Flat update

A full month has passed since we completed on our new flat. We haven’t had the time to concentrate on it that we would have liked, since we’ve been away from home so much this month, but we have finally got to the point of booking movers and now it is just a couple of weeks before we move in.

It’s obviously still empty of furniture but new floor is down and the painting is almost done, so I thought I’d share the transformation so far.

This is the living room before 

And after

The kids’ room before

And after

And our room before

And after

So long statement wallpaper. Amazing what a lick of paint and some new carpet can achieve. Can’t wait to actually move in! 

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Two weddings and a funeral… 

Tom considering bonfires with grandpa and cousin

August is almost over and, to be honest, I’m pretty relieved. We’ve had a really full on month. Although parts of it have been great fun, trying to manage to constant travelling with a 3 month old has been a bit crazy. Plus we just haven’t had the time to focus on getting the new flat ready or packing up the old one.

Tom stripping wallpaper in the new flat

This weekend will be the first in 6 weeks that we’ve spent at home. We’ve been to Suffolk three times – once for Piper’s first visit, once for our friend’s wedding, and once for John’s grandmother’s funeral. We’ve been to a rowing regatta near Reading, and to my cousin’s wedding in Somerset, with stop offs at my parents’ house in between.

Extended family gather the day after the funeral
Swinging with granny in Somerset

The kids have been amazing, really coping well with all the events and with being so much in the car.

With my family at my cousin’s wedding

Most of all I have loved having John around for the past two weeks. Parenting is certainly much easier when you aren’t doing it mostly on your own. He’s back to work today though so it’s back to reality with a bump! But, great though the last few weeks have been, I’m looking forward to spending some time at home and to getting everything sorted ready for our big move in a couple of weeks time.

Trying not to notice the toddlers throwing things in the pond…

Suffolk Weekend 

We are just home from a wonderful but exhausting weekend at my in-laws in Suffolk. They were actually not there, since they are away on holiday, but a friend was getting married close by, so we went up on Friday with the kids. We were joined by 7 of our friends, plus John’s brother and sister, our brother-in-law, and our niece, who is the same age as Tom.

We served up a barbecue on Friday night once the kids were settled, which got a bit merry. Ridiculous games were played, a stuffed stoat appeared, and my head was not feeling so great the next morning. 

Luckily the rain held off and we had a very relaxed morning. The kids enjoyed each other’s company, had a swim, got out every toy in the house, and generally made the most of the holiday atmosphere. 

We left Tom with his aunt and uncles whilst the rest of us went to the wedding. I had to nurse Piper during the church service, but fortunately the ceremony was very short and sweet. The bride was stunning, and we enjoyed drinks and canapés at the beautiful Butley Priory. I had brought along a bottle for Piper’s 5 o’clock feed so I could enjoy a few glasses of champagne. 

Piper behaved beautifully and was a huge hit with everyone. 


I sloped off just after the speeches to go put the children to bed (thank you to my brother-in-law who came to collect me) and sadly missed the meal, but enjoyed a snacky dinner with my in-laws. The others returned just before 10 and we played a few rounds of cards against humanity before calling it a night. 

Sunday was a predictably slow start, with plenty of bacon and eggs to tackle people’s hangovers. The kids enjoyed the sandpit and we headed back to London after lunch to face a mountain of washing! 

Lent and the Year’s Intentions

 

Today is the first day of Lent and I have been considering whether I should give up or take up anything. My mum and sister always give up chocolate, and I have joined in a couple of times. But I always feel that giving up something like that kind of misses the religious connotations of the period. Instead, I am going to take up being thankful. It is something I try to do anyway – recognise the blessings in my life (which are many) – but focusing on it specifically for a set period will hopefully help me appreciate what I have even more.

I don’t especially intend to share moments of thankfulness on this blog – there’s enough people out there keeping thankfulness diaries already. But you may get an update a few weeks down the line.

Lent also feels like an appropriate moment to re-visit my intentions for this year:

Be Mindful of Food Choices

Avoiding meat for most meals and making more considered food choices is going ok, but is probably the one I have been doing worst on. I have slipped up a couple of times and ordered things with fish in at restaurants, because I forgot I wasn’t supposed to. And Mr Techno always provides a meat-based meal when he cooks on Tuesday evenings. And there was a pack of bacon open in the fridge that needed eating, so I did add that to my pea and goats cheese salad. But I’ve still managed to cut way down on meat consumption, going from eating it almost everyday to just once or sometimes twice a week.

We’ve also made the switch to getting milk and juice from our local milkman. Along with the veg box we have had for years, this is helping us reduce our reliance on big supermarkets and cut down on packaging waste. Hurray!

Buy Only Secondhand Clothes

Tom is beginning to grow out of his 12-18 month wardrobe, so I’ve been having to buy him a whole bunch of clothes. So far we’ve scored everything we need secondhand, though I may need to get him some vests new, as I’ve been struggling to find enough in the right size. He needs more pjs too, but is otherwise set for the next few months and I’m pretty confident I can find him some secondhand (it is lack of money, rather than availability, that is holding me back currently).

I did get a new pair of walking boots at the very beginning of the year, but have allowed myself this as a) it was Mr Techno’s Christmas present to me and b) I really needed a good quality, good fitting pair which is difficult to achieve secondhand. With luck these will last me at least 10 years, where as a secondhand pair would be unlikely to have so much life left in them.

I’ve also developed a minor obsession with wearing men’s vests over leggings, but have kept to my promise and bought a few on ebay rather than getting them new. I tried to take a selfie to show you my favourite, but my selfie skills are sadly pants, so you will have to do without. I know this will be a great disappointment!

 

Get Outdoors Everyday

And, of course, we are still getting outside everyday. I don’t think we have had a single day this year when we haven’t got out, even if it is just the walk to nursery, or a potter round the garden (sometimes in the dark with a torch just before bath and bed). My new job and our lack of family time recently has meant we haven’t explored as many new places as I had hoped, but we have discovered a new park and gone on a trip to Epping Forest, so some progress has been made. We also have a camping trip in Wales planned for this summer (I have to go anyway to run a course on repairing old floors and the site we are using is right on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, so was far too good to pass up!)

 

Anyone else giving something up for Lent? Or taking on a new challenge?

A New Challenge

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, I am taking on a new challenge this year – a new job. Or, more accurately, an additional job.

When I went back to work, when Tom was 6 months old, I went back to essentially the role I had been doing before he was born. But I had a new job title and a slightly adjusted role profile. This is because my original appointment was actually as a year-long maternity cover and I found out I was pregnant about 7 months in (proof, should you need it, that the rhythm method does not work). So the lady I was covering and I decided to split the role between us when I returned, each doing three days a week.

This has worked well up until now. But back in September, shortly before beginning jury service, I saw an advert for a job doing a very similar role, for a complementary organisation, for just one day a week. I had a chat with Mr Techno and we agreed that I should apply. I was interviewed in October and was actually given the job a few weeks later. Various scheduling difficulties have delayed my start date, but I’m now due to start next week.

To be honest, I have slightly mixed feelings – the role itself is similar to what I do currently, and the organisation is very interesting. I work in the heritage sector, which is not exactly well paid, so the decision to take the role was less about finances and more about career development. But it will mean an extra day at nursery for Tom, taking him up to 3 days a week. He’ll still be at home more than half the week, but only 3 of those will be with me. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m lucky to have that much time – so many parents have to work full time. And now that Tom is older we hope he will be getting more from the nursery experience than when he first started.

Of course, this will impact on our outdoor time – we’ll continue to walk to and from nursery on the days I work, but it doesn’t leave much time for more imaginative adventures, especially with the dark evenings. Having said that, Tom has now dropped his morning nap, so we have more time on the days we are home to explore new places.

Anyway it will be interesting to see how it all works out. I am excited and nervous in almost equal measures at the moment – waiting for our new routine to start is almost worse than making it work will be.

I just have one question remaining. When the hell am I going to find time to do all the washing?