Over the last few days, we’ve had a cold snap bringing frost, subzero temperatures and a tiny dusting of snow, but it was only the week before that I spent a lovely afternoon out in the garden with my girls in the sunshine.
Our youngest was wrapped up in her bouncer watching pinwheels spinning in the breeze before she drifted off for a little nap, as I tidied up the long border removing all the dried stems from last year, while our the three year old played witch on a broomstick. It’s not easy to keen on top of gardening with two little kids underfoot so I’ve been trying a little and often approach.
It’s always lovely watching the garden waking up after winter, from the first hellebores underneath the bamboo to the tete-a-tete daffodils in the long border. I’ve also enjoyed watching birds flitting around the garden, there have been blue tits, sparrows, long tailed tits, blackbirds, Robins and tiny wrens, which we’ve never seen in the garden before.
We woke this morning to a light flurry of snow falling. Spring can be such a changeable and unpredictable season, and yet one that I appreciate more and more as a time of renewal and the return of light and life after the barren darkness of winter. Have a lovely week. X
We’re no strangers to inclement weather in Scotland but this winter we’ve had more damp cold and unrelenting rain than magical blankets of snow and sparkling frosts. As daylight increases we’re getting out for more walks and little adventures, and we took a trip to Mugdock Park recently for a wander and to feed the ducks, and had a really lovely afternoon spotting signs of Spring there before dusk descended. Some of the best days we’ve had at Mugdock have been when it’s been overcast or drizzling, and we’ve just pulled on wellies and waterproofs to splash in the puddles and feed the ducks anyway.
Both of our girls preferred the carrier to the pram as babies, which has meant we’ve never had to worry too much about the terrain on our walks, and on this outing carrying our youngest gave us the freedom to venture off the path to let our adventurous 3 year old jump in puddles, paddle in the stream, scramble through scrub, explore hollows and climb trees.
Living in a city, I often worry about whether our children get enough time outside, and given that both my husband and I are outdoorsy types who enjoy everything from gardening to hiking, we really want to inspire a love and appreciation of nature in them, but our oldest daughter always enjoys woodland walks and strolls along the beach as much as trips to soft play or the local parks.
Back at the start of the trail, we let the oldest have a go on the swings, slide and flying fox at the play park, before returning home with rumbling tummies and stretched legs. Have a lovely week. X
Our daughter turned three this week and we had a little party at a soft play cafe with her cousins (our daughters are two of seven girls on my husband’s side all quite close in age) to celebrate. Our oldest daughter can be shy, but once she feels comfortable I’m always impressed by how enthusiastically she falls in with other children and their games.
At times our oldest still seems so little but I’m often surprised by how grown up she is; she’s bright, funny, determined and kind with seemingly boundless energy (that puts my laziness to shame), and she fills our days with so much fun, mischief and laughter.
My second maternity leave has been very different from my first, most of which took place during consecutive lockdowns through 2020 and 2021. This time around I’ve been able to meet friends for lunch, and join local baby groups like the Bookbug singalong sessions at our library and a music group at our community centre too, as well as a post natal pilates class, but I’m still enjoying slow days at home playing and snuggling with the baby too. Our youngest is now 3 months old, seemingly more placid than her big sister ever was, but absorbing everything with her big, blue eyes and always quick to flash her wide gummy smile.
Life has been a bit hectic lately, and there are times when I wish I could pause the clock as our girls are growing, changing and learning so much every day. We’ve had a run of almost laughable misfortune since Christmas that has added to the usual stresses and busy-ness, and although I’m hoping our luck will improve soon, it’s been a reminder to focus on our blessings, not our burdens. Have a lovely week. X
Something about the new year always fills me with inspiration, and I’m itching to get into the garden – alas we’re still in deepest, darkest Winter here in Scotland. The bamboo is providing some greenery, the Winter Spinach in the raised bed is doing well too and there are tips of spring bulb stems peeking above the soil but with the temperature hovering around 0°C this week, spring still feels like a long time away.
Nevertheless, I’ve been sorting through my seed box and thinking about what I’d like to grow. We have heavy clay soil and have never had any luck growing root vegetables, and its easy enough to get carrots, potatoes and onions so I leave those to the professionals. This year the plan is to grow kale, spinach, chard, peas, pumpkins and squash, as well as tomatoes and chilli peppers in the greenhouse. I’d also like to try growing ginger and my husband wants to try growing asparagus though that’s a long term project.
The flowerbed is fairly full of hardy perennials but I’m planning to grow more wildflowers around the garden too, partly because they’re lovely but also for the pollinators and insects. I’ve had mixed success with wildflowers in the past, the first few years, the beds were overflowing with lavetera, cornflowers, poppies and calendula but they haven’t done as well over last couple of years but I’ll keep trying.
Though we’ve lived here for 6 years now, I’m still so grateful to have a garden of our own. Have a lovely week. X
January is usually a peaceful month for us spent recovering from the Christmas busy-ness. We’ve been gradually settling back into our routines, our older daughter was delighted to be reunited with her friends at nursery and returning to our weekly sensory group, exploring new soft play cafes and I’m glad to have a few days at home with the youngest (now 10 weeks old) while the older one is at nursery.
I always like to take some time to reflect on the previous year, and 2022 was another good year for us with visits to Culzean Castle and Five Sisters Zoo, trips to the beach, a night away in Edinburgh and ice-skating at Elfingrove among the most memorable moments. Our oldest daughter turned two in February, then in September my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and 7 years since we adopted our cat Mara in October, but the real highlight of the year came in November with the arrival of our second daughter, who has slotted into our family so smoothly.
The low points of the year were mostly related to illness, in March we were all knocked out by the flu, and our toddler had a night in hospital with chicken pox due to a stubbornly high fever and a secondary skin infection, then we had a nocturnal trip to A&E in October when she had croup. We ended the year and started this one with illness too, thankfully nothing serious but it’s taken me a little time to bounce back.
I don’t go in for new year diets and gym memberships, which seem so out of sync with the natural world that’s conserving energy until spring, but there are some changes I’d like to make. I started going to yoga classes in 2014 and continued right up to the month before my first daughter was born in 2020, since then I’ve struggled to get back into a routine so I’ve joined a local post natal pilates class – something I’ve wanted to try for ages – and I’m determined to get back to my old yoga studio once the baby can be left for longer.
In many ways I’m feeling very content and I don’t have any burning ambitions but there’s a whole year stretching out ahead of me and I’m looking forward to time with family and friends, reading, gardening and improving my fitness. What are your plans for the year ahead? X
I’ve been reminiscing about Christmas’s past lately, from one very cosy Christmas when I was little that was just me and mum to the year there were so many extended family members that the grandkids and cousins needed their own kids’ table; the early years of marriage when we’d spend the morning with my husband’s family and the rest of the day with mine; and visiting my nanna at the care home for our last Christmas with her before she passed away… For the last couple of years my husband and I have hosted Christmas, and the benefit of having had so many different festive experiences over the years means we’re free to make our own traditions instead of trying to fit in with everyone else’s.
On Christmas Eve, we spent most of the day outside hoping our nearly 3 year old would tire herself out enough to sleep (it worked and we got a rare lie-in on Christmas morning!). We had takeaway for dinner, a little tradition that started when my husband and I used to finish work, rush home to load the car with presents before driving down to spend Christmas with our families. Afterwards we put out a mince pie for Santa and an oddly-shaped apple for Rudolph that our toddler chose instead of a carrot, and read The Night Before Christmas before settling the little ones into bed.
There was absolute chaos on Christmas morning opening presents, before gathering around the table for our Christmas Dinner, then a leisurely afternoon of adults chatting, the little one playing with all her new toys and our six week old daughter wide awake and taking everything in, before a buffet supper and an early night for all. It was a simple, lovely day of togetherness celebrating the return of the light after the shortest day, followed by more of the same on Boxing Day and a visit from my in-laws the day after.
Christmas isn’t always a joyous or peaceful time though and within my family there have been deaths and divorce around the festive period, a sobering reminder never to take the people we love and care about for granted.
The remainder of the week has been busy and we’ve had an unexpected run of bad luck from our car breaking down, my husband and kids getting conjunctivitis, and a cracked phone screen, so I’m hoping for a quieter, calmer January.
Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year when it comes. X
We’ve been gradually getting into the festive spirit over the last few weeks, decorating our home, shopping for gifts and counting down the days with a selection of Advent calendars. As an adult I think I enjoy the build up as much as Christmas Day itself.
Over the last few years, I’ve been gathering a collection of decorations, baubles and trinkets that remind me of people, places and moments. This year I bought a candy cane heart but I also attempted to make a few new decorations by painting slices of wood, which I did the day before our second daughter’s birth in November, and I’m planning to make more from wood slices saved from our daughters’ first Christmas trees.
We have Advent well and truly covered with four different calendars – including one for the cat. As mornings are often a rush in our house, we’ve been saving our Advent Calendars til the evening, which has become a lovely family ritual. We’ve eaten dinner while the candle burns down with the treat of a chocolate afterwards and reading a new bedtime story from the book calendar.
Our oldest daughter is nearly three and she’s starting to understand Christmas a bit more than previous years. We’ve snuggled under blankets to watch Rise of the Guardians and Arthur Christmas together; danced to Christmas songs (she’s been learning Spanish at nursery so Feliz Navidad has become the unexpected theme song to Christmas this year along with my favourite Winter tunes by Ingrid Michaelson), and read festive stories before bed. The Usborne book advent calendar has been a real hit with a mix of fairytales and Christmas stories, and a surprise highlight was the evening my husband and I sang the Twelve Days of Christmas as loud and fast as we could much to our daughter’s amusement and delight.
Our oldest asked for a tree in her room, and we let her choose some of her own decorations (including a felt unicorn and polar bears), decorated it together and then danced around her room by the light of the tree afterwards – though having her own tree hasn’t stopped her interfering with the tree in our living room. Our youngest is just six weeks old and oblivious to the festivities but her smiley, easy-going disposition has given me some downtime between the Christmas preparations.
We went to Elfingrove last week, where we enjoyed a bird’s eye view from the Ferris Wheel, then fueled by candy floss and marshmallows we took to the ice with our older daughter on the toddler’s rink, which she loved and didn’t want to leave, while the youngest slept peacefully in her carrier.
We’ve reached the shortest day of the year, Christmas is nearly here and I still have presents to wrap and a cake to ice. Wishing everyone a peaceful Winter Solstice and a very Merry Christmas when it comes too. X
November isn’t normally one of my favourite months, but it’s been a watershed one for us this year as we started a new chapter as a family of four.
Since our second daughter’s arrival three weeks ago, there’s been a whirlwind of visits from family, neighbours, midwives and health visitors, quiet nights spent feeding and cuddling our new baby, with trips to shops, cafes, the library, playdates and all our toddler’s usual activites filling the daylight hours, and we’re gradually trying to find a rhythm that suits everyone. Though another child brings new challenges, going from none to one was much harder than the transition from one to two, and we’re finding our way much quicker the second time around.
It’s been a much bigger adjustment for our firstborn who at 2 years 9 months has gone from only to oldest; she’s needed a bit more reassurance and attention at times but has generally been curious about her little sister, showing her caring side by helping to change and bath the baby when she wants to get involved, and I hope they’ll become playmates and friends once the littlest one is mobile and verbal.
In contrast, our cat Mara surprised us by taking another baby in her stride. Mara seemed to be in shock when we brought the first baby home but has already given the newest addition a few tentative sniffs and then carried on with her own well-established routines.
Around the middle of the month, temperatures finally dipped into single figures and I’ve noticed Christmas decorations appearing in shops, garden centres and even a few homes over the last couple of weeks. Life with two small children is fast-paced, so many moments seem to be flashing past before I can catch them but glad to have found time to gather my thoughts here before autumn fades into winter. Have a lovely week. X
My last post was actually written from a hospital bed while waiting to be induced after my due date had come and gone. Back at home now, I’m tapping out a quick post to share the news that our second daughter arrived safe and well on a sunny November morning last week.
I’m lucky that I’ve had two easy, healthy pregnancies, and two fairly positive birth experiences as well – though it’s only in hindsight that I realise how difficult my first labour was as I arrived at hospital fully dilated but my daughter’s heartbeat started dropping and ended up having a forceps delivery to get her out. I’d been desperate to avoid being induced for my second child’s birth because I’d heard so many horror stories but my own experience turned out to be uncomplicated and relatively quick, albeit intense and painful at the time, and I’m so grateful to the midwives who encouraged and guided me throughout, and helped safely deliver our youngest daughter.
I’d hoped to be discharged the same day but was kept in overnight to check my haemoglobin levels and I was so glad to get home to hand the newborn over to my husband for an hour or so (he’s very hands-on and has always been willing to do his share of bedtimes, night wakings and early mornings) to catch up on some sleep.
We’re now settled in at home and getting to know the smallest and youngest member of our little clan. At the moment, she’s all wrinkles and folds, silky soft hair, button nose, dark blue eyes, squeaks, snuffles, hiccups and sneezes. The last week has been a mix of long nights up with the newborn, busy days entertaining our toddler and visits from family and friends, but it’s been a lovely way to start this new chapter of family life.
Just typing out a quick post at the end of a busy but lovely weekend spent celebrating Halloween. With my due date just around the corner, we’ve been staying close to home but have still found lots of ways to have fun while we wait.
I bought a pumpkin to make a Jack O’Lantern and my daughter requested a cat. It’s a bit of an odd skill but I enjoy the challenge of carving pumpkins, though compared to some of my previous ideas, this one felt like I was resting on my laurels.
We had planned to light the firepit in the garden to toast marshmallows but rain scuppered our plans so we baked a spiced pumpkin cake instead. Lucky for us, our daughter is almost always happy to bake, paint or shape playdough so we don’t have to worry too much about being stuck inside when the weather is particularly inclement.
We haven’t been too cooped up though as there was a Halloween party at our toddler sensory group, full of themed activities and fun. We also went for wanders around parks between rain showers to let the little one burn off some energy splashing through puddles and thrashing through a thick carpet of leaves, while I admired the autumn foliage.
We’ve spent some time in our own garden too, making a note of ideas for next year and little jobs to do over the winter. I don’t bother tidying up too much and just let things die back naturally as the weeds tend to take over when the soil is left bare, but we really need to trim the hedges, thin the bamboo and mow the lawn once more before winter. Another job for winter is to paint and seal the inside of the summerhouse.
My last minute winter veg experiment has had mixed results: the winter spinach has done quite well, but slugs ate most of the rainbow chard, there’s a couple of daikon (mooli) and a single turnip growing too. I planted a row of peas to add a bit of nitrogen to the soil, and scattered some wood ash as I’d read that it can deter slugs and add potassium to the soil. I started some more chard in the greenhouse that seems to be doing reasonably well, but the cabbage and kale failed, which is disappointing as leafy greens are one of the few cravings I’ve had during this pregnancy.
I really love the “embery” months from September to February with the contrast of wrapping up in coats and boots to venture outside and making ourselves cosy at home with blankets and candles, and this Halloween weekend has been full of simple, seasonal pleasures. Happy Halloween, and have a lovely week. X
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