Summer into Autumn

Summer into Autumn

The sun seems to be rising a little later and setting a little earlier every day, and though the weather is still mild most days, there’s a chill creeping into the mornings and evenings as summer slips into autumn.

This summer has been a memorable one for us full of family adventures from trips to the beach, zoo and aquarium, as well as local toddler sensory classes (full of themed activities and songs), and a summer block of wheelie tots, where our daughter got to try balance bikes, skateboards and scooters which were such a hit that we bought her a scooter soon after. Apart from daytrips and toddler groups, the rest of our time together is usually spent at the local parks or pottering around at home filling our days with nursery rhymes, scribbling with crayons, building blocks, lots of rough and tumble play, or letting her help me with some housework like loading the washing machine, watering the plants, refilling the bird feeder or feeding our cat, Mara.

Our little girl is so curious and adventurous, she’s on-the-go from the moment she wakes up until bedtime, and I wouldn’t have her any other way. She started talking in July, her first proper word was “cracker” (her favourite snack), quickly followed by cat, car, shoes, bubble, bee, more and no, and she’s been adding words to her vocabularly every day.

Mara-cat gave us quite a scare a few months ago when she suddenly became ill with a fever – and we still don’t know what caused it – but she seems to have recovered and is back to her usual cuddly, playful self. During the heatwave, she spent most of her days alternating between sunbathing and trying to cool down, but now that the temperatures have dropped again, she’s been back to snuggling up with me in the evenings, which is always one of the highlights of my day.

Though this has been a good one, summer is my least favourite season, it’s as often hot, humid and wet as it is warm and sunny with blue skies, and I’m already looking forward to the transient beauty of autumn and the cosy times ahead. Have a lovely week. X

My little blog turns five!

Taking some time at the end of a busy weekend full of birthday celebrations, a trip to the beach and my daughter’s first toddler sensory class to write a quick post as this weekend also coincides with the fifth anniversary of my little blog. A quick tally reveals that since I nervously hit publish on that very first (and slightly cringesome) post, I’ve shared over 220 posts including 19 recipes and almost 100 book reviews. More than anything else though, my blog has always been a record of life and I’ve written about my family and cat, our home and garden, the places and events we’ve visited.

I don’t share everything that goes on but I also don’t feel the pressure to pretend my life is perfect as I’ve found that it’s often the frustrations and sorrows, the challenges and changes that give me a sense of perspective for how much I still have to be grateful for.

When I first started blogging, I had no idea I’d still be writing it five years later or how my life would change in that time. I love being part of the blogging community, I’ve found so many inspiring and entertaining bloggers writing about so many different topics that I’m still slightly surprised that others are interested in reading what I write, but I’m always thankful to everyone who takes the time to like and comment on my posts. Thank you for reading, and wishing you all a lovely week. X

Sculpture Trail at Cairnhill Woods

Last week was a busy one for our family as I started my phased return back to work after almost 14 months off on maternity leave, and our 13 month old daughter had her taster sessions and first full day at nursery. It’s a big transition for all of us but one that I’m feeling positive about as our daughter will get to play and socialise with other toddlers during her three days at nursery, something she’s missed out on through national and local lockdowns over the last twelve months. I couldn’t be prouder or more relieved about how quickly she’s settled into nursery, and I’ve so enjoyed getting photos and little updates about her snacks, lunch, naps and activities through the day from the nursery staff, and she brought home her first stamped artwork for Mother’s Day much to my delight.

As we adjust to our new routines, I feel we’ve got a good balance between work, nursery and family time, and despite the lockdown we’re still enjoying little adventures together.

We recently took a wander around Cairnhill Woods for a change of scene from our local parks. Even on a cold, grey day with the trees still bare and the paths muddy, it was a pleasant place to explore and I was delighted to see so many signs of spring in the forest from frog spawn in the little pond to daffodils, crocuses and primroses lining the paths. The highlight of the trip though was finding all the wonderful wooden sculptures hidden around the forest, from toadstools and fairies to the Green Man and various animals, and as Cairnhill Woods is near Bearsden we also spotted lots of bear sculptures.

It was a short walk but one we all enjoyed, and somewhere I look forward to visiting again when it’ll be lush and green. Take care and have a lovely week. X

One ~ A Lockdown First Birthday

Last week we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday at home with balloons, decorations, music, lots of presents, and a few inches of snow courtesty of Storm Darcy.

Fair haired with grey-blue eyes like mine, but bearing a strong resemblance to her dad at the same age, she is part of me, part of my husband, and all of those that came before us, yet every day becoming more and more herself. Our daughter is strong-willed, curious and cuddly with such a cheerful, sunny disposition (most of the time!). It’s incredible to compare the difference between the tiny, squirming newborn who could barely lift her head a year ago and the boisterous infant now standing unsupported, so close to taking her first steps, and saying her first words (“mmmum” and “hiya Rara” ❤️).

I’ve tried to record her first year on the blog, noting significant milestones, and yet they’ve come so thick and fast from the first smiles and giggles to sitting up, rolling, crawling, standing and now crabwalking around the furniture, her first teeth and solid foods (she’s turned out to be quite the adventurous little epicurean whose favourite foods include enchiladas and paneer/tofu masala, as well as the more mundane cherry tomatoes, peas and fruit).

Along the way, there have been moments I’d rather forget too: a surreal and scary trip to A&E after she had a reaction to her first set of immunisations at six weeks old during the first lockdown, struggles with breastfeeding, getting to grips with her silent reflux and a suspected lactose intolerance.

In the absence of baby groups and playdates, I’ve been looking for ways to keep our inquisitive and lively daughter entertained at home, we’ve built a den filled with teddies in the corner between our couches, her old bath has been turned into a ballpit, we’ve created tunnels out of cardboard boxes, and her big present from us was a swing in the garden. We’ve spent happy hours building towers out of blocks for her to topple like a little Godzilla, bouncing around to her favourite songs with rattles and shakers, and chasing each other around the coffee table. There have been more walks than I can count, at least one every day whatever the weather, trying to make up for the fact that her world is so much smaller and more local than it should be. I do feel that my daughter and I have missed out in some ways, but I hope that she’s also benefitted from having both parents at home for her first full year.

My blog has always been a record of family life capturing the highs, lows and all the ordinary moments in between. In 2020 it felt even more important to document it all because it was such a strange year when life as we knew it was completely disrupted, but caring for our daughter kept us grounded in the present and reminded us just how fortunate we are.

Now approaching the end of my maternity leave, I’m full of nerves about returning to work and anxious about how our daughter will settle into childcare, but I hope we will find our way – or at least muddle through – just as we have together up to now. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

The End of Summer

TheEndofSummer

Our garden has been a bit neglected this summer as we’ve been enjoying day trips and little adventures around Scotland from rambling walks along the coast to picnics in castle ruins, though we’ve spent a few sunny afternoons in the garden playing with our wee daughter too.

TheEndofSummer2

After a warm and sunny spring, a cool, wet July meant most of my broccoli bolted, and slugs devoured my squashes and courgettes one by one. My husband has had a bit more success with blueberries and Japanese wineberries, but less luck with raspberries, tayberries and white currants. Having said that, we’re leaning towards growing more fruit (strawberries, apples, plums and rhubarb) than veg in future.

SummerBerries

Unfortunately, we’ve had to let our neighbours know that a furry, little family of four rats have moved in under their decking after we spotted them scurrying back and forth under the fence to eat at our bird feeder.

Rats

We’re in the process of changing the layout of the garden, trying to make the best use of space by replacing the fence, moving the washing line, replanting the flower borders and removing a couple of raised beds, as well as planting more fruit trees, but still leaving plenty of space for our little one to play when she’s older. Our garden has always felt like an extension of our home, and changes as our needs do.

It’s been noticeably colder and darker in the evenings lately, and the sunflowers are still providing some late summer cheer but our garden is looking a bit bedraggled. I noticed some of the trees in the park are already turning from summer green to autumnal reds on a family walk this week, and I’m ready to embrace the changing beauty and coziness of autumn. Have a lovely week. X

The Wait is Over… ❤

Born in 2020

February is not a month I usually look forward to as it’s often a cold and dreary end to the winter, but this year it’s been very special indeed, as we welcomed our daughter into the world.

I expected to hate being pregnant but I was lucky to have a straightforward, easy pregnancy. I had a few extra ultrasound scans, and I’ll never forget the first time we saw our baby on the screen at just 8 weeks looking like a little gingerbread man with oversized head, truncated limbs and most importantly a flickering heartbeat. I’ve felt our baby swimming around my tummy like a little mermaid, a squirming fidget tickling me from the inside, and a master of hide and seek who could be so still at times that I was scared our dream was over before it had begun.

Our fair-haired, blue-eyed daughter was born on a cold and stormy Friday evening after a relatively quick 20 hour labour, and I’ll be eternally grateful to the doctors and midwives who helped deliver her safely.

It feels like we’ve waited a long time to meet our baby. Now the wait is over, my husband and I are starting to find our way as parents, we’re already seeing glimpses of our daughter’s temperament and we’re so looking forward to getting to know her properly.

Born in 2020 cards

We’ve spent the last week in a cosy, little bubble at home while Storms Ciara and Dennis raged outside, welcoming visitors who braved the winds, sleet, hail and snow to meet the newest addition to our little family, and just enjoying the novelty of it all. Have a lovely week. X

2009 – 2019 Reflections

2009-2019 Mara

We’ve reached the end of another year and a whole decade to boot, and I’ve been reflecting on how much my life has changed in that time:

  • Ten years ago, I moved to Glasgow;
  • Eight years ago, I passed my driving test and returned to university to study a post-graduate qualification that led to my current career;
  • Six years ago, my then boyfriend and I moved in together, and got engaged shortly after;
  • Four years ago, we were married and adopted our cat, Mara;
  • Three years ago, we bought our house, and I started this blog.
  • In the last ten years, I’ve traveled to Budapest, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome, Dublin, Iceland (twice!), Japan, New York and Oslo as well as various places around Great Britain.

2009-2019 Travel
Fulfilling childhood dreams of travelling to Japan and New York

It helps to have a bit of perspective because 2019 has been one of the most challenging years I’ve faced in a long time. We’ve mourned the passing of two of my husband’s relatives, and helped my nanna move into a care home. A member of my family was admitted to hospital three times and spent six months as an in-patient, and there’s a question mark over my own health after I temporarily lost vision in my left eye.

2019 highlights

It hasn’t all been bad news though, we’ve enjoyed the RSNO performing the music of Harry Potter, supported our local team at a rugby match, visited the Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo and the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry to list just a few of the most memorable moments. We’ve both changed jobs, with my husband returning to the NHS after a stint in the private sector and self-employment, and I returned to the front lines of social services after a secondment in a finance driven role. The biggest change is still on the horizon, and all being well, we’ll meet our baby in just a few weeks.

I don’t have any grand plans or ambitions for the next decade and I can’t imagine what 2020 will hold, yet I hope I’ll continue to love, learn, travel and practice gratitude whatever happens. Wishing everyone a very happy New Year. X

Twists and Turns

Today is the start of autumn according to the meteorological calendar, and I’ve been taking some time to reflect on the year so far. It’s been a turbulent one for us, full of changes and unexpected challenges as both my husband and I started new jobs, a member of my family spent four and a half months in hospital, I temporarily lost sight in my left eye, there were two deaths in my husband’s family, and my 92-year-old nanna moved into a care home. Yet in the midst of all the stress, sorrow and upheaval, we received one piece of very welcome good news – we’re expecting a baby in February. I’m not one to count my chickens before they’ve hatched but with every passing week, we feel more hopeful and excited about starting this new chapter of our lives.

Twists and Turns

Our journey to parenthood has taken longer than expected, long enough for ten colleagues, three close friends, two cousins and my sister-in-law to announce their own pregnancies and welcome their babies into the world; long enough for us to be diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”; and long enough for us to imagine that children of our own might not be in our future at all. Our little miracle has taken longer than expected, but we’re so looking forward to meeting them.

Twists and Turns2

I haven’t written about this before – and I’m very aware of how lucky we are – but too often online we only see the celebrations and successes from the graduations, new jobs and new homes to the engagements, weddings and baby announcements without any context or mention of the hard work, stress or uncertainty that often preceded them. Yet there have been so many times over the years that I’ve drawn comfort and inspiration from seeing how others have coped with and overcome adversity, from illness and infertility to redundancy, divorce and grief. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, I’ve been humbled more time than I can count but I’ve been overwhelmed with joy and gratitude just as often. Have a lovely week. X