Tuesday 24 June 2014

A Slight Case of Blogger Burnout

I think I’m suffering from a slight case of blogger burnout at the moment. My blog has been quiet partly because of the house move, partly because of the holiday, and partly because I’m busy doing paid work. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

Moving house was so stressful, I know this should have been expected, but I was surprised by just how stressful it was. I always thought when people talked about the stress, they meant the stress of physically moving, which doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t mind packing or unpacking, so thought it would be relatively plain sailing.

It wasn’t. It was ridiculously stressful. We sold our house back in February, within a couple of days of putting it on the market (pro tip: when trying to sell a house with a toddler in, take the toddler away for a few days so the house stays tidy). Our sale was going through fine, our buyers were lovely and patient. But buying the next house was almost impossible. The process seemed to stretch out for months on end. Every time something could go wrong, it did. At one point we thought we’d lost the house forever. I can only apologise to all of the friends who counselled me through this (very) whingy period in my life.

Then, all of a sudden it was back on, and we had three weeks to move. By this point my parents were off sunning themselves in Europe, so packing became a two step process of 1) putting things in a box 2) trying to stop the toddler taking them out of the box. I also had heaps of work on, so had simply no time for anything but packing, whinging and working.

Then we moved house, and Laurie went back to work the very next day leaving me with a toddler and a house full of boxes. Unpacking was slow, and is still going on. Do not look in the cupboard under the stairs. The week after the move, my workload increased and I was desperately trying to get it all done before going on holiday.

The house we bought has been unloved for some time. And is very magnolia. I think it will take us years to get it in order. It needed some (many) remedial works doing, so these were started while we were on holiday. The holiday was wonderful, it was just so nice (read: necessary) to get away from all the stress for a while. Away from the house, away from work, away from emails. I read books. I napped. We walked along the beach. It was perfect.

We got home to find the building works in process, so the house is a bit of a building site at the moment. It’s very dusty and noisy, and the neighbours probably hate us because our builders are not shy of 9am starts on Sundays. Unpacking has taken a backseat while the house is covered in plaster, but yesterday I managed to set up my office (MY OFFICE!), and already it’s made me more productive. I knew having to sit at a dining table was forcing me to check Facebook so much. Ahem.

Ebony keeps waking up early, and demanding that she eats breakfast immediately. After an early start, we spend our days seeing friends, going to groups and playing at home. It’s fun, and I love it, but it is tiring. At the end of the day, when Ebony is tucked up in bed, I open my laptop and start working. I try to work a couple of each night, and at the end of that long and exhausting day, I’m usually too wiped out to sit down and blog. I’m hoping to get on top of it soon, and have loads of things I want to write about, so hopefully I’ll be up and running again soon.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Living Arrows 22/52, 23/52 & 24/52

We've been so busy lately that the weeks seem to be flying by at the moment. The first photograph shows Ebony stroking our newly adopted kitten, Bear, it seems they share a love of jigsaws. We were so busy getting the new house ready, helping the kitten settle in, packing for holiday and trying to tie up lose ends at work, that I forgot to take a photograph. So this is just one of the shots I'd taken on my phone that week.

The second photograph was taken in Barcelona. We went to Spain on holiday last week, and traveled to Barcelona for the day to meet my parents. Ebony hadn't seen them for a couple of months because they've been traveling round in their motor home, so she seemed pretty excited to finally get to spend time with them again.

The final photograph was taken on the beach in Spain, we went there most days and spent a few hours lounging by the sea. We bought Ebony a bucket and spade on the first day, and that seemed to keep her pretty busy, though most of her sandcastles collapsed before they'd even left the bucket.
living arrows

Friday 6 June 2014

Saying Goodbye to Our Home

We have just moved into a new house. I wrote the above on the wall in the murky depths of the cupboard under the stairs just before we left. We lived in our last house for three years. It doesn’t sound long, but in that time I grew a baby, birthed a baby and raised a toddler, so it feels like we lived there for a lifetime. We outgrew the house pretty quickly, or at least felt like we had, and so it soon felt time to leave. We have a new home now, and moving day was pretty rushed, so it didn’t feel like we were really able to say goodbye to the house that was our home for those three wonderful years.
It was in that bathroom, that beautiful bathroom, where I first peed on the stick. Our spare room already transforming into a nursery in my mind. And that bathroom would become my home for the next nine months, the first few spent with my head in the toilet. Then later, as the aches and pains of pregnancy appeared, I would spend hours in the bath, listening to Ben Folds’ Gracie on repeat, and just feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed. I was in the bath when I listened to a Woman’s Hour special about birth, and sobbed along as I listened to parents, old and new, reflecting on their first nights with their new babies. One man spoke of toasting to the new baby with a glass of champagne, snugggled up with their new baby after a homebirth, and I so hoped that would be me.
I could think of no better place to give birth, that that little house we called home. And so, sometime around 4am on a cold morning one January, a midwife knocked upon our door. She came in, quietly, and busied herself lighting candles and turning off lights. A few hours later, we welcomed our baby girl, born in our living room at home. I have spent many hours sitting in that same spot, remembering the first time I held my newborn baby, terrified that I would drop her.
For the next few months, I spent hours cuddled up with her in the living room. Feeding, cuddling and watching TV, letting the hours fly by as we got to know each other. I must have climbed those narrow stairs thousands of times in search of clean nappies and a change of clothes.
As she grew older, our hardwood floors were covered in cover upon cover, so terrified was I that she would bang her precious head. The living room was a sea of blankets, against the shore of a cushioned fire hearth. I watched her roll, then sit, then crawl, all within the confines of the padded universe I had created for her.
The months passed quickly, and as she grew older still, the dining room because the lab where she would experiment with new foods. The floor was often multicoloured, painted in tomato sauces, blackberries and soya yoghurt.
The fireplace was secondhand, rehomed from a couple putting in a wood burning stove. The surround still held the nails on which they had hung their childrens’ Christmas stockings. As her first Christmas approached, I made her a Christmas stocking of her own to hang upon those same nails.
She took her first steps across that living room, confidently striding forwards after months of careful planning and practice from the safety of the sofa. The stairs I couldn’t climb up after giving birth, too exhausted from the exertion, soon became the stairs she wanted to climb herself. I would stand below her, always watching, as she stumbled shakily from step to step. She fell twice, of course, always into my waiting arms, treasuring her independence.
The spare bedroom we used for friends when we first moved it, soon became a nursery. Painted and furnished by the end of the pregnancy, with a beautiful white cot waiting for a baby to cradle. And yet, she slept with us every single night, usually between us, switching sides to cuddle each of us in turn as she slept. From the tiny newborn resting beside me, to the strong willed toddler pulling me out of bed to play jigsaws at 5am.
The garden, always my least favourite spot in the house, was beautiful with her in it. Two summers of paddling pools, with her pottering about with her swimming costume on, rescuing drowning flies from her pool. The cold, wet days spent sliding through the mud in a rainsuit, and digging in the earth with a plastic spade.
And that street. The one I walked down so many times with my newborn baby wrapped tightly in a sling, sleeping on my chest as we set off on another adventure. The street she toddled down when she first learned to walk, excitedly chasing the neighbourhood cats in a desperate (and usually unsuccessful) attempt to stroke them. And the street she walk down confidently, stopping by the road to wait for my hand, as we strolled to the shop for whatever it was she had demanded that day.
I love our new house, and I do not miss sitting in a small house filled with toys, but it was hard to say goodbye to the home where my daughter was born. And the home she found her footing in, the home where I became a mother.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Living Arrows 20/52 & 21/52

I'm behind. I'm always behind. The top photograph was taken during our last week at our old house. The weather was beautiful, so we set up the paddling pool in the garden and Ebony spent a couple of days splashing around in it. Getting prepared for the house move was pretty stressful, so it was nice to take a few days to just enjoy the weather and have fun.

The second photograph was taken on moving day, as Ebony explored our new garden. Our last house had a gravel path, so there wasn't anywhere for Ebony to ride around on her scooter. Me and my sister spent hours cycling up and down the path at my parents' house, so I always felt bad that Ebony couldn't do that. Our new house has a concrete path around the back of the house, so now Ebony will be able to practice her scooting to her heart's content. Here she is having her first scoot down the path, much to my excitement. When It was taken on my phone because my camera battery had died and, of course, I had no idea where I'd packed the wire.
living arrows

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