December 2014

So there goes 2014. All done and dusted, and quite possibly the quickest year there ever was.

December didn't start off so well. My husband has been really poorly, this continued on from November and it completely wiped him out. It kind of made us struggle to get into the Christmas spirit and we've really clawed at as much as we can to get into that Christmassy frame of mind.

Charles' school really made an effort with Christmas this year. They put on a Christmas Fayre which Charles and I went to. It was nice to have that quality time together and to see that the majority of the staff there knew him and remembered his name, I find that really comforting as it's hard to know your child is one of over 300 in a school. We bought some books, a Christmas decoration, some cakes, and Charles had his face painted.
They also had a Nativity and put on two performances so I went to one with my mum, and then my husband went to the other with Harry.
There was a school disco, which Charles wasn't too happy at because it was too loud but still he went and I'm proud of him for that. He had a school trip to the Pantomime and enjoyed a school Christmas dinner.

Harry became obsessed with Frozen, without actually watching the film. He was really drawn to the song Let It Go (is there any child who isn't drawn to that song?!) and we played it on the tv via Youtube every single day, around 5 times!, at his request, so he could sing to us and put on a show. It's such a beautiful thing to watch. He got his much desired Elsa doll for Christmas as well as the dvd from my Aunty so I expect we will be watching that on repeat a lot from now on.

We picked up our new boat, and she is currently living in our back garden. She is beautiful and it's lovely to look outside of the kitchen window and seeing her sat there.

The biggest thing that happened this month was Charles' first visit from the tooth fairy! For months we have been waiting for his wobbly tooth to decide when it was going to fall out, and with help from one of the teaching assistants at school I picked him up and he had a massive smile on his face, showing off this brand new gap.

2014 has been a fantastic year, and although this month hasn't been the best, it could have been worse.

2015....we are ready for you.



Christmas in 5

How was your Christmas? Good I hope.
Mine this year, was ok. It may seem ungrateful to say it was just ok.
I was grateful for the cards, the gifts, the family time, the messages from friends and family who don't live nearby and being in peoples thoughts.
But, something was missing. And I'm not sure what?

I think the build up to Christmas was a hint of what was to come. With my husband being ill, and practically being in bed every day for 2 weeks from the end of November into December meaning I had to start the Christmas spirit without him. Buying the tree without him, even daring to go into the loft to get the decorations down, then putting the decorations up. Sorting out presents, wrapping presents, sorting out food and keeping up with all the school Christmas trips and events.
I was exhausted, stressed and tired and it almost drained any piece of Christmas spirit left in me.

It got closer and closer to Christmas, and despite listening to the Christmas classics, and watching Christmas films everyday nothing ignited that usual magical flame and feeling I would usually have.
I tried so hard to get that feeling back.

I don't take too many photos on Christmas Day. It was a rule I made last year after enjoying Christmas a lot more by being a part of it, and not just taking photos of it.
It didn't feel Christmassy, it felt like any other day.
There were moments that stood out though.

This year was the first year Harry really got involved with the whole story of Santa. They both loved watching him fly over at 5.21, putting out the food and drink for the Reindeers, and for Santa. And for the first time popping out the 'Santa please stop here' sign passed onto them from their Grandad and Grandma.

The day was hard, and this is something we don't know how on earth you combat. And it was hard because of over-tired and over-excited children. There is the option of not actually telling them that it is Christmas Eve and that Christmas is the following day....but advent calenders ruin that, and they miss out on the whole mince pie, whisky, water and carrot things.
I couldn't blame them for being over-tired. Or for not being able to sleep. Even adults go through that. It just become hard when you have an image of how Christmas should be. All sat round playing games, laughing and so on when in fact you are busy in the kitchen, the children want a drink/cookies/chocolate coins and to play with all the toys.

The hints of every day life reminded me that Christmas is just a day. And it didn't matter if things didn't go as planned. Those hints reminded me of what was important. Family being together, love, kindness and smiles.
Those hints reminded me that those images, and plans I had in my head were not realistic. Christmas Day is so hectic, it is so stressful, and sitting down to relax is near on impossible.
Those chocolatey mouths and milk mustaches following the 6 or 7 hot chocolates consumed throughout the day.

The fun little photoshoots you do together that he asked for because he wanted to show off his new Mickey Mouse dressing gown.  And those little smiles. The smiles that make it all ok and are almost apologetic, and understanding. A knowing smile, telling you that they also know that today wasn't the best, and wasn't what we hoped for, but that it's ok. Because Santa came, and they got presents. And to children that is what matters.

And Boxing Day, which doesn't start off so well but involves cuddles and stories with grandad.  And you are again reminded that this is what Christmas is about.
That excuse to get together.
Family, love and time.



Living Arrows 2014 | Behind the Scenes 40-52

 40. Charles had a trip to Tesco with his school. They looked at how bread is made as well as other produce. He found it really interesting and especially loved the hats they were given to decorate.

 41. This reminds me so much of when we used to breastfeed. Me laying on my side and Harry relaxed next to me. We were just having a cuddle after bath-time and the cat even joined us which is a rarity.
 42. This was taken on the boat. Harry doesn't usually go outside and tends to like to stay in the cabin. I couldn't resist taking a photo as he looked up. I'm really proud of the light I captured and felt it worked better in black and white than in colour.

 43. A school Halloween costume. A white sheet creates the best costume ever.

 44. Our last sail. He has taken to sailing so much and has an incredible amount of passion for it. Something we didn't expect but fills us with so much happiness and pride.

 45. A skyping session with grandad and grandma.

 46. A loving sibling moment, to remind me that they don't fight all the time.

 47. During a week of feeling run down and tired Harry spent a lot of his mornings before preschool just lounging around in his dressing gown. Clearly engrossed in the tv. 

 48.  Harry next to our new boat on the day we went to collect her.

49. Don't play with lights, it's dangerous. Although it does make a cute photo.

50. We went to a local garden centre and they had these two beautiful Reindeer. The boys could have watched them for hours. This white one was so pretty and really soft. Harry was mesmerised by him.

51. A milestone for Charles. His first lost tooth.

52. This was taken on Christmas Day. Harry has on this super cute new dressing gown and we were messing around in the kitchen. He was pulling lots of poses, I didn't think any were in focus, then looking over the photos I found this one and I loved it. We had a tough day with this over-tired over-excited boy but it was nice to have a bit of fun amongst it.


2014...The Year of Friendships

Looking back on 2014 there was certainly a lot of tough times. But, I think I can say that there was an equal amount of good times too.
One of the big things in my life this year had to be friendship.
It's quite overwhelming for me really. Which seems ridiculous I know. 

Last year was the moment that these friendships were born. I didn't realise that this year they would then go from strength to strength. 
I didn't realise that I would have people in my life, other than family, who I felt so comfortable around. People who bring something to my life that makes me happy. People who make me smile, who make me laugh and people who I look forward to talking to and seeing.

I have people who I, and I struggle to write this, people who I think might like me and think I am a good person. They might think I am good to have in their life, I don't know. I'm not very confident when it comes to that, but I'd like to think that those people think as much of me as I do of them.

Of course, blogging had a part in this. Meeting Hayley back in June last year was a massive change for me. I didn't expect to have a friend who I would end up seeing a few times this year and who I would talk to on a regular basis. 
I certainly didn't expect it to be a friendship which my children would also get involved in and our children have also made friends despite only seeing each other twice. I didn't expect to be staying there for 3 nights in the Summer with the boys so we could spend time together and have our children play together too.

And then there are the school run mums. One I became friends with last year and would talk to if we passed each other, or if we were stood next to each other in the class queue and the other who ended up talking to me in the class queue because we had other children the same age (Harry). But this year it has progressed.
We look out for each other every day,park in roughly the same place just so we can walk together and usually end up having a 10-15 minute long chat on the corner after we've dropped the children off.
The best end to the year, and to our year of friendship in particular, was a night out. No children, no school run stress. Just us, dressed up, a 3 course meal and 3 bottles of wine. And it was wonderful.
We all said how much we value this friendship and I think that was something we all needed to hear. We made plans for 2015 to meet up more and to even get the husbands together so we can all be extra sociable.

So 2014, thank you! Thank you for making me realise what friendships are. And although I will always have that negative niggle in the back of my mind which tells me not to believe that they feel the same, but maybe that will be what I focus on in 2015.
Accepting that people might want to be friends with me too.



Some Days

Some days I wonder what my purpose is.
If I'm just here to be a spare part. Or if I am actually a valued member of the family, or the team.
Or if I'm just this person who is just there. Meaningless but just there.

Some days I wonder why I bother.
Why do I bother trying so hard to make everyone elses lives happy, relaxed, fun and full of love when I don't get that in return.

Some days I wonder if I really am human.
Or am I just this robot. Set to do the same things over and over and over again.
Relax? That's not something in the instruction manual.
If my batteries are running low I have to fight on through. Struggling. Which makes it even harder to process the things I should be doing.
My list of expectations is so long and I can't fulfil it all. I try to prioritise but seem to always get it wrong.

Some days I juggle so many plates that I wonder how I'm supposed to balance it all.
Keeping the house tidy, the fridge full, the family fed, pants in the drawers. All the usual things.
But it builds up. The plates stack up higher, and higher. And as they stack up my head gets fuller and fuller.
And that's not a priority. It doesn't matter that things affect me.

Some days I wonder if my mental health really matters.
Is it seen as an excuse? As a joke? "Oh she's talking about that again?!" *yawn* *eyeroll*.
Is it not a consideration?
I try so hard to not let it get in the way of things. I ignore it. I fight it. I push it to the side.
But all of that. It builds up. It gets worse and worse and then there is more to fight, more to ignore, more to push away.
A reminder that maybe I'll never be better.                                      
I'll always be doing the wrong thing.
If I can't even have Christmas Day off. Then what's the point in trying.


Living Arrows 2014 | Behind The Scenes 17-39

17. This photo was taken after our first night on the boat. It was cold, and we hadn't had the best night sleep so the boys were warming themselves up with a hot chocolate. I wanted to play with the light and to work with having a darker feel to a photo and this one came out better than I envisaged. It's one I'm really proud of.

18. I'm not sure I really need to explain this one. I'm usually very against taking photos of poorly children, but chicken pox is different I think. He really suffered, and was covered. It was heartbreaking and getting him to sleep felt like such a success as it was the only time he wasn't distressed or uncomfortable.

19. A simple photo of a father-son moment. Harry was still suffering with chicken-pox and a cuddle with his daddy made him feel a bit better. He is usually a mummy's boy so a break from the clingyness was nice for me.

20. My mums birthday card, and the novelty of Charles being able to sign it.

21. A simple summer photo. Topless boy, and a refreshing lolly. I wanted to edit this in a different way to usual to make it look almost clean and fresh and to really give the feel of how cooling the lolly was.

22. A weekend on the boat and a fun evening moored up outside our favourite pub. Charles was impressed a group of 20-something girls by showing them is somersaults.

23. Another weekend on the boat. This one was a racing weekend, we didn't take part of course but watched from our boat instead. I couldn't resist this photo of Harry wearing my glasses, even though he does have a mucky face.

24. Charles' favourite animals at the zoo are Meerkats. We went to Banham zoo and they have a lovely enclosure for their Meerkats. Charles watched them for ages and didn't realise I was taking photos of him as he was so engrossed.

25. A 5th birthday spent at Duxford.

26. I think this photo really captures childhood. One sock off, one on, sat on the worktop watching me as I did some housework. 

27. I know this isn't the cutest photo and seems like an odd expression. But this again was on the boat and Harry spent a lot of time just talking to me. Non-stop. So I picked up my camera as he was mid-speech and clicked.

28. My brother was home for the week and went to ride his bike around the track at Snetterton. We went to a watch him and in between his "races" he would come over and play with the boys and watch the other bikes with them.

29. This isn't my proudest photo at all. In fact it was a last minute photo. And I felt a bit disappointed at submitting it. However, as it came to looking back over these photos I realised that it isn't as rubbish as I thought, because at the time we were trying to get the rabbit back into his run. The leaves you can see in the top right are hiding a black and white bunny.
The broccoli didn't work.

30. This is quite a special photo. We went for a walk to get out of the house after my husband had laser eye surgery. This was Charles' first bike ride without his stabilisers. He did so so well and didn't fall off once.

31. Charles is really scared of snails. It seems like such a silly fear, and we will sometimes make progress and then he ends up going backwards and being scared again. Baby snails though are totally fine and he loved this one. He spent so much time with it I wondered if he would ever let it go.

32. We enjoyed a lovely day out with our friends at Houghton House in Bedfordshire. These ruins are stunning. Harry was really attached to his Mickey Mouse teddy so he had to come with us. Harry left Mickey laying there whilst he busied himself elsewhere and I thought it made a cute photo.

33. My husband was driving us to the boat (surprise, surprise) and I got my camera out just to play with some settings. I was really pleased with this though and I tend to spend the majority of car journeys talking to the boys and looking at them through the mirror.

34. We had gone to my husbands aunties house for lunch and to go to a birthday party. Harry was in an odd mood this day and my husband grabbed him for a cuddle and a calm down.

35. We went over to my mother in laws during the last week of the summer holidays. I love her garden and we sat outside whilst the boys played. She grabbed her airer and made a tent for the boys.

36. A simple boat day and our Captain wearing his special cap.

37. Self-explanatory. This week was a weird one and I felt over-protective of my boys and felt I didn't want to share a photo of them both. This certificate was a big moment though so made up for a lack of faces.

38. I want to have this photo blown up so big to fill the wall in my lounge. I adore it. I love the matching colours, the faces, the tones. Everything. It was taken at Sandringham Estate for my birthday day out. I was actually setting a shot up for our Me&Mine photo so it was an accidental success.

39. A poorly Charles who spent a lot of time just laying on the sofa.

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