posted on: Saturday, 27 October 2012

Oops - where did that week go?! One minute it was Monday morning and the next, I was hunkering down for Friday night. Speaking of Friday nights; Boo went to a neon-themed disco last night (sporting a pink 80's tutu skirt) with her new school friends. I dropped off at the door, did not get out of the car, drove away thinking that things seem to have moved on. She got dropped home after 9.30pm. I sense that this is the shape of things to come; no longer does the family move as one unit. Their needs and wants are becoming more independent. And my Friday night spent waiting to hear about what a great time she had. Anyway...

...simple is beautiful; swedish summerhouse via dust jacket attic...
It has been half term and it continues next week so most days have been spent walking at the beach, running child-friendly errands, play dates, a disproportionate amount of time in the car, battling with local traffic. Also a glimpse into the future; relentless dropping off, picking up.

I have come to realise that one side effect of my not working is that everything is possible, I say 'yes' to almost all requests, from whatever source, to use up time in the day. Whereas before I would always shy away, say 'no', edit my time ruthlessly; now I am open to wherever the day takes us. I notice though that it's easy to become swamped by arrangements, many of which suit others more than me. I find myself agreeing to things that I needn't, because I can. I need to learn at-home assertiveness. I had it down pat at work, in meetings, with regards to my professional place in the world. But as a stay-at-home-Mum, I am learning.

A realisation this week also - to do with our house. Over time we have, I must admit, fallen out of love with it. I could look back on past blog posts of our home, peppered with pretty pictures of apples in the garden and lavender love seats. In so many ways, this farmhouse is a country idyll. However over time, the very antiquity of it has become draining. There are shabby corners, structural issues, parts of the house don't 'work' for family life. As a cottage, there are bottlenecks and places where the stuff of family life gathers.

I also got envious. And self-conscious. A handful of visits to much grander homes of others made me regard my own with different eyes. I am curious about this; house one-up-man-ship. I didn't think I would fall foul of it, but in actual fact, I am shame-faced to admit: I have. The thing is, I am not usually the type to look at others and yearn for what they have. I am generally pretty comfortable in my own skin.

So - this week, after much discussion, we have decided we need to have a fresh look at our home and plan, long term, to make it work better for us. This will involve big building work and lots of change but in the long run, it will continue the farmhouse love story that started about eight years ago when we moved here.

So, you see it's all home and family-focused and that's why I have been absent for a week. I hope you've all been OK in the meantime :-) Nice to be back.

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 19 October 2012

A week that was; one child on school holidays, the other, bizarrely not. Dog-sitting another pup. My Dad to stay. Husband who was European-city-hopping for work. A smattering of sunshine, then rain and more rain...

Whilst I am loving the pace of my life and the fact that the pressure is off, my mind does wander off to other things in amongst the seemingly endless driving to drop off and pick ups. Watching hockey practice on a Tuesday evening and I spend the time pondering what it would be like to jet off to an exotic beach for weeks. Or immerse myself in pure city life for a few days - just he and I and - dare I say - no kids?! I know this is how the pendulum swing works. I am all for family right now and have devoted myself utterly to my children's school schedules and evenings spent counselling through physics homework and such like. It's so very domestic and so very natural. But there is part of me, no matter how pleasing I find the home, that yearns for travel and mind-broadening. I never thought I had much wanderlust, but in recent weeks, it has raised its head.

This weekend is a family one though with friends Danish relatives flying in for my Mum's 70th birthday. My Mum is one of life's awesome people, so we will celebrate her and her 70 years!

Have a wonderful weekend...

...impossibly pretty...

...positively yearning for a city break...
via girlsack

photograph by elizabeth messina

via brown dress with white dots

...I don't know for sure, but I suspect my life might be complete if I had these shoes...from emerson fry pretty via patterson maker

kate winslet...photograph by miguel reveriego

In the mind of me...

posted on: Saturday, 13 October 2012

School pick-up newest of new Mummy. I adopt the smile-at-everyone-approach in the hope that it works. Or alternatively, I end up looking like some insane smiling lady.

Outfit choices; mastering the daily dress. Living in a temperate climate means that the vast majority of times jeans are the item of choice. Trying to break the habit. Loving brogues and grey cardigans.

via i like fudge
Watching Boo fly in what she does, even if there are hurdles to leap (and my goodness, there are).

Enjoying my son's unadulterated excitement at the reveiving an award at his new school. Remembering how when you are seven, going the head master's office to shake his hand and be given an award is shake-making, scary and fun all rolled into one.


Trusting my instincts and going with a graphic designer who has so come up with goods on the the business rebrand. I am loving the design process; I was born for aesthetics.

Thinking I know someone well and then not really knowing them at all. Disconcerting.

Yoga stretches. Wishing I was Tara Stiles. Downward Dog.

...tara stiles...
Trying to stay away from the need to acquire lovely, new, white, prohibitaively expensive, high-thread-count bed linen. I read that you are truly middle class if you know the thread count of your sheets. Ditto if your house is painted in Farrow and Ball Slipper Satin (mine is). Discuss.


Missing my oldest friends. I had to miss a recent University reunion and I fear, I will always regret that I did.

Waiting impatiently for the next episode of Homeland.

I am what I am.


posted on: Thursday, 11 October 2012

My ability to do nothing is gathering a pace. I am making an art form of pottering. Countless cups of coffee at various friend's kitchen tables have become my mainstay. I visit the beach every other day; it never, ever fails to lift my spirits, even if they weren't low in the first place.

My time off work, the purpose of which was family-focused, has turned me-focused. It sounds cliched, but I am discovering all sorts of things about how I want to live, what I want to spend my time doing, where I want to be, simply from having time off. I can't tell whether the sweetness of it is the fact that it's temporary; I know I will go back to the corporate world, but in the meantime there is time.

For all of this self enlightenment, there are still little worries. I wouldn't be me unless there were worries. This time on my hands means I fret about the children and numerous other things that wouldn't historically have got a look-in! I work hard to control the fretting as after all, life is too short isn't it?!

Grateful for...

posted on: Friday, 5 October 2012

As a cosmic counter-balance to yesterday's outpouring, this is what I find myself grateful for today:

That there is a writer such as Judy Blume, whose books I devoured as an eleven year old, whose books I now give to my eleven year old to read. A girl's rite of passage.

That tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.

That at the end of every day, my little family all come home.

That I have health. Whilst I may not always have comfort, I have health.

That boys will be boys; as consistent as the tide.

That there is coffee.

photograph by natasha

That there are memories. I had lots of old photos scanned for my Mum's forthcoming 70th birthday; this is her! How cool is she?!

That when I wake and look to my side in the mornings, he is there, he still rocks my world after twenty years.

via better than fine
That I can now cook a repertoire of winter meals; pies, crumbles and bakes.

That there is such a thing as letterpress. Paper loveliness that can make my heart flutter and the fact that I can utilise it for L'Apothecary designs :-)

That some people still dress to look sharp.

It's my husband's birthday tomorrow, we are having dinner with our best friends so I am looking forward to a night of laughter and good food. Thank you so much for your comments to my last post - as ever, wisdom pours out of blog readers.

Have a delicious weekend!

Honesty...warning: not sugar coated or rose tinted...

posted on: Thursday, 4 October 2012

It's not a bad time, by any means, things are tickety boo. But my goodness, the requirement for positive thinking has worn me down. I have realised that thinking positively has become part of the fabric of me - despite being a born and bred pessimist, glass-is-half-empty person. I have made my glass three quarters full. Pat on the back for me :-)

via from new york city with love
Round here, things roll on in an autumnal fashion, apples ripening, leaves falling, rain rain and more rain. The extent of the British winter feels like it's looming this year; I have become acutely aware of seasonal transitions and this will be the most significant. The prospect of months of overcast weather makes it hard for me to stay positive! So limited are the wonderful crisp sunny days, so plentiful are the low-cloud, dank days that seem to characterise our British climate.

My heart is aching today for my boy, whose flying start to his new school has in some ways, been short-lived. His new school is bigger and more challenging; surely good things in the long run, but in the short term I am literally watching him bend his personality to suit it. He is a simple soul and takes life very literally and I wonder how he copes in those school hours, trying to fit in. I find myself wondering whether this 'fitting in' in life is what we all do to some degree? I tell him to be strong and if the popular boys won't play with him, go and make a new friend. But that's easier said than done. At the same time, I empathise; I find myself longing for my old established friends. Being the new school Mum that I should be, is exhausting.

from anthropologie...via crush cul de sac
Long term readers of this blog will know that I have this pain thing; I have for a few years had pain in my teeth and my jaw; largely unexplained and largely untreatable from a medical perspective. It has been wildly frustrating getting a diagnosis, treatments have failed and what I was left with was the mandate to try to live with chronic pain. Or to ignore it. Or to build my life in a way that enabled me to manage it. I got so weary of thinking about it all and just being in pain that I stopped talking about it to anyone and stopped writing about it here. Now, even those close to me have thought it was all gone, as I had ceased to refer to it. But in all honesty - it's not gone. It's very much there and it very much occupies my thoughts throughout each and every day.

I cling to theories which might fix my problem, which ironically all stem from the idea that my muscles have contracted and become weak, that they need to unclench and to relearn to be normal. Meditation and yoga are considered worthwhile treatment pursuits. I feel like it is a test of my whole temperament; I am so not the type to sit still and meditate. Yet the irony is that it is my very temperament (highly strung, wound up like a coiled spring) that got me into this painful mess in the first place! Life is a journey and this part of the trip is bittersweet. Things have never been so good - opportunities and thoughts abound. I feel like there is so much I could be doing and tackling. Honestly, I am proud of myself for taking the new business plunge, for taking the new school decision for my son, for being active and not passive in our lives.

But the activity causes stress and stress worsens the pain and so on and so on...

The truth is: it's hard. I'm finding it really hard.

via crush cul de sac

A future glimpse...

posted on: Monday, 1 October 2012

Family life appears to stay the same, but actually when you do a year-on-year or even a month-on month-comparison, you see that change has taken place, almost unbeknownst to you. This is, I suppose most evident in photos; I look at my children today and think they are the epitome of themselves, they are what I know best. Yet I see photographs from only a few months back and see subtle changes to their appearance and demeanour. It may be that in particular my children have reached an era of change; they're plunging headlong into growing up.

It is at once exciting and daunting. I am having to examine my reactions to them growing up. With their new schools has come increased independence and I see them, each day, stepping a little further away from me. I get the very distinct feeling that motherhood has reached a milestone. Of course my mother-work will never, ever be done, I just have to look at my Mum to see that, but what they need from me (or don't need) is changing.

For Boo especially, to some degree, I have become an observer rather than an influencer. I can advise but I can no longer dictate! I think about when they were really small and the utter reliance they had on me, how every thing they did/ate/said/thought was somehow derived from an action of mine.

...mother and daughter...
I observe my contemporaries (after all it is the mothers we compare ourselves to that are the acid test) and regard how they are reacting. Some are relishing the change. Some seem to be mourning the loss of what their children used to be. Some are regarding life differently; the advent of senior school a glimpse into the future, a sharpening up of those shadowy images of grown-up children. Dare I say the empty nest?! I know that empty nest is a long time off for us, but still its possibility has loomed into my mind in recent weeks.

My conclusion: change is all there is. The only choice for me is to try to simultaneously let them go and hold on to them, to squeeze out every last precious drop of childhood!

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