balance.

It’s crazy that the girls have less than two weeks left until they’re back at school.  If anyone asked I’d say I’d just got back from Soul Survivor, but in fact we’ve been back for over three weeks.  The summer holidays have FLOWN over.

Ruby had her fifth birthday last week and we took her and her sister to Manchester to pick out a new outfit for their Build-a-bear teddies (the cashier stood Roo on the counter, stopped everyone in the store to sing happy birthday to her.  Personally I would have died of horror but she took it in her stride as though she were the queen) and to climb another 12m climbing wall.  Both girls climbed for the first time in July at a camp with ‘the big kids’ and were desperate to do it again.

 

FYI, it is really tough finding places that will let Ruby climb.  So I was over the moon when I saw that Chill Factore let them climb from age five.

IMG_3746

They both had a mental block 2/3 of the way up but pushed on through to the top.  Stubborn, like their mother.

Now that the weather is being as indecisive as I am, I’m ready for autumn.  I’m ready to wrestle myself into skinny Jeans.  I’m ready to wear boots again.  I’m ready for knowing it will be cooler.  I’m not ready for the countdown to Christmas which I caught on twitter yesterday – no.  Not in August.  Cooler autumnal days yes, Christmas, no.

There are loads of exciting things coming up over the next sixth months with work/church that I’m chomping at the bit to get going on, but I know there’s the risk of imbalance.  Of getting home, particularly when the dark evenings draw in, and crashing until bed time (unless it’s already bed time when I get home).  There’s a risk of being all work and no ‘home’.  I can’t say all work and no play because most of my ‘job’ feels like play because I love doing what I do.  But I do need to ‘do’ home too.  Family, friends, laughter, downtime, adventure.

I’ve written before about being intentional with our time.  Making it count.  That’s what got me started on my challenge -30.  And so in this next season I’m conscious again of the need to be intentional at home, to dream and then pursue those dreams no matter how trivial or outlandish they may be (I think it’s good to have both types of dreams).  And it’s ok if those dreams are meaningless or maybe even nonsensical to others.  I’m pretty sure no one else would get why I’m super excited to start a compost bin.  And I’m ok with that.  It’s my (albeit little) dream, I own it, so I can own the excitement too.  🙂

Sidenote: Regardless of how unimpressed or indifferent you are to my compost-bin-to-be, that won’t stop me from blogging all about it in all it’s worm infested glory.

It’s funny how, when you have babies, you fantasize about all the time you will have to yourself when they get older.  But you forget the minute detail that at least babies sleep for intervals through day.  Older Children don’t.  I used to get a blog post rolled out during a half hour nap AND have time left over to go to the loo.  I had it down.  And then these sleeping beauties….stopped sleeping.  During the day that is.  I have to be fair, they’re awesome at sleeping at night.  But during the day, they’re awake, like all the time.  While I love my girls so very very dearly and genuinely enjoy their company, over the summer I juggle my job and these two non-day-sleeping beauties.  So there have been a great many times that they have had my undivided attention, but a also a load of times that I have really needed to sit and concentrate.  I keep expecting them to just decide to take themselves off a read a good book, or do a cross word, maybe ask their sister for a quiet games of chess or something.  But no, most of the time it will be gymnastics.  On my lap.  So today is a typical day with non-napping kids, and it’s taken four sittings to write these ramblings.

I’m sure when they’re teenagers life will be a doddle…Ha.

so did I mention I’m starting a compost bin?

a fail is sometimes a good thing.

Today I’m entering into the last week of my twenties.  I thought about this week a lot last year, as I got ready to turn 29, half way through my self imposed 2-year challenge of ticking off 30 experiences before I have to admit that I am in fact a fully-fledged grown up.  But I’ve not so much as given a second thought to my much deliberated Challenge-30 bucket list recently; if it was an actual list, on an actual piece of paper it would likely have been scrunched up and thrown in the bin.  For a long time it just wasn’t important to me.

But these last couple of days, the achiever in me has looked at the list and shaken her head in disgrace.  I have not managed to tick everything off.  Tut tut tut.

Then I realised I’d turned my bucket list into something it was never supposed to be.  It had became all about achieving success in the challenge, getting it completed.  I’d missed the whole point of it – because I started this thing with the intention of creating opportunities to embrace experiences I’ve not yet lived, not about ticking off some words on a list.

images

 

 

It’s not like at thirty I’d suddenly become unable to live out these fun things! Quite the contrary I’m sure – the older I get the more I thrive on trying new things.  Although I’m all for living for today and (trying to) not stress about what tomorrow brings, I’m kinda ok that I’ll enjoy some of the stuff on my list at 30.  Or 31 or 41.  And the list will only get bigger because I’ll find so much more that I want to try out and enjoy.  I still hold that the idea of a bucket list is a good one, because it gets you thinking about what you’d really like to do that you’ve not done before.  A metaphoric kick up the backside to simply live.  It’s made me realise I need to give myself a break sometimes and let the completer-finisher in me a chance to have a nice ol’ nap.

So I failed my Challenge-30 Bucket List.  And for me, right now, I think that’s a good thing.

Hi, I’m back.

I’ve tried to do this a bunch of times over the last five months.  Jump back into the saddle.  Get writing again.  But that saddle just seemed too high.  Too much.  I’m aware that those readers who joined me along the way have long since given up stopping by my blog.  So I’m more doing this for me.  Because I love to write.  And because if I used a journal or notepad, sooner or later I’d end up losing it along with the thoughts I’m trying to preserve for the future me to look back on.

For more than four years I have put a piece of me into every blog post I write.  My dashboard tells me I did that 320 times.  But it’s not a matter of keeping it going for the sake of what I’ve already written; it’s a matter of preserving space for what I’m yet to write.  Not to be some big shot writer (I’m a realist to a fault) but just because it’s what I love.  It’s what’s good for me.

To say it’s been a hard year feels so understated.  There will be a time, and I feel strongly about this, that will feel right to talk about it.  To be real and raw and honest, to give hope.  But ultimately to give honour and glory to God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.  I used to just believe that, but now I know it to be true, without a flicker of doubt.  Because I’ve seen it and lived it.  And whatever your experience, when you live it you tell it, you can’t not.  But that time isn’t now, not yet.  My now is full of embracing life as it is, scratching my head over tomato plants that don’t grow tomatoes and getting comfy back in this saddle 🙂

 

mountains.

It feels like I’ve not blogged for a cetury.  My iphone keeps me so connected with people that I can drop snippets of thoughts all the time rather than sit and be proactively thoughtful.  Lazy lazy.

I tweeted earlier this week that I’m now prescription meds free in over 16 months.  Yep, paracetamol is my drug of choice now.  And my hot water water bottle.  I love waking up in the morning feeling tired in the regular way instead of through the fuzz of amitriptyline.  It’s like I’ve come out of hibernation.

I’m confident to start building my walking up now.  One of the challenges I gave myself was to climb a mountain before I turned 30 this summer.  I guess I’ve climbed a whole other kind of mountain but it would be awesome if I could do a real one.  I expect it’ll be later than I thought – I may have to transfer it to what I want to do before I’m 40, ha! But I need to get stronger anyhow, so it makes sense to have an incentive.  I just need to find the lowest mountain in the uk…!

 

 

It actually sends real emails!

So The Husband and are creeping back into work mode and the anticipation of Christmas seems so long ago.  The Husband got double brownie points on New Years Day because he let me sleep late AND he took down all the decorations all by himself so I woke up to a reasonably normal looking house again.  I’d have been sad to do it any earlier but once its January it’s time to look to whats in store for the year ahead.

For me, January will hopefully be a month of:

  • Finally finishing the kitchen.  All thats left to do is painting the cupboard units and putting up a long shelf for my beloved Kilner Jars.  These are the kind of jobs that can easily be left undone for months.  So there was only one thing for it – Shift everything from some of the units so they HAD to be done – and soon.  The Husband LOVES it when he comes home to already-started-and-can’t-be-ignored house projects.  I think its why he loves me so much…

empty cupboards

  • Stengthening my ridiculously pathetic body.  My back is been so great over Christmas and I’ll hopefully be getting more active.  Hurray!  Ironically I never enjoyed the gym until just before I hurt my back, and I really was loving it – it’ll be a while before I get back there but any kind of active gets the feel-good hormones flowing!

 

  • Eating healthy.  December was a serious chocolate splurge for the whole family.  The girls had chocolate for breakfast more than once.  I know, I know, shoot me now.  It’s seriously a habitual thing – I woke up this morning, had a great breakfast to start off the day and before lunch I was reaching up for the hobnobs without even thinking.  I realised it was not a good idea but by that point the packet of lovely chocolatey oaty goodness was in my hands and there was no going back.  I’m never going to be someone who can completely walk away from chocolate – I don’t like the look of a world without sugar.  But it’s about conscious choices and there needs to be more healthy choices in this house.  And even if my girls choose chocolate, mummy’s choices trump theirs, so ha!

 

  • Trying not to become obsessed with my new phone.  While the rest of the world were keeping up with modern technology over the past two years, The Husband and I were oblivious to the countless possibilities that a phone can bring.  We thought text messages were cutting edge.  So now we’re a little attached to these little devices that actually let us send emails – I mean whats that all about?! Its like a mini computer in the palm of your hands! Blimey.  I’m using Intsgram for my photo 365 and I LOVE the fact that I can do it all from my phone.  So I’m a little aware that I’m probably showing my mobile more care and attention than I am The husband, and as much as my phone can do…we’re yet to find a one that will do the vacuuming for you.  Joke! Kinda.

 

 

 

rest.

It’s not often you get the chance to stop.  To really stop.  Even when I’ve been forced to lie in bed with lots of ice on my back, I worked from my laptop.  And then I’d hear the girls sqeal, either out of joy or distress and I’d force my non-cooperative back up out of bed and towards the source of the noise.  There has been a couple of times over the past year that The Husband had encouraged me to go and spend a few days at my parens in the Yorkshire Dales.  Evertime there was always a hundred reasons not to pursue it.

But when we talked about it a couple of weeks ago he didnt need to ask me twice.  After driving to and from Wales last weekend we both new my back would need to catch up with itself.  I knew I could do with a little rest.  No driving.  No picking Ruby up.  No supermarkets. No laundry.  No flying around from one place to the next.  So on Tuesday I met my mam at Lancaster and she drove me over the moors to their house.

I’ve been spoilt, sleeping in until my body told me it had enjoyed enough rest.  I’ve read no emails and done no work; trying to forget for a few short days how much work I have on before Christmas.  I’ve knitted and I’ve sewed.  I’ve read a book and fallen in love with Downton Abbey.  I’ve taken the time to think back over the previous weekend in Wales with 30 or so very awesome people, trying to tie-down memoried before they have the chance to float away.

I don’t take one second of this time for granted.  I’ve not rested like this in seven years and I know people have gone far longer who perhaps need it more.  Why do we not value rest enough?  We argue it slows us down but surely doesn’t it keep us going longer?  My physiotherapist asked me how often I alloted time in the day to rest my back – not including those times I am forced to rest through pain.  I stared at him a while, knowing if I didn’t look away I’d soon not be able to see him through the tears.  I didn’t need to say a word.  When he asked me why, I launched into a babble of justification as a mother, as a home maker, as a wife and as an employee.  Stopping when you didn’t need to is unthinkable right?

The next few minutes flipped all of this upside down and inside out.  He told me that I need to see resting as part of my physio plan each day, and it was what would strengthen up my body more than any stretch or exercise.  I always saw rest as the absense of action.  In music a rest is the absence of a musical note.  In working out, a rest is the absense of movement.  Surely?

Now I see rest as so much more than that – maybe everyone has always seen it and I’ve just been ridiculously ignorant of it.  There is always so much going on behind the scenes during any kind of rest.  A drawing of breath in music.  A regulating of the heart in working out.  It’s absolutely neccessary.  There is purpose in rest – it makes everything more efficient.

I will never be one to be comfortable with prolonged absence of activity.  I’m way too impatient and impulsive.  But, even forgetting the recovery from my back injury and thinking about life in general, I recognise that short bursts of regular rest  (I’m talking even five minutes to flick through a magazine or just sit for a while in quietness), should almost certainly make me a more patient mother and wife and more effective in everything I try to do.

Do you need a little rest?

 

 

when is it not too soon?

So I expected to be in premature festivities after Bonfire night (possibly the most bizarre annual show of patriotism?).  I started making lists – and thats always a clear sign that I’m gearing up to something.  But since making space on top of the wardrobe at the weekend, its fizzled.  I’m resting up as much as I can because I’ve had a little set back with my back this week and I want to be ready for a weekend in Wales next weekend.  The halt on the christmas feeling is good though.  I was a little startled with it myself, wondering if I’d peak to early and be ready to take down the decorations by Christmas eve.

No, I need to pace myself.  This is no ordinary Christmas.  This is my first Christmas with…Pinterest! I created a Christmas board back in September and restricted myself to occasional pins with great self control.  But now – most pins out there are full of seasonal deliciousness.  I draw complete blanks when I explain Pinterest to a pinterest-virgin.  Maybe I dont explain it well, but even I think about it and it seems a little random.  But a couple of hours and two glazy eyes later you can’t help feeling a little whimsical and you don’t know where the time went.

We have a family deal (or a fear of The Husband’s brothers’ wrath) that we don’t play christmas music before December 1st.  We try to get our tree and decorations up as soon after this date as possible too.  I used to have shopper rage when I heard Christmas music early.  Once when I was a student and went into town I confess I even growled a little to the cashier at the Early Learning Centre.  Her cheerful response was that The Early Learning Centre starts Christmas early.  I growled back.  But now that I’m a busy mum I’m a little less precious about it.  In fact, nowadays I’d probably high five the cashier, not because they’re cashing in on the extended holidays season but because they’re making it easier for us who have got to get organised way before the mulled wine is brought out.

So when do you put your christmas decorations up and start to play along with Mariah Carey?