May Days 🌸

Life is moving at a very swift pace as we’ve somehow made our way through April and arrived into May. Our youngest daughter has just turned 5 weeks old, and so for us these weeks have been centred around settling into life as a family of four. The first couple were undoubtedly a blur, sleep very elusive and everything a new and different whirlwind, but the last few weeks everything has hit a very steady rhythm and we’ve had time and space to settle to all our new roles and to getting to know our little girl.

Lockdown continues to be in place here and defines our days at the moment – its biggest impact on us at the moment being separation from our closest family and friends, which I really am feeling now, especially knowing how desperate they are to meet our newest addition. Very conscious however how very blessed we are just to have the health of our loved ones in this uncertain time, and how important it is to follow all advice to weather this pandemic. In the meantime trying to focus on positives, the chance to have so much focused time as our little unit here being a big one. We leave the house once a day for our walk, all together wherever we can, which serves as our exercise and fresh air and also leads us into a much-needed nap time for the oldest little one too! Other than that we’re focused at home, inside and in the garden where it’s been wonderful to have such amazing weather.

Life has returned in some ways to “normal” this week with my husband back to work after paternity leave – but as that is just at the kitchen table it’s a much gentler transition than it would have been otherwise! Finding my feet creating the day’s routines for two little ones and juggling what they both need, and been so enjoying the time with them and entering into this new chapter. Online story and rhyme sessions and at-home versions of yoga and music classes have made their return, tents and makeshift “parks” have been popping up in the garden, and we’ve had FaceTimes with my oldest’s little friends – it’s all different and unusual but we are finding our way with it all and enjoying the challenge – and the wonderful benefits too, like being able to shout my husband through yesterday to witness our baby’s first wide-mouthed smiles!

I’m so grateful to still be able to be getting along to check on the pony too, and very happy to see him looking healthy and thriving on the transition into summer. My photos in my last post of a fluffy bear of a pony in glinting winter sun seem so far away already as I arrive on May mornings at the farm with the sun already high in the sky at 7am, the smell of citronella spray in the air as I greet my short-coated fly-rug-clad boy.

These are undoubtedly very strange days and it can be an unsettling time for us all, but keeping focused here on how lucky we are to be well, have each other and have the technology to keep so well connected with family and friends while we look forward to getting together again. Hope everyone reading is safe and well, coping alright and enjoying the beautiful weather as May settles in. Take care all. Xx

Our new addition to the family ❤️

Just a little update from our corner of the world, where, despite life for most of us generally being suspended in time at the moment, with lockdown continuing on and every day exactly as the one before; our worlds were changed forever earlier this month with the arrival of our new baby daughter.

She is now nearly two weeks old, and it is by turns still taking us by surprise that she is here with us at last and also becoming hard to believe that she hasn’t been for much longer. Over the past couple of weeks, since she arrived safely into the world – (with the truly wonderful and unwavering help of the most incredible midwives and staff at our local hospital, despite the unprecedented times they find themselves in, for which we are just eternally grateful) – we have enjoyed our time at home as a new family of four. It is very strange not to have our family and friends around as they would be so excited to be able to be, but although we so look forward to joining with our wider family and introducing them to our little girl when we can; it has been lovely settling into a little unit here.

So very grateful for a safe arrival and for the opportunity to find our way towards some rhythms; embracing the quiet stillness of nights up with a newborn and the sleepy days that follow them, and watching our family come together – with first meals and walks as a four, first ventures for the littlest one into the spring sunshine in the garden, and our two daughters beginning to get to know each other and showing already what wonderful friends they will be; – all finding our feet together.

Just a little hello from us all and hope this continues to find you all safe and well. Xx

Lockdown adventures with the little one

Gearing up for another week of life in lockdown, and reflecting a little on the very different experience – one shared in every household across the country – that last week was. For me, it was mostly spent finding ways to keep an active and inquisitive toddler entertained while housebound, instead of with our usual routines full of morning play groups and afternoons between home and the farm. It’s been a good focus to have in the midst of all this, definitely a learning curve and a surprisingly fun challenge – and one that’s connected so many of us too, with parents sharing ideas near and far through the wonders of technology that we’re so lucky to have.

As last week went on, we settled into splitting our days up into separate sections to keep them as varied as possible, which I think we’ll stick to as this week begins. We also tried to use as many different places around the house as we could to break it up even more – starting after breakfast in the living room until snack time, up to the bedroom for a change of scene, and after lunch often out to the garden for a lot of the afternoon, with bath towards the end too – which has become a huge activity all of its own, trying to keep up swimming activities and pouring games even in the small space! 

It’s amazing how things have changed over the course of a week, and a lot of it has meant a real perspective shift, as some of the things I would previously just get done myself quickly – running bath, putting a washing on, making tea and looking after our little hamster, Sandy – have become not only activities that we can do together, but in fact also often highlights of the day. I feel guilty in fact with many of these for not working them into our day more so far, but it’s a good lesson learned and definitely something we can continue to do when all this madness is over! Mealtimes too have become such highlights, with my husband working from home it’s been lovely all of us getting together three times a day for meals instead of just once and we’ve all enjoyed more time together.

I’m so amazed at how quickly the wee one has adapted to all this, looking forward to heading up to her bedroom for some time with her dolls’ house, or out to gather sticks even just in the small area of the garden; and we were able to add some extra socialising too with video calls to family and friends, something I think we’ll do more and more as we all get used to this.

We began our week with an online version of our usual Monday music class on Zoom, which was wonderful – she so enjoyed seeing her teacher, singing her same songs and playing along with instruments at home with the other children on. Since then, we’ve utilised online activities as much as we possibly can to keep screen time as positive and as interactive as possible. Our local library has been running activity ideas, lego-building competitions, drawing lessons with children’s illustators, readings by favourite authors, which have been great to dip into. A few Bookbug sessions too, where we normally find ourselves in person at least once a week – gathered round in the library with familiar faces – have been uploaded to YouTube for using anytime, so have been brilliant for doing some songs and rhymes with actions from home. Within a couple of days it was clear how brilliant participating in online classes was, especially the ones that keep us moving, and we’ve also discovered through recommendations a couple of other ways to do the same – Cosmic Kids Yoga has been wonderful for getting some exercise in from home, accessible yoga for all the family to the narration of well-loved stories – the Very Hungry Caterpillar our favourite so far! And PE with Joe, which seems to be keeping just about every household in the UK and beyond active just now, has been wonderful too – though I hope I’m not the only one who’s realised how unfit I am through doing it!! 

As we begin this week, I think we will use these activities mostly as our starts to the days, in place of the usual groups we’d have been out at, as this seemed to work very well last week – moving on to snack and a quieter time with some of our usual stories or games later in the morning, just as we would have done on returning back home.

This is undoubtedly a very strange time for all of us, the littlest of children included; but it’s actually quite refreshing in some ways to have the challenge on our hands of finding ways to fill the day without the usual well-worn routines. There’s been a lot more time spent indoors than normal but I’m pleasantly surprised by how captivating activities like painting and stickering have become – and even more so at the imaginative play emerging just with a small play tent and a few soft toys. It’s been lovely too keeping in touch with other parents online and bouncing ideas backwards and forwards. We’re all in this together, and it feels like an experience we can all learn something from as we adapt to our new normal for the next little while. 

A big hello to everyone in the same boat, and wishing you all, whatever your situation, all the best for another week of keeping busy and keeping cabin fever at bay! 🙂 

 

2020 Visions ~ A few snapshots from the beginning of our year, and looking to the future…

As we stepped into 2020 earlier this month, it was from a full and busy end to 2019.

New Year’s Day, 2020

We had a Christmas period filled with family, friends and festivities; from our daughter’s 2nd birthday to Christmases with both sides of the family, games and merriment interspersed with a few much-appreciated quieter moments – walks underneath the twinkling lights, a time to pause at a Christmas Eve Christingle service, slow-start mornings at home just the three of us.

I also worked a few extra shifts over Christmas, my first year working in care over the holidays, and really enjoyed the chance to be a little part of such a special time of the year in the homes I visit. It was a lovely festive season – despite the logistical challenges of fitting everything in! – and one I was very grateful to have had. Still, as I always do seem to find in the steadying and refreshing first days of a whole new year; it has been wonderful to settle back in to a routine once more, open up a brand new diary, feel things slow down a little again and relax into the fresh start.

Sunrise from home, 2nd January 2020

My weekdays, spent at the moment at home looking after my daughter, have built over the last year to be generally quite structured, as we get out every morning to a toddlers group, class or a Bookbug session (the most wonderful free library singing and story groups we’re very lucky to have here for wee ones), and then in the afternoons have a walk, meet friends, do the shopping or more often than not head to the farm to spend some time with the pony. The little one really loves her routine, getting to her same groups every week with her friends and getting out and about exploring; and it’s all absolutely brilliant for building up to her heading off to nursery in what seems a crazily short time, less than a year from now!

All this was new to me last year, just coming out of maternity leave and finding my feet with it in the longer term, and our weeks were more flexible back then, being much more dictated to by ad hoc napping and feeding! This year though, I’ve so enjoyed returning to it all in much the same way I used to to work in the office, and it’s lovely to look ahead at the term unfolding.

Of course, life is going to change and rhythms adjust (or more likely be completely turned upside down!) for us in the coming months all over again, as we prepare to welcome our second child in April, with our due date now just 10 weeks away. It’s been lovely starting to get ready for that too – packing a hospital bag, getting our little crib out again and buying a new mattress for it, washing and drying baby clothes and finding it unbelievable how impossibly tiny they are!!

For his part, my old man Charmer has come through now the majority of this winter wonderfully well generally speaking – his arthritis, being managed every day this year just depending on how he’s doing, has for the most part been on an even keel.

This year I was more worried about the impact of the winter on him than ever since his legs had already been causing him some trouble in summertime; but we’ve been incredibly luckily from his point of view with the weather – not from every other horse owner’s I’m sure, or every other general winter fan, as the beautiful crisp frosty days here have been very few and far between, with generally damp, muddy and ridiculously mild weather throughout nearly all of November and December. For Charmer, this has actually been perfect, as it seems to be when the temperature drops below zero that his wee bones feel it, and so he’s managed to be sound and relatively pain-free with only some double doses of pain relief needed in the occasional colder snap. The biggest change to his management this year has been that for the first time in many years he’s managed to be wintered out (so far at least!), mostly due to an excess of grass we ended up with in the summer and a gradual re-widening of the field bit by bit over the last few months after having it partly fenced off. This has been wonderful for keeping him moving and reducing his stiffness, and he’s thrived on it so far, keeping weight on and enjoying his freedom.

He’s got to keep me on my on my toes to some extent though, of course (he just wouldn’t be him otherwise!), so at last week’s annual health check a damaged canine tooth was discovered which is unfortunately going to need X-rays and extraction up at the vet clinic next month. I just hope it can all go as smoothly as possible for him, as he is definitely not a fan of travelling in the trailer or really young enough to bounce back easily if the procedure turns out to be a complicated one; but we will just have to see how it all goes.

This year is undoubtedly going to be a big one for us all, and I’m so looking forward to it. We’ve actually been very lucky to have started it with some wonderful times already, even though we’re only a few weeks in; and it feels like we’ve had a chance to travel our beautiful country a fair bit, having started the new year in the south with my husband’s family, and last weekend having headed north for a wonderful farm weekend away with my sister. Very grateful for time with some of our favourite people in some of our favourite places, taking in amazing views and watching the beautiful January sunrises and sunsets. ❤

Looking forward to writing more in the coming months, and hope you are all having a good week. xx