment a few weeks ago where the lock on her extendable lead somehow failed as she pulled and she shot out into the road. She was absolutely fine but it shook me up, especially as just moments later two cars came whizzing past, and I had one of those what if moments for the rest of the night. Also, I wanted to start trying to make sure she had a bit of one on one time, as she has been so accepting of the massive change to home life in the form of T, and I thought it would be nice for her to get a bit of fussing and undivided attention. So it was, on a beautifully sunny evening, Millie and I were to be found in a field, with her getting lots of treats, praise and cuddles, plenty of fresh air, and I came home feeling very glad indeed for a bit of quality time with my lovely girl.

Family: It has been a real family effort while I've been ill, I actually took a sick day from parenting just over a week ago, and my parents took T for the day, so I could sleep and try to recover a little. I know not many people have that option, and I felt so very lucky to have them so close, so that I could still get a middle of the day cuddle with him, but at the same time give myself a fighting chance of feeling better. Although I'm still feeling grotty, that day was so very much appreciated, and it was good to think he was having a day of being spoilt and doted on by his grandparents rather than coughed at by a bleary eyed mum!

Gardening: For Mother's Day, The Husband bought me a bundle of things for our veg planter, and suggested that we start a tradition of planting some seeds each year on Mother's Day. Initially slightly sceptical at the idea of hard labour on a day I had more traditionally associated with pampering and relaxation, we had lunch at a local garden centre with my family, bought some additional herb pots, pansies and strawberry plants, and then spent a happy two hours in the sunshine sewing seeds, planting herbs, and listening to music while T played in his chair and Millie lay on the lawn. Followed up by a fancy meal at home and some time spent doing my nails, and he had planned a pretty perfect day. I love that every time I come in the front door, or look out the kitchen window I can see the pots we planted up, and hopefully the products of our labours will be a happy reminder of those few hours for the rest of the year. He's cleverer than I give him credit for sometimes!


If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

wonderful wednesday #7

Just a quick one, as I have spent rather longer than intended on this month's first things first post, and I'll regret it if I don't get to sleep very soon!! There has been so much wonderful happening in February that I haven't actually done one of these posts for a few weeks. For a longer round up of some of the big things that have been going on, see here, but for today, some small bits of wonderful....

Afternoon Tea: We bought my Grandad an afternoon tea and chocolate making demonstration at a lovely bakery nearby. I happily accompanied him today, and it was a wonderful few hours. The talk and demonstration was really interesting, and the afternoon tea was delicious. T had a wonderful time with his grandparents too, and so a happy afternoon was had by all, except perhaps for The Husband, who was at work.

New Bedding: After the middle of the night bedding changes last week, I splashed out on a spare, spare, set of bedding, as it seems at the moment that two sets is simply not enough! It has been so lovely to clamber into not just freshly washed sheets, but fresh out of the packet sheets.

5 miles: Having not kept on track with my 28 miles in 28 days, I suddenly had 8 miles to run in 2 days before February finished. The upshot was that on Tuesday evening I headed out in torrential rain to do five wet, cold miles, and managed to keep a reasonable pace, and actually smiled most of the way round. I quite enjoyed running in the rain, and it was one of those runs where the music seemed to be exactly right, with each track spurring me on to keep going for just one more song, to the point that I did a lot less walking and a lot more running than I first anticipated.

Surprise visits: I was messaging my close friend in the midst of a tough week, and when she didn't reply to a message I was wondering if I'd overdone the offloading, only for her to appear at the door in the middle of a busy day just to say hi, give me a hug, and chat in person for ten minutes. It was such a lovely surprise, not even long enough for a cuppa, but made me feel very lucky to have such an amazing friend, and much better about my week.

Pancakes: Of course. Specifically, my grandad's pancakes, which we enjoyed yesterday afternoon, are, in my opinion, unbeatable, and I'm convinced fuelled me to do that run. Followed closely by The Husband's savoury pancake, which was waiting for me when I got back from the run. Along with a few more sweet ones for dessert for good measure!


If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

first things first


The first of March.

The first six months of parenthood to our incredible little boy. So at six months old, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate him exactly as he is at the moment, before any more firsts happen and another six months fly by.

He has the most incredible giggle, a real full-on chortle that lights up a room. His favourite thing in the world is Millie, and he quite often bursts out laughing just at the sight of her. He has started to recognise his family, and generally greets those he knows with a toothy grin. His bottom teeth have been through for a while, and we have the first top one emerging at the moment, so there has been plenty of drool, and some funny faces as he gets used to the new addition!

We are just venturing into the world of food, so he doesn't really have any favourites, except to say that if I have spent time peeling, cooking, blending and spooning something he is far less inclined to eat it than when my parents offer him a chew on some pear. When he does humour me, he wants to hold the spoon himself, and occasionally manages to get it somewhere near his mouth.

He got a walker from my parents for Christmas, and he is often to be found moving disconcertingly quickly around the kitchen in his wheels. He likes to make a beeline for anything dangerous, such as a hot oven, drawers open at head height, those kind of things. He also follows the dog around, to try and open drawers, and more recently has taken to sidling up to me and grabbing my cardigan to chew on.

He can sit up now, but mostly prefers to be on his front, and has mastered the art of shuffling backwards, which means he often reverses under the sofa until his bottom prevents him from going any further. He will sleep for ages as long as he is curled up against someone's chest, but when he is awake he has to be on the go, and will get grouchy unless you are moving him around and walking about the place. Nappy changes are becoming an increasingly complex operation, as he doesn't want to lie on his back at all any more, and has taken to strewing the contents of his changing table about. Being showered with cotton wool balls while trying to fasten a nappy around a back to front baby feels like some kind of weird game show and all the things that were conveniently placed nearby are now having to be moved further and further out of reach.

He has absolutely no routine whatsoever, with the exception of having a bath and a book around the same time each evening. Sleep, both at night and during the day, is still largely unpredictable, and he can't bring himself to go to sleep if there is something more interesting going on. No matter how sleepy he is, he will keep himself awake if he gets the impression he might be missing out. He has been droopy-eyed as we have arrived at the library, but the minute the singing session starts he is wide awake and bouncing around again. Christmas Day and my birthday meal both found him awake long past his usual times because he could tell there was fun to be had! He does seem to have moved into his own room without much fuss at all, but I haven't quite brought myself to put away the travel cot from our bedroom yet!

He has just started to join in a bit more when we go out, and has started squealing along to the songs at the library, and also splashing me with alarming gusto in the swimming pool. It is lovely to be at the point where he is starting to interact, as usually when something is new he quietly takes it all in, which meant the first few swimming trips felt a lot like I was moving him around in the water while he looked at me somewhat nonplussed. Now I have no idea what he looks like because he keeps drenching me with water and laughing!

He has a few songs that he definitely likes, mainly the ones that involve lifting him up and down very energetically, and I am anticipating that I will soon have biceps of steel. He found me swinging a sock about disproportionately hilarious yesterday, and after a morning where he had been particularly unsettled, this raucous laughter suddenly broke through at the simple act of sliding a sock around the bed and absolutely made my day. We have lots of songs, a song for getting him dressed (the hokey-cokey), a song for putting socks on (an adapted version of once I caught a fish alive) which we sing a lot, and the theme tune to the crystal maze is a sure fire way to a smile. He likes train noises, which I have just discovered works particularly well for teeth brushing, a very exaggerated version of the ABC song, and my night time concerts tend to include Elbow, Travis, and more recently the full length version of American Pie which I now know word perfectly.

Life as a parent is so all-encompassing. It feels like we talk of little else, and the smallest things take on such huge significance. He has grown so very much, and there is something miraculous about seeing this little person that you have made gradually discover the world before your very eyes. He loves playing with his feet, and studying his hands, all normal, typical baby things, but seeing the gradual transitions up close really bring it home how fascinating human development is.

 I don't find motherhood easy at times, the introvert in me is having to get used to the fact that quiet alone time is a thing of the past unless I very deliberately seek it out, but I do find being his mum the most natural thing in the world. I love the way his head rests on my shoulder, how he wraps his arms around my neck, and that he has started placing his hands on top of mine when I'm doing the actions to songs. As much as the middle of the night waking is tough, I find something so peaceful sitting in the dark stillness as he drifts back off in my arms, and often sit up longer than I need to relishing the quiet bubble and the cuddles as he clings to me in his sleep. I love seeing my close family in new ways, he brings so much joy to those around me, and it is so special to see. Watching The Husband be such an amazing dad is incredible, even if T did utter something that sounded suspiciously like DaDa the other day, which I am trying not to be too perturbed by! Motherhood hasn't made me any better at small talk, or any better at walking into a group of people and making instant friends, but it has made me more confident, more independent, more proactive, and has given me a sense of strength. I would do anything in the world for him, and love him so fiercely it surprises me. 

I think he is going to be mischievous, and a bundle of energy. I expect to need eyes in the back of my head, and lightning reflexes. I already feel that I am wearing new glasses that highlight potential danger everywhere I look, and home seems to suddenly be awash with sharp corners and protruding edges. If his current personality is anything to go by though, he seems to be a very happy, content little boy, loving, giggly, and so very excited by the world, long may it last.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: February

For February, I chose to cook from The Hairy Bikers' Eat For Life, which is the second book in their Hairy Dieters range. I cooked from their third book as part of the Cookery Calendar Challenge last year with mixed results, and although I have used this book a lot before, I had a similar experience this time.




The first recipe I picked was a low-calorie chicken tikka masala. One of the things I like about this series of books is that there are lots of dishes that feel like hearty recipes or treat dishes with small changes to make them healthier. The "fake-aways" are a key feature, and it is good to feel like you can have what might otherwise be junk food without it being incredibly bad for you. This curry was simple, and didn't include too many spices, which some of the other recipes do, so I had in everything I needed. The marinade required a bit of planning ahead, and I served it with naan rather than rice, and it was a great weekend supper. I do enjoy vegetables in curries, which this didn't have, but there are other curry dishes with more of a vegetable based sauce that I will try in the future.




The second dish was sticky chicken with homemade coleslaw. I was less pleased with this one. Again, other than the white cabbage for the coleslaw, all of the ingredients were ones I had in, and I served it with wholewheat wraps and some potato wedges. The coleslaw was enjoyable, really fresh and tasted much lighter for being made with a mixture of yoghurt and mayonnaise. I preferred it to shop-bought, and would make it again, and as the rest of the cabbage is still in the fridge through lack of any other ideas, it might be making a reappearance soon! I was less of a fan of the chicken, although The Husband enjoyed it. I found it to be more of a loose sauce than a sticky glaze, and I don't enjoy chicken thighs as much as chicken breast, so I don't know that I'd be rushing to repeat it. It was a simple sauce, with a good flavour, that I might use in other dishes, but it wasn't quite the effect I was expecting from the description. I notice the blogger I have linked to above seems to have been more successful so I wonder if it might be worth a second attempt at some point.

I said last month that I would also like to include a monthly link to an online recipe, as I use them a lot, and then, typically, I didn't make a specific recipe from the internet this month, but I have used it for inspiration for a few dishes, including homemade raita and a tomato, mozzarella and basil conchiglie. I thought it was appropriate to share this one as it is also by The Hairy Bikers. I used it to make the pie filling, which I then topped with sliced potatoes rather than pastry. I haven't decided on next month's book yet, there are a few I am keen to try, and my friend bought me a tagine with a recipe book as a Christmas present so that will definitely feature in the project at some point. As always, use the link below to see what others have been cooking as part of Penny's brilliant challenge.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

word of the week

Well this is probably more a word of the fortnight, or perhaps even longer! Since I last wrote here it feels like lots and lots has happened, and while I'm not quite sure how February is nearly over, at the same time we seem to have crammed lots in to the shortest month!

The day before my birthday we got the brilliant news that The Husband had successfully been offered a new job. It is a promotion and a move to a new organisation, so it is an incredibly big achievement, and I am amazingly proud. It was a fabulous start to a long weekend of celebrations. We went on a bear hunt on my birthday (although I was sad to read the attraction has closed permanently after Storm Doris), it was a fun way to spend some time as a family, and then we had a lovely meal with my parents and Grandad at night.

We have also been to visit the church where we got married for a lovely mass, and then our wedding venue for a coffee. It felt special to be back and have our little boy with us. Valentine's day included a family 5k run as part of the running challenges I have been doing, and a meal at home.

The last week has also marked six months since our little boy was born, and in fact it turned out to be exactly a year since we told people I was pregnant at my 30th birthday party! After 6 months it's about time I actually decided what to call him on here, so I'm going to go with his initial, T, for want of anything more original! He is now sleeping in his cot in his nursery, and it felt like a big step for him to move out of our room, though a full night's sleep is proving elusive still! We also started the first steps to weaning but it has not been as straightforward as I expected, with lots of mess, and quite a lot of coughing and vomiting. A much thinner apple puree seems to have been more successful the last few days, but still only a morsel at a time! He is full of a cold, and teething too (we have a first top tooth making its appearance), so I'm pretty sure that must be playing part, and writing this I realise that it's less than a week since he first tried any food at all, so perhaps we are not doing too badly really! I didn't really get in to the habit of doing milestone posts when I was pregnant, or since he has been born, but I may yet do a six month one (albeit a little late) as I feel it will be nice to look back in the future and read what he was like at this age, particularly as we looked at his first outfits tonight and were shocked (and a little teary) at how much he has grown already.

My lovely Grandad has had quite a few scans and hospital appointments in recent weeks, and is also recovering from the same cough that seems to have laid most of us low repeatedly since Christmas. He is doing well otherwise, and if he wasn't having any tests we wouldn't know that there was any need for him to be seen, but it is always worrying seeing a loved one going through appointments and scans, especially when it's someone like my Grandad who is always so fit and well. Luckily we have had lots of happy trips too, including a brilliant concert at the Bridgewater Hall with him, and a fabulous night seeing Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl.

This week there have also been surprise visits from my best friend, new bedding purchased and duvet dry cleaning after an early morning vomiting explosion from T, and the usual swimming and library trips. I also managed to catch up with A Year with My Camera reading this weekend, and made some actual notes in a new notebook with pretty pens, which was a fun way to spend half an hour. I realise this has mostly turned into a diary post, but I wanted to spend some time reflecting on everything that has happened recently. This week has been quite tough at times, between the teething, the vomiting, the clean-up operations and the appointments for my Grandad, so it has been a lovely way to end the week realising how much the good stuff far outweighs any of the less positive parts. Having said that, I have just also realised that in order to finish my February challenge I need to do 8 miles in the next 2 days, so perhaps the whirlwind isn't over just yet!!


The Reading Residence